Lev Kamenev in March-April 1917
Unsigned editorial: ‘The Provisional Government and revolutionary social democracy’ (Pravda March 14 1917)
Full worker-peasant vlast
The proletariat and the peasantry and the army composed of these classes will consider the revolution now begun as completed only when it has satisfied their demands entirely and in full - when all remnants of the former regime, economic as well as political, have been torn up to their very roots. This full satisfaction of their demands is possible only when full and complete vlast [vsia polnota vlasti] is in their own hands. Insofar as the revolution is going to develop and to deepen, it will come to this - to the dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry.
Provisional Government is counterrevolutionary by nature
The Provisional Government, in accordance with the social nature of the strata from which it came, would like to hold back the development of the revolution at its first steps. If they haven’t done so as yet, it is only because they don’t have the strength for it … We must realise that the paths of the democracy and of the Provisional Government will diverge - that, when the bourgeoisie comes to its senses, it will inevitably attempt to halt the revolutionary movement and not permit it to develop to the point of satisfying the essential needs of the proletariat and the peasantry.
The active forces of the great revolution are working for us; they are exposing the inadequacy and the limitations of any attempt to solve the tasks of the revolution by means of compromise.
Absolute lack of confidence in the government
The slogan of the moment still remains: organisation of the forces of the proletariat; consolidation of the forces of the proletariat, peasantry and army by means of the Soviets of Deputies; absolute lack of confidence [nedoverie] in any liberal promises.
‘Without secret diplomacy’ (Pravda March 15 1917)
We need to show the soviet constituency the actual aims of the imperialist war
The narody, drawn into an imperialist war against their will, [need] a clear answer about the reasons why this war is being fought. And when millions of soldiers and workers on all fronts see clearly the actual aims of the governments that dragged them into the bloody shambles, it will mean not only an end to the war, but also a decisive step against the system of violence and exploitation that causes all the wars.
Comments to Petersburg Committee, March 18 1917
We need to win over a majority of the soviet constituency, and we can be confident that we will succeed, if we present our message correctly
It is surprising that the Bolsheviks are not occupying a dominant position in the Petrograd Soviet of Worker and Soldier Deputies - and why do they allow into the soviet the liquidators, who do not express the outlook of the Petrograd workers? We are the representatives of the revolutionary element in Petrograd, but in the meantime it seems that the wide masses do not understand us. Evidently, since we are essentially correct, we are formulating our resolutions and decisions in a way that the masses do not understand.
We should take the vlast when we are confident of being able to keep it - and this moment is coming
Have we developed to the point that we can create the dictatorship of the proletariat? No. What is important is not taking the vlast - what is important is keeping it. [Nevazhno-vziat’ vlast, vazhno-uderzhat’.] This moment will come, but it will be advantageous for us to put it off, since right now our forces are still inadequate.
‘On the Provisional Government’ - resolution passed by Central Committee, March 22 1917
Provisional Government is counterrevolutionary
The Provisional Government, as one put forward by the conservative bourgeois classes of [elite] society and tied by its interests to Anglo-French capital, is incapable of resolving the tasks put forward by the revolution. Its active opposition [protivodeistvie] to the further development and deepening of the revolution is paralysed only by the growth of the revolutionary forces themselves and of their organisations. [We must] make clear the true class essence of the present government.
Full and complete worker-peasant vlast
The Soviets of Worker and Soldier Deputies in the cities and the Soviets of Peasant and Batrak Deputies in the villages, as embryos [zachatki] of a revolutionary vlast that will be prepared at a given moment in the further development of the revolution to institute a full and complete vlast [polnota vlasti] in alliance with revolutionary democracy so that the demands of the insurgent people may be fully realised.
International revolution is required to bring the Russian Revolution to its full conclusion
The Russian Revolution - the first in a series of revolution and uprisings by the proletariat that the imperialist war will inevitably engender - can only secure for the peoples of Russia the maximum of democratic liberties and social reforms if it becomes the starting point for the revolutionary movement of the western European proletariat against their own bourgeois governments.
