IN the relations of a weak Government and a rebellious people there comes a time when every act of the authorities exasperates the masses, and every refusal to act excites their contempt.
The proposal to abandon Petrograd raised a hurricane; Kerensky’s public denial that the Government had any such intention was met with hoots of derision.
Pinned to the wall by the pressure of the Revolution (cried Rabotchi Put), the Government of “provisional” bourgeois tries to get free by giving out lying assurances that it never thought of fleeing from Petrograd, and that it didn’t wish to surrender the capital.
In Kharkov thirty thousand coal miners organised, adopting the preamble of the I.W.W. constitution: “The working class and the employing class have nothing in common.” Dispersed by Cossacks, some were locked out by the mine-owners, and the rest declared a general strike. Minister of Commerce and Industry Konovalov appointed his assistant, Orlov, with plenary powers, to settle the trouble. Orlov was hated by the miners. But the Tsay-ee-kah not only supported his appointment, but refused to demand that the Cossacks be recalled from the Don Basin.
This was followed by the dispersal of the Soviet at Kaluga. The Bolsheviki, having secured a majority in the Soviet, set free some political prisoners. With the sanction of the Government Commissar the Municipal Duma called in troops from Minsk, and bombarded the Soviet headquarters with artillery. The Bolsheviki yielded, but as they left the building Cossacks attacked them, crying, “This is what we’ll do to all the other Bolshevik Soviets, including those of Moscow and Petrograd!” This incident sent a wave of panic rage throughout Russia.1. See reference in Chapter II
2. The organisation of Workers’ Control is a manifestation of the same healthy activity in the sphere of industrial production, as are party organisations in the sphere of politics, trade unions in employment, Cooperatives in the domain of consumption, and literary clubs in the sphere of culture.
3. The working-class has much more interest in the proper and uninterrupted operation of factories&… than the capitalist class. Workers’ Control is a better security in this respect for the interests of modern society, of the whole people, than the arbitrary will of the owners, who are guided only by their selfish desire for material profits or political privileges. Therefore Workers’ Control is demanded by the proletariat not only in their own interest, but in the interest of the whole country, and should be supported by the revolutionary peasantry as well as the revolutionary Army.
4. Considering the hostile attitude of the majority of the capitalist class toward the Revolution, experience shows that proper distribution of raw materials and fuel, as well as the most efficient management of factories, is impossible without Workers’ Control.
5. Only Workers’ Control over capitalist enterprises, cultivating the workers’ conscious attitude toward work, and making clear its social meaning, can create conditions favourable to the development of a firm self-discipline in labour, and the development of all labour’s possible productivity.
6. The impending transformation of industry from a war to a peace basis, and the redistribution of labour all over the country, as well as among the different factories, can be accomplished without great disturbances only by means of the democratic self-government of the workers themselves…. Therefore the realisation of Workers’ Control is an indispensable preliminary to the demobilisation of industry.
7. In accordance with the slogan proclaimed by the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (Bolsheviki), Workers’ Control on a national scale, in order to bring results, must extend to all capitalist concerns, and not be organised accidentally, without system; it must be well-planned, and not separated from the industrial life of the country as a whole.
8. The economic life of the country—agriculture, industry, commerce and transport—must be subjected to one unified plan, constructed so as to satisfy the individual and social requirements of the wide masses of the people; it must be approved by their elected representatives, and carried out under the direction of these representatives by means of national and local organisations.
9. That part of the plan which deals with land-labour must be carried out under supervision of the peasants’ and land-workers’ organisations; that relating to industry, trade and transport operated by wage-earners, by means of Workers’ Control; the natural organs of Workers’ Control inside the industrial plant will be the Factory-Shop and similar Committees; and in the labour market, the Trade Unions.
10. The collective wage agreements arranged by the Trade Unions for the majority of workers in any branch of labour, must be binding on all the owners of plants employing this kind of labour in the given district.
11. Employment bureaus must be placed under the control and management of the Trade Unions, as class organisations acting within the limits of the whole industrial plan, and in accordance with it.
