Smolny Institute, headquarters of the Tsay-ee-kah and of the Petrograd Soviet, lay miles out on the edge of the city, beside the wide Neva. I went there on a street-car, moving snail-like with a groaning noise through the cobbled, muddy streets, and jammed with people. At the end of the line rose the graceful smoke-blue cupolas of Smolny Convent outlined in dull gold, beautiful; and beside it the great barracks like façade of Smolny Institute, two hundred yards long and three lofty stories high, the Imperial arms carved hugely in stone still insolent over the entrance.
Under the old régime a famous convent-school for the daughters of the Russian nobility, patronised by the Tsarina herself, the Institute had been taken over by the revolutionary organisations of workers and soldiers. Within were more than a hundred huge rooms, white and bare, on their doors enamelled plaques still informing the passerby that within was “Ladies’ Class-room Number 4” or “Teachers’ Bureau”; but over these hung crudely-lettered signs, evidence of the vitality of the new order: “Central Committee of the Petrograd Soviet” and “Tsay-ee-kah” and “Bureau of Foreign Affairs”; “Union of Socialist Soldiers,” “Central Committee of the All-Russian Trade Unions,” “Factory-Shop Committees,” “Central Army Committee”; and the central offices and caucus-rooms of the political parties.
The long, vaulted corridors, lit by rare electric lights, were thronged with hurrying shapes of soldiers and workmen, some bent under the weight of huge bundles of newspapers, proclamations, printed propaganda of all sorts. The sound of their heavy boots made a deep and incessant thunder on the wooden floor. Signs were posted up everywhere: “Comrades! For the sake of your health, preserve cleanliness!” Long tables stood at the head of the stairs on every floor, and on the landings, heaped with pamphlets and the literature of the different political parties, for sale.
The spacious, low-ceilinged refectory downstairs was still a dining-room. For two rubles I bought a ticket entitling me to dinner, and stood in line with a thousand others, waiting to get to the long serving-tables, where twenty men and women were ladling from immense cauldrons cabbage soup, hunks of meat and piles of kasha, slabs of black bread. Five kopeks paid for tea in a tin cup. From a basket one grabbed a greasy wooden spoon. The benches along the wooden tables were packed with hungry proletarians, wolfing their food, plotting, shouting rough jokes across the room.
Upstairs was another eating-place, reserved for the Tsay-ee-kah— though every one went there. Here could be had bread thickly buttered and endless glasses of tea.
In the south wing on the second floor was the great hall of meetings, the former ball-room of the Institute. A lofty white room lighted by glazed-white chandeliers holding hundreds of ornate electric bulbs, and divided by two rows of massive columns; at one end a dais, flanked with two tall many-branched light standards, and a gold frame behind, from which the Imperial portrait had been cut. Here on festal occasions had been banked brilliant military and ecclesiastical uniforms, a setting for Grand Duchesses.
Just across the hall outside was the office of the Credentials Committee for the Congress of Soviets. I stood there watching the new delegates come in—burly, bearded soldiers, workmen in black blouses, a few long-haired peasants. The girl in charge—a member of Plekhanov’s Yedinstvo ] group—smiled contemptuously. “These are very different people from the delegates to the first Siezd (Congress),” she remarked. “See how rough and ignorant they look! The Dark People.” It was true; the depths of Russia had been stirred, and it was the bottom which came uppermost now. The Credentials Committee, appointed by the old Tsay-ee-kah, was challenging delegate after delegate, on the ground that they had been illegally elected. Karakhan, member of the Bolshevik Central Committee, simply grinned. “Never mind,” he said, “When the time comes we’ll see that you get your seats.”
Rabotchi i Soldat said:
The attention of delegates to the new All-Russian Congress is called to attempts of certain members of the Organising Committee to break up the Congress, by asserting that it will not take place, and that delegates had better leave Petrograd. Pay no attention to these lies. Great days are coming. . . .
It was evident that a quorum would not come together by November 2, so the opening of the Congress was postponed to the 7th. But the whole country was now aroused; and the Mensheviki and Socialist Revolutionaries, realising that they were defeated, suddenly changed their tactics and began to wire frantically to their provincial organisations to elect as many “moderate” Socialist delegates as possible. At the same time the Executive Committee of the Peasants’ Soviets issued an emergency call for a Peasants’ Congress, to meet December 13th and offset whatever action the workers and soldiers might take. . . .
What would the Bolsheviki do? Rumours ran through the city that there would be an armed “demonstration,” a vystuplennie—“coming out” of the workers and soldiers. The bourgeois and reactionary press prophesied insurrection, and urged the Government to arrest the Petrograd Soviet, or at least to prevent the meeting of the Congress. Such sheets as Novaya Rus advocated a general Bolshevik massacre.
Gorky’s paper, Novaya Zhizn, agreed with the Bolsheviki that the reactionaries were attempting to destroy the Revolution, and that if necessary they must be resisted by force of arms; but all the parties of the revolutionary democracy must present a united front.
