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UNEMPLOYED
COUNCILS IN
S L PETERSBURG
IN 1906

BY SERCEI MALYSHEV

h .0? mA'ATMJiTic iM lv m try library*

WORKERS LIBRARY PUBLISHERS


10*1
UNEMPLOYED COUNCILS
I N ST , P E T E R S B U R G
IN 1906

B y SER G EI M A L Y SH E V

WORKERS' LIBRARY PUBLISHERS


T h is P a m p h le t is p re p a re d tiu d tr the su p e rv isio n o f the S o tie ly
o f O lil R a l s h t v i & s , M o s c o w .

hi th is series is also p u b lish ed " The S trike of th e


D re d g in g F le et i n 1 9 0 5 , " by S e r g e i M a l y s h e v , t r n d “ F r o m th e
F ebruary R ev o lu tio n to th e Novem ber R e v o l u t i o n , ’' by
Ilyin -G en evsky.

Copyrigh t, 193 I
W O R K ER S' LIB R A R Y PUBLISHERS
P.O.B. 148-STA. D. N E W YO R K

PRINTED IN GREAT BRITAIN


by S E R V I C E P R I N T E R S LTD.
W !: i i c L i o n S t r e e t , N,t.
CONTENTS
Biographical N ote ... ... ... ... 5

Mass Unem ploym ent o f 1 9 0 5 - 1 9 0 6 and the


O rganization o f the Council ... ... 7

Starvation am ong the Unem ployed Increases ... 10

H ow the Unem ployed Council was Organized 12

The Unem ployed A ttack the St. Petersburg


City D um a ... ... ... ... 17

The M ensheviks Fight against the Unem ployed


Organizations ... ... ... ... 20
T he First O rganization o f the Unem ployed in
the St. Petersburg City D um a ... ... 21

A t the R ound Table w ith the Bourgeoisie ... 26

The Ciry D um a Finances Strikes ... ... 28

O rganization o f Public W o rk Delayed ... 31

A N ew Delay ... ... ... ... 36

The Unem ployed Invade the D um a a T hird Tim e 40


T he Alleged A rm ing o f the W orkers ... 41
O rganization o f W o rk ... ... ... 48
B IO G R A P H IC A L HO TE.
Sergei M alyshev was born in 1881. W h e n he was eight
years old, he was brought by his father, a very poor peasant
of the Yaroslav guberniya, to St. Petersburg, and apprenticed
to a shopkeeper. H e grew into what they called a “fine lad.”
However, as he grew older the inclination grew upon him to
w o r\ in industry and he determined to become a factory wor\er.
M alyshev joined the Bolshevi\ organization in St. Petersburg
even before the first Russian Revolution. A s one of its active
workers he was frequently subjected to the persecutions of the
tsarist government. In prison, on his way to exile, fleeing from
exile, or living as an outlaw, he always continued his party
w or\.
The Revolution of 190? found M alyshev in Kostroma, a
textile centre, under the name o f “Pozharni” (Fireman), w o r \'
ing in the Bolshevi\ organization.
W Jien tJie first Kostroma Soviet of W orkers’ Deputies was
organized in 190?, M alyshev was elected chairman. W h en tfie
Revolution of 1905 was crushed he fled from Kostroma to St.
Petersburg. This pamphlet deals w ith his w o r \ in this period.
A fte r 1908 he again /e!t the severity of the tsarist govern-
m ent’s repression. For many years he lived as an outlaw.
He was one o f the most active participants in the October
Revolution and after its victory held many responsible positions,
chiefly business posts.
The complete liquidation of unem ploym ent in the Soviet
Union prom pted him to write his reminiscences o f the struggle
of the unemployed under the old, hated, tsarist, capitalist
regime.

1
U N E M PL O Y E D CO UN CILS IN ST. PE T E R SB U R G
IN 1 9 0 6 .
M A SS UNEM PLO YM ENT OF 1905-1906 AND TH E ORGANIZATION
OF T H E COUNCIL.
Twenty-five years ago, in A pril, 1906, the first St. Petersburg
Soviet of W orkers’ Deputies and the Moscow armed uprising
were suppressed by the tsarist government. It was then th at
we, a group of Bolshevik workers and intelligentsia, at the
decision of the Bolshevik P arty organization, created a new
proletarian revolutionary organisation in St. Petersburg. "We
organized the locked-out masses of unemployed and established
a general staff for this army—the St. Petersburg Unemployed
Council. O u r party also tried to organize the unemployed in
other industrial centres, such as Moscow, Odessa, etc., but
these were short-lived : they were suppressed at the end of
1906. But in St. Petersburg, this organization of the unem­
ployed fought the bourgeoisie and the government for more
than tw o years, and was only destroyed by the secret police
and gendarmes in 1908.
Twenty-five years ago, unemployment was artificially created
in tsarist Russia to teach the revolutionary workers a lesson.
A lockout was declared towards the end of October 190?, and
all factories and mills, both state and private, were closcd.
Thus the government and the bourgeoisie threw hundreds of
thousands of workers and tbeir families — in St. Petersburg,
Moscow, the Urals, Kharkov, Odessa, and other cities — into
the clutches of hunger and poverty. But the rulers of Russia
were not satisfied w ith this. They were always finding new
ways in which to punish the revolutionary proletariat. The
lockout was not enough. T he government organized gangs of
the so-called Black H undreds and incited them to attack the
workers' organizations and individual workers in their homes
with rifles and bombs.
Battles w ere fought in almost ail the districts of St. Peters­
burg and in other cities as well. But these activities of the Black
H undreds only stimulated the workers to strengthen their
frganij^dons of self-defense, and the Black Hundreds were
severely repulsed.
The lockout which had been declared in St. Petersburg at
the end of October, 1905, continued until A pril, 1906. It
was directed by the rulers of Russia, and the principal leaders
of industry - Ryabushinsky, Gukasov, Nobel, Denisov, and
others. A nd naturally, this and the other means adopted to
fight the working classes and teach them a lesson was extra'
ordinarily well organized.
A t first, the Soviet of W orkers’ Deputies took the response
bility for the tens of thousands of workers throw n out on the
streets by the lockout. But as soon as the Unemployed Council
was organised it took charge of the movement, and registered
all the locked out workers. This registration revealed an
interesting fact— that 54 per cent, of the workers who had
been locked out were highly skilled workers, metal workers;
18 per cent, were joiners, carpenters, stone masons and of
other skilled occupations; and that only 2 1 per cent, were
common labourers. These figures showed that the capitalists
vented their w rath on those who fought in the front ranks of
the working class.
The Soviet of W orkers’ Deputies was faced at the beginning
of the lockout with the problem of finding some way in which
to help the unemployed who were hungry and poverty 'Stricken.
Those early months, October, November and December of 1905,
had to be devoted largely to questions concerning the unem­
ployed, for, important as the political question was, hunger
was making itself felt with increasing force, even though it had
not broken the proletarian will to struggle. Questions on how
to help the unemployed were raised at almost every meeting
of the central revolutionary proletarian paper.
It was at the suggestion of the Bolshevik group of the Soviet
of W orkers’ Deputies that a commission of unemployed was
organized, which opened departments in all the working class
districts of St. Petersburg. Later the commission adopted the
resolution of the Soviet of W orkers' Deputies to deduct one
per cent, from the wages of all the workers at the factories.
mills, and other institutions, for the unemployed. T hey also
organised a voluntary collection a t all meetings and gatherings.
These and other measures brought into the Soviet of W orkers’
Deputies and its commissions some tens of thousands of rubles
;tnd made it possible for the commission of unemployed to take
some real steps to help the unemployed. A num ber of dining'
rooms w ere opened in the St. Petersburg districts. W orkers
w ith families were given suppers to take home while unm arried
workers ate in the dining-rooms. Besides, the commission of
unemployed gave financial relief to the workers and their
families: ?0 kopeks a day for each adult, and 15 and 10
kopeks for children. Liberal groups in St. Petersburg also
opened dining-rooms fo r the unemployed because elections to
the State D um a were then approaching and they w anted to
benefit politically by giving help to the unemployed.
In its political and economic struggle, the Soviet of W orkers’
Deputies turned its attention to the St. Petersburg C ity Duma.®
It passed the following resolution, which a special delegation
from the Soviet of W orkers’ Deputies was to present a t the
C ity D u m a :
1, T he D um a must take immediate measures to regulate
the supply of food to the num erous masses of workers.
2. It must assign buildings for meetings.
7>. It m ust cease bringing gendarmes, police, etc., into
buildings.
4. It m ust give an account of how the sum of 15,000
rubles, which it received for the workers of the Narvsky
district, was spent.
5. It m ust release sums of money from the public fund,
which it has at its disposal, for the needs of those fighting
for the freedom of the proletariat, and for the students
who w ent over to the side of the proletariat.
6 . It must take immediate measures to w ithdraw the
soldiers from the city w ater works and place the buildings
a t the disposal of the workers.
* C ity Council.
9
O n Octobcr 16, a t 2 p.m., w hen the delegation from the
Soviet of W orkers’ Deputies arrived at the City Duma, large
detachments of armed police met it in the building, and a
company of soldiers was on the staircase of the Duma. The
town councillors had been w arned by telephone of the proposed
visit of the delegation from the Soviet of W orkers' Deputies
and had not come to the session. Instead, a number of members
of the Committee of die Dum a received the delegation, heard
w hat they had to say, asked them to clear out, and then, in
their absence, decided to refuse all the demands.
A n d it could not have been otherwise. The mayor, die
members of the administration and the councillors of the City
D um a were all pow erful capitalists or their representatives—
lawyers, directors of factories and mills, landlords, judges and
other officials; the very ones who had locked out the workers.
STARVATIO N AMONG TH E UNEMPLOYED IN C R E A S E S.
In January, 1906, unemployment, w ant, and hunger grew
even more intense. The semi-legal commission of the unem ­
ployed worked feebly because it had no money. M oney had
almost stopped coming in. The locked-out workers had sold
their last belongings and were finally faced w ith starvation.
A fter the defeat of the uprising in Moscow and other cities
I had to leave Kostroma where the terrorism of the Black
H undreds and the armed forces had compelled the Kostroma
Soviet of W orkers’ Deputies to liquidate its activity and go
underground, and I— its president— was forced into hiding. O n
a locomotive, in a soiled jacket and cap, w ith a grimy face, I
was gotten out of Kostroma by some comrades — railroad
wrorkers. I determined to go to St. Petersburg where our
Bolshevik Party centre was situated, for it was essential to give
it a detailed report on everything. Besides, this proletarian
capital— St. Petersburg— was more suitable as a place to live
underground since I had worked in factories there and had
also carried on Bolshevik work underground. It would also
be easier for me to hide myself and get a night’s lodging from
the workers there than in any other city.
10
O n my arrival in St. Petersburg, I immediately presented
myself a t the p arty organisation headquarters, and after meeting
the p arty leaders, w ent to the V yborg district. T here I met
a good comrade, an underground Bolshevik worker, Simon
Loktev. He had also come to St, Petersburg from a district
of great revolutionary events only a week before and had
already succeeded in learning all the p arty news. H e told
me th a t our Bolshevik leaders had decided to give full support
to the unemployed movement which was then just beginning.
H e invited me th at same evening to a meeting of the deputies
from the district organizations of the unemployed, to be held
in the Lesny district. A member of the Party Committee,
Com rade ICairsky, was to speak at this meeting for the St.
Petersburg group of Bolsheviks. W e had some hours at our
disposal before the m eeting so we walked up and dow n the
Sampsonevsky Prospect as we compared notes on the past
events. W e w anted to go into a beer hall, but the state of
ou r finances and the fear of spies held us back. W e got into
a street car and w ent to the centre, to the Nevsky Prospect.
Passing along the Liteini, on the upper deck of the street car,
we watched the moving crowd— quite unlike the group we
joined later in Lesny. W e were hungry and would have liked
to go to Filippov’s for some food, b u t an examination of our
pockets convinced us that that was a pleasure we w ould have to
deny ourselves.
Strolling along the Nevsky, we watched the well-fed, con­
tented bourgeoisie. Some— of higher rank— rode in magnificent
carriages, w ith coats of arms and one or tw o splendid horses;
others, a lower estate — a bourgeois crowd — moved on foot
along the Nevsky, filling the centre of the city, along Sadovaya,
along the G ostin Row. They w ent into the stores filled with
goods, came out w ith armfuls of purchases, and youngsters,
laden w ith these purchases, dragged after them to their homes.
A ll th at there was in these stores, stands, and warehouses,
produced by the proletariat, was quite accessible to the bour­
geoisie. W e also w ent several blocks up along the Nevsky
but we could only look into the Soloviev store. W e could not
11
go iii and buy even a quarter of a pound of sausage because
the m erchant Soloviev’s well-fed salesmen would not w ant to
sell such small portions, and further, the price of sausage did
not fit the size of our pockets.
T o relieve our feelings we swore roundly, linked arms, and
turned away from this smug Nevsky. W e w ent along narrow
alleys and finally, at Bassein Street, found a cheap restaurant
where the two of us filled up on some kind of tripe for two
kopeks.

