Category Archives: Working Class Political Parties

Why Socialism? Didn’t the Collapse of the USSR “Prove” that Socialism Can’t Work?

Why socialism? Didn’t the collapse of the Soviet Union prove that “socialism doesn’t work”?

Lots of people ask us “why socialism”? Haven’t the idea and the ideals of socialism been so corrupted by the crimes of Stalin and Mao and by the sterility and oppression of workers lives under the Stalinist or Maoist or the Juche-inspired North Korean regime as to be utterly discredited and useless as a practical and desirable political programme for any future society?

We’ve discussed this in bits and pieces on Twitter with a handful of individuals and groups of people but have never written anything that explains why we are for socialism and why we are so opposed to capitalism. This essay will attempt to explain where we’re coming from in a more comprehensive way.

We do not want to re-create the horrors of Stalinist Russia or Mao’s China!

First of all we want to make it completely clear that we do not worship or seek to reproduce the horrors of the Stalinist or Maoist or Kim Il-Sung-ist versions of “socialism” at all. This is not only because history shows that those regimes have been led by extremely repressive bureaucratic dictatorships but also because they have proven to lead not to the development of socialism but to a return to capitalism and the brutal capitalist exploitation of the working class. Stalinism and Maoism brutalize the working class into submission to the will of the bureaucracy and betray the workers by ultimately leading them inexorably backwards to the status of capitalist wage-slaves, which is the opposite of what they are supposed to do.

There is also no way that we can deny that – to say the least – the development of post-revolution socialist societies have not “gone according to plan” in the classical Marxist sense. However: it is clear to us that there are pretty obvious and compelling reasons why the Stalinist and Maoist-led revolutionary governments developed in the way that they did; reasons that we trace back to the incredibly oppressive regimes that they emerged from and from the fact that they had no ready-made template of how a socialist society must be built. The Stalinist and Maoist workers states were the first socialist governments that came into being, and they came into being under very difficult circumstances, emerging as they did from the horrible political and economic societies that preceded them. This does not absolve them of their crimes against the working class but it does place their development back into the historical context which pro-capitalist historians like to censor completely from their analysis of the development of the socialist movement. The reason why the pro-capitalist historians do this is obvious: their intention is not to simply tell the truth about how and why these regimes developed in the way that they did; their intention is to convince workers that socialism is a bad idea and that anyone who proposes a socialist alternative to the capitalist system must want to reproduce the horrors of the Stalinist gulags or the Maoist disaster of the Cultural Revolution. The capitalists want their historians to teach you that you live in “the best of all possible worlds” and that if workers try to overthrow the capitalist system you will wind up inevitably worse off than you are now. Basically they want you to believe that the human race has reached the highest possible stage of development possible and that the horrors of human misery we see all over the capitalist world are regrettable but, sadly, unavoidable. This is true: the horrors you see human beings suffering are unavoidable – so long as we stick with the capitalist system. This is the best they can do. We know – and the history of even the bureaucratically deformed workers states created by Mao and Stalin prove to us that socialism does work and it can be made to work way better once it is freed from the straitjacket of repressive and stifling Stalinist/Maoist leadership through a socialist workers political revolution.

Why did the revolutions in Russia and China turn out the way they did?

None of the revolutionary Marxists prior to 1917 expected that a revolutionary socialist workers state would emerge first in the most backward countries; they all believed that they would emerge first in the most advanced capitalist states like Great Britain, Germany or the USA. Instead, the chain of oppressive capitalist regimes broke at its weakest links – Russia and China. This now surprises no one in retrospect, but in 1917 it was quite a shock that the first successful workers revolution occurred not in a modern proletarian capitalist state with long traditions of relatively democratic rule but in Russia, of all places: a hideously backward country with absolutely no history of democratic rule, where the economy was about 80% peasant-based agriculture that functioned at the technical level of the 18th century. If it was possible for the revolutionary Marxists of the time to have been able to select a nation in which to attempt to create the first revolutionary socialist workers state, no one – and we mean absolutely no one! – would have selected Tsarist Russia as their first choice or even as one of their top ten choices. But that is what happened; and if we are to be honest in our analysis of any revolution we must analyze its development as it actually happened and not as we wish it had happened. This requires a lot of specialized study of original historical documents and periodicals that were produced by the leading revolutionaries and their political parties rather than the typically superficial survey of anti-communist “histories” written by pro-capitalist historians which you get if you study these revolutionary movements in pro-capitalist universities. Written history is not politically neutral at all; every historian of the socialist movement (including ourselves) has their own political bias for or against the ideals of the revolutionary socialist movement and the revolutions that were led by revolutionary socialist leaders and their parties. As workers you must decide if you think that it is better for 5% of the world’s population to own all the wealth and run the planet or if it would be better for the future of the world to be determined democratically by the vast majority of the world’s population: you, the workers. There is no tenable position to take in some imaginary middle ground between these two options.

We do not believe that there is any divine metaphysical force directing human destiny; but it is difficult not to get the feeling when studying the history of the Russian Revolution that in 1917 fate dealt the revolutionary socialist movement an extremely tough hand to play when it arranged that the most optimal conditions for the first socialist workers revolution in history would occur, of all places, in the ruins of Tsarist Russia. In our opinion it is proof of the incredible bravery and daring of what stands to this day as the greatest revolutionary socialist party that has yet existed – the Bolshevik Party, led by one of the most honest and brilliant men in human history, Lenin – that they dared to make the attempt to build socialism under what almost all historians agree were the most adverse conditions imaginable. That the Bolsheviks managed to succeed in so many ways despite having made some very serious and costly mistakes – especially in terms of human lives lost – is an enduring testimony to their determination to succeed in building socialism at any cost and to prove that firm foundations for a socialist society could be laid down even under the most adverse conditions. Lenin’s Bolsheviks achieved great successes at the cost of tremendous self-sacrifice among the Bolsheviks and their supporters: thousands of young and idealistic communist workers were slaughtered by the counterrevolutionary Tsarist armies that attempted to restore the monarchy after the revolution. On top of that, the birth pangs of this life-or-death struggle between the remnants of the overthrown Tsarist regime and the peasants and workers government led by the Bolsheviks led to the deaths of several million people. Just as in the American and French revolutions, millions of revolutionary workers and peasants were killed in the fighting to bring a new type of government into existence. And as in the American and French revolutions, the new Bolshevik revolutionary government made some serious errors that added to the human cost; there is no denying this fact. So if in spite of this we still honor and defend the Russian Revolution to this day it is not out of ignorance or because we deny that millions of human beings suffered and died perhaps needlessly due to the inevitable difficulties and struggles that always occur in every revolution – whether it is a bourgeois capitalist revolution like the American and French revolutions or a communist-led one like the Bolshevik revolution – what we must do – and what we as Trotskyists have been doing since the founding of our movement in the late 1920s – is to make a cold, hard, pro-working-class analysis of the reality of what was and was not achieved and what was and was not avoidable during this heroic attempt of the Bolsheviks to create a completely new, modern, democratic socialist workers government under extremely difficult conditions. We study the history of the development of the USSR in all its many-sided aspects both good and bad and draw our honest conclusions from there, regardless of whether or not it “makes the Bolsheviks look bad”. Only through hard work and truthful analysis made always with the historical interests of the working class in mind can we create an intelligent revolutionary socialist programme to create a much better development of human civilization than is possible under the present capitalist system. That is our one and only goal.

Trotskyists defended and still defend the gains of the Russian, Chinese and all the other socialist revolutions; we did not and do not defend everything done by Stalin, Mao, their ideological heirs or their respective repressive regimes.

In spite of the oppressive nature and pro-capitalist betrayals of the Maoist “capitalist roaders” in the so-called “Communist Party” of China, these numbers prove that planned socialist economies can work quite well compared to capitalist economies.

So what are our conclusions? First of all as Trotskyists we know as well as any of Stalin’s many victims what life was like under Stalinism. Members of Trotsky’s Left Opposition were among the first to stand up and vehemently oppose and then to be brutally crushed by the Stalinist bureaucratic apparatus; we have no illusions in respect to the true, monstrous nature of the Stalin regime. The development of Stalinist ideology has at its very foundations the abandonment of the fundamental revolutionary Marxist principle of adherence to revolutionary internationalism. The Stalinists, after having proven conclusively that they were incapable of leading the revolutionary Communist International (“Comintern”) which they inherited, to any successes (due to their undemocratic, bureaucratic schematism which they attempted with massive failure to apply in Germany, China and Spain) concluded, erroneously, that since the workers in other countries were incapable of overthrowing their respective capitalist states, they should abandon the Marxist/Leninist programme of revolutionary internationalism entirely. Instead, the Stalinists decided that the task ahead for the USSR was not to fight for workers revolutions worldwide but to retreat inside the borders of the USSR and to build “socialism in one country” – Russia. They set about to degrade the role of the Comintern from being a powerful engine of world-wide workers revolution to that of forcibly subordinating the communist parties all over the world to defend the right of the USSR to exist in its own limited political and economic sphere independent of the capitalist world. This thoroughly counterrevolutionary about-face led to a series of moves being taken by the Stalinists which ultimately led to the complete dismantling of the Comintern as a “peace offering” to the capitalist world. The Stalinists abandoned that prospect in favor of feathering their own nests and making “peace” with the capitalist world. They sought peace with the Nazis, and when that, too failed, the Stalinists sought to make peace with the “democratic West”: Communist parties around the world subordinated themselves to the “democratic” or “progressive” bourgeoisies of their respective capitalist nation-states and sought to become a nationalistic, reformist political parties just a shade to the left of the parties of the Second International. The Stalinists, in a manner very similar to that of the Second Internationalist political parties who abandoned Marxism to defend “their own” bourgeoisies in WWI, ordered the communist parties of the world to defend “their own” bourgeoisies in the global war to re-divide the world amongst the competing capitalist nation-states in WWII. After the war ended this series of betrayals of the Stalinists led ultimately to the “if you can’t beat them, join them” attitude of the late-Stalinist regimes under Gorbachev (a parallel development can be seen in China under Mao with his disgusting rapprochement with the Nixon regime even as US bombs were raining down on Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia). The Maoists, who were nothing more than a Chinese version of the Stalinists have followed a similar path, with Mao first drinking toasts to the health of Richard Nixon and US imperialism to his cretinous follower Deng Xiaoping’s declaration that “to be rich is glorious”, which is the motto of today’s thoroughly reactionary and increasingly pro-capitalist Chinese Communist Party. The “Juche Ideal”, promoted by the Stalinists of the DPRK, is just a North Korean version of “building socialism in one country”, only made even more utopian and unattainable due to the tiny size and political and economic isolation of the DPRK from the rest of the world.

What “failed” in the USSR was not the revolutionary socialism of Marx, Lenin and Trotsky but its degenerated, bureaucratized and ultimately counterrevolutionary antipode: Stalinism.

Our analysis of the development and degeneration of the Russian Revolution – from its promising revolutionary Marxist beginnings under the leadership of Lenin and Trotsky to its slow and brutal destruction first under Stalin and then under his ideological heirs all the way to the restoration of capitalism in the USSR without so much as a shot being fired by the working class in its defense – is that what we saw with the collapse of the USSR was the complete and total failure – not of socialism – but of Stalinism, which revealed itself to be utterly counterrevolutionary in the final analysis – precisely as Trotsky had analyzed it way back in the 1930s.

The very last thing we intend to do is to follow the paths laid out by Stalin, Mao or any of their epigones: we seek to learn all of the hard-fought and won lessons of all of these revolutions and to incorporate all of the best elements of them into our political program to bring modern socialist workers democracies into being throughout the world that are far more democratic than any bourgeois democracy could ever be. We repudiate and condemn the disgusting show trials conducted by the Stalinists in which innocent people were forced to “confess” to monstrous crimes and were then either executed or sent to a Siberian exile just as brutal as that suffered by the revolutionary workers under the Tsar’s regime. We completely oppose and denounce any attempt to reproduce today the hideous and anti-Marxist Stalinist and Maoist police-state bureaucracies as they existed in the USSR and in China under Mao, for example. We have seen absolute proof of the fundamentally reactionary nature of Stalinist and Maoist political ideology: the Stalinist and Maoist political roads lead, ultimately, back to capitalism.

What about Cuba, Vietnam and the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK aka North Korea)?

All of the regimes leading most of the “communist” states in the world: Castroist Cuba, Maoist China, Stalinist Vietnam and (to a lesser extent so far) the Kim Il Sung-ist DPRK– are essentially Stalinist regimes in which the leading “Communist Parties” are thoroughly nationalist and reactionary and are moving the country away from the ideals of socialism and towards the restoration of capitalism. This is a monstrous betrayal of the workers of those countries and a betrayal of the workers of the entire world. Still, we defend the gains of these workers socialist revolutions; and in any war between the capitalist, imperialist powers and these bureaucratically deformed workers states we will defend the workers states and intransigently oppose the imperialist capitalist powers – including the greatest enemy of the US working class, the US capitalist class and their imperialist government. We call on the workers of Cuba, China, Vietnam and the DPRK to begin organizing revolutionary Trotskyist parties so that they can prepare to lead a political revolution that overthrows the Stalinist/Maoist betrayers and places the revolutionary vanguard of the proletariat in power. We call on them to simultaneously defend what is left of the socialist economic foundations of those countries and to honor the heroic, revolutionary socialist roots of their respective revolutions. If Stalinism is not overthrown and replaced by a democratic dictatorship of the proletariat then capitalism will be eventually restored in every one of these countries by the counterrevolutionary and corrupt Stalinist/Maoist communist party bureaucrats; it is just a matter of time before they consummate their betrayals of the workers.

North Korea presents a somewhat different case: it alone in the world continues to fight to defend the socialist property forms created as a result of the Korean workers socialist revolution and has also refused to allow any major incursion of capitalism into the DPRK (though even there the leadership has allowed the capitalists of South Korea to make their first tentative inroads towards capitalist development). Only the murderous belligerence of the US Government, which seeks to place the DPRK on the capitalist road a la China and Vietnam, keeps the North Korean Stalinists from consummating a Gorbachevite betrayal of the workers of the DPRK. By abandoning revolutionary Marxist/Leninist internationalism in favor of the nationalist “Juche Ideals” of Kim Il Sung, the bureaucrats of the DPRK are clearly, if only semi-consciously, laying the groundwork for eventual capitalist restoration in the DPRK.

The capitalist system has long outlived its usefulness and has become the primary obstacle to the future progress of the human race.

We believe that the capitalist system has long outlived its usefulness and can now only lead the world through an endless series of boom-and-bust cycles punctuated by small and large wars, culminating most likely in another global conflagration: a nuclear world war. Preventing the capitalist system’s wanton destruction of hundreds of millions of workers’ lives and the global environment is impossible under a capitalist system that is based on competing capitalist nation-states. So long as the capitalist system exists there will continue to be racism, environmental destruction, poverty, starvation, unemployment, religious bigotry, the oppression of women, discrimination against national minorities and war. Only the organization of the entire world into co-operative socialist workers states can begin to unite the workers of the entire world in the global efforts that are absolutely necessary if we are to stop the destruction of the lives of our working-class brothers and sisters all over the world and the continued destruction of the planet’s environmental treasures. Only under a rationally planned global socialist economic system can we undertake the enormously expensive necessary steps to reverse the ravages our planet has suffered under the destructive anarchy of capitalist exploitation of the world’s natural resources.

The capitalists care about one thing and one thing only: money. Human beings are worth nothing to them; in their money-mad minds the natural resources of our planet exist simply to enable them to get even more money. They pursue the acquisition of wealth with a vicious, pathological persistence that places their own selfish personal interests above that of the entire population of the world and even above what is necessary to maintain the continued existence of human beings on this planet. We are not exaggerating one bit when we say: “Capitalism must die so that the planet and the working class may live”.

