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The Extended Central Committee Meeting of October 29th.

On October 29th., 1917 an extended session of the Central Committee of the RSDLP was held, in which participated representatives of the Petrograd Committee, the Petrograd Regional Committee, the Military Organisation, the Bolshevik Fraction of the Petrograd Soviet, trade unions and factory committees.

Lenin reported on the Central Committee meeting of October 23rd, and read the resolution on insurrection adapted by that meeting. 

Representatives then reported on the situation existing, in their particular sectors.

In the discussion on the present situation, the resolution was strongly opposed by Lev Kamenev and Grigori Zinoviev.

Kamenev said:
"This resolution . . shows how not to carry out an uprising: during this week nothing has been done.. . .  
The results for the week indicate that there are no factors favouring a rising. . We have no apparatus for an uprising; our enemies have a much stronger apparatus, and it has probably further increased during this week. . . In preparing for the Constituent Assembly we do not at all embrace the road of parliamentarism. . . Two tactics are fighting here: the tactic of conspiracy and the tactic of faith in the moving forces of the Russian Revolution".
(L.Kamenev: Speech at Extended Meeting of CC, RSDLP, October 29th., 1917; in: Minutes, cited in: V. I. Lenin: "Collected Works", Volume 21, Book 2: London; n.d.; p. 337).
Zinoviev said:
"The Constituent Assembly will take place in an atmosphere that is revolutionary to the highest degree. Meanwhile, we shall strengthen our forces. The possibility is not eliminated that we, together with the Left S-Rs, shall be in the majority there. ….We have no right to risk, to stake everything on one card.. . . .  
If the congress takes place on the 2nd, we must propose that it should not disband until the constituent assembly convenes. There must be a defensive, waiting tactic. . . It is necessary to reconsider, if possible, the resolution of the CC. . We must definitely tell ourselves that we do not plan an uprising within the next five years".
(G. Zinoviev: Speech at Extended Meeting of CC, RSDLP, October 29th., 1917, in Ibid; p. 36, 337).
Stalin spoke strongly in favour of confirmation of the Central Committee resolution of October 23rd., and this was finally done by 19 votes against 2 -- the dissentients again being Kamenev and Zinoviev.

The Central Committee then continued in session alone, and set up a Military Centre of the Central Committee consisting of Stalin, Sverdlov, Bubnov, Dzerzhinsky and Uritsky.

After the meeting had concluded, Kamenev sent a letter to the Central Committee tendering his resignation from it:
"Not being able to support the point of view expressed in the latest decisions of the CC which define the character of its work, and considering that this position is leading the party of the proletariat to defeat, I ask the CC to recognise that I am no longer a member of the CC".
(L. Kamenev: Letter to CC, RSDLP, October 29th., 1917, cited in: V. I. Lenin: Ibid. ; p. 260).
The Congress of Soviets of the Northern Region

From October 24-26th , 1917 the Congress of Soviets of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies of the Northern Region took place in Petrograd. Since the overwhelming majority of the delegates were Bolsheviks and Left Socialist-Revolutionaries, the Central Executive Committee of the Soviets -- still dominated by Mensheviks and Right Socialist-Revolutionaries -- declared the congress unofficial, and the small Menshevik fraction declared themselves present "for purposes of information only".

The congress declared itself in favour of the_immediate transfer of power to the Soviets, the immediate transfer of land to the peasants, an immediate offer of peace and the convening of the Constituent Assembly at the appointed time.

On October 29-30th Lenin - wrote a long, "Letter to Comrades" in which he refuted point by point the arguments of Kamenev and Zinoviev against the immediate launching of an insurrection.

