V. I. Lenin

Speech At A Meeting In The Alexeyevsky Riding School

April 7, 1918[1]

Newspaper Report

Written:April 7, 1918
First Published:Izvestia Saralovshovo Soveta No- 71, April 13, 1918 Published according to the newspaper text
Source: Lenin’s Collected Works, 4th English Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1972 Volume 27, pages 224 to 225.
Translated: Clemens Dutt; Edited by Robert Daglish
Transcription\HTML Markup: David Walters & R. Cymbala
Copyleft: V. I. Lenin Internet Archive (www.marx.org) 2003. Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License

(Lenin’s appearance on the platform was greeted with a storm of applause.) We are now passing through the hardest months of the revolution, said Leinn. There is famine, which we must exert all our strength to combat, while the Right S.R.s and Mensheviks look on with malicious joy. Their tactics are the tactics of Dutov and Kornilov, the tactics of the officer cadets who organised an uprising in Moscow against the Soviet government. In this respect the Mensheviks, who are striving to overthrow the Soviet government, are on their side, are on the side of the bourgeoisie, and are thereby betraying us. When we apply the death penalty by shooting, they turn into Toistoyans and shed crocodile tears, shouting about our cruelty. They have forgotten how, along with Kerensky, they drove the workers into the slaughter, while the secret treaties were hidden in their pockets. They have forgotten this and have turned into meek Christians, fretting about mercy.

We cannot overcome our enemies without arms; they are very well aware of that but all the same they try to discredit US.

We have to put the national economy in order, and this gigantic task is the more difficult because our revolution is the first to have gone so far along the path of social transformation. To lighten this difficult task, we have to learn, but to learn not from books, but from action, from experience. Only Soviet power is any good for building the national economy, and therefore I am proposing that you should bring thousands of our comrades into the Soviets throughout the country. Besides that, we have to develop comradely discipline. The workers and peasants must realise that the land and factories belong to them and they must be as careful of them as of their own property.

Only now, on looking back and seeing the utter helplessness of the bourgeoisie and the worthlessness of the sabotaging intelligentsia, am I certain of the tremendous progress we have made. In order to continue advancing successfully we must get rid of ignorance and negligence, but it is much more difficult to do that than to overthrow the idiot Romanov or the fool Kerensky.

Germany is strangling us, Japan is attacking us.[2] And it is in this difficult period that the Mensheviks and Right S.R.s, those tender lambs, are shouting about our cruelty, forgetting the gallows that they erected for Comrade Shahumyan.[3] In reply to them, I can say: No, we do not reject the use of force by us against the exploiters.

These tears of the Mensheviks and Right S.R.s evoked by our cruelty are their last attempt at taking part in the political life of the country and at the same time a sign of their weakness. We shall fight them mercilessly. We have to pay now for all the legacy of tsarism, for Nicholas’s and Kerensky’s rule. When, however, we have conquered disorganisation and apathy, then by our unceasing work we shall achieve the great victory of socialism. (Loud applause.)


[1] The meeting in the Alexeyevsky Riding School in Moscow, attended by 8,000 people,was in protest against the shooting down by the Menshevik government of Georgia of a workers’ meeting held in Tiflis on February 23, 1918, the day of the convocation of the Transcaucasian Seim. After speeches by V. I. Lenin, N. V. Krylenko, N. I. Podvoisky and others, a resolution was passed unanimously slating: “We, workers, ... brand with scorn the criminal and treacherous tactics of the Mensheviks and the Right Socialist-Revolutionaries, who deal brutally with the Caucasian workers and peasants and associate themselves with the bourgeoisie in welcoming the invasion of foreign plunderers. We declare that the working class has nothing in common with these traitors and will reply to any attempt at seizing the power of the workers and peasants by ruthless suppression of the capitalist counter-revolutionaries and their agents.” (Pravda No. 67, April 9, 1918.)

Lenin’s speetch did not appear in the leading newspapers. In Pravda 677, April 9, 1918 a short notice appeared stating: “Comrade Lenin made a long and vivid speech. He was greeted with loud applause.”

[2] Imperialist Japan had just begun its occupation of the Far East. On December 3;0, 1917 (January 12, 1918) a Japanese warship and merchant ship entered the Port of Vladivostok without informing the heal Soviet authorities. The same day the Japanese Consul General irViaclivostok sent the city authorities a Note stating on behalf of the Japanese Government that Japanese warships had been dispatched to the port "for the purpose of protecting our natioaals".

On March 29, 1918 the Menshevik-Socialist-Revolutionary municipal council fell in with the wishes of the Japanese military by declaring itself unable to maintain order in Vladivostok. On April 4, two Japanese were murdered in a planned and organised act of provocation. With this as a pretext, Japanese troops assisted by Russian whiteguards made their first landing and oceugied V1adivostok on April 5. The occupation of the city marked the eginning of the open intervention of the countries of the Entente in the Far East.

When news of the Japanese intervention was received, Lenin sent the Vladivostok Soviet specific instructions on how to fight the occupying forces (see this volume, p. 226).

[3] Shahumyan, S. G. (1878-1918)-Temporary Commissar Extraordinary for Caucasian Affairs and Chairman of the Baku Sovietwas constantly persecuted by the Transcaucasian counter-revolutionary Menshevik government. In February 1918 it became known that the Mensheviks intended to murder him. This is what Lenin is referring to when be speaks of a gallows being erected for Comrade Shahumyan. The plot was not carried out at the time simply because Shahumyan successfully evaded capture by the Transcaucasian Menshevik government.

In August 1918 Shabnmyan and other leading Party workers in Baku were arrested by the British intervention forces with the assistance of the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries. He was one of the 26 Baku commissars who were shot.