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Full text of "The Bolshevik revolution : its rise and meaning"

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i TheBOLSHEVIK 
t REVOLUTION : 

~ JLts Rise and Meaning 

By 

MAXIM LITVINOFF 



= 



{Plenipotentiary of the Russian People's Government 
to Great Britain) 



With Foreword by E. C. FAIRCHILD 



ONE SHILLING NET 






_557 I LONDON: 

L918 Rrttish Sooifllist Party, 21a Maiden Lane, 

. [■ Strand, W.C.2 



iiHimiiimiiiiiiiiminimiiimiiiimiimmmHnfii 



-1^ 



Presented to the 

UBRARYofthe 

UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO 

by 

SCOTT TH(»1PS0N 



Printed hy the National Labour Press Ltd. 

(48 liours and Trade I'^nion Labour throu4h()ut), 

8 & 9 Jolinson's Court, Fleet St., London. E.C.4. 

Also at Manchester. 




D 



The BOLSHEVIK 
REVOLUTION: 

Its Rise and Meaning i 



MAXIM LITVINOFF 

{Plenipotentiary of the Russian People's Government 
to Great Britain) 



With Foreword by E. C. FAIRCHILD 



LONDON : 

British Socialist Party, 21a Maiden Lane, 
Strand, W.C. 2 

1918 



IlllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllHllliHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII 



CONTENTS 



PAGE 



Foreword .. .. .. 7 

Preface .. .. .. .. g 

I. The First Revolution (1905) 11 
II. The War 17 

III. The Revolution of March, 
1917 .. .. .. 24 

IV. Anti- Bolshevism in Ascen- 
dancy .. .. ..30 

V. The Bolshevik Revolution 37 

VI. The Bolshevik Programme 

of Peace .. .. ..50 



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FOREWORD 

I COMMEND briefly this ibook by my friend, Maxim 
Litvinoff. 

The memorable uprising' of the Russian people 
indicates that not even the keenest discernment can 
always accurately appraise the immediate course of 
events dependent upon the action of the working class. 
There were but few among Socialists in Western and 
Middle Europe who held the belief that the War would 
lead to working-class control in Russia, and the conse- 
quent removal of the gravest menace to a democratised 
Germany. Wide difference in conditions notwith- 
standing, the intensification of work, never to be 
assuaged by proposals for industrial harmony between 
Capital and Labour, may lead to action here as 
unexpected as the events that mark the recent history 
of Russia. 

Though the members of the British Socialist Party 
were among the first to welcome the March Revolu- 
tion they were not without misgiving as to the 
practical worth of the Provisional Government. The 
Revolution had been made in the name of the solidarity 
of the working classes and in order that the power of 
the possessors of land and capital might be abridged 
in the interests of the common people. The British 
►Socialist Party was, T believe, the first of European 
Socialist organisations to see that the predecessors of 
the Bolsheviks had no intention of erecting a social 
organisation based on the truths that Labour is the 
source of all economic values and that enduring peace 
will only be obtained by the international agreement of 
peoples. In our Party organ "The Call," we urged 

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that the taking of power by the Soviets was the one 
course that would save Russia from destruction at the 
hands of her enemies, within and without ; the ultimate 
acceptance of that view and the administrative success 
of the Soviets prove the wisdom of that policy. With 
the general policy of the Bolsheviks the British 
Socialist Party is in hearty agreement. 

In this country industrialism long since framed a 
constitution, and for generations we have been accus- 
tomed to a process of slow, gradual change effected by 
law and order. There are no signs that the Socialist 
and Laibour movement in Britain will cease to follow 
the political methods with which we are familiar. Yet 
we are driven on towards ;the time when Labour will be 
forced to choose between further dependence on pure 
constitutional practice, then to become meaningless, or, 
thrusting aside conventional forms, to take power after 
the summary fashion of the Bolsheviks. Litvinoff's 
book is a contribution to the study of that problem in 
tactics. E. C. Fairchild. 



(8) 



PREFACE 

The following pages were written some little time 
ago, but subsequent events have not made it necessary 
to revise a single opinion expressed therein. On the 
contrary, these events have even corroborated what I 
had already written with regard to the deep-rooted 
authority of the Soviet Government and its firm hold 
on the' affections and loyalty of the popular masses in 
Russia. The calamities which have recently befallen 
my country, beginning with the compulsory signing of 
the disastrous Brest-Litovsk peace, the further foreign 
occupation of Russian territory, the threatened 
Japanese invasion of Siberia, the defeats of the Red 
Guards in the Ukraine and in Finland — have not 
been able to shake the confidence of the Russian 
workers and peasants in their Government. There 
has not been a single popular revolt, not one manifesta- 
tion of popular hostility. Is there any Government 
known before to history which could weather such 
storms? To speak now of the "illegality" or 
ephemerality of the Soviet Government is mere political 
hypocrisy, coupled with ignorance. 

The explanation of this extraordinary stability is to 
be found in the ever-deepening consciousness of the 
Russian labour masses that the Soviet is their own 
Government, that for its victories and defeats, its 
failures and successes, they are themselves responsible, 
controlling, as they do, in the most direct way, both 
local and central power. They are also growing con- 
scious that the non-attainment of a General Peace and 
of the International aims of the Russian Revolution, 
cannot be attributed to any one nation, least of all to 

(9) 
2 



Russia itself, which has developed its utmost revolu- 
tionary energy in the attempt to free the world for ever 
from capitalism and sang-uinary imperialism. They 
see, with their leaders, that the final success of these 
aims depends entirely upon the co-operation of the 
proletariat of all capitalist countries. In establishing 
the new social order and in implanting the banner of 
Socialism in Russia the Russian workers were not 
actuated only by the interests of the working classes 
within a certain limited area, but looked upon them- 
selves as the vanguard of the International Proletariat 
in its struggle for emancipation. 

It is the International character of the Russian 
Revolution that has not yet been fully understood 
or appreciated by the workers of other countries, but 
the Russian proletariat believes that, sooner or later, 
with the accumulating horrors of the war, the signi- 
ficance of its struggle will force itself upon the minds 
of the workers in other lands, impelling them to come 
to the rescue. It is this firm belief that maintains and 
cheers Revolutionary Russia in her dark hour. 

MAXIM LITVINOFF. 

London, April, 191 8. 



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The Bolshevik Revolution 

Its Rise and Meaning 



I. The First Revolution (1905) 

SOCIALISM IN POWER. 

November 6-7, 191 7, will form one of the most 
momentous dates in modern history; in those days a 
Socialist revolution took place in Russia, and the work- 
ing class allied with the peasantry came to power. 
Because the revolution was accomplished literally over- 
night without the loss of a single drop of blood, under 
the eyes of a world which had become accustomed, after 
three years of universal slaughter, to judge everything 
from the point of view of its bearing upon the further 
course of the war, the significance of the event was not 
at first grasped even by those whom it concerned most 
closely — the! Socialists and the working class of other 
countries. They who, for a generation and more, had 
cheered the "Social Revolution" at the close of every 
propaganda meeting and national and international 
party congress and had celebrated year after year the 
memory of the Paris Commune as the great pledge of 
the future — they, too, failed at first to perceive that that 
pledge had been realised under their very eyes on a 
scale incomparably larger than the Commune of Paris, 
and that the "Social Revolution" was actually upon 



them. For the revolution in Russia was no mere 
change of persons or parties at the head of the State; 
it was a change of classes at the fountain of power and 
a change of the order of society, both poHtioal and 
economic. Russia was to be no longer a bourgeois 
(middle class) democratic republic, after the French or 
American model, ruled by a Parliament and president, 
but a social republic of the labouring classes, in which 
the power was wielded, both centrally and locally, by 
direct delegates of the working class and the peasantry 
under their immediate and active control in the interests 
of those classes themselves on the sole principle that 
labour was the source of all values and that its instru- 
ments must be the common property of the people. 
This was not only a Social, but also a Socialist Revolu- 
tion, the practical implications of which were to be 
worked out by the masses themselves under the 
guidance of the Socialists of the "Bolshevik" school 
(as the revolutionary wing of the Socialist movement is 
called in Russia*), to whose foresight, initiative, and 
courage the Great Change was due. 

CONDITIONS IN RUSSIA. 

How, it may well be asked, did it all come about? 
How, indeed, was such a revolution possible at all in a 
country so backward, economically and politically, as 
Russia? Without wishing to be paradoxical, one may 
reply that the explanation of this apparent incongruity 
lies in the very backwardness of Russia — in the fact 
that Russia has not been able to produce a proper capi- 
talist order, with a powerful capitalist class, such as in 
other countries has long been in possession of the 
machinery of the State, has reorganised it on settled 
democratic and parliamentary lines, and has for genera- 

* "Bolshevik" is a bastard word signifying a .person belonging 
to the majority. It was coined after the first split of the 
Russian Social Democratic party in 1903, when the more mode- 
rate wing was left in a minority and the revoJutionary wing 
gained a majority of votes. 

(.2) 



tions dominated the minds of the people, including the 
working- class itself. It is just because all these essen- 
tial conditions of modern "bourgeois" life were lacking 
in Russia, (because the capitalist middle class were so 
weak £LS actually to seek shelter under the wings of an 
antiquated autocratic State system instead of fighting 
it, and because the working class, and even the 
peasantry, had not yet succumbed to the bourgeois 
order of moral and political ideas, that the influence of 
revolutionary and Socialist ideas among the peoples of 
Russia became possible, and, in face of the utter con- 
tradiction between the requirements of progress and 
freedom of modern life and the vile, despotic regime of 
the Autocracy and the landed nobility, Indeed, 
inevitable. More than a generation ago the first 
Russian Socialist thinkers of the Marxist school had 
perceived and proclaimed to the astonished world that 
in Russia a political revolution would. In the absence of 
a vigorous capitalist middle class, be effected by the 
working class, or not be effected at all, and the revolu- 
tion of 1905 fully bore out the prognosis. In that revo- 
lution the ^middle-class democracy completely failed In 
the discharge of the mission which historically had 
fallen upon it in other countries before, and it was the 
working class, assisted in an Inarticulate fashion by the 
peasant masses, which carried out the work from start 
to finish. In fact, if that revolution did not victoriously 
achieve its aim, it was due to that very failure of the 
capitalist middle classes — the bourgeoisie, to- use the 
familiar term — who at the critical moment recoiled 
before the open attack against Tsardom, and, 
accepting from its hands a wretched sop, renounced all 
further struggle, and even turned against the working 
class. 

