What next? After the July Days

Leon Trotsky’s pamphlet What Next? published in Petrograd in September 1917.


Since the July 1st offensive [1] on the external front there begins a retreat of the Revolution on the internal front. This retreat, led by the official democracy, assumed, after the events of July 16-17, the character of a panic. At this moment it presents a somewhat more orderly appearance, without, however, ceasing its flight. The war is devouring the Revolution before our eyes. And as the generals control the war, they attempt to take all actual power into their own hands.

At what point is this to stop? The making of a prognosis requires that we ask ourselves what is the nature of the forces that are engaged in a struggle on the political stage, or are – surrendering without a struggle. That is the object of this study.

The first two chapters were written before the Moscow Conference. We have not altered them in any way. In our attempt to prognosticate the function and consequences of the Moscow solemnity, we proceeded, not from the statements of leaders and the declarations of newspapers (never, it seems, have leaders and newspapers lied as they lie now), but from class interests and political activities: the latter method, which has the recommendation of Marx, is infinitely more reliable.

Even after the Provisional Government had disarmed revolutionary Petrograd [2], and set up the Cossack ’Landes’ over the red banners, it did not dare enrage the workers by the sight of a Conference which was stigmatized as of Government, not to say ’anti-popular’. The ’Live wires’ were invited to pious and peaceful Moscow. But the Moscow proletariat received the uninvited guests with a strike or protest and contempt . And, thus vindicated, the proletariat of Petrograd breathed freely on that day.

With the permission of the Moscow Worker-Comrades, I am dedicating this brochure to them.

Leon Trotsky
August-September 1917


by Louis C. Fraina

The events of August [1] marked the lowest depths of the Revolution. Reaction had scored heavily, and, behind the screen of the dictatorship of the “Socialist” Kerensky, the Cadets, and other still more sinister forces of the pro-imperialist bourgeoisie, were preparing for the coup d’etat that would annihilate the Soviets – and the Revolution. The moderate Executive Committee of the All-Russian Soviets had approved of Premier Kerensky; but this was insufficient, as it was necessary for Kerensky’s purposes to secure a mandate from “all the classes”; and, accordingly, the Government convoked a National Conference [2], which convened at Moscow on August 26. The Conference was not only to “broaden the base” of the Provisional Government, it was equally an expression of Kerensky’s Bonapartist [3] policy. [In an article in Pravda at the time, Zinoviev pointed out that the Cadets were at first suspicious of the Moscow Conference considering it a part of Kerensky’s Bonapartist policy, the policy of a dictatorship merging both forces in him self. And this was precisely the purpose of the Conference, although the Cadets finally participated. – L.C.F.] The composition of the Conference was over whelmingly conservative, reactionary and counter-revolutionary.

The delegates to the National Conference were carefully chosen, the Bolsheviks, naturally, being excluded. The four Dumas [4] – and their character is clear, being expressions of the timid opposition legally allowed under the Czar – were represented by 188 members; the other delegates included 100 representatives of the Peasants, 229 representatives of the Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Delegates, 147 delegates from the Municipalities, 113 representatives from the banks and industrial organizations of capital, 313 representatives of cooperative organizations, and 176 representatives of trades unions. [These are the figures given in A.J. Sack’s The Birth of Russian Democracy (NY 1918 – Ed.) from which source also are given extracts from the speeches delivered at the Conference (with the exception of the final quotation from Kerensky). – L.C.F.] The delegates of the Soviets consisted of moderates from the Menshevik and Social-Revolutionary parties.

At the Conference a concerted attack was made upon the Soviets and the Revolutionary Democracy, although it was not driven to a conclusion. It was a preliminary offensive. The representatives of the Soviets were on the defensive. Kerensky, in opening the Conference, declared:

“The Provisional Government has not called you together here to discuss questions of programme, or, still less, to allow any attempts, from whatever sources they may come, to take advantage of the present Conference or the exceptionally difficult position of the Russian state, or to encourage any attempts to undermine the power of the Provisional Government.”

But the plea of Kerensky – for in spite of its assuming the form of an ultimatum, it was nothing but a plea – was unavailing. His speech was a mass of generalities, attacks upon the Right and Left alternating with concessions to the Right and Left; and his statement, “We are determined that Russia shall be ranked among the World Powers”, evoked boisterous applause.

Minister of Finance Nekrasov made an attack upon the Revolution’s evil influence upon the finances, declaring that the money being expended by the Food Supply Committees and for wage increases was ruining the state and country, and should be stopped. General Kornilov, Commander-in-Chief of the armies, emphasized the disintegration of the army, and urged drastic measures to restore discipline, among these measures being the practical abolition of the soldiers’ committees. He attacked the measures of the Provisional Government introducing democracy into the army, and concluded with a covert threat of allowing an invasion of the country in order to compel the introduction of the necessary measures:

“If decisive measures for the improvement of discipline at the front followed as a result of the devastation of Tarnopol and the loss of Galicia and Bukovina, we must not allow that order in the rear should be a result of the loss of Riga, and that order on the rail roads be restored at the price of surrendering Moldavia and Bessarabia to the enemy.”

General Kaledin, of the Cossacks, was even bolder than Kornilov, making direct attacks on the Socialist ministers, and suggested the following measures:

“1. The army must be kept out of politics. All meetings and Assemblies with their party antagonisms must be absolutely forbidden at the front.

“2. All councils and committees in the army must be abolished at the front as well as behind the lines, except those of the regiments, companies, pisions and other military units, and their rights and duties must be strictly limited to the management of the soldiers’ economic affairs.

“3. The Declaration of Soldiers’ Rights must be revised and amplified by a declaration of his duties.

“4. Discipline in the army muut be restored and strengthened by more decisive tneasures.

“5. To insure the fighting capacity of the army, the front and the rear must be recognized as one whole, and all measures required for strengthening discipline at the front must also be applied to the rear:

“6. The disciplinary rights of superior officers must be restored to them. (Applause)

“7. The army leaders must have their full authority restored.

“8. At this terrible hour of great reverses at the front and complete disintegration springing from political and economic disruption, the country can be saved from final ruin only by placing full power in the hands of firm, experienced and skilled people not bound by narrow party or group programmes, (Loud applause on the Right) not hampered by the necessity of turning back after every step in order to find out whether the various committees and councils ap prove or disapprove of their acts, (Restlessness on the Left, Applause on the Right) and who fully recognize that the people as a whole and not separate parties or groups are the sources of sovereign power in the State.

“9. The Central, as well as local, Government must be unpided. A stop must be put immediately and abruptly to the usurpation of power by the central and local committees and Councils.” (Vigorous protest on the Left. Shouts ‘Down with him!’ ‘Counter-Revolutionary!’ Enthusiastic applause from the Right)

Chkheidze, President of the Central Committee of the All-Russian Soviets, answered Kaledin and defended the Soviets, declaring that the revolutionary democracy “has always placed the interests of the country and the Revolution above the interests of separate classes and groups ... Only due to the revolutionary organizations has the creative spirit of the Revolution been preserved; that is saving the country from dissolution and anarchy.” But Chkhiedze’s answer was not an answer to the problem, since the status quo was itself responsible for the prevailing situation: the status quo had to be destroyed either by the bourgeoisie or by the revolutionary proletariat. The measures proposed by General Kaledin were unavoid able if the army was to be restored, but the introduction of these measures, under the prevailing conditions, would have necessarily meant the abolition of the Soviets as the active force of the Revolut ion, the conversion of the army into a counter-revolutionary instrum ent, and a dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. The attacks upon the Provisional Government emphasized that the end of the Soviets equally meant the end of the “liberal” government of the pro-imperialist bourgeoisie: the Provisional Government itself assailed by the Right. The lament of the former Minister of War Guchkov that the Provisional Government was without power revealed the situation clearly: The Soviets had the power and the Provisional Government could have power only with the destruction of the Soviets.

It was this abolition of the Soviets that was being engineered. The Cadets challenged the Soviets to assume full responsibility for the government, or else cease their “advisory” function. But the Mensheviks and Social-Revolutionists cravenly evaded the challenge : neither a dictatorship of the proletariat nor a dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. Miliukov and Nabokov refused to participate in the Ministry, feeling that the annihilation of the Soviets was first necessary.

The Moscow Conference was called as a pledge of national unity and to promote national unity: it simply revealed the acute disunity and intensified the antagonisms. Nothing of a practical character was accomplished by the Conference, and Kerensky’s final address indicated the depth of the failure:

“The Government does not regret having called this Conference, for although it has not secured political results, it has given an opportunity to all Russian citizens to say openly what they have on their minds. And that is essential for the state.”

Louis C. Fraina
October, 1918


1. Events of August:

2. State Conference at Moscow: Held at the Bolshoi Theatre on August 26-28th, 1917, was Kerensk’s attempt to consolidate his position with the Rightist elements. He claimed to have invited all the “live forces” of Russia. Although the Bolsheviks were excluded, D. B. Ryazanov was able to obtain a mandate as a representative of the trade unions, and made a Bolshevik declaration at the Conference. If Kerensky had hoped that by choosing Moscow as the venue, he would escape the pressure of the militant working class of Petrograd, defeated and disarmed as they were after the July Days, he was mistaken. The Bolshevik organization of Moscow called for a one day protest strike, some 400,000 workers answered the call, and the strike became general. (For figures other than those given by Fraina, see Lenin Collected Works, International Publishers, Vol.XXI, Book I, p.287.)

3. Bonapartism: Engels defines the “basic conditions of modern Bonapartism – an equilibrium between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat the real governmental authority lies in the hands of a special caste of army officers and state officials The independence of this caste, which appears to occupy a position outside and, so to speak, above society gives the state the semblance of independence in relation to society (The Housing Question, Part II, Section 2. Selected Works, Moscow Edn. Vol. I, p.548.)

And again: “By way of exception, however, periods occur in which the warring classes balance each other so nearly that the state power, as ostensible mediatbr, requires for the moment a certain degree of independence of both. Such was the absolute monarch of the 17th and 18th Centuries, which held the balance between the nobility and the class of burghers: such was the Bonapartism of the First and still more of the Second French Empire, which played off the proletariat against the bourgeoisie and the bourgeoisie against the prolertariat (The Origin of the Family and Private Property, Selected Works, Moscow Edn., Vol.II, p.290)

(See also: Trotsky: Bonapartism and Fascism, August 1934

4. The Four Dumas: The Duma was tbe “parliament” of Czarist Russia, elected by a limited and complicated franchise. Even this limited concession was one of they victories of the defeated 1905 Revolution – Russia had Soviets before it had a parliament.

The Firsty Duma lasted 10th May to 21st July 1906.

The Second, from 5th March to 16th June 1907.

The Third from November 14th 1907 to June 1912, was the only Duma to last the full term.

The Fourth elected in 1912, was dissolved by the Czar on March 12, 1917, the day after the Petrograd Soviet started functioning. The Duma refused to disperse and elected a Provisional Committee rthe same night, headed by Rodzianko. The Provisional Committee in turn forced they Czar to abdicate. The Duma continued to exist until the Provisional Governrnent dissolved it after the Kornilov uprisingy. (There had been five Bolshevik members of the 4th Duma, but they had been exiled in 1915 for their opposition to the war.)


No one can satisfactorily explain why there is to be a Conference at Moscow. More than that: all those who are to take part in the Conference declare, truthfully or otherwise, that they do not know what can be the purpose in inviting them to Moscow. At the same time, almost all express themselves in terms of suspicion and contempt when speaking of the Conference. But just the same they are all going. What can be the reason?

If we omit the proletariat, which occupies a position of its own, the participants in the Moscow Conference may be divided into three groups: the representatives of the capitalist classes, the petty bourgeois organizations, and the government.

The propertied classes have their most complete representation in the Constitutional Democratic Party, the Cadets. Backing them are the great landholders, the organizations of trade, industrial capital, the financial cliques, the university faculties. Every one of these groups has its own interests and its own political prospects. Yet the common danger that threatens them all is from the masses of the workers, peasants, and soldiers, and this danger drives the capitalist classes into one great counter-revolutionary union. Without suspending their monarchic intrigues and conspiracies, the court, bureaucratic and general staff circles nevertheless consider it to be at present imperative that they should support the Cadets. And the bourgeois liberals with suspicious glances askance at the monarchist clique, at present place a very high value on their support against the Revolution. In this way the Cadet party is becoming a sort of general representative for all varieties of greater and lesser property interests. All the demands of the propertied classes, all the extortions of the exploiters, are at present blended in the capitalist cynicism and the imperialist insolence of Miliukov. His policy is to lie in wait for all the false steps of the revolutionary regime, all its faults and mishaps, availing himself for the present of the “collaboration” of the Menshevik Socialists and the Social Revolutionists, to compromise them by this collaboration, and to bide his time. And behind Miliukov’s back, the Czarist Gurko is biding his time.

