File: secH5.html

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anarchism 9.5-1
  • links: PTS
  • area: main
  • in suites: woody
  • size: 12,192 kB
  • ctags: 493
  • sloc: makefile: 40; sh: 8
file content (6397 lines) | stat: -rw-r--r-- 336,010 bytes parent folder | download
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<TITLE>H.5 What was the Kronstadt Rebellion?</TITLE>
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<H1>H.5 What was the Kronstadt Rebellion?</h1>
<p>
The Kronstadt rebellion took place in the first weeks of March,
1921. Kronstadt was (and is) a naval fortress on an island in 
the Gulf of Finland. Traditionally, it has served as the base 
of the Russian Baltic Fleet and to guard the approaches to the 
city of St. Petersburg (which during the first world war was 
re-named Petrograd, then later Leningrad, and is now 
St. Petersburg again) thirty-five miles away. 
<p>
The Kronstadt sailors had been in the vanguard of the revolutionary 
events of 1905 and 1917. In 1917, Trotsky called them the <i>"pride 
and glory of the Russian Revolution."</i> The inhabitants of Kronstadt 
had been early supporters and practitioners of soviet power,
forming a free commune in 1917 which was relatively independent 
of the authorities. In the words of Israel Getzler, an expert
on Kronstadt, <i>"it was in its commune-like self-government that
Red Kronstadt really came into its own, realising the radical,
democratic and egalitarian aspirations of its garrison and 
working people, their insatiable appetite for social recognition,
political activity and public debate, their pent up yearning for
education, integration and community. Almost overnight, the ship's
crews, the naval and military units and the workers created
and practised a direct democracy of base assemblies and 
committees."</i> [<b>Kronstadt 1917-1921</b>, p. 248] In the centre of 
the fortress an enormous public square served as a popular forum 
holding as many as 30,000 persons. The Kronstadters <i>"proved
convincingly the capacity of ordinary people to use their
'heads, too' in governing themselves, and managing Russia's
largest navel base and fortress."</i> [Getzler, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 250]
<p>
The Russian Civil War had ended in Western Russia in November
1920 with the defeat of General Wrangel in the Crimea. All
across Russia popular protests were erupting in the countryside 
and in the towns and cities. Peasant uprisings were occurring 
against the Communist Party policy of grain requisitioning (a 
policy the Bolsheviks and their argued had been thrust upon them 
by the circumstances but which involved extensive, barbaric 
and counter-productive repression). In urban areas, a wave of 
spontaneous strikes occurred and in late February a near 
general strike broke out in Petrograd.
<p>
On February 26th, in response to these events in Petrograd,
the crews of the battleships <b><i>Petropavlovsk</i></b> and <b><i>Sevastopol</i></b>
held an emergency meeting and agreed to send a delegation to
the city to investigate and report back on the ongoing strike
movement. On their turn two days later, the delegates informed 
their fellow sailors of the strikes (with which they had full 
sympathy with) and the government repression directed against 
them. Those present at this meeting on the <b><i>Petropavlovsk</i></b> then 
approved a resolution which raised 15 demands which included free
elections to the soviets, freedom of speech, press, assembly
and organisation to workers, peasants, anarchists and
left-socialists (see <a href="secH5.html#sech53">section H.5.3</a> 
for full details). Of
the 15 demands, only two were related to what Marxists
like to term the "petty-bourgeoisie" (the peasantry and
artisans) and these demanded <i>"full freedom of action"</i> for all 
peasants and artisans who did not hire labour. Like the
Petrograd workers, the Kronstadt sailors demanded the
equalisation of wages and the end of roadblock detachments 
restricting travel and the ability of workers to bring food 
into the city.
<p>
A mass meeting of fifteen to sixteen thousand people was held
in Anchor Square on March 1st and what has became known as
the <b><i>Petropavlovsk</i></b> resolution was passed after the 
<i>"fact-finding"</i> delegation had made its report. Only two
Bolshevik officials voted against the resolution. At this
meeting it was decided to send another delegation to 
Petrograd to explain to the strikers and the city garrison 
of the demands of Kronstadt and to request that non-partisan
delegates be sent by the Petrograd workers to Kronstadt
to learn first-hand what was happening there. This
delegation of thirty members was arrested by the Bolshevik
government.
<p>
As the term of office of the Kronstadt soviet was about
to expire, the mass meeting also decided to call a
<i>"Conference of Delegates"</i> for March 2nd. This was to discuss
the manner in which the new soviet elections would be held. 
This conference consisted of two delegates from the ship's
crews, army units, the docks, workshops, trade unions and
Soviet institutions. This meeting of 303 delegates endorsed
the <b><i>Petropavlovsk</i></b> resolution and elected a five-person
<i>"Provisional Revolutionary Committee"</i> (this was enlarged
to 15 members two days later by another conference of
delegates). This committee was charged with organising
the defence of Kronstadt, a move decided upon in part by
the threats of the Bolshevik officials there and the
groundless rumour that the Bolsheviks had dispatched 
forces to attack the meeting. Red Kronstadt had turned
against the Communist government and raised the slogan of
the 1917 revolution <i>"All Power to the Soviets"</i>, to
which was added <i>"and not to parties."</i> They termed
this revolt the <i>"Third Revolution"</i> and would complete
the work of the first two Russian Revolutions in 1917
by instituting a true toilers republic based on freely
elected, self-managed, soviets.
<p>
The Communist Government responded with an ultimatum
on March 2nd. This asserted that the revolt had <i>"undoubtedly
been prepared by French counterintelligence"</i> and that the
<b><i>Petropavlovsk</i></b> resolution was a <i>"SR-Black Hundred"</i>
resolution (SR stood for "Social Revolutionaries", a
party with a traditional peasant base and whose right-wing
had sided with White forces; the "Black Hundreds" were
a reactionary, indeed proto-fascist, force dating back 
to before the revolution which attacked Jews, labour
militants, radicals and so on). They argued that the
revolt had been organised by an ex-Tsarist officers led 
by ex-General Kozlovsky (who had, ironically, been placed 
in the fortress as a military specialist by Trotsky). This
was the official line through-out the revolt. 
<p>
During the revolt, Kronstadt started to re-organise itself
from the bottom up. The trade union committees were 
re-elected and a Council of Trade Unions formed. The
Conference of Delegates met regularly to discuss issues
relating to the interests of Kronstadt and the struggle
against the Bolshevik government (specifically on March
2nd, 4th and 11th). Rank and file Communists left the party 
in droves, expressing support for the revolt and its aim of 
<i>"all power to the soviets and not to parties."</i> About 300 
Communists were arrested and treated humanly in prison (in 
comparison, at least 780 Communists left the party).
<p>
The Kronstadt revolt was a non-violent one, but from the start 
the attitude of the authorities was not one of serious negotiation 
but rather one of delivering an ultimatum: either come to your 
senses or suffer the consequences. Indeed, the Bolsheviks
issued the threat that they would shoot the rebels <i>"like
partridges"</i> and took the families of the sailors hostage in
Petrograd. Towards the end of the revolt Trotsky sanctioned 
the use of chemical warfare against the rebels and if they had 
not been crushed, a gas attack would have carried out. [Paul 
Avrich, <b>Kronstadt 1921</b>, p. 146 and pp. 211-2] No real attempt 
was made to settle the revolt peacefully. While there was at least 
three to four weeks before the ice was due to melt after the 
March 2nd <i>"Conference of Delegates"</i> meeting which marked the 
real start of the revolt, the Bolsheviks started military 
operations at 6.45pm on March 7th.
<p>
There were possible means for a peaceful resolution of the
conflict. On March 5th, two days before the bombardment of 
Kronstadt had begun, anarchists led by Emma Goldman and 
Alexander Berkman offered themselves as intermediates to 
facilitate negotiations between the rebels and the government 
(anarchist influence had been strong in Kronstadt in 1917). This 
was ignored by the Bolsheviks. Another possible solution, namely 
the Petrograd Soviet suggestion of March 6th that a delegation 
of party and non-party members of the Soviet visit Kronstadt was 
not pursued by the government. The rebels, unsurprisingly enough, 
had reservations about the <b>real</b> status of the non-party 
delegates and asked that the elections to the delegation 
take place within the factories, with observers from Kronstadt 
present (in itself a very reasonable request). Nothing came 
of this (unsurprisingly, as such a delegation would have 
reported the truth that Kronstadt was a popular revolt of 
working people so exposing Bolshevik lies and making the 
planned armed attack more difficult). 
<p>
As Alexander Berkman noted, the Communist government would <i>"make 
no concessions to the proletariat, while at the same time they 
were offering to compromise with the capitalists of Europe and 
America."</i> [Berkman, <b>The Russian Tragedy</b>, p. 62] While happy to 
negotiate and compromise with foreign governments, they treated 
the workers and peasants of Kronstadt (like that of the rest of 
Russia) as the class enemy (indeed, at the time, Lenin was 
publicly worrying whether the revolt was a White plot to sink 
these negotiations!). 
<p>
The revolt was isolated and received no external support.
The Petrograd workers were under martial law and could
little or no action to support Kronstadt (assuming they
refused to believe the Bolshevik lies about the uprising).
The Communist government started to attack Kronstadt on 
March 7th. After 10 days of constant attacks, during which 
many Red Army units were forced onto the ice at gunpoint and 
had some joined the rebellion, the Kronstadt revolt was crushed 
by the Red Army. On March 17th, the Bolshevik forces finally 
entered the city of Kronstadt after having suffered over 10,000 
casualties (there are no reliable figures for the rebels loses 
or how many were later shot by the Cheka or sent to prison 
camps). The next day, as an irony of history, the Bolsheviks 
celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the Paris Commune. 
<p>
After the revolt had been put down, the Bolshevik government
reorganised the fortress. While it had attacked the revolt
in the name of defending <i>"Soviet Power"</i> Kronstadt's newly 
appointed military commander <i>"abolish[ed] the [Kronstadt]
soviet altogether"</i> and ran the fortress <i>"with the assistance
of a revolutionary troika"</i> (i.e. an appointed three man 
committee). [Geltzer, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 244] Kronstadt's newspaper 
was renamed <b><i>Krasnyi Kronshtadt</i></b> 
(from <b><i>Izvestiia</i></b>) and stated 
in an editorial that the <i>"fundamental features"</i> of Kronstadt's
restored <i>"dictatorship of the proletariat"</i> during its
<i>"initial phases"</i> were <i>"[r]estrictions on political liberty,
terror, military centralism and discipline and the
direction of all means and resources towards the creation
of an offensive and defensive state apparatus."</i> [quoted by
Getzler, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 245]
<p>
That, in a nutshell, was the Kronstadt revolt. Obviously we 
cannot cover all the details and we recommend readers to 
consult the books and articles we list at the end of this 
section for fuller accounts of the events. However, that 
presents the key points in the rebellion. Now we must analyse 
the revolt and indicate why it is so important in evaluating 
Bolshevism in both practice and as a revolutionary theory.
<p>
In the sections which follow, we indicate why the revolt is
so important (<a href="secH5.html#sech51">section H.5.1</a>) 
and place it in historical context
(<a href="secH5.html#sech52">section H.5.2</a>). 
We then present and discuss the Kronstadt demands, 
indicating their sources in working class rebellion and radicalism 
(see sections <a href="secH5.html#sech53">H.5.3</a> 
and <a href="secH5.html#sech54">H.5.4</a>). We indicate the lies the Bolsheviks 
said about the rebellion at the time (
<a href="secH5.html#sech55">section H.5.5</a>), whether it
was, in fact, a White plot (<a href="secH5.html#sech56">
section H.5.6</a>) and indicate the revolts 
real relationship to the Whites 
(<a href="secH5.html#sech57">section H.5.7</a>). We also disprove 
Trotskyist assertions that the sailors in 1921 were different from 
those in 1917 
(<a href="secH5.html#sech58">section H.5.8</a>) 
or that their political perspectives 
had fundamentally changed (<a href="secH5.html#sech59">section H.5.9</a>). 
We indicate that state
coercion and repression was the significant in why the Kronstadt 
revolt did not spread to the Petrograd workers 
(<a href="secH5.html#sech510">section H.5.10</a>). 
Then we discuss the possibility of White intervention during and 
after the revolt (<a href="secH5.html#sech511">section H.5.11</a>). 
We follow this with a discussion 
of arguments that the country was too exhausted to allow soviet 
democracy 
(<a href="secH5.html#sech512">section H.5.12</a>) 
or that soviet democracy would have 
resulted in the defeat of the revolution 
(<a href="secH5.html#sech513">section H.5.13</a>). In 
the process, we will also show the depths to which supporters 
of Leninism will sink to defend their heroes (in particular, see 
<a href="secH5.html#sech514">section H.5.14</a>). 
Lastly, we discuss what the Kronstadt revolt 
tells us about Leninism 
(<a href="secH5.html#sech515">section H.5.15</a>)
<p>
As we will hope to prove, Kronstadt was a popular uprising
from below by the same sailors, soldiers and workers that
made the 1917 October revolution. The Bolshevik repression
of the revolt <b>can</b> be justified in terms of defending the
state power of the Bolsheviks but it cannot be defended 
in terms of socialist theory. Indeed, it indicates that
Bolshevism is a flawed political theory which cannot 
create a socialist society but only a state capitalist
regime based on party dictatorship. This is what Kronstadt
shows above all else: given a choice between workers' power
and party power, Bolshevism will destroy the former to
ensure the latter (see <a href="secH5.html#sech515">
section H.5.15</a> in particular). In 
this, Kronstadt is no isolated event (as we indicate in 
<a href="secH5.html#sech52">section H.5.2</a>).
<p>
There are many essential resources on the revolt available.
The best in depth studies of the revolt are Paul Avrich's 
<b>Kronstadt 1921</b> and Israel Getzler's <b>Kronstadt 1917-1921</b>. 
Anarchist works include Ida Mett's <b>The Kronstadt Uprising</b> (by 
far the best), Alexander Berkman's <b>The Kronstadt Rebellion</b>
(which is a good introduction and included in his <b>The Russian 
Tragedy</b>), Voline's <b>The Unknown Revolution</b> has a good chapter 
on Kronstadt (and quotes extensively from the Kronstadters' 
paper <b><i>Izvestiia</i></b>) and volume two of Daniel Guerin's <b>No Gods, 
No Masters</b> has an excellent section on the rebellion which 
includes a lengthy extract from Emma Goldman's autobiography 
<b>Living my Life</b> on the events as well as extracts from the 
Kronstadters' paper. Anton Ciliga's (a libertarian 
socialist/Marxist) <b>Kronstadt Revolt</b> is also a good 
introduction to the issues relating to the uprising.
<p>
For the Leninist analysis, the anthology <b>Kronstadt</b> 
contains Lenin and Trotsky's articles on the revolt
plus supplementary essays refuting anarchist accounts.
This work is recommended for those seeking the official 
Trotskyist version of events as it contains all the 
relevant documents by the Bolshevik leaders. Emma 
Goldman's <b>Trotsky Protests Too Much</b> is a great
reply to Trotsky's comments and one of his followers
contained in this work. 
<p>
<a name="sech51"><H2>H.5.1 Why is the Kronstadt rebellion important?</H2>
<p>
The Kronstadt rebellion is important because, as Voline
put it, it was <i>"the first entirely independent attempt
of the people to liberate itself from all yokes and
achieve the Social Revolution, an attempt made directly,
resolutely, and boldly by the working masses themselves
without political shepherds, without leaders or tutors.
It was the first step towards the third and social 
revolution."</i> [<b>The Unknown Revolution</b>, pp. 537-8]
<p>
The Kronstadt sailors, solders and workers in 1917 had been 
the one of the first groups to support the slogan <i>"All power 
to the Soviets"</i> as well as one of the first towns to put it
into practice. The focal point of the 1921 revolt -- the sailors 
of the warships <b><i>Petropavlovsk</i></b> and <b><i>Sevastopol</i></b> -- had, in 1917, 
been supporters of the Bolsheviks. The sailors had been considered, 
until those fateful days in 1921, the pride and glory of the 
revolution and considered by all to be thoroughly revolutionary 
in spirit and action. They were the staunchest supporters of the 
Soviet system but, as the revolt showed, they were opposed to the 
dictatorship of any political party. 
