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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky - Lenin, November 10, 1918

On November 10, 1918, Vladimir Lenin completed work on the pamphlet The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky.

- Bourgeois democracy, although a great historical advance in comparison with medievalism, always remains, and under capitalism is bound to remain, restricted, truncated, false and hypocritical, a paradise for the rich and a snare and deception for the exploited, for the poor. It is this truth, which forms a most essential part of Marx’s teaching, that Kautsky the “Marxist” has failed to understand. On this -- the fundamental issue -- Kautsky offers “delights” for the bourgeoisie instead of a scientific criticism of those conditions which make every bourgeois democracy a democracy for the rich.

- The transition from capitalism to communism takes an entire historical epoch. Until this epoch is over, the exploiters inevitably cherish the hope of restoration, and this hope turns into attempts at restoration. After their first serious defeat, the overthrown exploiters—who had not expected their overthrow, never believed it possible, never conceded the thought of it—throw themselves with energy grown tenfold, with furious passion and hatred grown a hundredfold, into the battle for the recovery of the “paradise”, of which they were deprived, on behalf of their families, who had been leading such a sweet and easy life and whom now the “common herd” is condemning to ruin and destitution (or to “common” labour . . .). In the train of the capitalist exploiters follow the wide sections of the petty bourgeoisie, with regard to whom decades of historical experience of all countries testify that they vacillate and hesitate, one day marching behind the proletariat and the next day taking fright at the difficulties of the revolution; that they become panic-stricken at the first defeat or semidefeat of the workers, grow nervous, run about aimlessly, snivel, and rush from one camp into the other—just like our Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries.

- All philistines and all stupid and ignorant yokels argue in the same way as the renegade Kautsky supporters, Longuet supporters, Turati and Co.: “The enemy has invaded my country, I don’t care about anything else.

The socialist, the revolutionary proletarian, the internationalist, argues differently. He says: “The character of the war (whether it is reactionary or revolutionary) does not depend on who the attacker was, or in whose country the ‘enemy’ is stationed; it depends on what class is waging the war, and on what politics this war is a continuation of. If the war is a reactionary, imperialist war, that is, if it is being waged by two world groups of the imperialist, rapacious, predatory, reactionary bourgeoisie, then every bourgeoisie (even of the smallest country) becomes a participant in the plunder, and my duty as a representative of the revolutionary proletariat is to prepare for the world proletarian revolution as the only escape from the horrors of a world slaughter. I must argue, not from the point of view of ‘my’ country (for that is the argument of a wretched, stupid, petty-bourgeois nationalist who does not realise that he is only a plaything in the hands of the imperialist bourgeoisie), but from the point of view of my share in the preparation, in the propaganda, and in the acceleration of the world proletarian revolution.”

According to the Soviet press in 1963:

The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky. It was a reply to articles and the pamphlet The Dictatorship of the Proletariat, written by the theoretician of the German Social Democrats, Karl Kautsky, which distorted Marxism.

The essence and meaning of Soviet power, Lenin pointed out, lay in the fact that it enlists the broadest masses of people in constant, indispensable and decisive participation in the democratic governing of the state. The Soviets are the direct organization of the toiling and exploited masses themselves, which help them to organize and administer the state themselves in every possible way.

The new Program of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union reflects the changes in the country's development. “The state, which arose as a state of the dictatorship of the proletariat, has in the new, contemporary stage, become a state of the entire people, an organ expressing the interests and will of the people as a whole."

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