Chapter 2 – Marxism-Leninism Communist Roots of the Cold War to the Eve of the Second World War—1848 to 1939

head of Russia’s Social Democratic Party, whose father had at one point taught Vladimir Lenin in Simbirsk. By March 15, 1917 the new parliamentary government was able to force the peaceful abdication of Russia’s Czar, Nicholas II. The Bolsheviks played only a minor role in the Czar’s removal, but it became one of the Soviet Union’s founding myths that a Communist revolution led by Lenin had overthrown the Czar and unlocked the Communist path for Russia.
Lenin’s Betrayal of Russia and his Collaboration with Imperial Germany—April 1917. At this promising historic point of a Russian parliamentary path to democratic freedom, Lenin became a full-scale traitor to Russia, Russia’s democratic Western Allies, and the cause of freedom. While still in exile, he collaborated with the German General Staff, whose invading armies of over a million men were fighting far inside his homeland. The General Staff and German government were no doubt concerned that principled Russian leaders of the Kerensky government’s democratic-oriented coalition might rebuild Russian political confidence and military capability against the German armies in Russia. But if Lenin could overthrow the coalition and quickly make a separate peace with Germany, Russia’s democratic allies fighting in the West would be abandoned by Russia and the German High Command would have freedom of action to move large forces and their equipment from the Eastern Front to fight on the Western front. German agents met with Lenin in Geneva, where they promised to get him secretly to Russia and to finance Bolshevik subversion, with over one million dollars’ worth of gold for his work.
To Finland and Petrograd. The Germans implemented their plan by secretly transporting Lenin, his wife, and a small group of radical Bolshevik associates by train from Switzerland through Germany to Finland. From there, Lenin could readily travel to the new post-Czarist Russian capital of Petrograd, where he arrived late at night on April 3, 1917. The new Russian Provisional Government had amnestied Lenin and other Bolsheviks exiled by the Czar to Siberia and abroad, and Lenin was greeted warmly by his supporters. But rather than initiating peaceful cooperation with the Provisional Government’s Duma (in which his Bolshevik Party had a small faction), Lenin met first with his Bolshevik cadres and then with both Bolsheviks and Mensheviks and set forth “The Tasks of the Proletariat in the Present Revolution,” known as Lenin’s April Theses. Issued on April 4, 1917, the document included the following excerpts:
[On the War] It is necessary . . . to explain the inseparable connection existing between capital and the imperialist war, and to prove that without overthrowing capital it is impossible to end the war by a truly democratic peace, a peace not imposed by violence [i.e., continued warfare].
The most widespread campaign for this view must be organized in the army at the front. . . .
[No Provisional Government or Parliament or Army or Bureaucracy] No support for the Provisional Government. . . . The masses must be made to see that the Soviets of Workers’ Deputies are the only possible form of revolutionary government. . . .
Not a parliamentary republic—to return to a parliamentary republic from the Soviets of Workers’ Deputies would be a retrograde step—but a republic of Soviets of Workers’, Agricultural Laborers’ and Peasants’ Deputies throughout the country, from top to bottom.
Abolition of the police, the army and the bureaucracy. . . .
[Confiscation of Landed Estates, Nationalization of Banks] Confiscation of all landed estates . . . The immediate union of all banks in the country into a single national bank, and the institution of control over it by the Soviet of Workers’ Deputies. . . . Alteration of the Party Programme, mainly:
On the question of imperialism and the imperialist war; . . . On our attitude towards the state and our demand for a “commune state”; . . . Amendment of our out-of-date minimum programme; . . . Change of the party’s name [from Bolshevik to Communist]. . . . A new [Communist] International. (headings added)2
Lenin’s Anti-Democratic Plots—March through October 1917. In the following months, the Russian Provisional Government and its parliament, the Duma, engaged in lively debates on issues of society and war and agreed on open elections to take place in November. Lenin’s Bolsheviks, in contrast, fostered anti-war fever and organized “Red Guard” cadres and “soviets” to prepare for a coup against the Russian Provisional Government that would end Russia’s path to democracy. The Czar was long gone, but Lenin considered the Provisional Government coalition an enemy of his revolution, and had no confidence that his own Bolshevik Party could come close to winning a competitive election. In April, June, and July 1917, he thought street demonstrations could lead to a revolutionary situation in which the Bolsheviks could seize power in Petrograd.
[Book pg. 29]