12/01/2019 by socialistfight
By Leon Trotsky
WE PUBLISH herewith the minutes of the historic session of the Petrograd Committee of the Bolsheviks held November 1 (14) , 1917. The conquest of power had already been achieved, at any rate, in the most important centers in the country. Within the party, however, the struggle over the question of power had far from terminated. It had merely passed into a new phase. Prior to October 25, the representatives of the Right wing (Zinoviev, Kamenev, Rykov, Kalinin, Lunacharsky and others) argued that the uprising was pre mature and could lead only to defeat. After the victorious insurrection, they proceeded to argue that the Bolshevik party would be unable to maintain itself in power unless the Bolsheviks entered into a coalition with the other Socialist parties, i.e., the Social Revolutionists and the Mensheviks. During this new phase, the struggle of the Rights became exceptionally acute, and terminated with the resignation of the representatives of the Right wing from the Council of People’s Commissars and from the Central Committee of the party. It should be borne in mind that this crisis occurred only a few days after the conquest of power.
How did the present Centrists and, above all, Stalin, conduct themselves on this question? In the nature of things, Stalin was a Centrist even at that time. He occupied a Centrist position whenever he had to take an independent stand or to express his personal opinion. But this Centrist stood in fear of Lenin. It is for this reason that there is virtually no political trace of Stalin during the most critical moments of the ideological struggle – from April 4, 1917, up to the time Lenin fell ill.
As these minutes prove, the revolutionary line of the party was defended jointly by Lenin and Trotsky. That is precisely why the minutes we publish were not included in the collection of the minutes of the Petrograd Committee, issued under the title: The First Legal Petrograd Committee of the Bolsheviks in 1917 (State Publishers, 1927). We must pause to correct ourselves. The minutes of the November 1 session were originally included in the book. They were set in type and the proofs were carefully read. As evidence of this, we present a facsimile reproduction of a section of these proof-sheets. But the minutes of this historical session were in flagrant and virtually intolerable contradiction with the falsification of the history of October, executed under the unenlightened but zealous supervision of Yaroslavsky. What was there left to do? Leningrad phoned Moscow; the Central Istpart phoned the Secretariat of the Central Committee, and the latter issued its instructions: That the minutes be expunged from the book, in such a manner as would leave no traces behind. The table of contents was hastily reset and the pages renumbered. Nevertheless, a tell-tale trace remains in the body of the book itself. The session of October 29 concludes by setting Wednesday (November 1) as the date for the next session. Meanwhile, according to the book the “next” session takes place on Thursday, November 2. But a much more important trace is preserved outside the pages of the book itself, in the form of the above-mentioned proof sheets, corrected and annotated in her own handwriting, by P.F. Kudelli, the editor of the volume.
As the official reason for hiding the most important minutes of the Petrograd Committee for the year 1917, Kudelli jotted down the following note on the proofs: “The speech of V.I. Lenin was recorded by the secretary of that session of the Petersburg Committee with considerable omissions and numerous abbreviations of various words and sentences. In places, the record of Lenin’s speech cannot be deciphered. To avoid presenting the speech in garbled form, it will, therefore, not be printed.”
It is quite true that the record of the minutes is imperfect, containing many omissions and obscure passages. But this is equally true of all the minutes of the Petrograd Committee for the year 1917. The record of the November 1 session is, if anything, superior to several others. It is generally known that Lenin’s speeches were always difficult to record even in shorthand, because of the peculiarities of his delivery. He spoke very rapidly, using extremely complex sentences, making sudden and abrupt interpolations, etc. Nevertheless, the full import of Lenin’s speech of November 1 (14) is perfectly clear. Lunacharsky’s speech and the two speeches of Trotsky are quite adequately recorded. The reason for the excision of these minutes is wholly different. Nor is it difficult to find. The reason is denoted on the margins of the proof sheets by a heavy line accompanied with an enormous question mark. These notations are placed next to the following words in the text:
“As for conciliation [with the Mensheviks and the Social Revolutionists] I cannot even speak about that seriously. Trotsky long ago said that unification is impossible. Trotsky understood this and from that time on there has been no better Bolshevik.”
It was this passage that completely overwhelmed the Secretariat of the Central Committee and resulted in a reconstruction of the entire book which is unpleasant enough in itself – for even in its present ravaged form it constitutes a deadly document against the falsifiers. Enough to mention that the viewpoint of the Central Committee as presented to the locals was referred to as “the viewpoint of Lenin and Trotsky” (cf., p.845). Not even a man as assiduous as Yaroslavsky can attend to every detail.
