A New Imperialist Threat to the Russian Revolution?

From Kommunist No. 3 (16 May 1918)

After a pause we are resuming our serialisation of the translations from the journal Kommunist which existed for only a few months in 1918 but its contents threw valuable light on the revolutionary process in Russia. The two documents which follow are taken from Number 3 and we have put them together here since they essentially cover the same theme – the shift in German imperial policy (and the shift in the Russian bourgeoisie’s own support from the Entente to the Central Powers). The first, On the Eve, is the editorial and finds the editors returning to the issue which inspired them to come together in the first place – the dubious peace with Imperial Germany and the fear that the Peace of Brest-Litovsk of March 1918 might lead both to the delay in the German Revolution and the crushing of the revolution in Russia. The second article, by Lomov, is just a slightly more detailed look at what was going on in Ukraine.

We have already criticised the Left Communists, as they were dubbed by Lenin, over the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk in an earlier introduction (see leftcom.org) so we won’t repeat that here. These two articles are another attempt to sound the alarm that the Russian Revolution faced at the hands of imperialism. To be fair to the Left Communists they were not alone. Rosa Luxemburg expressed a similar view in her The Russian Revolution, that signing the Treaty put the revolution in grave danger from being crushed by German imperialism. However, once again the Left Communists not only turned out to be exaggerating the menace from both Germany and a rudderless Russian bourgeoisie which was prepared to try anything to overthrow the workers’ revolution but even give “unwitting testimony” that the signature of Brest-Litovsk did not bring Germany all the benefits that it has once hoped for. Germany hoped to use the Ukrainian grain to feed their own population but not only was this not as forthcoming as they hoped (after all the next harvest was not due until August) but the puppet governments they set up could not control the territory as they had hoped. The nationalist Rada with its admixture of anti-Bolshevik “socialists” failed to impose government on the territory so were overthrown by Skoropadskyi at the head of a reactionary government. Neither brought stability or order to Ukraine, and German troops had to remain there in greater numbers than General Ludendorff (by now virtual dictator of Germany) wished. The fears of the Kommunist editors thus turned out to be greatly exaggerated. More worrying issues lay ahead as a look at later articles in this issue of Kommunist will demonstrate.

On The Eve

The time of the ultimate test for the workers’ revolution has come upon us. Terrible battles against its mortal enemies are fast approaching. The anguish of imminent losses and miserable worry for tomorrow has set our hearts trembling. Yet, at the same time, in the heart of the proletariat, awareness of its strength and determination is growing; the sickly time of concessions is over, we are entering anew into open struggle against our enemies, overcoming temporary and partial setbacks, advancing towards a near victory. What has altered in the political situation since the start of May, and what changes have really taken place? The right-wing majority of the Party, the part most rotted by the gangrene of opportunism, declares that there have been no changes or that they have been negligible.

Two immense changes revealed themselves at the end of April and the beginning of May: firstly, the change in attitude on the part of German imperialism regarding Russia and the classes that clash with it; secondly, the change in attitude on the part of our class enemy, the Russian bourgeoisie.

For German imperialism, the change consists in this: a shift from the policy of slowly suffocating the Russian Revolution to slitting its throat directly. German imperialism is still struggling in two ways against the red danger in Russia; it continues its military occupation and locks the Soviet Republic in an iron vice by occupying the most important military and economic zones; at the same time, it directs its weapons against the workers’ revolution, that is, its internal class enemies, and thus races to restore the bourgeois order in Russia.

But before 28 April 1918, it relied on the petty-bourgeois enemy of the Russian Revolution, evidently taking advantage of the national interest. It invaded the Ukrainian provinces disguised as the petty-bourgeois and nationalist Rada. Since 28 April, it has abandoned this game; the Rada was dissolved; German imperialism has since relied directly on the principal forces of the counter-revolution: the landowners, the big capitalists and the kulaks. It formed a new government which posed as “Ukrainian” and opposed the Soviet Republic as an alternative State power, that of “independent” Ukraine. In reality, this new power, composed of representatives of the (non-nationalist) counter-revolutionary parties, is nothing but the executive committee of the ruling classes of all of Russia. Ukraine is becoming part of a united Russia. It is therefore not a case of “Great Russia” and “Ukraine” opposing each other, but rather of two regions in a single country, two governments and class relations opposing each other.

