Lenin

About the Peasants in the October revolution

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lenin

THE PEASANTS OF THE OCTOBER REVOLUTION

between October 1917 and February 1918

 collection of his writings

on occasion of the 94th anniversary of Lenin

21st of January 1918 - 21st of January 2018

arranged by Wolfgang Eggers

 

 

 

 LENIN

The Tasks of the Revolution

1917 in Rabochy Put Nos. 20 and 21, October 9 and 10 (September 26 and 27), 1917
Lenin Collected Works, Volume 26, 1972, pp. 59-68

 

Land to Those Who Till it

4. The Soviet Government must immediately declare the abolition of private landed estates without compensation and place all these estates under the management of the peasant committees pending the solution of the problem by the Constituent Assembly. These peasant committees are also to take over all the landowners' stock and implements, with the proviso that they be placed primarily at the disposal of the poor peasants for their use free of charge.

Such measures, which have long been demanded by an immense majority of the peasantry, both in the resolutions of congresses and in hundreds of mandates from local peasants (as may be seen, for instance, from a summary of 242 mandates published by Izvestia Soveta Krestyanskikh Deputatov, are absolutely and urgently necessary. There must be no further procrastination like that from which the peasantry suffered so much at the time of the "coalition" government.

Any government that hesitates to introduce these measures should be regarded as a government hostile to the people that should be overthrown and crushed by an uprising of the workers and peasants. On the other hand, only a government that realises these measures will be a government of all the people.

Struggle Against Famine and Economic Ruin

5. The Soviet Government must immediately introduce workers' control of production and distribution on a nation-wide scale. Experience since May 6 has shown that in the absence of such control all the promises of reforms and attempts to introduce them are powerless, and famine, accompanied by unprecedented catastrophe is becoming a greater menace to the whole country week by week.

It is necessary to nationalise the banks and the insurance business immediately, and also the most important branches of industry (oil, coal, metallurgy, sugar, etc.), and at the same time, to abolish commercial secrets and to establish unrelaxing supervision by the workers and peasants over the negligible minority of capitalists who wax rich on government contracts and evade accounting and just taxation of their profits and property.

Such measures, which do not deprive either the middle peasants, the Cossacks or the small handicraftsmen of a single kopek, are urgently needed for the struggle against famine and are absolutely just because they distribute the burdens of the war equitably. Only after capitalist plunder has been curbed and the deliberate sabotage of production has been stopped will it be possible to work for an improvement in labour productivity, introduce universal labour conscription and the proper exchange of grain for manufactured goods, and return to the Treasury thousands of millions in paper money now being hoarded by the rich.

Without such measures, the abolition of the landed estates without compensation is also impossible, for the major part of the estates is mortgaged to the banks, so that the interests of the landowners and capitalists are inseparably linked up.

The latest resolution of the Economic Department of the All-Russia Central Executive Committee of Soviets of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies (Rabochaya Gazeta No. 152) recognises not only the "harm " caused by the government's measures (like the raising of grain prices for the enrichment of the landowners and kulaks), not only "the fact of the complete inactivity on the part of the central organs set up by the government for the regulation of economic life", but even the "contravention of the laws" by this government. This admission on the part of the ruling parties, the Socialist-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks, proves once more the criminal nature of the policy of conciliation with the bourgeoisie.

 

Struggle Against the Counter-Revolution of the Landowners and Capitalists

 

6. The Kornilov and Kaledin revolt was supported by the entire class of the landowners and capitalists, with the party of the Cadets ("people's freedom" party) at their head. This has already been fully proved by the facts published in Izvestia of the Central Executive Committee.

However, nothing has been done either to suppress this counter-revolution completely or even to investigate it, and nothing serious can be done without the transfer of power to the Soviets. No commission can conduct a full investigation, or arrest the guilty, etc., unless it holds state power. Only a Soviet government can do this, and must do it. Only a Soviet government can make Russia secure against the otherwise inevitable repetition of "Kornilov" attempts by arresting the Kornilovite generals and the ringleaders of the bourgeois counter-revolution (Guchkov, Milyukov, Ryabushinsky, Maklakov and Co.), by disbanding the counter-revolutionary associations (the State Duma, the officers' unions, etc.), by placing their members under the surveillance of the local Soviets and by disbanding counter-revolutionary armed units.

This government alone can set up a commission to make a full and public investigation of the Kornilov case and all the other cases, even those started by the bourgeoisie; and the party of the Bolsheviks, in its turn, would appeal to the workers to give full co-operation and to submit only to such a commission.

Only a Soviet government could successfully combat such a flagrant injustice as the capitalists' seizure of the largest printing presses and most of the papers with the aid of millions squeezed out of the people. It is necessary to suppress the bourgeois counter-revolutionary papers (Rech, Russkoye Slovo, presses, to declare private advertisements in the papers a state monopoly, to transfer them to the paper published by the Soviets, the paper that tells the peasants the truth. Only in this way can and must the bourgeoisie be deprived of its powerful weapon of lying and slandering, deceiving the people with impunity, misleading the peasantry, and preparing a counter-revolution.

 

 

V. I. Lenin

Socialist-Revolutionary Party

Cheats The Peasants Once Again

6 November, 1917, in Robochy Put No. 44.

Lenin’s Collected Works, Volume 26, 1972, pp. 228-233


The Socialist-Revolutionary Party has made a solemn and public announcement, in its chief newspaper, Dyelo Naroda, of October 18 and 19, that the Minister of Agriculture’s new land bill is a “major step towards the implementation of the Party’s agrarian programme”, and that the “Party’s Central Committee insistently urges all Party organisations to launch a vigorous campaign in favour of the bill and popularise it among the masses”.

Actually, however, this bill, produced by the Minister, S. L. Maslov, who is a member of the Socialist-Revolutionary Party, and summarised in Dyelo Naroda, is a fraud on the peasants. The S.R. Party has deceived the peasants: it has crawled away from its own land bill and has adopted the plan of the landowners and Cadets for a “fair assessment” and preservation of landed proprietorship. At its congresses during the first Russian revolution (1905) and the second Russian revolution (1917), the S.R. Party solemnly and publicly committed itself to the peasant demand for confiscation of the landed estates, that is, for their transfer to the peasants without compensation. Under Mr. Maslov’s present project, however, not only are the landed estates left intact but the landlord,s are also to get the “fairly” assessed rent paid by the peasants for the “leased” lands.

This bill of Mr. Maslov’s is downright betrayal of the peasants by the S.R. Party, and signifies its complete subservience to the landed proprietors. The utmost must be done, every effort must be made to drive this fact home to the widest possible sections of peasants.

On October 18, Dyelo Naroda carried Clauses 25-40 of Maslov’s bill. Here are its main points:

(1) Not all landed estates are to go into the proposed “provisional lease pool”.

(2) Landed estates are pooled by land committees set up under the law of April 21, 1917, which was issued by Prince Lvov’s government of landed proprietors.

(3) The rent paid by the peasants for these tracts is to be fixed by the land committees “in accordance with the net income” and after deduction of various payments goes to the “rightful owner”, that is, the landed proprietor.

This is a triple fraud worked on the peasants by the Socialist-Revolutionaries, and each of these three points must be dealt with in greater detail.

Izvestia Vserossiiskogo Soveta Krestyanskikh Deputatov No. 88, dated August 19, carries a “model mandate drawn up on the basis of 242 mandates submitted by deputies from various localities to the First All-Russia Congress of Soviets of Peasants’ Deputies held in Petrograd in 1917”.

This summary of 242 mandates, made by representatives of peasants in the localities, gives the best idea of what the peasants want. This summarised mandate shows very well that the project of Maslov and the SB. Party is a swindle.

The peasants are demanding the abolition of the right to private ownership of land; the conversion of all private land holdings, etc., into the property of the whole people, without compensation; the conversion of land tracts farmed on a highly efficient level (orchards, plantations, etc.) into "model farms”, their transfer to “the exclusive use of the state and the communes”; the confiscation of “all livestock and farm implements”, etc.

