The Kornilov revolt is treated in detail in my forthcoming volume, “Kornilov to Brest–Litovsk.” The responsibility of Kerensky for the situation which gave rise to Kornilov’s attempt is now pretty clearly established. Many apologists for Kerensky say that he knew of Kornilov’s plans, and by a trick drew him out prematurely, and then crushed him. Even Mr. A. J. Sack, in his book, “The Birth of the Russian Democracy,” says:
“Several things… are almost certain. The first is that Kerensky knew about the movement of several detachments from the Front toward Petrograd, and it is possible that as Prime Minister and Minister of War, realising the growing Bolshevist danger, he called for them….”
The only flaw in that argument is that there was no “Bolshevist danger” at that time, the Bolsheviki still being a powerless minority in the Soviets, and their leaders in jail or hiding.
When the Democratic Conference was first proposed to Kerensky, he suggested an assembly of all the elements in the nation —“the live forces,” as he called them — including bankers, manufacturers, land-owners, and representatives of the Cadet party. The Soviet refused, and drew up the following table of representation, which Kerensky agreed to:
|100 delegates||All–Russian Soviets Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies|
|100 delegates||All–Russian Soviets Peasants’ Deputies|
|50 delegates||Provincial Soviets Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies|
|50 delegates||Peasants’ District Land Committees|
|100 delegates||Trade Unions|
|84 delegates||Army Committees at the Front|
|150 delegates||Workers’ and Peasants’ Cooperative Societies|
|20 delegates||Railway Workers’ Union|
|10 delegates||Post and Telegraph Workers’ Union|
|20 delegates||Commercial Clerks|
|15 delegates||Liberal Professions — Doctors, Lawyers, Journalists, etc.|
|50 delegates||Provincial Zemstvos|
|59 delegates||Nationalist Organisations — Poles, Ukraineans, etc.|
This proportion was altered twice or three times. The final disposition of delegates was:
|300 delegates||All–Russian Soviets Workers’, Soldiers’ & Peasants’ Deputies|
|300 delegates||Cooperative Societies|
|150 delegates||Army Committees at the Front|
|150 delegates||Provincial Zemstvos|
|200 delegates||Trade Unions|
|100 delegates||Nationalist Organisations|
|200 delegates||Several small groups|
On September 28th, 1917, Izviestia, organ of the Tsay-ee-kah, published an article which said, speaking of the last Provisional Ministry:
“At last a truly democratic government, born of the will of all classes of the Russian people, the first rough form of the future liberal parliamentary régime, has been formed. Ahead of us is the Constituent Assembly, which will solve all questions of fundamental law, and whose composition will be essentially democratic. The function of the Soviets is at an end, and the time is approaching when they must retire, with the rest of the revolutionary machinery, from the stage of a free and victorious people, whose weapons shall hereafter be the peaceful ones of political action.”
The leading article of Izviestia for October 23d was called, “The Crisis in the Soviet Organisations.” It began by saying that travellers reported a lessening activity of local Soviets everywhere. “This is natural,” said the writer. “For the people are becoming interested in the more permanent legislative organs — the Municipal Dumas and the Zemstvs….
“In the important centres of Petrograd and Moscow, where the Soviets were best organised, they did not take in all the democratic elements…. The majority of the intellectuals did not participate, and many workers also; some of the workers because they were politically backward, others because the centre of gravity for them was in their Unns…. We cannot deny that these organisations are firmly united with the masses, whose everyday needs are better served by them….
“That the local democratic administrations are being energetically organised is highly important. The City Dumas are elected by universal suffrage, and in purely local matters have more authority than the Soviets. Not a single democrat will see anything wrong in this….
“… Elections to the Municipalities are being conduct in a better and more democratic way than the elections to the Soviets… All classes are represented in the Municipalities…. And as soon as the local Self–Governments begin to organise life in the Municipalities, the rôle of the local Soviets naturally ends….
“… There are two factors in the falling off of interest in the Soviets. The first we may attribute to the lowering of political interest in the masses; the second, to the growing effort of provincial and local governing bodies to organise the building of new Russia…. The more the tendency lies in this latter direction, the sooner disappears the significance of the Soviets….
“We ourselves are being called the ‘undertakers’ of our own organisation. In reality, we ourselves are the hardest workers in constructing the new Russia….
“When autocracy and the whole bureaucratic règimeell, we set up the Soviets as a barracks in which all the democracy cod find temporary shelter. Now, instead of barracks, we are building the permanent edifice of a new system, and naturally the people will gradually leave the barracks for more comfortable quarters.”
