Leon Trotsky

The Stalin School of Falsification

The March 1917
Party Conference


THE ALL-RUSSIAN CONFERENCE of the Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies was convened at the end of March 1917. Simultaneously with this Conference the Bureau of the Bolshevik central Committee issued a call for the All-Russian Conference of party workers for March 28, the first one held after the February revolution.

The agenda planned for the Conference was as follows:

  1. Local reports.
  2. Report of the Bureau of the central Committee.
  3. SDLPR and the Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies.
  4. The attitude towards the Provisional Government.
  5. The attitude to the war.
  6. The organization of the counter-revolutionary forces and the struggle against the counter-revolution.
  7. Preparation for the Constituent Assembly.
  8. The Agrarian question.
  9. The Eight-Hour day.

The following organizations and comrades took part in the conference:

Organization Names of Delegates
1) Archangel Maryan Verzhhitsky*
2) Alexandrovsk-Gruschevsk P.V. Novov-Okhlonin*
3) Almaznaya Daineko
4) Baku Ter-Gabryelan*
5) Voronezh Komissarov
6) V. Volochek V.F. Sokolov*
7) Vitebs J. Abolin
8) Vologda Shalva Zurab Eliava & Ivan A. Sammer
9) Vyborg Panshin*
10) Gamel P.N. Sevruk*
11) Helsingfors-Sviborg S.A. Garin*
12) Grozny Bogdanov* & H. E. Bugai*
13) Ekaterinodar A. A. Limansky*
14) Ekaterinoslav G. V. Golovko*
15) Ekaterinburg L. S. Sosnovsky & P. Bykov8
16) Enakievo (Petrovsky
       mines and mills)
Speransky* & K.P. Susenkov*
17) Ivanov-Voznesensk Vera A. Karovaikova
18) Irkutsk Peter I. Starostin* & Robert J. Dukur*
19) Kiev Maximilian A. Saveliev* & Alexandrov
20) Kostroma Leonid P. Serebnakov*, Vassili A. Krapivin &
Nicolai I. Vorobiev
21) Kursk Alexander N. Grigoriev
22) Kenavino S. Levitt
23) Kronstadt Uliantsev
24) Krasnoyarsk Teodorovich*
25) Lozovaya Teploukhov*
26) Lysivensky Factory Savchenko*, Danilenko
27) Moscow Victor P. Nogin*, E.N. Ignatov*
28) Minsk Boris P. Pozern*, Yakhontov
29) Novgorod Ionov
30) Morshansk Nicolai A. Skrypnik*
31) Minyarsk (Ufa Goubernia) Vakhterov*
32) Nikolayev Nicolai M. Mandelstam*, Alexander G. Ovchinniko,
S.I. Kanatchikov*, Adolf Klepner*
34) Nikitovka Jacob Grosfin*, N. Akimov*
35) Odessa Ocbkanov*
36) Omsk Peter A. Kravtsov
37) Poltava Drobnis
38) Revel I. E. Kuzmin*, A. Balevsky
39) Rostov-on-the-Don Vassilchenko
40) Samara N. Teplov, Gersimov*, Robert Bauza
41) Saratov M.I. Vassiliev*, V.P. Miliutin , K.I. Plaxin
42) Syzran N.D. Vozdvizhensky*
43) Sormovo Nicolai E. Miroshin
44) Simferopol T. Fedoseyev*, T. Kravchenko*
45) Tomsk Ivan N. Smirnov*, Nakhanovich*
46) Taganro Paul M. Berman*
47) Tula Nikita G. Brigadirov
48) Ufa Boris M. Eltsia*
49) Kharkov Gregory A. Romanovich*
50) Kherson Ivan F. Sorokin
51) Tsaritsin Weinzweig*, Sergei K. Minin, D.A. Sagareishvili
52) Chelyabinsk S.M. Tsvilling
58) Seherbinovka Nahum Dubovoi*
54) Yuriev A.K. Rozov
55) Yaroslavl Ivan I. Korotkov
56) Stavropol-Kavkaz Vassili, F. Tolstov
57) Petropavlovsk Alexander M. Povolotsky
58) 180th Regiment Kutuzov

* The asterisk denotes those participants who were delegates to the Soviet Conference.

In addition to those listed above, the following organizations whose delegates failed to report to the Secretariat participated in the Conference

  1. Kamyshlova
  2. Valka
  3. Petrovska
  4. Narvy
  5. 1st Reserve Infantry
  6. 112th Infantry Regiment
  7. 729th Infantry Regiment

Present from the Central Committee were Stalin, Helena D. Stassova, Vyacheslav M. Molotov, Shliapnikov, Peter A. Zalutsky

Participating personally were Ivan T. Smilga Stuchka, member of the G., F. Fedorov Latvian Central Committee, M.S. Olminsky, A.I. Elizarova Kollontai, member of the Finnish CC

Present from the Petrograd Committee were Leon M. Mikhailov, Badayev, Vladimir N. Zalezhsky, Yakovlenko (Sergei) Bagdatiev, Enukidze, Boki Epstein,Shagov Krestinsky, Goloschekin

The sessions were first held at the Kshesinskaia Palace and later transferred to the Tauride Palace, in the gallery.

The original protocols were destroyed by Kerensky’s gangs during the July days in a raid on the Kshesinskaia Palace, at that time the headquarters of the Central Committee of our party.

Fortunately, I have preserved the original drafts of the protocols and the records of the sessions, with the exception of the sessions for March 27 and March 28, when the war question was under discussion. From these documents it was possible to restore the protocols of the sessions.

These records do not of course represent stenographic minutes – our small party, poor in resources, did not even dare dream of such luxury at that time. These are merely notes as taken down during the sessions; and they are more or less complete, depending upon the individual peculiarities of the particular speaker (the speed and lucidity of his delivery, etc.). In any case, there is nothing in them that is “personally interpolated.” Everything in the notes represents an exact, even though incomplete, reproduction of what the speakers said. – L.T.


Chairman: comrade Nogin.

Secretaries: comrades Boki and Drabkina.

The order of the day: The question of the attitude toward the Provisional Government.

After the session was called to order, all the delegates of the Conference were divided into sections in accordance with the projected Conference of the Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies.
Soldiers’ Section: comrades Pozern, Borisov, Shashkin, Vengerov, Panshin, Verzhbitsky, I.N. Smirnov, Ter-Gahrye Ian, Klepner, Syrkin, Shklovsky, Paderin, Garin, Serebriakov.
Workers’ Section: comrades Starostin, Vassiliev, Kanat chikoy, Kravtsov, Okhlonin, Ter-Gabryelan, Speransky, Sosnovsky, Yakhontov, Romanovich, Nakhanovich, Sammer, Sorokin.
Organizational Section: comrades Sevruk, Saveliev, Skrypnik, Pozern, Mandelstam.
Section of Local Affairs: comrades Dukur, Teploukhov, Tsvilling, Drobnis.
Agrarian Section: comrades Romanovich, Miliutin, V.P. Lebed.
Mandate Commission: comrades Sevruk, Skrypnik.
The resolution of the Praesidium of the Soviet Conference dealing with the manner in which the work would be divided was read: At 6 p.m. elections to the Mandate Commission; division into sections; report by Tseretelli.
Reporters: On War-Tseretelli; On the Organization of Power – Steklov.

DELEGATE: Has an agreement been reached on the question of reporters?

NOGIN: Proposes that the representatives of the various sections come to an agreement on the question of the speakers.

SKRYPNIK: Proposes to suggest to the representatives of all factions that they insist on co-reports.


