Karl Radek

The Paths of the
Russian Revolution


The period from October 1917 to March 1921 is described by our opponents as the period of the realisation of Communism in Russia. For this then allows them to talk about the bankruptcy of Communism starting from the beginning of 1921. To refute this legend I will first of all quote a long extract from an article on the general situation in Russia which I wrote in December 1919 in prison in Berlin, which was then published in the Berlin edition of The Communist International under the pseudonym of ‘Struthan’. This quotation is worth more than a description after the event of this chapter in the history of the Russian Revolution, for we well know that we are always wiser after the event. This is what I wrote in December 1919:

‘When the Russian working class took power in October 1917, neither the bourgeois nor the Socialist world thought that it would be able to hold on to state power for two months, let alone for two years. If German imperialism negotiated with Soviet Russia this is because it was forced to do so by the situation in which it found itself as a result of the war; it wanted to conclude peace in the East, even with so provisional a government, convinced, and moreover correctly, that even if the Bolsheviks disappeared, no party and government could mobilise the peasants in the foresee le future. But Soviet Russia had to conclude peace, not only because it no longer had any army, but also because it could only become a reality by obtaining a momentary respite; at the time of the Brest negotiations [33] the Soviet government only represented a programme, it only existed in the declarations of the decrees of the people’s commissars. Even Tsarist absolutism had not been completely destroyed in its lower organs, and feudal landed property had not been eliminated. Soviet forms of government in country and state still appeared to be an experiment, and not an organic reality. The Bolshevik government had a choice: either to conduct as a government a revolutionary partisan struggle, a guerrilla war beginning from the Urals with the help of the Allies against German imperialism and allow the restoration of Russian capital under the protection of German bayonets; or to climb the path of Golgotha to Brest, and at the cost of national humiliation to give priority to the task of overthrowing the bourgeoisie and organising the proletariat.

‘As for the “Independent” [34] German imbeciles who now talk about the illusory foreign policy of the Soviet government, after having accused the Bolsheviks of “disorganising” the Russian army and that after their own November experience [35], there is naturally nothing to do for these bankrupt Wilsonians. [36] The correctness of the policy of the Soviet government, which was convinced that the process of the decomposition of world imperialism would not be halted, but accelerated by the Brest peace, is proved by the reality of its success; the Brest-Litovsk torturers are lying helpless in the ditch, and the Soviet Union has succeeded in getting itself together and reorganising itself between two rocks, between the devil and the deep blue sea, as the English put it; and by the fact that only a year after the fall of German imperialism it extracted from the representatives of the imperialism of the victorious Entente the admission that Bolshevism cannot be beaten by weapons. The Brest peace, which in spite of its robber character, had a positive significance for the Soviet Union because it put an end to the Great War, was not imposed by the Soviet Union thanks to its own strength; nor was it the German workers who imposed it; the Brest peace was achieved by the pressure of the armies of the Entente in the West. Even if the imperialism of the victorious Entente now concluded a yet more rapacious peace with Soviet Russia, this peace, by allowing the Soviet Union the possibility of existing, would be a rupture, a breach in the system of capitalist states; this peace would then in fact be the result of the resistance effected by the Soviet Union thanks to its own strength, the result of the help afforded it by the world proletariat. But why should the Soviet Union, which cannot be destroyed by weapons, have to conclude a compromise peace with the Entente? Why should it not await, arms in hand, the time when the decomposition of Entente capitalism would be so far advanced that it would be obliged to assure it an honourable peace?

‘The reply to this question is simple: During the world war, whilst the criminal policy of all the imperialist states was making it drag on at length, we could count upon a rapid catastrophe of world capitalism, on the uprising of the popular masses in several countries, if the slaughter did not allow them any other way out. At the time of the conclusion of the Brest peace, the Soviet government estimated that the pause that this peace allowed it would be of short duration; we thought then either that the world revolution would soon break out and save Soviet Russia, or that it would rapidly go under in an unequal struggle. The conception of the Bolsheviks corresponded to the then situation.

‘The collapse of German imperialism, the inability of the Allies to overthrow Soviet Russia militarily, as well as the fact that the world war has provisionally ended, that the crisis of demobilisation has been overcome, the fact that the world revolution has triumphed over capitalism not in the form of an explosion, but by disorganisation, in other words as a long drawn out process, all this completely changes the situation and conditions of the foreign policy of the Soviet government. It cannot count mechanically upon a rapid liberation, by means of a spontaneous mass movement that will once and for all send to the devil all the Clemenceaus, Lloyd Georges and Wilsons [37] and all that hides behind them, but it can have the mathematical certitude that the process of capitalist decomposition will continue and will ease its position. But because this will be a long drawn out process which it is necessary to take into account, Soviet Russia must seek to find a modus vivendi with the still capitalist states. If the proletarian revolution is triumphant tomorrow in Germany or France, the position of Soviet Russia will be made easier, because two proletarian states, by their economic and armed force, will exercise a far greater pressure upon the capitalist world; they would nevertheless still be interested in concluding peace with the still capitalist states, if only to ensure their economic recovery.

‘Soviet Russia has not allowed itself to be struck down. And we are sure that if the Entente states do not now offer it an acceptable peace, it will continue the struggle, it will undergo hunger, and in the end they will be forced to grant it a more advantageous peace. The overthrow by blockade of a country that has resources like Russia requires a lapse of time which imperialist policy in the Entente countries will not outlive. But it is clear that if Soviet Russia has to prolong the struggle, it could not begin its economic reconstruction. War demands that its weakened forces of production be devoted to arms production, that its best forces be used in war industry, and that its ruined railways be used to transport troops. The necessities of war force the concentrated strength of the state to be centralised into the hands of the executive; they therefore threaten the Soviet system, and a far more important thing, they are threatening in the long run to swallow up the best elements of the working class. The Soviet government has made superhuman efforts to struggle against this. Its achievements in the field of education, in spite of all the obstacles and difficulties, are already astonishing its honest bourgeois opponents – as you can read in Goode’s account in the Manchester Guardian – and in two or three years Soviet Russia will have thousands of new organisational and cultural forces.

‘The March Congress of the Bolshevik Party, whose minutes – a very interesting document – have now appeared, shows to what extent its leaders are taking seriously the dangers of the restoration of the bureaucracy of functionaries and of corruption under new forms. But war is war; it is a source of barbaric destruction, and if you can stop it with sacrifices, it must be stopped. Obviously it is serious if the Russian people must grant mining concessions to English, American and French capitalists, because it would be far better to use these mines itself than to pay tribute. But for as long as it is forced to prosecute the war, it cannot exploit its mines, and it must even throw its miners into the furnace of war. If the only choice was between Socialist economic construction and war against world capital which sets limits to Socialist construction, the only correct decision would be war. But things are not posed in this way. The question to be resolved expresses itself in this way: Socialist construction within the limits of a temporary compromise or war without any economic construction at all.

