J. V. Stalin

The Second Wave

September 9, 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 first wave of the Russian revolution began as a struggle against tsarism. The workers and soldiers were at that time the main forces of the revolution. But they were not the only forces. Besides them, bourgeois liberals (Cadets) and the British and French capitalists were also "active," the former having turned their backs on tsarism because of its inability to drive a road to Constantinople, and the latter having betrayed it because of tsarism's desire for a separate peace with Germany.

There thus arose something in the nature of a concealed coalition, under whose pressure tsarism was compelled to quit the stage. On the day following the fall of tsarism, the secret coalition became an open one, having assumed the form of a definite agreement between the Provisional Government and the Petrograd Soviet, between the Cadets and the "revolutionary democracy."

But these forces pursued entirely different aims. Whereas the Cadets and the British and French capitalists merely wanted to make a little revolution in order to exploit the revolutionary enthusiasm of the masses for the purposes of a big imperialist war, the workers and soldiers, on the contrary, were striving for the complete break-up of the old regime and the full triumph of a great revolution, in order, by overthrowing the landlords and curbing the imperialist bourgeoisie, to secure the cessation of the war and ensure a just peace.

This fundamental contradiction underlay the further development of the revolution. It also predetermined the instability of the coalition with the Cadets.

All the so-called crises of power, including the most recent, the one in August, were manifestations of this contradiction.

And if in the course of these crises success always proved to be with the imperialist bourgeoisie, and if after the "solution" of each crisis the workers and soldiers proved to have been deceived, and the coalition was preserved in one form or another, that was not only because of the high degree of organization and the financial power of the imperialist bourgeoisie, but also because-the vacillating upper sections of the petty bourgeoisie and their parties, the Socialist-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks — which still had the following of the broad mass of the petty bourgeoisie in our generally petty-bourgeois country—on each occasion took their stand "on the other side of the barricades" and decided the struggle for power in favour of the Cadets.

The coalition with the Cadets attained its greatest strength in the July days, when the members of the coalition formed a united battle front and turned their weapons against the "Bolshevik" workers and soldiers.

In this respect the Moscow Conference was merely an echo of the July days. The non-admission of the Bolsheviks to the conference was to have been a necessary surety for the cementing of the "honest coalition" with the "virile forces" of the country, inasmuch as the isolation of the Bolsheviks was regarded as an essential condition for the stability of the coalition with the Cadets.

Such was the situation down to the Kornilov revolt.

Kornilov's action changed the picture.

It was already clear at the Moscow Conference that the alliance with the Cadets was threatening to become an alliance with the Kornilovs and Kaledins against . . . not only the Bolsheviks, but the entire Russian revolution, against the very existence of the gains of the revolution. The boycott of the Moscow Conference and the protest strike of the Moscow workers, which unmasked the counter-revolutionary conclave and thwarted the plans of the conspirators, was not only a warning in this respect; it was also a call to be prepared. We know that the call was not a voice crying in the wilderness, that a number of cities responded immediately with protest strikes. . . .

That was an ominous portent.

The Kornilov revolt only opened the floodgates for the accumulated revolutionary indignation; it only released the temporarily shackled revolution, spurred it on and impelled it forward.

And here, in the fire of battle against the counter-revolutionary forces, in which words and promises are tested by actual deeds in the direct struggle, it became revealed who really were the friends and who the enemies of the revolution, who really were the allies and who the betrayers of the workers, peasants and soldiers.

The Provisional Government, so painstakingly stitched together from heterogeneous materials, burst at the seams at the very first breath of the Kornilov revolt.

It is "sad," but true: the coalition looks like a force when it is a matter of talking about "saving the revolution," but turns out to be a squib when it is a matter of really saving the revolution from mortal danger.

The Cadets resigned from the government and openly demonstrated their solidarity with the Kornilovites. The imperialists of all shades and degrees, the bankers and manufacturers, the factory owners and profiteers, the landlords and generals, the pen pirates of Novoye Vremya and the cowardly provocateurs of Birzhovka were all, with the Cadet Party at their head and in alliance with the British and French imperialist cliques, found to be in one camp with the counter-revolutionaries—against the revolution and its conquests.

It became manifest that alliance with the Cadets meant alliance with the landlords against the peasants, with the capitalists against the workers, with the generals against the soldiers.