I might remark in passing that it would be highly instructive to reconstruct the independent ideological creative work of this incompetent compiler and spiteful falsifier during the year 1917. We shall recall only a single fact that is little known or conveniently forgotten. After the February Revolution, Yaroslavsky issued in Yakutsk jointly with the Mensheviks a review, Sotsial-Demokrat, a model of infinite political sordidness, straddling between Menshevism and the most provincial form of liberalism. Yaroslavsky at that time was at the head of the Yakutsk Chamber of Arbitration, whose function it was to safeguard the splendors of the democratic revolution against clashes between workers and capitalists. This spirit permeated all the articles in the above review, of which Yaroslavsky was the editor. Among his collaborators who, too, did not violate the spirit of the publication were Ordjonikidze and Petrovsky, the present Chairman of the All-Ukrainian Central Executive Committee. In a leading article which might seem incredible had it not appeared in print, Petrovsky literally shed tears to express his emotions over the fact that a government official had donated 50 roubles to charity. Petrovsky expressed his firm conviction that the revolution would attain its full fruition the moment when the ruling classes began to follow the example of the noble titular or, perhaps, aulic councilor. These staunch “Marxists” and inflexible “revolutionists” are now editing Lenin and are seeking to edit all history. On a proof sheet of the November 1 session they write with assurance: “Junk that.” (See the facsimile reproduction.) Exactly! “Junk” the history of the October Revolution! “Junk” Lenin! The history of Russia for a third of a century must be reset – with Yaroslavsky as the author, proofreader and make-up man of the new Stalinist history.
But, sad to say, Yaroslavsky “failed” on this occasion too. He failed to “junk” the minutes. After all, it takes living men to break up the galleys.
The proof sheets with all the notations fell instead immediately into the hands of the Opposition. It is not the only document of this kind!
As to the editing of the text printed by us here, we were guided solely by the same methods as were used by the editors of the above- mentioned collection of the minutes of the Petrograd Committee. Wherever the meaning of the sentences leaves no room for doubt, we have corrected the gram mar or the syntax to assist the reader. Half-formed or unintelligible phrases have been deleted. The general trend of the entire session and of the tendencies and groupings represented there can be gleaned quite incontestably from the record which, despite all its defects, bears internal evidence of its authenticity. In publishing the present document, we rescue for the annals of history a living and rather important page of the October Revolution.
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SESSION OF THE PETERSBURG COMMITTEE OF THE SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC LABOR PARTY OF RUSSIA (BOLSHEVIK), NOVEMBER 1 (14), 1917
Under discussion – the question of expelling A.V. Lunacharsky [Lunacharsky came out in favor of a coalition with the Mensheviks and the Social Revolutionists. He resigned from the Government, giving as his reason the (alleged) destruction of the Cathedral of St. Basil the Blessed in Moscow. The proposal to expel Lunacharsky was introduced on the initiative of Lenin.] from the party.
J.G. Fenigstein-Daletsky speaks against.
The motion is put to a vote.
Motion to expel defeated.
The current situation – reporter, J.G. Fenigstein.
J.G. FENIGSTEIN: I have been chosen reporter by chance. Perhaps someone else will make the report?
[The proposal (for another reporter) rejected.]
Our goal – the impending coordination of work [with the Mensheviks and S.R.’s]. What is involved here is a coalition with other socialist parties. Such considerations as “blood being spilled” or the workers being weary – should not predominate. For a political party that wants to make history – these facts cannot constitute obstacles. The task is:
What to do in order to satisfy the just demands of workers and peasants? What was [the nature of] the second revolution? It was inevitable. Class contradictions were growing. We have pointed this out. The revolution was not [only] political. It brought with it a series of changes in economic and social spheres. A great process was being consummated. Illusions were being dissipated. The mood of the Soviets and of the popular masses was changing; they were losing the [conciliationist] illusions. All were coming to the conclusion that the Soviet state was necessary. Under this slogan we have developed and grown. We have elaborated a number of slogans relating to the economic struggle, etc. Our party has grown. We have had the support of the masses.
LENIN: I cannot make a report but I shall give some in formation upon a question which is of great interest to all. That is, the question of the crisis in the party, which broke out [openly] at a time when the party was already in power.
The polemic waged by Rabochi Put , and my speeches against Kamenev and Zinoviev are no news to all those who have been following the life of the party. Formerly, Delo Naroda  used to say that the Bolsheviks would be afraid to take power. This compelled me to take up my pen in order to show the bankruptcy and the infinite stupidity of the Social Revolutionists. I wrote Will the Bolsheviks Retain Power?  The question of the armed insurrection was raised at the October 1 session of the Central Committee. I had fears of opportunism from the side of the Internationalist Fusionists , but these were dissipated. However, certain [old] members of the Central Committee came out in opposition. This grieved me deeply. Thus, the question of power has been posed for a long time. Couldn’t we now renounce it because of the disagreement on the part of Zinoviev and Kamenev? The insurrection was [objectively] necessary. Comrades Zinoviev and Kamenev began to agitate against the insurrection, and we began to look upon them as strike breakers. I even sent a letter to the Central Committee with a proposal to expel them from the party.
