Infomotions, Inc.From October to Brest-Litovsk / Trotzky, Leon Davidovich, 1879-1940



Author: Trotzky, Leon Davidovich, 1879-1940
Title: From October to Brest-Litovsk
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Title: From October to Brest-Litovsk

Author: Leon Trotzky

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From October to Brest-Litovsk

By Leon Trotzky

Authorized Translation from the Russian

1919


TRANSLATOR'S NOTES:

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

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

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



THE MIDDLE-CLASS INTELLECTUALS IN THE REVOLUTION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



THE CAMPAIGN AGAINST THE BOLSHEVIKI

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

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

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

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

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



THE DRIVE OF JUNE 18TH

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

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

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

*       *       *       *       *

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

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

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

*       *       *       *       *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



THE JULY DAYS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



THE EVENTS FOLLOWING THE JULY DAYS

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

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

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

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

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

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



THE CONFLICT WITH THE SOVIETS

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

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

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

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

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

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



THE DEMOCRATIC CONFERENCE

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

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

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

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

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

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



INEVITABILITY OF THE STRUGGLE FOR POWER

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

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

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

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

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



THE CONFLICT REGARDING THE PETROGRAD GARRISON

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

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

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

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

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



THE DEMOCRATIC SOVIET AND "PRE-PARLIAMENT"

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

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

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



THE S. R.'S AND MENSHEVIKS

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Military Revolutionary Committee's first act was to appoint
commissioners to all parts of the Petrograd garrison and all the most
important institutions of the capital and environs. From various
quarters we were receiving communications that the government, or more
correctly, the government parties, were actively organizing and arming
their forces. From various arms-depots-governmental and private-rifles,
revolvers, machine guns and cartridges were being brought forth for
arming cadets, students and bourgeois youths in general. It was
necessary to take immediate preventive measures. Commissioners were
appointed to all arms-depots and stores. Almost without opposition they
became masters of the situation. To be sure, the commandants and
proprietors of the depots tried not to recognize them, but a mere
application to the soldiers' committee or the employees of each
institution sufficed to cause the immediate breakdown of the opposition.
After that, arms were issued only on order of our Commissioners.

Even prior to that, regiments of the Petrograd garrison had their
commissioners, but these had been appointed by the Central Executive
Committee. Above, we said that after the June Congress of Soviets, and
particularly after the June 18th demonstration which revealed the ever
growing power of the Bolsheviks, the fusionist parties had almost
entirely deprived the Petrograd Soviet of any practical influence on the
course of events in the revolutionary capital. The leadership of the
Petrograd garrison was concentrated in the hands of the Central
Executive Committee. Now the task everywhere was to put in the Petrograd
Soviet's Commissioners. This was achieved with the most energetic
cooperation of the soldier masses. Meetings, addressed by speakers of
various parties, had the result, invariably, that regiment after
regiment declared it would recognize only the Petrograd Soviet's
Commissioners and would not budge a step without its decision.

An important role in appointing these Commissioners was played by the
Bolsheviks' military organization. Before the July days it had developed
a widespread agitational activity. On July 5th, a battalion of cyclists,
brought by Kerensky to Petrograd, battered down the isolated Kshessinsky
mansion where our party's military organization was quartered. The
majority of leaders, and many privates among the members were arrested,
the publications were stopped, the printing shop was wrecked. Only by
degrees did the organization begin to repair its machinery afresh,
conspiratively this time. Numerically it comprised in its ranks but a
very insignificant part of the Petrograd garrison, a few hundred men all
told. But there were among them many soldiers and young officers,
chiefly ensigns, resolute, and with heart and soul devoted to the
Revolution, who had passed through Kerensky's prisons in July and
August. All of them had placed themselves at the Military Revolutionary
Committee's disposal and were being assigned to the most responsible
fighting posts.

However, it would not be superfluous to remark that precisely the
members of our party's military organization assumed in October an
attitude of extraordinary caution and even some skepticism toward the
idea of an immediate insurrection. The closed character of the
organization and its officially military character involuntarily
inclined its leaders to underestimate the purely technical and
organizational resources of the uprising, and from this point of view we
were undoubtedly weak. Our strength lay in the revolutionary enthusiasm
of the masses and their readiness to fight under our banner.

Parallel with the organizing activity a stormy agitation was being
carried on. This was the period of incessant meetings at works, in the
"Modern" and "Chinizelli" circuses, at clubs, in barracks. The
atmosphere at all the meetings was charged with electricity. Each
mention of the insurrection was greeted with a storm of plaudits and
shouts of delight. The bourgeois press merely increased the state of
universal panic. An order issued over my signature to the Syestroyetsk
munitions factory to issue five thousand rifles to the Red Guard evoked
an indescribable panic in bourgeois circles. "The general massacre" in
course of preparation was talked and written about everywhere. Of
course, this did not in the least prevent the workingmen of the
Syestroyetsk munitions factory from handing the arms over to the Red
Guards. The more frantically the bourgeois press slandered and baited
us, the more ardently the masses responded to our call. It was growing
clearer and clearer for both sides that the crisis must break within the
next few days. The press of the S. R.'s and Mensheviks was sounding an
alarm. "The Revolution is in the greatest danger. A repetition of the
July days is being prepared--but on a much wider basis and therefore
still more destructive in its consequences." In his Novaya Zhizn,
Gorki daily prophesied the approaching wreck of all civilization. In
general, the Socialistic veneer of the bourgeois intellectuals was
wearing off at the approach of the stern domination of the workers'
dictatorship. But, on the other hand, the soldiers of even the most
backward regiments hailed with delight the Military Revolutionary
Committee's commissioners. Delegates came to us from Cossack units and
from the Socialist minority of military cadets. They promised at least
to assure the neutrality of their units in case of open conflict.
Manifestly Kerensky's government was losing its foundations.

The District Staff began negotiations with us and proposed a compromise.
In order to size up the enemy's full resistance, we entered into
pourparlers. But the Staff was nervous; now they exhorted, then
threatened us, they even declared our commissioners to be without power,
which, however, did not in the least affect their work. In accord with
the Staff, the Central Executive Committee appointed Captain of Staff
Malefski to be Chief Commissioner for the Petrograd Military District
and magnanimously consented to recognize our commissioners, on condition
of their being subordinate to the Chief Commissioner. The proposal was
rejected and the negotiations broken off. Prominent Mensheviks and S.
R.'s came to us as intermediaries, exhorted, threatened and foretold our
doom and the doom of the Revolution.



THE "PETROGRAD SOVIET DAY"

At this period the Smolny building was already completely in the hands
of the Petrograd Soviet and of our party. The Mensheviks and the S. R.'s
transferred their political activity to the Maryiinsky Palace, where the
infant Pre-Parliament was already expiring. In the Pre-Parliament
Kerensky delivered a great speech, in which, stormily applauded by the
bourgeois wing, he endeavored to conceal his impotence behind clamorous
threats. The Staff made its last attempt at opposition. To all units of
the garrison it sent out invitations to appoint two delegates to
conferences concerning the removal of troops from the capital. The first
conference was called for October 22nd, at 11 P. M. From the regiments
we immediately received information about it. By telephone we issued a
call for a garrison conference at 11 A. M. Withal, a part of the
delegates did get to the Staff quarters, only to declare that without
the Petrograd Soviet's decision they would not move anywhere. Almost
unanimously the Garrison Conference confirmed its allegiance to the
Military Revolutionary Committee. Objections came only from official
representatives of the former Soviet parties, but they found no response
whatever among the regimental delegates. The Staff's attempt brought out
only more strikingly that we were standing on firm ground. In the front
rank there was the Volhynian Regiment, the very one which on July 4th,
with its band playing, had invaded the Tauri'da Palace, in order to put
down the Bolsheviks.

As already mentioned earlier, the Central Executive Committee had charge
of the Petrograd Soviet's treasury and its publications. An attempt to
obtain even a single one of these publications brought no results.
Beginning with the end of September, we initiated a series of measures
toward creating an independent newspaper of the Petrograd Soviet. But
all printing establishments were occupied and their owners boycotted us
with the assistance of the Central Executive Committee. It was decided
to arrange for a "Petrograd Soviet Day," for the purpose of developing a
widespread agitation and collecting pecuniary resources for establishing
a newspaper. About a fortnight before, this day was set for October
22nd, and consequently it coincided with the moment of the open outburst
of the insurrection.

With complete assurance, the hostile press announced that on October
22nd an armed insurrection of the Bolsheviks would occur in the streets
of Petrograd. That the insurrection would occur, nobody had any doubt.
They only tried to determine exactly when; they guessed, they
prophesied, striving in this way to force a denial or confession on our
part. But the Soviet calmly and confidently marched forward, making no
answer to the howl of bourgeois public opinion. October 22nd became the
reviewing day for the forces of the proletarian army. It went off
magnificently in every respect. In spite of the warnings coming from the
Right that blood would flow in torrents in the streets of Petrograd, the
masses of the populace were pouring in floods to the Petrograd Soviet
meetings. All our oratorical forces were mobilized. All public places
were filled. Meetings were held unceasingly for hours at a stretch. They
were addressed by speakers of our party, by delegates arriving for the
Soviet Congress, by representatives from the front, by left S.R.'s and
by Anarchists. Public buildings were flooded by waves of working-men,
soldiers and sailors. There had not been many gatherings like that even
in the time of the Revolution. Up rose a considerable mass of the petty
townfolk, less frightened than aroused by the shouts, warnings and
baiting of the bourgeois press. Waves of people by tens of thousands
dashed against the People's House building, rolled through the
corridors, filled the halls. On the iron columns huge garlands of human
heads, feet and hands were hanging like bunches of grapes. The air was
surcharged with the electric tension that heralds the most critical
moments of revolution. "Down with Kerensky's government! Down with the
war! All power to the Soviets!" Not one from the ranks of the previous
Soviet parties ventured to appear before those colossal throngs with a
word of reply. The Petrograd Soviet held undivided sway. In reality the
campaign had already been won. It only remained to deal the last
military blow to this spectral authority.

The most cautious in our midst were reporting that there still remained
units that were not with us: the cossacks, the cavalry regiment, the
Semyonofski regiment, the cyclists. Commissioners and agitators were
assigned to these units. Their reports sounded perfectly satisfactory:
the red-hot atmosphere was infecting one and all, and the most
conservative elements of the army were losing the strength to withstand
the general tendency of the Petrograd garrison. In the Semyonofski
regiment, which was considered the bulwark of Kerensky's government, I
was present at a meeting which took place in the open air. The most
prominent speakers of the right wing addressed it. They clung to the
conservative guard regiments as to the last support of the coalition
power. Nothing would avail. By an overwhelming majority of votes, the
regiment expressed itself for us and did not even give the ex-ministers
a chance to finish their speeches. The groups which still opposed the
Soviet watch-words were made up mainly of officers, volunteers and
generally of bourgeois intellectuals and semi-intellectuals. The masses
of peasants and workmen were with us one and all. The demarcation ran as
a distinct social line.

The Fortress of Peter and Paul is the central military base of
Petrograd. As commandant thereof we appointed a young ensign. He proved
the best man for the post and within a few hours he became master of the
situation. The lawful authorities withdrew, biding their time. The
element regarded as unreliable for us were the cyclists, who in July had
smashed our party's military organization in the Kshessinsky mansion and
taken possession of the mansion itself. On the 23rd, I went to the
Fortress about 2 P. M. Within the courtyard a meeting was being held.
The speakers of the right wing were cautious and evasive in the extreme,
painstakingly avoiding the question of Kerensky, whose name inevitably
aroused shouts of protest and indignation even among the soldiers. We
were listened to, and our advice vas followed. About four o'clock, the
cyclists assembled nearby, in the "Modern" Circus, for a battalion
meeting. Among the speakers appearing there was Quartermaster-General
Paradyelof. He spoke with extreme caution. The days had been left far
behind, when official and semi-official speakers referred to the party
of the workers merely as to a gang of traitors and hired agents of the
German Kaiser.