MOW TH E UNEMPLOYED COUNCIL W A S ORGANIZED.

A t 8 o’clock that evening, we sat in a country house at


Lesny where the delegates who were to consider the question
of helping the unemployed had gathered and w ere waiting
for the representative of the St. Petersburg Bolshevik group.
This comrade was also the chairman of the Unemployed Com­
mission. W hile we were waiting we acquainted ourselves with
the situation in the district. The majority of the delegates
were members of our Bolshevik circles. A ll of them, of course,
as the most active workers, had been driven from the factories
and blacklisted. But they did not look as if they and their
families had been throw n out on to the streets and w ere starv­
ing; the science of Bolshevism had taught them, above all, to
control themselves and not break down no m atter what
happened.
The chairman of the commission arrived, greeted us, and then
turned to a student standing there, our host. H e w anted to
know if everything had been seen to, should the police or the
gendarmes raid the place. T he shaggy-haired student of the
Lesny Institute looked for a second through the windows into
the garden and then assured him th a t every emergency had
really been provided for. G uards had been placed in the
garden and the park. A t the approach of the police, they
would immediately inform us, and those who had gathered
would have ample time to get away. T he chairman of the
Unemployed Commission laughed and said that they could be
u
sure that they would not be taken either by the gendarmes or
the police, for they would have to be fed in prison and the
bourgeoisie had dismissed them in order to starve them to death.
W e got down to the business of the day. O u r Bolshevik com'
rade started hia report on the condition of the unemployed.
T he funds of the unemployed were exhausted. The levy on
wages in the factories and mills was ceasing becausc the em­
ployers were obstructing the collection, and in some places
they had ordered the officers not to give the money deducted
to the Soviet of W orkers’ Deputies. The situation in the dis'
tricts was desperate.
“This, we suppose,” said the speaker, turning to the delegates,
“you yourselves know well, but you must remember that such
a situation threatens to last. Individuals and entire groups of
‘undesirable’ workers are being turned out of the factories and
mills. All th at the unemployed had in the way of clothes and
other valuables have been sold or pawned during this period.
T he term for redeeming these belongings is approaching and
there is nothing to redeem them with. T he things are being
lost. The landlords are throw ing the workers and their families
into the streets w ithout pity. T here are thousands of such
cases in all the workers’ districts.
“W e cannot help these families of the unemployed who are
being throw n out on the streets. Some collections are being
made for the unemployed at workers’ meetings, in trade unions,
among the students, but these sums are so small that we cannot
do anything substantial. Dining-rooms are being opened by
the Soviet of W orkers’ Deputies and some liberal groups in
all districts. These provide some tens of thousands of dinners,
but they may be closed because the liberals, who are campaign­
ing for elections to the Duma, will soon stop contributing
money for them. T here are 24 workers’ dining-rooms alto­
gether in St, Petersburg, and the unemployed receive 9,453
dinners a day,” read the speaker, bringing the paper closer
up to his pince-nez;. “ The dining-rooms in the Moscow district
are supplying 450 dinners a day; in N arvsky there are tw o
dining-rooms giving 385 dinners a day; in Gorodskoy, 4 dining­
13
rooms give 1,100 dinners; in Vasileostravsky, 4 giving 1,250
dinners a day; in the Petersburg D istrict, 2 giving 550 dinners;
and in Vyborg, 2 giving 450 dinners a day.”
A fte r he had finished reading the figures, the speaker urged
th a t the delegates immediately organise an unemployed com­
mission a t each dining-room whicb would not only audit the
accounts but would direct the business end of the dining-room
and administer it generally. F urther on, the speaker declared
th a t the situation of the unemployed a t the given moment was
grave, but not hopeless.
“T he Bolshevik group, in whose name I speak now ,” said
the comrade, “supports the unemployed movement and helps
us organise ourselves into a strong organisation. It is essential
to organise all the unemployed and set up a leading body— an
Unemployed Council. This council, w ith the help of the u n ­
employed, must start a struggle for bettering the condition
of the unemployed not only through the distribution of dinners
and 30 kopeks a day, but chiefly by getting the C ity D um a to
organise large-scale public work for the unemployed. The
unemployed are not paupers, they do not w ant charity. They
demand bread and work. The question must be so presented
th at our demands to the City Dum a win the support of all
the workers in the factories and mills. T he city must organise
public work. T here is quite enough w ork of that kind to be
had in the city and it is now being given to various contractors
who give the city administrators large bribes. The most highly
skilled workers of all trades are to be found among the unem­
ployed. They can do all types of work. T he city has a
num ber of contracts essential for public welfare; for instance,
the construction of tramways. T he city has decided to replace
horse-cars by electric cars, and it will not be able to do this
unless the streets are paved. T hat opens up the possibility of
providing public work for the unemployed. W e must take
steps to see th a t the city provides this public work, therefore
I move that all the proposals which I have suggested be taken
up by the meeting, adopted, and immediately carried out,
because hunger and poverty will not w ait."
The delegates listened silently and very attentively to the
speaker. W hen he had finished, others got up to speak. Each
one welcomed the suggestions made by the Bolshevik organiza­
tion and spoke briefly and clearly on how to realise them. A ll
the proposals of the speaker were unanimously adopted. It
was decided to organize an Unemployed Council by holding
elections at the dining-rooms where the unemployed were
getting their dinners, and a group of worker Bolsheviks were
assigned to carry on the agitation for it and get the elections
carried through. The council was to consist of thirty delegates
from the unemployed. It was also decided at this meeting to
print leaflets calling on the unemployed to organise themselves
immediately as the only way out of the grave situation.
This printed appeal of the Bolshevik group of workers
actually made it possible to carry on elections to the Unem­
ployed Council within a short period. T hirty representatives of
the unemployed were elected to the Council. A fter several
days, the first meeting of the thirty delegates took place and
Comrade Kairsky was elected president.
The first things we discussed were the aims and object of
the unemployed organization. The following points were
adopted unanim ously:
1 . T he general aims and tasks of the Unemployed
Council are to lead the unemployed out of their unbearable
situation.
2. The most immediate task of the council is to get
the city to organize public work for all the unemployed.
3. The council is to rally all the unemployed around
these aims on the basis of their common demands and
arrange to send the delegates to the City Dum a and sub­
sequently seek other means of influencing the City Duma.
A fter a number of organizational questions and suggestions
on w hat further steps the council should take, the first meeting
was adjourned.
O n the day following the meeting of the Unemployed
Council, Comrade Kairsky and I w ent to Lenin to report to
is
him w hat we had done to organize the Unemployed Council.
V ladim ir Ilyich* heard w hat we had to say, and then said he
had some doubts as to w hether the Unemployed Council alone
could fulfil its programme by its own efforts.
“ Through this organisation alone,” said Lenin, “you cannot
influence the bourgeoisie; you will not be strong enough, and
the unemployed workers themselves will not be able to develop
this w ork on a broad proletarian class basis. Therefore, you
must immediately extend the Unemployed Council to include
representatives of those employed in all the factories and mills
of St. Petersburg. You must now begin to agitate in the
factories and mills for this purpose, and immediately arrange
for the election of these representatives. T he Unemployed
Council m ust consist not only of 30 representatives of the
unemployed, but of 100 or 150 representatives from all districts,
from all the factories and mills. This will provide the unem ­
ployed w ith a genuine proletarian leading body which will
really be able to exert pressure successfully on the C ity Duma
and on the bourgeoisie generally.’’
A t the next meeting of the council, at which the appeal to
the D um a was draw n up, it was resolved, in accordance w ith
Lenin’s suggestion, to include thirty delegates from die large
factories and mills in the Unemployed Council, and elections
w ere held among the employed in all the factories, mills, and
workshops. Later, the Unemployed Council was further
enlarged and district councils wrere organised in the Nevsky,
Moscow, Nan.'sky, Gorodskoy, Vasileostrovsky, Petersburg,
V yborg, and Kcipin districts. A n executive council of the
unemployed and a general city meeting of the Unemployed
Council w ere organised.
Delegates elected by the unemployed at general meetings,
one for every 250 workers, and from factories and mill districts
constituted the district councils. T he district councils managed
the dining-rooms, collected money in the factories and mills,

