Tag Archives: Trotsky

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

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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 Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 – As it Happened: Lenin and Trotsky Respond to News of February 1917 Revolution and Abdication of the Tzar

Wikipedia caption:  “A demonstration of workers from the Putilov plant in Petrograd (modern-day St. Petersburg), Russia, during the February Revolution. The left banner reads (misspelt*) “Feed the children of the defenders of the motherland”; the right banner, “Increase payments to the soldiers’ families – defenders of freedom and world peace”.  Both refer to the economic toll the First World War was having on civilian life.  Unknown [photographer] – State museum of political history of Russia. 1 February 1917″

Inspired by the “Disunion” series produced by the New York Times to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the US Civil War, we are going to attempt to publish a daily account of the historic events that led up to the first successful workers revolution in world history – the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution in Russia – in the words of its principal leaders and the shocked and terrified capitalist classes of the world and their respective bourgeois presses.

There were in fact not one but two revolutions that took place in Russia in 1917: the first one, in February, brought to power a bourgeois government made up chiefly of wealthy landlords and aristocrats who had prospered under Tzarism.  [When the February revolution occurred, many of those who would become the top leaders of the Bolshevik Revolution were in exile: as you will see from the documents reproduced below, Lenin was in Zurich, Switzerland and Trotsky was in New York City (they immediately made plans to return to Russia)].  The second, Bolshevik revolution of October 1917 overthrew that government and replaced it with a workers and peasants’ government based on elected workers, soldiers and peasants’ “soviets” (councils) led by that time largely by the Bolsheviks and supported by all the other revolutionary socialist, anarchist and leftist peasant-based parties and groups.

There has never been a party of honest and courageous revolutionary leaders so universally vilified and slandered as the leaders of the Bolshevik party were (and are to this day!) by the capitalists of the world and their paid liars in their bourgeois press.  Workers who have been taught to hate the Bolsheviks should carefully read these documents written by the great Bolshevik leaders and examine them for any traces of duplicity or double-dealing behind the backs of the workers and peasants of Russia.  Good luck finding any!  There has never been a political party in the history of the world more honest and transparent than Lenin’s Bolshevik Party of 1917! And you will undoubtedly be surprised to read Lenin’s repeated statements urging the immediate “arming of the workers” to defend the Revolution from those who wanted to restore the Tzar to his throne!

Led chiefly by Lenin and, later on, Leon Trotsky and a brilliant team of lifelong revolutionary socialists (almost all of whom had “graduated” from more or less lengthy terms of imprisonment in the brutal jails and Siberian prison camps of the universally despised Tzarist regime) the Bolsheviks fought against a rip tide of slander and calumny from their political opponents inside Russia and throughout the world. The trials that the Bolsheviks went through from April to November of 1917 would have utterly destroyed an organization that was not as battle-hardened and politically brilliant as were Lenin’s Bolsheviks.  Through the tumultuous spring and summer of 1917 the Bolsheviks went from being heroes to having their party members beaten to death in the streets to winning over the workers and soldiers exhausted by the brutal role they were forced to play in WWI as cannon fodder for the Germans on the Eastern Front – to victory in the October Revolution.  It is one of the most amazing stories in the history of the world and one that every revolutionary worker should take the time to study again and again to prepare herself for the many traps and subterfuges used by the various parties that pretend to fight for the workers but who ultimately prove to be the most ardent defenders of the capitalist system in the final analysis.

Workers in the USA have been taught from birth to hate the “commies” and especially the Russian communist leaders; Lenin being falsely portrayed as the founding father of loathsome Stalinism – which he most certainly was not!  In fact, Lenin was quite possibly the most honest and trustworthy leader that the working class ever had.  His mantra was the same as that of Marx, Engels and entirely within the best traditions of the workers’ movement from its earliest days: to tell the truth to the workers and peasants, no matter how unpleasant it may be.  Far from working hand-in-hand with Stalin, Lenin had decided to initiate a vigorous struggle against Stalin and his growing arrogant bureaucracy in the months before his death.  This struggle was continued by Trotsky after Lenin’s untimely death; and that struggle involved a huge section of the Communist Party of the USSR known as the “Left Opposition” and was not defeated by the Stalinists until the 1930s – after the Stalinists had murdered almost to the last man and woman everyone who had led the Bolshevik Party to victory in 1917 as well as all of the leading ‘left Oppositionists” – including the man who originated our political movement, Leon Trotsky, murdered by a Stalinist assassin in Mexico in 1940.  It is not for nothing that those of us in the Trotskyist movement call Stalin and his vicious bureaucratic clique “the gravediggers of the Revolution”.

Stalin organized the show trials and ordered the murders of most of the leaders of the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. Source: Marxists Internet Archive

We’re going to start our series just before the legendary wartime rail journey made across a bleeding Europe by the Bolshevik leaders-in-exile who were given safe passage by the Germans in a “sealed train” in the desperate hopes of the German staff that these anti-Tsarist revolutionaries would pull Russia out of the war, enabling the Germans to transfer thousands of troops from the Eastern to the Western front.  They got their wish – but the victory of the Bolsheviks led not to a German victory in WWI but directly to the collapse of the German monarchy and the initiation of the first in a long series of attempts at workers revolution in Germany the very next year – the heroic Spartacist Uprising, ruthlessly suppressed by the German Social Democrats (SPD).

The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989 was a tremendous defeat for the working class not just in the USSR but internationally; it set the stage for the precipitous collapse of workers’ living standards inside the former Soviet Union and gave the green light to a resurgent US imperialism to launch their ill-fated wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and throughout the Middle East.  We seek to build a revolutionary socialist workers party that learns the lessons of 1917 as well as the brutal and tragic rise and collapse of Stalinism from 1927-1989 as we try to prevent WWIII through workers socialist revolution in the USA and around the world.  Long Live the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917!

We hope you enjoy this series and we welcome your comments and any supplementary material you would like to send to us to publish along with it.

— IWPCHI

[Note: Until the Bolsheviks took power in 1917, Russia and other countries where the Orthodox Church was the “official” church used an “old style” Julian calendar that was 13 days out of sync with the “new style” European calendar.  Dates given in these articles will show first the original “old style” date and then the “new style” date in parentheses.  Thus the Russian “October Revolution” of 25 October 1917 (old style) took place for most of the world on 7 November 1917 (new style). In this document, note that Lenin, writing from exile in Switzerland uses the “new style” calendar dates. – IWPCHI]

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Lenin and Trotsky respond to the news of the February 1917 Revolution and the Abdication of the Tsar:

Document 1:

V. I. Lenin
Draft Theses, March 4 (17), 1917[1]

Information reaching Zurich from Russia at this moment, March 17, 1917, is so scanty, and events in our country are developing so rapidly, that any judgement of the situation must of needs be very cautious.

Yesterday’s dispatches indicated that the tsar had already abdicated and that the new, Octobrist-Cadet government[2] had already made an agreement with other representatives of the Romanov dynasty. Today there are reports from England that the tsar has not yet abdicated, and that his whereabouts are unknown. This suggests that he is trying to put up resistance, organise a party, perhaps even an armed force, in an attempt to restore the monarchy. If he succeeds in fleeing from Russia or winning over part of the armed forces, the tsar might, to mislead the people, issue a manifesto announcing immediate conclusion of a separate peace with Germany!

That being the position, the proletariat’s task is a pretty complex one. There can be no doubt that it must organise itself in the most efficient way, rally all its forces, arm, strengthen and extend its alliance with all sections of the working masses of town and country in order to put up a stubborn resistance to tsarist reaction and crush the tsarist monarchy once and for all.

Another factor to bear in mind is that the new government that has seized power in St. Petersburg, or, more correctly, wrested it from the proletariat, which has waged a victorious, heroic and fierce struggle, consists of liberal bourgeois and landlords whose lead is being followed by Kerensky, the spokesman of the democratic peasants and, possibly, of that part of the workers who have forgotten their internationalism and have been led on to the bourgeois path. The new government is composed of avowed advocates and supporters of the imperialist war with Germany, i.e., a war in alliance with the English and French imperialist governments, a war for the plunder and conquest of foreign lands—Armenia, Galicia, Constantinople, etc. [See Note 3 at end of this first document – IWPCHI]

The new government cannot give the peoples of Russia (and the nations tied to us by the war) either peace, bread, or full freedom. The working class must therefore continue its fight for socialism and peace, utilising for this purpose the new situation and explaining it as widely as possible among the masses.

The new government cannot give the people peace, because it represents the capitalists and landlords and because it is tied to the English and French capitalists by treaties and financial commitments. Russian Social-Democracy must therefore, while remaining true to internationalism, first and foremost explain to the people who long for peace that it cannot be won under the present government. Its first appeal to the people (March 17) does not as much as mention the chief and basic issue of the time, peace. It is keeping secret the predatory treaties tsarism concluded with England, France, Italy, Japan, etc. It wants to conceal from the people the truth about its war programme, the fact that it stands for continuation of the war, for victory over Germany. It is not in a position to do what the people so vitally need: directly and frankly propose to all belligerent countries an immediate ceasefire, to be followed by peace based on complete liberation of all the colonies and dependent and unequal nations. That requires a workers’ government acting in alliance with, first, the poorest section of the rural population, and, second, the revolutionary workers of all countries in the war.

The new government cannot give the people bread. And no freedom can satisfy the masses suffering from hunger due to shortages and inefficient distribution of available stocks, and, most important, to the seizure of these stocks by the landlords and capitalists. It requires revolutionary measures against the landlords and capitalists to give the people bread, and such measures can be carried out only by a workers’ government.

Lastly, the new government is not, in a position to give the people full freedom, though in its March 17 manifesto it speaks of nothing but political freedom and is silent on other, no less important, issues. The new government has already endeavoured to reach agreement with the Romanov dynasty, for it has suggested recognising the Romanovs, in defiance of the people’s will, on the understanding that Nicholas II would abdicate in favour of his son, with a member of the Romanov family appointed regent. In its manifesto, the new government promises every kind of freedom, but has failed in its direct and unconditional duty immediately to implement such freedoms as election of officers, etc., by the soldiers, elections to the St. Petersburg, Moscow and other City Councils on a basis of genuinely universal, and not merely male, suffrage, make all government and public buildings available for public meetings, appoint elections to all local institutions and Zemstvos, likewise on the basis of genuinely universal suffrage, repeal all restrictions on the rights of local government bodies, dismiss all officials appointed to supervise local government bodies, introduce not only freedom of religion, but also freedom from religion, immediately separate the school from the church and free it of control by government officials, etc.

The new government’s March 17 manifesto arouses the deepest distrust, for it consists entirely of promises and does not provide for the immediate carrying out of a single one of the vital measures that can and should be carried out right now.

The new government’s programme does not contain a single word on the eight-hour day or on any other economic measure to improve the worker’s position. It contains not a single word about land for the peasants, about the uncompensated transfer to the peasants of all the estates. By its silence on these vital issues the new government reveals its capitalist and landlord nature.

Only a workers’ government that relies, first, on the overwhelming majority of the peasant population, the farm labourers and poor peasants, and, second, on an alliance with the revolutionary workers of all countries in the war, can give the people peace, bread and full freedom.

The revolutionary proletariat can therefore only regard the revolution of March 1 (14) as its initial, and by no means complete, victory on its momentous path. It cannot but set itself the task of continuing the fight for a democratic republic and socialism.

To do that, the proletariat and the R.S.D.L.P. must above all utilise the relative and partial freedom the new government is introducing, and which can be guaranteed and extended only by continued, persistent and persevering revolutionary struggle.

The truth about the present government and its real attitude on pressing issues must be made known to all working people in town and country, and also to the army. Soviets of Workers’ Deputies must be organised, the workers must be armed [emphasis added – IWPCHI]. Proletarian organisations must be extended to the army (which the new government has likewise promised political rights) and to the rural areas. In particular there must be a separate class organisation for farm labourers.

Only by making the truth known to the widest masses of the population, only by organising them, can we guarantee full victory in the next stage of the revolution and the winning of power by a workers’ government.

Fulfilment of this task, which in revolutionary times and under the impact of the severe lessons of the war can be brought home to the people in an immeasurably shorter time than under ordinary conditions, requires the revolutionary proletarian party to be ideologically and organisation ally independent. It must remain true to internationalism and not succumb to the false bourgeois phraseology meant to dupe the people by talk of “defending the fatherland” in the present imperialist and predatory war.

Not only this government, but even a democratic bourgeois republican government, were it to consist exclusively of Kerensky and other Narodnik and “Marxist” social-patriots, cannot lead the people out of the imperialist war and guarantee peace.

For that reason we cannot consent to any blocs, or alliances, or even agreements with the defencists among the workers, nor with the Gvozdyov-Potresov-Chkhenkeli Kerensky, etc., trend, nor with men who, like Chkheidze and others, have taken a vacillating and indefinite stand on this crucial issue. Those agreements would not only inject an element of falseness in the minds of the masses, making them dependent on the Russian imperialist bourgeoisie, but would also weaken and undermine the leading role of the proletariat in ridding the people of imperialist war and guaranteeing a genuinely durable peace between the workers’ governments of all countries.
Notes

[1] The first news of the February bourgeois-democratic revolution in Russia reached Lenin on March 2 (15), 1917. Reports of the victory of the revolution and the advent to power of an Octobrist-Cadet government of capitalists and landlords appeared in the Zürcher Post and Neue Zürcher Zeitung by the evening of March 4 (17). Lenin had drawn up a rough draft of theses, not meant for publication, on the tasks of the proletariat in the revolution. The theses were immediately sent via Stockholm to Oslo for the Bolsheviks leaving for Russia.

[2] Lenin uses the appellation Octobrist-Cadet to describe the bourgeois Provisional Government formed at 3 p.m. on March 2 (15), 1917 by agreement between the Provisional Committee of the State Duma and the Socialist-Revolutionary and Menshevik leaders of the Executive Committee of the Petrograd Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies. The government was made up of Prince G. Y. Lvov (Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior), the Cadet leader P. N. Milyukov (Minister of Foreign Affairs), the Octobrist leader A. I. Guchkov (Minister of War and Acting Minister of the Navy) and other representatives of the big bourgeoisie and landlords. It also included A. F. Kerensky, of the Trudovik group, who was appointed Minister of Justice.

The manifesto of March 4 (17) mentioned by Lenin later on was originally drawn up by Menshevik members of the Petrograd Soviet Executive Committee. It set out the terms on which the Executive was prepared to support the Provisional Government. In the course of negotiations with the Duma Committee, it was revised by P. N. Milyukov and became the basis of the Provisional Government’s first appeal to the people.

[3]  From Encyclopedia of Marxism: Glossary of Organisations https://www.marxists.org/glossary/orgs/p/r.htm#provisional-government

Provisional Committee

On February 27 (March 12), 1917, the Duma is called into session on the appeals of Councillor of State Rodzianko, who is desperately trying to save the Empire despite the extraordinary momentum of the February Revolution. At 4pm the Duma resolves to create the Provisional Committee of the State Duma. Its members are among the biggest landowners and most wealthy capitalists in Russia:

M.V. Rodzianko (Octobrist); V.V. Shulgin; V.N. Lvov; I.I. Dmitryukov (Octobrist); S.I. Shidlovsky (Octobrist); M.A. Karaulov; A.F. Kerensky (Labour Party); A.I. Konovalav (Progressive); V.A. Rzhevsky (Progressive); A.A. Bublikov (Progressive); P.N. Milyukov (Cadet); N.V. Nekrasov (Cadet); and N.S. Chkheidze (Menshevik).

The Committee discusses whether they should assume power over the country, filling up the vacuum caused by the revolution and the Tsar’s ineptitude. The Committee denies the move, and resolves that it must somehow save the Tsar. The Committee resolves that the only path towards this is to share power between Tsar and a new Prime Minister. [It was suggested to the Tzar that he should resign in favor of his son in order to give the new government a veneer of what to the new government appeared to be the necessary “legitimacy”! – IWPCHI] The despondent Tsar refused this offer. The Committee then asks his brother Mikhail to assume the throne, who also refuses.

On the following day, left without any other option, the Committee assumes power over the government. Along with the Petrograd Soviet, the Committee creates a new Provisional Government.

Provisional Government

Russian government established after the February Revolution of 1917 and lasting until the October Revolution of 1917.

The provisional government was born by decision of the Duma, which on the 27th of February, formed the Provisional Committee of Duma Members. The committee consisted of 12 members, chaired by Mikhail Rodzyanko (Octobrist), and was mostly made up of members of the Progressive Bloc, though it included two Socialists: Alexander Kerensky and Nikolai Chkheidze.

By March 1, the commandant of the Palace Guard at Tsarskoe Selo, and hundreds of high ranking officers announced their support for the provisional committee; the workers’ and soldiers’ revolution of February sent the monarchist officers a clear message: support for the Tsar would no longer be tolerated. The Provisional Committee attempted to gain legal legitimacy through the Tsar, but when Nicholas II refused, the committee assumed power.

Later in the day, the Committee asked the Ispolkom of the Petrograd Soviet for its support. The Ispolkom, without consulting the Soviet, presented an eight point programme, its conditions for support of the government:

1. Amnesty for all political prisoners
2. The right to speak, assemble, and strike
3. Equality for all nationalities, religions, and social origins.
4. Convocation of the Constituent Assembly
5. Police organs to be replaced by militia whose officers were elected
6. New elections to the soviets
7. Military units that participated in the Revolution not be sent to the front
8. Off duty-soldiers to receive temporary status as civilians

The programme was neither accepted nor declined, but ‘taken into consideration’; the Committee largely considering it consistent with their aims. A day after the Ispolkom presented it to the Provisional Committee, it asked the Petrograd Soviet to approve it, though the Soviet responded by pressing the demand that a “supervisory committee” be elected to serve as the correspondent to the Provisional Committee.

On March 2, 1917, the Provisional Committee became the Provisional Government. Pavel Milyukov picked the members of the new cabinet.

Chairman and Minister of the Interior: Prince G. E. Lvov
Minister of Foreign Affairs: P. N. Milyukov
Minister of Justice: A. F. Kerensky
Minister of Transport: N. V. Nekrasov
Minister of Posts and Telegraphs: I. G. Tsereteli
Minister of Trade: A. I. Konovalov
Minister of Public Education: A. A. Manuilov
Minister of War: A. I. Guchkov
Minister of Agriculture: A. I. Shingaryov
Minister of Treasury: M. I. Tereschenko
Minister of State Accounts: I. V. Godnev
Minister of Religion: V. N. Lvov

The Imperial family was arrested on the following day, March 3, 1917 […] The Ministers of the Provisional Government fled the country [after the Bolsheviks seized power in October], some of whom later assisted the United States, France, Britain, and Japan in the invasion of the R.S.F.S.R. during the Civil Wars of 1918-1922.

