Messages of Solidarity

 

Greeting Message of the Comintern (SH)

The 100th anniversary of the February Revolution 1917

The war worsened the lives of the workers and peasants even more. Many factories had to be closed because of the lack of raw materials and fuel.

Many fields lied idle, because the peasants were at the front and could not till the soil. The railways could not cope with the intensive traffic that was necessary in the war. In some parts grain was rotten, while the workers were hungry in the cities. The women, who were tired of work in the armaments factories, often had to wait for hours in front of the bakeries to get a piece of bread for the children.

The army and the people were hungry, and wearing torn clothes and shoes. The distress and dissatisfaction grew.

In the tsarist army there were no guns, no bullets. Three soldiers often had only one rifle. Czarist generals and ministers betrayed military secrets to the German imperialists . The tsarist army suffered one defeat after the other. Already in the first months of the war, she had huge losses of dead, wounded and prisoners.

The Bolsheviks created Bolshevik basic units in the army and navy, and spread flyers with appeals against the imperialist war. The work of the Bolsheviks was successful. As early as 1915 and 1916, individual troops refused obedience. Since the fall of 1915, the fraternizations had become increasingly frequent. The Russian soldiers crawled from their trenches to the Niemandsland, where they met with German or Austro-Hungarian soldiers.

During the war, the oppressed peoples of Russia began to fight against the tsarist government. The Tsar needed a great deal of money for the conduct of the war, and burdened the oppressed peoples with high taxes. In 1916, he ordered that the population of the non-Russian territories should be used for the construction of trenches and other work on the front. This happened at a time when important work in the fields had to be carried out. The Uzbeks, Kazakhs, Kirghizs, and Turkmen refused to follow the Tsar's orders. The excited population stormed the district administrations and demanded the withdrawl of the tsarist order.

The insurgent Uzbeks destroyed railway lines, set fire to stations, and cut telephone wires to prevent troop transports. The Kirghizs captured military transports and thereby arms.

The tsarist authorities sent troops with guns, machine guns, and armored cars against the insurgents, , and struck down the revolts bloodily. Nevertheless, the collective struggle for workers, peasants and soldiers as well as the oppressed peoples grew for peace.

In the January and February days of 1917 food supply collapsed in many cities. The supply to Petrograd and Moscow came to a complete standstill. One factory after the other was closed. The conviction grew in the people that there was only one way out of the unbearable situation:

OVERTHROW OF THE TSARISTIC MONARCHY

The bourgeoisie also became dissatisfied with the Czar. She noted that the tsarist government was unable to win the victory. The bourgeoisie feared that the tsar would make peace with Germany. But they wanted to continue the war until they had reached their imperialist goals. The imperialist governments of England and France did not want to lose Russia as their ally, and supported the Russian bourgeoisie in the endeavor to eliminate Tsar Nicholas II, and to replace his rule with a government of the capitalists who should wage the war more determinedly than the Czar.

The plans of the bourgeoisie were not realized. They were preceded by the insurrection of the workers and soldiers who broke out in February 1917.

At the beginning of 1917, the starved, war-worn workers entered the strike. The Bolsheviks conducted the struggle of the workers. They also invaded the barracks and called on the soldiers to help the workers in the struggle against the Czar.

On International Women's Day, March 8 (February 23rd - Julian calendar), the workers demonstrated against hunger, war and tsarist rule. The revolutionary movement soon spread over entire Petrograd. Red flags and slogans were blowing across the columns of the demonstrating workers:

"Down with war!" "Down with the Czar!" - "Bread!" - "Peace" - "Freedom!"

The tsarist ministers gave orders to shoot the workers. In the center of the city, the police set up machine guns on the roofs and on the streets and shot at the demonstrators. The prisons were filled with prisoners. The workers took arms. They arrested the Czarist ministers.

The revolutionaries were freed from the prisons. The Tsar, who was then outside Petrograd, ordered troops from the war-front against the insurgent people.
In meetings the revolutionary workers explained the soldiers what they were fighting for, and called on the troops not to fulfill the orders of the tsar and the generals. The soldiers fraternized and united with the revolutionary workers, the tsarist government was overthrown.
When the victory of the revolution in Petrograd reached the other cities and the front, the workers and soldiers overthrew the Tsar's rule all over Russia. Everywhere the liberated masses of the poor population followed the heroic revolutionary workers and soldiers and supported them.
Within the very first days of the revolution, the workers formed Soviets.
It was not only the Soviets of the workers' deputies, as in 1905, but the Soviets of the workers' and soldiers' deputies. The soldiers' deputies were predominantly peasants, who bore the uniform of soldiers. Thus, a close alliance between workers and peasants was created in the Soviets. Without this alliance, it were impossible to overthrow the Czar, and the February Revolution would not be successful.
Most of the leaders of the Bolshevik Party were in prison or exile. Lenin was still in Switzerland, Stalin in Siberia. The February revolution freed Stalin and many other Bolshevik leaders who left Siberia immediately, to go to Petrograd and to begin with the preparations for the October Revolution. Stalin took over the leadership of "Pravda" and with Molotov he was at the head of the Central Committee and the Petrograder Committee of the SDAPR.
Many workers were sent from their working place directly to the war-front. So the small-scale citizens, such as craftsmen and retailers, had gone to the factories as workers, hoping not to be sent to the front. They were not closely connected with the struggle of the proletariat and were influenced by the Mensheviks. Thus the Mensheviks succeeded in obtaining the majority of votes in the elections to the Soviets. They betrayed the interests of the working class and supported the imperialist bourgeoisie, which formed a provisional government which continued the war. Who got the most important ministerial posts of this Provisional Government?
A factory owner and banker, a textile manufacturer, a sugar factory, an advocate, a historian etc.

Alongside the Provisional Government, the Soviets, the power organs of the workers, continued to exist. These Soviets of workers 'and peasants' deputies were predominantly under the influence of the Mensheviks.
Many workers, peasants, and soldiers trusted the Provisional Government which was under the influence of the Mensheviks. They considered it a government created by the revolution, which would act in the interest of the workers and peasants.
The Provisional Government, however, was not for the people, but against the people. It was not for peace but for war. The land of the landlords was not distributed among the peasants. The Provisional Government sent regiments to the districts in which the peasants cultivated the landowners' land. The Provisional Government refused to introduce the eight-hour day, and did nothing against the hunger of the workers, because it represented the interests of the landowners and Kulaks, and did not confiscate their crops. The Provisional Government wanted to continue the war in order to realize the imperialist aims: the conquest of Constantinople, the Dardanelles and Galicia, etc.
The February Revolution had ended with the creation of a government which was unable to meet the basic demands of the people for peace, freedom, land and bread. The Czar had already fallen, but the new dictatorship of the bourgeoisie had been erected. The February Revolution destroyed the monarchy but not capitalism. Capitalism was then overthrown with the Great October Social Revolution. The workers established the dictatorship of the proletariat and the first socialist state in the world.

Lenin dated the second revolution in Russia from February to October 1917.
He characterized the three stages of the Russian Revolution as follows:

"If we examine the development of our revolution from that point of view we see clearly that it has so far passed through a period of relative and largely imaginary self-dependence, and of being temporarily independent of international relations. The path travelled by our revolution from the end of February 1917 to February 11 of this year [1918], when the German offensive began, was, by and large, a path of easy and rapid successes. If we study the development of that revolution on an international scale, from the standpoint of the Russian revolution alone, we shall see that we have passed through three periods in the past year. The first period is that in which the working class of Russia, together with all advanced, class-conscious and active peasants, supported not only by the petty bourgeoisie but also by the big bourgeoisie, swept away the monarchy in a few days. This astounding success is to be explained by the fact that on the one hand, the Russian people had acquired a big reserve of revolutionary fighting potential from the experience of 1905, while on the other hand, Russia, an extremely backward country, had suffered more than any other from the war and had, at an especially early date, reached a stage when it was absolutely impossible to continue the war under the old regime.

This short tempestuous success when a new organisation was created—the Soviets of Workers’, Soldiers’ and Peasants’ Deputies—was followed by the long months of the period of transition of our revolution, the period in which the government of the bourgeoisie, immediately undermined by the Soviets, was kept going and strengthened by the petty bourgeois compromising parties, the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries, who supported it. It was a government that supported the imperialist war and the imperialist secret treaties, fed the working class on promises, did literally nothing, and preserved the state of economic ruin. The Soviets mustered their forces in this period, a period that for us, for the Russian revolution, was a long one; it was a long period for the Russian revolution but it was a short one from the international point of view, because in most of the leading countries the period of overcoming petty-bourgeois illusions, of compromise by various parties, groups and trends had been taking not months but long decades. The span of time, from April 20 to the moment Kerensky renewed the imperialist war in June (he had the secret imperialist treaty in his pocket), was decisive. This second period included our July defeat and the Kornilov revolt, and only through the experience of the mass struggle, only when the working-class and peasant masses had realised from their own experience and not from sermons that petty-bourgeois compromise was all in vain—only then, after long political development, after long preparations and changes in the moods and views of party groups, was the ground made ready for the October Revolution; only then did the Russian revolution enter the third period of its initial stage, a stage of isolation, or temporary separation, from the world revolution.

Lastly, we sum up the main results of the experience of the Russian revolutions of 1905 and particularly of 1917. Apparently, the latter is now (early August 1917) completing the first stage of its development; but this revolution as a whole can only be understood as a link in a chain of socialist proletarian revolutions being caused by the imperialist war."

 

Today, again, the dictatorship of the imperialist Russian bourgeoisie under the leadership of the "Kremlin-Tsar" Putin prevails.
On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the February revolution, we call on the Russian workers and the working people of the former Soviet peoples:
Let's overthrow the imperialist Putin rule and smash Russian imperialism.

Today, defending the October Revolution of 1917 this means nothing else but its further continuation until the re-establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat. The goals of the October Revolution will only be completely fulfilled through the victory of the world socialist revolution. And by the victory of the world-socialist revolution also the inevitability of the restoration of capitalism will be removed.