Two class dictatorships oppose each other, since in Ukraine there is now a dictatorship of the Hetman Skoropadskyi(1) protected by German bayonets. The class character of this dictatorship is the domination of landowners and big capital.

Since then, Russia has been split in two: into Red Russia and White Russia. At first glance, it is obvious that the two regions thus constituted cannot live side by side. One must consume the other. Here in fact the two class forces which are mortal enemies are incarnated in two different powers.

From that moment on, Ukraine will become something worse than the Vendée.(2) It will not be as in the regions of Don or Kuban(3), where dispatches of White Guards and battalions of officers formed alongside peasant Cossacks and the free and armed labourers, the latter ending up hunting the former. It will not be as in Don, where Tsarist generals were forced to pretend to establish the republic and disguise themselves as democrats. This is the fortified camp of the counter-revolution protected by German bayonets. All the forces of the Russian counter-revolution concentrate on it freely. The officers, the pupils of the military schools, the saboteurs, the capitalists, the former grand dukes, all of them will come together there and form their battalions freely and in total security.

What has led the German imperialists to form a White government in Russia like that of Finland at all costs?

Their position on the Russian and Western Front has pushed them to it. In the West, the outcome of the war remains undecided despite all their efforts. They have long, hard battles still to fight. The more difficult the struggle on foreign fronts, the more tensions, both economic and political, in their own country. They need to secure bread and raw materials for themselves; they need to put an end to the “contagion” of the German farmers affected by the Russian Revolution; they need to avoid the possibility of a military intervention as a result of the repercussions of the Russian Revolution itself in the West and the creation of a Red Army.

Furthermore, in order to achieve all of this, they had to make use of their mortal enemies and support them with bayonets against the Revolution. In order to aid the former, could they steal Ukrainian bread and raw materials for German gain? The petty-bourgeois Rada made the error of failing to completely restore the apparatus of State oppression and economic exploitation, which they neither knew that they had to, nor could do. But who knew better than the landowners and capitalists how to organise State oppression and economic exploitation? Who hated the workers revolution the most profoundly, fearing for their lives, if not the landowners and the bourgeoisie? So, at the defining moment, the Prussian junkers and the capitalists could rely on them and thus allied themselves with Russian capitalists.

However, the situation on the Eastern Front also pushed the Germans to take certain decisive steps. The expansion of the Soviet Republic has ended. The iron circle of its enemies has tightened from Fort Ino(4) to the Kuban; maybe it will soon reach the Caspian Sea? The North is cut off from its supply of bread, coal, probably iron and petrol as well as its access to the main seas. Now, it is easy to attack it, and easy to break its political relations with it and to rely on Pavlo Skoropadskyi, the successor to the Romanovs.

Such is the immediate tactical plan of the German imperialists, such are their hopes. And as for their friends and agents, the Russian landowners and capitalists, such are their plans and perspectives!

They too have “changed their orientation”. Now, the Kiev newspapers sing the praises of the Germans just as they previously did for the “Allies”. At the same time, it is true that the centre of the Constitutional Democratic Party (Kadets) washes its hands of it; they claim neither involvement nor responsibility. It is not just isolated members of the Kadets who collaborate with the Germans at their risk and peril.(5) It is very probably that these individuals will try at the same time to manœuvre with the Allies by persuading them that the Russian bourgeoisie has concluded its “Tilsit Treaty” 6) for the sole purpose of defeating Germany. One thing is now clear: in recent times, the majority of the bourgeoisie has abandoned its dreams of a great power allied to the countries of the Triple Entente. It has changed its political line and replaced its orientation towards a great Russian imperialist power with an internal policy of class domination. Against the workers, even with the Germans — this is its new slogan. Thus, it copies the policy of the French bourgeoisie of 1870(7) and its declaration reveals a great change: the sudden deterioration of the class position of the bourgeoisie and the inevitability of decisive battles.