12. Trade Unions must have the right, upon their own initiative, to begin legal action against all employers who violate labour contracts or labour legislation, and also in behalf of any individual worker in any branch of labour.
13. On all questions relating to Workers’ Control over production, distribution and employment, the Trade Unions must confer with the workers of individual establishments through their Factory-Shop Committees.
14. Matters of employment and discharge, vacations, wage scales, refusal of work, degree of productivity and skill, reasons for abrogating agreements, disputes with the administration, and similar problems of the internal life of the factory, must be settled exclusively according to the findings of the Factory-Shop Committee, which has the right to exclude from participation in the discussion any members of the factory administration.
15. The Factory-Shop Committee forms a commission to control the supplying of the factory with raw materials, fuel, orders, labour power and technical staff (including equipment), and all other supplies and arrangements, and also to assure the factory’s adherence to the general industrial plan. The factory administration is obliged to surrender to the organs of Workers’ Control, for their aid and information, all data concerning the business; to make it possible to verify this data, and to produce the books of the company upon demand of the Factory-Shop Committee.
16. Any illegal acts on the part of the administration discovered by the Factory-Shop Committees, or any suspicion of such illegal acts, which cannot be investigated or remedied by the workers alone, shall be referred to the district central organisation of Factory-Shop Committees charged with the particular branch of labour involved, which shall discuss the matter with the institutions charged with the execution of the general industrial plan, and find means to deal with the matter, even to the extent of confiscating the factory.
17. The union of the Factory-Shop Committees of different concerns must be accomplished on the basis of the different trades, in order to facilitate control over the whole branch of industry, so as to come within the general industrial plan; and so as to create an effective plan of distribution among the different factories of orders, raw materials, fuel, technical and labour power; and also to facilitate cooperation with the Trade Unions, which are organised by trades.
18. The central city councils of Trade Unions and Factory-Shop Committees represent the proletariat in the corresponding provincial and local institutions formed to elaborate and carry out the general industrial plan, and to organise economic relations between the towns and the villages (workers and peasants). They also possess final authority for the management of Factory-Shop Committees and Trade Unions, so far as Workers’ Control in their district is concerned, and they shall issue obligatory regulations concerning workers’ discipline in the routine of production—which regulations, however, must be approved by vote of the workers themselves.
4. Yedinstvo Plekhanov’s paper, Yedinstvo, suspended publication a few weeks after the Bolsheviki seized the power. Contrary to popular report, Yedinstvo was not suppressed by the Soviet Government; an announcement in the last number admitted that it was unable to continue because there were too few subscribers….
5. Were The Bolsheviki Conspirators? The French newspaper Entente of Petrograd, on November 15th, published an article of which the following is a part:
“The Government of Kerensky discusses and hesitates. The Government of Lenin and Trotzky attacks and acts.
“This last is called a Government of Conspirators, but that is wrong. Government of usurpers, yes, like all revolutionary Governments which triumph over their adversaries. Conspirators—no!
“No! They did not conspire. On the contrary, openly, audaciously, without mincing words, without dissimulating their intentions, they multiplied their agitation, intensified their propaganda in the factories, the barracks, at the Front, in the country, everywhere, even fixing in advance the date of their taking up arms, the date of their seizure of the power….
In Petrograd was ending a regional Congress of Soviets of the North, presided over by the Bolshevik Krylenko. By an immense majority it resolved that all power should be assumed by the All-Russian Congress; and concluded by greeting the Bolsheviki in prison, bidding them rejoice, for the hour of their liberation was at hand. At the same time the first All-Russian Conference of Factory-Shop Committees1 declared emphatically for the Soviets, and continued significantly,
After liberating themselves politically from Tsardom, the working-class wants to see the democratic régime triumphant in the sphere of its productive activity. This is best expressed by Workers’ Control over industrial production, which naturally arose in the atmosphere of economic decomposition created by the criminal policy of the dominating classes.
The Union of Railwaymen was demanding the resignation of Liverovsky, Minister of Ways and Communications.
In the name of the Tsay-ee-kah, Skobeliev insisted that the nakaz be presented at the Allied Conference, and formally protested against the sending of Terestchenko to Paris. Terestchenko offered to resign.