The pseudo-democracy of the Social Revolutionist and Menshevik type rests on the peasant masses, the petty bourgeoisie of the cities and the more backward workers. In this connection it should be noted that the further events develop, the clearer it becomes that the strength of the combination is in the Social Revolutionists, while the Mensheviks are the fifth wheel on the wagon. Being led by these two parties, the Workers’ and Soldiers’ Soviets, which were elevated to tremendous heights by the cataclysmic convulsions of the masses, are rapidly losing their importance and retrograding to oblivion. And why? Marx has pointed out that when History bestows a heavy punch on the nose of the petty “big guns” of the Philistines, they never seek the cause of their undoing in their own insolvency, but invariably uncover someone’s malice or intrigue. Accordingly, Tseretelli grasps at the “conspiracy” of July 16-18, as the “straw” that explains the miserable failure of his whole policy. When the Social Revolutionary and Menshevik Liebers, Gotzes and Voitinskys preserved order from “anarchy”, which, by the way, was not being threatened, these gentlemen firmly believed that, like unto the geese that had saved the Capitol,[1] they should be given a reward. And, when they observed that the contempt the bourgeoisie showed them in-creased in direct proportion to their peace-making zeal toward the proletariat, they were dumbfounded. Tseretelli, the same Tseretelli who was such an accomplished juggler with trite commonplaces, found himself cast to the waves as too revolutionary an incumbrance. It was perfectly plain: the Machine-Gun Regiment [2] had “spoiled” the Revolution (by refusing to obey Kerensky’s order to march to the front except under certain conditions and by participating in the events of July 16-17).

And if Tseretelli and his party appeared in the ranks of the counter-investigators, of Polovtsov and the military cadets, helping them to disarm the workers in the interests of the counter-revolution, the fault cannot lie with Tseretelli’s political game, but rests on the shoulders of the Machine-Gun Regiment which the Bolsheviks had led astray. Such is the philosophy of history professed by the political bankers of the Philistines!

As a matter of fact, the days of July 16, 17 and 18 became a turning point in the development of the Revolution, for the reason that they exposed the complete inability of the leading parties of the petty bourgeois democracy to take power into its hands. After the miserable breakdown of the coalition government, there appeared to be no other alternative than an assumption of power by the Soviets. But the Mensheviks and the Social Revolutionists hesitated. To assume power, they reasoned, would mean a break with the bankers and diplomats – a dangerous policy. And when, in spite of the ominous meaning of the events of July 16-18, the leaders of the Soviet continued running after the Efimovs, the propertied classes could not fail to understand that the policies of the Soviet were waiting upon them very much as a little shopkeeper waits upon a banker, namely, with hat in hand. And that is what put courage into the counter-revolution.

The whole previous history of the Revolution is in the so-called “dual power”. [3] This designation, given by the liberals, is, in truth, very superficial. The matter is not exhausted when you say that beside the government stood the Soviet, which discharged a considerable number of government functions; for the Dans and Tseretellis did all in their power to annihilate, “painlessly”, this pision of power, by handing over everything to the government. The fact really is that behind the Soviets, and behind the government, there stood two different systems, each resting upon different class interests.

Behind the Soviets stood the workers’ organizations, which were displacing, in every factory, the autocracy of the capitalists, and establishing a republican regime in industry, which was incompatible however, with the capitalist anarchy and demanded an irrevocable state control of production. In defence of their property rights the capitalists sought assistance from above, from the government, pushed it with ever-increasing energy against the Soviets, and compelled it to accept the conclusion that it did not possess an independent apparatus, i.e., instruments of repression against the working masses. Hence the lamentations over “dual power.”

Behind the Soviet stood the electoral organization in the Army; and all the rest of the administration of the soldier democracy. The Provisional Government, keeping step with Lloyd George, Ribot and Wilson, recognizing the old obligations of Czarism, and proceeding by the old methods of secret diplomacy, could not but meet with the active hostility of the new army regime. The opposition from above had pretty nearly lost its effect by the time it reached the Soviet. Hence the complaints of “dual power”, especially on the part of the General Staff.

Finally, the Peasant Soviet also, in spite of the miserable opportunism and the crude chauvinism of its leaders, was subject to an increasing pressure from below, where the confiscation of land was assuming a form that became all the more threatening, the more the government opposed them. To what extent the latter was playing the role of a representative of Big Capital is best of all illustrated by the fact that the last prohibitive police ordinance of Tseretelli differed in no respect from the ordinances of Prince Lvoe. And wherever, in the provinces, the Soviets and Peasant Committees would attempt to install a new agrarian regime, they would find themselves involved in a bitter conflict with the “revolutionary” authority of the Provisional Government, which was turning more and more into a watchdog of private property.

The further development of the Revolution resolved itself into the necessity of all power passing into the hands of the Soviet, and the use of this power in the interests of the workers against the property-owners. And the deepening of the struggle against the capitalist classes makes it absolutely necessary to assign the leading role among the toiling masses to their most resolute section, namely, to the industrial proletariat. For the introduction of control over production and distribution the proletariat could appeal to very valuable precedents in Western Europe, particularly in the so-called “War Socialism” of Germany. But as, in Russia, this labour of organization could only be accomplished on the basis of an agrarian revolution and under the supervision of an actually revolutionary power, the control over production and the gradual organization of the latter would necessarily assume a direction that was hostile to the interests of capital. At a moment when the propertied classes were striving, through the Provisional Government, to establish the rule of a “strong” capitalist republic, the full power of the Soviets, as yet by no means synonymous with “Socialism”, would in any case have broken the opposition of the bourgeoisie, and in alliance with the existing productive forces and the situation in Western Europe, would have imposed a direction and a transformation upon economic organization, that would have been in the interests of the toiling masses. Casting aside the chains of capitalist power, the Revolution would have become permanent, that’ is, continuous it would have applied its state power, not to the perpetuation of the rule of capitalist exploitation, but, on the contrary, to its undoing. Its ultimate accomplishments on this field would have depended on the successes of the proletarian revolution in Europe. On the other hand, the Russian revolution might give an all the greater impetus to the revolution in Western Europe, the more resolutely and courageously it put down the opposition of its own bourgeoisie. Such was and such remains the sole and only actual prospect for the further development of the Revolution.

To the phantasts of the philistines, however, this outlook was “Utopian”. What did they want? They have never been able to say themselves. Tseretelli talked a lot about “revolutionary democracy”, without understanding what it really is. It was not only the Social Revolutionists who formed the habit of coasting on the billows of a democratic phraseology; the Mensheviks also cast aside their class criteria as soon as these criteria too clearly exposed the petty bourgeois character of their policy. The rule of “revolutionary democracy” clears up everything and justifies everything. And when the old Black Hundreds [4] stick their dirty fingers into the pockets of the Bolsheviks, they do it in the name of no less an authority than that of the “revolutionary democracy”. But let us not anticipate.

Representing, as they did, the power of the bourgeoisie, or rather the neutralization of power by the means of coalition, the Social Revolutionary and Menshevik democracy actually beheaded the Revolution. On the other hand, by defending the Soviets as their organs, the petty bourgeois democracy actually prevented the government from creating any administrative apparatus in the provinces. The government was not only powerless to do good, but rather wreak in working evil. The Soviets, full of ambitious plans, were not able to carry out one of them. The capitalist republic, which had been planted down from above, and the workers’ democracy which has been shaped from below, paralyzed each other. Wherever they clashed, therefore, innumerable quarrels arose. The minister and the commissaries suppressed the organ of revolutionary self-government, the commanders fumed in rage at the army committees, the Soviets were kept running to and fro between the masses and the government. Crisis followed upon crisis, ministers came and went. The discontent among the masses increased as the repressive measures of authority became more and more fruitless and systemless. From above, all life must have seemed a boiling torrent of “anarchy”.

It was evident that the timid dualism of the rule of the petty bourgeois “democracy” was internally insolvent. And the more profound became the problems of the Revolution, the more painfully manifest did this insolvency become. The whole state structure was standing on its head, or rather, on its two or three heads. An unguarded move on the part of Miliukov, Kerensky or Tseretelli threatened to upset the whole business. And daily the alternatives appeared with greater and greater inevitability: either the Soviet must assume power, or the capitalist government will sweep aside the Soviet. An external shock was all that was needed to destroy the equilibrium of the whole structure. This external shock to a system that was doomed from within came in the form of the events of July 16-18. The petty bourgeois “Idyll”, constructed on an “amicable” union of two mutually exclusive systems, received its deathblow. And Tseretelli was enabled to set down in his memoirs that his plan for the salvation of Russia had been thwarted by the machine-gun Regiment.


1. Geese and the Capitol: According to Roman legend, the sacred geese in the Capitol had saved the fortress from a surprise night attack.

2. The Machine Gun Regiments: The 1st, more militant than the 2nd, had from the beginning supported the Revolution, and taken up quarters in the working class Vyborg District of Petrograd. The 1st led the July demonstrations.

3. Dual Power: From March 11th to November 1917 there were two centres of political power – the soviets of workers, peasants and soldiers, and the Provisional Government. Trotsky called this the period of “dual impotence.” (See Trotsky: The Struggle for State Power.)

4. The Black Hundred Gangs: Taking their names from various medieval guilds (“The Union of the Russian Peoples” etc.) were semi-official monarchist bands which roamed the country since the 1905 Revolution, aiding the official repression by terrorist methods. Very specialized in organising pogroms (from the Russian for devastation) and accounted for an estimated 50,000 Jewish victims.


Your little shopkeeper is a sober-minded man; his chief abhorrence is “taking a risk”. Yet he has at the same time a gorgeous imagination: every little shopkeeper expects to become a Rothschild. This combination of an anaemic sobriety with an impotently riotous imagination is the very essence of the petty bourgeois policy. It would be erroneous to think, wrote Marx, that the representatives of the petty bourgeoisie are invariably grasping hagglers. Far from it, on their own mental level they are greatly superior to the wretched philistine. Yet, “they are made representatives of the ideas of the petty bourgeoisie by the fact that their thoughts do not transcend the sphere in which their lives are cast, and that, therefore, they arrive, in theory, at the same problems and the same solutions, to which the petty bourgeois arrives in practice.”

Sancho Panza is the incarnation of base cowardice. Yet romanticism is by no means foreign to his disposition: otherwise he would never have become the companion of Don Quixote. [1] The cowardice of the petty bourgeois policy is expressed in its most offensive form, in the person of Dan. Tseretelli represents the fusion of this cowardice with romanticism. Tseretelli said to Martov: “Only a fool fears nothing!" The well-intentioned philistine policy, on the other hand, is afraid of everything: they are afraid of arousing the ire of their creditors; they are afraid that the diplomats may take their “pacifism” seriously; but most of all they are afraid of power. Just as “a fool fears nothing”, so the petty bourgeois policy deems it expedient to insure itself against folly by a game of cowardice on all fronts. Yet they do not relinquish their hopes of becoming Rothschilds: having stuck two or three words in Tereschenko’s diplomatic note, they think they have brought peace nearer; they hope to instill into Prince Lvov their own most loyal mediation against the civil war. But the great petty bourgeois peace-maker concludes by disarming the workers, without in any way disarming Polovstev or Kaledin, the counter-revolution. And when this whole policy falls to pieces under the first serious blow, Tseretelli and Dan explain to all who have any desire to believe them, that the Revolution was frustrated, not by the inability of the petty bourgeoisie to take all power into its hands, but by the “insurrection” of the Machine-Gun Regiment.

