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Part Two: 1914 to 1917 
The Boycott of the Pro-parliament

Already by the last day of the "Democratic Conference", October 5th , Lenin had become convinced that, in view of the development of the revolution, it had been a mistake for the Bolsheviks to participate in this "hideous fraud":
"The more one reflects on the meaning of the so-called Democratic Conference, . . the more firmly convinced one becomes that our Party has committed a mistake by participating in it. . . .
A new revolution is obviously growing in the country, a revolution . . of the proletariat and the majority of the peasants, the poorest peasantry, against the bourgeoisie, against its ally, Anglo-French finance capital, against its governmental apparatus headed by the Bonapartist Kerensky.
We should have boycotted the Democratic Conference; we all erred by not doing so."
(V. I. Lenin: "From a Publicist’s Diary", in: "Collected Works", Volume 21, Book 1;. London; n.d. p. 249, 253).
On this basis, Lenin proceeded to fight for a policy of boycotting the new fraud, the Pre-parliament:
"This pre-parliament . . is in substance a Bonapartist fraud. . . .
The tactics of participating in the pre-parliament., are incorrect. They do not correspond to the objective interrelation of classes, to the objective conditions of the moment..
We must boycott the pre-parliament. We must leave it and go to the Soviets of Workers', Soldiers’ and Peasants' Deputies, to the trade unions, to the masses in general . . .We must give them a correct and clear slogan to disperse the Bonapartist gang of Kerensky with his forged pre-parliament."
(V.I.Lenin ibid.; p. 252 253).
However, before Lenin’s letter had been received, on October 3rd the Central Committee of the Party had convened a meeting of the Central Committee extended to include members of the Petrograd Committee and the Bolshevik delegates to the Democratic Conference. Stalin and Trotsky reported in favour of boycotting the Pre-parliament, while Lev Kamenev and Viktor Nogin reported in favour of participation, and were supported by David Riazanov and Aleksei Rykov. The conference adopted a resolution in favour of participation by 77 votes to 50. 

On October 6th , Lenin demanded a reversal of this decision:
"Trotsky was for the boycott. Bravo, Comrade Trotsky!

Boycottism was defeated in the fraction of the Bolsheviks who came to the Democratic Conference. 
Long live the boycott!
We cannot and must not reconcile ourselves to participation under any condition.

We must at all costs strive to have the boycott question solved in the plenum of the Central Committee and at an extraordinary party congress. .

There is not the slightest doubt that in the ‘top’ of our Party we note vacillations that may become ruinous, because the struggle is developing."
(V. I. Lenin: ibid.; p. 254).
The Central Committee of the Party did, in fact, convene a Party Congress for October 30th., 1917. In his theses intended for this congress, Lenin wrote:
"The participation of our Party in the 'preparliament' . . is an obvious error and a deviation from the proletarian-revolutionary road. . . .
When the revolution is thus rising, to go to a make-believe parliament, concocted to deceive the people, means to facilitate this deception, to make the cause of preparing the revolution more difficult. . . .
The Party congress, therefore, must recall, the members of our Party from the pre-parliament, declare a boycott against it"'.
(V. I. Lenin: 'Theses . . for a Resolution and Instructions to Those Elected to the Party Congress", in: 'Collected Works", Volume 21, Book 2; London; nd.; p. 61).
However, the convocation of the congress proved unnecessary, and was cancelled by the Central Committee. On October 18th , the Central Committee adopted a resolution to boycott the pre-parliament, against only one dissentient vote. The dissentient, Lev Kamenev, asked that a statement by him be attached to the minutes of the meeting: 
"I think that your decision to withdraw from the very first session of the 'Soviet of the Russian Republic' predetermines the tactics of the Party during the next period in a direction which I personally consider quite dangerous for the Party".
(L. Kamenev: Statement to CC, RSDLP, October 18th., 1917, cited in: V. I. Lenin: in: "Collected Works"; Volume 21; Book 1; London; n.d.; p. 302).
On the opening day of the Pre-parliament, October 20th., Trotsky read a declaration on behalf of the Bolsheviks: 
"We, the fraction of Social-Democrats-Bolsheviks, declare: with this government of traitors to the people and with this council of counter-revolutionary connivance we have-nothing in common. We do not wish to cover up, directly or indirectly, not even for a single day, that work which is being carried out behind the official screen and which is fatal to the people. . .
In withdrawing from the Provisional Council we appeal to the vigilance and courage of the workers, soldiers and peasants of all Russia.
We appeal to the people.
All power to the Soviets!
All the land to the people!
Long live the immediate, honourable, democratic peace!
Long live the Constituent Assembly! "
(Declaration of the Bolshevik Fraction Read in the Pre-parliament, October 20th 1917, cited in: V. I. Lenin: "Collected Works", Volume 21, Book 2; London n.d.; p. 324).
The Bolsheviks then walked out of the Pre-parliament.
The Central Committee Meeting of October 23rd.