<p>
Therefore Kronstadt is important in evaluating the
honesty of Leninist claims to be in favour of soviet
democracy and power. The civil war was effectively
over, yet the regime showed no signs of stopping the
repression against working class protest or rights.
Opposing re-elections to soviets, the Bolshevik
regime was repressing strikers in the name of 
<i>"soviet power"</i> and <i>"the political power of the
proletariat."</i> In the countryside, the Bolsheviks
continued their futile, evil and counterproductive
policies against the peasants (ignoring the fact
that their government was meant to be at the head
of a workers <b>and</b> peasants' state).
<p>
The events at Kronstadt cannot be looked at in isolation,
but rather as part of a general struggle of the Russian
working people against "their" government. Indeed, as
we indicate in the <a href="secH5.html#sech52">
next section</a>, this repression <b>after</b>
the end of the Civil War followed the same pattern as
that started <b>before</b> it. Just as the Bolsheviks had
repressed soviet democracy in Kronstadt in 1921 in favour
of party dictatorship, they had done so regularly elsewhere 
in early 1918.
<p>
The Kronstadt revolt was a popular movement from below
aiming at restoring soviet power. As Alexander Berkman
notes, the <i>"spirit of the Conference [of delegates which
elected the Provisional Revolutionary Committee] was 
thoroughly Sovietist: Kronstadt demanded Soviets free
from interference by any political party; it wanted 
non-partisan Soviets that should truly reflect the 
needs and express the will of the workers and peasants. 
The attitude of the delegates was antagonistic to the 
arbitrary rule of bureaucratic commissars, but friendly 
to the Communist Party as such. They were staunch adherents 
of the Soviet <b>system</b> and they were earnestly seeking to 
find, by means friendly and peaceful, a solution of the 
pressing problems"</i> facing the revolution. [<b>The Russian
Tragedy</b>, p. 67] The attitude of the Bolsheviks indicated
that, for them, soviet power was only useful in so far
as it ensured their party's power and if the two came
into conflict then the latter must survive over the
corpse of the former. Thus Berkman:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"But the 'triumph' of the Bolsheviks over Kronstadt held within 
itself the defeat of Bolshevism. It exposes the true character 
of the Communist dictatorship. The Communists proved themselves 
willing to sacrifice Communism, to make almost any compromise 
with international capitalism, yet refused the just demands of 
their own people -- demands that voiced the October slogans of 
the Bolsheviks themselves: Soviets elected by direct and secret 
ballot, according to the Constitution of the Russian Socialist
Federal Soviet Republic; and freedom of speech and press for the 
revolutionary parties."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 90]
</blockquote><p>
Investigating the Kronstadt revolt forces intelligent and 
honest minds into a critical examination of Bolshevik theories 
and practices. It exploded the Bolshevik myth of the Communist 
State being the "Workers' and Peasants' Government". It proved 
that the Communist Party dictatorship and the Russian Revolution 
are opposites, contradictory and mutually exclusive. While it
may be justifiable to argue that the repression directed 
by the Bolsheviks against working class people <b>during</b> the
civil war could be explained by the needs of the war, the
same cannot be said for Kronstadt. Similarly, the Leninist
justifications for their power and actions at Kronstadt
have direct implications for current activity and future
revolutions. As we argue in <a href="secH5.html#sech515">
section H.5.15</a>, the logic of
these rationales simply mean that modern day Leninists 
will, if in the same position, destroy soviet democracy to 
defend "soviet power" (i.e. the power of their party).
<p>
In effect, Kronstadt was the clash between the reality of 
Leninism and its image or rhetoric. It raises many important 
issues as regards Bolshevism and the rationale it has produced 
to justify certain actions. <i>"The Kronstadt experience,"</i> as 
Berkman argues, <i>"proves once more that government, the 
State -- whatever its name or form -- is ever the mortal enemy 
of liberty and popular self-determination. The state has no soul, 
no principles. It has but one aim -- to secure power and hold 
it, at any cost. That is the political lesson of Kronstadt."</i>
[<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 89]
<p>
Kronstadt is also important in that it, like most of the
Russian Revolution and Civil War, confirmed anarchist
analysis and predictions. This can be seen when <b><i>Izvestiia</i></b> 
(the paper produced during the rebellion by the Provisional 
Revolutionary Committee) argued that in Kronstadt <i>"there 
have been laid the foundations of the Third Revolution, 
which will break the last chains of the workers and lay 
open the new highway to socialist construction."</i> [quoted 
by Voline, <b>The Unknown Revolution</b>, p. 508] 
<p>
This confirmed the arguments of Russian anarchists in 1917, 
who had predicted that <i>"if the 'transfer of power to the 
soviets' comes in fact to signify the seizure of political 
authority by a new political party with the aim of guiding 
reconstruction from above, 'from the centre'"</i> then <i>"there 
is no doubt that this 'new power' can in no way satisfy 
even the most immediate needs and demands of the people, 
much less begin the task of 'socialist reconstruction' . . .
Then, after a more or less prolonged interruption, the 
struggle will inevitably be renewed. Then will begin a 
third and last stage of the Great Revolution. There will 
begin a struggle between the living forces arising from 
the creative impulse of the popular masses on the spot, 
on the one hand, namely the local workers' and peasants' 
organisations acting directly . . . and the centralist 
Social Democratic power defending its existence, on the 
other; a struggle between authority and freedom."</i> 
[quoted by Paul Avrich, <b>Anarchists in the Russian 
Revolution</b>, p. 94]
<p>
Thus Kronstadt is a symbol of the fact that state power 
cannot be utilised by the working class and always becomes
a force for minority rule (in this case of former workers
and revolutionaries, as Bakunin predicted).
<p>
There is another reason why the study of Kronstadt is important.
Since the suppression of the revolt, Leninist and Trotskyist 
groups have continually <b>justified</b> the acts of the Bolsheviks.
Moreover, they have followed Lenin and Trotsky in slandering the
revolt and, indeed, have continually lied about it. When 
Trotskyist John Wright states that the supporters of Kronstadt
have <i>"distort[ed] historical facts, monstrously exaggerat[ed]
every subsidiary issue or question . . . and throw[n] a veil
. . . over the <b>real</b> program and aims of the mutiny"</i> he is,
in fact, describing his and his fellow Trotskyists. [Lenin and 
Trotsky, <b>Kronstadt</b>, p. 102] Indeed, as we will prove, 
anarchist accounts have been validated by later research while 
Trotskyist assertions have been exploded time and time again. 
Indeed, it would be a useful task to write a companion to 
Trotsky's book <b>The Stalin School of Falsification</b> about Trotsky 
and his followers activities in the field of re-writing history.
<p>
Similarly, when Trotsky argues that anarchists like Goldman 
and Berkman <i>"do not have the slightest understanding of the 
criteria and methods of scientific research"</i> and just <i>"quote 
the proclamations of the insurgents like pious preachers quoting 
Holy Scriptures"</i> he is, in fact, just describing himself and his 
followers (as we shall see, the latter just repeat his and Lenin's 
assertions regardless of how silly or refuted they are). Ironically, 
he states that <i>"Marx has said that it is impossible to judge 
either parties or peoples by what they say about themselves."</i>
[Lenin and Trotsky, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 88] As Emma Goldman argued,
<i>"[h]ow pathetic that he does not realise how much this applies to 
him!"</i> [<b>Trotsky Protests Too Much</b>] Kronstadt shows what the 
Bolsheviks said about their regime was the opposite of what
it really was, as show by its actions.
<p>
What will also become clear from our discussion is the way 
Trotskyists have doctored the academic accounts to fit their 
ideological account of the uprising. The reason for this will 
become clear. Simply put, the supporters of Bolshevism cannot 
help lie about the Kronstadt revolt as it so clearly exposes 
the <b>real</b> nature of Bolshevik ideology. Rather than support 
the Kronstadt call for soviet democracy, the Bolsheviks crushed 
the revolt, arguing that in so doing they were defending "soviet 
power." Their followers have repeated these arguments.
<p>
This expression of Leninist double-think (the ability to know
two contradictory facts and maintain both are true) can be
explained. Once it is understood that <i>"workers' power"</i> and
<i>"soviet power"</i> actually mean <b>party power</b> then the contradictions
disappear. Party power had to be maintained at all costs,
including the destruction of those who desired real soviet
and workers' power (and so soviet democracy).
<p>
For example, Trotsky argued that in 1921 <i>"the proletariat had 
to hold political power in its hands"</i> yet later Trotskyists 
argue that the proletariat was too exhausted, atomised and 
decimated to do so. [Lenin and Trotsky, <b>Kronstadt</b>, p. 81]
Similarly, the Trotskyist Pierre Frank states that for the 
Bolsheviks, <i>"the dilemma was posed in these terms: either 
keep the workers' state under their leadership, or see the 
counterrevolution begin, in one or other political disguise, 
ending in a counterrevolutionary reign of terror that would 
leave not the slightest room for democracy."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 15] 
Of course the fact that there was <i>"not the slightest room for 
democracy"</i> under Lenin is not mentioned nor that a regime of 
terror did develop under Stalin from the repression and 
dictatorship practised in 1921.
<p>
Most Leninists follow Frank and argue that the suppression of 
the rebellion was essential to defend the <i>"gains of the revolution."</i> 
What exactly were these gains? Not soviet democracy, freedom of
speech, assembly and press, trade union freedom and so on as the 
Kronstadters were crushed for demanding these. No, apparently the 
"gains" of the revolution was a Bolshevik government pure and simple. 
Never mind the fact it was a one-party dictatorship, with a strong 
and privileged bureaucratic machine and no freedom of speech, press,
association or assembly for working people. The fact that Lenin and 
Trotsky were in power is enough for their followers to justify the 
repression of Kronstadt and subscribe to the notion of a "workers' 
state" which excludes workers from power.
<p>
Thus the double-think of Bolshevism is clearly seen from the
Kronstadt events. The Bolsheviks and their supporters 
argue that Kronstadt was suppressed to defend soviet power
yet argue that the Kronstadt demand for free soviet elections
was <i>"counter-revolutionary"</i>, <i>"backward"</i>, <i>"petty-bourgeois"</i>
and so on. How soviet power could mean anything without
free elections is never explained. Similarly, they argue
that it was necessary to defend the <i>"workers state"</i> by
slaughtering those who called for workers to have some
kind of say in how that state operated. It appears that
the role of workers in a workers' state was simply that 
of following orders without question (indeed, Trotsky was 
arguing in the 1930s that the Russian working class was still 
the ruling class under Stalin -- <i>"So long as the forms of 
property that have been created by the October Revolution 
are not overthrown, the proletariat remains the ruling class."</i>
[<b>The Class Nature of the Soviet State</b>]).
<p>
How can the Bolshevik repression be justified in terms of
defending workers power when the workers were powerless? How
can it be defended in terms of soviet power when the soviets
were rubber stamps of the government?
<p>
The logic of the Bolsheviks and their latter-day apologists and 
supporters is the same character as that of the U.S. Officer 
during the Vietnam War who explained that in order to save 
the village, they first had to destroy it. In order to save
soviet power, Lenin and Trotsky had to destroy soviet democracy.
<p>
One last point, while the Kronstadt revolt is a key event
in the Russian Revolution, one that signified its end, we
must not forget that it is just one in a long series of 
Bolshevik attacks on the working class. As we indicated
in <a href="secH4.html">section H.4</a> 
(and provide an overview in the 
<a href="secH5.html#sech52">next section</a>), 
the Bolshevik state had proven itself to be anti-revolutionary 
continually since October 1917. However, Kronstadt is important 
simply because it so clearly pitted soviet democracy against 
"soviet power" and occurred <b>after</b> the end of the civil war. 
As it brings the Russian Revolution to an end, it deserves
to be remembered, analysed and discussed by all revolutionaries
who seek to understand the past in order not to repeat the
same mistakes again.
<p>
<a name="sech52"><H2>H.5.2 What was the context of the Kronstadt revolt?</H2>
<p>
The Kronstadt revolt cannot be understood in isolation. Indeed,
to do so misses the real reason why Kronstadt is so important. 
Kronstadt was the end result of four years of revolution and 
civil war, the product of the undermining of soviet democracy 
by a combination of Bolshevism and war. The actions of the 
Bolsheviks in 1921 and their ideological justifications for 
their actions (justifications, of course, when they got beyond
lying about the revolt -- see 
<a href="secH5.html#sech55">section H.5.5</a>) merely reproduced
in concentrated form what had been occurring ever since they
had seized power.
<p>
Therefore it is necessary to present a short summary of
Bolshevik activities before the events of Kronstadt (see
<a href="secH4.html">section H.4</a> for fuller details). 
In addition, we have
to sketch the developing social stratification occurring
under Lenin and the events immediate before the revolt 
which sparked it off (namely the strike wave in Petrograd).
Once this has been done, we will soon see that Kronstadt
was not an isolated event but rather an act of solidarity
with the oppressed workers of Petrogard and an attempt
to save the Russian Revolution from Communist dictatorship
and bureaucracy. 
<p>
Alexander Berkman provides an excellent overview of what had
happened in Russia after the October Revolution:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"The elective system was abolished, first in the army and
navy, then in the industries. The Soviets of peasants and
workers were castrated and turned into obedient Communist
Committees, with the dreaded sword of the Cheka [political
para-military police] ever hanging over them. The labour
unions governmentalised, their proper activities suppressed,
they were turned into mere transmitters of the orders of
the State. Universal military service, coupled with the
death penalty for conscientious objectors; enforced labour,
with a vast officialdom for the apprehension and punishment
of 'deserters'; agrarian and industrial conscription of
the peasantry; military Communism in the cities and the
system of requisitioning in the country . . . ; the 
suppression of workers' protests by the military; the
crushing of peasant dissatisfaction with an iron hand. . ."</i>
[<b>The Russian Tragedy</b>, p. 27]
</blockquote><p>
We will discuss each of these features in more detail.
<p>
Bolshevik opposition to the soviet democracy demanded by the
Kronstadt revolt had a long pedigree. It started a few
months after the Bolsheviks seizure of power in the name
of the soviets. After a demonstration in Petrograd in favour 
of the Constituent Assembly was repressed by the Bolsheviks 
in mid-January 1918, calls for new elections to the soviet 
occurred in many factories. <i>"Despite the efforts of the 
Bolsheviks and the Factory Committees they controlled, 
the movement for new elections to the soviet spread to
more than twenty factories by early February and resulted
in the election of fifty delegates: thirty-six SRs, seven
Mensheviks and seven nonparty."</i> However, the Bolsheviks 
<i>"unwillingness to recognise the elections and to seat new 
delegates pushed a group of Socialists to . . . lay plans 
for an alternative workers' forum . . . what was later
to become the Assembly of Workers' Plenipotentiaries."</i> 
[Scott Smith, <i>"The Social-Revolutionaries and the Dilemma 
of Civil War"</i>, <b>The Bolsheviks in Russian Society</b>, pp. 83-104, 
Vladimir N. Brovkin (Ed.), pp. 85-86]
<p>
In Tula, again in the spring of 1918, local Bolsheviks 
reported to the Bolshevik Central Committee that the 
<i>"Bolshevik deputies began to be recalled one after 
another . . . our situation became shakier with passing 
day. We were forced to block new elections to the soviet 
and even not to recognise them where they had taken place 
not in our favour."</i> [quoted by Smith, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 87]
In the end, the local party leader was forced to abolish 
the city soviet and to vest power in the Provincial Executive 
Committee. This refused to convene a plenum of the city soviet 
for more than two months, knowing that newly elected delegates 
were non-Bolshevik. [<b>Ibid.</b>]
<p>
In Yaroslavl', the newly elected soviet convened on April 
9th, 1918, and when it elected a Menshevik chairman, <i>"the 
Bolshevik delegation walked out and declared the soviet 
dissolved. In response, workers in the city went out on 
strike, which the Bolsheviks answered by arresting the 
strike committee and threatening to dismiss the strikers 
and replace them with unemployed workers."</i> This failed and
the Bolsheviks were forced to hold new elections, which 
they lost. Then <i>"the Bolsheviks dissolved this soviet as 
well and places the city under martial law."</i> A similar 
event occurred in Riazan' (again in April) and, again, 
the Bolsheviks <i>"promptly dissolved the soviet and declared 
a dictatorship under a Military-Revolutionary Committee."</i> 
[<b>Op. Cit.</b>, pp. 88-9]
<p>
Anti-Bolshevik historian Vladimir Brovkin indicates that 
there <i>"are three factors"</i> which emerge from the soviet 
election results in the spring of 1918. These are, 
firstly, <i>"the impressive success of the Menshevik-SR 
opposition"</i> in those elections in all regions in European 
Russia. The second <i>"is the Bolshevik practice of outright 
disbandment of the Menshevik-SR-controlled soviets. The 
third is the subsequent wave of anti-Bolshevik uprisings."</i> 
In fact, <i>"in all provincial capitals of European Russia
where elections were held on which there are data, the
Mensheviks and the SRs won majorities on the city
soviets in the spring of 1918."</i> Brovkin stresses that
the <i>"process of the Menshevik-SR electoral victories
threatened Bolshevik power. That is why in the course
of the spring and summer of 1918, the soviet assemblies
were disbanded in most cities and villages. To stay in
power, the Bolsheviks had to destroy the soviets. . .