On October 31st, Kamenev, on behalf of Zinoviev and himself, published a statement in the newspaper "Novaya Zhizn" (New Life) in which he declared that they felt themselves obliged:
"To declare themselves against any attempt to take the initiative of an armed uprising which would be doomed to defeat and which would have the most dangerous effect on the party, the proletariat, the fate of the revolution. To stake everything on the card of an uprising within the next few days would be tantamount to making a step of desperation";
(L. Kamenev: "L. Kamenev About the Uprising", in "Novaya Zhizn", October 31st., 1917, cited in: V. I. Lenin: ibid.; p. 261).
Lenin thundered immediately at the treachery of the "strikebreakers of the Revolution":
"On the eve of the critical day . . two 'outstanding Bolsheviks' attack an unpublished decision of the Party centre in the non-Party press, in a paper which as far as this given problem is concerned goes hand in hand with the bourgeoisie against the workers' party. . . .
I will fight with all my power both in the Central Committee and at the congress to expel them both from the Party.  
I cannot judge from afar how much damage was done to the cause by the strike-breaking action in the non-Party press. Very great practical damage has undoubtedly been caused. To remedy the situation, it is first of all necessary to re-establish the unity of the Bolshevik front by excluding the strike-breakers."
(V. I. Lenin: Letter to the Members of the Bolshevik Party, October 31st., 1917, in: ibid.; p. 129-30, 131).
On the following day he wrote to the Central Committee of the Party:
"A self-respecting Party cannot tolerate strike-breaking and strike-breakers in its midst. This is obvious. The more we think about Zinoviev's and Kamenev's appearance in the non-Party press, the more obvious it becomes that their action has all the elements of strike-breaking in it.  
We cannot refute the gossipy lie of Zinoviev and Kamenev without doing the cause still more harm. Therein lies the boundless meanness, the absolute treacherousness of these two persons, that in the face of the capitalists they have betrayed the strikers' plans. For once we keep silent in the press, everybody will guess how things stand. . . . .  
There can be and must be only one answer to this: an immediate decision of the Central Committee saying that:  
'Recognising in Zinoviev's and Kamenev's appearance in the non-Party press all the elements of strikebreaking, the Central Committee expels both from the Party'. . . .  
The more 'outstanding' the strike-breakers, the more imperative it is to punish them immediately with expulsion."
(V. I. Lenin: Letter to the Central Committee of the RSDLP, November 1st, 1917; in ibid. p. 133, 135, 136).
The Central Committee Meeting of November 2nd. At its meeting on November 2nd., the Central Committee accepted Kamenev's resignation from the CC. It adopted a resolution to the effect:
"that no member of the CC shall have the right to speak against the adopted decisions of the CC",
(Minutes of Meeting of CC, RSDLP, November 2nd., 1917, cited in: V. I. Lenin: "Collected Works", Volume 21, Book 2; London; n.d.; p. 261).
and a more specific resolution imposing:
"Upon Kamenev and Zinoviev the obligation not to make any statements against the decisions of the CC and the line of work laid out by it".
(Ibid.; p. 261).
The Insurrection

On November 5th , the Military Revolutionary Committee of the Petrograd Soviet appointed commissars for all the military detachments under its command. On the same day the Peter and Paul fortress, the last important obstacle to insurrection, declared for the Petrograd Soviet.

In the early morning of November 6th, the Provisional Government attempted to launch a counter-offensive against the revolutionary forces by issuing orders for the arrest of the members of the Revolutionary Military Committee and for the suppression of the central organ of the Bolsheviks, "Rabochy Put" (Workers Path).

By 10 a.m. detachments of Red Guards had placed a guard on the printing plant and editorial offices of the newspaper, and at 11 a.m. the paper came out with a call for the immediate overthrow of the Provisional Government.

In the late evening of November 6th , Lenin arrived at the Smolny which, as the headquarters both of the Petrograd Soviet and of the Bolshevik Party, had become the directing centre of the insurrection. Throughout the night, revolutionary soldiers and workers came to the Smolny and were armed with weapons supplied by the army units from the city's arsenals.

From dawn on November 7th revolutionary troops and Red Guards occupied the Petrograd railway stations, post offices, telegraph offices, telephone exchanges, government offices and the state bank The Pre-Parliament was dispersed. The cruiser "Aurora", controlled by revolutionary sailors, trained its guns on the Winter Palace, the only territory remaining to the Provisional Government.

During the day the Revolutionary Military Committee issued a manifesto: 
" To the Citizens of Russia" drafted by Lenin:"The Provisional Government has been overthrown. The power of state has passed into the hands of the organ of the Petrograd Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies, the Revolutionary Military Committee, which stands at the head of the Petrograd Proletariat and garrison.  
The cause for which the people have fought - the immediate proposal of a democratic peace, the abolition of landed proprietorship, workers' control over production and the creation of a Soviet government -- is assured.  
Long live the revolution of the workers, soldiers, and peasants!"
(V. I. Lenin: "Manifesto of Revolutionary Military Committee of the Petrograd Soviet, November 7th , 1917, in: V. I. Lenin & J. V. Stalin: "'1917: Selected Writings and Speeches"; Moscow; 1938; p. 613).
In one respect the manifesto was slightly premature, for it was not until the evening of November 7th. that revolutionary workers, soldiers and sailors took the Winter Palace by storm and arrested those members of the Provisional Government who had not fled (Kerensky had escaped earlier in the day by car, accompanied by a U.S. Embassy car flying the Stars and Stripes).

