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Leon Trotsky 19100712 The Russian Revolution

Leon Trotsky: The Russian Revolution

(Speech at the Workers' House in Sofia on July 12, 1910)

[Pamphlet, edited by the Socialist Party Publishing House. Sofia. 1910. My own translation of the Russian text. Corrections by English native speakers would be extremely welcome.]

Comrades, the working class people have been living under double oppression since ancient times: material and spiritual. The latter would have been impossible without the first, and vice versa – if there had not been prejudices of serfdom in the consciousness of the people, if the doctrine of the church and religious prejudices had not poisoned the consciousness of the people, the destruction of material oppression would have been greatly facilitated. But in the development of peoples there use to be moments when the entire nation rises like a lion against the bourgeois oppression and, rising up, is freed from the prejudices of serfdom, loses respect for the bourgeois institutions, and the hypnosis of serfdom disappears. The people becomes a lion people, a hero people. Such an epoch is an epoch of baptism of the people; it remains unforgettable and leaves indelible marks on the people.

Such an epoch was experienced by the Russian people in 1905. And now, comrades, if we look at all phenomena and events in the international political life of the last 4 - 5 years, we will have to say that on the world scene there was not one event, not one phenomenon, cultural or other, on which the stamp of Russian revolution had not been placed.

Look at the vast and immense Asian continent. Didn't Russia's defeat in the Japanese war and the Russian revolution resurrect the whole continent? You see the awakening of China, India, Persia, the revolutionary movement in Turkey. The military defeat of the Tsarist regime raised the self-awareness of all Asian peoples. The influence of this event has also reached you – In the form of the young Turkish revolution, which is the echo of the Russian revolution and means the rebirth of Asia. Then turn your gaze to the west: look – what do we see in a powerful capitalist country, Germany, the homeland of the strongest social democratic party, the mother of all socialist parties? German social democracy has been moving forward step by step for four decades, building its own powerful edifice and accumulating strength, but never left the framework of legality. It was only the blows of the Russian Revolution that created the mood in which the German proletariat could take to the streets with colossal demonstrations for the introduction of universal suffrage in Prussia.

Comrades, turn your gaze to a country closer to you - the Austro-Hungarian Empire. You know that for a number of years the proletariat of all nationalities fought for universal suffrage there. But it was only after the great October strike that the Austro-Hungarian proletariat expressed its demand in grandiose demonstrations and wrested universal suffrage from Austrian monarchism and capitalism. It can be said with certainty that, just as historians separate medieval history from new, considering the discovery of America, the way to India, etc. as the beginning of the latter, so historians of the future will consider the Russo-Japanese war and the Russian revolution as the border between the new and the newest history.

Comrades, the Russian Revolution was aimed at destroying the main pivot of world reaction - Tsarism, around which everything barbaric, everything predatory, everything medieval was grouped, everything, around which the European stock exchanges revolve – all the more since there is no reactionary force that would not find its expression, its support and backing in the Russian Tsarist regime. It can be said that the Russian revolution sets itself goals similar to those of the Great French Revolution in the XVIII century, and we used to call the French revolution bourgeois. And yet, what a difference between these two revolutions! There, the so-called people or the "third estate" – bourgeois democracy, the intelligentsia, relying on the petty bourgeois masses of craftsmen and on the proletariat – acted against absolutism, against feudalism, against clericalism. This revolutionary intelligentsia – the Jacobins – managed to unite and assemble all the progressive elements around it, to unite them into one whole. We do not see this in Russia. Here we do not see a bourgeois democracy capable of revolutionary struggle as we see it in the history of other countries. The Russian bourgeoisie, like the bourgeoisie of the Balkan countries, carries the curse on its forehead already in the womb of its mother: it is condemned to betrayal, baptized with betrayal, and dies of betrayal. That colossal task, which appeared in front of the Russian people and powerfully demands a solution, fell entirely on the shoulders of the Russian proletariat.