I expressed myself sharply in the press when Kamenev made his speech in the All-Russian Central Executive Committee of the Soviets. [On August 4 (17), 1917, Kamenev made a speech at a session of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee of the Soviets on the subject of his arrest. On August 6 (19), he also spoke on the subject of the Stockholm International Socialist Conference, which the Conciliationists proposed to convene in the summer of 1917 for the purpose of expediting the conclusion of peace by the Socialist parties exerting pressure upon their respective Governments] I should not like [now, after the victory. On August 6 (19), Kamenev spoke in his own name in favor of participating in the Conference despite the decision of the Central Committee of the party not to participate in the Stockholm Conference. – L.T.] to assume a severe attitude toward them. I take a favorable attitude toward Kamenev’s negotiations in the Central Executive Committee with a view to conciliation because we are not opposed to it in principle. [Neither Lenin nor I objected at the outset to the negotiations for a coalition with the Mensheviks and the Social Revolutionists on the condition that the Bolsheviks were assured of a stable majority, and that these parties were to recognize the Soviet state, the land decrees, the peace decree, and so on. We were convinced that nothing would come of the negotiations. But an objective lesson was needed. – L. T.]
However, when the Social Revolutionists declined to participate in the Government, it was clear to me that they did so after Kerensky rose up in [armed] opposition. Some delay occurred in Moscow (i.e., the seizure of power in Moscow). Our [Rights] became pessimistic. Moscow, if you please, is incapable of taking power, and so on. And so they raised the question of conciliation.
The insurrection poses new tasks. Other forces, other qualities are required. In Moscow, for instance, there were many cases of cruelty on the part of the Junkers, shootings of captive soldiers, etc. The Junkers, sons of the bourgeoisie, understood that with the advent of the people’s rule, the rule of the bourgeoisie came to an end, for even at the Conference we outlined a number of such measures as the seizure of the banks, and so on. The Bolsheviks, on the contrary, were often much too soft. Now if the bourgeoisie had triumphed, it would have acted as it did in 1848 and 1871. Who was there that believed that we would not meet with sabotage on the part of the bourgeoisie? This was clear even to an infant. We, too, must apply force. We must arrest bank directors and others. Even brief arrests of these people have already yielded very good results.
This hardly surprises me, for I know how little capable they are of doing any fighting themselves. The most important thing in their eyes is to safeguard their cozy posts. In Paris, they [the revolutionists] used the guillotine while we will only take away the food cards of those who fail to obtain them from the trade unions. Thereby we fulfill our duty. And now, at such a moment, when we are in power, we are faced with a split. Zinoviev and Kamenev say that we will not seize power [in the entire country]. I am in no mood to listen to this calmly. I view this as treason. What do they want? Do they want to plunge us into [spontaneous] knife- play? Only the proletariat is able to lead the country.
As for conciliation, I cannot even speak about that seriously. Trotsky long ago said that unification is impossible. Trotsky understood this, and from that time on there has been no better Bolshevik.
Zinoviev says that we are not the Soviet power. We are, if you please, only the Bolsheviks, left alone since the departure of the Social Revolutionists and the Mensheviks, and so forth and so on. But we are not responsible for that. We have been elected by the Congress of the Soviets. This organization is something new. Whoever wants to struggle enters into it. It does not comprise the people, it comprises the vanguard whom the masses follow. We go with the masses-the active and not the weary masses. To refrain now from extending the insurrection [is to capitulate] to the weary masses, but we are with the vanguard. The Soviets take shape [in struggle]. The Soviets are the vanguard of the proletarian masses. And now we are being invited to wed the City Duma – how absurd!
We are told that we want to “introduce” socialism – how absurd! We do not intend to institute peasant socialism. We are told that we must “halt.” But that is impossible. Some even say that we are not the Soviet power. Then who are we? We are certainly not those who intend to unite with the Duma. We shall have next the proposal to coalesce with the Rumcherod  and the Vikzhel.  This is horse-trading. Perhaps we should also unite with General Kaledin? First conciliate with the Conciliators and then they will put a spoke in the wheels. That would he miserable horse-trading and not a Soviet power. That is precisely how we must pose the question at the Conference. 99% of the workers follow us.
If you want a split, go ahead. If you get the majority, take power in the Central Executive Committee and carry on. But we will go to the sailors.
