Séances > a Sojourn in the Winter Palace. Seance v.6

and then the lights came on and I gave the following speech:

Good evening
thank you all for coming here tonight
its good to see you
I really appreciate you coming out so late ...so late in October
here in this sleepless city... where we find ourselves together....I know you and don’t know you..we know each other ..here somehow..we know each other..here on this night where those who sleeps and those who don’t may decide the orginization of our waking life ...whether the dream is a dream ...or a pathology of a dream. i cannot tell you.. it could be a dream turned in on itself... a pathological narcissism...a nightmare that we find ourselves in...it may be and may have been only the tranquility of a silent scream which reverberates through the streets..through the markets..through the schools... and along the water’s edge....something sleepless is settling in....something like a restless player in our dreams...that we see but cannot stop ...the player is something from the future that we already have seen before..like words that we are powerless to stop from uttering ...its not dejavu ...but its silent nature sounds like dejavu... and ...here we are...we are here together in october ...sleepless...tired and not tired..afraid but not afraid...fearful for ourselves and for each other...this heavy thing...this embodied storm..physical and flesh like wind..its in our dreams..it hang there like an eclipse....still-dark- changing- bright...all at once..but who or what is this player heavy from the future? that sits a top the portico of our mental palace....seer...prognosticator...what do you see? what do your eyes fixed on the future anterior witness?
“Brokers, lawyers, ballerinas are cursing the oncoming eclipse of public morals. Faith in the Constituent Assembly is evaporating day by day. But the echoes of the storm penetrate on every side: through the market, where everything is getting dear and nothing to be had; through the respectable press, which is turning into one yelp of hatred and fear; through the seething streets
“Nevertheless the everyday routine defends itself with all its might. School-boys are still studying the old text-books, functionaries drawing up the same useless papers, poets scribbling the verses that nobody reads, nurses telling the fairy-tales
“In the capital, to be sure, it was still quiet, but alarming rumours were on foot. The mayor put these questions: Does the Soviet intend to make an insurrection, and how about keeping order in the city? And what will become of the duma itself if it does not recognise the revolution? These respected gentlemen wanted to know too much. The answer was: The question of power is to be decided by the Congress of Soviets. Whether this will lead to an armed struggle ‘depends not so much upon the soviets, as upon those who in conflict with the unanimous will of the people, are retaining the state of power in their hands.’
“From two to six o'clock the Winter Palace was busy with factional and inter-factional conferences, striving to work out a formula. The conferees did not understand that they were working out a formula for their own funeral. Not one of the compromisist groups had the courage to identify itself with the government.
Thus the apostles of moderation tried at the last moment to counterfeit those slogans which only yesterday they had been denouncing as demagogy and adventurism. Unqualified support to the government was promised by the Kadets and Cossacks – that is, by those two groups who intended to throw Kerensky over at the very first opportunity – but they were a minority.
“For eight months the masses had been living an intense political life. They had not only been creating events, but learning to understand their connections. After each action they had critically weighed its results. Soviet parliamentarism had become the daily mechanics of the political life of the people. When they were deciding by a vote questions of strikes, of street manifestations, of the transfer of regiments to the front, could the masses forgo an independent decision on the question of insurrection?
“Demonstrations, street fights, barricades – everything comprised in the usual idea of insurrection – were almost entirely absent. The revolution had no need of solving a problem already solved. The seizure of the governmental machine could be carried through according to plan with the help of comparatively small armed detachments guided from a single centre. The barracks, the fortress, the storehouses, all those enterprises in which workers and soldiers functioned, could be taken possession of by their own internal forces. But the Winter Palace, the Pre-Parliament, the district headquarters, the ministries, the military schools, could not be captured from within. This was true also of the telephone, the telegraph, the Post Office and the State Bank. The workers in these institutions, although of little weight in the general combination of forces, nevertheless ruled within their four walls, and these were, moreover, strongly guarded with sentries. It was necessary to penetrate these bureaucratic high points from without. Political conquest was here replaced by forcible seizure. But since the preceding crowding-out of the government from its military bases had made resistance almost impossible, this military seizure of the final commanding heights passed off as a general rule without conflicts.
“To be sure, the thing was not after all settled without fighting. The Winter Palace had to be taken by storm. But the very fact that the resistance of the government came down to a defence of the Winter Palace, clearly defines the place occupied by October 25th in the whole course of the struggle. The Winter Palace was the last redoubt of a régime politically shattered during its eight months' existence, and conclusively disarmed during the preceding two weeks.
“The tranquillity of the October streets, the absence of crowds and battles, gave the enemy a pretext to talk of the conspiracy of an insignificant minority, of the adventure of a handful of Bolsheviks. This formula was repeated unnumbered times in the days, months, and even years, following the insurrection. It is obviously with a view to mending the reputation of the proletarian revolution that Yaroslavsky writes of the 25th of October: “Thick masses of the Petrograd proletariat summoned by the Military Revolutionary Committee stood under its banners and overflowed the streets of Petrograd.” This official historian only forgets to explain for what purpose the Military Revolutionary Committee had summoned these masses to the streets, and just what they did when they got there.
“From the combination of its strong and weak points has grown up an official idealisation of the February revolution as an all-national revolution, in contrast to the October one which is held to be a conspiracy. But in reality the Bolsheviks could reduce the struggle for power at the last moment to a ‘conspiracy,’ not because they were a small minority, but for the opposite reason – because they had behind them in the workers' districts and the barracks an overwhelming majority, consolidated, organised, disciplined. ”

a version from Trotsky's Memoirs
a version from Trotsky's Memoirs