Category Archives: Capitalist Restoration and Counterrevolution

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia on the Great October Socialist Revolution

Great October Socialist Revolution

the first victorious socialist revolution in history, accomplished in 1917 by the Russian working class in alliance with the poor peasantry under the leadership of the Communist Party (formerly, the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party [Bolshevik]), headed by Lenin. The name “October” comes from the date October 25 (November 7, new style), when the Russian Provisional Government was overthrown and state power passed into the hands of the soviets of workers’ and soldiers’ Deputies. As a result of the October Revolution the power of the bourgeoisie and landlords in Russia was abolished, the dictatorship of the proletariat was established, and the Soviet socialist state was founded. The Great October Socialist Revolution represented the triumph of Marxism-Leninism and opened a new era in the history of humanity—that of the transition from capitalism to socialism and communism.

The socialist revolution in Russia as a product of historical laws. On the basis of a profound study of world history and of the conditions under which capitalist society arose and developed, its laws of development, and the antagonistic contradictions it contained, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, the founders of scientific communism, discovered the objective laws of social development. They also proved the inevitability of socialist revolution, the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat, and the transition of society from the capitalist socioeconomic system to that of communism. V. I. Lenin further developed all aspects of the Marxist theory of socialist revolution in the age of imperialism, the period when revolution came onto the agenda as an immediate practical task of the proletarian class struggle. Lenin scientifically proved that the world capitalist system had fully ripened for the socialist revolution by the beginning of the 20th century and that the imperialist stage is the eve of the socialist revolution. On the basis of the law of uneven economic and political development of the capitalist countries in the age of imperialism, Lenin concluded in 1915 that a proletarian revolution could first be victorious in several countries or even a single country. He developed the well-founded theory of the transformation of a bourgeois democratic revolution into a socialist one. He elaborated a strategy and tactics for the working class and its party and worked out the problem of the allies of the proletariat in the revolution. The Bolshevik Party set a classic example of the way to lead a victorious socialist revolution.

At the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th, Russia entered the imperialist stage of capitalist development, almost simultaneously with the most advanced capitalist countries. Monopolistic conglomerates such as Prodamet, Truboprodazha, Produgol’, and Prodvagon held the dominant positions in industry. At the beginning of World War I there were more than 150 monopolies in operation in Russia, and they controlled all the basic branches of industry. Prodamet, a merger of 30 major metalworking enterprises and joint-stock companies, owned more than 70 percent of all the share capital invested in the country’s metalworking industry and was responsible for more than 80 percent of all metal production. The Railwaymen’s Union, which had been formed as early as the 1880’s, was responsible for as much as 75 percent of all rail production. The Prodvagon syndicate had concentrated into its hands virtually all production of railroad cars in the country. The Produgol’ syndicate controlled 70 percent of all coal selling. As much as 80 percent of all kerosene sales in Russia were the domain of the Nobel’-Mazut Company. The sugar manufacturers’ syndicate controlled 90 percent of sugar production, and that of the match manufacturers controlled 95 percent of match production. During World War I about 900 new joint-stock companies came into existence, with capital assets of more than 1.6 billion rubles. Monopolistic associations of the trust type and financial groups whose working capital figured in the billions of rubles appeared—for example, the concerns of I. I. Stakheev and N. A. Vtorov. Lenin wrote that “the number of large stockholders is insignificant; but the role they play, like the wealth they possess, is tremendous” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 32, p. 109). Major banking associations arose alongside the industrial monopolies. These included the Russo-Asiatic Bank, the St. Petersburg International Commercial Bank, and the Azov-Don Bank. As much as 80 percent of all banking capital was concentrated in the hands of the 12 largest banks. Russia stood at the head of the major capitalist countries in the extent to which its banks had concentrated capital. Banking capital was intertwined with industrial capital, and finance capital appeared and attained an increasingly important position in the Russian economy. Similarly, the state apparatus and the capitalist monopolies became increasingly involved with each other. At the same time, monopoly capitalism was undergoing a process of transformation into state monopoly capitalism, a process that was accelerated during the war by the need to mobilize and regulate the economy for military purposes. State regulatory agencies came into existence, seeking to centralize the administration of many different branches of industry.

Thus, the extent to which industry had become monopolized and banking capital concentrated and the high level to which state monopoly capitalism had developed testified to the fact that the material prerequisites for the socialist revolution in Russia had matured sufficiently. The objective conditions for the transition to socialism had come together, and the transition to socialism, according to Lenin, was “merely the next step forward from state-capitalist monopoly” (ibid., vol. 34, p. 192).

Imperialism in Russia, not essentially different from that of the advanced capitalist countries, did have a number of special features. A highly advanced industrial and financial capitalism existed alongside the general backwardness of the country. Besides the monopolistic forms of capitalism, there were vast stretches of the country where capitalist relations were only beginning to take shape. The specific features of economic development and its social structure in Russia were the interconnection between the most highly developed forms of capitalism and premonopolistic forms and the fact that capitalist relations were permeated with the very powerful elements surviving from feudal serfdom. Russia’s economy was dependent on foreign finance capital to a considerable degree. In spite of important successes in industry, transport, and banking, Russia remained a technologically and economically backward agrarian country in comparison with the United States, Britain, Germany, and France. It held fifth place among the great powers.

Large landholdings belonging to lords continued to exist in Russian agriculture. At the beginning of the 20th century the nobility alone still owned 61.9 percent of all private landholdings in the country. The Russian village suffered from land hunger and high rents. Lenin characterized the situation in the country at the beginning of the 20th century thus: “The most backward system of landownership, the most ignorant peasantry on the one hand, and the most advanced industrial and finance capitalism on the other” (ibid., vol. 16, p. 417).

Capitalism developed under specific conditions in Russia and found itself entangled in a mesh of elements surviving from feudalism and serfdom. Lenin’s profound understanding of the dialectics of this intertwining of socioeconomic relationships in the country led him to conclude that revolution was inevitable. “Russia’s backwardness,” he wrote, “merged in a peculiar way the proletarian revolution against the bourgeoisie with the peasant revolution against the landowners” (ibid., vol. 38, p. 306).

Besides the existence and development of the economic prerequisites, the social forces for a revolution headed by the working class grew and became strong in Russia. In 1917 the total number of urban and rural proletarians reached 15 million persons, among whom factory workers were about 3.5 million. Although the proletariat constituted only about 10 percent of the total population (in 1913, 159.2 million), its strength did not lie in its size relative to the rest of the population, but as Lenin put it, “in the fact that the proletariat economically dominates the center and nerve of the entire economic system of capitalism, and also because the proletariat expresses economically and politically the real interests of the overwhelming majority of the working people under capitalism” (ibid., vol. 40, p. 23).

A highly concentrated working class was typical of Russia. In 1915 about 60 percent of all industrial workers were employed at major enterprises which had work forces greater than 500; in the United States the corresponding figure was only 33 percent. More than 35 percent were employed in factories where the work force exceeded 1,000 persons; in the United States, the figure was 17 percent. As much as 64 percent of the industrial proletariat was employed in the Petrograd and Central industrial regions. Other major proletarian centers were the Urals, the Donbas, the Krivorozh’e, and Baku. This concentration of large masses of workers in major enterprises in the most important centers of the country, their savage exploitation by the capitalists, their total lack of political rights, and the crude, arbitrary way in which the ruling classes dealt with them resulted in a high level of political maturity and revolutionary spirit among the Russian proletariat. The special features of their situation promoted the wide circulation and acceptance of socialist ideas among the Russian proletariat, the heightening of their consciousness and level of organization, and the formation of a revolutionary vanguard—the working-class party. Such a party, a Marxist party of a new type, was created at the beginning of the 20th century, under Lenin’s leadership, by the Russian proletariat. Surging forward to make the revolution, the working class of Russia had at its head the heroic party of the Bolsheviks. By 1917 the Party had gained vast experience in political struggle and had a scientifically based program for the socialist transformation of society. The Russian working class, led by the Marxist party of the Bolsheviks, became a mighty social force in the country and the dominant organization in the revolution.

The Russian proletariat had wide support among the semiproletarian masses of the town and village. The millions of poor peasants, who had an interest in the eradication of vestiges, of feudalism and above all in the liquidation of the large landlords, allied themselves with the working class in the approaching socialist revolution. In 1905, 30,000 of the largest landlords in Russia owned 70 million desiatinas (1 desiatina = 1.09 hectares), and 10.5 million peasant households (more than 109 million people in 1913) owned only 75 million desiatinas. If a large landlord estate had on the average 2,300 desiatinas, the peasant household had on the average only seven to 15. Half the peasant households had only one or two desiatinas. The peasants were forced to rent land from the large landowners on extremely unfavorable terms. By 1917, 30 percent of the peasantry had no horses, 34 percent had no farm equipment, and 15 percent raised no crops of their own. Because of mobilizations for the army, only 38.7 percent of the able-bodied male population remained on the peasant farms. The village poor suffered especially severely at the hands of the large landlords, the kulaks, and the tsarist authorities. The poor constituted 65 percent of the rural population and were the most reliable allies of the working class. There was also broad support for the working class among the nonproletarian urban working people. In 1917 a significant proportion of the population in Russia’s cities (a total of over 22 million inhabitants) were craftsmen, peddlers, and lower-echelon office workers, all of whom were exploited and lacked political rights.

One of the peculiarities of Russia’s historical development was its multinational character. The numerous nationalities (more than 100) that were part of the Russian empire were cruelly exploited by tsarism, the Russian and local national bourgeoisie, and the feudal lords. Tsarism transformed Russia into a prison for all the peoples by following a policy of cruel oppression of the non-Russian nationalities—one of forced Russification, suppression of national cultures, and encouragement of prejudices and chauvinist disputes between nationalities. The most severe national contradictions were typical of Russia. Thus, the entire course of objective social development drew the oppressed peoples of Russia (of whom the absolute majority were poor peasants) into a joint revolutionary struggle with the Russian working class against social and national oppression.

The combination of feudal, capitalist, and national oppression with the political despotism of the autocracy made the situation unbearable for the masses of people and lent special sharpness to the class contradictions in Russia.

At the beginning of the 20th century Russia became the focal point of the contradictions of world imperialism, the weakest link in the imperialist chain. Here the economic and social prerequisites for the coming revolution had matured. During this time the center of the revolutionary movement shifted from Western Europe to Russia. A revolutionary situation developed in the country and resulted in the first Russian bourgeois democratic revolution of 1905-07. This was the prologue and dress rehearsal of the October Socialist Revolution.

Lenin wrote: “The first revolution and the succeeding period of counterrevolution (1907-14) laid bare the very essence of the tsarist monarchy, brought it to the “utmost limit,” exposed all the rottenness and infamy, the cynicism and corruption of the tsar’s clique, dominated by that monster Rasputin. It exposed all the bestiality of the Romanov family—those pogrom-makers who drenched Russia in the blood of Jews, workers, and revolutionaries” (ibid., vol. 31, p. 12).

The Russian proletariat approached the decisive political battles of 1917 with a great revolutionary tradition. It already had behind it the experience of the people’s revolution of 1905-07 and the subsequent class battles. The ripening of a new revolutionary situation was sharply accelerated by World War I (1914-18), which laid bare the sharp socioeconomic and political contradictions in Russia and the rottenness of the tsarist regime and revealed that, to all appearances, the further existence of the bourgeois-feudal order meant disaster for the country. The war resulted in tremendous destruction of the productive forces. There was a general breakdown in industry, transport, and agriculture. During the war, 3,884 major enterprises shut down, or 37.8 percent of a total of 9,750. The railroads were unable to handle the freight load because of the shortage of locomotives and railroad cars. Industry suffered from a severe shortage of fuel and raw materials. The grain harvest in 1916 was reduced from that of 1913 by 1.6 billion poods (a pood = 16.38 kg). The sown area was also greatly reduced. Russia’s financial dependence on foreign governments grew tremendously. Only decisive revolutionary measures directed against the autocracy and capitalism could save the country from imminent economic disaster. In the fall of 1916 a pre-revolutionary situation developed and a new popular revolution grew inexorably closer. Lenin wrote: “The war has created such an immense crisis, so strained the material and moral forces of the people, has dealt such blows at the entire modern social organization, that humanity must now choose between perishing or entrusting its fate to the most revolutionary class for the swiftest and most radical transition to a superior mode of production” (ibid., vol. 34, pp. 197-98). The war and the resulting militarization of industry led to a further concentration of production and sales in the hands of monopoly finance capital. “The dialectic of history is such,” wrote Lenin, “that the war, by extraordinarily expediting the transformation of monopoly capitalism into state-monopoly capitalism, has thereby extraordinarily advanced mankind toward socialism” (ibid., p. 193). The conditions for a victorious revolution had ripened in Russia.

The course toward socialist revolution. A step of utmost importance on the road to the socialist revolution in Russia was the February bourgeois democratic revolution of 1917, which overthrew the autocracy. During and after the February Revolution, as a result of the creative initiative of the broadest revolutionary masses throughout the country, soviets of workers’ and soldiers’ deputies were created, as well as soviets of peasants’ deputies and soldiers’ committees in the active-duty army and the rear garrisons. At the same time, trade unions and factory committees became widespread and units of workers’ militia and the Red Guard were formed. The victory over tsarism set all classes of the society into motion. A power struggle for control of the country began. The two major social forces, the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, stood in opposition to each other. Based on the armed power of the people, the soviets had the opportunity to take all power in the country into their own hands. But this opportunity was not realized because the leadership of the soviets had been seized by the petit-bourgeois parties of the Mensheviks and Socialist Revolutionaries (SR’s), who followed a policy of collaboration with the bourgeoisie and its main party, the Cadets.

The SR-Menshevik leadership of the soviets considered Russia not to be prepared for the socialist revolution and assumed that in the process of the bourgeois democratic revolution power could go to the bourgeoisie. Therefore, this leadership came to an agreement with the capitalist-landlord parties of the Constitutional Democrats (Cadets) and Octobrists and created conditions allowing them to take power. On March 2 (15) the bourgeois Provisional Government was established, headed by Prince G. E. L’vov. The Provisional Government was able to retain power only because of the cooperation of the soviets. In fact, dual power had been established in the country: it consisted of the Provisional Government, the organ of the bourgeois dictatorship, on the one hand, and the soviets of workers’ and soldiers’ deputies, the revolutionary democratic dictatorship of the workers and peasants, on the other. Lenin regarded the lack of sufficient political maturity and organizational effectiveness of the proletariat as the social cause of this dual power situation. Roughly 40 percent of the cadre, the most well-tempered in class attitude and revolutionary mood, had been mobilized for the front. Another social source of the situation was the unparalleled activization of petit-bourgeois layers of the population, who constituted an absolute majority in the country. Lenin wrote: “A gigantic petit-bourgeois wave has swept over everything and overwhelmed the class-conscious proletariat, not only by force of numbers but also ideologically; that is, it has infected and imbued very wide circles of workers with the petit-bourgeois political outlook” (ibid., vol. 31, p. 156).

The February Revolution did not resolve the fundamental questions on the minds of the people, questions concerning an end to the imperialist war and the conclusion of peace, the elimination of the system of large land-ownership, labor questions, and the abolition of national oppression. The bourgeois Provisional Government, supported by the collaborationist parties of the Mensheviks and SR’s, pursued an imperialist policy against the popular interests. The revolutionary Russian proletariat could not stop at the bourgeois democratic revolution, and as Lenin foresaw, its transformation into a socialist revolution was inevitable. Only a socialist revolution could resolve the pressing problems of social progress—the need to eliminate the bourgeois-landlord system in Russia, put an end to all forms of social and national oppression, and establish a dictatorship of the proletariat with the aim of building a socialist society.

A concrete and theoretically well-grounded program of struggle for the transition from the bourgeois democratic revolution to the socialist one was worked out by Lenin. In his Letters from Afar in March and in his April Theses he defined a course for the Communist Party to take toward the victory of the socialist revolution. He also delineated the driving forces of the revolution and the Party’s strategy and tactics. According to Lenin’s strategy, the power of the bourgeoisie and landlords would be overthrown by the forces of the revolutionary alliance between the working class and the poorest peasantry. The task was presented to establish the dictatorship of the proletariat in the form of a Soviet Republic—the best form of political organization for society, given the conditions in Russia, during the period of transition from capitalism to socialism. Lenin did not call for the immediate overthrow of the Provisional Government at this time, since it had the support of the soviets. Considering the peculiarities of the historical moment, Lenin warned against ultra-left adventuristic attempts to make a frontal assault upon the Provisional Government, as well as a right-opportunist attitude of confidence in it. He put forward the demand of “no support to the Provisional Government.”

Basing his policies on his estimation of the class forces in the country, Lenin directed the Party toward winning over the masses by broad and patient educational work to expose the counterrevolutionary nature of the Provisional Government and the betrayal of popular interests by the petit bourgeois parties that called themselves socialists, the Mensheviks and SR’s. In fact these parties represented the left wing of bourgeois democracy and were the main base of support of the state power of the imperialist bourgeoisie. The basic political line of the Bolsheviks, worked out by Lenin, was to transfer power to the soviets. But the SR-Menshevik leadership did not want that. The Bolsheviks strove to dislodge the Mensheviks and SR’s from their positions in the leadership of the soviets, win the majority in the soviets over to the Bolshevik side, and change the policies of the soviets. This was an orientation toward a peaceful development of the revolution. The transfer of power to the soviets would mean an end to dual power. “Humanity has not yet evolved and we do not as yet know of a type of government superior to and better than the soviets of workers’, agricultural laborers’, peasants’, and soldiers’ deputies,” wrote Lenin (ibid., p. 147).

In the April Theses an economic program for the transformation of Russia was also formulated. It provided for workers’ control over national production and distribution of goods, the amalgamation of all the banks in the country into a single national bank and the establishment of control over it by the soviets, confiscation of all landlords’ estates, nationalization of all the land in the country, and so forth. In the theses, Lenin also proposed that the Party’s program be revised and the Party be renamed, and that it was necessary to take the initiative in creating a Communist International.

The Bolshevik Party that emerged from the underground after the February Revolution had about 24,000 members. The Petrograd organization had 2,000, Moscow 600, and Kiev 200. The Party rallied around the platform developed by Lenin in the April Theses. It developed broad open political and organizational work among the masses and won to its ranks primarily the most active members of the working class. By the end of April it had a membership of more than 100,000 and was the mass political party of the Russian proletariat.

The Seventh (April) All-Russian Conference of the RSDLP (Bolshevik), which was held April 24-29 (May 7-12), played a large role in preparing for the socialist revolution. This conference, which was equal in importance to a Party congress, fully supported Lenin’s line on making a transition to the socialist revolution and elaborated the policies of the Party on all the fundamental questions of the revolution: war, the Provisional Government, the soviets, and agrarian and national questions. A new Central Committee of the Party was elected at the conference, with Lenin at its head.

Armed with Lenin’s April Theses and the resolutions of the conference, and above all with the slogan “All power to the soviets,” the Bolsheviks put all their energy into the work of winning the support of the popular masses and mobilizing them for the socialist revolution. They did an enormous amount of work in the soviets, trade unions, factory committees, the army, and cities and villages, exposing the collaborationist line of the Mensheviks and SR’s and winning the toiling masses over to their side, educating them, and establishing an alliance of the working class and the poor peasantry as the decisive force in the struggle for the victory of the socialist revolution. At countless meetings, assemblies, rallies, conferences, and congresses the best orators of the Bolshevik Party spoke out. The head of the Party, Lenin, spoke himself at many meetings, rallies, and congresses. The Bolsheviks organized the publication of many newspapers (in October there were as many as 80), leaflets, magazines, and pamphlets. Pravda did tremendous organizational, political, and ideological work. From March 5 (18) to July 5 (18), 1917, 99 issues were published, with a combined total of about 8 million copies. The daily printing run was 85,000-100,000 copies. On the pages of Pravda, issue after issue, the leading articles by Lenin and the appeals and resolutions of the Central Committee of the Party were published, as well as such items as the resolutions of meetings and rallies. As the class struggle continued, the Party’s aim was to convince millions of workers, soldiers, and peasants through their own experience that the Party’s policies were correct and should be defended in open struggle against the forces of counterrevolution.

One of the most crucial questions was that of war and peace. In a diplomatic note of April 18 (May 1) the minister of foreign affairs, P. N. Miliukov, expressing the Provisional Government’s desire to carry the war through “to a victorious conclusion,” aroused broad indignation and brought the revolutionary masses out in open antigovernment demonstrations. On April 20-21 (May 3—4) about 100,000 workers and soldiers of Petrograd, and after them the workers and soldiers of other cities, led by the Bolsheviks, demonstrated under banners reading “Down with the war!” and “All power to the soviets!” The mass demonstrations resulted in a crisis for the Provisional Government. Under pressure from the revolutionary forces, two ministers were removed from the Provisional Government, Miliukov and A. I. Guchkov, the minister of the navy. The SR-Menshevik leaders decided to created a coalition cabinet. Thus the first coalition government was formed on May 5 (18), with Prince G. E. L’vov as chairman. Joining the government along with representatives of the bourgeois-landlord parties (the Cadets and Octobrists) were the two Mensheviks I. G. Tsereteli and M. I. Skobelev and the two SR’s A. F. Kerensky and V. M. Chernov. The creation of the coalition government did not change the class nature of the government or the antipopular policies that it pursued.

The First All-Russia Congress of Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies convened on June 3 (16), 1917, in Petrograd. At the congress the Bolshevik Party had 105 delegates, the Mensheviks 248, and the SR’s 285. The congress majority adopted SR-Menshevik resolutions—in particular, one of support for the Provisional Government. The Bolsheviks, headed by Lenin, exposed the policies of the conciliators at the congress. Bolshevik influence among the masses grew stronger. Mass worker dissatisfaction with the policies of the government was growing all over the country.

On June 18 (July 1) about 500,000 workers and soldiers in the capital demonstrated for the demands “All power to the soviets,” “Down with the war,” and “Down with the ten capitalist ministers.” Carrying out the wishes of American, British, and French imperialists, as well as Russian imperialists, and with the support of the Congress of Soviets assured, the Provisional Government opened an offensive against the Germans on June 18 (July 1), but it soon collapsed. The news of the offensive and its collapse intensified the struggle of the proletariat and the soldiers. A new crisis for the Provisional Government began on July 2 (15). On July 3 (16) spontaneous demonstrations of workers and soldiers began in Petrograd, demanding that power be turned over to the soviets. The Central Committee of the RSDLP (Bolshevik) provided leadership to the spontaneous movement of the masses in order to keep it peaceful and well-organized. On July 4 (17) a peaceful demonstration was held in Petrograd with more than 500,000 participants. By order of the Provisional Government, and with the knowledge of the SR-Menshevik leaders of the All-Russian Executive Committee of the Soviets, there was an armed attack by military officers and cadets against the demonstrators. Fifty-six people were killed and 650 wounded.

The July events represented the last attempt by the revolutionary masses to solve the problem of power by peaceful means. On July 4(17) demonstrations took place in Moscow and other cities. The SR-Menshevik Central Executive Committee published an appeal in which it declared: “We have recognized the Provisional Government as the government of revolutionary salvation. We have recognized that it should have unlimited powers and unlimited authority.” A period of repression began. On July 5-6 (18-19) attacks were made on the editorial offices and printing presses of Pravda and on the Palace of Kshesinskaia, where the Central Committee and the Petrograd Committee of the Bolsheviks were located. On July 7 (20) a government decree ordering the arrest and trial of Lenin was published. He was forced to go underground, just as he had been under the tsarist regime. Bolsheviks began to be arrested, workers were disarmed, and revolutionary military units in Petrograd were disbanded or sent off to the front. On July 12 (25) the Provisional Government published a law introducing the death penalty at the front. The formation of a second coalition government, with Kerensky as chairman, was completed on July 24 (August 6). It was composed of Cadets, Mensheviks, and SR’s. Dual power came to an end. The possibility of a peaceful road of revolutionary development disappeared for the moment. Power passed completely into the hands of the counterrevolutionary Provisional Government. Lenin wrote: “The counterrevolution has become organized and consolidated and has actually taken state power into its hands” (ibid., vol. 34, p. 1). The betrayal of the SR’s and Mensheviks had resulted in a situation in which the soviets, under SR-Menshevik leadership, had already ceased to be organs of power. They had been transformed into mere appendages of the counterrevolutionary Provisional Government. Because of this, Lenin posed the question of temporarily dropping the slogan of “All power to the soviets.”

With the elimination of dual power, the development of the revolution entered a new phase. After analyzing every side of the situation that had developed in the country, Lenin concluded that the Party had to make a transition to a new tactic of struggle. He worked out this tactic in July in his theses entitled The Political Situation and in the articles “Three Crises,” “On Slogans,” “Constitutional Illusions,” and others like them. Lenin directed the Party toward armed insurrection as the only way of winning a victory for the revolution in the situation that had developed. In proposing that the Party drop the slogan “All power to the soviets,” which had formerly expressed an orientation toward a peaceful development of the revolution, Lenin explained that this would not mean an abandonment of the struggle for a republic of soviets. He was convinced that the soviets, once freed of domination by the petit-bourgeois parties, would become genuine organs of struggle for the proletarian dictatorship.

Lenin’s arguments were the basis of the resolutions adopted by the Sixth Congress of the RSDLP (Bolshevik), which was held semi-legally in Petrograd from July 26 to August 3 (August 8-16) and which represented a party that already had 240,000 members. Lenin guided the congress from underground through the Central Committee (he was then in Razliv). Those reporting at the congress included Ia. M. Sverdlov and J. V. Stalin. The congress approved the new tactics worked out for the Party by Lenin and oriented the Party toward preparations for an armed insurrection to establish the dictatorship of the proletariat. The congress also approved the economic platform that Lenin had earlier proposed in the April Theses. It especially stressed the importance of the alliance between the proletariat and the poor peasantry as the main prerequisite for the victory of the socialist revolution. The new Central Committee elected by the congress and headed by Lenin appealed to the people with a manifesto calling for preparations for a decisive confrontation with the counterrevolution.

“In 1917 the Leninist Party presented a great example of historic initiative and of a correct assessment of the balance of class forces and the specific features of the moment. At the different stages of the revolution the Party applied flexible and diverse tactics, utilizing peaceful and nonpeaceful, as well as legal and illegal, means of struggle, and demonstrating its ability to combine these means to move from one form or method of struggle to another. This is one of the fundamental aspects of the strategy and tactics of Leninism that distinguishes it from both Social Democratic reformism and petit-bourgeois adventurism” (“Fiftieth Anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution,” in Theses of the Central Committee of the CPSU, 1967, p. 8).

The struggle of classes and parties for power grew sharper every day. The distinctions between the conflicting sides became greater, the political isolation of the bourgeoisie and the petit-bourgeois parties grew deeper, and the influence of the Bolshevik Party increased. The bourgeoisie, headed by the Cadets, set out to unleash civil war and attempted to establish an open military dictatorship in the country. A conspiracy of the imperialist bourgeoisie against the revolution was begun, headed by General L. G. Kornilov, who had been supreme commander in chief since July 18 (31). This conspiracy was actively supported by the reactionary forces of Britain, France, and the United States. The Provisional Government convened the so-called State Conference in Moscow on August 12-15 (25-28). Its aim was to organize and mobilize all the forces of the Russian counterrevolution headed by Kornilov, Kaledin, Kerensky, Miliukov, Purish-kevich, Rodzianko, Riabushinskii, and others. In response to a Bolshevik appeal, Moscow’s working class greeted this congress of reactionaries and conspirators with a protest strike of 400,000 workers. The Moscow workers were supported by strikes and protest rallies by workers in Kiev, Kharkov, Nizhny Novgorod (now Gorky), Ekaterinburg (now Sverdlovsk), and other cities. After the Moscow conference, the counterrevolution, headed by the Cadet Party, moved toward the practical realization of its aims. The military-political center for preparations for the coup was set up at the supreme headquarters of the commander in chief in Mogilev. On August 25 (September 7), General Kornilov began a military revolt and started troops moving toward Petrograd (General A. M. Krymov’s III Cavalry Corps). The conspirators also planned offensives against Moscow, Kiev, and other major cities.

The Central Committee of the RSDLP (Bolshevik) appealed on August 27 (September 9) to the workers, soldiers, and sailors of Petrograd to come to the defense of the revolution. The Bolshevik Party mobilized and organized the masses to defeat the Kornilov revolt. The Red Guard in the capital, which by then numbered about 25,000 fighters, was supported by the garrison of the city, the Baltic sailors, the railroad workers, the workers of Moscow, the Donbas, the Urals, and other proletarian centers, and the soldiers at the front and in the rear. The revolt was suppressed. The defeat of Kornilov’s revolt disorganized and weakened the counterrevolutionary camp, demonstrated the strength of the revolutionary forces, increased the authority of the Bolsheviks, and proved to be one of the decisive stages in the struggle for the victory of the socialist revolution. It signified the unswerving determination of the workers, soldiers, and poor peasants to deal a mighty blow to the forces of counterrevolution and indicated the tremendous growth of influence of the Bolshevik Party among broad segments of the working people of Russia.

A nationwide crisis had matured in the country, embracing all spheres of social, economic, and political relations. The policies of the bourgeois Provisional Government, opposed to popular interests, had brought the country to the brink of a national catastrophe. Disorder in industry and transport had intensified, and difficulties in obtaining provisions had increased. Gross industrial production in 1917 had decreased by 36.4 percent from what it had been in 1916. From March to October 1917 more than 800 enterprises had been closed down in the country. The production of cast iron, steel, coal, and petroleum had declined sharply. In the autumn, as much as 50 percent of all enterprises were closed down in the Urals, the Donbas, and other industrial centers. Mass unemployment had begun. At the same time, the cost of living increased sharply. The real wages of the workers fell about 40 to 50 percent from what they had been in 1913. The government resorted to issuing more paper money and contracting new loans. From the beginning of the war until February 1917 more than 8.2 billion rubles in paper money had been put into circulation, but in the following eight months a total of 9.5 billion was released. In 1917 new paper money was used to cover some 65.5 percent of budget expenditures. Russia’s national debt in October 1917 had risen to 50 billion rubles. Of this, debts to foreign governments constituted more than 11.2 billion rubles. The country faced the threat of financial bankruptcy.

The class consciousness of the proletariat in the fall of 1917 was indicated by the increased activity of the factory committees, which had been organized at plants and factories everywhere, the growing number of trade unions, and the strengthening of Bolshevik influence in these unions. In October 1917 there were more than 2 million factory and office workers in trade unions. The strike movement at that time was remarkable for its exceptional stubbornness, high level of organization, and political determination. In September and October there were strikes by the Moscow and Petrograd proletariat, the miners of the Donbas, the metalworkers of the Urals, the oil workers of Baku, the textile workers of the Central Industrial Region, and the railroad workers on 44 different railway lines. In these two months alone more than a million workers took part in mass strikes. Workers’ control over production and distribution was established in many factories and plants. This was an indication that the workers’ movement had risen to the highest stage of development. As a result of the political and economic struggle, the working class had to take power into its own hands.

The working-class movement, which was socialist in character, pulled the democratic movement of the peasants along behind it. Until October 1917 there were about 4,250 peasant uprisings against the landlords. In August, 690 peasant actions were recorded, and in September and October more than 1,300. When the Provisional Government sent out punitive detachments it only enraged the peasants. They would burn, seize, or destroy the landlords’ estates and take personal reprisals against the most hated landlords. Millions of soldiers came over to the side of the revolution, especially the garrisons in Petrograd, Moscow, and other cities, the Northern and Western fronts, and the sailors of the Baltic Fleet, who in September openly declared through their elected representative body, the Tsentrobalt, that they did not recognize the authority of the Provisional Government and would not carry out any of its commands.

The national liberation movement of the oppressed peoples in the outlying areas also grew stronger. The Provisional Government did not and could not resolve the national question. In local areas the old apparatus of oppression, hostile to the native population, was left in charge with almost no change. This great power chauvinist policy stirred deep discontent among the oppressed peoples in the outlying regions of the country. Bourgeois nationalist organizations were created in the following national areas: the Central Rada in the Ukraine, the Byelorussian Rada, the National Soviets in the Baltic region and Transcaucasia, and Shura-i-Islam in Turkestan. The national bourgeoisie tried to make use of the national liberation struggle of the oppressed peoples for its own narrow class interests. The nationalists tried to distract the workers from the all-Russian revolutionary struggle. They organized national military units (Ukrainian, Muslim, Moldavian, and Estonian) in order to seize power. The national liberation movement was not and could not be homogeneous in its class composition and political aims. Two sharply counterposed tendencies became apparent—the bourgeois nationalist and the revolutionary democratic. The Bolsheviks exposed the counterrevolutionary essence of bourgeois nationalism and encouraged the delineation of class distinctions within the national liberation movement, striving to provide leadership to its revolutionary democratic tendency. The latter, which combined workers, class-conscious toiling peasants, and the revolutionary democratic layer of the local intelligentsia, became more and more massive. Revolutionary democratic national organizations were created to counterbalance the organs of the bourgeois nationalists.

Only the Leninist Party had a program that could really solve the national question. The Bolsheviks linked the resolution of that question with the struggle for the dictatorship of the proletariat and for the republic of soviets. At the First All-Russian Congress of Soviets, Lenin declared: “Let Russia be a union of free republics” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 32, p. 286). The energetic activities of the Bolshevik organizations in the Baltic region, the Ukraine, Byelorussia, Moldavia, the Caucasus region, the Volga region, Central Asia, and Siberia guaranteed the unity of the struggle for soviet power being waged by the Russian working class and the proletarian and semiproletarian masses of the oppressed peoples.

With the defeat of Kornilov’s revolt, a new stage in the Bolshevization of the soviets began. Before that, the soviets of Ivanovo-Voznesensk, Riga, Kronstadt, Orekhovo-Zuevo, and Krasnoiarsk had supported Bolshevik positions, and after August, the soviets of Ekaterinoslav, Lugansk, and some other cities had as well. During and after the defeat of Kornilov a mass turn of the soviets toward the Bolsheviks began, both in the central and local areas. On August 31 (September 13) the Petrograd Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies and on September 5 (18) the Moscow Soviet of Workers’ Deputies adopted Bolshevik resolutions on the question of power. The Bolsheviks won a majority in the soviets of Briansk, Samara, Saratov, Tsaritsyn, Minsk, Kiev, Tashkent, and other cities. In one day alone, September 1 (14), the All-Russian Central Executive Committee of Soviets received demands from 126 local soviets urging it to take power into its own hands. On instructions from the Central Committee of the RSDLP (Bolshevik), local Party organizations began a campaign for new elections to the soviets. The new elections gave the Bolsheviks a chance to win a majority in the soviets. In many cities prominent Party figures were elected as presidents of local soviets—for example, in Moscow, V. P. Nogin; in Baku, S. G. Shaumian; in Samara, V. V. Kuibyshev; in Cheliabinsk, S. M. Tsvilling; and in Shuia, M. V. Frunze. The Bolshevization of the soviets of peasants’ deputies proceeded more slowly. The slogan “All power to the soviets” was once again placed on the agenda, since the majority of them were now under the leadership of the Bolshevik Party. But the slogan now indicated the need to wage a struggle to transform the revolutionary Bolshevik soviets into insurrectionary organs aimed against the Provisional Government, organs of struggle for the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat.

The Provisional Government, in a state of chronic crisis but still trying to retain power, proclaimed Russia a republic on September 1 (14) and created a directorate (a so-called Council of Five headed by A. F. Kerensky) to rule the country, proclaiming this to be a ruling body independent of the Cadets, who had organized the Kornilov revolt. In their effort to save the rule of the bourgeoisie, the Socialist Revolutionary-Menshevik Central Executive Committee convened the Democratic Conference of September 14-22 (September 27 to October 5), which selected from its own membership the Provisional Council of the Republic (the so-called Preparliament). The Bolsheviks boycotted the Preparliament, exposing its antidemocratic nature and calling for the convening of a Second All-Russian Congress of Soviets, and at the same time preparing the masses to wage a battle against capitalism. At the same time the ideological and organizational disintegration of the petit-bourgeois conciliationist parties began. A left wing took shape in the SR Party and at the end of November declared itself the independent party of the Left SR’s. Opposition from the left within the Menshevik Party and the division within the organization grew stronger. There was a massive flow of members out of the Menshevik and Right Socialist Revolutionary parties. By October their influence within the working class had been reduced to nothing.

The creation of a new coalition government on September 25 (October 8), consisting of six capitalist ministers and ten “socialist” ministers, met with resolute protests on the part of the Bolshevik soviets. The political mood of the broad revolutionary masses was expressed especially strongly at provincial and regional congresses of soviets and at citywide conferences of soviets which were held on the eve of the October Revolution.

During the course of the revolutionary process the strength and solidarity of the RSDLP (Bolshevik) had grown. Between March and October the Party membership increased 15 times. The Party numbered about 350,000 members, of which as many as 60 percent were progressive workers. The forces of the Party were distributed throughout the regions as follows: Moscow and the Central Industrial Region, 70,000 (20 percent); Petrograd and its province, 60,000 (17 percent); the Ukraine, Moldavia, the Southwestern and Rumanian fronts, and the Black Sea Fleet, 60,000 (17 percent); the Baltic region and the Northern Fleet, 30,000 (8.5 percent); Byelorussia and the Western Front, 30,000 (8.5 percent); the Volga Region, 20,000 (5.5 percent); the Caucasus region, the Caucasian Front, and the Don region, 20,000 (5.5 percent); Siberia and the Far East, 15,000 (4.5 percent); and the rest of the country, 10,000 (3.5 percent).
The Party, inseparably linked to the masses, was in a state of combat readiness for the approaching class battles. Lenin wrote: “At the decisive moment, at the moment of taking power and establishing the Soviet Republic, Bolshevism was united; it attracted all the best of the trends of socialist thought akin to it and rallied around itself the entire vanguard of the proletariat and the overwhelming majority of the working people” (ibid., vol. 39, p. 216).

In September, Lenin gave a general analysis of the nationwide crisis. This crisis was expressed by the mighty revolutionary movement of the working class, led by Lenin’s Party and moving directly toward the conquest of power and the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat in the form of the soviet; the broad sweep of the peasant movement, which assumed the character of a peasant war for the land; the adherence of the mass of soldiers to the revolutionary side and their willingness to support the workers’ and poor peasants’ struggle with arms; the upsurge of the national liberation movement and the nationwide peace movement against the imperialist war; and the Bolshevization of the Soviets. On the other hand, there was a chronic crisis in the Provisional Government and disorder and disintegration in the bourgeois and petit-bourgeois parties.

In Lenin’s writings, “The Impending Catastrophe and How to Combat It” (September), “The Crisis Has Matured” (end of September), and “Can the Bolsheviks Retain State Power?” (end of September to October 1), and in his letters to the Central Committee, the Petrograd Committee, and the Moscow Committee of the Party (September and October), he indicated that the crisis had matured. Those at the bottom no longer wished to live in the old ways, and those at the top could no longer rule in the old way.

Lenin’s deep analysis of the new political situation in the country led him to the conclusion that “we have the following of the majority of the class, the vanguard of the revolution, the vanguard of the people, which is capable of carrying the masses with it. We have the following of the majority of the people … our victory is assured” (ibid., vol. 34, p. 244).

The victory of the Great October Socialist Revolution. By the autumn of 1917 the conditions for a victorious socialist revolution had matured in Russia. Its success depended on the political and organizational activity and the correct tactics of the Bolshevik Party. In September 1917, Lenin sent a letter to the Central Committee and the Petrograd and Moscow Committees of the RSDLP (Bolshevik) entitled “The Bolsheviks Must Assume Power” and another one to the Central Committee of the Party entitled “Marxism and Insurrection.” In these letters he posed the idea of preparations for an armed insurrection as a practical task for immediate action by the Party. He warned the Central Committee against adventurism and conspiratorial plots aimed at the “seizure” of power. “To be successful, insurrection must rely not upon conspiracy, not upon a Party, but upon the advanced class.… Insurrection must rely upon a revolutionary upsurge of the people. … Insurrection must rely upon that turning point in the history of the growing revolution when the activity of the advanced ranks of the people is at its height, and when the vacillations in the ranks of the enemy and in the ranks of the weak, half-hearted, and irresolute friends of the revolution are strongest” (ibid., pp. 242-43). All of these conditions existed. He recommended that the Party regard insurrection as an art, and he called upon it to concentrate its entire attention upon the military-technical preparations for the insurrection, create an overwhelming superiority of class forces, and ensure that a crushing blow would be struck at the decisive moment and the decisive place, first in Petrograd and Moscow. Lenin outlined a concrete plan for carrying out the insurrection which involved organizing a headquarters for the insurgent units; deploying forces; sending the main forces (Red Guard units, revolutionary regiments, and the fleet) to the key points—the telephone and telegraph centers, railroad stations, and bridges; arresting the General Staff and the Provisional Government; and ensuring the decisive defeat of any attempts at armed action by the counterrevolution.

On October 10 (23) the question of armed insurrection was discussed at a session of the Central Committee of the Party. Lenin, who had illegally returned to Petrograd from Finland, gave his report. By a vote of ten to two (L. B. Kamenev and G. E. Zinoviev), the Central Committee adopted Lenin’s resolution recognizing that the time was ripe for insurrection and that it was inevitable. The Central Committee advised all Party organizations to be guided by this resolution in their practical everyday work. At this Central Committee session a new Political Bureau, headed by Lenin, was elected. On October 12 (25) the Executive Committee of the Petrograd Soviet adopted a statute creating the Military Revolutionary Committee (MRC), which became the legal staff for preparing the armed insurrection. The Central Committee resolution on insurrection was unanimously approved by the Moscow regional bureau of the Party on October 14 (27) and by the Petrograd Committee on October 15 (28), and both committees adopted specific plans of action. On October 16 (29) the Central Committee held an expanded session, with leading Party workers of Petrograd and representatives from trade unions and military organizations present. This session approved the Central Committee resolution of October 10 (23) on armed insurrection, Kamenev and Zinoviey again spoke emphatically against the armed insurrection. They argued that there were “no grounds for insurrection” and urged that “defensive tactics of watchful waiting” should be adopted. On the same day, at a closed session of the Central Committee a Party Military Revolutionary Center was elected to provide leadership for the insurrection, consisting of A. S. Bubnov, F. E. Dzerzhinskii, Ia. M. Sverdlov, J. V. Stalin, and M. S. Uritskii. This Party center joined the MRC and became its main nucleus. Among those active in the work of the MRC were V. A. Antonov-Ovseenko, G. I. Bokii, P. E. Dybenko, K. S. Eremeev, S. I. Gusev, N. V. Krylenko, S. V. Kosior, M. Ia. Latsis, K. A. Mekhonoshin, V. I. Nevskii, N. I. Podvoiskii, A. D. Sadovskii, N. A. Skrypnik, and G. I. Chudnovskii, as well as the Left SR’s P. E. Lazimir and G. N. Sukhar’kov. All the work in preparation for the insurrection was directly guided by V. I. Lenin.

In the October armed insurrection the Bolshevik Party relied on strong armed forces. The Petrograd Red Guard was in the vanguard of these; in the course of the struggle it had grown to nearly 40,000 fighters. This armed vanguard of the revolution had the support of 200,000 Red Guards in other cities in Russia. At the beginning of the insurrection the revolutionary soldiers in the Petrograd garrison numbered more than 150,000, according to the statistics of the MRC; the Baltic Fleet, which was on the side of the Bolsheviks, had more than 80,000 sailors and about 700 combat and auxiliary ships. These mighty armed forces of the revolution had the support of millions of revolutionary soldiers at the front (especially the Northern and Western) and in the rear-echelon garrisons. In turn, these armed forces rested upon the support of the revolutionary workers and poor peasants of the entire country, who were ready to wage war against capitalism.

A very important step in the preparations for the insurrection took place October 20-24 (November 2-6), when the MRC assigned its own commissars to the Peter and Paul Fortress, the military units, the naval vessels, the munitions depots, and a number of factories and other key points in the capital.

The Provisional Government, relying on the Cadets, Mensheviks, and SR’s, gathered together on its side the armed forces of counterrevolution. The military command staff brought forces loyal to it close to Petrograd and carried out a mobilization of counterrevolutionary forces in the capital and the suburbs. The cadets from Peterhof and Oranienbaum were called to Petrograd, the special alert order was given to the three Cossack regiments quartered in Petrograd, and all the cadet academies were placed on military alert. The garrison of the Winter Palace was increased to 2,700. Orders were sent to the supreme headquarters in Mogilev and the command headquarters of the Northern Front in Pskov to expedite the movement of troops toward the capital.

However, the Bolsheviks had created an overwhelming superiority of revolutionary forces over those of the counterrevolution. The position of the Provisional Government was hopeless.

The armed insurrection began on October 24 (November 6). On that day, by order of the Provisional Government, an attack was made by cadets on the print shop of the Bolshevik newspaper Rabochii put’ (as Pravda was called at that time), and an order was issued for the arrest and trial of members of the MRC. An attack was being prepared against the headquarters of the revolution—Smol’nyi, where the Central Committee of the Party and the MRC were located. On instructions from the Central Committee, the MRC sent soldiers of the Lithuanian regiment and a sapper battalion to the print shop. These forces repulsed the cadets and the printing of the paper was resumed. Central Committee members decided not to leave Smol’nyi and deployed their forces to lead the insurrection in its most important areas. The delegates to the Second All-Russian Congress of Soviets were gathering at Smoi’nyi. Red Guard units of about 1.300 fighiera, detachments of revolutionary soldiers and sailors, and communications personnel from military units and factories in various parts of the city were called out. Cannon, machine guns, and armored cars were placed around the building. Over the radio station of the cruiser Aurora an appeal was issued by the MRC of Petrograd to the garrisons to defend the approaches to the city, urging them “to act firmly and with discretion, but where necessary, ruthlessly” to prevent even a single counterrevolutionary unit from entering Petrograd.

In the afternoon of October 24 (November 6) the cadets tried to raise the drawbridges across the Neva River in order to cut the workers’ districts off from the center of the capital. The MRC sent Red Guard units and soldiers to the bridges and placed almost all of them under guard. Toward evening soldiers of the Keksgol’m regiment occupied the central telegraph offices, a unit of sailors took over the Petrograd telegraph agency, and soldiers of the Izmailovskii regiment took the Baltic railroad station. Revolutionary units blocked off the Pavel, Nikolai, Vladimir, and Konstantin cadet academies. Telegrams were sent from the Central Committee and the MRC to Kronstadt and the Tsentrobalt calling on naval vessels of the Baltic Fleet to bring an expeditionary force. The order was carried out.

The situation called for decisive and offensive action by the revolutionary forces. However, some members of the MRC were still sluggish about moving ahead to attack the main centers of the counterrevolution—the headquarters of the Petrograd military district, the Winter Palace, and so forth. Some of them wanted to postpone the seizure of power until the Second Congress of Soviets had convened (the evening of October 25). The influence of the chairman of the Petrograd Soviet, L. D. Trotsky (who favored postponing the insurrection, which was equivalent to breaking it off), was felt, as was that of Kamenev and Zinoviev, who on the very eve of the insurrection argued that it was doomed to defeat.
Lenin, who still continued to function conspiratorially and feared for the fate of the insurrection, wrote to the Central Committee members on the evening of October 24 (November 6): “With all my might I urge comrades to realize that everything now hangs by a thread; that we are confronted by problems which are not to be solved by conferences or congresses (even congresses of soviets), but exclusively by peoples, by the masses, the struggle of the armed people… . We must at all costs, this very evening, this very night, arrest the government, having first disarmed the officer cadets (defeating them if they resist), and so on.”

“We must not wait! We may lose everything!”

And further: “The government is tottering. It must be given the death blow at all costs.

“To delay action is fatal” (ibid., vol. 34, pp. 435, 436).

On the evening of October 24, Lenin arrived at Smol’nyi and took direct leadership of the armed struggle. The Central Committee made his arrival known to all the districts, factories, and military units. With Lenin at their head, the revolutionary forces decisively went on the offensive. The planned seizure of strategic points in Petrograd continued. At 1:25 A.M. on October 25 (November 7), Red Guards from the Vyborg district, soldiers of the Keksgol’m regiment, and revolutionary sailors occupied the main post office building. At 2:00 A.M. the first squad of the 6th Reserve Sapper Battalion took Nikolai Railroad Station (now Moscow Station). At the same time, a Red Guard unit occupied the central power plant. At about 6:00 A.M. sailors of the naval guards seized the State Bank. At 7:00 A.M. soldiers of the Keksgol’m regiment occupied the central telephone station. At 8:00 A.M., Red Guards of the Moscow and Narva districts seized Warsaw Station. During the night, the cruiser Aurora had anchored off the Nikolai Bridge (now the Lieutenant Schmidt Bridge) and the naval vessel Amur anchored off the Admiralty Embankment. By morning the capital was in the hands of the insurgent people. On the morning of October 25 (November 7) the MRC adopted Lenin’s appeal “To the Citizens of Russia.” This stated: “The Provisional Government has been deposed. State power has passed into the hands of the organ of the Petrograd Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies—the Revolutionary Military Committee, which is leading the Petrograd proletariat and the garrison.

“The cause for which the people have fought—namely, the immediate offer of a democratic peace, the abolition of landed property, workers’ control over production, and the establishment of Soviet power—this cause has been secured.

“Long live the revolution of workers, soldiers, and peasants!” (ibid., vol. 35, p. 1).

On the afternoon of October 25 (November 7) the revolutionary forces took the Mariinskii Palace, where the Preparliament was in session, and dispersed it. Sailors occupied the military port and the main admiralty building, where the naval high command was arrested.

At 2:35 P.M. a special session of the Petrograd Soviet began. An announcement was made on the deposition of the Provisional Government, followed by a report by Lenin on the existing situation. At 6:00 P.M. revolutionary units began to move toward the Winter Palace. At 9:40 P.M., at a signal from the Peter and Paul Fortress, a round of artillery from the cruiser Aurora thundered, and the storming of the Winter Palace began.

At 10:40 P.M. on October 25 (November 7), the Second All-Russian Congress of Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies began in Smol’nyi. At the opening of the congress, 390 of the 649 delegates who had arrived were Bolsheviks. The congress proclaimed the transfer of all power to the soviets. At 2:00 A.M. on October 26 (November 8) the Winter Palace was seized and the Provisional Government was arrested. On October 26 (November 8) the Congress of Soviets adopted the Decree on Peace and the Decree on Land, based on a report by Lenin. In the Decree on Peace, the Soviet power proposed to all the belligerent countries that negotiations begin immediately for a just and democratic peace without annexations or indemnifications. By the terms of the Decree on Land, landlord ownership was abolished; landlord estates and crown, monastery, and church lands, with all livestock, implements, and buildings, and everything pertaining thereto, were given to the peasants without any compensation. The right of private ownership of land was abolished and replaced by all-national ownership of the land. As a result of the implementation of this decree, the peasants received more than 150 million hectares of land and were freed from annual rent payments to landlords amounting to 700 million gold rubles. The congress elected an All-Russian Central Executive Committee and formed the first Soviet government—the Council of People’s Commissars (or Sovnarkom), headed by Lenin. With the establishment of the Soviet government began the building of the Soviet state—a state of a new type, a dictatorship of the proletariat.

The counterrevolutionary forces, headed by the former prime minister Kerensky, who had fled to the Northern Front area on October 25 (November 7), General P. N. Krasnov, commander of the III Cavalry Corps, and N. N. Dukhonin, the chief of staff to the supreme commander in chief, rebelled and began a civil war with the aim of overthrowing Soviet power. The enemy began an offensive, occupied Gatchina and Tsarskoe Selo, and went to the heights of Pulkovo, thus creating a direct threat to revolutionary Petrograd. In the capital the counterrevolutionaries formed a Committee for the Salvation of the Homeland and the Revolution, and on October 29 (November 11) they started a mutiny of the cadets, which was suppressed on the same day. On October 31 (November 13) revolutionary troops drove the forces of Kerensky and Krasnov back from Pulkovo, and on November 1 (14) they forced them to capitulate. Krasnov was arrested and Kerensky fled.

Following the victory of the insurrection in Petrograd, which was almost bloodless, the armed struggle began in Moscow on October 25 (November 7). A Party Center whose members included M. F. Vladimirskii, V. N. Podbel’skii, O. A. Piatnitskii, V. N. Iakovleva, and Em. Iaroslavskii, and an MRC whose members included V. P. Nogin, P. G. Smidovich, G. A. Usievich, A. Lomov, and A. S. Vedernikov were established to lead the insurrection. In Moscow the revolutionary forces encountered extremely bitter opposition from the organized counterrevolution. From October 25 (November 7) there was stubborn fighting. Red Guards from Petrograd, Ivanovo-Voznesensk, Shuia, Podol’sk, and other cities and sailors from the Baltic Fleet arrived to support the Moscow proletariat. The Moscow workers and revolutionary soldiers of the garrison disrupted the counterrevolutionaries’ plans to create a so-called all-Russian center of struggle against Soviet power in Moscow. On November 2 (15), Soviet rule was established in Moscow. The victory was won at the cost of great sacrifices; about 1,000 people had been killed during the insurrection.

The victory of the socialist revolution in Petrograd and Moscow laid the basis for the triumphal march of Soviet power throughout the country. The Party Central Committee, headed by Lenin, along with all the local Party organizations, led the struggle to establish Soviet rule in local areas. In most of the country this was done quickly and peacefully.

Two factors played a decisive role in the immediate victory of the revolution all over the country. The first was the existence of finished forms of proletarian power, such as the soviets, the decrees on land and peace, and the Declaration of the Rights of the Peoples of Russia; these expressed the spirit and aspirations of the toiling people and had an enormously revolutionizing effect. The second factor was the departure of the masses from the influence of the petit-bourgeois parties, the Mensheviks and SR’s, who were openly allied with the counterrevolution; this raised the authority of the Leninist Party of the Bolsheviks and its political and organizational activity in the eyes of the workers.

Soviet power was established in Central Russia at the same time as the armed insurrections in Petrograd and Moscow and immediately after them. On October 25 (November 7) it was established in Ivanovo-Voznesensk, Vladimir, Briansk, and the industrial cities of the Moscow region; on October 27 (November 9) in Yaroslavl; on October 28 (November 10) in Nizhnyi Novgorod, Kaluga, and Tver’; and on October 30 (November 12) in Voronezh. As a result of active resistance by the petit bourgeois parties, the establishment of Soviet power was somewhat delayed in the following cities: in Orel, until November 25 (December 8); in Kursk, until November 26 (December 9); in Tula, until December 7 (20), 1917; and in Tambov, until January 31 (February 13), 1918.

During November and December, Soviet power was established in most of the cities and factory settlements of the Urals. On October 26 (November 8) the Ekaterinburg and Cheliabinsk soviets and the Ufa Province MRC took power, and on October 27 (November 9) the Izhevsk Soviet did also. The SR’s and Mensheviks offered stubborn resistance to the establishment of Soviet power in Perm’, the administrative center of the Urals. There the struggle for power lasted right up until the convening of the provincial Congress of Soviets on December 16 (29).

A very difficult armed struggle for Soviet power developed in Orenburg Province, where one of the most dangerous centers of the Russian counterrevolution developed, headed by the cossack Hetman A. I. Dutov. Basing himself on cossack units, he seized Orenburg, Cheliabinsk, and a number of other cities of the Southern Urals and set up the so-called Cossack Army Government. As a result of decisive steps taken by the Soviet government, the Dutov antisoviet rebellion was crushed, and on November 20 (December 3), Soviet power was restored in Cheliabinsk. On January 18 (31), 1918, Orenburg was liberated from Dutov’s forces. In the industrial cities of the Volga Region, Soviet power was established immediately after it was established in Petrograd and Moscow. On October 26 (November 8), after overcoming two days of resistance by the counterrevolutionary forces, there was a Soviet victory in Kazan, and on October 27 (November 9) in Samara and Saratov. The workers and soldiers in Saratov were forced to fight for two days thereafter to suppress a counterrevolutionary rebellion, which surrendered on October 29 (November 11). In Tsaritsyn, Soviet power was established by peaceful means over the period from October 28 (November 10) to November 4 (17). The struggle in Astrakhan took a more complicated course. Combat between the revolutionary forces and the Astrakhan cossacks lasted from January 12 (25) until January 25 (February 7), 1918, and ended with the victory of the workers and soldiers.

Having become Soviet, Central Russia served as the base for the socialist revolution throughout the country. The news of the revolutionary victory in the capitals and other cities spread rapidly to the active-duty army. The military fronts nearest Petrograd and Moscow, the Northern and Western fronts, and the Baltic Fleet held an important place in Lenin’s plan for armed insurrection. The Bolshevik Party organizations in the army and the fleet made timely preparations to support the armed insurrections in Petrograd and Moscow and to take action on the fronts themselves. This was of the greatest importance, for as Lenin noted, without winning the army to the Bolshevik side, the socialist revolution could not succeed. The soldiers of the Northern and Western fronts and the sailors of the Baltic Fleet welcomed the socialist revolution and Soviet power. At the end of October and November, MRC’s were created everywhere at the fronts in the army. These took power within the army and introduced control over the command staffs of the Northern Front and Baltic Fleet. The commander of the Western Front was removed. The fleet and army units at the fronts placed their power at the disposal of the Soviet government. The victory of the revolution on the Northern and Western fronts made it possible to eliminate the main center of the counterrevolution, the headquarters of the supreme commander in chief at Mogilev, on November 18-20 (December 1-3). This headquarters had prepared the conspiracy against the socialist revolution.

The victory of the socialist revolution at the military fronts closest to the capital and in the Baltic Fleet were a major success for the Bolsheviks and had tremendous importance for the further development of the revolution. As Lenin wrote: “Resistance on the part of the armed forces against the October Revolution of the proletariat or against the winning of political power by the proletariat was entirely out of the question, considering that the Bolsheviks had an enormous majority on the Northern and Western fronts, while on the other fronts, far removed from the center, the Bolsheviks had the time and opportunity to win the peasants away from the SR party” (ibid., vol. 40, p. 10).

At the end of October and beginning of November, Soviet power was established throughout the part of the Baltic region that was not occupied by German troops. On the side of the revolution were 40,000 Latvian riflemen, who played a major role in establishing Soviet power in Latvia. The Minsk Soviet took power on October 25 (November 7). On October 27 (November 9), the Northern and Western Regional Committee of the RSDLP (Bolshevik) passed a resolution creating a Revolutionary Committee, later called the MRC of the Northwestern Region and Western Front, which assumed authority for the Western Front and all of Byelorussia. The working people of the Ukraine had to overcome serious resistance on the part of the Central Rada (rada = council) in their struggle for the victory of the socialist revolution. The armed insurrection in Kiev against the Provisional Government began on October 29 (November 11) and was victorious on October 31 (November 13). However, power was usurped by the bourgeois nationalist Central Rada, which had powerful armed forces at its disposal. On November 7 (20) it proclaimed itself the supreme governing body of the so-called Ukrainian People’s Republic. The Central Rada began to fight against Soviet Russia, launched a campaign of terror against the revolutionary forces, and became one of the main centers of the all-Russian counterrevolution. The Bolsheviks everywhere in the Ukraine took up the struggle against the Central Rada for the establishment of Soviet power. The workers of the Donbas established Soviet power in Lugansk, Makeevka, Gorlovka, Kramatorsk, and other cities immediately after the victory of the armed insurrection in Petrograd. A major historical event occurred for the Ukrainian people with the convening of the All-Ukrainian Congress of Soviets, held December 11-12 (24-25) in Kharkov, where Soviet power had been established on November 10 (23). The Congress of Soviets on December 12 (25) proclaimed the Ukraine a Soviet republic and elected a Central Executive Committee of the Soviets of the Ukraine. This body organized the first Soviet Ukrainian government, the People’s Secretariat, composed of F. A. Artem, E. B. Bosh, V. P. Zatonskii, and N. A. Skrypnik. In December 1917 and January 1918 the armed struggle for Soviet power spread and developed throughout the Ukraine. The rebellions against the Central Rada established Soviet power in Ekaterinoslav on December 29 (January 11, 1918), in Odessa on January 17 (30), and in Poltava, Kremenchug, Nikolaev, Kherson, and Vinnitsa in January. On January 5 (18), 1918, Soviet Ukrainian troops began an offensive against Kiev. On January 16 (29) the workers of Kiev, led by those of the Arsenal Plant, began an armed insurrection against the Central Rada. On January 22 (February 4), Soviet troops entered Kiev. By January 26 (February 8), after bitter street fighting, these troops, along with armed workers’ detachments, had swept the city clean of the Central Rada’s forces. During those days in January the insurgent people of Kiev suffered the loss of more than 1,500 lives. During February, Soviet power was consolidated throughout the Ukraine. It was victorious in the Crimea in January 1918, and in Moldavia at the beginning of January.

In the Don region (the Donskoe Voisko Oblast) the Hetman of the Don cossacks, A. M. Kaledin, began an anti-Soviet rebellion in October. After seven days of fighting, on December 2 (15), the cossacks took Rostov, where Soviet power had been established earlier, on October 26 (November 8). The cossacks then launched an offensive against the Donbas. However, a considerable number of cossacks did not support Kaledin. On January 10 (23) a congress of front-line cossack units, meeting in Kamenskaia stanitsa (large cossack village), declared Kaledin’s Cossack army government deposed and proclaimed Soviet power in the Don region, setting up the Don MRC with F. G. Podtelkov as chairman. Soviet troops commanded by V. A. Antonov-Ovseenko liquidated Kaledin’s revolt; Rostov was liberated on February 24, and Novocherkassk on February 25.

The struggle for Soviet power in the Northern Caucasus was waged under very complex conditions. On October 28 (November 10) the soviet of Vladikavkaz voted for the Soviet power, and on November 4 (17) it adopted a resolution, based on a report by S. M. Kirov, declaring support for the Sovnarkom headed by Lenin. In November, Soviet power was established in Petrovsk-Port (Makhachkala) and Groznyi. But the counterrevolution, finding support among the cossacks and Caucasus Mountain tribes, founded the so-called Terek-Dagestan government on December 1 (14) and crushed the soviets of Vladikavkaz, Groznyi, and other cities. Under conditions in which terror and clashes between nationalities prevailed, the Bolsheviks of the Terek Oblast carried out preparations for a congress of the peoples of Terek. The first congress was convened in January 1918 in Mozdok, and the second in March in Piatigorsk. The second congress established the Terek People’s Soviet Republic as part of the RSFSR. Soviet power was established throughout the Terek region and a significant section of Dagestan. In the Kuban region and along the Black Sea coast, furious resistance on the part of the Kuban cossacks had to be overcome in the process of establishing Soviet power. On December 1 (14), Soviet power was victorious in Novorossiisk, and in January in Armavir. On March 14 revolutionary troops fought their way into Ekaterinodar (Krasnodar) and took control of it.

