Category: Party Voices
John Reed- Ten Days That Shook the World (1919) Chapter II “The Coming Storm”

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

John Reed- Ten Days That Shook the World (1919) Chapter II “The Coming Storm”

https://communismgr.blogspot.com/2016/11/john-reed-ten-days-that-shook-world_23.html
Ten Days That Shook the World.
By John Reed.
CHAPTER II: THE COMING STORM.
In September General Kornilov marched on Petrograd to make himself military dictator of Russia. Behind him was suddenly revealed the mailed fist of the bourgeoisie, boldly attempting to crush the Revolution. Some of the Socialist Ministers were implicated; even Kerensky was under suspicion. (See App. II, Sect. 1) Savinkov, summoned to explain to the Central Committee of his party, the Socialist Revolutionaries, refused and was expelled. Kornilov was arrested by the Soldiers’ Committees. Generals were dismissed, Ministers suspended from their functions, and the Cabinet fell.
Kerensky tried to form a new Government, including the Cadets, party of the bourgeoisie. His party, the Socialist Revolutionaries, ordered him to exclude the Cadets. Kerensky declined to obey, and threatened to resign from the Cabinet if the Socialists insisted. However, popular feeling ran so high that for the moment he did not dare oppose it, and a temporary Directorate of Five of the old Ministers, with Kerensky at the head, assumed the power until the question should be settled.
The Kornilov affair drew together all the Socialist groups-“moderates” as well as revolutionists-in a passionate impulse of self-defence. There must be no more Kornilovs. A new Government must be created, responsible to the elements supporting the Revolution. So the Tsay-ee-kah invited the popular organisations to send delegates to a Democratic Conference, which should meet at Petrograd in September.
In the Tsay-ee-kah three factions immediately appeared. The Bolsheviki demanded that the All-Russian Congress of Soviets be summoned, and that they take over the power. The “centre” Socialist Revolutionaries, led by Tchernov, joined with the Left Socialist Revolutionaries, led by Kamkov and Spiridonova, the Mensheviki Internationalists under Martov, and the “centre” Mensheviki, [*] represented by Bogdanov and Skobeliev, in demanding a purely Socialist Government. Tseretelli, Dan and Lieber, at the head of the right wing Mensheviki, and the right Socialist Revolutionaries under Avksentiev and Gotz, insisted that the propertied classes must be represented in the new Government.
[* See Notes and Explanations.]
Almost immediately the Bolsheviki won a majority in the Petrograd Soviet, and the Soviets of Moscow, Kiev, Odessa and other cities followed suit.
Alarmed, the Mensheviki and Socialist Revolutionaries in control of the Tsay-ee-kah decided that after all they feared the danger of Kornilov less than the danger of Lenin. They revised the plan of representation in the Democratic Conference, (See App. II, Sect. 2) admitting more delegates from the Cooperative Societies and other conservative bodies. Even this packed assembly at first voted for a Coalition Government without the Cadets. Only Kerensky’s open threat of resignation, and the alarming cries of the “moderate” Socialists that “the Republic is in danger” persuaded the Conference, by a small majority, to declare in favour of the principle of coalition with the bourgeoisie, and to sanction the establishment of a sort of consultative Parliament, without any legislative power, called the Provisional Council of the Russian Republic. In the new Ministry the propertied classes practically controlled, and in the Council of the Russian Republic they occupied a disproportionate number of seats.
The fact is that the Tsay-ee-kah no longer represented the rank and file of the Soviets, and had illegally refused to call another All-Russian Congress of Soviets, due in September. It had no intention of calling this Congress or of allowing it to be called. Its official organ, Izviestia (News), began to hint that the function of the Soviets was nearly at an end, (See App. II, Sect. 3) and that they might soon be dissolved… At this time, too, the new Government announced as part of its policy the liquidation of “irresponsible organisations”-i.e. the Soviets.
The Bolsheviki responded by summoning the All-Russian Soviets to meet at Petrograd on November 2, and take over the Government of Russia. At the same time they withdrew from the Council of the Russian Republic, stating that they would not participate in a “Government of Treason to the People.” (See App. II, Sect. 4)
The withdrawal of the Bolsheviki, however, did not bring tranquillity to the ill-fated Council. The propertied classes, now in a position of power, became arrogant. The Cadets declared that the Government had no legal right to declare Russia a republic. They demanded stern measures in the Army and Navy to destroy the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Committees, and denounced the Soviets. On the other side of the chamber the Mensheviki Internationalists and the Left Socialist Revolutionaries advocated immediate peace, land to the peasants, and workers’ control of industry-practically the Bolshevik programme.
I heard Martov’s speech in answer to the Cadets. Stooped over the desk of the tribune like the mortally sick man he was, and speaking in a voice so hoarse it could hardly be heard, he shook his finger toward the right benches:
“You call us defeatists; but the real defeatists are those who wait for a more propitious moment to conclude peace, insist upon postponing peace until later, until nothing is left of the Russian army, until Russia becomes the subject of bargaining between the different imperialist groups…. You are trying to impose upon the Russian people a policy dictated by the interests of the bourgeoisie. The question of peace should be raised without delay…. You will see then that not in vain has been the work of those whom you call German agents, of those Zimmerwaldists [*] who in all the lands have prepared the awakening of the conscience of the democratic masses….”
[* Members of the revoloutionary internationalist wing of the Socialists of Europe, so-called because of their participation in the International Conference held at Zimmerwald, Switzerland, in 1915]
Between these two groups the Mensheviki and Socialist Revolutionaries wavered, irresistibly forced to the left by the pressure of the rising dissatisfaction of the masses. Deep hostility divided the chamber into irreconcilable groups.
This was the situation when the long-awaited announcement of the Allied Conference in Paris brought up the burning question of foreign policy….
Theoretically all Socialist parties in Russia were in favour of the earliest possible peace on democratic terms. As long ago as May, 1917, the Petrograd Soviet, then under control of the Mensheviki and Socialist Revolutionaries,had proclaimed the famous Russian peace-conditions. They had demanded that the Allies hold a conference to discuss war-aims. This conference had been promised for August; then postponed until September; then until October; and now it was fixed for November 10th.
The Provisional Government suggested two representatives-General Alexeyev, reactionary military man, and Terestchenko, Minister of Foreign Affairs. The Soviets chose Skobeliev to speak for them and drew up a manifesto, the famous nakaz– (See App. II, Sect. 5) instructions. The Provisional Government objected to Skobeliev and his nakaz; the Allied ambassadors protested and finally Bonar Law in the British House of Commons, in answer to a question, responded coldly, “As far as I know the Paris Conference will not discuss the aims of the war at all, but only the methods of conducting it….”
At this the conservative Russian press was jubilant, and the Bolsheviki cried, “See where the compromising tactics of the Mensheviki and Socialist Revolutionaries have led them!”
Along a thousand miles of front the millions of men in Russia’s armies stirred like the sea rising, pouring into the capital their hundreds upon hundreds of delegations, crying “Peace! Peace!”
I went across the river to the Cirque Moderne, to one of the great popular meetings which occurred all over the city, more numerous night after night. The bare, gloomy amphitheatre, lit by five tiny lights hanging from a thin wire, was packed from the ring up the steep sweep of grimy benches to the very roof-soldiers, sailors, workmen, women, all listening as if their lives depended upon it. A soldier was speaking-from the Five Hundred and Forty-eight Division, wherever and whatever that was:
“Comrades,” he cried, and there was real anguish in his drawn face and despairing gestures. “The people at the top are always calling upon us to sacrifice more, sacrifice more, while those who have everything are left unmolested.
“We are at war with Germany. Would we invite German generals to serve on our Staff? Well we’re at war with the capitalists too, and yet we invite them into our Government….
“The soldier says, ‘Show me what I am fighting for. Is it Constantinople, or is it free Russia? Is it the democracy, or is it the capitalist plunderers? If you can prove to me that I am defending the Revolution then I’ll go out and fight without capital punishment to force me.’
“When the land belongs to the peasants, and the factories to the workers, and the power to the Soviets, then we’ll know we have something to fight for, and we’ll fight for it!”
In the barracks, the factories, on the street-corners, end less soldier speakers, all clamouring for an end to the war, declaring that if the Government did not make an energetic effort to get peace, the army would leave the trenches and go home.
The spokesman for the Eighth Army:
“We are weak, we have only a few men left in each company. They must give us food and boots and reinforcements, or soon there will be left only empty trenches. Peace or supplies… either let the Government end the war or support the Army….”
For the Forty-sixth Siberian Artillery:
“The officers will not work with our Committees, they betray us to the enemy, they apply the death penalty to our agitators; and the counter-revolutionary Government supports them. We thought that the Revolution would bring peace. But now the Government forbids us even to talk of such things, and at the same time doesn’t give us enough food to live on, or enough ammunition to fight with….”
From Europe came rumours of peace at the expense of Russia. (See App. II, Sect. 6)…
News of the treatment of Russian troops in France added to the discontent. The First Brigade had tried to replace its officers with Soldiers’ Committees, like their comrades at home, and had refused an order to go to Salonika, demanding to be sent to Russia. They had been surrounded and starved, and then fired on by artillery, and many killed. (See App. II, Sect. 7)…
On October 29th I went to the white-marble and crimson hall of the Marinsky palace, where the Council of the Republic sat, to hear Terestchenko’s declaration of the Government’s foreign policy, awaited with such terrible anxiety by all the peace-thirsty and exhausted land.
A tall, impeccably-dressed young man with a smooth face and high cheek-bones, suavely reading his careful, non-committal speech. (See App. II, Sect. 8) Nothing…. Only the same platitudes about crushing German militarism with the help of the Allies-about the “state interests” of Russia, about the “embarrassment” caused by Skobeliev’s nakaz. He ended with the key-note:
“Russia is a great power. Russia will remain a great power, whatever happens. We must all defend her, we must show that we are defenders of a great ideal, and children of a great power.”
Nobody was satisfied. The reactionaries wanted a “strong” imperialist policy; the democratic parties wanted an assurance that the Government would press for peace…. I reproduce an editorial in Rabotchi i Soldat (Worker and Soldier), organ of the Bolshevik Petrograd Soviet:
THE GOVERNMENT’S ANSWER TO THE TRENCHES
The most taciturn of our Ministers, Mr. Terestchenko, has actually told the trenches the following:
1. We are closely united with our Allies. (Not with the peoples, but with the Governments.)
2. There is no use for the democracy to discuss the possibility or impossibility of a winter campaign. That will be decided by the Governments of our Allies.
3. The 1st of July offensive was beneficial and a very happy affair. (He did not mention the consequences.)
4. It is not true that our Allies do not care about us. The Minister has in his possession very important declarations. (Declarations? What about deeds? What about the behaviour of the British fleet? (See App. II, Sect. 9) The parleying of the British king with exiled counter-revolutionary General Gurko? The Minister did not mention all this.)
5. The nakaz to Skobeliev is bad; the Allies don’t like it and the Russian diplomats don’t like it. In the Allied Conference we must all ‘speak one language.’
And is that all? That is all. What is the way out? The solution is, faith in the Allies and in Terestchenko. When will peace come? When the Allies permit.
That is how the Government replied to the trenches about peace!
Now in the background of Russian politics began to form the vague outlines of a sinister power-the Cossacks. Novaya Zhizn (New Life), Gorky’s paper, called attention to their activities:
At the beginning of the Revolution the Cossacks refused to shoot down the people. When Kornilov marched on Petrograd they refused to follow him. From passive loyalty to the Revolution the Cossacks have passed to an active political offensive (against it). From the back-ground of the Revolution they have suddenly advanced to the front of the stage….
Kaledin, ataman of the Don Cossacks, had been dismissed by the Provisional Government for his complicity in the Kornilov affair. He flatly refused to resign, and surrounded by three immense Cossack armies lay at Novotcherkask, plotting and menacing. So great was his power that the Government was forced to ignore his insubordination. More than that, it was compelled formally to recognise the Council of the Union of Cossack Armies, and to declare illegal the newly-formed Cossack Section of the Soviets….
In the first part of October a Cossack delegation called upon Kerensky, arrogantly insisting that the charges against Kaledin be dropped, and reproaching the Minister-President for yielding to the Soviets. Kerensky agreed to let Kaledin alone, and then is reported to have said, “In the eyes of the Soviet leaders I am a despot and a tyrant…. As for the Provisional Government, not only does it not depend upon the Soviets, but it considers it regrettable that they exist at all.”
At the same time another Cossack mission called upon the British ambassador, treating with him boldly as representatives of “the free Cossack people.”
In the Don something very like a Cossack Republic had been established. The Kuban declared itself an independent Cossack State. The Soviets of Rostov-on-Don and Yekaterinburg were dispersed by armed Cossacks, and the headquarters of the Coal Miners’ Union at Kharkov raided. In all its manifestations the Cossack movement was anti-Socialist and militaristic. Its leaders were nobles and great land-owners, like Kaledin, Kornilov, Generals Dutov, Karaulov and Bardizhe, and it was backed by the powerful merchants and bankers of Moscow….
Old Russia was rapidly breaking up. In Ukraine, in Finland, Poland, White Russia, the nationalist movements gathered strength and became bolder. The local Governments, controlled by the propertied classes, claimed autonomy, refusing to obey orders from Petrograd. At Helsingfors the Finnish Senate declined to loan money to the Provisional Government, declared Finland autonomous, and demanded the withdrawal of Russian troops. The bourgeois Rada at Kiev extended the boundaries of Ukraine until they included all the richest agricultural lands of South Russia, as far east as the Urals, and began the formation of a national army. Premier Vinnitchenko hinted at a separate peace with Germany-and the Provisional Government was helpless. Siberia, the Caucasus, demanded separate Constituent Assemblies. And in all these countries there was the beginning of a bitter struggle between the authorities and the local Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies….
Conditions were daily more chaotic. Hundreds of thousands of soldiers were deserting the front and beginning to move in vast, aimless tides over the face of the land. The peasants of Tambov and Tver Governments, tired of waiting for the land, exasperated by the repressive measures of the Government, were burning manor-houses and massacring land-owners. Immense strikes and lock-outs convulsed Moscow, Odessa and the coal-mines of the Don. Transportation was paralysed; the army was starving and in the big cities there was no bread.
The Government, torn between the democratic and reactionary factions, could do nothing: when forced to act it always supported the interests of the propertied classes. Cossacks were sent to restore order among the peasants, to break the strikes. In Tashkent, Government authorities suppressed the Soviet. In Petrograd the Economic Council, established to rebuild the shattered economic life of the country, came to a deadlock between the opposing forces of capital and labour, and was dissolved by Kerensky. The old régime military men, backed by Cadets, demanded that harsh measures be adopted to restore discipline in the Army and the Navy. In vain Admiral Verderevsky, the venerable Minister of Marine, and General Verkhovsky, Minister of War, insisted that only a new, voluntary, democratic discipline, based on cooperation with the soldiers’ and sailors’ Committees, could save the army and navy. Their recommendations were ignored.
The reactionaries seemed determined to provoke popular anger. The trial of Kornilov was coming on. More and more openly the bourgeois press defended him, speaking of him as “the great Russian patriot.” Burtzev’s paper, Obshtchee Dielo (Common Cause), called for a dictatorship of Kornilov, Kaledin and Kerensky!
I had a talk with Burtzev one day in the press gallery of the Council of the Republic. A small, stooped figure with a wrinkled face, eyes near-sighted behind thick glasses, untidy hair and beard streaked with grey.
“Mark my words, young man! What Russia needs is a Strong Man. We should get our minds off the Revolution now and concentrate on the Germans. Bunglers, bunglers, to defeat Kornilov; and back of the bunglers are the German agents. Kornilov should have won….”
On the extreme right the organs of the scarcely-veiled Monarchists, Purishkevitch’s Narodny Tribun (People’s Tribune), Novaya Rus (New Russia), and Zhivoye Slovo (Living Word), openly advocated the extermination of the revolutionary democracy….
On the 23rd of October occurred the naval battle with a German squadron in the Gulf of Riga. On the pretext that Petrograd was in danger, the Provisional Government drew up plans for evacuating the capital. First the great munitions works were to go, distributed widely throughout Russia; and then the Government itself was to move to Moscow. Instantly the Bolsheviki began to cry out that the Government was abandoning the Red Capital in order to weaken the Revolution. Riga had been sold to the Germans; now Petrograd was being betrayed!
The bourgeois press was joyful. “At Moscow,” said the Cadet paper Ryetch (Speech), “the Government can pursue its work in a tranquil atmosphere, without being interfered with by anarchists.” Rodzianko, leader of the right wing of the Cadet party, declared in Utro Rossii (The Morning of Russia) that the taking of Petrograd by the Germans would be a blessing, because it would destroy the Soviets and get rid of the revolutionary Baltic Fleet:
Petrograd is in danger (he wrote). I say to myself, “Let God take care of Petrograd.” They fear that if Petrograd is lost the central revolutionary organisations will be destroyed. To that I answer that I rejoice if all these organisations are destroyed; for they will bring nothing but disaster upon Russia….
With the taking of Petrograd the Baltic Fleet will also be destroyed…. But there will be nothing to regret; most of the battleships are completely demoralised….
In the face of a storm of popular disapproval the plan of evacuation was repudiated.
Meanwhile the Congress of Soviets loomed over Russia like a thunder-cloud, shot through with lightnings. It was opposed, not only by the Government but by all the “moderate” Socialists. The Central Army and Fleet Committees, the Central Committees of some of the Trade Unions, the Peasants’ Soviets, but most of all the Tsay-ee-kah itself, spared no pains to prevent the meeting. Izviestia and Golos Soldata (Voice of the Soldier), newspapers founded by the Petrograd Soviet but now in the hands of the Tsay-ee-kah, fiercely assailed it, as did the entire artillery of the Socialist Revolutionary party press, Dielo Naroda (People’s Cause) and Volia Naroda (People’s Will).
Delegates were sent through the country, messages flashed by wire to committees in charge of local Soviets, to Army Committees, instructing them to halt or delay elections to the Congress. Solemn public resolutions against the Congress, declarations that the democracy was opposed to the meeting so near the date of the Constituent Assembly, representatives from the Front, from the Union of Zemstvos, the Peasants’ Union, Union of Cossack Armies, Union of Officers, Knights of St. George, Death Battalions, [*] protesting…. The Council of the Russian Republic was one chorus of disapproval. The entire machinery set up by the Russian Revolution of March functioned to block the Congress of Soviets….
[*See Notes and Explanations.]
On the other hand was the shapeless will of the proletariat-the workmen, common soldiers and poor peasants. Many local Soviets were already Bolshevik; then there were the organisations of the industrial workers, the Fabritchno-Zavodskiye Comitieti– Factory-Shop Committees; and the insurgent Army and Fleet organisations. In some places the people, prevented from electing their regular Soviet delegates, held rump meetings and chose one of their number to go to Petrograd. In others they smashed the old obstructionist committees and formed new ones. A ground-swell of revolt heaved and cracked the crust which had been slowly hardening on the surface of revolutionary fires dormant all those months. Only an spontaneous mass-movement could bring about the All-Russian Congress of Soviets….
