Part III: The explosion (1917)

Submitted by Steven. on October 1, 2010

CHAPTER 1: War and Revolution

Like the governments of other countries, that of Tsar Nikolai II succeeded in arousing, at the beginning of the European war in 1914, the whole gamut of evil instincts, animal passions, and wicked sentiments such as nationalism and chauvinism.
In Russia, as in those other lands, millions of men were duped, hypnotised, disoriented, and compelled to rush to the battle front like a herd of cattle to a slaughter-house, while the real problems of the hour were forgotten. And the few early "successes" attained by the Tsarist troops further kindled "the great enthusiasm of the people".
Nevertheless a special note was blended in this artificial and directed concert, an idea deeply implanted in the spirit was hiding behind this "enthusiasm". Very well -- the Army and nearly all the civilians reasoned -- we will fight and win. But the Government would better not deceive itself. When the war is over, we will present our bill. In return for our devotion and sacrifices, we expect a complete change in the regime. We will regain our rights, our liberties. Things will be different after the war.
And the soldiers whispered: "When the war is over we will keep our guns, at all costs".
But soon enough the situation in Russia was altered. A series of defeats began, and with them the unrest, the disillusionment, the rage of the people returned.
The war cost dearly, frightfully, in money and especially in men. Millions of human lives were sacrificed, to no purpose and with no compensation. Once more the Romanov regime demonstrated its incompetence, its rottenness, its weakness. Moreover, certain defeats which cost hugely in victims were unexplained, mysterious, suspect. All over the country there was talk.-ntrt-pnly of flagrant incompetence, but of criminal negligence, venality/of the authorities, espionage in the supreme command, the German origin of the dynasty and of several leaders, and of high treason in the Imperial Court itself. Members of the royal family were almost openly accused of sympathy for the Germans, and even of having direct dealings with the enemy. With little secrecy, and with anger and hatred, the Tsarina was called "the Boche". Alarming and sinister rumours spread among the masses.
At first the Imperial Court was not much disturbed. Later several measures were taken -- tardily and awkwardly. Being purely formal, they were ineffective, satisfied no one, accomplished nothing.
In an attempt to restore the morale of the troops and the people, Nikolai II personally assumed supreme command of the fighting forces, at least nominally. He went to the front. But this gesture did not change anything in the general situation, which was getting worse each day, and against which the Tsar, absolutely incapable and inactive, was powerless. Everywhere there was disintegration,-both in the Army and in the country at large.
In despair, several plots were fomented in liberal circles and even in the immediate entourage of the Tsar. One design of the plotters was to make the ruler abdicate in favour of a more "up to date" and popular monarch, for instance the Tsar's uncle, Grand Duke Nikolai, "to save the war and the dynasty", the impending fall of which was expected by all concerned.
They began by wiping out the evil monk Rasputin. But the conspirators hesitated about what to do next, and delayed, not being able to reach an agreement among themselves.
Things were at this stage when, brutally, the explosion in February, 1917, occurred.
It was not so much the military developments, nor the rumours of treason in the Royal Court, nor even the incompetence and unpopularity of the Tsar that set off this sudden detonation.
What made the people desperate and brought on the crucial blow was the complete disorganization of economic life, and of existence itself, throughout the country. "The disorganization is such," Minister Krivochein admitted, speaking of the administration and all the services of the State, "that it is like a lunatic asylum." And it was in this field that the impotence of the Tsarist government and the disastrous results of its conduct compelled the masses to take decisive action.
All the warring nations were suffering great economic and financial difficulties at this stage of the European conflict, because of the necessity of feeding and supplying the other needs of the millions of men on the far-flung battle-fronts, and at the same time maintaining the normal life of those countries. Everywhere this double task caused tremendous strain. But everywhere else -- even in Germany, where the situation was especially difficult -- it was accomplished more or less successfully. Everywhere except in Russia, where nothing had been foreseen, nothing planned in advance, nothing organized. 1
It must be added that the terrible effects of this total disintegration of power and the State would have manifested themselves even sooner, had it not been for the efforts of certain living forces in the empire, such as the Union of the Cities, the War Industries Committee, and others. Arising spontaneously, these organizations were able to provide to a considerable degree for the more pressing needs of the Army and the civilian populace.
The energetic and beneficial activity of these forces, as well as that of the zemstvos (provincial councils), the municipalities, et cetera, -- an activity which, we mast emphasize, was carried on in opposition to the laws and resistance of the bureaucracy -- also had a highly important moral effect. Every day, alike in the Army and in the country at large, one could clearly perceive, not only the total incompetence of Tsarism, but also the existence of elements perfectly capable of replacing it, and furthermore, the disgraceful way in which the dying Romanov regime, fearing those elements, impeded their action, thus pushing the whole nation toward catastrophe.
Every day the Army and the Russian people saw with their own eyes that it was these free anions and committees which, on their own initiative and with sublime devotion, assured production, organized transport, supervised supplies, and guaranteed arrival and distribution of rations and munitions. And every day, too, the Army and the people saw the government oppose this indispensable activity and hold it back, with no concern for the interests of the country.
This final moral preparation of the Army and the populace for the downfall of Tsarism and its replacement by other elements was exceedingly important. It completed the pre-revolutionary process. It gave the last touch to the preparatory work.
In January, 1917, the situation had become untenable. The economic chaos, the poverty of the workers, and the social disorganization of Russia were so acute that the inhabitants of several targe cities -- notably Petrograd -- began to lack not only fuel, clothing, meat, butter, and sugar, but even bread.
February saw worse conditions. Despite the efforts of the Duma, the zemstvos (provincial councils), the municipalities, the unions, and the committees, not only was the urban population doomed to famine, but the supplying of the Army became entirely defective. And at the same time a complete military debacle was reached.
By the end of February, it was absolutely impossible for the country, both materially and morally, to continue the war. And it was impossible for the industrial workers in the cities to procure supplies [to keep the factories going].
But Tsarism did not want to know anything about these realities. It persisted blindly now in running the old machine completely off its tracks. And it fell back, as usual, on repression, violence against those who were active, and the militants of the political parties.
It was the inability of the people to continue the war and endure conditions of famine, on the one hand, and the blind obstinacy of Tsarism, on the other, that brought about the Revolution, two and a half years after "the great enthusiasm".
On February 24 (Russian old style) disturbances began in Petrograd. Primarily provoked by the lack of provisions, they did not seem likely to become serious. But next day events took a sudden turn. The workers in the capital, feeling that the Russian people generally were in solidarity with them, extremely agitated for weeks, starving, and not even receiving any more bread, thronged the streets, demonstrated fiercely, and flatly refused to disperse.