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Published: First published in 1924 in Lenin Miscellany II. Published according to the manuscript.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1964, Moscow, Volume 23, pages 287-291.
Translated: M. S. Levin, The Late Joe Fineberg and Others
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive 2002 (2005). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Source: “Marxists Internet Archive” at https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1917/mar/04.htm#fwV23E122

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Document 2:

Leon Trotsky
OUR REVOLUTION
Two Faces
(Internal Forces of the Russian Revolution)
(March 1917)

Published in New York on March 17, 1917

Let us examine more closely what is going on.

Nicholas has been dethroned, and according to some information, is under arrest. The most conspicuous Black Hundred leaders have been arrested. Some of the most hated have been killed. A new Ministry has been formed consisting of Octobrists, Liberals and the Radical Kerensky. A general amnesty has been proclaimed.

All these are facts, big facts. These are the facts that strike the outer world most. Changes in the higher government give the bourgeoisie of Europe and America an occasion to say that the revolution has won and is now completed.

The Tzar and his Black Hundred fought for their power, for this alone. The war, the imperialistic plans of the Russian bourgeoisie, the interests of the Allies, were of minor importance to the Tzar and his clique. They were ready at any moment to conclude peace with the Hohenzollerns and Hapsburgs, to free their most loyal regiment for war against their own people.

The Progressive Bloc of the Duma mistrusted the Tzar and his Ministers. This Bloc consisted of various parties of the Russian bourgeoisie. The Bloc had two aims: one, to conduct the war to a victorious end; another, to secure internal reforms: more order, control, accounting. A victory is necessary for the Russian bourgeoisie to conquer markets, to increase their territories, to get rich. Reforms are necessary primarily to enable the Russian bourgeoisie to win the war.

The progressive imperialistic Bloc wanted peaceful reforms. The liberals intended to exert a Duma pressure on the monarchy and to keep it in check with the aid of the governments of Great Britain and France. They did not want a revolution. They knew that a revolution, bringing the working masses to the front, would be a menace to their domination, and primarily a menace to their imperialistic plans. The laboring masses, in the cities and in the villages, and even in the army itself, want peace. The liberals know it. This is why they have been enemies of the revolution all these years. A few months ago Milyukov declared in the Duma: “If a revolution were necessary for victory, I would prefer no victory at all.”

Yet the liberals are now in power – through the Revolution. The bourgeois newspaper men see nothing but this fact. Milyukov, already in his capacity as a Minister of Foreign Affairs, has declared that the revolution has been conducted in the name of a victory over the enemy, and that the new government has taken upon itself to continue the war to a victorious end. The New York Stock Exchange interpreted the Revolution in this specific sense. There are clever people both on the Stock Exchange and among the bourgeois newspaper men. Yet they are all amazingly stupid when they come to deal with mass-movements. They think that Milyukov manages the revolution, in the same sense as they manage their banks or news offices. They see only the liberal governmental reflection of the unfolding events, they notice only the foam on the surface of the historical torrent.

The long pent-up dissatisfaction of the masses has burst forth so late, in the thirty-second month of the war, not because the masses were held by police barriers-those barriers had been badly shattered during the war – but because all liberal institutions and organs, together with their Social-Patriotic shadows, were exerting an enormous influence over the least enlightened elements of the workingmen, urging them to keep order and discipline in the name of “patriotism.” Hungry women were already walking out into the streets, and the workingmen were getting ready to uphold them by a general strike, while the liberal bourgeoisie, according to news reports, still issued proclamations and delivered speeches to check the movement, – resembling that famous heroine of Dickens who tried to stem the tide of the ocean with a broom.

The movement, however, took its course, from below, from the workingmen’s quarters. After hours and days of uncertainty, of shooting, of skirmishes, the army joined in the revolution, from below, from the best of the soldier masses. The old government was powerless, paralyzed, annihilated. The Tzar fled from the capital “to the front.” The Black Hundred bureaucrats crept, like cockroaches, each into his corner.

Then, and only then, came the Duma’s turn to act. The Tzar had attempted in the last minute to dissolve it. And the Duma would have obeyed, “following the example of former years,” had it been free to adjourn. The capitals, however, were already dominated by the revolutionary people, the same people that had walked out into the streets despite the wishes of the liberal bourgeoisie. The army was with the people. Had not the bourgeoisie attempted to organize its own government, a revolutionary government would have emerged from the revolutionary working masses. The Duma of June 3rd would never have dared to seize the power from the hands of Tzarism. But it did not want to miss the chance offered by interregnum: the monarchy had disappeared, while a revolutionary government was not yet formed. Contrary to all their part, contrary to their own policies and against their will, the liberals found themselves in possession of power.

Milyukov now declares Russia will continue the war “to the end.” It is not easy for him so to speak: he knows that his words are apt to arouse the indignation of the masses against the new government. Yet he had to speak them – for the sake of the London, Paris and – American Stock Exchanges. It is quite possible that he cabled his declaration for foreign consumption only, and that he concealed it from his own country.

Milyukov knows very well that under given conditions he cannot continue the war, crush Germany, dismember Austria, occupy Constantinople and Poland.

The masses have revolted, demanding bread and peace. The appearance of a few liberals at the head of the government has not fed the hungry, has not healed the wounds of the people. To satisfy the most urgent, the most acute needs of the people, peace must be restored. The liberal imperialistic Bloc does not dare to speak of peace. They do not do it, first, on account of the Allies. They do not do it, further, because the liberal bourgeoisie is to a great extent responsible before the people for the present war. The Milyukovs and Gutchkovs, not less than the Romanoff camarila, have thrown the country into this monstrous imperialistic adventure. To stop the war, to return to the ante-bellum misery would mean that they have to account to the people for this undertaking. The Milyukovs and Gutchkovs are afraid of the liquidation of the war not less than they were afraid of the Revolution.

This is their aspect in their new capacity, as the government of Russia. They are compelled to continue the war, and they can have no hope of victory; they are afraid of the people, and people do not trust them.

This is how Karl Marx characterized similar situation:

“From the very beginning ready to betray the people and to compromise with the crowned representatives of the old regime, because the bourgeoisie itself belongs to the old world; keeping a place at the steering wheel of the revolution not because the people were back of them, but because the people pushed them forward; … having no faith in themselves, no faith in the people; grumbling against those above, trembling before those below; selfish towards both fronts and aware of their selfishness; revolutionary in the face of conservatives, and conservative in the face of revolutionists, with no confidence in their own slogans and with phrases instead of ideas; frightened by the world’s storm and exploiting the world’s storm, – vulgar through lack of originality, and original only in vulgarity; making profitable business out of their own desires, with no initiative, with no vocation for world-wide historic work … a cursed senile creature condemned to direct and abuse in his own senile interests the first youthful movements of a powerful people, – a creature with no eyes, with no ears, with no teeth, with nothing whatever, – this is how the Prussian bourgeoisie stood at the steering wheel of the Prussian state after the March revolution.”

These words of the great master give a perfect picture of the Russian liberal bourgeoisie, as it stands at the steering wheel of the government after our March revolution. “With no faith in themselves, with no faith in the people, with no eyes, with no teeth.” … This is their political face.

Luckily for Russia and Europe, there is another face to the Russian Revolution, a genuine face; the cables have brought the news that the Provisional Government is opposed by a Workmen’s Committee which has already raised a voice of protest against the liberal attempt to rob the Revolution and to deliver the people to the monarchy.

Should the Russian Revolution stop to-day as the representatives of liberalism advocate, to-morrow the reaction of the Tzar, the nobility and the bureaucracy would gather power and drive Milyukov and Gutchkov from their insecure ministerial trenches, as did the Prussian reaction years ago with the representatives of Prussian liberalism. But the Russian Revolution will not stop. Time will come, and the Revolution will make a clean sweep of the bourgeois liberals blocking its way, as it is now making a clean sweep of the Tzarism reaction.

Source: Marxists Internet Archive at https://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1918/ourrevo/ch09.htm

The USA Now Has A President That Perfectly Reflects the “Soul” of It’s Demoralized, De-Unionized Heartland

“You can always count on Americans to do the right thing – after they’ve tried everything else.” – Sir Winston Churchill

“Toute nation a le gouvernement qu’elle mérite.”  (Every nation gets the government it deserves.)  – Joseph de Maistre

“This whole election is being rigged. The whole thing is one big fix. One big ugly lie. It’s one big fix.” – Donald Trump

“Even a broken clock tells the correct time twice a day.” – Anonymous

The election of Donald Trump as President of the United States came as a shock to many observers around the world.  Professional political pollsters, particularly, were exposed as the charlatans they are by their wildly inaccurate predictions made through the last weeks of the campaign.  The New York Times, America’s “Newspaper of Record” dropped all pretense of “journalistic objectivity” to campaign furiously for the hideous Democratic Party candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton, turning their newspaper into a de facto arm of the Clinton campaign.

The NY Times and almost all other major bourgeois press outlets railed 24/7 against the equally repulsive Republican candidate, slumlord and swindler of small businessmen and working class college hopefuls Donald Trump, piling up devastating evidence of his contempt for women, handicapped people and immigrants in particular.  In spite of the damning audio recordings and accusations of several women of his misogynist tendencies broadcast on all news media for the final weeks of the campaign, Hillary Clinton was unable to put Trump in her rear-view mirror.  Trump, just a day before the election, still trailed Clinton by just 4 percentage points in the WSJ’s polls.

The pinnacle of pro-Clinton propaganda was reached on November 3 when the magazine “The Atlantic” published an incredible puff piece on Clinton that will stand for all time as one of the most  hilariously fatuous and wildly inaccurate pieces of political journalism ever penned.  Written by Chimamanda Adichie (seemingly while curled up comfortably  in Hillary’s lap), it was entitled “What Hillary Clinton’s Fans Love About Her”:

“We do not see, often enough, the people who love Hillary Clinton, who support her because of her qualifications rather than because of her unqualified opponent, who empathize with her. Yet millions of Americans, women and men, love her intelligence, her industriousness, her grit; they feel loyal to her, they will vote with enthusiasm for her.

“Human beings change as they grow, but a person’s history speaks to who she is. There are millions who admire the tapestry of Hillary Clinton’s past: the first-ever student commencement speaker at Wellesley speaking boldly about making the impossible possible, the Yale law student interested in the rights of migrant farmworkers, the lawyer working with the Children’s Defense Fund, the first lady trying to make health care accessible for all Americans […]

“There are people who love how cleanly she slices through policy layers, how thoroughly she digests the small print […]

“They have confidence in her. There are people who rage at the media on her behalf, who see the coverage she too often receives as unfair. There are people who in a quiet, human way wish her well. There are people who, when Hillary Clinton becomes the first woman to be president of the United States, will weep from joy.

“Hillary Clinton was guilty immediately when she stepped into the view of the American public as the first lady of Arkansas. She was a lawyer full of dreams. She had made sacrifices for the man she loved, waived her plans, and moved to his state. But she also dared to think herself her husband’s equal, to assume herself competent enough to take on expanding access to healthcare and reforming the Arkansas public education system […]”.

“Because she is already considered guilty in a vague and hazy way, there is a longing for her to be demonstrably guilty of something. Other words have been repeated over and over, with no context, until they have begun to breathe and thrum with life. Especially “emails.” The press coverage of “emails” has become an unclear morass where “emails” must mean something terrible, if only because of how often it is invoked.

“The people who love Hillary Clinton know that the IT system at the State Department is old and stodgy, nothing like a Blackberry’s smooth whirl. Hillary Clinton was used to her Blackberry, and wanted to keep using it when she became secretary of state…”

It has to be read to be believed.  How much does it cost to hire someone to write sickening, fawning garbage like that?  How can an editor with any sense at all dare to present such a thing to the public?

The constant stream of evidence of Hillary Clinton’s willing servility towards the US capitalist class brought forth by the WikiLeaks organization was like a firehose of condemnation turned against Clinton for the final month of the campaign.  Hacked emails spirited from her top campaign manager John Podesta’s computers revealed how the Clinton camp’s near-total control of the primary election machinery of the Democratic Party had sabotaged the chimerical Bernie Sanders campaign from day one.  The WikiLeaks document trove also detailed how the Clintonites had conspired to use their agents in the US bourgeois press to build up the weakest of the Republican candidates so as to provide Hillary with the weakest possible opponent from the Republicans’ Augean stable of rotten, greed-driven swine.  Many commentators have awarded the laurel wreath to WikiLeaks for torpedoing the Hillary Clinton campaign with their steady drip of exposures of the criminality of Hillary Clinton and her family’s deeply corrupt Clinton Foundation, awash in barely concealed campaign donations from some of the most reactionary regimes on the planet.  But WikiLeaks’ efforts, though significant, were not responsible for the humiliation Clinton suffered at the sweaty, grasping hands of Donald Trump.

Post-election, the Clintonites desperately sought to lay the blame for their candidate’s stunning defeat at the feet of Dr. Jill Stein of the Green Party and of Gary Johnson of the Libertarians – both of whom did, indeed, to their credit, succeed in taking a great many votes away from the Democrats and the Republicans.  The Democratic apologists’ shrill condemnations of the third parties for having the nerve to actually run candidates for real against their pre-selected winner of the Presidential race demonstrates better than any communist polemic the utter fraud that is the US political system.  Third party candidates, it seems, can exist, but not if they will actually participate in the final vote.  They are supposed to run during the primaries only, in order to give the completely phony US democracy a thin veneer of legitimacy, and then fold up their tents like dutiful and loyal servants of the two “major” “official” political parties of the US.

Donald Trump won a great deal of support from the mostly white, male working class that elected him by blathering about how the US election process is “rigged”.  Here Trump simply pointed out the obvious, while omitting the most important aspect of the rigged nature of the US political system: it is indeed rigged – to benefit people like him.  Wealthy white males have always been at the pinnacle of US politics since the wealthiest man in the young USA – George Washington – ran for president.  Donald Trump stands elected as US President not in spite of the fact that the US elections are rigged but because they are rigged to benefit white men of his social class: the capitalist class.

Hillary Clinton was defeated because she was a monstrous candidate obviously completely in the pockets of the Wall St. bankers and brokers who had paid her millions of dollars for speeches in which she told them exactly what they wanted to hear from a politician running for president.   Clinton lost because she’s a vicious, heartless, murderous, grasping beast who clearly would do anything – a-ny-thing – to become President of the United States.  To raise money for her election as the champion of women all over the world she openly sold herself not just to the US capitalist class but to some of the most disgusting women-hating regimes on the face of the Earth – like Saudi Arabia – for cold, hard cash.  She and her cohorts – whom she praised in her concession speech as representing “the best” the US has to offer – conspired to deny millions of Democratic Party voters the right to fully participate in the Democratic primary when her campaign deliberately and calculatedly plotted to destroy the candidacy of fellow Democrat Bernie Sanders.  The contempt of her co-conspirators for fair play in a political contest between loyal Democratic Party flacks was so boundless that she left nothing to chance in elbowing her way to the Democratic nomination, even to the extent of having her agents in the news media obtain debate questions in advance of the phony “debates” between herself and Sanders.

Hillary Rodham Clinton lost because she was a far less convincing liar than the real estate huckster Donald Trump.  The only people she told the truth to were the 1-percenters who run the USA and whose money and support she needed to obtain in order to become their anointed presidential candidate in 2016.  For a couple hundred thousand dollars a pop, she made speech after speech to the kings of Wall St., promising them in no uncertain terms that if they backed her they’d be running the tables in Washington for yet another four years.

WikiLeaks provided us with all of the damning evidence of the contents of Hillary Clinton’s highly-paid speaking tours of the halls of actual political power in the US’ phony democracy – which Clinton herself wisely refused to release to the public.  In a speech given to the Goldman Sachs AIMS Alternative Investments Symposium on 24 October 2013 Hillary told her sponsors: “It’s still happening, as you know. People are looking back and trying to, you know, get compensation for bad mortgages and all the rest of it in some of the agreements that are being reached. There’s nothing magic about regulations, too much is bad, too little is bad. How do you get to the golden key, how do we figure out what works? And the people that know the industry better than anybody are the people who work in the industry.” In other words, if anything is wrong with Wall St., it should be the Wall St. insiders who decide how to fix it, she sang to her paying audience of top capitalists.  To Clinton, the millions who make up the US working class are nothing but an ignorant herd of meddling outsiders.

The more Hillary Clinton appeared in public, the more convinced prospective voters became convinced of her vast insincerity in espousing her fake concern for the plight of working-class families in the US struggling to keep a roof over their families’ heads.  No one believed a thing she said; no one was convinced that she had any other motive for becoming President other than pure egotistical self-aggrandizement and of course to stuff her and her family’s pockets with money by doing favors for everyone who had bankrolled her campaign, from Goldman Sachs to the government of Saudi Arabia.  Hillary Clinton seemed to represent everyone EXCEPT the vast working class majority that makes up the citizenry of every capitalist nation-state including the “classless” “egalitarian” USA.

Hillary Clinton’s pretense of being the #1 champion of women’s rights simply by becoming the first female president of the United States was exposed for the fraud it was by the WikiLeaks revelations that the Clinton Foundation had received millions of dollars from reactionary woman-hating regimes throughout the Muslim world, like Saudi Arabia, whose government she made sure was showered with military supplies used to support the even more reactionary and anti-woman cretins of ISIL/ISIS when she was Secretary of State.  Hillary was never a champion of anyone other than Hillary.  Electing Hillary Rodham Clinton President would have done no more to advance the cause of women than did the election of the Afghan-mullah-loving Margaret Thatcher.  No intelligent person in the world doubts that a woman can run a major modern nation-state.  The United States lost its chance to be the first to have a female head of state decades ago.  Hillary Clinton would have been as big a disaster for the advancement of women’s rights as President as she was as Secretary of State.

Paradoxically, it seems to many, the workers of the US – primarily white males but also a surprising number of white women and a large percentage of US Hispanics and even black workers – were convinced that the bombastic, racist, neofascist huckster real estate swindler Donald Trump was the candidate that truly represented their best interests.  This may seem paradoxical but in reality there is no paradox.  In Donald Trump a large percentage of the US working class finds a mirror image of their racist, greedy, narcissistic selves.  After decades of attacks on the workers’ movement that has driven millions of workers out of the trade unions, the entire concept of the superiority of collective struggle of the working class has been subsumed under a tidal wave of capitalist propaganda and a brutal driving down of wages and benefits for the working class of the USA.  This conscious destruction of the workers’ movement by the US capitalist class and their criminal co-conspirators in the AFL-CIO hierarchy has led to a complete collapse of working class solidarity and its replacement by a “look out for #1” mentality that apes the self-aggrandizing, selfish Ayn Rand-inspired Libertarian ideology of increasing numbers of the capitalist class themselves.  The corruption of the bourgeoisie and their systematic corruption of the bribed trade union bureaucracy that has hamstrung every attempt by the working class at successful collective struggle to defend workers interests over the past 40 years has led inexorably to the corruption of the morals of the working class itself.  “Fuck the next guy – I’m going to get mine first” has become the “philosophy” of a large percentage of the US working class; and so they have ditched the idea of collective struggle through trade union organization and have raised up on their shoulders the hideous caricature of  the “self-made man”: Donald Trump, a billionaire born with a golden spoon in his mouth who never gave a shit about the working class in his entire disgusting money-grubbing life.

