C H A P T E R S E V E N
5. GENERAL KORNILOV'S PLOT AGAINST THE REVOLUTION.
SUPPRESSION OF THE PLOT. PETROGRAD AND MOSCOW SOVIETS GO OVER TO THE
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
Having seized all power, the bourgeoisie began preparations
to destroy the now weakened Soviets and to set up an open
counter-revolutionary dictatorship. The millionaire Ryabushinsky
insolently declared that the way out of the situation was "for the
gaunt hand of famine, of destitution of the people, to seize the
false friends of the people -- the democratic Soviets and Committees
-- by the throat." At the front, courts-martial wreaked savage
vengeance on the soldiers, and meted out death sentences wholesale.
On August 3, 1917, General Kornilov, the Commander-in-Chief,
demanded the introduction of the death penalty behind the lines as
On August 12, a Council of State, convened by the Provisional
Government to mobilize the forces of the bourgeoisie and the
landlords, opened in the Grand Theatre in Moscow. The Council was
attended chiefly by representatives of the landlords, the
bourgeoisie, the generals, the officers and Cossacks. The Soviets
were represented by Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries.
In protest against the convocation of the Council of State,
the Bolsheviks on the day of its opening called a general strike in
Moscow in which the majority of the workers took part.
Simultaneously, strikes took place in a number of other cities.
The Socialist-Revolutionary Kerensky threatened in a fit of
boasting at the Council to suppress "by iron and blood" every
attempt at a revolutionary movement, including unauthorized attempts
of the peasants to seize the lands of the landlords.
The counter-revolutionary General Kornilov bluntly demanded
that "the Committees and Soviets be abolished."
Bankers, merchants and manufacturers flocked to Kornilov at
General Headquarters, promising him money and support.
Representatives of the "Allies," Britain and France, also
came to General Kornilov, demanding that action against the
revolution be not delayed.
General Kornilov's plot against the revolution was coming to
Kornilov made his preparations openly. In order to distract
attention, the conspirators started a rumour that the Bolsheviks
were preparing an uprising in Petrograd to take place on August 27
-- the end of the first six months of the revolution. The
Provisional Government, headed by Kerensky, furiously attacked the
Bolsheviks, and intensified the terror against the proletarian
party. At the same time, General Kornilov massed troops in order to
move them against Petrograd, abolish the Soviets and set up a
Kornilov had come to a preliminary agreement with Kerensky
regarding his counter-revolutionary action. But no sooner had
Kornilov's action begun than Kerensky made an abrupt
right-about-face and dissociated himself from his ally. Kerensky
feared that the masses who would rise against the Kornilovites and
crush them would at the same time sweep away Kerensky's bourgeois
government as well, unless it at once dissociated itself from the
On August 25 Kornilov moved the Third Mounted Corps under the
command of General Krymov against Petrograd, declaring that he in
tended to "save the fatherland." In face of the Kornilov revolt, the
Central Committee of the Bolshevik Party called upon the workers and
soldiers to put up active armed resistance to the
counter-revolution. The workers hurriedly began to arm and prepared
to resist. The Red Guard detachments grew enormously during these
days. The trade unions mobilized their members. The revolutionary
military units in Petrograd were also held in readiness for battle.
Trenches were dug around Petrograd, barbed wire entanglements
erected, and the railway tracks leading to the city were torn up.
Several thousand armed sailors arrived from Kronstadt to defend the
city. Delegates were sent to the "Savage Division" which was
advancing on Petrograd; when these delegates explained the purpose
of Kornilov's action to the Caucasian mountaineers of whom the
"Savage Division" was made up, they refused to advance. Agitators
were also dispatched to other Kornilov units. Wherever there was
danger, Revolutionary Committees and headquarters were set up to
In those days the mortally terrified Socialist-Revolutionary
and Menshevik leaders, Kerensky among them, turned for protection to
the Bolsheviks, for they were convinced that the Bolsheviks were the
only effective force in the capital that was capable of routing
But while mobilizing the masses to crush the Kornilov revolt,
the Bolsheviks did not discontinue their struggle against the
Kerensky government. They exposed the government of Kerensky, the
Mensheviks and the Socialist-Revolutionaries, to the masses,
pointing out that their whole policy was in effect assisting
Kornilov's counter-revolutionary plot.
The result of these measures was that the Kornilov revolt was
crushed. General Krymov committed suicide. Kornilov and his
fellow-conspirators, Denikin and Lukomsky, were arrested. (Very
soon, however, Kerensky had them released.)
The rout of the Kornilov revolt revealed in a flash the
relative strength of the revolution and the counter-revolution. It
showed that the whole counter-revolutionary camp was doomed, from
the generals and the Constitutional-Democratic Party to the
Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries who had become entangled in
the meshes of the bourgeoisie. It became obvious that the influence
of the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries among the masses had
been completely undermined by the policy of prolonging the
unbearable strain of the war, and by the economic chaos caused by
the protracted war.
The defeat of the Kornilov revolt further showed that the
Bolshevik Party had grown to be the decisive force of the revolution
and was capable of foiling any attempt at counter-revolution. Our
Party was not yet the ruling party, but during the Kornilov days it
acted as the real ruling power, for its instructions were
unhesitatingly carried out by the workers and soldiers.
Lastly, the rout of the Kornilov revolt showed that the
seemingly dead Soviets actually possessed tremendous latent power of
revolutionary resistance. There could be no doubt that it was the
Soviets and their Revolutionary Committees that barred the way of
the Kornilov troops and broke their strength.