These steps generated a far-reaching transformation in
the soviet system, which remained 'soviet' in name
only."</i> [<i>"The Mensheviks' Political Comeback: The
Elections to the Provincial City Soviets in Spring
1918"</i>, <b>The Russian Review</b>, vol. 42, pp. 1-50,
p. 46, p. 47 and p. 48]
<p>
Brovkin presents accounts from numerous towns and
cities. As an example, he discusses Tver' where 
the <i>"escalation of political tensions followed
the already familiar pattern"</i> as the <i>"victory of
the opposition at the polls"</i> in April 1918 <i>"brought
about an intensification of the Bolshevik repression.
Strikes, protests, and marches in Tver' lead to the
imposition of martial law."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 11] 
<p>
Similarly, the Bolsheviks attacked the anarchists in Moscow
on the 11-12 of April, 1918, using armed detachments of
the Cheka (the political police). The Kronstadt soviet
voted a resolution condemning the action.
<p>
These are just a few examples of what was happening in Russia 
in early 1918. We must stress that the Russian Civil War 
started in late May, 1918 and the net effect of which was, 
of course, to make many dissident workers support the 
Bolsheviks during the war. This, however, did not stop
mass resistance and strikes breaking out periodically 
during the war when workers and peasants could no longer
put up with Bolshevik policies or the effects of the war.
<p>
Which, incidentally, answers Brian Bambery's rhetorical question
of <i>"why would the most militant working class in the world, 
within which there was a powerful cocktail of revolutionary 
ideas, and which had already made two revolutions (in 1905 and 
in February 1917), allow a handful of people to seize power 
behind its back in October 1917?"</i> [<i>"Leninism in the 21st 
Century"</i>, <b>Socialist Review</b>, no. 248, January 2001] Once 
the Russian workers realised that a handful of people <b>had</b>
seized power they <b>did</b> protest the usurpation of their power 
and rights by the Bolsheviks. The Bolsheviks repressed them. 
With the start of the Civil War, the Bolsheviks played their 
trump card -- <i>"Us or the Whites."</i> This ensured their power 
as the workers had few choices but to agree. Indeed, it 
may explain why the Bolsheviks finally eliminated opposition 
parties and groups <b>after</b> the end of the Civil War and only 
repressed them during it. With the Whites gone, the opposition 
were rising in influence again and the <i>"White card"</i> could
no longer be played.
<p>
Tony Cliff, leader of the British Leninist party the SWP, justified 
the repression of the Mensheviks and SRs on the grounds that they 
were not prepared to accept the Soviet system and rejected the role of
<i>"constitutional opposition."</i> He tries to move forward the repression 
until after the outbreak of full civil war by stating that <i>"[d]espite 
their strong opposition to the government, for some time, i.e. until 
after the armed uprising of the Czechoslovakian Legion [in late May,
1918] -- the Mensheviks were not much hampered in their propaganda 
work."</i> If having papers banned every now and then, members arrested 
and soviets being disbanded as soon as they get a Menshevik majority 
is <i>"not much hampered"</i> then Cliff does seem to be giving that phrase 
a new meaning. Similarly, Cliff's claim that the <i>"civil war undermined
the operation of the local soviets"</i> also seems lacking based on this 
new research. [<b>Lenin: Revolution Besieged</b>, vol. 3, p. 163, p. 167 
and p. 150]
<p>
The Bolshevik assault on the soviets occurred during the spring of
1918 (i.e. in March, April and May). That is <b>before</b> the Czech rising
and the onset of full scale civil war which occurred in late May. Nor 
is it true that the Mensheviks rejected constitutional methods. Though 
they wished to see a re-convocation of the Constituent Assembly they 
believed that the only way to do this was by winning a majority of the 
soviets. Clearly, attempts to blame the Civil War for the elimination 
of soviet power and democracy seems woefully weak given the actions 
of the Bolsheviks in the spring of 1918. And, equally clearly, the 
reduction of local soviet influence cannot be fully understood 
without factoring in the Bolshevik prejudice in favour of 
centralisation (as codified in the Soviet Constitution of 1918) 
along with this direct repression.
<p>
As well as disbanding soviets the Bolsheviks immediately created 
a power <b>above</b> the soviets in the form of the Council of People's 
Commissars. This body was an executive body which acted on behalf 
of the soviets. Lenin's argument in <b>The State and Revolution</b> 
that, like the Paris Commune, the workers' state would be based 
on a fusion of executive and administrative functions in the hands 
of the workers' delegates did not last one night. 
<p>
This council was the <b>real</b> power in Russia. At the height of the 
civil war (between late 1918 and throughout 1919) the Central 
Executive Committee of the All-Russian congress of soviets did 
not once met in full session. In the first year of the revolution, 
only 68 of 480 decrees by the Council of People's Commissars (the 
Communist government) were actually submitted to the Soviet Central
Executive Committee (and even fewer were drafted by it). 
<p>
Oligarchic tendencies in the soviets increased post-October, 
with <i>"[e]ffective power in the local soviets relentlessly 
gravitat[ing] to the executive committees."</i> Local soviets 
had <i>"little input into the formation of national policy."</i>
They quickly had become rubber-stamps of the Communist 
government and <i>"the party often disbanded congresses
that opposed major aspects of current policy."</i> [C. Sirianni,
<b> Workers' Control and Socialist Democracy</b>, p. 204 and 
p. 203] Indeed, the Soviet Constitution of 1918 codified 
this centralisation of power, with local soviets ordered
to <i>"carry out all orders of the respective higher organs 
of the soviet power"</i> (i.e. to carry out the commands of 
the central government).
<p>
Economically, the Bolshevik regime imposed a policy later
called <i>"War Communism"</i> (although, as Victor Serge noted,
<i>"any one who, like myself, went so far as to consider it
purely temporary was locked upon with disdain."</i> [<b>Memoirs
of a Revolutionary</b>, p. 115] This regime was marked by
extreme hierarchical and dictatorial tendencies. The 
leading lights of the Communist Party were expressing
themselves on the nature of the "socialist" regime they
desired. Trotsky, for example, put forward ideas for the
<i>"militarisation of labour"</i> (as expounded in his infamous
work <b>Communism and Terrorism</b>). Here are a few 
representative selections from that work:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"The very principle of compulsory labour service is for the 
Communist quite unquestionable. . . . But hitherto it has 
always remained a mere principle. Its application has always 
had an accidental, impartial, episodic character. Only now, 
when along the whole line we have reached the question of the 
economic re-birth of the country, have problems of compulsory 
labour service arisen before us in the most concrete way 
possible. The only solution of economic difficulties that 
is correct from the point of view both of principle and 
of practice is to treat the population of the whole country 
as the reservoir of the necessary labour power . . . and to 
introduce strict order into the work of its registration, 
mobilisation, and utilisation."</i>
<p>
<i>"The introduction of compulsory labour service is unthinkable 
without the application, to a greater or less degree, of the 
methods of militarisation of labour."</i>
<p>
<i>"Why do we speak of militarisation? Of course, this is only an 
analogy -- but an analogy very rich in content. No social 
organisation except the army has ever considered itself 
justified in subordinating citizens to itself in such a 
measure, and to control them by its will on all sides to 
such a degree, as the State of the proletarian dictatorship 
considers itself justified in doing, and does."</i>
<p>
<i>"Both economic and political compulsion are only forms of the expression 
of the dictatorship of the working class in two closely connected
regions . . . under Socialism there will not exist the apparatus of 
compulsion itself, namely, the State: for it will have melted away 
entirely into a producing and consuming commune. None the less, the 
road to Socialism lies through a period of the highest possible 
intensification of the principle of the State . . . Just as a lamp, 
before going out, shoots up in a brilliant flame, so the State, before 
disappearing, assumes the form of the dictatorship of the proletariat, 
i.e., the most ruthless form of State, which embraces the life of 
the citizens authoritatively in every direction. . .  No organisation 
except the army has ever controlled man with such severe compulsion 
as does the State organisation of the working class in the most 
difficult period of transition. It is just for this reason that 
we speak of the militarisation of labour."</i>
</blockquote><p>
This account was written as a policy to be followed now that the 
<i>"internal civil war is coming to an end."</i> It was not seen as a 
temporary policy imposed upon the Bolsheviks by the war but 
rather, as can be seen, as an expression of <i>"principle"</i> (perhaps 
because Marx and Engels had written about the <i>"[e]stablishment 
of industrial armies"</i> in the <b>Communist Manifesto</b>? [Selected 
Writings, p. 53]).
<p>
In the same work, Trotsky justified the elimination of soviet
power and democracy by party power and dictatorship (see
sections 
<a href="secH5.html#sech510">H.5.10</a> 
and <a href="secH5.html#sech515">H.5.15</a>). Thus we have the application
of state serfdom by the Bolsheviks (indeed, Trotsky was
allowed to apply his ideas on the militarisation of labour
to the railways). 
<p>
This vision of strict centralisation and top-down military
structures built upon Bolshevik policies of the first months 
after the October revolution. The attempts at workers'
self-management organised by many factory committees was
opposed in favour of a centralised state capitalist system,
with Lenin arguing for appointed managers with <i>"dictatorial"</i> 
powers (see Maurice Brinton's <b>The Bolsheviks and Workers' 
Control</b> for full details). 
<p>
Strikes were repressed by force. In early May, 1918, a major
wave of labour protest started which climaxed in early July.
In Petrograd it included strikes, demonstrations and 
anti-Bolshevik factory meetings. Of the meetings unconnected 
to the Petrograd Soviet elections, <i>"the greatest number by
far were protests against some form of Bolshevik repression:
shootings, incidents of 'terrorist activities', and arrests."</i>
During the opposition organised strike of July 2nd, <i>"Zinoviev
and others took quick counteraction . . . Any sign of
sympathy for the strike was declared a criminal act. More
arrests were made . . . On July 1 . . . machine guns were
set up at main points throughout Petrograd and Moscow
railroad junctions, and elsewhere in both cities as well.
Controls were tightened in the factories. Meetings were
forcefully dispersed."</i> [William G. Rosenberg, <b>Russian 
Labour and Bolshevik Power</b>, pp. 123-4 and p. 127]
<p>
In 1918, workers who took strike action <i>"were afraid to lose 
their jobs"</i> as <i>"a strike inevitably led to a closure of the 
factory, a dismissal of the workers, and a careful screening 
of those rehired to determine their political preferences."</i> 
By 1920, as well as these methods, workers also faced arrest 
by the Cheka and <i>"internment in a concentration camp."</i> During 
the first six months of 1920 there were strikes in 77 percent 
of the medium- and large-size enterprises in Russia. As an 
example of the policies used to crush strikes, we can take 
the case of a strike by the workers of the Ryazan-Urals 
railroad in May 1921 (i.e. <b>after</b> the end of the Civil War). 
The authorities <i>"shut down the depot, brought in troops,
and arrested another hundred workers"</i> in addition to
the strikers delegates elected to demand the release of
a railroad worker (whose arrest had provoked the strike).
Ironically, those <i>"who had seized power in 1917 in the
name of the politically conscious proletariat were in
fact weeding out all these conscious workers."</i> [V. Brovkin, 
<b>Behind the Front Lines of the Civil War</b>, pp. 287-8, 
pp. 290-1 and p. 298]
<p>
In the Red Army and Navy, anti-democratic principles were
again imposed. At the end of March, 1918, Trotsky reported 
to the Communist Party that <i>"the principle of election is 
politically purposeless and technically inexpedient, 
and it has been, in practice, abolished by decree."</i> 
Soldiers did not have to fear this system of top-down
appointment as <i>"political power is in the hands of the 
same working class from whose ranks the Army is recruited"</i>
(i.e. in the hands of the Bolshevik party). There could
<i>"be no antagonism between the government and the mass of 
the workers, just as there is no antagonism between the 
administration of the union and the general assembly of 
its members, and, therefore, there cannot be any grounds 
for fearing the <b>appointment</b> of members of the commanding 
staff by the organs of the Soviet Power."</i> [<b>Work, Discipline, 
Order</b>] Of course, as any worker in struggle can tell
you, they almost always come into conflict with the union's
bureaucracy (as Trotskyists themselves often point out).
<p>
In the Navy, a similar process occurred -- much to the
disgust and opposition of the sailors. As Paul Avrich
notes, <i>"Bolshevik efforts to liquidate the ship committees
and impose the authority of the centrally appointed
commissars aroused a storm of protest in the Baltic
Fleet. For the sailors, whose aversion to external
authority was proverbial, any attempt to restore
discipline meant a betrayal of the freedoms for which
they had struggles in 1917."</i> [<b>Kronstadt 1921</b>, p. 66]
This process <i>"began in earnest on 14 May 1918 with
the <b>appointment</b> of Ivan Flerovsky as general commissar
of the Baltic Fleet and chairman of its Council of
Commissars, a body which replaced the disbanded elective
Central Committee of the Baltic Fleet. Flerovsky 
promptly appointed bridge commissars to whom all
ships' committees were subordinated . . . Naval democracy
was finally destroyed on 18 January 1919 when Trotsky
. . . decreed the abolition of all ships' committees,
the appointment of commissars to all ships, and the
setting up of revolutionary tribunals to maintain
discipline, a function previously vested in elected
'comradely courts.'"</i> [I. Getzler, <b>Kronstadt 1917-1921</b>,
p. 191]
<p>
In the countryside, grain requisitioning was resulting in
peasant uprisings as food was taken from the peasants by
force. While the armed detachments were <i>"instructed to
leave the peasants enough for their personal needs, it
was common for the requisitioning squads to take at
gun-point grain intended for personal consumption or
set aside for the next sowing."</i> The villagers predictably
used evasive tactics and cut back on the amount of
land they tilled as well as practising open resistance.
Famine was a constant problem as a result. [Avrich, 
<b>Op. Cit.</b>, pp. 9-10] 
<p>
Thus Voline:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"the Bolshevik government evidently understood the slogan
'power to the soviets' in a peculiar way. It applied it
in reverse. Instead of giving assistance to the working
masses and permitting them to conquer and enlarge their
own autonomous activity, it began by taking all 'power'
from them and treating them like subjects. It bent the
factories to its will and liberated the workers from the
right to make their own decisions; it took arbitrary and
coercive measures, without even asking the advice of the
workers' concerned; it ignored the demands emanating
from the workers' organisations. And, in particular, it
increasingly curbed, under various pretexts, the freedom
of action of the Soviets and of other workers' organisations,
everywhere imposing its will arbitrarily and even by
violence."</i> [<b>The Unknown Revolution</b>, pp. 459-60]
</blockquote><p>
From before the start of Civil War, the Russian
people had been slowly but surely eliminated from any
meaningful say in the progress of the revolution. The
Bolsheviks undermined (when not abolishing) workers'
democracy, freedom and rights in the workplaces, the 
soviets, the unions, the army and the navy. Unsurprisingly, 
the lack of any real control from below heightened the
corrupting effects of power. Inequality, privilege and 
abuses were everywhere in the ruling party and bureaucracy
(<i>"Within the party, favouritism and corruption were rife. 
The Astoria Hotel, where many high officials lived, was 
the scene of debauchery, while ordinary citizens went 
without the bare necessities."</i> [Paul Avrich, <b>Bolshevik 
Opposition to Lenin: G. T. Miasnikov and the Workers' 
Group</b>]).
