HotFreeBooks.com
From October to Brest-Litovsk
by Leon Trotzky
1  2  3     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

From October to Brest-Litovsk

By Leon Trotzky

Authorized Translation from the Russian

1919

TRANSLATOR'S NOTES:

1. In this book Trotzky (until near the end) uses the Russian Calendar in indicating dates, which, as the reader will recall, is 13 days behind the Gregorian Calendar, now introduced in Russia.

2. The abbreviation S. R. and S. R.'s is often used for "Social-Revolutionist(s)" or "Socialist-Revolutionaries."

3. "Maximalist" often appears instead of "bolshevik," and "minimalist" instead of "menshevik."



THE MIDDLE-CLASS INTELLECTUALS IN THE REVOLUTION

Events move so quickly at this time, that it is hard to set them down from memory even in chronological sequence. Neither newspapers nor documents are at our disposal. And vet the repeated interruptions in the Brest-Litovsk negotiations create a suspense which, under present circumstances, is no longer bearable. I shall endeavor, therefore, to recall the course and the landmarks of the October revolution, reserving the right to complete and correct this exposition subsequently in the light of documents.

What characterized our party almost from the very first period of the revolution, was the conviction that it would ultimately come into power through the logic of events. I do not refer to the theorists of the party, who, many years before the revolution—even before the revolution of 1905—as a result of their analysis of class relations in Russia, came to the conclusion that the triumphant development of the revolution must inevitably transfer the power to the proletariat, supported by the vast masses of the poorest peasants. The chief basis of this prognosis was the insignificance of the Russian bourgeois democracy and the concentrated character of Russian industrialism—which makes of the Russian proletariat a factor of tremendous social importance. The insignificance of bourgeois democracy is but the complement of the power and significance of the proletariat. It is true, the war has deceived many on this point, and, first of all, the leading groups of bourgeois democracy themselves. The war has assigned a decisive role in the events of the revolution to the army. The old army meant the peasantry. Had the revolution developed more normally—that is, under peaceful circumstances, as it had in 1912—the proletariat would always have held a dominant position, while the peasant masses would gradually have been taken in tow by the proletariat and drawn into the whirlpool of the revolution.

But the war produced an altogether different succession of events. The army welded the peasants together, not by a political, but by a military tie. Before the peasant masses could be drawn together by revolutionary demands and ideas, they were already organized in regimental staffs, divisions and army corps. The representatives of petty bourgeois democracy, scattered through this army and playing a leading role in it, both in a military and in a conceptual way, were almost completely permeated with middle-class revolutionary tendencies. The deep social discontent in the masses became more acute and was bound to manifest itself, particularly because of the military shipwreck of Czarism. The proletariat, as represented in its advanced ranks, began, as soon as the revolution developed, to revive the 1905 tradition and called upon the masses of the people to organize in the form of representative bodies—soviets, consisting of deputies. The army was called upon to send its representatives to the revolutionary organizations before its political conscience caught up in any way with the rapid course of the revolution. Whom could the soldiers send as deputies? Eventually, those representatives of the intellectuals and semi-intellectuals who chanced to be among them and who possessed the least bit of knowledge of political affairs and could make this knowledge articulate. In this way, the petty bourgeois intellectuals were at once and of necessity raised to great prominence in the awakening army. Doctors, engineers, lawyers, journalists and volunteers, who under pre-bellum conditions led a rather retired life and made no claim to any importance, suddenly found themselves representative of whole corps and armies and felt that they were "leaders" of the revolution. The nebulousness of their political ideology fully corresponded with the formlessness of the revolutionary consciousness of the masses. These elements were extremely condescending toward us "Sectarians," for we expressed the social demands of the workers and the peasants most pointedly and uncompromisingly.

At the same time, the petty bourgeois democracy, with the arrogance of revolutionary upstarts, harbored the deepest mistrust of itself and of the very masses who had raised it to such unexpected heights. Calling themselves Socialists, and considering themselves such, the intellectuals were filled with an ill-disguised respect for the political power of the liberal bourgeoisie, towards their knowledge and methods. To this was due the effort of the petty bourgeois leaders to secure, at any cost, a cooperation, union, or coalition with the liberal bourgeoisie. The programme of the Social-Revolutionists—created wholly out of nebulous humanitarian formulas, substituting sentimental generalizations and moralistic superstructures for a class-conscious attitude, proved to be the thing best adapted for a spiritual vestment of this type of leaders. Their efforts in one way or another to prop up their spiritual and political helplessness by the science and politics of the bourgeoisie which so overawed them, found its theoretical justification in the teachings of the Mensheviki, who explained that the present revolution was a bourgeois revolution, and therefore could not succeed without the participation of the bourgeoisie in the government. In this way, the natural bloc of Social-Revolutionists and Mensheviki was created, which gave simultaneous expression to the political lukewarmness of the middle-class intellectuals and its relation of vassal to imperialistic liberalism.

It was perfectly clear to us that the logic of the class struggle would, sooner or later, destroy this temporary combination and cast aside the leaders of the transition period. The hegemony of the petty bourgeois intellectuals meant, in reality, that the peasantry, which had suddenly been called, through the agency of the military machine, to an organized participation in political life, had, by mere weight of numbers, overshadowed the working class and temporarily dislodged it. More than this: To the extent that the middle-class leaders had suddenly been lifted to terrific heights by the mere bulk of the army, the proletariat itself, and its advanced minority, had been discounted, and could not but acquire a certain political respect for them and a desire to preserve a political bond with them; it might otherwise be in danger of losing contact with the peasantry. In the memories of the older generation of workingmen, the lesson of 1905 was firmly fixed; then, the proletariat was defeated just because the heavy peasant reserves did not arrive in time for the decisive battle. This is why in this first period of the revolution even the masses of workingmen proved so much more receptive to the political ideology of the Social-Revolutionists and the Mensheviki. All the more so, since the revolution had awakened the hitherto dormant and backward proletarian masses, thus making uninformed intellectual radicalism into a preparatory school for them.

The Soviets of Workingmen's, Soldiers' and Peasants' Deputies meant, under these circumstances, the domination of peasant formlessness over proletarian socialism, and the domination of intellectual radicalism over peasant formlessness. The soviet institution rose so rapidly, and to such prominence, largely because the intellectuals, with their technical knowledge and bourgeois connections, played a leading part in the work of the soviet. It was clear to us, however, that the whole inspiring structure was based upon the deepest inner contradictions, and that its downfall during the next phase of the revolution was quite inevitable.

The revolution grew directly out of the war, and the war became the great test for all parties and revolutionary forces. The intellectual leaders were "against the war." Many of them, under the Czarist regime, had considered themselves partisans of the left wing of the Internationale, and subscribed to the Zimmerwald resolution. But everything changed suddenly when they found themselves in responsible "posts." To adhere to the policy of Revolutionary Socialism meant, under those circumstances, to break with the bourgeoisie, their own and that of the Allies. And we have already said that the political helplessness of the intellectual and semi-intellectual middle class sought shelter for itself in a union with bourgeois liberalism. This caused the pitiful and truly shameful attitude of the middle-class leaders towards the war. They confined themselves to sighs, phrases, secret exhortations or appeals addressed to the Allied Governments, while they were actually following the same path as the liberal bourgeoisie. The masses of soldiers in the trenches could not, of course, reach the conclusion that the war, in which they had participated for nearly three years, had changed its character merely because certain new persons, who called themselves "Social-Revolutionists" or "Mensheviki," were taking part in the Petrograd Government. Milyukov displaced the bureaucrat Pokrovsky; Tereshtchenko displaced Milyukov—which means that bureaucratic treachery had been replaced first by militant Cadet imperialism, then by an unprincipled, nebulous and political subserviency; but it brought no objective changes, and indicated no way out of the terrible war.

Just in this lies the primary cause of the subsequent disorganization of the army. The agitators told the soldiers that the Czarist Government had sent them into slaughter without any rime or reason. But those who replaced the Czar could not in the least change the character of the war, just as they could not find their way clear for a peace campaign. The first months were spent in merely marking time. This tried the patience both of the army and of the Allied Governments, and prompted the drive of June 18, which was demanded by the Allies, who insisted upon the fulfillment of the old Czarist obligations. Scared by their own helplessness and by the growing impatience of the masses, the leaders of the middle class complied with this demand. They actually began to think that, in order to obtain peace, it was only necessary for the Russian army to make a drive. Such a drive seemed to offer a way out of the difficult situation, a real solution of the problem—salvation. It is hard to imagine a more amazing and more criminal delusion. They spoke of the drive in those days in the same terms that were used by the social-patriots of all countries in the first days and weeks of the war, when speaking of the necessity of supporting the cause of national defence, of strengthening the holy alliance of nations, etc., etc. All their Zimmerwald internationalistic infatuations had vanished as if by magic.

