Red Letter
Daily Left Theory. 15 Minutes or Less. Refreshes at Midnight.
Ten Days that Shook the World: Chapter 11 (The Conquest of Power; 2 of 2)
by John Reed
1919
Estimated Reading Time: 12 min


Having settled the question of power, the Bolsheviki turned their attention to problems of practical administration. First of all the city, the country, Longer footnotes are located at the bottom of the page.

A Pood is thirty-six pounds.
the Army must be fed. Bands of sailors and Red Guards scoured the warehouses, the railway terminals, even the barges in the canals, unearthing and confiscating thousands of poods of food held by private speculators. Emissaries were sent to the provinces, where with the assistance of the Land Committees they seized the store-houses of the great grain-dealers. Expeditions of sailors, heavily armed, were sent out in groups of five thousand, to the South, to Siberia, with roving commissions to capture cities still held by the White Guards, establish order, and get food. Passenger traffic on the Trans-Siberian Railroad was suspended for two weeks, while thirteen trains, loaded with bolts of cloth and bars of iron assembled by the Factory-Shop Committees, were sent out eastward, each in charge of a Commissar, to barter with the Siberian peasants for grain and potatoes….

Kaledin being in possession of the coal-mines of the Don, the fuel question became urgent. Smolny shut off all electric lights in theatres, shops and restaurants, cut down the number of street cars, and confiscated the private stores of fire-wood held by the fuel-dealers…. And when the factories of Petrograd were about to close down for lack of coal, the sailors of the Baltic Fleet turned over to the workers two hundred thousand poods from the bunkers of battle-ships….

7. It was afterward discovered that there was a regular organisation, maintained by the Cadets, for provoking rioting among the soldiers. There would be telephone messages to the different barracks, announcing that wine was being given away at such and such an address, and when the soldiers arrived at the spot an individual would point out the location of the cellar...
The Council of People’s Commissars appointed a Commissar for the Fight Against Drunkenness, who, besides mercilessly putting down the wine riots, destroyed hundreds of thousands of bottles of liquor. The Winter Palace cellars, containing rare vintages valued at more than five million dollars, were at first flooded, and then the liquor was removed to Cronstadt and destroyed.
In this work the Cronstadt sailors, “flower and pride of the revolutionary forces,” as Trotzky called them, acquitted themselves with iron self-discipline….

Toward the end of November occurred the “wine-pogroms” 7—looting of the wine-cellars—beginning with the plundering of the Winter Palace vaults. For days there were drunken soldiers on the streets…. In all this was evident the hand of the counter-revolutionists, who distributed among the regiments plans showing the location of the stores of liquor. The Commissars of Smolny began by pleading and arguing, which did not stop the growing disorder, followed by pitched battles between soldiers and Red Guards…. Finally the Military Revolutionary Committee sent out companies of sailors with machine-guns, who fired mercilessly upon the rioters, killing many; and by executive order the wine-cellars were invaded by Committees with hatchets, who smashed the bottles—or blew them up with dynamite….

Companies of Red Guards, disciplined and well-paid, were on duty at the headquarters of the Ward Soviets day and night, replacing the old Militia. In all quarters of the city small elective Revolutionary Tribunals were set up by the workers and soldiers to deal with petty crime….

The great hotels, where the speculators still did a thriving business, were surrounded by Red Guards, and the speculators thrown into jail. 8

Alert and suspicious, the working-class of the city constituted itself a vast spy system, through the servants prying into bourgeois households, and reporting all information to the Military Revolutionary Committee, which struck with an iron hand, unceasing. In this way was discovered the Monarchist plot led by former Duma-member Purishkevitch and a group of nobles and officers, who had planned an officers’ uprising, and had written a letter inviting Kaledin to Petrograd. 9…. In this way was unearthed the conspiracy of the Petrograd Cadets, who were sending money and recruits to Kaledin….

Neratov, frightened at the outburst of popular fury provoked by his flight, returned and surrendered the Secret Treaties to Trotzky, who began their publication in Pravda, scandalising the world….

 

The restrictions on the Press were increased by a decree 10 making advertisements a monopoly of the official Government newspaper. At this all the other papers suspended publication as a protest, or disobeyed the law and were closed…. Only three weeks later did they finally submit.

Still the strike of the Ministries went on, still the sabotage of the old officials, the stoppage of normal economic life. Behind Smolny was only the will of the vast, unorganised popular masses; and with them the Council of People’s Commissars dealt, directing revolutionary mass-action against its enemies. In eloquent proclamations, 12 couched in simple words and spread over Russia, Lenin explained the Revolution, urged the people to take the power into their own hands, by force to break down the resistance of the propertied classes, by force to take over the institutions of Government. Revolutionary order. Revolutionary discipline! Strict accounting and control! No strikes! No loafing!

On the 20th of November the Military Revolutionary Committee issued a warning:

The rich classes oppose the power of the Soviets—the Government of workers, soldiers and peasants. Their sympathisers halt the work of the employees of the Government and the Duma, incite strikes in the banks, try to interrupt communication by the railways, the post and the telegraph….

We warn them that they are playing with fire. The country and the Army are threatened with famine. To fight against it, the regular functioning of all services is indispensable. The Workers’ and Peasants’ Government is taking every measure to assure the country and the Army all that is necessary. Opposition to these measures is a crime against the People. We warn the rich classes and their sympathisers that, if they do not cease their sabotage and their provocation in halting the transportation of food, they will be the first to suffer. They will be deprived of the right of receiving food. All the reserves which they possess will be requisitioned. The property of the principal criminals will be confiscated.

We have done our duty in warning those who play with fire.

We are convinced that in case decisive measures become necessary, we shall be solidly supported by all workers, soldiers, and peasants.

On the 22d of November the walls of the city were placarded with a sheet headed “EXTRAORDINARY COMMUNICATION”:

The Council of People’s Commissars has received an urgent telegram from the Staff of the Northern Front….

