How a Simple Question Can Be Confused

Written April 22 (May 5), 1917.

Commenting on the resolution of the Central Committee of April 20 concerning the necessity of transferring power to the revolutionary proletariat “with the support of the majority of the people”, today’s Dyen writes:

“Very simple, then what’s the hitch? Instead of passing resolutions, come and take the power.”

We have here a typical example of the methods used by the bourgeois press. People pretend not to understand the simplest thing, and ensure themselves—on paper—an easy victory. Anybody who says “take the power” should not have to think long to realise that an attempt to do so without as yet having the backing of the majority of the people would be adventurism or Blanquism (Pravda has made a special point of warning against this in the clearest, most unmistakable and unequivocal terms). [See also: Blanquism]

There is a degree of freedom now in Russia that enables the will of the majority to be gauged by the make-up of the Soviets. Therefore, to make a serious, not a Blanquist, bid for power, the proletarian party must fight for influence within the Soviets.

All this has been gone over and hammered out by Pravda again and again, and only stupidity or malice can fail to grasp it. Let the reader judge for himself to which of these two unenviable categories Rabochaya Gazeta belongs when it describes the “recommendation” (made to the Soviet) “to take power into its own hands” as “irresponsible provocation”, as “demagogy, devoid of all sense of political responsibility, light-heartedly urging democrats towards civil strife and war, and inciting the workers and soldiers not only against the government but against the Soviet itself” and so on.

Can one imagine a worse muddle than this, when the blame on the question of demagogy is laid at the wrong door?

Prime Minister Lvov is reported by the evening paper Birzheviye Vedomosti for April 21 as having said literally the following:

“Up till now the Provisional Government has invariably met with the support of the Soviet’s leading organ. During the last fortnight these relations have changed. The Provisional Government is suspect.Under the circumstances it is in no position to administer the state, as it is difficult to do anything in an atmosphere of distrust and discontent. Under such circumstances it would be best for the Provisional Government to resign. It is fully alive to its responsibility towards the country, in whose interests it is prepared to resign immediately if need be.”

Is this not clear? Is it possible not to understand why, after such a speech, our Central Committee proposed that a public opinion poll be held?

What have “civil war”, “provocation”, “demagogy” and similar frightening words to do with it, when the Prime Minister himself declares the government’s readiness “to resign” and recognises the Soviet as the “leading organ”?

One or the other: either Rabochaya Gazeta believes that in making such statements Lvov is misleading the people, in which case it should not urge confidence in and support of the government, but no confidence and no support; or Rabochaya Gazeta believes that Lvov is really “prepared to resign”, in which case, why all this outcry about civil war?

If Rabochaya Gazeta understands the situation correctly, understands that the capitalists are raising a hullabaloo about civil war in order to cover up their desire to flout the ’will of the majority by means of force, then why this outcry on the part of the newspaper?

Lvov is entitled to ask the Soviet to approve and accept his policy. Our Party is entitled to ask the Soviet to approve and accept our, proletarian, policy. To speak of “provocation” and so on is to reveal an utter lack of understanding of what it is all about or to sink to base demagogy. We are entitled to fight for influence and for a majority in the Soviet and the Soviets, and we are going to fight for them. We repeat:

We shall favour the transfer of power to the proletarians and semi-proletarians only when the Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies adopt our policy and are willing to take the power into their own hands.”[1]

[Resolution of the C.C. of the R.S.D.L.P. of April 22, 1917]

Source: Marxist Internet Archive