The central of our party, the Workers’ Gazette, has been forcibly shut down, along with other papers, by the Military Revolutionary Committee. But the Bolsheviks have not stopped at this. After our new central organ, The Ray, started to appear, the printing works were seized by sailors and Red Guards who, in this manner, have muzzled the proletarian party.
Persons who claim to act in the name of the Social-Democratic Labor Party have thus once again disgraced the socialist cause and shown their contempt for the working class.
By reducing the proletarian party to silence they hope to pursue unhindered their aim of betraying the interests of revolutionary Russia to world imperialism by conducting peace negotiations which flout the interests of the Russian and international proletariat and have nothing in common with the just and democratic peace that is desired by workers throughout the world.
Under the banner of socialism they plan to enforce without hindrance a regime of arbitrary violence and terror which makes the very name of socialism, the salvation of all peoples, hateful to tens of millions of human beings. They hope without hindrance to continue the anarchic policy of destroying the productive forces of the country, confiscating factories and installations, sharing out consumer goods and disorganizing the workers’ movement. They declare this policy to be socialism, but it is in fact a huge deception of the working masses, exhausted and starving as they are. It will inevitably lead to vast unemployment and the bloody suppression of the proletariat; it will render the working class helpless and abandon it for many years to the mercy of a victorious bourgeoisie.
These men, whose power is based on bayonets, are determined to prolong their dictatorship and for that purpose are destroying all freedoms including those of the press and assembly, the right to form trade unions and to strike. They are dispersing the city dumas and preparing to disperse the Constituent Assembly, thus destroying in advance every stronghold of democracy against the onslaught of counter-revolution.
The Central Committee of the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party (United) believes that it would be failing in its duty if, in these circumstances which recall the worst days of Czarism, it did not do its utmost to ensure that the party’s voice is able to ring out clearly — to unite political conscious workers to fight the usurpers, to warn the deluded masses against the pernicious appeals of Bolshevism and to preserve the honor of Russian socialism in the eyes of the international proletariat.
The Central Committee therefore informs all members of the party and the whole of the workers’ international that if the campaign against the press continues it will continues its efforts to re-establish the party’s central organ, and will be compelled — after nine months of revolution and under the rule of what claims to be a proletarian party — to consider on its own behalf and that of the whole party the necessity of once more setting up a system of publications outside the law, such as that which enabled the Russian proletariat to wrest its freedom from the shameful Czarist regime.
—Statement by the Central Committee of the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party (United), November 22, 1917, Zaria
To The Democracy
The socialist ministers released by Lenin and Trotsky from the Peter and Paul Fortress went home, leaving their colleagues M.V. Bernatsky, A. I. Konovalov, M. I. Tereschenko, and others in the hands of people who have no conception of the freedom of the individual or of the rights of man.
Lenin, Trotsky, and their companions have already become poisoned with the filthy venom of power, and this is evidenced by their shameful attitude toward freedom of speech, the individual, and the sum total of those rights for the triumph of which democracy struggled.
Blind fanatics and dishonest adventurers are rushing madly, supposedly along the road to the “social revolution”; in reality this is the road to anarchy, to the destruction of the proletariat and of the revolution.
On this road Lenin and his associates consider it possible to commit all kinds of crimes, such as the slaughter outside St. Petersburg, the destruction of Moscow, the abolition of freedom of speech, and senseless arrests — all the abominations which Pleve and Stolypin once perpetrated.
Of course, Stolypin and Pleve went against democracy, against all that was live and decent in Russia. Lenin, however, is followed by a rather sizeable–for the time being–portion of the workers; but I believe that the good sense of the working class and its awareness of its historical tasks will soon open the eyes of the proletariat to the utter impossibility of realizing Lenin’s promises, to all the depth of his madness, and to his Nechaev and Bakunin brand of anarchism.
The working class cannot fail to understand that Lenin is only performing a certain experiment on their skin and on their blood, that he is striving to push the revolutionary mood of the proletariat to its furthest extreme and see what will come of this?
Of course, he does not believe in the possibility of the victory of the proletariat in Russia under the present conditions, but perhaps he is hoping for a miracle.
The working class should know that miracles do not occur in real life, that they are to expect hunger, complete disorder in industry, disruption of transportation, and protracted bloody anarchy followed by a no less bloody and gloomy reaction.
This is where the proletariat is being led by its present leader, and it must be understood that Lenin is not an omnipotent magician but a cold-blooded trickster who spares neither the honor nor the life of the proletariat.
The workers must not allow adventurers and madmen to heap shameful, senseless, and bloody crimes on the head of the proletariat, for which not Lenin but the proletariat itself will pay.
- Does the Russian democracy remember the ideas for the triumph of which it struggled against the despotism of the monarchy?
