A History of Bolshevism: From Marx to the First Five Years' Plan

By Arthur Rosenberg; Ian F. D. Morrow | Go to book overview

VI
THE BOLSHEVIK REVOLUTION AND WAR-TIME
COMMUNISM, 1917-21

EVER since September 1917 Lenin had been convinced that the Bolshevik Party must achieve power by a revolution. In October, from his hiding-place in Finland, he bombarded the Central Committee of the Party with letters and articles demanding a revolution, examining every possibility with the greatest care, and suggesting a solution for every difficulty. These letters are unique in their mixture of burning emotion and cold-blooded reflection. His chief concern was lest the Kerensky Government should disappear in an anarchical chaos. For that would mean that the Bolsheviks had missed their opportunity and could never regain it.

Among the Party leaders the followers of Zinoviev and Kamenev were opposed to a revolution which promised to result in the isolation of the Bolsheviks, and which therefore seemed to be no more than an experiment that must end in disaster. Nevertheless, Lenin was successful, with Trotsky's support, in winning over the Party for his plan. On October 10 (23) Lenin attended the secret sitting of the Central Committee at which it was resolved that the sole means of saving Russia and the Revolution lay in a Bolshevik Revolution for the purpose of placing the entire executive authority in the hands of the Soviets. Only two votes were cast against a resolution that bound the Party to a definite course of action.

On October 25 (Old Style; November 7, New Style) the All-Russian Congress of Soviets was to meet in Petrograd, and it was anticipated that the Bolsheviks would have a majority in the Congress in consequence of the change that had come over public opinion during the summer. If the Congress resolved that the whole authority in the State should pass to the Soviets, then it must be prepared to take power into its own hands, i.e. to overthrow the Kerensky Government. Hence October 25 (November 7) would be a decisive day in Russian history. It was clear that it must be the day on which the Bolsheviks raised the standard of revolt.

-105-

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A History of Bolshevism: From Marx to the First Five Years' Plan
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface to the English Translation v
  • Preface vii
  • Contents *
  • I - Marx to Lenin, 1843-1893 1
  • II - Revolution in Russia, 1893-1914 20
  • III - The World War 41
  • IV - The Third International 64
  • V - March to October 1917 81
  • VI - The Bolshevik Revolution and War-Time Communism, 1917-21 105
  • VII - The Third International at the Height of Its Revolutionary Power, 1919-21 128
  • VIII - The Great Change 151
  • IX - Lenin's Testament, 1922-4 170
  • X - Stalin Versus Trotsky, 1924-7 193
  • XI - 'socialism in a Single Land', 1927-32 220
  • Bibliography 241
  • Index 247
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