On the fateful day of the 18th January, the capital looked just as if a state of siege had been declared. A few days previously, the Bolsheviks had created the so-called Extraordinary Command and the whole district around Smolny had been put under the jurisdiction of Lenin’s henchman Bonch Bruevich. The area around the Tauride Palace was put under the supervision of the Bolshevik commandant Blagonravov. The palace itself was surrounded by troops armed to the teeth - Kronstadt sailors and Latvian riflemen, some of them stationed within the building. All the streets leading to the palace were closed off.
The day-long debate has shown that the Party of Right Socialist-Revolutionaries continues, as it did under Kerensky, to lavish the people with promises of all manner of things; actually it has decided to fight against the power of the workers’, peasants’ and soldiers’ Soviets, against the socialist measures, the transfer of land and all implements to the peasants without compensation, the nationalisation of banks, and the repudiation of the state debt. Refusing for a single moment to cover up the crimes of the enemies of the people, we make this announcement of our withdrawal from the Constituent Assembly, leaving it to Soviet power to take the final decision on the attitude to the counter-revolutionary section of the Constituent Assembly.
On the basis of all the achievements of the October Revolution, and in accordance with the Declaration of the Working and Exploited People adopted at the meeting of the Central Executive Committee of January 16, 1918, all power in the Russian Republic belongs to the Soviets and the Soviet institutions. Accordingly, any attempt by any person or institution whatsoever to usurp any of the functions of state power will be regarded as a counter-revolutionary act. All such attempts will be suppressed by every means at the disposal of the Soviet power, including the use of armed force.
Comrades, I greet you as the living embodiment of the Russian proletariat’s determination to fight for the triumph of the Russian revolution, for the triumph of its great slogans not only in this country, but also among the peoples of the whole world. I greet you as the first heroic volunteers of the socialist army, who are to build up a mighty revolutionary army. This army is called upon to safeguard the gains of the revolution and our people’s power, the Soviets of Soldiers’, Workers’ and Peasants’ Deputies, the whole of this new and truly democratic system, against the attacks of all the enemies of the people, who are bending all efforts to destroy the revolution. See more
These enemies are the world capitalists who are now organising a crusade against the Russian revolution, which holds out the prospect of liberation to all working people. We must show that we are a force capable of overcoming every obstacle on the way to world revolution. Let the example of the comrades going into the trenches buoy up the weak, steady the hesitant and rouse the weary. The peoples hear our revolution’s clarion call and are awakening; our army’s ranks will soon be swelled by the proletarian forces of other countries and we shall no longer be alone.
We were not able to have much of a “rest” - after four days we had to go to Petersburg. For some reason, memories of the wintry journey have stayed with me, travelling through the Finnish pine forests, the glorious morning and Ilyich’s preoccupied, thoughtful face. He was thinking of the struggle ahead. The question of the Constituent Assembly must be decided soon. It has been arranged for the 18 January.
President Wilson's speech of December 26th has just been delivered to Brest-Litovsk by Colonel Raymond Robins. I'm sending it to you. I hope it will be properly used.
Snow is covering half of our windows now. And yet it isn’t a white Christmas - it’s a black one, a black one. The Constituent Assembly is scheduled for the 18th, but now they are openly stating in their newspapers that it’s “useless”, or should be their “clerk or servant”, or even “broken apart by a revolutionary force.” See more
I think that’s exactly what will happen. Although - who can tell right now. I’m not sure what the Socialist Revolutionaries will do: will they be dishonest or powerless? Chernov is capable of any sort of betrayal.
My wife and I recall with great pleasure the time we met you in Paris, rue Bonier. We are very grateful to you for the exchange of ideas and for the very accurate information on the socialist movement in France. See more
I very much regret that personal relations between us became impossible after such profound political differences divided us. Throughout the war I fought against the “national defence” trend, I always stood for a split, being convinced that that tendency was ruining socialism completely.
It goes without saying that I am writing this letter not as a member of the government but as a private individual.
Please accept our greetings, dear citizen, and best wishes from my wife and myself.
From the 29th to the morning of the 3rd I was in Vienna. Two long audiences with the Emperor gave me the opportunity of telling him what had passed at Brest. He fully approves, of course, the point of view that peace must be made, if at all possible. See more
I have dispatched a trustworthy agent to the outer provinces in order to ascertain the exact state of feeling there. He reports that all are against the Bolsheviks except the Bolsheviks themselves. Th entire body of citizens, peasants—in a word, everyone with any possessions at all—trembles at the thought of these red robbers, and wishes to go over to Germany. The terrorism of Lenin is said to be indescribable, and in Petersburg all are absolutely longing for the entry of the German troops to deliver them.