To us, who were in uncompromising opposition, it was clear that the drive was beset with terrible danger, threatening perhaps the ruin of the revolution itself. We sounded the warning that the army, which had been awakened and deeply stirred by the tumultuous events which it was still far from comprehending, could not be sent into battle without giving it new ideas which it could recognize as its own. We warned, accused, threatened. But as for the dominant party, tied up as it was with the Allied bourgeoisie, there was no other course; we were naturally threatened with enmity, with bitter hatred.



THE CAMPAIGN AGAINST THE BOLSHEVIKI

The future historian will look over the pages of the Russian newspapers for May and June with considerable emotion, for it was then that the agitation for the drive was being carried on. Almost every article, without exception, in all the governmental and official newspapers, was directed against the Bolsheviki. There was not an accusation, not a libel, that was not brought up against us in those days. The leading role in the campaign was played, of course, by the Cadet bourgeoisie, who were prompted by their class instincts to the knowledge that it was not only a question of a drive, but also of all the further developments of the revolution, and primarily of the fate of government control. The bourgeoisie's machinery of "public opinion" revealed itself here in all its power. All the organs, organizations, publications, tribunes and pulpits were pressed into the service of a single common idea: to make the Bolsheviki impossible as a political party. The concerted effort and the dramatic newspaper campaign against the Bolsheviki already foreshadowed the civil war which was to develop during the next stage of the revolution.

The purpose of the bitterness of this agitation and libel was to create a total estrangement and irrepressible enmity between the laboring masses, on the one hand, and the "educated elements" on the other. The liberal bourgeoisie understood that it could not subdue the masses without the aid and intercession of the middle-class democracy, which, as we have already pointed out, proved to be temporarily the leader of the revolutionary organizations. Therefore, the immediate object of the political baiting of the Bolsheviki was to raise irreconcilable enmity between our party and the vast masses of the "socialistic intellectuals," who, if they were alienated from the proletariat, could not but come under the sway of the liberal bourgeoisie.

During the first All-Russian Council of Soviets came the first alarming peal of thunder, foretelling the terrible events that were coming. The party designated the 10th of June as the day for an armed demonstration at Petrograd. Its immediate purpose was to influence the All-Russian Council of Soviets. "Take the power into your own hands"—is what the Petrograd workingman wanted to say plainly to the Social-Revolutionists and the Mensheviki. "Sever relations with the bourgeoisie, give up the idea of coalition, and take the power into your own hands." To us it was clear that the break between the Social-Revolutionists and the Mensheviki on the one hand, and the liberal bourgeoisie on the other, would compel the former to seek the support of the more determined, advanced organization of the proletariat, which would thus be assured of playing a leading role. And this is exactly what frightened the middle-class leaders. Together with the Government, in which they had their representatives, and hand in hand with the liberal and counter-revolutionary bourgeoisie, they began a furious and insane campaign against the proposed demonstration, as soon as they heard of it. All their forces were marshalled against us. We had an insignificant minority in the Council and withdrew. The demonstration did not take place.

But this frustrated demonstration left the deepest bitterness in the minds of the two opposing forces, widened the breach and intensified their hatred. At a secret conference of the Executive Committee of the Council, in which representatives of the minority participated, Tseretelli, then minister of the coalition government, with all the arrogance of a narrow-minded middle-class doctrinaire, said that the only danger threatening the revolution was the Bolsheviki and the Petrograd proletariat armed by them. From this he concluded that it was necessary to disarm the people, who "did not know how to handle fire-arms." This referred to the workingmen and to those parts of the Petrograd garrison who were with our party. However, the disarming did not take place. For such a sharp measure the political and psychological conditions were not yet quite ripe.

To afford the masses some compensation for the demonstration they had missed, the Council of Soviets called a general unarmed demonstration for the 18th of June. But it was just this very day that marked the political triumph of our party. The masses poured into the streets in mighty columns; and, despite the fact that they were called out by the official Soviet organization, to counteract our intended demonstration of the 10th of June, the workingmen and soldiers had inscribed on their banners and placards the slogans of our party: "Down with secret treaties," "Down with political drives," "Long live a just peace!" "Down with the ten capitalistic ministers," and "All power to the Soviets." Of placards expressing confidence in the coalition government there were but three one from a cossack regiment, another from the Plekhanov group, and the third from the Petrograd organization of the Bund, composed mostly of non-proletarian elements. This demonstration showed not only to our enemies, but also to ourselves as well that we were much stronger in Petrograd than was generally supposed.



THE DRIVE OF JUNE 18TH

A governmental crisis, as a result of the demonstration by these revolutionary bodies, appeared absolutely inevitable. But the impression produced by the demonstration was lost as soon as it was reported from the front that the revolutionary army had advanced to attack the enemy. On the very day that the workingmen and the Petrograd garrison demanded the publication of the secret treaties and an open offer of peace, Kerensky flung the revolutionary troops into battle. This was no mere coincidence, to be sure. The projectors had everything prepared in advance, and the time of attack was determined not by military but by political considerations.

On the 19th of June, there was a so-called patriotic demonstration in the streets of Petrograd. The Nevsky Prospect, the chief artery of the bourgeoisie, was studded with excited groups, in which army officers, journalists and well-dressed ladies were carrying on a bitter campaign against the Bolsheviki. The first reports of the military drive were favorable. The leading liberal papers considered that the principal aim had been attained, that the drive of June 18, regardless of its ultimate military results, would deal a mortal blow to the revolution, restore the army's former discipline, and assure the liberal bourgeoisie of a commanding position in the affairs of the government.

We, however, indicated to the bourgeoisie a different line of future events. In a special declaration which we made in the Soviet Council a few days before the drive, we declared that the military advance would inevitably destroy all the internal ties within the army, set up its various parts one against the other and turn the scales heavily in favor of the counter-revolutionary elements, since it would be impossible to maintain discipline in a demoralized army—an army devoid of controlling ideas—without recourse to severe repressive measures. In other words, we foretold in this declaration those results which later came to be known collectively under the name of "Kornilovism." We believed that the greatest danger threatened the revolution in either case—whether the drive proved successful, which we did not expect, or met with failure, which seemed to us almost inevitable. A successful military advance would have united the middle class and the bourgeoisie in their common chauvinistic tendencies, thus isolating the revolutionary proletariat. An unsuccessful drive was likely to demoralize the army completely, to involve a general retreat and the loss of much additional territory, and to bring disgust and disappointment to the people. Events took the latter course. The news of victory did not last long. It was soon replaced by gloomy reports of the refusal of many regiments to support the advancing columns, of the great losses in commanding officers, who sometimes composed the whole of the attacking units, etc. In view of its great historical significance, we append an extract from the document issued by our party in the All-Russian Council of Soviets on the 3rd of June, 1917, just two weeks before the drive.

* * * * *

"We deem it necessary to present, as the first order of the day, a question on whose solution depend not only all the other measures to be adopted by the Council, but actually and literally the fate of the whole Russian revolution the question of the military drive which is being planned for the immediate future.

"Having put the people and the army, which does not know in the name of what international ends it is called upon to shed its blood, face to face with the impending attack (with all its consequences), the counter-revolutionary circles of Russia are counting on the fact that this drive will necessitate a concentration of power in the hands of the military, diplomatic, and capitalistic groups affiliated with English, French and American imperialism, and thus free them from the necessity of reckoning later with the organized will of Russian democracy.

"The secret counter-revolutionary instigators of the drive, who do not stop short even of military adventurism, are consciously trying to play on the demoralization in the army, brought about by the internal and international situation of the country, and to this end are inspiring the discouraged elements with the fallacious idea that the very fact of a drive can rehabilitate the army—and by this mechanical means hide the lack of a definite program for liquidating the war. At the same time, it is clear that such an advance cannot but completely disorganize the army by setting up its various units one against the other."

