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Draft Of A Manifesto To The Peasantry

"The fateful hour is approaching. The last fight is at hand. The whole country and all the nations of our republic are divided into two great camps."

The Second All-Russia Peasants’ Congress ardently appeals to the peasantry of all the nationalities and peoples of Russia to devote mind and will, and the power of their numbers and their energy to arousing the slumberers and encouraging the irresolute, and from every corner of the country, from every village and every quarter of the large cities, to utter aloud so that all may hear, their weighty and decisive word at this, perhaps the most serious and most responsible, moment of the great Russian revolution.

Peasant comrades, we constitute the overwhelming majority of the population of our country, the vast mass of the working and exploited people. We are the vast mass that champions the lawful and just demands of the working people—first and foremost the demand for land—we fight all forms of oppression and exploitation by the landowners and capitalists.

Peasant comrades, we are the main body of our army, those who have suffered most the inhuman torments of more than three years of the war instigated by kings and capitalists; it has also fallen to our lot to undertake the difficult but thankful and honourable role of vanguard fighters— together with the workers—for freedom, land and peace, and for the complete emancipation of the working people from all oppression and exploitation.

Peasant comrades, consider our appeal, this manifesto issued by peasant deputies to the peasants of all nationalities in Russia. Make known our appeal in every village and in every cottage; discuss it at every meeting and village assembly and in every peasant body without exception, and make your own firm and unshakable decisions in the localities. For it is chiefly on your decisions, on the decisions of the majority of the people, the decisions of the peasants themselves, that the fate of our native land depends.

The fateful hour is approaching. The last fight is at hand. The whole country and all the nations of our republic are divided into two great camps.

One is the camp of the landowners and capitalists, the rich and their servitors, the state dignitaries and their friends, the bosses of the nation and the champions of the war.

The other is the camp of the factory workers and the working and exploited peasants, the poor people and their friends, the rank-and-file soldiers and the champions of peace, the advocates of a heroic, decisive and bold revolutionary struggle for peace, a struggle in which no mercy will be shown to the oppressors of the people.

The struggle between these two camps has in some parts of the country already assumed the acute form of open and direct civil war, a war of the Soviet armies against a small handful of those who are relying on the power of wealth and who desire to overthrow Soviet power, the power and government of the Soviets of Workers’, Soldiers’ and Peasants’ Deputies.

Peasant comrades, on your weighty, firm and unshakable word much now depends; on it depends the cessation of this civil war; on it depends the possibility in Russia of peacefully transferring all the land to the working people without compensation; on it depends the possibility of a peaceful transition to socialism. Peasant comrades, rise to a man; give voice to your demands; draw up your mandates in every village. You can make yourselves heard; you can make everyone listen to you!

Peasant comrades, you must in the first place roundly condemn those deputies to the Second All-Russia Peasants’ Congress who split away from the Congress. Condemn the splitters. Condemn those who are smashing the unity of the peasants, the unity of the working people, the unity of the peasants and workers. These splitters, these breakers of peasant unity, these deserters to the camp of the rich, to the camp of the landowners and capitalists have committed an outrageous crime. These people call themselves Socialist-Revolutionaries of the Right wing and the Centre, followers of Avksentyev and Chernov. They have betrayed the whole doctrine and programme of the Socialist-Revolutionaries; they have deserted to the enemies of socialism, to the suppressors of the revolution. They have broken with the faithful custodians of the doctrine, programme and demands of the Socialist-Revolutionaries, the party of the internationalist Left Socialist-Revolutionaries, who have remained loyal to the interests of the working peasantry. These followers of Avksentyev and Chernov have quit the Second All-Russia Peasants’ Congress and refused to submit to the decision of the majority of the peasants in order to carry out the will of the wealthy and the capitalists against the peasants, in order to hinder the cause of peace, in order to prevent the immediate transfer of all the land, without compensation, to the working people, and in order to protect the policy of Avksentyev, Chernov, Maslov and their like, a policy fatal to the peasants.

Condemn these traitors to the peasant cause. By condemning them, you will save many of the weak and wavering, and you will save Russia from insane attempts at civil war— insane, because, apart from shedding rivers of blood in vain, they will change nothing; nothing in the world can shatter the unanimous decision of the workers, soldiers and peasants, the decision of the Second All-Russia Congress of Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies and of the Second All-Russia Congress of Peasants’ Deputies.

Condemn these traitors to the peasant cause. Let every village express its confidence in the decisions of the two congresses, the Congress of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Soviets and the Congress of Peasants’ Soviets. Let every village recall from the Constituent Assembly those deputies from the Socialist-Revolutionary Party, or from the Peasants’ Soviets and institutions, who have not loudly proclaimed, and proved in practice, their wholehearted acceptance of these decisions.

Peasant comrades, you all know that opponents of the decisions of the Second All-Russia Congress of Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies and of the Second All- Russia Congress of Peasants Deputies could be elected and did get elected to the Constituent Assembly as peasant representatives, only by fraud. These people, who often call themselves Socialist-Revolutionaries, actually duped the peasants, who did not yet know the truth about the policy of Avksentyev, Chernov and Maslov, a policy of making concessions to the landowners, compromising with the capitalists, and arresting members of the local peasants’ land committees. These Avksentyevs, Maslovs and Chernovs deceived the peasants, since the general lists of the Socialist-Revolutionary Party were colnpiled before October 17, whereas the truth was revealed to the whole of Russia only after October 17.