In the course of many years of controversy concerning the character of the Russian Revolution, the Mensheviks have maintained that the true bearers of revolutionary power in Russia have been the petty bourgeois democrats. We have always pointed out that petty bourgeois democracy is incapable of solving this problem, and that the only power that can guide the revolution to its goal is the proletariat, drawing its strength from the masses of the people. Now History has so decreed that the Mensheviks appeared as the political representatives of petty bourgeois democracy, in order that they might in their own persons exemplify their complete inability to cope with the problems of power, that is, to assume the leading role in the Revolution.

In Rabochaya Gazetta, that organ of counterfeit, Danified, Danicizing “Marxism”, the attempt is made to fix upon us the label of “July Sixteenth Men”. [2] We have every reason to assert that in the July 16th movement, all our sympathies were absolutely with the workers and soldiers, and not with the military cadets, the Polovtsevs, Liebers, and the “snifflers”. [The “snifflers” were a secret service organization created by the military Governor of Petrograd, Col. Polovtsev, with the aid of V. Burtzev and G. Alexinsky, formerly active in the movement against Czarism, but aligned with the counter-revolutionary moderates during the Revolution itself. The purpose of the ’snifflers” was to crush the Bolsheviks. – L.C.F.]

We would deserve contempt were it otherwise. But let the bankrupts of the Rabochaya Gazetta not be too loud in invoking the 16th of July, for that was the day of their political self-destruction. The label “July Sixteenth Men”, if I may use a very mixed metaphor, may be turned against them as a two edged sword, for on July 16th the rapacious cliques of Czarist Russia accomplished a coup d’etat with the purpose of placing all the authority of state in their hands. On the 16th of July, 1917, at the moment of the most serious crisis of the Revolution, the petty bourgeois democrats vociferously declared that they were incapable of taking over the state power. Turning their backs with hatred upon the revolutionary workers and soldiers, who demanded from them the discharge of their most elementary revolutionary duty, the “Sixteenth of July Men” made an alliance with the “Sixteenth of June Men”, with the object of curbing, disarming, and jailing the Socialist workers and soldiers. The treachery of petty bourgeois democracy, its shameful capitulation to the counter-revolutionary bourgeoisie, it is that which disturbed the alignment of power, and not for the first time in the history of the Revolution.

Under these circumstances the last ministry was created, which was designated “the government of Kerensky” [13] is. The irresolute, powerless, shaky regime of the petty bourgeois democracy was transformed into a personal dictatorship.

Under the name of “a dual power” there went on a struggle between irreconcilable class tendencies; the imperialist republic and the workers’ democracy. While the issues of this struggle remained unsolved, it paralyzed the Revolution and inevitably produced the symptoms of “anarchy”. Being led by politicians who are afraid of everything, the Soviet did not dare assume power. The representatives of all the propertied cliques, the Cadet Party, could not yet assume power. What was needed was a great conciliator, a mediator, an impartial referee.

Already in the middle of May, at a meeting of the Petrograd Soviet, Kerensky had been called “the mathematical point of Russian Bonapartism”. This characterization shows, at the very start, that it is not Kerensky that matters, but rather his historical function. It might be somewhat superficial to declare that Kerensky is made of the same stuff as the first Bonaparte; to say the least, it has not been proved. Yet his popularity seems to be more than an accident. Kerensky seems closer to the understanding of all the Pan-Russian philistines. A defender of political prisoners, a “social-revolutionist”, who headed the Laborites, a radical not connected with any Socialist school, Kerensky reflected most fully the first phase of the Revolution, its “national” vagueness, the engaging idealism of its hopes and its expectations. He talked about land and liberty, about order, about the peace of nations, about the defence of the fatherland, about the heroism of Liebknecht, about the fact that the Russian Revolution would astonish the world with its greatness of soul, all the while waving a red silk handkerchief. The half-awakened philistine listened to these speeches with ecstasy: to him it seemed as if he were himself up to the platform talking. The army hailed Kerensky as a deliverer from Guchkov. The peasants heard that he was a Labourite, a delegate of the muzhiks. [4] The extreme moderation of his views, beneath his confused radicalism of phrase, was enough to take in the liberals. Only the more enlightened workers kept at a distance. But their Soviets successfully dissolved into a “revolutionary democracy”.

His freedom from any doctrinal impediment permitted Kerensky to be the first of the “Socialists” to enter the bourgeois government. He was the first to apply the name of “anarchy” to the increasingly insistent social demands of the masses: already in May he had threatened the Finns with the sharpest of reprisals and uttered his high-sounding phrase about “mutinous slaves”, which came as a balm to the hearts of all the injured property-holders. In this way his popularity soon involved a veritable tangle of contradictions, thus properly reflecting the vagueness of the first stage of the Revolution and the hopelessness of the second. And when History was obliged to fill a vacancy in the office of referee, there was no more appropriate man at her disposal than Kerensky.

The historic night session in the Winter Palace [15] was only a repetition of the political humiliation which the “revolutionary" democracy had prepared for itself at the Moscow Conference. In these transactions all the trumps were in the hands of the Cadets; the Social-Revolutionary and the Menshevik democracy, which was gaining successes in all the democratic elections, without exception, and which was frightened to death by these successes, humbly begs the privileged liberals for their collaboration in the government! As the Cadets had not feared on the 16th of July to thrust power on the Soviets, and as, on the other hand, the liberals were not afraid of assuming the power altogether, it is plain that they were the masters of the situation.

If Kerensky was the last word of the impotent Soviet hegemony, it was now necessary for him to stand as the first word of the liberation from that hegemony. For the time being, we shall take Kerensky, but only under the condition that you will sever the umbilical cord connecting him with the Soviet- such was the ultimatum of the bourgeoisie.

“Unfortunately, the debate at the Winter Palace was mere talk and uninteresting talk at that” – was Dan’s complaint in his report to the Soviet.

It is difficult to appreciate the full depth of these complaints on the part of the parliamentarism of “revolutionary” democracy, who left the Tauride Palace[6] is in the evening, still at the helm, and came back empty-handed in the morning. The leaders of the Social-Revolutionists and Mensheviks respectfully laid their share of power at the feet of Kerensky. The Cadets accepted this gift graciously: in any event, they regarded Kerensky, not as a great impartial referee, but only as an intermediary agent. To take all power into their hands at once would have been too dangerous in view of the inevitable revolutionary resistance of the masses. It was much more sensible to hand over to the at present “independent” Kerensky, with the collaboration of the Avksentievs. Savinkovs, and other Social-Revolutionary moderates, the task of paving the way for a purely bourgeois government, with the aid of a system of more savage repressions.

The new coalition ministry – “the Kerensky government" – was formed. At first glance it differed in no wise from the other coalition government, which had so ignobly collapsed on July 16th. Shingariev departed, Kokoshkin arrived; Tseretelli stepped out, Avskentiev stepped in. All the losses in personnel merely emphasized the fact that both sides regarded the Cabinet simply as a stepping stone. But much more important was the radical alteration in the “significance” of the two groups. Formerly – at least “in idea” – the “Socialist” ministers had been considered representative of the Soviets controlled by the Soviets: the bourgeois ministers acted as screens between the Allies and the capitalists. Now, on the other hand, the bourgeois ministers enter, as a subordinate group, into the personnel of the frankly counter-revolutionary bloc of the propertied classes (the Cadet Party, the leaders of trade and industry, the landowners’ league, the Provisional Committee of the Duma [4?], the Cossack Circle, the General Staff, the Allied diplomacy) and the “Socialist” ministers serve simply as a screen against the masses of the people. Meeting with the silence of the Executive Committees of the Soviets, Kerensky succeeded in obtaining ovations by promising not to permit a restoration of the monarchy. So low had fallen the requirements of philistine democracy! Avskentiev called upon all for “sacrifices”, lavishly distributing half-Kantian, half-revival meeting drivel, which was his great stock-in-trade; and as is proper for an idealist in power, in this categorical imperative, he constantly dragged in the Cossacks and the military cadets. And the surprised peasant deputies cast their eyes about in wonderment, observing that before they had a chance to take away the land from the landholders, something was taking away their influence over the power of the state.

The counter-revolutionary general staffs, everywhere supplanting the army committees, were making a very general use of them at the same time for reprisals against the masses, and in this way undermining the authority of the soldier organizations and preparing their downfall. The bourgeois counter-revolution has at its disposal for this purpose its “socialist” ministers, but the latter drag with them in their dizzy fall the same Soviets of which they are now independent, but which are still dependent on the ministers, as before. Having renounced power, the democratic organizations should also have liquidated their authority. Thus all prepared for the advent of Miliukov. And behind him General Gurko is biding his time.

The Moscow Conference obtains all its importance in connection with this general tendency of the political movement in upper circles.

In the last few days the attitude of the Cadets toward the meeting was not only enthusiastic, but even full of distrust. Ill-concealed hostility to the pilgrimage to Moscow was also the attitude of Dyelo Naroda, the organ of that party which was represented in the Government by the Kerenskys, Avskentievs, Savinkovs, Chernovs, and Lebedievs. “If we must go, we’ll go,” Rabochaya Gazetta wrote, with a sigh, like the parrot whom the cat was dragging by the tail. The speeches of the Ryabushinskis, Alexeyevs, Kaledins, etc., and of the ruling “band of charlatans”, were by no means indicative of a readiness for the sacrifice of an embrace with Avskentiev. And finally the government, so the papers said, did not attach any decisive importance to the Moscow Conference. Cui prodest? [7] In whose interrest and for what, was this Conference called?

It was clear as the light of day that it was absolutely directed against the Soviets. The latter are not going to the Conference, they are being dragged thither by lassoes. The meeting is necessary to the counter-revolutionary classes as an aid in finally putting down the Soviets. Why, then, do the responsible organs of the bourgeoisie observe such an attitude of holding-off with regard to the Conference? Because it is necessary first of all to establish the “classless” position of the supreme impartial referee. Miliukov is afraid that Kerensky may depart from the Conference with his position too strongly entrenched, and that consequently Miliukov’s political vacations may be too unpleasantly prolonged. Thus each patriot is preserving the fatherland in his own manner.

As a consequence of the “historic” night in the Winter Palace was born the regime of Kerensky, of sophomoric Bonapartism, let us say. But the Moscow Conference, in its personnel and in its objects, is a reproduction of this historic night in the light of day, so to speak. Tseretelli is fated once more to explain to all Russia that the passing of power into the hands of the revolutionary democracy would be the misfortune and ruin of the Revolution. After this solemn declaration of their own bankruptcy, the representatives of revolutionary democracy will be privileged to listen to a dreadful indictment directed against them, and previously drawn up by Rodzianko, Ryabushinski, Miliukov, General Alexeyev, and the other “live wires” of the country. Our imperialist clique, to whom the government will assign the place of honour at the Moscow Conference, will come out with the slogan: “All power should he given to us!” The Soviet leaders will come face to face with the rapacious appetites of the propertied classes, which threaten them with an uprising of those same workers and soldiers whom Tseretelli disarmed with the catchword “All Power to the Soviets!” In his capacity as Chairman, Kerensky will merely be able to register the actual existence of “disagreement”, and to call the attention of the “interested parties” to the fact that they cannot get along without an impartial referee. Quod erat demonstrandum. [8]

“If I were in the Soviet Central Executive Committee”, confessed the Menshevik Bogdanov, at a meeting of the Soviet Executive Committee, “I should not have called this meeting, for the government will not reach at this meeting the ends at which it is aiming: the strengthening and broadening of its foundation.” It must really be admitted that these Realpolitikers [9] actually do not know the things that are going on with their own active cooperation. After the disintegration of the coalition of July 16th, the refusal of the Soviet to assume power precluded the possibility of the creation of a government on a broad foundation. The Kerensky Government, exercising no control, is in its very nature a government without a social foundation. It was consciously constructed between two possible foundations: the working masses and the imperialist classes. In that lies its Bonapartism. The Moscow Conference has the purpose, once the privileged and democratic parties have been thrown aside, to purpose the personal dictatorship, which, by a policy of irresponsible adventurism, will undermine all the achievements of the Revolution.

For this purpose it is necessary to have an opposition on the left as well as an opposition on the right. It is only important that they should approximately counter-balance each other and that the social conditions should maintain this equilibrium. But that is just they thing that is lacking.