You remember the main moments of the Russian revolution. The Russian-Japanese war had a huge impact on the popular masses. It destroyed the attraction of tsarism as "a huge invincible force". It proved that the colossus, which strangles everything progressive in the world, which relies on all European stock exchanges, stands on feet of clay, that little Japan could inflict heavy blows on it; it became clear to the Russian people that this colossus is weak, that it can fall under someone else's attack, and – oh, a miracle of miracles! – this war awakened not only the popular masses, but it also awakened Russian liberalism.

In the course of 1904, a whole series of banquets – doctors, architects, journalists and professors – passed resolutions with condemnations of tsarism and constitutional demands. But these were only words. Some good people said that Jericho fell from the sounds of Jewish trumpets – in the same way, the liberals hoped, the stronghold of autocracy would fall. But the liberals were mistaken, and if the Tsarist regime was shaken, they were not the cause. The liberals soon found themselves at a dead end and showed their reactionary nature, which is inseparable from the nature of the bourgeois class. Since they could not bring down the monarchy with their speeches, they had no choice but to wait for heavenly forces to do it for them. And now, when liberalism had to admit to being defeated, the proletariat appeared on the stage of Russian historical life. January 9, 1905 is the great historical date. You remember, comrades, how the Russian proletariat in St. Petersburg carried out a majestic act, revolutionary in essence, albeit naive in form, by presenting its demands to the Tsar, who until then was considered the giver of all the goods. You remember that the tsar responded to these demands with gun salvos and the whistle of the Nagaikas. This summed up the previous relations between the Tsar and the people, put an end to all moral attraction of Tsarism among the people. As before the criminal's shame was burned on his naked body with red-hot iron, so now the Russian people burned the date of January 9 on the forehead of tsarism with fiery letters. After January 9, liberalism finds itself in the most miserable position and it is afraid of its own vanity, and the working masses appear in the foreground of Russian reality. January 9 caused a great strike wave, which awakened all the working class strata one by one, brought them face to face with Tsarism.

This is the essence of the revolution. In everyday life, a worker recognizes oneself as a metal worker, a tailor or shoemaker, as a tailor from St. Petersburg, a metal worker from Moscow or St. Petersburg, etc. The new revolutionary period took away from each individual worker his national, local, group shell. The worker felt oneself a living part of a single body, and for him that became sacred and obligatory what is sacred and obligatory for the whole proletariat as a whole. In response to the movement caused by January 9, there is a Tsar's decree on February 18. Never, comrades, did the Russian Tsar show himself to be more miserable and helpless in his cruelty than then. In the morning, he issued a manifesto calling on all black forces on Russian soil to rally around the throne against the rising revolution; and on the same evening he issued a decree proclaiming the principle of popular representation. The Tsarist government was so frightened that the Tsar, having issued a pogrom manifesto in the morning, renounced it the same evening and issued another, semi-constitutional manifesto, which reflected his fear of the movement of the popular masses. And, of course, both Tsarist manifestoes begin with the words: "Eagerly striving for the welfare of the people"...

But the people knew perfectly well where the Tsar's soul was at the time when he wrote the "constitutional" manifesto. The Russian proletariat, although still young and politically inexperienced, refuses to believe the Tsar's words and promises (in this respect if differs favourably from bourgeois Balkan politicians, who are guided by tsarist promises in their actions). After the decree of February 18, the Russian proletariat strengthened its ranks, and we see the entire Russian people getting infected be the revolutionary upsurge, just like all the states, one after the other, enter the struggle against autocracy. Statistics show that in 1905 the figure of strikes in Russia was five times higher than the figure of strikes in Western Europe and other advanced countries. You can imagine the colossal effort that was required to launch the general strike in the month of October. Between the February movement and the great strike, the Black Sea Fleet revolted, raising the red banner. The result was the new manifesto of August 6, which announced the convening of a "State Duma". Then the liberals addressed us with the following words: "Gentlemen, in Russia on August 6, 1905 a constitution was proclaimed. From now on you can lean on the ground of legality (rights). Abandon your revolutionary means and methods and stand on the ground of law". This is what the liberals said to the party of the proletariat; but the latter despised them, as always. After that, the movement reaches its climax with the declaration of the October strike, which involves more than a million workers and paralyses the entire state apparatus.

