THEORETICAL JOURNAL OF THE COMMUNIST
LEAGUE; MAY 1975; Number 3.
REVISIONISM IN RUSSIA:
TROTSKY AGAINST THE BOLSHEVIKS
- PART 2:
This is the second part of a study of the development
of revisionism in Russia, and covers the period from the outbreak of World
War I in 1914 to the victory of the socialist revolution in November 1917.
Later reports will cover the further development of
Russia from 1917 onwards.
Printed and published by: comrade BC, for the COMMUUNIST
The aim of the Communist League is to establish
a Marxist-Leninist Party in Britain free of all revisionist trends.
Part One of 'Revisionism in
Russia" (to 1914), in COMPASS of April 1975
REVISIONISM IN RUSSIA TROTSKY
AGAINST THE BOLSHEVIKS
Part Two: 1914 to 1917
In August 1914, the First Imperialist War
The First Imperialist
Almost from the outset, three trends manifested
themselves in the labour movements of the belligerent countries:
'In the course of the two and half years of war the
international Socialist and labour movement in every country has
evolved three tendencies.
The three tendencies are:
1) The social-chauvinists, i.e., Socialists in words
and chauvinists in action, people who are in favour of 'national defence'
in an imperialist war. . .
These people are our class enemies. They have
gone over to the bourgeoisie. .
2) The second tendency is what is known as the 'Centre',
consisting of people who vacillate between the social-chauvinists
and the true internationalists.
All those who belong to the 'Centre' swear that
they are Marxists and internationalists, that they are in favour of peace,
of bringing every kind of 'pressure' to bear upon the governments,
of 'demanding' that their own governments should 'ascertain' the will of
the people for peace', that they favour all sorts of peace campaigns, that
they are for a peace without annexations, etc., etc. -- and for peace
with the social-chauvinists.
The 'Centre' is for 'unity', the 'Centre' is opposed
to a split.
The 'Centre' is a realm of honeyed petty-bourgeois
phrases of internationalism in word and cowardly opportunism and fawning
on the social-chauvinists in deed.
The fact of the matter is that the 'Centre' does not
preach revolution; it does not carry on a wholehearted revolutionary struggle;
and in order to evade such a struggle it resorts to the tritest ultra-'Marxist'
excuses. . . . .
3) The third tendency, the true internationalists,
is most closely represented by the 'Zimmerwald Left'
. . . .
It is characterised mainly by its complete break with
both social-chauvinism and 'Centrism', and by its relentless war against
its own imperialist government and against
its own imperialist bourgeoisie".
(V. I. Lenin: "The Tasks of the Proletariat in Our
Revolution" in: "Selected Works', Volume 6; London; l946; p. 63, 64, 65-66).
Trotsky's "The War and the International"
On the outbreak of war, Trotsky was forced to leave
Vienna and for two months he settled in Zurich, where he wrote "The
War and the International', which was published in November in "Golos"
(The Voice), a Menshevik paper published in Paris.
In this work Trotsky put forward the view that "the
main obstacle to economic development' was the existence the national state":
"The old national state .. has outlived itself, and
is now an intolerable hindrance to economic development. . . .
The outlived and antiquated national 'fatherland'
has become the main obstacle to economic development . . . .
The national states have become a hindrance to the
development of the forces of production".
(L. Trotsky: Preface to "The War and the International";
London; 1971; p. vii, x, xii).
Thus, declared Trotsky, the aim of the working class should
be the creation of a 'republican United States of Europe":
"The task of the proletariat is to create a far more
powerful fatherland, with far greater power of resistance -
the republican United States of Europe".
Lenin at first (in one document only) accepted the slogan
of a "United States of Europe":
"The immediate political slogan of the Social-Democrats
of Europe must be the formation of a republican United States of Europe".
(V. I. Lenin: 'The War and Russian Social-Democracy'
in: "Selected Works;' Volume 5; Moscow; 1935; p. 129).
By August 1915, however, the Bolsheviks, on Lenin's
initiative had decisively rejected this slogan, firstly, because it could,
under capitalist society, only be reactionary:
"From the point of view of the economic conditions
of imperialism, . . the United States of Europe is either impossible or
reactionary under capitalism. A United States
of Europe under capitalism is equivalent to an agreement to divide up the
colonies. Under capitalism, however, . . no other principle of division
. . . . is possible except force. . . Division cannot take place except
'in proportion to strength', And strength changes in the course of economic
Of course, temporary agreements between capitalists
and between the powers are possible. In this sense, the United States of
Europe is possible as an agreement between the European capitalists. .
but what for? Only for the purpose of jointly suppressing socialism in
Europe, of jointly protecting colonial booty against Japan and America.
. . Under capitalism, the United States of Europe would mean the organisation
of reaction to retard the more rapid development of America".
(V. I. Lenin: 'The United States of Europe Slogan',
in: "Selected Works", Volume 5; London 1935; p. 139,
and secondly because if regarded as a socialist slogan,
it suggests that_the victory of socialism was possible only on an all European
"Uneven economic and political development is an
absolute law of capitalism. Hence, the victory of socialism is possible,
first in a few or even in one single capitalist country".
(V. I. Lenin: ibid.; p.141).
"It is for those reasons and after repeated debates
that the editors of the central organ have come to the conclusion that
the United States of Europe slogan is incorrect'".
That Trotsky did, in fact, link the Slogan of "a United
States of Europe" with the concept, inherent in his "theory of permanent
revolution", that proletarian revolution could only be successful an an
international scale, is shown by his reply to Lenin's article:
"The only more or less concrete historical argument
advanced against the slogan of a United States of Europe was formulated
in the Swiss 'Sotsial-Demokrat' in the following sentence:
(V.I. Lenin: ibid.; p. 141).
'Uneven economic and political
development is an absolute law of capitalism'.
From this the 'Sotsial-Domokrat' draws the conclusion
that the victory of socialism is possible in one country, and that therefore
there is no reason to make the dictatorship of the proletariat in each
separate country contingent upon the establishment of a United States of
Europe. That capitalist development in different countries is uneven is
an absolutely incontrovertible argument. But this unevenness is itself
extremely uneven. The capitalist level of Britain, Austria, Germany or
France is not identical. But in comparison with Africa and Asia all these
countries represent capitalist 'Europe', which has grown ripe for the social
revolution. That no country in its struggle must 'wait' for others, is
an elementary thought which it is useful and necessary to reiterate in
order that he idea of concurrent international action may not be replaced
by the idea of temporising international inaction.
Without waiting for the others, we begin and continue
the struggle nationally, in the full confidence that our initiative will
give an impetus to the struggle in other countries; but if this should
not occur, it would be hopeless to think -- as historical experience and
theoretical considerations testify -- that, for example, a revolutionary
Russia could hold out in the face of a conservative Europe".
(L. Trotsky: Article in "Nashe Slovo" (Our Word), No.
87; April 12th., 1916, cited in: J. V. Stalin: "The October Revolution
and the Tactics of the Russian Communists", in: 'Works", Volume 6; Moscow;
1953; p. 390-1).
In the autumn of 1916 Lenin reiterated his opposition
to Trotsky's slogan of a United States of Europe:
"As early as 1902, he (i.e., the British economist
John Hobson -- Ed.) had an excellent insight into the meaning and significance
of a 'United States of Europe'' (be it said for the benefit of Trotsky
the Kautskyian!) and of all that is now being glossed over by the hypocritical
Kautskians of various countries, namely, that the opportunists
(social-chauvinists) are working hand in hand with the imperialist bourgeoisie
precisely towards creating an imperialist Europe on the backs of
Asia and Africa".
(V. I. Lenin: 'Imperialism and the Split in Socialism",
in: "Selected Works", Volume 11; London; l943; p. 752).
Trotsky, however, continued -- even after the Russian
October Revolution of 1917 -- to hold that the construction of socialism
in Europe was possible only on an all-European basis. In the postscript
to a collection of articles published in 1922 under the title of
"A Peace Programme", he wrote:
"The assertion reiterated several times in the 'Peace
Programme' that a proletarian revolution cannot culminate victoriously
within national bounds may perhaps seem to some readers to have been refuted
by the nearly five years' experience of our Soviet Republic. But such a
conclusion would be unwarranted. . . We have not arrived, or even begun
to arrive, at tho creation of a socialist society. . . Real progress of
a socialist economy in Russia will become possible only after the victory
of the proletariat in the major European countries." (L. Trotsky: Postscript
to 'A Peace Programme , cited by: J. V. Stalin: "The Social-Democratic
Deviation in our Party; in: "Works", Volume 8; Moscow; l954; p. 271-2).
In November l914, Trotsky left Switzerland for
Paris to take up the post of war correspondent of the newspaper "Kievskaya
Mysl" (Kievan Thought), which supported the war effort of the tsarist
Settled in Paris, he joined the editorial staff of
"Golos" (The Voice) , a newspaper published by a group of Mensheviks
headed by Yuli Martov who, unlike the official Menshevik leadership
which supported the war effort of the tsarist government, had adopted an
attitude of verbal opposition to the war without seeking to organise
active revolutionary struggle against the tsarist regime. "Golos"
had commenced publication in September l914, and, when it was suppressed
by the French government in January 1915, it was replaced by "Nashe
Slovo" (Our Word), on the editorial staff of which Trotsky continued
The chief organiser of the paper was Vladimir Antonov-Ovseenko
(a former tsarist officer who after the October Revolution became Director
of the Political Administration of the Red Army) . Its Paris staff included,
in addition to Trotsky, Anatoly Lunacharsky (who later became Commissar
for Education), David Ryazanov (later director of the Marx-Engels
Institute), Solomon Lozovsky (later head of the Red International
of Labour Unions), Dmitri Manuilsky (later head of the Communist
International) Grigori Sokolnikov (later Commissar for Finance),
and the historian Mikhail Pokrovsky (later director of the Soviet
State Archives). Its foreign correspondents included Grigori Chicherin
(later Commissar for Foreign Affairs), Aleksandra Kollontai
(later Commissar of Social Welfare), Karl Radek (later
to hold a leading position in the Communist International), Moissei
Uritsky, Khristian Rakovsky (the son of a Bulgarian landlord,
later to become Prime Minister of the Soviet Ukraine), Ivan Maisky
(later Soviet Ambassador to Britain), and the Anglo-Russian historian Theodore
Rothstein (later Soviet Ambassador to Persia)
1915 - 1916: The Three Trends
in the Russian Labour Novement
The three trends described in an earlier section
were represented in the Russian labour movement as follows:
1) The social-chauvinist
trend was represented by:
a) a group of Mensheviks headed by Aleksandr Potresov,
around the journal "Nasha Zarya" (Our Dawn), published in St. Petersburg.
"Nasha Zaraya" was suppressed by the tsarist government in October l914,
and its place was taken in January 1915 by 'Nashe Dyolo" (Our Cause).
"In Russia the fundamental nucleus of opportunism,
the Liquidationist 'Nasha Zarya', became the fundamental nucleus of chauvinism".
(V. I. Lenin: "The Collapse of the Second International",
in: 'Collected Works', Volume 18; London; n.d.; p. 308).
b) a group of Mensheviks headed by Grigori Plekhanov
and Grigori Alexinsky around the journal "Prizyv" (The Call)
published in Paris.
"The main theories of the social-chauvinists. . .
are represented by Plekhanov".
(V. I. Lenin: ibid.; p. 282).
"Plekhanov has sunk into-nationalism, hiding his Russian
chauvinism under Francophilism; so has Alexinsky".
2) The "Centrist" trend was
(V. I. Lenin: "Position and Tasks of the Socialist
International", in: ibid.; p. 85-86).
a) The Menshevik "Organisation Committee"(O.C),
headed by Pavel Axelrod, which in February 19l5 began publication of "Izvestia"
(News) of the Foreign Secretariat of the Organisation Committee.
"This Centrist tendency includes . . the party of
the Organisation Committee . . and others in Russia".
(V. I. Lenin: "The Tasks of the Proletariat in Our
Revolution", in: "Selected Works", Volume 6; London; 1935; p. 65).
"Take . .the . manifesto of the 0.C (Organisation
Committee-Alliance Editor). . . .
1) The manifesto does not contain a single statement
which in principle repudiates national defence in the present war;
2) there is absolutely nothing in the manifesto which
in principle would be inacceptible to the 'defencists' or social chauvinists;
3) there are a number of statements in the manifesto
which are completely'identical' with 'defencism': 'The proletariat cannot
remain indifferent to the impending defeat'; . . 'the proletariat is vitally
interested in the self-preservation of the country'".
(V. I. Lenin: "Have the O.C. and the Chkheidze Fraction
a Policy of Their Own?", in "Collected Works", Viume 19; London; l942;
p. 36, 37)
"To cover up this political reality (i.e., social-chauvinism
-- Ed.) by Leftt phrases and quasi-Social-Democratic-ideology, is the actual
political meaning of the . . activities of the Organisation-Committee.
In the realm of idelogy -- the 'Neither- victory nor defeat' slogan; in
the realm of practice -- an anti-'split' struggle -- this is the business-like
. . programme of 'peace', with the 'Nashe Dyelo' and Plekhanov".
b) the Menshevik Duma fraction,
headed by Nikolai Chkheidze.
(V. I. Lenin: State of Affairs within Russian Social
Democracy', in: Collected Works", Volume 18; London; n.d.; p. 204.)
"This Centrist tendency includes . . Chkheidze and
others in Russia".
(V. I. Lenin: "The Tasks of the Proletariat in Our
Revolution", in: "Selected Works', Volume 6; London; l946; p. 65).
"Chkheidze's group confined itself to the parliamentary
field. It did not vote appropriations, since it would have roused a storm
of indignation among the workers. . . Neither did it protest against social-chauvinism".
(V. I. Lenin: "Socialism and War", in: ibid.; p. 240).
"Chkheidze uses the same chauvinist phrases about the
'danger of defeat', stands for . . 'the struggle for peace', etc., etc."
(V. I. Lenin: "Have the 0.C. and the Chkheidze Fraction
a Policy of Their Own?", in 'Collected Works", Volume 19; London; 19~2;
"(1) The 'save the country" formula employed by Chkhejdze
differs in no material respect from defencism;
2) the Chkheidze fraction never opposed Nr. Potresov
and Co. .
3) the decisive fact: the fraction has never opposed
participation in the War Industries Committees'.
(V. I. Lenin: "The Chkheidze Fraction and its Role',
in: ibid.; p. 325).
"To cover up this political reality (i.e., social-chauvinism
-- Ed.) by 'Left 'phrases and quasi-Social-Democratic ideology, is the
actual political meaning of the legal activities of Chkheidze's fraction".
c) the group, headed by Trotsky, around "Nashe_Slovo",
the policy of which will be discussed in the next sections.
(V. I. Lenin: "State of affairs within Russian Social-Democracy,
in: "Collected "Works", Volume 18; London; n.d.; p. 204).
3). The revolutionary, international
trend was represented by the Central Committee of the Russian Social-Democratic
Labour Party, headed by Lenin.
The theses which Lenin put forward in September
194 from Berne (Switzerland), on the other hand, called on the work
in classes of all belligerent countries actively to oppose the
war and to seek to transform it into a civil war against
" their own" imperialists.
"Transform the present imperialist war into civil
war -- is the only correct proletarian slogan"'.
(V. I. Lenin: "The War and Russian Social Democracy"',
in: "Selected Works", Volume 5; London; 1935; p. 130).
The "Peace" Slogan-The First
of Trotsky's Two Slogans
The policy put forward by Trotsky in the pages of "Nashe
Slovo" in relation to the imperialist war may be summarised in two slogans:
that of "revolutionary struggle for peace" (or "revolutionary
struggle against the war", called by Lenin the "peace slogan":
"Phrase-mongers like Trotsky (See No. 105 of the 'Nashe
Slovo') defend, in opposition to us, the peace slogan".
(V. I. Lenin: 'The 'Peace' Slogan Appraised", in:
"Collected Works"", Volume 18; London; n.d.; p. 262).
'Revolutionary struggle against the war ' . . is an
example of the high-flown phraseology with which Trotsky always justifies
Lenin opposed the "peace" slogan throughout the
"The peace slogan is in my judgment incorrect
at the present moment. This is a philistine's, a preacher's, slogan. The
proletarian slogan must be civil war".
(V. I. Lenin: "Defeat of One's Own Government in the
Imperialist Uar", in: "Selected Works", Volume 5; London 1935; p. 3142).
(V. I. Lenin: Letter to A. G. Shlyapnikov, October
17th., 19314, in: "Collected Works', Volume 18; n.d.; p. 75).
"Propaganda of peace at the present time, if not accompanied
by a call for revolutionary mass action, is only capable of spreading illusions,
of demoralising the proletariat by imbuing it with belief in the humanitarianism
of the bourgeoisie, and of making it a plaything in the hands of the secret
diplomacy of the belligerent countries. In particular, the ilea that a
so-called democratic peace is possible without a series of revolutions
is profoundly mistaken."
(V. I. Lenin: Conference of the Sections of the RSDLP
Abroad," in: "Selected Works", Volume 5; London 1935; p. 135).
"To accept the peace slogan per Se, and to repeat it,
would be encouraging the 'pompous air of powerless (what is worse hypocritical)
phrasemongers'; that would mean deceiving the people with the illusion
that the present governments, the present ruling 'classes, are capable
before they are . . eliminated by a number of revolutions of granting a
peace even half way satisfactory to democracy and the working class. Nothing
is more harmful than such a deception."
In September 1915 Trotsky carried forward his opposition
to the Leninist policy towards the war at the International Socialist
Conference at Zimmerwald (Switzerland). The Bolshevik resolution was
rejected by a majority of the delegates, including Trotsky. As he
expresses it himself:
"Lenin was on the extreme left at the Conference.
In many questions he was in a minority of one, even within the Zimmerwald
left wing, to which I did not formally belong."
(V. I. Lenin: 'The Peace Question', in: 'Collected
Works', Volume 18; London; n.d.; p. 266).
(L. Trotsky: "My Life"; New York; 1970; p. 250).
In these circumstances, the Bolsheviks agreed to sign
a compromise manifesto drafted by Trotsky:
"The revolutionary wing, led by Lenin, and the pacifist
wing, which comprised the majority of the delegates, agreed with difficulty
on a common manifesto of which I had prepared the draft".
(L. Trotsky: ibid p. 250).
The central point of this manifesto was "the struggle
"It is necessary to take up this struggle for peace,
for a peace without annexations or war indemnities. . . .
It is the task and the duty of the Socialists of the
belligerent countries to take up this struggle with full force".
Manifesto Of the International Specialist Conference,
Zimmerwald, cited in: V. I Lenin: Collected Works', Volume 18; London;
Ibid.; p. 475).
Lenin commented on this manifests after the conference:
"Passing to 'the struggle for peace' . .here
also we find inconsistency, timidity, failure to say everything that ought
to be said. . . It does not name directly, openly and clearly the
revolutionary methods of struggle".
(V. I. Lenin: 'The First Step', in: "Collected
Works", Volume 18; London; n.d.; p. 343).
"Neither Victory nor Defeat"-
Trotsky's Second Slogan
in opposition to Lenin's declaration that a revolutionary struggle against
"one's own imperialists in wartime was facilitated by, and facilitated,
the military defeat of "one's own" imperialists in the war, Trotsky
put forward the slogan of "Neither victory nor defeat!":
"'Bukvoyed (i.e., Ryazonov --
Ed.) and Trotsky defend the slogan 'Neither victory nor defeat!"
(V. I. Lenin: "Defeat Of One's Own Government
in the Imperialist War", in: Selected Works', Volume 5; London l935;
In an Open Letter addressed to the Bolsheviks in "Nashe
Slovo" in the summer of 1915, Trotsky denounced Lenin's policy of
"revolutionary defeatism" as:
"An uncalled-for and unjustifiable concession to
the political methodology of social-patriotism which substitutes for the
revolutionary struggle against the war and the conditions that cause it,
what, under present conditions, is an extremely arbitrary orientation towards
the lesser evil".
(L. Trotsky: in: "Nashe Slovo", No. 105, cited in
V. I. Lenin: "Defeat of One's Own Government in the Imperialist War", in:
'Selected Works", Volume 5; London; l935; p. 142).
Lenin replied to Trotsky's Open Letter in August
1915, in his article "Defeat of One's Government in the Imperialist
"This is an example of the high-flown phraseology
with which Trotsky always justifies opportunism.
Making shift with phrases, Trotsky has lost his way
amidst three pine trees. It seems to him that to desire Russia's
defeat means desiring Germany's victory. . .
To help people who are unable to think, the Berne
resolution made it clear that in all imperialist centuries the proletariat
must now desire the defeat of its own government. Bukvoyed and Trotsky
preferred to evade this truth. . Had Bukvoyed and Trotsky thought
a little, they would have realised that they adopt the point 'of
view of a war of governments and the bourgeoisie, i.e., that they
cringe before the 'political methodology of 'social-patriotism', to use
Trotsky's affected language.
Revolution in wartime is civil war; and the transformation
of war between governments into civil war is, on the one hand, facilitated
by military reverses ('defeats') of governments; on the other hand,
it is impossible really to strive for such a transformation without
thereby facilitating defeat.
The very reason the chauvinists. . .repudiate the 'slogan'
of defeat is that this slogan alone implies a consistent appeal for revolutionary
action against one's own government in wartime. Without such action,
millions of the r-r-revolutionary phrases like war against 'war and the
conditions, and so forth' are not worth a penny. . . .
To repudiate the 'defeat' slogan means reducing one's
revolutionary actions to an empty phrase or to mere hypocrisy. ..
The slogan "Neither victory nor defeat" . . is nothing
but a paraphrase of the 'defence of the fatherland' slogan. . .
On closer examination, this slogan will be found to
mean 'civil peace', renunciation of the class struggle by the oppressed
classes in all belligerent 'countries, since class struggle is impossible
without . . facilitating the defeat of one's own country. Those who
accept the slogan 'Neither victory nor defeat', can only hypocritically
be in favour of the class struggle, of 'breaking civil peace'; those in
practice, renounce an independent proletarian policy because they subordinate
the proletariat of all belligerent countries to the absolutely bourgeois
task of safeguarding imperialist governments against defeat. .
Those who are in favour of the slogan 'Neither victory
nor defeat' are consciously or unconsciously chauvinists, at best they are
conciliatory petty bourgeois; at all events they are enemies of
proletarian policy, partisans of the present governments, of the present
ruling classes. . . .
Those who stand for the slogan 'Neither victory nor
defeat' are in fact on the side of the bourgeoisie and the opportunists,
for they 'do not believe' in the possibility of international revolutionary
action of the working class against its own governments, and they do
not wish to help the development of such action which, though no easy
task, it is true, is the only task worthy of a proletarian, the only socialist
In April 1915 Rosa Luxemburg, in prison, wrote,
under the pseudonym "Junius", a pamphlet entitled 'The Crisis
of German Social Democracy. ' It was published a year later, in April
1916. Rosa Luxemburg, like Trotsky opposed Lenin's policy of
"What shall be the practical attitude of social democracy
in the present war? Shall it declare: since this is an imperialist
war, since we do not enjoy in our country any socialist self-determination,
its existence or non-existence is of no consequence to us, and we will
surrender it to the enemy? Passive fatalism can never be the role
of a revolutionary party like social democracy. . . .
