Category Archives: Bourgeois Revolutionaries

V.I. Lenin to American Workers

“The American people have a revolutionary tradition which has been adopted by the best representatives of the American proletariat, who have repeatedly expressed their complete solidarity with us Bolsheviks. That tradition is the war of liberation against the British in the eighteenth century and the Civil War in the nineteenth century. In some respects, if we only take into consideration the “destruction” of some branches of industry and of the national economy, America in 1870 was behind 1860. But what a pedant, what an idiot would anyone be to deny on these grounds the immense, world-historic, progressive and revolutionary significance of the American Civil War of 1863-65!

The representatives of the bourgeoisie understand that for the sake of overthrowing Negro slavery, of overthrowing the rule of the slaveowners, it was worth letting the country go through long years of civil war, through the abysmal ruin, destruction and terror that accompany every war. But now, when we are confronted with the vastly greater task of overthrowing capitalist wage-slavery, of overthrowing the rule of the bourgeoisie—now, the representatives and defenders of the bourgeoisie, and also the reformist socialists who have been frightened by the bourgeoisie and are shunning the revolution, cannot and do not want to understand that civil war is necessary and legitimate.

The American workers will not follow the bourgeoisie. They will be with us, for civil war against the bourgeoisie. The whole history of the world and of the American labour movement strengthens my conviction that this is so. I also recall the words of one of the most beloved leaders of the American proletariat, Eugene Debs, who wrote in the Appeal to Reason,[4] I believe towards the end of 1915, in the article “What Shall I Fight For” (I quoted this article at the beginning of 1916 at a public meeting of workers in Berne, Switzerland)[5]—that he, Debs, would rather be shot than vote credits for the present criminal and reactionary war; that he, Debs, knows of only one holy and, from the proletarian standpoint, legitimate war, namely: the war against the capitalists, the war to liberate mankind from wage-slavery.

I am not surprised that Wilson, the head of the American multimillionaires and servant of the capitalist sharks, has thrown Debs into prison. Let the bourgeoisie be brutal to the true internationalists, to the true representatives of the revolutionary proletariat! The more fierce and brutal they are, the nearer the day of the victorious proletarian revolution.

We are blamed for the destruction caused by our revolution. . . . Who are the accusers? The hangers-on of the bourgeoisie, of that very bourgeoisie who, during the four years of the imperialist war, have destroyed almost the whole of European culture and have reduced Europe to barbarism, brutality and starvation. These bourgeoisie now demand we should not make a revolution on these ruins, amidst this wreckage of culture, amidst the wreckage and ruins created by the war, nor with the people who have been brutalised by the war. How humane and righteous the bourgeoisie are!

Their servants accuse us of resorting to terror. . . . The British bourgeoisie have forgotten their 1649, the French bourgeoisie have forgotten their 1793. Terror was just and legitimate when the bourgeoisie resorted to it for their own benefit against feudalism. Terror became monstrous and criminal when the workers and poor peasants dared to use it against the bourgeoisie! Terror was just and legitimate when used for the purpose of substituting one exploiting minority for another exploiting minority. Terror became monstrous and criminal when it began to be used for the purpose of overthrowing every exploiting minority, to be used in the interests of the vast actual majority, in the interests of the proletariat and semi-proletariat, the working class and the poor peasants!”

– V.I. Lenin, “Letter to American Workers”

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Communist Party Alliance: Bourgeois Democracy and Proletarian Democracy

A talk given to the Stalin Society on 24th July 2005

By Wilf Dixon

This title embraces far more than I realised when I first thought to suggest making it the subject of a talk here at the Stalin Society. As communists we have a responsibility to explain to workers, class conscious youth and all those who instinctively and consciously reject the trappings of life in western bourgeois society and its political life, which they say is democratic and therefore the will of the majority, that even the most democratically elected Parliament cannot change the nature of the bourgeois state. I can only scratch the surface here but the writings of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin and Mao Tse-tung all carry articles on the nature of the state and class society which are the corner-stone of any revolutionary understanding of democracy. To help give some form to this talk, I have listed the following headings:-

1)      Democracy as a form of State rule.

2)      Universal Suffrage.

3)      Parliament and Elections.

4)      Opportunism and Parliamentarism.

5)      Successful participation in Parliament for revolutionary objectives.

6)      Proletarian democracy with reference to the Soviet Union and China.

7)      Bourgeois democracy and modern imperialism.

8)      Some points on elections and the current political climate.

Democracy as a form of state rule

The bourgeoisie have surrounded the word democracy with a halo as if it is the holiest of holy words. The social-democratic ‘tradition’ prevailing in Britain hardly ever subjects the meaning of the word to the scrutiny it needs. Although this may be changing since we hear it every day fall off the lips of George Bush and Tony Blair. But I don’t think this questioning is going very deep because the social-democrats satisfy themselves with merely describing Bush and Blair as hypocrites or inconsistent on this question. Which, of course, they are. However, what U.S. imperialism seems to have discovered is that it has enough wealth and power that it can in many situations at the present time promote individuals, buy a bandwagon of raz-ma-taz and build a movement for optimistic change which can persuade enough people to vote for whoever. This has worked particularly in Poland, Eastern Europe generally and parts of the old Soviet Union.

‘Democracy’ needs to be stripped of the humbug that surrounds the word. Before the emergence of classes and the consequent emergence of the state which comes into being as a product of the irreconcilable nature of class contradictions in class society, that is in order that the ruling class can hold down the subject class, there would undoubtedly have been contradictions among the people of the gens and tribes. Contradictions that may have lead to violence. Almost certainly between contending tribes. There would also have been discussion and consultation to handle disputes within the tribes and families of whatever form with the elders holding particular authority. Engels’ brilliant work on the ‘Origin of the family Private Property and the State’, needs to be read and re-read to get an adequate grasp of this subject. ‘Democracy’, is not “allowing people to have their say” as it is commonly understood to mean. Democracy is a form of state. The word emerged to describe a form of slave state in Greece and Rome. The franchise did not extend to the slaves. Nor would any thinking person reasonably expect slaves, who are merely the property of their owners, to have a vote. I make this point to paint a more vivid picture of ‘democracy’ being a class question. A class question which is obscured under the rule of the bourgeoisie which came to power waving the banner of general freedom and democracy. However, my knowledge of Greece and Rome is scanty and not a subject of detailed discussion here. But I have no doubt that there are people here who can speak in depth on this subject. Democracy is a class question and always has been. It can be nothing else.

Universal Suffrage

It seems that there were democratic forms of the state in Rome and Greece based on the number of slaves owned. Serfdom and feudalism under which land ownership is the basis of wealth of the ruling class of feudal lords, replaced slavery and the land tillers were no longer owned directly by their masters. However, by virtue of his landlessness the serf and later the peasant was inextricably tied to his master having to work increasingly longer on his lord’s land as payment for living and tilling for himself on the Lords land. There was no vote or representative body for the peasants except in as much as they could petition their lord or even the King or his ministers against grievances. Certainly, they had no representatives in Parliaments that may be called by the King in order to raise money or taxes. Here I am not attempting a detailed study of life in the shires, which in some respects may have allowed more freedom to influence the decisions of local dignitaries. I don’t know. It is worth thinking about. However, it occurs to me that in the era of the rule of finance capital the mass of the population are more powerless today under conditions of fully consummated and decaying bourgeois rule than they have ever been. Powerlessness manifests in many forms. I recently read an article drawing attention to the fact that it is common for people in modern bourgeois Britain to be attacked and relieved of their possessions while people stand-by and say or do nothing. Two aspects of powerlessness are suggested here. The attacked individual may on the one hand meekly give up his possessions having no trust that others would help him if he or she resisted. People nearby, on the other hand, reveal their own sense of powerlessness and fear in failing to intervene. I have the feeling that this kind of thing is a product of individualist atomised western bourgeois society which, of course, could not be tolerated in socialist society but it is also unlikely to have existed in medieval society except where the attacker was the local lord or one of his flunkies. It is common for individuals to be attacked in full view of others without anybody intervening. The proletariat is certainly alienated from the final product of its labour more so under capitalism than ever before or in former stages of development of human economic activity. But this alienation alone does not explain the very real sense of powerlessness that prevails in modern imperialist Britain.

However, I must not digress too much from the subject before us today. The distinguishing feature of the present day parliamentary democracies of the developed capitalist west is that suffrage has been extended to the whole adult population. Universal Suffrage is comparatively recent. In Britain even the Levellers and also the Diggers although I am not completely sure on the latter; who were the most revolutionary wing of Cromwell’s army, called for universal male suffrage. In Britain, women were ‘granted’ the vote in 1929. Before that, only women of certain property and independent means were ‘given’ the vote. The idea was that in order to have the right to vote, one had to have a stake in the system. The propertyless have always been despised and mistrusted. I would be interested to have a class breakdown of the near 40% of the population who didn’t vote at the last election.

So what do we say about universal suffrage? Does it change the character of elections in a bourgeois republic? In the sense that universal suffrage cannot change the nature of the state in a bourgeois republic, no. Parliaments elected by universal suffrage are acceptable to the ruling bourgeoisie. But in the sense that at certain times it is possible for the working class to utilise and gather strength through participation in parliamentary elections, it does. In State and Revolution, Lenin said that Engels regarded universal suffrage as a measure of the maturity of the proletariat. In an introduction to Marx’s Class Struggle in France, Engels speaks at length regarding the successes of participation in Parliament in Germany as against street fighting at a time when the proletariat couldn’t hope to match the weapons technology of the army and or when the loyalty of the troops to their commanders could be guaranteed. I’ll quote from pages 659 to 667 of my volume of selected works:-

 “Thanks to the intelligent use which the German workers made of the universal suffrage introduced in 1866, the astonishing growth of the party is made plain to all the world by incontestable figures….Then came recognition of this advance by high authority in the shape of the Anti-Socialist Law…..

 “…the German workers rendered a second great service to their cause in addition to the first, a service performed by their mere existence as the strongest, best disciplined and most rapidly growing  Socialist Party, They supplied their comrades in all countries with a new weapon, and one of the sharpest, when they showed them  how to make use of universal suffrage.

 “With this successful utilisation of universal suffrage, however, an  entirely new method of proletarian struggle came into operation, and this method quickly developed further. It was found that the state  institutions, in which the rule of the bourgeoisie is organised, offer the working class still further opportunities to fight these very state institutions. The workers took part in elections to particular Diets, to municipal councils and to trades courts; they contested with the bourgeoisie every post in the occupation of which a sufficient part of the proletariat had a say. And so it happened that the bourgeoisie and the government came to be much more afraid of the legal than of the  illegal action of the worker’ party, of the results of elections than of those of rebellion.

 “For here, too, the conditions of the struggle had essentially changed. rebellion in the old style, street fighting with barricades which decided the issue everywhere up to 1848, was to a considerable extent obsolete.

 It is important to remember that this introduction was written in 1894 and published in 1895. But there is also an interesting remark referring to France and Spain on page 659 which I will read now:-

 ‘There had long been universal suffrage in France, but it had fallen into disrepute through the misuse to which the Bonapartist government had put it. After the Commune there was no workers’ party to make use of it. It had also existed in Spain since the republic, but in Spain boycott of elections was ever the rule of all serious opposition parties. The experience of the Swiss with universal suffrage was also anything but encouraging for workers’ party. The revolutionary workers of the Latin countries had been wont to regard the suffrage as a snare, as an instrument of Government trickery.

Engels is not saying that boycott is incorrect in the case of Spain, although in the context of his points regarding participation in parliament giving the opportunity for the working class to accumulate strength as in the case of Germany, he may be advising the Spanish or indeed the revolutionary workers of the Latin countries in general to learn from the German example. Be that as it may, the quote indicates to me that Engels regards intelligent boycott of elections as well as intelligent participation as both valid. Let us also note from here, though, that this period in which the German social-democrats utilised the Bundestag and came to be regarded as the leading Party of the 2nd International continued until the outbreak of the First World War. It was the period of peaceful development of the working class movement in the imperialist countries which had blunted its revolutionary will and fostered opportunism such that the majority of the Parties of the 2nd International supported their own imperialist bourgeoisie in a predatory imperialist war.

Parliament and Elections

As I pointed out earlier, Engels in an introduction to Marx’s Class Struggle in France speaks at length on the importance of utilising Parliament in order to assist the working class in gaining strength. He even says that at a time when confronting the bourgeoisie at the barricades brings defeat, it is preferable or that participation in Parliament has brought more success than erecting the barricades. So what is the point at issue here? The point at issue is the question what is to be gained from participation in parliamentary elections. By participation we are, of course, talking about putting up candidates. I am going to come back to this question because it is an important practical one about which we cannot allow ourselves to be satisfied with the general view alone. A general view which seems to have reduced the question of participation in bourgeoise elections and Parliaments to one of ‘it is a good thing’, therefore, we must do it. I blame opportunism and social-democratic prejudices for such shallowness. It is absolutely essential for communists, in imperialist Britain especially, where opportunism prevails in the workers’ and revolutionary workers’ organisations and legality and legalism prevails, to expose Parliament as an instrument of bourgeois class rule.

In ‘State and Revolution’, page 53 of the Chinese edition, under the heading ‘Abolition of Parliamentarism’, Lenin first quotes Marx writing of the Paris Commune:-

‘The Commune,’ Marx wrote, ‘was to be a working not a parliamentary, body, executive and legislative at the same time….’

‘….instead of deciding once in three or six years which member of the ruling class was to represent and repress (ver- und zertreten) the people in Parliament, universal suffrage was to serve the people,constituted in Communes, as individual suffrage serves every other employer in the search for the workers, foremen and bookkeepers for his business’.

Revisionism in Britain gave us the British Road to Socialism and the main argument against the so-called peaceful road to socialism centres around the nature of the state. And so it should. But what about the kind of democracy the proletariat itself needs in order to exercise its power. The commune, and of course later the soviet, must be executive and legislative at the same time. It must be a practical body and to be a practical body it must be close to the masses in the factories and workplaces. This is a new form of political power. In fact it is not political power in the sense we have come to know it. That is the bourgeois sense of being in or out of ‘office’

It is worth noting here that the adoption of the British Road to Socialism also meant the CPGB switching from factory to constituency organisation. The two forms of organisation quite starkly outline the difference between bourgeois and proletarian democracy.

The bourgeois Parliament is part of the state apparatus of a bourgeois democratic republic or monarchy. I will try and make some points on why the proletariat does not need a Parliament. I am of course talking about a proletariat that holds power. The main aspect of this is connected with some important questions of Marxism on the nature of the state.

The state came into being with the emergence of classes and class contradictions. As such it is not a neutral body but an organ of repression. What distinguishes the bourgeois democratic republic from the feudal or slave states is the existence of a parliament elected by universal adult suffrage with the power to legislate Government policy and create laws and statutes. As the argument goes, because the Parliament is elected, it therefore expresses the will of the majority or the popular will. Hence, Parliament is said to be not an expression of class rule but a prize which parties expressing the interests of the classes they represent should seek to win. Unfortunately, there are two things which prevent the bourgeois parliament from becoming the expression of the will of the oppressed masses. One is that the Parliament once elected, with the ruling party having the majority of seats, it is immovable until the next election and its members can be bought by the high salary that goes with being an M.P and the thousands of threads that tie the most freely elected Parliament to the economic power of the bourgeoisie. The other is that real power resides in the executive authority of the bureaucracy, civil service, police and standing army. Parliaments come and go, but this powerful body, handpicked for its loyalty to the existing social order, cannot be removed by the legislative assembly. Should a Party of the working class and oppressed masses gain power and begin to meddle with the sacred property rights of the ruling class never mind begin to dispossess them of their wealth and privileges, there is always the standing army to disperse the Parliament and murder the peoples’ leaders.

In the absence of such a standing army, Marx and Engels were prepared to consider the theoretical possibility of the proletariat winning a majority of Parliamentary seats and using this power to buy out, rest by degrees from the bourgeoisie their power and thus gain power for the proletariat. England apparently, was such a country in the mid nineteenth century. Be that as it may, there is no example in history where a class holding power has given up that power without a fierce and violent struggle. Marx and Engels admitted of this theoretical possibility but only a charlatan and a bourgeois trickster would attempt to make such a consideration the main plank of a Marxist understanding on the proletariat’s struggle for socialism.

