By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Dictatorship vs. Democracy - (Terrorism and Communism)
Author: Trotzky, Leon Davidovich, 1879-1940
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Dictatorship vs. Democracy - (Terrorism and Communism)" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

produced from scanned images of public domain material




A Reply to Karl Kautsky by

With a Preface by
and Foreword by Max Bedact


Published 1922 by
799 Broadway, Room 405
New York City


FOREWORD                                      V

PREFACE                                      XI

INTRODUCTION                                  5

THE BALANCE OF POWER                         12


DEMOCRACY                                    28

TERRORISM                                    48


MARX AND ... KAUTSKY                         91




IN PLACE OF AN EPILOGUE                     188



In a land where "democracy" is so deeply entrenched as in our United
States of America it may seem futile to try to make friends for a
dictatorship, by a close comparison of the principles of the
two--Dictatorship versus Democracy. But then, confiding in the
inviting gesture of the Goddess of Liberty many of our friends and
fellow citizens have tested that sacred principle of democracy,
freedom of speech, a little too freely--and landed in the penitentiary
for it. Others again, relying on the not less sacred principle of
democracy, freedom of assembly, have come in unpleasant contact with a
substantial stick of hardwood, wielded by an unwieldily guardian of
the law, and awoke from the immediate effects of this collision in
some jail. Again others, leaning a little too heavily against the
democratic principle of freedom of press broke down that pasteboard
pillar of democracy, and incidentally into prison.

Looking at this side of the bright shining medal of our beloved
democracy it seems that there is not the slightest bit of difference
between the democracy of capitalist America and the dictatorship of
Soviet Russia. But there is a great difference. The dictatorship in
Russia is bold and upright class rule, which has as its ultimate
object the abolition of all class rule and all dictatorships. Our
democracy, on the other hand, is a Pecksniffian Dictatorship, is
hypocrisy incarnate, promising all liberty in phrases, but in reality
even penalizing free thinking, consistently working only for one
object: to perpetuate the rule of the capitalist class, the capitalist

"Dictatorship versus Democracy" is, therefore, enough of an open
question even in our own country to deserve some consideration. To
give food for thought on this subject is the object of the publication
of Trotsky's book.

This book is an answer to a book by Karl Kautsky, "Terrorism and
Communism." It is polemical in character. Polemical writings are,
as a rule, only thoroughly understood if one reads both sides of
the question. But even if we could not take for granted that the
proletarian reader is fully familiar with the question at issue we
could not conscientiously advise a worker to get Kautsky's book. It is
really asking our readers to undertake the superhuman task of reading a
book which in the guise of a scientific treatise is foully hitting him
below the belt, and then expect him to pay two dollars for it in the

Anyhow, to read Kautsky's book is an ordeal for any revolutionist.
Kautsky, in his book, tries to prove that the humanitarian instincts
of the masses must defeat any attempt to overpower and suppress the
bourgeoisie by terrorist means. But to read his book must kill in the
proletarian reader the last remnants of those instincts on which
Kautsky's hope for the safety of the bourgeoisie is based. There would
even not be enough of those instincts left to save Kautsky from the
utter contempt of the proletarian masses, a fate he so richly deserves.

Mr. Kautsky was once the foremost exponent of Marxism. Many of those
fighting to-day in the front ranks of the proletarian army revered
Kautsky as their teacher. But even in his most glorious days as a
Marxist his was the musty pedantry of the German professor, which was
hardly ever penetrated by a live spark of revolutionary spirit. Still,
the Russian revolution of 1905 found a friend in him. That revolution
did not commit the unpardonable sin of being successful. But when the
tornado of the first victorious proletarian revolution swept over
Russia and destroyed in its fury some of the tormentors and exploiters
of the working class--then Kautsky's "humanitarianism" killed the last
remnant of revolutionary spirit and instinct in him and left only a
pitiful wreck of an apologist for capitalism, that was once Kautsky,
the Marxist.

July, 1914. The echoes of the shots fired in Sarajewo threaten to set
the world in flames. Will it come, the seeming inevitable? No!--A
thousand times no! Had not the forces of a future order, had not the
International of Labor--the Second International--solemnly declared in
1907 in Stuttgart, in 1911 in Copenhagen and in 1912 in Basel: "We will
fight war by all means at our disposal. Let the exploiters start a war.
It will begin as a war of capitalist governments against each other; it
will end--it must end--as a war of the working class of the world
against world capitalism; it must end in the proletarian revolution."
We, the socialists of the world, comrades from England and Russia, from
America and Germany, from France and Austria; we comrades from all over
the world, had solemnly promised ourselves: "War against war!" We had
promised ourselves and our cause to answer the call of capitalism for a
world war with a call on the proletariat for a world revolution.

Days passed. July disappeared in the ocean of time. The first days of
August brought the booming of the cannon to our ears, messengers of
the grim reality of war. And then the news of the collapse of the
Second International; reports of betrayal by the socialists; betrayal
in London and Vienna; betrayal in Berlin and Brussels; betrayal in
Paris; betrayal everywhere. What would Kautsky say to this rank
betrayal, Kautsky, the foremost disciple of Marx, Kautsky, the
foremost theoretician of the Second International? Will he at least
speak up? He did not speak up. Commenting on the betrayal he wrote in
"Die Neue Zeit": "Die Kritik der Waffen hat eingesetzt; jetzt hat die
Waffe der Kritik zu schweigen."[1] With this one sentence Kautsky
replaced Marxism as the basis of his science with rank and undisguised
hypocrisy. From then on although trying to retain the toga of a
Marxist scholar on his shoulders, with thousands of "if's" and
"when's" and "but's" he became the apologist for the betrayal of the
German Social-Democracy, and the betrayal of the Second International.

          [1] The arbitrament of arms is on; now the weapon of
          criticism must rest.

It is true that his "if's" and "when's" and "but's" did not satisfy
the Executive Committee of the Social-Democratic Party. They hoped for
a victory of the imperial army and wanted to secure a full and
unmitigated share of the glory of "His Majesty's" victory. That is why
they did not appreciate Kautsky's excellent service. So they helped
the renegade to a cheap martyrdom by removing him from the editorship
of "Die Neue Zeit." After 1918 it may have dawned upon Scheidemann and
Ebert how much better Kautsky served the capitalist cause by couching
his betrayal in words that did not lose him outright all the
confidence of the proletariat. And Kautsky himself is now exhausting
every effort to prove to Noske and Scheidemann how cruelly he was
mistreated and how well he deserves to be taken back to their bosom.

Kautsky's book "Terrorism and Communism" is dictated by hatred of the
Russian revolution. It is influenced by fear of a like revolution in
Germany. It is written with tears for the counter-revolutionary
bourgeoisie and its pseudo-"socialist" henchmen who have been
sacrificed on the altar of revolution by the proletarian dictatorship
in Russia. Kautsky prefers to sacrifice the revolution and the
revolutionists on the altar of "humanitarianism." The author of
"Ethics and the Materialist Conception of History" knows--must
know--that humanitarianism under capitalism is capitalist
humanitarianism. This humanitarianism mints gold out of the bones, the
blood, the health and the suffering of the whole working class while
it sheds tears about an individual case of cruelty to one human being.
This humanitarianism punishes murder with death and beats to death the
pacifist who protests against war as an act of mass murder. Under the
cloak of "humanitarian instincts" Kautsky only hides the enemy of the
proletarian revolution. The question at issue is not _terrorism_. It
is the _dictatorship_; it is _revolution_ itself. If the Russian
proletariat was justified in taking over power it was in duty bound to
use _all_ means necessary to keep it. If it is a crime for them to use
terrorist means then it was a crime to take a power which they could
maintain only by terrorist means. And that is really Kautsky's point.
The crime of the Bolsheviki is that they took power. If Kautsky were a
mere sentimentalist and yet a revolutionist he could shed tears over
the unwillingness of the bourgeoisie to give up power without a
struggle. But not being a revolutionist he condemns the proletariat
for having taken and maintained power by the only means possible, by
_force_. Kautsky would much prefer to shed crocodile tears over
tens of thousands of proletarian revolutionists slaughtered by a
successful counter-revolution. He scorns the Russian Communists
because they robbed him of the opportunity to parade his petit
bourgeois and consequently pro-capitalist "humanitarian" sentiments in
a pro-revolutionary cloak. But he must parade them at any cost. So he
parades them without disguise as a mourner for the suppressed
bourgeoisie in Russia.

Trotsky's answer to Kautsky is not only one side of a controversy. It
is one of the literary fruits of the revolution itself. It breathes
the breath of revolution. It conquers the gray scholastic theory of
the renegade with the irresistible weapon of the revolutionary
experience of the Russian proletariat. It refuses to shed tears over
the victims of Gallifet and shows what alone saved the Russian
revolution from the Russian Gallifets, the Kolchaks, Wrangels, etc.

Trotsky's book is not only an answer to Karl Kautsky; it is an answer
to the thousands of Kautskys in the socialist movement the world over
who want the proletariat to drown the memory of seas of proletarian
blood shed by their treachery in an ocean of tears shed for the
suppressed bourgeoisie of Russia.

Trotsky's book is one of the most effective weapons in the literary
arsenal of the revolutionary proletariat in its fight against the
social traitors for leadership of the proletarian masses.



It has been said of the Bolsheviks that they are more interesting than
Bolshevism. To those who hold to the economic interpretation of
history that may seem a heresy. None the less, I believe that the
personality not merely of the leaders but also of their party goes far
to explain the making and survival of the Russian Revolution. To us in
the West they seem a wholly foreign type. With Socialist leaders and
organizations we and our fathers have been familiar for three-quarters
of a century. There has been no lack of talent and even of genius
among them. The movement has produced its great theorist in Marx, its
orator in Jaurès, its powerful tacticians like Bebel, and it has
influenced literature in Morris, Anatole France and Shaw. It bred,
however, no considerable man of action, and it was left for the
Russians to do what generations of Western Socialists had spent their
lives in discussing. There was in this Russian achievement an almost
barbaric simplicity and directness. Here were man who really believed
the formulæ of our theorists and the resolutions of our Congresses.
What had become for us a sterilized and almost respectable orthodoxy
rang to their ears as a trumpet call to action. The older generation
has found it difficult to pardon their sincerity. The rest of us want
to understand the miracle.

The real audacity of the Bolsheviks lay in this, that they made a
proletarian revolution precisely in that country which, of all
portions of the civilized world, seemed the least prepared for it by
its economic development. For an agrarian revolt, for the subdivision
of the soil, even for the overthrow of the old governing class, Russia
was certainly ready. But any spontaneous revolution, with its
foundations laid in the masses of the peasantry, would have been
individualistic and not communistic. The daring of the Bolsheviks lay
in their belief that the minute minority of the urban working class
could, by its concentration, its greater intelligence and its relative
capacity for organization, dominate the inert peasant mass, and give
to their outbreak of land-hunger the character and form of a
constructive proletarian revolution. The bitter struggle among Russian
parties which lasted from March, 1917, down to the defeat of Wrangel
in November, 1920, was really an internecine competition among them
for the leadership of the peasants. Which of these several groups
could enlist their confidence, to the extent of inducing them not
merely to fight, but to accept the discipline, military and civilian,
necessary for victory? At the start the Bolsheviks had everything
against them. They are nearly all townsmen. They talked in terms of a
foreign and very German doctrine. Few of them, save Lenin, grasped the
problems of rural life at all. The landed class should at least have
known the peasant better. Their chief rivals were the Social
Revolutionaries, a party which from its first beginnings had made a
cult of the Russian peasant, studied him, idealized him and courted
him, which even seemed in 1917 to have won him. Many circumstances
explain the success of the Bolsheviks, who proved once again in
history the capacity of the town, even when its population is
relatively minute, for swift and concentrated action. They also had
the luck to deal with opponents who committed the supreme mistake of
invoking foreign aid. But none of these advantages would have availed
without an immense superiority of character. The Slav temperament,
dreamy, emotional, undisciplined, showed itself at its worst in the
incorrigible self-indulgence of the more aristocratic "Whites," while
the "intellectuals" of the moderate Socialist and Liberal groups have
been ruined for action by their exclusively literary and æsthetic
education. The Bolsheviks may be a less cultivated group, but, in
their underground life of conspiracy, they had learned sobriety,
discipline, obedience, and mutual confidence. Their rigid dogmatic
Marxist faith gives to them the power of action which belongs only to
those who believe without criticism or question. Their ability to lead
depends much less than most Englishmen suppose, on their ruthlessness
and their readiness to practise the arts of intimidation and
suppression. Their chief asset is their self-confidence. In every
emergency they are always sure that they have the only workable plan.
They stand before the rest of Russia as one man. They never doubt or
despair, and even when they compromise, they do it with an air of
truculence. Their survival amid invasion, famine, blockade, and
economic collapse has been from first to last a triumph of the
unflinching will and the fanatical faith. They have spurred a lazy and
demoralized people to notable feats of arms and to still more
astonishing feats of endurance. To hypnotize a nation in this fashion
is, perhaps, the most remarkable feat of the human will in modern

This book is, so far, by far the most typical expression of the
Bolshevik temperament which the revolution has produced.
Characteristically it is a polemic, and not a constructive essay. Its
self-confidence, its dash, even its insolence, are a true expression
of the movement. Its author bears a world-famous name. Everyone can
visualize the powerful head, the singularly handsome features, the
athletic figure of the man. He makes in private talk an impression of
decision and definiteness. He is not rapid or expansive in speech, for
everything that he says is calculated and clear cut. One has the sense
that one is in the presence of abounding yet disciplined vitality. The
background is an office which by its military order and punctuality
rebukes the habitual slovenliness of Russia. On the platform his
manner was much quieter than I expected. He spoke rather slowly, in a
pleasant tenor voice, walking to and fro across the stage and choosing
his words, obviously anxious to express his thoughts forcibly but also
exactly. A flash of wit and a striking phrase came frequently, but the
manner was emphatically not that of a demagogue. The man, indeed, is a
natural aristocrat, and his tendency, which Lenin, the aristocrat by
birth, corrects, is towards military discipline and authoritative

There is nothing surprising to-day in the note of authority which one
hears in Trotsky's voice and detects in his writing, for he is the
chief of a considerable army, which owes everything to his talent for
organization. It was at Brest-Litovsk that he displayed the audacity
which is genius. Up to that moment there was little in his career to
distinguish him from his comrades of the revolutionary under-world--a
university course cut short by prison, an apprenticeship to agitation
in Russia, some years of exile spent in Vienna, Paris, and New York,
the distinction which he shares with Tchitcherin of "sitting" in a
British prison, a ready wit, a gift of trenchant speech, but as yet
neither the solid achievement nor the legend which gives confidence.
Yet this obscure agitator, handicapped in such a task by his Jewish
birth, faced the diplomatist and soldiers of the Central Empires,
flushed as they were with victory and the insolence of their kind,
forced them into public debate, staggered them by talking of first
principles as though the defeat and impotence of Russia counted for
nothing, and actually used the negotiations to shout across their
heads his summons to their own subjects to revolt. He showed in this
astonishing performance the grace and audacity of a "matador." This
unique bit of drama revealed the persistent belief of the Bolsheviks
in the power of the defiant challenge, the magnetic effect of sheer
will. Since this episode his services to the revolution have been more
solid but not less brilliant. He had no military knowledge or
experience, yet he took in hand the almost desperate task of creating
an army. He has often been compared to Carnot. But, save that both had
lost officers, there was little in common between the French and the
Russian armies in the early stages of the two revolutions. The French
army had not been demoralized by defeat, or wearied by long inaction,
or sapped by destructive propaganda. Trotsky had to create his Red
Army from the foundations. He imposed firm discipline, and yet
contrived to preserve the élan of the revolutionary spirit. Hampered
by the inconceivable difficulties that arose from ruined railways and
decayed industries, he none the less contrived to make a military
machine which overthrew the armies of Kolchak, Denikin and Wrangel,
with the flower of the old professional officers at their head. As a
feat of organization under inordinate difficulties, his work ranks as
the most remarkable performance of the revolution.

It is not the business of a preface to anticipate the argument of a
book, still less to obtrude personal opinions. Kautsky's labored
essay, to which this book is the brilliant reply, has been translated
into English, and is widely known. The case against the possibility of
political democracy in a capitalist society could hardly be better put
than in these pages, and the polemic against purely evolutionary
methods is formidable. The English reader of to-day is aware, however,
that the Russian revolution has not stood still since Trotsky wrote.
We have to realize that, even in the view of the Bolsheviks
themselves, the evolution towards Communism is in Russia only in its
early stages. The recent compromises imply, at the best, a very long
period of transition, through controlled capitalist production, to
Socialism. Experience has proved that catastrophic revolution and the
seizure of political power do not in themselves avail to make a
Socialist society. The economic development in that direction has
actually been retarded, and Russia, under the stress of civil war, has
retrograded into a primitive village system of production and
exchange. To every reader's mind the question will be present whether
the peculiar temperament of the Bolsheviks has led them to
over-estimate the importance of political power, to underestimate the
inert resistance of the majority, and to risk too much for the
illusion of dictating. To that question history has not yet given the
decisive answer. The dæmonic will that made the revolution and
defended it by achieving the impossible, may yet vindicate itself
against the dull trend of impersonal forces.

Dictatorship vs. Democracy


The origin of this book was the learned brochure by Kautsky with the
same name. My work was begun at the most intense period of the
struggle with Denikin and Yudenich, and more than once was interrupted
by events at the front. In the most difficult days, when the first
chapters were being written, all the attention of Soviet Russia was
concentrated on purely military problems. We were obliged to defend
first of all the very possibility of Socialist economic
reconstruction. We could busy ourselves little with industry, further
than was necessary to maintain the front. We were obliged to expose
Kautsky's economic slanders mainly by analogy with his political
slanders. The monstrous assertions of Kautsky--to the effect that the
Russian workers were incapable of labor discipline and economic
self-control--could, at the beginning of this work, nearly a year ago,
be combatted chiefly by pointing to the high state of discipline and
heroism in battle of the Russian workers at the front created by the
civil war. That experience was more than enough to explode these
bourgeois slanders. But now a few months have gone by, and we can turn
to facts and conclusions drawn directly from the economic life of
Soviet Russia.

As soon as the military pressure relaxed after the defeat of Kolchak
and Yudenich and the infliction of decisive blows on Denikin, after
the conclusion of peace with Esthonia and the beginning of
negotiations with Lithuania and Poland, the whole country turned its
mind to things economic. And this one fact, of a swift and
concentrated transference of attention and energy from one set of
problems to another--very different, but requiring not less
sacrifice--is incontrovertible evidence of the mighty vigor of the
Soviet order. In spite of political tortures, physical sufferings and
horrors, the laboring masses are infinitely distant from political
decomposition, from moral collapse, or from apathy. Thanks to a regime
which, though it has inflicted great hardships upon them, has given
their life a purpose and a high goal, they preserve an extraordinary
moral stubbornness and ability unexampled in history, and concentrate
their attention and will on collective problems. To-day, in all
branches of industry, there is going on an energetic struggle for the
establishment of strict labor discipline, and for the increase of the
productivity of labor. The party organizations, the trade unions, the
factory and workshop administrative committees, rival one another in
this respect, with the undivided support of the public opinion of the
working class as a whole. Factory after factory willingly, by
resolution at its general meeting, increases its working day.
Petrograd and Moscow set the example, and the provinces emulate
Petrograd. Communist Saturdays and Sundays--that is to say, voluntary
and unpaid work in hours appointed for rest--spread ever wider and
wider, drawing into their reach many, many hundreds of thousands of
working men and women. The industry and productivity of labor at the
Communist Saturdays and Sundays, according to the report of experts
and the evidence of figures, is of a remarkably high standard.

Voluntary mobilizations for labor problems in the party and in the
Young Communist League are carried out with just as much enthusiasm as
hitherto for military tasks. Voluntarism supplements and gives life to
universal labor service. The Committees for universal labor service
recently set up have spread all over the country. The attraction of
the population to work on a mass scale (clearing snow from the roads,
repairing railway lines, cutting timber, chopping and bringing up of
wood to the towns, the simplest building operations, the cutting of
slate and of peat) become more and more widespread and organized every
day. The ever-increasing employment of military formations on the
labor front would be quite impossible in the absence of elevated
enthusiasm for labor.

True, we live in the midst of a very difficult period of economic
depression--exhausted, poverty-stricken, and hungry. But this is no
argument against the Soviet regime. All periods of transition have
been characterized by just such tragic features. Every class society
(serf, feudal, capitalist), having exhausted its vitality, does not
simply leave the arena, but is violently swept off by an intense
struggle, which immediately brings to its participants even greater
privations and sufferings than those against which they rose.

The transition from feudal economy to bourgeois society--a step of
gigantic importance from the point of view of progress--gave us a
terrifying list of martyrs. However the masses of serfs suffered under
feudalism, however difficult it has been, and is, for the proletariat
to live under capitalism, never have the sufferings of the workers
reached such a pitch as at the epochs when the old feudal order was
being violently shattered, and was yielding place to the new. The
French Revolution of the eighteenth century, which attained its
titanic dimensions under the pressure of the masses exhausted with
suffering, itself deepened and rendered more acute their misfortunes
for a prolonged period and to an extraordinary extent. Can it be

Palace revolutions, which end merely by personal reshufflings at the
top, can take place in a short space of time, having practically no
effect on the economic life of the country. Quite another matter are
revolutions which drag into their whirlpool millions of workers.
Whatever be the form of society, it rests on the foundation of labor.
Dragging the mass of the people away from labor, drawing them for a
prolonged period into the struggle, thereby destroying their
connection with production, the revolution in all these ways strikes
deadly blows at economic life, and inevitably lowers the standard
which it found at its birth. The more perfect the revolution, the
greater are the masses it draws in; and the longer it is prolonged,
the greater is the destruction it achieves in the apparatus of
production, and the more terrible inroads does it make upon public
resources. From this there follows merely the conclusion which did not
require proof--that a civil war is harmful to economic life. But to
lay this at the door of the Soviet economic system is like accusing a
new-born human being of the birth-pangs of the mother who brought him
into the world. The problem is to make a civil war a short one; and
this is attained only by resoluteness in action. But it is just
against revolutionary resoluteness that Kautsky's whole book is

                 *       *       *       *       *

Since the time that the book under examination appeared, not only in
Russia, but throughout the world--and first of all in Europe--the
greatest events have taken place, or processes of great importance
have developed, undermining the last buttresses of Kautskianism.

In Germany, the civil war has been adopting an ever fiercer character.
The external strength in organization of the old party and trade union
democracy of the working class has not only not created conditions for
a more peaceful and "humane" transition to Socialism--as follows from
the present theory of Kautsky--but, on the contrary, has served as one
of the principal reasons for the long-drawn-out character of the
struggle, and its constantly growing ferocity. The more German
Social-Democracy became a conservative, retarding force, the more
energy, lives, and blood have had to be spent by the German
proletariat, devoted to it, in a series of systematic attacks on the
foundation of bourgeois society, in order, in the process of the
struggle itself, to create an actually revolutionary organization,
capable of guiding the proletariat to final victory. The conspiracy of
the German generals, their fleeting seizure of power, and the bloody
events which followed, have again shown what a worthless and wretched
masquerade is so-called democracy, during the collapse of imperialism
and a civil war. This democracy that has outlived itself has not
decided one question, has not reconciled one contradiction, has not
healed one wound, has not warded off risings either of the Right or of
the Left; it is helpless, worthless, fraudulent, and serves only to
confuse the backward sections of the people, especially the lower

The hope expressed by Kautsky, in the conclusion of his book, that the
Western countries, the "old democracies" of France and England--crowned
as they are with victory--will afford us a picture of a healthy,
normal, peaceful, truly Kautskian development of Socialism, is one
of the most puerile illusions possible. The so-called Republican
democracy of victorious France, at the present moment, is nothing but
the most reactionary, grasping government that has ever existed in the
world. Its internal policy is built upon fear, greed, and violence, in
just as great a measure as its external policy. On the other hand, the
French proletariat, misled more than any other class has ever been
misled, is more and more entering on the path of direct action. The
repressions which the government of the Republic has hurled upon
the General Confederation of Labor show that even syndicalist
Kautskianism--_i.e._, hypocritical compromise--has no legal place
within the framework of bourgeois democracy. The revolutionizing of
the masses, the growing ferocity of the propertied classes, and the
disintegration of intermediate groups--three parallel processes which
determine the character and herald the coming of a cruel civil
war--have been going on before our eyes in full blast during the last
few months in France.

In Great Britain, events, different in form, are moving along the
self-same fundamental road. In that country, the ruling class of which
is oppressing and plundering the whole world more than ever before,
the formulæ of democracy have lost their meaning even as weapons of
parliamentary swindling. The specialist best qualified in this sphere,
Lloyd George, appeals now not to democracy, but to a union of
Conservative and Liberal property holders against the working class.
In his arguments there remains not a trace of the vague democracy of
the "Marxist" Kautsky. Lloyd George stands on the ground of class
realities, and for this very reason speaks in the language of civil
war. The British working class, with that ponderous learning by
experience which is its distinguishing feature, is approaching that
stage of its struggle before which the most heroic pages of Chartism
will fade, just as the Paris Commune will grow pale before the coming
victorious revolt of the French proletariat.

Precisely because historical events have, with stern energy, been
developing in these last months their revolutionary logic, the author
of this present work asks himself: Does it still require to be
published? Is it still necessary to confute Kautsky theoretically? Is
there still theoretical necessity to justify revolutionary terrorism?

Unfortunately, yes. Ideology, by its very essence, plays in the
Socialist movement an enormous part. Even for practical England the
period has arrived when the working class must exhibit an
ever-increasing demand for a theoretical statement of its experiences
and its problems. On the other hand, even the proletarian psychology
includes in itself a terrible inertia of conservatism--the more that,
in the present case, there is a question of nothing less than the
traditional ideology of the parties of the Second International which
first roused the proletariat, and recently were so powerful. After the
collapse of official social-patriotism (Scheidemann, Victor Adler,
Renaudel, Vandervelde, Henderson, Plekhanov, etc.), international
Kautskianism (the staff of the German Independents, Friedrich Adler,
Longuet, a considerable section of the Italians, the British
Independent Labor Party, the Martov group, etc.) has become the chief
political factor on which the unstable equilibrium of capitalist
society depends. It may be said that the will of the working masses of
the whole of the civilized world, directly influenced by the course of
events, is at the present moment incomparably more revolutionary than
their consciousness, which is still dominated by the prejudices of
parliamentarism and compromise. The struggle for the dictatorship of
the working class means, at the present moment, an embittered struggle
with Kautskianism within the working class. The lies and prejudices of
the policy of compromise, still poisoning the atmosphere even in
parties tending towards the Third International, must be thrown aside.
This book must serve the ends of an irreconcilable struggle against
the cowardice, half-measures, and hypocrisy of Kautskianism in all

                 *       *       *       *       *

P.S.--To-day (May, 1920) the clouds have again gathered over Soviet
Russia. Bourgeois Poland, by its attack on the Ukraine, has opened the
new offensive of world imperialism against the Soviet Republic. The
gigantic perils again growing up before the revolution, and the great
sacrifices again imposed on the laboring masses by the war, are once
again pushing Russian Kautskianism on to the path of open opposition
to the Soviet Government--_i.e._, in reality, on to the path of
assistance to the world murderers of Soviet Russia. It is the fate of
Kautskianism to try to help the proletarian revolution when it is in
satisfactory circumstances, and to raise all kinds of obstacles in its
way when it is particularly in need of help. Kautsky has more than
once foretold our destruction, which must serve as the best proof of
his, Kautsky's, theoretical rectitude. In his fall, this "successor of
Marx" has reached a stage at which his sole serious political
programme consists in speculations on the collapse of the proletarian

He will be once again mistaken. The destruction of bourgeois Poland by
the Red Army, guided by Communist working men, will appear as a new
manifestation of the power of the proletarian dictatorship, and will
thereby inflict a crushing blow on bourgeois scepticism (Kautskianism)
in the working class movement. In spite of mad confusion of external
forms, watchwords, and appearances, history has extremely simplified
the fundamental meaning of its own process, reducing it to a struggle
of imperialism against Communism. Pilsudsky is fighting, not only for
the lands of the Polish magnates in the Ukraine and in White Russia,
not only for capitalist property and for the Catholic Church, but also
for parliamentary democracy and for evolutionary Socialism, for the
Second International, and for the right of Kautsky to remain a
critical hanger-on of the bourgeoisie. We are fighting for the
Communist International, and for the international proletarian
revolution. The stakes are great on either side. The struggle will be
obstinate and painful. We hope for the victory, for we have every
historical right to it.


Moscow, May 29, 1920.

Dictatorship vs. Democracy

_A Reply to Karl Kautsky_




The argument which is repeated again and again in criticisms of the
Soviet system in Russia, and particularly in criticisms of
revolutionary attempts to set up a similar structure in other
countries, is the argument based on the balance of power. The Soviet
regime in Russia is utopian--"because it does not correspond to the
balance of power." Backward Russia cannot put objects before itself
which would be appropriate to advanced Germany. And for the
proletariat of Germany it would be madness to take political power
into its own hands, as this "at the present moment" would disturb the
balance of power. The League of Nations is imperfect, but still
corresponds to the balance of power. The struggle for the overthrow of
imperialist supremacy is utopian--the balance of power only requires a
revision of the Versailles Treaty. When Longuet hobbled after Wilson
this took place, not because of the political decomposition of
Longuet, but in honor of the law of the balance of power. The Austrian
president, Seitz, and the chancellor, Renner, must, in the opinion of
Friedrich Adler, exercise their bourgeois impotence at the central
posts of the bourgeois republic, for otherwise the balance of power
would be infringed. Two years before the world war, Karl Renner, then
not a chancellor, but a "Marxist" advocate of opportunism, explained
to me that the regime of June 3--that is, the union of landlords and
capitalists crowned by the monarchy--must inevitably maintain itself
in Russia during a whole historical period, as it answered to the
balance of power.

What is this balance of power after all--that sacramental formula
which is to define, direct, and explain the whole course of history,
wholesale and retail? Why exactly is it that the formula of the
balance of power, in the mouth of Kautsky and his present school,
inevitably appears as a justification of indecision, stagnation,
cowardice and treachery?

By the balance of power they understand everything you please: the
level of production attained, the degree of differentiation of
classes, the number of organized workers, the total funds at the
disposal of the trade unions, sometimes the results of the last
parliamentary elections, frequently the degree of readiness for
compromise on the part of the ministry, or the degree of effrontery of
the financial oligarchy. Most frequently, it means that summary
political impression which exists in the mind of a half-blind pedant,
or a so-called realist politician, who, though he has absorbed the
phraseology of Marxism, in reality is guided by the most shallow
manoeuvres, bourgeois prejudices, and parliamentary "tactics." After
a whispered conversation with the director of the police department,
an Austrian Social-Democratic politician in the good, and not so far
off, old times always knew exactly whether the balance of power
permitted a peaceful street demonstration in Vienna on May Day. In the
case of the Eberts, Scheidemanns and Davids, the balance of power was,
not so very long ago, calculated exactly by the number of fingers
which were extended to them at their meeting in the Reichstag with
Bethmann-Hollweg, or with Ludendorff himself.

According to Friedrich Adler, the establishment of a Soviet
dictatorship in Austria would be a fatal infraction of the balance of
power; the Entente would condemn Austria to starvation. In proof of
this, Friedrich Adler, at the July congress of Soviets, pointed to
Hungary, where at that time the Hungarian Renners had not yet, with
the help of the Hungarian Adlers, overthrown the dictatorship of the
Soviets. At the first glance, it might really seem that Friedrich
Adler was right in the case of Hungary. The proletarian dictatorship
was overthrown there soon afterwards, and its place was filled by the
ministry of the reactionary Friedrich. But it is quite justifiable to
ask: Did the latter correspond to the balance of power? At all events,
Friedrich and his Huszar might not even temporarily have seized power
had it not been for the Roumanian army. Hence, it is clear that, when
discussing the fate of the Soviet Government in Hungary, it is
necessary to take account of the "balance of power," at all events in
two countries--in Hungary itself, and in its neighbor, Roumania. But
it is not difficult to grasp that we cannot stop at this. If the
dictatorship of the Soviets had been set up in Austria before the
maturing of the Hungarian crisis, the overthrow of the Soviet regime
in Budapest would have been an infinitely more difficult task.
Consequently, we have to include Austria also, together with the
treacherous policy of Friedrich Adler, in that balance of power which
determined the temporary fall of the Soviet Government in Hungary.

Friedrich Adler himself, however, seeks the key to the balance of
power, not in Russia and Hungary, but in the West, in the countries of
Clemenceau and Lloyd George. They have in their hands bread and
coal--and really bread and coal, especially in our time, are just as
foremost factors in the mechanism of the balance of power as cannon in
the constitution of Lassalle. Brought down from the heights, Adler's
idea consists, consequently, in this: that the Austrian proletariat
must not seize power until such time, as it is permitted to do so by
Clemenceau (or Millerand--_i.e._, a Clemenceau of the second

However, even here it is permissible to ask: Does the policy of
Clemenceau himself really correspond to the balance of power? At the
first glance it may appear that it corresponds well enough, and, if
it cannot be proved, it is, at least, guaranteed by Clemenceau's
gendarmes, who break up working-class meetings, and arrest and
shoot Communists. But here we cannot but remember that the
terrorist measures of the Soviet Government--that is, the same
searches, arrests, and executions, only directed against the
counter-revolutionaries--are considered by some people as a proof that
the Soviet Government does _not_ correspond to the balance of power.
In vain would we, however, begin to seek in our time, anywhere in the
world, a regime which, to preserve itself, did not have recourse to
measures of stern mass repression. This means that hostile class
forces, having broken through the framework of every kind of
law--including that of "democracy"--are striving to find their new
balance by means of a merciless struggle.

When the Soviet system was being instituted in Russia, not only the
capitalist politicians, but also the Socialist opportunists of all
countries proclaimed it an insolent challenge to the balance of
forces. On this score, there was no quarrel between Kautsky, the
Austrian Count Czernin, and the Bulgarian Premier, Radoslavov. Since
that time, the Austro-Hungarian and German monarchies have collapsed,
and the most powerful militarism in the world has fallen into dust.
The Soviet regime has held out. The victorious countries of the
Entente have mobilized and hurled against it all they could. The
Soviet Government has stood firm. Had Kautsky, Friedrich Adler, and
Otto Bauer been told that the system of the dictatorship of the
proletariat would hold out in Russia--first against the attack of
German militarism, and then in a ceaseless war with the militarism of
the Entente countries--the sages of the Second International would
have considered such a prophecy a laughable misunderstanding of the
"balance of power."

The balance of political power at any given moment is determined under
the influence of fundamental and secondary factors of differing
degrees of effectiveness, and only in its most fundamental quality is
it determined by the stage of the development of production. The
social structure of a people is extraordinarily behind the development
of its productive forces. The lower middle-classes, and particularly
the peasantry, retain their existence long after their economic
methods have been made obsolete, and have been condemned, by the
technical development of the productive powers of society. The
consciousness of the masses, in its turn, is extraordinarily behind
the development of their social relations, the consciousness of the
old Socialist parties is a whole epoch behind the state of mind of the
masses, and the consciousness of the old parliamentary and trade union
leaders, more reactionary than the consciousness of their party,
represents a petrified mass which history has been unable hitherto
either to digest or reject. In the parliamentary epoch, during the
period of stability of social relations, the psychological
factor--without great error--was the foundation upon which all current
calculations were based. It was considered that parliamentary
elections reflected the balance of power with sufficient exactness.
The imperialist war, which upset all bourgeois society, displayed the
complete uselessness of the old criteria. The latter completely
ignored those profound historical factors which had gradually been
accumulating in the preceding period, and have now, all at once,
appeared on the surface, and have begun to determine the course of

The political worshippers of routine, incapable of surveying the
historical process in its complexity, in its internal clashes and
contradictions, imagined to themselves that history was preparing the
way for the Socialist order simultaneously and systematically on all
sides, so that concentration of production and the development of a
Communist morality in the producer and the consumer mature
simultaneously with the electric plough and a parliamentary majority.
Hence the purely mechanical attitude towards parliamentarism, which,
in the eyes of the majority of the statesmen of the Second
International, indicated the degree to which society was prepared for
Socialism as accurately as the manometer indicates the pressure of
steam. Yet there is nothing more senseless than this mechanized
representation of the development of social relations.

If, beginning with the productive bases of society, we ascend the
stages of the superstructure--classes, the State, laws, parties, and
so on--it may be established that the weight of each additional part
of the superstructure is not simply to be added to, but in many cases
to be multiplied by, the weight of all the preceding stages. As a
result, the political consciousness of groups which long imagined
themselves to be among the most advanced, displays itself, at a moment
of change, as a colossal obstacle in the path of historical
development. To-day it is quite beyond doubt that the parties of the
Second International, standing at the head of the proletariat, which
dared not, could not, and would not take power into their hands at the
most critical moment of human history, and which led the proletariat
along the road of mutual destruction in the interests of imperialism,
proved a _decisive factor_ of the counter-revolution.

The great forces of production--that shock factor in historical
development--were choked in those obsolete institutions of the
superstructure (private property and the national State) in which they
found themselves locked by all preceding development. Engendered by
capitalism, the forces of production were knocking at all the walls of
the bourgeois national State, demanding their emancipation by means of
the Socialist organization of economic life on a world scale. The
stagnation of social groupings, the stagnation of political forces,
which proved themselves incapable of destroying the old class
groupings, the stagnation, stupidity and treachery of the directing
Socialist parties, which had assumed to themselves in reality the
defense of bourgeois society--all these factors led to an elemental
revolt of the forces of production, in the shape of the imperialist
war. Human technical skill, the most revolutionary factor in history,
arose with the might accumulated during scores of years against the
disgusting conservatism and criminal stupidity of the Scheidemanns,
Kautskies, Renaudels, Vanderveldes and Longuets, and, by means of its
howitzers, machine-guns, dreadnoughts and aeroplanes, it began a
furious pogrom of human culture.

In this way the cause of the misfortunes at present experienced by
humanity is precisely that the development of the technical command of
men over nature has _long ago_ grown ripe for the socialization
of economic life. The proletariat has occupied a place in production
which completely guarantees its dictatorship, while the most
intelligent forces in history--the parties and their leaders--have
been discovered to be still wholly under the yoke of the old
prejudices, and only fostered a lack of faith among the masses in
their own power. In quite recent years Kautsky used to understand
this. "The proletariat at the present time has grown so strong," wrote
Kautsky in his pamphlet, _The Path to Power_, "that it can calmly
await the coming war. There can be no more talk of a _premature
revolution_, now that the proletariat has drawn from the present
structure of the State such strength as could be drawn therefrom, and
now that its reconstruction has become a condition of the
proletariat's further progress." From the moment that the development
of productive forces, outgrowing the framework of the bourgeois
national State, drew mankind into an epoch of crises and convulsions,
the consciousness of the masses was shaken by dread shocks out of the
comparative equilibrium of the preceding epoch. The routine and
stagnation of its mode of living, the hypnotic suggestion of peaceful
legality, had already ceased to dominate the proletariat. But it had
not yet stepped, consciously and courageously, on to the path of open
revolutionary struggle. It wavered, passing through the last moment of
unstable equilibrium. At such a moment of psychological change, the
part played by the summit--the State, on the one hand, and the
revolutionary Party on the other--acquires a colossal importance. A
determined push from left or right is sufficient to move the
proletariat, for a certain period, to one or the other side. We saw
this in 1914, when, under the united pressure of imperialist
governments and Socialist patriotic parties, the working class was all
at once thrown out of its equilibrium and hurled on to the path of
imperialism. We have since seen how the experience of the war, the
contrasts between its results and its first objects, is shaking the
masses in a revolutionary sense, making them more and more capable of
an open revolt against capitalism. In such conditions, the presence of
a revolutionary party, which renders to itself a clear account of the
motive forces of the present epoch, and understands the exceptional
role amongst them of a revolutionary class; which knows its
inexhaustible, but unrevealed, powers; which believes in that class
and believes in itself; which knows the power of revolutionary method
in an epoch of instability of all social relations; which is ready to
employ that method and carry it through to the end--the presence of
such a party represents a factor of incalculable historical

And, on the other hand, the Socialist party, enjoying traditional
influence, which does _not_ render itself an account of what is going
on around it, which does _not_ understand the revolutionary situation,
and, therefore, finds no key to it, which does _not_ believe in either
the proletariat or itself--such a party in our time is the most
mischievous stumbling block in history, and a source of confusion and
inevitable chaos.

Such is now the role of Kautsky and his sympathizers. They teach the
proletariat not to believe in itself, but to believe its reflection in
the crooked mirror of democracy which has been shattered by the
jack-boot of militarism into a thousand fragments. The decisive factor
in the revolutionary policy of the working class must be, in their
view, not the international situation, not the actual collapse of
capitalism, not that social collapse which is generated thereby, not
that concrete necessity of the supremacy of the working class for
which the cry arises from the smoking ruins of capitalist
civilization--not all this must determine the policy of the
revolutionary party of the proletariat--but that counting of votes
which is carried out by the capitalist tellers of parliamentarism.
Only a few years ago, we repeat, Kautsky seemed to understand the real
inner meaning of the problem of revolution. "Yes, the proletariat
represents the sole revolutionary class of the nation," wrote Kautsky
in his pamphlet, _The Path to Power_. It follows that every collapse
of the capitalist order, whether it be of a moral, financial, or
military character, implies the bankruptcy of all the bourgeois
parties responsible for it, and signifies that the sole way out of the
blind alley is the establishment of the power of the _proletariat_.
And to-day the party of prostration and cowardice, the party of
Kautsky, says to the working class: "The question is not whether you
to-day are the sole creative force in history; whether you are capable
of throwing aside that ruling band of robbers into which the
propertied classes have developed; the question is not whether anyone
else can accomplish this task on your behalf; the question is not
whether history allows you any postponement (for the present condition
of bloody chaos threatens to bury you yourself, in the near future,
under the last ruins of capitalism). The problem is for the ruling
imperialist bandits to succeed--yesterday or to-day--to deceive,
violate, and swindle public opinion, by collecting 51 per cent. of the
votes against your 49. Perish the world, but long live the
parliamentary majority!"