Report by Comrade Stalin

STALIN: The Russian Revolution unfolded not under ordinary circumstances, but against the background of the imperialist war. This fact has left a peculiar mark on the development of the revolution. Due to the fact of the war, the revolutionary crisis, aggravated by a food crisis, was resolved very rapidly. Owing to the war, the army has played a rôle which it never played in any other revolution due to the fact that the entire adult population was mobilized and that the army joined the insurrectionary people. Due to the fact of the war, Czarism has been isolated even from imperialist bourgeois circles. Czarism, by its betrayals, repelled the bourgeoisie from itself. Even the imperialist circles of the West, England and France, turned their backs on Czarism, because they wanted to have at the head of the Russian government people capable of waging the war to the end. There are four forces in the revolution. The two basic ones are the workers and the soldiers. And, in addition, there are two secondary ones: the imperialist circles, both our own and the Anglo-French. These forces, having united, prepared the soil for such an easy and rapid overthrow of Czarism. But since the forces are heterogeneous, therefore their aims are likewise heterogeneous. The tops, the bourgeoisie, both our own and those of Western Europe, have united in order to effect a change in the decorative scenery; they have united in order to replace one Czar by another. They wanted an easy revolution, like the Turkish, with very little freedom, so as to wage the war. A tiny revolution for a big victory. But the lower ranks – the workers and the soldiers – have deepened the revolution, having destroyed the props of the old system. Thus, it is as if we had two currents “ one from below, the other from abovo “ which have brought forward two governments, two forces: 1) the Provisional Government, supported by Anglo-French capitalism; 2) the Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies. The power has been divided between two organs, of which neither one possesses full power. There is and there ought to be friction and struggle between them. The roles have been divided. The Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies has in fact taken the initiative in effecting revolutionary transformations. The Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies is the revolutionary leader of the insurrectionary people; an organ of control over the Provisional Government. On the other hand, the Provisional Government has in fact taken the rôle of fortifier of the conquests of the revolutionary people. The Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Dep uties mobi!izes the forces and exercizes control, while the Provisional Government, balking and muddling, takes the role of the fortifier of those conquests by the people which they have already seized as a fact. Such a situation has disadvantageous, but also advantageous sides. It is not to our advantage at present to force events, hastening the process of repelling the bourgeois layers, who will in the future inevitably withdraw from us. It is necessary for us to gain time by putting a brake on the splitting away of the middle-bourgeois layers so that we may prepare ourselves for the struggle against the Provisional Government. But such a situation will not endure endlessly. The revolution is deepening. From the political questions there will be a transition to the social questions. The social demands will cause the middle-bourgeois layers to split away.

It is silly to think that it will be possible to bring the revolution to its completion without a split with the bourgeoisie. When that time comes, in so far as the split grows, the Provisional Government will become transformed from an organ for fortifying the conquests of the revolution into an organ for organizing the counter-revolution. A strug gle is already being conducted against the Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies; an agitation is being carried on against it among the troops. Clashes are beginning to occur over the questions of the [loyalty] oath, the democratization of the army, the change of the Supreme Commanding Staff. The mobilization of the counter-revolutionary forces has as its banner: “War to a victorious conclusion!” This offensive is being carried on not only from within but also from without – from the side of England and France. Their semi-official organs have launched a veritable offensive against the revolution. The offensive against dual power has begun, and in proportion as the revolution develops the Provisional Government must (it must objectively) become transformed into the bulwark of counter-revolution, not a Czarist counter-revo lution – we face no danger from that side –but an imperialist counter-revolution. To prepare for repelling it – that is our task. In view of this, the question becomes more complex. The question of support – let us even allow that support is not permissible. In so far as the Provisional Government fortifies the steps of the revolution, to that extent we must support it; but in so far as it is counter-revolutionary, support to the Provisional Government is not permissible. Many comrades who have arrived from the provinces ask whether we shouldn’t immediately pose the question of the seizure of power. But it is untimely to pose the question now. The Provisional Government is not so weak. The strength of the Provisional Government lies in the support of Anglo-French capitalism, in the inertia of the provinces and in the [widespread] sympathy for it. It is being showered with telegrams [of congratulation]. We must bide our time until the Provisional Government exhausts itself, until the time when in the process of fulfilling the revolutionary program it discredits itself. The only organ capable of taking power is the Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies on an All-Russian scale. We, on the other band, must bide our time until the moment when the events will reveal the hollowness of the Provisional Government; we must be prepared, when the time comes, when the events have matured, and until then we must organize the center – the Soviet of Workers’ and Sol diers’ Deputies – and strengthen it. Therein lies the task of the moment.


Comrade Stalin reads the resolution on the Provisional Government adopted by the Bureau of the Central Committee, but states that he is not in complete agreement with it, but is rather in accord with the resolution of the Krasnoyarsk Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies.


“The Provisional Government, brought forward by the moderate bourgeois classes of our society and linked through all its interests with Angl-French capitalism, is incapable of solving the tasks posed by the revolution. Its resistance to the further development and deepening of the revolution is being paralyzed only by the growth of the revolutionary forces and their own organizations. The focal point for their consolidation must be the Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies in the cities and the Soviet of Peasants’ and Farmhands’ Deputies in the country, which, as the embryos of revolutionary power, are prepared, in the course of the further development and at a given moment in the development of the revolution, to realize in full the power of the proletariat in an alliance with the revolutionary democracy, so that the demands of the insurrectionary people may be wholly put into effect. Even at the present moment these Soviets shou!d exercize the most decisive control over all the actions of the Provisional Government and its agents both in the center and in the provinces; and they should themselves assume a number of functions cf state and of an economic character arising from the complete disorganization of economic life in the country and from the urgent necessity to apply the most resolute measures for safeguarding the famine-stricken population whom war has ruined. Therefore the task of the day is: The consolidation of all forces around the Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies as the embryo of revolutionary power, alone capable both of repelling the attempts on the part of the Czarist and bourgeois counter-revolution as well as of realizing the demands of revolutionary democracy and of explaining the true class nature of the present government.

“The most urgent and important task of the Sovicts, the fulfillment of which will alone guarantee the victory over all the forces of counter-revolution and the further development and deepening of the revolution, is, in the opinion of the party, the universal arming of the people, and, in particular, the immediate creation of Workers’ Red Guards throughout the entire land.”



“1) the revolutionary overturn has been achieved by the working class and the Army representing the revolutionary peasantry,

“2) the Provisional Government expresses the demands of the Russian imperialist belligerent bourgeoisie and not the demands of the proletariat and the revolutionary peasantry,

“3) the clash between the demands of the imperialist bourgeosie and the demands of the working class and the peasantry in the revolution is inevitable in the future inasmuch as the bourgeoisie will seek to defend its own interests against the interests of the working class and the revolutionary peasantry,

“The Krasnoyarsk Soviet of Workers’, Soldiers’ and Cossacks’ Deputies resolves:

“1) to recognize as urgent that it be made clear to the broad layers of the working class, the Army and the peasantry that the Provisional Government in its composition expresses the interests of the imperialist bourgeoisie and not those of the people; that it is incapable of cooperating in carrying the present revolution through to the fulfillment of the basic demands of the proletariat and the revolutionary peasantry;

“2) to make entirely clear that the only source of the power and the authority of the Provisional Government is the will of the people who have accomplished this revolution and to whom the Provisional GovernmeDt is obliged wholly to submit;

“3) to make likewise clear that the submission of the Provisional Government to the basic demands of the revolution can be secured only by the unrelaxing pressure of the proletariat, the peasantry and the revolutionary Army, who must with unremitting energy maintain their organization around the Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies born out of the revolution, in order to transform the latter into the ter rible force of the revolutionary people;

“4) to support the Provisional Government in its activities only in so far as it follows a course of satisfying the demands of the working ejass and the revolutionary peasantry in the revolution that is taking place.”


The resolution of the Moscow District Committee is next read. It was not among the documents.