“There must be no further delay; do not let the Army die of hunger; the armies of the Northern Front have not received a crust of bread now for several days, and in two or three days they will not have any more biscuits—which are being doled out to them from reserve supplies until now never touched…. Already delegates from all parts of the Front are talking of a necessary removal of part of the Army to the rear, foreseeing that in a few days there will be headlong flight of the soldiers, dying from hunger, ravaged by the three years’ war in the trenches, sick, insufficiently clothed, bare-footed, driven mad by superhuman misery.”

The Military Revolutionary Committee brings this to the notice of the Petrograd garrison and the workers of Petrograd. The situation at the Front demands the most urgent and decisive measures. — Meanwhile the higher functionaries of the Government institutions, banks, railroads, post and telegraph, are on strike and impeding the work of the Government in supplying the Front with provisions…. Each hour of delay may cost the life of thousands of soldiers. The counter-revolutionary functionaries are the most dishonest criminals toward their hungry and dying brethren on the Front….

The Military Revolutionary Committee Gives These Criminals A Last Warning. In event of the least resistance or opposition on their part, the harshness of the measures which will be adopted against them will correspond to the seriousness of their crime….

The masses of workers and soldiers responded by a savage tremor of rage, which swept all Russia. In the capital the

Government and bank employees got out hundreds of proclamations and appeals14, protesting, defending themselves, such as this one:

To The Attention Of All Citizens.
The State Bank Is Closed!
WHY?

Because the violence exercised by the Bolsheviki against the State Bank has made it impossible for us to work. The first act of the People’s Commissars was to DEMAND TEN MILLION RUBLES, and on November 27th THEY DEMANDED TWENTY-FIVE MILLIONS, without any indication as to where this money was to go.

— We functionaries cannot take part in plundering the people’s property. We stopped work.

CITIZENS! The money in the State Bank is yours, the people’s money, acquired by your labour, your sweat and blood. CITIZENS! Save the people’s property from robbery, and us from violence, and we shall immediately resume work.

EMPLOYEES OF THE STATE BANK.

From the Ministry of Supplies, the Ministry of Finance, from the Special Supply Committee, declarations that the Military Revolutionary Committee made it impossible for the employees to work, appeals to the population to support them against Smolny…. But the dominant worker and soldier did not believe them; it was firmly fixed in the popular mind that the employees were sabotaging, starving the Army, starving the people…. In the long bread lines, which as formerly stood in the iron winter streets, it was not the Government which was blamed, as it had been under Kerensky, but the tchinovniki, the sabotageurs; for the Government was their Government, their Soviets—and the functionaries of the Ministries were against it….

At the centre of all this opposition was the Duma, and its militant organ, the Committee for Salvation, protesting against all the decrees of the Council of People’s Commissars, voting again and again not to recognise the Soviet Government, openly cooperating with the new counter-revolutionary “Governments” set up at Moghilev…. On the 17th of November, for example, the Committee for Salvation addressed “all Municipal Governments, Zemstvos, and all democratic and revolutionary organisations of peasants, workers, soldiers and other citizens,” in these words:

Do not recognise the Government of the Bolsheviki, and struggle against it.

Form local Committees for Salvation of Country and Revolution, who will unite all democratic forces, so as to aid the All-Russian Committee for Salvation in the tasks which it has set itself….

Meanwhile the elections for the Constituent Assembly in Petrograd 15 gave an enormous plurality to the Bolsheviki; so that even the Mensheviki Internationalists pointed out that the Duma ought to be re-elected, as it no longer represented the political composition of the Petrograd population…. At the same time floods of resolutions from workers’ organisations, from military units, even from the peasants in the surrounding country, poured in upon the Duma, calling it “counter-revolutionary, Kornilovitz,” and demanding that it resign. The last days of the Duma were stormy with the bitter demands of the Municipal workers for decent living wages, and the threat of strikes….

On the 23d a formal decree of the Military Revolutionary Committee dissolved the Committee for Salvation. On the 29th, the Council of People’s Commissars ordered the dissolution and re-election of the Petrograd City Duma:

In view of the fact that the Central Duma of Petrograd, elected September 2d, — has definitely lost the right to represent the population of Petrograd, being in complete disaccord with its state of mind and its aspirations — and in view of the fact that the personnel of the Duma majority, although having lost all political following, continues to make use of its prerogatives to resist in a counter-revolutionary manner the will of the workers, soldiers and peasants, to sabotage and obstruct the normal work of the Government—the Council of People’s Commissars considers it its duty to invite the population of the capital to pronounce judgment on the policy of the organ of Municipal autonomy.

To this end the Council of People’s Commissars resolves:

class="blockquote" (1) To dissolve the Municipal Duma; the dissolution to take effect November 30th, 1917.

(2) All functionaries elected or appointed by the present Duma shall remain at their posts and fulfil the duties confided to them, until their places shall be filled by representatives of the new Duma.

(3) All Municipal employees shall continue to fulfil their duties; those who leave the service of their own accord shall be considered discharged.

(4) The new elections for the Municipal Duma of Petrograd are fixed for December 9th, 1917….

(5) The Municipal Duma of Petrograd shall meet December 11th, 1917, at two o’clock.

(6) Those who disobey this decree, as well as those who intentionally harm or destroy the property of the Municipality, shall be immediately arrested and brought before the Revolutionary Tribunals….

The Duma met defiantly, passing resolutions to the effect that it would “defend its position to the last drop of its blood,” and appealing desperately to the population to save their “own elected City Government.” But the population remained indifferent or hostile. On the 31st Mayor Schreider and several members were arrested, interrogated, and released. That day and the next the Duma continued to meet, interrupted frequently by Red Guards and sailors, who politely requested the assembly to disperse. At the meeting of December 2d, an officer and some sailors entered the Nicolai Hall while a member was speaking, and ordered the members to leave, or force would be used. They did so, protesting to the last, but finally “ceding to violence.”

The new Duma, which was elected ten days later, and for which the “Moderate” Socialists refused to vote, was almost entirely Bolshevik….