Fortunately we do not have to invent an entirely new political philosophy to find our way forward in this critically important juncture of the development of human civilization; the program of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky will serve us well as the basis of our own modern revolutionary socialist programme. We base our party on our firm belief that all workers all over the world are our sisters and brothers; we want to unite all workers to work together internationally to make life easier for human beings to live and thrive while we simultaneously protect our shared planet, its environment and all our fellow creatures who live on it. All the capitalists are promising us today is that our lives are going to get harder and harder; there is literally no future worth living for the working class under the capitalist system.

The main problem with capitalism is that it is fundamentally anarchic and purely profit-driven: there is no way under capitalism to develop a rational plan for the protection and restoration of the global environment, for example, because it is more profitable for the capitalists to invest in projects that exploit natural resources by destroying the environment than it is to develop them while simultaneously protecting the environment. Only after the insane supremacy of the profit motive is overthrown once and for all can we even begin to undertake scientific studies to determine how bad the damage has been which the capitalists have done to our planet: their pathological love for money over all else drives them to poison the scientific wells with bogus scientific studies that make science-based inquiry practically impossible. We have seen this with their creation of the global-warming-denialist movement. The human race can not move forward an inch until we rid ourselves of these noxious, murderous capitalist pests who subordinate the interests of the entire planet to their own personal lust for more and more money!

How would life under socialism be better for the workers?

A socialist world would make possible for the first time the ability of the human race to seize control of human destiny by overthrowing the lust for profits and replacing it with a rationally planned economic system in which all production is subordinated to the needs of the entire human race as well as the environment which sustains us. Under socialism we would be able to do something the capitalist world has never been able to do and which it is impossible to do under capitalism: to not just merely reduce but to eliminate the scourges of starvation, homelessness and disease that are crippling the creative potential of the entire human race. In socialist countries they have always been able to begin to end homelessness on the very first day after the overthrow of capitalism simply by making it illegal to deny people the right to housing. They did this by immediately placing homeless people in unoccupied apartments, houses and hotel rooms! That is impossible under capitalism, where housing is not a right but a privilege granted (or denied) to workers at the whim of the capitalist landlords and bankers. In the “democratic” USA, we have the “right to the pursuit of happiness” – but we do not have the right to actually achieve it by guaranteeing to everyone access to all the things that enable a person to be happy, regardless of race, creed, color, sex, sexuality or ability to pay… “little things” like jobs, food, clothing, shelter and health care! Under socialism all those things that are necessary to create human happiness will be guaranteed to all.

We can free the working people from the debasing need to endlessly pursue money for basic survival and to guarantee all the necessities of life to each and every human being on this planet, so that every human being on Earth can enjoy their lives to the fullest, not just the wealthiest 10%. Under capitalism, workers are forced to endlessly chase after dollar bills, like a horde of desperate idiots. The constant struggle for basic human needs which workers are faced to suffer through is an enormous waste of human creative potential. Instead of “pursuing happiness” we must pursue the money for food, clothing, shelter and medical care, competing like animals against all the other workers for jobs while the capitalist class sits there in luxury, laughing at us all the way to the bank. Under socialism we can put an end to the struggle for survival for the first time for the entire human race through a rationally planned economy.

What would rational planning be? For example: a socialist workers government would guarantee all able-bodied workers a job so they could contribute to the building of a prosperous society for everyone. If, for some reason you were laid off, you would receive 100% of the pay you received while you were working, so your standard of living would not suffer. Since housing and health care would be guaranteed as a fundamental right, the loss of your job would not mean the loss of health care for you and your family; nor would it mean that you would be facing eviction from your home! This is impossible to do under the capitalist system! These goals are not utopian, they are eminently reasonable and realizable with the technology and the productive capacity we have at hand today.

Capitalism IS the problem!

The only thing stopping us from achieving these goals is the capitalist system that will not and can not end the scourges of unemployment, homelessness, starvation and disease because – it is not “profitable” for the capitalists to do so! Every day we continue to allow the numerically tiny, greed-maddened capitalist class to dominate our lives is another day in which thousands of workers will be thrown out of their jobs for no fault of their own; it is another day in which thousands of children will suffer hunger and chronic illness and die of starvation and preventable disease; it is another day where tens of thousands of our sisters and brothers will die for lack of basic medical services; it is another day in which millions of our children will not have the opportunity to attend a school, see a doctor, or get anything to eat at all. As workers of the world we have it in our power right now to put an end to all this needless suffering endemic to the capitalist system!

What can we as workers do to put an end to the misery we suffer under capitalism and start fighting for socialism?

We can put an end to it only by organizing revolutionary socialist workers parties dedicated to the overthrowing of the capitalist system and to replacing it with egalitarian democratic socialist workers governments. Every day we wait brings us one day closer to environmental catastrophe and very likely it brings us one day closer to the next global world war. We must snap ourselves out of the dull-minded, passive stupor we’ve had drilled into our minds by the capitalist entertainment and infotainment propaganda that has convinced too many of us that the capitalist world is “the best of all possible worlds”! If we want our children to live better, more fulfilling lives we must fight for that future, because it will not be given to us by a capitalist class that seeks only to figure out how they can put more of our hard-earned money into their bank accounts! The working class makes up the vast majority of the world’s population and has the right to determine how and by whom this planet will be governed. Why do we allow the top 5% of the world’s population to run the planet and to seize more than half of the world’s wealth? Workers of the world, it is time to wake up and unite to fight for your rights and to shatter the chains that bind us to a system that robs us blind, destroys the planet we live on and promises our children a future of wars over water, land and natural resources! The revolution will not happen on the Internet; it must be brought into existence by organizing revolutionary socialist workers parties to fight to bring a much better future into existence. It is time to shake off your passivity and join in this work before it is too late, for the sake of your own and your children’s and grand-children’s futures! We can’t do it for you or without you!

Capitalism must die so that the planet and the working class may live!”

IWPCHI

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“Fight for $15” “Speaks Truth to Power”; “Power” Says: “Go to Hell!”

The capitalists who run this country – and who own and operate both of the political parties – the Democrats and the Republicans – and who also own and operate the Green Party and the Libertarian Party as well – tell you that you should not expect to make a decent living wage while working at a typical service economy job. It was this same capitalist class – or their parents – the capitalists of the last generation – who systematically dismantled the large industries of this country in the 1970s and 1980s – the steel mills – they shut them down; the factories – they shut them down and moved them overseas where the unions were weak and the wages were low. The US capitalist class deliberately destroyed millions of high-paying union jobs here in the USA – and told the workers “oh don’t worry; the economy is just evolving into a service economy – there will be plenty of jobs for everyone.” What they didn’t tell you is that these new jobs would be low-paying and unskilled and that they would be non-union jobs. And now when you demand that you be paid a decent living wage in this new “service economy – they tell you that your demands are unreasonable; that raising the minimum wage will hurt the economy! When you play by the rules that the capitalist class creates to make themselves rich and drive you into poverty you will lose every time. Is $15/hour “unreasonable”? No! In fact, $15 an hour is far too low to be a living wage.

Economists have told us that in order for a person or a family to live decently, to be able to afford to pay for housing, food, clothing, daycare and all the other expenses of life – and now they have added the burden of paying for health care too, something that no workers in any other industrialized country have to pay for – in order for us to live well we should not have to pay more than 25% of our monthly income for housing. Originally, back in the 1970s, the limit was 25% – in the 1980s, when it first became clear even to the government economists that very few people in the US actually paid just 25% of their income on housing – they were paying much more – they raised the limit to 30%. So now they go by this new limit that you should never have to pay more than 30% of your monthly income on housing. And so they took that 30% number and they used it to create what they call a “living wage”: that is: how much money does a worker have to make to be able to pay no more than 30% of his or her given monthly income in any city in the USA? And for Chicago – and this was ten years ago! – they came up with the figure of $20 an hour or something like that. That was 10 years ago – and it was confirmed again in a new study published in 2015! This is true!

In 2015 the “National Low Income Housing Coalition” published a study called “Out of Reach – Low Wages and High Rents Lock Renters Out”.  Now you know that this study’s conclusions must be very reasonable because the study was funded by the banking firm of J.P. Morgan and Chase! In this study, the average housing costs are calculated for every state and every county in every state, and then they determine from what the rent costs for an average two-bedroom apartment in every county and use that figure to determine what the mimimum wage must be in order for workers to not have to pay more than 30% of their income on rent. For Cook County, IL – this was a study published in 2015, so the figures at the time of publication were most likely a year old – they determined that a fair minimum wage for a worker with a small family who needed a two bedroom apartment had to be at least $21.02/hr or $43,720 a year! This is why we in the Independent Workers party of Chicago don’t understand why your leaders are “Fighting for $15” when even J.P. Morgan Chase’s own study says that in order to live like a human being here in Chicago you need to make at least $21/hour! Obviously, the leaders of the “Fight for $15” movement are overly concerned that if they ask for $21 – which is what is actually necessary – they will seem unreasonable to the capitalists. So they are limiting the demand to just $15/hour. Very reasonable, right? They are more concerned about looking reasonable to the billionaires than they are about fighting for you and your families!

The Democrats ho run “Fight for $15” are doing what the US billionaire class hired them to do: keep wages low and profits high. $15/hr minwage is $6 BELOW what J.P. Morgan study said – in 2015 – was minimum wage necessary to live decently in Cook County.   Source: “Out of Reach” p 69.

So the organizers of “Fight for $15” go and bring their very, overly reasonable demand for a statewide $15/hour minimum wage to Governor Bruce Rauner of Illinois. Now as we all know, Bruce Rauner is a very wealthy man. He’s not just a millionaire – he’s not even a “hundred-millionaire”! He’s a BILLIONAIRE! He has spent his life robbing the workers of this nation blind so he could have all that money – that is a fact – no one gets to be a billionaire without ripping off a whole lot of people!

And what does Billionaire Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner say to you when you ask him for the very, overly reasonable minimum wage of $15/hour? He tells you to go to hell! Why? Because in his opinion – and in the opinion of the US capitalist class – which makes up less than 5 percent of the US population – it will “ruin the Illinois economy” if millions of Illinoisans get paid just $15/hr. ! “$15/hr is UNREASONABLE” says billionaire Bruce Rauner!

Well that is bullshit! But do you want to know what is really unreasonable and what is really ruining the US and the world economy? What is REALLY unreasonable is that capitalist billionaire Bruce Rauner and his billionaire friends – who together make up only 3% of the US population – own over 50% of the wealth of the USA! The billionaires of the US – and that includes that racist pig president we have now, the friend of the Nazis and enemy of the workers Donald Trump – these billionaires who make up just 3% of the population own over 50% of the national wealth! And does Bruce Rauner think that THAT is unreasonable? NO HE DOESN’T! He thinks that it is fair for 3% to own 50% of the wealth – to him and his capitalist friends, they’re splitting the wealth evenly 50-50: 50% for the 3% who are billionaires and 50% for the other 97% of the US population! And he has the nerve to tell you that your very reasonable demand for just $15/hr is UNREASONABLE and that if it is adopted it will ruin the economy!

The life of a capitalist wage slave is not pleasant once you know how badly you’re getting screwed by your capitalist “friends”. Recent Trends in WEALTH Distribution in USA, 1989-2013. Federal Reserve Bulletin, p. 11.

Bruce Rauner is a liar! When the minimum wage is increased all of that money that gets paid to the workers gets put right back into the economy and makes the economy grow. The more the workers make the better the economy is. For the workers all that money is going to get spent on the necessities of life for ourselves and our families. So when Bruce Rauner or anyone tells you that raising the minimum wage is going to ruin the economy, they are lying! What these lies about raising the minimum wage mean is that these billionaires who own this country and who own and operate both of the political parties in this phony democracy of ours would rather see you all drop dead than give you a living wage so you and your families can live like human beings! And this 3% of filthy rich greedheads will impoverish the entire nation and get away with it because they own and operate the political parties in this country! The fact is that in this phony democracy of ours, the minority rules! The 3% can tell 97% to go to hell and get away with it every time because they own the politicians in all of the major political parties – and then they turn around and call this a democratic system of government!

How is it that just 3% of the population gets to own 50% of the national wealth and gets to deny the vast majority of the population – you, the working class – the right to raise the minimum wage to a reasonable level for survival? They get to do this because YOU the workers – who make up at least 70% of the population – do not have even ONE representative at the state or national levels of government! Every single state rep and state senator – every single representative and senator in Washington – is owned by the billionaires of this country. The billionaires have bought every important politician in the statehouses and in the national government – and you the workers, who make up the vast majority of the population – do not have even ONE representative fighting for your rights! How did this happen and what can you do about it?

It has happened because you have not created your own workers party that is owned and operated by you – instead you have remained loyal to the two parties of big business – the Republicans and especially the Democrats. So when they tell you that you don’t need your own political party, all you need to do is “speak truth to power” power can ignore you, because you do not have even one representative in the state or national governments of this country. Because you the workers have not understood the importance of having your own political party owned and operated by you – a workers party that has the power – because you are the vast majority of the population of this country – to run this nation in YOUR interest – “power” can just ignore you and can continue to run the government in the interests of the 3%.

They tell you that the Democratic Party is “the party of the working class”. Well everyone knows that is a huge lie. If the Democratic Party was “the party of the working class”… when Barack Obama was first elected and came into office in 2009 the Democrats controlled both the House and the Senate. The Republican Party had been completely discredited in the corrupt swindle of the housing crash of 2008. The Democrats, who controlled the White House, the House and the Senate in Washington could have passed any kind of legislation they wanted to! If they wanted to make the minimum wage $15/hr they could have done it right then and there. But they didn’t: instead, they took out a loan for $1.7 trillion dollars to bail out the banks that had created the housing crash in the first place – and then they stood by and did nothing as millions of people lost their homes. They didn’t even send one banker responsible for this biggest-ever swindle in the history of the world to jail! And they didn’t do a damned thing for the workers in the entire 8 years of Obama’s presidency. The Democratic Party runs most of the major cities in the USA – which means that they run the racist police departments of the USA! It is the racist police run by the Democrats who have been murdering black workers with impunity and getting away with it because Democratic States Attorneys refuse to prosecute the cops even for the most savage crimes against the workers. Anyone who thinks that the Democratic Party is “the party of the workers” should have their head examined! The Democrats do not now and they never have been “the party of the working class”. Almost every single Democrat and every single Republican in the last analysis is a bought-and-paid-for servant of the billionaire class – the capitalist class of the US.

What can you do about this? It is absolutely necessary – if you want to be able to exercise your rights as the vast majority of the population as workers – you absolutely MUST dump the Democrats and the Republicans and build yourselves a workers party that is 100% funded by you, run by you and operated solely in YOUR class interests. You need a workers party that will lead the fight for a workers government – those who labor should and must rule! That is the kind of party we in the Independent Workers Party of Chicago want to build. It will be a party that is owned and operated by you the working class. It will not represent the capitalist class at all – it will only represent you the workers. But how will we fund this party? It will be funded through your donations and for those who want to be members of the party through your membership dues – just like a trade union. All of the money will be spent on organizing this party and getting as many worker-representatives elected as possible to the local, state and national legislative bodies of this nation. This party will be an actual political party – not just a lame NGO that relegates itself to “speaking truth to power”. The working class will BE the power! We will no longer go around begging the politicians owned and operated by the working class to “do for us”: we will do for ourselves! We will be in a position not to just BEG for a raise in the minimum wage, we will have a majority in the house and senate and we will be able to pass whatever legislation we want. In other words, a workers party will demand that the majority – the working class – must decide how this country is run and will take the power out of the hands of the 3% of greedy billionaires like Bruce Rauner and place it in the hands of the vast majority – you, the working class! We need to throw out of power – permanently – that gang of greedy billionaires that is right now using their Democratic and Republican parties to run this country like a slave plantation!