TACTICAL DIFFERENCES AMONG RUSSIAN 
SOCIALISTS. 

But in those early revolutionary days of 1905 the 
revolutionary front itself was already exhibiting certain 

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lines of cleavage which it is important to note. Two 
years previously the Social Democratic Party, whose 
agitation among the industrial masses caused their 
marvellous quickening in 1905, had split into two sec- 
tions, one more moderate, the "Mensheviks," and the 
other more revolutionary and uncompromising, the 
"Bolsheviks." The former were now arguing that the 
revolution must be regarded essentially as one similar to 
those which had preceded it in Europe, that is, as a 
bourgeois revolution destined to bring the capitalist 
class to power and to establish a bourgeois State. The 
latter, on the contrary, were of the opinion that inas- 
much as the hegemony in the revolution clearly belonged 
to the working class, with which the landless peasantry 
was in alliance, it must and should lead to the establish- 
ment of the proletarian rule, and, at least, to a consider- 
able modification of the ibourgeois State in a Socialist 
direction. Trotsky went so far as to assert that that 
State could be directly established on Socialist lines. 
Accordingly, the Mensheviks were throughout in favour 
of a political alliance with the bourgeoisie, especially 
the so-called Constitutional Democrats ("Cadets," for 
short), and were opposed to the continuance of the 
struggle beyond the point accepted by them as, provi- 
sionally or permanently, final. On the other hand, the 
Bolsheviks demanded that the proletariat should go on 
with the revolutionary fight, even against the will of the 
ibourgeoisie, so long as it enjoyed the support of the 
landless peasantry. Hence, when the Tsar issued his 
famous "Constitutional Manifesto" of October 30 
(1905) under the pressure of a general strike and the 
Liberals accepted it as the end of the struggle, the 
Mensheviks also laid down their arms, while the 
Bolsheviks, distrusting the Tsar's promises, organised 
yet a second general strike and an armed insurrection in 
Moscow. Their efforts failed to bring about the desired 
result, viz., the overthrow of the entire Tsardom, root 
and branch, because of the division in the ranks of the 
proletariat and the lack of support of that section of the 
peasantry which formed the standing army; but the 

(>4) 



divergence of views was fraught with most important 
consequences. 

THE POLICY AFTER THE REVOLUTION. 

These showed themselves very soon after the triumph 
of the counter-revolution and the passing of the first 
horrors of its gallows. Of course, the "constitution" 
granted by the Tsar in 1905 duly turned out to be a 
fraud, as predicted by the Bolsheviks, and so far from 
helping the bourgeois State in coming into being, as 
had been expected by the Cadets and the Mensheviks, 
it entirely subjected the bourgeoisie to the power and 
influence of the Tsardom. What was to be done next? 
The Bolsheviks, faithful to their principles, argued that 
now, as before, the duty of the Social Democracy was 
to organise the working class for the revolution, that 
for that object it must carry on among it a revolutionary 
and Socialist propaganda, and educate it for collective 
revolutionary action against the Autocracy. Their 
opponents, the Mensheviks, disagreed with them. The 
next revolution, in their opinion, was to be made prin- 
cipally by the bourgeoisie — with the help, it is true, of 
the working class. The duty of Social Democracy was, 
they considered, to back every effort of Liberalism to 
combat the Autocracy in the Duma and elsewhere, and 
to influence the bourgeoisie in that direction. As for 
revolutionary agitation among the working class, the 
Mensheviks held that it was both futile in view of the 
savage reactionary regime instituted by the counter- 
revolution, and mischievous because it would auto- 
matically transform the Socialist parties into "illegal" 
subterranean organisations, with conspirative habits 
and methods, and thus prevent them from becoming the 
advance guard of a mass-movement of the proletariat 
such as was witnessed in other countries. They went 
so far as to argue that a revolutionary movement among 
the proletariat was, under the obtaining conditions, not 
only impossible, but would, if it were possible, only 
frighten off the bourgeoisie, as it had done in 1905, and 
thereby condemn itself to failure. 

('5) 



Again the Bolsheviks proved right. While the Men- 
sheviks were writing articles against the evils of the 
counter-revolutionary regime on the one hand, and the 
tactics of the Bolsheviks on the other, the latter were 
organising and educating the working class, with the 
result that the year 1910 saw the first political strikes 
and demonstrations, the next year saw them in greater 
frequency and on a larger scale, and then the revolu- 
tionary wave of the proletarian movement began to rise 
higher and higher in the shape of political strikes and 
mass-protests against the evil deeds of the Autocracy 
until barricades suddenly made their appearance in the 
streets of Petrograd — on the very day when the fatal 
order for mobilisation was issued by the Tsar ! This 
is a cardinal fact to remember; Russia was in the inci- 
pient throes of another revolution when the war broke 
out, and the leaders of that revolution were the 
Bolsheviks. 



(,6) 



II. The War 

THE PRE-WAR PLEDGES OF THE 
SOCIALISTS. 

The war, as is well known, proved the political grave of 
almost every Socialist party in Europe. Less than two 
years previously, in November, 1912, in the midst of 
the first Balkan war, the Socialist International had 
assembled in Basel, Switzerland, to swear uncom- 
promising- hostility to any attempt on the part of the 
European Governments to create a universal conflict. 
It issued a Manifesto endorsing- in solemn accents the 
famous War Resolution adopted at the International 
Socialist Congresses of Stuttgart (1907) and Copen- 
hagen (19 10) : — 

"If war threatens to break out, the working class 
and its parliamentary representatives in the countries 
affected are bound, with the support of the unifying 
activity of the International Socialist Bureau, to do 
all they can, by employing the means which appear to 
them most effective, to prevent the outbreak of the 
war. . . . Should, however, war break out, the 
Socialists are bound to intervene for its earliest cessa- 
tion and to make every possible use of the economic 
and political crisis caused by the war, in order to 
rouse the people and thus to accelerate the downfall 
of the domination of Capital." 

The resolution had been carefully worded at Stuttgart 
in order not to^ give the German police a handle against 
the German Socialists, but everybody had well under- 
stood the meaning of the phrase, "means which appear 

(17) 



to them most effective," and of the words, **rouse the 
people." The Basel Manifesto, indeed, spoke quite 
plainly when it said : — 

"The Congress invites the workers of all countries 
to oppose the power of the international solidarity of 
the proletariat tocapltahst Imperialism. It warns the 
ruling- classes in all countries against the conse- 
quences of the further deterioration of the wretched 
condition of the masses, as caused by the capitalist 
mode of production, by warlike operations, and most 
urgently and insistently demands the preservation of 
peace. Let the Governments remember that in the 
present condition of Europe and in the present temper 
of the working class they cannot let loose the furies of 
war without creating a grave danger for themselves. 
Let them remember that the Franco-Prussian war 
was followed by the Commune, that the Russo- 
Japanese war set Into motion the revolutionary forces 
of all the peoples of the Russian Empire." 

It is thus plain that in the opinion of the International 
assembled at Basel the outbreak of a European war 
w^ould fully justify revolutionary action on the part of 
the working classes. And lest the clear issue between 
"capitalist Imperialism" and the "international soli- 
darity of the proletariat" in any future war might be 
confused by various national and humanitarian watch- 
words (as we now know has actually happened) the 
Basel Manifesto, with a truly prophetic insight, pro- 
ceeded to review in detail the numerous separate con- 
flicts then maturing, in order to expose their true 
nature. Beginning with Turkey, it said that "the 
Great Powers had systematically obstructed the course 
of reforms" in the Ottoman Empire, whereby an Intoler- 
able economic and political state of affairs had been 
brought about there, which the Balkan States "were 
now trying to exploit in the interests of their respective 
dynasties and capitalist middle classes." On the other 
hand, referring to the policy pursued in the Balkans by 
Austria-Hungary, it spoke of the "attempts made by 

(.8) 



it against Serbia" with a view to "turning- it into a 
colony of the Danuibian Monarchy." Again, it warned 
against the rivalries of Austria-Hungary and Italy in 
Albania, who "under the guise of Albania's autonomy" 
were fighting to draw that country "within their respec- 
tive spheres of influence." As regards Russia, it 
observed that " should Tsardom once more come for- 
ward as the liberator of the Balkan nations it would 
only do so in order to make it a pretext for obtaining, 
by means of a bloody war, the predominance in the 
Balkans," and urged that "the overthrow of Tsardom 
must be considered by the entire International as one of 
its chief aims." Turning to the other Powers, it 
denounced in advance any and every armed conflict 
between them as "a piece of criminal insanity," and the 
antagonisms between them as "artificial," being due to 
"policies of conquests'" carried on by them in Asia 
Minor. 

THE COLLAPSE OF THE INTERNATIONAL 
AND THE RUSSIAN WORKERS. 