"Marx and Engels hammered out the idea of the dictatorship of the
proletariat, which Engels stubbornly defended in 1891, shortly before
his death--the idea that the political autocracy of the proletariat is
the sole form in which it can realize its control of the state."

That is what Kautsky wrote about ten years ago. The sole form of power
for the proletariat he considered to be not a Socialist majority in a
democratic parliament, but the political autocracy of the proletariat,
its dictatorship. And it is quite clear that, if our problem is the
abolition of private property in the means of production, the only
road to its solution lies through the concentration of State power in
its entirety in the hands of the proletariat, and the setting up for
the transitional period of an exceptional regime--a regime in which
the ruling class is guided, not by general principles calculated for a
prolonged period, but by considerations of revolutionary policy.

The dictatorship is necessary because it is a case, not of partial
changes, but of the very existence of the bourgeoisie. No agreement is
possible on this ground. Only force can be the deciding factor. The
dictatorship of the proletariat does not exclude, of course, either
separate agreements, or considerable concessions, especially in
connection with the lower middle-class and the peasantry. But the
proletariat can only conclude these agreements after having gained
possession of the apparatus of power, and having guaranteed to itself
the possibility of independently deciding on which points to yield and
on which to stand firm, in the interests of the general Socialist

Kautsky now repudiates the dictatorship of the proletariat at the very
outset, as the "tyranny of the minority over the majority." That is,
he discerns in the revolutionary regime of the proletariat those very
features by which the honest Socialists of all countries invariably
describe the dictatorship of the exploiters, albeit masked by the
forms of democracy.

Abandoning the idea of a revolutionary dictatorship, Kautsky
transforms the question of the conquest of power by the proletariat
into a question of the conquest of a majority of votes by the
Social-Democratic Party in one of the electoral campaigns of the
future. Universal suffrage, according to the legal fiction of
parliamentarism, expresses the will of the citizens of all classes in
the nation, and, consequently, gives a possibility of attracting a
majority to the side of Socialism. While the theoretical possibility
has not been realized, the Socialist minority must submit to the
bourgeois majority. This fetishism of the parliamentary majority
represents a brutal repudiation, not only of the dictatorship of the
proletariat, but of Marxism and of the revolution altogether. If, in
principle, we are to subordinate Socialist policy to the parliamentary
mystery of majority and minority, it follows that, in countries where
formal democracy prevails, there is no place at all for the
revolutionary struggle. If the majority elected on the basis of
universal suffrage in Switzerland pass draconian legislation against
strikers, or if the executive elected by the will of a formal majority
in Northern America shoots workers, have the Swiss and American
workers the "right" of protest by organizing a general strike?
Obviously, no. The political strike is a form of extra-parliamentary
pressure on the "national will," as it has expressed itself through
universal suffrage. True, Kautsky himself, apparently, is ashamed to
go as far as the logic of his new position demands. Bound by some sort
of remnant of the past, he is obliged to acknowledge the possibility
of correcting universal suffrage by action. Parliamentary elections,
at all events in principle, never took the place, in the eyes of the
Social-Democrats, of the real class struggle, of its conflicts,
repulses, attacks, revolts; they were considered merely as a
contributory fact in this struggle, playing a greater part at one
period, a smaller at another, and no part at all in the period of

In 1891, that is, not long before his death, Engels, as we just heard,
obstinately defended the dictatorship of the proletariat as the only
possible form of its control of the State. Kautsky himself more than
once repeated this definition. Hence, by the way, we can see what an
unworthy forgery is Kautsky's present attempt to throw back the
dictatorship of the proletariat at us as a purely Russian invention.

Who aims at the end cannot reject the means. The struggle must be
carried on with such intensity as actually to guarantee the supremacy
of the proletariat. If the Socialist revolution requires a
dictatorship--"the sole form in which the proletariat can achieve
control of the State"--it follows that the dictatorship must be
guaranteed at all cost.

To write a pamphlet about dictatorship one needs an ink-pot and a pile
of paper, and possibly, in addition, a certain number of ideas in
one's head. But in order to establish and consolidate the
dictatorship, one has to prevent the bourgeoisie from undermining the
State power of the proletariat. Kautsky apparently thinks that this
can be achieved by tearful pamphlets. But his own experience ought to
have shown him that it is not sufficient to have lost all influence
with the proletariat, to acquire influence with the bourgeoisie.

It is only possible to safeguard the supremacy of the working class by
forcing the bourgeoisie accustomed to rule, to realize that it is too
dangerous an undertaking for it to revolt against the dictatorship of
the proletariat, to undermine it by conspiracies, sabotage,
insurrections, or the calling in of foreign troops. The bourgeoisie,
hurled from power, must be forced to obey. In what way? The priests
used to terrify the people with future penalties. We have no such
resources at our disposal. But even the priests' hell never stood
alone, but was always bracketed with the material fire of the Holy
Inquisition, and with the scorpions of the democratic State. Is it
possible that Kautsky is leaning to the idea that the bourgeoisie can
be held down with the help of the categorical imperative, which in his
last writings plays the part of the Holy Ghost? We, on our part, can
only promise him our material assistance if he decides to equip a
Kantian-humanitarian mission to the realms of Denikin and Kolchak. At
all events, there he would have the possibility of convincing himself
that the counter-revolutionaries are not naturally devoid of
character, and that, thanks to their six years' existence in the fire
and smoke of war, their character has managed to become thoroughly
hardened. Every White Guard has long ago acquired the simple truth
that it is easier to hang a Communist to the branch of a tree than to
convert him with a book of Kautsky's. These gentlemen have no
superstitious fear, either of the principles of democracy or of the
flames of hell--the more so because the priests of the church and of
official learning act in collusion with them, and pour their combined
thunders exclusively on the heads of the Bolsheviks. The Russian White
Guards resemble the German and all other White Guards in this
respect--that they cannot be convinced or shamed, but only terrorized
or crushed.

The man who repudiates terrorism in principle--_i.e._, repudiates
measures of suppression and intimidation towards determined and armed
counter-revolution, must reject all idea of the political supremacy of
the working class and its revolutionary dictatorship. The man who
repudiates the dictatorship of the proletariat repudiates the
Socialist revolution, and digs the grave of Socialism.

                 *       *       *       *       *

At the present time, Kautsky has no theory of the social revolution.
Every time he tries to generalize his slanders against the revolution
and the dictatorship of the proletariat, he produces merely a
réchauffé of the prejudices of Jaurèsism and Bernsteinism.

"The revolution of 1789," writes Kautsky, "itself put an end to the
most important causes which gave it its harsh and violent character,
and prepared the way for milder forms of the future revolution." (Page
140.)[2] Let us admit this, though to do so we have to forget the June
days of 1848 and the horrors of the suppression of the Commune. Let us
admit that the great revolution of the eighteenth century, which by
measures of merciless terror destroyed the rule of absolutism, of
feudalism, and of clericalism, really prepared the way for more
peaceful and milder solutions of social problems. But, even if we
admit this purely liberal standpoint, even here our accuser will prove
to be completely in the wrong; for the Russian Revolution, which
culminated in the dictatorship of the proletariat, began with just
that work which was done in France at the end of the eighteenth
century. Our forefathers, in centuries gone by, did not take the
trouble to prepare the democratic way--by means of revolutionary
terrorism--for milder manners in our revolution. The ethical mandarin,
Kautsky, ought to take these circumstances into account, and accuse
our forefathers, not us.

          [2] Translator's Note--For convenience sake, the references
          throughout have been altered to fall in the English
          translation of Kautsky's book. Mr. Kerridge's translation,
          however, has not been adhered to.

Kautsky, however, seems to make a little concession in this direction.
"True," he says, "no man of insight could doubt that a military
monarchy like the German, the Austrian, or the Russian could be
overthrown only by violent methods. But in this connection there was
always less thought" (amongst whom?), "of the bloody use of arms, and
more of the working class weapon peculiar to the proletariat--the
mass strike. And that a considerable portion of the proletariat,
after seizing power, would again--as at the end of the eighteenth
century--give vent to its rage and revenge in bloodshed could not be
expected. This would have meant a complete negation of all progress."
(Page 147.)

As we see, the war and a series of revolutions were required to enable
us to get a proper view of what was going on in reality in the heads of
some of our most learned theoreticians. It turns out that Kautsky did
not think that a Romanoff or a Hohenzollern could be put away by means
of conversations; but at the same time he seriously imagined that a
military monarchy could be overthrown by a general strike--_i.e._, by
a peaceful demonstration of folded arms. In spite of the Russian
revolution, and the world discussion of this question, Kautsky, it
turns out, retains the anarcho-reformist view of the general strike.
We might point out to him that, in the pages of its own journal, the
_Neue Zeit_, it was explained twelve years ago that the general strike
is only a mobilization of the proletariat and its setting up against
its enemy, the State; but that the strike in itself cannot produce
the solution of the problem, because it exhausts the forces of the
proletariat sooner than those of its enemies, and this, sooner or
later, forces the workers to return to the factories. The general
strike acquires a decisive importance only as a preliminary to a
conflict between the proletariat and the armed forces of the
opposition--_i.e._, to the open revolutionary rising of the workers.
Only by breaking the will of the armies thrown against it can the
revolutionary class solve the problem of power--the root problem of
every revolution. The general strike produces the mobilization of both
sides, and gives the first serious estimate of the powers of resistance
of the counter-revolution. But only in the further stages of the
struggle, after the transition to the path of armed insurrection, can
that bloody price be fixed which the revolutionary class has to pay for
power. But that it will have to pay with blood, that, in the struggle
for the conquest of power and for its consolidation, the proletariat
will have not only to be killed, but also to kill--of this no serious
revolutionary ever had any doubt. To announce that the existence of a
determined life-and-death struggle between the proletariat and the
bourgeoisie "is a complete negation of all progress," means simply that
the heads of some of our most reverend theoreticians take the form of a
camera-obscura, in which objects are represented upside down.

But, even when applied to more advanced and cultured countries with
established democratic traditions, there is absolutely no proof of
the justice of Kautsky's historical argument. As a matter of fact, the
argument itself is not new. Once upon a time the Revisionists gave it a
character more based on principle. They strove to prove that the growth
of proletarian organizations under democratic conditions guaranteed the
gradual and imperceptible--reformist and evolutionary--transition to
Socialist society--without general strikes and risings, without the
dictatorship of the proletariat.

Kautsky, at that culminating period of his activity, showed that,
in spite of the forms of democracy, the class contradictions of
capitalist society grew deeper, and that this process must inevitably
lead to a revolution and the conquest of power by the proletariat.

No one, of course, attempted to reckon up beforehand the number of
victims that will be called for by the revolutionary insurrection of
the proletariat, and by the regime of its dictatorship. But it was
clear to all that the number of victims will vary with the strength of
resistance of the propertied classes. If Kautsky desires to say in his
book that a democratic upbringing has not weakened the class egoism of
the bourgeoisie, this can be admitted without further parley.

If he wishes to add that the imperialist war, which broke out and
continued for four years, _in spite of_ democracy, brought about
a degradation of morals and accustomed men to violent methods and
action, and completely stripped the bourgeoisie of the last vestige of
awkwardness in ordering the destruction of masses of humanity--here
also he will be right.

All this is true on the face of it. But one has to struggle in real
conditions. The contending forces are not proletarian and bourgeois
manikins produced in the retort of Wagner-Kautsky, but a real
proletariat against a real bourgeoisie, as they have emerged from the
last imperialist slaughter.

In this fact of merciless civil war that is spreading over the whole
world, Kautsky sees only the result of a fatal lapse from the
"experienced tactics" of the Second International.

"In reality, since the time," he writes, "that Marxism has dominated
the Socialist movement, the latter, up to the world war, was, in spite
of its great activities, preserved from great defeats. And the idea of
insuring victory by means of terrorist domination had completely
disappeared from its ranks.

"Much was contributed in this connection by the fact that, at the time
when Marxism was the dominating Socialist teaching, democracy threw
out firm roots in Western Europe, and began there to change from an
end of the struggle to a trustworthy basis of political life." (Page

In this "formula of progress" there is not one atom of Marxism. The
real process of the struggle of classes and their material conflicts
has been lost in Marxist propaganda, which, thanks to the conditions
of democracy, guarantees, forsooth, a painless transition to a new and
"wiser" order. This is the most vulgar liberalism, a belated piece of
rationalism in the spirit of the eighteenth century--with the
difference that the ideas of Condorcet are replaced by a vulgarisation
of the Communist Manifesto. All history resolves itself into an
endless sheet of printed paper, and the centre of this "humane"
process proves to be the well-worn writing table of Kautsky.

We are given as an example the working-class movement in the period of
the Second International, which, going forward under the banner of
Marxism, never sustained great defeats whenever it deliberately
challenged them. But did not the whole working-class movement, the
proletariat of the whole world, and with it the whole of human
culture, sustain an incalculable defeat in August, 1914, when history
cast up the accounts of all the forces and possibilities of the
Socialist parties, amongst whom, we are told, the guiding role
belonged to Marxism, "on the firm footing of democracy"? _Those
parties proved bankrupt._ Those features of their previous work
which Kautsky now wishes to render permanent--self-adaptation,
repudiation of "illegal" activity, repudiation of the open fight,
hopes placed in democracy as the road to a painless revolution--all
these fell into dust. In their fear of defeat, holding back the masses
from open conflict, dissolving the general strike discussions, the
parties of the Second International were preparing their own
terrifying defeat; for they were not able to move one finger to avert
the greatest catastrophe in world history, the four years' imperialist
slaughter, which foreshadowed the violent character of the civil war.
Truly, one has to put a wadded night-cap not only over one's eyes, but
over one's nose and ears, to be able to-day, after the inglorious
collapse of the Second International, after the disgraceful bankruptcy
of its leading party--the German Social-Democracy--after the bloody
lunacy of the world slaughter and the gigantic sweep of the civil war,
to set up in contrast to us, the profundity, the loyalty, the
peacefulness and the sobriety of the Second International, the
heritage of which we are still liquidating.




Kautsky has a clear and solitary path to salvation: _democracy_. All
that is necessary is that every one should acknowledge it and bind
himself to support it. The Right Socialists must renounce the
sanguinary slaughter with which they have been carrying out the will of
the bourgeoisie. The bourgeoisie itself must abandon the idea of using
its Noskes and Lieutenant Vogels to defend its privileges to the last
breath. Finally, the proletariat must once and for all reject the idea
of overthrowing the bourgeoisie by means other than those laid down in
the Constitution. If the conditions enumerated are observed, the social
revolution will painlessly melt into democracy. In order to succeed it
is sufficient, as we see, for our stormy history to draw a nightcap
over its head, and take a pinch of wisdom out of Kautsky's snuffbox.

"There exist only two possibilities," says our sage, "either democracy,
or civil war." (Page 220.) Yet, in Germany, where the formal elements
of "democracy" are present before our eyes, the civil war does not
cease for a moment. "Unquestionably," agrees Kautsky, "under the
present National Assembly Germany cannot arrive at a healthy condition.
But that process of recovery will not be assisted, but hindered, if we
transform the struggle against the present Assembly into a struggle
against the democratic franchise." (Page 230.) As if the question in
Germany really did reduce itself to one of electoral forms and not to
one of the real possession of power!

The present National Assembly, as Kautsky admits, cannot "bring the
country to a healthy condition." Therefore let us begin the game again
at the beginning. But will the partners agree? It is doubtful. If the
rubber is not favorable to us, obviously it is so to them. The National
Assembly which "is incapable of bringing the country to a healthy
condition," is quite capable, through the mediocre dictatorship of
Noske, of preparing the way for the dictatorship of Ludendorff. So it
was with the Constituent Assembly which prepared the way for Kolchak.
The historical mission of Kautsky consists precisely in having waited
for the revolution to write his (n + 1th) book, which should explain
the collapse of the revolution by all the previous course of history,
from the ape to Noske, and from Noske to Ludendorff. The problem before
the revolutionary party is a difficult one: its problem is to foresee
the peril in good time, and to forestall it by _action_. And for this
there is no other way at present than to tear the power out of the
hands of its real possessors, the agrarian and capitalist magnates, who
are only temporarily hiding behind Messrs. Ebert and Noske. Thus, from
the present National Assembly, the path divides into two: either the
dictatorship of the imperialist clique, or the dictatorship of the
proletariat. On neither side does the path lead to "democracy." Kautsky
does not see this. He explains at great length that democracy is of
great importance for its political development and its education in
organization of the masses, and that through it the proletariat can
come to complete emancipation. One might imagine that, since the day on
which the Erfurt Programme was written, nothing worthy of notice had
ever happened in the world!

Yet meanwhile, for decades, the proletariat of France, Germany, and
the other most important countries has been struggling and developing,
making the widest possible use of the institutions of democracy, and
building up on that basis powerful political organizations. This path
of the education of the proletariat through democracy to Socialism
proved, however, to be interrupted by an event of no inconsiderable
importance--the world imperialist war. The class state at the
moment when, thanks to its machinations, the war broke out succeeded
in enlisting the assistance of the guiding organizations of
Social-Democracy to deceive the proletariat and draw it into the
whirlpool. So that, taken as they stand, the methods of democracy, in
spite of the incontestable benefits which they afford at a certain
period, displayed an extremely limited power of action; with the result
that two generations of the proletariat, educated under conditions of
democracy, by no means guaranteed the necessary political preparation
for judging accurately an event like the world imperialist war. That
experience gives us no reasons for affirming that, if the war had
broken out ten or fifteen years later, the proletariat would have been
more prepared for it. The bourgeois democratic state not only creates
more favorable conditions for the political education of the workers,
as compared with absolutism, but also sets a limit to that development
in the shape of bourgeois legality, which skilfully accumulates and
builds on the upper strata of the proletariat opportunist habits
and law-abiding prejudices. The school of democracy proved quite
insufficient to rouse the German proletariat to revolution when the
catastrophe of the war was at hand. The barbarous school of the war,
social-imperialist ambitions, colossal military victories, and
unparalleled defeats were required. After these events, which made a
certain amount of difference in the universe, and even in the Erfurt
Programme, to come out with common-places as to meaning of democratic
parliamentarism for the education of the proletariat signifies a fall
into political childhood. This is just the misfortune which has
overtaken Kautsky.

"Profound disbelief in the political struggle of the proletariat," he
writes, "and in its participation in politics, was the characteristic
of Proudhonism. To-day there arises a similar (!!) view, and it is
recommended to us as the new gospel of Socialist thought, as the result
of an experience which Marx did not, and could not, know. In reality,
it is only a variation of an idea which half a century ago Marx was
fighting, and which he in the end defeated." (Page 79.)

Bolshevism proves to be warmed-up Proudhonism! From a purely theoretical
point of view, this is one of the most brazen remarks in the pamphlet.

The Proudhonists repudiated democracy for the same reason that they
repudiated the political struggle generally. They stood for the
economic organization of the workers without the interference of the
State, without revolutionary outbreaks--for self-help of the workers on
the basis of production for profit. As far as they were driven by the
course of events on to the path of the political struggle, they, as
lower middle-class theoreticians, preferred democracy, not only to
plutocracy, but to revolutionary dictatorship. What thoughts have they
in common with us? While we repudiate democracy in the name of the
concentrated power of the proletariat, the Proudhonists, on the other
hand, were prepared to make their peace with democracy, diluted by a
federal basis, in order to avoid the revolutionary monopoly of power by
the proletariat. With more foundation Kautsky might have compared us
with the opponents of the Proudhonists, the _Blanquists_, who
understood the meaning of a revolutionary government, but did not
superstitiously make the question of seizing it depend on the formal
signs of democracy. But in order to put the comparison of the
Communists with the Blanquists on a reasonable footing, it would have
to be added that, in the Workers' and Soldiers' Councils, we had at our
disposal such an organization for revolution as the Blanquists could
not even dream of; in our party we had, and have, an invaluable
organization of political leadership with a perfected programme of the
social revolution. Finally, we had, and have, a powerful apparatus of
economic transformation in our trade unions, which stand as a whole
under the banner of Communism, and support the Soviet Government. Under
such conditions, to talk of the renaissance of Proudhonist prejudices
in the shape of Bolshevism can only take place when one has lost all
traces of theoretical honesty and historical understanding.


It is not for nothing that the word "democracy" has a double meaning
in the political vocabulary. On the one hand, it means a state system
founded on universal suffrage and the other attributes of formal
"popular government." On the other hand, by the word "democracy" is
understood the mass of the people itself, in so far as it leads a
political existence. In the second sense, as in the first, the meaning
of democracy rises above class distinctions. This peculiarity of
terminology has its profound political significance. Democracy as a
political system is the more perfect and unshakable the greater is the
part played in the life of the country by the intermediate and less
differentiated mass of the population--the lower middle-class of the
town and the country. Democracy achieved its highest expression in the
nineteenth century in Switzerland and the United States of North
America. On the other side of the ocean the democratic organization of
power in a federal republic was based on the agrarian democracy of the
farmers. In the small Helvetian Republic, the lower middle-classes of
the towns and the rich peasantry constituted the basis of the
conservative democracy of the united cantons.

Born of the struggle of the Third Estate against the powers of
feudalism, the democratic State very soon becomes the weapon of defence
against the class antagonisms generated within bourgeois society.
Bourgeois society succeeds in this the more, the wider beneath it is
the layer of the lower middle-class, the greater is the importance of
the latter in the economic life of the country, and the less advanced,
consequently, is the development of class antagonism. However, the
intermediate classes become ever more and more helplessly behind
historical development, and, thereby, become ever more and more
incapable of speaking in the name of the nation. True, the lower
middle-class doctrinaires (Bernstein and Company) used to demonstrate
with satisfaction that the disappearance of the middle-classes was not
taking place with that swiftness that was expected by the Marxian
school. And, in reality, one might agree that, numerically, the
middle-class elements in the town, and especially in the country, still
maintain an extremely prominent position. But the chief meaning of
evolution has shown itself in the decline in importance on the part of
the middle-classes from the point of view of production: the amount of
values which this class brings to the general income of the nation has
fallen incomparably more rapidly than the numerical strength of the
middle-classes. Correspondingly, falls their social, political, and
cultural importance. Historical development has been relying more and
more, not on these conservative elements inherited from the past, but
on the polar classes of society--_i.e._, the capitalist bourgeoisie and
the proletariat.

The more the middle-classes lost their social importance, the less they
proved capable of playing the part of an authoritative arbitral judge
in the historical conflict between capital and labor. Yet the very
considerable numerical proportion of the town middle-classes, and still
more of the peasantry, continues to find direct expression in the
electoral statistics of parliamentarism. The formal equality of all
citizens as electors thereby only gives more open indication of the
incapacity of democratic parliamentarism to settle the root questions
of historical evolution. An "equal" vote for the proletariat, the
peasant, and the manager of a trust formally placed the peasant in the
position of a mediator between the two antagonists; but, in reality,
the peasantry, socially and culturally backward and politically
helpless, has in all countries always provided support for the most
reactionary, filibustering, and mercenary parties which, in the long
run, always supported capital against labor.

Absolutely contrary to all the prophecies of Bernstein, Sombart,
Tugan-Baranovsky, and others, the continued existence of the middle
classes has not softened, but has rendered to the last degree
acute, the revolutionary crisis of bourgeois society. If the
proletarianization of the lower middle-classes and the peasantry had
been proceeding in a chemically purified form, the peaceful conquest
of power by the proletariat through the democratic parliamentary
apparatus would have been much more probable than we can imagine at
present. Just the fact that was seized upon by the partisans of the
lower middle-class--its longevity--has proved fatal even for the
external forms of political democracy, now that capitalism has
undermined its essential foundations. Occupying in parliamentary
politics a place which it has lost in production, the middle-class has
finally compromised parliamentarism, and has transformed it into an
institution of confused chatter and legislative obstruction. From this
fact alone, there grew up before the proletariat the problem of
seizing the apparatus of state power as such, independently of the
middle-class, and even against it--not against its interests, but
against its stupidity and its policy, impossible to follow in its
helpless contortions.

"Imperialism," wrote Marx of the Empire of Napoleon III, "is the most
prostituted, and, at the same time, perfected form of the state which
the bourgeoisie, having attained its fullest development, transforms
into a weapon for the enslavement of labor by capital." This definition
has a wider significance than for the French Empire alone, and includes
the latest form of imperialism, born of the world conflict between the
national capitalisms of the great powers. In the economic sphere,
imperialism pre-supposed the final collapse of the rule of the
middle-class; in the political sphere, it signified the complete
destruction of democracy by means of an internal molecular
transformation, and a universal subordination of all democracy's
resources to its own ends. Seizing upon all countries, independently of
their previous political history, imperialism showed that all political
prejudices were foreign to it, and that it was equally ready and
capable of making use, after their transformation and subjection, of
the monarchy of Nicholas Romanoff or Wilhelm Hohenzollern, of the
presidential autocracy of the United States of North America, and of
the helplessness of a few hundred chocolate legislators in the French
parliament. The last great slaughter--the bloody font in which the
bourgeois world attempted to be re-baptised--presented to us a picture,
unparalleled in history, of the mobilization of all state forms,
systems of government, political tendencies, religious, and schools of
philosophy, in the service of imperialism. Even many of those pedants
who slept through the preparatory period of imperialist development
during the last decades, and continued to maintain a traditional
attitude towards ideas of democracy and universal suffrage, began to
feel during the war that their accustomed ideas had become fraught with
some new meaning. Absolutism, parliamentary monarchy, democracy--in the
presence of imperialism (and, consequently, in the presence of the
revolution rising to take its place), all the state forms of bourgeois
supremacy, from Russian Tsarism to North American quasi-democratic
federalism, have been given equal rights, bound up in such combinations
as to supplement one another in an indivisible whole. Imperialism
succeeded by means of all the resources it had at its disposal,
including parliamentarism, irrespective of the electoral arithmetic of
voting, to subordinate for its own purposes at the critical moment the
lower middle-classes of the towns and country and even the upper layers
of the proletariat. The national idea, under the watchword of which the
Third Estate rose to power, found in the imperialist war its rebirth in
the watchword of national defence. With unexpected clearness, national
ideology flamed up for the last time at the expense of class ideology.
The collapse of imperialist illusions, not only amongst the vanquished,
but--after a certain delay--amongst the victorious also, finally laid
low what was once national democracy, and, with it, its main weapon,
the democratic parliament. The flabbiness, rottenness, and helplessness
of the middle-classes and their parties everywhere became evident with
terrifying clearness. In all countries the question of the control of
the State assumed first-class importance as a question of an open
measuring of forces between the capitalist clique, openly or secretly
supreme and disposing of hundreds of thousands of mobilized and
hardened officers, devoid of all scruple, and the revolting,
revolutionary proletariat; while the intermediate classes were living
in a state of terror, confusion, and prostration. Under such
conditions, what pitiful nonsense are speeches about the peaceful
conquest of power by the proletariat by means of democratic

The scheme of the political situation on a world scale is quite clear.
The bourgeoisie, which has brought the nations, exhausted and bleeding
to death, to the brink of destruction--particularly the victorious
bourgeoisie--has displayed its complete inability to bring them out of
their terrible situation, and, thereby, its incompatibility with the
future development of humanity. All the intermediate political groups,
including here first and foremost the social-patriotic parties, are
rotting alive. The proletariat they have deceived is turning against
them more and more every day, and is becoming strengthened in its
revolutionary convictions as the only power that can save the peoples
from savagery and destruction. However, history has not at all
secured, just at this moment, a formal parliamentary majority on the
side of the party of the social revolution. In other words, history
has not transformed the nation into a debating society solemnly voting
the transition to the social revolution by a majority of votes. On the
contrary, the violent revolution has become a necessity precisely
because the imminent requirements of history are helpless to find a
road through the apparatus of parliamentary democracy. The capitalist
bourgeois calculates: "while I have in my hands lands, factories,
workshops, banks; while I possess newspapers, universities, schools;
while--and this most important of all--I retain control of the army:
the apparatus of democracy, however you reconstruct it, will remain
obedient to my will. I subordinate to my interests spiritually the
stupid, conservative, characterless lower middle-class, just as it
is subjected to me materially. I oppress, and will oppress, its
imagination by the gigantic scale of my buildings, my transactions, my
plans, and my crimes. For moments when it is dissatisfied and murmurs,
I have created scores of safety-valves and lightning-conductors. At
the right moment I will bring into existence opposition parties, which
will disappear to-morrow, but which to-day accomplish their mission by
affording the possibility of the lower middle-class expressing their
indignation without hurt therefrom for capitalism. I shall hold the
masses of the people, under cover of compulsory general education, on
the verge of complete ignorance, giving them no opportunity of rising
above the level which my experts in spiritual slavery consider safe. I
will corrupt, deceive, and terrorize the more privileged or the more
backward of the proletariat itself. By means of these measures, I
shall not allow the vanguard of the working class to gain the ear of
the majority of the working class, while the necessary weapons of
mastery and terrorism remain in my hands."

To this the revolutionary proletarian replies: "Consequently, the
first condition of salvation is to tear the weapons of domination out
of the hands of the bourgeoisie. It is hopeless to think of a peaceful
arrival to power while the bourgeoisie retains in its hands all the
apparatus of power. Three times over hopeless is the idea of coming to
power by the path which the bourgeoisie itself indicates and, at the
same time, barricades--the path of parliamentary democracy. There is
only one way: to seize power, taking away from the bourgeoisie the
material apparatus of government. Independently of the superficial
balance of forces in parliament, I shall take over for social
administration the chief forces and resources of production. I shall
free the mind of the lower middle-class from their capitalist
hypnosis. I shall show them in practice what is the meaning of
Socialist production. Then even the most backward, the most ignorant,
or most terrorized sections of the nation will support me, and
willingly and intelligently will join in the work of social

When the Russian Soviet Government dissolved the Constituent Assembly,
that fact seemed to the leading Social-Democrats of Western Europe, if
not the beginning of the end of the world, at all events a rude and
arbitrary break with all the previous developments of Socialism. In
reality, it was only the inevitable outcome of the new position
resulting from imperialism and the war. If Russian Communism was the
first to enter the path of casting up theoretical and practical
accounts, this was due to the same historical reasons which forced the
Russian proletariat to be the first to enter the path of the struggle
for power.

All that has happened since then in Europe bears witness to the fact
that we drew the right conclusion. To imagine that democracy can be
restored in its general purity means that one is living in a pitiful,
reactionary utopia.


Feeling the historical ground shaking under his feet on the question
of democracy, Kautsky crosses to the ground of metaphysics. Instead of
inquiring into what is, he deliberates about what ought to be.

The principles of democracy--the sovereignty of the people, universal
and equal suffrage, personal liberties--appear, as presented to him,
in a halo of moral duty. They are turned from their historical meaning
and presented as unalterable and sacred things-in-themselves. This
metaphysical fall from grace is not accidental. It is instructive that
the late Plekhanov, a merciless enemy of Kantism at the best period of
his activity, attempted at the end of his life, when the wave of
patriotism had washed over him, to clutch at the straw of the
categorical imperative.

That real democracy with which the German people is now making
practical acquaintance Kautsky confronts with a kind of ideal
democracy, as he would confront a common phenomenon with the
thing-in-itself. Kautsky indicates with certitude not one country in
which democracy is really capable of guaranteeing a painless
transition to Socialism. But he does know, and firmly, that such
democracy ought to exist. The present German National Assembly, that
organ of helplessness, reactionary malice, and degraded solicitations,
is confronted by Kautsky with a different, real, true National
Assembly, which possesses all virtues--excepting the small virtue of

The doctrine of formal democracy is not scientific Socialism, but the
theory of so-called natural law. The essence of the latter consists in
the recognition of eternal and unchanging standards of law, which
among different peoples and at different periods find a different,
more or less limited and distorted expression. The natural law of the
latest history--_i.e._, as it emerged from the middle ages--included
first of all a protest against class privileges, the abuse of despotic
legislation, and the other "artificial" products of feudal positive
law. The theoreticians of the, as yet, weak Third Estate expressed its
class interests in a few ideal standards, which later on developed
into the teaching of democracy, acquiring at the same time an
individualist character. The individual is absolute; all persons have
the right of expressing their thoughts in speech and print; every man
must enjoy equal electoral rights. As a battle cry against feudalism,
the demand for democracy had a progressive character. As time went on,
however, the metaphysics of natural law (the theory of formal
democracy) began to show its reactionary side--the establishment of an
ideal standard to control the real demands of the laboring masses and
the revolutionary parties.

If we look back to the historical sequence of world concepts, the
theory of natural law will prove to be a paraphrase of Christian
spiritualism freed from its crude mysticism. The Gospels proclaimed to
the slave that he had just the same soul as the slave-owner, and in
this way established the equality of all men before the heavenly
tribunal. In reality, the slave remained a slave, and obedience became
for him a religious duty. In the teaching of Christianity, the slave
found an expression for his own ignorant protest against his degraded
condition. Side by side with the protest was also the consolation.
Christianity told him:--"You have an immortal soul, although you
resemble a pack-horse." Here sounded the note of indignation. But the
same Christianity said:--"Although you are like a pack-horse, yet your
immortal soul has in store for it an eternal reward." Here is the
voice of consolation. These two notes were found in historical
Christianity in different proportions at different periods and amongst
different classes. But as a whole, Christianity, like all other
religions, became a method of deadening the consciousness of the
oppressed masses.

Natural law, which developed into the theory of democracy, said to the
worker: "all men are equal before the law, independently of their
origin, their property, and their position; every man has an equal
right in determining the fate of the people." This ideal criterion
revolutionized the consciousness of the masses in so far as it was a
condemnation of absolutism, aristocratic privileges, and the property
qualification. But the longer it went on, the more it sent the
consciousness to sleep, legalizing poverty, slavery and degradation:
for how could one revolt against slavery when every man has an equal
right in determining the fate of the nation?

Rothschild, who has coined the blood and tears of the world into the
gold napoleons of his income, has one vote at the parliamentary
elections. The ignorant tiller of the soil who cannot sign his name,
sleeps all his life without taking his clothes off, and wanders
through society like an underground mole, plays his part, however, as
a trustee of the nation's sovereignty, and is equal to Rothschild in
the courts and at the elections. In the real conditions of life, in
the economic process, in social relations, in their way of life,
people became more and more unequal; dazzling luxury was accumulated
at one pole, poverty and hopelessness at the other. But in the sphere
of the legal edifice of the State, these glaring contradictions
disappeared, and there penetrated thither only unsubstantial legal
shadows. The landlord, the laborer, the capitalist, the proletarian,
the minister, the bootblack--all are equal as "citizens" and as
"legislators." The mystic equality of Christianity has taken one step
down from the heavens in the shape of the "natural," "legal" equality
of democracy. But it has not yet reached earth, where lie the economic
foundations of society. For the ignorant day-laborer, who all his life
remains a beast of burden in the service of the bourgeoisie, the ideal
right to influence the fate of the nations by means of the
parliamentary elections remained little more real than the palace
which he was promised in the kingdom of heaven.

In the practical interests of the development of the working class,
the Socialist Party took its stand at a certain period on the path of
parliamentarism. But this did not mean in the slightest that it
accepted in principle the metaphysical theory of democracy, based on
extra-historical, super-class rights. The proletarian doctrines
examined democracy as the instrument of bourgeois society entirely
adapted to the problems and requirements of the ruling classes; but as
bourgeois society lived by the labor of the proletariat and could not
deny it the legalization of a certain part of its class struggle
without destroying itself, this gave the Socialist Party the
possibility of utilizing, at a certain period, and within certain
limits, the mechanism of democracy, without taking an oath to do so as
an unshakable principle.

The root problem of the party, at all periods of its struggle, was to
create the conditions for real, economic, living equality for mankind
as members of a united human commonwealth. It was just for this reason
that the theoreticians of the proletariat had to expose the
metaphysics of democracy as a philosophic mask for political

The democratic party at the period of its revolutionary enthusiasm,
when exposing the enslaving and stupefying lie of church dogma,
preached to the masses:--"You are lulled to sleep by promises of
eternal bliss at the end of your life, while here you have no rights
and you are bound with the chains of tyranny." The Socialist Party, a
few decades later, said to the same masses with no less right:--"You
are lulled to sleep with the fiction of civic equality and political
rights, but you are deprived of the possibility of realizing those
rights. Conditional and shadowy legal equality has been transformed
into the convicts' chain with which each of you is fastened to the
chariot of capitalism."

In the name of its fundamental task, the Socialist Party mobilized the
masses on the parliamentary ground as well as on others; but nowhere
and at no time did any party bind itself to bring the masses to
Socialism only through the gates of democracy. In adapting ourselves
to the parliamentary regime, we stopped at a theoretical exposure of
democracy, because we were still too weak to overcome it in practice.
But the path of Socialist ideas which is visible through all
deviations, and even betrayals, foreshadows no other outcome but this:
to throw democracy aside and replace it by the mechanism of the
proletariat, at the moment when the latter is strong enough to carry
out such a task.

We shall bring one piece of evidence, albeit a sufficiently striking
one. "Parliamentarism," wrote Paul Lafargue in the Russian review,
_Sozialdemokrat_, in 1888, "is a system of government in which the
people acquires the illusion that it is controlling the forces of the
country itself, when, in reality, the actual power is concentrated in
the hands of the bourgeoisie--and not even of the whole bourgeoisie,
but only of certain sections of that class. In the first period of its
supremacy the bourgeoisie does not understand, or, more correctly,
does not feel, the necessity for making the people believe in the
illusion of self-government. Hence it was that all the parliamentary
countries of Europe began with a limited franchise. Everywhere the
right of influencing the policy of the country by means of the
election of deputies belonged at first only to more or less large
property holders, and was only gradually extended to less substantial
citizens, until finally in some countries it became from a privilege
the universal right of all and sundry.

"In bourgeois society, the more considerable becomes the amount of
social wealth, the smaller becomes the number of individuals by whom
it is appropriated. The same takes place with power: in proportion as
the mass of citizens who possess political rights increases, and the
number of elected rulers increases, the actual power is concentrated
and becomes the monopoly of a smaller and smaller group of
individuals." Such is the secret of the majority.

For the Marxist, Lafargue, parliamentarism remains as long as the
supremacy of the bourgeoisie remains. "On the day," writes Lafargue,
"when the proletariat of Europe and America seizes the State, it will
have to organize a revolutionary government, and govern society as a
dictatorship, until the bourgeoisie has disappeared as a class."

Kautsky in his time knew this Marxist estimate of parliamentarism, and
more than once repeated it himself, although with no such Gallic
sharpness and lucidity. The theoretical apostasy of Kautsky lies just
in this point: having recognized the principle of democracy as
absolute and eternal, he has stepped back from materialist dialectics
to natural law. That which was exposed by Marxism as the passing
mechanism of the bourgeoisie, and was subjected only to temporary
utilization with the object of preparing the proletarian revolution,
has been newly sanctified by Kautsky as the supreme principle standing
above classes, and unconditionally subordinating to itself the methods
of the proletarian struggle. The counter-revolutionary degeneration of
parliamentarism finds its most perfect expression in the deification
of democracy by the decaying theoreticians of the Second


Speaking generally, the attainment of a majority in a democratic
parliament by the party of the proletariat is not an absolute
impossibility. But such a fact, even if it were realized, would not
introduce any new principle into the course of events. The
intermediate elements of the intelligentsia, under the influence of
the parliamentary victory of the proletariat, might possibly display
less resistance to the new regime. But the fundamental resistance of
the bourgeoisie would be decided by such facts as the attitude of the
army, the degree to which the workers were armed, the situation in the
neighboring states: and the civil war would develop under the pressure
of these most real circumstances, and not by the mobile arithmetic of

Our party has never refused to lead the way for proletarian
dictatorship through the gates of democracy, having clearly summed up
in its mind certain agitational and political advantages of such a
"legalized" transition to the new regime. Hence, our attempt to call
the Constituent Assembly. The Russian peasant, only just awakened by
the revolution to political life, found himself face to face with half
a dozen parties, each of which apparently had made up its mind to
confuse his mind. The Constituent Assembly placed itself across the
path of the revolutionary movement, and was swept aside.

The opportunist majority in the Constituent Assembly represented only
the political reflection of the mental confusion and indecision
which reigned amidst the middle-classes in the town and country
and amidst the more backward elements of the proletariat. If we
take the viewpoint of isolated historical possibilities, one
might say that it would have been more painless if the Constituent
Assembly had worked for a year or two, had finally discredited the
Socialist-Revolutionaries and the Mensheviks by their connection
with the Cadets, and had thereby led to the formal majority of the
Bolsheviks, showing the masses that in reality only two forces
existed: the revolutionary proletariat, led by the Communists, and
the counter-revolutionary democracy, headed by the generals and the
admirals. But the point is that the pulse of the internal relations of
the revolution was beating not at all in time with the pulse of the
development of its external relations. If our party had thrown all
responsibility on to the objective formula of "the course of events"
the development of military operations might have forestalled us.
German imperialism might have seized Petrograd, the evacuation of
which the Kerensky Government had already begun. The fall of Petrograd
would at that time have meant a death-blow to the proletariat, for all
the best forces of the revolution were concentrated there, in the
Baltic Fleet and in the Red capital.

                 *       *       *       *       *

Our party may be accused, therefore, not of going against the course
of historical development, but of having taken at a stride several
political steps. It stepped over the heads of the Mensheviks and the
Socialist-Revolutionaries, in order not to allow German imperialism to
step across the head of the Russian proletariat and conclude peace
with the Entente on the back of the revolution before it was able to
spread its wings over the whole world.

From the above it will not be difficult to deduce the answers to the
two questions with which Kautsky pestered us. Firstly: Why did we
summon the Constituent Assembly when we had in view the dictatorship
of the proletariat? Secondly: If the first Constituent Assembly which
we summoned proved backward and not in harmony with the interests of
the revolution, why did we reject the idea of a new Assembly? The
thought at the back of Kautsky's mind is that we repudiated democracy,
not on the ground of principle, but only because it proved against us.
In order to seize this insinuation by its long ears, let us establish
the facts.

The watchword, "All power to the Soviets," was put forward by our
Party at the very beginning of the revolution--_i.e._, long before,
not merely the decree as to the dissolution of the Constituent
Assembly, but the decree as to its convocation. True, we did not set
up the Soviets in opposition to the future Constituent Assembly, the
summoning of which was constantly postponed by the Government of
Kerensky, and consequently became more and more problematical. But in
any case, we did not consider the Constituent Assembly, after the
manner of the democrats, as the future master of the Russian land, who
would come and settle everything. We explained to the masses that the
Soviets, the revolutionary organizations of the laboring masses
themselves, can and must become the true masters. If we did not
formally repudiate the Constituent Assembly beforehand, it was only
because it stood in contrast, not to the power of the Soviets, but to
the power of Kerensky himself, who, in his turn, was only a screen for
the bourgeoisie. At the same time we did decide beforehand that, if,
in the Constituent Assembly, the majority proved in our favor, that
body must dissolve itself and hand over the power to the Soviets--as
later on the Petrograd Town Council did, elected as it was on the
basis of the most democratic electoral franchise. In my book on the
October Revolution, I tried to explain the reasons which made the
Constituent Assembly the out-of-date reflection of an epoch through
which the revolution had already passed. As we saw the organization of
revolutionary power only in the Soviets, and at the moment of the
summoning of the Constituent Assembly the Soviets were already the de
facto power, the question was inevitably decided for us in the sense
of the violent dissolution of the Constituent Assembly, since it would
not dissolve itself in favor of the Government of the Soviets.

"But why," asks Kautsky, "did you not summon a new Constituent

Because we saw no need for it. If the first Constituent Assembly could
still play a fleeting progressive part, conferring a sanction upon the
Soviet regime in its first days, convincing for the middle-class
elements, now, after two years of victorious proletarian dictatorship
and the complete collapse of all democratic attempts in Siberia, on
the shores of the White Sea, in the Ukraine, and in the Caucasus, the
power of the Soviets truly does not need the blessing of the faded
authority of the Constituent Assembly. "Are we not right in that case
to conclude," asks Kautsky in the tone of Lloyd George, "that the
Soviet Government rules by the will of the minority, since it avoids
testing its supremacy by universal suffrage?" Here is a blow that
misses its mark.

If the parliamentary regime, even in the period of "peaceful," stable
development, was a rather crude method of discovering the opinion of
the country, and in the epoch of revolutionary storm completely lost
its capacity to follow the course of the struggle and the development
of revolutionary consciousness, the Soviet regime, which is more
closely, straightly, honestly bound up with the toiling majority of
the people, does achieve meaning, not in statically reflecting a
majority, but in dynamically creating it. Having taken its stand on
the path of revolutionary dictatorship, the working class of Russia
has thereby declared that it builds its policy in the period of
transition, not on the shadowy art of rivalry with chameleon-hued
parties in the chase for peasant votes, but on the actual attraction
of the peasant masses, side by side with the proletariat, into the
work of ruling the country in the real interests of the laboring
masses. Such democracy goes a little deeper down than parliamentarism.

To-day, when the main problem--the question of life and death--of the
revolution consists in the military repulse of the various attacks of
the White Guard bands, does Kautsky imagine that any form of
parliamentary "majority" is capable of guaranteeing a more energetic,
devoted, and successful organization of revolutionary defence? The
conditions of the struggle are so defined, in a revolutionary country
throttled by the criminal ring of the blockade, that all the
middle-class groups are confronted only with the alternative of
Denikin or the Soviet Government. What further proof is needed when
even parties, which stand for compromise in principle, like the
Mensheviks and the Socialist-Revolutionaries, have split along that
very line?

When suggesting to us the election of a Constituent Assembly, does
Kautsky propose the stopping of the civil war for the purpose of the
elections? By whose decision? If he intends for this purpose to bring
into motion the authority of the Second International, we hasten to
inform him that that institution enjoys in Denikin's camp only a
little more authority than it does in ours. But to the extent that the
civil war between the Workers' and Peasants' Army and the imperialist
bands is still going on, the elections must of necessity be limited to
Soviet territory. Does Kautsky desire to insist that we should allow
the parties which support Denikin to come out into the open? Empty and
contemptible chatter! There is not one government, at any time and
under any conditions, which would allow its enemies to mobilize
hostile forces in the rear of its armies.

A not unimportant place in the discussion of the question is occupied
by the fact that the flower of the laboring population is at present
on active service. The foremost workers and the most class-conscious
peasants, who take the first place at all elections, as in all
important political activities, directing the public opinion of the
workers, are at present fighting and dying as commanders, commissars,
or rank and file in the Red Army. If the most "democratic" governments
in the bourgeois states, whose regime is founded on parliamentarism,
consider it impossible to carry on elections to parliament in
wartime, it is all the more senseless to demand such elections during
the war of the Soviet Republic, the regime of which is not for one
moment founded on parliamentarism. It is quite sufficient that the
revolutionary government of Russia, in the most difficult months and
times, never stood in the way of periodic re-elections of its _own_
elective institutions--the local and central Soviets.

Finally, as a last argument--the last and the least--we have to
present to the notice of Kautsky that even the Russian Kautskians, the
Mensheviks like Martov and Dan, do not consider it possible to put
forward at the present moment a demand for a Constituent Assembly,
postponing it to better times in the future. Will there be any need of
it then? Of this one may be permitted to doubt. When the civil war is
over, the dictatorship of the working class will disclose all its
creative energy, and will, in practice, show the most backward masses
what it can give them. By means of a systematically applied universal
labor service, and a centralized organization of distribution, the
whole population of the country will be drawn into the general Soviet
system of economic arrangement and self-government. The Soviets
themselves, at present the organs of government, will gradually melt
into purely economic organizations. Under such conditions it is
doubtful whether any one will think of erecting, over the real fabric
of Socialist society, an archaic crown in the shape of the Constituent
Assembly, which would only have to register the fact that everything
necessary has already been "constituted" before it and without it.[3]

          [3] In order to charm us in favor of a Constituent Assembly
          Kautsky brings forward an argument based on the rate of
          exchange to the assistance of his argument, based on the
          categorical imperative. "Russia requires," he writes, "the
          help of foreign capital, but this help will not come to the
          Soviet Republic if the latter does not summon a Constituent
          Assembly, and does not give freedom of the Press; not
          because the capitalists are democratic idealists--to Tsarism
          they gave without any hesitation many milliards--but because
          they have no business faith in a revolutionary government."
          (Page 218.)

          There are scraps of truth in this rubbish. The Stock
          Exchange did really support the government of Kolchak when
          it relied for support on the Constituent Assembly. From its
          experience of Kolchak the Stock Exchange became confirmed in
          its conviction that the mechanism of bourgeois democracy can
          be utilized in capitalist interests, and then thrown aside
          like a worn-out pair of puttees. It is quite possible that
          the Stock Exchange would again give a parliamentary loan on
          the guarantee of a Constituent Assembly, believing, on the
          basis of its former experience, that such a body would prove
          only an intermediate step to capitalist dictatorship. We do
          not propose to buy the "business faith" of the Stock
          Exchange at such a price, and decidedly prefer the "faith"
          which is aroused in the realist Stock Exchange by the weapon
          of the Red Army.



The chief theme of Kautsky's book is terrorism. The view that
terrorism is of the essence of revolution Kautsky proclaims to be a
widespread delusion. It is untrue that he who desires revolution must
put up with terrorism. As far as he, Kautsky, is concerned, he is,
generally speaking, for revolution, but decidedly against terrorism.
From there, however, complications begin.

"The revolution brings us," Kautsky complains, "a bloody terrorism
carried out by Socialist governments. The Bolsheviks in Russia first
stepped on to this path, and were, consequently, sternly condemned by
all Socialists who had not adopted the Bolshevik point of view,
including the Socialists of the German Majority. But as soon as the
latter found themselves threatened in their supremacy, they had
recourse to the methods of the same terrorist regime which they
attacked in the East." (Page 9.) It would seem that from this follows
the conclusion that terrorism is much more profoundly bound up with
the nature of revolution than certain sages think. But Kautsky makes
an absolutely opposite conclusion. The gigantic development of White
and Red terrorism in all the last revolutions--the Russian, the
German, the Austrian, and the Hungarian--is evidence to him that these
revolutions turned aside from their true path and turned out to be not
the revolution they ought to have been according to the theoretical
visions of Kautsky. Without going into the question whether terrorism
"as such" is "immanent" to the revolution "as such," let us consider a
few of the revolutions as they pass before us in the living history of

Let us first regard the religious Reformation, which proved the
watershed between the Middle Ages and modern history: the deeper were
the interests of the masses that it involved, the wider was its sweep,
the more fiercely did the civil war develop under the religious
banner, and the more merciless did the terror become on the other

In the seventeenth century England carried out two revolutions. The
first, which brought forth great social upheavals and wars, brought
amongst other things the execution of King Charles I, while the second
ended happily with the accession of a new dynasty. The British
bourgeoisie and its historians maintain quite different attitudes to
these two revolutions: the first is for them a rising of the mob--the
"Great Rebellion"; the second has been handed down under the title of
the "Glorious Revolution." The reason for this difference in estimates
was explained by the French historian, Augustin Thierry. In the first
English revolution, in the "Great Rebellion," the active force was the
people; while in the second it was almost "silent." Hence, it follows
that, in surroundings of class slavery, it is difficult to teach the
oppressed masses good manners. When provoked to fury they use clubs,
stones, fire, and the rope. The court historians of the exploiters are
offended at this. But the great event in modern "bourgeois" history
is, none the less, not the "Glorious Revolution," but the "Great

The greatest event in modern history after the Reformation and the
"Great Rebellion," and far surpassing its two predecessors in
significance, was the great French Revolution of the eighteenth
century. To this classical revolution there was a corresponding
classical terrorism. Kautsky is ready to forgive the terrorism of the
Jacobins, acknowledging that they had no other way of saving the
republic. But by this justification after the event no one is either
helped or hindered. The Kautskies of the end of the eighteenth century
(the leaders of the French Girondists) saw in the Jacobins the
personification of evil. Here is a comparison, sufficiently
instructive in its banality, between the Jacobins and the Girondists
from the pen of one of the bourgeois French historians: "Both one side
and the other desired the republic." But the Girondists "desired a
free, legal, and merciful republic. The Montagnards desired a despotic
and terrorist republic. Both stood for the supreme power of the
people; but the Girondist justly understood all by the people, while
the Montagnards considered only the working class to be the people.
That was why only to such persons, in the opinion of the Montagnards,
did the supremacy belong." The antithesis between the noble champions
of the Constituent Assembly and the bloodthirsty agents of the
revolutionary dictatorship is here outlined fairly clearly, although
in the political terms of the epoch.

The iron dictatorship of the Jacobins was evoked by the monstrously
difficult position of revolutionary France. Here is what the bourgeois
historian says of this period: "Foreign troops had entered French
territory from four sides. In the north, the British and the
Austrians, in Alsace, the Prussians, in Dauphine and up to Lyons, the
Piedmontese, in Roussillon the Spaniards. And this at a time, when
civil war was raging at four different points: in Normandy, in the
Vendée, at Lyons, and at Toulon." (Page 176). To this we must add
internal enemies in the form of numerous secret supporters of the old
regime, ready by all methods to assist the enemy.

The severity of the proletarian dictatorship in Russia, let us point
out here, was conditioned by no less difficult circumstances. There
was one continuous front, on the north and south, in the east and
west. Besides the Russian White Guard armies of Kolchak, Denikin and
others, there are attacking Soviet Russia, simultaneously or in turn:
Germans, Austrians, Czecho-Slovaks, Serbs, Poles, Ukrainians,
Roumanians, French, British, Americans, Japanese, Finns, Esthonians,
Lithuanians.... In a country throttled by a blockade and strangled by
hunger, there are conspiracies, risings, terrorist acts, and
destruction of roads and bridges.

"The government which had taken on itself the struggle with countless
external and internal enemies had neither money, nor sufficient
troops, nor anything except boundless energy, enthusiastic support on
the part of the revolutionary elements of the country, and the
gigantic courage to take all measures necessary for the safety of the
country, however arbitrary and severe they were." In such words did
once upon a time Plekhanov describe the government of the--Jacobins.
(_Sozial-demokrat_, a quarterly review of literature and politics.
Book I, February, 1890, London. The article on "The Centenary of the
Great Revolution," pages 6-7).

Let us now turn to the revolution which took place in the second half
of the nineteenth century, in the country of "democracy"--in the
United States of North America. Although the question was not the
abolition of property altogether, but only of the abolition of
property in negroes, nevertheless, the institutions of democracy
proved absolutely powerless to decide the argument in a peaceful way.
The southern states, defeated at the presidential elections in 1860,
decided by all possible means to regain the influence they had
hitherto exerted in the question of slave-owning; and uttering, as was
right, the proper sounding words about freedom and independence, rose
in a slave-owners' insurrection. Hence inevitably followed all the
later consequences of civil war. At the very beginning of the
struggle, the military government in Baltimore imprisoned in Fort
MacHenry a few citizens, sympathizers with the slave-holding South, in
spite of Habeas Corpus. The question of the lawfulness or the
unlawfulness of such action became the object of fierce disputes
between so-called "high authorities." The judge of the Supreme Court,
decided that the President had neither the right to arrest the
operation of Habeas Corpus nor to give plenipotentiary powers to that
end to the military authorities. "Such, in all probability, is the
correct Constitutional solution of the question," says one of the
first historians of the American Civil War. "But the state of affairs
was to such a degree critical, and the necessity of taking decisive
measures against the population of Baltimore so great, that not only
the Government but the people of the United States also supported the
most energetic measures."[4]

          [4] (The History of the American War, by Fletcher,
          Lieut.-Colonel in the Scots Guards, St. Petersburg, 1867,
          page 95.)

Some goods that the rebellious South required were secretly supplied
by the merchants of the North. Naturally, the Northerners had no other
course but to introduce methods of repression. On August 6, 1861, the
President confirmed a resolution of Congress as to "the confiscation
of property used for insurrectionary purposes." The people, in the
shape of the most democratic elements, were in favor of extreme
measures. The Republican Party had a decided majority in the North,
and persons suspected of secessionism, _i.e._, of sympathizing with
the rebellious Southern states, were subjected to violence. In some
northern towns, and even in the states of New England, famous for
their order, the people frequently burst into the offices of
newspapers which supported the revolting slave-owners and smashed
their printing presses. It occasionally happened that reactionary
publishers were smeared with tar, decorated with feathers, and carried
in such array through the public squares until they swore an oath of
loyalty to the Union. The personality of a planter smeared in tar bore
little resemblance to the "end-in-itself;" so that the categorical
imperative of Kautsky suffered in the civil war of the states a
considerable blow. But this is not all. "The government, on its part,"
the historian tells us, "adopted repressive measures of various kinds
against publications holding views opposed to its own: and in a short
time the hitherto free American press was reduced to a condition
_scarcely superior to that prevailing in the autocratic European
States_." The same fate overtook the freedom of speech. "In this way,"
Lieut.-Colonel Fletcher continues, "the American people at this time
denied itself the greater part of its freedom. It should be observed,"
he moralizes, "that _the majority of the people_ was to such an
extent occupied with the war, and to such a degree imbued with the
readiness for any kind of sacrifice to attain its end, that it not
only did not regret its vanished liberties, but scarcely even noticed
their disappearance."[5]

          [5] Fletcher's History of the American War, pages 162-164.

Infinitely more ruthlessly did the bloodthirsty slave-owners of the
South employ their uncontrollable hordes. "Wherever there was a
majority in favor of slavery," writes the Count of Paris, "public
opinion behaved despotically to the minority. All who expressed pity
for the national banner ... were forced to be silent. But soon this
itself became insufficient; as in all revolutions, the indifferent
were forced to express their loyalty to the new order of things....
Those who did not agree to this were given up as a sacrifice to the
hatred and violence of the mass of the people.... In each centre of
growing civilization (South-Western states) vigilance committees were
formed, composed of all those who had been distinguished by their
extreme views in the electoral struggle.... A tavern was the usual
place of their sessions, and a noisy orgy was mingled with a
contemptible parody of public forms of justice. A few madmen sitting
around a desk on which gin and whisky flowed judged their present
and absent fellow citizens. The accused, even before having been
questioned, could see the rope being prepared. He who did not appear
at the court learned his sentence when falling under the bullets
of the executioner concealed in the forest...." This picture is
extremely reminiscent of the scenes which day by day took place in
the camps of Denikin, Kolchak, Yudenich, and the other heroes of
Anglo-Franco-American "democracy."

We shall see later how the question of terrorism stood in regard to
the Paris Commune of 1871. In any case, the attempts of Kautsky to
contrast the Commune with us are false at their very root, and only
bring the author to a juggling with words of the most petty character.

The institution of hostages apparently must be recognized as "immanent"
in the terrorism of the civil war. Kautsky is against terrorism and
against the institution of hostages, but in favor of the Paris
Commune. (N.B.--The Commune existed fifty years ago.) Yet the Commune
took hostages. A difficulty arises. But what does the art of exegesis
exist for?

The decree of the Commune concerning hostages and their execution in
reply to the atrocities of the Versaillese arose, according to the
profound explanation of Kautsky, "from a striving to preserve human
life, not to destroy it." A marvellous discovery! It only requires to
be developed. It could, and must, be explained that in the civil war
we destroyed White Guards in order that they should not destroy the
workers. Consequently, our problem is not the destruction of human
life, but its preservation. But as we have to struggle for the
preservation of human life with arms in our hands, it leads to the
destruction of human life--a puzzle the dialectical secret of which
was explained by old Hegel, without reckoning other still more ancient

The Commune could maintain itself and consolidate its position only by
a determined struggle with the Versaillese. The latter, on the other
hand, had a large number of agents in Paris. Fighting with the agents
of Thiers, the Commune could not abstain from destroying the
Versaillese at the front and in the rear. If its rule had crossed the
bounds of Paris, in the provinces it would have found--during the
process of the civil war with the Army of the National Assembly--still
more determined foes in the midst of the peaceful population. The
Commune when fighting the royalists could not allow freedom of speech
to royalist agents in the rear.

Kautsky, in spite of all the happenings in the world to-day, completely
fails to realize what war is in general, and the civil war in
particular. He does not understand that every, or nearly every,
sympathizer with Thiers in Paris was not merely an "opponent" of the
Communards in ideas, but an agent and spy of Thiers, a ferocious enemy
ready to shoot one in the back. The enemy must be made harmless, and in
wartime this means that he must be destroyed.

The problem of revolution, as of war, consists in breaking the will of
the foe, forcing him to capitulate and to accept the conditions of the
conqueror. The will, of course, is a fact of the physical world, but
in contradistinction to a meeting, a dispute, or a congress, the
revolution carries out its object by means of the employment of
material resources--though to a less degree than war. The bourgeoisie
itself conquered power by means of revolts, and consolidated it by the
civil war. In the peaceful period, it retains power by means of a
system of repression. As long as class society, founded on the most
deep-rooted antagonisms, continues to exist, repression remains a
necessary means of breaking the will of the opposing side.

Even if, in one country or another, the dictatorship of the proletariat
grew up within the external framework of democracy, this would by
no means avert the civil war. The question as to who is to rule
the country, _i.e._, of the life or death of the bourgeoisie, will
be decided on either side, not by references to the paragraphs of
the constitution, but by the employment of all forms of violence.
However deeply Kautsky goes into the question of the food of the
anthropopithecus (see page 122 et seq. of his book) and other immediate
and remote conditions which determine the cause of human cruelty, he
will find in history no other way of breaking the class will of the
enemy except the systematic and energetic use of violence.

The degree of ferocity of the struggle depends on a series of internal
and international circumstances. The more ferocious and dangerous is
the resistance of the class enemy who have been overthrown, the more
inevitably does the system of repression take the form of a system of

But here Kautsky unexpectedly takes up a new position in his struggle
with Soviet terrorism. He simply waves aside all reference to the
ferocity of the counter-revolutionary opposition of the Russian

"Such ferocity," he says, "could not be noticed in November, 1917, in
Petrograd and Moscow, and still less more recently in Budapest." (Page
149.) With such a happy formulation of the question, revolutionary
terrorism merely proves to be a product of the blood-thirstiness of
the Bolsheviks, who simultaneously abandoned the traditions of the
vegetarian anthropopithecus and the moral lessons of Kautsky.

The first conquest of power by the Soviets at the beginning of
November, 1917 (new style), was actually accomplished with
insignificant sacrifices. The Russian bourgeoisie found itself to such
a degree estranged from the masses of the people, so internally
helpless, so compromised by the course and the result of the war, so
demoralized by the regime of Kerensky, that it scarcely dared show any
resistance. In Petrograd the power of Kerensky was overthrown almost
without a fight. In Moscow its resistance was dragged out, mainly owing
to the indecisive character of our own actions. In the majority of the
provincial towns, power was transferred to the Soviet on the mere
receipt of a telegram from Petrograd or Moscow. If the matter had ended
there, there would have been no word of the Red Terror. But in
November, 1917, there was already evidence of the beginning of the
resistance of the propertied classes. True, there was required the
intervention of the imperialist governments of the West in order to
give the Russian counter-revolution faith in itself, and to add
ever-increasing power to its resistance. This can be shown from facts,
both important and insignificant, day by day during the whole epoch of
the Soviet revolution.

Kerensky's "Staff" felt no support forthcoming from the mass of the
soldiery, and was inclined to recognize the Soviet Government, which
had begun negotiations for an armistice with the Germans. But there
followed the protest of the military missions of the Entente, followed
by open threats. The Staff was frightened; incited by "Allied"
officers, it entered the path of opposition. This led to armed
conflict and to the murder of the chief of the field staff, General
Dukhonin, by a group of revolutionary sailors.

In Petrograd, the official agents of the Entente, especially the
French Military Mission, hand in hand with the S.R.s and the
Mensheviks, openly organized the opposition, mobilizing, arming,
inciting against us the cadets, and the bourgeois youth generally,
from the second day of the Soviet revolution. The rising of the
junkers on November 10 brought about a hundred times more victims than
the revolution of November 7. The campaign of the adventurers Kerensky
and Krasnov against Petrograd, organized at the same time by the
Entente, naturally introduced into the struggle the first elements of
savagery. Nevertheless, General Krasnov was set free on his word of
honor. The Yaroslav rising (in the summer of 1918) which involved so
many victims, was organized by Savinkov on the instructions of the
French Embassy, and with its resources. Archangel was captured
according to the plans of British naval agents, with the help of
British warships and aeroplanes. The beginning of the empire of
Kolchak, the nominee of the American Stock Exchange, was brought about
by the foreign Czecho-Slovak Corps maintained by the resources of the
French Government. Kaledin and Krasnov (liberated by us), the first
leaders of the counter-revolution on the Don, could enjoy partial
success only thanks to the open military and financial aid of Germany.
In the Ukraine the Soviet power was overthrown in the beginning of
1918 by German militarism. The Volunteer Army of Denikin was created
with the financial and technical help of Great Britain and France.
Only in the hope of British intervention and of British military
support was Yudenich's army created. The politicians, the diplomats,
and the journalists of the Entente have for two years on end been
debating with complete frankness the question of whether the financing
of the civil war in Russia is a sufficiently profitable enterprise. In
such circumstances, one needs truly a brazen forehead to seek the
reason for the sanguinary character of the civil war in Russia in the
malevolence of the Bolsheviks, and not in the international situation.

The Russian proletariat was the first to enter the path of the social
revolution, and the Russian bourgeoisie, politically helpless, was
emboldened to struggle against its political and economic
expropriation only because it saw its elder sister in all countries
still in power, and still maintaining economic, political, and, to a
certain extent, military supremacy.

If our November revolution had taken place a few months, or even a few
weeks, after the establishment of the rule of the proletariat in
Germany, France, and England, there can be no doubt that our
revolution would have been the most "peaceful," the most "bloodless"
of all possible revolutions on this sinful earth. But this historical
sequence--the most "natural" at the first glance, and, in any case,
the most beneficial for the Russian working class--found itself
infringed--not through our fault, but through the will of events.
Instead of being the last, the Russian proletariat proved to be the
first. It was just this circumstance, after the first period of
confusion, that imparted desperation to the character of the
resistance of the classes which had ruled in Russia previously, and
forced the Russian proletariat, in a moment of the greatest peril,
foreign attacks, and internal plots and insurrections, to have
recourse to severe measures of State terror. No one will now say that
those measures proved futile. But, perhaps, we are expected to
consider them "intolerable"?

The working class, which seized power in battle, had as its object and
its duty to establish that power unshakeably, to guarantee its own
supremacy beyond question, to destroy its enemies' hankering for a new
revolution, and thereby to make sure of carrying out Socialist
reforms. Otherwise there would be no point in seizing power.

The revolution "logically" does not demand terrorism, just as
"logically" it does not demand an armed insurrection. What a profound
commonplace! But the revolution does require of the revolutionary
class that it should attain its end by all methods at its
disposal--if necessary, by an armed rising: if required, by
terrorism. A revolutionary class which has conquered power with arms
in its hands is bound to, and will, suppress, rifle in hand, all
attempts to tear the power out of its hands. Where it has against it
a hostile army, it will oppose to it its own army. Where it is
confronted with armed conspiracy, attempt at murder, or rising, it
will hurl at the heads of its enemies an unsparing penalty. Perhaps
Kautsky has invented other methods? Or does he reduce the whole
question to the _degree_ of repression, and recommend in all
circumstances imprisonment instead of execution?

The question of the form of repression, or of its degree, of course,
is not one of "principle." It is a question of expediency. In a
revolutionary period, the party which has been thrown from power,
which does not reconcile itself with the stability of the ruling
class, and which proves this by its desperate struggle against the
latter, cannot be terrorized by the threat of imprisonment, as it does
not believe in its duration. It is just this simple but decisive fact
that explains the widespread recourse to shooting in a civil war.

Or, perhaps, Kautsky wishes to say that execution is not expedient,
that "classes cannot be cowed." This is untrue. Terror is
helpless--and then only "in the long run"--if it is employed by
reaction against a historically rising class. But terror can be very
efficient against a reactionary class which does not want to leave the
scene of operations. _Intimidation_ is a powerful weapon of policy,
both internationally and internally. War, like revolution, is founded
upon intimidation. A victorious war, generally speaking, destroys
only an insignificant part of the conquered army, intimidating the
remainder and breaking their will. The revolution works in the same
way: it kills individuals, and intimidates thousands. In this sense,
the Red Terror is not distinguishable from the armed insurrection,
the direct continuation of which it represents. The State terror
of a revolutionary class can be condemned "morally" only by a man
who, as a principle, rejects (in words) every form of violence
whatsoever--consequently, every war and every rising. For this one has
to be merely and simply a hypocritical Quaker.

"But, in that case, in what do your tactics differ from the tactics of
Tsarism?" we are asked, by the high priests of Liberalism and

You do not understand this, holy men? We shall explain to you. The
terror of Tsarism was directed against the proletariat. The
gendarmerie of Tsarism throttled the workers who were fighting for the
Socialist order. Our Extraordinary Commissions shoot landlords,
capitalists, and generals who are striving to restore the capitalist
order. Do you grasp this ... distinction? Yes? For us Communists it is
quite sufficient.


One point particularly worries Kautsky, the author of a great many
books and articles--the freedom of the Press. Is it permissible to
suppress newspapers?

During war all institutions and organs of the State and of public
opinion become, directly or indirectly, weapons of warfare. This is
particularly true of the Press. No government carrying on a serious
war will allow publications to exist on its territory which, openly or
indirectly, support the enemy. Still more so in a civil war. The
nature of the latter is such that each of the struggling sides has in
the rear of its armies considerable circles of the population on the
side of the enemy. In war, where both success and failure are repaid
by death, hostile agents who penetrate into the rear are subject to
execution. This is inhumane, but no one ever considered war a school
of humanity--still less civil war. Can it be seriously demanded that,
during a civil war with the White Guards of Denikin, the publications
of parties supporting Denikin should come out unhindered in Moscow and
Petrograd? To propose this in the name of the "freedom" of the Press
is just the same as, in the name of open dealing, to demand the
publication of military secrets. "A besieged city," wrote a Communard,
Arthur Arnould of Paris, "cannot permit within its midst that hopes
for its fall should openly be expressed, that the fighters defending
it should be incited to treason, that the movements of its troops
should be communicated to the enemy. Such was the position of Paris
under the Commune." Such is the position of the Soviet Republic during
the two years of its existence.

Let us, however, listen to what Kautsky has to say in this connection.

"The justification of this system (_i.e._, repressions in connection
with the Press) is reduced to the naive idea that an absolute truth
(!) exists, and that only the Communists possess it (!). Similarly,"
continues Kautsky, "it reduces itself to another point of view, that
all writers are by nature liars (!) and that only Communists are
fanatics for truth (!). In reality, liars and fanatics for what they
consider truth are to be found in all camps." And so on, and so on,
and so on. (Page 176.)

In this way, in Kautsky's eyes, the revolution, in its most acute
phase, when it is a question of the life and death of classes,
continues as hitherto to be a literary discussion with the object of
establishing ... the truth. What profundity!... Our "truth," of
course, is not absolute. But as in its name we are, at the present
moment, shedding our blood, we have neither cause nor possibility to
carry on a literary discussion as to the relativity of truth with
those who "criticize" us with the help of all forms of arms.
Similarly, our problem is not to punish liars and to encourage just
men amongst journalists of all shades of opinion, but to throttle the
class lie of the bourgeoisie and to achieve the class truth of the
proletariat, irrespective of the fact that in both camps there are
fanatics and liars.

"The Soviet Government," Kautsky thunders, "has destroyed the sole
remedy that might militate against corruption: the freedom of the
Press. Control by means of unlimited freedom of the Press alone could
have restrained those bandits and adventurers who will inevitably
cling like leeches to every unlimited, uncontrolled power." (Page
188.) And so on.

The Press as a trusty weapon of the struggle with corruption! This
liberal recipe sounds particularly pitiful when one remembers the two
countries with the greatest "freedom" of the Press--North America and
France--which, at the same time, are countries of the most highly
developed stage of capitalist corruption.

Feeding on the old scandal of the political ante-rooms of the Russian
revolution, Kautsky imagines that without Cadet and Menshevik freedom
the Soviet apparatus is honey-combed with "bandits" and "adventurers."
Such was the voice of the Mensheviks a year or eighteen months ago.
Now even they will not dare to repeat this. With the help of Soviet
control and party selection, the Soviet Government, in the intense
atmosphere of the struggle, has dealt with the bandits and adventurers
who appeared on the surface at the moment of the revolution
incomparably better than any government whatsoever, at any time

We are fighting. We are fighting a life-and-death struggle. The Press
is a weapon not of an abstract society, but of two irreconcilable,
armed and contending sides. We are destroying the Press of the
counter-revolution, just as we destroyed its fortified positions, its
stores, its communications, and its intelligence system. Are we
depriving ourselves of Cadet and Menshevik criticisms of the
corruption of the working class? In return we are victoriously
destroying the very foundations of capitalist corruption.

But Kautsky goes further to develop his theme. He complains that we
suppress the newspapers of the S.R.s and the Mensheviks, and
even--such things have been known--arrest their leaders. Are we not
dealing here with "shades of opinion" in the proletarian or the
Socialist movement? The scholastic pedant does not see facts beyond
his accustomed words. The Mensheviks and S.R.s for him are simply
tendencies in Socialism, whereas, in the course of the revolution,
they have been transformed into an organization which works in active
co-operation with the counter-revolution and carries on against us
an open war. The army of Kolchak was organized by Socialist
Revolutionaries (how that name savours to-day of the charlatan!), and
was supported by Mensheviks. Both carried on--and carry on--against
us, for a year and a half, a war on the Northern front. The Mensheviks
who rule the Caucasus, formerly the allies of Hohenzollern, and to-day
the allies of Lloyd George, arrested and shot Bolsheviks hand in hand
with German and British officers. The Mensheviks and S.R.s of the
Kuban Rada organized the army of Denikin. The Esthonian Mensheviks who
participate in their government were directly concerned in the last
advance of Yudenich against Petrograd. Such are these "tendencies" in
the Socialist movement. Kautsky considers that one can be in a state
of open and civil war with the Mensheviks and S.R.s, who, with the
help of the troops they themselves have organized for Yudenich,
Kolchak and Denikin, are fighting for their "shade of opinions" in
Socialism, and at the same time to allow those innocent "shades of
opinion" freedom of the Press in our rear. If the dispute with the
S.R.s and the Mensheviks could be settled by means of persuasion and
voting--that is, if there were not behind their backs the Russian and
foreign imperialists--there would be no civil war.

Kautsky, of course, is ready to "condemn"--an extra drop of ink--the
blockade, and the Entente support of Denikin, and the White Terror.
But in his high impartiality he cannot refuse the latter certain
extenuating circumstances. The White Terror, you see, does not
infringe their own principles, while the Bolsheviks, making use of the
Red Terror, betray the principle of "the sacredness of human life
which they themselves proclaimed." (Page 210.)

What is the meaning of the principle of the sacredness of human life
in practice, and in what does it differ from the commandment, "Thou
shalt not kill," Kautsky does not explain. When a murderer raises his
knife over a child, may one kill the murderer to save the child? Will
not thereby the principle of the "sacredness of human life" be
infringed? May one kill the murderer to save oneself? Is an
insurrection of oppressed slaves against their masters permissible?
Is it permissible to purchase one's freedom at the cost of the
life of one's jailers? If human life in general is sacred and
inviolable, we must deny ourselves not only the use of terror, not
only war, but also revolution itself. Kautsky simply does not realize
the counter-revolutionary meaning of the "principle" which he attempts
to force upon us. Elsewhere we shall see that Kautsky accuses us of
concluding the Brest-Litovsk peace: in his opinion we ought to have
continued war. But what then becomes of the sacredness of human life?
Does life cease to be sacred when it is a question of people talking
another language, or does Kautsky consider that mass murders organized
on principles of strategy and tactics are not murders at all? Truly it
is difficult to put forward in our age a principle more hypocritical
and more stupid. As long as human labor-power, and, consequently, life
itself, remain articles of sale and purchase, of exploitation and
robbery, the principle of the "sacredness of human life" remains a
shameful lie, uttered with the object of keeping the oppressed slaves
in their chains.

We used to fight against the death penalty introduced by Kerensky,
because that penalty was inflicted by the courts-martial of the old
army on soldiers who refused to continue the imperialist war. We tore
this weapon out of the hands of the old courts-martial, destroyed the
courts-martial themselves, and demobilized the old army which had
brought them forth. Destroying in the Red Army, and generally
throughout the country, counter-revolutionary conspirators who strive
by means of insurrections, murders, and disorganization, to restore
the old regime, we are acting in accordance with the iron laws of a
war in which we desire to guarantee our victory.

If it is a question of seeking formal contradictions, then obviously
we must do so on the side of the White Terror, which is the weapon of
classes which consider themselves "Christian," patronize idealist
philosophy, and are firmly convinced that the individuality (their
own) is an end-in-itself. As for us, we were never concerned with the
Kantian-priestly and vegetarian-Quaker prattle about the "sacredness
of human life." We were revolutionaries in opposition, and have
remained revolutionaries in power. To make the individual sacred we
must destroy the social order which crucifies him. And this problem
can only be solved by blood and iron.

There is another difference between the White Terror and the Red,
which Kautsky to-day ignores, but which in the eyes of a Marxist is
of decisive significance. The White Terror is the weapon of the
historically reactionary class. When we exposed the futility of the
repressions of the bourgeois State against the proletariat, we never
denied that by arrests and executions the ruling class, under certain
conditions, might temporarily retard the development of the social
revolution. But we were convinced that they would not be able to
bring it to a halt. We relied on the fact that the proletariat is the
historically rising class, and that bourgeois society could not
develop without increasing the forces of the proletariat. The
bourgeoisie to-day is a falling class. It not only no longer plays an
essential part in production, but by its imperialist methods of
appropriation is destroying the economic structure of the world and
human culture generally. Nevertheless, the historical persistence of
the bourgeoisie is colossal. It holds to power, and does not wish to
abandon it. Thereby it threatens to drag after it into the abyss the
whole of society. We are forced to tear it off, to chop it away. The
Red Terror is a weapon utilized against a class, doomed to
destruction, which does not wish to perish. If the White Terror can
only retard the historical rise of the proletariat, the Red Terror
hastens the destruction of the bourgeoisie. This hastening--a pure
question of acceleration--is at certain periods of decisive
importance. Without the Red Terror, the Russian bourgeoisie, together
with the world bourgeoisie, would throttle us long before the coming
of the revolution in Europe. One must be blind not to see this, or a
swindler to deny it.

The man who recognizes the revolutionary historic importance of the
very fact of the existence of the Soviet system must also sanction the
Red Terror. Kautsky, who, during the last two years, has covered
mountains of paper with polemics against Communism and Terrorism, is
obliged, at the end of his pamphlet, to recognize the facts, and
unexpectedly to admit that the Russian Soviet Government is to-day the
most important factor in the world revolution. "However one regards
the Bolshevik methods," he writes, "the fact that a proletarian
government in a large country has not only reached power, but has
retained it for two years up to the present time, amidst great
difficulties, extraordinarily increases the sense of power amongst the
proletariat of all countries. For the actual revolution the Bolsheviks
have thereby accomplished a great work--_grosses geleistet_." (Page

This announcement stuns us as a completely unexpected recognition of
historical truth from a quarter whence we had long since ceased to
await it. The Bolsheviks have accomplished a great historical task by
existing for two years against the united capitalist world. But the
Bolsheviks held out not only by ideas, but by the sword. Kautsky's
admission is an involuntary sanctioning of the methods of the Red
Terror, and at the same time the most effective condemnation of his
own critical concoction.


Kautsky sees one of the reasons for the extremely bloody character of
the revolution in the war and in its hardening influence on manners.
Quite undeniable. That influence, with all the consequences that
follow from it, might have been foreseen earlier--approximately in the
period when Kautsky was not certain whether one ought to vote for the
war credits or against them.

"Imperialism has violently torn society out of its condition of
unstable equilibrium," he wrote five years ago in our German
book--_The War and the International_. "It has blown up the sluices
with which Social-Democracy held back the current of the revolutionary
energy of the proletariat, and has directed that current into its own
channels. This monstrous historical experiment, which at one blow has
broken the back of the Socialist International, represents a deadly
danger for bourgeoisie society itself. The hammer has been taken from
the hand of the worker, and has been replaced by the sword. The
worker, bound hand and foot by the mechanism of capitalist society,
has suddenly burst out of its midst, and is learning to put the aims
of the community higher than his own domestic happiness and than life

"With this weapon, which he himself has forged, in his hand, the
worker is placed in a position in which the political destiny of the
State depends directly on him. Those who in former times oppressed and
despised him now flatter and caress him. At the same time he is
entering into intimate relations with those same guns which, according
to Lassalle, constitute the most important integral part of the
constitution. He crosses the boundaries of states, participates in
violent requisitions, and under his blows towns pass from hand to
hand. Changes take place such as the last generation did not dream of.

"If the most advanced workers were aware that force was the mother of
law, their political thought still remained saturated with the spirit
of opportunism and self-adaptation to bourgeois legality. To-day the
worker has learned in practice to despise that legality, and violently
to destroy it. The static moments in his psychology are giving place
to the dynamic. Heavy guns are knocking into his head the idea that,
in cases where it is impossible to avoid an obstacle, there remains
the possibility of destroying it. Nearly the whole adult male
population is passing through this school of war, terrible in its
social realism, which is bringing forth a new type of humanity.

"Over all the criteria of bourgeois society--its law, its morality,
its religion--is now raised the fist of iron necessity. 'Necessity
knows no law' was the declaration of the German Chancellor (August 4,
1914). Monarchs come out into the market-place to accuse one another
of lying in the language of fishwives; governments break promises they
have solemnly made, while the national church binds its Lord God like
a convict to the national cannon. Is it not obvious that these
circumstances must create important alterations in the psychology of
the working class, radically curing it of that hypnosis of legality
which was created by the period of political stagnation? The
propertied classes will soon, to their sorrow, have to be convinced of
this. The proletariat, after passing through the school of war, at the
first serious obstacle within its own country will feel the necessity
of speaking with the language of force. 'Necessity knows no law,' he
will throw in the face of those who attempt to stop him by laws of
bourgeois legality. And the terrible economic necessity which will
arise during the course of this war, and particularly at its end, will
drive the masses to spurn very many laws." (Page 56-57.)

All this is undeniable. But to what is said above one must add that
the war has exercised no less influence on the psychology of the
ruling classes. As the masses become more insistent in their demands,
so the bourgeoisie has become more unyielding.

In times of peace, the capitalists used to guarantee their interests
by means of the "peaceful" robbery of hired labor. During the war they
served those same interests by means of the destruction of countless
human lives. This has imparted to their consciousness as a master
class a new "Napoleonic" trait. The capitalists during the war became
accustomed to send to their death millions of slaves--fellow-countrymen
and colonials--for the sake of coal, railway, and other profits.

