J. V. Stalin
Source : Works, Vol.
3, March - October, 1917
Publisher : Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow, 1954
Transcription/Markup : Salil Sen for MIA, 2008
Public Domain : Marxists Internet Archive (2008). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit "Marxists Internet Archive" as your source.
Before resigning from the Provisional Government, Guchkov and Milyukov presented three demands: 1) restoration of discipline, 2) proclamation of an offensive, 3) curbing of the revolutionary internationalists.
The army is disintegrating, order no longer exists in it; restore discipline, curb the propaganda for peace, otherwise we resign—thus Guchkov "reported" to the Executive Committee at the conference in the Mariin-sky Palace (April 20).
We are bound to our allies, they demand our assistance in the interests of a united front; call upon the army to start an offensive, curb the opponents of the war, otherwise we resign—thus Milyukov "reported" at the same conference.
That was in the days of the "crisis of power."
The Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries on the Executive Committee pretended they would not yield.
Thereupon Milyukov published a document "explaining" his "Note"; the orators of the Executive Committee proclaimed this a "victory" for "revolutionary democracy," and—"passions subsided."
But the "victory" proved an imaginary one. A few days later a new "crisis" was announced; Guchkov and Milyukov "had" to resign; endless conferences took place between the Executive Committee and the Ministers and— "the crisis was resolved" by representatives of the Executive Committee entering the Provisional Government.
Credulous onlookers sighed with relief. At last Guchkov and Milyukov were "vanquished"! At last peace would come, peace "without annexations and indemnities"! The fratricidal slaughter was going to end!
But what happened? The tally of the "victories" of the so-called "democracy" had scarcely been counted, the "obsequies" over the retired Ministers had scarcely been read, when the new Ministers, the "socialist" Ministers, began to talk in a tone soothing to the ear of Guchkov and Milyukov!
Verily, "the dead have laid hold on the living"!
Judge for yourselves.
In his very first speech, at the Peasant Congress, 1 the new War Minister, citizen Kerensky, declared that he intended to restore "iron discipline" in the army. What sort of discipline he meant is definitely indicated in the "Declaration of Rights of the Soldier," 2 signed by Kerensky, which lays down that under "battle conditions" commanders have "the right to employ armed force . . . against subordinates who refuse to obey orders" (see clause 14 of the "Declaration").
That which Guchkov dreamed of but did not dare to execute, Kerensky has "executed" at one stroke, under cover of high-sounding, phrases about liberty, equality and justice.
What is it needed for, this discipline?
The first Minister to enlighten us on this point was Minister Tsereteli. "We are striving to end the war," he told post-office employees, "not by means of a separate peace, but by a joint victory with our Allies over the enemies of liberty" (see Vechernaya Birzhovka, 3 May 8).
If we disregard the word "liberty," which was stuck in simply for effect, if we translate this ministerially-nebulous speech into plain language, it can mean only one thing: in the interests of peace we must, in alliance with Britain and France, smash Germany, and for this, in turn, we must have an offensive.
That is what "iron discipline" is needed for—in order to prepare an offensive in the interests of a united front for a joint victory over Germany.
That which Milyukov so timidly but so persistently strove for, Minister Tsereteli has proclaimed his own program.
That was in the early days following the "resolving" of the crisis. Later the "socialist" Ministers became bolder and more outspoken.
On May 12 Kerensky issued his "order of the day" to the officers, soldiers and sailors:
". . . You will march forward, to where your leaders and your government lead you. . . . You will march . . . bound by the discipline of duty. . . . It is the will of the people that you purge our country and the world of tyrants and invaders. That is the heroic feat I call upon you to perform" (see Rech, May 14).
Is it not obvious that, essentially, Kerensky's order differs very little from the imperialist orders of the tsarist government, like the one that said: "We must fight the war to a victorious finish, we must drive the insolent enemy from our land, we must deliver the world from the yoke of German militarism . . ." and so on.