Donald Trump perfectly reflects the moral bankruptcy of the US ruling capitalist class in general as well as a similar degeneracy that has mushroomed among a large and growing section of the increasingly desperate and demoralized US working class that has seen its standard of living steadily hammered down year after brutal year since the late 1960s.  With trade union membership in steady decline, the working class has become imbued with the corrupt Libertarian philosophy of the capitalist class that sees poor people as “freeloaders” and unionized workers as “overpaid” and pampered privileged parasites on the national economy.  “Selfishness is the highest virtue” taught the cheap Hollywood screenwriter Ayn Rand; this vicious “philosophy” is at the root of supposedly “egalitarian” Libertarian politics, and has been embraced and proselytized by millions of desperate workers.  Unionized  nurses, teachers and city workers and poor people of every race – but particularly blacks and immigrants –  have become the enemy of the massively non- and even anti-union US working class, egged on by bought-and-paid-for pro-capitalist demagogues from Ronald Reagan to Bill Clinton to Donald Trump.  The US capitalist class and their news media outlets have convinced a large majority of the demoralized US working class that it is not the billionaire capitalist who is the source of the workers’ misery, but the immigrant worker crossing the Mexican border to try to make a decent living for his or her family.  It is not the swindling bankers who have robbed the workers of their income but the black workers on welfare who are doing it.  Never mind that all economic data proves that none of these racist lies are true.  This racist propaganda, spewed by Republican and Democratic politicians and by the US news media for decades has done its nefarious work.  Now we have begun to see the emergence of the fascist scum from the margins of US society starting to become emboldened by hearing their racist ideology parroted by “mainstream” politicians like Trump and seeing their racist “solutions” to the “immigrant problem” put into practice by the Democratic Obama Administration.

This 2016 US Presidential election shows to us that the US working class, in its present disorganized and demoralized state, with no revolutionary socialist leadership to speak of, with the trade union movement in free-fall and supporting the same anti-immigrant proposals as the racists, stands ready to fall victim to fascism in all its savagery.  Prepared by two decades of nearly non-stop war against Middle Eastern and Asian countries with large Muslim populations, the US working class has in large numbers become utterly intolerant of Muslims – who make up nearly a third of the world’s population.  Driven to a mad fury by the neofascist slogans “Make America Great Again” and a fulsome hatred of immigrants not seen in the USA since the days of the “Know-Nothings” the USA looks to us in 2016 like Germany circa 1938.  Millions of US workers have degenerated morally into vicious, greedy, racist and desperate thugs who don’t give a shit HOW MANY people the US military slaughters so long as the price of gasoline stays below $5 a gallon.  Trump’s election isn’t an aberration: it’s the culmination of decades of attacks on the working class and minorities by the Republicans; and even more so by the “friends of labor” Democrats like Bill and Hillary Clinton, whose racist program to “end welfare as we know it” and whose “truth in sentencing” laws fostered decades of brutalization and victimization of black and Hispanic workers.  Seeing no way out of the “hope”-less and “change”-less blind alley into which the Democrats under Barack Obama have led them, and seeing the promising futures and those of their children and grandchildren melt away as their wages and benefits decline, the white working class is embracing neofascist ideology and striking out on the road towards an American Fascism that could well lead inexorably – and rapidly – towards World War Three.  The only way to prevent this descent of the US into the very same abyss that destroyed Germany in just 12 years of unparalleled savagery is for the working class to be won over to the program of revolutionary Trotskyism which alone can overthrow the racist, exploitative capitalist system and to replace it with an egalitarian working class socialist republic.  Only a party such as this can organize the working class to effectively smash the growing fascist menace being unleashed by the US capitalist class, hell-bent on global domination.  This is the kind of political party we hope to build in the coming years right here in the belly of the U.S. imperialist beast.

If that section of the US working class that continues to fight for the rights of immigrants and minorities does not immediately stop tilting at the windmills of impotent “speaking truth to power” and begin to organize a fight to take power directly into the hands of the working class itself, fascism will soon triumph in the USA.  Only a powerful working class force like the communist movement proved capable of effectively fighting fascism in the 1920s and 1930s.  It was the communist-led Resistance movements of Europe that led the opposition to fascism during Hitler’s bloody reign of terror; it was the USSR that finally crushed the “Thousand-Year Reich” and that drove Hitler and his inner circle to suicide in their hole in the ground in Berlin.  It was the heroic communists of Asia – particularly China and Korea – who led the victory over Japanese fascism and, immediately afterward, to new victories over world capitalism and US imperialism.  Those heroic communist movements were successful in spite of the crippling effects of their Stalinist and Maoist bureaucratic leaderships which usurped political power from the working class and led their revolutions into nationalist dead ends from which they still haven’t escaped.  A new Trotskyist movement in the USA is the only hope the working class has of creating a militant and positively creative force that can unite workers of all races, creeds and ethnic backgrounds into a revolutionary force that can crush any and all fascist opposition and lead a truly egalitarian revolutionary workers movement like the one led by Lenin and his Bolsheviks after WWI.  “The capitalist system must die so that the working class may live” is our slogan.  “The capitalist system must die so that fascism can never rise again” must be the principle upon which the now decrepit US workers movement rallies itself around in a massive fight to restore the power of the communist-led US workers movement of the 1930s.  Failure to achieve these goals will lead to the triumph of fascism in the USA and ultimately to the total destruction of the US by the combined forces of the entire world, which will unite to smash US fascism just as they smashed the fascism of the German, Italian and Japanese Nazis in the ’40s.

Time is running out for the US working class to organize itself and turn the direction of the US around into the direction of workers socialist revolution.  Join with us to build a socialist future for the workers of the world through the overthrow of a capitalist system that threatens to plunge the planet into a war that will kill tens or even hundreds of millions of workers and that could damage the planet beyond repair.  The victory of Donald Trump is a clarion call to all workers in the USA to begin immediately to take up the tremendous tasks that face the US working class to build the revolutionary workers party that will lead the American Socialist Revolution in the USA , throughout the Americas and around the world.

Workers of the World, Unite!

Independent Workers Party of Chicago

Anti-Trump Protest in Chicago and The Limitations of Spontaneous Expressions of Working-Class Outrage

The Independent Workers Party of Chicago – which, sadly, like most revolutionary socialist political parties in Chicago, was not at this historic event – salutes all of those who took part in the anti-Trump protest at UIC! It was a fine act of working-class self-defense against the openly racist provocation represented by the repulsive Donald Trump candidacy. Congratulations to you all! We demand that all charges be dropped against all of the anti-Trump protestors arrested (by the racist Democratic-Party-run Chicago Police Department) at the rally! But it is our duty as revolutionary Trotskyists to tell you that it will take a far more organized and politically conscious movement of the working-class youth to put and end to the capitalist system responsible for the emergence of racist excrescences like the Trump campaign.

The racism and scapegoating of immigrants for the failures of the capitalist system to provide basic human needs for workers – hallmarks of the Trump, and to only a lesser degree, all of the other pro-capitalist candidates’ campaigns in both parties – is one of the fundamental elements of the capitalist system. Nationalism, racism, sexism and religious bigotry are used very slyly by the capitalist class to stay in power by keeping the working class divided along those very national, racial, sexual, ethnic and religious lines. A working class divided along all those lines is so much easier for the capitalists to conquer! By succumbing to the lies of the capitalists and their political attack dogs that “immigrants are stealing your jobs” and that people of different religious faiths or sexualities pose a “threat” to “our way of life” the deluded members of the working class enable their capitalist masters to prevent effective union organizing among workers, thereby keeping wages and benefits down and their profits up. Nationalism, racism, sexism and religious bigotry are deadly poisons force-fed to the working class by the capitalist class through the agency of the pro-capitalist media, politicians, union misleaders and “criminal justice” system. It is the duty of every decent worker to fight nationalism, racism, sexism and religious bigotry with every ounce of strength he or she possesses!

The fact is that none of these evils can be extinguished in society until the capitalist system itself is overthrown and replaced by a revolutionary socialist workers republic. Until workers come to consciously understand this fundamental teaching of revolutionary Marxism, their protests will amount to little more than short-term and partial periodic victories over the more racist elements of the working class organized and led by the capitalist class. Racism will not die by “natural causes” or by moral suasion; it must be deprived of its medium of growth, which is the unequal distribution of wealth that makes up the very poor social soil of the capitalist system. And this deeper understanding of the true source of racism will not “arise spontaneously” in your mind; you need to actually study Marxism to fully comprehend this reality, which is hidden from you by the propaganda produced by the capitalist class in order to justify their class rule.

That racism must be fought is something that the vast majority of US workers – especially those black, Hispanic and religious minority workers who make up the population of most US cities like Chicago and who are the intended victims of the racists and fascists – understand; but only in a general way. This generalized understanding is good enough to provide the impetus for spontaneous demonstrations of outrage against attempts to hold racist and anti-immigrant political rallies like the one we witnessed here in Chicago last week. Trump’s bold and foolish attempt to hold one of his “Klan-lite” rallies in the midst of a stronghold of one of the most racially integrated unionized working class areas in the USA was effectively spiked by the largely spontaneous and wholly justified action of working-class and student youth (with African-American and Hispanic youth taking their role in the vanguard). Chicago, like most major US cities is a “majority-‘minority’” town, where about 70% of the population is black or Hispanic. Chicago is also a stronghold of the US union movement, boasting one of the highest percentages of unionized workers in the USA. For these reasons it was a relative no-brainer for students at the University of Illinois-Chicago and working-class youth living in the black and Hispanic neighborhoods that ring the UIC campus to “spontaneously organize” a massive protest that overwhelmed Trump’s security daisy-chain at his rally.

There are many who will claim that this “spontaneous” anti-Trump rally “proves” that the working class do not need to be led by a revolutionary socialist Leninist vanguard party. But they are just using the “common sense” inculcated in them by the capitalist system – and so they end up being “spontaneously” wrong!

One of the most important lessons taught by Lenin, the great organizer and leader of the Russian Revolution of 1917, is that “revolutionary consciousness does not ‘arise spontaneously’ in the minds of the workers”; it must be brought to them via the agency of trained, professional Marxist revolutionaries.

Now when you first read this, you might well think that it is an absurd statement; but we can assure you that it is no more absurd than it is to say: “the consciousness of a chemist” or “the consciousness of a physicist”, or doctor or any other profession “does not arise spontaneously” in the minds of anyone – no matter how much they would like to become a doctor, physicist or anything else. If you want to become a medical scientist, you must study medical science first – no one “spontaneously” becomes a doctor after years of merely “wishing” to be one! Likewise, in political science, in order to become a professional revolutionary Marxist, you need to first study revolutionary (not reformist) Marxism, under the tutelage of revolutionary Marxists. And for that you need to teachers of Marxist political science.

Spontaneous uprisings of the workers such as the anti-Trump rally, though commendable, are not even capable of ending the candidacy of Donald Trump; and they can not put to eternal rest the forces of fascism. The overthrow of capitalism worldwide must be achieved before the final struggle to destroy racist ideology can even BEGIN! And in order to overthrow the highly organized and professionally-led US capitalist class, it’s economic system, its cops, courts and military – the working class needs something far more powerful than a spontaneous uprising. Only a well-organized and professionally led political party of CONSCIOUS revolutionaries who know precisely WHAT social forces they are fighting and what social forces are their allies – and who are armed with a well-thought-out revolutionary socialist political program agreed upon before the revolution begins – can hope to lead the workers to the final victory over the forces of capital. Any political “leader” who pretends that an elemental mass spontaneous upsurge of the working class will suffice to overthrow the professional, experienced and organized forces of a capitalist class that has more than 300 years of experience wielding state power all over the world… any political leader who makes such a claim can only lead the working class to a very bloody defeat.

So young worker: you have read this far and are still not convinced that we are speaking the truth? That’s fair enough. We assure you that we are not just blowing smoke; we have the past 300 years of history backing up our assertion. Revolutionary Marxists study history in order to understand the evolution of human society; we study the long history of workers revolutionary struggles that have taken place all over the world. And these studies have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that the only workers revolutions that have ever succeeded were ALL led by a revolutionary Leninist vanguard party like the one we are organizing. It’s just that simple! A modern revolutionary socialist party – which is to say, scientifically, a Marxist/Leninist/TROTSKYIST party – is what we must build if we want to overthrow capitalism and replace it with an egalitarian workers socialist republic in which racists and racism are not allowed to organize political parties or to promulgate their unscientific and abhorrent doctrines at all.

Every successful workers revolution in the 20th century was led by a Leninist vanguard party: in Russia in 1917, China, North Korea, Cuba and Vietnam – ALL were led by Leninist vanguard parties! Anyone who tells you that they “hate” Leninist vanguard parties is telling you, in essence that they “hate” the very idea of actual workers revolution! They aren’t saying it in so many words, because that would drive you away from them. But it is fully implied in their hatred for and intransigent opposition to any attempt to organize the only kind of political party that has EVER succeeded in leading the working class and peasantry to a victory over the capitalist class! Once you join our party, as part of your Trotskyist education you will learn how to “hear” what politicians do NOT say as well as you hear what they DO say!

The history of the workers revolutions of the 20th century also show us that the revolutionary forces of the working class are most effective when they are concentrated into as few a number of organizations as possible – especially during the revolutionary overthrow itself. The same effect is seen on the capitalist side in a time of revolution: all the pro-capitalist parties suddenly jettison their “democratic” masks and appear as an armed unified military force against the rising working class. Only an extremely well-organized revolutionary workers party can stand up to such a force: the Leninist Vanguard parties in the tiny countries of North Korea and Vietnam lost 3 MILLION workers – EACH! during their revolutionary struggles – and were still able to emerge victorious over the forces of the most powerful, ruthless and bloodthirsty capitalist class in the world: the US capitalist class! THAT is the kind of solid and resilient organization necessary; there’s nothing at all “spontaneous” about the organization of a successful workers revolution! So you can see that we are not making things up when we say that the need for the workers of the USA to immediately begin the process of the creation of such a party is the single most important task that lies ahead of you and your fellow workers!

In so far as the anti-Trump rally WAS “organized”, it was done by groups – like “Black Lives Matter” and “BYP100” – whose leadership is intensely loyal to the racist, anti-immigrant Democratic Party. These “leaders” to put it simply, have absolutely NO INTENTION of ever leading a revolutionary socialist vanguard party to overthrow capitalism, because they are PRO-CAPITALIST and believe that racism can be successfully fought via legal reforms. The problem with their theory is that people have been trying to fight racism in the USA “through the system” for 300 years; and though major gains have been made that way, the pace of reform remains excruciatingly slow and prone to periodic backsliding. Martin Luther King would be very dismayed at seeing that his Democratic Party is still leading racist police forces all over the USA that are gunning down people of color as if they were dogs. The reformists leading “Black Lives Matter” and other reformist anti-police brutality organizations who wish merely to “settle” for incremental reforms are telling you that they are “OK” with an occasional racist atrocity carried out by the police. Are YOU “OK” with that? WE AREN’T!

None of the single-issue reformist organizations “fighting” police brutality in the US are actively opposed to the future existence of the capitalist system which CREATES AND ENFORCES the racist status quo in the first place! What good is a doctor that prescribes mere pain killers for a dying patient when the CURE for the disease exists and is readily available? Any political “prescription” for fighting racism that does not include the overthrow of the capitalist system is a “prescription” for a life filled with pain and agony, followed, perhaps by death at the hands of the fascists! We oppose such doctors and their prescriptions! We don’t want to keep the racist capitalist system alive for even one more day, because we KNOW what that will mean: MORE DEAD BLACK AND HISPANIC YOUTHS SHOT DOWN ON OUR STREETS BY THE RACIST KILLER KOPS OF KAPITALISM! Go ahead and call us “unreasonable” and “extreme”! We will not compromise where the very lives of our working class sisters and brothers are at stake!

So if you would like to actually “cure” racism once and for all but putting a stop to the capitalist system that spawns it instead of keeping racism and capitalism alive so they can kill again and again, you should contact us! Check us out and give serious consideration to becoming a revolutionary Trotskyist worker-leader. We’re ready when you are; until you make this decision nothing will change.

Workers of the World, Unite!

IWPCHI

How a Former “Stupid Worker-sheep” (the author) Became a Revolutionary Socialist Worker

US Household Debt to GDP, 1952-2015. Source: TradingEconomics.com

US Household Debt to GDP, 1952-2015.   Source: TradingEconomics.com

We expect to receive quite a bit of criticism for our recent article’s characterization – honest and, we believe, truthful as it is – of the US working class as an enormous herd of stupid-ass wage-slaves. Yet we strongly believe that there is really no other way to describe this cowardly U.S. herd of worker-sheep, 200 million weak, that has allowed one of the most despotic and murderous ruling classes in the history of the world to rule over them, shearing them at will, while simultaneously robbing, torturing and murdering the rest of the human race.

We must point out that we always admit that – apart from those of us in the Trotskyist movement (and the revolutionary socialist movement in general) who were lucky enough to have had parents who were themselves revolutionary workers – all of us were dumbass wage-slaves in our political youth. That includes the writer of this article! No worker who was not born into a family of revolutionary socialists can be said to have been a revolutionary from day one. And all of us who were not “red-diaper babies” started off as dumb wage-slaves, but at some point in our lives, we either realized or had some revolutionary socialist point out to us just how goddamned ignorant and stupid we were. Unlike the herds of worker sheep, we decided that we did not want to remain an ignorant worker-sheep, we wanted an education in the history of the long struggle of our worker-ancestors to free our class from the chains of exploitation.

US Personal Income, 1959-2015. Source: TradingEconomics.com

US Personal Income, 1959-2015.   Source: TradingEconomics.com

Wisdom begins when a person first acknowledges his or her own vast ignorance and then determines to do all she or he can to eradicate that condition through a determined study of history, science, and politics. No one can even begin to become wise until he or she admits honestly to themselves just how ignorant they truly are. Ignorance, fortunately, is 100% curable through education. This is why we take the time to write articles about modern revolutionary socialism – Trotskyism. We have tremendous faith in the potential of the now-slavish US working class to snap itself out of its self-imposed state of apathy and ignorance, throw off its chains of servitude and begin to tread the road to becoming revolutionary socialist worker-heroes. If we didn’t believe that this transformation was possible, we wouldn’t be Trotskyists.