Against revolutionary defencism
The Social Democratic Party, as the leader of the proletariat in this struggle for peace, must tirelessly make clear the true meaning of the present imperialist war and must struggle undeviatingly against the imperialist current that is zealously cultivated and inflamed by the liberal bourgeoisie, but also against the nationalist current in the revolution, as represented by the petty bourgeois groups that have attached themselves to the revolution. Any vacillation in this struggle and - what is worse - any bowing to this nationalist current, would be a betrayal of the tasks of the international proletariat and, thereby, the true interests of the tasks of both the proletariat and the entire toiling population of Russia.
‘Our platform’ (Pravda March 26 1917 - unsigned)
Support for the Provisional Government is unacceptable
Some will say to us: why don’t you call outright for support of the Provisional Government, just as the bourgeois and radical press is doing, as the party of Socialist Revolutionaries is doing, and Plekhanov and all social-patriots are doing? … Those who talk of ‘support’ forget or do not wish to say that this government by its origins and by its interests remains a government of imperialist war. We are socialists and internationalists. In our struggle with imperialist governments we do not for a minute tie our hands. Therefore for us the task of the moment is the organisation of proletarian forces and of the revolutionary democracy generally, to whom only the further deepening and development of the revolution will present the question of taking up a full and complete vlast [polnota vlasti] from the hands of a Provisional Government that has exhausted itself.
International revolution is required to end the war with a democratic peace
Only a peace that has been created by the peoples rising up against imperialism is capable of satisfying the demands of the toiling masses of all countries and nations. The path to this peace is through the struggle of the proletariat in each of the warring countries against the imperialist ambitions of their own country …
But liberated Russia must do what tsarism could not do and did not want to do: by its own revolutionary example, by its open declaration of the necessity of ending the imperialist war that is tormenting the peoples of the whole globe, it must draw all the toilers - all those who in all countries have no interest in wartime profits - onto the path of the struggle against imperialism.
Speeches and resolutions at All-Russian Soviet Conference (March 29-April 3 1917)
Resolution on war: ‘The war is imperialist and threatens revolution’
The present war arose on the ground of imperialist (aiming at conquest) aspirations of the dominant classes of all countries, aiming at the conquest of new lands and at the subordination of small and backward states. Each extra day of war enriches the financial and industrial bourgeoisie and destroys and weakens the forces of the proletariat and the peasantry of all warring countries. In Russia, furthermore, this prolongation of the war creates a menacing danger to securing the conquests of the revolution and to carrying it out to the end [do kontsa].
Resolution on war: ‘Only worker-peasant vlast can justify war (and publish and repudiate the secret treaties signed by the tsarist government)’
Only a complete liquidation of the entire foreign policy of tsarism and the imperialist bourgeoisie - together with the liquidation of the international secret treaties and a genuine transfer of the vlast into the hands of the proletariat and the revolutionary democracy - would herald a [genuine] change in the imperialist character of the war, as far as Russia is concerned.
Resolution on Provisional Government: ‘Its class essence ensures its enmity toward deepening the revolution’
The Provisional Government consists of representatives from the conservative-bourgeois classes who are tied to the interests of Anglo-French imperialism … the forces of counterrevolution - now organising by using the Provisional Government as a banner and with its open tolerance - have already begun an attack against the Soviets of Worker and Soldier Deputies; the Soviets of Worker and Soldier Deputies are the only bodies that express the will of the revolutionary narod.
The counterrevolutionary Provisional Government deserves no credit for any revolutionary measures
We must say: the Provisional Government comes out of the milieu of militaristic bourgeois circles. It has been able to fulfil a few of the tasks set out by us [the Soviet] and by our masses in their revolutionary creativity, despite its class nature, only under the pressure of the revolutionary masses. This same government is the banner that covers up the organisation of counterrevolution. We must say that this counterrevolution that is being organised is already attacking the Soviet of Worker and Soldier Deputies.
An atmosphere of counterrevolution
The comrade from Pskov said that we breathe an atmosphere of counterrevolution. This needs to be said in any resolution in which we state our attitude to the Provisional Government: yes, we breathe an atmosphere of counterrevolution.
The vlast of the soviets is the only counterforce to counterrevolution
Let me ask you: where do we find pushback [otpor] to this counterrevolution? In the Provisional Government, used by the bourgeois counterrevolution as a front for its organisation and to which it swears fidelity? Or is the only pushback - not only to tsarism, but to bourgeois counterrevolution - found in the embryo of the revolutionary vlast of the narod itself: this Soviet of Worker and Soldier Deputies?