Such is the clear-cut statement of the peasant demands based on 242 local mandates submitted by the peasants themselves.

But the S.R. Party, having entered “a coalition” (that is, an alliance or agreement) with the bourgeoisie (the capitalists) and the landowners, and taking part in the government of capitalists and landowners, has now produced a bill which does not abolish landed property but transfers only a part of the landed estates into a provisional lease pool.

Under the bill, no orchards, plantations, beet fields, etc., can go into the lease pool! Nor can the pool include lands required “to satisfy the needs of the owner, his family, employees and workers, or to ensure the maintenance of available livestock”!

This means that the great landowner who has a sugar refinery, a potato processing plant, oil or other mill, orchards and plantations, hundreds of head of cattle and dozens of employees and workers, is to retain a great estate farmed on capitalist lines. The S.R. Party has indeed cheated the peasants with exceptional brazenness.

Landed estates, or “privately held land”, as the bill puts it, are to be transferred to the lease pool by land committees set up under the law of April 21, 1917, by the government of landed proprietors headed by Prince Lvov and Co., the selfsame government of Milynkov and Guchkov, the imperialists and plunderers of the masses, who were routed by the workers’ and soldiers’ movement in Petrograd on April 20 and 21, i.e., a full six months ago.

The land committee law issued by this government of landed proprietors is, of course, far from being a democratic (popular) law. On the contrary, it contains a whole series of outrageous departures from democracy. Take its Clause lit, which gives the “gubernia [1] land committees the right to suspend decisions of the volost and uyezd committees, pending a final ruling by the central land committee”. Under this swindling landowners’ law, the committees are so constituted that the uyezd committee is less democratic than the volost committee, the gubernia committee is less democratic than the uyezd committee, and the central committee is less democratic than the gubernia committee.

The volost land committee is entirely elected by the population of the volost . Under the law, for instance, the uyezd committee must include the local magistrate and five members of “provisional executive committees” (pending the establishment of a new local government body). The gubernia committee includes a member of the circuit court and a magistrate, and also a representative of the ministry who is appointed by the minister, etc. The central land committee consists of 27 members “invited to sit on it by the Provisional Government”! This includes one each from the 11 political parties, with the majority (6 out of 11) going to the Cadets and those to the right of them. Isn’t this an obvious swindle on the part of Lvov, Shingaryov (who signed the bill) and their friends? Isn’t this simply flouting democracy to please the landed proprietors?

Does this not bear out the repeated Bolshevik statement that the will of the peasantry can be correctly expressed and implemented only by the Soviets of Peasants’ Deputies, elected by the mass of working people and subject to recall at any time?

The Socialist-Revolutionaries, who were returned in a majority to the All-Russia Executive Committee of the Soviets of Peasants’ Deputies by the unsuspecting peasants, have now betrayed them; they have sold out the peasant Soviets, gone over to the landowners, and accepted the land committee law of Prince Lvov, the landed proprietor. Therein lies the second big fraud which the Socialist-Revolutionaries have worked on the peasants.

This makes it all the more imperative for us, the workers’ party, to reiterate the Bolshevik demand: all power in the countryside to the Soviets of Peasants’ Deputies and Agricultural Labourers’ Deputies!

The peasant mandates demand the confiscation, that is, the alienation of landed estates without compensation, and the confiscation of stud farms, private pedigree stock-breeding and poultry farms, the transfer to state use of all highly efficient farms, and the confiscation of all livestock and implements on the landed estates.

Instead, the S.R. ministerial bill treats the peasants to a preservation of rent, which is still to go into landlords’ coffers.

“Rent,” says Clause 33 of the S.R. bill, “shall be paid to the committees, which shall hand over the remainder [after various payments to the Treasury, etc.] to the rightful owner.”

That is how the “Socialist-Revolutionaries”, having cheated the peasants with fine promises, now present them with a landowner-Cadet land bill!

This is a swindle, pure and simple.

Nothing at all remains of the peasant demand for confiscation. This is not confiscation of landed estates, but consolidation of landed property by a “republican” government which assures the landowners retention of both implements and land for the maintenance of their “employees and workers”, the retention of land “designated by the landowner [it’s as easy as that!] for the planting of sugar-beet and other industrial crops”, and of payment for the rest of the land which goes into the lease pool. The land committees are turned into rent collectors for the landed gentry!

The Socialist-Revolutionaries do not abolish but consolidate landed property. It is now abundantly clear that they have betrayed the peasants and have defected to the landowners.

The sly Cadets, these loyal friends of the capitalists and landowners, must not be allowed to bring off their fraud. The Cadets make believe that the S.R. bill is terribly “revolutionary”, and there is a great outcry in all the bourgeois papers against it; they all report “opposition” on the part of the bourgeois ministers (and, of course, of their avowed hangers-on like Kerensky) to this “terrible” bill. The whole thing is a farce, a game; it is the bartering of a trader who expects to drive a harder bargain with the spineless Socialist-Revolutionaries. Actually, Maslov’s is a landowners’ bill drawn up for the express purpose of securing an agreement with them and saving them.

It is pure humbug for Dyelo Naroda to declare, as it does in these issues, that it is “an outstanding land bill inaugurating [!] a great [!!] reform in socialising [!!!] land”. There is no trace of “socialisation” in the bill (save perhaps for the “social” help given the landlord in assuring him of his rent); there is not the least trace of anything “revolutionary or democratic”; there is in fact nothing at all in it with the exception of the Irish-type “reforms”[Land reforms intiated by the British due to pressure from the radical Irish Land movement]which are a common feature of European bourgeois reformism.

Let me say this again: it is a bill to save the landowners, and to “pacify” the incipient peasant uprising by making concessions on trifles and allowing the landowners to keep what is important.

The fact that the Socialist-Revolutionaries have submitted such a mean bill to the government really shows the incredible hypocrisy of those who accuse the Bolsheviks of “frustrating” the Constituent Assembly with their plans for transferring power to the Soviets. “Only 40 days till the Constituent Assembly”—Cadets, capitalists, landowners, Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries, all have joined in this hypocritical cry. Meanwhile, they slip the government a sweeping land bill, swindling the peasants, saddling them with landlords, consolidating landed property.

When it comes to supporting the landowners against the mounting peasant uprising, a sweeping bill can be rushed through 40 and even 30 days before the Constituent Assembly is due to meet.

When it comes to transferring all power to the Soviets in order to hand over all the land to the peasants, at once abolish landed property and at once offer a just peace, then Cadets, capitalists, landowners, Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries all join in the howl against the Bolsheviks.

The peasants must know how they have been cheated and betrayed to the landowners by the Socialist-Revolutionary Party.

The peasants must know that it is only the workers’ party, the Bolsheviks, who are prepared to stand to the last for the interests of the poor peasants and all working people against the capitalists and the landowners.

October 20, 1917.

 

_________

Footnotes

[1] Gubernia, uyezd, volost—Russian administrative territorial units. The largest of these was the gubernia , divided into uyezds, which in turn were subdivided into volosts . This system continued under Soviet power until the introduction of the new system of administrative territorial divisions in 1929-30.


 

V. I. Lenin


Second All-Russia Congress of Soviets of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies

October 26-27, 1917 in Rabochy i Soldat, No. 9 & 10

 

 

Report on Land

October 26 (November 8)

 

We maintain that the revolution has proved and demonstrated how important it is that the land question should be put clearly. The outbreak of the armed uprising, the second, October, Revolution, clearly proves that the land must be turned over to the peasants. The government that has been overthrown and the compromising parties of the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries committed a crime when they kept postponing the settlement of the land question on various pretexts and thereby brought the country to economic chaos and a peasant revolt. Their talk about riots and anarchy in the countryside sounds false, cowardly, and deceitful. Where and when have riots and anarchy been provoked by wise measures? If the government had acted wisely, and if their measures had met the needs of the poor peasants, would there have been unrest among the peasant masses? But all the measures of the government, approved by the Avkesentyev and Dan Soviets, went counter to the interests of the peasants and compelled them to revolt.

