Delivered: 12 July,1919
First Published: Pravda No. 154, July 16, 1919; Published according to the Pravda text
Source: Lenin’s Collected Works, 4th English Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1972 Volume 29, pages 489-493
Translated: George Hanna
Transcription/HTML Markup: David Walters & Robert Cymbala
Copyleft: V. I. Lenin Internet Archive (www.marx.org) 2002. Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License
The previous speaker spoke of the feelings of deep regret with which we have had to contravene our food policy None of this, of course, is anything more than darning the holes of an old garment instead of acquiring a new one. But what we have done is right. We may recall last year, when the food situation was much worse’we had absolutely no food resources. At that time there was considerable confusion in our ranks because we had to retract from the principles of our food policy. It was thought that small concessions would lead to bigger ones and that a return to a socialist policy would be impossible. That turned out to be untrue. Difficult as the situation was, we got over it, and our enemies’ hopes were not fulfilled.
The situation today is much better than last year’s; we now have food resources we dared not even dream of last year. The territory occupied by the enemy was much greater last year. We have now scored big victories in the East where a bumper harvest is expected. Apart from that we have experience, and that is the main thing. Having this experience we are able to say with greater confidence that we shall overcome the difficulties that stand in our way. July is the worst month not only as far as food is concerned, but also because counter-revolution raises its head higher than before.
The counter-revolutionary wave inside the country, however, was more powerful last year than this. The activities of the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries had reached the highest point at that time. The armed struggle that they launched suddenly in place of their verbal support took us by surprise. The difficulties were immense, for they had chosen their time very cleverly. The Socialist-Revolutionaries hoped to play on the mood of the man in the street who was in despair from hunger. At the same time Muravyov betrayed us at the front. The revolt of the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries was very quickly suppressed but there was serious wavering in the provinces for several days.
We now have a more correct attitude to the petty-bourgeois parties, due to the year’s experience. The experience of the revolts led by Makhno and Grigoriev and the waverings of the Socialist-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks have shown us that their influence over the worker and peasant masses is only an apparent one. Their actual strength is nil, so that when we are told that Chernov at a recent meeting of the Council of the Right Socialist-Revolutionary Party said, “If not we and not today, then who else will kick out the Bolsheviks?” we can only say, “The nightmare was terrible, but God is good.” Today we can only express our amazement at their not being tired of repeating their own mistakes. Throughout two years we have been witnessing the complete collapse of all their dreams about “democracy in general”, nevertheless every one of their groups considers it its duty to make the experiment in its own way. The development of the revolution shows that their mistakes are being repeated and that the repetition is causing us countless calamities. The peasants in the East supported the Socialist-Revolutionaries and the Mensheviks because they did not want war and realised that the Bolsheviks were a sound government that would insist on their participating in the war. The result was that Kolchak forces appeared and brought countless calamities. Now that they are retreating they are destroying everything in their path, the country is completely ruined and the sufferings there are unimaginable, far worse than anything we are experiencing. To speak of Bolshevik atrocities in face of these facts requires all the hypocrisy of bourgeois writers.
In the Kolchak business, the Socialist-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks have again followed the same sanguinary political road as they did with Kerensky; it has brought them back to the starting-point and has demonstrated the falseness of all their coalition ideas.
The masses have now abandoned them and we are witnessing a revolt in Siberia in which not only workers and peasants but even intellectuals and kulaks are taking part. We see the complete collapse of Kolchak’s movement. Apparently every one of their mistakes must be repeated before the eyes of the unenlightened masses are opened. When the masses see that the coalition leads to reaction they come to us, battered and tormented but nevertheless taught and steeled by experience. The same may be said of all imperialists. They drag out the war, cause greater exhaustion and thereby merely strengthen in the masses a consciousness of the need for revolution. Difficult as the year has been, it has been useful because not only the leaders but even the broadest masses, even the peasants in the most remote holes and corners have had an experience that has led them to draw the same conclusions as we do. This gives us firm conviction in our victory. Without Kolchak the Siberian peasants would not have become convinced in a single year that they need our workers’ government. It took the very sad experience of this year to convince them of that.
