Stalin

English

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

J.V. Stalin

The Provisional Government

Speech Delivered at a Meeting in Vasilyevsky Ostrov
April 18 (May 1), 1917

Works, Vol. 3, March - October, 1917

 

In the course of the revolution two governmental authorities have arisen in the country: the Provisional Government, elected by the Duma of June the Third, and the Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies, elected by the workers and soldiers.

The relations between these two authorities are becoming increasingly strained; the former cooperation between them is coming to an end; and it would be criminal on our part to gloss over this fact.

The bourgeoisie were the first to raise the question of the dual power; they were the first to pose the alternative : either the Provisional Government, or the Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies. The question has been put bluntly, and it would be unworthy of us to evade it. The workers and soldiers must say clearly and distinctly which they consider to be their government—the Provisional Government, or the Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies.

We are told that there must be confidence in the Provisional Government, that this confidence is essential. But what confidence can there be in a government which itself has no confidence in the people on the cardinal and basic issue? We are in the midst of a war. It is being waged on the basis of treaties concluded by the tsar with Britain and France behind the back of the people and now sanctified by the Provisional Government without the consent of the people. The people are entitled to know the contents of these treaties; the workers and soldiers are entitled to know what they are shedding their blood for. To the demand of the workers and soldiers that the treaties be made public, what did the Provisional Government reply?

It declared that the treaties remained in force.

And it did not publish the treaties, and doesn't intend to publish them!

Is it not obvious that the Provisional Government is concealing the real aims of the war from the people and that, by concealing them, it is stubbornly refusing to put its confidence in the people? What confidence can the workers and peasants have in a Provisional Government which itself has no confidence in them on the cardinal and basic issue?

We are told that the Provisional Government must be supported, that such support is essential. But judge for yourselves: can we, in a period of revolution, support a government which has been hindering the revolution from its very inception? So far, the situation has been one in which the revolutionary initiative and democratic measures emanated from the Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies, and from it alone. The Provisional Government held back and resisted and only afterwards agreed with the Soviet, and then only partially and verbally, while in practice creating obstacles. Such has been the situation so far. But how is it possible, at the height of revolution, to support a government which gets in the way of the revolution and pulls it back? Would it not be better to demand that the Provisional Government should not hinder the Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies in the work of further democratizing the country?

The forces of counter-revolution are mobilizing in the land. They are carrying on agitation in the army. They are carrying on agitation among the peasants and the small townsfolk. The counter-revolutionary agitation is spearheaded first and foremost against the Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies. It uses the name of the Provisional Government as a screen. And the Provisional Government plainly connives at the attacks on the Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies. Why, then, should we support the Provisional Government? Not for its connivance at counter-revolutionary agitation, surely?

An agrarian movement has begun in Russia. The peasants are seeking on their own authority to plough the land left untilled by the landlords. If that is not done, the country may find itself on the verge of famine. In compliance with the wishes of the peasants, the All-Russian Conference of Soviets [1] resolved to "support" the peasant movement for the confiscation of the landed estates. But what does the Provisional Government do? It characterizes the peasant movement as "usurpation," forbids the peasants to plough up the landed estates, and issues instructions "accordingly" to its commissars (see Rech, April 17). Why, then, should we support the

Provisional Government? Not for its having declared war on the peasantry, surely?

We are told that lack of confidence in the Provisional Government will undermine the unity of the revolution, repel the capitalists and landlords from it. But who will venture to assert that the capitalists and landlords really are supporting, or can support, the revolution of the masses?

Did not the Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies, when it introduced the eight-hour working day, repel the capitalists, and at the same time rally the broad mass of the workers around the revolution? Who would venture to assert that the dubious friendship of a handful of manufacturers is more valuable to the revolution than the real friendship of millions of workers which has been cemented with blood?

Or again, did not the All-Russian Conference of Soviets, when it decided to support the peasants, repel the landlords and at the same time link the peasant masses to the revolution? Who would venture to assert that the dubious friendship of a handful of landlords is more valuable to the revolution than the real friendship of the many millions of poor peasants now clad in soldier's uniform?

The revolution cannot satisfy everyone and everybody. One of its sides always satisfies the toiling masses, while the other strikes at the overt and covert enemies of the masses.

It is therefore necessary to choose: either with the workers and poor peasants for the revolution, or with the capitalists and landlords against the revolution.

And so, who shall we support?

Who shall we regard as our government: the Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies or the Provisional Government?

Clearly, the workers and soldiers can support only the Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies which they themselves elected.

 

Soldatskaya Pravda, No. 6, April 25, 1917

 

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Notes

[1] The All-Russian Conference of Soviets of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies was convened by the Executive Committee of the Petrograd Soviet and met in Petrograd from March 29 to April 3, 1917. It was dominated by the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries.