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TSI

LENIN, ON TACTICS

 

TSI
TSI | Issue Dated: April 1, 2007
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LENIN, ON TACTICS It’s incredible how much Vladimir Ilyich Lenin wrote. The first head of the Soviet Union and principal leader of the Russian Revolution could dissect everything to a baffling extent. He thought, like many others breathe. This is a letter on tactics. Lenin’s letters were often long and published as pamphlets. This one is 4,274 words in entirety. Look for the manner in which Lenin ridicules the fixation with dictatorship of the working class, and for the splendid exposition on the path to socialism.



Written between 8 and 13 April 1917

On 4 April 1917, I had occasion to make a report on the subject indicated in the title, first, at a meeting of Bolsheviks in Petrograd. Marxism requires of us a strictly exact and objectively verifiable analysis of the relations of classes and of the concrete features peculiar to each historical situation. I define ‘the specific feature of the present situation in Russia’ as a period of transition from the first stage of the revolution to the second. What, then, is the first stage? It is the passing of State power to the bourgeoisie. Before the February-March revolution of 1917, State power in Russia was in the hands of one old class, namely, the feudal landed nobility, headed by Nicholas Romanov. After the revolution, the power is in the hands of a different class, a new class, namely, the bourgeoisie. The passing of State power from one class to another is the first, the principal, the basic sign of a revolution, both in the strictly scientific and in the practical political meaning of that term.

According to the old way of thinking, the rule of the bourgeoisie could and should be followed by the rule of the proletariat and the peasantry, by their dictatorship. In real life, however, things have already turned out differently; there has been an extremely original, novel and unprecedented interlacing of the one with the other. We have side by side, both the rule of the bourgeoisie (the government of Lvov and Guchkov) and a revolutionary-democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry, which is voluntarily ceding power to the bourgeoisie.

Possibly the peasantry may seize all the land and all the power. But there is also another possibility; it is possible that the peasants will take the advice of the petty bourgeois party of the Socialist-Revolutionaries, which has yielded to the influence of the bourgeoisie and has adopted a defencist stand.

To separate the proletarian elements of the Soviets from the petty bourgeois elements right now, immediately and irrevocably, is to give correct expression to the interests of the movement in either of two possible events: in the event that Russia will yet experience a special ‘dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry’ independent of the bourgeoisie, and in the event that the petty bourgeoisie will not be able to tear itself away from the bourgeoisie and will oscillate eternally (that is, until socialism is established) between us and it.

I am deeply convinced that the Soviets will make the independent activity of the masses a reality more quickly and effectively than will a parliamentary republic. They will more effectively, more practically and more correctly decide what steps can be taken towards socialism and how these steps should be taken. Control over a bank, the merging of all banks into one, is not yet socialism, but it is a step towards socialism. What compels such steps? Famine. Economic disorganisation. Imminent collapse. The horrors of the wounds inflicted on mankind by the war.
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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017