"La suppression de la propriété privée... suppose, enfin, un processus universel d’appropriation qui repose nécessairement sur l’union universelle du prolétariat : elle suppose « une union obligatoirement universelle à son tour, de par le caractère du prolétariat lui-même » et une « révolution qui (...) développera le caractère universel du prolétariat ».

Marx (L'idéologie allemande)

dimanche 31 janvier 2010



"Six Red Months in Russia"



D’après les notes de Louise Bryant (écrites en 1917, revues par Mark Jones 2001), jolie femme convenez-en comme Henriette Roland-Host. [Louis Bryant était l’amante et la collaboratrice politique de John Reed. Dans ses courtes mémoires elle livre ses impressions sur Lénine, les bolcheviques et les premiers jours du pouvoir soviétique]. Je ne traduis pas cette fois-ci, les notes sont suffisamment compréhensibles et un vrai lecteur de PU doit au moins connaître la langue anglaise.



The workingmen demand, above all, frankness and the unpowdered truth. An address by Lenin is, therefore, as direct, unsentimental and full of facts as a statement to a board of directors by an executive of an American corporation... The Russians of today... are close to the earth and striving for the stars. Lenin's calm, majestic as a Chinese Buddha's. The Lenins ... had become accustomed to privations long before the revolution, had lived in the meanest quarters of every city they visited, occupy as a rule only one room, where they ate, slept, studied and carried on their revolutionary work. Lenin more interested in America than in any other country. 'We must make friends with America'- for the thousands of tractors, railway engines, cars etc we need. Lenin 'will flay an opponent in debate and walk out of the hall arm-in-arm with him. Every man in Lenin's cabinet, except Trotsky and Chicherin had worked with him +20 years- they are his disciples.' Us editors always asked Louise Bryant to get Lenin to keep a diary. Non vanity- Lenin 'in real distress' when he had to sit for Clair Sheridan to do his bust. Angelica Balabanova said revolutionaries should not waster their time in such a way; but Lenin only sat for a few hours, and worked through'. After the revolution Lenin only had time to attend the theatre once- he went to see Yelena Suchachova in 12th Night. Lenin also went in for hunting and horseback riding. 6 months after October Lenin said 'if they crush us now they can never efface the fact that we have been. The idea will go on'. During the Civil-War when Red-Army morale fell very low and even the trusted Lettish sharpshooters guarding the Kremlin grew discouraged- the enemy was at the gates of Peter. They began to drink the wine in the Kremlin cellars. One night Lenin came down to barracks and, wordlessly, felt in the soldiers pockets, finding several vodka bottles he smashed them on the cobblestones, still without a word. The soldiers were so shamed they never drank on duty again. Bryant talks of the 'legendary significance' which the blockade bestowed on Lenin. One of his best friends and advisers was his sister Anna. In Moscow after the revolution, Lenin and Krupskaya lived in two small rooms, simply furnished, with piles of books scattered about and pot-plants. Lenin always jumps out to greet visitors to his office, smiling and shaking hands warmly. When you are seated he draws up another chair leans forward and begins to talk as if there was nothing else to do in the world...Loves to tell and to hear stories. About Kamenev, Bryant said: he has the genial manners of an American small-town politician. He [Kamenev] is with Zinoviev, and these are the weakest members of Lenin's government; he still has middle class consciousness. Zinoviev : short, heavily-built, flabby; strongly sectarian, vain- 'the most photographed man in Russia'. Kamenev guilty of petty corruption- eg giving away sable-fur coats (state property) to beautiful women: both Kamenev and Zinoviev are tolerated because of the sheer shortage of talent. Pyotr Stuchka - a Latvian, close friend of Lenin, and his adviser. Drafted the First Soviet constitution. Drafted the First laws on marriage, sex equality etc; aged 70, felt he was too old and conservative, so invited 5 young women revolutionists to his office and they drafted the (very liberated!) laws on marriage. He said 'for centuries, women have been oppressed, they have been the victims of prejudice, superstition and the selfish desires of men'- now the new marriage laws should even give them 'an advantage over men' to compensate. Rykov - serene, good-humoured, though terribly persecuted before revolution (7 years in Siberian solitary (!) confinement): 