The Leninist article “On the tasks of the proletariat in this revolution,” better known as the “April Theses,” was published in the Pravda newspaper and literally “blew up” revolutionary Petrograd. Against the leader of the Bolsheviks, the rival socialist parties and the Petro-Soviet fought, the "Theses" were called "crazy lunatic", and Lenin himself was accused of blatant anarchism. Even in Pravda, the main publication of the RSDLP (b), the article was not published as an editorial commentary, not as an approved party document or guide to action, but as a personal point of view with a personal signature. Today it is hard to believe, but even the Bolsheviks did not support the policy provisions of their leader. Even Pravda, led by fiery revolutionaries Muranov, Stalin and Kamenev.
However, by October 1917, very few could, with a clear conscience, repeat the characteristics of the text that had been abandoned to Lenin just six months ago.
The split of the Bolsheviks
In previous publications of the “Questions of the Revolution” cycle, dedicated to the pre-anniversary year, we have repeatedly noted how difficult and ambiguous the situation was after the February socialist parties (first of all, the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries), themselves dogmatically following the provisions of Marxism and interpreting the revolution as bourgeois . As a result, the reins of power were de jure transferred to the bourgeois Provisional Government, but it had no real levers of power — the very same Socialist Petrograd Soviet, relying on the revolutionary masses of workers and soldiers, acted behind its back. By March, a certain status quo was established in the political life of the country, today called the “dual power”.
The events taking place could not but affect the Bolshevik Party, which completely shifted to the legal position in February, fully received the laurels of fighters for the freedom of the people, which were due to it, and unexpectedly found themselves in the mainstream of the political process. In general, this is a serious test for any party: there is always a real danger to get involved in the political process, forgetting about party goals, immediately take advantage of the fruits of the revolution, stand, if not at the helm, then at the wheel of government. In the case of the RSDLP (b), the situation was aggravated by the actual lack of leadership. Lenin was abroad, the main party leading cadres were in exile, the Russian Bureau of the RSDLP (B) was defeated, local organizations lost contact with the center and with each other.
Formally, by the 1916, the Russian Bureau was nevertheless restored by Alexander Shlyapnikov - one of the best turners of St. Petersburg, a revolutionary, underground worker, political emigrant (he worked abroad in factories in France and Germany, where he perfectly mastered the languages), but not a politician. It was Shlyapnikov who had to determine the attitude of the party towards the accomplished February revolution. It was formulated in the Manifesto of the RSDLP (b) "To all citizens of Russia": "The workers of factories and factories, as well as the insurgent troops, must immediately elect their representatives to the Provisional Revolutionary Government, which must be created under the protection of the insurgent revolutionary people and the army." Then Shlyapnikov confidently followed this course - in the first seven issues of the Pravda newspaper, which was recreated after the revolution, the bourgeois Provisional Government that had come out of the Duma was condemned, and it was thought that the Soviets should create a democratic republic.
It should be understood that the Bolsheviks who were in the revolutionary whirlpool, with their weak leadership, were surrounded by much more authoritative and respectable representatives of other socialist parties who were creating history. As a result, already in March, the Petrograd Committee of the RSDLP (B) refused to support the resolution of the Russian Bureau condemning the Provisional Government and adopted its own document in which support was expressed to the established order of things. So dual power arose in the RSDLP (b).
The “old” Bolsheviks who returned from exile, the members of the Central Committee of the Party, Stalin, Kamenev and Muranov, brought additional confusion. Under their leadership in the editorial policy of Pravda, there was a quiet ideological upheaval, the newspaper began to publish materials in which one could easily make out the hand of friendship stretched out to the socialist parties of the Petrograd Soviet. At the same time, the position taken earlier in relation to the bourgeois Provisional Government was revised, it was said only about the need for socialists to control it. If Shlyapnikov became an antagonist of the Petrograd Soviet, the “old” Bolsheviks obviously went to reconciliation and were in a hurry to take their place in the new political system.
Lenin disappoints everyone
In April, 1917, Lenin returned from exile to Petrograd. At the Finland Station the leader of the Bolsheviks was prepared for a solemn meeting. In the imperial waiting room, he was greeted by the leaders of the Petrograd Soviet. Menshevik Chkheidze delivered a welcoming speech: “Comrade Lenin, on behalf of the Petersburg Council of Workers 'and Soldiers' Deputies and the whole revolution, we welcome you to Russia. We believe that the main task of revolutionary democracy is now to defend our revolution against all encroachments on it, both from within and from without. We believe that for this purpose it is necessary not to separate, but to unite the ranks of the whole democracy. We hope you will pursue these goals with us. ”
The delegates welcomed the ally, clearly hoping that all previous differences were resolved by the very fact of the accomplished bourgeois revolution. The tone of Pravda of the last days gave every reason for this. Lenin, having turned away from the delegation, addressed with a response word through the window to the crowd gathered in the square: “Dear comrades, soldiers, sailors and workers! I am happy to welcome in your person the victorious Russian revolution, to welcome you as the vanguard of the world proletarian army ... The predatory imperialist war is the beginning of a civil war in the whole of Europe ... The hour is near when the nations will turn weapon against their capitalist exploiters ... The dawn of the world socialist revolution is already underway ... In Germany everything is in full swing ... Not now - tomorrow, the collapse of all European imperialism can break out every day. The Russian revolution, accomplished by you, laid a foundation for it and opened a new era. Long live the world socialist revolution! ”
Keywords: Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin, history of Russia, history of the USSR, memorials, February revolution, revolution issues
Lenin's speech made a shocking impression on the representatives of the Petrograd Soviet. There was not a word about the problems that they were facing, as they saw them, the question of power was not touched upon, there were no hints of the possible unification of socialist forces. Lenin spoke of a socialist revolution, the prerequisites of which, in his opinion, matured in Europe, while the majority of the Council thought in terms of the bourgeois revolution and its place in it. “The whole“ context ”of our revolution spoke to Lenin about Thomas, and he right from the window of his sealed-up car, without asking anyone, listening to no one, blurted out about Yeremu,” the Menshevik Sukhanov, a delegate of the Executive Committee, described his impressions.