The socialist revolution in Transcaucasia was not immediately victorious. On October 31 (November 13), Soviet power was established in the proletarian city of Baku but only in the spring of 1918 was it extended to several raions in Azerbaijan. On April 25 the Baku Soviet set up the Baku Council of People’s Commissars, with S. G. Shaumian as chairman. In Georgia and Armenia the revolutionary forces were unable to take power. In Georgia the Mensheviks seized control, and in Armenia the Dashnaks.

In Middle Asia the revolution was opposed by the bourgeois nationalists, the bais (wealthy stock raisers, merchants, or landowners), the clergy, the Russian officers, and the kulaks. The center of the socialist revolution in this vast region was Tashkent, where a strong Bolshevik organization was functioning, based on the railroad workers, the soldiers of the city garrison, and the “men of the rear” (workers from the local nationalities, recruited as rear-echelon workers during the war). Soviet power was established in Tashkent on November 1 (14) as a result of an armed insurrection and fighting that had lasted from October 28 to 31 (November 10-13). On November 15 (28) the Regional Congress of Soviets elected the Council of People’s Commissars for the Turkestan krai, with F. I. Kolesov as chairman. During the period from November 1917 to February 1918, Soviet power was established in Samarkand, Ashkhabad, Krasnovodsk, Chardzhou, Merv, and other cities. By the spring of 1918 the Soviets held power throughout Middle Asia, with the exception of the Khiva khanate and the emirate of Bokhara, where the old order maintained its rule until 1920. At the end of April 1918 the Turkestan ASSR was founded as part of the RSFSR. In Kazakhstan, the Syr-Dar’ia Oblast became Soviet in November, the Akmolinsk Oblast between November 1917 and January 1918, and the Bukeev Horde in December 1917. Soviet power was established in the Turgai and Semipalatinsk oblasts in January and February 1918 and in the Semirech’e Oblast in March and April, after the suppression of armed resistance on the part of the nationalists of the Alash Horde and the cossacks of Semirech’e, Orenburg, and the Urals. On January 1 (14), 1918, Soviet power was victorious in Pishpek (now Frunze), and on March 3 in Vernyi (now Alma-Ata).

In Siberia and the Far East the establishment of Soviet power was accompanied by serious resistance from the Siberian counterrevolution. Krasnoiarsk became Soviet on October 28 (November 10), Omsk on November 30 (December 13), after the suppression of a counterrevolutionary mutiny, Tomsk on December 6 (19), Novonikolaevsk (now Novosibirsk) on December 13 (26), and Irkutsk on December 22 (January 4, 1918), after nine days of fighting between the revolutionary forces and the mutineers. Soviet power was victorious in Vladivostok on November 18 (December 1), in Khabarovsk on December 6 (19), and throughout the Far East by March 1918.

The Declaration of the Rights of the Peoples of Russia, adopted by the Sovnarkom on November 2(15), was of great importance for the victory of Soviet power in the border lands and outlying regions of the country. This historic enactment of the Soviet government brought national oppression to an end and proclaimed the equality and sovereignty of all the nationalities in the country and their right to unrestricted self-determination, including the right to separate and form an independent state. The government removed all national and religious privileges and restrictions and guaranteed the freedom of all the peoples, nationalities, and ethnic groups inhabiting Russia. On November 20 (December 3) the Sovnarkom issued an appeal “To All Muslim Toilers of Russia and the East,” which informed the formerly oppressed peoples that the unequal treaties had been rescinded and political oppression ended. It called on them to support the gains of the socialist revolution and to establish Soviet power.

Summing up the results of the triumphal march of Soviet power, Lenin wrote in March 1918: “In the course of a few weeks, having overthrown the bourgeoisie, we crushed its open resistance in civil war. We passed in a victorious triumphal march of Bolshevism from one end of a vast country to the other. We raised the lowest strata of the working people, oppressed by tsarism and the bourgeoisie, to liberty and independent life. We established and consolidated the Soviet Republic” (ibid., vol. 36, p. 79).

The establishment of the Soviet socialist state. As a result of the victory of the October Revolution, the Communist Party became the ruling party. The working class, hitherto oppressed and exploited, became the dominant class, and a new state was established—the state of the dictatorship of the proletariat. The first task of the socialist revolution was to smash the old state machinery and construct a new one, the Soviet state. After destroying the bourgeois-landlord state, with its army, procurator’s office, courts, police, and bureaucratic-official apparatus, the revolution deprived the exploiting classes and their parties of their most powerful means of struggle to restore the old system.

The new Soviet state was the primary weapon for the defense of the conquests of the revolution against domestic and external counterrevolution and an instrument in the struggle for the construction of a socialist society. The Soviet government relied in its activity on the support of the soviets, which had become the governmental form of the dictatorship of the proletariat; on soldiers’, military-revolutionary, and factory committees; and on trade unions, detachments of the Red Guard, and revolutionary regiments. It also depended on the exceptional creative energy of workers, revolutionary soldiers, and peasants, and on the revolutionary intelligentsia. The All-Russian Extraordinary Commission (Chekha) for the struggle against counterrevolution and sabotage was organized under the auspices of the Sovnarkom on December 7 (20), 1917. A decree on justice was signed on November 22 (December 5). On the basis of the Sovnarkom decree of December 16 (29), the old army was democratized: all power in the army was transferred to the soldiers’ committees and soviets, commandership was made an elective post, and old titles and orders were abolished. On January 15 (28), 1918, a decree was adopted on the formation of the Worker-Peasant Red Army, and on January 29 (February 11), another on the formation of the Worker-Peasant Red Fleet. Establishment of the armed forces of the socialist state expanded, initially on a volunteer basis.

The Soviet regime instituted socialist reforms in the area of the economy. Following the nationalization of the land and its transformation into all-national property and the transfer of the State Bank to the control of the Soviet regime, a decree introducing workers’ control over production and distribution was adopted on November 14 (27), 1917. The nationalization of the so-called state enterprises (the Obukhov, Baltic, and Izhorsk plants, and others), the railroads, and many private enterprises began in November. Experienced Party figures and vanguard workers were assigned to state and economic work. The Supreme Council of the Economy (Sovnarkhoz) was created on December 2(15) for the direction of the national economy.

The Soviet regime liquidated the vestiges of feudal relations, the estate system, and inequality of rights in all areas of social life. Simultaneously with the liquidation of landlord ownership of land as the basis of feudal vestiges, decrees were issued abolishing the estates and civil ranks; establishing uniform citizenship (November 10 [23]), equal rights for women, and civil marriage (December 18 [31]); and separating the church from the state and schools from the church (January 20 [February 2, 1918]).

Responding to the popularity of the slogan for a Constituent Assembly, the Soviet government held elections for the assembly in November and convoked it on January 5 (18), 1918. Since the elections were conducted on the basis of lists of parties prepared by organs of the Provisional Government, and since they were held in the period when the Soviet regime was still just becoming established and a sizable portion of the population was not acquainted with its decrees, the majority of deputies to the Constituent Assembly turned out to be representatives of parties which had been overthrown by the October Revolution (Mensheviks, SR’s, Cadets, and the nationalist parties and organizations). The composition of the Constituent Assembly did not reflect the new correlation of class forces in the country. The mood of the majority of the Constituent Assembly was counterrevolutionary; they refused to recognize the Soviet regime and to confirm the Declaration of the Rights of the Toiling and Exploited People. For this reason, the Constituent Assembly was dissolved on January 6 (19) by the resolution of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee. This action was given general support by the workers, soldiers, peasants, and their soviets.

The Third All-Russian Congress of Soviets assembled on January 10 (23), 1918. The Third All-Russian Congress of Peasants’ Deputies was assembled at the same time, and on January 13 (26) the two congresses were merged. This accelerated the amalgamation of the soviets of peasants’ deputies and the soviets of workers’ and soldiers’ deputies everywhere, a process that strengthened the political foundation of the Soviet state. The congress adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Toiling and Exploited People, which set forth the main tasks of the Soviet regime—the elimination of exploitation of any kind, the merciless suppression of exploiters, the establishment of the socialist organization of society, and the construction of socialism. The congress’s legislation made the creation of the RSFSR official.

In instituting socialist reforms, the All-Russian Central Executive Committee and the Sovnarkom adopted a number of important decrees. In order to liberate the country from financial bondage, the All-Russian Central Executive Committee issued a decree on January 21 (February 3), 1918, anulling the foreign and domestic loans contracted by the tsarist government and the bourgeois Provisional Government. The merchant fleet was nationalized (January 23), as were foreign trade (April 22) and private railroads (September 4). A decree nationalizing all large-scale industry was issued on June 28.

The most creative initiative and revolutionary energy of the working class and all toilers were displayed in the socialist reconstruction of the national economy. The means of production in industry were collectivized and turned into public property; this signified a revolutionary upheaval that marked the destruction of the foundations of the old, capitalist mode of production and the establishment of a socialist sector of the economy. In industry, bourgeois productive relations were liquidated and new, socialist relations established. Collectivization of the means of production in agriculture, which entailed 15 to 16 million peasant farms, could not be carried out immediately. Nationalization of the land and collectivization of the means of production in industry created the conditions for the millions of toiling peasants to be shifted gradually in the direction of socialism.

Fundamental transformations in the sphere of culture began with the victory of the October Revolution. Elementary and secondary schools and higher educational institutions, libraries, theaters, and museums became the property of the working people. Work was done to eliminate illiteracy among the adult population. A cultural revolution began. The services of literature, art, and the press were enlisted for the communist training and education of the working people. The achievements of science and culture were put to use in the service of the working people. The Marxist-Leninist ideology became dominant in the country.

The very first revolutionary act of the Soviet regime fundamentally undermined the forces of the bourgeoisie, landlords, reactionary bureaucracy, and counterrevolutionary parties; it broke the economic power of the overthrown exploiting classes, ensured the concentration of commanding posts in the hands of the Soviet regime, and persuasively demonstrated the genuinely popular nature of the Soviet regime, which has only the interests of the working people at heart.

During its very first days, the Soviet government initiated action in the struggle for peace. A policy of peace became the unshakable basis of its entire subsequent foreign policy. Negotiations for the conclusion of a peace treaty with Germany and its allies were begun in Brest on December 9 (22), 1917. The far-reaching expansionist aspirations of German imperialism were exposed during the course of these negotiations. However, the Soviet government was forced to accede to the onerous conditions of the peace treaty in order to obtain a breathing space to strengthen the Soviet regime and establish the armed forces. There was a sharp struggle in the Central Committee of the Party and the Sovnarkom over the question of signing the peace treaty. The group of “left communists,” headed by N. I. Bukharin, opposed the Leninist line for the conclusion of the treaty; they conducted propaganda for a “revolutionary war” against German imperialism. Trotsky adhered to an equally adventuristic position, presenting the formula “neither peace nor war.” He headed the Soviet delegation in Brest and refused to sign the terms of the peace treaty. On February 10 (23), 1918, negotiations were broken off. Taking advantage of this circumstance, the German command violated the armistice and on February 18 began an offensive all along the front. The old army retreated, and the new army was still only being established. German troops occupied the Baltic region and a considerable portion of Byelorussia, invaded the Ukraine, and threatened Petrograd. The Soviet Republic was in terrible danger.

The Communist Party and the Soviet government called on the people to repulse the invaders. The Sovnarkom’s appeal, “The Socialist Homeland in Danger!” was published on February 21. The workers and toiling peasants arose in arms against the German imperialists. February 23, 1918, became the birthday of the Red Army. The enemy’s offensive against Petrograd was halted by the heroic resistance of detachments of the Red Guard and the first units of the new Red Army. The German government agreed to resume peace negotiations. On March 3, the Brest-Litovsk Peace Treaty of 1918 was signed. Soviet Russia left the war and obtained a peaceful respite.

Lenin proposed a program for the initiation of socialist construction in his work The Immediate Tasks of the Soviet Power (April 1918). He considered the following to be urgent common tasks for the entire nation: organizing a nationwide system of accounting and control; implementing operations on a self-supporting financial basis; struggling to increase labor productivity; organizing socialist competition; and inculcating the people with the new, proletarian discipline.

In the countryside, the policy of the Soviet regime was primarily directed toward implementing the agrarian reforms of the October Revolution—the Decree on Land. Lands held by landlords were confiscated and distributed. As the socialist revolution unfolded further in the villages, the class struggle between the poor peasants and the kulaks intensified. In the spring and especially in the summer and fall of 1918 the kulaks embarked on an open struggle against Soviet power. The middle peasantry showed signs of great vacillation. With the economy in a state of general decline, the anti-Soviet sabotage of the kulaks, who hid grain and hampered state grain purchases, caused hunger in the industrial centers. Workers and their families abandoned the cities; the factory proletariat decreased by half from what it had been in 1914.

The struggle for bread became a fight for the salvation of the Soviet Republic. Lenin said that the struggle for bread was ultimately the struggle for socialism. On May 13, the All-Russian Central Executive Committee and Sovnarkom adopted the decree “On Granting the Commissar of Food Emergency Powers in the Struggle Against the Village Bourgeoisie, Which Is Concealing and Speculating in Grain Supplies.” Lenin called on workers to declare a “crusade” against the kulaks and unite with the village poor in the name of the salvation of the Soviet State. The creation of special food detachments composed of the most class-conscious workers began at the end of May 1918. They were sent to the grain-producing provinces. A decree on the organization of Committees of the Poor in the villages was adopted on June 11. The organization of these committees signified a further deepening of the socialist revolution in the countryside. With the arrival of the workers’ food detachments in the countryside and the organization of the Committees of the Poor, the struggle against the kulak class entered a new phase. The socialist revolution reached the most remote villages. With the aid of the food detachments, the Committees of the Poor not only provided enormous assistance in the resolution of the food problem but also began to redistribute kulak land and stock. The socioeconomic face of the countryside changed; by the end of 1918, the proportion of poor peasants—65 percent of the population in 1917—had declined to 35 percent; the middle peasantry, which had been 20 percent, was now 60 percent; and the kulaks, who had composed 15 percent were now 5 percent. At the end of 1918 the middle peasant became the leading figure in the village. The political and economic positions of the kulak class were greatly undermined. The alliance of the working class and the poorest peasantry was cemented, and the dictatorship of the proletariat strengthened.

The Fifth All-Russian Congress of Soviets, meeting July 4-10, 1918, adopted the first Soviet constitution (July 10)—the Constitution of the RSFSR, which legislatively consolidated the soviet socialist social and governmental system born of the Great October Socialist Revolution.

The overthrown exploiting classes unleashed a civil war to restore capitalism. In essence, this war began immediately after the victory of the October armed uprising in Petrograd. The united forces of the domestic bourgeois landlord counterrevolution and foreign imperialism stood in opposition to Soviet power and socialist reforms. Relying on the financial, military, and political aid of the Entente, the forces of counterrevolution succeeded in creating a massive army of White Guards. In 1918 and 1919 they managed to seize the Northern Caucasus, the Don, Siberia, the Far East, the Urals, northern European Russia, and part of the Volga Region, and then the Crimea, Ukraine, and Transcaucasia. Soviet power was overthrown throughout these vast territories, the old regime was reestablished, and White terror was installed. The Russian working class and toiling peasantry, under the leadership of the Communist Party headed by Lenin, put an enormous strain on their military, material, and spiritual resources and thus routed the troops of the interventionists and domestic counterrevolutionaries, driving them from the country’s territory. Soviet power was reestablished in all regions except for the Baltic, where the national bourgeoisie, aided by German troops, was able to maintain the capitalist order and create bourgeois republics. Bessarabia, which was occupied by Rumania, was not liberated.

As a result of the Civil War, the Russian proletariat and toiling peasantry and the Soviet armed forces—the Red Army and the navy—defended the conquests of the Great October Socialist Revolution, preserving and strengthening the first worker-peasant state in the world.

The worldwide historical significance of the Great October Socialist Revolution. The October Revolution was fundamentally different from all preceding revolutions. It overthrew the rule of the capitalists and landlords, established the dictatorship of the proletariat, liquidated capitalism in Russia, eliminated the exploitation of one man by another, abolished social and national oppression, and opened the way to the construction of socialism and communism. The inspirer and organizer of the revolution was the Communist Party headed by Lenin, which based its activity on knowledge of the laws of social development and skillfully united into one revolutionary movement such diverse revolutionary currents as the pandemocratic movement for peace, the peasant democratic movement for land, the national liberation movement of oppressed peoples for national equality, and the socialist movement of the proletariat for the overthrow of the bourgeoisie and the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat.

The Russian proletariat was the basic moving force in the revolution. The Party organized an alliance of the working class and the poor peasantry, which became decisive in the victory of the socialist revolution. The powerful workers’ and pandemocratic movements that had begun in the West and the East and the profound sympathy and active support of the workers and toilers of all countries toward the October Revolution were extremely important for the victorious development of the October Revolution.

The following assessment of the October Revolution was made by the Central Committee of the CPSU:

“The October Revolution opened the way for resolving the fundamental problems presented by the entire preceding course of development of world history: the problems of a future society, of the nature of social progress, of war and peace, and of the fate of world civilization.

“The victory of October confirmed the Leninist theory of socialist revolution. The Marxist-Leninist doctrines passed the test of history:

“on the inevitable downfall of capitalism and the consolidation of socialism;

“on the vanguard role of the working class, led by the Communist Party, in the revolution and in the construction of a new society;

“on the dictatorship of the proletariat and its role in the struggle for the victory of socialism;

“on the soviets as the form of the dictatorship of the proletariat and the organs of genuine popular sovereignty and socialist democracy;

“on the alliance of the working class, peasantry, and other strata of toiling people—under the leadership of the working class—as the decisive force in the struggle for social liberation;

“on the industrialization of the country and the socialist transformation of agriculture;

“on the roads to the resolution of the national question; and

“on raising the standard of living of the toiling people and carrying out a cultural revolution” (“On the Preparation for the 50th Anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution.” Resolution of the Central Committee of the CPSU of Jan. 4, 1967, pp. 4-5).

The October Revolution broke the front of world imperialism and opened a new era in the history of humanity—the era of the downfall of capitalism and the triumph of socialism and communism. As a result of the October Socialist Revolution, the world split into two opposing systems—the system of socialism and the system of capitalism.

The Great October Socialist Revolution “accelerated the course of historical events in the world. The ideas of Marxism-Leninism and of October spread all over the earth; they lifted peoples up to struggle for their freedom and independence against oppressors. The achievements of the October Revolution became a mighty base for revolutionary transformations in all parts of the world.… The creation of a worldwide socialist system is the continuation of the revolutionary renewal of the world that was begun by October.

“The October Revolution revealed the worldwide historical role of the working class as the standard-bearer and main fighter for socialism, the most progressive and militant class force of the present era. It gave powerful impetus to the revolutionary movement of the international working class, placing this class in the center of the current epoch” (ibid., p. 17).

The October Revolution was a watershed in the development of the national liberation movement. It initiated the crisis of the colonial system and opened the epoch of national liberation revolutions in the colonial and dependent countries. It merged into a single current the struggle of the proletariat and other revolutionary forces and the struggle of oppressed peoples against national colonial oppression.

The October Revolution had an enormous revolutionizing influence on all the peoples of the world; it awakened the oppressed peoples, raised the broadest strata of the toiling masses to active political life, and helped strengthen the organization of the international proletariat. It was the cradle of the contemporary worldwide communist movement, which has become the greatest political force of modern times.

By its existence and its worldwide historical and social transformations, the Soviet socialist state born of the October Revolution inspires people all over the earth in the struggle for peace, democracy, and socialism.

As a result of the victory of the October Revolution and the construction of the Soviet socialist state, humanity found a trusty bulwark in its struggle against wars of aggression and for peace and security. The October Revolution outlined the high road to socialism for all humanity.

REFERENCES

Lenin, V. I. Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed. (See “Reference Volume,” part 1.)
50 let Velikoi Oktiabr’skoi sotsialisticheskoi revoliutsii: Dokumenty i materialy. Moscow, 1967.
Velikaia Oktiabr’skaia sotsialisticheskaia revoliutsiia: Dokumenty i materialy, vols. 1-10. Moscow, 1957-63.
Velikaia Oktiabr’ skaia sotsialisticheskaia revoliutsiia: Khronika sobytii, vols. 1-4. Moscow, 1957-61.
Velikii Oktiabr’: Sb. dokumentov. Moscow, 1962.
Kommunisticheskaia partiia Sovetskogo Soiuza v rezoliutsiiakh i resheniiakh s“ezdov, konferentsii i plenumov TsK, 7thed., part 1, 1898-1924. Moscow, 1954.
Shestoi s“ezd RSDRP (bol’shevikov): Avgust 1917 g., Protokoly. Moscow, 1958.
Protokoly TsK RSDRP (b): Avgust 1917—fevral’ 1918. Moscow, 1958.
Sed’maia (Aprel’skaia Vserossiiskaia konferentsiia RSDRP (bol’shevikov). Protokoly. Moscow, 1958.
Baltiiskie moriaki v podgotovke i provedenii Velikoi Oktiabr’skoi sotsialisticheskoi revoliutsii. Moscow-Leningrad, 1957.
Revoliutsionnoe dvizhenie v russkoi armii: 27 fevralia—24 oktiabria, 1917 Sbornik dokumentov. Moscow, 1968.
Vtoroi Vserossiiskii s“ezd Sovetov rabochikh i soldatskikh deputatov trudiashchikhsia: Sbornik dokumentov. Moscow, 1957.
Dekrety Sovetskoi vlasti, vols. 1-4. Moscow, 1957-68.
Proletarskaia solidarnost’ trudiashchikhsia v bor’be za mir (1917-1924). Moscow, 1958. (Documents and materials.)
Ekonomicheskoe polozhenie Rossii nakanune Velikoi Oktiabr’skoi sotsialisticheskoi revoliutsii: Mart-oktiabr’, 1917 g. Dokumenty i materialy, parts 1-2. Moscow-Leningrad, 1957.
Petrogradskii Voenno-revoliutsionnyi komitet, vol. 1-3. Moscow, 1966-67.
Podgotovka i pobeda Oktiabr’skoi revoliutsii v Moskve: Dokumenty i materialy. Moscow, 1957.
Velikaia Oktiabr’skaia sotsialisticheskaia revoliutsiia na Ukraine: Fevral’ 1917—aprel’ 1918 g. Sbornik dokumentov i materialov, vols. 1-3. Kiev, 1957.
Bor’ba za vlast’ Sovetov v Moldavii. (Mart 1917-mart 1918 gg.): Sbornik dokumentov i materialov. Kishinev, 1957.
Velikaia Oktiabr’skaia sotsialisticheskaia revoliutsiia v Belorussii: Dokumenty i materialy, vols. 1-2. Minsk, 1957.
Bor’ba za pobedu Sovetskoi vlasti v Azerbaidzhane, 1918-1920: Dokumenty i materialy. Baku, 1967.
Bor’ba za pobedu Sovetskoi vlasti v Gruzii: Dokumenty i materialy (1917-1921 gg.). Tbilisi, 1958.
Velikaia Oktiabr’skaia sotsialisticheskaia revoliutsiia i pobeda Sovetskoi vlasti v Armenii. Yerevan, 1957. (Collection of documents.)
Velikaia Oktiabr’skaia sotsialisticheskaia revoliutsiia v Estonii: Sb. dokumentov i materialov. Tallin, 1958.
Oktiabr’skaia revoliutsiia v Latvii: Dokumenty i materialy. Riga, 1957.
Bor’ba za Sovetskuiu vlast’ v Litve v 1918-1920 gg. Sbornik dokumentov. Vilnius, 1967.
Velikaia Oktiabr’skaia sotsialisticheskaia revoliutsiia i grazhdanskaia voina v Kirgizii (1917-1920 gg.): Dokumenty i materialy. Frunze, 1957.
Pobeda Velikoi Oktiabr’skoi sotsialisticheskoi revoliutsii v Kazakh-stane: 1917-1918 gg. Sb. dokumentov i materialov. Alma-Ata, 1957.
Pobeda Velikoi Oktiabr’skoi sotsialisticheskoi revoliutsii v Turkestane: Sb. dokumentov. Tashkent, 1947.
Podgotovka i provedenie Velikoi Oktiabr’skoi sotsialisticheskoi revoliutsii v Turkmenistane: Sbornik dokumentov. Ashkhabad, 1954.
Podgotovka i provedenie Velikoi Oktiabr’skoi sotsialisticheskoi revoliutsii v Uzbekistane: Sb. dokumentov. Tashkent, 1947.

WORKS OF PARTY FIGURES

Bubnov, A. S. O Krasnoi Armii. Moscow, 1958.
Dzerzhinskii, F. E. Izbr. proizv., vol. 1, 1897-1923. Moscow, 1957.
Kalinin, M. I. Izbr. proizv., vol. 1. Moscow, 1960.
Kirov, S. M. Izbr, stat’i i rechi (1912-1934). Moscow, 1957.
Krupskaia, N. K. O Lenine: Sb. st. [Moscow, 1960.]
Kuibyshev, V. V. Izbr. proizv. Moscow, 1958.
Sverdlov, la. M. Izbr. proizv., vol. 2. Moscow, 1959.
Ordzhonikidze, Sergo. Stat’i i rechi, vol. 1 (1910-26). Moscow, 1956.
Stalin, J. V. Soch., vols. 3-4. Moscow, 1953-54.
Stuchka, P. I. V bor’be za Oktiabr’: Sb. st. Riga, 1960.
Shaumian, S. G. Izbr. proizv., vol. 2, 1917-18. Moscow, 1958.

MEMOIRS OF PARTICIPANTS IN THE REVOLUTION

Antonov-Ovseenko, V. A. V revoliutsii. Moscow, 1957.
Bonch-Bruevich, V. D. Na boeivykh postakh FevraVskoi i Oktiabr’skoi revoliutsii, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1931. (Reminiscences of V. I. Lenin.)
Bonch-Bruevich, M. D. Vsia vlast’ Sovetam. Moscow, 1964.
Podvoiskii, N. P. God 1917. Moscow, 1958.
Velikaia Oktiabr’skaia sotsialisticheskaia revoliutsiia: Sb. vospominanii uchastnikov revoliutsii v Petrograde i Moskve. Moscow, 1957.
Istoriia KPSS, vols. 2-3. Moscow, 1966-68.
Vsemirnaia istoriia, vols. 7, 8. Moscow, 1958-61.
Istoriia grazhdanskoi voiny v SSSR: 1917-1922, vols. 1-3. Moscow, 1939-57.
Mints, I. I. Istoriia Velikogo Oktiabria, vols. 1-2. Moscow, 1967-68.
Istoriia Velikoi Oktiabr’skoi sotsialisticheskoi revoliutsii. Moscow, 1967.
Oktiabr’skoe vooruzhennoe vosstanie: Semnadtsatyi god v Petrograde, books 1-2. Leningrad, 1967.
Oktiabr’ v Moskve. [Moscow], 1967.
Golikov, G. N. Revoliutsiia, otkryvshaia novuiu eru. [Moscow, 1967.]
Istoriia SSSR s drevneishikh vremen do nashikh dnei, 2nd series, vol. 7. Moscow, 1967.
Velikii Oktiabr’ i mirovoi revoliutsionnyi protsess. Moscow, 1967.
Volobuev, P. V. Proletariat i burzhuaziia Rossii v 1917 g. Moscow, 1964.
Gaponenko, L. S. Rabochii klass Rossii v 1917 godu. Moscow, 1970.
Golub, P. A. Partiia, armiia i revoliutsiia: Otvoevanie partiei bol’shevikov armii na storonu revoliutsii. Mart 1917—fevral’ 1918. [Moscow, 1967.]
Gorodetskii, E. N. Rozhdenie Sovetskogo gosudarstva, 1917-1918. [Moscow, 1965.]
Geroi Oktaibria: Biografii aktivnykh uchastnikov podgotovki i provedeniia Oktiabr’skogo vooruzhennogo vosstaniia v Petrograde, vols. 1-2. Leningrad, 1967.
Geroi Oktiabria (Kniga ob uchastnikakh Velikoi Oktiabr’skoi sotsialisticheskoi revoliutsii v Moskve). Moscow, 1967.
Zetkin, K. Oktiabr’skaia revoliutsiia. [Khar’kov], 1924.
Williams, A. R. O Lenine i Oktiabr’skoi revoliutsii. Moscow, 1960. (Translated from English.)
Reed, J. 10 dnei, kotorye potriasli mir. Moscow, 1958. (Translated from English.)
Uchastie trudiashchikhsia zarubezhnykh stran v Oktiabr’skoi revoliutsii. Moscow, 1967. (Collection of articles.)
Velikaia Oktiabr’skaia sotsialisticheskaia revoliutsiia: Sb. vospominanii uchastnikov revoliutsii v Petrograde i Moskve.

G. N. GOLIKOV and M. I. KUZNETSOV

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

Advertisements

Alliance Marxist-Leninist: The Problem of Pablo Picasso

The Problem of Pablo Picasso

(1881-1973)

CONTENTS
Introduction
Pablo Picasso — Early Years
Developing Cubism
Guernica — The Bombing
Guernica — The Painting
Impact of Picasso and Guernica on Russian Discussions Upon Socialist Realist Art
Post Second World War – ‘Becoming a communist, Picasso hoped to come out of exile’.
Conclusion
Bibliography

Introduction

Picasso poses a problem for the supporters of Marxist-Leninist view of socialist art.

What ideology – both subjectively and objectively – did he represent? What are the advocates of realism in the arts to make of Picasso’s love of gross anatomical distortions? How do most people react to his, perhaps most famous work – “Guernica” – and what does it signify? And finally, what was his relation to the Communist Party?

We contend that Picasso’s story is one of a gifted artist, who was situated at a major turning point in history, between the time of the “pure, isolated individual” and a time that history was rushing forwards because of the consolidated action of masses. At this time, artists (like everybody else) were confronted with a choice. Many took the wrong turn — towards an isolationism, towards a “renunciation of reality.” One art historian explains this as the end of approximately 400 years of art history that had been till then, steadily moving towards a goal of more and better “reality.” In its place was substituted a “form of existence surpassing and incompatible with reality,” an existence that is “ugly”:

“The great reactionary movement of the century takes effect in the realm of art as a rejection of impressionism change which, in some respects, forms a deeper incision in the history of art than all the changes of style since the Renaissance, leaving the artistic tradition of naturalism fundamentally unaffected. It is true that there had always been a swinging to and fro between formalism and anti-formalism, but the function of art being true to life and faithful to nature bad never been questioned in principle since the Middle Ages. In this respect impressionism was the climax and the end of a development which had lasted more than four hundred years. Post-impressionist art is the first to renounce all illusion of reality on principle and to express its outlook on life by the deliberate deformation of natural objects. Cubism, constructivism, futurism, expressionism, dadaism, and surrealism turn away with equal determination from nature-bound and reality-affirming impressionism.

But impressionism itself prepares the ground for this development in so far as it does not aspire to an integrating description of reality, to a confrontation of the subject with the objective world as a whole, but marks rather the beginning of that process which has been called the “annexation” of reality by art (Andre Malraux: Psychologie de l’art). Post-impressionist art can no longer be called in any sense a reproduction of nature; its relationship to nature is one of violation. We can speak at most of a kind of magic naturalism, of the production of objects which exist alongside reality, but do not wish to take its place. Confronted with the works of Braque, Chagall, Rouault, Picasso, Henri Rousseau, Salvador Dali, we always feel that, for all their differences, we are in a second world, a super-world which, however many features of ordinary reality it may still display, represents a form of existence surpassing and incompatible with this reality. Modern art is, however, anti-impressionistic in yet another respect: it is a fundamentally “ugly” art, forgoing the euphony, the fascinating forms, tones and colours, of impressionism.”

Hauser, Arnold. “The Social history of Art” — Volume 4: ‘Naturalism, Impressionism, The Film Age'”; New York; nd; p. 229-230.

We will argue that Picasso took the ‘wrong turn” – rejecting realism – only to partially correct himself under the influence of a political realisation of the horrors of war and capitalism.

Picasso forsook his earlier brilliance in works of a realistic nature, to ‘invent’ Cubism. Both Cubism, and other related art movements such as Surrealism, and Dadaism — were pained attempts to come to terms with a rapidly changing society in the midst or the wake of the catastrophes of the First World War. It was the expression of an intense “hopelessness” of man’s possibility of changing anything — for example, averting the First World War. It was also explicitly anti-rational:

“It arose from a mood of disillusionment engendered by the First World War, to which some artists reacted with irony, cynicism, and nihilisim…. the name (French for ‘hobby-horse’) was chosen by inserting a penknife at random in the pages of a dictionary, thus symbolizing the anti-rational stance of the movement. Those involved in it emphasised the illogical and the absurd, and exaggerated the role of chance in artistic creation…… its techniques involving accident and chance were of great importance to the Surrealists and … later Abstract Expressionists”;

I. Chilvers, H. Osborne, D. Farr. “Oxford Dictionary of Art”; Oxford; 1977; p.147.

In the 1918 Berlin Dada Manifesto for instance, life is characterised as where:

“Life appears a simultaneous muddle of noises, colours, and spiritual rhythms, which is taken unmodified, with all the sensational screams and fevers of its reckless everyday psyche and with all its brutal reality.”

Cork, Richard “A Bitter Truth — Avant Garde Art & The Great War; London 1994; p.257.

Dadaism involved a “nihilism” [“”total rejection of current religious beliefs or morals.. A form of scepticism, involving the denial of all existence,” “Shorter Oxford English Dictionary” Volume 2; Oxford 1973; ; p.1404.]. The nihilism of these movements “not only questions the value of art but of the whole human situation. For, as it is stated in another of its manifestos, “measured by the standard of eternity, all human action is futile”:

“The historical importance of dadaism and surrealism (lies)…. in the fact that they draw attention to the blind alley …. at the end of the symbolist movement, to the sterility of a literary convention which no longer had any connection with real life …. Mallarme and the symbolists thought that every idea that occurred to them was the expression of their innermost nature; it was a mystical belief in the “magic of the word” which made them poets. The dadaists and the surrealists now doubt whether anything objective, external, formal, rationally organized is capable of expressing man at all, but they also doubt the value of such expression. It is really “inadmissible” – they think, that a man should leave a trace behind him. (Andre Breton: Les Pas perdus, 1924). Dadaism, therefore, replaces the nihilism of aesthetic culture by a new nihilism, which not only questions the value of art but of the whole human situation. For, as it is stated in one of its manifestos, “measured by the standard of eternity, all human action is futile.” (Tristn Tzara: Sept manifestes dada, 1920).”

Hauser, Arnold. “The Social history of Art” — Volume 4: ‘Naturalism, Impressionism, The Film Age'”; New York; nd; p.232-233.

Paradoxically, contrasting to the Dadaists, at least in some ways, Picasso exalted the individual. One can also see in him the epitome of the bourgeois view of an artist as someone obsessed by not only “art,” but of acting the part of “an artiste” – so that their life story is in itself a “work of art.” So Picasso said of artists that what was important was “who they are, not what they did”:

“It is not what the artist does that counts, but what he is. Cezanne would never have interested me a bit if he had lived and thought like Jacquestmile Blanche, even if the apples he had painted had been ten times as beautiful. What forces our interest is Cezanne’s anxiety, that’s Cezanne’s lesson; the torments of Van Gogh – that is the actual drama of the man. The rest is a sham.”

Berger, John.”The Success & Failure of Picasso”; New York; 1980; p.5; quoting Alfred H. Barr; “Picasso: Fifty Years of His Art”; Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1946.

Berger perceptively places Picasso’s exalted view of “artistic creativity” – as a remnant of the Romantics of the 19th century, for whom “art” was a “way of life.” Berger goes on to show that this was a form of a reaction to the bourgeois, monied “Midas” touch — a touch that changes all relations including artistic relations — to one of a mere commerce. While this exaltation of “creativity” was of value to the Romantics, in the 20th century nexus of individual versus masses, this self-centredness could be and was, hideously out of place.

Pablo Picasso – Early Years

Picasso was born in Spain, but lived and worked most of his life in Paris. His artistic mediums included sculpture, graphic arts, ceramics, poster design, as well as fine art. He was probably the most famous and prolific artist of the 20th century. As a son of a painter, he was a precocious master of line, even as a child. It is said that as a baby, is said to have been ‘lapiz’ – pencil. His work incorporated a number of styles, and he denied any logical sequence to his art development:

‘The several manners I have used in my art must not be considered as an evolution, or as steps toward an unknown ideal of painting. When I have found something to express, I have done it without thinking of the past or future. I do not believe I have used radically different elements in the different manners I have used in painting. If the subjects I have wanted to express have suggested different ways of expression, I haven’t hesitated to adopt them.’

I. Chilvers, H. Osborne, D. Farr. “Oxford Dictionary of Art”; Oxford; 1977; p. 431.

At this early stage (1900-1904) Picasso expressed artistic sentiments on behalf of the under-priviliged. For example, during his “Blue Period,” he painted several examples of a realistic and moving art:

“he took his subjects from the poor and social outcasts, the predominant mood of his paintings was one of at bottom opposed to the irrationalist elements of slightly sentimentalized melancholy expressed through cold ethereal blue tones

(La Vie, Cleveland Museum of Art, 1903). He also did a number of powerful engravings in a similar vein (The Frugal Repast, d 1904).” [See below].

I. Chilvers, H. Osborne, D. Farr. “Oxford Dictionary of Art”; Oxford; 1977; p. 431.

Pablo Picasso. “Woman Ironing” (La Repasseuse), 1904.

Pablo Picasso, “Le Repas Frugal,” 1904.

By 1904 Picasso now in Paris, was influenced by the Fauvist movement, as well as African sculpture and Cezanne’s works. He began to distort anatomical forms, in order to “disregard any conventional idea of beauty” (“Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” (MOMA, New York, 1906-7)[ See below]. At that time, these results were not viewed favourably, and “d’Avignon” was not publicly exhibited until 1937. But it marked the start of Cubism, which Picasso began with Braque and Gris from 1907 up to the First World War.

Pablo Picasso, “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon,” 1907.

Developing Cubism

So what was Cubism? It was a movement begun by Picasso with Braque, and later Gris, and was named after their tendency to use cubic motifs, as can be seen above:

“Movement in painting and sculpture, … was originated by Picasso and Braque. They worked so closely during this period – ‘roped together like mountaineers’ in Braque’s memorable phrase – that at times it is difficult to differentiate their hands. The movement was broadened by Juan Gris,…he name originated with the critic Louis Vauxcelles (following a mot by Matisse), who, in a review of the Braque exhibition in the paper Gil Blas, 14 November 1908, spoke of ‘cubes’ and later of ‘bizarreries cubiques.'”

I.Chilvers, H. Osborne, D. Farr. “Oxford Dictionary of Art”; Oxford; 1977; p. 144.

The cubists rejected an “apparent” reality to be conveyed by normal rules of perspective and modelling. They aimed to show all sides of reality, by displaying a moving history of how objects look over time, and from simultaneously observed but differing, vantage points. It was a “cerebral” exercise therefore, and it rejected any simple notion of how “an object looked”:

“Cubism made a radical departure from the idea of art as the imitation of nature that had dominated European painting and sculpture since the Renaissance. Picasso and Braque abandoned traditional notions of perspective, foreshortening, and modelling, and aimed to represent solidity and volume in a two-dimensional plane without converting the two-dimensional canvas illusionistically into a three-dimensional picture-space. In so far as they represented real objects, their aim was to depict them as they are known and not as they partially appear at a particular moment and place. For this purpose many different aspects of the object might be depicted simultaneously; the forms of the object were analysed into geometrical planes and these were recomposed from various simultaneous points of view into a combination of forms. To this extent Cubism was and claimed to be realistic, but it was a conceptual realism rather than an optical and Impressionistic realism. Cubism is the outcome of intellectualized rather than spontaneous vision. “

I. Chilvers, H. Osborne, D. Farr. “Oxford Dictionary of Art”; Oxford; 1977; p. 144.

As a movement, following its’ birth with “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon”, it rapidly evolved into other movements — but it was one of the key sources of abstractionism in art:

“The harbinger of the new style was Picasso’s celebrated picture Les Demoiselles d`Avignon (MOMA, New York, 1907), with its angular and fractured forms. It is customary to divide the Cubism of Picasso and Braque into two phases-Analytical’ and ‘Synthetic’. In the first and more austere phase, which lasted until 1912, forms were analysed into predominantly geometrical structures and colour was extremely subdued-usually virtually monochromatic – so as not to be a distraction. In the second phase colour became much stronger and shapes more decorative, and elements such as stencilled lettering and pieces of newspaper were introduced into paintings…Cubism, as well as being one of the principal sources for abstract art, was infinitely adaptable, giving birth to numerous other movements, among them Futurism, Orphism, Purism, and Vorticism…”

I. Chilvers, H. Osborne, D. Farr. “Oxford Dictionary of Art”; Oxford; 1977; p. 144.

But all these new movements propound a view of life that is “form-destroying.” Picasso thus easily flips in and out of several art movements, all the time exploring ever more “un-real” and deconstructed forms. At the same time, he is intent upon eroding any sense of a “unity” – whether of personality, of styles, view of the world etc. All reflect the deep contradictions of 20th century capitalism:

“Cubism and constructivism, on the one side, and expressionism and surrealism, on the other, embody strictly formal and form-destroying tendencies respectively which now appear for the first time side by side in such sharp contradiction. […]

Picasso, who shifts from one of the different stylistic tendencies to the other most abruptly, is at the same time the most representative artist of the present age.

Picasso‘s eclecticism signifies the deliberate destruction of the unity of the personality; his imitations are protests against the cult of originality; his deformation of reality, which is always clothing itself in new forms, in order the more forcibly to demonstrate their arbitrariness, is intended, above all, to confirm the thesis that “nature and art are two entirely dissimilar phenomena.” Picasso turns himself into a conjurer, a juggler, a parodist, [….]

And he disavows not only romanticism, but even the Renaissance, which, with its concept of genius and its idea of the unity of work and style, anticipates romanticism to some extent. He represents a complete break with individualism and subjectivism, the absolute denial of art as the expression of an unmistakable personality. His works are notes and commentaries on reality; they make no claim to be regarded as a picture of a world and a totality, as a synthesis and epitome of existence. Picasso compromises the artistic means of expression by his indiscriminate use of the different artistic styles just as thoroughly and wilfully as do the surrealists by their renunciation of traditional forms. The new century is full of such deep antagonisms, the unity of its outlook on life is so profoundly menaced, that the combination of the furthest extremes, the unification of the greatest contradictions, becomes the main theme, often the only theme, of its art.”

Hauser, Arnold. “The Social history of Art — Naturalism, Impressionism, The Film Age. Volume 4”; New York; nd; p. 233-234.

Since Picasso is so adept technically, he can continue to simply adopt and then drop styles as he pleases. In 1917 Picasso went to Italy, where he was impressed by Classicism, and incorporated some features of so-called “Monumental Classicism” into the work of the 1920’s (Mother and Child), but he also became involved with Surrealism, and with Andre Breton. The surrealists were interested in “irrationalist elements, and exaltation of chance, and equally to the direct realistic reproduction of dream or subconscious material.” I. Chilvers, H. Osborne, D. Farr. “Oxford Dictionary of Art”; Oxford; 1977; p.431.

During this time, he explored images of the Minotaur, the half man half beast drawn from Cretan mythology. Now, the Spanish Civil War erupted. This led to his most famous work, Guernica (Centro Cultural Reina Sofia, Madrid, 1937), which was produced for the Spanish Pavilion at the Paris Exposition Universelle of 1937 to express horror and revulsion at the destruction by bombing of the Basque capital Guernica during the civil war (1936-9).

By this time, Picasso had already become a very rich man already:

“Picasso was rich. Dealers began to buy his work in 1906. By 1909 he employed a aid with apron and cap to wait at table. In 1912, when he painted a picture on a whitewashed wall in Provence, his dealer thought it was worthwhile demolishing the wall and sending the whole painted piece intact to Paris to be remounted by experts on a wooden panel. In 1919 Picasso moved into a large flat in one of the most fashionable quarters of Paris. In 1930 he bought the seventeenth-century Chateau de Boisgeloup as an alternative residence. From the age of twenty-eight Picasso was free from money worries. From the age of thirty-eight he was wealthy. From the age of sixty-five he has been a millionaire.”

Berger, John.”The Success & Failure of Picasso”; New York; 1980; p.5.

Guernica – The Bombing

On 26 April 1937, the German air force was asked by General Franco to bomb the city of Guernica. This city was the ancient heart of the Basque nation, an oppressed nation within the multi-national state of Spain. It had resisted the Francoite fascists, and Franco was determined to subdue it. The city had no defences, and no military importance. The correspondent of ‘The Times” reported on the destruction:

“Guernica, the most ancient town of the Basques and the centre of their cultural tradition was completely destroyed yesterday afternoon by insurgent air raiders. The bombardment of the open town far behind the lines occupied precisely three hours and quarter, during which a powerful fleet of aeroplanes consisting of three German types, Junkers and Heinkel bombers and Heinkel fighters did not cease unloading on the town bombs. And incendiary projectiles. The fighters, meanwhile, plunged low from above the centre of the town to machine gun those of the civil population who had taken refuge in the fields.

The whole of Guernica was soon in flames, except the historic Casa de Juntas, with its rich archives of the Basque race, where the ancient Basque Parliament used to sit. The famous oak of Guernica, the dried old stump of 600 years and the new shoots of this century, was also untouched. Here the kings of Spain used to take the oath to respect the democratic rights (fueros) of Vizcaya and in return received a promise of allegiance as suzerains with the democratic title of Senor, not Rey Vizcaya.”

Antony Blunt. “Picasso’s Guernica”; Toronto; 1969; Oxford & Toronto, p.7-8.

Perhaps however the real measure of the horror is best given by the first eye-witness account, from a priest — Father Alberto de Onaindia:

“We reached the outskirts of Guernica just before five o’clock. The streets were busy with the traffic of market day. Suddenly we heard the siren, and trembled. People mere running about in all directions, abandoning everything they possessed, some hurrying into the shelters, others running into the hills. Soon an enemy airplane appeared … and when he was directly over the center he dropped three bombs. Immediately airwards we saw a squadron of seven planes, followed a little later by six more, and this in turn by a third squadron of five more. And Guernica was seized by a terrible panic.

I left the car by the side of the road and we took refuge in a storm drain. The water came up to our ankles. From our hiding place we could see everything that happened without being seen. The airplanes came low, flying at two hundred meters. As soon as we could leave our shelter, we ran into the woods, hoping to put a safe distance between us and the enemy. But the airmen saw us and went after us. The leaves hid us. As they did not know exactly where we were, they aimed their machineguns in the direction they thought we were traveling. We heard the bullets ripping through branches and the sinister sound of splintering wood. The milicianos and I followed the flight patterns of the airplanes, and we made a crazy journey through the trees, trying to avoid them. Meanwhile, women, children, and old men were falling in heaps, like flies, and everywhere we saw lakes of blood.

I saw an old peasant standing alone in a field: a machine-gun bullet killed him. For more than an hour these planes, never more than a few hundred meters in altitude, dropped bomb after bomb on Guernica. The sound of the explosions and of the crumbling houses cannot be imagined. Always they traced on the air the same tragic flight pattern, as they flew all over the streets of Guernica. Bombs fell by the thousands. Later we saw bomb craters. Some were sixteen meters in diameter and eight meters deep.

The airplanes left around seven o’clock, and then there came another wave of them, this time flying at an immense altitude. They were dropping incendiary bombs on our martyred city. The new bombardment lasted thirty-five minutes, sufficient to transform the town into an enormous furnace. Even then I realized the terrible purpose of this new act of vandalism. They were dropping incendiary bombs to convince tie world that the Basques had torched their own city. The destruction went on altogether for two hour. and forty-five minutes. When the bombing was over the people left their shelters. I saw no one crying. Stupor was written on all their faces. Eyes fixed on Guernica, we were completely incapable of believing what we saw.”

In Martin, Russell. “Picasso’s War. The Destruction of Guernica, and the Masterpiece that Changed the World”; 2002, New York; p. 40-42.

Colonel Wolfram von Richthofen, commanded the Condor Legion, and planned that first blast bombs would destroy all city-centre buildings; then that the townspeople would be strafed with machine-gun fire; and finally, that incendiary bombs would set fire to the rubble. Four days later, he reported his success:

“Gernika literally levelled to the ground. Attack carried out with 250-kilogram and incendiary bombs-about one-third of the latter. When the first Junker squadron arrived, there was smoke everywhere already [from von Moreau’s first assault]; no, body could identify the targets of roads, bridge, and suburbs, and they just dropped everything right into the center. The 250s toppled houses and destroyed the water mains. The incendiaries now could spread and become effective. The material of the houses: tile roofs, wooden porches, and half-timbering resulted in complete annihilation…. Bomb craters can still be seen in the streets, simply terrific. Town completely blocked off for at least 24 hours, perfect conditions for a great victory, if only the troops had followed through.”

In Martin, Russell. “Picasso’s War. The Destruction of Guernica, and the Masterpiece that Changed the World”; 2002, New York; p. 42-43.

Russell Martin points to the innovative strategy that was utlized of air-raid induced terror:

“The three-hour campaign had been efficient, accurate, highly effective, and it was precisely what was proscribed in German military strategist M.K.L. Dertzen’s Grundsdtze der Wehrpolitik, which had been published two years before and which von Richthofen had taken very much to heart: “If cities are destroyed by flames, if women and children are victims of suffocating gases, if the population in open cities far from the front perish due to bombs dropped from planes, it will be impossible for the enemy to continue the war. Its citizens will plead for an immediate end to hostilities.”

In Martin, Russell. “Picasso’s War. The Destruction of Guernica, and the Masterpiece that Changed the World”; 2002, New York; p. 42-43.

Guernica – The Painting

Picasso had not been especially political up to this time, although as a youth in Barcelona the vigorous anarchist movements there had influenced him. But with the onset of the Spanish Civil War, Picasso took sides. In May 1937 he made his position clear in a public statement:

“The Spanish struggle is the fight of reaction against the people, against freedom. My whole life as an artist has been nothing more than a continuous struggle against reaction and the death of art. How could anybody think for a moment that I could be in agreement with reaction and death? When the rebellion began, the legally elected and democratic republican government of Spain appointed me director of the Prado Museum, a post which I immediately accepted. In the panel on which I am working which I shall call Guernica, and in all my recent works of art, I clearly express my abhorrence of the military caste which has sunk Spain in an ocean of pain and death…”

Barr, Alfred. “Picasso: Fifty Years of His Art”; New York; 1946; p.202; cited by Blunt A; Ibid; p. 9.

“‘No: painting is not there just to decorate the walls of a flat. It is a means of waging offensive and defensive war against the enemy.”
Cited at: http://www.tamu.edu/mocl/picasso/tour/t05c.html

He immediately did a pair of etchings entitled Sueho y mentira de Franco (‘Dream and Lie of Franco) which he issued with an accompanying poem.

Picasso, “Dream and Lie of Franco,” 1937.

In January 1937, the Republican elected Government, invited Picasso to paint a mural for the Spanish Pavilion in the International Exhibition of Paris in 1938. Following the bombing of Guernica, Picasso worked in a frenzy completing the huge work in ten days.

The cover of “Alliance Marxist-Leninist” Issue 52 shows the painting. But for a larger view go here:

Web-site for Guernica at: http://www.arts.adelaide.edu.au/personal/DHart/Images/WarArt/Picasso/Guernica/Guernica.JPG

Picasso, “Guernica,” 1937.

Blunt describes the large canvas as follows:

“The painting is on canvas and measures 11 ft. 6 in. by 25 ft. 8 in. It is almost monochrome, that is to say, it is executed in various shades of grey, varying from a completely neutral tint to slightly purplish and bluish greys at one extreme, and brownish greys at the other.

The scene takes place in darkness, in an open space surrounded by schematically indicated buildings, which presumably stand for a public square in the town of Guernica. At the top is a strange lamp in the form of an eye, with an electric bulb as the iris.

The actors in the scene fall into two groups. The active protagonists are three animals – the bull, the wounded horse, and the winged bird just visible in the left background-and two human beings, the dead soldier, and the woman above and to the right, who leans out of a window and holds out a lamp to illuminate the whole stage. They are accompanied by a sort of Greek chorus of three women: the screaming mother carrying a dead baby on the left, the woman rushing in from the right, and above her one falling in a house which is collapsing in flames.
These figures – human and animal – and the symbolism attached to them were not evolved at a single blow but have a long and complicated history, not only in the work of Picasso himself but in European art of earlier periods.”

Blunt, Antony, “Picasso’s Guernica”; Toronto; 1969 OUP, p.13

Apart from a general sense of horror -what does it all mean? What are the bull and the horse doing here so prominently?

“As regards the meaning of the picture, Picasso has only supplied a slight clue about the central symbols. The horse, he said in an interview, represents the people, and the bull brutality and darkness. When pressed by his interlocutor to say whether he meant that the bull stood for Fascism, he refused to agree and stuck to his original statement. … These indications are tantalizingly slender, but it is possible, by a study of Picasso’s previous work, particularly in the 1930’s, to deduce more about the symbols used in Guernica and about the artist’s intentions in general. The central theme, the conflict between bull and horse, is one which has interested the artist all his life…”

Blunt, Antony, “Picasso’s Guernica”; Toronto; 1969; p.14.

Prior to Guernica, Picasso had long been depicting battles between good and evil, where the Minotaur takes a prominent place. But these symbolic interpretations are much less important than the overall first impact – of the weeping women. There can be little doubt that any spectator who is first shown this picture more likely reacts immediately to the wailing women – one with an obviously dead child, one in a burning house, and the dead or gravely injured soldier holding a weapon who is being trampled by a terrified horse. The general effect is one of a terrible searing scene. Moreover, an original draft had an equally potent image – a clenched fist:

“In…the drawing of 9 May…the main interest is now focused on the dead soldier, who fills the whole left-hand part of the foreground, lying with his head on the right, his left hand clasping a broken sword,” his right arm raised and his fist clenched. That is to say, Picasso has taken the theme of the raised arm with clenched fist, which in the drawing played a quite minor part in a corner of the composition, and has given it a completely new significance by attaching it to the central figure of the composition. The arm of the soldier now forms a strong vertical, which is emphasized by the axis of the lamp, continued downwards in a line cutting across the body of the horse, and by another vertical line drawn arbitrarily to the left of the arm. The vertical strip thus formed is made the basis of the geometrical scheme on which the composition is built up.”

Blunt, Antony: “Picasso’s Guernica”; Toronto; 1969 OUP, p.39.

The drawing can be seen at: http://www.arts.adelaide.edu.au/personal/DHart/Images/WarArt/Picasso/Guernica/DoraMaarsPhotos/State1-11May1937.JPG

Picasso, “Guernica,” original sketch, 1937.

However Picasso then removed the raised arm. Why? What we can be sure of is that at that time Picasso was not associated with the Communist party, and the symbol of the clenched fist was and is – an explicitly communist one. Therefore, the overall sense of the painting remains one of a horror — and not that of a RESISTANCE to the hells of war.

And naturally, the “distortions of forms” – the late Picasso speciality – remains. But — having said that – what impact has the painting had on the numerous people who have seen it or its reproduction? An interesting experience is to watch those who are looking at this gigantic painting – they are mesmerised and yet, horrified at the same time.

There is absolutely no doubt that the picture has become iconic in its symbolic rejection of war and the brutal inhumanity of war.

For those who might still be sceptical of this viewpoint, it should be remembered that during the prelude to the inhumane, and illegal 2003 war against Iraq, a tapestry copy of “Guernica” – that hangs in the foyer at the United Nations HQ at New York, was shrouded during televised interviews.

Why does it seem that this painting evokes such resonant feelings? After all, it is in its form-distortions – anti-realistic. In fact “abstract” painting rarely evokes a “positive” audience reaction. Recall for instance the furore as the “critics” – the servants of the capitalist classes waxed eloquent about the piles of bricks at the Tate – the public roared its’ incomprehension and its’ disapproval. But this has not ever happened with “Guernica.” Why?

It is possible that people have become simply more visually sophisticated than they used to be – under the influence of mass printings. Or possibly the knowledge of what happened at Guernica is so widespread – that people can make a quick connection between the intent of the painting – despite the distortion of forms. But, a third point has to be made. That is that perhaps despite the bias of the painter, whose loyalty to “form-distortion” was so deep – it is in fact pretty “realistic.” The horse screaming in agony is – evidently just that. The women howling – can be heard. The heat on the woman burning the bomber house – is felt scorching us. The sounds of the horse trampling on the dead soldier – are bone-jarringly “real.”

Maybe Picasso was a “cubist.” But he left his intellectualised system to one side when he painted this picture.

Picasso also made other great paintings that attacked war, [See “The Charnel House”; MOMA, New York, 1945] and the later Korean War [“Korean women and children being butchered by white men – Massacre in Korea” – see below:]

Pablo Picasso, “Massacre in Korea,” 1951.

All show marked “form-distortion,” but they nonetheless, do convey a clear message. In fact, the non-realistic pictures do resonate. The editors of the “Oxford Dictionary,” claim that:

“In treating such themes Picasso universalized the emotional content by an elaboration of the techniques of expression which had been developed through his researches into Cubism.”

I. Chilvers, H. Osborne, D. Farr. “Oxford Dictionary of Art”; Oxford; 1977; p. 144.

Clearly, these works are not ‘realist’ in any usual meaning, but their meaning is surely explicit. So — are these propagandist posters, or are they art? We would argue that they are more within the realm of progressive propaganda. But, the boundary line is certainly very narrow.

Impact of Picasso and Guernica on Russian Discussions Upon Socialist Realist Art

A mythology prevails, that there was no discussion – nor knowledge of Western art movements in the socialist years of the USSR (up to 1953). But this is patently false, as there is absolutely no doubt that the Russian artistic scene, was affected by currents in the West. Indeed, the height of knowledge and sensible debates about these various movements is the lie to the general bourgeois line that “there was no debate” and “purely dictatorship” in the USSR. Artistic events in the West were treated very seriously and openly. Undoubtedly post-Second World War there was a renewed debate about the principles of “Socialist Realism”:

“At the ninth plenum of the orgkomitet (Organising Committee of the Union of Soviet Artists) held May 1945, some of speakers from the floor brought up the question of innovation in painting, suggesting a new openness to questions of form…Even court painters and official spokesmen of socialist realism appeared with new faces. The critic V Gaposhkin made a visit to Alexandr Gerasimov’s studio and praised highly his unfinished painting of “A Russian Communal Bath’ – a major composition of female nudes with no ideological pretext (plate 230).

That the mood among some artists and critics, was distinctly rebellious may be may be gleaned from a lecture, entitled ‘The Problem of the ‘Impressionism & the problem of the Kartina’, delivered by Nikolai Punin to the Leningrad artists’ union on 13 April 1946 – and from the reaction to it.

Punin’s address was an attempt to install impressionism as the basis for the work of Soviet painters; it amounted not only to a revision of the attitude to impressionism which had been imposed in the art press after the debates of 1939-40, but also to a rejection of some of the entrenched principles of socialist realism. He stressed the variety apparent in the painting of the impressionists extolled them as ‘honest’ and ‘contemporary’. He criticised the characterisation of impressionism as some kind of a system…”

Cullerne Bown, Matthew. “Socialist Realist Painting”; New Haven; 1998; p.223.

Picasso and his evident partisanship, as expressed in “Guernica” became a part of the debate in the USSR:

“At the discussion on 26 April the artist Petr Mazepov pointed out that impressionism led to the formalist art of cubism and fauvism, in which ‘there is no social struggle, the class soul, the party soul, the great soul of the people is absent’. At this point Mazepov was interrupted from the floor: ‘And Picasso?’ ‘And Cezanne?” And ” Guernica, he’s a Communist, a party member.” A little later Mazepov was interrupted again: ‘An artist doesn’t have to take up a proletarian position to express his idea’. [….]

Over the course of both days’ debate, Punin received broad support from well-known Leningrad painters such as Pakulin and Traugot, and from voices from the floor. He summed up on 3 May: ‘If we take cubism or futurism, if we take the work of Picasso, then I personally do not see any formalism in this.’”

Cullerne Bown, Matthew. “Socialist Realist Painting”; New Haven; 1998; p.223.

Punin’s denial of “formalism: in the works of cubism, or futurism – is untenable. Punin was using the works of the 1930’s of Picasso, that had already mutated away from “non-realistic” painting. Actually, it is very telling that the argument “What about Guernica?” – could be used in the midst of this discussion. Even the staunchest supporter of the principles of socialist realism in the USSR, simply had to concede that the painting had emotional power. But the use of Picasso’s open allegiance, by various revisionist sections of the French Communist party even more blatantly.

Post Second World War – ‘Becoming a communist, Picasso hoped to come out of exile’.

Already, his painting of Guernica had shown that Picasso was a republican. During the war years, he stayed in Nazi occupied Paris. On the liberation of Europe, Picasso was to show very publicly his allegiance to the Communist party:

“On October 4 1944, less than six weeks after the liberation of Paris, Pablo Picasso, then 63, joined the French Communist party. To his surprise, the news covered more than half of the front page of the next day’s L’Humanité, the party’s official newspaper, overshadowing reports of the war…….. “Shortly after, in an interview for L’Humanité, Picasso claimed that he had always fought, through the weapons of his art, like a true revolutionary. But he also said that the experience of the second world war had taught him that it was not sufficient to manifest political sympathies under the veil of mythologising artistic expression.

‘I have become a communist because our party strives more than any other to know and to build the world, to make men clearer thinkers, more free and more happy. I have become a communist because the communists are the bravest in France, in the Soviet Union, as they are in my own country, Spain. While I wait for the time when Spain can take me back again, the French Communist party is a fatherland for me. In it I find again all my friends – the great scientists Paul Langevin and Frédéric Joliot-Curie, the great writers Louis Aragon and Paul Eluard, and so many of the beautiful faces of the insurgents of Paris. I am again among brothers.'”

Five days after joining the party Picasso appeared at a ceremony at the Père Lachaise cemetery, organised as a joint memorial for those killed during the Commune of 1871 and in the Nazi occupation of Paris.”

Gertje R Utley. “Picasso was one of the most valued members of the French Communist party – until a portrait of Stalin put him at the centre of an ideological row”. October 21, 2000 The Guardian; http://www.guardian.co.uk/saturday_review/story/0,3605,385610,00.html

Elsewhere he rhetorically asked:

“Have not the Communists been the bravest in France, in the Soviet Union, and in my own Spain? How could I have hesitated? The fear to commit myself? But on the contrary I have never felt freer, never felt more complete. And then I have been so impatient to find a country again: I have always been an exile, now I am no longer one: whilst waiting for Spain to be able to welcome me back, the French Communist Party have opened their arms to me, and I have found there all whom I respect most, the greatest thinkers, the greatest poets, and all the faces of the Resistance fighters in Paris whom I saw and were so beautiful during those August days; again I am among my brothers.”