Long live the 100th anniversary of the February Revolution!

Long live the 100th anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution!

Long live the restoration of the Soviet Union of Lenin and Stalin.

Long live the socialist world revolution!

Long live world socialism and world communism!

Long live Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin and Enver Hoxha!

Long live Stalinism-Hoxhaism!

Long live the Comintern (SH) and her Russian Section !

Comintern (SH)

February 27, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tsarina Alexandra, February 1917

“This is a hooligan movement, young people run and shout that there is no bread, simply to create excitement, along with workers who prevent others from working. If the weather were very cold they would probably all stay at home.

 

“I shall never, under any circumstances, agree to a representative form of government because I consider it harmful to the people whom God has entrusted to my care.”
(Nicholas II)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"No support for the provisional Government; the utter falsities of all its promises shall be made clear"

(LENIN)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LENIN AND STALIN

ON THE FEBRUARY REVOLUTION

 

 

 

Summer 1917 - in Finland

 

 

LENIN - 1917

 

Lenin on the February Revolution 1917

- On the Eve of the Octoberrevolution -

 

Collection of Texts and  Quotations

 

presented on occasion of the centenay of the February Revolution

February 23, 1917 - February 23, 2017

(respectively 8th of March according to the current calendar)

 

arranged by Wolfgang Eggers

 

 

 

How did comrade Stalin prepare the October Revolution ?

(Excerpt from "Short Biography" - 1947)


In the summer of 1914, the imperialist war broke out. The parties of the Second International shamefully betrayed the proletariat and joined the camp of the imperialist bourgeoisie. Only the Bolsheviks, headed by Lenin, remained true to the banner of internationalism.

Immediately and unhesitatingly, the Bolsheviks, alone of all parties, called for a resolute struggle against the imperialist war. And Stalin, cut off though he was from the outside world and isolated from Lenin and the Party centres, took up the same international stand as Lenin on the questions of war, peace, and revolution. He wrote letters to Lenin. He addressed meetings of exiled Bolsheviks in the village of Monastyrskoye (1915) where he stigmatized the cowardly and treacherous behaviour of Kamenev at the trial of the five Bolshevik members of the Fourth Duma. In 1916, he and other Bolshevik exiles sent a message of greetings to the legally published Bolshevik magazine Voprosy Strakhovania (Insurance Questions), pointing out that it was the duty of this magazine "to devote all its efforts and energies to the ideological insurance of the working class of our country against the deeply corrupting, anti-proletarian preaching of gentry like Potressov, Levitsky and Plekhanov, preaching running directly counter to the principles of internationalism."

In December 1916 Stalin, having been called up to the army, was sent under escort to Krasnoyarsk, and thence to Achinsk. There it was that he heard

the first tidings of the revolution of February 1917.

On March 8, 1917, he bade farewell to Achinsk on the way wiring a message of greetings to Lenin in Switzerland.

On March 12, 1917, Stalin, not a whit the worse for the hardships of exile so bravely endured in Turukhansk, again set foot in Petrograd the revolutionary capital of Russia. The Central Committee of the Party instructed him to take charge of the Pravda.

The Bolshevik Party had just emerged from underground.

Many of its most prominent and active members were still on their way back from remote prisons and places of exile. Lenin was abroad, and the bourgeois Provisional Government was putting every obstacle in the way of his return. The moment was critical, and Stalin set to work to rally the Party and fit it for the fight for the transition from the bourgeois-democratic revolution to the Socialist revolution.

Together with Molotov, he directed the activities of the Central Committee and the Petrograd Committee of the Bolshevik Party. In his articles the Bolsheviks found the guiding principles they needed in, their work. The very first article he wrote on his return- from exile, "The Soviets of Workers)' and Soldiers' Deputies," spoke of the main task of the Party, which, Stalin said, was "to consolidate these Soviets, make them universal, and link them together under the aegis of a Central Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies as the organ of revolutionary power of the people."

In an article "The War," Stalin showed that the character of the imperialist war had not changed with the assumption of power by the Provisional Government, and that under the bourgeois Provisional Government the war of 1914-17 remained a predatory and unjust war.

Stalin and Molotov, supported by the majority of the Party members, advocated a policy of "no confidence" in the imperialist Provisional Government, and denounced both the defencism of the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries and the semi-Menshevik position of conditional support for the Provisional Government advocated by Kamenev and other opportunists.

APRIL 3, 1917, after a long period of foreign exile, Lenin returned to Russia. The news of the arrival of the beloved leader of the revolution was hailed with enthusiasm by the advanced workers of Petrograd. Stalin, at the head of a delegation of workers, went to meet him at Byelo-Ostrov. The welcome accorded to Lenin upon his arrival at the Finland Railway Station in Petrograd turned into a mighty revolutionary demonstration.

On the morrow of his arrival, Lenin announced his famous April Theses, which provided the Party with a brilliant plan of action for the transition from the bourgeois-democratic to the Socialist revolution.

They gave the Party the new orientation it needed in the new conditions of the struggle that followed the overthrow of tsardom. On April 24, 1917, the Seventh (April) Conference of the Bolshevik Party assembled.

Lenin's theses formed the basis of its deliberations.

The Conference directed the efforts of the Party to the struggle for the transition from the bourgeois-democratic revolution to the Socialist revolution.

At this Conference Stalin vigorously supported Lenin's policy of working for the Socialist revolution and exposed the opportunist, anti-Leninist line of Kamenev, Rykov and their scanty supporters. Stalin also made a report on the national question. Developing a consistent Marxist-Leninist line, he laid down a Bolshevik national policy, advocating the right of nations to self-determination, even to the point of secession and the formation of independent states.

It was the national policy of Lenin and Stalin that was to secure for the Party the support of the oppressed nationalities in the Great October Socialist Revolution.

After the Conference, in May 1917, a Political Bureau of the Central Committee was instituted, to which Stalin was elected and to which he has been successively re-elected ever since.

On the basis of the decisions of the April Conference, the Party set energetically to work to win over the masses, and to train and organize them for militant action.

In this complex period of the revolution, when events moved at breakneck speed, demanding skilful and flexible tactics of the Party, it was Lenin and Stalin who guided the struggle of the masses.

"I recall the year 1917," says Stalin, "when, after my wanderings from one prison and place of exile to another, I was transferred by the will of the Party to Leningrad. There in the society of Russian workers, and in contact with Comrade Lenin, the great teacher of the proletarians of all countries, in the midst of the storm of mighty conflicts between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, in the midst of the imperialist war, I first learnt what it meant to be one of the leaders of the great Party of the working class.

There, in the society of Russian workers the liberators of oppressed nationalities and the pioneers of the proletarian struggle in all countries and among all peoples I received my third revolutionary baptism of fire. There, in Russia, under Lenin's guidance, I became a master of the art of revolution."

Stalin was at the centre of the practical activities of the Party. As a member of the Central Committee he took a direct and leading part in the work of the Petrograd Committee of the Party, edited the Pravda, wrote articles for it and for the Soldatskaya Pravda, and directed the Bolshevik campaign in the Petrograd municipal elections. Together with Lenin, he took part in the All-Russian Conference of the Party Organizations in the Army, where he delivered a report on "The National Movement in the National Regiments." Together with Lenin, he organized the historic demonstration of June 18, which marched under the slogans of the Bolshevik Party; and he drew up the Manifesto of the Central Committee to the workers and revolutionary soldiers of Petrograd.

On June 20 the First All-Russian Congress of Soviets elected Stalin to the Central Executive Committee.

After the events of July 1917, when Lenin, hounded and persecuted by the counter-revolutionary Provisional Government, was forced to go into hiding, Stalin directly guided the work of the Central Committee and the Central Party Organ, which at that time appeared under a succession of different names (Rabochy i Soldat, Proletary, Rabochy, Rabochy Put). It was Stalin who saved the previous life of Lenin for the Party, for the Soviet people and for humanity at large, by vigorously resisting the proposal of the traitors Kamenev, Rykov and Trotsky that Lenin should appear for trial before the courts of the counter-revolutionary Provisional Government.

The brutal suppression of the July demonstration marked a turning point in the development of the revolution. Lenin worked out new tactics for the Party in the new conditions of the struggle. Together with Sverdlov, Stalin steered the work of the Sixth Party Congress (July-August 1917), which had to meet secretly. At this Congress Stalin made the report on the work of the Central Committee and a report on the political situation, in which he gave a clear-cut formulation of the aims and tactics of the Party in the struggle for the Socialist revolution.

He refuted the arguments of the Trolskyites, who considered that Socialism could not be victorious in Russia.

Opposing the attempt of the Trotskyites to make the Party's course of steering for a Socialist revolution contingent on a proletarian revolution in the West, Stalin declared: "The possibility is not excluded that Russia will be the very country that will lay the road to Socialism. . . . We must abandon the antiquated idea that only Europe can show us the way.

There is dogmatic Marxism and creative Marxism.

I stand by the latter." Stalin's words were prophetic.

Russia was the first to show the way to Socialism.

In insisting on Lenin's doctrine that the victory of Socialism was quite possible in Russia, Stalin had the full support of the Congress. Guided by Stalin and by Lenin's instructions, the Sixth Congress inaugurated the preparations for insurrection. The Congress headed the Party for armed insurrection and for the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat.

In August 1917, General Kornilov launched his revolt with the aim of restoring tsardom in Russia.

The Bolsheviks roused the masses to resist the atlettipted coup, and Kornilov's revolt was crushed.

This ushered in a new phase in the history of the revolution: the phase in which the forces were massed for the grand assault.

While Lenin was in hiding Stalin maintained a correspondence with his teacher and friend and kept in close contact with him. He visited him twice in his place of concealment near Razliv.

Baldly and confidently, firmly yet circumspectly Lenin and Stalin led the Party and the working class towards the Socialist revolution, towards armed insurrection. It was they who inspired and organized the victory of the Great October Socialist Revolution.

Stalin was Lenin's right-hand man. He had direct charge of all the preparations for the insurrection.