(V. I. Lenin: "Defeat of One's Own Government in the
Imperialist War", in: "Selected Works", Volume 5; London; 1935; p. l42-3,
Yes, socialists should defend their country in great
(R.Luxemburg: "The Crisis of German Social Democracy",
in: "Rosa Luxemburg Speaks'; Now York; 1970; p. 311, 3l4,).
and like Trotsky, she put forward the slogan of "Neither
victory nor defeat":
"Here lies the great fault of German social democracy.....
. . It was their duty . to proclaim to the people of Germany
that in this war victory and defeat would be equally fatal".
(R. Luxemburg: ibid.; p. 314).
suggesting that the defence of the country "against defeat"
should be carried on under the slogan she had consistently opposed as a
leader of the Social-Democratic Party of the Kingdom of Poland and Lithuania,
the Slogan of "national self-determination":
"Instead of covering this imperialist war with a
lying mantle of national self-defence, social democracy should have demanded
the right of national self-determination seriously".
(R. Luxemburg: ibid.; p. 311-12).
Lenin replied to Rosa Luxemburg's pamphlet in his
article "The Pamphlet by Junius", published in August 1916:
"We find the same error in Junius' arguments about
which is better, victory or defeat? His conclusion is that both are
equally bad. . . This is the point of view not of the revolutionary proletariat,
but of the pacifist petty bourgeois.. . .
Another fallacious argument advanced by Junius is in
connection with the question of defence of the fatherland.
Junius . . falls into the very strange error of trying
to drag a national programme into the present non-national war.
It sounds almost incredible, but it is true.
He proposes to 'oppose' the imperialist war with a
True, Rosa Luxemburg, unlike the open social-chauvinists,
supported the concept of class struggle against one's own government
during the war, not, however, in relation to the slogan of "turn the imperialist
war into civil war", but as 'the best defence against a foreign enemy":
"The centuries have proven that not the state of
siege, but relentless class struggle . . is the best protection and the
best defence against a foreign enemy".
(V. I. Lenin: "The Pamphlet by Junius"; in: "Collected
'Works', Volume 19; London; l942; p. 212, 207, 209).
(R. Luxemburg: ibid.; p. 304).
"In saying that class struggle is the best means
of defence against invasion, Junius applied Marxian dialectics only half
way, taking one step on the right road and immediately deviating from it.
. . Civil war against the bourgeoisie is also a form of class struggle,
and only this form of class struggle would have saved Europe (the whole
of Europe, not only one country) from the peril of invasion.
Junius came very close to the correct solution of the
problem and to the correct slogan: civil war against the bourgeoisie
for socialism; but, as if afraid to speak the whole truth, he turned back
to the phantasy of a 'national war' in 1914, 1915 and 1916. . ..
Junius has not completely rid himself of the 'environment'
of the German Social-Democrats, even the Lefts, who are afraid to follow
revolutionary slogans to their logical conclusion."
(V. I. Lenin: ibid.; p. 210, 212).
The Struggle against National
The manifesto drafted by Trotsky which was adopted
by the International Socialist Conference at Zimmerwald (Switzerland)
in September l915, recognised the right of self-determination of
nations as an "indestructible principle":
"The right of self-determination of nations must
be the indestructible principle in the system of national relationships
(Manifesto of the International Socialist Conference
at Zimmerwald, September 1915, in: V. I. Lenin: "Collective Works" , Volume
l8, London; n .d.; p. 475)
The Polish delegation at the conference (consisting
of Karl Radek, Adolf Warski and Jacob Ganetsky) opposed recognition
of the right of self determination of nations, but submitted a declaration
on the national question which, in fact, recognised the right of self-determination
of Poland, since it declared that the international working class:
"Will break the fetters of national oppression and
abolish all forms of foreign domination, and secure for the Polish people
the possibility of all-sided, free development as an equal member in a
League of Nations".
(Bulletin of the International Socialist Committee
in Berne, No. 2; September 27th., 1915; p. 15).
Lenin commented on this declaration:
"There is no material difference between these postulates
and the recognition of the right of nations to self-determination, except
that their political formulation is still more diffuse and vague than the
majority of the programmes and resolutions of the Second International.
Any attempt to express these ideas in precise political formulae . . will
prove still more strikingly the error committed by the Polish Social-Democrats
in repudiating the self-determination of nations"
(V. I. Lenin: "The Socialist Revolution and the Right
of Nations to Self-Determination"; in: "Selected Works', Volume 5; London;
1935; p. 279-80).
In October 1915 Karl Radek (under the pseudonym
"Parabellum' wrote an article in the "Berner Tagwacht" (Berne Morning
Watch entitled "Annexations and Social-Democracy", in which, on
behalf of the leadership of the Social-Democratic Party of the Kingdom
of Poland and Lithuania, he declared that:
"We are opposed to annexations."
(K. Radek: "Annexations and Social-Democracy; cited
in: V. I. Lenin: "The Revolutionary Proletariat and the Right of Nations
to Self-Determination", in: "Selected Works", Volume 5; London; 1935; p.
but denounced the:
"Struggle for the non-existent right to self-determination".
(K. Radek: ibid; p. 282).
Lenin replied to Radek in November 1915 in his article
"The Revolutionary Proletariat and the Right of Nations to Self-Determination:
"Our 'struggle against annexations' will be meaningless
and not at all terrifying to the social-patriots if we do not declare that
the Socialist of an oppressing nation who does not conduct propaganda,
both in peace time and war time, in favour of the freedom of secession
for the oppressed nations is not a Socialist and not an internationalist,
but a chauvinist."'
(V. I. Lenin: "The Revolutionary Proletariat and the
Right of Nations to Self-Determination", in: 'Selected Works, Volume 5;
London; 1935; p. 287).
In November 1915 Nikolai Bukharin and Grigori Pyatakov
sent to the Central Committee of the RSDLP the theses, "The Slogan of
the Right of Nations to Self-Determination", written by Bukharin.
The theses concluded:
"We do not under any circumstances support the government
of the Great Power that suppresses the rebellion or the outburst of indignation
of an oppressed nation; but at the same time, we ourselves do not mobilise
the proletarian forces under the slogan 'right of nations to self-determination'.
In such a case, our task is to mobilise the forces of the proletariat of
both nations (jointly with others) under the slogan 'civil class war for
socialism', and conduct propaganda against the mobilisation of the forces
under the slogan 'right of nations to self-determination'".
(N. Bukharin: "The slogan of the Right of Nations
to Self-Determination", cited in: V.I. Lenin: 'Selected Works', Volume
5; London; 1935; p. 379-80).
Lenin replied to Bukharin's theses in March 1916
with theses of his own, entitled "The Socialist Revolution and the Right
of Nations to Self-Determination";
"Victorious socialism must achieve complete democracy
and, consequently, not only bring about the complete equality of nations,
but also give effect to the right of oppressed nations to self-determination,
i.e. the right to free political secession. Socialist Parties which
fail to prove by all their activities now, as well as during the revolution
and after its victory, that they will free the enslaved nations and establish
relations with them on the basis of free union -- a free union is
a lying phrase without right to secession -- such parties are committing
treachery to socialism".
(V. I. Lenin: "The Socialist Revolution and the Right
of Nations to Self-Determination", in: 'Selected Works', Volume 5;
London; 1935 p. 267).
Rosa Luxemburg, writing under the pseudonym "Junius"
in the pamphlet, "The Crisis of German Social-Democracy", published
in April 1916, declared that wars of national liberation were impossible
"In the present imperialistic milieu there can be
no wars of national self-defence".
(R. Luxemburg: 'The Crisis of German Social-Democracy",
in: "Rosa Luxemburg Speaks"; New York; 1970; p. 305).
Lenin commented in "The Pamphlet by Junius",
published in August 1916:
"National wars waged by colonial and semi-colonial
countries are not only possible but inevitable in the epoch of imperialism.
National wars must not be regarded as impossible in
the epoch of imperialism even in Europe.
The postulate that 'there can be no more national wars'
is obviously fallacious in theory. . . But this fallacy is also very harmful
in a practical political sense; it gives rise to the stupid propaganda
for 'disarmament', as if no other war but reactionary wars are possible;
it is the cause of the still more stupid and downright reactionary indifference
towards national movements. Such indifference becomes chauvinism when members
of 'Great' European nations, i.e., nations which oppress a mass of small
and colonial peoples, declare with a learned air that 'there can be no
more national wars.'''
In August 1916 Grigori Pyatakov wrote, under the
pseudonym "P. Kievsky", an article entitled: "The Proletariat
and the Right of Nations to Self-Determination. In this article, which
was not published, Pyatakov denounced the slogan of the right of nations
to self-determination on the grounds that:
"This demand leads directly to social-patriotism".
(V. I. Lenin: "The Pamphlet by Junius", in: "Collected
Works", Volume 19; London l942; p. 204, 205, 206).
(G. Pyatakov: "The Proletariat and the Right of Nations
to Self Determination, cited in: V. I. Lenin: "A Caricature of Marxism
and 'Imperialist Economism'" in Ibid; "Collected Works", Volume 19; London
l942; p. 216).
Lenin replied to Pyatakov's argument in a long
article "A Caricature of Marxism and 'lmperialist Economics', written
in October 1916 but not published until l924:
"In the present imperialist war, . . phrases about
defence of the fatherland are deception of the people, for this war is
not a national war. In a truly national war the words 'defence
of the fatherland' are deception, and we are not opposed to such a war".
(V. I. Lenin: "Caricature of Marxism and 'Imperialist
Economism", in ibid.; p. 217).
"With regard to the colonies, we confine ourselves
to a negative slogan, i.e., . . "Get out of the colonies'.
And Lenin replied:
"Both the political and the economic content of the
slogan 'Get out of the colonies!" amounts to one thing. . Only: freedom
of secession for the colonial nations; freedom to establish a separate
(G. Pyatakov: ibid.; p. 25l)
(V. I. Lenin: ibid; p. 252).
The theoretical basis of Pyatakov's opposition to national
self-determination is summarised in his declaration that:
". . dualistic propaganda is substituted for
the monistic action of the International".
(G. Pyatakov: ibid.; p. 24l).
To which Lenin replied:
"Is the actual condition of the workers in
the oppressing nations the same as that of the workers in the oppressed
nations from the standpoint of the national problem?
No, they are not the same. . .
That being the case, what is to be said about P. Kievsky's
phrase: the 'monistic' action of the International?
It is an empty, sonorous phrase, and nothing more.
In order that the action of the International,
which in real life consists of workers who are divided into those belonging
to oppressing nations and those belonging to oppressing nations, may be
monistic action, propaganda must be carried on differently in each case."
This "dualistic propaganda' had already been described
"The Social-Democrats of the oppressing notions must
demand the freedom of secession for the oppressed notions,
(V. I. Lenin: Ibid; p. 242-3)
. . The Social-Democrats of the oppressed nations, however,
must put in the forefront the unity and the fusion of the workers of the
oppressed nations with the workers of the oppressing nations".
Lenin's summary of Pyatakov's article was devastating:
"P. Kievsky. . totally fails to understand Marxism.
(V. I. Lenin: "The Revolutionary Proletariat And the
Right of Nations to Self-Determination", in: "Selected Works", Volume 5;
London 1935; p. 284)
Kievsky does not advance a single correct argument.
The only thing that is correct in his article, that is, if there
are no mistakes in the figures, is the footnote in which he quotes some
statistics about banks".
(V. I. Lenin: A Caricature of Marxism and 'Imperialist
Economism'", in: "Collected Works", Volume 19; London; l942; p. 218, 262).
In this struggle between the advocates of the right of
self-determination of nations and its opponents, Trotsky adopted
a characteristically centrist position: hypocritical support for the
slogan but without support for its essential content, the right of secession:
"Trotsky . . is body and soul for self-determination,
but in his case too it is an idle phrase, for he does not demand freedom
of secession for nations oppressed by the "fatherland" of the
socialist of the given nationality."
(V. I. Lenin: "The 'Peace Programme", in "Collected
Works", Volume 19 London l942; p. 66).
"The Kautskyists hypocritically recognise self-determination
- -in Russia this is the road taken by Trotsky and Martov. In words, both
declare that they are in favour of self-determination, as Kautsky does.
But in practice? Trotsky engages in his customary eclecticism. . . The
prevailing hypocrisy remains unexposed, . .. namely, the attitude to be
adopted towards the nation that is oppressed by 'my' nation. . . .
A Russian Social-Democrat who 'recognises' self-determination
of nations . . without fighting for freedom of Secession for the notions
oppressed by tsarism is really an imperialist and a lackey of tsarism.
Whatever the subjective 'well-meaning' intentions of
Trotsky and Martov may be, they, by their evasions, objectively support
Lenin stood' firmly for the organisational separation
of revolutionary internationalism from both open and concealed (ie. Centrist)
"To keep united with opportunism at the present
time means precisely to subjugate the working class to 'its' bourgeoisie,
to make an alliance with it for the oppression of other nations and for
the struggle for the privileges of a great nation; at the same time it
means splitting the revolutionary proletariat of all countries".
(V. I. Lenin: 'The Discussion on Self-Determination
Summed Up', in: 'Collected Works', Volume 19; London; 1942; p. 305)
(V. I. Lenin: 'Socialism and War', in: 'Collected
Works', Volume 18; London; n.d.; p. 230-1).
"We must declare the idea of unity with the Organisation
Committee an illusion detrimental to the workers' cause".
(V. I. Lenin: 'And Now What?", in: ibid.; p. 109).
"We shall not be for unity with Chkheidze's fraction
(as desired both by Trotsky, by the 0rgansation Committee, and by Plekhanov
and Co.; . for this would mean to cover up and defend the 'Nashe Dyelo".
In contrast to Lenin, Trotsky stood consistently
for the unity of what he termed the "internationalist" groups, a
category which included the concealed social-chauvinists of the Centre
(the Organisation Committee, the Menshevik Duma fraction and the group
(V. I. Lenin: Letter to Aleksendra Kollontai, summer
1915, in: ibid.; p. 208).
At the beginning of 1915, "Nashe Slovo" addressed
an appeal to the Bolshevik Central Committee and to the Menshevik
Organisation Committee proposing a conference of all the groups
which took a "negative attitude' towards social chauvinism. In its reply,
dated March 1915, the Organisation Committee said:
'To the conference must be invited the foreign representatives
of all those party centres and groups which were . . present at the Brussels
Conference of the International Socialist Bureau before the war'.
(Letter of Organisation Committee, March 12th., 1915,
cited in: V. I. Lenin: The Question of the Unity of Internationalists",
in: "Collected Works", Volume 18; London; n.d.; p. 177).
"Thus, the Organisation Committee declines on principle
to confer with the internationalists, since it wishes to confer also with
the social-patriots (it is known that Plekhanov's and Alexinsky's policies
were represented at Brussels).
We must not confer, it says, without the social-patriots,
we must confer with them!"
(V. I. Lenin: ibid.; p. 177, 178).
Nevertheless, Trotsky continued his efforts to bring about
organisational unity between the Bolsheviks end the concealed social-chauvinists
of the Centre. In June 1915 Trotsky wrote an Open Letter to the
editors of the Bolshevik magazine "Kommunist": , published in No. 105 of
"Nashe Slovo" in which he said:
"I am proud of the conduct of our Duma members (the
Chkheidze group); I regard them as the most important agency of internationalist
education of the proletariat in Russia, and for that very reason I deem
it the task of every revolutionary Social-Democrat to extend to them every
support and to raise their authority in the International".
(L. Trotsky: Open Letter to the Editors of "Kommunist",
cited in: V. I. Lenin: "Collected Works", Volume 18; London; n.d., p. 435)
Lenin commented on Trotsky's unprincipled conciliationism
in various articles:
"The elements that are grouped around the 'Nashe
Slovo' are vacillating between platonic sympathy for internationalism and
a tendency for unity at any price with the "Nasha Zarya" and the Organisation
(V. I. Lenin: "Conference of the Foreign Sections
of the RSDLP", in: Collected Works, Volume l8; London; n .d.; p.150).
"'Nashe Slovo' . . raises a revolt against social-nationalism
while standing on its knees before it, since it fails to unmask the most
dangerous defenders of the bourgeois current (like Kautsky); it does not
declare war against opportunism but, on the contrary, passes it over in
silence; it does not undertake, and does not point out, any real steps
towards liberating socialism from its shameful patriotic captivity. By
saying that neither unity nor a split with those who joined the bourgeoisie
is imperative, the 'Nashe Slovo' practically surrenders to the opportunists".
(V. I. Lenin: "The Collapse of Platonic Internationalism",
in: ibid.; p.183).
"Trotsky always, entirely disagrees with the social-chauvinists
in principle, but agrees with them in everything in practice."
(V. I. Lenin: 'State of Affairs within Russian Social-Democracy",
in: Ibid.; p. 205-6).
'We shall not be for unity with Chkheidze's fraction
(As desired . .by Trotsky . .) for this would mean to cover up and defend
the 'Nashe Dyelo'...
Roland-Holst, as well as Rakovsky . .and Trotsky too,
are in my judgment all most harmful 'Kautskyists', inasmuch as they
are all, in one form or another, for unity with the opportunists, . . are
embellishing opportunism, they all (each in his way) advance eclecticism
instead of revolutionary Marxism".
(V. I. Lenin: Letters to Aleksandra Kollontai, summer
1915, in: ibid.; p. 208, 209).
"In Russia Trotsky . . fights for unity with the opportunist
and chauvinist group "Nashe Zarya'".
(V. I. Lenin: 'Socialism and War", in: ibid.; p.232).
"Martov and Trotsky in Russia are causing the greatest
harm to the labour movement by their insistence upon a fictitious
unity, thus hindering, the now ripened imminent unification of the
opposition in all countries and the creation of the Third International".
(V. I. Lenin: 'The Tasks of the Opposition in France",
in: 'Collected Works", Volume 19; London; 1942; p. 32).
"What are our differences with Trotsky?. . In brief
-- he is a Kautskyite, that is, he stands for unity with the Kautskyites
in the International and with Chkheidze's parliamentary group in Russia.
We are absolutely against such unity".
(V. I. Lenin: Letter to Henrietta Roland-Holst, Morch
8th., 1916, in: "Collected Works", Volume 43; Moscow; 1969; p. 515-l6).
"What a swine this Trotsky is -- Left phrases and a
bloc with the Right. . . He ought to be exposed".
In November 1915 eleven leading members of the Russian
Social-Democratic Labour Party, including five deputies, were arrested
at a conference near Petrograd and charged with being members of an organisation
aiming at the overthrow of the existing political order.
(V. I. Lenin: Letter to Aleksendra Kollontai, February
17th., 1917, in: "Collected Works", Volume 35; Moscow, 1966; p. 285).
At their trial Lev Kamenev and two of the deputies
declared in their defence that they did not accept the policy of the Party
in so for as it enjoined members to work for the defeat of Russia in the
"The trial of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour
Fraction . . has proven first, that this advanced detachment of revolutionary
Social-Democracy in Russia did not show sufficient firmness at the trial.
. To attempt to show solidarity with the social-patriot, Mr. Yordansky,
as did Comrade Rosenfeld (i.e., Kamenev --Ed.) or to point out one's disagreement
with the Central Committee, is an incorrect method; this is impermissible
from the standpoint of revolutionary Social-Democracy".
(V. I. Lenin: "What has the Trial of the Russian Social-Democratic
Labour Fraction Proven?", in: "Works", Volume 18; Moscow; n.d.; p. 151)
1916. The Attempt to Introduce
Anarchist Ideas into the Party
In 1916 Nikolai Bukharin wrote, under the pseudonym
"Nota Bene", an article entitled 'The Imperialist Predatory State"
in the magazine "The Youth International" (organ of the Bureau of the International
League of Socialist Youth Organisations) , in which he said:
"It is quite a mistake to seek the difference
between Socialists and anarchists in the fact that the former are in favour
of the state while the latter are against it. The real difference is that
revolutionary Social-Democracy desires to organise social production on
new lines, centralised. . . whereas decentralised, anarchist production
would mean retrogression. . . .
Social-Democracy. . must now more than ever emphasise
its hostility to the state in principle".
(N. Bukharin: "The Imperialist Predatory State", cited
in: V. I. Lenin; '1The Youth International", in: Selected Works",
Volume 5; London; 1935; p. 243, 244).
To which Lenin replied:
"This is wrong. The author raises the question of
the difference in the attitude of Socialists and anarchists towards
the state, But he does not answer this question, but another,
namely the difference in the attitude of Socialists and anarchists towards
the economic foundation of future society. . . The Socialists are in favour
of utilising the present state and its institutions in the struggle for
the emancipation of the working class, and they also urge the necessity
of utilising the State for the peculiar form of transition from capitalism
to socialism. This transitional form is the dictatorship of the proletariat,
which is also a state.
The anarchists want to 'abolish' the state, to 'blow
The Socialists . . hold that the state will die out.
Comrade Nota-Bene's . . remark about the 'state idea'
is entirely muddled. It is un-Marxian and un-socialistic."
(V. I. Lenin: "The Youth International', in: ibid.;
p. 243, 244).
In April 1929 Stalin commented:
"The well-known theoretical controversy which flared
up in 1916 between Lenin and Bukharin on the question of the state . .
is important in order to reveal Bukharin's inordinate pretensions to teach
Lenin, as well as the roots of his theoretical unsoundness on such important
questions as the dictatorship of the proletariat. . . .
Bukharin landed in a semi-Anarchist puddle.
In Bukharin's opinion the working class should be hostile
in principle to the state as such, including the working-class
(J.V. Stalin: "The Right Deviation in the
CPSU (B.)", in: "Leninism"; London; 1942; p. 276, 277).
1916-1917: Trotsky Goes to
In September 1916 the French authorities, at the request
of the tsarist government, banned "Nashe Slovo" and deported Trotsky to
Spain. Although he did not participate in any political activity in Spain,
after a few days he was arrested by the Spanish police and, in December,
deported to the United States. He arrived in New York in January 1917.
The Assassination of Rasputin
During the war great influence was exercised over the
tsar and tsarina by the monk Grigori Rasputin. In December 1916
a group of nob1es, headed by the Grand Duke Dimitri Pavlovich, organised
the assassination of Rasputin, believing that his influence was
being used against the war effort.
1917: Trotsky in America
In January 1917 Trotsky landed in New York, and joined
the staff of a Russian magazine published there under the editorship of
Nikolai Bukharin and Aleksandra Kollontai, -"Novy Nir"
(New World) . Typically, he formed a bloc with the right-wing members of
the staff against the Left:
"Trotsky arrived, and this scoundrel at once ganged
up with the Right wing of 'Novy Mir' against the Left Zimmerwaldists!!