Berger, John.”The Success & Failure of Picasso”; New York; 1980; p.173.

His allegiance extended to numerous art-related activities. His efforts were recognised by a Stalin Prize, for his famous Poster for Peace, using the image of a dove [See below].

“He also presided over the infamous gathering of the Comité Directeur du Front National des Arts, which drew up the list of artists to be purged for collaborationist activities during the occupation. In 1950 he was awarded the Stalin prize for his involvement in the Mouvement de la Paix, for which he had designed the emblem of a dove. The movement, … was inaugurated in Wroclaw under the aegis of Andrey Zhdanov, secretary of the Soviet central committee.”

Gertje R Utley. Ibid;. October 21, 2000 The Guardian; http://www.guardian.co.uk/saturday_review/story/0,3605,385610,00.html

In addition he was lavish with his money:

“he generously donated time and money to the FCP and associated organisations. He marched with the Front National des Intellectuels and the Front National Universitaire and accepted honorary positions on boards and in organisations. His contributions mostly took the form of paintings donated for sale. In November 1956 alone, the dealer Kahnweiler wrote that he gave on Picasso’s behalf a cheque for FFr3m for Christmas gifts for Enfants des Fusillés de la Résistance, FFr500,000 for the Comité de la Paix, FFr300,000 for the Patriote de Toulouse, FFr750,000 more for the children of war victims and FFr3m (half a million more than the previous year) for a yearly Communist party event. (To give some perspective to these figures, Chrysler bought Picasso’s Le Charnier in 1954 for FFr5m.) “

Gertje R Utley. Ibid;. October 21, 2000 The Guardian; http://www.guardian.co.uk/saturday_review/story/0,3605,385610,00.html

So upon Stalin’s death, it was not un-expected that he would be asked to paint his picture. He had pervasively been asked – on Stalin’s 70th birthday – and refused. This time he agreed. However an orchestrated campaign of vilification suggested that the portrait was “an affront to Stalin” as it “neglected to reflect the emotions of the people.” Picasso had wanted a portrait of “a man of the people.” The French Communist Party was of course under revisionist control at this time. As we have previously described, the revisionists wished to perpetuate a “cult of personality.” Picasso had reverted to a “realistic” style, at a most inconvenient time for them, and in a most inconvenient manner. He “had to be rebuked”:

“In 1953…Stalin died on March 5. Aragon and editor Pierre Daix were preparing an issue of the communist journal “Les Lettres Françaises” when the news broke. Aragon immediately sent a telegram to Picasso. … requesting a drawing of Stalin. Daix and Gilot knew that Picasso, who until then had successfully foiled any hope that he would paint a portrait of Stalin, could not refuse this time. The artist’s homage for Stalin’s 70th birthday in 1949 had been nothing more than a drawing of a glass raised to the dictator’s health, which had shocked the party faithful with its breezy caption, “Staline à ta santé.” [….]

He seems to have used old newspaper photographs as a reference. The portrait shows the young Stalin, face framed by thick, cropped hair, mouth partly hidden under a bushy moustache. The eyes under the strong eyebrows are those of a dreamer and offset by the prominent jawline. Picasso told Geneviève Laporte. [….] that he had wanted to show Stalin as a man of the people, without his uniform and decorations. [….] Aragon and Daix were relieved to find the portrait to their liking. Daix opted for the neutral caption “Staline par Pablo Picasso, March 8 1953”. [….]

The first negative reaction came from the employees of France Nouvelle and L’Humanité, the two papers that shared the same building as Les Lettres françaises, who were appalled by what they considered an affront to Stalin. Daix suspected – correctly, as it turned out – that this was instigated by the party leaders, who saw publication of the portrait as an incursion against the personality cult, and by Auguste Lecur, hardline party secretary, who welcomed this opportunity to chastise Aragon and Les Lettres françaises for the relative independence they claimed. [….]

From the moment the paper appeared at kiosks on March 12, the editorial offices were flooded with outraged calls. On March 18 1953, a damaging communiqué appeared in L’Humanité from the secretariat of the French Communist party, “categorically” disapproving publication of the portrait “by comrade Picasso”.  [….] Aragon was obliged to publish the communiqué in the following issue of Les Lettres françaises, as well as a self-criticism in L’Humanité. The major reproach [….] was that the portrait neglected to reflect the emotions of the public – “the love that the working class feel for the regretted comrade Stalin and for the Soviet Union” – and that it did not do justice to the moral, spiritual, and intellectual personality of Stalin.“

Gertje R Utley. Ibid;. October 21, 2000 The Guardian; http://www.guardian.co.uk/saturday_review/story/0,3605,385610,00.html

But Picasso refused to rise to the bait, and refused to attack the party.

“Picasso, besieged by journalists eager to have him admit that his portrait sought to mock Stalin, refuted any such suggestion. nor did the attacks against him entice Picasso to disparage the party, as some had hoped. “Despite various reports that quoted Picasso as saying that one did not criticise the flowers that were sent to the funeral or the tears that were shed, Gilot [Picassos’ then lover — editor] recalled a more detached attitude. According to her, Picasso replied that aesthetic matters were debatable, that therefore it was the party’s right to criticise him and that he saw no need to politicise the issue. “You’ve got the same situation in the party as in any big family,” he said. “There is always some damn fool to stir up trouble, but you have to put up with him.”

Gertje R Utley. Ibid;. October 21, 2000 The Guardian; http://www.guardian.co.uk/saturday_review/story/0,3605,385610,00.html

 

In private, Picasso gave a rather amusing — if somewhat coarse — attack on the bureaucratic slavish mentality behind this imbroglio:

“In conversation with Daix, who was sent by Aragon to appease him, Picasso speculated:

“Can you imagine if I had done the real Stalin, such as he has become, with his wrinkles, his pockets under the eyes, his warts. A portrait in the style of Cranach! Can you hear them scream? ‘He has disfigured Stalin! He has aged Stalin!'” He continued: “And then too, I said to myself, why not a Stalin in heroic nudity? Yes, but, Stalin nude, and what about his virility? If you take the pecker of the classical sculptor… So small… But, come on, Stalin, he was a true male, a bull. So then, if you give him the phallus of a bull, and you’ve got this little Stalin behind his big thing they’ll cry: But you’ve made him into a sex maniac! A satyr!

“Then if you are a true realist you take your tape measure and you measure it all properly. That’s worse, you made Stalin into an ordinary man. And then, as you are ready to sacrifice yourself, you make a plaster cast of your own thing. Well, it’s even worse. What, you dare take yourself for Stalin! After all, Stalin, he must have had an erection all the time, just like the Greek statues… Tell me, you who knows socialist realism, is that Stalin with an erection or without an erection?”

When in the summer of 1954 (after Stalin’s death) Picasso, thinking aloud, asked Daix: “Don’t you think that soon they will find that my portrait is too nice?” On another occasion, he reflected: “Fortunately I drew the young Stalin. The old one never existed. Only for the official painters.”

Gertje R Utley. Ibid;. October 21, 2000 The Guardian; http://www.guardian.co.uk/saturday_review/story/0,3605,385610,00.html

What is even more interesting — is that despite his “saison en enfer” (season in hell) — Picasso never recanted his allegiance to the party. Even with the social-imperialists attacks on both Hungary (1956) or Czechoslovakia (1968):

“Picasso later called the year 1953 his “saison en enfer” — his season in hell. He admitted to some friends how shaken he had been by the accusations and humiliations of the scandal. The year is widely believed to signal the end of Picasso’s political commitment. Yet while his cooperation with the party was never again as close as it had been in the years 1944-53, his commitment did not stop. He continued to produce drawings for the press and for poster designs, made supportive appearances at party events, and readily signed petitions and protest declarations initiated by the party. He also never discontinued his financial support. While many left because of the party’s attitude during the Hungarian uprising in 1956, Picasso reaffirmed his loyalty. In an interview with the art critic Carlton Lake in July 1957, he once again confirmed his belief in communism and his intention never to leave the party. In 1962 he was awarded the Lenin prize. In August 1968, speaking with friends, he deplored the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, but failed to do so publicly. At the end of that year, he refused once again to speak out against his long-held political beliefs.‘

Gertje R Utley. Ibid;. October 21, 2000 The Guardian; http://www.guardian.co.uk/saturday_review/story/0,3605,385610,00.html

He clearly believed the lies of the revisionist Khruschev, given out at this so-called “secret speech.” But he asked whether “And the workers, are they still masters of their factories, and the peasants, the owners of their land?”:

“After Khrushchev’s “secret speech” at the 20th congress of the Soviet Union’s Communist party, in February 1956, in which he reported on the crimes of Stalin’s tyranny, it became impossible for anybody to claim ignorance. Picasso apparently was appalled: “While they asked you to do ever more for the happiness of men… they hung this one and tortured that one. And those were innocents. Will this change? Picasso’s response to detrimental news from the Soviet Union was: “And the workers, are they still masters of their factories, and the peasants, the owners of their land? Well then, everything else is secondary – the only thing that matters is to save the revolution”.

Gertje R Utley. Ibid;. October 21, 2000 The Guardian; http://www.guardian.co.uk/saturday_review/story/0,3605,385610,00.html

His answer was the workers were still in charge. Of course he was tragically wrong. But then – he was an artist, albeit a flawed one, always twisting away from reality. In the end he was somewhat “straightened” by his late found political allegiance. But – he was still only an artist – and not a political theorist or leader of the working classes. What in an artist is excusable, is inexcusable in those who claim to be “leaders of the vanguard of the working class.” Therefore we will agree, if we are charged that we view Picasso with a benign eye. We would simply counter that this is the same “benign eye” that Marx turned on artists in general, saying of the poet Ferdinand Freiligarth for instance:

“Write Freiligarth a friendly letter. nor need you be over-careful of paying him compliments, for poets, even the best of them, are all plus au moins [more or less], courtisanes and il faut les cajoler, pour les faire chanter [one must cajole them to make them sing]…

A poet, whatever he may be as an homme (man), needs applause and ADMIRATION. This I believe, peculiar to the genre as such. you should not forget the difference between a “poet” and a “critic.'”

Marx to Joseph Weydemeyer, January 16, 1852. Volume 39: Collected Works; Moscow; 1983; p.8.

See also Marx and Engels on Art at: http://ml-review.ca/aml/SocialistArt/Final-ME_LASSALLE.htm

Equally, we cannot accept the line of John Berger, who writes:

“But as an artist with all his powers he was nevertheless wasted.”

Oddly, Berger writes this despite having already pointed out that Picasso had renewed himself by joining the party:

“As a result of Picasso’s joining the Communist Party and taking part in the peace movement, his fame spread even wider than before. His name was quoted in all the socialist countries. His poster of the peace dove was seen on millions of walls and expressed the hopes of all but a handful of the people of the world. The dove became a true symbol: not so much as a result of Picasso’s power as an artist (the drawing of the dove is evocative but superficial), but rather as a result of the power of the movement which Picasso was serving. It needed a symbol and it claimed Picasso’s drawing. That this happened is something of which Picasso can be rightly proud. He contributed positively to the most important struggle of our time. He made further posters and drawings. He lent his name and reputation again and again to encourage others to protest against the threat of nuclear war. He was in a position to use his art as a means of influencing people politically, and, in so far as he was able, he chose to do this consciously and intelligently. I cannot believe that he was in any way mistaken or that he chose the wrong political path.”

Berger, John.”The Success & Failure of Picasso”; New York; 1980; p.173-5.

Well, Picasso bloomed anew with the power of the peoples’ vision. How can Berger recognising this, then say that Picasso was wasted artistically? In the last period of his life, apart from the posters and the variations on the dove of peace he did, Picasso really only painted upon the ceramics made by others. In contrast to Berger, we might suggest that it was his political artistic work, that kept him “artistically alive.”

Conclusion

We argue that Picasso ultimately was on the side of the working classes. A “champagne socialist” he may have been – but he did not need to do what he did. As to the worth of his art – where he retained realist images and forms, he showed a power that people understood. But he was constantly reverting to decadent forms and images that placed at an immediate distance between the people and his art. At his best, he moved people.

And in that troubling work – “Guernica” – he undoubtedly has moved and affected generations who have seen it. Again, it is patently, not a piece of “socialist art,” but despite its obvious anti-realist forms, it conveys a very real, and realistic message: “Down With War!”

Bibliography

Used In this article
Berger, John.”The Success & Failure of Picasso”; New York; 1980;
Blunt, Antony. “Picasso’s Guernica”; Toronto; 1969.
Chilvers, I; H. Osborne, D. Farr. “Oxford Dictionary of Art”; Oxford; 1977;
Cork, Richard “A Bitter Truth — Avant Garde Art & The Great War; London 1994; Cullerne Bown, Matthew. “Socialist Realist Painting”; New Haven;1998;
Hauser, Arnold. “The Social history of Art” — Volume 4: ‘Naturalism, Impressionism, The Film Age'”; New York; nd;
Martin, Russell. “Picasso’s War. The Destruction of Guernica, and the Masterpiece that Changed the World”; 2002, New York.
Marx to Joseph Weydemeyer, January 16, 1852. Volume 39: Collected Works; Moscow; 1983.
Utley, Gertje R. “Picasso was one of the most valued members of the French Communist party – until a portrait of Stalin put him at the centre of an ideological row.” October 21, 2000 The Guardian; http://www.guardian.co.uk/saturday_review/story/0,3605,385610,00.html

Recommended:
Utley Gertje R “Picasso: The Communist Years”; Yale University Press, 2000.

Websites (NB: All web addresses were correct at time of writing).
“On Line Picasso Project” – a very comprehensive site on Picasso and his works. http://www.tamu.edu/mocl/picasso/tour/t60.html

Art and war – a wonderful site: http://www.arts.adelaide.edu.au/personal/DHart/ResponsesToWar/Art/StudyGuides/Picasso.html

Source

Grover Furr: New Light On Old Stories About Marshal Tukhachevskii: Some Documents Reconsidered


Grover Furr 
Montclair State University 

Originally published in RUSSIAN HISTORY/HISTOIRE RUSSE, 13, Nos 2-3 (Summer-Fall 1986), 293-308. 

The innocence of Marshal Tukhachevskii and the other military commanders condemned with him in 1937 has become firmly accepted by both Soviet and Western historians. [1] The current scholarly consensus also includes the view that “the nazi secret archives contain no sort of evidence of anything” like a plot between the Soviet military and Germany, that “not a jot of evidence has emerged from the German archives.” [2] The present article re-examines some of the material bearing upon the Tukhachevskii case which has come to light so far from the captured German Foreign Office files, and concludes that it suggests a plot of some kind involving Tukhachevskii and the German High Command may, in fact, have existed.

In 1974 a newly-discovered document from these files was examined by British historian Frederick L. Carsten. [3] It is a report concerning high-level rumors current in Munich in early 1937, which ended up in the Vienna Bureau of the Austrian Chancellor. Among other matters it deals with relations between the German and Soviet military commanders, about which it makes four points: 1) It claims that the top men in the German General Staff, including Generaloberst Freiherr Werner von Fritsch, Chief of Staff of the German Army (Chef der Heeresleitung), were at that time involved in trying to form an alliance with the Soviet military. 2) It claims that Marshal Tukhachevskii had been present at the German army’s autumn maneuvers in the past year (den vorjehrigan detuschen Herbstmanoevern). 3) At that time Tukhachevskii is said to have proposed a toast to the German Army “as the champion (Vorkempferin) against world Jewry.” and to Goering. 4) It claims that the German military was closely following the “power struggle presently taking place in Russia,” in hopes that Stalin would be overthrown in favor of a military dictatorship. [4]

Carsten denies the validity of the first three of these points on several grounds: 1) He claims that the last time any Russian officers attended German maneuvers was the autumn of 1933. 2) Though admitting that Tukhachevskii congratulated General Ernst Kestring, German military attache in Moscow, upon the German army’s successful occupation of the Rhineland in March 1936, Carsten avers that “this is a far cry from being a declared anti-semite and a sympathizer with the Nazi ideology. Even Karl Radek congratulated General Kestring on the same occasion in Moscow.” [5] 3) For Carsten, the existence of this document is explained by the story that Reinhardt Heydrich’s Sicherheitsdienst (SK, the intelligence division of the SS) was busy fabricating a dossier of forged materials to incriminate Tukhachevskii and decapitate the Soviet military. No doubt, then the SD would have been “spreading this kind of `news’ about Tukhachevskii, his sympathies with Nazism and his allegedly intimate relations with leading German officers.” [6]

The present article uses an analysis of this report from the Austrian Bundeskanzleramt (BKA) as a framework within which other documents, including those from the German Foreign Office files which bear on the Tukhachevskii case, are re-examined. It examines each of the assertions (one through four) in the document, and each of Professor Carsten’s objections (1 through 3).

General Ernst Kestring, former German military attache in Moscow, stated in memoires published in 1965 that “Autumn 1935 was the last instance of Russian officers participating (Teilnahme) in our maneuvers.” [7] Evidently Carsten has misinterpreted this passage, for Kestring says nothing to rule out Soviet attendance at, as opposed to participation in, German maneuvers in later years. In letters to Paris at the time General Renondeau, French military attach‚ to Berlin, reported that Soviet officers attended German army maneuvers in both 1936 and 1937. [8] Apparently either Komkor (corps commander) Orlov (according to Renondeau) or Komandarm (army commander) Uborevich (as Walter Gerlitz has it) were present at German maneuvers in autumn 1936. [9] Tukhachevskii, Uborevich, and Orlov were closely associated with the Soviet military cooperation with Germany under the Treaty of Rapallo. This association might account for the rumor, reported in the Austrian BKA document, that it was Tukhachevskii who had attended the 1936 German maneuvers (point one) — particularly since the marshal had visited Berlin at least once in 1936. [10] Thus the rumor is perhaps not very wide of the mark.

Carsten would have it (2) that it is hard to believe Tukhachevskii would have made such a pro-Nazi and anti- Semitic toast as the document recounts. In fact, the opposite is true: such a statement would have been entirely consistent with what was widely reputed to be Tukhachevskii’s attitude.

In 1928 a former French officer published a short biography of Tukhachevskii “Pierre Fervacque” — nom de plume of the French journalist Remy Roure — had been Tukhachevskii’s fellow prisoner-of-war in 1917 in the German officers’ camp at Ingolstadt, Bavaria. In his biographical sketch he set down the contents of several conversations he had had with the young Russian lieutenant during their captivity, among them the following:

— You are an anti-semite, then, I said to him. Why? — The Jews brought us Christianity. That’s reason enough to hate them. But then they are a low race. I don’t even speak of the dangers they create in my country. You cannot understand that, you French, for you equality is a dogma. The Jew is a dog, son of a dog, which spreads his fleas in every land. It is he who has done the most to inoculate us with the plague of civilization, and who would like to give us his morality also, the morality of money, of capital. — You are now a socialist, then? — A socialist? Not at all! What a need you have for classifying! Besides the great socialists are Jews and socialist doctrine is a branch of universal Christianity. … No, I detest socialists, Jews and Christians. [11]

Tukhachevskii never protested the contents of this well-known book. On the contrary, until shortly before his execution Tukhachevskii maintained friendly relations with Roure. He spoke with the French journalist at a banquet in Paris in 1936, and then three days later held another, private, conversation with him. Roure recalled in July 1937 that, in his book, he had portrayed the young Tukhachevskii as expressing horror and disgust for Western civilization and a juvenile love of “barbarism” in hair-raising tones (which, we note, could have come from the most radical Nazis). Twenty years later Tukhachevskii had mellowed, had become an admirer of French culture, but remained a “patriotic” pan-Slavic nationalist and imperialist who felt that, by serving Bolshevism, he had served his country. [12]

We have examined and rejected Carsten’s first two objections to the Austrian BKA report, and in so doing have determined that the second and third points made in that report accord well with facts attested elsewhere. We now turn to points four and one of the Austrian document. The fourth point is the claim that the German military was watching the “power struggle” (meaning the Moscow trials) in the USSR in hopes that a military dictatorship might replace Stalin. In December 1936 the Soviet government assigned David Kandelaki, head of the Soviet Trade Delegation to Germany, the task of “feeling out” the German government concerning the possibility of opening secret talks. By early 1937 Hitler had turned the USSR down, [13] as is illustrated in an interesting document, noted by Erickson, from the German Foreign Office files whose significance for the Tukhachevskii Affair has not yet been appreciated. This is a letter to Dr. Hjalmar Schacht (head of the Reichsbank and the person whom Kandelaki had approached concerning the Soviet Government’s desire for formal secret talks) from the German Foreign Minister, Baron Constantine von Neurath. [14] In this letter Neurath summarizes Hitler’s view, with which Neurath also declares his agreement. This is expressed as follows:

As concerning the eventual acceptance of talks with the Russian government, I am, in agreement with the Fehrer, of the view that they could not lead to any result at this time, would rather be made great use of by the Russians to achieve the goal they seek of a closer military alliance with France and, if possible, to achieve as well a further rapprochement with England. A declaration by the Russian government that it dissociates itself from Comintern agitation, after the experience with these declarations in England and France, would be of no practical use whatever and therefore be unsatisfactory.

Neurath adds an interesting qualification: “It would be another thing if matters in Russia should develop in the direction of an absolute despotism propped up by the military. In this event we should not let the opportunity pass us by to involve ourselves in Russia again.” The Neurath-Schacht letter is dated 11 February, 1937, while the cover letter to the Austrian BKA document, on BKA stationery, is dated four days later, and the report itself deals with the previous month. Thus the letter proves that the rumor set down in the report does, in fact, reflect the real views of the Nazi hierarchy at precisely the time it claims: in other words, the Neurath-Schacht letter strikingly verifies point four of the Austrian BKA report.

In early 1937 there were two leading military figures in the soviet Union: Tukhachevskii and the Commissar for Defense, Marshal Kliment Voroshilov. It was well known that tensions within the top leadership of the Soviet military were profound. [15] Too much should not be made of an argument e silentio. But later in the same letter Neurath may be tacitly letting Schacht know which one of the two Soviet military leaders he means: “In this connection I should also note, for your personal information, that, according to reliable information reaching us concerning the events in Russia, there is nothing to any slit between Stalin and Voroshilov. So far as can be determined, this rumor, which is being spread by our press as well, originated in interested circles in Warsaw.” Perhaps this passage suggests that, with Voroshilov still a staunch Stalinist, German would only be interested in talks with Russia in the event of a military dictatorship under Tukhachevskii

There remains the first point in the Austrian BKA report, the supposed attempt by the German General Staff to form an alliance with the Soviet Army. To begin with, we note that Neurath was very close to Fritsch and to General Blomberg, worked with them behind Hitler’s back on several occasions, and was replaced as foreign minister by Ribbentrop on 4 February, 1938, the same day that Fritsch and Blomberg resigned and dozens of other generals and officials were dismissed to be replaced by officers more compliant with Hitler’s desire for war. [16] If Fritsch were in secret touch with Tukhachevskii, Neurath might well have been informed. But there is other evidence of a Tukhachevskii-Fritsch connection.

In his famous book I Paid Hitler, Fritz Thyssen, the former German steel magnate, one of the immensely influential “Schlotbarone,” the Ruhr heavy industry magnates, and an early member of the Nazi party explicitly associated Tukhachevskii with Fritsch: “Fritsch always advocated an alliance with Russia, though not with a Communist Russia. Attempts were made to establish relations between Fritsch and the Russian generalissimo, Tukhachevskii The two had one point in common: each desired to overthrow the dictator in his own country.” [17]

Thyssen was certainly in a position to know of the kind of secret liaisons he alleges here, and may have been in on it too, since by 1936 or 1937 he himself was deeply disillusioned with Hitler. Professor Erickson, who cites this passage but would clearly like to dismiss it, confidently states in the text of his book that “not a single item of evidence has emerged to justify the charge of treasonable contact with the Germans.” However, in a footnote on the same page he refers to the `Thyssen passage quoted above, and adds the following remark: “It is difficult to know where the support for this statement comes from, although there was a contemporary Polish newspaper report that a letter or note from Fritsch had been seized from Tukhachevskii.” [18]

There is yet more evidence from the German Foreign Office files hinting at a link between Tukhachevskii and the German General Staff. This is the set of documents referred to on page 435 of Erickson’s study, The Soviet High Command. These documents record the loan, between February and November, 1937, of military court papers concerning Tukhachevskii when he was a prisoner-of-war in Germany during World War I (the court papers themselves are not extant). A study of the four loan request documents reveals that the Tukhachevskii files were requested from the Potsdam branch of the Heeresarchiv (army archives) by the Wehrmachtamt, Aus. (Ausland) VI, the section which dealt with foreigners. Wehrmachtamt requested it on behalf of the “GZ.” This is the abbreviation for Generalstab-Zentralstellung, the main headquarters of the German General Staff. [19] GZ was of course in Berlin, and was headed by General von Fritsch.

It is noteworthy that someone in Fritsch’s Berlin HQ was apparently showing some considerable interest in Tukhachevskii at precisely the same time that: 1) the report to the Austrian BKA told of Fritsch’s interest in an alliance with the Soviet military — a report backed up by Thyssen’s testimony; and 2) both that report and Neurath speak of an interest in a military coup in the USSR.

Our examination of the Austrian BKA report shows that, as regards German-Soviet military relations, it is highly consistent with other evidence available. Points one, three, and four are fully consistent with this other evidence, while point two may simply be due to a confusion (or may even be correct as well). We have also disposed of the first two of Professor Carsten’s objections to it. However, there remains his third point: that the documents might have been related to the well-known SD plot to forge a dossier incriminating Tukhachevskii as a traitor. The whole matter of this alleged forgery is very complex, and cannot be unraveled in this article. In addition, it is in principle impossible to prove a negative — in this case, that no German forgery attempt was made. One can merely examine the evidence cited to support the existence of such a forgery attempt and see how it holds up. This said, several considerations are relevant to the matter at hand.

First, the crucial sources for the “SD-NKVD forgery” story are untrustworthy. In his introduction to the English edition of Walter Schellenberg’s memoires, Alan Bullock concludes: “nor would it be wise to accept Schellenberg as a trustworthy witness where his evidence cannot be corroborated.” Erickson also points out several important passages of Schellenberg’s which he recognizes cannot be true. [20] The account by Alfried Naujocks, the SS man who claimed to have been personally responsible for organizing the forgery and who is usually taken at his word, is even more patently false. [21]

Second, according to all the accounts of the forgery plot, Hitler and Himmler were both a party to it. But nothing of the kind could be inferred from their later references to the military purges. For example, Himmler is reported to have discussed the Tukhachevskii Affair in a conversation with the renegade Soviet General A. A. Vlasov on 16 September 1944 in a manner which makes it clear he believed Tukhachevskii had been guilty of some plotting: “Himmler asked Vlasov about the Tukhachevskii Affair. Why this had gone awry. Vlasov gave a frank answer: ‘Tukhachevskii made the same mistake that your people made on 20 July [21a]. He did not know the law of masses.'” [22] In an important speech in Posen on 4 October 1943 Himmler stated:

When — I believe it was in 1937 or 1938 — the great show trials took place in Moscow, and the former czarist military cadet, later Bolshevik general, Tukhachevskii, and other generals were executed, all of us in Europe, including us in the [Nazi] Party and in the SS, were of the opinion that here the Bolshevik system and Stalin had committed one of their greatest mistakes. In making this judgment of the situation we greatly deceived ourselves. We can truthfully and confidently state that. I believe that Russia would never have lasted through these two years of war — and she is now in the third year of war — if she had retained the former czarist generals. [23]

This probably reflected Hitler’s assessment as well, for, according to Goebbels (diary entry of 8 May 1943): “The conference of the Reichsleiters and Gauleiters followed…. The Fehrer recalled the case of Tukhachevskii and expressed the opinion that we were entirely wrong then in believing that Stalin would ruin the Red Army by the way he handled it. The opposite was true: Stalin got rid of all opposition in the Red Army and thereby brought an end to defeatism.” [24]

Finally, the German forgery — if indeed there was one — does not exclude the existence of a real military plot. In fact, all of the SD sources for the forgery story leave open the possibility that the marshal was in fact plotting with the German General Staff. [25]

Thus the story of the “SD-NKVD forgery” is very problematic. Based purely on hearsay, it abounds in contradictions and outright lies. If it were nonetheless consistent with the other evidence concerning the Tukhachevskii Affair, it might merit consideration despite it all. but the opposite is true.

The only pre-war account of any plot to frame Tukhachevskii is that of Walter Krivitsky, which concludes that the NKVD possessed its own evidence against Tukhachevskii quite independent of any forged dossier. [26] This coincides with the opinion of Heinz Hehne, the most recent student of the forgery plot from the German and SD side. [27]

Important testimony asserting the existence of a real conspiracy including Tukhachevskii and other military leaders comes from Nikolai N. Likhachyov, better known as Andrei V. Svetlanin. A lecturer in Russian at Cambridge, then journalist and finally editor (1955-65) of the emigre Russian journal Posev, Svetlanin claimed second-hand knowledge of the conspiracy as a member, during the mid-1930s, of the staff of the Far Eastern Army (later the Red Banner Far Eastern Front) commanded by Marshal Bliukher.

In this account, the military and party leaders executed during 1937 as part of the “Tukhachevskii Affair” were in fact part of a wider conspiracy the central figure in which was Yan Gamarnik. [28] Chief of the Political Directorate in the Army, Gamarnik had probably begun the plot, together with Tukhachevskii, as early as 1932. By the time of the Seventeenth Party Congress in 1934, it was well developed. The plotters, motivated by the disastrous consequences of collectivization, were said to have considered two distinct plans. Plan “A,”, originating with Tukhachevskii and the young commanders around him, centered on a coup in the Kremlin, to be supported by party and military leaders in some of the provinces. Plan “B,”, envisaging independent revolts in different border areas of the USSR, originated with Gamarnik and the state and party officials in the plot, and was the version finally approved by the conspiratorial center. The Far Eastern Region was to have been the site of the initial revolt.

Svetlanin never claims to have been a part of the conspiracy himself which, he insists, was limited to men of the highest rank. Apparently no one of his acquaintance in the Far Eastern Army believed the Tukhachevskii Affair to have been a frame-up against innocent men. His story can be partially checked from independent sources, the main one of which is the account by Genrikh S. Liushkov given to the Japanese interrogators after his defection to them in June, 1938 (Liushkov, head of the Far Eastern NKVD, had been sent there to help the 1938 purge). Liushkov disclosed to the Japanese the existence of an plot in the Far East, and his account of the plot confirms Svetlanin’s in several minor respects. [29]

Curiously, none of the post-1956 Soviet accounts have revealed any information other than that which was already available in the West, and draw principally upon the SD accounts of the forged dossier. Even the Western sources used by Nikulin, the “official” Khrushchev-era biographer of Tukhachevskii, are carefully pruned of evidence they contain that suggests some real conspiracy in fact occurred. there is, strictly speaking, so Soviet post-Stalin historical account of the Tukhachevskii Affair at all, since Nikulin’s work, upon which all others rely, is filled out with dramatic dialog and frankly termed fictionalized (povestvovanie). [30]

Taken single, none of these bits of evidence is very significant in itself. But when considered as a whole, they constitute at lest a prima facie case that some real military conspiracy involving Tukhachevskii may have actually existed. Nor is it difficult to understand why Khrushchev might have wanted to rehabilitate real conspirators. Khrushchev used the rehabilitations of the Tukhachevskii group as a stick with which to beat Stalin and, more importantly, remaining “Stalinists” in high places — that is, in order to hold power and support certain policy decisions. The Soviet military elite regards Marshal Tukhachevskii and those associated with him as the fathers of the contemporary Soviet armed forces. [31] To accuse Stalin of having wrongly killed them was at once to make of the military a firm ally and to blacken any policies associated with Stalin’s name.

In conclusion, each of the points concerning Tukhachevskii mentioned in the Austrian BKA document is consistent with other, independent evidence. The “SD forgery plot” story, and the Khrushchev-era versions of the Tukhachevskii Affair, have been accorded a degree of scholarly acceptance that is not justified by the contradictions and inconsistencies which abound in them. Any new study should examine them far more skeptically than has hitherto been the case. The present scholarly consensus notwithstanding, there is little about the Tukhachevskii Affair, including the very basic matter of Tukhachevskii’s guilt or innocence, about which we can be certain.

Montclair State University

APPENDIX

–N.A. Series T-120, Roll No. 1448, page D 567 777.

Now as always there are efforts under way within the Wehrmacht which aim at the possibility of an alliance with the Russian army. The argument is simple: the Russian army cannot be taken care of by force; therefore it should happen in friendship. Fritsch, Admiral Raeder, and even General von Reichenau are rumored to be proponents of this plan. Blomberg is seen as a mere accessory (Figurant). But the proponents of these efforts are found chiefly among the younger school of the General Staff. When he was in Berlin on the occasion of last year’s German autumn maneuvers, Marshal Tukhachevskii offered, in return for Colonel-General Fritsch’s toast to the Russian army in Werzberg, a toast to the German army as the champion against world Jewry, and to General Gering. The power struggle presently taking place in Russia, which might possibly end with Stalin’s fall and the establishment of a military dictatorship, is being followed by the Wehrmacht with closest attention, and with unconcealed sympathy for a solution of that kind.

***********************************************************

* I would like to thank Professor J. Arch Getty, of the University of California at Riverside, and Professor S.G. Wheatcroft, of the University of Melbourne, who read and commented upon earlier versions of this article. Naturally they are not responsible for any shortcomings it still contains.

REFERENCES

1. Khrushchev’s “secret speech” to the Twentieth congress of the CPSU (February, 1956) attacked Stalin for his “annihilation of many military commanders” after 1937, but did not mention any of the executed officers. Marshal Tukhachevskii was first “rehabilitated” in 1958. See Robert Conquest, “De-Stalinization and the Heritage of Terror,”, in Alexander Dallin and Alan F. Weston, et al., eds. Politics in the Soviet Union: 7 Cases (New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1966), pp. 57-58. Virtually all Western scholars today accept Khrushchev’s story; e.g. Robert Conquest, The Great Terror: Stalin’s Purge of the Thirties, rev. ed. (New York: Collier Books, 1973), pp. 300-02.

2. Conquest, Great Terror, p. 285; Leonard Shapiro, “The Great Purge,”, chapter 6 of Basil Henry Liddle-Hart, ed., The Red Army (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1956), p. 70. Professor John Erickson, in his authoritative work The Soviet High Command (London: Macmillan; New York: St Martin’s Press, 1962, p. 464 and note), states that “not a single item of evidence has emerged to justify the charge of treasonable contact with the Germans,” and “no post-war evidence has come to light to disprove this.”

3. Frederick Ludwig Carsten, “New `Evidence’ against Marshal Tukhachevskii,” Slavonic and East European Review, 52 (1974), 272-73. The document itself is in N(ational) A(rchives) microfilm series T-1220, Roll no: 1448, pages D 567 772 – D 567 778; page D 567 771 is the cover letter.

4. page D 567 777; see the Appendix for a translation of this part of the document.

5. According to K; see Herman Teske, ed., Profile bedeutender Soldaten. Band I. General Ernst Kestring Der militerischer Mittler zwischen dem Deutschen Reich und der Sowjetunion. 1921-1941. (Frankfurt/M.: Mittler, 1965), pp. 125-26.

6. Carsten, “New ‘Evidence’,” p. 273.

7. Ibid., citing Teske, Profile bedeutender Soldaten, p. 69. These words were written by Kestring for this volume, more than thirty years after the fact.

8. Georges Castellan, “Reichswehr et Armee Rouge, 1920-1939,” in J.-B. Duroselle, ed., Les relations germano-sovietiques de 1933 – 1939 (Paris: Colin, 1954), pp. 218-19 and n. 97, p. 218.

9. Ibid., nn. 97 and 98, citing Gen. Renondeau’s letter to Paris of 5 October and 28 September, 1937. For Uborevich, see Walter Gerlitz, History of the German General Staff, 1657-1945 (New York: Praeger 1962), p. 307 (German edition 1953). The whole affair is omitted, however, from Gerlitz’ Kleine Geschichte des Deutschen Generalstabes (Berlin: Haude & Spener, 1967). Since the Austrian BKA report was compiled in December 1936-January 1937, it is impossible to be certain whether it refers to maneuvers in autumn 1935 or in autumn 1936.

10. On the question of this visit (or visits) see Castellan, “Reichswehr et Armee Rouge,” pp. 217-18; 224; also Pierre Dominique, “L’affaire Toukhatchevski et l’opinion francaise,” L’Europe nouvelle, 19 June 1937, p 590; Ian Colvin, Chief of Intelligence (London: Gollancz, 1951), pp. 39-40; Erickson, Soviet High Command, pp. 411-13, and 729, n. 27. Disagreement exists about what Tukhachevskii did during this visit or visits but it is sufficient for our purposes to note that all agree he did visit Berlin in 1936.

11. Pierre Fervacque, Le Chef de Larmee Rouge: Mikhail Toukatchevski (Paris: Fasquelle, 1928), pp. 24- 45. Remy Roure was one of the most prominent journalists and newspapermen in France in his day, a founder of Le Monde and its political editor from 1945 to 1952, when he left it for the conservative Le Figaro. See the necrology by Louis Marin-Chauffier, “L’Honneur de Notre Profession,” Le Figaro, 9 Nov. 1966, pp. 1, 32; also, “La Carriere de Remy Roure,” ibid, p. 32.

12. Pierre Fervacque, “Le Julien Sorel de bolchevisme,” Le Temps (Paris), 24 July 1937, p. 3. Julien Sorel, the protagonist of Stendhal’s novel Le rouge et le noir, assumes holy orders out of cold-blooded careerism; Fervacque implies this was also Tukhachevskii’s motive for adhering to Bolshevism.

13. Erickson, Soviet High Command, pp. 432 and 453.

14. N(ational) A(rchives) Series T-120 Roll No. 1057, pp. 429-296-7.

15. For tensions within the Soviet military leadership, see John Erickson, The Road to Stalingrad: Stalin’s War with Germany. Vol. I (New York: Harper & Row, 1975), p. 3; and idem, Soviet High Command, passim.

16. There is no evidence that these dismissals (the famous “Fritsch Affair”) had anything to do with Tukhachevskii. What linked Neurath with Fritsch and Blomberg was opposition to Hitler’s plan to move swiftly against Austria and Czechoslovakia. See Harold C. Deutsch, Hitler and His Generals: The Hidden Crisis, January-June, 1938 (Minneapolis: Univ. of Minnesota Press, 1974), pp. 64, 70- 71, 258-66.

17. Fritz Thyssen, I Paid Hitler (New York: Cooperative Pub., 1941), p. 163. According to Henry Ashby Turner, Jr., “Fritz Thyssen und das Buch ‘I Paid Hitler’,”, in Turner, Faschismus und Kapitalismus in Deutschland (Gettingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1973), p. 95, n. 20, the Tukhachevskii-Fritsch passages occurs in one of the few chapters in German in the original manuscript of the book and so probably reflects Thyssen’s personal work (Emery Reeves, Thyssen’s ghost-writer, conducted his interviews with Thyssen in French).

18. Erickson, Soviet High Command, p 464. According to Professor Alvin T. Coox, the Japanese considered Polish intelligence to be “the best anti-Soviet service in the world at the time.” See his “L’Affaire Lyushkov: Anatomy of a Soviet Defector,” Soviet Studies, 20 (Jan. 1968), 406.

19. N.A. Series T-78, Roll No. 10.

20. Alan Bullock, “Introduction,” in The Labyrinth: Memoires of Walter Schellenberg (New York: Harper, 1956), p. xix; Erickson, Soviet High Command, pp. 731, n. 84 and 735, nn. 25 and 27.

21. Naujocks’ story is in Gunter Peis, The Man Who Started the War (London: Oldham Press, n.d. [1960]), pp. 76-103. The names of the printing establishments Naujocks claimed to have visited in trying to find a forger do not occur in the very complete lists in the Berliner Adressbuch of 1932, 1936 or 1938. Erickson rejects Schellenberg’s account of the forgery because “it certainly took longer that four days to prepare the dossier” (Soviet High Command, p. 735, n. 25); what then can be said of the later Naujocks account, which states that the forgery took place in one night? Finally, Naujocks’ account of the Polish border incident (the “Gleiwitz transmitter” affair) set up by Hitler as a cause de guerre., has been proven heavily falsified; see Jergen Runzheimer, “Der eberfall auf den Sender Gleiwitz im Jahre 1939,” Vierteljahreshefte fer Zeitgeschichte, 10 (1962), 408-26.

21a. This is a reference to the assassination attempt on Hitler of 20 July 1944.

22. Archiv des Instituts fer Zeitgeschichte (Munich), Signatur ZS 2, Bd I., page 55. This document contains the notes of conversations between Gunter d’Alquen, an SS officer present at the Himmler-Vlasov interview, and a co- worker of Jergen Thorwald, the German author. The ambiguous (perhaps deliberately so) phrase “das Gesetz der Masse” could refer either to the law of inertia or to the behavior of the masses. In either case it means about the same thing. Thorwald cited the phrase in Wen Sie Verderben Wollen (Stuttgart: Steingreben-Verlag, 1952), p. 394.

23. Trial of the Major War Criminals before the International Military Tribunal {Nuremberg, 1949], Vol. 29, p. 111 (Document 1919-PS).

24. Joseph Goebbels, The Goebbels Diaries: 1942-1943, ed. & tr. Louis P. Lochner (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1948), p. 355.

25. Peis, Man Who Started the War, p. 79; Walter Schellenberg: Memoiren (Keln: Politik und Wirtschaft, 1959), pp. 48-49; Walter Hagen [pseudonym of Wilhelm Hettl], Die Geheime Front: Organization Personen und Aktionen des Deutschen Geheimdienstes (Linz und Wien: Nibelungen-Verlag, 1956), p. 63. A close study of these accounts reveals, however, that they are mutually contradictory more often than not and that, in general, they cannot be trusted.

26. Walter G. Krivitsky, I Was Stalin’s Agent (London: Right Book Club, 1940), pp. 257-58. But Krivitsky’s book is harshly condemned as untrustworthy by his friend of many years and wife of his assassinated friend Ignace Reiss; see Elizabeth Poretsky, in Our Own People: A Memoire of ‘Ignace Reiss’ and His Friends (Ann Arbor, Mich.: Univ. of Michigan Press, 1970), pp. 71; 75, n.2; 124; 146; 204, n. 1; 211, n.1; 269-70. See also Castellan, “Reichswehr et Armee Rouge,” pp. 233, 2234 & nn.; 257, n. 194, for criticisms of Krivitsky.

27. Heinz Hehne, The Order of the Death’s Head: The Story of Hitler’s SS, tr. Richard Barry (New York: Coward-McCann, 1970), p. 233; similarly, idem, Canaris, tr. J. Maxwell Brownjohn (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1979, p. 248. Hehne interviewed other German sources and also studied the SD survivors’ accounts; while accepting their story of the forgery plot, he believes it was not the cause of the arrests of Tukhachevskii and the others.

28. A. Svetlanin, Dal’nevostochnyi zagovor (Frankfurt/M.: Possev-Verlag, 1953). Details about Likhachyov/Svetlanin’s life are given in the necrology by N. Tarasova, Grani, No. 61 (1966), pp. 82-97. A very intelligent discussion, from an emigree viewpoint, of Svetlanin’s account of the conspiracy took place in the pages of the journal Posev in 1949-50; for a complete list of the articles, see ibid, No. 32 (1950), p. 10, n. I am indebted to the late Professor Nikolai Andreyev, of Cambridge, England, for additional information about his colleague and personal friend, Mr Likhachyov, alias Svetlanin.

29. See the article by Coox cited in n. 18 above. The post-war Soviet defector Grigory Tokaev also claimed first-hand knowledge of high-level military opposition to the Stalin government which survived even the military purges; he knows nothing of any Tukhachevskii involvement, however. See his Betrayal of an Ideal (London: Harville Press, 1954), and Comrade X (London: Harville Press, 1956). A Soviet dissident account of the Khar’kov trial, in November, 12969, of the engineer Genrikh Altunian (Khronika tekushchikh sobytii, No. 1, pp. 312-13), states the following: “IRKHA, witness for the prosecution and party organizer of the military academy at which ALTUNIAN taught, stated at the court that it was still not certain whether Komandarm I. Iakir’s rehabilitation was correct (`eshche neizvestno, pravil’no li reabilitirovan komandarm I. IAKIR’).” Robert Conquest also cites this quotation, though without identifying his source, in the introduction to Pyotr Yakir, A Childhood in Prison (New York: Coward, McCann & Geoghegan, 12973), p. 17.

Altunian was involved in dissident activities with Pyotr Iakir, son of the general condemned with Tukhachevskii. According to Victor Krasin, Iakir and he were tried in 1973 for collaborating with “the old Russian emigre organization, the National Labor Union (N.T.S.).” (Victor Krasin, “How I Was Broken by the K.G.B., The New York Times Magazine, 19 March 1984, pp. 71, 75). Founded in the 1930s as a fascist-type organization the N.T.S. collaborated closely with the Germans during their invasion of the USSR. George Fischer, ed., Russian emigre Politics (New York: Free Russia Fund, 1951), p. 72. Iakir had thus been working with a fascist group whose “ultimate goal” is “the armed overthrow of the Soviet regime” (Krasin, p. 71). Almost precisely these activities constituted the most dramatic charges against Iakir’s own father, condemned with Tukhachevskii — charges which Iakir believed were false. In a further irony, it was the N.T.S. publishing house, “Possev-Verlag,” that published Svetlanin/Likhachev’s 1952 book in which the author claimed direct knowledge of a plot against the Soviet government by Iakir, Tukhachevskii, and the others (Svetlanin/Likhachyov went on to edit Posev, the N.T.S’s main journal, from 1955 until his death in 1965).

30. Lev Nikulin, Tuchachevskii: Biograficheskii ocherk (Moscow: Voenizdat, 1964), pp. 192-93. uses the account of the forgery plot and President Benes’ involvement taken from Colvin and Churchill, but omits all their evidence for the marshal’s guilt. The Soviet reader would never suspect that Colvin, Benes, Churchill, and the SD agents all believed there really had been a Tukhachevskii conspiracy (Nikulin also leaves out Colvin’s name, making the source harder to identify). Cf. Colvin, Chief of Intelligence, pp. 39-40, and 42; Winston Churchill, The Gathering Storm (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1948), pp. 288-89; Memoires of Dr. Edward Benes: From Munich to New War and New Victory (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1949), pp. 19-20, 47.

31. For examples, see Col M.P. Skirdo, The People, the Army, the Commander (Washington, DC, n.d.; orig. ed. Moscow: Voenizdat, 1970), p. 141; V. Savost’ianov and N. Egorov, Komandarm pervogo ranga (I.N. Uborevich) (Moscow: Voenizdat, 1966), pp. 212-13; Soviet Life (June, 1981).

Source

The Berlin Wall: Another Cold War Myth

 

November 9 will mark the 25th anniversary of the tearing down of the Berlin Wall. The extravagant hoopla began months ago in Berlin. In the United States we can expect all the Cold War clichés about The Free World vs. Communist Tyranny to be trotted out and the simple tale of how the wall came to be will be repeated: In 1961, the East Berlin communists built a wall to keep their oppressed citizens from escaping to West Berlin and freedom. Why? Because commies don’t like people to be free, to learn the “truth”. What other reason could there have been?

First of all, before the wall went up in 1961 thousands of East Germans had been commuting to the West for jobs each day and then returning to the East in the evening; many others went back and forth for shopping or other reasons. So they were clearly not being held in the East against their will. Why then was the wall built? There were two major reasons:

1) The West was bedeviling the East with a vigorous campaign of recruiting East German professionals and skilled workers, who had been educated at the expense of the Communist government. This eventually led to a serious labor and production crisis in the East. As one indication of this, the New York Times reported in 1963: “West Berlin suffered economically from the wall by the loss of about 60,000 skilled workmen who had commuted daily from their homes in East Berlin to their places of work in West Berlin.”

It should be noted that in 1999, USA Today reported: “When the Berlin Wall crumbled [1989], East Germans imagined a life of freedom where consumer goods were abundant and hardships would fade. Ten years later, a remarkable 51% say they were happier with communism.”   Earlier polls would likely have shown even more than 51% expressing such a sentiment, for in the ten years many of those who remembered life in East Germany with some fondness had passed away; although even 10 years later, in 2009, the Washington Post could report: “Westerners [in Berlin] say they are fed up with the tendency of their eastern counterparts to wax nostalgic about communist times.”

It was in the post-unification period that a new Russian and eastern Europe proverb was born: “Everything the Communists said about Communism was a lie, but everything they said about capitalism turned out to be the truth.”

It should be further noted that the division of Germany into two states in 1949 – setting the stage for 40 years of Cold War hostility – was an American decision, not a Soviet one.

2) During the 1950s, American cold-warriors in West Germany instituted a crude campaign of sabotage and subversion against East Germany designed to throw that country’s economic and administrative machinery out of gear. The CIA and other US intelligence and military services recruited, equipped, trained and financed German activist groups and individuals, of West and East, to carry out actions which ran the spectrum from juvenile delinquency to terrorism; anything to make life difficult for the East German people and weaken their support of the government; anything to make the commies look bad.

It was a remarkable undertaking. The United States and its agents used explosives, arson, short circuiting, and other methods to damage power stations, shipyards, canals, docks, public buildings, gas stations, public transportation, bridges, etc; they derailed freight trains, seriously injuring workers; burned 12 cars of a freight train and destroyed air pressure hoses of others; used acids to damage vital factory machinery; put sand in the turbine of a factory, bringing it to a standstill; set fire to a tile-producing factory; promoted work slow-downs in factories; killed 7,000 cows of a co-operative dairy through poisoning; added soap to powdered milk destined for East German schools; were in possession, when arrested, of a large quantity of the poison cantharidin with which it was planned to produce poisoned cigarettes to kill leading East Germans; set off stink bombs to disrupt political meetings; attempted to disrupt the World Youth Festival in East Berlin by sending out forged invitations, false promises of free bed and board, false notices of cancellations, etc.; carried out attacks on participants with explosives, firebombs, and tire-puncturing equipment; forged and distributed large quantities of food ration cards to cause confusion, shortages and resentment; sent out forged tax notices and other government directives and documents to foster disorganization and inefficiency within industry and unions … all this and much more.

The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, of Washington, DC, conservative coldwarriors, in one of their Cold War International History Project Working Papers (#58, p.9) states: “The open border in Berlin exposed the GDR [East Germany] to massive espionage and subversion and, as the two documents in the appendices show, its closure gave the Communist state greater security.”

Throughout the 1950s, the East Germans and the Soviet Union repeatedly lodged complaints with the Soviets’ erstwhile allies in the West and with the United Nations about specific sabotage and espionage activities and called for the closure of the offices in West Germany they claimed were responsible, and for which they provided names and addresses. Their complaints fell on deaf ears. Inevitably, the East Germans began to tighten up entry into the country from the West, leading eventually to the infamous wall. However, even after the wall was built there was regular, albeit limited, legal emigration from east to west. In 1984, for example, East Germany allowed 40,000 people to leave. In 1985, East German newspapers claimed that more than 20,000 former citizens who had settled in the West wanted to return home after becoming disillusioned with the capitalist system. The West German government said that 14,300 East Germans had gone back over the previous 10 years.

Let’s also not forget that while East Germany completely denazified, in West Germany for more than a decade after the war, the highest government positions in the executive, legislative, and judicial branches contained numerous former and “former” Nazis.

Finally, it must be remembered, that Eastern Europe became communist because Hitler, with the approval of the West, used it as a highway to reach the Soviet Union to wipe out Bolshevism forever, and that the Russians in World War I and II, lost about 40 million people because the West had used this highway to invade Russia. It should not be surprising that after World War II the Soviet Union was determined to close down the highway.

For an additional and very interesting view of the Berlin Wall anniversary, see the article “Humpty Dumpty and the Fall of Berlin’s Wall” by Victor Grossman. Grossman (née Steve Wechsler) fled the US Army in Germany under pressure from McCarthy-era threats and became a journalist and author during his years in the (East) German Democratic Republic. He still lives in Berlin and mails out his “Berlin Bulletin” on German developments on an irregular basis. You can subscribe to it at wechsler_grossman@yahoo.de. His autobiography: “Crossing the River: a Memoir of the American Left, the Cold War and Life in East Germany” was published by University of Massachusetts Press. He claims to be the only person in the world with diplomas from both Harvard University and Karl Marx University in Leipzig.

William Blum is the author of Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War IIRogue State: a guide to the World’s Only Super Power . His latest book is: America’s Deadliest Export: Democracy. He can be reached at: BBlum6@aol.com

Source

The Party of Labour of Iran (Toufan) boycotts the farce presidential elections in Iran

The twelfth Presidential election in Iran is going to be held on May 19, 2017. This is a farce election. Neither women, half of the Iran’s population, nor the religious minorities, no need to mention the communists and the opposition forces, have the right to presidential candidacy,

The preconditions for fair and free elections do not exist under the rule of the Islamic Republic. There is no freedom of organization or assembly, trade unionists and worker-activists are imprisoned, the execution and repression of the opponents are continued, bribery and astronomical embezzlement by the high ranking authorities are exposed, and unleashed economic neo-liberalism is suffocating the masses. This is not an election; it is the appointment of a mafia bandit by the Supreme Leader to preserve and continue the rule of the Islamic Republic to gain domestic and international legitimacy.

To participate in the elections in Iran and to vote for one of the crooks and hypocrites of the regime is an insult to the dignity and respect for a human being and to give legitimacy to the Islamic Republic’s killing machine. The people of Iran, the workers, women, labourers, and masses of Iran have no choice except to boycott the farce elections in Iran.

Soviet Democracy and Bourgeois Democracy

This pamphlet is a translation of an essay published in the symposium Soviet Socialist Society prepared by the Institute of Philosophy of the Academy of Sciences of the U.S.S.R. and published by the Gospolitizdat, Moscow 1949.

The question of democracy, of how it is to be correctly understood, of the fundamental distinction between Soviet socialist democracy and bourgeois democracy is a highly important question of our time.

Since the Great October Socialist Revolution there have been revealed to the full the great advantages possessed by Soviet socialist democracy, and the decay, crisis and utter decline of bourgeois democracy.

The Great Patriotic War of the Soviet Union against Hitler Germany showed the invincible strength of the Soviet social and state system. The war showed that “…the Soviet social system is a better form of organization of society than any non-Soviet social system.”[*] The war showed that the Soviet system of state is the best state system ever known to history.

The Soviet State, Soviet socialist democracy emerged from the war stronger than ever. And now, after the close of the war, Soviet democracy is blossoming forth anew, is achieving new successes.

In a number of European countries – Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Albania, Rumania, and Hungary – the system of People’s Democracy has been established. The peoples of these countries displayed self-sacrifice and heroism in the struggle against the fascist oppressors. Having, with the aid of the Soviet Army, secured their liberation from the Nazi yoke, they set about building a democratic order in their countries, but in a new fashion, in a way that rejected the old models of bourgeois-parliamentary democracy. The democracy that arose in these countries assumed new forms, of a higher type than those of the old bourgeois-parliamentary democracy. In these countries democracy is being extended and developed on a scale that indicates that the workers and peasants are really being involved in the administration of the State and that is making the blessings of democracy actually available to the wide masses of the people. New forms of organization of the State have thus arisen which constitute a big advance on the bourgeois democratic states and are opening up the possibility for further progress by these countries on the road to Socialism.

The war also revealed tremendous defects in the old bourgeois-parliamentary forms of democracy. The course of historical development had proved irrefutably that the bourgeois-democratic states, as a result of their flirting with fascism, and their concessions to fascism during the period that preceded the second world war, were in fact – at the beginning of the war – helpless to meet the danger that threatened all the achievements of civilization and democracy, and the free national existence of these countries. The war showed that it was only thanks to the Soviet Union and to the decisive part it played in routing the Nazi aggressors that European civilization was saved from destruction.

* * *

The basic feature of bourgeois democracy, as has been repeatedly noted in the works of the classics of Marxism-Leninism is the fact that it is democracy for the exploiting minority and is directed against the majority. Speaking of bourgeois democracy, Lenin and Stalin pointed out that it undoubtedly constituted progress as compared with feudalism and mediaevalism. The working class has used and endeavours to use the framework of bourgeois democracy so as to develop the class struggle, to set up and consolidate its class organizations. But while Lenin and Stalin pointed to this significance of bourgeois democracy for the working class, they also constantly indicated that bourgeois democracy, based as it is on the dominance of private ownership of the means of production, is formal, false and truncated democracy. “Bourgeois democracy,” wrote Lenin, “although a great historical advance in comparison with mediaevalism, always remains – and under capitalism cannot but remain – restricted, truncated, false and hypocritical, a paradise for the rich and a snare and a delusion for the exploited, for the poor.”[†]

Those who uphold bourgeois democracy use fine phrases about “equality,” “liberty” and “fraternity” in an endeavour to hide the actual domination of the exploiters over the exploited, which is based on the private ownership of the means of production.

Lenin pointed out that general phrases about liberty, equality, democracy are in fact nothing more than the blind repetition of concepts copied from the relations of commodity production. “From the point of view of the proletariat,” wrote Lenin, “the question can be put only in the following way: freedom from being oppressed by which class? equality between which classes? democracy based on private property, or on the struggle for the abolition of private property? – and so forth.”[‡]

Employing all the rigour of Marxist analysis, Lenin and Stalin unmasked bourgeois democracy and placed the issue on the only correct and scientific basis.

Comrade Stalin, in his report on the Draft Constitution of the U.S-S.R. said the following: “They speak of the equality of citizens, but forget that there cannot be real equality between employer and workman, between landlord and peasant, if the former possess wealth and political weight in society while the latter are deprived of both – if the former are exploiters while the latter are exploited. Or again: they speak of freedom of speech, assembly, and the press, but forget that all these liberties may be merely a hollow sound for the working class, if the latter cannot have access to suitable premises for meetings, good printing shops, a sufficient quantity of printing paper, etc.”[§]

When elucidating the specific features of the history and traditions of bourgeois democracy in each country, the classics of Marxism-Leninism pointed out at the same time that “… the most democratic bourgeois republic is a machine for the oppression of the proletariat by the bourgeoisie.”[**]

What distinguishes the epoch of imperialism from the preceding period, the epoch of free competition, is the fact that under imperialism state activity is marked by a turn, all along the line, to political reaction. In both foreign and home policy imperialism strives to violate democracy and establish reaction. These reactionary strivings of imperialism are being displayed more and more glaringly in the political life of present-day England and the U.S.A. This, however, does not prevent those who defend imperialism from talking without end about all the different “freedoms” that are supposed to be part of bourgeois democracy.

Let us, for example, take the question of the so-called “freedom of the press” in bourgeois countries. The fact that a multitude of newspapers of various trends is published in foreign countries, that arguments ensue among these papers on various secondary problems, that different viewpoints are expressed, that criticism is occasionally levelled in these newspapers at those who captain the bourgeois ship of state – all this is lauded to the skies by the advocates of bourgeois democracy. They bring these points forward as evidence of the freedom of the press that is supposed to exist in the bourgeois countries.

Actually, however, the so-called “freedom of the press” in bourgeois society means nothing more than freedom for the capitalists to control the press and to “shape” public opinion to suit their own interests. “Freedom of the press in capitalist society,” said Lenin, “means freedom to trade in the press and in influencing the masses of the people. Freedom of the press means maintaining the press, a most powerful instrument for influencing the masses of the people, at the expense of capital.”[††] Such is the real worth of bourgeois freedom of the press.

The false character of the so-called freedoms, particularly freedom of the press, has even had to be admitted by many publicists and sociologists who defend bourgeois democracy.

Or let us take the so-called “freedom of elections” which is lauded in every way by the apologists of present-day bourgeois democracy. The fact that different parties participate in elections, that a struggle takes place among them, and that these parties advance different programs is extolled by the apologists of bourgeois democracy as evidence of the existence of a supposedly genuine democratic system in these countries. Yet if we delve into the essence of bourgeois “freedom of elections,” so-called, we will see that this boasted “freedom of elections” is as much a fraud as is “freedom of the press.”

Marx, in his work The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, already characterized bourgeois constitutions as follows: “…each paragraph of the Constitution contains its own antithesis, its own Upper and Lower House, namely, liberty in the general phrase, abrogation of liberty in the marginal note.”[‡‡]

Basing himself on later historical experience, Lenin continued this characterization of bourgeois liberties as follows: “… under bourgeois democracy the capitalists, by a thousand and one tricks – which are the more artful and effective the more “pure” democracy is developed – – debar the masses from a share in the work of administration, from freedom of the press, the right of assembly, etc… . For the toiling masses, participation in bourgeois parliaments (which never decide important questions under bourgeois democracy; they are decided by the stock exchange and the banks) is hindered by a thousand and one obstacles, and the workers know and feel, see and realize perfectly well that the bourgeois parliaments are institutions alien to them, instruments for the oppression of the proletarians by the bourgeoisie, institutions of a hostile class, of an exploiting minority.”[§§]

Numerous restrictions exist, both in Great Britain and the United States, that prevent the suffrage being universal. There are restrictions of various kinds on the suffrage, in the shape of literacy qualifications, a poll tax and so on and so forth. In the U.S.A. Negroes possess the formal right to vote and be elected, but in actual practice on only one occasion in fifty years was a Negro elected to Congress. When elections are about to take place in the U.S.A., Negroes have to undergo quite a meticulous examination to establish their ability to read and write, and frequently their “political knowledge.” This is done so as to deprive the overwhelming majority of the Negro population of the suffrage.

Facts of this kind – proof that the freedom of elections is in fact restricted – are quite well known. A wealth of material exposing the sham of “freedom of elections” in bourgeois countries is to be found in the publications and statements of many, even loyal, upholders of bourgeois democracy.

In 1944, a book appeared in the U.S.A. entitled Democracy Begins at Home by Jennings Perry. The author, editor of the newspaper Tennessean, devotes this work to the problem of the poll tax in the State of Tennessee and in the Southern States in general. The book discloses a highly interesting picture of the morals characteristic of present-day American democracy. It turns out that in the U.S.A. the years 1889 to 1908 saw the gradual introduction in all the states of something in the nature of a tax on the right to vote. It became the rule that citizens could not participate in the elections unless they paid this tax.

What effect did this tax have on the elections? In 1936 there took place the election of the Governor of the State of Tennessee. Of a total of 1,200,000 electors only 352,000 voted. A certain adventurer and racketeer by the name of Crump controlled a solid block of between 60,000 and 70,000 votes and so had the entire State of Tennessee in his grip. Here is an eloquent description of him, given in 1939 by the United Press correspondent, John Parris: “Edward Hull Crump can lift the telephone in his insurance and real estate company office and with one command send 60,000 sovereign Democrats to the secret polls to do his bidding.”