Don’t kid yourself: the war is imperialist
In this grave moment, do not allow illusions to possess us: only one thing is demanded of you, the same that we should demand of ourselves - the truth. Too many high-sounding words have covered up the robber policies that triumphed and led to war. Not high-sounding words, not a cover-up for the imperialist war, but the truth, the naked truth about what kind of war this is - this is what all the narody demand. We here, we alone - the victorious revolution - can say this truth, and we must say it. We must say that this is not a narodnyi war, that this war was not dreamed up by the narody, that the imperialist classes of all countries have doomed us to this war.
Did I mention that the war is imperialist?
Let all our comrades know, let all former members of the International of the workers know, that we salute not only the socialist in the streets of Berlin who called on the narod to throw over their subjugation to capital and is now therefore sitting in Wilhelm’s prison - not just him, but all those who remain faithful to the banner of international socialism, who, at the first sounds of the imperialist call to arms, said: ‘No, bourgeois gentlemen, this is your war! We may still be insufficiently strong to oppose our will that aims at the brotherhood of the narody to your will that aims at dividing markets and colonies among yourselves, but we protest against the fact that you, the slave-owners, use us to divide up and grab profits.’
Kamenev calls for ‘demands’ on the government [Did Kamenev seriously think that the counterrevolutionary Provisional Government would call for uprisings in Allied countries? Or was he making ‘demands’ solely for agitational purposes?]
We must say: revolutionary Russia demands that the Provisional Government formulate the will of revolutionary Russia toward peace, and [revolutionary Russia] expects that only an uprising of the oppressed narody of other countries will support the Russian Revolution and will create a peace that in some small measure will make up for the immense waste of narodnyi blood, of narodnyi forces, that the vampire of militarism has already sucked out of the world.
Agreementism is doomed - no support for Provisional Government
Our attitude toward the Provisional Government at the present moment can be expressed this way: we foresee inevitable clashes, not between individuals, not between official bodies, not between groups, but between the classes of our Russian Revolution. We therefore should direct all our forces toward supporting not the Provisional Government, but the embryo of a revolutionary vlast, as embodied by the Soviet of Worker and Soldier Deputies, which sits here in our person.
The policies of the Provisional Government are determined by its class nature
Political parties and assemblies [such as this one] do not judge according to specific individuals, but according to the class nature of those strata to which a given individual belongs. And if this is the case, then we must say in this resolution that, putting on one side the course of development of the Russian Revolution and putting on the other side the class from which Guchkov and Miliukov have emerged, [there is] another organ of the revolutionary vlast - not [yet] a vlast, but its embryo.
Kontrol by the soviets of the Provisional Government aims not at ensuring that government policy is revolutionary (which will never happen), but to prepare for the government’s removal
We must call for support, not for this legal defender of the illegal support for counterrevolution - the Provisional Government - but rather for the establishment of the strictest kontrol, in expectation of the moment when the development of the revolution in its elemental path leads to a clash of the different classes of Russian society. We will then be compelled to fight off the attacks of the Guchkovs. These are the truths we must proclaim …
‘Absolute lack of confidence’ in the Provisional Government [repeating the phrase from his first editorial on March 14]
I think that if revolutionary democracy wants to further develop the revolution, there is only one position it can take: absolute lack of confidence [absoliutnoe nedoverie] in the government, one that did not arise from the milieu of revolutionary democracy. [Applause] … We must say: the Provisional Government comes out of the milieu of militaristic bourgeois circles.