In the evening of the same day, for the first time, the Bolsheviks in the Kshesinskaya mansion, Lenin spoke for the first time in front of the party members with the April Theses. Trotsky recalled: “The theses of Lenin were published on his own, and only on his behalf. The headquarters of the party met them with hostility, which was softened only by bewilderment. No one - neither the organization, nor the group, nor the person - attached his signature to them. ”
The Theses at a joint meeting of the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks, the delegates of the All-Russian Conference of Soviets of Workers 'and Soldiers' Deputies, were met even more sharply. The meeting was conceived almost as a unifying congress, Lenin’s speech violated all seemingly ready-made plans. Those gathered in the hall of the Tauride Palace were in shock. Menshevik Bogdanov, a member of the Executive Committee of the Council, shouted in anger: “After all, this is nonsense, this is nonsense for a madman! It is a shame to applaud this nonsense, you disgrace yourself! Marxists! ”
A Menshevik Tsereteli, a member of the Executive Committee of the Petrograd Soviet, volunteered to object to Lenin, accusing the Bolshevik leader of a new attempt to split the RSDLP. He was supported by a large majority of the assembly, including many Bolsheviks. In subsequent speeches, much was said that the theses of Lenin were undisguised anarchism. In turn, the Bolshevik Steklov, who took the floor, said: “Lenin's speech consists of some abstract constructions proving that the Russian revolution passed by him. After Lenin becomes familiar with the state of affairs in Russia, he himself will abandon all of his constructions. ”
Sukhanov recalled: “Real, factional Bolsheviks also did not hesitate, at least in private backroom discussions, to interpret Lenin’s“ abstractness ”. And one expressed himself even in the sense that Lenin’s speech did not generate or deepen, but, on the contrary, destroyed disagreements among the social democracy, since there can be no disagreement between the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks in relation to the Leninist position. ”
Unheard of revolution
What did Lenin say so crying? The coming to power of the bourgeoisie, he said, became possible due to "insufficient consciousness and organization of the proletariat." But this deficiency can be corrected: "The peculiarity of the current moment in Russia is the transition from the first stage of the revolution, which gave power to the bourgeoisie, to its second stage, which should give power to the hands of the proletariat and the poorest strata of the peasantry."
According to Lenin, it is impossible to render "no support to the Provisional Government", since it is unthinkable, "that this government, the government of the capitalists, cease to be imperialist." According to Lenin, it was necessary to "explain to the masses" that the Council of Workers' Deputies "is the only possible form of a revolutionary government." “Not a parliamentary republic,” he said, “a return to it from S. R. D. would be a step backwards, but a republic of Soviets of workers, farm and peasant deputies throughout the country, from top to bottom.”
The leader of the Bolsheviks, it turned out, in spite of Marxism, denied the bourgeois nature of the revolution, rejected the gradual change of formations, ignored everything that was done by the revolutionary Social Council of Petrograd Soviet by that time, refused to trust the Provisional Government, did not recognize that the next legitimate stage in the historical development of Russia should become a parliamentary republic on the model of the parliamentary republics of bourgeois European states. He called for the power of the Soviets!
The revolutionary socialists themselves at that time perceived the Soviets, on the one hand, as sectoral self-organization (Soviets of factories, industries — for example, rail transport, more broadly — Soviets of workers, Soviets of peasants) —and Lenin, it turns out, took the position of anarcho-syndicalism. And, on the other hand, as a manifestation of ochlocracy, and in this case Lenin rose to the position of pure anarchism. In any case, in the opinion of the majority of the Petrosoviet, these theses really had nothing in common with Marxism and were frank nonsense.
Another question is that the whole political situation in Russia after the February revolution can be called frankly delusional. The power system that Petrosoviet tried to build perfectly matched the Marxist dogma, but obviously contradicted the nature of what was happening. The bourgeoisie did not lead the revolutionary masses, it didn’t even rush to power. And among the workers, the soldiers, the overwhelming majority of the peasantry, socialist ideas prevailed. Finally, the Soviets, as an alternative to the Tsarist system of self-organization and management, were born and strengthened during the time of the 1905 Revolution. And massively revived in Russia after February.
By the fall of 1917, 1429 Soviets of Workers ', Soldiers' and Peasants 'Deputies' Councils, 33 of the Council of Soldiers 'Deputies, 455 Soviets of Peasants' Deputies operated in the country. There were provincial, district, volost Soviets of peasant deputies, on the front, the functions of the Soviets were carried out by regimental, divisional, corps, army, front-line and other soldiers' committees. It was a real system emerging from below, with its own self-formed structure and hierarchy. It was possible not to notice her, only entangled in his own ideological constructions.
Lenin's “April Theses” not so much departed from Marxism, but pushed his socialist colleagues into this sore point. However, there were no Petro-Soviet ways to solve the problem until the October Revolution, when the power of the Soviets proclaimed the II All-Russian Congress of Soviets.