Chapter 5 - 1917: From the April Theses to the October, Proletarian Revolution
In the period February to October 1917, Lenin’s strategic goal for the Russian Revolution passed from the stagist position of the RDDPP, as adopted in the 1905 Revolution, to a position that was in all essentials identical with the ToPR. Between receiving news of the February Revolution, and his delivery of the April Theses at the Tauride Palace on 4 April (developed into a programme for action at the Petrograd City RDSLP(B) Conference on 22-24 April and the Seventh All-Russian Conference of the RDSLP(B) of 24-29 April), Lenin moved to a position of publicly calling for the Bolsheviks to lead the Russian socialist revolution.
Just as events in Russia caused Lenin to change his political goal and to consciously work towards establishing, in October 1917, the dictatorship of the proletariat rather than a democratic dictatorship, so those same events caused Trotsky to completely revise and change his position on the party. Throughout the rest of his life, Trotsky readily admitted how wrong he had been on this question, and how on all issues relating to the party, Lenin had been correct.
During the initial period of the so-called dual power, the Bolshevik fraction was in a small minority in the Soviets; barely 13% at the First All-Russian Congress of Soviets, and insignificant at the First All-Russian Congress of Peasant Delegates held on 17 May 1917. From his return in April to the events of 4 July, Lenin and the Bolsheviks campaigned for a peaceful transfer of power to the Soviets, mounting a campaign under the slogans “All Power to the Soviets” and “Down with the Capitalist Ministers”. During this period Bolshevik policy was to win a majority in the Soviets by demonstrating that the Mensheviks and SRs were tied to the government presided over by Prince Lvov, and would not carry out policies that were in the interests of either the proletariat or peasantry.
After the July Days, and the repression unleashed by Kerensky’s coalition government, Lenin’s called for all state power to be in the hands of the proletariat, and for the Bolshevik Party to take that power in an armed uprising. After July, he openly argued that only by the dictatorship of the proletariat, could peace be achieved and the agrarian problem solved.
Lenin, being human, could not see, in advance, how the Russian Revolution would actually unfold. He wrote in April 1917, “The highly remarkable feature of our revolution is that it has brought about a dual power. ... Nobody previously thought, or could have thought, of a dual power”(1). An inability to foresee such an eventuality did not mean that the class struggle confounded his expectations and left him floundering. Lenin’s methodological emphasis on reality and concrete events meant that his strategies would be altered or fine-tuned as events unfolded. It was one of his great strengths that he could throw away an old schema if events proved it outmoded, and develop new strategies that would take the movement forward. As we have seen, Lenin, based on his experiences of the revolutionary upheavals of 1903-1906 had changed the orientation of the Bolsheviks towards the peasantry. He would do so again in 1917.
But it is not helpful to talk of Lenin’s strategy as though it were a single indivisible unit. Like all real life, Lenin’s strategy contained within it contradictory elements, it developed dialectically. Where he erected schema that were based not on actual events but on prognostications, such as the idea of the provisional RDDPP, he had, subsequently, to measure these against reality. In 1905-1906, Lenin projected onto the future revolution, his ideas of how the bourgeois-democratic tasks could be achieved to the best advantage of the working class, but events unfolded differently, in a way he did not foresee. Lenin’s methodology enabled him to develop a strategy necessary for the success of the Russian Revolution, even though this meant changing party policy during the revolution itself. As a consequence, in 1917, he independently adopted the essence of the ToPR. Such an analysis explains his political development, including the changes made to the party programme in 1917, adopted through the support of the newer, rank and file members, and against the opposition of the Old Bolsheviks.
One obvious, and important, reflection of the change to his political line was his dropping of the use of the term “RDDPP” to describe the goal for the second Russian Revolution. Lenin later described the post-October regime in Russia in terms to suit the particular audience he was addressing, referring to it as the dictatorship of the proletariat, as a step towards socialism, and even as a Workers’ and Peasants’ Government. He did so because it was simultaneously each and every one of these, but he never referred to the post-October 1917 regime in Russia as the RDDPP. The reason for this was because the post-October regime in Russia, brought to power by the Bolsheviks, was not a democratic (i.e. bourgeois) dictatorship, but a Workers’ and Peasants’ Government resting on the power of the dictatorship of the proletariat.
Different authors propose different reasons for Lenin’s transition from a belief that the Russian Revolution would be in two separate and distinct stages, to the demand that the Bolsheviks take the power in a socialist revolution. Leibman argued that this was due to Lenin’s better appreciation of the international context of the Russian Revolution: “Furthermore, and most important of all, it was during the First World War that Leninism and its founder acquired an international dimension”(2). This is a somewhat harsh view of a man who from at least 1905 had proposed that the ultimate success of a thorough-going revolution in Russia depended upon revolution in Western Europe. However, it is undeniable that Lenin’s Imperialism the Highest Stage of Capitalism(3) gave him a new insight on the integration of the Russian banks, bourgeoisie and landowners with, particularly, French imperialism(4), and the consequent negligible possibilities for the independent capitalist development of Russia. Harding concurs, and places the cause of the transition as due to Lenin having reaching a new stage in his economic analysis, a stage which demonstrated that capitalism had entered its world-encompassing imperialist phase, with no space for new imperialisms, and which required a world-wide socialist response(5). Both stress the inner consistency of Lenin’s socio-political analysis, and date Lenin’s move to adopt a socialist goal for the Russian Revolution as beginning with the development of his theory of imperialism. However, Harding believes Lenin was an opponent of the ToPR but this opinion appears to be based on his erroneous belief that the ToPR meant an attempt to immediately introduce socialism into Russia(6). Alternatively, Carr argued that the problems of the severe food shortages in the cities of Russia and the dangers of social collapse were the spur that caused Lenin’s re-orientation(7).
Of course, any number of reasons may be proposed, but whatever the reasons for the change, Lenin had adopted a new perspective on the goals of the Russian Revolution by the time of his arrival in Russia in April 1917.
5.2 February, the Letters from Afar and the April Theses
The February 1917 Revolution was unplanned and spontaneous. The Tsarist secret police, the ohkrana, reported that the Revolution was “a purely spontaneous phenomenon, and not at all the fruit of party agitation”(8). One relatively honest eye-witness, the Menshevik Sukhanov, recorded that “Not one party was prepared for the great upheaval”(9), confirming Trotsky’s account that “no-one, positively no-one - we can assert this categorically on the basis of all the data - then thought that 23 February was to mark the beginning of a decisive drive against absolutism”(10).
The February Revolution was, almost exclusively, the work of the Petrograd working class. Trotsky writes in his History of the Russian Revolution, “It would be no exaggeration to say that Petrograd achieved the February Revolution. The rest of the country adhered to it”(11). The peasantry supported the February Revolution, but they did not make it. The removal of the Tsar was accomplished by the working class which drew behind it the peasants in the form of army delegates to the Soviets. That the Soviets assumed such an overwhelming importance right from the start was not only due to the memories of 1905 but because there was little alternative; state oppression after the commencement of the war closed the trade unions, abolished the socialist press, and arrested and exiled every revolutionary it could catch(12).
From 23-28 February, the revolution was confined to Petrograd, with the Soviet being convened on the afternoon of the 27th. The country went about its business unaware that anything unusual had occurred. The first city to react was Moscow, which had strikes and demonstrations on 28 February and the following day elected a workers’ Soviet. On 1 March, meetings took place in several provincial towns, including Tver, Nizhnii, Novgorod, Samara and Saratov. In the course of March there emerged, in all these cities, Soviets modelled on that of Petrograd. The leadership of these Soviets, with a few local exceptions, was Menshevik and SR. In early April, the provincial Soviets sent representatives to Petrograd where they formed an All-Russian Soviet. The revolution spread slowly across the country, more or less peacefully, with many villages not hearing the news until four or six weeks later, and little or no resistance was encountered(13). The earliest reports of agrarian disturbances, such as assaults on private landed property, reached Petrograd in the middle of March, but they assumed mass proportions in April, stimulating the first mass desertions of soldiers who hurried home from fear of being left out(14).
The Russian bourgeoisie, true to expectations, proved to be cowardly and deeply counter-revolutionary. Sukhanov describes in detail, the manoeuvrings of the leaders of the bourgeoisie, whose first inclination was to betray the revolution and maintain the Tsar, and only when this stratagem collapsed did they move onto the riskier path of keeping the revolution in check by accepting the offer of the Mensheviks and SRs to become the Provisional Government(15). Pipes gives a good description of the Provisional Government as a group of individuals who could not take the power, but had to have it thrust on them by, essentially, the abdication of leadership by the newly-born Petrograd Soviet which was the only real power in Russia at that moment(16).
In fact, the Provisional Government emerged out of the Duma and initially gave itself a title that clearly revealed its goals: Committee for the Re-establishment of Order and Relations with Public Institutions and Personages. Their first instinct, as Sukhanov explained, was to resort to repression, but as that was impossible, they were compelled to compromise and play for time. The aim of the liberal bourgeoisie was to halt the revolution by making cosmetic changes intended to preserve as much of the old regime as possible, thus they ‘gave’ to the masses, the liberties and freedoms that the workers and soldiers had already taken. The old regime had been severely battered, bruised and shaken, but was still in existence in the shape of the economic power of the landlords, bankers and big business, and the social and political power of the huge state bureaucracy, the officer caste, the Duma and the monarchy. The liberal bourgeoisie, believing the monarchy was still the firmest bulwark of private property and order, attempted to preserve the Romanovs, and the Provisional Government manoeuvred to replace Tsar Nicholas II with his son or brother. The workers, who had overthrown the Tsar, handed power to the leaders of the Soviets, who, in turn, handed it to the Provisional Government, who, in their turn, offered it back to the Romanovs!(17).
In February, the capitalists knew they had no significant armed force at their disposal and, initially, the decrees of the Provisional Government were carried out only to the extent permitted by the Soviets. “The Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies ... possesses the most important elements of real power, such as the troops, railroads, posts and telegraph communication. One may say directly that the Provisional Government exists only as long as the Soviet permits this”(18). Sukhanov was one of those delegated by the Executive of the Petrograd Soviet to explain to the Provisional Government that the Soviet would leave the formation of the government to the bourgeois parties. He held the opinion, “It was clear then a priori that if a bourgeois government and the adherence of the bourgeoisie to the revolution were to be counted on ... Power must go to the bourgeoisie”(19). The Soviet leaders begged the bourgeois leaders to take governmental power, and promised to stop the “excesses” of the masses, and to restrict the actions of the Soviet itself.