At 11 p.m. on November 7th the Second All-Russian Congress of Soviets opened in the Smolny.As Stalin points out: 
"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".
(J. V. Stalin: "Trotskyisn Or Leninism?", in: "Works", Volume 6; Moscow; 1953; p. 362).
The Role of Trotsky in the October Revolution

As Stalin points out, Trotsky, as President of the Petrograd Soviet and of its Revolutionary Military Committee, played an important role in the"October Revolution":
"I am far from denying Trotsky's undoubtedly important role in the uprising.. . . .
It cannot be denied that Trotsky fought well in the period of October . . But Trotsky was not the only one who fought well in the period of October. Even people like the Left Socialist revolutionaries, who then stood side by side with the Bolsheviks, also fought well".
(J. V. Stalin: "Trotskyism or Leninism?", in: "Works', Volume 6; Moscow; 1933; p. 342, 344).
In his myth about the "October Revolution", however, Trotsky was concerned to understimate the leading role of the Party in the revolution, to underestimate the role of Lenin (whose tactics for the insurrection were, he alleges, incorrect), and to overestimate the role of the Military Revolutionary Committee Of the Petrograd Soviet and of himself as Chairman of that Committee.

Thus, Trotsky quotes with obvious approval one of the earlier editions of Lenin's "Collected Works", in which the editors say in a note on Trotsky:
"After the Petrograd Soviet went Bolshevik he was elected its President and in that capacity organised and led the insurrection of November 7th".
(Cited by: L. Trotsky "History of the Russian Revolution", Volume 3; London; 1967; p. 344).
The amendment of this estimation is, alleges Trotsky, due to the fact that:
"The bureaucratic revision of history of the party and the revolution is taking place under Stalin's direct supervision".
(L. Trotsky. Ibid.; p. 343).
Stalin certainly denied the "special role" of Trotsky in the "October Revolution" claimed by Trotsky and his supporters:
"The Trotskyites are vigorously spreading rumours that Trotsky inspired and was the sole leader of the October uprising. . Trotsky himself, by consistently avoiding mention of the Party, the Central Committee and the Petrograd Committee of the Party, by saying nothing about the leading role of these organisations in the uprising and vigorously pushing himself forward as the central figure in the October uprising, voluntarily or involuntarily helps to spread the rumours about the special role he is supposed to have played in the uprising. .. 
I must say, however, that Trotsky did not play any special role in the October uprising, nor could he do so; being chairman of the Petrograd Soviet, he merely carried out the will of the approrpiate Party bodies, which directed every step that Trotsky took.  
On October 29 (at a meeting of the Central Committee of the Party -- Ed.) a practical centre was elected for the organisational leadership of the uprising. Who was elected to this centre?  
The following five: Sverdlov, Stalin, Dzerzhinzky, Bubnov, Uritsky.  
The functions of this practica1 centre: to direct all the practical organs of the uprising in conformity with the directives of the Central Committee. Thus, as you see, something 'terrible' happened at the meeting of the Central Committee, i.e , 'strange to relate' the 'inspirer', the 'chief figure', the 'sole 1eader' of the uprising, Trotsky, was not elected to the practica1 centre, which was called upon to direct the uprising. . . And yet, strictly speaking, there is nothing strange about it, for neither in the party, nor in the October uprising, did Trotsky play any special role, nor could he do so, for he was a relatively new man in our Party in the period of October... He, like all the responsible workers, merely carried out the will of the Central Committee and of its organs. . . This talk about Trotsky's special role is a legend that is being spread by obliging 'Party' gossips.  
This of course, does not mean that the October uprising did not have its inspirer. It did have its inspirer and leader, but his was Lenin, and none other than Lenin, that same Lenin whose resolutions the Central Committee adopted when deciding the question of the uprising, that same Lenin who, in spite of what Trotsky says, was not prevented by being in hiding from being the actual inspirer of the uprising. . . .  
What sort of a 'history' of October is it that begins and ends with attempts to discredit the chief leader of the October uprising, to discredit the Party, which organised and carried out the uprising? Trotsky by his literary pronouncements is making another (yet another!) attempt to create the conditions for substituting Trotskyism for Leninism.".
(J. V. Stalin: 'Trotskyism or Leninism?", in: "Works," Volume 6; Moscow; 1953; p. 341-3, 363, 364).
Trotsky, in his reply, confirms Stalin's charge that he is concerned to underestimate the leading role of the Party in the insurrection. He admits that "the practical centre" of the Central Committee was set up :
"at Lenin's suggestion",
(L. Trotsky: 'History of the Russian Revolution;", Volume 3; London; 1967 p. 339).
But he denies that it or any other party organ guided the insurrection. The insurrection, he declares, was guided by the Revolutionary Committee of the Petrograd Soviet, with Trotsky as its chairman, alone:
"The Military Revolutionary Committee from the moment of its birth had the direct leadership not only of the garrison, but of the Red Guard. . .. No place remained for any other directing centre. . .. .  
There was but one revolutionary centre, that affiliated with the Soviet -- that is, the Military Revolutionary Committee".
(L. Trotsky: ibid.) p. 340, 341).