- Does it consider itself capable of continuing this struggle now?
- Does it remember that when the Romanov gendarmes threw its ideological leaders into prisons and hard labor camps, it called this method of struggle base?
- In what way does Lenin’s attitude toward freedom of speech differ from the same attitude of a Stolypin, a Pleve, and other half-humans?
- Does not Lenin’s government, as the Romanov government did, seize and drag off to prison all those who think differently?
- Why are Bernatsky, Konovalov, and other members of the coalition government sitting in the fortress? Are they in any way more criminal than their socialist colleagues freed by Lenin?
The only honest answer to these questions must be an immediate demand to free the ministers and other innocent people who were arrested, and also to restore freedom of speech in its entirety.
Then the sensible elements of the democracy must draw further conclusions, they must decide: is the road of conspirators and anarchists of Nechaev’s type also their road?
Novaya Zhizn, No. 174, November 20, 1917
Letter to the Bolshevik Group in the Central Executive Committee of the Soviet Government
In view of the fact that the question of the day is group and party discipline, I deem it my duty to make the following statement:
I cannot, in the name of party discipline, be silent …. when I feel with all my soul that the tactics of the Central Committee are leading to the isolation of the advance guard of the proletariat, to civil war within the working class, and to the defeat of the great revolution.
I cannot, in the name of party discipline, pass over the administrative zeal of the representatives of the Military Revolutionary Committee, such as the order issued by Colonel Muravev about taking the law into one’s hand, confiscation of enterprises …..
I cannot, in the name of party discipline, be silent when I see what is being done with the press; when I see before me houndings and persecutions, searches and arrests–all of which arouse the masses and lead them to think that the dictatorship of the proletariat which the socialists have preached for decades is the same as the old regime of the club and saber.
I cannot, in the name of party discipline, be silent when one of the People’s Commissars threatens to remove the striking officials from the military exemption list and send them to the front; when the postal and telegraph employees are threatened with the loss of their food cards.
I cannot, in the name of party discipline, be silent when such acts and proclamations sweep away the right of combination won by the toilers in a bloody struggle. This right will undoubtedly continue in a socialist state just as the right to strike, in order to enforce political and economic demands.
I cannot, in the name of party discipline, be silent and thereby assume political and moral responsibility when the responsible leaders of the party proclaim that for every one of our men we will kill five of our opponents. This proclamation is similar to the one made by Hindenburg that he would burn three Russian villages for one Prussian.
I cannot, in the name of party discipline, remain silent when the Military Revolutionary Committee does as it pleases with the country, when it issues fantastic decrees about extraordinary tribunals, when it exceeds its military sphere and takes upon itself the civil administration of the country.
I cannot, in the name of party discipline, pass over in silence the discontent of the toiling masses that fought for a Soviet government only to discover that for reasons not clear to them this government has turned out to be a purely Bolshevik one.
I cannot, in the name of party discipline, be silent when Marxists …. refuse to look facts in the face and decline an agreement with all Socialist parties which would immediately end the war within the revolutionary democracy and which would unite all forces against Kaledin.
I cannot, in the name of party discipline, become a hero-worshiper and insist that this or that person must be a member of the government when our basic terms are accepted and when every minute of delay in coming to an agreement with all the Socialist parties means shedding of blood.
Finally, I cannot, in the name of party discipline, be silent when every day of war within the revolutionary democracy deepens the chasm in the working class, makes more difficult the fight against counterrevolution, and leads the revolution and Russia to an inevitable crash.
In view of all this I declare that I shall denounce in party meetings, in the C.E.C. and in labor circles the wrong and destructive (both for the party and working classes) tactics pursued by the Central Committee, that I shall mobilize party, labor, and public opinion to persuade the Central Committee to follow a better line and to call in the near future a congress of the party to decide: whether the Russian Social-Democratic Labor Party (Bolshevik), shall remain Marxist and the party of the working class or shall follow a course that has nothing in common with revolutionary Marxism.
With fraternal greetings,
Novaia Zhizn, No. 172, November 17, 1917
1. The order in question appeared on November 1/14 and ran as follows: “For the purpose of immediately restoring normal order in Petrograd and its environs, I order that the following be carried out to the letter: (1) I intrust to the soldiers, sailors, and Red Guards and the whole revolutionary proletariat the maintenance of internal order in the capital. …. I order soldiers, sailors, and Red Guards to take the law into their own hands against representatives of the criminal element and to destroy them unsparingly, as soon as their participation in crimes against the lives, health, or property of citizens has been proved beyond doubt ….. ” (A. L. Popov, Oktiabrskii perevorot: fakty i dokumenty, Petrograd, 1918, p. 289.)