‘Already in the spring of 1918 the Soviet government had been confronted with the question of economic compromise. When the American Colonel Raymond Robins [38] left Moscow for Washington on 3 May 1918, he carried with him a concrete proposal from the Soviet government laying down conditions for economic concessions. [39] The Assistant People’s Commissar for Commerce and Industry, Bronsky [40], in the course of his first session with the representatives of the German government, presented practical proposals for the collaboration of the Soviet government with German capital. The essentials of the negotiations were confidentially transmitted to Bruce Lockhart (the British representative). [41] In the midst of a world war we could have hoped that an approaching revolutionary explosion would have removed the necessity for such concessions, but basically the policy of concessions had already then been decided upon, and it was largely justified. So long as the proletariat has not triumphed in the principal capitalist states, so long as it is not in a position to utilise all the productive forces of the world for Socialist construction, so long as capitalist states exist alongside proletarian states, the proletarian states will be forced to conclude compromises with them, and there will be neither pure Socialism nor pure capitalism; geographically limited, they would in effect be forced to make reciprocal concessions within their own national territories. The extent of concessions that it is necessary to make to capitalism will depend on the strength and number of the proletarian states. It is impossible to deny the necessity for concessions, unless at the same time you indicate the method that would permit the proletariat to attain victory at one blow in every country.

‘But by recognising the necessity for compromise between the proletarian states and the capitalist states, are we not also recognising the possibility and the necessity for a compromise with capitalism within each state, and consequently does that not mean renouncing the revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat as ways to Socialism? Were not Renner, Bauer [42], Cunow and Kautsky right all the time? Isn’t agreement with capitalism on the basis of democracy definitely the only correct method? Isn’t Communism with its programme of a soviet dictatorship bankrupt? These questions, which have to be thought out and gone into in all frankness and clarity, must first of all be examined historically within the context of the experience of the Russian Revolution; after that it is necessary to see to what extent they can lay claim to international validity.

‘The enemies of Communism, who have come out of the camp of the tottering elements of the defunct Second International, are holding in reserve two stories that are mutually contradictory. According to the first, the whole “soviet theory” has come about only as the product of necessity; it came into existence when it transpired that the elections for the national assembly had not given a majority to the Bolsheviks; this fact therefore forced the Bolsheviks to appear as the proud champions of the proletarian dictatorship. According to the second story, the Bolsheviks came to power as savage representatives of a dictatorship, but then, made wise by their own experiences, they were more and more forced to pour water into their wine. But what do the facts say? Before the revolution of 1905 the Bolsheviks saw in the dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry the historic path that Russia was to follow. Rosa Luxemburg and Trotsky sought to correct this formula by speaking of the dictatorship of the proletariat supported by the peasantry. By this correction they wished to affirm the concept, also admitted by the Bolsheviks, that the urban proletariat would have the leadership in the revolution. The entire camp of which Russian Communism is now made up was in agreement on the fact that in an essentially agrarian country such as Russia, the proletariat must take into consideration the interests of the peasantry, and cannot exclude the peasants from power. When in 1917 the Bolsheviks resolutely engaged in struggle against the peasant party of the Socialist Revolutionaries led by Chernov, they did so not to oppose the interests of the peasants, but on the contrary, to defend them. In fact, by their coalition with the capitalist Cadet party, the leaders of the Socialist Revolutionaries were betraying the interests of the peasants, were holding back the solution of the agrarian problem, and were sacrificing the peasant masses to the war carried on by Russian imperialism. When as a result of this policy the mass of soldiers and peasants went over to the side of the working class and helped the Bolsheviks take power on 25 October 1917, the Bolsheviks offered to share power with their vanquished adversaries; they not only negotiated with the Mensheviks but also with the Socialist Revolutionaries for two weeks after the defeat of Kerensky with a view to forming a coalition government which would form the dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry. The negotiations broke down because the Mensheviks and the Right Socialist Revolutionaries still believed in the victory of the bourgeoisie. The Bolsheviks nonetheless attracted into the government the left wing of the Socialist Revolutionaries, which had separated from its party and was ready to resolve the question of the land and peace by means of a revolutionary dictatorship. [43] The split with this party took place when it transpired that nationalist elements had also taken over in it, and that its intellectual elements, subject to a nationalism with a revolutionary coloration, could not decide for the policy of peace. It was again in defence of the interests of the peasants that the split took place with this peasant party, which more and more lost contact with real life, and was developing into a party of intellectual revolutionary nationalism. The split of the Bolsheviks with the parties that aspired to represent the peasants, but which for the most part were only the intellectual ideologists of the peasantry, never interfered with their insight into the real relationship of forces. On the one hand they tried to gather together an organisation of the village poor, not only the workers who had taken refuge in the villages on account of the famine in the towns and the decay of industry, but also the rural proletarians and the small peasants, in order to allow proletarian interests to break through in the village; and on the other hand they tried more and more to attract the middle peasants onto the side of the proletarian dictatorship through concessions (for example, as regards agricultural cooperatives). He who sees opportunism in this does not understand the ABC of Socialism. Given that capitalism in the form of factory concentrations has nowhere in the world occurred in such a way, and given that there are everywhere millions of small and medium agricultural enterprises, the socialisation of agriculture will everywhere be a very slow process, which will take generations; Socialism will not be instituted there by means of expropriations, but only by the nationalisation of mortgage loans, of trade in cereals and animal feed, of transport and the sale of agricultural machinery, and by all the cultural assistance that the Socialist state could provide for the peasants. The proletariat will everywhere, after its victory over the bourgeoisie, be obliged to compromise with the peasants, because it could only conclude this compromise precisely when it had vanquished the bourgeoisie and the peasants were obliged to consent to this compromise.