There remained several centres of dangerous opposition, such as the “republics” of Ukraine and Finland, which were showing definitely anti-Soviet tendencies. Both at Helsingfors and at Kiev the Governments were gathering troops which could be depended upon, and entering upon campaigns of crushing Bolshevism, and of disarming and expelling Russian troops. The Ukrainean Rada had taken command of all southern Russia, and was furnishing Kaledin reinforcements and supplies. Both Finland and Ukraine were beginning secret negotiations with the Germans, and were promptly recognised by the Allied Governments, which loaned them huge sums of money, joining with the propertied classes to create counter-revolutionary centres of attack upon Soviet Russia. In the end, when Bolshevism had conquered in both these countries, the defeated bourgeoisie called in the Germans to restore them to power….

But the most formidable menace to the Soviet Government was internal and two-headed—the Kaledin movement, and the Staff at Moghilev, where General Dukhonin had assumed command.

Proclamation of the Commission of Public Education attached to the City Duma, concerning the strike of school-teachers, just before the Christmas holidays. The Duma had been re-elected, and was composed almost entirely of Bolsheviki. 17

The ubiquitous Muraviov was appointed commander of the war against the Cossacks, and a Red Army was recruited from among the factory workers. Hundreds of propagandists were sent to the Don. The Council of People’s Commissars issued a proclamation to the Cossacks,16 explaining what the Soviet Government was, how the propertied classes, the tchin ovniki, landlords, bankers and their allies, the Cossack princes, land-owners and Generals, were trying to destroy the Revolution,

and prevent the confiscation of their wealth by the people.

On November 27th a committee of Cossacks came to Smolny to see Trotzky and Lenin. They demanded if it were true that the Soviet Government did not intend to divide the Cossack lands among the peasants of Great Russia? “No,” answered Trotzky. The Cossacks deliberated for a while. “Well,” they asked, “does the Soviet Government intend to confiscate the estates of our great Cossack land-owners and divide them among the working Cossacks?” To this Lenin replied. “That,” he said, “is for you to do. We shall support the working Cossacks in all their actions…. The best way to begin is to form Cossacks Soviets; you will be given representation in the Tsay-ee-kah, and then it will be your Government, too….

The Cossacks departed, thinking hard. Two weeks later General Kaledin received a deputation from his troops. “Will you,” they asked, “promise to divide the great estates of the Cossack landlords among the working Cossacks?”

“Only over my dead body,” responded Kaledin. A month later, seeing his army melt away before his eyes, Kaledin blew out his brains. And the Cossack movement was no more….

Meanwhile at Moghilev were gathered the old Tsay-ee-kah the “moderate” Socialist leaders—from Avksentiev to Tchernov—the active chiefs of the old Army Committees, and the reactionary officers. The Staff steadily refused to recognise the Council of People’s Commissars. It had united about it the Death Battalions, the Knights of St. George, and the Cossacks of the Front, and was in close and secret touch with the Allied military attachès, and with the Kaledin movement and the Ukrainean Rada….

The Allied Governments had made no reply to the Peace decree of November 8th, in which the Congress of Soviets had asked for a general armistice.

18. Diplomatic Correspondence Of The Soviet Government
The notes issued by Trotzky to the Allies and to the neutral powers, as well as the note of the Allied military Attachés to General Dukhonin, are too voluminous to give here. Moreover they belong to another phase of the history of the Soviet Republic, with which this book has nothing to do—the foreign relations of the Soviet Government. This I treat at length in the next volume, “Kornilov to Brest-Litovsk.”

On November 20th Trotzky addressed a note to the Allied Ambassadors: 18

I have the honour to inform you, Mr. Ambassador, that the All-Russian Congress of Soviets— on November 8th constituted a new Government of the Russian Republic, in the form of the Council of People’s Commissars. The President of this Government is Vladimir Ilyitch Lenin. The direction of Foreign Affairs has been entrusted to me, People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs….

In drawing your attention to the text, approved by the All-Russian Congress, of the proposition for an armistice and a democratic peace without annexations or indemnities, based on the right of self-determination of peoples, I have the honour to request you to consider that document as a formal proposal of an immediate armistice on all fronts, and the opening of immediate peace negotiations; a proposal which the authorised Government of the Russian Republic addresses at the same time to all the belligerent peoples and their Governments.

Please accept, Mr. Ambassador, the profound assurance of the esteem of the Soviet Government toward your people, who cannot but wish for peace, like all the other peoples exhausted and drained by this unexampled butchery….

The same night the Council of People’s Commissars telegraphed to General Dukhonin:

— The Council of People’s Commissars considers it indispensable without delay to make a formal proposal of armistice to all the powers, both enemy and Allied. A declaration conforming to this decision has been sent by the Commissar for Foreign Affairs to the representatives of the Allied powers at Petrograd.

The Council of People’s Commissars orders you, Citizen Commander,— to propose to the enemy military authorities immediately to cease hostilities, and enter into negotiations for peace.

In charging you with the conduct of these preliminary pourparlers, the Council of People’s Commissars orders you:

1. To inform the Council by direct wire immediately of any and all steps in the pourparlers with the representatives of the enemy armies.

2. Not to sign the act of armistice until it has been passed upon by the Council of People’s Commissars.

The Allied Ambassadors received Trotzky’s note with contemptuous silence, accompanied by anonymous interviews in the newspapers, full of spite and ridicule. The order to Dukhonin was characterised openly as an act of treason….

As for Dukhonin, he gave no sign. On the night of November 22nd he was communicated with by telephone, and asked if he intended to obey the order. Dukhonin answered that he could not, unless it emanated from “a Government sustained by the Army and the country.”

By telegraph he was immediately dismissed from the post of Supreme Commander, and Krylenko appointed in his place. Following his tactics of appealing to the masses, Lenin sent a radio to all regimental, divisional and corps Committees, to all soldiers and sailors of the Army and the Fleet, acquainting them with Dukhonin’s refusal, and ordering that “the regiments on the front shall elect delegates to begin negotiations with the enemy detachments opposite their positions….”

On the 23d, the military attaches of the Allied nations, acting on instructions from their Governments, presented a note to Dukhonin, in which he was solemnly warned not to “violate the conditions of the treaties concluded between the Powers of the Entente.” The note went on to say that if a separate armistice with Germany were concluded, that act “would result in the most serious consequences” to Russia. This communication Dukhonin at once sent out to all the soldiers’ Committees….