Yet on this first day the demonstrations were cautious and inoffensive. In close-packed masses the workers, with their wives and children, shouted: "Bread! Bread! We have nothing to eat. Either give us bread or shoot us! Our children are dying of hunger. Bread! Bread!"
Besides the police, the Government sent detachments of mounted troops, Cossacks, against the demonstrators. But there were few troops then in Petrograd -- except unreliable reservists. So the workers were not at all frightened. They bared their breasts to the soldiers, held up their children, and cried: "Kill us all if you dare! Better to be shot than to starve to death!"
Finally -- and this was the key point of the episode -- nearly all of the soldiers, smiling, walked warily towards the crowd, without using their weapons, and ignoring the orders of their officers. And many of the latter were not particularly insistent. In some places the soldiers fraternized with the workers, going so far as to give them their rifles, getting off their horses, and mingling with the throng. Naturally this attitude of the troops encouraged the protesting workers.
Here and there, however, the police and the Cossacks did charge groups of demonstrators carrying red flags, and several of them were killed or wounded.
In the barracks of Petrograd and the suburbs of the capital, the garrison regiments still held back from taking the side of the Revolution. And the government held back from sending them to combat it.
But the morning of February 26 brought a notable new happening. By decree, the Government ordered the Duma dissolved.
This was a sort of signal that everybody seemed to have been waiting for before beginning decisive action. The news, known everywhere in the capital almost instantaneously, spurred on events. From that moment, the demonstrations took on the character of a strictly revolutionary movement.
Shouts of "Down with Tsarism!", "Down with the War!", and "Long live the Revolution!" rang from the milling crowd, whose attitude steadily became more determined and menacing. All over the city the demonstrators resolutely attacked the police. Several public buildings were burned, including the Court House. The streets bristled with barricades. Soon many red flags appeared. The soldiers still maintained a benevolent neutrality, but more and more frequently they mingled with the throng. The Government could depend on its troops less and less.
Now it hurled the whole police force of the city against the rebels. The police quickly formed detachments for mass attack. They installed machine-guns on the roofs of various houses and even in some churches, and occupied all strategic points. Then they began a general offensive against the rising masses.
During that whole day of February 26 the fighting was hot. In many instances the police were dislodged, policemen were killed, and their machine-guns silenced. But elsewhere they resisted fiercely.
Tsar Nikolai II, who was at the war-front, was warned by telegram of the gravity of the situation. Meanwhile the Duma decided to continue sitting and not yield to the order to dissolve.

CHAPTER 2: Triumph of the Revolution

The decisive action occurred on February 27, 1917.
From early morning, whole regiments of the Petrograd garrison, no longer hesitant, mutinied, left their barracks, arms in hand, and took over certain strategic points in the capital, after brief skirmishes with the police. The Revolution gained ground.
At a given moment, a dense mass of demonstrators, defiant and grimly threatening, and partially armed, assembled in Znamenskaya Square and in the vicinity of the Nikolaievsky railway station. The Government sent two cavalry regiments from the Imperial Guard, the soldiers it still could trust, as well as a strong detachment of police, both on foot and mounted. The troops were supposed to support and assist the police.
After the usual summons [warning the demonstrators to disperse], the police commander gave an order to charge the crowd. But now another last-moment "miracle" occurred. The officer commanding the Guard cavalrymen raised his sabre, and with a cry of "Charge the police!" launched his two regiments against them. In almost no time the latter were beaten, thrown back, overwhelmed.
Soon the last resistance of the police was broken. The revolutionary troops seized the Government arsenal and occupied all vital points in the city. Surrounded by a delirious multitude, the regiments drew themselves up, with flags unfurled, before the Tauride palace, where the Duma -- the poor Fourth Duma -- was sitting, and put themselves at its disposal.
Shortly afterward the last regiments of the garrison of Petrograd and its suburbs joined the movement. Tsarism had no more armed forces in the vicinity of the capital. The population was free. The Revolution had triumphed.
The events which presently followed are well known.
A provisional government, composed of influential members of the Duma, was formed and ardently acclaimed by the people.
The provinces enthusiastically joined the Revolution.
Some troops were hastily withdrawn from the front, and were sent by order of the Tsar to the rebel-held capital, but were unable to reach it. For the railroad workers refused to transport them further when they drew near the city. Then the soldiers refused to obey their officers and went over to the Revolution. Some returned to the front; others simply dispersed.
Tsar Nikolai himself, returning to Petrograd by railroad, had his train stopped at Dno station and then had it take him back to Pskov. There he was joined by a delegation from the Duma and by military personages who had joined the Revolution. He could do nothing but accept the situation. After some trifling negotiations he signed his abdication, for himself and his son Alexis This on March 2.
For a moment, the provisional government sought to present the throne to the ex-Emperor's brother, Grand Duke Michael But he declined the offer, declaring that the fate of the country and the dynasty should be put into the hands of a regularly con voked Constituent Assembly.
The front hailed the accomplished Revolution.
Tsarism had fallen. Formation of the Constituent Assembly was the order of the day. While waiting for it to be called, the provisional government became the official authority -- "recognized and responsible". The first act of the victorious Revolution was over.
We have recounted the facts of this February revolution in some detail in order to bring out in relief the main point:
Once more, the action of the masses was spontaneous, logically climaxing a long period of concrete experience and moral preparation. This action was neither organized nor guided by any political party. Supported by the people in arms -- the Army -- it was victorious. The element of organization had to be introduced -- and was introduced -- immediately afterward.
(In any case, because of the repression, all of the central organizations of the political parties of the left, as well as their leaders, were, at the time of the Revolution, far from Russia. Martov of the Social Democratic Party, Tchernoff of the Social Revolutionary Party, Lenin, Trotsky, Lunacharsky, Losovsky, Rykov, Bukharin, et al., were all living abroad. It was not until after the February Revolution that they returned home).
Another significant point also emerges from these events.
Again, immediate and specific impetus was given to the Revolution by the absolute impossibility of Russia continuing the war -- an impossibility which naturally was intensified by the obstinacy of the Government. This impossibility resulted from the inextricable chaos into which the war had plunged the nation.

CHAPTER 3: Toward the Social Revolution

The provisional government formed by the Duma was of course strictly bourgeois and conservative. Its members, Prince Lvov, Gutchkov, Milioukov, and others (with the exception of Kerensky, who was vaguely Socialist) nearly all belonged politically to the Constitutional Democratic party; socially to the privileged classes. For them, once absolutism was overthrown, the Revolution was over. In reality it had only begun.