‘But was the victory of the working class over the bourgeoisie possible other than by civil war and dictatorship? Was it not possible by means of democracy? The entire history of the Russian Revolution, however, provides a negative answer to this question. The Menshevik policy collapsed because it was impossible by means of peaceful methods not only to expropriate the bourgeoisie, but even to save the popular masses from the jaws of the world war in which only the top section of the bourgeoisie – finance capital and its beneficiaries – was interested. It was necessary to overthrow the bourgeoisie and construct the dictatorship of the popular masses whose interests were concerned with peace before even being able to satisfy the most vital of the elementary interests of the toiling masses. The attempts, whether direct or indirect, of the bourgeoisie and its accomplices to overthrow Soviet power determined with iron necessity the form and content of the measures of the dictatorship. It was necessary to respond by the persecution of the bourgeois press and the saboteurs, etc, to the attempts of the bourgeois intelligentsia supported by the banks to sabotage economic life and the functioning of the machinery of state. This, however, for a certain time involved far more primitive forms of control over production and management until the bourgeois intelligentsia ceased its resistance. In order to smash the attempts of the bourgeoisie to deprive the people of its property by a crime of high treason, to counter the manufacturers, merchants and bankers who sought to shelter behind German protection after the Brest Peace, and place their property in hiding by trying to pass it off as “German” by means of all sorts of fraudulent transactions, it was necessary on the one hand to proceed by methods of intimidation, and on the other hand by measures of rapid nationalisation. To avoid large numbers of industries being sold off to German capital, it was necessary to nationalise them rapidly at the time of the negotiations over the clauses annexed to the Brest Peace, without being able to prepare these radical measures with sufficient care. When the bourgeoisie went over to the side of the Entente once more and began to support all the Entente’s conspiracies – from individual terror to the organisation of revolts – it was necessary to resort to the Red Terror, which only became extensive when the armies of Kolchak and Denikin [44] – equipped by the Entente, but supported by all the capitalist elements in Russia – began open war against Soviet Russia.

In the course of the two years’ history of the dictatorship of the proletariat in Russia there has basically not been a single important measure taken in a doctrinaire fashion, and which has not been the result of necessity. The fall of the Kerensky government stemmed from its utter inability to get Russia out of the bloody deadlock. In fact it was impossible to carry out the most elementary popular interests against the resistance of the bourgeoisie by methods other than dictatorial ones; dictatorship also became a necessity.

‘The Bolsheviks understood this necessity right from the start, and demanded all power to the Soviets from April 1917 onwards. But it was clear that the popular masses could only lose their confidence in the national assembly in the course of a process of struggle against its capitalist policy; moreover, compared with the uncontrolled clique activity of the Kerensky government, the parliamentary tribunal represented a step forward. Because the Kerensky government had adjourned the calling of the national assembly, the Constituent Assembly met at the time when the dictatorship of the proletariat had already been created. What came into the world was a corpse. Nonetheless, it was necessary to allow it to bury itself. If, however, the Soviet government attempted to hasten its burial, this was because it threatened, as the corpse of the Kerensky government, to suck the blood of the people. [45] The Soviet government was engaged in peace negotiations with an unscrupulous enemy; that is why any trifling with the idea of peace in the National Assembly could assist the German military party to break off negotiations for peace, and overthrow the young Soviet Russia that was coming into being. The indifference with which all layers of the population witnessed the burial of the Constituent Assembly showed that it did not have the support of the popular forces. It was a shadow from the past.

‘All those who fellow the history of the Russian Revolution as historians and not as moralists cannot avoid recognising that the policy of the Bolsheviks was a consistent policy, adapted to necessity. All those who study it as revolutionaries cannot avoid recognising it as the only possible revolutionary policy. The Mensheviks themselves recognised it in their declaration on the occasion of the first anniversary of the October Revolution. But there is something more important than this! The only force that could replace the proletarian dictatorship would be the dictatorship of the Russian feudal-capitalist cliques, which could only maintain itself with the aid of the world dictatorship of finance capital. The Russian Revolution can be defeated; the dictatorship of the White generals would then replace the dictatorship of the proletariat. But the Russian Revolution can only triumph as a dictatorship of the proletariat which would lead the popular masses in an assault on capital.

‘Even dying, the Russian proletarian revolution would broadcast to the world proletariat the proclamation of its testament: the dictatorship of the proletariat! And so we come to the final question: will the dictatorship of the proletariat maintain itself by a compromise with world capitalism? We are therefore touching on the question of the limits of the compromise that a workers’ state can make in its foreign policy.’ [46]

‘What are the limits of the economic concessions that Soviet Russia can make?’, I asked in my article:

‘Just as Soviet Russia did not demean itself by becoming a vassal of German imperialism at Brest, so it cannot now demean itself by playing the role of the vassal of Anglo-Saxon imperialism. All through the negotiations carried on by Soviet Russia with the British and German representatives of the imperialist cartel, it did not cease explaining this: the world has been so impoverished by war that any one of the belligerent parties is utterly incapable of satisfying the enormous economic needs of Soviet Russia. Russia must take machines, forces and organisational assistance from wherever it finds them, and at the lowest price. Has the end of the war changed this situation? Germany has collapsed, but its apparatus and its technological knowledge are at a very high level. The Anglo-Saxon countries are victorious, but their economic disorganisation is nonetheless so deep that they are completely incapable of supplying sufficient aid to France and Italy. The tendency to exploit the economic resources of Germany to the maximum is growing in French capitalist circles; this tendency is accentuated still further by the continual lowering of the franc [47] with relation to the shilling and the dollar (a good example of the use of victory and the “solidarity of the victors”). Poland and Czechoslovakia, Entente vassals, are being forced to conclude economic agreements with Germany, to begin with because the aid they are receiving from the Entente is insufficient, and also because no victory can rub out economic links that stem from geographical closeness.

‘To this is added a very important economic fact. The crushing disorganisation of the world capitalist economy means that even if Russia wanted to carry out a short term policy, for example, to acquire goods to begin with, instead of thinking about mobilising its economic forces, it would not obtain these goods in sufficient quantities. It must first of all apply itself to the organisation of its economy with what few means of production it receives from the foreign capitalist. It will then soon have to manufacture on its own soil the necessary machines. If it understands the necessity for this, it must therefore as a priority import from abroad the qualified technical forces that it lacks. Following the ruin of its external relations and the collapse of its economy, Germany disposes of thousands of engineers, chemists and skilled workers wandering about with neither bread nor work who would render considerable service to Soviet Russia in its reconstruction. Naturally Entente journalists will cry out when reading this: “So the Bolsheviks therefore want to help the Germans to rebuild the power of German capital on Russian territory.” These outcries on the new German-Bolshevik link up are as deceitful as the old hue and cry. We are not even offering German capitalism the concessions we are offering Entente capitalism. This is not only because it does not have the strength to extort them from us, but also because it would not know what to do with them. The export of capital is necessary for its expansion. Now Germany has come out of the war a miserable and impoverished country. In vain it begs for credits from America, but it cannot itself go in for any expansion. The German-Russian economic relations that we think necessary, independently of the concessions that Soviet Russia must make to Britain, absolutely cannot be built up on the old capitalist basis It is not the exchange of goods nor the export of capital, but assistance through labour which forms the new basis of German-Russian economic relations. These will not give the Germans the possibility of dominating Russia; but by helping Russia rebuild its economic strength, they will give to thousands of German intellectual and manual workers bread and work; they will also create the basis for an exchange of goods in the future between Russia and Germany. Russia would have had to follow this policy even if it had been a bourgeois state. It is a policy dictated by Russian interests. But it coincides with the principles which a proletarian state must not set aside, even when confronted with necessity: it must not make itself the instrument of a policy which consists in impoverishing and isolating other peoples. Naturally, it needs two for political as well as personal relationships. If the German government continues stupidly to fear Bolshevism as well as the Entente, if it continues to remain completely passive, hoping that the Devil will finally carry off Soviet Russia and deliver it into the arms of Denikin, then it will have to take the blame for its own self-imposed blockade.