The Lieutenant-Commander of the Staff accosted me with: "We really ought
to be able to come to some agreement." But it was already too late. The
whole battalion, with only thirty dissenting votes, had voted for
handing over all power to the Soviets.



THE BEGINNING OF THE REVOLUTION

The government of Kerensky was restlessly looking for refuge, now one
way, now another. Two new cyclist battalions, and the Zenith Battery
were called back from the front, and an attempt was made to call back
some companies of cavalry.... The cyclists telegraphed while on the road
to the Petrograd Soviet: "We are led to Petrograd without knowing the
reasons. Request explanations." We ordered them to stop and send a
delegation to Petrograd. Their representatives arrived and declared at a
meeting of the Soviet that the battalion was entirely with us. This was
greeted by enthusiastic cheers. The battalion received orders to enter
the city immediately.

The number of delegates from the front was increasing every day. They
came to get information about the situation. They gathered our
literature and went to bring the message to the front that the Petrograd
Soviet was conducting a struggle for the power of the workers, soldiers
and peasants. "The men in the trenches will support you," they told us.
All the old army committees which had not been reelected for the last
four or five months, sent threatening telegrams to us, which, however,
made no impression. We knew that these committees were no less out of
touch with the rank and file of the soldiers than the Central Executive
Committee with the local Soviets.

The Military Revolutionary Committee appointed commissaries to all
railroad depots. These commissaries kept a watchful eye upon all the
arriving and departing trains and especially upon the movements of
troops. Continuous telephone and motor car communication was established
with the neighboring cities and their garrisons. The Soviets of all the
communities near Petrograd were charged with the duty of vigilantly
preventing any counter-revolutionary troops, or, rather, troops misled
by the government, from entering the capital. The railroad officials of
lower rank and the workmen recognized our commissaries immediately.
Difficulties arose on the 24th at the telephone station. They stopped
connecting us. The cadets took possession of the station and under their
protection the telephone operators began to oppose the Soviet. This was
the first appearance of the future sabotage. The Military Revolutionary
Committee sent a detachment to the telephone station and placed two
small cannons there. In this way the seizing of all departments of the
government and instruments of administration was started. The sailors
and Red Guards occupied the telegraph station, the post office and other
institutions. Measures were taken to take possession of the state bank.
The center of the government, the Institute of Smolny, was turned into a
fortress. There were in the garret, as a heritage of the old Central
Executive Committee, a score of machine guns, but they were in poor
condition and had been entirely neglected by the caretakers. We ordered
an additional machine gun company to the Smolny Institute. Early in the
morning the sailors rolled the machine gun with a deafening rumble over
the cement floors of the long and half-dark corridors of the building.
Out of the doors the frightened faces of the few S. R.'s and Mensheviks
were looking and wondering.

The Soviet held daily meetings in the Smolny and so did the Garrison
Council.

On the third floor of the Smolny, in a small corner room, the Military
Revolutionary Committee was in continuous session. There was centered
all the information about the movements of the troops, the spirit of the
soldiers and workers, the agitation in the barracks, the undertakings of
the pogrom instigators, the councils of the bourgeois politicians, the
life at the Winter Palace, the plans of the former Soviet parties.
Informers came from all sides. There came workers, officers, porters,
Socialist cadets, servants, ladies. Many brought pure nonsense. Others
gave serious and valuable information. The decisive moment drew near. It
was apparent that there was no going back.

On the evening of the 24th of October, Kerensky appeared in the
Preliminary Parliament and demanded approval of repressive measures
against the Bolsheviki. The Preliminary Parliament, however, was in a
sad state of indetermination and complete disintegration. The
Constitutional Democrats tried to persuade the right S. R.'s to adopt a
vote of confidence. The right S. R.'s exercised pressure upon the
center. The center hesitated. The "left" wing conducted a policy of
parliamentary opposition. After many conferences, debates, hesitations,
the resolution of the "left" wing was adopted. This resolution condemned
the rebellious movement of the Soviet, but the responsibilities for the
movement were laid at the door of the anti-democratic policy of the
government. The mail brought scores of letters daily informing us of
death sentences pronounced against us, of infernal machines, of the
expected blowing up of the Smolny, etc. The bourgeois press howled
wildly, moved by hatred and terror. Gorki, who had forgotten all about
"The Song of the Falcon," continued to prophesy in his Novaya Zhizn
the approach of the end of the world.

The members of the Military Revolutionary Committee did not leave the
Smolny during the entire week. They slept on sofas and only at odd
intervals, wakened by couriers, scouts, cyclists, telegraph messengers
and telephone calls. The night of the 24th-25th was the most restless.
We received a telephone communication from Pavlovsky that the government
had called artillery from the Peterhof School of Ensigns. At the Winter
Palace, Kerensky gathered the cadets and officers. We gave out orders
over the telephone to place on all the roads leading to Petrograd
reliable military defence and to send agitators to meet the military
detachment called by the government. In case persuasion would not help
they were instructed to use armed force. All the negotiations were held
over the telephone in the open, and therefore were accessible to the
agents of the government.

The commissaries informed us over the telephone that on all the roads
leading to Petrograd our friends were on the alert. A cadet detachment
from Oranienbaum nevertheless succeeded in getting by our military
defence during the night and over the telephone we followed their
further movements. The outer guard of the Smolny was strengthened by
another company. Communications with all the detachments of the garrison
went on continuously.

The companies on guard in all the regiments were awake. The delegates of
every detachment were day and night at the disposal of the Military
Revolutionary Committee. An order was given to suppress the agitation of
the Black Hundred without reserve, and at the first attempts at pogroms
on the streets, arms should be used without mercy.

During this decisive night all the most important points of the city
passed into our hands--almost without any opposition, without struggle
and without bloodshed. The State Bank was guarded by a government
detachment and an armored car. The building was surrounded on all sides
by our troops. The armored car was taken by an unexpected attack and the
bank went over into the hands of the Military Revolutionary Committee
without a single shot being fired. There was on the river Neva, behind
the Franco-Russian plant, the cruiser Aurora, which was under repair.
Its crew consisted entirely of sailors devotedly loyal to the
revolution. When Korniloff, at the end of August, threatened Petrograd
the sailors of the Aurora were called by the government to guard the
Winter Palace, and though even then they already hated the government of
Kerensky, they realized that it was their duty to dam the wave of the
counter-revolution, and they took their post without objection. When the
danger passed they were sent back. Now, in the days of the October
uprising, they were too dangerous. The Aurora was ordered by the
Minister of the Navy to weigh anchor and to get out of Petrograd. The
crew informed us immediately of this order. We annulled it and the
cruiser remained where it was, ready at any moment to put all its
military forces and means at the disposal of the Soviets.



THE DECISIVE DAY

At the dawn of the 25th, a man and woman, employed in the party's
printing office, came to Smolny and informed us that the government had
closed the official journal of our body and the "New Gazette" of the
Petrograd Soviet. The printing office was sealed by some agent of the
government. The Military Revolutionary Committee immediately recalled
the orders and took both publications under its protection, enjoining
upon the "gallant Wolinsky Regiment the great honor of securing the free
Socialist press against counter-revolutionary attempts." The printing,
after that, went on without interruption and both publications appeared
on time.

The government was still in session at the Winter Palace, but it was no
more than its own shadow. As a political power it no longer existed. On
the 25th of October the Winter Palace was gradually surrounded by our
troops from all sides. At one o'clock in the afternoon I declared at the
session of the Petrograd Soviet, in the name of the Military
Revolutionary Committee, that the government of Kerensky had ceased to
exist and that forthwith, and until the All-Russian Convention of the
Soviets might decide otherwise, the power was to pass into the hands of
the Military Revolutionary Committee.

A few days earlier Lenin left Finland and was hiding in the outskirts of
the city, in the workingmen's quarters. On the evening of the 25th, he
came secretly to the Smolny. According to newspaper information, it
seemed to him that the issue would be a temporary compromise between
ourselves and the Kerensky Government. The bourgeois press had so often
clamored about the approach of the revolution, about the demonstration
of armed soldiers on the streets, about pillaging and unavoidable
streams of blood, that now this press failed to notice the revolution
which was really taking place, and accepted the negotiations of the
general staff with us at their face value. Meanwhile, without any chaos,
without street fights, without firing or bloodshed, the government
institutions were occupied one after another by severe and disciplined
detachments of soldiers, sailors and Red Guards, in accordance with the
exact telephone orders given from the small room on the third floor of
the Smolny Institute. In the evening a preliminary session of the Second
All-Russian Convention of Soviets was held. In the name of the Central
Executive Committee, Dan presented a report. He presented an indictment
of the rebellious usurpers and insurgents and attempted to frighten the
Convention with a vision of the inevitable failure of the insurrection,
which, he claimed, would be suppressed by the forces from the front. His
address sounded unconvincing and out of place within the walls of a hall
where the overwhelming majority of the delegates were enthusiastically
observing the victorious advance of the Petrograd revolution.

By this time the Winter Palace was surrounded, but it was not yet taken.
From time to time there were shots from the windows upon the besiegers,
who were closing in slowly and cautiously. From the Petropavlovsk
Fortress, two or three shells from cannons were directed at the Palace.
Their thunder was heard at the Smolny. Martof spoke with helpless
indignation from the platform of the convention, about civil war and
especially about the siege of the Winter Palace, where among the
ministers there were--oh, horror!--members of the Mensheviki party. The
sailors who came to bring information from the battle-place around the
Palace took the floor against him. They reminded the accusers of the
offensive of the 18th of June, of the treacherous policy of the old
government, of the re-establishment of the death penalty for soldiers,
of the annihilation of the revolutionary organization, and wound up by
vowing to win or die. They also brought word of the first victims from
our ranks in the battle before the Palace.

All arose as if at an unseen signal and, with a unanimity which could be
created only by a high moral inspiration, sang the Funeral March. He who
lived through that moment will never forget it.

The session was interrupted. It was impossible to deliberate
theoretically the question of the means of reconstructing the government
among the echoes of the fighting and shooting under the walls of the
Winter Palace, where the fate of that very government was being decided
in a practical way. The taking of the Palace, however, was rather slow,
and this caused hesitation among the less determined elements of the
convention. The orators of the right wing prophesied our near
destruction. All anxiously awaited news from the arena of the Palace.
Presently Antonoff appeared, who directed the operations against the
Palace. A death-like silence fell upon the hall. The Winter Palace was
taken; Kerensky had fled; other ministers had been arrested and
consigned to the fortress of Petropavlovsk. The first chapter of the
October revolution was over.

The Right Revolutionists and the Mensheviki, altogether sixty men, that
is, about one-tenth of the convention, left the session in protest. As
there was nothing else left to' them, they "placed the entire
responsibility" for the coming events upon the Bolsheviki and Left S.
R.'s. The latter were passing through moments of indecision. The past
tied them strongly to the party of Chernoff. The right wing of this
party swerved to the middle and petty bourgeois elements, to the
intellectuals of the middle classes, to the well-to-do elements of the
villages; and on all decisive questions went hand in hand with the
liberal bourgeoisie against us. The more revolutionary elements of the
party, reflecting the radicalism of the social demands of the poorest
masses of the peasantry, gravitated to the proletariat and their party.
They feared, however, to sever the umbilical cord which linked them to
their old party. When we left the Preliminary Parliament, they refused
to follow us and warned us against "adventurers," but the insurrection
put before them the dilemma of taking sides for or against the Soviets.
Not without hesitation, they assembled on our side of the barricades.