His articles in the central press laying down the guiding policy were reprinted in the provincial Bolshevik newspapers. He summoned representatives from the regional organizations to Petrograd, gave them instructions and outlined plans of campaign for the various regions. On October 16, the Central Committee elected a Party Centre, headed by Comrade Stalin, to direct the uprising. This Centre was the leading core of the Revolutionary Military Committee of the Petrograd Soviet and had practical direction of the whole uprising.

At the meeting of the Central Committee of the Party on October 16, Stalin rebuffed the capitulatory proposals of the traitors Zinoviev and Kamenev who opposed armed insurrection. "Objectively," he declared, "what Kamenev and Zinoviev propose would enable the counter-revolution to organize. We would continue to retreat without end and would lose the revolution. Why should we not insure for ourselves the possibility of choosing the day and the conditions, so as to deprive the counter-revolution of the possibility of organizing?"

Early in the morning of October 24, Kerensky ordered the suppression of the central organ of the Party, Rabochy Put, and sent a number of armoured cars to the editorial and printing offices of the newspaper to effect the order. But by 10 a.m. a force of Red Guards and revolutionary soldiers, acting on Stalin's instructions, had pressed back the armoured cars and placed a strong guard over the printing and editorial offices. At eleven o'clock the Rabochy Put came out, with a leading article by Stalin entitled "What Do We Need?" calling upon the masses to overthrow the bourgeois Provisional Government. At the same time, on instructions of the Party Centre, detachments of revolutionary soldiers and Red Guards were moved to the Smolny Institute. The insurrection began on October 24. On the evening of October 25 the Second Congress of Soviets met and turned over the government power to the Soviets.

Stalin was elected to the first Council of People's Commissars, which, headed by Lenin, was set up by the Second All-Russian Congress of Soviets after the victory of the October Revolution.

The Great October Socialist Revolution ushered a change of epoch-making importance. It split the world into two systems capitalist and Socialist. The Bolshevik Party was now faced with new conditions, with new gigantic tasks. And the forms of struggle of the working class had likewise undergone a fundamental change.

 

STALIN - 1917

 

Stalin on the February Revolution 1917

- On the Eve of the Octoberrevolution -

 

Collection of Texts and  Quotations

 

presented on occasion of the centenray of the February Revolution

February 23, 1917 - February 23, 2017

(respectively 8th of March according to the current calendar)

 

arranged by Wolfgang Eggers

 

 

 

 

History of the

Communist Party of the Soviet Union

( Bolsheviks ) -

Short Course

Excerpts - concerning the February Revolution

B R I E F   S U M M A R Y


Concerning the Question of the Strategy and Tactics of the Russian Communists

March 14, 1923

The present article must be regarded as a condensed and schematic exposition of the fundamental views of Comrade Lenin.

(...)

In the period just before the February Revolution of 1917, when tsarism had already become completely discredited in the eyes of the masses, the slogan "Down with the autocracy" was transformed from an agitation slogan into an action slogan, since it was designed to move vast masses into the assault on tsarism. During the February Revolution this slogan became a Party directive, i.e., a direct call to seize certain institutions and certain positions of the tsarist system on a definite date, for it was already a matter of overthrowing and destroying tsarism. A directive is the Party's direct call for action, at a certain time and in a certain place, binding upon all members of the Party and, if the call correctly and aptly formulates the demands of the masses, and if the time is really ripe for it, it is usually taken up by the broad masses of the toilers.

(...)

Corresponding to each turn in history is the strategic plan essential for it and adapted to its tasks.

(...)

The recent history of Russia knows of three main historic turns, which gave rise to three different strategic plans in the history of our Party.

(...)

The First Historic Turn and the Course Towards the Bourgeois-Democratic Revolution in Russia

This turn began at the beginning of the present century, in the period of the Russo-Japanese war, when the defeat of the tsar's armies and the tremendous political strikes of the Russian workers stirred up all classes of the population and pushed them into the arena of the political struggle. This turn came to an end in the days of the February Revolution in 1917.

(...)

The Bolshevik strategy (see Comrade Lenin's book Two Tactics planned the revolution's main blow at tsarism along the line of a coalition between the proletariat and the peasantry, while the liberal bourgeoisie was to be neutralised. Proceeding from the fact that the liberal bourgeoisie was not interested in the complete victory of the bourgeois-democratic revolution, that it preferred a deal with tsarism at the expense of the workers and peasants to the victory of the revolution, this plan assigned the hegemony of the revolutionary movement to the proletariat as the only completely revolutionary class in Russia. This plan was remarkable not only because it took into account correctly the driving forces of the revolution, but also because it contained in embryo the idea of the dictatorship of the proletariat (the hegemony of the proletariat), because it brilliantly foresaw the next, higher phase of the revolution in Russia and facilitated the transition to it.

The subsequent development of the revolution right up to February 1917 fully confirmed the correctness of this strategic plan.

 

The Second Historic Turn and the Course Towards the Dictatorship of the Proletariat in Russia

The second turn began with the February Revolution in 1917, after tsarism was overthrown, when the imperialist war had exposed the fatal ulcers of capitalism all over the world; when the liberal bourgeoisie, incapable of taking in its hands the actual government of the country, was compelled to confine itself to holding formal power (the Provisional Government); when the Soviets of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies, after getting actual power into their hands, had neither the experience nor the will to make the necessary use of it; when the soldiers at the front and the workers and peasants in the rear were groaning under the burdens of the war and economic disruption; when the "dual power" and "contact committee" regime, torn by internal contradictions and capable neither of waging war nor of bringing about peace, not only failed to find "a way out of the impasse" but confused the situation still more. This period ended with the October Revolution in 1917.

Two strategic plans were at issue in the Soviets at that time: the Menshevik-Socialist-Revolutionary plan, and the Bolshevik plan.

The Menshevik-Socialist-Revolutionary strategy, vacillating at first between the Soviets and the Provisional Government, between revolution and counter-revolution, took final shape at the time of the opening of the Democratic Conference (September 1917). It took the line of the gradual but steady removal of the Soviets from power and the concentration of all power in the country in the hands of the "Pre-parliament," the prototype of a future bourgeois parliament. The questions of peace and war, the agrarian and labour questions, as well as the national question, were shelved, pending the convocation of the Constituent Assembly, which, in its turn, was postponed for an indefinite period. "All power to the Constituent Assembly"—this was how the Socialist-Revolutionaries and the Mensheviks formulated their strategic plan. It was a plan for the preparation of a bourgeois dictatorship, a combed and brushed-up, "perfectly democratic" dictatorship it is true, but a bourgeois dictatorship for all that.

The Bolshevik strategy (see Comrade Lenin's "Theses," published in April 1917 ) planned the main blow along the line of liquidating the power of the bourgeoisie by the combined forces of the proletariat and the poor peasants, along the line of organising the dictatorship of the proletariat in the shape of a Soviet Republic. Rupture with imperialism and withdrawal from the war; liberation of the oppressed nationalities of the former Russian Empire; expropriation of the landlords and capitalists; preparation of the conditions for organising socialist economy—such were the elements of the Bolsheviks' strategic plan in that period. "All power to the Soviets"—this was how the Bolsheviks then formulated their strategic plan. This plan was important not only because it took into account correctly the actual driving forces of the new, proletarian revolution in Russia, but also because it facilitated and accelerated the unleashing of the revolutionary movement in the West.

Subsequent developments right up to the October Revolution fully confirmed the correctness of this strategic plan.

 

The Third Historic Turn and the Course Towards the Proletarian Revolution in Europe

The third turn began with the October Revolution, when the mortal combat between the two imperialist groups in the West had reached its climax; when the revolutionary crisis in the West was obviously growing; when the bourgeois government in Russia, bankrupt and entangled in contradictions, fell under the blows of the proletarian revolution; when the victorious proletarian revolution broke with imperialism and withdrew from the war, and thereby made bitter enemies in the shape of imperialist coalitions in the West; when the new Soviet Government's decrees on peace, the confiscation of the landlords' land, the expropriation of the capitalists and the liberation of the oppressed nationalities earned for it the confidence of millions of toilers throughout the world. This was a turn on an international scale, because, for the first time, the international front of capital was breached, the question of overthrowing capitalism was for the first time put on a practical footing. This transformed the October Revolution from a national, Russian force into an international force, and the Russian workers from a backward detachment of the international proletariat into its vanguard, which by its devoted struggle rouses the workers of the West and the oppressed countries of the East. This turn has not yet come to the end of its development, for it has not yet developed on an international scale, but its content and general direction are already sufficiently clear.

(...)

The Bolsheviks (...) planned along the line of internally strengthening the dictatorship of the proletariat in Russia and extending the sphere of operation of the proletarian revolution to all countries of the world by combining the efforts of the proletarians of Russia with the efforts of the proletarians of Europe and with the efforts of the oppressed nations of the East against world imperialism. Highly noteworthy is the exact and concise formulation of this strategic plan given by Comrade Lenin in his pamphlet The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky, namely: "To do the utmost possible in one country (one's own— J. St.) for the development, support and awakening of the revolution in all countries." The value of this strategic plan lies not only in that it took into account correctly the driving forces of the world revolution, but also in that it foresaw and facilitated the subsequent process of transformation of Soviet Russia into the focus of attention of the revolutionary movement throughout the world, into the banner of liberation of the workers in the West and of the colonies in the East.

The subsequent development of the revolution all over the world, and also the five years' existence of Soviet power in Russia, have fully confirmed the correctness of this strategic plan. The fact that the counterrevolutionaries, Socialist-Revolutionaries and Menshe-viks, who made several attempts to overthrow the Soviet Government, are now emigres, while the Soviet Government and the international proletarian organisation are becoming the major instruments of the policy of the world proletariat, and other facts of this kind, are obvious testimony in favour of the Bolsheviks' strategic plan.  

