J. V. Stalin
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.
We have received a document entitled "Theses and Resolution of the Central Committee" of the Menshevik Party (October 17-21, 1918). This document sums up the activities of the Soviet Government since October 1917 and formulates certain future prospects which are apparently of great moment for the development of the Menshevik Party. But the most valuable thing in the document is the conclusions it draws, for they refute the whole practical activity of the Mensheviks in the year of revolution. We consider it necessary here and now to give the reader certain of our impressions, postponing an analysis of the "Theses and Resolution" to another occasion.
Exactly a year ago, the country was languishing in the throes of imperialist war and economic disruption. The armies at the front, weary and exhausted by suffering, were no longer capable of fighting. Meanwhile, the British imperialists (Buchanan!) were more and more getting the country into their toils and trying in every way to keep it in the imperialist war. Riga had been sur-rendered 1 and preparations were being made to surrender St. Petersburg too, merely in order to prove the necessity of the war and of a military dictatorship. The bourgeoisie realized all this, and were openly working for a military dictatorship and the crushing of the revolution.
What were the Bolsheviks doing at that time?
The Bolsheviks were preparing for revolution. They considered that the only way out of the blind alley of war and economic disruption was for the proletariat to take power. They considered that without such a revolution, a break with imperialism and the deliverance of Russia from its clutches was inconceivable. They convened a Congress of Soviets, as the sole heir to power in the country.
First revolution, then peace!
What were the Mensheviks doing at that time?
They stigmatized the Bolsheviks' "undertaking" as "counter-revolutionary adventurism." They considered the Congress of Soviets unnecessary and tried to prevent its convocation, and dubbed the Soviets themselves "antiquated huts" which were doomed to be broken up. Instead of these Soviet "huts," they proposed a "permanent building" of the "European" type—the Pre-parliament, 2 where they, in conjunction with Mi-lyukov, elaborated plans for "radical agrarian and economic reforms." Instead of a break with imperialism, they proposed an Allied conference in Paris as a possible way out of the war. To them, a "consistent peace policy" meant the attendance of Menshevik Skobelev at this conference and the dubious efforts of Menshevik Axelrod to convene a congress of the Scheidemanns, Renaudels and Hyndmans.
Since then a year has passed. The "Bolshevik revolution" has succeeded in sweeping away the crafty machinery of the home and foreign imperialists. For Russia, the old imperialist war has become a memory. She has thrown off the yoke of imperialism. She is conducting, and hopes to continue conducting, an independent foreign policy. It is now clear to all that, without the October Revolution, Russia would not have extricated herself from the blind alley of imperialist war, the peasants would not have received land, and the workers would not be managing the mills and factories.
What do the Mensheviks, their Central Committee, say now? Listen to them:
"The Bolshevik revolution of October 1917 was a historical necessity, since, by breaking the links between the labouring masses and the capitalist classes, it expressed the desire of the labouring masses to subordinate the trend of the revolution wholly to their own interests, without which the deliverance of Russia from the clutches of Allied imperialism, the pursuance of a consistent peace policy, the introduction of radical agrarian reform, and the regulation by the state of the entire economic life in the interests of the masses would have been inconceivable, and since this stage of the revolution has had the tendency to enlarge also the scope of the influence which the Russian revolution had on the course of world developments" (see "Theses and Resolution").
That is what the Menshevik Central Committee says now.
Incredible, but a fact. The "Bolshevik revolution was," it appears, "a historical necessity," "without which the deliverance of Russia from the clutches of Allied imperialism," the "pursuance of a consistent peace policy," the "introduction of radical agrarian reform" and the "regulation by the state of the entire economic life in the interests of the masses" "would have been inconceivable."
But that is just what the Bolsheviks affirmed a year ago, and what the Menshevik Central Committee opposed so fiercely!
Yes, just that.
Life, you see, teaches and corrects the most incorrigible. It is all-powerful and gets its way in spite of everything. . . .