‘The limits of the economic concessions that Soviet Russia can make to Entente capital are far more of a social nature. It cannot allow imperialist colonies to be born on its soil in which the Russian proletariat will play the part of white slaves. Even if Soviet Russia is obliged to provide a certain amount of wealth to foreign capital, this could only take place on the basis of conditions which would be concretely fixed between the contracting states. It is first of all a question of working conditions, which must not be worse than those of the rest of the Russian proletariat – allowing that Russian workers have to be employed at all. Then it is a question of the relationship between the production of the concessionary enterprises and the overall economic plan of the Soviet republic. The agreements must define that part of production that must benefit the organised Russian economy. If Russia desires to be reborn economically, it must draw immediate benefit from the development of the concessionary enterprises by buying from them at cost price a share of the production which would then be used to provide it with the means of production. It is only thus that the tribute that it is necessary to pay to foreign capital would not amount to bleeding Russia dry. We cannot enter into detail upon this question here, because that would take us too far. Nonetheless, last year there were very deep and concrete consultations on this subject in the circles that direct the economic policy of Soviet Russia. If it was doubtful last year whether capitalist circles, used to an individualistic method of economic production, would accept that their private initiative had to be limited by social controls, the situation has become visibly modified in the meantime. In fact, they are confronted with the same problems in their own countries, and however much they may be opposed to all attempt at social control, it is obvious that without a doubt the pressure of the working class movement and the necessity of overcoming economic anarchy in one way or another has forced them to give up their old unlimited individualism. What they have been forced to concede to the British and American workers, even before they had conquered political power, they must also concede to the Russian workers who are supported by the Russian workers’ state.

‘We do not wish to exaggerate things here, or paint them up in rosy colours. In spite of the importance of the concessions that foreign capital will be obliged to make to the Russian proletariat if it desires to make profits in Russia, the fact is that the Russian workers will have to work for foreign capitalist profit, that Russia’s natural wealth will be exploited by a foreign capitalist economy, and that a foreign body will consequently come into existence in Soviet Russia. But so long as Soviet Russia itself forms a foreign body inside the system of capitalist states, it cannot avoid such dangers.

It is clear that there is in fact a danger here. For independently of the difficulties that the proletarian government will encounter in the event of conflicts between the Russian proletarians and the foreign capitalist concessionaires, the danger also exists that the remnants of the defeated Russian bourgeoisie will reform around the foreign private enterprises. This danger will increase to the extent to which the Soviet government would be obliged to make more and more concessions to foreign capital if the present transitional stage were to be prolonged. This is precisely what Lloyd George and the other Entente leaders who are inclined to conclude peace with Soviet Russia are counting on. The realisation of their hopes or no depends upon the probable length of this collaboration; the influence that peace with Entente capitalism would have upon the development of the Russian proletarian state also depends upon it. If this collaboration were to go on for many years, the Soviet Republic would at best become a state like those of New Zealand or Australia, a capitalist state governed by the workers and farmers, in which finance capital has made great concessions to the proletariat as regards their living standards ... Obviously this is a better position than in Europe or America, but it is not the dictatorship of the proletariat intended to bring about Communism. However, if as is likely, the world revolution spreads slowly but surely, these arrangements with regard to foreign capitalist interests will be neither so important nor so prolonged as to threaten the real power of the proletariat. By giving Soviet Russia peace and the possibility of proceeding with the reconstruction of its economy, these arrangements might even allow the effective power of the proletariat to be strengthened. For it is clear that this power will be all the stronger if transport conditions improve, if industries are provided with raw materials and fuel, and if the peasants can buy goods in exchange for bread, even if we have to renounce many objectives and fall back for a while.

‘The stronger the Soviet Union becomes, the more it will be possible to give up the terror, which is only a means of defence, and the more it will be able to apply the dictatorship gently. The dictatorship must not be terminated so long as there are threats to the domination of the proletariat. But the severity of the dictatorship depends upon the extent of the threats; insofar as they grow smaller we can enlarge the circle of those hesitant layers to whom we can allow the exercise of political rights. Paragraph 2 of the political part of the programme of the Russian Communist Party (March 1919) says this: “Contrary to bourgeois democracy, which conceals the class nature of the state, the Soviet government openly recognises the historic necessity of the class nature of any state up to the disappearance of the class division of society, and therefore all state power. The Soviet state is essentially aimed at suppressing the resistance of the exploiters. The Soviet Constitution, which recognizes that freedom is only a fraud if it forms an obstacle to the emancipation of labour from capitalist oppression, does not hesitate to deprive social groups of the enjoyment of political rights. The task of the proletarian party is to suppress unhesitatingly the resistance of the exploiters, and to lead the ideological struggle against deep-rooted superstition about the absolute nature of bourgeois laws and freedoms; but it also consists in explaining that the withdrawal of political rights and other measures restricting freedom are only temporary measures in the struggle against the exploiters who are defending their privileges or who hope to re-establish them. To the extent to which the objective possibility of the exploitation of man by man disappears, the necessity for temporary repressive measures also disappears, measures which the party will do its utmost to limit and finally bring completely to an end.” [48]

‘To the extent to which the victories of the Red Army over the counter-revolutionary armies weaken the hopes of the Russian nobility and exploiters of seeing their rule re-established, the possibilities of softening the proletarian dictatorship in Russia also increase. For the first time in world history, this dictatorship has given to large masses of people the real possibility of taking part in intellectual life and in directing the state, and of creating as a result a real democracy such as does not exist in any state. But at the same time this dictatorship has deprived the bourgeoisie and those intellectuals who support it of political rights because they were using them to hold back the emancipation of the popular masses. The armed struggle of the Russian proletariat against the counter-revolution would have been over long ago if the capitalist states (Germany to begin with, and then the Entente) had not supported the Russian counter-revolution by all means, and so forced Soviet Russia to strengthen its measures of defence. Counter-revolution has suffered great defeats in this struggle. If Entente imperialism finally ceases to stir up the Russian Civil War, if it lifts its deadly blockade, then the victorious working class could renounce its military measures as a result of the end of the Civil War. This does not mean that it would give up directing the state in conformity with the workers’ interests, but that it would on the contrary really develop the proletarian state from the victory of the proletariat over bourgeois oppression towards democracy. This development will happen gradually. Any attempt by the pressure of Entente capital to accelerate this development will hamper it. Any interference to the advantage of the members of the old bourgeoisie will awaken a deep distrust within the proletariat and drag out the civil war, whether the Soviet government wishes it or not.

