Ten Days That Shook the World
Part 6 out of 8
from the Peasants' Soviets-appointed by Avksentiev, and 80 from the
old Army Committees, who no longer represent the soldier masses.
"We refuse to admit the old _Tsay-ee-kah,_ and also the
representatives of the Municipal Dumas. The delegates from the
Peasants' Soviets shall be elected by the Congress of Peasants,
which we have called, and which will at the same time elect a new
Executive Committee. The proposal to exclude Lenin and Trotzky is a
proposal to decapitate our party, and we do not accept it. And
finally, we see no necessity for a 'People's Council' anyway; the
Soviets are open to all Socialist parties, and the _Tsay-ee-kah_
represents them in their real proportions among the masses...."
Karelin, for the Left Socialist Revolutionaries, declared that his
party would vote for the Bolshevik resolution, reserving the right
to modify certain details, such as the representation of the
peasants, and demanding that the Ministry of Agriculture be reserved
for the Left Socialist Revolutionaries. This was agreed to....
Later, at a meeting of the Petrograd Soviet, Trotzky answered a
question about the formation of the new Government:
"I don't know anything about that. I am not taking part in the
negotiations.... However, I don't think that they are of great
That night there was great uneasiness in the Conference. The
delegates of the City Duma withdrew....
But at Smolny itself, in the ranks of the Bolshevik party, a
formidable opposition to Lenin's policy was growing. On the night of
November 17th the great hall was packed and ominous for the meeting
of the _Tsay-ee-kah._
Larin, Bolshevik, declared that the moment of elections to the
Constituent Assembly approached, and it was time to do away with
"The measures taken against the freedom of the press should be
modified. They had their reason during the struggle, but now they
have no further excuse. The press should be free, except for appeals
to riot and insurrection."
In a storm of hisses and hoots from his own party, Larin offered the
The decree of the Council of People's Commissars concerning the
Press is herewith repealed.
Measures of political repression can only be employed subject to
decision of a special tribunal, elected by the _Tsay-ee-kah_
proportionally to the strength of the different parties represented;
and this tribunal shall have the right also to reconsider measures
of repression already taken.
This was met by a thunder of applause, not only from the Left
Socialist Revolutionaries, but also from a part of the Bolsheviki.
Avanessov, for the Leninites, hastily proposed that the question of
the Press be postponed until after some compromise between the
Socialist parties had been reached. Overwhelmingly voted down.
"The revolution which is now being accomplished," went on Avanessov,
"has not hesitated to attack private property; and it is as private
property that we must examine the question of the Press...."
Thereupon he read the official Bolshevik resolution:
The suppression of the bourgeois press was dictated not only by
purely military needs in the course of the insurrection, and for the
checking of counter-revolutionary action, but it is also necessary
as a measure of transition toward the establishment of a new régime
with regard to the Press-a régime under which the capitalist owners
of printing-presses and of paper cannot be the all-powerful and
exclusive manufacturers of public opinion.
We must further proceed to the confiscation of private printing
plants and supplies of paper, which should become the property of
the Soviets, both in the capital and in the provinces, so that the
political parties and groups can make use of the facilities of
printing in proportion to the actual strength of the ideas they
represent-in other words, proportionally to the number of their
The reëstablishment of the so-called "freedom of the press," the
simple return of printing presses and paper to the
capitalists,-poisoners of the mind of the people-this would be an
inadmissible surrender to the will of capital, a giving up of one of
the most important conquests of the Revolution; in other words, it
would be a measure of unquestionably counter-revolutionary character.
Proceeding from the above, the _Tsay-ee-kah_ categorically rejects
all propositions aiming at the reëstablishment of the old régime in
the domain of the Press, and unequivocally supports the point of
view of the Council of People's Commissars on this question, against
pretentions and ultimatums dictated by petty bourgeois prejudices,
or by evident surrender to the interests of the
The reading of this resolution was interrupted by ironical shouts
from the Left Socialist Revolutionaries, and bursts of indignation
from the insurgent Bolsheviki. Karelin was on his feet, protesting.
"Three weeks ago the Bolsheviki were the most ardent defenders of
the freedom of the Press... The arguments in this resolution suggest
singularly the point of view of the old Black Hundreds and the
censors of the Tsarist régime-for they also talked of 'poisoners of
the mind of the people.'"
Trotzky spoke at length in favour of the resolution. He
distinguished between the Press during the civil war, and the Press
after the victory. "During civil war the right to use violence
belongs only to the oppressed...." (Cries of "Who's the oppressed now?
"The victory over our adversaries is not yet achieved, and the
newspapers are arms in their hands. In these conditions, the closing
of the newspapers is a legitimate measure of defence...." Then passing
to the question of the Press after the victory, Trotzky continued:
"The attitude of Socialists on the question of freedom of the Press
should be the same as their attitude toward the freedom of
business.... The rule of the democracy which is being established in
Russia demands that the domination of the Press by private property
must be abolished, just as the domination of industry by private
property.... The power of the Soviets should confiscate all
printing-plants." (Cries, "Confiscate the printing-shop of
"The monopoly of the Press by the bourgeoisie must be abolished.
Otherwise it isn't worth while for us to take the power! Each group
of citizens should have access to print shops and paper.... The
ownership of print-type and of paper belongs first to the workers
and peasants, and only afterwards to the bourgeois parties, which
are in a minority.... The passing of the power into the hands of the
Soviets will bring about a radical transformation of the essential
conditions of existence, and this transformation will necessarily be
evident in the Press.... If we are going to nationalise the banks, can
we then tolerate the financial journals? The old régime must die;
that must be understood once and for all...." Applause and angry cries.
Karelin declared that the _Tsay-ee-kah_ had no right to pass upon
this important question, which should be left to a special
committee. Again, passionately, he demanded that the Press be free.
Then Lenin, calm, unemotional, his forehead wrinkled, as he spoke
slowly, choosing his words; each sentence falling like a
hammer-blow. "The civil war is not yet finished; the enemy is still
with us; consequently it is impossible to abolish the measures of
repression against the Press.
"We Bolsheviki have always said that when we reached a position of
power we would close the bourgeois press. To tolerate the bourgeois
newspapers would mean to cease being a Socialist. When one makes a
Revolution, one cannot mark time; one must always go forward-or go
back. He who now talks about the 'freedom of the Press' goes
backward, and halts our headlong course toward Socialism.
"We have thrown off the yoke of capitalism, just as the first
revolution threw off the yoke of Tsarism. _If the first revolution
had the right to suppress the Monarchist papers,_ then we have the
right to suppress the bourgeois press. It is impossible to separate
the question of the freedom of the Press from the other questions of
the class struggle. We have promised to close these newspapers, and
we shall do it. The immense majority of the people is with us!
"Now that the insurrection is over, we have absolutely no desire to
suppress the papers of the other Socialist parties, except inasmuch
as they appeal to armed insurrection, or to disobedience to the
Soviet Government. However, we shall not permit them, under the
pretence of freedom of the Socialist press, to obtain, through the
secret support of the bourgeoisie, a monopoly of printing-presses,
ink and paper.... These essentials must become the property of the
Soviet Government, and be apportioned, first of all, to the
Socialist parties in strict proportion to their voting strength...."
Then the vote. The resolution of Larin and the Left Socialist
Revolutionaries was defeated by 31 to 22; the Lenin motion was
carried by 34 to 24. Among the minority were the Bolsheviki Riazanov
and Lozovsky, who declared that it was impossible for them to vote
against any restriction on the freedom of the Press.
Upon this the Left Socialist Revolutionaries declared they could no
longer be responsible for what was being done, and withdrew from the
Military Revolutionary Committee and all other positions of
Five members-Nogin, Rykov, Miliutin, Teodorovitch and
Shiapnikov-resigned from the Council of People's Commissars,
We are in favour of a Socialist Government composed of all the
parties in the Soviets. We consider that only the creation of such a
Government can possibly guarantee the results of the heroic struggle
of the working-class and the revolutionary army. Outside of that,
there remains only one way: the constitution of a purely Bolshevik
Government by means of political terrorism. This last is the road
taken by the Council of People's Commissars. We cannot and will not
follow it. We see that this leads directly to the elimination from
political life of many proletarian organisations, to the
establishment of an irresponsible régime, and to the destruction of
the Revolution and the country. We cannot take the responsibility
for such a policy, and we renounce before the _Tsay-ee-kah_ our
function as People's Commissars.
Other Commissars, without resigning their positions, signed the
declaration-Riazanov, Derbychev of the Press Department, Arbuzov, of
the Government Printing-plant, Yureniev, of the Red Guard, Feodorov,
of the Commissariat of Labour, and Larin, secretary of the Section
of Elaboration of Decrees.
At the same time Kameniev, Rykov, Miliutin, Zinoviev and Nogin
resigned from the Central Committee of the Bolshevik party, making
public their reasons:
... The constitution of such a Government (composed of all the parties
of the Soviet) is indispensable to prevent a new flow of blood, the
coming famine, the destruction of the Revolution by the Kaledinists,
to assure the convocation of the Constituent Assembly at the proper
time, and to apply effectively the programme adopted by the Congress
We cannot accept the responsibility for the disastrous policy of the
Central Committee, carried on against the will of an enormous
majority of the proletariat and the soldiers, who are eager to see
the rapid end of the bloodshed between the different political
parties of the democracy.... We renounce our title as members of the
Central Committee, in order to be able to say openly our opinion to
the masses of workers and soldiers....
We leave the Central Committee at the moment of victory; we cannot
calmly look on while the policy of the chiefs of the Central
Committee leads toward the loss of the fruits of victory and the
crushing of the proletariat....
The masses of the workers, the soldiers of the garrison, stirred
restlessly, sending their delegations to Smolny, to the Conference
for Formation of the New Government, where the break in the ranks of
the Bolsheviki caused the liveliest joy.
But the answer of the Leninites was swift and ruthless. Shliapnikov
and Teodorovitch submitted to party discipline and returned to their
posts. Kameniev was stripped of his powers as president of the
_Tsay-ee-kah,_ and Sverdlov elected in his place. Zinoviev was
deposed as president of the Petrograd Soviet. On the morning of the
5th, _Pravda_ contained a ferocious proclamation to the people of
Russia, written by Lenin, which was printed in hundreds of thousands
of copies, posted on the walls everywhere, and distributed over the
face of Russia.