Pravda, No. 56, March 14, 1923

 

 

The Foundations of Leninism

(excerpts concerning the February Revolution 1917)

 

The specific feature of Leninism is due to two causes: firstly, to the fact that Leninism emerged from the proletarian revolution, the imprint of which it cannot but bear; secondly, to the fact that it grew and became strong in clashes with the opportunism of the Second International, the fight against which was and remains an essential preliminary condition for a successful fight against capitalism.

(...)

Leninism grew up and took shape under the conditions of imperialism, when the contradictions of capitalism had reached an extreme point, when the proletarian revolution had become an immediate practical question, when the old period of preparation of the working class for revolution had arrived at and passed into a new period, that of direct assault on capitalism.

(...)

Imperialism was instrumental not only in making the revolution a practical inevitability, but also in creating favourable conditions for a direct assault on the citadels of capitalism.

Such was the international situation which gave birth to Leninism.

Some may say: this is all very well, but what has it to do with Russia, which was not and could not be a classical land of imperialism? What has it to do with Lenin, who worked primarily in Russia and for Russia? Why did Russia, of all countries, become the home of Leninism, the birthpalce of the theory and tactics of the proletarian revolution?

Because Russia was the focus of all these contradictions of imperialism.

Because Russia, more than any other country, was pregnant with revolution, and she alone, therefore, was in a position to solve those contradictions in a revolutionary way.

To begin with, tsarist Russia was the home of every kind of oppression-capitalist, colonial and militarist-in its most inhuman and barbarous form. Who does not know that in Russia the omnipotence of capital was combined with the despostism of tsarism, the aggressiveness of Russian nationalism with tsarism's role of executioner in regard to the non-Russian peoples, the exploitation of entire regions-Turkey, Persia, China-with the seizure of these regions by tsarism, with wars of conquest? Lenin was right in saying that tsarism was "military-feudal imperialism." Tsarism was the concentration of the worst features of imperialism, raised to a high pitch.

To proceed. Tsarist Russia was a major reserve of Western imperialism, not only in the sense that it gave free entry to foreign capital, which controlled such basic branches of Russia's national economy as the fuel and metallurgical industries, but also in the sense that it could supply the Western imperialists with milions of soldiers. Remember the Russia army, fourteen million strong, which shed its blood on the imperialist fronts to safeguard the staggering profits of the British and French capitalists.

Further, Tsarism was not only the watchdog of imperialism in the east of Europe, but, in addition, it was the agent of Western imperialism for squeezing out of the population hundreds of milions by way of interet on loans obtained in Paris and London, Berlin and Brussels.

Finally, tsarism was a most faithful ally of Western imperialism in the partition of Turkey, Persia, China, etc. Who does not know that the imperialist war was waged by tsarism in alliance with the imperialists of the Entente, and that Russia was an essential element in that war?

That is why the interets of tsarism and of Western imperialism were interwoven and ultimately became merged in a single skein of imperialist interets.

Could Western imperialism resign itself to the loss of such a powerful support in the East and of such a rich reservoir of manpower and resources as old, tsarist, bourgeois Russia was without exerting all its strengths to wage a life-and-death struggle against the revolution in Russia, with the object of defending and preserving tsarsim? Of course not.

But from this it follows that whoever wanted to strike at tsarism necessarily raised his hand against imperialism, whoever rose against tsarism had to rise against imperialism as well; for whoever was bent on overthrowing tsarism had to overthrow imperialism too, if he really intended not merely to defeat tsarism, but to make a clean sweep of it. Thus the revolution against tsarism verged on and had to pass into a revolution against imperialism, into a proletarian revolution.

Meanwhile, in Russia a tremendous popular revolution was rising, headed by the most revolutionary proletariat in the world, which possessed such an important ally as the revolutionary peasantry of Russia. Does it need proof that such a revolution could not stop half-way, that in the event of success it was bound to advance further and raise the banner of revolt against imperialism?

That is why Russia was bound to become the focus of the contradictions of impeialism, not only in the sense that it was in Russia that these contradictions were revealed most plainly, in view of their particularly repulsive and particularly intolerable character, and not only because Russia was a highly important prop of Western imperialism, connecting Western finance capital with the colonies in the East, but also because Russia was the only country in which there existed a real force capable of resolving the contradictions of imperialism in a revolutionary way.

From this it follows, however, that the revolution in Russia could not but become a proletarian revolution, that from its very inception it could not but assume an international character, and that, therefore, it could not but shake the very foundations of world imperialism.

Under these circumstances, could the Russian Communist confine their work within the narrow national bounds of the Russian revolution? Of course not. On the contrary, the whole situation ,both internal (the profound revolutionary crisis) and external (the war), impelled them to go beyond these bounds in their work, to transfer the struggle to the international arena, to expose the ulcers of imperialism, to prove that the collapse of capitalism was inevitable, to smash social-chauvinism and social-pacifism, and , finally, to overthrow capitalism in their own country and to forge a new fighting weapon for the proletariat-the theory and tactics of the proletarian revolution-in order to facilitate the task of overthrowing capitalism for the proletarians of all countries. Nor could the Russian Communist act otherwise, for only this path offered the chance of producing certain changes in the international situation which could safeguard Russia against the restoration of the bourgeois order.

That is why Russia became the home of Leninism, and why Lenin, the leader of the Russian Communist, became its creator.

(...)

In 1917 the chain of the imperialist world front proved to be weaker in Russia than in the other countries. It was there that the chain broke and provided an outlet for the proletarian revolution. Why? Because in Russian a great popular revolution was unfolding and at its head marched the revolutionary proletariat, which had such an important ally as the vast mass of the peasantry, which was oppressed and exploited by the landlords. Because the revolution there was opposed by such a hideous representative of imperialism as tsarism, which lacked all moral prestige and was deservedly hated by the whole population. The chain proved to be weaker in Russia, although Russia was less developed in a capitalist sense than, say France or Germany, Britain or America.

(...)

It scarcely needs proof that the bourgeois-democratic revolution, in a more of less developed country, must under such circumstances verge upon the proletarian revolution, that the former must pass into the latter. The history of the revolution in Russia has provided palpable proof that this thesis is correct and incontrovertible. It was not without reason that Lenin, as far back as 1905, on the eve of the first Russian revolution, in his pamphlet Two Tactics depicted the bourgeois-democratic revolution and the socialist revolution as two links in the same chain, as a single and integral picture of the sweep of the Russian revolution :

"The proletariat must carry to completion the democratic revolution, by allying to itself the mass of the peasantry in order to crush by force the resistance of the autocracy and to paralyse the instability of the bourgeoisie. The proletariat must accomplish the socialist revolution, by allying to itself the mass of the semi-proletarian elements of the population in order to crush by force the resistance of the bourgeoisie and to paralyse the instability of the peasantry and the petty bourgeoisie. Such are the tasks of the proletariat, which the new Iskra-ists present so narrowly in all their arguments and resolutions about the sweep of the revolution" (see Lenin, Vol. VIII, p. 96).

(...)

Why did Lenin combat the idea of "permanent (uninterrupted) revolution"?

Because Lenin proposed that the revolutionary capacities of the peasantry be "exhausted" and that the fullest use be made of their revolutionary energy for the complete liquidation of tsarism and for the transition to the proletarian revolution, whereas the adherents of "permanent revolution" did not understand the important role of the peasantry in the Russian revolution, underestimated the strength of the revolutionary energy of the peasantry, underestimated the strength and ability of the Russian proletariat to lead the peasantry and thereby hampered the work of emancipating the peasantry from the influence of the bourgeois, the work of rallying the peasantry around the proletariat.

Because Lenin proposed that the revolution be crowned with the transfer of power to the proletariat, whereas the adherents of "permanent" revolution wanted to begin at once with the establishment of the power of the proletariat, failing to realise that in so doing they were closing their eyes to such a "minor detail" as the survivals of serfdom and were leaving out of account so important a force as the Russian peasantry, failing to understand that such a policy could only retard the winning of the peasantry over to the side of the proletariat.

Consequently, Lenin fought the adherents of "permanent" revolution, not over the question of uninterruptedness, for Lenin himself maintained the point of view of uninterrupted revolution, but because they underestimated the role of the peasantry, which is an enormous reserve of the proletariat, because they failed to understand the idea of the hegemony of the proletariat.

(...)

That is why Lenin ridiculed the theory of our "permanentists," calling it "original" and "fine," and accusing them of refusing to "think why, for ten whole years, life has passed by this fine theory." (Lenin's article was written in 1915, ten years after the appearance of the theory of the "permanentists" in Russia. See Vol. XVIII, p. 317.)

That is why Lenin regarded this theory as a semi-Menshevik theory and said that it "borrows from the Bolsheviks their call for a resolute revolutionary struggle by the proletariat and the conquest of political power by the latter, and from the Mensheviks the 'repudiation' of the role of the peasantry" (see Lenin's article "Two Lines of the Revolution," ibid.).

This, then, is the position in regard to Lenin's idea of the bourgeois-democratic revolution passing into the proletarian revolution, of utilising the bourgeois revolution for the "immediate" transition to the proletarian revolution.

(...)

The peasantry during the bourgeois-democratic revolution .

This period extends from the first Russian revolution (1905) to the second revolution (February 1917), inclusive. The characteristic feature of this period is the emancipation of the peasantry from the influence of the liberal bourgeoisie, the peasantry's desertion of the Cadets, its turn towards the proletariat, towards the Bolshevik Party. The history of this period is the history of the struggle between the Cadets (the liberal bourgeoisie) and the Bolsheviks (the proletariat) for the peasantry. The outcome of this struggle was decided by the Duma period, for the period of the four Dumas served as an object lesson to the peasantry, and this lesson brought home to the peasantry the fact that they would receive neither land nor liberty at the hands of the Cadets; that the tsar was wholly in favour of the landlords, and that the Cadets were supporting the tsar; that the only force they could rely on for assistance was the urban workers, the proletariat. The imperialist war merely confirmed the lessons of the Duma period and consummated the peasantry's desertion of the bourgeoisie, consummated the isolation of the liberal bourgeoisie; for the years of the war revealed the utter futility, the utter deceptiveness of all hopes of obtaining peace from the tsar and his bourgeois allies. Without the object lessons of the Duma period, the hegemony of the proletariat would have been impossible.