To all these sentiments and views of the international 
situation the Socialist parties represented at Basel sub- 
scribed with enthusiasm. And the result? As soon as 
war broke out the overwhelming majority of them 
sprang to the side of their respective Governments, all 
pledges were forgotten, and the nationalist watchwords 
were caught up with extreme avidity. Never had such 
a sudden and complete collapse of a great movement 
and a great faith been witnessed in history. And the 
Russian working classes, the Russian Socialists? 
Alone among the labouring masses of Europe those of 
Russia received the mobilisation order and the news of 
the outbreak of war with undisguised hostility and with 
a clear insight into the hidden Imperialist springs of 
the conflict. For several days, in spite of the large 
inroads made in their ranks by the mobilisation of the 
army, the revolutionary working class of Petrograd 
kept up an attitude of menacing expectancy, in the hope 

(■9) 



that their brethren in Germany and Austria, .as well as 
in France and Great Britain, would support them. Alas, 
the support w.as not forthcoming-. On the contrary, the 
Socialists in the West were voting the war credits and 
proclaiming a national truce with the capitalists ! In 
Russia itself the collapse of at least one party was 
also complete; the bulk of the Menshevik leaders — for 
the most part intellectuals — had gone over bag and 
baggage to the patriotic camp. It is true that the Men- 
shevik leaders in the Duma abstained from voting the 
war credits; but that was not enough as a battle-cry. 
It was a manifestation of mistrust, but not an act of 
protest or a challenge. And the Bolsheviks? To the 
misfortune of the country, and perhaps to the world at 
large, all the most notable Bolshevik leaders (as well as 
most Menshevik-Internationalists) were at that time 
abroad, as exiles in various countries. Their voice 
could not reach the masses, and the latter, seeing them- 
selves abandoned by their fellow-workers in other 
countries and left without a lead, reluctantly gave up 
the struggle and surrendered to the inevitable, rein- 
forced as the inevitable was by martial law. 

THE ATTITUDE OF THE BOLSHEVIKS. 

But though they laid down their arms, the workers 
of Russia did not surrender their political views, nor, in 
particular, their views on the war, and did not succumb 
to the nationalist and patriotic orgy which was let loose 
in Russia, as elsewhere. The moral and intellectual 
foundations which had been laid in their minds by the 
Bolsheviks were, indeed, "well and truly laid," and on 
them the Bolsheviks were able to build further, in spite, 
or rather because, of the war, with the utmost success. 
For the Bolsheviks, like the Serbian, the Rumanian, and 
the Italian Socialists, and the tiny fraction of the 
German Socialist party which was represented by Lieb- 
knecht, Mehring, Klara Zetkin, and others, remained 
true to their Socialist principles and to the policy laid 
down in the Basel Manifesto ; and immediately pro- 

(20) 



claimed their unalterable and implacable opposition to 
the war. In the first leaflet issued immediately after the 
outbreak of war the Petrograd Committee of the Bol- 
sheviks put the question, fairly and squarely : "Who are 
our enemies?" and replied : — 

"We are robbed by the landlords, we are robbed by 
the manufacturers, the houseowners, and the trades- 
men, we are robbed by the police, we are robbed by 
the Tsar and his officials. And when we become tired 
of this rdbbery, when we want to protect our 
interests, when we want to proclaim a strike, the 
police, the soldiers, and the Cossacks are let loose 
against us, we are attacked, we are thrown into 
prison, we are deported to Siberia, and we are hunted 
down like mad dogs. Those are our real enemies. 
. . . But now they want to mislead us and make us 
believe that our enemy is the German whom we have 
never seen in face at all. They want to incite us 
against the Germans, and because they require our 
arms and our fists they sing a song about national 
unity. Now they are trying to prevail upon us that 
we should forget all internal strife, that we should 
all unite in one patriotic gush, that we should re- 
nounce our own workers' cause, that we should 
make their cause our own, and that we should conquer 
fresh lands for their Tsar and their landowners. But 
shall we, Russian workers, really be so foolish as to 
take these lying phrases seriously? Shall we really 
betray our own cause? No. If we must sacrifice 
our lives, let us do so for our own cause, and not in 
the interests of the Romanoifs and their landowners. 
They are placing arms in our hands. Well and 
good. Let us be men, let us take the arms in order 
to conquer for the working class new conditions of 
life." 

These and innumerable similar leaflets were issued 
and circulated secretly among the masses in tens of 
thousands of copies — first in the capital, and then 
throughout the length and breadth of the land, at a time 

(21) 



when the leaders of the Mensheviks were preaching a 
war on German "MiHtarism and Kaiserism" and 
were making up their old quarrels with Tsardom. 
Already in November, 191 4, the five Bolshevik members 
of the Duma were arrested, together with Kameneff, 
one of the closest associates of Lenin, and after a mock 
trial were, a few months after, dejx>rted to Siberia. 
Abroad Lenin and Zinovieff were carrying on a most 
energetic and effective agitation against the "Social 
Patriots" of all countries, sparing neither the German 
nor the French "majorities," and attacking the similar 
brood in the Russian ranks, from Plekhanoff, the father 
of Russian Social Democracy, now turned Jingo, down- 
wards, with unabated vigour. Their point of view was 
throughout : the present war was an Imperialist war; 
their duty was not only to fight it, but also to endeavour 
to transform it into a struggle for the emancipation of 
the working class; and lest it be said that thereby the 
country would be endangered, they, the Bolsheviks, did 
not hesitate to proclaim : "We are Russians, and for 
that very reason we want Tsardom to be defeated." 
Their faith in the coming revolution was unshakable. 
In January, 191 5, in the height of the successes of the 
Russian arms, at a time when all Europe was flooded 
by a sea of Jingo sentiment, when Plekhanoff was 
preaching a "fight to a finish" against Prussia- 
Germany, and Vandervelde, President of the Inter- 
national Socialist Bureau, was publicly appealing to the 
Russian Socialists to make common cause with the 
Tsar, the central organ of the Bolsheviks was shouting 
at the top of its voice, so that everybody might hear : — 
"Yet it moves. You remember the thunderous 
awakening of the Russian working class and of the 
entire Russian democracy after the bloodshed of 
January 22^ 1905 ('Bloody Sunday' at Petrograd, 
which ushered in the first revolution)? A 
similar thunderous awakening shall be witnessed 
after the present war, after this world-wide 
slaughter which has irrigated by human blood 
the fields extending over thousands of miles 

(22) 



along- the present battle fronts, which has coloured 
red scores and hundreds of rivers in France, 
in Russian Poland, in Serbia, and in Turkey. The 
hour of settling the accounts will come. The dawn of 
civil war will begin. Let there be darkness round us 
at present. Let treachery and cowardice surround us 
on all — even the least expected — sides. We, on our 
part, believe in our old banner." 

And when the Russian troops were first defeated, in 
May, 1 91 5, on the battle-fields of Galicla, when the cry 
for national unity and for an all-national effort re- 
sounded throughout Russia with a redoubled force, and 
when the Mensheviks, swept off their feet by the new 
gush of patriotic excitement, though pretending to 
pursue mysterious revolutionary aims, joined the capi- 
talists in the formation of Munitions Committees, the 
Bolshevik organ wrote : — 

"The military debacle of Tsardom is close upon us. 
A terrible economic exhaustion is overtaking the 
country as a result of the present criminal war. The 
country will not forgive Tsardom all these millions of 
lives, all this sea of blood, all these oceans of tears. 
Down with the Tsarist gang ! . . . The last card of 
the Tsar will be beaten. Whomever the Gods wish to 
destroy Is deprived of his reason, Tsardom reck- 
lessly threw Itself Into this desperate game. But the 
Nemesis of History is having her own. Already, 
through the booming of the guns, one can hear the 
distant funeral bells of the Tsarist Monarchy !" 

These were prophetic words, because they were dic- 
tated by true revolutionary insight; two years later the 
Tsar's Monarchy was taken to the grave amidst the 
jubilation of the Russian people and of the world at 
large. 



^23) 



III. The Revolution of March 1917 

THE POLITICAL BANKRUPTCY OF TSARDOM. 

The collapse of the Russian fronton May 3, 1915, under 
the onslaught of von Mackensen's phalanx sounded, as 
the Bolshevik organ rightly perceived, the death-knell 
of Russian Tsardom. It is true, as we saw, that Russia 
was on the brink of a revolution in the last days of 
July, 1914. It is also true that after the first revolu- 
tionary upheaval of 1905, which had entirely changed 
the mentality of the Russian people, and, to a large 
extent, also produced a change in the economic structure 
of the country, the obsolete form of autocratic Govern- 
ment, forcibly restored with the assistance of the pro- 
pertied classes, was destined sooner or later to dis- 
appear. Nevertheless, it was the war with its attendant 
disasters, both at the front and in the rear, which made 
the inevitable come rather sooner than later, and at the 
same time ensured its success by spreading among the 
peasantry and the army the temper which had become 
alive among the industrial working class on the eve of 
the war. For those disasters, as even a child could see, 
were not mere accidents, but, on the contrary, the 
natural results of the Tsarist system of government, 
with its corruption, inefficiency, and obstructive influence 
on the life-processes of the nation. The disasters were 
caused, in the first place, by a most appalling lack of 
guns and munitions. Yet scores of millions had been 
spent on the equipment of the army during the pre- 
ceding ten years. What had become of them ? They 
had gone into the pockets of corrupt generals and con- 
tractors and had been wasted by incompetent adminis- 

(24) 



trators. Who were the .army leaders? They were 
men of the same istamp as those who had lost the war in 
Manchuria ten years previously. They had, for the most 
part, attained their high posts through patronage and 
drawing-room influence, and many of them were down- 
right traitors, as was proved in the case of General 
Rennenkampf, the hero of the disaster at Tannenberg, 
and General Sukhomlinoff, the War Minister himself. 
Again, why did not Russia prove able to supply the 
deficiencies in munitions herself, as England or Ger- 
many did, as soon as they were perceived? Because, 
for one thing, the higher army administration, uncon- 
trolled by Parliament, concealed the facts from the 
public, and because, on the other hand, Russia's indus- 
trial development had been grievously retarded by the 
Tsarist regime, which iby its exactions for itself, 
for the big landowners, and for the capitalists, had 
entirely impoverished the masses and undermined their 
purchasing power. Albove all, why was the country, 
which had hitherto been one of the principal agricul- 
tural countries in Europe, suddenly hurled into the 
abyss of famine? Because all the able-bodied male 
population had been recklessly drawn into the army, 
because the widest scope had been given to speculators 
and landowners, and because the weak transport system 
had been criminally allowed to come to complete ruin. 
All this, in its causes and effects, became clear to the 
simplest peasant in the country, as well as to the 
soldier at the front, and Tsardom lost in the eyes of the 
people whatever moral authority it still possessed. 
Added to it were the Court scandals associated with the 
name of Rasputin and other low adventurers, which 
helped to open the people's eyes as to the true nature of 
the autocracy. In the end the capitalist middle classes 
themselves were gradually driven into opposition to 
the Tsarist regime. After all it was their State which 
was being ruined in the war through the incompetency 
and corruption of that regime, it was their own pro- 
pertied interests which were Hkely to suffer if the dis- 
content of the masses led to a revolution, and it was 

(25) 



their schemes and hopes which were being destroyed 
by the disasters of the war and the obvious inabihty of 
Tsardom to retrieve its fortunes. 