General Verkhovsky, unable to accomplish his reorganisation of the army, only came to Cabinet meetings at long intervals.
On November 3d Burtzev’s Obshtchee Dielo came out with great headlines:
Citizens! Save the fatherland!
I have just learned that yesterday, at a meeting of the Commission for National Defence, Minister of War General Verkhovsky, one of the principal persons responsible for the fall of Kornilov, proposed to sign a separate peace, independently of the Allies.
That is treason to Russia!
Terestchenko declared that the Provisional Government had not even examined Verkhovsky’s proposition.
“You might think,” said Terestchenko, “that we were in a madhouse!”
The members of the Commission were astounded at the General’s words.
General Alexeyev wept.
No! It is not madness! It is worse. It is direct treason to Russia!
Kerensky, Terestchenko and Nekrassov must immediately answer us concerning the words of Verkhovsky.
Russia is being sold!
What Verkhovsky really said was that the Allies must be pressed to offer peace, because the Russian army could fight no longer.
Both in Russia and abroad the sensation was tremendous. Verkhovsky was given “indefinite leave of absence for illhealth,” and left the Government. Obshtchee Dielo was suppressed.
Sunday, November 4th, was designated as the Day of the Petrograd Soviet, with immense meetings planned all over the city, ostensibly to raise money for the organisation and the press; really, to make a demonstration of strength. Suddenly it was announced that on the same day the Cossacks would hold a Krestny Khod—Procession of the Cross—in honour of the Ikon of 1612, through whose miraculous intervention Napoleon had been driven from Moscow. The atmosphere was electric; a spark might kindle civil war. The Petrograd Soviet issued a manifesto, headed “Brothers—Cossacks!”
You, Cossacks, are being incited against us, workers and soldiers. This plan of Cain is being put into operation by our common enemies, the oppressors, the privileged classes—generals, bankers, landlords, former officials, former servants of the Tsar. We are hated by all grafters, rich men, princes, nobles, generals, including your Cossack generals. They are ready at any moment to destroy the Petrograd Soviet and crush the Revolution.
On the 4th of November somebody is organising a Cossack religious procession. It is a question of the free consciousness of every individual whether he will or will not take part in this procession. We do not interfere in this matter, nor do we obstruct anybody. However, we warn you, Cossacks! Look out and see to it that under the pretext of a Krestni Khod, your Kaledins do not instigate you against workmen, against soldiers.
The procession was hastily called off.
In the barracks and the working-class quarters of the town the Bolsheviki were preaching, “All Power to the Soviets!” and agents of the Dark Forces were urging the people to rise and slaughter the Jews, shop-keepers, Socialist leaders.
On one side the Monarchist press, inciting to bloody repression—on the other Lenin’s great voice roaring, “Insurrection!. We cannot wait any longer!”2. The Bourgeois Press On The Bolsheviki Russkaya Volia, October 28. “The decisive moment approaches…. It is decisive for the Bolsheviki. Either they will give us&… a second edition of the events of July 16-18, or they will have to admit that with their plans and intentions, with their impertinent policy of wishing to separate themselves from everything consciously national, they have been definitely defeated….
“What are the chances of Bolshevik success?
“It is difficult to answer that question, for their principal support is the&… ignorance of the popular masses. They speculate on it, they work upon it by a demagogy which nothing can stop….
“The Government must play its part in this affair. Supporting itself morally by the Council of the Republic, the Government must take a clearly-defined attitude toward the Bolsheviki….
“And if the Bolsheviki provoke an insurrection against the legal power, and thus facilitate the German invasion, they must be treated as mutineers and traitors….”
Birzhevya Viedomosti, October 28. “Now that the Bolsheviki have separated themselves from the rest of the democracy, the struggle against them is very much simpler—and it is not reasonable, in order to fight against Bolshevism, to wait until they make a manifestation. The Government should not even allow the manifestation….