<p>
With the end of the Civil War in November 1920, many workers 
expected a change of policy. However, months passed and the
same policies were followed. <i>"The Communist State,"</i> as
Alexander Berkman summarised, <i>"showed no intention of 
loosening the yoke. The same policies continued, with labour 
militarisation still further enslaving the people, embittering 
them with added oppression and tyranny, and in consequence 
paralysing every possibility of industrial revival."</i> [<b>The
Russian Tragedy</b>, p. 61] Finally, in the middle of
February, 1921, <i>"a rash of spontaneous factory meetings"</i>
began in Moscow. Workers called for the immediate scrapping
of War Communism. These meetings were <i>"succeeded by strikes
and demonstrations."</i> Workers took to the streets demanding
<i>"free trade"</i>, higher rations and <i>"the abolition of grain
requisitions."</i> Some demanded the restoration of political
rights and civil liberties. Troops had to be called in
to restore order. [Paul Avrich, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, pp. 35-6]
<p>
Then a far more serious wave of strikes and protests swept
Petrograd. The Kronstadt revolt was sparked off by these
protests. Like Moscow, these <i>"street demonstrations were
heralded by a rash of protest meetings in Petrograd's
numerous but depleted factories and shops."</i> Like Moscow,
speakers <i>"called for an end to grain requisitioning, the
removal of roadblocks, the abolition of privileged
rations, and permission to barter personal possessions
for food."</i> On the 24th of February, the day after a 
workplace meeting, the Trubochny factory workforce
downed tools and walked out the factory. Additional
workers from nearby factories joined in. The crowd
of 2,000 was dispersed by armed military cadets.
The next day, the Trubochny workers again took to
the streets and visited other workplaces, bringing
them out on strike too. [Avrich, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, pp. 37-8]  
<p>
The strikers started to organise themselves. <i>"As in
1918, workers from various plants elected delegates
to the Petrograd Assembly of Plenipotentiaries."</i>
[V. Brovkin, <b>Behind the Front Lines of the Civil War</b>,
p. 393]
<p>
A three-man Defence Committee was formed and Zinoviev 
<i>"proclaimed martial law"</i> on February 24th. [Avrich, 
<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 39] A curfew of 11pm was proclaimed, all 
meetings and gatherings (indoor and out) were banned 
unless approved of by the Defence Committee and all 
infringements would <i>"be dealt with according to 
military law."</i> [Ida Mett, <b>The Kronstadt Uprising</b>,
p. 37]
<p>
The workers <i>"were ordered to return to their factories,
failing which they would be denied their rations. That,
however, had no impact: but in addition, a number of
trade unions was disbanded, their leaders and the most
die-hard strikers tossed into prison."</i> [Emma Goldman,
<b>No Gods, No Masters</b>, vol. 2, p. 168] 
<p>
As part of this process of repression, the Bolshevik government 
had to rely on the <i><b>kursanty</b></i> (Communist officer cadets) as the 
local garrisons had been caught up the general ferment and 
could not be relied upon to carry out the government's 
orders. Hundreds of <i><b>kursanty</b></i> were called in from 
neighbouring military academies to patrol the city. 
<i>"Overnight Petrograd became an armed camp. In every quarter 
pedestrians were stopped and their documents checked
. . . the curfew [was] strictly enforced."</i> The
Petrograd Cheka made widespread arrests. [Avrich,
<b>Op. Cit.</b>, pp. 46-7]
<p>
The Bolsheviks also stepped up their propaganda drive.
The strikers were warned not to play into the hands of
the counterrevolution. As well as their normal press,
popular party members were sent to agitate in the streets, 
factories and barracks. They also made a series of 
concessions such as providing extra rations. On March 1st 
(after the Kronstadt revolt had started) the Petrograd 
soviet announced the withdrawal of all road-blocks and
demobilised the Red Army soldiers assigned to labour
duties in Petrograd. [Avrich, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, pp. 48-9]
<p>
Thus a combination of force, propaganda and concessions
was used to defeat the strike (which quickly reached
a near general strike level). As Paul Arvich notes, 
<i>"there is no denying that the application of military
force and the widespread arrests, not to speak of the
tireless propaganda waged by the authorities had been
indispensable in restoring order. Particularly impressive
in this regard was the discipline shown by the local
party organisation. Setting aside their internal disputes,
the Petrograd Bolsheviks swiftly closed ranks and 
proceeded to carry out the unpleasant task of repression
with efficiency and dispatch."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 50]
<p>
This indicates the immediate context of the Kronstadt rebellion.
Yet Trotskyist J. G. Wright wonders whether the Kronstadt's paper
<i>"lied  when in the very first issue . . . it carried a sensational 
headline: 'General Insurrection in Petrograd'"</i> and states that 
people <i>"spread . . . lies about the insurrection in Petrograd."</i> 
[Lenin and Trotsky, <b>Kronstadt</b>, p. 109] Yes, of course a near 
general strike, accompanied by mass meetings and demonstrations 
and repressed by force and martial law, is a everyday occurrence
and has nothing in common with an <i>"insurrection"</i>! If such events
occurred in a state not headed by Lenin and Trotsky it is
unlikely Mr. Wright would have such difficulty in recognising
them for what there were. Historian V. Brovkin states the
obvious when he wrote <i>"[t]o anyone who had lived through
the events of February 1917, this chain of events appeared
strikingly similar. It looked as if a popular insurrection
had begun."</i> [Brovkin, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 393]
<p>
It was these labour protests and their repression which started 
the events in Kronstadt. While many sailors had read and listened 
to the complaints of their relatives in the villages and had 
protested on their behalf to the Soviet authorities, it took 
the Petrograd strikes to be the catalyst for the revolt. Moreover, 
they had other political reasons for protesting against the 
policies of the government. Navy democracy had been abolished 
by decree and the soviets had been turned into fig-leaves of 
party dictatorship.
<p>
Unsurprisingly, the crew of the battleships <i><b>Petropavlovsk</b></i>
and <b><i>Sevastopol</i></b> decided to act once <i>"the news of strikes,
lockouts, mass arrests and martial law"</i> in Petrograd
reached them. They <i>"held a joint emergency meeting in
the face of protests and threats of their commissars
. . . [and] elected a fact-finding delegation of 
thirty-two sailors which, on 27 February, proceeded
to Petrograd and made the round of the factories. . .
They found the workers whom they addressed and questioned
too frightened to speak up in the presence of the 
hosts of Communist factory guards, trade union officials,
party committee men and Chekists."</i> [Gelzter, <b>Kronstadt
1917-1921</b>, p. 212] 
<p>
The delegation returned the next day and reported its
findings to a general meeting of the ship's crews and
adopted the resolutions which were to be the basis of
the revolt (see <a href="secH5.html#sech53">next section</a>). 
The Kronstadt revolt had
started.
<p>
<a name="sech53"><H2>H.5.3 What was the Kronstadt Programme?</H2>
<p>
It is rare for a Trotskyist to actually list the demands of
the Kronstadt revolt in their entirety. For example, John
Rees does not provide even a summary of the 15 point programme.
He asserts that the <i>"sailors represented the exasperated
of the peasantry with the War Communism regime"</i> while, rather
lamely, noting that <i>"no other peasant insurrection reproduced
the Kronstadters demands."</i> [<i>"In Defence of October"</i>, pp. 3-82, 
<b>International Socialism</b>, no. 52, p. 63] Similarly, it is only
the <i>"Editorial Preface"</i> in the Trotskyist work <b>Kronstadt</b>
which presents even a summary of the demands. This summary
states:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"The resolution demanded free elections in the soviets
with the participation of anarchists and Left SRs,
legalisation of the socialist parties and the anarchists,
abolition of the Political Departments [in the fleet]
and the Special Purpose Detachments, removal of
the <b>zagraditelnye ottyady</b> [Armed troops used to
prevent unauthorised trade], restoration of free
trade, and the freeing of political prisoners."</i>
[Lenin and Trotsky, <b>Kronstadt</b>, pp. 5-6]
</blockquote><p>
They assert in the <i>"Glossary"</i> that it <i>"demanded political
and economic changes, many of which were soon realised
with the adoption of the NEP."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 148] Which,
ironically enough, contradicts Trotsky who claimed
that it was an <i>"illusion"</i> to think <i>"it would have been
sufficient to inform the sailors of the NEP decrees to 
pacify them."</i> Moreover, the <i>"insurgents did not have a
conscious program, and they could not have had one 
because of the very nature of the petty bourgeoisie.
They themselves did not clearly understand that their
fathers and brothers needed first of all was free
trade."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 91-2]
<p>
So we have a uprising which was peasant in nature, but
whose demands did not have anything in common with
other peasant revolts. It apparently demanded free
trade and did not demand it. It was similar to the NEP,
but the NEP decrees would not have satisfied it. It
produced a platform of political and economic demands
but did not, apparently, have a <i>"conscious program."</i> 
The contradictions abound. Why these contradictions
exist will become clear after we list the 15 demands.
<p>
The full list of demands are as follows:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"1. Immediate new elections to the Soviets. The present 
   Soviets no longer express the wishes of the workers and
   peasants. The new elections should be by secret ballot, 
   and should be preceded by free electoral propaganda.
<p>
2. Freedom of speech and of the press for workers and 
   peasants, for the Anarchists, and for the Left Socialist
   parties.
<p>
3. The right of assembly, and freedom for trade union 
   and peasant organisations.
<p>
4. The organisation, at the latest on 10th March 1921, of 
   a Conference of non-Party workers, solders and sailors of
   Petrograd, Kronstadt and the Petrograd District.
<p>
5. The liberation of all political prisoners of the Socialist 
   parties, and of all imprisoned workers and peasants,
   soldiers and sailors belonging to working class and 
   peasant organisations.
<p>
6. The election of a commission to look into the dossiers of 
   all those detained in prisons and concentration camps.
<p>
7. The abolition of all political sections in the armed forces. 
   No political party should have privileges for the propagation 
   of its ideas, or receive State subsidies to this end. In the 
   place of the political sections various cultural groups should 
   be set up, deriving resources from the State.
<p>
8. The immediate abolition of the militia detachments set up 
   between towns and countryside.
<p>
9. The equalisation of rations for all workers, except those 
   engaged in dangerous or unhealthy jobs.
<p>
10. The abolition of Party combat detachments in all military 
    groups. The abolition of Party guards in factories
    and enterprises. If guards are required, they should be 
    nominated, taking into account the views of the workers.
<p>
11. The granting to the peasants of freedom of action on their 
    own soil, and of the right to own cattle, provided they look 
    after them themselves and do not employ hired labour.
<p>
12. We request that all military units and officer trainee groups 
    associate themselves with this resolution. 
<p>
13. We demand that the Press give proper publicity to this 
    resolution.
<p>
14. We demand the institution of mobile workers' control groups.
<p>
15. We demand that handicraft production be authorised provided 
    it does not utilise wage labour."</i> [quoted by Ida Mett, <b>The
Kronstadt Revolt</b>, pp. 37-8]
</blockquote><p>
This is the program described by the Soviet government as
a <i>"SR-Black Hundreds resolution"</i>! This is the program which
Trotsky maintains was drawn up by <i>"a handful of reactionary 
peasants and soldiers."</i> [Lenin and Trotsky, <b>Kronstadt</b>,
p. 65 and p. 98] As can be seen, it was nothing of the
kind. Indeed, this resolution is largely in the spirit of 
the political slogans of the Bolsheviks before they seized 
of power in the name of the soviets. Moreover, it reflected
ideals expounded in 1917 and were formalised in the Soviet
State's 1918 constitution. In the words of Paul Avrich,
<i>"[i]n effect, the <b><i>Petropavlovsk</i></b> resolution was an
appeal to the Soviet government to live up to its own
constitution, a bold statement of those very rights 
and freedom which Lenin himself had professed in 1917.
In spirit, it was a throwback to October, evoking the
old Leninist watchword of 'All power to the soviets.'"</i>
[<b>Kronstadt 1921</b>, pp. 75-6] Hardly an example of 
<i>"reactionary"</i> politics, unless the slogans of 1917 and 
the 1918 constitution of the U.S.S.R. are also 
<i>"reactionary."</i> 
<p>
While these fifteen demands are central to the revolt,
looking at the paper produced by the revolt helps us
understand the nature of these demands and place them in
a fuller political context. <i>"The pages of <b><i>Izvestiia</i></b>,"</i>
as Voline argued, <i>"give abundant proof of th[e] general
enthusiasm, which re-appeared once the masses felt they
had regained, in the free Soviets, the true road to
emancipation and the hope of achieving the real 
revolution."</i> [<b>Unknown Revolution</b>, p. 495] For example, 
food rations were equalised, except for the sick and
to children, who received a larger one. Left-wing
political parties were legalised. The Provisional
Revolutionary Committee was elected by a <i>"Conference
of Delegates"</i> made up of over two hundred delegates from
military units and workplaces. This body elected the
Provisional Revolutionary Committee on March 2nd and
enlarged it (again by election) on March 4th.
<p>
The March 4th Conference of Delegates also <i>"decided that 
all workers, without exception, should be armed and put
in charge of guarding the interior of the city"</i> and to 
organise re-elections for <i>"the administrative commissions 
of all the unions and also of the Council of Unions"</i> (which 
could <i>"become the principle organ of the workers"</i>). 
[<b><i>Izvestiia</i></b> quoted by Voline, <b>The Unknown Revolution</b>, 
p. 494]
<p>
In the article <i>"The Goals for Which We Fight,"</i> the rebels 
argue that <i>"[w]ith the aid of state unions"</i> the Communists 
have <i>"chained the workers to the machines, and transformed 
work into a new slavery instead of making it pleasant."</i> Moreover, 
to the <i>"protests of the peasants, which have gone so far as 
spontaneous revolts, to the demands of the workers, compelled 
by the very conditions of their life to resort to strikes, 
they reply with mass shootings and a ferocity that the Tsarist 
generals might have envied."</i> An <i>"inevitable third revolution"</i>
was coming, shown by <i>"increasing"</i> workers' strikes, which will 
be <i>"achieved by the labouring masses themselves."</i> This would be 
based on <i>"freely elected soviets"</i> and the reorganisation of 
<i>"the state unions into free associations of workers, peasants 
and intellectuals."</i> [<b><i>Izvestiia</i></b> quoted by Voline, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, 
pp. 507-8]
<p>
Thus the rebels saw clearly the real nature of nationalisation.
Rather than being the basis of socialism, it simply produced
more wage slavery, this time to the state (<i>"From a slave of
the capitalist the worker was transformed into a slave of
state enterprises."</i> [<b><i>Izvestiia</i></b> quoted by Voline, <b>Op. Cit.</b>,
p. 518]). They clearly saw the need to replace wage slavery to
the state (via nationalised property) with free associations
of free workers and peasants. Such a transformation would
come from the collective direct action and self-activity 
of working people, as expressed in the strikes which had 
so recently swept across the country. 
<p>
This transformation from the bottom up was stressed 
elsewhere. The unions, <b><i>Izvestiia</i></b> argued, would <i>"fulfil 
the great and urgent task of educating the masses for an
economic and cultural renovation of the country. . . The
Soviet Socialist Republic cannot be strong unless its 
administration be exercised by the working class, with
the help of renovated unions."</i> These should <i>"become real
representatives of the interests of the people."</i> The
current unions did <i>"nothing"</i> to promote <i>"economic activity
of a co-operative nature"</i> or the <i>"cultural education"</i> of
their members due centralised system imposed by the
Communist regime. This would change with <i>"true union 
activity by the working class."</i> [<b><i>Izvestiia</i></b> quoted by
Voline, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 510] A strong syndicalist perspective
clearly can be seen here, urging self-managed unions to
be at the forefront of transforming the economy into a
free association of producers. They opposed any "socialist"
system in which the peasant <i>"has been transformed into a serf 
in the 'soviet' economy,"</i> the worker <i>"a simple wage-worker 
in the State factories"</i> and those who protest are <i>"thrown
into the jails of the Cheka."</i> [<b><i>Izvestiia</i></b> quoted by
Voline, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 512]
<p>
The rebels saw that soviet power cannot exist while
a political party dominated the soviets. They argued 
that Russia was just <i>"State Socialism with Soviets of
functionaries who vote docilely what the authorities
and their infallible commissars dictate to them."</i> Without
real working class power, without <i>"the will of the worker"</i>
expressed in their free soviets, corruption had become 
rampant (<i>"Communists . . . live in ease and the commissars
get fat."</i>). Rather than a <i>"time of free labour in the
fields, factories and workshops,"</i> where <i>"power"</i> was in 
<i>"the hands of the workers,"</i> the <i>"Communists ha[d] brought 
in the rule of the commissars, with all the despotism of 
personal power."</i> [<b><i>Izvestiia</i></b>, quoted by Voline, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, 
p. 519, p. 518, p. 511 and p. 518]
<p>
In opposition to this, the rebels argued that <i>"Revolutionary 
Kronstadt . . . fights for the true Soviet Republic of the 
workers in which the producer himself will be owner of the 
products of his labour and can dispose of them as he wishes."</i> 
They desired <i>"a life animated by free labour and the free 
development of the individual"</i> and so proclaimed <i>"All power 
to the Soviets and not to the parties"</i> and <i>"the power of the
free soviets."</i> [<b><i>Izvestiia</i></b> quoted by Voline, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 519]
<p>
As can be seen, while the 15 demands are the essence of the
revolt, looking at <b><i>Izvestiia</i></b> confirms the revolutionary
nature of the demands. The rebels of 1921, as in 1917,
looked forward to a system of free soviets in which 
working people could transform their society into one
based on free associations which would encourage individual
freedom and be based on working class power. They looked to
a combination of renewed and democratic soviets and unions
to transform Russian society into a <b>real</b> socialist system
rather than the system of state capitalism the Bolsheviks
had imposed (see Maurice Brintin's <b>The Bolsheviks and
Workers' Control</b> for details of Lenin's commitment to
building state capitalism in Russia from 1917 onwards).
