What the Counter-Revolutionary Steps of the Provisional Government Lead To

Published in Pravda No. 43, May 11 (April 28), 1917.

We have received the following telegram:

Yeniseisk. The Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies has taken cognisance of Minister Lvov’s telegram to the appointed Commissar of Yeniseisk Gubornia, Krutovsky, sent to Yeniseisk for guidance.

“We protest against the intention to reintroduce a bureaucracy. We declare, first, that we will not stand for being ruled by appointed officials. Second, there can be no return for officials who have been driven out by the peasants. Third, we recognise only such local bodies as have been set up in Yeniseisk Uyezd by the people themselves. Fourth, appointed officials can rule here only over our dead bodies.

“Yeniseisk Soviet of Deputies”

And so the Provisional Government appoints “commissars” from Petrograd to “direct” the activities of the Yeniseisk Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies, or the Yeniseisk organ of self-government. What is more, this appointment is made in such a form as to evoke the protest of the Yeniseisk Soviet against “the intention to reintroduce a bureaucracy”.

Moreover, the Yeniseisk Soviet declares that “appointed officials can rule here only over our dead bodies”. The behaviour of the Provisional Government has brought this remote uyezd in Siberia, as represented by its popularly elected governing body, to a point when a direct threat of armed resistance is made against the Provisional Government.

The Provisional Government bosses have certainly asked for it!

Yet they will go on thundering denunciations against those mischievous people who “preach” “civil war”!

What was the idea of appointing “commissars” from Petrograd or from any other centre to “direct” the activities of the elected local body? Are we to believe that a man from outside is more familiar with local needs, more capable of “directing” the local population? What cause did the people of Yeniseisk give for such an absurd measure? Even if the people of Yeniseisk did run counter to the decisions of a majority of citizens in other localities, would it not have been better to try, for a start, to obtain some information instead of giving occasion for talk about “bureaucracy”, and provoking legitimate dissatisfaction and resentment on the part of the local population?

To all these questions there can be only one answer. The representatives of the landowners and capitalists sitting in the Provisional Government are determined to preserve the old tsarist machinery of government: officials “appointed” from above. That is what all bourgeois parliamentary republics in the world have nearly always been doing, except for brief periods of revolution in some countries. That is what was done to prepare the ground for the return from a republic to a monarchy, for a return to the Napoleons, to the military dictators. And that is what the Cadets are bent on doing when they copy those unhappy examples.

This is a very serious matter. We should not deceive ourselves. By such measures the Provisional Government, whether it means to or not, is preparing the ground for a restoration of the monarchy in Russia.

The entire responsibility for any possible—and to a certain extent inevitable—attempt to restore the monarchy in Russia rests with the Provisional Government, which is undertaking such counter-revolutionary measures. Officials “appointed” from above to “direct” the local population have always been a sure step towards the restoration of the monarchy, in the same way as the standing army and the police.

The Yeniseisk Soviet is a thousand times right, both practically and in principle. The return of local officials who have been driven out by the peasants should not be allowed. The introduction of “appointed” officials should not be tolerated. Only such bodies in the local areas should be recognised as have been set up by the people themselves.

The idea of “direction” by officials “appointed” from above is essentially false and undemocratic, it is Caesarism, Blanquist adventurism. Engels was quite right when, in criticising in 1891 the draft programme of the German Social-Democrats who were badly Infected with bureaucratism, he pressed the demand for no supervision from above over local self-government. Engels was right when he quoted the experience of France, which, governed between 1792 and 1798 by local elective bodies without any supervision from above, did not “fall apart”, did not “disintegrate”, but, on the contrary, gained strength, became democratically consolidated and organised. [1]

Foolish bureaucratic prejudices, tsarist red-tapism, reactionary professorial ideas as to the indispensability of bureaucratism, the counter-revolutionary tendencies and attempts of the landowners and capitalists—this is the soil which nourishes such measures of the Provisional Government as we have been discussing.

The healthy democratic feeling of the workers and peasants, roused by the insulting attempt of the Provisional Government to “appoint” officials from above to “direct” the activities of the adult local population, the overwhelming majority, who had elected their own representatives—this is what the Yeniseisk Soviet has revealed.

What the people need is a really democratic, workers’ and peasants’ republic, whose authorities have been elected by the people and are displaceable by the people any time they may wish it. And it is for such a republic that the workers and peasants should fight, resisting all attempts of the Provisional Government to restore the monarchist, tsarist methods and machinery of government.


[1] See Engels, “Zur Kritik des sozialdemokratischen Programmentwurfes 1891”, Neue Zeit, Jg. 20, I. Bd., Stuttgart, 1902, S. 12.

Source: Marxist Interner Archive