The author of the above-mentioned book cites facts to show how democracy has gradually disappeared in Tennessee. “We,” he writes, “have retrogressed toward government by a chosen few at a rapid rate,” democracy has turned into oligarchy.

An idea of the system and character of general elections in Great Britain is given in the book of the Liberal Party leader, Ramsay Muir, entitled How Britain Is Governed. In this book the British election system is called outright “in the highest degree unjust, unsatisfactory and dangerous.” This system, wrote Muir, “actually disfranchises a large majority of the electors. If we could estimate the total of those whose votes are of no avail because they have voted for unsuccessful candidates; of those who have refused to use their votes because there was no candidate with whom they agreed; and of those who have voted reluctantly for somebody who did not represent their views merely because he was less objectionable than the available alternatives: we should probably find that something like 70 per cent of the total (electorate had either been unable to exercise any influence upon the course of events by the use of their votes, or had been compelled to give their support to some doctrine or policy with which they disagreed.”[***]

In the British General Election of 1945, over 8 million electors, or 25 per cent of the total, did not vote. In the 1946 Congressional elections in the U.S.A., only 39 per cent of the electors voted, a fact that was considered by the entire American press to be indicative of very great activity on the part of the electors.

That is how matters stand as regards the so- called “General Elections” in Great Britain and the U.S.A. All these data provide the clearest and most convincing proof that the elections in bourgeois-democratic countries are not general at all and that bourgeois democracy is a hypocritical, truncated, and false affair.

What bourgeois democracy really is and how the bourgeoisie of today understand political liberty was shown by the elections to the legislature held in Italy in April 1948. In order to ensure that the forces of bourgeois reaction should achieve victory over the People’s Front parties in Italy, international imperialist reaction, headed by the U.S.A., openly threatened to resort to armed intervention, should the People’s Front parties be the victors.

The U.S. State Department declared that if the People’s Front were victorious all aid to Italy in the shape of food and manufactured products would be stopped. Atom bombs, wrote the American press, would be dropped on those towns where People’s Front candidates were elected. American warships carrying troops were anchored in Italian ports. French troops were brought up to the Italian frontier. In violation of the peace treaty with Italy, the De Gasperi government set up powerful police forces, equipped with American tanks, armoured cars, and artillery. Terror was employed openly and on a mass scale against people, against the progressive forces; so too were intimidation, threats, blackmail and plain deception, in a word, all possible means were brought into action in order to ensure victory for Italian reaction. The Vatican, too, with its black army of a million and a half priests, monks and nuns – in violation of all the laws forbidding the Vatican to interfere in political life – joined in the election campaign on the side of Italian reaction.

Reaction, lay and spiritual, threatened to withhold absolution, to bring down all the torments of Hades on the heads of those who refused to vote for the parties of bourgeois reaction. But, neither open terror, violence, deception, increased ideological pressure, nor the blatant and impudent intervention of the American Government in Italy’s internal affairs succeeded in bringing victory to reaction. Whereupon the De Gasperi government and its minister Scelba proceeded to falsify the election results by every possible means.

The Italian elections of April 1948 will go down in the history of bourgeois democracy as a most abominable and disgusting mockery of democracy and freedom.

* * *

The war of 1914-18, Lenin pointed out, made clear even to backward workers the real character of bourgeois democracy as being the dictatorship of the imperialist bourgeoisie. The war tore the false trimmings from bourgeois democracy, and showed that it was the thirst of the imperialist powers for conquest that was responsible for millions of people being killed. During the post-war period the real countenance of bourgeois democracy was still more clearly revealed. In a number of European countries, and first and foremost in Germany and Italy, bourgeois democracy actually paved the way there for the victory of fascism. The fascists began to kindle a new world war. As to the ruling circles of the “‘democratic” countries, particularly the ruling Conservative circles of Great Britain, they pursued a policy of “appeasing” the fascists, of pleading with the fascist “führers,” a policy of concessions to the fascists, of inciting the fascist aggressors to attack the U.S.S.R. The ruling circles of the U.S.A., on their part, financed the re-armament and further armament of imperialist Germany. As a result, the fascist aggressors let loose a new world war, which cost tens of millions of lives and threatened the freedom and independence of the nations of Europe and the whole world, and the democratic gains of the working people.

However, even the second world war taught little to the ruling circles of the present- day bourgeois-“democratic” countries, who still continue to connive with fascist elements. The reactionary groups in the U.S.A. are conducting an anti-popular domestic policy, one directed against the workers’ organizations, against progressive social ideas and progressive public figures. The governments of the imperialist states are pursuing a policy of supporting the reactionary elements all over the world, a policy of suppressing the movement for national liberation in the colonial countries. Militarization on an enormous scale is taking place in the countries of old, bourgeois democracy which at one time, in the epoch of pre-monopolist capitalism, were distinguished, among other things, by the fact that militarism and military cliques were little developed there.

In January 1947, the American liberal weekly The New Republic published an article by Henry Wallace, former Vice-President of the U.S.A. This article, in which he disclosed the growth of militarist tendencies in the U.S.A., caused a tremendous uproar in that country. Army and militarist circles, declared Wallace, dominate in the sphere of scientific research, and control scientists. The military buy science and scientists. Many American universities derive more funds from the War Department than from all other sources put together.

Wallace wrote that prior to the war the U.S.A. expended almost 50 million dollars annually on research work. In 1946 they expended almost one billion dollars, 90 per cent of which was for war purposes. Science – he said – was degenerating to the brute level of Nazism, when it expended the greater part of its time working out methods of destroying human life.

The military outlook, continued Wallace, must not be permitted to dominate over science in peacetime. If we permitted the present situation to continue, things would finally reach a point where a semi-military police state would be established in the U.S.A.

Similar reproaches were levelled at bourgeois democracy by Stafford Cripps, in a book published in England comparatively recently and entitled Democracy Up-to-Date. The author speaks of the decline of democracy in Great Britain. Proof of this, he states, is to be found in the apathy of the electors, in the lack of interest in the House of Commons and its work. Cripps admits that the system of British democracy suffers from grave defects “arising out of the advantages which wealth can give to one or other side in an electoral contest.”

Now that Cripps has become one of the leading figures in the British Labour Government, he is exerting no little effort to ensure that the profits of the capitalists go up, and that the standard of living of the workers goes down.

Such are the fundamental defects of present-day bourgeois democracy, as admitted even by supporters and upholders of the bourgeois system.

The real rulers of American “democracy” are the oil, chemical, steel and other magnates, the bosses of the huge monopolies and trusts; they include Herbert Hoover, ex-president of the U.S.A., Du Pont, member of the board of the chemicals and explosives company that is playing a leading part in the production of atom bombs, the Rockefeller-Morgan group, the banker Eugene Meyer, the owners of the majority of the shares of General Motors and General Electric, the Fords and Whitneys, the Mellons, Harknesses and others.

In 1946 there was republished in the U.S.A. Lundherg’s America’s 60 Families, a book that describes the financial oligarchy of present-day America which is made up of approximately 60 of the wealthiest families and is the unofficial, invisible, behind-the-scenes but actual government, the “money government.” “The outstanding American proprietors of today,” writes Lundberg, “tower historically over the proud aristocracy that surrounded Louis XIV, Czar Nicholas, Kaiser Wilhelm, and the Emperor Franz Joseph, and wield vastly greater power. The might of cardinal Richelieu, Metternich, Bismarck, or Disraeli was no greater than that of private citizens, undistinguished by titles, like J. P. Morgan, Andrew W. Mellon, John D. Rockefeller, Henry Ford and the Du Ponts.” They it is who are the uncrowned kings of America. They it is who exert enormous influence over the line of government policy, they it is who pursue the policy of fighting the workers and the trade unions within the country. They, the uncrowned kings, are the power behind the scenes, and the official organs of government pay careful heed to their instructions, to their desires.

Present-day American democracy is in fact “democracy” for suppressing the working-class movement within the country, “democracy” for supporting the most reactionary elements throughout the world, “democracy” for unbridled imperialist expansion. The anti-labour Truman- Case and Taft-Hartley Acts, the effort of reaction to destroy the workers’ organizations and deprive the workers of their rights, the campaigns of mass terror directed against the Negroes, the incitement of anti-Semitism, and the persecution of Communists – all these are glaring illustrations of the organic defects of present-day American “democracy.”

With ever growing frequency the demand is being raised in the columns of the reactionary press and on the floor of Congress that the activities of the Communist Party be banned. Thus, at the Congress session of January 23, 1947, the Republican Dirksen raised the demand that the government take measures against Communist Party activity in the U.S.A.; McCormack went still further and demanded not only that the Communist Party be banned but also that a crusade be conducted against Communism in Europe. He called on the U.S. Government to render more energetic and active support to the reactionary elements in France, Italy, Spain and other countries. In March 1947, the Secretary of Labour of the United States, Schwellenbach, speaking before the House Committee on Labour and Education, declared in favour of the Communist Party being outlawed. Schwellenbach demanded that Communists be dismissed from public bodies of every kind, and that they be deprived of the right to hold office in the trade unions. The whole of this campaign was crowned by the arch-reactionary Mundt Bill, directed against the elementary civil rights of the industrial workers and working people in general.

The ultra-reactionaries in the U.S.A. are openly driving the country to fascism. Numerous government bodies resort to unconstitutional practices in conducting an organized ideological and political campaign against the Communists and the entire labour movement. Many reactionary newspapers call for the summary liquidation “here and now,” of the Communist Party, trade union and other progressive organizations; they demand that active members of the labour movement be ruthlessly dealt with. This “crusade” of the reactionary press in the U.S.A. brings back to mind the “famous” campaigns conducted by the German fascists in the years preceding their advent to power.

Thomas, then chairman of the notorious Committee to Investigate Un-American Activities made the statement in Congress that: “Our job for the next two years shall be to rout them [the Communists] out.” (The New York Times, Nov. 27, 1946.)

On the insistence of Thomas and Hoover a special committee was appointed at the end of November 1946 to investigate “officials under suspicion” and to purge government institutions of the “reds.”

The New York P. M. in an item dealing with the commencement of the operations of this Committee wrote that the attempt to replace the Civil Service Commission by the Federal Bureau of Investigation constituted a great danger. Should such a replacement take place it would be one more step, and a very disastrous one, towards transforming the Federal Bureau of Investigation into a political police force, and the United States into a police state. This would be a “disruptive” act of far greater dimensions than anything any official could commit.

In March 1947 Truman issued an order, that went into immediate effect, for all civil servants to undergo investigation and for the dismissal of all “subversive” persons, i.e., of those suspected of adherence to or sympathy with the Communist and other democratic organizations. With a view to covering up the fact that the drive was aimed at democratic organizations, Truman’s order placed the Communist and other democratic organizations on a level with fascist organizations. The order required 2,300,000 U.S.A. civil servants to undergo examination by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Needless to say, this order will least of all affect the fascist and semi-fascist elements, who often occupy quite important posts in the U.S.A. It will be directed and wholly operated against the progressive and democratic elements in the country.

Such are the facts that supply us with a picture of the state of present-day American “dollar democracy.” Formally the democratic freedoms are exalted and propagated. Actually they exist merely for those who have the dollars. Formally the praises are sung, in a hundred and one different ways, of “freedom of speech,” “freedom of the press,” and “freedom of assembly.” Actually these freedoms are enjoyed, and enjoyed without limit, by the reactionary circles and organizations that are supported by the magnates of finance capital. As to the progressive organizations, personalities, and press, every possible obstacle is raised to prevent them developing their activity.

And what can be said of the reactionary and expansionist policy that is being conducted by American imperialism behind a smoke screen of talk about democracy? The American imperialists are giving every possible support to the reactionary elements in Japan; the imperialists of the U.S.A. and Great Britain are lending their aid to all the reactionary elements in Europe, the Near and Middle East, Greece and Turkey. The American imperialists are actively assisting Chiang Kai-shek’s fascist clique in their war on the Chinese people. The troops of “democratic” Holland, supported by the British and Americans, are suppressing the struggle for national liberation in Indonesia.

In November 1918, Lenin pointed out, in an article entitled “Valuable Admissions of Pitirim Sorokin,” that “… Anglo-American imperialism, which is reinstating reaction all over the world and has perfectly learned how to use the form of the democratic republic”[†††] is stifling the small and weak nations.

This characterization, as given by Lenin, is fully applicable today to the policy of the reactionary circles of the U.S.A. and Great Britain.

With the connivance of the Labour Government the fascist organizations in England are freely extending their disruptive activities. Mosley, one of the leaders of British fascism, has his own publishing establishment. In 1946 he published his book My Answer, which even the Conservative Lord Elibank compared to Hitler’s Mein Kampf. A number of fascist organizations, like the Duchess of Atholl’s British League for European Freedom, have been established and are operating in England. This latter organization gathers together the fascist and Whiteguard dregs from the People’s Democracies. Other fascist organizations, like the British People’s Party, the League of Christian Reformers, and the Imperial Fascist League openly and systematically propagate racial theories of the wildest type. All these organizations have combined in a fascist “congress.” At a meeting held in London on December 10, 1946, and convened by the fascist “congress,” John Beckett cynically and brazenly extolled the Nazi Party and its bandit policy.

And such statements are being made openly now, after all freedom-loving mankind has seen that fascism means the enslavement and extermination of nations, the destruction of the world’s culture!

The fascist elements are openly renewing their activity in South Africa, where the machinery of state is being fascised, racial discrimination is practised, raids are made on workers’ organizations, and their leaders are arrested. All these things are being done by the South African Government, which is headed by fascist, racialist politicians.

The fascist party has been legalized in Canada. The leader of this party, Adrien Arcand, recently declared that fascism in Canada was stronger now than ever before. He maintains contact with the fascists in Great Britain, the Union of South Africa, New Zealand, and elsewhere.

The historical experience of the bourgeois-democratic countries teaches us that to give the fascists a free hand means to doom the working people to oppression of the worst kind, to threaten the very existence of the peoples. To give the enemies of democracy a free hand is not democracy but the negation of it. To give a free hand to the enemies of democracy is to create favourable conditions for the growth of fascism.

The time has passed when the doors of Great Britain were open to revolutionary refugees from various countries, when such men as Marx, Engels, Herzen, Kossuth, and Mazzini could conduct their activities relatively unhindered. On the contrary, England – the very England where the Labour Party, which considers itself to be a veritable buttress of democracy, is in power – gives sanctuary to the most reactionary fascist and pro-fascist elements, who have been flung out of their countries by the regimes of People’s Democracy.

The Chetniks of Yugoslavia, and the Rumanian, Polish and Bulgarian Whiteguards have found a haven and a “pleasant reception” in Great Britain. This fascist scum, these worst enemies of the people are given facilities in England to hold meetings, to publish their filthy newssheets, to engage in provocative machinations, to stir up trouble and to conduct disruptive work. And all this is done supposedly in pursuance of the principles of democracy, in the name of “freedom of speech,” “freedom of the press,” etc. Is any more obvious proof required of the deep deficiencies and cankers of present-day bourgeois democracy?

The defeat of the Conservatives and the advent to power of the Labour Government were a reflection of the fact that the working masses of England had moved considerably to the left. In voting down the policy of Churchill and the Tories, the British working class hoped that with the Labour Party in power a considerable change in government policy would result. Such change, however, did not ensue. The actual fact is that Great Britain, where the Labour Party is in power, is engaged in suppressing the movements for national liberation in India, Egypt, Indonesia, Palestine and other countries, in supporting the forces of reaction in Europe – in Greece, Spain, the western zone of Germany, Austria and other countries.

The Labour Party leaders consider theirs to be a socialist government, but they have kept intact the old, bourgeois machinery of state which is unable to conduct anything other than an imperialist policy. They have kept intact the economic system of capitalism. The nationalization of the mining and certain other industries in England does not abolish the domination of British monopoly capital, while the imperialist policy of the British Government is a sufficiently clear indication of the character of present-day bourgeois democracy in Great Britain.

* * *

Soviet democracy differs fundamentally from bourgeois democracy.

Born in October 1917, Soviet socialist democracy has proved to be a great, vital and transforming force. The victory of the Great October Socialist Revolution meant that the epoch of the parliamentarism of the capitalists had been replaced by an epoch of Soviet institutions of state.

What are the specific features of Soviet democracy?

Firstly, its economic basis is the predominance of the social ownership of the means of production. The victory of Socialism in our country, the absence of exploiting classes – such is the basis on which socialist democracy is flourishing. It is a democracy that differs in principle from bourgeois democracy. Socialist democracy is democracy of a higher type.

For the first time in history there has grown up and acquired strength a Socialist State in which the entire population has been drawn into active participation in the country’s political life; for the first time a political system has developed and become firmly established under which the widest masses of the people really, and not in words alone, take part in administering the State.

Secondly, Soviet democracy is not ordinary democracy, but socialist democracy. The specific feature of the Constitution of the U.S.S.R. is that it does not limit itself to registering the formal rights of citizens, but places the main emphasis on the question of guaranteeing these rights. In the U.S.S.R. not only is the equality of the rights of citizens proclaimed – this equality of rights is guaranteed by the fact of the abolition of the exploitation of man by man. In the U.S.S.R. not only has the right to work been proclaimed – this right is guaranteed in fact. Socialist democracy has put an end, once and for all, to formal bourgeois democracy.

Thirdly, Soviet democracy is now based on the complete moral and political unity that has been achieved in Soviet society. The moral and political unity of the Soviet people – the result of the elimination of the exploiting classes in our country and of the enormous amount of educational work done by the Bolshevik Party – is a supreme achievement of our time. Under capitalism, where society is split into warring classes, the unity of society is unthinkable. The moral and political unity of the people, which came into being as a result of the victory of Socialism in our country, is a motive force of the development of Soviet society, an expression of genuine socialist democracy and a condition of its further vigorous growth.

Fourthly, a specific feature of Soviet socialist democracy is that the leading force in our country, the vanguard of the people, is the Bolshevik Party, the Party of Lenin and Stalin. The fact that a single, united Party exists which is leading forward the peoples of the Soviet Union and giving best expression to their interests is a subject of countless attacks on Soviet democracy by bourgeois publicists. In the view of the apologists of bourgeois democracy, the existence in a given country of a number of parties and the struggle that goes on between them constitute one of the fundamental features of democracy, whereas the absence of such a struggle in the Soviet Union and the existence of only one party prove, so they aver, that our democracy is defective. But these upholders of bourgeois democracy deliberately gloss over the fact that in bourgeois society, split, as it is, into classes with their antagonistic class interests, and torn by the struggle between various social groups, the existence of a number of warring parties is inevitable. These individuals, moreover, maintain silence about the fact that there is no difference in principle between the Republican and the Democratic parties in the U.S.A. They are actually one party. They are two factions of the bourgeoisie, which take turns in oppressing the people.

In Soviet society, which is free of class antagonisms, there is no basis for a number of ‘ parties; there is one party and it best reflects the interests of the people. The Bolshevik Party is a party that deservedly enjoys the undivided confidence of the people, for it has proved in practice its self-sacrificing devotion to the people and its ability to lead them in their great historical enterprise.

As far back as the year 1936, Comrade Stalin said: “As to freedom for various political parties, we adhere to somewhat different views. A party is a part of a class, its most advanced part. Several parties, and, consequently, freedom for parties, can exist only in a society in which there are antagonistic classes whose interests are mutually hostile and irreconcilable – in which there are, say, capitalists and workers, landlords and peasants, kulaks and poor peasants, etc. But in the U.S.S.R. there are no longer such classes as the capitalists, the landlords, the kulaks, etc. In the U.S.S.R. there are only two classes, workers and peasants, whose interests – far from being mutually hostile – are, on the contrary, friendly. Hence, there is no ground in the U.S.S.R. for the existence of several parties and, consequently, for freedom for these parties. In the U.S.S.R. there is ground only for one Party, the Communist Party. In the U.S.S.R. only one party can exist, the Communist Party, which courageously defends the interests of the workers and peasants to the very end. And that it defends the interests of these classes not at all badly, of that there can hardly be any doubt.”[‡‡‡]

In the shape of the Soviet State we have a political organization of society that is millions of times more democratic than the most democratic bourgeois republic. “Only Soviet Russia” – wrote Lenin – “has given the proletariat, and all working folk – the overwhelming majority of the people of Russia – a freedom and democracy unparalleled, impossible and unthinkable in any bourgeois-democratic republic; it has done so by, for example, depriving the bourgeoisie of palaces and mansions (without this, freedom of assembly is hypocrisy), by depriving the capitalists of the printing presses and newsprint (without this freedom of the press for the working majority of the nation is a fraud) and by replacing bourgeois parliamentarism by the democratic organization of the Soviets, which are a thousand times closer to the ‘people,’ more ‘democratic’ than the most democratic bourgeois parliament.”[§§§]

Already on the eve of the October Revolution, when elaborating the theoretical principles of the Soviet State, Lenin pointed out that the Soviets, as the state form of the dictatorship of the proletariat, constitute a new type of state machinery, an apparatus providing an indissoluble, close, easily tested and renewed link with the popular masses such as the former state apparatus never possessed in the remotest degree. “Compared with bourgeois parliamentarism,” said Lenin, “this represents an advance in the development of democracy which is of historical and world-wide significance.”[****]

The Soviet state system best serves to defend and guarantee the interests of the peoples of the U.S.S.R. That is why the masses of the people have so great a love for the Soviet system, why they are so devoted to their Socialist Motherland, which inspires them to perform deeds of heroism. Soviet patriotism is one of the great motive forces of the development of Soviet society. During the Great Patriotic War, the patriotism of the workers, peasants and intelligentsia was displayed in all its titanic might.

In his report on the occasion of the 27th anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution, Comrade Stalin gave the following classic definition of the essence and the strength of Soviet patriotism:

“The strength of Soviet patriotism lies in the fact that it is based not on racial or nationalistic prejudices, but upon the profound devotion and loyalty of the people to their Soviet Motherland, on the fraternal cooperation of the working people of all the nations inhabiting our country. Soviet patriotism is a harmonious blend of the national traditions of the peoples and the common vital interests of all the working people of the Soviet Union.”[††††]

The proposition advanced here by Comrade Stalin, which generalizes the very rich experience of the friendly cooperation among the nations of the Soviet Union, and of the development of their statehood and culture, is one of the outstanding discoveries made in the development of Leninist theory and is of the greatest importance as regards the political education of the people, as regards their education in the spirit of Soviet patriotism.

Soviet patriotism has grown and blossomed forth under Soviet democracy. Just as Soviet socialist democracy is a higher type of democracy differing fundamentally from the old forms of bourgeois democracy, so Soviet patriotism is a new and higher type of patriotism. Its source is the victory of the Great October Socialist Revolution, the construction of Socialism in our country. Soviet patriotism develops on a new social and economic foundation, on the basis of new social relations.

The Soviet State has shown, and continues to show, itself to be a tremendous transforming force. The transformations that have been effected in the U.S.S.R. and that have, in a brief historical period, turned our native land into a mighty industrial and kolkhoz power, show how great are the forces that Soviet socialist democracy can rouse, mobilize and direct for creative endeavour. Soviet democracy showed itself to be a great force in the building of socialist society, in the defence of the Socialist Homeland against the fascist invaders, and is a powerful factor facilitating the further onward march of Soviet society, towards Communism.

The entire system of organization of the Soviet State is adapted to raising the creative energy of the popular masses to the maximum degree for the solution of the tasks of socialist construction. In the U.S.S.R., for the first time in human history, millions upon millions of the common people have been drawn into conscious political activity, into the building of the new, Communist society, and the mighty energy of the people has been aroused. “The living creative work of the masses,” Lenin said, “is what constitutes the main factor of the new social order.”[‡‡‡‡]

Gorky, in his novel Mother, makes one of his characters say the following words: “Russia will be the finest democracy in the world.” This dream of the great proletarian writer has found its living embodiment in our country.

One of the basic illustrations of the genuinely popular character of Soviet democracy is the fact that the masses of the people play a real part in administering the State, that no barrier exists in our country between the machinery of state and the people. The creative initiative of the masses, the pulsating activity of public organizations, the ever new forms of participation by the working people in economic and cultural development, the political activity of the people – all these are remarkable indexes of the great Soviet democracy existing in the U.S.S.R. It is the popular masses – those who in the most democratic bourgeois republics formally possess equal rights but actually are prevented from participating in the administration of the State – who under the Soviet system are drawn “unfailingly into constant and, moreover, decisive participation in the democratic administration of the state.”[§§§§] The main process taking place in our country in the upbuilding of the Soviet State is that of the constantly growing political activity of the popular masses, of the continuous promotion from the very midst of the people of new individuals possessed of organizing capacity, new men of talent, outstanding statesmen.

Since the adoption in 1936 of the Stalin Constitution, elections in the U.S.S.R. to the organs of supreme power have taken place on four occasions, viz.: twice to the Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R., and twice to the Supreme Soviets of the Union Republics.

In 1937, in the elections to the Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R., 96.8 per cent of the electors recorded their votes, and the candidates put forward by the bloc of Communists and non-Party people received 98.6 per cent of the total votes cast. Almost 90 million people voted solidly at that time for the bloc of Communists and non-Party people.

In 1938, in the elections to the Supreme Soviets of the Union Republics, the bloc of Communists and non-Party people received the votes of 99.4 per cent of electors who voted.

In 1946, in the elections to the Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R., 99.7 per cent of the electors recorded their votes, and the candidates put forward by the bloc of Communists and non-party people received 99.18 per cent of the total votes cast. Over 100 million electors voted as one man for the Bolshevik Party, and for the further consolidation of the Soviet State.

In the early part of 1947 there took place the elections to the Supreme Soviets of the Union Republics. The results constitute a further splendid victory for Soviet democracy, as the following figures will show:

What do these figures show?

Firstly, that in the Soviet Union practically all the electors, with absolutely insignificant exceptions, exercise their voting rights. This is testimony to the high level of civic consciousness, to the tremendous political activity of the masses of the people. The working folk of the Soviet Union take part in the elections as in some great festive event. Such a state of affairs is absolutely unthinkable in bourgeois society; it is the product of the victory of Socialism, and of that alone.

The entire system of organization of the elections – from the consistent, thoroughly democratic method by which our public organizations nominate candidates, and the method by which candidatures are discussed, to the provision of all the conditions necessary to enable each elector to fulfil his civic duty, wherever he may be when the elections take place – this entire system of organization of the elections is marked from beginning to end by genuine Stalinist love for the working people, by concern for their interests and requirements, by the striving to ensure that the masses are drawn to the maximum degree into the actual administration of the State.

Secondly, that with absolutely insignificant exceptions, all the electors who record their votes cast them for the bloc of Communists and non-Party people. This complete unanimity displayed in the voting is an expression of the complete moral and political unity of the people, a unity of the people such as is created and consolidated by the socialist system of society. The people stand forth as a single whole, in the real sense of the term.

In the Stalin constituency of Moscow where on February 9, 1947, the candidate in the election of the Deputy to the Supreme Soviet of the Russian Soviet Socialist Republic was J. V. Stalin, 100 per cent of the electors recorded their votes. Not a single one of the ballot papers was invalid, neither did a single one of them register rejection of the candidate. J. V. Stalin was unanimously elected Deputy. The working people of all the Union and Autonomous Republics unanimously nominated Comrade Stalin as their No. 1 candidate in the elections of Deputies to their Supreme Soviets. Comrade Stalin is the elected representative of the entire Soviet people, a fact that splendidly reflects the unity of will and purpose of the Soviet people.

The name of Comrade Stalin is the symbol and banner of this unity. All our victories are bound up indissolubly with the name of Comrade Stalin. It is characteristic that as Soviet electors voted for Comrade Stalin, they wrote on the ballot papers messages full of ardent love for their leader and teacher. They voted for the man who is leading the Soviet people on to Communism, who is the embodiment of the hopes and strivings of all the nations of the U.S.S.R.

During the elections the Soviet people showed with renewed vigour that they stand solid behind the Party of Lenin and Stalin, that they are supremely devoted to the interests of the Socialist Motherland.

Only in the Land of Socialism, where socialist democracy prevails, where the gains we have achieved are inscribed in letters of gold in the Stalin Constitution is there such a manifestation of civic consciousness and patriotism. Such unity in voting, such a manifestation of organization and unanimity in the election of candidates are possible only in Soviet society, where the people are free from all forms of exploitation whatsoever. Only the complete moral and political unity of the people renders possible such unanimity as is displayed in the voting during the elections to the supreme organs of the Soviet Union.

The Communist Party – the force that inspires, guides and directs the Soviet State – comes to the masses with a clear program for the development of the country, and in clear-cut terms defines the tasks facing the people. This program best expresses the interests of the people, their hopes and strivings. The Communist Party does all it can to ensure that every elector acquires a better and more profound understanding of its policy, which is the living basis of the Soviet system, that every elector takes an active part in discussing problems of State, and votes with full understanding for the bloc of Communists and non-Party people. As Lenin said: “In our view a state is strong in so far as the masses are conscious. It is strong when the masses know everything, can form an opinion of everything, and do everything consciously.”[*****]

In his historic speech delivered on February 9, 1946, Comrade Stalin said: “I regard the election campaign as the voters’ judgment of the Communist Party as the ruling party. The result of the election will be the voters’ verdict.”[†††††] The elections in the Soviet Union are a repeated indication of the love felt by the masses for the Bolshevik Party. The masses of the people in the Soviet Union, to whom the Bolshevik Party is near and dear, voluntarily entrust their destinies to it, for practical experience has convinced them that the Party of Lenin and Stalin has no interests other than those of the people, and has no tasks other than those of leading the people onward, towards an ever better life, to Communism. The Bolshevik Party gives scientific expression to the fundamental, vital interests of the masses of the people, and this is the necessary condition that ensures it the leading role it plays in the Soviet State. Comrade Stalin has spoken of the “subtle moral threads” that bind the Party to those outside its ranks, of the profound trust in the Party and its leadership felt by the popular masses of the Soviet Union. This, it is, that finds expression in the bloc of Communists and non-Party people at the elections to the organs of the Soviet State. Comrade Stalin has said: “There is not, nor has there ever been in the world such a powerful and authoritative government as our Soviet government. There is not, nor has there ever been in the world such a powerful and authoritative Party as our Communist Party.”[‡‡‡‡‡]

The elections in the Soviet Union are a great schooling in political activity, a manifestation of supreme political activity on the part of the people. Hundreds of thousands of active workers, agitators and propagandists, many tens of thousands of members of Ward and Constituency Electoral Commissions, and of electors’ representatives take part in the election campaigns. The elections are the occasion for a countrywide review by the people of achievements and successes and also for a criticism of the defects of the work of the various parts of the machinery of state. Countless meetings take place at which affairs of state, and candidatures, are discussed. In the political work it conducts in preparation for the elections the Communist Party reaches every single elector. As a result we can say that there has developed a new form of political life, unthinkable in bourgeois countries, a form of participation by the entire people in the discussion of affairs of state, in the solution of most important problems of state. Socialism has elaborated such forms as enable all the working people easily to be drawn into the administration of the State.

Such facts as the solid vote of over 99 per cent of the electors for the candidates of the bloc of Communists and non-Party people, for the policy of the Party of Lenin and Stalin, are events of the greatest historical importance. In events and facts such as these we see the remarkable results of the work done by the Bolshevik Party.

Much energy has been expended by bourgeois students of law and statecraft to prove the thesis that “real government by the people” is altogether impossible, that it is inevitable for representative bodies to lose touch with the people, that even the very best representative bodies in the last analysis degenerate. It has been asserted that it is impossible to give effect to democracy in a large country. Rousseau, as is well known, upheld in his Contrat Social the thesis that real democracy is only possible in a small country where all citizens can take a personal part in discussing affairs of state.

Under the bourgeois system, where a struggle takes place between antagonistic classes, real government by the people is impossible. But that which is unthinkable and impossible under capitalism, is thinkable, possible and actually effected under Socialism.

In his works preliminary to The State and Revolution Lenin, even before the victory of the Great October Socialist Revolution, wrote that under Socialism there would be complete, universal and unlimited democracy. This, he said, would be “the sort of new type of ‘direct popular legislation’ that Engels rejected under capitalism.”[§§§§§]

These views of Lenin about a new type of democracy based on the predominance of the social ownership of the means of production, have been fully implemented in the actual life of our country.

One of the striking indexes of the majesty of Soviet democracy is the complete equality of rights exercised by women in the Soviet State. Lenin said that woman’s position in society shows particularly clearly the difference between bourgeois and socialist democracy.

There is not a single bourgeois-democratic country in the world where women enjoy full equality of rights. In bourgeois countries women either play no part at all, or participate to a limited degree, in public and political life; female labour there is exploited and counted as the very cheapest. The proportion of female labour employed in the more important branches of industry, in the leading professions and in the different branches of culture, is negligible. Not a single bourgeois republic has given women equality with man, either formally or in fact.

The picture is absolutely different in the U.S.S.R. In the Soviet State women enjoy all rights to the full, on a par with men. They take a most active part in the economic, political and cultural life of the country, and fully and comprehensively display their creative abilities in the most diverse spheres of socialist construction. The history of the development of the Soviet State has shown what an enormous number of talented people, and of individuals with a capacity for organization are to be found among the masses of working women. Women occupy a place of honour everywhere in our country – in the kolkhozes and in industry, in all spheres of culture and science, in political and public organizations – and side by side with the menfolk are fulfilling the tasks facing the Soviet Land. “The unprecedented labour heroism,” said Comrade Stalin on November 6, 1944, in characterizing the part played by the women during the war, “displayed by our Soviet women and our valiant youth, who have borne the brunt of the burden in our factories and mills and in our collective and state farms, will go down in history for ever.”[******]

An index of the genuinely socialist character of our democracy is the fact that the national question has been successfully solved in the U.S.S.R. For the first time in the history of multinational states, the national question and the problem of cooperation among nations have been solved in the Soviet Union – the Land of Socialism. As is well known, the national question is an exceptionally complicated one. Under capitalism it is impossible to solve the national question. The existence of capitalism without the suppression of nationalities, without national oppression is just as impossible as is the existence of Socialism without the abolition of national oppression, without national freedom. The experience of Austria-Hungary, and of Turkey, and the instability of the present British Empire are the most palpable evidence of how unstable are bourgeois multinational states.

The solution of the national question in the U.S.S.R. is one of the supreme achievements of our age. The results of the October Socialist Revolution have shown themselves not only in the abolition of national oppression in our country, but also in the fact that there have been elaborated the forms of state which solve the national question, forms which unite the various nationalities into a single multinational Soviet State, distinguished by its stability and invincibility.

The beneficent influence of the October Socialist Revolution and of Soviet democracy has also been expressed in the fact that they have awakened to life and brought into the historical arena a number of formerly backward nations and nationalities, given them new life and new development. Formerly nations arose and became consolidated under the supremacy of the bourgeoisie. This resulted in two national cultures existing within each nation, and lent the dominant national culture an exploiting, nationalistic character.

The inexhaustible strength of the Soviet system and of Soviet democracy is expressed in the fact that many nationalities in our country are being consolidated as nations not under the aegis of the bourgeois order, as was formerly the case, but under the aegis of Soviet rule. Comrade Stalin has described this as a fact unexampled in history, but a fact nonetheless. It is a new process, never known before to history, and one that it could not know. It is a new phenomenon, one that has developed under the Soviet order, on the basis of the Soviet system, in the new social and political conditions where there is no exploitation or oppression. These are nations that have been revived by the conditions of the Soviet system. The culture being developed by these nations is – as is the case with all the nations of the Soviet Union – a culture national in form and socialist in content.

The experience of the construction of Soviet socialist society shows, therefore, that Socialism does not at all imply the immediate dying-off of nations, as many vulgarizers of Marxism would have had us believe, but the development to the full of the inner potentialities of nations on a basis quite different from that of the conditions of the bourgeois system.

The majesty of Soviet democracy is mirrored in the fact that previously-backward nationalities are being raised economically and culturally to the level of the more advanced ones. For the first time in the history of multinational states the central authority has resolutely and consistently carried through a system of measures aimed at achieving real equality among nations, thereby doing away with the previous economic, political and cultural backwardness of the formerly oppressed nations and nationalities, and raising them to the level of the advanced nations. In this regard, too, is there manifested the fundamental difference between Soviet democracy and bourgeois democracy.

Under capitalism the line is systematically pursued of keeping the oppressed nations backward, of artificially holding up their industrial and cultural development, of ruthlessly exploiting them. Under Soviet democracy a planned system of measures is operated, aimed at raising the formerly oppressed and backward peoples to the level of the advanced ones. It is hard to appraise fully the world-historic significance of this fact. The formerly oppressed nationalities have seen the practical application of the great emancipatory principles of Bolshevik policy in the sphere of the national question. Soviet democracy means that the national oppression that has existed for centuries has been replaced by the great amity among the peoples of the U.S.S.R., an amity that marks a new era in the development of inter-national relations.

The Russian people, said Comrade Stalin, “is the most outstanding of all the nations that constitute the Soviet Union.” As a consequence of the great part played by the Russian people in October 1917, and then during the war against the foreign interventionists and Whiteguards, and during the years of peaceful construction; as a consequence of the epoch-making role played by the Russian nation during the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945, it earned general recognition among all the other nations of our country as the leading force of the Soviet Union.

Characterizing the bourgeois federations and diverse states that exist under capitalism, Comrade Stalin has pointed out that in the main they took shape as a result of violence and oppression, that the course of their development was marked by repeated acts of violence and oppression. Even the revolutionary French bourgeoisie of the end of the XVIII century, who in their Declaration of Rights of Man and of the Citizen proclaimed that all men are born equal and hence should enjoy equal rights – even they considered it necessary to record the point in the Constitution of 1791 that “the present Constitution does not apply to French colonies and possessions in Asia, Africa, and America, although they constitute part of the French Empire.” And such a federal state as the United States of America, which boasts of the freedom possessed by its states, took final shape not as a result of voluntary union at all, but of the application of numerous measures for the forcible consolidation of the Union, for the forcible incorporation of many states.

In 1803 the United States of America purchased Louisiana from France, in 1819 it purchased Florida from Spain, and in 1845, as a result of war with Mexico, forcibly incorporated Texas, and so on. All this has little in common with the voluntary union of states to which such loud references are made by the apologists of American democracy. James Bryce, the well-known authority on the American republic, once wrote that while the victory won by the North in the war of 1861-1865 was progressive in the sense that it did away with slavery, it was at the same time a warning against any attempt by the states to secede from the Union, so that it was not even considered necessary to introduce in the U.S.A. constitution clauses denying the right of the states to secede from the Union.

A fundamentally different principle on which a federal state is based – that of genuinely voluntary federation – is expressed in the Stalin Constitution. To enable the reader to understand the essence of socialist democracy, the great importance of the principles followed by the Bolshevik Party in the building of our multinational Soviet State, it is important to indicate the thesis developed by Comrade Stalin concerning the reservation of the right of the Union Republics freely to secede from the U.S.S.R. In his speech on the Constitution, where he rejected amendments the purpose of which was to delete from the Constitution the article dealing with this point, Comrade Stalin stated: “The U.S.S.R. is a voluntary union of Union Republics with equal rights. To delete from the Constitution the article providing for the right of free secession from the U.S.S.R. would be to violate the voluntary character of this union.”[††††††] As Comrade Stalin pointed out, there is not a single republic in our country that would want to secede from the U.S.S.R., but inasmuch as the U.S.S.R. is based on a voluntary union of the peoples, a clause is recorded in the Constitution stressing this voluntary character of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

Comrade Stalin pointed out further that not only should formal proclamation be made of the right to secede from the Union, but matters should be so arranged that this right is not turned into an empty, meaningless scrap of paper. That is why one of the three qualifications for an Autonomous Republic to be transferred to the category of Union Republic is that it is situated along the country’s borders. Comrade Stalin said that “…the Republic concerned must be a border republic, not surrounded on all sides by U.S.S.R. territory. Why? Because since the Union Republics have the right to secede from the U.S.S.R., a republic, on becoming a Union Republic, must be in a position logically and actually to raise the question of secession from the U.S.S.R. And this question can be raised only by a republic which, say, borders on some foreign state, and, consequently, is not surrounded on all sides by U.S.S.R. territory.”[‡‡‡‡‡‡]

There is no republic in our country desirous of seceding from the U.S.S.R. Only as component parts of the U.S.S.R. have our national republics secured the conditions requisite for their development on an unparalleled scale. Only with the aid of the entire Union have the different republics risen to enormous heights and secured the most extensive facilities for their prosperous growth. The principles proclaimed in the Constitution regarding the voluntary character of the union and the equality of the rights possessed by the Union Republics are guaranteed by the conditions that actually exist for this voluntary union and enjoyment of equal rights.

Is a clearer expression required of the principles of socialist democracy embodied in the Stalin Constitution?

Only socialist democracy fully and thoroughly solves the problem of fraternal collaboration among nations in a single multinational Soviet State. It is only such a solution of the problem that has created the stability and steadfastness, the firmness and might which distinguish the Soviet multinational State.

The Tenth Session of the Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R., which took place from January 28 to February 1, 1944 – when the Patriotic War was at its height – adopted decisions of exceptionally great importance, which constituted a new advance in the development of our multinational Soviet Socialist State. The Session adopted laws for the establishment of military formations of the Union Republics, and in this connection for the transformation of the People’s Commissariat of Defence from an all-Union into a Union-Republican People’s Commissariat (now Ministry); and for the endowment of the Union Republics with the right to enter into direct relations with foreign powers and to conclude treaties with them; and in this connection for the transformation of the People’s Commissariat of Foreign Affairs from an all-Union into a Union-Republican People’s Commissariat (now Ministry). All this became possible and necessary as a result of the political, economic and cultural development of the Union Republics. These new achievements in the development of the Soviet State were, by decision of the Third Session of the Second Convocation of the Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R. held in 1947, embodied in the Stalin Constitution.

* * *

Such are the most important and characteristic features of Soviet socialist democracy. The strength and vitality of Soviet democracy have been tested by experience. A great and leading role has been played by Soviet democracy in the struggle against fascism. Now, in the post-war period, Soviet socialist democracy is in the van of all the progressive forces in the world waging the struggle against the reactionary elements, against the new warmongers, against those who wish to maintain and revive fascism. That is why Soviet socialist democracy meets with such sympathy, endorsement and admiration among all the progressive forces of the world.

Having emerged with honour from all the difficulties and trials of the Great Patriotic War, the Soviet people are now engaged in a self-sacrificing struggle to rehabilitate and further develop the economy of the U.S.S.R., to fulfill and overfulfill the new Stalin Five-Year Plan. One of the clearest indexes of the strength and vitality of Soviet socialist democracy is the fact that Soviet people, led by the Bolshevik Party, are making a reality of the task set by Stalin, namely, that of bringing about a rapid rise of the national economy.

PUBLISHER’S NOTE

This pamphlet is a translation of an essay published in the symposium Soviet Socialist Society prepared by the Institute of Philosophy of the Academy of Sciences of the U.S.S.R. and published by the Gospolitizdat, Moscow 1949.

 

[*] J. V. Stalin, Speech Delivered at an Election Meeting in the Stalin Election District, Moscow, February 9, 1946. Moscow 1946, p. 10.

[†] V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, 3rd Russ. ed., Vol. XXIII, p. 346.

[‡] V. I. Lenin, Selected Works, Two-Vol. ed., Vol. II, Moscow 1947, p. 535.

[§] J. V. Stalin, Problems of Leninism, Moscow 1947, p. 551.

[**] V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, 3rd Russ. od., Vol. XXIII, p. 220.

[††] V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, 3rd Russ. ed., Vol. XXVI, p. 423.

[‡‡] K. Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, Moscow 1948, p. 34.

[§§] V. I. Lenin, Selected Works, Two-Vol. ed., Vol. II, Moscow 1947, p. 374.

[***] Ramsay Muir, How Britain Is Governed, p. 168.

[†††] V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, 3rd Russ. ed., Vol. XXIII, p. 293.

[‡‡‡] J. V. Stalin, Problems of Leninism, Moscow 1947, p. 557.

[§§§] V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, 3rd Russ. ed., Vol. XXIII, p. 221.

[****] V. I. Lenin, Selected Works, Twelve-Vol. ed., Vol. VI, Moscow-Leningrad, p. 264.

[††††] J. V. Stalin, On the Great Patriotic War of the Soviet Union, Moscow 1940, p. 165.

[‡‡‡‡] V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, 3rd Russ. ed., Vol. XXII, p. 45.

[§§§§] V. I. Lenin, Selected Works, Twelve-Vol. ed., Vol. VII, Moscow-Leningrad, p. 231.

[*****] V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, 3rd Russ. ed., Vol. XXII, pp. 18-19.

[†††††] J. V. Stalin, Speech Delivered at an Election Meeting in the Stalin Election District, Moscow, February 9, 1946.Moscow 1946, p. 10.

[‡‡‡‡‡] J. V. Stalin, Problems of Leninism, Moscow 1947, p. 438.

[§§§§§] V. I. Lenin, Marxism About the State, Russ. ed., Moscow 1934, p. 77.

[******] J. V. Stalin, On the Great Patriotic War of the Soviet Union, Moscow 1946, pp. 164-65.

[††††††] J. V. Stalin, Problems of Leninism, Moscow 1947, p. 561.

[‡‡‡‡‡‡] J. V. Stalin, Problems of Leninism, Moscow 1947, p. 562.

Source

ICMLPO May Day Statement

FOR A MAY DAY OF UNITY AND STRUGGLE AGAINST NATIONALISM, RACISM, FASCISM AND THE POLICY OF WAR

LET’S RAISE THE FLAG OF THE PROLETARIAN INTERNATIONALISM!

Workers, labourers, young people, women and oppressed people of all countries!

The long period of poor economic growth and the increasing political instability bring out more sharply the contradictions that lacerate the capitalistic world.

Although weakened by its general and periodical crises, this system capitalist-imperialist is still strong; unless we unite and organise to combat and bring it down this decaying system will endure maintaining its exploitative and extortionist character. Nevertheless, the bases on which it is built are rotten and its contradictions sharpening; the attacks on international working class and oppressed peoples are escalating. As a result of this situation today we see:

 – The strengthening of the struggle for the markets, the protectionism, the commercial and currency disputes, the emergence of nationalism in the economic politics that embitter the problems among the imperialists and capitalistic countries, especially between USA, EU, China and Russia.

 – The intensification of the policy of war, the increase in military expenditure and the arms race. The imperialist powers and financial monopolies, in fierce rivalry between them, advance in the pillaging of resources of dependent countries. The possibility of a new World War is stirring in the Middle East. In Syria these contradictions are manifested clearly, and in the Asia-Pacific regions the imperialist arms stocks are piling up.

 – A fierce bourgeois offensive against the working class and the labouring masses, to burden them with the consequences of serious economic difficulties. The capitalists and their governments intensify the exploitation, attack the organisation of the workers, destroy their democratic rights, criminalise social protests and repress fighters of the proletariat.

 – The rise of political reaction and authoritarianism, limitations of bourgeois democracy, increasing of corruption in parties of the dominant classes, the drift towards Police States under the pretext of fighting terrorism and, in some countries, the access to power of extreme right and fascists.

 – An infamous ideological campaign by the most reactionary sectors of bourgeoisie that spread chauvinism, racism and hate against migrants; religious fanaticism, in order to deceive and divide workers and peoples, and strengthen the dominion of capital.

 – The deep crisis of social democracy, social propping of capital, with a great loss of consents, while the populist parties gain the impoverished and disappointed strata with their cynic “social”demagogy and false patriotism.

The bourgeoisie, condemning billions to poverty, hunger and unemployment attempting in this way to delay the inevitable end of its system, imposes neoliberal and reactionary regimes, destroy the environment and prepare new imperialist wars.

But the proletariat and the peoples do not give up, they resist and fight! In the world more and more numerous are the grounds of struggle against capitalistic exploitation,imperialism, its lackeys, its governments and parties. The growth of mass dissatisfaction and resistance against dominant cliques pave the way for new revolutionary waves.

Workers, labourers, young people, women and oppressed people of all countries!

Let’s unite and demonstrate on May Day -day of international solidarity of the proletariat – demanding work, health, education, social services, equal wage for equal work, equality of rights for all the workers!

No more unemployment and precariousness! Let’s demand the reduction of working hours and of the retirement age! ‘No’ to war and fascism, take our countries out of the warmongering alliances, away from the power of the advocates of war, let’s struggle for peace and freedom for our peoples!

Let’s give impetus to the united front of the working class to defend our economic and political interest and to continue the struggle until the demolition of the capitalist exploitation and oppression.

Let’s denounce and oppose the policy of class collaboration promoted by the leaders of social democracy and the trade union bureaucracy, let’s develop the line of organization and the class struggle to mobilize the masses against capital.

It’s necessary to build a broad popular coalition, leaded by the working class; to organize and develop the resistance against the capitalistic offensive, the imperialistic reaction and the politics of war; let’s struggle with the perspective to get it over with the exploiters.

It’s necessary to unite the antifascist, anti-imperialist and democratic youth to conquer a future radically different from the one that capitalists and their opportunist servants want for us.

Now more than ever we must strengthen and develop internationalist solidarity to struggle incessantly against bourgeoisie governments, to get together, to unite the proletariat and the oppressed masses of all countries in order to knock down the common enemy: imperialism!

On May Day everybody get out on streets with our red flags!

International Conference of Marxist-Leninist Parties and Organizations (ICMLPO)
April, 2017

 

The CIA Reads French Theory: On the Intellectual Labor of Dismantling the Cultural Left

Gabriel Rockhill, Ph.D.v

It is often presumed that intellectuals have little or no political power. Perched in a privileged ivory tower, disconnected from the real world, embroiled in meaningless academic debates over specialized minutia, or floating in the abstruse clouds of high-minded theory, intellectuals are frequently portrayed as not only cut off from political reality but as incapable of having any meaningful impact on it. The Central Intelligence Agency thinks otherwise.

As a matter of fact, the agency responsible for coups d’état, targeted assassinations and the clandestine manipulation of foreign governments not only believes in the power of theory, but it dedicated significant resources to having a group of secret agents pore over what some consider to be the most recondite and intricate theory ever produced. For in an intriguing research paper written in 1985, and recently released with minor redactions through the Freedom of Information Act, the CIA reveals that its operatives have been studying the complex, international trend-setting French theory affiliated with the names of Michel Foucault, Jacques Lacan and Roland Barthes.

The ‘Apparat’ in Paris: CIA Agent and Head of the CCF Michael Josselson (center) in a Working Lunch with John Clinton Hunt and Melvin Lasky (right)

The image of American spies gathering in Parisian cafés to assiduously study and compare notes on the high priests of the French intelligentsia might shock those who presume this group of intellectuals to be luminaries whose otherworldly sophistication could never be caught in such a vulgar dragnet, or who assume them to be, on the contrary, charlatan peddlers of incomprehensible rhetoric with little or no impact on the real world. However, it should come as no surprise to those familiar with the CIA’s longstanding and ongoing investment in a global cultural war, including support for its most avant-garde forms, which has been well documented by researchers like Frances Stonor Saunders, Giles Scott-Smith, Hugh Wilford (and I have made my own contribution in Radical History & the Politics of Art).

Thomas W. Braden, the former supervisor of cultural activities at the CIA, explained the power of the Agency’s cultural assault in a frank insider’s account published in 1967: “I remember the enormous joy I got when the Boston Symphony Orchestra [which was supported by the CIA] won more acclaim for the U.S. in Paris than John Foster Dulles or Dwight D. Eisenhower could have bought with a hundred speeches.” This was by no means a small or liminal operation. In fact, as Wilford has aptly argued, the Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF), which was headquartered in Paris and later discovered to be a CIA front organization during the cultural Cold War, was among the most important patrons in world history, supporting an incredible range of artistic and intellectual activities. It had offices in 35 countries, published dozens of prestige magazines, was involved in the book industry, organized high-profile international conferences and art exhibits, coordinated performances and concerts, and contributed ample funding to various cultural awards and fellowships, as well as to front organizations like the Farfield Foundation.

The intelligence agency understands culture and theory to be crucial weapons in the overall arsenal it deploys to perpetuate US interests around the world. The recently released research paper from 1985, entitled “France: Defection of the Leftist Intellectuals, examines—undoubtedly in order to manipulate—the French intelligentsia and its fundamental role in shaping the trends that generate political policy. Suggesting that there has been a relative ideological balance between the left and the right in the history of the French intellectual world, the report highlights the monopoly of the left in the immediate postwar era—to which, we know, the Agency was rabidly opposed—due to the Communists’ key role in resisting fascism and ultimately winning the war against it. Although the right had been massively discredited because of its direct contribution to the Nazi death camps, as well as its overall xenophobic, anti-egalitarian and fascist agenda (according to the CIA’s own description), the unnamed secret agents who drafted the study outline with palpable delight the return of the right since approximately the early 1970s.

More specifically, the undercover cultural warriors applaud what they see as a double movement that has contributed to the intelligentsia shifting its critical focus away from the US and toward the USSR. On the left, there was a gradual intellectual disaffection with Stalinism and Marxism, a progressive withdrawal of radical intellectuals from public debate, and a theoretical move away from socialism and the socialist party. Further to the right, the ideological opportunists referred to as the New Philosophers and the New Right intellectuals launched a high-profile media smear campaign against Marxism.

While other tentacles of the worldwide spy organization were involved in overthrowing democratically elected leaders, providing intelligence and funding to fascist dictators, and supporting right-wing death squads, the Parisian central intelligentsia squadron was collecting data on how the theoretical world’s drift to the right directly benefitted US foreign policy. The left-leaning intellectuals of the immediate postwar era had been openly critical of US imperialism. Jean-Paul Sartre’s media clout as an outspoken Marxist critic, and his notable role—as the founder of Libération—in blowing the cover of the CIA station officer in Paris and dozens of undercover operatives, was closely monitored by the Agency and considered a very serious problem.

In contrast, the anti-Soviet and anti-Marxist atmosphere of the emerging neoliberal era diverted public scrutiny and provided excellent cover for the CIA’s dirty wars by making it “very difficult for anyone to mobilize significant opposition among intellectual elites to US policies in Central America, for example.” Greg Grandin, one of the leading historians of Latin America, perfectly summarized this situation in The Last Colonial Massacre: “Aside from making visibly disastrous and deadly interventions in Guatemala in 1954, the Dominican Republic in 1965, Chile in 1973, and El Salvador and Nicaragua during the 1980s, the United States has lent quiet and steady financial, material, and moral support for murderous counterinsurgent terror states. […] But the enormity of Stalin’s crimes ensures that such sordid histories, no matter how compelling, thorough, or damning, do not disturb the foundation of a worldview committed to the exemplary role of the United States in defending what we now know as democracy.”

It is in this context that the masked mandarins commend and support the relentless critique that a new generation of anti-Marxist thinkers like Bernard-Henri Levy, André Glucksmann and Jean-François Revel unleashed on “the last clique of Communist savants” (composed, according to the anonymous agents, of Sartre, Barthes, Lacan and Louis Althusser). Given the leftwing leanings of these anti-Marxists in their youth, they provide the perfect model for constructing deceptive narratives that amalgamate purported personal political growth with the progressive march of time, as if both individual life and history were simply a matter of “growing up” and recognizing that profound egalitarian social transformation is a thing of the—personal and historical—past. This patronizing, omniscient defeatism not only serves to discredit new movements, particularly those driven by the youth, but it also mischaracterizes the relative successes of counter-revolutionary repression as the natural progress of history. 

Anti-Marxist French Philosopher Raymond Aron (left) and His Wife Suzanne on Vacation with Undercover CIA Operative Michael Josselson and Denis de Rougemont (right)

Even theoreticians who were not as opposed to Marxism as these intellectual reactionaries have made a significant contribution to an environment of disillusionment with transformative egalitarianism, detachment from social mobilization and “critical inquiry” devoid of radical politics. This is extremely important for understanding the CIA’s overall strategy in its broad and profound attempts to dismantle the cultural left in Europe and elsewhere. In recognizing it was unlikely that it could abolish it entirely, the world’s most powerful spy organization has sought to move leftist culture away from resolute anti-capitalist and transformative politics toward center-left reformist positions that are less overtly critical of US foreign and domestic policies. In fact, as Saunders has demonstrated in detail, the Agency went behind the back of the McCarthy-driven Congress in the postwar era in order to directly support and promote leftist projects that steered cultural producers and consumers away from the resolutely egalitarian left. In severing and discrediting the latter, it also aspired to fragment the left in general, leaving what remained of the center left with only minimal power and public support (as well as being potentially discredited due to its complicity with right-wing power politics, an issue that continues to plague contemporary institutionalized parties on the left).

It is in this light that we must understand the intelligence agency’s fondness for conversion narratives and its deep appreciation for “reformed Marxists,” a leitmotif that traverses the research paper on French theory. “Even more effective in undermining Marxism,” the moles write, “were those intellectuals who set out as true believers to apply Marxist theory in the social sciences but ended by rethinking and rejecting the entire tradition.” They cite in particular the profound contribution made by the Annales School of historiography and structuralism—particularly Claude Lévi-Strauss and Foucault—to the “critical demolition of Marxist influence in the social sciences.” Foucault, who is referred to as “France’s most profound and influential thinker,” is specifically applauded for his praise of the New Right intellectuals for reminding philosophers that “‘bloody’ consequences” have “flowed from the rationalist social theory of the 18th-century Enlightenment and the Revolutionary era.” Although it would be a mistake to collapse anyone’s politics or political effect into a single position or result, Foucault’s anti-revolutionary leftism and his perpetuation of the blackmail of the Gulag—i.e. the claim that expansive radical movements aiming at profound social and cultural transformation only resuscitate the most dangerous of traditions—are perfectly in line with the espionage agency’s overall strategies of psychological warfare.

The CIA’s reading of French theory should give us pause, then, to reconsider the radical chic veneer that has accompanied much of its Anglophone reception. According to a stagist conception of progressive history (which is usually blind to its implicit teleology), the work of figures like Foucault, Derrida and other cutting-edge French theorists is often intuitively affiliated with a form of profound and sophisticated critique that presumably far surpasses anything found in the socialist, Marxist or anarchist traditions. It is certainly true and merits emphasis that the Anglophone reception of French theory, as John McCumber has aptly pointed out, had important political implications as a pole of resistance to the false political neutrality, the safe technicalities of logic and language, or the direct ideological conformism operative in the McCarthy-supported traditions of Anglo-American philosophy. However, the theoretical practices of figures who turned their back on what Cornelius Castoriadis called the tradition of radical critique—meaning anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist resistance—surely contributed to the ideological drift away from transformative politics. According to the spy agency itself, post-Marxist French theory directly contributed to the CIA’s cultural program of coaxing the left toward the right, while discrediting anti-imperialism and anti-capitalism, thereby creating an intellectual environment in which their imperial projects could be pursued unhindered by serious critical scrutiny from the intelligentsia.

As we know from the research on the CIA’s program of psychological warfare, the organization has not only tracked and sought to coerce individuals, but it has always been keen on understanding and transforming institutions of cultural production and distribution. Indeed, its study on French theory points to the structural role universities, publishing houses and the media play in the formation and consolidation of a collective political ethos. In descriptions that, like the rest of the document, should invite us to think critically about the current academic situation in the Anglophone world and beyond, the authors of the report foreground the ways in which the precarization of academic labor contributes to the demolition of radical leftism. If strong leftists cannot secure the material means necessary to carry out our work, or if we are more or less subtly forced to conform in order to find employment, publish our writings or have an audience, then the structural conditions for a resolute leftist community are weakened. The vocationalization of higher education is another tool used for this end since it aims at transforming people into techno-scientific cogs in the capitalist apparatus rather than autonomous citizens with reliable tools for social critique. The theory mandarins of the CIA therefore praise the efforts on the part of the French government to “push students into business and technical courses.” They also point to the contributions made by major publishing houses like Grasset, the mass media and the vogue of American culture in pushing forward their post-socialist and anti-egalitarian platform.

What lessons might we draw from this report, particularly in the current political environment with its ongoing assault on the critical intelligentsia? First of all, it should be a cogent reminder that if some presume that intellectuals are powerless, and that our political orientations do not matter, the organization that has been one of the most potent power brokers in contemporary world politics does not agree. The Central Intelligence Agency, as its name ironically suggests, believes in the power of intelligence and theory, and we should take this very seriously. In falsely presuming that intellectual work has little or no traction in the “real world,” we not only misrepresent the practical implications of theoretical labor, but we also run the risk of dangerously turning a blind eye to the political projects for which we can easily become the unwitting cultural ambassadors. Although it is certainly the case that the French nation-state and cultural apparatus provide a much more significant public platform for intellectuals than is to be found in many other countries, the CIA’s preoccupation with mapping and manipulating theoretical and cultural production elsewhere should serve as a wake-up call to us all.

Second, the power brokers of the present have a vested interest in cultivating an intelligentsia whose critical acumen has been dulled or destroyed by fostering institutions founded on business and techno-science interests, equating left-wing politics with anti-scientificity, correlating science with a purported—but false—political neutrality, promoting media that saturate the airwaves with conformist prattle, sequestering strong leftists outside of major academic institutions and the media spotlight, and discrediting any call for radical egalitarian and ecological transformation. Ideally, they seek to nurture an intellectual culture that, if on the left, is neutralized, immobilized, listless and content with defeatist hand wringing, or with the passive criticism of the radically mobilized left. This is one of the reasons why we might want to consider intellectual opposition to radical leftism, which preponderates in the U.S. academy, as a dangerous political position: isn’t it directly complicit with the CIA’s imperialist agenda around the world?

Third, to counter this institutional assault on a culture of resolute leftism, it is imperative to resist the precarization and vocationalization of education. It is equally important to create public spheres of truly critical debate, providing a broader platform for those who recognize that another world is not only possible, but is necessary. We also need to band together in order to contribute to or further develop alternative media, different models of education, counter-institutions and radical collectives. It is vital to foster precisely what the covert cultural combatants want to destroy: a culture of radical leftism with a broad institutional framework of support, extensive public backing, prevalent media clout and expansive power of mobilization.

Finally, intellectuals of the world should unite in recognizing our power and seizing upon it in order to do everything that we can to develop systemic and radical critique that is as egalitarian and ecological as it is anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist. The positions that one defends in the classroom or publicly are important for setting the terms of debate and charting the field of political possibility. In direct opposition to the spy agency’s cultural strategy of fragment and polarize, by which it has sought to sever and isolate the anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist left, while opposing it to reformist positions, we should federate and mobilize by recognizing the importance of working together—across the entire left, as Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor has recently reminded usfor the cultivation of a truly critical intelligentsia. Rather than proclaiming or bemoaning the powerlessness of intellectuals, we should harness the ability to speak truth to power by working together and mobilizing our capacity to collectively create the institutions necessary for a world of cultural leftism. For it is only in such a world, and in the echo chambers of critical intelligence that it produces, that the truths spoken might actually be heard, and thereby change the very structures of power. 