That's it!! That's Trotsky for you!! Always true to himself - twists, swindles,
poses as a Left, helps the Right, so long as he can."
(V. I. Lenin: Letter to Inessa Armand, February 19th.,
1917, in: 'Collected Works', Volume 35; Moscow; 1966; p.288)
In "Navy Mir", Trotsky continued to put forward his theory
of "permanent revolution", arguing that if the German working class
failed to rise along with the Russian working class, the workers' government
of a revolutionary Russia must wage war against the German ruling class:
"If the conservative social-patriotic organisation
should prevent the German working class from rising against its ruling
classes in the coming epoch, then of course the Russian working class would
defend its revolution with arms in its hands. The revolutionary workers'
government would wage war against the Hohenzollerns, summoning the brother
proletariat of Germany to rise against the common enemy."
(L. Trotsky: Article in "Novy Mir", March 21st., 1917,
cited in: L. Trotsky: "History of the Russian Revolution"; Volume 1; London;
1967; p. 438).
The "February Revolution"
From the first days of 1917 strikes spread throughout
the main cities of tsarist Russia. By March 10th; these had
developed in Petrograd into a political general strike, with the
demonstrating workers carrying Bolshevik slogans: "'Down with the tsar.!",
"Down with the war.!" and "Bread.!"
The practical work of the Bolshevik Party in Russia
at this time was directed by the Bureau of the Central Committee,
headed by Vyacheslav Molotov. On March 11th. the Bureau issued a
manifesto calling for an armed uprising against tsarism and the formation
of a Provisional-Government.
On March 12th; an elected Soviet of Workers'
Deputies came into being in Petrograd as an action committee to
carry out the uprising and in the following days Soviets were established
in Moscow and other cities. On March 13th, the Petrograd Soviet
revived its "Izvestia" ("News").
When the tsar ordered troops to suppress the rising
by force, the soldiers -- mostly peasant in uniform -- refused to obey
the orders of their officers and joined the revolutionary workers, thus
bringing into being a revolutionary alliance of workers and peasants.
The workers and soldiers now began to disarm the police and to arm themselves
with their weapons. On March 14th, the Petrograd Soviet was
expanded into a "Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies".
On March 15th. the tsar, Nicholas II, abdicated.
The revolution of March 1917 (known as the "February
Revolution" under the old-style calendar) had been accomplished
by the workers and peasants. Its character was that of a bourgeois-democratic
revolution directed against the tsarist autocracy.
The Formation of the Provisional
As soon as the capitalist class realised that the bourgeois-democratic
revolution was unavoidable, they proceeded to manoeuvre in an effort to
minimise its' scope -- and above all to prevent its development into
a socialist revolution.
On March 12th., the day after the tsar had dissolved
the Fourth State Duma, its liberal capitalist members set up an "Executive
Committee of the Imperial Duma", headed by the President of the Duma,
the monarchist landlord Mikhail Rodzyanko.
On March 15th. this Executive Committee set up a "Provisional-Government",
headed by Prince Georgi Lvov as Prime Minister and including among
its Ministers Pavel Miliukov (leader of the Constitutional Democrats)
as Minister of Foreign Affairs, Aleksendr Guchkov (leader of the
Octobrists) as Minister of War, and Aleksandr Karensky (a prominent Socialist-Revolutionary)
as Minister of Justice.
The capitalist class endeavoured for a few days to
save the monarchy, by persuading the tsar to abdicate in favour of his
brother Mikhail. But this proved untenable in view of popular feeling
against the monarchy, and Mikhail abdicated on the following day,
The capitalists, then turned their efforts to attempting
to turn Russia into a capitalist parliamentary republic.
On March 17th. the new government issued a manifesto
"To the Citizens"; setting out its programme:
"1. Complete and immediate amnesty for all political
and religious offences, including terrorist acts, military revolts, agrarian
2.Freedom of speech, press, assembly, union, strikes,
and the extension of all political liberties to persons in the military
service within the limits required by considerations of technical military
3. Abolition of all feudal estate and national restrictions.
4. Immediate preparation for the convocation of a Constituent
Assembly on the basis of universal, equal, direct and secret suffrage.
This Constituent Assembly shall determine the form of State and the constitution
of the country.
5. Formation of a people's militia with elected officers
subordinated to the organs of local self-government and taking the place
of the police.
6. Elections to the local organs of self-government
on the basis of universal, equal, direct and secret suffrage.
7. The troops who participated in the revolutionary
movement are not to be disarmed and are to remain in Petrograd.
8. While maintaining a rigid military discipline in
the service, all obstacles are to be eliminated preventing soldiers from
exercising the public rights enjoyed by other citizens".
'In its first proclamation to the people (March 17),
the government uttered not a word about the main and basic question of
the present moment, peace. It keeps secret the predatory treaties made
by tsarism with England, France, Italy, Japan, etc. It wishes to conceal
from the people the truth about its war programme, and the fact that it
is for war, for victory over Germany. . . .
(Manifesto of Provisional Government, May 17th., 1917,
cited in: V. I. Lenin: Collected Works, Volume 20, Book 1; London; 1929;
The new government cannot give the people bread. And
no amount of freedom will satisfy masses suffering hunger. . . .
The entire Manifesto of the new government . . .inspires
me with the greatest distrust, for it consists only of promises, and does
not carry into life any of the most essential measures that could and should
be fully realised right now"
(V. I. Lenin: Theses of March 17th, 1917; in ibid;
The Role of the Petrograd
Although there was a large spontaneous element in the
"February Revolution", the Bolsheviks, played a leading role in the uprising
itself. Despite this, in the majority of cases a majority of the members
of the Soviets and of their Executive Committees were Mensheviks
and Socialist-Revolutionaries; the Bolsheviks were, in the period following
the "February Revolution" in a small minority in most of the Soviets, including
those of Petrograd and Moscow.
A number of factors were responsible for this position:
the industrial working class had been diluted during the war by large numbers
of peasants from the villages, while Bolshevik leaders such as Lenin and
Stalin were in exile.
As a result of this, on March 18th. the Executive
Committee of the Petrograd Soviet issued a proclamation calling
upon the workers to support the capitalist Provisional Government.
"The proclamation issued by the Soviet of Workers'
Deputies ... is a most remarkable document. It proves that the Petrograd
proletariat, at the time it issued its proclamation, at any rate, was under
the preponderant influence of the petty-bourgeois politicians.
The proclamation declares that every democrat must
'support' the new government and that the Soviet of Workers' Deputies requests
and authorises Kerensky to participate in the Provisional Government. .
.These steps are a classic example of betrayal of the cause of the revolution
and the cause of the proletariat."
(V. I. Lenin: "Letters from Afar"', in: ibid.; p.
At the same time the Executive Committee of the Petrograd
Soviet set up a 'Contact Commission', headed by Aleksandr Skobolev,
the official aim of which was to maintain contact with, and "control",
the Provisional Government.
Lenin summed up the political situation resulting
from the February Revolution in the following words:
"The first stage of the revolution . . , owing to
the insufficient class consciousness and organisation of the proletariat,
led to the assumption of power by the bourgeoisie."
(V. I. Lenin: "The Tasks of the Proletariat in the
Present Revolution", in: "Selected Works", Volume 6; London; 1946; p. 22)
The Political Line Of the Party
in March 1917
The victory of the "February Revolution" created a
new political situation in Russia which called for a new political
line on the part of the Russian Socia1-Democratic Labour Party.
As Stalin expressed it in November
"This was the greatest turning
point in the history of Russia and an unprecedented turning point in the
history Of our Party. The old, pre-revolutionary platform Of direct overthrow
of the government was clear and definite, but it was no longer suitable
for the new conditions of struggle . . Under the now conditions of the
struggle, the Party hod to adopt a new orientation. The Party (its majority)
groped its way towards this new orientation".
(J. V. Stalin "Trotskyism or Leninism?"; in Works
Volume 6; Moscow; 1953); p. 347, 348).
At the time of the "February Revolution" the Bureau
of the Control Committee of the RSDLP, centred in Petrograd, was led by
On March 18th., 1917 the Bureau issued, in the name
of the Central Committee, a manifesto to "All Citizens of Russia", calling
for the formation of a Provisional Revolutionary Government.
"Citizens! The fortresses of Russian tsarism have..
fallen. . . . It is the task of the working class and the revolutionary
army to create a Provisional Revolutionary Government which is to
head the new republican order now in the process of birth.
The manifesto was published in the first issue of "Pravda",
which reappeared on the same day.
The Provisional Revolutionary Government must take
it upon itself to create temporary laws defending all the rights and
liberties of the people, to confiscate the lands of the monasteries and
the landowners, the crown lands and the appanages, to introduce
the 8-hour working day and to convoke a Constituent Assembly
on the basis a universal, direct and equal suffrage, with no discrimination
as to sex, nationality or religion, and with the secret ballot.
The Provisional Revolutionary Government must take
it upon itself to secure provisions for the population and the army; for
this purpose it must confiscate all the stores prepared by the former government
and the municipalities.....
It is the task of the people and its revolutionary
government to suppress all counter-revolutionary plots against the people.
It is the immediate and urgent task of the Provisional
Revolutionary Government to establish relations with the proletariat of
the belligerent countries for the purpose 0f . . terminating the bloody
war carnage imposed upon the enslaved peoples against their will.
The workers of shops and factories, also the rising
troops, must immediately elect their representatives to the Provisional
Revolutionary Government. . .
Forward under the red banner of the revolution!
Long live the Democratic Republic!
Long live the revolutionary working class!
Long live the revolutionary people and the insurgent
(Manifesto of CC, RSDLP, March 18th., 1917, cited
in: V. I. Lenin: "Collected Works"; Volume 20, Book 2; London; 1929; p.
Among the Bolsheviks liberated from exile in Siberia
by the "February Revolution" were Josef Stalin and Lev
Kamenev, both of whom returned to Petrograd. Kamenev joined the editorial
board of "Pravda" on March 23rd., Stalin two days later on March 28th.:
Kamenev immediately upheld a chauvinist
line on the war, contending like the Menshevik leaders that with
the victory of the "February Revolution" the working class should adopt
a position of "revolutionary defencism": He wrote in "Pravda" of March
"The soldiers, the peasants and the workers of Russia
who went to war obeying the pull of the now overthrown Tsar. . have freed
themselves; the Tsar's banners have been replaced by the red banners of
the revolution!. . .
Stalin rejected this policy of chauvinist "revolutionary
defenciism". He wrote in "Pravda" on the following day, March 29th
When an army faces an army, it would be the most absurd
policy to propose to one of them to lay down arms and go home. This . .would
be a policy of slavery which a free people would repudiate with scorn.
No, we will firmly hold our posts, we will answer a bullet by a bullet
and a shell with a shell. . . .
A revolutionary soldier or officer, having overthrown
the yoke of tsarism, will not vacate a trench to leave it to a German soldier
or officer who has not mustered up courage to overthrow the yoke of his
own government. We must not allow any disorganisation of the military forces
of the revolution! ....
Russia is bound by alliances to England, France and
other countries. It cannot act on the questions of peace without them."
(L. Kamenev: "Without Secret Diplomacy"; cited in
"Collected Works", Volume 20, Book 2; London; 1929, p. 379; 380).
"The present war is an imperialist war. Its
principal aim is the seizure (annexation) of foreign, chiefly agrarian,
territories by capitalistically developed states.. . .
The majority of the Bureau, headed by Stalin and Molotov,
correctly saw the Provisional Government as an organ of the capitalist
class, and the Soviets as the embryo of a Provisional Government.
A resolution of the Bureau published in "Pravda" on April 8th
It would be deplorable if the Russian revolutionary
democracy, which was able to overthrow the detested tsarist regime, were
to succumb to the false alarm raised by the imperialist bourgeoisie".
(J. V. Stalin: "The War", in: "Works"; Volume 3; Moscow;
1953; p.5; 7).
"The Provisional Government set up by the moderate
bourgeois classes of society and associated in interests with Anglo-French
capital is incapable of solving the problems raised by the revolution.
Its resistance to the further extension and deepening of the revolution
is being paralysed only by the growth of the revolutionary forces themselves
and by their organisation. Their rallying centre must be the Soviets of
Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies in the cities and the Soviets of Peasants'
and Agricultural Workers' Deputies in the countryside as the embryo
of a revolutionary government, prepared in the further process of development,
at a definite moment of the revolution, to establish the full power of
the proletariat in alliance with the revolutionary democracy".
However, in "groping" towards a correct political line
in the new situation, the majority of the Bureau made a tactical error.
Instead of putting forward the clear slogan of "All power to the Soviets!',
they adopted a policy of "putting pressure on the Provisional Government"
to perform actions which, as an organ of the capital class, it was incapable
(Resolution of Bureau of CC, RSDLP; cited in: N. Popov:
"Outline History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union"', Part 1;
London; n .d.; p. 353-54).
"The solution is to bring pressure on the Provisional
Government to make it declare its consent to start peace negotiations immediately.
On which Lenin commented forthrightly the day after
his return to Russia:
The workers, soldiers and peasants must arrange meetings
and demonstrations and demand that the Provisional Government shall come
out openly and publicly in an effort to induce all the belligerent powers
to start peace negotiations immediately, on the basis of recognition
of the right of nations to self-determination".
(J. V. Stalin: ibid.; p. 8).
"The "Pravda" demands that the government renounce
annexations. To demand that a government of capitalists renounce annexations
This incorrect tactical line corresponded closely with
the tactical line of Kamenev, who said:
(V. I. Lenin Speech at a Caucus of the Bolshevik Members
of the All-Russian Conference of the Soviets of Workers' and Soldiers'
Deputies, April 17, 1917, in Collected Works", Volume 20, Book 1; London;
1929; p. 98).
"Our slogan is -- pressure on the Provisional Government
with the aim of forcing it openly, before world democracy, and immediately
to come forth with an attempt to induce all the belligerent countries forthwith
to start negotiations concerning the means of stopping the World War".
Stalin himself analysed this mistaken tactical
policy in November 1924:
(L. Kamenev: "Without Secret Diplomacy", cited in:
V. I. Lenin: "Collected Works"; Volume 20, Book 2; London; 1929;
"The Party (its majority) groped its way towards this
new orientation. It adopted the policy of pressure on the Provisional Government
through the Soviets on the question of peace and did not venture to step
forward at once from the old slogan of the dictatorship of the proletariat
and peasantry to the new slogan of power to the Soviets. The aim of this
halfway policy was to enable the Soviets to discern the actual imperialist
nature of the Provisional Government on the basis of the concrete questions
of peace and in this way to wrest the Soviets from the Provisional Government.
But this was a profoundly mistaken position, for it gave rise to pacifist
illusions, brought grist to the mill of defencism, and hindered the revolutionary
education of the masses. At that time I shared this mistaken position with
the Party comrades and fully abandoned it only in the middle of April,
when I associated myself with Lenin's theses".
As soon as the "February Revolution" broke out, Lenin
began attempts to return to Russia. The governments of the Allied powers
refused him permission to travel through their countries but eventually,
as a result of negotiations between Fritz Platten, Secretary of
the Swiss Socialist Party, and the German government, 32 Russian political
émigrés (19 of which were Bolsheviks, among them Lenin) were permitted
to travel through Germany in a sealed railway carriage accorded
extra-territorial rights. The German government, of course, calculated
that the return of these revolutionaries to Russia would be detrimental
to the Russian war effort.
(J. V. Stalin: "Trotskyism or Leninism" ,
in: Works", Volume 3; Moscow; 1953; p. 348).
Lenin arrived in Petrograd on the evening- of April
16th; and was greeted by an enthusiastic
crowd of workers and soldiers.
On the following day he reported to the Executive Committee
of the Petrograd Soviet on the circumstances of his journey through Germany.
Later on April 17th., Lenin spoke at a meeting of the
Bolshevik delegates to the First Congress of Soviets, presenting his theses
on the new situation in Russia following the "February Revolution" -- the
"April Theses". The
main points of these theses were as follows:
1. The "February Revolution" has brought into
being the democratic dictatorship of the working class and peasantry in
the shape of the Soviets of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies.
"The Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies' --
here you have 'revolutionary-democratic dictatorship of the proletariat
and peasantry' already realised in life".
2. But alongside the Soviets there came into
being out of the "February Revolution" the Provisional Government,
representing the interests of the capitalist class.
(V. I. Lenin: "Letters on Tactics"; in 'Collected
Works", Volume 20, Book 1; London; 1929; p. 120).
'The Provisional Government of Lvov and Co. is a dictatorship
. . based . . on seizure by force accomplished by a definite class, namely,
3. Thus, out of the "February Revolution" has
arisen a temporary condition of dual power, of two rival governments.
(V. I. Lenin: "The Tasks of the Proletariat in Our
Revolution"., in: ibid.; p. 133).
"What has made our revolution so strikingly unique
is that it has established dual power . . . What constitutes dual power?
The fact that by the side of the Provisional Government, the government
of the bourgeoisie, there has developed another, as yet weak; embryonic,
but undoubtedly real and growing government -- the Soviets of Workers'
and Soldiers' Deputies".
4. Despite its weakness, it is the democratic dictatorship
of the working class and peasantry (the Soviet embryonic government)
which alone at present possesses effective machinery of force (in the shape
of the armed workers and revolutionary soldiers).
(V. I. Lenin: "On Dual Power", in: ibid.; p. 115).
"There is not the slightest doubt but that such a combination
cannot last long. There can be no two powers in a state. One of them is
bound to dwindle to nothing, and the entire Russian bourgeoisie is already
straining all its energies everywhere and in every possible way in an endeavour
to weaken, to set aside, to reduce to nothing the Soviet of Workers'
and Soldiers' Deputies, to create one single power for the bourgeoisie'".
(V. I. Lenin: "The Tasks of the Proletariat in Our
Revolution"; in: ibid.;p.l33)
"In Petrograd the power is actually in the hands of
the workers and soldiers; the new government does not use violence against
them, and cannot do so because there is no police, there is no army seperated
from the people, there is no all-powerful officialdom placed above the
5. Nevertheless, the leaders of the Soviets are placing
this machinery of force at the disposal of the Provisional Government,
and seeking to liquidate the democratic dictatorship of the working-class
(V. I. Lenin "'Letters on Tactics", in ibid.; p. 121).
"By direct agreements with the bourgeois Provisional
Government and by a series of actual concessions to the latter, the Soviet
power has surrendered and is surrendering its position to the bourgeoisie".
6. This has been possible because of the inadequate
class consciousness and organisation of the workers and peasants,
which has been influenced by petty-bourgeois ideological pressure:
(V. I. Lenin "On Dual Power, in ibid.; p. 116).
"The reason (i.e., for the surrender of power to the
capitalist class -- Ed.) is in the lack of organisation and class consciousness
among the workers and peasants".
7. After the "February Revolution" the war remains
an imperialist war, and the effort of the Provisional Government
remains a reactionary one which the Party must continue to oppose.
(V. I. Lenin: ibid.; p. 116).
"Russia is now in a state of ebullition. Millions of
people, politically asleep for ten years, politically crushed by the terrible
pressure of tsarism and slave labour for landowners and manufacturers,
have awakened and thrown themselves into politics. Who are these millions
of people? Mostly small proprietors, petty bourgeois. . . .
A gigantic petty-bourgeois wave has swept over everything,
has overwhelmed the class-conscious proletariat not only numerically but
(V. I. Lenin: 'The Tasks of the Proletariat in Our
Revolution", in: ibid.; p. 1321).
"Under the new government of Lvov and Co., owing to
the capitalist nature of this government, the war on Russia's part remains
a predatory imperialist war".
8. The Party must not, therefore, make the slightest
concession to "revolutionary defencism" and must dissociate
itself from all who foster revolutionary defencism".
(V. I. Lenin: Speech at a Caucus of the Bolshevik
Members of the All-Russian Conference of the Soviets of Workers' and Soldiers'
Deputies, April 17, 1917, in Ibid; p. 95).
"In our attitude towards the war not the slightest
concession must be made to 'revolutionary defencism' ".
9. The capitalist Provisional Government is incapable
of solving the fundamental social problems of the workers and poor peasantry.
(V. I. Lenin; ibid.; p. 95).
'The government of the Octobrists and Cadets, of the
Guchkovs and Miliukovs, could give neither peace nor bread,
nor freedom, even if it were sincere in its desire to do so".
10. Therefore the revolution must be carried
forward to a new stage by the working class in alliance with, and
leading, the poor peasantry.
(V. I. Lenin: "Letters from Afar", in: ibid., p. 34)
"The present situation in Russia . . represents transition
from the first stage of the revolution . . to its second stage which is
to place power in the hands of the proletariat and the poorest strata of
11. The Provisional Government needs to be overthrown,
but it cannot be overthrown at present.
(V. I. Lenin: Speech at a Caucus of the Bolshevik
Members of the All-Russian Conference of the Soviets of Workers' and Soldiers'
Deputies,.April 17, 1917, in Ibid.; p. 97).
"The Provisional Government . . should be overthrown,
for it is an oligarchical, bourgeois, and not a people's government. .
it cannot be overthrown now; . . generally speaking, it cannot be 'overthrown'
by any ordinary method, for it rests on the 'support' given to the bourgeoisie
by the second government -- the Soviet of 'Workers ' Deputies, which
is the only possible revolutionary government directly expressing the mind
and the will of the majority of workers and peasants".
12. The next step in the revolution is, therefore,
to convince the working class and poor peasantry to throw off the
domination of the Soviets by the compromising petty bourgeois elements
and to transform them into their organs of power.
(V. I. Lenin: "On Dual Power", in: ibid; p. 116-17).
"Any one who, right now, immediately and irrevocably,
separates the proletarian elements of the Soviets . . from the petty bourgeois
elements, provides a correct expression of the interests of the movement."
13. So long as the Soviets control an effective
machinery of force and the Proviosional Government does not, this process
of transferring all power to the Soviets may be accomplished peacefully.
(V. I. Lenin: "Letters on Tactics', in: ibid.; p.
"It must be explained to the masses that the Soviet
of Workers' Deputies is the only possible form of revolutionary government
and that, therefore, our task is, while this government is submitting to
the influence of the bourgeoisie, to present a patient, systematic, and
persistent analysis of its errors and tactics, an analysis especially adapted
to the practical needs of the masses.
While we are in the minority, we carry on the work
of criticism and of exposing errors, advocating all along the necessity
of transferring the entire power of state to the Soviets of Workers' Deputies".
(V. I. Lenin: Speech at a Caucus of the Bolshevik
Members of the All-Russian Conference of the Soviets of Workers' and Soldiers'
Deputies, April 17, 1917, in: ibid; p. 99).