“The appeals of the Bolsheviki to insurrection and anarchy are acts punishable by the criminal courts, and in the freest countries, their authors would receive severe sentences. For what the Bolsheviki are carrying on is not a political struggle against the Government, or even for the power; it is propaganda for anarchy, massacres, and civil war. This propaganda must be extirpated at its roots; it would be strange to wait, in order to begin action against an agitation for pogroms, until the pogroms actually occurred….”
Novoye Vremya, November 1. “hellip; Why is the Government excited only about November 2d (date of calling of the Congress of Soviets), and not about September 12th, or October 3d?
“This is not the first time that Russia burns and falls in ruins, and that the smoke of the terrible conflagration makes the eyes of our Allies smart….
“Since it came to power, has there been a single order issued by the Government for the purpose of halting anarchy, or has any one attempted to put out the Russian conflagration?
“There were other things to do….
“The Government turned its attention to a more immediate problem. It crushed an insurrection (the Kornilov attempt) concerning which every one is now asking, ‘Did it ever exist?”
3. Moderate Socialist Press On The Bolsheviki Dielo Naroda, October 28 (Socialist Revolutionary). “The most frightful crime of the Bolsheviki against the Revolution is that they impute exclusively to the bad intentions of the revolutionary Government all the calamities which the masses are so cruelly suffering; when as a matter of fact these calamities spring from objective causes.
“They make golden promises to the masses, knowing in advance that they can fulfil none of them; they lead the masses on a false trail, deceiving them as to the source of all their troubles….
“The Bolsheviki are the most dangerous enemies of the Revolution….”
Dien, October 30 (Menshevik). “Is this really ‘the freedom of the press’? Every day Novaya Rus and Rabotchi Put openly incite to insurrection. Every day these two papers commit in their columns actual crimes. Every day they urge pogroms…. Is that ‘the freedom of the press’?&…
“The Government ought to defend itself and defend us. We have the right to insist that the Government machinery does not remain passive while the threat of bloody riots endangers the lives of its citizens….”
Even the bourgeois press was uneasy. 2 Birjevya
Viedomosti (Exchange Gazette) called the Bolshevik
propaganda an attack on “the most elementary
principles of society—personal security and the
respect for private property.” Appeal of the Petrograd
Soviet to the Cossacks to call off their Krestny
Khod—the religious procession planned for
November 4th (our
calendar). “Brothers—Cossacks!” it
begins. “The Petrograd Soviet of Workers’ and
Soldiers’ Deputies addresses you.”
But it was the “moderate” Socialist journals which were the most hostile.3 “The Bolsheviki are the most dangerous enemies of the Revolution,” declared Dielo Naroda. Said the Menshevik Dien, “The Government ought to defend itself and defend us.” Plekhanov’s paper, Yedinstvo (Unity)4, called the attention of the Government to the fact that the Petrograd workers were being armed, and demanded stern measures against the Bolsheviki.
Daily the Government seemed to become more helpless. Even the Municipal administration broke down. The columns of the morning papers were filled with accounts of the most audacious robberies and murders, and the criminals were unmolested.
On the other hand, armed workers patrolled the streets at night, doing battle with marauders and requisitioning arms wherever they found them.
On the first of November Colonel Polkovnikov, Military Commander of Petrograd, issued a proclamation:
Despite the difficult days through which the country is
passing, irresponsible appeals to armed demonstrations and
massacres are still being spread around Petrograd, and from
day to day robbery and disorder increase.
This state of things is disorganising the life of the citizens, and hinders the systematic work of the Government and the Municipal Institutions.
In full consciousness of my responsibility and my duty before my country, I command:
1. Every military unit, in accordance with special instructions and within the territory of its garrison, to afford every assistance to the Municipality, to the Commissars, and to the militia, in the guarding of Government institutions.
2. The organisation of patrols, in co-operation with the District Commander and the representatives of the city militia, and the taking of measures for the arrest of criminals and deserters.
3. The arrest of all persons entering barracks and inciting to armed demonstrations and massacres, and their delivery to the headquarters of the Second Commander of the city.
4. To suppress any armed demonstration or riot at its start, with all armed forces at hand.
5. To afford assistance to the Commissars in preventing unwarranted searches in houses and unwarranted arrests.
6. To report immediately all that happens in the district under charge to the Staff of the Petrograd Military District.
I call upon all Army Committees and organisations to afford their help to the commanders in fulfilment of the duties with which they are charged.