We are in power. Who is capable of deserting now to the Novaya Zhizn?  [Only] spineless, unprincipled people who are today with us and tomorrow with the Mensheviks. They say that we will be unable to maintain power alone, and so on. But we are not alone. The whole of Europe is before us. We must make the beginning. Only a socialist revolution is possible now. All these vacillations and doubts [conciliations] are a piece of nonsense. When I spoke [at a mass meeting] and said let us fight [the saboteurs] with food cards, the faces of the soldiers lit up. [The Rights] declare that the soldiers are incapable of fighting. But we get reports from speakers [who address the masses] that they have never be fore seen such enthusiasm. Only we can create a plan of revolutionary work. Only we are capable of waging a struggle. As for the Mensheviks, they will not follow us. At the coming Conference we must put the question of the future course of the socialist revolution. We are confronted with Kaledin, we have not yet conquered [finally]. When we are told [by the Vikzhel and the saboteurs and others] that “there is no [central] power,” then we must put them under arrest, and we’ll do it. Then they can talk all they please about the horrors of the dictatorship of the proletariat. Now, if we were to place the members of the Vikzhel under arrest – I could understand that. Let them howl about the arrests. The delegates from Tver [The peasant delegate from Tver demanded at the Congress of the Soviets on October 25 (November 7) the arrest of Avksentiev and other conciliationist leaders of the then Peasant Alliance. – L.T.] said at the Congress of the Soviets, “Arrest them all” – here is something I can understand. Here you have a man who understands the dictatorship of the proletariat. Our present slogan is: No compromise, i.e., for a homogeneous Bolshevik Government.
LUNACHARSKY: I should like to share with you my impressions of the masses who have done the fighting. I was very much astonished to hear Vladimir Ilyich say in his speech that Kamenev supposedly fails to recognize the revolution as a socialist revolution. But who holds power now? The Bolsheviks. That fact alone speaks for itself. I am unaware that Kamenev holds a Menshevik point of view. Our influence is growing. The peasants are coming over to our side.
The city worker, too, is beginning to understand that the question of land is not a matter of indifference to him. We have adopted the SR resolution as the basis for the land decree. We have introduced it into the program of our activities, we can likewise introduce it in appointing the government. [Lunacharsky develops the following idea in his argument: Since the Bolsheviks have included in their land decree a peasant measure permeated with the SR spirit, therefore, the Bolsheviks must also share the state power with the Social Revolutionists. – L.T.] We [the Right Wing Oppositionist] that a homogeneous socialist government is necessary. We say: Not a single place to the Constitutional-Democrats [the Cadets]. 
We have, furthermore, pointed out the necessity of workers’ control, the necessity of regulating production by the factory and shop committees. The other parties are agreed on this. We will compel everybody to accept this point. This plus the Soviet power exhausts our program. Does this imply that we reject City Dumas? Why, it is our own people who are seated in them. If these Dumas attempt to seize [power], we will crush them. But does it mean that we aim to give the Dumas a little slice of power? No. [We mean to give them] simply representation [in the Soviet Government]. Is it really possible that we would continue the civil war over this issue? No, we can’t do it. Having re-elections for the Dumas – that is another matter. Here we are already eight days in power, but we still do not know whether the peace decree has been made known to the people … Who is responsible for it? The technical personnel which is bourgeois or petty bourgeois. They sabotage us. If the City Duma were to demand a change in the main political line – that would be another matter. But if they demand only representation in the government, then there is no need even to discuss it. We cannot manage with our own forces. Famine will break out. If we do not have with us those who are sabotaging, i.e., the technical apparatus, then even our agitation will not he read abroad, and we will not be able to manage anything. Of course, we can resort to terror – but why? Where is the need for it?
We will strive for conciliation. But should they try to hold our hands, we are sufficiently resolute people to give them the proper answer … At the present moment we must above all take possession of the entire apparatus. This implies acting along the line of least resistance, and not taking each post by a bayonet charge. Otherwise we won’t achieve anything. That is the first stage. We must conquer the first rung on the ladder in order to climb the next one. It is impermissible to make leaps, we must proceed gradually by stages. [We have here, from the lips of Lunacharsky, the formula which provides the leitmotif for the entire activity of Stalin. In defending for Germany (in l923) the self-same policy of conciliationism and temporization that Lunacharsky defended in 1917, Stalin kept invariably repeating: “It is impermissible to make leaps, we must proceed gradually step by step.” – L.T.] We must consolidate our position as quickly as possible. We must put the entire state apparatus in order, and then proceed. Whoever pulls a string too tightly will end by breaking it. It will burst. The party representative in the Navy Committee said just now that the majority of the sailors are in such a mood that they are ready to go to Smolny  and announce that they refuse to wage a civil war over the question whether the Bolsheviks should have more power or less. This emergency situation cannot long continue. To prolong it is to bleed to death, without the support of the technical apparatus.