The revolutionary Trotskyist Independent Workers Party of Chicago says: the organizers of the fight for $15 are being far too reasonable: it costs more than $15/hr to live decently in Chicago. The capitalist system is a system by which the vast majority of the population is robbed blind so a handful of billionaires can live like kings! We do not want to be “reasonable” we want to get rid of the capitalist system before it gets rid of us and our families! In Illinois we need a $25/hr minimum wage – and that minimum wage should be strictly indexed to inflation – and it should be automatically raised each and every year at least 1% above the rate of inflation! Workers should not be made to pay with their lives so that a handful of millionaires and billionaires can steal half of the wealth of the nation and use it to purchase total control of the political system of the nation! We need to make the billionaires pay for the suffering caused by their crumbling capitalist system which robs the poor and gives to the rich; which makes a handful of people obscenely rich and leaves a constantly growing number of millions of workers in poverty!

We’re the Independent Workers Party of Chicago and we say: Dump the Democrats and Build A Workers Party!  Dump the Capitalist System before it dumps you!  Build A Workers Party to fight for a revolutionary Trotskyist workers government!  You can find us at iwpchi.wordpress.com and on Twitter @IWPCHI.   Happy Labor Day Everyone!

“Speaking Truth To Power”: Why It Sucks as a Political Program

In this essay we will attempt to explain why the working class needs to have its own, independent, revolutionary socialist workers party, by comparing what we would have if we had our own workers party as opposed to what we have if we just “speak truth to power”.

We don’t like to “talk down” to people.  We ourselves are not so “high up” that we could “talk down” to people even if we wanted to!  But we have to face the reality that the US working class is by far the most backward working class in the industrialized world, politically.  The US is the only major industrialized nation that does not have a mass “socialist” or “communist” party.  This means that the US working class has never risen to the level of complete working-class-consciousness; it has been stuck at the “trade-union-consciousness” stage of development since the early 1900s.  The main reason for this is that the workers of the USA have been brainwashed by the capitalist class and their bought-and-paid-for servants in the Democratic Party and in the trade unions to believe that “socialism is bad” and “capitalism is good” – and that the class interests of workers and capitalists are one and the same!  This widely-held belief among US workers  in the identity of interests of capitalists and workers would make workers in every other industrialized country – and many so-called “third world” countries – shake their heads in disbelief.   This decades-long brainwashing of the working class has made it impossible for even intelligent people like Edward Snowden to simply  tell the difference between a communist and a fascist!

Brilliant whistleblower Edward Snowden displays the typical crippled political consciousness of the working class in the USA.

If Edward Snowden can’t tell the difference between Mao – a lifelong member of the Communist Party – and Hitler – who was never a member of any socialist organization ever and who incinerated tens of thousands of communists and socialists in his death camps (and Snowden’s a relatively educated US worker) you get a good basic idea of just how ignorant US workers are when it comes to politics.  This state of political ignorance among the US working class bore its most malignant fruit ever when the workers of the USA voted for a worker-hating billionaire for President – thinking that, somehow, a disgusting greedhead racist pig like Donald Trump would fight for the rights of workers! But that is getting off the track of our basic lesson plan on PoliSci101 as taught by a revolutionary worker!  Our subject today is not Donald Trump but one of the big political swindles going on in the so-called workers movement of the US, namely the “need” to “speak truth to power”.  What in hell does this political phrase “Speak Truth To Power” really mean?  And if it seems to you like we are “talking down” to you maybe it only seems that way because you, worker of the USA, have a vastly exaggerated sense of your own political wisdom, which, in fact, you do not possess AT ALL!  This is why you keep on voting this year for the Democrats and next year for the Republicans and still can’t understand why your lives aren’t getting better.    So please read on and see if you learn something.

“Speaking Truth to Power!” Sounds good, doesn’t it? Or maybe it should be like this: “SPEAKING TRUTH TO POWER!” Even better, right? It’s like a demand now. Or how about: “SPEAKING TRUTH TO POWER!”. Now THAT is a revolutionary slogan! But let’s go all out and say we are “SPEAKING TRUTH TO POWER!” Take THAT, “powers that be”!

No matter how you write it; no matter how you say it, it means just one thing: “we accept the status quo; we know that there is a power up there somewhere and it is often against us; but if we just let those rightful “powers that be” hear our demands, they will become afraid of us and will do what we demand of them.”

As revolutionary Trotskyists, we study political speech scientifically. Everyone knows that all words have specific meanings; and that political words have special political meanings. But what most workers are only dimly aware of is that when political words are combined into political phrases by the enemies of the working class, those meanings are distorted, falsified and turned into lies. A clever phrase like “speak truth to power” is made to sound militant and revolutionary when in fact it is servile and cowardly – anything but revolutionary. Yet so-called “revolutionaries” seem to *love* the phrase “speak truth to power”. This is just one of the signs that they are fake-revolutionaries.

When political words are combined into phrases their meanings become (usually) more complex. It is our job as Trotskyist political scientists to deconstruct these slippery phrases used by fake-revolutionaries and other defenders of the capitalist system and to clearly show to the working class how these clever phrases are used to rip the working class off. And today’s lesson will show that the seemingly radical and revolutionary phrase “speak truth to power” contains a complete reformist political program that completely disarms the working class politically and hands it over to its mortal enemy, the capitalist class, bound and gagged!

So let’s analyze this political formula: “speak” “truth” “to” “power”. Break it down into its component parts. “Speak”: means of course to address something to someone else. We speak to communicate ideas. That part is straightforward.

The next word describes what we should say: “truth”. The working class is basically honest; when it addresses individuals or groups of individuals we as workers like to have the truth on our side and we also like our leaders to speak the truth to us and to whomever we ask them to address on our behalf. “Speak truth”. Very nice, nothing to oppose there. So far this phrase seems to be OK. And so is “Speak truth to”. Obviously if we are going to speak truth we must speak it to… someone.

“Speak truth” to whom? To whom will we address our speech? To “power”. What is “power”? Obviously, if we are going to “speak truth to” power, then “power must be a thing, some kind of material entity. You do not “speak truth to” the dog or to the birds in the trees, or to the sky; you speak truth to a person or persons. So this word “power” must be a noun, correct? Who constitutes this “power” we wish to address?

The Merriam-Webster English dictionary defines the word “power” in this way:

1 power

noun, often attributive pow·er \ˈpau̇(-ə)r\

1. a : (1) ability to act or produce an effect (2) : ability to get extra-base hits (3) : capacity for being acted upon or undergoing an effect
b: legal or official authority, capacity, or right
2. a : possession of control, authority, or influence over others b : one having such power; specifically a sovereign state c : a controlling group; establishment —often used in the phrase the powers that be
d archaic: a force of armed men; e: chiefly dialectal; a large number or quantity
3. a : physical might b : mental or moral efficacy c : political control or influence
4. powers plural : an order of angels — see celestial hierarchy
5. a : the number of times as indicated by an exponent that a number occurs as a factor in a product 5 to the third power is 125; also : the product itself 8 is a power of 2 b : cardinal number 2
6. a : a source or means of supplying energy; especially : electricity b : motive power c : the time rate at which work is done or energy emitted or transferred
7 : magnification
8. scope
9 : the probability of rejecting the null hypothesis in a statistical test when a particular alternative hypothesis happens to be true
Source: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/power

Looking at this list of the many definitions of the word “power”, we see that we can immediately eliminate several of these: 1a; 2a and e; 3; and the mathematical and parametrical references of 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9. That leaves us with these:

1. b: legal or official authority, capacity, or right
2. b : one having such power [over others – refers to definition 2a – IWPCHI]; specifically a sovereign state c : a controlling group; establishment —often used in the phrase the powers that be
d archaic: a force of armed men
Now in the case of “speaking truth to power” as it relates to the “archaic” definition of “a force of armed men”; it is interesting that in the dictionaries of the capitalist period this is considered to be no longer valid. But of course the “forces of armed men” are not the “power” we are addressing when we use the phrase “speaking truth to power”. Everyone knows that the police are the armed fist of “power” but not “power” itself. The police are merely the pawns of those “in power” and are ordered to do their dirty work by “power”.
That leaves us with “legal or official authority”; “one having such power over others”; a “controlling group or establishment”. This must be the “power” we are “speaking truth to”.
The first thing that strikes a revolutionary Trotskyist when analyzing this term “power” as it applies to the “establishment” that runs the city, state or nation is that it is a very vague term that does not correctly describe the true nature of this “power”. As revolutionary Marxists, we understand that the real “power” in any capitalist country like the United States is held in the hands of the “capitalist class”. So why, we ask, did the people who came up with the phrase “speak truth to power” deliberately choose the vague term “power” instead of the more scientifically precise and correct term “capitalist class”?
The reason is simple: they do not want to use the more precise and scientific term because if they did then they would be revealed to be revolutionary Marxists and not the simple reformists that they actually are. If you use the precise, scientific Marxist language, you will be labeled by the “powerful” capitalist class as a “commie”; and the reformists who created this wonderfully vague demand to “speak truth to power” DON’T WANT THEIR CAPITALIST MASTERS TO MISIDENTIFY THEM AS MARXIST REVOLUTIONARIES! At the same time these reformists wish to trick YOU the workers into believing that they are “radical” and adventurous by “SPEAKING TRUTH TO POWER!”
Let’s look a bit closer at this tricky bit of verbal posturing encompassed by the seemingly innocuous phrase “speak truth to power”, designed to make the reformist mice look like LIONS to the uninitiated (though at the same time providing a wink and a nod to the “powerful” that says “don’t worry, we’re not going to go beyond merely “speaking truth to power!”).
Every revolutionary Trotskyist “speaks truth” to every worker she or he talks to; it is our tradition, it is our job, it is our promise to you and it has always been the #1 rule of revolutionary Marxism: to never lie to the working class. But to “power”? Well, there are certainly times when it is NOT wise to “speak truth to power”; like when you are organizing a union in a non-union shop; or when a capitalist asks you how you like working for his company.
Only cowering slaves take the position that they must always “speak truth to power”. They rat out their fellow workers in order to ingratiate themselves with the capitalists. They always tend to lie to their fellow workers and to tell the truth as they understand it to their masters.
So why do the reformists try to inculcate in the minds of the working class that they must always “SPEAK TRUTH TO POWER”? Whose side are they on: the side of the workers or the side of the capitalists?
But isn’t it OK in a demonstration, say, in Washington, D.C. to come right out and make our demands, to honestly and openly address our grievances to “the powers that be”? Of course it is. BUT FOR REVOLUTIONARY TROTSKYISTS, “SPEAKING TRUTH TO POWER” IS NOT AN END IN ITSELF! We don’t just “speak truth to power” and then go home, grinning like idiots because “we really told them off this time, didn’t we”? IF ALL WE DO IS “SPEAK TRUTH TO POWER” WE HAVEN’T DONE A DAMNED THING AT ALL! We are still “power”-less workers who have merely addressed our pitiful grievances to “the powers that be” (who, in the case of the vast majority of mass demonstrations in Washington, D.C. make certain to leave town well in advance of the Big Demo)! If all we do is “SPEAK TRUTH TO POWER!” … and then the “power” tells us to go fuck ourselves…? What do we do when this “power” answers our honest appeal with rubber bullets, tear gas and even live ammunition? Do we keep on crawling and begging the “legitimate powers that be” to accept our humble petitions like the peasants did in Tsarist Russia, crawling on their knees to the Tsar’s palaces to present their petitions, hats-in-hands – only to be shot down like dogs by the Tsarist military? Are we workers today more or less cowardly than our peasant ancestors?
As for the reformists like Cornel West and Bernie Sanders who love to look tough in front of the workers by “SPEAKING TRUTH TO POWER!” – that is all they intend to do! They “SPEAK TRUTH TO POWER!” morning, noon and night – and “power” ignores them and even laughs in their faces! Why can “power” do this? Because so long as the working class idiotically contents itself with merely “SPEAKING TRUTH TO POWER!” and does not go on to organize a revolutionary workers party that will lead the fight to actually “TAKE POWER OUT OF THE HANDS OF THE CAPITALIST CLASS AND PLACE IT IN THE HANDS OF THE WORKING CLASS THROUGH WORKERS SOCIALIST REVOLUTION”, the “power” will keep right on enjoying its rights and privileges and its massive wealth – stolen from us! – and will never lose even one night’s sleep! So long as the working class keep following the reformist cowards and political idiots who will NEVER go beyond “SPEAKING TRUTH TO POWER!” – nothing… absolutely NOTHING will change unless the “power”-ful capitalist class “feels” like it’s a good idea.
We just had a great example of this with the “Fight For $15” campaign in Illinois. These reformists – completely tied to the apron strings of the Democratic Party – adopted a slogan that is so lame that it is amazing and it proves that they are 100% in favor of the capitalist system. For the better part of two decades now, every scientific study of the minimum wage in Illinois has stated that in order for the workers in Chicago to live like human beings, they must make at least $25/hour. This has been studied for EVER! So why do these reformist cowards who organized the “Fight For $15” (there is a misuse of the word “fight” if we ever saw one!) crawl on their knees begging the “powers that be” for a mere $15 – ten dollars an hour LESS than what is necessary for workers to live decently in this Democratic Party-run death trap for the working class?
The answer is simple: these people who are running the “Fight for $15” are more interested in trying to look “reasonable” to the “powers that be” among the Illinois capitalist class than they are in honestly and courageously demanding that the working class of Illinois get PAID ENOUGH MONEY TO LIVE ON! These reformist cowards who run the misnamed “Fight For $15” (which should be called “Get Down On Your Knees And Beg For $15”) are trying to show how loyal and responsible they are as defenders of the capitalist system by not making the – to the capitalist class – unreasonable demand (!) that Illinois workers get paid enough money to actually barely keep their heads above water! By making their demand so low, they tried to “SPEAK TRUTH TO POWER!” – but not so as to alarm anyone in the filthy rich capitalist class! The leaders of “Fight For $15” hope that if they behave themselves and can prove to the capitalist class that they can keep the “demands” of the workers well under what the capitalist class deems to be “reasonable” then they might some day be rewarded with a state senator’s job or a well-paid spot in the House of Representatives or Senate! They are interested in furthering their POLITICAL CAREERS AS LIBERAL DEMOCRATS – not in fighting for actual living wages for workers!
So they crawled through Chicago and crawled to Springfield and crawled back through Chicago again and even went to Washington D.C. and crawled there as well – always “SPEAKING TRUTH TO POWER!” but never backing that up by ORGANIZING A REVOLUTIONARY SOCIALIST WORKERS PARTY!
So what did the “powers that be” do with the all-too-“reasonable” “demand” of the “Fight For $15”?
Billionaire Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner used their petition for toilet paper and he vetoed the legislation “demanding” the starvation minimum wage of $15/hour!
So NOW what will the apostles of “SPEAKING TRUTH TO POWER!” do? They “SPOKE TRUTH TO POWER!” – and “power” told them to go get fucked! Will the “Fight for $15” people now raise their demand to “Fight for $16” or to “Fight for $25” (which is the MINIMUM of what the minimum wage MUST BE in Illinois if we want workers to live like human beings and not from paycheck-to-paycheck)? Will they continue to hide under the skirts of the Democrats, who, when they ran the State House in Springfield worked overtime to keep their piddling minimum wage always well below the rate of inflation? Or will the reformist cowards who run “Fight For $15” finally stop their phony charade and just go work for the Democrats or go get real jobs?
Who cares what they do? A reformist is as a reformist does; and these dyed-in-the-wool reformist Democrats will never amount to anything! All they can do is lead workers into the dead-end of voting for the Democrats – that is their role in this life.
Lastly we ask you, young (or old) worker: when will YOU finally realize that merely “SPEAKING TRUTH TO POWER!” has never and will never change anything and start to organize a revolutionary socialist party that seeks to get rid of a capitalist “power” that doesn’t care if you live or die and to replace that “power” with a revolutionary socialist workers government?
The working class does not need pro-capitalist intermediaries in the Democratic or Republican parties to represent us – FALSELY! – in the local, state and national governmental bodies! We need OUR OWN party 100% financed by, organized by and led by WORKERS that represents the political and economic interests of the WORKING CLASS only! Once we have such a party, we will be able to stop merely “SPEAKING TRUTH TO POWER”; we will be on our way to WORKERS POWER IN A WORKERS GOVERNMENT where we the workers – who make up the vast majority of the population in EVERY country – will decide how the wealth WE CREATE gets distributed! We will no longer have to endlessly beg our wealthy capitalist masters for a few crumbs!