‘We have described the concessions that Soviet Russia can make. Many revolutionaries will regard this as a deep humiliation. What? Proud Soviet Russia, which repudiated its war debts, will in the end pay them? Soviet Russia, which has defeated the Russian bourgeoisie, will make concessions to private capital? Yes, precisely because Soviet Russia alone cannot vanquish world capital – only the world proletariat can do that – it has to pay tribute to the world bourgeoisie. It is futile to get angry about this. This situation will go on until the overwhelming capitalist decomposition brings about the world revolution. One section of the capitalist press and the press of the so-called Socialist traitors to the working class will talk about the Soviet Republic’s road to Damascus, and of the surrender of Communism. Let them continue to chatter, they have already said all that after Brest-Litovsk; but we survive whilst the victors of Brest Litovsk are broken on the wheel of history. We take back nothing. All that we taught about the dictatorship of the proletariat remains completely valid, in whatever way it is exercised, and the Russian Soviet government will always be the representative of the power of the proletariat or it will not exist. Let both enemies and friends understand one thing: there will not be a pretence of a Soviet republic. If the Soviet republic did not have the strength to defend real power, it would not defend the shadow of an existence, but would openly capitulate or go down fighting. The result of the autumn attack upon the main cities shows that it has no need to do this. Why did it fight if it was at the end of its strength? Since it did fight and overcame a severe military test, it will also be able to overcome the severe economic test of a harsh winter. Amongst the Denikins and the Kolchaks the economic conditions are even worse; it is also necessary to note the following fact: whilst in Soviet Russia the working class is convinced that the proletarian government has done its utmost to help it, it could not while hungry help looking beyond the doings of the Kolchak and Denikin cliques at how the rich were feasting. This winter half of Europe will suffer infernal torment, and no part of the Entente will give any help. It will not do so because it cannot do it. Aid requires millions and millions, and France and Britain are themselves on the verge of bankruptcy. The Soviet government has no need to surrender, either openly or surreptitiously. To remedy the appalling misery it is obliged, in the name of peace, to make concessions. The coming months will decide if the Entente is capable of having any rational idea on the Russian question. If it fails, Soviet Russia will have to prevail through great sacrifices; but the collapse of Entente imperialism will be all the more rapid because it will be once more forced to make unheard of efforts to defeat Soviet Russia. The difference between our opponent and ourselves is that time is on our side. We came to the decision to make concessions because we knew that we would be victorious in the end; the policy of gambling everything on one throw of the dice may predominate. What will happen depends on the attitude of the Entente workers this winter, and upon political developments in all parts of the world. But one thing is certain in all this jumble of tendencies: the continuation of capitalist disintegration and the extension of the proletarian revolution. We, who are its advance guard, will suffer more hard times. But in any case it is certain to win!’ [49]

These lines were written, as I said, in December 1919 at the time of the decisive victories of Soviet Russia over the Whites, at the time when Kolchak and Yudenich [50] were liquidated and Denikin was thrown back to the Caucasus. And what do these lines say? They say that at the time of the greatest victories we did not for a moment abandon the following points of view: that to begin with Russia is a country whose population is essentially petit-bourgeois, and that for this reason Communist policy has to mark time in the village, and that the socialisation of agriculture is a problem that will require the work of generations; moreover, that the Soviet government must for the moment work with a view to a compromise with the peasants. In short, it was laid down that the greater part of the Russian economy within the near future would be oriented towards petit-bourgeois commodity production. It was then established that the world revolution would develop slowly after the overcoming of the demobilisation crisis, and that consequently for the time being the Soviet government had to aim for a modus vivendi with the capitalist states, and to this end, to be prepared to make concessions to capital:

‘So long as the proletariat has not triumphed in the principal capitalist states, so long as it will not be in a position to utilise all the productive forces of the world for Socialist construction, so long as capitalist states exist alongside proletarian states, the proletarian states will be forced to conclude compromises with them, and there would neither be pure Socialism nor pure capitalism; geographically limited, they would in effect be forced to make reciprocal concessions upon their own national territories.’