THE LIBERAL OPPOSITION TO A REVOLUTION 

Nevertheless it was not the capitalist middle classes 
who made the revolution. On the contrary, strongly as 
they detested Tsardom, they still more strongly detested 
the idea of a revolution, and none other than Miliukoff, 
the well-known leader of the Russian Libsrals, publicly 
stated in the Duma, in reply to a taunt by the 
Monarchists, that "rather than organise he country for 
national defence, if that should help the organisation of 
the revolutionary forces, he would leave her as she 
was," that is, defenceless against the Germans. The 
utmost these classes were prepared to do was to depose 
the Tsar by means of a secret Palace revolution, and to 
put up another in his place who would drive away the 
Rasputins from the court and surround himself by 
better men "enjoying the confidence of the nation," 
that is. Liberals. For such a "revolution" they, 
indeed, began actively to conspire with certain Grand 
Dukes and high officers when it became known that the 
court was intriguing for a separate peace with the 
enemy. But, happily, the masses of the people, acting 
spontaneously, forestalled them. They looked at the 
situation from quite a different point of view. They did 
not want to save the State of the Tsar and the capita- 
lists. They did not care a jot for the conquest of Con- 
stantinople and Galicia. What they saw was that the 
Socialists had been right in denouncing the war as an 
Imperialist enterprise and predicting from It untold 
calamities. They saw in the Tsar but a worthy emblem 
of the war and of the capitalist State, and In striking a 
blow against him they were Intending to strike a blow 
also for peace, for bread, and for liberty against all 
forms of exploitation. 

(26) 



THE DOWNFALL OF TSARDOM. 

The blow, as is well known, fell on March 12, and 
two days later the Tsar was no more. The women of 
the people, standing- in queues in front of food shops, 
began the dance which soon developed into skirmishes 
between the police and the crowds in the streets. Then 
Cossacks were sent to make use of their whips, but they 
partly refused to do so and partly were met by soldiers 
of certain regiments of the Guards who took the part 
of the people. Street fighting rapidly developed, more 
and more regiments went over to the people, the 
arsenals were sacked and their contents distributed 
among the crowds, and, before anyone was properly 
aware, the capital was in the hands of the workers and 
soldiers. In vain did the Liberals send wire after wire 
to the Tsar, who was then at the front, imploring him 
to save the situation by dismissing his old advisers and 
appointing a new Government from their own midst 
and other persons "enjoying public confidence." While 
he hesitated and tried this measure and that, the people 
of Petrograd were acting, seizing one Government 
institution after the other, and setting up a Council of 
Workers* and Soldiers' Delegates (Soviet) as a sort of 
Revolutionary Convention, thereby compelling the 
Liberals, assemibled as an executive committee of the 
Duma, to establish a Provisional Government and to 
proclaim the deposition of the Tsar. Of course, the 
Liberals did not want a republic, and, while deposing 
the Tsar, they at the same time appointed his brother, 
the Grand Duke Michael, to succeed him. But the 
Soviet and the people of Petrograd would not hear of 
any new Tsar, and the Grand Duke had to sign, simul- 
taneously with the Tsar himself, an act of abdication 
"pending the meeting of a Constituent Assembly." An 
attempt was then made by the Liberals to establish at 
least a military dictatorship, with a view to the further 
prosecution of the war, under the Grand Duke Nicolas 
Nicolayevitch, the former Generahssimo, but this, too, 
came to naught. Eventually the Liberals withdrew all 
opposition to the revolution, which now spread to 

(27) 



Moscow and all provincial towns, meeting- nowhere 
with any resistance, but being greeted everywhere with 
the utmost enthusiasm. Those were, perhaps, the 
happiest days in the history of Russia. 



THE BLUNDERS OF THE SOVIET LEADERS. 

But they also contained the germs of all future com- 
plications. It must again be borne in mind that at that 
time there were practically no Bolshevik leaders in 
Russia, and that most of the Socialists acting in Petro- 
grad belonged to the more opportunist and wholly or 
partly "patriotic" party of Mensheviks, with just a 
dash of that moderate wing of the "Socialists-Revolu- 
tionaries" (a party of Peasant Socialism and Political 
Terrorism, at that time small, but destined to grow 
large in the near future), which under the name of the 
"Group of Toil" formed a small body of Duma parlia- 
mentarians, and counted as its leader Alexander 
Kerensky, a young, enthusiastic barrister, with no 
political experience. When, therefore, the first Soviet 
was formed, men like Tchkheidze, the parliamentary 
leader of the Mensheviks, and Kerensky became its 
natural heads, and their followers constituted the main 
leaven of the new and inexperienced revolutionary orga- 
nisation. This explains the singular circumstance that 
though the revolution was made by the working class 
and the soldier-peasants, and though the actual power 
was concentrated in their hands, the Soviet allowed the 
exercise of that power to pass into the hands of the 
propertied classes, as represented by the Provisional 
Government which had been appointed by the committee 
of the Duma. That Government had at its head a 
Prince Lvoff, a colourless politician of the moderate 
Liberal school, and included, along with a 
number of "Cadets," Miliukoff, the Imperialist 
Liberal, as Foreign Secretary, and Gutchkoff, 
a gentleman of the same type belonging to 
the rich manufacturing and financial bourgeoisie, as 
Minister of War. Kerensky, who had never been a 

(28) 



revolutionary and who had no authority among the 
masses, was the only representative of the new demo- 
cracy in the Government, having- joined it on his own 
initiative, though subsequently allowed to remain there 
by the Soviet. Tchkheidze himself, who was President 
of the Soviet, though invited to take a seat in the 
Cabinet, wisely declined to do so, being opposed to any 
coalition with the bourgeoisie. Such an opposition was 
perfectly correct, but one may ask, was it at all neces- 
sary that a bourgeois Government should come into 
existence? Was it at all necessary that the proletariat 
should abdicate its power in favour of a class which had 
been opposed to the revolution and which was well 
known to entertain totally different views on the war 
from those held by the great masses of the people? 
The action of the Soviet in shrinking from the assumf>- 
tion of Government power by itself at a time when it 
was omnipotent and the bourgeoisie was "simply 
nowhere" constituted a disastrous blunder that can only 
be explained by the Menshevik infatuation with their 
dogma that the revolution was and must remain a 
"bourgeois" one. 



(29) 



IV. Anti-Bolshevism in Ascendancy 

THE POSITION OF THE BOLSHEVIKS. 

The first act of the victorious revolution — the establish- 
ment of .a Provislon-al Government — took place, as men- 
tioned, In the absence of all the most authoritative 
leaders of Bolshevism; but no sooner did the first of 
them, Kameneff, return from his Siberian exile, than 
the Bolsheviks took up an attitude of definite opposition 
to the action of the Soviet leaders In depriving the pro- 
letariat of all real power and transferring- all Govern- 
ment authority to the capitalist middle class. Towards 
the end of April the other leaders of Bolshevism, with 
Lenin at their head, returned from abroad. The poli- 
tical atmosphere had by that time already become con- 
siderably heated owing to the Bolshevik agitation in 
favour of the assumption of Government power by the 
Soviet Itself, and the counter-agitation of the Men- 
sheviks and Socialists-Revolutionaries In favour of 
allowing the bourgeoisie to carry out the programme of 
the Revolution — peace, land reform, democratic recon- 
struction, the summoning of the Constituent Assembly, 
etc. — in its own 'bourgeois fashion. When, therefore, 
Lenin and his friends (including, it must be noted, a 
considerable number of Menshevlks of the Internationa- 
list wing, under Martoff), on being prevented by the 
Governments of France and Great Britain from choosing 
the ordinary route from Switzerland, made their way 
home through German territory in closed carriages (in 
accordance with arrangements made by Swiss Socialist 
leaders with the German Government), a howl of well- 
simulated execration arose In the bourgeois Press, 

(30) 



having- for its object to discredit Bolshevism and its 
policy in the eyes of the masses. Lenin and his friends 
were represented as agents, or at least favourites, of 
the German Government, and their advocacy of the 
transfer of Government authority to the Soviets was 
denounced as a manoeuvre to split the forces of the 
revolution for the benefit of the crafty enemy. The 
campaign, no doubt, had considerable success, and the 
position of the official Soviet leaders was immensely 
streng-thened, to the great joy of the Cadets and other 
political parties of the capitalist bourg"eoisie. 

Nevertheless, the Bolsheviks continued their cam- 
paign with ever-increasing vig^our. In this connection 
the position taken up by Lenin personally deserves to 
be noted. As soon as he arrived, he submitted a new 
programme to his party and the people at large, of 
which the main plank was that Russia must become not 
a bourgeois democratic, and, therefore, not a parlia- 
mentary republic after the French or American model, 
but a Soviet republic, that is, a commonwealth in which 
the central power would belong to a central committee 
of all the Soviets in the country, and the local govern- 
ment would be carried on by the local Soviets of dele- 
gates from the working class and the poorer peasantry, 
as the sole organs of the State. In other words, the 
Russian republic was to be a republic in which the pro- 
letariat classes would alone exercise authority, to the 
exclusion of the capitalist and landlord classes and their 
hangers-on. It would be a Socialist State org^anlsation, 
pursuing as its ultimate O'bject the expropriation of the 
propertied classes and the socialisation of the means of 
production. 