I was amazed to hear Vladimir Ilyich’s remark about negotiating with General Kaledin, [Lenin, as is evident from the context, said that if we are to enter into negotiations in order to liquidate the evil war, then we ought to negotiate with Kaledin and not with the Mensheviks. The official editors of the Istpart, as their explanatory remarks show, completely missed the meaning of this purely Leninist argument. – L.T.] because, you know, the latter represents a real force, whereas the Mensheviks represent a mythical one. But this mythical force is capable of moving troops from the front and of provoking battle near Vinnitsa, and of preventing the Latvian riflemen from arriving here. We are automatically prevented from achieving anything on the position we have assumed. We have become very fond of war, as if we were not a workers’party hut a party of the soldiery, a party of war. It is necessary to create, but we are doing nothing. We continue to polemicize in the party, and we’ll keep on polemicizing, until only one man remains – a dictator. [These words were greeted by applause (there is further reference to this in Trotsky’s speech). The fact is that during the negotiations for a coalition government composed of all Soviet parties, the Conciliationists put forward the demand to “conclude” the civil war, and, in order to attain this, to eliminate Lenin and Trotsky from the government. Sometimes, Lenin alone was mentioned. The Rights were willing to accept this. – L.T.]
We cannot possibly handle the situation by means of arrests. It is impossible to attack the technical apparatus, it is too big. The people are reasoning as follows: Our program must be fulfilled, provided the arms remain in the hands of the workers. We can get a breathing spell on this basis. But we cannot set to work now, because there is no apparatus. Such a condition cannot long continue. We must show that we are capable of constructive work, instead of saying only: “Keep on fighting! Keep on fighting!” To clear our path with bayonets – that will get us nowhere. It is much easier to compel people who are working badly to do their work better, than to coerce a man to work by force. In the face of all these difficulties I consider conciliation desirable. None of your arguments relating to the Mensheviks will convince the masses. I am firmly convinced that it is impermissible to work as we are now working. It is impermissible from the standpoint of principle, and, moreover, it is impermissible to risk innumerable lives. Do not sow dissension. There is enough dissension as it is, and the masses are becoming very restive.
TROTSKY: We are told that we are incapable of building up. In that case we should simply surrender power to those who were correct in struggling against us. But we have already performed a great labor. We are told that we cannot sit on bayonets. But neither can we manage without bayonets. We need bayonets there in order to be able to sit here. One should imagine that the experience we have already gone through has taught us something. There has been a battle in Moscow. Yes, there was a serious battle with the Junkers  there. But these Junkers owe allegiance neither to the Mensheviks nor the Vikzhel. Conciliation with the Vikzhel will not do away with the conflict with the Junker detachments of the bourgeoisie. No. A cruel class struggle will continue to be waged against us in the future as well. When all these middle-class lice, who are now incapable of taking either side, discover that our Government is a strong one, they will come to our side, together with the Vikzhel. Owing to the fact that we crushed the Cossacks of [General] Krasnov beneath Petersburg, we were showered on the very next day with telegrams of congratulation. The petty bourgeois masses are seeking that force to which they must submit themselves. Whoever fails to understand this, cannot have the slightest comprehension of anything in the universe and, least of all, in the state apparatus. Back in 1871, Karl Marx said that a new class cannot simply make use of the old apparatus.  This apparatus engenders its own interests and habits which we must run up against. It must be smashed and replaced; only then will we be able to work.
If that were not so, if the old Czarist apparatus suited our new purposes, then the entire revolution would not be worth an empty eggshell. We must create such an apparatus as would actually place the common interests of the popular masses above the proper interests of the apparatus itself.
There are many in our midst who have cultivated a purely bookish attitude towards the question of the classes and of the class struggle. The moment they got a whiff of the revolutionary reality, they began to talk a different language (i.e.; of conciliation and not struggle).
We are now living through the most profound social crisis. At present the proletariat is effecting the demolition and the replacement of the state apparatus. The resistance on their part reflects the processes of our growth. No words can moderate their hatred of us. We are told that their program is presumably similar to ours. Give them a few seats and that will settle everything. But why do they give aid to Kaledin, if they have the same program as we? No. The bourgeoisie is aligned against us by virtue of all its class interests. And what will we achieve as against that by taking to the road of conciliation with the Vikzhel? … We are confronted with armed violence which can be overcome only by means of violence on our own part. Lunacharsky says that blood is flowing. What to do? Evidently we should never have begun.
Then why don’t you openly admit that the biggest mistake was committed not so much in October but towards the end of February when we entered the arena of future civil war.
We are told that conciliation with the Vikzhel will help us against Kaledin. But why, then, do they fail to support us now if they are closer to us? Because they understand that however bad the counter-revolution may be for them, it will, nevertheless, give the tops of the Vikzhel more than the dictatorship of the proletariat. For the moment they are pre serving a neutrality which is not friendly to us. They are letting through the shock troops and Krasnov’s Cossacks. The Vikzhel forbade me personally to communicate by direct wire with Moscow in order to report that we are progressing in our struggle against Krasnov. Because, if you please, this “might raise the morale there,” and the members of the Vikzhel, mind you, are neutral.
