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Russian History: XX century

Russian History: XIX entury

Krupskaya's Reminiscences of Lenin

V. Bonch-Bruyevich describes the subsequent nationalization of the banks. This operation was directed by Stalin; Bonch-Bruyevich consulted him, made all the preparations, wrote out orders, and organized the transportation, twenty-eight detachments of riflemen, and so on. Twenty-eight banks had to be occupied, and twenty-eight bank directors arrested. "I told Malkov, the commandant of Smolny," Bonch-Bruyevich writes in his memoirs, "to have a good room prepared, completely isolated from the public, with twenty-eight beds in it, tables and chairs, and to make arrangements to have twenty-eight men put on the supply list, and first of all to have tea and breakfast ready for them at eight the next morning." The twenty eight banks were occupied without any trouble. It took place on December 27, 1917. "Soon afterwards the Commissar of Finance put new men in charge of the banks. Many of the directors who had been arrested expressed a desire to continue work under the Soviet Government, and these were immediately released. Commissars were set up at the banks, and the work continued in so far as this was necessary for concentrating all currency and operations at the State Bank."

That is how we took power.

Our people were terribly nervous. Most of them were quite new to the business and lacked confidence in themselves. Often you would hear a comrade say: "I can't work like this any longer," but he went on working nevertheless, and picked things up quickly in the process of work.

New fields of state activity, new forms of work were being created.

On November 12 a decree was published establishing an 8-hour working day.

Workers' control having been mentioned in the appeal of the Second Congress of the Soviets, the workers started to put it into practice at once on a wide scale. As a matter of fact, the period preceding October had already prepared them for it. The employers had begun to reckon with the workers, and the workers had learnt to get what they wanted. All this had been sporadic, however. A committee met at Smolny under the chairmanship of Vladimir Ilyich, among the members of which were M. Tomsky, A. Shlyapnikov, V. Schmidt, Glebov-Avilov, Lozovsky and Tsiperovich. Some of the comrades stood for state control in place of the spontaneous workers' control, which very often took the form of seizure of the factories, mines and mills; others believed control should be introduced not at all the factories, but only at the big metal-works, on the railways, etc. Ilyich, however, did not think this activity should be narrowed and the workers' initiative restricted. Although a good deal might be done the wrong way, it was only in the struggle that the workers would learn real control. This point of view followed from his basic view of socialism: "Socialism cannot be built up by decrees from above... living constructive socialism is the creation of the masses of the people themselves." (Works, Vol. 26, p. 255.) The committee came round to Ilyich's point of view. A decree was drafted, submitted to the All-Russian Central Executive Committee, and published on November 29. The mass of the workers was very active. Wide initiative came from below. Soon after the seizure of power the Factory Committees Council suggested the idea of setting up a Supreme Council of the National Economy, a fighting body of the proletarian dictatorship to direct all industry. The S.C.N.E. was to incorporate representatives of the workers and peasants. It was to be an organ of a new type. The decree instituting the S.C.N.E. was published on December 18, 1917.

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