Revisionism in Russia: Trotsky Against the Bolsheviks – Part Two: 1914-1917

This is the second part of a study of the development of revisionism in Russia, and covers the period from the outbreak of World War I in 1914 to the victory of the socialist revolution in November 1917.

Read part one here.

The First Imperialist War

In August 1914, the First Imperialist War began.

Almost from the outset, three trends manifested themselves in the labour movements of the belligerent countries:

“In the course of the two and half years of war the international Socialist and labour movement in every country has evolved three tendencies.

The three tendencies are:

1) The social-chauvinists, i.e., Socialists in words and chauvinists in action, people who are in favour of ‘national defence’ in an imperialist war. . .These people are our class enemies. They have gone over to the bourgeoisie…

2) The second tendency is what is known as the ‘Centre’, consisting of people who vacillate between the social-chauvinists and the true internationalists.
All those who belong to the ‘Centre’ swear that they are Marxists and internationalists, that they are in favour of peace, of bringing every kind of ‘pressure’ to bear upon the governments, of ‘demanding’ that their own governments should ‘ascertain’ the will of the people for peace’, that they favour all sorts of peace campaigns, that they are for a peace without annexations, etc., etc. — and for peace with the social-chauvinists.
The ‘Centre’ is for ‘unity’, the ‘Centre’ is opposed to a split.
The ‘Centre’ is a realm of honeyed petty-bourgeois phrases of internationalism in word and cowardly opportunism and fawning on the social-chauvinists in deed.
The fact of the matter is that the ‘Centre’ does not preach revolution; it does not carry on a wholehearted revolutionary struggle; and in order to evade such a struggle it resorts to the tritest ultra-‘Marxist’ excuses….

3) The third tendency, the true internationalists, is most closely represented by the ‘Zimmerwald Left’….

It is characterised mainly by its complete break with both social-chauvinism and ‘Centrism’, and by its relentless war against its own imperialist government and against its own imperialist bourgeoisie.”

(V. I. Lenin: “The Tasks of the Proletariat in Our Revolution” in: “Selected Works’, Volume 6; London; l946; p. 63, 64, 65-66).

Trotsky’s “The War and the International”

On the outbreak of war, Trotsky was forced to leave Vienna and for two months he settled in Zurich, where he wrote “The War and the International,” which was published in November in “Golos” (The Voice), a Menshevik paper published in Paris.

In this work Trotsky put forward the view that “the main obstacle to economic development’ was the existence the national state”:

“The old national state .. has outlived itself, and is now an intolerable hindrance to economic development. . . .The outlived and antiquated national ‘fatherland’ has become the main obstacle to economic development . . . .The national states have become a hindrance to the development of the forces of production.”

(L. Trotsky: Preface to “The War and the International”; London; 1971; p. vii, x, xii).

Thus, declared Trotsky, the aim of the working class should be the creation of a ‘republican United States of Europe”:

“The task of the proletariat is to create a far more powerful fatherland, with far greater power of resistance – the republican United States of Europe.”

Lenin at first (in one document only) accepted the slogan of a “United States of Europe”:

“The immediate political slogan of the Social-Democrats of Europe must be the formation of a republican United States of Europe.”

(V. I. Lenin: ‘The War and Russian Social-Democracy’ in: “Selected Works;’ Volume 5; Moscow; 1935; p. 129).

By August 1915, however, the Bolsheviks, on Lenin’s initiative had decisively rejected this slogan, firstly, because it could, under capitalist society, only be reactionary:

“From the point of view of the economic conditions of imperialism, . . the United States of Europe is either impossible or reactionary under capitalism. A United States of Europe under capitalism is equivalent to an agreement to divide up the colonies. Under capitalism, however, . . no other principle of division . . . . is possible except force. . . Division cannot take place except ‘in proportion to strength’, And strength changes in the course of economic development.
Of course, temporary agreements between capitalists and between the powers are possible. In this sense, the United States of Europe is possible as an agreement between the European capitalists. . but what for? Only for the purpose of jointly suppressing socialism in Europe, of jointly protecting colonial booty against Japan and America. . . Under capitalism, the United States of Europe would mean the organisation of reaction to retard the more rapid development of America.”

(V. I. Lenin: ‘The United States of Europe Slogan’, in: “Selected Works,” Volume 5; London 1935; p. 139, 140, 141).

and secondly because if regarded as a socialist slogan, it suggests that the victory of socialism was possible only on an all European scale:

“Uneven economic and political development is an absolute law of capitalism. Hence, the victory of socialism is possible, first in a few or even in one single capitalist country.”

(V. I. Lenin: ibid.; p.141).

Lenin concludes:

“It is for those reasons and after repeated debates that the editors of the central organ have come to the conclusion that the United States of Europe slogan is incorrect.'”

(V.I. Lenin: ibid.; p. 141).

That Trotsky did, in fact, link the Slogan of “a United States of Europe” with the concept, inherent in his “theory of permanent revolution,” that proletarian revolution could only be successful an an international scale, is shown by his reply to Lenin’s article:

“The only more or less concrete historical argument advanced against the slogan of a United States of Europe was formulated in the Swiss ‘Sotsial-Demokrat’ in the following sentence:

‘Uneven economic and political development is an absolute law of capitalism’.

From this the ‘Sotsial-Domokrat’ draws the conclusion that the victory of socialism is possible in one country, and that therefore there is no reason to make the dictatorship of the proletariat in each separate country contingent upon the establishment of a United States of Europe. That capitalist development in different countries is uneven is an absolutely incontrovertible argument. But this unevenness is itself extremely uneven. The capitalist level of Britain, Austria, Germany or France is not identical. But in comparison with Africa and Asia all these countries represent capitalist ‘Europe’, which has grown ripe for the social revolution. That no country in its struggle must ‘wait’ for others, is an elementary thought which it is useful and necessary to reiterate in order that he idea of concurrent international action may not be replaced by the idea of temporising international inaction.

Without waiting for the others, we begin and continue the struggle nationally, in the full confidence that our initiative will give an impetus to the struggle in other countries; but if this should not occur, it would be hopeless to think — as historical experience and theoretical considerations testify — that, for example, a revolutionary Russia could hold out in the face of a conservative Europe.”

(L. Trotsky: Article in “Nashe Slovo” (Our Word), No. 87; April 12th., 1916, cited in: J. V. Stalin: “The October Revolution and the Tactics of the Russian Communists,” in: ‘Works”, Volume 6; Moscow; 1953; p. 390-1).

In the autumn of 1916 Lenin reiterated his opposition to Trotsky’s slogan of a United States of Europe:

“As early as 1902, he (i.e., the British economist John Hobson — Ed.) had an excellent insight into the meaning and significance of a ‘United States of Europe” (be it said for the benefit of Trotsky the Kautskyian!) and of all that is now being glossed over by the hypocritical Kautskyians of various countries, namely, that the opportunists (social-chauvinists) are working hand in hand with the imperialist bourgeoisie precisely towards creating an imperialist Europe on the backs of Asia and Africa.”

(V. I. Lenin: ‘Imperialism and the Split in Socialism”, in: “Selected Works”, Volume 11; London; 1943; p. 752).

Trotsky, however, continued — even after the Russian October Revolution of 1917 — to hold that the construction of socialism in Europe was possible only on an all-European basis. In the postscript to a collection of articles published in 1922 under the title of “A Peace Programme,” he wrote:

“The assertion reiterated several times in the ‘Peace Programme’ that a proletarian revolution cannot culminate victoriously within national bounds may perhaps seem to some readers to have been refuted by the nearly five years’ experience of our Soviet Republic. But such a conclusion would be unwarranted. . . We have not arrived, or even begun to arrive, at tho creation of a socialist society. . . Real progress of a socialist economy in Russia will become possible only after the victory of the proletariat in the major European countries.”

(L. Trotsky: Postscript to ‘A Peace Programme , cited by: J. V. Stalin: “The Social-Democratic Deviation in our Party; in: “Works”, Volume 8; Moscow; 1954; p. 271-2).

“Our Word”

In November 1914, Trotsky left Switzerland for Paris to take up the post of war correspondent of the newspaper “Kievskaya Mysl” (Kievan Thought), which supported the war effort of the tsarist government.

Settled in Paris, he joined the editorial staff of “Golos” (The Voice) , a newspaper published by a group of Mensheviks headed by Yuli Martov who, unlike the official Menshevik leadership which supported the war effort of the tsarist government, had adopted an attitude of verbal opposition to the war without seeking to organise active revolutionary struggle against the tsarist regime. “Golos” had commenced publication in September l914, and, when it was suppressed by the French government in January l9l5, it was replaced by “Nashe Slovo” (Our Word), on the editorial staff of which Trotsky continued to serve.

The chief organiser of the paper was Vladimir Antonov-Ovseenko (a former tsarist officer who after the October Revolution became Director of the Political Administration of the Red Army) . Its Paris staff included, in addition to Trotsky, Anatoly Lunacharsky (who later became Commissar for Education), David Ryazanov (later director of the Marx-Engels Institute), Solomon Lozovsky (later head of the Red International of Labour Unions), Dmitri Manuilsky (later head of the Communist International) Grigori Sokolnikov (later Commissar for Finance), and the historian Mikhail Pokrovsky (later director of the Soviet State Archives). Its foreign correspondents included Grigori Chicherin (later Commissar for Foreign Affairs), Aleksandra Kollontai (later Commissar of Social Welfare), Karl Radek (later to hold a leading position in the Communist International), Moissei Uritsky, Khristian Rakovsky (the son of a Bulgarian landlord, later to become Prime Minister of the Soviet Ukraine), Ivan Maisky (later Soviet Ambassador to Britain), and the Anglo-Russian historian Theodore Rothstein (later Soviet Ambassador to Persia).

1915 – 1916: The Three Trends in the Russian Labour Movement

The three trends described in an earlier section were represented in the Russian labour movement as follows:

1) The social-chauvinist trend was represented by:

a) a group of Mensheviks headed by Aleksandr Potresov, around the journal “Nasha Zarya” (Our Dawn), published in St. Petersburg. “Nasha Zaraya” was suppressed by the tsarist government in October 1914, and its place was taken in January 1915 by “Nashe Dyolo” (Our Cause).

“In Russia the fundamental nucleus of opportunism, the Liquidationist ‘Nasha Zarya’, became the fundamental nucleus of chauvinism.”

(V. I. Lenin: “The Collapse of the Second International,” in: ‘Collected Works’, Volume 18; London; n.d.; p. 308).

b) a group of Mensheviks headed by Grigori Plekhanov and Grigori Alexinsky around the journal “Prizyv” (The Call) published in Paris.

“The main theories of the social-chauvinists. . . are represented by Plekhanov.”

(V. I. Lenin: ibid.; p. 282).

“Plekhanov has sunk into-nationalism, hiding his Russian chauvinism under Francophilism; so has Alexinsky.”

(V. I. Lenin: “Position and Tasks of the Socialist International”, in: ibid.; p. 85-86).

2) The “Centrist” trend was represented by:

a) The Menshevik “Organisation Committee” (O.C), headed by Pavel Axelrod, which in February 1915 began publication of “Izvestia” (News) of the Foreign Secretariat of the Organisation Committee.

“This Centrist tendency includes . . the party of the Organisation Committee . . and others in Russia.”

(V. I. Lenin: “The Tasks of the Proletariat in Our Revolution,” in: “Selected Works,” Volume 6; London; 1935; p. 65).

“Take . .the . manifesto of the 0.C (Organisation Committee-Alliance Editor). . . .
1) The manifesto does not contain a single statement which in principle repudiates national defence in the present war;
2) there is absolutely nothing in the manifesto which in principle would be inacceptible to the ‘defencists’ or social chauvinists;
3) there are a number of statements in the manifesto which are completely’identical’ with ‘defencism’: ‘The proletariat cannot remain indifferent to the impending defeat’; . . ‘the proletariat is vitally interested in the self-preservation of the country.'”

(V. I. Lenin: “Have the O.C. and the Chkheidze Fraction a Policy of Their Own?”, in “Collected Works,” Viume 19; London; l942; p. 36, 37).

“To cover up this political reality (i.e., social-chauvinism — Ed.) by Left phrases and quasi-Social-Democratic-ideology, is the actual political meaning of the . . activities of the Organisation-Committee. In the realm of ideology — the ‘Neither- victory nor defeat’ slogan; in the realm of practice — an anti-‘split’ struggle — this is the business-like . . programme of ‘peace’, with the ‘Nashe Dyelo’ and Plekhanov.”

(V. I. Lenin: State of Affairs within Russian Social Democracy’, in: Collected Works”, Volume 18; London; n.d.; p. 204.)

b) the Menshevik Duma fraction, headed by Nikolai Chkheidze.

“This Centrist tendency includes . . Chkheidze and others in Russia.”

(V. I. Lenin: “The Tasks of the Proletariat in Our Revolution,” in: “Selected Works’, Volume 6; London; 1946; p. 65).

“Chkheidze’s group confined itself to the parliamentary field. It did not vote appropriations, since it would have roused a storm of indignation among the workers. . . Neither did it protest against social-chauvinism.”

(V. I. Lenin: “Socialism and War,” in: ibid.; p. 240).

“Chkheidze uses the same chauvinist phrases about the ‘danger of defeat’, stands for . . ‘the struggle for peace’, etc., etc.”

(V. I. Lenin: “Have the 0.C. and the Chkheidze Fraction a Policy of Their Own?”, in ‘Collected Works”, Volume 19; London; 19~2; p. 39).

“(1) The ‘save the country” formula employed by Chkhejdze differs in no material respect from defencism;
2) the Chkheidze fraction never opposed Nr. Potresov and Co. .
3) the decisive fact: the fraction has never opposed participation in the War Industries Committees’.

(V. I. Lenin: “The Chkheidze Fraction and its Role’, in: ibid.; p. 325).

“To cover up this political reality (i.e., social-chauvinism — Ed.) by ‘Left ‘phrases and quasi-Social-Democratic ideology, is the actual political meaning of the legal activities of Chkheidze’s fraction.”

(V. I. Lenin: “State of affairs within Russian Social-Democracy, in: “Collected “Works”, Volume 18; London; n.d.; p. 204).

c) the group, headed by Trotsky, around “Nashe Slovo,” the policy of which will be discussed in the next sections.

3) The revolutionary, international trend was represented by the Central Committee of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party, headed by Lenin.

The theses which Lenin put forward in September 1914 from Berne (Switzerland), on the other hand, called on the work in classes of all belligerent countries actively to oppose the war and to seek to transform it into a civil war against ” their own” imperialists.

“Transform the present imperialist war into civil war — is the only correct proletarian slogan.”‘

(V. I. Lenin: “The War and Russian Social Democracy,”‘ in: “Selected Works,” Volume 5; London; 1935; p. 130).

The “Peace” Slogan-The First of Trotsky’s Two Slogans

The policy put forward by Trotsky in the pages of “Nashe Slovo” in relation to the imperialist war may be summarised in two slogans:

firstly, that of “revolutionary struggle for peace” (or “revolutionary struggle against the war,” called by Lenin the “peace slogan”:

“Phrase-mongers like Trotsky (See No. 105 of the ‘Nashe Slovo’) defend, in opposition to us, the peace slogan.”

(V. I. Lenin: ‘The ‘Peace’ Slogan Appraised,” in: “Collected Works,'” Volume 18; London; n.d.; p. 262).

‘Revolutionary struggle against the war ‘ . . is an example of the high-flown phraseology with which Trotsky always justifies opportunism.”

(V. I. Lenin: “Defeat of One’s Own Government in the Imperialist War”, in: “Selected Works”, Volume 5; London 1935; p. 3142).

Lenin opposed the “peace” slogan throughout the war:

“The peace slogan is in my judgment incorrect at the present moment. This is a philistine’s, a preacher’s, slogan. The proletarian slogan must be civil war.”

(V. I. Lenin: Letter to A. G. Shlyapnikov, October 17th., 1914, in: “Collected Works’, Volume 18; n.d.; p. 75).

“Propaganda of peace at the present time, if not accompanied by a call for revolutionary mass action, is only capable of spreading illusions, of demoralising the proletariat by imbuing it with belief in the humanitarianism of the bourgeoisie, and of making it a plaything in the hands of the secret diplomacy of the belligerent countries. In particular, the ilea that a so-called democratic peace is possible without a series of revolutions is profoundly mistaken.”

(V. I. Lenin: Conference of the Sections of the RSDLP Abroad,” in: “Selected Works”, Volume 5; London 1935; p. 135).

“To accept the peace slogan per Se, and to repeat it, would be encouraging the ‘pompous air of powerless (what is worse hypocritical) phrasemongers’; that would mean deceiving the people with the illusion that the present governments, the present ruling ‘classes, are capable before they are . . eliminated by a number of revolutions of granting a peace even half way satisfactory to democracy and the working class. Nothing is more harmful than such a deception.”

(V. I. Lenin: ‘The Peace Question’, in: ‘Collected Works’, Volume 18; London; n.d.; p. 266).

In September 1915 Trotsky carried forward his opposition to the Leninist policy towards the war at the International Socialist Conference at Zimmerwald (Switzerland). The Bolshevik resolution was rejected by a majority of the delegates, including Trotsky. As he expresses it himself:

“Lenin was on the extreme left at the Conference. In many questions he was in a minority of one, even within the Zimmerwald left wing, to which I did not formally belong.”

(L. Trotsky: “My Life”; New York; 1970; p. 250).

In these circumstances, the Bolsheviks agreed to sign a compromise manifesto drafted by Trotsky:

“The revolutionary wing, led by Lenin, and the pacifist wing, which comprised the majority of the delegates, agreed with difficulty on a conmon manifesto of which I had prpared the draft”.

(L. Trotsky: ibid p. 250).

The central point of this manifesto was “the struggle for peace”:

“It is necessary to take up this struggle for peace, for a peace without annexations or war indemnities. . . .It is the task and the duty of the Socialists of the belligerent countries to take up this struggle with full force.”

Manifesto Of the International Specialist Conference, Zimmerwald, cited in: V. I Lenin: Collected Works’, Vo1ume 18; London; Ibid.; p. 475).

Lenin commented on this manifests after the conference:

“Passing to ‘the struggle for peace’…here also we find inconsistency, timidity, failure to say everything that ought to be said. . . It does not name directly, openly and clearly the revolutionary methods of struggle.”

(V. I. Lenin: ‘The First Step’, in: “Collected Works”, Volume 18; London; n.d.; p. 343).

“Neither Victory nor Defeat”- Trotsky’s Second Slogan

Secondly, in opposition to Lenin’s declaration that a revolutionary struggle against “one’s own imperialists in wartime was facilitated by, and facilitated, the military defeat of “one’s own” imperialists in the war, Trotsky put forward the slogan of “Neither victory nor defeat!”:

“‘Bukvoyed (i.e., Ryazonov — Ed.) and Trotsky defend the slogan ‘Neither victery nor defeat!”

(V. I. Lenin: “Defeat Of One’s Own Governrnent in the Imperialist War”, in: Selected Works’, Volume 5; London 1935; p. 145-6).

In an Open Letter addressed to the Bolsheviks in “Nashe Slovo” in the summer of l9l5, Trotsky denounced Lenin’s policy of “revolutionary defeatism” as:

“An uncalled-for and unjustifiable concession to the political methodology of social-patriotism which substitutes for the revolutionary struggle against the war and the conditions that cause it, what, under present conditions, is an extremely arbitrary orientation towards the lesser evil.”

(L. Trotsky: in: “Nashe Slovo”, No. 105, cited in V. I. Lenin: “Defeat of One’s Own Government in the Imperialist War”, in: ‘Selected Works”, Volume 5; London; l935; p. 142).

Lenin replied to Trotsky’s Open Letter in August l9l5, in his article “Defeat of One’s Government in the Imperialist War”:

“This is an example of the high-flown phraseology with which Trotsky always justifies opportunism.

Making shift with phrases, Trotsky has lost his way amidst three pine trees. It seems to him that to desire Russia’s defeat means desiring Germany’s victory. . .
To help people who are unable to think, the Berne resolution made it clear that in all imperialist ceuntries the proletariat must now desire the defeat of its own government. Bukvoyed and Trotsky preferred to evade this truth. . Had Bukvoyed and Trotsky thought a little, they would have realised that they adopt the point ‘of view of a war of governments and the bourgeoisie, i.e., that they cringe before the ‘political methodology of ‘social-patriotism’, to use Trotsky’s affected language.

Revolution in wartime is civil war; and the transformation of war between governments into civil war is, on the one hand, facilitated by military reverses (‘defeats’) of governments; on the other hand, it is impossible really to strive for such a transformation without thereby facilitating defeat.

The very reason the chauvinists. . .repudiate the ‘slogan’ of defeat is that this slogan alone implies a consistent appeal for revolutionary action against one’s own government in wartime. Without such action, millions of the r-r-revolutionary phrases like war against ‘war and the conditions, and so forth’ are not worth a penny. . . .

To repudiate the ‘defeat’ slogan means reducing one’s revolutionary actions to an empty phrase or to mere hypocrisy. .. .

The slogan “Neither victory nor defeat” . . is nothing but a paraphrase of the ‘defence of the fatherland’ slogan. . . . .

On closer examination, this slogan will be found to mean ‘civil peace’, renunciation of the class struggle by the oppressed classes in all belligerent ‘countries, since class struggle is impossible without . . facilitating the defeat of one’s own country. Those who accept the slogan ‘Neither victory nor defeat’, can only hypocritically be in favour of the class struggle, of ‘breaking civil peace’; those in practice, renounce an independent proletarian policy because they subordinate the proletariat of all belligerent countries to the absolutely bourgeois task of safeguarding imperialist governments against defeat. .

Those who are in favour of the slogan ‘Neither victory nor defeat’ are consciously or unconsciusly chauvinists, at best they are conciliatory petty bourgeois; at all events they are enemies of proletarian policy, partisans of the present governments, of the present ruling classes. . . .

Those who stand for the slogan ‘Neither victory nor defeat’ are in fact on the side of the bourgeoisie and the opportunists, for they ‘do not believe’ in the possibility of international revolutionary action of the working class against its own governments, and they do not wish to help the development of such action which, though no easy task, it is true, is the only task worthy of a proletarian, the only socialist task.'”

(V. I. Lenin: “Defeat of One’s Own Government in the Imperialist War”, in: “Selected Works”, Volume 5; London; 1935; p. 142-3, 145, 146-7).

In April 1915 Rosa Luxemburg, in prison, wrote, under the pseudonym “Junius”, a pamphlet entitled ‘The Crisis of German Social Democracy.” It was published a year later, in April 1916. Rosa Luxemburg, like Trotsky opposed Lenin’s policy of “revolutionary defeatism“:

“What shall be the practical attitude of social democracy in the present war? Shall it declare: since this is an imperialist war, since we do not enjoy in our country any socialist self-determination, its existence or non-existence is of no consequence to us, and we will surrender it to the enemy? Passive fatalism can never be the role of a revolutionary party like social democracy. . . .
Yes, socialists should defend their country in great historical crises.”

(R. Luxemburg: “The Crisis of German Social Democracy”, in: “Rosa Luxemburg Speaks’; Now York; 1970; p. 311, 314,).

and like Trotsky, she put forward the slogan of “Neither victory nor defeat”:

“Here lies the great fault of German social democracy….. . . It was their duty . to proclaim to the people of Germany that in this war victory and defeat would be equally fatal.”

(R. Luxemburg: ibid.; p. 314).

suggesting that the defence of the country “against defeat” should be carried on under the slogan she had consistently opposed as a leader of the Social-Democratic Party of the Kingdom of Poland and Lithuania, the Slogan of “national self-determination”:

“Instead of covering this imperialist war with a lying mantle of national self-defence, social democracy should have demanded the right of national self-determination seriously,”

(R. Luxemburg: ibid.; p. 311-12).

Lenin replied to Rosa Luxemburg’s pamphlet in his article “The Pamphlet by Junius”, published in August 1916:

“We find the same error in Junius’ arguments about which is better, victory or defeat? His conclusion is that both are equally bad. . . This is the point of view not of the revolutionary proletariat, but of the pacifist petty bourgeois.. . . Another fallacious argument advanced by Junius is in connection with the question of defence of the fatherland. Junius . . falls into the very strange error of trying to drag a national programme into the present non-national war. It sounds almost incredible, but it is true.

He proposes to ‘oppose’ the imperialist war with a national programme.”

(V. I. Lenin: “The Pamphlet by Junius”; in: “Collected ‘Works’, Volume 19; London; 1942; p. 212, 207, 209).

True, Rosa Luxemburg, unlike the open social-chauvinists, supported the concept of class struggle against one’s own government during the war, not, however, in relation to the slogan of “turn the imperialist war into civil war”, but as “the best defence against a foreign enemy”:

“The centuries have proven that not the state of siege, but relentless class struggle . . is the best protection and the best defence against a foreign enemy.”

(R. Luxemburg: ibid.; p. 304).

Lenin commented:

“In saying that class struggle is the best means of defence against invasian, Junius applied Marxian dialectics only half way, taking one step on the right road and immediately deviating from it. . . Civil war against the bourgeoisie is also a form of class struggle, and only this form of class struggle would have saved Europe (the whole of Europe, not only one country) from the peril of invasion.

Junius came very close to the correct solution of the problem and to the correct slogan: civil war against the bourgeoisi for socialism; but, as if afraid to speak the whole truth, he turned back to the phantasy of a ‘national war’ in 1914, 1915 and 1916. . ..

Junius has not completely rid himself of the ‘environment’ of the German Social-Democrats, even the Lefts, who are afraid to follow revolutionary slogans to their logical conclusion.”

(V. I. Lenin: ibid.; p. 210, 212).

The Struggle against National Self-Determination

The manifesto drafted by Trotsky which was adopted by the International Socialist Conference at Zimmerwald (Switzerland) in September 1915, recognised the right of self-determination of nations as an “indestructible principle”:

“The right of self-determination of nations must be the indestructible principle in the system of national relationships of peoples.”

(Manifesto of the International Socialist Conference at Zimmerwald, September 1915, in: V. I. Lenin: “Collective Works” , Volume 18, London; n .d.; p. 475)

The Polish delegation at the conference (consisting of Karl Radek, Adolf Warski and Jacob Ganetsky) opposed recognition of the right of self determination of nations, but submitted a declaration on the national question which, in fact, recognised the right of self-determination of Poland, since it declared that the international working class:

“Will break the fetters of national oppression and abolish all forms of foreign domination, and secure for the Polish people the possibility of all-sided, free development as an equal member in a League of Nations.”

(Bulletin of the International Socialist Committee in Berne, No. 2; September 27th., 1915; p. 15).

Lenin commented on this declaration:

“There is no material difference between these postulates and the recognition of the right of nations to self-determination, except that their political formulation is still more diffuse and vague than the majority of the programmes and resolutions of the Second International. Any attempt to express these ideas in precise political formulae . . will prove still more strikingly the error committed by the Polish Social-Democrats in repudiating the self-determination of nations”

(V. I. Lenin: “The Socialist Revolution and the Right of Nations to Self-Determination”; in: “Selected Works’, Volume 5; London; 1935; p. 279-80).

In October 1915 Karl Radek (under the pseudonym “Parabellum” wrote an article in the “Berner Tagwacht” (Berne Morning Watch entitled “Annexations and Social-Democracy,” in which, on behalf of the leadership of the Social-Democratic Party of the Kingdom of Poland and Lithuania, he declared that:

“We are opposed to annexations.”

(K. Radek: “Annexations and Social-Democracy; cited in: V. I. Lenin: “The Revolutionary Proletariat and the Right of Nations to Self-Determination”, in: “Selected Works”, Volume 5; London; 1935; p. 282).

but denounced the:

“Struggle for the non-existent right to self-determination.”

(K. Radek: ibid; p. 282).

Lenin replied to Radek in November 1915 in his article “The Revolutionary Proletariat and the Right of Nations to Self-Determination”:

“Our ‘struggle against annexations’ will be meaningless and not at all terrifying to the social-patriots if we do not declare that the Socialist of an oppressing nation who does not conduct propaganda, both in peace time and war time, in favour of the freedom of secession for the oppressed nations is not a Socialist and not an internationalist, but a chauvinist.”‘

(V. I. Lenin: “The Revolutionary Proletariat and the Right of Nations to Self-Determination”, in: ‘Selected Works, Volume 5; London; 1935; p. 287).

In November 1915 Nikolai Bukharin and Grigori Pyatakov sent to the Central Committee of the RSDLP the theses, “The Slogan of the Right of Nations to Self-Determination,” written by Bukharin. The theses concluded:

“We do not under any circumstances support the government of the Great Power that suppresses the rebellion or the outburst of indignatien of an oppressed nation; but at the same time, we ourselves do not mobilise the proletarian forces under the slogan ‘right of nations to self-determination’. In such a case, our task is to mobilise the forces of the proletariat of both nations (jointly with others) under the slogan ‘civil class war for socialism’, and conduct propaganda against the mobilisation of the forces under the slogan ‘right of nations to self-determination.'”

(N. Bukharin: “The slogan of the Right of Nations to Self-Determination”, cited in: V.I. Lenin: ‘Selected Works’, Volume 5; London; 1935; p. 379-80).

Lenin replied to Bukharin’s theses in March 1916 with theses of his own, entitled “The Socialist Revolution and the Right of Nations to Self-Determination”;

“Victorious socialism must achieve complete democracy and, consequently, not only bring about the complete equality of nations, but also give effect to the right of oppressed nations to self-determination, i.e. the right to free political secession. Socialist Parties which fail to prove by all their activities now, as well as during the revolution and after its victory, that they will free the enslaved nations and establish relations with them on the basis of free union — a free union is a lying phrase without right to secession — such parties are committing treachery to socialism”.

(V. I. Lenin: “The Socialist Revolution and the Right of Nations to Self-Determination”, in: ‘Selected Works’, Volume 5; London; 1935 p. 267).

Rosa Luxemburg, writing under the psedonym “Junius” in the pamphlet, “The Crisis of German Social-Democracy,” published in April 1916, declared that wars of national liberation were impossible under imperialism:

“In the present imperialistic milieu there can be no wars of national self-defence.”

(R. Luxemburg: ‘The Crisis of German Social-Democracy,” in: “Rosa Luxemburg Speaks”; New York; 1970; p. 305).

Lenin commented in “The Pamphlet by Junius,” published in August 1916:

“National wars waged by colonial and semi-eolonial countries are not only possible but inevitable in the epoch of imperialism.

National wars must not be regarded as impossible in the epoch of imperialism even in Europe.

The postulate that ‘there can be no more national wars’ is obviously fallacious in theory. . . But this fallacy is also very harmful in a practical political sense; it gives rise to the stupid propaganda for ‘disarmament’, as if no other war but reactionary wars are possible; it is the cause of the still more stupid and downright reactionary indifference towards national movements. Such indifference becomes chauvinism when members of ‘Great’ European nations, i.e., nations which oppress a mass of small and colonial peoples, declare with a learned air that ‘there can be no more national wars.”’

(V. I. Lenin: “The Pamphlet by Junius”, in: “Collected Works”, Volume 19; London 1942; p. 204, 205, 206).

In August 1916 Grigori Pyatakov wrote, under the pseudonyn “P. Kievsky,” an article entitled: “The Proletariat and the Right of Nations to Self-Determination.” In this article, which was not published, Pyatakov denounced the slogan of the right of nations to self-determination on the grounds that:

“This demand leads directly to social-patriotism.”

(G. Pyatakov: “The Proletariat and the Right of Nations to Self Determination, cited in: V. I. Lenin: “A Caricature of Marxism and ‘Imperialist Economism’” in Ibid; “Collected Works”, Volume 19; London 1942; p. 216).

Lenin replied to Pyatakov’s argument in a long article “A Caricature of Marxism and ‘lmperialist Economics,’” written in October 1916 but not published until 1924:

“In the present imperialist war, . . phrases about defence of the fatherland are deception of the people, for this war is not a national war. In a truly national war the words ‘defence of the fatherland’ are deception, and we are not opposed to such a war.”

(V. I. Lenin: “Caricature of Marxism and ‘Imperialist Economism”, in ibid.; p. 217).

Pyatakov insisted:

“With regard to the colonies, we confine ourselves to a negative slogan, i.e., . . “Get out of the colonies.'”

(G. Pyatakov: ibid.; p. 251)

And Lenin replied:

“Both the political and the economic content of the slogan ‘Get out of the colonies!” amounts to one thing. . Only: freedom of secession for the colonial nations; freedom to establish a separate state.”

(V. I. Lenin: ibid; p. 252).

The theoretical basis of Pyatakov’s opposition to national self-determination is summarised in his declaration that:

“. . dualistic propaganda is substituted for the monistic action of the International.”

(G. Pyatakov: ibid.; p. 241).

To which Lenin replied:

“Is the actual condition of the workers in the oppressing nations the same as that of the workers in the oppressed nations from the standpoint of the national problem? No, they are not the same. . .That being the case, what is to be said about P. Kievsky’s phrase: the ‘monistic’ action of the International?

It is an empty, sonorous phrase, and nothing more.

In order that the action of the International, which in real life consists of workers who are divided into those belonging to oppressing nations and those belonging to oppressing nations, may be monistic action, propaganda must be carried on differently in each case.”

(V. I. Lenin: Ibid; p. 242-3)

This “dualistic propaganda” had already been described by Lenin:

“The Social-Democrats of the oppressing notions must demand the freedom of secession for the oppressed notions,. . The Social-Democrats of the oppressed nations, however, must put in the forefront the unity and the fusion of the workers of the oppressed nations with the workers of the oppressing nations.”

(V. I. Lenin: “The Revolutionary Proletariat And the Right of Nations to Self-Determination”, in: “Selected Works”, Volume 5; London 1935; p. 284)

Lenin’s summary of Pyatakov’s article was devastating:

“P. Kievsky. . totally fails to understand Marxism.
Kievsky does not advance a single correct argument. The only thing that is correct in his article, that is, if there are no mistakes in the figures, is the footnote in which he quotes some statistics about banks.”

(V. I. Lenin: A Caricature of Marxism and ‘Imperialist Economism'”, in: “Collected Works”, Volume 19; London; 1942; p. 218, 262).

In this struggle between the advocates of the right of self-determination of nations and its opponents, Trotsky adopted a characteristically centrist position: hypocritical support for the slogan but without support for its essential content, the right of secession:

“Trotsky . . is body and soul for self-determination, but in his case too it is an idle phrase, for he does not demand freedom of secession for nations oppressed by the “fatherland” of the socialist of the given nationality.”

(V. I. Lenin: “The ‘Peace Programme”, in “Collected Works”, Volume 19 London 1942; p. 66).

“The Kautskyists hypocritically recognise self-determination – -in Russia this is the road taken by Trotsky and Martov. In words, both declare that they are in favour of self-determination, as Kautsky does. But in practice? Trotsky engages in his customary eclecticism. . . The prevailing hypocrisy remains unexposed, . .. namely, the attitude to be adopted towards the nation that is oppressed by ‘my’ nation. . . .

A Russian Social-Democrat who ‘recognises’ self-determination of nations . . without fighting for freedom of Secession for the notions oppressed by tsarism is really an imperialist and a lackey of tsarism.

Whatever the subjective ‘well-meaning’ intentions of Trotsky and Martov may be, they, by their evasions, objectively support Russian social-imperialism.”

(V. I. Lenin: ‘The Discussion on Self-Determination Summed Up’, in: ‘Collected Works’, Volume 19; London; 1942; p. 305)

Trotsky’s Conciliationism

Lenin stood firmly for the organisational separation of revolutionary internationalism from both open and concealed (ie. Centrist) social-chauvinism:

“To keep united with opportunism at the present time means precisely to subjugate the working class to ‘its’ bourgeoisie, to make an alliance with it for the oppression of other nations and for the struggle for the privileges of a great nation; at the same time it means splitting the revolutionary proletariat of all countries.”

(V. I. Lenin: ‘Socialism and War’, in: ‘Collected Works’, Volume 18; London; n.d.; p. 230-1).

“We must declare the idea of unity with the Organisation Committee an illusion detrimental to the workers’ cause.”

(V. I. Lenin: ‘And Now What?”, in: ibid.; p. 109).

“We shall not be for unity with Chkheidze’s fraction (as desired both by Trotsky, by the 0rgansation Committee, and by Plekhanov and Co.; . for this would mean to cover up and defend the ‘Nashe Dyelo.”

(V. I. Lenin: Letter to Aleksendro Kollontai, summer 1915, in: ibid.; p. 208).

In contrast to Lenin, Trotsky stood consistently for the unity of what he termed the “internationalist” groups, a category which included the concealed social-chauvinists of the Centre (the Organisation Committee, the Menshevik Duma fraction and the group around Trotsky).

At the beginning of 1915, “Nashe Slovo” addressed an appeal to the Bolshevik Central Committee and to the Menshevik Organisation Committee proposing a conference of all the groups which took a “negative attitude’ towards social-chauvinism. In its reply, dated March 1915, the Organisation Committee said:

‘To the conference must be invited the foreign representatives of all those party centres and groups which were . . present at the Brussels Conference of the International Socialist Bureau before the war.’

(Letter of Organisation Committee, March 12th., 1915, cited in: V. I. Lenin: The Question of the Unity of Internationalists”, in: “Collected Works”, Volume 18; London; n.d.; p. 177).

Lenin commented:

“Thus, the Organisation Committee declines on principle to confer with the internationalists, since it wishes to confer also with the social-patriots (it is known that Plekhanov’s and Alexinsky’s policies were represented at Brussels).

We must not confer, it says, without the social-patriots, we must confer with them!”

(V. I. Lenin: ibid.; p. 177, 178).

Nevertheless, Trotsky continued his efforts to bring about organisational unity between the Bolsheviks end the concealed social-chauvinists of the Centre. In June 1915 Trotsky wrote an Open Letter to the editors of the Bolshevik magazine “Kommunist”: published in No. 105 of “Nashe Slovo” in which he said:

“I am proud of the conduct of our Duma members (the Chkheidze group); I regard them as the most important agency of internationalist education of the proletariat in Russia, and for that very reason I deem it the task of every revolutionary Social-Democrat to extend to them every support and to raise their authority in the International.”

(L. Trotsky: Open Letter to the Editors of “Kommunist”, cited in: V. I. Lenin: “Collected Works”, Volume 18; London; n.d., p. 435)

Lenin commented on Trotsky’s unprincipled conciliationism in various articles:

“The elements that are grouped around the ‘Nashe Slovo’ are vacillating between platonic sympathy for internationalism and a tendency for unity at any price with the “Nasha Zarya” and the Organisation Committee.”

(V. I. Lenin: “Conference of the Foreign Sections of the RSDLP”, in: Collected Works, Volume 18; London; n .d.; p.150).

“‘Nashe Slovo’ . . raises a revolt against social-nationalism while standing on its knees before it, since it fails to unmask the most dangerous defenders of the bourgeois current (like Kautsky); it does not declare war against opportunism but, on the contrary, passes it over in silence; it does not undertake, and does not point out, any real steps towards liberating socialism from its shameful patriotic captivity. By saying that neither unity nor a split with those who joined the bourgeoisie is imperative, the ‘Nashe Slovo’ practically surrenders to the opportunists.”

(V. I. Lenin: “The Collapse of Platonic Internationalism”, in: ibid.; p.183).

“Trotsky always, entirely disagrees with the social-chauvinists in principle, but agrees with them in everything in practice.”

(V. I. Lenin: ‘State of Affairs within Russian Social-Democracy”, in: Ibid.; p. 205-6).

“We shall not be for unity with Chkheidze’s fraction (As desired . .by Trotsky . .) for this would mean to cover up and defend the ‘Nashe Dyelo’…
Roland-Holst, as well as Rakovsky . .and Trotsky too, are in my judgment all most harmful ‘Kautskyists’, inasmuch as they are all, in one form or another, for unity with the opportunists, . . are embellishing opportunism, they all (each in his way) advance eclecticism instead of revolutionary Marxism.”

(V. I. Lenin: Letters to Aleksandra Kollontai, summer 1915, in: ibid.; p. 208, 209).

“In Russia Trotsky . . fights for unity with the opportunist and chauvinist group “Nashe Zarya.'”

(V. I. Lenin: ‘Socialism and War”, in: ibid.; p.232).

“Martov and Trotsky in Russia are causing the greatest harm to the labour movement by their insistence upon a fictitious unity, thus hindering, the now ripened imminent unification of the opposition in all countries and the creation of the Third International.”

(V. I. Lenin: ‘The Tasks of the Opposition in France”, in: ‘Collected Works”, Volume 19; London; 1942; p. 32).

“What are our differences with Trotsky?. . In brief — he is a Kautskyite, that is, he stands for unity with the Kautskyites in the International and with Chkheidze’s parliamentary group in Russia. We are absolutely against such unity.”

(V. I. Lenin: Letter to Henrietta Roland-Holst, Morch 8th., 1916, in: “Collected Works”, Volume 43; Moscow; 1969; p. 515-16).

“What a swine this Trotsky is — Left phrases and a bloc with the Right. . . He ought to be exposed.”

(V. I. Lenin: Letter to Aleksendra Kollontai, February 17th., 1917, in: “Collected Works”, Volume 35; Moscow, 1966; p. 285).

Kamenev’s Defence

In November 1915 eleven leading members of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party, including five deputies, were arrested at a conference near Petrograd and charged with being members of an organisation aiming at the overthrow of the existing political order.

At their trial Lev Kamenev and two of the deputies declared in their defence that they did not accept the policy of the Party in so for as it enjoined members to work for the defeat of Russia in the war.

Lenin commented:

“The trial of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Fraction . . has proven first, that this advanced detachment of revolutionary Social-Democracy in Russia did not show sufficient firmness at the trial. . To attempt to show solidarity with the social-patriot, Mr. Yordansky, as did Comrade Rosenfeld (i.e., Kamenev –Ed.) or to point out one’s disagreement with the Central Committee, is an incorrect method; this is impermissible from the standpoint of revolutionary Social-Democracy.”

(V. I. Lenin: “What has the Trial of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Fraction Proven?”, in: “Works”, Volume 18; Moscow; n.d.; p. 151)

1916: The Attempt to Introduce Anarchist Ideas into the Party

In 1916 Nikolai Bukharin wrote, under the pseudonym “Nota Bene,” an article entitled ‘The Imperialist Predatory State” in the magazine “The Youth International” (organ of the Bureau of the International League of Socialist Youth Organisations) , in which he said:

“It is quite a mistake to seek the difference between Socialists and anarchists in the fact that the former are in favour of the state while the latter are against it. The real difference is that revolutionary Social-Democracy desires to organise social production on new lines, centralised, . . whereas decentralised, anarchist production would mean retrogression. . . .Social-Democracy. . must now more than ever emphasise its hostility to the state in principle.”

(N. Bukharin: “The Imperialist Predatory State”, cited in: V. I. Lenin; ‘The Youth International”, in: Selected Works”, Volume 5; London; 1935; p. 243, 244).

To which Lenin replied:

“This is wrong. The author raises the question of the difference in the attitude of Socialists and anarchists towards the state, But he does not answer this question, but another, namely the difference in the attitude of Socialists and anarchists towards the economic foundation of future society. . . The Socialists are in favour of utilising the present state and its institutions in the struggle for the emancipation of the working class, and they also urge the necessity of utilising the State for the peculiar form of transition from capitalism to socialism. This transitional form is the dictatorship of the proletariat, which is also a state.
The anarchists want to ‘abolish’ the state, to ‘blow it up’.

The Socialists . . hold that the state will die out.
Comrade Nota-Bene’s . . remark about the ‘state idea’ is entirely muddled. It is un-Marxian and un-socialistic.”

(V. I. Lenin: “The Youth International’, in: ibid.; p. 243, 244).

In April 1929 Stalin commented:

“The well-known theoretical controversy which flared up in 1916 between Lenin and Bukharin on the question of the state . . is important in order to reveal Bukharin’s inordinate pretensions to teach Lenin, as well as the roots of his theoretical unsoundness on such important questions as the dictatorship of the proletariat. . . .Bukharin landed in a semi-Anarchist puddle.

In Bukharin’s opinion the working class should be hostile in principle to the state as such, including the working-class state.”

(J.V. Stalin: “The Right Deviation in the CPSU (B.)”, in: “Leninism”; London; 1942; p. 276, 277).

1916-1917: Trotsky Goes to America

In September 1916 the French authorities, at the request of the tsarist government, banned “Nashe Slovo” and deported Trotsky to Spain. Although he did not participate in any political activity in Spain, after a few days he was arrested by the Spanish police and, in December, deported to the United States. He arrived in New York in January 1917.

The Assassination of Rasputin

During the war great influence was exercised over the tsar and tsarina by the monk Grigori Rasputin. In December 1916 a group of nobles, headed by the Grand Duke Dimitri Pavlovich, organised the assassination of Rasputin, believing that his influence was being used against the war effort.

1917: Trotsky in America

In January 1917 Trotsky landed in New York, and joined the staff of a Russian magazine published there under the editorship of Nikolai Bukharin and Aleksandra Kollontai, -“Novy Nir” (New World). Typically, he formed a bloc with the right-wing members of the staff against the Left:

“Trotsky arrived, and this scoundrel at once ganged up with the Right wing of ‘Novy Mir’ against the Left Zimmerwaldists!! That’s it!! That’s Trotsky for you!! Always true to himself – twists, swindles, poses as a Left, helps the Right, so long as he can.”

(V. I. Lenin: Letter to Inessa Armand, February 19th., 1917, in: ‘Collected Works’, Volume 35; Moscow; 1966; p.288)

In “Navy Mir,” Trotsky continued to put forward his theory of “permanent revolution,” arguing that if the German working class failed to rise along with the Russian working class, the workers’ government of a revolutionary Russia must wage war against the German ruling class:

“If the conservative social-patriotic organisation should prevent the German working class from rising against its ruling classes in the coming epoch, then of course the Russian working class would defend its revolution with arms in its hands. The revolutionary workers’ government would wage war against the Hohenzollerns, summoning the brother proletariat of Germany to rise against the common enemy.”

(L. Trotsky: Article in “Novy Mir”, March 21st., 1917, cited in: L. Trotsky: “History of the Russian Revolution”; Volume 1; London; 1967; p. 438).

The “February Revolution”

From the first days of 1917 strikes spread throughout the main cities of tsarist Russia. By March 10th; these had developed in Petrograd into a political general strike, with the demonstrating workers carrying Bolshevik slogans: “‘Down with the tsar!,” “Down with the war!” and “Bread!”

The practical work of the Bolshevik Party in Russia at this time was directed by the Bureau of the Central Committee, headed by Vyacheslav Molotov. On March 11th. the Bureau issued a manifesto calling for an armed uprising against tsarism and the formation of a Provisional-Government.

On March 12th; an elected Soviet of Workers’ Deputies came into being in Petrograd as an action committee to carry out the uprising and in the following days Soviets were established in Moscow and other cities. On March 13th, the Petrograd Soviet revived its “Izvestia” (“News”).

When the tsar ordered troops to suppress the rising by force, the soldiers — mostly peasant in uniform — refused to obey the orders of their officers and joined the revolutionary workers, thus bringing into being a revolutionary alliance of workers and peasants. The workers and soldiers now began to disarm the police and to arm themselves with their weapons. On March 14th, the Petrograd Soviet was expanded into a “Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies.”

On March 15th. the tsar, Nicholas II, abdicated.

The revolution of March 1917 (known as the “February Revolution” under the old-style calendar) had been accomplished by the workers and peasants. Its character was that of a bourgeois-democratic revolution directed against the tsarist autocracy.

The Formation of the Provisional Government

As soon as the capitalist class realised that the bourgeois-democratic revolution was unavoidable, they proceeded to manoeuvre in an effort to minimise its scope — and above all to prevent its development into a socialist revolution.

On March 12th., the day after the tsar had dissolved the Fourth State Duma, its liberal capitalist members set up an “Executive Committee of the Imperial Duma,” headed by the President of the Duma, the monarchist landlord Mikhail Rodzyanko.

On March 15th, this Executive Committee set up a “Provisional-Government,” headed by Prince Georgi Lvov as Prime Minister and including among its Ministers Pavel Miliukov (leader of the Constitutional Democrats) as Minister of Foreign Affairs, Aleksendr Guchkov (leader of the Octobrists) as Minister of War, and Aleksandr Karensky (a prominent Socialist-Revolutionary) as Minister of Justice.

The capitalist class endeavoured for a few days to save the monarchy, by persuading the tsar to abdicate in favour of his brother Mikhail. But this proved untenable in view of popular feeling against the monarchy, and Mikhail abdicated on the following day, March 16th.

The capitalists then turned their efforts to attempting to turn Russia into a capitalist parliamentary republic.

On March 17th. the new government issued a manifesto “To the Citizens”; setting out its programme:

“1. Complete and immediate amnesty for all political and religious offences, including terrorist acts, military revolts, agrarian insurrections, etc.

2.Freedom of speech, press, assembly, union, strikes, and the extension of all political liberties to persons in the military service within the limits required by considerations of technical military necessity.

3. Abolition of all feudal estate and national restrictions.

4. Immediate preparation for the convocation of a Constituent Assembly on the basis of universal, equal, direct and secret suffrage. This Constituent Assembly shall determine the form of State and the constitution of the country.

5. Formation of a people’s militia with elected officers subordinated to the organs of local self-government and taking the place of the police.

6. Elections to the local organs of self-government on the basis of universal, equal, direct and secret suffrage.

7. The troops who participated in the revolutionary movement are not to be disarmed and are to remain in Petrograd.

8. While maintaining a rigid military discipline in the service, all obstacles are to be eliminated preventing soldiers from exercising the public rights enjoyed by other citizens.”

(Manifesto of Provisional Government, May 17th., 1917, cited in: V. I. Lenin: Collected Works, Volume 20, Book 1; London; 1929; p. 348)

Lenin commented:

“In its first proclamation to the people (March 17), the government uttered not a word about the main and basic question of the present moment, peace. It keeps secret the predatory treaties made by tsarism with England, France, Italy, Japan, etc. It wishes to conceal from the people the truth about its war programme, and the fact that it is for war, for victory over Germany. . . . The new government cannot give the people bread. And no amount of freedom will satisfy masses suffering hunger…

The entire Manifesto of the new government . . .inspires me with the greatest distrust, for it consists only of promises, and does not carry into life any of the most essential measures that could and should be fully realised right now”

(V. I. Lenin: Theses of March 17th, 1917; in ibid; p.24, 25).

The Role of the Petrograd Soviet

Although there was a large spontaneous element in the “February Revolution,” the Bolsheviks, played a leading role in the uprising itself. Despite this, in the majority of cases a majority of the members of the Soviets and of their Executive Committees were Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries; the Bolsheviks were, in the period following the “February Revolution” in a small minority in most of the Soviets, including those of Petrograd and Moscow.

A number of factors were responsible for this position: the industrial working class had been diluted during the war by large numbers of peasants from the villages, while Bolshevik leaders such as Lenin and Stalin were in exile.

As a result of this, on March 18th. the Executive Committee of the Petrograd Soviet issued a proclamation calling upon the workers to support the capitalist Provisional Government. Lenin commented:

“The proclamation issued by the Soviet of Workers’ Deputies … is a most remarkable document. It proves that the Petrograd proletariat, at the time it issued its proclamation, at any rate, was under the preponderant influence of the petty-bourgeois politicians.

The proclamation declares that every democrat must ‘support’ the new government and that the Soviet of Workers’ Deputies requests and authorises Kerensky to participate in the Provisional Government. . .These steps are a classic example of betrayal of the cause of the revolution and the cause of the proletariat.”

(V. I. Lenin: “Letters from Afar”‘, in: ibid.; p. 41, 42).

At the same time the Executive Committee of the Petrograd Soviet set up a “Contact Commission,” headed by Aleksandr Skobolev, the official aim of which was to maintain contact with, and “control”, the Provisional Government.

Lenin summed up the political situation resulting from the February Revolution in the following words:

“The first stage of the revolution . . , owing to the insufficient class consciousness and organisation of the proletariat, led to the assumption of power by the bourgeoisie.”

(V. I. Lenin: “The Tasks of the Proletariat in the Present Revolution”, in: “Selected Works”, Volume 6; London; 1946; p. 22).

The Political Line Of the Party in March 1917

The victory of the “February Revolution” created a new political situation in Russia which called for a new political line on the part of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party.

As Stalin expressed it in November 1924:

“This was the greatest turning point in the history of Russia and an unprecedented turning point in the history Of our Party. The old, pre-revolutionary platform Of direct overthrow of the government was clear and definite, but it was no longer suitable for the new conditions of struggle . . Under the now conditions of the struggle, the Party hod to adopt a new orientation. The Party (its majority) groped its way towards this new orientation.”

(J. V. Stalin “Trotskyism or Leninism?”; in Works Volume 6; Moscow; 1953); p. 347, 348).

At the time of the “February Revolution” the Bureau of the Control Committee of the RSDLP, centred in Petrograd, was led by Vyacheslav Molotov.

On March 18th., 1917 the Bureau issued, in the name of the Central Committee, a manifesto to “All Citizens of Russia,” calling for the formation of a Provisional Revolutionary Government.

“Citizens! The fortresses of Russian tsarism have.. fallen. . . . It is the task of the working class and the revolutionary army to create a Provisional Revolutionary Government which is to head the new republican order now in the process of birth.

The Provisional Revolutionary Government must take it upon itself to create temporary laws defending all the rights and liberties of the people, to confiscate the lands of the monasteries and the landowners, the crown lands and the appanages, to introduce the 8-hour working day and to convoke a Constituent Assembly on the basis a universal, direct and equal suffrage, with no discrimination as to sex, nationality or religion, and with the secret ballot.
The Provisional Revolutionary Government must take it upon itself to secure provisions for the population and the army; for this purpose it must confiscate all the stores prepared by the former government and the municipalities…..
It is the task of the people and its revolutionary government to suppress all counter-revolutionary plots against the people.

It is the immediate and urgent task of the Provisional Revolutionary Government to establish relations with the proletariat of the belligerent countries for the purpose 0f . . terminating the bloody war carnage imposed upon the enslaved peoples against their will.

The workers of shops and factories, also the rising troops, must immediately elect their representatives to the Provisional Revolutionary Government. . .
Forward under the red banner of the revolution!

Long live the Democratic Republic!
Long live the revolutionary working class!
Long live the revolutionary people and the insurgent army!”

(Manifesto of CC, RSDLP, March 18th., 1917, cited in: V. I. Lenin: “Collected Works”; Volume 20, Book 2; London; 1929; p. 378-79).

The manifesto was published in the first issue of “Pravda,” which reappeared on the same day.

Among the Bolsheviks liberated from exile in Siberia by the “February Revolution” were Josef Stalin and Lev Kamenev, both of whom returned to Petrograd. Kamenev joined the editorial board of “Pravda” on March 23rd., Stalin two days later on March 28th.

Kamenev immediately upheld a chauvinist line on the war, contending like the Menshevik leaders that with the victory of the “February Revolution” the working class should adopt a position of “revolutionary defencism.” He wrote in “Pravda” of March 28th:

“The soldiers, the peasants and the workers of Russia who went to war obeying the pull of the now overthrown Tsar. . have freed themselves; the Tsar’s banners have been replaced by the red banners of the revolution!. . .

When an army faces an army, it would be the most absurd policy to propose to one of them to lay down arms and go home. This . .would be a policy of slavery which a free people would repudiate with scorn. No, we will firmly hold our posts, we will answer a bullet by a bullet and a shell with a shell. . . .

A revolutionary soldier or officer, having overthrown the yoke of tsarism, will not vacate a trench to leave it to a German soldier or officer who has not mustered up courage to overthrow the yoke of his own government. We must not allow any disorganisation of the military forces of the revolution! ….

Russia is bound by alliances to England, France and other countries. It cannot act on the questions of peace without them.”

(L. Kamenev: “Without Secret Diplomacy”; cited in “Collected Works”, Volume 20, Book 2; London; 1929, p. 379; 380).

Stalin rejected this policy of chauvinist “revolutionary defencism.” He wrote in “Pravda” on the following day, March 29th :

“The present war is an imperialist war. Its principal aim is the seizure (annexation) of foreign, chiefly agrarian, territories by capitalistically developed states.. . .

It would be deplorable if the Russian revolutionary democracy, which was able to overthrow the detested tsarist regime, were to succumb to the false alarm raised by the imperialist bourgeoisie”.

(J. V. Stalin: “The War”, in: “Works”; Volume 3; Moscow; 1953; p.5; 7).

The majority of the Bureau, headed by Stalin and Molotov, correctly saw the Provisional Government as an organ of the capitalist class, and the Soviets as the embryo of a Provisional Government. A resolution of the Bureau published in “Pravda” on April 8th declared:

“The Provisional Government set up by the moderate bourgeois classes of society and associated in interests with Anglo-French capital is incapable of solving the problems raised by the revolution. Its resistance to the further extension and deepening of the revolution is being paralysed only by the growth of the revolutionary forces themselves and by their organisation. Their rallying centre must be the Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies in the cities and the Soviets of Peasants’ and Agricultural Workers’ Deputies in the countryside as the embryo of a revolutionary government, prepared in the further process of development, at a definite moment of the revolution, to establish the full power of the proletariat in alliance with the revolutionary democracy.”

(Resolution of Bureau of CC, RSDLP; cited in: N. Popov: “Outline History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union”‘, Part 1; London; n .d.; p. 353-54).

However, in “groping” towards a correct political line in the new situation, the majority of the Bureau made a tactical error. Instead of putting forward the clear slogan of “All power to the Soviets!’, they adopted a policy of “putting pressure on the Provisional Government” to perform actions which, as an organ of the capital class, it was incapable of doing:

“The solution is to bring pressure on the Provisional Government to make it declare its consent to start peace negotiations irnmediately.

The workers, soldiers and peasants must arrange meetings and demonstrations and demand that the Provisional Government shall come out openly and publicly in an effort to induce all the belligerent powers to start peace negotiations immediately, on the basis of recognition of the right of nations to self-determination.”

(J. V. Stalin: ibid.; p. 8).

On which Lenin commented forthrightly the day after his return to Russia:

“The “Pravda” demands that the government renounce annexations. To demand that a government of capitalists renounce annexations is balderdash.”

(V. I. Lenin Speech at a Caucus of the Bolshevik Members of the All-Russian Conference of the Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies, April 17, 1917, in Collected Works”, Volume 20, Book 1; London; 1929; p. 98).

This incorrect tactical line corresponded closely with the tactical line of Kamenev, who said:

“Our slogan is — pressure on the Provisional Government with the aim of forcing it openly, before world democracy, and immediately to come forth with an attempt to induce all the belligerent countries forthwith to start negotiations concerning the means of stopping the World War.”

(L. Kamenev: “Without Secret Diplomacy”, cited in: V. I. Lenin: “Collected Works”; Volume 20, Book 2; London; 1929; p. 380).

Stalin himself analysed this mistaken tactical policy in November 1924:

“The Party (its majority) groped its way towards this new orientation. It adopted the policy of pressure on the Provisional Government through the Soviets on the question of peace and did not venture to step forward at once from the old slogan of the dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry to the new slogan of power to the Soviets. The aim of this halfway policy was to enable the Soviets to discern the actual imperialist nature of the Provisional Government on the basis of the concrete questions of peace and in this way to wrest the Soviets from the Provisional Government. But this was a profoundly mistaken position, for it gave rise to pacifist illusions, brought grist to the mill of defencism, and hindered the revolutionary education of the masses. At that time I shared this mistaken position with the Party comrades and fully abandoned it only in the middle of April, when I associated myself with Lenin’s theses.”

(J. V. Stalin: “Trotskyism or Leninism” , in: Works”, Volume 3; Moscow; 1953; p. 348).

Lenin Returns to Russia

As soon as the “February Revolution” broke out, Lenin began attempts to return to Russia. The governments of the Allied powers refused him permission to travel through their countries but eventually, as a result of negotiations between Fritz Platten, Secretary of the Swiss Socialist Party, and the German government, 32 Russian political emigres (19 of which were Bolsheviks, among them Lenin) were permitted to travel through Germany in a sealed railway carriage accorded extra-territorial rights. The German government, of course, calculated that the return of these revolutionaries to Russia would be detrimental to the Russian war effort.

Lenin arrived in Petrograd on the evening of April 16th; and was greeted by an enthusiastic crowd of workers and soldiers.

On the following day he reported to the Executive Committee of the Petrograd Soviet on the circumstances of his journey through Germany.

Lenin’s “April Theses”

Later on April 17th., Lenin spoke at a meeting of the Bolshevik delegates to the First Congress of Soviets, presenting his theses on the new situation in Russia following the “February Revolution” — the “April Theses.” The main points of these theses were as follows:

1. The “February Revolution” has brought into being the democratic dictatorship of the working class and peasantry in the shape of the Soviets of Workers’and Soldiers’ Deputies.

“The Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies’ — here you have ‘revolutionary-democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry’ already realised in life.”

(V. I. Lenin: “Letters on Tactics”; in ‘Collected Works”, Volume 20, Book 1; London; 1929; p. 120).

2. But alongside the Soviets there came into being out of the “February Revolution” the Provisional Government, representing the interests of the capitalist class.

‘The Provisional Government of Lvov and Co. is a dictatorship . . based . . on seizure by force accomplished by a definite class, namely, the bourgeoisie.”

(V. I. Lenin: “The Tasks of the Proletariat in Our Revolution”., in: ibid.; p. 133).

3. Thus, out of the “February Revolution” has arisen a temporary condition of dual power, of two rival governments.

“What has made our revolution so strikingly unique is that it has established dual power . . . What constitutes dual power? The fact that by the side of the Provisional Government, the government of the bourgeoisie, there has developed another, as yet weak; embryonic, but undoubtedly real and growing government — the Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies.”

(V. I. Lenin: “On Dual Power”, in: ibid.; p. 115).

“There is not the slightest doubt but that such a combination cannot last long. There can be no two powers in a state. One of them is bound to dwindle to nothing, and the entire Russian bourgeoisie is already straining all its energies everywhere and in every possible way in an endeavour to weaken, to set aside, to reduce to nothing the Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies, to create one single power for the bourgeoisie.'”

(V. I. Lenin: “The Tasks of the Proletariat in Our Revolution”; in: ibid.;p. 133)

4. Despite its weakness, it is the democratic dictatorship of the working class and peasantry (the Soviet embryonic government) which alone at present possesses effective machinery of force (in the shape of the armed workers and revolutionary soldiers).

“In Petrograd the power is actually in the hands of the workers and soldiers; the new government does not use violence against them, and cannot do so because there is no police, there is no army seperated from the people, there is no all-powerful officialdom placed above the people.”

(V. I. Lenin “‘Letters on Tactics”, in ibid.; p. 121).

