C H A P T E R S E V E N
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
7. STRUGGLE OF THE BOLSHEVIK PARTY TO
CONSOLIDATE THE SOVIET POWER. PEACE OF BREST-LITOVSK. SEVENTH PARTY
In order to consolidate the Soviet power, the old, bourgeois
state machine had to be shattered and destroyed and a new, Soviet
state machine set up in its place. Further, it was necessary to
destroy the survivals of the division of society into estates and
the regime of national oppression, to abolish the privileges of the
church, to suppress the counter-revolutionary press and
counter-revolutionary organizations of all kinds, legal and illegal,
and to dissolve the bourgeois Constituent Assembly. Following on the
nationalization of the land, all large-scale industry had also to be
nationalized. And, lastly, the state of war had to be ended, for the
war was hampering the consolidation of the Soviet power more than
All these measures were carried out in the course of a few
months, from the end of 1917 to the middle of 1918.
The sabotage of the officials of the old Ministries,
engineered by the Socialist-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks, was
smashed and overcome. The Ministries were abolished and replaced by
Soviet administrative machinery and appropriate People's
Commissariats. The Supreme Council of National Economy was set up to
administer the industry of the country. The All-Russian
Extraordinary Commission (Vecheka) was created to combat
counter-revolution and sabotage, and F. Dzerzhinsky was placed at
its head. The formation of a Red Army and Navy was decreed. The
Constituent Assembly, the elections to which had largely been held
prior to the October Revolution, and which refused to recognize the
decrees of the Second Congress of Soviets on peace, land and the
transfer of power to the Soviets, was dissolved.
In order to put an end to the survivals of feudalism, the
estates system, and inequality in all spheres of social life,
decrees were issued abolishing the estates, removing restrictions
based on nationality or religion, separating the church from the
state and the schools from the church, establishing equality for
women and the equality of all the nationalities of Russia.
A special edict of the Soviet Government known as "The
Declaration of Rights of the Peoples of Russia" laid down as a law
the right of the peoples of Russia to unhampered development and
In order to undermine the economic power of the bourgeoisie
and to create a new, Soviet national economy, and, in the first
place, to create a new, Soviet industry, the banks, railways,
foreign trade, the mercantile fleet and all large enterprises in all
branches of industry -- coal, metal, oil, chemicals,
machine-building, textiles, sugar, etc. -- were nationalized.
To render our country financially independent of the foreign
capitalists and free from exploitation by them, the foreign loans
contracted by the Russian tsar and the Provisional Government were
annulled. The people of our country refused to pay debts which had
been incurred for the continuation of the war of conquest and which
had placed our country in bondage to foreign capital.
These and similar measures undermined the very root of the
power of the bourgeoisie, the landlords, the reactionary officials
and the counter-revolutionary parties, and considerably strengthened
the position of the Soviet Government within the country.
But the position of the Soviet Government could not be deemed
fully secure as long as Russia was in a state of war with Germany
and Austria. In order finally to consolidate the Soviet power, the
war had to be ended. The Party therefore launched the fight for
peace from the moment of the victory of the October Revolution.
The Soviet Government called upon "all the belligerent
peoples and their governments to start immediate negotiations for a
just, democratic peace." But the "allies" -- Great Britain and
France -- refused to accept the proposal of the Soviet Government.
In view of this refusal, the Soviet Government, in compliance with
the will of the Soviets, decided to start negotiations with Germany
The negotiations began on December 3 in Brest-Litovsk. On
December 5 an armistice was signed.
The negotiations took place at a time when the country was in
a state of economic disruption, when war-weariness was universal,
when our troops were abandoning the trenches and the front was
collapsing. It became clear in the course of the negotiations that
the German imperialists were out to seize huge portions of the
territory of the former tsarist empire, and to turn Poland, the
Ukraine and the Baltic countries into dependencies of Germany.
To continue the war under such conditions would have meant
staking the very existence of the new-born Soviet Republic. The
working class and the peasantry were confronted with the necessity
of accepting onerous terms of peace, of retreating before the most
dangerous marauder of the time -- German imperialism -- in order to
secure a respite in which to strengthen the Soviet power and to
create a new army, the Red Army, which would be able to defend the
country from enemy attack.
All the counter-revolutionaries, from the Mensheviks and
Socialist-Revolutionaries to the most arrant Whiteguards, conducted
a frenzied campaign against the conclusion of peace. Their policy
was clear: they wanted to wreck the peace negotiations, provoke a
German offensive and thus imperil the still weak Soviet power and
endanger the gains of the workers and peasants.
