J. V. Stalin

"Strong bulls of bashan have
beset me round"

October 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 Bolsheviks have issued the call—Be ready! It is necessitated by the growing tenseness of the situation and the mobilization of the forces of counter-revolution, which wants to attack the revolution, is trying to decapitate it by surrendering the capital to Wilhelm, and intends to sap the lifeblood of the capital by withdrawing the revolutionary army from it.

But the revolutionary call issued by our Party has not been understood alike by all.

The workers have understood it "in their own way," and have begun to arm. They, the workers, are far more perspicacious than many of the "clever" and "enlightened" intellectuals.

The soldiers are not lagging behind the workers. Yesterday, at a meeting of the regimental and company Committees of the garrison of the capital, they decided by a huge majority to defend with their lives the revolution and its leader, the Petrograd Soviet, at the first call of which they pledged themselves to take to arms.

That is how matters stand with the workers and soldiers.

Not so with the other sections.

The bourgeoisie know what's what. "Without wasting words," they have planted guns outside the Winter Palace, because they have their "ensigns" and "cadets," whom we hope history will not forget.

The Dyen and Volya Naroda agents of the bourgeoisie have launched a campaign against our Party, "confusing" the Bolsheviks with the Blacks, and insistently interrogating them as to the "date of the uprising."

Their understrappers, Kerensky's flunkeys, the Bi-nasiks and Dans, have delivered themselves of a manifesto, signed by the "C.E.C.," pleading against action, demanding, like Dyen and Volya Naroda, to know the "date of the uprising," and inviting the workers and soldiers to fall on their faces before Kishkin and Konovalov.

And the terrified neurasthenics of Novaya Zhizn are all wrought up, because they "cannot keep silent any longer," and implore us to tell them at last when the Bolsheviks intend to take action.

Except for the workers and soldiers, verily "strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round," slandering and informing, threatening and imploring, begging and demanding.

Here is our reply.

Concerning the bourgeoisie and their "apparatus": we have a special account to settle with them.

Concerning the agents and hirelings of the bourgeoisie: we would refer them to the secret service—there they may "inform" themselves and, in turn, "inform" the proper quarters as to the "day" and "hour" of the "action," the program of which has already been charted by the agents provocateurs of Dyen.

Concerning the Binasiks, Dans and other orderlies of Kerensky in the Central Executive Committee: we do not render account to "heroes" who have taken the side of the Kishkin-Kerensky government against the workers, soldiers and peasants. But we shall take care that these blackleg heroes are made to render account to the Congress of Soviets, which yesterday they were trying to torpedo, but which today, bending to the pressure of the Soviets, they have been forced to convene.

As to the neurasthenics of Novaya Zhizn, we don't understand exactly what they want of us.

If they want to know the "day" of the uprising so as to take timely measures to mobilize the forces of the scared intellectuals for a prompt . . . flight, to Finland, say, then we can only . . . praise them, for we are in favour of mobilization of forces "in general."

If they demand to know the "day" of the uprising in order to calm their "steel" nerves, then we can assure them that even if the "day" of the uprising were appointed, and if the Bolsheviks were to "whisper it in their ear," our neurasthenics would not be a bit the "easier" for it: there would follow new "questionings," hysterics and the like.

But if what they want is simply to stage a demonstration against us in the desire to dissociate themselves from our Party, then again we can only praise them: because, firstly, that wise step would undoubtedly be put down to their credit in the proper quarters should there be possible "complications" and "failures"; and, secondly, that would clarify the minds of the workers and soldiers, who would at last realize that for the second time (the July days!) Novaya Zhizn was deserting the ranks of the revolution for the sinister cohorts of the Burtsevs and Suvorins. And we, as everyone knows, are in favour of clarity in general.

But perhaps they cannot "keep silent" because a general croaking has now been started in the marsh of our bewildered intellectuals? Does that not explain Gorky's "I cannot keep silent"? It is incredible, but a fact. They stood aside and kept silent when the landlords and their henchmen drove the peasants to desperation and hunger "riots." They stood aside and kept silent when the capitalists and their servitors were plotting a countrywide lockout of the workers and unemployment. They could keep silent when the counter-revolutionaries were attempting to surrender the capital and withdraw the army from it. But these individuals, it appears, "cannot keep silent" when the vanguard of the revolution, the Petrograd Soviet, has risen in defence of the hoodwinked workers and peasants! And the first word that comes from their lips is a rebuke levelled—not against the counter-revolution, oh no!—but against the very revolution about which they gushed with enthusiasm at the tea table, but from which, at the most crucial moment, they are fleeing as if from the plague! Is this not "strange"?

The Russian revolution has overthrown many a reputation. Its might lies, among other things, in the fact that it has not cringed before "celebrities," but has taken them into its service, or, if they refused to learn from it, has consigned them to oblivion. There is a whole string of such "celebrities" whom the revolution has rejected—Plekhanov, Kro-potkin, Breshkovskaya, Zasulich and all those old revolutionaries in general who are noteworthy only for being old. We fear that Gorky is envious of the laurels of these "pillars." We fear that Gorky feels a "mortal" urge to follow after them—into the museum of antiquities.

Well, every man to his own fancy. . . . The revolution is not disposed either to pity or to bury its dead. . . .


Rabochy Put, No. 41, October 20, 1917