Workers Vanguard No. 1012

9 November 2012


Soviet Democracy and Workers Rule

(Quote of the Week)

As with the current presidential election, the exploited and the poor in the U.S. are asked every four years to vote for a representative of the capitalist ruling class who will oversee their oppression. Addressing American workers following the 1917 workers revolution in Russia, whose 95th anniversary we celebrate this month, Bolshevik leader V.I. Lenin denounced the fraud of democracy under capitalist rule, counterposing to it the workers democracy instituted by the soviet regime as part of the fight to establish a worldwide socialist order.

The Soviets of Workers and Peasants are a new type of state, a new and higher type of democracy, a form of the proletarian dictatorship, a means of administering the state without the bourgeoisie and against the bourgeoisie. For the first time democracy is here serving the people, the working people, and has ceased to be democracy for the rich as it still is in all bourgeois republics, even the most democratic. For the first time, the people are grappling, on a scale involving one hundred million, with the problem of implementing the dictatorship of the proletariat and semi-proletariat—a problem which, if not solved, makes socialism out of the question....

The old bourgeois-democratic constitutions waxed eloquent about formal equality and right of assembly; but our proletarian and peasant Soviet Constitution casts aside the hypocrisy of formal equality. When the bourgeois republicans overturned thrones they did not worry about formal equality between monarchists and republicans. When it is a matter of overthrowing the bourgeoisie, only traitors or idiots can demand formal equality of rights for the bourgeoisie. “Freedom of assembly” for workers and peasants is not worth a farthing when the best buildings belong to the bourgeoisie. Our Soviets have confiscated all the good buildings in town and country from the rich and have transferred all of them to the workers and peasants for their unions and meetings. This is our freedom of assembly—for the working people! This is the meaning and content of our Soviet, our socialist Constitution!

—V.I. Lenin, “Letter to American Workers” (August 1918)