Their allies in this sinister scheme were Trotsky and his
accomplice Bukharin, the latter, together with Radek and Pyatakov,
heading a group which was hostile to the Party but camouflaged
itself under the name of "Left Communists." Trotsky and the group of
"Left Communists" began a fierce struggle within the Party against
Lenin, demanding the continuation of the war. These people were
clearly playing into the hands of the German imperialists and the
counter-revolutionaries within the country, for they were working to
expose the young Soviet Republic, which had not yet any army, to the
blows of German imperialism.
This was really a policy of provocateurs, skilfully masked by
On February 10, 1918, the peace negotiations in Brest-Litovsk
were broken off. Although Lenin and Stalin, in the name of the
Central Committee of the Party, had insisted that peace be signed,
Trotsky, who was chairman of the Soviet delegation at Brest-Litovsk,
treacherously violated the direct instructions of the Bolshevik
Party. He announced that the Soviet Republic refused to conclude
peace on the terms proposed by Germany. At the same time he informed
the Germans that the Soviet Republic would not fight and would
continue to demobilize the army.
This was monstrous. The German imperialists could have
desired nothing more from this traitor to the interests of the
The German government broke the armistice and assumed the
offensive. The remnants of our old army crumbled and scattered
be-fore the onslaught of the German troops. The Germans advanced
swiftly, seizing enormous territory and threatening Petrograd.
German imperialism invaded the Soviet land with the object of
overthrowing the Soviet power and converting our country into its
colony. The ruins of the old tsarist army could not withstand the
armed hosts of German imperialism, and steadily retreated under
But the armed intervention of the German imperialists was the
signal for a mighty revolutionary upsurge in the country. The Party
and the Soviet Government issued the call -- "The Socialist
fatherland is in danger!" And in response the working class
energetically began to form regiments of the Red Army. The young
detachments of the new army -- the army of the revolutionary people
-- heroically resisted the German marauders who were armed to the
teeth. At Narva and Pskov the German invaders met with a resolute
repulse. Their advance on Petrograd was checked. February 23 -- the
day the forces of German imperialism were repulsed -- is regarded as
the birthday of the Red Army.
On February 18, 1918, the Central Committee of the Party had
approved Lenin's proposal to send a telegram to the German
government offering to conclude an immediate peace. But in order to
secure more advantageous terms, the Germans continued to advance,
and only on February 22 did the German government express its
willingness to sign peace. The terms were now far more onerous than
those originally proposed.
Lenin, Stalin and Sverdlov had to wage a stubborn fight on
the Central Committee against Trotsky, Bukharin and the other
Trotskyites before they secured a decision in favour of the
conclusion of peace. Bukharin and Trotsky, Lenin declared, "actually
helped the German imperialists and hindered the growth
and development of the revolution in Germany." (Lenin, Collected
Works, Russ. ed., Vol. XXII, p. 307.)
On February 23, the Central Committee decided to accept the
terms of the German Command and to sign the peace treaty. The
treachery of Trotsky and Bukharin cost the Soviet Republic dearly.
Latvia, Esthonia, not to mention Poland, passed into German hands;
the Ukraine was severed from the Soviet Republic and converted into
a vassal of the German state. The Soviet Republic undertook to pay
an indemnity to the Germans.
Meanwhile, the "Left Communists" continued their struggle
against Lenin, sinking deeper and deeper into the slough of
The Moscow Regional Bureau of the Party, of which the "Left
Communists" (Bukharin, Ossinsky, Yakovleva, Stukov and Mantsev) had
temporarily seized control, passed a resolution of no-confidence in
the Central Committee, a resolution designed to split the Party. The
Bureau declared that it considered "a split in the Party in the very
near future scarcely avoidable." The "Left Communists" even went so
far in their resolution as to adopt an anti-Soviet stand. "In the
interests of the international revolution," they declared, "we
consider it expedient to consent to the possible loss of the Soviet
power, which has now become purely formal."
Lenin branded this decision as "strange and monstrous."
At that time the real cause of this anti-Party behaviour of
Trotsky and the "Left Communists" was not yet clear to the Party.