Some ten months ago the Constituent Assembly was about to meet, and the utterly routed bourgeois counterrevolutionaries were again mustering their forces and rubbing their hands in glee in anticipation of the "downfall" of Soviet power. The foreign imperialist (Allied) press hailed the Constituent Assembly. The Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries were arranging "private" conferences and elaborating a plan for the transfer of power from the Soviets to the Constituent Assembly, the "master of the land of Russia." Regeneration of the "honest coalition" and correction of the Bolsheviks' "blunders" loomed in the offing.
What were the Bolsheviks doing at that time?
They were continuing the work already begun of establishing the power of the proletariat. They considered that the "honest coalition" and its organ, the bourgeois-democratic Constituent Assembly, were doomed by history, because they were aware that a new force had appeared on the scene—the power of the proletariat, and a new form of government—the Republic of Soviets. In the early part of 1917 the slogan of a Constituent Assembly was a progressive one, and the Bolsheviks supported it. At the end of 1917, after the October Revolution, the slogan of a Constituent Assembly became reactionary, because it ceased to correspond to the altered relative strength of the contending political forces in the country. The Bolsheviks considered that in the circumstances of the imperialist war in Europe and the victorious proletarian revolution in Russia, only two kinds of power were conceivable: either a dictatorship of the proletariat, in the shape of a Republic of Soviets, or a dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, in the shape of a military dictatorship—and that any attempt to steer a middle course and resurrect the Constituent Assembly would inevitably lead to a return to the old, reactionary regime, the liquidation of the October conquests. The Bolsheviks had no doubt that bourgeois parliamentarism and a bourgeois-democratic republic represented a past stage of the revolution....*
Since then ten months have elapsed. The Constituent Assembly, which attempted to put an end to Soviet power, was dissolved. The peasants in the country did not even notice its dissolution, while the workers acclaimed it with jubilation. One section of supporters of the Constituent Assembly went to the Ukraine and called in the aid of the German imperialists against the Soviets. Another section of supporters of the Constituent Assembly went to the Caucasus and found consolation in the arms of the Turkish and German imperialists. Still another section of supporters of the Constituent Assembly went to Samara and, in conjunction with the British and French imperialists, waged war on the workers and peasants of Russia. The slogan of a Constituent Assembly was thus turned into a bait for political simpletons and a screen for the fight of the home and foreign counterrevolutionaries against the Soviets.
How did the Mensheviks behave at that time?
They fought the Soviet power and consistently supported the now counter-revolutionary slogan of a Constituent Assembly.
What do the Mensheviks, their Central Committee, say now? Listen to them:
It "rejects all political collaboration with classes hostile to the democracy, and refuses to have any part in government combinations, even though hidden behind a democratic flag, that are based upon ‘countrywide' coalitions of the democracy and the capitalist bourgeoisie or upon dependence on foreign imperialism and militarism" (see the "Theses").
"All attempts by the revolutionary democracy, with the backing of the urban non-proletarian masses and the labouring masses of the countryside, to re-establish a democratic republic by means of an armed struggle against the Soviet Government and the masses which support it, have been and are being accompanied, owing to the character of the international situation and the political immaturity of the Russian democratic petty bourgeoisie, by such a re-grouping of social forces as tends to undermine the very revolutionary significance itself of the struggle for the re-establishment of a democratic system, and involves a direct threat to the fundamental socialist gains of the revolution. The desire for agreement with the capitalist classes at all costs and for the utilization of foreign weapons in the struggle for power deprives the policy of the revolutionary democracy of all independence and converts it into a tool of these classes and imperialist coalitions" (see "Theses and Resolution").
In a word, coalition is "rejected" emphatically and unreservedly, and the fight for a democratic republic and a Constituent Assembly is recognized as counterrevolutionary, since it "involves a direct threat to the fundamental socialist gains of the revolution."
There can be only one conclusion: Soviet power, the dictatorship of the proletariat, is the only conceivable revolutionary power in Russia.