The clearer the positions of German imperialism and the Russian bourgeoisie, the clearer those of the workers and peasants. After October, it was already clear for the great mass of workers. Now, the last vestiges of class collaboration inside the proletariat have been crushed. The bourgeoisie has thrown down a fatal challenge. Since then, only madmen or traitors and cowards among the working class can speak of reconciliation or a united democratic front. If fatigue and indifference could previously be detected amongst the workers, now the whole proletariat must prepare itself for bitter struggle. Surrender is impossible. The occupation of Ukraine by the Germans and Haidamacks(9) was accompanied by such massacres of workers, such floods of bourgeois terror, that a week or two after the occupation, the workers in the most backwards regions and those supporting the Mensheviks began to revolt in order to pass over to the Bolsheviks. The occupation “educated” the Ukrainian peasants in the same way. It also served indirectly as a lesson to the peasants of neighbouring governments. After receiving the news of the approach of the German troops, the peasants of the Kursk region stood by entire villages, weapons in hand.

The restoration of Ukraine, the formation of a centre of “White Russia” led to a sudden exacerbation of class contradictions. Maybe Hetman Skoropadskyi will at first be master of the terrain. He will try to contain the popular insurrection to aid the German bayonets and the restoration of the State and economic oppression. But the rising of the insurrection is inevitable given the impossibility of overcoming economic distress during a civil war.

This will push Hetman Skoropadskyi and his stooges to rapidly launch a decisive military attack on the North. Just as it is important for the German imperialists to crush the Russian Revolution before its flame spreads to Central Europe, it is important for the occupiers and their Russian servants to crush the revolutionary centre before insurrection erupts in the the South and the German army putrefies in Ukraine. Indeed, staying in the trenches is one thing, but staying in confinements in an occupied country in the middle of a revolution is much more dangerous. Staying passive in the trenches leads to demoralisation, but the goal of the class remains hidden and it is especially easy there to maintain discipline. Being a police force in a country that is not waging a war is one thing, but being a force directed against the struggle of the workers and peasants demoralises ten times quicker. This therefore requires decisive action against the Bolshevik oasis whose corrupting influence obliges them to deploy numerous forces.

A decisive collision is inevitable. Lately the Soviet and German troops have never left the front line. Now, the battles will recommence all along this line. The demands of the restitution of Ino and the occupation of Crimea and Taganrog are the premises of the attack by German imperialism and the Russian bourgeoisie against Soviet power.

Previously, the Soviet power arranged a “truce” conceding to German demands by sawing off the branch on which they were perched. Now, this possibility has disappeared. Without accepting battle and without calling the masses to it, there are only two possible outcomes: either surrender immediately to the other power, or, in the fashion of the Rada, become a keeper of seals that endorses all the counter-revolutionary demands of German imperialism.

Today, all the attempts to “manœuvre” will in reality only lead to the Soviet Republic’s immediate submission to German and Russian Capital. All their demands, even partial ones, will be pernicious. The new occupations, the abandoning of the nationalisation of trade and banks, and all sorts of measures will be steps towards transforming Soviet Power into a Ukrainian Rada: this is what the result will be of the immediate demands of German imperialism. They will all deplete the forces of the working class, reinforce the positions of the bourgeoisie and bring about the defeat of the Revolution.

The orientations of the Soviet policy of our Party must be rectified. In waiting for battle, we must put an end to the policy of hiding our faces and making concessions that disorganise the Revolution. We must openly call the masses to stand up against German imperialism and its stooges in the Kadets and Octobrists; we must organise the struggle against them.