This was quite understandable behaviour from the Mensheviks and SRs as it flowed naturally from their political and social perspectives for the Russian Revolution. However, it meant that the February Revolution brought to power those who opposed its success - the Cadets and their allies. On 2 March, the Provisional Government was constituted. It was comprised mainly of big landlords and industrialists(20).
The pressure of the petty bourgeois masses played a disproportionate role in the early stages as expressed in the system of elections in the Soviets. Initially, the workers were entitled to one representative for every 1,000 voters but one soldier for every company in Petrograd. This gave an overwhelming preponderance to the soldiers, with 800 workers’ deputies compared with 2,000 soldiers (in their vast majority junior officers from the democratic middle class who gravitated naturally to the more moderate Mensheviks and SRs). Cliff quotes one of the local Bolshevik leaders, Shlyapnikov, as saying that out of about 1,600 Soviet delegates in February only about 40 were Bolsheviks(21).
The strategy sketched by Lenin in Two Tactics, of the Soviet acting to destroy the autocratic state, to take state power through an armed popular militia, to act as the provisional revolutionary democratic dictatorship and resolve the land question, had suffered a severe setback due to the lack of a genuine revolutionary leadership - and here the Old Bolsheviks offered nothing significantly different from the Mensheviks and SRs. As in 1905, the Bolshevik ‘committee-men’ quickly lost their bearings when confronted with a new situation and lagged behind the movement(22). In the initial phase of the revolution, the party showed itself to be woefully unprepared, the upsurge of the masses caught it off guard. “Lacking a vigorous and clear-sighted leadership,” writes Liebman, “the Bolsheviks of the capital had reacted to the first workers’ demonstrations with much reserve, and even with a suspiciousness that recalls their attitude in January 1905”(23).
The Petrograd leadership was not alone, even though in 1912-14, the Bolsheviks had succeeded in winning the support of the great majority of the organised workers in Russia, even though during the war the Mensheviks had played hardly any role, “yet in the heady days of February-April, the two factions were again merged into a single organisation in every province except Moscow and Petersburg. Indeed, in many areas, they remained united right up to the October Revolution”(24).
Liebman has no hesitation in saying that even the most radical Bolsheviks had no perspective other than the consolidation of a bourgeois regime. “‘The coming revolution must only be a bourgeois revolution,’ wrote Olminsky, adding that ‘this was an obligatory premise for every member of the party, the official opinion of the party, its continual, and unchanging slogan right up to the February revolution of 1917, and even some time after.’” The same idea was expressed even more crudely in Pravda on 7 March, 1917, even before Stalin and Kamenev had arrived from exile in Siberia to give it a yet more right-wing slant: “Of course, there is no question among us of the downfall of the rule of capital, but only the downfall of the rule of the autocracy and feudalism”(25).
For over a decade, Bolshevik Party cadres had been educated in the theory of the provisional RDDPP (which included both the proletariat limiting its demands, and an interval of “decades” before the socialist revolution). Did Bolshevik leaders such as Kamenev impose that schema on the reality of the February Revolution with the result that the party tail-ended the Menshevik and SR-leadership in the Soviets between February and April? Certainly they found it possible to present the slogan of the RDDPP with a reformist face, a possibility that Trotsky had foreseen and warned against.
The first exiles to return (about 12 or 13 March) were those who had been sent to Siberia, Kamenev and Stalin among them. The new arrivals used their seniority to push the party’s line further to the right. This was immediately reflected in the pages of the central organ. In an editorial in Pravda on 14 March, two days after his return, Kamenev wrote: “What purpose would it serve to speed things up, when things [are] already taking place at such a rapid pace?”(26). The next day, he wrote another piece commenting on Kerensky’s statement that Russia would “proudly defend its freedoms” and would not “retreat before the bayonets of the aggressors”. Kamenev enthusiastically agreed, in terms which totally rejected Lenin’s policy of opposition to the war: “When army faces army, it would be the most insane policy to suggest to one of those armies to lay down its arms and go home. This would not be a policy of peace, but a policy of slavery, which would be rejected with disgust by a free people”(27).
In the solidly-proletarian Vyborg district of Petersburg which consistently voted for Bolshevik delegates to the Soviet, the local committee, predominantly worker activists, in their manifesto demanded a democratic republic [Constituent Assembly], the 8-hour day, seizure of the landlords’ estates and an immediate end to the war(28). The Vyborg district committee also issued leaflets appealing for the establishment of factory committees which, with the revolutionary soldiers, would immediately elect representatives to a provisional revolutionary government. This would be under the protection of the insurrectionary revolutionary people and army(29). These proposals were the same as those in Two Tactics, with the important addition of the demand for immediate peace, a significant move towards the policy that Lenin would propose in his April Theses(30). However, the demand by the Bolsheviks of the Vyborg district that power be taken by the Soviet was not in order to move towards socialism, but because the Provisional Government was not moving fast enough against the autocracy and failing to implement the Social Democratic minimum programme, particularly land to the peasant.
The call that the Soviets should take the power was rejected by both the Bolsheviks who had returned from exile and the Soviet leaders, who used Lenin’s 1905 argument that the revolution was “bourgeois” and the working class was “not ready” to take power; the rank and file had no answer. The Bolshevik leadership present in Petrograd had adopted an interpretation of the RDDPP slogan that offered no alternative to the Menshevik perspective. “The left Bolsheviks, especially the workers, tried with all their force to break through the quarantine. But they did not know how to refute the premise about the bourgeois character of the revolution and the danger of isolation of the working class”(31).
It took Lenin five weeks from hearing of the victory of the February Revolution to reach Petrograd. His writings during this period show the transition in his thinking from the stagist theory of Two Tactics to the demands for a Commune-type state based on the Soviets, and the overthrow of capital, as a necessary precondition for the achievement of a democratic peace and land to the peasants. On 4 March, immediately on hearing the news of the Tsar’s overthrow, Lenin proposed his Draft Theses, March 4 1917(32), emphasising that the February Revolution was by no means a complete victory, and that revolutionary measures against the landlords and capitalists were required, including a “democratic republic and socialism”. On 6 March he sent his famous telegram to the Bolsheviks returning from Stockholm and Oslo to Petrograd: “Our tactic: no trust in and no support of the new government; Kerensky is particularly suspect; arming of the proletariat is the only guarantee; immediate elections to the Petrograd City Council; no rapprochement with other parties”(33).
As soon as Pravda recommenced publication, Lenin began his Letters from Afar(34), the first of which was dated 7 March and contained demands which had been clearly described twelve years previously in Two Tactics, and had been the backbone of Bolshevik policy since then; the revolutionary overthrow of the Tsarist autocracy and destruction of the autocratic state to be accomplished by the provisional RDDPP which would temporarily exercise state power through the Soviets resting on an armed militia of the proletariat and peasants. Comparing these to the actual policies of the Bolsheviks in Russia, one can see why they so shocked the Central Committee members. Most of the first letter was published, with about one fifth, which included the passages criticising those who supported the Provisional Government, censored(35). All four subsequent letters were effectively suppressed.
Lenin’s Letters from Afar show that his ideas were in a state of flux, and his concept of how the second Russian Revolution would develop was changing. The February Revolution had placed the capitalist Provisional Government in power, but neither the Tsarist monarchy nor the autocratic state had been finally destroyed. Lenin began by demanding that the old state machine, the army, the police force and bureaucracy be smashed. But he recognised that this could be achieved only if there was a transfer of political power from the government of the landlords and capitalists to a government based on Soviets of Workers’ and Peasants’ Deputies. These Soviets had to be extended across all of Russia to include, particularly, soldiers, rural wage-workers and the entire peasant poor. This would be a real RDDPP, and would be assured of victory if, from the start, it rested on the armed might of a workers’ and peasants’ militia, and fought for the confiscation of the landed estates of state, church, nobility and crown(36). In this Lenin emphasised the radical and revolutionary dimension of the RDDPP but he had not moved outside a stagist perspective.
Carr has argued that before leaving Switzerland, Lenin had already come to the conclusion that the problems of the severe food shortages in the cities of Russia could not be solved ‘‘unless one renounces bourgeois relationships (and) passes to revolutionary measures”(37). Correct, but initially, Lenin, after demanding that every toiler should see and feel some improvement in his life - bread, milk for children, accommodation - made the point that such measures were not socialist since they concerned only the distribution of goods, and that such a situation would constitute only a democratic dictatorship. However, to achieve peace, and provide food for the people, more than just the RDDPP was required. Now Lenin called for a workers’ government based not on an alliance with the whole of the peasantry, but with farm labourers, poor peasants and revolutionary workers in all countries(38). With the support of these allies the Russian workers could utilise the peculiarities of their situation to achieve a democratic republic and then proceed to socialism(39).
Once again Lenin is deeply radical, but the idea that the revolution in Russia could spark the socialist revolution in Western Europe, with consequent feedback into Russia, is within the schema laid out in Two Tactics. In March, Lenin presented this idea several times: that revolutionary victory in Russia, the capture of power by the proletariat and poorest strata of the population and the elimination of the autocracy, would encourage the development of the socialist revolution in the West, and this would lead “the whole of mankind” to “peace and socialism”(40,41). However, by 11 March (the third of his Letters) Lenin shows that he is reconsidering the role of the RDDPP. He refers to the RDDPP, but immediately adds the qualification:
“It is not a matter of finding a theoretical classification. We would be committing a great mistake if we attempted to force the complete, urgent, rapidly developing practical tasks of the revolution into the Procrustean bed of narrowly conceived ‘theory’ instead of regarding theory primarily and predominantly as a guide to action”(42).
He was re-thinking his strategy. In the unique and desperate position in which Russia found itself, it was necessary to extend his previous theory to meet the needs of the actual situation. Two weeks later, in his unfinished Fifth Letter written on 26 March, the changes had progressed substantially. The title of the Fifth Letter is The Tasks Involved in the Building of the Revolutionary Proletarian State. To have moved from a workers’ government, whether or not in alliance with the poorest peasants, to a proletarian state, implied a qualitative change in his perspective. He developed this theme by calling for the proletariat and the poorest sections of the peasantry to “take further steps towards control of the production and distribution of the basic products”. These actions, when completed, would mark the first steps in “the transition to socialism”(43). Now the Russian Revolution is posed as a socialist revolution, and as beginning in semi-feudal Russia before Western Europe.
