MARXIST INTERNET ARCHIVE | History of CP Bolshevik

H I S T O R Y O F  T H E  C O M M U N I S T   P A R T Y

O F  T H E

S O V I E T  U N I O N

(B O L S H E V I K S)

C H A P T E R S E V E N
THE BOLSHEVIK PARTY IN THE PERIOD OF PREPARATION AND REALIZATION OF THE OCTOBER SOCIALIST REVOLUTION (APRIL 1917-1918)
1. SITUATION IN THE COUNTRY AFTER THE FEBRUARY REVOLUTION. PARTY EMERGES FROM UNDERGROUND AND PASSES TOOPEN POLITICAL WORK. LENIN ARRIVES IN PETROGRAD.LENIN'S APRIL THESES. PARTY'S POLICY OF TRANSITION TO SOCIALIST REVOLUTION
2. BEGINNING OF THE CRISIS OF THE PROVISIONAL GOVERNMENT. APRIL CONFERENCE OF THE BOLSHEVIK PARTY
3. SUCCESSES OF THE BOLSHEVIK PARTY IN THE CAPITAL. ABORTIVE OFFENSIVE OF THE ARMIES OF THE PROVISIONAL GOVERNMENT. SUPPRESSION OF THE JULY DEMONSTRATION OF WORKERS AND SOLDIERS
4. THE BOLSHEVIK PARTY ADOPTS THE COURSE OF PREPARING FOR ARMED UPRISING. SIXTH PARTY CONGRESS
5. GENERAL KORNILOV'S PLOT AGAINST THE REVOLUTION. SUPPRESSION OF THE PLOT. PETROGRAD AND MOSCOW SOVIETS GO OVER TO THE BOLSHEVIKS
6. OCTOBER UPRISING IN PETROGRAD AND ARREST OF THE PROVISIONAL GOVERNMENT. SECOND CONGRESS OF SOVIETS AND FORMATION OF THE SOVIET GOVERNMENT. DECREES OF THE SECOND CONGRESS OF SOVIETS ON PEACE AND LAND. VICTORY OF THE SOCIALIST REVOLUTION. REASONS FOR THE VICTORY OF THE SOCIALIST REVOLUTION
7. STRUGGLE OF THE BOLSHEVIK PARTY TO CONSOLIDATE THE SOVIET POWER. PEACE OF BREST-LITOVSK. SEVENTH PARTY CONGRESS
8. LENIN'S PLAN FOR THE INITIAL STEPS IN SOCIALIST CONSTRUCTION. COMMITTEES OF THE POOR PEASANTS AND THE CURBING OF THE KULAKS. REVOLT OF THE "LEFT" SOCIALIST-REVOLUTIONARIES AND ITS SUPPRESSION. FIFTH CONGRESS OF SOVIETS AND ADOPTION OF THE CONSTITUTION OF THE R.S.F.S.R.
 

3. SUCCESSES OF THE BOLSHEVIK PARTY IN THE CAPITAL. ABOR-TIVE OFFENSIVE OF THE ARMIES OF THE PROVISIONAL GOVERNMENT. SUPPRESSION OF THE JULY DEMONSTRATION OF WORKERS AND SOLDIERS
 

    On the basis of the decisions of the April Conference, the Party developed extensive activities in order to win over the masses, and to train and organize them for battle. The Party line in that period was, by patiently explaining the Bolshevik policy and exposing the compromising policy of the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries, to isolate these parties from the masses and to win a majority in the Soviets.

    In addition to the work in the Soviets, the Bolsheviks carried on extensive activities in the trade unions and in the factory committees.

    Particularly extensive was the work of the Bolsheviks in the army. Military organizations began to arise everywhere. The Bolsheviks worked indefatigably at the front and in the rear to organize the soldiers and sailors. A particularly important part in making the soldiers active revolutionaries was played at the front by the Bolshevik newspaper, Okopnaya Pravda (Trench Truth ).

    Thanks to Bolshevik propaganda and agitation, already in the early months of the revolution the workers in many cities held new elections to the Soviets, especially to the district Soviets, drove out the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries and elected followers of the Bolshevik Party in their stead.

    The work of the Bolsheviks yielded splendid results, especially in Petrograd.

    A Petrograd Conference of Factory Committees was held from May 30 to June 3, 1917. At this conference three-quarters of the delegates already supported the Bolsheviks. Almost the entire Petrograd proletariat supported the Bolshevik slogan -- "All power to the Soviets!"

    On June 3 (16), 1917, the First All-Russian Congress of Soviets met. The Bolsheviks were still in the minority in the Soviets; they had a little over 100 delegates at this congress, compared with 700 or 800 Mensheviks, Socialist-Revolutionaries and others.

    At the First Congress of Soviets, the Bolsheviks insistently stressed the fatal consequences of compromise with the bourgeoisie and exposed the imperialist character of the war. Lenin made a speech at the congress in which he showed the correctness of the Bolshevik line and declared that only a government of Soviets could give bread to the working people, land to the peasants, secure peace and lead the country out of chaos.

    A mass campaign was being conducted at that time in the working-class districts of Petrograd for the organization of a demonstration and for the presentation of demands to the Congress of Soviets. In its anxiety to prevent the workers from demonstrating without its authorization, and in the hope of utilizing the revolutionary sentiments of the masses for its own ends, the Executive Committee of the Petrograd Soviet decided to call a demonstration for June 18 (July 1). The Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries expected that it would take place under anti-Bolshevik slogans. The Bolshevik Party began energetic preparations for this demonstration. Comrade Stalin wrote in Pravda that ". . . it is our task to make sure that the demonstration in Petrograd on June 18 takes place under our revolutionary slogans."