Having provoked the revolt, the government raised a hue and cry about riots and anarchy, for which they themselves were responsible. They were going to crush it by blood and iron, but were themselves swept away by the armed uprising of the revolutionary soldiers, sailors and workers. The first duty of the government of the workers' and peasants' revolution must be to settle the land question, which can pacify and satisfy the vast masses of poor peasants. I shall read to you the clauses of a decree your Soviet Government must issue. In one of the clauses of this decree is embodied the Mandate to the Land Committees, compiled on the basis of 242 mandates from local Soviets of Peasants' Deputies.

 

 

Decree on Land

 

(1)

Landed proprietorship is abolished forthwith without any compensation.

(2)

The landed estates, as also all crown, monastery, and church lands, with all their livestock, implements, buildings and everything pertaining thereto, shall be placed at the disposal of the volost land committees and the uyezd Soviets of Peasants' Deputies pending the convocation of the Constituent Assembly.

(3)

All damage to confiscated property, which henceforth belongs to the whole people, is proclaimed a grave crime to be punished by the revolutionary courts. The uyezd Soviets of Peasants' Deputies shall take all necessary measures to assure the observance of the strictest order during the confiscation of the landed estates, to determine the size of estates, and the particular estates subject to confiscation, to draw up exact inventories of all property confiscated and to protect in the strictest revolutionary way all agricultural enterprises transferred to the people, with all buildings, implements , livestock, stocks of produce, etc.

(4)

The folowing peasant Mandate, compiled by the newspaper Izvestia Vserossiiskogo Soveta Krestyanskikh Deputatov from 242 local peasant mandates and published in No. 88 of that paper (Petrograd, No. 88, August 19, 1917), shall serve everywhere to guide the implementation of the great land reforms until a final decision on the latter is taken by the Constituent Assembly.  

Peasant Mandate on the Land

 

"The land question in its full scope can be settled only by the popular Constituent Assembly.

The most equitable settlement of the land question is to be as follows:

 

(1) Private ownership of land shall be abolished forever; land shall not be sold, purchased, leased, mortgaged, or otherwise alienated.

All land, whether state, crown, monastery, church, factory, entailed, private, public, peasant, etc., shall be confiscated without compensation and become the property of the whole people, and pass into the use of all those who cultivate it.

Persons who suffer by this property revolution shall be deemed to be entitled to public support only for the period necessary for adaptation to the new conditions of life.

(2) All mineral wealth — ore, oil, coal, salt, etc., and also all forests and waters of state importance, shall pass into the exclusive use of the state. All the small streams, lakes, woods, etc., shall pass into the use of the communes, to be administered by the local self-government bodies.

(3) Lands on which high-level scientific farming is practised — orchards, tree-farms, seed plots, nurseries, hothouses, etc. — shall not be divided up, but shall be converted into model farms, to be turned over for exclusive use to the state or to the communes, depending on the size and importance of such lands.

Household land in towns and villages, with orchards and vegetable gardens, shall be reserved for the use of their present owners, the size of the holdings, and the size of tax levied for the use thereof, to be determined by law.

(4) Stud farms, government and private pedigree stock and poultry farms, etc., shall be confiscated and become the property of the whole people, and pass into the exclusive use of the state or a commune, depending on the size and importance of such farms.

The question of compensation shall be examined by the Constituent Assembly.

(5) All livestock and farm implements of the confiscated estates shall pass into the exclusive use of the state or a commune, depending on their size and importance, and no compensation shall be paid for this.

The farm implements of peasants with little land shall not be subject to confiscation.

(6) The right to use the land shall be accorded to all citizens of the Russian state (without distinction of sex) desiring to cultivate it by their own labour, with the help of their families, or in partnership, but only as long as they are able to cultivate it. The employment of hired labour is not permitted.

In the event of the temporary physical disability of any member of a village commune for a period of up to two years, the village commune shall be obliged to assist him for this period by collectively cultivating his land until he is again able to work.

Peasants who, owing to old age or ill-health, are permanently disabled and unable to cultivate the land personally, shall lose their right to the use of it but, in return, shall receive a pension from the state.

(7) Land tenure shall be on a equality basis, i.e., the land shall be distributed among the working people in conformity with a labour standard or a subsistence standard, depending on local conditions.

There shall be absolutely no restriction on the forms of land tenure — household, farm, communal, or co-operative, as shall be decided in each individual village and settlement.

(8) All land, when alienated, shall become part of the national land fund. Its distribution among the peasants shall be in charge of the local and central self-government bodies, from democratically organised village and city communes, in which there are no distinctions of social rank, to central regional government bodies.

The land fund shall be subject to periodical redistribution, depending on the growth of population and the increase in the productivity and the scientific level of farming.

When the boundaries of allotments are altered, the original nucleus of the allotment shall be left intact.

The land of the members who leave the commune shall revert to the land fund; preferential right to such land shall be given to the near relatives of the members who have left, or to persons designated by the latter.

The cost of fertilisers and improvements put into the land, to the extent that they have not been fully used up at the time the allotment is returned to the land fund, shall be compensated.

Should the available land fund in a particular district prove inadequate for the needs of the local population, the surplus population shall be settled elsewhere.

The state shall take upon itself the organisation of resettlement and shall bear the cost thereof, as wwell as the cost of supplying implements, etc.

Resettlement shall be effected in the following order: landless peasants desiring to resettle, then members of the commune who are of vicious habits, deserters, and so on, and, finally, by lot or by agreement."

 

The entire contents of this Mandate, as expressing the absolute will of the vast majority of the class-conscious peasants of all Russia, is proclaimed a provisional law, which, pending the convocation of the Constituent Assembly, shall be carried into effect as far as possible immediately, and as to certain of its provisions with due gradualness, as shall be determined by the uyezd Soviets of Peasants' Deputies.

 

(5)

The land of ordinary peasants and ordinary Cossacks shall not be confiscated.

 

 * * *

 

Voices are being raised here that the decree itself and the Mandate were drawn up by the Socialist-Revolutionaries. What of it? Does it matter who drew them up? As a democratic government, we cannot ignore the decision of the masses of the people, even though we may disagree with it. In the fire of experience, applying the decree in practice, and carrying it out local, the peasants will themselves realise where the truth lies. And even in the peasants continue to follow the Socialist-Revolutionaries, even if they give this party a majority in the Constituent Assembly, we shall still say — what of it?

Experience is the best teacher and it will show who is right. Let the peasants solve this problem from one end and we shall solve it from the other. Experience will oblige us to draw together in the general stream of revolutionary creative work, in the elaboration of new state forms. We must be guided by experience; we must allow complete freedom to the creative faculties of the masses. The old government, which was overthrown by armed uprising, wanted to settle the land problem with the help of the old, unchanged tsarist bureaucracy. But instead of solving the problem, the bureaucracy only fought the peasants.

The peasants have learned something during the eight months of our revolution; they want to settle all land problems themselves. We are therefore opposed to all amendments to this draft law. We want no details in it, for we are writing a decree, not a programme of action. Russia is vast, and local conditions vary. We trust that the peasants themselves will be able to solve the problem correctly, properly, better than we could do it. Whether they do it in our spirit or in the spirit of the Socialist-Revolutionary programme is not the point. The point is that the peasants should be firmly assured that there are no more landowners in the countryside, that they themselves must decide all questions, and that they themselves must arrange their own lives. (Loud applause)

 

 

 

Reply To Questions From Peasants

5 November, 1917
Izvestia No. 219, 8 November 1917

Lenin Collected Works, Volume 26, 1972, pp. 300-301


In reply to numerous questions from peasants, be it known that all power in the country henceforth belongs wholly to the Soviets of Workers’, Soldiers’ and Peasants’ Deputies. The workers’ revolution has won in Petrograd and Moscow and is winning everywhere else in Russia. The Workers’ and Peasants’ Government ensures the alliance of the mass of the peasants, the poor peasants, the majority of the peasants, with the workers against the landowners, against the capitalists.