The early Czarism had arisen out of a struggle between classes in the midst of a free society; but beneath all the warring factions and their Czar there was ax stable substructure of labouring workers. The new Czarism seeks the support that is necessary to its existence in the passive inertia of the peasantry; the chief instrument of Bonapartism meanwhile being a well-disciplined army. But in our country not one of these conditions has yet been realized. Our society is permeated with open antagonisms, which have been carried to a point of highest intensity. The struggle between the workers and the capitalists, the peasants and the landholders, the soldiers and the general staff, the suppressed nationalities and the central state power, do not give the latter any elements of stability, unless the government will firmly resolve to link its fortunes with one of the struggling forces. Up to the completion of the agrarian revolution, the attempts at a “classless” dictatorship must of necessity remain of ephemeral nature.

Miliukov, Rodzianko, Ryabushinski want power to be finally lodged with them, that is, to be transformed into a counter-revolutionary dictatorship of the exploiters over the revolutionary workers, peasants and soldiers. Kerensky wants to frighten democracy by means of a counter-revolution, and to frighten the counter-revolution by means of democracy, and then to assure the dictatorship of personal power, out of which the masses will get nothing. But he is reckoning without his host. The revolutionary masses have not yet spoken their last word.


1. Sancho Panza and Don Quixote: Squire and Knight, protagonists of Cervantes’ classic Spanish satire on medieval romanticism. (1605-1615)

2. On June 16, 1907, the 2nd Duma was dispersed by the Czar. After this, the Right Wingers (Cadets, Octobrists, etc.) were called “Gentlemen of June 16th”.

By a coincidence, on June 16th, 1917, the members of the 4th Duma met in conference to explore the possibility of a new offensive and resolved to demand one of the Provisional Government. (See Instead of a Preface, Note 1). Lenin called this “A Conference of Wild Bulls”. (See article of June 22nd, 1917.) On July 16th, 1917, workers and soldiers demonstrated with the slogans “All Power to the Soviets!” etc., (See Calendar of Events), and on the same day the Right Wingers took a decision to disarm the workers and revolutionary soldiers, a decision which was carried out.

3. On July 15th, 1917, the Cadets resigned from the Provisional Government on the Ukrainian issue. Kerensky reshuffled his cabinet and on the 4th of August became Premier. Tseretelli, Minister of the Interior, was the author of the infamous Police Ordinance, under which orders were issued for the arrest of Lenin, Trotsky and others, and it was he who named the new Coalition a “Government of Salvation”! It was proclaimed as such on July 22nd. However, they new Coalition lasted just two weeks.

4. Muzhik: Russian for peasant.

5. The Headquarters of the Provisional Government shifted from the Marinsky Palace to the Winter Palace on 31st July, and it was here that “the historic night session” took place. It was historic only for the reason that the new coalition government lasted only two weeks!

6. Tauride Palace: Built by Potemkin in the time of Catherine, situated between the barracks and the working class district, it housed the Duma in the Right Wing. When the Soviets were formed they met in the Left Wing. In July 1917 the Soviets moved to the Smolny, a school for the daughters of the nobility.

7. Cui prodest?: (Latin) Who gains?

8. Quod Erat Demonstrandum (Q.E.D.): (Latin) Which was to be demonstrated.

9. Realpolitiker: (German) One who works for the glory and interest of the nation above other considerations.


The same struggle is going on, from the very first days of the Revolution, in the matter of war and peace: between the democracy of the workers and peasants, which was taking shape from below, and the imperialist republic, which the propertied classes were trying to construct from above.

The illustrious generals hastened to “recognize” the republic – at least for the time being – firmly expecting that the republic would recognize and perhaps even extend their generalship, by eliminating the Archduke Faineants. [1] The “national” revolution meant, in their eyes, a court coup d’etat to depose Nicholas and his Alix, but to preserve in their entirety class discipline and the military hierarchy. A few days before, the telegraph had announced that the Greek “leader” Venizelos had declared Greece “a republic crowned by a king”! The Brussilovs, Guchkovs, Rodziankos, and Miliukovs, on the contrary, wished to continue Russia as amonarchy, minus the Czar. But evolution proceeded by other, deeper paths. The March uprising of the Petrograd regiments [2] was not the fruit of a conspiracy: it resulted from a universal spirit of mutiny in the whole army and the masses of the people in general. And the uprising of the workers and soldiers was directed not only against a decaying and incompetent Czarism, unable to conduct a war which it had itself conjured up, but against the war itself. The profound break, which the Revolution called forth in the mind and in the conduct of the soldiers threatened not only the directly imperialist aims of the war, but also the very instrument of those aims, the old army, which had been built upon the theory of orders from above, and unquestioning obedience in the ranks.

Now the generals, colonels, the politicians, the bourgeois scribblers rave and rage against Order No.1 [3] In their opinion, the order was not an outcome of an all-pervading ferment in the army, but, on the contrary, the ferment was produced by the order. As a matter of fact, it was only yesterday that the soldiers were still obeying orders and today they have ceased to: is it not clear that they have submitted to some new “order”, which is recorded in the books as “No.1”? This general-staff idiocy is at present substituted in the most extensive bourgeois circles for a real historical point of view.

The so-called disintegration of the army found its expression in the soldiers’ disobedience of superiors and a refusal to recognize this war as their war. It was just because of these circumstances that Kerensky hurled in the face of the awakening army his phrase: “mutinous slaves”. If the bourgeoisie believed that it was enough to substitute Guchkovs for Sukhomlinovs, in order to harness the army anew to the chariot of imperialism then Kerensky, in his philistine superficiality and self-complacency, thought it would be sufficient to remove Gutchkov in order to make the army once more the obedient tool of the government. In truth these were illusions!

The Revolution, from the standpoint of mass psychology, is an application of the standard of reason to inherited institutions and traditions. All the hardships, sufferings, and humiliations, which the war brought in its train to the people, and, more particularly, to the army, were crowned and sanctioned by the will of the Czar. If in Petrograd the Czar himself had been deposed, what was there to prevent the soldiers from shaking off the autocracy of those officers who had been the most zealous and debased of the advocates of the whole system of Czarism? Why should the soldiers not ask themselves the question as to the sense and the object of the war, when the very man on whom formerly had depended the question of peace had been deposed?

The Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Delegates appealed, in a manifesto early in April [4] to be peoples of Europe, summoning them to the struggle for a democratic peace. This was “Order No.1” as far as questions of world policy were concerned. At the time when the manifesto appeared as an answer to the burning, irresistible question: Shall we fight on, and if so, for what? – the imperialists were making believe that, had it not been for this manifesto, this question would never have occurred to the minds of the soldiers, who had been awakened by the thunder of the Revolution.

Miliukov anticipated that revolution would awaken criticism and independence in the army, and would consequently involve a threat to the imperialist aims of the war. In the Fourth Duma he had therefore come out openly against revolution. And when Miliukov now hisses venomously about the “Order”, about that Manifesto, and about the Zimmerwald Socialist Conference [5], saying that these things poisoned the army, it is at least in his case a deliberate lie. Miliukov knows very well that the chief “poison” is concealed not in any of the “orders” of the Soviet, which are at best moderate enough, but in the Revolution itself, which afforded to the sufferings of the masses an expression in the shape of protests, demands, and open contests of force.

The process of internal reconstruction of the army, and the political orientation of its soldier masses, burst forth in a fierce catastrophe at the front. The ultimate cause of this catastrophe is in the contradiction between the imperialist policy, which made use of the Provisional Government as its tool, and the longing of the masses for an immediate and “just” peace. A new discipline and a genuine enthusiasm in the army can be evolved only out of the Revolution itself, out of a courageous solution of its internal problems and its definite struggle with external obstacles. The people and the army, if they felt and were convinced that the Revolution was their revolution, that the government was their government, that the latter would stop at nothing in the defence of their interests against the exploiters, that it was pursuing no external aims of oppression or conquest, that it was not curtsying to the “Allied” financiers, that it was openly offering the nations an immediate peace on democratic foundations, the toiling masses and their army would, under these conditions, be found to be inspired with an indissoluble unity, and if the German revolution would come in time to aid us, the Russian army would fight against the Hohenzollern with the same enthusiasm that the Russian workers showed in defending the gains of the popular movement against the onslaughts of the counter-revolution.

The imperialists feared this path as they feared death, and they were right. The picayune policy of the petty bourgeoisie did not believe in this method any more than the little shop-keeper believes in the possibility of the expropriation of the banks. Renouncing all “Utopias”, that is, the policy of further development of the Revolution, the Social-Revolutionists and Mensheviks continued the very same ruinous dual policy that was to bring about the catastrophe.

To the soldier it was said, and truthfully said, that this was an imperialist war, on both sides, that the Russian Government was bound hand and foot by financial, diplomatic and military agreements, which were hostile to the interests of all the nations; and then they added: “But for the present go on fighting on the basis of the old treaties, hand in hand with the old allies". But the soldier, going under fire “for the present”, meets with death. To go forth to make this supreme sacrifice is possible only for the soldier who has been carried away by the fire of collective enthusiasm; but this state is only attainable only in a condition of complete faith in the righteousness of one’s cause. The Revolution did away with the mode of thought of the unreasoning “sacred cannon-fodder”. No Kornilov, no Kaledin can turn back the course of History and restore the hangman’s discipline, even temporarily, without frightful repressions, tantamount to a prolonged period of bloody chaos. The army can only be preserved in a condition of war-time efficiency by giving it new aims, new methods, a new organization. It was necessary to make all the deductions from the Revolution. The ambiguous, irresolute regime which the Provisional Government, aided by the Social-Revolutionists and Mensheviks, had prepared for the army, bore within it the germs of certain catastrophe. The army had been armed with certain standards and given an opportunity for open criticism. At that moment new goals were set for the army, which manifestly would not bear the stress of revolutionary criticism, and in the name of these goals it was demanded that the army, exhausted, hungry, and unshod as it was, should put forth superhuman efforts. Can there be any doubt of the result, when we remember, in addition, that certain generals of the staff were consciously working for a Russian defeat?

But the Provisional Government intoxicated itself with bombast and empty words. Messieurs les ministres regarded the soldier masses, who were in a state of profound ferment, as the raw material out of which could be made all that was needed in the interests of the imperialists who had crippled our unhappy, devastated country. Kerensky, besought them, he threatened, he went down on his knees, but he did not give the soldiers an answer to a single one of their serious problems. Having fooled himself with cheap oratory, he made sure in advance of the support of the Congress of Soviets, where there prevailed a supercilious petty bourgeois democracy, supercilious in spite of its “watchfulness”, and ordered an offensive. This was, in the literal sense of the word, “Order No.1” of the Russian counter-revolution.

On the 17th of June, we internationalists openly declared ourselves in the Congress of Soviets [6], on the subject of the offensive which was being gotten under way, and, together with a fundamental criticism, we pointed out that in the present state of the army an offensive was a military adventure, which threatened the very existence of the army itself. It transpired that we had seen only too clearly. The government had discounted nothing and foreseen nothing. The government party of Social-Revolutionists and Mensheviks had been hurling denunciations at us instead of availing themselves of our suggestions.

Naturally, as the Bolsheviks had foretold this disaster, blame was put upon – the Bolsheviks. Behind the tragedy which was brought forth by ignorance and irresponsibility there loomed cowardice in all its wretchedness. All the molders of our destinies felt no more urgent duty than to find a scape-goat on whom to put the blame. The semi-official speeches and articles of these days will stand forever as monuments to human baseness.

The hounding of the Bolsheviks may, to be sure, still confuse the issue for a time in the minds of the people. But it cannot eliminate nor in any way weaken the significance of the question of the responsibility of the government. Whether the Bolsheviks are guilty or not, how is it that the government foresaw nothing? It appears to have had no understanding of the very army it had sent into battle. Without for a moment considering whether the army was capable of understanding an offensive, they ordered the army to move forward. And those at the head of the government were not Bolsheviks. Whatever may have been the facts with regard to the latter, the lull weight of the responsibility for the tragic adventure of the offensive is upon the shoulders of the Government of Kerensky, Tseretelli and Chernov. This responsibility is increased by they fact that the warning voices do not at all appear to have come from the camp of the internationalists. The imperialist Novoye Vremya, which has close relations with the reactionary generalstaff, had the following to say, on August 5th, concerning the preparations for the offensive:

The cautious Alexeyev, because he did not wish to hurl unprepared forces into slaughter, because he did not wish to jeopardize for questionable results, the gains already made – was retired. The illusion of success, the longing for an early peace, which Germany should be forced to accept from the Petrograd ringleaders, brought Brussilov to the top of the wave, and promptly submerged him when the billows broke.”