Now, they wanted to "re-establish order", ameliorate little by little the general situation in the country and at the battle-front, "push" the war more actively than ever, inspire it with new spirit, and especially prepare peacefully for the calling of the Constituent Assembly, which would establish the new fundamental laws of the nation, the new political regime, and the new form of government. Henceforth the people had only to wait patiently and prudently, like the good children that they were, for the favours which these new masters would grant them.
These new masters, the members of the provisional government, naturally saw themselves as good moderate bourgeoisie, who would use their powers like those in other "civilized" countries. And the political outlook of that regime did not go beyond a nice constitutional monarchy. At most some of its members perhaps timidly envisaged a very moderate bourgeois republic. The agrarian question, the question of the workers, et cetera, would be resolved by the future established government, in the manner of the "proven" western models.
In the last analysis, the provisional government was more or less sure of being able to utilize the preparatory -period for stalling, if need be, and for restoring the masses to calmness", discipline, and obedience, in case they should evidence too violently their desire to go beyond the limits thus proclaimed. It finally occupied itself with assuring, by behind-the-scenes manoeuvring, a "normal" election, which would result, at the desired moment, in a prudent and upright Constituent Assembly -- bourgeois, of course.
At this point it is pleasant to state that the "realists", the "established" politicians, the scholars, the economists, and the sociologists, were wrong in their calculations. The reality completely escaped them.
I recall attending, in New York, in April or May, 1917, a Russian lecture by an honorable professor who made an elaborate analysis of the composition and probable actions of the forthcoming Constituent Assembly. And I asked the respectable professor a single question: "What do you foresee in case the Russian Revolution goes beyond the Constituent Assembly?"
Disdainfully enough, and ironically, the eminent lecturer said, as his only reply, that he was a "realist" and that his heckler was "surely an Anarchist, whose fantastic hypothesis is of no interest to me." But the future soon demonstrated that the learned professor had masterfully deceived himself and that he himself was the "fantastic" one. In his two-hour speech he had neglected to analyze only one eventuality: that which actually took place a few months later.
Here I would like to add some personal reflections.
In 1917 the realists, the men of politics, the writers, the professors, both Russian and foreign, had, with few exceptions, superciliously and scornfully failed to predict the triumph of Bolshevism in the Russian Revolution. In our time, since triumphant Bolshevism is, and has been for a short period, historically speaking, an accomplished fact, many of those gentlemen are willing to recognize it, to take an interest in it, and concern themselves with it. They even recognize -- again deceiving themselves masterfully -- its "great positive importance" and "its complete world-wide triumph".
I am absolutely sure that, with the same "realism" and "clairvoyance", the same arrogance before and the same assurance afterward, these same gentlemen will fail lo predict in time, only to accept it after it happens -- the real and complete triumph of the libertarian idea in the world-wide Social Revolution.
That first provisional government certainly did not take account of the obstacles which confronted it. The most serious obstacle was the nature of the problems with which it had to deal before the calling of the Constituent Assembly. (And it never occurred to the Government leaders that the workers might not want to wait for the forming of the Assembly and that they were wholly within their rights [in taking that position].
First, the problem of the war.
Disillusioned and exhausted, the people continued that war against their will, or at the most, with utter apathy. For the Army was undeniably beaten, both physically and morally. On the one hand, the miserable conditions of the country, and on the other, the Revolution, had definitely upset it.
Two solutions were possible: to end the war, conclude a separate peace, demobilize the Army, and be concerned solely with domestic problems -- or attempt the impossible task of maintaining the battle-front, restoring discipline, "reviving" the morale of the Army, and continuing the war at any cost, at least until the Con stituent Assembly was called.
Obviously the first solution was unacceptable to a "patriotic' bourgeois government, allied to other belligerents and considering it a "national disgrace" to break that alliance. Furthermore, inas much as the Government was "provisional" it felt obliged to follow the [conventional] formula: "No important changes before the Constituent Assembly is called; it will have full right to make any decisions."
So the provisional government adopted the second solution But under the existing circumstances this was unrealizable.
This point must be insisted on, for generally it is not given enough emphasis.
The machine called the "bourgeois State" broke down in Russia in February, 1917. Its purpose and its activity had always been contrary to the interests and aspirations of the people. Since the latter, for the moment, had become masters of their own destinies, it could not be repaired and put back into working order. For it is the people who make such a machine run -- whether under compulsion or freely -- and not the governments. The broken apparatus could neither exercise nor re-establish rule by force. And the people no longer "marched" voluntarily toward goals that were not their own.
Hence it was necessary to replace the disabled apparatus with another one, adapted to the new situation, instead of losing time and strength in vain efforts to get it running again.
The bourgeois and nationalist government couldn't understand this. It insisted on maintaining both the "machine" and the evil heritage of the fallen regime, the war. On this account it was making itself increasingly unpopular. And with the machine [the bourgeois State] broken, \* was powerless to go ahead, to impose its war-like will.
This first problem of the hour, the most serious, the most immediate, was thus inevitably condemned to remain unsolved by the provisional government.
The second thorny problem was the agrarian question.
Russia's peasants -- who made up 85 per cent, of the population -- aspired to possess the land. The Revolution gave these aspirations an irresistible force. Having been reduced to impotence, exploited, and duped for centuries, the peasant masses no longer would pay attention to anything else. They needed the land, at all costs, and immediately, without protocol or ceremony.
Neither physically nor morally could Russia continue the war. Refusal of the Tsarist government to recognize that fact was the immediate cause of the Revolution. And so long as this impossibility continued, any government which failed to recognize it would, logically, fall like that of the Tsar.
To be sure, the provisional government hoped to be able to alter the situation, to end the chaos, reorganize the country, give it new energy. But these were illusions; neither the available time nor the state of mind of the masses would permit it.
Back in 1905, at the Peasant Congress called shortly after the Manifesto of October 17 (while the "liberties" still existed), in preparation for the calling of the Duma, numerous delegates had acted as spokesmen for the aspirations [of the rural masses].
"Any mention of redemption of the land revolts me," one of those peasant delegates declared. "They propose that we reimburse the enslavers of yesterday, who, even in our own day, aided by the functionaries, have made our life into an obstacle course. Haven't we already reimbursed them sufficiently by paying rent? It is impossible to measure the barrels of blood with which we have watered the soil. And that's not all; with their own milk, our grandmothers nursed the hunting dogs of these gentlemen. Isn't that redemption?