Two days after the Bolsheviks walked out of the Pre-parliament, there took place, on October 23rd, the famous session of the Central Committee of the Russian Social-Democratic Party at which the decision to launch the insurrection was taken.

Twelve of the twenty-one members of the CC were present, including Lenin disguised in wig and spectacles.

The minutes of the meeting recorded the main points only of Lenin's statement:
"Lenin states that since the beginning of September a certain indifference towards the question has been noted. He says that this is inadmissible, if we earnestly raise the slogan of seizure of power by the Soviets. It is, therefore, high time to turn attention to the technical side of the question. Much time has obviously been lost.

Nevertheless, the question is very urgent and the decisive moment is near. . . .
The absenteeism and the indifference of the masses can be explained by the fact that the masses are tired of words and resolutions.
The majority is now with us. Politically, the situation has become entirely ripe for the transfer of power."

(Minutes of the Central Committee of the RSDLP, October 23, 1917, cited in: V. I. Lenin: "Collected Works", Volume 21, B k 2; London; n.d.; p. 106).

Lenin then moved a resolution which ended:
"Recognising thus that an armed uprising is inevitable and the time perfectly ripe, the Central Committee proposes to all the organisations of the Party to act accordingly and to discuss and decide from this point of view all the practical questions".
(Resolution of Central Committee, RSDLP, October 23rd 1917, cited in: ibid; p; 107).
The resolution was carried by ten votes to two – the dissentients being Grigori Zinoviev and Lev Kamenev.

The Campaign of Kamenev and Zinoviev_against the Central Committee’s Decision on the Insurrection On October 24th, Lev Kamenev and Grigori Zinoviev sent a joint memorandum to the principal organisations of the Party attacking the Central Committee’s decision of the previous day to launch an insurrection: 
"The Congress of Soviets has been called for November 2. . . It must become the centre of the consolidation around the Soviets of all proletarian and demi-proletarian organisations. . . As yet there is no firm organisational connection between these organisations and the Soviets. . . But such a connection is in any case a preliminary condition for the actual carrying out of the slogan "All power to the Soviets?. . . .  
Under these conditions it would be a serious historical untruth to formulate the question of the transfer of power into the hands of the proletarian party in the terms: either now or never.

No. The party of the proletariat will grow.. . . And there is only one way in which the proletarian party can interrupt its successes, and that is if under present conditions it takes upon itself to initiate an uprising and thus expose the proletarians to the blows of the entire consolidated counter-revolution, supported by the petty-bourgeois democracy.
Against this pernicious policy we raise our voices in warning."
(G. Zinoviev & L. Kamenev Statement to Party Organisations October 24th, 1917, cited in V. I. Lenin: "Collected Works", Volume 21, Book 2; London; nd.; p. 332).
A few days later the statement was distributed in leaflet form in Petrograd.

Trotsky's "Soviet Constitutionalism"

Trotsky’s opposition to Lenin's call to insurrection was more subtle than that of Kamenev and Zinoviev.

Whereas the latter openly opposed Lenin’s demands for immediate preparations for insurrection, Trotsky supported these demands in words. He insisted however, in the name of "Soviet constitutionalism" that the actual call to insurrection should be issued not by the Petrograd Soviet, and certainly not by the Party, but by the Second All-Russian Congress of Soviets.