VOITINSKY (co-reporter): Leaving aside the contradictions, all three resolutions express one and the same view of the Provisional Government: The monarchist Guchkov arrests the monarch; the monarchist Miliukov becomes a member of the republican Provisional Government. Among the members of the Provisional Government there is not a single supporter of the Constituent Assembly with the exception of Kerensky – but notwithstanding this, it organizes the Constituent Assembly. While being counter-revolutionary to the core, being counter-revolutionary in all respects – in the program of the parties represented in it, and in their aims – it is nevertheless revolutionary in its activities. The contradicticn between its counter-revolutionary nature and its revolution ary activities is a basic contradiction. The reporter has called our attention to the support of Anglo-French capitalism. But that is absolutely wrong. Recall the almost threatening tone of Buchanan’s speech: We will support you only to the extent that you fulfill the promises of the Czarist government. Recall the speeches of Bonar Law and others in the House of Commons. Anglo-French capitalism is protesting, of course, not against Miliukov and not against the Government but against its activities. They are in sympathy with the Government but they are opposed to its activities and they demand that “an end be put to agitation,” in the guise of the Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies. All the sympathies of the parties that have formed the Provisional Government were inclined not to the side of participating in the revolution but of resisting it. The Octobrists and the Cadets took no part in the revolution, remaining counter-revolutionists, till the moment when the revolution conquered. The Provisional Government received the power from the hands of the people. The Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies could have refused to recognize it – and it would never have come into existence. But I ask, why then are the counter-revolutionary forces fulfilling the work of the revolution? Why didn’t the revolutionary democracy take power into its own hands instead of passing it into the hands of the moderate and liberal bourgeoisie? The answer to the second question will at the same time provide an answer to the first.

It is as clear as noonday that to take the power into our own hands at the moment when it was possible to realize the dictatorship of the democracy would have meant to ruin the bourgeois democratic revolution. The proletariat would have been unable to cope with the anarchy. The revolutionary proletariat halted at the threshold and transferred the power into other hands. We had no revolutionary democratic bourgeois parties in our country. It was impossible for the socialists to take the power into their own hands. Only one thing remained – to hand the power over to the moderate elements, but on the condition that they fulfill a revolutionary program inimical to themselves. The Cadet-Monarchists were attached to the republican Government. They are fulfilling, with hatred towards us, and without disguising their hatred, our revolutionary program. It was thus that there arose this incongruity between the activities and the inner essence of the Provisional Government which we are now witnessing. The Government is in its majority comprised of moderate bourgeois layers, but it received the power from the hands of the revolutionary people, after it had pledged to the latter to fulfill the revolutionary program of the people – to destroy the monarchy, to convene the Constituent Assembly, to democratize autonomous local rule, etc. But precisely because of this internal contradiction there must be control on the part of the Soviet of Workers’ Deputies. So long as this control exists, it [the Government] will put the program into effect. It [the Government] does not want to solve, but under the control of the revolutionary democracy it is able to solve problems of the revolution. The Cadets and the Octobrists turned to the Soviet of Workers’ Deputies with the request: “Give us Ministers.” It is objectively inevitable for the power to pass from the less revolutionary into the more revolutionary hands, but this transfer will be effected gradually, through the resignation of the more moderate Ministers and their replacement by more radical ones, but not in a revolutionary way through their violent overthrow. I ask you to consider attentively the following detail: Miliukov came with the slate of Ministers to the Soviet of Workers’ Deputies for confirmation; the threat of resignation was likewise submitted to the Soviet, that is to say, they turned to the Soviet in very much the same way as is usually done in the case of monarchs in the countries of constitutional monarchy. It is not true that the Soviet is an embryo of power. The Soviet is the power, dictating its own terms, while the Provisional Government is a clerk of the Soviet. It is impossible for us to take the power entirely into our own hands under the bourgeois system.

While recognizing the counter-revolutionary essence of the Provisional Government we must at the same time recognize that it is fulfilling revolutionary work. We must support each and every revolutionary step on its part and fight against any of its attempts to evade control, viewing that as a betrayal of and as mutiny against democracy. But in the meantime our task is to organize the forces, to prepare for the transfer of power into our own hands. Therefore not the Red Guard, but the attraction to us of the Army, the fulfillment of the socialist program, the preparation for the trans fer of power into our hands – these are our immediate tasks.

SAVELIEV: Comrade Stalin has pointed out absolutely correctly the meaning of the rôle of the bourgeoisie in the present war and of the position occupied by the proletariat. It is impossible to agree with comrade Voitinsky that Anglo-French capitalism has played no rôle. To be sure, it did not expect the revolution to attain such a sweep. The revolutionary democracy mixed all the cards. The paths of the imperialist bourgeoisie and of the revolutionary democracy momentarily crossed each other. Due to entirely different reasons, to entirely different motives, the two forces crisscrossed in such a manner as to coincide during the moment of the overthrow of the autocracy. In any case, having crossed, having taken to this path, the Russian bourgeoisie has had to follow in the wake of the proletariat, i.e., it found the path already closed to any compromise with the autocracy that was in process of liquidation. It made the pretense of join ing the insurrectionary people. But why did we get such a situation? Because the relation of forces in the country was not such as wooud allow the dictatorship of the proletariat.

Comrade Saveliev moves the following resolution for adoption:

”1) Whereas the Provisional Government brought forward by the moderate bourgeois classes had to take upon itself the fulfillment of a number of demands advanced by the insur rectionary people;

“2) this Provisional Government is incapable of solving all the tasks which have been posed by the present revolution;

“3) the concentration of the revolutionary forces and the focal point of their consolidation are the Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies – in the cities, together with the Soviets of Peasants’ and Farmhands’ Deputies now being organized in the villages – as the organs of revolutionary power;

“4) in the subsequent development of the process, and at a certain point of this development, the revolution will realize the full measure of the power of the proletariat in an alliance with the democratic section of the peasantry and the revolutionary Army for the full realization of the demands of the insurrectionary people,

“We recognize that at the present moment it is necessary:

“1) to maintain unrelaxing control over the Provisional Government and to conduct a struggle against all inclinations on its part to manifest its counter-revolutionary tendencies;

“2) to consolidate all the forces around the Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies – as the organs of revolutionary power which are alone capable both of repelling the attempts of the Czarist and bourgeois counter-revolution as well as of realizing the demands of the revolutionary democracy; and

“3) to clarify the true class nature of the present Government.”

GARIN: I do not believe, comrades, that there is anybody here who would agitate for undermining the confidence in the Provisional Government in so far as its activity is directed toward the benefit of the people. But naturally we must issue a declaration to the effect that the revolution has been accomplished by the people, that the Provisional Govern ment has given the people an IOU which it must pay. But if it should fail to fulfill its obligations, then the people will demand not only full payment, but collect the interest too.

The Helsingfors Committee of the SDLPR has adopted the following resolution:

“To support the Provisional Government, in so far as it fulfills its obligations as proclaimed to the whole nation, and so long as the Provisional Government is inclined to follow the path of the revolutionary conquests for the benefit of Free Russia. While so doing, we, social democrats, must use all means to eliminate among the people those trivial demands which prior to the convocation of the Constituent Assembly might raise a wall between the people and the Provisional Government.”