Based on the experience of the Paris Commune Marx and Engels introduced one amendment to the Communist Manifesto:-

‘‘One thing especially was proved by the Commune, viz., that ‘the working class cannot simply lay hold of the ready-made state machinery, and wield it for its own purposes.’’ (quoted by Lenin page 43 of State and Revolution Chinese edition).

The point is not to lay hold of the ready made state machine of the bourgeoise,

But to smash it and replace it with the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat organised in communes or soviets. The bureaucratic state must be smashed. That is the power of the bourgeoisie in the military bureaucratic state apparatus of repression and coercion, replaced by the armed proletariat or a peoples’ militia. The right of the proletariat to bear arms in order to exercise its power as a class is the most important expression of peoples’ democracy. Lenin quoting, Marx at length, explains in detail, contrasting anarchism with Marxism on the question of the state, that the bureaucracy will not disappear immediately. However, the communes and later the soviets will be working bodies expressing the needs in production and life of the working masses and therefore not requiring the bureaucratic apparatus of repression of the bourgeois state machine. These communes will have their authority centralised through a national body made up of representatives of the communes with the commune having right of recall of its representatives and criticism of their activities. This is democracy and centralism in a new kind of proletarian state, which is not a state in the strictest sense. It is a state in transition expressing the power and will of the formerly oppressed masses. With the securing of that power, and the creation of a new society and new morality and relations between people in that nation and internationally, the state begins to whither away and the day will come as stated in the Communist Manifesto when the state is a thing of the past consigned to the museum of history along with other antiquities like the spinning wheel and the bronze axe

Opportunism and Parliamentarism

The Oxford dictionary definition of opportunism is the ‘adaptation of policy to circumstances regardless of principle’. I have always understand it to mean and preferred the more precise definition from a Marxist-Leninist perspective of it meaning the sacrifice of long term aims for short term gains. Opportunism can be expressed in terms of any ideology but with regard to the subject we are dealing with today, Marxist Leninists or even those who call themselves Marxists and are reluctant to also call themselves Leninists, pride themselves that their participation is revolutionary, while that of the reformist parties is not. It is not good enough to make such assumptions because opportunism is a slippery animal and all practical experience of participation in parliamentary election campaigns must be carefully assessed and summed up as to its successes and failings in furthering the long term interests of educating and organising the revolutionary proletariat.

Of course, we are not here to lecture the Labour Party on how to utilise Parliament. The New Labour Party signalled to the bourgeoisie that it is a fully consummated bourgeois party of the American ‘democrat’ type when it abandoned clause four. Its only fig leaf making it possible for some ‘left’ representatives of the working class to justify their membership of the Labour Party. Tony Blair has done the working class movement a favour by removing this fig leaf. By becoming the preferred ruling Party for the British ruling class, New Labour can be perceived as stronger. But it is in fact weaker and the fact that it is becoming increasingly exposed as a Party of imperialism makes it of less use to the British ruling class. The more intelligent representatives of British imperialism understand only too well the roll that reformism and illusions among the working class in its reformist representatives plays in bolstering the rule of the bourgeoisie.

Hence the emergence of new reformist parties and coalitions. The formation of the SLP was an important development which I welcomed along with Arthur Scargill leaving the Labour Party and becoming a potential focus for rallying class conscious workers with a base in the working class of this country. Unfortunately, Arthur Scargill is only one man. A man of tremendous courage and ability to lead the working class in struggle and stand up to the class enemy. But one man none-the-less who, it has to be said, must have illusions in social democracy and Parliament. Or, he sacrifices the long term aim of expropriation of the bourgeoisie in favour of winning reforms through Parliament. None of this can I speak confidently about because when dealing with a man of Arthur Scargill’s stature in the history of working class struggle in Britain, I think it is essential to be concrete. The work needs to be done in summing up the practice of the SLP and there are people in this room better able to do it than me. However, the SLP did not develop as I hoped. The Party was from the outset torn to pieces by the Trotskyites who worked in their usual way in its various committees. Something that Arthur Scargill showed his political maturity in fighting. But for all this the SLP remained trapped within the social-democratic perspectives that are peculiar to the British working class movement. That is why it is fair to say that the SLP was trying to recapture or restore the Old Labour Party. I believe that Scargill wanted to build a Party which was internationalist and rooted in the everyday struggle of working people in this country. But he remains a prisoner of his own social-democratic illusions and prejudices. Naming the SLP committees Constituency SLP’s shows clearly the Parliamentary perspective that the SLP had and has.

I believe that the failure of the SLP is bound up with the fact that the masses of this country are becoming increasingly disillusioned with Parliament and instinctively mistrust those who say vote for my Party and we will do whatever. Scargill losing to Mandelson in County Durham upset me at the time and I believe that of all election campaigns it should be subject to searching analysis. That a crook and spinner like Mandelson can win without the working class movement having gained anything such as a stronger local organisation cannot be just passed over as ‘we did it so it must have had some positive effects’.

Successful Participation in Parliament for Revolutionary Objectives

It is necessary to grasp that participation or non-participation in Parliamentary elections and Parliament must not be made, or seen to be made an objective in itself, that it is a question that needs to be studied anew at every juncture and judged from the standpoint of the interests of the class struggle of the proletariat. We have examples of stands taken by revolutionary parties towards elections and Parliament. The Bolsheviks had a policy of boycott of elections to a Duma hastily convened by the Tsar when the 1905-7 revolution was still on the ascendancy. Lenin commended those deputies who were prepared to go to prison rather than vote for war credits at the beginning of the lst World War. Such a picture would do a great deal to raise the consciousness of the proletariat and rally its vanguard behind the leadership of the communists.

I have spoken of the period after the Paris Commune when the German social-democrats utilised participation in Parliament in a comparatively peaceful period to help the German working class gather strength at a time of anti-socialist laws. As I have suggested this whole period between 1871 and the outbreak of World War 1 is a time when the working class of Europe with the exception of Russia was able to wring concessions and reforms. It was a period which nurtured opportunism, a more powerful weapon, used to tame the working class movement, than banning orders and repression. The super-profits looted from the colonies allowed the monopoly capitalist class to set aside funds for the purpose of buying off key sections of the working class whose reformist illusions came to dominate the legal and ‘respectable’ social democratic organisations of the working class.

I am hoping the discussion will throw up examples where revolutionary parties have utilised Parliament to promote and strengthen a mass movement. In Britain, I think the best examples lie not with the communists, although I am aware of the speeches made by Willie Gallagher and Saklatvala before him. In Britain, Revolutionary politics are seldom far from the issue of Ireland and I am thinking of the use made by Sinn Fein of Parliament while refusing to take the oath and therefore their seats. But the best example is the slogan of the ballot box and the gun and Bobby Sands’ brilliant victory while on hunger strike in prison. Sinn Fein and the IRA were able to arrive at these tactics from the point of view of non-participation in terms of not taking your seat in a Parliament of the colonial master that required all MPs to take an oath of allegiance to the Queen. Surely communist representatives of a Party firmly rooted and based on the struggle of the workers and oppressed peoples can devise tactics to expose the fraud of bourgeois democracy and the bourgeois parliament based on non-participation as well as participation.

For Marxist-Leninists, the crux of the issue is the utilising of Parliament to promote and strengthen the struggle of the working class and oppressed people. For the reformists and opportunists, obtaining seats in Parliament is the prize itself. I can’t speak for anybody else here, but when George Galloway was elected in Bethnal Green and Bow on a strong platform of opposition to the war in Iraq I was pleased. This punctured the arrogance of the Blairites and it was a measure of the political maturity of the people of that area. It was also heart-warming to see him show courage and challenge the lies of the British and American imperialists which are spewed out from the bourgeois media, at that so-called American senatorial enquiry. A modern day house of un-American activities. A lot of people were delighted to see and hear Galloway turn the tables. The Americans will be a bit more careful before they try and do Blair another favour that helps him deal with his domestic politics. We are yet to see if Galloway has the intelligence courage and will to use his seat in Parliament to strengthen the movement against British and American expansionism. This is a double-edged thing. If he does then it must be judged concretely. Is he working to strengthen the popular movement or just to make a name for himself and become just another tail demanding that he wag the dog? In other words promoting new illusions that returning more Respect MP’s is the answer. He is not a communist and I doubt that he will submit himself to criticism and censure by his ‘party’, if indeed we can call his rag-bag of followers a Party at all. ‘Respect’ has no definite program and it is making a virtue of being all things to all men. The real test of whether Galloway is a true representative of the masses is whether he considers his position more important than the popular movement and is he prepared to submit himself to the interests of the peoples’ struggle against imperialism and imperialist war.

Proletarian democracy with particular reference to the Soviet Union and China

Before dealing with this question it is important to re-cap on the main distinctions between bourgeois and proletarian democracy. All bourgeois parliaments, if indeed they are not merely a talking shop, are separated from the executive authority, the bureaucracy, the army of civil servants charged with the responsibility of carrying out the legislation passed by Parliament. This bureaucracy is part of the bourgeois state machine and is a bulwark of bourgeois power. The cornerstone of proletarian power, the commune or the soviet, is both legislative and executive at the same time. Before the October revolution decided the issue of the ascendancy of the workers and peasants, there existed what Lenin described as a form of duel power. Kerensky’s provisional government was issuing orders and laws. But as is described in John Read’s ‘Ten Days that Shook the World’, if you wanted to know something or have something done you had to go to the Soviets or workers and soldiers committees. Exactly so, the power of the workers and peasants in the Soviets was executive and legislative at the same time.

This had to be legally formalised in Soviet law. However, there was the issue of the Constituent Assembly. The demand for a Constituent Assembly in conditions of the Tsarist autocracy was a progressive and democratic demand. However, the Provisional Government of Kerensky and supported by the Socialist Revolutionaries had repeatedly postponed elections for a Constituent Assembly because they wished to continue participation in the predatory imperialist war. It is not surprising, however, that the classes and Parties that had been overthrown by the November 7th revolution should become as zealous in their demands for elections to a constituent assembly as they were in post-poning it previously.

I am going to quote extensively on this question of the Constituent Assembly from Andrew Rothstein’s excellent book ‘A History of the U.S.S.R’, pages 56-57.

‘The intention of the Bolsheviks – with which the Left Socialist revolutionaries agreed – was to induce the Constituent Assembly peacefully to accept the basic decrees of the November revolution, and to regard its own principal function as ‘the general elaboration of the fundamental principles of the socialist transformation of society’. For this purpose a ‘Declaration of Rights of the Working and exploited People’, embodying the decrees in question, was drawn up and adopted by the C.E.C. on January 16th. In order to give the bourgeois parties an opportunity to bring the composition of the assembly into greater conformity with the feeling of the masses, the C.E.C. had earlier (December, 4th) unanimously adopted a decree providing for the right to recall deputies and to hold new elections, where the local Soviets judged this expedient. But this procedure was not put into effect, in view of the turn of events when the time for opening the Constituent Assembly arrived.

‘This was on January 18th. By a large majority (roughly 60% to 40%) the Assembly rejected the Bolshevik proposal to elect the Left Socialist – Revolutionary leader, Maria Spiridinova, as President, and chose one of the principal anti-Soviet Politicians, Victor Chernov (leader of the Right S.R.s) instead. It refused even to discuss the Declaration of rights. First the Bolsheviks and then the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries retired from the Assembly in the course of the night (January 19th), after making it clear that the Assembly by its actions was taking the path of counter-revolution. At 4 am on January 19th the commander of the sailors guarding the Assembly told Chernov ‘it was time to go home, as the sailors were tired’: and twenty-four hours later the C.E.C. decreed the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly, as having ‘ruptured every link between itself and the Soviet Republic of Russia’ ‘It must be added that the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly attracted much more attention abroad than it did in Russia.‘On January 23rd the third All-Russian Congress of Soviets met in Petrograd and itself adopted the Declaration of Rights of the labouring and Exploited Masses. This document was embodied in all the subsequent Soviet Constitutions up to July 1936. With a second resolution, ‘On the Federal Institutions of the Russian Republic’, it represented the germ of the future Soviet constitutional structure.

Forgive me for extending this quote, but I think what follows reveals the essence of proletarian democracy which is important to grasp if we are not to fall victim to bourgeois democratic prejudices and cretinism.          

‘The Declaration proclaimed Russia to be a ‘Republic of Soviets of Workers, Soldiers and Peasants’ Deputies’, in which all authority was vested; and a ‘free union of free nations’. With the aim of suppressing all exploitation of man by man, the Declaration nationalised all land, forests, and mineral wealth without compensation, transferred all banks to the State, enacted that ‘work useful to the community shall be obligatory upon all’, and ratified the Soviet Government’s decrees establishing workmen’s control of industry and a Supreme Economic council, as a ‘first step’ towards nationalisation of industry and transport. It repudiated Tsarist debts, Tsarist secret treaties and the colonial policy of capitalism. It decreed the arming of the workers, the disarming of the propertied classes and their exclusion from the machinery of government. It proclaimed that Russia’s aim was a democratic peace, based on free self-determination of the nations. ‘……..Relations with Soviet Republics as they were formed, or with regions distinguished by national priorities, were to be regulated by the C.E.C. and the appropriate bodies in the territories concerned. The central authority was responsible only for measures applying to State as a whole. ‘All local affairs are decided solely by the local Soviets.’

I hope this has helped me draw out the essence of proletarian democracy. That is the real power to decide and act at grass roots or local level. The right of recall and criticism of representatives to the higher bodes. These rights were enshrined in the Soviet constitution. They were the essence of workers’ and peasants’ power, and what made the dictatorship of the proletariat strong and the soviet people able to defeat the class enemy within in order to consolidate the Soviet State. The movements to purge the party and state could not have been carried out just by orders from above. I must add that I mean movements to purge the Party and state of backward and counter-revolutionary elements. These movements required the active participation of the people and low-ranking Party members. Purges directed only from above must at least be ratified by the lower bodies and full explanations given. It is a matter of historical fact that the Kruschevite revisionists were able to seize power and transform the state and Party from being socialist and proletarian in character to one which gave free reign to a bourgeoisified strata of technocrats and state-functionaries. We have discussed in other talks, particularly on the question of Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR that it is probable that Stalin was preparing the ground for launching a new campaign of criticism and self-criticism which would have immediately had its echo at the lower levels and maybe would have transformed the fortunes of the revisionists from success into failure. It is certain that many Party leaders and state functionaries breathed a sigh of relief when they learned that they did not have to face investigation of their activities or justify their decisions and actions.

The fact that the combined military might of the 14 intervening powers nor the massive military machine assembled by Nazi Germany could overthrow the dictatorship of the proletariat in the USSR; yet a comparative handful of revisionist conspirators can succeed, is a matter for deep reflection. It was this that troubled Mao Tse-tung and led the Chinese Communists Party to launch its campaign to criticise modern revisionism and launch the Cultural Revolution. To my mind this movement failed in its objectives but there are some successes, if not just the operas and films that came out at this time. I believe this failure is rooted in the weak socialist economic base i.e. industrial base and consequently a weaker proletariat in relation to the peasantry. This may not have been so critical had Kruschev not stopped the aid so important to kick-start Chinese socialist construction.

Bourgeois democracy and modern imperialism

Even the most democratically elected Parliament is tied by a thousand threads to the interests of the bourgeoisie. Modern capitalism is not the economic system of the bourgeoisie on the rise i.e. when it was deemed historically to be a progressive class destroying the economic power of the feudal lords and liberating the productive forces from the shackles of feudalism. Modern capitalism is monopoly capitalism, which if one is to define imperialism, is the essence of imperialism. Monopoly capitalism is moribund capitalism, i.e. decaying capitalism. This is not to say that monopoly capitalism cannot make innovations or expand its economic power. This is clearly not the case.

The point is that monopoly capitalism strives for control and domination and not economic freedom. To this end particular monopolies may at one time advocate free trade in order to use market forces to oust their competitors and invade the markets of weaker economies with cheap goods in order to destroy indigenous industry, whilst at another or at the same time, erect trade barriers to exclude competitors.

