Letters from the Street

Philosophy, theology, and whatever else crosses my mind.

Category: Russian Revolution

Russian Revolution: August 16 – Sept. 1, 1917

August 16, 1917 (August 3, 1917 old style)August 16, 1917 (August 3, 1917 old style)

Stalin is elected to the Central Committee of the Bolsheviks.

August 17,1917 (August 14, 1917 old style)

The division in the State Conference becomes palpable when General Kornilov arrives. Kerensky patriotically asserts his authority, to which Miliukov explains: “In reality, he invokes only a feeling of pity”. Kornilov speaks with heavy defeatism, with attentive Allied diplomats in the audience, and explains that the Germans can easily win Riga, and if he is not allowed a full military dictatorship, Petrograd is sure to fall. Rhetoric vehemently crosses the aisles, threats abound, open fighting nearly breaks out. The government is starkly divided between Social Democracy and Military Dictatorship. Amazingly, world renown Anarchist Peter Kropotkin shows his support for the defense of Russia through a dictatorship, explaining that: “We need a federation such as they have in the United States.”

August 20 – 25, 1917 (August 7 – 12, 1917 old style)

The Second Conference of Petrograd Factory Committees takes place. There will be three more conferences prior to the Bolshevik revolution.

August 25- 28, 1917 (August 12-15, 1917 old style)

The Provisional Government holds a State Conference in Moscow. Workers Soviets overwhelming vote for a general strike in opposition to the Conference, but the Petrograd Soviet votes 364 to 304 to not strike. The Workers partly accept this, and instead strike for a single day: 400,000 workers walk out. As a result of the backwardness of the Petrograd Soviet, a vote is taken to hold new elections, and receives support in the form of 175 votes to 4.

End of August 1917 (Mid of August 1917 old style)

Kornilov, the commander in chief of the Provisional Government, sends troops to Petrograd.

August 27, 1917 (August 14, 1917 old style)

Kerensky judges Kornilov’s move as an attempted military coup. He fires Kornilov from his post as commander in chief and orders him to come to Petrograd, and makes himself the new commander in chief.

August 31, 1917 (August 18, 1917 old style)
The Petrograd Soviet, despite the objection of Menshevik president Cheidze, holds a vote on the abolition of the death penalty. The vote resolves: 900 to 4 to abolish the death penalty. Only the top leaders of the Menshevik party — Tseretelli, Cheidze, Dan, Lieber — vote against. On the 22nd, the Provisional Government agrees to abide by the Soviet decision, fearful of retribution otherwise.

September 1, 1917 (August 19, 1917 old style)
Kornilov refuses to come to Petrograd. He goes to Bykhov instead, surrenders, and gets caged. He manages to escape later. Kornilov demands that Kerensky allow him to reassign his army to Petrograd. Kerensky refuses.


Russian Revolution: May 30–June 23, 1917

May 30, 1917 (May 17, 1917 old style)
The Kronstadt Soviet declares itself the sole governing power of Kronstadt.

June 12-16, 1917 (May 30 – June 3, 1917 old style)
The First Conference of Petrograd Factory Committees takes place and supports Bolshevik policies. There will be four more conferences prior to the Bolshevik revolution. See the next one on August 20 – 25, 1917 (August 7 – 12, 1917 old style)

June 13, 1917 (May 31, 1917 old style)
Minister of War Guchkov, a member of the Cadet party, resigns after street demonstrations against him. Kerensky replaces him.

June 16 – July 7, 1917 (June 3 – 24, 1917 old style)
The First All-Russian Congress of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Soviets begins in Petrograd. The Socialist Revolutionaries have the majority, the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks the minority. The Congress almost unanimously agrees to end World War I, though only through tremendous consternation agrees to support the Provisional Government, despite Bolshevik protests. Tensions flare between the parties, with the Mensheviks insisting that the Bolsheviks must be disarmed, despite not having weapons, which would in practice mean disarming the Soldiers’ Soviets. The Bolsheviks insist that all power must go to the Soviets.

June 18, 1917 (June 5, 1917 old style)
The Parliament in Finland (a territory of Russia) declare Finland a sovereign state, except on questions of foreign policy and war. The Provisional Government sends troops to crush the Parliament, which soon wavers, and votes in favor of their own dissolution.

