The Extraordinary All-Russia Congress Of Soviets Of Peasants' Deputies



Speech On
The Agrarian Question November 14 (27)

Newspaper Report

On the instructions of the Bolshevik group, Comrade Lenin delivered a speech setting forth the views of the Bolshevik Party on the agrarian question.

He said that the Party of Socialist-Revolutionaries had suffered defeat over the agrarian question, since it had advocated the confiscation of the landed estates, but refused to carry it into effect.

Landed proprietorship forms the basis of feudal oppression, and the confiscation of the landed estates is the first step of the revolution in Russia. But the land question cannot be settled independently of the other problems of the revolution. A correct view of these problems can be derived from an analysis of the stages through which the revolution has passed. The first stage was the overthrow of the autocracy and the establishment of the power of the bourgeoisie and the landowners. The interests of the landowners were closely interwoven with those of the bourgeoisie and the banks. The second stage was the consolidation of the Soviets and a policy of compromise with the bourgeoisie. The mistake of the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries was that at that time they failed to oppose the policy of compromise on the plea that the masses were not sufficiently enlightened. A party is the vanguard of a class, and its duty is to lead the masses and not merely to reflect the average political level of the masses. But in order to lead those who vacillate the Left Socialist-Revolutionary comrades must themselves stop vacillating.

Comrades Left Socialist-Revolutionaries! In July there began a period in which the masses of the people started breaking away from the policy of compromise, but to this very day the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries are stretching out a hand to the Avksentyevs, while offering the workers only their little finger. If compromise continues, the revolution is doomed. Only if the peasantry supports the workers can the problems of the revolution be solved. Compromise is an attempt on the part of the masses of workers, peasants and soldiers to get their needs satisfied by means of reforms, by concessions on the part of capital, without a socialist revolution. But it is impossible to give the people peace and land without overthrowing the bourgeoisie, without socialism. It is the duty of the revolution to put an end to compromise, and to put an end to compromise means taking the path of socialist revolution.

Comrade Lenin went on to defend the instructions to the volost committees[2] and spoke of the necessity of breaking with the leading organs, such as the army committees, the Executive Committee of the Peasants' Deputies, etc. We adopted our law on the volost committees, he said, from the peasants. The peasants want land and the prohibition of hired labour; they want implements for the cultivation of the soil. And this cannot be obtained without defeating capital. You want land, we said to them, but the land is mortgaged and belongs to Russian and world capital. You are throwing down a challenge to capital, you are following a different path from ours; but we are at one with you in that we are marching, and must march, towards the social revolution. As for the Constituent Assembly, the speaker said that its work will depend on the mood in the country, but he added, trust in the mood, but don't forget your rifles.

Comrade Lenin went on to deal with the question of the war. When he referred to the removal of Dukhonin and the appointment of Krylenko as Commander-in-Chief, there was laughter among the audience. It may be funny to you, he retorted, but the soldiers will condemn you for this laughter. If there are people here who think it funny that we removed a counter-revolutionary general and appointed Krylenko, who is against the general and has gone to conduct negotiations,[3] we have nothing to say to them. We have nothing in common with those who do not recognise the need to fight the counter-revolutionary generals. Rather than have anything to do with such people we prefer to retire from power, go underground if necessary.

First Published in 1933 in Pravda No. 190
28 November 1917
Published according to the Pravda text