That is how the alliance between the workers and the peasants in the bourgeois-democratic revolution took shape. That is how the hegemony (leadership) of the proletariat in the common struggle for the overthrow of tsarism took shape-the hegemony which led to the February Revolution of 1917.

(...)

We should bear in mind the following circumstances, which determined the peculiar character of the Russian bourgeois revolution.

a) The unprecedented concentrations of Russia industry on the eve of the revolution. It is known, for instance, that in Russia 54 per cent of all the workers were employed in enterprises employing over 500 workers each, whereas in so highly developed a country as the United States of America no more than 33 per cent of all the workers were employed in such enterprises. It scarcely needs proof that this circumstances alone, in view of the existence of a revolutionary party like the Party of the Bolsheviks, transformed the working class of Russia into an immense force in the political life of the country.

b) The hideous forms of exploitation in the factories, coupled with the intolerable police regime of the tsarist henchmen-a circumstance which transformed every important strike of the workers into an imposing political action and steeled the working class as a force that was revolutionary to the end.

c) The political flabbiness of the Russian bourgeoisie, which after the Revolution of 1905 turned into servility to tsarism and downright counter-revolution-a fact to be explained not only by the revolutionary spirit of the Russian proletariat, which flung the Russian bourgeoisie into the embrace of tsarism, but also by the direct dependence of this bourgeoisie upon government contracts.

d) The existence in the countryside of the most hideous and most intolerable survivals of serfdom, coupled with the unlimited power of the landlord-a circumstance which threw the peasantry into the embrace of the revolution.

e) Tsarism, which stifled everything that was alive, and whose tyranny aggravated the oppression of the capitalist and the landlord-a circumstance which united the struggle of the workers and peasants into a single torrent of revolution.

f) The imperialist war, which fused all these contradictions in the political life of Russia into a profound revolutionary crisis, and which lent the revolution tremendous striking force.

(...)

Our revolution had already passed through two stages, and after the October Revolution it entered a third one. Our strategy changed accordingly.

First stage.

1903 to February 1917. Objective: to overthrow tsarism and completely wipe out the survivals of medievalism. The main force of the revolution: the proletariat. Immediate reserves: the peasantry. Direction of the main blow: the isolation of the liberal-monarchist bourgeoisie, which was striving to win over the peasantry and liquidate the revolution by a compromise with tsarism. Plan for the disposition of forces: alliance of the working class with the peasantry. "The proletariat, must carry to completion the democratic revolution, by allying to itself the mass of the peasantry in order to crush by force the resistance of the autocracy and to paralyse the instability of the bourgeoisie" (see Lenin, Vol. VIII, p.96)

Second stage.

March 1917 to October 1917. Objective: to overthrow imperialism in Russia and to withdraw from the imperialist war. The main force of the revolution: the proletariat. Immediate reserves: the poor peasantry. The proletariat of neighbouring countries as probable reserves. The protracted war and the crisis of imperialism as a favourable factor. Direction of the main blow: isolation of the petty-bourgeois democrats (Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries), who were striving to win over the toiling masses of the peasantry and to put an end to the revolution by a compromise with imperialism. Plan for the disposition of forces: alliance of the proletariat with the poor peasantry. "The proletariat must accomplish the socialist revolution, by allying to itself the mass of the semi-proletarian elements of the population in order to crush by force the resistance of the bourgeoisie and to paralyse the instability of the peasantry and the petty bourgeoisie" (ibid.).

Third stage.

Began after the October Revolution. Objective: to consolidate the dictatorship of the proletariat in one country, using it as a base for the defeat of imperialism in all countries. The revolution spreads beyond the confines of one country; the epoch of world revolution has begun. The main force of the revolution: the dictatorship of the proletariat in one country, the revolutionary movement of the proletariat in all countries. Main reserves: the semi-proletarian and small-peasant masses in the developed countries, the liberation movement of the colonies and dependent countries. Direction of the main blow: isolation of the petty-bourgeois democrats, isolation of the parties of the Second International, which constitute the main support of the policy of compromise with imperialism. Plan for the disposition of forces: alliance of the proletarian revolution with the liberation movement in the colonies and the dependent countries.

 

If one were to listen to Trotsky, one would think that there were only two periods in the history of the preparation for October: the period of reconnaissance and the period of uprising, and that all else comes from the evil one. What was the April demonstration of 1917? "The April demonstration, which went more to the 'Left' than it should have, was a reconnoitering sortie for the purpose of probing the disposition of the masses and the relations between them and the majority in the Soviets." And what was the July demonstration of 1917? In Trotsky's opinion, "this, too, was in fact another, more extensive, reconnaissance at a new and higher phase of the movement." Needless to say, the June demonstration of 1917, which was organized at the demand of our Party, should, according to Trotsky's idea, all the more be termed a "reconnaissance."

This would seem to imply that as early as March 1917 the Bolsheviks had ready a political army of workers and peasants, and that if they did not bring this army into action for an uprising in April, or in June, or in July, but engaged merely in "reconnaissance," it was because, and only because, "the information obtained from the reconnaissance" at the time was unfavorable.

Needless to say, this oversimplified notion of the political tactics of our Party is nothing but a confusion of ordinary military tactics with the revolutionary tactics of the Bolsheviks.

Actually, all these demonstrations were primarily the result of the spontaneous pressure of the masses, the result of the fact that the indignation of the masses against the war had boiled over and sought an outlet in the streets.

Actually, the task of the Party at that time was to shape and to guide the spontaneously arising demonstrations of the masses along the line of the revolutionary slogans of the Bolsheviks.

Actually, the Bolsheviks had no political army ready in March 1917, nor could they have had one. The Bolsheviks built up such an army (and had finally built it up by October 1917) only in the course of the struggle and conflicts of the classes between April and October 1917, through the April demonstration, the June and July demonstrations, the elections to the district and city Dumas, the struggle against the Kornilov revolt, and the winning over of the Soviets. A political army is not like a military army. A military command begins a war with an army ready to hand, whereas the Party has to create its army in the course of the struggle itself, in the course of class conflicts, as the masses themselves become convinced through their own experience of the correctness of the Party's slogans and policy.

Of course, every such demonstration at the same time threw a certain amount of light on the hidden inter-relations of the forces involved, provided certain reconnaissance information, but this reconnaissance was not the motive for the demonstration, but its natural result.

In analyzing the events preceding the uprising in October and comparing them with the events that marked the period from April to July, Lenin says:

"The situation now is not at all what it was prior to April 20-21, June 9, July 3; for then there was spontaneous excitement which we, as a party, either failed to perceive (April 20) or tried to restrain and shape into a peaceful demonstration (June 9 and July 3). For at that time we were fully aware that the Soviets were not yet ours, that the peasants still trusted the Lieber-Dan-Chernov course and not the Bolshevik course (uprising), and that, consequently, we could not have the majority of the people behind us, and hence, an uprising was premature." (See Letter to Comrades.)

It is plain that "reconnaissance" alone does not get one very far.

Obviously, it was not a question of "reconnaissance," but of the following:

1) all through the period of preparation for October the Party invariably relied in its struggle upon the spontaneous upsurge of the mass revolutionary movement;

2) while relying on the spontaneous upsurge, it maintained its own undivided leadership of the movement;

3) this leadership of the movement helped it to form the mass political army for the October uprising;

4) this policy was bound to result in the entire preparation for October proceeding under the leadership of one party, the Bolshevik Party;

5) this preparation for October, in its turn, brought it about that as a result of the October uprising power was concentrated in the hands of one party, the Bolshevik Party.

Thus, the undivided leadership of one party, the Communist Party, as the principal factor in the preparation for October — such is the characteristic feature of the October Revolution, such is the first specific feature of the tactics of the Bolsheviks in the period of preparation for October.

It scarcely needs proof that without this feature of Bolshevik tactics the victory of the dictatorship of the proletariat in the conditions of imperialism would have been impossible.

 

Second specific feature.

The preparation for October thus proceeded under the leadership of one party, the Bolshevik Party. But how did the Party carry out this leadership, along what line did the latter proceed? This leadership proceeded along the line of isolating the compromising parties, as the most dangerous groupings in the period of the outbreak of the revolution, the line of isolating the Socialist-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks.

What is the fundamental strategic rule of Leninism?

It is the recognition of the following:

1) the compromising parties are the most dangerous social support of the enemies of the revolution in the period of the approaching revolutionary outbreak;

2) it is impossible to overthrow the enemy (tsarism or the bourgeoisie) unless these parties are isolated;

3) the main weapons in the period of preparation for the revolution must therefore be directed towards isolating these parties, towards winning the broad masses of the working people away from them.

In the period of the struggle against tsarism, in the period of preparation for the bourgeois-democratic revolution (1905-16), the most dangerous social support of tsarism was the liberal-monarchist party, the Cadet Party. Why? Because it was the compromising party, the party of compromise between tsarism and the majority of the people, i.e., the peasantry as a whole. Naturally, the Party at that time directed its main blows at the Cadets, for unless the Cadets were isolated there could be no hope of a rupture between the peasantry and tsarism, and unless this rupture was ensured there could be no hope of the victory of the revolution. Many people at that time did not understand this specific feature of Bolshevik strategy and accused the Bolsheviks of excessive "Cadetophobia"; they asserted that with the Bolsheviks the struggle against the Cadets "overshadowed" the struggle against the principal enemy — tsarism. But these accusations, for which there was no justification, revealed an utter failure to understand the Bolshevik strategy, which called for the isolation of the compromising party in order to facilitate, to hasten the victory over the principal enemy.

It scarcely needs proof that without this strategy the hegemony of the proletariat in the bourgeois-democratic revolution would have been impossible.