June 23, 1917 (June 10, 1917 old style)
the Central Rada (formed in Kiev on March 17) proclaim the independence of the Ukraine. The ongoing Congress of Soviets unanimously supports this declaration of independence. The demonstration the Bolsheviks planned to hold against the Government is banned. The Mensheviks then go factory to factory, telling workers not to stage a demonstration, who in turn berate the Mensheviks. The Mensheviks see a massive conspiracy — “The masses are thick with Bolsheviks” — and secretly ask the Cossacks to help them crush the Bolsheviks, to which the Cossack ataman replies: “We, Cossacks, will never go against the Soviet.” Whole regiments accept the ban on the demonstration solely on the basis of Bolshevik acceptance, whose party policy wholly accepts any and all decisions of the Soviet.

Russian Revolution: May 7-May 23, 1917

May 7 – 12, 1917 (April 24 – 29, old style)
Seventh All-Russian Conference of the Bolshevik party. Lenin’s April Theses are officially the party’s program. The new slogan is All Power to the Soviets.

May 14, 1917 (May 1, Old Style)
The Petrograd Soviet votes in favor of forming a new, Coalition Government, despite Bolshevik condemnation and in contradiction to the March 1 decision of the Soviet. Weeks earlier, Lenin warned about the dangers of this new Dual Power. Miliukov’s resignation comes on the following day.

May 15, 1917 (May 2, 1917 old style)
Pavel N. Milyukov resigns as foreign minister.

May 17, 1917 (May 4, 1917 old style)
Leon Trotsky arrives from America.

May 18, 1917 (May 5, 1917 old style)
The Second Provisional Government, also called First Coalition Government, is formed. The seats are occupied as follows

Lvov – President and Minister of the Interior
Kerensky – Minister of War and Navy (Socialist Revolutionist)
Chernov – Minister of Agriculture (Socialist Revolutionist)
Pereverzev – Minister of Justice
Tereshehenko – Minister of Foreign Affairs
Shingarev – Minister of Finance
Nekrasov – Minister of Communications
Konovalov – Minister of Commerce
Peshekhonov – Minister of Supplies
Manuilov – Minister of Education
Skobelev – Minister of Labor (Menshevik)
Tsereteli – Minister of Posts and Telegraph (Menshevik)

The First Coalition Government will end on July 15, 1917.

May 23, 1917 (May 10 Old Style)
The Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies resolves that only discharged and wounded soldiers can perform as militiamen. Lenin explains his critique.

Russian Revolution: May 1-4, 1917

May 1, 1917 (April 18, old style)
Massive May Day celebrations occur in Russia. Foreign Minister Pavel N. Milyukov (also spelled Miliukov) sends a declaration to the Allies regarding the Russian Government’s war aims. The government’s position is that of being ready to quit the war without any ambitions regarding territorial annexations. However, knowing that the French and the British wouldn’t be happy with that position, Milyukov attaches a note of his own. Milyukov elaborates that Russia is still willing to “continue the war until complete victory” and that Russia is very much interested in expanding her territory.This note is leaked to the press and will cause the Provisional Government’s first crisis. Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Miliukov secretly promises the Allies that Russia will continue the war until complete victory and the annexation of new territory is achieved. Miliukov’s secret note prompts armed demonstrations of furious soldiers in the streets for two days. The Bolsheviks resolve that the resignation of Miliukov is not enough; a new Soviet government must be formed, and give party members new instructions.

May 3 – 4, 1917 (April 20 – 21, old style)
The April Days, also called the April Crisis. Mass demonstrations in Petrograd and Moscow against Pavel N. Milyukov’s declaration of war aims.

Russian Revolution: April 9, April 13, April 16, April 17 1917

(Catching up after vacation.)

April 9, 1917 (March 27 old style)

Trotsky leaves exile in New York to return to Russia. Meanwhile, the Provisional Government declares that its purpose in continuing the war is solely for the defense of Russia. This serves as a compromise position with the Petrograd Soviet, which accepts this new formulation.

April 13, 1917 (March 31 old style)

Plekhanov arrives in Petrograd, after nearly 40 years in exile. Plekhanov is a different man from when he left, now supporting the War for territory, and the advance of capitalism in Russia.