This concept was not my own, it was the common concept of the leading authorities of the Russian Communist Party and of the Soviet government. And this concept was not just the result of the experiences of 1919. In fact Lenin not only defended this concept at the time of the conflicts relating to the signing of the Brest Peace, but also he defended it in April 1918, during his speech on the immediate tasks of Soviet power. This speech was delivered on 29 April 1918 to the Central Executive Committee of the Soviets. In it Lenin developed the following ideas: in the sphere of foreign policy, it was on the one hand necessary to create the Red Army, and on the other hand to make concessions to international capital for so long as the world revolution had not triumphed. In the sphere of the organisation of the economy, he supported not only the necessity to call in bourgeois specialists by offering them higher wages, the necessity to make a compromise not only with the petit-bourgeois cooperatives, but even also with capitalist cartels who were to organise heavy industry under the control of the state with participation in the profits. In April 1918 Lenin declared that it was necessary to learn how to organise Socialism from the magnates of the capitalist trusts, and he demanded a temporary halt to attacks upon capital because he thought that the Soviet government had already expropriated much more than it was capable of controlling. [51] The following question is posed at present: why did the Soviet government carry out the opposite policy during the period between the autumn of 1918 and March 1921, the policy of requisitions in the village, the policy of the nationalisation of all the means of production in the town, the policy of even the total suppression of internal trade attacked as speculation, why then did the Soviet government not follow the policy defended by Lenin in April 1918, and often defended theoretically in 1919 by the leaders of the Soviet republic? (Cf. Lenin’s speech on relations with the middle peasantry in April 1919 [52]; cf. the unceasing peace proposals and offers of concessions that the Soviet government addressed to foreign capital in 1919.) In his speech to the Congress of Popular Political Education Departments in October 1921, Lenin explained that the policy of these three years had been a mistake and proclaimed a return to the policy of 1918. [53] This explanation was interpreted by the enemies of Communism as a confession of bankruptcy by Russian Communism, as a confirmation of the correctness of all that the press, not only Menshevik but world capitalist as well, had developed at such great length on the policy of Russian Communism. Obviously Lenin is without doubt a man of exemplary political rectitude, a trustworthy man who is never afraid of admitting errors committed. It is, however, clear that he did not pronounce this speech, as the leader of a great government, to pour out his heart in front of the capitalists of the entire world and of the Mensheviks, but that his speeches serve his political ends. In a speech he made later on 29 October (it was published in the Moscow Pravda on 3 November) he explained why he had spoken of faults and mistakes. [54] It is a question, he explained, not only of giving a new orientation to the economic policy of the Soviet republic, which has been in operation since the month of March 1921, but it is also a question of realising the new policy. Now the party, which since autumn 1919 had carried out the most intractable policy of nationalisation, is not capable of changing at the blinking of an eye, and that is why it is necessary for it to become aware, under the most brutal form, of the intervening changes in the conditions of the development of the Soviet republic. And this is what Lenin did by talking about past mistakes. In this speech Lenin sought to explain the nature of the mistakes made by making a comparison between the different tactics used by the Japanese General Nogi to capture Port Arthur. [55] To begin with, he attacked the stronghold by furious frontal offensives that cost him enormous losses. When he saw that Port Arthur could not be taken by these methods, Nogi then tried a slow and systematic siege, and took the city at the end of very hard struggles in which the work of the sappers and artillery played as great a role as the infantry offensives and assaults. Then Lenin asked: were the first assaults a mistake? The reply is: yes and no. It was a mistake because it later transpired that they were insufficient to capture the stronghold. But it was not a mistake because the enemy’s capacity for resistance could not be determined without an attack, and a general must try to defeat the enemy as quickly as possible; finally, even the repelled assaults had weakened the enemy, and had therefore allowed him to be finally conquered by siege. Similarly, said Lenin, it was necessary to smash capitalism in Russia by a frontal assault. But when frontal assaults did not produce the expected results, our duty was to prepare the retreat and to organise the siege of the enemy, and defeat him by other means. Any comparison is unsatisfactory, but this comparison of Lenin limps on both feet so to speak, and the analysis of this comparison greatly helps to explain the causes of the policy of the Soviet republic in the period between autumn 1918 and March 1921 and its present alteration.

To begin with, we would like to say that the story of planning for war is an old tale against which all authentic war historians and historiographers of strategy have contended. The general staffs of all armies seek to develop a concept of the future war; outsiders call this a war plan. But there has not been a single war in history which was any more than a coup or a surprise attack that has proceeded in accordance with the planning of a general staff. A great debate began in German military history after the collapse of 1918 to know if the war had been conducted or not according to the Schlieffen Plan. [56] Historical investigation has shown that there was no war plan at all. Schlieffen had the idea of a situation in which Germany had to conduct a war on two fronts, and he formed the basic plan of preparing a corps of the German army in the event of the war being conducted in the conditions which he envisaged. Schlieffen counted upon a slow Russian mobilisation, and he therefore developed the idea of taking up a defensive position on the Eastern front before Russia could mobilise the bulk of its forces, while first attempting to overthrow France with decisive forces. He did not prepare a plan for the conduct of the war, because he knew all too well that a concrete plan can only be elaborated after the first engagements with the enemy forces had provided indications of subsequent developments. Schlieffen’s prognostications were not realised, nor was it possible to apply his basic idea correctly. If in the conduct of the war no elaborated and foreordained plan for a general war exists, there nevertheless does exist a plan for each particular battle. The commander-in-chief is in possession of information on the state of the enemy’s forces in a concrete battle situation. His own forces also represent a given and clearly defined quantity. He seeks to sift through all the possibilities for defeating the forces of the enemy, and then chooses the idea that seems the most favourable to him. He generally has the possibility of choice. It was the same for General Nogi. Nogi could have seen straightaway that the taking of Port Arthur was impossible by a frontal assault. He could have avoided the mistake made by correctly evaluating the enemy forces, but Nogi overestimated the chances of the attack and underestimated the forces of the defence, and that is why his attack was a mistake. Now our Nogi, Lenin, estimated that the forces of world capital were very powerful. In his speech of April 1918, he elaborated a war plan which proceeded from a correct estimation of the enemy forces and of our weaknesses. [57] This is why he proposed concessions to the peasantry and to capital, and that is why he carried out a policy of compromise with world capital by signing peace with Germany at Brest Litovsk and doing all in his power to avoid a war with the Entente. What Lenin is at present defending under the label of the New Economic Policy does not amount to any other than a further development of his war plan of 1918. But what was it that led him to abandon his ingenious plan in the autumn of 1918? Lenin and the Soviet republic had no freedom of action, no freedom of choice. Since the Czech uprising during the summer of 1918 [58], since the occupation of Archangel by the British [59], the enemy had seized the initiative. It had dictated to the Soviet republic the action it must take. The enemy was far stronger than us, he took the initiative, and passing over to the offensive, he ruled out the possibility of a compromise. It was necessary to fight, and this fight developed not in accordance with a foreordained plan, but under compulsion of the necessities of the struggle. We understood perfectly that we were forced to a compromise with the peasants, who are petty producers of goods, are petit-bourgeois, and who could only be won over to Communist politics over generations through the great advantages offered by modern technical methods of agriculture. But despite this we were obliged to resort to a policy of requisitions which made us enemies in the village, and which, carried on for several years, weakened the agricultural forces considerably. To begin with Siberia was in the hands of the Czechoslovaks, and then of Kolchak, the Ukraine was in the hands of the Germans, then of Skoropadsky, then of Petliura [60], and finally of Denikin. We had to feed the towns and the armies, increasingly more numerous, starting off from the reserves of central Russia and the Volga region. The peasants had in fact seized the land. They had returned to the village after a war that had strengthened their consciousness; they had weapons and an idea of liberty and of their relations with the state that were very close to the conception according to which the peasant had absolutely no need of anything so diabolical as the state. If we had then tried to impose taxes in kind, we would not have been able to collect them because we did not possess the necessary apparatus and because the peasants would not have provided them voluntarily. It was necessary to make them understand to start off with by very vigorous means, that the state not only had the right to claim for its needs a part of the produce of its citizens, but also that it had the power to impose this right. Furthermore, given that starting from the autumn, our territory for provisioning was very limited, taxes in kind would of necessity have taken from the peasants all that was not necessary for their own subsistence. A tax in kind which confiscates the whole surplus product and is collected by military force is precisely none other than requisition.

But if we sought to take from the peasants the whole of the surplus product, it was necessary to avoid by all means their refusal to sell us only a part of the cereals of which we had an absolute need. We had to forbid them from selling cereals, and we had to suppress the town trade which constituted an encouragement to the black market in cereals.

