The first four Letters trom Afar were written between March 7 and 12 (20 and 25), the fifth, unfinished letter was written on the eve of Lenin's departure from Switzerland, on March 26 (April 8), 1917.
As soon as the first news reached him of the revolutionary events in Russia and the composition of the bourgeois Provisional Government and the Executive Committee of the Petrograd Soviet, Lenin began work on an article for Pravda -- he regarded the press as an important vehicle of propaganda and organisation. "The press is now the main thing", he wrote to Alexandra Kollontai on March 3 (16). "I cannol deliver lectures or attend meetings, for I must write daily for Pravda," he wrote to V. A. Karpinsky on March 8 (21), in reply to the latter's invitation to deliver a lecture on the tasks of the Party in the revolution to Russian émigrés and Swiss socialists in Geneva.
The first and second "Letters from Afar" were sent to Alexandra Kollontai in Oslo on March 9 (22) for forwarding to Petrograd. On March 17 (30) Lenin asked J. S. Hanecki whether the first four letters had reached Pravda in Petrograd, adding that if they had not, he would send copies. The letters were brought to Petrograd by
Alexandra Kollontai, who handed them over to Pravda on March 19 (April 1).
The first letter appeared in Nos. 14 and 15 of Pravda, March 21 and 22 (April 3 and 4), with considerable abridgements and certain changes by the editorial board, which, beginning with mid-March, included L. B. Kamenev and J. V. Stalin. The full lext of the letter was first published in 1949, in the fourth Russian edition of Lenin's Collected Works.
The second, third and fourth letlers were not published in 1917. The basic ideas of the unfinished fifth letter were developed by Lenin in his "Letters on Tactics" and "The Tasks of the Proletariat in Our Revolution".
Before leaving for Russia, Lenin took measures to circulate the first and second letters among Bolsbeviks living in France and Switzerland.
The Pravda editors deleted about one fifth of the first letter. The cuts concern chiefly Lenin's characterisation of the Menshevik and Socialist-Revolutionary leaders as conciliators and flunkeys of the bourgeoisie, their attempts to hide from the people the fact that representatives of the British and French governments helped the Cadets and Octobrists secure the abdication of Nicholas II, and also Lenin's exposure of the monarchist and imperialist proclivities of the Provisional Government, which was determined to continue the prodatory war.
Lenin here refers to the Petrograd Soviet of Workers' Deputies, which emerged in the very early days of the February Revolution. Elections to the Soviet began spontaneously at individual factories and within a few days spread to all the factories in the capital. On February 27 (March 12), before tho Soviet had assembled for its first meeting, the Menshevik liquidalors K. A. Gvozdyov and B. O. Bogdanov, and Duma members N . S. Chkheidze, M. I. Skobelev and others proclaimed themselves the Provisional Executive Committee of the Soviet in an attempt to bring it under their complete control. At its first meeting in the evening of the same day, the Soviet formed a Presidium composed of Chkheidze, Kerensky and Skobelev who, together with A. G. Shlyapnikov, N. N. Sukhanov and Y. M. Steklov, made up the Executive Committee. Provision was made for inclusion of representatives of the central and Petrograd committees of the socialist parties. The Socialist-Revolutionaries were at first opposed to the organisation of the Soviet, but subsequently delegated their representalives, V. A. Alexandrovich, V. M. Zenzinov and others.
The Soviet proclaimed itself the organ of the workers and soldiers, and up to the first Congress of Soviets (June 1917) was factually an all-Russian centre. On March 1 (14) the Executive Committee was extended to include soldiers' deputies, among them F. F. Linde. A. I. Paderin and A. D. Sadovsky.
The Bureau of the Executive Committee was composed among others, of N. S. Chkheidze, Y. M. Steklov, B. O.. Bogdanov,
P. I. Stucka, P. A. Krasikov, K. A. Gvozdyov. N. S. Chkheidze and A. F. Kerensky were delegated to represent the Soviet on the Duma Committee.
On February 28 (March 13), the Soviet issued its Manifesto to the Population of Petrograd and Russia. It called on the people to rally around the Soviet and take over the administration of local affairs. On March 3 (14). the Soviet appointed several commissions -- on food, military affairs, public order and the press. The latter commission provided the first editorial board of Izvestia, composed of N. D. Sokolov, Y. M. Steklov, N. N. Sukhanov and K. S. Grinevich; V. A. Bazarov and B. V. Avilov were added somewhat later.