During the war there emerged from the ranks of the bourgeoisie--large,
middle, and small--hundreds of thousands of officers, professional
fighters, men whose character has received the hardening of battle,
and has become freed from all external restraints: qualified soldiers,
ready and able to defend the privileged position of the bourgeoisie
which produced them with a ferocity which, in its way, borders on

The revolution would probably be more humane if the proletariat had
the possibility of "buying off all this band," as Marx once put it.
But capitalism during the war has imposed upon the toilers too great a
load of debt, and has too deeply undermined the foundations of
production, for us to be able seriously to contemplate a ransom in
return for which the bourgeoisie would silently make its peace with
the revolution. The masses have lost too much blood, have suffered too
much, have become too savage, to accept a decision which economically
would be beyond their capacity.

To this there must be added other circumstances working in the same
direction. The bourgeoisie of the conquered countries has been
embittered by defeat, the responsibility for which it is inclined to
throw on the rank and file--on the workers and peasants who proved
incapable of carrying on "the great national war" to a victorious
conclusion. From this point of view, one finds very instructive those
explanations, unparalleled for their effrontery, which Ludendorff gave
to the Commission of the National Assembly. The bands of Ludendorff
are burning with the desire to take revenge for their humiliation
abroad on the blood of their own proletariat. As for the bourgeoisie
of the victorious countries, it has become inflated with arrogance,
and is more than ever ready to defend its social position with the
help of the bestial methods which guaranteed its victory. We have seen
that the bourgeoisie is incapable of organizing the division of the
booty amongst its own ranks without war and destruction. Can it,
without a fight, abandon its booty altogether? The experience of the
last five years leaves no doubt whatsoever on this score: if even
previously it was absolutely utopian to expect that the expropriation
of the propertied classes--thanks to "democracy"--would take place
imperceptibly and painlessly, without insurrections, armed conflicts,
attempts at counter-revolution, and severe repression, the state of
affairs we have inherited from the imperialist war predetermines,
doubly and trebly, the tense character of the civil war and the
dictatorship of the proletariat.



_"The short episode of the first revolution carried out by the
proletariat for the proletariat ended in the triumph of its enemy.
This episode--from March 18 to May 28--lasted seventy-two days."--"The
Paris Commune" of March 18, 1871, P. L. Lavrov, Petrograd. 'Kolos'
Publishing House, 1919, pp. 160._


The Paris Commune of 1871 was the first, as yet weak, historic attempt
of the working class to impose its supremacy. We cherished the memory
of the Commune in spite of the extremely limited character of its
experience, the immaturity of its participants, the confusion of its
programme, the lack of unity amongst its leaders, the indecision of
their plans, the hopeless panic of its executive organs, and the
terrifying defeat fatally precipitated by all these. We cherish in the
Commune, in the words of Lavrov, "the first, though still pale, dawn
of the proletarian republic." Quite otherwise with Kautsky. Devoting a
considerable part of his book to a crudely tendencious contrast
between the Commune and the Soviet power, he sees the main advantages
of the Commune in features that we find are its misfortune and its

Kautsky laboriously proves that the Paris Commune of 1871 was not
"artificially" prepared, but emerged unexpectedly, taking the
revolutionaries by surprise--in contrast to the November revolution,
which was carefully prepared by our party. This is incontestable. Not
daring clearly to formulate his profoundly reactionary ideas, Kautsky
does not say outright whether the Paris revolutionaries of 1871
deserve praise for not having foreseen the proletarian insurrection,
and for not having foreseen the inevitable and consciously gone to
meet it. However, all Kautsky's picture was built up in such a way as
to produce in the reader just this idea: the Communards were simply
overtaken by misfortune (the Bavarian philistine, Vollmar, once
expressed his regret that the Communards had not gone to bed instead
of taking power into their hands), and, therefore, deserve pity. The
Bolsheviks consciously went to meet misfortune (the conquest of
power), and, therefore, there is no forgiveness for them either in
this or the future world. Such a formulation of the question may seem
incredible in its internal inconsistency. None the less, it follows
quite inevitably from the position of the Kautskian "Independents,"
who draw their heads into their shoulders in order to see and foresee
nothing; and, if they do move forward, it is only after having
received a preliminary stout blow in the rear.

"To humiliate Paris," writes Kautsky, "not to give it self-government,
to deprive it of its position as capital, to disarm it in order
afterwards to attempt with greater confidence a monarchist _coup
d'état_--such was the most important task of the National Assembly
and the chief of the executive power it elected, Thiers. Out of this
situation arose the conflict which led to the Paris insurrection.

"It is clear how different from this was the character of the _coup
d'état_ carried out by the Bolsheviks, which drew its strength from
the yearning for peace; which had the peasantry behind it; which had
in the National Assembly against it, not monarchists, but S.R.s and
Menshevik Social-Democrats.

"The Bolsheviks came to power by means of a well-prepared _coup
d'état_; which at one blow handed over to them the whole machinery
of the State--immediately utilized in the most energetic and merciless
manner for the purpose of suppressing their opponents, amongst them
their proletarian opponents.

"No one, on the other hand, was more surprised by the insurrection of
the Commune than the revolutionaries themselves, and for a
considerable number amongst them the conflict was in the highest
degree undesirable." (Page 56.)

In order more clearly to realize the actual sense of what Kautsky has
written here of the Communards, let us bring forward the following

"On March 1, 1871," writes Lavrov, in his very instructive book on the
Commune, "six months after the fall of the Empire, and a few days
before the explosion of the Commune, the guiding personalities in the
Paris International still had no definite political programme." (Pages

"After March 18," writes the same author, "Paris was in the hands of
the proletariat, but its leaders, overwhelmed by their unexpected
power, did not take the most elementary measures." (Page 71.)

"'Your part is too big for you to play, and your sole aim is to get
rid of responsibility,' said one member of the Central Committee of
the National Guard. In this was a great deal of truth," writes the
Communard and historian of the Commune, Lissagaray. "But at the moment
of action itself the absence of preliminary organization and
preparation is very often a reason why parts are assigned to men which
are too big for them to play." (Brussels, 1876; page 106.)

From this one can already see (later on it will become still more
obvious) that the absence of a direct struggle for power on the part
of the Paris Socialists was explained by their theoretical
shapelessness and political helplessness, and not at all by higher
considerations of tactics.

We have no doubt that Kautsky's own loyalty to the traditions of the
Commune will be expressed mainly in that extraordinary surprise with
which he will greet the proletarian revolution in Germany as "a
conflict in the highest degree undesirable." We doubt, however,
whether this will be ascribed by posterity to his credit. In reality,
one must describe his historical analogy as a combination of
confusion, omission, and fraudulent suggestion.

The intentions which were entertained by Thiers towards Paris were
entertained by Miliukov, who was openly supported by Tseretelli and
Chernov, towards Petrograd. All of them, from Kornilov to Potressov,
affirmed day after day that Petrograd had alienated itself from the
country, had nothing in common with it, was completely corrupted, and
was attempting to impose its will upon the community. To overthrow and
humiliate Petrograd was the first task of Miliukov and his assistants.
And this took place at a period when Petrograd was the true centre of
the revolution, which had not yet been able to consolidate its
position in the rest of the country. The former president of the Duma,
Rodzianko, openly talked about handing over Petrograd to the Germans
for educative purposes, as Riga had been handed over. Rodzianko only
called by its name what Miliukov was trying to carry out, and what
Kerensky assisted by his whole policy.

Miliukov, like Thiers, wished to disarm the proletariat. More than
that, thanks to Kerensky, Chernov, and Tseretelli, the Petrograd
proletariat was to a considerable extent disarmed in July, 1917. It
was partially re-armed during Kornilov's march on Petrograd in August.
And this new arming was a serious element in the preparation of the
November insurrection. In this way, it is just the points in which
Kautsky contrasts our November revolution to the March revolt of the
Paris workers that, to a very large extent, coincide.

In what, however, lies the difference between them? First of all, in
the fact that Thiers' criminal plans succeeded: Paris was throttled by
him, and tens of thousands of workers were destroyed. Miliukov, on the
other hand, had a complete fiasco: Petrograd remained an impregnable
fortress of the proletariat, and the leader of the bourgeoisie went to
the Ukraine to petition that the Kaiser's troops should occupy Russia.
For this difference we were to a considerable extent responsible--and
we are ready to bear the responsibility. There is a capital difference
also in the fact--that this told more than once in the further course
of events--that, while the Communards began mainly with considerations
of patriotism, we were invariably guided by the point of view of the
international revolution. The defeat of the Commune led to the
practical collapse of the First International. The victory of the
Soviet power has led to the creation of the Third International.

But Marx--on the eve of the insurrection--advised the Communards not
to revolt, but to create an organization! One might understand Kautsky
if he adduced this evidence in order to show that Marx had
insufficiently gauged the acuteness of the situation in Paris. But
Kautsky attempts to exploit Marx's advice as a proof of his
condemnation of insurrection in general. Like all the mandarins of
German Social-Democracy, Kautsky sees in organization first and
foremost a method of hindering revolutionary action.

But limiting ourselves to the question of organization as such, we
must not forget that the November revolution was preceded by nine
months of Kerensky's Government, during which our party, not without
success, devoted itself not only to agitation, but also to
organization. The November revolution took place after we had achieved
a crushing majority in the Workers' and Soldiers' Councils of
Petrograd, Moscow, and all the industrial centres in the country, and
had transformed the Soviets into powerful organizations directed by
our party. The Communards did nothing of the kind. Finally, we had
behind us the heroic Commune of Paris, from the defeat of which we had
drawn the deduction that revolutionaries must foresee events and
prepare for them. For this also we are to blame.

Kautsky requires his extensive comparison of the Commune and Soviet
Russia only in order to slander and humiliate a living and victorious
dictatorship of the proletariat in the interests of an attempted
dictatorship, in the already fairly distant past.

Kautsky quotes with extreme satisfaction the statement of the Central
Committee of the National Guard on March 19 in connection with the
murder of the two generals by the soldiery. "We say indignantly: the
bloody filth with the help of which it is hoped to stain our honor is
a pitiful slander. We never organized murder, and never did the
National Guard take part in the execution of crime."

Naturally, the Central Committee had no cause to assume responsibility
for murders with which it had no concern. But the sentimental,
pathetic tone of the statement very clearly characterises the
political timorousness of these men in the face of bourgeois public
opinion. Nor is this surprising. The representatives of the National
Guard were men in most cases with a very modest revolutionary past.
"Not one well-known name," writes Lissagaray. "They were petty
bourgeois shop-keepers, strangers to all but limited circles, and, in
most cases, strangers hitherto to politics." (Page 70.)

"The modest and, to some extent, fearful sense of terrible historical
responsibility, and the desire to get rid of it as soon as possible,"
writes Lavrov of them, "is evident in all the proclamations of this
Central Committee, into the hands of which the destiny of Paris had
fallen." (Page 77.)

After bringing forward, to our confusion, the declamation concerning
bloodshed, Kautsky later on follows Marx and Engels in criticizing the
indecision of the Commune. "If the Parisians (_i.e._, the Communards)
had persistently followed up the tracts of Thiers, they would,
perhaps, have managed to seize the government. The troops falling back
from Paris would not have shown the least resistance ... but they let
Thiers go without hindrance. They allowed him to lead away his troops
and reorganize them at Versailles, to inspire a new spirit in, and
strengthen, them." (Page 49.)

Kautsky cannot understand that it was the same men, and for the very
same reasons, who published the statement of March 19 quoted above,
who allowed Thiers to leave Paris with impunity and gather his forces.
If the Communards had _conquered_ with the help of resources of a
purely moral character, their statement would have acquired great
weight. But this did not take place. In reality, their sentimental
humaneness was simply the obverse of their revolutionary passivity.
The men who, by the will of fate, had received power in Paris, could
not understand the necessity of immediately utilizing that power to
the end, of hurling themselves after Thiers, and, before he recovered
his grasp of the situation, of crushing him, of concentrating the
troops in their hands, of carrying out the necessary weeding-out of
the officer class, of seizing the provinces. Such men, of course, were
not inclined to severe measures with counter-revolutionary elements.
The one was closely bound up with the other. Thiers could not be
followed up without arresting Thiers' agents in Paris and shooting
conspirators and spies. When one considered the execution of
counter-revolutionary generals as an indelible "crime," one could not
develop energy in following up troops who were under the direction of
counter-revolutionary generals.

In the revolution in the highest degree of energy is the highest
degree of humanity. "Just the men," Lavrov justly remarks, "who hold
human life and human blood dear must strive to organize the
possibility for a swift and decisive victory, and then to act with the
greatest swiftness and energy, in order to crush the enemy. For only
in this way can we achieve the minimum of inevitable sacrifice and the
minimum of bloodshed." (Page 225.)

The statement of March 19 will, however, be considered with more
justice if we examine it, not as an unconditional confession of faith,
but as the expression of transient moods the day after an unexpected
and bloodless victory. Being an absolute stranger to the understanding
of the dynamics of revolution, and the internal limitations of its
swiftly-developing moods, Kautsky thinks in lifeless schemes, and
distorts the perspective of events by arbitrarily selected analogies.
He does not understand that soft-hearted indecision is generally
characteristic of the masses in the first period of the revolution.
The workers pursue the offensive only under the pressure of iron
necessity, just as they have recourse to the Red Terror only under the
threat of destruction by the White Guards. That which Kautsky
represents as the result of the peculiarly elevated moral feeling of
the Parisian proletariat in 1871 is, in reality, merely a
characteristic of the first stage of the civil war. A similar
phenomenon could have been witnessed in our case.

In Petrograd we conquered power in November, 1917, almost without
bloodshed, and even without arrests. The ministers of Kerensky's
Government were set free very soon after the revolution. More, the
Cossack General, Krasnov, who had advanced on Petrograd together with
Kerensky after the power had passed to the Soviet, and who had been
made prisoner by us at Gatchina, was set free on his word of honor the
next day. This was "generosity" quite in the spirit of the first
measures of the Commune. But it was a mistake. Afterwards, General
Krasnov, after fighting against us for about a year in the South, and
destroying many thousands of Communists, again advanced on Petrograd,
this time in the ranks of Yudenich's army. The proletarian revolution
assumed a more severe character only after the rising of the junkers
in Petrograd, and particularly after the rising of the Czecho-Slovaks
on the Volga organized by the Cadets, the S.R.s, and the Mensheviks,
after their mass executions of Communists, the attempt on Lenin's
life, the murder of Uritsky, etc., etc.

The same tendencies, only in an embryonic form, we see in the history
of the Commune.

Driven by the logic of the struggle, it took its stand in principle on
the path of intimidation. The creation of the Committee of Public
Safety was dictated, in the case of many of its supporters, by the
idea of the Red Terror. The Committee was appointed "to cut off the
heads of traitors" (Journal Officiel No. 123), "to avenge treachery"
(No. 124). Under the head of "intimidatory" decrees we must class the
order to seize the property of Thiers and of his ministers, to destroy
Thiers' house, to destroy the Vendome column, and especially the
decree on hostages. For every captured Communard or sympathizer with
the Commune shot by the Versaillese, three hostages were to be shot.
The activity of the Prefecture of Paris controlled by Raoul Rigault
had a purely terroristic, though not always a useful, purpose.

The effect of all these measures of intimidation was paralyzed by the
helpless opportunism of the guiding elements in the Commune, by their
striving to reconcile the bourgeoisie with the _fait accompli_ by
the help of pitiful phrases, by their vacillations between the fiction
of democracy and the reality of dictatorship. The late Lavrov
expresses the latter idea splendidly in his book on the Commune.

"The Paris of the rich bourgeois and the poor proletarians, as a
political community of different classes, demanded, in the name of
liberal principles, complete freedom of speech, of assembly, of
criticism of the government, etc. The Paris which had accomplished the
revolution in the interests of the proletariat, and had before it the
task of realizing this revolution in the shape of institutions, Paris,
as the community of the emancipated working-class proletariat,
demanded revolutionary--_i.e._, dictatorial, measures against the
enemies of the new order." (Pages 143-144.)

If the Paris Commune had not fallen, but had continued to exist in the
midst of a ceaseless struggle, there can be no doubt that it would
have been obliged to have recourse to more and more severe measures
for the suppression of the counter-revolution. True, Kautsky would not
then have had the possibility of contrasting the humane Communards
with the inhumane Bolsheviks. But in return, probably, Thiers, would
not have had the possibility of inflicting his monstrous bloodletting
upon the proletariat of Paris. History, possibly, would not have been
the loser.


"On March 19," Kautsky informs us, "in the Central Committee of the
National Guard, some demanded a march on Versailles, others an appeal
to the electors, and a third party the adoption first of all of
revolutionary measures; as if every one of these steps," he proceeds
very learnedly to inform us, "were not equally necessary, and as if
one excluded the other." (Page 72.) Further on, Kautsky, in connection
with these disputes in the Commune, presents us with various warmed-up
platitudes as to the mutual relations of reform and revolution. In
reality, the following was the situation. If it were decided to march
on Versailles, and to do this without losing an hour it was necessary
immediately to reorganize the National Guard, to place at its head the
best fighting elements of the Paris proletariat, and thereby
temporarily to weaken Paris from the revolutionary point of view. But
to organize elections in Paris, while at the same time sending out of
its walls the flower of the working class, would have been senseless
from the point of view of the revolutionary party. Theoretically, a
march on Versailles and elections to the Commune, of course, did not
exclude each other in the slightest degree, but in practice they did
exclude each other: for the success of the elections, it was necessary
to postpone the attack; for the attack to succeed, the elections must
be put off. Finally, leading the proletariat out to the field and
thereby temporarily weakening Paris, it was essential to obtain some
guarantee against the possibility of counter-revolutionary attempts in
the capital; for Thiers would not have hesitated at any measures to
raise a white revolt in the rear of the Communards. It was essential
to establish a more military--_i.e._, a more stringent regime in
the capital. "They had to fight," writes Lavrov, "against many
internal foes with whom Paris was full, who only yesterday had been
rioting around the Exchange and the Vendome Square, who had their
representatives in the administration and in the National Guard, who
possessed their press, and their meetings, who almost openly
maintained contact with the Versaillese, and who became more
determined and more audacious at every piece of carelessness, at every
check of the Commune." (Page 87.)

It was necessary, side by side with this, to carry out revolutionary
measures of a financial and generally of an economic character: first
and foremost, for the equipment of the revolutionary army. All these
most necessary measures of revolutionary dictatorship could with
difficulty be reconciled with an extensive electoral campaign. But
Kautsky has not the least idea of what a revolution is in practice. He
thinks that theoretically to reconcile is the same as practically to

The Central Committee appointed March 22 as the day of elections for
the Commune; but, not sure of itself, frightened at its own
illegality, striving to act in unison with more "legal" institutions,
entered into ridiculous and endless negotiations with a quite helpless
assembly of mayors and deputies of Paris, showing its readiness to
divide power with them if only an agreement could be arrived at.
Meanwhile precious time was slipping by.

Marx, on whom Kautsky, through old habit, tries to rely, did not under
any circumstances propose that, at one and the same time, the Commune
should be elected and the workers should be led out into the field for
the war. In his letter to Kugelmann, Marx wrote, on April 12, 1871,
that the Central Committee of the National Guard had too soon given up
its power in favor of the Commune. Kautsky, in his own words, "does
not understand" this opinion of Marx. It is quite simple. Marx at any
rate understood that the problem was not one of chasing legality, but
of inflicting a fatal blow upon the enemy. "If the Central Committee
had consisted of real revolutionaries," says Lavrov, and rightly, "it
ought to have acted differently. It would have been quite unforgivable
for it to have given the enemy ten days' respite before the election
and assembly of the Commune, while the leaders of the proletariat
refused to carry out their duty and did not recognize that they had
the right immediately to _lead_ the proletariat. As it was, the
feeble immaturity of the popular parties created a Committee which
considered those ten days of inaction incumbent upon it." (Page 78.)

The yearning of the Central Committee to hand over power as soon as
possible to a "legal" Government was dictated, not so much by the
superstitions of former democracy, of which, by the way, there was no
lack, as by fear of responsibility. Under the plea that it was a
temporary institution, the Central Committee avoided the taking of the
most necessary and absolutely pressing measures, in spite of the fact
that all the material apparatus of power was centred in its hands. But
the Commune itself did not take over political power in full from the
Central Committee, and the latter continued to interfere in all
business quite unceremoniously. This created a dual Government, which
was extremely dangerous, particularly under military conditions.

On May 3 the Central Committee sent deputies to the Commune demanding
that the Ministry for War should be placed under its control. Again
there arose, as Lissagaray writes, the question as to whether "the
Central Committee should be dissolved, or arrested, or entrusted with
the administration of the Ministry for War."

Here was a question, not of the principles of democracy, but of the
absence, in the case of both parties, of a clear programme of action,
and of the readiness, both of the irresponsible revolutionary
organizations in the shape of the Central Committee and of the
"democratic" organization of the Commune, to shift the responsibility
on to the other's shoulders, while at the same time not entirely
renouncing power.

These were political relations which it might seem no one could call
worthy of imitation.

"But the Central Committee," Kautsky consoles himself, "never
attempted to infringe the principle in virtue of which the supreme
power must belong to the delegates elected by universal suffrage." In
this respect the "Paris Commune was the direct antithesis of the
Soviet Republic." (Page 74.) There was no unity of government, there
was no revolutionary decision, there existed a division of power, and,
as a result, there came swift and terrible destruction. But to
counter-balance this--is it not comforting?--there was no infringement
of the "principle" of democracy.


Comrade Lenin has already pointed out to Kautsky that attempts to
depict the Commune as the expression of formal democracy constitute a
piece of absolute theoretical swindling. The Commune, in its tradition
and in the conception of its leading political party--the Blanquists--was
the expression of _the dictatorship of the revolutionary city over the
country_. So it was in the great French Revolution; so it would have
been in the revolution of 1871 if the Commune had not fallen in the
first days. The fact that in Paris itself a Government was elected
on the basis of universal suffrage does not exclude a much more
significant fact--namely, that of the military operations carried on
by the Commune, one city, against peasant France, that is the whole
country. To satisfy the great democrat, Kautsky, the revolutionaries
of the Commune ought, as a preliminary, to have consulted, by means of
universal suffrage, the whole population of France as to whether it
permitted them to carry on a war with Thiers' bands.

Finally, in Paris itself the elections took place after the
bourgeoisie, or at least its most active elements, had fled, and after
Thiers' troops had been evacuated. The bourgeoisie that remained in
Paris, in spite of all its impudence, was still afraid of the
revolutionary battalions, and the elections took place under the
auspices of that fear, which was the forerunner of what in the future
would have been inevitable--namely, of the Red Terror. But to console
oneself with the thought that the Central Committee of the National
Guard, under the dictatorship of which--unfortunately a very feeble
and formalist dictatorship--the elections to the Commune were held,
did not infringe the principle of universal suffrage, is truly to
brush with the shadow of a broom.

Amusing himself by barren analogies, Kautsky benefits by the
circumstance that his reader is not acquainted with the facts. In
Petrograd, in November, 1917, we also elected a Commune (Town Council)
on the basis of the most "democratic" voting, without limitations for
the bourgeoisie. These elections, being boycotted by the bourgeoisie
parties, gave us a crushing majority. The "democratically" elected
Council voluntarily submitted to the Petrograd Soviet--_i.e._, placed
the fact of the dictatorship of the proletariat higher than the
"principle" of universal suffrage, and, after a short time, dissolved
itself altogether by its own act, in favor of one of the sections of
the Petrograd Soviet. Thus the Petrograd Soviet--that true father of
the Soviet regime--has upon itself the seal of a formal "democratic"
benediction in no way less than the Paris Commune.[6]

          [6] It is not without interest to observe that in the
          Communal elections of 1871 in Paris there participated
          230,000 electors. At the Town elections of November, 1917,
          in Petrograd, in spite of the boycott of the election on the
          part of all parties except ourselves and the Left Social
          Revolutionaries, who had no influence in the capital, there
          participated 390,000 electors. In Paris, in 1871, the
          population numbered two millions. In Petrograd, in November,
          1917, there were not more than two millions. It must be
          noticed that our electoral system was infinitely more
          democratic. The Central Committee of the National Guard
          carried out the elections on the basis of the electoral law
          of the empire.

"At the elections of March 26, eighty members were elected to the
Commune. Of these, fifteen were members of the government party
(Thiers), and six were bourgeois radicals who were in opposition to
the Government, but condemned the rising (of the Paris workers).

"The Soviet Republic," Kautsky teaches us, "would never have allowed
such counter-revolutionary elements to stand as candidates, let alone
be elected. The Commune, on the other hand, out of respect for
democracy, did not place the least obstacle in the way of the election
of its bourgeois opponents." (Page 74.)

We have already seen above that here Kautsky completely misses the
mark. First of all, at a similar stage of development of the Russian
Revolution, there did not take place democratic elections to the
Petrograd Commune, in which the Soviet Government placed no obstacle
in the way of the bourgeois parties; and if the Cadets, the S.R.s and
the Mensheviks, who had their press which was openly calling for the
overthrow of the Soviet Government, boycotted the elections, it was
only because at that time they still hoped soon to make an end of us
with the help of armed force. Secondly, no democracy expressing all
classes was actually to be found in the Paris Commune. The bourgeois
deputies--Conservatives, Liberals, Gambettists--found no place in it.

"Nearly all these individuals," says Lavrov, "either immediately or
very soon, left the Council of the Commune. They might have been
representatives of Paris as a free city under the rule of the
bourgeoisie, but were quite out of place in the Council of the
Commune, which, willy-nilly, consistently or inconsistently,
completely or incompletely, did represent the revolution of the
proletariat, and an attempt, feeble though it might be, of building up
forms of society corresponding to that revolution." (Pages 111-112.)
If the Petrograd bourgeoisie had not boycotted the municipal
elections, its representatives would have entered the Petrograd
Council. They would have remained there up to the first Social
Revolutionary and Cadet rising, after which--with the permission or
without the permission of Kautsky--they would probably have been
arrested if they did not leave the Council in good time, as at a
certain moment did the bourgeois members of the Paris Commune. The
course of events would have remained the same: only on their surface
would certain episodes have worked out differently.

In supporting the democracy of the Commune, and at the same time
accusing it of an insufficiently decisive note in its attitude to
Versailles, Kautsky does not understand that the Communal elections,
carried out with the ambiguous help of the "lawful" mayors and
deputies, reflected the hope of a peaceful agreement with Versailles.
This is the whole point. The leaders were anxious for a compromise,
not for a struggle. The masses had not yet outlived their illusions.
Undeserved revolutionary reputations had not yet had time to be
exposed. Everything taken together was called democracy.

"We must rise above our enemies by moral force...." preached Vermorel.
"We must not infringe liberty and individual life...." Striving to
avoid fratricidal war, Vermorel called upon the liberal bourgeoisie,
whom hitherto he had so mercilessly exposed, to set up "a lawful
Government, recognized and respected by the whole population of
Paris." The _Journal Officiel_, published under the editorship of
the Internationalist Longuet, wrote: "The sad misunderstanding, which
in the June days (1848) armed two classes of society against each
other, cannot be renewed.... Class antagonism has ceased to exist...."
(March 30.) And, further: "Now all conflicts will be appeased, because
all are inspired with a feeling of solidarity, because never yet was
there so little social hatred and social antagonism." (April 3.)

At the session of the Commune of April 25, Jourdé, and not without
foundation, congratulated himself on the fact that the Commune had
"never yet infringed the principle of private property." By this means
they hoped to win over bourgeois public opinion and find the path to

"Such a doctrine," says Lavrov, and rightly, "did not in the least
disarm the enemies of the proletariat, who understood excellently with
what its success threatened them, and only sapped the proletarian
energy and, as it were, deliberately blinded it in the face of its
irreconcilable enemies." (Page 137.) But this enfeebling doctrine was
inextricably bound up with the fiction of democracy. The form of mock
legality it was that allowed them to think that the problem would be
solved without a struggle. "As far as the mass of the population is
concerned," writes Arthur Arnould, a member of the Commune, "it was to
a certain extent justified in the belief in the existence of, at the
very least, a hidden agreement with the Government." Unable to attract
the bourgeoisie, the compromisers, as always, deceived the

The clearest evidence of all that, in the conditions of the inevitable
and already beginning civil war, democratic parliamentarism expressed
only the compromising helplessness of the leading groups, was the
senseless procedure of the supplementary elections to the Commune of
April 6. At this moment, "it was no longer a question of voting,"
writes Arthur Arnould. "The situation had become so tragic that there
was not either the time or the calmness necessary for the correct
functioning of the elections.... All persons devoted to the Commune
were on the fortifications, in the forts, in the foremost
detachments.... The people attributed no importance whatever to these
supplementary elections. The elections were in reality merely
parliamentarism. What was required was not to count voters, but to
have soldiers: not to discover whether we had lost or gained in the
Commune of Paris, but to defend Paris from the Versaillese." From
these words Kautsky might have observed why in practice it is not so
simple to combine class war with interclass democracy.

"The Commune is not a Constituent Assembly," wrote in his book,
Millière, one of the best brains of the Commune. "It is a military
Council. It must have one aim, victory; one weapon, force; one law,
the law of social salvation."

"They could never understand," Lissagaray accuses the leaders, "that
the Commune was a barricade, and not an administration."

They began to understand it in the end, when it was too late. Kautsky
has not understood it to this day. There is no reason to believe that
he will ever understand it.

                 *       *       *       *       *

The Commune was the living negation of formal democracy, for in its
development it signified the dictatorship of working class Paris over
the peasant country. It is this fact that dominates all the rest.
However much the political doctrinaires, in the midst of the Commune
itself, clung to the appearances of democratic legality, every action
of the Commune, though insufficient for victory, was sufficient to
reveal its illegal nature.

The Commune--that is to say, the Paris City Council--repealed the
national law concerning conscription. It called its official organ
_The Official Journal of the French Republic_. Though cautiously,
it still laid hands on the State Bank. It proclaimed the separation of
Church and State, and abolished the Church Budgets. It entered into
relations with various embassies. And so on, and so on. It did all
this in virtue of the revolutionary dictatorship. But Clemenceau,
young democrat as he was then, would not recognize that virtue.

At a conference with the Central Committee, Clemenceau said: "The
rising had an unlawful beginning.... Soon the Committee will become
ridiculous, and its decrees will be despised. Besides, Paris has not
the right to rise against France, and must unconditionally accept the
authority of the Assembly."

The problem of the Commune was to dissolve the National Assembly.
Unfortunately it did not succeed in doing so. To-day Kautsky seeks to
discover for its criminal intentions some mitigating circumstances.

He points out that the Communards had as their opponents in the
National Assembly the monarchists, while we in the Constituent
Assembly had against us ... Socialists, in the persons of the S.R.s,
and the Mensheviks. A complete mental eclipse! Kautsky talks about the
Mensheviks and the S.R.s, but forgets our sole serious foe--the
Cadets. It was they who represented our Russian Thiers party--_i.e._,
a bloc of property owners in the name of property: and Professor
Miliukov did his utmost to imitate the "little great man." Very soon
indeed--long before the October Revolution--Miliukov began to seek his
Gallifet in the generals Kornilov, Alexeiev, then Kaledin, Krasnov, in
turn. And after Kolchak had thrown aside all political parties, and
had dissolved the Constituent Assembly, the Cadet Party, the sole
serious bourgeois party, in its essence monarchist through and
through, not only did not refuse to support him, but on the contrary
devoted more sympathy to him than before.

The Mensheviks and the S.R.s played no independent role amongst
us--just like Kautsky's party during the revolutionary events
in Germany. They based their whole policy upon a coalition with
the Cadets, and thereby put the Cadets in a position to dictate
quite irrespective of the balance of political forces. The
Socialist-Revolutionary and Menshevik Parties were only an
intermediary apparatus for the purpose of collecting, at meetings
and elections, the political confidence of the masses awakened
by the revolution, and for handing it over for disposal by the
counter-revolutionary imperialist party of the Cadets--independently
of the issue of the elections.

The purely vassal-like dependence of the S.R.s and Menshevik _majority_
on the Cadet _minority_ itself represented a very thinly-veiled
insult to the idea of "democracy." But this is not all.

In all districts of the country where the regime of "democracy" lived
too long, it inevitably ended in an open _coup d'etat_ of the
counter-revolution. So it was in the Ukraine, where the democratic
Rada, having sold the Soviet Government to German imperialism, found
itself overthrown by the monarchist Skoropadsky. So it was in the
Kuban, where the democratic Rada found itself under the heel of
Denikin. So it was--and this was the most important experiment of our
"democracy"--in Siberia, where the Constituent Assembly, with the
formal supremacy of the S.R.s and the Mensheviks, in the absence of
the Bolsheviks, and the _de facto_ guidance of the Cadets, led in
the end to the dictatorship of the Tsarist Admiral Kolchak. So it was,
finally, in the north, where the Constituent Assembly government of
the Socialist-Revolutionary Chaikovsky became merely a tinsel
decoration for the rule of counter-revolutionary generals, Russian and
British. So it was, or is, in all the small Border States--in Finland,
Esthonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Georgia, Armenia--where, under
the formal banner of "democracy," there is being consolidated the
supremacy of the landlords, the capitalists, and the foreign


One of the most coarse, unfounded, and politically disgraceful
comparisons which Kautsky makes between the Commune and Soviet Russia
is touching the character of the Paris worker in 1871 and the Russian
proletarian of 1917-19. The first Kautsky depicts as a revolutionary
enthusiast capable of a high measure of self-sacrifice; the second, as
an egoist and a coward, an irresponsible anarchist.

The Parisian worker has behind him too definite a past to need
revolutionary recommendations--or protection from the praises of the
present Kautsky. None the less, the Petrograd proletarian has not, and
cannot have, any reason for avoiding a comparison with his heroic
elder brother. The continuous three years' struggle of the Petrograd
workers--first for the conquest of power, and then for its maintenance
and consolidation--represents an exceptional story of collective
heroism and self-sacrifice, amidst unprecedented tortures in the shape
of hunger, cold, and constant perils.

Kautsky, as we can discover in another connection, takes for contrast
with the flower of the Communards the most sinister elements of the
Russian proletariat. In this respect also he is in no way different
from the bourgeois sycophants, to whom dead Communards always appear
infinitely more attractive than the living.

The Petrograd proletariat seized power four and a half decades after
the Parisian. This period has told enormously in our favor. The
petty bourgeois craft character of old and partly of new Paris is
quite foreign to Petrograd, the centre of the most concentrated
industry in the world. The latter circumstances has extremely
facilitated our tasks of agitation and organization, as well as the
setting up of the Soviet system.

Our proletariat did not have even a faint measure of the rich
revolutionary traditions of the French proletariat. But, instead,
there was still very fresh in the memory of the older generation of
our workers, at the beginning of the present revolution, the great
experiment of 1905, its failure, and the duty of vengeance it had
handed down.

The Russian workers had not, like the French, passed through a long
school of democracy and parliamentarism, which at a certain epoch
represented an important factor in the political education of the
proletariat. But, on the other hand, the Russian working class had not
had seared into its soul the bitterness of dissolution and the poison
of scepticism, which up to a certain, and--let us hope--not very
distant moment, still restrain the revolutionary will of the French

The Paris Commune suffered a military defeat before economic problems
had arisen before it in their full magnitude. In spite of the splendid
fighting qualities of the Paris workers, the military fate of the
Commune was at once determined as hopeless. Indecision and
compromise-mongering above brought about collapse below.

The pay of the National Guard was issued on the basis of the existence
of 162,000 rank and file and 6,500 officers; the number of those who
actually went into battle, especially after the unsuccessful sortie of
April 3, varied between twenty and thirty thousand.

These facts do not in the least compromise the Paris workers, and do
not give us the right to consider them cowards and deserters--although,
of course, there was no lack of desertion. For a fighting army there
must be, first of all, a centralized and accurate apparatus of
administration. Of this the Commune had not even a trace.

The War Department of the Commune, was, in the expression of one
writer, as it were a dark room, in which all collided. The office of
the Ministry was filled with officers and ordinary Guards, who
demanded military supplies and food, and complained that they were not
relieved. They were sent to the garrison....

"One battalion remained in the trenches for 20 and 30 days, while
others were constantly in reserve.... This carelessness soon killed
any discipline. Courageous men soon determined to rely only on
themselves; others avoided service. In the same way did officers
behave. One would leave his post to go to the help of a neighbor who
was under fire; others went away to the city...." (Lavrov, page 100.)

Such a regime could not remain unpunished; the Commune was drowned in
blood. But in this connection Kautsky has a marvelous solution.

"The waging of war," he says, sagely shaking his head, "is, after all,
not a strong side of the proletariat." (Page 76.)

This aphorism, worthy of Pangloss, is fully on a level with the other
great remark of Kautsky, namely, that the International is not a
suitable weapon to use in wartime, being in its essence an "instrument
of peace."

In these two aphorisms, in reality, may be found the present Kautsky,
complete, in his entirety--_i.e._, just a little over a round

The waging of war, do you see, is on the whole, not a strong side of
the proletariat, the more that the International itself was not
created for wartime. Kautsky's ship was built for lakes and quiet
harbors, not at all for the open sea, and not for a period of storms.
If that ship has sprung a leak, and has begun to fill, and is now
comfortably going to the bottom, we must throw all the blame upon the
storm, the unnecessary mass of water, the extraordinary size of the
waves, and a series of other unforeseen circumstances for which
Kautsky did not build his marvelous instrument.

The international proletariat put before itself as its problem the
conquest of power. Independently of whether civil war, "generally,"
belongs to the inevitable attributes of revolution, "generally," this
fact remains unquestioned--that the advance of the proletariat, at
any rate in Russia, Germany, and parts of former Austro-Hungary, took
the form of an intense civil war not only on internal but also on
external fronts. If the waging of war is not the strong side of the
proletariat, while the workers' International is suited only for
peaceful epochs, then we may as well erect a cross over the revolution
and over Socialism; for the waging of war is a fairly _strong_ side
of the capitalist State, which _without_ a war will not admit the
workers to supremacy. In that case there remains only to proclaim the
so-called "Socialist" democracy to be merely the accompanying feature
of capitalist society and bourgeois parliamentarism--_i.e._, openly to
sanction what the Eberts, Schneidermanns, Renaudels, carry out in
practice and what Kautsky still, it seems, protests against in words.

The waging of war was not a strong side of the Commune. Quite so; that
was why it was crushed. And how mercilessly crushed!

"We have to recall the proscriptions of Sulla, Antony, and Octavius,"
wrote in his time the very moderate liberal, Fiaux, "to meet such
massacres in the history of civilized nations. The religious wars
under the last Valois, the night of St. Bartholomew, the Reign of
Terror were, in comparison with it, child's play. In the last week of
May alone, in Paris, 17,000 corpses of the insurgent Federals were
picked up ... the killing was still going on about June 15."

"The waging of war, after all, is not the strong side of the

It is not true! The Russian workers have shown that they are capable
of wielding the "instrument of war" as well. We see here a gigantic
step forward in comparison with the Commune. It is not a renunciation
of the Commune--for the traditions of the Commune consist not at all
in its helplessness--but the continuation of its work. The Commune was
weak. To complete its work we have become strong. The Commune was
crushed. We are inflicting blow after blow upon the executioners of
the Commune. We are taking vengeance for the Commune, and we shall
avenge it.

                 *       *       *       *       *

Out of 167,000 National Guards who received pay, only twenty or thirty
thousand went into battle. These figures serve as interesting material
for conclusions as to the role of formal democracy in a revolutionary
epoch. The vote of the Paris Commune was decided, not at the
elections, but in the battles with the troops of Thiers. One hundred
and sixty-seven thousand National Guards represented the great mass of
the electorate. But in reality, in the battles, the fate of the
Commune was decided by twenty or thirty thousand persons; the most
devoted fighting minority. This minority did not stand alone: it
simply expressed, in a more courageous and self-sacrificing manner,
the will of the majority. But none the less it was a minority. The
others who hid at the critical moment were not hostile to the Commune;
on the contrary, they actively or passively supported it, but they
were less politically conscious, less decisive. On the arena of
political democracy, their lower level of political consciousness
afforded the possibility of their being deceived by adventurers,
swindlers, middle-class cheats, and honest dullards who really
deceived themselves. But, at the moment of open class war, they, to a
greater or lesser degree, followed the self-sacrificing minority. It
was this that found its expression in the organization of the National
Guard. If the existence of the Commune had been prolonged, this
relationship between the advance guard and the mass of the proletariat
would have grown more and more firm.

The organization which would have been formed and consolidated in the
process of the open struggle, as the organization of the laboring
masses, would have become the organization of their dictatorship--the
Council of Deputies of the armed proletariat.



Kautsky loftily sweeps aside Marx's views on terror, expressed by him
in the _Neue Rheinische Zeitung_--as at that time, do you see, Marx
was still very "young," and consequently his views had not yet had
time to arrive at that condition of complete enfeeblement which is so
clearly to be observed in the case of certain theoreticians in the
seventh decade of their life. As a contrast to the green Marx of
1848-49 (the author of the _Communist Manifesto_!) Kautsky quotes the
mature Marx of the epoch of the Paris Commune--and the latter, under
the pen of Kautsky, loses his great lion's mane, and appears before us
as an extremely respectable reasoner, bowing before the holy places
of democracy, declaiming on the sacredness of human life, and filled
with all due reverence for the political charms of Schneidermann,
Vandervelde, and particularly of his own physical grandson, Jean
Longuet. In a word, Marx, instructed by the experience of life, proves
to be a well-behaved Kautskian.