Communist revolutionaries do not come down to Earth in spaceships or miraculously descend from heaven riding rainbow-colored unicorns. We were – most of us – born to working-class parents who worked all their lives as stupid wage-slaves, inculcating in us faith in the capitalist system and the phony democracy of the United States. We, like you, were brainwashed to salute the flag, say the Pledge of Allegiance and respect the police and the government as our protectors – all the bullshit that is driven into the skulls of the children in every capitalist nation-state by every wage-slave parent in the capitalist world.

US Wage and Salary Growth, 1960-2015 Source: TradingEconomics.com

US Wage and Salary “Growth”, 1960-2015.   Source: TradingEconomics.com

Going into high school we were completely ignorant of even the simple fact that we lived in a capitalist world! We knew nothing of what capitalism was, and had no idea that we were members of a “working class” fated to spend our lives as wage-slaves working to make a tiny, ruling capitalist class wealthier every hour we worked. No one is more stupid than we were in those days; no one more ignorant. But having never met a revolutionary socialist worker, how could we have been anything but stupid?

It wasn’t until we started meeting well-educated professionals of the middle class – college professors at Harvard Business School; physicists who worked on the Manhattan Project, for example, and well-educated communist youth our own age – that we came to fully realize how bad our own public-school education was compared to what these people had experienced. They knew all about subjects of vital importance to the survival of the human race of which we knew almost nothing! It was only then, by realizing how very dumb WE were that we were able to begin our lifelong effort to remove what we now realized was our own shameful and embarassing state of ignorance. That sudden self-consciousness of our own vast ignorance was our first step on the road to enlightenment; our education has never ceased from that day to this and it never will. No matter how hard we work, no matter how much we read, we will never know everything there is to know about the world. That acute consciousness of our own ignorance continually impels us to keep studying and working to obtain an education comprehensive enough to be of value to you, our working-class sisters and brothers, in the struggle to free us all from the horrors of the capitalist system: its endemic poverty, homelessness, racism and endless war that profits the few at the expense of billions of workers.

US Personal Savings Rate, 1959-2015 Source: TradingEconomics.com

US Personal Savings Rate, 1959-2015.   Source: TradingEconomics.com

The political and economic system which we all live under here in the US – capitalist bourgeois democracy – can best be described as a perfected system for robbing the huge US working class blind for the benefit of the tiny US capitalist class. We came to this understanding through the study of Marxism, which alone teaches workers not only that they can fight successfuly against this brutal wage-slavery system, but can overthrow it and replace it with a far more fair and democratic society under a scientifically planned socialist economy.

Wage-slaves who have never studied Marxism spend their entire lives fighting to survive in a world they only dimly understand. Economic crises leading to unemployment, wars, crime – all these things seem to them to be acts of a cruel fate that no one understands and that no one has – or can have – control over. But the ruling capitalist class has been taught to think differently, because they and their families have been, in most cases, the power behind the US presidency since the end of the American Revolution. The capitalist ruling class IS largely in control of their own fate and have learned precisely what they have to do, through centuries of trial and error, to keep the worker-sheep just barely happy enough to not rise up in revolt against their systematic exploitation by the capitalists. By carefully mis-educating “their” worker-sheep through the school system and mass media, the capitalist class teaches their victims to believe that the capitalist system is “the best of all possible worlds” and that resistance to it is futile.

The communists on the other hand, teach us the opposite: that capitalism is a fundamentally exploitative system designed to continually rob the workers from cradle to grave for the benefit of – in the case of the “egalitarian” USA – 3% of the population. Capitalism is NOT “the best of all possible worlds” – it is merely the latest stage of development in the long history of class struggle between workers and their exploiters. The communists point out the absurdity of the capitalists lie that they preside over a democracy. What kind of democracy is it that diverts 90% of the nation’s wealth to just 10% of the citizenry and forces what the capitalist class so charmingly calls “the bottom 90%” to divide among themselves a mere 25% of the national wealth? There is absolutely nothing even remotely “democratic” about such a system!

When we were still stupid wage-slaves, the Trotskyists confronted us with the fact that the world was on the brink of a nuclear WWIII. If this war was to occur it was possible, the “commies” told us, that the global destruction of the nation states of the world would be so comprehensive that the human race would be driven back into the stone age! Understandably, this got even our attention; and when we began to look into the issue we found that not only were the “reds” telling us the truth, but we found that the Pentagon believed that it could “win” a nuclear war! On a radio station one day we heard an interview with the then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The interviewer, discussing the Reagan Administration’s belligerent talk about military confrontation with the USSR, made the then-common remark to him that “of course, nuclear war is unthinkable”. The general replied: “I get paid to think otherwise”. This made a deep impression; up to that point we had been taught to believe that our wise political and military leaders would NEVER dream of leading us into a nuclear war. It was subsequently revealed that US military planners during the Reagan era believed that the US could “bounce back” from a full-scale nuclear war with the USSR so long as no more than around 60% of the US population was killed! This information led to the realization that it was literally a matter of life and death to start studying world politics as soon as possible. This kind of “revelation” – so plentiful in those years of Reaganite insanity is what spurred on our transition from stupid wage-slaves to revolutionary socialist workers.

The transition we experienced from stupid wage-slaves to revolutionary workers was on the level of the famous scene in “Wizard of Oz” where the film changes from black and white to Technicolor. Suddenly we were made aware of our working class place in the world; that having been born into working-class families we were literally born one one side of a class line; on the other side of that line were the greedy, tiny capitalist class and their cops, courts, jails, news media and military, prepared to break us down as soon as we were old enough to enter the workforce from rebellious youth to obedient worker-sheep. The study of Marxist dialectics provided us with the tools we needed to analyze the world we lived in and to measure, quite accurately, the class orientation of any political party or carefully disguised messages in capitalist propaganda; it enabled us to see clearly who were the true allies of the working class and who were our mortal enemies. That Marxist toobox we were given by our revolutionary socialist teachers alone is a gift so powerful that we would not part with it for anything; it cuts through all the capitalists’ bullshit that constantly baffles, confuses and misleads every worker-sheep who believes he or she has no “need” for Marxism. Without Marxism a worker-sheep is just a lamb unknowingly making a journey through the slaughterhouse of capitalism.

Marxism is not a philosophy based on lies; it is a philosophy based on political science in which the “science” part is taken very seriously. Marxism is based on a careful study of the long history of the struggles of the workers and peasants of the world to free themselves of a system of slavery and exploitation. Marxism, you are told – by the capitalists who hate it because it would take away their money and power and give it to you – is a load of lies and propaganda. In fact the opposite is true; revolutionary Marxism is the honest study of how the working class can free itself from a future of racism, war, exploitation and misery at the hands of the capitalist class and its state. The most honest people who ever lived were the best Marxist theoreticians: Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky; yet the capitalists tell you that their writings are full of lies and deceit. In fact, we can confidently tell you in all honesty that you will search in vain in the writings of Marx, Engels Lenin and Trotsky for any hint of an attempt to decieve the workers. Their chief principle was: “NEVER LIE TO THE WORKERS”. They kept that promise; after 30 years of reading their works we have been unable to find even one instance of them ever consciously attempting to “trick” or lie to anyone. There is absolutely nothing for you to fear from studying the works of these great working-class leaders; neglecting to read their most important works robs you of any chance you have of ever fully understanding the world you live in.

Ah, the life of a 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.

Ah, the life of a 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.

Ignorance may be bliss; but its results are anything but blissful. To blindly fight against forces you don’t understand; to count your mortal enemies (like the police, or the Democrats) as your friends; to believe the lies taught to you by those who are systematically robbing you; this is the fate of the uneducated worker-sheep who thinks that Marxism is a waste of his or her time. An ignorant worker-sheep won’t even know how fucked it is until it is in the slaughterhouse chute heading towards the capitalist at the end of the line wielding a stun gun and a razor-sharp knife.

Until we came to realize how ignorant we were and took steps to do something to cure our ignorance we remained stupid wage-slaves. You will not obtain a revolutionary Marxist education by watching the entertainment products produced by your capitalist masters which are designed to confuse and mislead you. You will not find trustworthy political leaders in the parties that are owned and operated by your capitalist masters, either. If you want to know how to avoid your inevitable date with the capitalist with the stun gun and knife, young sheep, you have only one way to go: start studying revolutionary Marxism today! It will open your eyes to the reality of the life of a worker-sheep in a capitalist nation-state. The writings of the great revolutionary Marxists are some of the greatest achievements of human thought ever produced, and we’re not just saying that because we’re socialists; these were brilliant men and women who dedicated their lives to fighting for the rights of the working class. Their writings are of such inestimable valuable to any worker who wants to not just understand the world but to change it for the better that it is impossible to exaggerate their worth.

How ignorant is the average worker-sheep of the USA? So ignorant that the vast majority don’t even consider themselves to be members of the “working class”; they all think that because they have signed up to be whores for a banker-pimp through the mortgage loans they’ve taken on, that makes them “middle class”! They think that the police are here to “serve and protect” the worker-sheep! They think that the capitalist state is a “neutral arbiter” of disputes between the worker-sheep and the capitalists with sledgehammers! They think that the Democratic or Republican parties – both of which are owned and operated by the capitalist class – are their political allies! They think that they “don’t need” to create a true working class party to represent them at the local, state, and national level – the parties bought-and-paid-for by their capitalist enemies are good enough for them! They think that the US military is “defending” them by murdering their working-class brothers and sisters all over the world! THAT’S how dumb the average US worker-sheep is! The revolutionary socialist workers – thanks to their Marxist education – KNOW all of these things are monstrous lies.

Only a truly stupid person would choose for themselves and their children lives as “worker-sheep” instead of a life as a revolutionary socialist worker who fights to free the working class from a life of wage-slavery. That is what we mean when we say that there are two kinds of workers in the world: stupid worker-sheep and revolutionary socialist workers. Which do you want to be?

US Corporate Profits, 1950-2015 Source:TradingEconomics.com

US Corporate Profits, 1950-2015.   Source:TradingEconomics.com

Here is a short list of articles and pamphlets by some of the greatest working-class leaders in world history that you NEED to read if you want to no longer count yourself among the ignorant and/or stupid wage-slave worker-sheep.

Don’t be embarassed if you have to read this stuff a couple of times before you “get it”. This is so far from the lying capitalist propaganda you’ve been accustomed to reading that it may prove to be difficult to fully grasp the first time around. We’ve read these things multiple times and have found that we learn some new detail every time we re-read them. Revolutionary Marxism is a scientific discipline which, like all scientific disciplines, requires study; it’s a combination of work and pleasure. It’s thoroughly rational but, like algebra or physics, it’s not “common sense”; some of it is quite counter-intuitive. A determined slow-to-average reader can read all of these pamphlets, at their leisure, in no more than a couple of weeks. These links will take you to the Marxists.org website where you can read them all – for free!

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels: The Communist Manifesto

Leon Trotsky:  Ninety Years of the Communist Manifesto

Karl Marx:   Value, Price and Profit

Vladimir Lenin:  The State

Lenin:  The State and Revolution

Rosa Luxemburg:  Reform or Revolution

Engels:  The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State

Conversation with a Young US Student Considering Becoming a Wage-slaving “Whore” for a Banker-pimp

Ah, the life of a 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.

Ah, the life of a wage slave is not pleasant once you know how badly you’re getting screwed by your capitalist “friends”.   Having difficulty understanding this graph, young wage slave?  If so you are indeed stupid.  Recent Trends in WEALTH Distribution in USA, 1989-2013. Source: Federal Reserve Bulletin – Changes in US Family Finances 2010 -2013:_Survey of Consumer Finances_scf14

There are two kinds of workers in the working class in the capitalist world: wage-slaves and communist revolutionaries. Which are you?

This question is of some importance to the future – if there is to be a future – of the United States of America.  Unless the wage-slaves of the United States pull their heads out of their asses, become worker-revolutionaries and overthrow the US capitalist class that is hell-bent on murdering workers all over the world in pursuit of profits, the world will soon be forced to do to the United States what the world did to Hitler’s Germany in 1945. When we say “Capitalism Must Die so the Working Class May Live” we mean it. There is – literally – NO FUTURE for the working class under the capitalist system! We either overthrow capitalism or we’re all going to be shadows on a wall someday – sooner than most people think.

In case you forgot what the world had to do to kick the ass of the last gang of capitalist criminals that tried to rule the world by force, here’s a photo of just one city in Germany at the end of World War II: Cologne.

Cologne's cathedral stands undamaged in a sea of total destruction, 24 April 1945. This is what USA's big cities will look like if US capitalist class force world to put an end to its reign of terror. Source: U.S. Signal Corps; U.S. National Archives.

Cologne’s cathedral stands undamaged in a sea of total destruction, 24 April 1945. This is what USA’s big cities will look like – except that not even the cathedrals will be spared –  if US capitalist class forces the world to put an end to the US’ reign of terror the way Hitler’s Nazi capitalist regime was finally put down. Source: U.S. Signal Corps; U.S. National Archives.

Beautiful, isn’t it? If you think this can’t happen to the United States of America(TM), “The World’s Only Superpower(TM)”, we’re here to tell you: you’re wrong. If you think that the US capitalist class – your masters, representing less than 0.45% of the world’s population – have the “right” to run the entire planet as if it was their own lemonade stand… in the name of “Freedom(TM)” and “Democracy(TM)”, of course! – and can pull that off for any length of time – you’re even dumber than we think.  Fortunately for you and for the whole world, your ignorance is 100% curable. You’d better get started on your cure before it’s too late. Time is not on the side of the working class. You’ve let the capitalists run the tables for far too long, and the window of opportunity for you to take power out of their hands is rapidly closing.

In the interest of waking you, the US working class from your self-perpetuated ignorance and capitalist mass-media-induced apathy, we present the following political equivalent of a slap upside the head. Enjoy! And show it to your fellow dumb-ass wage-slaves!

*********

Freedom. Hah! “The Land of the Free(TM)”! Ha ha! This capitalist USA isn’t the “land of the free” it’s the land of the stupid-ass wage-slaves.

You don’t think you’re stupid, young wage-slave? That figures! You’re so dumb you don’t even KNOW you’re a wage slave living in a capitalist country! There’s a 50% chance that you believe that shameless Wall St. sock puppet Barack Obama is a socialist! You think you’re “free”, too, don’t you? Well here’s a news flash for you: you ARE stupid; you live in a capitalist country; Obama’s NOT a socialist; and you’re not free. Got that? The hell you do!

The stupid wage-slave workers of the USA don’t have any idea what “freedom” is, and there is more than a little bit of evidence proving that if there is such a thing as “freedom”, the vast majority of the 200 million active US wage-slaves don’t want to have anything to do with it. As soon as they leave high school – in many cases even before – the vast majority of them do everything possible to strip themselves of what little “freedom” they will ever possess, gleefully wrapping themselves in chains they’ll have to drag for the rest of their lives by taking on college tuition loans, home and car loans and by starting families at a young age. Doing even just one of these things – not to mention doing all of them at once as so many stupid young US wage-slaves do in this horrendous capitalist nation-state of the USA – is fatal to the pursuit of individual freedom. Apparently, for most workers, this is the easiest route and one they feel most comfortable taking, because it relieves them of any ability or necessity of making any real choices as to how they will live out their lives. Like their wage-slave, slave and peasant ancestors going back thousands of generations, they prefer the chains of slavery to the frightening unpredictability and terrifying responsibility of actual freedom. That’s why wage-slaves are so common, and communist revolutionaries are so few.

Calling the United States of America the “Land of the Free(TM)” is one of the sickest jokes ever played on a dull-witted public. And here’s another news flash for you stupid wage-slaves of the United Snakes of America: there is no nation of Earth with wage-slaves as dumb as you are!  Every other major industrialized nation in the world has a working class that has organized revolutionary workers parties that represent the interests of the working class in their state and national governments.  You are so stupid you think you don’t need to do the same; you’re all convinced that you can just settle for the political impotence of “speaking truth to power”.   You literally have no clue what you’re up against under capitalism – and what’s more – many of you just don’t care. If that’s not dangerously stupid, what is?

Going to college, young slave? Great idea! No doubt your high-school counselor showed you a list of the most sought-after job skills here in the “Land of the Free”. Let’s just put aside the fact that the list you were shown was probably out of date by at least a half-decade by the time your counselor showed it to you. If you are a “smart” wage-slave, you picked a “career” for yourself by selecting from the top of the list of the most highly desirable college degrees sought by the major corporations running this “free country” of ours. What a smart young wage-slave you are! Ha! You didn’t know it but you were fucked from that moment on! Your stupid-ass wage-slave parents couldn’t warn you because they don’t know their ass from a hole in the ground either. They fell for every lie they were ever told by the US capitalist class, and they are so far in debt they’ll never break even if they work 3 jobs for the rest of their lives. They haven’t read a non-fiction book since they left school and they think they know all they need to know – in other words, they are complete and utter dumbfuck wage-slaves, at the mercy of the greedheads that own the companies they work for and a government that is out to crush them. They – and you – will struggle your whole lives for a tiny piece of the 25% of the national wealth being fought over by 90% of the population. That is all of the national wealth not owned by those at the top 10% of the upside-down US income pyramid – the US capitalist class.

The problem is: in every high school in the land, smart young wage slaves are being shown that very same “pick-a-career” list; and a huge number of your fellow proto-wage-slaves are making the same decision you just made. So by the time you come out of college in 4 or 6 or 8 years, there’ll be so many people holding that same degree that the supply of newly trained wage slaves in your specialty will have outstripped the demand. It could take you months or even years to get a good-paying job in your chosen field – if ever. And if you think that’s sickening, realize this: the sick thing about it is that over-supplying the demand for every job is PRECISELY one of the top goals of the capitalist class – because that’s how they keep wages down and profits up! Like we said: you were fucked from the time you laid eyes on that “pick-a-career” list!

But why worry? You’re going to be a “free” citizen of the “free” world! A young, bright-eyed college grad with all the world open to you to conquer! Right? Wrong.

