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The Militant, 16 January 1946

Pioneer Paragraphs

Victor Serge

Bolshevism Gave Greatest Example of Real Democracy

From The Militant, Vol. IX No. 2, 13 January 1945, p. 5.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


In September, 1917, General Kornilov’s putsch collapsed pitifully, and the situation was. completely transformed. Reality, stronger than slanderous legends based on facsimiles forged in the offices of the secret service, showed who the revolutionists were and who the phrase-mongers, fakers and counter-revolutionists.

The Kerensky cabinet demonstrated clearly that it was nothing more than a phantom government, buffeted about between two possible dictatorships; either the generals, who on the reactionary side were the only men gifted with sufficient insight and force (for in periods of social instability any military second-rater is intelligent enough to comprehend the benefits, to the financiers, of authority), would resume their activity and the revolution would go the way of Bonapartism, or else the workers, soldiers and peasants, the Soviets, the Bolsheviks, would conquer by force, since there was no other way. What compromise could there be between military dictatorship and proletarian dictatorship?

Lenin and Trotsky see this plainly and hence they demand, suggest, proclaim and initiate the advance toward insurrection. The one, at the head of the party, which he succeeds in convincing not without resistance; the other, at the head of the Petrograd Soviet, where he forms a Revolutionary Military Committee, distributes arms to the workers and persuades the Soviet to decide that the revolutionary garrison will not obey the Provisional Government and will not leave the city. He has organized the insurrection before the actual uprising ...

They were not leaders in the sense that this word has assumed since the appearance of the Duce, the Ghazi, the Fuehrer, and the Beloved Leader in the USSR. Their popularity was not manufactured nor imposed; it grew up spontaneously on the basis of the confidence they earned. Their actions and their words were discussed everywhere.

They were only the first among comrades, and they would have accorded a cold reception to the dangerous imbecile who took it into his head to place them above their comrades or above the party. The life of the Politbureau and the Central Committee was at all times collective. The party discussed, tendencies appeared and disappeared, and opposition elements, which must not be confused with counter-revolutionists, agitated unceasingly in broad daylight during the whole civil war – until 1921.

They were not to disappear completely until 1925–26, when in consequence all internal life disappeared from the party. Lenin invited old opponents, Martov and Dan, the Menshevik leaders, to speak in the Central Executive

Committee of the Soviets. Anarchists belonged to the Committee. The Left Social Revolutionaries participated in the power for several months at the beginning of the regime ... Bolshevism triumphed by proclaiming to the masses and to the world a democracy of free workers, such as had never before been seen.

(From From Lenin to Stalin, by Victor Serge, pp. 20–22. Pioneer Publishers, 1937; 112 pp., 50 cents. Order from Pioneer Publishers, 116 University Place, New York 3, N.Y.)

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