From the deathless _Civil War in France_, the pages of which have been
filled with a new and intense life in our own epoch, Kautsky has
quoted only those lines in which the mighty theoretician of the social
revolution contrasted the generosity of the Communards with the
bourgeois ferocity of the Versaillese. Kautsky has devastated these
lines and made them commonplace. Marx, as the preacher of detached
humanity, as the apostle of general love of mankind! Just as if we
were talking about Buddha or Leo Tolstoy.... It is more than natural
that, against the international campaign which represented the
Communards as _souteneurs_ and the women of the Commune as
prostitutes, against the vile slanders which attributed to the
conquered fighters ferocious features drawn from the degenerate
imagination of the victorious bourgeoisie, Marx should emphasize and
underline those features of tenderness and nobility which not
infrequently were merely the reverse side of indecision. Marx was
Marx. He was neither an empty pedant, nor, all the more, the legal
defender of the revolution: he combined a scientific analysis of the
Commune with its revolutionary apology. He not only explained and
criticised--he defended and struggled. But, emphasizing the mildness
of the Commune which failed, Marx left no doubt possible concerning
the measures which the Commune ought to have taken in order not to

The author of the _Civil War_ accuses the Central Committee--_i.e._,
the then Council of National Guards' Deputies, of having too soon
given up its place to the elective Commune. Kautsky "does not
understand" the reason for such a reproach. This conscientious
non-understanding is one of the symptoms of Kautsky's mental decline
in connection with questions of the revolution generally. The first
place, according to Marx, ought to have been filled by a purely
fighting organ, a centre of the insurrection and of military
operations against Versailles, and not the organized self-government
of the labor democracy. For the latter the turn would come later.

Marx accuses the Commune of not having at once begun an attack against
the Versailles, and of having entered upon the defensive, which always
appears "more humane," and gives more possibilities of appealing to
moral law and the sacredness of human life, but in conditions of civil
war never leads to victory. Marx, on the other hand, first and
foremost wanted a revolutionary victory. Nowhere, by one word, does he
put forward the principle of democracy as something standing above the
class struggle. On the contrary, with the concentrated contempt of the
revolutionary and the Communist, Marx--not the young editor of the
_Rhine Paper_, but the mature author of _Capital_: our genuine Marx
with the mighty leonine mane, not as yet fallen under the hands of the
hairdressers of the Kautsky school--with what concentrated contempt he
speaks about the "artificial atmosphere of parliamentarism" in which
physical and spiritual dwarfs like Thiers seem giants! The _Civil
War_, after the barren and pedantic pamphlet of Kautsky, acts like
a storm that clears the air.

In spite of Kautsky's slanders, Marx had nothing in common with the
view of democracy as the last, absolute, supreme product of history.
The development of bourgeois society itself, out of which contemporary
democracy grew up, in no way represents that process of gradual
democratization which figured before the war in the dreams of the
greatest Socialist illusionist of democracy--Jean Jaurès--and now in
those of the most learned of pedants, Karl Kautsky. In the empire of
Napoleon III, Marx sees "the only possible form of government in the
epoch in which the bourgeoisie has already lost the possibility of
governing the people, while the working class has not yet acquired
it." In this way, not democracy, but Bonapartism, appears in Marx's
eyes as the final form of bourgeois power. Learned men may say that
Marx was mistaken, as the Bonapartist empire gave way for half a
century to the "Democratic Republic." But Marx was not mistaken. In
essence he was right. The Third Republic has been the period of the
complete decay of democracy. Bonapartism has found in the Stock
Exchange Republic of Poincaré-Clémenceau, a more finished expression
than in the Second Empire. True, the Third Republic was not crowned by
the imperial diadem; but in return there loomed over it the shadow of
the Russian Tsar.

In his estimate of the Commune, Marx carefully avoids using the worn
currency of democratic terminology. "The Commune was," he writes, "not
a parliament, but a working institution, and united in itself both
executive and legislative power." In the first place, Marx puts
forward, not the particular democratic form of the Commune, but its
class essence. The Commune, as is known, abolished the regular army
and the police, and decreed the confiscation of Church property. It
did this in the right of the revolutionary dictatorship of Paris,
without the permission of the general democracy of the State, which at
that moment formally had found a much more "lawful" expression in the
National Assembly of Thiers. But a revolution is not decided by votes.
"The National Assembly," says Marx, "was nothing more nor less than
one of the episodes of that revolution, the true embodiment of which
was, nevertheless, armed Paris." How far this is from formal

"It only required that the Communal order of things," says Marx,
"should be set up in Paris and in the secondary centres, and the old
central government would in the provinces also have yielded to the
_self-government of the producers_." Marx, consequently, sees the
problem of revolutionary Paris, not in appealing from its victory to
the frail will of the Constituent Assembly, but in covering the whole
of France with a centralized organization of Communes, built up not on
the external principles of democracy but on the genuine
self-government of the producers.

Kautsky has cited as an argument against the Soviet Constitution the
indirectness of elections, which contradicts the fixed laws of
bourgeois democracy. Marx characterizes the proposed structure of
labor France in the following words:--"The management of the general
affairs of the village communes of every district was to devolve on
the Assembly of plenipotentiary delegates meeting in the chief town of
the district; while the district assemblies were in turn to send
delegates to the National Assembly sitting in Paris."

Marx, as we can see, was not in the least degree disturbed by the many
degrees of indirect election, in so far as it was a question of the
State organization of the proletariat itself. In the framework of
bourgeois democracy, indirectness of election confuses the demarcation
line of parties and classes; but in the "self-government of the
producers"--_i.e._, in the class proletarian State, indirectness
of election is a question not of politics, but of the technical
requirements of self-government, and within certain limits may present
the same advantages as in the realm of trade union organization.

The Philistines of democracy are indignant at the inequality in
representation of the workers and peasants which, in the Soviet
Constitution, reflects the difference in the revolutionary roles of
the town and the country. Marx writes: "The Commune desired to bring
the rural producers under the intellectual leadership of the central
towns of their districts, and there to secure to them, in the workmen
of the towns, the natural guardians of their interests." The question
was not one of making the peasant equal to the worker on paper, but of
spiritually raising the peasant to the level of the worker. All
questions of the proletarian State Marx decides according to the
revolutionary dynamics of living forces, and not according to the play
of shadows upon the market-place screen of parliamentarism.

In order to reach the last confines of mental collapse, Kautsky denies
the universal authority of the Workers' Councils on the ground that
there is no legal boundary between the proletariat and the
bourgeoisie. In the indeterminate nature of the social divisions
Kautsky sees the source of the arbitrary authority of the Soviet
dictatorship. Marx sees directly the contrary. "The Commune was an
extremely elastic form of the State, while all former forms of
government had suffered from narrowness. Its secret consists in this,
that in its very essence it was the government of the working class,
the result of the struggle between the class of producers and the
class of appropriators, the political form, long sought, under which
there could be accomplished the economic emancipation of labor." The
secret of the Commune consisted in the fact that by its very essence
it was a government of the working class. This secret, explained by
Marx, has remained, for Kautsky, even to this day, a mystery sealed
with seven seals.

The Pharisees of democracy speak with indignation of the repressive
measures of the Soviet Government, of the closing of newspapers, of
arrests and shooting. Marx replies to "the vile abuse of the lackeys
of the Press" and to the reproaches of the "well-intentioned bourgeois
doctrinaries," in connection with the repressive measures of the
Commune in the following words:--"Not satisfied with their open waging
of a most bloodthirsty war against Paris, the Versaillese strove
secretly to gain an entry by corruption and conspiracy. Could the
Commune at such a time _without shamefully betraying its trust_,
have observed the customary forms of liberalism, just as if profound
peace reigned around it? Had the government of the Commune been akin
in spirit to that of Thiers, there would have been no more occasion to
suppress newspapers of the party of order in Paris than there was to
suppress newspapers of the Commune at Versailles." In this way, what
Kautsky demands in the name of the sacred foundations of democracy
Marx brands as a shameful betrayal of trust.

Concerning the destruction of which the Commune is accused, and of
which now the Soviet Government is accused, Marx speaks as of "an
inevitable and comparatively insignificant episode in the titanic
struggle of the new-born order with the old in its collapse."
Destruction and cruelty are inevitable in any war. Only sycophants
can consider them a crime "in the war of the slaves against their
oppressors, _the only just war in history_." (Marx.) Yet our dread
accuser Kautsky, in his whole book, does not breathe a word of the
fact that we are in a condition of perpetual revolutionary
self-defence, that we are waging an intensive war against the
oppressors of the world, the "only just war in history."

Kautsky yet again tears his hair because the Soviet Government, during
the Civil War, has made use of the severe method of taking hostages.
He once again brings forward pointless and dishonest comparisons
between the fierce Soviet Government and the humane Commune. Clear and
definite in this connection sounds the opinion of Marx. "When Thiers,
from the very beginning of the conflict, had enforced the humane
practice of shooting down captured Communards, the Commune, to protect
the lives of those prisoners, _had nothing left for it_ but to
resort to the Prussian custom of taking hostages. The lives of the
hostages had been forfeited over and over again by the continued
shooting of the prisoners on the part of the Versaillese. _How could
their lives be spared any longer_ after the blood-bath with which
MacMahon's Pretorians celebrated their entry into Paris?" How
otherwise we shall ask together with Marx, can one act in conditions
of civil war, when the counter-revolution, occupying a considerable
portion of the national territory, seizes wherever it can the unarmed
workers, their wives, their mothers, and shoots or hangs them: how
otherwise can one act than to seize as hostages the beloved or the
trusted of the bourgeoisie, thus placing the whole bourgeois class
under the Damocles' sword of mutual responsibility?

It would not be difficult to show, day by day through the history of
the civil war, that all the severe measures of the Soviet Government
were forced upon it as measures of revolutionary self-defense. We
shall not here enter into details. But, to give though it be but a
partial criterion for valuing the conditions of the struggle, let us
remind the reader that, at the moment when the White Guards, in
company with their Anglo-French allies, shoot every Communist without
exception who falls into their hands, the Red Army spares all
prisoners without exception, including even officers of high rank.

"Fully grasping its historical task, filled with the heroic decision
to remain equal to that task," Marx wrote, "the working class may
reply with a smile of calm contempt to the vile abuse of the lackeys
of the Press and to the learned patronage of well-intentioned
bourgeois doctrinaires, who utter their ignorant stereotyped
common-places, their characteristic nonsense, with the profound tone of
oracles of scientific immaculateness."

If the well-intentioned bourgeois doctrinaires sometimes appear in the
guise of retired theoreticians of the Second International, this in no
way deprives their characteristic nonsense of the right of remaining




The initiative in the social revolution proved, by the force of
events, to be imposed, not upon the old proletariat of Western Europe,
with its mighty economic and political organization, with its
ponderous traditions of parliamentarism and trade unionism, but upon
the young working-class of a backward country. History, as always,
moved along the line of least resistance. The revolutionary epoch
burst upon us through the least barricaded door. Those extraordinary,
truly superhuman, difficulties which were thus flung upon the Russian
proletariat have prepared, hastened, and to a considerable extent
assisted the revolutionary work of the West European proletariat which
still lies before us.

Instead of examining the Russian Revolution in the light of the
revolutionary epoch that has arrived throughout the world, Kautsky
discusses the theme of whether or no the Russian proletariat has taken
power into its hands too soon.

"For Socialism," he explains, "there is necessary a high development
of the people, a high morale amongst the masses, strongly-developed
social instincts, sentiments of solidarity, etc. Such a form of
morale," Kautsky further informs us, "was very highly developed
amongst the proletariat of the Paris Commune. It is absent amongst the
masses which at the present time set the tone amongst the Bolshevik
proletariat." (Page 177.)

For Kautsky's purpose, it is not sufficient to fling mud at the
Bolsheviks as a political party before the eyes of his readers.
Knowing that Bolshevism has become amalgamated with the Russian
proletariat, Kautsky makes an attempt to fling mud at the Russian
proletariat as a whole, representing it as an ignorant, greedy mass,
without any ideals, which is guided only by the instincts and impulses
of the moment.

Throughout his booklet Kautsky returns many times to the question of
the intellectual and moral level of the Russian workers, and every
time only to deepen his characterization of them as ignorant, stupid
and barbarous. To bring about the most striking contrasts, Kautsky
adduces the example of how a workshop committee in one of the war
industries during the Commune decided upon compulsory night duty in
the works for _one_ worker so that it might be possible to
distribute repaired arms by night. "As under present circumstances it
is absolutely necessary to be extremely economical with the resources
of the Commune," the regulation read, "the night duty will be rendered
without payment...." "Truly," Kautsky concludes, "these working men
did not regard the period of their dictatorship as an opportune moment
for the satisfaction of their personal interests." (Page 90.) Quite
otherwise is the case with the Russian working class. That class has
no intelligence, no stability, no ideals, no steadfastness, no
readiness for self-sacrifice, and so on. "It is just as little capable
of choosing suitable plenipotentiary leaders for itself," Kautsky
jeers, "as Munchausen was able to drag himself from the swamp by means
of his own hair." This comparison of the Russian proletariat with the
impostor Munchausen dragging himself from the swamp is a striking
example of the brazen tone in which Kautsky speaks of the Russian
working class.

He brings extracts from various speeches and articles of ours in which
undesirable phenomena amongst the working class are shown up, and
attempts to represent matters in such a way as if the life of the
Russian proletariat between 1917-20--_i.e._, in the greatest of
revolutionary epochs--is fully described by passivity, ignorance, and

Kautsky, forsooth, does not know, has never heard, cannot guess, may
not imagine, that during the civil war the Russian proletariat had
more than one occasion of freely giving its labour, and even of
establishing "unpaid" guard duties--not of _one_ worker for the
space of _one_ night, but of tens of thousands of workers for the
space of a long series of disturbed nights. In the days and weeks of
Yudenich's advance on Petrograd, one telephonogram of the Soviet was
sufficient to ensure that many thousands of workers should spring to
their posts in all the factories, in all the wards of the city. And
this not in the first days of the Petrograd Commune, but after a two
years' struggle in cold and hunger.

Two or three times a year our party mobilizes a high proportion of its
numbers for the front. Scattered over a distance of 8,000 versts, they
die and teach others to die. And when, in hungry and cold Moscow,
which has given the flower of its workers to the front, a Party Week
is proclaimed, there pour into our ranks from the proletarian masses,
in the space of seven days, 15,000 persons. And at what moment? At the
moment when the danger of the destruction of the Soviet Government had
reached its most acute point. At the moment when Orel had been taken,
and Denikin was approaching Tula and Moscow, when Yudenich was
threatening Petrograd. At that most painful moment, the Moscow
proletariat, in the course of a week, gave to the ranks of our party
15,000 men, who only waited a new mobilization for the front. And it
can be said with certainty that never yet, with the exception of the
week of the November rising in 1917, was the Moscow proletariat so
single-minded in its revolutionary enthusiasm, and in its readiness
for devoted struggle, as in those most difficult days of peril and

When our party proclaimed the watchword of Subbotniks and Voskresniks
(Communist Saturdays and Sundays), the revolutionary idealism of the
proletariat found for itself a striking expression in the shape of
voluntary labor. At first tens and hundreds, later thousands, and now
tens and hundreds of thousands of workers every week give up several
hours of their labor without reward, for the sake of the economic
reconstruction of the country. And this is done by half-starved
people, in torn boots, in dirty linen--because the country has neither
boots nor soap. Such, in reality, is that Bolshevik proletariat to
whom Kautsky recommends a course of self-sacrifice. The facts of the
situation, and their relative importance, will appear still more
vividly before us if we recall that all the egoist, bourgeois,
coarsely selfish elements of the proletariat--all those who avoid
service at the front and in the Subbotniks, who engage in speculation
and in weeks of starvation incite the workers to strikes--all of them
vote at the Soviet elections for the Mensheviks; that is, for the
Russian Kautskies.

Kautsky quotes our words to the effect that, even before the November
Revolution, we clearly realized the defects in education of the
Russian proletariat, but, recognizing the inevitability of the
transference of power to the working class, we considered ourselves
justified in hoping that during the struggle itself, during its
experience, and with the ever-increasing support of the proletariat of
other countries, we should deal adequately with our difficulties, and
be able to guarantee the transition of Russia to the Socialist order.
In this connection, Kautsky asks: "Would Trotsky undertake to get on a
locomotive and set it going, in the conviction that he would during
the journey have time to learn and to arrange everything? One must
preliminarily have acquired the qualities necessary to drive a
locomotive before deciding to set it going. Similarly the proletariat
ought beforehand to have acquired those necessary qualities which make
it capable of administering industry, once it had to take it over."
(Page 173.)

This instructive comparison would have done honor to any village
clergyman. None the less, it is stupid. With infinitely more
foundation one could say: "Will Kautsky dare to mount a horse before
he has learned to sit firmly in the saddle, and to guide the animal in
all its steps?" We have foundations for believing that Kautsky would
not make up his mind to such a dangerous purely Bolshevik experiment.
On the other hand, we fear that, through not risking to mount the
horse, Kautsky would have considerable difficulty in learning the
secrets of riding on horse-back. For the fundamental Bolshevik
prejudice is precisely this: that one learns to ride on horse-back
only when sitting on the horse.

Concerning the driving of the locomotive, this principle is at first
sight not so evident; but none the less it is there. No one yet has
learned to drive a locomotive sitting in his study. One has to get up
on to the engine, to take one's stand in the tender, to take into
one's hands the regulator, and to turn it. True, the engine allows
training manoeuvres only under the guidance of an old driver. The
horse allows of instructions in the riding school only under the
guidance of experienced trainers. But in the sphere of State
administration such artificial conditions cannot be created. The
bourgeoisie does not build for the proletariat academies of State
administration, and does not place at its disposal, for preliminary
practice, the helm of the State. And besides, the workers and peasants
learn even to ride on horse-back not in the riding school, and without
the assistance of trainers.

To this we must add another consideration, perhaps the most important.
No one gives the proletariat the opportunity of choosing whether it
will or will not mount the horse, whether it will take power
immediately or postpone the moment. Under certain conditions the
working class is bound to take power, under the threat of political
self-annihilation for a whole historical period.

Once having taken power, it is impossible to accept one set of
consequences at will and refuse to accept others. If the capitalist
bourgeoisie consciously and malignantly transforms the disorganization
of production into a method of political struggle, with the object of
restoring power to itself, the proletariat is _obliged_ to resort
to Socialization, independently of whether this is beneficial or
otherwise at the _given moment_.

And, once having taken over production, the proletariat is obliged,
under the pressure of iron necessity, to learn by its own experience a
most difficult art--that of organizing Socialist economy. Having
mounted the saddle, the rider is obliged to guide the horse--on the
peril of breaking his neck.

                 *       *       *       *       *

To give his high-souled supporters, male and female, a complete
picture of the moral level of the Russian proletariat, Kautsky
adduces, on page 172 of his book, the following mandate, issued,
it is alleged, by the Murzilovka Soviet: "The Soviet hereby
empowers Comrade Gregory Sareiev, in accordance with his choice and
instructions, to requisition and lead to the barracks, for the use of
the Artillery Division stationed in Murzilovka, Briansk County, sixty
women and girls from the bourgeois and speculating class, September
16, 1918." (_What are the Bolshevists doing?_ Published by Dr. Nath.
Wintch-Malejeff. Lausanne, 1919. Page 10.)

Without having the least doubt of the forged character of this
document and the lying nature of the whole communication, I gave
instructions, however, that careful inquiry should be made, in order
to discover what facts and episodes lay at the root of this invention.
A carefully carried out investigation showed the following:--

(1) In the Briansk County there is absolutely no village by the name
of Murzilovka. There is no such village in the neighboring counties
either. The most similar in name is the village of Muraviovka, Briansk
County; but no artillery division has ever been stationed there, and
altogether nothing ever took place which might be in any way connected
with the above "document."

(2) The investigation was also carried on along the line of the
artillery units. Absolutely nowhere were we able to discover even an
indirect allusion to a fact similar to that adduced by Kautsky from
the words of his inspirer.

(3) Finally the investigation dealt with the question of whether there
had been any rumors of this kind on the spot. Here, too, absolutely
nothing was discovered; and no wonder. The very contents of the
forgery are in too brutal a contrast with the morals and public
opinion of the foremost workers and peasants who direct the work of
the Soviets, even in the most backward regions.

In this way, the document must be described as a pitiful forgery,
which might be circulated only by the most malignant sycophants in the
most yellow of the gutter press.

While the investigation described above was going on, Comrade
Zinovieff showed me a number of a Swedish paper (_Svenska Dagbladet_)
of November 9, 1919, in which was printed the facsimile of a mandate
running as follows:--

"_Mandate._ The bearer of this, Comrade Karaseiev, has the right
of socializing in the town of Ekaterinodar (obliterated) girls aged
from 16 to 36 at his pleasure.--GLAVKOM IVASHCHEFF."

This document is even more stupid and impudent than that quoted by
Kautsky. The town of Ekaterinodar--the centre of the Kuban--was, as is
well known, for only a very short time in the hands of the Soviet
Government. Apparently the author of the forgery, not very well up in
his revolutionary chronology, rubbed out the date on this document,
lest by some chance it should appear that "Glavkom Ivashcheff"
socialized the Ekaterinodar women during the reign of Denikin's
militarism there. That the document might lead into error the
thick-witted Swedish bourgeois is not at all amazing. But for the
Russian reader it is only too clear that the document is not merely a
forgery, but drawn up by a _foreigner, dictionary in hand_. It is
extremely curious that the names of both the socializers of women,
"Gregory Sareiev" and "Karaseiev" sound absolutely non-Russia. The
ending "eiev" in Russian names is found rarely, and only in definite
combinations. But the accuser of the Bolsheviks himself, the author of
the English pamphlet on whom Kautsky bases his evidence, has a name
that does actually end in "eiev." It seems obvious that this
Anglo-Bulgarian police agent, sitting in Lausanne, creates socializers
of women, in the fullest sense of the word, after his own likeness and

Kautsky, at any rate, has original inspirers and assistants!


The Soviets, as a form of the organization of the working class,
represents for Kautsky, "in relation to the party and professional
organizations of more developed countries, not a higher form of
organization, but first and foremost a substitute (Notbehelf), arising
out of the absence of political organizations." (Page 68.)

Let us grant that this is true in connection with Russia. But then,
why have Soviets sprung up in Germany? Ought one not absolutely to
repudiate them in the Ebert Republic? We note, however, that
Hilferding, the nearest sympathizer of Kautsky, proposes to include
the Soviets in the Constitution. Kautsky is silent.

The estimate of Soviets as a "primitive" organization is true to the
extent that the open revolutionary struggle is "more primitive" than
parliamentarism. But the artificial complexity of the latter embraces
only the upper strata, insignificant in their size. On the other hand,
revolution is only possible where the masses have their vital
interests at stake. The November Revolution raised on to their feet
such deep layers as the pre-revolutionary Social-Democracy could not
even dream of. However wide were the organizations of the party and
the trade unions in Germany, the revolution immediately proved
incomparably wider than they. The revolutionary masses found their
direct representation in the most simple and generally comprehensive
delegate organization--in the Soviet. One may admit that the Council
of Deputies falls behind both the party and the trade union in the
sense of the clearness of its programme, or the exactness of its
organization. But it is far and away in front of the party and the
trade unions in the size of the masses drawn by it into the organized
struggle; and this superiority in quality gives the Soviet undeniable
revolutionary preponderance.

The Soviet embraces workers of all undertakings, of all professions,
of all stages of cultural development, all stages of political
consciousness--and thereby objectively is forced to formulate the
general interests of the proletariat.

The _Communist Manifesto_ viewed the problem of the Communist just
in this sense--namely, the formulating of the general historical
interests of the working class as a whole.

"The Communists are only distinguished from other proletarian
parties," in the words of the _Manifesto_, "by this: that in the
different national struggles of the proletariat they point out, and
bring to the fore, the common interests of the proletariat,
independently of nationality; and again that, in the different stages
of evolution through which the struggle between the proletariat and
bourgeoisie passes, they constantly represent the interests of the
movement taken as a whole."

In the form of the all-embracing class organization of the Soviets,
the movement takes itself "as a whole." Hence it is clear why the
Communists could and had to become the guiding party in the Soviets.
But hence also is seen all the narrowness of the estimate of Soviets
as "substitutes for the party" (Kautsky), and all the stupidity of the
attempt to include the Soviets, in the form of an auxiliary lever, in
the mechanism of bourgeois democracy. (Hilferding.)

The Soviets are the organization of the proletarian revolution, and
have purpose either as an organ of the struggle for power or as the
apparatus of power of the working class.

Unable to grasp the revolutionary role of the Soviets, Kautsky sees
their root defects in that which constitutes their greatest merit.
"The demarcation of the bourgeois from the worker," he writes, "can
never be actually drawn. There will always be something arbitrary in
such demarcation, which fact transforms the Soviet idea into a
particularly suitable foundation for dictatorial and arbitrary rule,
but renders it unfitted for the creation of a clear, systematically
built-up constitution." (Page 170.)

Class dictatorship, according to Kautsky, cannot create for itself
institutions answering to its nature, because there do not exist lines
of demarcation between the classes. But in that case, what happens to
the class struggle altogether? Surely it was just, in the existence of
numerous transitional stages between the bourgeoisie and the
proletariat, that the lower middle-class theoreticians always found
their principal argument against the "principle" of the class
struggle? For Kautsky, however, doubts as to principle begin just at
the point where the proletariat, having overcome the shapelessness and
unsteadiness of the intermediate class, having brought one part of
them over to its side and thrown the remainder into the camp of the
bourgeoisie, has actually organized its dictatorship in the Soviet

The very reason why the Soviets an absolutely irreplaceable apparatus
in the proletarian State is that their framework is elastic and
yielding, with the result that not only social but political changes
in the relationship of classes and sections can immediately find their
expression in the Soviet apparatus. Beginning with the largest
factories and works, the Soviets then draw into their organization the
workers of private workshops and shop-assistants, proceed to enter the
village, organize the peasants against the landowners, and finally the
lower and middle-class sections of the peasantry against the richest.

The Labor State collects numerous staffs of employees, to a
considerable extent from the ranks of the bourgeoisie and the
bourgeois educated classes. To the extent that they become disciplined
under the Soviet regime, they find representation in the Soviet
system. Expanding--and at certain moments contracting--in harmony with
the expansion and contraction of the social positions conquered by the
proletariat, the Soviet system remains the State apparatus of the
social revolution, in its internal dynamics, its ebbs and flows, its
mistakes and successes. With the final triumph of the social
revolution, the Soviet system will expand and include the whole
population, in order thereby to lose the characteristics of a form of
State, and melt away into a mighty system of producing and consuming

If the party and the trade unions were organizations of preparation
for the revolution, the Soviets are the weapon of the revolution
itself. After its victory, the Soviets become the organs of power. The
role of the party and the unions, without decreasing is nevertheless
essentially altered.

In the hands of the party is concentrated the general control. It does
not immediately administer, since its apparatus is not adapted for
this purpose. But it has the final word in all fundamental questions.
Further, our practice has led to the result that, in all moot
questions, generally--conflicts between departments and personal
conflicts within departments--the last word belongs to the Central
Committee of the party. This affords extreme economy of time and
energy, and in the most difficult and complicated circumstances gives
a guarantee for the necessary unity of action. Such a regime is
possible only in the presence of the unquestioned authority of the
party, and the faultlessness of its discipline. Happily for the
revolution, our party does possess in an equal measure both of these
qualities. Whether in other countries which have not received from
their past a strong revolutionary organization, with a great hardening
in conflict, there will be created just as authoritative a Communist
Party by the time of the proletarian revolution, it is difficult to
foretell; but it is quite obvious that on this question, to a very
large extent, depends the progress of the Socialist revolution in each

The exclusive role of the Communist Party under the conditions of a
victorious proletarian revolution is quite comprehensible. The
question is of the dictatorship of a class. In the composition of that
class there enter various elements, heterogeneous moods, different
levels of development. Yet the dictatorship pre-supposes unity of
will, unity of direction, unity of action. By what other path then can
it be attained? The revolutionary supremacy of the proletariat
pre-supposes within the proletariat itself the political supremacy of
a party, with a clear programme of action and a faultless internal

The policy of coalitions contradicts internally the regime of the
revolutionary dictatorship. We have in view, not coalitions with
bourgeois parties, of which of course there can be no talk, but a
coalition of Communists with other "Socialist" organizations,
representing different stages of backwardness and prejudice of the
laboring masses.

The revolution swiftly reveals all that is unstable, wears out all
that is artificial; the contradictions glossed over in a coalition are
swiftly revealed under the pressure of revolutionary events. We have
had an example of this in Hungary, where the dictatorship of the
proletariat assumed the political form of the coalition of the
Communists with disguised Opportunists. The coalition soon broke up.
The Communist Party paid heavily for the revolutionary instability and
the political treachery of its companions. It is quite obvious that
for the Hungarian Communists it would have been more profitable to
have come to power later, after having afforded to the Left
Opportunists the possibility of compromising themselves once and for
all. It is quite another question as to how far this was possible. In
any case, a coalition with the Opportunists, only temporarily hiding
the relative weakness of the Hungarian Communists, at the same time
prevented them from growing stronger at the expense of the
Opportunists; and brought them to disaster.

The same idea is sufficiently illustrated by the example of the
Russian revolution. The coalition of the Bolsheviks with the Left
Socialist Revolutionists, which lasted for several months, ended with
a bloody conflict. True, the reckoning for the coalition had to be
paid, not so much by us Communists as by our disloyal companions.
Apparently, such a coalition, in which we were the stronger side and,
therefore, were not taking too many risks in the attempt, at one
definite stage in history, to make use of the extreme Left-wing of the
bourgeois democracy, tactically must be completely justified. But,
none the less, the Left S.R. episode quite clearly shows that the
regime of compromises, agreements, mutual concessions--for that is the
meaning of the regime of coalition--cannot last long in an epoch in
which situations alter with extreme rapidity, and in which supreme
unity in point of view is necessary in order to render possible unity
of action.

We have more than once been accused of having substituted for the
dictatorship of the Soviets the dictatorship of our party. Yet it can
be said with complete justice that the dictatorship of the Soviets
became possible only by means of the dictatorship of the party. It is
thanks to the clarity of its theoretical vision and its strong
revolutionary organization that the party has afforded to the Soviets
the possibility of becoming transformed from shapeless parliaments of
labor into the apparatus of the supremacy of labor. In this
"substitution" of the power of the party for the power of the working
class there is nothing accidental, and in reality there is no
substitution at all. The Communists express the fundamental interests
of the working class. It is quite natural that, in the period in which
history brings up those interests, in all their magnitude, on to the
order of the day, the Communists have become the recognized
representatives of the working class as a whole.

But where is your guarantee, certain wise men ask us, that it is just
your party that expresses the interests of historical development?
Destroying or driving underground the other parties, you have thereby
prevented their political competition with you, and consequently you
have deprived yourselves of the possibility of testing your line of

This idea is dictated by a purely liberal conception of the course of
the revolution. In a period in which all antagonisms assume an open
character, and the political struggle swiftly passes into a civil war,
the ruling party has sufficient material standard by which to test its
line of action, without the possible circulation of Menshevik papers.
Noske crushes the Communists, but they grow. We have suppressed the
Mensheviks and the S.R.s--and they have disappeared. This criterion is
sufficient for us. At all events, our problem is not at every given
moment statistically to measure the grouping of tendencies; but to
render victory for our tendency secure. For that tendency is the
tendency of the revolutionary dictatorship; and in the course of the
latter, in its internal friction, we must find a sufficient criterion
for self-examination.

The continuous "independence" of the trade union movement, in the
period of the proletarian revolution, is just as much an impossibility
as the policy of coalition. The trade unions become the most important
economic organs of the proletariat in power. Thereby they fall under
the leadership of the Communist Party. Not only questions of principle
in the trade union movement, but serious conflicts of organization
within it, are decided by the Central Committee of our party.

The Kautskians attack the Soviet Government as the dictatorship of a
"section" of the working class. "If only," they say, "the dictatorship
was carried out by the _whole_ class!" It is not easy to understand
what actually they imagine when they say this. The dictatorship of the
proletariat, in its very essence, signifies the immediate supremacy of
the revolutionary vanguard, which relies upon the heavy masses, and,
where necessary, obliges the backward tail to dress by the head. This
refers also to the trade unions. After the conquest of power by the
proletariat, they acquire a compulsory character. They must include
all industrial workers. The party, on the other hand, as before,
includes in its ranks only the most class-conscious and devoted; and
only in a process of careful selection does it widen its ranks. Hence
follows the guiding role of the Communist minority in the trade
unions, which answers to the supremacy of the Communist Party in the
Soviets, and represents the political expression of the dictatorship
of the proletariat.

The trade unions become the direct organizers of social production.
They express not only the interests of the industrial workers, but the
interests of industry itself. During the first period, the old
currents in trade unionism more than once raised their head, urging
the unions to haggle with the Soviet State, lay down conditions for
it, and demand from it guarantees. The further we go, however, the
more do the unions recognize that they are organs of production of the
Soviet State, and assume responsibility for its fortunes--not opposing
themselves to it, but identifying themselves with it. The unions
become the organizers of labor discipline. They demand from the
workers intensive labor under the most difficult conditions, to the
extent that the Labor State is not yet able to alter those conditions.

The unions become the apparatus of revolutionary repression against
undisciplined, anarchical, parasitic elements in the working class.
From the old policy of trade unionism, which at a certain stage is
inseparable from the industrial movement within the framework of
capitalist society, the unions pass along the whole line on to the new
path of the policy of revolutionary Communism.


The Bolsheviks "hoped," Kautsky thunders, "to overcome the substantial
peasants in the villages by granting political rights exclusively to
the poorest peasants. They then again granted representation to the
substantial peasantry." (Page 216.)

Kautsky enumerates the external "contradictions" of our peasant
policy, not dreaming to inquire into its general direction, and into
the internal contradictions visible in the economic and political
situation of the country.

In the Russian peasantry as it entered the Soviet order there were
three elements: the poor, living to a considerable extent by the sale
of their labor-power, and forced to buy additional food for their
requirements; the middle peasants, whose requirements were covered by
the products of their farms, and who were able to a limited extent to
sell their surplus; and the upper layer--_i.e._, the rich peasants,
the vulture (kulak) class, which systematically bought labor-power and
sold their agricultural produce on a large scale. It is quite
unnecessary to point out that these groups are not distinguished by
definite symptoms or by homogeneousness throughout the country.

Still, on the whole, and generally speaking, the peasant poor
represented the natural and undeniable allies of the town proletariat,
whilst the vulture class represented its just as undeniable and
irreconcilable enemies. The most hesitation was principally to be
observed amongst the widest, the _middle_ section of the peasantry.

Had not the country been so exhausted, and if the proletariat had had
the possibility of offering to the peasant masses the necessary
quantity of commodities and cultural requirements, the adaptation of
the toiling majority of the peasantry to the new regime would have
taken place much less painfully. But the economic disorder of the
country, which was not the result of our land or food policy, but was
generated by the causes which preceded the appearance of that policy,
robbed the town for a prolonged period of any possibility of giving
the village the products of the textile and metal-working industries,
imported goods, and so on. At the same time, industry could not
entirely cease drawing from the village all, albeit the smallest
quantity, of its food resources. The proletariat demanded of the
peasantry the granting of food credits, economic subsidies in respect
of values which it is only now about to create. The symbol of those
future values was the credit symbol, now finally deprived of all
value. But the peasant mass is not very capable of historical
detachment. Bound up with the Soviet Government by the abolition of
landlordism, and seeing in it a guarantee against the restoration of
Tsarism, the peasantry at the same time not infrequently opposes the
collection of corn, considering it a bad bargain so long as it does
not itself receive printed calico, nails, and kerosine.

The Soviet Government naturally strove to impose the chief weight of
the food tax upon the upper strata of the village. But, in the
unformed social conditions of the village, the influential peasantry,
accustomed to lead the middle peasants in its train, found scores of
methods of passing on the food tax from itself to the wide masses of
the peasantry, thereby placing them in a position of hostility and
opposition to the Soviet power. It was necessary to awaken in the
lower ranks of the peasantry suspicion and hostility towards the
speculating upper strata. This purpose was served by the Committees of
Poverty. They were built up of the rank and file, of elements who in
the last epoch were oppressed, driven into a dark corner, deprived of
their rights. Of course, in their midst there turned out to be a
certain number of semi-parasitic elements. This served as the chief
text for the demagogues amongst the populist "Socialists," whose
speeches found a grateful echo in the hearts of the village vultures.
But the mere fact of the transference of power to the village poor had
an immeasurable revolutionary significance. For the guidance of the
village semi-proletarians, there were despatched from the towns
parties from amongst the foremost workers, who accomplished invaluable
work in the villages. The Committees of Poverty became shock
battalions against the vulture class. Enjoying the support of the
State, they thereby obliged the middle section of the peasantry to
choose, not only between the Soviet power and the power of the
landlords, but between the dictatorship of the proletariat and the
semi-proletarian elements of the village on the one hand, and the yoke
of the rich speculators on the other. By a series of lessons, some of
which were very severe, the middle peasantry was obliged to become
convinced that the Soviet regime, which had driven away the landlords
and bailiffs, in its turn imposes new duties upon the peasantry, and
demands sacrifices from them. The political education of tens of
millions of the middle peasantry did not take place as easily and
smoothly as in the school-room, and it did not give immediate and
unquestionable results. There were risings of the middle peasants,
uniting with the speculators, and always in such cases falling under
the leadership of White Guard landlords; there were abuses committed
by local agents of the Soviet Government, particularly by those of the
Committees of Poverty. But the fundamental political end was attained.
The powerful class of rich peasantry, if it was not finally
annihilated, proved to be shaken to its foundations, with its
self-reliance undermined. The middle peasantry, remaining politically
shapeless, just as it is economically shapeless, began to learn to
find its representative in the foremost worker, as before it found it
in the noisy village speculator. Once this fundamental result was
achieved, the Committees of Poverty, as temporary institutions, as a
sharp wedge driven into the village masses, had to yield their place
to the Soviets, in which the village poor are represented side by side
with the middle peasantry.

The Committees of Poverty existed about six months, from June to
December, 1918. In their institution, as in their abolition, Kautsky
sees nothing but the "waverings" of Soviet policy. Yet at the same
time he himself has not even a suspicion of any practical lessons to
be drawn. And after all, how should he think of them? Experience such
as we are acquiring in this respect knows no precedent; and questions
and problems such as the Soviet Government is now solving in practice
have no solution in books. What Kautsky calls contradictions in policy
are, in reality, the _active manoeuvring_ of the proletariat in the
spongy, undivided, peasant mass. The sailing ship has to manoeuvre
before the wind; yet no one will see contradictions in the
manoeuvres which finally bring the ship to harbor.

In questions as to agricultural communes and Soviet farms, there could
also be found not a few "contradictions," in which, side by side with
individual mistakes, there are expressed various stages of the
revolution. What quantity of land shall the Soviet State leave for
itself in the Ukraine, and what quantity shall it hand over to the
peasants; what policy shall it lay down for the agricultural communes;
in what form shall it give them support, so as not to make them the
nursery for parasitism; in what form is control to be organized over
them--all these are absolutely new problems of Socialist economic
construction, which have been settled beforehand neither theoretically
nor practically, and in the settling of which the general principles
of our programme have even yet to find their actual application and
their testing in practice, by means of inevitable temporary deviations
to right or left.

But even the very fact that the Russian proletariat has found support
in the peasantry Kautsky turns against us. "This has introduced into
the Soviet regime an economically reactionary element which was spared
(!) the Paris Commune, as its dictatorship did not rely on peasant

As if in reality we could accept the heritage of the feudal and
bourgeois order with the possibility of excluding from it at will "an
economically reactionary element"! Nor is this all. Having poisoned
the Soviet regime by its "reactionary element," the peasantry has
deprived us of its support. To-day it "hates" the Bolsheviks. All this
Kautsky knows very certainly from the radios of Clémenceau and the
squibs of the Mensheviks.

In reality, what is true is that wide masses of the peasantry are
suffering from the absence of the essential products of industry. But
it is just as true that every other regime--and there were not a few
of them, in various parts of Russia, during the last three
years--proved infinitely more oppressive for the shoulders of the
peasantry. Neither monarchical nor democratic governments were able to
increase their stores of manufactured goods. Both of them found
themselves in need of the peasant's corn and the peasant's horses. To
carry out their policy, the bourgeois governments--including the
Kautskian-Menshevik variety--made use of a purely bureaucratic
apparatus, which reckons with the requirements of the peasant's farm
to an infinitely less degree than the Soviet apparatus, which consists
of workers and peasants. As a result, the middle peasant, in spite of
his waverings, his dissatisfaction, and even his risings, ultimately
always comes to the conclusion that, however difficult it is for him
at present under the Bolsheviks, under every other regime it would be
infinitely more difficult for him. It is quite true that the Commune
was "spared" peasant support. But in return the Commune was not spared
annihilation by the peasant armies of Thiers! Whereas our army,
four-fifths of whom are peasants, is fighting with enthusiasm and with
success for the Soviet Republic. And this one fact, controverting
Kautsky and those inspiring him, gives the best possible verdict on
the peasant policy of the Soviet Government.


"The Bolsheviks at first thought they could manage without the
intelligentsia, without the experts," Kautsky narrates to us. (Page
191.) But then, becoming convinced of the necessity of the
intelligentsia, they abandoned their severe repressions, and attempted
to attract them to work by all sorts of measures, incidentally by
giving them extremely high salaries. "In this way," Kautsky says
ironically, "the true path, the true method of attracting experts
consists in first of all giving them a thorough good hiding." ( Page
192.) Quite so. With all due respect to all philistines, the
dictatorship of the proletariat does just consist in "giving a hiding"
to the classes that were previously supreme, before forcing them to
recognize the new order and to submit to it.

The professional intelligentsia, brought up with a prejudice about the
omnipotence of the bourgeoisie, long would not, could not, and did not
believe that the working class is really capable of governing the
country; that it seized power not by accident; and that the
dictatorship of the proletariat is an insurmountable fact.
Consequently, the bourgeois intelligentsia treated its duties to the
Labor State extremely lightly, even when it entered its service; and
it considered that to receive money from Wilson, Clémenceau or Mirbach
for anti-Soviet agitation, or to hand over military secrets and
technical resources to White Guards and foreign imperialists, is a
quite natural and obvious course under the regime of the proletariat.
It became necessary to show it in practice, and to show it severely,
that the proletariat had not seized power in order to allow such jokes
to be played off at its expense.