Workers of the World Unite! Dump the Republicrats and Build A Revolutionary Trotskyist Workers Party and Fight For A Workers’ Government!

–IWPCHI

 

 

 

Leon Trotsky: The Workers’ Militia And Its Opponents (1934)

As we’ve been going through the always inspiring and illuminating writings of Bolshevik revolutionary and founder of the Red Army Leon Trotsky searching for works that can illustrate the need for multiracial union-based workers defense squads to beat back the rising tide of fascism in the US, we have been learning and re-learning so much that it is amazing.  So many of the 1930s-era arguments against the creation of a workers militia to smash fascism are being repeated almost word-for-word every day on Twitter!  We know that in the USA, thanks to advertising and television and its inducement of short-attention-spans in way too many workers here, the idea that something written about political events of 70 years ago could remain relevant in 2017 seems absurd.  You want “NEW!” and “IMPROVED!” political science, right?  But just as the works of Charles Darwin and Albert Einstein are still considered to be among the finest examples of scientific writing on their subjects to date, so it goes with political science.  And as it is absolutely necessary for a doctor or a physicist to study the history of developments in her field of expertise in order to more fully understand the modern approaches and discoveries, in political science we can obtain a wealth of vitally important information from the writings of the top revolutionaries of the past two centuries and apply that information directly to today’s political challenges.  It may come as a surprise, but the fundamental class structure of a capitalist state hasn’t changed much in the past 175 years or so: we still have the working class majority, a smaller petit-bourgeoisie (middle class small business owners) and a relatively tiny capitalist class to whom the majority of the national wealth is funneled year after year.  The actors change but the roles do not; petit-bourgeois politicians and businesspeople have the same complaints and roles in 2017 as they had in 1917 – with relatively minor differences in scenery and plot.  It’s like seeing a modern production of a Mozart opera, in which the clothing of the 1700s is replaced by hip-hop fashion: it looks very different but the music and lyrics remain the same.  And we are sure that our very perceptive readers will find themselves surprised to hear Trotsky, writing in 1934 (in this case) making incisive comments which, if the names of the old politicians were replaced with current US politicians, you would imagine the article was written last week.

In political science, the famous warning that “those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it” carries full force.  We assure those of you who laugh at us for using the events of 1934 as a warning in 2017 that you ignore these works at your peril.  The options for modern politicians – working class, petit-bourgeois and bourgeois – have NOT changed in the past century.  If the working class does not overthrow capitalism in 2017, and the fascists are allowed to grow, the result will be largely the same as what occurred in Germany in 1933.  The USA has a whole slew of would-be Hitlers jockeying to reprise his role in the 2017 production of “The Collapse of Bourgeois Democracy”.  The working class has its own contingent of feckless, class-collaborationist fake-socialists and pro-capitalist trade union “leaders” eager to show what they can bring to the roles of Scheidemann and Noske.  Today’s anarchists have their Bakunins, Berkmans, Makhnos and Goldmans; and the revolutionary socialists have their own up-and-coming Stalins, Kollontais, Lenins, Maos, Guevaras, and Trotskys.  All of these actors will be vying for the hearts and minds of the masses of workers, without whom there will be no play. 

“History repeats itself: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.” We do not intend to fall into the same traps that our ancestors fell into; more than that – we do not intend to lead YOU into those same traps YOUR ancestors fell into!   So that we do not do so, we must study the development of the various class forces in the past who were faced with essentially the same collapse of bourgeois democracy and essentially the same rise of fascism we are facing today around the capitalist world.  In Germany in the late 1920s and early 1930s the Communist Party refused to make a united front with the Social Democrats and form armed workers brigades capable of smashing Hitler’s gangs, paving the way for the rise of Nazi Germany.  Fascism then rose in France as well, paving the political road to the wartime Nazi-collaborationist Vichy government.  Why did bourgeois democracy fail throughout Europe in the 1930s?  Was the rise of fascism inevitable?  Is it inevitable now?  By studying the historical record of the workers movement as it struggled to overcome the obstacles hurled into its path during the interwar period of 1918 -1939 we can answer these questions. These tragic errors of the 20th century need not – and must not be – repeated in the 21st century.

— IWPCHI

*********************************

THE WORKERS’ MILITIA AND ITS OPPONENTS

From Whither France?, 1934

To struggle, it is necessary to conserve and strengthen the instrument and the means of struggle — organizations, the press, meetings, etc.  Fascism [in France] threatens all of that directly and immediately.  It is still too weak for the direct struggle for power, but it is strong enough to attempt to beat down the working-class organizations bit by bit, to temper its bands in its attacks, and to spread dismay and lack of confidence in their forces in the ranks of the workers.

Fascism finds unconscious helpers in all those who say that the “physical struggle” is impermissible or hopeless, and demand of Doumergue the disarmament of his fascist guard.  Nothing is so dangerous for the proletariat, especially in the present situation, as the sugared poison of false hopes.  Nothing increases the insolence of the fascists so much as “flabby pacificism” on the part of the workers’ organizations.  Nothing so destroys the confidence of the middle classes in the working-class as temporizing, passivity, and the absence of the will to struggle.

Le Populaire [the Socialist Party paper] and especially l’Humanite [the Communist Party newspaper] write every day:

“The united front is a barrier against fascism”;
“the united front will not permit…”;
“the fascists will not dare”, etc.

These are phrases.  It is necessary to say squarely to the workers, Socialists, and Communists: do not allow yourselves to be lulled by the phrases of superficial and irresponsible journalists and orators.  It is a question of our heads and the future of socialism.  It is not that we deny the importance of the united front.  We demanded it when the leaders of both parties were against it.  The united front opens up numerous possibilities, but nothing more.  In itself, the united front decides nothing.  Only the struggle of the masses decides.  The united front will reveal its value when Communist detachments will come to the help of Socialist detachments and vice versa in the case of an attack by the fascist bands against Le Populaire or l’Humanite.  But for that, proletarian combat detachments must exist and be educated, trained, and armed.  And if there is not an organization of defense, i.e., a workers’ militia, Le Populaire or l’Humanite will be able to write as many articles as they like on the omnipotence of the united front, but the two papers will find themselves defenseless before the first well-prepared attack of the fascists.

We propose to make a critical study of the “arguments” and the “theories” of the opponents of the workers’ militia who are very numerous and influential in the two working-class parties.

“We need mass self-defense and not the militia,” we are often told.

But what is this “mass self-defense” without combat organizations, without specialized cadres, without arms?  To give over the defense against fascism to unorganized and unprepared masses left to themselves would be to play a role incomparably lower than the role of Pontius Pilate.  To deny the role of the militia is to deny the role of the vanguard.  Then why a party?  Without the support of the masses, the militia is nothing.  But without organized combat detachments, the most heroic masses will be smashed bit by bit by the fascist gangs.  It is nonsense to counterpose the militia to self-defense. The militia is an organ of self-defense.

“To call for the organization of a militia,” say some opponents who, to be sure, are the least serious and honest, “is to engage in provocation.”

This is not an argument but an insult.  If the necessity for the defense of the workers’ organizations flows from the whole situation, how then can one not call for the creation of the militia?  Perhaps they mean to say that the creation of a militia “provokes” fascist attacks and government repression.  In that case, this is an absolutely reactionary argument.  Liberalism has always said to the workers that by their class struggle they “provoke” the reaction.

The reformists repeated this accusation against the Marxists, the Mensheviks against the Bolsheviks.  These accusations reduced themselves, in the final analysis, to the profound thought that if the oppressed do not balk, the oppressors will not be obliged to beat them.  This is the philosophy of Tolstoy and Gandhi but never that of Marx and Lenin.  If l’Humanite wants hereafter to develop the doctrine of “non-resistance to evil by violence”, it should take for its symbol not the hammer and sickle, emblem of the October Revolution, but the pious goat, which provides Gandhi with his milk.

“But the arming of the workers is only opportune in a revolutionary situation, which does not yet exist.”

This profound argument means that the workers must permit themselves to be slaughtered until the situation becomes revolutionary.  Those who yesterday preached the “third period” do not want to see what is going on before their eyes. The question of arms itself has come forward only because the “peaceful”, “normal”, “democratic” situation has given way to a stormy, critical, and unstable situation which can transform itself into a revolutionary, as well as a counter-revolutionary, situation.  This alternative depends above all on whether the advanced workers will allow themselves to be attacked with impunity and defeated bit by bit or will reply to every blow by two of their own, arousing the courage of the oppressed and uniting them around their banner.  A revolutionary situation does not fall from the skies.  It takes form with the active participation of the revolutionary class and its party.

The French Stalinists now argue that the militia did not safeguard the German proletariat from defeat.  Only yesterday they completely denied any defeat in Germany and asserted that the policy of the German Stalinists was correct from beginning to end.  Today, they see the entire evil in the German workers’ militia (Roter Frontkampferbund) [i.e., Red Front Fighters: Communist-led militia banned by the social- democratic government after the Berlin May Day riots of 1929].  Thus, from one error they fall into a diametrically opposite one, no less monstrous. The militia, in itself, does not settle the question.  A correct policy is necessary. Meanwhile,the policy of Stalinism in Germany (“social fascism is the chief enemy”, the split in the trade unions, the flirtation with nationalism, putschism) fatally led to the isolation of the proletarian vanguard and to its shipwreck.  With an utterly worthless strategy, no militia could have saved the situation.

It is nonsense to say that, in itself, the organization of the militia leads to adventures, provokes the enemy, replaces the political struggle by physical struggle, etc.  In all these phrases, there is nothing but political cowardice.

The militia, as the strong organization of the vanguard, is in fact the surest defense against adventures, against individual terrorism, against bloody spontaneous explosions.

The militia is at the same time the only serious way of reducing to a minimum the civil war that fascism imposes upon the proletariat.  Let the workers, despite the absence of a “revolutionary situation”, occasionally correct the “papa’s son” patriots in their own way, and the recruitment of new fascist bands will become incomparably more difficult.

But here the strategists, tangled in their own reasoning, bring forward against us still more stupefying arguments. We quote textually:

“If we reply to the revolver shots of the fascists with other revolver shots,” writes l’Humanite of October 23 [1934], “we lose sight of the fact that fascism is the product of the capitalist regime and that in fighting against fascism it is the entire system which we face.”

It is difficult to accumulate in a few lines greater confusion or more errors. It is impossible to defend oneself against the fascists because they are — “a product of the capitalist regime”. That means, we have to renounce the whole struggle, for all contemporary social evils are “products of the capitalist system”.

When the fascists kill a revolutionist, or burn down the building of a proletarian newspaper, the workers are to sigh philosophically: “Alas! Murders and arson are products of the capitalist system”, and go home with easy consciences. Fatalist prostration is substituted for the militant theory of Marx, to the sole advantage of the class enemy. The ruin of the petty bourgeoisie is, of course, the product of capitalism. The growth of the fascist bands is, in turn, a product of the ruin of the petty bourgeoisie. But on the other hand, the increase in the misery and the revolt of the proletariat are also products of capitalism, and the militia, in its turn, is the product of the sharpening of the class struggle. Why, then, for the “Marxists” of l’Humanite, are the fascist bands the legitimate product of capitalism and the workers’ militia the illegitimate product of — the Trotskyists? It is impossible to make head or tail of this.

“We have to deal with the whole system,” we are told.

How? Over the heads of human beings? The fascists in the different countries began with their revolvers and ended by destroying the whole “system” of workers’ organizations. How else to check the armed offensive of the enemy if not by an armed defense in order, in our turn, to go over to the offensive.

L’Humanite now admits defense in words, but only in the form of “mass self-defense”. The militia is harmful because, you see, it divides the combat detachments from the masses. But why then are there independent armed detachments among the fascists who are not cut off from the reactionary masses but who, on the contrary, arouse the courage and embolden those masses by their well-organized attacks? Or perhaps the proletarian mass is inferior in combative quality to the declassed petty bourgeoisie?

Hopelessly tangled, l’Humanite finally begins to hesitate: it appears that mass self-defense requires the creation of special “self-defense groups”. In place of the rejected militia, special groups or detachments are proposed. It would seem at first sight that there is a difference only in the name. Certainly, the name proposed by l’Humanite means nothing. One can speak of “mass self-defense” but it is impossible to speak of “self-defense groups” since the purpose of the groups is not to defend themselves but the workers’ organizations. However, it is not, of course, a question of the name. The “self-defense groups”, according to l’Humanite , must renounce the use of arms in order not to fall into “putschism”. These sages treat the working-class like an infant who must not be allowed to hold a razor in his hands.  Razors, moreover, are the monopoly, as we know, of the Camelots du Roi [French monarchists grouped around Charles Maurras’ newspaper, Action Francaise, which was violently anti-democratic], who are a legitimate “product of capitalism” and who, with the aid of razors, have overthrown the “system” of democracy.  In any case, how are the “self-defense groups” going to defend themselves against the fascist revolvers? “Ideologically”, of course. In other words: they can hide themselves.  Not having what they require in their hands, they will have to seek “self-defense” in their feet.  And the fascists will in the meanwhile sack the workers’ organizations with impunity.  But if the proletariat suffers a terrible defeat, it will at any rate not have been guilty of “putschism”.  This fraudulent chatter, parading under the banner of “Bolshevism”, arouses only disgust and loathing.

[NOTE: “The Third Period”: According to the Stalinist schema, this was the “final period of capitalism”, the period of its immediately impending demise and replacement by soviets. The period is notable for the Communists’ ultra-left and adventurist tactics, notably the concept of social-fascism.]

During the “third period”  of happy memory — when the strategists of l’Humanite were afflicted with barricade delirium, “conquered” the streets every day and stamped as “social fascist” everyone who did not share their extravagances — we predicted: “The moment these gentlemen burn the tips of their fingers, they will become the worst opportunists.”  That prediction has now been completely confirmed.  At a time when within the Socialist Party the movement in favor of the militia is growing and strengthening, the leaders of the so-called Communist Party run for the hose to cool down the desire of the advanced workers to organize themselves in fighting columns.  Could one imagine a more demoralizing or more damning work than this?

In the ranks of the Socialist Party sometimes this objection is heard: “A militia must be formed but there is no need of shouting about it.”

One can only congratulate comrades who wish to protect the practical side of the business from inquisitive eyes and ears.  But it would be much too naive to think that a militia could be created unseen and secretly within four walls.  We need tens, and later hundreds, of thousands of fighters.  They will come only if millions of men and women workers, and behind them the peasants, understand the necessity for the militia and create around the volunteers an atmosphere of ardent sympathy and active support.  Conspiratorial care can and must envelop only the technical aspect of the matter.  The political campaign must be openly developed, in meetings, factories, in the streets and on the public squares.

The fundamental cadres of the militia must be the factory workers grouped according to their place of work, known to each other and able to protect their combat detachments against the provocations of enemy agents far more easily and more surely than the most elevated bureaucrats.  Conspirative general staffs without an open mobilization of the masses will at the moment of danger remain impotently suspended in midair.  Every working-class organization has to plunge into the job.  In this question, there can be no line of demarcation between the working-class parties and the trade unions.  Hand in hand, they must mobilize the masses.  The success of the workers’ militia will then be fully assured.