As long as the democracy has not organised its principal forces, so long as the resistance to its influence is still strong, there is no advantage in passing to the attack. But if the hostile elements appeal to force, then the revolutionary democracy should enter the battle to seize the power, and it will be sustained by the most profound strata of the people. . . .
Gorky pointed out that both reactionary and Government newspapers were inciting the Bolsheviki to violence. An insurrection, however, would prepare the way for a new Kornilov. He urged the Bolsheviki to deny the rumours. Potressov, in the Menshevik Dien (Day), published a sensational story, accompanied by a map, which professed to reveal the secret Bolshevik plan of campaign.
As if by magic, the walls were covered with warnings, proclamations, 10 appeals, from the Central Committees of the “moderate” and conservative factions and the Tsay-ee-kah, denouncing any “demonstrations,” imploring the workers and soldiers not to listen to agitators. For instance, this from the Military Section of the Socialist Revolutionary party:
Again rumours are spreading around the town of an intended vystuplennie. What is the source of these rumours? What organisation authorises these agitators who preach insurrection? The Bolsheviki, to a question addressed to them in the Tsay-ee-kah, denied that they have anything to do with it. But these rumours themselves carry with them a great danger. It may easily happen that, not taking into consideration the state of mind of the majority of the workers, soldiers and peasants, individual hot-heads will call out part of the workers and soldiers on the streets, inciting them to an uprising. In this fearful time through which revolutionary Russia is passing, any insurrection can easily turn into civil war, and there can result from it the destruction of all organisations of the proletariat, built up with so much labour. The counter-revolutionary plotters are planning to take advantage of this insurrection to destroy the Revolution, open the front to Wilhelm, and wreck the Constituent Assembly. . . . Stick stubbornly to your posts! Do not come out!
On October 28th, in the corridors of Smolny, I spoke with Kameniev, a little man with a reddish pointed beard and Gallic gestures. He was not at all sure that enough delegates would come. “If there is a Congress,” he said, “it will represent the overwhelming sentiment of the people. If the majority is Bolshevik, as I think it will be, we shall demand that the power be given to the Soviets, and the Provisional Government must resign.”
Volodarsky, a tall, pale youth with glasses and a bad complexion, was more definite. “The ‘Lieber-Dans’ and the other compromisers are sabotaging the Congress. If they succeed in preventing its meeting,—well, then we are realists enough not to depend on that!”
Under date of October 29th I find entered in my notebook the following items culled from the newspapers of the day:
Moghilev (General Staff Headquarters). Concentration here of loyal Guard Regiments, the Savage Division, Cossacks and Death Battalions.
The yunkers of the Officers’ Schools of Pavlovsk, Tsarskoye Selo and Peterhof ordered by the Government to be ready to come to Petrograd. Oranienbaum yunkers arrive in the city.
Part of the Armoured Car Division of the Petrograd garrism stationed in the Winter Palace.
Upon orders signed by Trotzky, several thousand rifles delivered by the Government Arms Factory at Sestroretzk to delegates of the Petrograd workmen.
At a meeting of the City Militia of the Lower Liteiny Quarter, a resolution demanding that all power be given to the Soviets.
This is just a sample of the confused events of those feverish days, when everybody knew that something was going to happen, but nobody knew just what.
At a meeting of the Petrograd Soviet in Smolny, the night of October 30th, Trotzky branded the assertions of the bourgeois press that the Soviet contemplated armed insurention as “an attempt of the reactionaries to discredit and wreck the Congress of Soviets. The Petrograd Soviet,” he declared, “had not ordered any uystuplennie. If it is necessary we shall do so, and we will be supported by the Petrogruad garrison. They (the Government) are preparing a counter-revolution; and we shall answer with an offensive which will be merciless and decisive.”
It is true that the Petrograd Soviet had not ordered a demonstration, but the Central Committee of the Bolshevik party was considering the question of insurrection. All night long the 23d they met. There were present all the party intellectuals, the leaders—and delegates of the Petrograd workers and garrison. Alone of the intellectuals Lenin and Trotzky stood for insurrection. Even the military men opposed it. A vote was taken. Insurrection was defeated!
Then arose a rough workman, his face convulsed with rage. “I speak for the Petrograd proletariat,” he said, harshly. “We are in favour of insurrection. Have it your own way, but I tell you now that if you allow the Soviets to be destroyed, we’re through with you!” Some soldiers joined him. And after that they voted again—insurrection won. . . .11
However, the right wing of the Bolsheviki, led by Riazanov, Kameniev and Zinoviev, continued to campaign against an armed rising. On the morning of October 31st appeared in Rabotchi Put the first instalment of Lenin’s “Letter to the Comrades,” one of the most audacious pieces of political propaganda the world has ever seen. In it Lenin seriously presented the arguments in favour of insurrection, taking as text the objections of Kameniev and Riazonov.
“Either we must abandon our slogan, ‘All Power to the Soviets,’ ” he wrote, “or else we must make an insurrection. There is no middle course.”
