Up to the time of the last Convention, our party called itself the party of the social democracy. The party of the work ing class bore the same name all over the world. But the war has been responsible for an unprecedented schism in the social-democratic parties here. Three main tendencies have come to the fore – the extreme right, the centre, and the extreme left wing.
The right social-democrats have proved to be thorough-going traitors to the working class. They prostrated themselves in the dust, and are still doing so, before the generals whose hands were covered with the blood of workers. They support the vilest projects and greatest crimes of their Governments. We have only to remember that the German Social-Democrat Scheidemann is supporting the Ukrainian policy of the German generals. They are the real executioners of the workers’ revolution.
When the German workers have won their cause they will hang Scheidemann on the same gallows as Wilhelm. There are a great number of these kind of persons in France and England, as well as in other countries. It is they who deceive the workers by empty words about the defence of the fatherland (the bourgeois, Wilhelm fatherland), and crush the workers’ revolution at home and execute it in Russia with the aid of the bayonets of their Governments.
The second current is the centre. This has a tendency to grumble against its Government, but is not capable of carrying on a revolutionary struggle. It has not the courage to call the workers into an open fight, and fears beyond everything an armed insurrection, which is the only way of solving the question.
And lastly, there is the third current, the extreme left. In Germany Liebknecht and his comrades. They are German Bolsheviks, their policy and views being those of the Bolsheviks.
You will understand what a muddle ensues as a result of all these groups calling themselves by one and the same name. The Social Democrat Liebknecht and the Social Democrat Scheiedemann! What have they in common? The one, a mean traitor, an executioner of the revolution; and the other, a brave fighter for the working class. Can you imagine a greater difference?
In Russia, where the revolutionary struggle and the development of the revolution in October caused the question of Socialism and the overthrow of the bourgeois Government to be settled: immediately the dispute between the traitors to Socialism and the adherents of true Socialism was decided by force of arms. The Right Socialist Revolutionaries and party of the Mensheviks were on the same side of the barricades as the counter-revolutionary rabble: the Bolsheviks were on the other side, side by side with the workers and soldiers. Blood marked a boundary line between us. Such a thing cannot and never will be forgotten.
This is why we were compelled to give a different name to distinguish us from the traitors to Socialism. The difference between us is too great. Our ways and means are too far apart.
As regards the bourgeois Government, we Communists know but one duty towards it – to blow it up, shattering at one blow this union of plunderers. The Social Democrats propagate the defence of the union of business men, screening themselves by a pretence of defending their fatherland.
But after the victory of the working class, we stand for the defence and protection of the workers’ Soviet Government against its sworn enemies, the Imperialists of the whole world. But they, like true traitors to the workers’ interests, make it their task to break up the Workers’ Government and demolish the Soviets. And in their struggle in this direction they go hand in hand with the united bourgeoisie.
We Communists are eagerly striving onward in spite of all difficulties: we are going towards Communism through the dictatorship of the proletariat. But they, like the evil bourgeoisie, hate this dictatorship with all their hearts, libelling and lowering it whenever they can, proclaiming as their watchword: “Back to Capitalism!”
We Communists say to the working class:
“There are many thorns upon our path, but we must go onward, undaunted. The great revolution which is turning the old world upside down cannot go smoothly; the great revolution cannot be carried out in white gloves; it is born in pain. These birth pangs must be gone through with infinite patience; when duly born they will serve to free us from the iron grip of capitalist slavery.”
And the Mensheviks, Socialist Revolutionaries and Social Democrats stand aside, looking on at our mistakes and failings, and draw the conclusion of going back. “Let us return,” they say. “Give up everything to the bourgeoisie and content ourselves with a modest helping at capitalist tables.”
No! Our road is not the same. These wretches try to scare us by the bogey of civil war. But there can be no revolution without a civil war. Or do they perhaps imagine that in other more advanced countries Socialist revolutions will take place without civil war? The example of Finland has proved the contrary. Thousands of murdered Finnish comrades afford the best evidence of civil war in advanced capitalist countries being ever more fierce, more bloody, more cruel and frenzied than ours proved to be. Now we can foresee that in Germany, for instance, the war between the classes will be extremely acute. The German officers are already shooting their soldiers and sailors by hundreds for the slightest attempt of rebellion. It is only through civil war and the iron dictatorship of the workers that Socialism can be attained. Such is the programme of the Communists.
The demolition of the bourgeois Government, organisation of production by the working class, a wide road to Communism – such is the programme of the Communist Party.
When we call ourselves Communists we not only draw a line to distinguish ourselves from the social traitors, such as Mensheviks, Socialist Revolutionaries, and followers of Scheidemann, and other bourgeois agents. We revert to the old name of the revolutionary party, at the head of which stood Karl Marx. His was the Communist Party. The testament of modern revolution up to the present moment is still the Manifesto of the Communists written by Marx and Engels. Some eighteen months before his death old Engels protested against the name of “Social Democrat.” He said,
“This name is not a suitable one for a party which is striving towards Communism and which finally aims at destroying every form of government, including a democratic one.”
What would these great old men, glowing with hatred towards the bourgeois State apparatus, say if they were shown such Social Democrats as Dan, Tzeretelli, Scheidemann? They would have branded them with contempt, as they did those “democrats” who, in tragic and difficult moments of the revolution, directed the muzzles of their revolvers against the working class.
There are many obstacles in our way; and there is at present much that is evil in our midst. For many outsiders have joined us who are selling themselves for money to the highest bidder, intending to fish in troubled waters. And the working class is young and inexperienced. And the fiercest enemies are surrounding the young Soviet Republic on all sides. But we Communists know that the working class is learning wisdom by its own mistakes. We know that it will clear its ranks of all the impurity that has crept in; we know that it will be joined by its loyal and desired ally the world proletariat. No old womanish wails, no hysterical shrieks will confuse our party, for it has put upon its banner the golden words written by Marx in the Communist Manifesto:
“Let the governing classes tremble before the communist revolution. The proletariat has nothing to lose but its chains; it has a world to win. Proletarians of all countries, unite!”
Last updated on 7.8.2008