'resembles Lenin', and his natural successor. Dzerzhinsky: tall, noticeably delicate, slender white hands, long straight nose, pale countenance and the drooping eyelids of the over-bred and super-refined; health wrecked by 11 years in a Warsaw prison, where he learnt a habit of self-effacement, even abasement, he is totally devoted to Lenin. Dzerzhinsky is incorruptible, and is determined to save revolution by the Red Terror and Cheka if necessary. Bill Shatov: the anarchist who returned from the States and joined the Bolshevik revolution, becoming Piter's Chief of Police. Now violently opposed to the Anarchists, during a spate of serious robberies, Shatov arrested every so-called Anarchist, holding them 2 weeks without trial- during which not a single robbery took place! At the trial he released all the anarchists who actually knew something about the subject [ie, anarchist philosophy]- the rest were charged. Shatov said that anyway anarchists are the most difficult of all groups during a revolution: nearly every Soviet official's life is threatened, and there were two actual goes atLenin. Bryant's first glimpse of the Red army: 'great giants of men, mostly workers and peasants, in old, dirt-coloured uniforms from which every emblem of Tsardom had been carefully removed. Brass buttons with the imperial insignia, gold and silver epaulettes, decorations- all replaced by a simple armband or a bit of red cloth' (21-22). 'Nobody salutes. At all the stns little knots of soldiers talking and rguing. Women without cosmetics- the 'rouge sticks, French perfumes, powders, air-dye, brilliantine'- all thrown away. On the first days of the February revolution 'The crowd raised a man on their shoulders when they saw the Cossackscoming. And the man shouted, 'if you have come to destroy the revolution, shoot me first', and the Cossacks had cried 'We do not shoot our brothers'. Some of the old people who remembered how long the Cossacks had been our enemies almost went mad with joy' (soldier's story).The shops had no food or warm clothes but were full of flowers, corsets, dog-collars, false hair. Reason: there were no fashionable women left to wear corsets and wigs (most people kept hair short- fear of disease-carrying lice). Fancy jewel-studded dog collars not appropriate either. And the Petrograd bourgeoisie had had expensive tastes in hot-house flowers- orchids, white lilacs etc. Outside the hotels stood dejected flunkeys with bedraggled peacock feathers in little round hats, waiting for the grand carriages with their eminent passengers who never arrived. On the other hand, inside the restaurants waiters had become egalitarian and every table bore a small sign: 'Just because a man must make his living by being a waiter do not insult him by offering him a tip'. After the fall of Riga (sold by Kornilov) Bryant reports this story as probably true: many Russian POWs were trundled on a Sunday to services at which the Kaiser appeared in person and made a speech, calling the Bolshevik rank and file 'dogs' who had killed Russianofficers, those 'brave and gallant gentlemen'. The officers he freed, the rank and file starved, or were put to hard labour, or flogged. Later hundreds of thousands of such tubercular POWs returned to Russia. In his speech the Kaiser enjoined them to 'pray for the government of Alexander III, not the present disgraceful government'. After the October revolution, the trams were not running and there was no electricity or water for weeks at a time. The Nevsky was still always crowded with promenaders, its theatres and cinemas kept going, and there was much night life. The cafes were always full. At one table would be found a soldier with fur cap 'over one ear', a Red-Guard in rags, a Cossack in a gold and black uniform, earrings, silver chains on neck...Before the revolution prostitutes had had to carry a 'yellow ticket' but now the trade was no longer recognised. Many former prostitutes became nurses or 'sanitarki'. Petrograd was decked out in flags-all of them red. The statue of Catherine the Great before the Alexandrinsky Bridge had a red flag hung on her sceptre. Great blotches marked the places where imperial insignia had been ripped from buildings. Overall ruled-King Hunger. The Smolny with its little convent stood on the river's northern flank. Cavernous dark hallways with here and there a flickering light. On the polished white floors where the daughters of Russia's aristocracy had once tripped, now thousands of soldiers, sailors and factory-workers tramped in muddy boots. On the ground floor a great mess hall was now covered with rough trestle tables, where great throngs of