Day after day the Bolshevik orators toured the barracks and factories, violently denouncing “this Government of civil war.” One Sunday we went, on a top-heavy steam tram that lumbered through oceans of mud, between stark factories and immense churches, to Obukhovsky Zavod, a Government munitions-plant out on the Schlüsselburg Prospekt.
The meeting took place between the gaunt brick walls of a huge unfinished building, ten thousand black-clothed men and women packed around a scaffolding draped in red, people heaped on piles of lumber and bricks, perched high upon shadowy girders, intent and thunder-voiced. Through the dull, heavy sky now and again burst the sun, flooding reddish light through the skeleton windows upon the mass of simple faces upturned to us.
Lunatcharsky, a slight, student-like figure with the sensitive face of an artist, was telling why the power must be taken by the Soviets. Nothing else could guarantee the Revolution against its enemies, who were deliberately ruining the country, ruining the army, creating opportunities for a new Konilov.
A soldier from the Rumanian front, thin, tragical and fierce, cried, “Comrades! We are starving at the front, we are stiff with cold. We are dying for no reason. I ask the American comrades to carry word to America, that the Russians will never give up their Revolution until they die. We will hold the fort with all our strength until the peoples of the world rise and help us! Tell the American workers to rise and fight for the Social Revolution!”
Then came Petrovsky, slight, slow-voiced, implacable: “Now is the time for deeds, not words. The economic situation is bad, but we must get used to it. They are trying to starve us and freeze us. They are trying to provoke us. But let them know that they can go too far-that if they dare to lay their hands upon the organisations of the proletariat we will sweep them away like scum from the face of the earth!”
The Bolshevik press suddenly expanded. Besides the two party papers, Rabotchi Put and Soldat (Soldier), there appeared a new paper for the peasants, Derevenskaya Byednota (Village Poorest), poured out in a daily half-million edition; and on October 17th, Rabotchi i Soldat. Its leading article summed up the Bolshevik point of view:
The fourth year’s campaign will mean the annihilation of the army and the country…. There is danger for the safety of Petrograd…. Counter-revolutionists rejoice in the people’s misfortunes…. The peasants brought to desperation come out in open rebellion; the landlords and Government authorities massacre them with punitive expeditions; factories and mines are closing down, workmen are threatened with starvation…. The bourgeoisie and its Generals want to restore a blind discipline in the army…. Supported by the bourgeoisie, the Kornilovtsi are openly getting ready to break up the meeting of the Constituent Assembly….
The Kerensky Government is against the people. He will destroy the country…. This paper stands for the people and by the people-the poor classes, workers, soldiers and peasants. The people can only be saved by the completion of the Revolution… and for this purpose the full power must be in the hands of the Soviets….
This paper advocates the following: All power to the Soviets-both in the capital and in the provinces.
Immediate truce on all fronts. An honest peace between peoples.
Landlord estates-without compensation-to the peasants.
Workers’ control over industrial production.
A faithfully and honestly elected Constituent Assembly.
It is interesting to reproduce here a passage from that same paper-the organ of those Bolsheviki so well known to the world as German agents:
The German kaiser, covered with the blood of millions of dead people, wants to push his army against Petrograd. Let us call to the German workmen, soldiers and peasants, who want peace not less than we do, to… stand up against this damned war!
This can be done only by a revolutionary Government, which would speak really for the workmen, soldiers and peasants of Russia, and would appeal over the heads of the diplomats directly to the German troops, fill the German trenches with proclamations in the German language…. Our airmen would spread these proclamations all over Germany….
In the Council of the Republic the gulf between the two sides of the chamber deepened day by day.
“The propertied classes,” cried Karelin, for the Left Socialist Revolutionaries, “want to exploit the revolutionary machine of the State to bind Russia to the war-chariot of the Allies! The revolutionary parties are absolutely against this policy….”
Old Nicholas Tchaikovsky, representing the Populist Socialists, spoke against giving the land to the peasants, and took the side of the Cadets: “We must have immediately strong discipline in the army…. Since the beginning of the war I have not ceased to insist that it is a crime to undertake social and economic reforms in war-time. We are committing that crime, and yet I am not the enemy of these reforms, because I am a Socialist.”
Cries from the Left, “We don’t believe you!” Mighty applause from the Right….
Adzhemov, for the Cadets, declared that there was no necessity to tell the army what it was fighting for, since every soldier ought to realise that the first task was to drive the enemy from Russian territory.
Kerensky himself came twice, to plead passionately for national unity, once bursting into tears at the end. The assembly heard him coldly, interrupting with ironical remarks.
Smolny Institute, headquarters of the Tsay-ee-kah and of the Petrograd Soviet, lay miles out on the edge of the city, beside the wide Neva. I went there on a street-car, moving snail-like with a groaning noise through the cobbled, muddy streets, and jammed with people. At the end of the line rose the graceful smoke-blue cupolas of Smolny Convent outlined in dull gold, beautiful; and beside it the great barracks like façade of Smolny Institute, two hundred yards long and three lofty stories high, the Imperial arms carved hugely in stone still insolent over the entrance….
Under the old régime a famous convent-school for the daughters of the Russian nobility, patronised by the Tsarina herself, the Institute had been taken over by the revolutionary organisations of workers and soldiers. Within were more than a hundred huge rooms, white and bare, on their doors enamelled plaques still informing the passerby that within was “Ladies’ Class-room Number 4” or “Teachers’ Bureau”; but over these hung crudely-lettered signs, evidence of the vitality of the new order: “Central Committee of the Petrograd Soviet” and “Tsay-ee-kah” and “Bureau of Foreign Affairs”; “Union of Socialist Soldiers,” “Central Committee of the All-Russian Trade Unions,” “Factory-Shop Committees,” “Central Army Committee”; and the central offices and caucus-rooms of the political parties….
The long, vaulted corridors, lit by rare electric lights, were thronged with hurrying shapes of soldiers and workmen, some bent under the weight of huge bundles of newspapers, proclamations, printed propaganda of all sorts. The sound of their heavy boots made a deep and incessant thunder on the wooden floor…. Signs were posted up everywhere: “Comrades! For the sake of your health, preserve cleanliness!” Long tables stood at the head of the stairs on every floor, and on the landings, heaped with pamphlets and the literature of the different political parties, for sale….
The spacious, low-ceilinged refectory downstairs was still a dining-room. For two rubles I bought a ticket entitling me to dinner, and stood in line with a thousand others, waiting to get to the long serving-tables, where twenty men and women were ladling from immense cauldrons cabbage soup, hunks of meat and piles of kasha, slabs of black bread. Five kopeks paid for tea in a tin cup. From a basket one grabbed a greasy wooden spoon…. The benches along the wooden tables were packed with hungry proletarians, wolfing their food, plotting, shouting rough jokes across the room….
[Graphic page-33 — text of placard in russian, translation follows]
COMRADES: FOR THE SAKE OF YOUR HEALTH,
PRESERVE CLEANLINESS.
Upstairs was another eating-place, reserved for the Tsay-ee-kah– though every one went there. Here could be had bread thickly buttered and endless glasses of tea….
In the south wing on the second floor was the great hall of meetings, the former ball-room of the Institute. A lofty white room lighted by glazed-white chandeliers holding hundreds of ornate electric bulbs, and divided by two rows of massive columns; at one end a dais, flanked with two tall many-branched light standards, and a gold frame behind, from which the Imperial portrait had been cut. Here on festal occasions had been banked brilliant military and ecclesiastical uniforms, a setting for Grand Duchesses….
Just across the hall outside was the office of the Credentials Committee for the Congress of Soviets. I stood there watching the new delegates come in-burly, bearded soldiers, workmen in black blouses, a few long-haired peasants. The girl in charge-a member of Plekhanov’s Yedinstvo [*] group-smiled contemptuously. “These are very different people from the delegates to the first Siezd (Congress),” she remarked. “See how rough and ignorant they look! The Dark People….” It was true; the depths of Russia had been stirred, and it was the bottom which came uppermost now. The Credentials Committee, appointed by the old Tsay-ee-kah, was challenging delegate after delegate, on the ground that they had been illegally elected. Karakhan, member of the Bolshevik Central Committee, simply grinned. “Never mind,” he said, “When the time comes we’ll see that you get your seats….”
[* See Notes and Explanations]
Rabotchi i Soldat said:
The attention of delegates to the new All-Russian Congress is called to attempts of certain members of the Organising Committee to break up the Congress, by asserting that it will not take place, and that delegates had better leave Petrograd…. Pay no attention to these lies…. Great days are coming….
It was evident that a quorum would not come together by November 2, so the opening of the Congress was postponed to the 7th. But the whole country was now aroused; and the Mensheviki and Socialist Revolutionaries, realising that they were defeated, suddenly changed their tactics and began to wire frantically to their provincial organisations to elect as many “moderate” Socialist delegates as possible. At the same time the Executive Committee of the Peasants’ Soviets issued an emergency call for a Peasants’ Congress, to meet December 13th and offset whatever action the workers and soldiers might take…
What would the Bolsheviki do? Rumours ran through the city that there would be an armed “demonstration,” a vystuplennie-“coming out” of the workers and soldiers. The bourgeois and reactionary press prophesied insurrection, and urged the Government to arrest the Petrograd Soviet, or at least to prevent the meeting of the Congress. Such sheets as Novaya Rus advocated a general Bolshevik massacre.
Gorky’s paper, Novaya Zhizn, agreed with the Bolsheviki that the reactionaries were attempting to destroy the Revolution, and that if necessary they must be resisted by force of arms; but all the parties of the revolutionary democracy must present a united front.
As long as the democracy has not organised its principal forces, so long as the resistance to its influence is still strong, there is no advantage in passing to the attack. But if the hostile elements appeal to force, then the revolutionary democracy should enter the battle to seize the power, and it will be sustained by the most profound strata of the people….
Gorky pointed out that both reactionary and Government newspapers were inciting the Bolsheviki to violence. An insurrection, however, would prepare the way for a new Kornilov. He urged the Bolsheviki to deny the rumours. Potressov, in the Menshevik Dien (Day), published a sensational story, accompanied by a map, which professed to reveal the secret Bolshevik plan of campaign.
As if by magic, the walls were covered with warnings, (See App. II, Sect. 10) proclamations, appeals, from the Central Committees of the “moderate” and conservative factions and the Tsay-ee-kah, denouncing any “demonstrations,” imploring the workers and soldiers not to listen to agitators. For instance, this from the Military Section of the Socialist Revolutionary party:
Again rumours are spreading around the town of an intended vystuplennie. What is the source of these rumours? What organisation authorises these agitators who preach insurrection? The Bolsheviki, to a question addressed to them in the Tsay-ee-kah, denied that they have anything to do with it…. But these rumours themselves carry with them a great danger. It may easily happen that, not taking into consideration the state of mind of the majority of the workers, soldiers and peasants, individual hot-heads will call out part of the workers and soldiers on the streets, inciting them to an uprising…. In this fearful time through which revolutionary Russia is passing, any insurrection can easily turn into civil war, and there can result from it the destruction of all organisations of the proletariat, built up with so much labour…. The counter-revolutionary plotters are planning to take advantage of this insurrection to destroy the Revolution, open the front to Wilhelm, and wreck the Constituent Assembly…. Stick stubbornly to your posts! Do not come out!
On October 28th, in the corridors of Smolny, I spoke with Kameniev, a little man with a reddish pointed beard and Gallic gestures. He was not at all sure that enough delegates would come. “If there is a Congress,” he said, “it will represent the overwhelming sentiment of the people. If the majority is Bolshevik, as I think it will be, we shall demand that the power be given to the Soviets, and the Provisional Government must resign….”
Volodarsky, a tall, pale youth with glasses and a bad complexion, was more definite. “The ‘Lieber-Dans’ and the other compromisers are sabotaging the Congress. If they succeed in preventing its meeting,-well, then we are realists enough not to depend on that!”
Under date of October 29th I find entered in my notebook the following items culled from the newspapers of the day:
Moghilev (General Staff Headquarters). Concentration here of loyal Guard Regiments, the Savage Division, Cossacks and Death Battalions.
The yunkers of the Officers’ Schools of Pavlovsk, Tsarskoye Selo and Peterhof ordered by the Government to be ready to come to Petrograd. Oranienbaum yunkers arrive in the city.
Part of the Armoured Car Division of the Petrograd garrism stationed in the Winter Palace.
Upon orders signed by Trotzky, several thousand rifles delivered by the Government Arms Factory at Sestroretzk to delegates of the Petrograd workmen.
At a meeting of the City Militia of the Lower Liteiny Quarter, a resolution demanding that all power be given to the Soviets.
This is just a sample of the confused events of those feverish days, when everybody knew that something was going to happen, but nobody knew just what.
At a meeting of the Petrograd Soviet in Smolny, the night of October 30th, Trotzky branded the assertions of the bourgeois press that the Soviet contemplated armed insurention as “an attempt of the reactionaries to discredit and wreck the Congress of Soviets…. The Petrograd Soviet,” he declared, “had not ordered any uystuplennie. If it is necessary we shall do so, and we will be supported by the Petrogruad garrison…. They (the Government) are preparing a counter-revolution; and we shall answer with an offensive which will be merciless and decisive.”
It is true that the Petrograd Soviet had not ordered a demonstration, but the Central Committee of the Bolshevik party was considering the question of insurrection. All night long the 23d they met. There were present all the party intellectuals, the leaders-and delegates of the Petrograd workers and garrison. Alone of the intellectuals Lenin and Trotzky stood for insurrection. Even urrection. Even | | the military men opposed it. A vote was taken. Insurrection was defeated!
Then arose a rough workman, his face convulsed with rage. “I speak for the Petrograd proletariat,” he said, harshly. “We are in favour of insurrection. Have it your own way, but I tell you now that if you allow the Soviets to be destroyed, we’re through with you!” Some soldiers joined him…. And after that they voted again-insurrection won….
However, the right wing of the Bolsheviki, led by Riazanov, Kameniev and Zinoviev, continued to campaign against an armed rising. On the morning of October 31st appeared in Rabotchi Put the first instalment of Lenin’s “Letter to the Comrades,” (See App. II, Sect. 11) one of the most audacious pieces of political propaganda the world has ever seen. In it Lenin seriously presented the arguments in favour of insurrection, taking as text the objections of Kameniev and Riazonov.
“Either we must abandon our slogan, ‘All Power to the Soviets,’ ” he wrote, “or else we must make an insurrection. There is no middle course….”
That same afternoon Paul Miliukov, leader of the Cadets, made a brilliant, bitter speech (See App. II, Sect. 12) in the Council of the Republic, branding the Skobeliev nakaz as pro-German, declaring that the “revolutionary democracy” was destroying Russia, sneering at Terestchenko, and openly declaring that he preferred German diplomacy to Russian…. The Left benches were one roaring tumult all through….
On its part the Government could not ignore the significance of the success of the Bolshevik propaganda. On the 29th joint commission of the Government and the Council of the Republic hastily drew up two laws, one for giving the land temporarily to the peasants, and the other for pushing an energetic foreign policy of peace. The next day Kerensky suspended capital punishment in the army. That same afternoon was opened with great ceremony the first session of the new “Commission for Strengthening the Republican Régime and Fighting Against Anarchy and Counter-Revolution”-of which history shows not the slightest further trace…. The following morning with two other correspondents I interviewed Kerensky (See App. II, Sect. 13)-the last time he received journalists.
“The Russian people,” he said, bitterly, “are suffering from economic fatigue-and from disillusionment with the Allies! The world thinks that the Russian Revolution is at an end. Do not be mistaken. The Russian Revolution is just beginning….” Words more prophetic, perhaps, than he knew.
Stormy was the all-night meeting of the Petrograd Soviet the 30th of October, at which I was present. The “moderate” Socialist intellectuals, officers, members of Army Committees, the Tsay-ee-kah, were there in force. Against them rose up workmen, peasants and common soldiers, passionate and simple.
A peasant told of the disorders in Tver, which he said were caused by the arrest of the Land Committees. “This Kerensky is nothing but a shield to the pomieshtchiki (landowners),” he cried. “They know that at the Constituent Assembly we will take the land anyway, so they are trying to destroy the Constituent Assembly!”
A machinist from the Putilov works described how the superintendents were closing down the departments one by one on the pretext that there was no fuel or raw materials. The Factory-Shop Committee, he declared, had discovered huge hidden supplies.
“It is a provocatzia,” said he. “They want to starve us-or drive us to violence!”
Among the soldiers one began, “Comrades! I bring you greetings from the place where men are digging their graves and call them trenches!”
Then arose a tall, gaunt young soldier, with flashing eyes, met with a roar of welcome. It was Tchudnovsky, reported killed in the July fighting, and now risen from the dead.
“The soldier masses no longer trust their officers. Even the Army Committees, who refused to call a meeting of our Soviet, betrayed us…. The masses of the soldiers want the Constituent Assembly to be held exactly when it was called for, and those who dare to postpone it will be cursed-and not only platonic curses either, for the Army has guns too….”
He told of the electoral campaign for the Constituent now raging in the Fifth Army. “The officers, and especially the Mensheviki and the Socialist Revolutionaries, are trying deliberately to cripple the Bolsheviki. Our papers are not allowed to circulate in the trenches. Our speakers are arrested-“
“Why don’t you speak about the lack of bread?” shouted another soldier.
“Man shall not live by bread alone,” answered Tchudnovsky, sternly….
Followed him an officer, delegate from the Vitebsk Soviet, a Menshevik oboronetz. “It isn’t the question of who has the power. The trouble is not with the Government, but with the war…. and the war must be won before any change-” At this, hoots and ironical cheers. “These Bolshevik agitators are demagogues!” The hall rocked with laughter. “Let us for a moment forget the class struggle-” But he got no farther. A voice yelled, “Don’t you wish we would!”
Petrograd presented a curious spectacle in those days. In the factories the committe-rooms were filled with stacks of rifles, couriers came and went, the Red Guard [*] drilled…. In all the barracks meetings every night, and all day long interminable hot arguments. On the streets the crowds thickened toward gloomy evening, pouring in slow voluble tides up and down the Nevsky, fighting for the newspapers…. Hold-ups increased to such an extent that it was dangerous to walk down side streets…. On the Sadovaya one afternoon I saw a crowd of several hundred people beat and trample to death a soldier caught stealing…. Mysterious individuals circulated around the shivering women who waited in queue long cold hours for bread and milk, whispering that the Jews had cornered the food supply-and that while the people starved, the Soviet members lived luxuriously….
[* See Notes and Explanations]
At Smolny there were strict guards at the door and the outer gates, demanding everybody’s pass. The committee-rooms buzzed and hummed all day and all night, hundreds of soldiers and workmen slept on the floor, wherever they could find room. Upstairs in the great hall a thousand people crowded to the uproarious sessions of the Petrograd Soviet….
Gambling clubs functioned hectically from dusk to dawn, with champagne flowing and stakes of twenty thousand rubles. In the centre of the city at night prostitutes in jewels and expensive furs walked up and down, crowded the cafés….
Monarchist plots, German spies, smugglers hatching schemes….
And in the rain, the bitter chill, the great throbbing city under grey skies rushing faster and faster toward-what?
John Reed- Ten Days That Shook the World (1919) Preface & Chapter I “The Background”