"For centuries we have been grains of sand blown by the wind. And they were the wind. And now we have to pay again? Oh, no. There is no need for diplomatic discussion. There is only one just way -- the revolutionary way. Otherwise they will fool us once more. Anything that speaks of 'redemption' is a compromise. Comrades, don't repeat the error of your fathers. In 1861 they [the enslavers] were cleverer than we, and they had us; they gave us only a little because the people did not take everything."
"We never sold them the land," peasants from the Orel regio protested. "Therefore we don't have to redeem it. Already we have paid enough by working for an inhumanly low wage. No, in no case will we pay a redemption. My Lord didn't get the land from the moon; his grandparents seized it."
"Redemption would be a flagrant injustice to the people," delegates from the Kazan district averred. "The people ought to receive a receipted bill of sale with the land. For, in fact, these gentlemen never bought that land. They confiscated it, to sell it later."
And other peasants told the eminent savant Nfikolai?] Ruba-kin, sometime between 1897 and 1906: "All these gentlemen -- Orlov, Demidoff, Balachoff -- got their land free from the Tsars and Tsarinas as presents. And now they want us to redeem i at such prices? That is not only injustice, it is open robbery
This explains why the peasants did not want to wait any longer [in 1917]. Nearly everywhere they were forthrightly expropriating the land, driving out any landlords who had not already fled. Thus they had solved the "agrarian question" in their own way and by themselves, without bothering about deliberations, machinations, and the decisions of the Government or the Constituent Assembly. And the Army, composed primarily of peasants, certainly was ready to support this direct action.
The provisional government was undecided whether to accept the situation or to resist it -- that is to struggle against the revolting peasants, and also, almost inevitably, against the Army as well. So naturally it adopted the tactic of waiting, hoping, as with the problem of war, to be able to arrange things by manoeuvring intelligently and skilfully. The Government spokesmen adjured the peasants to wait patiently for the Constituent Assembly, which, they said, would have the right to establish all law, and certainly would give full satisfaction to the peasants. But nothing came of this. These appeals were for the most part futile, and this tactic had no chance of success. For the peasants did not have the least confidence in the words of the "gentlemen" in power. They had been fooled often enough! And they felt strong enough now to take the land. To them this was only justice. If sometimes they hesitated again, it was only out of fear of being punished for the acts they were committing.
Too, the problem of the industrial workers was as insoluble by a bourgeois government as that of the peasants. The masses of those workers sought to obtain from the Revolution a maximum of well-being and of [the establishment of] rights to a minimum. Immediate and very serious struggles were foreseeable in this field of conflict. And by what means was the provisional government going to maintain its position?
Also the purely economic problem was exceedingly difficult, because it was closely related to the other problems, on the one hand, and moreover, coping with it could not be delayed. In the midst of war and revolution, with a chaotic situation in a disrupted country, it was necessary to organize production anew, as well as transportation, exchanges, finance, et cetera.
There remained, finally, the political problem. Under the existing circumstances there was no valid solution for it. The provisional government had of course assigned the task of calling the Constituent Assembly in the near future. But for a thousand reasons [attainment of] this task could not succeed. Above all, the government dreaded the opening of that Assembly. Contrary to its promises, its fondest hope was to postpone the Assembly as long as possible, and meanwhile it would seek the installation, through some fortunate turn of luck, of a "constitutional" monarchy. But presently other perilous obstacles arose.
The most serious was the resurrection of the workers' Soviets, notably the Petrograd Soviet. This had been re-established in the very first days of the Revolution -- by tradition, and also as in 1905, in default of other workers' organizations. True, at that moment the industrial workers were under the influence of the moderate Socialists, Mensheviks, and right Social Revolutionaries. But, all the same, their ideology and programme was absolutely contrary to the project of the provisional government, and naturally the moral influence and activity of the Petrograd Soviet soon began to conflict with that of the Government, to the detriment of the latter.
The Petrograd Soviet was a sort of second government for the country. It set the tone of all the vast network of provincial Soviets and co-ordinated their activity. Being thus supported by the working class of the whole country, it quickly became powerful. Also it steadily gained more and more influence in the Army. Before long the orders of the Soviets often carried far more weight than those of the provisional government. Under such conditions the latter was obliged to deal carefully with the Soviets.
It goes without saying that the Government would have preferred to fight them. But to take this action against the organized workers on the morrow of a revolution which had loudly proclaimed absolute freedom of speech, of organization, and of social action, was impossible. For on what real force could it depend to carry out that task? It had none.
Accordingly the Government was compelled to make the most of a bad situation, to tolerate its powerful rival, and even to "flirt"' with it. The provisional regime well knew the fragility of the sympathies it had among the workers and in the Army. It was keenly aware that in the first serious social conflict those two decisive forces indubitably would side with the Soviets.
As always it "hoped". It sought to gain time. But the presence of this second "directorate", unofficial, but threatening, and with which it had to deal, comprised one of the biggest obstacles that the provisional government -- official but powerless -- must surmount.
The violent criticism and vigorous propaganda by all the Socialist parties, and especially the extreme leftist elements (left Social Revolutionaries, Bolsheviks, Anarchists) also were not to be disregarded. For, naturally, the Government could not have recourse to repressive measures against freedom of speech. And even if it had dared do this, where were the forces to carry out its orders? It had none at its disposal.
Even a powerful bourgeoisie, organized and strongly entrenched, which already had withstood more than one combat with oppositional forces and possessing powerful material forces (police. Army, money, et cetera) would have been hard put to arrive at a satisfactory solution to so many problems and to impose its will and its programme in the face of the existing situation. And such a bourgeoisie did not exist in Russia. As a class conscious of its own interests, the capitalist class in that country was scarcely beginning to exist. Weak, unorganized, and without tradition or historical experience, it could hope for no success. Also it was not active.
So, representing "in principle" a hardly existing and inactive bourgeoisie, the provisional government was condemned to work in a vacuum. This was without doubt the basic cause of its failure.

CHAPTER 4: Toward a Socialist Government; The Poverty of Socialism

Thus the first provisional Russian government, essentially bourgeois, was rapidly and inevitably reduced to manifest ridiculous and fatal impotence. The poor thing did what it could to maintain itself: it manoeuvred, it temporized, it stalled. Meanwhile all the cardinal problems also were bogged down. Criticism of and then general anger against this phantom government increased from day to day. Soon its existence became insupportable. Scarcely sixty days after its solemn inauguration, it was compelled to give way, without a struggle, on May 6, to a so-called "coalition" government (with Socialist participation), whose most influential member was Alexander Kerensky, a very moderate Social Revolutionary, or rather "independent" Socialist.