Next morning Trotzky made another appeal to the troops, characterising the note of the Allied representatives as a flagrant interference in the internal affairs of Russia, and a bald attempt “to force by threats the Russian Army and the Russian people to continue the war in execution of the treaties concluded by the Tsar….”

20. From Krylenko

Order Number Two


“&… The ex-Supreme Commander, General Dukhonin, for having opposed resistance to the execution of orders, for criminal action susceptible of provoking a new civil war, is declared enemy of the People. All persons who support Dukhonin will be arrested, without respect to their social or political position or their past. Persons equipped with special authority will operate these arrests. I charge General Manikhovsky with the execution of the above-mentioned dispositions….”

From Smolny poured out proclamation after proclamation, 19 denouncing Dukhonin and the counter-revolutionary officers about him, denouncing the reactionary politicians gathered at Moghilev, rousing, from one end of the thousand-mile Front to the other, millions of angry, suspicious soldiers. And at the same time Krylenko, accompanied by three detachments of fanatical sailors, set out for the Stavka, breathing threats of vengeance, 20 and received by the soldiers everywhere with tremendous ovations—a triumphal progress. The Central Army Committee issued a declaration in favour of Dukhonin; and at once ten thousand troops moved upon Moghilev….

On December 2d the garrison of Moghilev rose and seized the city, arresting Dukhonin and the Army Committee, and going out with victorious red banners to meet the new Supreme Commander. Krylenko entered Moghilev next morning, to find a howling mob gathered about the railway-car in which Dukhonin had been imprisoned. Krylenko made a speech in which he implored the soldiers not to harm Dukhonin, as he was to be taken to Petrograd and judged by the Revolutionary Tribunal. When he had finished, suddenly Dukhonin himself appeared at the window, as if to address the throng. But with a savage roar the people rushed the car, and falling upon the old General, dragged him out and beat him to death on the platform….

So ended the revolt of the Stavka….

Immensely strengthened by the collapse of the last important stronghold of hostile military power in Russia, the Soviet Government began with confidence the organisation of the state. Many of the old functionaries flocked to its banner, and many members of other parties entered the Government service. The financially ambitious, however, were checked by the decree on Salaries of Government Employees, fixing the salaries of the People’s Commissars—the highest—at five hundred rubles (about fifty dollars) a month…. The strike of Government Employees, led by the Union of Unions, collapsed, deserted by the financial and commercial interests which had been backing it. The bank clerks returned to their jobs….

With the decree on the Nationalisation of Banks, the formation of the Supreme Council of People’s Economy, the putting into practical operation of the Land decree in the villages, the democratic reorganisation of the Army, and the sweeping changes in all branches of the Government and of life,—with all these, effective only by the will of the masses of workers, soldiers and peasants, slowly began, with many mistakes and hitches, the moulding of proletarian Russia.

Not by compromise with the propertied classes, or with the other political leaders; not by conciliating the old Government mechanism, did the Bolsheviki conquer the power. Nor by the organized violence of a small clique. If the masses all over Russia had not been ready for insurrection it must have failed. The only reason for Bolshevik success lay in their accomplishing the vast and simple desires of the most profound strata of the people, calling them to the work of tearing down and destroying the old, and afterward, in the smoke of falling ruins, cooperating with them to erect the frame-work of the new….


6. On The Question Of An Agreement

To the Attention of All Workers and All Soldiers.

November 11th, in the club of the Preobrazhensky Regiment, was held an extraordinary meeting of representatives of all the units of the Petrograd garrison.

The meeting was called upon the initiative of the Preobrazhensky and Semionovsky Regiments, for the discussion of the question as to which Socialist parties are for the power of the Soviets, which are against, which are for the people, which against, and if an agreement between them is possible.

The representatives of the Tsay-ee-kah, of the Municipal Duma, of the Avksentiev Peasants’ Soviets, and of all the political parties from the Bolsheviki to the Populist Socialists, were invited to the meeting.

After long deliberation, having heard the declarations of all parties and organisations, the meeting by a tremendous majority of votes agreed that only the Bolsheviki and the Left Socialist Revolutionaries are for the people, and that all the other parties are only attempting, under cover of seeking an agreement, to deprive the people of the conquests won in the days of the great Workers’ and Peasants’ Revolution of November.

Here is the text of the resolution carried at this meeting of the Petrograd garrison, by 61 votes against 11, and 12 not voting:

“The garrison conference, summoned at the initiative of the Semionovsky and Preobrazhensky Regiments, on hearing the representatives of all the Socialist parties and popular organisations on the question of an agreement between the different political parties finds that:

“1. The representatives of the Tasy-ee-kah, the representatives of the Bolshevik party and the Left Socialist Revolutionaries, declared definitely that they stand for a Government of the Soviets, for the decrees on Land, Peace and Workers’ Control of Industry, and that upon this platform they are willing to agree with all the Socialist parties.

“2. At the same time the representatives of the other parties (Mensheviki, Socialist Revolutionaries) either gave no answer at all, or declared simply that they were opposed to the power of the Soviets and against the decrees on Land, Peace and Workers’ Control.

“In view of this the meeting resolves:

“1. To express severe censure of all parties which, under cover of an agreement, wish practically to annul the popular conquests of the Revolution of November.

“2. To express full confidence in the Tsay-ee-kah and the Council of People’s Commissars, and to promise them complete support.’

“At the same time the meeting deems it necessary that the comrades Left Socialist Revolutionaries should enter the People’s Government.”

8. SpeculatorsTwo orders concerning them:

Council of People’s Commissars

To the Military Revolutionary Committee

The disorganisation of the food supply created by the war, and the lack of system, is becoming to the last degree acute, thanks to the speculators, marauders and their followers on the railways, in the steamship offices, forwarding offices, etc.

Taking advantage of the nation’s greatest misfortunes, these criminal spoliators are playing with the health and life of millions of soldiers and workers, for their own benefit.

Such a situation cannot be borne a single day longer.

The Council of People’s Commissars proposes to the Military Revolutionary Committee to take the most decisive measures towards the uprooting of speculation, sabotage, hiding of supplies, fraudulent detention of cargoes, etc.