MILIUTIN: We are all agreed that the Provisional Government is counter-revolutionary in essence. Then why are there disagreements on the question of our attitude toward it? Voitinsky says that the Provisional Government is bourgeois, but that it received the power from the hands of the people and is carrying through the people’s program. The power is in our hands and we must give active support to the Government in carrying through the measures aimed to fortify the conquests of the revolution. Stalin, on the other hand, speaks of the broadening of the tasks of the revolution. The difference lies not in the conclusions but in the tactics. We proceed from different basic assumptions. Voitinsky has caught the technical side but missed the socio-political side. The fact that the Provisional Government submitted the ministerial slate is meaningless. Our revolution is not only a political but also a social revolution. A government consisting of the rep resentatives of the bourgeoisie is therefore counter-revolu tionary. The most important things that the Provisional Government must realize are: the war question, the social questions. In this sphere we can place no confidence in it. We must extend and fortify the conquests of the revolution but not solidarize with the steps of the Provisional Government.

STAROSTIN: Voitinsky has missed the social side of the revolution, hut he has grasped the political side. What has compelled the Provisional Government to take the power into its hands? The fear lest it lose the possibility of attaining its imperialist plans. On the other hand, the working class was unable at that time to advance its own slate, and we ourselves didn’t know what was going to happen. Petrograd could not sit and wait for a number of Vendees. Had we known here that the whole of Russia would join in, then per haps we might have taken power into our own hands.

An offensive against democracy is already in progress. Novoye Vrema writes that the soldiers have to stay in the trenches 24 hours at a stretch, but the workers are introducing the eight-hour day. In some places, outright pogrom agitation is being conducted. It is necessary to make a definite declaration as to the extent of our support to the Provisional Government. The speaker is not in agreement with the point on the “Red Guard.” This might be construed as mistrust of the Red Army and engender discord. If the revolutionary Army does not back us up, then dozens of Red Guard detachments will not be able to accomplish anything. Our task therefore must be to do our utmost to strengthen our influence on the revolutionary Army.

GOLOSCHEKIN: Should the Provisional Government take revolutionary steps – for instance, proclaim the confiscation of the lands – we will support it. But we cannot vote it complete confidence. Everybody is agreed that the Provisional Government is counter-revolutionary both in its personnel and in its essence. Under the pressure of the masses it is accomplishing revolutionary tasks, and to this extent, it intrenches itself. We must not overlook that the masses are saying that the Provisional Government has done everything. Voitinsky envisions a parliamentary method of the struggle for power! The government will depart of its own accord, and no struggle for power will be necessary. We forget that for the time being it is hiding its claws, and we ourselves are strengthening it. If we want to struggle against the counter-revolution, we must aim for the seizure of power, but without forcing events. How? By grouping around the Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies so that gradually the Soviet assumes all functions, and dominates all spheres of activity. It is necessary to teach the people to see that they are getting everything from the Soviet.

The speaker concludes with a proposal to proclaim an All-National Militia.

VASSILIEV: We all have the same attitude to the Provisional Government. But that is not the task of the moment. On the agenda is the creation of a revolutionary provisional government. Having accomplished the revolution, the people have created the Provisional Government, but this government is non-revolutionary not because Miliukov and Guchkov sit in it – no; even if they should go away – the others likewise will not prove any more revolutionary. Our task, therefore, is to prepare a revolutionary government. All government consists of executive and controlling power. We have an organ of revolutionary control in the Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies, but the executive power has not yet been created among us. The longer it exists, the more powerful the Provisional Government will become, for at its disposal are enormous resources, the entire state machinery. Our task is the formation of a provisional revolutionary parliament which will put forth executive power. There must be created as quickly as possible a permanent organ comprised of the representatives of the proletariat and of the revolutionary Army of all Russia which would function as the provisional revolutionary parliament up to the convocation of the Constituent Assembly. The Provisional Government must be viewed as the executive organ of the Provisional Revolutionary Parliament. It must not initiate a single important measure without the knowledge and approval of the Provisional Revolutionary Parliament. The Provisional Revolutionary Parliament must be empowered to issue, in agreement with the Provisional Government, decrees on all vital questions.

Such a correlation between the Provisional Government and the Provisional Revolutionary Parliament would decisively do away with the question of dual power.

Will we go there? – In 1905, we said that we will participate in a revolutionary government. There can be talk not of giving support but of subordinating the Provisional Government to the Provisional Revolutionary Parliament.

The speaker proposes the following draft resolution:

”1) Placing above all else the international solidarity of the working class, we heartily hail and support the Manifesto of the Petrograd Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies to the people of the whole world, and its appeal to all proletarians that they put an end to imperialism and to the debauch of predatory passions in their own respective countries, and that they cooperate with might and main for the most rapid termination of the bloody slaughter. Only the peoples themselves can conclude an honest and a stable peace.

“2) Revolutionary democratic Russia does not seek an inch of foreign soil, or a penny of foreign property. But not an inch of our own soil or a penny of our own property can be taken away from us. The fate of disputed regions, the fate of oppressed nationalities in all belligerent countries and in the entire world must be left to the free decision of the subject nationalities. No annexations, no contributions, and the free self-determination of all nations – that is our platform of peace!

“3) Considering that the European war, which has convulsed the socio-economic life of the entire terrestrial globe, has been engendered by the predatory urge of the rulers in all countries; and that the earliest possible termination of this war which is ruining the best forces and the culture of the states involved in it will be in the interests of the proletariat and the democracy of the whole world, we urge the Provisional Government to turn both to the Allies as well as their foes with a proclamation to open peace negotiations on the above-stated basis.

“4) But so long as peace is not concluded we must stand fully armed; and in guarding the interests of new democratic Russia we must increase tenfold our efforts, for we are now defending our budding liberties. The revolutionary army must be powerful and unconquerable. It must be provided by the workers and by the Provisional Government with everything necessary to strengthen its forces. Discipline in the ranks, being the necessary condition of an army’s strength, must be sustained not out of fear but out of free will, and based upon mutual confidence between the democratic officer staff and the revolutionary soldiers.

“5) If the summons of the Petrograd Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies, and our revolution find an echo in the midst of the European proletariat and democracy, if in Western Europe a revolution breaks out against predatory capitalism, we will support our international comrades with all our might, and we will struggle for a social revolution.”

SKRYPNIK: What is understood by the term “support”? So far as I was able to gather, everybody said that the Provisional Government has been undertaking these or those revolutionary measures under the pressure of the revolutionary proletariat. But this is not the support of the Government but of those measures which we ourselves demanded and which it has been putting into effect. On the other hand, the question of support obviously has another meaning, namely not the support of measures, but a declaration of confidence in it [the Government] before the eyes of Russia, and the rest of the world. We cannot extend such confidence to it. The Government is not fortifying but checking the course of the revolution. For instance, let us take the replacement of the old power. The Government has replaced it, but in a half hearted manner in order to restrain the further development of the revolution. It has transferred power to the local city administrations and the representatives of Zemstvos, entrusting power not to the revolution but to those elements that were mobilizing for counter-revolution. On the war question, it has prepared a loophole for itself; on the agrarian question – it has not solved it, but declares that it is preparing measures for its solution. In view of this, we will support the measures introduced by the Government in the interests of the revolution, hut we will not declare confidence in it.

YAKHONTOY: In speaking of the Provisional Government, it is necessary to bear in mind the Government as it exists at the present moment. We should not prejudge what it will become. Comrade Stalin is correct in saying that the Provisional Government fortifies the conquests of the revolution. We are accustomed to look at events objectively. From the objective standpoint – it [the Government] is revolutionary. It is the captive of the revolution. While being counter-revolutionary in essence, it convokes the Constituent Assembly, it replaces the old ruling power, in short, it clears the path for the revolution. Everybody speaks of the counter-revolutionary nature of the Government but nobody adduces facts to prove its counter-revolutionary activity. In speaking of the attitude to the Government, we are concerned not with an expression of confidence but with the support of measures aimed to fortify the conquests of the revolution.

Those who talk about the immediate replacement of the Government forget one thing. The war has called forth devastation, and there are no objective forces able to direct the mechanism. Had the democracy taken power in its own hands, it would have meant the defeat of the revolution. The democracy must strive to this, that it prepare itself for the moment when it will take power into its own hands. But striving toward this new power, it must support the Provisional Government.

