The Preparatives for the Armed Insurrection Have Started

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The 100 years of the Great October Socialist Revolution

In October, the bolsheviks started preparing themselves actively for the insurrection. Lenin signaled that as they had the majority at the Workers and Soldiers Soviet Deputies, from Moscow and Petrograd, the bolsheviks would be able and should seizure power. Evaluating the way they had been so far Lenin concluded: “ The majority of the people are with us”.

Manifestação revolucionária ergue faixa com a consigna 'Todo poder aos Sovietes'

Since clandestinity - in his articles and letters to the Central Committee (CC) and to the bolsheviks organizations - Lenin stablished a concrete plan for the insurrection. He would say how the military units, the armed one and the red guards should be utilized, which decisive points to occupy in Petrograd for guaranteeing the insurrection success, etc.

On October 7th (20th)1, Lenin moved clandestinely from the Finland frontier to Petrograd. Three days later, on October 10th (23rd), Lenin participated in the historical session of the CC of the Bolshevik Party which defined for next days the beginning of the armed insurrection. The historical resolution approved by the Party’s Central Committee and written by Lenin was as follows:

“The Central Committee recognizes that the international situation on the Russian revolution ( the German’s squadron insurrection, a strong signal of the rising march for the world socialist revolution all over Europe, then the peace threat among the imperialists in order to suffocate the Russian revolution), the military situation ( a clear Russian bourgeoisie decision and Kerenski’s and followers’  to surrender Petrograd to the Germans), the conquest by the proletarian party of the majority amidst the Soviets, besides the peasantry insurrection, the confidence everyday larger from the people towards our Party (Moscow’s elections) and finally the clear arrangement of a second Korniloviada ( troops withdrawal from Petrograd, Cossack’s gathering in the capital, Minsk’s encirclement by the Cossacks,etc.) clearly show the upcoming armed insurrection.

“By recognizing that the armed insurrection is inevitable and entirely mature the CC urges all organizations to be guided by this and resolve all practical questions from this point of view (Soviet Congress from the North region, troops departure from Petrograd, activities in Moscow and Minsk,etc.)”.

Kamenev and Zinoviev – showing their vacillating character – intervened and voted against this historical resolution. As the Mensheviks, they dreamed of a bourgeois parliamentary republic and outraged the working class doubting of its capacity for accomplishing the socialist revolution and the taking over.

Trotsky (and his followers) – who had just become a member of the Bolshevik Party, although did not openly vote against the resolution – presented an amendment that, if passed, would have reduced to nothing and split in pieces the insurrection. The opportunist Trotsky proposed that the insurrection did not start till the Second Congress of the Soviets opening. That would mean do denounce the insurrection by stablishing beforehand the date for beginning it and thus giving notice to the Provisional Government.

Mobilization for the Insurrection

After the celebrated meeting that has determined the insurrection starting, the Central Committee of the Bolshevik Party sent representatives with full powers to the Donetz basin, to Ural, Helsingfors, Kronstadt, to the south-western front, etc., in order to organize the insurrection in those regions. The comrades: Vorochilov, Molotov, Dzerzhinski, Ordzhonikidse, Kirov, Kaganovich, Kuibichevi, Frunzi, Iaroslavski and others received the Party’s special tasks to lead the insurrection in different places. At Ural, at Shadrinsk, among the troops, was the comrade Zhdanov. In the western front, Bielorussia, comrade Ezhov prepared the mass of soldiers for the insurrection. The CC delegates informed the Bolsheviks organizations leaders the base of the insurrection plan and stimulated them to prepare and mobilize their forces to help the movement in Petrograd.

On October 11th , the Soviet Congress of Soldiers and Deputies from the Northern Region took place; it was summoned by the RSDWP2. Soviets from several towns took part in this conference including Petrograd, Moscow, Viborg and Narva. Also some other organizations like the Army, Navy and Workers Finland Regional Committee, from the Second Congress of the Baltic Squadron, among others.

The reports from the present organizations have comproved the mass predisposition for the insurrection. Differently from July, 1917 – when Petrograd could not count on the suport from other centres in the country for the armed action – one could see all over Russia the need for the revolution.