But that is just what the Bolsheviks have been of-firming all along, and what the Mensheviks were only yesterday opposing!
Yes, just that.
The logic of facts, you see, is stronger than all other logic, the Menshevik not excluded. . . .
It is a fact that after a year of fighting against Bolshevik "adventurism," the Menshevik Central Committee is forced to admit that the "Bolshevik revolution" of October 1917 was a "historical necessity."
It is a fact that after a long fight for a Constituent Assembly and an "honest coalition," the Men-shevik Central Committee, although unwillingly and reluctantly, is forced to recognize as unsuitable a "countrywide" coalition and as counter-revolutionary the struggle for the "re-establishment of the democratic system" and the Constituent Assembly.
True, this recognition comes a year late, after the counter-revolutionary character of the Constituent Assembly slogan and the historical necessity of the October Revolution have become commonplace truths — a tardiness utterly unbefitting the Menshevik Central Committee, which lays claim to a leading role in the revolution. But such is the fate of the Mensheviks: this is not the first time they are lagging behind events, and not the last time, we presume, that they are parading in old Bolshevik breeches. . . .
It might be thought that after such an admission on the part of the Menshevik Central Committee, there should be no more room for serious differences. Nor would there be, if we were dealing not with the Menshe-vik Central Committee, but with consistent revolutionaries capable of thinking things out to their conclusion and knowing what follows from what. But the whole trouble is that we are dealing here with a party of petty-bourgeois intellectuals who are for ever vacillating between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, between revolution and counter-revolution. Hence the inevitable contradictions between the word and the deed, the perpetual uncertainty and mental waverings.
Just listen to this! The Menshevik Central Committee, you see:
"Continues to regard popular rule, unlimited democracy, as the political form in which alone the social emancipation of the proletariat can be worked for and realized. It looks upon a democratic republic, organized by a freely-elected and sovereign Constituent Assembly, and upon universal and equal suffrage, etc., not only as a means of politically educating the masses and uniting the proletariat as a class in support of its own interests, a means for which no substitute has been found, but also as the only soil on which a socialist proletariat can carry on its work of social creation" (see "Theses and Resolution").
Incredible, but a fact. On the one hand, a "struggle for the re-establishment of a democratic system," it appears, "involves" a "direct threat to the fundamental socialist gains of the revolution," in view of which it is proclaimed counter-revolutionary; on the other, the Menshevik Central Committee "continues" to declare itself for the already buried "sovereign Constituent Assembly"! Or perhaps the Menshevik Central Committee thinks that a Constituent Assembly can be achieved without an "armed struggle"? But in that case, what about the "historical necessity of the Bolshevik revolution," which discarded the "sovereign Constituent Assembly"?
Or further. The Menshevik Central Committee demands nothing more nor less than:
"The abolition of extraordinary agencies of police repression and extraordinary tribunals" and "the cessation of political and economic terror" (see "Theses and Resolution").
On the one hand, it recognizes the "historical necessity" of the dictatorship of the proletariat, whose function it is to suppress the resistance of the bourgeoisie, and, on the other, it demands the abolition of certain very important instruments of power without which this suppression is inconceivable! But in that case, what about the gains of the October Revolution, which the bourgeoisie is combating by every means, including the organization of terrorist actions and criminal conspiracies? How can one recognize the October Revolution as a "historical necessity," without recognizing the results and consequences that inevitably follow from it?!
Will the Menshevik Central Committee ever extricate itself from this involved petty-bourgeois muddle?
Incidentally, it does try to extricate itself from it. Listen to this:
Standing for the re-establishment of a united and independent Russia on the basis of the gains of the revolution won by the efforts of the democracy itself, and repudiating, therefore, all interference on the part of foreign capitalists in Russia's domestic affairs," the Menshevik Party "is in political solidarity with the Soviet Government, inasmuch as the latter stands for the liberation of the territory of Russia from occupation, in particular foreign occupation, and opposes these attempts of the non-proletarian democracy to extend or preserve the area of occupation. But this political solidarity in the matter of imperialist intervention could lead to direct support of the military actions of the Soviet Government for the liberation of the occupied territories of Russia only if this Government were to display a real readiness to build its relations with the non-Bolshevik democracy in the border regions on a basis of mutual agreement, and not of suppression and terror" (see "Theses and Resolution").