As Trotsky's sympathetic biographer Isaac Deutscher expresses it:

"Trotsky was approaching the problem from his new point of vantage as President of the Petrograd Soviet. He agreed with Lenin on the chances and the urgency of insurrection. But he disagreed with him over method, especially over the idea that the party should stage the insurrection in its own name and on its own responsibility. He took less seriously than Lenin the threat of an immediate counter-revolution. Unlike Lenin, he was confident that the pressure of the Bolshevik majority in the Soviets would not allow the old Central Executive to delay much longer the All-Russian Congress. . . . . . 
Lenin . . refused to let insurrection wait until the Congress convened, because he was convinced that the Menshevik Executive would delay the Congress to the Greek Calends, and that the insurrection would never take place as it would be forestalled by a successful counter-revolution.. . .
 The difference between Lenin and Trotsky centred on whether the rising itself ought to be conceived in terms of Soviet constitutionalism. The tactical risk inherent in Trotsky’s attitude was that it imposed certain delays upon the whole plan of action... 
Lenin . . viewed Trotsky's attitude in the matter of insurrection with uneasiness, and even suspicion. He wondered whether, by insisting that the rising should be linked with the Congress of the Soviets, Trotsky was not biding his time and delaying action until it would be too late. If this had been the case, then Trotsky would have been, from Lenin's viewpoint, an even more dangerous opponent than Kamenev and Zinoviev, whose attitude had at least the negative merit that it was unequivocal and that it flatly contradicted the whole trend of Bolshevik policy. Trotsky's attitude, on the contrary, seemed to follow from the party’s policy and therefore carried more conviction with the Bolsheviks; the Central Committee was in fact inclined to adopt it. In his letters, Lenin therefore sometimes controverted Trotsky's view almost as strongly as Zinoviev's and Kamencv's, without, however, mentioning Trotsky by name. To wait for the rising until the Congress of Soviets, he wrote, was just as treasonable as to wait for Kerensky to convoke the Constituent Assembly, as Zinoviev and Kamenev wanted to do."
(I. Deutscher: "The Prophet Armed Trotsky: 1879-1921"; London; 1970; pp. 290-29l, 294-95).
Lenin's objections to Trotsky's line on this question were twofold:

Firstly: it would mean dangerous delay in calling the insurrection;

Secondly: since the calling of the Second Congress of Soviets was constitutionally in the hands of the Central Executive Committee (C.E.C) - elected at the First Congress of Soviets in June and dominated by Mensheviks and SocialistRevolutionaries -- it would mean permitting counterrevolutionaries, and not the revolutionary vanguard Party, to "fix the date of the insurrection", or even to postpone it indefinitely.

In this connection, it must be remembered that the First Congress of Soviets had instructed the C.E.C. to summon a new congress "within three months", i.e. not later than September. The C.E.C however, justifiably fearing that the Bolsheviks would have a majority at the congress, violated this instruction. Only under the extreme pressure of the Bolsheviks at the time of the Democratic Conference did the C.E.C. reluctantly agree to convoke the congress for November 2nd . On October 31st, however, it postponed the congress to November 7th.

Lenin saw Trotsky's line as either -- and he left the question open – "absolute idiocy" or "complete betrayal", and he attacked it continuously up to the moment of the insurrection itself:

On October l0th :
"The general political situation causes me great anxiety . . The government has an army, and is preparing itself systematically.

And what do we do? We only pass resolutions. We lose time. We set 'dates' (November 2, the Soviet Congress - is it not ridiculous to put it off so long? Is it not ridiculous to rely on that?"
(V. I. Lenin: Letter to I.T. Smilga, October 10th., 1917; in: 'Collected Works', Volume 21, Book 1; London; n.d.; p. 265).
On October 12th:

'Yes, the leaders of the Central Executive Committee are pursuing tactics whose sole logic is the defence of the bourgeoisie and the landowners. And there is not the slightest doubt that the Bolsheviks, were they to allow themselves to be caught in the trap of constitutional illusions, of ‘faith’ in the Congress of Soviets. . . . of waiting' for the Congress of Soviets, etc. -- that such Bolsheviks would prove miserable traitors to the proletarian cause. . . 
The crisis has matured. The whole future of the Russian Revolution is at stake. The whole honour of the Bolshevik Party is in question. .  
We must . . admit the truth, that in our Central Committee and at the top of our Party there is a tendency in favour of awaiting the Congress of Soviets, against the immediate seizure of power, against an immediate uprising. We must overcome this tendency or opinion. 
Otherwise the Bolsheviks would cover themselves with shame forever; they would be reduced to nothing as a party.  
For to miss such a moment and to 'await' the Congress of Soviets is either absolute idiocy or complete betrayal.. . .  
To 'await' the Congress of Soviets is absolute idiocy, for this means losing weeks, whereas weeks and even days now decide everything. . .  
To 'await' the Congress of Soviets is idiocy, for the Congress will give nothing, it can give nothing!. . . 
First vanquish Kerensky, then call the Congress.  
The victory of the uprising is now secure for the Bolsheviks . . if we do not 'await' the Soviet Congress. . . . 
To refrain from seizing power at present, to ‘wait’, to 'chatter' in the Centra1 Committee, to confine ourselves . . to 'fighting for the Congress' means to ruin the revolution."
(V. I. Lenin: 'The Crisis has Matured", in: ibid.; p. 275, 276, 277, 278).
Only when Lenin took the extreme step of resigning from the Central Committee in order to fight for his line in the lower organs of the Party (on October l2th) did a majority accept Lenin's line on this question:

"I am compelled to tender my resignation from the Central Committee which I hereby do, leaving myself the freedom of propaganda in the lower ranks of the Party and at the Party Congress. 
For it is my deepest conviction that if we 'await’ the Congress of Soviets and let the present moment pass, we ruin the revolution."
(V. I. Lenin: ibid.; p. 278).
Although Lenin withdrew his resignation when the Central Committee voted for a boycott of the Pre-parliament, Trotsky continued to fight for his line and Lenin continued to fight against it:

On October 16-20: 
"Events indicate our task so clearly to us that hesitation actually becomes a crime.. . . To ‘wait’ under such conditions is a crime.  
The Bolsheviks have no right to wait for the Congress of Soviets; they must take power immediately. 
To wait for the Congress of Soviets means to play a childish game of formality, a shameful game of formality; it means to betray the revolution."  
(V. I. Lenin: Letter to the Central Committee, Moscow Committee, Petrograd Committee, and the Bolshevik Members of the Petrograd and Moscow Soviets, October 16-20, 1917; in: "Collected Works", Volume 21, Book 2; London; n.d.; p. 69).
On October 21st:
"We must not wait for the All-Russian Congress of Soviets, which the Central Executive Committee may postpone till November; we must not tarry.. . .  
Near Petrograd and in Petrograd -- this is where this uprising can and must be decided upon and carried out . . as quickly as possible.. . .. 
Delay means death."
(V. I. Lenin: Letter to Bolshevik Comrades Participating in the Regional Congress of the Soviets of the Northern Region, October 21st., 1917,in: ibid.; p. 91).
On November 6th.; (i.e, on the eve of the insurrection):
"The situation is extremely critical. It is as clear as can be that delaying the uprising now really means death.  
With all my power I wish to persuade the comrades that now everything hangs on a hair, that on the order of the day are questions that are not solved by conferences, by congresses (even by Congresses of Soviets), but only . . by the struggle of armed masses.  
The bourgeois onslaught of the Kornilovists, the removal of Verkhovsky, show that we must not wait. We must at any price, this evening, tonight, arrest the Minister, having disarmed (defeated if they offer resistance) the military cadets, etc. 
We must not wait! We may lose everything!. . .  
History will not forgive delay by revolutionists who could be victorious today (and will surely be victorious today!), while they risk losing much tomorrow, they risk losing all.
If we seize power today, we seize it not against the Soviets but for them.  
It would be a disaster or formalism to wait for the uncertain voting of November 7. The people have a right and a duty to decide such questions not by voting but by force.. . . .  
The government is tottering. We must deal it the death blow at any cost. 
To delay action is the same as death".
(V. I. Lenin: Letter to the Members of the Central Committee, November 6th., 1917, in: ibid.; p. 144-145).