All persons guilty of such actions shall be subject, by special orders of the Military Revolutionary Committee, to immediate arrest and confinement in the prisons of Cronstadt, pending their arraignment before the Revolutionary Tribunal.

All the popular organisations are invited to cooperate in the struggle against the spoliators of food supplies.

President of the Council of People’s Commissaries.
V. Ulianov (Lenin)

Accepted for execution, Military Revolutionary Committee attached to the C. E. C. of the Soviets of W. & S. Deputies.

Petrograd, Nov. 23d, 1917.

To All Honest Citizens

The Military Revolutionary Committee Decrees:

Spoliators, marauders, speculators, are declared to be enemies of the People….

The Military Revolutionary Committee proposes to all public organisations, to all honest citizens: to inform the Military Revolutionary Committee immediately of all cases of spoliation, marauding, speculation, which become known to them.

The struggle against this evil is the business of all honest people. The Military Revolutionary Committee expects the support of all to whom the interests of the People are dear.

The Military Revolutionary Committee will be merciless in pursuit of speculators and marauders.

The Military Revolutionary Committee
Petrograd, Dec. 2d, 1917.

9. Purishkevitch’S Letter To Kaledin “The situation at Petrograd is desperate. The city is cut off from the outside world and is entirely in the power of the Bolsheviki…. People are arrested in the streets, thrown into the Neva, drowned and imprisoned without any charge. Even Burtzev is shut up in Peter-Paul fortress, under strict guard.

“The organisation at whose head I am is working without rest to unite all the officers and what is left of the yunker schools, and to arm them. The situation cannot be saved except by creating regiments of officers and yunkers. Attacking with these regiments, and having gained a first success, we could later gain the aid of the garrison troops; but without that first success it is impossible to count on a single soldier, because thousands of them are divided and terrorised by the scum which exists in every regiment. Most of the Cossacks are tainted by Bolshevik propaganda, thanks to the strange policy of General Dutov, who allowed to pass the moment when by decisive action something could have been obtained. The policy of negotiations and concessions has borne its fruits; all that is respectable is persecuted, and it is the plebe and the criminals who dominate—and nothing can be done except by shooting and hanging them.

“We are awaiting you here, General, and at the moment of your arrival, we shall advance with all the forces at our disposal. But for that we must establish some communication with you, and before all, clear up the following points:

“(1) Do you know that in your name all officers who could take part in the fight are being invited to leave Petrograd on the pretext of joining you?

“(2) About when can we count on your arrival at Petrograd? We should like to know in order to coordinate our actions.

“In spite of the criminal inaction of the conscious people here, which allowed the yoke of Bolshevism to be laid upon us—in spite of the extraordinary pig—headedness of the majority of officers, so difficult to organise— we believe in spite of all that Truth is on our side, and that we shall conquer the vicious and criminal forces who say that they are acting for motives of love of country and in order to save it. Whatever comes, we shall not permit ourselves to be struck down, and shall remain firm until the end.”

Purishkevitch, being brought to trial before the Revolutionary Tribunal, was given a short prison term….

 10. Decree On The Monopoly Of Advertisements 1. The printing of advertisements, in newspapers, books, bill-boards, kiosks, in offices and other establishments is declared to be a State monopoly.

2. Advertisements may only be published in the organs of the Provisional Workers’ and Peasants’ Government at Petrograd, and in the organs of local Soviets.

3. The proprietors of newspapers and advertising offices, as well as all employees of such establishments, should remain at their posts until the transfer of the advertisement business to the Government…. superintending the uninterrupted continuation of their houses, and turning over to the Soviets all private advertising and the sums received therefor, as well as all accounts and copy.

4. All managers of publications and businesses dealing with paid advertising, as well as their employees and workers, shall agree to hold a City Congress, and to join, first the City Trade Unions, and then the All-Russian Unions, to organise more thoroughly and justly the advertising business in the Soviet publications, as well as to prepare better rules for the public utility of advertising.

5. All persons found guilty of having concealed documents or money, or having sabotaged the regulations indicated in paragraphs 3 and 4, will be punished by a sentence of not more than three years’ imprisonment, and all their property will be confiscated.

6. The paid insertion of advertisements…. in private publications, or under a masqued form, will also be severely penalised.

7. Advertising offices are confiscated by the Government, the owners being entitled to compensation in cases of necessity. Small proprietors, depositors and stock-holders of the confiscated establishments will be reimbursed for all moneys held by them in the concern.

8. All buildings, officers, counters, and in general every establishment doing a business in advertising, should immediately inform the Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies of its address, and proceed to the transfer of its business, under penalty of the punishment indicated in paragraph 5.

President of the Council of People’s Commissars,
V. I. Ulianov (Lenin)

People’s Commissar for Public Instruction,
A. V. Lunatcharsky

Secretary of the Council,
N. Gorbunov

11. Obligatory Ordinance

1. The city of Petrograd is declared to be in a state of siege.

2. All assemblies, meetings and congregations on the streets and squares are prohibited.

3. Attempts to loot wine-cellars, warehouses, factories, stores, business premises, private dwellings, etc., etc., will be stopped by machine-gun fire without warning.

4. House Committees, doormen, janitors and Militiamen are charged with the duty of keeping strict order in all houses, courtyards and in the streets, and house-doors and carriage-entrances must be locked at 9 o’clock in the evening, and opened at 7 o’clock in the morning. After 9 o’clock in the evening only tenants may leave the house, under strict control of the House Committees.

5. Those guilty of the distribution, sale or purchase of any kind of alcoholic liquor, and also those guilty of the violation of sections 2 and 4, will be immediately arrested and subjected to the most severe punishment.

Petrograd, 6th of December, 3 o’clock in the night.

Committee to Fight Against Pogroms, attached to the Executive Committee of the Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies.

12. Two Proclamations

Lenin, To the People of Russia:

“Comrades workers, soldiers, peasants—all toilers!

“The Workers’ and Peasants’ Revolution has won at Petrograd, at Moscow…. From the Front and the villages arrive every day, every hour, greetings to the new Government…. The victory of the Revolution…. is assured, seeing that it is sustained by the majority of the people.