These eloquent lines explain and confirm the confused remarks of Rech, at the time of Alexeyev’s resignation [7], concerning the departure of this “vigilant strategist”, in whose place there is put the “cavalryman” who knows no such thing as reflection. By forcing an offensive, the Cadets saved themselves in time from an imputation of cavalry policy or strategy, and prepared for their ostentatious departure from the July 15th Ministry. And the “Socialist” ministers explained in confidential whispers addressed to the ear of the “revolutionary democracy”, that the change in military leaders which actually resulted from the gamble of the offensive, meant a substitution of the “true democrat” Brussilov for the “monarchist” Alexeyev. Thus is History made.

After having “hurled unprepared forces into slaughter” – to use the language of Novice Vremya – and having come into collision with the frightful consequences, there was nothing left for it but to entrust to Dan, Lieber, and the other patriotic gentlemen, the task of inaugurating a systematic pogrom against the Bolsheviks. This is a portion of the same “creative labour” for national defence which is so well adapted to the shoulders of the aforementioned “leaders”. In their effort to outdo all the bourgeois rowdies, the Dans and Liebers fumed against the “demagogues” who scatter among the “ignorant masses of the soldiers” such slogans as the publication of the secret treaties, a complete break with the imperialists, etc. “That’s right,” the bourgeois rowdies contemptuously corroborate them, “but that applies just as well to Order No.1 and to the manifesto of April, which were demagogically circulated by you among the ignorant masses of the soldiers.” And when the Dans and Liebers, wiping the cold sweat from their brows, strain every effort to recall the most elementary principles of revolutionary thought in defence of the sins of their youth, they discover to their terror that they need only to repeat our words. And that is a fatal point: for our slogans contain nothing but the necessary influences from the development of the Revolution, in the course of which Order No.l and the manifesto of the Soviet are the first milestone.

But the most remarkable thing about the whole business is, at first glance, that in spite of the frightful results of the offensive the “Socialist” ministers continue to set it down to the credit side of their account, and, in their conferences with the bourgeoisie, to refer to the offensive as their great patriotic contribution.

“I ask of you”, shouted Tseretelli at the Moscow Conference, “who could more easily have moved forward the forces of revolutionary Russia – Minister of War Guchkov, or Minister of War Kerensky?” (Shouts of “Bravo!” and applause)

Tseretelli is thus openly boasting of the fact that Kerensky is carrying out the very work that Guchkov would have carried out, but which, as the latter did not have the credit of “revolutionary” democracy to draw on, turned out to be too much for him. And the bourgeoisie in spite of the catastrophe that was called forth by the offensive, gladly recognizes the services of Kerensky.

“We know and shall remember,” declared the Cadet Nabokov, at the Moscow Conference, “that the great burst of enthusiasm in the Russian army two months ago, which in those horrible days added a new glorious page to our history, was inspired by the man who now stands at the head of the Provisional Government. History will never forget his service at this moment.”

It is consequently quite clear that the “glorious page” of the offensive of the 1st of July has no relation whatever to national defence, for the military efficiency of Russia, as the consequence of the offensive, had simply been made worse. If the bourgeoisie nevertheless speaks of the offensive in terms of appreciation, it is for the simple reason that the cruel blow inflicted upon our army as a result of Kerensky’s policy created favourable conditions for the spread of panic and for counter-revolutionary schemes. All the power of the Social-Revolutionary and Menshevik democracy had been exerted in the direction of forcing an offensive, and the latter completely wiped out that regime of contradictions and insolvency, to the support of which the philistine leaders had applied all their narrow-minded ingenuity.

Both the offensive and the question of peace are now being considered by the bourgeoisie and its generals from the angle of internal politics, that is, for the advancement of the counter-revolution. This was most clearly expressed at the Moscow Conference by General Kornilov. “Peace cannot at present be attained,” he said, “if only for the reason that we are not in a position to carry out demobilization. We must first elevate the prestige of the officers.” Inthe army there had been concentrated too many persons armed by the government, who were directing demands to the government, that were all too radical. Only a continuation of the war, regardless of the chances of success, would provide a possibility for “elevating the prestige of the officers,” for regaining control of the military masses, and for assuring a demobilization of such nature as would not enable the soldiers to threaten the pillars of property and imperialist government. And if’ in the pursuit of this object, separate peace should be required, the bourgeoisie would conclude such a peace, without batting an eyelid.

From the 1st of July on, the counter-revolution takes great forward strides, with absolute self-confidence. And it will not stop until a heavy blow is landed on its solar-plexus.


1. Faineants: (French) Idlers, loafers.

2. March Uprising of Petrograd Regiments: From March 8th onwards, the Petrograd Regiment turned against their officers and sided with the revolutionary people. Even the Czar’s hand-picked palace guard deserted him.

3. Order No.1: Dated 14th March 1917, was issued by the Petrograd Soviet, placed all Petrograd regiments under the control of the Soviets. Committees and Soviet representatives were to be elected, saluting off duty was abolished, and orders of the Provisional Committee of the Duma were to be obeyed only if they did not conflict with the orders of the Soviet.

4. April Manifesto of the Soviets: On March 27, 1917, the Petrograd Soviet adopted a Manifesto To the Peoples of the World calling for an end to the War, without characterizing it, however, as an imperialist conflict.

5. Zimmerwald: A conference of European Socialists opposed to the War was held September 5-8th, 1915 in Zimmerwald Switzerland. The Conference issued a manifesto and elected an International Socialist Committee.

6. Congress of Soviets: The First All Russian Congress of Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies met in Petrograd, June 16th to July 17th. The Bolsheviks were in a minority and could not move the Congress to oppose the Provisional Government and to transfer state power to the Soviets.

7. Alexeyev’s resignation: Commander-in-Chief Alexeyev was replaced by Brussilov on June 4th 1917.




There is hardly any room for doubt that the present government which is the incarnation of uncertain andmalevolent incompetence, will not hold out against the Moscow attack, and will suffer new changes. It is not in vain that General Kornilov explains that we need not fear a new crisis of power. Such a crisis at the present moment can be most quickly overcome by a new swing to the right. Whether Kerensky will obtain, under these circumstances, an additional degree of independence from the organized control of the democracy, which will be replaced by an rail the more real “unseen government” of the imperialist cliques; whether the new government will stand in some definite relation with that general staff of the propertied classes which will be created without a doubt by the Moscow Conference; what is to be the share of the “socialist” Bonapartists in the new government combination all these are questions of secondary importance. But even if the bourgeois attack should be repulsed and the Moscow Conference should culminate in a new stepping out from the government on the part of the Cadets, the arrogated power of the “revolutionary democracy” would be by no means equivalent to a real revolutionary-democratic power. Bound hand and foot by their obligations against workers and soldiers in reserve, the official leaders of the Soviet would be obliged to continue their policy of double-dealing and opportunism. By leaving the ministry, Konovalov simply shifted his mission to the shoulders of Skobelev. [1] The Kerensky-Tseretelli Ministry, even without the Cadets, would continue to carry out a semi-Cadet programme. The elimination of the Cadets is but a drop in the bucket; what is needed is new blood and new methods.

The Moscow Conference in any event closes and summarizes that entire phase of the Revolution in which the leading role was played by the Social Revolutionary and Menshevik tactics of cooperation with the bourgeoisie, a cooperation which was based on a renunciation of the independent aims of the Revolution, on their subordination to the idea of a coalition with the enemies of the Revolution.

The Russian Revolution is a direct product of the war. The war created for it the necessary form of a nation-wide organization, the army. The greater part of the population, the peasantry, at the moment of the revolution, had been forced into a condition of organization. The Soviets of Soldiers’ Delegates called upon the army to send its political representatives, whereupon the peasant masses automatically sent into the Soviets the semi-liberal intellectuals, who translated the indefiniteness of their hopes and aspirations into the language of the most contemptible quibbling and hairsplitting opportunism. The petty bourgeois intelligentsia, which is in every way dependent on the big bourgeoisie, obtained the leadership over the peasantry. The Soviets of soldier-peasant representatives obtained a distinct majority over the representatives of the workers. The Petrograd proletarian advance-guard was declared to be an ignorant mass. The flower of the Revolution was revealed in the persons of the March Social Revolutionists andMensheviks of the “provincial” intellectuals, leaning on the peasants. Over this foundation there rose, through the agency of double and triple elections, the Central Executive Committee. The Petrograd Soviet, which, in the first period, discharged nation-wide functions, stood from the outset under the immediate influence of the revolutionary masses. The Central Committee, on the contrary, dwelt in the clouds of the revolutionary bureaucratic heights, cut off from the Petrograd workers and soldiers, and hostile to them.

It is sufficient to recall that the Central Committee considered it necessary to summon troops from the front for putting down the Petrograd demonstrations, which at the moment of the arrival of the troops, had actually been already disposed of by the demonstrating persons themselves. The philistine leaders committed political hara-kiri when they failed to see anything but chaos, anarchy, and riot in the tendency – which was a natural outcome of the whole lay of the land – to equip the Revolution with the apparatus of authority. When they disarmed the Petrograd workers and soldiers, the Tseretellis, Dans and Chernyovs disarmed the advance-guard of the Revolution and inflicted irreparable injury on the influence of their own Executive Committee.

At present, face to face with the encroachments of the counterrevolution, these politicians talk of re-establishing the authority and the significance of the Soviets. As a catch-word of the moment, they prate of organizing the masses around the Soviets. Yet putting the question in this empty fashion is a profoundly reactionary procedure. Under an ostensible call for organization it attempts to circumvent the question as to the political aims and methods of the struggle. To organize the masses in the name of “elevating the authority” of the Soviets is a wretched and useless undertaking. The masses had faith in the Soviets, followed them, and elevated them to an immense height. As a result they witnessed the surrender of the Soviets to the worst enemies of the masses. It would be childish to suppose that the masses could or would repeat for the second time an historical experiment already disposed of. In order that the masses, having lost their confidence in the present dominant centre of democracy, should not also lose their confidence in the Revolution itself, they must be supplied with a critical estimate of all the political work previously accomplished in the Revolution, and this is tantamount to a merciless condemnation of all the labours of the Social-Revolutionary and Menshevik leaders.

We shall say to the masses: they blame the Bolsheviks for everything, but how is it that they were powerless to fight the Bolsheviks? On their side was not only the majority in the Soviets, but all the authority of the government, and yet they managed to get themselves defeated by a “conspiracy” on the part of what they call an insignificant band of Bolsheviks.

After the events of July 16-18, the SRs and Mensheviks in Petrograd grew weaker and weaker, while the Bolsheviks grew stronger and stronger. The same thing took place in Moscow. This clearly demonstrates the fact that by its policy Bolshevism gives expression to the actual demands of the revolution as the latter progresses, while the Social-Revolutionary and Menshevik “majority” simply perpetuates yesterday’s helplessness and backwardness of the masses. But today, this mere standing-pat is played out: it must, therefore, be reinforced by the most savage repression. These persons are struggling against the logic which is inherent in the Revolution, and for that reason you find them in they same camp with the class-conscious enemies of the Revolution. For just that reason we are in duty bound to weaken the confidence in them in the name of the day of Revolution that is our tomorrow.

The complete emptiness of the catchword, “strengthen the Soviets”, comes out most clearly in the mutual relations of the Central Executive Committee and the Petrograd Soviet. In view of the fact that the latter, taking its support from the advanced ranks of the working class, and the soldiers who made common cause with them, was advancing more and more resolutely to the position of revolutionary Socialism, the Central Executive x Committee systematically undermined the authority and significance of the Petrograd Soviet. For whole months it was not convoked. As a matter of fact, they took away its organ, the Izvestia, in whose columns the thoughts and the life of the Petrograd proletariat find no expression at all. When the infuriated bourgeois press slanders and dishonors the leaders of the Petrograd proletariat, Izvestia hears nothing and sees nothing. Under these circumstances what can possibly be the significance of the slogan, “strengthen the Soviets”? One answer only can be given: To strengthen the Petrograd Soviet against the Central Executive Committee, which has been bureaucratized, and whose membership remains unaltered. We must gain for the Petrograd Soviet the complete independence of its organization, its protection, and its political functioning.

