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How They Tied Themselves to the Capitalists

V. I. Lenin

In its editorial of April 17, Finansovaya Gazeta, organ of the big capitalists and banks, discloses a fact of stupendous importance, namely, how the parties of the Socialist-Revolutionaries, the Menshevik Social-Democrats, etc., have bound themselves hand and foot by tying themselves to the capitalists through their notorious "agreement" [the contact commission] with the Provisional Government.

Here is the full text of the article:


    The Liberty Loan issued by the Provisional Government has not evoked in Left-wing circles the enthusiasm that it has met with among the population at large.

    The Left-wing press has split up into three groups. Lenin's Pravda has come out definitely against the Loan, expressing the point of view of the Bolsheviks. Plekhanov's Yedinstvo strongly supports the Loan. Finally, the other organs of the socialist press Rabochaya Gazeta, Zemlya i Volya, and Volya Naroda have taken a "middle" stand, neither here nor there; they are not exactly for the Loan, nor are they exactly against it. This is the position also of the Soviet of Soldiers' and Workers' Deputies, which decided to support the Loan in principle, but is now having its doubts and is wavering. Dyen was right when it recently reproved this central and most powerful group, which includes the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries, for its uncertain and ambiguous stand.

    As if to confirm the justice of this reproof, the Soviet of Soldiers' and Workers' Deputies yesterday again returned to the once settled question of the Loan and had a discussion about it. N. S. Chkheidze announced that the government was expected shortly to issue a new statement exhaustively explaining its stand on issues of foreign and domestic policy. Until then, N. S. Chkheidze proposed that consideration of the question of supporting the Loan be postponed.

    This attitude of the Lefts is puzzling, to say the least. After all, someone bas to run the government and carry out the reforms which suffering Russia has been craving for.

    One of the two: either the present government enjoys the confidence of the Lefts, having so far done nothing to shirk the obligations it has assumed; or it does not enjoy such confidence. In the latter case, the Lefts, in withdrawing their support of the Provisional Government, must take upon themselves not only "control" over its activities, but the whole burden of government and responsibility before the people and history. If, however, they cannot blame the Provisional Government for anything that it has done up to now, then, naturally ,they have no right to wait for its future statements and should give it their full support. In any case, this equivocalness, this evasive reticence, these mental reservations on their part are quite intolerable. On the one hand, this does not in the least lighten the responsibility of the Provisional Government, which cannot even plead isolation against the verdict of history; on the other, this practically deprives the government of the support of the broad democratic masses and thus puts it in a difficult position.

    Straightforwardness has always been a primary virtue of socialist trends. Socialist parties have always eschewed a policy of evasion, philistine spinelessness, and elastic opportunism. But now, in the question of the Loan, the central groups of Russian socialism have abandoned these traditional principles of theirs and taken to the path of Octobrist

    pussyfooting. Public opinion has a right to ask that they make their attitude on the question of the Loan perfectly clear, that they honestly and openly declare their participation or non-participation in it and thus fulfil their moral obligation to the Provisional Government, which means, either to give it the backing of the Left groups or to make known their disagreement with it.

The bank bosses are men of business. They take a sane view of politics: once you've promised to support the capitalist government (which is conducting an imperialist war), then come across with the Loan.

Correct! Having bound themselves hand and foot, the Socialist-Revolutionaries and the Mensheviks have meekly surrendered to the capitalists. The government's promise "shortly to issue a new statement exhaustively {!} explaining {it has been by now explained more than enough!} its stand on issues of foreign and domestic policy" is nothing but an empty phrase.

No "statements" in the form of declarations, assurances, or pronunciamentos will alter the fact of the matter. And the fact of the matter is that the capitalist government of Lvov, Guchkov, Milyukov and Co. represents the interests of capitalism, is bound up with those interests, and cannot (even if it wanted to) break free from the imperialist, annexationist policies of conquest.

To gain the "backing" of the "Lefts" by means of empty non-committal phrases, that is, to use the authority of the Lefts to bolster up its imperialist policy without receding a step from it—this is what our imperialist government is trying to do, this is what, objectively, Chkheidze and his friends are helping it to do.

"Octobrist pussyfooting"—what a winged little phrase! This is not only a practical, but also a correct evaluation of the Socialist-Revolutionary and Menshevik political line by people who really know what it's all about.

Published: Pravda No. 36, May 3 (April 20), 1917.
Published according to the text in Pravda.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1964, Moscow, Volume 24, pages 176-178.
Translated: Isaacs Bernard

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