“But where are the workers going to get arms” object the sober “realists” — that is to say, frightened philistines — “the enemy has rifles, cannon, tanks, gas, and airplanes. The workers have a few hundred revolvers and pocket knives.”

In this objection, everything is piled up to frighten the workers.  On the one hand, our sages identify the arms of the fascists with the armament of the state.  On the other hand, they turn towards the state and demand that it disarm the fascists. Remarkable logic!  In fact, their position is false in both cases.  In France, the fascists are still far from controlling the state.  On February 6, they entered in armed conflict with the state police.  That is why it is false to speak of cannon and tanks when it is a matter of the immediate armed struggle against the fascists. The fascists, of course, are richer than we.  It is easier for them to buy arms.  But the workers are more numerous, more determined, more devoted, when they are conscious of a firm revolutionary leadership.

In addition to other sources, the workers can arm themselves at the expense of the fascists by systematically disarming them.

This is now one of the most serious forms of the struggle against fascism.  When workers’ arsenals will begin to stock up at the expense of the fascist arms depots, the banks and trusts will be more prudent in financing the armament of their murderous guards.  It would even be possible in this case — but in this case only — that the alarmed authorities would really begin to prevent the arming of the fascists in order not to provide an additional sources of arms for the workers.  We have known for a long time that only a revolutionary tactic engenders, as a by-product, “reforms” or concessions from the government.

But how to disarm the fascists?  Naturally, it is impossible to do so with newspaper articles alone.  Fighting squads must be created.  An intelligence service must be established.  Thousands of informers and friendly helpers will volunteer from all sides when they realize that the business has been seriously undertaken by us.  It requires a will to proletarian action.

But the arms of the fascists are, of course, not the only source.  In France, there are more than one million organized workers.  Generally speaking, this number is small.  But it is entirely sufficient to make a beginning in the organization of a workers’ militia.  If the parties and unions armed only a tenth of their members, that would already be a force of 100,000 men.  There is no doubt whatever that the number of volunteers who would come forward on the morrow of a “united front” appeal for a workers’ militia would far exceed that number.  The contributions of the parties and unions, collections and voluntary subscriptions, would within a month or two make it possible to assure the arming of 100,000 to 200,000 working-class fighters.  The fascist rabble would immediately sink its tail between its legs.  The whole perspective of development would become incomparably more favorable.

To invoke the absence of arms or other objective reasons to explain why no attempt has been made up to now to create a militia, is to fool oneself and others. The principle obstacle — one can say the only obstacle — has its roots in the conservative and passive character of the leaders of the workers’ organizations.  The skeptics who are the leaders do not believe in the strength of the proletariat.  They put their hope in all sorts of miracles from above instead of giving a revolutionary outlet to the energies pulsing below.  The socialist workers must compel their leaders to pass over immediately to the creation of the workers’ militia or else give way to younger, fresher forces.

A strike is inconceivable without propaganda and without agitation.  It is also inconceivable without pickets who, when they can, use persuasion, but when obliged, use force.  The strike is the most elementary form of the class struggle which always combines, in varying proportions, “ideological” methods with physical methods.  The struggle against fascism is basically a political struggle which needs a militia just as the strike needs pickets.  Basically, the picket is the embryo of the workers’ militia.  He who thinks of renouncing “physical” struggle must renounce all struggle, for the spirit does not live without flesh.

Following the splendid phrase of the great military theoretician Clausewitz, war is the continuation of politics by other means.  This definition also fully applies to civil war.  It is impermissable to oppose one to the other since it is impossible to check at will the political struggle when it transforms itself, by force of inner necessity, into a political struggle.

The duty of a revolutionary party is to foresee in time the inescapability of the transformation of politics into open armed conflict, and with all its forces to prepare for that moment just as the ruling classes are preparing.

The militia detachments for defense against fascism are the first step on the road to the arming of the proletariat, not the last. Our slogan is:

“Arm the proletariat and the revolutionary peasants!”

The workers’ militia must, in the final analysis, embrace all the toilers.  To fulfill this program completely would be possible only in a workers’ state into whose hands would pass all the means of production and, consequently, also all the means of destruction — i.e., all the arms and the factories which produce them.

However, it is impossible to arrive at a workers’ state with empty hands.  Only political invalids like Renaudel can speak of a peaceful, constitutional road to socialism. The constitutional road is cut by trenches held by the fascist bands. There are not a few trenches before us.  The bourgeoisie will not hesitate to resort to a dozen coups d’etat aided by the police and the army, to prevent proletariat from coming to power.

[NOTE: Pierre Renaudel (1871-1935): Prior to WWI, socialist leader Jean Jaures’ righthand man and editor of l’Humanite. During the war, a right-wing social patriot. In the 1930s, he and Marcel Deat led revisionist “neo-socialist” tendency. Voted down at the July 1933 convention, this tendency split from the Socialist Party. After the fascist riots of February 6, 1934, most of the “neos” joined the Radical Party, the main party of French capitalism.]

A workers’ socialist state can be created only by a victorious revolution.

Every revolution is prepared by the march of economic and political development, but it is always decided by open armed conflicts between hostile classes.  A revolutionary victory can become possible only as a result of long political agitation, a lengthy period of education and organization of the masses.

But the armed conflict itself must likewise be prepared long in advance.

The advanced workers must know that they will have to fight and win a struggle to the death. They must reach out for arms, as a guarantee of their emancipation.

[Source: https://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/works/1944/1944-fas.htm#p1   Corrected and emphasis added in bold type by IWPCHI]

 

100th Anniversary of the Russian Revolution: February 1917 – The Collapse of Czarism

We had originally intended to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Great October Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 by publishing articles month-by-month describing that month’s events as captured by one of the great Bolshevik leaders of 1917 Leon Trotsky in his incomparable “History of the Russian Revolution”.  For a number of reasons both technical and personal we have been unable to do this; however we hope to catch up with events in the next few days so we can get back on track with this series.

This installment goes back to February of 1917 and shows that the support for the Tsarist regime had completely collapsed long before Lenin, Trotsky and the other leading exiles had even returned to Russia.  The army, demoralized by the complete inability of the regime to supply it with even the most basic necessities at the front, had largely ceased to obey the orders of the generals.  The urban intelligentsia too sought nothing less than a constitutional monarchy with some kind of parliamentary system.  The working class and peasantry, bled white by the war, had become completely insurrectionary.  There was not a square foot of soil of Russia on which the Tsar and his regime could find firm footing or a place of safe refuge, as we shall see.

Contrary to the lying propaganda which we have always been subjected to by the anti-communist US Govt and its hireling historians, the Russian Revolution was not some kind of secret coup plot hatched by the Bolsheviks under Lenin’s tutelage.  The Russian Revolution occurred because it was simply no longer possible for the people of Russia to go on living in the old ways under the old regime for one day longer.  No small workers party – as the Bolshevik Party was in February 1917 – can magically stage a successful overthrow of any government without the support of at least a large section of the working class and the military – and in the case of Russia, the peasantry as well.  It was precisely the fact that the Bolsheviks alone among all the many contending political parties in Russia possessed the well-thought out revolutionary Marxist programme for the overthrow of Tsarism and the establishment of an egalitarian socialist workers republic that was necessary to obtain the support of the long-suffering Russian workers, soldiers and peasants.   Without a revolutionary Leninist vanguard party possessed of a truly revolutionary Marxist/Leninist programme it would have been impossible for the Bolshevik Revolution to occur; and it is as true today as it was in 1917 that until the workers of the United States organize themselves into a revolutionary socialist Leninist/Trotskyist vanguard party and successfully overthrows the rule of the US capitalist class – the most bloodthirsty regime on the planet today – we will remain trapped in the human slaughterhouse of imperialist capitalism until the next World War brings the entire human race to the brink of destruction.  The creation of a revolutionary socialist vanguard party of the working class right here in the USA is the most important task of our lifetimes.

This chapter of Trotsky’s “History of the Russian Revolution” describes how power was steadily stripped out of the hands of the Tsar and his ruling clique in February-March of 1917 by the insurgent workers, soldiers and peasants of Russia, with the Bolshevik Party playing just a small but very important and influential role among only a thin layer of the most politically advanced workers and soldiers.  The entire book can be read online at https://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1930/hrr/index.htm  Our text is taken from this online version.  Enjoy!

— IWPCHI

***********************************

Chapter 6
The Death Agony
of the Monarchy

 

The dynasty fell by shaking, like rotten fruit, before the revolution even had time to approach its first problems. Our portrayal of the old ruling class would remain incomplete if we did not try to show how the monarchy met the hour of its fall.

The czar was at headquarters at Moghilev, having gone there not because he was needed, but in flight from the Petrograd disorders. The court chronicler, General Dubensky, with the czar at headquarters, noted in his diary: “A quiet life begins here. Everything will remain as before. Nothing will come of his (the czar’s) presence. Only accidental external causes will change anything …” On February 24, the czarina wrote Nicholas at headquarters, in English as always: “I hope that Duma man Kedrinsky (she means Kerensky) will be hung for his horrible speeches-it is necessary (war-time law) and it will be an example. All are thirsting and beseeching that you show your firmness.” On February 25, a telegram came from the Minister of War that strikes were occurring in the capital, disorders beginning among the workers, but measures had been taken and there was nothing serious. In a word: “It isn’t the first time, and won’t be the last!”

The czarina, who had always taught the czar not to yield, here too tried to remain firm. On the 26th, with an obvious desire to hold up the shaky courage of Nicholas, she telegraphs him: “It is calm in the city.” But in her evening telegram she has to confess: “Things are not going at all well in the city.” In a letter she says: “You must say to the workers that they must not declare strikes, if they do, they will be sent to the front as a punishment. There is no need at all of shooting. Only order is needed, and not to let them cross the bridges.” Yes, only a little thing is needed, only order! But the chief thing is not to admit the workers into the city-let them choke in the raging impotence of their suburbs.

On the morning of the 27th, General Ivanov moves from the front with the Battalion of St. George, entrusted with dictatorial powers – which he is to make public, however, only upon occupying Tsarskoe Selo. “It would be hard to imagine a more unsuitable person.” General Denikin will recall later, himself having taken a turn at military dictatorship, “a flabby old man, meagrely grasping the political situation, possessing neither strength, nor energy, nor will, nor austerity.” The choice fell upon Ivanov through memories of the first revolution. Eleven years before that he had subdued Kronstadt. But those years had left their traces; the subduers had grown flabby, the subdued, strong. The northern and western fronts were ordered to get ready troops for the march on Petrograd; evidently everybody thought there was plenty of time ahead. Ivanov himself assumed that the affair would be ended soon and successfully; he even remembered to send out an adjutant to buy provisions in Moghilev for his friends in Petrograd.

On the morning of February 27, Rodzianko sent the czar a new telegram, which ended with the words: “The last hour has come when the fate of the fatherland and the dynasty is being decided.” The czar said to his Minister of the Court, Frederiks: “Again that fat-bellied Rodzianko has written me a lot of nonsense, which I won’t even bother to answer.” But no. It was not nonsense. He will have to answer.

About noon of the 27th, headquarters received a report from Khabalov of the mutiny of the Pavlovsky, Volynsky, Litovsky and Preobrazhensky regiments, and the necessity of sending reliable troops from the front. An hour later from the War Ministry came a most reassuring telegram: “The disorders which began this morning in certain military units are being firmly and energetically put down by companies and battalions loyal to their duty … I am firmly convinced of an early restoration of tranquility.” However, a little after seven in the evening, the same minister, Belyaev, is reporting that “We are not succeeding in putting down the military rebellion with the few detachments that remain loyal to their duty,” and requesting a speedy dispatch of really reliable troops-and that too in sufficient numbers “for simultaneous activity in different parts of the city.”

The Council of Ministers deemed this a suitable day to remove from their midst the presumed cause of all misfortunes – the half-crazy Minister of the Interior Protopopov. At the same time General Khabalov issued an edict – prepared in secrecy from the government – declaring Petrograd, on His Majesty’s orders, under martial law. So here too was an attempt to mix hot with cold – hardly intentional, however, and anyway of no use. They did not even succeed in pasting up the declaration of martial law through the city: the burgomaster, Balka, could find neither paste nor brushes. Nothing would stick together for those functionaries any longer; they already belonged to the kingdom of shades.

The principal shade of the last czarist ministry was the seventy-year old Prince Golytsin, who had formerly conducted some sort of eleemosynary institutions of the czarina, and had been advanced by her to the post of head of the government in a period of war and revolution. When friends asked this “good-natured Russian squire, this old weakling” – as the liberal Baron Nolde described him – why he accepted such a troublesome position, Golytsin answered: “So as to have one more pleasant recollection.” This aim, at any rate, he did not achieve. How the last czarist government felt in those hours is attested by Rodzianko in the following tale: With the first news of the movement of a crowd toward the Mariinsky Palace, where the Ministry was in session, all the lights in the building were immediately put out. (The government wanted only one thing – that the revolution should not notice it.) The rumour, however, proved false; the attack did not take place; and when the lights were turned on, one of the members of the czarist government was found “to his own surprise” under the table. What kind of recollections he was accumulating there has not been established.

But Rodzianko’s own feelings apparently were not at their highest point. After a long but vain hunt for the government by telephone, the President of the Duma tries again to ring up Prince Golytsin. The latter answers him: “I beg you not to come to me with anything further, I have resigned.” Hearing this news, Rodzianko, according to his loyal secretary, sank heavily in an armchair and covered his face with both hands.

My “God, how horrible! … Without a government … Anarchy … Blood …” and softly wept. At the expiring of the senile ghost of the czarist power Rodzianko felt unhappy, desolate, orphaned. How far he was at that moment from the thought that tomorrow he would have to “ head” a revolution!

The telephone answer of Golytsin is explained by the fact that on the evening of the 27th the Council of Ministers had definitely acknowledged itself incapable of handling the situation, and proposed to the czar to place at the head of the government a man enjoying general confidence. The czar answered Golytsin: “In regard to changes in the personal staff in the present circumstances, I consider that inadmissible. Nicholas.” Just what circumstances was he waiting for? At the same time the czar demanded that they adopt “the most decisive measures” for putting down the rebellion. That was easier said than done.

On the next day, the 28th, even the untamable czarina at last loses heart. “Concessions are necessary,” she telegraphs Nicholas. “The strikes continue; many troops have gone over to the side of the revolution. Alex.”

It required an insurrection of the whole guard, the entire garrison, to compel this Hessian zealot of autocracy to agree that “concessions are necessary.” Now the czar also begins to suspect that the “fat-bellied Rodzianko” had not telegraphed nonsense. Nicholas decides to join his family. It is possible that he is a little gently pushed from behind by the generals of the staff, too, who are not feeling quite comfortable.

The czar’s train travelled at first without mishap. Local chiefs and governors came out as usual to meet him. Far from the revolutionary whirlpool, in his accustomed royal car, surrounded by the usual suite, the czar apparently again lost a sense of the close coming crisis. At three o’clock on the 28th, when the events had already settled his fate, he sent a telegram to the czarina from Vyazma: “Wonderful weather. Hope you are well and calm. Many troops sent from the front. With tender love. Niki.” Instead of the concessions, upon which even the czarina is insisting, the tenderly loving czar is sending troops from the front. But in spite of that “wonderful weather,” in just a few hours the czar will stand face to face with the revolutionary storm. His train went as far as the Visher station. The railroad workers would not let it go farther: “The bridge is damaged.” Most likely this pretext was invented by the courtiers themselves in order to soften the situation. Nicholas tried to make his way, or they tried to get him through, by way of Bologoe on the Nikolaevsk railroad; but here, too, the workers would not let the train pass. This was far more palpable than all the Petrograd telegrams. The Czar had broken away from headquarters, and could not make his way to the capital. With its simple railroad “pawns” the revolution had cried “check” to the king!

