THE RETREAT FROM SOCIALISM
AT the same session of the Congress of Soviets at which Lenin announced the formation of the Council of People's Commissars as the Government of Russia, he declared by way of a programme: "We will now proceed to construct the socialist order." He could hardly indeed have said anything else; it would have made no sense to his hearers if he had told them that he had seized power through armed insurrection with the aim of promoting the further development of Russian capitalism. The power of the state was now in the hands of Lenin and his associates in the leadership of the Bolshevik Party; what were they to do with it except to use it to expropriate the exploiting capitalists and take the means of production into public ownership? Yet only twelve years previously, in 1905, Lenin had denounced "the absurd, semi-anarchist idea of an immediate fulfilment of our maximum programme" and had written 1—
The degree of Russia's economic development—an objective condition—together with the degree of organization of the broad proletarian masses—a subjective condition indissolubly bound up with the former—renders impossible the total and immediate emancipation of the working class. Only ignorant people fail to see the bourgeois character of the democratic transformation going on at present. To wish to attain socialism by other ways, without passing through the stage of political democracy, is merely to arrive at ridiculous and reactionary conclusions, in the political as well as in the economic fields.