So, should we openly declare a rupture? Those who want to “scare” us with this are missing the point. A rupture is inevitable even to our defending body. In order that the masses understand clearly what they must struggle for and what forces are directed against them, we must reveal all the intentions of Guillaume and Skoropadskyi. It can only be done by demanding that they explicitly define their attitude towards the Soviet Republic, their peremptory demands and the essential features of their policies. Aside from mass propaganda for a civil war, aside from military measures (concentration of available troops, evacuation of central administrations, preparation for a partial mobilisation), the foreign policy of the Soviet Republic must immediately forego the moral and indolent sermons of Chicherin(8), which sound like lamentations of the flagellants. We must reveal the secret plans of the enemies of the Russian Revolution.

Our immediate task is to organise the struggle of the worker and peasant masses against the counter-revolutionary war of the Germans and the “White” Russians. All policies of the Party and of the Soviet Power must be directed explicitly towards preparing for clandestinely organising an insurrection in occupied and threatened regions.

It is important to emphasise the necessity of rectifying and properly defining our internal policy. Hesitations on the economic policy, the rejection of state socialism, propaganda for a state capitalism and the prioritisation of morally perfecting the workers instead of taking decisive measures in organising the economy: all this must be renounced immediately. We have no need to deviate from the path of revolution. Our relations with German financial capital, which the comrades of the right feared we would aggravate through our nationalisations, are broken. As for the Russian bourgeoisie, they want as of now to start constructing a state capitalism with the German generals and not with the right wing of the Bolsheviks. Currently, it would be absurd to hinder the workers from organising production and allow these “capitalist lords ” to retain the right to dispose of their “assets”. The factories must become workers’ factories, belonging entirely to the proletariat, and only under this condition can our homeland become the veritable socialist homeland for which the worker will be willing to shed his last drop of blood. State capitalism, however beneficial this appears to Comrade Lenin, is not socialism, and the state capitalist homeland is not the socialist homeland. When the time comes for decisive combat, the worker must know what it is that he is fighting for.

We must snatch from the hands of the bourgeoisie the final keys to production; they must be expropriated entirely, even if this means their private possessions; we must take the most decisive measures against them and make them unable to administer the territory or attempt a restoration (for example, in the cities near the front, we must take all better or lesser known “public persons” as hostages, and thus liquidate all possible basis for a Skoropadskyi-Vassilenko(10)-Lizogub(11) regime).

This is what our Party and the Soviet power must do. This is what we call for the workers and peasants to do. It is the masses themselves that must prepare for the struggle since the authorities have sunk into their policy of retreat and will not be able to provide the necessary momentum. Workers, learn to shoot, demand weapons, form your battalions and your regiments! Conscious proletarians, awake for the insurrection all those who slumber in the “truce”! Propagandise for partial mobilisation, demand this organisation of the Soviet power! Organise cells in advance in the regions neighbouring the front, hide your guns where the German feldwebels will never find them even with the help of magnetic needles! Take care of the organisation of the future printing presses, and in particular equip yourselves with German characters! Demand immediate passage of the factories to the management of organisations of the working class, the immediate expropriation of the bourgeoisie, and their expulsion!

Everywhere, in the streets, at the crossroads, on the barracks, in the factories, tell them that the enemy is approaching, that it will take away everything you have won and that it will not even allow you a morsel of bread; as the Ukraine shows. The famine, ruin and oppression in the occupied regions will be ten times worse than the worst ailments that the working class currently suffers because of the lack of bread in the Southern Province.

The working class and the poor peasants have no choice but to take up arms. And whatever fate promises us at the beginning of struggle, its outcome is certain. The reinforcement at the back of the class struggle, the disarray of the German troops and the global revolution that approaches nearer and nearer, all of this will come quicker if the struggle in Russia is firmer, all of this will inevitably lead to the final victory when the red flag flies like a flame over the palaces, the banks and the prisons of the whole world.