* Lenin's first and middle name, by which he was popularly


\n o w n .
16
registered the unemployed, gave material help, etc., and gener­
ally conducted the whole campaign in the districts for the
struggle for bread and work in accordance w ith the directions
given by the general city meeting of the Unemployed Council.
T he Executive Committee consisted of three representatives
from every district council, three representatives from the unem­
ployed, and three from the employed. The Executive Com­
m ittee was to keep in touch w ith the Dum a bodies. All
questions which were to be raised for discussion in the Unem ­
ployed Council were first taken up by the Executive Committee
which was empowered to carry out the general decisions of
the Council,

T H E UNEMPLOYED ATTACK TH E ST . PETERSBURG CITY DUMA.

U nder the direct leadership of the Bolshevik Party, the St.


Petersburg Unemployed Council began to prepare for the first
offensive on the St. Petersburg City Duma. C ertain prepara­
tions had to be made to win the whole-hearted support of the
masses of the workers for the unemployed in their attack upon
the C ity Duma. Besides the agitation it carried on in the
districts, the Unemployed Council published a num ber of
appeals to the employed as well as to the unemployed.
A petition to the St. Petersburg C ity Dum a was drafted by
die Unemployed Council, couched in the most forceful,
Bolshevik-proletarian terms. The petition was discussed by
the Unemployed Council, adopted, and sent to all the factories
and milts of St. Petersburg and its vicinities to be discussed
by the workers and to get their signatures to it. O f course,
the discussion of our petition in the factories was carried on
a t the general factory meetings. But in addition, it was dis­
cussed in our proletarian press, except in the paper under the
control of the Mensheviks. T he Mensheviks (I will prove
thi 3 later on) opposed the Unemployed Council most energetic­
ally and hindered our work in organizing the unemployed at
every step. O ur Council delegates were to insist on reading
17
the petition a t the m eeting of the C ity D um a before a vote
was called for. T his petition read as follow s:
“O w ing to unem ploym ent, numberless w orkers’ families
are now w ithout bread. T he w orkers do not w a n t charity,
or doles. W e dem and work. T h e masters refuse to give
us work. T hey say th a t they have no contracts. But
the city has contracts and can provide w ork for the unem ­
ployed. W e think th a t the w ay the city disposes of the
public funds is scandalous. Public funds should be used
fo r public needs and our need to-day is— work. T here­
fore we demand that the C ity D um a imm ediately organize
public w ork fo r all the needy. W e demand not charity,
b u t c u r rights, and we will n o t be satisfied w ith charity.
T he public w ork which w e dem and m ust be started im­
mediately, A ll the unemployed of St. Petersburg m ust
be allowed to do this w ork; every unem ployed w orker
m ust receive an adequate wage. W e have been delegated
to insist on the fulfilm ent of ou r demands. T h e masses
w ho have sent us will not be content w ith less. If you
do not accede to ou r demands we will report your refusal
to the unem ployed and then you will not have us to deal
w ith, b u t those who sent us, the masses of unem ployed.”

T h e petition had the thorough sym pathy of all the workers


in the factories and mills. I t was discussed a t th e general
meetings in every factory and afterw ards signatures w ere
collected in the shops. Speakers w ere sent to the factories
w here a fter the victimization and lockout only less class­
conscious w orkers w ere left. O u r speakers w ent w ith groups
of the unemployed, stopped the w orkers as they left during
dinner-tim e or in the evening during the change o f shifts, and
held factory-gate meetings on the questions of unem ploym ent
and the help w hich should be given the unemployed. T he
m eetings w ere always successful. B rief resolutions on th e
necessity for helping the unemployed w ere made and signatures
w ere collected fo r the petition.
!S
But beside raising the spirits of the masses of the workers,
which it undoubtedly succeeded in doing, the Unem ployed
Council had also to rouse a desire among the petty-bourgeois
groups to help the unemployed. T h e Unem ployed Council
managed to interest a num ber of liberal newspapers in St.
Petersburg in this work. Com rades who had connections w ith
the liberals on these papers w ere commissioned to speak w ith
the more liberal among them in order to get them to help
by w riting articles and announcem ents in their papers,
Tovarishch, on which Kuskova and Propovich then w orked;
R us, led by the liberal son of Suvorin; the C adet paper,
Sovrcm ennoye Slovo; and even Birshev\a, all published
announcem ents and articles on the unemployed movement in
which they advocated the large-scale organization of public
■vork. T hey supported the unemployed because their petty-
bourgeois readers brought serious pressure to bear upon them
to do so. T he armies of a hundred thousand unemployed
had seriously alarmed the petty-bourgeoisie. This trem endous
mass of starving people, they reasoned, w ould spread various
epidemics which undoubtedly w ould first affect those petty
officials, office workers, etc., who came in contact w ith them in
the course of their work.
“H elp is essential not only in the interests of the workers,
but for the sake of the health of the whole population," said
the president of the D um a Commission. “I t is known th at
typhus, beginning in the cellars and garrets, claims increasing
num bers of victims among the higher groups of society. O n
the other hand, the prospect of death from starvation may
drive the people, em bittered by poverty, to extreme measures.
T h at being the case, it is essential to help them now. Help
th a t is given too late may cost us dear.”
Sym pathy for the unemployed movement increased daily in
all districts, factories and mills. Nuclei of the Unem ployed
Council w ere form ed in factories and mills. D istrict councils
were organized. Committees w ere set up to investigate the
condition of the unemployed and to help them in their struggle
w ith the C ity Duma.
19
T H E M E N S H E V IK S FIGHT A G A IN ST TH E UNEMPLOYED
ORGANIZATIONS.

But at this point we found ourselves up against unexpected


enemies of this proletarian work in the persons cf the M enshe­
viks. A s soon as they saw that we had attained considerable
influence among the masses and had created a competent body
to lead the masses, the Mensheviks on the St, Petersburg P arty
Committee— Bolsheviks and Mensheviks belonged to the same
p arty a t that time— began to oppose us and, particularly, the
Unemployed Council. T hey carried on a campaign against
us in all the districts and tried to disrupt our unemployed
organization, or a t least to arrest its development. But the
Mensheviks’ efforts were a complete failure in the workers’
districts since we had already created a strong organization
there, and not a single worker, even w ith Menshevik leanings,
supported them. The Menshevik speakers were howled down
at all meetings cf the workers in the factories and in the
districts, whenever they attacked the Unemployed Council,
Then they transferred their Menshevik tricks to the leading
organ of the party, to the St. Petersburg Committee in which
they then had accidentally an insignificant majority. In the
discussions cf this question in the committee, the Mensheviks
expressed the cpinion th at the Unemployed Council, led by
the Bolsheviks, was provoking the workers to prem ature action,
that the organization of the unemployed was a Bolshevik stunt.
O ur petition, which had already been circulated through all
the districts and factories and had received thousands of signa­
tures, was much discussed at this meeting of the St. Petersburg
Committee.
T he Mensheviks demanded the deletion of the concluding
words of the petition: “ If you do not accede to our demands,
we will report ycur refusal to the unemployed and then you
will not have us to deal w ith, but those who sent us, the
masses of unemployed.” They then demanded categorically
th at the unemployed delegation be restrained from going to
the City Duma. They also opposed the demand for the organ­
ization of public w ork because, they said, the City Duma
could not give the unemployed work—th a t had to be done by
the State. T he Mensheviks also strongly opposed the election
of representatives from the factories and mills to the U nem '
ployed Council because they saw in this a revival of the Soviet
of W orkers’ Deputies. In conclusion, the M enshevik leaders
insisted th at the St. Petersburg Com m ittee forbid us, the Bolshe­
viks, to work among the unemployed and to develop and
strengthen this organisation, and in the event of our persisting
in this, th at we be expelled from the party. T he leaders of
the unemployed told the Committee that such a decision would
be harm ful to the proletariat and not binding on them, and
therefore they would not submit to such a decision. T he Com ­
mittee decided to meet the next day to take up this question
a t an enlarged meeting. The enlarged meeting, it is true, was
called on the designated day, but it was after A pril 12, after
we had already w on all our demands from the C ity Duma.
This caused a split in the M enshevik ranks and those opposed
to us were left in the m inority. N o decision against us could
be arrived at.
T H E F IR S T ORGANIZATION O f T H E UNEMPLOYED IN TH E
S T . PETERSBURG C IT Y DUMA.
A fte r extensive preparatory work for helping the unem ­
ployed had been carried on among the petty'bourgeois groups,
the Unem ployed Council elected a delegation which was to go
to the City Duma on M arch 28 to deliver the signed petition
mentioned above.
The delegation consisted of fifteen members, and on M arch
28 it w ent to the St. Petersburg C ity Duma. T he town
councillors looked w ith surprise at this group of workers. T he
mayor invited the delegates into his office in order to learn
w hat they w anted, b u t the delegates refused to speak with
him, declaring th a t they had been commissioned to take the
m atter up w ith the C ity D um a and not w ith individuals.
T here was no meeting of the C ity D um a on this day, since
Only a few of the tow n councillors had appeared; the other
21
members had received the inform ation that some kind of dele­
gation had come, and had deliberately stayed away from the
D um a session. The delegation left, but informed the town
councillors and the mayor that they would come again to the
next session.
T he next regular session was to take place on A pril 12.
Consequently, the Unemployed Council had still tw o weeks at
its disposal to prepare more thoroughly. A gitation was renewed
in all the factories and mills and this roused the employed
workers to come out even more strongly in support of the
unemployed and increase the num ber of signatures to the
petition. The Bolshevik speakers from the Unemployed Council
w ent to all the factories and mills w ith groups of the unem­
ployed, arranged meetings and got resolutions passed.
D uring this time not only did the Bolshevik paper Volmt
carry on a campaign for the movement, but so also did some
liberal papers, which carried a number of articles favourable
to the unemployed organisation and urging the necessity for
the C ity Dum a to start public work for the unemployed.
Public opinion was greatly alarmed by the question of unem '
ployment. Even the whole group of electors* to the State
Dum a decided to support the delegation of the unemployed to
the C ity Duma.
O n A pril 12, 1906, our delegation, consisting of thirty
persons— fifteen from the unemployed and fifteen from the
employed— presented themselves at the St. Petersburg City
Duma. The entire body of the Unemployed Council consisted
a t th a t time of sixty persons, but half of them did not go to
the Duma, so that if arrests were made, the Council could
continue its w ork w ithout interruption. The police were already
keeping a close w atch on the Council and such precautions
w ere necessary. In fact, the day the delegation w ent to the