The court historian Dubensky, who accompanied the Czar in his train, writes in his diary: “ Everybody realises that this midnight turn at Visher is a historical night … To me it is perfectly clear that the question of a constitution is settled; it will surely be introduced … Everybody is saying that it is only necessary to strike a bargain with them, with the members of the Provisional Government.” Facing a lowered semaphore, behind which mortal danger is thickening, Count Frederiks, Prince Dolgoruky, Count Leuchtenberg, all of them, all those high lords, are now for a constitution. They no longer think of struggling. It is only necessary to strike a bargain, that is, try to fool them again as in 1905.

While the train was wandering and finding no road, the Czarina was sending the Czar telegram after telegram, appealing to him to return as soon as possible. But her telegrams came back to her from the office with the inscription in blue pencil: “Whereabouts of the addressee unknown.” The telegraph clerks were unable to locate the Russian czar.

The regiments marched with music and banners to the Tauride Palace. A company of the Guards marched under the command of Cyril Vladimirovich, who had quite suddenly, according to Countess Kleinmichel, developed a revolutionary streak. The sentries disappeared. The intimates were abandoning the palace. “Everybody was saving himself who could,” relates Vyrubova. Bands of revolutionary soldiers wandered about the palace and with eager curiosity looked over everything. Before they had decided up above what should be done, the lower ranks were converting the palace of the Czar into a museum.

The Czar – his location unknown – turns back to Pskov, to the headquarters of the northern front, commanded by the old General Ruszky. In the czar’s suite one suggestion follows another. The Czar procrastinates. He is still reckoning in days and weeks, while the revolution is keeping its count in minutes.

The poet Blok characterised the Czar during the last months of the monarchy as follows: “Stubborn, but without will; nervous, but insensitive to everything; distrustful of people, taut and cautious in speech, he was no longer master of himself. He had ceased to understand the situation, and did not take one clearly conscious step, but gave himself over completely into the hands of those whom he himself had placed in power.” And how much these traits of tautness and lack of will, cautiousness and distrust, were to increase during the last days of February and first days of March!

Nicholas finally decided to send – and nevertheless evidently did not send – a telegram to the hated Rodzianko stating that for the salvation of the fatherland he appointed him to form a new ministry, reserving, however, the ministries of foreign affairs, war and marine for himself. The Czar still hoped to bargain with “them”: the “many troops,” after all, were on their way to Petrograd.

General Ivanov actually arrived without hindrance at Tsarskoe Selo: evidently the railroad workers did not care to come in conflict with the Battalion of St. George. The general confessed later that he had three or four times found it necessary on the march to use fatherly influence with the lower ranks, who were impudent to him: he made them get down on their knees. Immediately upon the arrival of the “dictator” in Tsarskoe Selo, the local authorities informed him that an encounter between the Battalion of St. George and the troops would mean danger to the czar’s family. They were simply afraid for themselves, and advised the dictator to go back without detraining.

General Ivanov telegraphed to the other “dictator,” Khabalov, in Petrograd ten questions, to which he received succinct answers: We will quote them in full, for they deserve it:

Ivanov’s questions: Khabalov’s replies:
1. How many troops are in order and how many are misbehaving? 1. I have at my disposal in the Admiralty building four companies of the Guard, five squadrons of cavalry and Cossacks, and two batteries the rest of the troops have gone over to the revolutionists, or by agreement with them are remaining neutral. Soldiers are wandering through the towns singly or in bands disarming officers.
2. Which railroad stations are guarded? 2. All the stations are in the hands of the revolutionists and strictly guarded by them.
3. In what parts of the city is order preserved? 3. The whole city is in the hands of the revolutionists. The telephone is not working, there is no communication between different parts of the city.
4. What authorities are governing the different parts of the city? 4. I cannot answer this question.
5. Are all the ministries functioning properly? 5. The ministers have been arrested by the revolutionists.
6. What police forces are at your disposal at the present moment? 6. None whatever .
7. What technical and supply institutions of the War Department are now in your control? 7. I have none.
8. What quantity of provisions at is at your disposal? 8. There are no provisions my disposal. In the city on February 5 there were 5,600,000 pounds of flour in store.
9. Have many weapons, artillery and military stores fallen into the hands of the mutineers? 9. All the artillery establishments are in the hands of the revolutionists.
10. What military forces and the staffs are in your control? 10. The chief of the Staff of District is in my personal control. With the other district administrations I have no connections.

Having received this unequivocal illumination as to the situation, General Ivanov “agreed” to turn back his echelon without detraining to the station “Dno.” [1] “Thus,” concludes one of the chief personages of the staff, General Lukomsky, “nothing came of the expedition of General Ivanov with dictatorial powers but a public disgrace.”

That disgrace, incidentally, was a very quiet one, sinking unnoticed in the billowing events. The dictator, we may suppose, delivered the provisions to his friends in Petrograd, and had a long chat with the Czarina. She referred to her self-sacrificing work in the hospitals, and complained of the ingratitude of the army and the people.

During this time news was arriving at Pskov by way of Moghilev, blacker and blacker. His Majesty’s own bodyguard, in which every soldier was known by name and coddled by the royal family, turned up at the State Duma asking permission to arrest those officers who had refused to take part in the insurrection. Vice-Admiral Kurovsky reported that he found it impossible to take any measures to put down the insurrection at Kronstadt, since he could not vouch for the loyalty of a single detachment. Admiral Nepenin telegraphed that the Baltic Fleet had recognised the Provisional Committee of the State Duma. The Moscow commander-in-chief, Mrozovsky, telegraphed: “A majority of the troops have gone over with artillery to the revolutionists. The whole town is therefore in their hands. The burgomaster and his aide have left the city hall.” Have left means that they fled.

All this was communicated to the Czar on the evening of March 1. Deep into the night they coaxed and argued about a responsible ministry. Finally, at two o’clock in the morning the Czar gave his consent, and those around him drew a sigh of relief. Since they took it for granted that this would settle the problem of the revolution, an order was issued at the same time that the troops which had been sent to Petrograd to put down the insurrection should return to the front. Ruszky hurried at dawn to convey the good news to Rodzianko. But the czar’s clock was way behind. Rodzianko in the Tauride Palace, already buried under a pile of democrats, socialists, soldiers, workers’ deputies, replied to Ruszky: “Your proposal is not enough; it is now a question of the dynasty itself. . . . Everywhere the troops are taking the side of the Duma, and the people are demanding an abdication in favour of the Heir with Mikhail Alexandrovich as regent.” Of course. the troops never thought of demanding either the Heir or Mikhail Alexandrovich. Rodzianko merely attributed to the troops and the people that slogan upon which the Duma was still hoping to stop the revolution. But in either case the Czar’s concession had come too late: “The anarchy has reached such proportions that I (Rodzianko) was this night compelled to appoint a Provisional Government. Unfortunately, the edict has come too late …” These majestic words bear witness that the President of the Duma had succeeded in drying the tears shed over Golytsin. The czar read the conversation between Rodzianko and Ruszky, and hesitated, read it over again, and decided to wait. But now the military chiefs had begun to sound the alarm: the matter concerned them too a little!

General Alexeiev carried out during the hours of that night a sort of plebiscite among the commanders-in-chief at the fronts. It is a good thing present-day revolutions are accomplished with the help of the telegraph, so that the very first impulses and reactions of those in power are preserved to history on the tape. The conversations of the czarist field-marshals on the night of March 1-2 are an incomparable human document. Should the czar abdicate or not? The commander-in-chief of the western front, General Evert, consented to give his opinion only after Generals Ruszky and Brussilov had expressed themselves. The commander-in-chief of the Roumanian front, General Sakharov, demanded that before he express himself the conclusions of all the other commanders-in-chief should be communicated to him. After long delays this valiant chieftain announced that his warm love for the monarch would not permit his soul to reconcile itself with an acceptance of the “base suggestion”; nevertheless, “with sobs” he advised the Czar to abdicate in order to avoid “still viler pretensions.” Adjutant-General Evert quite reasonably explained the necessity for capitulation: “I am taking all measures to prevent information as to the present situation in the capital from penetrating the army, in order to protect it against indubitable disturbances. No means exist for putting down the revolution in the capitals.” Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolajevich on the Caucasian front beseeched the Czar on bended knee to adopt the “supermeasure” and renounce the throne. A similar prayer came from Generals Alexeiev and Brussilov and Admiral Nepenin. Ruszky spoke orally to the same effect. The generals respectfully presented seven revolver barrels to the temple of the adored monarch. Fearing to let slip the moment for reconciliation with the new power, and no less fearing their own troops, these military chieftains, accustomed as they were to surrendering positions, gave the czar and the High Commander-in-Chief a quite unanimous counsel: retire without fighting. This was no longer distant Petrograd against which, as it seemed, one might send troops; this was the front from which the troops had to be borrowed.

Having listened to this suggestively circumstanced report, the Czar decided to abdicate the throne which he no longer possessed. A telegram to Rodzianko suitable to the occasion was drawn up: “There is no sacrifice that I would not make in the name of the real welfare and salvation of my native mother Russia. Thus I am ready to abdicate the throne in favor of my son, and in order that he may remain with me until he is of age, under the regency of my brother, Mikhail Alexandrovich. Nicholas.” This telegram too, however, was not dispatched, for news came from the capital of the departure for Pskov of the deputies Guchkov and Shulgin. This offered a new pretext to postpone the decision. The Czar ordered the telegram returned to him. He obviously dreaded to sell too cheap, and still hoped for comforting news – or more accurately, hoped for a miracle. Nicholas received the two deputies at twelve o’clock midnight March 2-8. The miracle did not come, and it was impossible to evade longer. The czar unexpectedly announced that he could not part with his son – what vague hopes were then wandering in his head? – and signed an abdication in favor of his brother. At the same time edicts to the Senate were signed, naming Prince Lvov President of the Council of Ministers, and Nikolai Nikolaievich Supreme Commander-in-Chief. The family suspicions of the czarina seemed to have been justified: the hated “Nikolasha” came back to power along with the conspirators. Guchkov apparently seriously believed that the revolution would accept the Most August War Chief. The latter also accepted his appointment in good faith. He even tried for a few days to give some kind of orders and make appeals for the fulfillment of patriotic duty. However the revolution painlessly removed him.

In order to preserve the appearance of a free act, the abdication was dated three o’clock in the afternoon, on the pretense that the original decision of the Czar to abdicate had taken place at that hour. But as a matter of fact that afternoon’s “decision,” which gave the sceptre to his son and not to his brother, had been taken back in anticipation of a more favorable turn of the wheel. Of that, however, nobody spoke out loud. The Czar made a last effort to save his face before the hated deputies, who upon their part permitted this falsification of a historic act – this deceiving of the people. The monarchy retired from the scene preserving its usual style; and its successors also remained true to themselves. They probably even regarded their connivance as the magnanimity of a conqueror to the conquered.

Departing a little from the phlegmatic style of his diary, Nicholas writes on March 2: “This morning Ruszky came and read me a long conversation over the wire with Rodzianko. According to his words the situation in Petrograd is such that a ministry of the members of the State Duma will be powerless to do anything, for it is being opposed by the social-democratic party in the person of a workers’ committee. My abdication is necessary. Ruszky transmitted this conversation to Alexeiev at headquarters and to all the commanders-in-chief. Answers arrived at 12.30. To save Russia and keep the army at the front, I decided upon this step. I agreed, and they sent from headquarters the text of an abdication. In the evening came Guchkov and Shulgin from Petrograd, with whom I talked it over and gave them the document amended and signed. At 1 o’clock in the morning I left Pskov with heavy feelings; around me treason, cowardice, deceit.”

The bitterness of Nicholas was, we must confess, not without foundation. It was only as short a time ago as February 28, that General Alexeiev had telegraphed to all the commanders-in-chief at the front: “ Upon us all lies a sacred duty before the sovereign and the fatherland to preserve loyalty to oath and duty in the troops of the active army.” Two days later Alexeiev appealed to these same commanders-in-chief to violate their “loyalty to oath and duty.” In all the commanding staff there was not found one man to take action in behalf of his Czar. They all hastened to transfer to the ship of the revolution, firmly expecting to find comfortable cabins there. Generals and admirals one and all removed the czarist braid and put on the red ribbon. There was news subsequently of one single righteous soul, some commander of a corps, who died of heart failure taking the new oath. But it is not established that his heart failed through injured monarchist feelings, and not through other causes. The civil officials naturally were not obliged to show more courage than the military – each one was saving himself as he could.

But the clock of the monarchy decidedly did not coincide with the revolutionary clocks. At dawn of March 8, Ruszky was again summoned to the direct wire from the capital: Rodzianko and Prince Lvov were demanding that he hold up the czar’s abdication, which had again proved too late. The installation of Alexei – said the new authorities evasively – might perhaps be accepted – by whom? – but the installation of Mikhail was absolutely unacceptable. Ruszky with some venom expressed his regret that the deputies of the Duma who had arrived the night before had not been sufficiently informed as to the aims and purposes of their journey. But here too the deputies had their justification. “Unexpectedly to us all there broke out such a soldiers’ rebellion as I never saw the like of,” explained the Lord Chamberlain to Ruszky, as though he had done nothing all his life but watch soldiers’ rebellions. “To proclaim Mikhail emperor would pour oil on the fire and there would begin a ruthless extermination of everything that can be exterminated.” How it whirls and shakes and bends and contorts them all!

The generals silently swallowed this new “vile pretension” of the revolution. Alexeiev alone slightly relieved his spirit in a telegraphic bulletin to the commanders-in-chief: “The left parties and the workers’ deputies are exercising a powerful pressure upon the President of the Duma, and there is no frankness or sincerity in the communications of Rodzianko.” The only thing lacking to the generals in those hours was sincerity.

But at this point the Czar again changed his mind. Arriving in Moghilev from Pskov, he handed to his former chief-of-staff, Alexeiev, for transmission to Petrograd, a sheet of paper with his consent to the handing over of the sceptre to his son. Evidently he found this combination in the long run more promising. Alexeiev, according to Denikin’s story, went away with the telegram and … did not send it. He thought that those two manifestos which had already been published to the army and the country were enough. The discord arose from the fact that not only the Czar and his counsellors, but also the Duma liberals, were thinking more slowly than the revolution.

Before his final departure from Moghilev on March 8, the Czar, already under formal arrest, wrote an appeal to the troops ending with these words: “Whoever thinks now of peace, whoever desires it, that man is a traitor to the fatherland, its betrayer.” This was in the nature of a prompted attempt to snatch out of the hands of liberalism the accusation of Germanophilism. The attempt had no result: they did not even dare publish the appeal.

Thus ended a reign which had been a continuous chain of ill luck, failure, misfortune, and evil-doing, from the Khodynka catastrophe during the coronation, through the shooting of strikers and revolting peasants, the Russo-Japanese war, the frightful putting-down of the revolution of 1905, the innumerable executions, punitive expeditions and national pogroms and ending with the insane and contemptible participation of Russia in the insane and contemptible world war.

Upon arriving at Tsarskoe Selo, where he and his family were confined in the palace, the czar, according to Vyrubova, softly said: “There is no justice among men.” But those very words irrefutably testify that historic justice, though it comes late, does exist.


The similarity of the Romanov couple to the French royal pair of the epoch of the Great Revolution is very obvious. It has already been remarked in literature, but only in passing and without drawing inferences. Nevertheless it is not at all accidental, as appears at the first glance, but offers valuable material for an inference.

Although separated from each other by five quarter centuries, the Czar and the King were at certain moments like two actors playing the same rôle. A passive, patient, but vindictive treachery was the distinctive trait of both – with this difference, that in Louis it was disguised with a dubious kindliness, in Nicholas with affability. They both make the impression of people who are overburdened by their job, but at the same time unwilling to give up even a part of those rights of which they are unable to make any use. The diaries of both, similar in style or lack of style, reveal the same depressing spiritual emptiness.