We fully intend to replace the Provisional Government with a soviet vlast - only not ‘this very minute’
In this resolution about relations to the Provisional Government, unless you counterpose the organ of the revolutionary vlast to the Provisional Government, unless you state what is actually the case - [namely] that this organ will grow into the vlast - then [although] right now we do not want to overthrow this Provisional Government, we do not want to take the initiative of any revolutionary struggle against this government at the given moment, this very minute …
A ‘double vlast’ [dvoevlastie, usually translated ‘dual power’] is intolerable, and can only end with the single vlast of the soviets
We now confront the undoubted fact of a double vlast. From the report made yesterday by comrade Steklov, it is completely clear that the relation between the revolutionary movement and the Provisional Government is not only the result of an agreement, but at the same time the result of a struggle both internal [that is, between the parties to the agreement] and, to a considerable degree, stubborn … We need to say, in the resolution on our attitude to our Provisional Government, how we understand this double vlast, and also whether there exists, besides the Provisional Government, another organising centre of the revolution, and [if so] what mutual relations exist between them.
The soviets are not yet a vlast
The will of the revolutionary narod expresses itself in one organ - an organ that is incarnated in the multifarious Soviets of Worker and Soldier Deputies, scattered over the whole Russian land. This is where the will of the narod is concentrated and in no other place. And if this is the case, we must speak, not of support for the Provisional Government, but exclusively of support for these Soviets of Worker and Soldier Deputies.
The foreign policy of the Provisional Government is identical to tsarism
And, comrades, I call you to face the truth. Dare to look this truth in the eye. We have overthrown tsarism, and this means the liberation of the narody inside Russia. But does it also mean our liberation from the methods of foreign policy that tsarism used, with complete lack of any input from society [pri polnom bezglasii vsekh]?
No confidence in the Provisional Government
We need to say in the resolution exactly, clearly and definitely that the issue is not that the Provisional Government is composed of these individuals or those, but rather that it represents the interests of a certain class of society - one that does not cease to be a specific class with its specific interests, even though 10 or 12 [individual] representatives make this or that declaration. We need to say to the narod that if the government is tied by its interests to English and French capitalism, then we cannot give our confidence to specific individuals. Political parties and assemblies [such as this one] do not judge according to specific individuals, but according to the class nature of those strata to which a given individual belongs …
Support for the Provisional Government? Are you kidding?
When we speak of support, are we talking about support for the dozen or so individuals, in whom we do not believe, because we believe in not a single one of these individuals, we don’t believe in Guchkov nor Miliukov? Or are we talking about confidence and support for a party [the Kadet liberal party] that characterises the role of the Soviet of Worker and Soldier Deputies in the way we have just seen [Kamenev had just quoted imperialistic resolutions from the recent Kadet party congress]? Or are we talking about support for the bourgeoisie as a class, that is openly busy with counterrevolution? What kind of support are we talking about: support for a party, for a group, for individuals or for classes in this revolution?
Ending this brutal war is our first priority
Gathered here together as sovereign [polnovlastnye] representatives of the narody of Russia, we must say: ‘We not only call all the oppressed, all the enslaved, all the victims of world imperialism to an insurrection against slavery, against the imperialist classes, but we also say in the name of the Russian revolutionary narod: not one drop of unnecessary blood will we allow to flow to serve the interests of the bourgeoisie, either ours or theirs’ … The Russian revolutionary army and the proletariat did not carry out a revolution simply in order to allow the blood to flow even one extra hour, one extra unnecessary minute.
Support for the Provisional Government implies coalition - the kind of coalition called for by socialists on the extreme right wing of Social Democracy, such as Plekhanov
It would be completely logical for those representatives of the Soviet of Worker and Soldier Deputies who yesterday defended a certain attitude toward the war in a manner well-known to us, as expressed in the resolution [about the war] that we [that is, you, the majority of the conference] adopted, and logical for those comrades who proposed to us that we support this government, as in the executive committee’s proposed resolution [about the government] - I would consider it logical on their part if they took the step [coalition] that has already been predicted by one of the socialist groups - the group headed by GV Plekhanov. He has written that, if we take the war as it is now, along with the secret treaties whose repudiation or publication has been rejected here - if we call for support for the Provisional Government - then it is natural to extend this support right up into entry into the government. I myself stand on another point of view.
Bolshevik party conference, end of March
‘An expression of support - even a hint - is impermissible’
The point about support in the resolution proposed by Steklov [that is, the agreementist resolution] is utterly unacceptable. An expression of support - even a hint - is impermissible. We can’t support the government, because it is imperialist - because, despite its declaration, it remains in alliance with the Anglo-French bourgeoisie … In last evening’s amendments to the resolution, we said that support was not possible. In view of the double vlast, the will of the revolutionary narod is incarnated not in the Provisional Government, but in the Soviets of Worker Deputies, and it is they that must be strengthened, for they are bound to clash with the Provisional Government.
