Delivered: 7 November, 1918
First Published: Brief report publisheded November 10, 1918 in Izvestia No. 214
Source: Lenin’s Collected Works, Progress Publishers, Moscow, Volume 28, 1974, pages 169-170
Translated (and edited): Jim Riordan
Transcription/HTML Markup: Robert Cymbala & David Walters
Online Version: V.I.Lenin Internet Archive, 2002
(Storm of applause.) Comrades, in celebrating the anniversary of our revolution, I would like to say a few words about the onerous duties of the Extraordinary Commissions.
It is not at all surprising to hear Cheka’s activities frequently attacked by friends as well as enemies. We have taken on a hard job. When we took over the government of the country, we naturally made many mistakes, and it is only natural that the mistakes of the Extraordinary Commissions strike the eye most. The narrow-minded intellectual fastens on these mistakes without trying to get to the root of the matter. What does surprise me in all these outcries about Cheka’s mistakes is the manifest inability to put the question on a broad fooling. People harp on individual mistakes Cheka makes, and raise a hue and cry about them.
We, however, say that we learn from our mistakes. In this department, as in all others, we say-we shall learn by self-criticism. It is not a matter, of course, of Cheka’s personnel but the nature of its functions, which demand determined, swift and, above all, faithful action. When I consider its activities and see how they are attacked, I say this is all narrow-minded and futile talk. It reminds me of Kautsky’s homily on the dictatorship, which is tantamount to supporting the bourgeoisie. We surely know from experience that the expropriation of the bourgeoisie entails a drastic struggle—a dictatorship.
Marx said that the revolutionary dictatorship of rthe proletariat lies between capitalism and communism. The more the proletariat presses the bourgeoisie, the more furiously they will resist. We know what vengeance was wreaked on the workers in France in 1848. And when people charge us with harshness we wonder how they can forget the rudiments of Marxism. We have not forgotten the mutiny of the officer cadets in October, and we must not forget that a number of revolts are now being engineered. We have, on the one hand, to learn to work constructively, and, on the other, to smash the bourgeoisie’s resistance. The Finnish whiteguards, for all their much-vaunted democracy, had no scruples about shooting down workers. The realisation of the need for dictatorship has taken deep root in the people’s minds, arduous and difficult though it is. That alien elements should try to worm their way into Cheka is quite natural. With the help of self-criticism we shall dig them out. The important thing for us is that! Cheka is directly exercising the dictatorship of the proletariat, and in that respect its services are invaluable. There is no way of emancipating the people except by forcibly suppressing the exploiters. That is what Cheka is doing, and therein lies its service to the proletariat.