The struggle against Kornilov put new vitality into the
languishing Soviets of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies. It freed
them from the sway of the policy of compromise. It led them into the
open road of revolutionary struggle, and turned them towards the
The influence of the Bolsheviks in the Soviets grew stronger
Their influence spread rapidly in the rural districts as
The Kornilov revolt made it clear to the broad masses of the
peasantry that if the landlords and generals succeeded in smashing
the Bolsheviks and the Soviets, they would next attack the
peasantry. The mass of the poor peasants therefore began to rally
closer to the Bolsheviks. As to the middle peasants, whose
vacillations had retarded the development of the revolution in the
period from April to August 1917, after the rout of Kornilov they
definitely began to swing towards the Bolshevik Party, joining
forces with the poor peasants. The broad masses of the peasantry
were coming to realize that only the Bolshevik Party could deliver
them from the war, and that only this Party was capable of crushing
the landlords and was prepared to turn over the land to the
peasants. The months of September and October 1917 witnessed a
tremendous increase in the number of seizures of landed estates by
the peasants. Unauthorized ploughing of the fields of landlords
became widespread. The peasants had taken the road of revolution and
neither coaxing nor punitive expeditions could any longer halt them.
The tide of revolution was rising.
There ensued a period of revival of the Soviets, of a change
in their composition, their bolshevization. Factories, mills
and military units held new elections and sent to the Soviets
representatives of the Bolshevik Party in place of Mensheviks and
Socialist-Revolutionaries. On August 3I, the day following the
victory over Kornilov, the Petrograd Soviet endorsed the Bolshevik
policy. The old Menshevik and Socialist-Revolutionary Presidium of
the Petrograd Soviet, headed by Chkheidze, resigned, thus clearing
the way for the Bolsheviks. On September 5, the Moscow Soviet of
Workers' Deputies went over to the Bolsheviks. The
Socialist-Revolutionary and Menshevik Presidium of the Moscow Soviet
also resigned and left the way clear for the Bolsheviks.
This meant that the chief conditions for a successful
uprising were now ripe.
The slogan "All power to the Soviets!" was again on the order
of the day.
But it was no longer the old slogan, the slogan of
transferring the power to Menshevik and Socialist-Revolutionary
Soviets. This time it was a slogan calling for an uprising of the
Soviets against the Provisional Government, the object being to
transfer the whole power in the country to the Soviets now led by
Disintegration set in among the compromising parties.
Under the pressure of the revolutionary peasants, a Left wing
formed within the Socialist-Revolutionary Party, known as the "Left"
Socialist Revolutionaries, who expressed their disapproval of the
policy of compromise with the bourgeoisie.
Among the Mensheviks, too, their appeared a group of "Lefts,"
the so-called "Internationalists," who gravitated towards the
As to the Anarchists, a group whose influence was
insignificant to start with, they now definitely disintegrated into
minute groups, some of which merged with criminal elements, thieves
and provocateurs, the dregs of society; others became expropriators
"by conviction," robbing the peasants and small townfolk, and
appropriating the premises and funds of workers' clubs; while others
still openly went over to the camp of the counter-revolutionaries,
and devoted themselves to feathering their own nests as menials of
the bourgeoisie. They were all opposed to authority of any kind,
particularly and especially to the revolutionary authority of the
workers and peasants, for they knew that a revolutionary government
would not allow them to rob the people and steal public property.
After the rout of Kornilov, the Mensheviks and
Socialist-Revolutionaries made one more attempt to stem the rising
tide of revolution. With this purpose in view, on September 12,
1917, they convened an All-Russian Democratic Conference, consisting
of representatives of the Socialist parties, the compromising
Soviets, trade unions, Zemstvos, commercial and industrial circles
and military units. The conference set up a Provisional Council of
the Republic, known as the Pre-parliament. The compromisers hoped
with the help of the Pre-parliament to halt the revolution and to
divert the country from the path of a Soviet revolution to the path
of bourgeois constitutional development, the path of bourgeois
parliamentarism. But this was a hopeless attempt on the part of
political bankrupts to turn back the wheel of revolution. It was
bound to end in a fiasco, and end in a fiasco it did. The workers
jeered at the parliamentary efforts of the compromisers and called
the Predparlament (Pre-parliament) a "predbannik "
The Central Committee of the Bolshevik Party decided to
boycott the Pre-parliament. True, the Bolshevik group in the
Pre-parliament, consisting of people like Kamenev and Teodorovich,
were loath to leave it, but the Central Committee of the Party
compelled them to do so.
Kamenev and Zinoviev stubbornly insisted on participation in
the Pre-parliament, striving thereby to divert the Party from its
preparations for the uprising. Comrade Stalin, speaking at a meeting
of the Bolshevik group of the All-Russian Democratic Conference,
vigorously opposed participation in the Pre-parliament. He called
the Pre-parliament a "Kornilov abortion."
Lenin and Stalin considered that it would be a grave mistake
to participate in the Pre-parliament even for a short time, for it
might encourage in the masses the false hope that the Pre-parliament
could really do something for the working people.
At the same time, the Bolsheviks made intensive preparations
for the convocation of the Second Congress of Soviets, in which they
expected to have a majority. Under the pressure of the Bolshevik
Soviets, and notwithstanding the subterfuges of the Mensheviks and
Socialist-Revolutionaries on the All-Russian Central Executive
Committee, the Second All-Russian Congress of Soviets was called for
the second half of October 1917.