“The purpose of the Democratic Conference, which was called by the Tsay-ee-kah, was to do away with the irresponsible personal government which produced Kornilov, and to establish a responsible government which would be capable of finishing the war, and ensure the calling of the Constituent Assembly at the given time. In the meanwhile behind the back of the Democratic Conference, by trickery, by deals between Citizen Kerensky, the Cadets, and the leaders of the Menshevik and Socialist Revolutionary parties, we received the opposite result from the officially announced purpose. A power was created around which and in which we have open and secret Kornilovs playing leading parts. The irresponsibility of the Government is offically proclaimed, when it is announced that the Council of the Russian Republic is to be a consultative and not legislative body. In the eighth month of the Revolution, the irresponsible Government creates a cover for itself in this new edition of Bieligen’s Duma.
“The propertied classes have entered this Provision Council in a proportion which clearly shows, from elections all over the country, that many of them have no right here whatever. In spite of that the Cadet party, which until yesterday wanted the Provisional Government to be responsible to the State Duma — this same Cadet party secured the independence Assembly the propertied classes will no doubt have as favourable position than they have in this Council, and they will not be able to be irresponsible to the Constituent Assembly.
“If the propertied classes were really getting ready for the Constituent Assembly six weeks from now, there could be no reason for establishing the irresponsibility of the Government at this time. The whole truth is that the bourgeoisie, which directs the policies of the Provisional Government, has for its aim to break the Constituent Assembly. At present this is the main purpose of the propertied classes, which control our entire national policy — external and internal. In the industrial, agrarian and supply departments the politics of the propertied classes, acting with the Government, increases the natural disorganisation caused by the war. The propertied classes, which are provoking a peasants’ revolt! The propertied classes, which are provoking civil war, and openly hold their course on the bony hand of hunger, with which they intend to overthrow the Revolution and finish with the Constituent Assembly!
“No less criminal also is the international policy of the bourgeoisie and its Government. After forty months of war, the capital is threatened with mortal danger. In reply to this arises a plan to move the Government to Moscow. The idea of abandoning the capital does not stir the indignation of the bourgeoisie. Just the opposite. It is accepted as a natural part of the general policy designed to promote counter-revolutionary conspiracy. … Instead of recognising that the salvation of the country lies in concluding peace, instead of throwing openly the idea of immediate peace to all the worn-out peoples, over the heads of diplomats and imperialists, and making the continuation of the war impossible — the Provisional Government, by order of the Cadets, the Counter–Revolutionists and the Allied Imperialists, without sense, without purpose and without a plan, continues to drag on the murderous war, sentencing to useless death new hundreds of thousands of soldiers and sailors, and preparing to give up Petrograd, and to wreck the Revolution. At a time when Bolshevik soldiers and sailors are dying with other soldiers and sailors as a result of the mistakes and crimes of others, the so-called Supreme Commander (Kerensky) continues to suppress the Bolshevik press. The leading parties of the Council are acting as a voluntary cover for these policies.
“We, the faction of Social Democrats Bolsheviki, announce that with this Government of Treason to the People we have nothing in common. We have nothing in common with the work of these Murderers of the People which goes on behind official curtains. We refuse either directly or indirectly to cover up one day of this work. While Wilhelm’s troops are threatening Petrograd, the Government of Kerensky and Kornilov is preparing to run away from Petrograd and turn Moscow into a base of counter-revolution!
“We warn the Moscow workers and soldiers to be on their guard. Leaving this Council, we appeal to the manhood and wisdom of the workers, peasants and soldiers of all Russia. Petrograd is in danger! The Revolution is in danger! The Government has increased the danger — the ruling classes intensify it. Only the people themselves can save themselves and the country.
“We appeal to the people. Long live immediate, honest, democratic peace! All power to the Soviets! All land to the people! Long live the Constituent Assembly!”
(Passed by the Tsay-ee-kah and given to Skobeliev as an instruction for the representative of the Russian Revolutionary democracy at the Paris Conference.)
The peace treaty must be based on the principle, “No annexations, no indemnities, the right of self-determination of peoples.”
(1) Evacuation of German troops from invaded Russia. Full right of self-determination to Poland, Lithuania and Livonia.
(2) For Turkish Armenia autonomy, and later complete self-determination, as soon as local Governments are established.