(1) Pavlo Petrovich Skoropadskyi (1873-1946): Ukrainian nationalist, aristocrat and Russian imperial army general, he led the coup d’état of the 29 April 1918 against the Central Rada and declared himself head (Hetman) of the Ukrainian government. He was supported by the German army, whose provisions he later undertook to supply, a promise on which his administration struggled to deliver. His government was orientated towards a pro-monarchist tendency. Deprived of German support, he was overthrown on the 14 December by Symon Petliura (1897-1926), who restored the Ukrainian People’s Republic, under the direction of a Directorate of Ukraine made up of five members led by Volodymyr Vynnychenko (1880-1951). Skoropadskyi ended up settling permanently in Germany.

(2) Reference to the Civil War in France during the French Revolution, chiefly in the regions in the West of the country, of which the Vendée remains emblematic, and particularly given that it was in this territory where the insurrection broke out against the mass uprising in 1793. The battles would last until 1796.

(3) The Don and the Kuban are regions of Cossack predominance which would generally be areas of opposition to the Soviet power during the Civil War. For an overview of these events, see: Jean-Jacques Marie, The Russian Civil War, 1917-1922.

(4) Fortified construction situated on the border of Finland, which at the same time defended Kronstadt and the outskirts of Petrograd.

(5) In April 1918, numerous elements of the Kadet Party in Ukraine came to the conclusion that only the Germans were capable of putting an end to the anarchy in the country and so were ready to cooperate with them. In particular, seven Kadets joined the Skoropadskyi government at this time.

(6) It was at Tilsit, a small city in Eastern Germany that has now become Sovetsk in the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad (formerly Köningsberg), that the Treaty between Tsar Alexander I and Emperor Napoleon I was signed on the 7th of July, which put an end to the war of the Fourth Coalition of Europe against France. Russia would still grudgingly apply the secret engagements of the agreement concerning the continental bloc against England, considering them appropriate.

(7) The author evokes here the agreement made, scarcely had the last battles ended, between the bourgeoisies of France and Germany against the Paris Commune (1871). Chancellor Bismarck notably allowed a rapid retreat of prisoner soldiers for them to be sent to the government of Versailles which repressed the revolutionary movement in Paris.

(8) Georgy Vasilyevich Chicherin (1872-1936): son of a diplomatic aristocrat, a bright student, he was himself an archivist at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the tsarist government until his resignation in 1903. He then joined the ranks of the Russian Social Democracy alongside the Mensheviks, notably in their Berlin section when he was in exile there. In England during the First World War, his positions drew closer to those of the Bolsheviks. Arrested at the end of 1917, he was exchanged for the British ambassador Sir George Buchanan. Returning to Russia in 1918, he conducted, alongside Sokolnikov, the second delegation to Brest-Litovsk which concluded the treaty, before replacing Trotsky as the People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs. For many of the Bolsheviks, his nomination was a sign that the hopes of internationally expanding the Revolution were vanishing and that it was now necessary to concentrate on reinforcing revolutionary Russia itself through mediations in classical diplomatic relations. He would later be the signatory from Soviet Russia of the Treaty of Rapallo with Germany in 1922.

(10) Mykola Prokopovitch Vasylenko (1866-1935): Ukrainian historian and politician, member of the Kadet Party of Kiev, Vice President of the central Rada after the Revolution in February 1917, he contributed to the installation of the first Skoropadskyi cabinet, in which he was Minister for Religious Affairs as well as the interim president of the Council of Ministers. In the second cabinet, from the 4 May 1918, he was Minister for Education. He refused to emigrate after the reoccupation of Ukraine by the Red Army and retreated to his scientific activity (elected in July 1920 to the Academy of Sciences). Nevertheless, he was arrested in 1923 and condemned to 10 years in prison in 1924, but he had hardly begun his journey to Orenburg when it was rapidly annulled (February 1925).

