Conditions for the Victory
of the Russian Revolution
March 18, 1917
Works, Vol. 3, March - October, 1917
The revolution is on the march. From Petrograd, where it started, it is spreading to the provinces and is gradually embracing all the boundless expanses of Russia. More, from political questions it is inevitably passing to social questions, to the question of improving the lot of the workers and peasants, thereby deepening and sharpening the present crisis.
All this cannot but arouse anxiety among definite circles of property-owning Russia. Tsarist-landlord reaction is raising its head. The imperialist clique are sounding the alarm. The financial bourgeoisie are extending a hand to the obsolescent feudal aristocracy with a view to joint organization of counter-revolution. Today they are still weak and irresolute, but tomorrow they may grow stronger and mobilize against the revolution. At all events, they are carrying on their sinister work incessantly, rallying forces from all sections of the population, not excluding the army. . . .
How can the incipient counter-revolution be curbed?
What conditions are necessary for the victory of the Russian revolution?
It is one of the peculiarities of our revolution that to this day its base is Petrograd. The clashes and shots, the barricades and casualties, the struggle and victory took place chiefly in Petrograd and its environs (Kron-stadt, etc.). The provinces have confined themselves to accepting the fruits of victory and expressing confidence in the Provisional Government.
A reflection of this fact is that dual power, that actual division of power between the Provisional Government and the Petrograd Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies, which is the cause of so much anxiety to the hirelings of counter-revolution. On the one hand, the Petrograd Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies, which is an organ of revolutionary struggle of the workers and soldiers, and, on the other, the Provisional Government, which is an organ of the moderate bourgeoisie, who are scared by the "excesses" of the revolution and have found a prop in the inertia of the provinces—such is the picture.
Therein lies the weakness of the revolution, because such a state of affairs perpetuates the isolation of the provinces from the capital, the lack of contact between them.
But, as the revolution goes deeper, the provinces too are being revolutionized. Soviets of Workers' Deputies are being formed in the localities. The peasants are being drawn into the movement and are organizing their Own unions The army is becoming democratized and soldiers' unions are being organized in the military units. The inertia of the provinces is receding into the past.
Thus the ground is trembling under the feet of the Provisional Government.
At the same time, the Petrograd Soviet of Workers' Deputies is also becoming inadequate for the new situation.
What is needed is an all-Russian organ of revolutionary struggle of the democracy of all Russia, one authoritative enough to weld together the democracy of the capital and the provinces and to transform itself at the required moment from an organ of revolutionary struggle of the people into an organ of revolutionary power, which will mobilize all the vital forces of the people against counter-revolution.
Only an All-Russian Soviet of Workers', Soldiers' and Peasants' Deputies can be such an organ.
This is the first condition for the victory of the Russian revolution.
Further, along with its bad sides, the war, like everything in life, has a good side, which is that by mobilizing practically the whole adult population of Russia, it has given the army the character of a people's army, and has thus facilitated the work of uniting the soldiers with the insurrectionary workers. This, in fact, explains the comparative ease with which the revolution broke out and triumphed in our country.
But the army is mobile and fluid, particularly owing to its constant movements from one place to another in conformity with the requirements of war. The army cannot remain permanently in one place and protect the revolution from counter-revolution. Consequently, another armed force is needed, an army of armed workers who are naturally connected with the centres of the revolutionary movement. And if it is true that a revolution cannot win without an armed force that is ready to serve it at all times, then our revolution too must have its own force—a workers' guard vitally bound up with the cause of the revolution.
Thus a second condition for the victory of the revolution is the immediate arming of the workers—a workers' guard.
A characteristic feature of the revolutionary movements, in France for example, was the indubitable fact that the provisional governments there usually arose on the barricades, and were therefore revolutionary, or at any rate more revolutionary than the constituent assemblies they subsequently convoked, which usually met after the "tranquilization" of the country. This, indeed, explains why the more experienced revolutionaries of those times tried to get their program carried through with the help of a revolutionary government, and before the convocation of a constituent assembly, by delaying its convocation. Their idea was to confront the constituent assembly with already accomplished reforms.
That is not the case in our country. Our Provisional Government arose not on the barricades, but near the barricades. That is why it is not revolutionary—it is only being dragged along in the tail of the revolution, unwillingly and getting in its way. And judging from the fact that the revolution is growing ever more profound, is putting forward social demands—the eight-hour day and confiscation of the land—and is revolutionizing the provinces, it may be confidently said that the future Popular Constituent Assembly will be much more democratic than the present Provisional Government, which was elected by the Duma of June the Third.
Moreover, it is to be feared that the Provisional Government, scared as it is by the sweep of the revolution and imbued with imperialist tendencies, may, in certain political circumstances, serve as a "lawful" shield and screen for the counter-revolution that is organizing.
The convocation of a Constituent Assembly should therefore not be delayed under any circumstances.
In view of this, it is necessary to convene a Constituent Assembly as speedily as possible, as the only institution which will enjoy authority in the eyes of all sections of society and be capable of crowning the work of the revolution, thereby clipping the wings of the rising counter-revolution.
Thus a third condition for the victory of the revolution is the speedy convocation of a Constituent Assembly.
A general condition for all these necessary measures is the opening of peace negotiations as speedily as possible and the termination of this inhuman war, because continuation of the war, with the financial, economic and food crisis it brings in its train, is that submerged reef on which the ship of revolution may be wrecked.
Pravda, No. 12, March 18, 1917