SEVRUK: Comrade Miliutin has correctly pointed out that the divergence between the resolutions presented by the Bureau and by comrade Voitinsky is conditioned upon different principled postulates. In the resolution of the Bureau no mention is made of the support of the Provisional Government. But what does it generally say about the attitude to the Provisional Government? It speaks of what not to do; the conclusions must be read between the lines; but that is not enough for a political program. Some say: How to support the Government? The answer to that is contained in our party program: “To support every oppositionist step directed to ... etc.” I agree with Miliutin that Voitinsky has overlooked the socio-political side. The final point in Voitinsky’s resolution must be amplified in two directions: (1) to mobilize the forces around the Soviet, unfolding the agitation for the struggle against the counter-revolutionary propaganda aimed at the Soviet; (2) to organize the agitation among the troops on the agrarian question.

KANATCHIKOV: If, as comrade Voitinsky says, the provinces lagged behind at the moment when the Government was formed in Petrograd, then it follows logically that when the provinces have become organized, the executive power which does not correspond to the demands of the country must withdraw. In such a moment as demands the maximum exertion of forces, the power not only fails to organize but it even puts a brake on the development of the revolution. The executive power must be brought into harmony with the mood of the country. In the further development of the revolution the power must pass to the Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies which must be precisely the one to put forth the executive power.

KRESTINSKY: As to practical action there is no disagreement between Stalin and Voitinsky. We will not immediately overthrow the Provisional Government. How do I envisage the current situation of the Provisional Government? The Provisional Government is the clerk of the Soviet. At the apex of the revolution the supreme organ of power will be the Soviet of Workers’ Deputies and Peasants’ or Army Deputies. As yet, the Soviets are only embryos of power. So long as that power is not organized we will tolerate the Provisional Government, even if it parts company with us. What will happen then? It is schematically possible, that the Provisional Government by renewing its personnel will faithfully serve us. Then we will not replace it. The most probable initiator of the clash between the present Government and the revolutionary people will not be ourselves but the Provisional Government itself, and then we shall have to take power into our own hands. Finally, there is a third possible course. When our strength grows and we know that the provinces are with us and that they remain uninfluenced by the lure of names, we will ourselves assume the offensive. And it is for that moment that we must prepare ourselves. The resolution of Voitinsky is far too mild, it does not point out the inevitability of a clash. It is strange to talk of supporting one’s own clerk. We must underscore in our resolution that the Provisional Government and ourselves represent two hostile forces.

SVERDLOV: Introduces a motion to close the discussion, elect a committee and give the floor to the reporters for summaries.

VOITINSKY: Speaks against the motion, inasmuch as he fears that the same thing will happen as with the resolution on war.

Sverdlov’s motion is carried.

The discussion is closed. The reporter and co-reporter are given the floor to sum up.

VOITINSKY: Comrades have said that in my resolution I paid too much attention to the political side of the Government’s activity and missed the social side. But those who argued against me overlook that at the present moment special legislation is being energetically introduced not in the shape of legal enactments but in the shape of agreements with the Soviet and that here the Government under our pressure is doing not what it would have liked to do, and that here, too, it is putting our program into effect. A vote of confidence [from the party] cannot be given, but support to it can be shown. We must not forget that on various questions the Government will be unable to cope with a whole number of tasks facing it. A defeat on the food supply question would be not only a defeat for the Government but also a defeat for us, because we, too, will be unable to cope with the disruption of the transport system. We need the Government as a technical clerk. We must prepare the apparatus; by entering into all the organs, into all the departments. If Petrograd or the Army are left without bread, the indignation will be directed not against the Provisional Government but against us. Without our support the Government will be unable to cope with a number of technical tasks. If you say that you will support certain measures – then you must express this in the resolution. You must point out that the moment that the Provisional Government steps from under our control and takes counter-revolutionary steps, we will go head on against it. But when it fulfills our program, we support it. We will come out against it because it betrays the revolution. The people must know that we are revolution ary not for the sake of revolution, that we have our own program ...

STALIN: I will speak on the first point which has aroused disagreement. Up to now the revolutionary initiative has come from the Soviet. The Soviet of Workers’ Deputies has issued declarations, broached issues and made threats, while the Provisional Government has balked, struggled only finally to agree. In such a situation can one speak of supporting such a Government? One can rather speak of the Government supporting us. It is not logical to speak of the support of the Provisional Government, on the contrary, it is more proper to speak of the Government not hindering us from putting our program into effect.

The speaker proposes that a resolution which does not support the Provisional Government be accepted as a basis. The Government is organizing the army, it is arousing the hostility of the soldiers against the workers, and leaning on the strength of Anglo-French capitalism, it is already organizing the counter-revolution.

VOITINSKY: Speaks in favor of theses being prepared for the Committee. Is it not necessary to point out in the resolution that we give support to steps directed toward the development of the revolution?

(For – 38; against – 26.)

Election of a committee to draft the resolution.

The following elected: Voitinsky, Miliutin, Stalin, Sammer, Sevruk, Krestinsky, Kamenev, Eliava, Teodorovich.



Chairman: Nogin.

Secretarie8: Comrades Boki and Drabkina.

KAMENEV: Reports that he has entered into negotiations with the internationalist SR’s and Mensheviks. Inasmuch as it is clear that an absolutely inacceptable resolution of the Executive Committee [of the Soviets] will be passed, it is necessary to counterpose to it a joint resolution of the internationalists. The SR’s (22) are a national minority. They will not vote against the resolution of the Bolsheviks and will withdraw their resolution. The Mensheviks are seeking to introduce a single resolution and are for uniting on a joint resolution. Should factional discipline be imposed to compel the minority to submit to the majority, the internationalists will come out in favor of our resolution.

The plan of action is as follows: If we do not obtain a majority, then at least to constitute a compact internationalist minority. And to vote against the resolution of the Executive Committee. After the adoption of the resolution of the Executive Committee, to introduce the following four amendments:

  1. The Executive Committee demands of the Provisional Government as its next step that it proclaim openly to the whole world the readiness of the peoples of emancipated Russia to enter into peace negotiations on the basis of the right of all nations to self-determination without annexations and contributions.
  2. The Conference, rejecting all hopes in the secret diplo matic game of the imperialist governments that plunged the world into war, proclaims that the Only ally of revolutionary Russia in her struggle for the liquidation of the imperialist war is the international proletariat.
  3. Demands from the Provisional Government that it break with secret diplomacy and make public the treaties of Czarism, concluded behind the back of the people.
  4. Rejects the principle of class peace, advantageous Only to the bourgeoisie and the landlords who make profits out of the war.

The amendments are intended not for the purpose of improving the resolution but to demonstrate a point of view. In Tseretelli’s resolution there is no mention of peace, hence insertion: 1) the Conference demands from the European governments the open assumption of peace negotiations; 2) makes no mention of the only ally in the struggle for peace – the international proletariat; 3) to insert: “Demands a break with secret diplomacy”; 4) to add at the end – ”Rejects ...

VOITINSKY: Considers that the amendments are unquestionably acceptable but proposes that they be first introduced in the Executive Committee, and that all measures be taken to have them accepted there. All the comrades who are in agreement with it should vote for the resolution of comrade Kamenev.

KRASSIKOV: The gist of the matter is not in the amendments and not in a demonstrative presentation of social-democratic slogans, but in the current moment. If we recognize the Soviets of Deputies as the organs that express the will of the people, then the question before us is not the consideration of what concrete measures must be taken on this or that issue. If we think that the time has now come to realize the dictatorship of the proletariat, then we ought to pose the question that way. We unquestionably have the physical force for a seizure of power. I believe that we will have sufficient physical force both in Petrograd as well as in other cities. [Comotion in the hall. Shouts: ’Not true.”] I was present.