And as it is easier to talk about an offensive than to conduct one, and as some of the regiments of the Seventh Army (four of them), for example, did not deem it possible to obey the "offensive" order, the Provisional Government, together with Kerensky, passed from words to "deeds," and ordered the "insubordinate" regiments to be disbanded immediately and threatened the culprits with "deportation to penal servitude with forfeiture of all property rights" (see Vecherneye Vremya, June 1). And as all that too proved inadequate, Kerensky delivered himself of another "order," this time expressly directed against fraternization, threatening to have the "culprits" "tried and punished with the utmost rigour of the law," that is, penal servitude again (see Novaya Zhizn, June 1).
In short, the purport of Kerensky's "orders" is: attack immediately, attack at all costs, otherwise we send you to penal servitude, or put you before a firing squad.
And this at a time when the tsarist treaties with the British and French bourgeoisie remain in force, when on the basis of these treaties "we" are being definitely forced actively to support the annexationist policy of Britain and France in Mesopotamia, in Greece, in Alsace-Lorraine!
Well, but what about a peace without annexations and indemnities? What about the pledge given by the new Provisional Government to take all "resolute measures" to achieve peace? What has become of all these promises made at the time of the "crisis of power"?
Oh, our Ministers have not forgotten about peace, about peace without annexations and indemnities; they t-a-l-k about it very volubly, talk and write, write and talk. And not only our Ministers. Only the other day, in reply to the request of the Provisional Government to declare their war aims, the British and French governments announced that they, too, were opposed to annexations, but . . . only to the extent that this did not militate against the annexation of Alsace-Lorraine, Mesopotamia, etc. And the Provisional Government, in its Note of May 31 in reply to this declaration, stated in its turn that "remaining unswervingly loyal to the common cause of the Allies," it proposed "a conference of representatives of the Allied Powers to be convened in the near future, as soon as conditions permit," for the purpose of revising the agreement on war aims (see Rabochaya Gazeta, No. 72). Well, as nobody knows yet when "conditions will permit," and as this so-called "near future" will at any rate not be soon, it follows that, in fact, the "resolute struggle" for a peace without annexations is being postponed indefinitely, is degenerating into hollow and hypocritical prating about peace. But an offensive, it appears, cannot be postponed for a single moment, and all "resolute measures" are being taken to launch it, up to and including threats of penal servitude and firing squads. . . .
There is no possible room for doubt. The war has been and remains an imperialist war. The talk about peace without annexations in the face of the actual preparations for an offensive is only a mask to conceal the predatory character of the war. The Provisional Government has definitely taken the path of active imperialism. That which only yesterday seemed impossible has become possible today, thanks to the entry of "Socialists" into the Provisional Government. By masking the imperialist nature of the Provisional Government with their socialist phrasemongering they have strengthened and broadened the positions of the rising counter-revolution.
The position now is that "socialist" Ministers are being successfully utilized by the imperialist bourgeoisie for their counter-revolutionary purposes.
It is not the naive "revolutionary democrats" who are victorious, but those old hands at the imperialist game, Guchkov and Milyukov.
But lining up with the Right in foreign policy must inevitably lead to a similar turn in home policy; for in the midst of a world war foreign policy is the basis for all other policy, the hub of the whole life of the state.
And, indeed, the Provisional Government is more and more definitely taking the path of a "resolute struggle" against the revolution.
Only very recently it launched an offensive against the Kronstadt sailors, and at the same time prevented the peasants of the Petrograd Uyezd and the Penza, Voronezh and other gubernias from applying the elementary principles of democracy.
And several days ago Skobelev and Tsereteli made themselves famous (in the Herostratian sense!) by deporting Robert Grimm 4 from Russia, without trial, it is true, and simply by police order, but to the glee of the Russian imperialists.
