Written on November 5 or 6 (18 or 19), 1917
From V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, 4th English Edition,
Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1964
Vol. 26, pp. 303-307.
Translated from the Russian
by Yuri Sdobnikov and George Hanna
Edited by George Hanna
TO ALL PARTY MEMBERS
AND TO ALL THE WORKING CLASSES OF RUSSIA
It is a matter of common knowledge that the majority at the Second All-Russia Congress of Soviets of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies were delegates belonging to the Bolshevik Party.
This fact is fundamental for a proper understanding of the victorious revolution that has just taken place in Petrograd, Moscow and the whole of Russia. Yet that fact is constantly forgotten and ignored by all the supporters of the capitalists and their unwitting aides, who are undermining the fundamental principle of the new revolution, namely, all power to the Soviets. There must be no government in Russia other than the Soviet Government. Soviet power has been won in Russia, and the transfer of government from one Soviet party to another is guaranteed without any revolution, simply by a decision of the Soviets; simply by new elections of deputies to the Soviets. The majority at the Second All-Russia Congress of Soviets belonged to the Bolshevik Party. Therefore the only Soviet Government is the one formed by that Party. And everybody knows that the Central Committee of the Bolshevik Party, several hours prior to the formation of the new government, and to the presentation of the list of its members to the Second All-Russia Congress of Soviets, summoned to its session three of the most prominent members of the group of Left Socialist-Revolutionaries, Comrades Kamkov, Spiro and
Karelin, and invited them to join the new government. We very much regret that the Left Socialist-Revolutionary comrades refused; we regard their refusal as impermissible on the part of revolutionaries and champions of the working people. We are ready at any moment to include Left Socialist-Revolutionaries in the government, but we declare that, as the majority party at the Second All-Russia Congress of Soviets, we are entitled to form the government, and it is our duty to the people to do so.
Everybody knows that the Central Committee of our Party submitted a purely Bolshevik list of People's Commissars to the Second All-Russia Congress of Soviets, and that the Congress approved this list of a purely Bolshevik government.
The statements to the effect that the Bolshevik government is not a Soviet Government are therefore pure lies, and come, and can come, only from the enemies of the people, from the enemies of Soviet power. On the contrary, now, after the Second All-Russia Congress of Soviets, and until the Third Congress meets, or until new elections to the Soviets are held, or until a new government is formed by the Central Executive Committee, only a Bolshevik government can be regarded as the Soviet Government.
Comrades, yesterday, November 4, several members of the Central Committee of our Party and of the Council of People's Commissars -- Kamenev, Zinoviev, Nogin, Rykov, Milyutin and a few others -- resigned from the Central Committee of our Party, and the three last named from the Council of People's Commissars. In a large party like ours, notwithstanding the proletarian and revolutionary line of our policy, it was inevitable that individual comrades should have proved to be insufficiently staunch and firm in the struggle against the enemies of the people. The tasks that now face our Party are really immense, the difficulties are enormous, and several members of our Party who formerly held posts of responsibility have flinched in face of the onslaught of the bourgeoisie and fled from our ranks. The bourgeoisie and all its helpers are jubilant over this fact and
are maliciously rejoicing, clamouring about disintegration and predicting the fall of the Bolshevik government.
Comrades, do not believe these lies. The comrades who have resigned have acted as deserters, since they not only quitted the posts entrusted to them, but violated the direct decision of the Central Committee of our Party binding them to delay their resignation at least until a decision was taken by the Petrograd and Moscow Party organisations. We strongly condemn this desertion. We are profoundly convinced that all class-conscious workers, soldiers and peasants who belong to or sympathise with our Party will condemn the actions of the deserters with equal severity.
But we declare that the desertion of a few individuals belonging to the leading group of our Party cannot for a moment or in the slightest way shake the unity of the masses who follow our Party and that it therefore will not shake our Party.