Thus, the Congress passed the following resolution: “ Only the immediate transference of all Power to the revolution organs – the Workers, Soldiers and Peasants Soviet Deputies, locally or centrally – can save the people”.

It was created, by determination of the Bolshevik Party Central Committee, the Revolutionary Military Committee, depending on the Petrograd Soviet, that should take over the functions of the legal General Staff for the insurrection. Such an organ was in charge of determining the necessary combattant forces and auxilliary  means for Petrograd defense, the country’s capital and centre of the revolution.

Destacamento da Guarda Vermelha da Fábrica Putílov, outubro de 1917

Lenin in his “ Letter to the Bolshevik Comrades who participate in the Regional Congress for the Soviets at the North Region”, from October 8th, 1917, pointed out that the conditions to insurrection were ready:

“Comrades! Our revolution crosses extremely critical times. This crisis has corresponded to the great crisis of the world socialist revolution growth and the world imperialism struggle against it. A huge task – whose non-accomplishment threatens with complete bankruptcy the internationalist proletarian movement – falls again on the shoulders of the responsible leaders of our party. The delay at the moment is equivalent to a real death.

Shall we have a look at the international situation: the growth of the world revolution is unquestionable. The Czech’s workers indignation explosion has been smashed with an unbelievable ferocity, indicating the extreme government fear. In Italy, there was a mass explosion in Torino. But the most important of all has been the German squadron insurrection. It is necessary to think about the unbelievable difficulties for the revolution in a country like Germany, mostly under the present situation. It is impossible to doubt that the German squadron insurrection means a great crisis of the world revolution growth. If our chauvinists, who preach Germany defeat, demand from their workers the immediate insurrection, we, the Russian internacionalist revolutionaries, know from our experience in 1905/1917, that it is impossible to imagine a more significant symptom on the revolution growth than the troops insurrection, [ …]

The word of command: All Power to the Soviets is the  the word of command for insurrection. Who uses such a word with no consciousness, without thinking it over, must complain to himself. It is necessary to know to treat the insurrection as an art – I have insisted on it during the Democratic Conference and I insist on it now; that is what Marxism teaches us, and that is what teaches the present situation in Russia and all over the world. [ … ]

The squadron, Kronstadt, Viborg, Reval can and should march towards Petrograd, defeat the kornilovist troops, arise both capitals, agitate the masses for a power that would immediately hand over the land to the peasants and propose immediately the peace, throwing down Kerenski’s government, creating the power.

The delay means death”.

Soviets Decide by the Seizure of Power

October was a month with intense Bolshevik agitation and mobilization in the Soviets which increasingly agreed with the slogan of All Power to the Soviets. The same thing happened in several regions of the country as a great revolutionary wave.

On October 14th (27th), in Moscow, only Bolsheviks were elected by the Executive Committee for the Soviet Workers and Soldiers Deputies. Five days later, the same Executive Committee passed the following resolutions: handing over the Power to the Soviets; arming the workers and poor peasants through the General Staff of the Red Guard; leaving the land at the disposal of the peasant agrarian committees; immediate extinction of the Kerenski’s Provisional  Government.

On October 16th  (29th) the Soviet Workers and Soldiers from Saratov declared a decisive struggle against the Provisional Government politics.

In Siberia, the First Soviet Congress in the region, that took place on October 16th and 24th  (October 29th and November 6th) declared the Power surrender to the Soviets and elected its Central Executive Committee.

On October 18th (October 31st), Kiev defined itself for  surrendering the Power to the Soviets.

Revolution Frustrates Kerenski’s Plans

At the same time the preparatives were happening for the armed insurrection, the counterrevolution was urged to concentrate its forces as well. The army staff of officers would organize themselves in a counterrevolutionary entity named “Officers League”; The counterrevolutionaries were creating General Staffs everywhere for the formation of shock troops.

The reactionary Provisional Government tried, still on October 4th (17th), a transference from Petrograd to Moscow. With this, the counterrevolutionary Kerenski, in accordance with the Angle-french imperialists, intended, amidst the imperialist war, to surrender Petrograd to the Germans who threatened to invade Russia. All of this to stop revolution. But the Petrograd’s workers and soldiers protests obliged the Provisional Government to remain there.

