J. V. Stalin

Speech delivered at the Congress of the Finnish Scoial-Democratic Labour Party, Helsingfors

November 14, 1917

Source : Works, Vol. 4, November, 1917 - 1920
Publisher : Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow, 1953
Transcription/Markup : Salil Sen for MIA, 2009
Public Domain : Marxists Internet Archive (2009). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit "Marxists Internet Archive" as your source.

Comrades, I have been delegated to greet you on behalf of the workers' revolution in Russia, which is shaking the capitalist system to its foundations. I have come to you to greet your Congress on behalf of the Workers' and Peasants' Government of Russia, the Council of People's Commissars, which was born in the fire of this revolution.

But I have not only come to bring you greetings. I should like first of all to bring you the joyful news of the victories of the Russian revolution, of the disorganization of its enemies, and to tell you that in the atmosphere of the expiring imperialist war the chances of the revolution are improving day by day.

The bondage of landlordism has been broken, for power in the countryside has passed into the hands of the peasants. The power of the generals has been broken, for power in the army is now concentrated in the hands of the soldiers. A curb has been put on the capitalists, for workers' control is rapidly being established over the factories, mills and banks. The whole country, town and countryside, rear and front, is studded with revolutionary committees of workers, soldiers and peasants, which are taking the reins of government into their own hands.

They tried to scare us with the bogey of Kerensky and the counter-revolutionary generals. But Kerensky has been driven out, and the generals are besieged by the soldiers and Cossacks, who also support the demands of the workers and peasants.

They tried to scare us with the bogey of famine, and prophesied that the Soviet regime would perish in the grip of a disrupted food supply. But we had only to curb the profiteers, we had only to appeal to the peasants, and grain began to flow to the towns in hundreds of thousands of poods.

They tried to scare us with the bogey of a breakdown of the machinery of state, sabotage by officials, and so on. And we knew ourselves that the new, socialist government would not be able simply to take over the old, bourgeois state machine and make it its own. But we had only to set about renovating the old machine, purging it of anti-social elements, and the sabotage began to melt away.

They tried to scare us with the bogey of war "surprises," the possibility of the imperialist cliques creating complications in connection with our proposal for a democratic peace. And, indeed, there was a danger, a mortal danger. But that danger arose after the capture of Osel, 1 when the Kerensky Government was preparing to flee to Moscow and surrender Petrograd, and when the British and German imperialists were making a deal for peace at the expense of Russia. On the basis of such a peace the imperialists could indeed have wrecked the cause of the Russian and, perhaps, of the international revolution. But the October Revolution came in time. It took the cause of peace into its own hands, it struck the most dangerous weapon from the hands of international imperialism and thus saved the revolution from mortal peril. The old wolves of imperialism were left with one of two alternatives: either to bow to the revolutionary movement that is flaring up in all countries, by accepting peace, or to carry on the struggle by continuing the war. But to continue the war in its fourth year, when the whole world is suffocating in its grip, when the "imminent" winter campaign is arousing a storm of indignation among the soldiers of all countries, and when the filthy secret treaties have already been published—to continue the war under such circumstances means to doom oneself to obvious failure. This time the old wolves of imperialism have miscalculated. And that is why the bogey of imperialist "surprises" does not scare us.

Lastly, they tried to scare us with the bogey of the disintegration of Russia, of its splitting up into numerous independent states and hinted thereby that the right of nations to self-determination proclaimed by the Council of People's Commissars was a "fatal mistake." But I must declare most categorically that we would not be democrats (I say nothing of socialism!) if we did not recognize the right of the peoples of Russia to free self-determination. I declare that we would be betraying socialism if we did not do everything to restore-fra-ternal confidence between the workers of Finland and Russia. But everyone knows that the restoration of this confidence is inconceivable unless the right of the Finnish people to free self-determination is firmly recognized. And it is not merely the verbal, even if official, recognition of this right that is important here. What is important is that this verbal recognition will be confirmed by the act of the Council of People's Commissars, that it will be put into effect without hesitation. For the time for words has passed. The time has come when the old slogan "Workers of all countries, unite!" must be put into effect.

Complete freedom for the Finnish people, and for the other peoples of Russia, to arrange their own life! A voluntary and honest alliance of the Finnish people with the Russian people! No tutelage, no supervision from above, over the Finnish people! These are the guiding principles of the policy of the Council of People's Commissars.

Only as the result of such a policy can mutual confidence among the peoples of Russia be created. Only on the basis of such confidence can the peoples of Russia be united in one army. Only by thus uniting the peoples can the gains of the October Revolution be consolidated and the cause of the international socialist revolution advanced.

That is why we smile when we are told that Russia will inevitably fall to pieces if the idea of the right of nations to self-determination is put into practice.

These are the difficulties with which our enemies have tried and are still trying to scare us, but which we are overcoming as the revolution grows.

Comrades! Information has reached us that your country is experiencing approximately the same crisis of power as Russia experienced on the eve of the October Revolution. Information has reached us that attempts are being made to frighten you too with the bogey of famine, sabotage, and so on. Permit me to tell you on the basis of the practical experience of the revolutionary movement in Russia that these dangers, even if real, are by no means insuperable! These dangers can be overcome if you act resolutely and without faltering. In the midst of war and economic disruption, in the midst of the revolutionary movement which is flaring up in the West and of the increasing victories of the workers' revolution in Russia, there are no dangers or difficulties that could withstand your onslaught. In such a situation only one power, socialist power, can maintain itself and conquer. In such a situation only one kind of tactics can be effective, the tactics of Danton — audacity, audacity and again audacity!

And if you should need our help, you will have it — we shall extend you a fraternal hand.

Of this you may rest assured.


1. On September 29, 1917, the Germans began landing forces on Osel, Dago and other Baltic islands at the entrance to the Gulf of Riga.