In the severe penalties adopted in the case of the intelligentsia, our
bourgeois idealist sees the "consequence of a policy which strove to
attract the educated classes, not by means of persuasion, but by means
of kicks from before and behind." (Page 193.) In this way, Kautsky
seriously imagines that it is possible to attract the bourgeois
intelligentsia to the work of Socialist construction by means of mere
persuasion--and this in conditions when, in all other countries, there
is still supreme the bourgeoisie which hesitates at no methods of
terrifying, flattering, or buying over the Russian intelligentsia and
making it a weapon for the transformation of Russia into a colony of

Instead of analyzing the course of the struggle, Kautsky, when dealing
with the intelligentsia, gives once again merely academical recipes.
It is absolutely false that our party had the idea of managing without
the intelligentsia, not realizing to the full its importance for the
economic and cultural work that lay before us. On the contrary. When
the struggle for the conquest and consolidation of power was in full
blast, and the majority of the intelligentsia was playing the part of
a shock battalion of the bourgeoisie, fighting against us openly or
sabotaging our institutions, the Soviet power fought mercilessly with
the experts, precisely because it knew their enormous importance from
the point of view of organization so long as they do not attempt to
carry on an independent "democratic" policy and execute the orders of
one of the fundamental classes of society. Only after the opposition
of the intelligentsia had been broken by a severe struggle did the
possibility open before us of enlisting the assistance of the experts.
We immediately entered that path. It proved not as simple as it might
have seemed at first. The relations which existed under capitalist
conditions between the working man and the director, the clerk and the
manager, the soldier and the officer, left behind a very deep class
distrust of the experts; and that distrust had become still more acute
during the first period of the civil war, when the intelligentsia did
its utmost to break the labor revolution by hunger and cold. It was
not easy to outlive this frame of mind, and to pass from the first
violent antagonism to peaceful collaboration. The laboring masses had
gradually to become accustomed to see in the engineer, the
agricultural expert, the officer, not the oppressor of yesterday but
the useful worker of to-day--a necessary expert, entirely under the
orders of the Workers' and Peasants' Government.

We have already said that Kautsky is wrong when he attributes to the
Soviet Government the desire to replace experts by proletarians. But
that such a desire was bound to spring up in wide circles of the
proletariat cannot be denied. A young class which had proved to its
own satisfaction that it was capable of overcoming the greatest
obstacles in its path, which had torn to pieces the veil of mystery
which had hitherto surrounded the power of the propertied classes,
which had realized that all good things on the earth were not the
direct gift of heaven--that a revolutionary class was naturally
inclined, in the person of the less mature of its elements, at first
to over-estimate its capacity for solving each and every problem,
without having recourse to the aid of experts educated by the

It was not merely yesterday that we began the struggle with such
tendencies, in so far as they assumed a definite character. "To-day,
when the power of the Soviets has been set on a firm footing," we said
at the Moscow City Conference on March 28, 1918, "the struggle with
sabotage must express itself in the form of transforming the saboteurs
of yesterday into the servants, executive officials, technical guides,
of the new regime, wherever it requires them. If we do not grapple
with this, if we do not attract all the forces necessary to us and
enlist them in the Soviet service, our struggle of yesterday with
sabotage would thereby be condemned as an absolutely vain and
fruitless struggle.

"Just as in dead machines, so into those technical experts, engineers,
doctors, teachers, former officers, there is sunk a certain portion of
our national capital, which we are obliged to exploit and utilize if
we want to solve the root problems standing before us.

"Democratization does not at all consist--as every Marxist learns in
his A B C--in abolishing the meaning of skilled forces, the meaning of
persons possessing special knowledge, and in replacing them everywhere
and anywhere by elective boards.

"Elective boards, consisting of the best representatives of the
working class, but not equipped with the necessary technical
knowledge, cannot replace one expert who has passed through the
technical school, and who knows how to carry out the given technical
work. That flood-tide of the collegiate principle which is at present
to be observed in all spheres is the quite natural reaction of a
young, revolutionary, only yesterday oppressed class, which is
throwing out the one-man principle of its rulers of yesterday--the
landlords and the generals--and everywhere is appointing its elected
representatives. This, I say, is quite a natural and, in its origin,
quite a healthy revolutionary reaction; but it is not the last word in
the economic constructive work of the proletatarian proletarian class.

"The next step must consist in the self-limitation of the collegiate
principle, in a healthy and necessary act of self-limitation by the
working class, which knows where the decisive word can be spoken by
the elected representatives of the workers themselves, and where it is
necessary to give way to a technical specialist, who is equipped with
certain knowledge, on whom a great measure of responsibility must be
laid, and who must be kept under careful political control. But it is
necessary to allow the expert freedom to act, freedom to create;
because no expert, be he ever so little gifted or capable, can work in
his department when subordinate in his own technical work to a board
of men who do not know that department. Political, collegiate and
Soviet control everywhere and anywhere; but for the executive
functions, we must appoint technical experts, put them in responsible
positions, and impose responsibility upon them.

"Those who fear this are quite unconsciously adopting an attitude of
profound internal distrust towards the Soviet regime. Those who think
that the enlisting of the saboteurs of yesterday in the administration
of technically expert posts threatens the very foundations of the
Soviet regime, do not realize that it is not through the work of some
engineer or of some general of yesterday that the Soviet regime may
stumble--in the political, in the revolutionary, in the military
sense, the Soviet regime is unconquerable. But it may stumble through
its own incapacity to grapple with the problems of creative
organization. The Soviet regime is bound to draw from the old
institutions all that was vital and valuable in them, and harness it
on to the new work. If, comrades, we do not accomplish this, we shall
not deal successfully with our principal problems; for it would be
absolutely impossible for us to bring forth from our masses, in the
shortest possible time, all the necessary experts, and throw aside all
that was accumulated in the past.

"As a matter of fact, it would be just the same as if we said that all
the machines which hitherto had served to exploit the workers were now
to be thrown aside. It would be madness. The enlisting of scientific
experts is for us just as essential as the administration of the
resources of production and transport, and all the wealth of the
country generally. We must, and in addition we must immediately, bring
under our control all the technical experts we possess, and introduce
in practice for them the principle of compulsory labor; at the same
time leaving them a wide margin of activity, and maintaining over them
careful political control."[7]

          [7] Labor, Discipline, and Order will save the Socialist
          Soviet Republic (Moscow, 1918). Kautsky knows this pamphlet,
          as he quotes from it several times. This, however, does not
          prevent him passing over the passage quoted above, which
          makes clear the attitude of the Soviet Government to the

The question of experts was particularly acute, from the very
beginning, in the War Department. Here, under the pressure of iron
necessity, it was solved first.

In the sphere of administration of industry and transport, the
necessary forms of organization are very far from being attained, even
to this day. We must seek the reason in the fact that during the first
two years we were obliged to sacrifice the interests of industry and
transport to the requirements of military defence. The extremely
changeable course of the civil war, in its turn, threw obstacles in
the way of the establishment of regular relations with the experts.
Qualified technicians of industry and transport, doctors, teachers,
professors, either went away with the retreating armies of Kolchak and
Denikin, or were compulsorily evacuated by them.

Only now, when the civil war is approaching its conclusion, is the
intelligentsia in its mass making its peace with the Soviet
Government, or bowing before it. Economic problems have acquired
first-class importance. One of the most important amongst them is the
problem of the scientific organization of production. Before the
experts there opens a boundless field of activity. They are being
accorded the independence necessary for creative work. The general
control of industry on a national scale is concentrated in the hands
of the Party of the proletariat.


"The Bolsheviks," Kautsky mediates, "acquired the force necessary for
the seizure of political power through the fact that, amongst the
political parties in Russia, they were the most energetic in their
demands for peace--peace at any price, a separate peace--without
interesting themselves as to the influence this would have on the
general international situation, as to whether this would assist the
victory and world domination of the German military monarchy, under
the protection of which they remained for a long time, just like
Indian or Irish rebels or Italian anarchists." (Page 53.)

Of the reasons for our victory, Kautsky knows only the one that we
stood for peace. He does not explain the Soviet Government has
continued to exist now that it has again mobilized a most important
proportion of the soldiers of the imperial army, in order for two
years successfully to combat its political enemies.

The watchword of peace undoubtedly played an enormous part in our
struggle; but precisely because it was directed against the
_imperialist_ war. The idea of peace was supported most strongly
of all, not by the tired soldiers, but by the foremost workers, for
whom it had the import, not for a rest, but of a pitiless struggle
against the exploiters. It was those same workers who, under the
watchword of peace, later laid down their lives on the Soviet fronts.

The affirmation that we demanded peace without reckoning on the effect
it would have on the international situation is a belated echo of
Cadet and Menshevik slanders. The comparison of us with the
Germanophile nationalists of India and Ireland seeks its justification
in the fact that German imperialism did actually _attempt_ to
make use of us as it did the Indians and the Irish. But the
chauvinists of France spared no efforts to make use of Liebknecht and
Luxemburg--even of Kautsky and Bernstein--in their own interests. The
whole question is, did we allow ourselves to be utilized? Did we, by
our conduct, give the European workers even the shadow of a ground to
place us in the same category as German imperialism? It is sufficient
to remember the course of the Brest negotiations, their breakdown, and
the German advance of February, 1918, to reveal all the cynicism of
Kautsky's accusation. In reality, there was no peace for a single day
between ourselves and German imperialism. On the Ukrainian and
Caucasian fronts, we, in the measure of our then extremely feeble
energies, continued to wage war without openly calling it such. We
were too weak to organize war along the whole Russo-German front. We
maintained persistently the fiction of peace, utilizing the fact that
the chief German forces were drawn away to the west. If German
imperialism did prove sufficiently powerful, in 1917-18, to impose
upon us the Brest Peace, after all our efforts to tear that noose from
our necks, one of the principal reasons was the disgraceful behavior
of the German Social-Democratic Party, of which Kautsky remained an
integral and essential part. The Brest Peace was pre-determined on
August 4, 1914. At that moment, Kautsky not only did not declare war
against German militarism, as he later demanded from the Soviet
Government, which was in 1918 still powerless from a military point of
view; Kautsky actually proposed voting for the War Credits, "under
certain conditions"; and generally behaved in such a way that for
months it was impossible to discover whether he stood for the War or
against it. And this political coward, who at the decisive moment gave
up the principal positions of Socialism, dares to accuse us of having
found ourselves obliged, at a certain moment, to retreat--not in
principle, but materially. And why? Because we were betrayed by the
German Social-Democracy, corrupted by Kautskianism--_i.e._, by
political prostitution disguised by theories.

We did concern ourselves with the international situation! In reality,
we had a much more profound criterion by which to judge the
international situation; and it did not deceive us. Already before the
February Revolution the Russian Army no longer existed as a fighting
force. Its final collapse was pre-determined. If the February
Revolution had not taken place, Tsarism would have come to an
agreement with the German monarchy. But the February Revolution which
prevented that finally destroyed the army built on a monarchist basis,
precisely because it was a revolution. A month sooner or later the
army was bound to fall to pieces. The military policy of Kerensky was
the policy of an ostrich. He closed his eyes to the decomposition of
the army, talked sounding phrases, and uttered verbal threats against
German imperialism.

In such conditions, we had only one way out: to take our stand on the
platform of peace, as the inevitable conclusion from the military
powerlessness of the revolution, and to transform that watchword into
the weapon of revolutionary influence on all the peoples of Europe.
That is, instead of, together with Kerensky, peacefully awaiting the
final military catastrophe--which might bury the revolution in its
ruins--we proposed to take possession of the watchword of peace and to
lead after it the proletariat of Europe--and first and foremost the
workers of Austro-Germany. It was in the light of this view that we
carried on our peace negotiations with the Central Empires, and it was
in the light of this that we drew up our Notes to the governments of
the Entente. We drew out the negotiations as long as we could, in
order to give the European working masses the possibility of realizing
the meaning of the Soviet Government and its policy. The January
strike of 1918 in Germany and Austria showed that our efforts had not
been in vain. That strike was the first serious premonition of the
German Revolution. The German Imperialists understood then that it was
just we who represented for them a deadly danger. This is very
strikingly shown in Ludendorff's book. True, they could not risk any
longer coming out against us in an open crusade. But wherever they
could fight against us secretly deceiving the German workers with the
help of the German Social-Democracy, they did so; in the Ukraine, on
the Don, in the Caucasus. In Central Russia, in Moscow, Count Mirbach
from the very first day of his arrival stood as the centre of
counter-revolutionary plots against the Soviet Government--just as
Comrade Yoffe in Berlin was in the closest possible touch with the
revolution. The Extreme Left group of the German revolutionary
movement, the party of Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg, all the
time went hand in hand with us. The German revolution at once took on
the form of Soviets, and the German proletariat, in spite of the Brest
Peace, did not for a moment entertain any doubts as to whether we were
with Liebknecht or Ludendorff. In his evidence before the Reichstag
Commission in November, 1919, Ludendorff explained how "the High
Command demanded the creation of an institution with the object of
disclosing the connection of revolutionary tendencies in Germany with
Russia. Yoffe arrived in Berlin, and in various towns there were set
up Russian consulates. This had the most painful consequences in the
army and navy." Kautsky, however, has the audacity to write that "if
matters did come to a German revolution, truly it is not the
Bolsheviks who are responsible for it." (Page 162.)

Even if we had had the possibility in 1917-18, by means of
revolutionary abstention, of supporting the old Imperial Army instead
of hastening its destruction, we should have merely been assisting the
Entente, and would have covered up by our aid its brigands' peace with
Germany, Austria, and all the countries of the world generally. With
such a policy we should at the decisive moment have proved absolutely
disarmed in the face of the Entente--still more disarmed than Germany
is to-day. Whereas, thanks to the November Revolution and the Brest
Peace we are to-day the only country which opposes the Entente rifle
in hand. By our international policy, we not only did not assist the
Hohenzollern to assume a position of world domination; on the
contrary, by our November Revolution we did more than anyone else to
prepare his overthrow. At the same time, we gained a military
breathing-space, in the course of which we created a large and strong
army, the first army of the proletariat in history, with which to-day
not all the unleashed hounds of the Entente can cope.

The most critical moment in our international situation arose in the
autumn of 1918, after the destruction of the German armies. In the
place of two mighty camps, more or less neutralizing each other, there
stood before us the victorious Entente, at the summit of its world
power, and there lay broken Germany, whose Junker blackguards would
have considered it a happiness and an honor to spring at the throat of
the Russian proletariat for a bone from the kitchen of Clemenceau. We
proposed peace to the Entente, and were again ready--for we were
obliged--to sign the most painful conditions. But Clemenceau, in whose
imperialist rapacity there have remained in their full force all the
characteristics of lower-middle-class thick-headedness, refused the
Junkers their bone, and at the same time decided at all costs to
decorate the Invalides with the scalps of the leaders of the Soviet
Republic. By this policy Clemenceau did us not a small service. We
defended ourselves successfully, and held out.

What, then, was the guiding principle of our external policy, once the
first months of existence of the Soviet Government had made clear the
considerable vitality as yet of the capitalist governments of Europe?
Just that which Kautsky accepts to-day uncomprehendingly as an
accidental result--_to hold out_!

We realized too clearly that the very fact of the existence of the
Soviet Government is an event of the greatest revolutionary
importance; and this realization dictated to us our concessions and
our temporary retirements--not in principle but in practical
conclusions from a sober estimate of our own forces. We retreated like
an army which gives up to the enemy a town, and even a fortress, in
order, having retreated, to concentrate its forces not only for
defence but for an advance. We retreated like strikers amongst whom
to-day energies and resources have been exhausted, but who, clenching
their teeth, are preparing for a new struggle. If we were not filled
with an unconquerable belief in the world significance of the Soviet
dictatorship, we should not have accepted the most painful sacrifices
at Brest-Litovsk. If our faith had proved to be contradicted by the
actual course of events, the Brest Peace would have gone down to
history as the futile capitulation of a doomed regime. That is how the
situation was judged _then_, not only by the Kühlmanns, but also
by the Kautskies of all countries. But we proved right in our
estimate, as of our weakness then, so of our strength in the future.
The existence of the Ebert Republic, with its universal suffrage, its
parliamentary swindling, its "freedom" of the Press, and its murder of
labor leaders, is merely a necessary link in the historical chain of
slavery and scoundrelism. The existence of the Soviet Government is a
fact of immeasurable revolutionary significance. It was necessary to
retain it, utilizing the conflict of the capitalist nations, the as
yet unfinished imperialist war, the self-confident effrontery of the
Hohenzollern bands, the thick-wittedness of the world-bourgeoisie as
far as the fundamental questions of the revolution were concerned, the
antagonism of America and Europe, the complication of relations within
the Entente. We had to lead our yet unfinished Soviet ship over the
stormy waves, amid rocks and reefs, completing its building and
armament en route.

Kautsky has the audacity to repeat the accusation that we did not, at
the beginning of 1918, hurl ourselves unarmed against our mighty foe.
Had we done this we would have been crushed.[8] The first great
attempt of the proletariat to seize power would have suffered defeat.
The revolutionary wing of the European proletariat would have been
dealt the severest possible blow. The Entente would have made peace
with the Hohenzollern over the corpse of the Russian Revolution, and
the world capitalist reaction would have received a respite for a
number of years. When Kautsky says that, concluding the Brest Peace,
we did not think of its influence on the fate of the German
Revolution, he is uttering a disgraceful slander. We considered the
question from all sides, and our _sole criterion_ was the interests of
the international revolution.

          [8] The Vienna Arbeiterzeitung opposes, as is fitting, the
          wise Russian Communists to the foolish Austrians. "Did not
          Trotsky," the paper writes, "with a clear view and
          understanding of possibilities, sign the Brest-Litovsk peace
          of violence, notwithstanding that it served for the
          consolidation of German imperialism? The Brest Peace was
          just as harsh and shameful as is the Versailles Peace. But
          does this mean that Trotsky had to be rash enough to
          continue the war against Germany? Would not the fate of the
          Russian Revolution long ago have been sealed? Trotsky bowed
          before the unalterable necessity of signing the shameful
          treaty in anticipation of the German revolution." The honor
          of having foreseen all the consequences of the Brest Peace
          belongs to Lenin. But this, of course, alters nothing in the
          argument of the organ of the Viennese Kautskians.

We came to the conclusion that those interests demanded that the only
Soviet Government in the world should be preserved. And we proved
right. Whereas Kautsky awaited our fall, if not with impatience, at
least with certainty; and on this expected fall built up his whole
international policy.

The minutes of the session of the Coalition Government of November 19,
1918, published by the Bauer Ministry, run:--"First, a continuation of
the discussion as to the relations of Germany and the Soviet Republic.
Haase advises a policy of procrastination. Kautsky agrees with Haase:
_decision must be postponed_. _The Soviet Government will not last
long. It will inevitably fall in the course of a few weeks_...."

In this way, at the time when the situation of the Soviet Government
was really extremely difficult--for the destruction of German
militarism had given the Entente, it seemed, the full possibility of
finishing with us "in the course of a few weeks"--at that moment
Kautsky not only does not hasten to our aid, and even does not merely
wash his hands of the whole affair; he participates in active
treachery against revolutionary Russia. To aid Scheidemann in his role
of _watch-dog_ of the bourgeoisie, instead of the "programme" role
assigned to him of its "_grave-digger_," Kautsky himself hastens
to become the grave-digger of the Soviet Government. But the Soviet
Government is alive. It will outlive all its grave-diggers.




If, in the first period of the Soviet revolution, the principal
accusation of the bourgeois world was directed against our savagery
and blood-thirstiness, later, when that argument, from frequent use,
had become blunted, and had lost its force, we were made responsible
chiefly for the economic disorganization of the country. In harmony
with his present mission, Kautsky methodically translates into the
language of pseudo-Marxism all the bourgeois charges against the
Soviet Government of destroying the industrial life of Russia. The
Bolsheviks began socialization without a plan. They socialized what
was not ready for socialization. The Russian working class,
altogether, is not yet prepared for the administration of industry;
and so on, and so on.

Repeating and combining these accusations, Kautsky, with dull
obstinacy, hides the real cause for our economic disorganization: the
imperialist slaughter, the civil war, and the blockade.

Soviet Russia, from the first months of its existence, found itself
deprived of coal, oil, metal, and cotton. First the Austro-German and
then the Entente imperialisms, with the assistance of the Russian
White Guards, tore away from Soviet Russia the Donetz coal and
metal-working region, the oil districts of the Caucasus, Turkestan
with its cotton, Ural with its richest deposits of metals, Siberia
with its bread and meat. The Donetz area had usually supplied our
industry with 94 per cent. of its coal and 74 per cent. of its crude
ore. The Ural supplied the remaining 20 per cent. of the ore and 4 per
cent. of the coal. Both these regions, during the civil war, were cut
off from us. We were deprived of half a milliard poods of coal
imported from abroad. Simultaneously, we were left without oil: the
oilfields, one and all, passed into the hands of our enemies. One
needs to have a truly brazen forehead to speak, in face of these
facts, of the destructive influence of "premature," "barbarous," etc.,
socialization. An industry which is completely deprived of fuel and
raw materials--whether that industry belongs to a capitalist trust or
to the Labor State, whether its factories be socialized or not--its
chimneys will not smoke in either case without coal or oil. Something
might be learned about this, say, in Austria; and for that matter
in Germany itself. A weaving factory administered according to the
best Kautskian methods--if we admit that anything at all can be
administered by Kautskian methods, except one's own inkstand--will not
produce prints if it is not supplied with cotton. And we were
simultaneously deprived both of Turkestan and American cotton. In
addition, as has been pointed out, we had no fuel.

Of course, the blockade and the civil war came as the result of the
proletarian revolution in Russia. But it does not at all follow from
this that the terrible devastation caused by the Anglo-American-French
blockade and the robber campaigns of Kolchak and Denikin have to be
put down to the discredit of the Soviet methods of economic

The imperialist war that preceded the revolution, with its
all-devouring material and technical demands, imposed a much greater
strain on our young industry than on the industry of more powerful
capitalist countries. Our transport suffered particularly severely.
The exploitation of the railways increased considerably; the wear and
tear correspondingly; while repairs were reduced to a strict minimum.
The inevitable hour of Nemesis was brought nearer by the fuel crisis.
Our almost simultaneous loss of the Donetz coal, foreign coal, and the
oil of the Caucasus, obliged us in the sphere of transport to have
recourse to wood. And, as the supplies of wood fuel were not in the
least calculated with a view to this, we had to stoke our boilers with
recently stored raw wood, which has an extremely destructive effect on
the mechanism of locomotives that are already worn out. We see, in
consequence, that the chief reasons for the collapse of transport
preceded November, 1917. But even those reasons which are directly or
indirectly bound up with the November Revolution fall under the
heading of political consequences of the revolution; and in no
circumstances do they affect Socialist economic methods.

The influence of political disturbances in the economic sphere was not
limited only to questions of transport and fuel. If world industry,
during the last decade, was more and more becoming a single organism,
the more directly does this apply to national industry. On the other
hand, the war and the revolution were mechanically breaking up and
tearing asunder Russian industry in every direction. The industrial
ruin of Poland, the Baltic fringe, and later of Petrograd, began under
Tsarism and continued under Kerensky, embracing ever new and newer
regions. Endless evacuations simultaneous with the destruction of
industry, of necessity meant the destruction of transport also. During
the civil war, with its changing fronts, evacuations assumed a more
feverish and consequently a still more destructive character. Each
side temporarily or permanently evacuated this or that industrial
centre, and took all possible steps to ensure that the most important
industrial enterprises could not be utilized by the enemy: all
valuable machines were carried off, or at any rate their most delicate
parts, together with the technical and best workers. The evacuation
was followed by a re-evacuation, which not infrequently completed the
destruction both of the property transferred and of the railways. Some
most important industrial areas--especially in the Ukraine and in the
Urals--changed hands several times.

To this it must be added that, at the time when the destruction of
technical equipment was being accomplished on an unprecedented scale,
the supply of machines from abroad, which hitherto played a decisive
part in our industry, had completely ceased.

But not only did the dead elements of production--buildings, machines,
rails, fuel, and raw material--suffer terrible losses under the
combined blows of the war and the revolution. Not less, if not more,
did the chief factor of industry, its living creative force--the
proletariat--suffer. The proletariat was consolidating the November
revolution, building and defending the apparatus of Soviet power, and
carrying on a ceaseless struggle with the White Guards. The skilled
workers are, as a rule, at the same time the most advanced. The civil
war tore away many tens of thousands of the best workers for a long
time from productive labor, swallowing up many thousands of them for
ever. The Socialist revolution placed the chief burden of its
sacrifices upon the proletarian vanguard, and consequently on

All the attention of the Soviet State has been directed, for the two
and a half years of its existence, to the problem of military defence.
The best forces and its principal resources were given to the front.

In any case, the class struggle inflicts blows upon industry. That
accusation, long before Kautsky, was levelled at it by all the
philosophers of the social harmony. During simple economic strikes the
workers consume, and do not produce. Still more powerful, therefore,
are the blows inflicted upon economic life by the class struggle in
its severest form--in the form of armed conflicts. But it is quite
clear that the civil war cannot be classified under the heading of
Socialist economic methods.

The reasons enumerated above are more than sufficient to explain the
difficult economic situation of Soviet Russia. There is no fuel, there
is no metal, there is no cotton, transport is destroyed, technical
equipment is in disorder, living labor-power is scattered over the
face of the country, and a high percentage of it has been lost to the
front--is there any need to seek supplementary reasons in the economic
Utopianism of the Bolsheviks in order to explain the fall of our
industry? On the contrary, each of the reasons quoted alone is
sufficient to evoke the question: how is it possible at all that,
under such conditions, factories and workshops should continue to

And yet they do continue principally in the shape of war industry,
which is at present living at the expense of the rest. The Soviet
Government was obliged to re-create it, just like the army, out of
fragments. War industry, set up again under these conditions of
unprecedented difficulty, has fulfilled and is fulfilling its duty:
the Red Army is clothed, shod, equipped with its rifle, its machine
gun, its cannon, its bullet, its shell, its aeroplane, and all else
that it requires.

As soon as the dawn of peace made its appearance--after the
destruction of Kolchak, Yudenich, and Denikin--we placed before
ourselves the problem of economic organization in the fullest possible
way. And already, in the course of three or four months of intensive
work in this sphere, it has become clear beyond all possibility of
doubt that, thanks to its most intimate connection with the popular
masses, the elasticity of its apparatus, and its own revolutionary
initiative, the Soviet Government disposes of such resources and
methods for economic reconstruction as no other government ever had or
has to-day.

True, before us there arose quite new questions and new difficulties
in the sphere of the organization of labor. Socialist theory had no
answers to these questions, and could not have them. We had to find
the solution in practice, and test it in practice. Kautskianism is a
whole epoch behind the gigantic economic problems being solved at
present by the Soviet Government. In the form of Menshevism, it
constantly throws obstacles in our way, opposing the practical
measures of our economic reconstruction by bourgeois prejudices and
bureaucratic-intellectual scepticism.

To introduce the reader to the very essence of the questions of the
organization of labor, as they stand at present before us, we quote
below the report of the author of this book at the Third All-Russian
Congress of Trade Unions. With the object of the fullest possible
elucidation of the question, the text of the speech is supplemented by
considerable extracts from the author's reports at the All-Russian
Congress of Economic Councils and at the Ninth Congress of the
Communist Party.


Comrades, the internal civil war is coming to an end. On the western
front, the situation remains undecided. It is possible that the Polish
bourgeoisie will hurl a challenge at its fate.... But even in this
case--we do not seek it--the war will not demand of us that
all-devouring concentration of forces which the simultaneous struggle
on four fronts imposed upon us. The frightful pressure of the war is
becoming weaker. Economic requirements and problems are more and more
coming to the fore. History is bringing us, along the whole line, to
our fundamental problem--the organization of labor on new social
foundations. The organization of labor is in its essence the
organization of the new society: every historical form of society is
in its foundation a form of organization of labor. While every
previous form of society was an organization of labor in the interests
of a minority, which organized its State apparatus for the oppression
of the overwhelming majority of the workers, we are making the first
attempt in world history to organize labor in the interests of the
laboring majority itself. This, however, does not exclude the element
of compulsion in all its forms, both the most gentle and the extremely
severe. The element of State compulsion not only does not disappear
from the historical arena, but on the contrary will still play, for a
considerable period, an extremely prominent part.

As a general rule, man strives to avoid labor. Love for work is not at
all an inborn characteristic: it is created by economic pressure and
social education. One may even say that man is a fairly lazy animal.
It is on this quality, in reality, that is founded to a considerable
extent all human progress; because if man did not strive to expend his
energy economically, did not seek to receive the largest possible
quantity of products in return for a small quantity of energy, there
would have been no technical development or social culture. It would
appear, then, from this point of view that human laziness is a
progressive force, Old Antonio Labriola, the Italian Marxist, even
used to picture the man of the future as a "happy and lazy genius." We
must not, however, draw the conclusion from this that the party and
the trade unions must propagate this quality in their agitation as a
moral duty. No, no! We have sufficient of it as it is. The problem
before the social organization is just to bring "laziness" within a
definite framework, to discipline it, and to pull mankind together
with the help of methods and measures invented by mankind itself.


The key to economic organization is labor-power, skilled, elementarily
trained, semi-trained, untrained, or unskilled. To work out methods
for its accurate registration, mobilization, distribution, productive
application, means practically to solve the problem of economic
construction. This is a problem for a whole epoch--a gigantic problem.
Its difficulty is intensified by the fact that we have to reconstruct
labor on Socialist foundations in conditions of hitherto unknown
poverty and terrifying misery.

The more our machine equipment is worn out, the more disordered our
railways grow, the less hope there is for us of receiving machines to
any significant extent from abroad in the near future, the greater is
the importance acquired by the question of living labor-power. At
first sight it would seem that there is plenty of it. But how are we
to get at it? How are we to apply it? How are we productively to
organize it? Even with the cleaning of snow drifts from the railway
tracks, we were brought face to face with very big difficulties. It
was absolutely impossible to meet those difficulties by means of
buying labor-power on the market, with the present insignificant
purchasing power of money, and in the most complete absence of
manufactured products. Our fuel requirements cannot be satisfied, even
partially, without a mass application, on a scale hitherto unknown, of
labor-power to work on wood, fuel, peat, and combustible slate. The
civil war has played havoc with our railways, our bridges, our
buildings, our stations. We require at once tens and hundreds of
thousands of hands to restore order to all this. For production on a
large scale in our timber, peat, and other enterprises, we require
housing for our workers, if they be only temporary huts. Hence, again,
the necessity of devoting a considerable amount of labor-power to
building work. Many workers are required to organize river navigation;
and so on, and so forth....

Capitalist industry utilizes auxiliary labor-power on a large scale,
in the shape of peasants employed on industry for only part of the
year. The village, throttled by the grip of landlessness, always threw
a certain surplus of labor-power on to the market. The State obliged
it to do this by its demand for taxes. The market offered the peasant
manufactured goods. To-day, we have none of this. The village has
acquired more land; there is not sufficient agricultural machinery;
workers are required for the land; industry can at present give
practically nothing to the village; and the market no longer has an
attractive influence on labor-power.

Yet labor-power is required--required more than at any time before.
Not only the worker, but the peasant also, must give to the Soviet
State his energy, in order to ensure that laboring Russia, and with it
the laboring masses, should not be crushed. The only way to attract
the labor-power necessary for our economic problems is to introduce
_compulsory labor service_.

The very principle of compulsory labor service is for the Communist
quite unquestionable. "He who works not, neither shall he eat." And as
all must eat, all are obliged to work. Compulsory labor service is
sketched in our Constitution and in our Labor Code. But hitherto it
has always remained a mere principle. Its application has always had
an accidental, impartial, episodic character. Only now, when along the
whole line we have reached the question of the economic rebirth of
the country, have problems of compulsory labor service arisen before
us in the most concrete way possible. The only solution of economic
difficulties that is correct from the point of view both of principle
and of practice is to treat the population of the whole country as the
reservoir of the necessary labor-power--an almost inexhaustible
reservoir--and to introduce strict order into the work of its
registration, mobilization, and utilization.

How are we practically to begin the utilization of labor-power on the
basis of compulsory military service?

Hitherto only the War Department has had any experience in the sphere
of the registration, mobilization, formation, and transference from
one place to another of large masses. These technical methods and
principles were inherited by our War Department, to a considerable
extent, from the past.

In the economic sphere there is no such heritage; since in that sphere
there existed the principle of private property, and labor-power
entered each factory separately from the market. It is consequently
natural that we should be obliged, at any rate during the first
period, to make use of the apparatus of the War Department on a large
scale for labor mobilizations.

We have set up special organizations for the application of the
principle of compulsory labor service in the centre and in the
districts: in the provinces, the counties, and the rural districts, we
have already compulsory labor committees at work. They rely for the
most part on the central and local organs of the War Department. Our
economic centres--the Supreme Economic Council, the People's
Commissariat for Agriculture, the People's Commissariat for Ways and
Communications, the People's Commissariat for Food--work out estimates
of the labor-power they require. The Chief Committee for Compulsory
Labor Service receives these estimates, co-ordinates them, brings them
into agreement with the local resources of labor-power, gives
corresponding directions to its local organs, and through them carries
out labor mobilizations. Within the boundaries of regions, provinces,
and counties, the local bodies carry out this work independently, with
the object of satisfying local economic requirements.

All this organization is at present only in the embryo stage. It is
still very imperfect. But the course we have adopted is unquestionably
the right one.

If the organization of the new society can be reduced fundamentally to
the reorganization of labor, the organization of labor signifies in
its turn the correct introduction of general labor service. This
problem is in no way met by measures of a purely departmental and
administrative character. It touches the very foundations of economic
life and the social structure. It finds itself in conflict with the
most powerful psychological habits and prejudices. The introduction of
compulsory labor service pre-supposes, on the one hand, a colossal
work of education, and, on the other, the greatest possible care in
the practical method adopted.

The utilization of labor-power must be to the last degree economical.
In our labor mobilizations we have to reckon with the economic and
social conditions of every region, and with the requirements of the
principal occupation of the local population--_i.e._, of agriculture.
We have, if possible, to make use of the previous auxiliary
occupations and part-time industries of the local population. We have
to see that the transference of mobilized labor-power should take
place over the shortest possible distances--_i.e._, to the nearest
sectors of the labor front. We must see that the number of workers
mobilized correspond to the breadth of our economic problem. We must
see that the workers mobilized be supplied in good time with the
necessary implements of production, and with food. We must see that at
their head be placed experienced and business-like instructors. We
must see that the workers mobilized become convinced on the spot that
their labor-power is being made use of cautiously and economically and
is not being expended haphazard. Wherever it is possible, direct
mobilization must be replaced by the labor task--_i.e._, by the
imposition on the rural district of an obligation to supply, for
example, in such a time such a number of cubic sazhens of wood, or to
bring up by carting to such a station so many poods of cast-iron, etc.
In this sphere, it is essential to study experience as it accumulates
with particular care, to allow a great measure of elasticity to the
economic apparatus, to show more attention to local interests and
social peculiarities of tradition. In a word, we have to complete,
ameliorate, perfect, the system, methods, and organs for the
mobilization of labor-power. But at the same time it is necessary once
for all to make clear to ourselves that the principle itself of
compulsory labor service has just so radically and permanently
replaced the principle of free hiring as the socialization of the
means of production has replaced capitalist property.


The introduction of compulsory labor service is unthinkable without
the application, to a greater or less degree, of the methods of
militarization of labor. This term at once brings us into the region
of the greatest possible superstitions and outcries from the

To understand what militarization of labor in the Workers' State
means, and what its methods are, one has to make clear to oneself in
what way the army itself was militarized--for, as we all know, in its
first days the army did not at all possess the necessary "military"
qualities. During these two years we mobilized for the Red Army nearly
as many soldiers as there are members in our trade unions. But the
members of the trade unions are workers, while in the army the workers
constitute about 15 per cent., the remainder being a peasant mass.
And, none the less, we can have no doubt that the true builder and
"militarizer" of the Red Army has been the foremost worker, pushed
forward by the party and the trade union organization. Whenever the
situation at the front was difficult, whenever the recently-mobilized
peasant mass did not display sufficient stability, we turned on the
one hand to the Central Committee of the Communist Party, and on the
other to the All-Russian Council of Trade Unions. From both these
sources the foremost workers were sent to the front, and there built
the Red Army after their own likeness and image--educating, hardening,
and militarizing the peasant mass.

This fact must be kept in mind to-day with all possible clearness
because it throws the best possible light on the meaning of
militarization in the workers' and peasants' State. The militarization
of labor has more than once been put forward as a watchword and
realized in separate branches of economic life in the bourgeois
countries, both in the West and in Russia under Tsarism. But our
militarization is distinguished from those experiments by its aims and
methods, just as much as the class-conscious proletariat organized for
emancipation is distinguished from the class-conscious bourgeoisie
organized for exploitation.

From the confusion, semi-unconscious and semi-deliberate, of two
different historical forms of militarization--the proletarian or
Socialist and the bourgeois--there spring the greater part of the
prejudices, mistakes, protests, and outcries on this subject. It is on
such a confusion of meanings that the whole position of the
Mensheviks, our Russian Kautskies, is founded, as it was expressed in
their theoretical resolution moved at the present Congress of Trade

The Mensheviks attacked not only the militarization of labor, but
general labor service also. They reject these methods as "compulsory."
They preach that general labor service means a low productivity of
labor, while militarization means senseless scattering of labor-power.

"Compulsory labor always is unproductive labor,"--such is the exact
phrase in the Menshevik resolution. This affirmation brings us right
up to the very essence of the question. For, as we see, the question
is not at all whether it is wise or unwise to proclaim this or that
factory militarized, or whether it is helpful or otherwise to give the
military revolutionary tribunal powers to punish corrupt workers who
steal materials and instruments, so precious to us, or who sabotage
their work. No, the Mensheviks have gone much further into the
question. Affirming that compulsory labor is _always_ unproductive,
they thereby attempt to cut the ground from under the feet of our
economic reconstruction in the present transitional epoch. For it is
beyond question that to step from bourgeois anarchy to Socialist
economy without a revolutionary dictatorship, and without compulsory
forms of economic organization, is impossible.

In the first paragraph of the Menshevik resolution we are told that we
are living in the period of transition from the capitalist method of
production to the Socialist. What does this mean? And, first of all,
whence does this come? Since what time has this been admitted by our
Kautskians? They accused us--and this formed the foundation of our
differences--of Socialist Utopianism; they declared--and this
constituted the essence of their political teaching--that there can be
no talk about the transition to Socialism in our epoch, and that our
revolution is a bourgeois revolution, and that we Communists are only
destroying capitalist economy, and that we are not leading the country
forward but are throwing it back. This was the root difference--the
most profound, the most irreconcilable--from which all the others
followed. Now the Mensheviks tell us incidentally, in the introductory
paragraph of their resolution, as something that does not require
proof, that we are in the period of transition from capitalism to
Socialism. And this quite unexpected admission, which, one might
think, is extremely like a complete capitulation, is made the more
lightly and carelessly that, as the whole resolution shows, it imposes
no revolutionary obligations on the Mensheviks. They remain entirely
captive to the bourgeois ideology. After recognizing that we are on
the road to Socialism, the Mensheviks with all the greater ferocity
attack those methods without which, in the harsh and difficult
conditions of the present day, the transition to Socialism cannot be

Compulsory labor, we are told, is always unproductive. We ask what
does compulsory labor mean here, that is, to what kind of labor is it
opposed? Obviously, to free labor. What are we to understand, in that
case, by free labor? That phrase was formulated by the progressive
philosophers of the bourgeoisie, in the struggle against unfree,
_i.e._, against the serf labor of peasants, and against the
standardized and regulated labor of the craft guilds. Free labor meant
labor which might be "freely" bought in the market; freedom was
reduced to a legal fiction, on the basis of freely-hired slavery. We
know of no other form of free labor in history. Let the very few
representatives of the Mensheviks at this Congress explain to us what
they mean by free, non-compulsory labor, if not the market of

History has known slave labor. History has known serf labor. History
has known the regulated labor of the mediæval craft guilds. Throughout
the world there now prevails hired labor, which the yellow journalists
of all countries oppose, as the highest possible form of liberty, to
Soviet "slavery." We, on the other hand, oppose capitalist slavery by
socially-regulated labor on the basis of an economic plan, obligatory
for the whole people and consequently compulsory for each worker in
the country. Without this we cannot even dream of a transition to
Socialism. The element of material, physical, compulsion may be
greater or less; that depends on many conditions--on the degree of
wealth or poverty of the country, on the heritage of the past, on the
general level of culture, on the condition of transport, on the
administrative apparatus, etc., etc. But obligation, and,
consequently, compulsion, are essential conditions in order to bind
down the bourgeois anarchy, to secure socialization of the means of
production and labor, and to reconstruct economic life on the basis of
a single plan.

For the Liberal, freedom in the long run means the market. Can or
cannot the capitalist buy labor-power at a moderate price--that is for
him the sole measure of the freedom of labor. That measure is false,
not only in relation to the future but also in connection with the

It would be absurd to imagine that, during the time of bondage-right,
work was carried entirely under the stick of physical compulsion, as
if an overseer stood with a whip behind the back of every peasant.
Mediæval forms of economic life grew up out of definite conditions of
production, and created definite forms of social life, with which the
peasant grew accustomed, and which he at certain periods considered
just, or at any rate unalterable. Whenever he, under the influence of
a change in material conditions, displayed hostility, the State
descended upon him with its material force, thereby displaying the
compulsory character of the organization of labor.

