In Defence of October

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Speech Delivered At The Second All-Russia Congress Of Soviets Of Peasants’ Deputies

"We therefore declare that the party of the Cadets is a party of the bourgeoisie, that they are enemies of the people, and that we shall fight them."

Comrades, at the last Extraordinary Congress of Peasants’ Deputies I spoke as a member of the Bolshevik group and not as a member of the Council of People’s Commissars, I am speaking in the same capacity today, for I consider it important that the opinion of the Party of the Bolsheviks should be known to this Congress of Peasants’ Deputies.

When I arrived here I heard part of the speech of the last speaker, who, turning to me, told you that I wanted to disperse you at the point of the bayonet. Comrades, Russia has grown too mature to suffer anyone to rule her. You know that from the moment the army turned their weapons to win freedom, from the moment it became possible for the peasant in uniform to meet and arrange matters with the peasant not in uniform, from that moment there has been no fcre,e that can break the will of the people, the will of the peasants and workers.

Comrades, I want to tell you how we understand the Revolution of October 25. Comrades, it has been said here that a new wave of revolution may sweep the Soviets away. I say “No”. I am firmly convinced that the Soviets will never perish; the Revolution of October 25 proved that. The Soviets will never perish, for they were formed as far back as the first revolution of 1905; they were formed after the February revolution, and they were not formed on the initiative of any individual, but from below, by the will of the masses. There can be no restrictions and no red tape, for they have been formed by the will of the people, and the people are free to recall their representatives at any moment. The Soviets are superior to any parliament, they are superior to any constituent assembly, (Commotion and cries: That’s a lie!) The Party of the Bolsheviks has always declared that the supreme body is the Soviets. That cannot be called a lie, because the revolutioris in Europe that overthrew monarchies formed bourgeois republics with the help of constituent assemblies, There has never before been a revolution such as ours anywhere in the world, It is said that the Revolution of October 25 created only “a Bolshevik government”. I might say that there are not only Bolsheviks in the Council of People’s COMhnissars. Those of you who remember the First Congress of Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies will know that the Bolsheviks were then in the minority; but, having learned the meaning of the policy of compromise from experience, the Second Congress of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies, whieh represented the people, gave a majority to the Bolshevik Party. When they tell me that bayonets may be directed against the Soviets and shout it from the columns of the hostile press, I simply laugh. The bayonets are in the hands of the workers, the soldiers and the peasants, and as long as they are they will never be directed against the Soviets. Let the counter-revolution turn its bayonets on the Soviets, it will not scare them.

Passing to the question of the Constituent Assembly, I must say that the Constituent Assembly can help only if the people themselves are free to develop and build up a new life. And I ask you: Is that the case?

I am telling you what you all know: “The sabbath was made for man and not man for the sabbath”, Comrades, you know how the Constituent Assembly was elected. It was elected by one of the most progressive election methods, for it is not individuals who were elected, but representatives of parties. This is a step forward, for revolutions are made by parties and not by individuals. When the elections to the Constituent Assembly took place there was only one party of Socialist-Revolutionaries, the party which has the majority in the Constituent Assembly. But that is not the case now. You will perhaps say that the Bolsheviks also brought that about, no, comrades, that is a universal law, always and everywhere, the people are slowly and painfully dividing into two camps-that of the dispossessed and downtrodden, of those who are fighting for a brighter future for all working people, and that of those who in one way or another support the landowriers and capitalists. When the elections took place the people did not elect those who expressed their will and their desires. You say that we have declared the whole Cadet Party enemies of the people. Yes, we have. And thereby we expressed the will of the Second Congress of Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies. And now that we are on the threshold of peace and the cessation of the terrible slaughter that has lasted three years, we are convinced that this is the demand of all the working people in all countries. The overthrew of imperialism in Europe is proceeding slowly and painfully, and imperialists in all countries will now see that the people are strong, and in their strength will overthrow all who stand in their way. We shall not be deterred when people who are organising revolt against the workers and peasants, against the Soviets, with the other hand show us their credentials to the Constituent Assembly. In July we were told that we should be proclaimed enemies of the people, and we answered, “Try it”. If the bourgeois gentlemen and their followers had only tried to say that to the peeple openly! But they did not; they resorted to insinuation, slander and mud-slinging. When the bourgeoisie began the civil war (we witnessed it), they incited the officer cadets to revolt, and we, the victors, were merciful to them, the vanquished. More than that, we even spared their military honour. And now, when the Constituent Assembly is being convened, we say: we shall open the Constituent Assembly as soon as four hundred of its members arrive. We see that the conspiracy of the Cadets is continuing, we see that they are organising revolt against the Soviets in the interests of the money-bags of greed and riches, and we publicly proclaim them enemies of the people. At a time when the terms of peace will shortly be known, when we are about to have an armistice, when the members of the land committees will be immune from arrest when the landed estates are being confiscated, and when control will be established over the factories-at such a time they are conspiring against us, against the Soviets. We therefore declare that the party of the Cadets is a party of the bourgeoisie, that they are enemies of the people, and that we shall fight them.


Source: Marxist Internet Archive.

The February Revolution
Strikes and protests erupt on women's day in Petrograd and develop into a mass movement involving hundreds of thousands of workers; within 5 days the workers win over the army and bring down the hated and seemingly omnipotent Tsarist Monarchy.
Lenin Returns
Lenin returns to Russia and presents his ‘April Theses’ denouncing the Bourgeois Provisional Government and calling for “All Power to the Soviets!”
The June Days
Following the First All-Russian Congress of Soviets, the reformist leaders called a demonstration to show the strength of "democracy". 400,000 people attended, the vast majority carried banners with Bolshevik slogans.
The July Days
Spontaneous, armed demonstrations against the Provisional Government erupt in Petrograd. The workers and soldiers are suppressed by force, introducing a period of reaction and making the peaceful development of the revolution impossible.
The Kornilov Affair
Following the July days, the Bolsheviks were driven underground and the forces of reaction were emboldened. This process culminated in the reactionary forces coalescing around General Kornilov, who attempt to march on Petrograd and crush the revolutionary movement in its entirety.
The October Revolution
The Provisional Government is overthrown. State power passes to the Soviets on the morningm of 26th October, after the Bolsheviks’ Military Revolutionary Committee seize the city and the cabinet surrenders.
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