(3) The question of Alsace–Lorraine to be solved by a plebiscite, after the withdrawal of all foreign troops.
(4) Belgium to be restored. Compensation for damages from an international fund.
(5) Serbia and Montenegro to be restored, and aided by an international relief fund. Serbia to have an outlet on the Adriatic. Bosnia and Herzegovina to be autonomous.
(6) The disputed provinces in the Balkans to have provisional autonomy, followed by a plebiscite.
(7) Rumania to be restored, but forced to give complete self-determination to the Dobrudja…. Rumania must be forced to execute the clauses of the Berlin Treaty concerning the Jews, and recognise them as Rumanian citizens.
(8) In Italia Irridenta a provisional autonomy, followed by a plebiscite to determine state dependence.
(9) The German colonies to be returned.
(10) Greece and Persia to be restored.
Freedom of the Seas
All straits opening into inland seas, as well as the Suez and Panama Canals, are to be neutralised. Commercial shipping to be free. The right of privateering to be abolished. The torpedoing of commercial ships to be forbidden.
All combatants to renounce demands for any indemnities, either direct or indirect — as, for instance, charges for the maintenance of prisoners. Indemnities and contributions collected during the war must be refunded.
Commercial treaties are not to be a part of the peace terms. Every country must be independent in its commercial relations, and must not be obliged to, or prevented from, concluding an economic treaty, by the Treaty of Peace. Nevertheless, all nations should bind themselves, by the Peace Treaty, not to practise an economic blockade after the war, nor to form separate tariff agreements. The right of most favoured nation must be given to all countries without distinction.
Guarantees of Peace
Peace is to be concluded at the Peace Conference by delegates elected by the national representative institutions of each country. The peace terms are to be confirmed by these parliaments.
Secret diplomacy is to be abolished; all parties are to bind themselves not to conclude any secret treaties. Such treaties are declared in contradiction to international law, and void. All treaties, until confirmed by the parliaments of the different nations, are to be considered void.
Gradual disarmament both on land and sea, and the establishment of a militia system. The “League of Nations” advanced by President Wilson may become a valuable aid to international law, provided that (a), all nations are to be obliged to participate in it with equal rights, and (b), international politics are to be democratised.
Ways to Peace
The Allies are to announce immediately that they are willing to open peace negotiations as soon as the enemy powers declare their consent to the renunciation of all forcible annexations.
The Allies must bind themselves not to begin any peace negotiations, nor to conclude peace, except in a general Peace Conference with the participation of delegates from all the neutral countries.
All obstacles to the Stockholm Socialist Conference are to be removed, and passports are to be given immediately to all delegates of parties and organisations who wish to participate.
(The Executive Committee of the Peasants’ Soviets also issued a nakaz, which differs little from the above.)
The Ribot revelations of Austria’s peace-offer to France; the so-called “Peace Conference” at Berne, Switzerland, during the summer of 1917, in which delegates participated from all belligerent countries, representing large financial interests in all these countries; and the attempted negotiations of an English agent with a Bulgarian church dignitary; all pointed to the fact that there were strong currents, on both sides, favourable to patching up a peace at the expense of Russia. In my next book, “Kornilov to Brest–Litovsk,” I intend to treat this matter at some length, publishing several secret documents discovered in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at Petrograd.
Official Report of the Provisional Government.
“From the time the news of the Russian Revolution reached Paris, Russian newspapers of extreme tendencies immediately began to appear; and these newspapers, as well as individuals, freely circulated among the soldier masses and began a Bolshevik propaganda, often spreading false news which appeared in the French journals. In the absence of all official news, and of precise details, this campaign provoked discontent among the soldiers. The result was a desire to return to Russia, and a hatred toward the officers.
“Finally it all turned into rebellion. In one of their meetings, the soldiers issued an appeal to refuse to drill, since they had decided to fight no more. It was decided to isolate the rebels, and General Zankievitch ordered all soldiers loyal to the Provisional Government to leave the camp of Courtine, and to carry with them all ammunition. On June 25th the order was executed; there remained at the camp only the soldiers who said they would submit ‘conditionally’ to the Provisional Government. The soldiers at the camp of Courtine received several times the visit of the Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Armies abroad, of Rapp, the Commissar of the Ministry of War, and of several distinguished former exiles who wished to influence them, but these attempts were unsuccessful, and finally Commissar Rapp insisted that the rebels lay down their arms, and, in sign of submission, march in good order to a place called Clairvaux. The order was only partially obeyed; first 500 men went out, of whom 22 were arrested; 24 hours later about 6,000 followed…. About 2,000 remained….
