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.
 

4. THE BOLSHEVIK PARTY ADOPTS THE COURSE OF PREPARING FOR ARMED UPRISING. SIXTH PARTY CONGRESS
 

    The Sixth Congress of the Bolshevik Party met in Petrograd in the midst of a frenzied campaign of Bolshevik-baiting in the bourgeois and petty-bourgeois press. It assembled ten years after the Fifth (London) Congress and five years after the Prague Conference of the Bolsheviks. The congress, which was held secretly, sat from July 26 to August 3, 1917. All that appeared in the press was an announcement of its convocation, the place of meeting was not divulged. The first sittings were held in the Vyborg District, the later ones in a school near the Narva Gate, where a House of Culture now stands. The bourgeois press demanded the arrest of the delegates. Detectives frantically scoured the city trying to discover the meeting place of the congress, but in vain.

    And so, five months after the overthrow of tsardom, the Bolsheviks were compelled to meet in secret, while Lenin, the leader of the proletarian party, was forced to go into hiding and took refuge in a shanty near Razliv Station.

    He was being hunted high and low by the sleuths of the Provisional Government and was therefore unable to attend the congress; but he uided its labours from his place of concealment through his close colleagues and disciples in Petrograd: Stalin, Sverdlov, Molotov, Ordjonikidze.

    The congress was attended by 157 delegates with vote and 128 with voice but no vote. At that time the Party had a membership of about 240,000. On July 3, i.e., before the workers' demonstration was broken up, when the Bolsheviks were still functioning legally, the Party had 41 publications, of which 29 were in Russian and 12 in other languages.

    The persecution to which the Bolsheviks and the working class were subjected during the July days, far from diminishing the influence of our Party, only enhanced it. The delegates from the provinces cited numerous facts to show that the workers and soldiers had begun to desert the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries en masse, contemptuously styling them "social-jailers." Workers and soldiers belonging to the Menshevik and Socialist-Revolutionary parties were tearing up their membership cards in anger and disgust and applying for admission to the Bolshevik Party.

    The chief items discussed at the congress were the political report of the Central Committee and the political situation. Comrade Stalin made the reports on both these questions. He showed with the utmost clarity how the revolution was growing and developing despite all the efforts of the bourgeoisie to suppress it. He pointed out that the revolution had placed on the order of the day the task of establishing workers' control over the production and distribution of products, of turning over the land to the peasants, and of transferring the power from the bourgeoisie to the working class and poor peasantry. He said that the revolution was assuming the character of a Socialist revolution.

    The political situation in the country had changed radically after the July days. The dual power had come to an end. The Soviets, led by Socialist-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks, had refused to take over full power and had therefore lost all power. The power was now concentrated in the hands of the bourgeois Provisional Government, and the latter was continuing to disarm the revolution, to smash its organizations and to destroy the Bolshevik Party. All possibility of a peaceful development of the revolution had vanished. Only one thing remained, Comrade Stalin said, namely, to take power by force, by overthrowing the Provisional Government. And only the proletariat, in alliance with the poor peasants, could take power by force.

    The Soviets, still controlled by the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries, had landed in the camp of the bourgeoisie, and under existing conditions could be expected to act only as subsidiaries of the Provisional Government. Now, after the July days, Comrade Stalin said, the slogan "All power to the Soviets!" had to be withdrawn. However, the temporary withdrawal of this slogan did not in any way imply a renunciation of the struggle for the power of the Soviets. It was not the Soviets in general, as organs of revolutionary struggle, that were in question, but only the existing Soviets, the Soviets controlled by the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries.

    "The peaceful period of the revolution has ended," said Comrade Stalin, "a non-peaceful period has begun, a period of clashes and explosions." (Lenin and Stalin, Russian Revolution, pp. 139-140.)

    The Party was headed for armed uprising.

    There were some at the congress who, reflecting the bourgeois influence, opposed the adoption of the course of Socialist revolution.

    The Trotskyite Preobrazhensky proposed that the resolution on the conquest of power should state that the country could be directed towards Socialism only in the event of a proletarian revolution in the West.

    This Trotskyite motion was opposed by Comrade Stalin. He said:

    "The possibility is not excluded that Russia will be the country that will lay the road to Socialism. . . . We must discard the antiquated idea that only Europe can show us the way. There is dogmatic Marxism and creative Marxism. I stand by the latter." (p. 146.)