You must recall, comrades, that two of the deserters, Kamenev and Zinoviev, acted as deserters and blacklegs even before the Petrograd uprising; for they not only voted against the uprising at the decisive meeting of the Central Committee on October 10, 1917, but, even after the decision had been taken by the Central Committee, agitated among the Party workers against the uprising. It is common knowledge that newspapers which fear to take the side of the workers and are more inclined to side with the bourgeoisie (e.g., Novaya Zhizn ), raised at that time, in common with the whole bourgeois press, a hue and cry about the "disintegration" of our Party, about "the collapse of the uprising" and so on. Events, however, swiftly refuted the lies and slanders of some and the doubts, waverings and cowardice of others: The "storm" they tried to raise over the efforts of Kamenev and Zinoviev to thwart the Petrograd uprising proved to be a storm in a teacup, while the great enthusiasm of the people, the great heroism of millions of workers, soldiers, and peasants in Petrograd, in Moscow, at the front, in the trenches and in the villages, pushed the deserters out of the way as easily as a railway train pushes aside splinters of wood.
Shame on all the faint-hearted, all the waverers and doubters, on all those who allowed themselves to be intimidated by the bourgeoisie or who have succumbed to the outcries
of their direct and indirect supporters! There is not the slightest hesitation among the mass of the workers and soldiers of Petrograd, Moscow and other places. Our Party stands solidly and firmly, as one man, in defence of Soviet power, in defence of the interests of all the working people, and first and foremost of the workers and poor peasants.
Bourgeois hacks and those who allowed themselves to be intimidated by the bourgeoisie accuse us in chorus of being uncompromising, of being irreconcilable, of refusing to share power with another party. That is not true, comrades. We have invited and continue to invite the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries to share power with us. It is not our fault that they have refused. We began the negotiations, and, after the delegates of the Second Congress of Soviets had dispersed, we made all kinds of concessions in the course of these negotiations, even to the point of provisionally agreeing to admit representatives of a section of the Petrograd City Council, that nest of Kornilov men, which will be the first to be swept away by the people should the Kornilovite scoundrels, should the darling sons of the capitalists and landowners, the officer cadets, attempt once more to resist the will of the people as they did last Sunday in Petrograd and as they would like to do again (as is proved by the exposure of the conspiracy of Purishkevich and the documents seized on him yesterday, November 3). But the gentlemen who stand behind the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries and act through them in the interests of the bourgeoisie interpreted our readiness to make concessions as weakness, and took advantage of this readiness to present us with new ultimatums. At the conference on November 3, Mr. Abramovich and Mr. Martov appeared and presented an ultimatum: no negotiations until our government puts a stop to the arrests and to the suppression of bourgeois newspapers.
Both our Party and the Central Executive Committee of the Congress of Soviets refused to accept this ultimatum, which obviously emanated from the supporters of Kaledin, the bourgeoisie, Kerensky and Kornilov. The conspiracy of Purishkevich and the appearance in Petrograd on November 5 of a delegation from a unit of the 17th Army Corps threatening us with a march on Petrograd (a ridiculous threat, for the advanced detachments of these Kornilovites have
already been beaten and have fled at Gatchina, while most of them have refused to fight against the Soviets) -- all these events have proved who were the real authors of the ultimatum of Mr. Abramovich and Mr. Martov and whom these people really served.
Let the working people, therefore, remain calm and firm! Our Party will never yield to the ultimatums of the minority in the Soviets, the minority who have allowed themselves to be intimidated by the bourgeoisie and, despite their "good intentions" virtually act as puppets in the hands of the Kornilov gang.
We stand firmly by the principle of Soviet power, i.e., the power of the majority obtained at the last Congress of Soviets. We agreed, and still agree, to share power with the minority in the Soviets, provided that minority loyally and honestly undertake to submit to the majority and carry out the programme, approved by the whole Second All-Russia Congress of Soviets, for gradual, but firm and undeviating steps towards socialism. But we shall not submit to any ultimatums of groups of intellectuals who are not backed by the people, and who in actual fact are backed only by the Kornilovites, the Savinkov men, the officer cadets, etc.
Let the working people, therefore, remain calm and firm! Our Party, the party of the Soviet majority, stands solid and united in defence of their interests and, as before, behind our Party stand the millions of the workers in the cities, the soldiers in the trenches and the peasants in the villages, prepared at all costs to achieve the victory of peace and the victory of socialism!