* * * * *

The military events were developing amid ever increasing difficulties in the internal life of the nation. With regard to the land question, industrial life, and national relations, the coalition government did not take a single resolute step forward. The food and transportation situations were becoming more and more disorganized. Local clashes were growing more frequent. The "Socialistic" ministers were exhorting the masses to be patient. All decisions and measures, including the calling of the Constituent Assembly, were being postponed. The insolvency and the instability of the coalition regime were obvious.

There were two possible ways out: to drive the bourgeoisie out of power and promote the aims of the revolution, or to adopt the policy of "bridling" the people by resorting to repressive measures. Kerensky and Tseretelli clung to a middle course and only muddled matters the more. When the Cadets, the wiser and more far-sighted leaders of the coalition government, understood that the unsuccessful military advance of June 18th might deal a blow not only to the revolution, but also to the government temporarily, they threw the whole weight of responsibility upon their allies to the left.

On the 2nd of July came a crisis in the ministry, the immediate cause of which was the Ukrainian question.

This was in every respect a period of most intense political suspense. From various points at the front came delegates and private individuals, telling of the chaos which reigned in the army as a result of the advance. The so-called government press demanded severe repressions. Such demands frequently came from the so-called Socialistic papers, also Kerensky, more and more openly, went over to the side of the Cadets and the Cadet generals, who had manifested not only their hatred of revolution, but also their bitter enmity toward revolutionary parties in general. The allied ambassadors were pressing the government with the demand that army discipline be restored and the advance continued. The greatest panic prevailed in government circles, while among the workingmen much discontent had accumulated, which craved for outward expression. "Avail yourselves of the resignations of the Cadet ministers and take all the power into your own hands!" was the call addressed by the workingmen of Petrograd to the Socialist-Revolutionists and Mensheviki in control of the Soviet parties.

I recall the session of the Executive Committee which was held on the 2nd of July. The Soviet ministers came to report a new crisis in the government. We were intensely interested to learn what position they would take now that they had actually gone to pieces under the great ordeals arising from coalition policies. Their spokesman was Tseretelli. He nonchalantly explained to the Executive Committee that those concessions which he and Tereshchenko had made to the Kiev Rada did not by any means signify a dismemberment of the country, and that this, therefore, did not give the Cadets any good reason for leaving the Ministry. Tseretelli accused the Cadet leaders of practising a centralistic doctrinairism, of failing to understand the necessity for compromising with the Ukrainians, etc., etc. The total impression was pitiful in the extreme: the hopeless doctrinaire of the coalition government was hurling the charge of doctrinairism against the crafty capitalist politicians who seized upon the first suitable excuse for compelling their political clerks to repent of the decisive turn they had given to the course of events by the military advance of June 18th.

After all the preceding experience of the coalition, there would seem to be but one way out of the difficulty—to break with the Cadets and set up a Soviet government. The relative forces within the Soviets were such at the time that the Soviet's power as a political party would fall naturally into the hands of the Social-Revolutionists and the Mensheviki. We deliberately faced the situation. Thanks to the possibility of reelections at any time, the mechanism of the Soviets assured a sufficiently exact reflection of the progressive shift toward the left in the masses of workers and soldiers. After the break of the coalition with the bourgeoisie, the radical tendencies should, we expected, receive a greater following in the Soviet organizations. Under such circumstances, the proletariat's struggle for power would naturally move in the channel of Soviet organizations and could take a more normal course. Having broken with the bourgeoisie, the middle-class democracy would itself fall under their ban and would be compelled to seek a closer union with the Socialistic proletariat. In this way the indecisiveness and political indefiniteness of the middle-class democratic elements would be overcome sooner or later by the working masses, with the help of our criticism. This is the reason why we demanded that the leading Soviet parties, in which we had no real confidence (and we frankly said so), should take the governing power into their own hands.

But even after the ministerial crisis of the 2nd of July, Tseretelli and his adherents did not abandon the coalition idea. They explained in the Executive Committee that the leading Cadets were, indeed, demoralized by doctrinairism and even by counter-revolutionism, but that in the provinces there were still many bourgeois elements which could still go hand in hand with the revolutionary democrats, and that in order to make sure of their co-operation it was necessary to attract representatives of the bourgeoisie into the membership of the new ministry. Dan already entertained hopes of a radical-democratic party to be hastily built up, at the time, by a few pro-democratic politicians. The report that the coalition government had been broken up, only to be replaced by a new coalition, spread rapidly through Petrograd and provoked a storm of indignation among the workingmen and soldiers everywhere. Thus the events of July 3rd-5th were produced.



THE JULY DAYS

Already during the session of the Executive Committee we were informed by telephone that a regiment of machine-gunners was making ready for attack. By telephone, too, we adopted measures to check these preparations, but the ferment was working among the people. Representatives of military units that had been disciplined for insubordination brought alarming news from the front, of repressions which aroused the garrison. Among the Petrograd workingmen the displeasure with the official leaders was intensified also by the fact that Tseretelli, Dan and Cheidze misrepresented the general views of the proletariat in their endeavor to prevent the Petrograd Soviet from becoming the mouthpiece of the new tendencies of the toilers. The All-Russian Executive Committee, formed in the July Council and depending upon the more backward provinces, put the Petrograd Soviet more and more into the background and took all matters into its own hands, including even local Petrograd affairs.

A clash was inevitable. The workers and soldiers pressed from below, vehemently voiced their discontent with the official Soviet policies and demanded greater resolution from our party. We considered that, in view of the backwardness of the provinces, the time for such a course had not yet arrived. At the same time, we feared that the events taking place at the front might bring extreme chaos into the revolutionary ranks, and desperation to the hearts of the people. The attitude of our party toward the movement of July 3rd-5th was quite well defined. On the one hand, there was the danger that Petrograd might break away from the more backward parts of the country; while on the other, there was the feeling that only the active and energetic intervention of Petrograd could save the day. The party agitators who worked among the people were working in harmony with the masses, conducting an uncompromising campaign.

There was still some hope that the demonstration of the revolutionary masses in the streets might destroy the blind doctrinairism of the coalitionists and make them understand that they could retain their power only by breaking openly with the bourgeoisie. Despite all that had recently been said and written in the bourgeois press, our party had no intention whatever of seizing power by means of an armed revolt. In point of fact, the revolutionary demonstration started spontaneously, and was guided by us only in a political way.

The Central Executive Committee was holding its session in the Taurida Palace, when turbulent crowds of armed soldiers and workmen surrounded it from all sides. Among them was, of course, an insignificant number of anarchistic elements, which were ready to use their arms against the Soviet center. There were also some "pogrom" elements, black-hundred elements, and obviously mercenary elements, seeking to utilize the occasion for instigating pogroms and chaos. From among the sundry elements came the demands for the arrest of Chernoff and Tseretelli, for the dispersal of the Executive Committee, etc. An attempt was even made to arrest Chernoff. Subsequently, at Kresty, I identified one of the sailors who had participated in this attempt; he was a criminal, imprisoned at Kresty for robbery. But the bourgeois and the coalitionist press represented this movement as a pogromist, counter-revolutionary affair, and, at the same time, as a Bolshevist crusade, the immediate object of which was to seize the reins of Government by the use of armed force against the Central Executive Committee.

The movement of July 3rd-5th had already disclosed with perfect clearness that a complete impotence reigned within the ruling Soviet parties at Petrograd. The garrison was far from being all on our side. There were still some wavering, undecided, passive elements. But if we should ignore the junkers, there were no regiments at all which were ready to fight us in the defense of the Government or the leading Soviet parties. It was necessary to summon troops from the front. The entire strategy of Tseretelli, Chernoff, and others on the 3rd of July resolved itself into this: to gain time in order to give Kerensky an opportunity to bring up his "loyal" regiments. One deputation after another entered the hall of the Taurida Palace, which was surrounded by armed crowds, and demanded a complete separation from the bourgeoisie, positive social reforms, and the opening of peace negotiations.

We, the Bolsheviki, met every new company of disgruntled troops gathered in the yards and streets, with speeches, in which we called upon them to be calm and assured them that, in view of the present temper of the people, the coalitionists could not succeed in forming a new coalition. Especially pronounced was the temper of the Kronstadt sailors, whom we had to restrain from transcending the limits of a peaceful demonstration. The fourth demonstration, which was already controlled by our party, assumed a still more serious character. The Soviet leaders were quite at sea; their speeches assumed an evasive character; the answers given by Cheidze to the deputies were without any political content. It was clear that the official leaders were marking time.