Could this bourgeois-Socialist regime hope to achieve more satisfactory results than its predecessor? Certainly not. For the conditions of its existence and the impotence of its actions would necessarily be identical with those of the first provisional government. Obliged to rely on a powerless bourgeoisie, forced to continue the war, incapable of finding a real solution of the more and more urgent problems, attacked by the leftists, and surrounded by difficulties of all kinds at all times, this second provisional regime perished ingloriously like the first, and in almost the same length of time, stepping aside on July 2 for a third provisional government, composed primarily of Socialists, with a few bourgeois elements.
It was at this point that Kerensky, supreme leader of the third and subsequently of a fourth government (almost the same as its immediate forerunner) became, for a time, a sort of Duce of Russia, and the Social Revolutionary Party, in close collaboration with the Mensheviks, seemed to have emerged definitely as masters of the Revolution. One step further, and the country would have had a Socialist government which could have relied on very real forces: the peasantry, the mass of industrial workers a large section of the intellectuals, the Soviets, the Army, et cetera.
However, it accomplished nothing.
Upon its attainment of power the last Kerensky government appeared very strong. And, in fact, it could have become so.
Kerensky, a lawyer and a Deputy, enjoyed great popularity, both among the masses and in the Army. His speeches in the Duma at the outbreak of the Revolution scored memorable success. And his assumption of power aroused tremendous hopes throughout Russia. He could depend without reservation on the soviets -- and therefore on the whole of the nation's working class -- for at the moment the overwhelming majority of the delegates [the Soviets, factory committees, and the soldiers' committees] were Socialists, and the Soviets were entirely in the hands of right Social Revolutionaries and Mensheviks.
In the early weeks of the Kerensky ministry, it was dangerous to criticize its leader in public, so strong was the country's confidence in him. Several agitators learned this to their cost, while trying to speak against Kerensky in the public squares. There were even cases of lynching.
But to profit from all these remarkable advantages it was necessary that Kerensky fulfil -- and fulfil effectively, by deeds -- a single condition: the one recommended by Danton in days gone by. He must have audacity, still more audacity, and audacity all the time.
Well, this was precisely the quality that Kerensky completely lacked!
In the existing situation audacity for him properly meant: 1. Immediate abandonment of the war (the finding of some way to do this); 2. A decisive break with the capitalist bourgeois regime (that is, the formation of a wholly Socialist government); 3. Immediate orientation of the economic and social life of all Russia toward a frankly Socialist system.
All this would have been perfectly logical and "mandatory" for a government of Socialist persuasion, with a Socialist majority, and a Socialist leader. But no! As always, as they did everywhere, the Russian Socialists and Kerensky himself, instead of understanding the historical necessity and seizing the propitious moment to go forward and finally fulfil their real programme, remained prisoners of their bastard "minimum" programme which categorically required a struggle for a bourgeois democratic republic.
Instead of putting themselves candidly at the service of the working masses and their emancipation, the Socialists and Keren-sky, held captive by their own flabby ideology, could find nothing better to do than play the game of Russian and international capitalism.
Kerensky dared not abandon the war nor turn his back on the bourgeoisie, dared not base himself solidly on the working classes, nor even simply to continue the Revolution! And he dared not hasten the calling of the Constituent Assembly.
He wanted to continue the war! And at all costs and by whatever means!
What he did dare to do was, first, to institute a group of reforms in reverse: re-establishment of the death penalty and court-martials at the front, repressive measures in the rear. And finally, there was a long series of visits to the battle-front, and the making of speeches and inflammatory harangues which would, in Kerensky's opinion, revive the war-like enthusiasm of the early days of the conflict among the soldiers. He was aware that the war continued only through inertia. And he wanted to give it a new impetus with words and punishments, not taking any account the reality.
He orated so much that his title of Commander-in-Chief (he also was president of the Council of Ministers) was soon changed by the Russian public to Orator-in-Chief.
About two months sufficed to make Kerensky's popularity fall to the bottom, especially among the industrial workers and soldiers, who ended by jeering at his speeches. They wanted deeds, deeds of peace and social revolution. They also wanted the speedy calling of the Constituent Assembly. The obstinacy with which all the provisional regimes delayed that convocation was one of the reasons for their unpopularity. The Bolsheviks took advantage of this, promising, among other things, the calling of the Assembly as soon as they would come into power.
In short, the reasons for the failure of the Kerensky government were the same as those which brought on the collapse of the preceding regimes: the inability of the moderate Socialists to end the war; the lamentable impotence of this fourth government to solve the basic national problems; and its intention of imprisoning the Revolution within the limits of a bourgeois regimen.
Several circumstances and events -- the logical outcome of these fatal inadequacies -- aggravated the situation and precipitated Kerensky's downfall.
In the first place, the Bolshevik Party, having by this time assembled its best forces and thus possessing a powerful organization for propaganda and action, daily spread throughout the country, by means of thousands of orators and published articles, skilful, accurate, and vigorous criticisms of the policy, attitude, and activities of the Government (and also of all the moderate Socialists). It advocated immediately cessation of the war, demobilization, continuation of the Revolution.
It diffused with all its energy its social and revolutionary ideas. It repeated every day its promise to convoke the Constituent Assembly at once, and finally to resolve -- quickly and successfully -- all the problems of the hour if it was given power. Constantly it hammered, without let-up and without allowing itself to be intimidated, on the same nail: Power! "All power to the Soviets!" it shouted from morning to evening, and from evening to morning. Give political power to the Bolsheviki and everything would be fixed, resolved, realized.
Increasingly listened to and followed by the intellectual workers, the working masses in industry, and the Army, multiplying, with precipitous rapidity, the number of its adherents, and thus penetrating into all the factories and enterprises, the Bolshevik Party already had recruited by June, 1917, an imposing force of militants, agitators, propagandists, writers, organizers, and men of action. It also possessed considerable funds. And it had at its head a courageous central committee directed by Lenin. It carried on activity that was fierce, feverish, and fulminating, and it felt itself, at least morally, the master of the situation. Especially was this true because it had no rivals on the extreme left. The left Social Revolutionary Party, much weaker, could only figure as a satellite, the Anarchist movement was scarcely beginning; and as for the revolutionary Syndicalist movement, it was, as we know, non-existent.
Kerensky, feeling himself less and less secure, dared not attack the Bolsheviks resolutely, straightforwardly. He had recourse, in a desultory manner, to half-measures, which, while sufficient to defeat his opponent, gave it publicity, so that it won the attention, esteem, and finally the confidence of the masses. In the last analysis, these timid reactions strengthened the enemy instead of weakening it. And then, like many others, Kerensky did not see the danger. At that moment hardly anyone anticipated a Bolshevik victory. It is notable that even in that party itself, Lenin was almost alone in his certainty of winning and almost alone insisted that opportunity for preparing for an insurrection was at hand.