The Austrian woman and the Hessian German form also a striking symmetry. Both Queens stand above their Kings, not only in physical but also in moral growth. Marie Antoinette was less pious than Alexandra Feodorovna, and unlike the latter was passionately fond of pleasures. But both alike scorned the people, could not endure the thought of concessions, alike mistrusted the courage of their husbands, looking down upon them – Antoinette with a shade of contempt, Alexandra with pity.

When the authors of memoirs, approaching the Petersburg court of their day, assure us that Nicholas II, had he been a private individual, would have left a good memory behind him, they merely reproduce the long-ago stereotyped remarks about Louis XVI, not enriching in the least our knowledge either of history or of human nature.

We have already seen how Prince Lvov became indignant when, at the height of the tragic events of the first revolution, instead of a depressed Czar, he found before him a “jolly, sprightly little man in a raspberry-coloured shirt.” Without knowing it, the prince merely repeated the comment of Gouvernor Morris writing in Washington in 1790 about Louis: “What will you have from a creature who, situated as he is, eats and drinks and sleeps well, and laughs and is as merry a grig as lives?”

When Alexandra Feodorovna, three months before the fall of the monarchy, prophesies: “All is coming out for the best, the dreams of our Friend mean so much!” she merely repeats Marie Antoinette, who one month before the overthrow of the royal power wrote: “ I feel a liveliness of spirit, and something tells me that we shall soon be happy and safe.” They both see rainbow dreams as they drown.

Certain elements of similarity of course are accidental, and have the interest only of historic anecdotes. Infinitely more important are those traits of character which have been grafted, or more directly imposed, on a person by the mighty force of conditions, and which throw a sharp light on the interrelation of personality and the objective factors of history.

“He did not know how to wish: that was his chief trait of character,” says a reactionary French historian of Louis. Those words might have been written of Nicholas: neither of them knew how to wish, but both knew how to not wish. But what really could be “wished” by the last representatives of a hopelessly lost historic cause? “Usually he listened, smiled, and rarely decided upon anything. His first word was usually No.” Of whom is that written? Again of Capet. But if this is so, the manners of Nicholas were an absolute plagiarism. They both go toward the abyss “with the crown pushed down over their eyes.” But would it after all be easier to go to an abyss, which you cannot escape anyway, with your eyes open? What difference would it have made, as a matter of fact, if they had pushed the crown way back on their heads?

Some professional psychologist ought to draw up an anthology of the parallel expressions of Nicholas and Louis, Alexandra and Antoinette, and their courtiers. There would be no lack of material, and the result would be a highly instructive historic testimony in favor of the materialist psychology. Similar (of course, far from identical) irritations in similar conditions call out similar reflexes; the more powerful the irritation, the sooner it overcomes personal peculiarities. To a tickle, people react differently, but to a red-hot iron, alike. As a steam-hammer converts a sphere and a cube alike into sheet metal, so under the blow of too great and inexorable events resistances are smashed and the boundaries of “individuality” lost.

Louis and Nicholas were the last-born of a dynasty that had lived tumultuously. The well-known equability of them both, their tranquillity and “gaiety ” in difficult moments, were the well-bred expression of a meagreness of inner powers, a weakness of the nervous discharge, poverty of spiritual resources. Moral castrates, they were absolutely deprived of imagination and creative force. They had just enough brains to feel their own triviality, and they cherished an envious hostility toward everything gifted and significant. It fell to them both to rule a country in conditions of deep inner crisis and popular revolutionary awakening. Both of them fought off the intrusion of new ideas, and the tide of hostile forces. Indecisiveness, hypocrisy, and lying were in both cases the expression, not so much of personal weakness, as of the complete impossibility of holding fast to their hereditary positions.

And how was it with their wives? Alexandra, even more than Antoinette, was lifted to the very heights of the dreams of a princess, especially such a rural one as this Hessian, by her marriage with the unlimited despot of a powerful country. Both of them were filled to the brim with the consciousness of their high mission: Antoinette more frivolously, Alexandra in a spirit of Protestant bigotry translated into the Slavonic language of the Russian Church. An unlucky reign and a growing discontent of the people ruthlessly destroyed the fantastic world which these two enterprising but nevertheless chicken-like heads had built for themselves. Hence the growing bitterness, the gnawing hostility to an alien people that would not bow before them; the hatred toward ministers who wanted to give even a little consideration to that hostile world, to the country; hence their alienation even from their own court, and their continued irritation against a husband who had not fulfilled the expectations aroused by him as a bridegroom.

Historians and biographers of the psychological tendency not infrequently seek and find something purely personal and accidental where great historical forces are refracted through a personality. This is the same fault of vision as that of the courtiers who considered the last Russian Czar born “unlucky.” He himself believed that he was born under an unlucky star. In reality his ill-luck flowed from the contradictions between those old aims which he inherited from his ancestors and the new historic conditions in which he was placed. When the ancients said that Jupiter first makes mad those who whom he wishes to destroy, they summed up in superstitious form a profound historic observation. In the saying of Goethe about reason becoming nonsense – “Vernunft wird Unsinn” – this same thought is expressed about the impersonal Jupiter of the historical dialectic, which withdraws “reason” from historic institutions that have outlived themselves and condemns their defenders to failure. The scripts for the rôles of Romanov and Capet were prescribed by the general development of the historic drama; only the nuances of interpretation fell to the lot of the actors. The ill-luck of Nicholas, as of Louis, had its roots not in his personal horoscope, but in the historical horoscope of the bureaucratic-caste monarchy. They were both, chiefly and above all, the last-born offspring of absolutism. Their moral insignificance, deriving from their dynastic epigonism, gave the latter an especially malignant character.

You might object: if Alexander III had drunk less he might have lived a good deal longer, the revolution would have run into a very different make of czar, and no parallel with Louis XVI would have been possible. Such an objection, however, does not refute in the least what has been said above. We do not at all pretend to deny the significance of the personal in the mechanics of the historic process, nor the significance in the personal of the accidental. We only demand that a historic personality, with all its peculiarities, should not be taken as a bare list of psychological traits, but as a living reality grown out of definite social conditions and reacting upon them. As a rose does not lose its fragrance because the natural scientist points out upon what ingredients of soil and atmosphere it is nourished, so an exposure of the social roots of a personality does not remove from it either its aroma or its foul smell.

The consideration advanced above about a possible long life of Alexander III is capable of illuming this very problem from another side. Let us assume that this Alexander III had not become mixed up in 1904 in a war with Japan. This would have delayed the first revolution. For how long? It is possible that the “revolution of 1905” – that is, the first test of strength the first breach in the system of absolutism – would have been a mere introduction to the second, republican, and the third, proletarian revolution. Upon this question more or less interesting guesses are possible, but it is indubitable in any case that the revolution did not result from the character of Nicholas II, and that Alexander III would not have solved its problem. It is enough to remember that nowhere and never was the transition from the feudal to the bourgeois régime made without violent disturbances. We saw this only yesterday in China; today we observe it again in India. The most we can say is that this or that policy of the monarchy, this or that personality of the monarch, might have hastened or postponed the revolution and placed a certain imprint on its external course.

With what angry and impotent stubbornness charisma tried to defend itself in those last months, weeks and days, when its game was hopelessly lost! If Nicholas himself lacked the will the lack was made up by the Czarina. Rasputin was an instrument of the action of a clique which rabidly fought for self-preservation. Even on this narrow scale the personality of the Czar merges in a group which represents the coagulum of the past and its last convulsion. The “policy” of the upper circles a Tsarskoe Selo, face to face with the revolution, were but the reflexes of a poisoned and weak beast of prey. If you chase a wolf over the steppe in an automobile, the beast gives out at last and lies down impotent. But attempt to put a collar on him and he will try to tear you to pieces, or at least wound you.  And indeed what else can he do in the circumstances?

The liberals imagined there was something else he might do. Instead of coming to an agreement with the enfranchised bourgeoisie in good season and thus preventing the revolution — such is liberalism’s act of accusation against the last czar – Nicholas stubbornly shrank from concessions, and even in the last days when already under the knife of destiny, when every minute was to be counted, still kept on procrastinating, bargaining with fate, and letting slip the last possibilities. This all sounds convincing. But how unfortunate that liberalism, knowing so accurately how to save the monarchy, did not know how to save itself!

It would be absurd to maintain that czarism never and in no circumstances made concessions. It made them when they were demanded by the necessity of self-preservation. After the Crimean defeat, Alexander II carried out the semi-liberation of the peasants and a series of liberal reforms in the sphere of land administration, courts, press, educational institutions, etc. The czar himself expressed the guiding thought of this reformation: to free the peasants from above lest they free themselves from below. Under the drive of the first revolution Nicholas II granted a semi-constitution. Stolypin scrapped the peasant communes in order to broaden the arena of the capitalist forces. For czarism, however, all these reforms had a meaning only in so far as the partial concession preserved the whole – that is, the foundations of a caste society and the monarchy itself. When the consequences of the reform began to splash over those boundaries the monarchy inevitably beat a retreat. Alexander II in the second half of his reign stole back the reforms of the first half. Alexander III went still farther on the road of counter-reform. Nicholas II in October 1905 retreated before the revolution, and then afterward dissolved the Dumas created by it, and as soon as the revolution grew weak, made his coup d’état. Throughout three-quarters of a century – if we begin with the reform of Alexander II – there developed a struggle of historic forces, now underground, now in the open, far transcending the personal qualities of the separate Czars, and accomplishing the overthrow of the monarchy. Only within the historic framework of this process can you find a place for individual Czars, their characters, their “biographies.”

Even the most despotic of autocrats is but little similar to a “free” individuality laying its arbitrary imprint upon events. He is always the crowned agent of the privileged classes which are forming society in their own image. When these classes have not yet fulfilled their mission, then the monarchy is strong and self-confident. Then it has in its hands a reliable apparatus power and an unlimited choice of executives –because the more gifted people have not yet gone over into the hostile camp. Then the monarch, either personally, or through the mediation of a powerful favorite, may become the agent of a great and progressive historic task. It is quite otherwise when the sun of the old society is finally declining to the west. The privileged classes are now changed from organisers of the national life into a parasitic growth; having lost their guiding function, they lose the consciousness of their mission and all confidence in their powers. Their dissatisfaction with themselves becomes a dissatisfaction with the monarchy; the dynasty becomes isolated; the circle of people loyal to the death narrows down; their level sinks lower; meanwhile the dangers grow; new force are pushing up; the monarchy loses its capacity for any kin of creative initiative; it defends itself, it strikes back, it retreats; its activities acquire the automatism of mere reflexes. The semi Asiatic despotism of the Romanovs did not escape this fate.

If you take the czarism in its agony, in a vertical section, so to speak, Nicholas is the axis of a clique which has its roots the hopelessly condemned past. In a horizontal section of the historic monarchy, Nicholas is the last link in a dynastic chain. His nearest ancestors, who also in their day were merged in family, caste and bureaucratic collectivity – only a broader one – tried out various measures and methods of government order to protect the old social régime against the fate advancing upon it. But nevertheless they passed it on to Nicholas a chaotic empire already carrying the matured revolution in its womb. If he had any choice left, it was only between different roads to ruin.

Liberalism was dreaming of a monarchy on the British plan. But was parliamentarism born on the Thames by a peaceful evolution? Was it the fruit of the “free” foresight of a single monarch? No, it was deposited as the result of a struggle that lasted for ages, and in which one of the kings left his head at the crossroads.

The historic-psychological contrast mentioned above between the Romanovs and the Capets can, by the way, be aptly extended to the British royal pair of the epoch of the first revolution. Charles I revealed fundamentally the same combination of traits with which memoirists and historians have endowed Louis XVI and Nicholas II. “Charles, therefore, remained passive,” writes Montague, “yielded where he could not resist, betrayed how unwillingly he did so, and reaped no popularity, no confidence.” “He was not a stupid man,” says another historian of Charles Stuart, “but he lacked firmness of character … His evil fate was his wife, Henrietta, a Frenchwoman, sister of Louis XIII, saturated even more than Charles with the idea of absolutism.” We will not detail the characteristics of this third – chronologically first – royal pair to be crushed by a national revolution. We will merely observe that in England the hatred was concentrated above all on the queen, as a Frenchwoman and a papist, whom they accused of plotting with Rome, secret connections with the Irish rebels, and intrigues at the French court.

But England had, at any rate, ages at her disposal. She was the pioneer of bourgeois civilisation; she was not under the yoke of other nations, but on the contrary held them more and more under her yoke. She exploited the whole world. This softened the inner contradictions, accumulated conservatism, promoted an abundance and stability of fatty deposits in the form of a parasitic caste, in the form of a squirearchy, a monarchy, House of Lords, and the state church. Thanks to this exclusive historic privilege of development possessed by bourgeois England, conservatism combined with elasticity passed over from her institutions into her moral fibre. Various continental Philistines, like the Russian professor Miliukov, or the Austro-Marxist Otto Bauer, have not to this day ceased going into ecstasies over this fact. But exactly at the present moment, when England, hard pressed throughout the world, is squandering the last resources of her former privileged position, her conservatism is losing its elasticity, and even in the person of the Labourites is turning into stark reactionism. In the face of the Indian revolution the “socialist” MacDonald will find no other methods but those with which Nicholas II opposed the Russian revolution. Only a blind man could fail to see that Great Britain is headed for gigantic revolutionary earthquake shocks, in which the last fragments of her conservatism, her world domination, her present state machine, will go down without a trace. MacDonald is preparing these shocks no less successfully than did Nicholas II in time, and no less blindly. So here too, as we see, is no poor illustration of the problem of the rôle of the “free” personality in history.

But how could Russia with her belated development, coming along at the tail end of the European nations, with her meagre economic foundation underfoot, how could she develop an “elastic conservatism” of social forms-and develop it for the special benefit of professorial liberalism and its leftward shadow, reformist socialism? Russia was too far behind. And when world imperialism once took her in its grip, she had to pass through her political history in too brief a course. If Nicholas had gone to meet liberalism and replaced one with Miliukov, the development of events would have differed a little in form, not in substance. Indeed it was just in this way that Louis behaved in the second stage of the revolution, summoning the Gironde to power: this did not save Louis himself from guillotine, nor after him the Gironde. The accumulating social contradictions were bound to break through to the surface, breaking through to carry out their work of purgation. Before the pressure of the popular masses, who had at last brought into the open arena their misfortunes, their pains, intentions, passions, hopes, illusions and aims, the high-up combination of the monarchy with liberalism had only an episodic significance. They could exert, to be sure, an influence on the order of events maybe upon the number of actions, but not at all upon development of the drama nor its momentous climax.


Notes

1. The name of this station is also the Russian word meaning “bottom.” [Trans.]

DEFEND NORTH KOREA! DPRK Defends its Right to Nuclear Self-Defense vs. “Nuclear Blackmail” of US Govt.

Voice of Korea website homepage, 17 April 2017

Voice of Korea website homepage, 17 April 2017

[N.B.: The United States and its massive propaganda machine – encompassing much of the world’s bourgeois press – has long been selling the outrageous and obvious lie that tiny North Korea, with its handful of nuclear weapons mounted (so far) only on CONTINENTAL ballistic missiles poses a deadly existential threat to the US and the entire world.  Only the willfully blind would believe this fraudulent claim, especially coming as it does from the US government, which possesses THOUSANDS of nuclear warheads capable of hitting North Korea from land, air and sea-based launch platforms.  The United States murdered an estimated 3 million Koreans in the Korean War, fought by the US capitalist class to prevent the Korean workers from taking power into their own hands and establishing a revolutionary socialist workers government at the end of WWII.  It was only due to the existence of the nuclear arsenal of the USSR that the US was prevented from using nuclear weapons against North Korea and China just as they had against the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  It was the nuclear arsenal of the USSR and, later, China, that prevented the US from deploying nuclear weapons against the Vietnamese workers during the brutal, barbaric Vietnam War.  Today, despite the massive historical record proving that it has been the USA that poses the greatest threat North Korea – and  to the human race – due to its proven willingness to use nuclear weapons – the world is supposed to believe that the quite reasonable desire of the tiny Stalinist workers state of North Korea to possess a few nukes as self-defense against the massive nuclear-armed US imperialist war machine poses a deadly threat to – the US!  Of course, this is a monstrous lie, as the following declaration of the DPRK’s “Voice of Korea” website makes clear.  Since it is impossible to get the DPRK’s side of the story from any US bourgeois press outlet, we are making an attempt to “break the US propaganda blockade” against the North Korean Stalinized workers state by publishing a few of their statements here on our website.  We say: US HANDS OFF NORTH KOREA! and US GET THE HELL OUT OF ASIA, NOW!

