100TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE RUSSIAN REVOLUTION!

As part of our commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution that created the USSR, we are collecting many of the key documents produced by the great Bolshevik leaders – particularly Lenin and Trotsky.  We will arrange the documents chronologically so our readers can follow the development of the Bolshevik Party from a tiny revolutionary Marxist party at the outset of WWI to October, 1917 when the workers and peasants of Russia overwhelmingly supported the Bolshevik seizure of power which launched the very first socialist workers revolution in history.

It is common for bourgeois anticommunists and liberals to slander the great Bolshevik revolutionary leaders as dictators who illegally seized power and led a reign of terror over the young USSR.  From the bourgeois press to the college professors who pretend to be “radical” but who are in fact reformist socialists opposed to the idea of a workers revolution, to bourgeois historians who are literally paid to bury the great revolution under a mountain of lies in order to make today’s working class fearful of the very idea of revolutionary socialism, it is very difficult for a worker or student to come to a true understanding of what the Bolshevik Revolution was – and what it was not – without taking the time to read the original documents written by the revolutionaries themselves.  We can assure you that you will search in vain among the writings of Lenin or Trotsky for evidence of treachery against the working class or of shady back-room dealing of the type that is so common among bourgeois politicians like the Democrats and Republicans.  Lenin was one of the most honest and forthright leaders the working class ever had; he gave his entire life to the struggle for the emancipation of the working class through the overthrow of the capitalist system worldwide.  The same can be said of Trotsky and many of the lesser-known Bolshevik leaders; the capitalists could not bribe them, they could not buy them out, and that is why they hate them and that is why they want YOU to hate them.  Since the historical record is not on the side of the capitalist class when it comes to their false version of the history of the Russian Revolution, they resort to every kind of low slander and lying that is characteristic of the entire rule of the capitalist class.  Well, here is the proof that their version of the Russian Revolution is nothing but a tissue of lies from beginning to end.

One of the most important aspects of these documents is the light that they shine on the vital importance of the existence of a politically cohesive Leninist vanguard party with a revolutionary Marxist program in order for the working class to be able to throw off the chains of the capitalist system.  There were many political parties vying for the allegiance of the Russian working class and peasantry in 1917; but only Lenin’s Bolshevik Party had the revolutionary socialist program that embodied what the workers and peasants – driven into abject misery by the imperialist World War I – demanded of their leaders.  It was only after every other political party had been tried and failed to do what was demanded of them: to give the land to the peasants and to end the war – that the Bolsheviks, who promised to do both, were carried into power on the shoulders of the revolutionary masses.  If the Bolshevik Party had not existed; if it had not had a revolutionary program; if it did not have leaders like Lenin and Trotsky, veteran Marxist revolutionaries who had spent their entire adult lives studying and organizing workers in the face of brutal Tsarist police-state attacks – the Russian Revolution would not have been able to overthrow both the Tsar and the capitalist class at the same time.  In order for a political party of the working class to lead a successful revolution, it must have a politically cohesive party leadership and it must possess a revolutionary socialist program that clearly sets forth the goal of the overthrow of the capitalist class and system and the construction of socialism immediately after the revolution; and it must be prepared to consolidate power in a highly centralized workers state immediately after the seizure of power in order to defend the revolution from the inevitable attempts of the deposed capitalist class to regain power by any means necessary.  Lenin’s genius contributed to the workers of the world the indispensable organizational structure that has proven its worth in every successful workers revolution since 1917: the Leninist vanguard party.  Those who deny the necessity of the organization of a workers state; those who deny the need for a Leninist vanguard party are simply announcing to the working class that they are opposed to the idea of a workers revolution, period!  The irrefutable fact is that ONLY Leninist vanguard parties have ever led successful workers socialist revolutions – from the USSR to China to North Korea to Cuba and Vietnam; whenever the working class has created its own revolutionary socialist Leninist vanguard party it has succeeded in overthrowing capitalism; and wherever the so-called “leaders” of the working class have refused to do so, they have gone down in defeat; from Spain in the 1930s to Chile in the 1970s, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Guatemala and Venezuela today – every one of these failed revolutions failed principally because the workers and peasants were not led by revolutionary Marxist/Leninists but by reformists who refused to organize a Leninist vanguard party.  If you learn nothing else from reading our literature we hope you learn this most important lesson because today as in 1917 there are many fake-socialist parties vying for your allegiance who almost all repudiate the Leninist vanguard party as a model for their own political parties.  We can assure you that when you hear any political party leader denigrating the Leninist vanguard party model, you are hearing a reformist, not a revolutionary Marxist/Leninist.  Fake-socialists are the organizers of defeats for the workers; we seek to organize victories.  The working class deserves to have the very best kind of workers party – and that is why our party is modeled on the very best organizational form ever devised for a revolutionary workers party: the democratic-centralist Leninist/Trotskyist vanguard party!  After you read these documents we hope that they will have led you to this conclusion as well; and that you’ll consider joining our party as we organize the next workers socialist revolution right here in the USA – a “socialist revolution with distinctly American characteristics”!