Meetings of the ExecutiveCommittee were attended, in a consultative capacity, by the Social-Democratic members of all the four State Dumas, five representatives of the Soldiers' Commission, two representatives of the Central Trade Union Bureau, representatives of the district Soviets, the Izvestia editorial board, and other organisations.
The Soviet appointed special delegates to organise district Soviets and began the formation of a militia (100 volunteers for every 1,000 workers).
Though leadership of the Soviet was in the hands of compromising elements, the pressure of the militant workers and soldiers compelled it to take a number of revolutionary measures -- the arrest of tsarist officials, release of political prisoners, etc.
On March 1 (14), the Soviet issued its "Order No. 1 to the Petrograd Garrison". It played a very big part in revolutionising the army. Henceforth all military units were to be guided in their political actions solely by the Soviet, all weapons were to be placed at the disposal and under the control of company and battalion soldiers' committees, orders issued by the Provisional Committee of the State Duma were to be obeyed only if they did not conflict with the orders of the Soviet, etc.
But at the crucial moment, on the night following March 1 (14) the compromising leaders of the Soviet Executive voluntarily turned over power to the bourgeoisie: they endorsed the Provisional Government composed of representatives of the bourgeoisie and landlords. This was not known abroad, since papers standing to the left of the Cadets were not allowed out of the country. Lenin learned of the surrender of power only when he returned to Russia.
Octobrists -- members of thc Union of October Seventeen, a counter-revolutionary party formed after promulgation of the tsar's Manifesto of October 17 (30) 1905. It represented and upheld the interests of the big bourgeoisie and of the landlords who ran their estates on capitalist lines. Its leaders were A. I. Guchkov, a big Moscow manufacturer and real estate owner, and M. V. Rodzyanko, a rich landlord. The Octobrists gave their full support to the tsar's home and foreign policy and in the First World War joined the "Progressist bloc", a sham opposition group demanding responsible government, in other words, a government that would enjoy the
confidence of the bourgeoisie and landlords. The Octobrists became the ruling party after the February Revolution and did everything they could to ward off socialist revolution. Their leader, Guchkov, was War Minister in the First Provisional Government. Following the Great October Socialist Revolution, the party became one of the main forces in the battle against Soviet power.
The party of Peaceful Renovation was a constitutional-monarchist organisation of the big bourgeoisie and landlords. It took final shape in 1906 following the dissolution of the First Duma. It united the "Left" Octobrists and "Right" Cadets and its chief leaders were P. A. Heiden, N. N. Lvov, P. P. Ryabushinsky, M. A. Stakhovich, Y. N. and G. N. Trubetskoi, D. N. Shipov. Like the Octobrists, it sought to safeguard and promote the interests of the industrial and commercial bourgeoisie and of the landlords who ran their estates along capitalist lines. In the Third Duma the party joined with the so-called Party of Democratic Reforms to form the Progressist group.
Cadets -- the name derives from the Constitutional-Democratic Party, the chief party of the Russian liberal-monarchist bourgeoisie. Founded in October 1905, it was composed chielly of capitalists, Zemstvo leaders, landlords and bourgeois intellectuals. Prominent in the leadership were P. N. Milyukov, S. A. Muromtsev, V. A. Maklakov, A. I. Shingaryov, P. B. Struve and F. I. Rodichev. The Cadets became the party of the imperialist bourgeoisie and in the First World War actively supported the tsarist government's predatory policies and in the February Revolution tried to save the monarchy. The dominant force in the Provisional Government, they followed a counter-revolutionary policy inimical to the people but advantageous to U.S., British and French imperialism. Implacable enemies of Soviet power, the Cadets had an active part in all the armed counter-revolutionary actions and foreign intervention campaigns. Most of their leaders emigrated after the defeat of the counter-revolutionary forces and continued their anti-Soviet and counter-revolutionary work abroad.
Trudovik -- member of the Trudovik group in the State Dumas formed in April 1906 by petty-bourgeois democrats -- peasants and intellectuals of the Narodnik persuasion. The group wavered between the Cadets and the revolutionary Social-Democrats, and in the First World War most of its members adopted a social-chauvinist position.
The Trudoviks spoke for the rich peasants, the kulaks, and after the February Revolution actively supported the Provisional Government. One of their representatives, Zarudny, became Minister of Justice following the July events and directed the police campaign against the Bolsheviks. After the October Revolution the Trudoviks sided with the counter-revolutionary forces.
The first Provisional Government, or the Provisional Committee of the State Duma, was formed on February 27 (March 12), 1917.
