The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

May 5:
A New Government Ordered by Imperialism to Continue the War

May 8, 2017

A little more than two months after the revolution, on May 5, 1917 (May 18 by our calendar), a new provisional government was put in place: Nine liberal ministers, plus five socialists, drawn from different organizations, joined Kerensky, who had been the only “socialist” member of the provisional government. The leaders of the Petrograd Soviet gave their support to this coalition. The Bolsheviks, who were still a minority in the soviet, refused to join this capitalist government. In his History of the Russian Revolution, Trotsky relates the feelings of the workers and soldiers about all this:

“The masses, in so far as they were not yet for the Bolsheviks, stood solid for the entrance of socialists into the government. If it is a good thing to have Kerensky as a minister, then so much the better six Kerenskys. The masses did not know that this was called coalition with the bourgeoisie, and that the bourgeoisie wanted to use these socialists as a cover for their activities against the people. A coalition looked different from the barracks and from the Mariinsky Palace. The masses wanted to use the socialists to crowd out the bourgeoisie from the government. Thus two forces tending in opposite directions united for a moment in one....

“The army was in favor of coalition. One of its delegates later–at the June congress of the soviets–expressed not at all badly the attitude of the front toward the question of power: ‘We thought that the groan which arose from the army when it learned that the socialists would not enter the ministry to work with people whom they did not trust, while the whole army was compelled to go on dying with people whom it did not trust, must have been heard in Petrograd.’

“The war was the deciding factor in this question, as in others. The socialists had at first intended to sit out the war, as also the sovereignty, and wait. But the war would not wait. The Allies would not wait. The front did not want to wait any longer.”

The leaders of French and English imperialism played a decisive role in the formation of this government. Their main goal was to keep Russia in the war against Germany.

Kerensky’s tour of the army confirmed this: “On the 11th of May, Kerensky went to the front to open his agitation in favor of an offensive. ‘A wave of enthusiasm is growing and spreading in the army,’ reported the new War Minister to the Provisional Government, choking with the enthusiasm of his own speeches. On May 14, Kerensky issued a command to the army: ‘You will go where your leaders conduct you,’ and in order to adorn this well-known and not very attractive prospect for the soldier, he added: ‘You will carry on the points of your bayonets–peace.’”