The second All-Russian Congress of Soviets gave the majority to the
Bolshevik party. Only a Government formed by this party can
therefore be a Soviet Government. And it is known to all that the
Central Committee of the Bolshevik party, a few hours before the
formation of the new Government and before proposing the list of its
members to the All-Russian Congress of Soviets, invited to its
meeting three of the most eminent members of the Left Socialist
Revolutionary group, comrades Kamkov, Spiro and Karelin, and ASKED
THEM to participate in the new Government. We regret infinitely that
the invited comrades refused; we consider their refusal inadmissible
for revolutionists and champions of the working-class; we are
willing at any time to include the Left Socialist Revolutionaries in
the Government; but we declare that, as the party of the majority at
the second All-Russian Congress of Soviets, we are entitled and
BOUND before the people to form a Government....
... Comrades! Several members of the Central Committee of our party
and the Council of People's Commissars, Kameniev, Zinoviev, Nogin,
Rykov, Miliutin and a few others left yesterday, November 17th, the
Central Committee of our party, and the last three, the Council of
The comrades who left us acted like deserters, because they not only
abandoned the posts entrusted to them, but also disobeyed the direct
instructions of the Central Committee of our party, to the effect
that they should await the decisions of the Petrograd and Moscow
party organisations before retiring. We blame decisively such
desertion. We are firmly convinced that all conscious workers,
soldiers and peasants, belonging to our party or sympathising with
it, will also disapprove of the behaviour of the deserters....
Remember, comrades, that two of these deserters, Kameniev and
Zinoviev, even before the uprising in Petrograd, appeared as
deserters and strike-breakers, by voting at the decisive meeting of
the Central Committee, October 23d, 1917, against the insurrection;
and even AFTER the resolution passed by the Central Committee, they
continued their campaign at a meeting of the party workers.... But the
great impulse of the masses, the great heroism of millions of
workers, soldiers and peasants, in Moscow, Petrograd, at the front,
in the trenches, in the villages, pushed aside the deserters as a
railway train scatters saw-dust....
Shame upon those who are of little faith, hesitate, who doubt, who
allow themselves to be frightened by the bourgeoisie, or who succumb
before the cries of the latter's direct or indirect accomplices!
There is NOT A SHADOW of hesitation in the MASSES of Petrograd,
Moscow, and the rest of Russia....
... We shall not submit to any ultimatums from small groups of
intellectuals which are not followed by the masses, which are
PRACTICALLY only supported by Kornilovists, Savinkovists, _yunkers,_
and so forth....
The response from the whole country was like a blast of hot storm.
The insurgents never got a chance to "say openly their opinion to
the masses of workers and soldiers." Upon the _Tsay-ee-kah_ rolled
in like breakers the fierce popular condemnation of the "deserters."
For days Smolny was thronged with angry delegations and committees,
from the front, from the Volga, from the Petrograd factories. "Why
did they dare leave the Government? Were they paid by the
bourgeoisie to destroy the Revolution? They must return and submit
to the decisions of the Central Committee!"
Only in the Petrograd garrison was there still uncertainty. A great
soldier meeting was held on November 24th, addressed by
representatives of all the political parties. By a vast majority
Lenin's policy was sustained, and the Left Socialist Revolutionaries
were told that they must enter the government.... _See next page._
The Mensheviki delivered a final ultimatum, demanding that all
Ministers and _yunkers_ be released, that all newspapers be allowed
full freedom, that the Red Guard be disarmed and the garrison put
under command of the Duma. To this Smolny answered that all the
Socialist Ministers and also all but a very few _yunkers_ had been
already set free, that all newspapers were free except the bourgeois
press, and that the Soviet would remain in command of the armed
forces.... On the 19th the Conference to Form a New Government
disbanded, and the opposition one by one slipped away to Moghilev,
where, under the wing of the General Staff, they continued to form
Government after Government, until the end....
[Graphic Page-276 Meeting announcement]
Announcement, posted on the walls of Petrograd, of the result of a
meeting of representatives of the garrison regiments, called to
consider the question of forming a new Government. For translation
see App. XI, Sect. 6.
Meanwhile the Bolsheviki had been undermining the power of the
_Vikzhel._ An appeal of the Petrograd Soviet to all railway workers
called upon them to force the _Vikzhel_ to surrender its powers. On
the 15th, the _Tsay-ee-kah,_ following its procedure toward the
peasants, called an All-Russian Congress of Railway Workers for
December 1st; the _Vikzhel_ immediately called its own Congress for
two weeks later. On November 16th, the _Vikzhel_ members took their
seats in the _Tsay-ee-kah._ On the night of December 2d, at the
opening session of the All-Russian Congress of Railway Workers, the
_Tsay-ee-kah_ formally offered the post of Commissar of Ways and
Communications to the _Vikzhel_-which accepted....
Having settled the question of power, the Bolsheviki turned their
attention to problems of practical administration. First of all the
city, the country, the Army must be fed. Bands of sailors and Red
Guards scoured the warehouses, the railway terminals, even the
barges in the canals, unearthing and confiscating thousands of
_poods_ 1 of food held by private speculators. Emissaries were sent
to the provinces, where with the assistance of the Land Committees
they seized the store-houses of the great grain-dealers. Expeditions
of sailors, heavily armed, were sent out in groups of five thousand,
to the South, to Siberia, with roving commissions to capture cities
still held by the White Guards, establish order, and _get food._
Passenger traffic on the Trans-Siberian Railroad was suspended for
two weeks, while thirteen trains, loaded with bolts of cloth and
bars of iron assembled by the Factory-Shop Committees, were sent out
eastward, each in charge of a Commissar, to barter with the Siberian
peasants for grain and potatoes....
Kaledin being in possession of the coal-mines of the Don, the fuel
question became urgent. Smolny shut off all electric lights in
theatres, shops and restaurants, cut down the number of street cars,
and confiscated the private stores of fire-wood held by the
fuel-dealers.... And when the factories of Petrograd were about to
close down for lack of coal, the sailors of the Baltic Fleet turned
over to the workers two hundred thousand _poods_ from the bunkers of
Toward the end of November occurred the "wine-pogroms" (See App. XI,
Sect. 7)-looting of the wine-cellars-beginning with the plundering
of the Winter Palace vaults. For days there were drunken soldiers on
the streets.... In all this was evident the hand of the
counter-revolutionists, who distributed among the regiments plans
showing the location of the stores of liquor. The Commissars of
Smolny began by pleading and arguing, which did not stop the growing
disorder, followed by pitched battles between soldiers and Red
Guards.... Finally the Military Revolutionary Committee sent out
companies of sailors with machine-guns, who fired mercilessly upon
the rioters, killing many; and by executive order the wine-cellars
were invaded by Committees with hatchets, who smashed the bottles-or
blew them up with dynamite....
Companies of Red Guards, disciplined and well-paid, were on duty at
the headquarters of the Ward Soviets day and night, replacing the
old Militia. In all quarters of the city small elective
Revolutionary Tribunals were set up by the workers and soldiers to
deal with petty crime....
The great hotels, where the speculators still did a thriving
business, were surrounded by Red Guards, and the speculators thrown
into jail. (See App. XI, Sect. 8)...
Alert and suspicious, the working-class of the city constituted
itself a vast spy system, through the servants prying into bourgeois
households, and reporting all information to the Military
Revolutionary Committee, which struck with an iron hand, unceasing.
In this way was discovered the Monarchist plot led by former
Duma-member Purishkevitch and a group of nobles and officers, who
had planned an officers' uprising, and had written a letter inviting
Kaledin to Petrograd. (See App. XI, Sect. 9).... In this way was
unearthed the conspiracy of the Petrograd Cadets, who were sending
money and recruits to Kaledin....
Neratov, frightened at the outburst of popular fury provoked by his
flight, returned and surrendered the Secret Treaties to Trotzky, who
began their publication in _Pravda,_ scandalising the world....
[Graphic Page-279 Proclamation ]
Bolshevik order. A proclamation of the Committee to Fight against
Pogroms, attached to the Petrograd Soviet. For translation see
App. XI, Sect. 11.
The restrictions on the Press were increased by a decree (See App.
XI, Sect. 10) making advertisements a monopoly of the official
Government newspaper. At this all the other papers suspended
publication as a protest, or disobeyed the law and were closed....
Only three weeks later did they finally submit.
Still the strike of the Ministries went on, still the sabotage of
the old officials, the stoppage of normal economic life. Behind
Smolny was only the will of the vast, unorganised popular masses;
and with them the Council of People's Commissars dealt, directing
revolutionary mass-action against its enemies. In eloquent
proclamations, (See App. XI, Sect. 12) couched in simple words and
spread over Russia, Lenin explained the Revolution, urged the people
to take the power into their own hands, by force to break down the
resistance of the propertied classes, by force to take over the
institutions of Government. Revolutionary order. Revolutionary
discipline! Strict accounting and control! No strikes! No loafing!
[Graphic Page-281 Appeal to work hard ]
Appeal of the Petrograd Soviet, the Petrograd Council of
Professional Unions, and the Petrograd Council of Factory Shop
Committees, to the Workers of Petro. grad, urging them to work hard
and not to strike. For translation see App. XI, Sect. 13.
On the 20th of November the Military Revolutionary Committee issued
The rich classes oppose the power of the Soviets-the Government of
workers, soldiers and peasants. Their sympathisers halt the work of
the employees of the Government and the Duma, incite strikes in the
banks, try to interrupt communication by the railways, the post and
We warn them that they are playing with fire. The country and the
Army are threatened with famine. To fight against it, the regular
functioning of all services is indispensable. The Workers' and
Peasants' Government is taking every measure to assure the country
and the Army all that is necessary. Opposition to these measures is
a crime against the People. We warn the rich classes and their
sympathisers that, if they do not cease their sabotage and their
provocation in halting the transportation of food, they will be the
first to suffer. They will be deprived of the right of receiving
food. All the reserves which they possess will be requisitioned. The
property of the principal criminals will be confiscated.
We have done our duty in warning those who play with fire.
We are convinced that in case decisive measures become necessary, we
shall be solidly supported by all workers, soldiers, and peasants.