On that day the Duma Council of Doyens sent a telegram to the tsar drawing his attention to the critical situation in the capital and urging immediate measures "to save the fatherland and the dynasty". The tsar replied by sending the Duma President, M. V. Rodzyanko, a decree dissolving the Duma. By this time the insurgent people had surrounded tbe Duma building, the Taurida Palace, where Duma members were meeting in private conference, and blocked all the streets leading to it. Soldiers and armed workers were in occupation of the building. In this situation the Duma hastened to elect A Provisional Commitlee to "maintain order in Petrograd and for communication with various institutions and individuals".
The Provisional Committee was composed of V. V. Shulgin and V. N. Lvov, both of the extreme Right, Octobrists S. I. Shidlovsky. I. I. Dmitryukov, M. V. Rodzyanko (chairman), Progressists V. A. Rzhevsky and A. I. Konovalov, Cadets P. N . Milyukov and N. V. Nekrasov, the Trudovik A. F. Kerensky, and the Menshevik N. S. Chkheidze.
The composition of the C. C. Bureau in Russia on March 9 (22), 1917 was as follows: A. I. Yelizarova, K. S. Yeremeyev, V. N. Zalezhsky, P. A. Zalutsky, M. I. Kalinin, V. M. Molotov, M. S. Olminsky, A. M. Smirnov, Y. D. Stasova, M. I. Ulyanova, M. I. Khakharev, K. M. Shvedchikov, A. C. Shlyapnikov and K. I. Shutko. On March 12 (25). G. I. Bokii and M. K. Muranov were added, also J. V. Stalin, with voice but no vote.
The Petrograd Committee of the R.S.D.L.P. was formed at a meeting on March 2 (15), 1917, and was composed of all those who had served on the illegal committees and newly co-opted members. The composition was: B. V. Avilov, N. K. Antipov, B. A. Zhemchuzhin, V. N. Zalezhsky, M. I. Kalinin, N. P. Komarov, L. M. Mikhailov, V. M. Molotov, K. Orlov, N. 1. Podvoisky, P. I. Stucka, V. V. Schmidt, K. I. Shutko and A. G. Shlyapnikov. representing the Central Committee Bureau.
For the January (Prague) Conference, to which Lenin refers, see Note No. 95.
[ -- Note 95 (p. 400-01): In January 1912 the Mensheviks were expelled from the Party by decision of the Sixth (Prague) Conference of the R.S.D.L.P.
The Sixth All-Russia Conference of the R.S.D.L.P. met from January 5 to January 17 (18-30), 1912 in Prague and actually assumed the character of a Party congress.
Lenin was the leading figure at the Conference. He delivered the reports on the current situation and the tasks of the Party, the work of the International Socialist Bureau, and took part in the discussions. He also drafted the resolutions on all major agenda items.
The Conference resolutions on "Liquidationism and the Group of Liquidators" and on "The Party Organisation Abroad" were of tremendous theoretical and practical significance. The Conference declared that by their conduct the liquidators had definitely placed themselves outside the Party and expelled them from the R.S.D.L.P. The Conference condemned the activities of the anti-Party groups abroad‹the Menshevik Golos group, the Vperyod and Trotsky groups, and recognised the absolute neceasity for a single Party oryanisation abroad, conducting its work under the supervision and guidance of the C.C., and pointed out that Party groups abroad which refuse to submit to the Russian centre of Social-Democratic [cont. onto p. 401. -- DJR] activity, i.e., to the Central Committee, and which cause disorganisation by communicating with Russia independently and ignoring the Central Committee, have no right to use the name of the R.S.D.L.P.". The Conference adopted a resolution on "The Character and Organisational Forms of Party Work", approved Lenin's draft Organisational Rules, made the newspaper Sotsial-Demokrat the Party Central Organ, elected a Party Central Committee and set up the Bureau of the C.C. in Russia.
The Prague Conference played an outstanding part in building the Bolshevik Party, a party of a new type, and in strengthening its unity. It summed up a whole historical period of struggle against the Mensheviks, consolidated the victory of the Bolsheviks and expelled the Menshevik liquidators from the Party. Local Party organisations rallied still closer round the Party on the basis of the Conference decisions. The Conference strengthened the Party as an all-Russian organisation and defined its political line and tactics in the conditions of the new revolutionary upsurge. The Prague Conference was of great international significance. It showed the revolutionary elements of the parties of the Second International how to conduct a decisive struggle against opportunism by carrying the fight to a complete organisational break with the opportunists. -- DJR]
This refers to the Manifesto of the Russtan Social-Democratic Labour Party to All Citizens of Russia, issued by the Central Committee and published as a supplement to Izvestia of February 28 (March 13), 1917 (No. 1). Lenin learned of the Manifesto from an abridged version in the morning edition of the Frankfurter Zeitung, March 9 (22), 1917. On the following day he wired Pravda in Petrograd via Oslo: "Have just read excerpts from the Central Committee Manifesto. Best wishes. Long live the proletarian militia, harbinger of peace and socialism!"