* In Russia at that time an indirect system of electors was in


operation. The voters did not vote for candidates to public
bodies, but voted for electors, and these voted fo r other
electors who finally voted fo r the candidates.
22
C ity Dum a, the police suddenly raided the premises w here the
Council had m et form erly and arrested everyone there. B ut
there w ere no delegates or members of the Unem ployed Council
among them.
Before receiving the delegation, the C ity D um a held a private
session and decided to adm it the delegation and to accede to
their demands as fa r as possible in order not to exasperate the
workers. T his decision was not known to the general public
and the unemployed.
A t the beginning of the session, just as we arrive, great
num bers of people came into the D um a chambers. Five rep ­
resentatives spoke for the Unem ployed Council, and they did
not mince words.
“ W e ask nothing of you; we d e m a n d !” said one of the
speakers, “ W e think th a t all the money a t your disposal
rightfully belongs to us.” “ If you do not give w ork to the
unemployed, nothing remains to us b u t to rob you," said
another speaker.
“ You have not seen the unem ployed," cried one of the
representatives of the delegation, a young w orker. “ I live
w ith them ; I can tell you how they live. I can tell you w hat
they w ho sent me here s a id : "Go, talk to the tow n councillors
and the C ity D um a, and if they will not listen to you, we
ourselves will go and grab them by the th ro a t1.”
T he tow n councillors listened patiently even to such speeches,
and when we had finished they suggested th at the delegates
leave the hall. B ut we declared th a t we w ould not leave
until we had received an answ er to our demands. T hen the
town councillors announced an intermission, cleared out the
general public, and th en resumed the session w ith the unem ­
ployed delegation present.
Councillor N . N . Shnitnikov was the first to speak, and as
the most Left radical of the tow n councillors he read the tow n
council's estimates of the w ork th at could be given to the
unemployed.
23
“ The town council thinks it possible,” declared Shnit-
n ik o v :
“ 1 . T o engage 200-400 workers during June of the
current year on constructing canals and filling up the
C atherine Canal.
“ 2 . T o engage, beginning w ith M ay of this year, on
the H allerna H arbour, 300-400 persons on mechanical
work, and 2,000-2,500 on hand labour.
“ 3. T o engage 100 persons on the w ork of regulating
the Karnovki River in the near future.
“ 4. T o engage 300 persons on the construction of a
Labour Exchange, the Lot 2,man M arket, and a lodging'
house.
“ 5, T o engage 400 persons on casual work.
“ 6 . T o engage some of the unemployed on the con­
struction of the Panteleimonov, Chernyshev, and A nichkin
Bridges.”
Tlius the tow n councillors calculated that at most there
would be w ork for some 5,000 persons— 500 skilled workers
on different types of work and 4,000 common labourers, w ith­
out counting the workers who would be needed for the con'
struction of bridges or the num ber which could not be
calculated.
C ertainly, the City Dum a were, as before, hostile to the
unemployed movement and to the unemployed generally. But
the Bolshevik organisations and the Unemployed Council had
succeeded in raising a strong sentiment in favour of the unem ­
ployed among all the petty'bourgeois groups and particularly
among all the St. Petersburg workers. T herefore the tow n
council was forced to conceal its hostility behind this ostensible
desire to help all the unemployed by organizing public work.
In their speeches the tow n councillors said th a t the unem ­
ployed w ere justified in their demands, and declared th at
charity was a most pernicious form of helping persons accus­
tomed to earn their bread by honest labour. They also said
that public w ork did not lower the dignity of the unemployed;
24
on the contrary, it raised their morale, and therefore it had
to be developed first.
N o t a single voice was raised against the w orkers’ demands.
A fte r the debate, the D um a unanim ously adopted a resolution,
which r e a d ;
“ 1. T o set up a special committee of twelve members
to draw u p a plan for the organisation of public w ork
and to devise measures to prevent distress caused by
unem ploym ent. T h a t the committee co-opt represent a-
tives of the w orkers and those organisations w hich were
heard at the previous meeting, to participate in its work.
“ 2. T h a t the committee consider all the proposals made
by the tow n councillors a t the present meeting.
“ 3. T o apply for permission to establish an executive
committee consisting of a chairm an and tw elve members
to manage the organisation and perform ance of public
work.
“ 4. T o advance 500,000 rubles immediately for the
purpose of commencing the above'm entioned w ork, to be
administered by the Council until the executive committee
is appointed.”
T he tow n councillors and Black H undreds were so eager to
show the unem ployed their sym pathy, th a t one of these Black
H undred tow n councillors, a fter listening to the proposals,
even d e clared :
“"V/hy only 500,000? I think a million rubles should be
advanced w hen people are dying of hunger.”
T h e answ er was th at the 500,000 was only a beginning and
th at later the D um a could even advance a million and a-halt,
or m ore if necessary.
A t the same m eeting of the D um a, a commission of the
unemployed was elected w ith C ouncillor E, N . K edrin as
chairman. Councillors N . N . Shnitnikov, N . P. Fedorov,
Petrunkevich, Falbruk, Planson and others were also elected
members of the commission. W h e n the D um a session ad­
journed, K edrin came to congratulate the delegation upon their
25
success and suggested that they nom inate three persons to
represent them in the commission. But the delegates declared
that the workers would agree to be on the commission pro­
vided they had a number of representatives equal to that of
the town councillors and th a t they must have the right to
vote on the commission. Kedrin flared up, and began to oppose
our demand. Finally, he angrily informed us th at in that case
they would have to work w ithout representatives from the
workers. The whole delegation moved to the doors. But
Kedrin thought better of it. He ran after us, stopped us, and
said :
“ Gentlemen workers, the commission has thought fit to
accept your proposal. A re you satisfied?”
The delegation answered that they considered the question
settled and they would take part in the work of the preparatory
commission.

AT TH E ROUND T A B LE W ITH TH E BOURGEOISIE.

The city commission and the representatives of the unem­


ployed set to work on the following day. I t was decided to
investigate the help th at was already being given to the unem ­
ployed : to find out how many diningroom s there were and
to increase their number. A large number of the unemployed,
throw n on the streets, had found shelter in lodging houses,
but their children had been sent to stay w ith comrades who
had remained a t work; families were thus broken up. It was
decided that some action would have to be taken to help the
unemployed pay their rent. The question of helping the
unemployed to redeem their belongings from the pawnshops,
particularly sewing machines and underw ear, was also dis­
cussed and decided in the affirmative.
The commission set aside 175,000 of the 500,000 rubles
placed a t their disposal to take care of immediate needs. This
money was assigned for, the purposes outlined. T he Duma,
on A pril 21, considered_ and approved the plan of action
worked out by the commission a t its A pril 19 meeting. It w a s ;
26
“ 1. T o give the to w n council the right to exem pt the
unem ployed from paying certain local rates on application
from the commission.
“ 2. T o perm it no unredeem ed property in m unicipal
pawnshops, belonging to the unemployed, to be sold before
June 21. Also, to cancel fines fo r arrears on interest and
to postpone the paym ent of interest for three months.
“ 3. T o perm it the tow n council, a t the discretion of
the D um a preparatory commission, to use the 175,000
rubles advanced by the C ity D um a on A pril 12 : (a) for
supplying the unem ployed w ith food; (b) for the con­
struction and renting of buildings w here wives and
children of the unemployed w ho w ere homeless could find
tem porary shelter; (c) for the postponem ent of interest
collected from the unem ployed for things paw ned in p ri­
vate paw nshops.”

T h e commission and the U nem ployed Council immediately


started distributing this m oney among the unemployed. T he
175,000 rubles w ere spent w ithin the first tw o m onths on food,
ren t, and the pawnshops.
T he organising end of the expenditure of money was left
to the commission which, w ith the consent of the U nem ployed
Council, transferred this function to the union of engineers
w hich had organised a committee to help the unem ployed six
m onths previously. T h e U nem ployed Council retained the
rig h t to control the activity of this committee and the general
m anagem ent of the work. T h e D um a commission was to receive
the money from the city treasury, tran sfer it to the committee,
check its account, and then make a report in the Dum a.
T he difficult w ork of organising dining-room s for the unem ­
ployed fell to the commission fo r feeding the unemployed.
D uring this period, the committee opened S3 dining-rooms
and furnished three million dinners to the unemployed. T he
num ber of dinners distributed w as: in June, 49?,000; in July,
631,000; etc. In June and July, there w ere 16-20 thousand
dinners daily. T he U nem ployed Counci! decided not to take
27
this difficult w ork upon itself because th a t would divert much
of its strength which it needed for other agitational and
organizational work.