This is the most important question, and the settling of it is the first order of the day. The Petrograd Soviet must become the centre of a new revolutionary mobilization of the masses of the workers, soldiers and peasants – in a new fighting for power. We must support with all our strength the initiative of the Conference of Factory Workers’ Committees at the convocation of the All-Russian Congress of Workers’ Delegates. In order that the proletariat may win over to its activity the impoverished masses of soldiers and peasants, its policy must be definitely and inexorably opposed to the tactics of the Central Executive Committee. From the above it must be clear how impotently reactionary and Utopian is the idea originating in Novaya Zhin concerning a union between us and the Mensheviks. This condition may be attained only if the proletariat as a class will reorganize its central organization on a nation-wide scale. It is impossible for us to predict all the twists and turns of the path of history. As a political party, we cannot be held responsible for the course of history. x But we are all the more responsible to our class; to render it capable of carrying out its mission in all the deviations of the historical journey- that is our fundamental political duty.

The ruling classes together with the Government of “Salvation” [2] are doing everything in their power to force the political problems of the revolution to the attention not only of the workers, but also of the army and of the provinces. in as acute a form as possible. Social-Revolutionists and Mensheviks have done and are doing all they can to reveal before the widest sections of the toiling population of the country, the complete insolvency of their tactics. It is now incumbent on our party, on its energy, its solicitude, its insistence to draw all the inexorable conclusions from the present situation and at the head of the disinherited and exhausted masses, to wage a determined battle for their revolutionary dictatorship.


1. Konovalov’s resignation as Minister of Commerce in Prince Lvov’s Provisional (Coalition) Government took place on 31st May 1917.

2. On July 15th, 1917, the Cadets resigned from the Provisional Government on the Ukrainian issue. Kerensky reshuillled his cabinet and on the 4th of August became Premier. Tseretelli, Minister of the Interior, was the author of the infamous Police Ordinance, under which orders were issued for the arrest of Lenin, Trotsky and others, and it was he who named the new Coalition a “Government of Salvation”! It was proclaimed as such on July 22nd. How ever, they new Coalition lasted just two weeks.


The liberal and SR-Menshevik scribes and politicians are much concerned over they question of the sociological significance of the Russian Revolution. Is it a bourgeois revolution or some other kind of revolution? At first glance, this academic theorizing may appear somewhat enigmatical. The liberals have nothing to gain by revealing the class interests behind “their” revolution. And as for the petty bourgeois “Socialists”, they do not as a general rule, make use of theoretical analysis in their political activity, but rather of “common sense”, which is simply another name for mediocrity and lack of principle. The fact is that the Miliukov-Dan estimate, inspired by Plekhanov, as to the bourgeois character of the Russian Revolution, contains not a single grain of theory. Neither Yedinstvo, nor Riech, nor Dien, nor Rabochaya Gazetta, its head seriously affected, take any pains to formulate what it understands by a bourgeois revolution. The intention of their manoeuvres is purely practical: to demonstrate the “right” of the bourgeois revolution to assume power. Even though the Soviets may represent the majority of the politically trained population, even though in all the democratic elections, in city and in country, the capitalist parties were swept out with éclat – “so long as our revolution is bourgeois in character”, it is necessary to preserve the privileges of the bourgeoisie, and to assign to it in the government a role, to which it is by no means entitled by the alignment of political groups within the country. If we are to act in accordance with the principles of democratic parliamentarism, it is clear that power belongs to the Social-Revolutionists, either alone, or in conjunction with the Mensheviks. But as “our revolution is a bourgeois revolution”, the principles of democracy are suspended, and the representatives of the overwhelming majority of the people receive five seats in the ministry, while all the representatives of an insignificant minority get twice as many. To Hell with democracy! Long live Plekhanov’s Sociology

“I suppose you would like to have a bourgeois revolution without the bourgeoisie?” asks Plekhanov, slyly, invoking the support of dialectics and of Engels.

“That’s just it!” interposes Miliukov. “We Cadets would be ready to relinquish power, which the people evidently do not wish to give us. But we cannot fly in the face of science.” And he refers to Plekhanov’s “Marxism” as his authority.

Since our Revolution is a bourgeois revolution, explain Plekhanov, Dan, and Potressov, we must bring about a political coalition between the toilers and the exploiters. And in the light of this Sociology, the clownish handshake of Bublikov and Tseretelli is revealed in its full historical significance.

The trouble is merely this, that the same bourgeois character of the Revolution which is now taken as a justification of the coalition between the Socialists and the capitalists, has for a number of years been taken by these very Mensheviks as leading to diametrically opposite conclusions.

Since, in a bourgeois revolution, they were wont to say, the governing power can have no other function that to safeguard the domination of the bourgeoisie, it is clear that Socialism can have nothing to do with it, its place is not in the government, but in the opposition. Plekhanov considered that Socialists could not under any conditions take part in a bourgeois government, and he savagely attacked Kautsky, whose resolution admitted certain exceptions in this connection. “Tempora legesque mutantur” [1] the gentlemen of the old regime so expressed it. And that appears to be the case also with the “laws” of Plekhanov’s Sociology.

No matter how contradictory may be the opinions of the Mensheviks and their leader, Plekhanov, when you compare their statements before the Revolution with their statements of today, one thought does dominate both expressions, and that is, that you cannot carry out a bourgeois revolution “without the bourgeoisie”. At first blush this idea would appear to be axiomatic. But it is merely idiotic.

The history of mankind did not begin with the Moscow Conference. There were revolutions before. At the end of the 18th century there was a revolution in France, which is called, not without reason, the “Great Revolution”. It was a bourgeois revolution. In one of its phases power fell into the hands of the Jacobins, who had the support of the “Sans-culottes”, or semi-proletarian workers of the city population, and who set up between them and the Girondists, the liberal party of the bourgeoisie, the Cadets of their day, the neat rectangle of the guillotine. [2] It was only the dictatorship of the Jacobins that gave the French Revolution its present importance, that made it “the Great Revolution”. And yet, this dictatorship was brought about, not only without the bourgeoisie, but against its very opposition. Robespierre, to whom it was not given to acquaint himself with the ideas of Plekhanov, upset all the laws of Sociology, and, instead of shaking hands with the Girondists, he cut off their heads. This was cruel, there is no denying it. But this cruelty did not prevent the French Revolution from becoming Great, within the limits of its bourgeois character. Marx, in whose name so many malpractices are now perpetrated in our country, said that the “whole French terror was simply a plebeian effort to dispose of the enemies of the bourgeoisie.” [3] And as the same bourgeoisie was very much afraid of the same plebeian methods of disposing of the enemies of the people, the Jacobins not only deprived the bourgeoisie of power, but applied a rule of blood and iron with regard to the bourgeoisie, whenever the latter made any attempt to halt or to “moderate the work of the Jacobins. It is apparent, therefore, that the Jacobins carried out a bourgeois revolution without the bourgeoisie.

Referring to the English Revolution of 1648, Engels wrote: “In order that the bourgeoisie might pluck all the fruits that had matured, it was necessary that the revolution should go far beyond its aims, as was again the case in – France in 1793 and in Germany in 1848. This to be sure, is one of the laws of the evolution of bourgeois society.” [4] We see that Engels’ law is directly opposed to Plekhanov’s ingenious structure, which the Mensheviks have been accepting and repeating as Marxism.

It may of course be objected that the Jacobins were themselves a bourgeoisie, a petty bourgeoisie. This is absolutely true. But is that not the fact in the case of the so-called “revolutionary democracy” headed by the Social Revolutionists and Mensheviks? Between the Cadets, the party of the larger and lesser propertied interests, on the one hand, and the Social-Revolutionists on the other hand, there was not, in any of the elections held in city or country, any intermediate party. It follows with mathematical certainty that the petty bourgeoisie must have found its political representation in the ranks of the Social-Revolutionists. The Mensheviks, whose policy differs by not a hair’s breadth from the policy of the Social-Revolutionists, reflect the same class interests. There is no contradiction to this condition in the fact that they are also supported by a part of the more backward or conservative-privileged workers. Why were the Social-Revolutionists unable to assume power? In what sense and why did the “bourgeois” character of the Russian Revolution (if we assume that such is its character) compel the Social-Revolutionists and Mensheviks to supplant the plebeian methods of the Jacobins with the gentlemanly device of an agreement with the counter-revolutionary bourgeoisie? It is manifest that the explanation must be sought, not in the “bourgeois” character of our revolution, but in the miserable character of our petty bourgeois democracy. Instead of making the power in its hands the organ for the realization of the essential demands of History, our fraudulent democracy deferentially passed on all real power to the counter revolutionary, military-imperialist clique, and Tseretelli, at the Moscow Conference, even boasted that the Soviets had not surrendered their power under pressure, not after a courageous fight and defeat, but voluntarily, as an evidence of political “self-effacement”. The gentleness of the calf, holding its neck for the butcher’s knife, is not the quality which is going to conquer new worlds.

The difference between the terrorists of the Convention [2] and the Moscow capitulators is the difference between tigers and calves of one age – a difference in courage. But this difference is not fundamental. It merely veils a decisive difference in the personnel of the democracy itself. The Jacobins were based on the classes of little or no property, including also what rudiments of a proletariat were then already in existence. In our case, the industrial working class has worked its way out of the ill-defined democracy into a position in History where it exerts an influence of primary importance. The petty bourgeois democracy was losing the most valuable revolutionary qualities to the extent to which these qualities were being developed by the proletariat which was outgrowing the tutelage of the petty bourgeoisie. This phenomenon in turn is due to the incomparably higher plan to which capitalism had evolved in Russia as compared with the France of the closing 18th century. The revolutionary power of the Russian proletariat, which can by no means be estimated by its numerical strength, is based upon its immense productive power, which is most of all apparent in war time. The threat of a railroad strike again reminds us, in our day, of the dependence of the whole country on the concentrated labour of the proletariat. The petty bourgeois-peasant party, in the very earliest stages of the revolution, was exposed to a crossfire between the powerful groups of imperialist classes on the one hand, and the revolutionary-internationalist proletariat, on the other. In their struggle to exert an influence of their own over the workers, the petty bourgeoisie continued constantly harping on their “statesmanship”, their “patriotism”, and thus fell into a slavish dependence on the groups of counter-revolutionary capital. They simultaneously lost the possibility of any kind of liquidation even of the old barbarism which enveloped those sections of the people who were still attached to them. The struggle of the Social-Revolutionists and Mensheviks for influence over the proletariat was more and more assuming the form of a struggle by the proletarian party to obtain the leadership of the semi-proletarian masses of the villages and towns. Because they “voluntarily” handed over their power to the bourgeois cliques, the Social-Revolutionists and Mensheviks were obliged to hand over the revolutionary mission definitely to the party of the proletariat. This alone is sufficient to show that the attempt to decide fundamental questions of tactics by a mere reference to the “bourgeois” character of our Revolution can only succeed in confusing the minds of the backward workers and deceiving the peasants.

In the French Revolution of 1848, the proletariat is already making heroic efforts for independent action. [5] But as yet it has neither a clear revolutionary theory nor an authoritative class organization. Its importance in production is infinitely lower than the present economic function of the Russian proletariat. In addition, behind 1848 there stood another great revolution, which had solved the agrarian question in its own way, and this found its expression in a pronounced isolation of they proletariat, particularly that of Paris, from the peasant masses. Our situation in this respect is immensely more favourable. Farm mortgages, obstructive obligations of all kinds, oppression, and the rapacious exploitation by the church, confront the Revolution as inescapable questions, demanding courageous and uncompromising measures. The “isolation” of our party from the Social-Revolutionists and Mensheviks, even an extreme isolation, even by the method of single chambers, would by no means be synonymous with an isolation of the proletariat from the oppressed peasant and city masses. On the contrary, a sharp opposition of the policy of the revolutionary proletariat to the faithless defection of the present leaders of the Soviets, can only bring about a salutary differentiation among the peasant millions, remove the pauperized peasants from the treacherous influence of the powerful Social-Revolutionist muzhiks, and convert the Socialist proletariat into a genuine leader of the popular, “plebeian” revolution.