This scheme was so bold, in face of the known 
economic backwardness of the country and the widely 
spread dogmas of the other Socialists, that Lenin's own 
closest friends shrank from it and refused to accept it. 
Lenin was compelled to drop it for a time, expecting 
that life would in due course prove a more convincing 
teacher than himself. And ITfe, indeed, brilliantly 
justified his expectation. 

(31) 



THE FALL OF THE IMPERIALISTS. 

In the meantime, however, experience bore out the 
other views of the Bolsheviks. The Soviet, faithfully 
reflecting the innermost desires of the masses, at once 
raised the question of peace, and in an historical address 
to the "Peoples of the World," dated March 2"]^ laid 
down the proposition that the present war was an Impe- 
rialist war, and that it was the duty, as well as the 
interest, of the labouring classes everywhere to compel 
their respective Governments to terminate the struggle 
by a peace which would involve no annexations and no 
indemnities, and grant every nation the right to deter- 
mine its own fate. Under the pressure of the masses 
the Provisional Government agreed to announce this 
programme to the people of Russia as its official diplo- 
matic policy, but when it came to its transmission to the 
Allies as a preliminary to an invitation to revise their 
war aims in accordance with its principles, Miliukoff, 
the leader of the Cadets and the then Foreign Minister, 
covered it by a note setting forth his own Imperialist 
war views, and practically inviting the Allies to ignore 
the democratic programme of the Soviet. This was an 
illuminating revelation of the innermost mind of the 
Russian bourgeoisie and a warning to the people as to 
the dangers which it w^as running in permitting the 
capitalist parties to manage the business of govern- 
ment. Again the masses of Petrograd rose, as they 
had done two months previously; Miliukoff and his 
bosom friend Gutchkoff were driven from office, and the 
revolution was confronted with its first crisis. 

THE COALITION GOVERNMENT. 

Here was a chance of correcting the initial mistake 
committed by the Soviet leaders. Did the Mensheviks 
and the Socialists-Revolutionaries learn at last the 
lesson ? Not they ! Deeply attached as they were to 
their dogma that the revolution must be a bourgeois 
one, they refused once more to proclaim the Soviets as 
the sole possessors of Government authority, and 

(32) 



decided to depute from their own midst four persons 
(including Tseretelli, one of the most influential and 
talented Mensheviks, and Tchernoff, the leader of the 
Socialists-Revolutionaries) to join the Cabinet, with a 
view to controlling- its policy and actions, and, inciden- 
tally, to counteracting the Bolshevik agitation by 
offering, as it were, security in their own persons for the 
loyalty of the new Provisional Government. 

This was the second, and if possible still greater, 
blunder committed by the non-Bolshevik Socialists, for, 
having now attached themselves to the principle of a 
coalition Government as the highest measure, com- 
patible with their postulate as to the rule of the bour- 
geoisie, which permitted the Soviets to exercise control 
over the Provisional Government, they henceforth 
became simple hostages in the hands of the bourgeoisie, 
whose representatives were now in a position to bring 
every pressure to bear upon their colleagues, and, 
indirectly, upon the Soviet dominated by them, by 
threats of resignation and termination of the precious 
coalition. The result, indeed, was that all projects of 
reform, including the summoning of a Constituent 
Assembly and the land distribution, were now shelved 
indefinitely, and instead of working for peace the 
Government, whose most active member now became 
Kerensky, the successor of Gutchkoff in the War Office, 
began now to make active preparations for an offensive, 
in order, as they said, to make the voice of Russian 
democracy "weighty," both in the councils of the Allies 
and in the future negotiations with the enemy. 

THE JULY OFFENSIVE. 

The masses of the people, who had expected from the 
revolution the end of all their sorrow, that is, peace, 
reform, and bread, did not understand this clever dip- 
lomacy, and began to listen again to the Bolsheviks, 
who were now openly opposing the policy of the Provi- 
sional Government as counter-revolutionary, tending 
towards a monarchist restoration, or, at least, a military 

(33) 



dictatorship, and denouncing their Socialist opponents 
as aiders and abettors in the betrayal of the revolution. 
On July I came the new offensive, to end, three weeks 
after, in a complete rout of the Russian army; but pre- 
vious to that, on July i6, the masses of Petrograd again 
rose In revolt — this time against the Provisional 
Government as a whole and the coalition principle in 
particular — without any lead from the Bolshevik party, 
but no doubt under the influence of its agitation. This 
time the rising was unsuccessful in spite of its promis- 
ing beginning, partly because it had not been organised, 
but partly also because a mass of forged documents had 
been secretly set in circulation among the Petrograd 
troops, "with the connivance of the Government," 
showing that Lenin, Trotsky, and other Bolsheviks 
were in the pay of Germany. The opportunity was a 
happy one for the bourgeoisie, who were now able to 
connect the rising with the disaster at the front by 
representing the former as the cause of the latter, and 
thereby to create a double diversion by divesting itself 
of all responsibility for the fiasco of the offensive and by 
inciting all "true patriots" against the Bolsheviks. A 
period almost as reactionary as any which had charac- 
terised the Tsarist regime now followed. The Bolshevik 
leaders and their followers were hunted down like 
wild beasts; Trotsky, Kameneff, Alexandra Kolontay, 
and hundreds of others were thrown into prison ; Lenin 
and Zinovieff were obliged to seek safety in hiding; the 
Bolshevik papers were suppressed one after the other — 
in fact, a veritable orgy of white terror was now set up, 
with restored death penalty for military offences at the 
front, and with the final abandonment of all reform and 
all peace talk. 

That was a very critical moment for the revolution, 
and had it not been for the arrogance and premature 
haste of the bourgeoisie, which suddenly, without 
shame, revealed now its cloven foot, the situation 
might have easily developed into a military dictatorship, 
with the restoration of the monarchy as its ultimate 
end. As it was, even the Menshevik leaders and 

(34) 



Kerensky (who had in the meanwhile become the head 
of the Provisional Government) began to feel uneasy at 
this ostentatious display of reactionary proclivities by 
the bourgeoisie, ,and when the latter's candidate for the 
role of Bonaparte, General Korniloff, the Supreme Com- 
mander-in-Chief, raised the standard of revolt against 
the Government, demanding the establishment of a 
Directory, with himself at its head, the revolutionary 
democracy was at once aroused from its torpor. 
Kornilojff was crushed by the efforts of the railwaymen, 
the working men's Red Guards, and the Lettish troops 
(Bolsheviks to a man), and the Bolshevik party emerged 
triumphant as the only people who had seen the danger 
and who were right in their political programme. 

THE FALL OF THE PROVISIONAL 
GOVERNMENT. 

But, like the proverbial men whom the gods strike 
with blindness because they want to destroy them, the 
Mensheviks and Socialists-Revolutionaries could not 
even now emancipate themselves from the spell of their 
mischievous doctrines and continued to cling to their 
dogma about the bourgeois character of the revolution, 
etc. While the workers and the soldiers were 
flocking in crowds to the banner of the Bolsheviks, 
demanding, as the least concession from the official 
Soviet leaders, the summoning of a congress of all the 
Soviets of Russia to consider the problems at issue, 
those leaders found nothing better to do than to call 
together a mock-democratic congress consisting of dele- 
gates from co-operative societies, professional organisa- 
tions (such as those of medical men, journalists, bar- 
risters, civil engineers), municipalities, county councils, 
and even employers' associations, to "deliberate" upon 
the situation along with a limited number of repre- 
sentatives from the Soviets and Peasants' Councils. 
That was equivalent to a direct challenge to the 
workers' and soldiers' democracy of Russia, and when 
the precious "democratic" conference, after a good deal 

(35) 



of most unscrupulous wirepulling on the part of the old 
leaders, decided, by a small majority of votes, In favour 
of the continuance of the Coalition, and elected from Its 
own midst, with the addition of a large number of mem- 
bers from the propertied classes, a "parliament" pro 
tem. to "control" the new Coalition Cabinet, the 
measure of patience of the masses was filled to over- 
flowing. While that "parliament," doing honour to its 
name, spread itself in unlimited and futile talk, of which 
not even its admirers were taking the slightest notice, 
the Bolsheviks actively began organising the masses for 
a new rising, and openly proclaimed in their papers and 
at Innumerable public meetings their intention to lead 
the people In an effort to overthrow the Government 
and the "parliament." Never in previous history had 
a rising been prepared so openly, so publicly, under the 
eyes of all the world, as this second, the Bolshevik, 
revolution. It was a puiblic challenge, as it were, to the 
Kerenskys, the Tseretellis, the Tchernoffs, and the 
entire bourgeoisie to defend themselves against the 
coming onslaught. The challenge was laughed at or 
denounced as criminal, and measures were taken to 
meet It should it really, by chance, be carried out. But 
when the night of November 6-7, fixed for the com- 
mencement of the operations, came^ the whole edifice 
reared up by the coalition-mongers and their Grovern- 
ment and precious bourgeoisie collapsed like a house of 
cards. Workmen organised in Red Guards and troops 
commanded by leaders appointed by a Military Revolu- 
tionary Comimittee quietly went round the various 
Government establishments, such as the central tele- 
phone station, the military staff quarters, etc., and took 
possession of them, and in the course of the following 
day the Government was arrested, all Petrograd (and 
then Moscow) was in the hands of the Bolsheviks, a new 
Government under the title of Council of People's Com- 
missaries was formed, and the great revolution was 
accomplished without any bloodshed. 



(36) 



V. The Bolshevik Revolution 

THEIR SUPPORT BY THE MASSES. 