The foundations of the militarization of labor are those forms of
State compulsion without which the replacement of capitalist economy
by the Socialist will for ever remain an empty sound. Why do we speak
of _militarization_? Of course, this is only an analogy--but an
analogy very rich in content. No social organization except the army
has ever considered itself justified in subordinating citizens to
itself in such a measure, and to control them by its will on all sides
to such a degree, as the State of the proletarian dictatorship
considers itself justified in doing, and does. Only the army--just
because in its way it used to decide questions of the life or death of
nations, States, and ruling classes--was endowed with powers of
demanding from each and all complete submission to its problems, aims,
regulations, and orders. And it achieved this to the greater degree,
the more the problems of military organization coincided with the
requirements of social development.

The question of the life or death of Soviet Russia is at present being
settled on the labor front; our economic, and together with them our
professional and productive organizations, have the right to demand
from their members all that devotion, discipline, and executive
thoroughness, which hitherto only the army required.

On the other hand, the relation of the capitalist to the worker, is
not at all founded merely on the "free" contract, but includes the
very powerful elements of State regulation and material compulsion.

The competition of capitalist with capitalist imparted a certain very
limited reality to the fiction of freedom of labor; but this
competition, reduced to a minimum by trusts and syndicates, we have
finally eliminated by destroying private property in the means of
production. The transition to Socialism, verbally acknowledged by the
Mensheviks, means the transition from anarchical distribution of
labor-power--by means of the game of buying and selling, the movement
of market prices and wages--to systematic distribution of the workers
by the economic organizations of the county, the province, and the
whole country. Such a form of planned distribution pre-supposes the
subordination of those distributed to the economic plan of the State.
And this is the essence of _compulsory labor service_, which
inevitably enters into the programme of the Socialist organization of
labor, as its fundamental element.

If organized economic life is unthinkable without compulsory labor
service, the latter is not to be realized without the abolition of
fiction of the freedom of labor, and without the substitution for it
of the obligatory principle, which is supplemented by real compulsion.

That free labor is more productive than compulsory labor is quite true
when it refers to the period of transition from feudal society to
bourgeois society. But one needs to be a Liberal or--at the present
day--a Kautskian, to make that truth permanent, and to transfer its
application to the period of transition from the bourgeois to the
Socialist order. If it were true that compulsory labor is unproductive
always and under every condition, as the Menshevik resolution says,
all our constructive work would be doomed to failure. For we can have
no way to Socialism except by the authoritative regulation of the
economic forces and resources of the country, and the centralized
distribution of labor-power in harmony with the general State plan.
The Labor State considers itself empowered to send every worker to the
place where his work is necessary. And not one serious Socialist will
begin to deny to the Labor State the right to lay its hand upon the
worker who refuses to execute his labor duty. But the whole point is
that the Menshevik path of transition to "Socialism" is a milky way,
without the bread monopoly, without the abolition of the market,
without the revolutionary dictatorship, and without the militarization
of labor.

Without general labor service, without the right to order and demand
fulfilment of orders, the trade unions will be transformed into a mere
form without a reality; for the young Socialist State requires trade
unions, not for a struggle for better conditions of labor--that is the
task of the social and State organizations as a whole--but to organize
the working class for the ends of production, to educate, discipline,
distribute, group, retain certain categories and certain workers at
their posts for fixed periods--in a word, hand in hand with the State
to exercise their authority in order to lead the workers into the
framework of a single economic plan. To defend, under such conditions,
the "freedom" of labor means to defend fruitless, helpless, absolutely
unregulated searches for better conditions, unsystematic, chaotic
changes from factory to factory, in a hungry country, in conditions of
terrible disorganization of the transport and food apparatus.... What
except the complete collapse of the working-class and complete
economic anarchy could be the result of the stupid attempt to
reconcile bourgeois freedom of labor with proletarian socialization of
the means of production?

Consequently, comrades, militarization of labor, in the root sense
indicated by me, is not the invention of individual politicians or an
invention of our War Department, but represents the inevitable method
of organization and disciplining of labor-power during the period of
transition from capitalism to Socialism. And if the compulsory
distribution of labor-power, its brief or prolonged retention at
particular industries and factories, its regulation within the
framework of the general State economic plan--if these forms of
compulsion lead always and everywhere, as the Menshevik resolution
states, to the lowering of productivity, then you can erect a monument
over the grave of Socialism. For we cannot build Socialism on
decreased production. Every social organization is in its foundation
an organization of labor, and if our new organization of labor leads
to a lowering of its productivity, it thereby most fatally leads to
the destruction of the Socialist society we are building, whichever
way we twist and turn, whatever measures of salvation we invent.

That is why I stated at the very beginning that the Menshevik argument
against militarization leads us to the root question of general labor
service and its influence on the productivity of labor. It is true
that compulsory labor is always unproductive? We have to reply that
that is the most pitiful and worthless Liberal prejudice. The whole
question is: who applies the principle of compulsion, over whom, and
for what purpose? What State, what class, in what conditions, by what
methods? Even the serf organization was in certain conditions a step
forward, and led to the increase in the productivity of labor.
Production has grown extremely under capitalism, that is, in the epoch
of the free buying and selling of labor-power on the market. But free
labor, together with the whole of capitalism, entered the stage of
imperialism and blew itself up in the imperialist war. The whole
economic life of the world entered a period of bloody anarchy,
monstrous perturbations, the impoverishment, dying out, and
destruction of masses of the people. Can we, under such conditions,
talk about the productivity of free labor, when the fruits of that
labor are destroyed ten times more quickly than they are created? The
imperialistic war, and that which followed it, displayed the
impossibility of society existing any longer on the foundation of free
labor. Or perhaps someone possesses the secret of how to separate free
labor from the delirium tremens of imperialism, that is, of turning
back the clock of social development half a century or a century?

If it were to turn out that the planned, and consequently compulsory,
organization of labor which is arising to replace imperialism led to
the lowering of economic life, it would mean the destruction of all
our culture, and a retrograde movement of humanity back to barbarism
and savagery.

Happily, not only for Soviet Russia but for the whole of humanity, the
philosophy of the low productivity of compulsory labor--"everywhere
and under all conditions"--is only a belated echo of ancient Liberal
melodies. The productivity of labor is the total productive meaning of
the most complex combination of social conditions, and is not in the
least measured or pre-determined by the legal form of labor.

The whole of human history is the history of the organization and
education of collective man for labor, with the object of attaining a
higher level of productivity. Man, as I have already permitted myself
to point out, is lazy; that is, he instinctively strives to receive
the largest possible quantity of products for the least possible
expenditure of energy. Without such a striving, there would have been
no economic development. The growth of civilization is measured by the
productivity of human labor, and each new form of social relations
must pass through a test on such lines.

"Free," that is, freely-hired labor, did not appear all at once upon
the world, with all the attributes of productivity. It acquired a high
level of productivity only gradually, as a result of a prolonged
application of methods of labor organization and labor education. Into
that education there entered the most varying methods and practices,
which in addition changed from one epoch to another. First of all the
bourgeoisie drove the peasant from the village to the high road with
its club, having preliminarily robbed him of his land, and when he
would not work in the factory it branded his forehead with red-hot
irons, hung him, sent him to the gallows; and in the long run it
taught the tramp who had been shaken out of his village to stand at
the lathe in the factory. At this stage, as we see, "free" labor is
little different as yet from convict labor, both in its material
conditions and in its legal aspect.

At different times the bourgeoisie combined the red-hot irons of
repression in different proportions with methods of moral influence,
and, first of all, the teaching of the priest. As early as the
sixteenth century, it reformed the old religion of Catholicism, which
defended the feudal order, and adapted for itself a new religion in
the form of the Reformation, which combined the free soul with free
trade and free labor. It found for itself new priests, who became the
spiritual shop-assistants, pious counter-jumpers of the bourgeoisie.
The school, the press, the market-place, and parliament were adapted
by the bourgeoisie for the moral fashioning of the working-class.
Different forms of wages--day-wages, piece wages, contract and
collective bargaining--all these are merely changing methods in the
hands of the bourgeoisie for the labor mobilization of the
proletariat. To this there are added all sorts of forms for
encouraging labor and exciting ambition. Finally, the bourgeoisie
learned how to gain possession even of the trade unions--_i.e._,
the organizations of the working class itself; and it made use of them
on a large scale, particularly in Great Britain, to discipline the
workers. It domesticated the leaders, and with their help inoculated
the workers with the fiction of the necessity for peaceful organic
labor, for a faultless attitude to their duties, and for a strict
execution of the laws of the bourgeois State. The crown of all this
work is Taylorism, in which the elements of the scientific
organization of the process of production are combined with the most
concentrated methods of the system of sweating.

From all that has been said above, it is clear that the productivity
of freely-hired labor is not something that appeared all at once,
perfected, presented by history on a salver. No, it was the result of
a long and stubborn policy of repression, education, organization, and
encouragement, applied by the bourgeoisie in its relations with the
working class. Step by step it learned to squeeze out of the workers
ever more and more of the products of labor; and one of the most
powerful weapons in its hand turned out to be the proclamation of free
hiring as the sole free, normal, healthy, productive, and saving form
of labor.

A legal form of labor which would of its own virtue guarantee its
productivity has not been known in history, and cannot be known. The
legal superstructure of labor corresponds to the relations and current
ideas of the epoch. The productivity of labor is developed, on the
basis of the development of technical forces, by labor education, by
the gradual adaptation of the workers to the changed methods of
production and the new form of social relations.

The creation of Socialist society means the organization of the
workers on new foundations, their adaptation to those foundations, and
their labor re-education, with the one unchanging end of the increase
in the productivity of labor. The working class, under the leadership
of its vanguard, must itself re-educate itself on the foundations of
Socialism. Whoever has not understood this is ignorant of the A B C of
Socialist construction.

What methods have we, then, for the re-education of the workers?
Infinitely wider than the bourgeoisie has--and, in addition, honest,
direct, open methods, infected neither by hypocrisy nor by lies. The
bourgeoisie had to have recourse to deception, representing its labor
as free, when in reality it was not merely socially-imposed, but
actually slave labor. For it was the labor of the majority in the
interests of the minority. We, on the other hand, organize labor in
the interests of the workers themselves, and therefore we can have no
motives for hiding or masking the socially compulsory character of our
labor organization. We need the fairy stories neither of the priests,
nor of the Liberals, nor of the Kautskians. We say directly and openly
to the masses that they can save, rebuild, and bring to a flourishing
condition a Socialist country only by means of hard work,
unquestioning discipline and exactness in execution on the part of
every worker.

The chief of our resources is moral influence--propaganda not only in
word but in deed. General labor service has an obligatory character;
but this does not mean at all that it represents violence done to the
working class. If compulsory labor came up against the opposition of
the majority of the workers it would turn out a broken reed, and with
it the whole of the Soviet order. The militarization of labor, when
the workers are opposed to it, is the State slavery of Arakcheyev. The
militarization of labor by the will of the workers themselves is the
Socialist dictatorship. That compulsory labor service and the
militarization of labor do not force the will of the workers, as
"free" labor used to do, is best shown by the flourishing,
unprecedented in the history of humanity, of labor voluntarism in the
form of "Subbotniks" (Communist Saturdays). Such a phenomenon there
never was before, anywhere or at any time. By their own voluntary
labor, freely given--once a week and oftener--the workers clearly
demonstrate not only their readiness to bear the yoke of "compulsory"
labor but their eagerness to give the State besides that a certain
quantity of additional labor. The "Subbotniks" are not only a splendid
demonstration of Communist solidarity, but also the best possible
guarantee for the successful introduction of general labor service.
Such truly Communist tendencies must be shown up in their true light,
extended, and developed with the help of propaganda.

The chief spiritual weapon of the bourgeoisie is religion; ours is the
open explanation to the masses of the exact position of things, the
extension of scientific and technical knowledge, and the initiation of
the masses into the general economic plan of the State, on the basis
of which there must be brought to bear all the labor-power at the
disposal of the Soviet regime.

Political economy provided us with the principal substance of our
agitation in the period we have just left: the capitalist social order
was a riddle, and we explained that riddle to the masses. To-day,
social riddles are explained to the masses by the very mechanism of
the Soviet order, which draws the masses into all branches of
administration. Political economy will more and more pass into the
realms of history. There move forward into the foreground the sciences
which study nature and the methods of subordinating it to man.

The trade unions must organize scientific and technical educational
work on the widest possible scale, so that every worker in his own
branch of industry should find the impulses for theoretical work of
the brain, while the latter should again return him to labor,
perfecting it and making him more productive. The press as a whole
must fall into line with the economic problems of the country--not in
that sense alone in which this is being done at present--_i.e._,
not in the sense of a mere general agitation in favor of a revival of
labor--but in the sense of the discussion and the weighing of concrete
economic problems and plans, ways and means of their solution, and,
most important of all, the testing and criticism of results already
achieved. The newspapers must from day to day follow the production of
the most important factories and other enterprises, registering their
successes and failures encouraging some and pillorying others....

Russian capitalism, in consequence of its lateness, its lack of
independence, and its resulting parasitic features, has had much less
time than European capitalism technically to educate the laboring
masses, to train and discipline them for production. That problem is
now in its entirety imposed upon the industrial organizations of the
proletariat. A good engineer, a good mechanic, and a good carpenter,
must have in the Soviet Republic the same publicity and fame as
hitherto was enjoyed by prominent agitators, revolutionary fighters,
and, in the most recent period, the most courageous and capable
commanders and commissaries. Greater and lesser leaders of technical
development must occupy the central position in the public eye. Bad
workers must be made ashamed of doing their work badly.

We still retain, and for a long time will retain, the system of wages.
The further we go, the more will its importance become simply to
guarantee to all members of society all the necessaries of life; and
thereby it will cease to be a system of wages. But at present we are
not sufficiently rich for this. Our main problem is to raise the
quantity of products turned out, and to this problem all the remainder
must be subordinated. In the present difficult period the system of
wages is for us, first and foremost, not a method for guaranteeing the
personal existence of any separate worker, but a method of estimating
what that individual worker brings by his labor to the Labor Republic.

Consequently, wages, in the form both of money and of goods, must be
brought into the closest possible touch with the productivity of
individual labor. Under capitalism, the system of piece-work and of
grading, the application of the Taylor system, etc., have as their
object to increase the exploitation of the workers by the
squeezing-out of surplus value. Under Socialist production,
piece-work, bonuses, etc., have as their problem to increase the
volume of social product, and consequently to raise the general
well-being. Those workers who do more for the general interest than
others receive the right to a greater quantity of the social product
than the lazy, the careless, and the disorganizers.

Finally, when it rewards some, the Labor State cannot but punish
others--those who are clearly infringing labor solidarity, undermining
the common work, and seriously impairing the Socialist renaissance of
the country. Repression for the attainment of economic ends is a
necessary weapon of the Socialist dictatorship.

All the measures enumerated above--and together with them a number of
others--must assist the development of rivalry in the sphere of
production. Without this we shall never rise above the average, which
is a very unsatisfactory level. At the bottom of rivalry lies the
vital instinct--the struggle for existence--which in the bourgeois
order assumes the character of competition. Rivalry will not disappear
even in the developed Socialist society; but with the growing
guarantee of the necessary requirements of life rivalry will acquire
an ever less selfish and purely idealist character. It will express
itself in a striving to perform the greatest possible service for
one's village, county, town, or the whole of society, and to receive
in return renown, gratitude, sympathy, or, finally, just internal
satisfaction from the consciousness of work well done. But in the
difficult period of transition, in conditions of the extreme shortage
of material goods, and the as yet insufficiently developed state of
social solidarity, rivalry must inevitably be to a greater or less
degree bound up with a striving to guarantee for oneself one's own

This, comrades, is the sum of resources at the disposal of the Labor
State in order to raise the productivity of labor. As we see, there is
no ready-made solution here. We shall find it written in no book. For
there could not be such a book. We are now only beginning, together
with you, to write that book in the sweat and the blood of the
workers. We say: working men and women, you have crossed to the path
of regulated labor. Only along that road will you build the Socialist
society. Before you there lies a problem which no one will settle for
you: the problem of increasing production on new social foundations.
Unless you solve that problem, you will perish. If you solve it, you
will raise humanity by a whole head.


The question of the application of armies to labor purposes, which has
acquired amongst us an enormous importance from the point of view of
principle, was approached by us by the path of practice, not at all on
the foundations of theoretical consideration. On certain borders of
Soviet Russia, circumstances had arisen which had left considerable
military forces free for an indefinite period. To transfer them to
other active fronts, especially in the winter, was difficult in
consequence of the disorder of railway transport. Such, for example,
proved the position of the Third Army, distributed over the provinces
of the Ural and the Ural area. The leading workers of that army,
understanding that as yet it could not be demobilized, themselves
raised the question of its transference to labor work. They sent to
the centre a more or less worked-out draft decree for a labor army.

The problem was novel and difficult. Would the Red soldiers work?
Would their work be sufficiently productive? Would it pay for itself?
In this connection there were doubts even in our own ranks. Needless
to say, the Mensheviks struck up a chorus of opposition. The same
Abramovich, at the Congress of Economic Councils called in January or
the beginning of February--that is to say, when the whole affair was
still in draft stage--foretold that we should suffer an inevitable
failure, for the whole undertaking was senseless, an Arakcheyev
Utopia, etc., etc. We considered the matter otherwise. Of course the
difficulties were great, but they were not distinguishable in
principle from many other difficulties of Soviet constructive work.

Let us consider in fact what was the organism of the Third Army. Taken
all in all, one rifle division and one cavalry division--a total of
fifteen regiments--and, in addition, special units. The remaining
military formations had already been transformed to other armies and
fronts. But the apparatus of military administration had remained
untouched as yet, and we considered it probable that in the spring we
should have to transfer it along the Volga to the Caucasus front,
against Denikin, if by that time he were not finally broken. On the
whole, in the Third Army there remained about 120,000 Red soldiers in
administrative posts, institutions, military units, hospitals, etc. In
this general mass, mainly peasant in its composition, there were
reckoned about 16,000 Communists and members of the organization of
sympathizers--to a considerable extent workers of the Ural. In this
way, in its composition and structure, the Third Army represented a
peasant mass bound together into a military organization under the
leadership of the foremost workers. In the army there worked a
considerable number of military specialists, who carried out important
military functions while remaining under the general control of the
Communists. If we consider the Third Army from this general point of
view, we shall see that it represents in miniature the whole of Soviet
Russia. Whether we take the Red Army as a whole, or the organization
of the Soviet regime in the county, province, or the whole Republic,
including the economic organs, we shall find everywhere the same
scheme of organization: millions of peasants drawn into new forms of
political, economic, and social life by the organized workers, who
occupy a controlling position in all spheres of Soviet construction.
To posts requiring special knowledge, we send experts of the bourgeois
school. They are given the necessary independence, but control over
their work remains in the hands of the working class, in the person of
its Communist Party. The introduction of general labor service is
again only conceivable for us as the mobilization of mainly peasant
labor-power under the guidance of the most advanced workers. In this
way there were not, and could not, be any obstacles in principle in
the way of application of the army to labor. In other words, the
opposition in principle to labor armies, on the part of those same
Mensheviks, was in reality opposition to "compulsory" labor generally,
and consequently against general labor service and against Soviet
methods of economic reconstruction as a whole. This opposition did not
trouble us a great deal.

Naturally, the military apparatus as such is not adapted directly to
the process of labor. But we had no illusions about that. Control had
to remain in the hands of the appropriate economic organs; the army
supplied the necessary labor-power in the form of organized, compact
units, suitable in the mass for the execution of the simplest
homogeneous types of work: the freeing of roads from snow, the storage
of fuel, building work, organization of cartage, etc., etc.

To-day we have already had considerable experience in the work of the
labor application of the army, and can give not merely a preliminary
or hypothetical estimate. What are the conclusions to be drawn from
that experience? The Mensheviks have hastened to draw them. The same
Abramovich, again, announced at the Miners' Congress that we had
become bankrupt, that the labor armies represent parasitic formations,
in which there are 100 officials for every ten workers. Is this true?
No. This is the irresponsible and malignant criticism of men who stand
on one side, do not know the facts, collect only fragments and
rubbish, and are concerned in any way and every way either to declare
our bankruptcy or to prophecy it. In reality, the labor armies have
not only not gone bankrupt, but, on the contrary, have had important
successes, have displayed their fidelity, are developing and are
becoming stronger and stronger. Just those prophets have gone bankrupt
who foretold that nothing would come of the whole plan, that nobody
would begin to work, and that the Red soldiers would not go to the
labor front but would simply scatter to their homes.

These criticisms were dictated by a philistine scepticism, lack of
faith in the masses, lack of faith in bold initiative, and
organization. But did we not hear exactly the same criticism, at
bottom, when we had recourse to extensive mobilizations for military
problems? Then too we were frightened, we were terrified by stories of
mass desertion, which was absolutely inevitable, it was alleged, after
the imperialist war. Naturally, desertion there was, but considered by
the test of experience it proved not at all on such a mass scale as
was foretold; it did not destroy the army; the bond of morale and
organization--Communist voluntarism and State compulsion
combined--allowed us to carry out mobilizations of millions to carry
through numerous formations and redistributions, and to solve the most
difficult military problems. In the long run, the army was victorious.
In relation to labor problems, on the foundation of our military
experience, we awaited the same results; and we were not mistaken. The
Red soldiers did not scatter when they were transformed from military
to labor service, as the sceptics prophesied. Thanks to our
splendidly-organized agitation, the transference itself took place
amidst great enthusiasm. True, a certain portion of the soldiers tried
to leave the army, but this always happens when a large military
formation is transferred from one front to another, or is sent from
the rear to the front--in general when it is shaken up--and when
potential desertion becomes active. But immediately the political
sections, the press, the organs of struggle with desertion, etc.,
entered into their rights; and to-day the percentage of deserters from
our labor armies is in no way higher than in our armies on active

The statement that the armies, in view of their internal structure,
can produce only a small percentage of workers, is true only to a
certain extent. As far as the Third Army is concerned, I have already
pointed out that it retained its complete apparatus of administration
side by side with an extremely insignificant number of military units.
While we--owing to military and not economic considerations--retained
untouched the staff of the army and its administrative apparatus, the
percentage of workers produced by the army was actually extremely low.
From the general number of 120,000 Red soldiers, 21% proved to be
employed in administrative and economic work; 16% were engaged in
daily detail work (guards, etc.) in connection with the large number
of army institutions and stores; the number of sick, mainly typhus
cases, together with the medico-sanitary personnel, was about 13%;
about 25% were not available for various reasons (detachment, leave,
absence without leave, etc.). In this way, the total personnel
available for work constitutes no more than 23%; this is the maximum
of what can be drawn for labor from the given army. Actually, at
first, there worked only about 14%, mainly drawn from the two
divisions, rifle and cavalry, which still remained with the army.

But as soon as it was clear that Denikin had been crushed, and that we
should not have to send the Third Army down the Volga in the spring to
assist the forces on the Caucasus front, we immediately entered upon
the disbanding of the clumsy army apparatus and a more regular
adaptation of the army institutions to problems of labor. Although
this work is not yet complete, it has already had time to give some
very significant results. At the present moment (March, 1920), the
former Third Army gives about 38% of its total composition as workers.
As for the military units of the Ural military area working side by
side with it, they already provide 49% of their number as workers.
This result is not so bad, if we compare it with the amount of work
done in factories and workshops, amongst which in the case of many
quite recently, in the case of some even to-day, absence from work for
legal and illegal reasons reached 50% and over.[9] To this one must
add that workers in factories and workshops are not infrequently
assisted by the adult members of their family, while the Red soldiers
have no auxiliary force but themselves.

          [9] Since that time this percentage has been considerably
          lowered (June, 1920).

If we take the case of the 19-year-olds, who have been mobilized in
the Ural with the help of the military apparatus--principally for wood
fuel work--we shall find that, out of their general number of over
30,000, over 75% attend work. This is already a very great step
forward. It shows that, using the military apparatus for mobilization
and formation, we can introduce such alterations in the construction
of purely labor units as guarantee an enormous increase in the
percentage of those who participate directly in the material process
of production.

Finally, in connection with the productivity of military labor, we can
also now judge on the basis of experience. During the first days, the
productivity of labor in the principal departments of work, in spite
of the great moral enthusiasm, was in reality very low, and might seem
completely discouraging when one reads the first labor communiqués.
Thus, for the preparation of a cubic sazhen of wood, at first, one had
to reckon thirteen to fifteen labor days; whereas the standard--true,
rarely attained at the present day--is reckoned at three days. One
must add, in addition, that artistes in this sphere are capable, under
favorable conditions, of producing one cubic sazhen per day per man.
What happened in reality? The military units were quartered far from
the forest to be felled. In many cases it was necessary to march to
and from work 6 to 8 versts, which swallowed up a considerable portion
of the working day. There were not sufficient axes and saws on the
spot. Many Red soldiers, born in the plains, did not know the forests,
had never felled trees, had never chopped or sawed them up. The
provincial and county Timber Committees were very far from knowing at
first how to use the military units, how to direct them where they
were required, how to equip them as they should be equipped. It is not
wonderful that all this had as its result an extremely low level of
productivity. But after the most crying defects in organization were
eliminated, results were achieved that were much more satisfactory.
Thus, according to the most recent data, in that same First Labor
Army, four and a half working days are now devoted to one sazhen of
wood, which is not so far from the present standard. What is most
comforting, however, is the fact that the productivity of labor
systematically increases, in the measure of the improvement of its

While as to what can be achieved in this respect, we have a brief but
very rich experience in the Moscow Engineer Regiment. The Chief Board
of Military Engineers, which controlled this experiment, began with
fixing the standard of production as three working days for a cubic
sazhen of wood. This standard soon proved to be surpassed. In January
there were spent on a cubic sazhen of wood two and one-third working
days; in February, 2.1; in March, 1.5; which represents an exclusively
high level of productivity. This result was achieved by moral
influence, by the exact registration of the individual work of each
man, by the awakening of labor pride, by the distribution of bonuses
to the workers who produced more than the average result--or, to speak
in the language of the trade unions, by a sliding scale adaptable to
all individual changes in the productivity of labor. This experiment,
carried out almost under laboratory conditions, clearly indicates the
path along which we have to go in future.

At present we have functioning a series of labor armies--the First,
the Petrograd, the Ukrainian, the Caucasian, the South Volga, the
Reserve. The latter, as is known, assisted considerably to raise the
traffic capacity of the Kazan-Ekaterinburg Railway; and, wherever the
experiment of the adaptation of military units for labor problems was
carried out with any intelligence at all, the results showed that this
method is unquestionably live and correct.

The prejudice concerning the inevitably parasitic nature of military
organization--under each and every condition--proves to be shattered.
The Soviet Army reproduces within itself the tendencies of the Soviet
social order. We must not think in the petrifying terms of the last
epoch: "militarism," "military organization," "the unproductiveness of
compulsory labor." We must approach the phenomena of the new epoch
without any prejudices, and with eyes wide open; and we must remember
that Saturday exists for man, and not vice versa; that all forms of
organization, including the military, are only weapons in the hands of
the working class in power, which has both the right and the
possibility of adapting, altering, refashioning, those weapons, until
it has achieved the requisite result.


The widest possible application of the principle of general labor
service, together with measures for the militarization of labor, can
play a decisive part only in case they are applied on the basis of a
single economic plan covering the whole country and all branches of
productive activity. This plan must be drawn up for a number of years,
for the whole epoch that lies before us. It is naturally broken up
into separate periods or stages, corresponding to the inevitable
stages in the economic rebirth of the country. We shall have to begin
with the most simple and at the same time most fundamental problems.

We have first of all to afford the working class the very possibility
of living--though it be in the most difficult conditions--and thereby
to preserve our industrial centres and save the towns. This is the
point of departure. If we do not wish to melt the town into
agriculture, and transform the whole country into a peasant State, we
must support our transport, even at the minimum level, and secure
bread for the towns, fuel and raw materials for industry, fodder for
the cattle. Without this we shall not make one step forward.
Consequently, the first part of the plan comprises the improvement of
transport, or, in any case, the prevention of its further
deterioration and the preparation of the most necessary supplies of
food, raw materials, and fuel. The whole of the next period will be in
its entirety filled with the concentration and straining of
labor-power to solve these root problems; and only in this way shall
we lay the foundations for all that is to come. It was such a problem,
incidentally, that we put before our labor armies. Whether the first
or the following periods will be measured by months or by years, it is
fruitless at present to guess. This depends on many reasons, beginning
with the international situation and ending with the degree of
single-mindedness and steadfastness of the working class.

The second period is the period of machine-building in the interests
of transport and the storage of raw material and fuel. Here the core
is in the locomotive.

At the present time the repairing of locomotives is carried on in too
haphazard a fashion, swallowing up energies and resources beyond all
measure. We must reorganize the repairing of our rolling-stock, on the
basis of the mass production of spare parts. To-day, when the whole
network of the railways and the factories is in the hands of one
master, the Labor State, we can and must fix single types of
locomotives and trucks for the whole country, standardize their
constituent parts, draw all the necessary factories into the work of
the mass production of spare parts, reduce repairing to the simple
replacing of worn-out parts by new, and thereby make it possible to
build new locomotives on a mass scale out of spare parts.

Now that the sources of fuel and raw material are again open to us, we
must concentrate our exclusive attention on the building of

The third period will be one of machine-building in the interests of
the production of articles of primary necessity.

Finally, the fourth period, reposing on the conquests of the first
three, will allow us to begin the production of articles of personal
or secondary significance on the widest possible scale.

This plan has great significance, not only as a general guide for the
practical work of our economic organs, but also as a line along which
propaganda amongst the laboring masses in connection with our economic
problems is to proceed. Our labor mobilization will not enter into
real life, will not take root, if we do not excite the living interest
of all that is honest, class-conscious, and inspired in the working
class. We must explain to the masses the whole truth as to our
situation and as to our views for the future; we must tell them openly
that our economic plan, with the maximum of exertion on the part of
the workers, will neither to-morrow nor the day after give us a land
flowing with milk and honey: for during the first period our chief
work will consist in preparing the conditions for the production of
the means of production. Only after we have secured, though on the
smallest possible scale, the possibility of rebuilding the means of
transport and production, shall we pass on to the production of
articles for general consumption. In this way the fruit of their
labor, which is the direct object of the workers, in the shape of
articles for personal consumption, will arrive only in the last, the
fourth, stage of our economic plan; and only then shall we have a
serious improvement in our life. The masses, who for a prolonged
period will still bear all the weight of labor and of privation, must
realize to the full the inevitable internal logic of this economic
plan if they are to prove capable of carrying it out.

The sequence of the four economic periods outlined above must not be
understood too absolutely. We do not, of course, propose to bring
completely to a standstill our textile industry: we could not do this
for military considerations alone. But in order that our attention and
our forces should not be distracted under the pressure of requirements
and needs crying to us from all quarters, it is essential to make use
of the economic plan as the fundamental criterion, and separate the
important and the fundamental from the auxiliary and secondary.
Needless to say, under no circumstances are we striving for a narrow
"national" Communism: the raising of the blockade, and the European
revolution all the more, would introduce the most radical alterations
in our economic plan, cutting down the stages of its development and
bringing them together. But we do not know when these events will take
place; and we must act in such a way that we can hold out and become
stronger under the most unfavorable circumstances--that is to say, in
face of the slowest conceivable development of the European and the
world revolution. In case we are able actually to establish trading
relations with the capitalist countries, we shall again be guided by
the economic plan sketched above. We shall exchange part of our raw
material for locomotives or for necessary machines, but under no
circumstances for clothing, boots, or colonial products: our first
item is not articles of consumption, but the implements of transport
and production.

We should be short-sighted sceptics, and the most typical bourgeois
curmudgeons, if we imagined that the rebirth of our economic life will
take the form of a gradual transition from the present economic
collapse to the conditions that preceded that collapse, _i.e._,
that we shall reascend the same steps by which we descended, and only
after a certain, quite prolonged, period will be able to raise our
Socialist economy to the level at which it stood on the eve of the
imperialist war. Such a conception would not only be not consoling,
but absolutely incorrect. Economic collapse, which destroyed and broke
up in its path an incalculable quantity of values, also destroyed a
great deal that was poor and rotten, that was absolutely senseless;
and thereby it cleared the path for a new method of reconstruction,
corresponding to that technical equipment which world economy now

If Russian capitalism developed not from stage to stage, but leaping
over a series of stages, and instituted American factories in the
midst of primitive steppes, the more is such a forced march possible
for Socialist economy. After we have conquered our terrible misery,
have accumulated small supplies of raw material and food, and have
improved our transport, we shall be able to leap over a whole series
of intermediate stages, benefiting by the fact that we are not bound
by the chains of private property, and that therefore we are able to
subordinate all undertakings and all the elements of economic life to
a single State plan.

Thus, for example, we shall undoubtedly be able to enter the period of
electrification, in all the chief branches of industry and in the
sphere of personal consumption, without passing through "the age of
steam." The programme of electrification is already drawn up in a
series of logically consequent stages, corresponding to the
fundamental stages of the general economic plan.

A new war may slow down the realization of our economic intentions;
our energy and persistence can and must hasten the process of our
economic rebirth. But, whatever be the rate at which economic events
unfold themselves in the future, it is clear that at the foundation of
all our work--labor mobilization, militarization of labor, Subbotniks,
and other forms of Communist labor voluntarism--there must lie the
_single economic plan_. And the period that is upon us requires from
us the complete concentration of all our energies on the first
elementary problems: food, fuel, raw material, transport. _Not to
allow our attention to be distracted, not to dissipate our forces, not
to waste our energies._ Such is the sole road to salvation.


The Mensheviks attempt to dwell on yet another question which seems
favorable to their desire once again to ally themselves with the
working class. This is the question of the method of administration of
industrial enterprises--the question of the collegiate (board) or the
one-man principle. We are told that the transference of factories to
single directors instead of to a board is a crime against the working
class and the Socialist revolution. It is remarkable that the most
zealous defenders of the Socialist revolution against the principle of
one-man management are those same Mensheviks who quite recently still
considered that the idea of a Socialist revolution was an insult to
history and a crime against the working class.

The first who must plead guilty in the face of the Socialist
revolution is our Party Congress, which expressed itself in favor of
the principle of one-man management in the administration of industry,
and above all in the lowest grades, in the factories and plants. It
would be the greatest possible mistake, however, to consider this
decision as a blow to the independence of the working class. The
independence of the workers is determined and measured not by whether
three workers or one are placed at the head of a factory, but by
factors and phenomena of a such more profound character--the
construction of the economic organs with the active assistance of the
trade unions; the building up of all Soviet organs by means of the
Soviet congresses, representing tens of millions of workers; the
attraction into the work of administration, or control of
administration, of those who are administered. It is in such things
that the independence of the working class can be expressed. And if
the working class, on the foundation of its existence, comes through
its congresses, Soviet party and trade union, to the conclusion that
it is better to place one person at the head of a factory, and not a
board, it is making a decision dictated by the independence of the
working class. It may be correct or incorrect from the point of view
of the technique of administration, but it is not imposed upon the
proletariat, it is dictated by its own will and pleasure. It would
consequently be a most crying error to confuse the question as to the
supremacy of the proletariat with the question of boards of workers at
the head of factories. The dictatorship of the proletariat is
expressed in the abolition of private property in the means of
production, in the supremacy over the whole Soviet mechanism of the
collective will of the workers, and not at all in the form in which
individual economic enterprises are administered.

Here it is necessary to reply to another accusation directed against
the defenders of the one-man principle. Our opponents say: "This is
the attempt of the Soviet militarists to transfer their experience in
the military sphere to the sphere of economics. Possibly in the army
the one-man principle is satisfactory, but it does not suit economical
work." Such a criticism is incorrect in every way. It is untrue that
in the army we began with the one-man principle: even now we are far
from having completely adopted it. It is also untrue that in defence
of one-man forms of administration of our economic enterprises with
the attraction of experts, we took our stand only on the foundation of
our military experience. In reality, in this question we took our
stand, and continue to do so on purely Marxist views of the
revolutionary problems and creative duties of the proletariat when it
has taken power into its own hands. The necessity of making use of
technical knowledge and methods accumulated in the past, the necessity
of attracting experts and of making use of them on a wide scale, in
such a way that our technique should go not backwards but
forwards--all this was understood and recognized by us, not only from
the very beginning of the revolution, but even long before October. I
consider that if the civil war had not plundered our economic organs
of all that was strongest, most independent, most endowed with
initiative, we should undoubtedly have entered the path of one-man
management in the sphere of economic administration much sooner, and
much less painfully.

Some comrades look on the apparatus of industrial administration first
and foremost as on a school. This is, of course, absolutely erroneous.
The task of administration is to administer. If a man desires and is
able to learn administration, let him go to school, to the special
courses of instruction: let him go as an assistant, watching and
acquiring experience: but a man who is appointed to control a factory
is not going to school, but to a responsible post of economic
administration. And, even if we look at this question in the limited,
and therefore incorrect light of a "school," I will say that when the
one-man principle prevails the school is ten times better: because
just as you cannot replace one good worker by three immature workers,
similarly, having placed a board of three immature workers in a
responsible post, you deprive them of the possibility of realizing
their own defects. Each looks to the others when decisions are being
made, and blames the others when success is not forthcoming.

That this is not a question of principle for the opponents of the
one-man principle is shown best of all by their not demanding the
collegiate principle for the actual workshops, jobs, and pits. They
even say with indignation that only a madman can demand that a board
of three or five should manage a workshop. There must be one manager,
and one only. Why? If collegiate administration is a "school," why do
we not require an elementary school? Why should we not introduce
boards into the workshops? And, if the collegiate principle is not a
sacred gospel for the workshops, why is it compulsory for the

Abramovich said here that, as we have few experts--thanks to the
Bolsheviks, he repeats after Kautsky--we shall replace them by boards
of workers. That is nonsense. No board of persons who do not know the
given business can replace one man who knows it. A board of lawyers
will not replace one switchman. A board of patients will not replace
the doctor. The very idea is incorrect. A board in itself does not
give knowledge to the ignorant. It can only hide the ignorance of the
ignorant. If a person is appointed to a responsible administrative
post, he is under the watch, not only of others but of himself, and
sees clearly what he knows and what he does not know. But there is
nothing worse than a board of ignorant, badly-prepared workers
appointed to a purely practical post, demanding expert knowledge. The
members of the board are in a state of perpetual panic and mutual
dissatisfaction, and by their helplessness introduce hesitation and
chaos into all their work. The working class is very deeply interested
in raising its capacity for administration, that is, in being
educated; but this is attained in the sphere of industry by the
periodical report of the administrative body of a factory before the
whole factory, and the discussion of the economic plan for the year or
for the current month. All the workers who display serious interest in
the work of industrial organization are registered by the directors of
the undertaking, or by special commissions; are taken through
appropriate courses closely bound up with the practical work of the
factory itself; and are then appointed, first to less responsible, and
then to more responsible posts. In such a way we shall embrace many
thousands, and, in the future, tens of thousands. But the question of
"threes" and "fives" interests, not the laboring masses, but the more
backward, weaker, less fitted for independent work, section of the
Soviet labor bureaucracy. The foremost, intelligent, determined
administrator naturally strives to take the factory into his hands as
a whole, and to show both to himself and to others that he can carry
out his work. While if that administrator is a weakling, who does not
stand very steadily on his feet, he attempts to associate another with
himself, for in the company of another his own weakness will be
unnoticed. In such a collegiate principle there is a very dangerous
foundation--the extinction of personal responsibility. If a worker is
capable but not experienced, he naturally requires a guide: under his
control he will learn, and to-morrow we shall appoint him the foreman
of a little factory. That is the way by which he will go forward. In
an accidental board, in which the strength and the weakness of each
are not clear, the feeling of responsibility inevitably disappears.

Our resolution speaks of a systematic _approach_ to the one-man
principle--naturally, not by one stroke of the pen. Variants and
combinations are possible here. Where the worker can manage alone, let
us put him in charge of the factory and give him an expert as an
assistant. Where there is a good expert, let us put him in charge and
give him as assistants two or three of the workers. Finally, where a
"board" has in practice shown its capacity for work, let us preserve
it. This is the sole serious attitude to take up, and only in such a
way shall we reach the correct organization of production.

There is another consideration of a social and educational character
which seems to me most important. Our guiding layer of the working
class is too thin. That layer which knew underground work, which long
carried on the revolutionary struggle, which was abroad, which read
much in prisons and in exile, which had political experience and a
broad outlook, is the most precious section of the working class. Then
there is a younger generation which has consciously been making the
revolution, beginning with 1917. This is a very valuable section of
the working class. Wherever we cast our eye--on Soviet construction,
on the trade unions, on the front of the civil war--everywhere we find
the principal part being played by this upper layer of the
proletariat. The chief work of the Soviet Government during these two
and a half years consisted in manoeuvring and throwing the foremost
section of the workers from one front to another. The deeper layers of
the working class, which emerged from the peasant mass, are
revolutionarily inclined, but are still too poor in initiative. The
disease of our Russian peasant is the herd instinct, the absence of
personality: in other words, the same quality that used to be extolled
by our reactionary Populists, and that Leo Tolstoy extolled in the
character of Platon Karatayev: the peasant melting into his village
community, subjecting himself to the land. It is quite clear that
Socialist economy is founded not on Platon Karatayev, but on the
thinking worker endowed with initiative. That personal initiative it
is necessary to develop in the worker. The personal basis under the
bourgeoisie meant selfish individualism and competition. The personal
basis under the working class is in contradiction neither to
solidarity nor to brotherly co-operation. Socialist solidarity can
rely neither on absence of personality nor on the herd instinct. And
it is just absence of personality that is frequently hidden behind the
collegiate principle.

In the working class there are many forces, gifts, and talents. They
must be brought out and displayed in rivalry. The one-man principle in
the administrative and technical sphere assists this. That is why it
is higher and more fruitful than the collegiate principle.