Finally Kerensky, pressed by the Allies, and hypnotized by his own dreams and probably by his own speeches, had the misfortune of launching, on June 18, his now famous offensive on the German front -- an offensive which failed miserably and struck a terrible blow to his popularity. And on July 3 an armed uprising against the Government, participated in by troops (and by sailors from the Kronstadt fortress) broke out in Petrograd, with cries of "Down with Kerensky! Long live the Social Revolution! All power to the Soviets!" This time Kerensky still could master the situation, though with difficulty. Nevertheless he lost the very shadow of his former influence.
Then an event occurred which gave him the coup de grace. Made desperate by the rising tide of the Revolution and by Keren-sky's indecision, a "White" general, Kornilov, brought from the front several thousand soldiers (mostly from Caucasian regiments- -- in effect colonial troops -- more easily duped and manipulated than others), deceived them about what was happening in the capital, and sent them to Petrograd under the command of another general who swore that he would "put an end to the bands of armed criminals and defend the Government, which is powerless to exterminate them."
For reasons which perhaps will someday be known specifically, Kerensky gave only feeble resistance to Kornilov -- a token resistance. The capital was saved only by the furious determination, the prodigious effort, and sublime spirit of sacrifice of the city's workers. With the aid of the Petrograd Soviet's left wing, several thousand of the workers armed themselves hastily and departed on their own initiative for "the front" against Kornilov. A battle, on the outskirts of the capital, remained indecisive.
The workers did not yield an inch of territory. But they left many dead on the field, and were not sure of having enough men and munitions for the next day. However, thanks to the quick and energetic action of the railroad and telegraph workers, assisted by soldiers' committees on the battle-line, Kornilov's headquarters were isolated from the front and from the whole country.
In the night, that commander's soldiers, surprised by the heroic resistance of [men who had been described to them as] "bandits, criminals, and idlers", and suspecting trickery, decided to examine the dead. They discovered that the bodies all had the calloused hands of bona fide industrial workers. Presently, too, a few groups of Socialists from the Caucasus who were then in Petrograd managed to get a delegation into Kornilov's camp. The delegates conferred with the soldiers there, told them the real situation, dispelled the myth of the "bandits", and persuaded them to abandon the fratricidal fight. Next morning, Kornilov's men, declaring that they had been deceived, refused to continue fighting against their brother workers and returned to the main front. The Kornilov adventure ended.
Immediately after this, public opinion accused Kerensky of secretly conniving with Kornilov. Whether true or not, this story was widely believed. Morally the situation spelled the finish of the Kerensky government and, in general, of the moderate Socialists. The way was open for a resolute offensive by the Bolshevik Party.
Then another event of major importance occurred. In new elections of delegates (to the Soviets, factory committees, and soldiers' committees) the Bolsheviks scored a crushing victory over the moderate Socialists. Thus that party attained full control of all working class and revolutionary activity. With the collaboration of the left Social Revolutionaries the Bolsheviks likewise gained wide sympathy among the peasants. They were now in an excellent strategic position for a decisive attack.
At this juncture Lenin conceived the idea of calling a Pan-Russian congress of Soviets, which would rise against Kerensky, overthrow him with the help of the Army, and inaugurate Bolshevik power. And preparations to carry out that plan began at once, partly in the open, partly in secret. Compelled to hide, Lenin directed the necessary operations by remote control. Keren-sky, while suspecting the danger, was powerless to avert it. Events moved swiftly. The last act of the drama was about to start.
It is fitting at this point to sum up certain outstanding elements in the Russian situation in that period.
All the conservative or moderate governments which officiate! from February to October, 1917, proved their impotence to solve under the existing conditions, the exceptionally acute problem with which the Revolution had confronted the people of Russia This was the principal reason why the nation threw out, one afte the other in the short space of eight months, the bourgeois con stitutional government, the democratic bourgeois government, an the two moderate Socialist governments.
Two facts especially marked this impotence:
1. The impossibility of the country continuing the war, and of any of the four governments cited ending it.
2. The urgency with which the people awaited the calling of the Constituent Assembly, and the inability of those governments to call it.
The insistent propaganda of the extreme left for immediate cessation of the war, for immediate summoning of the Assembly, and for the integral Social Revolution as the only way to safety, with other factors of less importance, animated the thunderous march of the Revolution.
Thus the Russian Revolution, which had broken out in February, as an uprising against Tsarism, rapidly outgrew the stages of a bourgeois political revolution, and of democratic and moderate Socialism.
In October, the road being cleared of all obstacles, the Revolution was set, effectively and completely, on a social revolutionary basis. And therefore it was logical and natural that, after the failure of all the moderate governments and political parties, the working masses should turn to the last party remaining, the only one which looked toward the Social Revolution without fear, the only one which promised, if it were given power, a speedy and happy solution for all the existing problems -- the Bolshevik Party.
The Anarchist movement, we must repeat, was still much too weak to have tangible influence on events. And there was no Syndicalist movement.
From a social point of view, the situation was as follows:
Three fundamental elements existed: 1. the bourgeoisie; 2. the working class; 3. the Bolshevik Party, acting as ideologue and "advance guard".
The bourgeoisie, as the reader knows, was weak. The Bolsheviki would not have too much trouble in eliminating it.
The working class also was weak. Unorganized (in the true sense of the word), inexperienced, and basically unaware of its true task, it could do nothing by itself in its own interests. It left everything to the Bolsheviks, who seized control of the action.
We will add a note here which anticipates developments somewhat, but which will enable the reader to follow and understand them better.
This inadequacy of the Russian working class at the beginning of the Revolution subsequently proved fatal to the whole Revolution. [Apropos of this] there was an evil debit left over from the abortive revolution of 1905-06; at that time the workers did not win the right to organize; they remained scattered. In 1917 they felt the effects of that fact.
[Consider the early course of the Bolshevik Party after it took control]. Instead of simply helping the workers to achieve the Revolution and emancipate themselves, instead of aiding them in their struggle, the role to which the workers assigned it in their thoughts, the role which, normally, would be that of all revolutionary ideologists, and which never [properly] includes taking and exercising "political power" -- instead of performing this role, the Bolshevik party, once in control, installed itself as absolute master. It was quickly corrupted. It organized itself as a privileged caste. And later it flattened and subjected the working class in order to exploit it, under new forms, in its own interest.