Monopoly capitalism is in the business of destroying productive forces and propping up feudalism in order to keep oppressed nations dependent. Monopoly capitalism is in the business of destroying economic independence and the ability of nations and peoples to feed themselves in order to extract raw materials and enforce cash crops. The banks exact huge burdens of debt on the peoples and nations, which stifle any ability to rise above pauper and dependency status. Clearly this is a system of economic backwardness not progress. The striving for monopoly and the interests of imperialism cannot but characterise, i.e. be the main aspect of how we regard the Parliaments of the major capitalist countries. More than ever, do the politicians of all the bourgeois parties become the mouthpieces and tools of the interests of particular monopoly capitalist concerns not just the general interests of the monopoly capitalist class. Corruption is rife. In the thirties it was possible for there to be strong communist parties in the parliaments of France and Germany. Of course, in the case of the latter before the Nazis burnt down the Reichstag and unleashed the reign of terror. Also, it was possible in France for the popular front to gain huge success. But what of today? Money and wealth decide the competition between two overtly bourgeois parties in both Britain and America. In America, it seems impossible to even stand as a candidate without being or having the backing of multi-millionaires. It is this firmly entrenched system of tweedle-dum and tweedle-dee, which effectively disenfranchises the masses of the lowest strata of workers and oppressed peoples. It is also the economic power and wealth of imperialism which leads it to confidently advocate bourgeois democracy in areas where it seeks to expand. Eastern Europe, Africa and certain other selected areas for example.

All this being the case, it is essential that communists must base themselves on the struggle for the class and political interests of the workers and oppressed peoples and not use precious resources in election campaigns we cannot win or advance the interests of the working class. This has to be judged concretely but putting up candidates when the deposit is certain to be lost is a waist of time. That money can be used in exposing the fraud of bourgeois elections and trying to reach those who instinctively reject the whole rotten system.

Some points on and the current political climate

The title of this talk may seem somewhat academic and divorced from the conditions currently facing us in Britain today. But I think not. While the state is becoming more repressive and bourgeois democratic rights are being removed and undermined, ostensibly to give the police powers to deal with acts of terrorism, it is being made more difficult for communists who stay loyal to the principles of Marxism Leninism to agitate and propagandise among workers and oppressed peoples. This is the bigger prize for modern imperialist Britain allied to the most aggressive and bellicose imperialist power of today, U.S. imperialism. In this situation, it is essential for communists and all progressive people to strike deep roots among the masses. This is one point, perhaps the main point if we are to survive.

The second point, is that if it is made illegal to make communist propaganda on the grounds that it is indirectly aiding ‘terrorism’, communists are going to be compelled to combine or find legal and illegal ways of agitating and organising among the masses. While deep roots among the masses would be primary in this situation, election campaigns would take on a new significance allowing communists a legal platform for challenging the ruling monopoly capitalist class and its lackeys. Parliamentary privilege allows MP’s to speak without censure to a certain extent. So it would be essential to demand that any successful candidate claiming to represent the workers or oppressed peoples use that privilege to speak out against British imperialism and support the just struggles against imperialism and imperialist war throughout the world. I will stop here and I hope this introduction will stimulate discussion and help deepen our understanding on the questions raised. But to Sum up I would like to draw attention to the following:-

  • The imperialists have made it essential that we deal with the question of the class nature of democracy and expose the fraud of bourgeois democracy.
  • Proletarian democracy empowers the masses
  • Participation or non-participation in parliamentary elections must be judged concretely. I favour non-participation and campaigns to boycott or spoil ballot papers at the present time in order to give full reign to revolutionary agitation and propaganda and aid reaching the most revolutionary and class conscious. Except where there is a possibility of success or the masses demand that we stand.
  • Successful candidates should be under the strict control of the organisation they represent and give up a proportion of their income as an MP to the party they represent, retaining what is needed for a modest life style. Their income should be comparable to the income gained by unionised workers in the basic industries of the country.
  • Failure to live up to the people’s hopes must be openly criticised. This will educate the people that communist representatives strive to be tribunes of the people or they lose the right to speak in their name.
  • Above everything, communists must be like fish in water with the masses and strike deep roots among the masses, because that is where our power and strength lies.  

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia on Napoleon Bonaparte

Napoleon I

(Napoleon Bonaparte). Born Aug. 15, 1769, in Ajaccio, Corsica; died May 5, 1821, on the island of St. Helena. French statesman and general. First consul of the French Republic (1799–1804); emperor (1804–14 and March-June 1815).

Napoleon was the son of Carlo Buonaparte, a Corsican noble and lawyer of modest means. At the age of ten he was sent to the College d’Autun (France) and later in the same year (1779) was transferred to the military school at Brienne, where he was supported by a government stipend. In 1784 he graduated from Brienne and went to the Ecole Militaire in Paris (1784–85). He entered the army in October 1785 as a second lieutenant of artillery. Brought up on the progressive ideas of the French Enlightenment, Bonaparte, a follower of J.-J. Rousseau and G.-T. Raynal, greeted the Great French Revolution with enthusiasm. In 1792 he became a member of the Jacobin club. At this point in his career he was active primarily on Corsica, where he came into conflict with Corsican separatists led by Paoli. In 1793 he was forced to flee from Corsica. During the republican army’s long unsuccessful siege of Toulon, which had been seized by monarchist rebels and British interventionists, Bonaparte proposed a plan for capturing the city. On Dec. 17, 1793, Toulon was taken by storm. The 24-year-old Captain Bonaparte was promoted to the rank of brigadier general for his role in the capture of the city. This marked the beginning of his precipitous rise to power. Because of his friendship with A. de Robespierre, Napoleon fell from grace for a short time and was even arrested during the Thermidorian reaction. But he soon drew attention to himself again, this time in Paris, by his energy and decisiveness in suppressing the monarchist revolt of 13 Vendémiaire (Oct. 5), 1795. Subsequently, he was appointed commander of the Paris garrison and, in 1796, commander in chief of an army that had been created for operations in Italy.

The Italian campaign of 1796–97 revealed Bonaparte’s military talent and his understanding of the social aspect of war, for he attempted to raise antifeudal forces against powerful Austria and to obtain for France an ally in the Italian national liberation movement. Although the first Italian campaign was accompanied by requisitions and the plundering of the countryside, its progressive nature won the French army the support of the Italian people. The Treaty of Campo Formio (1797) revealed Napoleon’s diplomatic capabilities. In Napoleon’s subsequent military campaigns his taste for conquest became stronger.

Returning to Paris in triumph, Napoleon easily persuaded the Directory to pass a resolution organizing a campaign for the conquest of Egypt. Despite Napoleon’s victories in a number of battles, the Egyptian campaign (1798–1801) was doomed to defeat after the British destroyed the French fleet at Aboukir, cutting off the French army in Egypt from France, and after the French undertook an unsuccessful campaign in Syria. On the pretext of news that had reached him concerning the defeat of the Directory’s army and the victories of A. V. Suvorov, Napoleon arbitrarily left the expeditionary army and returned to Paris in October 1799, at the peak of the crisis of the Directory. The weakness of the Directory and its constant vacillations, which impelled the bourgeoisie to seek a “firm authority,” contributed to Napoleon’s success in carrying out his personally ambitious plans. Relying on influential circles of the bourgeoisie, he staged a coup d’etat on Nov. 9–10, 1799 (18–19 Brumaire, Year VIII), establishing a consulate under which he, in fact (although not immediately), held full authority.

This dictatorial power, which was concealed until 1804 by a “screen” of republicanism, was exercised by Napoleon for the defense of the interests of the bourgeoisie and rich peasants and, on the whole, for the strengthening of the bourgeois state. He abolished national representation, even in the restricted form that had survived under the Directory, and he did away with electoral self-government, replacing it with a bureaucratic police system of prefects, mayors, and subordinate officials, all of whom were appointed by the central government. He also eliminated the free press, and he suppressed other vestiges of the Revolution’s democratic conquests. In 1801 he concluded a concordat with the pope, thus guaranteeing himself the support of the Roman Catholic Church. The civil, commercial, and criminal codes drawn up under his supervision established the legal norms for a bourgeois society.

Strengthening and protecting the principal economic gains of the bourgeois revolution, particularly the promulgated redistribution of property, Napoleon decisively suppressed attempts from the left as well as from the right to change the new regime. He dealt blows to both the Jacobins and the militant royalists. His regime’s economic policy concentrated on developing industry and trade. In 1800 the Bank of France was founded. Industry enjoyed Napoleon’s special protection, because he viewed industrial development as a means of strengthening the power of the state. Fearing disturbances by the workers, Napoleon tried to avert them by organizing public works projects to prevent unemployment and by retaining the Le Chapelier Law (1791), which prohibited workers from forming associations. In addition, a decree issued in 1803 obliged the workers to carry passbooks, or labor permits.

In 1802, Napoleon had himself appointed consul for life, and in 1804 he was proclaimed emperor. To strengthen the new bourgeois monarchy and give it superficial splendor, he created a new imperial nobility and a luxurious imperial court. After divorcing his first wife, Josephine, in 1810, he married Marie Louise, the daughter of the Austrian emperor Francis I.

Napoleon I owed his extraordinary fame to his victorious wars against the coalition powers; to his brilliant victories at Marengo (1800), Austerlitz (1805), Jena and Auerstadt (1806), and Wa-gram (1809); to the enormous expansion of the Empire; and to his own transformation from emperor of France into de facto ruler of Central Europe and all of Western Europe, excluding Great Britain. The destiny of Napoleon I, who had achieved unprecedented power in only ten years and who had compelled the monarchs of Europe to reckon with his will, seemed inexplicable to many of his contemporaries and gave rise to various Napoleonic legends. A man of enormous personal endowments, with an exceptional capacity for work, a powerful, sober mind, and an unbending will, he was ruthless in attaining his objectives. Napoleon I was an outstanding representative of the young, rising bourgeoisie, the most complete embodiment of its strong points, as well as of its vices and shortcomings—aggressiveness, profit seeking, and adventurism.

In the art of war Napoleon I developed and perfected the innovations of the armies of revolutionary France. His chief merit was his ability to find the most effective tactical and strategic use for vast armed masses for that time. The emergence of the mass army had been made possible by the Revolution. Napoleon proved himself a master of strategy and of the tactics of maneuver. When fighting against a numerically superior foe, he endeavored to disperse the enemy’s forces and destroy them unit by unit. In such situations his principle was to “compensate for numerical weakness by rapidity of movements.” On the march he led his troops in dispersed order but with such control that they could be assembled at the necessary moment at any point. This was the origin of the principle of “moving separately but fighting together.” Napoleon I perfected a new maneuver using the column in conjunction with an extended order and based on the precise interaction of different types of troops. He made extensive use of the rapid maneuver to establish superiority in decisive axes, and he knew how to make surprise attacks, how to carry out turning and enveloping movements, and how to augment his forces at decisive sectors during a battle. Considering the destruction of the enemy’s forces to be the principal strategic goal, he always tried to take the strategic initiative. His chief method of routing an enemy was to give general battle, and he always endeavored to exploit the success achieved in general battle by organizing a pressing pursuit of the enemy.

Napoleon I gave broad opportunities for initiative to the commanders of units and groups. He knew how to discover and promote capable, talented people. However, the sudden rise of Napoleonic France and the victories of French arms are attributable less to the personal qualities of Napoleon I and his marshals than to the fact that in its clash with feudal absolutist Europe, Napoleonic France represented the historically more progressive bourgeois social system. Militarily, this assertion is supported by the unquestionable superiority of Napoleon I’s generalship to the backward, routine strategy and tactics of the armies of feudal Europe. In addition, the bourgeois system of social relations that was boldly introduced throughout Western Europe by Napoleonic legislation was superior to the backward, feudal patriarchal social relations.

Nevertheless, the Napoleonic wars gradually lost the progressive elements that had characterized them even though they were wars of conquest. They became purely predatory wars. Consequently, Napoleon’s personal qualities and efforts were doomed to failure. His powerlessness against the forces of history was revealed for the first time during the war in Spain (1808), when the people rose up against the French invaders. It was revealed again and fully confirmed by the campaign of 1812 in Russia, the consequences of which were catastrophic for the Napoleonic Empire.

As Napoleon himself acknowledged, the war against Russia was a fatal error. The first French statesman to comprehend the significance for France of an alliance with Russia, he directed his efforts toward attaining this goal. In negotiations with Paul I he came very close to concluding an alliance, but the assassination of the Russian emperor in March 1801 postponed this possibility for a long time. The Tilsit negotiations with Alexander I (1807) led to the creation of a Franco-Russian alliance that was very highly valued by Napoleon. However, at the time of the Erfurt meeting between the French and Russian emperors (1808), Franco-Russian clashes sharpened, particularly over the continental blockade and the Polish question. Napoleon I’s decision to go to war against Russia is evidence that, blinded by his successes and by his attempt to establish his rule over Europe, he had begun to lose the sense of reality that had once been his inherent strength.

The Patriotic War of 1812 destroyed Napoleon I’s Grand Army and gave great impetus to the national liberation struggle against the Napoleonic yoke in Europe. In the campaign of 1813, Napoleon was compelled to fight against the armies of the anti-Napoleonic coalition and against an unbreakable force—the insurgent peoples of Europe. Under these conditions, his defeat was inevitable. It was sealed by the allied entry into Paris in March 1814. Napoleon I was forced to abdicate on Apr. 6, 1814. The victorious allies allowed him to retain the title of “emperor” and gave him the island of Elba as a possession.

Napoleon I’s landing in France (Mar. 1, 1815) and the Hundred Days (Mar. 20-June 22, 1815) of his second reign demonstrated not only his talent but also, to a greater degree than any previous event in his career, the importance of the social forces supporting him. His unparalleled “conquest” of France in three weeks and without a single shot was possible only because the people considered him capable of expelling the Bourbons and other aristocrats from France. Napoleon I’s tragedy lay in his failure to rely fully on the people who supported him. This led to his defeat at Waterloo and to his second abdication (June 22, 1815). Exiled to the island of St. Helena, he died six years later, a prisoner of the British. In 1840 his remains were brought to Paris and entombed at the Hotel des Invalides.

WORKS

Corresponda nee publ. par ordre de L ’Empereur Napoleon III. . . , 32 vols. Paris, 1858–70.
Lettres inédites …. 2 vols. Paris, 1897.
Correspondance inédite. . . , 3 vols. Paris, 1912–13.
In Russian translation:
Izbr. proizv. Moscow, 1956.

REFERENCES

Marx, K., and F. Engels. Soch. 2nd ed., vol. 1, p. 374; vol. 2, p. 563; vol. 3, p. 184; vol. 7, pp. 510–13; vol. 11, pp. 134–37; vol. 14, pp. 38, 309–10, 322–23, 377; vol. 22, p. 30.
Marx, K., and F. Engels. Izbr. pis’ma. Moscow, 1953.
Engels, F. Izbr. voen. proizvedeniia. Moscow, 1956. (See Index of Names.)
Lenin, V. I. Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 30, pp. 5–6; vol. 34, p. 83; vol. 35, pp. 382–83.
Tarle, E. V. “Napoleon.” Soch., vol. 7. Moscow, 1959.
Manfred, A. Z. Napoleon Bonapart. Moscow, 1971.
Levitskii, N. A. Polkovodcheskoe iskusstvo Napoleona. Moscow, 1938.
Sorel, A. Evropa i frantsuzskaia revoliutsiia, vols. 5–8. St. Petersburg, 1906–08. (Translated from French.)
Vandal, A. Vozvyshenie Bonaparta. St. Petersburg, 1905. (Translated from French.)
Lefebvre, G. Napoléon. Paris, 1935.
Madelin, L. Histoire de Consultat et del’Empire, 16 vols. Paris, 1932–54.

A. Z. MANFRED

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

100th Anniversary of the February Bourgeois-democratic Revolution in Russia

Draft Theses, March 4 (17), 1917

Information reaching Zurich from Russia at this moment, March 17, 1917 [1], is so scanty, and events in our country are developing so rapidly, that any judgement of the situation must of needs be very cautious.

Yesterday’s dispatches indicated that the tsar had already abdicated and that the new, Octobrist-Cadet government [2] had already made an agreement with other representatives of the Romanov dynasty. Today there are reports from England that the tsar has not yet abdicated, and that his whereabouts are unknown. This suggests that he is trying to put up resistance, organise a party, perhaps even an armed force, in an attempt to restore the monarchy. If he succeeds in fleeing from Russia or winning over part of the armed forces, the tsar might, to mislead the people, issue a manifesto announcing immediate conclusion of a separate peace with Germany!

That being the position, the proletariat’s task is a pretty complex one. There can be no doubt that it must organise itself in the most efficient way, rally all its forces, arm, strengthen and extend its alliance with all sections of the working masses of town and country in order to put up a stubborn resistance to tsarist reaction and crush the tsarist monarchy once and for all.

Another factor to bear in mind is that the new government that has seized power in St. Petersburg, or, more correctly, wrested it from the proletariat, which has waged a victorious, heroic and fierce struggle, consists of liberal bourgeois and landlords whose lead is being followed by Kerensky, the spokesman of the democratic peasants and, possibly, of that part of the workers who have forgotten their internationalism and have been led on to the bourgeois path. The new government is composed of avowed advocates and sup porters of the imperialist war with Germany, i.e., a war in alliance with the English and French imperialist governments, a war for the plunder and conquest of foreign lands—Armenia, Galicia, Constantinople, etc.

The new government cannot give the peoples of Russia (and the nations tied to us by the war) either peace, bread, or full freedom. The working class must therefore continue its fight for socialism and peace, utilising for this purpose the new situation and explaining it as widely as possible among the masses.

The new government cannot give the people peace, because it represents the capitalists and landlords and because it is tied to the English and French capitalists by treaties and financial commitments. Russian Social-Democracy must therefore, while remaining true to internationalism, first and foremost explain to the people who long for peace that it cannot be won under the present government. Its first appeal to the people (March 17) does not as much as mention the chief and basic issue of the time, peace. It is keeping secret the predatory treaties tsarism concluded with England, France, Italy, Japan, etc. It wants to conceal from the people the truth about its war programme, the fact that it stands for continuation of the war, for victory over Germany. It is not in a position to do what the people so vitally need: directly and frankly propose to all belligerent countries an immediate ceasefire, to be followed by peace based on complete liberation of all the colonies and dependent and unequal nations. That requires a workers’ government acting in alliance with, first, the poorest section of the rural population, and, second, the revolutionary workers of all countries in the war.

The new government cannot give the people bread. And no freedom can satisfy the masses suffering from hunger due to shortages and inefficient distribution of available stocks, and, most important, to the seizure of these stocks by the landlords and capitalists. It requires revolutionary measures against the landlords and capitalists to give the people bread, and such measures can be carried out only by a workers’ government.

Lastly, the new government is not, in a position to give the people full freedom, though in its March 17 manifesto it speaks of nothing but political freedom and is silent on other, no less important, issues. The new government has already endeavoured to reach agreement with the Romanov dynasty, for it has suggested recognising the Romanovs, in defiance of the people’s will, on the understanding that Nicholas II would abdicate in favour of his son, with a member of the Romanov family appointed regent. In its manifesto, the new government promises every kind of freedom, but has failed in its direct and unconditional duty immediately to implement such freedoms as election of officers, etc., by the soldiers, elections to the St. Petersburg, Moscow and other City Councils on a basis of genuinely universal, and not merely male, suffrage, make all government and public buildings available for public meetings, appoint elections to all local institutions and Zemstvos, likewise on the basis of genuinely universal suffrage, repeal all restrictions on the rights of local government bodies, dismiss all officials appointed to supervise local government bodies, introduce not only freedom of religion, but also freedom from religion, immediately separate the school from the church and free it of control by government officials, etc.

The new government’s March 17 manifesto arouses the deepest distrust, for it consists entirely of promises and does not provide for the immediate carrying out of a single one of the vital measures that can and should be carried out right now.

The new government’s programme does not contain a single word on the eight-hour day or on any other economic measure to improve the worker’s position. It contains not a single word about land for the peasants, about the uncompensated transfer to the peasants of all the estates. By its silence on these vital issues the new government reveals its capitalist and landlord nature.

Only a workers’ government that relies, first, on the overwhelming majority of the peasant population, the farm labourers and poor peasants, and, second, on an alliance with the revolutionary workers of all countries in the war, can give the people peace, bread and full freedom.

The revolutionary proletariat can therefore only regard the revolution of March 1 (14) as its initial, and by no means complete, victory on its momentous path. It cannot but set itself the task of continuing the fight for a democratic republic and socialism.

To do that, the proletariat and the R.S.D.L.P. must above all utilise the relative and partial freedom the new government is introducing, and which can be guaranteed and extended only by continued, persistent and persevering revolutionary struggle.

The truth about the present government and its real attitude on pressing issues must be made known to all working people in town and country, and also to the army. Soviets of Workers’ Deputies must be organised, the workers must be armed. Proletarian organisations must be extended to the army (which the new government has likewise promised political rights) and to the rural areas. In particular there must be a separate class organisation for farm labourers.

Only by making the truth known to the widest masses of the population, only by organising them, can we guarantee full victory in the next stage of the revolution and the winning of power by a workers’ government.

Fulfilment of this task, which in revolutionary times and under the impact of the severe lessons of the war can be brought home to the people in an immeasurably shorter time than under ordinary conditions, requires the revolutionary proletarian party to be ideologically and organisation ally independent. It must remain true to internationalism and not succumb to the false bourgeois phraseology meant to dupe the people by talk of “defending the fatherland” in the present imperialist and predatory war.

Not only this government, but even a democratic bourgeois republican government, were it to consist exclusively of Kerensky and other Narodnik and “Marxist” social-patriots, cannot lead the people out of the imperialist war and guarantee peace.

For that reason we cannot consent to any blocs, or alliances, or even agreements with the defencists among the workers, nor with the Gvozdyov-Potresov-Chkhenkeli Kerensky, etc., trend, nor with men who, like Chkheidze and others, have taken a vacillating and indefinite stand on this   crucial issue. Those agreements would not only inject an element of falseness in the minds of the masses, making them dependent on the Russian imperialist bourgeoisie, but would also weaken and undermine the leading role of the proletariat in ridding the people of imperialist war and guaranteeing a genuinely durable peace between the workers’ governments of all countries.

 

 

Notes

[1] The first news of the February bourgeois-democratic revolution in Russia reached Lenin on March 2 (15), 1917. Reports of the victory of the revolution and the advent to power of an Octobrist-Cadet government of capitalists and landlords appeared in the Zürcher Post and Neue Zürcher Zeitung by the evening of March 4 (17). Lenin had drawn up a rough draft of theses, not meant for publication, on the tasks of the protetariat in the revolution. The theses were immediately sent via Stockholm to Oslo for the Bolsheviks leaving for Russia.

[2] Lenin uses the appellation Octobrist-Cadet to describe the bourgeois Provisional Government formed at 3 p.m. on March 2 (15), 1917 by agreement between the Provisional Committee of the State Duma and the Socialist-Revolutionary and Menshevik leaders of the Executive Committee of the Petrograd Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies. The government was made up of Prince G. Y. Lvov (Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior), the Cadet leader P. N. Milyukov (Minister of Foreign Affairs), the Octobrist leader A. I. Guchkov (Minister of War and Acting Minister of the Navy) and other representatives of the big bourgeoisie and landlords. It also included A. F. Kerensky, of the Trudovik group, who was appointed Minister of Justice.

The manifesto of March 4 (17) mentioned by Lenin later on was originally drawn up by Menshevik members of the Petrograd Soviet Executive Committee. It set out the terms on which the Executive was prepared to support the Provisional Government. In the course of negotiations with the Duma Committee, it was revised by P. N. Milyukov and became the basis of the Provisional Government’s first appeal to the people.

Source

Thomas Jefferson in Defense of the French Revolution


“In the struggle which was necessary, many guilty persons fell without the forms of trial, and with them some innocent. These I deplore as much as any body, and shall deplore some of them to the day of my death. But I deplore them as I should have done had they fallen in battle. It was necessary to use the arm of the people, a machine not quite so blind as balls and bombs, but blind to a certain degree. A few of their cordial friends met at their hands, the fate of enemies. But time and truth will rescue and embalm their memories, while their posterity will be enjoying that very liberty for which they would never have hesitated to offer up their lives. The liberty of the whole earth was depending on the issue of the contest, and was ever such a prize won with so little innocent blood? My own affections have been deeply wounded by some of the martyrs to this cause, but rather than it should have failed, I would have seen half the earth desolated. Were there but an Adam and an Eve left in every country, and left free, it would be better than as it now is. I have expressed to you my sentiments, because they are really those of 99 in an hundred of our citizens. The universal feasts, and rejoicings which have lately been had on account of the successes of the French shewed the genuine effusions of their hearts.”

 – Thomas Jefferson, “Letter to William Short” (3 January 1793), Thomas Jefferson Papers at the Library of Congress, Series 1, Reel 17.

V.I. Lenin on the Fourth Anniversary of the October Revolution

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The fourth anniversary of October 25 (November 7) is approaching.

The farther that great day recedes from us, the more clearly we see the significance of the proletarian revolution in Russia, and the more deeply we reflect upon the practical experience of our work as a whole.

Very briefly and, of course, in very incomplete and rough outline, this significance and experience may be summed up as follows.

The direct and immediate object of the revolution in Russia was a bourgeois-democratic one, namely, to destroy the survivals of medievalism and sweep them away completely, to purge Russia of this barbarism, of this shame, and to remove this immense obstacle to all culture and progress in our country.

And we can justifiably pride ourselves on having carried out that purge with greater determination and much more rapidly, boldly and successfully, and, from the point of view of its effect on the masses, much more widely and deeply, than the great French Revolution over one hundred and twenty-five years ago.

Both the anarchists and the petty-bourgeois democrats (i.e., the Mensheviks and the Socialist-Revolutionaries, who are the Russian counterparts of that international social type) have talked and are still talking an incredible lot of nonsense about the relation between the bourgeois-democratic revolution and the socialist (that is, proletarian) revolution. The last four years have proved to the hilt that our interpretation of Marxism on this point, and our estimate of the experience of former revolutions were correct. We have consummated the bourgeois-democratic revolution as nobody had done before. We are advancing towards the socialist revolution consciously, firmly and unswervingly, knowing that it is not separated from the bourgeois-democratic revolution by a Chinese Wall, and knowing too that (in the last analysis) struggle alone will determine how far we shall advance, what part of this immense and lofty task we shall accomplish, and to what extent we shall succeed in consolidating our victories. Time will show. But we see even now that a tremendous amount — tremendous for this ruined, exhausted and backward country — has already been done towards the socialist transformation of society.

Let us, however, finish what we have to say about the bourgeois-democratic content of our revolution. Marxists must understand what that means. To explain, let us take a few striking examples.

The bourgeois-democratic content of the revolution means that the social relations (system, institutions) of the country are purged of medievalism, serfdom, feudalism.

What were the chief manifestations, survivals, remnants of serfdom in Russia up to 1917? The monarchy, the system of social estates, landed proprietorship and land tenure, the status of women, religion, and national oppression. Take any one of these Augean stables, which, incidentally, were left largely uncleansed by all the more advanced states when they accomplished their bourgeois-democratic revolutions one hundred and twenty-five, two hundred and fifty and more years ago (1649 in England); take any of these Augean stables, and you will see that we have cleansed them thoroughly. In a matter of ten weeks, from October 25 (November 7), 1917 to January 5, 1918, when the Constituent Assembly was dissolved, we accomplished a thousand times more in this respect than was accomplished by the bourgeois democrats and liberals (the Cadets) and by the petty-bourgeois democrats (the Mensheviks and the Socialist-Revolutionaries) during the eight months they were in power.

Those poltroons, gas-bags, vainglorious Narcissuses and petty Hamlets brandished their wooden swords — but did not even destroy the monarchy! We cleansed out all that monarchist muck as nobody had ever done before. We left not a stone, not a brick of that ancient edifice, the social-estate system even the most advanced countries, such as Britain, France and Germany, have not completely eliminated the survivals of that system to this day!), standing. We tore out the deep-seated roots of the social-estate system, namely, the remnants of feudalism and serfdom in the system of landownership, to the last. “One may argue” (there are plenty of quill-drivers, Cadets, Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries abroad to indulge in such arguments) as to what “in the long run” will be the outcome of the agrarian reform effected by the Great October Revolution. We have no desire at the moment to waste time on such controversies, for we are deciding this, as well as the mass of accompanying controversies, by struggle. But the fact cannot be denied that the petty-bourgeois democrats “compromised” with the landowners, the custodians of the traditions of serfdom, for eight months, while we completely swept the landowners and all their traditions from Russian soil in a few weeks.

Take religion, or the denial of rights to women, or the oppression and inequality of the non-Russian nationalities. These are all problems of the bourgeois-democratic revolution. The vulgar petty-bourgeois democrats talked about them for eight months. In not a single one of the most advanced countries in the world have these questions been completely settled on bourgeois-democratic lines. In our country they have been settled completely by the legislation of the October Revolution. We have fought and are fighting religion in earnest. We have granted all the non-Russian nationalities their own republics or autonomous regions. We in Russia no longer have the base, mean and infamous denial of rights to women or inequality of the sexes, that disgusting survival of feudalism and medievalism, which is being renovated by the avaricious bourgeoisie and the dull-witted and frightened petty bourgeoisie in every other country in the world without exception.

All this goes to make up the content of the bourgeois-democratic revolution. A hundred and fifty and two hundred and fifty years ago the progressive leaders of that revolution (or of those revolutions, if we consider each national variety of the one general type) promised to rid mankind of medieval privileges, of sex inequality, of state privileges for one religion or another (or “religious ideas “,
“the church” in general), and of national inequality. They promised, but did not keep their promises. They could not keep them, for they were hindered by their “respect” — for the “sacred right of private property”. Our proletarian revolution was not afflicted with this accursed “respect” for this thrice-accursed medievalism and for the “sacred right of private property”.

But in order to consolidate the achievements of the bourgeois-democratic revolution for the peoples of Russia, we were obliged to go farther; and we did go farther. We solved the problems of the bourgeois-democratic revolution in passing, as a “by-product” of our main and genuinely proletarian -revolutionary, socialist activities. We have always said that reforms are a by-product of the revolutionary class struggle. We said — and proved it by deeds — that bourgeois-democratic reforms are a by-product of the proletarian, i.e., of the socialist revolution. Incidentally, the Kautskys, Hilferdings, Martovs, Chernovs, Hillquits, Longuets, MacDonalds, Turatis and other heroes of “Two and-a-Half” Marxism were incapable of understanding this relation between the bourgeois-democratic and the proletarian-socialist revolutions. The first develops into the second. The second, in passing, solves the problems of the first. The second consolidates the work of the first. Struggle, and struggle alone, decides how far the second succeeds in outgrowing the first.

The Soviet system is one of the most vivid proofs, or manifestations, of how the one revolution develops into the other. The Soviet system provides the maximum of democracy for the workers and peasants; at the same time, it marks a break with bourgeois democracy and the rise of a new, epoch-making type of democracy, namely, proletarian democracy, or the dictatorship of the proletariat.

Let the curs and swine of the moribund bourgeoisie and of the petty-bourgeois democrats who trail behind them heap imprecations, abuse and derision upon our heads for our reverses and mistakes in the work of building up our Soviet system. We do not forget for a moment that we have committed and are committing numerous mistakes and are suffering numerous reverses. How can reverses and mistakes be avoided in a matter so new in the history of the world as the building of an unprecedented type of state edifice! We shall work steadfastly to set our reverses and mistakes right and to improve our practical application of Soviet principles, which is still very, very far from being perfect. But we have a right to be and are proud that to us has fallen the good fortune to begin the building of a Soviet state, and thereby to usher in a new era in world history, the era of the rule of a new class, a class which is oppressed in every capitalist country, but which everywhere is marching forward towards a new life, towards victory over the bourgeoisie, towards the dictatorship of the proletariat, towards the emancipation of mankind from the yoke of capital and from imperialist wars.

The question of imperialist wars, of the international policy of finance capital which now dominates the whole world, a policy that must inevitably engender new imperialist wars, that must inevitably cause an extreme intensification of national oppression, pillage, brigandry and the strangulation of weak, backward and small nationalities by a handful of “advanced” powers — that question has been the keystone of all policy in all the countries of the globe since 1914. It is a question of life and death for millions upon millions of people. It is a question of whether 20,000,000 people (as compared with the 10,000,000 who were killed in the war of 1914-18 and in the supplementary “minor” wars that are still going on) are to be slaughtered in the next imperialist war, which the bourgeoisie are preparing, and which is growing out of capitalism before our very eyes. It is a question of whether in that future war, which is inevitable (if capitalism continues to exist), 60,000,000 people are to be maimed (compared with the 30,000,000 maimed in 1914-18). In this question, too, our October Revolution marked the beginning of a new era in world history. The lackeys of the bourgeoisie and its yes-men — the Socialist-Revolutionaries and the Mensheviks, and the petty-bourgeois, allegedly “socialist”, democrats all over the world — derided our slogan “convert the imperialist war into a civil war”. But that slogan proved to be the truth — it was the only truth, unpleasant, blunt, naked and brutal, but nevertheless the truth, as against the host of most refined jingoist and pacifist lies.

Those lies are being dispelled. The Brest peace has been exposed. And with every passing day the significance and consequences of a peace that is even worse than the Brest peace — the peace of Versailles — are being more relentlessly exposed. And the millions who are thinking about the causes of the recent war and of the approaching future war are more and more clearly realising the grim and inexorable truth that it is impossible to escape imperialist war, and imperialist peace (if the old orthography were still in use, I would have written the word mir in two ways, to give it both its meanings)[*] which inevitably engenders imperialist war, that it is impossible to escape that inferno, except by a Bolshevik struggle and a Bolshevik revolution.

Let the bourgeoisie and the pacifists, the generals and the petty bourgeoisie, the capitalists and the philistines, the pious Christians and the knights of the Second and the Two-and-a-Half Internationals vent their fury against that revolution. No torrents of abuse, calumnies and lies can enable them to conceal the historic fact that for the first time in hundreds and thousands of years the slaves have replied to a war between slave-owners by openly proclaiming the slogan: “Convert this war between slave-owners for the division of their loot into a war of the slaves of all nations against the slave-owners of all nations.”

For the first time in hundreds and thousands of years that slogan has grown from a vague and helpless waiting into a clear and definite political programme, into an effective struggle waged by millions of oppressed people under the leadership of the proletariat; it has grown into the first victory of the proletariat, the first victory in the struggle to abolish war and to unite the workers of all countries against the united bourgeoisie of different nations, against the bourgeoisie that makes peace and war at the expense of the slaves of capital, the wage-workers, the peasants, the working people.

This first victory is not yet the final victory, and it was achieved by our October Revolution at the price of incredible difficulties and hardships, at the price of unprece dented suffering, accompanied by a series of serious reverses

* In Russian, the word mir has two meanings (world and peace) and had two different spellings in the old orthography. –Tr. and mistakes on our part. How could a single backward people be expected to frustrate the imperialist wars of the most powerful and most developed countries of the world without sustaining reverses and without committing mistakes! We are not afraid to admit our mistakes and shall examine them dispassionately in order to learn how to correct them. But the fact remains that for the first time in hundreds and thousands of years the promise “to reply” to war between the slave-owners by a revolution of the slaves directed against all the slave-owners has been completely fulfilled — and is being fulfilled despite all difficulties.

We have made the start. When, at what date and time, and the proletarians of which nation will complete this process is not important. The important thing is that the ice has been broken; the road is open, the way has been shown.

Gentlemen, capitalists of all countries, keep up your hypocritical pretence of “defending the fatherland” — the Japanese fatherland against the American, the American against the Japanese, the French against the British, and so forth! Gentlemen, knights of the Second and Two-and a-Half Internationals, pacifist petty bourgeoisie and philistines of the entire world, go on “evading” the question of how to combat imperialist wars by issuing new “Basle Manifestos” (on the model of the Basle Manifesto of 1912[21]). The first Bolshevik revolution has wrested the first hundred million people of this earth from the clutches of imperialist war and the imperialist world. Subsequent revolutions will deliver the rest of mankind from such wars and from such a world.

Our last, but most important and most difficult task, the one we have done least about, is economic development, the laying of economic foundations for the new, socialist edifice on the site of the demolished feudal edifice and the semi-demolished capitalist edifice. It is in this most important and most difficult task that we have sustained the greatest number of reverses and have made most mistakes. How could anyone expect that a task so new to the world could be begun without reverses and without mistakes! But we have begun it. We shall continue it. At this very moment we are, by our New Economic Policy, correcting a number of our mistakes. We are learning how to continue erecting the socialist edifice in a small-peasant country without committing such mistakes.

The difficulties are immense. But we are accustomed to grappling with immense difficulties. Not for nothing do our enemies call us “stone-hard” and exponents of a “firm line policy”. But we have also learned, at least to some extent, another art that is essential in revolution, namely, flexibility, the ability to effect swift and sudden changes of tactics if changes in objective conditions demand them, and to choose another path for the achievement of our goal if the former path proves to be inexpedient or impossible at the given moment.

Borne along on the crest of the wave of enthusiasm, rousing first the political enthusiasm and then the military enthusiasm of the people, we expected to accomplish economic tasks just as great as the political and military tasks we had accomplished by relying directly on this enthusiasm. We expected — or perhaps it would be truer to say that we presumed without having given it adequate consideration — to be able to organise the state production and the state distribution of products on communist lines in a small-peasant country directly as ordered by the proletarian state. Experience has proved that we were wrong. It appears that a number of transitional stages were necessary — state capitalism and socialism — in order to prepare — to prepare by many years of effort — for the transition to communism. Not directly relying on enthusiasm, but aided by the enthusiasm engendered by the great revolution, and on the basis of personal interest, personal incentive and business principles, we must first set to work in this small peasant country to build solid gangways to socialism by way of state capitalism. Otherwise we shall never get to communism, we shall never bring scores of millions of people to communism. That is what experience, the objective course of the development of the revolution, has taught us.

And we, who during these three or four years have learned a little to make abrupt changes of front (when abrupt changes of front are needed), have begun zealously, attentively and sedulously (although still not zealously, attentively and sedulously enough) to learn to make a new change of front, namely, the New Economic Policy. The proletarian state must become a cautious, assiduous and shrewd “businessman”, a punctilious wholesale merchant — otherwise it will never succeed in putting this small-peasant country economically on its feet. Under existing conditions, living as we are side by side with the capitalist (for the time being capitalist) West, there is no other way of progressing to communism. A wholesale merchant seems to be an economic type as remote from communism as heaven from earth. But that is one of the contradictions which, in actual life, lead from a small-peasant economy via state capitalism to socialism. Personal incentive will step up production; we must increase production first and foremost and at all costs. Wholesale trade economically unites millions of small peasants: it gives them a personal incentive, links them up and leads them to the next step, namely, to various forms of association and alliance in the process of production itself. We have already started the necessary changes in our economic policy and already have some successes to our credit; true, they are small and partial, but nonetheless they are successes. In this new field of “tuition” we are already finishing our preparatory class. By persistent and assiduous study, by making practical experience the test of every step we take, by not fearing to alter over and over again what we have already begun, by correcting our mistakes and most carefully analysing their significance, we shall pass to the higher classes. We shall go through the whole “course”, although the present state of world economics and world politics has made that course much longer and much more difficult than we would have liked. No matter at what cost, no matter how severe the hardships of the transition period may be — despite disaster, famine and ruin — we shall not flinch; we shall triumphantly carry our cause to its goal.

October 14, 1921

Source

Maximilien Robespierre On the Justified Use of Terror

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“If the spring of popular government in time of peace is virtue, the springs of popular government in revolution are at once virtue and terror: virtue, without which terror is fatal; terror, without which virtue is powerless. Terror is nothing other than justice, prompt, severe, inflexible; it is therefore an emanation of virtue; it is not so much a special principle as it is a consequence of the general principle of democracy applied to our country’s most urgent needs.

It has been said that terror is the principle of despotic government. Does your government therefore resemble despotism? Yes, as the sword that gleams in the hands of the heroes of liberty resembles that with which the henchmen of tyranny are armed. Let the despot govern by terror his brutalized subjects; he is right, as a despot. Subdue by terror the enemies of liberty, and you will be right, as founders of the Republic. The government of the revolution is liberty’s despotism against tyranny. Is force made only to protect crime? And is the thunderbolt not destined to strike the heads of the proud?”

 – Maximilien Robespierre, “Justification of the Use of Terror”

Clifford D. Conner on Jean Paul Marat

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“And finally, what if Marat were to return today? What would he think of the state of our planet in the second decade of the twenty-first century? He could read in the history books that the Great French Revolution—his Revolution—is recognized as the watershed event in the making of the modern world.

‘But what did it accomplish?’ he might ask.

‘It rid France of a parasitic class whose right to rule was based upon aristocratic birthright and traditional privilege.’

‘Is that all?’

‘It established legal and political equality, which then spread throughout much of Europe and the world.’

‘Legal and political equality? What about economic and social equality?’

‘No, the situation in that regard is even worse than you remember it. Today, despite two centuries of mind-boggling technological progress, a handful of billionaires control most of the Earth’s resources while billions of people remain mired in hunger, disease, oppression, and grinding poverty.’

Marat would surely be shocked and dismayed to learn that after more than 200 years his struggle for social revolution had lost none of its relevance and urgency. Where is the People’s Friend now, when we need him?”

– Clifford D. Conner, “Jean Paul Marat: Tribune of the French Revolution”

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia on the American Revolution

"The Spirit of '76": a painting by Archibald Willard.

“The Spirit of ’76”: a painting by Archibald Willard.

American Revolution

(in Russian, War of Independence in North America of 1775-83), the revolutionary liberation war of the 13 British colonies in North America against British colonial domination, during which an independent state was established—the United States of America.

The American Revolution was prepared for by the entire preceding socioeconomic history of the colonies. The development of capitalism in the colonies and the formation of the North American nation contradicted the policy of the mother country, which considered the colonies a source of raw materials and a market. After the Seven Years’ War (1756-63) the British government intensified its pressure on the colonies, in many ways hindering the further development of industry and trade. The colonization of lands west of the Allegheny Mountains was prohibited (1763), and new taxes and customs duties were introduced, which were contrary to the interests of all the colonists. Separate, uncoordinated uprisings and disturbances, which later developed into war, began in 1767. There was no unity among the participants in the liberation movement. Farmers, artisans, workers, and the urban petite bourgeoisie, who made up the democratic wing of the liberation movement, linked their struggle against the colonial yoke with hopes for free access to land and political democratization. However, the leading position in the camp of the advocates of independence (Whigs) belonged to the representatives of the right wing. They expressed the interests of the upper strata of the bourgeoisie and plantation owners, who were seeking a compromise with the mother country. The opponents of the liberation movement in the colonies and the open supporters of the mother country were the Tories, or Loyalists. Among them were big land-owners as well as persons who were connected with British capital and administration.

The First Continental Congress of representatives from the colonies met in 1774 in Philadelphia and called for a boycott of British goods. At the same time, the congress attempted to reach a compromise with the mother country. During the winter of 1774-75 the first armed detachments of colonists arose spontaneously. In the first battles at Concord and Lexington on Apr. 19, 1775, the British troops suffered heavy losses. Soon 20,000 insurgents formed a so-called camp of liberty near Boston. In the Battle of Bunker Hill on June 17, 1775, the British again suffered serious losses.

On May 10, 1775, the Second Continental Congress convened; the predominant influence in it was gained by the radical wing of the bourgeoisie. The congress proposed that all the colonies create new governments to replace the colonial regime. Regular armed forces were organized, and Washington was made commander in chief (June 15, 1775).

On July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress adopted the revolutionary Declaration of Independence, which was written by Jefferson. The declaration proclaimed the separation of the 13 colonies from the mother country and the formation of an independent state—the United States of America (USA). It was the first legal document in history that formally proclaimed the sovereignty of a people and the principles of bourgeois democratic liberties. The decrees on the confiscation of Loyalists’ property (1777) and lands belonging to the crown and the Anglican Church were very significant.

Military action during 1775-78 unfolded primarily in the northern part of the country. The British command endeavored to suppress resistance in New England, which was the center of the revolutionary movement. An American expedition to capture Canada did not achieve its intended goal. The Americans besieged Boston and captured it on Mar. 17, 1776. However, in August 1776 the British commander W. Howe inflicted a grave defeat on Washington’s troops in Brooklyn, and on September 15 he captured New York. In December the British Army inflicted another serious defeat on the Americans near Trenton. Although Washington soon succeeded in capturing Trenton and routing a British detachment at Princeton on Jan. 3, 1777, the position of the American army remained difficult.

The armies that were encountering each other in the American Revolution differed in their composition, equipment, and combat experience. The American insurgent army was initially an ill-trained and poorly organized people’s militia. However, the morale and political level of its soldiers, who were fighting for their own land and vital interests, was considerably higher than the British Army’s. By improving their tactics in waging war, the rebels were able to achieve important advantages. Avoiding major battles and cooperating with partisan detachments, the American army harassed the enemy with sudden thrusts. The American army was the first to use the tactics of an extended formation, against which the linear combat formation of the British proved powerless. At sea, where the British Navy prevailed, American ships also used the tactics of sudden raids, attacking British ships and carrying out campaigns near the shores of Great Britain.

The weakness of central authority in the republic played a considerable role in prolonging the war. The first constitution of the USA, the Articles of Confederation, which was adopted by the congress in 1777 and ratified by the states in 1781, preserved the sovereignty of the states on the most important questions. In addition, the War of Independence was a class struggle within the colonies themselves. Tens of thousands of Loyalists fought in the British Army. The bourgeoisie and plantation owners, who were leading the struggle for independence, were opposed to carrying out the democratic demands of the soldiers, farmers, and workers. The victory of the revolution was possible only because of the participation of the broad masses of the people. Among the poor of New England egalitarian demands ripened for a limit on property ownership and the introduction of ceiling prices on foodstuffs. The Negro people took an active part in the revolution, and Negro regiments were established.

The British plan of military action in 1777 was to cut New England off from the other states. On Sept. 26, 1777, Howe captured Philadelphia, the capital of the USA. However, a British army under the command of J. Burgoyne, which was proceeding from Canada to join Howe, was surrounded, and it surrendered on Oct. 17, 1777, at Saratoga. The victory at Saratoga, which was won by American troops under the command of General H. Gates, improved the international position of the young republic. The USA managed to take advantage of the contradictions between Great Britain and other European powers. Sent to Paris as the representative of the USA, B. Franklin concluded a military alliance in 1778 with France—Great Britain’s colonial rival. In 1779, Spain joined the war against Great Britain. Russia took a friendly position toward the USA, and in 1780 it headed the so-called League of Armed Neutrality, which brought together a number of European countries who were opposed to Great Britain’s attempt to prevent neutral countries from trading with Britain’s enemies.

In June 1778, General H. Clinton, who had replaced Howe, abandoned Philadelphia. During 1779-81 the British shifted their military activity to the southern states, counting on the support of the plantation aristocracy. In December 1778 they captured Savannah, and in May 1780 they took Charleston. The talented general and former blacksmith N. Greene was made head of the southern American army. In fighting against the British troops Greene successfully combined the action of the insurgent army and the partisans. The British were compelled to withdraw their troops to the port cities. After a naval battle of Sept. 5-13, 1781, the French Navy cut the main British forces off from the sea at Yorktown. Washington surrounded them on land, and on Oct. 19, 1781, he forced them to surrender. Under the Versailles Peace Treaty of 1783, Great Britain recognized the independence of the USA.

The American Revolution was a bourgeois revolution that led to the overthrow of the colonial yoke and the formation of an independent American national state. The former prohibitions by the British Parliament and royal authority, which had hampered the development of industry and trade, were abolished. Also eliminated were the large estates of the British aristocracy, as well as vestiges of feudalism (fixed rent, entail, and primogeniture). In the northern states Negro slavery was limited and gradually eliminated. The transformation of the western lands, which had been expropriated from the Indians, into national property by the Ordinance of 1787 and their subsequent distribution created a base for the accumulation of capital. Thus, the essential prerequisites for the development of capitalism in North America were created. However, not all the problems that confronted the American revolution were resolved. Slavery was not abolished in the South, and a high property qualification for voters was maintained in all the states. The estates of Loyalists and western lands were distributed in large pieces, and they fell into the hands of speculators.

The American Revolution, which in its own time was the model of a revolutionary war, exerted an influence on the struggle of the European bourgeoisie against feudal absolutist regimes. Approximately 7,000 European volunteers fought in the ranks of the American army, including the Frenchmen the Marquis de Lafayette and H. Saint-Simon and the Pole T. Kosciuszko. During the Great French Revolution the insurgents made use of the organizational experience and revolutionary military tactics of the Americans. The victory of the North Americans in the American Revolution promoted the development of the liberation movement of the peoples of Latin America against Spanish domination. The revolution was hailed by the progressive people of many countries, including Russia, where A. N. Radishchev celebrated it in the ode “Liberty.”

REFERENCES

Marx, K. Kapital, vol. 1, ch. 25. In K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 23.
Engels, F. “Rabochee dvizhenie v Amerike.” Ibid., vol. 21.
Engels, F. F. A. Zorge, 31 dek. 1892. (Letter.) Ibid., vol. 38.
Engels, F. N. F. Daniel’sonu, 17 okt. 1893. (Letter.) Ibid., vol. 39.
Lenin, V. I. Novye dannye o zakonakh razvitiia kapitalizma v zemledelii, part 1: “Kapitalizm i zemledelie v Soedinennykh Shtatakh Ameriki.” Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 27.
Lenin, V. I. “Pis’mo k amerikanskim rabochim.” Ibid., vol. 37.
Lenin, V. I. “Agrarnaia programma sotsial-demokratii v pervoi russkoi revoliutsii 1905-1907 godov.” Ibid., vol. 16.
Ocherki novoi i noveishei istorii SShA, vol. 1. Moscow, 1960.
Foner, P. Istoriia rabochego dvizheniia v SShA, vol. 1. Moscow, 1949. (Translated from English.)
Foster, W. Negritianskii narod v istorii Ameriki. Moscow, 1955. (Translated from English.)
Fursenko, A. A. Amerikanskaia burzhuaznaia revoliutsiia XVIII v. Moscow-Leningrad, 1960.
Aptheker, H. Istoriia amerikanskogo naroda [vol. 2], Amerikanskaia revoliutsiia 1763-1783. Moscow, 1962. (Translated from English.)
The American Nation: A History, vols. 8-10. New York [1933].
Bemis, S. F. The Diplomacy of the American Revolution. New York, 1935.
Hardy, J. The First American Revolution. New York, 1937.
Morais, H. The Struggle for American Freedom. New York, 1944.
Jensen, M. The New Nation: A History of the United States During the Confederation, 1781-1789. New York, 1950.
Gipson, L. The Coming of the Revolution, 1763-1775. New York, 1954.

I. I. DEMENT’EV

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Maximilien Robespierre: Louis Must Die, That the Republic Can Live

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“On the Trial of the King” by Maximilien Robespierre
3 December 1792

Citizens,

The Assembly has been led, without realizing it, far from the real question. There is no trial to be held here. Louis is not a defendant. You are not judges. You are not, you cannot be anything but statesmen and representatives of the nation. You have no sentence to pronounce for or against a man, but a measure of public salvation to implement, an act of national providence to perform. A dethroned king, in the Republic, is good for only two uses: either to trouble the peace of the state and threaten liberty, or to affirm both of these at the same time. Now I maintain that the character of your deliberation so far runs directly counter to that goal. In fact, what is the decision that sound policy proscribes to consolidate the nascent Republic? It is to engrave contempt for royalty deeply on the people’s hearts and dumbfound all the king’s supporters. Thus, to present his crime to the universe as a problem, to treat his cause as an object of the most imposing, the most religious, the most difficult discussion that could occupy the representatives of the French people; to establish an immeasurable distance between the mere memory of what he was and the dignity of the citizen, amounts precisely to having found the secret of keeping him dangerous to liberty.

Louis was king, and the Republic was founded: the famous question you are considering is settled by these words alone. Louis was dethroned by  his crimes; Louis denounced the French people as rebellions; to chastise it, he called on the arms of his fellow tyrants; victory and the people decided that he was the rebellions one: therefore Louis cannot be judged; either he is already condemned or the Republic is not acquitted. Proposing to put Louis on trial, in whatever way that could be done, would be to regress towards royal and constitutional despotism; it is a counter-revolutionary idea, for it means putting the revolution itself in contention. In fact, if Louis can still be put on trial, then he can be acquitted; he may be innocent; what am I saying! He is presumed to to be so until he has been tried. But if Louis is acquitted, if Louis can be presumed innocent, what becomes of the revolution? If Louis is innocent, then all defenders of liberty become slanderers; the rebels were the friends of truth and defenders of oppressed innocence; all the manifestos from foreign courts are just legitimate complaints against a dominant faction. Even the detention of Louis has suffered so far is an unjust vexation; the fédérés, the people of Paris, all the patriots of the French empire are guilty; and, pending nature’s tribunal, this great trial between crime and virtue, between liberty and tyranny, is decided in favour of crime and tyranny.

Citizens, have a care; you are being misled here by false notions. You are confusing the rules of civil and statue law with the principles of the laws of nations; you are confusing relations between citizens with those between a nation and an enemy conspiring against it. You are also confusing the situation of a people in revolution with that of a people whose government is soundly established. You are confusing a nation that punishes a public official while conserving the form of government, with one that destroys the government itself. We refer to ideas familiar to us to understand an extraordinary case  that functions on principles we have never applied. Thus, because we are accustomed to seeing offenses we have witnessed judged according to uniform rules, we are naturally inclined to believe that under no circumstances can nations equitably punish a man who has violated their rights in any other way; and that where we do not see a jury, a bench, proceedings, we do not find justice. These very terms, when we apply them to ideas different from the ones they normally express, end by misleading us. Such is the natural dominion of habit that we regard the most arbitrary conventions, sometimes indeed the most defective institutions, as absolute measures of truth or falsehood, justice or injustice. It does not even occur to us t hat most are inevitably still connected with the prejudices on which despotism fed us. We have been so long stooped under its yoke that we have some difficulty in raising ourselves to the eternal principles of reason; anything that refers to all the sacred source of all law seems to us to take on an illegal character, and the very order of nature seems to us a disorder. The majestic movements of a great people, the sublime fervours of virtue often appear to our timid eyes as something like an erupting volcano or the overthrow of political society; and it is certainly not the least of the troubles bothering us, the contradiction between the weakness of our morals, the depravity of our minds, and the purity of principle and energy of character demanded by the free government to which we have dared aspire.

When a nation has been forced to resort to the right of insurrection, it returns to the state of nature in relation to the tyrant. How can the tyrant invoke the social pact? He has annihilated it. The nation can still keep it, if it thinks fit, for everything concerning relations between citizens; but the effect of tyranny and insurrection is to break it entirely where the tyrant is concerned; it places them reciprocally in a state of war. Courts and legal proceedings are only for members of the same side.

It is a gross contradiction to suppose that the constitution might preside over this new order of things; that would be to assume it had itself survived. What are the laws that replace it? Those of nature, the one which is the foundation of society itself: the salvation of the people. The right to punish the tyrant and the right to dethrone him are the same thing; both include the same forms. The tyrant’s trial is the insurrection; the verdict, the collapse of his power; the sentence, whatever the liberty of the people requires.

People do not judge in the same way as courts of law; they do not hand down sentences, they throw thunderbolts; they do not condemn kings, they drop them back into the void; and this justice is worth just as much as that of the courts. If it is for their salvation that they take arms against their oppressors, how can they be made to adopt a way of punishing them that would pose a new danger to themselves?

We have allowed ourselves to be led into error by foreign examples that have nothing in common with us. Cromwell had Charles I tried by a judicial commission he controlled; Elizabeth had Mary Queen of Scots condemned in the same way; it is natural that tyrants who sacrifice their fellows, not to the people, but to their own ambition, should seek to mislead vulgar opinion with illusory forms. There is no question there of principle or liberty, but of deceit and intrigue. But the people! What other law can it follow, than justice and reason supported by its own absolute power?

In what republic was the need to punish the tyrant a legal matter? Was Tarquin called to trial? What would have been said in Rome, if Romans had dared say they were his defenders? And what are we doing? We are summoning lawyers from every side to plead the cause of Louis XVI.

We are establishing as legitimate acts what any free people would have regarded as the greatest of crimes. We are ourselves inviting the citizens to baseness and corruption. We could well find ourselves one day awarding Louis’s defenders civil crowns; for if they defend his cause, they may hope to make it triumph; otherwise you would be showing the universe nothing but a ridiculous charade. And we dare to use the word Republic! We invoke forms, because we have no principle; we pride ourselves on our delicacy, because we lack energy; we flaunt a false humanity, because the feeling of true humanity is foreign to us; we revere the shadow of a king, because we do not know how to respect the people; we are tender towards oppressors, because we are heartless towards the oppressed.

The trial of Louis XVI! But what is that trial, if not a call for insurrection in some tribunal or assembly? When a king has been annihilated by the people, who has the right to resuscitate him and make him a new pretext for trouble and rebellion, and whatever other efforts this scheme might produce? By opening an arena for the champions of Louis XVI, you are renewing the quarrels of despotism against liberty, you are establishing the right to blaspheme against the Republic and against the people; for the right to defend the former despite carries with it the right to say anything appropriate to his cause. You awaken all the factions; you revive and encourage dormant royalism: people can take sides freely for or against. What could be more legitimate, what more natural than to repeat everywhere the maxims that his fenders will be able to profess openly at your bar and in your parliament itself! What sort of republic is it whose founders seek out adversaries for it on all sides to attack it in its cradle!

See what rapid progress this scheme has made already. Last August, all the partisans of royalty were hiding: anyone who had dared attempt an apologia for Louis XVI would have been punished as a traitor. Today they are again showing a bold front, with impunity; today the aristocracy’s most deplored scribblers are confidently taking up their poisonous pens once more.

Today, the insolent writings that are precursors to all attacks are flooding the city where you reside, all the eighty-four departments and up to the very portals of this sanctuary of liberty. Today armed men, conscripts, kept inside these walls without your knowledge and against the law, made the street of this city resound with seditious cries demanding impunity for Louix XVI. Today Paris contains within it men brought together, you have been told, to snatch him from the nation’s justice. All that remains for us to do is to throw open these premises to the athletes already flocking to solicit the honour of taking up cudgels on behalf of royalty. What am I saying! Today Louis divides the people’s representatives; some speak for him, some speak against him. Two months ago, who would have suspected that there could be any question over whether he was inviolable or not? But since a member of the National Convention presented the question whether the king could be tried as an object of a serious deliberation preliminary to every other question, inviolability, with which the conspirators in the Constituent Assembly covered his first perjuries, has been invoked to protect his latest attacks. O crime! O shame! The parliament of the French people resounded to the panegyric of Louis XVI. We have heard the virtues and good deeds of the tyrant being praised! We barely managed to rescue the honour or the liberty of the best citizens from the injustice of a precipitate decision. What am I saying? We have seen the most atrocious calumnies against the people’s representatives known for their zeal for liberty greeted with scandalous joy. We have seen one part of this Assembly proscribed by the other almost immediately after being denounced by stupidity and depravity combined. The tyrant’s cause alone is so sacred that it cannot be discussed too freely or for too long: and why should that astonish us? The double phenomenon has a single cause. Those who take an interest in Louis or this like must thirst for the blood of those people’s deputies who are demanding, for the second time, that he be punished; they can pardon only those who have softened in his favour. The plan to shackle the people by killing its defenders, has it ever been abandoned for a single moment? And all the scoundrels who are proscribing them today, calling them anarchists and agitators, will they not themselves whip up the troubles their perfidious system presages for us? If we are to believe them, the trial will last several months at least; it will last until next springtime, when the despots should be making a general attack on us. And what a career to the conspirators! What a feast for intrigue and aristocracy! Thus, all the partisans of tyranny can still hope that help form their allies and foreign armies will encourage the boldness of the court meant to pronounce on Louis’s fate, while their gold is tempting its loyalty.

God in heaven! All the ferocious hordes of despotism are preparing to tear at the breast of our homeland once again, in the name of Louis XVI! Louis is still fighting us from the depths of his dungeon; and people doubt whether he is guilty, whether it is permitted to treat him as an enemy! They want to know what the laws are that condemn him!

The constitution is invoked in his favour. I do not intend to repeat here all the unanswerable arguments developed by those who deign to answer objections of that sort. On this matter I will say a word for the benefit of those whom they have not convinced. The constitution forbade everything you have done. Even if he could only be punished by forced abdication, you could not pronounce sentence without having brought him to trial. You have no right at all to hold him in prison. He has the right to ask you for his release and for damages and interest. The constitution condemns you: fall at  Louis XVI’s feet and ask for his clemency.

Personally, I should blush to discuss these constitutional quibbles any more seriously than that; they should belong on school or palace benches, or rather in the cabinets of London, Vienna, and Berlin. I cannot argue at length when I am convinced that deliberation is a scandal.

This is a great cause, we have been told, and one should be judged with wise and slow circumspection. Is it you who are making it a great cause! What am I saying? It is you who are making it a cause. What do you find in it that can be called great? Is it the difficulty? No. Is it the person? From the viewpoint of liberty, there is none more vile; from that of humanity, none more guilty. Now he can only impress those more cowardly than he is himself. Is it usefulness of the outcome? That is one more reason to hasten it. A great cause would be a popular draft law; a great cause would be that of a poor man oppressed by despotism. What is the motive for these endless delays you are urging on us? Are you afraid of hurting the people’s opinion? As if the people itself feared anything other than the weakness or ambition of its representatives; as if the people were a foul herd of slaves stupidly attached to the tyrant it has proscribed, and wishing at all costs to wallow in baseness and servitude. You talk about opinion; is it not for you to direct it, to fortify it? If it wanders, if it becomes depraved, who should get the blame, if not yourselves? Are you afraid of annoying the foreign kings in league against you? Oh yes, there is no doubt at all that the way to defeat them is to fear them! That the way to confound the criminal conspiracy of European despots is to bow to their accomplice! Do you fear foreign people? Then you still believe in the innate love of tyranny. So why do you aspire to the glory of freeing the human race? Through what contradiction do you suppose that nations which were not astonished by the proclamation of the rights of humanity will be terrified by the chastisement of one of its most cruel oppressors? Finally, we are told, you fear the gaze of posterity. Yes; posterity will be astonished, in fact, by your irresponsibility and your weakness, and our descendants will laugh at the presumption of their fathers, and at their prejudices.

We have been told that genius would be needed to go deeply into this question; I maintain that only good faith is required. It is less a question of enlightenment than of avoiding voluntary blindness. Why is it that what seems clear to us at one time seems obscure at another? Why is it that something decided easily by the good sense of the people changes into an almost insoluble problem for its delegates? Have we the right to have a will contrary to the general will and a wisdom that differs from universal reason?

I have heard defenders of the king’s inviolability advancing a bold principle that I should almost have hesitated to state myself. They said that anyone who, on 10 August, had sacrificed Louis XVI would have been performing a virtuous act; but the sole basis for that opinion can only have been Louis XVI’s crimes and the people’s rights. Well, has a three-month interval changed his crimes or the people’s rights? The reason why he was rescued at that time from public indignation was undoubtedly so that his punishment, formally ordered by the National Convention in the nation’s name, would become all the more imposing to enemies of humanity: but casting new doubt on the fact of his guilt or whether he can be punished amounts to betraying a promise given to the French people. There are perhaps some people who, either to prevent the Assembly from assuming a character worthy of it, or to deprive the nations of an example that would raise minds to the level of republican principles, or for even more shameful motives, would not be sorry if a private hand were to carry out the functions of national justice. Citizens, be wary of this trap: anyone daring to give that advice would only be serving the people’s enemies. Whatever happens, the punishment of Louis will now only be good if it bears the formal character of a public vengeance.

What does the contemptible figure of the last of the kings matter to the people? Representatives, what matters to it, what matters to you yourselves, is that you fulfil the duties that its confidence has imposed on you. The Republic is proclaimed; but have you given it to us? We have not yet made a single law that justifies the name; we have not yet reformed a single abuse of despotism: alter the names, and we still have the tyranny in its entirety, and on top of that factions that are viler, charlatans still more immortal, along with new ferments of troubles and civil war. The Republic! And Louis still lives! And you still place the king’s person between us and liberty! By way of scruples, let us fear making ourselves criminal; let us fear that by showing too much indulgence for the culprit we may be putting ourselves in his place.

Another difficulty. To what sentence shall we condemn Louis? The death penalty is too cruel. No, says another, life is crueller still: I demand that he live. Advocates for the king, is it from pity or cruelty that you want to shield him from the penalty for his crimes?