friendly people came and went; anyone who was poor was welcomed for a meal of cabbage soup and black bread. The Bolshevik leaders from Trotsky down would frequent the place and talk to all-but not Lenin, who held aloof, remote, and did not appear except at big meetings. In the former classrooms typewriters clicked incessantly. [At the moment of the October rising] Smolny was alive 24 hours a day. All the Bolshevik leaders overworked, haggard. In the great white hall, with graceful columns and silver candelabra, delegates to Soviet came from all Russia. Straight from the trenches, the factory floor, the field. A speech by a soldier: 'A tired,emaciated little soldier mounts the rostrum. He is covered with mud from head to foot and with old blood stains. 'Comrades! I've come from where men are digging their graves and calling them trenches...Something's got to be done! The officers won't work with the soldiers' Committees, the soldiers are starving and the Allies won't have a conference. I tell you, something's got to be done, or the soldiers are going home!' The peasants spoke in religious terms about the land they would die for, and would no longer wait to claim; the workers talked of sabotage in factories by the owners... On 26 October 2 mile parade of peasants who came from the All-Russian Peasants Congress to show support. In Room 17 of Smolny the Military-Revolutionary-Committee met. It was headed by Lazarimov, an 18-year old boy. In the corridors were stacks of lit which people grabbed by the bundle. Weary soldiers slept in the halls and unused rooms. Machine guns stuck out of the windows; rifles stacked against walls among the lit. Armoured cars in the yard, engines racing to keep warm. The tramway workers kept the line from Smolny open even till 4 am when meetings usually ended; in heavy snow falls, men and women from the Vyborg cleared snow from the line, which often only had one tram working. Lenin on Trotsky (after the Brest peace): '[He is] a man who blinds himself with revolutionary phrases'. At the time of Brest a whole division of Bolshevik troops was rounded up by Austrian troops, on the Rumanian front, while sp-called fraternizing was going on. Trotsky in Brest ordered the arrest of the Rumanian ambassador in Petrograd. Next day the corps diplomatique- 39 diplomats- presented themselves at Smolny to protest to Lenin, who thought for a wonderful moment that they'd come to recognise the Soviet government. Lenin good-humouredly agreed to release the Rumanian ambassador, and shook hands with all 39, who departed, only later to discover the Bolsheviks had then ordered the arrest of the King of Rumania instead... (147) On the Soviets: the Soviet is an organ of direct proportional representation based on small units of the population with one representative per 500 people. Equal suffrage, secret ballot, right of recall. The Soviets not elected at regular intervals, but delegates can be recalled by electors any time. The Soviets are based directly on the workers in the factories, peasants in fields, soldiers in trenches. Every town has a joint Soviet of Soldiers' and Workers' Deputies. Provinces, counties, villages all have Peasants' Soviets, and wards in towns. The All-Russian-Congress-of-Soviets is made up of delegates from provinces. (provincial soviets, 1 representative per 25,000). The All-Russian Soviet meets approximately once each 3 months. It elects a Central Executive Committee (CEC) which acts as a parliament. Has about 300 members. The soviets are 'not simply a territorial representation but also a class body' (58) and its representatives are drawn mainly the working class. From the February revolution the Soviets were the real source of legitimacy for both the Provisional Governments. These fell when they were no longer tolerated by the Soviets. The Democratic-Congress at the Alexandrinsky. This [counter-revolutionary attempt] lasted just two weeks. Mme Kerensky sat in a gallery, a visitor, dressed all in black, pale and wistful. She was only heard once, when a Bolshevik orator was making a lengthy denunciation of the Provisional Government and she exclaimed 'Da volna!'- 'Enough!'. [after fall of Provisional Government Mme Kerensky goes into the streets, and is arrested for tearing down Bolshevik posters; released when the guard found out who she was.] Tsereteli, oriental-looking but in a sharp business suit, consumptive, health broken by 7 years hard labour in Siberia. Trotsky like a Marat, vehement, serpent-like, convincing, brilliant oratory, stinging, both hated and loved. Kamenev expressed his opinions in a mild way. Impressions of the Congress: the Kadets, once a liberal party, had become the sanctuary of Black Hundreds, aristos and whites for whom liberalism itself was a crime, but could openly come out now for monarchy etc, privilege. Kadets now the only non-socialist party; the Bolsheviks at the Congress wanted it thrown out of Provisional Government coalition for that reason. The Soviet CEC called the Congress after Kornilov affair. 