"The essence of the situation (i.e.,
from March 12th. to July 17th., 1917 -- Ed.) was that the arms were in
the hands of the people, and that no coercion was exercised over the people
from without. That is what opened up and ensured a peaceful path for the
development of the revolution. The slogan 'All power to the Soviets' was
a slogan for a peaceful development of the revolution, which was possible
between March 12 and July 17".
14. Thus, the former slogan 'Turn the imperialist war
into civil war" is now for the time being incorrect:
(V. I. Lenin: "On Slogans", in: "Selected Works",
Volume 6; London; 19216; p. 167-68).
"We advocated the transformation of the imperialist
war into a civil war -- are we not going back on ourselves? But the first
civil war in Russia has ended.
15. The aim of transferring all power to the
Soviets is to set up a Russian Soviet Republic, a state of the
working class and peasantry.
. . In this transitional period, as long as the armed
force is in the hands of the soldiers, as long as Miliukov and Guchkov
have not resorted to violence, this civil war, as far as we are concerned,
turns into peaceful, prolonged and patient class propaganda. We discard
this slogan for the time being, but only for the time being."
(V. I. Lenin: Report on the Current Situation", in:
ibid.; p. 95, 96).
"Not a parliamentary republic -- a return to it from
the Soviet of Workers' Deputies would be a step backward -- but a republic
of Soviets of Workers', Agricultural Labourers' and Peasants' Deputies
throughout the land, from top to bottom" .
16. The formation of this Soviet Republic will be a
major step in the direction of socialism: however, its immediate programme
will not be the introduction of socialism, but the establishment
of control by the Soviets over production and distribution:
(V. I. Lenin: Speech at a Caucus of the Bolshevik
Members of the All-Russian Conference of the Soviets of Workers' and Soldiers'
Deputies, April 17th., 1917, in: "Collected Works", Volume. 20,
Book 1; London; 1929; p. 99).
"The Soviets of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies must
seize power not for the purpose of building an ordinary bourgeois republic,
nor for the purpose of introducing Socialism immediately. The letter could
not be accomplished.
. . They must seize power in order to take the first
concrete steps towards introducing Socialism".
(V. I. Lenin: Report On the Political Situation, 7th.
Conference of RSDLP, in: ibid.; p. 283)
"Not the 'introduction' of Socialism as an immediate
task, but the immediate placing of the Soviet of Workers' Deputies in control
of social production and distribution of goods".
(V. I. Lenin: Speech at a Caucus of Bolshevik Members
of the All-Russian Conference of the Soviets of Workers' end Soldiers'
Deputies, April 17th., 1917,in: ibid.; p. 101).
"Abolition of the police, the army, the bureaucracy.
17. The term "social-democratic has been so brought
into disrepute by the social-chauvinists that the Russian Social-Democratic
Labour Party should change its name to the Russian Communist Party.
All officers to be elected and to be subject to recall
at any time, their salaries not to exceed the average wage of a competent
Confiscation of all private lands.
Nationalisation of all lands in the country, and management
of such lands by local Soviets of Agricultural Labourers' and Peasants'
Deputies. A separate organisation of Soviets of Deputies of the
poorest peasants. Creation of model agricultural establishments out of
large estates. . . . . .
Immediate merger of all the banks in the country into
one general national bank, over which the Soviet of Workers' Deputies should
(V. I. Lenin: "On the Tasks of the Proletariat in
the Present Revolution", in: ibid.; p. 108).
"We must call ourselves the Communist Party -- just
as Marx and Engels called themselves Communists. ...
18. The "Zimmerwald International"' has already broken
down as a result of its persistent centrism; the Party must
withdraw from it (except for purposes of information) and found a new revolutionary
The majority . . of the Social-Democratic leaders
are betraying Socialism.....
The masses are distracted, baffled, deceived by their
Should we aid and abet that deception by retaining
the old and worn-out party name, which is as decayed as the Second International?
It is high time to cast off the soiled shirt, it is
high time to put on clean linen".
(V. I. Lenin: "The Tasks of the Proletariat in Our
Revolution", in: ibid.; p. 154, l56, 157).
'The chief fault of the Zimmerwald International,
the cause of its breakdown (for from a political and ideological viewpoint
it has already broken down), was its vacillation, its indecision, when
it came to the most important practical end all-determining question of
breaking completely with the social-chauvinists and the old social-chauvinist
International. . .
To sum up, Lenin held that, politically, the "February
Revolution" was a bourgeois-democratic revolution which transferred power
from the tsarist autocracy to the dual power of the democratic dictatorship
of the working class and peasantry (in the shape of the Soviets) and of
the capitalist class (in the shape of the Provisional Government). Politically,
therefore, the 'February Revolution" represented the completion of the
We must break with this International immediately.
We ought to remain in Zimmerwald only to gather information.
It is precisely we who must found, right now, without
delay, a new, revolutionary proletarian International".
(V. I. Lenin ibid.; p. 151, 152).
"Before the March revolution of 1917, state power
in Russia was in the hands of one old class, namely, the feudal noble landlord
class, headed by Nicholas Romanov.
Economically and socially, however, particularly in
so far as the agrarian revolution (the transfer of the land to the working
peasantry) is concerned, the 'February Revolution' did not complete the
bourgeois-democratic revolution, Economically and socially, the bourgeois-democratic
revolution was not completed until the 'October Revolution', the political
content of which was proletarian-socialist.
After that revolution, state power is in the hands
of another class, a new one, namely, the bourgeoisie. . . .
The passing of state power from one class to another
is the first, the main, the basic principle of a revolution, both in the
strictly scientific and in the practical meaning of that term.
To that extent, the bourgeois or the bourgeois democratic,
revolution in Russia is completed.
But at this point we hear the noise of objectors,
who readily call themselves 'old Bolsheviks' : Haven't we always maintained,
they say, that a bourgeois-democratic revolution is culminated only in
a 'revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry'? .
. . .
The Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies' --here
you have 'revolutionary-democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and
peasantry' already realised in life'.
(V. I Lenin: 'Letters on Tactics' in: ibid.;
p. 119, 120)
'Is the agrarian revolution, which is a phase of the
bourgeois-democratic revolution, completed? On the contrary, is it
not a fact that it has not yet been?'
Lenin thus maintained that the Bolshevik strategy and
tactics relating to the first, bourgeois-democratic stage of the revolutionary
process in Russia had been confirmed by the "February Revolution', but
in a 'more multicoloured' Way than could have been anticipated:
After the "October Revolution' the question naturally
arose among Trotsky's disciples as to how it had come about that the socialist
revolution in Russia had been brought about in accordance with a political
line advanced by Lenin, who had consistently opposed Trotsky's theory of
(V. I. Lenin: ibid.; p. 119-120).
'The bourgeois-democratic content of the revolution
means purging the social relations (systems and institutions) of the country
of mediavalism, serfdom, feudalism. . . .
'We solved the problems (i.e., economic and social
problems -- Ed.) of the bourgeois-democratic revolution in passing, as
a 'by-product' of the main and real proletarian-revolutionary socialist
(V. I. Lenin: 'The Fourth Anniversary of the October
Revolution'; in: "Selected Works'; Volume 6; London; 1946; p. 501; 503.
Trotsky's answer was simple, if completely mythical:
in May 1917 the Bolshevik Party, on Lenin's initiative, had 'rearmed
itself' ideologically by accepting Trotsky's theory of 'permanent revolution";
thus history had "confirmed" the correctness of Trotsky's theory of 'permanent
"Bolshevism under the leadership of Lenin (though
not without internal struggle) accomplished its ideological rearmament
on this most important question in the spring of 1917, that is, before
the seizure of power".
In fact, of course, Lenin took pains to dissociate
himself from Trotsky's theory of "permanent revolution' after his return
to Russia in April 1917:
(L. Trotsky: Note in "The Year 1905;'(January 1922),
cited in: L. Trotsky: 'The Permanent Revolution"; New York; 1970; p. 236).
"Precisely in the period between January 9 and the
October strike (in 1905 -- Ed.) the author formed those opinions, which
later received the name: 'theory of the permanent revolution' . .
. . .
This appraisal was confirmed as completely correct,
though after a lapse of twelve years".
(L. Trotsky: Forward to "The Year 1905" (January 1922),
cited in: L. Trotsky: ibid.; p. 235).
"I by no means consider that in my disagreements with
the Bolsheviks I was wrong on all points.. . .
I consider that my assessment of the motive forces
of the revolution was absolutely right.. . .
My polemical articles against the Mensheviks and the
Bolsheviks . . devoted to an analysis of the internal forces of the revolution
and its prospects . . I could republish even now without amendment, since
they fully and completely coincide with the position of our Party, beginning
(L. Trotsky: Letter to N.S. Olminsky, December 1921
cited in: N. S. Olminsky: Foreword to "Lenin on Trotsky" (1925), cited
in: J. V. Stalin: Reply to the Discussion on the Report an "The Social--Democratic
Deviation in Our Party', 15th Conference of CPSU (B.), November 3rd., 1926;
in 'Works';, Volume 3; Moscow; 1954;p. 349-50).
"Trotskyism: 'No Tsar but a workers' government'.
This, surely is wrong".
Lenin did not put forward in April 1917 the strategy of
direct advance to the dictatorship of the working class (in alliance
with the poor peasantry) as a corrected strategy for the realisation
of the bourgeois-democratic revolution.
(V. I. Lenin: Report on the Political Situation, Petrograd
City Conference of the RSDLP, April 27th, 1917, in: "Collected Works",
Volume 20, Book 1; London;
l929, p. 207).
"Had we said: 'No Tsar, but a Dictatorship of the Proletariat'
-- it would have meant a leap over the petty bourgeoisie.'
(V.I. Lenin: Concluding Remarks in Connection with
the Report on the Political Situation, 7th. Conference of the RSDLP, May
7th., 1917, in: ibid.; p. 287).
On the contrary, the bourgeois-democratic revolution,
as the first stage of the revolutionary process in Russia, had already
been realised, politically, in the 'February Revolution'. The strategy
of direct advance to the dictatorship of the working class (in alliance
with the poor peasantry) was put forward as a new strategy for the
new situation following the "February Revolution", a new strategy
for the second stage of the revolutionary process.
As Lenin expressed it in his 'April Theses':
"The present situation in Russia. . .represents a
transition from the first stage of the revolution to its second stage which
is to place power in the hands of the proletariat and the poorest strata
of the peasantry'.
Trotsky's myth -- that Lenin put forward in April 1917
a "corrected' strategy for the realisation of the bourgeois--democratic
revolution similar to that embodied in Trotsky's theory of "permanent revolution'
-- is based on a denial of the fact that the 'February Revolution" constituted,
politically, a bourgeois-democratic revolution.
(V. I. Lenin: Speech at a Caucus of the Bolshevik
Members of the All-Russian Conference of the Soviets of Workers' and Soldiers'
Deputies, April 17th., 1917, in: ibid.; p. 97).
In his 'History of the Russian Revolution", Trotsky
admits this fact:
'The insurrection triumphed. But to whom did
it hand over the power snatched from the monarchy? We come here to
the central problem of the February revolution. Why and how did the power
turn up in the hands of the liberal bourgeoisie?"
But in his "The Permanent Revolution', Trotsky deliberately
confuses the political bourgeois-democratic revolution of March with the
bourgeois-democratic revolutionary economic and social changes that followed
the revolution of November in order to present the latter as a "bourgeois-democratic
revolution" which resulted in the dictatorship of the proletariat:
(L. Trotsky: "History of the Russian Revolution",
Volume 1; London; 1967; p. l55).
'The bourgeois-democratic revolution was realised
during the first period after October. . But, as we know, it was
not realised in the form of a democratic dictator-ship (i.e., of the working
class and peasantry --but in the form of the dictatorship of the proletariat..
. . .
In November 1926 Stalin was
justifiably sarcastic about Trotsky's claim that in May 1917 the Party
had "rearmed itself" with Trotsky's theory of 'permanent revolution":
Within the Party the principal opposition to Lenin's "April
Theses" was led by Trotsky's brother-in-law Lev Kamenev.
The two lines, the 'permanent' and Lenin's . . were
completely fused by the October Revolution'.
(L. Trotsky: 'The Permanent Revolution"; New
York; 1970; p. 229, 234).
On April 21st., 1917, Kamenev published in "Pravda'
an article-- entitled "Our Differences " in which he denounced Lenin's
"personal opinion" as "unacceptable" on the grounds that he was advocating
an immediate socialist revolution before the bourgeois-democratic revolution
had been completed.
"In yesterday's issue of the 'Pravda' Comrade Lenin
published his 'theses'. They represent the personal opinion
of Comrade Lenin. . . The policy of the 'Pravda' was clearly formulated
in the resolutions prepared by the Bureau of the Central Committee. . .
Pending new decisions of the Central Committee and
of the All-Russian Conference of our Party, those resolutions remain our
platform which we will defend . . against Comrade Lenin's criticism.. .
As regards Comrade Lenin's general line, it appears
to us unacceptable inasmuch, as it proceeds from the assumption that the
bourgeois-democratic revolution has been completed and it builds
on the immediate transformation of this revolution into a socialist revolution.
. . .
In a broad discussion we hope to carry our point of
view as the only possible one for revolutionary Social-Democracy in so
far as it wishes to be and must remain to the very end the one and only
party of the revolutionary masses of the proletariat without turning into
a group of Communist propagandists".
(L. Kamenev: "Our Differences'; cited in: V. I. Lenin:
Collected Works", Volume 20, Book 1; London; 1929; p. 380-81)
"There are two major errors in this.
An opposition group in the Moscow City Committee, headed
Aleksei Rykov and Viktor Nogin, opposed the basis of Lenin's theses
on the grounds that Russia was too industrially undeveloped for socialist
1. The question of a 'completed bourgeois-democratic
revolution is stated wrongly. . . . .
Reality shows us both the passing of the power into
the hands of the bourgeoisie (a 'completed' bourgeois-democratic revolution
of the ordinary type) and, by the side of the actual government, the existence
of a parallel government which represents the 'revolutionary- democratic-dictatorship
of the proletariat and the peasantry'. . .
Is this reality embraced in the old Bolshevik formula
of Comrade Kamenev which says that 'the bourgeois democratic revolution
is not completed'?
No, the formula . . is dead. . . .
Anyone who is guided in his activities by the simple
formula 'the bourgeois-democratic revolution is not completed' vouchsafes,
as it were, the certainty of the petty bourgeoisie being independent of
In doing so, he at once helplessly surrenders to the-petty
bourgeoisie. . . .
The mistake made by Comrade Kamenev is that in 1917
he only sees the past of the revolutionary democratic dictatorship of the
proletariat and the peasantry. In reality, however, its future has
already begun, for the interests and the policy of the wage earners and
the petty proprietors have already taken different lines.. . . .
This brings me to the second mistake in the remarks
of Comrade Kamenev quoted above: He reproaches me, saying that my
line 'builds' on the immediate transformation of this bourgeois-democratic
revolution into a socialist revolution.
This is not true. . . .
I declared in plain language that in this respect
I only build on 'patient' explaining (is it necessary to be patient to
bring about a change which can be realised 'immediately').
(V. I. Lenin: 'Letters on Tactics'; in: "Collected
Works', Volume 20 , Book 1 London; 1929; p. 125, 126, 127).
'Comrade Rykov says that Socialism must first come
from other countries with greater industrial development. But this is not
so. It is hard to tell who will begin and who will end. This is not
Marxism, but a parody on Marxism'.
Another group of members of the Party -- including I.
P. Goldenberg, V. Bazarov, B. V. Avilov and Y N. Steklov, --
left the Bolshevik Party altogether in protest against Lenin's theses and
founded the paper "Novaya Zhizn" (New Life), which supported the
unification of Bolsheviks, Mensheviks and 'Novaya Zhizn"-ists
into a single party based on the openly Menshevik view that the Socialist
revolution "Must be preceded by a more or less prolonged period of capitalism."
(V. I. Lenin: Concluding Remarks in Connection with
the Report on the Political Situation, May 7th. Conference of RSDLP, May
7th., 1917, in: ibid.; p. 287).
At the Petrograd City Conference of the Party,
held from April 27th; to May 5th; 1917, a resolution in support of the
political line laid down in Lenin's "April Theses" was carried.
On May 1st., 1917 (April 18th ; under the old style calendar)
Foreign Minister Pavel Miliukov sent a note to the Allied Governments
emphasising the determination of the Provisional Government to
carry the war to a victorious conclusion and to remain loyal to the tsarist
government's treaties with the Allies.
'The declarations of the Provisional Government naturally
cannot offer the slightest cause to assume that the accomplished upheaval
will result in a weakening of Russia's role in the common struggle of the
Allies. Quite the contrary. The effort of the whole people to carry
the World War through to a decisive victory has only been strengthened.
. Naturally, the Provisional Government. . . in protecting the rights
of our fatherland, will hold faithfully to the obligations which we have
assumed towards our allies. . The government is now, as before, firmly
convinced, that the present war will be victoriously concluded in
complete accord with the Allies'.
The publication of the note within Russia gave rise to
mass demonstrations in Petrograd over the next four days,
in which armed soldiers took a prominent part -- attempting at times to
occupy public buildings. Among the demonstrators the slogans 'Down
with Miliukov" and 'Down with Guchkov' were raised everywhere.
(Provisional Government, Ministry of Foreign Affairs:
Note to Allied Governments of May 1st., 1917, cited in: V. I. Lenin:
"Collected Works', Volume 20, Book 1; London; 1929; p. 371).
The Central Committee of the Party was concerned that
this spontaneous movement might develop along insurrectionary lines which,
in the existing situation, could only harm the revolutionary movement;
on May 4th., therefore, it adopted a resolution drafted by Lenin
calling upon all Party members to exert every effort to keep the demonstrations
"Party agitators and speakers must refute the despicable
lies that we threaten with civil war. . . At the present moment,
when the capitalists and their government cannot and dare not use violence
against the masses . . any thought of civil war is naive, senseless, monstrous.
. . .
These demonstrations proved sufficient to force the
resignation of Guchkov as Minister of War May 13th; and of Miliukov as
Minister of Foreign Affairs on May 15th.
All Party agitators, in factories, in regiments, in
the streets, etc. must advocate these views and this proposition (i.e.,
withdrawal of support by the Soviets from the Provisional Government --
Ed.) by means of peaceful discussions and peaceful demonstrations, as well
as meetings everywhere'.
(V. I. Lenin: Resolution of CC, RSDLP, May 4th., 1917,
in: ibid.; p. 245, 246).
On May 14th the Executive Committee of the Petrograd
Soviet voted in favour of a coalition Provisional Government, in which
the Menshevik and Socialist-Revolutionary parties would be formally represented.
The First Coalition Provisional Government came
into being on May 18th with Prince Georgi Lvov continuing as Prime
Minister. Aleksandr Tereshchenko replaced Miliukov as Minister
of Foreign Affairs; Aleksandr Kerensky and Viktor Chernov (of the
Socialist Revolutionaries) became Minister of War and Minister of Agriculture
respectively; Aleksandr Skobelev and Iraklii Tseretelli (of the Mensheviks)
became Minister of Labour and Minister of Posts and Telegraphs respectively.
In the following month Lenin commented on the formal
entry of the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries into the Provisional
The Seventh Conference of the Russian Social-Democratic
Labour Party (the 'April Conference') was held in Petrograd
from May 7th. to 12th., 1917, attended by 133 voting delegates representing
80,000 Party members.
The Report on the Political Situation was given
by Lenin, and the opposition to Lenin's political line was led by
Lev Kamenev and Aleksei Rykov.
Kamenev directed his main attack against the
slogan 'Down with the Provisional Government!'", implying that this was
a Leninist slogan whereas it had been put forward during the 'April Days"
by the Petrograd Committee of the Party in violation of the line of the
Central Committee. In place of this (for the moment) incorrect slogan,
Kamenev urged that the Party should put forward the completely unrealistic
demand for control of the Provisional Government by the Soviets".
'We say that the slogan 'Down with the Provisional
Government' is an adventurer's slogan. That is why we have advocated
peaceful demonstrations. . . The Petrograd Committee, however, turned a
trifle to the Left. In a case of this sort, such a step was
a grave crime.
Rykov opposed Lenin's political line on the grounds
that Russia was too industrially undeveloped to move towards a socialist
Now about control. . . . . .
Comrade Kamenev . . views control as a political act.
. . We do not accept control. . .
The Provisional Government must be overthrown, but
not now, and not in the ordinary way".
(V. I. Lenin: Concluding Remarks in connection with
the Report on the Political Situation, 7th. Conference RSDLP, May 7th.,
1917,in: "Collected Works', Volume 20, Book 1; London; 1929; p. 285-86,
"Comrade Rykov. . . . says that Socialism must come
first from other countries with greater industrial development. But
this is not so. It is hard to tell who will begin and who will end.
This is not Marxism, but a parody on Marxism.'
By a majority the congress approved a series of resolutions
endorsing the Leninist line.
(V. I. Lenin: ibid.; p. 287).
The Leninist political line on the national question
in particular, that the Party must advocate the right of oppressed nations
to self-determination to the point of secession -- was presented in the
Report on the National Question given by Stalin. This
slogan was opposed by Felix Dzherzhinsky and Yuri Piatakov, the
"The only effective method of solving it (i.e., the
national question -- Ed.) is the method of a socialist revolution under
the slogan 'Down with boundaries.' for only thus can one do away with imperialism
--this new factor leading to a sharpening of national oppression. .
Whereas (1) 'the right of nations to self-determination'
. . is a mere phrase without any definite meaning; ....
and whereas (2) this phrase is interpreted as meaning
much more than is thought of in the ranks of revolutionary Social-Democracy,.
. . .
the Conference . . assumes that paragraph 9 of our
programme (i.e., support for the right of nations to self-determination
-- Ed.) should be eliminated."
(Y. Piatakov: Resolution on National Question submitted
to 7th. Conference, RSDLF; cited in: V. I.Lenin: 'Collected Works", Volume
20, Book 2; London; 1929; p.411, 412).
'Ever since 1903, when our Party adopted its programme,
we have been encountering the desperate opposition of the Poles. . . And
the position of the Polish Social-Democracy is as strange and monstrous
an error now as it was then. These people wish to reduce the stand
of our Party to that of the chauvinists.. . . . .
The conference discussed the question of the Party's participation
in the Third (and last) "Zimmerwald Conference", due to be
held in Stockholm (Sweden) in May 1917 (but later postponed until September).
In Russia we must stress the right of separation for
the subject nations, while in Poland we must stress the right of such nations
to unite. The right to unite implies the right to separate. . . .
Comrade Piatakov's standpoint is a repetition of Rosa
Luxemburg's standpoint . . Theoretically he is against the right
of separation. . What Comrade Piatakov says is incredible confusion.. .
.When one says that the national question has been settled, one speaks
of Western Europe. Comrade Piatakov applies this where it does not
belong, to Eastern Europe, and we find ourselves in a ridiculous position.
. . .
