Socialist Revolutionary CC leaflet, June 1905
The People's Revolution
Proclamation of the Party of Socialist-Revolutionaries' CC, 15 June 1905
Our life has entered on the path of mass people's revolution. The banner of revolt is no longer held aloft only by individual persons, or by those close circles who have been fighting the Tsarist autocracy up to now. This banner of revolt, of liberation from the yoke of the predatory madmen of the Court has now been raised by everyone, in whom the feeling of protest has begun to stir and a thirst for freedom has been awakened. And there are many, very many, who thirst for freedom. Over the decades, revolutionary propaganda has done its deed; while everything around was still and calm, it quietly created an army of protest, drew more and more new elements into its orbit, and the wave of indignation grew deeper and wider. Revolutionary thought and revolutionary action have corroded through the sturdy axle of the autocracy and have undermined the foundations of the present order, built on the incredible exploitation of those who work by those who do not. Revolutionary socialism has been fighting on two fronts, struggling both with the arbitrariness of the throne which oppresses the people, and with the arbitrariness of the economically powerful capitalist group of industrialists and landowners. And when the right moment came, the opposition forces were to hand. And the autocracy, and all those who lived off it, have been shaken on their feet of clay like they have never been shaken before, they have been running around like a Spanish bull faced with a searing lance.
On 15 July Pleve was executed. After a long lull, this was the first historic touch of the searing lance of the revolution. It showed that the door which had held back the triumphant progress of revolutionary will had been blown in by the efforts of the socialist-revolutionaries, and that the tightly-pulled wires of the senseless, venal and corrupt bureaucracy have snapped forever. There is no going back. Events have moved with dizzying speed. Banquets, congresses, meetings and agreements have given way to street demonstrations. All revolutionary Russia has risen to its feet. It has formed a nucleus, to which people are now gravitating who only yesterday were indifferent. The disasters of the war and slaughter, which the Tsar did not hesitate to unleash against Japan, have been fully exposed in revolutionary propaganda. Sentence has been passed - a revolutionary sentence on the Asiatic regime in our country, where the government is invariably the executioner of the people. This is the second sentence; the first was passed and carried out by the Narodnaya volya party on 1 March 1881.
Comrades! 24 years separate the first sentence from the second. From the point of view of the entire history of our people, that is a momentary, insignificant length of time. But in itself, its significance and content is massive. In that time Revolutionary Russia has taken a giant step forward. It will emerge triumphant from its battle with absolutism, grievously wounded, but proud and unbowed. There was a time when it met the enemy face to face and the enemy could, it seemed, have silenced it for a long time. That was in January. The workers of Petersburg, with their gonfalons and portraits went to the Palace Square to pay their respects to the Tsar and bring their voices to his imperial ears. At stake was the last illusion in the Tsar's "unceasing concern" for his subjects. This was an important game. And the rifle shots from the regiments, brought out by Prince Vladimir to defend the courtly gang, decided things. The decision was: "Only through people's revolution can you, long-suffering Russian people of many tribes, throw off the dead noose from around your neck. There is no other way. The Tsar is not with you, but against you." The deception was over. Palace Square became the autocracy's place of execution. From there, the curses against the false government resounded throughout Russia. These curses have hung in the air, and have been taken up by both children and adults.
The people's revolution has begun. In some places a state of revolt has become the normal, everyday state. Not a day passes without a revolt breaking out in villages, hamlets and towns. And above all these stories, individual manifestations of revolutionary protest, there stands the demand for a political overturn, in particular the establishment of a democratic republic, which alone can ensure the best chances for free and planned struggle for socialist ideals. That which revolutionary socialism predicted is coming to pass. The path to socialism lay and lies through the overthrow of the autocracy. And this overthrow is already taking place on many sides.
The autocratic government will not surrender its positions voluntarily. The most that it can do is issue some decree in weasel words to set up some kind of consultative chamber - the State Duma, which is some miserable parody of a western European parliament. But this bogus concession will of course not halt the progress of the revolution. It cannot give expression to the will of the people, and will merely serve as another point to which revolutionary energy will be applied.
The mass revolution will grow spontaneously, its flow will engulf the whole country. In order for it to attain its goal of overthrowing the autocracy and at the same time realise our socialist minimum programme, its force must be organised and concentrated in a revolutionary way. Up to now, this has not happened. How can it be achieved? The only way we can see which will ensure the success of the revolutionary cause is the armed uprising. The past year has served well enough to convince the doubters and waverers that the government cannot be trusted. As it makes a microscopic movement forward, at the same time the government makes an enormous leap backwards. It barely relaxes its fingers before gripping the people's throat still more tightly. It does not want, and is not able, to let power slip from its grasp. And we firmly believe that it will only retreat in the face of a planned, and above all, armed, revolutionary onslaught. Mass revolution demands action first and foremost. And that action must be armed. We socialist-revolutionaries, must undertake that action. The long-awaited moment when we must go from words to deeds, has at last arrived. Even some liberal factions recognise this when they say quite correctly that "society has had enough resolutions, it is time to implement them". Revolutionary socialists should recognise that even more clearly. As this final historical moment arrives, when the autocracy will receive its third and final sentence, it is essential that we are not caught unawares. We must prepare armed cadres and direct the movement, which has now ignited in towns and villages, towards the desired end. And whatever the subsequent course of the Russian revolution may be, we should strain all our efforts to ensure that the coming final act of the revolutionary drama is directed towards our revolutionary socialist ideal, gathering strength from real life.
So - the revolution has begun. The revolution must be armed. The old way must be destroyed. As before, but with even greater energy and greater reason, we socialist-revolutionaries will destroy the furious enemies of the revolution where they are, and those who continue the policies of Pleve will not escape his fate. But in addition to that we set ourselves a definite, concrete task – to arm organised revolutionary cadres and prepare for the decisive battle for land and freedom, for the realisation of our party programme. Because only that sort of rising, with weapons in hand, will bring the working people into the broad arena of struggle for socialism, only it will lead to the goal set out already a quarter of a century ago by our glorious forebears.
Comrades - armed revolt is our slogan! Let it remain so until the task of the revolution is complete!
"The wind is getting up. The surge is growing. There will be a storm..."
We shall meet that storm with our chests and we shall beat it.