Speech by V I Lenin at the Second All-Russian Congress of Soviets, Vladimir Serov (1910-1968) -- Daily LIFT #847
We had a brief discussion, comrades, on the question of democracy and Soviet power. Although it may seem at first glance that this discussion was far removed from the burning, practical, day-to-day problems of the Soviet Republic, I nevertheless think that it was far from useless. Comrades, in workers’ organisations throughout the world and very often in bourgeois parliaments, and, in any case, during elections to bourgeois parliaments, there is today the same basic discussion on democracy—which, although many people do not realise it, is the old bourgeois democracy —and on the new, Soviet, power. Old or bourgeois democracy proclaims freedom and equality, equality irrespective of whether a person owns anything or not, irrespective of whether he is the owner of capital or not; it proclaims freedom for private owners to dispose of land and capital and freedom for those who have neither to sell their workers’ hands to a capitalist.
Comrades, our Soviet power has made a determined break with that freedom and that equality which is a lie (applause) and has said to the working people that socialists who understand freedom and equality in the bourgeois way have forgotten the germ, the ABC and all the content of socialism. We, and all the socialists who have not yet betrayed socialism, have always exposed the lies, fraud and hypocrisy of bourgeois society that talk about freedom and equality, or, at any rate, about the freedom and equality of elections, although actually the power of the capitalists, the private ownership of land and factories, predetermines not freedom but the oppression and deception of the working people under every possible kind of “democratic and republican” system.
We say that our aim, being the aim of world socialism, is the abolition of classes and that classes are groups of people, one of which lives by the labour of another, one of which appropriates the labour of another. And so, if we are to speak of that freedom and that equality we shall have to admit, as most of the working people in Russia do, that no other country has as yet given as much in such a short time for real freedom and real equality, no other country has, in such a short time, given the working people freedom from the main class that oppresses them, the class of land-owners and capitalists, and no other country has granted such equality in respect of the chief means of subsistence, the land. It is along this road, that of emancipation from the exploiting bourgeois classes up to the complete abolition of the classes, that we have begun and are continuing a resolute struggle for the complete abolition of classes. We know full well that those classes have been defeated but not destroyed. We know full well that the landowners and capitalists have been defeated but not destroyed. The class struggle continues, and the proletariat, together with the poor peasantry, must continue the struggle for the complete abolition of classes, attracting to their side all those who stand in the middle, and by their entire experience, their example of struggle they must ensure that all those who until now have stood in the ranks of the wavering are attracted to their side. -- Lenin speaking to the Seventh All-Russia Congress Of Soviets, December 9, 1919