But here’s another little problem: thanks to the fact that you live in “The Land of the Free(TM)” – perhaps the MOST unapologetically, viciously, heartlessly “capitalist” country in the world – the education you just received here in the “land of the free” wasn’t “free” at all. You owe the university – or the bank you borrowed the money for your college tuition from – tens of thousands of dollars right now.  And that money you owe isn’t just going to sit there doing nothing while you look for a job that will enable you to pay off your huge debt. It’s growing like a cancer. In the capitalist world, loans – as you may now be dimly aware – are “interest-bearing”. Not for you, but for your banker-pimp! Oh, we forgot to tell you: did you know that you’re now a wage-slaving whore for a banker-pimp? You are, young wage-slave! Freedom? Ha! And the longer you are forced to wait to get a job, the larger your debt to your new banker-pimp becomes! Wow! Imagine that! You haven’t even started your career yet and already you are no longer “free” at all! From the moment you signed the papers on that loan, you became a whore for your banker-pimp – and, bitch, you’d better get your ass out on the street and start paying off your pimp or your credit rating is going to get shot to hell. What’s a “credit rating”? It’s how your capitalist bosses and banker-pimps keep you on your knees sucking corporate cock for the rest of your life! More on that another time.

You didn’t go to college? Aren’t you clever! Actually you’re probably actually NOT very clever or you’d have been channeled into the college-track by your school counselors long ago. For some reason, it was decided that you were not “college material” – probably because you were either dumb or a shitty student or you happened to be not white-skinned – or some combination of these things. So you are going to get your “freedom” 4, or 6 or 8 years before your fellow wage-slaves who went to college! Lucky you! Ha ha ha!

You get to immediately sell your labor-power in the capitalist marketplace. Problem is, the only thing you know how to do is read and do basic math! So you’re only qualified to work at low-wage jobs – and there are literally millions of dumb High School dropouts or barely-graduateds just like you looking for jobs too. It’s a “free market” for labor! Isn’t that fun? Actually, it isn’t at all fun, as you will soon find out. You will be working for whatever wages your future series of greedy capitalist-pimps feel like paying you, for the rest of your “life”.

Unless you join a union, that is. You don’t like unions? Ha ha! Well we hope you like poverty, dumbass! Because that’s what you’re gonna face – for the rest of your long, stupid life as a wage-slave if you can’t land a decent-paying job in a non-union factory of some kind. And those jobs are scarce and getting scarcer every day – and there are millions of stupid people like you fighting over those few jobs.

You had better re-think your opinion of unions. First of all, you could sign up for an apprenticeship program at a number of unions. There, you’ll get paid to go to school for four years, learning a trade.

“Wha- wha- whaaat? Did you say I would get PAID to go to school?”

Yes, little wage-slave! Union apprenticeships aren’t like those criminal “internships” many of your fellow wage-slaves got suckered into where they work their asses off for free. The union apprenticeships PAY YOU to go to school. And once you graduate, you will be making the most money it is possible to make in a regular job for the vast majority of wage-slaves. It’s a great deal, and beats the shit out of the “Great Capitalist College Swindle(TM)”!

“Great! Thanks for telling me about that – I’d never heard of such a thing! I’m joining a union apprenticeship program! I’m going to be making excellent money and have a good job guaranteed when I’m done with my apprenticeship, while those stupid college students are stuck with their huge debt and no job!”

Uh, wait a minute young wage-slave. No one is going to guarantee you a job under capitalism. Ever. They call this the “free world” but, as you are about to find out – nothing in it is “free” – especially wage-slaves like you. Your ability to get a full-time job at the end of your apprenticeship will depend on the vicissitudes of the capitalist economy – and your willingness to kiss your bosses ass like a good wage-slave. If you’re in a construction trade, it’s a “boom-or-bust” situation. Sometimes you’re going to work 60 hours a week for years on end; other times you’ll be out of work for years on end. But look on the “bright side”: at least you won’t have to pay off an enormous debt like the college wage-slaves.

“Great! The economy is strong right now and it probably will be when I complete my apprenticeship in 5 years. I’m going to have it made! I’m so happy I’m not going to wait 5 years – I’m going to marry my high-school sweetheart right now, buy a house, have a couple of kids and start enjoying my freedom here in the “land of the free” right away!”

Uhhhh… hold on there now, dumbass! How are you going to enjoy your “freedom” by getting married and buying a house and having kids? Every one of those things is going to increase the amount of money you’re going to have to make in order to keep your family alive. Especially buying a house! And kids! Forget about it! “Freedom” that ain’t! Under the capitalist system it’s a ball and chain for life!

“What do you mean? Buying a house is part of the “American Dream”! It’s what living in a free country is all about. You own your own house, instead of just paying rent to a landlord! Homeowners have more freedom than renters! And having kids isn’t that expensive; we’ll find a way to make it work. Everyone tells me this, so it must be true!”

Well, we must say, in the defense of honesty: nearly every worker in the United States is a stupid-ass streetwalking pimped-off wage-slave.  They believe everything their banker-pimp masters tell them to believe. The fact is that it has always – in most places and historical periods in the US – been cheaper in the long run to rent than to buy a house. And if you care at all about protecting what little “freedom” a wage-slave actually has in a “free” capitalist country, you might consider the ramifications of becoming owned by a bank through a mortgage on a house. If you rent and have to move to another town or state for a new job, you can pretty much just pack up and go; if you are “owned” by a banker-pimp through a house, you have to sell it before you move or you’ll end up paying for two homes. Selling your house could take months or even years and will quickly eat up any savings you were somehow able to accumulate – if you had any. And having kids! Did you know that for every kid you have you and your spouse will have to make approximately an additional $12,000 to $15,000 a year per child – precisely at a time when your family’s income will be cut in half because your wife is pregnant? And even if your wife doesn’t permanently lose her job when she takes her pregnancy leave and gets back to work quickly, you will now have to pay thousands of dollars a year for child care. Under the capitalist system, having kids is a great way to say “goodbye” to “freedom” for the next 20 years.

“Gee! No one ever told me that! I wonder why?”

Oh, you have much to learn, young wage-slave. But that doesn’t make you special. All of us worker-revolutionaries were dumbass wage-slaves too, once; we’d all been fed a bunch of lies by our stupid wage-slave families who all had been pimped out for decades by their banker-pimps; they all claimed that they were “free” people living in a “free” country, too. Living in a capitalist country is the opposite of “freedom” for a worker-wage-slave. You can only survive under capitalism if you have a job; and NO ONE can or ever will guarantee you that you WILL have a job. Even the most fortunate and shamelessly docile wage slaves get laid off at least once in their lives during the inevitable periodic economic crises that shake the capitalist world to its foundations.

“Yikes!  That’s scary!  I had no idea how unstable the capitalist system has been!  But how is owning a house giving up your freedom? I’ve always been told the opposite. Everyone says that you must own a car to enjoy your freedom, and that renting is slavery compared to owning your own house. You mean to tell me that those are lies?”

Yes, those are indeed lies – monstrous lies – not made any less monstrous by the fact that so many stupid-ass wage-slaves believe them to be true.
The capitalist system is a form of economic exploitation of workers for the benefit of the wealthy people who own factories and other businesses. All wealth is based upon the extraction of profits from the wage-labor of wage-slave workers like you. In order to force workers to spend their lives making the rich people richer, they dangle things like new cars and houses in front of stupid-ass wage-slaves and tell the slaves that they can only have true “freedom” if they own these things. In order to own these things they must be obedient wage-slaves willing to give the best years of their lives over to slaving in a capitalist enterprise for as many hours as the capitalist wishes to force them to work. The gullible wage-slaves are trained to believe that by working hard, they will acquire their freedom. The Nazis had this slogan over the entrance to Auschwitz: “Arbeit Mach Frei” – “Work will make you free”. It is a lie. Work under capitalism is a form of slavery in which workers are given the choice of either pimping themselves out to the highest capitalist bidder or of being homeless.

“You’re talking philosophy; how does this relate to owning a home or a car?”

When you take out a loan to buy a car, you sign a portion of your working life over to your banker-pimp, who then forces you to keep on working and turning over a large portion of your paycheck to him so his capitalist bosses can live like kings while you struggle to buy your “freedom” – something which you will never achieve in a capitalist country no matter how hard you work. Buying a new or used car with a loan makes you a whore for a banker-pimp for a few years. Buying a HOUSE, on the other hand, makes you a whore to a banker-pimp for a number of DECADES! Until you completely pay off your loans, you don’t own that car or house at all – YOUR BANKER-PIMP OWNS YOU THROUGH THAT CAR OR HOUSE! And if you don’t keep working and keep kissing your capitalist-pimp’s ass at the place where you work, you’ll be fired or laid off and, being unable to make the car payment or mortgage, the banker-pimp will take away your car or house and use them to enslave another sucker. And you’ll be homeless and as propertyless as those renters you laughed at who decided not to give up their tiny amount of “freedom” by becoming a whore for a banker-pimp like you did.

“Wow! My dad always said that “his banker” was a great guy who got him a great deal on his mortgage!”

Your dad is a typical dumb wage-slave who has been tricked into thinking that he “got a great deal” from his banker-pimp. In fact, here’s what your dad’s delusion is based on. The banker-pimp knows from dealing with your dumbass wage-slave dad that he’s such a completely housebroken, obedient and hard-working wage-slave that if the banker-pimp cuts the interest by a mere 1/4% on his home mortgage, your dad – out of slavish gratitude – will probably also come back to the banker-pimp whenever he thinks he needs to buy a new car or if he needs to take out a second mortgage on his house for some guaranteed-to-eventually-happen, unavoidable reason – like if he or your mom gets sick and needs expensive medical treatment. Plus, the banker-pimp knows your dad is taking good care of the banker-pimp’s house, keeping it in excellent physical shape with the money being lent to him at interest by the banker-pimp. So if the day ever comes that your dad can no longer make payments on the house, the banker-pimp or his successors will swoop in and take the house back and sell it to another stupid-ass wage-slave who thinks he will obtain “freedom” by “owning” a house. There are so many ways that people can get screwed out of their homes that it would take me a year to describe them all to you. The home “ownership” scam run by the banker-pimps of the capitalist world is one of the principal swindles employed by the capitalists to keep their wage-slaves docile, obedient and hard-working.

“Ow! My brain is starting to hurt! You commies are liars who try to make all the good things in life look awful!”

Well why don’t you go home and think about it in your “free time” – if you have any! Ha ha ha! We haven’t told you about the many, many lies of the capitalists who are enslaving you, young wage-slave! If you ever get sick of being a wage-slave, feel free to stop by and learn more about the phony “land of the free” bullshit sold to all wage slaves by the bought-and-paid-for propagandists of the capitalist class. And here: read this.

The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx

The Communist Manifesto?  I don’t know… I’ve always been told that was nothing but commie propaganda.  Frankly I’m frightened by the prospect of reading it!  And it’s so old – this is 2016! What good is something written way back in 1848?”

Well, yes it is of course “communist propaganda”.  You’re frightened to read a book?  How absurd!  Old?  The basic writings of the capitalist ideologue Adam Smith – which is “capitalist propaganda”– were written 75 years BEFORE the Manifesto!  And yet every communist has read Smith’s “Wealth of Nations”…

Read the introduction by Trotsky as well; he explains that, of course, some of the Manifesto is outdated, but most of it remains remarkably informative and useful even today.  It’s still one of the best introductions to the nature of the capitalist system and basic socialist ideas available, and it’s only about 50 pages. It’s like “Google Maps” for orienting yourself in the capitalist world you live in, young wage-slave.

“OK thanks. I’ll take a look at it. What a conversation! Next thing you know you’ll be telling me that the police are not here to “protect and serve” the workers!”

They’re not here to “protect and serve” the workers! The police were organized to protect the private property and property rights of the capitalists and to “serve” as the armed force to be used to keep the workers from rising up AGAINST their banker-pimp and capitalist masters…

“That’s enough of your propaganda! Let me go read the Manifesto and we’ll talk about that another time! This is too much for me to take in at once!”

Ha ha! We felt the same way when we first heard all this years ago when WE were young, dumbass wage slaves! Nearly everyone starts off in the same way. Almost everyone in our party – except those lucky ones whose parents had cast off their chains to become revolutionary workers – grew up as dumb wage-slaves who believed that wage-slavery was “freedom”, too. Our political education only really began when we first read the “Communist Manifesto”. We had heard all kinds of horrible lies about what the “Manifesto” contained. We were shocked to find that what it actually contained was some excellent information that exposed the reality of the place in capitalist class society that we were born into as sons and daughters of working-class parents. It shocked and awakened us to the reality of life as a wage-slave in capitalist class society and it will do the same for you. Before we read it, we felt like one of the famous blind men encountering the elephant of capitalism – we didn’t even know its name WAS “capitalism”! That’s how dumb WE were! The Manifesto made it possible for us to see the capitalist world as it truly is for the first time in our lives. It’s been great talking with you. By reading the Manifesto you are taking the first step in throwing off your chains and in becoming a revolutionary worker instead of a dumb wage-slave. We hope you enjoy the book!  When you’re done with it, we’ll talk again!

—IWPCHI

We Salute the 98th Anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917!

Petrograd Soviet in session, 1917

Petrograd Soviet in session, 1917

We proudly salute the 98th anniversary of the great Bolshevik Revolution of 1917!

On 7 November 1917 the revolutionary socialist workers and soldiers of Russia, led by the original Leninist vanguard Bolshevik party of Lenin, seized power out of the hands of the reactionary bourgeois-democratic Kerensky regime, which intended to continue participating in the bloodbath of WWI.

Red Guards of the workers of the "Vulcan" factory, 1917

Red Guards of the workers of the “Vulcan” factory, 1917

This revolution was not a putsch; the Bolsheviks had won to their program the industrialized workers of the major cities in Russia, as well, crucially, as the masses of Russian soldiers who refused to fight any longer for the hated Kerensky regime, and the long brutalized peasantry whose fathers and brothers had provided the bulk of the cannon fodder of the Tsarist regime.

Review of Bolshevik forces in Red Square, 1917

Review of Bolshevik forces in Red Square, 1917

Thus, for the first time since the too-brief insurrection of the Paris Commune in 1871, the working class found itself in possession of state power!  This time, however, it was led by a new type of revolutionary political formation: the Leninist vanguard party.  This party, armed with a firm dedication to revolutionary Marxist principles, and having won the hearts and minds of the industrialized working class, soldiers and leading revolutionary elements of the peasantry, was prepared to defend its possession of state power by any means necessary.

Lenin,_Trotsky_and_Voroshilov_with_Delegates_of_the_10th_Congress_of_the_Russian_Communist_Party_(Bolsheviks)

The betrayal of the revolution began before the death of Lenin, as Stalin and his acolytes started consolidating their power while Lenin lay dying.  The triumph of the Stalin clique over Trotsky’s Left Opposition led to the emergence of the Stalinist dogma of seeking reconciliation with the capitalist world while simultaneously embracing the thoroughly anti-Marxist and anti-Leninist theory that socialism could be successful in one country only.  This utter betrayal of the fundamental philosophy of Marxism/Leninism led inexorably – as Trotsky predicted – to the collapse of the USSR and the restoration of capitalism in Russia, brokered by the Stalinist bureaucracy itself, in 1989-91.

Thus the Third International collapsed in a heap.  Still, the “Communist Parties” whose Russian masters brokered the surrender of the USSR with nary a shot being fired in its defense remain, somehow, alive!  In Greece, and throughout Europe, these remnants of the utterly discredited Stalinist “Communist” parties still act as if they were somehow revolutionary, though they have refused to draw the necessary theoretical lessons from their 3rd international’s betrayal of the USSR.

Only the Trotskyists like ourselves remain as the sole representatives of the unbroken heritage of the revolutionary socialist traditions founded by Marx, Engels and Lenin.

Even the banners of the Fourth International have been sullied from time to time by the class-collaborationist programs of too many parties who claimed to be adherents of Trotsky but who proved to be anything but real Trotskyists.  We seek to reforge the revolutionary socialist traditions of the Fourth International, by seeking to recruit members of the completely discredited Third International who seek the road of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky.

We republish, in honor of the 98th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution, Leon Trotsky’s essay “From July to October” as originally presented in his autobiography “My Life”.  This article describes in detail the development of the Russian revolution from July, 1917, when the Mensheviks and Kerenskyites tried to strangle the revolution in its cradle.  The essay proves conclusively the importance of the need for a revolutionary Marxist/Leninist/Trotskyist vanguard party in order to successfully outsmart the ruling class treachery that seeks to trick the naive workers into surrendering their arms in exchange for empty promises of reforms, after which the bourgeoisie will reorganise itself and drown the revolution in blood.  Lenin’s Bolsheviks, armed with a deep histroical analysis of the many ways that the ruling classes have destroyed revolutionary movements throughout history, did not succumb to the Sibyll’s song of the ruling class for a rapprochement between the workers and the capitalists.  ALL previous revolutionary movements HAD been seduced by the treacherous promises of leniency and reforms that came from the lying tongues of ruling classes in their desperate efforts to avoid overthrow.  All those who express their hatred of “Leninist vanguard parties” betray their actual support for the capitalist status quo – WITHOUT EXCEPTION!  By opposing the creation of Leninist vanguard parties, these fake-revolutionaries – chiefly anarchists and phony socialists – declare their opposition to the ONLY FORM of revolutionary Marxist paty that has EVER been successful in overthrowing the capitalist class!

We need to create new Bolshevik parties right here in the USA and all over the world in order to overthrow the capitalist classes of the world, which threaten to plunge the world into a third world war.  Time is running out, brother and sister workers!  We call upon all revolutionary socialist workers to contact us to begin the creation of the new Fourth International parties that will finally triumph over the ruthless, savage, greed-based capitalism that has kept billions of workers living in poverty, and that murders tens of thousands every day through war, assassination, and starvation.

Workers of the World, Unite!

Independent Workers Party of Chicago


Leon Trotsky
My Life
CHAPTER XXVI
FROM JULY TO OCTOBER

On June 4, a declaration that I had submitted concerning Kerensky’s preparation for an offensive at the front was read by the Bolshevik faction at the congress of the Soviets. We had pointed out that the offensive was an adventure that threatened the very existence of the army. But the Provisional government was growing intoxicated with its own speechifying. The ministers thought of the masses of soldiers, stirred to their very depths by the revolution, as so much soft clay to be moulded as they pleased. Kerensky toured the front, adjured and threatened the troops, kneeled, kissed the earth – in a word, downed it in every possible way, while he failed to answer any of the questions tormenting the soldiers. He had deceived himself by his cheap effects, and, assured of the support of the congress of the Soviets, ordered the offensive. When the calamity that the Bolsheviks had warned against came, the Bolsheviks were made the scapegoats. They were hounded furiously. The reaction, which the Kadet party was shielding, pressed in from all sides, demanding our heads.