Monday, November 21, 2016

John Reed- Ten Days That Shook the World (1919) Preface & Chapter I “The Background”

https://communismgr.blogspot.com/2016/11/john-reed-ten-days-that-shook-world.html
Ten Days That Shook the World.
By John Reed.
PREFACE.
This book is a slice of intensified history—history as I saw it. It does not pretend to be anything but a detailed account of the November Revolution, when the Bolsheviki, at the head of the workers and soldiers, seized the state power of Russia and placed it in the hands of the Soviets.
Naturally most of it deals with “Red Petrograd,” the capital and heart of the insurrection. But the reader must realize that what took place in Petrograd was almost exactly duplicated, with greater or lesser intensity, at different intervals of time, all over Russia.
In this book, the first of several which I am writing, I must confine myself to a chronicle of those events which I myself observed and experienced, and those supported by reliable evidence; preceded by two chapters briefly outlining the background and causes of the November Revolution. I am aware that these two chapters make difficult reading, but they are essential to an understanding of what follows.
Many questions will suggest themselves to the mind of the reader. What is Bolshevism? What kind of a governmental structure did the Bolsheviki set up? If the Bolsheviki championed the Constituent Assembly before the November Revolution, why did they disperse it by force of arms afterward? And if the bourgeoisie opposed the Constituent Assembly until the danger of Bolshevism became apparent, why did they champion it afterward?
These and many other questions cannot be answered here. In another volume, “Kornilov to Brest-Litovsk,” I trace the course of the Revolution up to and including the German peace. There I explain the origin and functions of the Revolutionary organisations, the evolution of popular sentiment, the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly, the structure of the Soviet state, and the course and outcome of the Brest- Litovsk negotiations….
In considering the rise of the Bolsheviki it is necessary to understand that Russian economic life and the Russian army were not disorganised on November 7th, 1917, but many months before, as the logical result of a process which began as far back as 1915. The corrupt reactionaries in control of the Tsar’s Court deliberately undertook to wreck Russia in order to make a separate peace with Germany. The lack of arms on the front, which had caused the great retreat of the summer of 1915, the lack of food in the army and in the great cities, the break-down of manufactures and transportation in 1916—all these we know now were part of a gigantic campaign of sabotage. This was halted just in time by the March Revolution.
For the first few months of the new régime, in spite of the confusion incident upon a great Revolution, when one hundred and sixty millions of the world’s most oppressed peoples suddenly achieved liberty, both the internal situation and the combative power of the army actually improved.
But the “honeymoon” was short. The propertied classes wanted merely a political revolution, which would take the power from the Tsar and give it to them. They wanted Russia to be a constitutional Republic, like France or the United States; or a constitutional Monarchy, like England. On the other hand, the masses of the people wanted real industrial and agrarian democracy.
William English Walling, in his book, “Russia’s Message,” an account of the Revolution of 1905, describes very well the state of mind of the Russian workers, who were later to support Bolshevism almost unanimously:
They (the working people) saw it was possible that even under a free Government, if it fell into the hands of other social classes, they might still continue to starve….
The Russian workman is revolutionary, but he is neither violent, dogmatic, nor unintelligent. He is ready for barricades, but he has studied them, and alone of the workers of the world he has learned about them from actual experience. He is ready and willing to fight his oppressor, the capitalist class, to a finish. But he does not ignore the existence of other classes. He merely asks that the other classes take one side or the other in the bitter conflict that draws near….
They (the workers) were all agreed that our (American) political institutions were preferable to their own, but they were not very anxious to exchange one despot for another (i.e., the capitalist class)….
The workingmen of Russia did not have themselves shot down, executed by hundreds in Moscow, Riga and Odessa, imprisoned by thousands in every Russian jail, and exiled to the deserts and the arctic regions, in exchange for the doubtful privileges of the workingmen of Goldfields and Cripple Creek….
And so developed in Russia, in the midst of a foreign war, the Social Revolution on top of the Political Revolution, culminating in the triumph of Bolshevism.
Mr. A. J. Sack, director in this country of the Russian Information Bureau, which opposes the Soviet Government, has this to say in his book, “The Birth of the Russian Democracy”: The Bolsheviks organised their own cabinet, with Nicholas Lenine as Premier and Leon Trotsky— Minister of Foreign Affairs. The inevitability of their coming into power became evident almost immediately after the March Revolution. The history of the Bolsheviki, after the Revolution, is a history of their steady growth….
Foreigners, and Americans especially, frequently emphasise the “ignorance” of the Russian workers. It is true they lacked the political experience of the peoples of the West, but they were very well trained in voluntary organisation. In 1917 there were more than twelve million members of the Russian consumers’ Cooperative societies; and the Soviets themselves are a wonderful demonstration of their organising genius. Moreover, there is probably not a people in the world so well educated in Socialist theory and its practical application.
William English Walling thus characterises them:
The Russian working people are for the most part able to read and write. For many years the country has been in such a disturbed condition that they have had the advantage of leadership not only of intelligent individuals in their midst, but of a large part of the equally revolutionary educated class, who have turned to the working people with their ideas for the political and social regeneration of Russia….
Many writers explain their hostility to the Soviet Government by arguing that the last phase of the Russian Revolution was simply a struggle of the “respectable” elements against the brutal attacks of Bolshevism. However, it was the propertied classes, who, when they realised the growth in power of the popular revolutionary organisations, undertook to destroy them and to halt the Revolution. To this end the propertied classes finally resorted to desperate measures. In order to wreck the Kerensky Ministry and the Soviets, transportation was disorganised and internal troubles provoked; to crush the Factory- Shop Committees, plants were shut down, and fuel and raw materials diverted; to break the Army Committees at the front, capital punishment was restored and military defeat connived at.
This was all excellent fuel for the Bolshevik fire. The Bolsheviki retorted by preaching the class war, and by asserting the supremacy of the Soviets.
Between these two extremes, with the other factions which whole- heartedly or half-heartedly supported them, were the so-called “moderate” Socialists, the Mensheviki and Socialist Revolutionaries, and several smaller parties. These groups were also attacked by the propertied classes, but their power of resistance was crippled by their theories.
Roughly, the Mensheviki and Socialist Revolutionaries believed that Russia was not economically ripe for a social revolution—that only a political revolution was possible. According to their interpretation, the Russian masses were not educated enough to take over the power; any attempt to do so would inevitably bring on a reaction, by means of which some ruthless opportunist might restore the old régime. And so it followed that when the “moderate” Socialists were forced to assume the power, they were afraid to use it.
They believed that Russia must pass through the stages of political and economic development known to Western Europe, and emerge at last, with the rest of the world, into full-fledged Socialism. Naturally, therefore, they agreed with the propertied classes that Russia must first be a parliamentary state—though with some improvements on the Western democracies. As a consequence, they insisted upon the collaboration of the propertied classes in the Government.
From this it was an easy step to supporting them. The “moderate” Socialists needed the bourgeoisie. But the bourgeoisie did not need the “moderate” Socialists. So it resulted in the Socialist Ministers being obliged to give way, little by little, on their entire program, while the propertied classes grew more and more insistent.
And at the end, when the Bolsheviki upset the whole hollow compromise, the Mensheviki and Socialist Revolutionaries found themselves fighting on the side of the propertied classes…. In almost every country in the world to-day the same phenomenon is visible.
Instead of being a destructive force, it seems to me that the Bolsheviki were the only party in Russia with a constructive program and the power to impose it on the country. If they had not succeeded to the Government when they did, there is little doubt in my mind that the armies of Imperial Germany would have been in Petrograd and Moscow in December, and Russia would again be ridden by a Tsar….
It is still fashionable, after a whole year of the Soviet Government, to speak of the Bolshevik insurrection as an “adventure.” Adventure it was, and one of the most marvellous mankind ever embarked upon, sweeping into history at the head of the toiling masses, and staking everything on their vast and simple desires. Already the machinery had been set up by which the land of the great estates could be distributed among the peasants. The Factory-Shop Committees and the Trade Unions were there to put into operation workers’ control of industry. In every village, town, city, district and province there were Soviets of Workers’, Soldiers’ and Peasants’ Deputies, prepared to assume the task of local administration.
No matter what one thinks of Bolshevism, it is undeniable that the Russian Revolution is one of the great events of human history, and the rise of the Bolsheviki a phenomenon of world-wide importance. Just as historians search the records for the minutest details of the story of the Paris Commune, so they will want to know what happened in Petrograd in November, 1917, the spirit which animated the people, and how the leaders looked, talked and acted. It is with this in view that I have written this book.
In the struggle my sympathies were not neutral. But in telling the story of those great days I have tried to see events with the eye of a conscientious reporter, interested in setting down the truth. J. R. New York, January 1st 1919.

