J. V. Stalin

At the Demonstration

June 20, 1917

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.

The day is bright and sunny. The column of demonstrators is endless. From morn to eve the procession files towards the Field of Mars. An endless forest of banners. All factories and establishments are closed. Traffic is at a standstill. The demonstrators march past the graves with banners lowered and the Marseillaise and the Internationale give place to You Have Fallen Victims. The air reverberates to the roar of voices. Every now and again resound the cries: "Down with the ten capitalist Ministers!" "All power to the Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies!" And in response loud and approving cheers ring out from all sides.

What strikes one most in surveying the demonstration is the absence of bourgeois and fellow travellers. Unlike the procession on the day of the funeral, when the workers were lost in a sea of tradesfolk and petty bourgeois, the demonstration of June 18 was essentially a proletarian demonstration, for workers and soldiers were its principal element. The Cadets had declared a boycott on the eve of the demonstration and, through their Central Committee, had urged "abstention" fromit. And, indeed, the bourgeois not only refrained from participating in it—they literally hid themselves away. The Nevsky Prospect, usually so crowded and bustling, was on that day absolutely denuded of its bourgeois frequenters.

In short, it was really a proletarian demonstration, a demonstration of the revolutionary workers, leading the revolutionary soldiers.

An alliance of the workers and soldiers against the bourgeois, who had deserted the field, with the lower middle class remaining neutral — such was the outward picture of the march of June 18.

Not a Procession but a Demonstration

The march of June 18 was not a simple promenade, a parade, as the procession on the day of the funeral undoubtedly was. It was a demonstration of protest, a demonstration of the virile forces of the revolution calculated to change the balance of forces. It is extremely characteristic that the demonstrators did not confine themselves merely to proclaiming their will, but demanded the immediate release of Comrade Khaustov, * former member of the staff of Okopnaya Pravda.1 We refer to the All-Russian Conference of Army Organizations of our Party, which took part in the demonstration and demanded of the Executive Committee, in the person of Chkheidze, the release of Comrade Khaustov; and Chkheidze promised to take all measures to secure his release "this very day."

The whole character of the slogans, which expressed protest against the "orders" of the Provisional Government and against its entire policy, showed without a doubt that the "peaceful procession," which it was intended to turn into an innocent promenade, grew into a mighty demonstration of pressure upon the government.

No Confidence in the Provisional Government

A feature that struck the eye was the fact that not a single factory and not a single regiment displayed the slogan: "Confidence in the Provisional Government!" Even the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries forgot (or, rather, did not dare!) to display it. They had anything you please—"No split!" "For unity!" "Support the Soviet!" "Universal education!" (believe it or not!) —but the chief thing was missing: there was no call for confidence in the Provisional Government, not even with the sly reservation "to the extent that. . . ." Only three groups ventured to display the confidence slogan, but even they were made to repent it. These were a group of Cossacks, the Bund group and Plekhanov's Yedinstvo group. "The Holy Trinity"—the workers on the Field of Mars ironically called them. Two of them (the Bund and the Yedinstvo) were compelled by the workers and soldiers to furl their banners amidst cries of "Down with them!" The Cossacks, who refused to furl their banner, had it torn to shreds. And one anonymous "confidence" streamer, stretched "in the air" across the entrance to the Field of Mars, was torn down by a group of soldiers and workers while the approving public cried: "Confidence in the Provisional Government is hanging in mid-air."

In short, no confidence in the government on the part of the overwhelming majority of the demonstrators, and obvious cowardly hesitation of the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries to go "against the stream"— such was the general tone of the demonstration.

Bankruptcy of the Compromise Policy

Of all the slogans the most popular were: "All power to the Soviet!" "Down with the ten capitalist Ministers!" "Neither a separate peace with Wilhelm nor secret treaties with the British and French capitalists!" "Long live control and organization of production!" "Down with the Duma and the Council of State!" "Annul the orders against the soldiers!" "Announce just terms of peace!" etc. The overwhelming majority of the demonstrators revealed their solidarity with our Party. Even such regiments as the Volhynia and Keksholm marched under the slogan "All power to the Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies!" The members of the majority of the Executive Committee, who have dealings not with the soldier masses, but with the regimental committees, were sincerely amazed at this "unexpected surprise."

In short, the overwhelming majority of the demonstrators (who totalled 400,000 to 500,000) expressed downright lack of confidence in the policy of compromise with the bourgeoisie. The demonstration marched under the revolutionary slogans of our Party.

There is no possible room for doubt: the fairy tale about a Bolshevik "plot" has been utterly exposed. A party which enjoys the confidence of the overwhelming majority of the workers and soldiers of the capital has no need for "plots." Only an uneasy conscience, or political ignorance, could have suggested the "idea" of a Bolshevik "plot" to the "high-policy makers."


Pravda, No. 86, June 20, 1917

* An ensign and a Social-Democratic Bolshevik, a namesake of the Social-Democratic Menshevik worker, former member of the Fourth State Duma.


1. Okopnaya Pravda (Trench Truth) — a Bolshevik paper published in Riga, the first issue appearing on April 30, 1917. The paper was initially published by the Soldiers' Committee of the Novo-Ladoga Regiment with funds contributed by the soldiers themselves, but beginning with its seventh issue (May 17, 1917) it became the organ of the Army Organization and Russian Section of the Riga Committee of the R.S.D.L.P.(B.). Later (beginning with its 26th issue, July 5) it became the organ of the Twelfth Army Organization of the Riga Committee, and then of the Central Committee of the Latvian Social-Democratic Party. Okopnaya Pravda was suppressed on July 21, 1917, but two days later, July 23, another paper appeared in its place, Okopny Nabat (Trench Alarm), organ of the Joint Army Organization of the Latvian Social-Democratic Party, and continued publication until Riga was captured by the Germans. Okopny Nabat resumed publication in Venden on October 12, and on October 29 it resumed its former name — Okopnaya Pravda. From then on it appeared regularly until February 1918.