Comrades, the state is a machine that, like any factory machine, rests on the back of the working class, and when the people refuse to keep it up, it disintegrates and its centralized power falls apart into dust and ashes. ("Applause, voices 'true, true.'") And now, on the historical grounds of Russian despotism, in response to the October strike, the manifesto of October 17 appeared with promises of even greater electoral rights, freedom of assembly, freedom of association, freedom of the press, etc. The Tsar, the white Tsar who relied on autocracy and Orthodoxy, immediately gives his signature on the parchment of the constitution. This is a great revolutionary victory of the proletariat! A few days later, it was drowned by the Tsarist regime in blood. But we will never forget this victory, we will write it down and say that the Tsar took off his cap faced to the revolution. (Applause.)

Comrades, the manifesto of October 17 was published, but all Russian bureaucracy with its natural and artificial selection of scoundrels remained in place. Trepov, who on October 12, five days before the publication of the manifesto, issued his own manifesto "do not spare bullets!", remained after October 17 the head of St. Petersburg, and the St. Petersburg proletariat knew what it could expect, with the implementation of constitutional principles being entrusted to this man. By the time the manifesto was published, at the height of a strike struggle, the St. Petersburg proletariat put all its efforts into its unification, into the creation of its own strong organization. It is truly a historical miracle, testifying to the inexhaustible power of the working class, a great miracle that within 4 - 5 days in St. Petersburg, as if from under the ground, a lively, flexible and authoritative organization appeared, which embraced 200,000 St. Petersburg workers and inscribed its name in the history of the Russian revolution. I am talking about the St. Petersburg "Soviet of Workers' Deputies". Every 500 workers of a given factory, plant or district elect one delegate. Those elected form the Soviet and become masters of St. Petersburg. Trepov is removed. Witte does not dare to appear in front of the people. The state machine is declared boycotted, and the Council actually holds the state power in its hands. You, comrades, probably all remember that the tsar has put the glaring, distinct imprint of his bloody hand to his manifesto of October 17. You will recall that around October 19 - 20, the whole of southern Russia and a significant part of the central part of it became an arena of horrible pogroms, organized by the "union of true Russian people", the patron of which was the Tsar. You know that at that time a secret slogan was given – to respond to the revolution with pogroms, and everywhere, where the proletariat did not expect betrayal behind its back and was not ready to resist, these pogroms caused thousands of casualties. The groans of killed children and old people, the desperate screams of mothers dying over the corpses of their children were the result of the manifesto. It was only in St. Petersburg, Moscow and some other cities where the proletariat managed to establish its own organizations and, having removed all the bureaucracy, took control of the fate and life of the city – only there was no trace of pogroms. This proves that the pogroms were carried out by pathetic groups, gangs and mobs where the people and the workers' masses were not yet able to remove them with their imperious hands. All Russia recognized the proletariat's merit that it had saved St. Petersburg from the shame of defeat and pogroms. After October 17 the Soviet of Workers' Deputies did not stop the strike; it said: "The manifesto was issued, but we express our distrust to it and continue the strike until 12 o'clock on October 21". The Russian working class is not old - it is not older than 40-50 years old, it is a young, very young class, and yet it already leads a million strikers! What a unity, what a solidarity! And indeed, until 12 o'clock on October 21, no wheel was moving, no chimney was smoking, all production stood still. On October 17-18, bourgeois publishers and journalists sent their representatives to us with a request to allow the type setters to set the Tsarist manifesto, but we did not give permission to do so. Only two newspapers were published: the "Pravitelstvenny Vestnik" [Government Messenger]", a two-page newspaper published illegally in an underground printing house, and the other, published openly and distributed in huge numbers: "Izvestia of the St. Petersburg Council of Workers' Deputies". (Stormy applause.)