    Bukharin, who held a Trotskyite position, asserted that the peasants supported the war, that they were in a bloc with the bourgeoisie and would not follow the working class.

    Retorting to Bukharin, Comrade Stalin showed that there were different kinds of peasants: there were the rich peasants who supported the imperialist bourgeoisie, and there were the poor peasants who sought an alliance with the working class and would support it in a struggle for the victory of the revolution.

    The congress rejected Preobrazhensky's and Bukharin's amendments and approved the resolution submitted by Comrade Stalin.

    The congress discussed the economic platform of the Bolsheviks and approved it. Its main points were the confiscation of the landed estates and the nationalization of all the land, the nationalization of the banks, the nationalization of large-scale industry, and workers' control over production and distribution.

    The congress stressed the importance of the fight for workers' control over production, which was later to play a significant part during the nationalization of the large industrial enterprises.

    In all its decisions, the Sixth Congress particularly stressed Lenin's principle of an alliance between the proletariat and the poor peasantry as a condition for the victory of the Socialist revolution.

    The congress condemned the Menshevik theory that the trade unions should be neutral. It pointed out that the momentous tasks confronting the working class of Russia could be accomplished only if the trade unions remained militant class organizations recognizing the political leadership of the Bolshevik Party.

    The congress adopted a resolution on the Youth Leagues, which at that time frequently sprang up spontaneously. As a result of the Party's subsequent efforts it succeeded in definitely securing the adherence of these young organizations which became a reserve of the Party.

    The congress discussed whether Lenin should appear for trial. Kamenev, Rykov, Trotsky and others had held even before the congress that Lenin ought to appear before the counter-revolutionary court. Comrade Stalin was vigorously opposed to Lenin's appearing for trial. This was also the stand of the Sixth Congress, for it considered that it would be a lynching, not a trial. The congress had no doubt that the bourgeoisie wanted only one thing -- the physical destruction of Lenin as the most dangerous enemy of the bourgeoisie. The congress protested against the police persecution of the leaders of the revolutionary proletariat by the bourgeoisie, and sent a message of greeting to Lenin.

    The Sixth Congress adopted new Party Rules. These rules provided that all Party organizations shall be built on the principle of democratic centralism.

    This meant:

    1) That all directing bodies of the Party, from top to bottom, shall be elected;

    2) That Party bodies shall give periodical accounts of their activities to their respective Party organizations;

    3) That there shall be strict Party discipline and the subordination of the minority to the majority;

    4) That all decisions of higher bodies shall be absolutely binding on lower bodies and on all Party members.

    The Party Rules provided that admission of new members to the Party shall be through local Party organizations on the recommendation of two Party members and on the sanction of a general membership meeting of the local organization.

    The Sixth Congress admitted the Mezhrayontsi and their leader, Trotsky, into the Party. They were a small group that had existed in Petrograd since 1913 and consisted of Trotskyite-Mensheviks and a number of former Bolsheviks who had split away from the Party. During the war, the Mezhrayonsti were a Centrist organization. They fought the Bolsheviks, but in many respects disagreed with the Mensheviks, thus occupying an intermediate, centrist, vacillating position. During the Sixth Party Congress the Mezhrayonsti declared that they were in agreement with the Bolsheviks on all points and requested admission to the Party. The request was granted by the congress in the expectation that they would in time become real Bolsheviks. Some of the Mezhrayonsti, Volodarsky and Uritsky, for example, actually did become Bolsheviks. As to Trotsky and some of his close friends, they, as it later became apparent, had joined not to work in the interests of the Party, but to disrupt and destroy it from within.

    The decisions of the Sixth Congress were all intended to prepare the proletariat and the poorest peasantry for an armed uprising. The Sixth Congress headed the Party for armed uprising, for the Socialist revolution.

    The congress issued a Party manifesto calling upon the workers, soldiers and peasants to muster their forces for decisive battles with the bourgeoisie. It ended with the words:

    "Prepare, then, for new battles, comrades-in-arms! Staunchly, manfully and calmly, without yielding to provocation, muster your forces and form your fighting columns! Rally under the banner of the Party, proletarians and soldiers! Rally under our banner, down trodden of the villages!"