Comrade Piatakov simply rejects our slogan. The method
of accomplishing a socialist revolution under the slogan 'Down with the
boundaries' is an utter absurdity. . . We maintain that the state is necessary,
and the existence of a state presupposes boundaries. Even the Soviets are
confronted with the question of boundaries . . .What does it mean, 'Down
with the boundaries'? This is the beginning of anarchy . . .
He who does not accept this point of view is an annexationist,
(V. I. Lenin: Speech on the National Question, 7th.
Conference RSDLP, in: "Collected Works", Volume 20, Book 1; London; 1929;
p. 310, 312, 313, 3l4).
In his "April Theses" Lenin had already demanded a
break with the 'Zimmerwald International", proposing that the Party should
remain within it only for purposes of information. At the conference, however,
this policy was opposed by a considerable body of delegates headed by Grigori
Zinoviev, who proposed:
"Our party remains in the Zimmerwald bloc with the
aim of defending the tactics of the Zimmerwald Left Wing there. . . .
Zinoviev's resolution was carried by the conference
against the opposition of Lenin, who described Zinoviev's tactics as:
The conference decides to take part in the international
conference of the Zimmerwaldists scheduled for May 31 and authorises the
Central Committee to organise a delegation to that conference".
(Resolution on "The Situation within the International
and the Tasks of the RSDLP", 7th. Conference RSDLP, cited in: V. I. Lenin:
"Collected Works", Volume 20, Book 2; London; 1929; p. 407).
'..arch-opportunist and pernicious".
The conference also discussed the question of the Party's
participation in an "international socialist conference" to discuss
"peace terms", also scheduled for Stockholm in May. On May 6th, the Danish
Social-Democrat Frederik Bergjberg had personally addressed the
Executive Committee of the Petrograd Soviet on the 'Stockholm Conference".
The Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries had accepted the invitation
to participate in the conference; the Bolsheviks had rejected the invitation.
(V. I. Lenin: Speech at 7th. Conference, RSDLP, cited
in: "History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolsheviks)";
Moscow; 1941; p. 189)
The question was placed on the agenda of the conference
at the request of Viktor Nogin, who proposed that a Bolshevik
delegation should attend the 'Stockholm Conference'.
"I cannot agree with Comrade Nogin . . Back of this
whole comedy of a would-be Socialist congress there are actually the political
maneuvers of German imperialism. The German capitalists use the German
social-chauvinists for the purpose of inviting the social-chauvinists of
all countries to the conference. because they want to fool the working
masses. . . . .
The conference adopted a resolution along these lines.
Borgjberg is an agent of the German government.. .
We must expose this whole comedy of the Socialist
conference, expose all these congresses as comedies intended to cover up
the deals made by the diplomats behind the backs of the masses."
(V. I. Lenin: Speech on the Proposed Calling of an
International Socialist Conference, 7th. Conference RSDLP, May 8 1917,
in: "Collected Works", Volume 20, Book 1; London; 1929; p. 287, 288, 290).
The conference adopted a series of resolutions in
accordance with Lenin's political line:
The Conference elected a new Central Committee, consisting
of Lenin, Stalin, Kamenev, Zinoviev, Nilyutin, Nogin, Sverdlov, Smilga
and Fedorov, and instructed it to bring up to date the programme of the
Party adopted in 1903.
"On the War',
'On the Attitude towards the Provisional Government';
"On the Agrarian Question';
''On a Coalition Cabinet",
''On Uniting the Internationalists against the Petty-bourgeois
'On the Present Political Situation" ;
and 'On the Soviets of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies'.
The First Congress of Soviets
The First All-Russian Congress of Soviets was held
in Petrograd from June 16th to July 6th., 1917. Of the 790
delegates, only 103 (13%) were Bolsheviks, and the congress was dominated
by the Mensheviks and Social-Revolutionaries. The congress, against
Bolshevik opposition, adopted resolutions in favour of:
participation in the Provisional Government,
On June 21st; the Central Committee of the RSDLP decided
to call a peaceful demonstration for June 23rd; under the
slogans: 'Down with the Capitalist Ministers!'" and "All Power to the Soviets!".
The Congress of Soviets, on the initiative of the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries,
immediately adopted a resolution prohibiting the demonstration on
the pretext that:
"defence of the fatherland" in the imperialist
the military offensive at the front demanded by
the Allied powers;
and the war loan 'Liberty Loan').
'We know that the hidden counter-revolutionaries are
making ready to take advantage of your demonstration".
In the early hours of the morning of June 22nd;
the Central Committee, on Lenin's initiative, called off the planned
(Resolution of First Congress of Soviets, June 21st.,
1917, cited by V. I, Lenin: 'Disquieting Rumours", in: 'Collected
Works', Volume 20, Book 2 London; 1929; p. 41).
On June 24th, Lenin explained the reasons
for this decision to a meeting of the Petrograd Committee of
"The dissatisfaction of the majority of the comrades
with the calling off of the demonstration is quite legitimate, but
the Central Committee could not act otherwise for two reasons: First, we
received a formal prohibition of all demonstrations from our semi-official
government : second, a plausible reason was given for this prohibition.
. . . .
The 'subsequent events', referred to by Lenin were the
holding, earlier on the same day, of a united session of the Executive
Committee of the Petrograd Soviet, the Presidium of the Congress of Soviets
and the Fraction Committees of the parties represented at the Congress.
Even in simple warfare it sometimes happens that for
strategic reasons it is necessary to postpone an offensive fixed for a
certain date.. . . .
It was absolutely necessary for us to cancel our arrangements.
This has been proved by subsequent events'.
(V. I. Lenin: Speech at the Session of the Petrograd
Committee of the RSDLP, June 24th., 1917, in: ibid.: p.245).
Iraklii Tseretelli, Menshevik Minister of Posts
and Telegraphs in the Provisional Government, denounced the Bolshevik demonstration
that had been planned for June 23rd. as 'a plot to overthrow the Provisional
Government by force'; he demanded that the Bolsheviks be expelled
from the Soviets and that the arms in the hands of the workers be taken
The Bolshevik delegates walked out of the congress
in protest at Tseretelli's speech, and issued a declaration in which they
"We have not renounced for a single moment in favour
of a hostile majority of the Soviet our right, independently and freely,
to utilise all liberties for the purpose of mobilising the working masses
under the banner of our proletarian class party. . .
However, rank-and-file pressure compelled the Menshevik
and Socialist-Revolutionary leaders of the Soviet on June 25th. to call
a demonstration for July 1st. in the name of the Congress of Soviets.
About 400,000 workers and soldiers took part in the demonstration in
Petrograd on this day, and, to the horror of the compromising leaders of
the Soviets, 90% of the banners bore the slogans put forward by the
Bolsheviks: "Down with the Ten Capitalist Ministers!, and "All Power
to the Soviets!'
What is planned is the disarming of the revolutionary
vanguard -- a measure that has always been resorted to by the bourgeois
counter-revolution. . . .
Citizen Tseretelli and those who direct him are hardly
ignorant of the fact that never in history have the working masses given
up without struggle the arms they had received at the hand of the revolution.
Consequently, the ruling bourgeoisie and its 'Socialist' Ministers are
provoking civil war. . and they are aware of what they are doing.
. . .
We expose before the All-Russian Congress and the
masses of the people . . this attack on the revolution that is now being
prepared. . . .
The revolution is passing through a moment of supreme
danger. We call upon the workers to be firm and watchful."
(Declaration of Bolshevik Fraction to All-Russian
Congress of Soviets, June 24th., 1917, cited in: V. I. Lenin: ibid.: p.
The Congress elected a Central Executive Committee
and instructed it to convene a new congress within three months.
Trotsky Returns to Russia
When news of the 'February Revolution' reached America,
Trotsky made immediate arrangements to return to Russia. Sailing
from New York in a Norwegian ship at the end of March, he was taken off
the ship at Halifax (Canada) by British naval police and confined for a
month in an internment camp for German prisoners of war at Amherst.
At the end of April he was released from internment,
and resumed his journey. Landing in Norway, he crossed Scandinavia
to reach Petrograd on May 17th., 1917.
He went almost immediately to the Smolny Institute,
a former private school for girls which was now the head-quarters of the
Petrograd Soviet. In view of his leading role in the Soviet of 1905,
he was made an associate member of the Executive of the Soviet,
without the right to vote.
He joined a group called the 'Inter-Regional
Organisation" (Mezhrayontsi), which had been founded in 1913 and to
the publications of which he had contributed from abroad. The Inter-Regional
Organisation was a centrist group, which prided itself on being neither
Bolshevik nor Menshevik, and its influence was confined to a few working-class
districts of Petrograd. In the early summer of 1917 its leading members
included Anatoly Lunacharsky, David Riazanov, Dmitri Manuilsky, Mikhail
Pokrovsky, Adolphe Joffe and Lev Karahkhan.
Now Trotsky took a leading role in the organisation,
and in founding its organ 'Vperyod' (Forward).
According to Trotsky,
'Whoever lived through the year 1917 as a member of
the central kernel of the Bolsheviks knows that there was never a hint
of any disagreement between Lenin and me from the very first day. . . .
According to Lenin, however,
Trotsky himself was precisely one of the 'elements which tried to impede
From the earliest days of my arrival, I stated . .
. . . that I was ready to join the Bolshevik organisation immediately in
view of the absence of any disagreements whatever but that it was necessary
to decide the question of the quickest possible way of attracting the 'Mezhrayontsi'
organisation into the party. . . .
Among the membership of the 'Mezhrayontsi' organisation
there were elements which tried to impede the fusion, advancing this or
that condition, etc."
(L. Trotsky: 'The Stalin School of Falsification";
New York; 1972; p. 5, 6).
On May 23rd., a meeting took place between representatives
of the Bolsheviks (including Lenin) and representatives of the Inter-Regional
Organisation (including Trotsky) to explore the possibility of fusion.
As Trotsky's biographer puts it:
"At the meeting of 23 May he (i.e., Lenin -- Ed.)
asked Trotsky and Trotsky's friends to join the Bolshevik party immediately.
He offered them positions on the leading bodies and on the editorial staff
of 'Pravda'. He put no conditions to them. He did not ask Trotsky
to renounce anything of his past; he did not even mention past controversies.
. . .
Lenin's own notes of the meeting say:
Trotsky would have had to be much more free from pride
than he was to accept Lenin's proposals immediately. He and his friends
should not be asked to call themselves Bolsheviks. . . They ought to join
hands in a new party, with a new name, at a joint congress of their organisations'.
(I. Deutscher: "The Prophet Armed: Trotsky; 1879-192l';
London; 1970; p. 257-8).
"Trotsky (who took the floor out of turn immediately
after me) . . . .
The meeting, therefore, broke up without reaching any
I cannot call myself a Bolshevik. . . .
We cannot be asked to recognise Bolshevism. .
The old factional name is undesirable'.
(V. I. Lenin: "Leniniskii Sbornik' (Lenin Miscellany)
Volume 4; Moscow; 1925; p. 303).
Not until August, three months
before the October Revolution, did the Inter-Regional Organisaion join
the Bolshevik Party, while Trotsky was in prison!
The Resignation of the Cadet
On July 16th., 1917, the Ministers belonging to the
Constitutional-Democratic Party (the 'Cadets') resigned from the Government.
Lenin pointed out that:
'. . by leaving, they say, we present an ultimatum.
. . .
The effect of this ultimatum was to face the Menshevik
Ministers in the Provisional Government with the choice of either participating
in the attempted suppression of the working class and poor peasantry or
of allying themselves with the revolutionary working class and peasantry
- which their whole political outlook would make them fear to do:
To be without the Cadets, they aver, means to be without
the 'aid' of world-wide Anglo-American capital'.
(V. I. Lenin: 'What could the Cadets Count on when
leaving the Cabinet?", in: 'Collected Works', Volume 21, Book 1;
London; n.d.; p. 16).
'Either suppress such a class by force -- as the Cadets
have been preaching since May 19 -- or entrust yourself to its leadership.
. . The Tsteretellis and Chernovs, they think would not do that, they would
not dare.' They will yield to us.' . . .
The resignation of the Cadet Ministers from the government
on July 16th. stimulated on the following day mass demonstrations of
armed workers and soldiers outside the headquarters of the Petrograd
Soviet, under the slogans 'All Power to the Soviets.'
The calculation is correct.'
(V. I. Lenin: ibid.; p. 15, 16).
The "July Days'
In the evening of July 17th. a Bolshevik revolution
in the All-Russian Central Executive Committee of the Soviets calling for
the transfer of all power to the Soviets was rejected.
On the next day, July 18th., "Pravda" published an
appeal from the Bolsheviks calling for an end to the demonstrations:
"For the present political crisis, our aim has been
accomplished. We have therefore decided to end the demonstration.
Let each and every one peacefully and in an organised manner bring the
strike and the demon-stration to a close".
Later, in September 1917, Lenin analysed the
reasons why it would have been incorrect to have attempted to turn the
armed demonstration of the 'July Days' into an insurrection:
(Proclamation of the CC of the RSDLP July 18th.,.
1917, cited in: V. I. Lenin 'Collected Works', Volume 21, Book
2; London; n.d., p. 300).
"On July 16-17 . . there were still lacking the objective
conditions for a victorious uprising.
On July 18th., 1917 the newspaper "'Zhivoye Slovo" (Living
Word) published a statement from Grigori Alexnsky asserting that
he had documentary evidence that Lenin was "a spy in the pay
of German imperialism". On the same day military cadets wrecked the
printing plant and editorial offices of "Pravda", preventing the publication
of Lenin's reply to the slander.
'We did not yet have behind us the class that is the vanguard of the revolution.
We did not yet have a majority among the workers and soldiers of the capitals.
. . .
2. At that time there
was no general revolutionary upsurge of the people . . .
3. At that time
there were no vacillations on a serious, general, political scale
among our enemies and among the undecided petty bourgeoisie. . . ..
4. This is why an uprising
on July 16-17 would have been an error; we would not have retained power
either physically or politically.. . . .
Before the Kornilov affair, the army and the
provinces could and would have marched against Petrograd".
(V. I. Lenin: "Marxism and Uprising", in: "Collected
Works ", Volume 21, Book 1; London; n.d.; p. 225-226).
The Order for the Arrest of
On July 19th. government troops occupied the headquarters
of the Central Committee of the Party, and the government issued an order
for the arrest of Lenin, Zinoviev and Kameonev.
A movement demanding that Lenin surrender to the arrest
order was led by Trotsky.
As Trotsky's sympathetic biographer Isaac Deutscher
"Lenin . . made up his mind that he would not allow
himself to be imprisoned but would go into hiding. . . . .
To this demand Lenin replied:
.. Trotsky took a less grave view and Lenin's decision
seemed to him unfortunate. . . he thought that Lenin had every interest
in laying his record before the public, and that in this way he could serve
his cause better than by flight, which would merely add to any adverse
appearances by which people might judge him."
(I. Deutscher: "The Prophet Armed: Trotsky: 1879-l921";
London; 1970; p. 274).
"Comrades yielding to the 'Soviet atmosphere' are,
often inclined towards appearing before the courts.
The Bolshevik viewpoint on the question of the attitude
to be adopted towards the warrant of arrest issued for the Bolshevik leaders
was put at the Sixth Congress of the Party in August by Stalin:
Those who are closer to the working masses apparently
incline towards not appearing.. .
The court is an organ of power. . . .
The power that is active is the military dictatorship.
Under such conditions it is ridiculous even to speak of 'the courts'. It
is not a question of 'courts', but of an episode in the civil war.
This is what those in favour of appearing before the courts unfortunately
do not want to understand. . . .
Not a trial but a campaign of persecution against
the internationalists, this is what the authorities need. . . .
Let the internationalists work underground as far
as it is in their power, but let them not commit the folly of voluntarily
appearing before the courts'."
(V. I. Lenin: "The Question of the Bolshevik Leaders
appearing before the Courts", in ibid.; p. 34, 35).
"There is no guarantee that if they do appear they
will not be subjected to brutal violence. If the court were democratically
organised and if a guarantee were given that violence would not be committed
it would be a different matter."
Feeling that his political reputation was suffering because
no warrant had been issued for his own arrest, Trotsky wrote an Open Letter
to the Provisional Government pleading that he too should be made liable
(J. V. Stalin: Speech in Reply to the Discussion
on the Report of the Central Commitee, 6th. Congress RSDLP, in: "Works",
Volume 3; Moscow; 193; p. 182).
"On 23 July, four days after Lenin had gone into hiding,
Trotsky therefore addressed the following Open Letter to the Provisional
The Provisional Government obliged Trotsky by arresting
him on August 5th, and incarcerating him in the Kresty prison3
from which he was released on bail on September 17th.
'Citizen Ministers --
(I. Deutscher: ibid.; p. 276-77).
You can have no logical grounds for exempting me from
the effect of the decree by dint of which Lenin, Zinoviev and Kamenev are
subject to arrest. . . You can have no reason to doubt that I am just as
irreconcilable an opponent of the general policy of the Provisional Government
as the above-mentioned Comrades'."
The New Political Situation
following the "July Days"
On July 20th., 1917 Prince Lvov resigned as Prime
Minister of the Provisional Government, and on the following day his place
was taken by Aleksandr Kerensky (Socialist-Revolutionary).
On July 22nd., the All-Russian Central Executive
Committee of the Soviets, against Bolshevik opposition, adopted
a resolution of confidence in the Provisional Government as a government
of defence of the revolution.
At this time Lenin analysed the new political
situation following the "July Days" as follows:
1. As a result of the treachery of the Menshevik
and Socialist-Revolutionary leaders, dual power had ceased to exist;
effective state power passed into the hands of a military dictatorship
of the counter-revolutionary capitalist class:
On July 25th., 1917 Kerensky issued a decree reintroducing
capital punishment at the front, and three days later ordered the
suppression of 'Pravda" and other Bolshevik papers.
"'The counter-revolution has become organised and consolidated,
and has actually taken state power into its hands. . . .
The leaders of the Soviets as well as of the Socialist-Revolutionary
and Menshevik Parties, with Tseretelli and Chernov at their head, have
definitely betrayed the cause of the revolution by placing it in the hands
of the counter-revolutionists and transforming themselves, their parties
end the Soviets into fig-leaves of the counter-revolution. . . . .
Having sanctioned the disarming of the workers and
the revolutionary regiments, they have deprived themselves of all real
(V. I. Lenin: "The Political Situation", in: "Collected
Works", Volume 21, Book 1; London; n.d.; p. 36-37).
"The turning point of July 17 consisted in just this,
that after it the objective situation changed abruptly. Thc fluctuating
state of power ceased, the power having passed at a decisive point into
the hands of the counter-revolution. . . After July 17, the counter-revolutionary
bourgeoisie, hand in hand with the monarchists and the Black Hundreds,,
has attached to itself the petty-bourgeois Socialist-Revolutionaries and
Mensheviks, partly by intimidating them, and has given over actual state
power . . into the hands of a military clique."
(V. I. Lenin: "'On Slogans", in: ibid.; p. 44-45.)
2. Thus, the possibility of the peaceful
development of the revolution by the winning of a majority for revolutionary
socialism in the Soviets no longer exists:
"The struggle for the passing of power to the
Soviets in due time, is finished. The peaceful course of development has
been rendered impossible.. . . . .
At present power can no longer be seized peacefully.
It can be obtained only after a victory in a decisive struggle against
the real holders of power at the present moment, namely, the military clique..
. . .
This power must be overthrown."
(V. I. Lenin: "On Slogans", in: ibid.; p. 44, 45-46,
3. Thus, the slogan of "All Power to the Soviets",
which was correct in the period when the peaceful development of the revolution,
is no longer correct and should be abandoned:
"The slogan of all power passing to the Soviets was
a slogan of a peaceful development of the revolution, possible in April,
May, June and up to July 18-22, i.e., up to the time when actual power
passed into, the hands of the military dictatorship. Now this slogan is
no longer correct."
(V. I. Lenin: "The Political Situation, in: ibid.;
"This slogan would be a deception of the people. It
would spread among it the illusion that to seize power, the Soviets even
now have only to wish or to decree it".
(V. I Lenin: "On Slogans", in: ibid.; p. 45)
4. Even if slogans were given a clear revolutionary
content, it would be an incorrect call for "All Power To the Soviets!"
- because after the overthrow of the capitalist military dictatorship power,
power will not pass to the present impotent and treacherous Soviets,
but to revolutionary Soviets, which do not as yet exist:
"Soviets can and must appear in this now revolution,
but not the present Soviets, not organs of compromise with the bourgeoisie,
but organs of a revolutionary struggle against it. . . .
The present Soviets . . resemble a flock of sheep
brought to the slaughter-house, pitifully bleating when placed under the
knife. . . The slogan of the power passing to the Soviets might be construed
as a 'simple' call to let power pass into the hands of the present Soviets,
and to say so, to appeal for this, would at present mean to deceive the
people. Nothing is more dangerous than deception."
(V. I. Lenin: "On Slogans", in: ibid.; p. 49).
The Second Coalition Provisional
On July 29th. General Lavr Kornilov was appointed
Commander-in-Chief of the army, replacing General Aleksel Brusilov.
On July 31st., Kerensky issued a decree dissolving
the Finnish Sejm (Parliament), which had on July 19th,
passed a bill for the autonomy of Finland.
On August 6th., the second coalition Provisional
Government was formed, with Aleksandr Kerensky as Prime Minister
and Minister of War and including Ministers from the Cadets, the
Mensheviks and the Socialist-Revolutionaries.
Lenin commented on the formation of the new government
The Sixth Congress of the RSDLP took place secretly
in Petrograd from August 8th - 16th, 1917, attended
by 157 voting delegates representing 40,000 members.
In Lenin's absence, both the Report of the Central
Committee and the Report on the Political Situation were given
by Stalin. In the latter, Stalin said:
"Some comrades say that since capitalism is poorly
developed in our country, it would be utopian to raise the question of
a socialist revolution.. . It would be rank pedantry to demand that Russia
should 'wait' with socialist changes until Europe 'begins'. That country
"begins" which has the greater opportunities. . . .
Nikolai Bukharin put forward in the discussion
on the Report on the Political Situation a theory of the further development
of the revolution based on Trotsky's theory of "permanent revolution".
Bukharin held that the revolution in its further development, would
consist of two phases, the first phase being essentially a peasant revolution,
the second phase that of a revolution of the working class in which the
peasant would not be the ally of the working class, in which the only ally
of the Russian working class would be the working classes of Western Europe,
Overthrow of the dictatorship of the imperialist
bourgeoisie -- that is what the immediate slogan of the Party must be.
The peaceful period of the revolution has ended. A
period of clashes and explosions has begun.. . .
The characteristic feature of the moment is that the
counter-revolutionary measures are being implemented through the agency
of 'Socialists'. It is only because it has created such a screen that the
counter-revolution may continue to exist for another month or two. But
since the forces of revolution are developing, explosions are bound to
occur, and the moment will come when the workers will raise and rally around
them the poorer strata of the peasantry, will raise the standard of workers'
revolution and usher in an era of socialist revolution in Europe".