Notes and Explanations[edit]

To the average reader the multiplicity of Russian organisations-political groups, Committees and Central Committees, Soviets, Dumas and Unions-will prove extremely confusing. For this reason I am giving here a few brief definitions and explanations.
Political Parties
In the elections to the Constituent Assembly, there were seventeen tickets in Petrograd, and in some of the provincial towns as many as forty; but the following summary of the aims and composition of political parties is limited to the groups and factions mentioned in this book. Only the essence of their programmes and the general character of their constituencies can be noticed….
1. Monarchists, of various shades, Octobrists, etc. These once-powerful factions no longer existed openly; they either worked underground, or their members joined the Cadets, as the Cadets came by degrees to stand for their political programme. Representatives in this book, Rodzianko, Shulgin.
2. Cadets. So-called from the initials of its name, Constitutional Democrats. Its official name is “Party of the People’s Freedom.” Under the Tsar composed of Liberals from the propertied classes, the Cadets were the great party of political reform, roughly corresponding to the Progressive Party in America. When the Revolution broke out in March, 1917, the Cadets formed the first Provisional Government. The Cadet Ministry was overthrown in April because it declared itself in favour of Allied imperialistic aims, including the imperialistic aims of the Tsar’s Government. As the Revolution became more and more a social economic Revolution, the Cadets grew more and more conservative. Its representatives in this book are: Miliukov, Vinaver, Shatsky.
2a. Group of Public Men. After the Cadets had become unpopular through their relations with the Kornilov counter-revolution, the Group of Public Men was formed in Moscow. Delegates from the Group of Public Men were given portfolios in the last Kerensky Cabinet. The Group declared itself non-partisan, although its intellectual leaders were men like Rodzianko and Shulgin. It was composed of the more “modern” bankers, merchants and manufacturers, who were intelligent enough to realise that the Soviets must be fought by their own weapon-economic organisation. Typical of the Group: Lianozov, Konovalov.
3. Populist Socialists, or Trudoviki (Labour Group). Numerically a small party, composed of cautious intellectuals, the leaders of the Cooperative societies, and conservative peasants. Professing to be Socialists, the Populists really supported the interests of the petty bourgeoisie-clerks, shopkeepers, etc. By direct descent, inheritors of the compromising tradition of the Labour Group in the Fourth Imperial Duma, which was composed largely of peasant representatives. Kerensky was the leader of the Trudoviki in the Imperial Duma when the Revolution of March, 1917, broke out. The Populist Socialists are a nationalistic party. Their representatives in this book are: Peshekhanov, Tchaikovsky.
4. Russian Social Democratic Labour Party. Originally Marxian Socialists. At a party congress held in 1903, the party split, on the question of tactics, into two factions-the Majority (Bolshinstvo), and the Minority (Menshinstvo). From this sprang the names “Bolsheviki” and “Mensheviki”-“members of the majority” and “members of the minority.” These two wings became two separate parties, both calling themselves “Russian Social Democratic Labour Party,” and both professing to be Marxians. Since the Revolution of 1905 the Bolsheviki were really the minority, becoming again the majority in September, 1917.
a. Mensheviki. This party includes all shades of Socialists who believe that society must progress by natural evolution toward Socialism, and that the working-class must conquer political power first. Also a nationalistic party. This was the party of the Socialist intellectuals, which means: all the means of education having been in the hands of the propertied classes, the intellectuals instinctively reacted to their training, and took the side of the propertied classes. Among their representatives in this book are: Dan, Lieber, Tseretelli.
b. Mensheviki Internationalists. The radical wing of the Mensheviki, internationalists and opposed to all coalition with the propertied classes; yet unwilling to break loose from the conservative Mensheviki, and opposed to the dictatorship of the working-class advocated by the Bolsheviki. Trotzky was long a member of this group. Among their leaders: Martov, Martinov.
c. Bolsheviki. Now call themselves the Communist Party, in order to emphasise their complete separation from the tradition of “moderate” or “parliamentary” Socialism, which dominates the Mensheviki and the so-called Majority Socialists in all countries. The Bolsheviki proposed immediate proletarian insurrection, and seizure of the reins of Government, in order to hasten the coming of Socialism by forcibly taking over industry, land, natural resources and financial institutions. This party expresses the desires chiefly of the factory workers, but also of a large section of the poor peasants. The name “Bolshevik” can not be translated by “Maximalist.” The Maximalists are a separate group. (See paragraph 5b). Among the leaders: Lenin, Trotzky, Lunatcharsky.
d. United Social Democrats Internationalists. Also called the Novaya Zhizn (New Life) group, from the name of the very influential newspaper which was its organ. A little group of intellectuals with a very small following among the working-class, except the personal following of Maxim Gorky, its leader. Intellectuals, with almost the same programme as the Mensheviki Internationalists, except that the Novaya Zhizn group refused to be tied to either of the two great factions. Opposed the Bolshevik tactics, but remained in the Soviet Government. Other representatives in this book: Avilov, Kramarov.
e. Yedinstvo. A very small and dwindling group, composed almost entirely of the personal following of Plekhanov, one of the pioneers of the Russian Social Democratic movement in the 80’s, and its greatest theoretician. Now an old man, Plekhanov was extremely patriotic, too conservative even for the Mensheviki. After the Bolshevik coup d’etatYedinstvo disappeared.
5. Socialist Revolutionary party. Called Essaires from the initials of their name. Originally the revolutionary party of the peasants, the party of the Fighting Organisations-the Terrorists. After the March Revolution, it was joined by many who had never been Socialists. At that time it stood for the abolition of private property in land only, the owners to be compensated in some fashion. Finally the increasing revolutionary feeling of peasants forced the Essaires to abandon the “compensation” clause, and led to the younger and more fiery intellectuals breaking off from the main party in the fall of 1917 and forming a new party, the Left Socialist Revolutionary party. The Essaires, who were afterward always called by the radical groups “Right Socialist Revolutionaries,” adopted the political attitude of the Mensheviki, and worked together with them. They finally came to represent the wealthier peasants, the intellectuals, and the politically uneducated populations of remote rural districts. Among them there was, however, a wider difference of shades of political and economic opinion than among the Mensheviki. Among their leaders mentioned in these pages: Avksentiev, Gotz, Kerensky, Tchernov, “Babuschka” Breshkovskaya.
a. Left Socialist Revolutionaries. Although theoretically sharing the Bolshevik programme of dictatorship of the working-class, at first were reluctant to follow the ruthless Bolshevik tactics. However, the Left Socialist Revolutionaries remained in the Soviet Government, sharing the Cabinet portfolios, especially that of Agriculture. They withdrew from the Government several times, but always returned. As the peasants left the ranks of the Essaires in increasing numbers, they joined the Left Socialist Revolutionary party, which became the great peasant party supporting the Soviet Government, standing for confiscation without compensation of the great landed estates, and their disposition by the peasants themselves. Among the leaders: Spiridonova, Karelin, Kamkov, Kalagayev.
b. Maximalists. An off-shoot of the Socialist Revolutionary party in the Revolution of 1905, when it was a powerful peasant movement, demanding the immediate application of the maximum Socialist programme. Now an insignificant group of peasant anarchists.
Parliamentary Procedure
Russian meetings and conventions are organised after the continental model rather than our own. The first action is usually the election of officers and the presidium.
The presidium is a presiding committee, composed of representatives of the groups and political factions represented in the assembly, in proportion to their numbers. The presidium arranges the Order of Business, and its members can be called upon by the President to take the chair pro tem.
Each question (vopros) is stated in a general way and then debated, and at the close of the debate resolutions are submitted by the different factions, and each one voted on separately. The Order of Business can be, and usually is, smashed to pieces in the first half hour. On the plea of “emergency,” which the crowd almost always grants, anybody from the floor can get up and say anything on any subject. The crowd controls the meeting, practically the only functions of the speaker being to keep order by ringing a little bell, and to recognise speakers. Almost all the real work of the session is done in caucuses of the different groups and political factions, which almost always cast their votes in a body and are represented by floor-leaders. The result is, however, that at every important new point, or vote, the session takes a recess to enable the different groups and political factions to hold a caucus.
The crowd is extremely noisy, cheering or heckling speakers, over-riding the plans of the presidium. Among the customary cries are: “Prosim! Please! Go on!” “Pravilno!” or “Eto vierno! That’s true! Right!” “Do volno! Enough!” “Doloi! Down with him!” “Posor! Shame!” and “Teesche! Silence! Not so noisy!”
Popular Organisations
1. Soviet. The word soviet means “council.” Under the Tsar the Imperial Council of State was called Gosudarstvennyi Soviet. Since the Revolution, however, the term Soviet has come to be associated with a certain type of parliament elected by members of working-class economic organisations-the Soviet of Workers’, of Soldiers’, or of Peasants’ Deputies. I have therefore limited the word to these bodies, and wherever else it occurs I have translated it “Council.”
Besides the local Soviets, elected in every city, town and village of Russia-and in large cities, also Ward (Raionny) Soviets-there are also the oblastne or gubiernsky (district or provincial) Soviets, and the Central Executive Committee of the All-Russian Soviets in the capital, called from its initials Tsay-ee-kah. (See below, “Central Committees”).
Almost everywhere the Soviets of Workers’ and of Soldiers’ Deputies combined very soon after the March Revolution. In special matters concerning their peculiar interests, however, the Workers’ and the Soldiers’ Sections continued to meet separately. The Soviets of Peasants’ Deputies did not join the other two until after the Bolshevik coup d’etat. They, too, were organised like the workers and soldiers, with an Executive Committee of the All-Russian Peasants’ Soviets in the capital.
2. Trade Unions. Although mostly industrial in form, the Russian labour unions were still called Trade Unions, and at the time of the Bolshevik Revolution had from three to four million members. These Unions were also organised in an All-Russian body, a sort of Russian Federation of Labour, which had its Central Executive Committee in the capital.
3. Factory-Shop Committees. These were spontaneous organisations created in the factories by the workers in their attempt to control industry, taking advantage of the administrative break-down incident upon the Revolution. Their function was by revolutionary action to take over and run the factories. The Factory-Shop Committees also had their All-Russian organisation, with a Central Committee at Petrograd, which co-operated with the Trade Unions.
4. Dumas. The word duma means roughly “deliberative body.” The old Imperial Duma, which persisted six months after the Revolution, in a democratised form, died a natural death in September, 1917. The City Duma referred to in this book was the reorganised Municipal Council, often called “Municipal Self-Government.” It was elected by direct and secret ballot, and its only reason for failure to hold the masses during the Bolshevik Revolution was the general decline in influence of all purely political representation in the fact of the growing power of organisations based on economic groups.
5. Zemstvos. May be roughly translated “county councils.” Under the Tsar semi-political, semi-social bodies with very little administrative power, developed and controlled largely by intellectual Liberals among the land-owning classes. Their most important function was education and social service among the peasants. During the war the Zemstvos gradually took over the entire feeding and clothing of the Russian Army, as well as the buying from foreign countries, and work among the soldiers generally corresponding to the work of the American Y. M. C. A. at the Front. After the March Revolution the Zemstvos were democratized, with a view to making them the organs of local government in the rural districts. But like the City Dumas, they could not compete with the Soviets.
6. Cooperatives. These were the workers’ and peasants’ Consumers’ Cooperative societies, which had several million members all over Russia before the Revolution. Founded by Liberals and “moderate” Socialists, the Cooperative movement was not supported by the revolutionary Socialist groups, because it was a substitute for the complete transference of means of production and distribution into the hands of the workers. After the March Revolution the Cooperatives spread rapidly, and were dominated by Populist Socialists, Mensheviki and Socialist Revolutionaries, and acted as a conservative political force until the Bolshevik Revolution. However, it was the Cooperatives which fed Russia when the old structure of commerce and transportation collapsed.
7. Army Committees. The Army Committees were formed by the soldiers at the front to combat the reactionary influence of the old regime officers. Every company, regiment, brigade, division and corps had its committee, over all of which was elected the Army Committee. The Central Army Committee cooperated with the General Staff. The administrative break-down in the army incident upon the Revolution threw upon the shoulders of the Army Committees most of the work of the Quartermaster’s Department, and in some cases, even the command of troops.
8. Fleet Committees. The corresponding organisations in the Navy.
Central Committees
In the spring and summer of 1917, All-Russian conventions of every sort of organisation were held at Petrograd. There were national congresses of Workers’, Soldiers’ and Peasants’ Soviets, Trade Unions, Factory-Shop Committees, Army and Fleet Committees-besides every branch of the military and naval service, Cooperatives, Nationalities, etc. Each of these conventions elected a Central Committee, or a Central Executive Committee, to guard its particular interests at the seat of Government. As the Provisional Government grew weaker, these Central Committees were forced to assume more and more administrative powers.
The most important Central Committees mentioned in this book are:
Union of Unions. During the Revolution of 1905, Professor Miliukov and other Liberals established unions of professional men-doctors, lawyers, physicians, etc. These were united under one central organisation, the Union of Unions. In 1905 the Union of Unionsacted with the revolutionary democracy; in 1917, however, the Union of Unions opposed the Bolshevik uprising, and united the Government employees who went on strike against the authority of the Soviets.
Tsay-ee-kah. All-Russian Central Executive Committee of the Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies. So called from the initials of its name.
Tsentroflot. “Centre-Fleet”-the Central Fleet Committee.
Vikzhel. All-Russian Central Committee of the Railway Workers’ Union. So called from the initials of its name.
Other Organisations
Red Guards. The armed factory workers of Russia. The Red Guards were first formed during the Revolution of 1905, and sprang into existence again in the days of March, 1917, when a force was needed to keep order in the city. At that time they were armed, and all efforts of the Provisional Government to disarm them were more or less unsuccessful. At every great crisis in the Revolution the Red Guards appeared on the streets, untrained and undisciplined, but full of Revolutionary zeal.
White Guards. Bourgeois volunteers, who emerged in the last stages of the Revolution, to defend private property from the Bolshevik attempt to abolish it. A great many of them were University students.
Tekhintsi. The so-called “Savage Division” in the army, made up of Mohametan tribesmen from Central Asia, and personally devoted to General Kornilov. The Tekhintsi were noted for their blind obedience and their savage cruelty in warfare.
Death Battalions. Or Shock Battalions. The Women’s Battalion is known to the world as the Death Battalion, but there were many Death Battalions composed of men. These were formed in the summer of 1917 by Kerensky, for the purpose of strengthening the discipline and combative fire of the army by heroic example. The Death Battalions were composed mostly of intense young patriots. These came for the most part from among the sons of the propertied classes.
Union of Officers. An organisation formed among the reactionary officers in the army to combat politically the growing power of the Army Committees.
Knights of St. George. The Cross of St. George was awarded for distinguished action in battle. Its holder automatically became a “Knight of St. George.” The predominant influence in the organisation was that of the supporters of the military idea.
Peasants’ Union. In 1905, the Peasants’ Union was a revolutionary peasants’ organisation. In 1917, however, it had become the political expression of the more prosperous peasants, to fight the growing power and revolutionary aims of the Soviets of Peasants’ Deputies.
Chronology and Spelling
I have adopted in this book our Calendar throughout, instead of the former Russian Calendar, which was thirteen days earlier.
In the spelling of Russian names and words, I have made no attempt to follow any scientific rules for transliteration, but have tried to give the spelling which would lead the English-speaking reader to the simplest approximation of their pronunciation.
Sources
Much of the material in this book is from my own notes. I have also relied, however, upon a heterogeneous file of several hundred assorted Russian newspapers, covering almost every day of the time described, of files of the English paper, the Russian Daily News, and of the two French papers, Journal de Russie and Entente. But far more valuable than these is the Bulletin de la Presse issued daily by the French Information Bureau in Petrograd, which reports all important happenings, speeches and the comment of the Russian press. Of this I have an almost complete file from the spring of 1917 to the end of January, 1918.
Besides the foregoing, I have in my possession almost every proclamation, decree and announcement posted on the walls of Petrograd from the middle of September, 1917, to the end of January, 1918. Also the official publication of all Government decrees and orders, and the official Government publication of the secret treaties and other documents discovered in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs when the Bolsheviki took it over.
CHAPTER I: THE BACKGROUND.
Toward the end of September, 1917, an alien Professor of Sociology visiting Russia came to see me in Petrograd. He had been informed by business men and intellectuals that the Revolution was slowing down. The Professor wrote an article about it, and then travelled around the country, visiting factory towns and peasant communities-where, to his astonishment, the Revolution seemed to be speeding up. Among the wage-earners and the land-working people it was common to hear talk of “all land to the peasants, all factories to the workers.” If the Professor had visited the front, he would have heard the whole Army talking Peace….
The Professor was puzzled, but he need not have been; both observations were correct. The property-owning classes were becoming more conservative, the masses of the people more radical.
There was a feeling among business men and the intelligentzia generally that the Revolution had gone quite far enough, and lasted too long; that things should settle down. This sentiment was shared by the dominant “moderate” Socialist groups, the oborontsi (See App. I, Sect. 1) Mensheviki and Socialist Revolutionaries, who supported the Provisional Government of Kerensky.
On October 14th the official organ of the “moderate” Socialists said:
The drama of Revolution has two acts; the destruction of the old régime and the creation of the new one. The first act has lasted long enough. Now it is time to go on to the second, and to play it as rapidly as possible. As a great revolutionist put it, “Let us hasten, friends, to terminate the Revolution. He who makes it last too long will not gather the fruits….”
Among the worker, soldier and peasant masses, however, there was a stubborn feeling that the “first act” was not yet played out. On the front the Army Committees were always running foul of officers who could not get used to treating their men like human beings; in the rear the Land Committees elected by the peasants were being jailed for trying to carry out Government regulations concerning the land; and the workmen (See App. I, Sect. 2) in the factories were fighting black-lists and lockouts. Nay, furthermore, returning political exiles were being excluded from the country as “undesirable” citizens; and in some cases, men who returned from abroad to their villages were prosecuted and imprisoned for revolutionary acts committed in 1905.
To the multiform discontent of the people the “moderate” Socialists had one answer: Wait for the Constituent Assembly, which is to meet in December. But the masses were not satisfied with that. The Constituent Assembly was all well and good; but there were certain definite things for which the Russian Revolution had been made, and for which the revolutionary martyrs rotted in their stark Brotherhood Grave on Mars Field, that must be achieved Constituent Assembly or no Constituent Assembly: Peace, Land, and Workers’ Control of Industry. The Constituent Assembly had been postponed and postponed-would probably be postponed again, until the people were calm enough-perhaps to modify their demands! At any rate, here were eight months of the Revolution gone, and little enough to show for it….
Meanwhile the soldiers began to solve the peace question by simply deserting, the peasants burned manor-houses and took over the great estates, the workers sabotaged and struck…. Of course, as was natural, the manufacturers, land-owners and army officers exerted all their influence against any democratic compromise….
The policy of the Provisional Government alternated between ineffective reforms and stern repressive measures. An edict from the Socialist Minister of Labour ordered all the Workers’ Committees henceforth to meet only after working hours. Among the troops at the front, “agitators” of opposition political parties were arrested, radical newspapers closed down, and capital punishment applied-to revolutionary propagandists. Attempts were made to disarm the Red Guard. Cossacks were sent to keep order in the provinces….