In the Council of the Republic Kerensky declared that the Government was fully aware of the Bolshevik preparations, and had sufficient force to cope with any demonstration.5 He accused Novaya Rus and Robotchi Put of both doing the same kind of subversive work. “But owing to the absolute freedom of the press,” he added, “the Government is not in a position to combat printed lies.
Declaring that these were two aspects of the same propaganda, which had for its object the counter-revolution, so ardently desired by the Dark Forces, he went on:
“I am a doomed man, it doesn’t matter what happens to me, and I have the audacity to say that the other enigmatic part is that of the unbelievable provocation created in the city by the Bolsheviki!”
On November 2d only fifteen delegates to the Congress of Soviets had arrived. Next day there were a hundred, and the morning after that a hundred and seventy-five, of whom one hundred and three were Bolsheviki. Four hundred constituted a quorum, and the Congress was only three days off.
I spent a great deal of time at Smolny. It was no longer easy to get in. Double rows of sentries guarded the outer gates, and once inside the front door there was a long line of people waiting to be let in, four at a time, to be questioned as to their identity and their business. Passes were given out, and the pass system was changed every few hours; for spies continually sneaked through …
One day as I came up to the outer gate I saw Trotzky and his wife just ahead of me. They were halted by a soldier. Trotzky searched through his pockets, but could find no pass.
“Never mind,” he said finally. “You know me. My name is Trotzky.”
“You haven’t got a pass,” answered the soldier stubbornly.
“You cannot go in. Names don’t mean anything to me.”
“But I am the president of the Petrograd Soviet.”
“Well,” replied the soldier, “if you’re as important a fellow as that you must at least have one little paper.”
Trotzky was very patient. “Let me see the Commandant,” he said. The soldier hesitated, grumbling something about not wanting to disturb the Commandant for every devil that came along. He beckoned finally to the soldier in command of the guard. Trotzky explained matters to him. “My name is Trotzky,” he repeated.
“Trotzky?” The other soldier scratched his head. “I’ve heard the name somewhere,” he said at length. “I guess it’s all right. You can go on in, comrade.”
In the corridor I met Karakhan, member of the Bolshevik Central Committee, who explained to me what the new Government would be like.
“A loose organisation, sensitive to the popular will as expressed through the Soviets, allowing local forces full play. At present the Provisional Government obstructs the action of the local democratic will, just as the Tsar’s Government did. The initiative of the new society shall come from below. The form of the Government will be modelled on the Constitution of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party. The new Tsay-ee-kah, responsible to frequent meetings of the All-Russian Congress of Soviets, will be the parliament; the various Ministries will be headed by collegia—committees—instead of by Ministers, and will be directly responsible to the Soviets.
On October 30th, by appointment, I went up to a small, bare room in the attic of Smolny, to talk with Trotzky. In the middle of the room he sat on a rough chair at a bare table. Few questions from me were necessary; he talked rapidly and steadily, for more than an hour. The substance of his talk, in his own words, I give here:
“The Provisional Government is absolutely powerless. The bourgeoisie is in control, but this control is masked by a fictitious coalition with the oborontsi parties. Now, during the Revolution, one sees revolts of peasants who are tired of waiting for their promised land; and all over the country, in all the toiling classes, the same disgust is evident. This domination by the bourgeoisie is only possible by means of civil war. The Kornilov method is the only way by which the bourgeoisie can control. But it is force which the bourgeoisie lacks. The Army is with us. The conciliators and pacifists, Socialist Revolutionaries and Mensheviki, have lost all authority—because the struggle between the peasants and the landlords, between the workers and the employers, between the soldiers and the officers, has become more bitter, more irreconcilable than ever. Only by the concerted action of the popular mass, only by the victory of proletarian dictatorship, can the Revolution be achieved and the people saved.
“The Soviets are the most perfect representatives of the people—perfect in their revolutionary experience, in their ideas and objects. Based directly upon the army in the trenches, the workers in the factories, and the peasants in the fields, they are the backbone of the Revolution.