On the 22d of November the walls of the city were placarded with a
sheet headed "EXTRAORDINARY COMMUNICATION":
The Council of People's Commissars has received an urgent telegram
from the Staff of the Northern Front....
"There must be no further delay; do not let the Army die of hunger;
the armies of the Northern Front have not received a crust of bread
now for several days, and in two or three days they will not have
any more biscuits-which are being doled out to them from reserve
supplies until now never touched.... Already delegates from all parts
of the Front are talking of a necessary removal of part of the Army
to the rear, foreseeing that in a few days there will be headlong
flight of the soldiers, dying from hunger, ravaged by the three
years' war in the trenches, sick, insufficiently clothed,
bare-footed, driven mad by superhuman misery."
The Military Revolutionary Committee brings this to the notice of
the Petrograd garrison and the workers of Petrograd. The situation
at the Front demands the most urgent and decisive measures. ...
Meanwhile the higher functionaries of the Government institutions,
banks, railroads, post and telegraph, are on strike and impeding the
work of the Government in supplying the Front with provisions.... Each
hour of delay may cost the life of thousands of soldiers. The
counter-revolutionary functionaries are the most dishonest criminals
toward their hungry and dying brethren on the Front....
The MILITARY REVOLUTIONARY COMMITTEE GIVES THESE CRIMINALS A LAST
WARNING. In event of the least resistance or opposition on their
part, the harshness of the measures which will be adopted against
them will correspond to the seriousness of their crime....
The masses of workers and soldiers responded by a savage tremor of
rage, which swept all Russia. In the capital the Government and bank
employees got out hundreds of proclamations and appeals (See App.
XI, Sect. 14), protesting, defending themselves, such as this one:
TO THE ATTENTION OF ALL CITIZENS.
THE STATE BANK IS CLOSED!
Because the violence exercised by the Bolsheviki against the State
Bank has made it impossible for us to work. The first act of the
People's Commissars was to DEMAND TEN MILLION RUBLES, and on
November 27th THEY DEMANDED TWENTY-FIVE MILLIONS, without any
indication as to where this money was to go.
... We functionaries cannot take part in plundering the people's
property. We stopped work.
CITIZENS! The money in the State Bank is yours, the people's money,
acquired by your labour, your sweat and blood. CITIZENS! Save the
people's property from robbery, and us from violence, and we shall
immediately resume work.
EMPLOYEES OF THE STATE BANK.
From the Ministry of Supplies, the Ministry of Finance, from the
Special Supply Committee, declarations that the Military
Revolutionary Committee made it impossible for the employees to
work, appeals to the population to support them against Smolny.... But
the dominant worker and soldier did not believe them; it was firmly
fixed in the popular mind that the employees were sabotaging,
starving the Army, starving the people.... In the long bread lines,
which as formerly stood in the iron winter streets, it was not _the
Government_ which was blamed, as it had been under Kerensky, but the
_tchinovniki,_ the sabotageurs; for the Government was _their_
Government, _their_ Soviets-and the functionaries of the Ministries
were against it....
At the centre of all this opposition was the Duma, and its militant
organ, the Committee for Salvation, protesting against all the
decrees of the Council of People's Commissars, voting again and
again not to recognise the Soviet Government, openly cooperating
with the new counter-revolutionary "Governments" set up at
Moghilev.... On the 17th of November, for example, the Committee for
Salvation addressed "all Municipal Governments, Zemstvos, and all
democratic and revolutionary organisations of peasants, workers,
soldiers and other citizens," in these words:
Do not recognise the Government of the Bolsheviki, and struggle
Form local Committees for Salvation of Country and Revolution, who
will unite all democratic forces, so as to aid the All-Russian
Committee for Salvation in the tasks which it has set itself....
Meanwhile the elections for the Constituent Assembly in Petrograd
(See App. XI, Sect. 15) gave an enormous plurality to the
Bolsheviki; so that even the Mensheviki Internationalists pointed
out that the Duma ought to be re-elected, as it no longer
represented the political composition of the Petrograd population....
At the same time floods of resolutions from workers' organisations,
from military units, even from the peasants in the surrounding
country, poured in upon the Duma, calling it "counter-revolutionary,
Kornilovitz," and demanding that it resign. The last days of the
Duma were stormy with the bitter demands of the Municipal workers
for decent living wages, and the threat of strikes....
On the 23d a formal decree of the Military Revolutionary Committee
dissolved the Committee for Salvation. On the 29th, the Council of
People's Commissars ordered the dissolution and re-election of the
Petrograd City Duma:
In view of the fact that the Central Duma of Petrograd, elected
September 2d, ... has definitely lost the right to represent the
population of Petrograd, being in complete disaccord with its state
of mind and its aspirations ... and in view of the fact that the
personnel of the Duma majority, although having lost all political
following, continues to make use of its prerogatives to resist in a
counter-revolutionary manner the will of the workers, soldiers and
peasants, to sabotage and obstruct the normal work of the
Government-the Council of People's Commissars considers it its duty
to invite the population of the capital to pronounce judgment on the
policy of the organ of Municipal autonomy.
To this end the Council of People's Commissars resolves:
(1) To dissolve the Municipal Duma; the dissolution to take effect
November 30th, 1917.
(2) All functionaries elected or appointed by the present Duma shall
remain at their posts and fulfil the duties confided to them, until
their places shall be filled by representatives of the new Duma.
(3) All Municipal employees shall continue to fulfil their duties;
those who leave the service of their own accord shall be considered
(4) The new elections for the Municipal Duma of Petrograd are fixed
for December 9th, 1917....
(5) The Municipal Duma of Petrograd shall meet December 11th, 1917,
at two o'clock.
(6) Those who disobey this decree, as well as those who
intentionally harm or destroy the property of the Municipality,
shall be immediately arrested and brought before the Revolutionary
The Duma met defiantly, passing resolutions to the effect that it
would "defend its position to the last drop of its blood," and
appealing desperately to the population to save their "own elected
City Government." But the population remained indifferent or
hostile. On the 31st Mayor Schreider and several members were
arrested, interrogated, and released. That day and the next the Duma
continued to meet, interrupted frequently by Red Guards and sailors,
who politely requested the assembly to disperse. At the meeting of
December 2d, an officer and some sailors entered the Nicolai Hall
while a member was speaking, and ordered the members to leave, or
force would be used. They did so, protesting to the last, but
finally "ceding to violence."
The new Duma, which was elected ten days later, and for which the
"Moderate" Socialists refused to vote, was almost entirely
There remained several centres of dangerous opposition, such as the
"republics" of Ukraine and Finland, which were showing definitely
anti-Soviet tendencies. Both at Helsingfors and at Kiev the
Governments were gathering troops which could be depended upon, and
entering upon campaigns of crushing Bolshevism, and of disarming and
expelling Russian troops. The Ukrainean Rada had taken command of
all southern Russia, and was furnishing Kaledin reinforcements and
supplies. Both Finland and Ukraine were beginning secret
negotiations with the Germans, and were promptly recognised by the
Allied Governments, which loaned them huge sums of money, joining
with the propertied classes to create counter-revolutionary centres
of attack upon Soviet Russia. In the end, when Bolshevism had
conquered in both these countries, the defeated bourgeoisie called
in the Germans to restore them to power....
But the most formidable menace to the Soviet Government was internal
and two-headed-the Kaledin movement, and the Staff at Moghilev,
where General Dukhonin had assumed command.
Graphic Page-287 Education Proclamation]
Proclamation of the Commission of Public Education attached to the
City Duma, concerning the strike of school-teachers, just before the
Christmas holidays. The Duma had been re-elected, and was composed
almost entirely of Bolsheviki. For translation see App. XI, Sect. 17.
The ubiquitous Muraviov was appointed commander of the war against
the Cossacks, and a Red Army was recruited from among the factory
workers. Hundreds of propagandists were sent to the Don. The Council
of People's Commissars issued a proclamation to the Cossacks, (See
App. XI, Sect. 16) explaining what the Soviet Government was, how
the propertied classes, the _tchin ovniki,_ landlords, bankers and
their allies, the Cossack princes, land-owners and Generals, were
trying to destroy the Revolution, and prevent the confiscation of
their wealth by the people.
On November 27th a committee of Cossacks came to Smolny to see
Trotzky and Lenin. They demanded if it were true that the Soviet
Government did not intend to divide the Cossack lands among the
peasants of Great Russia? "No," answered Trotzky. The Cossacks
deliberated for a while. "Well," they asked, "does the Soviet
Government intend to confiscate the estates of our great Cossack
land-owners and divide them among the working Cossacks?" To this
Lenin replied. "That," he said, "is for _you_ to do. We shall
support the working Cossacks in all their actions.... The best way to
begin is to form Cossacks Soviets; you will be given representation
in the _Tsay-ee-kah,_ and then it will be _your_ Government, too....
The Cossacks departed, thinking hard. Two weeks later General
Kaledin received a deputation from his troops. "Will you," they
asked, "promise to divide the great estates of the Cossack landlords
among the working Cossacks?"
"Only over my dead body," responded Kaledin. A month later, seeing
his army melt away before his eyes, Kaledin blew out his brains. And
the Cossack movement was no more....
Meanwhile at Moghilev were gathered the old _Tsay-ee-kah_ the
"moderate" Socialist leaders-from Avksentiev to Tchernov-the active
chiefs of the old Army Committees, and the reactionary officers. The
Staff steadily refused to recognise the Council of People's
Commissars. It had united about it the Death Battalions, the Knights
of St. George, and the Cossacks of the Front, and was in close and
secret touch with the Allied military attachès, and with the Kaledin
movement and the Ukrainean Rada....
The Allied Governments had made no reply to the Peace decree of
November 8th, in which the Congress of Soviets had asked for a
On November 20th Trotzky addressed a note to the Allied Ambassadors:
(See App. XI, Sect. 18)
I have the honour to inform you, Mr. Ambassador, that the
All-Russian Congress of Soviets... on November 8th constituted a new
Government of the Russian Republic, in the form of the Council of
People's Commissars. The President of this Government is Vladimir
Ilyitch Lenin. The direction of Foreign Affairs has been entrusted
to me, People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs....