Hence the Soviets of Peasants’ Deputies, primarily the uyezd and then the gubernia Soviets, are from now on, pending the convocation of the Constituent Assembly, vested with full governmental authority in their localities. Landed proprietorship has been abolished by the Second All-Russia Congress of Soviets. A decree on land has already been issued by the present Provisional Workers’ and Peasants’ Government. In conformity with this decree aU landed estates pass over wholly to the Soviets of Peasants’ Deputies.

The volost land committees must at once take over the administration of all landed estates, instituting the strictest accounting, maintaining perfect order and safeguarding with utmost strictness the former property of the landowners, which henceforth is the property of the whole people and which the people themselves must therefore protect.

All rulings of the volost land committees issued with the approval of the uyezd Soviets of peasants’ Deputies have the force of law and must be carried out unconditionally and without delay.

The Workers’ and Peasants’ Government appointed by the Second All-Russia. Congress of Soviets has been named the Council of People’s Commissars.

The Council of People’s Commissars calls upon the peasants to take all power into their own hands in their respective localities. The workers give their full, undivided, all-round support to the peasants, are getting the production of machines and implements started, and ask the peasants to help by delivering grain.

V. Ulyanov (Lenin),
Chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars

Petrograd. November 5, 1917.

 

Footnote

Written in connection with numerous questions submitted by peasant messengers to the Council of People's Commissars. Each messenger got a typewritten answer bearing Lenin's personal signature. It was published in the newspapers Derevenskaya Bednota, Izvestia and others, and was issued as a leaflet under the title, 'Instruction to Peasants". The answer was an important document regulating the revolutionary abolition of landed estates.

 

 

V. I. Lenin

Foreword to the Pamphlet,

How the Socialist Revolutionaries
Cheated The People,

and What the New Bolshevik Government
Has Given the People

9 November, 1917
In a pamphlet issued by Selsky Vestnik (Rural Herald) in Petrograd.

Lenin Collected Works, Volume 26, 1972, pp. 314-315

 

The peasants of Russia are now faced with the prospect of taking their country’s destiny into their own hands.

The victory of the workers’ revolution in the two leading Cities and in most of the rest of Russia has given the peasants the possibility of taking the land arrangements into their own hands. Not all peasants have as yet realised that their Soviets of Peasants’ Deputies are the true, authentic, supreme state power, but they soon will.

When they do realise it, their alliance with the workers, the alliance of the bulk of the peasants—the poor, working peasants—will be consolidated. This alliance, both in the Soviets and the Constituent Assembly, and not the alliance of the peasants and the capitalists, is the only one really capable of ensuring the working people’s interests.

It will surely very soon be brought home to the peasants that if they are to be rid of the horrors of war and the oppression of the landowners and capitalists, they must ally themselves with the working people of the towns, above all the factory workers, and not with the rich.

If the peasants are to see this soon, they must, among other things, make a closer and more amply documented comparison of the promises and draft laws of the Socialist-Revolutionaries, and the Decree on Land issued by the new, workers’ and peasants’ government.

Such a comparison is made in this pamphlet. It gives the documents, which is the first thing anyone needs if he is going to use his head. The main document relating to the Socialist-Revolutionaries is their Minister Maslov’s draft land law. I take it in full from Dyelo Naroda (Chernov’s newspaper). I am also republishing in full my own article on the subject from Robochy Put.

The Decree on Land issued by the workers’ and peasants’ government is also given in full.

Peasant comrades, seek the truth about the various parties, and you shall find it! Collect and compare the draft land laws proposed by the various parties.

You must read carefully the draft land law put forward by the Socialist-Revolutionary minister, and the Decree on Land issued by the present Bolshevik government, which received its powers from the Second All-Russia Congress of Soviets. We have no doubt at all as to what the peasants’ final conclusion will be.

N. Lenin

Petrograd,
November 9, 1917

 

V. I. Lenin

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

November 10-25 (November 23-December 8), 1917


published 12-14 November, 1917

Lenin Collected Works, Volume 26, 1972, pp. 321-332

1

Statement to the Bolshevik Group
at the Extraordinary All-Russia Congress
of Soviets of Peasants' Deputies[1]

We demand most emphatically that the Bolsheviks insist, in the form of an ultimatum, on an open vote on the question of issuing an immediate invitation to several representatives of the Government.

If the reading of this proposal and voting on it at the plenary session are refused, the whole Bolshevik group should walk out by way of protest.

Lenin

Written on 12 November, 1917
First Published in 1933 in Lenin Miscellany XXI

 

2

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

3

Draft Resolution

The Peasants' Congress fully and in every way supports the law (decree) on land of October 26, 1917, approved by the Second All-Russia Congress of Soviets of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies and published by the Council of People's Commissars as the provisional workers' and peasants' government of the Russian Republic. The Peasants' Congress declares its firm and unshakable resolve to ensure the implementation of this law, calls upon all peasants to support it unanimously and to carry it out themselves in the localities without delay, and also to elect to all and every responsible post and office only people who have proved not in word but in deed their complete devotion to the interests of the working and exploited peasants, their readiness and ability to uphold these interests against any resistance the landowners, capitalists, and their supporters or accomplices may offer.

The Peasants' Congress also expresses its conviction that the full implementation of all the measures constituting the law on land is possible only if the workers' socialist revolution which began on October 25 is successful, for only the socialist revolution can ensure the transfer of the land to the working peasantry without compensation, the confiscation of the landowners' implements, full protection of the interests of agricultural wage-workers and the immediate commencement of the unconditional abolition of the entire system of capitalist wage-slavery, the proper and planned distribution of the products of both agriculture and industry among the various regions and the population of the country, control over the banks (without such control the people will not be masters of the land even though private property in land is abolished), all-round state assistance specifically to the working and exploited people, etc.

Therefore the Peasants' Congress, fully supporting the Revolution of October 25, and supporting it precisely as a socialist revolution, declares its unswerving resolve to carry out, with due gradualness but without the slightest vacillation, measures aimed at the socialist transformation of the Russian Republic.

A necessary condition for the victory of the socialist revolution, which alone can secure the lasting triumph and full implementation of the law on land, is the close alliance of the working and exploited peasantry with the working class—the proletariat—in all the advanced countries. In the Russian Republic the entire organisation and administration of the state from top to bottom must henceforth be based on such an alliance. Rejecting all and every attempt, direct and indirect, overt and covert, to return to a course that experience has rejected, to the course of conciliation with the bourgeoisie and the champions of bourgeois policy, this alliance alone can ensure the victory of socialism the world over.

Written 14 November 1917
First Published in Izvestia in No. 226,
28 November 1917

 

4

Speech In Connection
With The Statement Of A Vikzhel Spokesman

November 18 (December 1)

Newspaper Report

Comrades, the Vikzhel statement is undoubtedly nothing but a misunderstanding. Can you imagine, for one moment, that troops, fully aware of their revolutionary duty and fighting for the people's interests, would approach Field Headquarters and begin smashing up everything and everyone, without making known their demands, without so much as explaining to the soldiers around II.Q. why they had come. You must realise, comrades, that that is impossible. A revolutionary army, conscious of what it is about, must make its demands known to those to whom it applies. When the demands were being made, much more was done; care was taken to make it quite clear that resistance meant resisting the people's will, that this was not a common but a moral crime against the people's freedom, interests and highest aspirations. A revolutionary army never fires the first shot, and acts in anger only against invaders and tyrants. Had it been otherwise, the word revolution would have lost its meaning. I feel I must draw your attention to the fact that while making its unverified charges, Vikzhel announces its "neutrality". That is something Vikzhel has no right to do. At. a time of revolutionary struggle, when every minute counts, when dissent and neutrality allow the enemy to put in his word, when he will certainly be heard, and when no haste is made to help the people in their struggle for their sacred rights. I cannot call such a stand neutrality; it is not neutrality; a revolutionary would call it incitement. (Applause.) By taking Such a stand you incite the generals to action; when you fail to support us, you oppose the people.

To postpone the armistice is just what General Dukhonin wants. By assisting him you are sabotaging the armistice. Think of the grave responsibility that falls upon you, and consider what the people will say.