“It was decided to increase the pressure; their rations were diminished, their pay was cut off, and the roads toward the village of Courtine were guarded by French soldiers. General Zankievitch, having discovered that a Russian artillery brigade was passing through France, decided to form a mixed detachment of infantry and artillery to reduce the rebels. A deputation was sent to the rebels; the deputation returned several hours later, convinced of the futility of the negotiations. On September 1st General Zankievitch sent an ultimatum to the rebels demanding that they lay down their arms, and menacing in case of refusal to open fire with artillery if the order was not obeyed by September 3d at 10 o’clock.
“The order not being executed, a light fire of artillery was opened on the place at the hour agreed upon. Eighteen shells were fired, and the rebels were warned that the bombardment would become more intense. In the night of September 3d 160 men surrendered. September 4th the artillery bombardment recommenced, and at 11 o’clock, after 36 shells had been fired, the rebels raised two white flags and began to leave the camp without arms. By evening 8,300 men had surrendered. 150 soldiers who remained in the camp opened fire with machine-guns that night. The 5th of September, to make an end of the affair, a heavy barrage was laid on the camp, and our soldiers occupied it little by little. The rebels kept up a heavy fire with their machine-guns. September 6th, at 9 o’clock, the camp was entirely occupied…. After the disarmament of the rebels, 81 arrests were made….”
Thus the report. From secret documents discovered in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, however, we know that the account is not strictly accurate. The first trouble arose when the soldiers tried to form Committees, as their comrades in Russia were doing. They demanded to be sent back to Russia, which was refused; and then, being considered a dangerous influence in France, they were ordered to Salonika. They refused to go, and the battle followed…. It was discovered that they had been left in camp without officers for about two months, and badly treated, before they became rebellious. All attempts to find out the name of the “Russian artillery brigade” which had fired on them were futile; the telegrams discovered in the Ministry left it to be inferred that French artillery was used….
After their surrender, more than two hundred of the mutineers were shot in cold blood.
“… The questions of foreign policy are closely related to those of national defence…. And so, if in questions of national defence you think it is necessary to hold session in secret, also in our foreign policy we are sometimes forced to observe the same secrecy….
“German diplomacy attempts to influence public opinion…. Therefore the declarations of directors of great democratic organisations who talk loudly of a revolutionary Congress, and the impossibility of another winter campaign, are dangerous…. All these declarations cost human lives….
“I wish to speak merely of governmental logic, without touching the questions of the honour and dignity of the State. From the point of view of logic, the foreign policy of Russia ought to be based on a real comprehension of the interests of Russia…. These interests mean that it is impossible that our country remain alone, and that the present alignment of forces with us, (the Allies), is satisfactory…. All humanity longs for peace, but in Russia no one will permit a humiliating peace which would violate the State interests of our fatherland!”
The orator pointed out that such a peace would for long years, if not for centuries, retard the triumph of democratic principles in the world, and would inevitably cause new wars.
“All remember the days of May, when the fraternisation on our Front threatened to end the war by a simple cessation of military operations, and lead the country to a shameful separate peace… and what efforts it was necessary to use to make the soldier masses at the front understand that it was not by this method that the Russian State must end the war and guarantee its interest….”
He spoke of the miraculous effect of the July offensive, what strength it gave to the words of Russian ambassadors abroad, and the despair in Germany caused by the Russian victories. And also, the disillusionment in Allied countries which followed the Russian defeat….
“As to the Russian Government, it adhered strictly to the formula of May, ‘No annexations and no punitive indemnities.’ We consider it essential not only to proclaim the self-determination of peoples, but also to renounce imperialist aims….”
Germany is continually trying to make peace. The only talk in Germany is of peace; she knows she cannot win.
“I reject the reproaches aimed at the Government which allege that Russian foreign policy does not speak clearly enough about the aims of the war….
“If the question arises as to what ends the Allies are pursuing, it is indispensable first to demand what aims the Central Powers have agreed upon….
“The desire is often heard that we publish the details of the treaties which bind the Allies; but people forget that, up to now, we do not know the treaties which bind the Central Powers….”
Germany, he said, evidently wants to separate Russia from the West by a series of weak buffer-states.
“This tendency to strike at the vital interests of Russia must be checked….
