Bolshevik demands on the eve of revolution (1917)

On October 24th 1917, as the Bolsheviks organised and prepared for the overthrow of the Provisional Government, Lenin issued a series of Bolshevik demands:

“The Councils of Workers’, Soldiers’ and Peasants’ Delegates must at once take every practicable and feasible step for the realisation of a socialist program.

The Bolsheviks demand a republic of the Councils of Workers’, Soldiers’ and Peasants’ Delegates; abolition of the standing army and the police, substituting for them an armed people; officials to be not only elected but also subject to recall and their pay not to exceed that of a good worker.

Sole authority must be in the hands of the Councils of Workers’, Soldiers’ and Peasants’ Delegates. There must be no dual authority. No support should be given to the Provisional Government. The whole of the people must be prepared for the complete and sole authority of the Councils of the Workers’, Soldiers’ and Peasants’ Delegates.

A constituent assembly should be called as soon as possible, but it is necessary to increase the members and strengthen the power of the Councils of Workers’, Soldiers’ and Peasants’ Delegates by organising and arming the masses.

A police force of the conventional type and a standing army are absolutely unnecessary. Immediately and unconditionally a universal army of the people should be introduced, so that they and the militia and the army shall be an integral whole. Capitalists must pay the workers for their days of service in the militia.

Officers must not only be elected, but every step of every officer and General must be subject to control by special soldiers’ committees. The arbitrary removal by the soldiers of their superior officers is in every respect indispensable. The soldiers will obey only the powers of their own choice; they can respect no others.

The Bolsheviks are absolutely opposed to all imperialist wars and to all bourgeois Governments which make them, among them our own Provisional Government. The Bolsheviks are absolutely opposed to “revolutionary defence” in Russia. The Bolsheviks are against the predatory international treaties concluded between the tsar and England, France, etc., for the strangling of Persia, the division of China, Turkey, Austria, etc.

The Bolsheviks are against annexations. Any promise of a capitalist Government to renounce annexations is a huge fraud. To expose it is very simple, by demanding that each nation be freed from the yoke of its own capitalists… The Bolsheviks refuse to leave to capitalist Governments the task of expressing the desire of the nations for peace.

All monarchies must be abolished. Revolutions do not proceed in fixed order. Only genuine revolutionaries may be trusted.

The peasants must at once take all the land from the landholders. Order must be strictly maintained by the Councils of Peasants’ Delegates. The production of bread and meat must be increased and the soldiers better fed. Destruction of cattle, of tools, etc., is not permissible…

The fraternisation between soldiers of the warring countries, at the front, must be encouraged; it is good and indispensable.”