These measures were supported by the “moderate” Socialists and their leaders in the Ministry, who considered it necessary to cooperate with the propertied classes. The people rapidly deserted them, and went over to the Bolsheviki, who stood for Peace, Land, and Workers’ Control of Industry, and a Government of the working-class. In September, 1917, matters reached a crisis. Against the overwhelming sentiment of the country, Kerensky and the “moderate” Socialists succeeded in establishing a Government of Coalition with the propertied classes; and as a result, the Mensheviki and Socialist Revolutionaries lost the confidence of the people forever.
An article in Rabotchi Put (Workers’ Way) about the middle of October, entitled “The Socialist Ministers,” expressed the feeling of the masses of the people against the “moderate” Socialists:
Here is a list of their services.(See App. I, Sect. 3)
Tseretelli: disarmed the workmen with the assistance of General Polovtsev, checkmated the revolutionary soldiers, and approved of capital punishment in the army.
Skobeliev: commenced by trying to tax the capitalists 100% of their profits, and finished-and finished by an attempt to dissolve the Workers’ Committees in the shops and factories.
Avksentiev: put several hundred peasants in prison, members of the Land Committees, and suppressed dozens of workers’ and soldiers’ newspapers.
Tchernov: signed the “Imperial” manifest, ordering the dissolution of the Finnish Diet.
Savinkov: concluded an open alliance with General Kornilov. If this saviour of the country was not able to betray Petrograd, it was due to reasons over which he had no control.
Zarudny: with the sanction of Alexinsky and Kerensky, put some of the best workers of the Revolution, soldiers and sailors, in prison.
Nikitin: acted as a vulgar policeman against the Railway Workers.
Kerensky: it is better not to say anything about him. The list of his services is too long….
A Congress of delegates of the Baltic Fleet, at Helsingfors, passed a resolution which began as follows:
We demand the immediate removal from the ranks of the Provisional Government of the “Socialist,” the political adventurer-Kerensky, as one who is scandalising and ruining the great Revolution, and with it the revolutionary masses, by his shameless political blackmail on behalf of the bourgeoisie….
The direct result of all this was the rise of the Bolsheviki….
Since March, 1917, when the roaring torrents of workmen and soldiers beating upon the Tauride Palace compelled the reluctant Imperial Duma to assume the supreme power in Russia, it was the masses of the people, workers, soldiers and peasants, which forced every change in the course of the Revolution. They hurled the Miliukov Ministry down; it was their Soviet which proclaimed to the world the Russian peace terms-“No annexations, no indemnities, and the right of self-determination of peoples”; and again, in July, it was the spontaneous rising of the unorganised proletariat which once more stormed the Tauride Palace, to demand that the Soviets take over the Government of Russia.
The Bolsheviki, then a small political sect, put themselves at the head of the movement. As a result of the disastrous failure of the rising, public opinion turned against them, and their leaderless hordes slunk back into the Viborg Quarter, which is Petrograd’s St. Antoine. Then followed a savage hunt of the Bolsheviki; hundreds were imprisoned, among them Trotzky, Madame Kollontai and Kameniev; Lenin and Zinoviev went into hiding, fugitives from justice; the Bolshevik papers were suppressed. Provocators and reactionaries raised the cry that the Bolsheviki were German agents, until people all over the world believed it.
But the Provisional Government found itself unable to substantiate its accusations; the documents proving pro-German conspiracy were discovered to be forgeries; [*] and one by one the Bolsheviki were released from prison without trial, on nominal or no bail-until only six remained. The impotence and indecision of the ever-changing Provisional Government was an argument nobody could refute. The Bolsheviki raised again the slogan so dear to the masses, “All Power to the Soviets!”-and they were not merely self-seeking, for at that time the majority of the Soviets was “moderate” Socialist, their bitter enemy.
[*Part of the famous “Sisson Documents”]
But more potent still, they took the crude, simple desires of the workers, soldiers and peasants, and from them built their immediate programme. And so, while the oborontsi Mensheviki and Socialist Revolutionaries involved themselves in compromise with the bourgeoisie, the Bolsheviki rapidly captured the Russian masses. In July they were hunted and despised; by September the metropolitan workmen, the sailors of the Baltic Fleet, and the soldiers, had been won almost entirely to their cause. The September municipal elections in the large cities (See App. I, Sect. 4) were significant; only 18 per cent of the returns were Menshevik and Socialist Revolutionary, against more than 70 per cent in June….
There remains a phenomenon which puzzled foreign observers: the fact that the Central Executive Committees of the Soviets, the Central Army and Fleet Committees, [*1] and the Central Committees of some of the Unions-notably, the Post and Telegraph Workers and the Railway Workers-opposed the Bolsheviki with the utmost violence. These Central Committees had all been elected in the middle of the summer, or even before, when the Mensheviki and Socialist Revolutionaries had an enormous following; and they delayed or prevented any new elections. Thus, according to the constitution of the Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies, the All-Russian Congress should have been called in September; but the Tsay-ee-kah [*2] would not call the meeting, on the ground that the Constituent Assembly was only two months away, at which time, they hinted, the Soviets would abdicate. Meanwhile, one by one, the Bolsheviki were winning in the local Soviets all over the country, in the Union branches and the ranks of the soldiers and sailors. The Peasants’ Soviets remained still conservative, because in the sluggish rural districts political consciousness developed slowly, and the Socialist Revolutionary party had been for a generation the party which had agitated among the peasants…. But even among the peasants a revolutionary wing was forming. It showed itself clearly in October, when the left wing of the Socialist Revolutionaries split off, and formed a new political faction, the Left Socialist Revolutionaries.
[*1 See Notes and Explanations.]
[*2 See Notes and Explanations.]
At the same time there were signs everywhere that the forces of reaction were gaining confidence.(See App. I, Sect. 5) At the Troitsky Farce theatre in Petrograd, for example, a burlesque called Sins of the Tsar was interrupted by a group of Monarchists, who threatened to lynch the actors for “insulting the Emperor.” Certain newspapers began to sigh for a “Russian Napoleon.” It was the usual thing among bourgeois intelligentzia to refer to the Soviets of Workers’ Deputies (Rabotchikh Deputatov) as SabatchikhDeputatov-Dogs’ Deputies.
On October 15th I had a conversation with a great Russian capitalist, Stepan Georgevitch Lianozov, known as the “Russian Rockefeller”-a Cadet by political faith.
“Revolution,” he said, “is a sickness. Sooner or later the foreign powers must intervene here-as one would intervene to cure a sick child, and teach it how to walk. Of course it would be more or less improper, but the nations must realise the danger of Bolshevism in their own countries-such contagious ideas as ‘proletarian dictatorship,’ and ‘world social revolution’… There is a chance that this intervention may not be necessary. Transportation is demoralised, the factories are closing down, and the Germans are advancing. Starvation and defeat may bring the Russian people to their senses….”
Mr. Lianozov was emphatic in his opinion that whatever happened, it would be impossible for merchants and manufacturers to permit the existence of the workers’ Shop Committees, or to allow the workers any share in the management of industry.
“As for the Bolsheviki, they will be done away with by one of two methods. The Government can evacuate Petrograd, then a state of siege declared, and the military commander of the district can deal with these gentlemen without legal formalities…. Or if, for example, the Constituent Assembly manifests any Utopian tendencies, it can be dispersed by force of arms….”
Winter was coming on-the terrible Russian winter. I heard business men speak of it so: “Winter was always Russia’s best friend. Perhaps now it will rid us of Revolution.” On the freezing front miserable armies continued to starve and die, without enthusiasm. The railways were breaking down, food lessening, factories closing. The desperate masses cried out that the bourgeoisie was sabotaging the life of the people, causing defeat on the Front. Riga had been surrendered just after General Kornilov said publicly, “Must we pay with Riga the price of bringing the country to a sense of its duty?” [*]
[* See “Kornilov to Brest-Litvosk” by John Reed. Boni and Liveright N.Y., 1919]
To Americans it is incredible that the class war should develop to such a pitch. But I have personally met officers on the Northern Front who frankly preferred military disaster to cooperation with the Soldiers’ Committees. The secretary of the Petrograd branch of the Cadet party told me that the break-down of the country’s economic life was part of a campaign to discredit the Revolution. An Allied diplomat, whose name I promised not to mention, confirmed this from his own knowledge. I know of certain coal-mines near Kharkov which were fired and flooded by their owners, of textile factories at Moscow whose engineers put the machinery out of order when they left, of railroad officials caught by the workers in the act of crippling locomotives….
A large section of the propertied classes preferred the Germans to the Revolution-even to the Provisional Government-and didn’t hesitate to say so. In the Russian household where I lived, the subject of conversation at the dinner table was almost invariably the coming of the Germans, bringing “law and order.”… One evening I spent at the house of a Moscow merchant; during tea we asked the eleven people at the table whether they preferred “Wilhelm or the Bolsheviki.” The vote was ten to one for Wilhelm…
The speculators took advantage of the universal disorganisation to pile up fortunes, and to spend them in fantastic revelry or the corruption of Government officials. Foodstuffs and fuel were hoarded, or secretly sent out of the country to Sweden. In the first four months of the Revolution, for example, the reserve food-supplies were almost openly looted from the great Municipal warehouses of Petrograd, until the two-years’ provision of grain had fallen to less than enough to feed the city for one month…. According to the official report of the last Minister of Supplies in the Provisional Government, coffee was bought wholesale in Vladivostok for two rubles a pound, and the consumer in Petrograd paid thirteen. In all the stores of the large cities were tons of food and clothing; but only the rich could buy them.
In a provincial town I knew a merchant family turned speculator-maradior (bandit, ghoul) the Russians call it. The three sons had bribed their way out of military service. One gambled in foodstuffs. Another sold illegal gold from the Lena mines to mysterious parties in Finland. The third owned a controlling interest in a chocolate factory, which supplied the local Cooperative societies-on condition that the Cooperatives furnished him everything he needed. And so, while the masses of the people got a quarter pound of black bread on their bread cards, he had an abundance of white bread, sugar, tea, candy, cake and butter…. Yet when the soldiers at the front could no longer fight from cold, hunger and exhaustion, how indignantly did this family scream “Cowards!”-how “ashamed” they were “to be Russians”… When finally the Bolsheviki found and requisitioned vast hoarded stores of provisions, what “Robbers” they were.
Beneath all this external rottenness moved the old-time Dark Forces, unchanged since the fall of Nicholas the Second, secret still and very active. The agents of the notorious Okhrana still functioned, for and against the Tsar, for and against Kerensky-whoever would pay…. In the darkness, underground organisations of all sorts, such as the Black Hundreds, were busy attempting to restore reaction in some form or other.
In this atmosphere of corruption, of monstrous half-truths, one clear note sounded day after day, the deepening chorus of the Bolsheviki, “All Power to the Soviets! All power to the direct representatives of millions on millions of common workers, soldiers, peasants. Land, bread, an end to the senseless war, an end to secret diplomacy, speculation, treachery…. The Revolution is in danger, and with it the cause of the people all over the world!”
The struggle between the proletariat and the middle class, between the Soviets and the Government, which had begun in the first March days, was about to culminate. Having at one bound leaped from the Middle Ages into the twentieth century, Russia showed the startled world two systems of Revolution-the political and the social-in mortal combat.
What a revelation of the vitality of the Russian Revolution, after all these months of starvation and disillusionment! The bourgeoisie should have better known its Russia. Not for a long time in Russia will the “sickness” of Revolution have run its course….
Looking back, Russia before the November insurrection seems of another age, almost incredibly conservative. So quickly did we adapt ourselves to the newer, swifter life; just as Russian politics swung bodily to the Left-until the Cadets were outlawed as “enemies of the people,” Kerensky became a “counter-revolutionist,” the “middle” Socialist leaders, Tseretelli, Dan, Lieber, Gotz and Avksentiev, were too reactionary for their following, and men like Victor Tchernov, and even Maxim Gorky, belonged to the Right Wing….
About the middle of December, 1917, a group of Socialist Revolutionary leaders paid a private visit to Sir George Buchanan, the British Ambassador, and implored him not to mention the fact that they had been there, because they were “considered too far Right.”
“And to think,” said Sir George. “One year ago my Government instructed me not to receive Miliukov, because he was so dangerously Left!”
September and October are the worst months of the Russian year-especially the Petrograd year. Under dull grey skies, in the shortening days, the rain fell drenching, incessant. The mud underfoot was deep, slippery and clinging, tracked everywhere by heavy boots, and worse than usual because of the complete break-down of the Municipal administration. Bitter damp winds rushed in from the Gulf of Finland, and the chill fog rolled through the streets. At night, for motives of economy as well as fear of Zeppelins, the street-lights were few and far between; in private dwellings and apartment-houses the electricity was turned on from six o’clock until midnight, with candles forty cents apiece and little kerosene to be had. It was dark from three in the afternoon to ten in the morning. Robberies and housebreakings increased. In apartment houses the men took turns at all-night guard duty, armed with loaded rifles. This was under the Provisional Government.
Week by week food became scarcer. The daily allowance of bread fell from a pound and a half to a pound, then three quarters, half, and a quarter-pound. Toward the end there was a week without any bread at all. Sugar one was entitled to at the rate of two pounds a month-if one could get it at all, which was seldom. A bar of chocolate or a pound of tasteless candy cost anywhere from seven to ten rubles-at least a dollar. There was milk for about half the babies in the city; most hotels and private houses never saw it for months. In the fruit season apples and pears sold for a little less than a ruble apiece on the street-corner….
For milk and bread and sugar and tobacco one had to stand in queue long hours in the chill rain. Coming home from an all-night meeting I have seen the kvost (tail) beginning to form before dawn, mostly women, some with babies in their arms…. Carlyle, in his French Revolution, has described the French people as distinguished above all others by their faculty of standing in queue. Russia had accustomed herself to the practice, begun in the reign of Nicholas the Blessed as long ago as 1915, and from then continued intermittently until the summer of 1917, when it settled down as the regular order of things. Think of the poorly-clad people standing on the iron-white streets of Petrograd whole days in the Russian winter! I have listened in the bread-lines, hearing the bitter, acrid note of discontent which from time to time burst up through the miraculous goodnature of the Russian crowd….
Of course all the theatres were going every night, including Sundays. Karsavina appeared in a new Ballet at the Marinsky, all dance-loving Russia coming to see her. Shaliapin was singing. At the Alexandrinsky they were reviving Meyerhold’s production of Tolstoy’s “Death of Ivan the Terrible”; and at that performance I remember noticing a student of the Imperial School of Pages, in his dress uniform, who stood up correctly between the acts and faced the empty Imperial box, with its eagles all erased…. The Krivoye Zerkalostaged a sumptuous version of Schnitzler’s “Reigen.”
Although the Hermitage and other picture galleries had been evacuated to Moscow, there were weekly exhibitions of paintings. Hordes of the female intelligentzia went to hear lectures on Art, Literature and the Easy Philosophies. It was a particularly active season for Theosophists. And the Salvation Army, admitted to Russia for the first time in history, plastered the walls with announcements of gospel meetings, which amused and astounded Russian audiences….
As in all such times, the petty conventional life of the city went on, ignoring the Revolution as much as possible. The poets made verses-but not about the Revolution. The realistic painters painted scenes from mediæval Russian history-anything but the Revolution. Young ladies from the provinces came up to the capital to learn French and cultivate their voices, and the gay young beautiful officers wore their gold-trimmed crimson bashliki and their elaborate Caucasian swords around the hotel lobbies. The ladies of the minor bureaucratic set took tea with each other in the afternoon, carrying each her little gold or silver or jewelled sugar-box, and half a loaf of bread in her muff, and wished that the Tsar were back, or that the Germans would come, or anything that would solve the servant problem…. The daughter of a friend of mine came home one afternoon in hysterics because the woman street-car conductor had called her “Comrade!”
All around them great Russia was in travail, bearing a new world. The servants one used to treat like animals and pay next to nothing, were getting independent. A pair of shoes cost more than a hundred rubles, and as wages averaged about thirty-five rubles a month the servants refused to stand in queue and wear out their shoes. But more than that. In the new Russia every man and woman could vote; there were working-class newspapers, saying new and startling things; there were the Soviets; and there were the Unions. The izvoshtchiki (cab-drivers) had a Union; they were also represented in the Petrograd Soviet. The waiters and hotel servants were organised, and refused tips. On the walls of restaurants they put up signs which read, “No tips taken here-” or, “Just because a man has to make his living waiting on table is no reason to insult him by offering him a tip!”
At the Front the soldiers fought out their fight with the officers, and learned self-government through their committees. In the factories those unique Russian organisations, the Factory-Shop Committees, [*] gained experience and strength and a realisation of their historical mission by combat with the old order. All Russia was learning to read, and reading-politics, economics, history-because the people wanted to know…. In every city, in most towns, along the Front, each political faction had its newspaper-sometimes several. Hundreds of thousands of pamphlets were distributed by thousands of organisations, and poured into the armies, the villages, the factories, the streets. The thirst for education, so long thwarted, burst with the Revolution into a frenzy of expression. From Smolny Institute alone, the first six months, went out every day tons, car-loads, train-loads of literature, saturating the land. Russia absorbed reading matter like hot sand drinks water, insatiable. And it was not fables, falsified history, diluted religion, and the cheap fiction that corrupts-but social and economic theories, philosophy, the works of Tolstoy, Gogol, and Gorky….
[* See Notes and Explanations]
Then the Talk, beside which Carlyle’s “flood of French speech” was a mere trickle. Lectures, debates, speeches-in theatres, circuses, school-houses, clubs, Soviet meeting-rooms, Union headquarters, barracks…. Meetings in the trenches at the Front, in village squares, factories…. What a marvellous sight to see Putilovsky Zavod (the Putilov factory) pour out its forty thousand to listen to Social Democrats, Socialist Revolutionaries, Anarchists, anybody, whatever they had to say, as long as they would talk! For months in Petrograd, and all over Russia, every street-corner was a public tribune. In railway trains, street-cars, always the spurting up of impromptu debate, everywhere….
And the All-Russian Conferences and Congresses, drawing together the men of two continents-conventions of Soviets, of Cooperatives, Zemstvos, [*] nationalities, priests, peasants, political parties; the Democratic Conference, the Moscow Conference, the Council of the Russian Republic. There were always three or four conventions going on in Petrograd. At every meeting, attempts to limit the time of speakers voted down, and every man free to express the thought that was in him….
[* See Notes and Explanations]
We came down to the front of the Twelfth Army, back of Riga, where gaunt and bootless men sickened in the mud of desperate trenches; and when they saw us they started up, with their pinched faces and the flesh showing blue through their torn clothing, demanding eagerly, “Did you bring anything to read?”
What though the outward and visible signs of change were many, what though the statue of Catharine the Great before the Alexandrinsky Theatre bore a little red flag in its hand, and others-somewhat faded-floated from all public buildings; and the Imperial monograms and eagles were either torn down or covered up; and in place of the fierce gorodovoye (city police) a mild-mannered and unarmed citizen militia patrolled the streets-still, there were many quaint anachronisms.
For example, Peter the Great’s Tabel o Rangov-Table of Ranks-which he rivetted upon Russia with an iron hand, still held sway. Almost everybody from the school-boy up wore his prescribed uniform, with the insignia of the Emperor on button and shoulder-strap. Along about five o’clock in the afternoon the streets were full of subdued old gentlemen in uniform, with portfolios, going home from work in the huge, barrack-like Ministries or Government institutions, calculating perhaps how great a mortality among their superiors would advance them to the coveted tchin (rank) of Collegiate Assessor, or Privy Councillor, with the prospect of retirement on a comfortable pension, and possibly the Cross of St. Anne….
There is the story of Senator Sokolov, who in full tide of Revolution came to a meeting of the Senate one day in civilian clothes, and was not admitted because he did not wear the prescribed livery of the Tsar’s service!
It was against this background of a whole nation in ferment and disintegration that the pageant of the Rising of the Russian Masses unrolled….
European Communist Initiative- Statement for the 99th Anniversary of the 1917 Great October Socialist Revolution