—- IWPCHI

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NOTE: All document links go to the  “Marxists Internet Archive”.

1914 – World War I Begins – The Collapse of the Second International

September 1914 -1915 – “Krupskaya’s ‘Reminiscences of Lenin’: The Years of the War – Berne, 1914-1915”

1 November 1914 – “The War and Russian Social-Democracy” – Lenin

1 November 1914 – “The Position and Tasks of the Socialist International” – Lenin

November 1914 – “War And the International (The Bolsheviks and World Peace)” – Trotsky  [Note by IWPCHI: When this was published in 1914 in Germany, Trotsky was given a tribute for his work by the Kaiser in the form of a prison sentence in absentia; When it was first published in the United States in February 1918, the administration of U.S. “Peace” President Woodrow Wilson ordered that the revolutionary socialist magazine that published it (International Socialist Review) be shut down as part of a national crackdown on “subversive” and “seditious” anti-war writings by revolutionary socialist and anarchist workers.]

17 December 1914 – “Liebknecht’s Protest Against the War Credits” – Karl Liebknecht

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1915 – The First Bloody Year of the First World War

1915 – “Rebuilding The International” – Rosa Luxemburg

29 March 1915 – “What Has Been Revealed By the Trial of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Duma Group” – Lenin  [Note: The trial of the Bolshevik deputies to the Fourth Duma (A. E. Badayev, M. K. Muranov, G. I. Petrovsky, F. N. Samoilov, N. R. Shagov) and other Social-Democrats, who took part in the illegal Party Conference in Ozerki, took place on February 10 (23), 1915. The case was tried by the Special Court in Petrograd. They were charged under Article 102, i.e. accused of participation in an organisation aiming at the overthrow of the existing state system. The main circumstantial evidence against the Bolshevik deputies was Lenin’s theses The Tasks of Revolutionary Social-Democracy in the European War and the C.C. R.S.D.L.P. manifesto The War and Russian Social-Democracy, which were confiscated during the search.]

May, 1915 – “The Main Enemy Is At Home!” – Karl Liebknecht

May-June 1915 – “The Collapse of the Second International” – Lenin

26 July 1915 – “The Defeat of One’s Own Government in the Imperialist War” – Lenin [Note by IWPCHI: This article by Lenin is partly a powerful polemic against Trotsky, who had adopted a vacillating attitude towards the Bolshevik concept that the imperialist war should be turned into a civil war aiming at the overthrow by the workers in every belligerent nation of their own ruling class as part of the struggle for socialism.]

26 July 1915 – “The State of Affairs In Russian Social Democracy” – Lenin

4 August 1915 – “The First Year of War” – Trotsky

1916

1917: THE YEAR OF THE GREAT REVOLUTION

January:

Lenin: Lecture on the 1905 Revolution (“We of the older generation may not live to see the decisive battles of this coming revolution.”)

20:  Trotsky – The Lessons of the Great Year – January 9th, 1905 – January 9th, 1917 (“The same old forces and almost the same figures now rule Russia that ruled her twelve years ago. Yet the revolution has changed Russia beyond recognition. The kingdom of stagnation, servitude, vodka and humbleness has become a kingdom of fermentation, criticism, fight.”)

February:

19:  Lenin: Letter to Inessa Armand (Trotsky “ganged up with the Right wing of Novy Mir against the Left Zimmerwaldists!!”)

March:  LENIN LEARNS OF THE FEBRUARY REVOLUTION: THE OVERTHROW OF THE TSAR

4:  Lenin: Draft Theses (“Information reaching Zurich from Russia at this moment, March 17, 1917, is so scanty, and events in our country are developing so rapidly, that any judgement of the situation must of needs be very cautious.”)