I myself abhor the death penalty generously prescribed by your laws; and for Louis I feel neither love nor hate; I just hate his crimes. I asked for the death penalty to be abolished in the Assembly you still name Constituent; and it is no fault of mine that the highest principles of reason seamed to it to be moral and political heresies. But you, who never think of citing them in favour of all the unfortunates whose offenses are less theirs than the government’s, by what fluke do you now recall them to plead the cause of the greatest criminal of all? You are demanding an exception to the death penalty for the one individual who can justify it. Yes, the death penalty, in general, is a crime, and for the sole reason that, in keeping with the indestructible principles of nature, it can only be justified where it is necessary for the security of individuals or the social body. Now public security never requires it for ordinary offences, because society can always stop them by other means and make the culprit powerless to damage it. But a dethroned king in the middle of a revolution, which is nothing unless consolidated by the laws, a king whose name along calls down the scourge of war on the disturbed nation: neither prison nor exile can render his existence harmless to the public good; and this cruel exception that justice allows to ordinary laws can be imputed only to the nature of his crimes.

I utter this deadly truth with regret, but Louis must die, because the homeland has to live. Among a peaceable, free people, respected at home and abroad, you might listen to the advice being given to you to be generous; but a people whose liberty is still being disputed after so many sacrifices and battles, a people in whose country the laws are still only inexorable towards the unfortunate, a people in whose country the crimes of tyranny are still subjects of dispute, such a people must want to be avenged; and the generosity for which you are being praised would resemble too much that of a society of bandits sharing our spoils.

I propose that you give an immediate ruling on Louis’s fate. As for his wife, you will send her back to the courts, along with all the individuals aware of the same attacks. His son will be kept in the Temple, until such time as peace and public liberty should be established. As for Louis, I ask that the National Convention declare him from this moment a traitor to the French nation, a criminal towards humanity; I ask that a great example be given to the world, at the same place where, on 10 August, the generous martyrs to liberty lost their lives. I ask that this memorable event be commemorated with a monument to nourish in the hearts of peoples the sense of their rights and horror of tyrants; and in the minds of tyrants, salutatory terror of the people’s justice.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia on the Civil War in the United States (1861–65) and the Reconstruction of the South

Union and Confederate troops clash at the Battle of Franklin in Tennessee, 1864.(Library of Congress/Kurz and Allison)

Union and Confederate troops clash at the Battle of Franklin in Tennessee, 1864. (Library of Congress/Kurz and Allison)

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979).

Civil War in the United States, 1861–65, and the Reconstruction of the South

The Civil War in the United States was a natural result of the sharp worsening of antagonistic economic and political contradictions between the capitalist North and the slave-owning South.

By the mid-1850’s a revolutionary situation had begun to take shape in the United States. It became more and more evident that the contradictions between the two social systems would inevitably develop into an armed struggle for power and for the nationwide victory of one of the social systems. Slavery had become the main obstacle to the development of capitalism in the United States, and the necessity of destroying it had become inevitable. Civil war in Kansas (1854–56), the insurrection led by John Brown in 1859, and the intensified movement for the abolition of slavery were evidence of the approach of a sharp conflict.

In 1860, A. Lincoln, the candidate of the Republican Party, was elected president of the United States. For the Democratic Party, in which slave owners had a very strong influence, his election meant loss of power on a national scale. In response to Lincoln’s election, the slave owners proclaimed the secession of the southern slave-owning states from the Union and began to prepare for civil war. In February 1861 in Montgomery, Alabama, the Confederacy of slave-owning states was formed and joined by 11 of the 34 states. In April 1861 the troops of the Confederacy began the rebellion and captured forts and arsenals in the South, where the major part of weapons and ammunition had been concentrated as early as J. Buchanan’s presidency. Only Fort Sumter in South Carolina offered resistance, but after two days it surrendered on April 14.

The theater of military action was an enormous territory bordered on the north and west by the Potomac, Ohio, and Missouri rivers, on the east by the Atlantic Ocean, and on the south by the Gulf of Mexico. The northern states had a population of 22 million. The North was covered with a dense rail network and had well-developed industry, including almost all the metallurgical, textile, and arms industries of the entire nation. About 9 million people lived in the territory of the southern states, including 4 million Negro slaves. A significant part of the population of the southern states did not support the rebels. The South did not have the essential economic base for waging a prolonged war. There were considerably fewer cities and railroads in the South than in the North. Combat operations were waged primarily along railroads and rivers, which made it easier to move and supply troops.

The size of the regular US Army was only 14,000–16,000 men. They were scattered along the western borders, where they were used primarily to pacify the Indians, and they did not represent a serious fighting force. At the beginning of the war a significant number of the officers were from slave-owning families and went over to the Confederate side. Among them was the capable general R. Lee, who became commander of the South. When war broke out, President Lincoln declared a call-up of 75,000 volunteers, and later a draft was instituted. In turn, the president of the Confederacy, J. Davis, drafted 100,000 men into the army at the beginning of the war. For the entire period of the war 2.7 million were drafted into the army of the North, and 1.1 million into the army of the South. The basic unit was the infantry division, which consisted of three brigades of two regiments each. (A regiment had ten companies of 80–100 men each.) A corps was made up of two to three divisions, and two to five corps were consolidated into an army.

The war plan of the southern slave owners was adventuris-tic. It was calculated to take advantage of surprise and to use aid from Great Britain and France. The South intended to capture quickly the states of Missouri, Tennessee, and Virginia and then to attack Washington, D.C., and force the government to accept the slave owners’ conditions. The North’s plan was for passive defense. At first the North intended to restrict its troops to defense and to wage particular operations in which the troops who were being raised would gradually be prepared for offensive action.

The main issue of the Civil War was slavery. The rebel slave owners endeavored to preserve slavery as a social system and spread it to the entire territory of the USA and in the future even to the countries of South America. At the beginning of the war the Lincoln administration saw as its primary task the restoration of the Union and prevention of the spread of slavery to the new territories.

In the first stage of the war (1861–62) the North suffered a series of grave defeats. In the first period the combat operations of the main forces unfolded in the Washington-Richmond axis. In mid-July 1861 the 35,000–man army of the North led by General I. McDowell invaded Virginia and reached the Bull Run River, which at the same time was approached by a 31,000–man army of the South commanded by General Lee. In the battle of Manassas (or Bull Run) on July 21 the poorly armed and trained Northern troops were routed, and they retreated to Washington, D.C., in disorder. However, the Southerners did not take advantage of their success.

The Northern command directed its primary attention to forming a large army and establishing defensive structures. A new strategic plan was developed, the Anaconda Plan, which envisioned the establishment of a ring of army and naval forces around the southern states. This ring would be tightened gradually until the rebels were finally suppressed. Marx and Engels were severely critical of this plan, describing it as a “rebirth … of the so-called cordon system, which was used in 1792–97 against the French with such stubbornness, and always without success” (Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 15, pp. 505–506). They believed that the main thrust should be delivered against the state of Georgia. The capture of Georgia would have split the territory of the Confederacy into two isolated parts, deprived the Confederacy of economic resources, and brought the 500,000 Negro slaves in Georgia into the struggle (ibid., pp. 506–507).

In April 1862 the 100,000–man army of the North commanded by the untalented General G. McClellan again began an attempt to capture Richmond, attacking from Fort Monroe. However, at the approaches to the capital of the southern states, McClellan’s army encountered a well-prepared system of engineer fortifications. In the battle of June 26–July 2 on the Chickahominy River east of Richmond, the Northerners were defeated by an 80,000–man army of the South, and they retreated toward Washington, D.C. In September 1862, General Lee attempted to capture Washington, D.C but after an initial success (the so-called second battle of Manassas or Bull Run on August 30), he was unable to achieve victory at Antietam (September 16–17), and he was forced to retreat beyond the Potomac. The attempt of the army of the North to go over to a new offensive against Richmond was also unsuccessful; on December 11–13 the Army of the Potomac under General J. Hooker was defeated at Fredericksburg. Between June and November 1862 the Southern command made several cavalry raids under T. Jackson and J. Stuart in order to strike the enemy from the rear, but these raids did not produce the desired results.

In the western and southern parts of the Mississippi Valley military actions had a local character. Northern troops under the command of generals U. Grant and B. Butler, supported by Admiral D. Farragut’s squadron, took Memphis. Corinth, and New Orleans. The successful blockade of southern ports by the fleet of the North, which deprived the Confederacy of communications with Great Britain and France, was very important. Actions by the South’s cruisers, including the Alabama, inflicted substantial losses on the North’s merchant fleet but did not have a major influence on the course of the war.

The successes of the rebels are partially explained by their being better prepared for war. However, the main reason for the military defeats of the North was that the bourgeoisie of the North was afraid to rely on the popular masses in the struggle with the slave owners. Influential bourgeois circles in the North continued to seek ways to solve the conflict by compromise. This policy was completely hopeless from a military and a political point of view. Noting the decisive demands of the popular masses in the North to switch to revolutionary methods of waging war, Marx wrote: “If Lincoln does not give in (but he will give in), there will be a revolution” (ibid., vol. 30, p. 222). Marx expressed his firm belief that “waging war in a revolutionary way still lies in the future” (ibid., vol. 15, p. 542).

Marx’ prediction proved to be entirely correct. In 1862, under the pressure of the popular masses and military failures. Congress implemented a number of measures for the purpose of switching to revolutionary methods of waging war. A law was published confiscating the property of rebels, and the death sentence was instituted for treason against the United States. Especially important were the Homestead Act, which was adopted on May 20, 1862, and Lincoln’s proclamation liberating the Negro slaves in the rebel states. which went into effect on Jan. 1. 1863. The slaves were freed without land and without compensation to their owners.

In 1863 a new stage in the war began, which was characterized by important changes in the entire course of the country’s political life and in the strategy and tactics of the Union Army. The political activism of the popular masses increased in the North, and a number of serious attacks were made on counterrevolutionary forces. The Union Army was replenished with new worker regiments. About 190.000 Negroes. 72 percent of them from the southern states, entered the army of the North, and 250.000 Negroes served in rear units.

At the beginning of the second stage of the war (1863–65) the South still held the initiative. On May 2–4, 1863. northern troops were defeated again at Chancellorsville, but the turning point of the war followed this defeat.

In June 1863, General Lee’s 64,000–man army began to advance into Pennsylvania, and Stuart’s cavalry was sent on a deep raid. The Southerners were met by General G. Meade’s 85,000–man army. In an encounter battle at Gettysburg on July 1–3 the army of the South, deprived of cavalry support, suffered a serious defeat. A major success was achieved in the Mississippi Basin, where Grant’s army captured the upper reaches of the river and then besieged and forced the surrender of the fort at Vicksburg (July 4. 1863). The entire line of the Mississippi passed to the control of the North, and the territory of the Confederacy was split into two parts. The decisive role in achieving these successes was played by the farmers, workers, and artisans who poured into the army, fought selflessly, and gave an active character to combat operations. Negroes played an important part in the struggle against the army of the South: they did reconnaissance, attacked southern troops from the rear, and served as guides. The government of the Confederacy was forced to assign 100.000 soldiers to fight rebellious slaves.

The combat operations of the North during 1864–65 were decisive and had the character of maneuvers. General Grant, who was appointed general-in-chief in March 1864, developed a new strategic plan. General Meade’s 122,000–man Army of the Potomac would attack the South from the north, destroy the main forces of General Lee’s army, and capture Richmond. General W. Sherman’s 100,000–man army would attack from west to east against General J. Johnston’s army, which was covering the central region of the Confederacy, and would deliver a thrust against the most important economic centers of the South. At the same time. General Butler’s 36,000–man army would attack Richmond from the east. The offensive began in the first days of May 1864. Meade’s army approached Richmond but was unable to capture the city. Relying on fortified positions, the enemy offered desperate resistance and at the same time attempted to deliver a thrust against Washington, D.C. However, on Sept. 19, 1864, this attack was defeated at Winchester.

Workers of many nationalities participated on the side of the North in the Civil War, as did many revolutionaries who had emigrated to the United States from Europe (for example, J. Weydemeyer and G. P. Cluseret). The North was actively supported by the English workers, who offered decisive resistance to attempts by the British government to intervene in the Civil War on the side of the slave owners. As the war progressed, the economic and military superiority of the North was increasingly evident. The international position of the Lincoln government also grew stronger. Russian policy promoted this to a significant degreee. Russia had an interest in the existence of a unified United States opposed to Great Britain and France, which were then tsarist Russia’s chief rivals. The arrival of two Russian squadrons in September-October 1863 in New York and San Francisco was interpreted in the United States and Western European countries as a demonstration of friendship toward the Lincoln government.

The transition to revolutionary methods of waging war significantly strengthened the position of Lincoln, who was reelected president in 1864. The armies of the North continued their successful offensive operations. The “march to the sea” by General Sherman’s army was particularly important. Pursuing the retreating enemy, Sherman’s army took Atlanta on Sept. 2, 1864, and on December 21 it took Savannah and reached the Atlantic Ocean. Then Sherman turned north and on Feb. 18, 1865, captured Columbia, reaching the rear units of Lee’s army, whose position had become hopeless. On Apr. 3, 1865, Grant’s troops took Richmond. Lee’s army began to retreat to the southeast, but it was overtaken and surrounded by Grant at Appomattox. On April 9, General Lee surrendered, and on April 26, General Johnston’s troops surrendered. The remaining troops of the South had ceased resistance by June 2. The war ended with the complete defeat of the slave owners.

On Apr. 14, 1865, exactly four years after the Civil War had begun, President Lincoln was mortally wounded by the actor Booth, an agent of the slave owners and reactionary circles in the North. Lincoln’s death was a grave loss for all of progressive America.

The Civil War was bloody and expensive. The North lost 360,000 men, who were killed or who died from wounds and diseases, and the South lost at least 250,000. About 1 million soldiers and officers of the North and South were wounded. Military expenditures and destruction were assessed at many billions of dollars. However, the sacrifices were not in vain. As V. I. Lenin noted, the Civil War in the United States had “very great progressive and revolutionary significance in world history” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 37, p. 58).

The Civil War in the United States reflected new phenomena in the development of the art of war. It was distinguished by its large scope and by the participation in it of enormous armies. The transition to revolutionary methods of waging war gave combat operations an active and decisive nature, which decided the victory over the South in advance. Railroads, a steam-powered navy, and riverboats were used extensively in the war. The invention of the telegraph made it possible to maintain operational control of troops over significant distances. The large scope of the armed struggle and significant losses made it necessary to train reserves and establish reserve supplies. The development of the rifled firearm and its increased speed of fire, accuracy, and range led to large losses in the battle formations of troops who attacked in dense, deep columns. Static forms of battle and engineer preparation of the terrain became widespread. Heavy artillery preparation to neutralize enemy fire was required to overcome a defense equipped with trenches, dugouts, and barriers. Combat operations at sea were characterized by the blockade of the coast and the most important ports, and naval battles became artillery contests. The war gave impetus to the development of an armored fleet.

The working masses played the decisive role in crushing the slave owners, but the fruits of victory were enjoyed primarily by the bourgeoisie, which achieved its main goals. Slavery, which had hindered the development of capitalism, was abolished. Favorable conditions were established for the development of capitalism in agriculture by individual farmers—that is, by the American method. The creation of a single national market was begun and control over the entire economic and political life of the country was concentrated in the hands of the bourgeoisie. However, a powerful workers’, farmers’, and Negro movement threatened the dominance of the bourgeoisie. Under these conditions there appeared a clear-cut policy of concluding a class alliance between the bourgeoisie and the plantation owners, directed against the working people.

Reactionary circles in the North and South were especially disturbed by events that unfolded in the southern states. Led by the Radical Republicans, the Negroes and some of the poor whites began an organized struggle to obtain land for themselves and to win the right to vote for the former slaves. A true battle began in the southern states between the Negroes and bands of the Ku Klux Klan, a terrorist organization founded in the South in 1865. The struggle of the Negroes to win equal rights with whites was revolutionary. It developed under very difficult conditions, because the federal government acted as an ally of the plantation owners. In order to thwart the movement of the popular masses in the South, A. Johnson, who became president of the United States after the assassination of Lincoln, advanced a program that amounted to a formal recognition by the former rebel states of the abolition of slavery. At the same time, under Johnson’s plan all power in the South would remain in the hands of the former slave owners. Amnesty was granted to thousands of active participants in the rebellion. By February 1867 property valued at 2 billion dollars had been returned to the plantation owners. The Negroes did not receive any rights, and they became landless agricultural workers.

Having consolidated their economic and political position in the South, the plantation owners raised the question of restoring slavery and openly laid claim to participation in federal governmental bodies. This was already a direct attempt to change the results of the Civil War, and it was an open threat to the bourgeois monopoly of state power. The Negroes offered fierce resistance to the former slave owners’ offensive. Leagues of alliance, which united Negroes and poor whites, created armed detachments, consisting primarily of Negroes. They were the bulwark of the revolutionary movement in the South. These detachments played an important part in implementing the Radical Reconstruction of the South, the beginning of which was marked by the First Reconstruction Act of Mar. 2, 1867.