That same afternoon Paul Miliukov, leader of the Cadets, made a brilliant, bitter speech12 in the Council of the Republic, branding the Skobeliev nakaz as pro-German, declaring that the “revolutionary democracy” was destroying Russia, sneering at Terestchenko, and openly declaring that he preferred German diplomacy to Russian. The Left benches were one roaring tumult all through.
On its part the Government could not ignore the significance of the success of the Bolshevik propaganda. On the 29th joint commission of the Government and the Council of the Republic hastily drew up two laws, one for giving the land temporarily to the peasants, and the other for pushing an energetic foreign policy of peace. The next day Kerensky suspended capital punishment in the army. That same afternoon was opened with great ceremony the first session of the new “Commission for Strengthening the Republican Régime and Fighting Against Anarchy and Counter-Revolution”of which history shows not the slightest further trace. The following morning with two other correspondents I interviewed Kerensky13 —the last time he received journalists.
“The Russian people,” he said, bitterly, “are suffering from economic fatigue—and from disillusionment with the Allies! The world thinks that the Russian Revolution is at an end. Do not be mistaken. The Russian Revolution is just beginning.” Words more prophetic, perhaps, than he knew.
Stormy was the all-night meeting of the Petrograd Soviet the 30th of October, at which I was present. The “moderate” Socialist intellectuals, officers, members of Army Committees, the Tsay-ee-kah, were there in force. Against them rose up workmen, peasants and common soldiers, passionate and simple.
A peasant told of the disorders in Tver, which he said were caused by the arrest of the Land Committees. “This Kerensky is nothing but a shield to the pomieshtchiki (landowners),” he cried. “They know that at the Constituent Assembly we will take the land anyway, so they are trying to destroy the Constituent Assembly!”
A machinist from the Putilov works described how the superintendents were closing down the departments one by one on the pretext that there was no fuel or raw materials. The Factory-Shop Committee, he declared, had discovered huge hidden supplies.
“It is a provocatzia,” said he. “They want to starve us—or drive us to violence!”
Among the soldiers one began, “Comrades! I bring you greetings from the place where men are digging their graves and call them trenches!”
Then arose a tall, gaunt young soldier, with flashing eyes, met with a roar of welcome. It was Tchudnovsky, reported killed in the July fighting, and now risen from the dead.
“The soldier masses no longer trust their officers. Even the Army Committees, who refused to call a meeting of our Soviet, betrayed us. The masses of the soldiers want the Constituent Assembly to be held exactly when it was called for, and those who dare to postpone it will be cursed—and not only platonic curses either, for the Army has guns too.”
He told of the electoral campaign for the Constituent now raging in the Fifth Army. “The officers, and especially the Mensheviki and the Socialist Revolutionaries, are trying deliberately to cripple the Bolsheviki. Our papers are not allowed to circulate in the trenches. Our speakers are arrested—”
“Why don’t you speak about the lack of bread?” shouted another soldier.
“Man shall not live by bread alone,” answered Tchudnovsky, sternly.
Followed him an officer, delegate from the Vitebsk Soviet, a Menshevik oboronetz. “It isn’t the question of who has the power. The trouble is not with the Government, but with the war. and the war must be won before any change—” At this, hoots and ironical cheers. “These Bolshevik agitators are demagogues!” The hall rocked with laughter. “Let us for a moment forget the class struggle—” But he got no farther. A voice yelled, “Don’t you wish we would!”
Petrograd presented a curious spectacle in those days. In the factories the committe-rooms were filled with stacks of rifles, couriers came and went, the Red Guarddrilled. In all the barracks meetings every night, and all day long interminable hot arguments. On the streets the crowds thickened toward gloomy evening, pouring in slow voluble tides up and down the Nevsky, fighting for the newspapers. Hold-ups increased to such an extent that it was dangerous to walk down side streets. On the Sadovaya one afternoon I saw a crowd of several hundred people beat and trample to death a soldier caught stealing. Mysterious individuals circulated around the shivering women who waited in queue long cold hours for bread and milk, whispering that the Jews had cornered the food supply—and that while the people starved, the Soviet members lived luxuriously.
At Smolny there were strict guards at the door and the outer gates, demanding everybody’s pass. The committee-rooms buzzed and hummed all day and all night, hundreds of soldiers and workmen slept on the floor, wherever they could find room. Upstairs in the great hall a thousand people crowded to the uproarious sessions of the Petrograd Soviet.
Gambling clubs functioned hectically from dusk to dawn, with champagne flowing and stakes of twenty thousand rubles. In the centre of the city at night prostitutes in jewels and expensive furs walked up and down, crowded the cafés.
Monarchist plots, German spies, smugglers hatching schemes.
And in the rain, the bitter chill, the great throbbing city under grey skies rushing faster and faster toward—what?
10. Appeals Against Insurrection
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.
11.Lenin’s “Letter To The Comrades” 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!”
12. Miliukov’s Speech (Resumé) “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 ré#233;gime. 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!”
13. Interview With Kerensky 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….