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.
 

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.

    Having concluded peace and thus gained a respite, the Soviet Government set about the work of Socialist construction. Lenin called the period from November 1917 to February 1918 the stage of "the Red Guard attack on capital." During the first half of 1918 the Soviet Government succeeded in breaking the economic might of the bourgeoisie, in concentrating in its own hands the key positions of the national economy (mills, factories, banks, railways, foreign trade, mercantile fleet, etc.), smashing the bourgeois machinery of state power, and victoriously crushing the first attempts of the counter-revolution to overthrow the Soviet power.

    But this was by no means enough. If there was to be progress, the destruction of the old order had to be followed by the building of a new. Accordingly, in the spring of 1918, a transition was begun "from the expropriation of the expropriators" to a new stage of Socialist construction -- the organizational consolidation of the victories gained, the building of the Soviet national economy. Lenin held that the utmost advantage should be taken of the respite in order to begin to lay the foundation of the Socialist economic system. The Bolsheviks had to learn to organize and manage production in a new way. The Bolshevik Party had convinced Russia, Lenin wrote; the Bolshevik Party had wrested Russia for the people from the hands of the rich, and now the Bolsheviks must learn to govern Russia.

 

    Lenin held that the chief task at the given stage was to keep account of everything the country produced and to exercise control over the distribution of all products. Petty-bourgeois elements predominated in the economic system of the country. The millions of small owners in town and country were a breeding ground for capitalism. These small owners recognized neither labour discipline nor civil discipline; they would not submit to a system of state accounting and control. What was particularly dangerous at this difficult juncture was the petty-bourgeois welter of speculation and profiteering, the attempts of the small owners and traders to profit by the people's want.

    The Party started a vigorous war on slovenliness in work, on the absence of labour discipline in industry. The masses were slow in acquiring new habits of labour. The struggle for labour discipline consequently became the major task of the period.

    Lenin pointed to the necessity of developing Socialist emulation in industry; of introducing the piece rate system; of combating wage equalization; of resorting -- in addition to methods of education and persuasion -- to methods of compulsion with regard to those who wanted to grab as much as possible from the state, with regard to idlers and profiteers. He maintained that the new discipline -- the discipline of labour, the discipline of comradely relations, Soviet discipline -- was something that would be evolved by the labouring millions in the course of their daily, practical work, and that "this task will take up a whole historical epoch." (Lenin, Selected Works, Vol. VII, p. 393.)

    All these problems of Socialist construction, of the new, Socialist relations of production, were dealt with by Lenin in his celebrated work, The Immediate Tasks of the Soviet Government.

    The "Left Communists," acting in conjunction with the Socialist-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks, fought Lenin over these questions too. Bukharin, Ossinsky and others were opposed to the introduction of discipline, one-man management in the enterprises, the employment of bourgeois experts in industry, and the introduction of efficient business methods. They slandered Lenin by claiming that this policy would mean a return to bourgeois conditions. At the same time, the "Left Communists" preached the Trotskyite view that Socialist construction and the victory of socialism in Russia were impossible.

    The "Left" phraseology of the "Left Communists" served to camouflage their defence of the kulaks, idlers and profiteers who were opposed to discipline and hostile to the state regulation of economic life, to accounting and control.

    Having settled on the principles of organization of the new, Soviet industry, the Party proceeded to tackle the problems of the countryside, which at this period was in the throes of a struggle between the poor peasants and the kulaks. The kulaks were gaining strength and seizing the lands confiscated from the landlords. The poor peasants needed assistance. The kulaks fought the proletarian government and refused to sell grain to it at fixed prices. They wanted to starve the Soviet state into renouncing Socialist measures. The Party set the task of smashing the counter-revolutionary kulaks. Detachments of industrial workers were sent into the countryside with the object of organizing the poor peasants and ensuring the success of the struggle against the kulaks, who were holding back their grain surpluses.

    "Comrades, workers, remember that the revolution is in a critical situation," Lenin wrote. "Remember that you alone can save the revolution, nobody else. What we need is tens of thousands of picked, politically advanced workers, loyal to the cause of Socialism, incapable of succumbing to bribery and the temptations of pilfering, and capable of creating an iron force against the kulaks, profiteers, marauders, bribers and disorganizers." (Lenin, Collected Works, Russ. ed., Vol XXIII, p. 25.)

    "The struggle for bread is a struggle for Socialism," Lenin said. And it was under this slogan that the sending of workers' detachments to the rural districts was organized. A number of decrees were issued establishing a food dictatorship and conferring emergency powers on the organs of the People's Commissariat of Food for the purchase of grain at fixed prices.