See Note No. 75. [ -- Note 75 (p. 397): Socialist-Revolutionaries -- members of the Socialist-Revolutionary Party, a petty-bourgeois party in Russia, which arose at the end of 1901 and beginning of 1902 as a result of the merger of various Narodnik groups and circles. The Socialist-Revolutionaries were oblivious to the class differences between the proletariat and petty proprietors, glossed over the class differentiation and contradictions within the peasantry and negated the leading role of the proletariat in the revolution. The views of the Socialist-Revolutionaries were an eclectic mixture of the ideas of Narodism and revisionism. The Bolshevik Party exposed their attempts to masquerade as socialists carried out a determined struggle against them for influence over the peasantry and showed the danger to the working-class movement of their tactics of individual terrorism.
The fact that the peasantry, to which the Socialist-Revolutionaries appealed, was not a homogeneous class determined their political and ideological instability and organisational disunity and their constant waverings between the liberal bourgeoisie and the proletariat. As early as the first Russian revolution (1905-07) the Right wing of the Socialist-Revolutionary Party broke away and formed the legal Trudovik Popular Socialist Party whose outlook was close to that of the Cadets, and the Left wing formed the semi-anarchist League of Maximalists. The majority of Socialist-Revolutionaries adopted a social-chauvinist position during the First World War.
O.C.-ists -- See Note No. 31. [ -- Note 31 (p. 386): The Organising Committee -- the leading Menshevik centre, inaugurated at the August 1912 Conference of liquidators. In the First World War the Organising Committee followed a social-chauvinist policy, justified tsarist Russia's part in the war and carried on jingoist propaganda. Published a magazine Nasha Zarya (Our Dawn ) and, after its closure, Nashe Dyelo (Our Cause ), later renamed Dyelo, and the newspaper Rabocheye Utro (Workers' Morning ) later renamed Utro. The O.C. functioned up to the elections of the Menshevik Central Committee in August 1917. Besides the 0. C. which operated inside Russia, there was a Secretariat Abroad composed of five secretaries -- P. B. Axelrod, I. S. Astrov-Poves, Y. O. Martov, A. S. Martynov and S. Y. Semkovsky. It followed a pro-Centrist line and used internationalist phraseology to cover up its support of the Russian social-chauvinists. The Secretariat Abroad published a newspaper, Izvestia (News ), which appeared from February 1915 to March 1917.]. -- DJR]
Reference is to the agreement concluded on the night following March 1 (14), 1917 between the Duma Provisional Committee and the Socialist-Revolutionary and Menshevik leaders of the Petro-
grad Soviet Executive Committee. The latter voluntarily surrendered power to the bourgeoisie and authorised the Duma Provisional Committee to form a Provisional Government of its own choice.
Le Temps -- a daily paper published in Paris from 1861 to 1942. Spoke for the ruling element and was the factual organ of the French Foreign Ministry.
The Manifesto of the Executive Committee of the Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies was published in Izvestia on March 3 (16),1917 (No. 4), simultaneously with the announcement of the formation of a Provisional Government under Prince Lvov. Drawn up by the Socialist-Revolutionary and Menshevik members of the Executive Committee, it declared that the democratic forces would support the new government "to the extent that it carries out its undertakings and wages a determined struggle against the old regime".
The Manifesto did not mention the fact that the Soviet had authorised Kerensky to join the new government, inasmuch as on March 1 (14) the Executive Commitlee had decided "not to delegate democratic represenlatives to the government". Le Temps reported this in a despatch from its correspondent. On March 2 (15) the Soviet, "defying the protest of the minority", approved Kerensky's entry into the government as Minister of Justice.
Neue Zürcher Zeitung -- a bourgeois newspaper, founded in Zurich in 1780 and until 1821 published under the name Zürcher Zeitung, now the most influential paper in Switzerland.
National-Zeitung -- a capitalist newspaper published in Berlin from 1848 to 1938; beginning with 1914 appeared under the name Acht-Uhr Abendsblatt. National-Zeitung.
