The Bolshevik Revolution

From The Call, paper of the British Socialist Party, December 6 1917

The articles by “a Russian socialist” which were published in these columns some little time ago will have prepared the reader for the Bolshevik success, which has in its way been as complete as the first Revolution in March, and apparently contains great promise for the future.

Briefly, the Bolshevik success has been due to the fact that the masses of the town proletariat and town garrisons have revolted, at last, against the systematic surrender of the Revolution to the imperialist classes, the capitalists and the landowners, who began to plot for the final overthrow of the revolution and the establishment of a military dictatorship à la Napoleon.

During the eight months that had elapsed since the deposition of the tsar the Revolution had done nothing whatever to justify itself in the eyes of those masses who had made it. This was due to the opportunist tactics of the Menshevik social democrats and the Revolutionary Socialists, who soon forgot their promises of peace and land and other reform, and steadily sank in the quagmire of compromise with the propertied classes, as represented politically by the Cadets and their large reactionary and counterrevolutionary retinue.

The attempt by Kornilov - in agreement, as has since been established, with Kerensky and others - to overthrow the soviets and the rule of democracy in general finally opened the eyes of the town and country proletariat as to the meaning of the developments that had been taking place ever since the socialists had joined the Provisional Government. Great unrest, accompanied by sheer anarchy, manifested itself throughout the country, and the eyes of the masses began to turn to the Bolsheviks, who had hitherto been weakest among the socialist parties, but who now began rapidly to gain ground at the expense of their opportunist rivals, as demonstrated by the Bolshevik victories in municipal elections and in the re-elections to the soviets.

To anyone not entirely blind or deaf these changes ought to have served as a warning; but the Mensheviks and the Revolutionary Socialists had by that time become so entirely involved in the meshes of their own doctrines and of their intrigues with the Cadets that they only called for reprisals against anarchy and themselves entered the Cadet conspiracy to do away with the soviets. That was the meaning of the so-called Democratic Assembly at which the voice of the soviets was to be drowned by that of cooperators and professional classes, from which the latest coalition government on a purely Cadet programme and the bogus ‘Council of the Republic’ (the so-called Provisional Parliament) without authority, either moral or political, issued.

That was the straw - a pretty thick one, it is true - which broke the camel’s back. Quite openly, proclaiming their intentions in their press and from the platform, the Bolsheviks set to work to organise the working class and garrisons in Petrograd and other large towns for an armed rising. In the night of November 6 and 7 the Revolution was accomplished to the plan in a most effective and thorough manner.

Since then the Bolsheviks have been in power. They from the first offered to share it with the other socialist parties in accordance with their principle that the authority must belong not to any political party, but to the soviets of workers, soldiers and peasants as a whole. But the other parties refused point blank to have anything to do with them; their ‘right’ wings even concluded an alliance with the Cadets by establishing with them ‘committees of public safety’, and only the other day the left wings made up their minds at last to join the Bolshevik government. To this they were no doubt compelled by the military successes of the Bolshevik troops against those of Kerensky, and by the reforms which they have initiated and which are obviously having great success.

The Bolsheviks have at once issued a decree transferring the land to the peasantry; they have placed all factories and mills under the control of the state, as exercised through the shop stewards’ committees and trade unions; they have enacted a legal eight-hours day; they have closed all insanitary and overcrowded dwellings and tenements and ordered that henceforth no household should occupy a larger number of rooms than one per member, the surplus to be placed at the disposal of housing committees for the benefit of those who have no home at all or live in conditions of overcrowding; they have declared a six-months moratorium for rent; they have nationalised the private banks so as to do away with stock exchange speculators and to be able to control the activities of war profiteers; they are requisitioning all the food stocks - above all, they have published all the secret treaties and have started negotiations for an armistice and an ultimate peace.

The Bolsheviks have shown what socialists, true to their principles and averse to all compromise with the capitalist classes, can do, and gradually they are gaining the adherence of the entire people of Russia as well as of the working class throughout the world. If they should be able, as seems very likely, to last long enough to meet the Constituent Assembly, they will have effected a real revolution - in a social as well as a political sense.

A student of the Revolution