Ten Days That Shook the World, by John Reed

Appendix to Chapter i


Oborontsi—“Defenders.” All the “moderate” Socialist groups adopted or were given this name, because they consented to the continuation of the war under Allied leadership, on the ground that it was a war of National Defence. The Bolsheviki, the Left Socialist Revolutionaries, the Mensheviki Internationalists (Martov’s faction), and the Social Democrats Internationalists (Gorky’s group) were in favour of forcing the Allies to declare democratic war-aims, and to offer peace to Germany on those terms….


Wages and Cost of Living Before and During the Revolution

The following tables of wages and costs were compiled, in October, 1917, by a joint Committee from the Moscow Chamber of Commerce and the Moscow section of the Ministry of Labour, and published in Novaya Zhizn, October 26th, 1917:

Wages Per Day —(Rubles and kopeks)
Trade July 1914 July 1916 August 1917
Carpenter, Cabinet-maker 1.60 — 2. 4. — 6. 8.50
Terrassier 1.30 — 1.50 3. — 3.50
Mason, plasterer 1.70 — 2.35 4. — 6. 8.
Painter, upholsterer 1.80 — 2.20 3. — 5.50 8.
Blacksmith 1. — 2.25 4. — 5. 8.50
Chimney-sweep 1.50 — 2. 4. — 5.50 7.50
Locksmith .90 — 2. 3.50 — 6. 9.
Helper 1. — 1.50 2.50 — 4.50 8.

In spite of numerous stories of gigantic advances in wages immediately following the Revolution of March, 1917, these figures, which were published by the Ministry of Labour as characteristic of conditions all over Russia, show that wages did not rise immediately after the Revolution, but little by little. On an average, wages increased slightly more than 500 per cent….

But at the same time the value of the ruble fell to less than one-third its former purchasing power, and the cost of the necessities of life increased enormously.

The following table was compiled by the Municipal Duma of Moscow, where food was cheaper and more plentiful than in Petrograd:

Cost of Food —(Rubles and Kopeks)
August 1914 August 1917 % Increase
Black bread (Fund) .02 1/2 .12 330
White bread (Fund) .05 .20 300
Beef (Fund) .22 1.10 400
Veal (Fund) .26 2.15 727
Pork (Fund) .23 2. 770
Herring (Fund) .06 .52 767
Cheese (Fund) .40 3.50 754
Butter (Fund) .48 3.20 557
Eggs (Doz.) .30 1.60 443
Milk (Krushka) .07 .40 471

On an average, food increased in price 556 per cent, or 51 per cent more than wages.

As for the other necessities, the price of these increased tremendously.

The following table was compiled by the Economic section of the Moscow Soviet of Workers’ Deputies, and accepted as correct by the Ministry of Supplies of the Provisional Government.

Cost of Other Necessities —(Rubles and Kopeks)
August 1914 August 1917 % Increase
Calico (Arshin) .11 1.40 1173
Cotton cloth (Arshin) .15 2. 1233
Dress Goods (Arshin) 2. 40. 1900
Castor cloth (Arshin) 6. 80. 1233
Men’s Shoes (Pair) 12. 144. 1097
Sole Leather 20. 400. 1900
Rubbers (Pair) 2.50 15. 500
Men’s Clothing (Suit) 40. 400. –455. 900–1109
Tea (Fund) 4.50 18. 300
Matches (Carton) .10 .50 400
Soap (Pood) 4.50 40. 780
Gasoline (Vedro) 1.70 11. 547
Candles (Pood) 8.50 100. 1076
Caramel (Fund) .30 4.50 1400
Fire Wood (Load) 10. 120. 1100
Charcoal .80 13. 1525
Sundry Metal Ware 1. 20. 1900

On an average, the above categories of necessities increased about 1,109 per cent in price, more than twice the increase of salaries. The difference, of course, went into the pockets of speculators and merchants.

In September, 1917, when I arrived in Petrograd, the average daily wage of a skilled industrial worker — for example, a steel-worker in the Putilov Factory — was about 8 rubles. At the same time, profits were enormous…. I was told by one of the owners of the Thornton Woollen Mills, an English concern on the outskirts of Petrograd, that while wages had increased about 300 per cent in his factory, his profits had gone up 900 per cent.


The Socialist Ministers

The history of the efforts of the Socialists in the Provisional Government of July to realise their programme in coalition with the bourgeois Ministers, is an illuminating example of class struggle in politics. Says Lenin, in explanation of this phenomenon:

“The capitalists, … seeing that the position of the Government was untenable, resorted to a method which since 1848 has been for decades practised by the capitalists in order to befog, divide, and finally overpower the working-class. This method is the so-called ‘Coalition Ministry,’ composed of bourgeois and of renegades from the Socialist camp.

“In those countries where political freedom and democracy have existed side by side with the revolutionary movement of the workers — for example in England and France — the capitalists make use of this subterfuge, and very successfully too. The ‘Socialist’ leaders, upon entering the Ministries, invariably prove mere figure-heads, puppets, simply a shield for the capitalists, a tool with which to defraud the workers. The ‘democratic’ and ‘republican’ capitalists in Russia set in motion this very same scheme. The Socialist Revolutionaries and Mensheviki fell victim to it, and on June 1st a ‘Coalition’ Ministry, with the participation of Tchernov, Tseretelli, Skobeliev, Avksentiev, Savinkov, Zarudny and Nikitin became an accomplished fact….”—Problems of the Revolution.


September Municipal Elections in Moscow

In the first week of October, 1917, Novaya Zhizn published the following comparative table of election results, pointing out that this meant the bankruptcy of the policy of Coalition with the propertied classes. “If civil war can yet be avoided, it can only be done by a united front of all the revolutionary democracy….”

Elections for the Moscow Central and Ward Dumas
June 1917 September 1917
Socialist Revolutionaries 58 Members 14 Members
Cadets 17 Members 30 Members
Mensheviki 12 Members 4 Members
Bolsheviki 11 Members 47 Members


Growing Arrogance of the Reactionaries

September 18th. The Cadet Shulgin, writing in a Kiev newspaper, said that the Provisional Government’s declaration that Russia was a Republic constituted a gross abuse of its powers. “We cannot admit either a Republic, or the present Republican Government…. And we are not sure that we want a Republic in Russia….”

October 23d. At a meeting of the Cadet party held at Riazan, M. Dukhonin declared, “On March 1st we must establish a Constitutional Monarchy. We must not reject the legitimate heir to the throne, Mikhail Alexandrovitch….”

October 27th. Resolution passed by the Conference of Business Men at Moscow:

“The Conference… insists that the Provisional Government take the following immediate measures in the Army:

“1. Forbidding of all political propaganda; the Army must be out of politics.

“2. Propaganda of antinational and international ideas and theories deny the necessity for armies, and hurt discipline; it should be forbidden, and all propagandists punished….

“3. The function of the Army Committees must be limited to economic questions exclusively. All their decisions should be confirmed by their superior officers, who have the right to dissolve the Committees at any time….

“4. The salute to be reestablished, and made obligatory. Full reestablishment of disciplinary power in the hands of officers, with right of review of sentence….

“5. Expulsion from the Corps of Officers of those who dishonour it by participating in the movement of the soldier-masses, which teaches them disobedience…. Reestablishment for this purpose of the Courts of Honor….

“6. The Provisional Government should take the necessary measures to make possible the return to the army of Generals and other officers unjustly discharged under the influence of Committees, and other irresponsible organisations….”


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