Ten Days That Shook the World, by John Reed

Appendix to Chapter v

1.

Appeals and Proclamations

From the Military Revolutionary Committee, November 8:

“To All Army Committees and All Soviets of Soldiers’ Deputies.

“The Petrograd garrison has overturned the Government of Kerensky, which had risen against the Revolution and the People…. In sending this news to the Front and the country, the Military Revolutionary Committee requests all soldiers to keep vigilant watch on the conduct of officers. Officers who do not frankly and openly declare for the Revolution should be immediately arrested as enemies.

“The Petrograd Soviet interprets the programme of the new Government as: immediate proposals of a general democratic peace, the immediate transfer of great landed estates to the peasants, and the honest convocation of the Constituent Assembly. The people’s revolutionary Army must not permit troops of doubtful morale to be sent to Petrograd. Act by means of arguments, by means of moral suasion — but if that fails, halt the movement of troops by implacable force.

“The present order must be immediately read to all military units of every branch of the service. Whoever keeps the knowledge of this order from the soldier-masses…. commits a serious crime against the Revolution, and will be punished with all the rigour of revolutionary law.

“Soldiers! For peace, bread, land, and popular government!”

“To All Front and Rear Army, Corps, Divisional, Regimental and Company Committees, and All Soviets of Workers’, Soldiers’ and Peasants’ Deputies.

“Soldiers and Revolutionary Officers!

“The Military Revolutionary Committee, by agreement with the majority of the workers, soldiers, and peasants, has decreed that General Kornilov and all the accomplices of his conspiracy shall be brought immediately to Petrograd, for incarceration in Peter–Paul Fortress and arraignment before a military revolutionary court-martial….

“All who resist the execution of this decree are declared by the Committee to be traitors to the Revolution, and their orders are herewith declared null and void.”

The Military Revolutionary Committee Attached to the Petrograd
Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies.

“To all Provincial and District Soviets of Workers’, Soldiers’ and Peasants’ Deputies.

“By resolution of the All–Russian Congress of Soviets, all arrested members of Land Committees are immediately set free. The Commissars who arrested them are to be arrested.

“From this moment all power belongs to the Soviets. The Commissars of the Provisional Government are removed. The presidents of the various local Soviets are invited to enter into direct relations with the revolutionary Government.”

Military Revolutionary Committee.

2.

Protest of the Municipal Duma

“The Central City Duma, elected on the most democratic principles, has undertaken the burden of managing Municipal affairs and food supplies at the time of the greatest disorganisation. At the present moment the Bolshevik party, three weeks before the elections to the Constituent Assembly, and in spite of the menace of the external enemy, having removed by armed force the only legal revolutionary authority, is making an attempt against the rights and independence of the Municipal Self–Government, demanding submission to its Commissars and its illegal authority.

“In this terrible and tragic moment the Petrograd City Duma, in the face of its constituents, and of all Russia, declares loudly that it will not submit to any encroachments on its rights and its independence, and will remain at the post of responsibility to which it has been called by the will of the population of the capital.

“The Central City Duma of Petrograd appeals to all Dumas and Zemstvos of the Russian Republic to rally to the defence of one of the greatest conquests of the Russian Revolution — the independence and inviolability of popular self-government.”

3.

Land Decree — Peasants’ “Nakaz”

The Land question can only be permanently settled by the general Constituent Assembly.

The most equitable solution of the Land question should be as follows:

1. The right of private ownership of land is abolished forever; land cannot be sold, nor leased, nor mortgaged, nor alienated in any way. All dominical lands, lands attached to titles, lands belonging to the Emperor’s cabinet, to monasteries, churches, possession lands, entailed lands, private estates, communal lands, peasant free-holds, and others, are confiscated without compensation, and become national property, and are placed at the disposition of the workers who cultivate them.

Those who are damaged because of this social transformation of the rights of property are entitled to public aid during the time necessary for them to adapt themselves to the new conditions of existence.

2. All the riches beneath the earth — ores, oil, coal, salt, etc. — as well as forests and waters having a national importance, become the exclusive property of the State. All minor streams, lakes and forests are placed in the hands of the communities, on condition of being managed by the local organs of government.

3. All plots of land scientifically cultivated — gardens, plantations, nurseries, seed-plots, green-houses, and others — shall not be divided, but transformed into model farms, and pass into the hands of the State or of the community, according to their size and importance.

Buildings, communal lands and villages with their private gardens and their orchards remain in the hands of their present owners; the dimensions of these plots and the rate of taxes for their use shall be fixed by law.

4. All studs, governmental and private cattle-breeding and bird-breeding establishments, and others, are confiscated and become national property, and are transferred either to the State or to the community, according to their size and importance.

All questions of compensation for the above are within the competence of the Constituent Assembly.

5. All inventoried agricultural property of the confiscated lands, machinery and live-stock, are transferred without compensation to the State or the community, according to their quantity and importance.

The confiscation of such machinery or live-stock shall not apply to the small properties of peasants.

6. The right to use the land is granted to all citizens, without distinction of sex, who wish to work the land themselves, with the help of their families, or in partnership, and only so long as they are able to work. No hired labour is permitted.

In the event of the incapacity for work of a member of the commune for a period of two years, the commune shall be bound to render him assistance during this time by working his land in common.

Farmers who through old age or sickness have permanently lost the capacity to work the land themselves, shall surrender their land and receive instead a Government pension.

7. The use of the land should be equalised — that is to say, the land shall be divided among the workers according to local conditions, the unit of labour and the needs of the individual.

The way in which land is to be used may be individually determined upon: as homesteads, as farms, by communes, by partnerships, as will be decided by the villages and settlements.

8. All land upon its confiscation is pooled in the general People’s Land Fund. Its distribution among the workers is carried out by the local and central organs of administration, beginning with the village democratic organisations and ending with the central provincial institutions — with the exception of urban and rural cooperative societies.

The Land Fund is subject to periodical redistribution according to the increase of population and the development of productivity and rural economy.

In case of modification of the boundaries of allotments, the original centre of the allotment remains intact.

The lands of persons retiring from the community return to the Land Fund; providing that near relatives of the persons retiring, or friends designated by them, shall have preference in the redistribution of these lands.

When lands are returned to the Land Fund, the money expended for manuring or improving the land, which has not been exhausted, shall be reimbursed.

If in some localities the Land Fund is insufficient to satisfy the local population, the surplus population should emigrate.

The organisation of the emigration, also the costs thereof, and the providing of emigrants with the necessary machinery and live-stock, shall be the business of the State.

The emigration shall be carried out in the following order: first, the peasants without land who express their wish to emigrate; then the undesirable members of the community, deserters, etc., and finally, by drawing lots on agreement.

All which is contained in this nakaz, being the expression of the indisputable will of the great majority of conscious peasants of Russia, is declared to be a temporary law, and until the convocation of the Constituent Assembly, becomes effective immediately so far as is possible, and in some parts of it gradually, as will be determined by the District Soviets of Peasants’ Deputies.

4.

The Land and Deserters

The Government was not forced to make any decision concerning the rights of deserters to the land. The end of the war and the demobilisation of the army automatically removed the deserter problem….

5.

The Council of People’s Commissars

The Council of People’s Commissars was at first composed entirely of Bolsheviki. This was not entirely the fault of the Bolsheviki, however. On November 8th they offered portfolios to members of the Left Socialist Revolutionaries, who declined. See page 273. {of original volume}

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Last updated Thursday, March 6, 2014 at 15:33