<p>
Clearly, Kronstadt's political programme was deeply socialist
in nature. It opposed the new wage slavery of the workers to
the state and argued for free associations of free producers. 
It was based on the key slogan of 1917, <i>"All power to the soviets"</i>
but built upon it by adding the rider <i>"but not to parties."</i>
The sailors had learned the lesson of the October revolution,
namely that if a party held power the soviets did not. The
politics of the revolt were not dissimilar to those of 
libertarian socialists and, as we argue in 
<a href="secH5.html#sech59">section H.5.9</a>,
identical to the dominant ideas of Kronstadt in 1917.
<p>
The question now arises, whose interests did these demands 
and politics represent. According to Trotskyists, it is the 
interests of the peasantry which motivated them. For anarchists, 
it is an expression of the interests of all working people 
(proletarian, peasant and artisan) against those who would 
exploit their labour and govern them (be it private capitalists 
or state bureaucrats). We discuss this issue in the 
<a href="secH5.html#sech54">next section</a>.
<p>
<a name="sech54"><H2>H.5.4 Did the Kronstadt rebellion reflect <i>"the exasperation of the peasantry"</i>?</H2>
<p>
This is a common argument of Trotskyists. While rarely providing
the Kronstadt demands, they always assert that (to use John Rees' 
words) that the sailors <i>"represented the exasperation of the 
peasantry with the War Communist regime."</i> [<i>"In Defence of 
October"</i>, <b>International Socialism</b> no. 52, p. 63]
<p>
As for Trotsky, the ideas of the rebellion <i>"were deeply
reactionary"</i> and <i>"reflected the hostility of the backward
peasantry toward the worker, the self-importance of the
soldier or sailor in relation to 'civilian' Petrograd, the 
hatred of the petty bourgeois for revolutionary discipline."</i> 
The revolt <i>"represented the tendencies of the land-owning 
peasant, the small speculator, the kulak."</i> [Lenin and Trotsky, 
<b>Kronstadt</b>, p. 80 and p. 81]
<p>
How true is this? Even a superficial analysis of the events of 
the revolt and of the <b><i>Petropavlovsk</i></b> resolution (see 
<a href="secH5.html#sech53">last section</a>) 
can allow the reader to dismiss Trotsky's assertions. 
<p>
Firstly, according to the definition of <i>"kulak"</i> proved by the 
Trotskyists' themselves, we discover that kulak refers to 
<i>"well-to-do peasants who owned land and hired poor peasants 
to work it."</i> [Lenin and Trotsky, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 146] Point 11
of the Kronstadt demands explicitly states their opposition 
to rural wage labour. How could Kronstadt represent <i>"the kulak"</i> 
when it called for the abolition of hired labour on the land? 
Clearly, the revolt did not represent the <i>"small speculator, 
the kulak"</i> as Trotsky asserted. Did it represent the land-owning 
peasant? We will return to this issue shortly. 
<p>
Secondly, the Kronstadt revolt started after the sailors at 
Kronstadt sent delegates to investigate the plight of striking 
workers in Petrograd. Their actions were inspired by solidarity
for these workers and civilians. This clearly shows that 
Trotsky's assertion that the revolt <i>"reflected the hostility 
of the backward peasantry toward the worker, the self-importance 
of the soldier or sailor in relation to 'civilian' Petrograd"</i> to 
be utter and total nonsense.
<p>
As for the being <i>"deeply reactionary,"</i> the ideas that motivated 
the revolt clearly were not. They were the outcome of solidarity 
with striking workers and called for soviet democracy, free speech, 
assembly and organisation for workers and peasants. These express
the demands of most, if not all, Marxist parties (including the 
Bolsheviks in 1917) before they take power. They simply repeat 
the demands and facts of the revolutionary period of 1917 and of 
the Soviet Constitution. As Anton Ciliga argues, these demands
were <i>"impregnated with the spirit of October; and no calumny in 
the world can cast a doubt on the intimate connection existing 
between this resolution and the sentiments which guided the 
expropriations of 1917."</i> [<i>"The Kronstadt Revolt"</i>, <b>The Raven</b>, 
no, 8, pp. 330-7, p. 333] If the ideas of the Kronstadt revolt 
are reactionary, then so is the slogan <i>"all power to the soviets."</i>
<p>
Not that the Kronstadters had not been smeared before by their
opponents. The ex-Bolshevik turned Menshevik Vladimir Voitinsky 
who had visited the base in May 1917 later remembered them
as being <i>"degraded and demoralised"</i> and <i>"lack[ing] proletarian
class-consciousness. It has the psychology of a <b>Lumpenproletariat</b>,
a stratum that is a danger to a revolution rather than its
support."</i> They were <i>"material suitable for a rebellion <b>a la</b>
Bakunin."</i> [quoted by I. Getzler, <b>Kronstadt 1917-1921</b>, p. 253]
<p>
So did the demands represent the interests of the (non-kulak) 
peasantry? To do so we must see whether the demands reflected 
those of industrial workers or not. If the demands do, in fact, 
match those of striking workers and other proletarian elements 
then we can easily dismiss this claim. After all, if the demands 
of the Kronstadt rebellion reflected those of proletarians then 
it is impossible to say that they simply reflected the needs of 
peasants (of course, Trotskyists will argue that these proletarians 
were also <i>"backward"</i> but, in effect, they are arguing that any 
worker who did not quietly follow Bolshevik orders was <i>"backward"</i>
-- hardly a sound definition of the termm!!). 
<p>
We can quickly note that demands echoed those raised during the 
Moscow and Petrograd strikes that preceded the Kronstadt revolt. 
For example, Paul Avrich records that the demands raised in the 
February strikes included <i>"removal of roadblocks, permission to 
make foraging trips into the countryside and to trade freely with
the villagers, [and] elimination of privileged rations for special 
categories of working men."</i> The workers also <i>"wanted the special 
guards of armed Bolsheviks, who carried out a purely police function, 
withdrawn from the factories"</i> and raised <i>"pleas for the restoration 
of political and civil rights."</i> One manifesto which appeared 
(unsigned but bore earmarks of Menshevik origin) argued that 
<i>"the workers and peasants need freedom. They do not want to live
by the decrees of the Bolsheviks. They want to control their own 
destinies."</i> It urged the strikers to demand the liberation of all 
arrested socialists and nonparty workers, abolition of martial law,
freedom of speech, press and assembly for all who labour, free 
elections of factory committees, trade unions, and soviets. 
[Avrich, <b>Kronstadt 1921</b>, pp. 42-3]
<p>
In the strikes of 1921, according to Lashevich (a Bolshevik 
Commissar) the <i>"basic demands are everywhere the same: free 
trade, free labour, freedom of movement, and so on."</i> Two 
key demands raised in the strikes dated back to at least 1920. 
These were <i>"for free trade and an end to privilege."</i> In March 
1919, <i>"the Rechkin coach-building plant demanded equal rations 
for all <b>workers</b>"</i> and that one of the <i>"most characteristic 
demands of the striking workers at that time were for the 
free bringing-in of food."</i> [Mary McAuley, <b>Bread and Justice</b>, 
p. 299 and p. 302] 
<p>
As can be seen, these demands related almost directly to points 
1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 13 of the Kronstadt demands. As 
Paul Avrich argues, the Kronstadt demands <i>"echoed the discontents 
not only of the Baltic Fleet but of the mass of Russians in towns 
and villages throughout the country. Themselves of plebeian stock,
the sailors wanted relief for their peasant and worker kinfolk. 
Indeed, of the resolution's 15 points, only one -- the abolition 
of the political departments in the fleet -- applied specifically 
to their own situation. The remainder . . . was a broadside aimed 
at the policies of War Communism, the justification of which, in 
the eyes of the sailors and of the population at large, had long 
since vanished."</i> Avrich argues that many of the sailors had
returned home on leave to see the plight of the villagers with 
their own eyes played at part in framing the resolution (particularly
of point 11, the <b>only</b> peasant specific demand raised) but <i>"[b]y 
the same token, the sailors' inspection tour of Petrograd's factories 
may account for their inclusion of the workingmen's chief demands -- 
the abolition of road-blocks, of privileged rations, and of armed 
factory squads -- in their program."</i> [Avrich, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, pp. 74-5]
Simply put, the Kronstadt resolution <i>"merely reiterated long
standing workers' demands."</i> [V. Brovkin, <b>Behind the Front
Lines of the Civil War</b>, p. 395]
<p>
Which means, of course, that Ida Mett had been correct to 
argue that the <i>"Kronstadt revolution had the merit of stating 
things openly and clearly. But it was breaking no new ground. 
Its main ideas were being discussed everywhere. For having, 
in one way or another, put forward precisely such ideas, 
workers and peasants were already filling the prisons and 
the recently set up concentration camps."</i> [<b>The Kronstadt 
Uprising</b>, p. 39]
<p>
Nor can it be claimed that these workers were non-proletarians
(as if class is determined by thought rather than social
position). Rather than being those workers with the closest
relations with the countryside who were protesting, the
opposite was the case. By 1921 <i>"[a]ll who had relatives in 
the country had rejoined them. The authentic proletariat 
remained till the end, having the most slender connections 
with the countryside."</i> [Ida Mett, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 36]
<p>
Thus the claims that the Kronstadt demands reflected peasant
needs is mistaken. They reflected the needs of the whole
working population, including the urban working class who
raised these demands continually throughout the Civil War
period in their strikes. Simply put, the policies of the
Bolsheviks as regards food were not only evil, they did
not work and were counter-productive. As many of the 
Russian working class recognised from the start and took 
strike action over again and again. 
<p>
Moreover, by focusing on the <i>"free trade"</i> issue, Leninists
distort the real reasons for the revolt. As Ida Mett points 
out, the Kronstadt rebellion did not call for <i>"free trade"</i> 
as the Trotskyists argue, but rather something far more
important: 
<p><blockquote>
<i>"In the Kronstadt Isvestia of March 14th we find a 
characteristic passage on this subject. The rebels 
proclaimed that 'Kronstadt is not asking for freedom 
of trade but for genuine power to the Soviets.' The 
Petrograd strikers were also demanding the reopening 
of the markets and the abolition of the road blocks 
set up by the militia. But they too were stating that
freedom of trade by itself would not solve their problems."</i>
[<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 77]
</blockquote><p>
Thus we have the Petrograd (and other) workers calling
for <i>"free trade"</i> (and so, presumably, expressing their
economic interests or those of their fathers and brothers)
while the Kronstadt sailors were demanding first and
foremost soviet power! Their programme called for the
<i>"granting to the peasants of freedom of action on
their own soil, and of the right to own cattle, 
provided they look after them themselves and do not
employ hired labour."</i> This was point 11 of the 15
demands, which showed the importance it ranked in
their eyes. This would have been the basis of trade
between town and village, but trade between worker
and peasant and not between worker and kulak. So rather 
than call for <i>"free trade"</i> in the abstract (as many 
of the workers were) the Kronstadters (while reflecting
the needs of both workers and peasants) were calling for the 
free exchange of products between workers, not workers and 
rural capitalists (i.e. peasants who hired wage slaves). 
This indicates a level of political awareness, an awareness 
of the fact that wage labour is the essence of capitalism. 
<p>
Thus Ante Ciliga:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"People often believe that Kronstadt forced the introduction 
of the New Economic Policy (NEP) -- a profound error. The 
Kronstadt resolution pronounced in favour of the defence of 
the workers, not only against the bureaucratic capitalism of 
the State, but also against the restoration of private 
capitalism. This restoration was demanded -- in opposition to
Kronstadt -- by the social democrats, who combined it with a 
regime of political democracy. And it was Lenin and Trotsky
who to a great extent realised it (but without political 
democracy) in the form of the NEP. The Kronstadt resolution 
declared for the opposite since it declared itself against 
the employment of wage labour in agriculture and small industry.
This resolution, and the movement underlying, sought for a 
revolutionary alliance of the proletarian and peasant workers 
with the poorest sections of the country labourers, in order 
that the revolution might develop towards socialism. The NEP, 
on the other hand, was a union of bureaucrats with the upper 
layers of the village against the proletariat; it was the 
alliance of State capitalism and private capitalism against 
socialism. The NEP is as much opposed to the Kronstadt demands 
as, for example, the revolutionary socialist programme of the 
vanguard of the European workers for the abolition of the 
Versailles system, is opposed to the abrogation of the
Treaty of Versailles achieved by Hitler."</i> 
[<b>Op. Cit.</b>, pp. 334-5]
</blockquote><p>
Point 11 did, as Ida Mett noted, <i>"reflected the demands of the 
peasants to whom the Kronstadt sailors had remained linked -- 
as had, as a matter of fact, the whole of the Russian proletariat 
. . . In their great majority, the Russian workers came directly 
from the peasantry. This must be stressed. The Baltic sailors
of 1921 were, it is true, closely linked with the peasantry. 
But neither more nor less than had been the sailors of 1917."</i> 
To ignore the peasantry in a country in which the vast majority 
were peasants would have been insane (as the Bolsheviks proved).
Mett stresses this when she argued that a <i>"workers and peasants' 
regime that did not wish to base itself exclusively on lies and 
terror, had to take account of the peasantry."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 40]
<p>
Given that the Russian industrial working class were also 
calling for free trade (and often without the political,
anti-capitalist, riders Kronstadt added) it seems dishonest 
to claim that the sailors purely expressed the interests of 
the peasantry. Perhaps this explains why point 11 becomes 
summarised as <i>"restoration of free trade"</i> by Trotskyists. 
[<i>"Editorial Preface"</i>, Lenin and Trotsky, <b>Kronstadt</b>, p. 6] 
John Rees does not even mention any of the demands (which 
is amazing in a work which, in part, tries to analyse the 
rebellion).
<p>
Similarly, the working class nature of the resolution
can be seen from who agreed to it. The resolution passed 
by the sailors on the battleships was ratified by a mass 
meeting and then a delegate meeting of workers, soldiers 
and sailors. In other words, by workers <b>and</b> peasants.
<p>
J.G. Wright, following his guru Trotsky without question 
(and using him as the sole reference for his "facts"), 
stated that <i>"the incontestable facts"</i> were the <i>"sailors 
composed the bulk of the insurgent forces"</i> and <i>"the 
garrison and the civil population remained passive."</i> 
[Lenin and Trotsky, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 123] This, apparently, 
is evidence of the peasant nature of the revolt. Let us 
contest these <i>"incontestable facts"</i> (i.e. assertions by 
Trotsky).
<p>
The first fact we should mention is that the meeting of 1st 
March in Anchor Square involved <i>"some fifteen to sixteen 
thousand sailors, soldiers and civilians."</i> [Getzler, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, 
p. 215] This represented over 30% of Kronstadt's total population. 
This hardly points to a "passive" attitude on behalf of the
civilians and soldiers. 