“There has been an attempt to create a power without the Soviets—and only powerlessness has been created. Counter-revolutionary schemes of all sorts are now being hatched in the corridors of the Council of the Russian Republic. The Cadet party represents the counter-revolution militant. On the other side, the Soviets represent the cause of the people. Between the two camps there are no groups of serious importance. It is the lutte finale. The bourgeois counter-revolution organises all its forces and waits for the moment to attack us. Our answer will be decisive. We will complete the work scarcely begun in March, and advanced during the Kornilov affair.”
He went on to speak of the new Government’s foreign policy:
“Our first act will be to call for an immediate armistice on all fronts, and a conference of peoples to discuss democratic peace terms. The quantity of democracy we get in the peace settlement depends on the quantity of revolutionary response there is in Europe. If we create here a Government of the Soviets, that will be a powerful factor for immediate peace in Europe; for this Government will address itself directly and immediately to all peoples, over the heads of their Governments, proposing an armistice. At the moment of the conclusion of peace the pressure of the Russian Revolution will be in the direction of: no annexations, no indemnities, the right of self-determination of peoples, and a Federated Republic of Europe.
“At the end of this war I see Europe recreated, not by the diplomats, but by the proletariat. The Federated Republic of Europe—the United States of Europe—that is what must be. National autonomy no longer suffices. Economic evolution demands the abolition of national frontiers. If Europe is to remain split into national groups, then Imperialism will recommence its work. Only a Federated Republic of Europe can give peace to the world.” He smiled—that fine, faintly ironical smile of his. “But without the action of the European masses, these ends cannot be realised—now.”
Now while everybody was waiting for the Bolsheviki to appear suddenly on the streets one morning and begin to shoot down people with white collars on, the real insurrection took its way quite naturally and openly.
The Provisional Government planned to send the Petrograd garrison to the front.
The Petrograd garrison numbered about sixty thousand men, who had taken a prominent part in the Revolution. It was they who had turned the tide in the great days of March, created the Soviets of Soldiers’ Deputies, and hurled back Kornilov from the gates of Petrograd.
Now a large part of them were Bolsheviki. When the Provisional Government talked of evacuating the city, it was the Petrograd garrison which answered, “If you are not capable of defending the capital, conclude peace; if you cannot conclude peace, go away and make room for a People’s Government which can do both.”
It was evident that any attempt at insurrection depended upon the attitude of the Petrograd garrison. The Government’s plan was to replace the garrison regiments with “dependable” troops—Cossacks, Death Battalions. The Army Committees, the “moderate” Socialists and the Tsay-ee-kah supported the Government. A wide-spread agitation was carried on at the Front and in Petrograd, emphasizing the fact that for eight months the Petrograd garrison had been leading an easy life in the barracks of the capital, while their exhausted comrades in the trenches starved and died.
Naturally there was some truth in the accusation that the garrison regiments were reluctant to exchange their comparative comfort for the hardships of a winter campaign. But there were other reasons why they refused to go. The Petrograd Soviet feared the Government’s intentions, and from the Front came hundreds of delegates, chosen by the common soldiers, crying, “It is true we need reinforcements, but more important, we must know that Petrograd and the Revolution are well-guarded. Do you hold the rear, comrades, and we will hold the front!”
On October 25th, behind closed doors, the Central Committee of the Petrograd Soviet discussed the formation of a special Military Committee to decide the whole question. The next day a meeting of the Soldiers’ Section of the Petrograd Soviet elected a Committee, which immediately proclaimed a boycott of the bourgeois newspapers, and condemned the Tsay-ee-kah for opposing the Congress of Soviets. On the 29th, in open session of the Petrograd Soviet, Trotzky proposed that the Soviet formally sanction the Military Revolutionary Committee. “We ought,” he said, “to create our special organisation to march to battle, and if necessary to die.” It was decided to send to the front two delegations, one from the Soviet and one from the garrison, to confer with the Soldiers’ Committees and the General Staff.