6:  Lenin: Telegram to the Bolsheviks Leaving for Russia (“Our tactics: no trust in and no support of the new government; Kerensky is especially suspect; arming of the proletariat is the only guarantee”)

12:  Lenin: “The Revolution in Russia and the Tasks of the Workers of All Countries”

17:  Trotsky (in NYC): “Two Faces (Internal Forces of the Russian Revolution)”

18:  Trotsky (in NYC): On the Eve of a Revolution (“The streets of Petrograd again speak the language of 1905.”)

~25:  Lenin: Letter to Lunacharsky (“Independence and separateness of our Party, no rapprochement with other parties, are indispensable conditions for me.”)

~25: Lenin: Letter to Anessa Armand (“Probably we won’t manage to get to Russia!! Britain will not let us through. It can’t be done through Germany.”)

Late March:  Lenin: Letter to unknown person (Proposed negotiation with British Govt for safe passage for Lenin and RSDLP members to Russia)

April:

Between Mar 31-Apr 4:  Lenin: Letter to Anessa Armand (“We have more money for the journey than I thought, enough for 10–12 persons. The comrades in Stockholm have been a great help.”)

May:

Date unknown:  Trotsky: “In British Captivity” (“I consider it at this time a matter of political necessity to publish the documents bearing upon my imprisonment by the British for the period of one month.”)

 

June:

2:  Trotsky: “Forward!” (Launches a new revolutionary socialist newspaper)

Date unknown (mid-June?):  Trotsky: “The Farce of Dual Power” (“The death agony of the coalition ministry began on the day of its birth.”)

29:  Lenin: SHAME! (from Pravda No. 83) Defends Ukrainians’ right to their own national govt.

30:  Trotsky: “Democracy, Pacifism and Imperialism” (“If war should come, we will all support the goverment of course; yet at this moment it is our sacred duty to do all in our power to preserve the nation from the horrors of war.”)

30:  Lenin: “The Ukraine and the Defeat of the Ruling Parties of Russia” (“There is absolutely nothing terrible, not the shadow of anarchy or chaos, either in the resolutions or in the demands of the Ukrainians […] Force will not check the Ukrainians. It will only embitter them. Accede to the Ukrainians, and you will open the way to mutual confidence and brotherly union between the two nations on the basis of equality! “

 

July:

4:  Lenin: “The Revolution, the Offensive, and Our Party” (Pravda No. 87) “No arguments from Chernov, once a Zimmerwaldist[2] and now Lloyd George’s partner, can conceal the fact that while the Russian Army and the Russian proletariat do not really pursue any annexationist aims, this does not in the least change the imperialist, predatory nature of the struggle between the two world trusts.”

5:  Lenin: “To What State Have the Socialist-Revolutionaries and the Mensheviks Brought the Revolution?” (Pravda No. 88) “The empty phrases of the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries are still empty phrases, in practice only serving to adorn the resumption of the imperialist war, which quite naturally meets with enthusiastic howls of approval from all the counter-revolutionaries, the whole bourgeoisie, and Plekhanov, “who tails after the bourgeois press”, as the Menshevik Rabochaya Gazeta put it, which itself tails after the whole horde of social-chauvinists.”

5:  Lenin: “Where Is State Power and Where Is Counter-Revolution?” (Listok Pravdy) “Lenin is referring to the massive demonstrations that took place in Petrograd on July 3 and 4 (16 and 17), 1917. The soldiers, sailors and workers took to the streets, being angered by the Provisional Government sending troops into an offensive that ended in defeat, as might have been expected. The movement began on July 3 (16) in the Vyborg district with the action of the First Machine-Gun Regiment. It threatened to develop into an insurrection against the Provisional Government. Just then the Bolshevik Party was against all armed action, for it considered that there was no revolutionary crisis in the country as yet. The Central Committee meeting held at 4 p.m., on July 3 (16), resolved to refrain from action. A similar resolution was adopted by the Bolsheviks’ Second Petrograd City Conference, which took place at the same time. Conference delegates went to the city’s factories and districts to restrain the masses from action. But action had already begun and there was no stopping it.”

(Date unspecified):  Trotsky: “The July Uprising” – “Blood has flowed in the streets of Petrograd. A tragic chapter has been added to the Russian Revolution. Who is to blame? ‘The Bolsheviks,’ says the man in the street, repeating what his newspapers tell him. The sum total of these tragic happenings is exhausted, as far as the bourgeoisie and the time-serving politicians are concerned, in the words: Arrest the ringleaders and disarm the masses. And the object of this action is to establish ‘revolutionary order’. The Social-Revolutionists and the Mensheviks, in arresting and disarming the Bolsheviks, are prepared to establish ‘order’. There is only one question: What kind of order, and for whom?”