As to these counterrevolutionary Kerenki’s government sinister plans, Lenin warned and pointed out the need to insurrection as a form to conjure them:

“And we, after having the majority of the people’s masses at our side, after having conquered the Soviets in both capitals, should we wait? Wait for what? Should we wait that Kerenski and his kornilovist generals surrender Petrograd to the Germans, so that we would enter directly or indirectly, openly or covered, in machination with Buchanan (3) or Guilherme, to suffocate completely the Russian revolution!

All over the country the peasantry insurrection is set on fire; Kerenski and the kornilovists will surrender Petrograd to the Germans. To save Petrograd it is necessary to defeat Kerenski so that the Soviets from both capitals seize the power; these Soviets will immediately propose peace to all peoples and thus they will perform their duties with the German revolutionaries, giving a decisive step to frustrate the criminal conspiracies against the Russian revolution, the international imperialism conspiracy.

Only an immediate movement of the Baltic Squadron, Finland troops, from Reval and Kronstadt against the kornilovist troops around Petrograd, could save the world and Russian revolution. Such a movement has 99 probabilities in 100 to surrender, in a few days, part of the cossack troops, to the complete defeat of the other part, Kerenski’s fall, for the workers and soldiers from both capitals will give support to such a movement”. 

Insurrection Advances Unrestrainable

The Bolshevik Party  CC Enlarged Session on October 16th (29th) elected a Party Centre in charge of leading the revolution. Comrade Stalin was at he head of it. This centre was a Revolutionary Military Committee leading nucleus dependent on the Petrograd Soviet and it was the centre which has practically led the whole insurrection.

The meeting approved the October 10th (23rd) CC resolution – by 19 votes x 2 and 4 abstentions – and exhorted all Party’s organizations, all workers and soldiers to prepare intensively and under all aspects the armed insurrection, expressing the assurance  that the Central Committee and the Soviet would on occasion indicate the right moment and the appropriate means for the offensive.

During the meeting, the capitulationists Zinoviev and Kamenev have again declared themselves against the insurrection. As they were totally repelled and having their plans to prevent the revolution march shattered, they started to openly combat the insurrection and the Party through the opportunist press.

Therefore, on October 18th ( 31st) , a menshevik newspaper, ‘Novaia Jisn (New Life) published a statement from Kamenev and Zinoviev saying that both considered the insurrection an adventure. With such a treachery, Kamenev and Zinoviev let the enemies know the CC decision on the movement and its organization for an immediate date. Lenin wrote about it: “ Kamenev and Zinoviev have revealed to Rodzianko and Kerenski their Party Resolution on the armed insurrection”. And he demanded the Cental Committee to expel Zinoviev and Kamenev from the Party.

The revolution enemies, warned by traitors, started taking the necessary measures for preventing the insurrection and smashing the General Staff, leading the revolution, the Bolshevik Party. The Provisional Government assembled a secret Minister Council in which the measuresfot the fight were planned against the Bolsheviks, providing in an acceleratd way the front troops deployment to Petrograd, on October 19th (November 1st). Strong patrols started agitating the streets.

But the days and lifetime were counted for the Provisional Government. There was not any capable force to stop the crushing march of the Socialist Revolution, something that would be confirmed in the last fifteen days of October.


Notes:

1 - References to the 13 days of difference between the former Julian calendar adopted by the Czarist Russia and the western Gregorian calendar . Dates between parenthesis.

2 - Letters meaning Social-Democratic Worker Party of Russia (Bolshevik), name of the Communist Party of Russia (Bolshevik) at that time.

3 - Lenin referred to George Buchanan, the British imperialism ambassador, who helped the reactionary country’s circles to struggle against the revolution. On August 1917 he supported Kornilov’s unsuccessful complot.

4 - Lenin referred to Guilherme II, German emperor and Prussia’s king who, with the Angle-french imperialism, led the war against Russia and allies.

References:

USSR (Bolshevik) Communist Party’s history . { Written by the USSR CP Central Committee Commission, approved in 1938]. Rio de Janeiro: Vitória, 1945.

Illustrated History of the Great Socialist Revolution of October – 1917, in Russia, month by month. Nenarokov, Albert. Moscow/Lisbon: Edições Progresso, Editorial Avante, 1987. 

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