Skip to Content

Russia 1917: As We Saw It

The 'usurper of the Socialist name' who was made Minister of War was Alexander Kerensky.

The position as we conceive it is as follows. The capitalists of Russia, long squirming under the irksome restrictions placed upon their expansion by the feudal nobles, found in the conditions arising out of the war, a situation full of promise and they proceeded to exploit it. The Russian Army, they calculated, essentially an army in arms under duress, could have no love for the powers that drove them to the shambles, while the people at large, groaning under the misery of the universal chaos, would accept the overthrow of the nobility with acclamation. So far they appear to have calculated correctly. They accomplished their coup d'état.

Having got safely so far, of course, the Russian capitalists were greeted with the applause of their fellow capitalists the world over. But, as the history of many revolutions shows, the job is only half complete largely upon a disaffected army and people ― an army and people writhing under the torture of this cruellest of wars, naturally find it no easy matter to keep the war machine a fit and efficient instrument for further prosecuting the war.

The simple Russian soldier, once the hand of the militarist bully relaxed its grip upon his throat, gave expression to his real feelings with regard to the war by fraternising with the "enemy" by battalions, and by deserting in myriads. The simple Russian peasants, to whom "Russian aspirations in the Straits" was a meaningless phrase, and the pan-Slav question empty vapouring; to whom the enemy was the now deposed authority who had directed usurious taxation against them, holding their ungrown crops in mortgage to force them, broken and destitute, from their lands, offered no force moral or physical, to restrain the "unpatriotic" to the path of duty. Hence we find the Provisional Government engaged in the task of hunting around for some force wherewith to compel obedience to their commands, while the capitalist world looks on, its heart torn with anxious fears, wondering if they will find it. (...)

As in England and France and Germany the capitalist class have turned to the pseudo-Socialist and other labour fakers to aid them to their bloody victory, so in Russia the enemies of the working class find their agents in the ranks of the working-class leaders. Who fitter than a "Socialist" to harangue an undisciplined army? Who fitter than a "rebel" to lure other rebels from their rebellious ways? Who fitter than a "leader" of "democracy" to represent the shadow of democracy as the substance, and to inflame the "democratic" passions to the defence of liberties which do not exist? So they made a usurper of the Socialist name Minister for War, and sent him, hot-foot, to do work which no Socialist, in any country, could or would do.

So, having secured this agent to divide the workers, the Russian capitalists feel that they are strong enough for a bolder move, and have announced their intention of establishing a sort of travelling Courts with soldiers to execute their orders, though for the moment fear of the Workmen's and Soldiers' Delegates Committees constrain them to hold their hands. Meanwhile they are straining every nerve to create a force, both of public opinion and military, powerful enough to strike at those who dare to challenge their right to rule, and when they have secured this, then the butchery will commence ― the real bloodshed of this revolution starts.

(Socialist Standard, June 1917. Full article: http://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/socialist-standard/1910s/1917/no-154-...)