THE CHAIRMAN (interrupting): The question under discussion involves the practical steps for today. The question of the dictatorship of the proletariat is not under discussion.

KRASSIKOV (continues): If we do not pose the question that way then ought we to take steps in relation to the Provisional Government which.

THE CHAIRMAN deprives him of the floor.

NOGIN: Comrade Voitinsky’s declaration that we should act contrary to the customary procedure of party organizations is not subject to discussion. We consider our sessions as party sessions, the decisions of which are binding on all.

SEVRUK: Moves that a vote be taken first on the amendments and then on the resolution. If the resolution as amended is adopted, then the other resolutions will not be read. To safeguard against this, and to have the battle take place, I propose that the Bureau of the internationalists comes to an agreement with the Prasidium, that the vote is taken first as to which one of the resolutions is accepted as the basis.

As to the question of being bound – all those present are duty bound to submit to the majority].

BAGDATIEV: If the amendments are not accepted then what will we do? Will we vote for? [KAMENEV: Against!] Is that the opinion of comrade Kamenev, or is it the opinion of all the internationalists? [KAMENEV: The question was not discussed.]

SKRYPNIK: Moves to vote on the amendments drafted by the Committee and if they meet with no objections, to proceed to a vote without a discussion.

ELTSIN: So far as the party statutes are concerned, those who are in the minority may abstain at the Conference but they cannot vote against the decision.

A vote is taken as to whether this question should be dis cussed. Defeated by all votes against three.

Comrade Kamenev’s amendments are put to a vote.

BAGDATIEV: It is necessary to discuss whether we should introduce the amendments at all.

The majority is against discussion.

Amendment 1 is voted on.

VOITINSKY proposes an amendment to the amendment.

SKRYPNIK: Opposed to amendments as we have before us a compromise platform and any changes would require a reconsideration of the whole.

Motion to accept amendments adopted.

QUESTION: Who has amendments to introduce?

DELEGATE: Proposes to close the list of speakers and to designate individuals representing all factions.

SAVELIEV: Moves that the matter be put in such a way as would not create the impression that we are in agreement with the resolution. Therefore, I propose that the amendments are not introduced officially in the name of our faction.

KAMENEV: The speakers will make that clear. Ought we go to the meeting with the Mensheviks?

KRESTINSKY: It is meaningless to go to such a meeting.

NOGIN: We ought to discuss and seek to arrive at an agreement but it is impermissible to arrange such meetings on personal initiative.


Time: 3:30 a.m.

Present: In addition to the Bolshevik faction – Khinchuk, Rozanov, Ehrlich, Lieber, Ermansky, Kopelinsky, N.D. Sokolov.

Comrade Ehinchuk is added to the Prasidium, and he takes the chair to conduct the meeting.

NOGIN: At a gathering which represents the party Conference, it has been decided to discuss jointly the question of the attitude to the war.

KHINCHUK: What is of importance is not to determine upon whose initiative this was done hut the attitude to the war. There are three resolutions – that of the Executive Committee, that of the Mensheviks and that of the Bolsheviks.

KAMENEV: At a private conference between the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks we arrived at an agreement about the resolution. But the Bolsheviks have been elected to this Con ference, while the Mensheviks have not. That is why it is necessary for this meeting to approve this draft.

EHRLICH: We ought not only discuss the resolution on the attitude toward the war, but also decide the tactical question as to our attitude toward the text of the manifesto drafted by the Executive Committee. If we consider the draft acceptable to us, then we should declare our own point of view; but if it is acceptable, then we should make our viewpoint known without sharpening the issue.

KHINCHUK: Is the draft final in character or can changes be introduced?

EHRLICH: Does the Executive Committee consider it pos sible to introduce changes?

SEVRUK: All the faction conferences held up to now have made clear that within both tendencies there are two points of view: 1) the anti-defensist or, as it is called, the internationalist viewpoint; and 2) the viewpoint of revolutionary defensism. To the extent that these viewpoints exist in the conferences, to the same extent they will manifest themselves at the Soviet Conference too. I believe that when comrade Tseretelli put the question of the social democrats’ supporting the position of the Executive Committee, he took as his starting point the fact that everybody was in fundamental agreement with the position of the Executive Committee. It is therefore necessary to clarify the question as to whether the social democratic delegation will vote for or against the draft of the Executive Committee. It is necessary to clarify the position of the majority and then to decide the question of the minority. I move that each group elaborate its own resolution and come out at the Conference in the name of the majority and of the minority. I welcome this meeting because instead of four points of view, we will have two: that of the majority and that of the minority.

KAMENEV: To pose here the question of defensism and anti-defensism is to repeat the discussion which we have already had. We have come to the conclusion that it is imper missible to vote for the resolution of the Executive Committee. It is not a socialist resolution. The Executive Committee assumes in it the viewpoint of Henderson and Thomas. It is impossible to vote for a resolution which says nothing about peace, about the abrogation of the secret treaties left over from Czarism. Another resolution must be counterposed to it. Our task is to fuse the socialist-internationalists around the resolution. [Reads the resolution.]

ROZANOV: I take part in this private conference, empowered by nobody. At the present time, in many places in the provinces, there is taking place the spontaneous unification of the masses of Bolsheviks and Mensheviks. Every time that party activity is revived, such a unification takes place. I consider this to be a Sign of a healthy instinct on the part of the working class masses who strive with all their might for the creation of a united social democratic party. I consider it necessary that whenever possible all public state ments generally should be made in solidarity. And I appeal to all those comrades who are not satisfied with the resolution to make concessions. In particular, I appeal to those comrades who are defensists and who are dissatisfied with the resolution. Comrades, do not stress the disagreements, for this will cause a split.

As regards the text of the resolution, it underscores, as has already been said at the Menshevik conference, that the Provisional Government is not revolutionary in itself, that the proletariat of all countries has a common basis for solidarity, and that it is necessary to exert all our strength to re-enforce this basis of solidarity. The masses lacked this basis, so long as the revolution did not break out. Only when the democratic idea triumphed, did this solidarity manifest itself.

With respect to the last point, I foresee objections on the part of the defensists. The compromise will satisfy neither the comrades Bolsheviks nor the comrades Defensists. But, nevertheless, both sides can arrive at an agreement. After all, it is impossible to satisfy at one and the same time both sides, because we have two different viewpoints here, and it is impossible not to fool anybody and to have a single resolu tion. The appeal to remain at the posts cannot be interpreted as primitively as is being done by some soldiers, namely:

Neither to advance nor retreat. While the defensists do not look upon the Bolsheviks and the internationalist-Mensheviks as people upon whom one could spit – and I hope there is nothing of the sort here – you should consider whether or not it is expedient, while remaining socialists, to cause a large section of the party to split off, merely because this does not correspond to the mood of the soldier and peasant masses – and all the more so, of the bourgeoisie! [Applause]

To us you are valuable as representatives of the working class masses, and you defensists will be drawn into a single socialist party. For the sake of this future, I call upon you to unite on the resolution.

Motion is made to have two reporters for the second tendency: Lieber and Voitinsky.

LIEBER: Comrade Rozanov is absolutely wrong in posing the question of the prospects of our future party structure in dependence upon the attitude on the question of defensism. As far as I know, within the Bolshevik tendency there is taking place the same struggle around the question of the attitude to defensism. In consequence, we must do away with the old division between Bolsheviks and Mensheviks, and speak only of our attitude toward the war. Comrade Rozanov correctly said that precisely at the moment when the question of the unity of the social democracy is especially vital, we are being threatened with a split in the party. But he forgot another great danger: That the proletariat may become isolated from the rest of the democracy at such a moment as we are now living through, and the social democracy in its turn may become isolated from the proletariat. And I appeal to you not to forget the enormous task facing us, and not to substitute for this problem, the dominant role of the social democracy.