(11) Fedir Andriyovych Lyzohub (1851-1928): Ukrainian politician, “Octobrist” before the Revolution, president of the second Skoropadskyi cabinet as well as Minister of Internal Affairs until November 1918. He died in exile in Belgrade.

The Russian Counter-Revolution in Ukrainian Guise

The Rada, the Ukrainian body of the conciliators, imposed its power with the help of German imperialist bayonets, and was then driven out by the latter.

Throughout the decisive struggle against the Soviet Republic, the Rada was “set up” to have a “socialist” appearance, when in fact it played the role of an imperialist lieutenant crushing the Soviet Republic and the Russian Revolution. The latter need the service of Ukrainian allies; but now we face new, even more brutal executioners of workers’ and peasants’ freedom. The traitorous cowardice of the Mensheviks and the Ukrainian SRs, who, even on the eve of the Rada debacle, clung to their curule seats(12) and to their power, could not save them. So the delegation sent to Baron Mumm(13) reported to him the central Rada’s decision to designate a new minister while making it completely clear to him that he would give in to all the desires of the German authorities anyway. The Baron responded that the Rada’s message had reached him too late.

He indulgently lectured the disconcerted conciliators. He had previously “warned” the Rada that “socialisation of the land and other reforms would be impossible”. And the conciliators, skilled as they were at their one job, that is, being traitors, were perfectly ready not only to betray the Russian Revolution, but also to accept absolutely anything asked of them. The Rada delegates affirmed their good will by instructing the new minister to revise the agrarian legislation by restoring the private property of the landowners. But they also heard the fatal response: “It is already too late! The Moor has done his work, the Moor may go!”(14) With the bloody massacres of workers, its betrayal of the revolution and the shameful sale of its collaborative soul, the Rada has definitely opened the eyes of workers and the poor peasants of Ukraine showing them clearly who their friends and enemies are. The big bourgeoisie and landowners tolerated the Rada solely for its counter-revolutionary policy. After losing all support from below, the Rada remained suspended in the air, then its toes were trodden on, then it was tossed out contemptuously on the roadside like a dead dog. Its politics were penetrated by narrow nationalism because of their aspirations of opposing the “Muscovites” of the Soviet Republic. In reality this was the smokescreen behind which the counter-revolution of the bourgeoisie and the lords was able to settle its own business. Its nationalism revealed its counter-revolutionary essence in its actions and its policy.

The bourgeois counter-revolutionary policy of utilising national differences was defeated by the march of the Russian and Ukrainian Revolutions. Instead of relying on nationalism, German imperialism is now relying on the counter-revolution of the bourgeoisie and the lords. The sense of this turnbecame apparent in the course of these events. So what are the forces on which the new regime, led by Hetman Skoropadskyi, now relies?

Even the explanation for the causes of the coup d’état given by the German ambassador in Ukraine, Baron Mumm, shed an extraordinary light on the character of the coup d’état and of the forces used by German imperialism. “The German authorities,” the ambassador said, “drew to the attention of the Rada and the government several times … that carrying out the socialisation of the land and other reforms would be impossible.” The sacred rights of the landowners and village kulaks to private property – this was the basis of the Ukrainian coup d’état. It was no accident that the Congress of Bread Producers consisted of landowners, rich peasants and the Kadet party.(15) Kistiakowsky(16), who drafted a report on the agrarian question, took this generous resolution: “Any ownership of the land, based on a right other than that to property, is contrary to the historical tradition of the Ukrainian “bread producers”. For this reason we demand the immediate restoration of the right to free use of the land and the dissolution of all agrarian committees as well as all other committees.” The Congress demanded to add to this resolution the phrase “as well as all other committees”.

The “bread producers” welcomed the following words of Kistiakowsky very warmly: “That which has been stolen in the name of the law must be returned to its rightful owner, that which has been burned must be reimbursed.” The Congress of Bread Producers reunited the citizens that the revolution had “plundered” with those who had “stolen” the land. What is more, in accordance with this coalition of kulaks and landowners, Hetman Skoropadskyi proclaimed in this statement, “The right to private property as a fundamental element of culture and civilisation is restored in full … the full freedom to sell and buy land is re-established … all agrarian committees are dissolved.”