The soviets and only the soviets express the will of the revolutionary narod
The task of the Congress is to proclaim to all of Russia that the sole expresser of the will of the revolutionary narod is the Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies, and that we must strengthen and support them and not the Provisional Government.
‘Our differences’, April 8 1917
Endorses speeches and resolutions presented at All-Soviet Conference
[Lenin criticises the policy of Pravda] as expressed at the time of the congress of Soviets and in the statements of the Bolshevik delegates at that congress. This policy of Pravda is precisely formulated in the resolutions about the Provisional Government and the war, as drafted by the Bureau of the Central Committee and accepted by the Bolshevik delegates at the congress.
Against revolutionary defencism
[We will defend this platform] against the demoralising influence of ‘revolutionary defencism’, as well as against comrade Lenin’s critique.
Against agreementist socialist leaders in the soviet
[Lenin’s tactic] differs profoundly from the tactic that the representatives of Pravda at the All-Russian Congress defended against the official vozhdi of the Soviet [‘moderate’ socialists such as Tsereteli], as well as against the Mensheviks, who are dragging the soviet to the right.
‘On Lenin’s theses’ (Pravda April 12 1917)
Against revolutionary defencism
What should be the policy of the party in relation to the war? The defencists says: we need to defend the revolution at the front. Pravda says: we need to unfurl right now in Russia an extremely broad campaign aimed at the whole narod for universal peace, and by so doing helping out the proletariat of all countries to have an uprising against their governments. What say Lenin’s theses? Nothing.
Uprising later, not now
If comrade Lenin is correct that “we need to overthrow the Provisional Government, but definitely not right now” - and he undoubtedly is correct about this - then we must forthrightly label any call to an immediate overthrow as one that is not appropriate at the present moment [emphasis added], one that is harmful and that disorganises the forces of the revolutionary proletariat.
Worker-peasant bloc implies that the revolution is ‘bourgeois-democratic’
But steps toward socialism, to the overthrow of capital, can only be done by the workers. But the workers take into account that in the context of an uncompleted democratic revolution in the most economically backward country in Europe, in a moment when the village has not yet even liquidated [all the effects of] serfdom - that this context and this moment does not at all correspond to “decisive steps” to socialism.
Kamenev on how to achieve a worker-peasant vlast as soon as possible (critique of Lenin’s proposed resolutions in Kamenev’s report to the April Bolshevik party conference, April 24 1917)
The replacement of the Provisional Government by an exclusive worker-peasant vlast is an urgent matter of the near future
In one of these crises, and perhaps in the very near future, the question of the vlast will be posed in the sharpest possible form.
A worker-peasant vlast implies a ‘bourgeois-democratic revolution’, not a purely socialist revolution, in which the proletariat does not need allies
[In the latter part of March] the Bolshevik line received a definite, precise expression. We are against revolutionary defencism and against the Provisional Government, but, at the same time, we are against the immediate overthrow of the Provisional Government and against the immediate transformation of the bourgeois-democratic revolution into a socialist one. [Why?] In Russia … the revolution is not yet completed, because the whole mass of gentry [pomeshchik] land still finds itself in the hands of the gentry. We should acknowledge that gentry landowning - formally and factually a classic holdover of feudalism - is not yet liquidated, and that therefore the aforementioned evaluation [that is, Russia is experiencing a socialist revolution] is premature …
If the bourgeois-democratic revolution is finished, then this bloc could not exist, no definite tasks would stand before it, and the proletariat would conduct a revolutionary struggle against the bourgeois-democratic bloc. Working together at such a moment would be completely impossible …
Either the proletariat stands before tasks that can be carried out by itself alone, and not a single other social group is able to help him - and in that case we break up the bloc and move over to carrying out tasks that can be fulfilled only by the proletariat. Or we take into account the fact that under the circumstances of the present moment this bloc is viable and it has a future - and then we participate in the bloc and build our tactics such that this bloc is not torn apart [razorvat’].