THE FORMATION OF THE SOVIET OF THE PEOPLE'S COMMISSARIES

The victory in Petrograd was complete. The power went over entirely to
the Military Revolutionary Committee. We issued our first decree,
abolishing the death penalty and ordering reelections in the army
committees, etc. But here we discovered that we were cut off from the
provinces. The higher authorities of the railroads, post office and
telegraph were against us. The army committees, the municipalities, the
zemstvos continued to bombard the Smolny with threatening telegrams in
which they declared outright war upon us and promised to sweep the
insurgents out within a short time. Our telegrams, decrees and
explanations did not reach the provinces, for the Petrograd Telegraph
Agency refused to serve us. In this atmosphere, created by the isolation
of the capital from the rest of the country, alarming and monstrous
rumors easily sprang up and gained popularity.

When finally convinced that the Soviet had really taken over the powers
of the government, that the old government was arrested, that the
streets of Petrograd were dominated by armed workers, the bourgeois
press, as well as the press which was for effecting a compromise,
started a campaign of incomparable madness indeed; there was not a lie
or libel which was not mobilized against the Military Revolutionary
Committee, its leaders or its commissaries.

On the 26th there was a session of the Petrograd Soviet, which was
attended by delegates from the All-Russian Council, members of the
Garrison Conference, and numerous members of various parties. Here, for
the first time in nearly six months, spoke Lenin and Zinoviev, who were
given a stormy ovation. The jubilation over the recent victory was
marred somewhat by apprehensions as to how the country would take to the
new revolt and as to the Soviets' ability to retain control.

In the evening an executive session of the Council of Soviets was held.
Lenin introduced two decrees: on peace and on the land question. After
brief discussion, both decrees were adopted unanimously. It was at this
session, too, that a new central authority was created, to be known as
the Council of People's Commissaries.

The Central Committee of our party tried to win the approval of the Left
S. R.'s, who were invited to participate in establishing the Soviet
government. They hesitated, on the ground that, in their view, this
government should bear a coalition character within the Soviet parties.
But the Mensheviki and the Right S. R.'s broke entirely with the Council
of Soviets, deeming a coalition with anti-Soviet parties necessary.
There was nothing left for us to do but to let the party of Left S. R.'s
persuade their neighbors to the right to return to the revolutionary
camp; and while they were engaged in this hopeless task, we thought it
our duty to take the responsibility for the government entirely upon our
party. The list of Peoples' Commissaries was composed exclusively of
Bolsheviki.

There was undoubtedly some political danger in such a course. The change
proved too precipitate. (One need but remember that the leaders of this
party were only yesterday still under indictment under Statute Law No.
108--that is, accused of high treason). But there was no other
alternative. The other Soviet groups hesitated and evaded the issue,
preferring to adopt a waiting policy. Finally we became convinced that
only our party could set up a revolutionary government.



THE FIRST DAYS OF THE NEW REGIME

The decrees on land and peace, approved by the Council, were printed in
huge quantities and--through delegates from the front, peasant
pedestrians arriving from the villages, and agitators sent by us to the
trenches in the provinces--were strewn broadcast all over the country.
Simultaneously the work of organizing and arming the Red Guards was
carried on. Together with the old garrison and the sailors, the Red
Guard was doing hard patrol duty. The Council of People's Commissaries
got control of one government department after another, though
everywhere encountering the passive resistance of the higher and middle
grade officials. The former Soviet parties tried their utmost to find
support in this class and organize a sabotage of the new government. Our
enemies felt certain that the whole affair was a mere episode, that in a
day or two--at most a week--the Soviet Government would be overthrown.
The first foreign councillors and members of the embassies, impelled
quite as much by curiosity as by necessary business on hand, appeared at
the Smolny Institute. Newspaper correspondents hurried thither with
their notebooks and cameras. Everyone hastened to catch a glimpse of the
new government, being sure that in a day or two it would be too late.

Perfect order reigned in the city. The sailors, soldiers and the Red
Guards bore themselves in these first days with excellent discipline and
nobly supported the regime of stern revolutionary order.

In the enemy's camp fear arose lest the "episode" should become too
protracted, and so the first force for attacking the new government was
being hastily organized. In this, the initiative was taken by the
Social-Revolutionists and the Mensheviki. In the preceding period they
would not, and dared not, take all the power into their own hands. In
keeping with their provisional political position, they contented
themselves with serving in the coalition government in the capacity of
assistants, critics, and benevolent accusers and defenders of the
bourgeoisie. During all elections they conscientiously anathematized the
liberal bourgeoisie, while in the government they just as regularly
combined with it. In the first six months of the revolution they
managed, as a result of this policy, to lose absolutely all the
confidence of the populace and army; and now, the October revolt was
dashing them from the helm of the state. And yet, only yesterday they
considered themselves the masters of the situation. The Bolshevik
leaders whom they persecuted were in hiding, as under Czarism. To-day
the Bolsheviki were in power, while yesterday's coalitionist ministers
and their co-workers found themselves cast aside and suddenly deprived
of every bit of influence upon the further course of events. They would
not and could not believe that this sudden revolt marked the beginning
of a new era. They preferred to consider it as merely accidental, the
result of some misunderstanding, which could be removed by a few
energetic speeches and accusational newspaper articles. But every hour
they encountered more and more insurmountable obstacles. This is what
caused their blind, truly furious hatred.

The bourgeois politicians did not venture, to be sure, to get too close
to danger. They pushed to the front the Social-Revolutionists and
Mensheviki, who, in the attack upon us acquired all that energy which
they had lacked during the period when they were a semi-governing power.
Their organs circulated the most amazing rumors and lies. In their name
it was that the proclamations containing open appeals to crush the new
government were issued. It was they, too, who organized the government
officials for sabotage and the cadets for military resistance.

On the 27th and 28th we continued to receive persistent threats by
telegraph from army committees, town dumas, vikzhel zemstvos, and
organizations (which had charge of the management of the Railroad
Union). On the Nevsky Prospect, the principal thoroughfare of the
capital's bourgeoisie, things were becoming more and more lively. The
bourgeois youth was emerging from its stupor and, urged on by the press,
was developing a wider and wider agitation against the Soviet
government. With the help of the bourgeois crowd, the cadets were
disarming individual Red Guardsmen. On the side-streets Red Guardsmen
and sailors were being shot down. A group of cadets seized the telephone
station. Attempts were made by the same side to seize the telegraph
office. Finally, we learned that three armored cars had fallen into the
hands of some inimical military organization. The bourgeois elements
were clearly raising their heads. The newspapers heralded the fact that
we had but a few hours more to live. Our friends intercepted a few
secret orders which made it clear, however, that a militant organization
had been formed to fight the Petrograd Soviet. The leading place in this
organization was taken by the so-called Committee for the Defence of the
Revolution, organized by the local Duma and the Central Executive
Committee of the former regime. Here and there Right
Social-Revolutionists and Mensheviki held sway. At the disposal of this
committee were the cadets, students, and many counter-revolutionary army
officers, who sought, from under cover of the coalitions, to deal the
Soviets a mortal blow.



THE CADET UPRISING OF OCTOBER 29TH

The stronghold of the counter-revolutionary organization was the cadet
schools and the Engineering Castle, where considerable arms and
ammunition were stored, and from where attacks were made upon the
revolutionary government's headquarters. Detachments of Red Guards and
sailors had surrounded the cadet schools and were sending in messengers
demanding the surrender of all arms. Some scattering shots came in
reply. The besiegers were trampled upon. Crowds of people gathered
around them, and not infrequently stray shots fired from the windows
would wound passers-by.

The skirmishes were assuming an indefinitely prolonged character, and
this threatened the revolutionary detachments with demoralization. It
was necessary, therefore, to adopt the most determined measures. The
task of disarming the cadets was assigned to the commandant of
Petropavlovsk fortress, Ensign B. He closely surrounded the cadet
schools, brought up some armored cars and artillery, and gave the cadets
ten minutes' time to surrender. Renewed firing from the windows was the
answer at first. At the expiration of the ten minutes, B. ordered an
artillery charge. The very first shots made yawning breaches in the
walls of the schoolhouse. The cadets surrendered, though many of them
tried to save themselves by flight, firing as they fled.

Considerable rancor was created, such as always accompanies civil war.
The sailors undoubtedly committed many outrages upon individual cadets.
The bourgeois press later accused the sailors and the Soviet government
of inhumanity and brutality. It never mentioned, however, the fact that
the revolt of October 25th-26th had been brought about with hardly any
firing or sacrifice, and that only the counter-revolutionary conspiracy
which was organized by the bourgeoisie and which threw the young
generation into the flame of civil war against the workers, soldiers and
sailors, led to unavoidable severities and sacrifices.

The 29th of October marked a decided change in the mood of the
inhabitants of Petrograd. Events took on a more tragic character. At the
same time, our enemies realized that the situation was far more serious
than they thought at first and that the Soviet had not the slightest
intention of relinquishing the power it had won just to oblige the
junkers and the capitalistic newspapers.

The work of clearing Petrograd of counter-revolutionary centers was
carried on intensively. The cadets were almost all disarmed, the
participators in the insurrection were arrested and either imprisoned in
the Petropavlovsk fortress or deported to Kronstadt. All publications
which openly preached revolt against Soviet authority were promptly
suppressed. Orders were issued for the arrest of such of the leaders of
the former Soviet parties whose names figured on the intercepted
counter-revolutionary edicts. All military resistance in the capital was
crushed absolutely.

Next came a long and exhausting struggle against the sabotage of the
bureaucrats, technical workers, clerks, etc. These elements, which by
their earning capacity belong largely to the downtrodden class of
society, align themselves with the bourgeois class by the conditions of
their life and by their general psychology. They had sincerely and
faithfully served the government and its institutions when it was headed
by Czarism. They continued to serve the government when the authority
passed over into the hands of the bourgeois imperialists. They were
inherited with all their knowledge and technical skill, by the coalition
government in the next period of the revolution. But when the revolting
workingmen, soldiers and peasants flung the parties of the exploiting
classes away from the rudder of State and tried to take the management
of affairs into their own hands, then the bureaucrats and clerks flew
into a passion and absolutely refused to support the new government in
any way. More and more extensive became this sabotage, which was
organized mostly by Social-Revolutionists and Mensheviki, and which was
supported by funds furnished by the banks and the Allied Embassies.



KERENSKY'S ADVANCE ON PETROGRAD

The stronger the Soviet government became in Petrograd, the more the
bourgeois groups placed their hopes on military aid from without. The
Petrograd Telegraph Agency, the railroad telegraph, and the
radio-telegraph station of Tsarskoye-Selo brought from every side news
of huge forces marching on Petrograd with the object of crushing the
rebels there and establishing order. Kerensky was making flying trips to
the front, and the bourgeois papers reported that he was leading
innumerable forces against the Bolsheviki. We found ourselves cut off
from the rest of the country, as the telegraphers refused to serve us.
But the soldiers, who arrived by tens and hundreds on commissions from
their respective regiments, invariably said to us: "Have no fears of the
front; it is entirely on your side. You need but give the word, and we
will send to your aid--even this very day--a division or a corps." It
was the same in the army as everywhere else; the masses were for us, and
the upper classes against us. In the hands of the latter was the
military-technical machinery. Various parts of the vast army proved to
be isolated one from another. We were isolated from both the army and
the people. Nevertheless, the news of the Soviet government at Petrograd
and its decrees spread throughout the country and roused the local
Soviets to rebel against the old government.