In seizing the reins of power the Bolsheviks were 
obviously playing a game with high stakes. Petrograd 
had shown itself entirely on their side. To what 
extent would the masses of the proletariat and the 
peasant army in the rest of the country support them? 
The Bolsheviks were not the men to shirk the issue. 
Though the Central Executive of the Soviets, elected by 
the Soviets' congress in June, and therefore still domi- 
nated by Mensheviks and Socialists-Revolutionaries, 
had opposed the idea of a new congress, on the initia- 
tive of, and under pressure from, the Bolsheviks, one 
had been summoned, in a legal way, by the Central 
Executive Committee, to meet at Petrograd on 
November 7, that is, on the morrow of the day 
fixed for the revolution. The composition of 
the congress fully ibore out the expectations of the Bol- 
sheviks and allayed the fears of those among them who 
were inclined to doubt the appropriateness of the time 
chosen for the revolution. Of the 676 delegates who 
came from all parts of Russia and were elected on a 
most democratic basis, no fewer than 390, or more than 
half, were Bolsheviks, 179 were Socialists-Revolu- 
tionaries of the Left, 35 were Internationalist Social 
Democrats, 21 were Ukrainian Social Democrats, and 
only 51 belonged to the Mensheviks and the Socialists- 
Revolutionaries of the Right. Before the proper pro- 
ceedings began, these last-named 51 delegates, per- 
ceiving the hopelessness of their position, rose to 
declare that they would have riotffing in common with 

(37) 



the "usurpers" and left the congress. The remaining 
625 soon found a common basis in their approval of the 
Bolshevik revolution, drew up a series of resolutions on 
peace, land, and a number of other important subjects, 
elected a new central executive committee to act as their 
standing organ of control and legislation, and approved 
the formation of a new Government in the form of a 
Council of People's Commissaries (each standing at the 
head of a permanent committee charged with the 
administration of various Ministries), with Lenin as 
President and Trotsky as Commissioner for Foreign 
Affairs. The Bolshevik revolution thus received the 
sanction of the workers and the soldiers united in the 
Soviets. 



THEIR IMMEDIATE MEASURES. 

But this was only the first step, and innumerable 
difficulties at once rose on all sides. The first act of the 
new Government was immediately to translate the reso- 
lutions of the Soviets' Congress into life by means of 
decrees. One decree was in the form of a formal and 
ofificial invitation to all belligerent Powers at once to 
suspend hostilities, to conclude an armistice, and to 
begin negotiations for peace on the democratic formula 
drawn up by Russian people after the overthrow of 
Tsardom. The other transferred all lands hitherto in 
possession of private landlords, of the Imperial family, 
of the Church, etc., with the exception of the small 
peasant and Cossack, to the peasantry at large, to be 
administered and distributed for use by peasant com- 
mittees acting in conjunction with the local Soviets on 
such a basis that no one should receive more land than 
he and his family could cultivate efficiently without hired 
labour or less land than is required for his and his 
family's needs. A third decree established a control of 
production by working-class committees supervising all 
the industrial establishments of their respective localities 
in conjunction with the local Soviets, and under the 
supreme control of the Supreme Economic Council, 

(38) 



formed by representatives from various people's Com- 
missions. This' latter was a measure of combating 
war-profiteering, speculation, conspiracies of manufac- 
turers against the revolution, .and other capitalist prac- 
tices, as well as the first step towards the taking over 
of all the means of production by the people. Subse- 
quently to these measures were .added a number of 
others, such as the nationalisation of the banks, the 
establishment of a Government monopoly in agricul- 
tural machinery, and, above all, the transfer of all local 
authority to the Soviets as the authorised organs of the 
State. 

The three first-named measures had figured in the 
programmes of all the Russian Socialist parties, and the 
land measure had actually been ''lifted" bodily from the 
programme of the Socialists-Revolutionaries. In spite 
of this, the other Socialist and semi-Socialist parties im- 
mediately declared war upon the Bolsheviks. Though 
the new Government at once made a formal offer to 
their Socialist opponents to share power with them on 
the basis of proportional repres'entations, the Men- 
sheviks and the Socialists-Revolutionaries refused to 
have anything to do with them, and demanded their 
resignation and the formation of a coalition Socialist 
Government (they no longer spoke of a coalition with 
the Cadets !) without the Bolsheviks. Even the Left 
Socialists-Revolutionaries, though in the main agreed 
with the Bolsheviks, at first had not the courage to enter 
the Council of People's Commissaries, and only did so 
many weeks later after much hesitation. Neutral 
bodies, like certain trade unions, attempted several 
times to mediate between the Socialist parties, insisting 
upon a coalition Socialist Government. Each time the 
Bolsheviks readily assented to the proposal. Each 
time, however, the attempt broke down because the 
opponents of the Bolsheviks either demanded the 
latter's complete self-elimination (the self-elimination, 
that is, of the strongest political party in the country, 
which entirely dominated the proletariat and the 
soldiers) or the withdrawal of the three fundamental 

(39) 



decrees, to the substance of which they had themselves 
been committed both before and after the March revolu- 
tion. This attitude did not prevent the non-Bolshevik 
Socialists continuing to hurl at .the heads of their Oppo- 
nents the charges of "usurpation" and "little Tsars," 
which became still more ridiculous after a specially sum- 
moned peasant congress had by a great majority 
approved of the Bolshevik revolution and programme, 
and charged its own executive committee to join the 
central executive committee of the Soviets in permanent 
alliance. Not only, then, the working class and 
soldiers now rallied to the Bolshevik banner, but also 
the bulk of the peasants, and .that meant the over- 
whelming majority of the nation. 

That this was really so, and not merely a formality, 
was soon proved by the easy manner with which the 
new Government disposed of the various armed rebel- 
lions of its opponents. First, Kerensky, at the head of 
some armed forces, mainly consisting of military cadets, 
officers, and a few Cossack regiments, moved against 
Petrograd, and succeeded in penetrating as far as 
Tsarskoe Selo. Several detachments from the Petro- 
grad garrison and from the newly formed working-class 
or "Red" guards sent to meet him sufficed to wreck the 
attempt completely, so that Kerensky barely escaped 
with his life in the disguise of a peasant. Immediately 
after, at Petrograd itself and at Moscow, military 
cadets, assisted by volunteers from bourgeois classes, 
raised the standard of rebellion under the auspices of 
the local city councils (dominated as these were at the 
time by the Socialists-Revolutionaries and reactionary, 
monarchist and Cadet organisations). Owing to the 
reluctance of the Government to shed blood, the rebels 
succeeded in capturing some important positions, such 
as the central telephone station and the Winter Palace 
at Petrograd and the Kremlin at Moscow. Then the 
garrisons and the "Red Guards" came forward, and a 
series of bloody battles ensued which resulted in the 
total defeat of the rebels. At the main headquarters of 
the army also, at Mohilev, an attempt was made by the 

(40) 



Socialists-Revolutionaries, under Tchernoff, to form an 
anti-Bolshevik Government in order to lead troops 
against Petrograd. The Commander - in - Chief, 
Dukhonin, was himself in sympathy with the scheme, 
and refused to carry out the peace decree of the People's 
Commissaries. The troops refused to move, arrested 
Dukhonin and lynched him as a traitor, and the would- 
be new Government was dead even before it was born. 
In the south the most formidable rebellion broke out, 
led by the famous General Kaledin, the chief Ataman 
of the Don Cossacks, with the assistance of Korniloff, 
Alexeyeff, and the entire gang of reactionaries and 
Cadets under Rodzianko, the former President of the 
Duma, and Miliukoff. The difficulty of coping- with it 
was the greater as the National Council of the Ukraine, 
the so-called Rada, which consisted of the same type of 
politicians as the Russian Socialists-Revolutionaries and 
Cadets, being also hostile to the Bolsheviks, suddenly 
proclaimed "neutrality," and refused to allow troops 
and Red Guards sent from the North against Kaledin 
to pass through their territory. For several weeks the 
Kaledin rebellion loomed very large, but ultimately his 
own Cossacks went over to the Bolsheviks, the 
Ukranian people on their part disavowed the Rada and 
allowed several Bolshevik regiments to pass to the Don. 
The rebellion was soon crushed, the chief centres of the 
Don district were captured, and Kaledin himself com- 
mitted suicide. A similar fate befell the rebellion of 
Dutoff, the Ataman of the Cossacks of Orenburg dis- 
trict. In distant Siberia, too, an anti-Bolshevik 
Government was formed under the leadership of local 
Cadets and Socialists-Revolutionaries, but Its life was 
short-lived, being overthrown by the local Soviets and 
Red Guards. In short, everywhere the Bolsheviks 
triumphed against their enemies with the help of the 
masses of the people — the workers, soldiers, and 
peasants. Neither the Tsar nor Kerensky ever enjoyed 
such active and unanimous support on the part of the 
masses of the people throughout the vast country, and 
it was almost tragic to hear how. In face of these facts, 

(41) 



their opponents continued parrot-like to talk of the 
Bolsheviks as usurpers, as men who represented only 
a fraction of the nation, and who leaned entirely for 
support on bayonets. 

The truth, of course, is that in the eyes of the bour- 
geois class, and even its political supporters among the 
opportunist school of Socialists, the masses of the 
people, as has ever been the case in history, counted for 
very little more than fodder for cannons or revolu- 
tions, and that the "third estate^' loomed as the only 
true representative class of the nation — nay^ as the 
nation itself. The Miliukoffs and the Rodziankos, the 
generals, the intellectuals — these were the "nation," 
although they, together with the whole capitalist and 
landlord classes, of which they were the standard- 
bearers, barely constituted 15 per cent, of the popula- 
tion. Hence the Bolsheviks, who, without the active 
support of the industrial proletariat, the peasant 
soldiers, and the great mass of peasantry, would not 
have been able to remain in power a single day, were 
only "usurpers," demagogues, conspirators, etc., 
against whom the employment of every form of opposi- 
tion was legitimate. The attempts to oust them by 
physical force, that is, by mobilising against them the 
troops from the front and the Cossacks from the Don, 
having dismally failed, recourse was had to a universal 
boycott in the shape of a general strike of all the officials 
and employees in Gkvvernment, municipal, and, gene- 
rally, public services, as well as schools, hospitals, food 
committees, and of factory and mine owners, including 
those under contract for the supply of war material. 
No more ruthless boycott and "sabotage" had ever 
taken place either in Russia or in any other country. 
When the great general strike which brought the 
Tsarist autocracy to its knees took place in October, 
1905, at least the doctors, the pharmacists, the men em- 
ployed in the waterworks and such-like public services 
remained at their post with the express approval, and 
sometimes even at the direct orders, of the revolu- 
tionary leaders. Now it was different. Now the 

(42) 



bourgeoisie, with the thorough ruthlessness which dis- 
tinguishes all its actions in defence of its class interests 
.against the popular masses, resolved to fight the Bol- 
shevik regime, even though the population in the cities 
might perish from hunger and disease and the army 
might be left without the necessaries either of defence 
or sheer existence. And because the Bolshevik Govern- 
ment found itself on that account unable to administer 
its decrees, and even to obtain from the State and other 
banks the necessary means of paying the lower officials 
and the Government workers (who throughout had re- 
mained at their posts in spite of all the intimidation 
practised against them), the bourgeoisie and its Press 
myrmidons had the additional impudence to deride the 
Bolsheviks for their impotence, and even to argue there- 
from that they did not represent the country. 



