Breaking Stalin

Breaking Stalin

Chapters II, III, and IV-Disappearing the opposition

“Shall we put it to a vote?”  There was a loud murmur of consent from the left side of the room.  The smaller right side was silent.
“All in favor of our new resolution on the distribution of land?”  The left side raised their hands.  “Any opposed?”  The men on the right side sat motionlessly staring at their counterparts.  The secretary raised his voice again.
“Very well, the motion passes 302 votes to none.  And the chair recognizes Mr. Lenin.”  Lenin had stood up from his place on the right side.
“Comrade Chernov, We ask again that the Constituent assembly recognize the Council of People’s Commissars or Sovnarkom as the leading government body.  We ask again that we put the Soviet government to a vote.”  The room was still, but for the few copyists’ quills scratching in the room.  Again the chairman spoke, but this time he sounded frightened.
“Very well, all in favor of voting on the Sovnarkom?”  The small side on the right raised their hands.  “All opposed?”  In unison, the entire left side raised their hands.  “The resolution fails to pass in a vote again.”  A tall man on the left side rose to his feet.
“Now that we’ve approved the distribution of land, let us continue with our alliances.”  His voice droned on, but Lenin remained standing, staring at his enemy.  He stood for what seemed like hours as the Constituent Assembly passed another law without even considering the Bolsheviks on the far side of the hall.  Finally Lenin beckoned to the others and without a word they filed out of the hall onto the dark wintery streets outside.
Chernov and the rest continued without stop, passing resolution after resolution.  Finally, at around 4:30 in the morning a sailor entered and whispered to Chernov that the guards were tired.  It was time to end for the day.  Chernov stood up and a grave silence fell on the assembly.  “We must end for the night, but the people are with us!  Remember that my friends.  We will meet again in the morning.”  Chairs scraped as men rose, congratulating each other on the amount they had accomplished, but there were a sober few, who got up and left without a word.  They were those who had come late and had seen the Latvian regiment violently disperse the crowd.  Yes, the people were with them, but the army was with the Bolsheviks, and they were unsurprised when they arrived the next morning to find the doors to the Tauride Palace bolted shut.
“So much for democracy.” One delegate said in disgust.  No one knew just how right he was.

Lenin swung around in his chair shunning the back of his bald head to the dark window behind him.  A dimly lit figure, his freshly pressed gray suit silhouetted by the light outside the room, stepped inside the room and closed the door.
“Ach, Leva, won’t you come in and sit down.”  Came Lenin’s cordial high-pitched voice.  Trotsky sat down near Lenin taking off his spectacles and wiping them with his jacket.
“Volodya, it’s starting to get messy out there.”  Lenin turned back to look outside his dark window.
“You know…it’s dirty in here too.”  Trotsky nodded.
“And what…are we planning to do about it?”  Lenin turned back and gazed apprehensively at his friend.  He stood up, pulling a large sheet of paper out of his cabinet, and beckoning Trotsky to him.
“Do you know what this is, Leva?”  Trotsky looked down at the paper taking in every detail.
“Is that Dzerzhinski’s signature?”
“Yes.  I had the Cheka (Extraordinary Commission to Combat Counterrevolution and Sabotage) sign off on it.  It’s a report of all anarchist groups and any counter-revolutionary groups.”  He gave Trotsky a sinister smile.  “Just to be safe.”  Trotsky laughed sarcastically.
“Do you intend to raid them?  Attack them?  Just keep tabs on them?  I mean the pacifists just managed to outlaw the death penalty.  That’s a mighty big list, and we have no means of controlling them.”  Lenin looked back outside his window.
“You and I both know that in order for the revolution to survive, the people have to be coerced.  The list is long because we are notoriously without any means to suppress them.  We are in power because the workers in cities like us, but if we are to remain in power, we must either form coalitions with those the peasants like, or the peasants must come to fear our power.  But we must wait for our opportunity.  You and I are militant warlords, something the other parties lack.  The more we fail to reach consensus with them the angrier they will become, until they walk out, and it will be then that we must establish total control.  Can I count on you comrade?”  Trotsky’s chin quivered with excitement.
“I’ve always said, we wouldn’t enter into the kingdom of socialism in white gloves on a polished floor.”

“Read the decree boy!”  A young man in his tattered brown clothes stood in front of the large house on the outskirts of Moscow.  His hysterical breathing was nothing compared to the terror on his face.  “I said read!”  The man gulped looking around at the men in their brown uniforms machine guns and artillery pointed at the house.  He began with a squeak.
“I-it is the mandate of the Council of People’s Commissars that all anarchist organizations cease their current activities of counter-revolution and are h-hereby disbanded.  Any continued meeting of such organizations or rhetoric in the streets is hereby prohibited by force of law.  The anarchist newspaper will cease printing and will hereby become state property.  Any who give themselves up willingly will be granted amnesty and will not be persecuted for their prior crimes.”  The policeman took back the decree.
“Well, you heard him, one of your own, if you come out now, we will let you go unharmed.”  A voice rang out from the dark house.
“Yeah, and what if we don’t?”  The police officer smiled.
“Well, then it will be the pleasure of my men to escort you from the premises.”  A few moments of agitated silence ensued.  A horse whinnied, the soft breeze brushed a tree against a fence in the distance.

“Come now, we haven’t got all night.”  The dark house was silent.  Suddenly a shot was fired from the side of the house.  Another rang from behind the policemen themselves.  The men turned and fired haphazardly into the darkness.  The artillery and machine guns roared, blowing holes into the sides of what had once been the home of the Club of Anarchists in Moscow.  The brutal repression of anti-communist forces had begun.

© A River Runs Through It Photography

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