This is a very different perspective from that described in Two Tactics. Lenin had changed the goal of the revolution. The first steps towards socialism were to be taken in the short term since they were intended to resolve, for example, the food and housing shortages created by the war. True, Lenin in his Fifth Letter, in item 6 on the list of “immediate tasks”, wrote that only the RDDPP organised on a Soviet model and supported by such organs of government as a proletarian militia, would be capable of successfully achieving peace(44). However, Lenin simultaneously proposed that this RDDPP be based not the peasantry as a whole, but on the proletariat and poorest sections of the peasantry, and should take steps towards the control of production and distribution, that is take immediate steps in the transition towards socialism, a proposal that in 1905 was described as “anarchist” and “absurd”. The Fifth Letter is short, only two pages long, and there is no reference to how the RDDPP would take these steps. This was the last time Lenin was to pose the RDDPP as a goal to be achieved, and should be taken as an example of Lenin’s ideas in flux. At the very least, the actions proposed were in marked contrast to the schemas of Two Tactics, and may very well have been the first clear step outside that framework.
Lenin arrived at the Finland station on 3 April, and on the afternoon of 4 April presented his ten “April Theses”(45) to two meetings at the Tauride Palace where the Soviet held its sessions. Firstly he spoke to Bolshevik delegates of the Soviet, and then to a joint meeting of Bolshevik and Menshevik delegates.
Lenin stated that a situation of dual power existed in Russia, due only to the insufficient class-consciousness and organisation of the proletariat. It was now time to move to power being “in the hands of the proletariat and the poorest sections of the peasants”(46) with the only possible form of the revolutionary government being the Soviets of Workers’ Deputies. While the Bolsheviks were in a minority they would restrict their activities to criticism, exposing the errors of the Mensheviks and SRs, all the time attempting to raise the consciousness of the masses to a level which understood the necessity of transferring the entire state power to the Soviets(47). It is interesting to note that this policy called, in practice, for a Menshevik-SR Government since these were the majority parties within the Soviets. However, this was a time when the bourgeois government was impotent, the Soviets held all effective power, and were truly democratic, allowing a majority to be won by ideological struggle alone.
The fifth thesis offered the most radically new perspective: No return to a parliamentary republic, instead a republic of Soviets of Workers’, Agricultural Labourers’ and Peasants’ Deputies from “top to bottom”(48); that is a government based on the Soviets, responsible to the Soviets and controlled by the Soviets. The memoirs of Raskolnikov, a sailor Bolshevik stationed at Kronstadt, who was present when Lenin first arrived in Russia, described Lenin’s initial presentation at Finland station:
“It laid down a Rubicon between the tactics of yesterday and today. Comrade Lenin ... summoned us away from half-recognition and half-support of the Government to non-recognition and irreconcilable struggle. ... It was not without cause that our Party’s tactics did not follow a straight line, but after Lenin’s return took a sharp turn to the left”(49).
In the so-called economic theses, Lenin proposed confiscation of the landed estates and nationalisation of all land, immediate amalgamation of all banks into a single national bank under the control of the Soviets. He stated that “It is not our immediate task to ‘introduce’ socialism, but only to bring social production and the distribution of products at once under the control of the Soviets of Workers’ Deputies”(50). His emphasis on ‘immediate’ was not lost on his audience. Carr comments, “Lenin’s cautious phraseology left room for a certain practical vagueness about the precise moment of the transition to socialism, but none for doubt about this transition as the main goal”(51).
The reaction of his listeners showed that the consequences of this were clear to them. Krupskaya describes the reaction of the Bolshevik delegates: “For the first few minutes our people were taken aback. It seemed to many that Lenin presented the question too bluntly, that it was still too early to speak of socialist revolution”(52). It is recorded that only one person spoke in favour of Lenin’s theses - Alexandra Kollantai. That evening the Petrograd Committee rejected the theses by thirteen votes to two with one abstention. Lenin’s theses were published in Pravda on 7 April. They appeared over his name alone. Kamenev, as editor replied the next day in Pravda No. 27;
“As for Comrade Lenin’s general scheme, it appears to us unacceptable, inasmuch as it proceeds from the assumption that the bourgeois-democratic revolution is completed, and builds on the immediate transformation of this revolution into a socialist revolution”(53,54).
This accurately conveyed the stagist opinions of Kamenev, Stalin and most of the other Old Bolsheviks in the spring of 1917 - in fact it probably conveyed the opinions of the majority of the Bolshevik Party at that time.
This new prospect of a socialist revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat simply did not fit into the mindset of the Old Bolsheviks. Here, it is necessary to remember that up to the outbreak of the February Revolution, only Trotsky had proposed that the Russian proletariat might win the power in advance of the Western proletariat, and that the revolution would not confine itself within the limits of a democratic dictatorship but would be compelled to undertake initial socialist measures. In this sense it is clear that the April theses of Lenin were “Trotskyist”.
Lenin’s first and immediate task was to win the Bolshevik Party to his new views. Traditionally, Trotskyists have made much of the differences between Lenin and the Old Bolsheviks in the period February to October 1917, particularly Stalin’s role. This is understandable in the context of the faction struggles that took place later, but to concentrate on the mistakes of the Old Bolsheviks would obfuscate the central point being made here. Lenin, even if he had maintained the stagist perspective of the RDDPP would have had serious differences with the reformist positions adopted by the Old Bolsheviks. What is important here, is the direction in which Lenin’s arguments developed, and his political trajectory in 1917, away from a stagist position to a permanentist perspective.
Lenin’s analysis began with the assessment that there was no objective reason why the workers did not take governmental power in February 1917. Despite actual power being in their hands, the proletariat did not elbow the bourgeoisie aside for no other reason than its unpreparedness, its lack of organisation and its lack of class consciousness(55). This is most interesting since it gives the lie to those who suggest that Lenin called for a socialist revoluion in October because he considered that between February and October 1917, Russia had made sufficient social, political and/or economic advance to proceed from the bourgeois-democratic stage to the proletarian revolution.
However, one reason for the unpreparedness, lack of organisation and lack of consciousness was, as Lenin went on to explain, the betrayal of the revolution by all the so-called workers’ and peasants’ parties. Without the complicity of the Mensheviks and SRs in the Soviets, the Provisional Government could not have lasted long, if at all. But Lenin reserved his most stinging criticisms for those among the Bolshevik leadership who had placed the Bolshevik Party as a prop for the Mensheviks and SRs:
“The person who now speaks only of a ‘revolutionary-democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry’ is behind the times, consequently, he has in effect gone over to the petty bourgeoisie against the proletarian class struggle; that person should be consigned to the archive of ‘Bolshevik’ pre-revolutionary antiques (it may be called the archive of ‘Old Bolsheviks’)”(56).
Lenin explained that one must know how to change schemas when they did not fit the facts:
“... at this point we hear a clamour of protest from people who readily call themselves ‘Old Bolsheviks’. Didn’t we always maintain, they say, that the bourgeois-democratic revolution is completed only by the ‘revolutionary-democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry’? Is the agrarian revolution, which is also a bourgeois-democratic revolution, completed? Is it not a fact, on the contrary, that it has not even started?
My answer is: The Bolshevik slogans and ideas on the whole have been confirmed by history; but concretely things have worked out differently; they are more original, more peculiar, more variegated than anyone could have expected.
To ignore or overlook this fact would mean ... reiterating formulas senselessly learned by rote instead of studying the specific features of the new and living reality.” ...
One must know how to adapt schemas to facts, instead of reiterating the now meaningless words about a ‘dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry’ in general. ... Is this reality [of dual power] covered by Comrade Kamenev’s Old-Bolshevik formula, which says that the ‘bourgeois-democratic revolution is not completed’? It is not. The formula is obsolete. It is no good at all. It is dead. And it is no use trying to revive it”(57).
Lenin was clear: the RDDPP existed in the form of the Menshevik and SR-led Soviets, but the democratic dictatorship was handing power to the Provisional Government, an amalgam of landowners and the big bourgeoisie; this new situation required a dictatorship of the proletariat to establish a Commune-type state, to complete the proletarian revolution. The vehemence with which Lenin attacked the key governmental slogan that the Bolshevik Party had used for over a decade should not be missed, particularly as there now exists a current within world Trotskyism which denies he ever made such a statement(58). He considered the RDDPP as no good at all, as dead, and that those who still espoused it had gone over to the class enemy. “On the whole”, things might have worked out according to Bolshevik ideas, but on the key questions of whether the socialist revolution could begin in Russia, the class nature of the revolution that would solve the agrarian question, and the necessary governmental slogan, things had worked out “differently”.
Lenin, in April 1917, was clear that what was missing was the subjective factor - the level of understanding of the workers (and their allies). As long ago as 1906, all Russian SDs had predicted that the revolution would triumph as a workers’ revolution or not at all, but only Trotsky had warned that the slogan of the RDDPP might assume a counter-revolutionary character in the very moment when the question of power was posed. Now he had been proved correct. The practical interpretation of Lenin’s theory by the Bolshevik leaders led to serious mistakes being made at the time of the February Revolution, which were only corrected by Lenin after his return. Zinoviev admits this in his tendentious History of the Bolshevik Party:
“This evolution in our views ... proceeded with definite inconsistencies which were to produce amongst us very dangerous differences on the eve of October 1917. Some of us (including myself) for too long upheld the idea that in our peasant country we could not pass straight on to the socialist revolution, but merely hope that if our revolution coincided with the start of the international proletarian one it could become its overture”(59).
Anti-Trotskyists often refer to Lenin’s throw-away comment made at the end of his Concluding Remarks in the Debate Concerning the Report on the Present Situation April 14. In reviewing alternative political positions to his own he said, “Trotskyism: ‘No tsar, but a workers’ government.’ This is wrong. A petty bourgeoisie exists, and it cannot be dismissed”60. This author believes it likely that, as in November 1915 in On the Two Lines in the Revolution (see previous Chapter), there was confusion in Lenin’s mind between the opinions of Trotsky and Parvus but that, in any case, Lenin’s comment was of purely passing interest as he would soon be defending a Bolshevik-only government. In fact, of course, both men recognised that the support of the petty bourgeois peasantry was required if the revolutionary government was to last for any time. However, one academic has suggested that Lenin’s comment was made to protect himself from the charges of “Trotskyism” that some ‘Old Bolsheviks’ were levelling at him(61). If this were so, it would not have been surprising as, at that time, Lenin had no idea that Trotsky would soon accept the necessity of the Bolshevik Party and be standing at his side as his major ally in making the October, socialist Revolution. Of note is that Lenin did not differentiate himself from the most radical of Trotsky’s proposals, that the Russian socialist Revolution would precede the European.
5.3 Trotsky in Early 1917
Trotsky was expelled from France in the autumn of 1916, made his way to Spain, where he spent several months, and from there to America, arriving in New York in January 1917. A succinct synopsis of Trotsky’s writings for the revolutionary newspaper New World (part edited by Nikolai Bukharin) during the period January to March, while Trotsky was in the United States, and then again after his return to Russia in early April, has been given by Thatcher(62). Certainly, until his return to Russia, Trotsky emphasised the international aspect of the world war, and tended to have a perspective in which revolution would break out more-or-less simultaneously in several countries. Lenin, however, saw that the stresses of the war produced uneven responses in the different countries, and correctly deduced that it was much more likely that revolution would break out in one state than do so European-wide.