The foreign press reported the appointment by the Petrograd Soviet of a special body to keep check on the Provisional Government. On the basis of this report, Lenin at first welcomed the organisation of this control body, pointing out, however, that only experience would show whether it would live up to expectations. Actually, this so-called Contact Committee, appointed by the Executive on March 8 (21) to "influence" and "conlrol" the work of the Provisional Government, only helped the latter exploit the prestige of the Soviet as a cover for its counter-revolutionary policy. The Contact Committee consisted of M. I. Skobelev, Y. M. Steklov, N. N. Sukhanov, V. N. Filippovsky, N S. Chkheidze and, later V. M. Chernov and I. G. Tsereteli. It helped keep the masses from active revolutionary struggle for the transfer of power to the Soviets. The committee was dissolved in April 1917, when its functions were taken over by the Petrograd Soviet Executive Committee Bureau.
Frankfurter Zeitung -- an influential German capitalist daily paper, published in Frankfurl-on-Main, from 1856 to 1943. Resumed
publication in 1949 under the name Frarkfurter Allgemeine Zeitung; speaks for West German monopoly interests.
Vossische Zeitung -- a moderate liberal newspaper published in Berlin from 1704 to 1934.
See Lenin's The State and Revolution (present edition Vol. 25).
Soon after its formation, the Provisional Government appointed the Octobrist M. A. Stakhovich Governor-General of Finland and the Cadet F. I. Rodichev Minister (or Commissioner) for Finnish Aflairs. On March 8 (21), the Provisional Government issued its Manifesto "On Approval and Enforcement of the Constitution of the Grand Duchy of Finland". Under this Finland was allowed autonomy with the proviso that laws promulgated by the Finnish Diet would be subject to confirmation by the Russian Government. Laws that ran counter to Finnish legislation were to remain in force for the duration of the war.
The Provisional Government wanted the Finnish Diet to amen(l the Constitution to give "Russian citizens equal rights with Finnish citizens in commerce and industry", for under the tsarist government such equality was imposed in defiance of Finnish laws. At the same time, the Provisional Government refused to discuss self-determination for Finland "pending convocation of the constituent assembly. This led to a sharp conflict, resolved only after the Great October Socialist Revolution when, on December 18 (31), 1917, the Soviet Government granted Finland full independence.
Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism was written in the first half of 1916, and on June 19 (July 2) was sent to Petrograd via Paris. It was to have been Published by the Parus publishing house which, on Maxim Gorky's initiative, was putting out a series of popular surveys of West-European countries involved in the war. Lenin mainlained contact with the publishers through the editor of the series, M. N. Pokrovsky. On September 29, 1916, Gorky wrote Pokrovsky in Paris that Lenin's book was "really excellent" and would be put out in addition to the regular series. However, the Parus editors strongly objected to Lenin's criticism of Kautsky's renegade position and substantially altlered the text, deleting all criticism of Kautsky's theory of ultra-imperialism and distorting a number of Lenin's formulations. The book was finally published in mid-1917 with a preface by Lenin, dated April 26.
Parus (Sail) and Letopis (Annals) -- the names of the publishing house and magazine founded by Gorky in Petrograd.
Letopis -- a magazine of literature, science and politics whose contributors included former Bolsheviks (the Machists V. A. Bazarov and A. A. Bogdanov) and Mensheviks. Gorky was literary editor, and among the other prominent writers contributing to Letopis were Alexander Blok, Valeri Bryusov, Fyodor Gladkov, Sergei Yesenin.
A. V. Lunacharskv, Vladimir Mayakovsky, Vyacheslav Shishkov and A. Chaplygin. Letopis appeared from December 1915 to December 1917. The Parus publishing house existed from 1915 through 1918.
The agrarian programme of the; "104" -- the land reform bill the Trudovik members submitted to the 13th meeting of the First State Duma on May 23 (June 5) 1906. Its purpose was to "establish a system under which all the land, with its deposits and water, would belong to the entire people, and farmlands would be allowed only those tilling them by their own labour- (Documents and Materials of the State Duma, Moscow, 1957, p. 172). The Trudoviks advocated organisation of a "national land fund" that would include all state, crown, monastery and church lands, also part of privately owned lands, which were to be alienated if the size of the holding exceeded the labor norm fixed for the given area. Partial compensation was to be paid for such alienated land. Small holdings were to remain the property of the owner, but would eventually be brought into the national fund. Implementalion of the reform was to be supervised by local committees elected by universal, direct and equal sufferage and by secret ballot.