In the period of preparation for October the center of gravity of the conflicting forces shifted to another plane. The tsar was gone. The Cadet Party had been transformed from a compromising force into a governing force, into the ruling force of imperialism. Now the fight was no longer between tsarism and the people, but between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. In this period the petty-bourgeois democratic parties, the parties of the Socialist-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks, were the most dangerous social support of imperialism. Why? Because these parties were then the compromising parties, the parties of compromise between imperialism and the laboring masses. Naturally, the Bolsheviks at that time directed their main blows at these parties; for unless these parties were isolated there could be no hope of a rupture between the laboring masses and imperialism, and unless this rupture was ensured there could be no hope of the victory of the Soviet revolution. Many people at that time did not understand this specific feature of the Bolshevik tactics and accused the Bolsheviks of displaying "excessive hatred" towards the Socialist-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks, and of "forgetting" the principal goal. But the entire period of preparation for October eloquently testifies to the fact that only by pursuing these tactics could the Bolsheviks ensure the victory of the October Revolution.

The characteristic feature of this period was the further revolutionization of the laboring masses of the peasantry, their disillusionment with the Socialist-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks, their defection from these parties, their turn towards rallying directly around the proletariat as the only consistently revolutionary force, capable of leading the country to peace. The history of this period is the history of the struggle between the Socialist-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks, on the one hand, and the Bolsheviks, on the other, for the laboring masses of the peasantry, for winning over these masses. The outcome of this struggle was decided by the coalition period, the Kerensky period, the refusal of the Socialist-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks to confiscate the landlords' land, the fight of the Socialist-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks to continue the war, the June offensive at the front, the introduction of capital punishment for soldiers, the Kornilov revolt. And they decided the issue of this struggle entirely in favor of the Bolshevik strategy; for had not the Socialist-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks been isolated it would have been impossible to overthrow the government of the imperialists, and had this government not been overthrown it would have been impossible to break away from the war. The policy of isolating the Socialist-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks proved to be the only correct policy.

Thus, isolation of the Menshevik and Socialist-Revolutionary parties as the main line in directing the preparations for October — such was the second specific feature of the tactics of the Bolsheviks.

It scarcely needs proof that without this feature of the tactics of the Bolsheviks, the alliance of the working class and the laboring masses of the peasantry would have been left hanging in the air.

It is characteristic that in his The Lessons of October Trotsky says nothing, or next to nothing, about this specific feature of the Bolshevik tactics.

 

Third specific feature.

Thus, the Party, in directing the preparations for October, pursued the line of isolating the Socialist-Revolutionary and Menshevik parties, of winning the broad masses of the workers and peasants away from them. But how, concretely, was this isolation effected by the Party — in what form, under what slogan? It was effected in the form of the revolutionary mass movement for the power of the Soviets, under the slogan "All power to the Soviets!", by means of the struggle to convert the Soviets from organs for mobilizing the masses into organs of the uprising, into organs of power, into the apparatus of a new proletarian state power.

Why was it precisely the Soviets that the Bolsheviks seized upon as the principal organizational lever that could facilitate the task of isolating the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries, that was capable of advancing the cause of the proletarian revolution, and that was destined to lead the millions of laboring masses to the victory of the dictatorship of the proletariat?

What are the Soviets?

"The Soviets," said Lenin as early as September 1917, "are a new state apparatus, which, in the first place, provides an armed force of workers and peasants; and this force is not divorced from the people, as was the old standing army, but is most closely bound up with the people. From the military standpoint, this force is incomparably more powerful than previous forces; from the revolutionary standpoint, it cannot be replaced by anything else. Secondly, this apparatus provides a bond with the masses, with the majority of the people, so intimate, so indissoluble, so readily controllable and renewable, that there was nothing even remotely like it in the previous state apparatus. Thirdly, this apparatus, by virtue of the fact that its personnel is elected and subject to recall at the will of the people without any bureaucratic formalities, is far more democratic than any previous apparatus. Fourthly, it provides a close contact with the most diverse professions, thus facilitating the adoption of the most varied and most profound reforms without bureaucracy. Fifthly, it provides a form of organization of the vanguard, i.e., of the most politically conscious, most energetic and most progressive section of the oppressed classes, the workers and peasants, and thus constitutes an apparatus by means of which the vanguard of the oppressed classes can elevate, train, educate, and lead the entire vast mass of these classes, which has hitherto stood quite remote from political life, from history. Sixthly, it makes it possible to combine the advantages of parliamentarism with the advantages of immediate and direct democracy, i.e., to unite in the persons of the elected representatives of the people both legislative and executive functions. Compared with bourgeois parliamentarism, this represents an advance in the development of democracy which is of world-wide historic significance. . . .

"Had not the creative spirit of the revolutionary classes of the people given rise to the Soviets, the proletarian revolution in Russia would be a hopeless affair; for the proletariat undoubtedly could not retain power with the old state apparatus, and it is impossible to create a new apparatus immediately."

That is why the Bolsheviks seized upon the Soviets as the principal organizational link that could facilitate the task of organizing the October Revolution and the creation of a new, powerful apparatus of the proletarian state power.

From the point of view of its internal development, the slogan "All power to the Soviets!" passed through two stages: the first (up to the July defeat of the Bolsheviks, during the period of dual power), and the second (after the defeat of the Kornilov revolt).

During the first stage this slogan meant breaking the bloc of the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries with the Cadets, the formation of a Soviet Government consisting of Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries (for at that time the Soviets were Socialist-Revolutionary and Menshevik), the right of free agitation for the opposition (i.e., for the Bolsheviks), and the free struggle of parties within the Soviets, in the expectation that by means of such a struggle the Bolsheviks would succeed in capturing the Soviets and changing the composition of the Soviet Government in the course of a peaceful development of the revolution. This plan, of course, did not signify the dictatorship of the proletariat. But it undoubtedly facilitated the preparation of the conditions required for ensuring the dictatorship; for, by putting the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries in power and compelling them to carry out in practice their anti-revolutionary platform, it hastened the exposure of the true nature of these parties, hastened their isolation, their divorce from the masses. The July defeat of the Bolsheviks, however, interrupted this development; for it gave preponderance to the generals' and Cadets' counter-revolution and threw the Socialist-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks into the arms of that counter-revolution. This compelled the Party temporarily to withdraw the slogan "All power to the Soviets!", only to put it forward again in the conditions of a fresh revolutionary upsurge.

The defeat of the Kornilov revolt ushered in the second stage. The slogan "All power to the Soviets!" became again the immediate slogan. But now this slogan had a different meaning from that in the first stage. Its content had radically changed. Now this slogan meant a complete rupture with imperialism and the passing of power to the Bolsheviks, for the majority of the Soviets were already Bolshevik. Now this slogan meant the revolution's direct approach towards the dictatorship of the proletariat by means of an uprising. More than that, this slogan now meant the organization of the dictatorship of the proletariat and giving it a state form.

The inestimable significance of the tactics of transforming the Soviets into organs of state power lay in the fact that they caused millions of working people to break away from imperialism, exposed the Menshevik and Socialist-Revolutionary parties as the tools of imperialism, and brought the masses by a direct route, as it were, to the dictatorship of the proletariat.

Thus, the policy of transforming the Soviets into organs of state power, as the most important condition for isolating the compromising parties and for the victory of the dictatorship of the proletariat — such is the third specific feature of the tactics of the Bolsheviks in the period of preparation for October.

 

Fourth specific feature.

The picture would not be complete if we did not deal with the question of how and why the Bolsheviks were able to transform their Party slogans into slogans for the vast masses, into slogans which pushed the revolution forward; how and why they succeeded in convincing not only the vanguard, and not only the majority of the working class, but also the majority of the people, of the correctness of their policy.

The point is that for the victory of the revolution, if it is really a people's revolution embracing the masses in their millions, correct Party slogans alone are not enough. For the victory of the revolution one more necessary condition is required, namely, that the masses themselves become convinced through their own experience of the correctness of these slogans. Only then do the slogans of the Party become the slogans of the masses themselves. Only then does the revolution really become a people's revolution. One of the specific features of the tactics of the Bolsheviks in the period of preparation for October was that they correctly determined the paths and turns which would naturally lead the masses to the Party's slogans — to the very threshold of the revolution, so to speak — thus helping them to feel, to test, to realize by their own experience the correctness of these slogans. In other words, one of the specific features of the tactics of the Bolsheviks is that they do not confuse leadership of the Party with leadership of the masses; that they clearly see the difference between the first sort of leadership and the second; that they, therefore, represent the science, not only of leadership of the Party, but of leadership of the vast masses of the working people.

A graphic example of the manifestation of this feature of Bolshevik tactics was provided by the experience of convening and dispersing the Constituent Assembly.

It is well known that the Bolsheviks advanced the slogan of a Republic of Soviets as early as April 1917. It is well known that the Constituent Assembly was a bourgeois parliament, fundamentally opposed to the principles of a Republic of Soviets. How could it happen that the Bolsheviks, who were advancing towards a Republic of Soviets, at the same time demanded that the Provisional Government should immediately convene the Constituent Assembly? How could it happen that the Bolsheviks not only took part in the elections, but themselves convened the Constituent Assembly? How could it happen that a month before the uprising, in the transition from the old to the new, the Bolsheviks considered a temporary combination of a Republic of Soviets with the Constituent Assembly possible?

This "happened" because:

1) the idea of a Constituent Assembly was one of the most popular ideas among the broad masses of the population;

2) the slogan of the immediate convocation of the Constituent Assembly helped to expose the counter-revolutionary nature of the Provisional Government;

3) in order to discredit the idea of a Constituent Assembly in the eyes of the masses, it was necessary to lead the masses to the walls of the Constituent Assembly with their demands for land, for peace, for the power of the Soviets, thus bringing them face to face with the actual, live Constituent Assembly;

4) only this could help the masses to become convinced through their own experience of the counter-revolutionary nature of the Constituent Assembly and of the necessity of dispersing it;

5) all this naturally presupposed the possibility of a temporary combination of the Republic of Soviets with the Constituent Assembly, as one of the means for eliminating the Constituent Assembly;

6) such a combination, if brought about under the condition that all power was transferred to the Soviets, could only signify the subordination of the Constituent Assembly to the Soviets, its conversion into an appendage of the Soviets, its painless extinction.