On his arrival at Petrograd railway station (4 May) Trotsky is reported to have raised the slogans: “Long live an immediate, honest, democratic peace! All power to the Workmen’s Councils! All the land to the people!”(63). The next day he made his first speech to the Petrograd Soviet and argued that the Provisional Government could not, and should not, last for long, because it would not meet the three basic demands of the masses of the Russian people: peace, land to the peasant, and an end to the food shortages(64). Trotsky saw the aim of the Provisional Government as the preservation of the power of the bankers, the factory owners and the landowners, with every likelihood of a restoration of the autocracy. He believed power should be taken by the newly-emerged Soviets who would form a revolutionary workers’ government. In this general perspective he was at one with Lenin and at odds with the Old Bolsheviks.
The unity of thought between Lenin and Trotsky was clear as soon as Trotsky addressed the Petrograd Soviet. Advocating the transferral of all power to the Soviets, while continuing to denounce the war, put Trotsky in Lenin’s camp(65). However, it was Trotsky’s new-found recognition of the indispensability of a revolutionary, disciplined party that placed him unequivocally at Lenin’s side. Trotsky now understood that without the Bolsheviks the Petrograd Soviet lacked the subjective factor necessary to lead a successful revolution(66).
5.4 The April Conferences
It would be pointless to attempt to find any quotation by Lenin in which he specifically said he had been wrong on the question of the RDDPP. Not only was this not the style of the man, as had been shown in the Third (Bolshevik-only) Congress when a radical change towards the peasantry was presented as “nothing”(67), but during 1917 he was too busy with the tasks in hand to spend time on such matters which had, in any case, been decided by the actual revolution. Instead, as would be expected, Lenin took care to emphasise the continuity of the Bolshevik programme.
Even though Lenin played the decisive role in overcoming resistance within the Bolshevik Party to the adoption of an orientation toward the seizure of power and the establishment of a proletarian dictatorship, he was waging a struggle against those who had been his closest allies and who claimed adherence to the political line that he, himself, had introduced into the party and made its major policy for over a decade.
Two conferences were called to determine the party’s perspectives and resolve the differences in the leadership. The first was the Petrograd City RDSLP(B) Conference of 14-22 April, and the second was the Seventh All-Russia Conference of the RDSLP(B) of 24-29 April. Given that all the key players were in Petrograd, the first conference effectively decided the issues, and the All-Russia Conference was more a mopping-up operation and opportunity for re-educating party members. To all appearances, the internal party struggle was over very quickly. The battle was won by the party’s rank-and-file, predominantly workers who stood well to the left of the leadership, who ensured that branch after branch adhered to Lenin’s theses. Liebman describes how the influx of new members “had the effect of crushing the nucleus of ‘Old Bolsheviks’ who claimed to be the guardians of Leninist orthodoxy, crushing them under the weight of new members who had been radicalised by the revolutionary events and were not paralysed by the principles of that othodoxy”(68). Stalin learned this lesson well, the faction fight in the Bolshevik Party after Lenin’s death would be largely decided by just such an influx - but in conditions where careerists, pen-pushers and bureaucrats made up the new recruits.
In February the Bolshevik Party had about 2,000 members in Petrograd. At the opening of the April Conference it had 16,000. These new members were politically raw, often very young (the Bolshevik Party was referred to as ‘the party of kids’ by the Mensheviks), eager for immediate revolutionary action (as the July demonstration would show) and impatient with the Old Bolsheviks(69). These new rank-and-file members, were mainly working class and had not been through the debate of 1905-1907, had never been educated in the perspective of the RDDPP, and instinctively accepted Lenin’s new revolutionary theses: “These worker-revolutionists, only lacked the theoretical resources to defend their position. But they were ready to respond to the first clear call. It was on this stratum of workers, decisively risen to their feet during the upward years of 1912-14, that Lenin was now banking”(70).
In his Report on the Present Situation, at the City Conference, Lenin was clear that the existing Soviets were the implementation of the democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry and were interlocked with the bourgeoisie(71), while ‘Old Bolsheviks’ were locked into the form of the RDDPP at the expense of its revolutionary content.
In his Speech on the Resolution on the Current Situation given at the subsequent All-Russian Conference, Lenin again answered the arguments of Old Bolshevism that the Russian workers could not take power because the objective conditions in Russia did not permit it, by arguing that while it was true that the objective conditions for socialism did not exist in Russia, they did exist on a world scale. The Russian Revolution was not an independent act, but part of the world revolution. If the Russian workers had the possibility of assuming power before the German, French and British workers, then they should do so. Russian workers could begin the revolution, take power, start to transform society on socialist lines, and this would give a powerful impulse to the revolution that was already maturing in Europe. This is remarkably similar to Trotsky’s ToPR. Both men were now arguing that Russia might begin the socialist revolution, and with the help of the workers of Germany, France and Britain, would finish the job. True, it might be argued that a similar sequence of events had been mooted in Two Tactics ..., but then it had been in terms of the RDDPP resulting in a progressive bourgeois regime, whereas now it was in terms of a Russian dictatorship of the proletariat beginning the transition to a socialist regime:
“‘This is a bourgeois revolution, it is therefore useless to speak of socialism,’ say our opponents. But we say just the opposite: ‘Since the bourgeoisie cannot find a way out of the present situation, the revolution is bound to go on.’ We must not confine ourselves to democratic phrases; we must make the situation clear to the masses, and indicate a number of practical measures to them, ... When all such measures are carried out, Russia will be standing with one foot in socialism”(72).
Just what were these practical steps that would place Russia with one foot in socialism? Lenin listed: nationalisation of the land, state control over the banks and their amalgamation into a single bank, control over the big capitalist syndicates (sugar, coal and metal), and a progressive income tax(73). Just as Trotsky had foreseen in 1906, the taking of relatively simple, bourgeois-democratic measures (which included ‘land to the peasants’) would, in a revolutionary situation, require the dictatorship of the urban workers and could not be separated from the first steps towards socialism.
In 1917 Lenin saw the actual RDDPP - admittedly without Bolshevik leadership - first failing to undertake any of the fundamental bourgeois-democratic revolutionary tasks and, later, playing an actively counter-revolutionary role. The key tasks of the RDDPP, as described in 1905, were to have been: the calling of a Constituent Assembly, the introduction of a radical land reform programme, the implementation of the RDSLP minimum programme, and the end of autocracy. The RDDPP had become a reality in 1917, it had been implemented, tested, and found wanting.
Lenin considered the RDDPP an essential part of his strategy between 1905-1917, but we have the luxury of hindsight. The majority leadership of the Bolshevik Party, instead of using Lenin’s Marxist method, took Lenin’s schema to justify their plan of action. No matter how vehement Lenin was, in 1905, in defence of his position, it can now be seen that in 1917 the RDDPP, as realised in the Soviets between February and July, became actively counter-revolutionary and would have to be replaced by the dictatorship of the proletariat if the essential task of the bourgeois-democratic revolution - the end of feudal relations on the land - was to be carried through. This is, of course, quite the opposite viewpoint from Kamenev and the other Old Bolsheviks, who argued that because the agrarian revolution had hardly begun, the call for a proletarian revolution was impermissible.
In an entry into his Diary dated 25 March, 1935, Trotsky wrote:
“Had I not been present in 1917 in Petersburg, the October Revolution would still have taken place - on the condition that Lenin was present and in command. If neither Lenin nor I had been present in Petersburg, there would have been no October Revolution: the leadership of the Bolshevik Party would have prevented it from occurring - of this I have not the slightest doubt! If Lenin had not been in Petersburg, I doubt whether I could have managed to overcome the resistance of the Bolshevik leaders.”(74).
In this passage, Trotsky is referring to the political struggle within the Bolshevik Party. Quite correctly, he takes as his starting point the crucial significance of Lenin’s reorientation of the Bolshevik Party in April 1917. Without his overcoming the resistance of Old Bolshevik leaders to a strategic change in the political orientation of the Bolshevik Party, the revolution would not have been successful.
At the Seventh All-Russian Conference the draft of a new party programme was discussed and Lenin later proposed a revised version(75). Bukharin’s comments are illuminating as he made clear that, in 1917, he saw the victory of the revolution could be achieved only through the victory of the working class, the overthrow of the capitalists, and the establishment of working class rule(76). And how was this overthrow of the capitalists expressed in the changes made to the RDSLP programme (of 1903)? The following are two important additions to the original.
First, Lenin sited the Russian Revolution in the context of the world socialist revolution:
“The extremely high level of development which world capitalism in general has attained, .... (has) transformed the present stage of capitalist development into an era of proletarian socialist revolution. ...
Objective conditions make it the urgent task of the day to prepare the proletariat in every way for the conquest of political power in order to carry out the economic and political measures which are the sum and substance of the socialist revolution”(77).
The second change specifically rejected a bourgeois parliamentary democratic republic, the governmental goal of the RDDPP:
“The party of the proletariat cannot rest content with a bourgeois parliamentary democratic republic, ...
The party fights for a more democratic workers’ and peasants’ republic, in which the police and the standing army will be abolished and replaced by the universally armed people, by a people’s militia; all officials will be not only elective, but also subject to recall at any time upon the demand of a majority of the electors; all officials, without exception, will be paid at a rate not exceeding the average wage of a competent worker; parliamentary representative institutions will be gradually replaced by Soviets of people’s representatives (from various classes and professions, or from various localities), functioning as both legislative and executive bodies”(78).
This second point is doubly important since it was a cornerstone of Lenin’s rebuttal of Kautsky’s criticisms that he (Lenin) opportunistically opposed the Constituent Assembly in December 1917 and January 1918, only after it became clear that the Bolsheviks did not have a majority. In The ... Renegade Kautsky, Lenin states that as soon as he arrived in Russia he “proclaimed the superiority of the Paris Commune-type state over the bourgeois parliamentary republic” and, more than that, directly counter-posed the Commune-type state to bourgeois democracy at the RDSLP(B) conferences held in April 1917, which accordingly adopted resolutions to the effect that a proletarian and peasant republic was superior to a bourgeois parliamentary republic, and that the Bolshevik Party would not be satisfied with the latter(79).