On the night of the 4th the "loyal" regiments began to arrive. During the session of the Executive Committee the Taurida Palace resounded to the strains of the Marseillaise. The expression on the faces of the leaders suddenly changed. They displayed a look of confidence which had been entirely wanting of late. It was produced by the entry into the Taurida Palace of the Volynsk regiment, the same one, which, a few months later, was to lead the vanguard of the October revolution, under our banners. From this moment, everything changed. There was no longer any need to handle the delegates of the Petrograd workmen and soldiers with kid gloves. Speeches were made from the floor of the Executive Committee, which referred to an armed insurrection that had been "suppressed" on that very day by loyal revolutionary forces. The Bolsheviki were declared to be a counter-revolutionary party.

The fear experienced by the liberal bourgeoisie during the two days of armed demonstration betrayed itself in a hatred that was crystallized not only in the columns of the newspapers, but also in the streets of Petrograd, and more especially on the Nevsky Prospect, where individual workmen and soldiers caught in the act of "criminal" agitation were mercilessly beaten up. The junkers, army-officers, policemen, and the St. Georgian cavaliers were now the masters of the situation. And all these were headed by the savage counter-revolutionists. The workers' organizations and establishments of our party were being ruthlessly crushed and demolished. Arrests, searches, assaults and even murders came to be common occurrences. On the night of the 4th the then Attorney-General, Pereverzev, handed over to the press "documents" which were intended to prove that the Bolshevist party was headed by bribed agents of Germany.

The leaders of the Social-Revolutionist and Menshevik parties have known us too long and too well to believe these accusations. At the same time, they were too deeply interested in their success to repudiate them publicly. And even now one cannot recall without disgust that saturnalia of lies which was celebrated broadcast in all the bourgeois and coalition newspapers. Our organs were suppressed. Revolutionary Petrograd felt that the provinces and the army were still far from being with it. In workingmen's sections of the city a short period of tyrannical infringements set in, while in the garrison repressive measures were introduced against the disorganized regiments, and certain of its units were disarmed. At the same time, the political leaders manufactured a new ministry, with the inclusion of representatives of third-rate bourgeois groups, which, although adding nothing to the government, robbed it of its last vestige of revolutionary initiative.

Meanwhile events at the front ran their own course. The organic unity of the army was shaken to its very depths. The soldiers were becoming convinced that the great majority of the officers, who, at the beginning of the revolution, bedaubed themselves with red revolutionary paint, were still very inimical to the new regime. An open selection of counter-revolutionary elements was being made in the lines. Bolshevik publications were ruthlessly persecuted. The military advance had long ago changed into a tragic retreat. The bourgeois press madly libelled the army. Whereas, on the eve of the advance, the ruling parties told us that we were an insignificant gang and that the army had never heard of us and would not have anything to do with us, now, when the gamble of the drive had ended so disastrously, these same persons and parties laid the whole blame for its failure on our shoulders. The prisons were crowded with revolutionary workers and soldiers. All the old legal bloodhounds of Czarism were employed in investigating the July 3-5 affair. Under these circumstances, the Social-Revolutionsts and the Alensheviki went so far as to demand that Lenin, Zinoviev and others of their group should surrender themselves to the "Courts of Justice."



THE EVENTS FOLLOWING THE JULY DAYS

The infringements of liberty in the working-men's quarters lasted but a little while and were followed by accessions of revolutionary spirit, not only among the proletariat, but also in the Petrograd garrison. The coalitionists were losing all influence. The wave of Bolshevism began to spread from the urban centers to every part of the country and, despite all obstacles, penetrated into the army ranks. The new coalition government, with Kerensky at its head, had already openly embarked upon a policy of repression. The ministry had restored the death penalty in the army. Our papers were suppressed and our agitators were arrested; but this only increased our influence. In spite of all the obstacles involved in the new elections for the Petrograd Soviet, the distribution of power in it had become so changed that on certain important questions we already commanded a majority vote. The same was the case in the Moscow Soviet.

At that time I, together with many others, was imprisoned at Kresty, having been arrested for instigating and organizing the armed revolt of July 3-5, in collusion with the German authorities, and with the object of furthering the military ends of the Hohenzollerns. The famous prosecutor of the Czarist regime, Aleksandrov, who had prosecuted numerous revolutionists, was now entrusted with the task of protecting the public from the counter-revolutionary Bolsheviki. Under the old regime the inmates of prisons used to be divided into political prisoners and criminals. Now a new terminology was established: Criminals and Bolsheviks. Great perplexity reigned among the imprisoned soldiers. The boys came from the country and had previously taken no part in political life. They thought that the revolution had set them free, once and for all. Hence they viewed with amazement their doorlocks and grated windows. While taking their exercise in the prison-yard, they would always ask me what all this meant and how it would end. I comforted them with the hope of our ultimate victory.

Toward the end of August occurred the revolt of Korniloff; this was the immediate result of the mobilization of the counter-revolutionary forces to which a forceful impulse had been imparted by the attack of July 18th. At the celebrated Moscow Congress, which took place in the middle of August, Kerensky attempted to take a middle ground between the propertied elements and the democracy of the small bourgeoisie. The Maximalists were on the whole considered as standing beyond the bounds of the "legal." Kerensky threatened them with blood and iron, which met with vehement applause from the propertied half of the gathering, and treacherous silence on the part of the bourgeois democracy. But the hysterical outcries and threats of Kerensky did not satisfy the chiefs of the counter-revolutionary interests. They had only too clearly observed the revolutionary tide flooding every portion of the country, among the working class, in the villages, in the army; and they considered it imperative to adopt without any delay the most extreme measures to curb the masses. After reaching an understanding with the property-owning bourgeoisie—who saw in him their hero—Korniloff took it upon himself to accomplish this hazardous task. Kerensky, Savinkoff, Filonenko and other Socialist-Revolutionists of the government or semi-government class participated in this conspiracy, but each and every one of them at a certain stage of the altering circumstances betrayed Korniloff, for they knew that in the case of his defeat, they would turn out to have been on the wrong side of the fence. We lived through the events connected with Korniloff, while we were in jail, and followed them in the newspapers; the unhindered delivery of newspapers was the only important respect in which the jails of Kerensky differed from those of the old regime. The Cossack General's adventure miscarried; six months of revolution had created in the consciousness of the masses and in their organization a sufficient resistance against an open counter-revolutionary attack. The conciliable Soviet parties were terribly frightened at the prospect of the possible results of the Korniloff conspiracy, which threatened to sweep away, not only the Maximalists, but also the whole revolution, together with its governing parties. The Social-Revolutionists and the Minimalists proceeded to legalize the Maximalists—this, to be sure, only retrospectively and only half-way, inasmuch as they scented possible dangers in the future. The very same Kronstadt sailors—whom they had dubbed burglars and counter-revolutionists in the days following the July uprising—were summoned during the Korniloff danger to Petrograd for the defence of the revolution. They came without a murmur, without a word of reproach, without recalling the past, and occupied the most responsible posts.

I had the fullest right to recall to Tseretelli these words which I had addressed to him in May, when he was occupied in persecuting the Kronstadt sailors: "When a counter-revolutionary general attempts to throw the noose around the neck; of the revolution, the Cadets will grease the rope with soap, while the Kronstadt sailors will come to fight and die together with us."

The Soviet organizations had revealed everywhere, in the rear and at the front, their vitality and their power in the struggle with the Korniloff uprising. In almost no instance did things ever come to a military conflict. The revolutionary masses ground into nothingness the general's conspiracy. Just as the moderates in July found no soldiers among the Petrograd garrison to fight against us, so now Korniloff found no soldiers on the whole front to fight against the revolution. He had acted by virtue of a delusion and the words of our propaganda easily destroyed his designs.