And finally, a mere empty reference to the bourgeois character of the Russian Revolution tells us absolutely nothing about the international character of its milieu. And this is a prime factor. The great Jacobin revolution found opposed to it a backward, feudal, monarchist Europe. The Jacobin regime fell and gave way to the Bonapartist regime, under the burden of the superhuman effort which it was obliged to put forth in order to maintain itself against the united forces of the middle ages. The Russian Revolution, on the contrary, has before it a Europe that has far outdistanced it, having reached the highest degree of capitalist development. The present slaughter shows that Europe has reached the point of capitalist saturation, that it can no longer live and grow on the basis of the private ownership of the means of production. This chaos of blood and ruin is a savage insurrection of the mute and sullen powers of production, it is the mutiny of iron and steel against the dominion of profit, against wage-slavery, against the miserable deadlock of our human relations. Capitalism, enveloped in the flames of a war of its own making, shouts from the mouths of its cannons to humanity: “Either conquer me, or I will bury you in my ruins when I fall!”

All the evolution of the past, the thousands of years of human history, of class struggle, of cultural accumulations, are concentrated now in the sole problem of the proletarian revolution. There is no other answer and no other escape. And therein lies the tremendous strength of the Russian Revolution. It is not a “national”, a bourgeois revolution. Anyone who conceives of it thus, is dwelling in the realm of the hallucinations of the 18th and 19th centuries. Our fatherland in time is the 20th century. The further lot of the Russian Revolution depends directly on the course and on the outcome of the war, that is, on the evolution of class contradictions in Europe, to which this imperialist war is giving a catastrophic nature.

The Kerensky and Kornilov began too early using the language of competing autocrats. The Caledonia showed their teeth too soon. The renegade Tseretelli too early grasped the contemptuously outstretched finger of counter-revolution. As yet the Revolution has spoken only its first word. It still has tremendous reserves in Western Europe. In place of the handshake of the reactionary ring leaders with the good-for-nothings of the petty bourgeoisie will come the great embrace of the Russian proletariat with the proletariat of Europe.


1. Tempora legesque mutantur: (Latin) Times and laws are changed.

2. Jacobins, led by Robespierre, were the most radical group of French Revolutionaries in the Great Revolution.

Girondins: deputies from the Bordeaux region, moderate bourgeois revolutionaries who were overthrown by the Jacobins in June 1793.

Sansculottes: Literally, without breeches; the revolutionary people of the French Revolution.

Convention: Republican Assembly of France, 1792, which overthrew the monarchy.

3. Marx – See Selected Correspondence, Lawrence & Wishart Edn., p. 459.

4. Engels on 1648 – in Social Utopian and Scientific, Selected Works (Moscow Edn.), Vol.II.

5. French Revolution of 1848: In February, Louis Philippe and the July monarchy was overthrown and the Second Republic proclaimed. In June, the left wing was suppressed. At the end of the year, Louis Napoleon was elected President.


The class-political groupings in the Russian Revolution have come out with unparalleled clearness, but equally unparalleled is the confusion which prevails in the field of our ideology. The belated character of Russia’s historical development permitted the petty bourgeois intelligentsia to adorn itself with the peacock’s feathers of the loveliest Socialist theory. Yet these fine feathers will answer no other purpose than to cover its withered nakedness. The fact that the Social-Revolutionists and Mensheviks did not assume power early in March, nor on May 16th [1] , nor on July 16th, has nothing at all to do with the “bourgeois” character of our Revolution and the impossibility of putting it over “without the bourgeoisie”. It is due to the fact that the petty bourgeois “Socialists”, being completely enveloped in the meshes of Imperialism, are not yet capable of per-forming one-tenth of the work that the Jacobins accomplished a century and a quarter ago. Chattering about the defence of the Revolution and of the country, they will nevertheless surrender to the bourgeois reaction one position after the other. The struggle for power, therefore, becomes the first and the foremost problem of the working class, and we shall find the Revolution simultaneously pesting itself completely of its “national” and its bourgeois raiment.

Europe, we shall see a tremendous backward sweep, in the direction of a strong imperialist regime, most probably culminating in a monarchy; the Soviets, the land committees, the army organizations, as well as many other things, will go to pieces, and the Kerensky and Tseretellis will pass into the discard. Or, the proletariat, dragging with it the semi-proletarian masses and pushing aside its leaders of yesterday (in this case also the Kerensky and Tseretellis go into the discard), will establish the regime of the workers’ democracy. The further successes of the proletariat will then depend first and foremost on the European, particularly on the German Revolution.

Internationalism in our eyes is not an abstract notion, existing only to be betrayed at every moment (that is for Tseretelli and Chernov), but an immediately dominant, profoundly practical principle. Permanent, decisive successes are not conceivable for us without a European Revolution. We cannot therefore purchase partial successes at the price of such procedures and combinations as may put obstacles in the path of the European proletarian movement. Just for this reason an uncompromising opposition to the social-patriots is for us the condition sine qua non [2] of all our political work.

“International comrades!” cried one of the speakers at the All-Russian Congress of Soviets, “postpone your Social Revolution for another fifty years!” Needless to say, this well meant advice was greeted with the self-complacent applause of the Mensheviks and Social-Revolutionists.

It is just at this point, in the matter of their relation to the Social Revolution, that the difference between the various forms of opportunist petty bourgeois utopianism, on the one hand, and proletarian Socialism, on the other, becomes important. There are not a few “internationalists” who explain the crisis in the International as a temporary chauvinist intoxication due to the war, and who believe that sooner or later the former condition will be restored, and the old political parties will again take up the old path of the class struggle, of which they have lost sight for the moment. Childish and petty hopes! The war is not an external catastrophe, destroying the equilibrium of capitalist society against the uprising of the expanding forces of production in this society, against the restrictions of the national boundaries and the forms of private ownership. Either we shall see continued convulsions of the forces of production, in the form of repeatedly recurring imperialist wars, or we shall see a socialist organization of production: that is the question History is placing before us.

Similarly, the crisis in the International is not an external, irrelevant phenomenon.

The Socialist parties of Europe were formed at a time of comparative capitalist equilibrium and of a reformist adaptation of the proletariat to national parliamentarism and the national market. “Even in the Social-Democratic Party” wrote Engels in 1877, “petty bourgeois Socialism has its defenders. Even members of the Social Democratic Party who recognize the fundamental concepts of scientific socialism and the practical nature of the demand that all means of production should pass over into social ownership, declare that the realization of this demand is a possibility of the remote future, the precise time of which is practically impossible to determine.” [3] Thanks to the long drawn out character of the “peaceful” period, this petty bourgeois Socialism actually became dominant in the old organization of the proletariat. Its limitations and its insolvency assumed the most offensive forms, as soon as the peaceful accumulation of contradictions gave way to a tremendous imperialist cataclysm. Not only the old national governments, but also the bureaucratized Socialist parties that had grown up with them, showed that they were not equal to the demands of further progress. And all this might have been more or less foreseen.

“The task of the Socialist Party”, we wrote twelve years ago, “consisted, and still consists, in revolutionizing the consciousness of the working class, as the development of Capitalism has revolutionized social relations. But this labour of agitation and organization has its internal difficulties. The European Socialist parties – particularly the most powerful of them, the German – have already at tamed a certain conservatism, which is all the stronger where the most numerous masses have embraced socialism, and where the organization and discipline of these masses is the most advanced. In view of this, the Social Democracy, as an organization expressive of the political experience of the proletariat, may, at a given moment prove to be an immediate obstacle on the path of an open struggle between the workers and the bourgeois reaction. In other words, the propagandist-Socialist conservatism of the proletarian party may, at a given moment prevent the straight fight of the proletariat for power.” (Nasha Revolutsia, 1906, p.285) [4]

But if the revolutionary Marxists were far from being fetishists with regard to the parties of the Second International, no one could foresee that the destruction of those giant organizations would be so cruel and so catastrophic.

New times demand new organizations. In the baptism of fire, the revolutionary parties are now being everywhere created. The numerous ideological-political offspring of the Second International have not, it appears, been in vain. But they are passing through an internal purification: whole generations of “realistic” philistines are being cast aside, and the revolutionary tendencies of Marxism are for the first time being recognized in their full political significance.

Within each country the task is not so much to support an organization that has outlived itself, as to bring together the genuine aggressive revolutionary elements of the proletariat, who are already, in the struggle against imperialism, gravitating into the front ranks. On the international field, the task is not to coalesce and “conciliate” government – Socialists at diplomatic conferences (as at Stockholm! [5]) but to secure a union of the revolutionary internationalists of all countries and the pursuit of a common course of action in the Social Revolution within each country.

To be sure, the revolutionary internationalists at the head of the working class at present constitute, throughout Europe, an insignificant minority. But we Russians ought to be the last to take fright at such a state of affairs. We know how quickly, in revolutionary moments, the minority may become a majority. As soon as the accumulating resentment of the working class finally breaks through the crust of government discipline, the group of Liebknecht, Luxemburg, Mehring and their adherents [6] will immediately assume a leading position at the head of the German working class. Only a social-revolutionary policy can justify a division [?] in the organization but at the same time it makes such a division [?] inevitable.

The Menshevik Internationalists, those who are of like mind with Comrade Martov, in opposition to us, deny the social-revolutionary character of the political task. Russia, they declare in their platform, is not yet ready for Socialism, and our function is necessarily limited to the founding of a democratic bourgeois republic. The whole attitude is based on a complete rejection of the international problems of the proletariat. If Russia were alone in the world, Martov’s reasoning would be correct. But we are engaged in carrying out a world revolution, in a struggle with world imperialism, with the tasks of the world proletariat, which includes the Russian proletariat. Instead of explaining to the Russian workers that the destinies of Russia are at present inextricably bound up with the destinies of Europe, that the success of the European proletariat will assure us a swifter realization of a Socialist society, that on the other hand, a defeat of the European proletariat will hurl us back into a condition of imperialist dictatorship and monarchy, and finally into the status of mere colonies of England and the United States, instead of subordinating all our tactics to the general aims and objects of the European proletariat, Comrade Martov looks upon the Russian Revolution from a narrow nationalistic standpoint and reduces the task of the revolution to that of creating a bourgeois democratic republic. This formulation of the question is fundamentally false, for over it there hovers the curse of narrow-minded nationalism, which led to the downfall of the Second International.

By limiting himself, in practice, to a national outlook, Comrade Martov secures the possibility of living in the same camp with the social-patriots. He hopes, with Dan and Tseretelii, to pass through the “miasma”, of nationalism unharmed, for the latter will disappear with the war, and then he intends to come back, together with them, into the “regular” channels of the class struggle. Martov is bound to the social-patriots, not by a mere empty party tradition, but by their profoundly opportunist attitude on the Social Revolution, for they regard it as a remote goal, which should have no share in the formulation of the problems of today. And that is what separates them from us.

The struggle for capturing power is not, for us, merely the next step of a national democratic revolution. No, it is the fulfillment of our international duty, the conquest of one of the most important positions on the whole front of the struggle against world imperialism. And it is this standpoint that determines our relation to the so-called question of defending the fatherland. A temporary shifting of the front to one side or the other cannot halt and cannot turn aside our struggle, which is directed against the very foundations of Capitalism, which seems bent on the mutual imperialist destruction of the peoples of all nations.

A permanent revolution or a permanent slaughter! That is the struggle in which the stake is the future of man.


1. On March 8th, the Revolution began in Petrograd. On the 11th, the Petrograd Soviet started functioning. On the 12th, the Provisional Executive Com mittee of the Duma was formed. In May there was a Cabinet crisis, caused by Miliukov’s resignation on the 15th.

2. Sine qua non: (Latin) Indispensable condition.

3. Engels – Preface to The Housing Question, Selected Works, Moscow Edn., Vol.I. p.498.

4. Trotsky – Results and Prospects, see The Permanent Revolution, New Park Edn., p.246.

5. The Stockholm Conference: Proposed by the Scandinavian Socialists to bring pressure on the warring nations for peace, did not take place. In April 1917, the Danish Borgbjerg extended the invitation to the Petrograd Soviets. The Mensheviks and Social Revolutionaries accepted but the Bolsheviks refused.

6. Group of Rosa Luxemburg et al.: The Left Wing, anti-war, elements of the German Social Democracy, led by Liebknecht, Luxemburg and Mehring, formed the International Group on 1st January 1916. This was later known as the Spartacusbund, and on 1st January 1919, emerged as the Communist Party of Germany.