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

European Communist Initiative- Statement for the 99th Anniversary of the 1917 Great October Socialist Revolution

https://communismgr.blogspot.com/2016/11/european-communist-initiative-statement.html
Statement of the Secretariat of the European Communist Initiative for the 99th Anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution- Socialism is necessary and timely.
99 years ago, 7 November 1917, the Great October Socialist Revolution triumphed. We honor the memory of the Paris Commune. We honor and we are inspired by Marx, Engels, Lenin who guided the workers´ struggle for the socialist future documenting scientifically how to reach that goal.
What does the Great October mean for us, living in the 21st century?
1. The Great October showed to the whole of humankind that people can choose the socio-economic system that serves their interests, that capitalism is not the peak of human history; capitalism is moribund and cannot be repaired. It creates wars, exploitation, poverty, misery, unemployment, refugees. Humankind has another alternative, socialism.
2. The Great October demonstrated that people should take their fate into their own hands if they want to fundamentally change their lives. Capitalism is a society where capitalists own the means of production. The working class, the people are exploited for the profits of the capitalist class.
3. The Great October was the revolution of the workers and other working masses. It represented a deep change in society, a social revolution.
4. The Great October showed that workers and working masses can win only if they are guided by communist parties with revolutionary strategy. 99 years have passed since 1917 and demonstrate that the communists aim to overthrow capitalism for socialism. The bourgeois liberals, the social democrats, the opportunists want to manage capitalist barbarity.
5. The Great October showed that without organized, disciplined Marxist-Leninist parties with a strategy that aims to overthrow bourgeois power, the working class, the people cannot win.
6. The Great October of 1917 demonstrated that capitalism can be defeated. It opened the epoch of socialist revolutions. The Soviet Republics in Hungary, Slovakia, Bavaria in 1919, the socialist revolutions that followed, demonstrated that the socialist revolution is not an isolated Russian phenomenon but it is the common aspiration of the workers in many countries. The Great October gave impulse in the 1920’s to the birth of communist parties in Europe and all over the world, whose contribution has been significant in the victories of the peoples in the capitalist countries. The bourgeois classes made concessions under the pressure of the socialist states, concessions that nowadays are being abolished one by one.
It was capitalism which led to World War II. It was the socialist Soviet Union that made the greatest contribution to the great peoples´ anti-fascist victory. After the Second World War, states in Eastern and Central Europe, Asia, Latin America followed the socialist road.
Despite the setback, the counterrevolution, our epoch is the epoch of the transition from capitalism to socialism. There have been successes and failures, high tides and low tides of revolutions but it will inevitably lead to the global victory of socialism.
7. Capitalism cannot solve the problems of humankind. The development of science and technology would allow the creation of a good life for billions of people but capitalism is an obstacle to it. Socialism is an actual task.
Socialism, despite its weaknesses, solved basic problems such as work for all, free education and healthcare, safety for the future etc., that still afflict people under capitalism, even after decades. Socialism did not fail as various apologists of capitalism claim. The value of observing the laws of socialist construction was confirmed. Despite the lies, the anti-communist distortions, the anti-socialist propaganda, the falsification of history that in Europe is led by the bourgeois governments and the EU, the peoples and especially young people who have not known socialism can search for the historical truth and play a leading role in the development of the class struggle against their exploiters and the capitalist system.
8. The Great October confirmed that socialism is the social system where political power is in the hands of the working class in a scientifically planned economy which aims to satisfy people’s needs, and is not ruled by the anarchy of the market economy, competition and capitalist barbarity.
***
In 2017 we will witness the 100th Anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution. Let us celebrate together this outstanding event for the working class all over the world which had a decisive influence on the world and opened new perspectives for the international labour movement.
Let us strengthen the revolutionary unity of the communists of the world, millions and millions of working people who fight against the power of the monopolies, who fight for the formation of the alliance of the working class and the poor popular strata for the overthrow of the system of exploitation of man by man, for the new world, for socialism-communism!
Speech by Giorgos Marinos, KKE Politburo member, at the 18th International Meeting of Communist and Workers Parties

Friday, October 28, 2016

Speech by Giorgos Marinos, KKE Politburo member, at the 18th International Meeting of Communist and Workers Parties

https://communismgr.blogspot.com/2016/10/speech-by-giorgos-marinos-kke-politburo.html
“Capitalist crisis and imperialist offensive-Strategy and Tactics of the Communist and Workers Parties in the struggle for peace, workers’ and people’s rights, for socialism.” – Speech by Giorgos Marinos, member of the Political Bureau of the CC of KKE at the 18th International Meeting of Communist and Workers Parties. 
 
