J. V. Stalin

Whither the Moscow Conference ?

August 13, 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.

Flight From Petrograd

The Moscow Conference has opened. It has opened not in the centre of the revolution, not in Petrograd, but far away, in "somnolent Moscow."

In the days of the revolution important conferences were usually convened in Petrograd, the citadel of the revolution which had overthrown tsarism. They were not afraid of Petrograd then, they clung to it. But now the days of revolution have been superseded by the twilight of counter-revolution. Now Petrograd is dangerous, now they fear it like the plague and . . . flee from it like the devil from holy water—far away, to Moscow, "where it is quieter," and where the counter-revolutionaries think it will be easier for them to do their dirty work.

"The conference will take place under the flag of Moscow. Moscow ideas and Moscow sentiments are remote from putrid Petrograd—that plague spot which is contaminating Russia" (Vecherneye Vremya, August 11).

So say the counter-revolutionaries.

The "defencists" fully agree with them.

"To Moscow, to Moscow!" whisper the "saviours of the country" as they flee from Petrograd.

"Good riddance," revolutionary Petrograd replies.

"And a boycott on your conference!" the Petrograd workers hurl after them.

And what about Moscow? Will it justify the hopes of the counter-revolutionaries?

It does not look like it. The newspapers are full of reports of a general strike in Moscow. The strike has been declared by the Moscow workers. They, like the Petrograd workers, are boycotting the conference. Moscow is not lagging behind Petrograd.

Long live the Moscow workers!

What's to be done? Flee again?

From Petrograd to Moscow, and from Moscow— whither?

To Tsarevokokshaisk, perhaps?

Things look black, very black for Messieurs the Ver-saillese. . . .

* * *

From the Conference to a "Long Parliament" 1

When they were arranging the Moscow Conference Messieurs the "saviours" pretended they were convening an "ordinary conference," which would decide nothing and commit nobody to anything. But little by little the "ordinary conference" became transformed into a "Conference of State," and then into a "Grand Assembly," and now there is definite talk about converting it into a "Long Parliament" which would decide the cardinal questions of our life.

"If the Moscow Conference," says Karaulov, the Ataman of the Terek Cossack troops, "does not crystallize into a centre for uniting the country, Russia's future will be sombre. I think however, that such a centre will be established . . . and if . . . such a support point eventuates, the Moscow Conference will not only prove a virile body, but will have every chance of a prolonged and colourful existence, like that of the 'Long Parliament in the time of Cromwell. I, for my part, as a representative of the Cossacks, will do all I can to assist the formation of such a uniting centre" (Russkiye Vedomosti, evening edition, August 11).

So says a "representative of the Cossacks."

The Moscow Conference as a "centre for uniting" the counter-revolution—such is the brief import of Ka-raulov's lengthy speech.

The same thing was said by the Don Cossacks in their instructions to their representatives:

"The government must be organized by the Moscow Conference or by the Provisional Committee of the State Duma and not by some party, as has been the case up to now. And that government must be vested with the fullest authority and be allowed complete independence."

So says the Don Cossack assembly. And who does not know now that "the Cossacks are a force"?

There can be no room for doubt—either the conference is abortive, or it will inevitably be transformed into a "Long Parliament" of the counter-revolution.

Whether they wanted it or not, the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries have by convening the conference facilitated the work of organizing counter-revolution.

Such is the fact.

* * *

Who Are They?

Who are they, the big chiefs of counter-revolution?

First of all the military, the higher army officers, who have the following of certain sections of the Cossacks and of the Knights of St. George.

Secondly, our industrial bourgeoisie, headed by Ryabushinsky, the man who is threatening the people with "famine" and "destitution" if they do not desist from their demands.

Lastly, Milyukov's party, which unites the generals and industrialists against the Russian people, against the revolution.

All that was made sufficiently clear at the "Preliminary Conference" 2 of generals, industrialists and Cadets held from August 8 to 10.

"The name of General Kornilov is on everyone's lips," writes Birzhovka. "The representatives of what is called the military party, headed by General Alexeyev, and the delegates of the Cossack League are the predominant influence at the conference. The speech General Alexeyev delivered at the first sitting, which was greeted with stormy expressions of approval, will be repeated at the Moscow Conference of State" (Vechernaya Birzhovka, August 11).

That was the speech which Milyukov proposed should be published as a leaflet. Further:

"General Kaledin is attracting considerable attention. He is looked to and listened to with particular interest. The entire military section is grouping around him" (Vecherneye Vremya, August 11).

Lastly, everybody knows about the ultimatums of the Knights of St. George and the Cossack Leagues, headed by these same generals, whether deposed or still undeposed.

And the ultimatums are carried out forthwith. Military men are not fond of "idle chatter."

There is no room for doubt: matters are moving towards the establishment and legalization of a military dictatorship.

Our native and the Allied bourgeoisie will "merely" provide the money.

It is not for nothing that "Sir George Buchanan is showing interest in the conference" (see Birzhovka), and it seems that he, too, is preparing to go to Moscow.

It is not for nothing that Mr. Milyukov's ruffians are jubilant.

It is not for nothing that Ryabushinsky regards himself as a Minin, a "saviour," etc.


What Do They Want?

They want the complete triumph of the counterrevolution. Listen to the resolution adopted by the preliminary conference.

"Let discipline be restored in the army, and power will pass to the officers."

In other words: Curb the soldiers!

"Let a united and strong central government put an end to the system of irresponsible rule of collegiate institutions."

In other words: Down with the Workers' and Peasants' Soviets!

Let the government "resolutely do away with all traces of dependence upon any committees, Soviets and similar organizations whatsoever."

In other words: Let the government depend only upon Cossack "Soviets" and Knights of St. George "con-ferrers."

The resolution asserts that only in this way can "Russia be saved."

Clear, it would seem.

Well, Messieurs the compromising Socialist-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks, are you willing to arrange a compromise with the representatives of the "virile forces"?

Or perhaps you have thought better of it? Unhappy compromisers. . . .


The Voice of Moscow

But Moscow is doing its revolutionary work. The newspapers report that in response to an appeal of the Bolsheviks a general strike has already begun in Moscow in spite of the decision of the All-Russian Executive Committee, which is still trailing in the wake of the enemies of the people.

Shame on the Executive Committee!

Long live the revolutionary proletariat of Moscow!

Let the voice of our Moscow comrades ring out loudly, to the joy of the oppressed and enslaved!

Let the whole of Russia know that there are still people who are prepared to give their lives in defence of the revolution.

Moscow is on strike. Long live Moscow!


Proletary, No. 1, August 13, 1917


1. Long Parliament — the parliament at the time of the bourgeois revolution in England in the seventeenth century which sat for thirteen years (1640-53).

2. The Preliminary Conference or "Private Conference of Public Men" as it was otherwise called, met in Moscow from August 8 to 10, 1917. Its object was to unite the bourgeoisie, landlords and military and to draft a joint program for the forthcoming Conference of State. At the conference a counter-revolutionary Union of Public Men was set up.