1600 delegates came for all over Russia. September: wet, cold. On the stage of the Alexandrinsky sat the entire Petrograd Soviet and congress presidium. Represented were all political organisations, co-ops, Soviets, Trade Unions, liberal professions (doctors and lawyers etc), national minorities etc; a unique gathering of representatives of the 180 million people of the Russian empire. Hanging from the boxes were revolutionary banners and streamers. In the gold, ivory and crimson colour scheme were great grey patches where imperial insignia ripped from walls. Kerensky made a brilliant speech, received an ovation, appeared in his plain brown soldiers suit, no decorations or epaulettes, avoided the rostrum, spoke as a common man, as 'tovarishch'. But although the hostile crowd was temporarily won over, did not answer the real questions about his own involvement in Kornilov affair. 'Long the Democratic Republic and the Revolutionary Army!' he ended; 'Long Live Kerensky!' the crowd replied. It was the last ovation Kerensky got. There were 23 elected women's representatives at Congress, notably Maria Spiridonova. A preparliament was supposed to follow the Congress. A vote at Congress told this preparliament to issue appeal to peoples of world reaffirming the Soviets' call for 'peace without annexations or indemnities'. A Bolshevik resolution called for a new government of coalition of all parties, but without Cadets. This was the reef on which the Congress was to founder and drag down with it not just Kerensky and the Provisional Government, but all of old Russia of private property and privilege, which was to now plunge into an abyss. For delegates now heard of Kerensky's plan for a new cabinet with Cadet ministers- virulently ant-socialist ones. Kerensky appealed to the Presidium for support, and Tsereteli, Dan, and Gotz spoke again and again to the Congress on need for a coalition with the bourgeoisie. Lunacharsky and Kamenev spoke against the resolution and accused Tsereteli of altering words surreptitiously from that agreed by Presidium. Then the latter exploded: 'The next time I deal with the Bolsheviki I shall insist on having a notary and 2 secretaries!'. Nogin shouted that Tsereteli had 5 minutes to retract; result was a Bolshevik walkout. Uproar; 'men ran into the hallways, pleading, weeping' (69). The atmosphere completely changed. Spridonova gotup and told the peasant that vote for a coalition meant they would be cheated of the land, and her words were met by 'a sullen, ominous roar'. 'As I watched this change it came to me... it meant civil war, it meant a great swinging of the masses to the banners of the Bolsheviki, it meant new leaders pushed to the surface who would do the bidding of the people and old leaders hurled into oblivion, it meant the beginning of class struggle and the end of political revolution'... (70). But the coalition was voted for by a small majority. The Preparliament met in the shabby old hall of the Petrograd Duma on 23 September. It was dominated by the Mensheviks, and Chkheidze was elected president. An index of drift to right was its decision to discuss the future constitution in secret session- this was furiously opposed by the Bolsheviki, the Left SRs, and the Menshevik Internationalists. During the secret session Tsereteli arrived from the Winter palace to report on the coalition, the result of which would be entry of 100 bourgeois reps to every 120 representatives of the democracy into the preparliament, soon to be renamed the Council of the Russian Republic. Stormy, violent debates on such matters as restoration of the death penalty in the army, coalition, dissolutionof the Duma, a threatened railway strike, the land question (the preparliament rejected, amid terrible acrimony, an immediate handing over of land to peasants Land Committees). 