In drawing your attention to the text, approved by the All-Russian
Congress, of the proposition for an armistice and a democratic peace
without annexations or indemnities, based on the right of
self-determination of peoples, I have the honour to request you to
consider that document as a formal proposal of an immediate
armistice on all fronts, and the opening of immediate peace
negotiations; a proposal which the authorised Government of the
Russian Republic addresses at the same time to all the belligerent
peoples and their Governments.
Please accept, Mr. Ambassador, the profound assurance of the esteem
of the Soviet Government toward your people, who cannot but wish for
peace, like all the other peoples exhausted and drained by this
The same night the Council of People's Commissars telegraphed to
... The Council of People's Commissars considers it indispensable
without delay to make a formal proposal of armistice to all the
powers, both enemy and Allied. A declaration conforming to this
decision has been sent by the Commissar for Foreign Affairs to the
representatives of the Allied powers at Petrograd.
The Council of People's Commissars orders you, Citizen Commander,...
to propose to the enemy military authorities immediately to cease
hostilities, and enter into negotiations for peace.
In charging you with the conduct of these preliminary pourparlers,
the Council of People's Commissars orders you:
1. To inform the Council by direct wire immediately of any and all
steps in the pourparlers with the representatives of the enemy
2. Not to sign the act of armistice until it has been passed upon by
the Council of People's Commissars.
The Allied Ambassadors received Trotzky's note with contemptuous
silence, accompanied by anonymous interviews in the newspapers, full
of spite and ridicule. The order to Dukhonin was characterised
openly as an act of treason....
As for Dukhonin, he gave no sign. On the night of November 22nd he
was communicated with by telephone, and asked if he intended to obey
the order. Dukhonin answered that he could not, unless it emanated
from "a Government sustained by the Army and the country."
By telegraph he was immediately dismissed from the post of Supreme
Commander, and Krylenko appointed in his place. Following his
tactics of appealing to the masses, Lenin sent a radio to all
regimental, divisional and corps Committees, to all soldiers and
sailors of the Army and the Fleet, acquainting them with Dukhonin's
refusal, and ordering that "the regiments on the front shall elect
delegates to begin negotiations with the enemy detachments opposite
On the 23d, the military attaches of the Allied nations, acting on
instructions from their Governments, presented a note to Dukhonin,
in which he was solemnly warned not to "violate the conditions of
the treaties concluded between the Powers of the Entente." The note
went on to say that if a separate armistice with Germany were
concluded, that act "would result in the most serious consequences"
to Russia. This communication Dukhonin at once sent out to all the
Next morning Trotzky made another appeal to the troops,
characterising the note of the Allied representatives as a flagrant
interference in the internal affairs of Russia, and a bald attempt
"to force by threats the Russian Army and the Russian people to
continue the war in execution of the treaties concluded by the
From Smolny poured out proclamation after proclamation, (See App.
XI, Sect. 19) denouncing Dukhonin and the counter-revolutionary
officers about him, denouncing the reactionary politicians gathered
at Moghilev, rousing, from one end of the thousand-mile Front to the
other, millions of angry, suspicious soldiers. And at the same time
Krylenko, accompanied by three detachments of fanatical sailors, set
out for the _Stavka,_ breathing threats of vengeance, (See App. XI,
Sect. 20) and received by the soldiers everywhere with tremendous
ovations-a triumphal progress. The Central Army Committee issued a
declaration in favour of Dukhonin; and at once ten thousand troops
moved upon Moghilev....
On December 2d the garrison of Moghilev rose and seized the city,
arresting Dukhonin and the Army Committee, and going out with
victorious red banners to meet the new Supreme Commander. Krylenko
entered Moghilev next morning, to find a howling mob gathered about
the railway-car in which Dukhonin had been imprisoned. Krylenko made
a speech in which he implored the soldiers not to harm Dukhonin, as
he was to be taken to Petrograd and judged by the Revolutionary
Tribunal. When he had finished, suddenly Dukhonin himself appeared
at the window, as if to address the throng. But with a savage roar
the people rushed the car, and falling upon the old General, dragged
him out and beat him to death on the platform....
So ended the revolt of the _Stavka_....
Immensely strengthened by the collapse of the last important
stronghold of hostile military power in Russia, the Soviet
Government began with confidence the organisation of the state. Many
of the old functionaries flocked to its banner, and many members of
other parties entered the Government service. The financially
ambitious, however, were checked by the decree on Salaries of
Government Employees, fixing the salaries of the People's
Commissars-the highest-at five hundred rubles (about fifty dollars)
a month.... The strike of Government Employees, led by the Union of
Unions, collapsed, deserted by the financial and commercial
interests which had been backing it. The bank clerks returned to
With the decree on the Nationalisation of Banks, the formation of
the Supreme Council of People's Economy, the putting into practical
operation of the Land decree in the villages, the democratic
reorganisation of the Army, and the sweeping changes in all branches
of the Government and of life,-with all these, effective only by the
will of the masses of workers, soldiers and peasants, slowly began,
with many mistakes and hitches, the moulding of proletarian Russia.
Not by compromise with the propertied classes, or with the other
political leaders; not by conciliating the old Government mechanism,
did the Bolsheviki conquer the power. Nor by the organized violence
of a small clique. If the masses all over Russia had not been ready
for insurrection it must have failed. The only reason for Bolshevik
success lay in their accomplishing the vast and simple desires of
the most profound strata of the people, calling them to the work of
tearing down and destroying the old, and afterward, in the smoke of
falling ruins, cooperating with them to erect the frame-work of the
The Peasants' Congress
IT was on November 18th that the snow came. In the morning we woke
to window-ledges heaped white, and snowflakes falling so whirling
thick that it was impossible to see ten feet ahead. The mud was
gone; in a twinkling the gloomy city became white, dazzling. The
_droshki_ with their padded coachmen turned into sleights, bounding
along the uneven street at headlong speed, their drivers' beards
stiff and frozen.... In spite of Revolution, all Russia plunging
dizzily into the unknown and terrible future, joy swept the city
with the coming of the snow. Everybody was smiling; people ran into
the streets, holding out their arms to the soft, falling flakes,
laughing. Hidden was all the greyness; only the gold and coloured
spires and cupolas, with heightened barbaric splendour, gleamed
through the white snow.
Even the sun came out, pale and watery, at noon. The colds and
rheumatism of the rainy months vanished. The life of the city grew
gay, and the very Revolution ran swifter....
I sat one evening in a _traktir_-a kind of lower-class inn-across
the street from the gates of Smolny; a low-ceilinged, loud place
called "Uncle Tom's Cabin," much frequented by Red Guards. They
crowded it now, packed close around the little tables with their
dirty table-cloths and enormous china tea-pots, filling the place
with foul cigarette-smoke, while the harassed waiters ran about
crying _"Seichass! Seichass!_ In a minute! Right away!"
In one corner sat a man in the uniform of a captain, addressing the
assembly, which interrupted him at every few words.
"You are no better than murderers!" he cried. "Shooting down your
Russian brothers on the streets!"
"When did we do that?" asked a worker.
"Last Sunday you did it, when the _yunkers_--"
"Well, didn't they shoot us?" One man exhibited his arm in a sling.
"Haven't I got something to remember them by, the devils?"
The captain shouted at the top of his voice. "You should remain
neutral! You should remain neutral! Who are you to destroy the legal
Government? Who is Lenin? A German--"
"Who are you? A counter-revolutionist! A provocator!" they bellowed
When he could make himself heard the captain stood up. "All right!"
said he. "You call yourselves the people of Russia. But you're _not_
the people of Russia. The _peasants_ are the people of Russia. Wait
until the peasants--"
"Yes," they cried, "wait until the peasants speak. We know what the
peasants will say.... Aren't they workingmen like ourselves?"
In the long run, everything depended upon the peasants. While the
peasants had been politically backward, still they had their own
peculiar ideas, and they constituted more than eighty per cent of
the people of Russia. The Bolsheviki had a comparatively small
following among the peasants; and a permanent dictatorship of Russia
by the industrial workers was impossible.... The traditional peasant
party was the Socialist Revolutionary party; of all the parties now
supporting the Soviet Government, the Left Socialist Revolutionaries
were the logical inheritors of peasant leadership-and the Left
Socialist Revolutionaries, who were at the mercy of the organised
city proletariat, desperately needed the backing of the peasants....
Meanwhile Smolny had not neglected the peasants. After the Land
decree, one of the first actions of the new _Tsay-ee-kah_ had been
to call a Congress of Peasants, over the head of the Executive
Committee of the Peasants' Soviets. A few days later was issued
detailed Regulations for the _Volost_ (Township) Land Committees,
followed by Lenin's "Instruction to Peasants," (See App. XII, Sect.
1) which explained the Bolshevik revolution and the new Government
in simple terms; and on November 16th, Lenin and Miliutin published
the "Instructions to Provincial Emissaries," of whom thousands were
sent by the Soviet Government into the villages.
1. Upon his arrival in the province to which he is accredited, the
emissary should call a joint meeting of the Central Executive
Committees of the Soviets of Workers', Soldiers' and Peasants'
Deputies, to whom he should make a report on the agrarian laws, and
then demand that a joint plenary session of the Soviets be summoned....
2. He must study the aspects of the agrarian problem in the province.
a. Has the land-owners' property been taken over, and if so, in what
b. Who administers the confiscated land-the former proprietor, or
the Land Committees?
c. What has been done with the agricultural machinery and with the
3. Has the ground cultivated by the peasants been augmented?
4. How much and in what respect does the amount of land now under
cultivation differ from the amount fixed by the Government as an
5. The emissary must insist that, after the peasants have received
the land, it is imperative that they increase the amount of
cultivated land as quickly as possible, and that they hasten the
sending of grain to the cities, as the only means of avoiding famine.
6. What are the measures projected or put into effect for the
transfer of land from the land-owners to the Land Committees and
similar bodies appointed by the Soviets?
7. It is desirable that agricultural properties well appointed and
well organised should be administered by Soviets composed of the
regular employees of those properties, under the direction of
competent agricultural scientists.