TH E C IT Y DUMA F IN A N C E S S T R IK E S .

T he money to help the unemployed pay their ren t came


directly from the tow n councillors of the Dum a, and was paid
out according to lists draw n up by unemployment councils
w ith a member of the executive committee of the Unemployed
Council, or representatives from the district council, supervis­
ing. T he town councillors and the representatives from the
Council assembled all the unemployed in the district who were
to receive relief and gave them money against receipts. M any
of the unemployed were illiterate, and some placed crosses, some
signed for others, etc.
M eanw hile, in all districts of St. Petersburg a wide strike
movement had developed. T h e strikes w ere political rather
than economic. These new cadres of unemployed joined our
ranks. O f course, the Unemployed Council had a hand in
the preparation of strikes, for the trade unions themselves were
still very weak and could hardly have supported the strikers.
So, together w ith the strikes in the V yborg district, w e had
also to organise financial assistance for the strikers. For them,
tw o weeks w ithout w ork m eant starvation, unless they were
given some assistance. W e had only just draw n up a list of
500 persons in the V yborg district who w ere to get help to
pay their rent. This list included the needy strikers of the
Erickson factory. But before Councillor Shnitnikov arrived
w ith the money, I learned th a t some of the strikers on the list
had gone back to work, had become strike-breakers. There
were 100 of them. W e were in a dilemma. If we left the
list as it was, 100 strike-breakers w ould get the money; if we
crossed these names out, the councillor w ould leave the district
w ith the money he was ready to distribute. W h a t was to be
done? W e left the list untouched b u t made some of our
strikers memorise these names so th at they could answ er to
28
tliem when the town councillor called them out, and receive
the money. A ll the unemployed lined up in the corridor tw o
by two. The town councillor began to call them into his
office singly, one after another, and in our presence gave some
5, others 8 , still others 10 rubles, according to the num ber in
their family, and our suggestion. A ll w ent along smoothly
until Shnitnikov came to Petrova. He called her up and asked :
“Petrova, how much should you receive?"
A n d the woman answered :
“ I am not Petrova, I am Samoilova.”
I looked daggers at her. W h a t a mess she was getting us
in to ! She understood, got confused, and then stammered :
“Yes, yes, I am Petrova."
But it was too late. Shnitnikov, a lawyer, immediately
understood th at something was up. He turned to m e :
“ W h a t is this, M r. Malyshev, w hat is going on here?”
“ N othing in particular, Nikolai Nikolaevich. Nam es were
substituted for others because we found on investigation th at
those on the first list were less in need than these.”
“ No, there is something criminal going on. You are unem­
ployed Bolsheviks; the devil knows w hat you are doing w ith
us."
I sent the working woman away and said sharply th at notlv
ing criminal had been done and th a t there was nothing to be
irritated about.
“If you do not w ant to distribute the money, leave the
district.”
He quickly seised the money that was left (there was still
50 or 60 rubles undistributed) and w ithout taking leave, ran
out of the room, sh o u tin g :
“This is all your Bolshevik doings! You have led the C ity
Dum a into committing criminal ac ts!”
W e only laughed. T he workers dispersed, swearing a t the
working woman who could not remember the name under
which she was to receive money. But this was the only case
29
which enabled the tow n councillors to know th at w e had sub­
stituted some persons for others. A ctually there w ere many
such cases. W e did this regularly and w ere able to support
all the strikes th a t broke out in St. Petersburg in 1906 and
p art of 1907 in this way. W e carried on the m ajority of the
strikes, and the greatest of tliem, the strikes of the dockers,
the cabmen, the Erickson telephone factory, and others, w ith
the C ity D um a’s funds.
T he C ity D um a spent almost four and a-half million rubles
on direct relief for the unemployed and the public w ork of
which I shall tell later. T he expenditures on public work
w ere properly checked. M oney spent to m aintain dining-rooms
for the unemployed was also properly checked. B ut in other,
smaller items, the accounts w ere in p retty bad shape, and this
enabled us to use some of the city’s funds for strikes and other
similar purposes. W e had a list which, w ith the exception
of tw o or three signatures, was signed entirely w ith crosses.
W e p u t a thousand crosses on the list— and th a t’s all there
was to i t ! T he tow n councillors, it is tru e, w ould ask the
unemployed ;
“W h a t, are you illiterate, too?”
A n d the w orker w ould answ er :
“Yes, I'm illiterate. I t’s n o t my fault; you d id n 't teach us
to read or write. O nly five per cent, of the w orkers can read
and w rite, and they’re at work. T h e ones w ho are unemployed
are all illiterate.”
T he tow n councillors w ould look up, somewhat surprised,
b u t then w ould go on w ith the disbursements.
T w o and a-half years later, a fter I had returned to St.
Petersburg from prison, I m et the secretary of the D um a com­
mission. H e asked me to step into the D um a building. I had
been outlaw ed, b u t he promised th at they w ould not give me
up. In the office of the commission, I saw our lists w ith the
crosses; they w ere spread out on large tables.
“H ow is it,” asked the councillor, “th a t all these crosses are
alike? If they w ere w ritten by different persons they w ould
be different from one another, w ouldn’t th ey ? ”
30
I was really taken aback by this question and w as a t a loss
for an answer. I told him that the workers were hammermen,
blacksmiths, fitters, and so on : all who did heavy work, and
that perhaps that was the reason w hy all the crosses they had
set down showed the same characteristics. T h e senator, a
member of the commission, raised his eyes from the paper,
looked at me, thought a while, and then said :
“ Perhaps you are right; yes, it cannot be explained in any
other w ay.”
I wished them success and left the commission. T w o weeks
later this same secretary inform ed me th at the audit commission
had decided to p u t in only a provisional report on these
accounts, as it was impossible to make head or tail of the
accounts and th a t after the report of the town council was
made, it would be p u t into the files.

ORGANIZATION OF PU BLIC WORK DELAYED.

The Unemployed Council not only organised dining'rooms,


supplied food, advanced money for the paym ent of rent and
for redeeming goods from the pawnshops, but spent all of
A pril and M ay in the preparation of public worlc, and kept
hammering away at the unem ploym ent commission, at C o u n '
cillor Kedrin and the C ity Duma, to get them to accelerate
the organisation of this work. But the C ity D um a began to
change its attitude to the unemployed. T he Cadets and the
Black H undreds who had appeared so eager to help on A pril
12 began to obstruct the starting of public w ork as much as
possible. T hey had gotten over the fright they had had when
we invaded the C ity Council, and now w anted to limit the aid
to the 500,000 rubles that w ere then voted. T he crafty lawyer
Kedrin was carrying out his instructions from the capitalists
to lead the w orkers by the nose and postpone a decision on
the pivotal question of organising public work. T he police
and the secret police began to interfere considerably w ith the
unemployed organisations. Consequently, there w ere sharp
clashes almost every week between the commission and the
31
Unemployed Council. Finally, the Unemployed Council prcj
seated the following resolution to the commission in the name
of the unemployed of St. Petersburg.
"The activity of the Dum a for the last two weeks
does not conform w ith the promises given on A pril 12.
A li its efforts are towards inventing delays and pretexts
to avoid the obligations which it took upon itself. M ean­
while neither unemployment, hunger, nor the impatience
of the unemployed has decreased. The unemployed see
traps and treachery in the Dum a’s acts. Therefore the
representatives of the workers plainly ask the town coun­
cillors : do they intend to fulfil their promises or not?
D o they intend to drag the question out indefinitely, or
come down, finally, to business, and chiefly, does the
Dum a intend to organise public work? If the Duma
councillors continue to postpone the work and evade their
promises, 3et them not hope that the representatives of
the workers will support them in their treachery. The
workers’ representatives leave themselves a free hand to
take w hat action they see fit.”
This statement roused the indignation of the town councillors.
They fumed, and called us in grates. The majority threatened
to resign from the commission. But the storm soon died down
and they set to work again. V ery little was done, however.
I t was proposed that the Unemployed Council resign from the
commission as a protest against these delays, but this was not
supported. Then the Executive Committee was commissioned
to notify the City Duma that the commission was not treating
the question of public work as it should. T he Executive Com­
mittee adopted the following resolution on this question on
M ay 9, 190? :
"The Executive Committee strongly insists that the
organisation of public work must be taken up immediately
and w ith the utmost energy. The Executive Committee
warns the Duma of the inevitable clash that must come
in the event of this work not being organized, but the
Executive Committee can take no responsibility for this.”
3Z
This resolution was sent to the C ity D um a, b u t it had little
effect; K edrin took no steps w hatever to accelerate the work.
Finally, the U nem ployed Council inform ed both K edrin and
the D um a in a special resolution th at it found the fu rth er
presence of K edrin in the commission injurious to the proper
organisation of public w crk and insisted th a t K edrin be
removed from the chairm anship of the Commission. A t th a t
time, there w ere a num ber of other clashes w ith K edrin and
he was forced to send in his resignation.
T he first unem ploym ent commission consisted of im portant
servants of capital— Law yer Shnitnikov, Planson, K edrin, some
engineers and one teachcr, Falbruk. These w ere the people
who considered themselves defenders of the interests of the
masses. A n d if we, sitting a t one table w ith them , h ad not
had Bolshevik revolutionary schooling, b u t had w atched them
and listened to them w ith open m ouths, instead of fighting
w ith them, they w ould have undoubtedly hypnotised us from
the veiy beginning and the w ork of the organisation of public
w ork w ould have been ruined. T herefore, w hen the most o u t­
standing capitalist law yer, Eugene Ivanovich K edrin, realized
th at it was impossible to fool us, and openly came o u t for
postponing public w ork, he was throw n out of the commission
w ith public censure. A n d we continued our Bolshevik line
of dem anding public work. W ith the help of the technicians
in the engineers’ union w ho sympathised w ith us and had con'
nections in the C ity D um a, w e found the projects for w ork
w hich the D um a had draw n tip in the technical files of the
Dum a.
W e ourselves discovered projects in the C ity D um a files
am ounting altogether to 5,600,000 rubles. W e found nine
complete projects fo r new bridges for St. Petersburg over
which elcctric tram s w ere to pass. These bridges w e r e :
M ikhailovsky, Silin, V iedensky, Kamen no-ostrovsky, P antelei'
monovsky, K harpovitsky, Riahsky, A larchin, V arshavsky.
W c pulled the projects for the construction of three new
markets out of the files— Sitnikovsky, Lotsmansky, and A rsenal,
as well as completed projects for the construction of a slaughter'
house, for the Novoderevensky w ater supply scheme, a project
for raising the H alerna harbour, the heating of the tram shed,
the construction of trailers, motors for cars, cables for the
trolleys, etc. Some of the work we conceded could not be
done by the unemployed but most of it w e resolved to use,
since the unemployed could handle this work. There were
many skilled workers among us— fitters, boiler-makers, joiners,
carpenters, turners, etc.
T he work which we had in mind would need 6,000 persons,
and besides that, there was work to be done on the raising
of the Halerna harbour which would last over a considerable
period. W hen we started to work out in the commission the
form this w crk was to take we found ourselves up against
the obstinacy of the commission, particularly of those coun­
cillors who had social-revolutionary and national-socialist party
leanings. These socialist town councillors insisted, and the
whole commission supported them, th a t we take the work on
an artel* basis, th at we organise all the unemployed according
to their specialty in artels, and, after receiving the necessary
num ber of engineers and technicians from the union of en­
gineers, start this work on contract. They insisted th at other­
wise the Dum a could not give its consent, because some
juridical person must be made responsible for work involving
such large sums. It was impossible to simply give the work
over to some one w ithout entering into some kind of con­
tractual relations, the town councillors argued. In a word,
the lawyers, the members of the commission, the capitalist
officials, although they claimed to have socialist leanings, never*
the less regarded themselves as representatives of the bourgeoisie
and proposed forms of w ork which would best serve those
interests. Planson was the chief initiator of this artel device.
He worked out all these forms for carrying on the work, intro­
duced an arbitration court for settling disputes, the forms of
receiving this work, etc.

