Lessons of the Revolution



This article was written at the end of July, as is apparent from the text.

The history of the revolution during August has fully corroborated what is said in this article. Then, at the end of August, the Kornilov revolt[6] caused a new turn in the revolution by clearly demonstrating to the whole people that the Cadets, in alliance with the counter-revolutionary generals, were striving to disband the Soviets and restore the monarchy. The near future will show how strong this new turn of the revolution is, and whether it will succeed in putting an end to the fatal policy of compromise with the bourgeoisie.

N. Lenin

September 6, 1917


[1] Bonapartism (from Bonaparte, the name of the two French emperors) is a name applied to a government which endeavours to appear non-partisan by taking advantage of a highly acute struggle between the parties of the capitalists and the workers. Actually serving the capitalists, such a government dupes the workers most of all by promises and petty concessions. —Lenin

[2] On July 12 (25) the Provisional Government introduced capital punishment at the front. The divisional “military revolutionary tribunals” that were set up passed sentences which became effective immediately and were executed without delay.

[3] The Trudoviks (Trudovik group) were a Duma group of petty-bourgeois democrats—peasants and intellectuals with Narodnik leanings. The group was formed by the peasant Deputies to the First Duma in April 1906. In the Duma it wavered between the Cadets and the revolutionary Social-Democrats. During the First World War most of the Trudoviks adhered to a social-chauvinist position.

After the February revolution the Trudoviks, expressing the interests of the kulaks, actively supported the Provisional Government. Their reaction to the October Revolution was hostile and they took part in the counter-revolutionary activities of the bourgeoisie.

[4] The Contact Commission was formed by decision of the compromising Executive Committee of the Petrograd Soviet on March 8 (21) to “influence” and “exercise control over” the activity of the Provisional Government. Its members were M. I. Skobelev, Y. M. Steklov, N. N. Sukhanov, V. N. Filippovsky and N. S. Chkheidze (subsequently V. M. Chernov and I. G. Tsereteli were included). The Commission helped the Provisional Government take advantage of the prestige of the Petrograd Soviet to disguise its counter-revolutionary policies. The Mensheviks and Socialist– Revolutionaries hoped with its aid to keep the people from revolutionary action aimed at effecting the transfer of power to the Soviets. The Commission was abolished in the middle of April 1917, its functions being handed over to the Executive Committee’s Bureau.

[5] On May 17 (30), 1917, in view of a conflict between the Kronstadt Soviet and Pepelayev, the Provisional Government Commissar, the non-affiliated section of the Soviet passed a resolution abolishing the office of government commissar and investing the Kronstadt Soviet with full powers. The resolution, supported by the Bolsheviks, said that the only authority in Kronstadt was the Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies, which should enter into direct contact with the Petrograd Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies on all matters affecting the state.

The bourgeois, S.R. and Menshevik press launched a slander campaign against the people of Kronstadt and the Bolsheviks, alleging that Russia had begun to disintegrate, that a state of anarchy was in, that Kronstadt had seceded, and so on.

First the Petrograd Soviet and then the Provisional Government sent delegations (Chkheidze, Gotz and others in the former case and the Ministers Skobelev and Tsereteli in the latter) to deal with the Kronstadt incident. In the Kronstadt Soviet the two Ministers succeeded in putting through a compromise decision stipulating that the commissar be elected by the Soviet and his election confirmed by the Provisional Government. A political resolution was also passed, saying that the Kronstadt Soviet recognised the authority of the Provisional Government but adding that this “recognition certainly does not rule out criticism and the desire that the revolutionary democrats should form a new central authority and transfer all power to the Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies”. = The resolution expressed the hope that the Bolsheviks would achieve this by exerting ideological influence. It ended with an emphatic protest against attempts to attribute to the Kronstadt Bolsheviks “the intention of severing Kronstadt from the rest of Russia”.

[6] The Kornilov revolt against the revolution was organised by the bourgeoisie and landowners in August 1917. It was led by the tsarist general Kornilov, then Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Army. The conspirators aimed at capturing Petrograd, smashing the Bolshevik Party, disbanding the Soviets, establishing a military dictatorship, and paving the way for the restoration of the monarchy. A. F. Kerensky, head of the Provisional Government, joined in the conspiracy. However, when the revolt began, ho dissociated himself from Kornilov, fearing that he might be swept away with Kornilov, and declared Kornilov to be a rebel against the Provisional Government.

The revolt began on August 25 (September 7). Kornilov marched the Third Cavalry Corps against Petrograd. In Petrograd itself, the counter-revolutionary organisations of Kornilov’s backers were getting ready for action.

The Bolshevik Party led the people against Kornilov as it continued, in accordance with Lenin’s recommendation, to expose the Provisional Government and its S.R. and Menshevik hangers-on. In response to the call of the Bolshevik Party’s Central Committee, the workers of Petrograd and the revolutionary soldiers and sailors rose to fight the rebels. The Petrograd workers promptly formed Red Guard units. Revolutionary committees were set up in several localities. The advance of the Kornilov troops was checked and Bolshevik propaganda began to demoralise them.

The Kornilov revolt was put down by the workers and peasants under the leadership of the Bolshevik Party. Under pressure from the people, the Provisional Government had to order the arrest and trial of Kornilov and his accomplices.


Source: Marxist Internet Archive.