THE ALLEGATIONS OF "VIOLENCE." 

It was natural that the Government should, in these 
circumstances, have recourse to methods of constraint 
and restraint. Some of the worst boycotters among 
the higher officials were either put into prison or had 
their bread cards taken away from them. Others were 
simply dismissed and deprived of their right to pension. 
Manufacturers and bankers wiho took part in the gene- 
ral economic "sabotage" were also arrested and their 
businesses taken away and confiscated for the benefit of 
the State, tO' be run directly by the Government. Arrest 
and imprisonment, with a view to trial by revolutionary 
courts, were further inflicted on politicians and bankers 
who had been discovered carrying on a conspiracy with 
the rebel Cossack generals, and a number of papers who 
had been supporting and even agitating in favour of the 
bourgeois boycott, including some Socialist organs, 
were suspended, and in a few cases entirely suppressed. 
All these and similar measures were in the nature not so 
much of reprisals or punishments as of compulsion to 
work, for in the overwhelming majority of cases the 
cessation of the boycott or a pledge to resume work 

(43) 



sufficed to restore to the "saboteurs" their freedom and 
rights of citizenship. Because Countess Panin, 
Minister of PubHc Relief in the last Kerensky Govern- 
ment, refused to deliver the funds of her department to 
her Bolshevik successor, she was put into prison and 
kept there until the money was restored to the State; 
and When Purishkevitch, the notorious reactionary, 
caught in the midst of a Monarchist conspiracy, was 
condemned to four years' forced labour on public works 
he was expressly told that if after one year's confine- 
ment in prison he would sign a written pledge to desist 
from all political agitation the rest of his sentence would 
be remitted. Altogether, the "violence" practised by 
the Bolshevik Government even on its most active and 
implacable opponents has been astonishingly mild; 
certainly it cannot even be remotely compared, either in 
degree or extent, with the "terror" of the French Re- 
volution or with that generally practised by bourgeois 
governments against their enemies. In spite of all pro- 
vocation, not a single sentence of death has been pro- 
nounced by Bolshevik justice, and in point of mere 
numbers of persons arrested or papers suppressed it will 
compare very favourably even with Kerensky 's regime. 
Under the latter, hundreds of Bolsheviks and other 
political opponents languished in Petrograd prisons 
alone for many long months without ever having had 
even the charges submitted to them, so that scores of 
them went on hunger strike; and in the provinces 
thousands upon thousands, mostly members of the 
peasant land committees, were imprisoned on the charge 
of agitating for the immediate assumption of the posses- 
sion of the land in accordance with the Government's 
promise. As for sentences of death, hundreds and 
thousands of them were inflicted and carried out in the 
case of soldiers and whole units who refused to expose 
their bare breasts to the machine guns of the Germans, 
and the death penalty was on the point of being restored 
even for civilians throughout the country when the Bol- 
shevik revolution occurred. 

In face of these facts the cries of Bolshevik 

(44) 



* 'terrorism" which have been resounding ever since 
from the threats of the saboteurs and their aiders and 
abetters, who never raised a word of protest against the 
much more ruthless regime of reprisals practised under 
Kerensky, are partly hypocrisy, part of the campaign of 
slander waged against hated political opponents, and 
partly the expression of anguish which invariably seizes 
the bourgeoisie when the fortunes of history make it, 
for a moment, the anvil instead of the hammer. It was 
thus that the execution of two reactionary hostages by 
the Paris Communards sent a "thrill of horror" 
throughout the capitalist world, while the murder in 
cold blood of 35,000 men, women, and children by grape- 
shot against the wall of Pere Lachaise never for a 
moment disturbed that world's equanimity. 



DISSOLUTION OF COKSTITUENT ASSEMBLY. 

The greatest crime imputed to the Bolshevik regime, 
however, has been the dissolution of the Constituent 
Assembly which, after many delays under Kerensky 's 
regime, met at last under the auspices of the Bolshevik 
Government. It may certainly appear as a monstrous 
crime against democracy on the part of a regime which 
regards itself as Socialist to have suppressed an institu- 
tion which had been the dream of generations, which the 
Bolsheviks themselves had been championing ever since 
the first revolution of 1905 with more enthusiasm than 
any other party, and which, moreover, in the present 
circumstances, seemed to be the only way out of the 
civil war and civil strife which threatened the country. 
What better proof could have been furnished that the 
Bolsheviks were trampling on the people's will in a 
manner hitherto exhibited by the worst tyrants in 
history, that they were afraid of the verdict of the nation 
gathered through its representatives in the highest 
assembly known to democracy, and that their sole 
source of power was the bayonets of soldiers and the 
fists of the working-class? Indeed, had not the com- 
position of the Constituent Assembly on the very first 

(45) 



day shown a decided majority against the Bolsheviks, 
and was not that the circumstance which prompted the 
Bolsheviks, who had allowed the elections to the 
Assembly to take place and the Assembly itself to meet, 
to disperse it? 

To those whose order of ideas still clings to traditions 
of old bourgeois democracy the arguments of the 
opponents of the Bolsheviks will appear as irrefutable, 
but a closer examination of the circumstances and a 
detachment from inherited political measures of value 
will show not only the inevitableness, but also the iri^ 
trinsic justification of the violence done by the Bol- 
sheviks to the Constituent Assembly. When Lenin 
returned to Russia at the end of April he, with his clear 
foresight of the coming developments, at once pro- 
claimed that the Russian revolution would either assert 
itself as a Republic of the Soviets, that is, as a Republic 
lin which the supreme power would actually, and not 
merely on paper, belong to the proletariat and the 
poorer peasants, or it would not assert itself at all, but 
would perish at the hands of its own internal enemies. 
This pronouncement did not find favour even with 
Lenin's own closest political friends. How could the 
bourgeois classes be eliminated from power? Was 
Russia ripe for such a dictatorship of the disinherited 
masses? Even while fighting for the transfer of all 
power to the Soviets the leaders of the Bolsheviks were 
at that time unable to follow out their own train of 
thought to the end, and imagined, in a more or less 
confused way, that the exercise of power by the Soviets 
would only be temporary, that a Constituent Assembly, 
representing all classes, including the bourgeoisie, 
would in due course meet and decide in favour of a 
bourgeois Government, and that then the classes that 
were organised in the Soviets, that is, the proletariat 
and the peasantry, would voluntarily step down and 
allow the bourgeoisie to take their place. It did not 
enter their minds that the bourgeoisie itself might abdi- 
cate its powers by proclaiming a universal boycott of 
Government authority, or that the proletariat and the 

(46) 



peasantry, once possessed of power, might not be 
willing to restore it to their class enemies. Lenin did 
not .argue with them, but .allowed the events to justify 
his prognostications. He proved right. The revolution 
was ebbing out, and would have ebbed out entirely had 
not the Bolshevik revolution helped the Soviets to assert 
themselves. The Soviets, both centrally and locally, 
became the State^ and their power was confirmed by the 
universal strike of the bourgeoisie. What sense was 
there in allowing a Constituent Assembly to proclaim 
itself the supreme authority in the State and to super- 
sede the Soviets ? None whatsoever. The rule of the 
Soviets meant the assertion of the revolution and of the 
working and peasant classes, whereas the rule of the 
Constituent Assembly would have meant the re-estab- 
lishment of the rule of those very classes and parties 
which had nearly ruined the revolution, and which 
spelt the political and economic subjection of the 
popular masses. Should revolutionary Social-Demo- 
crats have permitted it? Should they have stultified 
their own action of a few weeks previously ? Had they 
wrested the power from the bourgeois classes and 
handed it over to the labouring masses in order to wrest 
it back from the latter and put it again intO' the hands 
of their enemies? The very idea of it was absurd. 
Either one agreed that Russia must, by a striking 
innovation, establish a new form of State, a State of the 
labouring masses, and in that case a Constituent 
Assembly, such as had emerged in all previous bour- 
geois revolutions, was an absurdity, or a Constituent 
Assembly was the crown of the revolutionary 
edifice, and in that case it had been a blunder 
and a crime on the part of the Bolsheviks' to 
have carried through their Socialist revolution. 
The Bolsheviks acted logically when they chose 
the first part of the dilemma; the others were 
also right in choosing the second part, because they 
were opposed to the idea of any other than a bour- 
geois rule. One certainly could not with any consist- 
ency be an opponent of the bourgeois regime, and yet 

(47) 



play off a Constituent Assemlbly against the Sovilets. 
In fact, the adherents of the Constituent Assembly were, 
and still are, those who' had themselves either opposed 
or kept delaying- it so long as they, while the 
Kerensky regime lasted, had reason to fear that 
the popular masses might gain through it undue 
importance; they became enthusiastic about it only 
when they saw, after the Bolshevik revolution, that a 
Constituent Assembly was their sole chance of regaining 
at least a portion of their old power. Their suddenly 
awakened sense of democracy was only the expression 
of their sense of disappointment at losing that last 
chance. 