It is quite possible that the Socialist-Revolutionary and Menshevik literary groups will die out without ever having understood anything about our revolution and for a long time will continue repeating, parrot fashion, that theirs would have been the best government in the world, a truly socialist and truly democratic government without civil war, if it had not been for Kolchak and the Bolsheviks; that, however, is not important, there have also been stubborn cranks in all revolutions. The important thing is that the masses who followed them are now leaving them. The peasant masses have gone over to the Bolsheviks’that is a fact. Siberia demonstrates this best of all. The peasants will not forget what they experienced under Kolchak’s government.; the greater the trials, the better the Bolsheviks’ lessons will have been learned.
We are now gaining important victories on the Eastern Front and these give its reason to hope that we shall have finished with Kolchak in the East in a few weeks. A turning point has been reached on the Southern Front, arid, what is more important, a turning-point in the temper of the peasants in the vicinity of the front has also been reached. These, incidentally, are rich peasants’middle peasants in those parts are like kulaks. But there has been a change in their mood in our favour’this is a fact that is proved by the return of deserters and by the armed resistance we are putting up. The workers living in the towns, where they are close to events, assimilate our ideas from conferences, speeches and newspapers. The peasant cannot do this, he is convinced only from his own experience. The peasants in the South were prepared to curse the Bolsheviks in words, but when Denikin arrived shouting about democracy (for it is not only the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries that shout about it, the word is to be found in every line of Denikin’s newspaper) the peasants began to fight against him for they soon realised from their own experience that floggings and plunder lay hidden under the pretty words. The torments and ruination in the districts near the Southern Front are having the same effect as in the East’they are giving us more reliable gains. We have not for a moment forgotten the difficulties that we are experiencing, we have not forgotten that the greatest effort and the mobilisation of our forces are essential, but we can say that the result will be a more sound victory. The experience of the past year has shown the masses that today only one form of power is possible and necessary’the workers’ and peasants’ power of the Bolsheviks. That is what enables us to say with confidence that this difficult July will be the last difficult July.
A glance at the international situation only serves to strengthen our confidence in victory.
Forces friendly to us are growing up in all hostile states. Take the small countries’Finland, Latvia, Poland, Rumania. All attempts to set up a coalition of the big and petty bourgeoisie in those countries to fight against us have ended in a break-down and ours turns out to be the only form of government possible there.
The same thing is true of big states. Take Germany. Immediately the Treaty of Versailles was signed a big revolutionary movement began. The Entente bogey has gone and the workers are now rising, notwithstanding all the sacrifices that the proletariat has made. During the past year Germany has had the same experience as we and Siberia have had, but in a somewhat different form’experience that will lead to the communist revolution. And what about the Entente, the victors? They say that victory has given them security, but no sooner had they signed the peace treaty than it became clear that in signing it they were signing their own death warrant. The mass movement against them is growing. That is why we say with confidence, taking all our experience, all that has happened in the past year into account, that we shall surmount all difficulties and that this July will be the last difficult July, and that next July we shall welcome the victory of the world Soviet republic and that victory will be full and complete.
 This conference was attended by 200 delegates of the Moscow Party organisations. Following Lenin’s report the conference passed a resolution indicating the need to improve Party and government work—army, food, social security, agitation and propaganda work, and also cultural, educational and political work among workers and men of the Red Army. It was planned to call regular non-Party conferences of workers and Red Army soldiers.
 This refers to decisions by the Moscow August 24) and Petrograd (September 5, 1918) Soviets permitting factory and office workers to transport up to one-and-half poods of foodstuffs (until October 1, 1918) and the decree of the Council of People’s Commissars of June 30, 1919 on food procurement in Simbrisk Gubernia up to August 15, 1919 by workers’s and rural organisations of the central gubernias, etc. The Soviet Government was compelled to adopt these measures because of the grave food situation of the country.