Comrades and Citizens! We don’t want to hear good advice, we want a report. Even Peschekhonov, instead of a report, read a sort of prose poem on the advantages of the Coalition. He said that the Cadet ministers in the Coalition Government had not engaged in any sabotage – God forbid! – they merely sat and waited and said: ”We shall just see how you Socialists betray yourselves.„ And when I said that it is sabotage for a political party, a capitalist party, a very influential party, to enter the Government at a most critical moment in history only to be able to observe from within how the representatives of democracy betray themselves, while, from without, the same Party gives help to Kornilov, Citizen Peschekhonov promised to explain to me the difference between sabotage and policy. But he forgot to keep that promise. Another minister of another Party, a Cadet, drew certain conclusions from his experiences as a minister, but in a more definite political sense. I refer to Kokoshkin. He justified his resignation by saying that the extraordinary powers granted to Kerensky relegated the other ministers to a position in which they were merely the executives of the Minister-President’s orders, and that he himself was not prepared to accept that position.

I say candidly that, as I read those words, I was compelled inwardly to applaud our enemy Kokoshkin. He spoke here with political and with human dignity. At present great differences of opinion exist between us concerning the retiring as well as the future Coalition Ministry [2] But, I ask you, have we any difference of opinion on the Government now in office and now speaking in the name of Russia? I have not heard one speaker here who has claimed the unenviable honour of defending that five-headed monster the Directorate, or its President Kerensky. (Disorder, applause and protests of “Long live Kerensky!”)

You may perhaps remember how another former minister, Tseretelli, spoke from this platform, as an extremely far-seeing man and a diplomat, about his own experience, and said that the people themselves were entirely to blame, for they themselves had raised one inpidual to such a height that they were bound to be deceived. He did not name that inpidual but you will all believe me when I say that he was not referring to Tereschenko.

In the speech which he delivered here Kerensky said in replying to our remarks on the death penalty [3]: “You may condemn me if I sign one single death warrant.”

If the death penalty, the penalty which Kerensky himself once abolished, was necessary, then I ask, how is it possible for Kerensky to tell the Democratic Conference that he will in no circumstances make use of the death penalty? And if he tells us that he believes it to be possible to bind himself not to use the death penalty against the people, then I say that in speaking thus, he has made the introduction of the death penalty an act so frivolous as to be almost criminal. (Cries of “Quite right!”)

This fact reflects the present complete degradation of the Russian Republic. This Republic has neither an authoritative National representation nor a responsible Government. And if we all, although disunited on so many other questions, agree on one point, it is on this, that it is unworthy of any great people, still more of a people who have made a great revolution, to tolerate power being concentrated in the hands of one person and that a person not responsible to the people. (Applause)

Comrades, if many speakers have referred to the fact that at the present period the burden of the government is heavy and oppressive, if they warn the young, inexperienced Russian democracy against taking this burden on their shoulders, then I ask you, what can be said of one single person, who has in any case shown no particular talent either as an army leader or a legislator? (Cries of: “That’s enough!” and “Go on!”)

Comrades, I greatly regret that the point of view which is now being so forcibly expressed in these cries of protest has until now found no articulate expression from this platform. (Disorder and applause)

Not one speaker has ascended this platform and said to us: “Why are you quarreling about the old Coalition, why are you discussing the future Coalition? You have Alexander Kerensky, and that is enough for you!” No one has said that.

(These words of Trotsky aroused a new storm of protest.)

(“I shall be silent until order is restored in this hall,” declared Trotsky in a firm and decisive voice. The President succeeded in restoring order.)

Our party has never laid the responsibility for the present regime on the evil will of any inpidual person. In May, when I spoke at the Petrograd Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies, I said: “You, the fighting Parties, are yourselves creating a regime in which a person bearing the greatest responsibility will be compelled, independently of his own wishes, to become the future Russian Bonaparte.” (Disorder and cries of: “Lies! Demagogy!”) Comrades, there can be no demagogy here, for what is being actually said here is only that a tendency towards an autocratic regime follows inevitably from certain political circumstances.

What are those circumstances? We state them as follows: There is in modern society a serious and desperate struggle. Here in Russia, in a period of revolution, when the masses, rising from the depths, are for the first time conscious of themselves as a class, a class bitterly wounded through centuries of oppression, and realising themselves for the first time as political subjects, as legal persons, a class beginning to attack the foundations of private property – at such a time the class struggle assumes a most intense and passionate form. Democracy – what we call democracy – is the political expression of these working masses, the workers, peasants and soldiers. The bureaucracy and the nobility defend the rights of private property. The fight between these two parties is now unavoidable, Comrades, for the revolution has, in the words of the owning classes, liberated the lower ranks of the people. The struggle between these two parties, whether it takes one form or another, is growing more intense and is running that natural course of development which no eloquence and no programmes can resist.

Now that the driving forces of the revolution are separately revealed, a Coalition Government means either the final stage of political senselessness, which cannot last, or the highest degree of fraud on the part of the owning classes who are attempting to deprive the masses of leadership by enticing the best and most influential leaders into a trap, with the object either of leaving the masses – or as they say, the “liberated elements” – to their own resources or else of drowning them in their own blood.

Comrades! The supporters of the Coalition say that a purely capitalist government is impossible. Why is such a government impossible? Minor has maintained that a socialist ministry would be as short-lived and as barren as a Coalition Government. That is not a compliment either to the Coalition Ministry or to a socialist ministry. I ask you: Why couldn’t the government be left entirely to the capitalists? We are told that it is impossible. Comrades Tseretelli contended quite rightly that it would give rise to a civil war. The relations between the masses and the owning classes are therefore so strained that for the owning classes to take over the Government would be the signal for civil war. So sharp, so strained, and so strong are the contradictions between the classes, utterly irrespective of the civil [?] designs of the Bolsheviks<./p>

At such a time, during a historical interregnum, when the owning classes cannot seize power completely and the organs of the people do not dare to seize power, the idea of an arbiter, of a dictator, a Bonaparte, a Napoleon, is born, [4] That is why Kerensky has been able to occupy the position which he now holds. The weakness and indecision of the revolutionary democracy hays created this position for Kerensky. (Applause)

If you repeat the experiment of a Coalition once more, after it has run its natural course, after the Cadets have entered the Coalition twice and left it twice [5] – and there comrades, it must be remarked that the purpose in both cases, that is, in both entering and leaving the Government, was the same, namely, to sabotage the work of the revolutionary government – after you have witnessed the Kornilov affair [6], you would, I firmly believe, be inviting the Cadets to do more than merely repeat the old experiment.

To be sure, it has been said that the Cadet Party as such cannot be accused of participation in the Kornilov rebellion. If I am not mistaken it was comrade Znamensky who told us Bolsheviks-and that not for the first time – ’You protested when we made the whole of your party, as a party, responsible for the movement of July 18th. Do not then repeat the mistake which a few of us made of making all the Cadets ’responsible for Kornilov’s rebellion.’ This comparison, is in my opinion, is slightly inapt: for if the Bolsheviks-whether justly or unjustly is another matter – are accused of initiating the movement of July 16th to 18th, or even of provoking it, there was no talk of an invitation to enter the Government, but of an invitation to enter the Kresty prison. [7] (Laughter)

That, comrades is a small difference which, I hope, even citizen Zarudny will not argue about. We say: If you want to imprison Cadets because of the Kornilov rebellion then don’t do it carelessly but examine the affairs of every single Cadet from all sides. (Laughter and cries of “Bravo”)

But, comrades, if you invite any Party to enter the government, let us say, for example, as a paradox – and only as a paradox – the Bolshevik Party. (Laughter)

Well then, if you want a ministry whose duty it would be to disarm the workers, to remove the revolutionary garrison or to recall the Third Cavalry Corps, then I should say that the Bolsheviks, who are entirely or partly bound up with the movement of July 16th to 18th, are as a whole, as a party, entirely unsuited to this task of disarming Petrograd, the garrison and the workers. (Laughter) For, comrades, although in the 16th to 18th July we did not call the workers out on to the streets, all our sympathies were on the side of the soldiers and workers who were later disarmed and dispersed, we were in complete agreement with their demands, we hated what they hated, we loved what they loved.

(“You arrested Chernov,” cried a voice from the hall.) The speaker answered: If I am not mistaken, Chernov is here, he can confirm it, (Chernov nods his head in agreement) that the violence offered to Chernov was committed not by the demonstrators, but by a small group of obviously criminal persons whose leader I, as a common criminal, met again in the Kresty prison.

But, comrades, that is not the point. If we were only concerned with the Cadet Party and its entry into the Government, the fact that one or the other member of the Cadet Party is hiding her hind the scenes with Kornilov, that Maklakov was at the telephone when Saviknov negotiated with Kornilov, that Roditschev went to the Don district to make political arrangements with Kaledin – these facts are not important, but what is important is the fact that the entire capitalist press in all countries gave expression to the lies and to the thoughts, feelings and wishes of the capitalist class. That is why I say that we cannot possibly consider the question of a coalition.

Victor Chernov is, of course, very optimistic and says “Let us wait,” but, first of all, the question of power is a question of today, and secondly he says, basing his remarks on Marxist theory – which now, by the irony of fate, has become a social revolutionary weapon adapted to the requirements of Social Revolutionaries, the Marxism of Lieber and Dan – the basis of Marxist theory he says, “We must wait, perhaps a new democratic party will develop out of the revolution.” I personally have learnt from Marxism that when the workers enter upon the scene as an independent force, every step they take, far from strengthening bourgeois democracy, weakens it by freeing the mass of the workers from capitalist influence. It has been suggested that we should wait for the rebirth and the strengthening of capitalist democracy, and then form a united front with it. That is the greatest illusion which it is possible to conceive. We do not want to base our hopes, comrades, on the idea that bourgeois democracy in the form in which it existed in capitalist society, can be revived among us.

(Comrade Trotsky gave out the declaration of the Bolshevik fraction. While it was being read, cries of “Why? Why?” were heard from the right side of the hall, referring to the clauses dealing with the immediate necessity of arming the workers. The speaker answer these cries in the following speech.) First, because it will create a real bulwark against the counterrevolution, against a new, stronger Kornilov; secondly, because if a real dictatorship of the revolutionary democracy is established, if this new government were to offer honourable peace, and if this offer were to be rejected, then I declare, in the name of our Party and of the working masses which follow that Party, that the armed workers of Petrograd and of Russia will defend the country of the revolution against the armies of imperialism with a heroism never before witnessed in Russian history. (Trotsky’s last words were drowned in a storm of applause)


1. The Democratic Conference: Convoked by Kerensky after the Kornilov revolt, met in the Alexander Theatre, Petrograd, September 27 to October 5th. The Conference declared in a favour of a coalition without the Cadets. But, Kerensky nevertheless formed one with individual Cadets. The Bolsheviks participated, and after demanding land to the peasants, workers’ control of industry, denunciation of secret treaties, immediate peace, arming of the people, and self-determination of the nationalities, withdrew from the Conference. The Conference then went on to elect, from its own ranks, a “Pre-Parliament” which lasted until the October Revolution.

2. New Coalition: On August 6th, the two-week old 3rd Coalition was dissolved and a new coalition formed. This lasted till the October insurrection.

3. Capital Punishment was reintroduced by the Provisional Government on 25th July 1917 for military offences.

5 The second resignation of Cadets from the Provisional Coalition Government took place in July 15th-16th, 1917, ostensibly over the granting of autonomy to the Ukraine. They re-entered the new coalition formed by Kerensky on August 6th, Nekrasov becoming Deputy Premier and Finance Minister. For the first resignation see Chapter 6, Note 1.

6. Kornilov Revolt: Commander-in-Chief Kornilov turned against the Provisional Government and the Soviets on September 7th, and marched cavalry in cluding the Caucasian Cossack “Savage Division” against Petrograd. The revolutionary masses soon put down the revolt which lasted only five days, and Kornilov was arrested on the 14th.

7. Chernov was saved from revolutionary mob violence by the personal intervention of Trotsky on July 17th, 1917.

Kresty Prison, in Petrograd was built in 1893 on the American pattern and had accommodation for over a thousand “solitaries”.

Trotsky occupied a cell in this prison from his arrest on 4th August 1917 to 17th September.