    A decree was issued on June 11, 1918, providing for the creation of Committees of the Poor Peasants. These committees played an important part in the struggle against the kulaks, in the redistribution of the confiscated land and the distribution of agricultural implements, in the collection of food surpluses from the kulaks, and in the supply of foodstuffs to the working-class centres and the Red Army. Fifty million hectares of kulak land passed into the hands of the poor and middle peasants. A large portion of the kulaks' means of production was confiscated and turned over to the poor peasants.

    The formation of the Committees of the Poor Peasants was a further stage in the development of the Socialist revolution in the countryside. The committees were strongholds of the dictatorship of the proletariat in the villages. It was largely through them that enlistment for the Red Army was carried out among the peasants.

    The proletarian campaign in the rural districts and the organization of the Committees of the Poor Peasants consolidated the Soviet power in the countryside and were of tremendous political importance in winning over the middle peasants to the side of the Soviet Government.

    At the end of 1918, when their task had been completed, the Committees of the Poor Peasants were merged with the rural Soviets and their existence was thus terminated.

    At the Fifth Congress of Soviets which opened on July 4, 1918, the "Left" Socialist-Revolutionaries launched a fierce attack on Lenin in defence of the kulaks. They demanded the discontinuation of the fight against the kulaks and of the dispatch of workers' food detachments into the countryside. When the "Left" Socialist-Revolutionaries saw that the majority of the congress was firmly opposed to their policy, they started a revolt in Moscow and seized Tryokhsvyatitelsky Alley, from which they began to shell the Kremlin. This foolhardy outbreak was put down by the Bolsheviks within a few hours. Attempts at revolt were made by "Left" Socialist-Revolutionaries in other parts of the country, but everywhere these outbreaks were speedily suppressed.

    As the trial of the Anti-Soviet "Block of Rights and Trotskyites" has now established, the revolt of the "Left" Socialist-Revolutionaries was started with the knowledge and consent of Bukharin and Trotsky and was part of a general counter-revolutionary conspiracy of the Bukharinites, Trotskyites and "Left" Socialist-Revolutionaries against the Soviet power.

    At this juncture, too, a "Left" Socialist-Revolutionary by name of Blumkin, afterwards an agent of Trotsky, made his way into the German Embassy and assassinated Mirbach, the German Ambassador in Moscow, with the object of provoking a war with Germany. But the Soviet Government managed to avert war and to frustrate the provocateur designs of the counter-revolutionaries.

    The Fifth Congress of Soviets adopted the First Soviet Constitution -- the Constitution of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic.

 

B R I E F   S U M M A R Y
 

    During the eight months, February to October 1917, the Bolshevik Party accomplished the very difficult task of winning over the majority of the working class and the majority in the Soviets, and enlisting the support of millions of peasants for the Socialist revolution. It wrested these masses from the influence of the petty-bourgeois parties (Socialist Revolutionaries, Mensheviks and Anarchists), by exposing the policy of these parties step by step and showing that it ran counter to the interests of the working people. The Bolshevik Party carried on extensive political

work at the front and in the rear, preparing the masses for the October Socialist Revolution.

    The events of decisive importance in the history of the Party at this period were Lenin's arrival from exile abroad, his April Theses, the April Party Conference and the Sixth Party Congress. The Party decisions were a source of strength to the working class and inspired it with confidence in victory; in them the workers found solutions to the important problems of the revolution. The April Conference directed the efforts of the Party to the struggle for the transition from the bourgeois-democratic revolution to the Socialist revolution. The Sixth Congress headed the Party for an armed uprising against the bourgeoisie and its Provisional Government.

    The compromising Socialist-Revolutionary and Menshevik parties, the Anarchists, and the other non-Communist parties completed the cycle of their development: they all became bourgeois parties even before the October Revolution and fought for the preservation and integrity of the capitalist system. The Bolshevik Party was the only party which led the struggle of the masses for the overthrow of the bourgeoisie and the establishment of the power of the Soviets.

    At the same time, the Bolsheviks defeated the attempts of the capitulators within the Party -- Zinoviev, Kamenev, Rykov, Bukharin, Trotsky and Pyatakov -- to deflect the Party from the path of Socialist revolution.

    Headed by the Bolshevik Party, the working class, in alliance with the poor peasants, and with the support of the soldiers and sailors, overthrew the power of the bourgeoisie, established the power of the Soviets, set up a new type of state -- a Socialist Soviet state -- abolished the landlords' ownership of land, turned over the land to the peasants for their use, nationalized all the land in the country, expropriated the capitalists, achieved the withdrawal of Russia from the war and obtained peace, that is, obtained a much-needed respite, and thus created the conditions for the development of Socialist construction.

    The October Socialist Revolution smashed capitalism, deprived the bourgeoisie of the means of production and converted the mills, factories, land, railways and banks into the property of the whole people, into public property.

    It established the dictatorship of the proletariat and turned over the government of the vast country to the working class, thus making it the ruling class.

    The October Socialist Revolution thereby ushered in a new era in the history of mankind -- the era of proletarian revolutions.