According to information in the newspapers, I had expected a more rapid unfolding of subsequent events in the direction of the passing of the power into the hands of the Soviets. The growth of the influence and power of the Maximalists became indubitable and had gained an irresistable momentum. The Maximalists had warned against the coalition, against the attack of the 18th of July, they predicted the Korniloff affair—the masses of the people became convinced by experience that we were right. During the most terrifying moments of the Korniloff conspiracy, when the Caucasian division was approaching Petrograd, the Petrograd Soviet was arming the workingmen with the extorted consent of the authorities. Army divisions which had been brought up against us had long since achieved their successful rebirth in the stimulating atmosphere of Petrograd and were now altogether on our side. The Korniloff uprising was destined to open definitely the eyes of the army to the inadmissibility of any continued policy of conciliation with the bourgeois counter-revolution. Hence it was possible to expect that the crushing of the Korniloff uprising would prove to be only an introduction to an immediate aggressive action on the part of the revolutionary forces under the leadership of our party for the purpose of seizing sole power. But events unfolded more slowly. With all the tension of their revolutionary feeling, the masses had become more cautious after the bitter lesson of the July days, and renounced all isolated demonstrations, awaiting a direct instruction and direction from above. And, also, among the leadership of our party there developed a "watchful-waiting" policy. Under these circumstances, the liquidation of the Korniloff adventure, irrespective of the profound regrouping of forces to our advantage, did not bring about any immediate political changes.



THE CONFLICT WITH THE SOVIETS

In the Petrograd Soviet, the domination of our party was definitely strengthened from that time on. This was evidenced in dramatic fashion when the question of the personnel of its presiding body came up. At that epoch, when the Social-Revolutionists and the Minimalists were holding sway in the Soviets, they isolated the Maximalists by every means in their power. They did not admit even one Maximalist into the membership of the Executive Committee at Petrograd, even when our party represented at least one-third of all the Soviet members. Afterwards, when the Petrograd Soviet, by a dwindling majority, passed the resolution for the transfering of all power into the hands of the Soviet, our party put forth the demand to establish a coalition Executive Committee formed on a proportional basis. The old presiding body, the members of which were Cheidze, Tseretelli, Kerensky, Skobeloff, Chernoff, flatly refused this demand. It may not be out of place to mention this here, inasmuch as representatives of the parties broken up by the revolution speak of the necessity of presenting one front for the sake of democracy, and accuse us of separatism. There was called at that time a special meeting of the Petrograd Soviet, which was to decide the question of the presiding body's fate. All forces, all reserves had been mobilized on both sides. Tseretelli came out with a speech embodying a programme, wherein he pointed out that the question of the presiding body was a question of orientation. We reckoned that we would sway somewhat less than half of the vote and were ready to consider that a sign of our progress. Actually, however, the vote showed that we had a majority of nearly one hundred. "For six months," said Tseretelli at that time, "we have stood at the head of the Petrograd Soviet and led it from victory to victory; we wish that you may hold for at least half of that time the positions which you are now preparing to occupy." In the Moscow Soviet a similar change of leadership among the parties took place.

One after the other the Provincial Soviets joined the Bolshevik position. The date of convoking the Second All-Russian Congress of Soviets was approaching. But the leading group of the Central Executive Committee was striving with all its might to put off the Congress to an indefinite future time, in order thus to destroy it in advance. It was evident that the new Congress of Soviets would give our party a majority, would correspondingly alter the make-up of the Central Executive Committee, and deprive the fusionists of their most important position. The struggle for the convocation of the All-Russian Congress of Soviets assumed the greatest importance for us.

To counterbalance this, the Mensheviks (Minimalists) and the Social-Revolutionists put forth the Democratic Conference idea. They needed this move against both us and Kerensky.

By this time the head of the Ministry assumed an absolutely independent and irresponsible position. He had been raised to power by the Petrograd Soviet during the first epoch of the revolution: Kerensky had entered the Ministry without a preliminary decision of the Soviets, but his admission was subsequently approved. After the First Congress of Soviets, the Socialist ministers were held accountable to the Central Executive Committee. Their allies, the Cadets (Constitutional Democrats) were responsible only to their party. To meet the bourgeoisie's wishes, the General Executive Committee, after the July days, released the Socialist Ministers from all responsibility to the Soviets, in order, as it were, to create a revolutionary dictatorship. It is rather well to mention this, too, now that the same persons who built up the dictatorship of a coterie, come forth with accusations and imprecations against the dictatorship of a class. The Moscow Conference, at which the skilfully manipulated professional and democratic elements balanced each other, aimed to strengthen Kerensky's power over classes and parties. This aim was attained only in appearance. In reality, the Moscow Conference revealed Kerensky's utter impotence, for he was equally remote from both the professional elements and the bourgeois democracy. But since the liberals and conservatives applauded his onslaughts against democracy, and the fusionists gave him ovations when he cautiously upbraided the counter-revolutionaries, the impression was growing upon him that he was supported, as it were, by both the former and the latter, and, accordingly, commanded unlimited power. Over workingmen and revolutionary soldiers he held the threat of blood and iron. His policy continued the bargaining with Korniloff behind the scenes—a bargaining which compromised him even in the fusionists' eyes: in evasively diplomatic terms, so characteristic of him, Tseretelli spoke of "personal" movements in politics and of the necessity of curbing these personal movements. This task was to be accomplished by the Democratic Conference, which was called, according to arbitrary forms, from among representatives of Soviets, dumas, zemstvos, professional trade unions and co-operative societies. Still, the main task was to secure a sufficiently conservative composition of the Conference, to dissolve the Soviets once for all in the formless mass of democracy, and, on the new organizational basis, to gain a firm footing against the Bolshevik tide.

Here it will not be out of place to note, in a few words, the difference between the political role of the Soviets and that of the democratic organs of self-government. More than once, the Philistines called our attention to the fact that the new dumas and zemstvos elected on the basis of universal suffrage, were incomparably more democratic than the Soviets and were more suited to represent the population. However, this formal democratic criterion is devoid of serious content in a revolutionary epoch. The significance of the Revolution lies in the rapid changing of the judgment of the masses, in the fact that new and ever new strata of population acquire experience, verify their views of the day before, sweep them aside, work out new ones, desert old leaders and follow new ones in the forward march. During revolutionary times, formally democratic organizations, based upon the ponderous apparatus of universal suffrage, inevitably fall behind the development of the political consciousness of the masses. Quite different are the Soviets. They rely immediately upon organic groupings, such as shop, mill, factory, volost, regiment, etc. To be sure, there are guarantees, just as legal, of the strictness of elections, as are used in creating democratic dumas and zemstvos. But there are in the Soviet incomparably more serious, more profound guarantees of the direct and immediate relation between the deputy and the electors. A town-duma or zemstvo member is supported by the amorphous mass of electors, which entrusts its full powers to him for a year and then breaks up. The Soviet electors remain always united by the conditions of their work and their existence; the deputy is ever before their eyes, at any moment they can prepare a mandate to him, censure him, recall or replace him with another person.

If during the revolutionary month preceding the general political evolution expressed itself in the fact that the influence of the fusionist parties was being replaced by a decisive influence of the Bolsheviki, it is quite plain that this process found its most striking and fullest expression in the Soviets, while the dumas and zemstvos, notwithstanding all their formal democratism, expressed yesterday's status of the popular masses and not to-day's. This is exactly what explains the gravitation toward dumas and zemstvos on the part of those parties which were losing more and more ground in the esteem of the revolutionary class. We shall meet with the same question, only on a larger scale, later, when we come to the Constituent Assembly.



THE DEMOCRATIC CONFERENCE

The Democratic Conference, called by Tseretelli and his fellow-combatants in mid-September, was totally artificial in character, representing as it did a combination of Soviets and organs of self-government in a ratio calculated to secure a preponderance of the fusionist parties. Born of helplessness and confusion, the Conference ended in a pitiful fiasco. The professional bourgeoisie treated the Conference with the greatest hostility, beholding in it an endeavor to push the bourgeoisie away from the positions it had approached at the Moscow Conference. The revolutionary proletariat, and the masses of soldiers and peasants connected with it, condemned in advance the fraudulent method of calling together the Democratic Conference. The immediate task of the fusionists was to create a responsible ministry. But even this was not achieved. Kerensky neither wanted nor permitted responsibility, because this was not permitted by the bourgeoisie, which was backing him. Irresponsibility towards the organs of the so-called democracy meant, in fact, responsibility to the Cadets and the Allied Embassies. For the time being this was sufficient for the bourgeoisie. On the question of coalition the Democratic Conference revealed its utter insolvency: the votes in favor of a coalition with the bourgeoisie slightly outnumbered those against the coalition; the majority voted against a coalition with the Cadets. But with the Cadets left out, there proved to be, among the bourgeoisie, no serious counter-agencies for the coalition. Tseretelli explained this in detail to the conference. If the conference did not grasp it, so much the worse for the conference. Behind the backs of the conference, negotiations were carried on without concealment with the Cadets, whom they had repudiated, and it was decided that the Cadets should not appear as Cadets, but as "Social workers." Pressed hard on both right and left, the bourgeois democracy tolerated all this dickering, and thereby demonstrated its utter political prostration.