Comrade Lenin went on to say that the telegraph services were being sabotaged in some areas. The government was left without information, while its opponents circulated absurd rumours. Take the allegation that the Polish battalions were opposing the government, although the Poles had repeatedly declared that they had not interfered and did not intend to interfere in Russian affairs; they have also informed us that they want an armistice.

Published in Izvestia No. 230
19 November 1917
Published according to theIzvestia text

 

5

Concluding Speech On The Agrarian Question

November 18 (December 1)

Newspaper Report

Comrade Lenin first showed that the accusation of anarchism made against the Bolsheviks by the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries had not been proved.

In what way did socialists differ from anarchists? The anarchists did not recognise state power whereas the socialists, the Bolsheviks among them, did recognise it in the period of transition between the state of affairs then obtaining and the socialism towards which they were progressing.

The Bolsheviks favoured a strong authority, but it must be a workers' and peasants' authority.

All state power is compulsion, but until then it had always been the power of the minority, the power of the landowner and capitalist employed against the worker and peasant.

He said that the Bolsheviks stood for the state power that would be a firm authority of the majority of the workers and peasants employed against the capitalists and landowners.

Comrade Lenin then went on to show that the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries' resolution on the land had called the new government a people's socialist government, and dwelt on the points that could closely unite the Bolsheviks and Left Socialist-Revolutionaries.

The alliance of the peasants and workers was a basis for an agreement between the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries and the Bolsheviks.

It was an honest coalition, an honest alliance, but it would be an honest coalition at the summit too, between the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries and the Bolsheviks, if the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries were more definite in stating their conviction that the revolution was a socialist revolution. It was a socialist revolution. The abolition of private property in land, the introduction of workers' control, the nationalisation of the banks—all these were measures that would lead to socialism. They were not socialism, but they were measures that would lead to socialism by gigantic strides. The Bolsheviks did not promise the workers and peasants milk and honey immediately, but they did say that a close alliance between the workers and the exploited peasantry, a firm, unwavering struggle for the power of the Soviets would lead to socialism, and any party that really wanted to be a people's party would have to state clearly and decisively that the revolution was a socialist revolution.

And only in the event of the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries stating that clearly and unambiguously would the Bolsheviks' alliance with them grow and become stronger.

It had been said that the Bolsheviks were against the socialisation of the land and could not, therefore, come to an agreement with the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries.

The Bolsheviks answered that they were indeed against the Socialist-Revolutionaries' socialisation of the land but that did not prevent an honest alliance with them.

Today or tomorrow the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries would nominate their Minister of Agriculture, and the Bolsheviks would not vote against a law on the socialisation of the land if he proposed it; they would abstain from voting.

In conclusion Comrade Lenin stressed that only an alliance of workers and peasants could acquire land and make peace.

Among other things Comrade Lenin was asked what the Bolsheviks would do in the Constituent Assembly if the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries were there in a minority and proposed a bill on the socialisation of the land—would the Bolsheviks abstain from voting? Of course not. The Bolsheviks would vote for the bill hut would make the proviso that they were voting for it in order to support the peasants against their enemies.

Published in Pravda No. 195
4 December 1917

 

__________

Footnotes

[1] Written in connect ion with the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries' objections to the Bolshevik demand that Lenin should be invited to speak at the Congress in his capacity of Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars. They thought this would be prejudicial to the issue of power. On their motion, the Congress rejected the Bolshevik proposal, and Lenin addressed it as a member of the Bolshevik group.

[2] The reference is to the instruction to the volost land committees approved by tire First All-Russia Congiess of Soviets of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies on June 23 (July 6), 1917, and published as a law "On the volost Committees" on November 3 (16), 1917.

[3] The reference is to the start of the peace talks with Germany. Following the publication of the Decree on Peace, adopted by the Second All-Russia Congress of Soviets, the Soviet Government took practical steps to conclude a general democratic peace among the belligerents. On November 7 (20), 1917, it issued special directions to General Dukhonin, the Commander-in-Chief, ordering him to make an offer to the enemy command to stop military operations and open peace talks. The directions said the government deemed it necessary to make a formal proposal for an armistice between the belligerents without delay (Izvestia No. 221, November 10, 1917). But the counter-revolutionary top brass, who had contacts with the military in missions of the Entente, blocked the armistice in every possible way. On November 8 (21), the People's Commissariat for Foreign Affairs sent a note to the Allied ambassadors proposing an immediate cease-fire on all fronts and negotiations on peace. The Entente ambassadors met at the U.S. Embassy in Petrograd on November 9 (22) arid decided to ignore the Soviet government's note.

The refusal of the Entente imperialists to support the Soviet Government's peace initiative and their active resistance to the conclusion of a peace, forced the Council of People's Commissars to start separate peace talks with Germany. On November 14 (27), word was received that the German High Command was prepared to start armistice talks. On the Soviet Government's proposal the talks postponed for five days to give the Allied Government another chance to make known their attitude on the peace proposal. On November 15 (28), the Soviet Government issued its appeal to the governments and peoples of all the belligerent countries urging them to join in the peace negotiations. There was no reply from the Allied powers.

On November 19 (December 2), a Soviet peace delegation led by A. A. Joffe arrived in the neutral zone and proceeded to Best-Litovsk, where it met a delegation of the Austin-Hungarian bloc which included representatives of Bulgaria amid Turkey. A 10-day cease-fire was arranged as a result of the talks of November 20-22 (December 3-5). The Soviet Government took the opportunity to try to turn the separate talks with Germany into negotiations for a general democratic peace. On November 24 (December 7) it sent another note to the Entente ambassadors inviting them to join in the talks. This note was also ignored. On December 2 (15), the talks were resumed and that same day a 28-day cease-fire was agreed upon. It provided for a peace conference, which opened at Brest-Litovsk on December 9 (22).

 

 

V. I. Lenin

Alliance Between the Workers and Exploited Peasants

November 18 (December 1) 1917

Pravda No. 194, December 2 (November 19) 1917

 

A letter to Pravda

Today, Saturday, November 18, in the course of a speech I made at the Peasants' Congress, I was publicly asked a question to which I forthwith replied. It is essential that this question and my reply should immediately be made known to all the reading public, for while formally speaking only in my own name, I was actually speaking in the name of the whole Bolshevik Party.

The matter was the following.

Touching on the question of an alliance between the Bolshevik workers and the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries, whom many peasants at present trust, I argued in my speech that this alliance can be an "honest coalition", an honest alliance, for there is no radical divergence of interests between the wage-workers and the working and exploited peasants. Socialism is fully able to meet the interests of both. Only socialism can meet their interests. Hence the possibility and necessity for an "honest coalition" between the proletarians and the working and exploited peasantry. On the contrary, a "coalition" (alliance) between the working and exploited classes, on the one hand, and the bourgeoisie, on the other, cannot be an "honest coalition" because of the radical divergence of interests between these classes.

Imagine, I said, that there is a majority of Bolsheviks and a minority of Left Socialist-Revolutionaries in the government, or even, let us assume, only one Left Socialist-Revolutionary--the Commissar of Agriculture. Could the Bolsheviks practise an honest coalition under such circumstances?

They could; for, while they are irreconcilable in their fight against the counter-revolutionary elements (including the Right Socialist-Revolutionary and the defencist elements), the Bolsheviks would be obliged to abstain from voting on questions which concern purely Socialist-Revolutionary points in the land programme approved by the Second All-Russia Congress of Soviets. Such, for instance, would be the point on equal land tenure and the redistribution of land among the small holders.

By abstaining from voting on such a point the Bolsheviks would not be changing their programme in the slightest. For, given the victory of socialism (workers' control over the factories, to be followed by their expropriation, the nationalisation of the banks, and the creation of a Supreme Economic Council for the regulation of the entire economic life of the country)--given that the workers would be obliged to agree to the transitional measures proposed by the small working and exploited peasants, provided such measures were not detrimental to the cause of socialism. Even Kautsky, when he was still a Marxist (1899-l909), frequently admitted--l said --that the measures of transition to socialism cannot be identical in countries with large-scale and those with small-scale farming.