It scarcely needs proof that had the Bolsheviks not adopted such a policy the dispersion of the Constituent Assembly would not have taken place so smoothly, and the subsequent actions of the Socialist-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks under the slogan "All power to the Constituent Assembly!" would not have failed so signally.

"We took part," says Lenin, "in the elections to the Russian bourgeois parliament, the Constituent Assembly, in September-November 1917. Were our tactics correct or not? . . . Did not we, the Russian Bolsheviks, have more right in September-November 1917 than any Western Communists to consider that parliamentarism was politically obsolete in Russia? Of course we had; for the point is not whether bourgeois parliaments have existed for a long or a short time, but how far the broad masses of the working people are prepared (ideologically, politically and practically) to accept the Soviet system and to disperse the bourgeois-democratic parliament (or allow it to be dispersed). That, owing to a number of special conditions, the working class of the towns and the soldiers and peasants of Russia were in September-November 1917 exceptionally well prepared to accept the Soviet system and to disperse the most democratic of bourgeois parliaments, is an absolutely incontestable and fully established historical fact. Nevertheless, the Bolsheviks did not boycott the Constituent Assembly, but took part in the elections both before the proletariat conquered political power and after." (See "Left-Wing" Communism, an Infantile Disorder.)

Why then did they not boycott the Constituent Assembly?

Because, says Lenin, "participation in a bourgeois-democratic parliament even a few weeks before the victory of a Soviet Republic, and even after such a victory, not only does not harm the revolutionary proletariat, but actually helps it to prove to the backward masses why such parliaments deserve to be dispersed; it helps their successful dispersal, and helps to make bourgeois parliamentarism 'politically obsolete.'" (See "Left-Wing" Communism, an Infantile Disorder)

It is characteristic that Trotsky does not understand this feature of Bolshevik tactics and snorts at the "theory" of combining the Constituent Assembly with the Soviets, qualifying it as Hilferdingism.

He does not understand that to permit such a combination, accompanied by the slogan of an uprising and the probable victory of the Soviets, in connection with the convocation of the Constituent Assembly, was the only revolutionary tactics, which had nothing in common with the Hilferding tactics of converting the Soviets into an appendage of the Constituent Assembly; he does not understand that the mistake committed by some comrades in this question gives him no grounds for disparaging the absolutely correct position taken by Lenin and the Party on the "combined type of state power" under certain conditions. (Cf. "Letter to Comrades")

He does not understand that if the Bolsheviks had not adopted this special policy towards the Constituent Assembly they would not have succeeded in winning over to their side the vast masses of the people; and if they had not won over these masses they could not have transformed the October uprising into a profound people's revolution.

It is interesting to note that Trotsky even snorts at the words "people," "revolutionary democracy," etc., occurring in articles by Bolsheviks, and considers them improper for a Marxist to use.

Trotsky has evidently forgotten that even in September 1917, a month before the victory of the dictatorship of the proletariat, Lenin, that unquestionable Marxist, wrote of "the necessity of the immediate transfer of the whole power to the revolutionary democracy headed by the revolutionary proletariat." (See Marxism and Insurrection.)

Trotsky has evidently forgotten that Lenin, that unquestionable Marxist, quoting the well-known letter of Marx to Kugelmann (April 1871) to the effect that the smashing of the bureaucratic-military state machine is the preliminary condition for every real people's revolution on the continent, writes in black and white the following lines:

"Particular attention should be paid to Marx's extremely profound remark that the destruction of the bureaucratic-military state machine is 'the preliminary condition for every real people's revolution.' This concept of a 'people's' revolution seems strange coming from Marx, and the Russian Plekhanovites and Mensheviks, those followers of Struve who wish to be regarded as Marxists, might possibly declare such an expression to be a 'slip of the pen' on Marx's part. They have reduced Marxism to such a state of wretchedly liberal distortion that nothing exists for them beyond the antithesis between bourgeois revolution and proletarian revolution — and even this antithesis they interpret in an extremely lifeless way. . . .

"In Europe, in 1871, there was not a single country on the continent in which the proletariat constituted the majority of the people. A 'people's' revolution, one that actually brought the majority into movement, could be such only if it embraced both the proletariat and the peasantry. These two classes then constituted the 'people.' These two classes are united by the fact that the 'bureaucratic-military state machine' oppresses, crushes, exploits them. To break up this machine, to smash it — this is truly in the interest of the 'people,' of the majority, of the workers and most of the peasants, this is 'the preliminary condition' for a free alliance between the poor peasants and the proletarians, whereas without such an alliance democracy is unstable and socialist transformation is impossible." (See The State and Revolution.)

These words of Lenin's should not be forgotten.

Thus, ability to convince the masses of the correctness of the Party slogans on the basis of their own experience, by bringing them to the revolutionary positions, as the most important condition for the winning over of the millions of working people to the side of the Party — such is the fourth specific feature of the tactics of the Bolsheviks in the period of preparation for October.

I think that what I have said is quite sufficient to get a clear idea of the characteristic features of these tactics.

 

Concerning Questions of Leninism

January 25, 1926

 

IV
THE PROLETARIAN REVOLUTION AND THE DICTATORSHIP OF THE PROLETARIAT

 

What are the characteristic features of the proletarian revolution as distinct from the bourgeois revolution?

The distinction between the proletarian revolution and the bourgeois revolution may be reduced to five main points.

1) The bourgeois revolution usually begins when there already exist more or less ready-made forms belonging to the capitalist order, forms which have grown and matured within the womb of feudal society prior to the open revolution, whereas the proletarian revolution begins when ready-made forms belonging to the socialist order are either absent, or almost absent.

2) The main task of the bourgeois revolution consists in seizing power and making it conform to the already existing bourgeois economy, whereas the main task of the proletarian revolution consists, after seizing power, in building a new, socialist economy.

3) The bourgeois revolution is usually consummated with the seizure of power, whereas in the proletarian revolution the seizure of power is only the beginning, and power is used as a lever for transforming the old economy and organising the new one.

4) The bourgeois revolution limits itself to replacing one group of exploiters in power by another group of exploiters, in view of which it need not smash the old state machine; whereas the proletarian revolution removes all exploiting groups from power and places in power the leader of all the toilers and exploited, the class of proletarians, in view of which it cannot manage without smashing the old state machine and substituting a now one for it.

5) The bourgeois revolution cannot rally the millions of the toiling and exploited masses around the bourgeoisie for any length of time, for the very reason that they are toilers and exploited; whereas the proletarian revolution can and must link them, precisely as toilers and exploited, in a durable alliance with the proletariat, if it wishes to carry out its main task of consolidating the power of the proletariat and building a new, socialist economy.

Here are some of Lenin’s main theses on this subject:

Here are some of Lenin’s main theses on this subject:

“One of the fundamental differences between bourgeois revolution and socialist revolution,” says Lenin, “is that for the bourgeois revolution, which arises out of feudalism, the new economic organisations are gradually created in the womb of the old order, gradually changing all the aspects of feudal society. Bourgeois revolution was confronted by only one task—to sweep away, to cast aside, to destroy all the fetters of the preceding society. By fulfilling this task every bourgeois revolution fulfils all that is required of it: it accelerates the growth of capitalism.

“The socialist revolution is in an altogether different position. The more backward the country which, owing to the zigzags of history, has proved to be the one to start the socialist revolution, the more difficult it is for it to pass from the old capitalist relations to socialist relations. To the tasks of destruction are added new tasks of unprecedented difficulty—organisational tasks” (see Vol. XXII, p. 315).

“Had not the popular creative spirit of the Russian revolution,” continues Lenin, “which had gone through the great experience of the year 1905, given rise to the Soviets as early as February 1917, they could not under any circumstances have seized power in October, because success depended entirely upon the existence of ready-made organisational forms of a movement embracing millions. These ready-made forms were the Soviets, and that is why in the political sphere there awaited us those brilliant successes, the continuous triumphant march, that we experienced; for the new form of political power was ready to hand, and all we had to do was, by passing a few decrees, to transform the power of the Soviets from the embryonic state in which it existed in the first months of the revolution into a legally recognised form which has become established in the Russian state—i.e., into the Russian Soviet Republic” (see Vol. XXII, p. 315).

“But two problems of enormous difficulty still remained,” says Lenin, “the solution of which could not possibly be the triumphant march which our revolution experienced in the first months . . . ” (ibid.).

“Firstly, there were the problems of internal organisation, which confront every socialist revolution. The difference between socialist revolution and bourgeois revolution lies precisely in the fact that the latter finds ready-made forms of capitalist relationships, while Soviet power—proletarian power—does not inherit such ready-made relationships, if we leave out of account the most developed forms of capitalism, which, strictly speaking, extended to but a small top layer of industry and hardly touched agriculture. The organisation of accounting, the control of large enterprises, the transformation of the whole of the state economic mechanism into a single huge machine, into an economic organism that works in such a way that hundreds of millions of people are guided by a single plan—such was the enormous organisational problem that rested on our shoulders. Under the present conditions of labour this problem could not possibly be solved by the ‘hurrah’ methods by which we were able to solve the problems of the Civil War” (ibid., p. 318).

“The second enormous difficulty . . . was the international question. The reason why we were able to cope so easily with Kerensky’s gangs, why we so easily established our power and without the slightest difficulty passed the decrees on the socialisation of the land and on workers’ control, the reason why we achieved all this so easily was only that a fortunate combination of circumstances protected us for a short time from international imperialism. International imperialism, with the entire might of its capital, with its highly organised military technique, which is a real force, a real fortress of international capital, could in no case, under no circumstances, live side by side with the Soviet Republic, both because of its objective position and because of the economic interests of the capitalist class which is embodied in it—it could not do so because of commercial connections, of international financial relations. In this sphere a conflict is inevitable. Therein lies the greatest difficulty of the Russian revolution, its greatest historical problem: the necessity of solving the international tasks, the necessity of calling forth an international revolution” (see Vol. XXII, p. 317).