“It is entirely understandable that the proprietors and the capitalists, the employees and functionaries closely allied with the bourgeoisic—in a word, all the rich and all those who join hands with them—regard the new Revolution with hostility, oppose its success, threaten to halt the activity of the banks, and sabotage or obstruct the work of other establishments…. Every conscious worker understands perfectly that we cannot avoid this hostility, because the high officials have set themselves against the People and do not wish to abandon their posts without resistance. But the working classes are not for one moment afraid of that resistance. The majority of the people are for us. For us are the majority of the workers and the oppressed of the whole world. We have justice on our side. Our ultimate victory is certain.

“The resistance of the capitalists and high officials will be broken. No one will be deprived of his property without a special law on the nationalisation of banks and financial syndicates. This law is in preparation. Not a worker will lose a single kopek; on the contrary, he will be assisted. Without at this moment establishing the new taxes, the new Government considers one of its primary duties to make a severe accounting and control on the reception of taxes decreed by the former régime….

“Comrades workers! Remember that you yourselves direct the Government. No one will help you unless you organise yourselves and take into your own hands the affairs of the State. Your Soviets are now the organs of governmental power…. Strengthen them, establish a severe revolutionary control, pitilessly crush the attempts at anarchy on the part of drunkards, brigands, counter-revolutionary yunkers and Kornilovists.

“Establish a strict control over production and the accounting for products. Arrest and turn over to the Revolutionary Tribunal of the People every one who injures the property of the People, by sabotage in production, by concealment of grain-reserves, reserves of other products, by retarding the shipments of grain, by bringing confusion into the railroads, the posts and the telegraphs, or in general opposing the great work of bringing Peace and transferring the Land to the peasants….

“Comrades workers, soldiers, peasants—all toilers!

“Take immediately all local power into your hands…. Little by little, with the consent of the majority of peasants, we shall march firmly and unhesitatingly toward the victory of Socialism, which will fortify the advance-guards of the working-class of the most civilised Countries, and give to the peoples an enduring peace, and free them from every slavery and every exploitation.”

13. “To All Workers of Petrograd! “Comrades! The Revolution is winning—the revolution has won. All the power has passed over to our Soviets. The first weeks are the most difficult ones. The broken reaction must be finally crushed, a full triumph must be secured to our endeavours. The working-class ought to—must—show in these days The Greatest Firmness And Endurance, in order to facilitate the execution of all the aims of the new People’s Government of Soviets. In the next few days decrees on the Labour question will be issued, and among the very first will be the decree on Workers’ Control over the production and regulation of Industry.

Strikes And Demonstrations Of The Worker Masses In Petrograd Now Can Only Do Harm.

“We ask you to cease immediately all economic and political strikes, to take up your work, and do it in perfect order. The work in the factories and all the industries is necessary for the new Government of Soviets, because any interruption of this work will only create new difficulties for us, and we have enough as it is. All to your places.

“The best way to support the new Government of Soviets in these days—is by doing your job.

“Long Live The Iron Firmness Of The Proletariat! Long Live The Revolution!”

Petrograd Soviet of W. & S. D.
Petrograd Council of Trade Unions.
Petrograd Council of Factory-Shop Committees.

14. Appeals And Counter-Appeals From the Employees of the State and private Banks To the Population of Petrograd:

“Comrades workers, soldiers and citizens!

“The Military Revolutionary Committee in an extraordinary notice’ is accusing the workers of the State and private banking and other institutions of impeding the work of the Government, directed towards the ensuring of the Front with provisions.’

“Comrades and citizens, do not believe this calumny, brought against us, who are part of the general army of labour.

“However difficult it be for us to work under the constant threat of interference by acts of violence in our hard-working life, however depressing it be to know that our Country and the Revolution are on the verge of ruin, we, nevertheless, all of us, from the highest to the lowest, employees, artelshtchiki, counters, labourers, couriers, etc., are continuing to fulfil our duties which are connected with the ensuring of provisions and munitions to the Front and country.

“Counting upon your lack of information, comrades workers and soldiers, in questions of finance and banking, you are being incited against workers like yourselves, because it is desirable to divert the responsibility for the starving and dying brother-soldiers at the Front from the guilty persons to the innocent workers who are accomplishing their duty under the burden of general poverty and disorganisation.

“Remember, Workers And Soldiers! The Employees Have Always Stood Up For And Will Always Stand Up For The Interests Of The Toiling People, Part Of Which They Are Themselves, And Not A Single Kopek Necessary For The Front And The Workers Has Ever Been Detained And Will Not Be Detained By The Employees.

“From November 6th to November 23d, i.e., during 17 days, 500 million rubles were dispatched to the Front, and 120 millions to Moscow, besides the sums sent to other towns.

“Keeping guard over the wealth of the people, the master of which can be only the Constituent Assembly, representing the whole nation, the employees refuse to give out money for purposes which are unknown to them.

“Do Not Believe The Calumniators Calling You To Take The Law Into Your Own Hands!”

Central Board of the All-Russian Union of Employees of the State Bank.

Central Board of the All-Russian Trade Union of Employees of Credit Institutions.

To the Population of Petrograd.

“CITIZENS: Do not believe the falsehood which irresponsible people are trying to suggest to you by spreading terrible calumnies against the employees of the Ministry of Supplies and the workers in other Supply organisations who are labouring in these dark days for the salvation of Russia. Citizens! In posted placards you are called upon to lynch us, we are accused falsely of sabotage and strikes, we are blamed for all the woes and misfortunes that the people are suffering, although we have been striving indefatigably and uninterruptedly, and are still striving, to save the Russian people from the horrors of starvation. Notwithstanding all that we are bearing as citizens of unhappy Russia, we have not for one hour abandoned our heavy and responsible work of supplying the Army and population with provisions.

“The image of the Army, cold and hungry, saving our very existence by its blood and its tortures, does not leave us for a single moment.