The faith of the masses in the Provisional government was hopelessly undermined. At this second stage of the revolution, Petrograd was again too far in the van. In the July days, this vanguard came to an open clash with Kerensky’s government. It was not yet an uprising, but only a reconnaissance that went deep. But it had already become obvious in the July encounter that Kerensky had no “democratic” army behind him; that the forces supporting him against us were those of a counter-revolution.

During the session in the Taurid Palace on July 3, I learned of the demonstration of the machine-gun regiment and its appeal to other troops and to factory-workers. The news came as a surprise to me. The demonstration had been spontaneous, at the initiative of the masses, but next day it went farther, now with the participation of our party. The Taurid Palace was overrun by the people. They had only one slogan: “Power to the Soviets.”

In front of the palace, a suspicious-booking group of men who had kept aloof from the crowd seized the minister of agriculture, Chernov, and put him in an automobile. The crowd watched indifferently; at any rate, their sympathy was not with him. The news of Chernov’s seizure and of the danger that threatened him reached the palace. The Populists decided to use machine-gun armored cars to rescue their leader. The decline of their popularity was making them nervous; they wanted to show a firm hand. I decided to try to go with Chernov in the automobile away from the crowd, in order that I might release him afterward. But a Bolshevik, Raskolnikov, a lieutenant in the Baltic navy, who had brought the Kronstadt sailors to the demonstration, excitedly insisted on releasing Chernov at once, to prevent people from saying that he had been arrested by the Kronstadt men. I decided to try to carry out Raskolnikov’s wish. I will let him speak for himself.

“It is difficult to say how long the turbulence of the masses would have continued,” the impulsive lieutenant says in his memoirs, “but for the intervention of Comrade Trotsky. He jumped on the front of the automobile, and with an energetic wave of his hand, like a man who was tired of waiting, gave the signal for silence. Instantly, everything calmed down, and there was dead quiet. In a loud, clear and ringing voice, Lev Davydovich made a short speech, ending with ‘those in favor of violence to Chernov raise their hands!’ Nobody even opened his mouth,” continues Raskolnikov; “no one uttered a word of protest. ‘Citizen Chernov, you are free,’ Trotsky said, as he turned around solemnly to the minister of agriculture and with a wave of his hand, invited him to leave the automobile. Chernov was half-dead and half-alive. I helped him to get out of the automobile, and with an exhausted, expressionless look and a hesitating, unsteady walk, he went up the steps and disappeared into the vestibule of the palace. Satisfied with his victory, Lev Davydovich walked away with him.”

If one discounts the unnecessarily pathetic tone, the scene is described correctly. It did not keep the hostile press from asserting that I had Chernov seized to have him lynched. Chernov shyly kept silent; how could a “People’s” minister confess his indebtedness not to his own popularity, but to the intervention of a Bolshevik for the safety of his head?

Delegation after delegation demanded, in the name of the demonstrants, that the Executive Committee take the power. Chiedze, Tzereteli, Dan, and Gotz were sitting in the presidium like statues. They did not answer the delegations, and looked blankly off into space or exchanged perturbed and cryptic glances. Bolsheviks spoke one after another in support of the delegations of workers and soldiers. The members of the presidium were silent. They were waiting – but for what? Hours passed in this way. Then, in the middle of the night, the halls of the palace resounded suddenly with the triumphant blare of trumpets. The members of the presidium came to life as if they had been touched by an electric current. Some one solemnly reported that the Volyn regiment had arrived from the front to put itself of the disposal of the Central Executive Committee. In all of the Petrograd garrison, the “democracy” had not had a single unit that it could rely on. And so it had had to wait until an armed force could come from the front.

Now the whole setting changed immediately. The delegations were driven out; Bolsheviks were not allowed to speak. The leaders of the democracy were wreaking on us their vengeance for the fear that the masses had made them suffer. Speeches from the platform of the Executive Committee told of an armed mutiny suppressed by the loyal troops of the revolution. The Bolsheviks were declared a counter-revolutionary party. The arrival of that one Volyn regiment had done all this. Three and a half months later, the same regiment co-operated wholeheartedly in the overthrow of Kerensky’s government.

On the morning of the fifth I met Lenin. The offensive by the masses had been beaten off. “Now they will shoot us down, one by one,” said Lenin. “This is the right time for them.” But he overestimated the opponent – not his venom, but his courage and ability to act. They did not shoot us down one by one, although they were not far from it. Bolsheviks were being beaten down in the streets and killed. Military students sacked the Kseshinskaya palace and the printing-works of the Pravda. The whole street in front of the works was littered with manuscripts, and among those destroyed was my pamphlet To the Slanderers. The deep reconnaissance of July had been transformed into a one-sided battle. The enemy were easily victorious, because we did not fight. The party was paying dearly for it. Lenin and Zinoviev were in hiding. General arrests, followed by beatings, were the order of the day. Cossacks and military students confiscated the money of those arrested, on the ground that it was “German money.” Many of our sympathizers and half-friends turned their backs on us. In the Taurid Palace, we were proclaimed counter-revolutionists and were actually put outside the law.

The situation in the ruling circles of the party was bad. Lenin was away; Kamenev’s wing was raising its head. Many – and these included Stalin – simply let events take their own course, so that they might show their wisdom the day after. The Bolshevik faction in the Central Executive Committee felt orphaned in the Taurid Palace. It sent a delegation to ask me if I would speak to them about the situation, although I was not yet a member of the party; my formal joining had been delayed until the party congress, soon to meet. I agreed readily, of course. My talk with the Bolshevik faction established moral bonds of the sort that are forged only under the enemy’s heaviest blows. I said then that after this crisis we were to expect a rapid up swing; that the masses would become twice as strongly attached to us when they had verified the truth of our declaration by facts; that it was necessary to keep a strict watch on every revolutionary, for at such moments men are weighed on scales that do not err. Even now I recall with pleasure the warmth and gratitude that the members showed me when I left them. “Lenin is away,” Muralov said, “and of the others, only Trotsky has kept his head.”

If I had been writing these memoirs under different circumstances – although in other circumstances I should hardly have been writing them at all – I should have hesitated to include much of what I say in these pages. But now I cannot forget that widely organized lying about the past which is one of the chief activities of the epigones. My friends are in prison or in exile. I am obliged to speak of myself in a way that I should never have done under other conditions. For me, it is a question not merely of historical truth but also of a political struggle that is still going on.

My unbroken fighting friendship as well as my political friendship with Muralov began then. I must say at least a few words about the man. Muralov is an old Bolshevik who went through the revolution of 1905 in Moscow. In Serpukhov, in 1906, he was caught in the pogrom of the Black Hundred – carried out, as usual, under the protection of the police. Muralov is a magnificent giant, as fearless as he is kind. With a few others, he found himself in a ring of enemies who had surrounded the building of the Zemstvo administration. Muralov came out of the building with a revolver in his hand and walked evenly toward the crowd. It moved back a little. But the shock company of the Black Hundred blocked his path, and the cabmen began to howl taunts at him. “Clear a way,” ordered the giant without slackening his advance, as he raised the hand holding the revolver. Several men pounced on him. He shot one of them down and wounded another. The crowd drew back again. With the same even step, cutting his way through the crowd like an ice-breaker, Muralov walked on and on toward Moscow.

His subsequent trial lasted for two years, and, in spite of the frenzy of the reaction that swept over the country, he was acquitted. An agricultural expert by training, a soldier in an aut mobile detachment during the imperialist war, a leader of the October fighting in Moscow, Muralov became the first commander of the Moscow military region after the victory. He was a fearless marshal of the revolutionary war, always steady, simple, and unaffected. In his campaigning he was a tireless living example; he gave agricultural advice, mowed grain, and in his free moments gave medical treatment to both men and cows. In the most difficult situations he radiated calm, warmth, and confidence. After the close of the war, Muralov and I always tried to spend our free days together. We were united too by our love of hunting. We scoured North and South for bears and wolves, or for pheasants and bustards. At present, Muralov is hunting in Siberia as an exiled oppositionist.

In the July days of 1917, Muralov held his head up, as usual, and encouraged many others. In those days, we all needed a lot of self-control to stride along the corridors and halls of the Taurid Palace without bowing our heads, as we ran the gauntlet of furious glances, venomous whispers, grinding of teeth, and a demonstrative elbowing that seemed to say: “Look! Look!” There is no fury greater than that of a vain and pampered “revolutionary” philistine when he begins to perceive that the revolution which has suddenly lifted him to the top is about to threaten his temporary splendor.

The route to the canteen of the Executive Committee was a little Golgotha in those days. Tea was dispensed there, and sandwiches of black bread and cheese or red caviar; the latter was plentiful in the Smolny and later in the Kremlin. For dinner, the fare was a vegetable soup with a chunk of meat. The canteen was in charge of a soldier named Grafov. When the baiting of the Bolsheviks was at its worst, when Lenin was declared a German spy and had to hide in a hut, I noticed that Grafov would slip me a hotter glass of tea, or a sandwich better than the rest, trying meanwhile not to look at me. He obviously sympathized with the Bolsheviks but had to keep it from his superiors. I began to look about me more attentively. Grafov was not the only one: the whole lower staff of the Smolny – porters, messengers, watchmen – were unmistakably with the Bolsheviks. Then I felt that our cause was half won. But so far, only half.

The press was conducting an exceptionally venomous and dishonest campaign against the Bolsheviks, a campaign surpassed in this respect only by Stalin’s campaign against the opposition a few years later. In July, Lunacharsky made a few equivocal statements which the press naturally interpreted as a renunciation of Bolshevism. Some papers attributed similar statements to me. On July 10, I addressed a letter to the Provisional government in which I stated my complete agreement with Lenin and which I ended as follows: “You can have no grounds for exempting me from the action of the decree by virtue of which Lenin, Zinoviev and Kamenev are subject to arrest; you can have no grounds for doubting that I am as irreconcilably opposed to the general policy of the Provisional government as my above-mentioned comrades.” Messrs. the ministers drew the due conclusion from this letter, and arrested me as a German agent.

In May, when Tzereteli was hounding the sailors and disarming the machine-gun companies, I warned him that the day was probably not far distant when he would have to seek help from the sailors against some general who would be soaping the hangman’s rope for the revolution. In August, such a general made his appearance in the person of Kornilov. Tzereteli called for the help of the Kronstadt bluejackets; they did not refuse it. The cruiser Aurora entered the waters of the Neva. I was already in the Kresty prison when I saw this quick fulfilment of my prophecy. The sailors from the Aurora sent a special delegation to the prison to ask my advice: should they defend the Winter Palace or take it by assault? I advised them to put off the squaring of their account with Kerensky until they had finished Kornilov. “What’s ours will not escape us.”

“It won’t?”

“It will not.”

While I was in prison, my wife and boys called to see me. The boys had by that time acquired some political experience of their own. They were spending the summer in the country house of the family of a retired colonel. Visitors often came there, mostly officers, and as they helped themselves to vodka they would rail at the Bolsheviks. In the July days this railing reached its climax. (Some of these officers left soon after that for the South, where the future “White” forces were being gathered.) When, in the course of a meal, a certain young patriot called Lenin and Trotsky German spies, my older boy dashed at him with a chair and the younger one with a table-knife. The grown-ups separated them, and the boys, sobbing hysterically, locked themselves in their room. They were secretly planning to make their way on foot to Petrograd to find out what was happening to the Bolsheviks there, but fortunately their mother came, pacified them, and took them away. But in the city things seemed hardly better. The newspapers were denouncing the Bolsheviks, their father was in prison – the revolution was definitely disappointing. But that did not prevent them from delightedly watching my wife furtively slip me a pen-knife through the grating in the prison reception-room. I continued to console them by saying that the real revolution was still to come.

My daughters were being drawn more actively into political life. They attended the meetings in the Modern Circus and took part in demonstrations. During the July days, they were both shaken up in a mob, one of them lost her glasses, both lost their hats, and both were afraid that they would lose the father who had just reappeared on their horizon.

During the days of Kornilov’s advance on Petrograd, the prison regime was hanging by a thread. Everybody realized that if Kornilov entered the city he would immediately slaughter all the Bolsheviks arrested by Kerensky. The Central Executive Committee was afraid too that the prisons might be raided by the White-guard elements in the capital. A large detachment of troops was detailed to guard the Kresty. Of course it proved to be not “democratic” but Bolshevik, and ready to release us at any moment. But an act like that would have been the signal for an immediate uprising, and the time for that had not yet come. Meanwhile, the government itself began to release us, for the same reason that it had called in the Bolshevik sailors to guard the Winter Palace. I went straight from the Kresty to the newly organized committee for the defense of the revolution, where I sat with the same gentlemen who had put me in prison as an agent of the Hohenzollerns, and who had not yet withdrawn the accusation against me. I must candidly confess that the Populists and Mensheviks by their very appearance made one wish that Kornilov might grip them by the scruffs of their necks and shake them in the air. But this wish was not only irreverent, it was unpolitical. The Bolsheviks stepped into the harness, and were everywhere in the first line of the defense. The experience of Kornilov’s mutiny completed that of the July days: once more Kerensky and Co. revealed the fact that they had no forces of their own to back them. The army that rose against Kornilov was the army-to-be of the October revolution. We took advantage of the danger to arm the workers whom Tzereteli had been disarming with such restless industry.

The capital quieted down in those days. Kornilov’s entry was awaited with hope by some and with terror by others. Our boys heard some one say, “He may come to-morrow,” and in the morning, before they were dressed, they peered out of the window to see if he had arrived. But Kornilov did not arrive. The revolutionary upswing of the masses was so powerful that his mutiny simply melted away and evaporated. But not with out leaving its trace; the mutiny was all grist to the Bolshevik mill.

“Retribution is not slow in coming,” I wrote in the Kornilov days. “Hounded, persecuted, slandered, our party never grew as rapidly as it is growing now. And this process will spread from the capitals to the provinces, from the towns to the country and the army … Without ceasing for a moment to be the class organization of the proletariat, our party will be transformed in the fire of persecution into a true leader of all the oppressed, downtrodden, deceived and hounded masses.”

We were hardly able to keep pace with the rising tide. The number of Bolsheviks in the Petrograd Soviet was increasing daily. We represented almost half of the membership, and yet there was not a single Bolshevik in the presidium. We raised the question of re-electing the Soviet presidium. We offered to form a coalition presidium with the Mensheviks and the Populists. Lenin, as we afterward found out, was displeased at that, because he was afraid that it implied conciliatory tendencies on our part. But no compromise was effected. Despite our recent joint struggle against Kornilov, Tzereteli declined the coalition presidium.

We had hoped for this; nothing but a vote on the lists of candidates along party lines could solve the problem now. I asked whether the list of our opponents included Kerensky; formally, he was a member of the presidium, though he did not attend the Soviet, and showed his disregard of it in every way. The question took the presidium by surprise. Kerensky was neither liked nor respected, but it was impossible to disavow one’s prime minister. After consulting one another, the members of the presidium answered: “Of course, he is included.” We wanted nothing better. Here is an extract from the minutes: “We were convinced that Kerensky was no longer in the presidium [tumultuous applause], but we see now that we have been mistaken. The shadow of Kerensky is hovering between Chiedze and Zavadye. When you are asked to approve the political line-up of the presidium, remember that you are asked in this way to approve the policies of Kerensky. [tumultuous applause]” This threw over to our side another hundred or so of the delegates who had been vacillating.

The Soviet numbered considerably more than a thousand members. The voting was performed by going out the door. There was tremendous excitement, for the question at issue was not the presidium, but the revolution. I was walking about in the lobbies with a group of friends. We reckoned that we should be a hundred votes short of half, and were ready to consider that a success. But it happened that we received a hundred votes more than the coalition of the Socialist-Revolutionists and the Mensheviks. We were the victors. I took the chair. Tzereteli, taking his leave, expressed his wish that we might stay in the Soviet at least half as long as they had been leading the revolution. In other words, our opponents opened for us a credit account of not more than three months.

They made a gross miscalculation. We were undeviating in our march to power.
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Last updated on: 7.2.2007

International Women’s Day – Spartacist League Classic: “Early Communist Work Among Women: The Bolsheviks”

In honor of International Womens’ Day we republish a classic article from the revolutionary Trotskyist Spartacist League’s now-defunct and greatly missed journal “Women & Revolution”.— IWPCHI

Early Communist Work Among Women: The Bolsheviks

From Women and Revolution issues Nos. 10 and 11, Winter 1975-76 and Spring 1976.

The Soviet Union provides the classic illustration of Fourier’s observation that the progress of any society can be gauged by the social position of the women within it. To the extent that the Bolshevik Revolution was victorious, Soviet women were liberated from their traditional, subservient social positions; to the extent that the Revolution degenerated, the position of the women degenerated. The fact that this degeneration has been incomplete—that Soviet women continue to enjoy advantages and opportunities unknown in the West—is precisely because the degeneration of the Soviet workers state has also been incomplete, i.e., capitalism has not been restored.

The Old Order: “I Thought I Saw Two People Coming, But It Was Only a Man and His Wife”

Russian folklore testifies to the fact that women in pre-revolutionary Russian society were commonly considered generically defective to the point of being subhuman. But such attitudes had not prevailed in Russia from time immemorial. In ancient times, women had had the right to rule their own estates, choose their own husbands, speak in the community councils and compete for athletic and military honors. Epic songs are still sung in some provinces about mighty female warriors called polnitsy —a word derived from the Russian pole, meaning “field” and, in a secondary sense, “battlefield.” These women warriors, according to folk tradition, wandered alone throughout the country, fought with men whom they encountered on their way and chose their own lovers as they pleased: “Is thy heart inclined to amuse itself with me?” the so-called Beautiful Princess asks the Russian folk hero Iliia Muromets.

But the centuries which witnessed the growth of the patriarchal family, the rise of Byzantine Christianity with its doctrine of the debased nature of women, the brutal Tatar invasion and the consolidation of dynastic power, also witnessed the obliteration of these ancient privileges.

During these centuries Russian women were progressively excluded from politics, education and social life in general. Those of the lower classes became beasts of burden who might be driven with a stick if it pleased their husbands. Those of the upper classes were physically removed from society and imprisoned in the terem or “tower room”—an upper chamber of the house built expressly for the lifelong seclusion of women. Peter the Great (1672-1725), in his determination to transform Russia into a modern commercial and industrial state, holds the distinction of releasing women from the terem and compelling them to mingle with men at public social functions, as they did in the West.

The Empresses Elizabeth and Catherine the Great (1729-1796) continued to encourage more progressive attitudes toward women, and they constructed academies for their education. On the eve of the Russian Revolution, women constituted 30,000, or almost one quarter, of the 125,000 students enrolled in Russian universities.

Despite these reform measures, however, women continued to be severely oppressed in pre-revolutionary Russia. Not only was the number of educated women only a tiny fraction of the total population (the illiteracy rate for women was 92 percent in 1897), but the lack of educational opportunities had a much more stultifying effect on women than on their male counterparts, because they were far more isolated.