“And will the Russian democracy, which has inscribed on its banner the rights of nations to dispose of themselves, allow calmly the continuation of oppression upon the most civilised peoples (in Austria–Hungary)?
“Those who fear that the Allies will try to profit by our difficult situation, to make us support more than our share of the burden of war, and to solve the questions of peace at our expense, are entirely mistaken…. Our enemy looks upon Russia as a market for its products. The end of the war will leave us in a feeble condition, and with our frontier open the flood of German products can easily hold back for years our industrial development. Measures must be taken to guard against this….
“I say openly and frankly: the combination of forces which unites us to the Allies is favourable to the interests of Russia…. It is therefore important that our views on the questions of war and peace shall be in accord with the views of the Allies as clearly and precisely as possible…. To avoid all misunderstanding, I must say frankly that Russia must present at the Paris Conference one point of view….”
He did not want to comment on the nakaz to Skobeliev, but he referred to the Manifesto of the Dutch–Scandinavian Committee, just published in Stockholm. This Manifesto declared for the autonomy of Lithuania and Livonia; “but that is clearly impossible,” said Terestchenko, “for Russia must have free ports on the Baltic all the year round….
“In this question the problems of foreign policy are also closely related to interior politics, for if there existed a strong sentiment of unity of all great Russia, one would not witness the repeated manifestations, everywhere, of a desire of peoples to separate from the Central Government…. Such separations are contrary to the interests of Russia, and the Russian delegates cannot raise the issue….”
At the time of the naval battle of the Gulf of Riga, not only the Bolsheviki, but also the Ministers of the Provisional Government, considered that the British Fleet had deliberately abandoned the Baltic, as one indication of the attitude so often expressed publicly by the British press, and semi-publicly by British representatives in Russia, “Russia’s finished! No use bothering about Russia!”
See interview with Kerensky (Appendix 13).
GENERAL GURKO was a former Chief of Staff of the Russian armies under the Tsar. He was a prominent figure in the corrupt Imperial Court. After the Revolution, he was one of the very few persons exiled for his political and personal record. The Russian naval defeat in the Gulf of Riga coincided with the public reception, by King George in London, of General Gurko, a man whom the Russian Provisional Government considered dangerously pro-German as well as reactionary!
To Workers and Soldiers
“Comrades! The Dark Forces are increasingly trying to call forth in Petrograd and other towns DISORDERS AND Pogroms. Disorder is necessary to the Dark Forces, for disorder will give them an opportunity for crushing the revolutionary movement in blood. Under the pretext of establishing order, and of protecting the inhabitants, they hope to establish the domination of Kornilov, which the revolutionary people succeeded in suppressing not long ago. Woe to the people if these hopes are realised! The triumphant counter-revolution will destroy the Soviets and the Army Committees, will disperse the Constituent Assembly, will stop the transfer of the land to the Land Committees, will put an end to all the hopes of the people for a speedy peace, and will fill all the prisons with revolutionary soldiers and workers.
“In their calculations, the counter-revolutionists and Black Hundred leaders are counting on the serious discontent of the unenlightened part of the people with the disorganisation of the food-supply, the continuation of the war, and the general difficulties of life. They hope to transform every demonstration of soldiers and workers into a pogrom, which will frighten the peaceful population and throw it into the arms of the Restorers of Law and Order.
“Under such conditions every attempt to organise a demonstration in these days, although for the most laudable object, would be a crime. All conscious workers and soldiers who are displeased with the policy of the Government will only bring injury to themselves and to the Revolution if they indulge in demonstrations.
“THEREFORE THE Tsay-ee-kah ASKS ALL WORKERS NOT TO OBEY ANY CALLS TO DEMONSTRATE.
“WORKERS AND SOLDIERS! DO NOT YIELD TO PROVOCATION! REMEMBER YOUR DUTY TO YOUR COUNTRY AND TO THE REVOLUTION! DO NOT BREAK THE UNITY OF THE REVOLUTIONARY FRONT BY DEMONSTRATIONS WHICH ARE BOUND TO BE UNSUCCESSFUL!”
The Central Executive Committee of the Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies (Tsay-ee-kah)
Russian Social Democratic Labour Party THE DANGER IS NEAR! To All Workers and Soldiers (Read and Hand to Others)
Comrades Workers and Soldiers!
“Our country is in danger. On account of this danger our freedom and our Revolution are passing through difficult days. The enemy is at the gates of Petrograd. The disorganisation is growing with every hours. It becomes more and more difficult to obtain bread for Petrograd. All, of from the smallest to the greatest, must redouble their efforts, must endeavour to arrange things properly…. We must save our country, say freedom…. More arms and provisions for the Army! Bread — for the great cities. Order and organisation in the country….