We Bolsheviks would be obliged to abstain from voting when such a point was being decided in the Council of People's Commissars or in the Central Executive Committee, for if the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries (as well as the peasants who support them) agreed to workers' control, to the nationalisation of the banks, etc., equal land tenure would be only one of the measures of transition to full socialism. For the proletariat to impose such transitional measures would be absurd; it is obliged, in the interests of the victory of socialism, to yield to the small working and exploited peasants in the choice of these transitional measures, for they could do no harm to the cause of socialism.

Thereupon, a Left Socialist-Revolutionary (it was Comrade Feofilaktov, if I am not mistaken) asked me the following question:

"How would the Bolsheviks act if in the Constituent Assembly the peasants wanted to pass a law on equal land tenure, while the bourgeoisie were opposed to the peasants and the decision depended on the Bolsheviks?"

I replied: under such circumstances, when the cause of socialism would be ensured by the introduction of workers' control, the nationalisation of the banks, etc., the alliance between the workers and the working and exploited peasants would make it obligatory for the party of the proletariat to vote for the peasants and against the bourgeoisie. The Bolsheviks, in my opinion, would be entitled when the vote was being taken to make a declaration of dissent, to place on record their non-agreement, etc., but to abstain from voting under such circumstances would be to betray their allies in the fight for socialism because of a difference with them on a partial issue. The Bolsheviks would never betray the peasants in such a situation. Equal land tenure and like measures cannot prejudice socialism if the power is in the hands of a workers' and peasants' government, if workers' control has been introduced, the banks nationalised, a workers' and peasants' supreme economic body set up to direct (regulate) the entire economic life of the country, and so forth.

Such was my reply.

N. Lenin

 

V. I. Lenin

 

Foreword To The Pamphlet,

Material On The Agrarian Question


27 November, 1917
December, 1917, in the pamphlet. N. Lenin, Material on the Agrarian Question, Priboi Publishers, Petersburg
Lenin Collected Works, Volume 26, 1972, pp. 347-348


The present pamphlet is a collection (made on the initiative of one of the Bolsheviks and not the author's) of my most important articles and speeches on the land question which are suitable for popular reading. They date from the end of April to the end of October 1917, and are supplemented by the Resolution of the April Conference of the R.S.D.L.P.(Bolsheviks), and the Decree on Land, adopted by the Second All-Russia Congress of Soviets of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies on October 26, 1917.[1] I wrote the original texts (that is, the drafts) of both these documents.

Taken together, these documents and articles give an accurate picture of how Bolshevik views developed over the six months of the revolution and how these views were applied in. practice.

I also refer the reader to my article, "From a Publicist's Diary. Peasants and Workers", in the newspaper Rabochy (Petersburg, September 11 (August 29), 1917, No. 6). It gives a detailed analysis of the summarised peasants' Mandate which appeared in Izvestia Vserossiiskogo Soveta Krestyanskikh Deputatov No. 88, of August 19, and which was incorporated in the Decree on Land of October 26, 1917. Two months before the October 25 revolution, this article explained that it was necessary for the workers "to change the basic line pursued by the worker in addressing the peasant".

N. Lenin

Petersburg. November 27, 1917.

_______

Footnote

[1] See section Decree on Land from the Second All Congress of Soviets—Transcriber

 

V. I. Lenin

Speech Delivered At The

Second All-Russia Congress Of Soviets Of Peasants’ Deputies

December 2 (15), 1917


Izvestia, No. 244, December 6, 1917; Published according the typewritten copy of the Minutes.
Lenin Collected Works, Volume 26, 1972, pp. 357-360

 

Comrades, at the last Extraordinary Congress of Peasants’ Deputies I spoke as a member of the Bolshevik group and not as a member of the Council of People’s Commissars, I am speaking in the same capacity today, for I consider it important that the opinion of the Party of the Bolsheviks should be known to this Congress of Peasants’ Deputies.

When I arrived here I heard part of the speech of the last speaker, who, turning to me, told you that I wanted to disperse you at the point of the bayonet. Comrades, Russia has grown too mature to suffer anyone to rule her. You know that from the moment the army turned their weapons to win freedom, from the moment it became possible for the peasant in uniform to meet and arrange matters with the peasant not in uniform, from that moment there has been no fcre,e that can break the will of the people, the will of the peasants and workers.

Comrades, I want to tell you how we understand the Revolution of October 25. Comrades, it has been said here that a new wave of revolution may sweep the Soviets away. I say “No”. I am firmly convinced that the Soviets will never perish; the Revolution of October 25 proved that. The Soviets will never perish, for they were formed as far back as the first revolution of 1905; they were formed after the February revolution, and they were not formed on the initiative of any individual, but from below, by the will of the masses. There can be no restrictions and no red tape, for they have been formed by the will of the people, and the people are free to recall their representatives at any moment. The Soviets are superior to any parliament, they are superior to any constituent assembly, (Commotion and cries: That’s a lie!) The Party of the Bolsheviks has always declared that the supreme body is the Soviets. That cannot be called a lie, because the revolutioris in Europe that overthrew monarchies formed bourgeois republics with the help of constituent assemblies, There has never before been a revolution such as ours anywhere in the world, It is said that the Revolution of October 25 created only “a Bolshevik government”. I might say that there are not only Bolsheviks in the Council of People’s COMhnissars. Those of you who remember the First Congress of Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies will know that the Bolsheviks were then in the minority; but, having learned the meaning of the policy of compromise from experience, the Second Congress of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies, whieh represented the people, gave a majority to the Bolshevik Party. When they tell me that bayonets may be directed against the Soviets and shout it from the columns of the hostile press, I simply laugh. The bayonets are in the hands of the workers, the soldiers and the peasants, and as long as they are they will never be directed against the Soviets. Let the counter-revolution turn its bayonets on the Soviets, it will not scare them.

Passing to the question of the Constituent Assembly, I must say that the Constituent Assembly can help only if the people themselves are free to develop and build up a new life. And I ask you: Is that the case?

I am telling you what you all know: “The sabbath was made for man and not man for the sabbath”, Comrades, you know how the Constituent Assembly was elected. It was elected by one of the most progressive election methods, for it is not individuals who were elected, but representatives of parties. This is a step forward, for revolutions are made by parties and not by individuals. When the elections to the Constituent Assembly took place there was only oiie party of Socialist-Revolutionaries, the party which has the majority in the Constituent Assembly. But that is not the case now. You will perhaps say that the Bolsheviks also breught that about, Ne, cornrades, that is a universal law, Always and everywhere, the people are slowly and painfully dividing into two camps-that ef the dispossessed and downtrodden, of those who are fighting for a brighter future for all working people, and that of those who in one way or another support the landowriers and capitalists, When the elections took place the peeple did not elect those who expressed their will and their desires, You say that we have declared the whele Cadet Party enemies ef the people, Yes, we have. And thereby we expressed the will of the Second Cejigress of Seviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies, And now that we are on the threshold of peace and the cessation ef the terrible slaughter that has lasted three years, we are cenvinced that this is the demand ef all the working people in all eountries, The everthrew of imperialism in Europe is proceeding slowly and paiiiftilly, and imperialists in all countries will now see that the people are strong, and in their strength will overthrow all whe stand in their way. We shall not be deterred when people who are organising revolt against the workers and peasants, against the Soviets, with the other hand show u their credentials to the Constituent Assembly, In July we were told that we sheuld be proclaimed enemies of the people, And we answered, “Try it”. If the bourgeeis gentlemen and their fellowers had enly tried to say that to the peeple epenly! But they did not; they reserted to insinuation, slander and mud-slinging When the bourgeoisie began the civil war (we witiiessed it), they incited the efficer cadets te revolt, And we, the victors, were merciful to them, the vanquished. More than that, we even spared their military honour, And now, when the Constituent Assembly is being cenvened, we say: W shall open the Constituent Assembly as seon as four hundre of its members arrive, We see that the conspiracy of th Cadets is continuing, we see that they are organising revolt against the Soviets in the interests of the money-bags of greed and riches, and we publicly proclaim them enemie of the people, At a time when the terms of peace will shortl be known, when we are about to have an armistice, when th members of the land committees will be immune from arrest when the landed estates are being confiscated, and wlhe control will be established over the factories-at such a time they are conspiring against us, against the Soviets. We therefore declare that the party of the Cadets is a party of the bourgeoisie, that they are enemies of the people, and that we shall fight them.