'A new revolution, deeper and in every way more significant than the first, hung like a thundercloud over Russia'. The Council held weeks of futile sessions. On the first evening, the Bolsheviks withdrew, accusing the propertied classes of dominating the Council and of being out to ruin the Revolution. Subsequently, the Council was divided into two hostile camps- Mensheviki, Menshevik Internationalists, Right and Left SRs on one side, the Cadets on other. The left heaped recriminations on the right, the right screamed abuse at the Left. Meanwhile the Bolsheviks gained strength hugely, the cry 'All power to Soviets' grew. Kerensky made numerous impassioned speeches which had no effect at all. He was received coldly and listened to with indifference; the Cadets ostentatiously reading the papers. In one of the last of these appearances at the Maarinsky Palace Kerensky was so overcome with sense of hopelessness that he rushed from rostrum back to his seat, weeping openly. Bryant says Council might still have been saved had a long-promised Allied Conference of War Aims been held but 'with the now-famous speech of British minister Bonar-Law' (refusing a peace of no annexations) the Council's last shred of credibility evaporated. Starving Russia was now left to face another winter of hopeless war. Bryant adds there was 'no doubt' that when the 2nd Congress of Soviets met on 25 October [eve of the Revolution], that that 'tremendously powerful body' would demand immediate action on the burning issues, and if the Provisional Government also refused to act, there was no doubt they would then take power. This was all obviously true- why else did old VTSiK try to stop it meeting? 'Kerensky believed that he ought to prevent this meeting by any means possible, even by force of arms'. But he was out of touch with the popular mood; the masses were now solidly pro-Bolshevik. 23 October: Kerensky orders arrest of members of the Military Revolutionary Committee (MRC). Soldiers of the Pavlovsk regiment hid in the General Staff quarters and heard officers make plans for dispersal of Soviet Congress next day. The Regiment began arresting the General Staff instead. Next day--the afternoon of the 24--there was a strange sight in the square before the Maarinsky Palace. Soldiers and sailors were guarding the little bridges over the Moika river, there was a great crowd of sailors at the palace door, barricades. Rumours fly that the Council is to be arrested. A big Kronstadt sailor goes into the great chamber and booms out: 'No more Council! Go along home!' End of council. 2 pm. As soon as the Council is abolished by a lone sailor, Bryant, together with John Reed and Albert Rhys Williams, another American, go inside the Winter Palace. Junkers are everywhere. Kerensky has fled, no-one knows where. The Provisional Government ministers are still inside. Outside in the palace grounds, women of Kerensky's Death Battalions have turned the winter wood pile into barricades. A small man with a huge wooden camera and tripod appears, and sets up the equipment in the nomansland between the defenders of order inside and the proletarian insurrectionaries outside. At Smolny a bitter debate between Menshevik/SRs and the Left SRs and Bolsehviki is spilling out of halls into the corridors. A Menshevik speaker suddenly announces that the cruiser Aurora has begun shelling the hapless Provisional Government and that all the Menshevik/SR delegates will go forthwith unarmed to die with the Provisional Government, an announcement which causes consternation to appear on the faces of many Menshevik/SR delegates who thus learn of their impending martyrdom. Some do leave; the soldiers stand aside as they pass, laughing and slapping one another on the back the while. Lorries trundle out of Smolny crowded with soldiers and loaded with leaflets and proclamations to scatter to the populace. People scramble over the cobbles for leaflets. They read: 'Citizens! The Provisional Government is deposed. State power has passedinto the organ of the Petrograd Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies'. At 2 am next morning Bryant and the others come across the Menshevik/SR martyrs, with wives, friends and bourgeois Duma delegates, about 200 in all. They are arguing with the sailors guarding the entrances to the Winter Palace. 'Let us pass! Let us sacrifice ourselves!' they criy, wholly without conviction. Only a few sailors bar the way. One says 'Go home and take poison; but don't expect to die here; it's not allowed'. 'What will you do if we suddenly push forward?' asks a Menshevik. 