Thus, instead of fighting the Soviet power—"agreement" with it.
"Political solidarity with the Soviet Government." . . . We do not know how complete this solidarity is, but need it be said that the Bolsheviks will not object to the solidarity of the Menshevik Central Committee with the Soviet power? We are fully alive to the difference between solidarity with the Soviet Government and solidarity, say, with the "Constituent Assembly" members in Samara.
"Direct support of the military actions of the Soviet Government." . . . We do not know how many troops the Menshevik Central Committee could place at the disposal of the Soviet power, what military forces it could contribute to the Soviet army. But need it be said that the Bolsheviks would only welcome military support of the Soviet power? We are fully alive to the profundity of the difference between military support of the Soviet Government and participation of the Men-sheviks, say, in the "Defence Conference" 3 during the imperialist war under Kerensky.
All that is so. But experience has taught us not to take people at their word; we are accustomed to judge parties and groups not only by their resolutions, but, and chiefly, by their deeds.
And what are the deeds of the Mensheviks?
The Mensheviks in the Ukraine have to this day not broken with Skoropadsky's counter-revolutionary government and are fighting the Soviet elements in the Ukraine with every means in their power, thus supporting the rule of the home and foreign imperialists in the South.
The Mensheviks in the Caucasus long ago formed an alliance with the landlords and capitalists, proclaimed sacred war on the supporters of the October Revolution, and called in the aid of the German imperialists.
The Mensheviks in the Urals and Siberia have made common cause with the British and French imperialists and have given, and are continuing to give, practical help in abolishing the gains of the October Revolution.
The Mensheviks in Krasnovodsk have opened the gate of the Transcaspian area to the British imperialists, helping them to suppress Soviet power in Turkestan.
Lastly, a section of the Mensheviks in European Russia preaches the necessity of "active" "struggle" against the Soviet power and organizes counter-revolutionary strikes in the rear of our army, which is shedding its blood in a war for the liberation of Russia, thus making the "support of the military actions of the Soviet Government" advocated by the Menshevik Central Committee a practical impossibility.
All these anti-socialist and counter-revolutionary Men-shevik elements in the centre and in the border regions of Russia continue to this day to consider themselves members of the Menshevik Party, whose Central Committee now solemnly proclaims its "political solidarity" with the Soviet power.
We ask :
1) What is the attitude of the Central Committee of the Menshevik Party to the above-mentioned counterrevolutionary Menshevik elements?
2) Does it intend to break with them emphatically and irrevocably?
3) Has it taken even the first step in this direction?
All these are questions to which we do not find answers either in the "resolution" of the Menshevik Central Committee or in the practical activities of the Mensheviks.
Yet it is unquestionable that only by emphatically breaking with the counter-revolutionary Menshevik elements could the Menshevik Central Committee further that "mutual agreement" which it is now advocating.
Pravda, No. 234, October 29, 1918
Signed : J. Stalin
1.Riga was surrendered to the Germans by General Kornilov on August 21, 1917.
2.The Pre-parliament, or Provisional Council of the Republic, was a consultative organ of the bourgeois Provisional Government formed from members of the Democratic Conference held in Petrograd, September 14-22, 1917. It was created by the Socialist-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks with the idea of stopping the spread of the revolution and switching the country from the path of Soviet revolution to bourgeois parliamentarism.
3.The "Defence Conference" was convened in Petrograd on August 7, 1917, by the Socialist-Revolutionary and Menshevik Central Executive Committee of the Soviets with a view to mobilizing the forces and resources of the population for the continuation of the imperialist war.