From the Democratic Conference a Soviet was picked, and it was decided to complete it by adding representatives of the professional elements; this Pre-Parliament was to fill the vacant period before the convocation of the Constituent Assembly Contrary to Tseretelli's original plan, but in full accord with the plans of the bourgeoisie, the new coalition ministry retained its formal independence with regard to the Pre-Parliament. Everything together produced the impression of a pitiful and impotent creation of an office clerk behind which was concealed the complete capitulation of the petty bourgeois democracy before the professional liberalism which, a month previously, had openly supported Korniloff's attack on the Revolution. The sum total of the whole affair was, therefore, the restoration and perpetuation of the coalition with the liberal bourgeoisie. No longer could there be any doubt that quite independently of the make-up of the future Constituent Assembly, the governmental power would, in fact, be held by the bourgeoisie, as despite all the preponderance given them by the masses of the people the fusionist parties invariably arrived at a coalition with the Cadets, deeming it impossible, as they did, to create a state power without the bourgeoisie. The attitude of the masses toward Milyukov's party was one of the deepest hostility. At all elections during the revolutionary period, the Cadets suffered merciless defeat, and yet, the very parties—i.e., the Social-Revolutionists and Mensheviks—which victoriously defeated the Cadet party at the elections, after election gave it the place of honor in the coalition government. It is natural that the masses realized more and more that in reality the fusionist parties were playing the role of stewards to the liberal bourgeoisie.

Meantime, the internal situation was becoming more and more complicated and unfavorable. The war dragged on aimlessly, senselessly and interminably. The Government took no steps whatever to extricate itself from the vicious circle. The laughable scheme was proposed of sending the Menshevik Skobeloff to Paris to influence the allied imperialists. But no sane man attached any importance to this scheme. Korniloff gave up Riga to the Germans in order to terrorize public opinion, and having brought about this condition, to establish the discipline of the knout in the army. Danger threatened Petrograd. And the bourgeois elements greeted this peril with unconcealed malicious joy. The former President of the Duma, Rodzyanko, openly said again and again that the surrender of debauched Petrograd to the Germans would not be a great misfortune. For illustration he cited Riga, where the Deputy Soviets had been done away with after the coming of the Germans, and firm order, together with the old police system, had been established.

Would the Baltic fleet be lost? But the fleet had been debauched by the Revolutionary propaganda; ergo the loss was not so great. The cynicism of a garrulous nobleman expressed the hidden thoughts of the greater part of the bourgeoisie, that to surrender Petrograd to the Germans did not mean to lose it. Under the peace treaty it would be restored, but restored ravaged by German militarism. By that time the revolution would be decapitated, and it would be easier to manage. Kerensky's government did not think of seriously defending the capital. On the contrary, public opinion was being prepared for its possible surrender. Public institutions were being removed from Petrograd to Moscow and other cities.

In this setting, the Soldiers' section of the Petrograd Soviet had its meeting. Feeling was tense and turbulent, Was the Government incapable of defending Petrograd? If so, let it make peace. And if incapable of making peace, let it clear out. The frame of mind of the Soldiers' section found expression in this resolution. This was already the heat-lightning of the October Revolution.

At the front, the situation grew worse day by day. Chilly autumn, with its rains and winds, was drawing nigh. And there was looming up a fourth winter campaign. Supplies deteriorated every day. In the rear, the front had been forgotten—no reliefs, no new contingents, no warm winter clothing, which was indispensable. Desertions grew in number. The old army committees, elected in the first period of the Revolution, remained at their places and supported Kerensky's policy. Re-elections were forbidden. An abyss sprang up between the committees and the soldier masses. Finally the soldiers began to regard the committees with hatred. With increasing frequency delegates from the trenches were arriving in Petrograd and at the sessions of the Petrograd Soviet put the question point blank: "What is to be done further? By whom and how will the war be ended? Why is the Petrograd Soviet silent?"



INEVITABILITY OF THE STRUGGLE FOR POWER

The Petrograd Soviet was not silent. It demanded the immediate transfer of all power into the hands of the Soviets in the capitals and in the provinces, the immediate transfer of the land to the peasants, the workingmen's control of production, and immediate opening of peace negotiations. So long as we remained an opposition party, the motto—all power to the Soviets—was a propaganda motto. But as soon as we found ourselves in the majority in all the principal Soviets, this motto imposed upon us the duty of a direct and immediate fight for power.

In the country villages, the situation had grown entangled and complicated in the extreme. The Revolution had promised land to the peasant, but at the same time, the leading parties demanded that the peasant should not touch this land until the Constituent Assembly should meet. At first the peasants waited patiently, but when they began to lose patience, the coalition ministry showered repressive measures upon them. Meanwhile the Constituent Assembly was receding to ever remoter distances. The bourgeoisie insisted upon calling the Constituent Assembly after the conclusion of peace. The peasant masses were growing more and more impatient. What we had foretold at the very beginning of the Revolution, was being realized: the peasants were seizing the land of their own accord. Repressive measures grew, arrests of revolutionary land committees began. In certain uyezds (districts) Kerensky introduced martial law. A line of delegates, who came on foot, flowed from the villages to the Petrograd Soviet. They complained that they had been arrested when they attempted to carry out the Petrograd Soviet's programme and to transfer the estate holder's land into the hands of the peasant committees. The peasants demanded protection of us. We replied that we should be in a position to protect them only if the power were in our hands. From this, however, it followed that the Soviets must seize the power if they did not wish to become mere debating societies.

"It is senseless to fight for the power of the Soviets six or eight weeks before the Constituent Assembly," our neighbors on the Right told us. We, however, were in no degree infected with this fetish worship of the Constituent Assembly. In the first place, there were no guarantees that it really would be called. The breaking up of the army, mass desertions, disorganization of the supplies department, agrarian revolution—all this created an environment which was unfavorable to the elections for the Constituent Assembly. The surrender of Petrograd to the Germans, furthermore, threatened to remove altogether the question of elections from the order of the day. And, besides, even if it were called according to the old registration lists under the leadership of the old parties, the Constituent Assembly would be but a cover and a sanction for the coalition power. Without the bourgeoisie neither the S. R.'s nor the Mensheviks were in a position to assume power. Only the revolutionary class was destined to break the vicious circle wherein the Revolution was revolving and going to pieces. The power had to be snatched from the hands of the elements which were directly or indirectly serving the bourgeoisie and making use of the state apparatus as a tool of obstruction against the revolutionary demands of the people.

All power to the Soviets! demanded our party. Translated into party language, this had meant, in the preceding period, the power of the S. R.'s and Mensheviks, as opposed to a coalition with the liberal bourgeoisie. Now, in October 1917, the same motto meant handing over all power to the revolutionary proletariat, at the head of which, at this period, stood the Bolshevik party. It was a question of the dictatorship of the working class, which was leading, or, more correctly, was capable of leading the many millions of the poorest peasantry. This was the historical significance of the October uprising.

Everything led the party to this path. Since the first days of the Revolution, we had been preaching the necessity and inevitability of the power passing to the Soviets. After a great internal struggle, the majority of the Soviets made this demand their own, having accepted our point of view. We were preparing the Second All-Russian Congress of Soviets at which we: expected our party's complete victory. Under Dan's leadership (the cautious Cheidze had departed for the Caucasus), the Central Executive Committee attempted to block in every way the calling of the Congress of the Soviets. After great exertions, supported by the Soviet fraction of the Democratic Assembly, we finally secured the setting of the date of the Congress for October 25th. This date was destined to become the greatest day in the history of Russia. As a preliminary, we called in Petrograd a Congress of Soviets of the Northern regions, including the Baltic fleet and Moscow. At this Congress, we had a solid majority, and obtained a certain support on the right in the persons of the left S. R. faction, besides laying important organizational premises for the October uprising.



