V.I. Lenin on the Two Stages of the October Revolution

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“Both in my first Letter From Afar (“The First Stage of the First Revolution”) published in Pravda Nos. 14 and 15, March 21 and 22, 1917, and in my theses, 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. I therefore considered the basic slogan, the “task of the day” at this moment to be: “Workers, you have performed miracles of proletarian heroism, the heroism of the people, in the civil war against tsarism. You must perform miracles of organisation, organisation of the proletariat and of the whole people, to prepare the way for your victory in the second stage of the revolution” (Pravda No. 15).

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.

To this extent, the bourgeois, or the bourgeois-democratic, revolution in Russia is completed.

But at this point we hear a clamour of protest from people who readily call themselves “old Bolsheviks”. Didn’t we always maintain, they say, that the bourgeois-democratic revolution is completed only by the “revolutionary-democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry”? Is the agrarian revolution, which is also a bourgeois-democratic revolution, completed? Is it not a fact, on the contrary, that it has not even started?

My answer is: The Bolshevik slogans and ideas on the whole have been confirmed by history; but concretely things have worked out diflerently; they are more original, more peculiar, more variated than anyone could have expected.

To ignore or overlook this fact would mean taking after those “old Bolsheviks” who more than once already have played so regrettable a role in the history of our Party by reiterating formulas senselessly learned by rote instead ofstudying the specific features of the new and living reality.

’The revolutionary-democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry” has already become a reality in the Russian revolution, for this “formula” envisages only a relation of classes, and not a concrete political institution implementing this relation, this co-operation. “The Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies”—there you have the “revolutionary-democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry” already accomplished in reality.

This formula is already antiquated. Events have moved it from tile realm of formulas into the realm of reality, clothed it with flesh and bone, concretised it and thereby modified it.”

 – V.I. Lenin, “Letters on Tactics”

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