<p>
The second fact is that the conference of delegates had a 
<i>"membership that fluctuated between which two and three 
hundred sailors, soldiers, and working men."</i> This body 
remained in existence during the whole revolt as the 
equivalent of the 1917 soviet and, like that soviet, had 
delegates from Kronstadt's <i>"factories and military units."</i> It 
was, in effect, a <i>"prototype of the 'free soviets' for which 
the insurgents had risen in revolt."</i> In addition, a new Trade 
Union Council was created, free from Communist domination. 
[Avrich, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 159 and p. 157] Trotsky expects us to 
believe  that the soldiers and civilians who elected these
delegates were "passive"? The very act of electing these 
delegates would have involved discussion and decision making 
and so active participation. It is extremely doubtful that 
the soldiers and civilians would have so apathetic and apolitical
to not have taken an active part in the revolt. 
<p>
Thirdly, the declarations by sailors, soldiers and workers 
printed in <b><i>Izvestiia</i></b> which expressed their support for 
the revolt and those which announced they had left the 
Communist Party also present evidence which clearly 
contests Trotsky's and Wright's <i>"incontestable facts."</i>
One declaration of the <i>"soldiers of the Red Army from the fort
Krasnoarmeietz"</i> stated they were <i>"body and soul with the
Revolutionary Committee."</i> [quoted by Voline, <b>The Unknown
Revolution</b>, p. 500] 
<p>
Lastly, given that the Red Army troops manned the main bastion 
and the outlying forts and gun emplacements at Kronstadt and 
that the Bolshevik troops had to take these forts by force, 
we can safely argue that the Red Army soldiers did not play 
a "passive" role during the rebellion. [Paul Avrich, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, 
p. 54 and pp. 205-6]
<p>
This is confirmed by later historians. Based on such facts, Paul 
Avrich states that the townspeople <i>"offered their active support"</i> 
and the Red Army troops <i>"soon fell into line."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 159] 
Getzler notes that elections were held for the Council of Trade 
Unions on the 7th and 8th of March and this was a <i>"Council
committee consisting of representatives from all trade unions."</i> 
He also notes that the Conference of Delegates <i>"had been elected 
by Kronstadt's body politic at their places of work, in army units, 
factories, workshops and Soviet institutions."</i> He adds that the 
revolutionary troikas (the equivalent of the commissions of the 
Executive Committee of the Soviet in 1917) were also <i>"elected by 
the base organisations."</i> Likewise, <i>"the secretariats of the trade 
unions and the newly founded Council of Trade Unions were both
elected by the entire membership of trade unions."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, 
pp. 238-9 and p. 240] 
<p>
That is a lot of activity for "passive" people.
<p>
In other words, the <b><i>Petropavlovsk</i></b> resolution not only reflected 
the demands of proletarians in Petrograd, it gained the support of
proletarians in Kronstadt in the fleet, the army and the civilian 
workforce. Thus the claim that the Kronstadt resolution purely
reflected the interests of the peasantry is, yet again, refuted.
<p>
As can be seen, the Kronstadters' (like the Petrograd workers) 
raised economic and political demands in 1921 just as they had 
four years earlier when they overthrew the Tsar. Which, again, 
refutes the logic of defenders of Bolshevism. For example, Wright 
excelled himself when he argued the following:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"The supposition that the soldiers and sailors could
venture upon an insurrection under an abstract political
slogan of 'free soviets' is absurd in itself. It is
doubly absurd in the view of the fact [!] that the
rest of the Kronstadt garrison consisted of backward
and passive people who could not be used in the civil
war. These people could have been moved to an insurrection
only by profound economic needs and interests. These
were the needs and interests of the fathers and brothers
of these sailors and soldiers, that is, of peasants as
traders in food products and raw materials. In other
words the mutiny was the expression of the petty
bourgeoisie's reaction against the difficulties
and privations imposed by the proletarian revolution.
Nobody can deny this class character of the two
camps."</i> [Lenin and Trotsky,  <b>Op. Cit.</b>, pp. 111-2]
</blockquote><p>
Of course, no worker or peasant could possibly reach
beyond a trade union consciousness by their own efforts, 
as Lenin so thoughtfully argued in <b>What is to be Done?</b>.
Neither could the experience of two revolutions have
an impact on anyone, nor the extensive political
agitation and propaganda of years of struggle. Indeed, 
the sailors were so backward that they had no <i>"profound 
economic needs and interests"</i> of their own but rather 
fought for their fathers and brothers interests! Indeed, 
according to Trotsky they did not even understand that 
(<i>"They themselves did not clearly understand that what 
their fathers and brothers needed first of all was free 
trade."</i> [Lenin and Trotsky, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 92])! And these 
were the sailors the Bolsheviks desired to man some of 
the most advanced warships in the world?
<p>
Sadly for Wright's assertions history has proven him
wrong time and time again. Working people have constantly
raised political demands which were far in advance of
those of the "professional" revolutionaries (a certain 
German and the Paris Commune springs to mind, never mind 
a certain Russian and the soviets). The fact that the
Kronstadt sailors not only <i>"venture[d] upon an insurrection 
under an abstract political slogan of 'free soviets'"</i>
but actually <b>created</b> one (the conference of delegates)
goes unmentioned. Moreover, as we prove in 
<a href="secH5.html#sech58">section H.5.8</a>,
the majority of sailors in 1921 had been there in 
1917. This was due to the fact that the sailors could 
not be quickly or easily replaced due to the technology 
required to operate Kronstadt's defences and battleships.
<p>
Given that the <i>"a smaller proportion of the Kronstadt
sailors were of peasant origin than was the case of
the Red Army troops supporting the government,"</i> perhaps
we will discover Trotskyists arguing that because 
<i>"ordinary Red Army soldiers . . . were reluctant and
unreliable fighters against Red Kronstadt, although
driven at gunpoint onto the ice and into battle"</i> that
also proves the peasant nature of the revolt? [Sam
Farber, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 192; Israel Getzler, <b>Kronstadt
1917-1921</b>, p. 243] Given the quality of the previous
arguments presented, it is only a matter of time before
this one appears!
<p>
Indeed, Trotskyists also note this non-peasant nature of the
Kronstadt demands (as indicated in the 
<a href="secH5.html#sech53">last section</a>). Thus
was have John Rees pathetically noting that <i>"no other
peasant insurrection reproduced the Kronstadters' demands."</i>
[Rees, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 63] As we have indicated above, <b>proletarian</b> 
strikes, resolutions and activists all produced demands similar
or identical to the Kronstadt demands. These facts, in
themselves, indicate the truth of Trotskyist assertions
on this matter. Rees mentions the strikes in passing,
but fails to indicate that Kronstadt's demands were raised
after a delegation of sailors had returned from visiting
Petrograd. Rather than their <i>"motivation"</i> being <i>"much
closer to that of the peasantry"</i> that to the <i>"dissatisfaction
of the urban working class"</i> the facts suggest the opposite
(as can be seen from the demands raised). [Rees, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 61] 
The motivation for the resolution was a product of the strikes 
in Petrograd and it also, naturally enough, included the 
dissatisfaction of the peasantry (in point 11). For the 
Kronstadters, it was a case of the needs of <b>all</b> the 
toilers and so their resolution reflected the needs 
and demands of both.
<p>
Therefore to claim that Kronstadt solely reflected the
plight or interests of the peasantry is nonsense. Nor
were the <b>economic</b> demands of Kronstadt alarming to
the Bolshevik authories. After all, Zinovioev was about
to grant the removal of the roadblock detachments
(point 8) and the government was drafting what was
to become known as the New Economic Policy (NEP) which 
would satisfy point 11 partially (the NEP, unlike the
Kronstadters, did not end wage labour and so, ironically,
represented the interests of the Kulaks!). It was the
<b>political</b> demands which were the problem. They
represented a clear challenge to Bolshevik power and
their claims at being the <i>"soviet power."</i>
<p>
<a name="sech55"><H2>H.5.5 What lies did the Bolsheviks spread about Kronstadt?</H2>
<p>
From the start, the Bolsheviks lied about the uprising.
Indeed, Kronstadt provides a classic example of how Lenin 
and Trotsky used slander against their political opponents. 
Both attempted to paint the revolt as being organised and 
lead by the Whites. At every stage in the rebellion, they
stressed that it had been organised and run by White
guard elements. As Paul Avrich notes, <i>"every effort was
made to discredit the rebels"</i> and that the <i>"chief 
object of Bolshevik propaganda was to show that the
revolt was not a spontaneous outbreak of mass protest
but a new counterrevolutionary conspiracy, following
the pattern established during the Civil War. According
to the Soviet press, the sailors, influenced by 
Mensheviks and SR's in their ranks, had shamelessly
cast their lot with the 'White Guards,' led by a
former tsarist general named Kozlovksy . . . This,
in turn, was said to be part of a carefully laid
plot hatched in Paris by Russian emigres in league
with French counterintelligence."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 88
and p. 95] 
<p>
Lenin, for example, argued in a report to the Tenth
Congress of the Communist Party on March 8th that 
<i>"White Guard generals were very active over there.
There is ample proof of this"</i> and that it was <i>"the
work of Social Revolutionaries and White Guard
emigres."</i> [Lenin and Trotsky, <b>Kronstadt</b>, p. 44] 
<p>
The first government statement on the Kronstadt events 
was entitled <i>"The Revolt of Ex-General Kozlovsky and the 
Warship Petropavlovsk"</i> and read, in part, that the revolt
was <i>"expected by, and undoubtedly prepared by, French 
counterintelligence."</i> It continues by stating that
on the morning of March 2 <i>"the group around ex-General 
Kozlovsky . . . had openly appeared on the scene . . . 
[he] and three of his officers . . . have openly assumed 
the role of insurgents. Under their direction . . . a 
number  of . . . responsible individuals, have been 
arrested. . . Behind the SRs again stands a tsarist 
general."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, pp. 65-6]
<p>
Victor Serge, a French anarchist turned Bolshevik,
remembered that he was first told that <i>"Kronstadt
is in the hands of the Whites"</i> and that <i>"[s]mall
posters stuck on the walls in the still empty
streets proclaimed that the counter-revolutionary
General Kozlovsky had seized Kronstadt through
conspiracy and treason."</i> Later the <i>"truth seeped
through little by little, past the smokescreen
put out by the Press, which was positively berserk
with lies"</i> (indeed, he states that the Bolshevik
press <i>"lied systematically"</i>). He found out that 
the Bolshevik's official line was <i>"an atrocious 
lie"</i> and that <i>"the sailors had mutinied, it was 
a naval revolt led by the Soviet."</i> However, the
<i>"worse of it all was that we were paralysed by
the official falsehoods. It had never happened
before that our Party should lie to us like this.
'It's necessary for the benefit of the public,'
said some . . . the strike [in Petrograd] was
now practically general"</i> (we should note that
Serge, a few pages previously, mentions <i>"the 
strenuous calumnies put out by the Communist Press"</i> 
about Nestor Makhno, <i>"which went so far as to accuse 
him of signing pacts with the Whites at the very moment 
when he was engaged in a life-and-death struggle 
against them"</i> which suggests that Kronstadt was
hardly the first time the Party had lied to them). 
[<b>Memoirs of a Revolutionary</b>, pp. 124-6 and p. 122]
<p>
Even Isaac Deutscher, Trotsky's biographer said that 
the Bolsheviks <i>"denounced the men of Kronstadt as 
counter-revolutionary mutineers, led by a White 
general. The denunciation appears to have been 
groundless."</i> [<b>The Prophet Armed</b>, p. 511]
<p>
Thus the claim that the Kronstadt rebellion was the 
work of Whites and led by a White/Tzarist General
was a lie -- a lie deliberately and consciously
spread. This was concocted to weaken support for 
the rebellion in Petrograd and in the Red Army,
to ensure that it did not spread. Lenin admitted
as much on the 15th of March when he stated at the
Tenth Party Conference that in Kronstadt <i>"they did
not want the White Guards, and they do not want our
power either."</i> [quoted by Avrich, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 129]
<p>
If you agree with Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci that 
<i>"to tell the truth is a communist and revolutionary act"</i> 
then its clear that the Bolsheviks in 1921 (and for a 
long time previously) were not communist or revolutionary
(and as the subsequent Leninist accounts of Kronstadt show,
Bolshevism is still neither). In stark contrast to the
Bolsheviks, the Kronstadt paper <b><i>Izvestiia</i></b> published
Bolshevik leaflets, paper articles and radio broadcasts
so that the inhabitants of the island could see exactly
what lies the Bolsheviks were telling about them.
<p>
The Trotskyist editors of <b>Kronstadt</b> show the same
contempt for their readers as the Bolsheviks showed
for the truth. They include an <i>"Introduction"</i> to their
work by Pierre Frank in which he argues that the Bolsheviks 
merely <i>"state that [White] generals, counterrevolutionaries,
sought to manipulate the insurgents"</i> and that anarchists
<i>"turn this into a claim that these generals had
launched the rebellion and that 'Lenin, Trotsky and
the whole Party leadership knew quite well that this 
was no mere 'generals' revolt.'"</i> [quoting Ida Mett] This 
apparently shows how <i>"[a]nything having to do with the 
facts"</i> gets treated by such authors. He states that
Mett and others <i>"merely distort the Bolsheviks' positions."</i>
[Lenin and Trotsky, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 22] 
<p>
This is argued in the same work that quotes Lenin actually 
stating on March 8th, 1921, that <i>"the familiar figures of 
White Guard generals"</i> were <i>"very quickly revealed,"</i> that 
<i>"White generals were very active"</i> there, that it was <i>"quite 
clear that it is the work of Social Revolutionaries and White
Guard emigres"</i> and that Kronstadt was <i>"bound up initially"</i> 
with <i>"the White Guards."</i> Lenin is also quoted, on March 9th, 
arguing that <i>"the Paris newspapers reported the events two
weeks before they actually occurred, and a White general
appeared on the scene. That is what actually happened."</i> 
[<b>Op. Cit.</b>, pp. 44-5 and p. 48] This is stated in spite of 
presenting the government statement we have quoted above in 
which the Bolshevik government clearly argued that two 
Communist leaders had been arrested under Kozlovsky's 
<i>"direction"</i> and he <i>"stands"</i> behind the right-SRs whose 
agitation had started the revolt (according to the
Bolsheviks).
<p>
Nor can it be said that Ida Mett claims that the Lenin
and Trotsky had said a general had <i>"launched"</i> the revolt.
She quotes Moscow radio as stating that the revolt (<i>"Just 
like other White Guard insurrections"</i>) was in fact <i>"the 
mutiny of ex-General Kozlovsky and the crew of the battle 
ship 'Petropavlovsk'"</i> had been organised by Entene spies, 
while Socialist Revolutionaries had <i>"prepared"</i> the ground 
and that their real master was a <i>"Tsarist general"</i> on the 
page <b>before</b> that quoted by Frank, so indicating who the 
Bolsheviks did claim had launched the revolt. [Mett, 
<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 43] It seems strange that Frank complains 
that others <i>"distort"</i> the Bolsheviks position when, 
firstly, the person he quotes does not and, secondly, 
he distorts that persons' actual position. 
<p>
Mett simply acknowledging the Bolshevik lies spewed
out at the time. Then she said that <i>"Lenin, Trotsky and
the whole Party leadership knew quite well that this 
was no mere 'generals' revolt."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 43] She
<b>then</b> turns to General Kozlovsky whom the Bolsheviks
indicated by name as the leader of the revolt and had
outlawed in the statement of March 2nd quoted above.
Who was he and what part did he play? Mett sums up
the evidence:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"He was an artillery general, and had been one of the 
first to defect to the Bolsheviks. He seemed devoid of 
any capacity as a leader. At the time of the insurrection 
he happened to be in command of the artillery at Kronstadt. 
The communist commander of the fortress had defected. Kozlovsky, 
according to the rules prevailing in the fortress, had to 
replace him. He, in fact, refused, claiming that as the 
fortress was now under the jurisdiction of the Provisional
Revolutionary Committee, the old rules no longer applied. 
Kozlovsky remained, it is true, in Kronstadt, but only as 
an artillery specialist. Moreover, after the fall of 
Kronstadt, in certain interviews granted to the Finnish 
press, Kozlovsky accused the sailors of having wasted
precious time on issues other than the defence of the 
fortress. He explained this in terms of their reluctance 
to resort to bloodshed. Later, other officers of the 
garrison were also to accuse the sailors of military 
incompetence, and of complete lack of confidence in 
their technical advisers. Kozlovsky was the only general 
to have been present at Kronstadt. This was enough for the 
Government to make use of his name.