And could we leave the industrial and productive resources in the hands of the bourgeoisie? We knew all too well that we could not administer small and medium industry on our own, our forces were insufficient for that. We knew that the captains of industry would be necessary to us, and that state cartelisation of industry with state participation, but under the practical management of capitalists controlled by the state, would for the moment be the form of industrial organisation most favourable to us. But these gentlemen captains of industry passed over to the enemy in order to overthrow us, first of all with the help of the Germans, and then with the help of the Allies. They did not wish to be our leaseholders, nor to find themselves under state control. In short, they did not want to ally with us, because they had the hope of being able to overthrow us. The policy of compromising with the leaders of big capital was impossible because they did not recognise our power, and were on the contrary convinced that they would come to overthrow us. But only the present recognition of our power has created the basis for a compromise. As far as small and medium industry were concerned, it was necessary from the outset of the great Civil War to close them down. Fronts in a civil war differ from fronts in a war between states in that the Whites, like the Reds, always have enemy forces behind their backs. The front lines only divide the country geographically, but not socially. On one side of the front line, the Reds have supremacy, but counter-revolutionary forces have not therefore disappeared from their territory. On the other side, power is in the hands of the Whites, but the forces of the Reds, the forces of the revolution, still exist and represent a great threat to the White dictatorship. In order to triumph at the front, the White dictatorship, like the Red, must totally suppress the enemy forces in the rear. The strength of the working masses resides in their organisation. This is why White dictatorship suppresses any form of workers’ organisation. The strength of the bourgeoisie resides in the fact that it disposes of the means of production and the goods. We can utterly suppress any political organisation of the bourgeoisie, but if we allow bourgeois trade, bourgeois industry and even small and middle industry to exist, then the bourgeoisie will maintain its cohesion and its unity as a class on the basis of the reciprocal economic relations between its members, and, as enemies of the working class, use its material means against us. This is why we were forced to nationalise small and medium industry, even when nationalisation was only a pretext for closing down factories. The fight was on, and it was necessary to crush the enemy. Them or us, that is how the question was posed, and there was no room for compromise.

But nationalisation was also necessary for economic reasons. We had to conduct a war against an enemy who disposed of the most modern military and technical means. But we had to equip the army and provide it with weapons by means of an industry disorganised by world war, an industry that already before the war was on a far lower level than that of Western Europe. Consequently, we could only win by pulling together all the industrial forces of the country, and by using them single-mindedly for victory. We allowed the distant railways to get into disrepair, because it was necessary to strengthen the railway network in the area of war operations. I again recall the words of Trotsky to the party congress in 1920: ‘We have ravaged the country in order to defeat the Whites.’ This was surely not an economic policy, even less Communist construction. It was a policy of war and victory, and since we could not win otherwise, and did win in this way, history has judged these methods. And this judgement is set forth thus: this way was not a mistake. It was the road to victory.

But we had to take this road not only because of the policy of the bourgeoisie, and on account of economic necessity, we also had to take it because the principle strength upon which we relied was the working class. Each social class has its own maximum programme which it only gives up, or curtails, when it is forced to do so under the pressure of other classes, and under the pressure of necessity. Ever since the 1840s, bourgeois social reformers have always told the bourgeoisie that it was in its own interests not to treat the workers as slaves. They explained to the bourgeoisie that a well-rewarded working class, culturally developed, would work better; but the bourgeoisie paid absolutely no attention to all this advice, until the working class opposed its own will to the desire of the bourgeoisie to exploit it ruthlessly. The Russian bourgeoisie already felt the heat of the fire of the revolution, and yet it did not think to choke off the revolution by nationalising, by struggling against speculation, and by making concessions to the working class. The Russian peasants did not want to supply bread to the towns or to the workers, who had given them the land, until they were forced to do so. The Russian workers, who had been enslaved and oppressed by the bourgeoisie, had taken power, and took it by assault. The bourgeoisie seemed to be impotent, and in these conditions we could not wait for the workers to understand effectively the real relationship of forces, or for them to understand effectively the difficulties of the new regime, and the difficulties of establishing their power. In 1917, as in 1918, Lenin and the party leaders had a correct understanding of the relationship of forces, but the masses certainly did not. Lenin, in his speech on the immediate tasks of the Soviet government [61], and Trotsky, in his speech on ‘work and discipline’ [62], addressed entire sermons, on the one hand against the mentality that they described as petit-bourgeois, individualistic mass psychology, which consisted of saying: ‘industry belongs to us, every worker is master in his own house, and he can take what he wants’, and on the other hand against aspirations which envisaged bringing in Socialism at one blow. Today, after four years of revolution and after immense privations of the masses, Lenin, in order to ensure the energetic and strict carrying out of the policy of compromise, considers it necessary to tell the party that the economic policy followed up to the present was a mistake; it is, however, highly improbable that the present policy could have been carried out in 1918, even without the attack of the Entente. It is sufficient to recall that in 1918, an influential group of party publicists and organisers, such as Bukharin, Ossinsky, Smimov, Yakovleva, Lomov and myself [63], carried out an attack against this policy in the Communist, a factional journal, and that there was not only a left tendency in the party, but that this tendency even had a central organisation. And it was in this spirit of the first successful frontal assault that the working class engaged in a very hard struggle against the Whites and against the intervention. It endured terrible privations, and it made the greatest sacrifices; and who should be surprised that Russia, the battlefield that was Russia, a besieged stronghold, had to live as if under siege? When the revolutionary fighters were suffering misery and hunger, could they abandon the least scrap of power and any privileges whatsoever to the class which with the help of the Entente was pouring cannon fire over them?

The necessities of the war and the necessities of the struggle were transformed in the heads of the masses into the religion of Communism. And each of our measures, even when they served very limited and transitory aims, was integrated and incorporated into a general Communist system. One petty Philistine, the Menshevik Abramovich [64], asked when and how did the Communist Party describe its measures as temporary? Why did it talk about Communism? The brave man had not only never taken part in a revolution, but he had never even read with any sympathy the history of a great war of liberation. Otherwise he would have understood that revolution not only gives rise to coolness of judgement, but also to illusions, which are not ’mistakes’, but which give wings to the offensive, give it strength, and lead it to the ends that are historically put before it. It would be ridiculous to deny that we committed many mistakes in the struggle, or that we had ever carried out a mistaken policy; but it would be equally ridiculous to deny that ideology, which had taken on its own dynamic, very often transformed provisional, transitional measures into a system which in its turn influenced the measures and prolonged them beyond what was necessary. In its entirety, as an historical epoch, the policy that we have had to modify at present was not a mistake; moreover, it was thanks to this policy, carried out resolutely, that we were able to push back the country’s enemy, overthrow him within, and were thus able to create the conditions for the present policy. General Nogi missed his objective because of his erroneous estimate of the relationship of forces, because of his frontal assault on Port Arthur. Soviet Russia has not launched itself into any offensive of its own accord. The war against the Entente, with all its consequences, was imposed upon it, but our offensive was not repulsed. We have defeated the enemy, brought his aims to ruin, and prevented our own defeat; we have therefore created the conditions that permit us to attempt to conclude a compromise with him, which is necessary for the economic reconstruction of the country.