How did the Soviet of Workers' Deputies respond, what did it say about the tsarist manifesto? It said: yes, a constitution was approved – but tsarism exists, and Witte plays with the rope and Trepov gnashes his teeth; freedom of the press is approved – but censorship remains; freedom of assembly is also approved – but it is protected by Cossacks. We have not been given a constitution, but a nagaika in parchment! That was the answer of the "Izvestia of the Soviet of Workers' Deputies", and immediately the St. Petersburg proletariat, which was the least inclined to limit itself to revolutionary phrases, began revolutionary actions. It announced that from 12 o'clock on October 21 all printing houses will start to work, but not one book, not one sheet of paper will pass through censorship, that only under this condition it will be allowed to print in Russia. Remember the amazing scene when Russian public figures and editors gathered at Witte's and begged him to mitigate the censorship of the regime, and a representative of the Soviet appeared in front of them and said: "Everything is allowed to you and not a single sheet will pass through censorship: from now on there is freedom of the press". Indeed, for two months, when St. Petersburg was in the hands of the Soviet of Workers' Deputies, there was American freedom of the press in Russia.1 The censor's hand did not dare to touch any newspaper, and in our socialist newspapers, which were printed in 212,000 copies, we for the first time called the Tsar by the name he deserved: "The Tsar is a murderer, the Tsar is the responsible organizer of all mischief in Russia! (Stormy applause.)

Comrades, the government tried to prevent the Council from publishing its "Izvestia": during the strike, when the entire press was silent, the government was uncomfortable with the fact that its newspapers were published in such a pathetic form, while the newspaper of the proletariat had an excellent appearance. The government tried to surround the printing house with its troops. The power and attraction of the proletariat were so great that it printed its "Izvestiya" without hindrance in all the printing houses, even in the "Novoye Vremya" printing house – this reactionary, pogrom and pan-Slavist newspaper, where we published our seventh issue in the same font and in the same volume as "Novoye Vremya". When the Soviet delegate came to the printing house and said that for 24 hours it was the property of the people and was needed for the publication of the "semi-official government organ", he was told that the printing house would not be handed over to him because they were afraid that the machines would be damaged.

Our representative said that the Soviet would give its very best workers. Then they referred to the fact that "now there is a strike and there is no electricity”.

We will order them to give light.“

But our electricity plant is run by officers and employs sailors.”

Our orders are quite eloquent for both officers and sailors" – was our response.

Half an hour later, the room was lit up with electricity, the foremen did not spoil the machine, and the newspaper came out. (Stormy applause.)

Comrades, soon after the October strike, the Tsar's reaction began to show its claws, first in Kronstadt, where the sailors' uprising was drowned in blood, and then in Poland, over which the sword of martial law hung. And the St. Petersburg proletariat, which has not yet had a chance to wipe the sweat off its face after the October strike, declared that as long as the rope of the military field court threatens the sailors' heads, as long as martial law was raging in Poland, the St. Petersburg workers will not stop the movement and will not stop declaring their vigorous protest. (Applause.)

On November 1, a new general strike was called in St. Petersburg to protest against the onslaught of bloody reaction. At that time Witte addressed the St. Petersburg proletariat with a letter of exhortation, which began with the words: "Brothers workers"... You can see how sweetly the Russian minister addresses the Russian worker when the latter steps on his throat with his boot: "Brothers workers, do not forget that the Tsar wishes you well. Do not listen to harmful agitators and troublemakers. Stay at your posts. I am your friend and I wish you well.” (General laughter.) The Soviet of Workers' Deputies answered him with a letter on November 2, which I can tell you almost verbatim. First of all, the Council stated that it is not related to Count Witte in any way. Count Witte says that the Tsar wishes us well. The St. Petersburg proletariat answers only with two words: "January 9". Witte says that he wishes us well – the St. Petersburg proletariat does not need the favour of the Tsar's favourite.

Count Witte – all of St. Petersburg said – suffered an asthma attack when he read this answer. He hastened to issue a government statement that the sailors will not be tried by a military court and the martial law in Poland will be lifted. The St. Petersburg proletariat answers that on October [November] 7 at 12 o'clock the strike will end and that it will retreat from the field of revolutionary struggle in the same order as it entered it. (Applause.)