The truth was revealed to the whole of Russia by the Second All-Russia Congress of Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies, held on October 25 and 26, 1917. The truth was further revealed by Soviet power, the Soviet Government, which was the first to publish the shameful secret treaties, the first to start a really revolutionary struggle for peace, the first to show in practice what that struggle should be; and it has already achieved its first success: an armistice on one of the fronts.

The truth was revealed by the Soviet Government when it passed the Decree on Land, thereby unconditionally siding with the peasants and eliminating all possibility of outside interference in the full power of the peasants in the localities.

The truth was revealed by the Second All-Russia Peasants’ Congress, which was the first to expose to the peasants, in a special and detailed resolution, the shameful role played by the Avksentyev-Chernov Executive Committee. The congress will close on December 8, having begun on November 30, 1917.

You thus see, peasant comrades, that when the lists were drawn up on October 17, and during the elections to the Constituent Assembly on November 12, the peasants still could not have known the truth about land and peace, and still could not distinguish their friends from their enemies, from the wolves in sheep’s clothing. You see that those Socialist-Revolutionaries who oppose the decisions of the Second All-Russia Congress of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies and of the Second All-Russia Congress of Peasants’ Deputies can speak in the name of the peasants only by fraud.

Peasant comrades, do not allow blood to be shed because of this fraud! Raise your voices in determined protest against those who quitted the Second All-Russia Congress of Peasants’ Deputies. Draw up your mandates in every gubernia, in every uyezd, in every volost and in every village; protest against those who withdrew from the congress; publish the names of the peasant deputies to the Constituent Assembly from your localities who have not accepted the decisions of these congresses, and demand the resignation of these deputies from the Constituent Assembly; for it is only by deceiving the people that they can pretend to have been elected by them.

Peasant comrades, the Constituent Assembly must express the will of the people. Those who quitted the Second All-Russia Congress of Peasants’ Deputies, who thwarted its will, who caused a split among the peasants and who deserted the peasants for the rich, are not the representatives of the people. They are traitors, and there is no place for them in the Constituent Assembly. They do not bring peace or land to the working people, they bring the people the senseless and criminal rebellion of the rich against Soviet power. The people will not tolerate fraud. The people will not allow their will to be thwarted. The people will not hand Soviet power over to the rich. The people will not allow the rich to ruin the cause of peace they uphold, or disrupt the transfer of the land to the working people, immediately, without exception and without compensation.

The country is faced with only this alternative:

Either a civil war of the Kaledinites, the Cadets, the Kornilovites (and their concealed allies, the followers of Avksentyev, Chernov and Maslov) against Soviet power, a bloody war, a hopeless war for its initiators, a war t4iat will not deprive the Soviets of power but will only result in greater bitterness, greater sacrifice, greater bloodshed, greater delay in carrying through the great socialist reforms, and greater famine in the gubernias where there is no grain, or—

the honest recognition of the obvious truth that the opponents of the decisions of the Second All-Russia Congress of Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies and of the Second All-Russia Congress of Peasants’ Deputies could have got the peasants to elect them to the Constituent Assembly only by fraud, and that there must be new elections for such deputies.

There is no third path. Either the bloody extermination to the rich, the followers of Avksentyev, Chernov and Masby, or their consent to new elections of peasants’ deputies of the Constituent Assembly as soon as the opponents of the decisions of the two Soviet congresses, the Second All-Russia Congress of Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies and the Second All-Russia Congress of Soviets of Peas. ants’ Deputies, come out in the name of the peasants in the Constituent Assembly.

It is for you to say, peasant comrades!

It is for you to decide!

The resolute word of all peasants, the peasant mandates from all the localities, can bring peace to the whole country, to all the nationalities of Russia, can stop the civil war, can guarantee a true and genuine and not a sham Constituent Assembly, can expedite and facilitate the termination of the war by a just peace and accelerate the transfer of the land to the working people, can strengthen the alliance between the peasants and the workers and hasten the triumph of socialism.

It is for you to decide, peasant comrades! Long live the transfer of the land to the working people! Long live peace! Long live socialism!

The Second All-Russia Congress of Peasants’ Deputies

Footnotes

[1] Written on December 6-7 (19-20), 1917. After the members of the presidium of the Congress had seen the Manifesto it was read out on their behalf at the evening sitting of December 8 (24). At the insistence of the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries the wording was toned down and in that form adopted by the Congress. On behalf of the Executive Committee of the All-Russia Soviet of Peasants’ Deputies the Manifesto was published in the newspaper Colos Trudovogo Krestyanstva (Voice of the Labouring Peasantry) No. 22 of December 15 (28) under the title, “To the Labouring Peasants”.

 

(From The Second All-Russia Congress Of Soviets Of Peasants’ Deputies)

Source: Marxist Internet Archive.

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The February Revolution
Strikes and protests erupt on women's day in Petrograd and develop into a mass movement involving hundreds of thousands of workers; within 5 days the workers win over the army and bring down the hated and seemingly omnipotent Tsarist Monarchy.
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Lenin returns to Russia and presents his ‘April Theses’ denouncing the Bourgeois Provisional Government and calling for “All Power to the Soviets!”
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Spontaneous, armed demonstrations against the Provisional Government erupt in Petrograd. The workers and soldiers are suppressed by force, introducing a period of reaction and making the peaceful development of the revolution impossible.
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Following the July days, the Bolsheviks were driven underground and the forces of reaction were emboldened. This process culminated in the reactionary forces coalescing around General Kornilov, who attempt to march on Petrograd and crush the revolutionary movement in its entirety.
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The Provisional Government is overthrown. State power passes to the Soviets on the morningm of 26th October, after the Bolsheviks’ Military Revolutionary Committee seize the city and the cabinet surrenders.
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