“Comrades, the workers’ and peasants’ revolution, about the necessity of which the Bolsheviks have always spoken, has taken place.
“What is the significance of this workers’ and peasants’ revolution?
“Its significance is, first of all, that we shall have a Soviet government, our own organ of power, in which the bourgeoisie will have no share whatever.
“The oppressed masses will themselves create a power.
“The old state apparatus will be shattered to its foundations and a new administrative apparatus set up in the shape of the Soviet organizations.
“From now on, a new phase in the history of Russia begins, and this revolution, the third Russian revolution, should in the end lead to the victory of socialism.”
Vladimir Ilyitch Lenin, November 7, 2017
On October 7, Lenin secretly arrived in Petrograd from Finland. On October 10, 1917, the historic meeting of the Central Committee of the Communist Party took place at which it was decided-to launch the armed uprising within the next few days. The historic resolution of the Central Committee, drawn up by Lenin, stated:
“The Central Committee recognizes that the international position of the Russian revolution (the revolt in the German navy which is an extreme manifestation of the growth throughout Europe of the world socialist revolution; the threat of the imperialist world with the object of strangling the revolution in Russia) as well as the military situation (the indubitable decision of the Russian bourgeoisie and Kerensky and Co. to surrender Petrograd to the Germans), and the fact that the proletarian party has gained a majority in the Soviets — all this, taken in conjunction with the peasant revolt and the swing of popular confidence towards our Party (the elections in Moscow), and, finally, the obvious preparations being made for a second Kornilov affair, (the withdrawal of troops from Petrograd, the dispatch of Cossacks to Petrograd, the surrounding of Minsk by Cossacks, etc) — all this places the armed uprising on the order of the day.
“Considering therefore that an armed uprising is inevitable, and that the time for it is fully ripe, the Central Committee instructs all Party organizations to be guided accordingly, and to discuss and decide all practical questions (the Congress of Soviets of the Northern Region, the withdrawal of troops from Petrograd, the action of our people in Moscow and Minsk, etc) from this point of view.”
Passed, Kamenev and Zinoviev voting against. An amendment from Trotsky, that the uprising be postponed until after the meeting of the Second Congress of Soviets, was defeated.
The Second All-Russian Congress of Soviets opened in the Smolny at 10:45 p.m. on October 25 (November 7), 1917, when the uprising in Petrograd was already in the full flush of victory and the power in the capital had actually passed into the hands of the Petrograd Soviet.
The congress proclaimed that all power had passed to the Soviets:
“Backed by the will of the vast majority of the workers, soldiers and peasants, backed by the victorious uprising of the workers and the garrison which has taken place in Petrograd, the congress takes the power into its own hands”.
On the night of October 26 (November 8), 1917, the Second Congress of Soviets adopted the Decree on Peace. The congress called upon the belligerent countries to conclude an immediate armistice for a period of not less than three months to permit negotiations for peace. While addressing itself to the governments and peoples of all the belligerent countries, the congress at the same time appealed to “the class-conscious workers’ of the three most advanced nations of mankind and the largest states participating in the present war, namely, Great Britain, France and Germany.” It called upon these workers to help “to bring to a successful conclusion the cause of peace, and at the same time the cause of the emancipation of the toiling and exploited masses of the population from all forms of slavery and all forms of exploitation.”
That same night the Second Congress of Soviets adopted the Decree on Land, which proclaimed that “landlord ownership of land is abolished forthwith without compensation”. The basis adopted for this agrarian law was a Mandate (Nakaz) of the peasantry, compiled from 242 mandates of peasants of various localities. In accordance with this Mandate private ownership of land was to be abolished forever and replaced by public, or state ownership of tlie land.
The lands of the landlords, of the tsar’s family and of the monasteries were to be turned over to all tlie toilers for their free use. By this decree the peasantry received from the October Socialist Revolution over 150,000,000 dessiatins (over 400,000,000 acres) of land that had formerly belonged to the landlords, the bourgeoisie, the tsar’s family, the monasteries and the churches.
Moreover, the peasants were released from paying rent to the landlords, which had amounted to about 500,000,000 gold roubles annually.
All mineral resources (oil, coal, ores, etc.), forests and waters became the property of the people.
Lastly, the Second All-Russian Congress of Soviets formed the first Soviet government — the Council of People’s Commissars — which consisted entirely of Bolsheviks. Lenin was elected Chairman of the first Council of People’s Commissars.
Thus ended the labours of the historic Second Congress of Soviets.
The congress delegates dispersed to spread the news of the victory of the Soviets in Petrograd and to ensure the extension of the power of the Soviets to the whole country.
Ostrovsky, the Soviet revolutionary writer wrote:
“Our dearest possession is life, and since it is given to us to live but once, we must so live as to feel no torturing regrets for years without purpose, so live as not to be seared with the shame of a cowardly and trivial past, so live that, dying, we can say: ‘All my life and all my strength were given to the finest cause in the world, the liberation of humanity’.”
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