5. Nevertheless, the leaders of the Soviets are placing this machinery of force at the disposal of the Provisional Government, and seeking to liquidate the democratic dictatorship of the working-class and peasantry.

“By direct agreements with the bourgeois Provisional Government and by a series of actual concessions to the latter, the Soviet power has surrendered and is surrendering its position to the bourgeoisie.”

(V. I. Lenin “On Dual Power, in ibid.; p. 116).

6. This has been possible because of the inadequate class consciousness and organisation of the workers and peasants, which has been influenced by petty-bourgeois ideological pressure:

“The reason (i.e., for the surrender of power to the capitalist class — Ed.) is in the lack of organisation and class consciousness among the workers and peasants.”

(V. I. Lenin: ibid.; p. 116).

“Russia is now in a state of ebullition. Millions of people, politically asleep for ten years, politically crushed by the terrible pressure of tsarism and slave labour for landowners and manufacturers, have awakened and thrown themselves into politics. Who are these millions of people? Mostly small proprietors, petty bourgeois. . . .A gigantic petty-bourgeois wave has swept over everything, has overwhelmed the class-conscious proletariat not only numerically but also ideologically.”

(V. I. Lenin: ‘The Tasks of the Proletariat in Our Revolution”, in: ibid.; p. 1321).

7. After the “February Revolution” the war remains an imperialist war, and the effort of the Provisional Government remains a reactionary one which the Party must continue to oppose.

“Under the new government of Lvov and Co., owing to the capitalist nature of this government, the war on Russia’s part remains a predatory imperialist war.”

(V. I. Lenin: Speech at a Caucus of the Bolshevik Members of the All-Russian Conference of the Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies, April 17, 1917, in Ibid; p. 95).

8. The Party must not, therefore, make the slightest concession to “revolutionary defencism” and must dissociate itself from all who foster revolutionary defencism.”

“In our attitude towards the war not the slightest concession must be made to ‘revolutionary defencism.'”

(V. I. Lenin; ibid.; p. 95).

9. The capitalist Provisional Government is incapable of solving the fundamental social problems of the workers and poor peasantry.

‘The government of the Octobrists and Cadets, of the Guchkovs and Miliukovs, could give neither peace nor bread, nor freedom, even if it were sincere in its desire to do so.”

(V. I. Lenin: “Letters from Afar”, in: ibid., p. 34)

10. Therefore the revolution must be carried forward to a new stage by the working class in alliance with, and leading, the poor peasantry.

“The present situation in Russia . . represents transition from the first stage of the revolution . . to its second stage which is to place power in the hands of the proletariat and the poorest strata of the peasantry.”

(V. I. Lenin: Speech at a Caucus of the Bolshevik Members of the All-Russian Conference of the Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies,.April 17, 1917, in Ibid.; p. 97).

11. The Provisional Government needs to be overthrown, but it cannot be overthrown at present.

“The Provisional Government . . should be overthrown, for it is an oligarchical, bourgeois, and not a people’s government. . it cannot be overthrown now; . . generally speaking, it cannot be ‘overthrown’ by any ordinary method, for it rests on the ‘support’ given to the bourgeoisie by the second government — the Soviet of ‘Workers ‘ Deputies, which is the only possible revolutionary government directly expressing the mind and the will of the majority of workers and peasants.”

(V. I. Lenin: “On Dual Power”, in: ibid; p. 116-17).

12. The next step in the revolution is, therefore, to convince the working class and poor peasantry to throw off the domination of the Soviets by the compromising petty bourgeois elements and to transform them into their organs of power.

“Any one who, right now, immediately and irrevocably, separates the proletarian elements of the Soviets . . from the petty bourgeois elements, provides a correct expression of the interests of the movement.”

(V. I. Lenin: “Letters on Tactics’, in: ibid.; p. 126).

“It must be explained to the masses that the Soviet of Workers’ Deputies is the only possible form of revolutionary government and that, therefore, our task is, while this government is submitting to the influence of the bourgeoisie, to present a patient, systematic, and persistent analysis of its errors and tactics, an analysis especially adapted to the practical needs of the masses.

While we are in the minority, we carry on the work of criticism and of exposing errors, advocating all along the necessity of transferring the entire power of state to the Soviets of Workers’ Deputies.”

(V. I. Lenin: Speech at a Caucus of the Bolshevik Members of the All-Russian Conference of the Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies, April 17, 1917, in: ibid; p. 99).

13. So long as the Soviets control an effective machinery of force and the Proviosional Government does not, this process of transferring all power to the Soviets may be accomplished peacefully.

“The essence of the situation (i.e., from March 12th. to July 17th., 1917 — Ed.) was that the arms were in the hands of the people, and that no coercion was exercised over the people from without. That is what opened up and ensured a peaceful path for the development of the revolution. The slogan ‘All power to the Soviets’ was a slogan for a peaceful development of the revolution, which was possible between March 12 and July 17.”

(V. I. Lenin: “On Slogans”, in: “Selected Works”, Volume 6; London; 19216; p. 167-68).

14. Thus, the former slogan ‘Turn the imperialist war into civil war” is now for the time being incorrect:

“We advocated the transformation of the imperialist war into a civil war — are we not going back on ourselves? But the first civil war in Russia has ended.
. . In this transitional period, as long as the armed force is in the hands of the soldiers, as long as Miliukov and Guchkov have not resorted to violence, this civil war, as far as we are concerned, turns into peaceful, prolonged and patient class propaganda. We discard this slogan for the time being, but only for the time being.”

(V. I. Lenin: Report on the Current Situation”, in: ibid.; p. 95, 96).

15. The aim of transferring all power to the Soviets is to set up a Russian Soviet Republic, a state of the working class and peasantry.

“Not a parliamentary republic – a return to it from the Soviet of Workers’ Deputies would be a step backward – but a republic of Soviets of Workers’, Agricultural Labourers’ and Peasants’ Deputies througout the land, from top to bottom.”

(V. I. Lenin: Speech at a Caucus of the Bolshevik Members of the All-Russian Conference of the Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies, April 17th., 1917, in: “Collected Works”, Volume. 20, Book 1; London; 1929; p. 99).

16. The formation of this Soviet Republic will be a major step in the direction of socialism: however, its immediate programme will not be the introduction of socialism, but the establishment of control by the Soviets over production and distribution:

“The Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies must seize power not for the purpose of building an ordinary bourgeois republic, nor for the purpose of introducing Socialism immediately. The letter could not be accomplished.
. . They must seize power in order to take the first concrete steps towards introducing Socialism.”

(V. I. Lenin: Report On the Political Situation, 7th. Conference of RSDLP, in: ibid.; p. 283)

“Not the ‘introduction’ of Socialism as an immediate task, but the immediate placing of the Soviet of Workers’ Deputies in control of social production and distribution of goods.”

(V. I. Lenin: Speech at a Caucus of Bolshevik Members of the All-Russian Conference of the Soviets of Workers’ end Soldiers’ Deputies, April 17th., 1917,in: ibid.; p. 101).

together with:

“Abolition of the police, the army, the bureaucracy.
All officers to be elected and to be subject to recall at any time, their salaries not to exceed the average wage of a competent worker. .
Confiscation of all private lands.
Nationalisation of all lands in the country, and management of such lands by local Soviets of Agricultural Labourers’ and Peasants’ Deputies. A separate organisation of Soviets of Deputies of the poorest peasants. Creation of model agricultural establishments out of large estates. . . . . .
Immediate merger of all the banks in the country into one general national bank, over which the Soviet of Workers’ Deputies should have control.”

(V. I. Lenin: “On the Tasks of the Proletariat in the Present Revolution”, in: ibid.; p. 108).

17. The term “social-democratic” has been so brought into disrepute by the social-chauvinists that the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party should change its name to the Russian Communist Party.

“We must call ourselves the Communist Party — just as Marx and Engels called themselves Communists….
The majority . . of the Social-Democratic leaders are betraying Socialism…..
The masses are distracted, baffled, deceived by their leaders…..
Should we aid and abet that deception by retaining the old and worn-out party name, which is as decayed as the Second International? . .
It is high time to cast off the soiled shirt, it is high time to put on clean linen.”

(V. I. Lenin: “The Tasks of the Proletariat in Our Revolution”, in: ibid.; p. 154, 156, 157).

18. The “Zimmerwald International”‘ has already broken down as a result of its persistent centrism; the Party must withdraw from it (except for purposes of information) and found a new revolutionary Third International.

‘The chief fault of the Zimmerwald International, the cause of its breakdown (for from a political and ideological viewpoint it has already broken down), was its vacillation, its indecision, when it came to the most important practical end all-determining question of breaking completely with the social-chauvinists and the old social-chauvinist International. . .

We must break with this International immediately. We ought to remain in Zimmerwald only to gather information.

It is precisely we who must found, right now, without delay, a new, revolutionary proletarian International.”

(V. I. Lenin ibid.; p. 151, 152).

To sum up, Lenin held that, politically, the “February Revolution” was a bourgeois-democratic revolution which transferred power from the tsarist autocracy to the dual power of the democratic dictatorship of the working class and peasantry (in the shape of the Soviets) and of the capitalist class (in the shape of the Provisional Government). Politically, therefore, the ‘February Revolution” represented the completion of the bourgeois-democratic revolution:

“Before the March revolution of 1917, state power in Russia was in the hands of one old class, namely, the feudal noble landlord class, headed by Nicholas Romanov.
After that revolution, state power is in the hands of another class, a new one, namely, the bourgeoisie….
The passing of state power from one class to another is the first, the main, the basic principle of a revolution, both in the strictly scientific and in the practical meaning of that term.
To that extent, the bourgeois or the bourgeois democratic, revolution in Russia is completed.
But at this point we hear the noise of objectors, who readily call themselves ‘old Bolsheviks’ : Haven’t we always maintained, they say, that a bourgeois-democratic revolution is culminated only in a ‘revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry’? . . . .
The Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies’ –here you have ‘revolutionary-democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry’ already realised in life.”

(V. I Lenin: ‘Letters on Tactics’ in: ibid.; p. 119, 120)

Economically and socially, however, particularly in so far as the agrarian revolution (the transfer of the land to the working peasantry) is concerned, the “February Revolution” did not complete the bourgeois-democratic revolution, Economically and socially, the bourgeois-democratic revolution was not completed until the “October Revolution”, the political content of which was proletarian-socialist.

“Is the agrarian revolution, which is a phase of the bourgeois-democratic revolution, completed? On the contrary, is it not a fact that it has not yet been?”

(V. I. Lenin: ibid.; p. 119-120).

“The bourgeois-democratic content of the revolution means purging the social relations (systems and institutions) of the country of mediavalism, serfdom, feudalism. . . .
‘We solved the problems (i.e., economic and social problems — Ed.) of the bourgeois-democratic revolution in passing, as a ‘by-product’ of the main and real proletarian-revolutionary socialist work.”

(V. I. Lenin: “The Fourth Anniversary of the October Revolution”; in: “Selected Works”; Volume 6; London; 1946; p. 501; 503.

Lenin thus maintained that the Bolshevik strategy and tactics relating to the first, bourgeois-democratic stage of the revolutionary process in Russia had been confirmed by the “February Revolution”, but in a “more multicoloured” Way than could have been anticipated:

“The Bolsheviks’ slogans and ideas have been generally confirmed by history; but as to the concrete situation, things have turned out to be different, more original, more unique, more multicoloured than could have been anticipated by any one.”

(V. I. Lenin: “Letters on Tactics”, in: “Collected Works”, Volume 20, Book 1; London; 1929; p. 120).

Trotsky and the “Ideological Rearmament” of the Bolshevik Party

After the “October Revolution” the question naturally arose among Trotsky’s disciples as to how it had come about that the socialist revolution in Russia had been brought about in accordance with a political line advanced by Lenin, who had consistently opposed Trotsky’s theory of “permanent revolution.”

Trotsky’s answer was simple, if completely mythical: in May 1917 the Bolshevik Party, on Lenin’s initiative, had “rearmed itself” ideologically by accepting Trotsky’s theory of “permanent revolution”; thus history had “confirmed” the correctness of Trotsky’s theory of “permanent revolution”:

“Bolshevism under the leadership of Lenin (though not without internal struggle) accomplished its ideological rearmanent on this most important question in the spring of 1917, that is, before the seizure of power.”

(L. Trotsky: Note in “The Year 1905;”(January 1922), cited in: L. Trotsky: ‘The Permanent Revolution”; New York; 1970; p. 236).

“Precisely in the period between January 9 and the October strike (in 1905 — Ed.) the author formed those opinions, which later received the name: ‘theory of the permanent revolution’ . . . . .
This appraisal was confirmed as completely correct, though after a lapse of twelve years.”

(L. Trotsky: Forward to “The Year 1905” (January 1922), cited in: L. Trotsky: ibid.; p. 235).

“I by no means consider that in my disagreements with the Bolsheviks I was wrong on all points.. . .
I consider that my assessment of the motive forces of the revolution was absolutely right.. . .
My polemical articles against the Mensheviks and the Bolsheviks . . devoted to an analysis of the internal forces of the revolution and its prospects . . I could republish even now without amendment, since they fully and completely coincide with the position of our Party, beginning with 1917.”

(L. Trotsky: Letter to N.S. Olminsky, December 1921 cited in: N. S. Olminsky: Foreword to “Lenin on Trotsky” (1925), cited in: J. V. Stalin: Reply to the Discussion on the Report an “The Social–Democratic Deviation in Our Party’, l5th Conference of CPSU (B.), November 3rd., 1926; in “Works”;, Volume 3; Moscow; 1954;p. 349-50).

In fact, of course, Lenin took pains to dissociate himself from Trotsky’s theory of “permanent revolution” after his return to Russia in April 1917:

“Trotskyism: ‘No Tsar but a workers’ government’. This, surely is wrong.”

(V. I. Lenin: Report on the Political Situation, Petrograd City Conference of the RSDLP, April 27th, 1917, in: “Collected Works”, Volume 20, Book 1; London;
1929, p. 207).

“Had we said: ‘No Tsar, but a Dictatorship of the Proletariat’ — it would have meant a leap over the petty bourgeoisie.”

(V.I. Lenin: Concluding Remarks in Connection with the Report on the Political Situation, 7th. Conference of the RSDLP, May 7th., 1917, in: ibid.; p. 287).

Lenin did not put forward in April 1917 the strategy of direct advance to the dictatorship of the working class (in alliance with the poor peasantry) as a corrected strategy for the realisation of the bourgeois-democratic revolution.

On the contrary, the bourgeois-democratic revolution, as the first stage of the revolutionary process in Russia, had already been realised, politically, in the “February Revolution.” The strategy of direct advance to the dictatorship of the working class (in alliance with the poor peasantry) was put forward as a new strategy for the new situation following the “February Revolution,” a new strategy for the second stage of the revolutionary process.

As Lenin expressed it in his “April Theses”:

“The present situation in Russia. . .represents a transition from the first stage of the revolution to its second stage which is to place power in the hands of the proletariat and the poorest strata of the peasantry.”

(V. I. Lenin: Speech at a Caucus of the Bolshevik Members of the All-Russian Conference of the Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies, April 17th., 1917, in: ibid.; p. 97).

Trotsky’s myth — that Lenin put forward in April 1917 a “corrected” strategy for the realisation of the bourgeois–democratic revolution similar to that embodied in Trotsky’s theory of “permanent revolution” — is based on a denial of the fact that the ‘February Revolution” constituted, politically, a bourgeois-democratic revolution.

In his “History of the Russian Revolution,” Trotsky admits this fact:

‘The insurrection triumphed. But to whom did it hand over the power snatched from the monarchy? We come here to the central problem of the February revolution. Why and how did the power turn up in the hands of the liberal bourgeoisie?”

(L. Trotsky: “History of the Russian Revolution”, Volume 1; London; 1967; p. 155).

But in his “The Permanent Revolution,” Trotsky deliberately confuses the political bourgeois-democratic revolution of March with the bourgeois-democratic revolutionary economic and social changes that followed the revolution of November in order to present the latter as a “bourgeois-democratic revolution” which resulted in the dictatorship of the proletariat:

‘The bourgeois-democratic revolution was realised during the first period after October. . But, as we know, it was not realised in the form of a democratic dictator-ship (i.e., of the working class and peasantry –but in the form of the dictatorship of the proletariat.. . . .The two lines, the ‘permanent’ and Lenin’s . . were completely fused by the October Revolution.”

(L. Trotsky: “The Permanent Revolution”; New York; 1970; p. 229, 234).

In November 1926 Stalin was justifiably sarcastic about Trotsky’s claim that in May 1917 the Party had “rearmed itself” with Trotsky’s theory of ‘permanent revolution”:

‘Trotsky cannot but know that Lenin fought against the theory of permanent revolution to the end of his life. But that does not worry Trotsky.
It turns out . . that the theory of permanent revolution ‘fully and completely coincided with the position of our Party, beginning with 1917’. . ..
But …how could Trotsky’s theory of permanent revolution have coincided with the position of our Party when it is known that our Party, in the person of Lenin, combated this theory all the time? . .
Either our Party did not have a theory of its own, and was later compelled by the course of events to accept Trotsky’s theory of permanent revolution; or it did have a theory of its own, but that theory was imperceptibly ousted by Trotsky’s theory of permanent revolution, ‘beginning with 1917’. . . .
Surely the Bolsheviks had some theory, some estimate of the revolution, some estimate of its motive forces. etc?. . . .
What happened to Leninism, to the theory of Bolshevism, to the Bolshevik estimate of our revolution and its motive forces, etc.?…….
And so, once upon a time there were people known as the Bolsheviks who somehow managed, ‘beginning’ with 1903, to ‘weld’ together a party, but who had no revolutionary theory. So they drifted and drifted, ‘beginning’ with 1903, until somehow they managed to reach the year 1917. Then, having espied Trotsky with his theory of permanent revolution,’ they decided to ‘rearm themselves’ and ‘having rearmed themselves’, they lost the last remnants of Leninism, of Lenin’s theory of revolution, thus bringing about the ‘full coincidence’ of the theory of permanent revolution with the ‘position’ of our Party.
That is a very interesting fairy-tale, comrades. It, if you like, is one of the splendid conjuring tricks you may see at the circus. But this is not a circus; it is a conference of our Party. Nor, after all, have we hired Trotsky as a circus artist.”

(J. V. Stalin: Reply to the Discussion on the Report “The Social-Democratic Deviation in our Party”, l5th. Conference of CPSU (B.), November 3rd., 1926, in:
“Works”, Volume 3; Moscow; 1954; p. 350, 351, 353-54).

The Opposition to Lenin’s Theses

Within the Party the principal opposition to Lenin’s “April Theses” was led by Trotsky’s brother-in-law Lev Kamenev.

On April 21st, 1917, Kamenev published in “Pravda” an article– entitled “Our Differences” in which he denounced Lenin’s “personal opinion” as “unacceptable” on the grounds that he was advocating an immediate socialist revolution before the bourgeois-democratic revolution had been completed.

“In yesterday’s issue of the ‘Pravda’ Comrade Lenin published his ‘theses’. They represent the personal opinion of Comrade Lenin. . . The policy of the “Pravda” was clearly formulated in the resolutions prepared by the Bureau of the Central Committee. . . .
Pending new decisions of the Central Committee and of the All-Russian Conference of our Party, those resolutions remain our platform which we will defend . . against Comrade Lenin’s criticism.. .
As regards Comrade Lenin’s general line, it appears to us unacceptable inasmuch, as it proceeds from the assumption that the bourgeois-democratic revolution has been completed and it builds on the immediate transformation of this revolution into a socialist revolution. . . .
In a broad discussion we hope to carry our point of view as the only possible one for revolutionary Social-Democracy in so far as it wishes to be and must remain to the very end the one and only party of the revolutionary masses of the proletariat without turning into a group of Communist propagandists.”

(L. Kamenev: “Our Differences”; cited in: V. I. Lenin: Collected Works”, Volume 20, Book 1; London; 1929; p. 380-81)

Lenin replied:

“There are two major errors in this.
1. The question of a ‘completed bourgeois-democratic revolution is stated wrongly. . . . .
Reality shows us both the passing of the power into the hands of the bourgeoisie (a ‘completed’ bourgeois-democratic revolution of the ordinary type) and, by the side of the actual government, the existence of a parallel government which represents the ‘revolutionary- democratic-dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry’. . .
Is this reality embraced in the old Bolshevik formula of Comrade Kamenev which says that ‘the bourgeois democratic revolution is not completed’?
No, the formula . . is dead. . . .
Anyone who is guided in his activities by the simple formula ‘the bourgeois-democratic revolution is not completed’ vouchsafes, as it were, the certainty of the petty bourgeoisie being independent of the bourgeoisie….
In doing so, he at once helplessly surrenders to the-petty bourgeoisie. . . .
The mistake made by Comrade Kamenev is that in 1917 he only sees the past of the revolutionary democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry. In reality, however, its future has already begun, for the interests and the policy of the wage earners and the petty proprietors have already taken different lines.. . . .
This brings me to the second mistake in the remarks of Comrade Kamenev quoted above: He reproaches me, saying that my line ‘builds’ on the immediate transformation of this bourgeois-democratic revolution into a socialist revolution.
This is not true. . . .
I declared in plain language that in this respect I only build on ‘patient’ explaining (is it necessary to be patient to bring about a change which can be realised ‘immediately’).”

(V. I. Lenin: “Letters on Tactics”; in: “Collected Works”, Volume 20 , Book 1 London; 1929; p. 125, 126, 127).

An opposition group in the Moscow City Committee, headed Aleksei Rykov and Viktor Nogin, opposed the basis of Lenin’s theses on the grounds that Russia was too industrially undeveloped for socialist construction:

Lenin replied:

“Comrade Rykov says that Socialism must first come from other countries with greater industrial development. But this is not so. It is hard to tell who will begin and who will end. This is not Marxism, but a parody on Marxism.”

(V. I. Lenin: Concluding Remarks in Connection with the Report on the Political Situation, May 7th. Conference of RSDLP, May 7th., 1917, in: ibid.; p. 287).

Another group of members of the Party – including I. P. Goldenberg, V. Bazarov, B. V. Avilov and Y N. Steklov, — left the Bolshevik Party altogether in protest against Lenin’s theses and founded the paper “Novaya Zhizn” (New Life), which supported the unification of Bolsheviks, Mensheviks and “Novaya Zhizn”-ists into a single party based on the openly Menshevik view that the Socialist revolution “Must be preceded by a more or less prolonged period of capitalism.”

At the Petrograd City Conference of the Party, held from April 27th; to May 5th; 1917, a resolution in support of the political line laid down in Lenin’s “April Theses” was carried.

The “April Days”

On May 1st., 1917 (April 18th ; under the old style calendar) Foreign Minister Pavel Miliukov sent a note to the Allied Governments emphasising the determination of the Provisional Government to carry the war to a victorious conclusion and to remain loyal to the tsarist government’s treaties with the Allies.

‘The declarations of the Provisional Government naturally cannot offer the slightest cause to assume that the accomplished upheaval will result in a weakening of Russia’s role in the common struggle of the Allies. Quite the contrary. The effort of the whole people to carry the World War through to a decisive victory has only been strengthened. . Naturally, the Provisional Government. . . in protecting the rights of our fatherland, will hold faithfully to the obligations which we have assumed towards our allies. . The government is now, as before, firmly convinced, that the present war will be victoriously concluded in complete accord with the Allies.”

(Provisional Government, Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Note to Allied Governments of May 1st., 1917, cited in: V. I. Lenin: “Collected Works”, Volume 20, Book 1; London; 1929; p. 371).

The publication of the note within Russia gave rise to mass demonstrations in Petrograd over the next four days, in which armed soldiers took a prominent part — attempting at times to occupy public buildings. Among the demonstrators the slogans “Down with Miliukov” and “Down with Guchkov” were raised everywhere.

The Central Committee of the Party was concerned that this spontaneous movement might develop along insurrectionary lines which, in the existing situation, could only harm the revolutionary movement; on May 4th., therefore, it adopted a resolution drafted by Lenin calling upon all Party members to exert every effort to keep the demonstrations peaceful:

“Party agitators and speakers must refute the despicable lies that we threaten with civil war. . . At the present moment, when the capitalists and their government cannot and dare not use violence against the masses . . any thought of civil war is naive, senseless, monstrous. . . .
All Party agitators, in factories, in regiments, in the streets, etc. must advocate these views and this proposition (i.e., withdrawal of support by the Soviets from the Provisional Government — Ed.) by means of peaceful discussions and peaceful demonstrations, as well as meetings everywhere.”

(V. I. Lenin: Resolution of CC, RSDLP, May 4th., 1917, in: ibid.; p. 245, 246).

These demonstrations proved sufficient to force the resignation of Guchkov as Minister of War May 13th; and of Miliukov as Minister of Foreign Affairs on May 15th.

On May 14th the Executive Committee of the Petrograd Soviet voted in favour of a coalition Provisional Government, in which the Menshevik and Socialist-Revolutionary parties would be formally represented.

The First Coalition Provisional Government came into being on May 18th with Prince Georgi Lvov continuing as Prime Minister. Aleksandr Tereshchenko replaced Miliukov as Minister of Foreign Affairs; Aleksandr Kerensky and Viktor Chernov (of the Socialist Revolutionaries) became Minister of War and Minister of Agriculture respectively; Aleksandr Skobelev and Iraklii Tseretelli (of the Mensheviks) became Minister of Labour and Minister of Posts and Telegraphs respectively.

In the following month Lenin commented on the formal entry of the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries into the Provisional Government:

‘The entrance of Tseretelli, Chernov and Co. into the cabinet has changed to an insignificant degree only the form of the compact between the Petrograd Soviet and the government of the capitalists. ..
Day by day it becomes ever clearer that Tseretelli, Chernov and Co. are simply hostages of the capitalists, have become the sides of the capitalists who are actually stifling the revolution; Kerensky has sunk to the point where he uses violence against the masses. . .The Coalition Cabinet represents only a transition period in the development of the basic class contradictions in our revolution. . . This cannot last very long.”

(V. I. Lenin: Postcript to Pamphlet ‘The Tasks of the Proletariat in Our Revolution”, in: ibid.; p. 159, 160).

The Seventh Conference of the RSDLP

The Seventh Conference of the Russian Social-Democrotic Labour Party (the “April Conference”) was held in Petrograd from May 7th. to 12th., 1917, attended by 133 voting delegates representing 80,000 Party members.

The Report on the Political Situation was given by Lenin, and the opposition to Lenin’s political line was led by Lev Kamenev and Aleksei Rykov.

Kamenev directed his main attack against the slogan ‘Down with the Provisional Government!'”, implying that this was a Leninist slogan whereas it had been put forward during the “April Days” by the Petrograd Committee of the Party in violation of the line of the Central Committee. In place of this (for the moment) incorrect slogan, Kamenev urged that the Party should put forward the completely unrealistic demand for control of the Provisional Government by the Soviets.

Lenin replied:

“We say that the slogan ‘Down with the Provisional Government’ is an adventurer’s slogan. That is why we have advocated peaceful demonstrations. . . The Petrograd Committee, however, turned a trifle to the Left. In a case of this sort, such a step was a grave crime.

Now about control. . . . . .Comrade Kamenev . . views control as a political act. . . We do not accept control… The Provisional Government must be overthrown, but not now, and not in the ordinary way.”

(V. I. Lenin: Concluding Remarks in connection with the Report on the Political Situation, 7th. Conference RSDLP, May 7th., 1917, in: “Collected Works”, Volume 20, Book 1; London; 1929; p. 285-86, 287).

Rykov opposed Lenin’s political line on the grounds that Russia was too industrially undeveloped to move towards a socialist revolution.
Lenin replied:

“Comrade Rykov. . . . says that Socialism must come first from other countries with greater industrial development. But this is not so. It is hard to tell who will begin and who will end. This is not Marxism, but a parody on Marxism.”

(V. I. Lenin: ibid.; p. 287).

By a majority the congress approved a series of resolutions endorsing the Leninist line.

The Leninist political line on the national question in particular, that the Party must advocate the right of oppressed nations to self-determination to the point of secession — was presented in the Report on the National Question given by Stalin. This slogan was opposed by Felix Dzherzhinsky and Yuri Piatakov, the latter demanding:

“The only effective method of solving it (i.e., the national question — Ed.) is the method of a socialist revolution under the slogan ‘Down with boundaries.’ for only thus can one do away with imperialism –this new factor leading to a sharpening of national oppression.
Whereas (1) ‘the right of nations to self-determination’ . . is a mere phrase without any definite meaning; ….
and whereas (2) this phrase is interpreted as meaning much more than is thought of in the ranks of revolutionary Social-Democracy,. . . .
the Conference . . assumes that paragraph 9 of our programme (i.e., support for the right of nations to self-determination — Ed.) should be eliminated.”

(Y. Piatakov: Resolution on National Question submitted to 7th. Conference, RSDLF; cited in: V. I.Lenin: “Collected Works”, Volume 20, Book 2; London; 1929; p.411, 412).

Lenin replied:

“Ever since 1903, when our Party adopted its programme, we have been encountering the desperate opposition of the Poles. . . And the position of the Polish Social-Democracy is as strange and monstrous an error now as it was then. These people wish to reduce the stand of our Party to that of the chauvinists.. . .

In Russia we must stress the right of separation for the subject nations, while in Poland we must stress the right of such nations to unite. The right to unite implies the right to separate. . . .

Comrade Piatakov’s standpoint is a repetition of Rosa Luxemburg’s standpoint . . Theoretically he is against the right of separation. . What Comrade Piatakov says is incredible confusion.. . .When one says that the national question has been settled, one speaks of Western Europe. Comrade Piatakov applies this where it does not belong, to Eastern Europe, and we find ourselves in a ridiculous position. . . .

Comrade Piatakov simply rejects our slogan. The method of accomplishing a socialist revolution under the slogan ‘Down with the boundaries’ is an utter absurdity. . . We maintain that the state is necessary, and the existence of a state presupposes boundaries. Even the Soviets are confronted with the question of boundaries . . .What does it mean, ‘Down with the boundaries’? This is the beginning of anarchy . . .
He who does not accept this point of view is an annexationist, a chauvinist.”

(V. I. Lenin: Speech on the National Question, 7th. Conference RSDLP, in: “Collected Works”, Volume 20, Book 1; London; 1929; p. 310, 312, 313, 314).

The conference discussed the question of the Party’s participation in the Third (and last) “Zimmerwald Conference,” due to be held in Stockholm (Sweden) in May 1917 (but later postponed until September).

In his “April Theses” Lenin had already demanded a break with the “Zimmerwald International”, proposing that the Party should remain within it only for purposes of information. At the conference, however, this policy was opposed by a considerable body of delegates headed by Grigori Zinoviev, who proposed:

“Our party remains in the Zimmerwald bloc with the aim of defending the tactics of the Zimmerwald Left Wing there. . . .The conference decides to take part in the international conference of the Zimmerwaldists scheduled for May 31 and authorises the Central Committee to organise a delegation to that conference.”

(Resolution on “The Situation within the International and the Tasks of the RSDLP”, 7th. Conference RSDLP, cited in: V. I. Lenin: “Collected Works”, Volume 20, Book 2; London; 1929; p. 407).

Zinoviev’s resolution was carried by the conference against the opposition of Lenin, who described Zinoviev’s tactics as:

“..arch-opportunist and pernicious.”

(V. I. Lenin: Speech at 7th. Conference, RSDLP, cited in: “History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolsheviks)”; Moscow; 1941; p. 189)

The conference also discussed the question of the Party’s participation in an “international socialist conference” to discuss “peace terms”, also scheduled for Stockholm in May. On May 6th, the Danish Social-Democrat Frederik Bergjberg had personally addressed the Executive Committee of the Petrograd Soviet on the “Stockholm Conference”. The Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries had accepted the invitation to participate in the conference; the Bolsheviks had rejected the invitation.

The question was placed on the agenda of the conference at the request of Viktor Nogin, who proposed that a Bolshevik delegation should attend the “Stockholm Conference.”

Lenin replied:

“I cannot agree with Comrade Nogin . . Back of this whole comedy of a would-be Socialist congress there are actually the political maneuvers of German imperialism. The German capitalists use the German social-chauvinists for the purpose of inviting the social-chauvinists of all countries to the conference. because they want to fool the working masses. . . . .Borgjberg is an agent of the German government.. . .We must expose this whole comedy of the Socialist conference, expose all these congresses as comedies intended to cover up the deals made by the diplomats behind the backs of the masses.”

(V. I. Lenin: Speech on the Proposed Calling of an International Socialist Conference, 7th. Conference RSDLP, May 8 1917, in: “Collected Works”, Volume 20, Book 1; London; 1929; p. 287, 288, 290).

The conference adopted a resolution along these lines.

The conference adopted a series of resolutions in accordance with Lenin’s political line:

  • “On the War”,
  • ”On the Attitude towards the Provisional Government”;
  • “On the Agrarian Question”;
  • “’On a Coalition Cabinet”,
  • “’On Uniting the Internationalists against the Petty-bourgeois Defencist Bloc’”,
  • “On the Present Political Situation” ;
  • and “On the Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies.”

The Conference elected a new Central Committee, consisting of Lenin, Stalin, Kamenev, Zinoviev, Nilyutin, Nogin, Sverdlov, Smilga and Fedorov, and instructed it to bring up to date the programme of the Party adopted in 1903.

The First Congress of Soviets

The First All-Russian Congress of Soviets was held in Petrograd from June l6th to July 6th., 1917. Of the 790 delegates, only 103 (13%) were Bolsheviks, and the congress was dominated by the Mensheviks and Social-Revolutionaries. The congress, against Bolshevik opposition, adopted resolutions in favour of:

  • participation in the Provisional Government,
  • “defence of the fatherland” in the imperialist war;
  • the military offensive at the front demanded by the Allied powers;
  • and the war loan (“Liberty Loan”).

On June 21st; the Central Committee of the RSDLP decided to call a peaceful demonstration for June 23rd; under the slogans: ‘Down with the Capitalist Ministers!'” and “All Power to the Soviets!”. The Congress of Soviets, on the initiative of the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries, immediately adopted a resolution prohibiting the demonstration on the pretext that:

“We know that the hidden counter-revolutionaries are making ready to take advantage of your demonstration.”

(Resolution of First Congress of Soviets, June 21st., 1917, cited by V. I, Lenin: ‘Disquieting Rumours”, in: ‘Collected Works’, Volume 20, Book 2 London; 1929; p. 41).

In the early hours of the morning of June 22nd; the Central Committee, on Lenin’s initiative, called off the planned demonstration.

On June 24th, Lenin explained the reasons for this decision to a meeting of the Petrograd Committee of The Party:

“The dissatisfaction of the majority of the comrades with the calling off of the demonstration is quite legitimate, but the Central Committee could not act otherwise for two reasons: First, we received a formal prohibition of all demonstrations from our semi-official government : second, a plausible reason was given for this prohibition. . . . .
Even in simple warfare it sometimes happens that for strategic reasons it is necessary to postpone an offensive fixed for a certain date.. . . .
It was absolutely necessary for us to cancel our arrangements. This has been proved by subsequent events.'”

(V. I. Lenin: Speech at the Session of the Petrograd Committee of the RSDLP, June 24th., 1917, in: ibid.: p.245).

The “subsequent events,” referred to by Lenin were the holding, earlier on the same day, of a united session of the Executive Committee of the Petrograd Soviet, the Presidium of the Congress of Soviets and the Fraction Committees of the parties represented at the Congress.

Iraklii Tseretelli, Menshevik Minister of Posts and Telegraphs in the Provisional Government, denounced the Bolshevik demonstration that had been planned for June 23rd. as “a plot to overthrow the Provisional Government by force”; he demanded that the Bolsheviks be expelled from the Soviets and that the arms in the hands of the workers be taken from them.

The Bolshevik delegates walked out of the congress in protest at Tseretelli’s speech, and issued a declaration in which they declared:

“We have not renounced for a single moment in favour of a hostile majority of the Soviet our right, independently and freely, to utilise all liberties for the purpose of mobilising the working masses under the banner of our proletarian class party. . .
What is planned is the disarming of the revolutionary vanguard — a measure that has always been resorted to by the bourgeois counter-revolution. . . .
Citizen Tseretelli and those who direct him are hardly ignorant of the fact that never in history have the working masses given up without struggle the arms they had received at the hand of the revolution. Consequently, the ruling bourgeoisie and its ‘Socialist’ Ministers are provoking civil war. . and they are aware of what they are doing. . . .
We expose before the All-Russian Congress and the masses of the people . . this attack on the revolution that is now being prepared. . . .
The revolution is passing through a moment of supreme danger. We call upon the workers to be firm and watchful.”

(Declaration of Bolshevik Fraction to All-Russian Congress of Soviets, June 24th., 1917, cited in: V. I. Lenin: ibid.: p. 416).

However, rank-and-file pressure compelled the Menshevik and Socialist-Revolutionary leaders of the Soviet on June 25th. to call a demonstration for July 1st. in the name of the Congress of Soviets. About 400,000 workers and soldiers took part in the demonstration in Petrograd on this day, and, to the horror of the compromising leaders of the Soviets, 90% of the banners bore the slogans put forward by the Bolsheviks: “Down with the Ten Capitalist Ministers!, and “All Power to the Soviets!’

The Congress elected a Central Executive Committee and instructed it to convene a new congress within three months.

Trotsky Returns to Russia

When news of the “February Revolution” reached America, Trotsky made inmediate arrangements to return to Russia. Sailing from New York in a Norwegian ship at the end of March, he was taken off the ship at Halifax (Canada) by British naval police and confined for a month in an internment camp for German prisoners of war at Amherst.

At the end of April he was released from internment, and resumed his journey. Landing in Norway, he crossed Scandinavia to reach Petrograd on May 17th., 1917.

He went almost immediately to the Smolny Institute, a former private school for girls which was now the head-quarters of the Petrograd Soviet. In view of his leading role in the Soviet of 1905, he was made an associate member of the Executive of the Soviet, without the right to vote.

He joined a group called the “Inter-Regional Organisation” (Mezhrayontsi), which had been founded in 1913 and to the publications of which he had contributed from abroad. The Inter-Regional Organisation was a centrist group, which prided itself on being neither Bolshevik nor Menshevik, and its influence was confined to a few working-class districts of Petrograd. In the early summer of 1917 its leading members included Anatoly Lunacharsky, David Riazanov, Dmitri Manuilsky, Mikhail Pokrovsky, Adolphe Joffe and Lev Karahkhan.

Now Trotsky took a leading role in the organisation, and in founding its organ ‘Vperyod’ (Forward).

According to Trotsky,

“Whoever lived through the year 1917 as a member of the central kernel of the Bolsheviks knows that there was never a hint of any disagreement between Lenin and me from the very first day. . . .

From the earliest days of my arrival, I stated . . . . . that I was ready to join the Bolshevik organisation immediately in view of the absence of any disagreements whatever but that it was necessary to decide the question of the quickest possible way of attracting the ‘Mezhrayontsi’ organisation into the party. . . .

Among the membership of the “Mezhrayontsi” organisation there were elements which tried to impede the fusion, advancing this or that condition, etc.”

(L. Trotsky: “The Stalin School of Falsification”; New York; 1972; p. 5, 6).

According to Lenin, however, Trotsky himself was precisely one of the ‘elements which tried to impede fusion.’

On May 23rd., a meeting took place between representatives of the Bolsheviks (including Lenin) and representatives of the Inter-Regional Organisation (including Trotsky) to explore the possibility of fusion.

As Trotsky’s biographer puts it:

“At the meeting of 23 May he (i.e., Lenin — Ed.) asked Trotsky and Trotsky’s friends to join the Bolshevik party immediately. He offered them positions on the leading bodies and on the editorial staff of ‘Pravda’. He put no conditions to them. He did not ask Trotsky to renounce anything of his past; he did not even mention past controversies. . . .

Trotsky would have had to be much more free from pride than he was to accept Lenin’s proposals immediately. He and his friends should not be asked to call themselves Bolsheviks. . . They ought to join hands in a new party, with a new name, at a joint congress of their organisations.”

(I. Deutscher: “The Prophet Armed: Trotsky; 1879-1921”; London; 1970; p. 257-8).

Lenin’s own notes of the meeting say:

“Trotsky (who took the floor out of turn immediately after me) . . . .
I cannot call myself a Bolshevik. . . .
We cannot be asked to recognise Bolshevism. . .
The old factional name is undesirable.”

(V. I. Lenin: “Leniniskii Sbornik” (Lenin Miscellany) Volume 4; Moscow; 1925; p. 303).

The meeting, therefore, broke up without reaching any agreement.

Not until August, three months before the October Revolution, did the Inter-Regional Organisaion join the Bolshevik Party, while Trotsky was in prison!

The Resignation of the Cadet Ministers

On July 16th, 1917, the Ministers belonging to the Constitutional-Democratic Party (the ‘Cadets”) resigned from the Government.

Lenin pointed out that:

“. . by leaving, they say, we present an ultimatum. . . . To be without the Cadets, they aver, means to be without the ‘aid’ of world-wide Anglo-American capital.”

(V. I. Lenin: “What could the Cadets Count on when leaving the Cabinet?”, in: ‘Collected Works’, Volume 21, Book 1; London; n.d.; p. 16).

The effect of this ultimatum was to face the Menshevik Ministers in the Provisional Government with the choice of either participating in the attempted suppression of the working class and poor peasantry or of allying themselves with the revolutionary working class and peasantry – which their whole political outlook would make them fear to do:

“Either suppress such a class by force — as the Cadets have been preaching since May 19 — or entrust yourself to its leadership. . . The Tsteretellis and Chernovs, they think would not do that, they would not dare.’ They will yield to us.’ . . .
The calculation is correct.”

(V. I. Lenin: ibid.; p. 15, 16).

The “July Days”

The resignation of the Cadet Ministers from the government on July 16th. stimulated on the following day mass demonstrations of armed workers and soldiers outside the headquarters of the Petrograd Soviet, under the slogans “All Power to the Soviets.”

In the evening of July 17th a Bolshevik revolution in the All-Russian Central Executive Committee of the Soviets calling for the transfer of all power to the Soviets was rejected.

On the next day, July 18th., “Pravda” published an appeal from the Bolsheviks calling for an end to the demonstrations:

“For the present political crisis, our aim has been accomplished. We have therefore decided to end the demonstration. Let each and every one peacefully and in an organised manner bring the strike and the demonstration to a close.”

(Proclamation of the CC of the RSDLP July 18th.,. 1917, cited in: V. I. Lenin “Collected Works”, Volume 21, Book 2; London; n.d., p. 300).

Later, in September 1917, Lenin analysed the reasons why it would have been incorrect to have attempted to turn the armed demonstration of the ‘July Days’ into an insurrection:

“On July 16-17 . . there were still lacking the objective conditions for a victorious uprising.

1. ‘We did not yet have behind us the class that is the vanguard of the revolution. We did not yet have a majority among the workers and soldiers of the capitals. . . 

2. At that time there was no general revolutionary upsurge of the people . . .

3. At that time there were no vacillations on a serious, general, political scale among our enemies and among the undecided petty bourgeoisie. . . ..

4. This is why an uprising on July 16-17 would have been an error; we would not have retained power either physically or politically.. . . .

Before the Kornilov affair, the army and the provinces could and would have marched against Petrograd.”

(V. I. Lenin: “Marxism and Uprising”, in: “Collected Works “, Volume 21, Book 1; London; n.d.; p. 225-226).

The Order for the Arrest of Lenin

On July 18th., 1917 the newspaper “‘Zhivoye Slovo” (Living Word) published a statement from Grigori Alexnsky asserting that he had documentary evidence that Lenin was “a spy in the pay of German imperialism.” On the same day military cadets wrecked the printing plant and editorial offices of “Pravda,” preventing the publication of Lenin’s reply to the slander.

On July 19th government troops occupied the headquarters of the Central Committee of the Party, and the government issued an order for the arrest of Lenin, Zinoviev and Kameonev.

A movement demanding that Lenin surrender to the arrest order was led by Trotsky.

As Trotsky’s sympathetic biographer Isaac Deutscher expresses it:

“Lenin . . made up his mind that he would not allow himself to be imprisoned but would go into hiding… Trotsky took a less grave view and Lenin’s decision seemed to him unfortunate. . . he thought that Lenin had every interest in laying his record before the public, and that in this way he could serve his cause better than by flight, which would merely add to any adverse appearances by which people might judge him.”

(I. Deutscher: “The Prophet Armed: Trotsky: 1879-1921”; London; 1970; p. 274).

To this demand Lenin replied:

“Comrades yielding to the ‘Soviet atmosphere’ are, often inclined towards appearing before the courts.
Those who are closer to the working masses apparently incline towards not appearing.. .
The court is an organ of power. . . .
The power that is active is the military dictatorship. Under such conditions it is ridiculous even to speak of ‘the courts’. It is not a question of ‘courts’, but of an episode in the civil war. This is what those in favour of appearing before the courts unfortunately do not want to understand. . . .
Not a trial but a campaign of persecution against the internationalists, this is what the authorities need. . Let the internationalists work underground as far as it is in their power, but let them not commit the folly of voluntarily appearing before the courts’.”

(V. I. Lenin: “The Question of the Bolshevik Leaders appearing before the Courts”, in ibid.; p. 34, 35).

The Bolshevik viewpoint on the question of the attitude to be adopted towards the warrant of arrest issued for the Bolshevik leaders was put at the Sixth Congress of the Party in August by Stalin:

“There is no guarantee that if they do appear they will not be subjected to brutal violence. If the court were democratically organised and if a guarantee were given that violence would not be committed it would be a different matter.”

(J. V. Stalin: Speech in Reply to the Discussion on the Report of the Central Cornittee, 6th. Congress RSDLP, in: “Works”, Volume 3; Moscow; 193; p. 182).

Feeling that his political reputation was suffering because no warrant had been issued for his own arrest, Trotsky wrote an Open Letter to the Provisional Government pleading that he too should be made liable to arrest:

“On 23 July, four days after Lenin had gone into hiding, Trotsky therefore addressed the following Open Letter to the Provisional Government:
‘Citizen Ministers —
You can have no logical grounds for exempting me from the effect of the decree by dint of which Lenin, Zinoviev and Kamenev are subject to arrest. . . You can have no reason to doubt that I am just as irreconcilable an opponent of the general policy of the Provisional Government as the above-mentioned Comrades’.”

(I. Deutscher: ibid.; p. 276-77).

The Provisional Government obliged Trotsky by arresting him on August 5th, and incarcerating him in the Kresty prison from which he was released on bail on September 17th.

The New Political Situation following the “July Days”

On July 20th, 1917 Prince Lvov resigned as Prime Minister of the Provisional Government, and on the following day his place was taken by Aleksandr Kerensky (Socialist-Revolutionary).

On July 22nd, the All-Russian Central Executive Committee of the Soviets, against Bolshevik opposition, adopted a resolution of confidence in the Provisional Government as a government of defence of the revolution.

At this time Lenin analysed the new political situation following the “July Days” as follows:

1. As a result of the treachery of the Menshevik and Socialist-Revolutionary leaders, dual power had ceased to exist; effective state power passed into the hands of a military dictatorship of the counter-revolutionary capitalist class:

“‘The counter-revolution has become organised and consolidated, and has actually taken state power into its hands. . . .The leaders of the Soviets as well as of the Socialist-Revolutionary and Menshevik Parties, with Tseretelli and Chernov at their head, have definitely betrayed the cause of the revolution by placing it in the hands of the counter-revolutionists and transforming themselves, their parties end the Soviets into fig-leaves of the counter-revolution. . . . .Having sanctioned the disarming of the workers and the revolutionary regiments, they have deprived themselves of all real power.”

(V. I. Lenin: “The Political Situation”, in: “Collected Works”, Volume 21, Book 1; London; n.d.; p. 36-37).

“The turning point of July 17 consisted in just this, that after it the objective situation changed abruptly. Thc fluctuating state of power ceased, the power having passed at a decisive point into the hands of the counter-revolution. . . After July 17, the counter-revolutionary bourgeoisie, hand in hand with the monarchists and the Black Hundreds,, has attached to itself the petty-bourgeois Socialist-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks, partly by intimidating them, and has given over actual state power . . into the hands of a military clique.”

(V. I. Lenin: “‘On Slogans”, in: ibid.; p. 44-45.)

2. Thus, the possibility of the peaceful development of the revolution by the winning of a majority for revolutionary socialism in the Soviets no longer exists:

“The struggle for the passing of power to the Soviets in due time, is finished. The peaceful course of development has been rendered impossible.. . . . .
At present power can no longer be seized peacefully. It can be obtained only after a victory in a decisive struggle against the real holders of power at the present moment, namely, the military clique.. . . .This power must be overthrown.”

(V. I. Lenin: “On Slogans”, in: ibid.; p. 44, 45-46, 47).

3. Thus, the slogan of “All Power to the Soviets”, which was correct in the period when the peaceful development of the revolution, is no longer correct and should be abandoned:

“The slogan of all power passing to the Soviets was a slogan of a peaceful development of the revolution, possible in April, May, June and up to July 18-22, i.e., up to the time when actual power passed into, the hands of the military dictatorship. Now this slogan is no longer correct.”

(V. I. Lenin: “The Political Situation, in: ibid.; p. 37).

“This slogan would be a deception of the people. It would spread among it the illusion that to seize power, the Soviets even now have only to wish or to decree it.”

(V. I Lenin: “On Slogans”, in: ibid.; p. 45)

4. Even if slogans were given a clear revolutionary content, it would be an incorrect call for “All Power To the Soviets!” – because after the overthrow of the capitalist military dictatorship power, power will not pass to the present impotent and treacherous Soviets, but to revolutionary Soviets, which do not as yet exist:

“Soviets can and must appear in this now revolution, but not the present Soviets, not organs of compromise with the bourgeoisie, but organs of a revolutionary struggle against it. . . .

The present Soviets . . resemble a flock of sheep brought to the slaughter-house, pitifully bleating when placed under the knife. . . The slogan of the power passing to the Soviets might be construed as a ‘simple’ call to let power pass into the hands of the present Soviets, and to say so, to appeal for this, would at present mean to deccive the people. Nothing is more dangerous than deception.”

(V. I. Lenin: “On Slogans”, in: ibid.; p. 49).

The Second Coalition Provisional Government

On July 25th, 1917 Kerensky issued a decree reintroducing capital punishment at the front, and three days later ordered the suppression of ‘Pravda” and other Bolshevik papers.

On July 29th, General Lavr Kornilov was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the army, replacing General Aleksel Brusilov.

On July 31st, Kerensky issued a decree dissolving the Finnish Sejm (Parliament), which had on July 19th, passed a bill for the autonomy of Finland.

On August 6th., the second coalition Provisional Government was formed, with Aleksandr Kerensky as Prime Minister and Minister of War and including Ministers from the Cadets, the Mensheviks and the Socialist-Revolutionaries.

Lenin commented on the formation of the new government as follows:

“Let the Party loudly and clearly proclaim to the people the whole truth: that we are experiencing the beginnings of Bonapartism; that the ‘new’ government is merely a screen to conceal the counter-revolutionary Cadets and military clique which have power in their hands; that the people will not get peace, the peasants will not get the land, the workers will not get the eight-hour day, the hungry will not get bread, without complete liquidation of the counter-revolution.”

(V. I. Lenin: “The Beginning of Bonapartism”, in “Collected Works”, Volume 21, Book 1; London; n.d; p. 78-79).

The Sixth Congress of the Party

The Sixth Congress of the RSDLP took place secretly in Petrograd from August 8th – 16th, 1917, attended by 157 voting delegates representing 40,000 members.

In Lenin’s absence, both the Report of the Central Committee and the Report on the Political Situation were given by Stalin. In the latter, Stalin said:

“Some comrades say that since capitalism is poorly developed in our country, it would be utopian to raise the question of a socialist revolution.. . It would be rank pedantry to demand that Russia should ‘wait’ with socialist changes until Europe ‘begins’. That country “begins” which has the greater opportunities. . . .Overthrow of the dictatorship of the imperialist bourgeoisie — that is what the immediate slogan of the Party must be.

The peaceful period of the revolution has ended. A period of clashes and explosions has begun.. . .

The characteristic feature of the moment is that the counter-revolutionary measures are being implemented through the agency of ‘Socialists’. It is only because it has created such a screen that the counter-revolution may continue to exist for another month or two. But since the forces of revolution are developing, explosions are bound to occur, and the moment will come when the workers will raise and rally around them the poorer strata of the peasantry, will raise the standard of workers’ revolution and usher in an era of socialist revolution in Europe.”

(J. V. Stalin: Report on the Political Situation, Sixth Congress RSDLP, in: ‘Works”, Volume 3; Moscow; 1953; p. 185, 186, 189, 190).

Nikolai Bukharin put forward in the discussion on the Report on the Political Situation a theory of the further development of the revolution based on Trotsky’s theory of “permanent revolution.” Bukharin held that the revolution in its further development, would consist of two phases, the first phase being essentially a peasant revolution, the second phase that of a revolution of the working class in which the peasant would not be the ally of the working class, in which the only ally of the Russian working class would be the working classes of Western Europe, that is:

“The first phase, with the participation of thc peasantry anxious to obtain land; the second phase, after the satiated peasantry has fallen away, the phase of the proletarian revolution, when the Russian proletariat will be supported only by proletarian elements and by the proletariat of Western Europe.'”

(N. Bukharin: Speech at 6th. Congress, RSDLP, cited in: N. Popov: “Outline History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Part 1; London; n.d.; p. 383).

Stalin opposed Bukharin’s theory as “not properly thought out” and “fundamentally wrong”:

“What is the prospect Bukharin held out? His analysis is fundamentally wrong. In his opinion, in the first stage we are moving towards a peasant revolution. But it is bound to concur, to coincide with a workers’ revolution. It cannot be that the working class, which constitutes the vanguard of the revolution, will not at the same time fight for its own demands. I therefore consider that Bukharin’s scheme has not been properly thought out.

The second stage, according to Bukharin, will be a proletarian revolution supported by Western Europe, without the peasants, who will have received land and will be satisfied. But against whom would this revolution be directed? Bukharin’s gimcrack scheme furnishes no reply to this question”.

(J. V. Stalin: Reply to the Discussion on the Report on the Political Situation, 6th. Congress, RSDLP; in ibid.; p. 196).

Evgenii Preobrazhensky moved an amendment to the congress resolution on the political situation, an amendment also based on an aspect of Trotsky’s theory of “permanent revolution.” He proposed that the seizure of power should be undertaken:

“For the purpose of directing it towards peace and, in the event of a proletarian revolution in the West, towards socialism.”

(E. Preobrazhensky: Amendment to Resolution on the Political Situation, 6th. Congress RSDLP, cited in H. Popov: ibid.; p. 381).

Stalin strongly opposed this amendment:

“I am against such an amendment. The possibility is not excluded that Russia will be the country that will lay the road to socialism. . . We must discard the antiquated idea that only Europe can show us the way.”

(J. V. Stalin: Reply to Preobrazhensky on Clause 9 of the Resolution “On the Political Situation”, 6th. Congress RSDLP, in: ibid.; p. 199, 200).

Preobrazhensky’s amendment was rejected, and the resolution adopted by the congress declared:

“The correct slogan at the present time can be only complete liquidation of the dictatorship of the counter-revolutionary bourgeoisie. Only the revolutionary proletariat, provided it is supported by the poorest peasantry, is strong enough to carry out this task. . . .

The task of those revolutionary classes will then be to strain every effort to take state power into their own hands and direct it, in alliance with the revolutionary proletariat of the advanced countries, towards peace and the Socialist reconstruction of society.”

(Resolution on the Political Situation, 6th. Congress RSDLP, cited in: V. I. Lenin: “Collected Works”, Volume 21, Book 2; London; n.d.; p. 304).

The congress approved a resolution on the economic situation, the main points of which were the confiscation of the landed estates, the nationalisation of the land, the nationalisation of the banks and large-scale industrial enterprises, and workers’ control over production and distribution.

It also approved resolutions on the trade union movement and on youth leagues, setting out the aim that the Party should win the leading influence in all these bodies. It also endorsed Lenin’s decision not to appear for trial:

“Considering that the present methods of persecution by the police and secret service and the activities of the public prosecutor are re-establishing the practices of the Shcheglovitov regime, . . and feeling that under such conditions there is absolutely no guarantee either of the impartiality of the court procedure, or even of the elementary safety of those summoned before the court.”

(Resolution on the Failure of Lenin to Appear in Court, 6th. Congress RSDLP, cited in: V. I. Lenin: ibid.; p. 312).

The congress also adopted new Party Rules, based on the principles of democratic centralism, and admitted the Mezhrayontsi (the Inter-Regional Organisation) into the Party. In this way Trotsky, as a member of the Inter-Regional Organisation, became a member of the Bolshevik Party while himself in prison, less than three months before the “October Revolution.”

Finally, the congress issued a Manifesto to all the workers, soldiers and peasants of Russia, which ended:

“Firmly, courageously and calmly, without giving in to provocations, gather strength and form fighting columns! Under the banner of the Party, proletarians and soldiers! Under our banner, oppressed of the villages!

“Long live the revolutionary proletariat!”

“Long live the alliance of the workers and Down with the counter-revolution and its ‘Moscow Conference’ !”

“Long live the workers’ world revolution!”

“Long live Socialism!”

“Long Live the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party (Bolsheviks)!””

(Manifesto of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party, Sixth Congress, cited in ibid.; p. 316-317).

The “Stockholm Conference”

As has been said, the 7th Conference of the Party in May had resolved that the Party should not participate in the “international socialist conference in Stockholm (scheduled originally for May but postponed till the autumn) but should expose it as a manoeuvre of the German social-chauvinists.

On August 19th , however, Lev Kamenev said in the Central Executive Committee of the Soviets:

“Now when our revolution has retreated to the second line of trenches, it is fitting to support this conference. Now, when the Stockholm Conference has become the banner of the struggle of the proletariat against imperialism, . . we naturally must support it.”

L. Kamenev: Speech to CEC, August 19th., 1917, cited in: V. I. Lenin: “Collected Works”, Volume 21, Book 1; London; nd; p. 290).

Lenin denounced Kamenev’s statement with indignation:

“What right had Comrade Kamenev to forget that there is a decision of the Central Committee of the Party against participating at Stockholm? If this decision has not been abrogated by a congress or by a new decision of the Central Committee, it is law for the Party. . . .

Not only had Kamenev no right to make this speech, but . . he directly violated the decision of the Party; he spoke directly against the Party. . . . Kamenev . . did not mention that the Stockholm Conference will include social-imperialists, that it is shameful for a revolutionary-Social-Democrat to have anything to do with such people. . . .To go to confer with social-imperialists, with Ministers, with hangmen’s sides in Russia — this is a shame and a betrayal. . . . .

Not a revolutionary banner, but a banner of deals, compromises, forgiveness for social-imperialism, bankers’ negotiations concerning the division of annexations — this is the banner which is really beginning to wave over Stockholm. . . .

We have decided to build the Third International. We must accomplish this in spite of all difficulties, Not a step backward to deals with social-imperialists and renegades from Socialism.'”

(V. I. Lenin: “On Kamenev’s Speech in the Central Executive Committee concerning the Stockholm Conference”, in: ibid.; p94; 95, 96).

The following month, Lenin returned to his attack upon the Stockholm Conference:

“The Stockholm Conference . . failed. Its failure was caused by the fact that the Anglo-French imperialists at present are unwilling to conduct peace negotiations, while the German imperialists are willing.. . .

The Stockholm Conference is known to have been called and to be supported by persons who support their governments. . ..

The ‘Novaya Zhizn’ deceives the workers when it imbues them with confidence ~ the social-chauvinists. . .

We, on the other hand, turn away from the comedy enacted at Stockholm by the social-chauvinists and among the social-chauvinists, in order to open the eyes of the masses, in order to express their interests, to call them to revolution, . . for a struggle on the basis of principles and for a complete brook with social-chauvinism. . . .

The Stockholm Conference, even if it takes place, which is very unlikely, will be an attempt on the part of the German imperialists to sound out the ground as to the feasibility of a certain exchange of annexations.”

(V. I. Lenin: “On the Stockholm Conference”, in: ibid; p. 121, 123, 124, 125).

In fact, the “Stockholm Conference” never took place, owing to the refusal of the British and French Governments to allow their social-chauvinists to attend.

The Moscow State Conference

On the initiative of Aleksandr Kerensky, a “State Conference” was held in the Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow, from August 25th to 28th, 1917. The conference was dominated by representatives of the landlords and bourgeoisie, including a number of prominent generals, with a minority of Soviet representatives in the shape of Mensheviks and Socialist Revolutionaries. The Petrograd Soviet and provincial Soviets were not invited to send delegates.

The conference was opened by Kerensky, who declared that the fundamental tasks of the Provisional Government were the continuation of the war, the restoration of order in the army and the country, and the organisation of a stable power.

The principal speech was made by General Lavr Kornilov, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, while General Aleksei Kaledin, speaking in the name of the Don Cossacks, put forward the following programme:

1) politics to be forbidden in the army;
2) all Soviets and army committees to be abolished;
3) the Declaration of the Rights of the soldiers to be abolished;
4) full authority to be restored to the officers.

Prior to the opening of the conference, Stalin had characterised it as follows:

“The counter-revolution needs a parliament of its own, a centre of its own; and it is creating it.. . .
The conference to be convened in Moscow on August 25 will inevitably be transformed into an organ of counter-revolutionary conspiracy against the workers, . . against the peasants, . . and against the soldiers . .. into an organ of conspiracy camouflaged by the ‘socialist talk’ of the Socialist-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks, who are supporting the conference.”

(J. V. Stalin: “Against the Moscow Conference”, in: “Works”, Volume 3; Moscow; 1953, p. 208, 209).

A resolution of the Central Committee of the RSDLP, published on August 21st called on all Party organisations:

“First, to expose the conference convening in Moscow as an organ of the conspiracy of the counterrevolutionary bourgeoisie against the revolution; second, to expose the counter-revolutionary policy of the S-R’s, and Mensheviks who are supporting this conference; third, to organise mass protests of workers, peasants and soldiers against the conference.”

(Resolution of CC of RSDLP on the Moscow Conference, cited in V. I. Lenin: “Collected Works”, Volume 21, Book 2; London; n.d.; p. 318).

The Moscow Trade Union Council, under Bolshevik leadership, called a successful one-day general strike in the city in protest at the convening of the conference.

The Kornilov Revolt

On September 3rd , the Latvian capital Riga was surrendered to the German armies.

A powerful campaign was then launched in all the media controlled by the counter-revolutionary capitalist class blaming the fall of Riga on the demoralisation of the soldiers brought about by Bolshevik propaganda and agitation.