'Spank you' answers a sailor, 'but we won't kill one of you, damnit!' At the Winter Palace the junkers have surrendered, and the Provisional Government ministers are being dragged forth from broom cupboards and odd rooms where they'd hidden and to which Palace staff guide the revolutionary soldiers and sailors. All who leave are searched, besieging Bolsheviks and bourgeois ministers and servants alike. The Palace is stuffed full of treasures; while two soldiers search people, a young Bolshevik is saying, 'Comrades this is the people's palace. This is our palace. Do not steal from the people... Do not disgrace the people'. And a row of shame-faced soldiers, simple peasants in uniform, laid out their booty: the broken handle of a Chinese sword; a wax candle, a coat hanger, a blanket, a worn cushion... Back at the City Duma the would-be martyrs, who had decided after all, not to sacrifice themselves 'to switchmen', now frothing with indignation, have formed themselves into a 'Committee for the Salvation of the Country and the Revolution'. The Constituent Assembly. Bryant is good on this. Method of Russian elections: to vote for a party and a programme; list of candidates is drawn up by CC of each party. Constituent Assembly lists were drawn up in September; elections held in November; assembly is called in January 1918. SR party splits after the list is drawn up; majority of SR rank and file go to Left-SRs, but CC move to right and its list ditto. Elections are held two weeks after the Bolshevik revolution, while the peasantry is still moving left. As the wave of Bolshevism spreads over the country the cry 'All power to Soviets!' spreads with it; by January the peasants had the land; the Constituent Assembly had nothing more to offer in any case. The Kadets were present in the ConstituentAssembly. The Constituent Assembly opened at 8 am on a cold January morning; there is a tense atmosphere. The Tauride Palace is jammed with people. Many of the delegates and platform party carry guns. Viktor Chernov, the discredited SR who had voted for Coalition at the Democratic-Congress, is elected President. Hissed and booed by Lenin when he speaks. Tsereteli the only one listened to by both sides- Bryant likens him to Lincoln and says he towered above Kerensky. Sverdlov opens Constituent Assembly by reading the 'Declaration of the Rights of the Toiling and Exploited People'. At 2 am, it is put to vote--defeated. The Bolsheviks then read out a statement denouncing the Constituent Assembly whose SR majority was actually 'directing the fight of the bourgeoisie against the workers' revolution and was really a bourgeois counter-revolutionary party.' As in 'the time of Kerensky, [it] makes concessions to the people, promises them everything, but in reality has decided to fight against the Soviet government, against the socialist measures giving the land and its wealth to the peasants without compensation, nationalising the banks, and cancelling the national debt'. As the Bolsheviks said, 'the great majority of the toiling people of Russia' demand that the Constituent Assembly recognise Soviet power and the results of the Great October Socialist Revolution. The Bolsheviks now withdraw. The Constituent Assembly rump then proceeds, in one hour, to pass a fundamental constitutional law—which among other things calls for the confiscation of landed property without compensation and the nationalisation of land, and for an immediate peace. It thus accepts the reality of popular desires and expectations, while still rejecting the concrete historical form in which they'd been realised. At 4 am, a Kronstadt sailor on guard at the Tauride said to the assembly 'All the good people have gone, why don't you go? The guards want to get some sleep'. The Constituent Assembly duly disperses, never to meet again. Antonov-Ovseenko: the first Bolshevik Minister of War; had various experiences; as battles swirled to and fro in Petrograd in the days after 25 October, junkers recaptured the telephone exchange by impersonating the Bolsheviki and pretending to be a change of guard; a few hours later they were themselves besieged and captured by the Regimental Guards. In the meantime, Antonov-Ovseenko had walked in unannounced, been 'arrested' by the junkers, and sat in a corner reading Dostoevsky until liberated. The next day he set off in a car for the outskirts of Petrograd where Red Guards were digging in against counter-revolutionary Cossacks. The car broke down and Antonov-Ovseenko and his party set off on foot, but soon flagged down a car returning from the front. Antonov-Ovseenko told the driver he would have to requisition vehicle; the soldier (characteristic lack of respect for authority) said no, the car is needed to get ammunition supplies for the 1st Machine Gun Regiment: 'They don't need any more men, they need bullets'. Antonov-Ovseenko (seriously): 'But I am the Minister of War'. 'Excellent!' said the soldier. 'You're the very man I need!', says the soldier and invites the Minister to sign a requisition for ammunition supplies, which he does, saying 'And now, how about the car?' 