THE DICTATORSHIP OF THE PROLETARIAT. 

The dissolution of the Constituent Assembly, then, 
meant the final establishment of the rule of the 
Soviets, that is, of the dictatorship of the proletariat and 
the peasant class, pending the reconstruction of society 
which would do away with classes altogether and admit 
every citizen of Russia to the full exercise of civic 
rights. The Bolsheviks may only be blamed for not 
having foreseen, as their leader Lenin had, the logical 
implications of their own war-cry, "All power to the 
Soviets," and for' discovering them only when con- 
fronted with the accomplished facts of the situation; 
but that is a blame which has nothing to do with the 
charges of coup d'etat, of usurpation, of violence 
against the principles of democracy which it pleases 
the Russian and foreign bourgeoisie to hurl at them. 
The real Constituent Assembly of the proletarian- 
peasant Republic of the Soviets met a week later, when 
the All-Russian Congress of the Soviets assembled, 
and was soon joined by the All-Russian Congress of 
Peasant Delegates. Both of them endorsed by an over- 
whelming majority the policy and the actions of the 
Council of People's Commissioners, and elected a joint 
Central Executive Committee to represent permanently 
the labouring masses of the Russian nation, and to act 

(48) 



as the supreme legislative and controlling authority. 
Their political complexion showed better than anything 
else could that the Constituent Assembly, which con- 
tained a majority against the Bolsheviks, had not faith- 
fully reflected the real mind of the people, owing chiefly 
to the fact that during the elections and the preceding 
electoral campaign the peasants in the country districts 
had been as yet unaware of the deep cleavage among 
the Socialist-Revolutionaries, all of whom talked of the 
socialisation of the land and of peace, and for whose 
candidates they voted as if they still were a united party. 
In the interval between these elections and the meeting 
of the All-Russian Peasant Congress not only did the 
cleavage between the "right" and the "left" wings of 
the party become itself much more pronounced, but, 
also, the peasants became more clearly aware of it. Had 
the Constituent Assembly been elected a couple of 
months later it would have shown a large majority for 
the Bolshevik policy. 



(49) 



VI. The Bolshevik Programme of 
Peace 

THE NEGOTIATIONS AT BREST-LITOVSK. 

It remains to sketch out the Bolshevik programme of 
peace, which, after all, was the chief plank in their 
platform, which had gained for them the adhesion of 
the overwhelming majority of the people. This very 
fact shows that the real usurpation, the real violence, 
the real disregard of the principles of democracy were 
all acts of which those parties had been guilty who for 
eight months previously had been organising for war, 
had led the unfortunate masses to slaughter in the July 
offensive, and had restored the death penalty for acts of 
insubordination in the army. True to their word, the 
Bolsheviks, immediately on gaining power, offered 
peace to all the belligerents, and a specially summoned 
Congress of the Soviets endorsed the action. The 
Allies refused the offer, the Germans accepted it. What 
were the Bolsheviks to do? Were they to repeat the 
old methods of persuasion and diplomatic talk with the 
Allies, which had shown themselves so futile during the 
previous eight months? They went to Brest-Litovsk 
to negotiate first for an armistice, and next for peace — 
a general, if the Allies agreed to join them, or separate, 
if need be. What were their plans? They knew that 
the military position was against them. The Russian 
army had been melting away ever since the last months 
of the Tsarist regime. It had been melting away 
through wholesale desertion and disease caused by 
hunger, by lack of munitions and general equipment, 
and by a complete lack of faith in the Russian and Allied 

(50) 



war alms. During the first eight months of the 
revolution the process had continued at an ever 
accelerating speed. The disorganisation of the trans- 
port, of the supply of raw material and fuel to the 
industries, and of the food and clothing supply had pro- 
ceeded apace, and though the Allies had brought in a 
considerable quantity of war material, large sectors of 
the immense front were still lacking in munitions, 
machine guns, heavy guns, trench props, boots, tents, 
carts, etc. Above all, the morale of the army 
deteriorated immensely owing to obvious contradiction 
between the watchwords of the revolution and the 
avowed objects of conquests which dominated the war 
policy of the Allies and which the Kerensky administra- 
tion was willingly, or unwillingly, helping to attain by 
further sacrificing the blood and treasure of the 
Russian people. The desertions and acts of in- 
subordination now became so numerous and so exten- 
sive that on one occasion the Minister of War openly 
admitted that by November there would no longer be 
any .army 'left in the trenches. The highest naval 
authority under Kerensky, when offered a post by the 
Bolsheviks, replied that the only service he could 
render Russia would be to tell the Allies she could no 
longer fight. The Bolsheviks could do nothing 
to remedy the state of affairs, and they went to 
Brest-LItovsk relying solely upon the revolutionary 
succour of the working classes of the other belligerent 
countries — above all, of Germany and Austria-Hungary. 
It was in order to provoke that succour, that is, to 
kindle the fire of a revolution in the Central Empires, 
that Trotsky, the head of the Russian peace delegation, 
tried to prolong the negotiations even after their hope- 
lessness had become apparent, and made those speeches 
which did more to set the German people in opposition 
to their bourgeois classes and Junker rulers than all the 
declarations of the Allied statesmen put together had 
done in the preceding three and a half years of war. 
As a matter of fact, a great strike, involving over a 
million workers, broke out in Germany and previously 

(51) 



in Austria, as a demonstration against the now 
revealed aggressive war aims of tiie Austro-German 
generals and diplomats. Had not at that very moment 
the Allied generals and diplomats assembled at 
Versailles issued a counterblast, who knows but that 
those strikes might have turned into a serious revolu- 
tionary movement? The same result would have been 
achieved if the Allies had from the first joined the Bol- 
sheviks at Brest and isolated the Austro-Germans by 
the acceptance of the Russian formula of peace. As it 
was, the strike movement came for the present to 
nothing, and Trotsky was confronted with the dilemma 
of either capitulating to the Germans completely or of 
renewing the war. As he would not do the former and 
as he could not do the latter, he broke off the negotia- 
tions, declared that Russia was out of the war, but 
refused to sign the humiliating terms of peace. He 
had, however, in reserve in his mind, in accordance 
with the injunction of Lenin, who from the first had not 
been hopeful of an immediate revolution in the Central 
Empires, that he would nevertheless sign the peace if 
the Germans were either to present him with an ulti- 
matum or denounce the armistice by giving the agreed 
seven days' notice. The Germans, however, did 
neither, and with a perfidy not easily matched in mili- 
tary history, immediately broke the armistice and 
marched against the defenceless and partly demobilised 
Russians. The rest is known. The Bolshevik gave 
in, and signed the aggravated German conditions of 
peace. 

THE SEPARATE PEACE. 

For that, of course, they have again been denounced 
by their political opponents and by many in the Allied 
countries, who had mostly before been admiring 
Trotsky's conduct at Brest. Yet what else could the 
Bolsheviks have done, with such a terrible legacy as 
they had received " on their hands, in the shape of 
hunger, lack of every necessity for war, disorganisa- 
tion of the State machinery, dislocation of the entire 
transport system, and with all the bourgeois elements 

(52) 



against them — especially in the Ukraine, where they 
had gone so far as to make a separate peace with the 
Germans and to invite them to march into their country 
to help them against the Bolsheviks and their own 
pro-Bolshevik popular masses? A section of the 
Bolshevik leaders were in favour of repudiating the 
German terms and of organising a voluntary army of 
revolutionists tO' continue the struggle until such time 
as the proletariat in Germany and Austria had risen. 
The majority, however, knowing the condition of the 
Russian masses better, refused to assume such a re- 
sponsibility in face of the problematic developments in 
Germany and Europe at large, and insisted upon 
the acceptance of the Brest treaty. Their, and 
above all Lenin's argument was that nO' effective 
resistance was at the moment possible until the country 
had been more or less reorganised, that with the 
Germans in the Ukraine the attempt would be still more 
hopeless, and that those who were prepared to wait 
until the rising of the working class in Germany had 
already been deceived in their expectations when they 
thought that the Germans would not dare to march 
against Socialist Russia for fear of their own people. 
On the other hand, if only they could get a respite, the 
Russian Socialist Republic would be firmly established 
and would in due course, even without actual fighting, 
exercise such a potent influence over the peoples of 
other countries that the German rule, not only in the 
territories forcibly separated from Russia, but also in 
Germany and Austria themselves would be destroyed. 
This view carried the day, and the future will show to 
what extent it was right. 

THE FUTURE. 

In the meantime it is certain that if left by foreign 
enemies alone, the Soviet rule will an no distant future 
establish a Socialist regime in Russia. Already the 
masses of the people — more particularly of the 
peasantry — are learning the work of administration 
through the Soviets, and the State officials and other 

(53) 



public employees, together with the rest of the intellec- 
tuals, learning wisdom through hunger, are going back 
to their old posts in evernincreasing numbers, so that 
the wheels of the Government machine are already 
revolving, and the great decrees issued by the People's 
Commissioners and the Soviets are passing from the 
"paper" stage into life. Even the most stubborn 
among the "intellectuals" will soon learn that, after all, 
the people is a much better master than the capitalist, 
and that a Socialist regime is likely to render even them 
more happy than a bourgeois regime. Thereby a new 
epoch opens in the life of mankind, and though it is 
hazardous to make prognostications, with two foreign 
invaders on Russian territory, and invasion threatened 
by the "Allies" with the object of restoring power 
to the bourgeoisie, with all the world, including 
the greater part of the Socialist world, look- 
ing on with undisguised hostility, one may nevertheless 
venture to say that the Bolshevik revolution, whatever 
its ultimate fate may be, will remain for all time the 
greatest source of inspiration to the struggling prole- 
tariat of all countries until the triumph of Socialism 
covers also with eternal glory the Red Flag implanted 
by Lenin and his friends on November 6-7, 1917. 

March, 1918. 



(54) 



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