Primary Documents - Lenin's Appeal for Revolt, 20 October 1917
Reproduced below is the text of a published appeal by Lenin, dated 20 October 1917 (2 November 1917 using the West's Gregorian calendar), in which he urged a continuation of the civil unrest he had detected in recent weeks, the aim being to provide further support for the revolutionary Bolshevik cause, and as a means of undermining the government.
Lenin's calls were ultimately successful; within a matter of days the Bolsheviks succeeded in seizing power, and with it brought about Russia's withdrawal from the war with the punitive (for Russia) Treaty of Best-Litovsk. Lenin issued numerous repeated calls urging civil unrest, culminating in his famed 'Call for Power' on 24 October 1917.
Appeal for Revolt Issued by Lenin, 20 October 1917
There is no doubt that the revolution in Russia has reached its turning point.
In a country of peasants, under a revolutionary Republican Government, supported by the parties of the Revolutionary Socialists and the Menshevists, parties which until recently had the majority of the bourgeoisie behind them, there is rising today a peasants' rebellion.
This fact has not surprised us - the Bolshevists. We have always maintained that the policy of the famous "Coalition" with bourgeoisie was a policy of an imperialist war, a policy of protecting capitalism and Junkerdom from the people.
There exists in Russia, thanks to the treason of the Revolutionary Socialists and Menshevists, at the same time as the Government of the Soviets, a Government of capitalists and Junkers. Why should we be surprised that in Russia, with all the wretchedness brought by the continuation of the imperialist war upon the nation, a peasants' rebellion should break out and spread?
Not only has the policy of the followers of Prince Lvov broken down; but also the Revolutionary Socialists, who suffer a Kerenski in their midst, have sunk to the level of a party hostile to the people, hostile to the peasants, to the level of a counter-revolutionary party.
The Russian Revolution has reached a turning-point. A peasants' rebellion in a country of peasants against the Government of the Revolutionary Socialist Kerenski, against the Menshevists Nikitin and Gvozdeff, against the other Ministers - representatives of Capital and Junkerdom! - that is the situation. The crushing of this rebellion by military force at the command of the Republican Government - that is the consequence of this situation!
In the face of these facts, is it possible for an honest adherent of the peasants' cause to deny, with indifference, that the crisis has come to a head, and that the victory of the Government over the peasants is the death-knell of the Revolution, and the triumph of the counter-revolution?
Yes, the leaders of the Central Executive Committee are practicing a regular policy of protecting the bourgeoisie and the Junkers. And there is no doubt that the Bolshevists who were to let themselves be caught in the snare of constitutional illusions, of "belief" in the elections to the Constituent Assembly, of the "expectation" of the Congress of all the Soviets, and so forth, that such Bolshevists would be nothing less than miserable traitors to the cause of the proletariat.
The crushing of a peasants' rebellion by a Government, which is compared even by the Delo Naroda to Stolypin, means the destruction of the Revolution. They drivel about anarchy, about the indifference of the masses: the masses cannot be indifferent in the elections if the peasantry is obliged to rebel, and if the revolutionary democracy suffers that rebellion to be quelled.
To allow the rebellion to be crushed at this hour means to allow the elections for the Constituent Assembly to be tampered with, and this would be done more barefacedly than was the case of the elections for the Democratic Conference, and for the Preliminary Parliament.
The crisis is approaching its final stage. The whole future of the Russian Revolution is at stake. The whole future of the International Proletarian Socialistic Revolution is at stake.
The final stage of the crisis is at hand.
Source: Source Records of the Great War, Vol. V, ed. Charles F. Horne, National Alumni 1923
3 British Officers were executed by courts martial during the war, as opposed to 316 Private soldiers and 24 Non-Commissioned Officers. The vast majority were for desertions.
- Did you know?