But the recent trial of the Anti-Soviet "Bloc of Rights and
Trotskyites" (beginning of 1938) has now revealed that Bukharin and
the group of "Left Communists" headed by him, together with Trotsky
and the "Left" Socialist-Revolutionaries, were at that time secretly
conspiring against the Soviet Government. Now it is known that
Bukharin, Trotsky and their fellow-conspirators had determined to
wreck the Peace of Brest-Litovsk, arrest V. I. Lenin, J. V. Stalin
and Y. M. Sverdlov, assassinate them, and form a new government
consisting of Bukharinites, Trotskyites and "Left"
While hatching this clandestine counter-revolutionary plot,
the group of "Left Communists," with the support of Trotsky, openly
attacked the Bolshevik Party, trying to split it and to disintegrate
its ranks. But at this grave juncture the Party rallied around
Lenin, Stalin and Sverdlov and supported the Central Committee on
the question of peace as on all other questions.
The "Left Communist" group was isolated and defeated.
In order that the Party might pronounce its final decision on
the question of peace the Seventh Party Congress was summoned.
The congress opened on March 6, 1918. This was the first
congress held after our Party had taken power. It was attended by 46
delegates with vote and 58 delegates with voice but no vote,
representing 145,000 Party members. Actually, the membership of the
Party at that time was not less than 270,000. The discrepancy was
due to the fact that, owing to the urgency with which the congress
met, a large number of the organizations were unable to send
delegates in time; and the organizations in the territories then
occupied by the Germans were unable to send delegates at all.
Reporting at this congress on the Brest-Litovsk Peace, Lenin
said that ". . . the severe crisis which our Party is now
experiencing, owing to the formation of a Left opposition within it,
is one of the gravest crises the Russian revolution has
experienced." (Lenin, Selected Works, Vol. VII, pp. 293-94.)
The resolution submitted by Lenin on the subject of the
Brest-Litovsk Peace was adopted by 30 votes against 12, with 4
On the day following the adoption of this resolution, Lenin
wrote an article entitled "A Distressful Peace," in which he said:
"Intolerably severe are the terms of peace. Nevertheless,
history will claim its own. . . . Let us set to work to organize,
organize and organize. Despite all trials, the future is ours."
(Lenin, Collected Works, Russ. ed., Vol. XXII, p. 288.)
In its resolution, the congress declared that further
military attacks by imperialist states on the Soviet Republic were
inevitable, and that therefore the congress considered it the
fundamental task of the Party to adopt the most energetic and
resolute measures to strengthen the self-discipline and discipline
of the workers and peasants, to prepare the masses for
self-sacrificing defence of the Socialist country, to organize the
Red Army, and to introduce universal military training.
Endorsing Lenin's policy with regard to the Peace of
Brest-Litovsk, the congress condemned the position of Trotsky and
Bukharin and stigmatized the attempt of the defeated "Left
Communists" to continue their splitting activities at the congress
The Peace of Brest-Litovsk gave the Party a respite in which
to consolidate the Soviet power and to organize the economic life of
The peace made it possible to take advantage of the conflicts
within the imperialist camp (the war of Austria and Germany with the
Entente, which was still in progress) to disintegrate the forces of
the enemy, to organize a Soviet economic system and to create a Red
The peace made it possible for the proletariat to retain the
support of the peasantry and to accumulate strength for the defeat
of the Whiteguard generals in the Civil War.
In the period of the October Revolution Lenin taught the
Bolshevik Party how to advance fearlessly and resolutely when
conditions favoured an advance. In the period of the Brest-Litovsk
Peace Lenin taught the Party how to retreat in good order when the
forces of the enemy are obviously superior to our own, in order to
prepare with the utmost energy for a new offensive.
History has fully proved the correctness of Lenin's line.
It was decided at the Seventh Congress to change the name of
the Party and to alter the Party Program. The name of the Party was
changed to the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks) -- R.C.P.(B.).
Lenin proposed to call our Party a Communist Party because this name
precisely corresponded to the aim of the Party, namely, the
achievement of Communism.
A special commission, which included Lenin and Stalin, was
elected to draw up a new Party program, Lenin's draft program having
been accepted as a basis.
Thus the Seventh Congress accomplished a task of profound
historical importance: it defeated the enemy hidden within the
Party's ranks -- the "Left Communists" and Trotskyites; it succeeded
in withdrawing the country from the imperialist war; it secured
peace and a respite; it enabled the Party to gain time for the
organization of the Red Army; and it set the Party the task of
introducing Socialist order in the national economy.