 

 

V. I. Lenin

 

Draft Of A Manifesto To The Peasantry

From The Second All-Russia Congress Of Soviets Of Peasants’ Deputies[1]


6 December, 1917
1925 in Lenin Miscellany IV. Published according to the manuscript
Lenin Collected Works, Volume 26, 1972, pp. 368-373


The Second All-Russia Peasants’ Congress ardently appeals to the peasantry of all the nationalities and peoples of Russia to devote mind and will, and the power of their numbers and their energy to arousing the slumberers and encouraging the irresolute, and from every corner of the country, from every village and every quarter of the large cities, to utter aloud so that all may hear, their weighty and decisive word at this, perhaps the most serious and most responsible, moment of the great Russian revolution.

Peasant comrades, we constitute the overwhelming majority of the population of our country, the vast mass of the working and exploited people. We are the vast mass that champions the lawful and just demands of the working people—first and foremost the demand for land—we fight all forms of oppression and exploitation by the landowners and capitalists.

Peasant comrades, we are the main body of our army, those who have suffered most the inhuman torments of more than three years of the war instigated by kings and capitalists; it has also fallen to our lot to undertake the difficult but thankful and honourable role of vanguard fighters— together with the workers—for freedom, land and peace, and for the complete emancipation of the working people from all oppression and exploitation.

Peasant comrades, consider our appeal, this manifesto issued by peasant deputies to the peasants of all nationalities in Russia. Make known our appeal in every village and in every cottage; discuss it at every meeting and village assembly and in every peasant body without exception, and make your own firm and unshakable decisions in the localities. For it is chiefly on your decisions, on the decisions of the majority of the people, the decisions of the peasants themselves, that the fate of our native land depends.

The fateful hour is approaching. The last fight is at hand. The whole country and all the nations of our republic are divided into two great camps.

One is the camp of the landowners and capitalists, the rich and their servitors, the state dignitaries and their friends, the bosses of the nation and the champions of the war.

The other is the camp of the factory workers and the working and exploited peasants, the poor people and their friends, the rank-and-file soldiers and the champions of peace, the advocates of a heroic, decisive and bold revolutionary struggle for peace, a struggle in which no mercy will be shown to the oppressors of the people.

The struggle between these two camps has in some parts of the country already assumed the acute form of open and direct civil war, a war of the Soviet armies against a small handful of those who are relying on the power of wealth and who desire to overthrow Soviet power, the power and government of the Soviets of Workers’, Soldiers’ and Peasants’ Deputies.

Peasant comrades, on your weighty, firm and unshakable word much now depends; on it depends the cessation of this civil war; on it depends the possibility in Russia of peacefully transferring all the land to the working people without compensation; on it depends the possibility of a peaceful transition to socialism. Peasant comrades, rise to a man; give voice to your demands; draw up your mandates in every village. You can make yourselves heard; you can make everyone listen to you!

Peasant comrades, you must in the first place roundly condemn those deputies to the Second All-Russia Peasants’ Congress who split away from the Congress. Condemn the splitters. Condemn those who are smashing the unity of the peasants, the unity of the working people, the unity of the peasants and workers. These splitters, these breakers of peasant unity, these deserters to the camp of the rich, to the camp of the landowners and capitalists have committed an outrageous crime. These people call themselves Socialist-Revolutionaries of the Right wing and the Centre, followers of Avksentyev and Chernov. They have betrayed the whole doctrine and programme of the Socialist-Revolutionaries; they have deserted to the enemies of socialism, to the suppressors of the revolution. They have broken with the faithful custodians of the doctrine, programme and demands of the Socialist-Revolutionaries, the party of the internationalist Left Socialist-Revolutionaries, who have remained loyal to the interests of the working peasantry. These followers of Avksentyev and Chernov have quit the Second All-Russia Peasants’ Congress and refused to submit to the decision of the majority of the peasants in order to carry out the will of the wealthy and the capitalists against the peasants, in order to hinder the cause of peace, in order to prevent the immediate transfer of all the land, without compensation, to the working people, and in order to protect the policy of Avksentyev, Chernov, Maslov and their like, a policy fatal to the peasants.

Condemn these traitors to the peasant cause. By condemning them, you will save many of the weak and wavering, and you will save Russia from insane attempts at civil war— insane, because, apart from shedding rivers of blood in vain, they will change nothing; nothing in the world can shatter the unanimous decision of the workers, soldiers and peasants, the decision of the Second All-Russia Congress of Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies and of the Second All-Russia Congress of Peasants’ Deputies.

Condemn these traitors to the peasant cause. Let every village express its confidence in the decisions of the two congresses, the Congress of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Soviets and the Congress of Peasants’ Soviets. Let every village recall from the Constituent Assembly those deputies from the Socialist-Revolutionary Party, or from the Peasants’ Soviets and institutions, who have not loudly proclaimed, and proved in practice, their wholehearted acceptance of these decisions.

Peasant comrades, you all know that opponents of the decisions of the Second All-Russia Congress of Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies and of the Second All- Russia Congress of Peasants Deputies could be elected and did get elected to the Constituent Assembly as peasant representatives, only by fraud. These people, who often call themselves Socialist-Revolutionaries, actually duped the peasants, who did not yet know the truth about the policy of Avksentyev, Chernov and Maslov, a policy of making concessions to the landowners, compromising with the capitalists, and arresting members of the local peasants’ land committees. These Avksentyevs, Maslovs and Chernovs deceived the peasants, since the general lists of the Socialist-Revolutionary Party were colnpiled before October 17, whereas the truth was revealed to the whole of Russia only after October 17.

The truth was revealed to the whole of Russia by the Second All-Russia Congress of Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies, held on October 25 and 26, 1917. The truth was further revealed by Soviet power, the Soviet Government, which was the first to publish the shameful secret treaties, the first to start a really revolutionary struggle for peace, the first to show in practice what that struggle should be; and it has already achieved its first success: an armistice on one of the fronts.

The truth was revealed by the Soviet Government when it passed the Decree on Land, thereby unconditionally siding with the peasants and eliminating all possibility of outside interference in the full power of the peasants in the localities.

The truth was revealed by the Second All-Russia Peasants’ Congress, which was the first to expose to the peasants, in a special and detailed resolution, the shameful role played by the Avksentyev-Chernov Executive Committee. The congress will close on December 8, having begun on November 30, 1917.

You thus see, peasant comrades, that when the lists were drawn up on October 17, and during the elections to the Constituent Assembly on November 12, the peasants still could not have known the truth about land and peace, and still could not distinguish their friends from their enemies, from the wolves in sheep’s clothing. You see that those Socialist-Revolutionaries who oppose the decisions of the Second All-Russia Congress of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies and of the Second All-Russia Congress of Peasants’ Deputies can speak in the name of the peasants only by fraud.

Peasant comrades, do not allow blood to be shed because of this fraud! Raise your voices in determined protest against those who quitted the Second All-Russia Congress of Peasants’ Deputies. Draw up your mandates in every gubernia, in every uyezd, in every volost and in every village; protest against those who withdrew from the congress; publish the names of the peasant deputies to the Constituent Assembly from your localities who have not accepted the decisions of these congresses, and demand the resignation of these deputies from the Constituent Assembly; for it is only by deceiving the people that they can pretend to have been elected by them.

Peasant comrades, the Constituent Assembly must express the will of the people. Those who quitted the Second All-Russia Congress of Peasants’ Deputies, who thwarted its will, who caused a split among the peasants and who deserted the peasants for the rich, are not the representatives of the people. They are traitors, and there is no place for them in the Constituent Assembly. They do not bring peace or land to the working people, they bring the people the senseless and criminal rebellion of the rich against Soviet power. The people will not tolerate fraud. The people will not allow their will to be thwarted. The people will not hand Soviet power over to the rich. The people will not allow the rich to ruin the cause of peace they uphold, or disrupt the transfer of the land to the working people, immediately, without exception and without compensation.