(J. V. Stalin: Report on the Political Situation,
Sixth Congress RSDLP, in: 'Works", Volume 3; Moscow; 1953; p. 185, 186,
"The first phase, with the participation of thc peasantry
anxious to obtain land; the second phase, after the satiated peasantry
has fallen away, the phase of the proletarian revolution, when the Russian
proletariat will be supported only by proletarian elements and by the proletariat
of Western Europe'".
Stalin opposed Bukharin's theory as 'not properly
thought out' and "fundamentally wrong":
(N. Bukharin: Speech at 6th. Congress, RSDLP, cited
in: N. Popov: "Outline History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union,
Part 1; London; n.d.; p. 383).
'What is the prospect Bukharin held out? His analysis
is fundamentally wrong. In his opinion, in the first
stage we are moving towards a peasant revolution. But it is bound
to concur, to coincide with a workers' revolution. It cannot be that the
working class, which constitutes the vanguard of the revolution, wil1 not
at the same time fight for its own demands. I therefore consider that Bukharin's
scheme has not been properly thought out.
Evgenii Preobrazhensky moved an amendment to
the congress resolution on the political situation, an amendment also
based on an aspect of Trotsky's theory of "permanent revolution". He
proposed that the seizure of power should be undertaken:
The second stage, according
to Bukharin, will be a proletarian revolution supported by Western Europe,
without the peasants, who will have received land and will be satisfied.
But against whom would this revolution be directed? Bukharin's gimcrack
scheme furnishes no reply to this question".
(J. V. Stalin: Reply to the Discussion on the Report
on the Political Situation, 6th. Congress, RSDLP; in ibid.; p. 196).
"For the purpose of directing it towards peace and,
in the event of a proletarian revolution in the West, towards socialism".
Stalin strongly opposed this amendment:
(E. Preobrazhensky: Amendment to Resolution on the
Political Situation, 6th. Congress RSDLP, cited in H. Popov: ibid.; p.
"I am against such an amendment. The possibility is
not excluded that Russia will be the country that will lay the road to
socialism. . . We must discard the antiquated idea that only Europe can
show us the way".
Preobrazhensky's amendment was rejected, and the resolution
adopted by the congress declared:
(J. V. Stalin: Reply to Preobrazhensky on Clause 9
of the Resolution "On the Political Situation", 6th. Congress RSDLP, in:
ibid.; p. 199, 200).
"The correct slogan at the present time can be only
complete liquidation of the dictatorship of the counter-revolutionary bourgeoisie.
Only the revolutionary proletariat, provided it is supported by the poorest
peasantry, is strong enough to carry out this task. . . .
The congress approved a resolution on the economic
situation, the main points of which were the confiscation of the landed
estates, the nationalisation of the land, the nationalisation of the banks
and large-scale industrial enterprises, and workers' control over production
The task of those revolutionary classes will then
be to strain every effort to take state power into their own hands and
direct it, in alliance with the revolutionary proletariat of the advanced
countries, towards peace and the Socialist reconstruction of society".
(Resolution on the Political Situation, 6th. Congress
RSDLP, cited in: V. I. Lenin: "Collected Works", Volume 21, Book 2; London;
n.d.; p. 304).
It also approved resolutions on the trade union
movement and on youth leagues, setting out the aim that the
Party should win the leading influence in all these bodies. It also endorsed
Lenin's decision not to appear for trial:
"Considering that the present methods of persecution
by the police and secret service and the activities of the public prosecutor
are re-establishing the practices of the Shcheglovitov regime, . . and
feeling that under such conditions there is absolutely no guarantee either
of the impartiality of the court procedure, or even of the elementary safety
of those summoned before the court".
The congress also adopted new Party Rules, based
on the principles of democratic centralism, and admitted the
Mezhrayontsi (the Inter-Regional Organisation) into the Party.
In this way Trotsky, as a member of the Inter-Regional Organisation, became
a member of the Bolshevik Party while himself in prison, less than three
months before the "October Revolution".
(Resolution on the Failure of Lenin to Appear in Court,
6th. Congress RSDLP, cited in: V. I. Lenin: ibid.; p. 312).
Finally, the congress issued a Manifesto to all
the workers, soldiers and peasants of Russia, which ended:
"Firmly, courageously and calmly, without giving in
to provocations, gather strength and form fighting columns! Under the banner
of the Party, proletarians and soldiers! Under our banner, oppressed of
As has been said, the 7th Conference of the
Party in May had resolved that the Party should not participate in the
"international socialist conference in Stockholm (scheduled originally
for May but postponed till the autumn) but should expose it as a manoeuvre
of the German social-chauvinists.
"Long live the revolutionary proletariat!"
"Long live the alliance of the workers and
Down with the counter-revolution and its 'Moscow Conference' !"
"Long live the workers' world revolution!"
"Long live Socialism!"
"Long Live the Russian Social-Democratic Labour
(Manifesto of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour
Party, Sixth Congress, cited in ibid.; p. 316-317).
The "Stockholm Conference"
On August 19th , however, Lev Kamenev
said in the Central Executive Committee of the Soviets:
"Now when our revolution has retreated to the second
line of trenches, it is fitting to support this conference. Now, when the
Stockholm Conference has become the banner of the struggle of the proletariat
against imperialism, . . we naturally must support it".
Lenin denounced Kamenev's statement with indignation:
L. Kamenev: Speech to CEC, August 19th., 1917, cited
in: V. I. Lenin: "Collected Works", Volume 21, Book 1; London; nd; p. 290).
"What right had Comrade Kamenev to forget that there
is a decision of the Central Committee of the Party against participating
at Stockholm? If this decision has not been abrogated by a congress or
by a new decision of the Central Committee, it is law for the Party. .
The following month, Lenin returned to his attack upon
the Stockholm Conference:
Not only had Kamenev no right to make this speech,
but . . he directly violated the decision of the Party; he spoke directly
against the Party. . . .
Kamenev . . did not mention that the Stockholm Conference
will include social-imperialists, that it is shameful for a revolutionary-Social-Democrat
to have anything to do with such people. . . .
To go to confer with social-imperialists, with Ministers,
with hangmen's sides in Russia -- this is a shame and a betrayal. . . .
Not a revolutionary banner, but a banner of deals,
compromises, forgiveness for social-imperialism, bankers' negotiations
concerning the division of annexations -- this is the banner which is really
beginning to wave over Stockholm. . . .
We have decided to build the Third International.
We must accomplish this in spite of all difficulties, Not a step backward
to deals with social-imperialists and renegades from Socialism.'"
(V. I. Lenin: "On Kamenev's Speech in the Central
Executive Committee concerning the Stockholm Conference", in: ibid.; p94;
"The Stockholm Conference . . failed. Its failure
was caused by the fact that the Anglo-French imperialists at present
are unwilling to conduct peace negotiations, while the German imperialists
are willing.. . .
In fact, the "Stockholm Conference" never took place,
owing to the refusal of the British and French Governments to allow their
social-chauvinists to attend.
The Stockholm Conference is known to have been called
and to be supported by persons who support their governments. .
The 'Novaya Zhizn' deceives the workers when it imbues
them with confidence ~ the social-chauvinists. . .
We, on the other hand, turn away from the comedy enacted
at Stockholm by the social-chauvinists and among the social-chauvinists,
in order to open the eyes of the masses, in order to express their
interests, to call them to revolution, . . for a struggle on the basis
of principles and for a complete brook with social-chauvinism. . . .
The Stockholm Conference, even if it takes place,
which is very unlikely, will be an attempt on the part of the German imperialists
to sound out the ground as to the feasibility of a certain exchange of
(V. I. Lenin: "On the Stockholm Conference", in: ibid;
p. 121, 123, 124, 125).
The Moscow State Conference
On the initiative of Aleksandr Kerensky, a "State
Conference" was held in the Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow, from August 25th
to 28th , 1917. The conference was dominated by representatives
of the landlords and bourgeoisie, including a number of prominent generals,
with a minority of Soviet representatives in the shape of Mensheviks and
Socialist Revolutionaries. The Petrograd Soviet and provincial Soviets
were not invited to send delegates.
The conference was opened by Kerensky, who declared
that the fundamental tasks of the Provisional Government were the continuation
of the war, the restoration of order in the army and the country, and the
organisation of a stable power.
The principal speech was made by General Lavr Kornilov,
Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, while General Aleksei Kaledin,
speaking in the name of the Don Cossacks, put forward the following
1) politics to be forbidden in the army;
Prior to the opening of the conference, Stalin
had characterised it as follows:
2) all Soviets and army committees to be abolished;
3) the Declaration of the Rights of the soldiers to
4) full authority to be restored to the officers.
"The counter-revolution needs a parliament of its
own, a centre of its own; and it is creating it.. . .
A resolution of the Central Committee of the RSDLP,
published on August 21st called on all Party organisations:
The conference to be convened in Moscow on August
25 will inevitably be transformed into an organ of counter-revolutionary
conspiracy against the workers, . . against the peasants, . . and against
the soldiers . .. into an organ of conspiracy camouflaged by the 'socialist
talk' of the Socialist-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks, who are supporting
(J. V. Stalin: "Against the Moscow Conference", in:
"Works", Volume 3; Moscow; 1953, p. 208, 209).
"First, to expose the conference convening
in Moscow as an organ of the conspiracy of the counterrevolutionary bourgeoisie
against the revolution; second, to expose the counter-revolutionary
policy of the S-R's, and Mensheviks who are supporting this conference;
third, to organise mass protests of workers, peasants and soldiers
against the conference".
The Moscow Trade Union Council, under Bolshevik leadership,
called a successful one-day general strike in the city in protest
at the convening of the conference.
On September 3rd , the Latvian capital Riga
was surrendered to the German armies.
(Resolution of CC of RSDLP on the Moscow Conference,
cited in V. I. Lenin: "Collected Works", Volume 21, Book 2; London; n.d.;
A powerful campaign was then launched in all the media
controlled by the counter-revolutionary capitalist class blaming the fall
of Riga on the demoralisation of the soldiers brought about by Bolshevik
propaganda and agitation.
The Bolsheviks replied that this was not the reason
for the fall of Riga, but that the city had been deliberately surrendered
to the German armies in order to provide a pretext for a counter-revolutionary
"After the Moscow Conference came the surrender of
Riga and the demand for repressive measures. . ..
On September 5th negotiations took place at
army headquarters at the front between Commander-in-Chief General Lavr
Kornilov and Boris Savinkoy, Deputy Minister of War in the Provisional
Government, at which, on Kerensky's instructions, Savinkov requested
Kornilov to despatch army units to Petrograd:
The counter-revolution needed a 'Bolshevik plot' in
order to clear the way for Kornilov. . . .
The counter-revolutionary higher army officers surrendered
. . Riga in August in order to exploit the 'defeats' at the front for the
purpose of achieving the 'complete' triumph of counter-revolution."
(J. V. Stalin: "We Demand!", in: "Works", Volume 3;
Moscow; 1953; p. 277, 278).
"On the instructions of the Prime Minister, I requested
you (Kornilov) to send the Cavalry Corps to ensure the establishment of
martial law in Petrograd and the suppression of any attempt at revolt".
On September 7th. General Kornilov ordered an army corps,
some Cossack detachments and the so-called 'savage Division' to move on
Petrograd. The orders given to the commander of this force, General Krymov,
were to occupy the city, disarm the units of the Petrograd garrison which
joined the Bolshevik movement, disarm the population of Petrograd and disperse
(B. Savinkov: Statement cited in J. V. Stalin: "The
Plot against the Revolution", in: ibid.; p. 367).
"Occupy the city, disarm the units of the Petrograd
garrison which joined the Bolshevik movement, disarm the population of
Petrograd and disperse the Soviets.. . . .
The aim of the military coup was to set up a dictatorial
government headed by Kornilov, with the participation of Aleksandr Kerensky
(as Vice-Chairman), Boris Savinkov, Generel Mikhail Alekseev, and Admiral
Aleksandr Kolchak. (Ibid.; p. 370)
On the execution of this mission General Krymov was
to send a brigade reinforced with artillery to Oranienbaum, which on its
arrival was to call upon the Kronstadt garrison to dismantle the fortress
and to cross to the mainland".
(L. Kornilov: Explanatory Memorandum, cited in: J.
V. Stalin: ibid.;p. 367).
As Stalin commented later:
" A compact was concluded (i.e., between the Provisional
Government and General Kornilov -- Ed.) to organise a conspiracy against
the Bolsheviks, that is, against the working class, against the revolutionary
army and the peasantry. It was a compact for conspiracy against the
On September 8th, "demand" was sent to Kerensky
in the name of Kornilov demanding that the former hand over dictatorial
powers to the General. On the same day the "Cadet" Ministers resigned
from the Provisional Government.
That is what we have been saying from the very first
day of the Kornilov revolt".
(J. V. Stalin: "Comments", in: ibid.; p. 350).
"The Kerensky Government not only knew of this diabolical
plan, but itself took part in elaborating it and, together with Kornilov,
was preparing to carry it out. . .
The 'Kornilov affair' was not a 'revolt'
against the Provisional Government, . . but a regular conspiracy against
the revolution, an organised and thoroughly planned conspiracy. . . .
Its organisers and instigators were the counter-revolutionary
elements among the generals, representatives of the Cadet Party, representatives
of the 'public men' in Moscow, the more 'initiated' members of the Provisional
Government, and -- last but not least! -- certain representatives of certain
embassies. . . .
Kornilov had the support of the Russian and the British
and French imperialist bourgeoisie".
(J. V. Stalin: 'The Plot against the Revolution",
in: ibid.; p. 367, 373, 379).
On the following day Kerensky -- compelled for political
reasons to keep his participation in the plot secret --issued an "appeal"
to the population for "resistance" to Kornilov, and appointed
Savinkov as Governor-General of Petrograd under a state of siege.
On September 10th , on the initiative of the Bolsheviks
a broad Committee for Struggle against Counter-Revolution was set
up in the capital. Detachments of armed workers ("Red Guards")
were formed for the defence of the city, and agitators (mostly Bolshevik
soldiers) were sent to meet the advancing troops. The work of these agitators,
in the existing circumstances, proved so successful that by September
12th, virtually all the rank-and-file soldiers had deserted
The political line put forward by Lenin in connection
with the Kornilov "revolt" was to organise active struggle against the
main enemy, the Kornilov forces, while on a campaign of exposure
of the Kerensky government:
"We will fight, we are fighting against Kornilov,
even as Kerensky's troops do, but we do not support Kerensky. On
the contrary, we expose his weakness. There is the difference. . .
On September l4th, General Krymov committed suicide, and,
on the initiative of Kerensky, a five-man government called a "Directory"
was set up as a new Provisional Government.
We are changing the form of our struggle against Kerensky.
. . We shall not overthrow Kerensky right now; we shall approach the task
of struggling against him in a different way, namely, we shall point
out to the people (which struggles against Kornilov) the weakness and
vacillation of Kerensky."
(V. I. Lenin "Letter to the Central Committee of the
Russian Social Democratic Labour Party, September 12th., 1917 in "Collected
Works", Volume 21, Book 1; London; n .d., p.
As Stalin commented:
"A Directory was the political form the Kornilov-Kerensky
'collective dictatorship' was to have been clothed in.
The Kornilov revolt, together with the completely successful
struggle led by the Bolsheviks against it, gave a great stimulus to
the development of the socialist revolutionary forces.
As a result of the collapse of the Kornilov "revolt",
the Provisional Government found itself for the moment virtually without
any state machinery of force at its disposal. In those circumstances Lenin
declared on September 4th , that for a short time -- perhaps
only for a few days-- the revolution could advance peacefully by the
formation (under the revived slogan of "All Power to the Soviets") of a
Menshevik and Socialist Revolutionary Soviet Government.
It should now be clear to everyone that in creating
a Directory after the failure of the Kornilov 'revolt' Kerensky was establishing
this same Kornilov dictatorship by other means".
(J. V. Stalin: 'The Plot against the Revolution",
in: ibid.; p. 370).
"There has now arrived such a sharp and original turn
in the Russian revolution that we, as a party, can offer
a voluntary compromise -- true, not to the bourgeoisie, our direct and
main class enemy, but to our nearest adversaries,
the 'ruling' petty-bourgeois democratic parties, the Socialist-Revolutionaries
and Mensheviks. . . . . .
With the defeat of the Kornilov "revolt", the political
situation changed rapidly, as has been said.
The compromise on our part is our return to the pre-July
demand of all power to the Soviets, a government of S-Rs and Mensheviks
responsible to the Soviets.
Now, and only now, perhaps only for a few days
or for a week or two, such a government could be created and established
in a perfectly peaceful way. In all probability it could secure a peaceful
forward march of the whole Russian Revolution,
and unusually good chances for big strides forward by the world movement
towards peace and towards the victory of Socialism.
Only for the sake of this peaceful development of
the revolution -- a possibility that is extremely rare in history
and extremely valuable . . -- can and must the Bolsheviks, partisans
of a world revolution, partisans of revolutionary methods, agree to such
a compromise, in my opinion.
The compromise would consist in this that the Bolsheviks
.. . would refrain from immediately advancing the demand for the passing,
of power to the proletariat and the poorest peasants, from revolutionary
methods of struggle for the realisation of this demand. The condition which
is self-evident . . would be full freedom of propaganda and the convocation
of the Constituent Assembly without any new procrastination."
(V. I. Lenin: "On Compromises". in: 'Collected Works',
Volume 21, Book 1; London; n.d.; p. l53-4). Two
days later, on September 16th Lenin concluded that the time
in which a peaceful development of the revolution might occur had probably
"Perhaps those few days during which a peaceful development
was still possible, have aalready passed. Yes, to all appearances
they have already passed.".
(V. I. Lenin; ibid.; p. 157).
The incident had exposed completely the counter-revolutionary
character of the Provisional Government and of the Menshevik and Socialist-Revolutionary
leaders. The masses of workers and peasants swung overwhelmingly behind
the Bolsheviks. A section of the Mensheviks (the so-called "Internationalists")
and a section of the Socialist-Revolutionaries (the so-called 'Left-Socialist-Revolutionaries")
departed the open counter-revolutionary leaders and forged a practical
bloc with the Bolsheviks.
The incident also brought a great revival to the
Soviets, and their bolshevisation. On September 13th the Petrograd
Soviet adopted a revolutionary resolution moved by the Moscow Soviet followed
suit on September 18th. In these circumstances, the Party revived the
slogan of "All Power to the Soviets!"
"'All Power to the Soviets!' - such is the slogan
of the new movement".
On September 22nd, the Mensheviks, Socialist-Revolutionary
Presidium of the Petrograd Soviet, headed by Nicholas
Chkheidze, resigned, and on September 24th, Trotsky was
elected chairman of the Petrograd Soviet:
(J. V. Stalin "All Power to the Soviets!'" ; in: "Works",
Volume 2 Moscow; 1953; p. 320).
Trotsky's "Proportional Representation'
In his presidential address to the Petrograd
Soviet on September 24th, Trotsky said:
"We shall conduct the work of the Petrograd Soviet
in a spirit of lawfulness and of full freedom for all parties. The hand
of the Presidium will never lend itself to the suppression of a minority".
(L. Trotsky: Presidential Address to Petrograd Soviet,
September 24th , 1917, cited in: I. Deutscher: "The Prophet
Armed: Trotsky: 1879-1921"; London; 1970; p. 287).
Thus, in the name of "protecting the rights of the minorities"
under 'proportional representation', on the initiative of Trotsky the
Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries, now in a minority in the Soviet,
were voted back on to the Presidium,
"Despite Lenin's objections, all parties were represented
in the new Presidium of the Soviet in proportion to their strength."
Lenin denounced with indignation:
(I. Deutscher: ibid.; p. 287).
"such glaring errors of the Bolsheviks as giving seats
to the Mensheviks in the Presidium of the Soviets, etc."
(V. I. Lenin "The Crisis Has Matured", in 'Collected
Works", Volume 21, Book 1; London; n.d. ; p. 278) .
Lenin Calls for Insurrection
At the end of September Lenin wrote to the Central
Committee, the Petrograd Committee and the Moscow Committee of the Party
demanding the immediate preparation of a revolutionary insurrection:
"Having obtained a majority in the Soviets of Workers'
and Soldiers' Deputies of both capitals, the Bolsheviks can and must take
power into their hands. . . .
A day or so later Lenin followed the above letter with
a further letter to the Central Committee:
The two letters of Lenin discussed in the last section
were debated at a meeting of the Central Committee of the Party on October
The majority of the people is with us. . ..
Why must the Bolsheviks assume power right now?
Because the impending surrender of Petrograd will
make our chances a hundred times worse. . .
What we are concerned with is not the 'day' of the
uprising.. . .
What matters is that we must make the task
clear to the Party, place on the order of the day the armed uprising
in Petrograd and Moscow (including their regions) . . .
No apparatus? There is an apparatus: the Soviets and
democratic organisations. . . It is precisely now that to offer peace to
the people means to win.
Assume power at once in Moscow and in Petrograd. .
we will win absolutely and unquestionably".
(V. I. Lenin: "The Bolsheviks Must Assume Power",
in: "Collected Works", Volume 21, Book 1; London; n.d.; p. 221, 222, 223).
The Committee took a hesitant attitude towards
Lenin's demand that an insurrection be placed on the immediate order of
the day. Stalin's motion that the letters should be sent to the
most important organisations for discussion by them was held over
until the next meeting. Kamenev's motion that:
"The Central Committee, having considered the letters
of Lenin, rejects the practical propositions contained in them",
Was, however, rejected.
(Minutes of CC, RSDLP, September 28th., 1917, cited
in V. I. Lenin: "Collected Works", Volume 21, Book 1; London; n.d.; p.
The Question of the Zimmerwald
The Seventh Conference of the RSDLP, in May 1917, had
decided in favour of the representation of the Party at the Third Zimmerwald
Conference in Stockholm planned for the end of May but postponed until
In September Lenin pressed the view that the decision
to continue further participation in "rotten Zimmerwald" had been
a mistake and urged that the Party's delegation should not take
part in the conference but should call a conference of the left Zimmerwaldists,
without the Centrists:
From September 27th to October 5th
, 1917 the Provisional Government convoked a "Democratic_Conference"
in the Aleksandrinsky Theatre, Petrograd. Its aim was to try to provide
a basis of support for the government in the new situation following
the defeat of the Kornilov "revolt".
It was, of course, completely unrepresentative.
As Lenin pointed out:
"The Democratic Conference does not represent
the majority of the revolutionary people, but only the conciliatory
petty-bourgeois top layer".
The Bolsheviks were represented at the conference,
and on October lst, submitted a long declaration calling for the formation
of a revolutionary Soviet government with the following programme:
(V. I. Lenin: "The Bolsheviks Must Assume Power",
in: "Collected Works", Volume 21, Book 1; London; n.d.; p. 221).