33. After prolonged negotiations a treaty was signed between the Soviet republic and imperial Germany at Brest-Litovsk in Poland on 15 March 1918, by which the former dropped out of the First World War.

34. A left wing split from the German Social Democracy set up the Independent Social Democratic Party (USPD) in 1917 led by Haase, Kautsky and Ledebour. It later split, with the majority joining the Communist Party and the minority returning to the SPD in 1922.

35. During the German Revolution of November 1918 the USPD played a confused role, supporting both the workers’ councils and the democratic republic.

36. Woodrow Wilson (1856–1924) was the liberal Democrat President of the USA who proposed a programme of 14 points as a basis for ending the First World War.

37. Georges Clemenceau (1841–1929) was Prime Minister of France during the First World War, and the main advocate of a war to the finish; David Lloyd George (1863–1945) was coalition Prime Minister of Great Britain for the second half of the war, and a supporter of the same policies.

38. Raymond Robins (1873–1954) was a member of the American intelligence service and the Red Cross mission in Russia.

39. This document figures in Radek’s speech on the economic consequences of the Brest Peace published in the Minutes of the First Congress of the Councils of the National Economy. [Author’s note]

40. Mieczyslaw G. Bronsky (Varshavsky, 1882–1941) was Commissar for Trade and Industry in the first Soviet government.

41. Robert Hamilton Bruce Lockhart (1887–1970) was a journalist and British intelligence agent in Russia.

42. Otto Bauer (Heinrich Weber, 1881–1938) was one of Austrian Social Democracy’s major theorists.

43. The first Soviet government was a coalition of the Bolsheviks and the Left SRs, who had split off from the rest of their party and had seven members in the Council of People’s Commissars. But they went into opposition over the signing of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, and began terrorist activities against the government.

44. Admiral Alexander Vasilyevich Kolchak (1873–1920) led the White Guard attack upon the Soviet state from the Far East in the Russian Civil War; General Anton Ivanovich Denikin (1872–1947), Commander of the South-Western Front during the First World War, did the same in southern Russia and the Ukraine.

45. The Bolsheviks dissolved the Constituent Assembly in January 1918, since it did not accept the legality of the revolutionary government.

46. Arnold Struthan, Die äussere und die innere Lage Sowjetrusslands, Die Kommunistische Internationale, 1919, No 3, pp. 9–27.

47. When the franc was finally stabilised by Poincaré in 1926, it was worth only a fifth of its pre-war value.

48. Programme of the Communist Party, adopted at the close of the Eighth Congress of the Russian Communist Party (18–23 March 1919).

49. Arnold Struthan, Die äussere und die innere Lage Sowjetrusslands, Die Kommunistische Internationale, 1919, No. 3, pp. 9–27.

50. White Guard General Nikolai Nikolayevich Yudenich (1862–1933) attacked Petrograd during the Russian Civil War, backed by Britain.

51. V.I. Lenin, The Immediate Tasks of the Soviet Government, Collected Works, Volume 27, Moscow 1964, p. 246.

52. V.I. Lenin, Resolution on the Attitude to the Middle Peasants, and The Middle Peasants, Collected Works, Volume 29, Moscow 1964, pp. 217–20, 246–7.

53. V.I. Lenin, Report on the New Economic Policy and the Tasks of the Political Education Department, Collected Works, Volume 33, Moscow 1964, pp. 62–4.

54. V.I. Lenin, Report on the New Economic Policy, Collected Works, Volume 33, Moscow 1964, pp. 83–101.

55. The Japanese General Count Maresuke Nogi (1849–1912) attacked Port Arthur in August 1905 during the Russo-Japanese War.

56. Alfred, Graf Von Schlieffen (1833–1913) completed the famous Schlieffen Plan in 1905, which envisaged the solution to a two-front war with Russia and France with a knock-out blow delivered against France at the start of such a war, followed by a shift of the entire German army against Russia immediately afterwards.

57. V.I. Lenin, The Immediate Tasks of the Soviet Government, Collected Works, Volume 27, Moscow 1964, p. 246.

58. Around 40,000 Czech soldiers, most of whom had been taken prisoner by the Russians during the First World War, were left stranded on the Trans-Siberian railway by the October Revolution. The Soviet government permitted them to leave the country via Vladivostok, but after a brawl with Hungarian prisoners of war led to them taking over Chelyabinsk on 14 May, it demanded that they be disarmed. The Czechs then staged a revolt, which led to the rapid collapse of Soviet rule along the Trans-Siberian Railway from the Volga eastwards, and permitted the establishment of an SR government in Samara, and the White regime in Siberia under Kolchak.

59. Claiming that they were protecting their supply dumps, the British army landed at Archangel in 1918 to assist the Whites in the Russian Civil War.

60. Pavlo Skoropadsky (1873–1945) and Semyon Petliura (1877–1926) were Ukrainian nationalists who opposed the Soviet government, the former in alliance with the Germans, and the latter with the Poles.

61. V.I. Lenin, The Immediate Tasks of the Soviet Government, Collected Works, Volume 27, Moscow 1964, p. 254.

62. L.D. Trotsky, Work, Discipline and Order, 28 March 1918, How The Revolution Armed, Volume 1, London 1979, pp. 28–48.

63. The Left Communist group first arose in the Bolshevik Party in protest at the signing of the Treaty of Brest Litovsk in March 1918. In addition to Bukharin and Radek, its leaders were Ossinsky (Valerian Obolensky, 1887–1938), Vladimir M. Smirnov (1887–1937), Varvara N. Yakovleva (1884–1944) and A. Lomov (George I Oppokov, 1888–1937). Its platform, the Theses of the Left Communists, first appeared in Kommunist on 20 April 1918. An English translation was published by Critique in 1977. Cf. R.I. Kowalski, The Bolshevik Party in Conflict, Pittsburgh 1991.

64. Raphael Abramovich (Rhein, 1880–1963) was one of the main leaders of the Mensheviks in exile.

Last updated on 18.10.2011