It became manifest that whoever compromised with Milyukov compromised with Kornilov and must come out against the revolution, for Milyukov and Kornilov "are one."

A vague inkling of this truth was the underlying reason for the new mass revolutionary movement, for the second wave of the Russian revolution.

And if the first wave ended with the triumph of the coalition with the Cadets (the Moscow Conference!), the second began with the collapse of this coalition, with open war against the Cadets.

In the struggle against the counter-revolution of the generals and Cadets the almost defunct Soviets and Committees in the rear and at the front are coming to life again and growing in strength.

In the struggle against the counter-revolution of the generals and Cadets new revolutionary Committees of workers and soldiers, sailors and peasants, railwaymen and post and telegraph employees are coming into being.

In the fires of this struggle new local organs of power are arising in Moscow and the Caucasus, in Petrograd and the Urals, in Odessa and Kharkov.

The reason is not the new resolutions passed by Socialist-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks, who have undoubtedly moved towards the Left in these past few days— although this, of course, is of no little importance.

Nor is the reason the "victory of Bolshevism," with the spectre of which the bourgeois press is browbeating the scared philistines of Dyen and Volya Naroda.

The reason is that in the struggle against the Cadets, and in spite of them, a new power is arising, which has defeated the forces of counter-revolution in open battle.

The reason is that, passing from the defensive to the offensive, this new power is inevitably encroaching upon the vital interests of the landlords and capitalists, and is thereby rallying around itself the worker and peasant masses.

The reason is that, acting in this way, this "unrecognized" power is compelled by force of circumstances to raise the question of its "legalization," while the "official" power, which has betrayed a manifest kinship with the counter-revolutionary conspirators, turns out to have no firm ground under its feet.

And the reason, lastly, is that in the face of this new wave of revolution, which is rapidly spreading to new cities and regions, the Kerensky government, which yesterday was still afraid to give decisive battle to the Kornilov counter-revolution, is today uniting with Kornilov and the Kornilovites in the rear and at the front, and at the same time "ordering" the dissolution of the centres of revolution, the "unauthorized" workers', soldiers' and peasants' Committees.

And the more thoroughly Kerensky links himself with the Kornilovs and Kaledins, the wider grows the rift between the people and the government, the more probable becomes a rupture between the Soviets and the Provisional Government.

It is these facts, and not the resolutions of individual parties, that pronounce the death sentence on the old compromising slogans.

We are by no means inclined to overrate the extent of the rupture with the Cadets. We know that that rupture is still only a formal one. But for a start, even such a rupture is a big step forward. It is to be presumed that the Cadets themselves will do the rest. They are already boycotting the Democratic Conference. The representatives of trade and industry, whom the cunning strategists of the Central Executive Committee wanted to "entice into their net," are following in the footsteps of the Cadets. It is to be presumed that they will go further and continue to close down mills and factories, refuse credits to the organs of "the democracy" and deliberately aggravate the economic disruption and food scarcity. And "the democracy," in its efforts to overcome the economic disruption and food scarcity, will inevitably be drawn into a resolute struggle with the bourgeoisie and will widen its rupture with the Cadets. . . .

Seen in this perspective and in this connection, the Democratic Conference convened for September 12 is particularly symptomatic. What its outcome will be, whether it will "take" power, whether Kerensky will "yield" all these are questions which cannot be answered yet. The initiators of the conference may possibly try to find some cunning "compromise" formula. But that, of course, is of no significance. Fundamental questions of revolution, the question of power in particular, are not settled at conferences. But one thing is certain, and that is that the conference will be a summing up of the events of the past few days, will provide a computation of forces, will disclose the difference between the first, already receded, wave and the second, advancing wave of the Russian revolution.

And we shall learn that :

Then, at the time of the first wave, the fight was against tsarism and its survivals. Now, at the time of the second wave, the fight is against the landlords and capitalists.

Then — an alliance with the Cadets. Now—a rupture with them.

Then — the isolation of the Bolsheviks. Now—the isolation of the Cadets.

Then — an alliance-with British and French capital, and war. Now—a ripening rupture with it, and peace, a just and general peace.

That, and that alone, will be the course of the second wave of the revolution, no matter what the Democratic Conference may decide.


Rabochy Put , No. 6, September 9, 1917