Comrades, at this time St. Petersburg presented an unforgettable picture. It is a city with a population of two million, with huge factories, where several hundred thousand workers work. In the days when the factories stopped, when no wheels were moving, when the whole life came to a halt, when the theatres stopped performing in the middle of the first act at our request, when the streets were plunged into darkness, when there was no electricity, when darkness reigned in the apartments of the Tsar's secret advisors – In those days we saw, we felt what the proletariat was and what its power was. We saw, comrades, that all society lives only thanks to it: thanks to it the rulers use their power, thanks to it the rich gets richer, the scholar studies science, the owner owns brightly lit palaces. All this thanks to the working class, which holds the whole world in its hands. (Applause.) I think that if at that time we, the socialists, were deprived of our eyesight, if our ears were covered with wax, we could feel socialism with our fingers in the streets of St. Petersburg.

The unrest of the proletariat was also reflected in the dark, downtrodden village living in darkness and ignorance. You know that one of the reasons for the Russian revolution is the serfdom and misery of the Russian peasantry. You know that in the international market for poverty and misery, the Russian peasant could even compete with the Hindu of the English possessions. It is enough to mention one, at first glance comical, but in essence deeply tragic fact, which was established by the doctor Shingarev. As you know, the dwelling of the Russian peasant is not very clean, and despite this, bugs and cockroaches boycott these huts, because they are too cold and too hungry for them; coldness and hunger drive even bugs and cockroaches out of them. This is the horror in which the Russian people of many millions live. The huge budget of tsarism, which has reached two and a half billion roubles, falls entirely on the back of the Russian peasant and worker. Suffice it to say that Russian militarism annually absorbs six hundred and fifty million roubles, and next to this there are four hundred and seven million, paid to the European stock exchanges for nine billion Russian debt, - also payment for expenses made for militarism and tsarism. We are paying more than a billion to the vampire who strangles the Russian people. That is why the main task of the revolution was to destroy the monstrous military and bureaucratic machinery of the tsarist government and to replace tsarism with a free republican system.

Another important slogan was: "the expropriation of the landlords, the destruction of the nobility and the distribution of land to the Russian peasants." This was the agrarian slogan of our revolution. The response to January 9 was the uprising of the Black Sea Fleet, the October and November strikes. They found an echo among the broad peasant masses. In October 1905, more than one manor house was burned down, and the red rooster of the Russian revolution illuminated the vast Russian land with a bloody glow. The landlords fled to the cities and abroad, seeking help from the bourgeoisie. Until 1905, the Russian landlord was a liberal, demanded a constitution, called himself a friend of the Russian people, and expressed dissatisfaction with the bourgeoisie and tsarism. But in 1905, Russian workers and peasants once and for all knocked the liberal folly out of his head, and he became the backbone of the most cruel reaction. If Russian tsarism found the courage to oppose itself to the revolution, this is due to the fact that it was able to rely on the nobility. These days, the sacred union of the new holy trinity came into being – the bureaucracy, the landlords and tsarism, who declared a bloody crusade against the revolution.

The European liberals, and maybe yours here too, accuse the Russian socialists of waging a very cruel, irreconcilable struggle, and that if they had cut back their demands somewhat, if they had been more peaceful and had put their hand in the wolf's paw, then the situation would have been different. But they themselves showed what such liberals are like, when at the end of November in Sevastopol the second uprising of the Black Sea Fleet took place under the leadership of Red Lieutenant Schmidt (who was subsequently shot dead). The Petersburg proletariat sent its revolutionary greetings to the Black Sea sailors. At this time the party congress of Liberals was in session under the chairmanship of Miliukov. (Shouts: "Down with him!") The entire congress, like one person, renounced all its demands, declaring that from today on they, the liberals, would support the government and Count Witte. Miliukov tried to reassure them that the uprising had already been suppressed. This, comrades, is how Russian liberalism reacted to the Russian revolution at the most critical moments of Russian history. At the moment when the fate of the Russian people was being decided, Russian liberalism revealed itself as a traitor, a betrayer, a nocturnal thief. In these great historical days, in those days when the proletariat hailed the uprising of the navy, liberalism applauded the victory over it. Could there be anything in common between it and socialism? No, comrades, between them lies an abyss dug by the betrayal of liberalism.

Comrades, the situation in those days was extremely complex and tragic. Social life had grown, new social classes had appeared in the political arena. The proletariat held on to the height of the situation, but it was unarmed. The government became to a certain extend illegal, underground, it took refuge in the basements of Tsarskoye Selo, St. Petersburg and Peterhof. But the guard regiments remained loyal to it.