All through the villages a ferment of change was going on, caused
not only by the electrifying action of the Land decree, but also by
thousands of revolutionary-minded peasant-soldiers returning from
the front.... These men, especially, welcomed the call to a Congress
Like the old _Tsay-ee-kah_ in the matter of the second Congress of
Workers' and Soldiers' Soviets, the Executive Committee tried to
prevent the Peasant Congress summoned by Smolny. And like the old
_Tsay-ee-kah,_ finding its resistance futile, the Executive
Committee sent frantic telegrams ordering the election of
Conservative delegates. Word was even spread among the peasants that
the Congress would meet at Moghilev, and some delegates went there;
but by November 23d about four hundred had gathered in Petrograd,
and the party caucuses had begun....
The first session took place in the Alexander Hall of the Duma
building, and the first vote showed that more than half of all the
delegates were Left Socialist Revolutionaries, while the Bolsheviki
controlled a bare fifth, the conservative Socialist Revolutionaries
a quarter, and all the rest were united only in their opposition to
the old Executive Committee, dominated by Avksentiev, Tchaikovsky
The great hall was jammed with people and shaken with continual
clamour; deep, stubborn bitterness divided the delegates into angry
groups. To the right was a sprinkling of officers' epaulettes, and
the patriarchal, bearded faces of the older, more substantial
peasants; in the centre were a few peasants, non-commissioned
officers, and some soldiers; and on the left almost all the
delegates wore the uniforms of common soldiers. These last were the
young generation, who had been serving in the army.... The galleries
were thronged with workers-who, in Russia, still remember their
Unlike the old _Tsay-ee-kah,_ the Executive Committee, in opening
the session, did not recognise the Congress as official; the
official Congress was called for December 13th; amid a hurricane of
applause and angry cries, the speaker declared that this gathering
was merely "Extraordinary Conference"... But the "Extraordinary
Conference" soon showed its attitude toward the Executive Committee
by electing as presiding officer Maria Spiridonova, leader of the
Left Socialist Revolution aries.
Most of the first day was taken up by a violent debate as to whether
the representatives of _Volost_ Soviets should be seated, or only
delegates from the Provincial bodies; and just as in the Workers'
and Soldiers' Congress, an overwhelming majority declared in favour
of the widest possible representation. Whereupon the old Executive
Committee left the hall....
Almost immediately it was evident that most of the delegates were
hostile to the Government of the People's Commissars. Zinoviev,
attempting to speak for the Bolsheviki, was hooted down, and as he
left the platform, amid laughter, there were cries, "There's how a
People's Commissar sits in a mudpuddle!"
"We Left Socialist Revolutionaries refuse," cried Nazariev, a
delegate from the Provinces, "to recognise this so-called Workers'
and Peasants' Government until the peasants are represented in it.
At present it is nothing but a dictatorship of the workers.... We
insist upon the formation of a new Government which will represent
the entire democracy!"
The reactionary delegates shrewdly fostered this feeling, declaring,
in the face of protests from the Bolshevik benches, that the Council
of People's Commissars intended either to control the Congress or
dissolve it by force of arms-an announcement which was received by
the peasants with bursts of fury....
On the third day Lenin suddenly mounted the tribune; for ten minutes
the room went mad. "Down with him!" they shrieked. "We will not
listen to any of your People's Commissars! We don't recognise your
Lenin stood there quite calmly, gripping the desk with both hands,
his little eyes thoughtfully surveying the tumult beneath. Finally,
except for the right side of the hall, the demonstration wore itself
"I do not come here as a member of the Council of People's
Commissars," said Lenin, and waited again for the noise to subside,
"but as a member of the Bolshevik faction, duly elected to this
Congress." And he held his credentials up to that all might see them.
"However," he went on, in an unmoved voice, "nobody will deny that
the present Government of Russia has been formed by the Bolshevik
party-" he had to wait a moment, "so that for all purposes it is the
same thing...." Here the right benches broke into deafening clamour,
but the centre and left were curious, and compelled silence.
Lenin's argument was simple. "Tell me frankly, you peasants, to whom
we have given the lands of the _pomieshtchiki;_ do you want now to
prevent the workers from getting control of industry? This is class
war. The _pomieshtchiki_ of course oppose the peasants, and the
manufactures oppose the workers. Are you going to allow the ranks of
the proletariat to be divided? Which side will you be on?
"We, the Bolsheviki, are the party of the proletariat-of the peasant
proletariat as well as the industrial proletariat. We, the
Bolsheviki, are the protectors of the Soviets-of the Peasants'
Soviets as well as those of the Workers and Soldiers. The present
Government is a Government of Soviets; we have not only invited the
Peasants' Soviets to join that Government, but we have also invited
representatives of the Left Socialist Revolutionaries to enter the
Council of People's Commissars....
"The Soviets are the most perfect representatives of the people-of
the workers in the factories and mines, of the workers in the
fields. Anybody who attempts to destroy the Soviets is guilty of an
anti-democratic and counter-revolutionary act. And I serve notice
here on you, comrades _Right_ Socialist Revolutionaries-and on you,
Messrs. Cadets-that if the Constituent Assembly attempts to destroy
the Soviets, we shall not permit the Constituent Assembly to do this
On the afternoon of November 25th Tchernov arrived in hot haste from
Moghilev, summoned by the Executive Committee. Only two months
before considered an extreme revolutionist, and very popular with
the peasants, he was now called to check the dangerous drift of the
Congress toward the Left. Upon his arrival Tchernov was arrested and
taken to Smolny, where, after a short conversation, he was released.
His first act was to bitterly rebuke the Executive Committee for
leaving the Congress. They agreed to return, and Tchernov entered
the hall, welcomed with great applause by the majority, and the
hoots and jeers of the Bolsheviki.
"Comrades! I have been away. I participated in the Conference of the
Twelfth Army on the question of calling a Congress of all the
Peasant delegates of the armies of the Western Front, and I know
very little about the insurrection which occurred here--"
Zinoviev rose in his seat, and shouted, "Yes, you were away-for a
few minutes!" Fearful tumult. Cries, "Down with the Bolsheviki!"
Tchernov continued. "The accusation that I helped lead an army on
Petrograd has no foundation, and is entirely false. Where does such
an accusation come from? Show me the source!"
Zinoviev: "_Izviestia_ and _Dielo Naroda_-your own paper -that's
where it comes from!"
Tchernov's wide face, with the small eyes, waving hair and greyish
beard, became red with wrath, but he controlled himself and went on.
"I repeat, I know practically nothing about what has happened here,
and I did not lead any army except this army, (he pointed to the
peasant delegates), which I am largely responsible for bringing
here!" Laughter, and shouts of "Bravo!"
"Upon my return I visited Smolny. No such accusation was made
against me there.... After a brief conversation I left-and that's all!
Let any one present make such an accusation!"
An uproar followed, in which the Bolsheviki and some of the Left
Socialist Revolutionaries were on their feet all at once, shaking
their fists and yelling, and the rest of the assembly tried to yell
"This is an outrage, not a session!" cried Tchernov, and he left the
hall; the meeting was adjourned because of the noise and disorder....
Meanwhile, the question of the status of the Executive Committee was
agitating all minds. By declaring the assembly "Extraordinary
Conference," it had been planned to block the reelection of the
Executive Committee. But this worked both ways; the Left Socialist
Revolutionists decided that if the Congress had no power over the
Executive Committee, then the Executive Committee had no power over
the Congress. On November 25th the assembly resolved that the powers
of the Executive Committee be assumed by the Extraordinary
Conference, in which only members of the Executive who had been
elected as delegates might vote....
The next day, in spite of the bitter opposition of the Bolsheviki,
the resolution was amended to give all the members of the Executive
Committee, whether elected as delegates or not, voice and vote in
On the 27th occurred the debate on the Land question, which revealed
the differences between the agrarian programme of the Bolsheviki and
the Left Socialist Revolutionaries.
Kolchinsky, for the Left Socialist Revolutionaries, outlined the
history of the Land question during the Revolution. The first
Congress of Peasants' Soviets, he said, had voted a precise and
formal resolution in favour of putting the landed estates
immediately into the hands of the Land Committees. But the directors
of the Revolution, and the bourgeois in the Government, had insisted
that the question could not be solved until the Constituent Assembly
met.... The second period of the Revolution, the period of
"compromise,"was signalled by the entrance of Tchernov into the
Cabinet. The peasants were convinced that now the practical solution
of the Land question would begin; but in spite of the imperative
decision of the first Peasant Congress, the reactionaries and
conciliators in the Executive Committee had prevented any action.
This policy provoked a series of agrarian disorders, which appeared
as the natural expression of impatience and thwarted energy on the
part of the peasants. The peasants understood the exact meaning of
the Revolution-they tried to turn words into action....
"The recent events," said the orator, "do not indicate a simple
riot, or a 'Bolshevik adventure,' but on the contrary, a real
popular rising, which has been greeted with sympathy by the whole
"The Bolsheviki in general took the correct attitude toward the Land
question; but in recommending that the peasants seize the land by
force, they committed a profound error.... From the first days, the
Bolsheviki declared that the peasants should take over the land 'by
revolutionary massaction.' This is nothing but anarchy; the land can
be taken over in an organised manner.... For the Bolsheviki it was
important that the problems of the Revolution should be solved in
the quickest possible manner-but the Bolsheviki were not interested
in _how_ these problems were to be solved....
"The Land decree of the Congress of Soviets is identical in its
fundamentals with the decisions of the first Peasants' Congress. Why
then did not the new Government follow the tactics outlined by that
Congress? Because the Council of People's Commissars wanted to
hasten the settlement of the Land question, so that the Constituent
Assembly would have nothing to do....
"But also the Government saw that it was necessary to adopt
practical measures, so without further reflection, it adopted the
Regulations for Land Committees, thus creating a strange situation;
for the Council of People's Commissars abolished private property in
land, but the Regulations drawn up by the Land Committees are based
on private property.... However, no harm has been done by that; for
the Land Committees are paying no attention to the Soviet decrees,
but are putting into operation their own practical
decisions-decisions based on the will of the vast majority of the
"These Land Committees are not attempting the legislative solution
of the Land question, which belongs to the Constituent Assembly
alone.... But will the Constituent Assembly desire to do the will of
the Russian peasants? Of that we cannot be sure.... All we can be sure
of is that the revolutionary determination of the peasants is now
aroused, and that the Constituent will be _forced_ to settle the
Land question the way the peasants want it settled.... The Constituent
Assembly will not dare to break with the will of the people...."