Every attempt to evade giving an answer to the question of our attitude to defensism is doomed to failure, because the bourgeoisie is conducting a forthright agitation. It is politi cally more advantageous to renounce defensism altogether than to come out with a compromise. For we cannot face unarmed the bourgeoisie which is conducting an agitation. In the resolution we speak of: Soldiers, Workers. But up to now it has been our habit to operate with the class. Where is the place of the class? Where is its post? [VOICE: ”Remain at your post!”]

The formula of the resolution, you must agree, is not an answer, but an evasion. It is inacceptable both to you and to ourselves. For the sake of the urgent need of the unity of the proletarian front, in order that the victory of the revolution may be made secure, and bearing in mind that we have not yet conquered – we ought to remember that we cannot adopt a resolution which isolates the proletariat from the democracy, while isolating the social democracy from the proletariat. The delegates from the provinces report that the moods locally are quite different from the mood prevailing here. If we do not stand in a majority on a position opposed in principle to that of the Executive Committee.

KAMENEV: We do so stand.

LIEBER: ... then there was no need to carry on any discussion. But we are facing an abyss, not a party, but an abyss into which we are plunging the proletariat. Can the social democracy permit itself the luxury of digging an abyss between itself and the workers and the soldiers who have gathered for the Conference? If the question involved the triumph of the chauvinist moods expressed at the Conference by a few soldiers, then of course I would be in favor of an abyss, because this mood of the soldiery can lead the proletariat into the abyss. But the question is whether we should strive to break away the more conscious section of the delegation, or repel them towards the less conscious. This, of course, does not do away with the necessity of advancing those sides which we think necessary to advance. The line of conduct, dictated by political tact, speaks for the necessity of uniting the majority of the Conference on a platform which, though less illuminating, will be acceptable to all. We will vote for the resolution of the Executive Committee, but this will not hinder us from coming forward with our own, more illuminating declaration.

VOITINSKY: I am ready to put my signature to every word of comrade Lieber. In both factions there are both tendencies. There are two viewpoints that are far removed from each other. The representatives of both factions are on the Executive Committee. The entire work of the Soviet has been conducted under our banner. If we engage in a battle over the resolution, we will discredit our representatives on the Executive Committee not only at the present session but in the future as well. The Executive Committee must be far more cautious in its actions than a political party. It is impermissible to thrust socialist views upon this body. This is the business of parties, but as the representatives of factions and parties we are duty bound to come out independently with a demonstrative declaration of our own point of view. Kamenev has made such a declaration, and we must continue to do likewise in the future. Our public appearance must be a fighting, not a theoretical one, but adapted to the level of the understanding of the masses; for this reason we must cede certain theoretical postulates in return for practical effects. Our coming out with an independent resolution would weaken the forces of the Executive Committee, and thereby deal a heavy blow to the cause of revolution. We must announce that the resolution does not satisfy us, but when it comes to voting on the resolution, then we must vote unanimously [applause] in favor of the resolution, without introducing any amendments, and without raising any objections.

ERMANSEY: Comrade Lieber has declared that the resolution gives only a negative answer, and not a positive one. This is not true. The resolution does give an answer: Peace on an international scale.

What has happened to make the comrades who previously stood on the internationalist viewpoint, speak now of the necessity of changing our attitude toward the war? – 1) The Russian Revolution; 2) The proclamation of the Provisional Government. But in essence there has been no change in the situation, and therefore there are no reasons for a change of attitude toward defensism. Has the imperialist content of the war actually changed because of the fact that Russia has become a republic? After all, France and America are republics too, and this notwithstanding, they are conducting imperialist policies. As regards the proclamation of the Provisional Government, only the Russian Government has renounced annexations; everything else depends on what England and France say. I am certain nothing will come of it. We know that a government headed by Miliukov, who did not resign, knows that France and England who have invested colossal resources in the enterprise called war, will not allow this. The intent of the proclamation is to weaken German imperialism by disrupting civil peace. If we change our attitude to the war before there is a change in the situation itself – what will be said abroad? That we are utilizing a superficial pretext in order to conduct an imperialist war under the cover of beautiful slogans. Within certain limits we are falling into the position which is being taken by the semi-official organs. We conduct the war only in order to defend the country.

The soldiers will understand the slogan if we develop it. After all, the Germans can say that they have long stood for peace, that their government has even come out with peace proposals, but that our coalition has replied with a refusal.

KAPELANSKY: The question must be discussed on two planes: What is our principled attitude to the resolution of the Executive Committee, and what is our own resolution. If we were to come out in the sense of not supporting the resolution of the Executive Committee this would weaken the Executive Committee and the Soviet, who have great work ahead of them, and thereby we would cause enormous harm. The resolution of Kamenev is not an internationalist resolution. What does it mean: “Remain at your posts”? We must give a clear answer to the soldier as to what he must do until the time when an insurrection breaks out in Western Europe.

Discussion closed.

The following motions are put to a vote:

“1) To come out with an absolutely independent joint compromise resolution.

“2) To announce that we support the resolution of the Executive Committee, and make a demonstrative declaration of our own resolution.

“3) To introduce amendments to the resolution of the Executive Committee.

”4) To try to come to an agreement beforehand with the Executive Committee on the amendments.

”5) To discard all resolutions and wholly to adhere to the appeal of the Executive Committee.”

NOGIN: There are two sharply different lines: To adhere to the resolution of the Executive Committee, or to accept Kamenev’s resolution as the basis.

KROKHMAL: Moves that the following be put to a vote:

  1. To accept the appeal of the EC;
  2. Whether to introduce amendments.

KRESTINSKY: Who is eligible to vote? In the Bolshevik conference only delegates with decisive votes could vote.

KHINCHUV: The same holds true for the Mensheviks. The decision is not unconditionally binding because the faction Conference has still to take place.

SEVRUK: Inasmuch as the question discussed is the collective position to be taken at the Conference, I move that we allow only those elected to the Conference to vote.

CHAIRMAN: Those will vote who voted at the faction Conference.

The vote is taken.

Motion 5 is put to a vote. (Defeated by all votes against 29.)

Motion 1 is put to a vote. (After three ballots: For – 74; against – 66.) The motion to come out against the resolution of the Executive Committee is adopted. (Commotion in the hall. Shouts.)

Motion 4 is put to a vote. (For – 62 – 68; against – 66 – 70.)

Motion carried: To come out with an independent resolution, taking as the basis the text of the Executive Committee.

Election of conciliationist committee.

Elections to this committee to be according to tendencies.

The following elected: Kamenev, Voitinsky, Lieber, Ermansky.

This committee is also entrusted to carry on negotiations with the Executive Committee.

The Mensheviks leave for a faction session to discuss the question of their future conduct.


Chairman: Nogin.

KRESTINSKY: If no agreement is reached, what will we do?

VOITINSKY: Proposes that the Bolsheviks who disagree with Kamenev’s resolution leave and vote with the Menshevik Defensists.

Seven men leave the hall, amoug them: Voitinsky, Sevrtik, Eliava, Yakhontov.

LUGANOVSKY: Moves that a joint plan of action be worked out, for instance, that they abstain during the voting. Moves to call back those who left and try to come to an agreement with them.

GOLOSOREKIN: Speaks against, in view of the fact that negotiations have been carried on with the defensists for several days already, and have brought no agreement. It is useless to keep this game up.

SVERDLOV: Agrees with Philip. We must have party discipline.