The reports of Kerensky's advance on Petrograd, at the head of some
forces or other, soon became more persistent and assumed more definite
outlines. We were informed from Tsarskoye-Selo that Cossack echelons
were not far from there, while an appeal, signed by Kerensky and General
Krassnov, was being circulated in Petrograd calling upon the whole
garrison to join the government's forces, which were expected any hour
to enter the capital. The cadet insurrection of October 29th was
undoubtedly connected with Kerensky's undertaking, only that it broke
out too soon, owing to determined action on our part. The Tsarskoye-Selo
garrison was ordered to demand of the approaching Cossack regiments
recognition of the Soviet government. In case of refusal, the Cossacks
were to be disarmed. But that garrison proved to be ill-fitted for
military operations. It had no artillery and no leaders, its officers
being unfriendly toward the Soviet government. The Cossacks took
possession of the radio-telegraph station at Tsarskoye-Selo, the most
powerful one in the country, and marched on. The garrisons of Peterhof,
Krasnoye-Selo and Gatchina displayed neither initiative nor resolution.

After the almost bloodless victory at Petrograd, the soldiers
confidently assumed that matters would take a similar course in the
future. All that was necessary, they thought, was to send an agitator to
the Cossacks, who would lay down their arms the moment the object of the
proletarian revolution was explained to them. Korniloff's
counter-revolutionary uprising was put down by means of speeches and
fraternization. By agitation and well-planned seizure of certain
institutions--without a fight--the Kerensky government was overthrown.
The same methods were now being employed by the leaders of the
Tsarskoye-Selo, Krasnoye-Selo and the Gatchina Soviets with General
Krassnov's Cossacks. But this time they did not work. Though without
determination or enthusiasm, the Cossacks did advance. Individual
detachments approached Gatchina and Krasnoye-Selo, engaged the scanty
forces of the local garrisons, and sometimes disarmed them. About the
numerical strength of Kerensky's forces we at first had no idea
whatever. Some said that General Krassnov headed ten thousand men;
others affirmed that he had no more than a thousand; while the
unfriendly newspapers and circulars announced, in letters an inch big,
that two corps were lined up beyond Tsarskoye-Selo.

There was a general want of confidence in the Petrograd garrison. No
sooner had it won a bloodless victory, than it was called upon to march
out against an enemy of unknown numbers and engage in battles of
uncertain outcome. In the Garrison Conference, the discussion centered
about the necessity of sending out more and more agitators and of
issuing appeals to the Cossacks; for to the soldiers it seemed
impossible that the Cossacks would refuse to rise to the point of view
which the Petrograd garrison was defending in its struggle.
Nevertheless, advanced groups of Cossacks approached quite close to
Petrograd, and we anticipated that the principal battle would take place
in the streets of the city.

The greatest resolution was shown by the Red Guards. They demanded arms,
ammunition, and leadership. But everything in the military machine was
disorganized and out of gear, owing partly to disuse and partly to evil
intent. The officers had resigned. Many had fled. The rifles were in one
place and the cartridges in another. Matters were still worse with
artillery. The cannons, gun carriages and the military stores were all
in different places; and all these had to be groped for in the dark. The
various regiments did not have at their disposal either sappers' tools
or field telephones. The Revolutionary General Staff, which tried to
straighten out things from above, encountered insurmountable obstacles,
the greatest of which was the sabotage of the military-technical
employees.

Then we decided to appeal directly to the working class. We stated that
the success of the revolution was most seriously threatened, and that it
was for them--by their energy, initiative, and self-denial--to save and
strengthen the regime of proletarian and peasant government. This
appeal met with tremendous practical success almost immediately.
Thousands of workingmen proceeded toward Kerensky's forces and began
digging trenches. The munition workers manned the cannon, themselves
obtaining ammunition for them from various stores; requisitioned horses;
brought the guns into the necessary positions and adjusted them;
organized a commissary department; procured gasoline, motors,
automobiles; requisitioned provisions and forage; and put the sanitary
trains on a proper footing--created, in short, the entire war machinery,
which we had vainly endeavored to create from above.

When scores of heavy guns reached the lines, the disposition of our
soldiers changed immediately. Under cover of the artillery they were
ready to repulse the Cossacks' attack. In the first lines were the
sailors and Red Guards. A few officers, politically unrelated to us but
sincerely attached to their regiments, accompanied their soldiers to the
lines and directed their operations against Krassnov's Cossacks.



COLLAPSE OF KERENSKY'S ATTEMPT

Meanwhile telegrams spread the report all over the country and abroad
that the Bolshevik "adventure" had been disposed of and that Kerensky
had entered Petrograd and was establishing order with an iron hand. On
the other hand, in Petrograd itself, the bourgeois press, emboldened by
the proximity of Kerensky's troops, wrote about the complete
demoralization of the Petrograd garrison; about an irresistible advance
of the Cossacks, equipped with much artillery; and predicted the
imminent fall of the Smolny Institute. Our chief handicap was, as
already stated, the lack of suitable mechanical accessories and of men
able to direct military operations. Even those officers who had
conscientiously accompanied their soldiers to the lines, declined the
position of Commander-in-Chief.

After long deliberation, we hit upon the following combination: The
Garrison Council selected a committee of five persons, which was
entrusted with the supreme control of all operations against the
counter-revolutionary forces moving on Petrograd. This committee
subsequently reached an understanding with Colonel Muravief, who was in
the opposition party under the Kerensky regime, and who now, on his
own initiative, offered his services to the Soviet government.

On the cold night of October 30th, Muravief and I started by automobile
for the lines. Wagons with provisions, forage, military supplies and
artillery trailed along the road. All this was done by the workingmen of
various factories. Several times our automobile was stopped on the way
by Red Guard patrols who verified our permit. Since the first days of
the October revolution, every automobile in town had been requisitioned,
and no automobile could be ridden through the streets of the city or in
the outskirts of the capital without a permit from the Smolny Institute.
The vigilance of the Red Guards was beyond all praise. They stood on
watch about small camp fires, rifle in hand, hours at a time. The sight
of these young armed workmen by the camp fires in the snow was the best
symbol of the proletarian revolution.

Many guns had been drawn up in position, and there was no lack of
ammunition. The decisive encounter developed on this very day, between
Krasnoye-Selo and Tsarskoye-Selo. After a fierce artillery duel, the
Cossacks, who kept on advancing as long as they met no obstacles,
hastily withdrew. They had been fooled all the time by tales of harsh
and cruel acts committed by the Bolsheviki, who wished, as it were, to
sell Russia to the German Kaiser. They had been assured that almost the
entire garrison at Petrograd was impatiently awaiting them as
deliverers. The first serious resistance completely disorganized their
ranks and sealed the fate of Kerensky's entire undertaking.

The retreat of Krassnov's Cossacks enabled us to get control of the
radio station at Tsarskoye-Selo. We immediately wirelessed the news of
our victory over Kerensky's forces. Our foreign friends informed us
subsequently that the German wireless station refused, on orders from
above, to receive this wireless message.

[Footnote: I cite here the text of this wireless message:

"Selo Pulkovo. General Staff 2:10 P. M. The night of October 30th-31st
will go down in history. Kerensky's attempt to march
counter-revolutionary forces upon the capital of the revolution has
received a decisive check. Kerensky is retreating, we are advancing. The
soldiers, sailors and workingmen of Petrograd have shown that they can
and will, gun in hand, affirm the will and power of proletarian
democracy. The bourgeoisie tried to isolate the army of the revolution
and Kerensky attempted to crush it by Cossackism. Both have been
frustrated.

"The great idea of the reign of a workingmen's and peasants' democracy
united the ranks of the army and hardened its will. The whole country
will now come to understand that the Soviet government is not a passing
phenomenon, but a permanent fact of the supremacy of the workers,
soldiers and peasants. Kerensky's repulse was the repulse of the middle
class, the bourgeoisie and the Kornilovites. Kerensky's repulse means
the affirmation of the people's rights to a free, peaceful life, to
land, food and power. The Pulkovsky division, by their brilliant charge,
is strengthening the cause of the proletarian and peasant revolution.
There can be no return to the past. There is still fighting, obstacles
and sacrifice ahead of us. But the way is open and victory assured.

"Revolutionary Russia and the Soviet Government may well be proud of
their Pulkovsky division, commanded by Colonel Walden. May the names of
the fallen never be forgotten. All honor to the fighters for the
revolution--the soldiers and the officers who stood by the People! Long
live revolutionary and Socialist Russia! In the name of the Council of
People's Commissaries, L. Trotzky, Oct. 31st, 1917."]

The first reaction of the German authorities to the events of October
was thus one of fear--fear lest these events provoke disturbances in
Germany itself. In Austria-Hungary, part of our telegram was accepted
and, so far as we can tell, has been the source of information for all
Europe upon the ill-starred attempt of Kerensky to recover his power and
its miserable failure.

Discontent was rife among Krassnov's Cossacks. They began sending their
scouts into Petrograd and even official delegates to Smolny. There they
had the opportunity to convince themselves that perfect order reigned in
the capital, thanks to the Petrograd garrison, which unanimously
supported the Soviet government. The Cossacks' disorganization became
the more acute as the absurdity of the plan to take Petrograd with some
thousand horsemen dawned upon them--for the supports promised them from
the front never arrived.

Krassnov's detachment withdrew to Gatchinsk, and when we started out
thither the next day, Krassnov's staff were already virtually prisoners
of the Cossacks themselves. Our Gatchinsk garrison was holding all the
most important military positions. The Cossacks, on the other hand,
though not yet disarmed, were absolutely in no position for further
resistance. They wanted but one thing: to be allowed as soon as possible
to return to the Don region or, at least, back to the front.

The Gatchinsk Palace presented a curious sight. At every entrance stood
a special guard, while at the gates were artillery and armored cars.
Sailors, soldiers and Red Guards occupied the royal apartments,
decorated with precious paintings. Scattered upon the tables, made of
expensive wood, lay soldiers' clothes, pipes and empty sardine boxes. In
one of the rooms General Krassnov's staff had established itself. On the
floor lay mattresses, caps and greatcoats.

The representative of the Revolutionary War Committee, who escorted us,
entered the quarters of the General Staff, noisily dropped his
rifle-butt to the floor and resting upon it, announced: "General
Krassnov, you and your staff are prisoners of the Soviet authorities."
Immediately armed Red Guards barred both doors. Kerensky was nowhere to
be seen. He had again fled, as he had done before from the Winter
Palace. As to the circumstances attending this flight, General Krassnov
made a written statement on November 1st. I cite here in full this
curious document.

*       *       *       *       *

November 1st, 1917, 19 o'clock.

About 15 o'clock today, I was summoned by the Supreme
Commander-in-Chief, Kerensky. He was very agitated and nervous.

"General," said he, "you have betrayed me--your Cossacks here positively
say that they will arrest me and turn me over to the sailors."

"Yes," I answered, "there is talk about it, and I know that you have no
sympathizers here at all."

"But are the officers, too, of the same mind?"

"Yes, the officers are especially dissatisfied with you."

"Then, what am I to do? I'll have to commit suicide."

"If you are an honest man, you will proceed immediately to Petrograd
under a flag of truce and report to the Revolutionary Committee, where
you will talk things over, as the head of the Government."

"Yes, I'll do that, General!"

"I will furnish a guard for you and will ask that a sailor accompany
you."

"No, anyone but a sailor. Don't you know that Dybenko is here?"

"No, I don't know who Dybenko is."

"He is an enemy of mine."