To conciliate with them is to continue the policies of Gotz, Dan and the rest. We are told we have no calico and no petroleum, therefore we must have conciliation. But I ask for the thousand and first time: Just how will conciliation with Gotz and Dan give us petroleum?
Why are all the Chernovs against us? They protest because they are bourgeois through and through in their psychology. They are incapable of applying any serious measures against the bourgeoisie. They are against us precisely because we are putting into effect drastic measures against the bourgeoisie. Nobody can tell now what harsh measures we may yet be compelled to apply. The sum total of what the Chernovs can contribute to our work is: vacillation. But vacillation in the struggle against our enemies will destroy our authority among the masses.
What does conciliation with Chernov mean? It does not mean that we have a heart-to-heart talk with him and the matter ends there. No. It means an alignment with Chernov. This would be treason. For that we should all deserve to be shot immediately.
It grieved me to hear in this assembly the applause that greeted [Lunacharsky’s] reference to the dictatorship of a single individual. Why and on what grounds do they seek to behead the party that has seized power in battle, in blood shed, by demanding the removal of Lenin? Miliukov, for example, was driven from the Government but when? When the proletariat placed its knee on the chest of the Cadets. But now? Who is holding his knee on our chest? Nobody. We have held power for eight days. We are basing our tactics upon the revolutionary vanguard of the masses. We are told by the champions of conciliationism that unless we conciliate the Baltic Fleet will not give us even a rowboat. Nothing of the sort happened. They tried to scare us by insisting that the workers would balk. Meanwhile, the Red Guards are facing death bravely. No. There is no returning to half-way policies, to conciliationism. We will put the dictatorship of the proletariat into effect. We will compel these people to work. How did it happen that society existed and the masses worked under the former terror of the minority? With us it is not the terror of a minority but the organization of the class violence against the bourgeoisie.
What are they scaring us with today? With the self- same thing that the Mensheviks and the Social Revolutionists sought to scare us yesterday. As soon as we undertake the socialist revolution [said they], we shall see that the Junkers take to shooting, that blood begins to flow, the bourgeoisie forges conspiracies, the functionary resorts to sabotage, the army committees resist … Of course! But these are only the tops. Had we the bourgeoisie with us, there would be no civil war – nobody could gainsay that.
The army committees are hated by the masses of the soldiery but in many cases the masses are unable to under take anything against them as yet. In a whole number of army divisions, however, Military Revolutionary Committees have already been elected and they have placed under arrest the officers, the old committees and the entire commanding staff. This has already been done in about one-fourth of the Army. To fraternize with the old army committees is to rouse the workers against us.
The prejudices of Lunacharsky are a heritage of the petty bourgeois psychology. Naturally, that is also, in part, inherent in the masses, being the heritage of their slavery of yesterday. But should the counter-revolution threaten, even the backward masses will take up arms. The nethermost rank and file are placed in such a position as will make them resort to arms. It is otherwise with the Vikzhel, the army committees, the Social Revolutionists, the Mensheviks and all other tops.
Lunacharsky says: We must halt – we must wait …
No. We must drive ahead. When you come out against us at the moment of sharp struggle, you weaken us. Conciliation with Chernov would provide nothing. What we need is organization and this we must attain. Chernov is in fear lest the people press too hard against the bourgeoisie, and take away from the bourgeoisie the money it has plundered. Chernov is an auxiliary lever in the hands of the bourgeoisie. He will merely weaken us by his petty bourgeois vacillations, nothing more.
We must tell the workers simply and intelligibly that we do not aim to build a coalition with the Mensheviks and the others but that the crux of the matter lies in a program of action. We already have a coalition. Our coalition is with the peasants – the soldiers who are now fighting for the Bolshevik power. The All-Russian Congress of Soviets transmitted power to a certain party. You seem to forget this.
Is it permissible to share power with those elements who have heretofore even sabotaged the Soviets and who are today fighting from the outside against the proletarian state? All those who are ready to do so forget to ask themselves whether those with whom they are willing to share power are capable of carrying out our program. They do not even mention that. Are the Conciliationists capable of carrying out the policy of economic terror? No. If after taking power we are incapable of realizing our own program, then we ought to go to the soldiers and workers and declare ourselves bankrupt. But nothing whatever can come of merely leaving a few Bolsheviks in a coalition government. We have taken power; we must also bear the responsibilities.
[Motion to limit speaker to 15 mintutes.]
NOGIN: The question as to the nature of our revolution has been settled. There is no need to talk about it now that our party has gained power. But can we propose to spill blood together but not rule jointly? Can we deny power to the soldiers? The civil war will last for many years. In our relations with the peasantry, we can’t make much headway with bayonets. With respect to capitalist industry – we face one problem. With respect to the peasantry we must have a different tactic.