The very name of the soviets - ‘worker and soldier deputies’ - implies a worker-peasant bloc
We regard the soviets of worker and soldier deputies as the organising centres of our forces and the centres of the vlast. We must acknowledge that they are the central nodes [uzlami] of the revolution. Their name alone [that is, ‘worker and soldier deputies’] shows that they represent a bloc composed of petty bourgeois and proletarian forces, before which stand unfinished bourgeois-democratic tasks … If we acknowledge the soviets as centres of the organisation of our forces, we therefore also acknowledge that there are tasks that can only be accomplished by an alliance [soiuz] of the workers and peasants. And this means that the bourgeois revolution is not yet finished, that it has not yet exhausted itself.
The proletariat indeed has a special role: the ‘hegemon’, the freely accepted political leader, of the worker-peasant bloc
I think we all understand that, when a Bolshevik talks about the bourgeois revolution, he has in mind not the classical bourgeois revolution that we usually see in the 18th century, but a revolution that is taking place in the 20th century and therefore contains in itself all the particularities of this century: that is, it is taking place in a time of war and there exists the hegemony of the proletariat … In the process of revolution, the party of the proletariat will present itself exactly and precisely as the party of socialist transformation [perevorot]. But that is one specific task. The other task consists of working with the bloc, supporting it, constructing our tactics with the aim of making sure we do not tear apart the bloc.
Our mantra must be: make sure we do not cause a schism between workers and peasants [cf Lenin’s final articles in 1923]
We are going forward with the [worker-peasant] bloc and we can still take a number of steps together. I hope that a proletarian party will act in this manner. The other task consists of working with the bloc, supporting it, constructing our tactics with the aim of making sure we do not tear apart the bloc.
The Provisional Government is counterrevolutionary both against the socialist proletariat and the democratic ‘petty bourgeois masses’
Only by taking into account the concrete context - the existence of revolutionary petty-bourgeois masses, who travel with the proletariat only part of the way - can we build our tactics. We must say that this Provisional Government will inevitably clash not only with the proletariat as a class with a socialist outlook, but also - in view of the fact that the government is bourgeois and imperialist - will clash with the entire petty-bourgeois bloc … Comrade Lenin doesn’t like the term ‘revolutionary democracy’, because it muffles the socialist face of the proletariat, but in essence we have to say that the clash of the bourgeoisie with the entire revolutionary democracy is inevitable.
We need majority support in the soviet constituency (as comrade Lenin seems to realise)
When comrade Lenin says that the Provisional Government rests on the confidence given it by the soviet and therefore overthrowing it [at the present time] is not possible [svergnut’ ego nel’zia], then he by that very acknowledgment sets boundaries to the tasks of the proletariat at the present moment …
We as a proletarian party should state that we cannot speed up this process [by premature attempts at overthrow]. For this reason, I’m completely in accord with comrade Lenin when he speaks out against too sharp a turn toward the slogan, ‘Down with the Provisional Government’, but I think the point should have been made just a little earlier … And as a result of this [inevitably looming] large-scale clash of the petty bourgeois with the Provisional Government, the slogan, ‘Down with the Provisional Government’, will lose its Blanquist character. This slogan will then compel these masses to aim at the establishment of a government that will actually fulfil its demands.
The war ensures that the Provisional Government will act in a counterrevolutionary fashion against soviet and other mass organisations
The continuation of the war is incompatible with the degree of freedom now enjoyed by the petty-bourgeois masses: to fight a war with the kind of [mass] organisations that now exist, to fight in an atmosphere of [continual] mass rallies, is a thing that is completely unheard of and doomed to defeat in every way. Thus a contradiction has arisen: on the one side, complete freedom and organisations not seen before, and, at the same time, the attempts of the imperialists to continue the war. And this will inevitably push the Provisional Government to struggle against this free organisation of the petty-bourgeois soldier masses and against a whole range of freedoms … Either the revolution will cut short the war or the war will attack the conquests of the revolution. To fight a war like they are fighting now is a thing that is, of course, impossible.