"Well, that can't be helped. When one plays for great stakes, he must be
prepared to lose all."

"All right. Only I shall go at night."

"Why? That would be flight. Go calmly and openly, so that everyone can
see that you are fleeing."

"Well, all right. Only you must provide for me a dependable convoy."

"All right."

I went and called out a Cossack from the 10th Don Cossack regiment, a
certain Rysskov, and ordered him to appoint eight Cossacks to guard the
Supreme Commander-in-Chief.

Half an hour later, the Cossacks came and reported that Kerensky had
gone already--that he had fled. I gave an alarm and ordered a search for
him. I believe that he cannot have escaped from Gatchinsk and must now
be in hiding here somewhere.

Commanding the 3rd Corps,

Major-General Krassnov.

*       *       *       *       *

Thus ended this undertaking.

Our opponents still would not yield, however, and did not admit that the
question of government power was settled. They continued to base their
hopes on the front. Many leaders of the former Soviet parties--Chernoff,
Tseretelli, Avksentiev, Gotz and others--went to the front, entered into
negotiations with the old army committees, and, according to newspaper
reports, tried even in the camp, to form a new ministry. All this came
to naught. The old army committees had lost all their significance, and
intensive work was going on at the front in connection with the
conferences and councils called for the purpose of reorganizing all army
organizations. In these re-elections the Soviet Government was
everywhere victorious.

From Gatchinsk, our divisions proceeded along the railroad further in
the direction of the Luga River and Pskov. On the way, they met a few
more trainloads of shock-troops and Cossacks, which had been called out
by Kerensky, or which individual generals had sent over. With one of
these echelons there was even an armed encounter. But most of the
soldiers that were sent from the front to Petrograd declared, as soon as
they met with representatives of the Soviet forces, that they had been
deceived and that they would not lift a finger against the government of
soldiers and workingmen.



INTERNAL FRICTION

In the meantime, the struggle for Soviet control spread all over the
country. In Moscow, especially, this struggle took on an extremely
protracted and bloody character. Perhaps not the least important cause
of this was the fact that the leaders of the revolt did not at once show
the necessary determination in attacking. In civil war, more than in any
other, victory can be insured only by a determined and persistent
course. There must be no vacillation. To engage in parleys is dangerous;
merely to mark time is suicidal. We are dealing here with the masses,
who have never held any power in their hands, who are therefore most
wanting in political self-confidence. Any hesitation at revolutionary
headquarters demoralizes them immediately. It is only when a
revolutionary party steadily and resolutely makes for its goal, that it
can help the toilers to overcome their century-old instincts of slavery
and lead them on to victory. And only by these means of aggressive
charges can victory be achieved with the smallest expenditure of energy
and the least number of sacrifices.

But the great difficulty is to acquire such firm and positive tactics.
The people's want of confidence in their own power and their lack of
political experience are naturally reflected in their leaders, who, in
their turn, find themselves subjected, besides, to the tremendous
pressure of bourgeois public opinion, from above.

The liberal bourgeoisie treated with contempt and indignation the mere
idea of the possibility of a working class government and gave free vent
to their feelings on the subject, in the innumerable organs at their
disposal. Close behind them trailed the intellectuals, who, with all
their professions of radicalism and all the socialistic coating of their
world-philosophy, are, in the depths of their hearts, completely steeped
in slavish worship of bourgeois strength and administrative ability. All
these "Socialistic" intellectuals hastily joined the Right and
considered the ever-increasing strength of the Soviet government as the
clear beginning of the end. After the representatives of the "liberal"
professions came the petty officials, the administrative
technicians--all those elements which materially and spiritually subsist
on the crumbs that fall from the bourgeois table. The opposition of
these elements was chiefly passive in character, especially after the
crushing of the cadet insurrection; but, nevertheless, it might still
seem formidable. We were being denied co-operation at every step. The
government officials would either leave the Ministry or refuse to work
while remaining in it. They would turn over neither the business of the
department nor its money accounts. The telephone operators refused to
connect us, while our messages were either held up or distorted in the
telegraph offices. We could not get translators, stenographers or even
copyists.

All this could not fail to create such an atmosphere as led various
elements in the higher ranks of our own party to doubt whether, in the
face of a boycott by bourgeois society, the toilers could manage to put
the machinery of government in working order and continue in power.
Opinions were voiced as to the necessity of coalition. Coalition with
whom? With the liberal bourgeoisie. But an attempt at coalition with
them had driven the revolution into a terrible morass. The revolt of the
25th of October was an act of self-preservation on the part of the
masses after the period of impotence and treason of the leaders of
coalition government. There remained for us only coalition in the ranks
of so-called revolutionary democracy, that is, coalition of all the
Soviet parties.

Such a coalition we did, in fact, propose from the very beginning--at
the session of the Second All-Russian Council of Soviets, on the 25th of
October. The Kerensky Government had been overthrown, and we suggested
that the Council of Soviets take the government into its own hands. But
the Right parties withdrew, slamming the door after them. And this was
the best thing they could have done. They represented an insignificant
section of the Council. They no longer had any following in the masses,
and those classes which still supported them out of mere inertia, were
coming over to our side more and more. Coalition with the Right
Social-Revolutionists and the Mensheviki could not broaden the social
basis of the Soviet government; and would, at the same time, introduce
into the composition of this government elements which were completely
disintegrated by political skepticism and idolatry of the liberal
bourgeoisie. The whole strength of the new government lay in the
radicalism of its program and the boldness of its actions. To tie itself
up with the Chernofi and Tseretelli factions would mean to bind the new
government hand and foot--to deprive it of freedom of action and thereby
forfeit the confidence of the masses in the shortest possible time.

Our nearest political neighbors to the Right were the so-called "Left
Social Revolutionists." They were, in general, quite ready to support
us, but endeavored, nevertheless, to form a coalition Socialist
government. The management of the railroad union (the so-called
vikzhal), the Central Committee of the Postal Telegraph employees, and
the Union of Government Officials were all against us. And in the higher
circles of our own party, voices were being raised as to the necessity
of reaching an understanding with these organizations, one way or
another. But on what basis? All the above-mentioned controlling
organizations of the old period had outlived their usefulness. They bore
approximately the same relation to the entire lower personnel as did the
old army committees to the masses of soldiers in the trenches. History
has created a big gulf between the higher classes and the lower.
Unprincipled combinations of these leaders of another day--leaders made
antiquated by the revolution--were doomed to inevitable failure. It was
necessary to depend wholly and confidently upon the masses in order,
jointly with them, to overcome the sabotage and the aristocratic
pretensions of the upper classes.

We left it to the Left Social-Revolutionists to continue the hopeless
efforts for coalition. Our policy was, on the contrary, to line up the
toiling lower classes against the representatives of organizations which
supported the Kerensky regime. This uncompromising policy caused
considerable friction and even division in the upper circles of our
party. In the Central Executive Committee, the Left Social
Revolutionists protested against the severity of our measures and
insisted upon the necessity for compromises. They met with support on
the part of some of the Bolsheviki. Three People's Commissaries gave up
their portfolios and left the government. A few other party leaders
sided with them in principle. This created a very deep impression in
intellectual and bourgeois circles. If the Bolsheviki could not be
defeated by the cadets and Krassnov's Cossacks, thought they, it is
quite clear that the Soviet government must now perish as a result of
internal dissension. However, the masses never noticed this dissension
at all. They unanimously supported the Soviet of People's Commissaries,
not only against counter-revolutionary instigators and sabotagers but
also against the coalitionists and the skeptics.



THE FATE OF THE CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY

When, after the Korniloff episode, the ruling Soviet parties tried to
smooth over their laxness toward the counter-revolutionary bourgeoisie,
they demanded a speedier convocation of the Constituent Assembly.
Kerensky, whom the Soviets had just saved from the too light embraces of
his ally, Korniloff, found himself compelled to make compromises. The
call for the Constituent Assembly was issued for the end of November. By
that time, however, circumstances had so shaped themselves that there
was no guarantee whatever that the Constituent Assembly would really be
convoked.

The greatest degree of disorganization was taking place at the front.
Desertions were increasing every day; the masses of soldiers threatened
to leave the trenches, whole regiments at a time, and move to the rear,
devastating everything on their way. In the villages, a general seizure
of lands and landholders' utensils was going on. Martial law had been
declared in several provinces. The Germans continued to advance,
captured Riga, and threatened Petrograd. The right wing of the
bourgeoisie was openly rejoicing over the danger that threatened the
revolutionary capital. The government offices at Petrograd were being
evacuated, and Kerensky's government was preparing to move to Moscow.
All this made the actual convocation of the Constituent Assembly not
only doubtful, but hardly even probable. From this point of view, the
October revolution seems to have been the deliverance of the Constituent
Assembly, as it has been the savior of the Revolution generally. When we
were declaring that the road to the Constituent Assembly was not by way
of Tseretelli's Preliminary Parliament, but by way of the seizure of the
reigns of government by the Soviets, we were quite sincere.

But the interminable delay in convoking the Constituent Assembly was not
without effect upon this institution itself. Heralded in the first days
of the revolution, it came into being only after eight or nine months of
bitter class and party struggle. It came too late to play a creative
role. Its internal inadequacy had been predetermined by a single fact--a
fact which might seem unimportant at first, but which subsequently took
on tremendous importance for the fate of the Constituent Assembly.

Numerically, the principal revolutionary party in the first epoch was
the party of Social-Revolutionists. I have already referred to its
formlessness and variegated composition. The revolution led inevitably
to the dismemberment of such of its members as had joined it under the
banner of populism. The left wing, which had a following among part of
the workers and the vast masses of poor peasants, was becoming more and
more alienated from the rest. This wing found itself in uncompromising
opposition to the party and middle bourgeois branches of Social
Revolutionists. But the inertness of party organization and party
tradition held back the inevitable process of cleavage. The proportional
system of elections still holds full sway, as every one knows, in party
lists. Since these lists were made up two or three months before the
October revolution and were not subject to change, the Left and the
Right Social Revolutionists still figured in these lists as one and the
same party. Thus, by the time of the October revolution--that is, the
period when the Right Social Revolutionists were arresting the Left and
then the Left were combining with the Bolsheviki for the overthrow of
Kerensky's ministry, the old lists remained in full force; and in the
elections for the Constituent Assembly the peasants were compelled to
vote for lists of names at the head of which stood Kerensky, followed by
those of Left Social Revolutionists who participated in the plot for his
overthrow.

If the months preceding the October revolution were months of continuous
gain in popular support for the Left--of a general increase in Bolshevik
following among workers, soldiers and peasants--then this process was
reflected within the party of Social Revolutionists in an increase of
the left wing at the expense of the right. Nevertheless, on the party
lists of the Social Revolutionists there was a predominance of three to
one of old leaders of the right wing--of men who had lost all their
revolutionary reputation in the days of coalition with the liberal
bourgeoisie.

To this should be added also the fact that the elections themselves were
held during the first weeks after the October revolution. The news of
the change traveled rather slowly from the capital to the provinces,
from the cities to the villages. The peasantry in many places had but a
very vague idea of what was taking place in Petrograd and Moscow. They
voted for "Land and Liberty," for their representatives in the land
committees, who in most cases gathered under the banner of populism: but
thereby they were voting for Kerensky and Avksentiev, who were
dissolving the land committees, and arresting their members. As a result
of this, there came about the strange political paradox that one of the
two parties which dissolved the Constituent Assembly--the Left
Social-Revolutionists--had won its representation by being on the same
list of names with the party which gave a majority to the Constituent
Assembly. This matter-of-fact phase of the question should give a very
clear idea of the extent to which the Constituent Assembly lagged behind
the course of political events and party groupings.