But the Provisional Government's new line of home policy has been most graphically reflected by Minister Pereverzev ("also" a Socialist!). He demands nothing more nor less than the "speedy enactment of a law concerning crimes against the tranquility of the state." Under this law (Article 129) "any person guilty of inciting publicly or in printed matter, letters or graphic representations distributed or publicly displayed 1) to the commission of any felony, 2) to the commission of acts of violence by one section of the population against another, or 3) to disobedience of or resistance to the law or mandatory decisions or lawful orders of the authorities shall be liable to confinement in a house of correction for a period of up to three years," and "in time of war . . . to a term of penal servitude" (see Rech, June 4).
Such is the creative effort in the realm of penal legislation of this allegedly "socialist" Minister.
Obviously, the Provisional Government is steadily slipping into the embrace of the counter-revolutionaries.
That is also evident from the fact that in this connection that old hand at counter-revolution, Milyukov, is already smacking his lips at the prospect of another victory. "If the Provisional Government," he says, "has after long delay at last understood that the authorities possess other means besides persuasion, those very means they have already begun to employ—if it takes this path, then the conquests of the Russian revolution" (don ‘t laugh!) "will be consolidated." . . . "Our Provisional Government has arrested Kolyshko and deported Grimm. But Lenin, Trotsky and their comrades are still at large. . . . Our wish is that at some time or other Lenin and his comrades will be sent to the same place" . . . (see Rech, June 4).
Such are the "wishes" of that old fox of the Russian bourgeoisie, Mr. Milyukov.
Whether the Provisional Government will meet these and similar "wishes" of Milyukov, to whose voice it generally lends an attentive ear, and whether such "wishes" are now realizable at all, the near future will show.
But one thing is beyond doubt: the Provisional Government's home policy is entirely subordinated to the requirements of its active imperialist policy.
There is only one conclusion.
The development of our revolution has entered a period of crisis. The new stage in the revolution, which is forcing its way into all spheres of economic life and revolutionizing them from top to bottom, is rousing all the forces of the old and the new world. The war and the economic disruption resulting from it are intensifying class antagonisms to the utmost. The policy of compromise with the bourgeoisie, the policy of zigzagging between revolution and counter-revolution, is becoming obviously unfeasible.
One thing or the other :
Either forward against the bourgeoisie, and for transfer of power to the working people, termination of the war and economic disruption, and organization of production and distribution;
Or backward with the bourgeoisie, for an offensive and prolongation of the war, against resolute measures for elimination of economic disruption, for anarchy in production, and for a frankly counter-revolutionary policy.
The Provisional Government is definitely taking the path of outright counter-revolution.
It is the duty of revolutionaries to close their ranks and drive the revolution forward.
Soldatskaya Pravda, No. 42, June 13, 1917
1. The First All-Russian Peasant Congress met in Petrograd from May 4 to 28, 1917. The majority of the delegates belonged to the Socialist-Revolutionary Party or kindred groups. The overwhelming number of the delegates from the gubernias represented the rich peasants, the kulaks.
2. Declaration of Rights of the Soldier — an order of the day issued to the army and navy by Kerensky, War Minister in the Provisional Government, on May 11, 1917, defining the basic rights of servicemen. It substantially curtailed the rights won by the soldiers in the early days of the February revolution. The Socialist-Revolutionary and Menshevik Executive Committee of the Petrograd Soviet welcomed the declaration, but the soldiers and sailors held meetings of protest and called it a "declaration of no rights."
3. Vechernaya Birzhovka—contemptuous nickname given to the evening edition of the Birzheviye Vedomosti (Stock Exchange News), a bourgeois paper founded in St. Petersburg in 1880. The nickname "Birzhovka" became a synonym of the unprincipled and corrupt press. The paper was suppressed in October 1917 by the Revolutionary Military Committee of the Petrograd Soviet.
4. Robert Grimm, secretary of the Swiss Socialist Party, had come to Russia in May 1917. Early in June a report appeared in the bourgeois papers alleging that Grimm had been assigned the mission of probing the possibility of a separate peace between Germany and Russia. The Provisional Government made this a pretext for expelling him from Russia.