The Bolsheviks replied that this was not the reason for the fall of Riga, but that the city had been deliberately surrendered to the German armies in order to provide a pretext for a counter-revolutionary conspiracy:

“After the Moscow Conference came the surrender of Riga and the demand for repressive measures….The counter-revolution needed a ‘Bolshevik plot’ in order to clear the way for Kornilov. . . .The counter-revolutionary higher army officers surrendered . . Riga in August in order to exploit the ‘defeats’ at the front for the purpose of achieving the ‘complete’ triumph of counter-revolution.”

(J. V. Stalin: “We Demand!”, in: “Works”, Volume 3; Moscow; 1953; p. 277, 278).

On September 5th negotiations took place at army headquarters at the front between Commander-in-Chief General Lavr Kornilov and Boris Savinkoy, Deputy Minister of War in the Provisional Government, at which, on Kerensky’s instructions, Savinkov requested Kornilov to despatch army units to Petrograd:

“On the instructions of the Prime Minister, I requested you (Kornilov) to send the Cavalry Corps to ensure the establishment of martial law in Petrograd and the suppression of any attempt at revolt.”

(B. Savinkov: Statement cited in J. V. Stalin: “The Plot against the Revolution”, in: ibid.; p. 367).

On September 7th. General Kornilov ordered an army corps, some Cossack detachments and the so-called ‘savage Division’ to move on Petrograd. The orders given to the commander of this force, General Krymov, were to occupy the city, disarm the units of the Petrograd garrison which joined the Bolshevik movement, disarm the population of Petrograd and disperse the Soviets.

“Occupy the city, disarm the units of the Petrograd garrison which joined the Bolshevik movement, disarm the population of Petrograd and disperse the Soviets.. . . . On the execution of this mission General Krymov was to send a brigade reinforced with artillery to Oranienbaum, which on its arrival was to call upon the Kronstadt garrison to dismantle the fortress and to cross to the mainland.”

(L. Kornilov: Explanatory Memorandum, cited in: J. V. Stalin: ibid.;p. 367).

The aim of the military coup was to set up a dictatorial government headed by Kornilov, with the participation of Aleksandr Kerensky (as Vice-Chairman), Boris Savinkov, Generel Mikhail Alekseev, and Admiral Aleksandr Kolchak. (Ibid.; p. 370)

As Stalin commented later:

“A compact was concluded (i.e., between the Provisional Government and General Kornilov — Ed.) to organise a conspiracy against the Bolsheviks, that is, against the working class, against the revolutionary army and the peasantry. It was a compact for conspiracy against the revolution!

That is what we have been saying from the very first day of the Kornilov revolt”.

(J. V. Stalin: “Comments”, in: ibid.; p. 350).

“The Kerensky Government not only knew of this diabolical plan, but itself took part in elaborating it and, together with Kornilov, was preparing to carry it out. .  The ‘Kornilov affair’ was not a ‘revolt’ against the Provisional Government, . . but a regular conspiracy against the revolution, an organised and thoroughly planned conspiracy. . . .

Its organisers and instigators were the counter-revolutionary elements among the generals, representatives of the Cadet Party, representatives of the ‘public men’ in Moscow, the more ‘initiated’ members of the Provisional Government, and — last but not least! — certain representatives of certain embassies. . . .Kornilov had the support of the Russian and the British and French imperialist bourgeoisie.”

(J. V. Stalin: ‘The Plot against the Revolution”, in: ibid.; p. 367, 373, 379).

On September 8th, “demand” was sent to Kerensky in the name of Kornilov demanding that the former hand over dictatorial powers to the General. On the same day the “Cadet” Ministers resigned from the Provisional Government.

On the following day Kerensky — compelled for political reasons to keep his participation in the plot secret –issued an “appeal” to the population for “resistance” to Kornilov, and appointed Savinkov as Governor-General of Petrograd under a state of siege.

On September 10th , on the initiative of the Bolsheviks a broad Committee for Struggle against Counter-Revolution was set up in the capital. Detachments of armed workers (“Red Guards”) were formed for the defence of the city, and agitators (mostly Bolshevik soldiers) were sent to meet the advancing troops. The work of these agitators, in the existing circumstances, proved so successful that by September 12th, virtually all the rank-and-file soldiers had deserted Kornilov.

The political line put forward by Lenin in connection with the Kornilov “revolt” was to organise active struggle against the main enemy, the Kornilov forces, while on a campaign of exposure of the Kerensky government:

“We will fight, we are fighting against Kornilov, even as Kerensky’s troops do, but we do not support Kerensky. On the contrary, we expose his weakness. There is the difference. . . .

We are changing the form of our struggle against Kerensky. . . We shall not overthrow Kerensky right now; we shall approach the task of struggling against him in a different way, namely, we shall point out to the people (which struggles against Kornilov) the weakness and vacillation of Kerensky.”

(V. I. Lenin “Letter to the Central Committee of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party, September 12th., 1917 in “Collected Works”, Volume 21, Book 1; London; n .d., p. 137, 138).

On September l4th, General Krymov committed suicide, and, on the initiative of Kerensky, a five-man government called a “Directory” was set up as a new Provisional Government.

As Stalin commented:

“A Directory was the political form the Kornilov-Kerensky ‘collective dictatorship’ was to have been clothed in.

It should now be clear to everyone that in creating a Directory after the failure of the Kornilov ‘revolt’ Kerensky was establishing this same Kornilov dictatorship by other means.”

(J. V. Stalin: ‘The Plot against the Revolution”, in: ibid.; p. 370).

The Kornilov revolt, together with the completely successful struggle led by the Bolsheviks against it, gave a great stimulus to the development of the socialist revolutionary forces.

“The Kornilov revolt was an attempt on the very life of the revolution. That is unquestionable. But in attempting to kill the revolution and stirring all the forces of society into motion, it thereby, on the one hand, gave a spur to the revolution, stimulated it to greater activity and organisation, and, on the other hand, revealed the true nature of the classes and parties, tore the mask from their faces and gave us a glimpse of their true countenances.

We owe it to the Kornilov revolt that the almost defunct Soviets in the rear and the Committees at the front instantaneously sprang to life and became active.

It is a fact that even the five-man ‘Directory’ set up by Kerensky had to dispense with official representatives of the Cadets.”

(J. V. Stalin: “The Break with the Cadets, in: ibid.; p. 296, 297)

The Political Situation Following the Kornilov “Revolt”

As a result of the collapse of the Kornilov “revolt”, the Provisional Government found itself for the moment virtually without any state machinery of force at its disposal. In those circumstances Lenin declared on September 4th , that for a short time — perhaps only for a few days– the revolution could advance peacefully by the formation (under the revived slogan of “All Power to the Soviets”) of a Menshevik and Socialist Revolutionary Soviet Government.

“There has now arrived such a sharp and original turn in the Russian revolution that we, as a party, can offer a voluntary compromise — true, not to the bourgeoisie, our direct and main class enemy, but to our nearest adversaries, the ‘ruling’ petty-bourgeois democratic parties, the Socialist-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks. . . . . .

The compromise on our part is our return to the pre-July demand of all power to the Soviets, a government of S-Rs and Mensheviks responsible to the Soviets.

Now, and only now, perhaps only for a few days or for a week or two, such a government could be created and established in a perfectly peaceful way. In all probability it could secure a peaceful forward march of the whole Russian Revolution, and unusually good chances for big strides forward by the world movement towards peace and towards the victory of Socialism.

Only for the sake of this peaceful development of the revolution — a possibility that is extremely rare in history and extremely valuable . . — can and must the Bolsheviks, partisans of a world revolution, partisans of revolutionary methods, agree to such a compromise, in my opinion.

The compromise would consist in this that the Bolsheviks .. . would refrain from immediately advancing the demand for the passing, of power to the proletariat and the poorest peasants, from revolutionary methods of struggle for the realisation of this demand. The condition which is self-evident . . would be full freedom of propaganda and the convocation of the Constituent Assembly without any new procrastination.”

(V. I. Lenin: “On Compromises”. in: ‘Collected Works’, Volume 21, Book 1; London; n.d.; p. 153-4).

Two days later, on September 16th Lenin concluded that the time in which a peaceful development of the revolution might occur had probably already passed:

“Perhaps those few days during which a peaceful development was still possible, have already passed. Yes, to all appearances they have already passed.”

(V. I. Lenin; ibid.; p. 157).

With the defeat of the Kornilov “revolt,” the political situation changed rapidly, as has been said.

The incident had exposed completely the counter-revolutionary character of the Provisional Government and of the Menshevik and Socialist-Revolutionary leaders. The masses of workers and peasants swung overwhelmingly behind the Bolsheviks. A section of the Mensheviks (the so-called “Internationalists”) and a section of the Socialist-Revolutionaries (the so-called ‘Left-Socialist-Revolutionaries”) departed the open counter-revolutionary leaders and forged a practical bloc with the Bolsheviks.

The incident also brought a great revival to the Soviets, and their bolshevisation. On September 13th the Petrograd Soviet adopted a revolutionary resolution moved by the Moscow Soviet followed suit on September 18th. In these circumstances, the Party revived the slogan of “All Power to the Soviets!”

“‘All Power to the Soviets!’ – such is the slogan of the new movement.”

(J. V. Stalin “All Power to the Soviets!'” ; in: “Works”, Volume 2 Moscow; 1953; p. 320).

On September 22nd, the Mensheviks, Socialist-Revolutionary Presidium of the Petrograd Soviet, headed by Nicholas Chkheidze, resigned, and on September 24th, Trotsky was elected chairman of the Petrograd Soviet.

Trotsky’s “Proportional Representation’

In his presidential address to the Petrograd Soviet on September 24th, Trotsky said:

“We shall conduct the work of the Petrograd Soviet in a spirit of lawfulness and of full freedom for all parties. The hand of the Presidium will never lend itself to the suppression of a minority.”

(L. Trotsky: Presidential Address to Petrograd Soviet, September 24th , 1917, cited in: I. Deutscher: “The Prophet Armed: Trotsky: 1879-1921”; London; 1970; p. 287).

Thus, in the name of “protecting the rights of the minorities” under ‘proportional representation’, on the initiative of Trotsky the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries, now in a minority in the Soviet, were voted back on to the Presidium,

“Despite Lenin’s objections, all parties were represented in the new Presidium of the Soviet in proportion to their strength.”

(I. Deutscher: ibid.; p. 287).

Lenin denounced with indignation:

“such glaring errors of the Bolsheviks as giving seats to the Mensheviks in the Presidium of the Soviets, etc.”

(V. I. Lenin “The Crisis Has Matured”, in ‘Collected Works”, Volume 21, Book 1; London; n.d. ; p. 278) .

Lenin Calls for Insurrection

At the end of September Lenin wrote to the Central Committee, the Petrograd Committee and the Moscow Committee of the Party demanding the immediate preparation of a revolutionary insurrection:

“Having obtained a majority in the Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies of both capitals, the Bolsheviks can and must take power into their hands. … The majority of the people is with us. . .. Why must the Bolsheviks assume power right now? Because the impending surrender of Petrograd will make our chances a hundred times worse. . . What we are concerned with is not the ‘day’ of the uprising….

What matters is that we must make the task clear to the Party, place on the order of the day the armed uprising in Petrograd and Moscow (including their regions) . . .

No apparatus? There is an apparatus: the Soviets and democratic organisations. . . It is precisely now that to offer peace to the people means to win.
Assume power at once in Moscow and in Petrograd. . we will win absolutely and unquestionably”.

(V. I. Lenin: “The Bolsheviks Must Assume Power”, in: “Collected Works”, Volume 21, Book 1; London; n.d.; p. 221, 222, 223).

A day or so later Lenin followed the above letter with a further letter to the Central Committee:

“We have back of us the majority of a class that is the vanguard of the revolution, the vanguard of the people, and is capable of drawing the masses along.
We have back of us a majority of the people.. . . .
We have the advantageous position of a party which knows its road perfectly well. . . . . .

Victory is assured to us, for the people are now very close to desperation, and we are showing the whole people a sure way out. . .

We have before us all, the objective prerequisites for a successful uprising. .

Delay is impossible. The revolution is perishing.
Having put the question this way, having concentrated our entire fraction in the factories and barracks, we shall correctly estimate the best moment to begin the uprising.

And in order to treat uprising in that Marxist way, i.e., as an art, we must at the same time, without losing a single moment, organise the staff of the insurrectionary detachment; designate the forces; move the loyal regiments to the most important points; surround the Aleksandrinsky Theatre; occupy Peter and Paul Fortress; arrest the general staff and the government; move against the military cadets, the Savage Division, etc., such detachments as will die rather than allow the enemy to move to the centre of the city; we must mobilise the armed workers, call them to a last desperate bottle, occupy at once the telegraph and telephone stations, place our staff of the uprising at the central telephone station, connect it by wire with all the factories, the regiments, the points of armed fighting, etc,”

(V. I. Lenin: “Marxism and Uprising”, in: ibid.; p. 226, 227, 228-9).

The Central Committee Meeting of October 28th

The two letters of Lenin discussed in the last section were debated at a meeting of the Central Committee of the Party on October 28th.

The Committee took a hesitant attitude towards Lenin’s demand that an insurrection be placed on the immediate order of the day. Stalin’s motion that the letters should be sent to the most important organisations for discussion by them was held over until the next meeting. Kamenev’s motion that:

“The Central Committee, having considered the letters of Lenin, rejects the practical propositions contained in them.”

(Minutes of CC, RSDLP, September 28th., 1917, cited in V. I. Lenin: “Collected Works”, Volume 21, Book 1; London; n.d.; p. 300).

Was, however, rejected.

The Question of the Zimmerwald Conference

The Seventh Conference of the RSDLP, in May 1917, had decided in favour of the representation of the Party at the Third Zimmerwald Conference in Stockholm planned for the end of May but postponed until September.

In September Lenin pressed the view that the decision to continue further participation in “rotten Zimmerwald” had been a mistake and urged that the Party’s delegation should not take part in the conference but should call a conference of the left Zimmerwaldists, without the Centrists:

“It is now perfectly clear that it was a mistake not to leave it (i.e., Zimmerwald — Ed.) . . .We must leave Zimmerwald immediately. . ..When we leave rotten Zimmerwald, we must decide immediately, at the plenary session of September 16, 1917, to call a conference of the Lefts.”

(V. I. Lenin: “On The Zimmerwald Question”; in: “Collected Works”, Volume 2, Book 1; London; n.d.; p. 150).

The “Democratic Conference”‘

From September 27th to October 5th , 1917 the Provisional Government convoked a “Democratic Conference” in the Aleksandrinsky Theatre, Petrograd. Its aim was to try to provide a basis of support for the government in the new situation following the defeat of the Kornilov “revolt.”

It was, of course, completely unrepresentative. As Lenin pointed out:

“The Democratic Conference does not represent the majority of the revolutionary people, but only the conciliatory petty-bourgeois top layer.”

(V. I. Lenin: “The Bolsheviks Must Assume Power”, in: “Collected Works”, Volume 21, Book 1; London; n.d.; p. 221).

The Bolsheviks were represented at the conference, and on October lst, submitted a long declaration calling for the formation of a revolutionary Soviet government with the following programme:

“1. The abolition of private property in landowners’ land without compensation and its transfer to the management of peasant committees….

2. The introduction of workers’ control over both production and distribution on a state-wide scale, the centralisation of banking, control over the banks and the nationalisation of the most important industries, such as oil, coal, and metals; universal labour duty; immediate measures to demobilise industry; and organisation of supplying the village with industrial products at fixed prices. The merciless taxation of large capital accumulations and properties and the confiscation of war profits for the purpose of saving the country from economic ruin.

3. Declaring secret agreements to be void, and the immediate offer of a universal democratic peace to all the peoples of the belligerent nations.

4. Safeguarding the rights of all nationalities inhabiting Russia to self-determination. The immediate abolition of all repressive measures against Finland and the Ukraine.”

(Declaration of Bolshevik Fraction at Democratic Conference, cited in V. I. Lenin “Collected Works”;, Volume 21, Book 2;London; n.d.; p. 321-22).

and demanding the following immediate measures:

“1. Stopping all repressions directed against the working class and its organisations. Abolition of capital punishment at the front and the re-establishment of full freedom of agitation and of all democratic organisations within the army. Cleansing the army of counter-revolutionary elements.

2. Commissars and other officials to be elected by local organisations.

3. General arming of the workers and the organisation of a Red Guard.

4. Dissolution of the State Council and the State Duma. The immediate convening of the Constituent Assembly.

5. Abolition of all the privileges of the estates (of the nobility, etc.), c)mplete equa1~ty of rights for all citizens.

6. Introduction of the eight-hour day and of a comprehensive system of social insurance.”

(Ibid; p. 322).

After repeated inconclusive votes, the conference declared in favour of a coalition government but without participation of the Cadets. Kerensky, however, declined to abide by the decision of the conference he had himself organised, and on October 8th, formed a new coalition government which included several individual members of the Cadet Party.

The most important act of the conference was to set up a “Provisional Council of the Republic,” known as the “Pre-Parliament,” by which the capitalist class aimed to divert the less politically developed workers and poor peasants from the path of revolution to the path of parliamentary democracy.” The Pre-parliament was intended to substitute itself for the Soviets.

In an article published on October 7th, two days after the conference ended, Lenin summed it up as follows:

“In the Soviets, the S-Rs and Mensheviks have lost their majority. They therefore have had to resort to a fraud: to violate their pledge to call a new congress of the Soviets after three months; . . to fix up a ‘Democratic’ Conference. . . .The leaders are basing themselves on a minority, in defiance of the principles of democracy. Hence the inevitability of their frauds.”

(V.I. Lenin: “Heroes or Frauds”; in: “Collected Works”, Volume 21, Book 1; London; n.d.; p. 244, 245).

The Boycott of the Pro-parliament

Already by the last day of the “Democratic Conference”, October 5th , Lenin had become convinced that, in view of the development of the revolution, it had been a mistake for the Bolsheviks to participate in this “hideous fraud”:

“The more one reflects on the meaning of the so-called Democratic Conference,…the more firmly convinced one becomes that our Party has committed a mistake by participating in it. . . .A new revolution is obviously growing in the country, a revolution . . of the proletariat and the majority of the peasants, the poorest peasantry, against the bourgeoisie, against its ally, Anglo-French finance capital, against its governmental apparatus headed by the Bonapartist Kerensky. We should have boycotted the Democratic Conference; we all erred by not doing so.”

(V. I. Lenin: “From a Publicist’s Diary”, in: “Collected Works”, Volume 21, Book 1;. London; n.d. p. 249, 253).

On this basis, Lenin proceeded to fight for a policy of boycotting the new fraud, the Pre-parliament:

“This pre-parliament . . is in substance a Bonapartist fraud. . . . The tactics of participating in the pre-parliament., are incorrect. They do not correspond to the objective interrelation of classes, to the objective conditions of the moment.. We must boycott the pre-parliament. We must leave it and go to the Soviets of Workers’, Soldiers’ and Peasants’ Deputies, to the trade unions, to the masses in general . . .We must give them a correct and clear slogan to disperse the Bonapartist gang of Kerensky with his forged pre-parliament.”

(V.I. Lenin ibid.; p. 252–253).

However, before Lenin’s letter had been received, on October 3rd the Central Committee of the Party had convened a meeting of the Central Committee extended to include members of the Petrograd Committee and the Bolshevik delegates to the Democratic Conference. Stalin and Trotsky reported in favour of boycotting the Pre-parliament, while Lev Kamenev and Viktor Nogin reported in favour of participation, and were supported by David Riazanov and Aleksei Rykov. The conference adopted a resolution in favour of participation by 77 votes to 50.

On October 6th , Lenin demanded a reversal of this decision:

“Trotsky was for the boycott. Bravo, Comrade Trotsky!
Boycottism was defeated in the fraction of the Bolsheviks who came to the Democratic Conference.
Long live the boycott!
We cannot and must not reconcile ourselves to participation under any condition.
We must at all costs strive to have the boycott question solved in the plenum of the Central Committee and at an extraordinary party congress. .
There is not the slightest doubt that in the ‘top’ of our Party we note vacillations that may become ruinous, because the struggle is developing.”

(V. I. Lenin: ibid.; p. 254).

The Central Committee of the Party did, in fact, convene a Party Congress for October 30th., 1917. In his theses intended for this congress, Lenin wrote:

“The participation of our Party in the ‘preparliament’ . . is an obvious error and a deviation from the proletarian-revolutionary road. . . .
When the revolution is thus rising, to go to a make-believe parliament, concocted to deceive the people, means to facilitate this deception, to make the cause of preparing the revolution more difficult. . . .
The Party congress, therefore, must recall, the members of our Party from the pre-parliament, declare a boycott against it.”‘

(V. I. Lenin: ‘Theses . . for a Resolution and Instructions to Those Elected to the Party Congress”, in: ‘Collected Works”, Volume 21, Book 2; London; nd.; p. 61).

However, the convocation of the congress proved unnecessary, and was cancelled by the Central Committee. On October 18th, the Central Committee adopted a resolution to boycott the pre-parliament, against only one dissentient vote. The dissentient, Lev Kamenev, asked that a statement by him be attached to the minutes of the meeting:

“I think that your decision to withdraw from the very first session of the ‘Soviet of the Russian Republic’ predetermines the tactics of the Party during the next period in a direction which I personally consider quite dangerous for the Party.”

(L. Kamenev: Statement to CC, RSDLP, October 18th., 1917, cited in: V. I. Lenin: in: “Collected Works”; Volume 21; Book 1; London; n.d.; p. 302).

On the opening day of the Pre-parliament, October 20th., Trotsky read a declaration on behalf of the Bolsheviks:

“We, the fraction of Social-Democrats-Bolsheviks, declare: with this government of traitors to the people and with this council of counter-revolutionary connivance we have-nothing in common. We do not wish to cover up, directly or indirectly, not even for a single day, that work which is being carried out behind the official screen and which is fatal to the people. . .
In withdrawing from the Provisional Council we appeal to the vigilance and courage of the workers, soldiers and peasants of all Russia.
We appeal to the people.
All power to the Soviets!
All the land to the people!
Long live the immediate, honourable, democratic peace!
Long live the Constituent Assembly! “

(Declaration of the Bolshevik Fraction Read in the Pre-parliament, October 20th 1917, cited in: V. I. Lenin: “Collected Works”, Volume 21, Book 2; London n.d.; p. 324).

The Bolsheviks then walked out of the Pre-parliament.

The Central Committee Meeting of October 23rd

Two days after the Bolsheviks walked out of the Pre-parliament, there took place, on October 23rd, the famous session of the Central Committee of the Russian Social-Democratic Party at which the decision to launch the insurrection was taken.

Twelve of the twenty-one members of the CC were present, including Lenin disguised in wig and spectacles.

The minutes of the meeting recorded the main points only of Lenin’s statement:

“Lenin states that since the beginning of September a certain indifference towards the question has been noted. He says that this is inadmissible, if we earnestly raise the slogan of seizure of power by the Soviets. It is, therefore, high time to turn attention to the technical side of the question. Much time has obviously been lost.

Nevertheless, the question is very urgent and the decisive moment is near. . . .
The absenteeism and the indifference of the masses can be explained by the fact that the masses are tired of words and resolutions.

The majority is now with us. Politically, the situation has become entirely ripe for the transfer of power.”

(Minutes of the Central Committee of the RSDLP, October 23, 1917, cited in: V. I. Lenin: “Collected Works”, Volume 21, B k 2; London; n.d.; p. 106).

Lenin then moved a resolution which ended:

“Recognising thus that an armed uprising is inevitable and the time perfectly ripe, the Central Committee proposes to all the organisations of the Party to act accordingly and to discuss and decide from this point of view all the practical questions.”

(Resolution of Central Committee, RSDLP, October 23rd 1917, cited in: ibid; p; 107).

The resolution was carried by ten votes to two – the dissentients being Grigori Zinoviev and Lev Kamenev.

The Campaign of Kamenev and Zinoviev against the Central Committee’s Decision on the Insurrection

On October 24th, Lev Kamenev and Grigori Zinoviev sent a joint memorandum to the principal organisations of the Party attacking the Central Committee’s decision of the previous day to launch an insurrection:

“The Congress of Soviets has been called for November 2. . . It must become the centre of the consolidation around the Soviets of all proletarian and demi-proletarian organisations. . . As yet there is no firm organisational connection between these organisations and the Soviets. . . But such a connection is in any case a preliminary condition for the actual carrying out of the slogan “All power to the Soviets?. . . .

Under these conditions it would be a serious historical untruth to formulate the question of the transfer of power into the hands of the proletarian party in the terms: either now or never.

No. The party of the proletariat will grow.. . . And there is only one way in which the proletarian party can interrupt its successes, and that is if under present conditions it takes upon itself to initiate an uprising and thus expose the proletarians to the blows of the entire consolidated counter-revolution, supported by the petty-bourgeois democracy.

Against this pernicious policy we raise our voices in warning.”

(G. Zinoviev & L. Kamenev Statement to Party Organisations October 24th, 1917, cited in V. I. Lenin: “Collected Works”, Volume 21, Book 2; London; nd.; p. 332).

A few days later the statement was distributed in leaflet form in Petrograd.

Trotsky’s “Soviet Constitutionalism”

Trotsky’s opposition to Lenin’s call to insurrection was more subtle than that of Kamenev and Zinoviev.

Whereas the latter openly opposed Lenin’s demands for immediate preparations for insurrection, Trotsky supported these demands in words. He insisted however, in the name of “Soviet constitutionalism” that the actual call to insurrection should be issued not by the Petrograd Soviet, and certainly not by the Party, but by the Second All-Russian Congress of Soviets.

As Trotsky’s sympathetic biographer Isaac Deutscher expresses it:

“Trotsky was approaching the problem from his new point of vantage as President of the Petrograd Soviet. He agreed with Lenin on the chances and the urgency of insurrection. But he disagreed with him over method, especially over the idea that the party should stage the insurrection in its own name and on its own responsibility. He took less seriously than Lenin the threat of an immediate counter-revolution. Unlike Lenin, he was confident that the pressure of the Bolshevik majority in the Soviets would not allow the old Central Executive to delay much longer the All-Russian Congress. . . . . .

Lenin . . refused to let insurrection wait until the Congress convened, because he was convinced that the Menshevik Executive would delay the Congress to the Greek Calends, and that the insurrection would never take place as it would be forestalled by a successful counter-revolution.. . .

The difference between Lenin and Trotsky centred on whether the rising itself ought to be conceived in terms of Soviet constitutionalism. The tactical risk inherent in Trotsky’s attitude was that it imposed certain delays upon the whole plan of action…

Lenin . . viewed Trotsky’s attitude in the matter of insurrection with uneasiness, and even suspicion. He wondered whether, by insisting that the rising should be linked with the Congress of the Soviets, Trotsky was not biding his time and delaying action until it would be too late. If this had been the case, then Trotsky would have been, from Lenin’s viewpoint, an even more dangerous opponent than Kamenev and Zinoviev, whose attitude had at least the negative merit that it was unequivocal and that it flatly contradicted the whole trend of Bolshevik policy. Trotsky’s attitude, on the contrary, seemed to follow from the party’s policy and therefore carried more conviction with the Bolsheviks; the Central Committee was in fact inclined to adopt it. In his letters, Lenin therefore sometimes controverted Trotsky’s view almost as strongly as Zinoviev’s and Kamencv’s, without, however, mentioning Trotsky by name. To wait for the rising until the Congress of Soviets, he wrote, was just as treasonable as to wait for Kerensky to convoke the Constituent Assembly, as Zinoviev and Kamenev wanted to do.”

(I. Deutscher: “The Prophet Armed Trotsky: 1879-1921”; London; 1970; pp. 290-291, 294-95).

Lenin’s objections to Trotsky’s line on this question were twofold:

Firstly: it would mean dangerous delay in calling the insurrection;

Secondly: since the calling of the Second Congress of Soviets was constitutionally in the hands of the Central Executive Committee (C.E.C) – elected at the First Congress of Soviets in June and dominated by Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries — it would mean permitting counterrevolutionaries, and not the revolutionary vanguard Party, to “fix the date of the insurrection,” or even to postpone it indefinitely.

In this connection, it must be remembered that the First Congress of Soviets had instructed the C.E.C. to summon a new congress “within three months”, i.e. not later than September. The C.E.C however, justifiably fearing that the Bolsheviks would have a majority at the congress, violated this instruction. Only under the extreme pressure of the Bolsheviks at the time of the Democratic Conference did the C.E.C. reluctantly agree to convoke the congress for November 2nd . On October 31st, however, it postponed the congress to November 7th.

Lenin saw Trotsky’s line as either — and he left the question open – “absolute idiocy” or “complete betrayal”, and he attacked it continuously up to the moment of the insurrection itself:

On October 10th:

“The general political situation causes me great anxiety . . The government has an army, and is preparing itself systematically.

And what do we do? We only pass resolutions. We lose time. We set ‘dates’ (November 2, the Soviet Congress – is it not ridiculous to put it off so long? Is it not ridiculous to rely on that?”

(V. I. Lenin: Letter to I.T. Smilga, October 10th., 1917; in: ‘Collected Works’, Volume 21, Book 1; London; n.d.; p. 265).

On October 12th:

“Yes, the leaders of the Central Executive Committee are pursuing tactics whose sole logic is the defence of the bourgeoisie and the landowners. And there is not the slightest doubt that the Bolsheviks, were they to allow themselves to be caught in the trap of constitutional illusions, of ‘faith’ in the Congress of Soviets. . . . of waiting’ for the Congress of Soviets, etc. — that such Bolsheviks would prove miserable traitors to the proletarian cause. . . .

The crisis has matured. The whole future of the Russian Revolution is at stake. The whole honour of the Bolshevik Party is in question…We must . . admit the truth, that in our Central Committee and at the top of our Party there is a tendency in favour of awaiting the Congress of Soviets, against the immediate seizure of power, against an immediate uprising. We must overcome this tendency or opinion.

Otherwise the Bolsheviks would cover themselves with shame forever; they would be reduced to nothing as a party. For to miss such a moment and to ‘await’ the Congress of Soviets is either absolute idiocy or complete betrayal.. . . To ‘await’ the Congress of Soviets is absolute idiocy, for this means losing weeks, whereas weeks and even days now decide everything. . . To ‘await’ the Congress of Soviets is idiocy, for the Congress will give nothing, it can give nothing!. . .
First vanquish Kerensky, then call the Congress.

The victory of the uprising is now secure for the Bolsheviks . . if we do not ‘await’ the Soviet Congress. . . . To refrain from seizing power at present, to ‘wait’, to ‘chatter’ in the Centra1 Committee, to confine ourselves . . to ‘fighting for the Congress’ means to ruin the revolution.”

(V. I. Lenin: ‘The Crisis has Matured”, in: ibid.; p. 275, 276, 277, 278).

Only when Lenin took the extreme step of resigning from the Central Committee in order to fight for his line in the lower organs of the Party (on October 12th) did a majority accept Lenin’s line on this question:

“I am compelled to tender my resignation from the Central Committee which I hereby do, leaving myself the freedom of propaganda in the lower ranks of the Party and at the Party Congress.

For it is my deepest conviction that if we ‘await’ the Congress of Soviets and let the present moment pass, we ruin the revolution.”

(V. I. Lenin: ibid.; p. 278).

Although Lenin withdrew his resignation when the Central Committee voted for a boycott of the Pre-parliament, Trotsky continued to fight for his line and Lenin continued to fight against it:

On October 16-20:

“Events indicate our task so clearly to us that hesitation actually becomes a crime.. . . To ‘wait’ under such conditions is a crime.

The Bolsheviks have no right to wait for the Congress of Soviets; they must take power immediately.

To wait for the Congress of Soviets means to play a childish game of formality, a shameful game of formality; it means to betray the revolution.”

(V. I. Lenin: Letter to the Central Committee, Moscow Committee, Petrograd Committee, and the Bolshevik Members of the Petrograd and Moscow Soviets, October 16-20, 1917; in: “Collected Works”, Volume 21, Book 2; London; n.d.; p. 69).

On October 21st:

“We must not wait for the All-Russian Congress of Soviets, which the Central Executive Committee may postpone till November; we must not tarry.. . .
Near Petrograd and in Petrograd — this is where this uprising can and must be decided upon and carried out . . as quickly as possible….Delay means death.”

(V. I. Lenin: Letter to Bolshevik Comrades Participating in the Regional Congress of the Soviets of the Northern Region, October 21st., 1917,in: ibid.; p. 91).

On November 6th.; (i.e, on the eve of the insurrection):

“The situation is extremely critical. It is as clear as can be that delaying the uprising now really means death.

With all my power I wish to persuade the comrades that now everything hangs on a hair, that on the order of the day are questions that are not solved by conferences, by congresses (even by Congresses of Soviets), but only . . by the struggle of armed masses.

The bourgeois onslaught of the Kornilovists, the removal of Verkhovsky, show that we must not wait. We must at any price, this evening, tonight, arrest the Minister, having disarmed (defeated if they offer resistance) the military cadets, etc.

We must not wait! We may lose everything!. . . History will not forgive delay by revolutionists who could be victorious today (and will surely be victorious today!), while they risk losing much tomorrow, they risk losing all.

If we seize power today, we seize it not against the Soviets but for them.

It would be a disaster or formalism to wait for the uncertain voting of November 7. The people have a right and a duty to decide such questions not by voting but by force.. . . .

The government is tottering. We must deal it the death blow at any cost. To delay action is the same as death.”

(V. I. Lenin: Letter to the Members of the Central Committee, November 6th., 1917, in: ibid.; p. 144-145).

Trotsky later felt it expedient to deny the charge that he had sought to accommodate the insurrection to the Second Congress of Soviets:

“We should search in vain among the minutes or among any memoirs whatever, for any indication of a proposal of Trotsky to ‘accommodate the insurrection necessarily to the Second Congress of Soviets.'”

(L. Trotsky: “History of the Russian Revolution”, Volume 3; London; 1967; p. 332).

Elsewhere in the same work, however, Trotsky makes his own position at the time quite clear. He reports his declaration ‘In the name of the Petrograd Soviet” on November 1st:

“I declare in the name of the Soviet that no armed actions have been settled upon by us….The Petrograd Soviet is going to propose to the Congress of Soviets that they seize the power.”

(L. Trotsky: Speech to Petrograd Soviet, November 1st., 1917; cited in: L. Trotsky: ibid.; p. 102, 103).

and comments:

“The Soviet was sufficiently powerful to announce openly its programme of state revolution and even set the date.”

(L. Trotsky: ibid.; p. 103).

Trotsky also reports his speech at an emergency session of the Petrograd Soviet on November 6th., 1917 (the day before the insurrection began):

“An armed conflict today or tomorrow is not included in our plan — on the threshold of the All-Russian Congress of Soviets. We think that the Congress will carry out our slogan with greater power and authority'”

(L. Trotsky: Speech in Petrograd Soviet, November 6th., 1917, cited in: L. Trotsky: ibid.; p. 331-2).

Stalin later referred to:

“the mistake made by the Petrograd Soviet in openly fixing and announcing the date of the uprising. (November 7).”

(J.V. Stalin: “Trotskyism or Leninism? , in: “Works”, Volume 6; Moscow, 1953; p. 362).

To which Trotsky replied:

“Where, and when, and from which side, did the Soviet publish abroad the date of the insurrection?”

(L. Trotsky: ibid.; p. 333).

and answers himself:

“It was not the insurrection, but the opening of the Congress of Soviets, which was publicly and in advance set for the 7th. . . ‘It flowed from the logic of things’, we wrote subsequently, ‘that we appointed the insurrection for November 7th.’ ..On the second anniversary of the revolution the author of this book, referring, in the sense just explained, to the fact that: ‘the October insurrection was, so to speak, appointed in advance for a definite date, for November 7th., and was accomplished upon exactly that date’, added: “We should seek in vain in history for another example of an insurrection which was accommodated in advance by the course of things to a definite date.”

(L. Trotsky: ibid.; p. 333-34).

Thus Trotsky, here was admitting the justice of Lenin’s comment:

“To ‘call’ the Congress of Soviets for November 2, in order to decide upon the seizure of power — is there any difference between this and a foolishly “appointed” uprising?”

(V. I. Lenin: “The Crisis has Matured”, in: ‘Collected Works”, Volume 21, Book l, London; n.d.; p. 277).

According to Trotsky, Lenin’s original plan for the insurrection (to which he adhered up to November 6th.) was that it should be called “‘in the name of the Party,” and endorsed by the Congress of Soviets when this met:

Lenin’s plan, he says:

“presupposed that the preparation and completion of the revolution were to be carried out through party channels and in the name of the party, and afterwards the seal of sanction was to be placed on the victory by the Congress of Soviets.”

(L. Trotsky: “Lessons of October”; London; 1971; p. 45).

“In the first weeks he (i.e. Lenin — Ed.) was decidedly in favour of the independent initiative of the Party.”

(L. Trotsky: “History of the Russian Revolution”;, Volume 3; London; 1967; p.265-6).

And Trotsky complains, for example, of the resolution drafted by Lenin which was also approved by the Central Committee at its meeting on October 23rd:

“The task of insurrection he presented directly as the task of the party. The difficult task of bringing its preparation into accord with the Soviets is as yet not touched upon. The All-Russian Congress of Soviets does not get a word.”

(L. Trotsky: ibid; p. 143).

Trotsky “kindly” attributes Lenin’s “wrong estimates” to his absence from Petrograd”:

“Lenin, who was not in Petrograd, could not appraise the full significance of this fact (i.e., the invalidation by the Petrograd Soviet of Kerensky’s order transferring two-thirds of the garrison to the front –Ed.) . . . . Lenin’s counsel . . flowed precisely from the fact that in his underground refuge he had no opportunity to estimate the radical turn.”

(L. Trotsky: “Lessons of October” London; 1971; p. 47-48).

“Lenin’s isolation . . deprived him of the possibility of making timely estimates of episodic factors and temporary changes.. . . If Lenin had been in Petrograd and had carried through at the beginning of October his decision in favour of an immediate insurrection without reference to the Congress of Soviets, he could undoubtedly have given the carrying out of his own plan a political setting which would have reduced its disadvantageous features to a minimum. But it is at least equally probable that he would himself in that case have come round to the plan actually carried out.”

(L. Trotsky: “History of the Russian Revolution”, Volume 3; London; 1967; p. 327-8).

In fact, Lenin’s basic plan was that the insurrection should be planned, timed and led by the Party, through either the Petrograd or the Moscow Soviet — both of which were now led by the Party — but not through the Second Congess of Soviets, the calling of which was dependent upon the Central Executive Committee led by Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries. As Stalin comments:

“According to Trotsky, it appears that Lenin’s view was that the Party should take power in October ‘independently’ of and behind the back of the Soviet’.
Later in, criticising this nonsense, which he ascribes to Lenin, Trotsky ‘cuts capers’ and finally delivers the following condescending utterance:
“That would have been a mistake”.
Trotsky is here uttering a falsehood about Lenin, he is misrepresenting Lenin’s views on the role of the Soviets in the uprising. A pile of documents can be cited showing that Lenin proposed that power be taken through the Soviets, either the Petrograd or the Moscow Soviets, and not behind the back of the Soviets.”

(J.V. Stalin: “Trotskyism or Leninism?”, in: ‘Works’, Volume 6; Moscow; 1953; p. 359-60).

Trotsky’s myth goes on to say that the Central Committee “rejected Lenin’s plan for the insurrection” and “adopted Trotsky’s plan that the insurrection should be called by the Second Congress of Soviets. Only on the evening of November 6th , according to Trotsky was Lenin convinced of the “incorrectness” of his “conspiratorial plan”;

“The Central Committee did not adopt this (i.e., Lenin’s — Ed.) proposal the insurrection was led into Soviet channels.”

(L. Trotsky: ‘Lessons October; London 1971; p. 45).

“When he (i.e., Lenin — Ed ) arrived in Smolny (i.e., on the evening November 6th , the day before the insurrection — Ed.) . . I understood that only at that moment had he finally become reconciled to the fact that we had refused the seizure of power by way of a conspirative plan.”

(L. Trotsky: “History of the Russian Revolution”, Volume 3; London,.1967; P. 345)

As Stalin points out, however, the Central Committee of the Party did not adopt Trotsky’s plan that the insurrection should be called by the Second Congress of Soviets. In fact, the insurrection had been carried through before the Congress met.

“Lenin proposed that power be taken before November 7th, for two reasons.

Firstly, because the counter-revolutionaries might have surrendered Petrograd (i.e., to the German armies — Ed ) at any moment, which would have drained the blood of the developing uprising.

Secondly, because the mistake made by the Petrograd Soviet in openly fixing and announcing the day of the uprising (November 7) could not be rectified in any other way than by actually launching the uprising before the legal date set for it. The fact of the matter is that Lenin regarded insurrection as an art, and he could not help knowing that the enemy, informed about the date of the uprising (owing to the carelessness of the Petrograd Soviet) would certainly try to prepare for that day.

Consequently, it was necessary to forestall the enemy, i.e., without fail to launch the uprising before the legal date. This is the chief explanation for the passion with which Lenin in his letters scourged those who made a fetish of the date — November 7. Events show that Lenin was absolutely right. It is well known that the uprising was launched prior to the All Russian Congress of Soviets. It is well known that power was actually taken before the opening of the All-Russian Congress of Soviets, and it was taken not by the Congress of Soviets, but by the Petrograd Soviet, by the Revolutionary Military Committee. The Congress of Soviets merely took over power from the Petrograd Soviet. That is why Trotsky’s lengthy arguments about the importance of Soviet legality are quite beside the point.”

(J. V. Stalin: ibid; p. 362).

The Extended Central Committee Meeting of October 29th

On October 29th., 1917 an extended session of the Central Committee of the RSDLP was held, in which participated representatives of the Petrograd Committee, the Petrograd Regional Committee, the Military Organisation, the Bolshevik Fraction of the Petrograd Soviet, trade unions and factory committees.

Lenin reported on the Central Committee meeting of October 23rd, and read the resolution on insurrection adapted by that meeting.

Representatives then reported on the situation existing, in their particular sectors.

In the discussion on the present situation, the resolution was strongly opposed by Lev Kamenev and Grigori Zinoviev.

Kamenev said:

“This resolution . . shows how not to carry out an uprising: during this week nothing has been done.. . .

The results for the week indicate that there are no factors favouring a rising. . We have no apparatus for an uprising; our enemies have a much stronger apparatus, and it has probably further increased during this week. . . In preparing for the Constituent Assembly we do not at all embrace the road of parliamentarism. . . Two tactics are fighting here: the tactic of conspiracy and the tactic of faith in the moving forces of the Russian Revolution.”

(L. Kamenev: Speech at Extended Meeting of CC, RSDLP, October 29th., 1917; in: Minutes, cited in: V. I. Lenin: “Collected Works”, Volume 21, Book 2: London; n.d.; p. 337).

Zinoviev said:

“The Constituent Assembly will take place in an atmosphere that is revolutionary to the highest degree. Meanwhile, we shall strengthen our forces. The possibility is not eliminated that we, together with the Left S-Rs, shall be in the majority there. ….We have no right to risk, to stake everything on one card.. . . .

If the congress takes place on the 2nd, we must propose that it should not disband until the constituent assembly convenes. There must be a defensive, waiting tactic. . . It is necessary to reconsider, if possible, the resolution of the CC. . We must definitely tell ourselves that we do not plan an uprising within the next five years.”

(G. Zinoviev: Speech at Extended Meeting of CC, RSDLP, October 29th., 1917, in Ibid; p. 36, 337).

Stalin spoke strongly in favour of confirmation of the Central Committee resolution of October 23rd., and this was finally done by 19 votes against 2 — the dissentients again being Kamenev and Zinoviev.

The Central Committee then continued in session alone, and set up a Military Centre of the Central Committee consisting of Stalin, Sverdlov, Bubnov, Dzerzhinsky and Uritsky.

After the meeting had concluded, Kamenev sent a letter to the Central Committee tendering his resignation from it:

“Not being able to support the point of view expressed in the latest decisions of the CC which define the character of its work, and considering that this position is leading the party of the proletariat to defeat, I ask the CC to recognise that I am no longer a member of the CC.”

(L. Kamenev: Letter to CC, RSDLP, October 29th., 1917, cited in: V. I. Lenin: Ibid. ; p. 260).

The Congress of Soviets of the Northern Region

From October 24-26th , 1917 the Congress of Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies of the Northern Region took place in Petrograd. Since the overwhelming majority of the delegates were Bolsheviks and Left Socialist-Revolutionaries, the Central Executive Committee of the Soviets — still dominated by Mensheviks and Right Socialist-Revolutionaries — declared the congress unofficial, and the small Menshevik fraction declared themselves present “for purposes of information only.”

The congress declared itself in favour of the immediate transfer of power to the Soviets, the immediate transfer of land to the peasants, an immediate offer of peace and the convening of the Constituent Assembly at the appointed time.

On October 29-30th Lenin – wrote a long, “Letter to Comrades” in which he refuted point by point the arguments of Kamenev and Zinoviev against the immediate launching of an insurrection.

On October 31st, Kamenev, on behalf of Zinoviev and himself, published a statement in the newspaper “Novaya Zhizn” (New Life) in which he declared that they felt themselves obliged:

“To declare themselves against any attempt to take the initiative of an armed uprising which would be doomed to defeat and which would have the most dangerous effect on the party, the proletariat, the fate of the revolution. To stake everything on the card of an uprising within the next few days would be tantamount to making a step of desperation”;

(L. Kamenev: “L. Kamenev About the Uprising”, in “Novaya Zhizn”, October 31st., 1917, cited in: V. I. Lenin: ibid.; p. 261).

Lenin thundered immediately at the treachery of the “strikebreakers of the Revolution”:

“On the eve of the critical day . . two ‘outstanding Bolsheviks’ attack an unpublished decision of the Party centre in the non-Party press, in a paper which as far as this given problem is concerned goes hand in hand with the bourgeoisie against the workers’ party. . . .

I will fight with all my power both in the Central Committee and at the congress to expel them both from the Party.

I cannot judge from afar how much damage was done to the cause by the strike-breaking action in the non-Party press. Very great practical damage has undoubtedly been caused. To remedy the situation, it is first of all necessary to re-establish the unity of the Bolshevik front by excluding the strike-breakers.”

(V. I. Lenin: Letter to the Members of the Bolshevik Party, October 31st., 1917, in: ibid.; p. 129-30, 131).

On the following day he wrote to the Central Committee of the Party:

“A self-respecting Party cannot tolerate strike-breaking and strike-breakers in its midst. This is obvious. The more we think about Zinoviev’s and Kamenev’s appearance in the non-Party press, the more obvious it becomes that their action has all the elements of strike-breaking in it.

We cannot refute the gossipy lie of Zinoviev and Kamenev without doing the cause still more harm. Therein lies the boundless meanness, the absolute treacherousness of these two persons, that in the face of the capitalists they have betrayed the strikers’ plans. For once we keep silent in the press, everybody will guess how things stand. . . . .

There can be and must be only one answer to this: an immediate decision of the Central Committee saying that:

‘Recognising in Zinoviev’s and Kamenev’s appearance in the non-Party press all the elements of strikebreaking, the Central Committee expels both from the Party’. . . .

The more ‘outstanding’ the strike-breakers, the more imperative it is to punish them immediately with expulsion.”

(V. I. Lenin: Letter to the Central Committee of the RSDLP, November 1st, 1917; in ibid. p. 133, 135, 136).

The Central Committee Meeting of November 2nd. At its meeting on November 2nd., the Central Committee accepted Kamenev’s resignation from the CC. It adopted a resolution to the effect:

“that no member of the CC shall have the right to speak against the adopted decisions of the CC,”

(Minutes of Meeting of CC, RSDLP, November 2nd., 1917, cited in: V. I. Lenin: “Collected Works”, Volume 21, Book 2; London; n.d.; p. 261).

and a more specific resolution imposing:

“Upon Kamenev and Zinoviev the obligation not to make any statements against the decisions of the CC and the line of work laid out by it.”

(Ibid.; p. 261).

The Insurrection

On November 5th , the Military Revolutionary Committee of the Petrograd Soviet appointed commissars for all the military detachments under its command. On the same day the Peter and Paul fortress, the last important obstacle to insurrection, declared for the Petrograd Soviet.

In the early morning of November 6th, the Provisional Government attempted to launch a counter-offensive against the revolutionary forces by issuing orders for the arrest of the members of the Revolutionary Military Committee and for the suppression of the central organ of the Bolsheviks, “Rabochy Put” (Workers Path).

By 10 a.m. detachments of Red Guards had placed a guard on the printing plant and editorial offices of the newspaper, and at 11 a.m. the paper came out with a call for the immediate overthrow of the Provisional Government.

In the late evening of November 6th, Lenin arrived at the Smolny which, as the headquarters both of the Petrograd Soviet and of the Bolshevik Party, had become the directing centre of the insurrection. Throughout the night, revolutionary soldiers and workers came to the Smolny and were armed with weapons supplied by the army units from the city’s arsenals.

From dawn on November 7th revolutionary troops and Red Guards occupied the Petrograd railway stations, post offices, telegraph offices, telephone exchanges, government offices and the state bank The Pre-Parliament was dispersed. The cruiser “Aurora,” controlled by revolutionary sailors, trained its guns on the Winter Palace, the only territory remaining to the Provisional Government.

During the day the Revolutionary Military Committee issued a manifesto: “To the Citizens of Russia” drafted by Lenin:

“The Provisional Government has been overthrown. The power of state has passed into the hands of the organ of the Petrograd Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies, the Revolutionary Military Committee, which stands at the head of the Petrograd Proletariat and garrison.

The cause for which the people have fought – the immediate proposal of a democratic peace, the abolition of landed proprietorship, workers’ control over production and the creation of a Soviet government — is assured.

Long live the revolution of the workers, soldiers, and peasants!”

(V. I. Lenin: “Manifesto of Revolutionary Military Committee of the Petrograd Soviet, November 7th , 1917, in: V. I. Lenin & J. V. Stalin: “‘1917: Selected Writings and Speeches”; Moscow; 1938; p. 613).

In one respect the manifesto was slightly premature, for it was not until the evening of November 7th. that revolutionary workers, soldiers and sailors took the Winter Palace by storm and arrested those members of the Provisional Government who had not fled (Kerensky had escaped earlier in the day by car, accompanied by a U.S. Embassy car flying the Stars and Stripes).

At 11 p.m. on November 7th the Second All-Russian Congress of Soviets opened in the Smolny.

As Stalin points out:

“It is well known that the uprising was launched prior to the All-Russian Congress of Soviets. It is well known that power was actually taken before the opening of the All-Russian Congress of Soviets, and it was taken not by the Congress of Soviets, but by the Petrograd Soviet, by the Revolutionary Military Committee. The Congress of Soviets merely took over power from the Petrograd Soviet.”

(J. V. Stalin: “Trotskyism Or Leninism?”, in: “Works”, Volume 6; Moscow; 1953; p. 362).

The Role of Trotsky in the October Revolution

As Stalin points out, Trotsky, as President of the Petrograd Soviet and of its Revolutionary Military Committee, played an important role in thc”October Revolution”:

“I am far from denying Trotsky’s undoubtedly important role in the uprising.. . . .It cannot be denied that Trotsky fought well in the period of October . . But Trotsky was not the only one who fought well in the period of October. Even people like the Left Socialist revolutionaries, who then stood side by side with the Bolsheviks, also fought well.”

(J. V. Stalin: “Trotskyism or Leninism?”, in: “Works’, Volume 6; Moscow; 1933; p. 342, 344).

In his myth about the “October Revolution,” however, Trotsky was concerned to underestimate the leading role of the Party in the revolution, to underestimate the role of Lenin (whose tactics for the insurrection were, he alleges, incorrect), and to overestimate the role of the Military Revolutionary Committee Of the Petrograd Soviet and of himself as Chairman of that Committee.

Thus, Trotsky quotes with obvious approval one of the earlier editions of Lenin’s “Collected Works,” in which the editors say in a note on Trotsky:

“After the Petrograd Soviet went Bolshevik he was elected its President and in that capacity organised and led the insurrection of November 7th.”

(Cited by: L. Trotsky “History of the Russian Revolution”, Volume 3; London; 1967; p. 344).

The amendment of this estimation is, alleges Trotsky, due to the fact that:

“The bureaucratic revision of history of the party and the revolution is taking place under Stalin’s direct supervision.”

(L. Trotsky. Ibid.; p. 343).

Stalin certainly denied the “special role” of Trotsky in the “October Revolution” claimed by Trotsky and his supporters:

“The Trotskyites are vigorously spreading rumours that Trotsky inspired and was the sole leader of the October uprising. . Trotsky himself, by consistently avoiding mention of the Party, the Central Committee and the Petrograd Committee of the Party, by saying nothing about the leading role of these organisations in the uprising and vigorously pushing himself forward as the central figure in the October uprising, voluntarily or involuntarily helps to spread the rumours about the special role he is supposed to have played in the uprising….

…I must say, however, that Trotsky did not play any special role in the October uprising, nor could he do so; being chairman of the Petrograd Soviet, he merely carried out the will of the approrpiate Party bodies, which directed every step that Trotsky took.

On October 29 (at a meeting of the Central Committee of the Party — Ed.) a practical centre was elected for the organisational leadership of the uprising. Who was elected to this centre?

The following five: Sverdlov, Stalin, Dzerzhinzky, Bubnov, Uritsky.

The functions of this practica1 centre: to direct all the practical organs of the uprising in conformity with the directives of the Central Committee. Thus, as you see, something ‘terrible’ happened at the meeting of the Central Committee, i.e , ‘strange to relate’ the ‘inspirer’, the ‘chief figure’, the ‘sole 1eader’ of the uprising, Trotsky, was not elected to the practica1 centre, which was called upon to direct the uprising. . . And yet, strictly speaking, there is nothing strange about it, for neither in the party, nor in the October uprising, did Trotsky play any special role, nor could he do so, for he was a relatively new man in our Party in the period of October… He, like all the responsible workers, merely carried out the will of the Central Committee and of its organs. . . This talk about Trotsky’s special role is a legend that is being spread by obliging ‘Party’ gossips.

This of course, does not mean that the October uprising did not have its inspirer. It did have its inspirer and leader, but his was Lenin, and none other than Lenin, that same Lenin whose resolutions the Central Committee adopted when deciding the question of the uprising, that same Lenin who, in spite of what Trotsky says, was not prevented by being in hiding from being the actual inspirer of the uprising. . . .

What sort of a ‘history’ of October is it that begins and ends with attempts to discredit the chief leader of the October uprising, to discredit the Party, which organised and carried out the uprising? Trotsky by his literary pronouncements is making another (yet another!) attempt to create the conditions for substituting Trotskyism for Leninism.”

(J. V. Stalin: ‘Trotskyism or Leninism?”, in: “Works,” Volume 6; Moscow; 1953; p. 341-3, 363, 364).

Trotsky, in his reply, confirms Stalin’s charge that he is concerned to underestimate the leading role of the Party in the insurrection. He admits that “the practical centre” of the Central Committee was set up:

“at Lenin’s suggestion”

(L. Trotsky: ‘History of the Russian Revo1ution;”, Volume 3; London; 1967 p. 339).

But he denies that it or any other party organ guided the insurrection. The insurrection, he declares, was guided by the Revolutionary Committee of the Petrograd Soviet, with Trotsky as its chairman, alone:

“The Military Revolutionary Committee from the moment of its birth had the direct leadership not only of the garrison, but of the Red Guard. . .. No place remained for any other directing centre….There was but one revolutionary centre, that affiliated with the Soviet — that is, the Military Revolutionary Committee.”

(L. Trotsky: ibid.) p. 340, 341).

The Character of the “October Revolution”

Lenin characterised the “October Revolution” as a proletarian-socialist revolution in its main, political content — since by it the working class in alliance with, and leading, the peasantry seized political poor from the capitalist class. But he characterised it as a bourgeois-democratic revolution in its’ economic content — since it completed the bourgeois-democratic revolutionary tasks which the “February Revolution” did not carry out.

“The immediate and direct aim of the revolution in Russia was a bourgeois-democratic aim, namely to destroy the relics of medievalism and abolish them completely….We brought the bourgeois-democratic revolution to completion has done before.

We are progressing towards the socialist revolution, consciously, deliberately and undeviatingly, knowing that no Chinese wall separates it from the bourgeois-democratic revolution….

But…we solved the problems of the bourgeois-democratic revolution in passing, as a “by-product” of the main and real proletarian-revolutionary socialist work.”

(V. I. Lenin: “The Fourth Anniversary of the October Revolution”, in: “Selected Works”, Volume 6; London; 1946; p. 500; 501; 503.)

“The October Revolution overthrew the bourgeoisie and transferred power to the proletariat but did not immediately lead to:
the completion of the bourgeois revolution, in general and: the isolation of the kulaks in the countryside, in particular –
these were spread over a certain period of time but this does not mean that our fundamenta1 slogan at the second stage of the revolution – “together with the poor peasantry, against capitalism in town and country, while neutralising the middle peasantry, for the power of the proletariat” –
— was wrong . . . .
The strategic slogans of the Party can be appraised only from the point of view of a Marxist analysis of the class forces and of the correct disposition of the revolutionary forces. . . . .
Is it possible for the overthrow of the power of the bourgoisie and the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat to be effected within the framework of the bourgeois revolution? . . .
How can it be asserted that the kulaks (who, of course, are also peasants) could support the overthrow of the bourgoisie and the transfer of power to the proletariat’? . .. . .
One of the main tasks of the October Revolution was to complete the bourgeois revolution. . . .and since the October Revolution did complete the bourgeois revolution it was bound to meet with the sympathy of all the peasants . . But can it be asserted on these grounds that the completion of the bourgeois revolution was not a derivative phenomenon in the course of the October Revolution but its essence or its principal aim? . . .
And if the main theme of a strategic slogan is the question of the transfer of power from one class to another, is it not clear from this that the question of the completion of the bourgeois revolution by the proletarian power must not be confused with the question of overthrowing the bourgeoisie and achieving this proletarian power, i.e., with the question that is the main theme at the second stage of the revolution? .
In order to complete the bourgeois revolution it was necessary in October:
first to overthrow the power of the bourgeoisie and to set up the power of the proletariat, for only such a power is capable of completing the bourgeois revolution. But in order to set up the power of the proletariat in October it was essential to prepare and organise for October the appropriate political army, an army capable of overthrowing the bourgeoisie and of establishing the power of the proletariat, and there is no need to prove that such a political army could be prepared and organised by us only under the slogan:
Alliance of the proletariat with the poor peasantry against the bourgeoisie, for the dictatorship of the proletariat.”

(J. V. Stalin: “The Party’s Three Fundamental Slogans on the Peasant Question”, in “Works”; Volume 9; Moscow; 1954; p. 208-09; 210, 211-12).

For the autumn of 1913, however, the continuing revolution developed uninterruptedly into a proletarian-socialist revolution in its economic content.

“Until the organisation of the Committees of Poor Peasants, i.e., down to the summer and even the autumn of 1918, our revolution was to a large extent a bourgeois revolution . . . But from the moment the Committees of Poor Peasants began to be organised, our revolution became a proletarian revolution. . It was only when the October revolution in the countryside began and was accomplished in the summer of 1913 that we found our real proletarian base; it was only then that our revolution became a proletarian revolution in fact, and not merely by virtue of proclamations, promises and declarations.”

(V. I. Lenin: Report of the Central Committee of the Russian Communist (Bolsheviks) at the Eighth Party Congress, in: “Selected Works”, Volume 3; London; 1943; 10. 37, 33).

“In November 1917 we seized power together with the peasantry as a whole. This was a bourgeois revolution in as much as the class war in the rural districts had not yet developed.”

(V. I. Lenin: “Work in the Rural Districts”, in: ibid.; p. 171).

CONCLUSION

From the foundation of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party to November 1917, the efforts of the revisionists in Russia were directed towards preventing the socialist revolution from taking place, making use in the main of open political opposition, couched in pseudo-Marxist phraseology, either to the revolution itself or to the policies necessary to bring the revolution about. These efforts of the revisionists, dealt with in this report, met with failure. The socialist revolution took place in November 1917.

From the socialist revolution in November 1917 to the summer of 1932, the efforts of the revisionists in Soviet Russia were directed towards preventing the construction of socialism from being brought about, making use in the main of open political opposition, couched in pseudo-Marxist-Leninist phraseology, either to the construction of socialism itself or to the policies necessary to bring about the construction of socialism. These efforts of the revisionists, to be dealt with in a later report, met with failure.

A socialist society was completely — though not completely securely for all time – constructed in the Soviet Union.

In the period from the summer of 1932 to the mid-1960s, the efforts of the revisionists in the Soviet Union were directed towards restoring a capitalist society, making use in the main of conspiratorial methods of political opposition. These efforts of the revisionists, to be dealt with in a later report, met with success. Today in the Soviet Union the dictatorship of the working class has been liquidated and all the essentials of a state capitalist economic system, based on profit as the motive of production and on the exploitation of the Soviet working class by the new class of state capitalists, have been brought into being.

The Soviet Union has become a neo–imperialist state, pursuing essentially similar aims to those of the older imperialist states, and the Communist Party of the Soviet Union has been transformed by its revisionist leaders from the vanguard party of the Soviet working class to a fascist-type political instrument of the Soviet neo- imperialists.

An analysis of the way in which the revisionists succeeded in dominating, and bringing about the degeneration of, the international communist movement is essential to the task of building a Marxist-Leninist International free of all revisionist trends. The series of reports on “The Origins of Revisionism”, of which the preceding report forms one, is an attempt to make such an analysis.

THE END

Dimitrov to Stalin on the Dissolution of the Polish Communist Party

Polrewkom_1920

Dimitrov to Stalin, 28 November 1937, with enclosed draft resolution of the ECCI. Original in Russian. Typewritten with handwritten comments by Stalin.

Top secret, [1]

Dear Comrade Stalin!

We are thinking of passing the attached resolution on the dissolution of the Polish Communist Party in the ECCI Presidium, and then publishing it.

After publishing this resolution, we would send an open letter to the Polish Communists that would reveal in greater detail the enemy’s decomposing activities within the ranks of the Communist Party and the Polish workers’ movement.

In reestablishing the CP of Poland, it has been suggested that a special organizational commission be formed. We plan to select some of the members of this commission for the most distinguished and tested fighters from the International Brigades in Spain.

We beg you, Comrade Stalin, to give your advice and directives:

  1. Regarding this issue, whether this announcement will be expedient before the investigation of the former Polish party leaders under arrest is completed, or should we wait longer?
  2. Regarding the contents and the character of the resolution on the dissolution of the CP of Poland itself.

With fraternal greetings.