THE CONFLICT REGARDING THE PETROGRAD GARRISON

But even earlier, previous to the Congress of Northern Soviets, there occurred an event which was destined to play a most important role in the subsequent political struggle. Early in October there came to a meeting of the Petrograd Executive Committee, the Soviet's representative in the staff of the Petrograd Military District and announced that Headquarters demanded that two-thirds of the Petrograd garrison should be sent to the front. For what purpose? To defend Petrograd. They were not to be sent to the front at once, but still it was necessary to make ready immediately. The Staff recommended that the Petrograd Soviet approve this plan. We were on our guard. At the end of August, also, five revolutionary regiments, complete or in parts, had been taken out of Petrograd. This had been done at the request of the then Supreme Commander Korniloff, who at that very time was preparing to hurl a Caucasian division against Petrograd, with the intention of once for all settling with the revolutionary capital. Thus we had already the experience of purely political transfer of regiments under the pretext of military operations. Anticipating events. I shall say, that from documents brought to light after the October Revolution it became clear beyond any doubt that the proposed removal of the Petrograd garrison actually had nothing to do with military purposes, but was forced upon Commander-in-Chief Dukhonin, against his will, by none else but Kerensky, who was striving to clear the capital of the most revolutionary soldiers, i.e., those most hostile to him. But at that time, early in October, our suspicions evoked at first a storm of patriotic indignation. The Staff people were pressing us, Kerensky was impatient, for the ground under his feet had grown too hot. We, on the other hand, delayed answering. Danger undoubtedly threatened Petrograd and the question of defending the capital loomed before us in all its terrible significance. But after the Korniloff experience, after Rodzyanko's words concerning the desirability of the German occupation, whence should we take the assurance that Petrograd would not be maliciously given up to the Germans in punishment for its seditious spirit? The Executive Committee refused to affix its seal blindly to the order to transfer two-thirds of the garrison. It was necessary to verify, we said, whether there really were military considerations back of this order, and therefore it was necessary to create an organization for this verification. Thus was born the idea of creating—by the side of the Soldiers' section of the Soviet, i. e., the garrison's political representation—a purely military organization, in the form of a Military Revolutionary Committee, which subsequently acquired enormous power and became the real tool of the October Revolution. Undoubtedly, even in those hours, when putting forth the idea of creating an organization in whose hands would be concentrated the threads for guiding the Petrograd garrison on the purely military side, we clearly realized that this very organization might become an irreplaceable revolutionary tool. At that time we were already openly heading for the uprising, and were preparing for it in an organized way.

As indicated above, the All-Russian Congress of Soviets was ret for October 25th. There could be no longer any doubt that the Congress would declare itself in favor of power being handed over to the Soviets. But such a resolution must forthwith be put into actuality, else it would turn into a worthless, Platonic demonstration. The logic of events, therefore, required us to set the uprising for October 25th. Exactly so the entire bourgeois press interpreted it. But in the first place, the fate of the Congress depended upon the Petrograd garrison: would it allow Kerensky to surround the Congress of Soviets and disperse it with the assistance of several hundred or thousand military cadets, ensigns and thugs? Did not the very attempt to remove the garrison mean that the Government was preparing to disperse the Congress of Soviets? And strange it would be if it were not preparing, since we were, before the entire land, openly mobilizing the Soviet forces in order to deal the coalition forces a death blow.

Thus the conflict at Petrograd was developing on the basis of the question of the garrison's fate. First and foremost this question touched all the soldiers to the quick. But the working-men, too, felt the liveliest interest in the conflict, fearing as they did that upon the garrison's removal they would be smothered by the cadets and cossacks. Thus the conflict was assuming a character of the very keenest nature and developing on a soil extremely unfavorable for Kerensky's government.

Parallel with this was going on the above-described struggle for convoking the All-Russian Congress of Soviets—we, openly declaring, in the name of the Petrograd Soviet and the Northern Region Congress, that the Second Congress of Soviets must set Kerensky's government aside and become the true master of the Russian land. As a matter of fact the uprising was already on. It was developing quite openly before the eyes of the whole country.

During October the question of the uprising played an important role in our party's inner life. Lenin, who was in hiding in Finland, insisted, in numerous letters, upon more resolute tactics. The lower strata were in ferment, and dissatisfaction was accumulating because the Bolshevik party, which had proved to be in the majority in the Petrograd Soviet, was drawing no practical conclusions from its own mottos. On October 10th a conspiratory meeting of the Central Committee of our party took place, with Lenin present. The question of the uprising was on the order of the day. By a majority of all against two votes it was decided that the only means of saving the Revolution and the country from final dissolution lay in armed insurrection which must transfer power into the hands of the Soviets.



THE DEMOCRATIC SOVIET AND "PRE-PARLIAMENT"

The Democratic Soviet which had detached itself from the Democratic Conference had absorbed all the helplessness of the latter. The old Soviet parties, the Social-Revolutionists and the Mensheviks, had created an artificial majority in it for themselves, only the more strikingly to reveal their political prostration. Behind the Soviet curtains, Tseretelli was carrying on involved parleys with Kerensky and the representatives of the "professional elements" as they began to say in the Soviet,—in order to avoid the "insulting" term bourgeoisie.

Tseretelli's report on the course and issue of the negotiations was a sort of funeral oration over a whole period of the Revolution. It turned out that neither Kerensky nor the professional elements had consented to responsibility toward the new semi-representative institution. On the other hand, outside the limits of the Cadet Party, they had not succeeded in finding so-called "efficient" social leaders. The organizers of the venture had to capitulate on both points. The capitulation was all the more eloquent, because the Democratic Conference had been called exactly for the purpose of doing away with the irresponsible regime, while the Conference, by a formal vote, rejected a coalition with the Cadets. At several meetings of the Democratic Soviet which took place prior to the Revolution, there prevailed an atmosphere of tenseness and utter incapacity for action. The Soviet did not reflect the Revolution's march forward but the dissolution of the parties that had lagged behind the Revolution.

Even previous to the Democratic Conference, in our party faction, I had raised the question of demonstratively withdrawing from the Conference and boycotting the Democratic Soviet. It was necessary to show the masses by action that the fusionists had led the Revolution into a blind alley. The fight for building up the Soviet power could be carried on only in a revolutionary way. The power must be snatched from the hands of those who had proven incapable of doing any good and were furthermore even losing their capacity for active evil. Their method of working through an artificially picked Pre-Parliament and a conjectural Constituent Assembly, had to be opposed by our political method of mobilizing the forces around the Soviets, through the All-Russian Congress of Soviets and through insurrection. This could be done only by means of an open break, before the eyes of the entire people, with the body created by Tseretelli and his adherents, and by focusing on the Soviet institutions, the entire attention and all the forces of the working class. This is why I proposed the demonstrative withdrawal from the Conference and a revolutionary agitation, in shops and regiments, against the attempt to play false with the will of the Revolution and once again turn its progress into the channel of cooperation with the bourgeoisie. Lenin, whose letter we received a few days later, expressed himself to the same effect. But in the party's upper circles hesitation was still apparent on this question. The July days had left a deep impression in the party's consciousness. The mass of workingmen and soldiers had recovered from the July debacle much more rapidly than had many of the leading comrades who feared the nipping of the Revolution in the bud by a new premature onslaught of the masses. In our group of the Democratic Conference, I mustered 50 votes in favor of my proposal against 70 who declared for participating in the Democratic Council. However, the experience of this participation soon strengthened the party's left wing. It was growing too manifest that combinations bordering on trickery, combinations that aimed at securing further leadership in the Revolution for the professional elements, with the assistance of the fusionists, who had lost ground among the lower levels of the people, offered no escape from the impasse into which the laxness of bourgeois democracy had driven the revolution. By the time the Democratic Soviet, its ranks filled up with professional elements, became a Pre-Parliament, readiness to break with this institution had matured in our party.