Source: inter.kke.gr.
Dear comrades,
The Communist Party of Greece salutes the 18th International Meeting of the Communist and Workers Parties and warmly thanks the CP of Vietnam for its hospitality.
Our party has expressed its internationalist solidarity and has stood for many decades at the side of the Vietnamese people in their struggle against French and Japanese colonialism, against the imperialist intervention and crimes of the USA.
The glorious victory of the working class, of the people of Vietnam under the leadership of the Communist Party and its leader comrade Ho Chi Minh was a great victory of international significance and demonstrated that when the people are determined, well organized and armed, they can defeat the strongest opponents-dynasts and break the shackles of exploitation and oppression.
The history of the communist movement is full of heroic pages and is a valuable source for study and the drawing of conclusions that will lend strength to the communists so that they can meet the challenge of the complex conditions of the class struggle, fighting for the overthrow of capitalist exploitation and the construction of socialism-communism.
Dear comrades,
The international, synchronized capitalist crisis of capital over-accumulation that manifested itself in 2008-2009 leaves its mark on the developments up until today and its causes are to be found in the capitalist ownership of the means of production, the profit motive which is the motor force of anarchic development, in the sharpening of the basic contradiction between the social character of production-labour and the capitalist appropriation of its results.
Bourgeois and opportunist forces are silent about the real causes of the crisis and present other factors as being the causes e.g. neoliberal management, the banks and bankers. This causes confusion and fosters illusions about the potential for a pro-people management of capitalism.
The reality is that regardless of whether the form of the crisis’ outbreak is connected to disturbances in the banking-financial system, to “bubbles” and other similar phenomena, the crisis is born in the productive process on the terrain of the exploitation of wage labour by capital.
The general staffs of the imperialist organizations are once again concerned. The capitalist machine is not advancing, the studies of the bourgeoisie are revising the growth indicators to lower levels, the crisis is continuing in countries with an intermediate position in the imperialist system like Greece, as well as in stronger ones like Russia and Brazil. We are witnessing stagnation in the EU and Eurozone and a slowdown of the Chinese economy.
The assessments for the next period take into account the impact of the imperialist competition and wars, the problematic situation of financial institutions (Deutsche Bank, Italian banks etc.), the consequences of Brexit.
In these complex conditions, the analysis of the communists about the real causes of the crisis as well as the class character of capitalist growth acquire great importance for the preparation of the labour-people’s movement and the strengthening of the class struggle, so that the importance of the socialist organization of production is understood by the working class, which is the only way to eradicate the causes of the crisis and capitalist exploitation.
Dear comrades,
In our country, the capitalist crisis (2009-2016) is deep and prolonged and over its duration the management policy of all the bourgeois governments has been implemented, which in cooperation with the European Union (EU), the European Central Bank (ECB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), widely known as the Troika, thrust the burdens of the crisis onto the working class and popular strata, advancing the strategy of increasing the competitiveness and profitability of the big businesses.
The liberal party ND and the social-democratic party PASOK implemented the two memoranda and very harsh anti-people measures that provoked intense popular indignation. The illusions about choosing a “lesser evil” and the false expectations that SYRIZA fostered increased in the context of poverty and high unemployment. SYRIZA, an opportunist party, with a “leftwing” label, that is a “mixture” of renegades from the communist movement and officials from social-democratic PASOK and formed a government with the nationalist ANEL party (“Independent Greeks”).
SYRIZA ascended to government in January 2015 with the support of powerful sections of big capital and demonstrated in practice that it is a social-democratic party that serves the interests of the monopolies, implements a very harsh anti-people political line, uses all means at its disposal to deceive our people and abroad is presented as being a force for resistance, attempting to mislead the peoples with fake left sloganeering.
The delegation of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE).
The SYRIZA-ANEL government with the support of the other bourgeois parties passed the 3rd memorandum. With this memorandum, it implements the strategy of capital, the reactionary capitalist restructurings of the EU in order to intensify the rate of exploitation of the working class, the destruction of the farmers and the bankruptcy of the urban middle strata.
Recently, the government passed harsh anti-people laws through parliament, dismantling workers’-people’s rights, in order to pass the assessment of the 3rd memorandum by the Troika.
It attacked the social character of insurance, dramatically reduced pensions, increased the age of retirement.
It imposed unbearable direct and indirect taxes on the people.
It privatized ports, airports and proceeds to privatize strategically important enterprises in energy, water etc.
It follows the path of the previous governments, maintains the laws that have abolished the collective labour agreements and have dramatically reduced salaries, advances measures to abolish labour rights, reinforces flexible forms of labour, uses repression against the workers’ struggles.
Unemployment is above 25% and above 50% amongst the youth, instead of supporting the unemployment it gives related benefits to the businessmen.
In this period, in the framework of the 2nd assessment of the 3rd memorandum it is preparing to impose new harsh measures against the workers, mass dismissals, employer Lockouts, restrictions on the right to strike etc.
The class-based political line of the SYRIZA-ANEL government entails funding for big businesses, new tax exemptions for big capital etc.
In this period, the promotion of a so-called “just” capitalist development is being used in as a tool to mislead the people.
It is possible that there will be sluggish economic growth, but the essence is that this growth will be in an anti-people direction, as it will have as its criterion the increase of monopoly profits; it will be based on the destruction of rights and will form the conditions for a new economic crisis.
We note that the directions and anti-people measures being implemented in Greece through the memoranda are part of the more general anti-people strategy of the EU, which is being promoted in various ways in all the countries of Europe, regardless of whether a memorandum has been imposed or not, regardless of whether liberal or social-democratic parties are in government.
The bourgeois propaganda about the “acquis communautaire” of the EU is refuted by the capitalist reality of high unemployment, underemployment and poverty, the intensification of work etc.
The SYRIZA-ANEL government is also following a very dangerous foreign policy. It is promoting the interests of the monopolies, systematically entangling the country in the imperialist plans, with the policy for the “geostrategic enhancement of Greece” as its vehicle.
It provides military bases for the aggressive needs of the USA and NATO in the wars in Syria, Libya and Iraq. It maintains military forces in the imperialist missions abroad; it develops wider military cooperation with Israel; it has invited NATO forces into the Aegean Sea; it participates in the implementation of the recent very dangerous decisions of the NATO Summit in Warsaw.
The imperialist wars uproot millions of refugees and immigrants from their homes and trap thousands of families of persecuted people in Greece, who are living in wretched conditions. They have other European countries as their destination. The KKE in these conditions holds to a stance based on internationalist principles, struggles against imperialist wars, condemns the repressive policies of the EU, stands at the side of the refugees and immigrants, contributes to the organization of the people’s solidarity, confronts racism, xenophobia and the criminal fascist organization of “Golden Dawn”.
It has once again been confirmed by the experience of the anti-people political line of SYRIZA that the so-called left-social-democratic governments are the choice of capital to do the “dirty work”, to advance the policies that serve the interests of the monopolies and assimilate the labour-people’s movement into their aims.
It has been demonstrated by the example of SYRIZA and many other examples that the so-called “left governments” are an apparatus for the management and reproduction of capitalist exploitation, foster illusions about the humanization of capitalism and a dangerous expectation that the people’s problems can be resolved, the people’s needs can be satisfied in the conditions of capitalist exploitation.
Experience demonstrates that these governments impede the real radicalism of the working class. They become bankrupt due to their anti-people political line in the eyes of the people. They reinforce views that “they are all the same”, their political line strengthens conservative forces and leads to the return of rightwing governments.
The examples of “left” governments in Europe, as well as in Latin American countries confirm this assessment.
The CPs that participate in or support governments of bourgeois management provide social-democracy with an alibi. Their stance is utilized in many ways in order to trap the working class inside the framework of capitalist management, to reduce the demands of the people and delay the anti-capitalist struggle.
The CPs that supported or still support SYRIZA bear serious responsibilities. Their stance is utilized in the attack against our people and is directed against the struggle of the KKE and the class-oriented movement.
The KKE has always kept to the principle of proletarian internationalism in a very responsible way. It supports the struggle of the working class against capital and capitalism. It expresses its internationalist solidarity with the peoples of Latin America, Asia, Africa, the peoples in every corner of the world.
Today, important conclusions can be drawn about the principled stance the KKE maintained, exposing the role of new social-democracy, highlighting how dangerous and corrosive it is for a communist party to participate in a government of bourgeois management.
The KKE is in the front line of a difficult struggle and tries on a daily basis to strengthen its bonds with the working class, the poor farmers, the urban self-employed, the women and youth of the popular families.
The party organizations, the organizations of the Communist Youth Organizations (KNE) carry out constant ideological-political activity, wage battles in the factories, in the workplaces and popular neighbourhoods to organize the workers’-people’s struggle. They focus in particular on party building in the factories, in strategically important sectors of the economies. They confront their weaknesses and deficiencies.
The party forces, the friends of the party, KNE and its friends organized hundreds of mass events for the 100th anniversary of the KKE that will take place in 2018, very important events were held for the 70th anniversary of the founding of the “Democratic Army of Greece” (DSE) and its heroic struggle during the confrontation against the bourgeois class, British and US imperialism in the civil war, in the majestic armed struggle of 1946-1949.
The communist men and women support the struggles of the All-workers’ Militant Front (PAME), the class-oriented movement in which dozens of federations, labour centres and hundreds of trade unions and struggle committees, thousands of trade unionists participate.
There is a particularly important initiative of the class-oriented forces, via which hundreds of trade union organizations are organizing their struggle to abolish the anti-worker measures, for satisfactory collective labour agreements, for the recovery of the losses the workers suffered during the crisis.
The communist men and women are playing the leading role in the struggle of the poor and medium farmers, the urban self-employed, the youth and women.
A basic issue is for the ideological-political and mass struggle to strike against the real enemy, the bourgeois class and its state, not to be limited to targeting the bourgeois parties and governments, to contribute to the development of class consciousness.
Through the everyday struggle, the strikes, the demonstrations, the occupations, the dozens of multifaceted mobilizations, the class-oriented movement measures results in terms of the organization of the working class.  It contributes to the increase of the level of the workers’ demands in order to strengthen the front against capital and the anti-people political line of the government and other bourgeois forces and to reinforce the confrontation against employer-government led trade unionism and the dangerous notion regarding class collaboration and consensus between the exploiters and the exploited.
The communist men and women are struggling to regroup the labour movement in order to strengthen the line of class struggle, to lend mass characteristics to the trade unions and to acquire strong bases in the workplaces, to intensify the struggle with a line and demands connected to the contemporary needs of the workers and people, to change the correlation of forces.
A strong labour movement will be the heart of a great social, people’s alliance of the working class, poor and medium farmers, the urban self-employed. An alliance that will gather together and mobilize organized forces, will intervene decisively in the daily struggles with an antimonopoly-anticapitalist direction, aiming at the overthrow of capitalist barbarity and the conquest of workers’ power.
The Greek people will be freed from the shackles of capitalist exploitation and the imperialist unions, when the working class together with its allies carries out the socialist revolution and proceeds to the construction of socialism-communism.
The revolutionary change in Greece will be socialist. This is objectively necessary. The fact that the correlation of forces today is negative and that there is a delay in the subjective factor does not change the character of the revolution.
The motor forces of the socialist revolution will be the working class as the leading force, the semi-proletarians, the oppressed urban popular strata of the self-employed and the poor farmers.
The KKE in non-revolutionary conditions devotes its forces to preparing the subjective factor so that it can respond to its historical duties when a revolutionary situation is created-when those at the top cannot go on ruling in the same old way and those below will no longer submit to them etc.
Views (inside the international communist movement) that underestimate the antimonopoly-anticapitalist line of struggle and the necessity for comprehensive preparation for the overthrow of capital do not take into account the potential for the developments to sharpen and for a revolutionary situation to manifest itself, which as an objective phenomenon that can be created in the conditions of capitalist crisis and imperialist war.
We must learn from the historical experience which demonstrated that CPs found themselves unprepared for the conditions of the escalation of the class struggle and could not fulfill their historic tasks.
Dear comrades,
It is well-known that the communist movement is facing an ideological-political and organizational crisis, is seriously affected by the counterrevolution and opportunism has a major influence in its ranks.
After capitalist restoration in the Soviet Union and the states of socialist construction in Eastern and Central Europe, the dominance of capitalist relations of production in China, the strengthening of capitalist relations in Vietnam and Cuba, the conditions in the D.P.R. of Korea, the situation in the international communist movement has deteriorated.
In these conditions, the struggle for the regroupment of the international communist movement is a decisively important task and the KKE considers it necessary for a discussion to be initiated about the serious problems of strategy-tactics, assessing that every delay worsens the situation and poses serious dangers.
First, the issue of imperialism must be engaged with by the communists, as it is a point of more general discussion.
The Leninist position refers to the fact that imperialism is the highest stage of capitalism, in the context of which the dominance of the monopolies and finance capital has been formed and the export of capital has acquired particular importance. In this framework there is a struggle between the various monopolies and capitalist states over the division of the markets.
The position that limits imperialism to the aggressive foreign policy of the USA or other powerful capitalist states does not take into account the economic base of the system in our period, the monopolies, the large stock companies that have developed and are developing in all countries.
We believe that this position cannot see the imperialist (capitalist) system in all its dimensions. The capitalist states are its links, which have differences amongst them due to uneven development and each one has a different position in the system, with relations of unequal interdependence in line with their economic, military and political strength.
Second, we are interested in the issue related to the character of our era and the character of the revolution. This is an issue of decisive importance.
We live in the 21st century, bourgeois power overthrew feudalism many centuries ago. Capitalism has developed and in its imperialist stage has led to a major socialization of production and labour, the fruits of which are enjoyed by the bourgeois class.
The major monopoly businesses have bases and networks all over the planet, the sciences, technology, many forms of infrastructure and transport etc. have developed.
It is undeniable that the material preconditions have matured which determine the character of our era as the era of the passage from capitalism to socialism. This is something which is more necessary and timely than ever for the working class, the popular strata, the future of the youth.
The Great October Socialist Revolution, which will have its 100th anniversary in 2017, shows the way. This socialist revolution at the beginning of the 20th century in a backward agricultural country, where the development of capitalism created the material preconditions for the construction of the new socialist society, which gave impetus to the development of the productive forces.
The counterrevolution and the negative change in the correlation of forces does not change the fact that socialism was constructed, and does not change the character of our era, which was inaugurated by the October Revolution, as the era of the passage from capitalism to socialism. The conditions that highlight the exhaustion of capitalism’s historical limits (crises, wars, unemployment, poverty etc.) have intensified and the socialist character of the revolution expresses the urgent need to resolve the basic contradiction of the system between capital and wage labour.
Capitalism has given birth to its own gravedigger, the working class is the leading class of society and the socialist character of the revolution itself specifically poses the issue that this class must struggle for and acquire power.
On many occasions reference is made to  Lenin’s position on the ” Revolutionary-Democratic Dictatorship of the Proletariat and the Peasantry” in order to substantiate the outdated view about intermediate stages, but it should be clarified that this position corresponded to the conditions of Tsarist Russia during the revolution of 1905, while after the overthrow of the autocracy the Bolshevik party moved forwards and worked in the Soviets with the aim of the revolutionary conquest of workers’ power, the dictatorship of the proletariat (April Theses 1917).
Consequently, the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution must lend impetus to the examination of the strategy of the CPs so that it can be adapted to the needs of our era, to the Leninist direction that expressed the strength of the Bolshevik Revolution and as Lenin stressed “The abolition of capitalism and its vestiges, and the establishment of the fundamentals of the communist order comprise the content of the new era of world history that has set in.” (Lenin, Collected Works, volume 31, “On the struggle of the Italian Socialist Party)
Third, the capitalist states participate in imperialist alliances in order to effectively serve the interests of the bourgeois classes in the international capitalist competition, to buttress the power of capital and to deal with the labour movement in a coordinated way.
These interstate alliances cannot negate the nation-state organization and the inter-imperialist contradictions that are still manifested inside the alliances themselves as well, as each capitalist state functions on the basis of advancing the interests of its own monopolies.
The KKE has much experience in the struggle against NATO, the gun hand of imperialism against the peoples.
Our party has been struggling for many years against the European Union, the interstate imperialist alliance that expresses the interests of the European Monopolies against the working class, poor farmers and other popular strata of Europe, a fact that exposes the forces of social-democracy and opportunism which prettify the imperialist character of the EU, as the Party of the European Left (PEL) does.
The KKE, on the occasion of the referendum in Britain and the Brexit, tabled its own positions that highlight the internal contradictions in the EU, the unevenness of its economies and the struggle between the imperialist centres, which sharpened in the conditions of economic recession.
The positions that propose the change of currency or an exit from the EU in the framework of capitalism cannot objectively serve the workers’-people’s interests. On the contrary, they lead to the perpetuation of the regime of the exploitation of man by man; power remains in the hands of the bourgeois class, the means of production remain under capitalist ownership.
Our party argues that the necessary condemnation of  the EU and NATO, for the struggle for the disengagement of every country from the imperialist organizations to be effective it must be connected to the necessary overthrow of capital’s power by workers’-people’s power. The social alliance of the working class and the other popular strata, the regroupment and strengthening of the international communist movement are preconditions to pave the way for this prospect of hope.
The interstate alliances are not limited to NATO and the EU in today’s conditions.
Alongside them, we have, for example, BRICS, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the Collective Security Treaty Organization, interstate unions in Latin America etc. The differences that exist flow from the position which the capitalist states in the imperialist system possess and from the aims of the bourgeois classes. However, there is a common basis and this is determined by the fact that capitalist states which represent the interests of monopolies participate in these interstate alliances.
This is the basis of the contradictions inside the EU or between the USA and the EU, as is demonstrated by a number of facts, like the management of the capitalist crisis and debt, the negotiations over the anti-people TTIP etc., or by the contradictions that manifest themselves in the Asia and Pacific regions.
Our party very carefully follows the developments in the South China Sea, a region that is an important passage for international shipping, is rich in fish and is also rich in energy resources. Major monopoly interests, both from this region and from further afield (as is demonstrated by the USA’s constant involvement and “interest”) have focused on exploiting this enormous wealth. Our party believes that the issues of territorial differences between states (.e.g. over the establishment of Exclusive Economic Zones et al), with the intervention of the people’s movements as well, should be resolved peacefully on the basis of the international law of the sea and through multilateral negotiations and decisions, when many countries  are involved in a  specific matter.
In recent years the so-called “multi-polar” world has been promoted as a pro-people development, but the issue should be examined more carefully because in essence it is comprised of capitalist “poles”, which are formed to advance the interests of the big businesses. It is an expression of the inter-imperialist contradictions.
The task of the CPs is to advance forwards and open up a path for the peoples so that they do not follow the flags of any bourgeois class, any imperialist alliance, so that they develop their struggle in line with their own interests and needs.
Fourth, the recent years have been marked by the interventions and wars of NATO, the USA and EU in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Ukraine, in African states.
A characteristic feature of the imperialist interventions and wars is the use of a number of pretexts, amongst which are the fight against terrorism, dealing with the criminal organization of the Islamic State and other similar organizations, which are in fact imperialist creations and supported by the USA, strong EU states, Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia in order to promote their interests in the Middle East, North Africa and the wider region.
We have a duty to highlight the real causes of the wars. These causes are to be found in the inter-imperialist contradictions and competition expressed all over the planet amongst the USA, NATO, the EU, Russia, China, other capitalist states, over energy resources and their transport routes, strategically important regions and maritime routes, the control of markets.
The Middle East, North Africa, the Sahel, the Caspian, the Persian Gulf, the Balkans, the Black Sea, the South China Sea and the Arctic are particularly important arenas of imperialist contradictions.
NATO is transferring significant military forces to and creating military bases in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. Romania and Poland are the centres for the installation of US missile system aimed at Russia. More than 60% of the US navy has been moved to the Pacific region.
The danger of generalized regional conflicts is on the increase. We are even concerned about the possibility of a generalized imperialist war.
The Communist Movement is faced with important tasks and must widen the discussion on the stance of communists against the imperialist wars, to specify the criteria and the important role of the just, revolutionary wars.
The KKE has its own contribution to the organization of the struggle against the imperialist interventions and wars, against the involvement of the Greek governments, for the return of the Greek military forces from the imperialist missions, for the closure of the Euro-Atlantic bases.
Our party argues that the struggle for the defense of the borders, the sovereign rights of Greece, from the standpoint of the working class and the popular strata is inextricably linked to the struggle for the overthrow of the power of capital. In any case, whatever form the participation of Greece in the imperialist war takes, the KKE must be ready to lead the independent organization of the workers’-people’s resistance and connect it with the struggle for the defeat of the bourgeois class, both of the domestic one and the foreign one as an invader.
Fifth, the KKE in the framework of its long study concerning the analysis of the causes and factors that led to the overthrow of socialism assessed that the counterrevolution in the USSR came “from within and from above” as a result of the opportunist mutation of the CP and the corresponding political direction of Soviet power, in an environment of multifaceted interventions by imperialism, leading to the development of opportunism and its development into a counterrevolutionary force.
The overthrow of socialism was connected to the use of capitalist tools in order to deal with problems of socialist construction.
Socialist construction begins with the revolutionary conquest of power by the working class and the communist mode of production is created through the socialization of the concentrated means of production, central planning, the formation of institutions of workers’ control.
The class struggle of the working class continues in other conditions and with other forms both in the period when the foundations of the new society are being laid and during the development of socialism, in a constant struggle to eradicate every form of group and private ownership, to extend social ownership and to strengthen central planning, communist relations of production.
It is our unshakable conviction that positions that talk about various “models of socialism” in the name of national specificities do not operate within the framework of the principles of scientific socialism and the laws of socialist construction.
Unfortunately, this is not just related to the petty bourgeois/social-democratic framework of the so-called 21st century Socialism, which fosters illusions about the humanization of capitalism and perpetuates bourgeois power and capitalist exploitation, as is demonstrated by the developments,e.g., in Latin America.
The problem is deeper.
There is an attempt to replace the necessity of the socialist revolution with the bourgeois parliamentary road, with the vehicle of the management of “leftwing governments». A mixed economic system with capitalist businesses replaces the socialization of the means of production. The state intervention to regulate the capitalist market replaces central planning.
These positions have nothing to do with remnants of the old (capitalist) system inside the new, socialist economy, or the small commodity production that can continue to exist for a period (and is a force for the maintenance or reemergence of capitalism), but are related to a specific political line that retreats from the laws of socialism-spearheaded by the dangerous position that says that socialism can be constructed with the presence of capitalist businesses and capital, which is an exploitative social relation.
Dear comrades,
The Great October Socialist Revolution is a historic milestone, a magnificent creation of the working class, of the class struggle.
The socialism that was constructed in the 20th century, despite the weaknesses, mistakes, opportunist influences and deviations, is characterized by the historical achievement of the abolition of the exploitation of man by man, thanks to workers’ power, the socialization of the means of production, central planning and workers’ control, the participation of millions of workers in the construction of the new society.
The major advantages of socialism are to be found in the elimination of unemployment and the planned safeguarding of work for all, in the high level of free education and healthcare, in the development of the people’s culture and sports, in women’s equality, in the coexistence of different nationalities, in the support of the peoples’ struggle against imperialist aggression and wars, the abolition of colonialism and much else besides.
Workers’ power in the Soviet Union and the sacrifices of the Soviet people made their mark on the victory against the fascist axis in the 2nd World War.
The historical contribution of socialism to social progress, as well as the study of the real causes that led to its overthrow must motivate the CPs, the communists all over the world in order to raise the level of demands and to decisively answer the forces of anticommunist reaction and opportunism that applauded and supported the counterrevolution, as did forces that later founded the Party of the European Left (PEL) and other similar networks.
The communists believe in the strength of the working class, in the class struggle which is the motor force of social development and the international character of the class struggle requires that we make the greatest possible efforts and to form the bases to acquire programmatic-ideological unity and a unified revolutionary strategy in conflict with capital and the system of exploitation.
The difficulties of our struggle are serious. The bourgeois and opportunist pressure is strong. But the communists are obliged to demonstrate great endurance and determination in the defense of the Marxist-Leninist worldview, to play a leading role every day in the workers’-people’s struggles, in the antimonopoly-anticapitalist struggle, to try to achieve the connection in all conditions between the daily activities and the struggle for revolutionary workers power.
The KKE with a sense of internationalist responsibility played a leading role for the beginning of the International Meetings of Communist and Workers Parties (IMCWP), contributed and contributes to maintaining its character as a meeting place for CPs in opposition to positions that aim at the participation of social-democratic formations which are labeled as being “anti-imperialist”, “left”, “progressive” forces.
Our party has clarified for a long while that what today is helpful is the substantial exchange of views inside the IMCWP, the ideological-political discussion and debate over crucial issues of strategy-tactics, as well as the common activity we can develop for the interests and rights of the working class.
The KKE will devote all its forces in this direction and at the same time will continue together with dozens of other CPs the efforts to coordinate their activity with many forms, in Europe, in the Balkans, in the wider region and will support even further the serious step that has been taken with the formation of the “European Communist Initiative”, where a significant number of Communist and Workers parties of Europe participate and the publication of the journal “International Communist Review” (ICR) which studies contemporary theoretical issues.
Picasso’s political views