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    The demonstration of June 18, 1917, was held at the graves of the martyrs of the revolution. It proved to be a veritable review of the forces of the Bolshevik Party. It revealed the growing revolutionary spirit of the masses and their growing confidence in the Bolshevik Party. The slogans displayed by the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries calling for confidence in the Provisional Government and urging the continuation of the war were lost in a sea of Bolshevik slogans. Four hundred thousand demonstrators carried banners bearing the slogans: "Down with the war!" "Down with the ten capitalist Ministers!" "All power to the Soviets!"

    It was a complete fiasco for the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries, a fiasco for the Provisional Government in the capital of the country.

    Nevertheless, the Provisional Government received the support of the First Congress of the Soviets and decided to continue the imperialist policy. On that very. day, June 18, the Provisional Government, in obedience to the wishes of the British and French imperialists, drove the soldiers at the front to take the offensive. The bourgeoisie regarded this as the only means of putting an end to the revolution. In the event of the success of the offensive, the bourgeoisie hoped to take the whole power into its own hands, to push the Soviets out of the arena, and to crush the Bolsheviks. Again, in the event of its failure, the entire blame could be thrown upon the Bolsheviks by accusing them of disintegrating the army.

    There could be no doubt that the offensive would fail. And fail it did. The soldiers were worn out, they did not understand the purpose of the offensive, they had no confidence in their officers who were alien to them, there was a shortage of artillery and shells. All this made the failure of the offensive a foregone conclusion.

    The news of the offensive at the front, and then of its collapse, roused the capital. The indignation of the workers and soldiers knew no bounds. It became apparent that when the Provisional Government proclaimed a policy of peace it was hoodwinking the people, and that it wanted to continue the imperialist war. It became apparent that the All-Russian Central Executive Committee of the Soviets and the Petrograd Soviet were unwilling or unable to check the criminal deeds of the Provisional Government and themselves trailed in its wake.

    The revolutionary indignation of the Petrograd workers and soldiers boiled over. On July 3 (16) spontaneous demonstrations started in the Vyborg District of Petrograd. They continued all day. The separate demonstrations grew into a huge general armed demonstration demanding the transfer of power to the Soviets. The Bolshevik Party was opposed to armed action at that time, for it considered that the revolutionary crisis had not yet matured, that the army and the provinces were not yet prepared to support an uprising in the capital, and that an isolated and premature rising might only make it easier for the counter-revolutionaries to crush the vanguard of the revolution. But when it became obviously impossible to keep the masses from demonstrating, the Party resolved to participate in the demonstration in order to lend it a peaceful and organized character. This the Bolshevik Party succeeded in doing. Hundreds of thousands of men and women marched to the headquarters of the Petrograd Soviet and the All-Russian Central Executive Committee of Soviets, where they demanded that the Soviets take the power into their own hands, break with the imperialist bourgeoisie, and pursue an active peace policy.

    Notwithstanding the pacific character of the demonstration, reactionary units -- detachments of officers and cadets were brought out against it. The streets of Petrograd ran with the blood of workers and soldiers. The most ignorant and counter-revolutionary units of the army were summoned from the front to suppress the workers.

    After suppressing the demonstration of workers and soldiers, the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries, in alliance with the bourgeoisie and Whiteguard generals, fell upon the Bolshevik Party. The Pravda premises were wrecked. Pravda, Soldatskaya Pravda (Soldiers' Truth ) and a number of other Bolshevik newspapers were suppressed. A worker named Voinov was killed by cadets in the street merely for selling Listok Pravdy (Pravda Bulletin ). Disarming of the Red Guards began. Revolutionary units of the Petrograd garrison were withdrawn from the capital and dispatched to the trenches. Arrests were carried out in the rear and at the front. On July 7 a warrant was issued for Lenin's arrest. A number of prominent members of the Bolshevik Party were arrested. The Trud printing plant, where the Bolshevik publications were printed, was wrecked. The Procurator of the Petrograd Court of Sessions announced that Lenin and a number of other Bolsheviks were being charged with "high treason" and the organization of an armed uprising. The charge against Lenin was fabricated at the headquarters of General Denikin, and was based on the testimony of spies and agents-provocateurs.

    Thus the coalition Provisional Government -- which included such leading representatives of the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries as Tsereteli, Skobelev, Kerensky and Chernov -- sank to the depths of downright imperialism and counter-revolution. Instead of a policy of peace, it had adopted the policy of continuing war. Instead of protecting the democratic rights of the people, it had adopted the policy of nullifying these rights and suppressing the workers and soldiers by force of arms.

    What Guchkov and Milyukov, the representatives of the bourgeoisie, had hesitated to do, was done by the "socialists" Kerensky and Tsereteli, Chernov and Skobelev.

    The dual power had come to an end.

    It ended in favour of the bourgeoisie, for the whole power had passed into the hands of the Provisional Government, while the Soviets, with their Socialist-Revolutionary and Menshevik leaders, had become an appendage of the Provisional Government.

    The peaceful period of the revolution had ended, for now the bayonet had been placed on the agenda.

    In view of the changed situation, the Bolshevik Party decided to change its tactics. It went underground, arranged for a safe hiding place for its leader, Lenin, and began to prepare for an uprising with the object of overthrowing the power of the bourgeoisie by force of arms and setting up the power of the Soviets.