<p>
"The men of Kronstadt did, up to a point, make use of the 
military know how of certain officers in the fortress at 
the time. Some of these officers may have given the men 
advice out of sheer hostility to the Bolsheviks. But in 
their attack on Kronstadt, the Government forces were also
making use of ex Tsarist officers. On the one side there 
were Kozlovsky, Salomianov, and Arkannihov; On the other, 
ex-Tsarist officers and specialists of the old regime, such 
as Toukhatchevsky. Kamenev, and Avrov. On neither side 
were these officers an independent force."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 44]
</blockquote><p>
Not that this is good enough for Trotskyists. Wright,
for example, will have none of it. He quotes Alexander 
Berkman's statement that there was <i>"a former general, 
Kozlovsky, in Kronstadt. It was Trotsky who had placed 
him there as an Artillery specialist. He played no role 
whatever in the Kronstadt events."</i> [<b>The Russian Tragedy</b>,
p. 69]
<p>
Wright protests that this is not true and, as evidence, 
quotes from an interview by Kozlovsky and states that 
<i>"[f]rom the lips of the counterrevolutionary general 
himself . . . we get the unambiguous declaration that 
<b>from the very first day</b>, he and his colleagues had 
openly associated themselves with the mutiny, had 
elaborated the 'best' plans to capture Petrograd . . . 
If the plan failed it was only because Kozlovsky and 
his colleagues were unable to convince the 'political 
leaders', i.e. his SR allies [!], that the moment was 
propitious for exposing their true visage and program."</i> 
[Lenin and Trotsky, <b>Kronstadt</b>, p. 119] 
<p>
In other words, because the Provisional Revolutionary 
Committee <b>failed</b> to take the advice of the military 
specialists it proves that, in fact, they were in 
league! That is very impressive. We wonder if the 
Kronstadters <b>had</b> taken their advice then this would 
have proved that they were not, in fact, in league 
with them after all? Similarly, by failing to take 
over the command of the fortress Kozlovsky <b>must</b> have 
shown how he was leading the revolt as the Bolshevik 
radio said!
<p>
Every non-Leninist account agrees that Kozlovsky played
no part in the revolt. Paul Avrich notes that when trouble 
erupted <i>"the Bolsheviks at once denounced him as the evil 
genius of the movement,"</i> <i>"outlawed"</i> him and seized his 
family as hostages. He confirms that the military 
specialists <i>"threw themselves into the task of planning 
military operations on behalf of the insurrection"</i> and 
that Kozlovsky had refused to succeed as the commander 
of the fortress after the old one had fled to the 
mainland (as demanded by military rules). He stresses 
that <i>"the officers remained in a purely advisory capacity 
throughout the rebellion. They had no share, as far as 
one can tell, in initiating or directing the revolt, or 
in framing its political program, which was alien to their 
way of thinking."</i> Their role <i>"was confined to providing 
technical advice, just as it had been under the Bolsheviks."</i> 
The Provisional Revolutionary Committee <i>"showed its distrust 
of the specialists by repeatedly rejecting their counsel,
however sound and appropriate it might be."</i> And, of course, 
we should mention that <i>"[f]or all the government's accusations 
that Kronstadt was a conspiracy of White Guard generals, 
ex-tsarist officers played a much more prominent role in 
the attacking force than among the defenders."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, 
p. 99, p. 100, p. 101 and p. 203]
<p>
Indeed, Kozlovsky <i>"had served the Bolsheviks so loyally
that on 20 October 1920 the chief commander of the Baltic
Fleet . . . had awarded him a watch 'for courage and feat
of arms in the battle against Yudenich'"</i> [I. Getzler,
<b>Kronstadt 1917-1921</b>, p. 219]
<p>
Berkman was clearly correct. Kozlovsky took no role in the 
revolt. What he did do was offer his expertise to the 
Kronstadt rebels (just as he had to the Bolsheviks) and 
make plans which were rejected. If associating yourself with 
an event and making plans which are rejected by those involved 
equals a role in that event then Trotsky's role in the Spanish
revolution equalled that of Durruti's! 
<p>
As the obvious falseness of these claims became more
and more well-known, Trotsky and his followers turned
to other arguments to slander the uprising. The most
famous is the assertion that the <i>"Kronstadt sailors
were quite a different group from the revolutionary
heroes of 1917."</i> [Wright, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 129] We turn
to this question in the 
<a href="secH5.html#sech58">section H.5.8</a> and indicate
that research as refuted it (and how Trotskyists
have misused this research to present a drastically
false picture of the facts). However, first we must
discuss whether the Kronstadt revolt was, in fact, 
a White conspiracy (the 
<a href="secH5.html#sech56">next section</a>) and its real
relationship to the Whites 
(<a href="secH5.html#sech57">section H.5.7</a>).
<p>
<a name="sech56"><H2>H.5.6 Was the Kronstadt revolt a White plot?</H2>
<p>
At the time, the Bosheviks portrayed the Kronstadt revolt as
a White plot, organised by the counter-revolution (see 
<a href="secH5.html#sech55">last
section</a> for full details). In particular, they portrayed
the revolt as a conspiracy, directed by foreign spies and
executed by their SR and White Guardist allies.
<p>
For example, Lenin argued on March 8th that <i>"White Guard 
generals were very active"</i> at Kronstadt. <i>"There is ample 
proof of this. Two weeks before the Kronstadt events, 
the Paris newspapers reported a mutiny at Kronstadt. It 
is quite clear that it is the work of Social Revolutionaries
and White Guard emigres."</i> [Lenin and Trotsky, <b>Kronstadt</b>, 
p. 44] 
<p>
Trotsky, on March 16th, made the same point, arguing that 
<i>"in a number of foreign newspapers . . . news of an uprising
in Kronstadt appeared as far back as the middle of
February . . . How [to] explain this? Very simply . . . The 
Russian counterrevolutionary organisers promised to stage 
a mutiny at a propitious moment, while the impatient 
yellow and financial press write about it as an already 
accomplished fact."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 68] 
<p>
This appears to be the greatest "evidence" for Lenin and 
Trotsky as regards the White-Guardist nature of the revolt. 
Indeed, Trotsky on the <i>"basis of the dispatch . . . sent a 
warning to Petrograd to my naval colleagues."</i> [<b>Ibid.</b>]
<p>
However, to see the truth of these claims it is simply a
case of looking at how the Bolsheviks reacted to this
announcement of an uprising in Kronstadt. They did 
nothing. As the Trotskyist editors of a book justifying 
the repression note, the <i>"Red Army command was caught
unprepared by the rebellion."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 6] J.G.
Wright, in his defence of Trotsky's position (a defence 
recommended by Trotsky himself), acknowledged that the 
<i>"Red Army command"</i> was <i>"[c]aught off guard by the 
mutiny."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 123] This clearly shows how 
little weight the newspaper reports were held <b>before</b> 
the rebellion. Of course, <b>during</b> and <b>after</b> the 
rebellion was a different matter and they quickly became 
a focal point for Bolshevik smears.
<p>
Moreover, as proof of a White plot, this evidence is
pathetic. As Ida Mett argued out, the <i>"publication of 
false news about Russia was nothing exceptional. Such 
news was published before, during and after the Kronstadt 
events. . . To base an accusation on a 'proof' of this 
kind is inadmissible and immoral."</i> [Mett, <b>The Kronstadt
Uprising</b>, p. 76] 
<p>
Even Trotsky admitted that <i>"the imperialist press . . . prints
. . . a great number of fictitious reports about Russia"</i> but
maintained that the reports on Kronstadt were examples of
<i>"forecasts"</i> of <i>"attempts at overturns in specific centres
of Soviet Russia"</i> (indeed, the <i>"journalistic agents of
imperialism only 'forecast' that which is entrusted for
execution to other agents of this very imperialism."</i>).
Lenin also noted, in an article entitled <i>"The Campaign of 
Lies"</i>, that <i>"the West European press [had] indulged in such 
an orgy of lies or engaged in the mass production of fantastic 
inventions about Soviet Russia in the last two weeks"</i> and 
listed some of them (such as <i>"Petrograd and Moscow are in 
the hands of the insurgents"</i>). [Lenin and Trotsky, <b>Kronstadt</b>, 
p. 69, p. 50 and p. 51] 
<p>
Yet this same press can be used as evidence for a White 
conspiracy in Kronstadt? Unsurprisingly, as Mett notes, 
<i>"[i]n 1938 Trotsky himself was to drop this accusation."</i> 
[Mett, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 76] Little wonder, given its pathetic 
nature -- although this does not stop his loyal follower John G. 
Wright from asserting these reports are the <i>"irrefutable 
facts"</i> of the <i>"connection between the counterrevolution and 
Kronstadt."</i> [Lenin and Trotsky, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 115] The question 
of <b>why</b> the counterrevolutionary plotters would given their 
enemies advance notice of their plans never crossed his mind.

<p>
As can be seen, at the time <b>no</b> evidence was forthcoming 
that the Whites organised or took part in the revolt. As 
Ida Mett argues:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"If, at the time the Bolshevik Government had proofs of 
these alleged contacts between Kronstadt and the 
counter-revolutionaries why did it not try the rebels 
publicly? Why did it not show the working masses of 
Russia the 'real' reasons for the uprising? If this wasn't 
done it was because no such proofs existed."</i> [Mett, <b>Op. Cit.</b>,
p. 77]
</blockquote><p>
Decades later historian Paul Avrich <b>did</b> discover an 
unsigned hand written manuscript labelled <i>"Top Secret"</i> 
and entitled <i>"Memorandum on the Question of Organising an 
Uprising in Kronstadt."</i> Trotskyist Pierre Frank considered
it <i>"so convincing"</i> that he <i>"reproduced it in its entirety"</i>
to prove a White Conspiracy existed behind the Kronstadt
revolt. Indeed, he considers it as an <i>"indisputable"</i>
revelation and that Lenin and Trotsky <i>"were not mistaken
in their analysis of Kronstadt."</i> [Lenin and Trotsky,
<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 26 and p. 32] 
<p>
However, reading the document quickly shows that
Kronstadt was not a product of a White conspiracy but
rather that the White <i>"National Centre"</i> aimed to try and
use a spontaneous <i>"uprising"</i> it thought was likely to
<i>"erupt there in the coming spring"</i> for its own ends. 
The report notes that <i>"among the sailors, numerous and
unmistakable signs of mass dissatisfaction with the
existing order can be noticed."</i> Indeed, the <i>"Memorandum"</i> 
states that <i>"one must not forget that even of the French 
Command and the Russian anti-Bolshevik organisations do 
not take part in the preparation and direction of the 
uprising, a revolt in Kronstadt will take place all the 
same during the coming spring, but after a brief period
of success it will be doomed to failure."</i> [quoted by
Avrich, <b>Kronstadt 1921</b>, p. 235 and p. 240] 
<p>
As Avrich notes, an <i>"underlying assumption of the Memorandum 
is that the revolt would not occur until after the springtime 
thaw, when the ice had melted and Kronstadt was immune from an 
invasion from the mainland."</i> [<b>Kronstadt 1921</b>, pp. 106-7]
Voline stated the obvious when he argued that the revolt 
<i>"broke out spontaneously"</i> for if it <i>"had been the result 
of a plan conceived and prepared in advance, it would 
certainly not have occurred at the beginning of March, the 
least favourable time. A few weeks later, and Kronstadt, 
freed of ice, would have become an almost impregnable fortress 
. . . The greatest opportunity of Bolshevik government was
precisely the spontaneity of the movement and the absence of 
any premeditation, of any calculation, in the action of the 
sailors."</i> [<b>The Unknown Revolution</b>, p. 487] As can be seen, 
the <i>"Memorandum"</i> also recognised this need for the ice to 
thaw and it was the basic assumption behind it. In other 
words, the revolt <b>was</b> spontaneous and actually undercut 
the assumptions behind the <i>"Memorandum."</i> 
<p>
Avrich rejects the idea that the <i>"Memorandum"</i> explains 
the revolt:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Nothing has come to light to show that the Secret
Memorandum was ever put into practice or that any
links had existed between the emigres and the sailors
before the revolt. On the contrary, the rising bore
the earmarks of spontaneity . . .  there was little
in the behaviour of the rebels to suggest any careful
advance preparation. Had there been a prearranged
plan, surely the sailors would have waited a few
weeks longer for the ice to melt . . . The rebels,
moreover, allowed Kalinin [a leading Communist] to
return to Petrograd, though he would have made a
valuable hostage. Further, no attempt was made to
take the offensive . . . Significant too, is the
large number of Communists who took part in the 
movement. . .
<p>
"The Sailors needed no outside encouragement to raise 
the banner of insurrection. . . Kronstadt was clearly 
ripe for a rebellion. What set it off were not the 
machinations of emigre conspirators and foreign 
intelligence agents but the wave of peasant risings 
throughout the country and the labour disturbances in
neighbouring Petorgrad. And as the revolt unfolded, it 
followed the pattern of earlier outbursts against the 
central government from 1905 through the Civil War."</i> 
[<b>Op. Cit.</b>, pp. 111-2]
</blockquote><p>
He explicitly argues that while the National Centre 
had <i>"anticipated"</i> the revolt and <i>"laid plans to help 
organise it,"</i> they had <i>"no time to put these plans 
into effect."</i> The <i>"eruption occurred too soon, several 
weeks before the basic conditions of the plot . . . could 
be fulfilled."</i> It <i>"is not true,"</i> he stresses, <i>"that the 
emigres had engineering the rebellion."</i> The revolt was 
<i>"a spontaneous and self-contained movement from beginning 
to end."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, pp. 126-7]
<p>
Moreover, whether the Memorandum played a part in the revolt 
can be seen from the reactions of the White <i>"National Centre"</i> 
to the uprising. Firstly, they failed to deliver aid to the rebels 
nor get French aid to them. Secondly, Professor Grimm, the chief 
agent of the National Centre in Helsingfors and General Wrangel's 
official representative in Finland, stated to a colleague after 
the revolt had been crushed that if a new outbreak should occur 
then their group must not be caught unawares again. Avrich also 
notes that the revolt <i>"caught the emigres off balance"</i> and that
<i>"[n]othing . . . had been done to implement the Secret Memorandum, 
and the warnings of the author were fully borne out."</i> [Paul Avrich, 
<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 212 and p. 123]
<p>
If Kronstadt was a White conspiracy then how could the organisation 
of the conspiracy have been caught unawares?
<p>
Clearly, the attempts of certain later-day Trotskyists
to justify and prove their heroes slanders against
Kronstadt are pathetic. No evidence of a White-Guardist
plot existed until 1970 when Paul Avrich produced
his study of the revolt and the single document in
question clearly does not support the claim that the 
Whites organised the revolt. Rather, the Whites aimed 
to use a sailors "uprising" to further their cause, an 
"uprising" which they predicted would occur in the spring 
(with or without them). The predicted revolt <b>did</b> take 
place, but earlier than expected and was not a product of 
a conspiracy. Indeed, the historian who discovered 
this document explicitly argues that it proves nothing 
and that the revolt was spontaneous in nature.
<p>
Therefore, the claim that Kronstadt was a White plot
cannot be defended with anything but assertions. No
evidence exists to back up such claims.
<p>
<a name="sech57"><H2>H.5.7 What was the <b>real</b> relationship of Kronstadt 
to the Whites?</H2>
<p>
As we proved in the 
<a href="secH5.html#sech56">last section</a>, the Kronstadt revolt
was not a White conspiracy. It was a popular revolt
from below. However, some Trotskyists still try and
smear the revolt by arguing that it was, in fact,
really or "objectively" pro-White. We turn to this
question now.
<p>
We must first stress that the Kronstadters' rejected
every offer of help from the National Centre and other
obviously pro-White group (they did accept help towards
the end of the rebellion from the Russian Red Cross when 
the food situation had become critical). Historian Israel 
Getzler stressed that <i>"the Kronstadters were extremely 
resentful of all gestures of sympathy and promises of help 
coming from the White-Guardist emigres."</i> He quotes a Red 
Cross visitor who stated that Kronstadt <i>"will admit no White 
political party, no politician, with the exception of the 
Red Cross."</i> [Getzler, <b>Kronstadt 1917-1921</b>, p. 235]
<p>
Avrich notes that the Kronstadter's <i>"passionately 
hated"</i> the Whites and that <i>"both during and afterwards
in exile"</i> they <i>"indignantly rejected all government
accusations of collaboration with counterrevolutionary
groups either at home or abroad."</i> As the Communists 
themselves acknowledged, no outside aid ever reached 
the insurgents. [Avrich, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 187, p. 112 and 
p. 123]
<p>
In other words, there was no relationship between the revolt 
and the Whites.