Because of this the whole Revolution was falsified, misled. For, when the masses of the people became cognizant of their danger, it was too late. After a struggle between them and the new masters, solidly organized and in possession of ample material, administrative, military, and police strength, the people succumbed. That bitter and unequal conflict went on for some three years, and for a long time remained practically unknown outside of Russia. The real emancipating revolution again was stifled, and by the "revolutionaries" themselves.
Let it be explained here that "political power" is not a force in itself. It is strong when it can base itself on capital, the arms of the State, the Army, the police. Lacking those supports it remains "suspended in the void", powerless, and unable to operate. The Russian Revolution has given formal proof of this. After February, 1917, the Russian bourgeoisie had "political power" in its hands, yet it was actually powerless, and its "power" fell by itself two months later. Following its bankruptcy it no longer possessed any real force -- neither productive capital, nor mass confidence, nor a solid State apparatus, nor an Army of its own. The second and third provisional governments fell in the same manner and for the same reason. And it is highly probable that if the Bolsheviki had not precipitated events, the Kerensky regime would have met precisely the same fate a little later.
Manifestly it follows that if the Social Revolution is in the process of taking over [a nation] (so that capital, land, mines, factories, means of communication, and money begin to pass into the hands of the people, and the Army makes common cause with the latter) there is no reason to be concerned about "political power" If the defeated classes attempt, in line with tradition, to form a government, what importance could it have? Even if they should succeed in that, it would be a phantom government, ineffectual and easily suppressed by the slightest effort of the armed people.
And as for the Revolution, what need has it of a "government" of "political power"? It has only one task to perform, that of advancing by the same course as the people, to organize itself, to consolidate itself, to perfect itself economically, to defend itself if need be, to extend itself, to build a new social life for the masses. Which has nothing to do with "political power". For all this is a normal function of the revolutionary people themselves, of their various economic and social organizations, their ordinating federations, their defence formations.
What is "political power" fundamentally? What is "political" activity? How many times have I posed these questions to members of left political parties without ever being able to obtain an intelligible definition or answer! How can one define "political" activity as an activity in itself, specifically useful for the community having a definite reason for existing? One can describe and define more or less precisely other activity -- social, economic, administrative, juridical, diplomatic, cultural. But "political" activity -- what is it? It is maintained that this term denotes exactly a central administrative activity, indispensable for a widely extended group: for a nation. But then does "political power" mean "administrative power"?
It is easy to see that these two ideas are not at all identical. Consciously or unconsciously, power and administration are thus confused (just as State and society are confused). The fact is that administrative activity is not separate -- cannot be separated -- from any branch of human activity; it is an integral part of it. It functions in all activity in so far as it is a principle of organization, of co-ordination, or normal centralization (to the degree that it is needed) federatively -- and from the periphery toward the centre.
For certain kinds of human activity, one can conceive of a general administration. In each field, or in a group of fields, the men possessing the ability to organize should normally exercise the function of organizers, or "administrators" -- a function which is simply a part of the whole activity of the field in question. These men, workers like the others, could thus insure the "administration of things" (contact, cohesion, equilibrium, et cetera) without having to establish a rigid political power as such. And "political power", like every other "thing apart", remains undefinable, because it does not correspond to any normal, real, concrete human activity. That is why "political power" becomes empty and falls of its own weight when the real functions are carried out normally, by their corresponding services. "As such", it cannot exist, for there is no specific "political" function in a human community.
A. A. Goldenweiser, a Russian jurist, recounts in his memoirs [Kievan Reminiscences, in Archives of the Russian Revolution, Vol. VI, pp. 161-303, [Moscow?] 1922.] that he lived during the Revolution in a city in the Ukraine which was in a notably unstable zone. In the course of events that city was left several times without "power", either White or Red. And with astonishment, M. Goldenweiser reports that during the whole period the people there lived, worked, and took care of their own needs as well as, or even better than, when there was "power." M. Goldenweiser was not the only one to mention that fact. What is surprising is that he was astonished at it.
Is it "power" that makes men live, act, and organize to satisfy their needs? In all human history, has there ever been a "power" which rendered society well organized, harmonious, and happy? History teaches us the opposite: human societies are -- to a degree that it is historically possible -- happy, harmonious, and progressive in periods when political power is weak (vide ancient Greece or certain periods in the Middle Ages) and where the people have been more or less let alone by it. And vice versa: a strong "political power" never gives the people anything but misfortunes, wars poverty, stagnation.
"Political" power took form in the evolution of human society for special historical reasons, which in our time no longer exist. We cannot concern ourselves here with this matter; it would take us too far from our subject. We shall confine ourselves to stating that fundamentally, for thousands of years, "power" has never produced anything but wars. All scholarly writings [on that theme] testify to this. And [recent decades in Russia have demonstrated] it in a striking manner.
It is contended that in order to "administrate" it is necessary to be able to impose, command, coerce. Thus a "political power" is a central administration of a large group (of a country) which possesses the means of coercion. But, in case of need, a popular administrative service, as such, can have recourse to measures of this sort, without having to set up a specific, permanent "political power", and even more efficiently than the latter.
Also it is argued that the masses are incapable of organizing themselves and of creating by themselves an effective administration. Farther on in this work the reader will find, I hope, ample proof to the contrary.
If, in the midst of a social revolution, the political parties want to amuse themselves by "organizing power" the people have only to pursue their revolutionary tasks, leaving the parties isolated; they will soon abandon this useless game. If after February, 1917, and especially after October, the Russian workers, instead of creating new masters, had simply continued their tasks, helped by all the revolutionists, defended by their own Army, and supported by the country at large, the very idea of "political power" soon would have disappeared.
In the pages which follow the reader will come upon various facts, publicly unknown until now, which will confirm this thesis.
We hope that the next revolution will travel the right road, and not let itself be misled by the political "palace revolutionists".

CHAPTER 5: The Bolshevik Revolution

At the end of October, 1917, the climax drew near in Russia. The masses were ready for a new revolution. Several spontaneous uprisings since July (the one already mentioned in Petrograd, one in Kaluga, another in Kazan) and disturbances among both troops and civilians, were adequate evidence of this. From that time onward the Bolshevik Party saw itself in a position to avail itself of two real forces—the confidence of the great masses and a large majority in the Army. It went into action and feverishly prepared for a decisive battle which it was determined to win. Its agitation was furious. It put the finishing touches on the formation of workers' and soldiers' units for the crucial combat. Also it organized, completely, its own units and drew up, for use in the event of success, the composition of the projected Bolshevik government, with Lenin at its head. He watched developments closely and issued his final instructions. Trotsky, Lenin's right-hand man, who had returned several months earlier from the United States, where he had lived after his escape from Siberia, was to share a considerable portion of the power.