Having heard the report of Comrade Proshyan, who, as a delegate to the Peasants Congress, had a talk with Vinnichenko, Grushevsky, Porsh and others, in their capacity of official representatives of the Rada; and considering that these official representatives of the Rada have expressed their readiness in principle to negotiate an agreement with the Council of People’s Commissars on the basis of recognition by the Council of People’s Commissars of the independence of the people’s Ukrainian republic, and the Rada’s recognition of the counter-revolutionary nature of Kaledin and his accomplices; See more
considering further that the Council of People’s Commissars has always unconditionally recognised the right of every nation, including the Ukrainian, to exist as an independent state; that any attempt to avoid war with the Rada, provided the Rada recognised Kaledin’s counter-revolutionary nature and did not hamper the war against him, was undoubtedly desirable; expressing its conviction that only the Soviets of the Ukrainian poor peasants, workers and soldiers could set up a power in the Ukraine under which clashes between fraternal peoples would be impossible, the Council of People’s Commissars, deeming it appropriate at the same time to open effective negotiations with the Rada with the aim of stopping the clashes caused by the Rada’s policy in respect of the common front and Kaledin’s counterrevolutionary revolt, resolves:
to invite the Rada to negotiate an agreement on the above-mentioned principles and to designate the town of Smolensk or Vitebsk as being probably the most convenient place for the negotiation.
As the answer to the appeal of the Finnish Government to recognise the independence of the Republic of Finland, the Soviet of People's Commissars, in full accordance with the principle of nations' right to self-determination, propose to the Central Executive Committee that:
The independence of the Republic of Finland as a country is recognised. See more
And a special Commission, in agreement with the Finnish Government, comprising members of both parties, should be instituted to elaborate those practical measures that follow from the partition of Finland from Russia.
Two questions now take precedence over all other political questions—the question of bread and the question of peace. The imperialist war, the war between the biggest and richest banking firms, Britain and Germany, that is being waged for world domination, the division of the spoils, for the plunder of small and weak nations; See more
this horrible, criminal war has ruined all countries, exhausted all peoples, and confronted mankind with the alternative—either sacrifice all civilisation and perish or throw off the capitalist yoke in the revolutionary way, do away with the rule of the bourgeoisie and win socialism and durable peace. If socialism is not victorious, peace between the capitalist States will be only a truce, an interlude, a time of preparation for a fresh slaughter of the peoples.
Peace and bread are the basic demands of the workers and the exploited. The war has made these demands extremely urgent. The war has brought hunger to the most civilised countries, to those most culturally developed. On the other hand, the war, as a tremendous historical process, has accelerated social development to an unheard-of degree. Capitalism had developed into imperialism, i.e., into monopoly capitalism, and under the influence of the war it has become state monopoly capitalism. We have now reached the stage of world economy that is the immediate stepping stone to socialism.
The socialist revolution that has begun in Russia is, therefore, only the beginning of the world socialist revolution. Peace and bread, the overthrow of the bourgeoisie, revolutionary means for the healing of war wounds, the complete victory of socialism—such are the aims of the struggle.
Listen to their loud cries that Soviet power is repudiated by the majority in Russia. You know the worth of all this clamour. There is a flood of telegrams saying that troops are moving on Petrograd, against the gains of the October Revolution. We throw them into the waste-paper basket, being fully aware that we shall not have to wait long for a refutation.
Every direct or indirect attempt to consider the question of the Constituent Assembly from a formal, legal point of view, within the framework of ordinary bourgeois democracy and disregarding the class struggle and civil war, would be a betrayal of the proletariat’s cause, and the adoption of the bourgeois standpoint. See more
The revolutionary Social-Democrats are duty bound to warn all and sundry against this error, into which a few Bolshevik leaders, who have been unable to appreciate the significance of the October uprising and the tasks of the dictatorship of the proletariat, have strayed.
The only chance of securing a painless solution to the crisis which has arisen owing to the divergence between the elections to the Constituent Assembly, on the one hand, and the will of the people and the interests of the working and exploited classes, on the other, is for the people to exercise as broadly and as rapidly as possible the right to elect the members of the Constituent Assembly anew, and for the Constituent Assembly to accept the law of the Central Executive Committee on these new elections, to proclaim that it unreservedly recognises Soviet power, the Soviet revolution, and its policy on the questions of peace, the land and workers’ control, and to resolutely join the camp of the enemies of the CadetConstitutional-Democrat-Kaledin counter-revolution.