5.5 “All Power to the Soviets”
On 10 April, Lenin had unambiguously stated, “This revolution took the first step towards ending the war; but it requires a second step, namely, the transfer of state power to the proletariat, to make the end of the war a certainty”(80). This was the position endorsed at both the Petrograd City Conference and the Seventh All-Russia Conference. The major theme at both conferences had been a fight against the RDDPP, a struggle against Old Bolshevism with its attempts to fit reality to Lenin’s old schemas. The goal was now a Commune-type state, the strategy was maintenance by the Bolsheviks of complete organisational and political independence, and an action plan based on the slogan “All Power to the Soviets”.
The key to Lenin’s position, and from which the slogan “All Power to the Soviets” flowed, had been stated in his Letter on Tactics: The first task that faced the Bolshevik party in the Soviets was to split off the anti-defencist, internationalist, ‘Communist’ elements who stood for a transition to a commune-type state, from the SRs, Mensheviks and other defencists, who were opposed, and were in favour of supporting the bourgeoisie and the bourgeois government(81).
The strategic task facing the Bolshevik Party in April was not the immediate seizure of power, but overcoming the insufficient class-consciousness and organisation of the proletariat and peasantry, the winning of the masses to a revolutionary perspective. Lenin understood that these lessons must come from experience, but that in a revolutionary situation the working class learns very quickly. Even before the April Conferences, Lenin had reduced the question of taking power to a struggle for influence within the Soviets, and emphasised the need for patient, persistent, explanatory work adapted to the actual needs of the masses(82). From this flowed the slogan All Power to the Soviets.
To avoid confusion it needs to be made clear that the governmental goal of Lenin (and Trotsky) was a Workers’ and Peasants’ Government with the broadest possible base. The Petrograd City Conference, in its Resolution on the Attitude Towards the Provisional Government, determined that “all state power” should pass to the Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies, and to this end prolonged work was necessary to extend the power of the Soviets to all of Russia, and to raise the class consciousness of both urban and rural proletarians, which would be demonstrated by the increased representation of the Bolshevik Party in the Soviets(83). While Lenin did not directly address this aspect in what he wrote, it was absolutely clear that his entire declared strategy rested on the Bolsheviks gaining the support of the majority of the working people, as reflected in winning the leadership of the Soviets.
The same resolution was passed at the All-Russian Conference and further elaborated in Lenin’s Report on the Current Situation:
“We are all agreed that power must be wielded by the Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies. ... This would be a state of the Paris Commune type. Such power is a dictatorship, i.e. it rests not on law, not on the formal will of the majority, but on direct, open force. ... This form (Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies) represents the first steps towards socialism and is inevitable at the beginning of a socialist society. ... The Soviets must take power not for the purpose of building an ordinary bourgeois republic, nor for the purpose of making a direct transition to socialism. This cannot be. What, then, is the purpose? The Soviets must take power in order to make the first concrete steps towards this transition, steps that can and should be made.
... The first measure the Soviets must carry out is the nationalisation of the land. ... The alternative is: either the Soviets develop further, or they die an ignominious death as in the case of the Paris Commune. If it is a bourgeois republic that is needed, this can very well be left to the Cadets”(84).
For Lenin, the route to power was for the Bolsheviks to win the political lead in the Soviets, and place the poor peasants, the agricultural labourers, soldiers, and workers under their leadership. In his speeches and articles in the period April-June, while dual power existed, Lenin repeatedly demanded All Power to the Soviets. In this way the reformist leaders of the Soviets would either end feudal relations on the land or stand exposed before Russia’s peasant masses; to either end the war or lose their base among, particularly, the soldiers. The slogan All Power to the Soviets was an educational slogan that was part of Lenin’s strategy of patiently explaining to the masses that the Bolsheviks were the only party capable of meeting their needs. It was intended to expose the limitation of the reformist leadership, and help win the masses to Bolshevism. As Trotsky explained:
“The correlation of forces inside the Soviets at the time was such that a Soviet Government would have meant, from a party point of view, the concentration of power in the hands of the SRs and Mensheviks. We were deliberately aiming at such a result, since the constant re-elections to the Soviets provided the necessary machinery for securing a sufficiently faithful reflection of the growing radicalisation of the masses of the workers and soldiers. We foresaw that after the break of the Coalition with the bourgeoisie the radical tendencies would necessarily gain the upper hand on the Soviets. In such conditions the struggle of the proletariat for power would naturally shift to the floor of the Soviet organisations, and would proceed in a painless fashion”(85).
The slogan of all power to the Menshevik and SR-led Soviets was by no means a return to the theory of the RDDPP, since the goal was now not a bourgeois-democratic state, but the first steps towards the beginnings of a socialist transformation of society. The slogan All Power to the Soviets was used to win the mass of the population, who still had confidence in the SR and the Menshevik leaders, away from the democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry, and towards the Bolshevik Party and the goal of a Commune-type state, precisely by exposing the refusal of the Mensheviks and SRs to break with the Provisional Government, end the war, and resolve the land question.
5.6 July Days and Consequences
The refusal of the Mensheviks and SR-led Soviets to take power and move the revolution forward allowed the forces of reaction to re-group. The result was the “July Days”. While workers and soldiers were demonstrating on the streets demanding peace, the Provisional Government launched a new offensive against the Germans on 1 July. On 3 July, sailors, soldiers and workers of Petrograd, incensed at the moves to send them to the front to be slaughtered, spontaneously poured out onto the streets of the capital, their numbers increasing as the day went on. The demonstration started with a meeting “of several thousand machine gunners”(86) who then took to the streets and drew in the workers and soldiers of Petrograd whose anger had been raised to boiling point by the announcement of the offensive. The Bolshevik Central Committee decided to restrain the movement, as the lessons of 1905 told them, quite rightly, that an uprising in Petrograd at that time would be isolated from the rest of Russia. Comrades were hastily dispatched to the factories and barracks to prevent the masses from coming out onto the streets, but it was too late.
On 4 July, more than half a million thronged the streets of Petrograd with no order, aim or leadership but with the Bolsheviks straining to keep things within limits. The Soviet leaders manoeuvred and gained Kerensky time to bring in reliable troops from the front. The arrival of loyal detachments from the Izmailovsk, Semenovsk and Preobrazhensk regiments was the signal for a counter-revolutionary offensive led by the Soviet leaders. “The Bolsheviks were declared a ‘counter-revolutionary party’. Later, when the loyal troops had arrived and disarmed the rebel units, the middle classes gave vent to their fury. ... On the night of July 5, the offices of Pravda were wrecked by government forces. The Bolshevik papers were suppressed. Rebel units were sent to the front to be massacred. Suddenly, the pendulum was swinging violently to the right.”(87). On 6 July, the government issued an order for the arrest of Lenin, who immediately went into hiding.
After the events of 4 July, Lenin considered that “power has passed into the hands of the counter-revolution”(88). That is, the actual RDDPP had not only failed to accomplish any significant bourgeois-democratic reforms, but had ceded power to the Provisional Government and had, itself, become a counter-revolutionary force. After the July Days, from about mid-July onwards, Lenin determined that a peaceful transition of leadership to the Soviets was no longer possible. From mid-July, beginning with On Slogans, up to October, he published a series of articles which explicitly stated “the revolutionary proletariat must independently take over state power”(89). There were several articles along these lines, the two titles which most clearly indicated his thinking being The Bolsheviks Must Assume Power(90), and Can the Bolsheviks Retain State Power?(91).
After 4 July the emphasis of Lenin’s writings shifted from a more general argument that the Soviets take the power, to quite specifically arguing that the Bolshevik Party could and should take the power. Any doubt on this matter is dispelled on reading Letter to I. T. Smilga(92), Advice of An Onlooker(93) and Lenin’s various letters to Bolshevik committees, etc. The following passage shows that quite soon after the July Days, Lenin determined that the proletariat should take both political (governmental) power and state power. Whereas in 1905 the Soviets were to collaborate with the revolutionary bourgeoisie to bring about a progressive bourgeois state, in 1917 such collaboration made the victory of the revolution impossible:
“Now, after the experience of July 1917, it is the revolutionary proletariat that must independently take over state power. Without that the victory of the revolution is impossible. The only solution is for power to be in the hands of the proletariat, and for the latter to be supported by the poor peasants or semi-proletarians. And we have already indicated the factors that can enormously accelerate this solution.
Soviets may appear in this new revolution, and indeed are bound to, but not the present Soviets, not organs collaborating with the bourgeoisie, but organs of revolutionary struggle against the bourgeoisie.”(94).
In saying the revolutionary proletariat must independently take over state power, Lenin had arrived at the same conclusions concerning the direction of the revolution, as Trotsky had in 1906. That is, the alliance of the proletariat and the poor peasantry which would take the bourgeois-democratic revolution to its conclusion could be achieved only through the dictatorship of the proletariat. Trotsky and the Inter-District Group of which he was a leading figure, were formally accepted as members of the Bolshevik Party at the Sixth Party Congress in July-August 1917. Unfortunately, Trotsky was in prison and so missed this important occasion, robbing posterity of his appreciation of the event(95).
By August 1917 Lenin was propagating an openly permanentist line, and argued that there could be no solution to the land question in Russia under bourgeois democracy. On 29 August, 1917, he wrote From a Publicist’s Diary which clearly and unambiguously places him as a permanentist:
“You do not have to give these demands a lot of thought to see that it is absolutely impossible to realise them in alliance with the capitalists, without breaking completely with them, without waging the most determined and ruthless struggle against the capitalist class, without overthrowing its rule.
The Socialist-Revolutionaries are deceiving themselves and the peasants precisely by assuming and spreading the idea that these reforms, or similar reforms, are possible without overthrowing capitalist rule, without all state power being transferred to the proletariat, without the peasant poor supporting the most resolute, revolutionary measures of a proletarian state power against the capitalists. ...
Indeed, confiscation of all private land means the confiscation of hundreds of millions in capital belonging to the banks to which the greater part of this land is mortgaged. How can any measure like this be taken without the revolutionary class overcoming the capitalists’ resistance by revolutionary methods? Moreover, it is here a question of the most highly centralised capital of all, bank capital, which is connected through billions of threads with all the nerve centres of the capitalist economy of a huge country and which can be defeated only by the no less centralised might of the urban proletariat”(96).
This reference to the bourgeois-democratic demand of land to the peasant being realised only after the seizure of power by the armed proletariat, being possible only after the overthrow of capitalist rule, is a more radical version of Permanent Revolution than that proposed by Trotsky in 1906. If Lenin was correct in August 1917, then the RDDPP could never have been the process whereby the land would be distributed to the peasants. Trotsky started with the specificity of Russia, and it would take the Chinese debacle of 1925-27, before he generalised his ToPR. Lenin, on the other hand, would later present the history of the October Revolution to the Communist International, from which all colonial and semi-colonial countries could draw pertinent lessons. In this sense, one could argue that Permanent Revolution as an internationally applicable theory owes more to Lenin than to Trotsky.