The word “conciliation” grates altogether too much upon the ears of our comrades. The crux of the matter is not in a conciliation but in the question how to manage if we push aside all the other parties? The Social Revolutionists left the Soviets after the revolution; the Mensheviks did likewise. But this means that the Soviets will fall apart. Such a state of affairs in the face of complete chaos in the country will end with the shipwreck of our party in a very brief interval. We should not bombard swallows with artillery. The famine conditions will provide fertile soil for Kaledin who is now advancing against us. By a single telegram to the railway employees informing them of our intention to deprive them of their food cards we would lay the basis for a mighty wave of protest.
GLEBOV: The situation is rendered serious not because the shock troops are advancing. Power is in our hands and we shall be able to deal with them. But we have the beginning of sabotage within our own party and matters have almost reached the point of an official split. An end must be put to this. Sabotage is effective only to the extent that we pursue a line of conciliation with it. So long as I was conciliatory, the functionaries mocked at me. But as soon as I took decisive measures, I was able to adjust a great many things. With regard to the Department of Posts and Telegraphs, the important thing is that it has passed a resolution in our favor …
They must reckon with us. In Ivanovo-Voznesensk the proletariat has adopted a decisive resolution. They arrested and jailed the saboteurs and when the latter came out they were like lambs. To the comrades who have begun to waver, we must say: “We must part company. Stop interfering with us. Otherwise, if we vacillate, we shall lose everything.”
We are told that the government will be responsible to the Parliament. What sort of Parliament will it be? Will it by any chance resemble the Pre-Parliament? No. We are for the Soviets. There is no other way. The crux of the matter is not in the seats that we must assign to other parties but in that they will not carry out our policy. Nothing else re mains, except to say: “We must part company.”
TROSTSY: The question has been adequately clarified by Trotsky and Lenin. During the July days, from July 8 to July 5, when it seemed as though the counter-revolution had defeated us, we were in reality the victors. The days of the insurrection have proved that we have a coalition with the masses. The peasants and the workers stand shoulder to shoulder.
But the hammer of revolution, while consolidating the masses, has chipped away the Mensheviks, the Defensists, and the Social Revolutionists. We have seen how the Conciliationists worked against consolidation. Now, after we have conquered, an attempt is being made to lead us on the road of conciliationism. Conciliation with these people is a masked retreat from power. Hitherto the parties of conciliation with the bourgeoisie have stood at the helm of power but now we stand at the helm without conciliation. I regard as superfluous comrade Lunacharsky’s remarks about there be – no harm in giving the City Dumas fifty seats [in the All-Russian Central Executive Committee]. What does giving 50 seats imply? Surely we are not taking them in so as to furnish the premises. We stand for the Soviet power. I, too, should like to ask how petroleum will come pouring to us through faucets by the name of Kamkov? Just how will the doors of granaries open to us through the medium of the Social Revolutionists? In all this, there is an utter lack of principle. Why not give them 60 seats? Why not 25 or 35? The revolutionary masses will not follow this call.
BOKI: Several mentions have been made here of a Conference. This is too high-sounding a name for it. It will be hard to call a full session tomorrow. Let us call together here, tomorrow at 7 o’clock in the evening, a session of the Committee plus local representatives in the Petersburg Committee.
TROTSKY: We have had rather profound differences in our party prior to the insurrection, within the Central Committee as well as in the broad party circles. The same things were said; the same expressions were used then as now in arguing against the insurrection as hopeless. The old arguments are now being repeated after the victorious insurrection, this time in favor of a coalition. There will be no technical apparatus, mind you. You lay the colors on thick in order to frighten, in order to hinder the proletariat from utilizing its victory. It is true [that the apparatus is not ours]. We have had to waste so much time with Kerensky’s miserable detachments because we lacked a technical apparatus. But under the given conditions we have already created a magnificent apparatus. At present we are victorious both here and in Moscow. Petrograd is now secure against any surprises of a military nature.
I repeat that we shall be able to draw the petty bourgeoisie behind us only by showing that we have in our hands a material fighting force. We can conquer the bourgeoisie only by overthrowing it. This is the law of the class struggle.
This is the guarantee of our victory. Then and only then will the Vikzhel follow us. The same might be said about other technical branches. The apparatus will place itself at our service only when it sees that we are a force.
The October Revolution does not consist in setting the old apparatus in motion again. Our task is to rebuild the entire apparatus from top to bottom. For our proletarian tasks to become a living reality, we need our own apparatus, made up of the flesh and blood of our own class. We created such an apparatus of our own against Kerensky and against Krasnov beneath Petrograd. You keep repeating that we cannot sit on bayonets. But in order for us to carry on these discussions with you here it is indispensable to have bayonets at Tsarskoye Selo.