* A group of wor\ers worthing together. This proposal would


have converted the unemployed into private contractors.
34
Some members of the U nem ployed Council, who w ere in flu '
enced by the M ensheviks and Social-Revolutionaries, w ere in
favour of accepting this form of work. B ut the Council as
a whole and its executive committee realised that w ork carried
on through contracts w ould be a great m isfortune fo r the
unemployed, and perhaps w ould even result in a complete
breakdow n of all the public w ork the promise of which had
been obtained w ith such effort by the St. Petersburg proletariat.

First, it w ould be necessary to organise the unemployed into


a legally com petent artel. By the tim e we had done th at the
w ork itself w ould have slipped out of our hands. Finally, the
w orkers in taking on themselves the whole burden and respon­
sibility for these artels might not be able to set the w ork going
immediately and m ight spoil some jobs, and thus give the
unem ploym ent commission and the tow n councillors a pretext
fo r stopping public w ork altogether. T herefore w e discussed
at great length everyw here how w ork was to be done; we
discussed it in the central and district unemployed councils
and in the factories and mills. It was only a fter we had
thoroughly considered this question th at we brought it for
decision to the Unem ployed Council. T he Unem ployed Council
categorically opposed having the unem ployed doing the public
work on an art el-con tract basis. O n M ay 7, it decided, instead,
to demand th a t the C ity D um a take the full responsibility for
carrying on the work.

T he Council then passed a num ber of resolutions on the


conditions u n d er which public w ork should be organised.
A fte r thoroughly considering the question of public w ork pro­
posed by the Duma, and how to make the best use of the
unemployed, the Council decidcd th a t the proposed public
w ork was b u t an insignificant p a rt of w hat the city m ust do
to improve the sanitation and w elfare of the city. I t renounced
all responsibility for the financial-adm inistrative and technical
defects of the proposed w ork, rejected the principle of doing
the w ork on an artel-contract basis, and dem anded th a t th e
33
D um a immediately organise public w ork and observe the
following conditions:
1 . T he S-hour day.
2 . Prohibition of overtime.
3. Establishment of a daily wage.
4. Observance of all necessary sanitary and hygienic
conditions a t work.
5. Employment to be given to the registered unem ­
ployed at the indication of the Unem ployed Council.
6 . T he right to control all the internal affairs in the
workshops by workers’ representatives.
T he Unem ployed Council's rejection of the artel-contract
form of w ork exasperated the City Dum a. The tow n coun­
cillors insisted on our carrying on w ork through artels and even
threatened th a t if we did not agree to carry on the w ork in this
m anner the D um a would not organise any w ork at all.

A N E W DELAY.
By this time we had reason to suspect th a t the D um a would
not carry out its decision of A pril 1 2 . A ll the Black H undreds
began to organise energetically against the Unemployed C oun­
cil. The press, liberal as well as Black H undred, began to
criticise us severely and stir up feeling against the unemployed.
T he whole capitalist press took advantage of our refusal to
accept work on the artel-contract basis to attack the Bolsheviks,
and argued th at we, the Bolsheviks, w ere using this movement
of the unemployed for our political aims.
T he Unem ployed Council took every opportunity to expose
the insolent conduct of the capitalist, and particularly the C adet
press and their attem pt to defend the interests of the bourgeoisie
to such an extent th a t they w ere even ready to disrupt the
public work which had already been decided upon by the St.
Petersburg Duma.
But a num ber of papers were still w ith us and we also had
our Bolshevik paper V olna and another through which to carry
on the struggle. T hrough them, particularly through Volna,
we exposed the monstrous conduct of the C adet and liberal
press and succeeded somewhat in dispelling its effect.
Thus the whole of M ay passed. T he beginning of June
found the state of the organization of public w ork but slightly
changed and the problem unsolved. N othing was left for the
Unemployed Council, and its Executive Committee, but to
start, w ith the help of die Bolshevik P arty organization, an
active campaign in the factories, and to bring pressure to bear
through the masses of the workers on the government and on
the petty'bourgeois groups, and particularly on the C ity Duma.
Since our organization continued to grow stronger and was
able to bring continuous pressure to bear on the St. Petersburg
authorities, the D um a had to elect some additional tow n coun­
cillors to the commission. O n M ay 29, it commissioned this
enlarged Executive Com m ittee on the organization and m anage­
ment of public work to do whatever w ork there was on hand
in the city.
By this time we had come to the end of the money which
the City D um a had released for the maintenance of dining­
rooms and fo r other forms of relief to the unemployed. But
die Dum a did not make fresh grants. Rum ours were current
that the M inistry of the Interior had sent instructions to the
C ity D um a not to make m any concessions to the unemployed.
T he situation grew very serious.
W e increased ou r pressure on the commission through the
press. W e adopted a num ber of other measures. W e began to
activize the movement of the unemployed.
lh e unemployed w ere in an extremely grave position. W re
forced the D um a commission to report to the C ity D um a on
how serious it was and to demand or “beg” funds in order
to keep die dining-rooms going throughout the summer. T he
group managing the dining-rooms estimated that 180,000 rubles
were needed for three months for 18,000 dinners daily at
1? kopeks a dinner. In addition, we made the commission go
to the Dum a to ask for money to help the unemployed pay
their ren t— 12,000 families for three months— 180,000 rubles.
W e demanded in all 360,000 rubles for the summer. T he
37
unem ployed commission drew up its report along these tines
and presented it to the Duma.
But the D um a did not intend to take it u p ; nor did it h u rry
to begin work. W e raised a row in the commission and de­
m anded th a t a special meeting be convened. A special meeting
was held and through it we brought pressure to bear on the
D um a to assign money for the paym ent of relief and, chiefly,
to organise public work.
Finally, tow ards the end of M ay, the tow n councillors u n ­
conditionally refused to take any responsibility for the work
and dem anded th a t we find some way of doing this w ork by
w hich we w ould be responsible for it. A n d on M ay 29, the
Dum a, a fter hearing the unemployed commission’s report and
the tow n councillors’ decision on it, passed a num ber of resolu­
tions which, on the face of it, seemed acceptable. These were
as follows :
1 . T o reaffirm the right of the executive commission
to give all the w ork which had been already contracted
for, or for which the D um a’s permission was not needed,
to the unemployed.
2. T o propose to the city council and the executive
commission th a t only w ork which the commission on the
organisation of public w ork does not think it can carry
on itself be given o u t on contract in the future.
B ut soon we learned th at this decision affected only repair
w ork, and the organisation of public work, even a fter this
excellent resolution had been adopted, got no farther.
Days and weeks passed. G eneral weekly meetings of the
unemployed, and especially of the w orkers in the factories and
the mills, w ere held to discuss the situation, and resolutions
w ere passed censoring the disgraceful conduct of the C ity D um a
in regard to the unemployed. T h e D um a was bent on delay­
ing and nullifying all efforts to get this w ork done.
T h e executive commission grew so bold th a t it even decided
n o t to invite the representatives of the U nem ployed Council to
the meetings.
38
T he Unemployed Council at its meeting on M ay 31, 1906,
decided to bring m atters to a head. A resolution was passed,
calling for a joint m eeting of the executive commission, the
representatives of the Unem ployed Council of the union of
engineers, and of the central bureau of the trade unions.
This resolution was transm itted to the executive commission
but, at the insistence of the Black H undreds, it ignored it.
A gain a general city meeting of the Unem ployed Council was
called. A gain it was decided to demand that the executive
commission say w hether it w ould carry on the public w ork
or not. But the unem ploym ent commission ignored these reso­
lutions and decisions of the proletariat.
T he unemployed grew im patient and indignation was
aroused. T he districts began to demand th a t the Council take
more effective steps to force the Dum a and the executive com­
mission to act. T he Unem ployed Council tried to prevent
individual groups of unemployed from making any provocative
moves, a t the same time doing everything it could to bring
pressure to bear on the C ity Duma. T he spirit prevailing in
the districts was such th a t the Unem ployed Council had to
distribute leaflets to all the w orkers of St. Petersburg, urging
them to keep calm. This was on June 1 0 , 1906. In this leaflet
the Council said :
“The Unem ployed Council does not hide from the
masses th a t the D um a is only procrastinating, is only
playing w ith the unemployed and has no intention w hat­
ever of keeping its promises. B ut the Council has not
broken its contact w ith the D um a because to do th at would
mean to play into the hands of those who w ant to provoke
the workers to prem ature action. T his is exactly w hat
the enemies of the working class, thirsting for proletariat
blood, are w aiting for.
' “A t present, the provocation of the unemployed has
increased to the highest degree. T he M inister for the
Interior has given special orders to the D um a and the
tow n councillors not to make concessions to the unem ­
ployed. Its aim is quite clear-—-to provoke the unemployed
39
to prem ature action at the time w hen the employed com­
rades are not ready to help them , and the D um a, of
course, does readily w hat the M inistry w ants it to do.
However, we shall not allow ourselves to be provoked by
the Duma. V /e know too well th at the sight of the
w orkers’ blood does not frighten our enemies but makes
them rejoice. W e know this too well to take thoughtless
action which would enable those who w a n t our blood to
rub their hands and say : lO u r ruse was successful. T he
w orkers will not forget this lesson quickly, will not recup­
erate quickly, will not renew their organization speedily.’
“W e shall not give the provocateurs this pleasure.
N othing drastic is to be done as long as the Unemployed
Council does not call on us to do so.
“ This must be the first rule to be observed by all the
unemployed. But the Unem ployed Council, realising the
seriousness of the situation, will not fail to take this step
w hen the time comes and will take it only in close con­
junction w ith the working masses.”
W h e n this d raft of the leaflet was read in the Unem ployed
Council, some sections of the Council, of a m ore anarchist,
social-revolutionary spirit, were dissatisfied; they did not think
it resolute enough. T here was a split. T hey demanded th at
the Council take more resolute steps, force the D um a, etc.,
etc. But the dust raised by the anarchist sociahrevolutionaries
was swept aw ay when a vote was taken.