“Citizens! If we have survived the blackest days in the life and history of our people, if we have succeeded in preventing famine in Petrograd, if we have managed to procure to the suffering army bread and forage by means of enormous, almost superhuman, efforts, it is because we have honestly continued and are still continuing to do our work….

“To the last warning’ of the usurpers of the power we reply: It is not for you who are leading the country to ruin to threaten us who are doing all we can not to allow the country to perish. We are not afraid of threats; before us stands the sacred image of tortured Russia. We will continue our work of supplying the Army and the people with bread to our last efforts, so long as you will not prevent us from accomplishing our duty to our country. In the contrary case the Army and the people will stand before the horrors of famine, but the responsibility therefor belongs to the perpetrators of violence.

Executive Committee of the Employees of the Ministry of Supplies.

To the Tchinovniki (Government Officials).

It is notified hereby, that all officials and persons who have quitted the service in Government and public institutions or have been dismissed for sabotage or for having failed to report for work on the day fixed, and who have nevertheless received their salary paid in advance for the time they have not served, are bound to return such salary not later than on November 27th, 1917, to those institutions where they were in service.

In the event of this not being done, these persons will be rendered answerable for stealing the Treasury’s property and tried by the Military Revolutionary Court.

The Military-Revolutionary Committee.

December 7th, 1917.

From the Special Board for the Supplies

Citizens

“The conditions of our work for the supplying of Petrograd are getting more and more difficult every day.

“The interference with our work—which is so ruinous to our business—of the Commissars of the Military Revolutionary Committee is still continuing.

Their Arbitrary Acts, their annulling of our orders, May Lead To A Catastrophe.

“Seals have been affixed to one of the cold storages where the meat and butter destined for the population are kept, and we cannot regulate the temperature So that the products would not be spoilt.

“One carload of potatoes and one carload of cabbages have been seized and carried away no one knows where to.

“Cargoes which are not liable to requisition (khalva) are requisitioned by the Commissars and, as was the case one day, five boxes of khalva were seized by the Commissar for his own use.

We Are Not In A Position To Dispose Of Our Storages, where the selfappointed Commissars do not allow the cargoes to be taken out, and terrorise our employees, threatening them with arrest.

All That Is Going On In Petrograd Is Known In The Provinces, And From The Don, From Siberia, From Voronezh And Other Places People Are Refusing To Send Flour And Bread.

;This Cannot Go On Much Longer.

“The work is simply falling out of our hands.

Our Duty is to let the population know of this.

“To the last possibility we will remain on guard of the interests of the population.

We Will Do Everything To Avoid The Oncoming Famine, But If Under These Difficult Conditions Our Work Is Compelled To Stop, Let The People Know That It Is Not Our Fault….”

15. Elections To The Constituent Assembly In Petrograd There were nineteen tickets in Petrograd. The results are as follows, published November 30th:

PartyVote
Populist Socialists19,109
Cadets245,006
Christian Democrats3,707
Bolsheviki424,027
Socialist Universalists158
S. D. and S. R. Ukrainean and Jewish Workers4,219
League of Women’s Rights5,310
Socialist Revolutionaries (oborontsi)4,696
Left Socialist Revolutionaries152,230
League of the People’s Development385
Radical Democrats413
Orthodox Parishes24,139
Feminine League for Salvation of Country318
Independent League of Workers, Soldiers, Peasants4,942
Christian Democrats (Catholic)14,382
Unified Social Democrats11,740
Mensheviki17,427
Yedinstvo group1,823
League of Cossack Troops6,712

16. From The Council Of People’S Commissars To The Toiling Cossacks “Brothers-Cossacks:

“You are being deceived. You are being incited against the People. You are told that the Soviets of Workers’, Soldiers’ and Peasants’ Deputies are your enemies, that they want to take away your Cossack land, your Cossack liberty’. Don’t believe it, Cossacks…. Your own Generals and landowners are deceiving you, in order to keep you in darkness and slavery. We, the Council of People’s Commissars, address ourselves to you, Cossacks, with these words. Read them attentively and judge yourselves which is the truth and which is cruel deceit. The life and service of a Cossack were always bondage and penal servitude. At the first call of the authorities a Cossack always had to saddle his horse and ride out on campaign. All his military equipment a Cossack had to provide with his own hardly earned means. A Cossack is on service, his farm is going to rack and ruin. Is such a condition fair? No, it must be altered for ever. THE COSSACKS MUST BE FREED FROM BONDAGE. The new People’s Soviet power is willing to come to the assistance of the toiling Cossacks. It is only necessary that the Cossacks themselves should resolve to abolish the old order, that they should refuse submission to their slave-driver officers, land-owners, rich men, that they should throw off the cursed yoke from their necks. Arise, Cossacks! Unite! The Council of People’s Commissars calls upon you to enter a new, fresh, more happy life.

“In November and December in Petrograd there were All-Russian Congresses of Soviets of Soldiers’, Workers’, and Peasants’ Deputies. These Congresses transferred all the authority in the different localities into the hands of the Soviets, i.e., into the hands of men elected by the People. From now on there must be in Russia no rulers or functionaries who command the People from above and drive them. The People create the authority themselves. A General has no more rights than a soldier. All are equal. Consider, Cossacks, is this wrong or right? We are calling upon you, Cossacks, to join this new order and to create your own Soviets of Cossacks’ Deputies. To such Soviets all the power must belong in the different localities. Not to hetmans with the rank of General, but to the elected representatives of the toiling Cossacks, to your own trustworthy reliable men.

“The All-Russian Congresses of Soldiers’, Workers’, and Peasants’ Deputies have passed a resolution to transfer all landowners’ land into the possession of the toiling people. Is not that fair, Cossacks? The Kornilovs, Kaledins, Dutovs, Karaulovs, Bardizhes, all defend with their whole souls the interests of the rich men, and they are ready to drown Russia in blood if only the lands remain in the hands of the landowners. But you, the toiling Cossacks, do not you suffer yourselves from poverty, oppression and lack of land? How many Cossacks are there who have more than 4-5 dessiatins per head? But the landowners, who have thousands of dessiatins of their own land, wish besides to get into their hands the lands of the Cossack Army. According to the new Soviet laws, the lands of Cossack landowners must pass without compensation into the hands of the Cossack workers, the poorer Cossacks. You are being told that the Soviets wish to take away your lands from you. Who is frightening you? The rich Cossacks, who know that the Soviet AUTHORITY WISHES TO transfer the landowners’ lands to you. Choose then, Cossacks, for whom will you stand: for the Kornilovs and Kaledins, for the Generals and rich men, or for the Soviets of Peasants’, Soldiers’, Workers’ and Cossacks’ Deputies.