We must consider the question of principles.



THE PRINCIPLES OF DEMOCRACY AND PROLETARIAN DICTATORSHIP

As Marxists, we have never been idol-worshippers of formal democracy. In
a society of classes, democratic institutions not only do not eliminate
class struggle, but also give to class interests an utterly imperfect
expression. The propertied classes always have at their disposal tens
and hundreds of means for falsifying, subverting and violating the will
of the toilers. And democratic institutions become a still less perfect
medium for the expression of the class struggle under revolutionary
circumstances. Marx called revolutions "the locomotives of history."
Owing to the open and direct struggle for power, the working people
acquire much political experience in a short time and pass rapidly from
one stage to the next in their development. The ponderous machinery of
democratic institutions lags behind this evolution all the more, the
bigger the country and the less perfect its technical apparatus.

The majority in the Constituent Assembly proved to be Social
Revolutionists, and, according to parliamentary rules of procedure, the
control of the government belonged to them. But the party of Right
Social Revolutionists had a chance to acquire control during the entire
pre-October period of the revolution. Yet, they avoided the
responsibilities of government, leaving the lion's share of it to the
liberal bourgeoisie. By this very course the Right Social Revolutionists
lost the last vestiges of their influence with the revolutionary
elements by the time the numerical composition of the Constituent
Assembly formally obliged them to form a government. The working class,
as well as the Red Guards, were very hostile to the party of Right
Social Revolutionists. The vast majority of soldiers supported the
Bolsheviki. The revolutionary element in the provinces divided their
sympathies between the Left Social Revolutionists and the Bolsheviki.
The sailors, who had played such an important role in revolutionary
events, were almost unanimously on our side. The Right Social
Revolutionists, moreover, had to leave the Soviets, which in
October--that is, before the convocation of the Constituent
Assembly--had taken the government into their own hands. On whom, then,
could a ministry formed by the Constituent Assembly's majority depend
for support? It would be backed by the upper classes in the provinces,
the intellectuals, the government officials, and temporarily by the
bourgeoisie on the Right. But such a government would lack all the
material means of administration. At such a political center as
Petrograd, it would encounter irresistible opposition from the very
start. If under these circumstances the Soviets, submitting to the
formal logic of democratic conventions, had turned the government over
to the party of Kerensky and Chernov, such a government, compromised and
debilitated as it was, would only introduce temporary confusion into the
political life of the country, and would be overthrown by a new uprising
in a few weeks. The Soviets decided to reduce this belated historical
experiment to its lowest terms, and dissolved the Constituent Assembly
the very first day it met.

For this, our party has been most severely censured. The dispersal of
the Constituent Assembly has also created a decidedly unfavorable
impression among the leading circles of the European Socialist parties.
Kautsky has explained, in a series of articles written with his
characteristic pedantry, the interrelation existing between the
Social-Revolutionary problems of the proletariat and the regime of
political democracy. He tries to prove that for the working class it is
always expedient, in the long run, to preserve the essential elements of
the democratic order. This is, of course, true as a general rule. But
Kautsky has reduced this historical truth to professorial banality. If,
in the final analysis, it is to the advantage of the proletariat to
introduce its class struggle and even its dictatorship, through the
channels of democratic institutions, it does not at all follow that
history always affords it the opportunity for attaining this happy
consummation. There is nothing in the Marxian theory to warrant the
deduction that history always creates such conditions as are most
"favorable" to the proletariat.

It is difficult to tell now how the course of the Revolution would have
run if the Constituent Assembly had been convoked in its second or third
month. It is quite probable that the then dominant Social Revolutionary
and Menshevik parties would have compromised themselves, together with
the Constituent Assembly, in the eyes of not only the more active
elements supporting the Soviets, but also of the more backward
democratic masses, who might have been attached, through their
expectations not to the side of the Soviets, but to that of the
Constituent Assembly. Under such circumstances the dissolution of the
Constituent Assembly might have led to new elections, in which the party
of the Left could have secured a majority. But the course of events has
been different. The elections for the Constituent Assembly occurred in
the ninth month of the Revolution. By that time the class struggle had
assumed such intensity that it broke the formal frames of democracy by
sheer internal force.

The proletariat drew the army and the peasantry after it. These classes
were in a state of direct and bitter war with the Right Social
Revolutionists. This party, owing to the clumsy electoral democratic
machinery, received a majority in the Constituent Assembly, reflecting
the pre-October epoch of the revolution. The result was a contradiction
which was absolutely irreducible within the limits of formal democracy.
And only political pedants who do not take into account the
revolutionary logic of class relations, can, in the face of the
post-October situation, deliver futile lectures to the proletariat on
the benefits and advantages of democracy for the cause of the class
struggle.

The question was put by history far more concretely and sharply. The
Constituent Assembly, owing to the character of its majority, was bound
to turn over the government to the Chernov, Kerensky and Tseretelli
group. Could this group have guided the destinies of the Revolution?
Could it have found support in that class which constitutes the backbone
of the Revolution? No. The real kernel of the class revolution has come
into irreconcilable conflict with its democratic shell. By this
situation the fate of the Constituent Assembly had been sealed. Its
dissolution became the only possible surgical remedy for the
contradiction, which had been created, not by us, but by all the
preceding course of events.



PEACE NEGOTIATIONS

At the historic night session of the Second All-Russian Congress of the
Soviets the decree on peace was adopted. (The full text is printed in
the Appendix.) At that moment the Soviet government was only becoming
established in the important centers of the country and there was very
little confidence abroad in its power. The Soviet adopted the decree
unanimously. But this seemed to many no more than a political
demonstration. Those who were for a compromise preached at every
opportunity that our resolution would bring no results; for, on the one
hand, the German imperialists would not recognize and would not deal
with us; on the other hand, our Allies would declare war upon us as soon
as we should start negotiating a separate peace. Under the shadow of
these predictions we took our first steps to secure a general democratic
peace. The decree was adopted on the 26th of October, when Kerensky and
Krassnov were at the gates of Petrograd. On the 7th of November, we
addressed by wireless an invitation to our Allies and enemies to
conclude a general peace. In reply the Allied Governments addressed to
General Dukhonin, then commander-in-chief, through their military
attaches, a communication stating that further steps to separate peace
negotiations would lead to the gravest consequences. To this protest we
answered the 11th of November by appealing to all the workers, soldiers
and peasants. In this appeal we declared that under no circumstances
would we permit our army to shed its blood under the club of the foreign
bourgeoisie. We swept aside the threat of the Western imperialists and
took upon ourselves the responsibility for our peace policy before the
international working class. First of all, we published, in accordance
with our promises, made as a matter of principle, the secret treaties
and declared that we would relinquish everything in these treaties that
was against the interests of the masses of the people in all countries.
The capitalist governments made an attempt to make use of our
disclosures against one another, but the masses of the people understood
and recognized us. Not a single social patriotic publication, as far as
we know, dared to protest against having all the methods of diplomacy
radically changed by a government of peasants and workers; they dared
not protest against us for denouncing the dishonest cunning, chicanery
and cheating of the old diplomacy. We made it the task of our diplomacy
to enlighten the masses of the peoples, to open their eyes to the real
meaning of the policy of their governments, in order to weld them
together in a common struggle and a common hatred against the bourgeois
capitalist order. The German bourgeois press accused us of "dragging on"
the peace negotiations; but all nations anxiously followed the
discussions at Brest-Litovsk, and in this way we rendered, during the
two months and a half of peace negotiations, a service to the cause of
peace which was recognized even by the more honest of our enemies. The
question of peace was first put before the world in a shape which made
it impossible to side-track it any longer by machinations behind the
scenes. On the 22nd of November a truce was signed to discontinue
military activities on the entire front from the Baltic to the Black
Sea. Once more we requested our Allies to join us and to conduct
together with us the peace negotiations. There was no reply, though this
time the Allies did not again attempt to frighten us by threats. The
peace negotiations were started December 9th, a month and a half after
the peace decree was adopted. The accusations of the purchased press and
of the social-traitor press that we had made no attempt to agree with
our Allies on a common policy was therefore entirely false. For a month
and a half we kept our Allies informed about every step we made and
always called upon them to become a party to the peace negotiations. Our
conscience is clear before the peoples of France, Italy and Great
Britain.... We did all in our power to get all the belligerents to join
the peace negotiations. If we were compelled to start separate peace
negotiations, it was not because of any fault of ours, but because of
the Western imperialists, as well as those of the Russian parties, which
continued predicting the approaching destruction of the workmen's and
peasants' government of Russia and who persuaded the Allies not to pay
serious attention to our peace initiative. But be that as it may, on the
9th of December the peace conversations were started. Our delegation
made a statement of principles which set forth the basis of a general
democratic peace in the exact expressions of the decree of the 26th of
October (8th of November). The other side demanded that the session be
broken off, and the reopening of the sessions was later, at the
suggestion of Kuehlmann, repeatedly delayed. It was clear that the
delegation of the Teuton Allies experienced no small difficulty in the
formulation of its reply to our delegation. On the 25th of December this
reply was given. The diplomats of the Teuton Allies expressed agreement
with our democratic formula of peace without annexations and
indemnities, on the basis of self-determination of peoples. We saw
clearly that this was but pretense; but we had not expected even that
they would try to pretend; because, as the French writer has said,
hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue. The fact that the
German imperialists found it necessary to make this tribute to the
principles of democracy, was, in our eyes, evidence that the situation
of affairs within Germany was serious enough.... But if we, generally
speaking, had no illusions concerning the love for democracy of Messrs.
Kuehlmann and Czernin--we know well enough the nature of the German and
Austro-Hungarian dominating classes--it must nevertheless be admitted
that we had not the slightest idea of the chasm which separated the real
intentions of German imperialism from those principles which were put
forth on the 25th of December by Mr. von Kuehlmann as a parody on the
Russian revolution--a chasm which was revealed so strikingly a few days
later. Such audacity we had never expected.

Kuehlmann's reply made a tremendous impression upon the working masses
of Russia. It was interpreted as a result of the fear felt by the
dominant classes of the Central Empires because of the discontent and
the growing impatience of the working masses of Germany. On the 28th of
December there took place in Petrograd a joint demonstration of workmen
and soldiers for a democratic peace. The next morning our delegation
came back from Brest-Litovsk and brought those brigand demands which Mr.
von Kuehlmann made to us in the name of the Central Empires as an
interpretation of his "democratic" formulae.

At the first glance it may seem incomprehensible why the German
diplomacy should have presented its democratic formulae if it intended
within two or three days to disclose its wolfish appetite. What was it
that the German diplomacy expected to bring about? At least, the
theoretic discussions which developed around the democratic formulae,
owing largely to the initiative of Kuehlmann himself, were not without
their danger. That the diplomacy of the Central Empires could not reap
many laurels in that way must have been clear beforehand to that
diplomacy itself. But the secret of the conduct of the diplomacy of
Kuehlmann consisted in that that gentleman was sincerely convinced of
our readiness to play a four-handed game with him. His way of reasoning
was approximately as follows: Russia needs peace. The Bolsheviki got the
power because of their struggle for peace. The Bolsheviki desire to
remain in power and this is possible for them only on condition that
peace is concluded. It is true that they bound themselves to a definite
democratic program of peace, but why do diplomats exist if not for the
purpose of making black look white? We Germans will make it easier for
the Bolsheviki by covering our plunders by democratic formulas. The
Bolshevist diplomacy will have plenty of reason not to dig for the
political essence of the matter, or, rather, not to expose to the entire
world the contents of the enticing formulae.... In other words,
Kuehlmann relied upon a silent agreement with us. He would return to us
our fine formulas and we should give him a chance to get provinces and
peoples for Germany without a protest. In the eyes of the German
workers, the annexations by force would thus receive the sanction of the
Russian Revolution. When during the discussions, we showed that with us,
it was not a matter of empty words or of camouflaging a conspiracy
concluded behind the scenes, but a matter of democratic principles for
the international life of the community of nations, Kuehlmann took it as
a willful and malicious breaking of the silent agreement. He would not
by any means recede from the position taken in the formulas of the 25th
of December. Relying upon his cunning, bureaucratic and judicial logic,
he tried in the face of the entire world to show that white is in no way
different from black, and it was our own perverseness which made us
insist that there was such a difference. Count Czernin, the
representative of Austria-Hungary, played a part in those negotiations
which no one would consider inspiring or satisfactory.