At that time there were two powers in St. Petersburg: one – the proletarian, unarmed, and the other – the government, armed. But not all the troops were loyal to tsarism. I have already mentioned the uprising of the Black Sea Fleet. Along the entire line of the Siberian Railway, on which the soldiers returned from the Far East, the power of revolutionary soldiers was established, who elected their Soviets of soldiers' deputies and raised red banners. In St. Petersburg, a number of regiments and sailor crews openly sent their delegates in soldier's uniforms to the Soviet. This was at the time of the November strike, after the St. Petersburg workers declared that they could not remain calm when the rope was hanging over the heads of the Kronstadt sailors.

Whole regiments went over to the side of the revolution, but these were regiments, the majority of which consisted of proletarians. The tsarist government was not based on its ministers, not on their talents and resourcefulness, but on the material might of the army. But the army itself is not a machine, not a dead instrument: it is made up of living, thinking and feeling people. The composition of the army determines in which direction the rifles and cannons will shoot. This should not be forgotten. If tsarism defeated us, it was only because there were many unenlightened peasants and little conscious workers in the army. (Applause; voices: “True, true!”) You understand, of course, that it was not tsarism itself that shut the mouth of the workers; its tool were peasant soldiers. But machine production is gradually transforming the peasants into workers, the workers join the army and revolutionize it. And with the same irresistibility with which the earth rotates and day gives way to night, but night – to day, in the tsarist army the peasants are replaced by proletarians – by friends of the revolution. (Applause.)

Comrades, there is not much time left, and I am forced to shorten the final part of my speech.

I have already said that there were two powers: the revolutionary, unarmed, and the old - armed. We, the Social Democrats, were, of course, not so naive as to expect tsarism to yield its place without a fight, that it would not use its army. We knew that as soon as the proletariat retreated, the bloodthirsty monster would come out of its hole and thrust its claws into it. That is why we addressed the army and the peasants with a revolutionary manifesto in advance. And It must be said that the voice of the proletariat found a huge echo – huge, but insufficient.

The Russian peasant understands perfectly well that the landlord is his enemy. But when he enters the barracks and becomes a soldier, he begins to hesitate like a blind man, not knowing where his friends are and where his enemies are. That is why he turned his weapon against the revolution. The tragedy of the Russian revolution lies in the fact that tsarism managed not only to rob the peasant, but also to poison his consciousness. Peasants in soldier's uniforms turned their guns against the workers, and this explains the December defeat.

If we are told that the Social Democrats have lost the confidence of the proletariat because we have taken it to the Moscow barricades, then we, who are proud of this uprising, will reply that this accusation is devoid of any foundation. Turn to the Russian proletarian and ask him if he lost confidence in us after the December defeat. Take a look at the lists of the First, Second, Third State Duma, and you will see that the Russian proletariat, even after the terrible bloodletting, gave its vote to only one party – the Russian Social Democracy. It is true, comrades, that when the elections to the First Duma took place, the workers had not yet had time to wash off their blood, their wounds had not yet healed, and many of them rejected the elections. In many factories, workers mockingly voted for factory dogs, factory chimneys or doors as deputies. In a word, the workers boycotted the First Duma. But into the Second Duma, despite the difficult electoral law – there could be no talk of universal suffrage in Russia, our suffrage was no better than the Prussian one – the Russian proletariat sent sixty-eight Social Democrats. Quite naturally, given the electoral law concocted by Count Witte, there was nothing to think about a popular majority. In the Duma, the liberals from the Cadet Party, headed by Milyukov, turned out to be masters. I already mentioned last Sunday in my speech2 that liberalism at this time felt itself the victor and in fact the master of the situation. Whenever a revolutionary people is defeated, the master is triumphant liberalism, declaring: from now on the revolutionary parties must disappear, now I dictate the laws. Liberalism extends one hand to the people and the other – to the monarchy. Let me remind you of the famous debates that took place in the Second State Duma between Maklakov and Stolypin. This was when the liberals were drafting laws in the Duma that never saw the light of day.