"l. The abolition of private property in landowners'
land without compensation and its transfer to the management of peasant
committees. .. .
2. The introduction of workers' control over both
production and distribution on a state-wide scale, the centralisation of
banking, control over the banks and the nationalisation of the most important
industries, such as oil, coal, and metals; universal labour duty; immediate
measures to demobilise industry; and organisation of supplying the village
with industrial products at fixed prices. The merciless taxation of large
capital accumulations and properties and the confiscation of war profits
for the purpose of saving the country from economic ruin.
and demanding the following immediate measures:
3. Declaring secret agreements to be void, and the
immediate offer of a universal democratic peace to all the peoples of the
4. Safeguarding the rights of all nationalities inhabiting
Russia to self-determination. The immediate abolition of all repressive
measures against Finland and the Ukraine".
(Declaration of Bolshevik Fraction at Democratic Conference,
cited in V. I. Lenin "Collected Works";, Volume 21, Book 2;London; n.d.;
"l. Stopping all repressions directed against the
working class and its organisations. Abolition of capital punishment at
the front and the re-establishment of full freedom of agitation and of
all democratic organisations within the army. Cleansing the army of counter-revolutionary
After repeated inconclusive votes, the conference declared
in favour of a coalition government but without participation of
the Cadets. Kerensky, however, declined to abide by the decision
of the conference he had himself organised, and on October 8th,
formed a new coalition government which included several individual
members of the Cadet Party.
2. Commissars and other officials to be elected by
3. General arming of the workers and the organisation
of a Red Guard.
4. Dissolution of the State Council and the State Duma.
The immediate convening of the Constituent Assembly.
5. Abolition of all the privileges of the estates (of
the nobility, etc.), complete equalty of rights for all citizens.
6. Introduction of the eight-hour day and of a comprehensive
system of social insurance."
(Ibid; p. 322).
The most important act of the conference was to set
up a "Provisional Council of the Republic", known as the "Pre-Parliament",
by which the capitalist class aimed to divert the less politically developed
workers and poor peasants from the path of revolution
to the path of parliamentary democracy". The Pre-parliament was
intended to substitute itself for the Soviets.
In an article published on October 7th., two days after
the conference ended, Lenin summed it up as follows:
Already by the last day of the "Democratic Conference",
October 5th , Lenin had become convinced that, in view
of the development of the revolution, it had been a mistake for
the Bolsheviks to participate in this "hideous fraud":
"The more one reflects on the meaning of the so-called
Democratic Conference, . . the more firmly convinced one becomes that our
Party has committed a mistake by participating in it. . . .
On this basis, Lenin proceeded to fight for a policy
of boycotting the new fraud, the Pre-parliament:
A new revolution is obviously growing in the country,
a revolution . . of the proletariat and the majority of the peasants, the
poorest peasantry, against the bourgeoisie, against its ally, Anglo-French
finance capital, against its governmental apparatus headed by the Bonapartist
We should have boycotted the Democratic Conference;
we all erred by not doing so."
(V. I. Lenin: "From a Publicist's Diary", in: "Collected
Works", Volume 21, Book 1;. London; n.d. p. 249, 253).
"This pre-parliament . . is in substance a Bonapartist
fraud. . . .
However, before Lenin's letter had been received, on October
3rd the Central Committee of the Party had convened a meeting
of the Central Committee extended to include members of the Petrograd Committee
and the Bolshevik delegates to the Democratic Conference. Stalin
and Trotsky reported in favour of boycotting the Pre-parliament,
while Lev Kamenev and Viktor Nogin reported in favour of participation,
and were supported by David Riazanov and Aleksei Rykov. The
conference adopted a resolution in favour of participation by 77
votes to 50.
The tactics of participating in the pre-parliament.,
are incorrect. They do not correspond to the objective interrelation
of classes, to the objective conditions of the moment..
We must boycott the pre-parliament. We must leave
it and go to the Soviets of Workers', Soldiers' and Peasants' Deputies,
to the trade unions, to the masses in general . . .We must give them
a correct and clear slogan to disperse the Bonapartist gang of Kerensky
with his forged pre-parliament."
(V.I.Lenin ibid.; p. 252 253).
On October 6th , Lenin demanded a reversal
of this decision:
"Trotsky was for the boycott. Bravo, Comrade Trotsky!
The Central Committee of the Party did, in fact, convene
a Party Congress for October 30th., 1917. In his theses intended for
this congress, Lenin wrote:
Boycottism was defeated in the fraction of the Bolsheviks
who came to the Democratic Conference.
Long live the boycott!
We cannot and must not reconcile ourselves to participation
under any condition.
We must at all costs strive to have the boycott question
solved in the plenum of the Central Committee and at an extraordinary party
There is not the slightest doubt that in the 'top'
of our Party we note vacillations that may become ruinous, because the
struggle is developing."
(V. I. Lenin: ibid.; p. 254).
"The participation of our Party in the 'preparliament'
. . is an obvious error and a deviation from the proletarian-revolutionary
road. . . .
However, the convocation of the congress proved unnecessary,
and was cancelled by the Central Committee. On October 18th
, the Central Committee adopted a resolution to boycott the pre-parliament,
against only one dissentient vote. The dissentient, Lev Kamenev,
asked that a statement by him be attached to the minutes of the meeting:
When the revolution is thus rising, to go to a make-believe
parliament, concocted to deceive the people, means to facilitate this deception,
to make the cause of preparing the revolution more difficult. .
The Party congress, therefore, must recall, the members
of our Party from the pre-parliament, declare a boycott against it"'.
(V. I. Lenin: 'Theses . . for a Resolution and Instructions
to Those Elected to the Party Congress", in: 'Collected Works", Volume
21, Book 2; London; nd.; p. 61).
"I think that your decision to withdraw from the very
first session of the 'Soviet of the Russian Republic' predetermines the
tactics of the Party during the next period in a direction which I personally
consider quite dangerous for the Party".
On the opening day of the Pre-parliament, October 20th.,
Trotsky read a declaration on behalf of the Bolsheviks:
(L. Kamenev: Statement to CC, RSDLP, October 18th.,
1917, cited in: V. I. Lenin: in: "Collected Works"; Volume 21; Book 1;
London; n.d.; p. 302).
"We, the fraction of Social-Democrats-Bolsheviks,
declare: with this government of traitors to the people and with this council
of counter-revolutionary connivance we have-nothing in common. We do not
wish to cover up, directly or indirectly, not even for a single day, that
work which is being carried out behind the official screen and which is
fatal to the people. . .
In withdrawing from the Provisional Council we appeal
to the vigilance and courage of the workers, soldiers and peasants of all
Two days after the Bolsheviks walked out of the Pre-parliament,
there took place, on October 23rd, the famous session of
the Central Committee of the Russian Social-Democratic Party at which the
decision to launch the insurrection was taken.
We appeal to the people.
All power to the Soviets!
All the land to the people!
Long live the immediate, honourable, democratic peace!
Long live the Constituent Assembly! "
(Declaration of the Bolshevik Fraction Read in the
Pre-parliament, October 20th 1917, cited in: V. I. Lenin: "Collected
Works", Volume 21, Book 2; London n.d.; p. 324).
The Bolsheviks then walked out of the Pre-parliament.
The Central Committee Meeting
of October 23rd.
Twelve of the twenty-one members of the CC were present,
including Lenin disguised in wig and spectacles.
The minutes of the meeting recorded the main points
only of Lenin's statement:
"Lenin states that since the beginning of September
a certain indifference towards the question has been noted. He says that
this is inadmissible, if we earnestly raise the slogan of seizure of power
by the Soviets. It is, therefore, high time to turn attention to the technical
side of the question. Much time has obviously been lost.
Lenin then moved a resolution which ended:
Nevertheless, the question is very urgent and the
decisive moment is near. . . .
The absenteeism and the indifference of the masses
can be explained by the fact that the masses are tired of words and resolutions.
The majority is now with us. Politically, the situation
has become entirely ripe for the transfer of power."
(Minutes of the Central Committee of the RSDLP, October
23, 1917, cited in: V. I. Lenin: "Collected Works", Volume 21, B k 2; London;
n.d.; p. 106).
"Recognising thus that an armed uprising is inevitable
and the time perfectly ripe, the Central Committee proposes to all the
organisations of the Party to act accordingly and to discuss and decide
from this point of view all the practical questions".
The resolution was carried by ten votes to two -- the
dissentients being Grigori Zinoviev and Lev Kamenev.
(Resolution of Central Committee, RSDLP, October 23rd
1917, cited in: ibid; p; 107).
The Campaign of Kamenev and
Zinoviev_against the Central Committee's Decision on the Insurrection
On October 24th, Lev Kamenev and Grigori
Zinoviev sent a joint memorandum to the principal organisations of
the Party attacking the Central Committee's decision of the previous
day to launch an insurrection:
"The Congress of Soviets has been called for November
2. . . It must become the centre of the consolidation around the Soviets
of all proletarian and demi-proletarian organisations. . . As yet there
is no firm organisational connection between these organisations and the
Soviets. . . But such a connection is in any case a preliminary condition
for the actual carrying out of the slogan "All power to the Soviets?. .
A few days later the statement was distributed in leaflet
form in Petrograd.
Under these conditions it would be a serious historical
untruth to formulate the question of the transfer of power into the hands
of the proletarian party in the terms: either now or never.
No. The party of the proletariat will grow.. . . And
there is only one way in which the proletarian party can interrupt its
successes, and that is if under present conditions it takes upon itself
to initiate an uprising and thus expose the proletarians to the blows of
the entire consolidated counter-revolution, supported by the petty-bourgeois
Against this pernicious policy we raise our voices
(G. Zinoviev & L. Kamenev Statement to Party Organisations
October 24th, 1917, cited in V. I. Lenin: "Collected Works", Volume 21,
Book 2; London; nd.; p. 332).
Trotsky's "Soviet Constitutionalism"
Trotsky's opposition to Lenin's call to insurrection
was more subtle than that of Kamenev and Zinoviev.
Whereas the latter openly opposed Lenin's demands for
immediate preparations for insurrection, Trotsky supported these demands
in words. He insisted however, in the name of "Soviet constitutionalism"
that the actual call to insurrection should be issued not
by the Petrograd Soviet, and certainly not by the Party, but
by the Second All-Russian Congress of Soviets.
As Trotsky's sympathetic biographer Isaac Deutscher
"Trotsky was approaching the problem from his new
point of vantage as President of the Petrograd Soviet. He agreed with Lenin
on the chances and the urgency of insurrection. But he disagreed with him
over method, especially over the idea that the party should stage the insurrection
in its own name and on its own responsibility. He took less seriously than
Lenin the threat of an immediate counter-revolution. Unlike Lenin, he was
confident that the pressure of the Bolshevik majority in the Soviets would
not allow the old Central Executive to delay much longer the All-Russian
Congress. . . . . .
In this connection, it must be remembered that the First
Congress of Soviets had instructed the C.E.C. to summon a new congress
"within three months", i.e. not later than September. The C.E.C however,
justifiably fearing that the Bolsheviks would have a majority at the congress,
violated this instruction. Only under the extreme pressure of the Bolsheviks
at the time of the Democratic Conference did the C.E.C. reluctantly agree
to convoke the congress for November 2nd . On October 31st,
however, it postponed the congress to November 7th.
Lenin . . refused to let insurrection wait until the
Congress convened, because he was convinced that the Menshevik Executive
would delay the Congress to the Greek Calends, and that the insurrection
would never take place as it would be forestalled by a successful counter-revolution..
The difference between Lenin and Trotsky centred on
whether the rising itself ought to be conceived in terms of Soviet constitutionalism.
The tactical risk inherent in Trotsky's attitude was that it imposed certain
delays upon the whole plan of action...
Lenin . . viewed Trotsky's attitude in the matter
of insurrection with uneasiness, and even suspicion. He wondered whether,
by insisting that the rising should be linked with the Congress of the
Soviets, Trotsky was not biding his time and delaying action until it would
be too late. If this had been the case, then Trotsky would have been, from
Lenin's viewpoint, an even more dangerous opponent than Kamenev and Zinoviev,
whose attitude had at least the negative merit that it was unequivocal
and that it flatly contradicted the whole trend of Bolshevik policy. Trotsky's
attitude, on the contrary, seemed to follow from the party's policy and
therefore carried more conviction with the Bolsheviks; the Central Committee
was in fact inclined to adopt it. In his letters, Lenin therefore sometimes
controverted Trotsky's view almost as strongly as Zinoviev's and Kamencv's,
without, however, mentioning Trotsky by name. To wait for the rising until
the Congress of Soviets, he wrote, was just as treasonable as to wait for
Kerensky to convoke the Constituent Assembly, as Zinoviev and Kamenev wanted
(I. Deutscher: "The Prophet Armed Trotsky: 1879-1921";
London; 1970; pp. 290-29l, 294-95).
Lenin's objections to Trotsky's
line on this question were twofold:
it would mean dangerous delay in calling the insurrection;
since the calling of the Second Congress of Soviets was constitutionally
in the hands of the Central
Executive Committee (C.E.C) - elected at
the First Congress of Soviets in June and dominated by Mensheviks and SocialistRevolutionaries
-- it would mean permitting counterrevolutionaries, and not the revolutionary
vanguard Party, to "fix the date of the insurrection", or even to postpone
Lenin saw Trotsky's line as
either -- and he left the question open -- "absolute idiocy" or "complete
betrayal", and he attacked it continuously up to the moment of the insurrection
On October 10th
"The general political situation causes me great anxiety
. . The government has an army, and is preparing itself systematically.
On October 12th:
And what do we do? We only pass resolutions. We lose
time. We set 'dates' (November 2, the Soviet Congress - is it not ridiculous
to put it off so long? Is it not ridiculous to rely on that?"
(V. I. Lenin: Letter to I.T. Smilga, October 10th.,
1917; in: 'Collected Works', Volume 21, Book 1; London; n.d.; p. 265).
'Yes, the leaders of the Central Executive Committee
are pursuing tactics whose sole logic is the defence of the bourgeoisie
and the landowners. And there is not the slightest doubt that the Bolsheviks,
were they to allow themselves to be caught in the trap of constitutional
illusions, of 'faith' in the Congress of Soviets. . . . of waiting' for
the Congress of Soviets, etc. -- that such Bolsheviks would prove miserable
traitors to the proletarian cause. . . .
Only when Lenin took the extreme step of resigning
from the Central Committee in order to fight for his line in the lower
organs of the Party (on October l2th)
did a majority accept Lenin's line on this question:
The crisis has matured. The whole future of the Russian
Revolution is at stake. The whole honour of the Bolshevik Party is in question.
We must . . admit the truth, that in our Central Committee
and at the top of our Party there is a tendency in favour of awaiting the
Congress of Soviets, against the immediate seizure of power, against
an immediate uprising. We must overcome this tendency or opinion.
Otherwise the Bolsheviks would cover themselves
with shame forever; they would be reduced to nothing as a party.
For to miss such a moment and to 'await' the Congress
of Soviets is either absolute idiocy or complete betrayal..
To 'await' the Congress of Soviets is absolute idiocy,
for this means losing weeks, whereas weeks and even days now decide
everything. . .
To 'await' the Congress of Soviets is idiocy, for
the Congress will give nothing, it can give nothing!. . .
First vanquish Kerensky, then call the Congress.
The victory of the uprising is now secure for
the Bolsheviks . . if we do not 'await' the Soviet Congress. . . .
To refrain from seizing power at present, to 'wait',
to 'chatter' in the Central Committee, to confine ourselves . . to 'fighting
for the Congress' means to ruin the revolution."
(V. I. Lenin: 'The Crisis has Matured", in: ibid.;
p. 275, 276, 277, 278).
"I am compelled to tender my resignation from the
Central Committee which I hereby do, leaving myself the freedom of
propaganda in the lower ranks of the Party and at the Party Congress.
Although Lenin withdrew his resignation when the Central
Committee voted for a boycott of the Pre-parliament, Trotsky continued
to fight for his line and Lenin continued to fight against it:
For it is my deepest conviction that if we 'await'
the Congress of Soviets and let the present moment pass, we ruin the
(V. I. Lenin: ibid.; p. 278).
On October 16-20:
"Events indicate our task so clearly to us that hesitation
actually becomes a crime.. . . To 'wait' under such conditions is
On October 21st:
The Bolsheviks have no right to wait for the Congress
of Soviets; they must take power immediately.
To wait for the Congress of Soviets means to play
a childish game of formality, a shameful game of formality; it means
to betray the revolution."
(V. I. Lenin: Letter to the Central Committee, Moscow
Committee, Petrograd Committee, and the Bolshevik Members of the Petrograd
and Moscow Soviets, October 16-20, 1917; in: "Collected Works", Volume
21, Book 2; London; n.d.; p. 69).
"We must not wait for the All-Russian Congress of
Soviets, which the Central Executive Committee may postpone till November;
we must not tarry.. . .
On November 6th.; (i.e,
on the eve of the insurrection):
Near Petrograd and in Petrograd -- this is
where this uprising can and must be decided upon and carried out . . as
quickly as possible.. . ..
Delay means death."
(V. I. Lenin: Letter to Bolshevik Comrades Participating
in the Regional Congress of the Soviets of the Northern Region, October
21st., 1917,in: ibid.; p. 91).
"The situation is extremely critical. It is as clear
as can be that delaying the uprising now really means death.
Trotsky later felt it expedient to deny the charge that
he had sought to accommodate the insurrection to the Second Congress of
With all my power I wish to persuade the comrades
that now everything hangs on a hair, that on the order of the day are questions
that are not solved by conferences, by congresses (even by Congresses of
Soviets), but only . . by the struggle of armed masses.
The bourgeois onslaught of the Kornilovists, the removal
of Verkhovsky, show that we must not wait. We must at any price, this evening,
tonight, arrest the Minister, having disarmed (defeated if they offer resistance)
the military cadets, etc.
We must not wait! We may lose everything!. . .
History will not forgive delay by revolutionists who
could be victorious today (and will surely be victorious today!), while
they risk losing much tomorrow, they risk losing all.
If we seize power today, we seize it not against the
Soviets but for them.
It would be a disaster or formalism to wait for the
uncertain voting of November 7. The people have a right and a duty to decide
such questions not by voting but by force.. . . .
The government is tottering. We must deal it the
death blow at any cost.
To delay action is the same as death".
(V. I. Lenin: Letter to the Members of the Central
Committee, November 6th., 1917, in: ibid.; p. 144-145).
"We should search in vain among the minutes or among
any memoirs whatever, for any indication of a proposal of Trotsky to 'accommodate
the insurrection necessarily to the Second Congress of Soviets'.
Elsewhere in the same work, however, Trotsky makes his
own position at the time quite clear.
(L. Trotsky: "History of the Russian Revolution",
Volume 3; London; 1967; p. 332).
He reports his declaration 'In the name of the Petrograd
Soviet" on November 1st
"I declare in the name of the Soviet that no armed
actions have been settled upon by us.. . . .
The Petrograd Soviet is going to propose to the Congress
of Soviets that they seize the power."
(L. Trotsky: Speech to Petrograd Soviet, November
1st., 1917; cited in: L. Trotsky: ibid.; p. 102, 103).
"The Soviet was sufficiently powerful to announce
openly its programme of state revolution and even set the date".
Trotsky also reports his speech at an emergency session
of the Petrograd Soviet on November 6th., 1917 (the day before the insurrection
(L. Trotsky: ibid.; p. 103).
"An armed conflict today or tomorrow is not included
in our plan -- on the threshold of the All-Russian Congress of Soviets.
We think that the Congress will carry out our slogan with greater power
To which Trotsky replied:
(L. Trotsky: Speech in Petrograd Soviet, November
6th., 1917, cited in: L. Trotsky: ibid.; p. 331-2).
Stalin later referred to:
"the mistake made by the Petrograd Soviet in openly
fixing and announcing the date of the uprising. (November 7)."
(J.V. Stalin: "Trotskyism or Leninism? , in: "Works",
Volume 6; Moscow, 1953; p. 362).
"Where, and when, and from which side, did the Soviet
publish abroad the date of the insurrection?"
and answers himself:
(L. Trotsky: ibid.; p. 333).
"It was not the insurrection, but the opening of the
Congress of Soviets, which was publicly and in advance set for the 7th.
. . 'It flowed from the logic of things', we wrote subsequently, 'that
we appointed the insurrection for November 7th.' .. . .
Thus Trotsky, here was admitting
the justice of Lenin's comment:
On the second anniversary of the revolution the author
of this book, referring, in the sense just explained, to the fact that:
'the October insurrection was, so to speak, appointed
in advance for a definite date, for November 7th., and was accomplished
upon exactly that date', added:
"We should seek in vain in history for another example
of an insurrection which was accommodated in advance by the course of things
to a definite date".
(L. Trotsky: ibid.; p. 333-34).
"To 'call' the Congress of Soviets for November 2,
in order to decide upon the seizure of power -- is there any difference
between this and a foolishly "appointed" uprising?"
According to Trotsky, Lenin's original plan for the insurrection
(to which he adhered up to November 6th.) was that it should be called
"'in the name of the Party", and endorsed by the Congress of Soviets when
(V. I. Lenin: "The Crisis has Matured", in: 'Collected
Works", Volume 21, Book l, London; n.d.; p. 277).
Lenin's plan, he says,
"presupposed that the preparation and completion of
the revolution were to be carried out through party channels and in the
name of the party, and afterwards the seal of sanction was to be placed
on the victory by the Congress of Soviets."
And Trotsky complains, for example, of the resolution
drafted by Lenin which was also approved by the Central Committee
at its meeting on October 23rd :
(L. Trotsky: "Lessons of October"; London; 1971; p.
"In the first weeks he (i.e. Lenin -- Ed.) was decidedly
in favour of the independent initiative of the Party".
(L. Trotsky: "History of the Russian Revolution";,
Volume 3; London; 1967; p.265-6).
"The task of insurrection he presented directly as
the task of the party. The difficult task of bringing its preparation into
accord with the Soviets is as yet not touched upon. The All-Russian Congress
of Soviets does not get a word".
Trotsky "kindly" attributes Lenin's "wrong estimates"
to his absence from Petrograd":
(L. Trotsky: ibid; p. l43).
"Lenin, who was not in Petrograd, could not appraise
the full significance of this fact (i.e., the invalidation by the Petrograd
Soviet of Kerensky's order transferring two-thirds of the garrison to the
front --Ed.) . . . .
In fact, Lenin's basic plan was that the insurrection
should be planned, timed and led by the Party, through either
the Petrograd or the Moscow Soviet -- both of which were now led by
the Party -- but not through the Second Congess of Soviets, the calling
of which was dependent upon the Central
Executive Committee led by Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries.
As Stalin comments:
Lenin's counsel . . flowed precisely from the fact
that in his underground refuge he had no opportunity to estimate the radical
(L. Trotsky: "Lessons of October" London; 1971; p.