At Pskov, the Soviet delegates were met by General Tcheremissov, commander of the Northern Front, with the curt declaration that he had ordered the Petrograd garrison to the trenches, and that was all. The garrison committee was not allowed to leave Petrograd.
A delegation of the Soldiers’ Section of the Petrograd Soviet asked that a representative be admitted to the Staff of the Petrograd District. Refused. The Petrograd Soviet demanded that no orders be issued without the approval of the Soldiers’ Section. Refused. The delegates were roughly told, “We only recognise the Tsay-ee-kah. We do not recognise you; if you break any laws, we shall arrest you.”
On the 30th a meeting of representatives of all the Petrograd regiments passed a resolution: “The Petrograd garrison no longer recognises the Provisional Government. The Petrograd Soviet is our Government. We will obey only the orders of the Petrograd Soviet, through the Military Revolutionary Committee.” The local military units were ordered to wait for instructions from the Soldiers’ Section of the Petrograd Soviet.
Next day the Tsay-ee-kah summoned its own meeting, composed largely of officers, formed a Committee to cooperate with the Staff, and detailed Commissars in all quarters of the city.
A great soldier meeting at Smolny on the 3d resolved:
Saluting the creation of the Military Revolutionary Committee, the Petrograd garrison promises it complete support in all its actions, to unite more closely the front and the rear in the interests of the Revolution.
The garrison moreover declares that with the revolutionary proletariat it assures the maintenance of revolutionary order in Petrograd. Every attempt at provocation on the part of the Kornilovtsi or the bourgeoisie will be met with merciless resistance.
Now conscious of its power, the Military Revolutionary Committee peremptorily summoned the Petrograd Staff to submit to its control. To all printing plants it gave orders not to publish any appeals or proclamations without the Committee’s authorisation. Armed Commissars visited the Kronversk arsenal and seized great quantities of arms and ammunition, halting a shipment of ten thousand bayonets which was being sent to Novotcherkask, headquarters of Kaledin.
Suddenly awake to the danger, the Government offered immunity if the Committee would disband. Too late. At midnight November 5th Kerensky himself sent Malevsky to offer the Petrograd Soviet representation on the Staff. The Military Revolutionary Committee accepted. An hour later General Manikovsky, acting Minister of war, countermanded the offer.
Tuesday morning, November 6th, the city was thrown into excitement by the appearance of a placard signed, “Military Revolutionary Committee attached to the Petrograd Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies.”
To the Population of Petrograd. Citizens!
Counter-revolution has raised its criminal head. The Kornilovtsi are mobilising their forces in order to crush the All-Russian Congress of Soviets and break the Constituent Assembly. At the same time the pogromists may attempt to call upon the people of Petrograd for trouble and bloodshed. The Petrograd Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies takes upon itself the guarding of revolutionary order in the city against counter-revolutionary and pogrom attempts.
The Petrograd garrison will not allow any violence or disorders. The population is invited to arrest hooligans and Black Hundred agitators and take them to the Soviet Commissars at the nearest barracks. At the first attempt of the Dark Forces to make trouble on the streets of Petrograd, whether robbery or fighting, the criminals will be wiped off the face of the earth!
Citizens! We call upon you to maintain complete quiet and self-possession. The cause of order and Revolution is in strong hands.
List of regiments where there are Commissars of the Military Revolutionary Committee. . . .
On the 3rd the leaders of the Bolsheviki had another historic meeting behind closed doors. Notified by Zalkind, I waited in the corridor outside the door; and Volodarsky as he came out told me what was going on.
Lenin spoke: “November 6th will be too early. We must have an all-Russian basis for the rising; and on the 6th all the delegates to the Congress will not have arrived. On the other hand, November 8th will be too late. By that time the Congress will be organised, and it is difficult for a large organised body of people to take swift, decisive action. We must act on the 7th, the day the Congress meets, so that we may say to it, ‘Here is the power! What are you going to do with it?’”
In a certain upstairs room sat a thin-faced, long-haired individual, once an officer in the armies of the Tsar, then revolutionist and exile, a certain Avseenko, called Antonov, mathematician and chess-player; he was drawing careful plans for the seizure of the capital.