The Character of the "October Revolution"

Lenin characterised the "October Revolution" as a proletarian-socialist revolution in its main, political content -- since by it the working class in alliance with, and leading, the peasantry seized political poor from the capitalist class. But he characterised it as a bourgeois-democratic revolution in its' economic content -- since it completed the bourgeois-democratic revolutionary tasks which the "February Revolution" did not carry out.
"The immediate and direct aim of the revolution in Russia was a bourgeois-democratic aim, namely to destroy the relics of medievalism and abolish them completely.. . . .  
We brought the bourgeois-democratic revolution to completion has done before.  
We are progressing towards the socialist revolution, consciously, deliberately and undeviatingly, knowing that no Chinese wall separates it from the bourgeois-democratic revolution.. . . . .  
But . . we solved the problems of the bourgeois-democratic revolution in passing, as a "by-product" of the main and real proletarian-revolutionary socialist work".
(V. I. Lenin: "The Fourth Anniversary of the October Revolution", in: "Selected Works", Volume 6; London; 1946; p. 500; 501; 503.)
"The October Revolution overthrew the bourgeoisie and transferred power to the proletariat but did not immediately lead to: the completion of the bourgeois revolution, in general and: the isolation of the kulaks in the countryside, in particular - these were spread over a certain period of time but this does not mean that our fundamental slogan at the second stage of the revolution -- "together with the poor peasantry, against capitalism in town and country, while neutralising the middle peasantry, for the power of the proletariat" - -- was wrong . . . .  
The strategic slogans of the Party can be appraised only from the point of view of a Marxist analysis of the class forces and of the correct disposition of the revolutionary forces. . . . .  
Is it possible for the overthrow of the power of the bourgoisie and the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat to be effected within the framework of the bourgeois revolution? . . .  
How can it be asserted that the kulaks (who, of course, are also peasants) could support the overthrow of the bourgoisie and the transfer of power to the proletariat'? . .. . .  
One of the main tasks of the October Revolution was to complete the bourgeois revolution. . . .and since the October Revolution did complete the bourgeois revolution it was bound to meet with the sympathy of all the peasants . . But can it be asserted on these grounds that the completion of the bourgeois revolution was not a derivative phenomenon in the course of the October Revolution but its essence or its principal aim? . . .
And if the main theme of a strategic slogan is the question of the transfer of power from one class to another, is it not clear from this that the question of the completion of the bourgeois revolution by the proletarian power must not be confused with the question of overthrowing the bourgeoisie and achieving this proletarian power, i.e., with the question that is the main theme at the second stage of the revolution? .  
In order to complete the bourgeois revolution it was necessary in October: first to overthrow the power of the bourgeoisie and to set up the power of the proletariat, for only such a power is capable of completing the bourgeois revolution. But in order to set up the power of the proletariat in October it was essential to prepare and organise for October the appropriate political army, an army capable of overthrowing the bourgeoisie and of establishing the power of the proletariat, and there is no need to prove that such a political army could be prepared and organised by us only under the slogan: 
Alliance of the proletariat with the poor peasantry against the bourgeoisie, for the dictatorship of the proletariat".
(J. V. Stalin: "The Party's Three Fundamental Slogans on the Peasant Question", in "Works"; Volume 9; Moscow; 1954; p. 2O8-O9; 210, 211-12).

For the autumn of 1918, however, the continuing revolution developed uninterruptedly into a proletarian-socialist revolution in its economic content.
"Until the organisation of the Committees of Poor Peasants, i.e., down to the summer and even the autumn of 1918, our revolution was to a large extent a bourgeois revolution . . . But from the moment the Committees of Poor Peasants began to be organised, our revolution became a proletarian revolution. . It was only when the October revolution in the countryside began and was accomplished in the summer of 1918 that we found our real proletarian base; it was only then that our revolution became a proletarian revolution in fact, and not merely by virtue of proclamations, promises and declarations."
(V. I. Lenin: Report of the Central Committe of the Russian Communist (Bolsheviks) at the Eighth Party Congress, in: "Selected Works", Volume 3; London; 1943; 10. 37, 33).
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