Collected and Translated
by MOISSAYE J OLGIN
8. The growing conflict
This essay was published In the Novy Mir daily paper in New York, where Trotsky was in exile, on March 6th 1917.
AN open conflict between the forces of the Revolution headed by the city proletariat and the anti-revolutionary liberal bourgeoisie temporarily at the head of the government, is more and more impending.
It cannot be avoided. Of course, the liberal bourgeoisie and the quasi-Socialists of the vulgar type will find a collection of very touching slogans as to “national unity” against class divisions; yet no one has ever succeeded in removing social contrasts by conjuring with words or in checking the natural progress of revolutionary struggle.
The internal history of unfolding events is known to us only in fragments, through casual remarks in the official telegrams. But even now it is apparent that on two points the revolutionary proletariat is bound to oppose the liberal bourgeoisie with ever-growing determination.
The first conflict has already arisen around the question of the form of government.
The Russian bourgeoisie needs a monarchy. In all the countries pursuing an imperialistic policy, we observe an unusual increase of personal power. The policy of world usurpations, secret treaties and open treachery requires independence from Parliamentary control and a guarantee against changes in policies caused by the change of Cabinets.
Moreover, for the propertied classes the monarchy is the most secure ally in its struggle against the revolutionary onslaught of the proletariat.
In Russia both these causes are more effective than elsewhere.
The Russian bourgeoisie finds it impossible to deny the people universal suffrage, well aware that this would arouse opposition against the Provisional Government among the masses, and give prevalence to the left, the more determined wing of the proletariat in the Revolution.
Even that monarch of the reserve, Michael Alexandrovitch, understands that he cannot reach the throne without having promised “universal, equal, direct and secret suffrage.”
It is the more essential for the bourgeoisie to create right now a monarchic counterbalance against the deepest social-revolutionary demands of the working masses.
Formally, in words, the bourgeoisie has agreed to leave the question of a form of government to the discretion of the Constituent Assembly.
Practically, however, the Octobrist-Cadet Provisional Government will turn all the preparatory work for the Constituent Assembly into a campaign in favour of a monarchy against a Republic.
The character of the Constituent Assembly will largely depend upon the character of those who convoke it. It is evident, therefore, that right now the revolutionary proletariat will have to set up its own organs, the Councils of Workingmens’, Soldiers’ and Peasants’ Deputies, against the executive organs of the Provisional Government.
In this struggle the proletariat ought to unite about itself the rising masses of the people, with one aim in view – to seize governmental power.
Only a Revolutionary Labour Government will have the desire and ability to give the country a thorough democratic cleansing during the work preparatory to the Constituent Assembly, to reconstruct the army from top to bottom, to turn it into a revolutionary militia and to show the poorer peasants in practice that their only salvation is in a support of a revolutionary labour regime.
A Constituent Assembly convoked after such preparatory work will truly reflect the revolutionary, creative forces of the country and become a powerful factor in the further development of the Revolution.
The second question that is bound to bring the internationally inclined Socialist proletariat in opposition to the imperialistic liberal bourgeoisie, is the question of war and peace.