Source: Wikipedia

Political views

Aside from the several anti-war paintings that he created, Picasso remained personally neutral during World War I, the Spanish Civil War, and World War II, refusing to join the armed forces for any side or country. He had also remained aloof from the Catalan independence movement during his youth despite expressing general support and being friendly with activists within it. At the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1937, Picasso was already in his late fifties. He was even older at the onset of World War II, and could not be expected to take up arms in those conflicts. As a Spanish citizen living in France, Picasso was under no compulsion to fight against the invading Germans in either World War. (However, in 1940 he did apply for French citizenship, but it was refused on the grounds of his “extremist ideas evolving towards communism”. This information was not revealed until 2003.)[54] In the Spanish Civil War, service for Spaniards living abroad was optional and would have involved a voluntary return to their country to join either side. While Picasso expressed anger and condemnation of Francisco Franco and fascists through his art, he did not take up arms against them. The Spanish Civil War provided the impetus for Picasso’s first overtly political work, The Dream and Lie of Franco which was produced “specifically for propagandistic and fundraising purposes.”[55] This surreal fusion of words and images was intended to be sold as a series of postcards to raise funds for the Spanish Republican cause.[55][56]

In 1944 Picasso joined the French Communist Party, attended an international peace conference in Poland, and in 1950 received the Stalin Peace Prize from the Soviet government,[57] But party criticism of a portrait of Stalin as insufficiently realistic cooled Picasso’s interest in Soviet politics, though he remained a loyal member of the Communist Party until his death. In a 1945 interview with Jerome Seckler, Picasso stated: “I am a Communist and my painting is Communist painting. … But if I were a shoemaker, Royalist or Communist or anything else, I would not necessarily hammer my shoes in a special way to show my politics.”[58] His Communist militancy, common among continental intellectuals and artists at the time (although it was officially banned in Francoist Spain), has long been the subject of some controversy; a notable source or demonstration thereof was a quote commonly attributed to Salvador Dalí (with whom Picasso had a rather strained relationship[59]):

Picasso es pintor, yo también; […] Picasso es español, yo también; Picasso es comunista, yo tampoco.
(Picasso is a painter, so am I; […] Picasso is a Spaniard, so am I; Picasso is a communist, neither am I.)[60][61][62]

In the late 1940s his old friend the surrealist poet and Trotskyist[63] and anti-Stalinist André Breton was more blunt; refusing to shake hands with Picasso, he told him: “I don’t approve of your joining the Communist Party nor with the stand you have taken concerning the purges of the intellectuals after the Liberation”.[64]

In 1962, he received the Lenin Peace Prize.[65] Biographer and art critic John Berger felt his talents as an artist were “wasted” by the communists.[66]

According to Jean Cocteau‘s diaries, Picasso once said to him in reference to the communists: “I have joined a family, and like all families, it’s full of shit”.[67]

He was against the intervention of the United Nations and the United States in the Korean War and he depicted it in Massacre in Korea.[68][69] The art critic Kirsten Hoving Keen says that it is “inspired by reports of American atrocities” and considers it one of Picasso’s communist works.[70]

Communists vow to fight ‘falsification of history’ as anniversary of Bolshevik Revolution approaches

https://www.rt.com/politics/363885-communists-pledge-resistance-to-falsification/

Supporters of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation at Moscow's Kaluzhskaya Square on the International Workers' Day. © Vladimir Vyatkin
The Russian Communist party has passed a resolution urging its members to step up efforts to propagate leftist ideas and resist all attempts that might be made to falsify history in the run up to the 100th anniversary of the October Revolution of 1917.

The resolution was approved at a recent joint plenary session of the Communist Party’s Central Committee and its Central Control Commission, which is tasked with preparing for the centenary of the October Revolution.

On the eve of the 100th anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution, regional and municipal committees of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation must step up their efforts in propaganda and education. They should also strongly resist any attempts to falsify history,” the document reads.

Communist leaders also agreed to launch a year-long “jubilee membership drive” in 2017, which will use the approaching anniversary to boost the party’s numbers.

In the report delivered at the plenary meeting, the Central Committee’s deputy chairman, Dmitry Novikov, told his comrades that the September parliamentary elections demonstrated that Russian society still highly values Communist ideas.
The authorities and bourgeois parties cannot resist us in the field of ideas. They conducted the fight using political tactics rather than ideological concepts, but they could not disprove our ideas, because ours are the ideas of the majority of the people,” he said, adding that the fact that other parties had adopted the rhetoric of social justice was further proof that the concept is still very popular.

The Communist Party of the Russian Federation is the only official heir to the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, and is still one of Russia’s major political parties. With the second largest caucus in parliament, Communists make heavy use of Soviet ideas and images in their campaign materials, which target the older sector of the population that is still nostalgic for bygone times. In recent years, they have also attempted to capitalize on the image of Joseph Stalin, presenting him as the man who led the Soviet Union to victory in WWII.

In early 2016, the Communists decided to use Stalin’s image to boost its popularity ahead of last month’s parliamentary elections. Subsequent campaign stunts included naming paragraphs in the party’s elections program after Stalin, erecting monuments to the Soviet dictator, and putting forth a proposal to denounce the decision of the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) in 1956 that condemned Stalin’s cult of personality.

Stalin’s name and image are popular weapons in the Communists’ arsenal, as they rarely fail to attract media attention or provoke rows with more libertarian sections of Russian society. For example, in February of 2015, Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov appealed to President Vladimir Putin to return the name of the city of Volgograd to “Stalingrad,” and also to name a square in Moscow after Stalin and put a monument of him in its center.

The initiative gained some momentum in the city of Volgograd, as the local authorities agreed to rename the city during the celebrations marking the anniversary of the battle of Stalingrad, but only in some internal documents for a short, limited time.

Turkey: Police raid young members of the Communist Party (KP), threatened students

Friday, October 21, 2016

Turkey: Police raid young members of the Communist Party (KP), threatened students

https://communismgr.blogspot.com/2016/10/turkey-police-raid-young-members-of.html
According to SOL International, Turkish police raided members of the Communist Youth who were working for an event of the ‘Socialism Schools’.
 
Young members of Communist Party, Turkey, (KP) were forcefully taken to a police station due to their works in front of Kadıköy Anadolu Lisesi (a prominent high school in Kadıköy/Istanbul), for the event of the ‘Socialism Schools’ that will be held on October 22, Saturday.
   
A member of Communist Party (KP) was attacked, and his mobile phone was seized on the grounds that he wanted to call his lawyer. Police did not permit any calls to lawyers.
Members of the Communist Youth were asked for their home addresses at the police station. Police threatened the students of kicking out from dormitories. Young communists were released after being exposed to various threats and psychological pressures.