J. V. Stalin

A Period of Provocation

August 22, 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.

Provocation is a tried and tested weapon of counterrevolution.

The massacre of June 1848, the surrender of Paris in 1871, provocation in the rear and at the front as a means of combating revolution—who is not familiar with these perfidious methods of the bourgeoisie?

But nowhere in the world has the bourgeoisie resorted to this poisonous weapon so brazenly and freely as here in Russia.

Did not Ryabushinsky openly and publicly threaten recently that in the last resort the bourgeoisie would not hesitate to call in the aid of the "gaunt hand of famine and destitution" to subdue the workers and peasants?

And has not the bourgeoisie already passed from word to deed by closing down mills and factories and throwing tens of thousands of workers on to the streets?

Who would undertake to say that this is fortuitous and not a deliberate plan to provoke a massacre and drown the revolution in blood?

But the principal sphere of provocation is not the rear but the front.

Already in March there was talk of certain generals planning to surrender Riga. They failed for "reasons beyond their control."

This July the Russian forces evacuated Tarnopol and Czernowitz. With one accord the bourgeois press hirelings accused the soldiers and our Party of being responsible. And then? It turned out that "the retreat was provoked," that the "treachery was perpetrated according to the book, in accordance with a deliberate and premeditated plan." And certain generals are being definitely mentioned as having made the arrangements for the automobiles to dash from unit to unit, ordering the soldiers to retreat.

Who would undertake to say that the counter-revolutionaries are empty windbags who know not what they do?

Now Riga's turn has come. The telegraph brings the news that Riga has been surrendered. The bourgeois press hirelings have already started a hue and cry against the soldiers, alleging that they are fleeing in disorder. The counter-revolutionary General Headquarters, in union with Vecherneye Vremya, is trying to throw the blame on the revolutionary soldiers. We shall not be surprised if a demonstration is started on the Nevsky Prospect today with the cry : "Down with the Bolsheviks!"

Yet the telegrams of Voitinsky, Assistant Commissar at Riga, leave no doubt that the soldiers are being slandered.

"Before all Russia," Voitinsky telegraphs, "I testify that the troops faithfully carried out all the orders of their commanders and went to certain death."

Such is the testimony of an eyewitness.

But General Headquarters keeps slandering the soldiers, asserting that regiments took to flight.

And the bourgeois press keeps harping on "treachery" at the front.

Is it not clear that the counter-revolutionary generals and the bourgeois press are slandering the soldiers in fulfilment of some definite plan?

Is it not clear that this plan is as like as two peas to the plan staged at Tarnopol and Czernowitz?

And is it not clear, lastly, that the period of provocation which has set in in Russia is the instrument of the dictatorship of the imperialist bourgeoisie, the complete liquidation of which must be the primary task of the proletariat and the revolutionary soldiers?


Proletary, No. 8, August 22, 1917