He was an awkward second and upon instructions from Kuehlmann took it
upon himself in all critical moments to utter the most extreme and
cynical declarations. General Hoffmann brought a refreshing note into
the negotiations. Showing no great sympathy for the diplomatic
constructions of Kuehlmann, the General several times put his soldierly
boot upon the table, around which a complicated judicial debate was
developing. We, on our part, did not doubt for a single minute that just
this boot of General Hoffmann was the only element of serious reality in
these negotiations. The important trump in the hands of Mr. Kuehlmann
was the participation in the negotiations of a delegation of the Kiev
Rada. For the Ukrainian middle classes, who had seized the power, the
most important factor seemed to be the "recognition" of their government
by the capitalist governments of Europe. At first the Rada placed itself
at the disposal of the Allied imperialists, received from them some
pocket money, and immediately thereupon sent their representatives to
Brest-Litovsk in order to make a bargain behind the back of the Russian
people with the government of Austria-Hungary for the recognition of the
legitimate birth of their government. They had hardly taken this first
step on the road to "international" existence, when the Kiev diplomacy
revealed the same narrow-mindedness and the same moral standards which
were always so characteristic of the petty politicians of the Balkan
Peninsula. Messrs. Kuehlmann and Czernin certainly had no illusions
concerning the solidity of the new participant in the negotiations. But
they thought, and correctly so, that the participation of the Kiev
delegation complicated the game not without advantage for themselves.

At its first appearance at Brest-Litovsk, the Kiev delegation
characterized Ukraine as a component part of the Russian Federated
Republic that was in progress of formation. This apparently embarrassed
the diplomats of the Central Empires, who considered it their main task
to convert the Russian Republic into a new Balkan Peninsula. At their
second appearance the delegates of the Rada declared, under dictation
from the Austro-Hungarian diplomacy, that Ukraine refused to join the
Russian Federation and was becoming an entirely independent republic. In
order to give the reader an opportunity to get a better idea of the
situation which was thus created for the Soviet power in the last moment
of the peace negotiations, I think it best to reproduce here in its
basic parts the address made by the author of these lines in his
capacity as the People's Commissar on Foreign Affairs at the session of
the Central Executive Committee on the 14th of February, 1918.



ADDRESS OF THE PEOPLES COMMISSAR ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS

Comrades: Upon Soviet Russia has fallen the task not only to construct
the new but also to recapitulate the old to a certain degree, or,
rather, to a very large degree--to pay all bills, first of all the bills
of the war, which has lasted three and a half years. The war put the
economic power of the belligerent countries to a severe test. The fate
of Russia, a poor, backward country, in a protracted war was
predetermined. In the terrible collision of the military machines the
determining factor, after all is said and done, is the ability of the
country to adapt its industries to the military needs, to rebuild it on
the shortest notice and to produce in continuously increasing quantities
the weapons of destruction which are used up at such an enormous rate
during this massacre of peoples. Almost every country, including the
most backward, could and did have powerful weapons of destruction at the
beginning of the war; that is, it obtained them from foreign countries.
That is what all the backward countries did, and so did Russia. But the
war speedily wears out its dead capital, demanding that it be
continuously replenished. The military power of every single country
drawn into the whirlpool of the world massacre was, as a matter of fact,
measured by its ability to produce independently and during the war
itself, its cannons and shells and the other weapons of destruction.

If the war had decided the problem of the balance of power in a very
short time, Russia might conceivably have turned out to be on that side
of the trenches which victory favored. But the war dragged along for a
long time, and it was not an accident that it did so. The fact alone
that the international politics were for the last fifty years reduced to
the construction of the so-called European "balance of power," that is,
to a state in which the hostile powers approximately balance one
another, this fact alone was bound--when the power and wealth of the
present bourgeois nations is considered--to make it a war of an
extremely protracted character. That meant first of all the exhaustion
of the weaker and economically less developed countries.

The most powerful country in a military sense proved to be Germany,
because of the strength of the industries and because of their modern
and rational construction as against the archaic construction of the
German State. France, with its undeveloped state of capitalism, proved
to be far behind Germany, and even such a powerful colonial power as
Great Britain, owing to the conservative and routine character of the
English industries, proved to be weaker than Germany. When history put
before the Russian Revolution the question of the peace negotiations, we
had no doubt that in these negotiations, and so long as the decisive
power of the revolutionary proletariat of the world had not interfered,
we should be compelled to stand the bill of three and a half years of
war. There was no doubt in our minds that in the person of the German
imperialism we were dealing with an opponent who was saturated with the
consciousness of his immense power, which was strikingly revealed during
the present war.

All the arguments made by bourgeois cliques that we might have been
incomparably stronger if we had conducted these negotiations together
with our allies are absolutely without foundation. In order that we
might at an indefinite future date conduct negotiations together with
our Allies, we should first of all have had to continue the war together
with them. And if our country was weakened and exhausted, the
continuation of the war, a failure to bring it to a conclusion, would
have still further weakened and exhausted it. We should have had to
settle the war under conditions still more unfavorable to us. In the
case even that the combination of which Russia, owing to international
intrigues of Czarism and the bourgeoisie, had become a part--the
combination headed by Great Britain--in the case even that this
combination had come out of the war completely victorious--let us for a
moment admit the possibility of such a not very probable issue--even in
that case, comrades, it does not mean that our country would also have
come out victorious. For during further continuation of this protracted
war, Russia would have become even more exhausted and plundered than
now. The masters of that combination, who would concentrate in their
hands the fruits of the victory, that is, Great Britain and America,
would have displayed toward our country the same methods which were
displayed by Germany during the peace negotiations. It would be absurd
and childish to appraise the politics of the imperialistic countries
from the point of view of any considerations other than those
considerations of naked interests and material power. Consequently, if
we, as a nation are at present weakened before the imperialism of the
world, we are weakened, not because of extricating ourselves from the
fiery ring of the war, having already previously extricated ourselves
from the shackles of international military obligations: no! we are
weakened by that very policy of the Czarists and the bourgeois classes,
which we, as a revolutionary party, have always fought against before
this war and during this war.

You remember, comrades, under what conditions our delegation went to
Brest-Litovsk last time, right after one of the sessions of the Third
All-Russian Congress of the Soviets. At that session, we reported on the
state of the negotiations, and the demands of our opponents. These
demands, as you remember, were really no more than masked, or, rather,
half-masked annexationist aspirations at the expense of Lithuania,
Courland, a part of Livonia, the Isles of Moon Sound, as well as a
half-masked demand for a punitive war indemnity which we then estimated
would amount to six, eight or even ten milliards of rubles. During
interruption of the sessions, which continued for about ten days, a
considerable disturbance took place in Austria-Hungary; strikes of
masses of workers broke out, and these strikes were the first
recognition of our methods of conducting peace negotiations that we met
with from the proletariat of the Central Empires, as against the
annexationist demands of the German militarism. We promised here no
miracles but we did say that the road we were pursuing was the only road
remaining to the revolutionary democracy for securing the possibility of
its further development.

There is room for complaint that the proletariat of the other countries,
and particularly of the Central Empires, is too slow to enter the road
of open revolutionary struggle, yes, it must be admitted that the pace
of its development is all too slow--but, nevertheless, there could be
observed a movement in Austria-Hungary which swept the entire state and
which was a direct echo of the Brest-Litovsk negotiations.

Leaving for Brest-Litovsk, it was our common opinion that there was no
ground to believe that just this wave would sweep away the Austro-German
militarism. If we had been convinced that this could be expected, we
would gladly have given the promise that several persons demanded from
us, namely, that under no circumstances would we sign a separate peace
with Germany. I said at that very time, that we could not make such a
promise, for it would amount to taking upon ourselves the obligation of
vanquishing the German militarism. The secret of attaining such a
victory was not in our possession. And inasmuch as we would not
undertake the obligation to change the balance of the world powers at a
moment's notice, we frankly and openly declared that revolutionary power
may under certain conditions be compelled to agree to an annexationist
peace. A revolutionary power would fall short of its high principles
only in the event that it should attempt to conceal from its own people
the predatory character of the peace, but by no means, however, in the
event that the course of the struggle should compel it to adopt such a
peace.

At the same time, we indicated that we were leaving to continue
negotiations under conditions which were seemingly improving for us and
becoming worse for our enemies. We observed the movement in
Austria-Hungary, and there were signs indicating (this was made the
basis for statements by representatives of the German Social Democracy
in the Reichstag) that Germany was on the eve of similar events. We went
with this hope. During the first days of this visit to Brest-Litovsk the
wireless brought us from Vilna the first news that in Berlin an enormous
strike movement was developing; this movement as well as that of
Austria-Hungary was directly connected with the course of negotiations
in Brest. However, as is often the case, by reason of the dialectic of
the class struggle, just this conspicuous beginning of the proletarian
rising, which surpassed anything Germany had ever seen, was bound to
push the property classes to a closer consolidation and to greater
hostility against the proletariat. The German dominating classes are
saturated with a sufficiently strong instinct of self-preservation to
understand that concessions in such an exigency as they were in, under
the pressure of the masses of their own people--concessions however
small--would amount to capitulation before the idea of the revolution.
That is why, after the first moment of perplexity and panic, the time
when Kuehlmann deliberately dragged out the negotiations by minor and
formal questions, had passed--as soon as the strikes were disposed of,
as soon as he came to the conclusion that for the time being no imminent
danger threatened his masters, he again changed front and adopted a tone
of unlimited self-confidence and aggression.

Our negotiations were complicated by the participation of the Kiev Rada.
We called attention to this last time, too. The delegation from the Kiev
Rada appeared at a time when the Rada represented a fairly strong
organization in the Ukraine and when the way out of the war had not yet
been predetermined. Just at that time, we made the Rada an official
offer to conclude a definite treaty with us, making as one of the
conditions of such a treaty the following demand: that the Rada declare
Kaledin and Korniloff to be counter-revolutionists and put no hindrance
in the way of our waging war on these two leaders. The delegation from
the Kiev Rada arrived, just when we hoped to reach an understanding with
it on these matters. We declared that as long as the people of the
Ukraine recognized the Rada, we considered its independent participation
in these negotiations permissible. But with the further development of
events in Russian territory and in the Ukraine, and the more the
antagonism between the Ukrainian masses and the Rada increased, the
greater became the Rada's readiness to conclude any kind of treaty with
the governments of the Central Empires, and, if need be, to drag German
imperialism into the internal affairs of the Russian Republic, in order
to support the Rada against the Russian revolution.

On the 9th day of February (N. S.) we learned that the peace
negotiations carried on behind our backs between the Rada and the
Central Powers, had been signed. The 9th of February happened to be the
birthday of Leopold of Bavaria, and, as is the custom in monarchical
countries, the triumphant historical act was timed--with or without the
consent of the Kiev Rada for this festive day. General Hoffmann had a
salute fired in honor of Leopold of Bavaria, having previously asked
permission to do so of the Kiev delegation, since by the treaty of peace
Brest-Litovsk had been ceded to Ukraine.