All government is based on force and not conciliation. Our government is the force exercised by the majority of the people against the minority. This is beyond dispute. This is the ABC of Marxism. They prevented me from communication with Moscow by direct wire and then they let through the shock troops. They betray us in the most acute moments of the struggle. And it is proposed to us, now that we have conquered, that we admit them into the very strong hold of the government.
[Motion: To limit the speakers to 10 minutes.]
NOGIN: We, Bolsheviks, recognize that our revolution is not a bourgeois revolution. But we will conquer not alone but together with the peasants. It is for this reason that they must possess jointly what has been jointly gained by the blood of workers and soldiers. That is to say, power. Our party must be the most disciplined party in the world.
36. The modern universal calendar, differs from the old Russian by being thirteen days in advance. Thus, the revolution which took place on November 7, 1917, is almost always referred to by the Russians (and often abroad, too), as the “October Revolution” because, according to the old calendar, it took place on October 25, 1917. The meeting of the Petrograd Committee of the Bolsheviks was, therefore, actually held on November 14, 1917, a week after the insurrection.
37. Rabochi Put [Worker’s Path], the Bolshevik central party organ published in Petrograd after the suppression of its organ Rabochi by the Provisional Government. Rabochi Put appeared between September 3 and October 26, 1917, and the polemic referred to by Lenin was the one directed at Zinoviev and Kamenev, who had broken party discipline and appeared in the columns of Gorky’s paper with an attack on the Bolshevik plan for an insurrection.
38. Delo Naroda [People’s Cause], the daily organ of the Social Revolutionary party from March 15, 1917, until March 30, 1919. Its editorial board was directed by such men as Zenzinov, Kerensky, Chernov, Gotz, Avksentiev and Sorokin, and it pursued a violently anti-Bolshevik policy both before and after the November Revolution.
39. An English translation of this essay, published in 1932, is available under the imprint of International Publishers. It presented Lenin’s arguments in favor of taking power, and set out to prove that the Bolsheviks would take power and would be able to maintain it, on the basis of the program elaborated in the essay itself.
40. The “Internationalist-Fusionists” referred to by Lenin were the former Mezhrayontsi (see Note 5) who fused with the Bolsheviks at their Sixth Congress in July, 1917, the latter electing three Mezhrayontsi, Trotsky, Joffe and Uritsky, to their Central Committee.
41. Rumcherod, a combined term made up of abbreviations of the Joint Executive Committee of the Soviet of the Soldiers of the Roumanian Front, of the Black Sea Coast and of the Odessa Garrison. The Joint Executive was in the hands of the Mensheviks and the Social Revolutionaries who sought to employ it as a battering ram against the Bolshevik government.
42. Vikzhel, a combined term made up of abbreviations of the Central Executive Committee of the All-Russian Union of Railwaymen. This body was also controlled by the Mensheviks and Social Revolutionaries, and disposed of a strong and powerful organization throughout the country, whereas the Bolsheviks were just beginning to establish an administrative apparatus of their own. For a time the Bolsheviks were at the mercy of the Vikzhel which controlled the movement of trains and would not cooperate until the Bolsheviks consented to organize a government including the Mensheviks and Social Revolutionaries. The sabotage of the Vikzhel was finally broken.
43. The “desertions” to Novaya Zhizn [New Life], the organ of Gorky, refers to the action taken by Zinoviev and Kamenev, on the eve of the insurrection, in publishing their attack on the Bolshevik plan in the columns of a public organ and, moreover, a violently anti-Bolshevik paper.
44. Cadets, a combined term made up of the initials of the Constitutional-Democrats, or the Party of People’s Freedom, the party of the Russian democratic bourgeoisie and “liberal” landowners who, under the Czar, stood for a constitutional monarchy, and later even for a republic. Led by Professor Paul Miliukov, now the leader of a section of the counter-revolutionary émigrés.
45. Smolny Institute, formerly a school for young ladies of the nobility, was taken over by the revolutionists and made the headquarters of the Petrograd Soviet and the Revolutionary Military Committee which directed the Bolshevik uprising.
46. The Junkers was the name given to the students at the officers’ school. They were used in an attempt to crush the Bolshevik insurrection.
47. In the manifesto on The Civil War in France, issued on May 30, 1871, in the name of the General Council of the International Workiugmen’s Association (First International), Marx wrote:
“But the working class cannot simply lay hold of the ready-made State machinery and wield it for its own purposes.” (The Paris Commune, New York 1920, p.70)
On April 12, 1871, Marx wrote to his friend Kugelmann:
“If you look at the last chapter of my Eighteenth Brumaire, you will see that I declare the next attempt of the French Revolution to be: not merely to hand over, from one set of hands to another, the bureaucratic-military machine – as has occurred hitherto, but to shatter it; and it is this that is the preliminary condition of any real people’s revolution on the Continent. That is just what our heroic Parisian comrades are attempting to do.” (Briefe an Kugelmann, Berlin 1924, p.86)