At the very time when Stolypin was erecting the gallows of military field courts outside the walls of the Duma, Maklakov, in a brilliant speech, argued to Stolypin that his military field courts were illegal and unlawful. You can imagine what a terrible, shocking impression these speeches made on the one who ruled with the help of the "illegal and unlawful" gallows. He went to the pulpit and said: "Mr. Maklakov is a wonderful, magnificent speaker, he proves in the most irrefutable way that military field courts are illegal. But, Mr. Maklakov, military field courts are expedient, and my task is not to interpret the laws, but to strangle the revolution. What can your liberalism answer me? What can you give me? In front of me are revolutionary workers and peasants who are rising up with social demands, who are taking away the land from the landlords, and I am fighting them with a knife in my hands. What do I need your rhetoric for? What can you give me against them?" And he spat out and dispersed them. Here I will remind you of what our teacher Lassalle said in defence of the reactionaries: he said that they were not chatterboxes, but sober, intelligent servants of their sovereign.

Having dispersed the First and Second Dumas, Stolypin created the Third in his own image and likeness - a triple alliance embracing bureaucracy with militarism, landlords and predatory capitalism. The organized counter-revolution found its full expression in the Third State Duma, whose chairman was Alexander Ivanovich Guchkov, and the de facto master was Pyotr Arkadyevich Stolypin. Stolypin fought against the revolution as long as it was alive, he also fought against liberalism in the first two State Dumas; and, finally, created the Third Duma – an obedient gang of people who say "yes" to every word of Stolypin and "no" to all the people's demands. But I think that in this Duma Stolypin should have seen both his strength and his weakness. True, the Russian revolution has been temporarily strangled - only the agitation of individuals remains. But this agitation remains together with the poverty and the plight of the popular masses, with the need for social development, with the unresolved agrarian question and the still unbearable position of the Russian muzhik. Stolypin's Third Duma stands in front of a shattered trough. The huge deficit, the peasant poverty, the mistrust of European stock exchanges – all this remains and helps Russian liberalism to raise its head and, in the shape of Professor Milyukov, to raise the banner of neo-Slavism. Milyukov declares that the Cadets were ready to demand the implementation of the necessary reforms, but the revolution prevented them. Since we do not and cannot have a sufficiently capacious internal market in our country, and therefore autocracy does not have sufficient taxes, we must, in Milyukov's opinion, obtain foreign markets for ourselves through capitalist imperialism, with the help of armed force.

In order to create a mood in Russia that would ensure the development of imperialism for Stolypin and the tsar, in order to create the possibility of conquering foreign markets, Russian liberalism raises neo-Slavophil agitation, unfolds the old Tsar's banner on which the words "autocracy, Orthodoxy, nationality" are inscribed, and adds to them the words: "equality, brotherhood, freedom" – and all this is done under the sacred protectorate of the great historical nagaika of the white Tsar. Remember my words, comrades, and know that it was not Black Hundreds or Octobrists, but Cadets, liberals – Milyukov, Maklakov, Rodichev and other initiators of neo-Slavophilism – who were the first to reproach us of being traitors to Slavism, because our deputy, Pokrovsky openly and boldly declared that their neo-Slavism was blackmail. (Applause and loud exclamations: “true.”) He declared that they made all this noise only so that tsarism could catch goldfish in murky waters. Then all the liberal newspapers with their poisonous spitting spat on socialism, relying against it on all supporters of neo-Slavophilism. But now, after all that I have heard here with you, comrades, I can tell the Russian proletariat that those who say that the Balkan people, the Balkan working class did not believe in the Russian proletariat, in the Russian revolution, but believed in Russian liberalism and into neo-Slavism, are lying. (Stormy applause and exclamations of "true".)