Peasant women grew old early from overwork and maltreatment. Even when elementary education was available to girls, it remained customary for them to stay at home to care for the younger children until they were old enough to work in the fields. Husbands were generally chosen by the fathers, who sold their daughters to the highest bidder. Tradition decreed that the father of the bride present the bridegroom with a whip, the symbol of the groom’s authority over his new wife.

Those peasant women who sought to escape to the cities found that they were paid lower wages than their male co-workers and that all skilled trades were closed to them. Outside of domestic service and the textile industry, marriage constituted grounds for immediate discharge.

Life was somewhat more comfortable, of course, for women of the middle and upper classes, but not much more fulfilling. While educational opportunities were more accessible to them, the kind of education deemed appropriate for women was limited. Husbands, as among the lower classes, were chosen by the fathers, and the law bound women to obey their husbands in all things.

Equal Rights for Women

The radical notion of equal rights for women was originally introduced into Russia by army officers who had been stationed in France after the defeat of Napoleon and who brought back to Russia many of the new liberal, republican and democratic ideas to which they had been exposed.

Male intellectuals continued to participate in this movement for the next hundred years. They championed higher education for women and entered into fictitious marriages with them in order to provide them with the passports they needed to study abroad. Well-known authors such as Belinsky, Herzen, Dobroliubov and Chernyshevsky encouraged women in their struggle for equal rights.

The active participation of men in the struggle for women’s liberation and the fact that prior to 1906 the masses of Russian men and women did possess equal political rights—that is, no rights at all—meant that at a time when women’s suffrage organizations were on the rise in the West, Russian women and men continued to engage in united political struggle.

Equality of political oppression broke down only after the Revolution of 1905. On 17 October of that year Tsar Nicholas II issued a manifesto which provided for the summoning of a state duma based on male suffrage only. A group of the newly-enfranchised men immediately appealed to the author of the manifesto, Count Witte, for female suffrage, but this was refused. Out of this defeat arose the first feminist organizations in Russia—the League of Equal Rights for Women and the Russian Union of Defenders of Women’s Rights.

Like all feminist organizations, these groups sought to achieve their goals through reforming the social system. At the first meeting of the League of Equal Rights for Women, which was held in St. Petersburg (later renamed Petrograd and presently Leningrad) in 1905, a number of working women put forward a resolution demanding measures to meet their needs and the needs of peasant women, such as equal pay for equal work and welfare for mothers and children, but the bourgeois women who constituted the majority of the membership rejected this proposal in favor of one which called only for the unity of all women in the struggle for a republican form of government and for universal suffrage.

One of the League’s first actions was the presentation to the First State Duma of a petition for female suffrage signed by 5,000 women. This petition was presented three times between 1906 and 1912 but was never accepted. Minister of Justice Shcheglovitov commented:

“Careful observation of reality shows that there is a danger of women being attracted by the ideals of the revolutionaries, and this circumstance, in my opinion, obliges us to regard with extreme care the question of encouraging women to take up political activity.

— Vera Bilshai, The Status of Women in the Soviet Union

Feminism or Bolshevism?

Side by side with the burgeoning feminist movement, the pre-revolutionary years witnessed the development of work among women by the Bolsheviks and other avowed socialists—work which was greatly accelerated by the entrance of masses of women into industrial production.

The programs and strategies of feminism and Bolshevism were counterposed from the outset. The feminists declared that women’s most pressing need was political equality with men, including participation at every level of government. Only when women were in a position to influence all governmental policies, they said, would cultural and economic equality be possible. To achieve their political goal, the feminists created multi-class organizations of women united around the struggle for equal rights.

Socialist organizations also struggled for equal rights for all women. “We hate and want to obliterate,” said V. I. Lenin, “everything that oppresses and harasses the working woman, the wife of the working man, the peasant woman, the wife of the little man, and even in many respects the women from the wealthy classes.” But socialist organizations from the beginning rejected the feminist reform strategy and insisted that full sexual equality could not be achieved short of a socialist society. Far from leading them to abandon special work among women under capitalism, however, this position encouraged them to pursue it more ardently in the knowledge that “the success of the revolution depends upon how many women take part in it” (Lenin).

As early as 1899 Lenin insisted that Clause 9 of the first draft program of the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party (RSDLP) contain the words: “establishment of complete equality of rights between men and women.” The program adopted by the Second Congress of the RSDLP in 1903 included this demand as well as the following special provisions:

“With a view to safeguarding the working class from physical and moral degeneration, and also with the view to promoting its capacity for waging a struggle for liberation, women should not be employed in industries harmful to the female organism, they should receive four weeks’ paid pre-natal and six weeks’ post-natal leave; all enterprises employing women should have nurseries for babies and small children, nursing mothers should be allowed to leave their work for at least half an hour at intervals of not longer than three hours, and male factory inspectors should be replaced by women in industries with a female labor force.”

VKP(b) v rezoliutsiiakh, quoted in William M. Mandel, “Soviet Women and Their Self-Image”

Throughout the entire pre-revolutionary period the Bolsheviks pressed their demands for complete sexual equality as they carried out educational and organizational work among women through every possible vehicle—cultural and educational organizations, evening schools, trade unions. Centers of Bolshevik agitation and propaganda also took the form of women’s clubs. In 1907, such a club was opened in St. Petersburg under the name “The Working Women’s Mutual Aid Society,” while in Moscow a similar club was called “The Third Women’s Club.”

Through this special work the Bolsheviks were able to recruit many working women to communist politics. One of these recruits, Alexandra Artiukhina, later recalled:

“When we began to attend the Sunday and evening schools, we began to make use of books from the library and we learned of the great Russian democrat, Chernyshevsky. Secretly, we read his book, What Is to Be Done? and we found the image of the woman of the future, Vera Pavlovna, very attractive.

“The foremost democratic intelligentsia of our time played a considerable role in our enlightenment, in the growth of revolutionary attitudes and in women’s realization of their human dignity and their role in public. They acquainted us with the names of Russian revolutionary women, like Sofia Perovskaya and  Vera Figner.

“Later, in underground political circles, we read the works of Marx, Engels and Lenin. We understood that the enslavement of women occurred together with the establishment of private ownership of the means of production and the beginning of exploitation of man by man and that real equality and real freedom for women would be found only in socialism, where there would be no exploitation of man by man. Therefore, the most reliable path for the liberation of women was the path of political struggle against capitalism in the ranks of the proletariat.”

— A. Artiukhina, “Proidennyi put,” in A. Artiukhina et al. (eds.), Zhenshchina v revoliutsii

Women and the War

The outbreak of World War I in 1914 precipitated a dramatic transformation in the lives of Russian women, ripping them away from their private family roles and throwing them into entirely new social roles in factories, hospitals, at the front and in the streets.

During the very first months of the war, military mobilizations took approximately 40 percent of Russian working men out of industrial jobs, many of which had to be filled by women. Between 1913 and 1917 the percentage of women working in the metal trades in Petrograd rose from 3.2 percent to 20.3 percent. In the woodworking industries, the number of women increased sevenfold. In papermaking, printing and the preparation of animal products and foodstuffs their number doubled.

This entrance of large numbers of Russian women into industrial production was a profoundly progressive step because it laid the basis for their economic and political organization. By the time of the October Revolution, women constituted about ten percent of the membership of the Bolshevik Party and were represented at every level of the party organization.

While many female comrades took a special interest in party work among women, it was always clear that this important arena of work was the responsibility of the party as a whole and not solely of the women within it. This Bolshevik refusal to differentiate political functioning on the basis of sex is also illustrated by the fact that neither in the party nor in its youth section did women ever constitute a male exclusionist faction or caucus. There were, at times, women’s commissions and departments to oversee special work among women, but these always remained under the control of higher party bodies composed of comrades of both sexes.

The absence of women’s caucuses was not, of course, an indication that the party was entirely free of sexist attitudes; only that the struggle against such attitudes was carried out by the party as a whole on the basis of communist consciousness, which was expected to transcend sexual distinctions.

One of the foremost Bolshevik leaders in the struggle against reactionary attitudes toward women within the party was V.I. Lenin. In an interview with  Clara Zetkin of the German Social Democratic Party, he said:

“…Unfortunately it is still true to say of many of our comrades ‘scratch a Communist and find a Philistine.’ Of course you must scratch the sensitive spot, their mentality as regards women. Could there be a more damning proof of this than the calm acquiescence of men who see how women grow worn out in petty, monotonous household work, their strength and time dissipated and wasted, their minds growing narrow and stale, their hearts beating slowly, their will weakened? Of course, I am not speaking of the ladies of the bourgeoisie who shove onto servants the responsibilities for all household work, including the care of children. What I am saying applies to the overwhelming majority of women, to the wives of workers and to those who stand all day in a factory.

“So few men—even among the proletariat—realize how much effort and trouble they could save women, even quite do away with, if they were to lend a hand in ‘women’s work.’ But no, that is contrary to the ‘right and dignity of a man.’ They want their peace and comfort. The home life of the woman is a daily sacrifice to a thousand unimportant trivialities. The old master-right of the man still lives in secret. His slave takes her revenge, also secretly. The backwardness of women, their lack of understanding for the revolutionary ideals of the man, decrease his joy and determination in fighting. They are like little worms which, unseen, slowly but surely rot and corrode. I know the life of the worker and not only from books. Our Communist work among the women, our political work, embraces a great deal of educational work among men. We must root out the old ‘master’ idea to its last and smallest trace. In the Party and among the masses. That is one of our political tasks, just as it is the urgently necessary task of forming a staff of men and women well trained in theory and practice, to carry on Party activity among working women.”

— Clara Zetkin, Reminiscences of Lenin

International Women’s Day

A great deal of radical agitation and propaganda among working women centered around the observance of International Women’s Day, a proletarian women’s holiday which had originated in 1908 among the female needle trades workers in Manhattan’s Lower East Side and which was later officially adopted by the Second International.

The holiday was first celebrated in Russia on February 23, 1913, and the Bolshevik newspaper, Pravda, devoted a great deal of space to publicizing it. Beginning in January, Pravda initiated a special column entitled “Labor and the Life of the Working Woman,” which provided information about the various meetings and rallies held in preparation for the holiday and about the resolutions which were passed at them.

The first International Women’s Day in Russia drew tremendous attention in St. Petersburg and Moscow. Pravda published a special holiday edition, greeting the working women and congratulating them upon entering the ranks of the fighting proletariat. In opposition to the Mensheviks, who wanted the celebration of International Women’s Day confined to women, the Bolsheviks insisted that it was a holiday of the entire working class. Bolshevik speakers around the country took the opportunity to put forward the Marxist analysis of the oppression of women and to explain the Party’s strategy for women’s liberation through socialist revolution.

Bolshevik work among women was so successful in fact that by the winter of 1913 Pravda was receiving more correspondence than it could handle on the special problems facing working women. The solution, Lenin urged, was another journal aimed specifically at proletarian women. It was entitled  Rabotnitsa (The Working Woman). Rabotnitsa played a crucial role in organizing women and rallying them to the Bolshevik Party. (For a detailed account of its development, see  “How the Bolsheviks Organized Working Women: History of the Journal Rabotnitsa,” Women and Revolution No. 4, Fall 1973.)

The Bolsheviks’ major political competitors, the Mensheviks, attempted to counter the influence of Rabotnitsa with a women’s journal of their own called Golos Rabotnitsi (Voice of the Working Woman), but it appeared only twice and failed to win much support.

Menshevik attempts to organize women through mass meetings seem to have fared badly also. Klavdia Nikolaevna, who later became an editor of Rabotnitsa, described one such meeting as follows:

“At the meeting there were many women and frontline soldiers. Suddenly, a group of Bolshevik working women burst into the hall and pushed their way to the speakers’ platform. The first and second to reach the platform collided with it, but the third was able to gain a foothold on it, and she made such a fiery speech about the aims of the revolution, that all the women and soldiers left the meeting singing the ‘International’ and only one Menshevik was left in the auditorium.”

[LOL! Sounds like a typical Spartacist League intervention in an ORO‘s meeting – IWPCHI]

— K. Nikolaevna, “Slovo k molodim rabotnitsam,” A. Artiukhina et al. (eds.), Zhenshchina v revoliutsii

“The First Day of the Revolution—That Is the Women’s Day”

As the war dragged on, the daily life of the Russian working class grew steadily worse. By 1916, bread lines in Petrograd were often over a mile long with the women, who constituted the great majority of them, standing four abreast. In this situation of massive social unrest, the intervention of the Bolsheviks, who placed the blame for the war and the high cost of living squarely on the shoulders of the autocracy, evoked a deep response from the war-weary masses. The Bolshevik slogan, “Bring back our men!” was frequently found scrawled across factory walls, and Bolshevik proclamations, such as the following, appeared in underground newspapers and were posted on walls:

“The black scourge of war has destroyed…our workers’ organizations…. The government has dealt treacherously with our deputies—class-conscious working women and working men—and our sons, husbands and brothers are bleeding profusely on foreign fields, paying with their lives to procure new markets, new lands for triumphant capital….

“Thus is it possible not to raise our voices in protest, the voices of hundreds of thousands of unfortunate mothers, wives and sisters, is it possible that we will shed only inaudible tears, sigh only secret sighs for the pain of the men? This cannot be, comrade working women. In all countries workers are rising up against their oppression by capital; we rise up and our voices demonstrate that we are also able to defend our children, husbands and brothers….

“Enough bloodshed! Down with the war! A people’s court for the criminal autocratic government.”

— Bolshevik International Women’s Day proclamation (23 February 1915), quoted in A. P. Konstantinov and E. P. Serebrovskaia (eds.), Zhenshchiny Goroda Lenina

Pitirim Sorokin, who was an eyewitness to the February Revolution, has written:

“If future historians look for the group that began the Russian Revolution, let him [sic] not create any involved theory. The Russian Revolution was begun by hungry women and children demanding bread and herrings.”

—Pitirim Sorokin, Leaves from a Russian Diary

Sorokin is correct in pointing out the importance of the women in the streets in the series of events which led to the downfall of the autocracy, but this is only half the story.

Street demonstrations by women had been occurring in the major cities for several months, but they had generally been no more than local disturbances leading at most to the looting of one or two shops. The demonstrations of 23 February—International Women’s Day—1917 were of another order. These were massive city-wide actions involving thousands of people who struck their factories, raised political banners, turned over railroad cars and attacked the police who attempted to restrain them.

All radical parties had intended to celebrate International Women’s Day in the customary manner—that is, with rallies, speeches and the distribution of leaflets. Not a single organization had called for labor strikes. When on the eve of the holiday a group of working women met with a representative of the Bolshevik Party, V. Kayurov, to discuss the next day’s activities, he specifically cautioned them to refrain from isolated actions and to follow the instructions of the party.

Despite his advice, however, a few hundred women textile workers assembled in their factories early on the morning of the 23rd and resolved to call a one-day political strike. They elected delegates and sent them around to neighboring factories with appeals for support. Kayurov happened to be engaged in an emergency conference with four workers in the corridor of the Erikson Works when the women delegates came through that plant. It was only by this chance encounter that the Bolshevik representative learned of the forthcoming strike action. He was furious:

“I was extremely indignant about the behavior of the strikers, both because they had blatantly ignored the decision of the District Committee of the Party, and also because they had gone on strike after I had appealed to them only the night before to keep cool and disciplined. There appeared to be no reason for their action, if one discounted the ever-increasing bread queues, which had indeed touched off the strike.”

— V. Kayurov, Proletarskaia Revoliutsia No. 1, 1923, quoted in George Katkov, Russia 1917: The February Revolution

The strike was thus unauthorized by any political group. It was, as Trotsky said, “a revolution begun from below, overcoming the resistance of its own revolutionary organizations, the initiative being taken of their own accord by the most oppressed and downtrodden part of the proletariat—the women textile workers, among them no doubt, many soldiers’ wives.”

By noon of the 23rd an estimated 90,000 workers had followed the working women out on strike. “With reluctance,” writes Kayurov, “the Bolsheviks agreed to this.”

As the striking workers, who came mostly from the Viborg District on the north side of the city, began their march into the center, they were joined by thousands of women who had been standing all morning in the bread lines, only to be informed that there was to be no bread in the shops on that day. Together they made their way to the Municipal Duma to demand bread.

For the remainder of the day the streets swarmed with people. Spontaneous meetings were held everywhere, and here and there hastily improvised red banners rose above the crowd, demanding bread, peace and higher wages. Other demands were scrawled on the sides of streetcars: “Give us bread!” and “No bread, no work!” One woman streetcar conductor later recalled:

“…When we conductors turned in our money for the night, we saw soldiers with rifles standing to one side of the gate, and on the following day they were still in the conductors’ room and walking about the yard. Leonov [a Bolshevik who had been one of the leaders of a successful streetcar conductors’ strike the previous year] quietly said to us: ‘This is all for us; you see today in Petrograd 200,000 workers are on strike!’

“We began to leave the yard to embark in the municipal streetcars when suddenly we saw a crowd of workers coming at us, shouting: ‘Open the gate to the yard!’ There were 700 people. They stood on the rails and on the steps of the Gornyi Museum opposite the yard. The workers were from a pipe plant, a tannery and a paper factory. They told us that today all the plants in our city were on strike and the streetcars were not running. The strikers were taking the streetcar drivers out of the hands of management. From all sides we heard: ‘Down with the war!’ ‘Bread!’ and a woman shouted: ‘Return our husbands from the front!’

“The strikers swept over the city. A demonstration of workers from the Putilov Factory marched to the center of the city and into it, like a flood, merged again and again the crowds of workers….”

— K. Iakovlevoi in Vsegda s Vami: Sbornik posviashchennyi 50-letiiu zhurnala “Rabotnitsa”

All in all, the day passed with relatively little violence. A few troops were called out to assist the police, but it was determined that they were unnecessary, and they were returned to their barracks. In the evening the audience at the long-awaited premiere of Meyerhold’s production of “Lermontov’s Masquerade” heard some gunshots through the red and gold drapes of the Alexandrinskii Theater, but there were no casualties and no one suspected that anything especially out of the ordinary was taking place.

They were mistaken. During the days which followed, the general agitation not only continued but assumed an ever more violent character until the hollow shell of the once-powerful Romanov dynasty crumbled.

One week after the strike which had setoff this chain of events Pravda editorialized:

“The first day of the revolution—that is the women’s day, the day of the Women Workers’ International. All honour to the International! The women were the fist to tread the streets of Petrograd on their day.”

