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The Mensheviks' Mistake

October Revolution, Bolshevik Revolution, Bolshevik Insurrection, Red Guards, Petrograd, 1917
Red Guards

The storming of the Winter Palace and the arrest of Kerensky's ministers was announced to the Soviet Congress. The 670 delegates - mostly workers and soldiers in their tunics and greatcoats - had unanimously passed a resolution proposed by Martov to form a socialist government based on all the parties in the Soviet. When the seizure of power was announced, most of the Menshevik and SR delegates walked out of the Congress in protest. That was a mistake. By walking out of the Congress, the Mensheviks and SRs 'gave the Bolsheviks a monopoly of the Soviet, of the masses, and of the Revolution,' reasoned the Menshevik Nikolai Sukhanov. 'By our own irrational decision, we ensured the victory of Lenin's whole "line".'

Trotsky now proposed a resolution condemning the 'treacherous' attempts of the Mensheviks and SRs to undermine Soviet power. The mass of the delegates, who were possibly too ignorant to comprehend the political import of what they were doing, raised their hands in support. The effect of their action was to give a Soviet stamp of approval to a Bolshevik dictatorship.

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