Followed him Lenin, listened to now with absorbing intensity. "At
this moment we are not only trying to solve the Land question, but
the question of Social Revolution-not only here in Russia, but all
over the world. The Land question cannot be solved independently of
the other problems of the Social Revolution.... For example, the
confiscation of the landed estates will provoke the resistance not
only of Russian land-owners, but also of foreign capital-with whom
the great landed properties are connected through the intermediary
of the banks....
"The ownership of the land in Russia is the basis for immense
oppression, and the confiscation of the land by the peasants is the
most important step of our Revolution. But it cannot be separated
from the other steps, as is clearly manifested by the stages through
which the Revolution has had to pass. The first stage was the
crushing of autocracy and the crushing of the power of the
industrial capitalists and land-owners, whose interests are closely
related. The second stage was the strengthening of the Soviets and
the political compromise with the bourgeoisie. The mistake of the
Left Socialist Revolutionaries lies in the fact that at that time
they did not oppose the policy of compromise, because they held the
theory that the consciousness of the masses was not yet fully
_"If Socialism can only be realised when the intellectual
development of all the people permits it, then we shall not see
Socialism for at least five hundred years_.... The Socialist political
party-this is the vanguard of the working-class; it must not allow
itself to be halted by the lack of education of the mass average,
but it must lead the masses, using the Soviets as organs of
revolutionary initiative.... But in order to lead the wavering, the
comrades Left Socialist Revolutionaries themselves must stop
"In July last a series of open breaks began between the popular
masses and the 'compromisers'; but now, in November, the Left
Socialist Revolutionaries are still holding out their hand to
Avksentiev, who is pulling the people with his little finger.... If
Compromise continues, the Revolution disappears. No compromise with
the bourgeoisie is possible; its power must be absolutely crushed....
"We Bolsheviki have not changed our Land programme; we have not
given up the abolition of private property in the land, and we do
not intend to do so. We adopted the Regulations for Land
Committees,-which are _not_ based on private property at all-because
we want to accomplish the popular will in the way the people have
themselves decided to do it, so as to draw closer the coalition of
all the elements who are fighting for the Social Revolution.
"We invite the Left Socialist Revolutionaries to enter that
coalition, insisting, however, that they cease looking backward, and
that they break with the 'conciliators' of their party....
"As far as the Constituent Assembly is concerned, it is true, as the
preceding speaker has said, that the work of the Constituent will
depend on the revolutionary determination of the masses. I say,
'Count on that revolutionary determination, but don't forget your
Lenin then read the Bolshevik resolution:
The Peasants' Congress, fully supporting the Land decree of November
8th... approves of the Provisional Workers' and Peasants' Government
of the Russian Republic, established by the second All-Russian
Congress of Soviets of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies.
The Peasants' Congress... invites all peasants unanimously to sustain
that law, and to apply it immediately themselves; and at the same
time invites the peasants to appoint to posts and positions of
responsibility only persons who have proved, not by words but by
acts, their entire devotion to the interests of the exploited
peasant-workers, their desire and their ability to defend these
interests against all resistance on the part of the great
land-owners, the capitalists, their partisans and accomplices....
The Peasants' Congress, at the same time, expresses its conviction
that the complete realisation of all the measures which make up the
Land decree can only be successful through the triumph of the
Workers' Social Revolution, which began November 7th, 1917; for only
the Social Revolution can accomplish the definite transfer, without
possibility of return, of the land to the peasant-workers, the
confiscation of model farms and their surrender to the peasant
communes, the confiscation of agricultural machinery belonging to
the great land-owners, the safe-guarding of the interests of the
agricultural workers by the complete abolition of wage-slavery, the
regular and methodical distribution among all regions of Russia of
the products of agriculture and industry, and the seizure of the
banks (without which the possession of land by the whole people
would be impossible, after the abolition of private property), and
all sorts of assistance by the State to the workers....
For these reasons the Peasants' Congress sustains entirely the
Revolution of November 7th... as a social revolution, and expresses
its unalterable will to put into operation, with whatever
modifications are necessary, but without any hesitation, the social
transformation of the Russian Republic.
The indispensable conditions of the victory of the Social
Revolution, which alone will secure the lasting success and the
complete realisation of the Land decree, is the close union of the
peasant-workers with the industrial working-class, with the
proletariat of all advanced countries. From now on, in the Russian
Republic, all the organisation and administration of the State, from
top to bottom, must rest on that union. That union, crushing all
attempts, direct or indirect, open or dissimulated, to return to the
policy of conciliation with the bourgeoisie-conciliation, damned by
experience, with the chiefs of bourgeois politics-can alone insure
the victory of Socialism throughout the world....
The reactionaries of the Executive Committee no longer dared openly
to appear. Tchernov, however, spoke several times, with a modest and
winning impartiality. He was invited to sit on the platform.... On the
second night of the Congress an anonymous note was handed up to the
chairman, requesting that Tchernov be made honorary President.
Ustinov read the note aloud, and immediately Zinoviev was on his
feet, screaming that this was a trick of the old Executive Committee
to capture the convention; in a moment the hall was one bellowing
mass of waving arms and angry faces, on both sides.... Nevertheless,
Tchernov remained very popular.
In the stormy debates on the Land question and the Lenin resolution,
the Bolsheviki were twice on the point of quitting the assembly,
both times restrained by their leaders.... It seemed to me as if the
Congress were hopelessly deadlocked.
But none of us knew that a series of secret conferences were already
going on between the Left Socialist Revolutionaries and the
Bolsheviki at Smolny. At first the Left Socialist Revolutionaries
had demanded that there be a Government composed of all the
Socialist parties in and out of the Soviets, to be responsible to a
People's Council, composed of an equal number of delegates from the
Workers' and Soldiers' organisation, and that of the Peasants, and
completed by representatives of the City Dumas and the Zemstvos;
Lenin and Trotzky were to be eliminated, and the Military
Revolutionary Committee and other repressive organs dissolved.
Wednesday morning, November 28th, after a terrible all-night
struggle, an agreement was reached. The _Tsay-ee-kah,_composed of
108 members, was to be augumented by 108 members elected
proportionally from the Peasants' Congress; by 100 delegates elected
directly from the Army and the Fleet; and by 50 representatives of
the Trade Unions (35 from the general Unions, 10 Railway Workers,
and 5 from the Post and Telegraph Workers). The Dumas and Zemstvos
were dropped. Lenin and Trotzky remained in the Government, and the
Military Revolutionary Committee continued to function.
The sessions of the Congress had now been removed to the Imperial
Law School building, Fontanka 6, headquarters of the Peasants'
Soviets. There in the great meeting-hall the delegates gathered on
Wednesday afternoon. The old Executive Committee had withdrawn, and
was holding a rump convention of its own in another room of the same
building, made up of bolting delegates and representatives of the
Tchernov went from one meeting to the other, keeping a watchful eye
on the proceedings. He knew that an agreement with the Bolsheviki
was being discussed, but he did not know that it had been concluded.
He spoke to the rump convention. "At present, when everybody is in
favour of forming an all-Socialist Government, many people forget
the first Ministry, which was _not_ a coalition Government, and in
which there was only one Socialist-Kerensky; a Government which, in
its time, was very popular. Now people accuse Kerensky; they forget
that he was raised to power, not only by the Soviets, but also by
the popular masses....
"Why did public opinion change toward Kerensky? The savages set up
gods to which they pray, and which they punish if one of their
prayers is not answered.... That is what is happening at this moment....
Yesterday Kerensky; today Lenin and Trotzky; another to-morrow....
"We have proposed to both Kerensky and the Bolsheviki to retire from
the power. Kerensky has accepted-to-day he announced from his
hiding-place that he has resigned as Premier; but the Bolsheviki
wish to retain the power, and they do not know how to use it....
"If the Bolsheviki succeed, or if they fail, the fate of Russia will
not be changed. The Russian villages understand perfectly what they
want, and they are now carrying out their own measures.... The
villages will save us in the end...."
In the meanwhile, in the great hall Ustinov had announced the
agreement between the Peasants' Congress and Smolny, received by the
delegates with the wildest joy. Suddenly Tchernov appeared, and
demanded the floor.
"I understand," he began, "that an agreement is being concluded
between the Peasants' Congress and Smolny. Such an agreement would
be illegal, seeing that the true Congress of Peasants' Soviets does
not meet until next week....
"Moreover, I want to warn you now that the Bolsheviki will never
accept your demands...."
He was interrupted by a great burst of laughter; and realising the
situation, he left the platform and the room, taking his popularity
Late in the afternoon of Thursday, November 16th, the Congress met
in extraordinary session. There was a holiday feeling in the air; on
every face was a smile.... The remainder of the business before the
assembly was hurried through, and then old Nathanson, the
white-bearded dean of the left wing of the Socialist
Revolutionaries, his voice trembling and tears in his eyes, read the
report of the "wedding" of the Peasants' Soviets with the Workers'
and Soldiers' Soviets. At every mention of the word "union" there
was ecstatic applause.... At the end Ustinov announced the arrival
rival of a delegation from Smolny, accompanied by representatives of
the Red Army, greeted with a rising ovation. One after another a
workman, a soldier and a sailor took the floor, hailing them.
Then Boris Reinstein, delegate of the American Socialist Labor
Party: "The day of the union of the Congress of Peasants and the
Soviets of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies is one of the great days
of the Revolution. The sound of it will ring with resounding echoes
throughout the whole world-in Paris, in London, and across the
ocean-in New York. This union will fill with happiness the hearts of
"A great idea has triumphed. The West, and America, expected from
Russia, from the Russian proletariat, something tremendous.... The
proletariat of the world is waiting for the Russian Revolution,
waiting for the great things that it is accomplishing...."
Sverdlov, president of the _Tsay-ee-kah,_ greeted them. And with the
shout, "Long live the end of civil war! Long live the United
Democracy!" the peasants poured out of the building.