"Lenin's isolation . . deprived him of the possibility
of making timely estimates of episodic factors and temporary changes..
If Lenin had been in Petrograd and had carried through
at the beginning of October his decision in favour of an immediate insurrection
without reference to the Congress of Soviets, he could undoubtedly have
given the carrying out of his own plan a political setting which would
have reduced its disadvantageous features to a minimum. But it is at least
equally probable that he would himself in that case have come round to
the plan actually carried out".
(L. Trotsky: "History of the Russian Revolution",
Volume 3; London; 1967; p. 327-8).
"According to Trotsky, it appears that Lenin's
view was that the Party should take power in October 'independently' of
and behind the back of the Soviet'.
Trotsky's myth goes on to say that the Central
Committee "rejected Lenin's plan for the insurrection" and "adopted Trotsky's
plan that the insurrection should be called by the Second Congress of Soviets.
Only on the evening of November 6th , according to Trotsky
was Lenin convinced of the "incorrectness" of his "conspiratorial plan";
Later in, criticising this nonsense, which he ascribes
to Lenin, Trotsky 'cuts capers' and finally delivers the following condescending
"That would have been a mistake".
Trotsky is here uttering a falsehood about Lenin,
he is misrepresenting Lenin's views on the role of the Soviets in the uprising.
A pile of documents can be cited showing that Lenin proposed that power
be taken through the Soviets, either the Petrograd or the Moscow
Soviets, and not behind the back of the Soviets.".
(J.V. Stalin: "Trotskyism or Leninism?", in: 'Works',
Volume 6; Moscow; 1953; p. 359-60).
"The Central Committee did not adopt this (i.e., Lenin's
-- Ed.) proposal the insurrection was led into Soviet channels".
As Stalin points out, however, the Central Committee
of the Party did not adapt Trotsky's plan that the insurrection
should be called by the Second Congress Of Soviets. In fact,
the insurrection had been carried through before the Congress met.
(L. Trotsky: 'Lessons October; London 1971; p. 45).
"When he (i.e., Lenin -- Ed ) arrived in Smolny (i.e.,
on the evening November 6th , the day before the insurrection
-- Ed.) . . I understood that only at that moment had he finally become
reconciled to the fact that we had refused the seizure of power by way
of a conspirative plan".
(L. Trotsky: "History of the Russian Revolution",
Volume 3; London,.1967; P. 345)
"Lenin proposed that power be taken before November
7th, for two reasons.
On October 29th., 1917 an extended session of the
Central Committee of the RSDLP was held, in which participated
representatives of the Petrograd Committee, the Petrograd Regional Committee,
the Military Organisation, the Bolshevik Fraction of the Petrograd Soviet,
trade unions and factory committees.
Firstly, because the counter-revolutionaries
might have surrendered Petrograd (i.e., to the German armies -- Ed ) at
any moment, which would have drained the blood of the developing uprising.
Secondly, because the mistake made by the Petrograd
Soviet in openly fixing and announcing the day of the uprising (November
7) could not be rectified in any other way than by actually launching the
uprising before the legal date set for it. The fact of the matter
is that Lenin regarded insurrection as an art, and he could not help knowing
that the enemy, informed about the date of the uprising (owing to the carelessness
of the Petrograd Soviet) would certainly try to prepare for that day.
Consequently, it was necessary to forestall the enemy,
i.e., without fail to launch the uprising before the legal date.
This is the chief explanation for the passion with which Lenin in his letters
scourged those who made a fetish of the date -- November 7. Events show
that Lenin was absolutely right. It is well known that the uprising was
launched prior to the All Russian Congress of Soviets. It is well known
that power was actually taken before the opening of the All-Russian Congress
of Soviets, and it was taken not by the Congress of Soviets, but by the
Petrograd Soviet, by the Revolutionary Military Committee. The Congress
of Soviets merely took over power from the Petrograd Soviet. That
is why Trotsky's lengthy arguments about the importance of Soviet legality
are quite beside the point".
(J. V. Stalin: ibid; p. 362).
The Extended Central Committee
Meeting of October 29th.
Lenin reported on the Central Committee meeting
of October 23rd, and read the resolution on insurrection
adapted by that meeting.
Representatives then reported on the situation existing,
in their particular sectors.
In the discussion on the present situation, the
resolution was strongly opposed by Lev Kamenev and Grigori Zinoviev.
"This resolution . . shows how not to
carry out an uprising: during this week nothing has been done.. . .
The results for the week indicate that there are no
factors favouring a rising. . We have no apparatus for an uprising; our
enemies have a much stronger apparatus, and it has probably further increased
during this week. . . In preparing for the Constituent Assembly we do not
at all embrace the road of parliamentarism. . . Two tactics are fighting
here: the tactic of conspiracy and the tactic of faith in the moving forces
of the Russian Revolution".
(L.Kamenev: Speech at Extended Meeting of CC, RSDLP,
October 29th., 1917; in: Minutes, cited in: V. I. Lenin:
"Collected Works", Volume 21, Book 2: London; n.d.; p.
"The Constituent Assembly will take place in an atmosphere
that is revolutionary to the highest degree. Meanwhile, we shall strengthen
our forces. The possibility is not eliminated that we, together with the
Left S-Rs, shall be in the majority there. ….We have no right to risk,
to stake everything on one card.. . . .
Stalin spoke strongly in favour of confirmation
of the Central Committee resolution of October 23rd., and this was finally
done by 19 votes against 2 -- the dissentients again being Kamenev
If the congress takes place on the 2nd,
we must propose that it should not disband until the constituent assembly
convenes. There must be a defensive, waiting tactic. . . It is necessary
to reconsider, if possible, the resolution of the CC. . We must
definitely tell ourselves that we do not plan an uprising
within the next five years".
(G. Zinoviev: Speech at Extended
Meeting of CC, RSDLP, October 29th., 1917, in Ibid; p. 36, 337).
The Central Committee then continued in session alone,
and set up a Military Centre of the Central Committee
consisting of Stalin, Sverdlov, Bubnov, Dzerzhinsky and Uritsky.
After the meeting had concluded, Kamenev sent
a letter to the Central Committee tendering his resignation from
From October 24-26th , 1917 the Congress of
Soviets of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies of the Northern Region took
place in Petrograd. Since the overwhelming majority of the delegates were
Bolsheviks and Left Socialist-Revolutionaries, the Central Executive Committee
of the Soviets -- still dominated by Mensheviks and Right Socialist-Revolutionaries
-- declared the congress unofficial, and the small Menshevik fraction declared
themselves present "for purposes of information only".
The congress declared itself in favour of the_immediate
transfer of power to the Soviets, the immediate transfer of land to the
peasants, an immediate offer of peace and the convening of the Constituent
Assembly at the appointed time.
On October 29-30th Lenin
- wrote a long, "Letter to Comrades" in which he refuted point by point
the arguments of Kamenev and Zinoviev against the immediate launching of
On October 31st, Kamenev, on behalf of
Zinoviev and himself, published a statement in the newspaper "Novaya Zhizn"
(New Life) in which he declared that they felt themselves obliged:
"To declare themselves against any attempt to take
the initiative of an armed uprising which would be doomed to defeat and
which would have the most dangerous effect on the party, the proletariat,
the fate of the revolution. To stake everything on the card of an uprising
within the next few days would be tantamount to making a step of desperation";
Lenin thundered immediately at the treachery of
the "strikebreakers of the Revolution":
(L. Kamenev: "L. Kamenev About the Uprising", in "Novaya
Zhizn", October 31st., 1917, cited in: V. I. Lenin: ibid.; p. 261).
"On the eve of the critical day . . two 'outstanding
Bolsheviks' attack an unpublished decision of the Party centre in the non-Party
press, in a paper which as far as this given problem is concerned goes
hand in hand with the bourgeoisie against the workers' party. .
On the following day he wrote to the Central Committee
of the Party:
I will fight with all my power both in the Central
Committee and at the congress to expel them both from the Party.
I cannot judge from afar how much damage was done
to the cause by the strike-breaking action in the non-Party press. Very
great practical damage has undoubtedly been caused. To remedy the situation,
it is first of all necessary to re-establish the unity of the Bolshevik
front by excluding the strike-breakers."
(V. I. Lenin: Letter to the Members of the Bolshevik
Party, October 31st., 1917, in: ibid.; p. 129-30, 131).
"A self-respecting Party cannot tolerate strike-breaking
and strike-breakers in its midst. This is obvious. The more we think about
Zinoviev's and Kamenev's appearance in the non-Party press, the more obvious
it becomes that their action has all the elements of strike-breaking in
The Central Committee Meeting of November
2nd. At its meeting on November 2nd., the Central Committee accepted
Kamenev's resignation from the CC. It adopted a resolution to
We cannot refute the gossipy lie of Zinoviev and Kamenev
without doing the cause still more harm. Therein lies
the boundless meanness, the absolute treacherousness of these two persons,
that in the face of the capitalists they have betrayed the strikers' plans.
For once we keep silent in the press, everybody will guess how things stand.
. . . .
There can be and must be only one answer to this:
an immediate decision of the Central Committee saying that:
'Recognising in Zinoviev's and Kamenev's appearance
in the non-Party press all the elements of strikebreaking, the Central
Committee expels both from the Party'. . . .
The more 'outstanding' the strike-breakers,
the more imperative it is to punish them immediately with expulsion."
(V. I. Lenin: Letter to the Central Committee of the
RSDLP, November 1st, 1917; in ibid. p. 133, 135, 136).
"that no member of the CC shall have the right to
speak against the adopted decisions of the CC",
and a more specific resolution imposing:
(Minutes of Meeting of CC, RSDLP, November 2nd., 1917,
cited in: V. I. Lenin: "Collected Works", Volume 21, Book 2; London; n.d.;
"Upon Kamenev and Zinoviev the obligation not to make
any statements against the decisions of the CC and the line of work laid
out by it".
On November 5th , the Military Revolutionary
Committee of the Petrograd Soviet appointed commissars for all the
military detachments under its command. On the same day the Peter and Paul
fortress, the last important obstacle to insurrection, declared for the
(Ibid.; p. 261).
In the early morning of November 6th, the
Provisional Government attempted to launch a counter-offensive against
the revolutionary forces by issuing orders for the arrest
of the members of the Revolutionary Military Committee and for the
suppression of the central organ of the Bolsheviks, "Rabochy Put"
By 10 a.m. detachments of Red Guards had placed a guard
on the printing plant and editorial offices of the newspaper, and at 11
a.m. the paper came out with a call for the immediate overthrow
of the Provisional Government.
In the late evening of November 6th , Lenin
arrived at the Smolny which, as the headquarters both of the Petrograd
Soviet and of the Bolshevik Party, had become the directing centre of the
insurrection. Throughout the night, revolutionary soldiers and workers
came to the Smolny and were armed with weapons supplied by the army units
from the city's arsenals.
From dawn on November 7th revolutionary troops and
Red Guards occupied the Petrograd railway stations, post offices, telegraph
offices, telephone exchanges, government offices and the state bank The
Pre-Parliament was dispersed. The cruiser "Aurora", controlled by revolutionary
sailors, trained its guns on the Winter Palace, the only territory remaining
to the Provisional Government.
During the day the Revolutionary Military Committee
issued a manifesto: " To the Citizens of Russia" drafted by Lenin:
"The Provisional Government has been overthrown.
The power of state has passed into the hands of the organ of the Petrograd
Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies, the Revolutionary Military Committee,
which stands at the head of the Petrograd Proletariat and garrison.
In one respect the manifesto was slightly premature, for
it was not until the evening of November 7th. that revolutionary workers,
soldiers and sailors took the Winter Palace by storm and arrested
those members of the Provisional Government who had not fled (Kerensky
had escaped earlier in the day by car, accompanied by a U.S. Embassy car
flying the Stars and Stripes).
The cause for which the people have fought - the immediate
proposal of a democratic peace, the abolition of landed proprietorship,
workers' control over production and the creation
of a Soviet government -- is assured.
Long live the revolution of the workers, soldiers,
(V. I. Lenin: "Manifesto of Revolutionary Military
Committee of the Petrograd Soviet, November 7th , 1917, in:
V. I. Lenin & J. V. Stalin: "'1917: Selected Writings and Speeches";
Moscow; 1938; p. 613).
At 11 p.m. on November 7th the Second
All-Russian Congress of Soviets opened in the Smolny.
As Stalin points out, Trotsky, as President of
the Petrograd Soviet and of its Revolutionary Military Committee, played
an important role in thc"October Revolution":
"I am far from denying Trotsky's undoubtedly important
role in the uprising.. . . .
In his myth about the "October Revolution", however, Trotsky
was concerned to understimate the leading role of the Party in
the revolution, to underestimate the role of Lenin (whose
tactics for the insurrection were, he alleges, incorrect), and to overestimate
the role of the Military Revolutionary Committee Of the Petrograd
Soviet and of himself as Chairman of that Committee.
It cannot be denied that Trotsky fought well in the
period of October . . But Trotsky was not the only one who fought well
in the period of October. Even people like the Left Socialist revolutionaries,
who then stood side by side with the Bolsheviks, also fought well".
(J. V. Stalin: "Trotskyism or Leninism?", in: "Works',
Volume 6; Moscow; 1933; p. 342, 344).
Thus, Trotsky quotes with obvious approval one of the
earlier editions of Lenin's "Collected Works", in which the editors say
in a note on Trotsky:
"After the Petrograd Soviet went Bolshevik he was
elected its President and in that capacity organised and led the insurrection
of November 7th".
The amendment of this estimation is, alleges Trotsky,
due to the fact that:
(Cited by: L. Trotsky "History
of the Russian Revolution", Volume 3; London; 1967; p. 344).
"The bureaucratic revision of history of the party
and the revolution is taking place under Stalin's direct supervision".
Stalin certainly denied the "special role" of Trotsky
in the "October Revolution" claimed by Trotsky and his supporters:
(L. Trotsky. Ibid.; p. 343).
"The Trotskyites are vigorously spreading rumours
that Trotsky inspired and was the sole leader of the October uprising.
. Trotsky himself, by consistently avoiding mention of the Party, the Central
Committee and the Petrograd Committee of the Party, by saying nothing about
the leading role of these organisations in the uprising and vigorously
pushing himself forward as the central figure
in the October uprising, voluntarily or involuntarily helps to spread the
rumours about the special role he is supposed to have played in the uprising.
Trotsky, in his reply, confirms Stalin's charge
that he is concerned to underestimate the leading role of the Party in
the insurrection. He admits that "the practical centre" of the Central
Committee was set up :
I must say, however, that Trotsky did not play any
special role in the October uprising, nor could he do so; being
chairman of the Petrograd Soviet, he merely carried out the will of the
approrpiate Party bodies, which directed every step that Trotsky took.
On October 29 (at a meeting of the Central Committee
of the Party -- Ed.) a practical centre was elected for the organisational
leadership of the uprising. Who was elected to this centre?
The following five: Sverdlov, Stalin, Dzerzhinzky,
The functions of this practica1 centre: to direct
all the practical organs of the uprising in conformity with the directives
of the Central Committee. Thus, as you see, something 'terrible' happened
at the meeting of the Central Committee, i.e , 'strange to relate' the
'inspirer', the 'chief figure', the 'sole 1eader' of the uprising, Trotsky,
was not elected to the practica1 centre, which was called upon to direct
the uprising. . . And yet, strictly speaking, there is nothing strange
about it, for neither in the party, nor in the October uprising, did Trotsky
play any special role, nor could he do so, for he was a relatively
new man in our Party in the period of October... He, like all the responsible
workers, merely carried out the will of the Central Committee and of its
organs. . . This talk about Trotsky's specia
role is a legend that is being spread by obliging
This of course, does not mean that the October uprising
did not have its inspirer. It did have its inspirer and leader, but his
was Lenin, and none other than Lenin, that same Lenin whose resolutions
the Central Committee adopted when deciding the question of the uprising,
that same Lenin who, in spite of what Trotsky says, was not prevented by
being in hiding from being the actual inspirer of the uprising.
. . .
What sort of a 'history' of
October is it that begins and ends with attempts to discredit the chief
leader of the October uprising, to discredit the Party, which organised
and carried out the uprising? Trotsky by his literary pronouncements is
making another (yet another!) attempt to create the conditions for substituting
Trotskyism for Leninism.".
(J. V. Stalin: 'Trotskyism or Leninism?", in: "Works,"
Volume 6; Moscow; 1953; p. 341-3, 363, 364).
"at Lenin's suggestion",
But he denies that it or any other party organ guided
the insurrection. The insurrection, he declares, was guided by the Revolutionary
Committee of the Petrograd Soviet, with Trotsky as its chairman, alone:
Lenin characterised the "October Revolution" as a proletarian-socialist
revolution in its main, political content -- since by it the working
class in alliance with, and leading, the peasantry seized political poor
from the capitalist class. But he characterised it as a bourgeois-democratic
revolution in its' economic content -- since it completed the
bourgeois-democratic revolutionary tasks which the "February Revolution"
did not carry out.
(L. Trotsky: 'History of the Russian Revolution;",
Volume 3; London; 1967 p. 339).
"The immediate and direct aim of the revolution in
Russia was a bourgeois-democratic aim, namely to destroy the relics of
medievalism and abolish them completely.. . . .
For the autumn of 1913, however, the continuing revolution
developed uninterruptedly into a proletarian-socialist revolution in
its economic content.
We brought the bourgeois-democratic revolution to
completion has done before.
We are progressing towards the socialist revolution,
consciously, deliberately and undeviatingly, knowing that no Chinese wall
separates it from the bourgeois-democratic revolution.. . . . .
But . . we solved the problems of the bourgeois-democratic
revolution in passing, as a "by-product" of the main and real proletarian-revolutionary
(V. I. Lenin: "The Fourth Anniversary of the October
Revolution", in: "Selected Works", Volume 6; London; 1946; p. 500; 501;
"The October Revolution overthrew the bourgeoisie and
transferred power to the proletariat but did not immediately lead to:
the completion of the bourgeois revolution, in general
and: the isolation of the kulaks in the countryside, in particular -
these were spread over a certain period of time but
this does not mean that our fundamental slogan at the second stage of the
revolution -- "together with the poor peasantry, against capitalism in town
and country, while neutralising the middle peasantry, for the power of
the proletariat" -
-- was wrong . . . .
The strategic slogans of the Party can be appraised
only from the point of view of a Marxist analysis of the class forces and
of the correct disposition of the revolutionary forces. . . . .
Is it possible for the overthrow of the power of the
bourgoisie and the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat
to be effected within the framework of the bourgeois revolution? . . .
How can it be asserted that the kulaks (who, of course,
are also peasants) could support the overthrow of the bourgoisie and the
transfer of power to the proletariat'? . .. . .
One of the main tasks of the October Revolution was
to complete the bourgeois revolution. . . .and since the October Revolution
did complete the bourgeois revolution it was bound to meet with the sympathy
of all the peasants . . But can it be asserted on these grounds that the
completion of the bourgeois revolution was not a derivative phenomenon
in the course of the October Revolution but its essence or its principal
aim? . . .
And if the main theme of a strategic slogan is the
question of the transfer of power from one class to another, is it not
clear from this that the question of the completion of the bourgeois revolution
by the proletarian power must not be confused with the question of overthrowing
the bourgeoisie and achieving this proletarian power, i.e., with the question
that is the main theme at the second stage of the revolution? .
In order to complete the bourgeois revolution it was
necessary in October:
first to overthrow the power of the bourgeoisie
and to set up the power of the proletariat, for only such a power is capable
of completing the bourgeois revolution. But in order to set up the power
of the proletariat in October it was essential to prepare and organise
for October the appropriate political army, an army capable of overthrowing
the bourgeoisie and of establishing the power of the proletariat,
and there is no need to prove that such a political army could
be prepared and organised by us only under the slogan:
Alliance of the proletariat with the poor peasantry
against the bourgeoisie, for the dictatorship of the proletariat".
(J. V. Stalin: "The Party's Three Fundamental Slogans
on the Peasant Question", in "Works"; Volume 9; Moscow; 1954; p. 2O8-O9;
"Until the organisation of the Committees of Poor
Peasants, i.e., down to the summer and even the autumn of 1918, our revolution
was to a large extent a bourgeois revolution . . . But from the moment
the Committees of Poor Peasants began to be organised, our revolution became
a proletarian revolution. . It was only when the October revolution
in the countryside began and was accomplished in the summer of 1913 that
we found our real proletarian base; it was only then that our revolution
became a proletarian revolution in fact, and not merely by virtue
of proclamations, promises and declarations."
(V. I. Lenin: Report of the
Central Committe of the Russian Communist (Bolsheviks) at the Eighth Party
Congress, in: "Selected Works", Volume 3; London; 1943; 10. 37, 33).
"In November 1917 we seized power together with
the peasantry as a whole. This was a bourgeois revolution in as much
as the class war in the rural districts had not yet developed."
(V. I. Lenin: "Work in the Rural Districts", in: ibid.;
From the foundation of the Russian Social-Democratic
Labour Party to November 1917, the efforts of the revisionists in Russia
were directed towards preventing the socialist revolution from taking
place, making use in the main of open political opposition,
couched in pseudo-Marxist phraseology, either to the revolution itself
or to the policies necessary to bring the revolution about. These efforts
of the revisionists, dealt with in this report, met with failure. The socialist
revolution took place in November 1917.
From the socialist revolution in November 1917 to the
summer of 1932, the efforts of the revisionists in Soviet Russia were directed
towards preventing the construction of socialism from being brought
about, making use in the main of open political opposition,
couched in pseudo-Marxist-Leninist phraseology, either to the construction
of socialism itself or to the policies necessary to bring about the construction
of socialism. These efforts of the revisionists, to be dealt with in a
later report, met with failure.
A socialist society was completely -- though not
completely securely for all time - constructed in the Soviet Union.
In the period from the summer of 1932 to the mid-1960s,
the efforts of the revisionists in the Soviet Union were directed towards
restoring a capitalist society, making use in the main of conspiratorial
methods of political opposition. These efforts of the revisionists,
to be dealt with in a later report, met with success. Today in the Soviet
Union the dictatorship of the working class has been liquidated and all
the essentials of a state capitalist economic system, based on profit as
the motive of production and on the exploitation of the Soviet working
class by the new class of state capitalists, have been brought into being.
The Soviet Union has become a neo--imperialist state,
pursuing essentially similar aims to those of the older imperialist states,
and the Communist Party of the Soviet Union has been transformed by its
revisionist leaders from the vanguard party of the Soviet working class
to a fascist-type political instrument of the Soviet neo- imperialists.
An analysis of the way in which the revisionists succeeded
in dominating, and bringing about the degeneration of, the international
communist movement is essential to the task of building a Marxist-Leninist
International free of all revisionist trends. The series of reports on
"The Origins of Revisionism", of which the preceding report forms one,
is an attempt to make such an analysis.