Breaking Stalin

Breaking Stalin

Chapter XXXIV

“Read it again.”
“The telegram says Lenin will make his arrival on the 4th of April.  At the end of the week Soso.”  Stalin stood up from his battered wooden editor’s desk and walked towards his friend, Kamenev.
“You’re sure of it?”
“You know I can’t be sure of it, that’s just what it says.”  Stalin looked around grumpily.  He had been one of the first to return to Petrograd after the revolution.  In fact, it was the exiles within Russia, who had been the first ones back.  Stalin found himself at ease with his cronies from before the war.  He had quickly found Kamenev and Muranov, and they had reasserted themselves as the leaders of the Bolshevik newspaper Pravda.  But they soon saw that in the new political struggle they were outmatched.
Stalin had been shocked to see that there were two governments concurrently ruling.  Something was missing in the completeness of the revolution, it looked half-finished.  The Duma had taken control, led by Lvov.  But the people were underrepresented in the Duma, it was the representation of the upper and bourgeois class, so the workers sided with the Petrograd Soviet, which soon issued Order No. 1.  A directive that no troop was to follow an order issued from the Duma unless it had been approved by the Soviet.
This meant that the soldiers, who were mostly peasants, sided with the soviets, whereas the peasants themselves were in actuality vastly underrepresented.  What was worse for Stalin was the fact that the Bolsheviks were not part of either government.  The Mensheviks and Constitutional Democrats ruled the Soviet, and the Social Revolutionaries and Liberals ruled the Duma.  The fact was that most of the Bolsheviks had been in exile at the time of the revolution and were still trickling back into Russia.
But Stalin had already come face to face with difficult choices over the past few days.  He knew that even if all the Bolsheviks made it back they would still hold an insignificant voice.  He couldn’t account for more than 2,000 members at the moment.  2,000 was a far cry from a social revolution.
And yet that was all the bloodthirsty Lenin called for.  Stalin had refused to publish his articles since he had taken over because he felt they isolated the Bolsheviks.  All Lenin wanted to do was overthrow the Provisional Government, something Stalin just didn’t think could be done with their manpower.
“It’s messy isn’t it?”
“What is?”
“This damn provisional government.  The people expect something more, don’t you think?”
“Hmmmmm.  I don’t know Soso, it’s hard to tell.  We’ve overthrown the autocracy, and committees are forming everywhere.  We’re getting soviets in cities and committees in the countryside.  We’re even getting committees in the army.  The men are refusing to follow their commanders, and yet, the Provisional Government wants to remain at war as if they see victory as achievable.  But yes, it’s quite a mess, a mess of decentralized authority.  A mess of proletarian rule before they are ready.”
They both fell silent.  They already knew they had to get out of the war.  It was only a matter of time before the government agreed to that as well.  But Kamenev was right and Stalin knew it.  The people were unruly; it was as if a bomb of anarchy had been set off in the empire.  The Provisional Government was too weak to rule it.  But so were the Bolsheviks.  Stalin shrugged, “Well then, we wait for Ilych.”  Kamenev looked up realizing what Stalin had just said.

“Yes, we will wait.”

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