The Council Of People’S Commissars Elected By The All-Russian Congress Has Proposed To All Nations An Immediate Armistice And An Honourable Democratic Peace Without Loss Or Detriment To Any Nation. All the capitalists, landowners, Generals-Kornilovists have risen against the peaceful policy of the Soviets. The war was bringing them profits, power, distinctions. And to you, Cossack privates? You were perishing without reason, without purpose, like your brothers-soldiers and sailors. It will soon be three years and a half that this accursed war has gone on, a war devised by the capitalists and landowners of all countries for their own profit, their world robberies. To the toiling Cossacks the war has only brought ruin and death. The war has drained all the resources from Cossack farm life. The only salvation for the whole of our country and for the Cossacks in particular is a prompt and honest peace. The Council of People’s Commissars has declared to all Governments and peoples: We do not want other people’s property, and we do not wish to give away our own. Peace without annexations and without indemnities. Every nation must decide its own fate. There must be no oppressing of one nation by another. Such is the honest, democratic, People’s peace which the Council of People’s Commissars is proposing to all Governments, to all peoples, allies and enemies. And the results are visible: On The Russian Front An Armistice Has Been Concluded.

“The soldier’s and the Cossack’s blood is not flowing there any more. Now, Cossacks, decide: do you wish to continue this ruinous, senseless, criminal slaughter? Then support the Cadets, the enemies of the people, support Tchernov, Tseretelli, Skobeliev, who drove you into the offensive of July 1st; support Kornilov, who introduced capital punishment for soldiers and Cossacks at the front. But If You Wish A Prompt And Honest Peace, Then Enter The Ranks Of The Soviets And Support The Council Of People’S Commissars.

“Your fate, Cossacks, lies in your own hands. Our common foes, the landowners, capitalists, officers-Kornilovists, bourgeois newspapers, are deceiving you and driving you along the road to ruin. In Orenburg, Dutov has arrested the Soviet and disarmed the garrison. Kaledin is threatening the Soviets in the province of the Don. He has declared the province to be in a state of war and is assembling his troops. Karaulov is shooting the local tribes in the Caucasus. The Cadet bourgeoisie is supplying them with its millions. Their common aim is to suppress the People’s Soviets, to crush the workers and peasants, to introduce again the discipline of the whip in the army, and to eternalise the bondage of the toiling Cossacks.

“Our revolutionary troops are moving to the Don and the Ural in order to put an end to this criminal revolt against the people. The commanders of the revolutionary troops have received orders not to enter into any negotiations with the mutinous Generals, to act decisively and mercilessly.

“Cossacks! On you depends now whether your brothers’ blood is to flow still. We are holding out our hand to you. Join the whole people against its enemies. Declare Kaledin, Kornilov, Dutov, Karaulov and all their aiders and abettors to be the enemies of the people, traitors and betrayers. Arrest them with your own forces and turn them over into the hands of the Soviet authority, which will judge them in open and public Revolutionary Tribunal. Cossacks! Form Soviets of Cossacks’ Deputies. Take into your toil-worn hands the management of all the affairs of the Cossacks. Take away the lands of your own wealthy landowners. Take over their grain, their inventoried property and live-stock for the cultivation of the lands of the toiling Cossacks, who are ruined by the war.

“Forward, Cossacks, to the fight for the common cause of the people!

“Long live the toiling Cossacks!

“Long live the union of the Cossacks, the soldiers, peasants and workers!

“Long live the power of the Soviets of Cossacks’, Soldiers’, Workers’ and Peasants’ Deputies.

“Down with the war! Down with the landowners and the Kornilovist-Generals!

“Long live Peace and the Brotherhood of peoples!”

Council of People’s Commissars.

17. From The Commission On Public Education Attached To The Centralv City Duma “Comrades Workingmen and Workingwomen!

“A few days before the holidays, a strike has been declared by the teachers of the public schools. The teachers side with the bourgeoisie against the Workers’ and Peasants’ Government.

“Comrades, organise parents’ committees and pass resolutions against the strike of the teachers. Propose to the Ward Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies, the Trade Unions, the Factory-Shop and Party Committees, to organise protest meetings. Arrange with your own resources Christmas trees and entertainments for the children, and demand the opening of the schools, after the holidays, at the date which will be set by the Duma.

“Comrades, strengthen your position in matters of public education, insist on the control of the proletarian organisations over the schools.”

Commission on Public Education attached to the Central City Duma.

19. Appeals To The Front Against Dukhonin “&… The struggle for peace has met with the resistance of the bourgeoisie and the counter-revolutionary Generals…. From the accounts in the newspapers, at the Stavka of former Supreme Commander Dukhonin are gathering the agents and allies of the bourgeoisie, Verkhovski, Avksentiev, Tchernov, Gotz, Tseretelli, etc. It seems even that they want to form a new power against the Soviets.

“Comrades soldiers! All the persons we have mentioned have been Ministers already. They have acted in accord with Kerensky and the bourgeoisie. They are responsible for the offensive of July 1st and for the prolongation of the war. They promised the land to the peasants and then arrested the Land Committees. They reestablished capital punishment for soldiers. They obey the orders of French, English and American financiers….

“General Dukhonin, for having refused to obey orders of the Council of People’s Commissars, has been dismissed from his position as Supreme Commander…. For answer he is circulating among the troops the note from the Military Attachés of the Allied imperialist Powers, and attempting to provoke a counter-revolution….

“Do not obey Dukhonin! Pay no attention to his provocation! Watch him and his group of counter-revolutionary Generals carefully….”

 
The Conquest of Power
Communism Is How We Forcibly Break Apart the Organized Power of the Capitalist Class
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