THE S. R.'S AND MENSHEVIKS

We were confronted with the question whether the S. R.'s would follow us in this path. This group was in the process of formation, but this process, according to the standards of our party, went on too slowly and irresolutely. At the outset of the Revolution, the S. R.'s proved the predominating party in the whole field of political life. Peasants, soldiers, even workingmen voted en masse for the S. R.'s. The party itself had not expected anything of the kind, and more than once it looked as if it were in danger of being swamped in the waves of its own success. Excluding the purely capitalistic and landholder groups and the professional elements among the intellectuals, one and all voted for the revolutionary populists' party. This was natural in the initial stage of the Revolution, when class lines had not had time to reveal themselves, when the aspirations of the so-called united revolutionary front found expression in the diffuse program of a party that was ready to welcome equally the workingman who feared to break away from the peasant; the peasant who was seeking land and liberty; the intellectual attempting to guide both of them; the chinovnik (officeholder) endeavoring to adjust himself to the new regime.

When Kerensky, who had been counted a laborite in the period of Czarism, joined the S. R.'s Party after the victory of the Revolution, that party's popularity began to grow in proportion as Kerensky mounted the rungs of power. Out of respect, not always of a platonic nature, for the War Minister, many colonels and generals hastened to enrol in the party of the erstwhile terrorists. Old S. R.'s, with revolutionary traditions, regarded with some uneasiness the ever increasing number of "March S. R.'s" that is, such party members as had discovered within themselves a revolutionary populist soul only in March, after the Revolution had overthrown the old regime and placed the revolutionary populists in authority. Thus, within the limits of its formlessness, this party contained not only the inner contradictions of the developing Revolution, but also the prejudices inherent in the backwardness of the peasant masses, and the sentimentalism, instability and career-chasing of the intellectual strata. It was perfectly clear that in that form the party could not last long. With regard to ideas, it proved impotent from the very start.

Politically, the guiding role belonged to the Mensheviks who had gone through the school of Marxism and derived from it certain procedures and habits, which aided them in finding their bearings in the political situation to the extent of scientifically falsifying the meaning of the current class struggle and securing the hegemony of the liberal bourgeoisie in the highest degree possible under the given circumstances. This is why the Mensheviks, direct pleaders for the bourgeoisie's right to power, exhausted themselves so rapidly and, by the time of the October Revolution, were almost completely played out.

The S. R.'s, too, were losing influence more and more—first among the workingmen, then in the army, and finally in the villages. But toward the time of the October upheaval, they remained still a very powerful party, numerically. However, class contradictions were undermining them from within. In opposition to the right wing which, in its most chauvinistic elements, such as Avksentyef, Breshko-Breshkovskaya, Savinkoff, etc., had finally gone over into the counter-revolutionary camp, a left wing was forming, which strove to preserve its connection with the toiling masses. If we merely recall the fact that the S. R., Avksentyef, as Minister of the Interior, arrested the Peasant Land Committees, composed of S. R.'s, for their arbitrary solution of the agrarian question, the amplitude of "differences" within this party will become sufficiently clear to us.

In its center stood the party's traditional leader, Chernoff. A writer of experience, well-read in socialist literature, an experienced hand in factional strife, he had constantly remained at the head of the party, when party life was being built up in emigrant circles abroad. The Revolution which had raised the S. R. party to an enormous height with its first indiscriminating wave, automatically raised Chernoff, too, only to reveal his complete impotence even as compared with the other leading political lights of the first period. The paltry resources which had secured to Chernoff a preponderance in the populist circles abroad, proved too light in the scales of the Revolution. He concentrated his efforts on not taking any responsible decisions, evading in all critical cases, waiting and abstaining. For some little time, tactics of this kind secured for him the position as center between the ever more diverging flanks. But there was no longer any possibility of preserving party unity for long. The former terrorist, Savinkof, took part in Korniloff's conspiracy, was in touching unanimity with the counter-revolutionary circles of Cossack officers and was preparing an onslaught on Petrograd workingmen and soldiers, among whom there were quite a few left S. R.'s. As a sacrifice to the left wing, the Center expelled Savinkof from the party, but hesitated to raise a hand against Kerensky. In the Pre-Parliament, the party showed signs of extreme disruption: three groups existed independently, though under the banner of one and the same party, but none of the groups knew exactly what it wanted. The formal domination of this "party" in the Constituent Assembly would have meant only a continuation of political prostration.



WITHDRAWING FROM THE PRE-PARLIAMENT. THE VOICE OF THE FRONT

Before withdrawing from the membership in the Pre-Parliament where, according to Kerensky's and Tseretelli's political statistics, we were entitled to some half a hundred seats, we arranged a conference with the left S. R. group. They refused to follow us, claiming that they still had to demonstrate practically before the peasantry the insolvency of the Pre-Parliament. Said one of the leaders of the left S. R.'s:

"We deem it necessary to warn you that if you want to withdraw from the Pre-Parliament in order forthwith to go into the streets for an open fight, we shall not follow you."

The bourgeois-fusionist press accused us of striving to kill prematurely the Pre-Parliament, for the very purpose of creating a revolutionary situation. At our faction meeting in the Pre-Parliament, it was decided to act independently and not wait for the left S. R.'s. Our party's declaration, proclaimed from the Pre-Parliament rostrum and explaining why we were breaking with this institution, was greeted with a howl of hatred and impotence on the part of the majority groups. In the Petrograd Soviet of Deputies, where our withdrawal from the Pre-Parliament was approved by an overwhelming majority, the leader of the tiny "internationalist" Menshevik group, Martof, explained to us that the withdrawal from the temporary Soviet of the Republic (such was the official appellation of this little-respected institution) would be sensible only in case we proposed immediately to assume an open offensive. But the point is that this is just what we intended. The prosecutors for the liberal bourgeoisie were right, when accusing us of striving to create a revolutionary situation. In open insurrection and direct seizure of power we beheld the only way out of the situation.

Again, as in the July days, the press and all the other organs of so-called public opinion were mobilized against us. From the July arsenals were dragged forth the most envenomed weapons which had been temporarily stored away there after the Korniloff days. Vain efforts! The mass was irresistibly moving toward us, and its spirit was rising hour by hour. From the trenches delegates kept arriving. "How long," said they, at the Petrograd Soviet meetings, "will this impossible situation last? The soldiers have told us to declare to you: if no decisive steps for peace are made by November 1st, the trenches will be deserted, the entire army will rush to the rear!" This determination was really spreading at the front. There the soldiers were passing on, from one unit to another, home-made proclamations, summoning them not to remain in the trenches later than the first snowfall. "You have forgotten about us," the delegates on foot from the trenches exclaimed at the Soviet meetings. "If you find no way out of the situation, we shall come here ourselves, and with our bayonets we shall disperse our enemies, including you." In the course of a few weeks the Petrograd Council had become the center of attraction for the whole army. After its leading tendency had been changed and new presiding officers elected, its resolutions inspired the exhausted and despondent troops at the front with the hope that the way out of the situation could be practically found in the manner proposed by the Bolsheviks: by publishing the secret treaties and proposing an immediate truce on all fronts. "You say that power must pass into the hands of the Soviets, grasp it then. Yon fear that the front will not support you. Cast all misgivings aside, the soldier masses are with you in overwhelming majority."

Meanwhile the conflict regarding the transfer of the garrison kept on developing. Almost daily, a garrison conference met, consisting of committees from the companies, regiments and commands. The influence of our party in the garrison was established definitely and indestructibly. The Petrograd District Staff was in a state of extreme perplexity. Now it would attempt to enter into regular relations with us, then again, egged on by the leaders of the Central Executive Committee, it would threaten us with repressive measures.

Above, mention has already been made of organizing, at the Petrograd Soviet, a Military Revolutionary Committee, which was intended to be, in fact, the Soviet Staff of the Petrograd garrison in opposition to Kerensky's Staff. "But the existence of two staffs is inadmissible," the representatives of the fusionist parties dogmatically admonished us. "But is a situation admissible, wherein the garrison mistrusts the official staff and fears that the transfer of soldiers from Petrograd has been dictated by a new counter-revolutionary machination?" we retorted. "The creation of a second staff means insurrection," came the reply from the Right. "Your Military Revolutionary Committee's task will not be so much to verify the operative projects and orders of the military authorities as the preparation and execution of an insurrection against the present government." This objection was just: But for that very reason it did not frighten anybody. An overwhelming majority of the Soviet was aware of the necessity of overthrowing the coalition power. The more circumstantially the Mensheviks and S. R.'s demonstrated that the Military Revolutionary Committee would inevitably turn into an organ of insurrection, the greater the eagerness with which the Petrograd Soviet supported the new fighting organization.

1  2  3     Next Part
Home - Random Browse