Created: Tuesday, 04 April 2017 14:53
Written by FRFI
This article was first published in Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 68 in May 1987. We republish it now, in 2017, in a series celebrating the 100th anniversary of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution and the beginning of the most important struggle for socialism, peace and progress in history.
The pressure of the mass movement was forcing the leadership of the Soviets and the Provisional Government to declare their positions on the real issues which affected the workers, soldiers and peasants - the continuation of the war, and, the ownership of the land. In the first month of the revolution the contradictions between the revolutionary expectations of the masses and the actions of the Soviet leadership and the Provisional Government began to emerge.
On 14 March the Executive Committee of the Petrograd Soviet issued a Manifesto, 'To the Peoples of the World'. It declared that ‘. . . the Russian democracy . . . will oppose the acquisitive policy of its own ruling classes by all means . . . ' and summoned '. . . the peoples of Europe to common decisive actions in favour of peace . . . ', appealing to Austrian and German workers ‘. . . to refuse to serve as a weapon for conquest and violence in the hands of kings, landlords and bankers.'
However, in imperialist politics, to accept something in principle means to reject it in effect. No specific measures at all were taken to oppose the imperialist war. The Provisional Government refused to publish the Tsar's secret treaties of 1915 and 1916 which had fallen into its hands. According to these amicable agreements between the 'democratic' powers, Britain and France consented to the annexation by Russia of Constantinople and access to the Straits of Bosphorus and Hellespont. In return, Britain was to obtain Iraq, France to get Syria, and Palestine would be shared out between them. The reactionary officials of the Tsarist Foreign Office who had been party to the secret treaties remained at their desks; the inspirer of the Tsar's foreign policy, Miliukov, actually became Foreign Minister in the Provisional Government; and on 1 April, with no joke intended, the Chief of Staff in the Tsarist army, Alekseev, assumed the same position in the army of 'revolutionary democracy'.
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