It was already dark, and on the ice-covered snow glittered the pale
light of moon and star. Along the bank of the canal were drawn up in
full marching order the soldiers of the Pavlovsky Regiment, with
their band, which broke into the _Marseillaise._ Amid the crashing
full-throated shouts of the soldiers, the peasants formed in line,
unfurling the great red banner of the Executive Committee of the
All-Russian Peasants' Soviets, embroidered newly in gold, "Long live
the union of the revolutionary and toiling masses!" Following were
other banners; of the District Soviets-of Putilov Factory, which
read, "We bow to this flag in order to create the brotherhood of all
From somewhere torches appeared, blazing orange in the night, a
thousand times reflected in the facets of the ice, streaming out
smokily over the throng as it moved down the bank of the Fontanka
singing, between crowds that stood in astonished silence.
"Long live the Revolutionary Army! Long live the Red Guard! Long
live the Peasants!"
So the great procession wound through the city, growing and
unfurling ever new red banners lettered in gold. Two old peasants,
bowed with toil, were walking hand in hand, their faces illumined
with child-like bliss.
"Well," said one, "I'd like to see them take away our land again,
Near Smolny the Red Guard was lined up on both sides of the street,
wild with delight. The other old peasant spoke to his comrade, "I am
not tired," he said. "I walked on air all the way!"
On the steps of Smolny about a hundred Workers' and Soldiers'
Deputies were massed, with their banner, dark against the blaze of
light streaming out between the arches. Like a wave they rushed
down, clasping the peasants in their arms and kissing them; and the
procession poured in through the great door and up the stairs, with
a noise like thunder....
In the immense white meeting-room the _Tsay-ee-kah_ was waiting,
with the whole Petrograd Soviet and a thousand spectators beside,
with that solemnity which attends great conscious moments in history.
Zinoviev announced the agreement with the Peasants' Congress, to a
shaking roar which rose and burst into storm as the sound of music
blared down the corridor, and the head of the procession came in. On
the platform the presidium rose and made place for the Peasants'
presidium, the two embracing; behind them the two banners were
intertwined against the white wall, over the empty frame from which
the Tsar's picture had been torn....
Then opened the "triumphal session." After a few words of welcome
from Sverdlov, Maria Spiridonova, slight, pale, with spectacles and
hair drawn flatly down, and the air of a New England school-teacher,
took the tribune-the most loved and the most powerful woman in all
"... Before the workers of Russia open now horizons which history has
never known.... All workers' movements in the past have been defeated.
But the present movement is international, and that is why it is
invincible. There is no force in the world which can put out the
fire of the Revolution! The old world crumbles down, the new world
Then Trotzky, full of fire: "I wish you welcome, comrades peasants!
You come here not as guests, but as masters of this house, which
holds the heart of the Russian Revolution. The will of millions of
workers is now concentrated in this hall.... There is now only one
master of the Russian land: the union of the workers, soldiers and
With biting sarcasm he went on to speak of the Allied diplomats,
till then contemptuous of Russia's invitation to an armistice, which
had been accepted by the Central Powers.
"A new humanity will be born of this war.... In this hall we swear to
workers of all lands to remain at our revolutionary post. If we are
broken, then it will be in defending our flag...."
Krylenko followed him, explaining the situation at the front, where
Dukhonin was preparing to resist the Council of People's Commissars.
"Let Dukhonin and those with him understand well that we shall not
deal gently with those who bar the road to peace!"
Dybenko saluted the assembly in the name of the Fleet, and
Krushinsky, member of the _Vikzhel,_ said, "From this moment, when
the union of all true Socialists is realised, the whole army of
railway workers places itself absolutely at the disposition of the
revolutionary democracy!" And Lunatcharsky, almost weeping, and
Proshian, for the Left Socialist Revolutionaries, and finally
Saharashvili, for the United Social Democrats Internationalists,
composed of members of the Martov's and of Gorky's groups, who
"We left the _Tsay-ee-kah_ because of the uncompromising policy of
the Bolsheviki, and to force them to make concessions in order to
realise the union of all the revolutionary democracy. Now that that
union is brought about, we consider it a sacred duty to take our
places once more in the _Tsay-ee-kah_.... We declare that all those
who have withdrawn from the _Tsay-ee-kah_ should now return."
Stachkov, a dignified old peasant of the presidium of the Peasants'
Congress, bowed to the four corners of the room. "I greet you with
the christening of a new Russian life and freedom!"
Gronsky, in the name of the Polish Social Democracy; Skripnik, for
the Factory-Shop Committees; Tifonov, for the Russian soldiers at
Salonika; and others, interminably, speaking out of full hearts,
with the happy eloquence of hopes fulfilled....
It was late in the night when the following resolution was put and
"The _Tsay-ee-kah,_ united in extraordinary session with the
Petrograd Soviet and the Peasants' Congress, confirms the Land and
Peace decrees adopted by the second Congress of Soviets of Workers'
and Soldiers' Deputies, and also the decree on Workers' Control
adopted by the _Tsay-ee-kah._
"The joint session of the _Tsay-ee-kah_ and the Peasants' Congress
expresses its firm conviction that the union of workers, soldiers
and peasants, this fraternal union of all the workers and all
exploited, will consolidate the power conquered by them, that it
will take all revolutionary measures to hasten the passing of the
power into the hands of the working-class in other countries, and
that it will assure in this manner the lasting accomplishment of a
just peace and the victory of Socialism."(See App. XI, Sect. 2)
APPENDIX TO CHAPTER I
_Oborontsi_—“Defenders.” All the “moderate” Socialist groups adopted
or were given this name, because they consented to the continuation
of the war under Allied leadership, on the ground that it was a war
of National Defence. The Bolsheviki, the Left Socialist
Revolutionaries, the Mensheviki Internationalists (Martov’s faction),
and the Social Democrats Internationalists (Gorky’s group) were in
favour of forcing the Allies to declare democratic war-aims, and to
offer peace to Germany on those terms….
WAGES AND COST OF LIVING BEFORE AND DURING THE REVOLUTION
The following tables of wages and costs were compiled, in October,
1917, by a joint Committee from the Moscow Chamber of Commerce and
the Moscow section of the Ministry of Labour, and published in
_Novaya Zhizn,_ October 26th, 1917:
_Wages Per Day_—(_Rubles and kopeks_)
| _Trade_ | _July_ 1914 | _July_ 1916 | _August_ 1917 |
| Carpenter, | 1.60—2. | 4.—6. | 8.50 |
| Cabinet-maker | | | |
| Terrassier | 1.30—1.50 | 3.—3.50 | |
| Mason, plasterer | 1.70—2.35 | 4.—6. | 8. |
| Painter, upholsterer | 1.80—2.20 | 3.—5.50 | 8. |
| Blacksmith | 1.—2.25 | 4.—5. | 8.50 |
| Chimney-sweep | 1.50—2. | 4.—5.50 | 7.50 |
| Locksmith | .90—2. | 3.50—6. | 9. |
| Helper | 1.—1.50 | 2.50—4.50 | 8. |
In spite of numerous stories of gigantic advances in wages
immediately following the Revolution of March, 1917, these figures,
which were published by the Ministry of Labour as characteristic of
conditions all over Russia, show that wages did not rise immediately
after the Revolution, but little by little. On an average, wages
increased slightly more than 500 per cent….
But at the same time the value of the ruble fell to less than
one-third its former purchasing power, and the cost of the
necessities of life increased enormously.
The following table was compiled by the Municipal Duma of Moscow,
where food was cheaper and more plentiful than in Petrograd:
_Cost of Food—(Rubles and Kopeks)_
| | _August_ 1914 | _August_ 1917 | _% Increase_ | |
| Black bread | _(Fund)_ | .02 1/2 | .12 | 330 |
| White bread | _(Fund)_ | .05 | .20 | 300 |
| Beef | _(Fund)_ | .22 | 1.10 | 400 |
| Veal | _(Fund)_ | .26 | 2.15 | 727 |
| Pork | _(Fund)_ | .23 | 2. | 770 |
| Herring | _(Fund)_ | .06 | .52 | 767 |
| Cheese | _(Fund)_ | .40 | 3.50 | 754 |
| Butter | _(Fund)_ | .48 | 3.20 | 557 |
| Eggs | (Doz.) | .30 | 1.60 | 443 |
| Milk | _(Krushka)_ | .07 | .40 | 471 |
On an average, food increased in price 556 per cent, or 51 per cent
more than wages.
As for the other necessities, the price of these increased
The following table was compiled by the Economic section of the
Moscow Soviet of Workers’ Deputies, and accepted as correct by the
Ministry of Supplies of the Provisional Government.
_Cost of Other Necessities_—(_Rubles and Kopeks_)
| | _August_ 1914 | _August_ | _% | |
| | | 1917 | Increase_ | |
| Calico | _(Arshin)_ | .11 | 1.40 | 1173 |
| Cotton | _(Arshin)_ | .15 | 2. | 1233 |
| cloth | | | | |
| Dress Goods | _(Arshin)_ | 2. | 40. | 1900 |
| Castor | _(Arshin)_ | 6. | 80. | 1233 |
| Cloth | | | | |
| Men’s Shoes | (Pair) | 12. | 144. | 1097 |
| Sole | | 20. | 400. | 1900 |
| Leather | | | | |
| Rubbers | (Pair) | 2.50 | 15. | 500 |
| Men’s | (Suit) | 40. | 400. –455. | 900–1109 |
| Clothing | | | | |
| Tea | _(Fund)_ | 4.50 | 18. | 300 |
| Matches | (Carton) | .10 | .50 | 400 |
| Soap | _(Pood)_ | 4.50 | 40. | 780 |
| Gasoline | _(Vedro)_ | 1.70 | 11. | 547 |
| Candles | _(Pood)_ | 8.50 | 100. | 1076 |
| Caramel | _(Fund)_ | .30 | 4.50 | 1400 |
| Fire Wood | (Load) | 10. | 120. | 1100 |
| Charcoal | | .80 | 13. | 1525 |
| Sundry | | 1. | 20. | 1900 |
| Metal Ware | | | | |
On an average, the above categories of necessities increased about
1,109 per cent in price, more than twice the increase of salaries.