“And in these terrible critical days rumours creep about that SOMEWHERE a demonstration is being prepared, that SOME ONE is calling on the soldiers and workers to destroy revolutionary peace and order…. Rabotchi Put, the newspaper of the Bolsheviki, is pouring oil on the flames: it flattering, trying to please the unenlightened people, tempting the worker and soldiers, urging them on against the Government, promising them mountains of good things…. The confiding, ignorant men believe, they do not reason…. And from the other side come also rumours — rumours that the Dark Forces, the friends of the Tsar, the German spies, are rubbing their hands with glee. They are ready to join the Bolsheviki, and with them fan the disorders into civil war.
“The Bolsheviki and the ignorant soldiers and workers seduced by them cry senselessly: ‘Down with the Government! All power to the Soviets!’ And the Dark servants of the Tsar and the spies of Wilhelm will egg the on; ‘Beat the Jews, beat the shopkeepers, rob the markets, devastate the shops, pillage the wine stores! Slay, burn, rob!’
“And then will begin a terrible confusion, a war between one part of the people and the other. All will become still more disorganised, and perhaps once more blood will be shed on the streets of the capital. And then what then?
“Then, the road to Petrograd will be open to Wilhelm. Then, no bread will come to Petrograd, the children will die of hunger. Then, the Army as the front will remain without support, our brothers in the trenches will be delivered to the fire of the enemy. Then, Russia will lose all prestige in other countries, our money will lose its value; everything will be so dear as to make life impossible. Then, the long awaited Constituent Assembly will be postponed — it will be impossible to convene it in time. And then — Death to the Revolution, Death to our Liberty….
“Is it this that you want, workers and soldiers? No! If you do not then go, go to the ignorant people seduced by the betrayers, and tell them the whole truth, which we have told you!
“Let all know that EVERY MAN WHO IN THESE TERRIBLE DAYS CALLS ON YOU TO COME OUT IN THE STREETS AGAINST THE GOVERNMENT, IS EITHER A SECRET SERVANT OF THE TSAR, A PROVOCATOR, OR AN UNWISE ASSISTANT OF THE ENEMIES OF THE PEOPLE, OR A PAID SPY OF WILHELM!
“Every conscious worker revolutionist, every conscious peasant, every revolutionary soldier, all who understand what harm a demonstration or a revolt against the Government might cause to the people, must join together and not allow the enemies of the people to destroy our freedom.”
The Petrograd Electoral Committee of the Mensheviki-oborontzi.
This series of articles appeared in Rabotchi Put several days running, at the end of October and beginning of November, 1917. I give here only extracts from two instalments:
1. Kameniev and Riazanov say that we have not a majority among the people, and that without a majority insurrection is hopeless.
“Answer: People capable of speaking such things are falsifiers, pedants, or simply don’t want to look the real situation in the face. In the last elections we received in all the country more than fifty per cent of all thevotes….
“The most important thing in Russia to-day is the peasants’ revolution. In Tambov Government there has been a real agrarian uprising with wonderful political results…. Even Dielo Naroda has been scared into yelling that the land must be turned over to the peasants, and not only the Socialist Revolutionaries in the Council of the Republic, but also the Government itself, has been similarly affected. Another valuable result was the bringing of bread which had been hoarded by the pomieshtchiki to the railroad stations in that province. The Russkaya Volia had to admit that the stations were filled with bread after the peasants’ rising….
“2. We are not sufficiently strong to take over the Government, and the bourgeoisie is not sufficiently strong to prevent the Constituent Assembly.
“Answer: This is nothing but timidity, expressed by pessimism as regards workers and soldiers, and optimism as regards the failure of the bourgeoisie. If yunkers and Cossacks say they will fight, you believe them; if workmen and soldiers say so, you doubt it. What is the distinction between such doubts and siding politically with the bourgeoisie?
“Kornilov proved that the Soviets were really a power. To believe Kerensky and the Council of the Republic, if the bourgeoisie is not strong enough to break the Soviets, it is not strong enough to break the Constituent. But that is wrong. The bourgeoisie will break the Constituent by sabotage, by lock-outs, by giving up Petrograd, by opening the front to the Germans. This has already been done in the case of Riga….