The other force on which German imperialism depended was that of the bourgeoisie.

The representatives of the industrial, commercial, financial and agrarian organisations of Ukraine stated their position in a memorandum: “Socialist experiences are totally inadmissible in the field of agrarian reform, based as they are on the latest proclamations(17) and aimed at abolishing private ownership of land. At the time of nationalisation of property, one principle should govern this nationalisation, that of reimbursing expropriated property. We must express our firm opposition to so-called workers’ control and to all attempts at the socialisation and nationalisation of enterprises. Normal functioning of enterprise is impossible without fully restoring the right of its owners to dispose of it. From this perspective, it is crucial that the government calls for the workers’ organisations (unions, factory committees, etc.) to completely cease all interventions in commercial, administrative and technical activities of the leaders of enterprise. In the current state in which industry finds itself, all attempts to put in place a policy of a universally fixed wage must be abandoned.”

The task of the bourgeoisie is getting rid of all the victories of the workers’ and peasants’ revolution of October. Nationalisation and workers’ control must be completely eliminated. “Full ownership” and the rights of the owner to dispose of his property must be fully restored, regulation of wages must be forbidden. The programme is clearly laid bare.

Skoropadskyi has adopted this programme as well. The interests of the bourgeois counter-revolution are cherished as those of the counter-revolution of the landowners and kulaks. “In the economic and financial domain,” he said, “full freedom of trade is restored and a large space has opened for private initiatives … the right to private property as a fundamental element of culture and civilisation is restored in full.” The economic programme of the coup d’état is that of the counter-revolution of the bourgeoisie and the lords.

Their political tasks are as clear as their economic ones: the abolition of any and all political role for the workers’ and peasants’ organisations, the dissolution of “all” committees, a crusade against the workers’ organisations – this policy is transparent. But the counter-revolution does not end there, it wants to dissolve the Constituent Assembly that will be called.

It will replace it with a new Constituent Assembly elected by census society [i.e. only property holders – ed]. Finally, sitting on his throne at the head of this political programme sits the imposing figure of Skoropadskyi who at least possesses “the full powers of the leader of the territory of the whole Ukrainian state.” The only ones who limit and subject this autocratic power are General Eichhorn(18) and a Prussian lieutenant(19). But no matter, let us be grateful and remember that Ukraine “owes its salvation,” as Skoropadskyi has said, “to the powerful support of the Central Powers, which, true to their word, continue currently to struggle for unity and peace in Ukraine.”

So which parties are represented on the board of the Council of Ministers? Certainly the self righteous ones that do no wrong by the socialist utopia, the parties thankful to the Prussian junkers for the power that they have gained – we have known them a long time, they hate the Germans and were prepared to fight them to the death; the Kadets and the Octobrists. Last year they were accusing the Bolsheviks and their leaders of being German agents, and now they lick the boots of these same imperialists. The committee of the Party of People's Freedom of the region of Kiev (its CC has remained silent) recognises the “necessity” of its members participating in the new government. A year ago, they practically classified anyone who crossed Germany in a “sealed”(20) train as a traitor, and today, its representatives participate in the government of the counter-revolution of the bourgeoisie and the lords thanks to Ludendorff’s(21) bayonets. It is interesting to note that the whole bourgeois press accords very flattering characteristics to the militants of the counter-revolution. Zaria Rossii(22) does not stop there. The journal describes the coup d’état joyously: “In halting the “social revolution” in Ukraine we can only emphasise this: the fanciful experience of historic socialism, bearing no relation to the local conditions, must sooner or later end up this way,” wrote this organ of the bosses. The Russian capitalists, as well as the Kadets, the Octobrists and other forces, practically buried by the workers’ and peasants’ revolution, are attempting to resuscitate themselves with the help of the coup d’état by the German bayonets in Ukraine. They hope to succeed, with the aid of these same weapons, in getting rid of every trace of this “fanciful experience” of the socialist organisation of the economy in Russia. It is no accident that their agent, Professor Kistiakowsky, has arrived in Moscow, nor that the notorious Black Hundreds(23) are now crawling out of the woodwork. The Hetman, the Ukrainian Cadets and General Ludendorff do not limit themselves to Ukrainian territory alone. No, they have “overcome” their nationalism, they have become supporters of a great power and dream of “powerful support from the Central Powers” to carry out a coup d’état, including in Soviet Russia. While they wait, they prepare themselves on all sides in the counter-revolutionary sections so that the counter-revolution of the bourgeoisie and the lords can quickly find a “Hetman” wearing the crown, and ministers who already know how to organise their counter-revolutionary forces. The Russian counter-revolution peers enviously at the Ukrainian counter-revolution. One is awakening the other, and both are counting on the “powerful support” of the imperialist bayonets of the Central Powers.