— Fanina W. Halle, Women in Soviet Russia

Toward October

“The Tasks of the Proletariat in Our Revolution: Draft Platform for the Proletarian Party, “ written immediately upon Lenin’s return to Russia in April 1917, stated:

“Unless women are brought to take an independent part not only in political life generally, but also in daily and universal public service, it is no use talking about full and stable democracy; let alone socialism. And such ‘police’ functions as care of the sick and of homeless children, food inspection, etc., will never be satisfactorily discharged until women are on an equal footing with men, not merely nominally but in reality.”

— V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 24

Throughout the spring and summer of 1917 the Bolsheviks intensified their work among women. The first working women’s conference, which took place at Lenin’s suggestion and which was attended by Mensheviks, Social Revolutionaries and feminists as well as Bolsheviks, demonstrated the influence which the Bolsheviks had gained among working women.

In her address to the conference, Konkordiia Samoilova, a leading member of the Bolshevik Party, proposed that all political work among women in industry be carried out henceforth under the guidance of Bolshevik organizations. Naturally, this proposal met with the fierce resistance of the representatives of other radical organizations. A Menshevik, Bakasheva, argued that the women’s movement was independent and must not be subordinated to the influence of any political party. But although three or four women expressed solidarity with the Menshevik resolution affirming the non-partisan character of the women’s movement, it was defeated, while Samoilova’s proposal for Bolshevik leadership was accepted.

Under the mounting pressure of events in the months preceding October, animosities on the left became more intense than ever. In July an abortive uprising took place. Although the Bolsheviks had counseled against such a move at this time, when the class lines were drawn they took their places in the front ranks of the proletariat. A Russian working woman recalls:

“I remember how we went to the July demonstration. Our organized working men and working women arose under the Bolshevik signs. Loudly and mightily our voices resounded: ‘We who were nothing and have become everything shall construct a new and better world.’

“As the demonstration approached the corner of Nevsky and Sadova, machine-gun fire was heard. People ran to the sidewalks, but, since the doormen all along the Nevsky had closed the gates, there was nowhere to escape, and the shooting continued. The Nevsky was strewn with the bodies of the demonstrators. At a corner of the Nevsky, a store was located on the basement level. When the machine-gun fire began, we descended a short flight of stairs to the door of the shop, which was closed. Working women disassembled the window pane and, helping each other, got into the shop and ran out through a dark passage into a yard and from there through an alley back again to the Nevsky.

“The streets of Petrograd were running with the blood of workers and soldiers….we buried them in a communal grave.

“When on the morning of July 5, 1917 we returned to our plant, ‘Novi Promet,’ it was as if we did not know our coworkers. During the course of our two-day absence, the Mensheviks and SRs had spread the foul slander that the Bolsheviks were fully responsible for the shooting down of the workers. The atmosphere was tense. When we entered the shop, many working women jumped up and began to throw aluminum nuts with very sharp edges at us. I was taken by surprise and covered my face with my hands, and my attackers kept repeating:

“‘Take that, Bolshevik spy!’

“‘What are you doing? The Bolsheviks gave their lives for the working class and you listen to the Mensheviks and SRS, the murderers of the working class….’

“The working women, seeing my face running with blood, became frightened. Someone brought water, iodine, a towel. The girls from my brigade were in a flood of tears. They told me how the Menshevik Bakasheva and others had set them against the Bolsheviks.

“The wavering of working women became apparent not only in our plant but also in other Petrograd enterprises during the July Days, when counterrevolutionary scum together with the Mensheviks and SRs carried on their filthy persecution of the Bolsheviks. The Mensheviks and SRs had started down the path of open counterrevolution.”

— E. Tarasova, “Pod znamenem Bolshevikov,” in A. Artiukhina et al. (eds.), Zhenshchiny v revoliutsii

In the final weeks before October, the Bolshevik Party made an all-out effort to consolidate the support of the working women and enlist them in the imminent struggle. Party committees held working women’s conferences at which they explained the problems of the party, dispelled the wild rumors which abounded, attacked counterrevolutionary positions and generally tried to raise class-consciousness among the women and draw them into revolutionary activity.

Coinciding with the October Revolution itself was the First All-City Conference of Petrograd Working Women, which was organized by Rabotnitsa and attended by 500 delegates elected by 80,000 working women. A major goal of the conference was to prepare non-party women for the coming uprising and to acquaint them with the program which the new Soviet government would pursue after victory. The women discussed various questions of government and worked out plans for the welfare of mothers.

The conference was temporarily interrupted by the outbreak of the armed uprising which had been under discussion. The delegates recessed in order to participate in the revolutionary struggle along with many other women who bore arms, dug entrenchments, stood guard and nursed the wounded. Afterward Lenin was to say of them:

“In Petrograd, here in Moscow, in cities and industrial centers, and out in the country, proletarian women have stood the test magnificently in the revolution. Without them we should not have won, or just barely won. That is my view. How brave they were, how brave they still are! Just imagine all the sufferings and privations that they bear. And they hold out because they want freedom, communism. Yes, indeed, our proletarian women are magnificent class warriors. They deserve admiration and love….”

— V. I. Lenin, quoted in Fanina W. Halle, Women in Soviet Russia

Few people today, even among those who take a special interest in the history of women, have ever heard of the Russian League of Equal Rights for Women. Yet in the days following the February revolution it was this organization, a branch of  Carrie Chapman Catt’s International Suffrage Alliance, to which feminists in Russia and around the world looked for leadership in the struggle for women’s liberation.

From its headquarters at 20 Znamenskaia Street in Petrograd the League waged an ardent struggle for women’s rights—principally suffrage—through rallies, leaflets, newspaper articles and earnest petitions such as the following:

“Defending the interests of women and maintaining that the realization of peace among the people will be incomplete without the full equality of women and men, the Russian League of Equal Rights for Women appeals to all women of all professions and calls upon them to join the League in order to quickly realize in practice the great idea of complete equality of the sexes before the law.

“In Unity there is Strength.”

Den’, 9 March 1917

On 15 April 1917 the League witnessed the realization of its long-sought goal as the Provisional Government granted all women over the age of 20 the right to participate in Duma elections. Over the next four months additional legislation enabled women to practice law, elect delegates to the forthcoming Constituent Assembly, run for election themselves, hold government posts and vote in all provincial and municipal elections. Social Revolutionary leader Catherine Breshkovskaia (later to be dubbed by Trotsky the “Godmother of the Russian Counterrevolution”) wrote in exultation to the National American Woman Suffrage Association:

“I am happy to say that the ‘Women’s Journal’ can be sure we Russian women have already the rights (over all our country) belonging to all citizens, and the elections which are taking place now, over all our provinces, are performed together by men and women. Neither our government nor our people have a word to say against the woman suffrage.”

— Catherine Breshkovskaia, letter to the National American Woman Suffrage Association, 20 May 1917

It is notable, then, that the victorious Russian League has been relegated to historical near-oblivion, while the Bolshevik Party is universally acknowledged—even by staunch anti-communists—as the instrument by means of which Russian women achieved an unparalleled degree of social equality. And this is as it should be, for in fact the League’s paper victory had virtually no practical significance for the masses of Russian women. Not only did the new equal rights statutes leave untouched the most urgent problems of daily life—such as widespread starvation—but such reforms as were guaranteed were implemented, as in the West, in a purely tokenistic fashion. American newspaper reporter Bessie Beatty, who attended a Provisional Government political convention in Petrograd during this period, noted that of the 1,600 delegates in attendance only 23 were women. Not that women were absent from the proceedings; far from it. Numerous women served tea, caviar and sandwiches, ushered men to their seats, took stenographic notes and counted ballots. “It was so natural,” said Beatty, “that it almost made me homesick.”

Bolshevik Pledge: Full Social Equality for Women

Lenin had pledged that “the first dictatorship of the proletariat will be the pioneer in full social equality for women. It will radically destroy more prejudices than volumes of women’s rights.” With the Soviet seizure of state power and in the very teeth of the bitter struggle against counterrevolution and imperialist intervention the Bolsheviks proved their determination to honor this pledge.

The very first pieces of legislation enacted by the new Soviet government were directed at the emancipation of women in a way which far exceeded the reformist demands of the suffragists. The aim of this legislation was the replacement of the nuclear family as a social/economic unit through the socialization of household labor and the equalization of educational and vocational opportunities. These two goals were key to the undermining of the capitalist social order and to the construction of the new society.

In December 1917 illegitimacy was abolished in law, making fathers, whether married or not, coresponsible for their children and freeing mothers from the burden of a double standard which had punished them for the consequences of shared “mistakes.” Subsequent legislation declared marriage to be a contract between free and equal individuals which could be dissolved at the request of either partner, established hundreds of institutions devoted to the care of mothers and children, legalized abortions, assured equal pay for equal work and opened up unheard of opportunities for women in industry, the professions, the party and government. And this legislation was backed by government action. Thus when Soviet working women, like working women in other countries, began to lose their jobs to soldiers returning from the front, the Petrograd Council of Trade Unions addressed the following appeal to all workers and factory committees:

“The question of how to combat unemployment has come sharply before the unions. In many factories and shops the question is being solved very simply…fire the women and put men in their places. With the transfer of power to the Soviets, the working class is given a chance to reorganize our national economy on a new basis. Does such action correspond with this new basis?… The only effective measure against unemployment is the restoration of the productive powers of the country, reorganization on a socialist basis. During the time of crisis, with the cutting down of workers in factories and shops, we must approach the question of dismissal with the greatest care. We must decide each case individually. There can be no question of whether the worker is a man or a woman, but simply of the degree of need…. Only such an attitude will make it possible for us to retain women in our organization, and prevent a split in the army of workers….”

— Petrograd Council of Trade Unions, April 1918, quoted in Jessica Smith, Women in Soviet Russia

This petition was supported by other unions and government organizations, and mass dismissals of women from Soviet industry were in fact checked. Three years later, during another period of widespread layoffs, the government issued a decree providing that in cases where male and female workers were equally qualified they were to be given equal consideration in retaining their jobs, with the exception that single women with children under one year of age were to be given preference. In the event that such women had to be laid off, their children had the right to continue to attend the factory nursery or kindergarten. It was further stipulated that neither pregnancy nor the fact that a woman was nursing a baby could serve as cause for dismissal, nor was it permitted to dismiss a woman worker during a leave of absence for childbirth.

Surveying the Soviet government’s work among women during its first two years Lenin was able to conclude that:

“A complete Revolution in the legislation affecting women was brought about by the government of the workers in the first months of its existence. The Soviet government has not left a stone unturned of those laws which held women in complete subjection. I speak particularly of the laws which took advantage of the weaker position of woman, leaving her in an unequal and often even degrading position—that is, the laws on divorce and children born out of wedlock, and the right of women to sue the father for the support of the child…. And we may now say with pride and without any exaggeration that outside of Soviet Russia there is not a country in the world where women have been given full equal rights, where women are not in a humiliating position which is felt especially in everyday family life. This was one of our first and most important tasks….

“Certainly laws alone are not enough, and we will not for a minute be satisfied just with decrees. But in the legal field we have done everything required to put women on an equal basis with men, and we have a right to be proud of that. The legal position of women in Soviet Russia is ideal from the point of view of the foremost countries. But we tell ourselves plainly that this is only the beginning.”

— V. I. Lenin, quoted in Jessica Smith, Women in Soviet Russia

Zhenotdel

The transition was not an easy one for women (or for men), particularly in rural areas and in the Muslim East. Appreciating the difficulties which women had to overcome in breaking from reactionary traditions, the Central Committee of the Bolshevik Party, although it was caught up in the turmoil of civil war, gave additional impetus to its work among women by calling for an All-Russian Conference of Working Women and Peasant Women to take place in Moscow in November 1918. This conference was preceded by the establishment of a bureau of convocation which sent agitators throughout the country, including frontline regions, to inform women about the forthcoming conference and to facilitate the election of delegates. Given the desperate conditions which prevailed, it was estimated that approximately 300 delegates would attend, but at the opening of the first session on November 16, 1,147 women delegates were seated.

Conference discussions addressed a variety of questions, including the problems of working women in Soviet Russia, the family, welfare, the role of women in the international revolution, organizational problems, the struggle against prostitution in Soviet Russia, the struggle against child labor and the housing question.

While affirming in principle that the struggle for communism and women’s emancipation could succeed only through the united struggle of all sections of the working class and peasantry, and not through the building of an autonomous women’s movement, the delegates also noted that women were often the least conscious elements in these sections and the most in need of special attention. In the light of this approach to special work among women, which had been developed by the German Social Democratic Party and carried forward by the Bolsheviks in the prerevolutionary period, delegates to the conference affirmed the proposal by Bolshevik leaders Inessa Armand and Konkordiia Samoilova that the conference appeal to the party “to organize from among the most active working women of the party special groups for propaganda and agitation among women in order to put the idea of communism into practice.” The Bolsheviks’ response was the creation of a Central Committee commission headed by Armand for work among women. It was succeeded the following year by the Department of Working Women and Peasant Women— Zhenotdel.

Zhenotdel was to become a major vehicle for the recruitment of women to the Bolshevik Party; but its primary purpose was not recruitment but the instruction of non-party women in the utilization of their newly-won rights, the deepening of their political awareness and the winning of their cooperation for the construction of the proletarian state.

While special work among women was carried out by many agencies, Zhenotdel was unique in that it offered women practical political experience. In annual elections women chose their delegates—one for every ten working women or for every hundred peasant women or housewives. These delegates attended classes in reading and writing, government, women’s rights and social welfare, and they took part in the organization of conferences, meetings and interviews designed to arouse the interest of their constituents and draw them into political activity. They were entitled to representation on the Central Committee of the Bolshevik Party, and those who were elected to represent Zhenotdel pursued a special program of political education which included reviewing the reports of district committees, co-ops, trade unions and factory directors. Some Zhenotdel delegates became full-time paid functionaries in government institutions or trade unions where they participated directly in the administration of the government.

Zhenotdel carried out extensive propaganda campaigns through its publications. By 1921, it was publishing a special page devoted to women in 74 weekly newspapers. In addition, it published its own weekly bulletin and the monthly journal Kommunistka (The Communist Woman), which had a circulation of 30,000. In addition, Zhenotdel’s literary commission supervised the publication of leaflets and pamphlets dealing with party work among women—over 400,000 pieces of literature during the first six months of 1921 alone.

Finding themselves confronted at every step by the enormous barrier of illiteracy among women, Zhenotdel delegates threw themselves into the work of organizing over 25,000 literacy schools in which they themselves were often the majority of the students. They also set up co-operative workshops for women, organized women who had been laid off from factories and established orphanages and colonies for homeless children.

Within a few years Zhenotdel had succeeded in creating out of the most backward sector of the working class and peasantry an organized, active, politically conscious stratum of women citizens devoted to the Soviet republic. Of these astonishing women delegates the Russian poet Mayakovsky wrote:

“They come

From the machines

From the land and washtubs

Under red kerchiefs

Tucking in the strands,

Hundreds of thousands

Of women-delegates

Chosen

To build and govern.”

— Quoted in V. Lebedeva, “Zabota o materiakh i detiakh,” in A. Artiukhina et al. (eds. Zhenshchina v revoliutsii)

Women Rally to Soviet State

While the Soviet regime had its detractors, even among working women in the major cities, all evidence indicates that the great majority of working women, for whom there could be no going back to the life they had known under the old regime, remained loyal to the government through famine, epidemic and Civil War. Wearing red head bands, women marched through the streets of Petrograd, during its darkest days, singing that although typhus and counterrevolution were everywhere, the world revolution was bound to save them. One woman who spoke for many wrote:

“I am the wife of a Petrograd worker. Earlier I was in no way useful to the working class. I could not work.

“I sat at home, suffocating in the cellar and preparing dinner from garbage which the bourgeoisie had not found fit to eat.

“When working class rule began, l heard the call for us ourselves to rule and build our lives. Well, I thought, how can the generals and their daughters have yielded their places to us? I began to listen….

“They chose me for a Kalachinska District conference. I learned a great deal there. A literacy instructor was assigned to me….

“If life is difficult for us now, all of us will bear it and not one will give the bourgeoisie reason to celebrate that they can again keep all the people in chains. We may suffer for a while, but to our children we will leave an inheritance which neither moth will eat nor rust will corrode. And we shall all support strong soviet rule and the Communist Party.”

—V. Tsurik, Bednota

But the clearest indication of support for the Soviet government was the enthusiasm with which women took up arms against the counterrevolution. Soviet women were members of Red Guard units from the first days of the October Revolution, and they fought side by side with men on every front during the Civil War. Like women in bourgeois countries, they initially volunteered as nurses, with the difference—as Alexandra Kollontai points out—that they regarded the soldiers not merely as “our poor soldier boys,” but as comrades in struggle. Soon, however, they became scouts, engineers of armored trains, cavalry soldiers, communications specialists, machine-gunners and guerrillas. They also took the initiative in forming “stopping detachments,” which captured deserters and persuaded them, whenever possible, to return to their positions. Lenin praised these detachments, saying: “Smash the traitors ruthlessly and put them to shame: Eighty thousand women—this is no trifling military force. Be steadfast in the revolutionary struggle.”

When the fighting ended, an estimated 1,854 women soldiers had been killed or wounded and many more taken prisoner. Sixty-three women were awarded the Order of the Red Banner for military heroism.

The Work Goes Forward

By 1921 it appeared as if a wholly new type of woman was about to make her appearance in Soviet Russia. According to Alexandra Kollontai’s personal ideal, this woman would be self-supporting and would live alone; she would take part in social and political work and would engage freely in sexual love; her meals would be eaten in a communal restaurant; her children would be happy in a state nursery and her home would be cleaned, her laundry done and her clothes mended by state workers. Other communists cherished other visions of the fully emancipated socialist woman, but for all of them the future was full of promise—so much had been accomplished already.

It was too early to know that just ahead lay bitter defeats for Soviet women, for the Soviet working class as a whole and for the international proletarian revolution. The bureaucratic degeneration of the Soviet state, which arose in the first instance out of the backwardness, isolation and poverty of post-revolutionary Russia and out of the failure of proletarian revolutions in the technologically advanced countries of Western Europe, constitutes another chapter. The privileged, conservative bureaucratic caste which emerged out of these conditions reversed at will many of the gains which women had achieved through the Revolution: abortion was illegalized; the women’s section of the party was liquidated; coeducation was abolished; divorce was made less accessible; and women were once again encouraged to assume their “natural” tasks of domestic labor and child rearing within the confines of the oppressive family:

But despite these defeats, the lessons of Bolshevik work among women have not been lost to succeeding generations of revolutionists, and the work goes forward. Just as Kollontai pointed out to Bessie Beatty during the first flush of the Soviet victory: “Even if we are conquered, we have done great things. We are breaking the way….”