T H E UNEM PLOYED INVAD E T H E DUMA A THIRD T IM E .


T he Unem ployed Council decided to send a delegation to
the D um a, and to keep its decision a complete secret. They
assembled on June 12 and elected a delegation of eighty mem­
bers, five representatives of the unemployed and five of the
employed from each district.
T he delegation was to go unaccom panied by the masses, and
was to get a clear and definite answ er from the D um a w hether
there w ould be work or not.
40
A n d at 2 p.m. on June 12, a delegation of 75 persons
gathered and set out for the Dum a. It divided up into two
groups of approximately equal size, each with a leader to direct
and advise it.
T he visit to the Dum a was planned in the following w a y :
both groups of the delegation w ere to go into the Dum a Hall
simultaneously but through different doors, and demand that
the town councillors hear the representatives of the delegation
whom it would designate then and there to carry oil the nego­
tiations. If the town councillors should run to the doors, the
delegation was to prevent them from getting out, and say half-
jokingly to them : “ D on't be afraid! D on’t run aw ay !”
The first group was to come through the treasurers’ entrance,
through the right door; the second was to make its way into
the Alexandrov Hall and enter the meeting hall through the
left door. Both groups w ere to come into the hall noiselessly,
at the same time and in absolute order, w ith the leaders at
the head. Having occupied both exits of the Duma, the dele­
gation groups must come together in front of the Dum a tribune;
its representatives must address the Duma, and all the speeches
must end w ith the q u estion: W ill the unemployed workers
he given the public work promised them, or not?
This plan was really a success, though the group which was
to come through the left door, through Alexandrov Hall, was
one m inute late. One door was left unguarded and the tow n
councillors were quick to take advantage of this accident. As
soon as they saw some forty persons coming through the right
door, the Duma chairman adjourned the session and all rushed
towards the left door. But at that moment the other group
appeared from A lexandrov H all and entered the Dum a meeting
hall.
The town councillors crowded together; the chairman Dimsha
tore off his chain of office and rushed from his place; the mayor
tried to follow him. The delegates spoke to them, urging them
not to be afraid. They said r “W e come to you as representa­
tives of the wrorkers of St. Petersburg w ith the demand th at
41
you keep your word and tell us— will there be w ork or not?
D on’t ru n away. W e ’re not going to touch you.”
But the town councillors w ould not listen; they made their
way past the delegation into A lexandrov Hall and jostling each
other, forced their way to the door. T he workers’ representa­
tives followed them.
W h en the town councillors learned th at these s e v e n t y 'five
persons were alone and there w ere no more of diem on the
street, they calmed down somewhat. Some of them even started
talking w ith the members of the delegation and asked them
questions, b u t the delegates w ould not talk as individuals. Three
representatives from the delegation offered to negotiate w ith
the chairman of the Dum a, but Dimsha would have nothing
to do w ith them. Finally, some town councillors prevailed upon
him to listen to the delegation, and Dimsha asked, “W h a t can
I do for you, gentlem en?” T he representatives of the workers
answered that they had come in the name of the unemployed
to ask the Dum a when the public w ork promised the unem ­
ployed would finally be begun. A n d the following conversa­
tion took p lac e :
D i m s h a : “ Y ou should have given me a w ritten statement,
and I would have laid it before the D u m a.”
T h e D e l e g a t i o n : “ W e have come to you because m any
w ritten statements have already been sent and the work has
not moved forward. You can well afford to w ait, but hunger
does not w ait for anything.”
D im sh a : “ N one the less, I will not admit you to the session.
It is illegal,"
T H E ALLEG ED ARMING OF T H E W ORKERS,
W h ile these negotiations w ere going on, some one who
noticed that the Dum a was surrounded by the police, soldiers,
and cossacks rushed to the M inister for the Interior for an
explanation. The C ity Governor, it appeared, had informed
the M inister that the workers had appeared in the Dum a armed
w ith clubs and other weapons, had surrounded the Dum a, and
w ere beating up the tow n councillors.
41
This report was telephoned to the C ity Hall and Kedrin
repeated it to the people assembled there. This caused a roar
of laughter. W e immediately collected about tw enty canes
and umbrellas which we carried, counted them, and offered them
to the town councillors, but they refused to take them.
“No, w e’ll give up our weapons,” we declared laughingly.
“Inform whomever it may concern that the representatives of
the proletariat in the City Dum a have disarmed themslves,”
and our comrades gave the umbrellas and canes to the coin-
missionaire.
By this time, the chief of police, some police officers, and
a body of policemen had appeared in Alexandrov Hall. T he
Duma looked like a military camp. N o one was permitted to
leave or enter. The Unemployment Council delegation stepped
to one side to consider the situation and decided not to leave
the place nor to enter into any negotiations with the town
councillors unless the police were removed and the delegation
was heard.
Someone again w ent to the M inister and the Governor to
enquire why the police had been called. Some liberal tow n
councillors began to scold the others. They pointed to the
workers and said :
“ See how the workers’ representatives conduct themselves.
N ot a single superfluous word, not a single superfluous gesture.
A nd here, the devil knows w hat is going on to-day, a veritable
bedlam. W e must ask the governor to remove the police
immediately.”
The town councillors quarreled among themselves for a long
time. Everyone denied having called the police. But we
knew better. O u r representatives said, half-jokingly but
frankly, to them :
“You are all lying. A ll of you called for the police and
now you deny it.”
The town councillors insisted that the mayor and the chair­
man of the City Duma, Dimsha, ask the governor to w ithdraw
tlie police and the guards from the City Duma. The mayor
and Dimsha said that they would immediately request that the
43
police be w ithdraw n from the Duma. T he delegation answered
th a t it did not ash them to request this on their behalf but
for their ow n sake, so as not to be ashamed of themselves
afterw ards.
“ B ut we have one request to make to you,” ou r delegation
added. “ C ontinue your session and hear us.”
T he m ayor and the chairman Dimsha w ent to the G overnor
and from his office inform ed us th a t the G overnor had heard
th at a crow d of w orkers had broken into the D um a and were
beating up the tow n councillors,
“ If the tow n councillors,” said the G overnor, “ do n o t con­
sider themselves in danger, and if they do not w a n t to arrest
the workers, the G overnor agrees to call off the police.”
W ith in five or ten m inutes, all the armed forces were w ith'
draw n. A fte r that, in more peaceful conversations, the Dum a
came to term s w ith us. T he D um a agreed to receive a delega'
tion from the Unem ployed Council on June 14, b u t only a
small one.
O n th a t day the executive committee of the Unemployed
Council decided to send a delegation of fourteen persons, tw o
representatives from each district; only tw o of them w ere to
speak in the Dum a. T he delegation was commissioned to nego­
tiate skillfully and not give the Black H undred any excuse
fo r breaking up the meeting of the Duma.
W h en the delegation appeared in the D um a on the appointed
day they brought a statem ent w hich had been draw n up before­
hand w ith the consent of the Unem ployed Council. It read
as follows :
“ In order to investigate the progress of the organisation
of public w ork and to make a report on their needs, the
unemployed of St. Petersburg desire to send a delegation
of tw o persons from every district to the meeting of the
C ity Dum a. In bringing this to the notice of the mayor,
the unemployed also w ant to point o u t a t the same time
th a t it is absolutely essential for him to receive the delega­
tion and give it a hearing a t the m eeting of the C ity
D um a."
44
Having heard our communication, the Dum a decided to .give
the representatives a hearing but would hear the delegates from
the unemployed only as experts, so to say.
W h en one of us, w ho was to speak before the Dum a oil
July 14, began to approach the Dum a tribune in order to
speak from it, Dimsha stopped him and insisted that he remain
below. W e were not proud and agreed to say w hat w e had
to say from the floor.
T he first speaker said r “T he D um a promised us a great
deal, but we have so far received nothing. The D um a arranged
for the registration of the unemployed. T he unemployed
thought th at they w ere being registered for work, b u t there is
no work. The only result of this registration is th a t now the
police and every spy knows how m any unemployed there are
in the city. The D um a preparatory commission worked a long
time on the project of public work. T he unemployed thought
that they would get it, but so far they have not received this
work. A n d in the city the work is slipping, as formerly, into
the hands of the contractors. The police closed dow n the
premises when the unemployed held their meetings. W e began
to meet outside the city, but they drove us from there also,
and arrested us. W e are being evicted from our houses; the
dining-rooms are closing down. T h a t is all we have received
from the Duma. W ill you organise public w ork at Hast? You
have deceived us, you have fooled us. These people whom you
have fooled have sent us here to bring this question up before
you for the last time— will you start public work or n o t? ”
The next speaker emphasized the same thing in a different
way and p u t the same question—- “ W ill you start public w ork
or n o t? ” Then a th ird speaker spoke, the one commissioned
by the Executive Com m ittee to w arn the Dum a of the results
that might ensue if it refused to organise public work. This
speech aroused the tow n councillors to protest.
A second time we speak w ith you, gentlemen tow n coun­
cillors,” said the speaker, a representative of the unemployed.
'E ver since A pril 12, we have worked in your commissions,
fo rk e d to take care of the needs of the unemployed. These
I • •
need? are near to us since we ourselves have experienced them.
You have not experienced w ant and do not know w hat it is.
W h y do we come a second tim e to you w ith the demand for
assistance for the unemployed? W e , the foremost class'
conscious workers, are revolutionaries. W e fought against
those whom you serve. W e have suffered for this struggle
and we will not cease this struggle until the end. W e know
w hat is required to p u t an end to unemployment. But the
mass as a whole does not know. T h eir unemployment drives
them on to rob and kill. You are afraid of this. I do not
w ant to frighten you in speaking of this. W e , the vanguard
of the workers, also fear it. You fear for yourselves, your
wealth. W e fear for our strength, since such things weaken
and disrupt our ranks. You have given the unemployed prom '
ises, not because you acknowledged their right, but because you
feared them. W e understand this well, but we accepted that
help. W e conveyed your promises to start public w ork to
our fellow workers, but since you have deceived the workers,
we do not w ant to seem to be traitors w ith you. If you do
not give this help to the unemployed now, if you do nothing
to begin public work, we will tell the whole mass of the unem ­
ployed th a t it was lies th at fed their hopes. You m ust tell us,
will you start public work or n o t?"
T he chamber was filled w ith noise and agitation. T he tow n
councillors all shouted a t once. T he Black H undreds roared.
“O h . . . you came to frighten u s ! ”
The chairman kept ringing his bell. M any times he stopped
the speaker, b u t our representative, having finished his speech,
took out a paper and began to read the demands. T he chair­
man abruptly cut him off and declared that the D um a would
not listen to demands. So our speaker agreed to call these
demands "points" and then began to summarise them w ithout
any furth er objections from the chairman.