The purpose of Radical Reconstruction was to carry out bourgeois-democratic reforms in the South and restrict the power of the former slave owners. All power in the South was transferred to the federal army. Active participants in the rebellion were deprived of all political rights. More than 1 million Negroes received the right to vote. The transition to Radical Reconstruction was brought about not only by the Negro struggle against the plantation owners but also by major changes that were taking place in the North. In December 1865, Congress officially sanctioned the emancipation of the Negroes by ratifying the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, and in June 1866 the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution recognized the right of Negroes to vote.

With the participation of Negro voters, in the summer of 1867 constitutional assemblies were elected, which adopted new bourgeois-democratic constitutions for the southern states. The socioeconomic system of the southern states began to be restructured on new, bourgeois principles. The Negroes were an important moving force in the Reconstruction. In a number of cases they seized the lands of plantation owners, and they participated actively in the work of local governmental agencies. For the first time in the history of the country, 16 Negroes were elected to the US Congress. During Reconstruction the Negroes made great progress in public education. The number of Negro students increased more than 500 times in comparison with 1860 and reached 500,000 by the end of Reconstruction. Significant gains were made in the development of industry, transportation, trade, and organization of public services in populated areas.

However, the agrarian question remained unresolved, just as it had been during the Civil War. The overwhelming majority of the Negroes and poor whites remained in the position of agricultural workers and sharecroppers without any rights. The workers’ and farmers’ movement of the North and West did not give direct support to the revolutionary struggle of the Negroes in the South. Without this support the Negro movement was doomed to failure. This was in fact its fate. Taking advantage of racial prejudices, the plantation owners were able to split the united front of the Republicans in the South and begin taking power in one southern state after another. By 1877 the Republicans held power in only three southern states. In April 1877 the federal government withdrew its troops from these states, and power in them was immediately seized by the plantation owners. The withdrawal of federal troops from the southern states was a direct betrayal by the Northern bourgeoisie of its Negro allies. This traitorous act marked the end of the Reconstruction of the South.

Despite the restoration of the power of the plantation owners in the South, Reconstruction played an important, positive role in the history of the South and the entire country. The revolutionary struggle of the Negroes and their white allies thwarted plans to reestablish slavery in the South. The restructuring of the southern states in the interests of capitalist development completed the process of establishing a single national market. The active participation of broad popular masses in Reconstruction as well as the revolutionary methods of struggle to which they resorted gave Reconstruction a bourgeois-democratic revolutionary character. During Reconstruction attempts were made to solve problems that the Civil War had been unable to resolve. For this reason, Reconstruction is viewed as a continuation of the Civil War and as the second phase of the bourgeois-democratic revolution of 1861–77. However, unlike the Civil War, the period of Reconstruction was not marked by the formation of a united front of northern workers and farmers and southern Negroes. The active role of the popular masses and the results achieved were significantly less under Reconstruction than during the Civil War. Reconstruction was a descending stage in the second American revolution.

REFERENCES

Marx, K. “Amerikanskii vopros v Anglii.” In K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch. 2nd ed., vol. 15.
Marx, K. “Grazhdanskaia voina v Severnoi Amerike.” Ibid.
Marx, K. “Grazhdanskaia voina v Soedinennykh Shtatakh.” Ibid.
Marx, K. “Otstranenie Frimonta.” Ibid.
Marx, K. “Anglo-amerikanskii konflikt.” Ibid.
Marx, K. “K kritike polozheniia v Amerike.” Ibid.
Engels. F. “Uroki amerikanskoi voiny.” Ibid.
Engels, F. “Bronenosnye i tarannye suda i grazhdanskaia voina v Amerike.” Ibid.
Marx, K., and F. Engels. “Grazhdanskaia voina v Amerike.” Ibid.
Engels. F. K. Marksu, 3 iulia 1861 g. i 30 iulia 1862 g. (Letters.) Ibid., vol. 30.
Lenin, V. I. “Novye dannye o zakonakh razvitiia kapitalizma v zemledelii.” Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 27.
Lenin, V. I. “Pis’mo k amerikanskim rabochim.” Ibid., vol. 37.
Lenin, V. I. Ibid., vol. 17, p. 129; vol. 22, p. 345; vol. 23, p. 128; vol. 30, p. 354.
Foster, W. Negritianskii narod v istorii Ameriki. Moscow, 1955. (Translated from English.)
Foster, W. Ocherk politicheskoi istorii Ameriki, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1955.
Allen. J. Rekonstruktsiia: Bitva za demokratiiu v SShA, 1865–1876. Moscow, 1963. (Translated from English.)
K stoletiiu grazhdanskoi voiny v SShA. Moscow, 1961.
Ivanov, R. F. Grazhdanskaia voina v SShA (1861–1865). Moscow, 1960.
Ivanov, R. F. Bor’ba negrov za zemliu i svobodu na iuge SShA (1865–1877). Moscow, 1958.
Ivanov, R. F. Linkol’n i grazhdanskaia voina v SShA. Moscow, 1964.
Kuropiatnik, G. P. Vtoraia amerikanskaia revoliutsiia. Moscow, 1961.
Blinov, A. I. Kriticheskii period istorii Soedinennykh shlatov: Rekonstruktsiia (vosstanovlenie Soiuza) SShA posle okonchaniia grazhdanskoi voiny (1865–1877).[Krasnoiarsk] 1957.
Blinov, A. I. Period revoliutsionnoi diktatury radikal’nykh respub-likantsev vo vremia rekonstruktsii SShA (1866–1868). Krasnoiarsk, 1960.
Dement’ev, I. P. Amerikanskaia istoriografiia grazhdanskoi voiny v SShA (1861–1865). Moscow, 1963.
Malkin, M. M. Grazhdanskaia voina v SShA i tsarskaia Rossiia. Moscow-Leningrad, 1939.
Gausman, I. Voina v Soedinennykh Shtatakh Ameriki 1861–1865 gg., vols. 1–2. St. Petersburg, 1877–78.
Vigo Rusi Ton. F. P. Voennye sily Severo-Amerikanskikh shtatov: Voina za nerazdel’nosi Soiuza 1861–1865. St. Petersburg. 1868.
Danilov, N. A. Kampaniia Granta 1864 i 1865 gg. St. Petersburg, 1899.
R. F. IVANOV

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia on John Adams

US_Navy_031029-N-6236G-001_A_painting_of_President_John_Adams_(1735-1826),_2nd_president_of_the_United_States,_by_Asher_B._Durand_(1767-1845)-crop

Adams, John

Born Oct. 19, 1735; died July 4, 1826. American political leader and statesman.

During the American Revolution (1775–83), Adams was a member of the First and Second Continental Congresses. He took part in the negotiations which ended with the signing of the Treaty of Paris (1783) between the USA and Great Britain; moreover, he became the first US minister to Great Britain (1785–88). Adams later became one of the leaders of the Federalist Party, which represented the interests of the conservative wing of the American bourgeoisie. During the years 1789–97 he served as vice-president and from 1797 to 1801 as president of the USA. Adams’ administration was marked by the adoption in 1798 of the Alien and Sedition Acts, which were directed against revolutionary emigrants from Europe and which made it difficult to acquire American citizenship. The Sedition Act provided for imprisonment for criticizing the government.

REFERENCES

Efimov A. V. Ocherki istorii SShA, 2nd. ed. Moscow, 1958. Chapter 2.
Morse, J. T. John Adams. Boston-New York, 1912.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia on Thomas Paine

800px-Thomas_Paine_rev1

Paine, Thomas

Born Jan. 29, 1737, in Thetford, England; died June 8, 1809, in New York (USA). Public and political figure in the USA and Great Britain. A member of the revolutionary wing of the 18th-century Enlightenment.

In 1774, Paine left England for North America, carrying a letter of introduction from B. Franklin. He soon emerged in the forefront of the proponents of independence for the British colonies. In the pamphlet Common Sense (1776), Paine,taking as his point of departure rationalist theories of natural law and the social contract, advocated the idea of the sovereignty of the people and the right to revolution. He demonstrated that it was necessary for the North American colonies to break away from Great Britain and form an independent republic. The ideas expressed in Common Sense were reflected in the Declaration of Independence (1776). Paine, like Jefferson, favored the abolition of slavery.

During the War of Independence in North America (1775–83), Paine wrote a series of 13 pamphlets under the title The American Crisis (1776–83). From 1777 to 1779 he was secretary of the congressional Committee for Foreign Affairs,and in 1781 he took part in the Paris negotiations with the French government concerning aid for the North American colonies.

Paine was an ardent supporter of the French Revolution, which broke out while he was in Great Britain. In the treatise The Rights of Man (1791–92) he developed the ideas of popular sovereignty and republicanism and defended the revolutionary principles of the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. Paine’s book was banned in Great Britain, and he was forced to emigrate to France, where he was elected a member of the Convention. However, he broke with the Jacobins on the question of the execution of Louis XVI, and in late 1793 he was put in prison, where he spent about a year. As a result of his experience in France, his social views developed, particularly his criticism of bourgeois property relations from a petit bourgeois standpoint. In Agrarian Justice (1797), he condemned the system of property distribution and speculated that labor is the source of capitalist profit. He developed a Utopian plan for state support of the poor through taxation of the propertied classes and through the nationalization of land under a redemption system.

Paine was among those who introduced atheistic traditions into America. In the Age of Reason (1794) the force of reason is decisively pitted against religious delusions. As a philosopher, Paine is perhaps best described as an inconsistent metaphysical materialist.

In 1802, Paine returned to the USA, where, persecuted by reactionary political and religious circles, he died in poverty. The views of Paine—the most consistent spokesman of the radical democratic tendency in the American sociopolitical movement of the late 18th century—directly influenced the shaping of the ideology of the Chartist movement in Great Britain.

WORKS

The Complete Writings, vols. 1–2. New York [1945].
In Russian translation:
Izbr. soch. Moscow, 1959.

REFERENCES

Marx, K., and F. Engels. Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 2, pp. 598–99; vol. 10, p. 365.
Aptheker, H. Istoriia amerikanskogo naroda [vol. 2]: Amerikanskaia revoliutsiia 1763–1783. Moscow, 1962.
Gromakov, B. S. Politicheskie i pravovye vzgliady Peina. Moscow, 1960.
Gol’dberg, N. M. Tomas Pein. Moscow, 1969.
Parrington, V. L. Osnovnye techeniia amerikanskoi mysli, vol. 1. Moscow, 1962.
Conway, M. D. The Life of Thomas Paine, vols. 1–2. New York-London, 1892.
Aldridge, A. O. Man of Reason: The Life of Thomas Paine. Philadelphia, 1959.

I. P. DEMENT’EV

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia on Thomas Jefferson

Official_Presidential_portrait_of_Thomas_Jefferson_(by_Rembrandt_Peale,_1800)

Jefferson, Thomas

Born Apr. 13, 1743, in Albemarle County, Va.; died July 4, 1826, at Monticello. American statesman and public figure.

On his mother’s side Jefferson was descended from a family of rich Virginia landowners. He received a broad education. From 1769 to 1774 he was a deputy to the Virginia legislature. He helped organize a revolutionary group in Virginia—the Committee of Correspondence, which was modeled after similar committees in other colonies. In 1775, Jefferson was elected a deputy to the Continental Congress, which had decided on the separation of the North American colonies from Great Britain. He was the author of the Declaration of Independence, which Congress accepted during the War for Independence in North America (1775-83). Jefferson intended to extend the rights enunciated in the declaration to Negro slaves, but the slaveowners were opposed. He played an active role in the democratization of the social structure of Virginia.

As a member of the Virginia House of Delegates between 1776 and 1779, Jefferson took part in a review of extant legislation. The feudal order in landownership—primogeniture, semifeudal rent, and prohibition of the sale of lots of land—was abolished. He was the author of the Statute on Religious Freedom, and he worked hard for its adoption, influencing the constitutions of other states and the constitutional provision for the separation of church and state in the USA. In 1784, Jefferson urged Congress to nationalize the lands of the West and prohibit slavery in all newly admitted states. However, the latter suggestion was accepted only in connection with the Northwest Territory. From 1779 to 1781,Jefferson was governor of Virginia, from 1785 to 1789, US minister in Paris, and from 1790 to 1793, secretary of state in G. Washington’s first administration. He welcomed the Great French Revolution, but he considered it expedient for the USA not to participate in the military struggles in Europe.

Jefferson was an outstanding representative of the left revolutionary wing of the 18th-century Enlightenment. Expressing the interests of farmers and the petite bourgeoisie, he criticized the American Revolution for its incompleteness and pointed to the necessity for a democratic solution of the agrarian question, the abolition of slavery, and the granting of political rights to all the people. He considered the Constitution of 1787 insufficiently democratic and argued that it required a supplementary bill of rights. Jefferson carried on a long polemic with the leader of the Federalist Party, A. Hamilton, who represented the interests of the powerful bourgeoisie of the Northeast. Jefferson considered private property a natural right of man and saw in it the basis of the harmony of interests of society, influenced by the Physiocrats, he exaggerated the role of agriculture, considering it the main source of social wealth. Later, he recognized the necessity for the development of American industry and supported a strict equilibrium between agriculture, industry, trade, and banks. He advocated a democratic solution of the agrarian question.

Jefferson’s disagreement with the policies of Washington’s administration forced him to retire from office. He led the opposition Democratic-Republicans, and his democratic slogans were supported by the people. In 1796, Jefferson was elected vice-president, and from 1801 to 1809 he was president of the USA. As president, Jefferson pursued a moderate policy of compromise among the various strata of society. During his presidency many reactionary laws that had been adopted during the presidency of his predecessor, J. Adams, were abolished, and the army, navy, and government bureaucracy were reduced. In foreign affairs, Jefferson’s presidency was distinguished by the acquisition of French Louisiana in 1803 and the establishment of diplomatic relations with Russia in 1808-09. In 1807 he declared an embargo that prohibited the export of all goods from the USA, in the hope that this would cause difficulties for Great Britain and France, which had been seizing American merchant vessels. However, the embargo hurt primarily the economy of the USA, and it was lifted in 1809.

After he left the presidency, Jefferson retired from political life. Progressive forces in the USA draw on the best Jeffersonian traditions in the struggle for peace and democracy.

WORKS

Papers, vols. 1-17. Edited by J. P. Boyd. Princeton, N.J., 1950-65. The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, vols. 1-20. Washington, D. C., 1903-04.

REFERENCES

Marx, K., and F. Engels. Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 16, p. 17.
Foster, W. Ocherk politicheskoi istorii Ameriki, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1955. (Translated from English.)
Efimov, A. V. Ocherki istorii SShA, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1958.
Ocherki novoi i noveishei istorii SShA, vol. 1. Moscow, 1960.
Zakharova, M. N. “O genezise idei T. Dzheffersona.” Voprosi istorii, 1948, no. 3.
Al’ter, L. B. Burzhuaznaia politicheskaia ekonomiia SShA. Moscow, 1971. Pages 64-70.
Parrington, V. Osnovnye techeniia amerikanskoi mysli, vols. 1-2. Moscow, 1962. (Translated from English.)
Kimball, M. Jefferson. [Series 1-3.] New York [1943-50].
Cunningham, N. E. Jeffersonian Republicans.… Oxford, 1958.
Peterson, M. D. The Jefferson Image in the American Mind. New York, 1960.
Malone, V.Jefferson and His Time, vols. 1-3. Boston, 1948-62.

A. A. FURSENKO

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia on James Madison

James_Madison

Madison, James

Born Mar. 16, 1751, in Port Conway, Va.; died June 28, 1836, in Montpelier, Va. American statesman.

Madison took part in the War for Independence (1775-83). He was the author of a proposal that formed the basis of the American Constitution (1787). In a series of articles written for the press, Madison defended the new constitution and advocated broadening the power of the central government. After first supporting the Federalists, Madison later joined the Republicans and headed their right wing in Congress. From 1789 to 1797 he was a member of the House of Representatives. From 1801 to 1809 he served as secretary of state in the administration of T. Jefferson. He was president of the USA from 1809 to 1817. In the first period of his presidency Madison was occupied primarily with foreign policy problems connected with the Anglo-American War of 1812-14. During his second term he advocated the general development of American industry.