Such is the intrinsic character and the basic meaning of the proletarian revolution.

Can such a radical transformation of the old bourgeois order be achieved without a violent revolution, without the dictatorship of the proletariat?

Obviously not. To think that such a revolution can be carried out peacefully, within the framework of bourgeois democracy, which is adapted to the rule of the bourgeoisie, means that one has either gone out of one’s mind and lost normal human understanding, or has grossly and openly repudiated the proletarian revolution.

 

 

 

The War

March 16, 1917

 

Bidding for Ministerial Portfolios

March 16, 1917

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One hundred years ago, on March 6 (February 21), the Petrograd Mezhrayonka (Interdistrict Committee) distributed the following

 

Leaflet

on International Women’s Day.

R.S.D.W.P.

March 6, 1917

 

Russian Social Democratic Workers’ Party.
Proletarians of all countries, unite!


Working women comrades! For ten years, women of all countries have observed February 23rd as Women Workers’ Day, as women’s “May First.” American women were the first to mark this as the day to review their forces on it. Gradually, women of the entire world joined them. On this day, meetings and assemblies are held at which attempts are made to explain the reasons for our difficult situation and to show the way out of it.


It has been a long time since women first entered the factories and mills to earn their bread.  For a long time, millions of women have stood at the machines all day on an equal footing with men. Factory owners work both male and female comrades to exhaustion. Both men and women are thrown in jail for going on strike. Both men and women need to struggle against the owners. But women entered the family of workers later than men. Often, they still are afraid and do not know what they should demand and how to demand it. The owners have always used their ignorance and timidity against them and still do.


On this day, especially, comrades, let’s think about how we can conquer our enemy, the capitalist, as quickly as possible. We will remember our near and dear ones on the front. We will recall the difficult struggle they waged to wring from the owners each extra ruble of pay and each hour of rest, and each liberty from the government. How many of them fell at the front, or were cast into prison or exile for their brave struggle? You replaced them in the rear, in the mills and factories. Your duty is to continue their great cause – that of emancipating all humanity from oppression and slavery.


Women workers, you should not hold back those male comrades who remain, but rather you should join them in fraternal struggle against the government and the factory owners. It is for their sake that war is waged, so many tears are shed, and so much blood is spilled in all countries. This terrible slaughter has now gone into its third year. Our fathers, husbands, and brothers are perishing. Our dear ones arrive home as unfortunate wretches and cripples. The tsarist government sent them to the front. It maimed and killed them, but it does not care about their sustenance.


There is no end in sight to the shedding of worker blood. Workers were shot down on Bloody Sunday, January 9, 1905, and massacred during the Lena Goldfields strike in April 1912. More recently, workers were shot in Ivanovo-Voznesensk, Shuia, Gorlovka, and Kostroma. Worker blood is shed on all fronts. The empress trades in the peoples’ blood and sells off Russia piece by piece. They send nearly unarmed soldiers to certain death by shooting. They kill hundreds of thousands of people on the front and they profit financially from this.


Under the pretext of war, owners of factories and mills try to turn workers into serfs. The cost of living grows terribly high in all cities. Hunger knocks at everyone’s door. From the villages, they take away cattle and the last morsels of bread for the war. For hours, we stand in line for food. Our children are starving. How many of them have been neglected and lost their parents? They run wild and many become hooligans. Hunger has driven many girls, who are still children, to walk the streets. Many children stand at machines doing work beyond their physical capacity until late at night. Grief and tears are all around us.


It is hard for working people not only in Russia, but in all countries. Not long ago the German government cruelly suppressed an uprising of the hungry in Berlin. In France, the police are in a fury. They send people to the front for going on strike. Everywhere the war brings disaster, a high cost of living, and oppression of the working class.


Comrades, working women, for whose sake is war waged? Do we need to kill millions of Austrian and German workers and peasants? German workers did not want to fight either. Our close ones do not go willingly to the front. They are forced to go. The Austrian, English, and German workers go just as unwillingly. Tears accompany them in their countries as in ours. War is waged for the sake of gold, which glitters in the eyes of capitalists, who profit from it. Ministers, mill owners, and bankers hope to fish in troubled waters. They become rich in wartime. After the war, they will not pay military taxes. Workers and peasants will bear all the sacrifices and pay all the costs.


Dear women comrades, will we keep on tolerating this silently for very long, with occasional outbursts of boiling rage against smalltime traders? Indeed, it is not they who are at fault for the people’s calamities. They are ruined themselves. The government is guilty. It began this war and cannot end it. It ravages the country. It is its fault that you are starving. The capitalists are guilty. It is waged for their profit. It’s well-nigh time to shout to them: Enough! Down with the criminal government and its entire gang of thieves and murderers. Long live peace!


Already the day of retribution approaches. A long time ago, we ceased to believe the tales of the government ministers and the masters. Popular rage is increasing in all countries. Workers everywhere are beginning to understand that they can’t expect their governments to end the war. If they do conclude peace, it will entail attempts to take others’ land, to rob another country, and this will lead to new slaughter. Workers do not need that which belongs to someone else.

 

Down with the autocracy!
Long live the Revolution!
Long live the Provisional Revolutionary Government!
Down with war!
Long live the Democratic Republic!
Long live the international solidarity of the proletariat!
Long live the united RSDRP.
Petersburg Interdistrict Committee


Published in A.G. Shlyapnikov, Semnadtsatyi god, volume 1, 1923, pp. 306-308.

 

 

 

100 years ago on February 6 (January 24), 1917, the Bolsheviks issued the following proclamation

 

Proclamation by the Bolshevik Petersburg Committee of the Russian Social Democratic Workers’ Party, February 1917

Russian Social Democratic Workers’ Party
Proletarians of the entire world, unite!

 

Comrades!  

The ruling classes have tightened the noose which they hung around the neck of the peoples of Europe. Millions of human lives have perished. The best and healthiest young forces of the people have been maimed or killed. Millions more suffer in captivity. Work comes to a halt and there is hunger.  

As many as fifteen million people from all combatant countries have lost their lives during the two years of slaughter, which have increased the profits of those with power in this world. What an unprecedented crime! Shame on those who undertook this mass extermination of the finest forces of the people! We, the worker vanguard and oppressed democratic forces, who spill our blood for a cause alien to us, face a great and difficult duty – to put an end to this crime!

 

And what do they do? 

During the past two and a half years, have we heard even a weak voice of reason from the ruling classes, who dispose over the fate of the peoples whom they oppress? Now is the second anniversary of the trial of the representatives of the Russian working class in the State Duma. Since the very beginning of the war, the State Duma has cried out at its sessions for Russia’s economy to flourish. Yet behind the walls of the Tauride Palace, the Duma ruins the economy by putting it at the mercy of the wolfish appetites of gentry landowners, capitalist factory owners, and bankers. 

After our deputies were expelled from the State Duma, quickly tried, and banished to remote, cold Siberia, the gentry landowners and capitalists rubbed their hands in satisfaction that they might speak more freely in the State Duma. But for two years, the State Duma has said nothing regarding the violation of its rights. It will also be silent on the second anniversary of deputies’ exile. On the other hand, it will shout out and its agents will hustle about to seek among the working class, which it has decapitated, a sympathetic response to the servile speeches of “comradely” deputies. 

And they can find some chauvinist groups of workers, who have been blinded by the tempest of war and who will carry Duma liberals’ lustful cravings into the workers’ midst. The most capricious rumors about the State Duma’s intentions are circulating among workers now, on the eve of the proposed convocation of the State Duma on 14 February. It is easy to see that the State Duma is not prepared to do anything new. But Duma liberals once more are not averse to making menacing gestures while protected by a wall of workers who have risen.  

In the factories, workers heard the call to support the State Duma and even to push it to take a resolute step by presenting demands at the doors of the Tauride Palace. This summons is not only useless but also traitorous. Going in supplication to the palaces of tsars and ruling classes will dearly cost the credulous people who hoped to receive something from the inhabitants of these palaces.  

Liberals and liberal worker politicians, when they do not have sufficient gunpowder, gladly dress up in front of the people as resolute warriors for the people’s cause. But they conceal their actual intentions. Comrades, they come running to offer assistance, so that you would allow them to surrender the country more fully to further military plunder and to endlessly wage war “to the end.” They do not speak about this directly to us, but it is their fondest dream.

 

Our appeal 

We know what the fine words of liberals mean when they shout their dissatisfaction with the current government yet secretly apportion among themselves future ministerial seats. From their tongues slip resolute phrases about taking power or about a “provisional government,” depending on the organized people for support, yet they say not a word about war. We fully understand that only the mighty blow of democracy will put a stop to the harassment of the people and to their ordeal.

We should tell them: “All our efforts are directed against you and the war that you started. We are against the tsarist monarchy that you love so much because the monarch’s scepter conceals your appetites and your dark deeds. We are against the tsarist government. You say you want to struggle against it, but you are afraid of its defeat, because only the tsarist government allows you to toy with the people.

We are for a democratic republic, which will put power into the hands of the people. We are for a provisional revolutionary government of workers and poor peasants. It will be able to convene a National Constituent Assembly based on universal, equal, direct, and secret suffrage. We are against the chauvinist criminal greed of each nation’s capitalists, who divide up the world and inflict deep wounds upon it. We are for the international solidarity of workers, which will bring peace and happiness to the people.

On February 10, the anniversary of the day when the tsarist court struck a blow against our deputies, we will send them our fraternal greeting, for they gave their utmost strength in struggle for our slogans. We demand the immediate return of our deputies and we will mark this anniversary by holding a one-day strike. This will be a sign of our readiness to give our lives in struggle for the demands that our exiled deputies proclaimed openly.  

Down with tsarist monarchy! War on war! Long live the Provisional Revolutionary Government! Long live the National Constituent Assembly! Long live the Democratic Republic! Long live International Socialism!  

Petersburg Committee of the Russian Social Democratic Workers’ Party

 

Published in A.G. Shlyapnikov, Semnadtsatyi god, volume 1, 1923, pp. 303-6.