C H A P T E R S E V E N
4. THE BOLSHEVIK PARTY ADOPTS THE COURSE OF PREPARING
FOR ARMED UPRISING. SIXTH PARTY CONGRESS
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
7. STRUGGLE OF THE BOLSHEVIK PARTY TO CONSOLIDATE THE
SOVIET POWER. PEACE OF BREST-LITOVSK. SEVENTH PARTY
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 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,
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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