8:  Lenin: “The Question of the Bolshevik Leaders Appearing in Court” (Bolshevik Party internal document, not published until 1925) “There is no government. it changes daily. It is inactive. The power that is active is the military dictatorship. Under these conditions, it is ridiculous even to speak of “the courts”. It is not a question of “courts”, but of an episode in the civil war. This is what those in favour of appearing in court unfortunately do not want to understand.”

14:  Lenin: “How and Why the Peasants Were Deceived” (Pravda No. 96) “How did they deceive the peasants? By feeding them with promises. That is the ‘cunning mechanism’ of every coalition government on earth, i.e., of every bourgeois Ministry which includes traitors to socialism. In these Ministries, former socialists serve—whether consciously or not makes no difference—as tools with which the capitalists deceive the people.”

18:  Lenin: “All Power To the Soviets!” (Pravda No. 99) ” Democracy is the rule of the majority. As long as the will of the majority was not clear, as long as it was possible to make it out to be unclear, at least with a grain of plausibility, the people were offered a counter-revolutionary bourgeois government disguised as ‘democratic.’ But this delay could not last long. During the several months that have passed since February 27 the will of the majority of the workers and peasants, of the overwhelming majority of the country’s population, has become clear in more than a general sense. Their will has found expression in mass organisations—the Soviet’s of Workers’, Soldiers’ and Peasants’ Deputies. How, then, can anyone oppose the transfer of all power in the state to the Soviets? Such opposition means nothing but renouncing democracy! It means no more no less than imposing on the people a government which admittedly can neither come into being nor hold its ground democratically, i.e., as a result of truly free, truly popular elections.”

19:  Lenin: “Slander and Facts” (Listok Pravdy) “An immense torrent of abuse and slander is being poured on the Bolsheviks for the demonstration of July 3 and 4. They go so far as to accuse the Bolsheviks of “trying to seize the city”, of wanting to “violate” the will of the Soviets […] The facts, however, show that the Bolsheviks did not seize a single building, a single institution, let alone a section of the city (although they could have), nor tried to do so even though the people were armed. The facts show that the only political act of violence against an institution occurred on the night of July 4-5, when the military cadets and Cossacks wrecked Pravda on Polovtsev’s orders, without the knowledge and against the will of the Soviet.”

Date unspecified:  Trotsky: “The July Uprising” (“The Social-Revolutionists and the Mensheviks, in arresting and disarming the Bolsheviks, are prepared to establish “order”. There is only one question: What kind of order, and for whom?”)

August:

2:  Lenin: “The Political Situation” (Proletarskoye Dyelo No. 6) “The counter-revolution has become organised and consolidated, and has actually taken state power into its hands.”

September:

3:  Lenin: “Violations of Democracy in Mass Organisations” (Internal Bolshevik Party document) “We must pass a resolution demanding equal suffrage (both in the Soviets and at trade union congresses), branding the slightest departure from equality as a fraud—using exactly this word—as a Nicholas II method. This resolution of the plenary meeting of the Central Committee must be written in a language everybody can understand and spread in leaflet form among the mass of the workers. We cannot tolerate a fraud of democracy if we call ourselves “democrats”. We are not democrats but unprincipled people if we tolerate this!!”

Date unspecified:  Lenin: The State and Revolution (August-Sept 1917)

12:  Lenin: “Slanderers” (Rabochy No. 8) “The August 20 issue of Rech, and Russkaya Volya, a newspaper founded with notoriously questionable money […] have again published slanderous statements against me.  […] The law on libel in the press has virtually been suspended in Russia. Slanderers, especially those contributing to the bourgeois papers, have been granted complete freedom. They can come out in the papers anonymously, lie and slander as much as they please, and hide behind allegedly official reports not signed by any official—they can get away with anything! Those infamous slanderers, headed by Mr. Milyukov and his like, enjoy the privilege of immunity.”

12-13:  Lenin: “Lessons of the Revolution” (Rabochy Nos. 8 and 9) “During a revolution, millions and tens of millions of people learn in a week more than they do in a year of ordinary, somnolent life. For at the time of a sharp turn in the life of an entire people it becomes particularly clear what aims the various classes of the people are pursuing, what strength they possess, and what methods they use. Every class-conscious worker, soldier and peasant should ponder thoroughly over the lessons of the Russian revolution, especially now, at the end of July, when it is clear that the first phase of our revolution has failed.”