“ I. T o organize public work immediate!y.


“2. T he w orkers' representatives in the executive com­
mission to participate in the preparatory commission,
“ 3. T o esLtend the authority of the executive commis­
si on and give it the r ig h t:
(a) to find new work for the unemployed and execute
it.
(b) to satisfy the urgent needs of the unemployed by
advancing help in the paym ent of rent, redeeming
things in the pawnshops, etc.

“ 4. T o assign immediately the sum demanded for the


satisfaction of the needs of all the unemployed of St.
Petersburg.
“ 5. T o arrange immediately for a meeting of the unem ­
ployed and regular daily district meetings as well, and
to take measures to release the 200 workers imprisoned
for participating in the meetings of the unemployed.”

A fter these points had been read, Dimsha demanded th at the


workers leave the hall. W h en we acceded to this demand, the
town councillors, under pressure from the liberals, decided to
perm it us to sit behind the railing while a decision on this
question was being reached, in spite of the fact th a t the chair­
man, Dimsha, had demanded th a t we leave the hall.
The town councillors began to consider our demands. Some
proposed a secret ballot, but they w ere afraid to decide it by
ballot. A fter the discussion, the chairman of the Duma, Dimsha,
p u t the question:
“Is it the will of the C ity Dum a to adopt the proposal on
the preparatory commission, i.e., to organise work and release
m oney?"
N ot one of the tow n councillors could refuse to agree to the
stated proposal. T he worker deputies, hanging over the railing,
watched the voting closely. Fourteen pairs of eyes shone with
Anger and hatred at these city rulers. M any tow n councillors
glanced a t them fearfully. T w o Black H undred town coun­
cillors rose. T he chairman asked them :
“ Are you against?”
But the town councillors, raising their eyes to the railings,
and seeing that no one supported them, said hastily :
“ N o, no. W c arc for it, for the proposal of the commission
to assist the unemployed."
T he question of assistance to the unemployed was decided
in the affirmative and the following resolution passed :
" 1 . T o assign during the summer the sum of 360,000
rubles for the m aintenance of dining-rooms for the unem­
ployed and to help them pay their rent.
“ 2 . T o postpone for three more m onths the sale of the
unredeem ed property of the unemployed.
“ 3. T o commission the mayor to propose to the M inister
for the Interior th at additional expenditures for giving
w ork to the unemployed and supplying them w ith food
and other necessities be defrayed by the public treasury,
“ 4. T o commission the mayor to start the necessary
negotiations for defraying the expenses for the m ainten­
ance of dining-rooms for the unem ployed.”
Thus the money was obtained, and immediately afterw ards
permission was given to start the first of the public work, the
lifting of the H alerna harbour, to save it from being sub­
merged.

ORGANIZATION OF WORK.

A fte r our visit to the D um a on June 14, the organisation


of public w ork advanced considerably. For a num ber of
political reasons, the governm ent did n o t w ant to arouse a large
organisation of the proletariat, such as ours was, and had
ordered the D um a Black H undreds to make concessions. M oney
was assigned for food, rent, and the other needs of the unem ­
ployed and the executive commission was commissioned to
organize public work. But this did not mean th at we had
actually received this work. W e had to continue to bring
pressure to bear on the Dum a councillors. In this way, w k
approached ou r goal.
4ft
The Halerna. harbour, the district where the flood was rising,
had to be lifted in some places by half a metre and in others
more. If this were done by hand labour and not by machine,
some thousand workers would be needed. W e had precisely
such work in mind, i.e., hand labour, and towards autum n this
w ork which gave employment to more than 1,000 persons was
begun. Further, we organised public workshops for making
parts of bridges and other metal constructions on the Kagarinsky
w harf on the St. Petersburg side. W e engaged 1,500 workers
on two shifts in these workshops. The locked-out unemployed,
who represented in themselves a united mass and were the
leaders of the unemployed movement, were concentrated in
these shops.
Towards the end of 1906 we started a number of other jobs
such as the erection of masonry on the Panteleimonvsky,
Mikhailovsky and Varshavsky bridges.
All the St. Petersburg proletariat, through the organized
Unemployed Council as well as the district councils, followed
the course of this work, heard almost daily reports on it, dis­
cussed it, and gave further directions and pointers. For the
two years during which public work was carried on, the St.
Petersburg workers actually organized and led the industrial
undertakings, assigned people for it, saw to it that the best
people were to be had, and supervised the work. In a word,
they lived their industrial life and tried to raise the level of
production to the necessary height. W hen public work began
to break down because it turned out to be extraordinarily ex­
pensive, unprofitable, and unable to compete with other enter­
prises, the Unemployed Council raised the question and called
upon us who were managing the work to find out how to make
the work pay. The deputies’ committee of the Kagarinsky
wharf, in accordance with the instructions of the Executive
Committee of the Unemployed Council, introduced a form of
piece work which did not violate the collective interests of
the proletariat This enabled us to reduce the cost of bridge-
building from 7 rubles per unit which it had cost until then,
to 2 rubles, SO kopeks. W ith the eight-hour working day and
49
the self-organisation of labour, i.e., w ith the committee of
deputies directing the w ork in the name of the Unemployed
Council, this was certainly a great achievement.
This saving of many thousands of rubles by the St. Peters­
burg proletariat was of great educational value fo r the working
masses of St. Petersburg, and now we can say th a t m any of
the present leaders of the Soviet G overnm ent and of Soviet
industry received their first practical lesson at this work. T he
question of production, of the organization of production, of
technical leadership, etc.— questions which under other condi­
tions could never have arisen— became for the first time prac­
tical issues for the proletariat of St. Petersburg.
M oreover, this public work helped us to preserve the unity
of the proletariat a t a time w hen reaction was blackest, and
to advance its revolutionary education. W ith the organisation
of the Unem ployed Council we developed a num ber of suc­
cessful strikes which embodied the spirit of the proletarian
masses and developed its class consciousness.
D uring a period of reaction, of lockouts, of unemployment,
savage antagonisms are aroused between the employed and the
unemployed in a capitalist country. D uring this period,
throughout the tw o years of existence of the Unemployed
Council, we succeeded in finally removing every trace of
antagonism. In the course of its tw o years’ existence, the
unemployed organization gave the proletariat a thorough school­
ing in industrial and economic matters. This organisation,
which furnished m any leaders, not only taught them to organise
production, direct it and achieve success, but it taught them
how to fight against the capitalists in everyday problems, even
while sitting a t one table w ith them. It taught them how to
stick to their independent correct revolutionary line and to
attain their class aims.
D uring the second half of 1907, reaction became blacker and
blacker. T he m ajority of our p arty w orkers w ere arrested.
O thers, tearing themselves out of the ring of the Stolypin siege,
fled abroad.
50
And in prison or free, they began to observe the great decline
Qf revolutionary activity. The case of the Unemployed Council
was a good example of the state of affairs. The majority of
us, organisers and leaders of the Unemployed Council and the
city public work, were also arrested or w ent underground.
A ll the work of the unemployed of St. Petersburg was
weakened; part of the unemployed at that time were absorbed
by the factories of St. Petersburg and other cities.
In the first half of 190S, I was informed in prison that the
tsarist government had p u t an end to public work. But when
the government proceeded to close the public workshops on
Kagarinsky w harf, they were so scared that before the gen­
darmes set about their work, they called out a battery of light
artillery, in case of any emergency.