Trotsky later felt it expedient to deny the charge that he had sought to accommodate the insurrection to the Second Congress of Soviets: 
"We should search in vain among the minutes or among any memoirs whatever, for any indication of a proposal of Trotsky to 'accommodate the insurrection necessarily to the Second Congress of Soviets'.
(L. Trotsky: "History of the Russian Revolution", Volume 3; London; 1967; p. 332).
Elsewhere in the same work, however, Trotsky makes his own position at the time quite clear.

He reports his declaration 'In the name of the Petrograd Soviet" on November 1st:
"I declare in the name of the Soviet that no armed actions have been settled upon by us.. . . .
The Petrograd Soviet is going to propose to the Congress of Soviets that they seize the power."
(L. Trotsky: Speech to Petrograd Soviet, November 1st., 1917; cited in: L. Trotsky: ibid.; p. 102, 103).
and comments: 
"The Soviet was sufficiently powerful to announce openly its programme of state revolution and even set the date".
(L. Trotsky: ibid.; p. 103).
Trotsky also reports his speech at an emergency session of the Petrograd Soviet on November 6th., 1917 (the day before the insurrection began):
"An armed conflict today or tomorrow is not included in our plan -- on the threshold of the All-Russian Congress of Soviets. We think that the Congress will carry out our slogan with greater power and authority'"
(L. Trotsky: Speech in Petrograd Soviet, November 6th., 1917, cited in: L. Trotsky: ibid.; p. 331-2).
Stalin later referred to:
"the mistake made by the Petrograd Soviet in openly fixing and announcing the date of the uprising. (November 7)."
(J.V. Stalin: "Trotskyism or Leninism? , in: "Works", Volume 6; Moscow, 1953; p. 362).
To which Trotsky replied:
"Where, and when, and from which side, did the Soviet publish abroad the date of the insurrection?"
(L. Trotsky: ibid.; p. 333).
and answers himself:
"It was not the insurrection, but the opening of the Congress of Soviets, which was publicly and in advance set for the 7th. . . 'It flowed from the logic of things’, we wrote subsequently, ‘that we appointed the insurrection for November 7th.' .. . ; 
On the second anniversary of the revolution the author of this book, referring, in the sense just explained, to the fact that:
'the October insurrection was, so to speak, appointed in advance for a definite date, for November 7th., and was accomplished upon exactly that date’,
"We should seek in vain in history for another example of an insurrection which was accommodated in advance by the course of things to a definite date".
(L. Trotsky: ibid.; p. 333-34).
Thus Trotsky, here was admitting the justice of Lenin's comment:
"To 'call' the Congress of Soviets for November 2, in order to decide upon the seizure of power -- is there any difference between this and a foolishly "appointed" uprising?"
(V. I. Lenin: "The Crisis has Matured", in: 'Collected Works", Volume 21, Book l, London; n.d.; p. 277).
According to Trotsky, Lenin’s original plan for the insurrection (to which he adhered up to November 6th.) was that it should be called "'in the name of the Party", and endorsed by the Congress of Soviets when this met:
Lenin's plan, he says,
"presupposed that the preparation and completion of the revolution were to be carried out through party channels and in the name of the party, and afterwards the seal of sanction was to be placed on the victory by the Congress of Soviets."
(L. Trotsky: "Lessons of October"; London; 1971; p. 45).
"In the first weeks he (i.e. Lenin -- Ed.) was decidedly in favour of the independent initiative of the Party".
(L. Trotsky: "History of the Russian Revolution";, Volume 3; London; 1967; p.265-6).
And Trotsky complains, for example, of the resolution drafted by Lenin which was also approved by the Central Committee at its meeting on October 23rd :
"The task of insurrection he presented directly as the task of the party. The difficult task of bringing its preparation into accord with the Soviets is as yet not touched upon. The All-Russian Congress of Soviets does not get a word".
(L. Trotsky: ibid; p. l43).
Trotsky "kindly" attributes Lenin’s "wrong estimates" to his absence from Petrograd":
"Lenin, who was not in Petrograd, could not appraise the full significance of this fact (i.e., the invalidation by the Petrograd Soviet of Kerensky's order transferring two-thirds of the garrison to the front --Ed.) . . . .
Lenin’s counsel . . flowed precisely from the fact that in his underground refuge he had no opportunity to estimate the radical turn."
(L. Trotsky: "Lessons of October" London; 1971; p. 47-48).
"Lenin's isolation . . deprived him of the possibility of making timely estimates of episodic factors and temporary changes.. . . 
If Lenin had been in Petrograd and had carried through at the beginning of October his decision in favour of an immediate insurrection without reference to the Congress of Soviets, he could undoubtedly have given the carrying out of his own plan a political setting which would have reduced its disadvantageous features to a minimum. But it is at least equally probable that he would himself in that case have come round to the plan actually carried out".
(L. Trotsky: "History of the Russian Revolution", Volume 3; London; 1967; p. 327-8).
In fact, Lenin's basic plan was that the insurrection should be planned, timed and led by the Party, through either the Petrograd or the Moscow Soviet -- both of which were now led by the Party -- but not through the Second Congess of Soviets, the calling of which was dependent upon the Central Executive Committee led by Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries. As Stalin comments:
"According to Trotsky, it appears that Lenin's view was that the Party should take power in October ‘independently’ of and behind the back of the Soviet'.