It is not enough to say the war is imperialist: we have to propose concrete ways of achieving peace
It is now utterly clear that the war is imperialist and that it can be ended only by socialist revolution. It is correct that defencism must be rejected. I maintain that this war can be ended only by a worldwide revolution and that fraternisation is the most direct means for this. But, besides having a definite policy for the front in the form of fraternization, shouldn’t we also, inside the country, carry out a struggle for peace as a political party should? If we don’t do it, then the other parties will take this task upon themselves …
If you know that the struggle for peace begins in actual fact only when the revolutionary proletariat stands at the vlast, and at the same time you know that the time for this hasn’t come, then why aren’t there concrete suggestions for [the intervening period], but nothing more than demands to liquidate the war? We have to show the masses concrete methods of struggle for the period when the vlast has not yet come into our hands.
We need a positive policy for the period between the present moment and the moment when we replace the Provisional Government
We give no confidence to the Provisional Government; we know that it must give up its vlast after clashing with the organised soviets and that the soviets will be compelled to take over the vlast, whether at that moment it wishes to or not - but do we have any kind of tactic up to that moment, when the vlast has not yet been transferred into the hands of the bloc? … We have to show the masses concrete methods of struggle for the period when the vlast has not yet come into our hands; we must make an effort so that comrade Lenin’s general, magnificently laid out maximum programme is brought into contact with real life by taking into consideration the circumstances of the present war …
Of course, all of our activity can be considered explanation, but then it would be enough to write resolutions and explanations. That’s hardly enough. We need concrete, active steps that will give the masses the possibility of arriving through their own practical experience at a whole series of definite attitudes toward the Provisional Government … [By limiting yourself to ‘explanations’ à la Lenin,] you are playing into the hands of our opponents and you will just sit around until objective conditions give you the vlast.
Lenin’s ‘patient explanation’ is no substitute for ‘genuine political work’
We will be left without [genuine] political work, we’ll be nothing but theorists, propagandists, who write excellent treatises about the future socialist revolution, but who distance ourselves from the situation we are now experiencing as political activists, as a political party with a definite outlook. But, in the opposite case, if we demand a series of political actions, we will know what demands from the soviet should be proposed by the comrades who are carrying on responsible work in the Executive Committee [of the soviet], we will know that we cannot limit ourselves to explanations … If you go to the Executive Committee and you are asked what you have decided about the Provisional Government, and you say: it’s not time yet to replace it, although at the same time it should be replaced [eventually], and for that reason we’re going to wait until the vlast is transferred into the hands of the soviets, and until then we will explain and explain - by doing this, you will be giving the vlast into the hands of our opponents.
Kontrol by the soviets is an agitation technique to help us remove the Provisional Government (and certainly not - ha ha - to get it to carry out revolutionary policies!)
But if we understand kontrol as a stage to the transfer of the vlast and organise it as a beginning, as a stage, then that will be our political demand, one that will really lead us forward, because the vlast should belong to the soviets, but the soviets are not taking the vlast.
Making ‘demands’ is an effective agitation technique; it in no way implies any expectation that the government will actually carry out the demanded policies, but the opposite: we bet our political future on the refusal of the Provisional Government to carry out revolutionary policies
You know, comrades, that at the present moment, not one meeting goes by without a resolution being passed that demands the publication of the secret treaties. Should we, as a political party, take on ourselves to demand the publication of the secret treaties - announce that this is our political demand? People will say to me: excuse me, you’re demanding something impossible. But the demands I make are not founded on the expectation that Miliukov will respond to me and publish the treaties. The policy of making demands that I am advocating is an agitational device for the development of the masses - a method of exposure of the fact that Guchkov and Miliukov cannot do this, that they do not want the publication of the secret treaties, that they are against the policy of peace. It is a device for showing the masses that, if they really want to create a revolutionary policy on an international level, then the vlast must be transferred into the hands of the soviet.
This agitation technique is particularly useful in the context of welding together a worker-peasant bloc
The policy of making demands: a policy that makes it a responsibility of a political party to group around itself the forces of the masses - not only proletarian masses, but also petty-bourgeois ones? In the form of a practical demand, we see the necessity of grouping these masses [around ourselves] in full awareness that, when these masses really understand the policies of the government, it will lead them to a direct clash with it and put before them the issue of the overthrow of the Provisional Government - an overthrow that will thus follow as a result of a lengthy process of the organisation of our forces.