TSVILLING: That’s a false interpretation. Nobody knew that the Mensheviks and the. SR’s have the same disagreements as there are among ourselves. It is necessary to call them back.

TER-GABRYELAN: Announces that his mandate binds him to fight for unification. Blame for the split on our shoulders.

POZERN: Announces that he belongs to the tendency of revolutionary defensism but that he did not walk out because he considers himself bound by the Conference. He reserves the right to abstain.

ZALUTSKY: Moves that those who left be invited to return and that it be proposed to them that they abstain.

TEPLOV: Announces that he had always been a Bolshevik, and feels now obliged to declare that if things go on this way, the Army will be left without a staff. The Samara resolution differs fundamentally from the one adopted here.

A vote is taken on the motion to invite those who walked out. (The majority in favor.)

Voitinsky on his return is informed of the proposal to abstain.

VOITINSKY: Will there be objections made to the resolution?


VOITINSKY: In that case I refuse to abstain. Delegates Dan and Lieber have announced that they are withdrawing their resolution, and even though they are not at all points in agreement with the resolution of the Executive Committee, they will support it. Voitinsky declares in the name of the group of the Bolsheviks, that they too will support it.


Chairman:. Nogin.

Secretaries: Comrades Boki and Drabkina.

STALIN: Inquires whether it is permissible to allow the defensists who split last night to be present.

MILIUTIN: The question of the splitter must be settled at a general conference of the faction.

The question is tabled until there is a fuller attendance of the faction.

The Question of the Provisional Government

MILIUTIN: Reports that the Committee of Eight, actually of five, assigned to draft a resolution on the attitude to the Provisional Government was unable to arrive at any agreement. On the first point: Voitinsky remained on his original position that the Provisional Government is revolutionary, and is ours, and that therefore we have to support it. We, on the other hand, proceeded from the standpoint that the Government is not ours, but bourgeois, and strives to confine the development of the revolution. For this reason we were unable to arrive at any agreement. We will support the measures in so far as they are directed toward fortifying the conquests of the revolution. We support the revolution but we do not support the Provisional Government as such.

In the last analysis, Voitinsky’s resolution comes down to a vote of confidence.

He reads the resolution of Voitinsky and the resolution of Kamenev – Stalin, which is appended [see page 300].

VASSILIEV: Cannot understand why an agreement was not reached. After all, the majority has already expressed itself in favor of supporting the measures aimed to further the development of the revolution. In essence, I am in agreement with the second text, but am unable to see any difference between the two. After all, in question here is not the support of the Government, but of certain measures-the support and strengthening of steps taken by the Provisional Government.

KAMENEV: Inquires whether the question has been settled of counterposing his resolution to Steklov’s resolution.

NOGIN: We must first formulate our own opinion.

KAMENEV: In Steklov’s resolution the point dealing with support is absolutely inacceptable. It is impermissible to have any expression of support, even to hint at it. We can not support the Government because it is an imperialist gov ernment, because, despite its own declaration, it remains in an alliance with the Anglo-French bourgeoisie. In the Communist Manifesto there is a statement to the effect that we give support to the liberal bourgeoisie, but only in the event of its being attacked. But from Steklov’s report it is obvious that it is not they who are being attacked, but rather it is they themselves who are attacking the Soviet of Workers’ Deputies. In yesterday’s amendments to the resolution we stated that support at the present time is impossible. In view of the dual power, the will of the revolutionary people is embodied not in the Provisonal Government but in the Soviets of Workers’ Deputies; and also that the latter must be strengthened and that they must come to a clash with the Provisional Government. Our task is to point out that the only organ worthy of our support is the Soviet of Workers’ Deputies. The task of the Congress is to proclaim to all Russia that the sole expresser of the will of the revolutionary people is the Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies, and that we must strengthen and support them and not the Provisional Government.

At the Conference, all the Bolshevik speakers must point out that our task is to support the Soviets. Whether or not we should introduce our own resolution or major amendments to the resolution of the Executive Committee – that is the question which we ought to discuss here.

FEDOROV: The cardinal issue is the question of our attitude to the Provisional Government. In order to express our attitude to the Provisional Government we must first know what it represents. At the head of the Government are the representatives of the landlord class and of the big bour geoisie. The policy of these classes is the exploitation of the proletariat and the peasantry and the pursuance of imperial ist aims in the war. But whether or not the Government puts this policy into effect – that depends on the relation of forces. In order that this relationship of forces be favorable to the proletariat and the peasantry, it is necessary to strengthen the Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies. It is impermissible to support and place our confidence in a Government which does not merit it. Life itself demands a clear-cut answer. It is necessary that the proletariat and the peasantry be informed of our attitude to the Provisional Government. For this reason we must say that we do not oppose it. If it will fortify the revolution we shall not oppose it; but as soon as counter-revolutionary machinations are begun behind the backs of the people, we shall proclaim a decisive struggle against it.

MILIUTIN: Nobody on the committee will protest if the point on support is deleted from the resolution. But the majority of the Conference has decided to include the point on support. Should the present session find it possible to change its decision, it will undoubtedly take a progressive step. If after our resolution on war and the speech made by Steklov, the meeting should decide to reconsider, we would welcome this step. On points 1, 3 and 4, there was agreement reached in the committee, but on point 2, the committee felt unable to say that the Provisional Government is a revolutionary government, and we remained intransigent. I move that we exclude the point on support.

NOGIN: For those who have held the viewpoint against support, the speech of Steklov has introduced one new thought: It is clear that we ought not now talk about support but about resistance.

SKRYPNIK: Since yesterday’s speech many things have changed. There can be no more talk of supporting the Gov ernment. There is a conspiracy of the Provisional Government against the people and the revolution, and it is necessary to prepare for a struggle against it. We must present a separate resolution. The reporter speaks of danger, of the organization of the counter-revolution, hut the resolution speaks of support. At the present moment we must take one of the resolutions as the basis and proceed to a vote.

NOGIN: Moves the election of a committee consisting of three people.

STALIN: Moves to instruct the committee to change the point on support.

Comrade Stalin’s motion is voted on.

Adopted by a majority of all votes against four. The point on support is deleted from the resolution. Elections to the committtee to draft the resolution: Miliutin, Kamenev, Stalin, Teodorovich.

NOGIN: Shall we introduce our own separate resolution?

Unanimously adopted: To introduce a separate resolution.

NOGIN: There are almost 100 speakers already on the list. The list is being made up chaotically; the order is being violated. We succeeded only with difficulty in getting Kamenev placed on the list.

Our names which were among the first to be presented were found, after considerable difficulty, on the bottom. The members of the Executive Committee will speak against Steklov (Sukhanov is a co-reporter). It would be well for the committee to prepare not only the resolution but also amendments.

POZERN: Did the Mensheviks draft a resolution?

NOGIN: Proposes that we get information about the Menshevik resolution.

(Shouts: “They tricked us. Don’t bother!”)

NOGIN: This evening a solemn session will be held. I move that we propose Kamenev as a reporter. If we are refused – we do not go.

STUCHKA: (Special announcement.) In the agrarian section I am the only social democrat, the remaining fifteen are all SR’s. Other comrades must come in.

A motion is introduced to draft a resolution on the agrarian question. The following are elected on the committee to draft this resolution: Stuchka, Pozern, Teodorovich, Miliu tin, Skrypnik.

Nogin reads the resolution of Moscow Regional Conference: On the organizational tasks in the village.

NOGIN: The resolution contains a proposal to organize the seizure of lands without waiting for the Constituent Assembly. The SR’s did not dare to raise such a slogan, but proposed rather to wait for the Constituent Assembly. Upon learning of the decision of the Moscow Conference they said, “Woe to us! Now the peasants will elect the Bolsheviks.”

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Last updated on: 4.4.2007