The following unattributed statement was transcribed from an English-language audio recording presented on the “Voice of Korea” website at http://www.vok.rep.kp/CBC/index.php?CHANNEL=6&lang= on 17 April 2017 by IWPCHI. All bracketed phrases were added by us. — IWPCHI]

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“Shamelessness of the United States, Kingpin of Nuclear Proliferation”

Some time ago, the US representative to the United Nations said: “Negotiations on [the] ‘Convention on Banning Nuclear Weapons’ are unrealistic because of the nuclear threat of North Korea”. Taking the Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea as the reason why the United States does not take part in the UN conference for negotiations on the Convention on banning nuclear weapons, he said: “Is there anyone who believes that North Korea would agree on banning nuclear weapons? It is impossible to say that the people can be protected in the way of disallowing such countries as the United States – trying to defend peace and security – to have nuclear weapons; and then allowing their opponents to have them.”

It is really a shameless and brigandish sophistry; it is a manifestation of the shameless attempt of the United States to cover up its heinous crimes – the country that is the only user of nukes in the world; a country that has invited worldwide nuclear arms race with nuclear threat and blackmail.

Looking back upon the history of nuclear arms development, the United States and other big powers played the leading role in making international conventions on nuclear weapons and signed them (or not, in their interests), for the purpose of keeping non-nuclear states from possessing nukes. The Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea has risen up as a nuclear power in the East to cope with the vicious use of threat of nuclear war, which has lasted tens of years; so it is quite natural for the DPRK not to take part in the UN conference for negotiations on the convention on banning nuclear weapons, which presupposes nuclear renunciation.

The United States is the kingpin of nuclear proliferation, that did not hesitate to impose nuclear calamity upon humanity to realize its ambition for world domination, but trifled international treaties for nuclear disarmament and is conniving at, encouraging and shielding the nuclear arms development of its stooges.

Recently, in the United States (which talked about a ‘nuclear-free world’ more loudly than others) remarks are openly made that the nuclear force of the United States ‘lags behind’ other countries, and nuclear force will be strengthened to keep it in military power. Still advocating ‘peace by strength’, the United States is invariably promoting the modernization of nuclear weapons costing one trillion US dollars (which was accelerated by the former administration) and does not hesitate to maintain that the treaties on nuclear disarmament with other nuclear powers must be abolished.

It is illogical and the acme of shamelessness that such an outrageous nuclear devil slanders the nuclear force of the DPRK – a direct product of [the US’] nuclear blackmail. The United States must clearly know it is an invariable stand of the DPRK that peace and security of the Korean peninsula can be defended only by reliable nuclear deterrence, as long as there exists a nuclear state in hostile relations with the DPRK.

As the nuclear threat and blackmail of the United States and its followers continue, the DPRK will [afford?], expand and strengthen its nuclear force [equal?] to the self-reliant defense capability and pre-emptive striking capacity.

— [Voice of Korea]

DEFEND NORTH KOREA! DPRK Slams U.S. Human Rights Record, Citing Racism, Slavery, Child Abuse

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK, known in the US as simply “North Korea”) slammed the US’ human rights record recently, calling out the US Government for its blatant hypocrisy regarding human rights in the US and wherever the US military has launched attacks against countries around the world.

Writing back on 28 February, the Korean Central News Agency (the official DPRK news website) accused the US of being the “world’s worst human rights abuser”, citing the US’ long record of racism and traffic in human flesh which “began with black slave trade”.

“Last year the U.S. released a ‘report on world’s human traffic in 2016’ in which it slandered 188 countries and regions, blaming them for failing to combat flesh traffic. Not content with this, the U.S. went the lengths of mapping out a list of such countries.
“There is no such country as the U.S. where human existence and security are not guaranteed and even the elementary rights of human beings are being violated blatantly.
“The U.S. is a cesspool of crimes and a veritable hell where grisly human rights abuses and bloody man-killing are rampant. It came into being through bloody man-killing and exists by dint of human rights abuses.

“The U.S. is only the country where children without their protectors are thrown behind bars for an indefinite period. About 70 000 children met such fate in 2014 only.
“It is shameless for such country to talk about international law and standards and pull up most of the countries in the world over their ‘human rights situation.'”

The full text of the KCNA article is reprinted below.

The complete political disorientation of the Kim Jong-Il-led DPRK leadership is shown in this article by their uncritical citation of a statement from the viciously anti-woman, anticommunist and antigay Iranian government regarding the US human rights record.  For alleged communists to needlessly make common cause with one of the most hideously backward and anti-worker regimes on the face of the planet merely in order to “buttress” a political attack against the USA’s human rights record is absurd.  It is a fine example of how once a “revolutionary socialist” leadership abandons the fundamental principles of revolutionary Marxist/Leninist/Trotskyist internationalism in favor of the utopian programme of “building socialism in one country” their ability to even distinguish friend from foe is completely lost.

While we do not agree with the Stalinist politics of the North Korean DPRK leadership, which long ago abandoned the fundamental tenets of Marxism/Leninism by repudiating the idea of building  revolutionary socialist political parties around the world dedicated to the global overthrow of the capitalist system in favor the utopian idea of building socialism in half a country, we defend the Stalinized North Korean workers state – despite its obvious and major flaws – as an important and historic conquest of the workers of Korea and of the world.  As Trotsky pointed out: if revolutionary socialist and anarchist workers refuse to defend existing victories of the working class they will never be able to conquer new ones.  Heroic North Korea stands today as the last nation in the world where the capitalist classes have been completely kicked out and are unable to exploit a single North Korean worker!  This is precisely why the United States and its capitalist allies in the UN hate North Korea and want to see it destroyed.  We desire to help build the political leadership necessary to launch a Trotskyist workers socialist political revolution inside the DPRK to replace the hereditary Kim Il Sungist/Stalinist bureaucracy with a true proletarian democracy that fights to defend socialism in North Korea, while simultaneously fighting against capitalist restoration in all the other Maoist/Stalinist degenerated workers states, from China to Cuba.

There has historically always been a strong internationalist current in the Korean communist movement, which was fully expressed by the heroic exiled Korean communist worker-leaders of the 1930s who provided crucial leadership for the Chinese working class in the workers movement of China back when Korea was occupied by the Japanese.  Today as the disgusting fake-communist Chinese “Communist Party” leadership slowly restores capitalism to China, stuffing its leaders’ pockets with money and sending the children of the fake-Communist Party leaders to study capitalist business practices in places like Harvard Business School, they stoop so low as to threaten to refuse to defend their brave sisters and brothers in North Korea from US attacks!  Overthrowing what is left of the gains of the Chinese Revolution is the Number One priority of US imperialism; the US seeks to split China away from North Korea by bribing the top Chinese “Communist Party” leaders with cold, hard cash.  The workers of China must oust the betrayers in the fake-“Chinese Communist Party” leadership and replace these cat’s paws of world capitalism with a revolutionary socialist leadership dedicated to defending and extending the historic gains of the Chinese workers and peasants socialist revolution! The restoration of capitalism in China – like the restoration of capitalism in the countries of the former USSR – will be a huge disaster for the workers and peasants of China and of the whole world! The capitalist world has barely recovered from its last great global crisis and is now staggering towards its next great economic collapse.  There is no future for the workers of the world under capitalism other than a future of endless wars, more poverty and more environmental and human degradation!  Every TRUE communist knows this fact down to the marrow of their bones!  A “communist party” that seeks “peaceful coexistence” with a capitalist world that must overthrow every gain of the working class in order to survive is not a “communist party” at all but is in fact a nest of conspiring counterrevolutionaries poised to betray the working class in exchange for the biggest bribes they can get from the capitalists!  The pro-capitalist leadership of the Chinese “Communist Party” must be arrested and thrown in jail – overthrown – by the workers of China in a pro-socialist Trotskyist political revolution before those fake-Communists sell China to the highest bidder!  China must DEFEND THE DPRK FROM EVERY ATTACK LAUNCHED AGAINST IT BY US IMPERIALISM!  The US and its capitalist allies are not potential “friends” of the Chinese working class but are their mortal enemies and future hangmen!

Likewise, we call for the DPRK to return to the road of Lenin and Trotsky and away from the death trap of the counterrevolutionary Stalinist and Maoist programme of abandoning internationalist Marxism in favor of building socialism in one country.  The Korean workers revolution led by the great revolutionary leader Kim Il-Sung has sacrificed to much in the cause of the workers and peasants of the world to be sqandered away by the politically disoriented Stalinist epigones of the “Juche Idea” – which is nothing but a Korean version of the counterrevolutionary Stalinist doctrine of “building socialism in one country” that led directly to the Stalinists’ betrayal of the workers of the USSR. DPRK workers: return to the road of revolutionary Marxist/Leninist/Trotskyist internationalism!

The workers of the US and the entire capitalist world must defend our sister and brother workers in North Korea from the continuous death threats issued by US imperialism and its UN/EU/NATO allies.  US: Hands Off North Korea and China!  US OUT OF THE KOREAN PENINSULA NOW!

-IWPCHI

*****************************

True Colors of U.S. as World’s Worst Human Rights Abuser

Pyongyang, February 28 (KCNA) — The U.S. has come under fire by the international community for its human rights abuses revealed one after another.
Quoting the results of the recent survey made by Polaris, the national human traffic survey institution, UPI disclosed that the flesh traffic increased 35.7 percent in the U.S. last year over that in the previous year.
It said that more than 7 572 cases of flesh traffic were reported in California, Texas, Florida, etc., terming them “a form of modern-day slave system.”
Seyed Ali Khamenei, leader of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, referred to the fact that a five-year-old boy was detained with his hands manacled in the U.S. some time ago, saying that this shows the present “human rights situation in the U.S.”
All facts go to clearly show before the world once again the true colors of the U.S. as the worst human rights abuser.
Last year the U.S. released a “report on world’s human traffic in 2016” in which it slandered 188 countries and regions, blaming them for failing to combat flesh traffic. Not content with this, the U.S. went the lengths of mapping out a list of such countries.
There is no such country as the U.S. where human existence and security are not guaranteed and even the elementary rights of human beings are being violated blatantly.
The U.S. is a cesspool of crimes and a veritable hell where grisly human rights abuses and bloody man-killing are rampant. It came into being through bloody man-killing and exists by dint of human rights abuses.
It has a history of the most cursed and disgraceful flesh traffic in the world.
Its history began with black slave trade and is still known as the world’s worst country in flesh traffic. 100 000 to 500 000 fall victim to the flesh traffic for slave labor every year and 100 000 children are forced into prostitution annually.
The U.S. is only the country where children without their protectors are thrown behind bars for an indefinite period. About 70 000 children met such fate in 2014 only.
It is shameless for such country to talk about international law and standards and pull up most of the countries in the world over their “human rights situation.”
The U.S. is loudmouthed about “defence of human rights” and “equality for all” world-wide but it can never cover up its true colors as the world’s worst human rights abuser.
The U.S. “human rights” campaign will never work on any country. -0-

100th Anniversary of the Russian Revolution: Voices of the Revolution – March, 1917

Selections from the excellent book “Voices of Revolution” by Mark D. Steinberg, Translated by Marian Schwartz; Yale University Press, 2001

Edited by IWPCHI

We present these selections from the massive outpouring of appeals, declarations, poems, essays and songs written by Russian people from all walks of life in response to the long-awaited overthrow of the hated Tzarist regime. These are representative of the political level of the Russian working class, peasantry and soldiery in the days immediately after the February revolution. – IWPCHI

Historical period: March, 1917

[The following poem was written by Mikhail Serafimovich, a private in the Reserve Cavalry]

I most humbly ask the gentlemen editors if you might not find a way to put the verse copied out below in your newspaper.

“Long live free Russia.”

The joyous cry floods my soul—-

“Long live our freedom,”

The red flag stills my heart.

A leaden weight has fallen,

The world dreams a shining dream…

I’m young again, my body drunk,

My soul replete with feelings.

With feelings as vast and endless

As drops in the cup of the sea.

*******************

The Russian National Hymn

(to the tune of “How Glorious Is Our Lord in Zion”)

Blessed is the Father of all

The God of Gods inscrutable!

Who creates from nothing, from mortal life,

Joyous souls immutable.

Blessed too are all the nations

And every living creature,

Wondrous nature’s emanations,

And matter inanimate of feature.

[…]

Blessed is our Holy Rus—-

Our family of nations, tribes,

Our homeland with its bounds unloosed,

Its freedom and its law prescribed.

Blessed is the new republic

Of our cherished nation’s power,

With a leader now elected

By this huge dear land of ours.

[…]

[Signed]

Muzhik Mikula

March 1917

**************************

“To the Fallen Freedom Fighters” by metalworker Demian Semyonov

To the Fallen Freedom Fighters

Memory eternal to all who have fought.

For freedom through great tribulation!

The blood they sacrificed has bought

This sacred freedom for our nation.

Much they suffered, their needs subdued,

Awaiting the dawn with freedom’s hope …

For naught their pleas and howls flew

To the ear of the tyrant, to the Tsar’s own throne

[…]

Our pleas for bread they would not abide,

and instead of bread sent bayonets, lead!

In sacrifice too many comrades died …

But they tore the crown from the despot’s head.

In our hour of trial, you did not despair,

You sallied forth with naked chest…

May the earth be a bed as soft as air!

[…]

Please put the attached poem in the newspaper.

D. Semyonov

At your service

*********************************

[Note: The Tzarist government, in its dying days, attempted to excuse its own vast incompetence and inability to provide the soldiers at the front with even basic supplies, from boots to bullets, by blaming the shortages on the long-suffering armament factory workers who had gone on strike for higher wages

in order to feed themselves and their families. By doing this they tried to get the soldiers to attack the rebellious workers instead of the government that was actually responsible for the shortages. The workers in the factories vigorously denounced this attempt and sought successfully to appeal directly to the soldiers themselves in explaining what was really going on. – IWPCHI]

“Appeal to soldiers from the workers of the A. M. Ouf machine, metal and engineering factories, Petrograd (28-29 March, 1917)”

“We, the workers of the Ouf factory, in a gathering of eight hundred people, loudly protest the disgraceful and insolent agitation aimed at us, the workers, by dark and ignorant persons. We declare that we and the soldiers have common interests; there are no enemies among us, for we are all the working class. This lie is coming not from our camp, for it is bubbling up in an underhanded way, from underground, fearful of just retribution.

Comrade soldiers! The slander that is coming out of our enemies’ camp must be stopped immediately. We must declare that workers and soldiers are one and that we will not allow our enemies to sow enmity between us. […] We declare that our comrade soldiers and we workers shall henceforth fight for our interests— the interests of the working people. And to our enemies, who are attempting to divide us, we loudly declare, “No! Stand back! For you are our enslavers, for you are living off our labor, you are breathing through us, and it’s you who depend on us, not we on you.”

[…]

In their speeches in response, the soldiers’ representatives assured the workers that the army does not believe the foul slander of the bourgeois press and that the soldiers know the secret purpose of this slander— to make the workers and the soldiers quarrel […]