April 16, 1917 (April 3,1917 old style)
Lenin, Zinoviev and other Bolsheviks arrives in Petrograd coming from Switzerland. They are met at the train station by a large contingent of jubilant workers, soldiers, and party members.

April 17, 1917 (April 4,1917 old style)
Lenin presents his April Theses, his agenda for the continuation of the Revolution. He argues that the ruling Provisional Government is unacceptable because the workers, and the workers alone, should be the ones in power. The Bolsheviks soon produce an educational pamphlet for workers on Political Parties in Russia and the Tasks of the Proletariat. Meanwhile, the steamer Trotsky is traveling on is stopped for inspection by the British Navy in Canada, and despite the General Amnesty and having his visa in order, he is thrown into a British prison, along with several other Socialists for their opposition to the War.

Russian Revolution: April 3, 1917

April 3, 1917 (March 21 Old Style)

Lenin’s Letters from Afar, are published, though highly abridged.

Transition to Socialism: Peaceful if Possible, Says Engels

I’ve been posting historical information from the Russian Revolution. At times, the revolution was violent. In nearly every case, this was provoked by the reactionary forces, either of those who were loyal to the Tsar and the old order, or other countries such as Germany, England, and the United States.

The question comes up, must a socialist revolution be violent?

It’s important to remember that the Russian Revolution happened in a particular place, at a particular time, under particular conditions. Those conditions never existed before and never will again. It is not a model for how a revolution has to happen. There are lessons to be learned, for sure, from the failures, from the successes, from the excesses.

Let’s not forget this: while much of the world speaks out in condemnation when the left commits a violent act, or even talks about it (such as the opposition to the appearance of Milo Yiannopoulos, or the Black Panther Party in the 60s and 70s), the ruling class uses violence against the 99% all the time. Every time they kill a black person on the street, every time they shoot an innocent person on a no-knock warrant, every time they fire someone without cause, every time they use dogs or fire hoses on peaceful protesters such as at the Standing Rock encampment, every time they dump toxic waste in a community, every time they use fake emissions testing, every time they arrest and deport a hard-working immigrant, they assert the ability and will to use violence against us. And every time they do, the rest of us know that we could be next, and that innocence is no shield. So this whole topic is rife with hypocrisy and double standards.

Remember this?

Elian Gonzalex

Deadly enemy of the state right there, requiring the deployment of (I kid you not) over 100 federal agents to bring him down.

Just keep that in mind.

Here’s what Friedrich Engels had to say on the topic, from “The Principles of Communism”, published in 1847, the year before he and Karl Marx wrote “The Communist Manifesto.” I believe that they are as valuable now as they were then:

“Will the peaceful abolition of private property be possible?

“It would be desirable if this could happen, and the communists would certainly be the last to oppose it. Communists know only too well that all conspiracies are not only useless, but even harmful. They know all too well that revolutions are not made intentionally and arbitrarily, but that, everywhere and always, they have been the necessary consequence of conditions which were wholly independent of the will and direction of individual parties and entire classes.

“But they also see that the development of the proletariat in nearly all civilized countries has been violently suppressed, and that in this way the opponents of communism have been working [against] a revolution with all their strength. If the oppressed proletariat is finally driven to revolution, then we communists will defend the interests of the proletarians with deeds as we now defend them with words.”

As a lifelong pacifist, I struggle with this issue as much as anyone. There is so much that can be done with nonviolent direct action, as proved by Gandhi, King, and many others. And yet, in the face of extreme injustice, my own moral purity is not what’s at stake.

Russian Revolution: April 2, 1917

April 2, 1917 (March 20, Old Style)

The Provisional Government abolishes all religious and ethnic restrictions formerly imposed by the Monarchy. Non-Russian languages are now allowed at private educational institutions and record keeping.

Russian Revolution: April 1, 1917

April 1, 1917 (March 18 Old Style)

Stalin becomes a member of the Executive Committee of the Petrograd Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies.

Russian Revolution: March 30, 1917

March 30, 1917 (March 17 Old Style)

Poland appeals for independence. The Provisonal Government refuses.

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