Later in, criticising this nonsense, which he ascribes to Lenin, Trotsky 'cuts capers' and finally delivers the following condescending utterance:
"That would have been a mistake".
Trotsky is here uttering a falsehood about Lenin, he is misrepresenting Lenin's views on the role of the Soviets in the uprising. A pile of documents can be cited showing that Lenin proposed that power be taken through the Soviets, either the Petrograd or the Moscow Soviets, and not behind the back of the Soviets.".
(J.V. Stalin: "Trotskyism or Leninism?", in: 'Works', Volume 6; Moscow; 1953; p. 359-60).
Trotsky's myth goes on to say that the Central Committee "rejected Lenin's plan for the insurrection" and "adopted Trotsky's plan that the insurrection should be called by the Second Congress of Soviets. Only on the evening of November 6th , according to Trotsky was Lenin convinced of the "incorrectness" of his "conspiratorial plan";

"The Central Committee did not adopt this (i.e., Lenin's -- Ed.) proposal the insurrection was led into Soviet channels".
(L. Trotsky: 'Lessons October; London 1971; p. 45).
"When he (i.e., Lenin -- Ed ) arrived in Smolny (i.e., on the evening November 6th , the day before the insurrection -- Ed.) . . I understood that only at that moment had he finally become reconciled to the fact that we had refused the seizure of power by way of a conspirative plan".
(L. Trotsky: "History of the Russian Revolution", Volume 3; London,.1967; P. 345)
As Stalin points out, however, the Central Committee of the Party did not adapt Trotsky’s plan that the insurrection should be called by the Second Congress Of Soviets. In fact, the insurrection had been carried through before the Congress met.
"Lenin proposed that power be taken before November 7th, for two reasons.

Firstly, because the counter-revolutionaries might have surrendered Petrograd (i.e., to the German armies -- Ed ) at any moment, which would have drained the blood of the developing uprising.
Secondly, because the mistake made by the Petrograd Soviet in openly fixing and announcing the day of the uprising (November 7) could not be rectified in any other way than by actually launching the uprising before the legal date set for it. The fact of the matter is that Lenin regarded insurrection as an art, and he could not help knowing that the enemy, informed about the date of the uprising (owing to the carelessness of the Petrograd Soviet) would certainly try to prepare for that day.

Consequently, it was necessary to forestall the enemy, i.e., without fail to launch the uprising before the legal date. This is the chief explanation for the passion with which Lenin in his letters scourged those who made a fetish of the date -- November 7. Events show that Lenin was absolutely right. It is well known that the uprising was launched prior to the All Russian Congress of Soviets. It is well known that power was actually taken before the opening of the All-Russian Congress of Soviets, and it was taken not by the Congress of Soviets, but by the Petrograd Soviet, by the Revolutionary Military Committee. The Congress of Soviets merely took over power from the Petrograd Soviet. That is why Trotsky's lengthy arguments about the importance of Soviet legality are quite beside the point".
(J. V. Stalin: ibid; p. 362).

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