Dimitrov

 

No. 132/Id

28 November 1937

T[op] Secret,

RESOLUTION OF THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF THE COMMUNIST INTERNATIONAL

Polish fascism, unable to cope with the growing mass revolutionary movement by means of overt terror alone, has made espionage, sabotage, and provocation the major tool of its struggle against the workers’ movement, against all anti-fascist, democratic forces, [having] poisoned the entire political and social life in Poland with this foul system. For many years, it has been planting its spies and agents among all the workers’ and peasants’ democratic organizations. However, the Pilsudchiks [2] made a special effort to infiltrate the Communist movement, which represents the greatest threat for Polish fascism.

The Executive Committee of the Communist International has established, on the basis of irrefutable documentary evidence, That for a number of years enemies, agents of Polish fascism, have been operating within the leadership structures of the Polish Communist Party. By organizing splits, often fictitious, within the workers’, national-democratic, and petty-bourgeois organizations, the Pilsudchiks poured their spies and provocateurs into the Communist Party, disguised as oppositional elements coming over to the ranks of the Communist movement (the PPS group headed by Sochacki-Bratowski, the Poalei-Zion group headed by Henrykowski and Lampe, the Ukrainian s[ocial] d[emocratic] group, the UVO group of Wasylkiw-Turianski, Korczyk’s group of Belorussian SRs, the “Wyzwolenie” group of Wojewodzki). [3] By arranging the arrests so as to remove the most loyal elements from the Communist ranks. the Polish defenziwa [counterintelligence] gradually advanced its agents into leading positions in the Communist Party. At the same time, in order to give its agents provocateurs and spies authority among the workers [and] members of the Communist Party after staging mock trials, the fascists would often subject their own agents to imprisonment so that later they could be liberated, at the earliest convenience, by organizing “escapes” or by “exchanges” for spies and saboteurs caught red-handed in the USSR. With the help of their agents in the leading organs of the party, the Pilsudchiks promoted their people [for example Zarski, Sochacki, Dombal] to the Communist faction of the Sejm [parliament] during the elections to the Sejm, instructed them to deliver provocative speeches, which the fascists used to attack the Soviet Union and for the bloody repression of the workers’ and peasants’ movement.

The gang of spies and provocateurs entrenched in the leadership of the Polish Communist Party, having planted, in turn, agents in the periphery of the party organization, systematically betrayed the best sons of the working class to the class enemy. By organizing failures, [they were] destroying, year after year, party organizations in the Polish heartland, as well as in Western Belorussia and Western Ukraine. [This gang] systematically perverted the party’s political line so as to weaken the influence of communism among the masses, to make the party increasingly alien and hostile to the Communist International. For its work of disintegration, Polish fascism widely used a Trotskyist-Bukharinist reprobates, [who] either were already, or were willingly becoming, agents of Polish defenwiza, by virtue of having a common outlook with fascism. The Polish defenwiza kindled the factional struggle in the party, through its agents both in the Kostrzewa-Warski group and in the Lenski-Henrykowski group, and used both factions to disorganize the party and its work among the masses, and to separate the workers from the Communist Party.

However, the most ignoble role that this espionage agency played was following the directives of the fascist intelligence in relation to the USSR. Playing on the nationalist prejudices of the most backward masses among the Polish people, it sought to create obstacles to the rapprochement of the peoples of Poland and the peoples of the USSR, and in the interests of the fascist warmongers, to wreck the cause of peace that is selflessly defended by the great country of the Soviets. At the same time, this network of class enemies, disguised as political emigres, was transferred by Polish fascism to the USSR so as to conduct espionage, sabotage, and wrecking activities.

All attempts to purge the agents of Polish fascism from the ranks of the Communist movement, while retaining the current organization of the Polish Communist Party, prove futile, since the central party organs were in the hands of spies and provocateurs who used the difficult situation of the underground party to remain in its leadership.

Based on all this and in order to give honest Polish Communists a chance to rebuild a party, once it is purged of all agents of Polish fascism, the Executive Committee of the Communist International, in accordance with the statutes and the decisions of the Congresses of the Communist International, resolves:

1. To dissolve the Polish Communist Party because of its saturation with spies and provocateurs.

2. To recommend that all honest Communists, until the re-creation of the Polish Communist Party, shift the emphasis of their work to those mass organizations where there are workers and toilers, while fighting to establish the unity of the workers’ movement and to create in Poland a popular antifascist front.

At the same time, the ECCI warns the Communists and the Polish workers against any attempt by Polish fascism and its Trotskyist-Bukharinist espionage network to create a new organization of espionage and provocation, under the guise of a pseudo-Communist Party of Poland, to corrupt the Communist movement.

The Communist International knows that thousands of Polish workers sacrifice themselves and their lives to serving and protecting the vital interests of the toiling masses; it knows that the heroic Polish proletariat had, in its glorious revolutionary past, many remarkable moments of struggle against the tsarist and Austro-Hungarian monarchies, against Polish fascism. It knows about the heroic deeds of the Dombrowski battalions sent by the Polish proletariat to defend the Spanish people. It is convinced that the Polish proletariat will have [again] a Communist party, purged of the foul agents of the class enemy, which will indeed lead the struggle of the Polish toiling masses for their liberation.

 

Footnotes

[1] Handwritten in the margin: “N1433/2 XII 37.” Across the letter, Stalin wrote: “The dissolution is about two years two late. It is necessary to dissolve [the party], but in my opinion, [this] should not be published in the press.” This resolution was first published in Voprosy istorii KPSS, 1988, no. 12, p. 52,

[2] Pilsudchiks: a derisive name used to describe the Polish government under Marshal Pilsudski, and a generic term for his followers. Jozef Pilsudski was a leader of the right-wing of the Polish Socialist Party. In 1918 he was war minister, and between 1918 and 1922 head of state. After May 1926 he was again war minister, then prime minister, and later inspector general of Poland’s armed forces – Trans.

[3] Various Polish, Jewish, Ukrainian, and Belorussian groups.

From “Dimitrov and Stalin, 1934-1943: Letters from the Soviet Archives” by Alexander Dallin and F.I. Firsov, pp. 28-31.

Grover Furr: Trotsky’s Lies – What They Are, and What They Mean

The personality and the writings of Leon Trotsky have long been a rallying point for anticommunists throughout the world. But during the 1930s Trotsky deliberately lied in his writings about Joseph Stalin and the Soviet Union. My new book, Trotsky’s ‘Amalgams’, discusses some of Trotsky’s lies that have fooled people, and demoralized honest communists, for decades. 

 

In January 1980 the Trotsky Archive at Harvard University was opened to researchers. Within a few days Pierre Broué, the foremost Trotskyist historian of his time, discovered that Trotsky had lied. Trotsky had always denied that any clandestine “bloc of oppositionists” including Trotskyists, existed in the Soviet Union. Trotsky called this an “amalgam,” meaning a fabrication by Stalin. This “bloc” was the main focus of the second and third Moscow Trials of January 1937 and March 1938. Broué showed, from letters in the Trotsky Archive by Trotsky and by his son Leon Sedov, that the bloc did exist.

 

In 1985 American historian Arch Getty discovered that the Harvard Trotsky Archive had been purged of incriminating materials, but purged imperfectly. Getty also found evidence that Trotsky had indeed remained in contact with some of his former supporters inside the Soviet Union. Trotsky always strenuously denied this, claiming that he cut off all ties to those who “capitulated” to Stalin and publicly renounced their Trotskyist views. Again, Trotsky was lying. In 2010 Swedish researcher Sven-Eric Holmström published an article on the “Hotel Bristol” question in the First Moscow Trial of August 1936. In it Holmström proves that Trotsky was lying here too. 

 

In 2005 I began to systematically study all the accusations against Stalin and Beria that Nikita Khrushchev made in his infamous “Secret Speech.” I discovered that not a single one of Khrushchev’s so-called “revelations” can be supported from the evidence. But during the 1930s Trotsky had made the same kind of accusations against Stalin that Khrushchev later did. The fact that Khrushchev did nothing but lie suggested that Trotsky might have lied as well. Thanks to Broué and Getty I already knew that Trotsky had lied about some very important matters. Any detective, in any mystery story, knows that if a suspect has lied about some important matters, he should ask himself: What else is this person lying about?

 

I set about studying his writings in order to determine which of Trotsky’s statements could be tested. Wherever I had independent evidence to check the veracity of any accusation that Trotsky levelled against Stalin, I found that Trotsky was lying — again. Today I have so much evidence that even a whole book does not come close to holding it all. So there will be two more volumes concerning Trotsky’s lies. The second volume will be published in early 2017.

Between September 2010 and January 2013 I researched and wrote a book on the assassination on December 1, 1934 of Sergei Mironovich Kirov, First Secretary of the Leningrad Party. That book, The Murder of Sergei Kirov, was published in June 2013. The Kirov murder is the key to the Soviet high politics of the rest of the 1930s: the three public Moscow Trials of August 1936, January 1937, and March 1938, often called “Show Trials;” the Military Purge or “Tukhachevsky Affair” of May and June 1937; and the Ezhovshchina of July 1937 to October 1938, which anticommunist scholars call the “Great Terror,” after a dishonest book by Robert Conquest. 

 

Trotsky too wrote about the Kirov murder investigation. He identified the articles in the French communist and Soviet press that he read. I discovered that Trotsky lied about what these articles on the Kirov murder investigation said. Trotsky fabricated a story that Stalin and his men were responsible for Kirov’s death. Once again, Trotsky lied about what the articles he read in the French communist newspaper Humanité and in Russian-language Soviet papers, to which Trotsky had access within only a couple of days of their publication in Moscow. 

 

Trotsky’s lies would have been immediately apparent to anybody who set Trotsky’s articles side by side with the French and Russian newspaper articles that he had read and which he claimed he was closely studying and analyzing. It appears that no one ever did that – until now. The result was that Trotsky’s falsified version of the Kirov assassination – that Stalin and the NKVD had killed Kirov – was taken up not only by Trotsky’s followers, but by Nikita Khrushchev. 

 

In his completely fraudulent “Secret Speech” Khrushchev gave additional credibility to the “Stalin killed Kirov” story. Khrushchev and his speechwriters probably took this directly from Trotsky. Trotsky’s tale that “Stalin had Kirov killed” passed from Khrushchev to the professional anticommunist scholar-propagandists like Robert Conquest and many others. In the late 1980s Mikhail Gorbachev’s men tried and failed to find evidence in the Soviet archives to support this story. 

 

Aleksandr Iakovlev, Gorbachev’s chief man for ideology, sent them back to the archives to try again. Once again, the Politburo research team filed to find any evidence to even suggest that Stalin had had Kirov killed. The history of the “Stalin had Kirov killed” fabrication is a good example of how a number of Trotsky’s deliberate lies were taken up by Soviet anticommunists like Khrushchev and Gorbachev, and by pro-capitalist anticommunists in the West. In my new book Trotsky’s “Amalgams” I uncover and discuss a number of other deliberate lies by Trotsky about Stalin and the USSR. All of them have been adopted by anticommunists and by Trotskyists. In the second and third volumes of this work I will discuss Trotsky’s conspiracies with saboteurs and fascists inside the USSR, and with the Nazis and the Japanese militarists. 

 

In early 1937 Trotsky succeeded in persuading John Dewey, the famous educator, and a number of others, to hold hearings, supposedly to determine whether the charges leveled against Trotsky in the August 1936 and January 1937 Moscow Show Trials were true. The Commission duly concluded that Trotsky was innocent and the Moscow Trials were all a frame-up. I carefully studied the 1,000 pages of the Dewey Commission materials. I discovered that the Commission was dishonest and shockingly incompetent. It made error after error in logical reasoning. Of most interest is the fact that Trotsky lied to the Dewey Commission many times. The Dewey Commission could not possibly have declared Trotsky “Not Guilty” if the Commission members had known that Trotsky was lying to them. I wish to briefly mention two more sections of my book. They are: my project to verify – that is, to check — the Moscow Trials testimony; and my examination of the errors that most readers of Soviet history make, errors which make them unable to understand the significance of the evidence we now have. 

 

The testimony of the defendants in the three public Moscow Trials is universally declared to be false, forced from innocent men by the prosecution, the NKVD, “Stalin.” There has never been a shred of evidence to support this notion. Nevertheless, it is staunchly affirmed by ALL specialists in Soviet history, as well as by all Trotskyists. Thanks to years of identifying, searching for, locating, obtaining, and studying primary sources, I realized that there now exists enough evidence to test many of the statements made by the Moscow Trials defendants. I devote the first twelve chapters of Trotsky’s ‘Amalgams’ to a careful verification of many of the statements by the Moscow Trials defendants. I found that, whenever we can double-check a fact-claim made by a Moscow Trials defendant against independent evidence now available, it turns out that the Moscow Trials defendant was telling the truth. Trotsky, Khrushchev and his men, Cold-War Soviet “experts,” 

 

Gorbachev and his men, and today’s academic scholars in Soviet studies, all claimed or claim that the Trials are frame-ups. I prove from the evidence that they are wrong. The Moscow Trials testimony is what it claims to be: statements that the defendants chose to make. I verify this with a great deal of evidence from outside the Trials themselves and even outside the Soviet Union. This is an important conclusion. This result in itself disproves the “anti-Stalin paradigm” of Soviet history. It also contributes to disproving Trotsky’s version of Soviet history, a version that the Trotskyist movement worldwide continues to believe and to propagate today. Those of us — researchers, activists, and others — who wish to find the truth about Soviet history of the Stalin period, and not merely attempt to confirm our preconceived ideas about it – we are in possession of a number of results that completely overturn the convention anti-Stalin paradigm of Soviet history. These include the following: 

 

* the fact that Nikita Khrushchev lied about every accusation he made against Stalin (and Lavrentii Beria) in his world-shaking “Secret Speech” to the XX Party Congress of the CPSU in February 1956. This clearly means that Khrushchev’s researchers could not find any true “crimes” that Stalin – or Beria – had committed, and so were reduced to fabrication. 

 

* the fact that, despite a very thorough and time-consuming search of the archives in 1962-1964, Khrushchev’s “Shvernik Commission” could find no evidence at all to suggest that either the Moscow Trials defendants or the “Tukhachevsky Affair” defendants were victims of a “frame-up” or had lied in their confessions in any way. 

 

* the fact that neither Gorbachev’s and Eltsin’s researchers, nor the anticommunist researchers since that time, who have had wide access to the former Soviet archives, have been able to find any evidence at all to challenge the conclusions in the Kirov Assassination, the Moscow Trials, or the Military Purges. 

 

* the fact that the testimony at the Moscow Trials was, in the main, truthful. 

 

* the fact that Ezhov and Ezhov alone, not Stalin and his supporters in the Soviet leadership, were responsible for the mass murders of July 1938 to November 1939 known to scholars as the “Ezhovshchina” and to anticommunist propagandists as “the Great Terror.” 

 

* the fact that, in his writings about the USSR during the period after the Kirov murder, Trotsky lied repeatedly in order to cover up his conspiracies. 

 

* the fact that most of today’s scholars of the Stalin period in the USSR lie in order to deceive their readers. But they do so in a way that can only be discovered by a very close, detailed study of their sources. 

 

Trotskyist scholarship is consistently parasitical on mainstream anticommunist scholarship. Here is one example. In a recent review on the Trotskyist, and ferociously anti-Stalin World Socialist Web Site (wsws.org) of Princeton University historian Stephen Kotkin’s book Stalin, a Trotskyist reviewer refers approvingly to the anti-Stalin statements of Oleg Khlevniuk, who is called the respected Russian historian Oleg Khlevniuk. – https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2015/06/04/kot4-j04.html 

 

Khlevniuk is a fanatical anticommunist and also a very blatant liar, in all his writings. Khlevniuk is anti-Stalin; WSWS.ORG, the Trotskyist publication, is anti-Stalin; therefore the Trotskyists “trust” the foremost anticommunist liar in the world today! Meanwhile, mainstream anticommunist scholarship has been drawing upon the writings of Trotsky himself for decades. Trotsky, of course, knew that he was lying: 

 

* about the “bloc of Rights, Trotskyists, Zinovievites, and other Oppositionists;” 

 

* about his own involvement in the assassination of Sergei Kirov in December 1934; 

 

* about his conspiring with the “Tukhachevsky Affair” military conspirators for a coup d’état against the Stalin government and to stab the Red Army in the back during an invasion by Germany or Japan; 

 

* about his conspiring with the Nazis and the Japanese militarists; 

 

* about conspiring with fascists and his own followers within the USSR to sabotage industry, transportation, and mines. 

 

* about the charges against, and the confessions by, the defendants in the Moscow trials, which Trotsky knew were true. 

 

Trotsky knew that he lied, repeatedly, over and over again, in his Bulletin of the Opposition. Trotsky knew that he repeated these lies to the Dewey Commission. 

 

The Spanish Civil War 

 

And Trotsky knew that he lied to his own followers, including his closest followers like Andres Nin, Erwin Wolf, and Kurt Landau. Nin had been one of Trotsky’s closest political assistants. Nin is supposed to have broken with Trotsky in 1931. But in 1930 Nin wrote, in a Trotskyist journal, that Trotsky’s Soviet-based followers who had retracted their Trotskyist views and pledged loyalty to the Communist Party’s line, had done so dishonestly. They had done so in order to remain within the Party so they could continue to recruit others to their secret conspiracies. Therefore, though Nin openly broke with the Trotskyist movement in an organizational sense, his actions in Spain suggest that this was a cover for maintaining a secret connection with Trotsky. 

 

The Spanish communists and the Soviet NKVD in Spain suspected this too. Nin became one of the leaders of the POUM, an anti-Soviet and antiStalin party that was very friendly to Trotsky. Erwin Wolf went to Spain as Trotsky’s political representative. He did so in order to lead a “revolution” against the Spanish Republic – right in the middle of a war with the Spanish fascists, who were aided by Hitler and Mussolini. Nin and Wolf ran these risks because they believed that Trotsky was innocent of the charges that were made against him in the Moscow Trials. They thought that Trotsky, not Stalin, was the true communist and true revolutionary. Consequently, they thought that they were going to Spain to do what Lenin would have wanted done. 

 

In May 1937 a revolt against the Spanish Republican government broke out in Barcelona. POUM and the Spanish Trotskyists enthusiastically participated in this revolt. It appears that Nin, Wolf, and Landau thought this might be the beginning of a Bolshevik-style revolution, with themselves as Lenin, the POUM as the Bolsheviks, the Republican government as the capitalists, and the Spanish and Soviet communists as the phony socialists like Alexander Kerensky! The “Barcelona May Days Revolt,” was a vicious stab in the back against the Republic during wartime. It was suppressed in less than a week. After that, the Spanish police and Soviet NKVD hunted down the Trotskyists and the POUM leadership. Andres Nin was certainly kidnapped, interrogated, and then murdered by the Soviets and Spanish police. The same thing probably happened to Landau and Wolf. 

 

The Soviets knew then what we know today: that Trotsky was conspiring with the Germans, the Japanese, and the “Tukhachevsky Affair’ military men. But Nin and Wolf certainly did not know this. They believed Trotsky’s professions of innocence. If Andres Nin, Erwin Wolf, and Kurt Landau had known what Trotsky knew, and what we now know, would they have gone to Spain to try to carry out Trotsky’s instructions? Impossible! Therefore, Trotsky sent these men into an extremely dangerous situation by means of lying to them about his own activities and aims, and about what Stalin was doing. And it cost them their lives. The same is true for all the Trotskyists who were executed in the Soviet Union itself. Evidently, there were hundreds of them. They all supported Trotsky because they believed his version of Soviet history, and had been convinced by Trotsky’s writings that Stalin was lying, that the Moscow Trials were a frame-up, and that the Stalin regime had abandoned the goal of worldwide socialist revolution. These men and women would not have followed Trotsky if he had not lied to them. 

 

In the first chapter of Trotsky’s “Amalgams” I examine the errors that most students of Soviet history, including academic professionals, make when faced with primary source evidence. The truth is that very few people, including professional historians, know how to examine historical evidence. Very few Marxists know what a materialist examination of evidence looks like, or are capable of recognizing or critiquing an idealist argument when they are confronted with one. These errors are not only errors of “denial” by persons who do not wish to have their proTrotsky or anti-Stalin preconceptions disproven. Most or all of these same errors are made by pro-Stalin, anti-revisionist people. Anticommunist arguments have been so overwhelming, not only in Cold War pro-capitalist form but especially in supposedly procommunist but in reality anticommunist Khrushchev- and Gorbachev-era writings, that it has degraded the thinking of all of us. 

 

The lies of Trotsky’s that Pierre Broué and Arch Getty discovered 30 years ago have been ignored. This fact itself deserves explanation. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s Broué continued to find, and write about, more lies by Trotsky. But all the while he continued to deny that these lies were of any importance. Broué also ignored Getty’s two discoveries. First, that the Trotsky Archive had been “purged” of incriminating materials. Second, that Trotsky had indeed remained in contact with oppositionists like Radek with whom he swore he had broken all ties. Vadim Rogovin, the leading Trotskyist historian of the Stalin-era Soviet Union, went along with Broué’s cover-up and also introduced some lies of his own. Trotskyists and Cold Warriors continue either to ignore Broué’s discoveries altogether or to echo Broué’s claim that these lies were of little significance. We can understand why they do this. 

 

The fact that Trotsky lied dismantles what I call the “anti-Stalin paradigm”: the Trotskyist and the Cold War anticommunist versions of Soviet history. Trotsky, of course, had to lie. He was running a serious conspiracy to get rid of Stalin, in conjunction with many supporters inside the Soviet Union and the Bolshevik Party and in collusion with Nazi Germany, militarist Japan, England and France. A conspiracy requires secrecy and lying. But who, above all, was Trotsky fooling? Not Stalin and the Soviet government. They knew he was lying. The conclusion is inescapable: Trotsky was lying in order to fool his own supporters! They were the only people who believed whatever Trotsky wrote. 

 

They believed Trotsky was the true, principled Leninist that he claimed to be, and that Stalin was the liar. This cost the lives of most of his supporters inside the Soviet Union, when Trotskyism was outlawed as treason to the Soviet state because of Trotsky’s conspiracy with Germany and Japan. It has led Trotsky’s followers outside the Soviet Union to spend their lives in cult-like devotion to a man who was, in fact, doing just what the Soviet prosecutor and the Moscow Trials defendants claimed he was doing. 

 

The figure of Leon Trotsky casts a giant shadow over the history of the Soviet Union, and therefore over the history of the world in the 20th century. Trotsky was the most significant – in fact, the only outstanding – Opposition figure in the factional disputes that shook the Bolshevik Party during the 1920s. It was during the 20s that Trotsky attracted to himself the group of persons who formed the United Opposition and whose conspiracies did so much irreparable harm to the Party, the Comintern, and the world communist movement. 

 

Conclusions 

 

What does the fact that Trotsky lied, that Khrushchev lied, and that these facts were ignored for so long, mean? 

 

What does it mean for the main question that faces us, and billions of working people in the world, today? I mean the question of why the wonderful international communist movement of the 20th century collapsed, the movement that 70 years ago, triumphant in World War 2, in the Chinese communist revolution, in the anti-colonial movements around the world, seemed to be poised to bring about an end to capitalism and the victory of world socialism? 

 

How do we convince workers, students, and others that we know why the old communist movement failed and that we have learned what we have to do differently to avoid repeating those failures in the future? We must study this question. We also need to discuss it – to entertain and debate different, informed viewpoints. 

 

Therefore we have to defend the legacy of the international communist movement during Lenin’s and, especially, during Stalin’s time. At the same time we must be fearlessly critical of it, so we discover what errors they made and so not make the same errors again. In my judgment – and I hope that it is yours as well – discovering the reasons for the collapse of the magnificent international communist movement of the 20th century is the most important historical and theoretical question for all exploited people today, the vast majority of humankind. To have any hope of solving it, we must think boldly, “go where no one has gone before.” If we pretend that “Marx and Engels had all the answers,” or “Lenin had all the answers” (many Trotskyists, of course, believe that “Trotsky had all the answers”) — if we believe that, then we are guaranteed, AT BEST, to fall far short of what they achieved. Marx said that great historical events occur twice “the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.” 

 

The tragedy of the international communist movement of the 20th century was that, ultimately, it failed. Unless we figure out where they went wrong then we are doomed to be the “farce.” And that would be a political crime — OUR crime. So we have to look with a critical eye at ALL of our legacy. Marx’s favorite saying was: “De omnibus dubitandum” — “Question everything.” Marx would be the last person in the world to exclude himself from this questioning. 

 

History can’t teach lessons directly. And history isn’t political theory. But if we ask the right questions, history can help us answer them. Meanwhile, we should all publicize everywhere and in every way we can that, like Khrushchev and Gorbachev, Trotsky lied – provably, demonstrably lied – and, what’s more, that all the anti-Stalin, anticommunist “experts” anointed by capitalist universities and research institutes are lying too. 

 

We need to point out that the only way forward is to build a new communist movement to get rid of capitalism. And that to do that, we need to learn from the heroic successes, as well as from the tragic errors, of the Bolsheviks during the period when the Soviet Union was led by Joseph Stalin. My hope and my goal is to contribute, through my research, to this project which is so vital for the future of working people everywhere. Thank you.

 

* Professor, Montclair State University, Montclair, NJ 07043 USA. The above is a Presentation at the 7th World Socialism Forum, World Socialism Research Center, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), October 22, 2016.

The First May Day Under Nazi Rule

“In 1933 Adolf Hitler, with the full support and assistance of powerful monopoly capitalists, seized power in Germany. On April 24, Dr. Paul Joseph Goebbels, Nazi Minister of Propaganda and Popular Enlightenment, issued a May Day Manifesto which was carried on the front page of every newspaper in Germany. Addressed ‘to the whole German people,’ it announced that May 1st had been made ‘the festival day of national labor’ and called for a celebration in which ‘Germans of all classes’ would ‘clasp hands’ and ‘in solid formation march into the new future.’ Class was a thing of the past, ‘since Marxism is smashed.’…

The London Times praised Hitler and the Nazis for having ended ‘the glorification of class-warfare and made May Day an occasion for the abolition of class differences and for the unification of workers and employers in the Fascist model.’ What it did not tell its readers was that despite the Nazi terror, the illegal Communist Party of Germany (KPD) held demonstrations on May 1, 1933, at which the red flag was displayed in Berlin, Chemnitz, Dresden, Halle, Hamburg, Leipzig, Sachsen, Thüringen, and Wittenberg. In Berlin workers raised the cry ‘Freedom for Thaelmann’ (the Communist leader who was facing death in a Nazi concentration camp), ‘The KPD lives,’ . . .

On the very next day after May Day, Hitler signed legislation outlawing the free trade unions in Germany with their membership of 4,000,000, and seized their assets of over 180,000,000 marks. All union leaders who could be seized were taken into custody. Dr. Herbert Ley, president of the Prussian State Council, gave the following reason for the action against the free trade unions: ‘Marxism today is playing dead, but is not yet altogether abolished. It is therefore necessary to deprive it of its last strength.’ The New York Times noted that the action came one day after ‘the May Day wooing of German labor.’”

 – Philip S. Foner, “May Day: A Short History of the International Workers’ Holiday”

Isaac Asimov Reviews ‘1984’

Originally published in The New York Times.

REVIEW OF 1984

By Isaac Asimov

I’ve been writing a four-part article for Field Newspaper Syndicate at the beginning of each year for several years now and in 1980, mindful of the approach of the year 1984, FNS asked me to write a thorough critique of George Orwell’s novel 1984.

I was reluctant. I remembered almost nothing of the book and said so – but Denison Demac, the lovely young woman who is my contact at FNS, simply sent me a copy of it and said, ‘Read it.’

So I read it and found myself absolutely astonished at what I read. I wondered how many people who talked about the novel so glibly had ever read it; or if they had, whether they remembered it at all.

I felt I would have to write the critique if only to set people straight. (I’m sorry; I love setting people straight.)

A. THE WRITING OF 1984

In 1949, a book entitled 1984 was published. It was written by Eric Arthur Blair under the pseudonym of George Orwell.

The book attempted to show what life would be like in a world of total evil, in which those controlling the government kept themselves in power by brute force, by distorting the truth, by continually rewriting history, by mesmerising the people generally.

This evil world was placed only thirty-five years in the future so that even men who were already in their early middle age at the time the book was published might live to see it if they lived out a normal lifetime.

I, for instance, was already a married man when the book appeared and yet here we are less than four years away from that apocalyptic year (for ‘1984’ has become a year that is associated with dread because of Orwell’s book), and I am very likely to live to see it.

In this chapter, I will discuss the book, but first: Who was Blair/Orwell and why was the book written?

Blair was born in 1903 into the status of a British gentleman. His father was in the Indian civil service and Blair himself lived the life of a British Imperial official. He went to Eton, served in Burma, and so on. However, he lacked the money to be an English gentleman to the full. Then, too, he didn’t want to spend his time at dull desk jobs; he wanted to be a writer. Thirdly, he felt guilty about his status in the upper class. So he did in the late 1920s what so many well-to-do American young people in the 1960s did. In short, he became what we would have called a ‘hippie’ at a later time. He lived under slum conditions in London and Paris, consorted with and identified with slum dwellers and vagrants, managed to ease his conscience and, at the same time, to gather material for his earliest books.

He also turned left wing and became a socialist, fighting with the loyalists in Spain in the 1930s. There he found himself caught up in the sectarian struggles between the various left-wing factions, and since he believed in a gentlemanly English form of socialism, he was inevitably on the losing side. Opposed to him were passionate Spanish anarchists, syndicalists, and communists, who bitterly resented the fact that the necessities of fighting the Franco fascists got in the way of their fighting each other.

The communists, who were the best organised, won out and Orwell had to leave Spain, for he was convinced that if he did not, he would be killed From then on, to the end of his life, he carried on a private literary war with the communists, determined to win in words the battle he had lost in action.

During World War II, in which he was rejected for military service, he was associated with the left wing of the British Labour party, but didn’t much sympathise with their views, for even their reckless version of socialism seemed too well organised for him. He wasn’t much affected, apparently, by the Nazi brand of totalitarianism, for there was no room within him except for his private war with Stalinist communism. Consequently, when Great Britain was fighting for its life against Nazism, and the Soviet Union fought as an ally in the struggle and contributed rather more than its share in lives lost and in resolute courage, Orwell wrote Animal Farm which was a satire of the Russian Revolution and what followed, picturing it in terms of a revolt of barnyard animals against human masters.

He completed Animal Farm in 1944 and had trouble finding a publisher since it wasn’t a particularly good time for upsetting the Soviets. As soon as the war came to an end, however, the Soviet Union was fair game and Animal Farm was published. It was greeted with much acclaim and Orwell became sufficiently prosperous to retire and devote himself to his masterpiece, 1984.

That book described society as a vast world-wide extension of Stalinist Russia in the 1930s, pictured with the venom of a rival left-wing sectarian. Other forms of totalitarianism play a small role. There are one or two mentions of the Nazis and of the Inquisition. At the very start, there is a reference or two to Jews, almost as though they were going to prove the objects of persecution, but that vanishes almost at once, as though Orwell didn’t want readers to mistake the villains for Nazis. The picture is of Stalinism, and Stalinism only.

By the time the book came out in 1949, the Cold War was at its height. The book therefore proved popular. It was almost a matter of patriotism in the West to buy it and talk about it, and perhaps even to read parts of it, although it is my opinion that more people bought it and talked about it than read it, for it is a dreadfully dull book – didactic, repetitious, and all but motionless.

It was most popular at first with people who leaned towards the conservative side of the political spectrum, for it was clearly an anti-Soviet polemic, and the picture of life it projected in the London of 1984 was very much as conservatives imagined life in the Moscow of 1949 to be.

During the McCarthy era in the United States, 1984 became increasingly popular with those who leaned towards the liberal side of the political spectrum, for it seemed to them that the United States of the early 1950s was beginning to move in the direction of thought-control and that all the viciousness Orwell had depicted was on its way towards us.

Thus, in an afterword to an edition published in paperback by New American Library in 1961, the liberal psychoanalyst and philosopher Erich Fromm concluded as follows:

‘Books like Orwell’s are powerful warnings, and it would be most unfortunate if the reader smugly interpreted 1984 as another description of Stalinist barbarism, and if he does not see that it means us, too.’

Even if Stalinism and McCarthyism are disregarded, however, more and more Americans were becoming aware of just how ‘big’ the government was getting; how high taxes were; how increasingly rules and regulations permeated business and even ordinary life; how information concerning every facet of private life was entering the files not only of government bureaux but of private credit systems.

1984, therefore, came to stand not for Stalinism, or even for dictatorship in general – but merely for government. Even governmental paternalism seemed ‘1984ish’ and the catch phrase ‘Big Brother is watching you’ came to mean everything that was too big for the individual to control. It was not only big government and big business that was a symptom of 1984 but big science, big labour, big anything.

In fact, so thoroughly has 1984-ophobia penetrated the consciousness of many who have not read the book and have no notion of what it contains, that one wonders what will happen to us after 31 December 1984. When New Year’s Day of 1985 arrives and the United States is still in existence and facing very much the problems it faces today, how will we express our fears of whatever aspect of life fills us with apprehension? What new date can we invent to take the place of 1984?

Orwell did not live to see his book become the success it did. He did not witness the way in which he made 1984 into a year that would haunt a whole generation of Americans. Orwell died of tuberculosis in a London hospital in January 1950, just a few months after the book was published, at the age of forty-six. His awareness of imminent death may have added to the bitterness of the book.

B. THE SCIENCE FICTION OF 1984

Many people think of 1984 as a science fiction novel, but almost the only item about 1984 that would lead one to suppose this is the fact that it is purportedly laid in the future. Not so! Orwell had no feel for the future, and the displacement of the story is much more geographical than temporal.

The London in which the story is placed is not so much moved thirty-five years forward in time, from 1949 to 1984, as it is moved a thousand miles east in space to Moscow. Orwell imagines Great Britain to have gone through a revolution similar to the Russian Revolution and to have gone through all the stages that Soviet development did. He can think of almost no variations on the theme. The Soviets had a series of purges in the 1930s, so the Ingsoc (English Socialism) had a series of purges in the 1950s. The Soviets converted one of their revolutionaries, Leon Trotsky, into a villain, leaving his opponent, Joseph Stalin, as a hero. The Ingsoc, therefore, convert one of their revolutionaries, Emmanuel Goldstein, into a villain, leaving his opponent, with a moustache like Stalin, as a hero.

There is no ability to make minor changes, even. Goldstein, like Trotsky, has ‘a lean Jewish face, with a great fuzzy aureole of white hair and a small goatee beard’. Orwell apparently does not want to confuse the issue by giving Stalin a different name so he calls him merely ‘Big Brother’.

At the very beginning of the story, it is made clear that television (which was coming into existence at the time the book was written) served as a continuous means of indoctrination of the people, for sets cannot be turned off. (And, apparently, in a deteriorating London in which nothing works, these sets never fail.)

The great Orwellian contribution to future technology is that the television set is two-way, and that the people who are forced to hear and see the television screen can themselves be heard and seen at all times and are under constant supervision even while sleeping or in the bathroom. Hence, the meaning of the phrase ‘Big Brother is watching you’.

This is an extraordinarily inefficient system of keeping everyone under control. To have a person being watched at all times means that some other person must be doing the watching at all times (at least in the Orwellian society) and must be doing so very narrowly, for there is a great development of the art of interpreting gesture and facial expression. One person cannot watch more than one person in full concentration, and can only do so for a comparatively short time before attention begins to wander. I should guess, in short, that there may have to be five watchers for every person watched. And then, of course, the watchers must themselves be watched since no one in the Orwellian world is suspicion-free. Consequently, the system of oppression by two-way television simply will not work.

Orwell himself realised this by limiting its workings to the Party members. The ‘proles’ (proletariat), for whom Orwell cannot hide his British upper-class contempt, are left largely to themselves as subhuman. (At one point in the book, he says that any prole that shows ability is killed – a leaf taken out of the Spartan treatment of their helots twenty-five hundred years ago.)

Furthermore, he has a system of volunteer spies in which children report on their parents, and neighbours on each other. This cannot possibly work well since eventually everyone reports everyone else and it all has to be abandoned.

Orwell was unable to conceive of computers or robots, or he would have placed everyone under non-human surveillance. Our own computers to some extent do this in the IRS, in credit files, and so on, but that does not take us towards 1984, except in fevered imaginations. Computers and tyranny do not necessarily go hand in hand. Tyrannies have worked very well without computers (consider the Nazis) and the most computerised nations in today’s world are also the least tyrannical.

Orwell lacks the capacity to see (or invent) small changes. His hero finds it difficult in his world of 1984 to get shoelaces or razor blades. So would I in the real world of the 1980s, for so many people use slip-on shoes and electric razors.

Then, too, Orwell had the technophobic fixation that every technological advance is a slide downhill. Thus, when his hero writes, he ‘fitted a nib into the penholder and sucked it to get the grease off. He does so ‘because of a feeling that the beautiful creamy paper deserved to be written on with a real nib instead of being scratched with an ink-pencil’.

Presumably, the ‘ink-pencil’ is the ball-point pen that was coming into use at the time that 1984 was being written. This means that Orwell describes something as being written’ with a real nib but being ‘scratched’ with a ball-point. This is, however, precisely the reverse of the truth. If you are old enough to remember steel pens, you will remember that they scratched fearsomely, and you know ball-points don’t. This is not science fiction, but a distorted nostalgia for a past that never was. I am surprised that Orwell stopped with the steel pen and that he didn’t have Winston writing with a neat goose quill.

Nor was Orwell particularly prescient in the strictly social aspects of the future he was presenting, with the result that the Orwellian world of 1984 is incredibly old-fashioned when compared with the real world of the 1980s.

Orwell imagines no new vices, for instance. His characters are all gin hounds and tobacco addicts, and part of the horror of his picture of 1984 is his eloquent description of the low quality of the gin and tobacco. He foresees no new drugs, no marijuana, no synthetic hallucinogens. No one expects an s.f. writer to be precise and exact in his forecasts, but surely one would expect him to invent some differences.

In his despair (or anger), Orwell forgets the virtues human beings have. All his characters are, in one way or another, weak or sadistic, or sleazy, or stupid, or repellent. This may be how most people are, or how Orwell wants to indicate they will all be under tyranny, but it seems to me that under even the worst tyrannies, so far, there have been brave men and women who have withstood the tyrants to the death and whose personal histories are luminous flames in the surrounding darkness. If only because there is no hint of this in 1984, it does not resemble the real world of the 1980s.

Nor did he foresee any difference in the role of women or any weakening of the feminine stereotype of 1949. There are only two female characters of importance. One is a strong, brainless ‘prole’ woman who is an endless washerwoman, endlessly singing a popular song with words of the type familiar in the 1930s and 1940s (at which Orwell shudders fastidiously as ‘trashy’, in blissful non-anticipation of hard rock).

The other is the heroine, Julia, who is sexually promiscuous (but is at least driven to courage by her interest in sex) and is otherwise brainless. When the hero, Winston, reads to her the book within a book that explains the nature of the Orwellian world, she responds by falling asleep – but then since the treatise Winston reads is stupefyingly soporific, this may be an indication of Julia’s good sense rather than the reverse. In short, if 1984 must be considered science fiction, then it is very bad science fiction.

C. THE GOVERNMENT OF 1984

Orwell’s 1984 is a picture of all-powerful government, and it has helped make the notion of ‘big government’ a very frightening one.

We have to remember, though, that the world of the late 1940s, during which Orwell was writing his book, was one in which there had been, and still were, big governments with true tyrants – individuals whose every wish, however unjust, cruel or vicious, was law. What’s more, it seemed as though such tyrants were irremovable except by the chance of outside force. Benito Mussolini of Italy, after twenty-one years of absolute rule, was overthrown, but that was only because his country was suffering defeat in war.

Adolf Hitler of Germany, a far stronger and more brutal tyrant, ruled with a steel hand for twelve years, yet even defeat did not, in itself, bring about his overthrow. Though the area over which he ruled shrank and shrank and shrank, and even though overwhelming armies of his adversaries closed in from the east and west, he remained absolute tyrant over whatever area he controlled – even when it was only over the bunker in which he committed suicide. Until he removed himself, no one dared remove him. (There were plots against him, to be sure, but they never worked, sometimes through quirks of fate that seemed explainable only by supposing that someone down there liked him.)

Orwell, however, had no time for either Mussolini or Hitler. His enemy was Stalin, and at the time that 1984 was published, Stalin had ruled the Soviet Union in a ribbreaking bear hug for twenty-five years, had survived a terrible war in which his nation suffered enormous losses and yet was now stronger than ever. To Orwell, it must have seemed that neither time nor fortune could budge Stalin, but that he would live on forever with ever increasing strength. – And that was how Orwell pictured Big Brother.

Of course, that was not the way it really was. Orwell didn’t live long enough to see it but Stalin died only three years after 1984 was published, and it was not long after that that his regime was denounced as a tyranny by – guess who – the Soviet leadership.

The Soviet Union is still the Soviet Union, but it is not Stalinist, and the enemies of the state are no longer liquidated (Orwell uses ‘vaporised’ instead, such small changes being all he can manage) with quite such abandon.

Again, Mao Tse-tung died in China, and while he himself has not been openly denounced, his close associates, as ‘the Gang of Four’, were promptly demoted from Divinity, and while China is still China, it is not Maoist any longer.

Franco of Spain died in his bed and while, to his very last breath, he remained the unquestioned leader he had been for nearly forty years, immediately after that last breath, Fascism abruptly dwindled in Spain, as it had in Portugal after Salazar’s death.

In short, Big Brothers do die, or at least they have so far, and when they die, the government changes, always for the milder.

This is not to say that new tyrants may not make themselves felt, but they will die, too. At least in the real 1980s we have every confidence they will and the undying Big Brother is not yet a real threat.

If anything, in fact, governments of the 1980s seem dangerously weak. The advance of technology has put powerful weapons – explosives, machine guns, fast cars into the hands of urban terrorists who can and do kidnap, hijack, gun down, and take hostages with impunity while governments stand by more or less helplessly.

In addition to the immortality of Big Brother, Orwell presents two other ways of maintaining an eternal tyranny.

First -,present someone or something to hate. In the Orwellian world it was Emmanuel Goldstein for whom hate was built up and orchestrated in a robotized mass function.

This is nothing new, of course. Every nation in the world has used various neighbours for the purpose of hate. This sort of thing is so easily handled and comes as such second nature to humanity that one wonders why there have to be the organised hate drives in the Orwellian world.

It needs scarcely any clever psychological mass movements to make Arabs hate Israelis and Greeks hate Turks and Catholic Irish hate Protestant Irish – and vice versa in each case. To be sure, the Nazis organised mass meetings of delirium that every participant seemed to enjoy, but it had no permanent effect. Once the war moved on to German soil, the Germans surrendered as meekly as though they had never Sieg-Heiled in their lives.

Second – rewrite history. Almost every one of the few individuals we meet in 1984 has, as his job, the rapid rewriting of the past, the readjustment of statistics, the overhauling of newspapers – as though anyone is going to take the trouble to pay attention to the past anyway.

This Orwellian preoccupation with the minutiae of ‘historical proof’ is typical of the political sectarian who is always quoting what has been said and done in the past to prove a point to someone on the other side who is always quoting something to the opposite effect that has been said and done.

As any politician knows, no evidence of any kind is ever required. It is only necessary to make a statement – any statement – forcefully enough to have an audience believe it. No one will check the lie against the facts, and, if they do, they will disbelieve the facts. Do you think the German people in 1939 pretended that the Poles had attacked them and started World War II? No! Since they were told that was so, they believed it as seriously as you and I believe that they attacked the Poles.

To be sure, the Soviets put out new editions of their Encyclopaedia in which politicians rating a long biography in earlier editions are suddenly omitted entirely, and this is no doubt the germ of the Orwellian notion, but the chances of carrying it as far as is described in 1984 seem to me to be nil – not because it is beyond human wickedness, but because it is totally unnecessary.

Orwell makes much of ‘Newspeak’ as an organ of repression – the conversion of the English language into so limited and abbreviated an instrument that the very vocabulary of dissent vanishes. Partly he got the notion from the undoubted habit of abbreviation. He gives examples of ‘Communist International’ becoming ‘Comintern’ and ‘Geheime Staatspolizei’ becoming ‘Gestapo’, but that is not a modern totalitarian invention. ‘Vulgus mobile’ became ‘mob’; ‘taxi cabriolet’ became ‘cab’; ‘quasi-stellar radio source’ became ‘quasar’; ‘light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation’ became ‘laser’ and so on. There is no sign that such compressions of the language have ever weakened it as a mode of expression.

As a matter of fact, political obfuscation has tended to use many words rather than few, long words rather than short, to extend rather than to reduce. Every leader of inadequate education or limited intelligence hides behind exuberant inebriation of loquacity.

Thus, when Winston Churchill suggested the development of ‘Basic English’ as an international language (something which undoubtedly also contributed to ‘Newspeak’), the suggestion was stillborn. We are therefore in no way approaching Newspeak in its condensed form, though we have always had Newspeak in its extended form and always will have.

We also have a group of young people among us who say things like ‘Right on, man, you know. It’s like he’s got it all together, you know, man. I mean, like you know -‘ and so on for five minutes when the word that the young people are groping for is ‘Huh?’

That, however, is not Newspeak, and it has always been with us, too. It is something which in Oldspeak is called ‘inarticulacy’ and it is not what Orwell had in mind.

D. THE INTERNATIONAL SITUATION OF 1984

Although Orwell seemed, by and large, to be helplessly stuck in the world of 1949, in one respect at least he showed himself to be remarkably prescient, and that was in foreseeing the tripartite split of the world of the 1980s.

The international world of 1984 is a world of three superpowers: Oceania, Eurasia, and Eastasia – and that fits in, very roughly, with the three actual superpowers of the 1980s: the United States, the Soviet Union, and China.

Oceania is a combination of the United States and the British Empire. Orwell, who was an old Imperial civil servant, did not seem to notice that the British Empire was in its last throes in the late 1940s and was about to dissolve. He seems to suppose, in fact, that the British Empire is the dominant member of the British-American combination.

At least, the entire action takes place in London and phrases such as ‘the United States’ and ‘Americans’ are rarely, if ever, mentioned. But then, this is very much in the fashion of the British spy novel in which, ever since World War II, Great Britain (currently about the eighteenth strongest military and economic power in the world) is set up as the great adversary of the Soviet Union, or of China, or of some invented international conspiracy, with the United States either never mentioned or reduced to the small courtesy appearance of an occasional CIA agent.

Eurasia is, of course, the Soviet Union, which Orwell assumes will have absorbed the whole European continent. Eurasia, therefore, includes all of Europe, plus Siberia, and its population is 95 per cent European by any standard.

Nevertheless, Orwell describes the Eurasians as ‘solid-looking men with expressionless Asiatic faces’. Since Orwell still lives in a time when ‘European’ and ‘Asiatic’ are equivalent to ‘ ‘hero’ and ‘villain’, it is impossible to inveigh against the Soviet Union with the proper emotion if it is not thought of as ‘Asiatic’. This comes under the heading of what Orwellian Newspeak calls ‘double-think’, something that Orwell, like any human being, is good at.

It may be, of course, that Orwell is thinking not of Eurasia, or the Soviet Union, but of his great bête noire, Stalin. Stalin is a Georgian, and Georgia, lying south of the Caucasus mountains, is, by strict geographic considerations, part of Asia.

Eastasia is, of course, China and various dependent nations. Here is prescience. At the time Orwell was writing 1984, the Chinese communists had not yet won control of the country and many (in the United States, in particular) were doing their best to see that the anti-Communist, Chiang Kai-shek, retained control. Once the communists won, it became part of the accepted credo of the West that the Chinese would be under thorough Soviet control and that China and the Soviet Union would form a monolithic communist power.

Orwell not only foresaw the communist victory (he saw that victory everywhere, in fact) but also foresaw that Russia and China would not form a monolithic bloc but would be deadly enemies.

There, his own experience as a Leftist sectarian may have helped him. He had no Rightist superstitions concerning Leftists as unified and indistinguishable villains. He knew they would fight each other as fiercely over the most trifling points of doctrine as would the most pious of Christians.

He also foresaw a permanent state of war among the three; a condition of permanent stalemate with the alliances ever-shifting, but always two against the strongest. This was the old-fashioned ‘balance of power’ system which was used in ancient Greece, in medieval Italy, and in early modern Europe. Orwell’s mistake lay in thinking there had to be actual war to keep the merry-go-round of the balance of power in being. In fact, in one of the more laughable parts of the book, he goes on and on concerning the necessity of permanent war as a means of consuming the world’s production of resources and thus keeping the social stratification of upper, middle, and lower classes in being. (This sounds like a very Leftist explanation of war as the result of a conspiracy worked out with great difficulty.)

In actual fact, the decades since 1945 have been remarkably war-free as compared with the decades before it. There have been local wars in profusion, but no general war. But then, war is not required as a desperate device to consume the world’s resources. That can be done by such other devices as endless increase in population and in energy use, neither of which Orwell considers.

Orwell did not foresee any of the significant economic changes that have taken place since World War II. He did not foresee the role of oil or its declining availability or its increasing price, or the escalating power of those nations who control it. I don’t recall his mentioning the word ‘oil’.

But perhaps it is close enough to mark Orwellian prescience here, if we substitute ‘cold war’ for ‘war’. There has been, in fact, a more or less continual ‘cold war’ that has served to keep employment high and solve some short-term economic problems (at the cost of creating long-term greater ones). And this cold war is enough to deplete resources.

Furthermore, the alliances shifted as Orwell foresaw and very nearly as suddenly. When the United States seemed all-powerful, the Soviet Union and China were both vociferously anti-American and in a kind of alliance. As American power decreased, the Soviet Union and China fell apart and, for a while, each of the three powers inveighed against the other two equally. Then, when the Soviet Union came to seem particularly powerful, a kind of alliance sprang up between the United States and China, as they co-operated in vilifying the Soviet Union, and spoke softly of each other.

In 1984 every shift of alliance involved an orgy of history rewriting. In real life, no such folly is necessary. The public swings from side to side easily, accepting the change in circumstance with no concern for the past at all. For instance, the Japanese, by the 1950s, had changed from unspeakable villains to friends, while the Chinese moved in the opposite direction with no one bothering to wipe out Pearl Harbour. No one cared, for goodness’ sake.

Orwell has his three great powers voluntarily forgo the use of nuclear bombs, and to be sure such bombs have not been used in war since 1945. That, however, may be because the only powers with large nuclear arsenals, the United States and the Soviet Union, have avoided war with each other. Were there actual war, it is extremely doubtful that one side or the other would not finally feel it necessary to push the button. In that respect, Orwell perhaps falls short of reality.

London does, however, occasionally suffer a missile strike, which sounds very much like a V-1 or V-2 weapon of 1944, and the city is in a 1945-type shambles. Orwell cannot make 1984 very different from 1944 in this respect. Orwell, in fact, makes it clear that by 1984, the universal communism of the three superpowers has choked science and reduced it to uselessness except in those areas where it is needed for war. There is no question but that the nations are more eager to invest in science where war applications are in clear view but, alas, there is no way of separating war from peace where applications are in question.

Science is a unit, and everything in it could conceivably be related to war and destruction. Science has therefore not been choked off but continues not only in the United States and Western Europe and Japan, but also in the Soviet Union and in China. The advances of science are too numerous to attempt to list, but think of lasers and computers as ‘war weapons’ with infinite peaceful applications.

To summarise, then: George Orwell in 1984 was, in my opinion, engaging in a private feud with Stalinism, rather that attempting to forecast the future. He did not have the science fictional knack of foreseeing a plausible future and, in actual fact, in almost all cases, the world of 1984 bears no relation to the real world of the 1980s.

The world may go communist, if not by 1984, then by some not very much later date; or it may see civilisation destroyed. If this happens, however, it will happen in a fashion quite different from that depicted in 1984 and if we try to prevent either eventuality by imagining that 1984 is accurate, then we will be defending ourselves against assaults from the wrong direction and we will lose.

Source

Stalin & the Myth of the ”Old Bolsheviks”

Introduction

One often hears Trotskyists, Anarchists and bourgeois propagandists accuse Joseph Stalin of killing all or at least most of the so-called ”Old Bolsheviks” and thus being able to allegedly distort the true meaning behind Bolshevism/Leninism. Here I won’t be getting into a thorough debate about what is or is not the real core ideology of Bolshevism but I would like to examine the accusation that Stalin ”killed the Old Bolsheviks”.

1. Who were the so-called ”Old Bolsheviks”?

According to the groups mentioned above, i.e. left-communists, Trotskyists, Anarchists and Right-Wingers the term ”Old Bolshevik” typically refers to people such as Zinoviev, Kamenev, Bukharin, Rykov etc.

They allege that these people represented ”real Bolshevism” and that Stalin killed them to implement his ”Stalinist distortion of Bolshevism”.

But what makes these people ”Old Bolsheviks”? Sure enough some of them such as Zinoviev were long standing members of the Bolshevik party, but is that all that we’re talking about? Zinoviev, Kamenev & co. had numerous disagreements with Lenin, the founder and leader of Bolshevism so can they truly be called Bolsheviks at all? Second of all, there are many people who were also longtime members of the Bolshevik Party yet they don’t get the same status of being called ”Old Bolsheviks”.

We can only conclude that the Right-Winger, Trotskyist and their ilk define ”Old Bolsheviks” merely as people who were killed by Stalin. That is their only qualification.

2. The Real Old Bolsheviks

Interestingly Right and ”Left” critics of Stalin don’t seem to consider the following group of people Old Bolsheviks despite the fact that they obviously were – or at least ignore them when arguing that ”Stalin killed the Old Bolsheviks”.

Note: The Bolshevik faction ”RSDLP(B)” emerged in 1903-1907. The RSDLP itself was founded in 1898.

Stalin             (joined the RSDLP in 1899. Bolshevik as early as 1903)
Kalinin          (joined the party in 1898. Bolshevik at least as early as 1905)
Voroshilov    (joined the RSDLP(B) in 1903)
Orjonikidze   (joined the RSDLP(B) in 1903)
Sverdlov       (joined the RSDLP in 1902. Bolshevik as early as 1903)
Molotov        (joined the RSDLP(B) in 1906)
Kaganovich   (joined the RSDLP(B) in 1911)

These people were not killed by Stalin, in fact they were his allies and I would argue much better Bolsheviks then Zinoviev & co. However for some reason they do not seem to count.

3. Were Zinoviev, Kamenev & Bukharin really such good Bolsheviks?

I think it can be demonstrated rather easily that Zinoviev, Kamenev, Bukharin, Trotsky & co. were not particularly good Bolsheviks and for that reason calling them ”Old Bolsheviks” (that Stalin ’murdered’ to distort bolshevism) seems dubious.

Zinoviev & Kamenev:
Lenin himself wanted Z. & K. expelled from the Bolshevik party altogether due to their treachery on the eve of the October Revolution. Z. & K. opposed the revolution and criticized it in a bourgeois newspaper, thus revealing the Bolsheviks plan to overthrow the government to the class-enemy.

”When the full text of Kamenev’s and Zinoviev’s statement in the non-Party paper Novaya Zhizn was transmitted to me by telephone, I refused to believe it… I no longer consider either of them comrades and that I will fight with all my might, both in the Central Committee and at the Congress, to secure the expulsion of both of them from the Party… Let Mr. Zinoviev and Mr. Kamenev found their own party”
–LENIN, ”Letter to Bolshevik Party Members” (18th Oct. 1917)

Bukharin:
Despite being known as a Right-Winger for his views on economic policy, Bukharinists used to be thought of as a Left-Communist faction in the party. This is in the main due to their adventurism and opposition to the Brest-Litovsk peace-treaty.

Lenin slammed the actions of Bukharin & the ”Left”-communists in ”Peace or War?”

”…he who is against an immediate, even though extremely onerous peace, is endangering Soviet power.”

He also attacked Bukharin on the economic front in 1921 in his work ”Once Again On the Trade Unions: On the Mistakes of Trotsky and Bukharin”.

Trotsky:
Mentioning Trotsky in this context is perhaps superfluous but I will do it for the sake of thoroughness. He joined the party only in 1917 and cannot be called an Old Bolshevik in any case. Initially he was a Menshevik (1903-1905), then a member of the ultra-opportunist August Bloch (1907-1913) which Lenin ridiculed, opponent of the Zimmerwald Left that Lenin supported (1914-1916) and finally the semi-Menshevik Mezhraiontsy which ceased to exist in 1917. His disagreements with Lenin are too numerous to mention.

He was a longtime enemy of Lenin prompting Lenin to refer to him as a ”Judas”, ”Swine”, ”Scoundrel”, “bureaucratic” helper of the liberal bourgeois and calling his theory of Permanent Revolution both ”absurd” and half-menshevik. Instead of providing quotations sources for the claims will be at the end or otherwise this section would be too lengthy.

Lenin also attacked Trotsky for his flip flopping on the Brest peace deal and his ridiculous economic policy & poor handling of the trade unions together with Bukharin.

4. The Bloc of Rights & Trotskyites

In 1921 at the 10th congress of the RCP Lenin argued for the banning of factional cliques in the Bolshevik party. This was accepted and factions were either expelled or they capitulated. However after his death various factional groups sprung up. In 1927 Trotsky, Zinoviev & Kamenev were expelled from the party for factionalism after organizing an anti-party demonstration, though Z & K. later capitulated to Stalin.

Trotsky was exiled from the USSR, while Zinoviev & Kamenev were marginalized. The Bukharinists also lost the debate against Stalin & the majority. By 1932 Trotsky, Zinoviev, Kamenev & Bukharin had all lost their legitimate political power. Trotsky created a secret conspiratorial anti-soviet group which was joined by Z. & K. and later various Bukharinites. This group became known in the Soviet media as ”The Bloc of Rights & Trotskyites”.

This is the real reason for which these people were later arrested & executed. They wished to carry out destabilization against the Soviet government which was already worried about foreign Fascist invasions. All of this was denied by anti-soviet elements for decades but the discovery of various letters from Trotsky and his associates has proven it without a shadow of a doubt.                     

”…The proposal for a bloc seems to me to be completely acceptable.”
Trotsky to Sedov

”The bloc is organised, it includes the Zinovievists, the Sten–Lominadze Group and the Trotskyists…”
Sedov to Trotsky

One fights repression by means of anonymity and conspiracy…”
–Trotsky to Sedov

”As far as the illegal organisation of the Bolshevik-Leninists in the USSR is concerned, only the first steps have been taken towards its re-organisation.”
Trotsky (Dec. 16 1932)

Source: Library of Harvard College 13905c, 1010, 4782 quoted in Pierre Broué’s The “Bloc” of the Oppositions against Stalin

Whether or not you believe the actions of Trotsky & co. to be justified it is dishonest to claim they were framed or unjustly murdered for their so-called Bolshevism. They fought against the Soviet government and lost.

5. Conclusions: Will the Real Old Bolsheviks please Stand up?

Stalin did not in fact kill the Old Bolsheviks, he killed anti-Soviet renegades whose Bolshevik credentials were questionable at best. The real Old Bolsheviks were people like Kalinin and Voroshilov who supported Lenin since the beginning through thick and thin, not flip-flopping opportunists like Zinoviev who stabbed Lenin in the back when ever it was advantageous.

LENIN QUOTES ON TROTSKY:

”…Trotsky’s (the scoundrel… this swindler … pays lip-service to the Party and behaves worse than any other of the factionalists.”
–LENIN CW 34 p. 400 (1909)

”At the Plenary Meeting Judas Trotsky made a big show of fighting liquidationism…”
–LENIN ”Judas Trotsky’s Blush of Shame” (1911)

Trotsky… proclaiming his absurdly Left ‘permanent revolution’ theory.”

–LENIN ”Disruption of Unity Under Cover of Outcries for Unity” (1914)

Trotsky’s… theory has borrowed… from the Mensheviks…”
–LENIN ”On the Two Lines in the Revolution” (1915)

”The Bolsheviks helped the proletariat consciously to follow the first line… liberal bourgeoisie was the second… Trotsky is in fact helping the liberal-labour politicians in Russia…”
– LENIN, Ibid.

”What a swine this Trotsky is—Left phrases, and a bloc with the Right…”
–LENIN ”Letter to Alexandra Kollontai” (1917)

”It is Trotsky who is in “ideological confusion”… There you have an example of the real bureaucratic approach: Trotsky… Trotsky’s “theses” are politically harmful…”
–LENIN ”The Trade Unions, The Present Situation And Trotsky’s Mistakes” (1920)

”Comrade Trotsky is essentially wrong on all his new points… Trotsky and Bukharin have produced a hodgepodge of political mistakes”
–LENIN ”Once Again On The Trade Unions: The Current Situation and the Mistakes of Trotsky and Buhkarin” (1921)

Source

John Callaghan on Rajani Palme Dutt and Evidence for the Moscow Trials and Anti-Soviet Conspiracies

On pages 279-280 of the book Rajani Palme Dutt: A Study in British Stalinism by John Callaghan (Lawrence & Wishart 1993), the author writes the following:

“… the evidence points overwhelmingly to Dutt’s satisfaction with the Communist record. In preparing his book on The Internationale, for example, he had considered the inclusion of an anecdote to illustrate the ‘basic guilt of the accused’ [in the Moscow Trials]. Fortunately, although Dutt changed his mind about publication, this curious fragment survives and acquires an especially sinister light today in view of the fact that the Soviet state itself eventually admitted the falsity of the charges brought against the leading Bolsheviks in question. Dutt’s ‘evidence’ concerns ‘a lengthy day’s visit to the village at some distance from Moscow’ where Bukharin and Radek were at work in the summer of 1935. Here ‘under the seal of absolute secrecy’ they apparently ‘gave him a serious and alarming account… of the net in which they had become involved and of the dilemmas with which they were faced’. Dutt was told in very general terms, with no names mentioned, of how ‘opposition to the party, however much it might be felt to be justified at a given moment, can lead by its own logic step by step into the camp of counter-revolution’. He was accordingly advised to never enter this ‘fatal path of conflict with the party’ and retired with ‘the memory of this talk… like a nightmare’ weighing on his mind during the ensuing period. At first Dutt tried to convince himself that these old ‘friends and comrades’ had presented ‘an allegory to test him’ but he had ‘a lurking suspicion’ that their confessions of guilt were true and only failed to report them to the party by taking refuge in the ‘cowardly evasion’ that he had no grounds for certainty concerning their sins. Thus ‘when the trials followed, of Radek, and subsequently of Bukharin, it was as if a weight were lifted from the writer’s [Dutt’s] consciousness that, however terrible, the facts at last were out’. Dutt now read the trial statements of both men and as he did so ‘he felt as if he were reading the same story a second time, since their narrative corresponded so closely with what they had told him on that summer’s day and evening in 1935, even with many of the same phrases.'”

The source given is: Dutt, ‘Radek-Bukharin conversations ommitted from The Internationale’, 11 March 1964, CPGB archive.