The left Social Revolutionists were collaborating with the Bolsheviki. The Anarcho-Syndicalists and the Anarchists, few in numbers and badly organized, yet very active, did everything they could to support and encourage the action of the masses against Kerensky. However, they tried to orient the new revolution away from the political course of the conquest of power by a new party, and to put it on the true social road, toward free organization and collaboration, in a spirit of liberty.
The ensuing course of events is fairly well known. We shall recount the facts briefly.
Having recognized the extreme weakness of the Kerensky government, won the sympathy of an overwhelming majority of the working masses, and having been assured of the active support of the Kronstadt fleet—always the vanguard of the Revolution— and of the majority of the Petrograd troops, the Bolshevik Party's central committee set the insurrection for October 25. The Pan-Russian Congress of Soviets was called for the same day.
In the minds of the central committee, this congress—the great majority of its delegates being Bolsheviks who supported their party's directives blindly—would, if need be, proclaim and uphold the Revolution, rally all of the country's revolutionary forces, and stand up to the eventual resistance of Kerensky.
On the evening of October 25 the insurrection came off, effectively. The congress met in Petrograd as scheduled. But it did not have to intervene.
There was no street fighting, no barricades, no widespread combat. Everything happened simply and quickly.
Abandoned by everyone, but holding fast to its illusions, the Kerensky government was sitting in the Winter Palace in the capital. It was defended by a battalion of the "elite" guards, a battalion of women, and a handful of young cadets.
Some detachments of troops won over by the Bolsheviki, acting according to a plan worked out jointly by the Congress of Soviets and the party's central committee, surrounded the palace and attacked its guards. This action of the troops was supported by some of the battleships of the Baltic fleet, brought from Kronstadt and drawn up in the Neva opposite the palace. Most notable was the cruiser Aurora.
After a short skirmish and a few cannon-shot from the cruiser, the Bolshevik troops took the palace.
Meanwhile, however, Kerensky had managed to flee. The other members of the Government were arrested.
Thus, in Petrograd, the "insurrection" was limited to a minor military operation, led by the Bolsheviks. Once the seat of government was emptied, the party's central committee installed itself there as conqueror. The overturn was virtually a palace revolution.
An attempt by Kerensky to march on Petrograd with some troops summoned from the front (Cossacks, and again the Caucasian division) failed—thanks to the vigorous armed intervention of the capital's working masses, and especially of the Kronstadt sailors, who quickly came to the rescue. In a battle near Gatchina, on the outskirts of Petrograd, a part of Kerensky's troops were beaten, and another part went over to the revolutionary camp. Kerensky fled and escaped abroad.
In Moscow and elsewhere, the seizure of power by the Bolsheviks was attended with greater difficulty.
Moscow saw ten days of furious fighting between the revolutionary forces and those of reaction. There were many victims. Several sections of the city were heavily damaged by artillery fire. Finally the Revolution won.
In certain other cities also, the victory was gained only after intense struggle.
But the countryside, for the most part, remained calm, or rather, indifferent. The peasants were too much absorbed in their own local preoccupations. For some time they had been in the process of solving the "agrarian problem" for themselves. In any case, they could see nothing wrong in the Bolsheviks taking power. Once they had the land, and didn't have to fear the return of the pomestchiki, the big land-owners, they were nearly satisfied, and gave little thought to the occupants of the throne. They didn't expect any harm from the Bolsheviki. And they had heard it said that the latter wanted to end the war, which seemed perfectly just and reasonable to them. Thus they had no reason to oppose the new involution.
The way in which that revolution was accomplished illustrates very well the uselessness of a struggle for "political power". If, for one reason or another, such power is supported by a strong section of the populace and especially by the Army, it would be impossible to win against it, and therefore futile to attack it. But if, on the contrary, it is abandoned by the majority of the people and by the Army—which occurs in every genuine revolution— then it is not worth bothering with. At the slightest gesture of the armed people, it will fall like a house of cards. It is necessary to be concerned, not with "political" power, but with the real power of the Revolution, with its inexhaustible, spontaneous, potential forces, its irresistible spirit, the far-flung horizons it opens—in short, with the enormous possibilities it brings in its train.
However, in several regions, notably in the East and in Central Russia, the victory of the Bolsheviks was not complete. Counterrevolutionary movements soon appeared. They consolidated themselves, gained in importance, and led to a civil war which lasted until the end of 1921.
One of those movements, headed by General Anton Ivano-vitch Denikin, took on the proportions of an uprising which seriously threatened the power of the Bolsheviks. Starting from the depths of Southern Russia, Denikin's army almost reached the gates of Moscow in the summer of 1919.
Also very dangerous was another uprising launched by General Baron Peter Wrangel in the same region. And a third movement of White Russians organized by Admiral Alexander Vassilievitch Kolchak in Siberia was for a time conspicuously menacing. Marching with his army from his headquarters in Omsk westward to the Ural mountains, he vanquished the Bolsheviki in several battles.
Other counter-revolutionary rebellions were of less importance.
The greater part of these movements was partly supported and given supplies through foreign intervention. Some were backed and even politically directed by the moderate Socialists, the right Social Revolutionaries, and the Mensheviks.
On the other hand, the Bolshevik power had to carry on a long and difficult struggle in two directions—against its ex-partners, the left Social Revolutionaries, and against the Anarchist movement and ideology. Naturally, these leftist movements did not fight the Bolsheviks on the counter-revolutionary side, but, on the contrary, in the name of "the true Social Revolution", betrayed, in their opinion, by the Bolshevik Party in power.
Beyond question, the birth, and especially the extent and strength of the counter-revolutionary forces, were the inevitable result of the bankruptcy of the Bolshevik power, and of its inability to organize a new economic and social life for the Russian people. Farther on the reader will see what the real development of the October Revolution was, and also what were the means by which the new power had to impose itself, maintain itself, master the storm, and "solve" after its own fashion the problems of the Revolution.
Not until the end of 1922 could the Bolshevik Party feel itself completely—at least for a moment in history—master of the situation.
On the ruins of Tsarism and of the bourgeois-feudal system, it was now necessary to begin to build a new society.

  • 1The reader should not be surprised it this weakness. He must realize that in Russia then the bourgeoisie -- weak, disorganized, and wholly dependent on the State -- had no initiative, ro real strength, and could play no organizing role in the national ecoiomy; that the industrial workers and the peasants -- serfs, with no voice aor rights -- were less than nothing in the empire's economic life and cared nothing for the Tsarist State; and that thus the whole mechanism, political, economic or and social, was in the hands of Tsarist functionaries. once the war disrupted this class and upset its obsolete machinery, everything went to pieces.