Comrades, since tsarism is now strong, since it now has a powerful army in its hands, the plans of Cadet imperialism could only benefit reaction. If tsarism could conquer foreign markets and thus enrich the middle and upper classes, it would be able to replenish its budget and strengthen its position. But that is just it, comrades, that the tsarist army with its officers, whose only merits consists of defeat of their own people, could not even be used as a military force in the struggle against other states, because it consists of two directly opposite parts ... Among the masses of soldiers in the tsarist regiments we have, on the one hand, soldiers, from whose hearts the slogan "revolution and eternal enmity with tsarism" cannot be eradicated, and, on the other hand, we have dark gangs there, corrupted, poisoned by reactionary preaching and tsarist vodka, who during the revolution were the most reliable defender of tsarism. The commanding personnel of the army were selected not from people who distinguished themselves on the battlefields, but from bloodthirsty scoundrels, like those who made their careers by cruel reprisals against the proletariat, suppressing uprisings in St. Petersburg, Moscow, Riga, on the Siberian railway and throughout Russia. In such hands are the tsarist troops! Recently, the terrible shame of the tsar's commissariat was exposed – this gang of embezzlers who were engaged in plundering millions intended for the purchase of four steamers. If you think about this phenomenon and the fact that the army goes through its training in the fight against its own people, you will understand that such an army cannot be used for external conquests. It is capable only of temporarily strangling the revolution, but not resolving the urgent questions of the people. Everything remains as before.

It is not surprising, therefore, that even the striving for external conquests ended in nothing. When Izvolsky travelled across Europe and promised Serbia the help of the tsarist troops, what came of it? From Berlin they asked Petersburg, Messrs. Romanov and Stolypin, whether they were really willing to fight or not? And Petersburg had to admit that the curse of powerlessness lies on it. This was the retribution! A government that kills its people cannot have a strong foreign policy. But although this is so, comrades, this does not mean that the Russian government is incapable of doing dirty tricks. For all its weakness and insignificance, it is still capable of poisoning our life. When it concludes an agreement with Japan, it does so, of course, in order to unleash its predatory hands for robbery and plunder here in the Balkans. And therefore, you are doing quite rightly when you protect the Bulgarian proletariat and the Bulgarian popular masses in general from the Greek gifts of the Russian government and the bourgeoisie. Our task and yours, comrades, is to undo all the efforts of Russian imperialism; this is our common task, for the defeat of the Russian revolution is at the same time the defeat of your freedom. You know well that internationalism is not an abstract formula or just a slogan, but flesh of our flesh and blood of our blood. (Applause; exclamations: "true", "true".)

Comrades, you know that history is not created by parties or groups of individuals. I personally, neither on my own behalf, nor on behalf of my party, can tell you that tomorrow or the day after tomorrow the St. Petersburg events will be repeated; but I can safely say one thing – that the historical process works for us, that every flap of its wings is in our favour. Can the historical development of Russian life stop? On a historical scale, death and defeat cannot take place. Remember how often people talked about the death of Turkey and about the dead China. But a miracle happened before our eyes: both Turkey and China were revived. So will the Russian people remain a lifeless corpse forever? No, as a result of the molecular processes of internal work, they will unfold their productive forces, revolutionize their life, revolutionize their proletariat, which will imperceptibly penetrate the ranks of the army until, finally, the day comes when the revolutionary struggle flares up again, when the Russian people exclaim again: "Life or death, death or victory!" (Applause.)

I cannot predict for you the date of this day, but, according to the gospel word, it will come sooner or later, and we should all be ready to face this great day fully armed.

That sympathy for the cause of the Russian proletariat which I have found among you will help raise the energy of Russian Social-Democracy and bring the time closer when the great red banner of the Workers' International will again fly across the entire Russian plain! (Long and loud applause and ovations.)

1 Compared to tsarist censorship, the conditions for the press in America seemed ideal, although every Marxist revolutionary understood perfectly that this was a bourgeois freedom of the press, i.e. a freedom that only the wealthy classes could actually enjoy. Only in this relative sense should one understand Trotsky's words about "American press freedom". It was only the October Revolution of 1917 that enabled the working masses of Russia to carry out genuine proletarian freedom of the press. [Note in the Sochineniya]

2 This speech was delivered by Comrade Trotsky at the counter-demonstration organized by the Bulgarian Social-Democratic party against the Pan-Slavic congress, which was taking place at that time in Sofia under the leadership of Milyukov, Guchkov, Kramarzh and other notorious Pan-Slavists. Ed.