Comrades, the arguments of the Menshevik orators, particularly of
Abramovich, reflect first of all their complete detachment from life
and its problems. An observer stands on the bank of a river which he
has to swim over, and deliberates on the qualities of the water and on
the strength of the current. He has to swim over: that is his task!
But our Kautskian stands first on one foot and then on the other. "We
do not deny," he says, "the necessity of swimming over, but at the
same time, as realists, we see the danger--and not only one, but
several: the current is swift, there are submerged stones, people are
tired, etc., etc. But when they tell you that we deny the very
necessity of swimming over, that is not true--no, not under any
circumstances. Twenty-three years ago we did not deny the necessity of
swimming over...."

And on this is built all, from beginning to end. First, say the
Mensheviks, we do not deny, and never did deny, the necessity of
self-defence: consequently we do not repudiate the army. Secondly, we
do not repudiate in principle general labor service. But, after all,
where is there anyone in the world, with the exception of small
religious sects, who denies self-defence "in principle"! Nevertheless,
the matter does not move one step forward as a result of your abstract
admission. When it came to a real struggle, and to the creation of a
real army against the real enemies of the working class, what did you
do then? You opposed, you sabotaged--while not repudiating
self-defence in principle. You said and wrote in your papers: "Down
with the civil war!" at the time when we were surrounded by White
Guards, and the knife was at our throat. Now you, approving our
victorious self-defence after the event, transfer your critical gaze
to new problems, and attempt to teach us. "In general, we do not
repudiate the principle of general labor service," you say, "but ...
without legal compulsion." Yet in these very words there is a
monstrous internal contradiction! The idea of "obligatory service"
itself includes the element of compulsion. A man is _obliged_, he
is bound to do something. If he does not do it, obviously he will
suffer compulsion, a penalty. Here we approach the question of what
penalty. Abramovich says: "Economic pressure, yes; but not legal
compulsion." Comrade Holtzman, the representative of the Metal
Workers' Union, excellently demonstrated all the scholasticism of this
idea. Even under the capitalism, that is to say under the regime of
"free" labor, economic pressure is inseparable from legal compulsion.
Still more so now.

In my report I attempted to explain that the adaptation of the workers
on new social foundations to new forms of labor, and the attainment of
a higher level of productivity of labor, are possible only by means of
the simultaneous application of various methods--economic interest,
legal compulsion, the influence of an internally co-ordinated economic
organization, the power of repression, and, first and last, moral
influence, agitation, propaganda, and the general raising of the
cultural level.

Only by the combination of all these methods can we attain a high
level of Socialist economy.

If even under capitalism economic interest is inevitably combined with
legal compulsion, behind which stands the material force of the State,
in the Soviet State--that is, the State of transition to Socialism--we
can draw no water-tight compartment at all between economic and legal
compulsion. All our most important industries are in the hands of the
State. When we say to the turner Ivanov, "You are bound at once to
work at the Sormovo factory; if you refuse, you will not receive your
ration," what are we to call it? Economic pressure or legal
compulsion? He cannot go to another factory, for all factories are in
the hands of the State, which will not allow such a change.
Consequently, economic pressure melts here into the pressure of State
compulsion. Abramovich apparently would like us, as regulators of the
distribution of labor-power, to make use only of such means as the
raising of wages, bonuses, etc., in order to attract the necessary
workers to our most important factories. Apparently that comprises all
his thoughts on the subject. But if we put the question in this way,
every serious worker in the trade union movement will understand it is
pure utopia. We cannot hope for a free influx of labor-power from the
market, for to achieve this the State would need to have in its hands
sufficiently extensive "reserves of manoeuvre," in the form of food,
housing, and transport, _i.e._, precisely those conditions which
we have yet only to create. Without systematically-organized
transference of labor-power on a mass scale, according to the demands
of the economic organization, we shall achieve nothing. Here the
moment of compulsion arises before us in all its force of economic
necessity. I read you a telegram from Ekaterinburg dealing with the
work of the First Labor Army. It says that there have passed through
the Ural Committee for Labor Service over 4,000 workers. Whence have
they appeared? Mainly from the former Third Army. They were not
allowed to go to their homes, but were sent where they were required.
From the army they were handed over to the Committee for Labor
Service, which distributed them according to their categories and sent
them to the factories. This, from the Liberal point of view, is
"violence" to the freedom of the individual. Yet an overwhelming
majority of the workers went willingly to the labor front, as hitherto
to the military, realizing that the common interest demanded this.
Part went against their will. These were compelled.

Naturally, it is quite clear that the State must, by means of the
bonus system, give the better workers better conditions of existence.
But this not only does not exclude, but on the contrary pre-supposes,
that the State and the trade unions--without which the Soviet State
will not build up industry--acquire new rights of some kind over the
worker. The worker does not merely bargain with the Soviet State: no,
he is subordinated to the Soviet State, under its orders in every
direction--for it is _his_ State.

"If," Abramovich says, "we were simply told that it is a question of
industrial discipline, there would be nothing to quarrel about; but
why introduce militarization?" Of course, to a considerable extent,
the question is one of the discipline of the trade unions; but of the
new discipline of new, _Productional_, trade unions. We live in a
Soviet country, where the working class is in power--a fact which our
Kautskians do not understand. When the Menshevik Rubtzov said that
there remained only the fragment of the trade union movement in my
report, there was a certain amount of truth in it. Of the trade
unions, as he understands them--that is to say, trade unions of the
old craft type--there in reality has remained very little; but the
industrial productional organization of the working class, in the
conditions of Soviet Russia, has the very greatest tasks before it.
What tasks? Of course, not the tasks involved in a struggle with the
State, in the name of the interests of labor; but tasks involved in
the construction, side by side with the State, of Socialist economy.
Such a form of union is in principle a new organization, which is
distinct, not only from the trade unions, but also from the
revolutionary industrial unions in bourgeois society, just as the
supremacy of the proletariat is distinct from the supremacy of the
bourgeoisie. The productional union of the ruling working class no
longer has the problems, the methods, the discipline, of the union for
struggle of an oppressed class. All our workers are _obliged_ to
enter the unions. The Mensheviks are against this. This is quite
comprehensible, because in reality they are against the
_dictatorship of the proletariat_. It is to this, in the long
run, that the whole question is reduced. The Kautskians are against
the dictatorship of the proletariat, and are thereby against all its
consequences. Both economic and political compulsion are only forms of
the expression of the dictatorship of the working class in two closely
connected regions. True, Abramovich demonstrated to us most learnedly
that under Socialism there will be no compulsion, that the principle
of compulsion contradicts Socialism, that under Socialism we shall be
moved by the feeling of duty, the habit of working, the attractiveness
of labor, etc., etc. This is unquestionable. Only this unquestionable
truth must be a little extended. In point of fact, under Socialism
there will not exist the apparatus of compulsion itself, namely, the
State: for it will have melted away entirely into a producing and
consuming commune. None the less, the road to Socialism lies through a
period of the highest possible intensification of the principle of the
State. And you and I are just passing through that period. Just as a
lamp, before going out, shoots up in a brilliant flame, so the State,
before disappearing, assumes the form of the dictatorship of the
proletariat, _i.e._, the most ruthless form of State, which
embraces the life of the citizens authoritatively in every direction.
Now just that insignificant little fact--that historical step of the
State dictatorship--Abramovich, and in his person the whole of
Menshevism, did not notice; and consequently, he has fallen over it.

No organization except the army has ever controlled man with such
severe compulsion as does the State organization of the working class
in the most difficult period of transition. It is just for this reason
that we speak of the militarization of labor. The fate of the
Mensheviks is to drag along at the tail of events, and to recognize
those parts of the revolutionary programme which have already had time
to lose all practical significance. To-day the Mensheviks, albeit with
reservations, do not deny the lawfulness of stern measures with the
White Guards and with deserters from the Red Army: they have been
forced to recognize this after their own lamentable experiments with
"democracy." They have to all appearances understood--very late in the
day--that, when one is face to face with the counter-revolutionary
bands, one cannot live by phrases about the great truth that under
Socialism we shall need no Red Terror. But in the economic sphere, the
Mensheviks still attempt to refer us to our sons, and particularly to
our grandsons. None the less, we have to rebuild our economic life
to-day, without waiting, under circumstances of a very painful
heritage from bourgeois society and a yet unfinished civil war.

Menshevism, like all Kautskianism generally, is drowned in democratic
analogies and Socialist abstractions. Again and again it has been
shown that for it there do not exist the problems of the transitional
period, _i.e._, of the proletarian revolution. Hence the lifelessness
of its criticism, its advice, its plans, and its recipes. The question
is not what is going to happen in twenty or thirty years' time--at
that date, of course, things will be much better--but of how to-day to
struggle out of our ruins, how immediately to distribute labor-power,
how to-day to raise the productivity of labor, and how, in particular,
to act in the case of those 4,000 skilled workers whom we combed out
of the army in the Ural. To dismiss them to the four corners of the
earth, saying "seek for better conditions where you can find them,
comrades"? No, we could not act in this way. We put them into military
echelons, and distributed them amongst the factories and the works.

"Wherein, then, does your Socialism," Abramovich cries, "differ from
Egyptian slavery? It was just by similar methods that the Pharaohs
built the pyramids, forcing the masses to labor." Truly an inimitable
analogy for a "Socialist"! Once again the little insignificant fact
has been forgotten--the class nature of the government! Abramovich
sees no difference between the Egyptian regime and our own. He has
forgotten that in Egypt there were Pharaohs, there were slave-owners
and slaves. It was not the Egyptian peasants who decided through their
Soviets to build the pyramids; there existed a social order based upon
hierarchial caste; and the workers were obliged to toil by a class
that was hostile to them. Our compulsion is applied by a workers' and
peasants' government, in the name of the interests of the laboring
masses. That is what Abramovich has not observed. We learn in the
school of Socialism that all social evolution is founded on classes
and their struggle, and all the course of human life is determined by
the fact of what class stands at the head of affairs, and in the name
of what caste is applying its policy. That is what Abramovich has not
grasped. Perhaps he is well acquainted with the Old Testament, but
Socialism is for him a book sealed with seven seals.

Going along the path of shallow Liberal analogies, which do not reckon
with the class nature of the State, Abramovich might (and in the past
the Mensheviks did more than once) identify the Red and the White
Armies. Both here and there went on mobilizations, principally of the
peasant masses. Both here and there the element of compulsion has its
place. Both here and there there were not a few officers who had
passed through one and the same school of Tsarism. The same rifles,
the same cartridges in both camps. Where is the difference? There is a
difference, gentlemen, and it is defined by a fundamental test: who is
in power? The working class or the landlord class, Pharaohs or
peasants, White Guards or the Petrograd proletariat? There is a
difference, and evidence on the subject is furnished by the fate of
Yudenich, Kolchak, and Denikin. Our peasants were mobilized by the
workers; in Kolchak's camp, by the White Guard officer class. Our army
has pulled itself together, and has grown strong; the White Army has
fallen asunder in dust. Yes, there is a difference between the Soviet
regime and the regime of the Pharaohs. And it is not in vain that the
Petrograd proletarians began their revolution by shooting the Pharaohs
on the steeples of Petrograd.[10]

          [10] This was the name given to the imperial police, whom
          the Minister for Home Affairs, Protopopoff, distributed at
          the end of February, 1917, over the roofs of houses and in
          the belfries.

One of the Menshevik orators attempted incidentally to represent me as
a defender of militarism in general. According to his information, it
appears, do you see, that I am defending nothing more or less than
German militarism. I proved, you must understand, that the German
N.C.O. was a marvel of nature, and all that he does is above
criticism. What did I say in reality? Only that militarism, in which
all the features of social evolution find their most finished, sharp,
and clear expression, could be examined from two points of view. First
from the political or Socialist--and here it depends entirely on the
question of what class is in power; and secondly, from the point of
view of organization, as a system of the strict distribution of
duties, exact mutual relations, unquestioning responsibility, and
harsh insistence on execution. The bourgeois army is the apparatus of
savage oppression and repression of the workers; the Socialist army is
a weapon for the liberation and defence of the workers. But the
unquestioning subordination of the parts to the whole is a
characteristic common to every army. A severe internal regime is
inseparable from the military organization. In war every piece of
slackness, every lack of thoroughness, and even a simple mistake, not
infrequently bring in their train the most heavy sacrifices. Hence the
striving of the military organization to bring clearness,
definiteness, exactness of relations and responsibilities, to the
highest degree of development. "Military" qualities in this connection
are valued in every sphere. It was in this sense that I said that
every class prefers to have in its service those of its members who,
other things being equal, have passed through the military school. The
German peasant, for example, who has passed out of the barracks in the
capacity of an N.C.O. was for the German monarchy, and remains for the
Ebert Republic, much dearer and more valuable than the same peasant
who has not passed through military training. The apparatus of the
German railways was splendidly organized, thanks to a considerable
degree to the employment of N.C.O.'s and officers in administrative
posts in the transport department. In this sense we also have
something to learn from militarism. Comrade Tsiperovich, one of our
foremost trade union leaders, admitted here that the trade union
worker who has passed through military training--who has, for example,
occupied the responsible post of regimental commissary for a
year--does not become worse from the point of view of trade union work
as a result. He is returned to the union the same proletarian from
head to foot, for he was fighting for the proletariat; but he has
returned a veteran--hardened, more independent, more decisive--for he
has been in very responsible positions. He had occasions to control
several thousands of Red soldiers of different degrees of
class-consciousness--most of them peasants. Together with them he has
lived through victories and reverses, he has advanced and retreated.
There were cases of treachery on the part of the command personnel, of
peasant risings, of panic--but he remained at his post, he held
together the less class-conscious mass, directed it, inspired it with
his example, punished traitors and cowards. This experience is a great
and valuable experience. And when a former regimental commissary
returns to his trade union, he becomes not a bad organizer.

On the question of the _collegiate principle_, the arguments of
Abramovich are just as lifeless as on all other questions--the
arguments of a detached observer standing on the bank of a river.

Abramovich explained to us that a good board is better than a bad
manager, that into a good board there must enter a good expert. All
this is splendid--only why do not the Mensheviks offer us several
hundred boards? I think that the Supreme Economic Council will find
sufficient use for them. But we--not observers, but workers--must
build from the material at our disposal. We have specialists, we have
experts, of whom, shall we say, one-third are conscientious and
educated, another third only half-conscientious and half-educated, and
the last third are no use at all. In the working class there are many
talented, devoted, and energetic people. Some--unfortunately few--have
already the necessary knowledge and experience. Some have character
and capacity, but have not knowledge or experience. Others have
neither one nor the other. Out of this material we have to create our
factory and other administrative bodies; and here we cannot be
satisfied with general phrases. First of all, we must select all the
workers who have already in experience shown that they can direct
enterprises, and give such men the possibility of standing on their
own feet. Such men themselves ask for one-man management, because the
work of controlling a factory is not a school for the backward. A
worker who knows his business thoroughly desires to _control_. If
he has decided and ordered, his decision must be accomplished. He may
be replaced--that is another matter; but while he is the master--the
Soviet, proletarian master--he controls the undertaking entirely and
completely. If he has to be included in a board of weaker men, who
interfere in the administration, nothing will come of it. Such a
working-class administrator must be given an expert assistant, one or
two according to the enterprise. If there is no suitable working-class
administrator, but there is a conscientious and trained expert, we
shall put him at the head of an enterprise, and attach to him two or
three prominent workers in the capacity of assistants, in such a way
that every decision of the expert should be known to the assistants,
but that they should not have the right to reverse that decision. They
will, step by step, follow the specialist in his work, will learn
something, and in six months or a year will thus be able to occupy
independent posts.

Abramovich quoted from my own speech the example of the hairdresser
who has commanded a division and an army. True! But what, however,
Abramovich does not know is that, if our Communist comrades have
begun to command regiments, divisions, and armies, it is because
previously they were commissaries attached to expert commanders.
The responsibility fell on the expert, who knew that, if he made a
mistake, he would bear the full brunt, and would not be able to say
that he was only an "adviser" or a "member of the board." To-day in
our army the majority of the posts of command, particularly in the
lower--_i.e._, politically the most important--grades, are filled
by workers and foremost peasants. But with what did we begin? We put
officers in the posts of command, and attached to them workers as
commissaries; and they learned, and learned with success, and learned
to beat the enemy.

Comrades, we stand face to face with a very difficult period, perhaps
the most difficult of all. To difficult periods in the life of peoples
and classes there correspond harsh measures. The further we go the
easier things will become, the freer every citizen will feel, the more
imperceptible will become the compelling force of the proletarian
State. Perhaps we shall then even allow the Mensheviks to have papers,
if only the Mensheviks remain in existence until that time. But
to-day we are living in the period of dictatorship, political and
economic. And the Mensheviks continue to undermine that dictatorship.
When we are fighting on the civil front, preserving the revolution
from its enemies, and the Menshevik paper writes: "Down with the
civil war," we cannot permit this. A dictatorship is a dictatorship,
and war is war. And now that we have crossed to the path of the
greatest concentration of forces on the field of the economic rebirth
of the country, the Russian Kautskies, the Mensheviks, remain true to
their counter-revolutionary calling. Their voice, as hitherto, sounds
as the voice of doubt and decomposition, of disorganization and
undermining, of distrust and collapse.

Is it not monstrous and grotesque that, at this Congress, at which
1,500 representatives of the Russian working class are present, where
the Mensheviks constitute less than 5%, and the Communists about 90%,
Abramovich should say to us: "Do not be attracted by methods which
result in a little band taking the place of the people." "All through
the people," says the representative of the Mensheviks, "no guardians
of the laboring masses! All through the laboring masses, through their
independent activity!" And, further, "It is impossible to convince a
class by arguments." Yet look at this very hall: here is that class!
The working class is here before you, and with us; and it is just you,
an insignificant band of Mensheviks, who are attempting to convince it
by bourgeois arguments! It is you who wish to be the guardians of that
class. And yet it has its own high degree of independence, and that
independence, it has displayed, incidentally, in having overthrown you
and gone forward along its own path!



The Austro-Marxian school (Bauer, Renner, Hilferding, Max Adler,
Friedrich Adler) in the past more than once was contrasted with the
school of Kautsky, as veiled opportunism might be contrasted with true
Marxism. This has proved to be a pure historical misunderstanding,
which deceived some for a long time, some for a lesser period, but
which in the end was revealed with all possible clearness. Kautsky is
the founder and the most perfect representative of the Austrian
forgery of Marxism. While the real teaching of Marx is the theoretical
formula of action, of attack, of the development of revolutionary
energy, and of the carrying of the class blow to its logical
conclusion, the Austrian school was transformed into an academy of
passivity and evasiveness, because of a vulgar historical and
conservative school, and reduced its work to explaining and
justifying, not guiding and overthrowing. It lowered itself to the
position of a hand-maid to the current demands of parliamentarism and
opportunism, replaced dialectic by swindling sophistries, and, in the
end, in spite of its great play with ritual revolutionary phraseology,
became transformed into the most secure buttress of the capitalist
State, together with the altar and throne that rose above it. If the
latter was engulfed in the abyss, no blame for this can be laid upon
the Austro-Marxian school.

What characterizes Austro-Marxism is repulsion and fear in the face of
revolutionary action. The Austro-Marxist is capable of displaying a
perfect gulf of profundity in the explanation of yesterday, and
considerable daring in prophesying concerning to-morrow--but for
to-day he never has a great thought or capacity for great action.
To-day for him always disappears before the wave of little opportunist
worries, which later are explained as the most inevitable link between
the past and the future.

The Austro-Marxist is inexhaustible when it is a question of
discovering reasons to prevent initiative and render difficult
revolutionary action. Austro-Marxism is a learned and boastful theory
of passivity and capitulation. Naturally, it is not by accident that
it was just in Austria, in that Babylon torn by fruitless national
antagonisms, in that State which represented the personified
impossibility to exist and develop, that there arose and was
consolidated the pseudo-Marxian philosophy of the impossibility of
revolutionary action.

The foremost Austrian Marxists represent, each in his own way, a
certain "individuality." On various questions they more than once did
not see eye to eye. They even had political differences. But in
general they are fingers of the same hand.

_Karl Renner_ is the most pompous, solid, and conceited representative
of this type. The gift of literary imitation, or, more simply, of
stylist forgery, is granted to him to an exceptional extent. His
May Day article represented a charming combination of the most
revolutionary words. And, as both words and their combinations live,
within certain limits, with their own independent life, Renner's
articles awakened in the hearts of many workers a revolutionary
fire which their author apparently never knew. The tinsel of
Austro-Viennese culture, the chase of the external, of title of rank,
was more characteristic of Renner than of his other colleagues. In
essence he always remained merely an imperial and royal officer, who
commanded Marxist phraseology to perfection.

The transformation of the author of the jubilee article on Karl Marx,
famous for its revolutionary pathos, into a comic-opera-Chancellor,
who expresses his feelings of respect and thanks to the Scandinavian
monarchs, is in reality one of the most instructive paradoxes of

_Otto Bauer_ is more learned and prosaic, more serious and more
boring, than Renner. He cannot be denied the capacity to read books,
collect facts, and draw conclusions adapted to the tasks imposed upon
him by practical politics, which in turn are guided by others. Bauer
has no political will. His chief art is to reply to all acute
practical questions by commonplaces. His political thought always
lives a parallel life to his will--it is deprived of all courage. His
words are always merely the scientific compilation of the talented
student of a University seminar. The most disgraceful actions of
Austrian opportunism, the meanest servility before the power of the
possessing classes on the part of the Austro-German Social-Democracy,
found in Bauer their grave elucidator, who sometimes expressed himself
with dignity against the form, but always agreed in the essence. If it
ever occurred to Bauer to display anything like temperament and
political energy, it was exclusively in the struggle against the
revolutionary wing--in the accumulation of arguments, facts,
quotations, _against_ revolutionary action. His highest period
was that (after 1907) in which, being as yet too young to be a deputy,
he played the part of secretary of the Social-Democratic group,
supplied it with materials, figures, substitutes for ideas, instructed
it, drew up memoranda, and appeared almost to be the inspirer of great
actions, when in reality he was only supplying substitutes, and
adulterated substitutes, for the parliamentary opportunists.

_Max Adler_ represents a fairly ingenuous variety of the Austro-Marxian
type. He is a lyric poet, a philosopher, a mystic--a philosophical
lyric poet of passivity, as Renner is its publicist and legal expert,
as Hilferding is its economist, as Bauer is its sociologist. Max Adler
is cramped in a world of three dimensions, although he had found a
very comfortable place for himself with the framework of Viennese
bourgeois Socialism and the Hapsburg State. The combination of the
petty business activity of an attorney and of political humiliation,
together with barren philosophical efforts and the cheap tinsel
flowers of idealism, have imbued that variety which Max Adler
represented with a sickening and repulsive quality.

_Rudolf Hilferding_, a Viennese like the rest, entered the German
Social-Democratic Party almost as a mutineer, but as a mutineer of the
Austrian stamp, _i.e._, always ready to capitulate without a fight.
Hilferding took the external mobility and bustle of the Austrian
policy which brought him up for revolutionary initiative; and for a
round dozen of months he demanded--true, in the most moderate terms--a
more intelligent policy on the part of the leaders of the German
Social-Democracy. But the Austro-Viennese bustle swiftly disappeared
from his own nature. He soon became subjected to the mechanical
rhythm of Berlin and the automatic spiritual life of the German
Social-Democracy. He devoted his intellectual energy to the purely
theoretical sphere, where he did not say a great deal, true--no
Austro-Marxist has ever said a great deal in any sphere--but in which
he did, at any rate, write a serious book. With this book on his back,
like a porter with a heavy load, he entered the revolutionary epoch.
But the most scientific book cannot replace the absence of will, of
initiative, of revolutionary instinct and political decision, without
which action is inconceivable. A doctor by training, Hilferding is
inclined to sobriety, and, in spite of his theoretical education, he
represents the most primitive type of empiricist in questions of
policy. The chief problem of to-day is for him not to leave the lines
laid down for him by yesterday, and to find for this conservative and
bourgeois apathy a scientific, economic explanation.

_Friedrich Adler_ is the most balanced representative of the
Austro-Marxian type. He has inherited from his father the latter's
political temperament. In the petty exhausting struggle with the
disorder of Austrian conditions, Friedrich Adler allowed his ironical
scepticism finally to destroy the revolutionary foundations of his
world outlook. The temperament inherited from his father more than
once drove him into opposition to the school created by his father. At
certain moments Friedrich Adler might seem the very revolutionary
negation of the Austrian school. In reality, he was and remains its
necessary coping-stone. His explosive revolutionism foreshadowed acute
attacks of despair amidst Austrian opportunism, which from time to
time became terrified at its own insignificance.

Friedrich Adler is a sceptic from head to foot: he does not believe in
the masses, or in their capacity for action. At the time when Karl
Liebknecht, in the hour of supreme triumph of German militarism, went
out to the Potsdamerplatz to call the oppressed masses to the open
struggle, Friedrich Adler went into a bourgeois restaurant to
assassinate there the Austrian Premier. By his solitary shot,
Friedrich Adler vainly attempted to put an end to his own scepticism.
After that hysterical strain, he fell into still more complete

The black-and-yellow crew of social-patriotism (Austerlitz, Leitner,
etc.) hurled at Adler the terrorist all the abuse of which the
cowardly sentiments were capable.

But when the acute period was passed, and the prodigal son returned
from his convict prison into his father's house with the halo of a
martyr, he proved to be doubly and trebly valuable in that form for
the Austrian Social-Democracy. The golden halo of the terrorist was
transformed by the experienced counterfeiters of the party into the
sounding coin of the demagogue. Friedrich Adler became a trusted
surety for the Austerlitzes and Renners in face of the masses.
Happily, the Austrian workers are coming less and less to distinguish
the sentimental lyrical prostration of Friedrich Adler from the
pompous shallowness of Renner, the erudite impotence of Max Adler, or
the analytical self-satisfaction of Otto Bauer.

The cowardice in thought of the theoreticians of the Austro-Marxian
school has completely and wholly been revealed when faced with the
great problems of a revolutionary epoch. In his immortal attempt to
include the Soviet system in the Ebert-Noske Constitution, Hilferding
gave voice not only to his own spirit but to the spirit of the whole
Austro-Marxian school, which, with the approach of the revolutionary
epoch, made an attempt to become exactly as much more Left than
Kautsky as before the revolution it was more Right. From this point of
view, Max Adler's view of the Soviet system is extremely instructive.

The Viennese eclectic philosopher admits the significance of the
Soviets. His courage goes so far that he adopts them. He even
proclaims them the apparatus of the Social Revolution. Max Adler, of
course, is for a social revolution. But not for a stormy, barricaded,
terrorist, bloody revolution, but for a sane, economically balanced,
legally canonized, and philosophically approved revolution.

Max Adler is not even terrified by the fact that the Soviets infringe
the "principle" of the constitutional separation of powers (in the
Austrian Social-Democracy there are many fools who see in such an
infringement a great defect of the Soviet System!). On the contrary,
Max Adler, the trade union lawyer and legal adviser of the social
revolution, sees in the concentration of powers even an advantage,
which allows the direct expression of the proletarian will. Max Adler
is in favor of the direct expression of the proletarian will; but only
not by means of the direct seizure of power through the Soviets. He
proposes a more solid method. In each town, borough, and ward, the
Workers' Councils must "control" the police and other officials,
imposing upon them the "proletarian will." What, however, will be the
"constitutional" position of the Soviets in the republic of Zeiz,
Renner and company? To this our philosopher replies: "The Workers'
Councils in the long run will receive as much constitutional power as
they acquire by means of their own activity." (_Arbeiterzeitung_,
No. 179, July 1, 1919.)

The proletarian Soviets must gradually _grow up_ into the political
power of the proletariat, just as previously, in the theories of
reformism, all the proletarian organizations had to grow up into
Socialism; which consummation, however, was a little hindered by the
unforeseen misunderstandings, lasting four years, between the Central
Powers and the Entente--and all that followed. It was found necessary
to reject the economical programme of a gradual development into
Socialism without a social revolution. But, as a reward, there opened
the perspective of the gradual development of the Soviets into the
social revolution, without an armed rising and a seizure of power.

In order that the Soviets should not sink entirely under the burden of
borough and ward problems, our daring legal adviser proposes the
propaganda of social-democratic ideas! Political power remains as
before in the hands of the bourgeoisie and its assistants. But in the
wards and the boroughs the Soviets control the policemen and their
assistants. And, to console the working class and at the same time to
centralize its thought and will, Max Adler on Sunday afternoons will
read lectures on the constitutional position of the Soviets, as in the
past he read lectures on the constitutional position of the trade

"In this way," Max Adler promises, "the constitutional regulation of
the position of the Workers Councils, and their power and importance,
would be guaranteed along the whole line of public and social life;
and--without the dictatorship of the Soviets--the Soviet system would
acquire as large an influence as it could possibly have even in a
Soviet republic. At the same time we should not have to pay for that
influence by political storms and economic destruction" (idem). As we
see, in addition to all his other qualities, Max Adler remains still
in agreement with the Austrian tradition: to make a revolution without
quarrelling with his Excellency the Public Prosecutor.

                 *       *       *       *       *

The founder of this school, and its highest authority, is Kautsky.
Carefully protecting, particularly after the Dresden party congress
and the first Russian Revolution, his reputation as the keeper of the
shrine of Marxist orthodoxy, Kautsky from time to time would shake his
head in disapproval of the more compromising outbursts of his Austrian
school. And, following the example of the late Victor Adler, Bauer,
Renner, Hilferding--altogether and each separately--considered Kautsky
too pedantic, too inert, but a very reverend and a very useful father
and teacher of the church of quietism.

Kautsky began to cause serious mistrust in his own school during the
period of his revolutionary culmination, at the time of the first
Russian Revolution, when he recognized as necessary the seizure of
power by the Russian Social-Democracy, and attempted to inoculate the
German working class with his theoretical conclusions from the
experience of the general strike in Russia. The collapse of the first
Russian Revolution at once broke off Kautsky's evolution along the
path of radicalism. The more plainly was the question of mass action
in Germany itself put forward by the course of events, the more
evasive became Kautsky's attitude. He marked time, retreated, lost his
confidence; and the pedantic and scholastic features of his thought
more and more became apparent. The imperialist war, which killed every
form of vagueness and brought mankind face to face with the most
fundamental questions, exposed all the political bankruptcy of
Kautsky. He immediately became confused beyond all hope of
extrication, in the most simple question of voting the War Credits.
All his writings after that period represent variations of one and the
same theme: "I and my muddle." The Russian Revolution finally slew
Kautsky. By all his previous development he was placed in a hostile
attitude towards the November victory of the proletariat. This
unavoidably threw him into the camp of the counter-revolution. He lost
the last traces of historical instinct. His further writings have
become more and more like the yellow literature of the bourgeois

Kautsky's book, examined by us, bears in its external characteristics
all the attributes of a so-called objective scientific study. To
examine the extent of the Red Terror, Kautsky acts with all the
circumstantial method peculiar to him. He begins with the study of the
social conditions which prepared the great French Revolution, and also
the physiological and social conditions which assisted the development
of cruelty and humanity throughout the history of the human race. In a
book devoted to Bolshevism, in which the whole question is examined in
234 pages, Kautsky describes in detail on what our most remote human
ancestor fed, and hazards the guess that, while living mainly on
vegetable products, he devoured also insects and possibly a few birds.
(See page 122.) In a word, there was nothing to lead us to expect that
from such an entirely respectable ancestor--one obviously inclined to
vegetarianism--there should spring such descendants as the Bolsheviks.
That is the solid scientific basis on which Kautsky builds the

But, as is not infrequent with productions of this nature, there is
hidden behind the academic and scholastic cloak a malignant political
pamphlet. This book is one of the most lying and conscienceless of its
kind. Is it not incredible, at first glance, that Kautsky should
gather up the most contemptible stories about the Bolsheviks from the
rich table of Havas, Reuter and Wolff, thereby displaying from under
his learned night-cap the ears of the sycophant? Yet these
disreputable details are only mosaic decorations on the fundamental
background of solid, scientific lying about the Soviet Republic and
its guiding party.

Kautsky depicts in the most sinister colors our savagery towards the
bourgeoisie, which "displayed no tendency to resist."

Kautsky attacks our ruthlessness in connection with the Socialist
Revolutionaries and the Mensheviks, who represent "shades" of


Kautsky represents the Soviet workers, and the Russian working class
as a whole, as a conglomeration of egoists, loafers, and cowards.

He does not say one word about the conduct of the Russian bourgeoisie,
unprecedented in history for the magnitude of its scoundrelism;
about its national treachery; about the surrender of Riga to the
Germans, with "educational" aims; about the preparations for a
similar surrender of Petrograd; about its appeals to foreign
armies--Czecho-Slovakian, German, Roumanian, British, Japanese,
French, Arab and Negro--against the Russian workers and peasants;
about its conspiracies and assassinations, paid for by Entente money;
about its utilization of the blockade, not only to starve our children
to death, but systematically, tirelessly, persistently to spread over
the whole world an unheard-of web of lies and slander.

He does not say one word about the most disgraceful misrepresentations
of and violence to our party on the part of the government of the
S.R.s and Mensheviks before the November Revolution; about the
criminal persecution of several thousand responsible workers of the
party on the charge of espionage in favor of Hohenzollern Germany;
about the participation of the Mensheviks and S.R.s in all the plots
of the bourgeoisie; about their collaboration with the imperial
generals and admirals, Kolchak, Denikin and Yudenich; about the
terrorist acts carried out by the S.R.s at the order of the Entente;
about the risings organized by the S.R.s with the money of the foreign
missions in our army, which was pouring out its blood in the struggle
against the monarchical bands of imperialism.

Kautsky does not say one word about the fact that we not only repeated
more than once, but proved in reality our readiness to give peace to
the country, even at the cost of sacrifices and concessions, and that,
in spite of this, we were obliged to carry on an intensive struggle on
all fronts to defend the very existence of our country, and to prevent
its transformation into a colony of Anglo-French imperialism.

Kautsky does not say one word about the fact that in this heroic
struggle, in which we are defending the future of world Socialism, the
Russian proletariat is obliged to expend its principal energies, its
best and most valuable forces, taking them away from economic and
cultural reconstruction.

In all his book, Kautsky does not even mention the fact that first of
all German militarism, with the help of its Scheidemanns and the
apathy of its Kautskies, and then the militarism of the Entente
countries with the help of its Renaudels and the apathy of its
Longuets, surrounded us with an iron blockade; seized all our ports;
cut us off from the whole of the world; occupied, with the help of
hired White bands, enormous territories, rich in raw materials; and
separated us for a long period from the Baku oil, the Donetz coal, the
Don and Siberian corn, the Turkestan cotton.

Kautsky does not say one word about the fact that in these conditions,
unprecedented for their difficulty, the Russian working class for
nearly three years has been carrying on a heroic struggle against its
enemies on a front of 8,000 versts; that the Russian working class
learned how to exchange its hammer for the sword, and created a mighty
army; that for this army it mobilized its exhausted industry and, in
spite of the ruin of the country, which the executioners of the whole
world had condemned to blockade and civil war, for three years with
its own forces and resources it has been clothing, feeding, arming,
transporting an army of millions--an army which has learned how to

About all these conditions Kautsky is silent, in a book devoted to
Russian Communism. And his silence is the fundamental, capital,
principal lie--true, a passive lie, but more criminal and more
repulsive than the active lie of all the scoundrels of the
international bourgeois Press taken together.

Slandering the policy of the Communist Party, Kautsky says nowhere
what he himself wants and what he proposes. The Bolsheviks were not
alone in the arena of the Russian Revolution. We saw and see in
it--now in power, now in opposition--S.R.s (not less than five groups
and tendencies), Mensheviks (not less than three tendencies),
Plekhanovists, Maximalists, Anarchists.... Absolutely all the "shades
of Socialism" (to speak in Kautsky's language) tried their hand, and
showed what they would and what they could. There are so many of these
"shades" that it is difficult now to pass the blade of a knife between
them. The very origin of these "shades" is not accidental: they
represent, so to speak, different degrees in the adaptation of the
pre-revolutionary Socialist parties and groups to the conditions of
the greater revolutionary epoch. It would seem that Kautsky had a
sufficiently complete political keyboard before him to be able to
strike the note which would give a true Marxian key to the Russian
Revolution. But Kautsky is silent. He repudiates the Bolshevik melody
that is unpleasant to his ear, but does not seek another. The solution
is simple: _the old musician refuses altogether to play on the
instrument of the revolution_.



This book appears at the moment of the Second Congress of the
Communist International. The revolutionary movement of the proletariat
has made, during the months that have passed since the First Congress,
a great step forward. The positions of the official, open
social-patriots have everywhere been undermined. The ideas of
Communism acquire an ever wider extension. Official dogmatized
Kautskianism has been gradually compromised. Kautsky himself, within
that "Independent" Party which he created, represents to-day a not
very authoritative and a fairly ridiculous figure.

None the less, the intellectual struggle in the ranks of the
international working class is only now blazing up as it should. If,
as we just said, dogmatized Kautskianism is breathing its last days,
and the leaders of the intermediate Socialist parties are hastening to
renounce it, still Kautskianism as a bourgeois attitude, as a
tradition of passivity, as political cowardice, still plays an
enormous part in the upper ranks of the working-class organizations of
the world, in no way excluding parties tending to the Third
International, and even formally adhering to it.

The Independent Party in Germany, which has written on its banner the
watchword of the dictatorship of the proletariat, tolerates in its
ranks the Kautsky group, all the efforts of which are devoted
theoretically to compromise and misrepresent the dictatorship of the
proletariat in the shape of its living expression--the Soviet regime.
In conditions of civil war, such a form of co-habitation is
conceivable only and to such an extent as far and as long as the
dictatorship of the proletariat represents for the leaders of the
"Independent" Social-Democracy a noble aspiration, a vague protest
against the open and disgraceful treachery of Noske, Ebert,
Scheidemann and others, and--last but not least--a weapon of electoral
and parliamentary demagogy.

The vitality of vague Kautskianism is most clearly seen in the example
of the French Longuetists. Jean Longuet himself has most sincerely
convinced himself, and has for long been attempting to convince
others, that he is marching in step with us, and that only
Clemenceau's censorship and the calumnies of our French friends
Loriot, Monatte, Rosmer, and others hinder our comradship in arms. Yet
is it sufficient to make oneself acquainted with any parliamentary
speech of Longuet's to realize that the gulf separating him from us at
the present moment is possibly still wider than at the first period of
the imperialist war? The revolutionary problems now arising before the
international proletariat have become more serious, more immediate,
more gigantic, more direct, more definite, than five or six years ago;
and the politically reactionary character of the Longuetists, the
parliamentary representatives of eternal passivity, has become more
impressive than ever before, in spite of the fact that formally they
have returned to the fold of parliamentary opposition.

The Italian Party, which is within the Third International, is not at
all free from Kautskianism. As far as the leaders are concerned, a
very considerable part of them bear their internationalist honors only
as a duty and as an imposition from below. In 1914-1915, the Italian
Socialist Party found it infinitely more easy than did the other
European parties to maintain an attitude of opposition to the war,
both because Italy entered the war nine months later than other
countries, and particularly because the international position of
Italy created in it even a powerful bourgeois group (Giolittians in
the widest sense of the word) which remained to the very last moment
hostile to Italian intervention in the war.

These conditions allowed the Italian Socialist Party, without the fear
of a very profound internal crisis to refuse war credits to the
Government, and generally to remain outside the interventionist block.
But by this very fact the process of internal cleansing of the party
proved to be unquestionably delayed. Although an integral part of the
Third International, the Italian Socialist Party to this very day can
put up with Turati and his supporters in its ranks. This very powerful
group--unfortunately we find it difficult to define to any extent of
accuracy its numerical significance in the parliamentary group, in the
press, in the party, and in the trade union organizations--represents
a less pedantic, not so demagogic, more declamatory and lyrical, but
none the less malignant opportunism--a form of romantic Kautskianism.

A passive attitude to the Kautskian, Longuetist, Turatist groups is
usually cloaked by the argument that the time for revolutionary
activity in the respective countries has not yet arrived. But such a
formulation of the question is absolutely false. Nobody demands from
Socialists striving for Communism that they should appoint a
revolutionary outbreak for a definite week or month in the near
future. What the Third International demands of its supporters is a
recognition, not in words but in deeds, that civilized humanity has
entered a revolutionary epoch; that all the capitalist countries are
speeding towards colossal disturbances and an open class war; and that
the task of the revolutionary representatives of the proletariat is to
prepare for that inevitable and approaching war the necessary
spiritual armory and buttress of organization. The internationalists
who consider it possible at the present time to collaborate with
Kautsky, Longuet and Turati, to appear side by side with them before
the working masses, by that very act renounce in practice the work of
preparing in ideas and organization for the revolutionary rising of
the proletariat, independently of whether it comes a month or a year
sooner or later. In order that the open rising of the proletarian
masses should not fritter itself away in belated searches for paths
and leadership, we must see to it to-day that wide circles of the
proletariat should even now learn to grasp all the immensity of the
tasks before them, and of their irreconcilability with all variations
of Kautskianism and opportunism.

A truly revolutionary, _i.e._, a Communist wing, must set itself
up in opposition, in face of the masses, to all the indecisive,
half-hearted groups of doctrinaires, advocates, and panegyrists of
passivity, strengthening its positions first of all spiritually and
then in the sphere of organization--open, half-open, and purely
conspirative. The moment of formal split with the open and disguised
Kautskians, or the moment of their expulsion from the ranks of the
working-class party, is, of course, to be determined by considerations
of usefulness from the point of view of circumstances; but all the
policy of real Communists must turn in that direction.

That is why it seems to me that this book is still not out of date--to
my great regret, if not as an author, at any rate as a Communist.

_June 17, 1920._

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Dictatorship vs. Democracy - (Terrorism and Communism)" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.