Lenin was confident of victory because, as he had already observed, not a single important task of the revolution had been accomplished by the Provisional Government or their reformist allies leading the Soviets. All indications were that events were continuing to accelerate and that the country was fast approaching a situation when the majority of the working people would have to entrust their fate to the revolutionary proletariat. “The revolutionary proletariat will take power and begin a socialist revolution”(97). Lenin was confident that the proletarian state power would win over the army and the peasants as an estate:
“What would such a dictatorship mean in practice? It would mean nothing but the fact that the resistance of the Kornilov men would be broken and the democratisation of the army restored and completed. Two days after its creation ninety-nine per cent of the army would be enthusiastic supporters of this dictatorship. This dictatorship would give land to the peasants and full power to the local peasant committees. How can anyone in his right senses doubt that the peasants would support this dictatorship?’(98).
Lenin concluded that only the revolutionary proletariat led by the Bolshevik Party would be able to actually confiscate the land; the SRs, the traditional peasant party, had allied itself with the capitalists, and was actively betraying the peasants’ interests. Only the workers could, and would, give the peasants what they wanted; only the workers while upholding their own interests could, at the same time, protect the interests of the vast majority of the peasants against the capitalists:
“If the land is confiscated, that means the domination of the banks has been undermined, if the implements are confiscated, that means the domination of capital has been undermined -- and in that case, provided the proletariat rules centrally, provided political power is taken over by the proletariat, the rest will come by itself, as a result of ‘force of example’, prompted by experience. The crux of the matter lies in political power passing into the hands of the proletariat”(99).
What Lenin understood from at least July 1917, was that without the leadership of the Bolsheviks, without the proletariat holding governmental and state power - that is the bands of armed men who gave the state its authority being loyal to Bolshevik Soviets - the bourgeois-democratic revolution could not be carried to completion. Of course, the Bolshevik, proletarian dictatorship would initially carry through the very same programme that Lenin had originally proposed for the RDDPP. The qualitative difference was that Lenin now argued that this bourgeois-democratic programme could only be carried through once the Bolsheviks held state power, with or without any alliances they might make. The government that emerged from the Soviets might, for a short period, be two-class (see later), but the decisive decisions would be determined by the proletarian elements, and state power would most definitely be in the hands of the proletariat. This is the very essence of Trotsky’s ToPR.
After General Kornilov’s failed coup attempt, many rank and file SRs and Mensheviks switched their loyalties to the Bolsheviks, and in the first week of September, control of the Petrograd Soviet passed to the Bolsheviks. Lenin revived the slogan All Power to the Soviets, but with the clear and publicly-declared aim of the Bolshevik Party alone taking the leadership because, by that time, he considered proletarian revolutionary power and Bolshevik power, one and the same thing(100). The slogan now meant All Power to the Bolshevik Soviets. The party was on the path of armed insurrection in the name of the Soviets, having gained a majority within them peacefully(101).
Actually, during the attempted coup, Lenin offered a united front to the Mensheviks and SR parties against Kornilov. At first sight this might be seen as an attempt to revive the slogan All Power to the Soviets and return to the Menshevik and SR led RDDPP as it existed from February to July. Lenin imposed only two conditions; (i) full freedom of propaganda for the Bolsheviks (which would have included freedom to criticise the vacillations and weakness of Kerensky, freedom to call for arming the Petrograd workers, etc.), and (ii) the Mensheviks and SRs would form a government responsible solely and exclusively to the Soviets. Formally, Lenin made the same offer of All Power to the Soviets that he had before July. However, while preserving the same form, now the context and content of the offer were very different. In September Lenin was convinced that the Bolsheviks would obtain a clear majority in the Soviets in the immediate future, and so the emphasis of his proposal was not on ‘exposing’ the Mensheviks and SRs, but pulling them into a government, the programme of which was to be immediate peace, immediate land to the peasants, and the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat that would take the first steps towards socialism(102). This would have helped ensure the most peaceful transition possible to a Workers’ and Peasants’ Government. However, by Monday 4 September, Lenin concluded, that the opportunity for such a development of the revolution had passed, and the offer was never made.
5.7 The Class Character of the October 1917 Revolution and the Nature of the Resulting State
The acid test of any theory is how well it measures up to reality. It has been seen that in Lenin’s 1905 theory of the provisional RDDPP, the Russian bourgeois-democratic revolution would take place prior to the solution of the agrarian question, would hopefully inspire a successful socialist revolution in Western Europe which would guarantee the gains of the bourgeois-democratic revolution, and would lead to the Russian socialist revolution. However, in 1917, in the run-up to the October Revolution, Lenin saw the immediate goals of the Bolshevik Party as taking state and governmental power, initiating the dictatorship of the proletariat, taking the first steps towards socialism and solving the agrarian question as a by-product of the proletarian, socialist revolution. Here the 1905 schema is turned on its head and, in accord with the ToPR, the Russian socialist revolution precedes the European.
The tactics and methods by which Lenin and the Bolsheviks waged their struggle immediately prior to October 1917, ensured the Bolshevik Party took power, that is, the Bolshevik Party alone took power. There was no call for, nor necessity of, an alliance with any other party to carry through the revolution. The bodies of armed men that comprised the power of the resulting state were the Red Guards, and those sailors and regiments within the army supporting the Bolsheviks.
In September, Lenin first demanded that the Bolshevik Party proceed immediately with the insurrection(103). In October, Lenin insisted that the Revolution be planned, organised and led independently of the Soviets, that to wait for the endorsement of the Congress of Soviets would be both a “disgrace and a betrayal”(104). In his theses for the Petrograd Conference of 8 October, Lenin wanted the Party to press ahead with the insurrection, that to wait for the Congress of Soviets was to fall prey to constitutional illusions(105). A direct consequence of Lenin’s insistence that the revolution should be directed by the Central Committee of the RDSLP(B), and that the Bolshevik party alone took power, was that the initial government following the October Revolution was a Bolshevik-only government. In fact, contradicting the theory of the RDDPP, what Lenin proposed narrowed the base of the revolution.
However, the Central Committee did not accept the insurrection should be carried out in the name of the party and instead, following Trotsky, linked the insurrection with the forthcoming Second Soviet Congress. This difference of opinion was not a question of principle, but rather a tactical and psychological issue which, almost certainly, reflected the two men’s experiences in 1905. Trotsky was determined to gain maximum support and co-operation from the Left SRs, the Menshevik Internationalists and non-aligned delegates to the Soviets. Lenin feared that the opportunity for insurrection could be lost, fears that the behaviour of Kamenev and Zinoviev would prove justified. It was Trotsky, proponent of the ToPR, who sought to include representatives of the peasant party in the actual struggle for power. It was Lenin who was lukewarm and who, by no stretch of the imagination, indicated the Left SRs were essential to either the uprising or the resulting regime.
Lenin’s proposals showed that, quite contrary to the spirit of the RDDPP, he saw no need for any co-ordination of effort with the peasantry in the armed uprising. The urban working class would take the power alone. It was Trotsky who argued that to organise the insurrection and carry it out under the slogan of defending that Soviet Congress, would have the huge advantage of giving the insurrection a legal cover in the eyes of all the non-Bolsheviks in the Soviets. “... under the slogan of a struggle for the Second Soviet Congress we won over to our side the bayonets of the revolutionary army and consolidated our gains organisationally”(106). The October Revolution was so bloodless because of Trotsky’s strategy.
The initial Workers’ and Peasants’ Government that was formed following the October Revolution was a Bolshevik-only government. The Bolsheviks invited the Left SRs to join as junior partners, but the offer was initially refused in the hope of pressurising the Bolsheviks to bring all the socialist parties into a coalition government(107). The Left SRs did join the government, but not until mid-December, and withdrew only three months later - they wished to continue the war, and would not agree to the peace conditions negotiated by the Bolsheviks. During this time there was a two-class government, but it should be noted that the Left SRs joined the government after the major bourgeois-democratic task (land to the peasants) had been accomplished and withdrew well before the bourgeois-democratic tasks were completed. [Two small groups split from the Left SRs and remained in government with the Bolsheviks.]
Lenin’s open letter written in early November 1917 (one month before the Left SRs joined the government), makes clear the process by which the Left SRs found themselves in the government, the conditions placed on their role in government, and the specific weight Lenin placed on gaining their support:
“The majority at the Second All-Russia Congress of Soviets belonged to the Bolshevik Party. Therefore the only Soviet Government is the one formed by that Party. ... the Central Committee of the Bolshevik Party ... summoned to its session three of the most prominent members of the group of Left Socialist-Revolutionaries, ... and invited them to join the new government. We very much regret that the Left Socialist-Revolutionary comrades refused ... We are ready at any moment to include Left Socialist-Revolutionaries in the government, but we declare that, as the majority party at the Second All-Russia Congress of Soviets, we are entitled to form the government, and it is our duty to the people to do so.
Everybody knows that the Central Committee of our Party submitted a purely Bolshevik list of People’s Commissars to the Second All-Russia Congress of Soviets, and that the Congress approved this list of a purely Bolshevik government.
The statements to the effect that the Bolshevik government is not a Soviet Government are therefore pure lies, and come, and can come, only from the enemies of the people, from the enemies of Soviet power. On the contrary, now, after the Second All-Russia Congress of Soviets, and until the Third Congress meets, or until new elections to the Soviets are held, or until a new government is formed by the Central Executive Committee, only a Bolshevik government can be regarded as the Soviet Government.”(108)
The evidence is incontestable - Lenin welcomed support from the Left SRs but did not consider it essential in order to form a government. The Bolsheviks took power through an armed uprising and formed a government, both without support of the Left SR Party. Whatever the relative numerical strengths of the Bolsheviks and the Left SRs, Lenin was in favour of an alliance with them, but not reliance on them. In the same letter, Lenin also described the conditions set on the participation of the Left SRs in the government:
“We agreed, and still agree, to share power with the minority in the Soviets, provided that minority loyally and honestly undertake to submit to the majority and carry out the programme, approved by the whole Second All-Russia Congress of Soviets, for gradual, but firm and undeviating steps towards socialism”(109).
That is: any party could join the government if it agreed to enact core Bolshevik policy as accepted by the Second Soviet Congress. It should be remembered that the fundamental agricultural policy - land to the peasant - was enacted by this Bolshevik-only government some two months before the peasant party joined, making the participation of a peasant party in the Workers’ and Peasants’ Government desirable, but not essential. The departure of the Left SRs from the government had no resonance in the countryside and the news of their departure was received without any recorded dissent amongst the peasant masses.