The country is faced with only this alternative:

Either a civil war of the Kaledinites, the Cadets, the Kornilovites (and their concealed allies, the followers of Avksentyev, Chernov and Maslov) against Soviet power, a bloody war, a hopeless war for its initiators, a war t4iat will not deprive the Soviets of power but will only result in greater bitterness, greater sacrifice, greater bloodshed, greater delay in carrying through the great socialist reforms, and greater famine in the gubernias where there is no grain, or—

the honest recognition of the obvious truth that the opponents of the decisions of the Second All-Russia Congress of Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies and of the Second All-Russia Congress of Peasants’ Deputies could have got the peasants to elect them to the Constituent Assembly only by fraud, and that there must be new elections for such deputies.

There is no third path. Either the bloody extermination to the rich, the followers of Avksentyev, Chernov and Masby, or their consent to new elections of peasants’ deputies of the Constituent Assembly as soon as the opponents of the decisions of the two Soviet congresses, the Second All-Russia Congress of Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies and the Second All-Russia Congress of Soviets of Peas. ants’ Deputies, come out in the name of the peasants in the Constituent Assembly.

It is for you to say, peasant comrades!

It is for you to decide!

The resolute word of all peasants, the peasant mandates from all the localities, can bring peace to the whole country, to all the nationalities of Russia, can stop the civil war, can guarantee a true and genuine and not a sham Constituent Assembly, can expedite and facilitate the termination of the war by a just peace and accelerate the transfer of the land to the working people, can strengthen the alliance between the peasants and the workers and hasten the triumph of socialism.

It is for you to decide, peasant comrades! Long live the transfer of the land to the working people! Long live peace! Long live socialism!

The Second All-Russia Congress of Peasants’ Deputies

 

_________

Footnotes

[1] Written on December 6-7 (19-20), 1917. After the members of the presidium of the Congress had seen the Manifesto it was read out on their behalf at the evening sitting of December 8 (24). At the insistence of the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries the wording was toned down and in that form adopted by the Congress. On behalf of the Executive Committee of the All-Russia Soviet of Peasants’ Deputies the Manifesto was published in the newspaper Colos Trudovogo Krestyanstva (Voice of the Labouring Peasantry) No. 22 of December 15 (28) under the title, “To the Labouring Peasants”.

 

 

V. I. Lenin

Meeting Of Presidium Of The Petrograd Soviet With Delegates From Food Supply Organisations

January 14 (27), 1918[1]

1924 in the magazine Krasnaya Letopis No. 1.
Lenin Collected Works, Volume 26, 1972, pp. 501-502

 

1

On Combating The Famine

I

Vladimirov's data indicate that the old ration should not be changed. Measures must be taken to find what there is available in Petrograd.

II

All these data show that the workers of Petrograd are monstrously inactive. The Petrograd workers and soldiers must understand that they have no one to look to but themselves. The facts of abuse are glaring, the speculation, monstrous; but what have the mass of soldiers and workers done about it? You cannot do anything without rousing the masses to action. A plenary meeting of the Soviet must be called to decide on mass searches in Petrograd and the goods stations. To carry out these searches, each factory and company must form contingents, not on a voluntary basis: it must be the duty of everyone to take part in these searches under the threat of being deprived of his bread card. We can't expect to get anywhere unless we resort to terrorism: speculators must be shot on the spot. Moreover, bandits must be dealt with just as resolutely: they must be shot on the spot.

The rich section of the population must be left without bread for three days because they have stocks of other foodstuns and can afford to pay the speculators the higher price.

2

Draft Resolution

A plenary meeting of the Petrograd Soviet shall be called to take revolutionary measures to fight speculators and overcome the famine:

(1) All soldiers and workers must be recruited to form several thousand groups (consisting of 10-15 men, and possibly more) who shall be bound to devote a certain number of hours (say, 3-4) daily to the food supply service.

(2) Regiments and factories failing to provide the number of groups required shall be deprived of bread cards, subjected to revolutionary coercive and penal measures.

(3) The groups shall immediately conduct searches, firstly, of railway stations, inspecting and counting cars loaded with grain; secondly, of railway tracks and junctions near Petrograd; thirdly, of all warehouses and private living quarters.

The instructions covering search, counting and requisition shall be worked out by the presidium of the Petrograd Soviet with participation of delegates from the district Soviets or by a special commission.

(4) Speculators who are caught and fully exposed as such shall be shot by the groups on the spot. The same penalty shall be meted out to members of the groups who are exposed as dishonest.

(5) The most reliable and best armed groups of the mass of revolutionary contingents organised to take extreme measures to overcome the famine shall be detailed for dispatch to all stations and all uyezds of the principal grain supplying gubernias. These groups, with the participation of railway-men delegated by local railway committees, shall be authorised, firstly, to control the movement of grain freights; secondly, take charge of the collection and storage of grain; thirdly, adopt the most extreme revolutionary measures to fight speculators and to requisition grain stocks.

(6) When making any record of requisition, arrest or execution, the revolutionary contingents shall summon at least six witnesses to be selected from the poorest section of the population closest at hand.

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Footnotes

[1] The meeting of the Presidium of the Petrograd Soviet with delegates from food supply organisations discussed the grave food situation of the workers and soldiers of Petrograd who received only a quarter of a pound of bread a day. It heard a report by a representative of the food board on the prospects of better food supplies for Petrograd and a report of the unloading commission. A decision of the Council of People’s Commissars on January 19 (February 1) increased the food ration to half a pound for the entire population of Petrograd.

 

 

V. I. Lenin

Speech At A Meeting Of The Land Committee Congress And The Peasant Section Of The Third Congress Of Soviets

January 28 (February 10), 1918[1]

Newspaper Report

15 February, 1918, in the newspaper Izvestia Sovetov Rabochikh, Soldatskish i Krestyanskikh Deputatov Goroda Moshvy i Moshovkoi Oblast No. 25
Lenin Collected Works, Volume 26, 1972, pp. 518-519

 

We are now engaged in the great task of consolidating the gains of the working masses, the great task of uniting the workers, soldiers and peasants. At the Peasant Congress where the Rights had a majority I said that if the peasants recognised all our demands we in turn would support all the peasant demands, the chief of which is socialisation of land. We have now done this. We have passed the world's first law abolishing all private ownership of land. We now have power, the power of the Soviets. This power, brought to the fore by the people themselves, lays a sound foundation for the great cause of world peace. The war has been stopped, and demobilisation has been ordered on every front. There is still the war against the bourgeoisie which is mobilising all its forces to against Soviet power. We have almost put an end to the Russian counter-revolution. We are gaining the upper hand in almost every battle fought on all the fronts. There is still another enemy; it is international capital; the fight against this enemy will be a long one and we shall win by getting organised and obtaining support for our revolution from the international proletariat. We are still faced with a big fight, the class struggle at home. This is an economic struggle against the bourgeoisie, who, directly or indirectly, support our enemies and who will try to establish economic domination over the working masses.

One thing that we suffer from, that makes our country weak, is the lack of money. The big kulaks in town and country still have lots of money, which is evidence of their exploitation of the people's labour, and which must belong to the people. We are sure that the working peasants will declare a ruthless war against the kulaks, their oppressors, and will help us in our struggle for the people's better future and for socialism.

__________

Footnotes

[1] Lenin delivered his speech at the closing sitting of the Land Conimittee Congress and the peasant section of the Third Congress of Soviets. The Land Committee Congress opened in Petrograd on January 17 (30), 1918. Its first sitting was attended by 472 delegates from 43 gubernias and 243 uyezds. The Congress subsequently worked together with the peasant section of the Third All-Russia Congress of Soviets which ended on January 18 (31). It was then attended by more than 1,000 delegates. The various sections of the Congress worked out the details of the Basic Law on the Socialisation of Land.