This is the profound significance of the latest coup d’état; the proletariat will take it into account in its policies.

A. Lomov

(12) A seat with crossed legs given to Roman high magistrates, a symbol of power.

(13) Philipp Alfons Freiherr Mumm von Schwarzenstein (1859-1924): German Diplomat of the Second Reich, stationed in Kiev from 1917-1918.

(14) Quotation inspired by the Friedrich Schiller play Die Verschwörung des Fiesco zu Genua (Fiesco’s Conspiracy at Genoa, 1784): “Der Mohr hat sein Arbeit Getan, der Mohr kann gehen.” (Act III, Scene 4)

(15) Member of the Constitutional Democratic Party of People's Freedom, the “Kadets”.

(16) Bogdan Alexandrovich Kistiakowsky (1863-1920): Russian lawyer and politician, philosopher and sociologist specialising in law, member of the Kadet party, law professor, he was professor at the University of Kiev in 1917 and became Minister of the Interior in the fourth Skoropadskyi cabinet from 24th November to 14th December 1918.

(17) The universal proclamations of the Central Rada of Ukraine were enacted in four instalments on the following dates: 23 June 1917 (autonomy of Ukraine, sovereignty of decisions by Ukrainians), 16 July 1917 (organisation of the Rada and its relationship to the central government), 20 November 1917 (declaration of the People’s Republic of Ukraine, abolition of private ownership of land, an eight hour working day, fundamental individual freedoms), 22 January 1918 (declaration of the National Republic of Ukraine, break with Bolshevik Russia, beginning of peace negotiations with Germany). The quotation here refers to the third proclamation.

(18) Hermann Emil Gottfried von Eichhorn (1848-1918): German officer, veteran of the Franco-Prussian war of 1870, he was promoted to the rank of Generelfeldmarschall (field marshal general) on 18 December 1917. On 3 April 1918, von Eichhorn became supreme commander of the Army group at Kiev and military governor in Ukraine. He was assassinated in Kiev on 30 July by Boris Mikhailovich Donskoy, a Left SR.

(19) The editor is undoubtedly referring here to Eichhorn’s aide-de-camp, Captain von Dressler, who fell victim to the same assassination by bomb.

(20) Reference to Lenin’s return to Russia in April 1917.

(21) Erich Ludendorff (1865-1937): German officer and politician, quartermaster general of Hindenburg, he was also a general in chief of the German armies from August 1916.

(22) Zaria Rossii, independent progressive journal published in Moscow. Terminated in July 1918.

(23) Monarchist, ultra-nationalist, xenophobic and antisemitic organisation that first appeared after 1905 in defence of the autocracy of Romanov and did not hesitate to resort to violence (calls to pogroms, political assassinations). The group was officially dissolved after February 1917, but its members remained active in the counter-revolutionary movement.

Thursday, April 2, 2020