Radkey describes the Left SRs as, largely, a party of the peasant soldiers who, he estimated, comprised two-thirds their support. This was an important factor in the rapid disintegration of the Left SRs after their withdrawal from the government in mid-March 1918. Peace now, and land to the peasant were what the soldiers wanted, and it was the Bolsheviks who gave these to them, not the Left SR leadership. In fact, Bolshevism better represented the interests of the soldier base of the Left SR Party, than did the Left SR leadership. “The soldiers and sailors who at first had followed the Left SRs now streamed into the Bolshevik fold”110.
Here is how Trotsky described the Left SRs in his History of the Russian Revolution,
“... the Left Social Revolutionaries ... split off in the form of an independent party, to inscribe in the book of revolution one of its most fantastic pages. This was the last flare-up of self-sufficient intellectual radicalism, and a few months after October there remained nothing of it but a small heap of ashes”(111).
For Lenin to emphasise the Bolshevik nature of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Government, and to adopt a certain ‘take it or leave it’ attitude towards the only peasant party willing to participate, must - given his previous emphasis on the necessity for an alliance between workers and peasants - indicate that he considered the Bolsheviks had enormously increased their influence in the countryside. Here is what Lenin had to say about how the Bolsheviks won the peasantry away from their traditional loyalty to the SRs, both Left and Right:
“.. the proletariat can, and must, at once, or at all events very quickly, win from the bourgeoisie and from petty-bourgeois democrats ’their’ masses, i.e., the masses which follow them - win them by satisfying their most urgent economic needs in a revolutionary way by expropriating the landowners and the bourgeoisie. ...
That is exactly how the Russian proletariat won the peasantry from the Socialist-Revolutionaries, and won them literally a few hours after achieving state power; a few hours after the victory over the bourgeoisie in Petrograd, the victorious proletariat issued a ‘decree on land’, and in that decree it entirely, at once, with revolutionary swiftness, energy and devotion, satisfied all the most urgent economic needs of the majority of the peasants, it expropriated the landowners, entirely and without compensation.
To prove to the peasants that the proletarians did not want to steam-roller them, did not want to boss them, but to help them and be their friends, the victorious Bolsheviks did not put a single word of their own into that “decree on land”, but copied it, word for word, from the peasant mandates (the most revolutionary of them, of course) which the Socialist-Revolutionaries had published in the Socialist-Revolutionary newspaper”(112).
While Lenin may have been a little optimistic in writing that the Bolsheviks won the support of the peasantry in just a ‘few hours’, his analysis is clear - the Bolsheviks won the support of the peasantry, and won it quickly. The Bolsheviks alone could embody the necessary alliance between workers and peasants because only the dictatorship of the proletariat could end feudal relations in agriculture. In March 1918 Lenin reminded delegates to the Soviets that the Left SRs had remained in the SR Party until the previous October, during the period when it was acting as an agent of imperialism and keeping the war going. He went further, “the party of the Left SRs is losing votes, it deserves to, ... (it) is the same soap bubble amongst the peasantry as it proved to be amongst the working class”(113).
Interestingly, the party which received the majority of the peasant vote, 37 out of 43 provinces, and so could be said to be the party representing the peasants in the countryside - the SR Party - never offered any serious opposition to the Bolsheviks. With the decree on land the Bolsheviks emasculated the SRs. Later, after January 1918, the SR Party sealed its demise by calling for the Constituent Assembly to be the government, which the peasants saw as a threat to their occupation of the land. The SR Party which had already lost the support of most peasant soldiers in all but the most far-flung armies by the October Revolution [support for which was the cause of the split with the Left SRs], subsequently lost the support of the peasants in the villages(114).
In The Constituent Assembly Elections and the Dictatorship of the Proletariat, Lenin describes his thinking in the run-up to the October Revolution, and the calculations he made of the forces on which the Bolsheviks could rely, and those that would be opposed to the armed insurrection. He explains that the Bolsheviks were victorious because they had behind them the vast majority of the proletariat (especially the most class-conscious, energetic and revolutionary sections), the support of the two metropolitan cities, and an overwhelming majority in the armed forces nearest to Moscow and Petrograd. That is, the Bolsheviks had an overwhelming superiority of forces at the decisive points at the decisive moment. He goes on to say that the armies which appeared loyal to the SRs, were on the Rumanian and Caucasian fronts, far from the main cities. If the Bolsheviks successfully took governmental power into their hands through armed insurrection, they would have the time and opportunity to win the peasants and the remainder of the army rank and file away from the SR Party. He said “the victorious proletariat issued a ‘decree on land’, and in that decree it entirely, at once, with revolutionary swiftness, energy and devotion, satisfied all the most urgent economic needs of the majority of the peasants, it expropriated the landowners, entirely and without compensation.”(115). But he was unambiguous, land to the peasant - the key bourgeois-democratic demand - was carried out by a Bolshevik-only government, after the assumption of power by the proletariat, after the victory of the proletarian, socialist revolution. His description of actual events bears an uncanny resemblance to Trotsky’s predictions made in Results and Prospects, ”The proletariat in power will stand before the peasants as the class which has emancipated it.”
A complete list of the articles in which Lenin referred to the October Revolution as socialist and the state that resulted as the dictatorship of the proletariat, could be useful but there are just too many. Following are six passages selected by the author as typical and an accurate representation of Lenin’s assessment.
14 November 1917:
“... the full implementation of all the measures constituting the law on land is possible only if the workers’ socialist revolution which began on October 25 is successful, for only the socialist revolution can ensure the transfer of the land to the working peasantry without compensation. ...
A necessary condition for the victory of the socialist revolution, which alone can secure the lasting triumph and full implementation of the law on land, is the close alliance of the working and exploited peasantry with the working class - the proletariat - in all the advanced countries”(116).
13 December 1917:
“There can be no doubt at all that the October Revolution, carried out by the workers, peasants and soldiers, is a socialist one”(117).
10-18 January 1918:
“We are far from having completed even the transitional period from capitalism to socialism. We have never cherished the hope that we could finish it without the aid of the international proletariat. We never had any illusions on that score, and we know how difficult is the road that leads from capitalism to socialism. But it is our duty to say that our Soviet Republic is a socialist republic because we have taken this road”(118).
6-8 March 1918:
“The Revolution of October 25, 1917 in Russia brought about the dictatorship of the proletariat, which has been supported by the poor peasants or semi-proletarians ... confronts the Communist Party in Russia with the task of carrying through to the end, of completing, the expropriation of the landowners and bourgeoisie that has already begun, and the transfer of all factories, railways, banks, the fleet and other means of production and exchange to ownership by the Soviet Republic ...”(119).
“How is it that one of the most backward countries of Europe was the first country to establish the dictatorship of the proletariat, and to organise a Soviet republic?”(120).
7 November 1919:
“We accomplished instantly, at one revolutionary blow, all that can, in general, be accomplished instantly; on the first day of the dictatorship of the proletariat, for instance, on October 26, 1917, the private ownership of land was abolished without compensation for the big landowners - the big landowners were expropriated. Within the space of a few months practically all the big capitalists, owners of factories, joint-stock companies, banks, railways, and so forth, were also expropriated without compensation. The state organisation of large-scale production in industry and the transition from “workers’ control” to “workers’ management” of factories and railways - this has, by and large, already been accomplished; but in relation to agriculture it has only just begun”(121).
It is possible to go on and on. One looks in vain for Lenin to analyse or describe post-October Russia in terms qualitatively different from those above. Lenin consistently referred to the October Revolution as socialist, with a Workers’ and Peasants’ Government resting on the dictatorship of the proletariat. Of course, the October Revolution was a democratic revolution in terms of the first tasks it had to carry out, and in that sense, was a great democratic revolution - but the bourgeois-democratic tasks could be completed only because the state power was the dictatorship of the proletariat, supported by the mass of peasants. The strictly bourgeois-democratic tasks, e.g., votes for women, abolition of the autocracy and ending feudal relations on the land, had to be implemented, but now they intermingled with the first steps towards socialism, e.g., workers’ control and nationalisation of the banks.
Lenin in his published works, repeated many times that the Bolshevik, proletarian, socialist revolution did not skip the bourgeois-democratic stage of land to the peasant. This was obviously true (private ownership of land was abolished, land became the property of the whole people and passed to those who cultivated it) and was the basis for Bolshevik support amongst the peasantry. Much more importantly, he also claimed that the Bolshevik Revolution was a necessary pre-requirement for carrying through the Russian bourgeois-democratic revolution to its end.
Lenin, with Trotsky, organised the October Revolution and brought into power the first dictatorship of the proletariat. Lenin, Trotsky, and all the Bolshevik leaders agreed that the dictatorship of the proletariat began in Russia with the October Revolution. The Russian Revolution was the beginning of the international revolution and was openly socialist in its objectives right form the start. The issue is not so much the immediate tasks that the Bolsheviks set themselves, but the goals they served. Lenin was convinced that the Bolshevik Party, having seized state and governmental power, had set in motion events that would take the revolution into the countryside, but he knew that real processes took time, and did not even suggest socialist measures in the countryside until the summer of 1918.