“3. The Soviets must remain a revolver at the head of the Government to force the calling of the Constituent Assembly, and to suppress any further Kornilov attempts.
“Answer: Refusal of insurrection is refusal of ‘All Power to the Soviets.’ Since September the Bolshevik party has been discussing the question of insurrection. Refusing to rise means to trust our hopes in the faith of the good bourgeoisie, who have ‘promised’ to call the Constituent Assembly. When the Soviets have all the power, the calling of the Constituent is guaranteed, and its success assured.
“Refusal of insurrection means surrender to the ‘Lieber–Dans.’ Either we must drop ‘All Power to the Soviets’ or make an insurrection; there is no middle course.”
“4. The bourgeoisie cannot give up Petrograd, although the Rodziankos want it, because it is not the bourgeoisie who are fighting, but our heroic soldiers and sailors.
“Answer: This did not prevent two admirals from running away at the Moonsund battle. The Staff has not changed; it is composed of Kornilovtsi. If the Staff, with Kerensky at its head, wants to give up Petrograd, it can do it doubly or trebly. It can make arrangements with the Germans or the British; open the fronts. It can sabotage the Army’s food supply. At all these doors has it knocked.
“We have no right to wait until the bourgeoisie chokes the Revolution. Rodzianko is a man of action, who has faithfully and truthfully served the bourgeoisie for years…. Half the Lieber–Dans are cowardly compromisers; half of them simple fatalists….”
“5. We’re getting stronger every day. We shall be able to enter the Constituent Assembly as a strong opposition. Then why should we play everything on one card?”
“Answer: This is the argument of a sophomore with no practical experience, who reads that the Constituent Assembly is being called and trustfully accepts the legal and constitutional way. Even the voting of the Constituent Assembly will not do away with hunger, or beat Wilhelm…. The issue of hunger and of surrendering Petrograd cannot be decided by waiting for the Constituent Assembly. Hunger is not waiting. The peasants’ Revolution is not waiting. The Admirals who ran away did not wait.
“Blind people are surprised that hungry people, betrayed by admirals and generals, do not take an interest in voting.
“6. If the Kornilovtsi make an attempt, we would show them our strength. But why should we risk everything by making an attempt ourselves?
“Answer: History doesn’t repeat. ‘Perhaps Kornilov will some day make an attempt!’ What a serious base for proletarian action! But suppose Kornilov waits for starvation, for the opening of the fronts, what then? This attitude means to build the tactics of a revolutionary party on one of the bourgeoisie’s former mistakes.
“Let us forget everything except that there is no way out but by the dictatorship of the proletariat — either that or the dictatorship of Kornilov.
“Let us wait, comrades, for — a miracle!”
“Every one admits, it seems, that the defence of the country is our principal task, and that, to assure it, we must have discipline in the Army and order in the rear. To achieve this, there must be a power capable of daring, not only by persuasion, but also by force…. The germ of all our evils comes from the point of view, original, truly Russian, concerning foreign policy, which passes for the Internationalist point of view.
“The noble Lenin only imitates the noble Keroyevsky when he holds that from Russia will come the New World which shall resuscitate the aged West, and which will replace the old banner of doctrinary Socialism by the new direct action of starving masses — and that will push humanity forward and force it to break in the doors of the social paradise….”
These men sincerely believed that the decomposition of Russia would bring about the decomposition of the whole capitalist régime. Starting from that point of view, they were able to commit the unconscious treason, in wartime, of calmly telling the soldiers to abandon the trenches, and instead of fighting the external enemy, creating internal civil war and attacking the proprietors and capitalists….
Here Miliukov was interrupted by furious cries from the Left, demanding what Socialist had ever advised such action….
“Martov says that only the revolutionary pressure of the proletariat can condemn and conquer the evil will of imperialist cliques and break down the dictatorship of these cliques…. Not by an accord between Governments for a limitation of armaments, but by the disarming of these Governments and the radical democratisation of the military system….”
He attacked Martov viciously, and then turned on the Mensheviki and Socialist Revolutionaries, whom he accused of entering the Government as Ministers with the avowed purpose of carrying on the class struggle!
“The Socialists of Germany and of the Allied countries contemplated these gentlemen with ill-concealed contempt, but they decided that it was for Russia, and sent us some apostles of the Universal Conflagration….
“The formula of our democracy is very simple; no foreign policy, no art of diplomacy, an immediate democratic peace, a declaration to the Allies, ‘We want nothing, we haven’t anything to fight with!’ And then our adversaries will make the same declaration, and the brotherhood of peoples will be accomplished!”
