Leon Trotsky



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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Last updated on: 8.12.2006