The difference, of course, went into the pockets of speculators and
In September, 1917, when I arrived in Petrograd, the average daily
wage of a skilled industrial worker—for example, a steel-worker in
the Putilov Factory—was about 8 rubles. At the same time, profits
were enormous…. I was told by one of the owners of the Thornton
Woollen Mills, an English concern on the outskirts of Petrograd, that
while wages had increased about 300 per cent in his factory, his
profits had gone up _900 per cent._
THE SOCIALIST MINISTERS
The history of the efforts of the Socialists in the Provisional
Government of July to realise their programme in coalition with the
bourgeois Ministers, is an illuminating example of class struggle in
politics. Says Lenin, in explanation of this phenomenon:
“The capitalists, … seeing that the position of the Government was
untenable, resorted to a method which since 1848 has been for decades
practised by the capitalists in order to befog, divide, and finally
overpower the working-class. This method is the so-called ‘Coalition
Ministry,’ composed of bourgeois and of renegades from the Socialist
“In those countries where political freedom and democracy have
existed side by side with the revolutionary movement of the
workers—for example in England and France—the capitalists make use of
this subterfuge, and very successfully too. The ‘Socialist’ leaders,
upon entering the Ministries, invariably prove mere figure-heads,
puppets, simply a shield for the capitalists, a tool with which to
defraud the workers. The ‘democratic’ and ‘republican’ capitalists in
Russia set in motion this very same scheme. The Socialist
Revolutionaries and Mensheviki fell victim to it, and on June 1st a
‘Coalition’ Ministry, with the participation of Tchernov, Tseretelli,
Skobeliev, Avksentiev, Savinkov, Zarudny and Nikitin became an
accomplished fact….”—_Problems of the Revolution._
SEPTEMBER MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS IN MOSCOW
In the first week of October, 1917, _Novaya Zhizn_ published the
following comparative table of election results, pointing out that
this meant the bankruptcy of the policy of Coalition with the
propertied classes. “If civil war can yet be avoided, it can only be
done by a united front of all the revolutionary democracy….”
_Elections for the Moscow Central and Ward Dumas_. Reed, John. 1922.
Ten Days That Shook the World
| _June_ 1917_September_ 1917 | | |
| Socialist Revolutionaries | 58 Members | 14 Members |
| Cadets | 17 Members | 30 Members |
| Mensheviki | 12 Members | 4 Members |
| Bolsheviki | 11 Members | 47 Members |
GROWING ARROGANCE OF THE REACTIONARIES
September 18th. The Cadet Shulgin, writing in a Kiev newspaper, said
that the Provisional Government’s declaration that Russia was a
Republic constituted a gross abuse of its powers. “We cannot admit
either a Republic, or the present Republican Government…. And we are
not sure that we want a Republic in Russia….”
October 23d. At a meeting of the Cadet party held at Riazan, M.
Dukhonin declared, “On March 1st we must establish a Constitutional
Monarchy. We must not reject the legitimate heir to the throne,
October 27th. Resolution passed by the Conference of Business Men at
“The Conference… insists that the Provisional Government take the
following immediate measures in the Army:
“1. Forbidding of all political propaganda; the Army must be out of
“2. Propaganda of antinational and international ideas and theories
deny the necessity for armies, and hurt discipline; it should be
forbidden, and all propagandists punished….
“3. The function of the Army Committees must be limited to economic
questions exclusively. All their decisions should be confirmed by
their superior officers, who have the right to dissolve the
Committees at any time….
“4. The salute to be reestablished, and made obligatory. Full
reestablishment of disciplinary power in the hands of officers, with
right of review of sentence….
“5. Expulsion from the Corps of Officers of those who dishonour it by
participating in the movement of the soldier-masses, which teaches
them disobedience…. Reestablishment for this purpose of the Courts of
“6. The Provisional Government should take the necessary measures to
make possible the return to the army of Generals and other officers
unjustly discharged under the influence of Committees, and other
APPENDIX TO CHAPTER II
The Kornilov revolt is treated in detail in my forthcoming volume,
“Kornilov to Brest-Litovsk.” The responsibility of Kerensky for the
situation which gave rise to Kornilov’s attempt is now pretty clearly
established. Many apologists for Kerensky say that he knew of
Kornilov’s plans, and by a trick drew him out prematurely, and then
crushed him. Even Mr. A. J. Sack, in his book, “The Birth of the
Russian Democracy,” says:
“Several things… are almost certain. The first is that Kerensky knew
about the movement of several detachments from the Front toward
Petrograd, and it is possible that as Prime Minister and Minister of
War, realising the growing Bolshevist danger, he called for them….”
The only flaw in that argument is that there was no “Bolshevist
danger” at that time, the Bolsheviki still being a powerless minority
in the Soviets, and their leaders in jail or hiding.
When the Democratic Conference was first proposed to Kerensky, he
suggested an assembly of all the elements in the nation—“the live
forces,” as he called them—including bankers, manufacturers,
land-owners, and representatives of the Cadet party. The Soviet
refused, and drew up the following table of representation, which
Kerensky agreed to:
| 100 delegates | All-Russian Soviets Workers’ and Soldiers’ |
| | Deputies |
| 100 delegates | All-Russian Soviets Peasants’ Deputies |
| 50 delegates | Provincial Soviets Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies |
| 50 delegates | Peasants’ District Land Committees |
| 100 delegates | Trade Unions |
| 84 delegates | Army Committees at the Front |
| 150 delegates | Workers’ and Peasants’ Cooperative Societies |
| 20 delegates | Railway Workers’ Union |
| 10 delegates | Post and Telegraph Workers’ Union |
| 20 delegates | Commercial Clerks |
| 15 delegates | Liberal Professions—Doctors, Lawyers, |
| | Journalists, etc. |
| 50 delegates | Provincial Zemstvos |
| 59 delegates | Nationalist Organisations—Poles, Ukraineans, etc. |
This proportion was altered twice or three times. The final
disposition of delegates was:
| 300 delegates | All-Russian Soviets Workers’, Soldiers’ & |
| | Peasants’ Deputies |
| 300 delegates | Cooperative Societies |
| 300 delegates | Municipalities |
| 150 delegates | Army Committees at the Front |
| 150 delegates | Provincial Zemstvos |
| 200 delegates | Trade Unions |
| 100 delegates | Nationalist Organisations |
| 200 delegates | Several small groups |
THE FUNCTION OF THE SOVIETS IS ENDED
On September 28th, 1917, _Izviestia,_ organ of the _Tsay-ee-kah,_
published an article which said, speaking of the last Provisional
“At last a truly democratic government, born of the will of all
classes of the Russian people, the first rough form of the future
liberal parliamentary régime, has been formed. Ahead of us is the
Constituent Assembly, which will solve all questions of fundamental
law, and whose composition will be essentially democratic. The
function of the Soviets is at an end, and the time is approaching
when they must retire, with the rest of the revolutionary machinery,
from the stage of a free and victorious people, whose weapons shall
hereafter be the peaceful ones of political action.”
The leading article of _Izviestia_ for October 23d was called, “The
Crisis in the Soviet Organisations.” It began by saying that
travellers reported a lessening activity of local Soviets everywhere.
“This is natural,” said the writer. “For the people are becoming
interested in the more permanent legislative organs—the Municipal
Dumas and the Zemstvs….
“In the important centres of Petrograd and Moscow, where the Soviets
were best organised, they did not take in all the democratic
elements…. The majority of the intellectuals did not participate, and
many workers also; some of the workers because they were politically
backward, others because the centre of gravity for them was in their
Unns…. We cannot deny that these organisations are firmly united with
the masses, whose everyday needs are better served by them….
“That the local democratic administrations are being energetically
organised is highly important. The City Dumas are elected by
universal suffrage, and in purely local matters have more authority
than the Soviets. Not a single democrat will see anything wrong in
“… Elections to the Municipalities are being conduct in a better and
more democratic way than the elections to the Soviets… All classes
are represented in the Municipalities…. And as soon as the local
Self-Governments begin to organise life in the Municipalities, the
rôle of the local Soviets naturally ends….
“… There are two factors in the falling off of interest in the
Soviets. The first we may attribute to the lowering of political
interest in the masses; the second, to the growing effort of
provincial and local governing bodies to organise the building of new
Russia…. The more the tendency lies in this latter direction, the
sooner disappears the significance of the Soviets….
“We ourselves are being called the ‘undertakers’ of our own
organisation. In reality, we ourselves are the hardest workers in
constructing the new Russia….
“When autocracy and the whole bureaucratic règimeell, we set up the
Soviets as a barracks in which all the democracy cod find temporary
shelter. Now, instead of barracks, we are building the permanent
edifice of a new system, and naturally the people will gradually
leave the barracks for more comfortable quarters.”
TROTZKY’S SPEECH AT THE COUNCIL OF THE RUSSIN REPUBLIC
“The purpose of the Democratic Conference, which was called by the
_Tsay-ee-kah,_ was to do away with the irresponsible personal
government which produced Kornilov, and to establish a responsible
government which would be capable of finishing the war, and ensure
the calling of the Constituent Assembly at the given time. In the
meanwhile behind the back of the Democratic Conference, by trickery,
by deals between Citizen Kerensky, the Cadets, and the leaders of the
Menshevik and Socialist Revolutionary parties, we received the
opposite result from the officially announced purpose. A power was
created around which and in which we have open and secret Kornilovs
playing leading parts. The irresponsibility of the Government is
offically proclaimed, when it is announced that the Council of the
Russian Republic is to be a _consultative_ and not _legislative_
body. In the eighth month of the Revolution, the irresponsible
Government creates a cover for itself in this new edition of
“The propertied classes have entered this Provision Council in a
proportion which clearly shows, from elections all over the country,
that many of them have no right here whatever. In spite of that the
Cadet party, which until yesterday wanted the Provisional Government
to be responsible to the State Duma—this same Cadet party secured the
independence Assembly the propertied classes will no doubt have as
favourable position than they have in this Council, and they will not
be able to be irresponsible to the Constituent Assembly.
“If the propertied classes were really getting ready for the
Constituent Assembly six weeks from now, there could be no reason for
establishing the irresponsibility of the Government at this time. The
whole truth is that the bourgeoisie, which directs the policies of
the Provisional Government, has for its aim to break the Constituent
Assembly. At present this is the main purpose of the propertied
classes, which control our entire national policy—external and
internal. In the industrial, agrarian and supply departments the
politics of the propertied classes, acting with the Government,
increases the natural disorganisation caused by the war. The
propertied classes, which are provoking a peasants’ revolt! The
propertied classes, which are provoking civil war, and openly hold
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