Miliukov took a fling at the Zimmerwald Manifesto, and declared that even Kerensky has not been able to escape the influence of “that unhappy document which will forever be your indictment.” He then attacked Skobeliev, whose position in foreign assemblies, where he would appear as a Russian delegate, yet opposed to the foreign policy of his Government, would be so strange that people would say, “What’s that gentleman carrying, and what shall we talk to him about?” As for the nakaz, Miliukov said that he himself was a pacifist; that he believed in the creation of an International Arbitration Board, and the necessity for a limitation of armaments, and parliamentary control over secret diplomacy, which did not mean the abolition of secret diplomacy.
As for the Socialist ideas in the nakaz, which he called “Stockholm ideas”— peace without victory, the right of self-determination of peoples, and renunciation of the economic war —
“The German successes are directly proportionate to the successes of those who call themselves the revolutionary democracy. I do not wish to say, ‘to the successes of the Revolution,’ because I believe that the defeats of the revolutionary democracy are victories for the Revolution….
“The influence of the Soviet leaders abroad is not unimportant. One had only to listen to the speech of the Minister of Foreign Affairs to be convinced that, in this hall, the influence of the revolutionary democracy on foreign policy is so strong, that the Minister does not dare to speak face to face with it about the honour and dignity of Russia!
“We can see, in the nakaz of the Soviets, that the ideas of the Stockholm Manifesto have been elaborated in two direction — that of Utopianism, and that of German interests….
Interrupted by the angry cries of the Left, and rebuked by the President, Miliukov insisted that the proposition of peace concluded by popular assemblies, not by diplomats, and the proposal to undertake peace negotiations as soon as the enemy had renounced annexations, were pro-German. Recently Kuhlman said that a personal declaration bound only him who made it…. “Anyway, we will imitate the Germans before we will imitate the Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies….”
The sections treating of the independence of Lithuania and Livonia were symptoms of nationalist agitation in different parts of Russia, supported, said Miliukov, by German money…. Amid bedlam from the Left, he contrasted the clauses of the nakaz concerning Alsace–Lorraine, Rumania, and Serbia, with those treating of the nationalities in Germany and Austria. The nakaz embraced the German and Austrian point of view, said Miliukov.
Passing to Terestchenko’s speech, he contemptuously accused him of being afraid to speak the thought in his mind, and even afraid to think in terms of the greatness of Russia. The Dardanelles must belong to Russia….
“You are continually saying that the soldier does not know why he is fighting, and that when he does know, he’ll fight…. It is true that the soldier doesn’t know why he is fighting, but now you have told him that there is no reason for him to fight, that we have no national interests, and that we are fighting for alien ends….”
Paying tribute to the Allies, who, he said, with the assistance of America, “will yet save the cause of humanity,” he ended:
“Long live the light of humanity, the advanced democracies of the West, who for a long time have been travelling the way we now only begin to enter, with ill-assured and hesitating steps! Long live our brave Allies!”
The Associated Press man tried his hand. “Mr. Kerensky,” he began, “in England and France people are disappointed with the Revolution ——”
“Yes, I know,” interrupted Kerensky, quizzically. “Abroad the Revolution is no longer fashionable!”
“What is your explanation of why the Russians have stopped fighting?”
“That is a foolish question to ask.” Kerensky was annoyed. “Russia entered the war first of all the Allies, and for a long time she bore the whole brunt of it. Her losses have been inconceivably greater than those of all the other nations put together. Russia has now the right to demand of the Allies that they bring greater force of arms to bear.” He stopped for a moment and stared at his interlocutor. “You are asking why the Russians have stopped fighting, and the Russians are asking where is the British fleet — with German battle-ships in the Gulf of Riga?” Again he ceased suddenly, and as suddenly burst out. “The Russian Revolution hasn’t failed and the revolutionary Army hasn’t failed. It is not the Revolution which caused disorganisation in the army — that disorganisation was accomplished years ago, by the old regime. Why aren’t the Russians fighting? I will tell you. Because the masses of the people are economically exhausted — and because they are disillusioned with the Allies!”
The interview of which this is an excerpt was cabled to the United States, and in a few days sent back by the American State Department, with a demand that it be “altered.” This Kerensky refused to do; but it was done by his secretary, Dr. David Soskice — and, thus purged of all offensive references to the Allies, was given to the press of the world….
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:59