12-14:  Lenin: “The Bolsheviks Must Assume Power” (Internal Bolshevik Party document) “The Bolsheviks, having obtained a majority in the Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies of both capitals, can and must take state power into their own hands. They can because the active majority of revolutionary elements in the two chief cities is large enough to carry the people with it, to overcome the opponent’s resistance, to smash him, and to gain and retain power. For the Bolsheviks, by immediately proposing a democratic peace, by immediately giving the land to the peasants and by reestablishing the democratic institutions and liberties which have been mangled and shattered by Kerensky, will form a government which nobody will be able to overthrow. The majority of the people are on our side. This was proved by the long and painful course of events from May 6 to August 31 and to September 12.[2] The majority gained in the Soviets of the metropolitan cities resulted from the people coming over to our side.”

13-14:  Lenin: “Marxism and Insurrection” (Internal Bolshevik Party document)  “On July 3-4 it could have been argued, without violating the truth, that the correct thing to do was to take power, for our enemies would in any case have accused us of insurrection and ruthlessly treated us as rebels. However, to have decided on this account in favour of taking power at that time would have been wrong, because the objective conditions for the victory of the insurrection did not exist. (1) We still lacked the support of the class which is the vanguard of the revolution. We still did not have a majority among the workers and soldiers of Petrograd and Moscow. Now we have a majority in both Soviets. It was created solely by the history of July and August, by the experience of the ‘ruthless treatment’ meted out to the Bolsheviks, and by the experience of the Kornilov revolt.”

27:  Lenin: “One of the Fundamental Questions of the Revolution” (Rabochy Put No. 10) “Only the dictatorship of the proletariat and the poor peasants is capable of smashing the resistance of the capitalists, of displaying truly supreme courage and determination in the exercise of power, and of securing the enthusiastic, selfless and truly heroic support of the masses both ‘in the army and among the peasants. Power to the Soviets—this is the only way to make further progress gradual, peaceful and smooth, keeping perfect pace with the political awareness and resolve of the majority of the people and with their own experience. Power to the Soviets means the complete transfer of the country’s administration and economic control into the hands of the workers and peasants, to whom nobody would dare offer resistance and who, through practice, through their own experience, would soon learn how to distribute the land, products and grain properly.”

RED OCTOBER:

1:  Lenin: “Can the Bolsheviks Retain State Power?” (Prosveshcheniye No. 1-2) “On what are all trends agreed, from Rech to Novaya Zhizn inclusively, from the Kornilovite Cadets to the semi-Bolsheviks, all, except the Bolsheviks? They all agree that the Bolsheviks will either never dare take over full state power alone, or, if they do dare, and do take power, they will not be able to retain it even for the shortest while.[…] I still maintain that a political party—and the party of the advanced class in particular—would have no right to exist, would be unworthy of the name of party, would be a nonentity in any sense, if it refused to take power when opportunity offers.”

1:  Lenin: “Letter to the Central Committee, The Moscow And Petrograd Committees and the Bolshevik Members of the Petrograd and Moscow Soviets” (Internal Bolshevik Party document) “Events are prescribing our task so clearly for us that procrastination is becoming positively criminal. The peasant movement is developing. The government is intensifying its severe repressive measures. Sympathy for us is growing in the army (99 per cent of the soldiers’ votes were cast for us in Moscow, the army in Finland and the fleet are against the government, and there is Dubasov’s evidence about the front in general). In Germany the beginning of a revolution is obvious, especially since the sailors were shot. The elections in Moscow—47 per cent Bolsheviks—are a tremendous victory. Together with the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries we have an obvious majority in the country. […] Under such circumstances to ‘wait’ would be a crime. The Bolsheviks have no right to wait for the Congress of Soviets, they must take power at once. By so doing they will save the world revolution (for otherwise there is danger of a deal between the imperialists of all countries, who, after the shootings in Germany, will be more accommodating to each other and will unite against us), the Russian revolution (otherwise a wave of real anarchy may become stronger than we are) and the lives of hundreds of thousands of people at the front.”

2:  20:  Trotsky: “SPEECH AT THE DEMOCRATIC CONFERENCE” (Izvestia)  “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.”

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