Workers Vanguard No. 1124
15 December 2017
Proletarian Rule vs. Constituent Assembly
(Quote of the Week)
The Bolshevik-led 1917 Russian Revolution established working-class rule, which was expressed through the Soviets, democratically elected workers councils. Standing opposed to the dictatorship of the proletariat was the Constituent Assembly, which served as a “democratic” cover for counterrevolution. After it convened on 5 January 1918, the Assembly refused to recognize Soviet authority; the Bolshevik delegates walked out and the body was dissolved by the Soviet government. Drawing on the lessons of the Russian Revolution and other historical experiences of the workers movement, we Marxists reject the call for constituent assemblies, which is a call for a new capitalist government.
The October Revolution, by giving power to the Soviets, and through the Soviets to the working and exploited classes, aroused the desperate resistance of the exploiters, and in the crushing of this resistance it fully revealed itself as the beginning of the socialist revolution. The working classes learned by experience that the old bourgeois parliamentary system had outlived its purpose and was absolutely incompatible with the aim of achieving socialism, and that not national institutions, but only class institutions (such as the Soviets) were capable of overcoming the resistance of the propertied classes and of laying the foundations of socialist society. To relinquish the sovereign power of the Soviets, to relinquish the Soviet Republic won by the people, for the sake of the bourgeois parliamentary system and the Constituent Assembly, would now be a step backwards and would cause the collapse of the October workers’ and peasants’ revolution....
The Right Socialist-Revolutionary and Menshevik parties are in fact carrying on outside the Constituent Assembly a most desperate struggle against Soviet power, calling openly in their press for its overthrow and describing as arbitrary and unlawful the crushing of the resistance of the exploiters by the forces of the working classes, which is essential in the interests of emancipation from exploitation. They are defending the saboteurs, the servants of capital, and are going as far as undisguised calls to terrorism, which certain “unidentified groups” have already begun. It is obvious that under such circumstances the remaining part of the Constituent Assembly could only serve as a screen for the struggle of the counter-revolutionaries to overthrow Soviet power.
Accordingly, the Central Executive Committee resolves that the Constituent Assembly is hereby dissolved.
—V.I. Lenin, “Draft Decree on the Dissolution of the Constituent Assembly” (6 January 1918)