1. Lenin, V.I., The Dual Power, April 1917, CW 24:38. A review of the reasons why the Bolsheviks could have the support of the majority of the core proletariat but be a small minority in the soviets can be found in Longley, D.A., Iakovlev’s Question, in Revolution in Russia, ed. Frankel E.R., CUP, 1992, pp365-387
2. Leibman, M., Leninism Under Lenin, Merlin Press, London, 1975. p114
3. Lenin, V.I., Imperialism the Highest Stage of Capitalism, Jan-June 1916, CW 22:85- 304
4. Lenin, V.I., Ibid, CW 22:231- 231
5. Harding, N., Lenin’s Political Thought, Vol 1 Theory and Practice of the Democratic Revolution, Macmillan Press, London, 1977, p6
6. Harding, N., ibid p75
7. Carr, E.H., The Bolshevik Revolution, 1917-1923, Pelican, 1983. Vol 2 p34
8. Cliff, T.C., Lenin: All Power to the Soviets,, Pluto Press, 1975, p82
9. Sukhanov, N.N., The Russian Revolution 1917 A Personal Record, Oxford University Press, London, 1955, p5
10. Trotsky, L.D., History of the Russian Revolution. Three volumes, Sphere Books Ltd, London, 1967, Vol 1 p122
11. Trotsky, L.D., Ibid, Vol 1 p1
12. Harding, N., Lenin’s Political Thought, Vol 2 Theory and Practice of the Socialist Revolution, Macmillan Press, London, 1981, p11
13. Pipes, R., The Russian Revolution, Harvill Press. London, 1997, p340
14. Pipes, R., Ibid, p326-327
15. Sukhanov, N.N., The Russian Revolution 1917 A Personal Record, Oxford University Press, London, 1955, p18 and p54-55
16. Pipes, R., op cit, p287-290
17. Woods, A., Bolshevism the Road to Revolution, Wellred Publications, London, 1999, p509 - 511
18. Guchkov, Minister of War quoted in Chamberlin, W.H. The Russian Revolution, , Grosset & Dunlap, NY, 1965, Vol 1:435
19. Sukhanov, N.N., The Russian Revolution 1917 A Personal Record, Oxford University Press, London, 1955, p 8-9 and 12
20. Lenin, V.I., The Revolution in Russia and the Tasks of the Workers in all Countries, March 1917, CW 23:350-354, for details of composition of the Provisional Government
21. Cliff, T.C., Lenin: All Power to the Soviets,, Pluto Press, 1975, p97
22. Sukhanov, N.N., op cit p43
23. Leibman, M., Leninism Under Lenin, Merlin Press, London, 1975, p117
24. Woods, A., op cit, p517
25. Both quoted in Liebman, M., op cit, p127
26. Quoted in Liebman, M., op cit, p123
27. Quoted in Carr, E.H., The Bolshevik Revolution, 1917-1923, Pelican, 1983, Vol 1, p75
28. White, J.D. Lenin The Practice and Theory of Revolution, Palgrave, 2001. P130-131
29. Longley, D.A., The Divisions in the Bolshevik Party in March 1917, Soviet Studies, 1972, 24(2) pp61-76
30. Lenin, V.I., The Tasks of the Proletariat in the Present Revolution, April 1917, CW 24:21-26
31. Trotsky, L.D., History of the Russian Revolution. Three volumes, Sphere Books Ltd, London, 1967, Vol 1 p273
32. Lenin, V.I., Draft Theses, March 4 1917, March 1917, CW 23:287-291
33. Lenin, V.I., Telegram to the Bolsheviks Leaving for Russia, March 1917, CW 23:292
34. Lenin, V.I., Letters from Afar, March 1917, CW 23:295-342
35. Editors Note 127, CW 23:407
36. Lenin, V.I., Letters from Afar, March 1917, CW 23:341
37. Carr, E.H., The Bolshevik Revolution, 1917-1923, Pelican, 1983. Vol 2 p34 (Carr is quoting from Third Letter from Afar, CW 23:323 March 1917)
38. Lenin, V.I., Draft Theses, March 4 1917, March 1917, CW 23:289
39. Lenin, V.I., Letters from Afar, March 1917, CW 23:308
40. Lenin, V.I., Ibid, CW 23;332
41. Lenin, V.I., To Our Comrades in Prisoner of War Camps, March 1917, CW 23:348
42. Lenin, V.I., Letters from Afar, March 1917, CW 23;330
43. Lenin, V.I., ibid, CW 23:341
44. Lenin, V.I., ibid, CW 23:340
45. Lenin, V.I., The Tasks of the Proletariat in the Present Revolution, April 1917, CW 24:21-26
46. Lenin, V.I., Ibid, CW 24:22
47. Lenin, V.I., Ibid, CW 24:22-23
48. Lenin, V.I., Ibid, CW 24:23
49. Raskolnikov Kronstadt and Petrograd in 1917, New Park Publications, London, 1982, p76
50. Lenin, V.I., The Tasks of the Proletariat in the Present Revolution, April 1917, CW 24:24
51. Carr, E.H., The Bolshevik Revolution, 1917-1923, Pelican, 1983. Vol 1 p91
52. Krupskaya, N., Memories of Lenin, Panther History, 1970, p297
53. Quoted in Lenin, V.I., Letters on Tactics, April 1917, CW 24:50
54. Quoted in Sukhanov, N.N., op cit, p289
55. Lenin, V.I., Report at a Meeting of Bolshevik delegates to the All-Russian Conference of Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies, April 1917, CW 36:437
56. Lenin, V.I., Letter on Tactics, April 1917, CW 24:45
57. Lenin, V.I., ibid p24:44 and 50
58. Barnes, J. Their Trotsky and Ours: Communist Continuity Today, Fall 1983, New International, Vol 1, No 1, p 63
59. Zinoviev, G., History of the Bolshevik Party, New Park Publications, London, 1973, p177-178
60. Lenin, V.I. Concluding Remarks in the Debate Concerning the Report on the Present Situation April 14., April 1917, CW 24:150
61. Frankel, J., Lenin’s Doctrinal Revolution of April 1917, Jnl of Contemporary History, 1969, 4(2)117-142
62. Thatcher, I. D., Trotsky, Routledge, London and New York, 2003, p78-92
63. Trotsky, L.D., Trotsky on the Platform in Petrograd www. marxists.org/archive/trotsky/works/1918/ourrevo/index.htm
64. Trotsky, L.D., Speech in the Soviet Against the Coalition Government in The Age of Permanent Revolution: A Trotsky Anthology, Dell Publishing Co Inc, New York, 1964, p97
65. Nelson, H.W., Leon Trotsky and the Art of Insurrection, Frank Cass, England, 1988, p95
66. Knei-Paz, B., The Social and Political Thought of Leon Trotsky, Clarendon Press Oxford, 1978, p228
67. Lenin, V.I., Report on the Resolution on the Support of the Peasant Movement, April 1905, CW 8:400-404
68. Liebman, M., op cit, p134
69. Woods, A., op cit, p545
70. Trotsky, L.D., History of the Russian Revolution. Three volumes, Sphere Books Ltd, London, 1967, Vol 1 p306
71. Lenin, V.I., Report on the Present Situation, April 1917, CW 24:142-143
72. Lenin, V.I., Speech in Favour of the Resolution on the Current Situation, April 1917, CW 24:308
73. Lenin, V.I., ibid 24:307
74. Trotsky, L.D., Diary in Exile, Atheneum, New York, p46-47
75. Lenin, V.I., Materials Related to the Revision of the Party Programme, May 1917, CW 24:459-479
76. Bukharin, N. and Preobrazhensky, E., ABC of Communism, University of Michigan Press, 1966, p22
77. Lenin, V.I., Draft of a Revised Programme, May 1917, CW 24:469
78. Lenin, V.I., Ibid, CW 24:461
79. Lenin, V.I., The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky, Oct-Nov 1918, CW 28:265
80. Lenin, V.I., Tasks of the Proletariat in our Revolution, May 1917, CW 24:67
81. Lenin, V.I., Letter on Tactics, April 1917, CW 24:45
82. Lenin, V.I., Ibid, CW 24:49
83. Lenin, V.I., Resolution on the Attitude Towards the Provisional Government, April 1917, CW 24:155
84. Lenin, V.I., Report on the Current Situation, April 1917, CW 24:242
85. Trotsky, L.D., The Russian Revolution in Essential Trotsky, London, 1963, p37
86. Trotsky, L.D., History of the Russian Revolution. Three volumes, Sphere Books Ltd, London, 1967, Vol 2 p26
87. Woods, A., op cit, p563
88. Lenin, V.I., On Slogans, July 1917, CW 25:187
89. Lenin, V.I., Ibid, CW 25:188
90. Lenin, V.I., The Bolsheviks Must Assume Power, September 1917, CW 26:19-21
91. Lenin, V.I., Can the Bolsheviks Retain State Power, October 1917, CW 26:87-136
92. Lenin, V.I., Letter to I. T. Smilga, September 1917, CW 26:69-73
93. Lenin, V.I., Advice of An Onlooker, October 1917, CW 26:179-181
94. Lenin, V.I., On Slogans, July 1917, CW 24:191
95. Thatcher, I. D., op cit, p87-88
96. Lenin, V.I., From a Publicists Diary, August 1917, CW 25:280
97. Lenin, V.I., The Beginning of Bonapartism, July 1917, CW 25:226
98. Lenin, V.I., One of the Fundamental Questions of the Revolution, September 1917, CW 25:376
99. Lenin, V.I., From a Publicists Diary, August 1917, CW 25:285
100. Lenin, V.I. Advice of an Onlooker, October 1917, CW 26:179
101. Woods, A., op cit, p583
102. Lenin, V.I., On Compromises, September 1917, CW 25:309:314
103. Lenin, V.I., Marxism and Insurrection, September 1917, CW, 26:27
104. Lenin, V.I., Letter to the Central Committee, the Moscow and Petrograd Committees and the Bolshevik Members of the Petrograd and Moscow Soviets, October 1917, CW 26:141
105. Lenin, V.I., Ibid, CW 26:144
106. Trotsky, L.D., Lessons of October in The Challenge of the Left Opposition Pathfinder Press, New York, 1975, p241
107. Daniels, R.V., Red October, Secker and Warberg, London, 1967, p202-203
108. Lenin, V.I., From the Central Committee of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party (Bolsheviks), November 1917, CW 26:303-4
109. Lenin, V.I., Ibid, CW 26:307
110. Radkey, O.H., Sickle Under the Hammer, Columbia University Press, New York, 1963, p137
111. Trotsky, L.D., History of the Russian Revolution. Three volumes, Sphere Books Ltd, London, 1967, Vol. 3, p279-280
112. Lenin, V.I., The Constituent Assembly Elections and the Dictatorship of the Proletariat, December 1919, CW 30:264-5
113. Lenin, V.I., Extraordinary 4th All-Russian Congress of Soviets March 14-16 1918, Reply to the debate on the Report on Ratification of the Peace Treaty, March 1918, CW 27:193 [Lenin is referring to a passage in the SR paper three days after the insurrection “The Bolshevik ... adventure like a soap bubble will burst at the first contact with hard facts” quoted in A. Kopp Town and Revolution London 1967, 1-2]
114. Radkey, O.H., The Sickle Under the Hammer, Columbia University Press, 1963, p451
115. Lenin, V.I., The Constituent Assembly Elections and the Dictatorship of the Proletariat, December 1919, CW 30:265
116. Lenin, V.I., Draft Resolution for the All Russian Congress of Peasant Deputies, November 1917, CW 26:327-8
117. Lenin, V.I., Speech at the Extraordinary All-Russian Congress of Railwaymen, December, 1917, CW 26:384,
118. Lenin, V.I., Third All-Russian Congress of Soviets of Workers’, Soldiers’ and Peasants’ Deputies, January 1918, CW 26:465
119. Lenin, V.I., Extraordinary Seventh Congress of the RCP(B), March 1918, CW 27:139
120. Lenin, V.I., The Third International and its Place in History, April 1919, CW 29:307-308
121. Lenin, V.I., Economics and Politics in the Era of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat, November 1919, CW 30:109