'Oh no; we already agreed about that' replies the soldier, setting off at once in the direction of Smolny. Later, they commandeered the car of a fleeing bourgeois, but then discovered they had no food either. Going to a grocery store nearby, they made some purchases and then discovered that neither the War Minister nor any of his officers and aides had any money; an American journalist in the party had to pay. The armoured cars: Kerensky sent them racing up and down the streets, sirens howling, to terrify the populace; on their flanks was lettered in red the name of a Tsar; the 'names of all the ancient rulers flash by in a terrible procession. It was as though they had come back from the dead to curse the new order'. (153). Angelica Balabanova said to Bryant: Women have to go through such a tremendous struggle before they are free in their own minds that freedom is more precious to them than to men'. (169) Maria Spiridonova: Left-SR leader (who turned against the Bolsheviki). She knew several languages, was elected president of 1st and 2nd All-Russia Peasant Congresses, and chair of EC of Peasants Soviet; universally called by the soldiers and sailors 'dear comrade' and not just ordinary 'tovarishch'. She was still only in early thirties, frail and delicate seeming, had spent 11 years in Siberian exile for murder of Lupenovsky, a sadistic Governor of Tambov. After her arrest, Spiridonova was beaten and thrown naked by Cossacks into a dungeon. Refused to confess names of accomplices. Tortured by having her hair pulled out and cigarette burns over whole body. For two days and nights she was passed around the Cossacks and gendarmes. Savaged, comatose, in this condition she was sentenced to death; later commuted to life imprisonment, but Spiridonova was not conscious of reprieve either; still delirious and near death anyway. She returned from exile after February revolution. She made a point to Bryant that in the years before the revolution, of the scores and hundreds sent to exile, most years there was the same number of women as men, or even, more women. The Red-Guards do battle; on a snow-swept morning, 25 degrees below zero, thousands upon thousands of people, in thin, tattered clothes, white pinched faces, men, women, even children, pouring forth from the factories and working class quarters to repel Kerensky's Cossacks. With 'infinite courage, infinite faith' they marched out 'untrained and unequipped to meet the traditional bullies of Russia, the paid fighters, the paid enemies of freedom'. But the Bolsheviks also beat the Cossacks politically- the Decree on Land, it said, 'does not apply to Cossacks'. But there are great Cossack landed estates, and Cossack land-hunger; there are rich and poor Cossacks. An agitation for land began and grew till a delegation representing thousands of Don Cossacks went to (white) General Kaledin , their Hetman, and demanded that the land be divided as it was in Soviet-controlled areas. Kaledin said 'That will happen only over my dead body', they deserted, and he shot himself. Moscow: the Kremlin, 'beautiful beyond description', lit up by a long line of sputtering torches stuck upon poles beside the north wall. Before it, after the six days of fighting it took the Bolsheviks to win Moscow, a huge trench, hundreds of ft long, is dug out of the frozen ground. The tall figures of soldiers, the smaller, gaunt figures of factory workers; digging the 'brotherhood grave' for the fallen. In the Soviet building women are sewing miles of red cloth, with faces stern and set. The funeral procession begins at 8 am; even the coffins are stained red. Behind the 500 coffins borne by young soldiers come shawled girls with round, peasant faces holding wreaths of artificial flowers; behind them, bent old men, small children, babushkas. Cavalry regiments and military bands. 21 January 1918: a huge demonstration, 250,000 people, in Petrograd. Red Guards, Kronstadt sailors, women, children--all are working people. A 'peace' demo at which everyone was armed! A solemn and menacing procession, but most banners bore only the word- 'Peace'. German delegations have arrived in Petrograd to negotiate (a diplomatic manoeuvre related to Brest talks): they are insulted by the parade 'and that was all. But there was a much deeper significance. The people who marched through the snow-covered streets knew that they *had* to have peace--that they were, for the hour, at the end of things. 'But it was a 'forced peace which left every man and woman with future wars to fight; it was an armed peace. ... Almost every demonstration in Russia has a certain symbolic meaning'.


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