Events had taken such a turn, however, that at the time General Hoffmann
was asking permission for a military salute, the Kiev Rada had but very
little territory left outside of Brest-Litovsk. On the strength of the
telegrams we had received from Petrograd, we officially made it known to
the Central Powers' delegation that the Kiev Rada no longer existed, a
circumstance which certainly had some bearing on the course of the peace
negotiations. We suggested to Count Czernin that his representatives
accompany our officers into Ukrainian territory to ascertain whether the
Kiev Rada existed or not. Czernin seemed to welcome this suggestion, but
when we asked him if this meant that the treaty made with the Kiev
delegation would not be signed before the return of his own mission, he
hesitated and promised to ask Kuehlmann about it. Having inquired, he
sent us an answer in the negative.

This was on February 8th. By the 9th, they had to sign the treaty. This
could not be delayed, not only on account of Leopold's birthday, but for
a more important reason, which Kuehlmann undoubtedly explained to
Czernin: "If we should send our representatives into the Ukraine just
now, they might really convince themselves that the Rada does not exist;
and then we shall have to face a single All-Russian delegation which
would spoil our prospects in the negotiations."... By the
Austro-Hungarian delegation we were advised to put principle aside and
to place the question on a more practical plane. Then the German
delegation would be disposed to concessions.... It was unthinkable that
the Germans should decide to continue the war over, say, the Moon
Islands, if you put this demand in concrete form.

We replied that we were ready to look into such concessions as their
German colleagues were prepared to make. "So far we have been contending
for the self-determination of the Lithuanians, Poles, Livonians, Letts,
Esthonians, and other peoples; and on all these issues you have told us
that such self-determination is out of the question. Now let us see what
your plans are in regard to the self-determination of another
people--the Russians; what designs and plans of a military strategic
nature are behind your seizure of the Moon Islands. For these islands,
as an integral part of an independent Esthonian Republic, or as a
possession of the Federated Russian Republic would have only a defensive
military importance, while in the hands of Germany they would assume
offensive significance, menacing the most vital centers of our country,
and especially Petrograd."

But, of course, Hoffmann would make no concessions whatsoever. Then the
hour for reaching a decision had come. We could not declare war, for we
were too weak. The army had lost all of its internal ties. In order to
save our country, to overcome this disorganization, it was imperative to
establish the internal coherence of the toilers. This psychological tie
can only be created by constructive work in factory, field and workshop.
We had to return the masses of laborers, who had been subjected to great
and intense suffering--who had experienced catastrophes in the war--to
the fields and factories, where they must find themselves again and get
a footing in the labor world, and rebuild internal discipline. This was
the only way to save the country, which was now atoning for the sins of
Czarism and the bourgeoisie. We had to get out of the war and withdraw
the army from the slaughter house. Nevertheless, we threw this in the
face of the German militarism: The peace you are forcing down our
throats is a peace of aggression and robbery. We cannot permit you,
Messrs. Diplomats, to say to the German workingmen: "You have
characterized our demands as avaricious, as annexationist. But look,
under these very demands we have brought you the signature of the
Russian revolution." Yes, we are weak, we cannot fight at present. But
we have sufficient revolutionary courage to say that we shall not
willingly affix our signature to the treaty which you are writing with
the sword on the body of living peoples. We refused to affix our
signature. I believe we acted properly, comrades.

I do not mean to say, friends, that a German advance upon Russia is out
of the question. It were too rash to make such an assertion in view of
the great strength of the German imperialistic party. But I do believe
that the stand we have taken in the matter has rendered it far more
difficult for German militarism to advance upon us. What would happen if
it should advance? To this there is but one thing to say: If it is
possible in our country, a country completely exhausted and in a state
of desperation, to raise the spirits of the more revolutionary energetic
elements; if a struggle in defence of our Revolution and the territory
comprised within it is still possible, then this is the case only as a
result of our abandoning the war and refusing to sign the peace treaty.



THE SECOND WAR AND THE SIGNING OF PEACE

During the first few days following the breaking off of negotiations the
German government hesitated, not knowing what course to pursue. The
politicians and diplomats evidently thought that the principal objects
had been accomplished and that there was no reason for coveting our
signatures. The military men were ready, in any event, to break through
the lines drawn by the German Government at Brest-Litovsk. Professor
Krigge, the advisor of the German delegation, told a member of our
delegation that a German invasion of Russia under the existing
conditions was out of the question. Count Mirbach, then at the head of
the German missions at Petrograd, went to Berlin with the assurance that
an agreement concerning the exchange of prisoners of war had been
satisfactorily reached. But all this did not in the least prevent
General Hoffmann from declaring on the fifth day after the Brest-Litovsk
negotiations had been broken off--that the armistice was over,
antedating the seven-day period from the time of the last Brest-Litovsk
session. It were really out of place to dilate here on the moral
indignation caused by this piece of dishonesty. It fits in perfectly
with the general state of diplomatic and military morality of the ruling
classes.

The new German invasion developed under circumstances most fatal for
Russia. Instead of the week's notice agreed upon, we received notice
only two days in advance. This circumstance intensified the panic in the
army which was already in state of chronic dissolution. Resistance was
almost unthinkable. The soldiers could not believe that the Germans
would advance after we had declared the state of war at an end. The
panicky retreat paralyzed the will even of such individual detachments
as were ready to make a stand. In the workingmen's quarters of Petrograd
and Moscow, the indignation against the treacherous and truly murderous
German invasion reached a pitch of greatest intensity. In these alarming
days and nights, the workers were ready to enlist in the army by the ten
thousand. But the matter of organizing lagged far behind. Isolated
tenacious detachments full of enthusiasm became convinced themselves of
their instability in their first serious clashes with German regulars.
This still further lowered the country's spirits. The old army had long
ago been hopelessly defeated and was going to pieces, blocking all the
roads and byways. The new army, owing to the country's general
exhaustion, the fearful disorganization of industries and the means of
transportation, was being got together too slowly. Distance was the only
serious obstacle in the way of the German invasion.

The chief attention of the Austro-Hungarian government was centered on
the Ukraine. The Rada, through its delegation, had appealed to the
governments of the Central Empires for direct military aid against the
Soviets, which had by that time completely defeated the Ukrainians. Thus
did the petty-bourgeois democracy of the Ukraine, in its struggle
against the working class and the destitute peasants, voluntarily open
the gates to foreign invasion.

At the same time, the Svinhufvud government was seeking the aid of
German bayonets against the Finnish proletariat. German militarism,
openly and before the whole world, assumed the role of executioner of
the peasant and proletarian revolution in Russia.

In the ranks of our party hot debates were being carried on as to
whether or not we should, under these circumstances, yield to the German
ultimatum and sign a new treaty, which--and this no one doubted--would
include conditions incomparably more onerous than those announced at
Brest-Litovsk. The representatives of the one view held that just now,
with the German intervention in the internal war of the Russian
Republic, it was impossible to establish peace for one part of Russia
and remain passive, while in the South and in the North, German forces
would be establishing a regime of bourgeois dictatorship. Another
view, championed chiefly by Lenin, was that every delay, even the
briefest breathing spell, would greatly help the internal stabilization
and increase the Russian powers of resistance. After the whole country
and the whole world had come to know of our absolute helplessness
against foreign invasion at this time, the conclusion of peace would
everywhere be understood as an act forced upon us by the cruel law of
disproportionate forces. It would be childish to argue from the
standpoint of abstract revolutionary ethics. The point is not to die
with honor but to achieve ultimate victory. The Russian Revolution wants
to survive, must survive, and must by every means at its disposal avoid
fighting an uneven battle and gain time, in the hope that the Western
revolutionary movement will come to its aid.

German imperialism is still engaged in a fierce annexationist struggle
with English and American militarism. Only because of this is the
conclusion of peace between Russia and Germany at all possible. We must
fully avail ourselves of this situation. The welfare of the Revolution
is the highest law. We should accept the peace which we are unable to
reject; we must secure a breathing spell to be utilized for intensive
work within the country and, especially, for the creation of an army.

At the conference of the Communist party as well as at the Fourth
Conference of the Soviet, the peace partisans triumphed. They were
joined by many of those who in January considered it impossible to sign
the Brest-Litovsk treaty. "Then," said they, "our signature would have
been looked upon by the English and French workingmen as a shameful
capitulation, without an attempt to fight. Even the base insinuations of
the Anglo-French chauvinists to the secret compact between the Soviet
Government and the Germans, might in case that treaty had been signed
find credence in certain circles of European laborers. But after we had
refused to sign the treaty, after a new German invasion, after our
attempt to resist it, and after our military weakness had become
painfully obvious to the whole world, after all this, no one dare to
reproach us for surrendering without a fight."

The Brest-Litovsk treaty, in its second enlarged edition, was signed and
ratified.

In the meantime, the executioners were doing their work in Finland and
the Ukraine, menacing more and more the most vital centers of Great
Russia. Thus the question of Russia's very existence as an independent
country is henceforth inseparably connected with the question of the
European revolution.



CONCLUSION

When our party took over the government, we knew in advance what
difficulties we had to contend with. Economically the country had been
exhausted by the war to the very utmost. The revolution had destroyed
the old administrative machinery and could not yet create anything to
take its place. Millions of workers had been wrested from their normal
nooks in the national economy of things, declassified, and physically
shattered by the three years' war. The colossal war industries, carried
on on an inadequately prepared national foundation, had drained all the
lifeblood of the people; and their demobilization was attended with
extreme difficulties. The phenomena of economic and political anarchy
spread throughout the country. The Russian peasantry had for centuries
been held together by barbarian national discipline from below and
iron-Czarist rule from above. Economic development had undermined the
former, the revolution destroyed the latter. Psychologically, the
revolution meant the awakening of a sense of human personality among the
peasantry. The anarchic manifestations of this awakening are but the
inevitable results of the preceding oppression. A new order of things,
an order based on the workers' own control of industry, can come only
through gradual and internal elimination of the anarchic manifestations
of the revolution.

On the other hand, the propertied classes, even though deprived of
political power, will not relinquish their advantages without a fight.
The Revolution has brought to a head the question of private property in
land and the tools of production--that is, the question of vital
significance to the exploiting classes. Politically this means
ceaseless, secret or open civil war. In its turn, civil war inevitably
nourishes anarchical tendencies within the workingmen's movement. With
the disorganization of industries, of national finances, of the
transportation and provisioning systems, prolonged civil strife thus
sets up tremendous difficulties in the way of constructive organizing
work. Nevertheless, the Soviet Government can look the future in the
face with perfect confidence. Only a careful inventory of all the
country's resources; only a rational organization of industries--an
organization born of one general plan; only wise and careful
distribution of all the products, can save the country. And this is
Socialism. Either a complete descent to colonial status or a Socialist
resurrection--these are the alternatives before which our country finds
itself.

The war has undermined the soil of the entire capitalistic world. Herein
lies our unconquerable strength. The imperialistic ring that is pressing
around us will lie burst asunder by the proletarian revolution. We do
not doubt this for a minute, any more than we doubted during our decades
of underground struggle the inevitableness of the downfall of Czarism.

To struggle, to unite our forces, to establish industrial discipline and
a Socialist regime, to increase the productivity of labor, and to
press on in the face of all obstacles--this is our mission. History is
working in our favor. The proletarian revolution will flare up, sooner
or later, both in Europe and America, and will bring emancipation not
only to the Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania, Courland, and Finland, but also
to all suffering humanity.






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