<p>
Needless to say, the Whites <b>were</b> extremely happy that
Kronstadt revolted. There is no denying that. However,
it would be weak politics indeed that based itself on
the reactions of reactionaries to evaluate social 
struggles. If we did then we would have to conclude
that the overthrow of Stalinism in 1989 was nothing
more than a counter-revolution rather than a popular
revolt against a specific form of capitalism (namely
state capitalism). Indeed, many orthodox Trotskyists
took this position (and supported the attempted coup
organised by a section of the Stalinist bureaucracy
to re-impose its dictatorship). 
<p>
Indeed, the Kronstadters themselves acknowledged that
the Whites were happy to support their actions (indeed,
<b>any</b> actions against the Bolsheviks) but that this
joy was for different reasons than theirs:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"The . . . Kronstadt sailors and workers have wrested
the tiller from the Communists' hands and have taken
over the helm . . . Comrades, keep a close eye upon
the vicinity of the tiller: enemies are even now 
trying to creep closer. A single lapse and they will
wrest the tiller from you, and the soviet ship may
go down to the triumphant laughter from tsarist
lackeys and henchmen of the bourgeoisie.
<p>
"Comrades, right now you are rejoicing in the great,
peaceful victory over the Communists' dictatorship.
Now, your enemies are celebrating too.
<p>
"Your grounds for such joy, and theirs, are quite
contradictory.
<p>
"You are driven by a burning desire to restore the
authentic power of the soviets, by a noble hope of
seeing the worker engage in free labour and the
peasant enjoy the right to dispose, on his land,
of the produce of his labours. <b>They</b> dream of
bringing back the tsarist knout and the privileges
of the generals.
<p>
"Your interests are different. They are not fellow
travellers with you.
<p>
"You needed to get rid of the Communists' power over
you in order to set about creative work and peaceable
construction. Whereas they want to overthrow that
power to make the workers and peasants their slaves
again.
<p>
"You are in search of freedom. They want to shackle
you as it suits them. Be vigilant! Don't let the
wolves in sheep's clothing get near the tiller."</i>
[<b>No Gods, No Masters</b>, vol. 2, pp. 187-8]
</blockquote><p>
Of course, this is not enough for the followers of
Lenin and Trotsky. John Rees, for example, quotes 
Paul Avrich to support his assertion that the 
Kronstadt revolt was, in fact, pro-White. He argues 
as follows:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Paul Avrich . . . says there is 'undeniable evidence'
that the leadership of the rebellion came to an 
agreement with the Whites after they had been crushed
and that 'one cannot rule out the possibility that this
was the continuation of a longstanding relationship.'"</i>
[<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 64]
</blockquote><p>
What Rees <b>fails</b> to mention is that Avrich <b>immediately</b>
adds <i>"[y]et a careful search has yielded no evidence to
support such a belief."</i> He even states that <i>"[n]othing
has come to light to show that . . . any links had
existed between the emigres and the sailors before the
revolt."</i> [Avrich, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 111] How strange that Rees 
fails to quote or even mention Avrich's conclusion to 
his own speculation! As for the post-revolt links between
the "leadership" of the rebellion and the Whites, 
Avrich correctly argues that <i>"[n]one of this proves
that there were any ties between the [National] Centre
and the Revolutionary Committee either before or
during the revolt. It would seem, rather, that the
mutual experience of bitterness and defeat, and a
common determination to overthrow the Soviet regime,
led them to join hands in the aftermath."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>,
p. 129] Seeing you friends and fellow toilers murdered
by dictators may affect your judgement, unsurprisingly
enough.
<p>
Let us, however, assume that certain elements in the
"leadership" of the revolt were, in fact, scoundrels.
What does this mean when evaluating the Kronstadt revolt? 
<p>
Firstly, we must point out that this "leadership" was 
elected by and under the control of the "conference 
of delegates," which was in turn elected by and under
the control of the rank-and-file sailors, soldiers and
civilians. This body met regularly during the revolt <i>"to 
receive and debate the reports of the Revolutionary committee 
and to propose measures and decrees."</i> [Getzler, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, 
p. 217] The actions of the "leadership" were not independent 
of the mass of the population and so, regardless of their 
own agendas, had to work under control from below. In 
other words, the revolt cannot be reduced to a discussion 
of whether a few of the "leadership" were "bad men" or not. 
Indeed, to do so just reflects the elitism of bourgeois 
history.
<p>
And Rees does just that and reduces the Kronstadt revolt
and its "ideology" down to just one person (Petrichenko). 
Perhaps we can evaluate Bolshevism with this method? Or
Italian Socialism. After all, influential figures in both 
these movements ended up making contacts and deals with 
extremely suspect organisations and acting in ways we 
(and the movements they sprang from) would oppose. Does 
that mean we gain an insight into their natures by mentioning
Stalin's or Mussolini's later activities? Or evaluating
their revolutionary nature from such individuals? Of course
not. Indeed, Rees's article is an attempt to argue that
objective circumstances rather than Bolshevism as such
lead to Stalinism. Rather than do the same for Kronstadt,
he prefers to concentrate on an individual. This indicates
a distinctly bourgeois perspective:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"What passes as socialist history is often only a mirror
image of bourgeois historiography, a percolation into the
ranks of the working class movement of typically bourgeois
methods of thinking. In the world of this type of 'historian'
leaders of genius replace the kings and queens of the 
bourgeois world. . . . The masses never appear independently
on the historic stage, making their own history. At best
they only 'supply the steam', enabling others to drive
the locomotive, as Stalin so delicately put it . . . This
tendency to identify working class history with the
history of its organisations, institutions and leaders is
not only inadequate -- it reflects a typically bourgeois
vision of mankind, divided in almost pre-ordained 
manner between <b>the few</b> who will manage and decide,
and <b>the many</b>, the malleable mass, incapable of acting
consciously on its own behalf . . . Most histories of
the degeneration of the Russian Revolution rarely
amount to more than this."</i> [<i>"Solidarity's Preface"</i> 
to Ida Mett's <b>The Kronstadt Uprising</b>, pp. 18-9]
</blockquote><p>
Secondly, the question is one of whether workers are in 
struggle and what they aim for and definitely <b>not</b> one 
of whether some of the "leaders" are fine upstanding citizens. 
Ironically, Trotsky indicates why. In 1934, he had argued 
<i>"[a]nyone who had proposed that we not support the British 
miners' strike of 1926 or the recent large-scale strikes 
in the United States with all available means on the 
ground that the leaders of the strikes were for the most part 
scoundrels, would have been a traitor to the British and 
American workers."</i> [<i>"No Compromise on the Russian Question"</i>,
<b>Writings of Leon Trotsky: Supplement (1934-40)</b>, p. 539] 
<p>
The same applies to Kronstadt. Even if we assume that some
of the "leadership" did have links with the National Centre 
(an assumption we must stress has no evidence to support it), 
this in no way invalidates the Kronstadt revolt. The movement 
was not produced by the so-called "leaders" of the revolt
but rather came from below and so reflected the demands and 
politics of those involved. If it was proved, as KGB and other
soviet sources argued, that some of the "leaders" of the Hungary 
uprising of 1956 had CIA links or were CIA agitators, would that
make the revolution and its workers' councils somehow invalid?
Of course not. If some of the "leadershp" were scoundrels, as 
Trotsky argued, this does not invalid the revolt itself. The
class criteria is the decisive one.
<p>
(As an aside, we must point out that Trotsky was arguing against 
those claiming, correcly, that to unconditionally defend the 
Soviet Union was to give an endorsement to Stalinism. He stated 
immediately after the words we have quoted above: <i>"Exactly the 
same thing applies to the USSR!"</i> However, there was a few obvious 
differences which invalidates his analogy. Firstly, the Stalinist 
leadership was exploiting and oppressing the workers by means of 
state power. Trade Union bureaucrats, for all their faults, are 
not mass murdering butchers at a head of a dictatorship defended 
by troops and secret police. Secondly, strikes are examples of 
proletarian direct action which can, and do, get out of control 
of union structures and bureaucrats. They can be the focal point 
of creating new forms of working class organisation and power 
which can end the power of the union bureaucrats and replace 
it with self-managed strikers assemblies and councils. The 
Stalinist regime was organised to repress any attempts at 
unseating them and was not a form of working class self-defence 
in even the limited form that trade unions are.)
<p>
John Rees continues by arguing that:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"As it became clear that the revolt was isolated 
Petrichenko was forced to come to terms with the 
reality of the balance of class forces. On 13 March 
Petrichenko wired David Grimm, the chief of the 
National Centre and General Wrangel's official
representative in Finland, for help in gaining food. 
On 16 March Petrichenko accepted an offer of help
from Baron P V Vilkin, an associate of Grimm's whom 
'the Bolsheviks rightly called a White agent.' None
of the aid reached the garrison before it was crushed,
but the tide of events was pushing the sailors into
the arms of the Whites, just as the latter had always
suspected it would."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 64]
</blockquote><p>
We should note that it was due to the <i>"food situation in 
Kronstadt . . . growing desperate"</i> that Petrichenko contacted 
Grimm. [Avrich, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 121] If the revolt had spread to 
Petrograd and the striking workers there, such requests would 
have been unnecessary. Rather than isolation being due to 
<i>"the reality of the balance of class forces"</i> it was due to 
the reality of coercive forces -- the Bolsheviks had successfully 
repressed the Petrograd strikes and slandered the Kronstadt 
revolt (see 
<a href="secH5.html#sech510">section H.5.10</a>). As historian 
V. Brovkin notes,
the <i>"key here us that the Communists suppressed the workers
uprising in Petrograd in the first days of March. The sailors'
uprising in Kronstadt, which was an outgrowth of the uprising
in Petrograd, was now cut off from its larger social base
and localised on a small island. From this moment on the
Kronstadt sailors were on the defensive."</i> [<b>Behind the
Lines during the Civil War</b>, pp. 396-7]
<p>
So, given that the Bolshevik dictatorship had lied to and
repressed the Petrograd working class, the Kronstadters
had few options left as regards aid. Rees's argument smacks 
of the "logic" of Right as regards the Spanish Civil War,
the Cuban revolution and the Sandinistas. Isolated, each 
of these revolts turned to the Soviet Union for aid thus 
proving what the Right had always known from the start, 
namely their objectively Communist nature and their part 
in the International Communist Conspiracy. Few revolutionaries 
would evaluate these struggles on such a illogical and 
narrow basis but Rees wants us to do so with Kronstadt.
<p>
The logic of Rees arguments was used by the Stalinists 
later. Indeed, he would have to agree with Stalinists 
that the fact the Hungarian revolution of 1956 called 
on Western aid against the Red Army shows that it was 
objectively counter-revolutionary and pro-capitalist,
just as the Communist Party bureaucrats had argued.
The fact that during that revolt many messages of 
support for the rebels also preached bourgeois values 
would also, according to Rees's logic, damn that revolt 
in the eyes of all socialists. Similarly, the fact that 
the Polish union <b>Solidarity</b> got support from the West 
against the Stalinist regime does not mean that its
struggle was counter-revolutionary. So the arguments 
used by Rees are identical to those used by Stalinists
to support their repression of working class revolt
in the Soviet Empire. Indeed, orthodox Trotskyists also
called <i>"Solidarnosc"</i> a company union of the CIA, bankers,
the Vatican and Wall Street for capitalist counterrevolution 
in Poland and considered the fall of the Soviet Union as a 
defeat for the working class and socialism, in other words, 
a counterrevolution. As evidence they pointed to the
joy and support each generated in Western elite circles
(and ignored the popular nature of those revolts).
<p>
In reality, of course, the fact that others sought to 
take advantage of these (and other) situations is 
inevitable and irrelevant. The important thing is
whether working class people where in control of the
revolt and what the main objectives of it were. By
this class criteria, it is clear that the Kronstadt
revolt was a <b>revolutionary</b> revolt as, like Hungry
1956, the core of the revolt was working people and 
their councils. It was they who were in control and 
called the tune. That Whites tried to take advantage 
of it is as irrelevant to evaluating the Kronstadt revolt 
as the fact that Stalinists tried to take advantage of 
the Spanish struggle against Fascism.
<p>
Moreover, in his analysis of the <i>"balance of class forces"</i>, 
Rees fails to mention the class which had real power (and 
the related privileges) in Russia at the time -- the state 
and party bureaucracy. The working class and peasantry were 
officially powerless. The only influence they exercised in 
the "workers' and peasants state" was when they rebelled, 
forcing "their" state to make concessions or to repress them 
(sometimes both happened). The balance of class forces was 
between the workers and peasants and ruling bureaucracy. To 
ignore this factor means to misunderstand the problems facing 
the revolution and the Kronstadt revolt itself.
<p>
Lastly, we must comment upon the fact that members of Kronstadt's 
revolutionary Committee took refuge in Finland along with <i>"[s]ome 
8,000 people (some sailors and the most active part of the civilian 
population)."</i> [Mett, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 57] This was as the Bolsheviks had 
predicted on March 5th (<i>"At the last minute, all those generals, the 
Kozlovskvs, the Bourksers, and all that riff raff, the Petrichenkos, 
and the Tourins will flee to Finland, to the White guards"</i> [cited
by Mett, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 50]). However, this does not indicate any "White
guardist" connections. After all, where else <b>could</b> they go? Anywhere
else would have been in Soviet Russia and so a Bolshevik prison and
ultimately death. The fact that active participants in the revolt
ended up in the only place they could end up to avoid death has
no bearing to that nature of that revolt nor can it be used as
"evidence" of a "white conspiracy."
<p>
In other words, the attempts of Trotskyists to smear the Kronstadt 
sailors with having White links is simply false. The actions of some 
rebels <b>after</b> the Bolsheviks had crushed the revolt cannot be used to 
discredit the revolt itself. The real relationship of the revolt to
the Whites is clear. It was one of hatred and opposition.
<p>
<a name="sech58"><H2>H.5.8 Did the rebellion involve new sailors?</H2>
<p>
The most common Trotskyist assertion to justify the repression
of the Kronstadt revolt is that of Trotsky. It basically 
consists of arguing that the sailors in 1921 were different 
than those in 1917. Trotsky started this line of justification 
during the revolt when he stated on March 16th that the Baltic 
Fleet had been <i>"inevitably thinned out with respect to personnel"</i> 
and so a <i>"great many of the revolutionary sailors"</i> of 1917 had 
been <i>"transferred"</i> elsewhere. They had been <i>"replaced in 
large measure by accidental elements."</i> This <i>"facilitated"</i>
the work of the <i>"counterrevolutionary organisers"</i> who 
had <i>"selected"</i> Kronstadt. He repeated this argument in 1937 
and 1938 [Lenin and Trotsky, <b>Kronstadt</b>, pp. 68-9, p. 79, 
p. 81 and p. 87] 
<p>
His followers repeated his assertions. Wright argues that <i>"the 
personnel of the fortress could not possibly have remained 
static throughout the years between 1917 and 1921."</i> He
doubts that the revolutionary sailors of 1917 could have 
remained behind in the fortress while their comrades fought 
the Whites. [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, pp. 122-3] These sailors had been
replaced by peasant conscripts. John Rees, continuing this
line of rationale, argued that <i>"the composition of the garrison
had changed . . . it seems likely that the peasants had 
increased their weight in the Kronstadt, as Trotsky suggested."</i> 
[Rees, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 61] 
<p>
As can be seen, the allegation that the Kronstadt sailors
were a <i>"grey mass"</i> and had changed in social composition
is a common one in Trotskyist circles. What are we to 
make of these claims?
<p>
Firstly, we must evaluate what are the facts as regards
the social composition and turnover of personnel in
Kronstadt. Secondly, we must see how Trotskyists have
misused these sources in order to indicate how far
they will abuse the truth. 
<p>
The first task is now, thanks to recent research, easy
to do. Were the majority of the sailors during the 
uprising new recruits or veterans from 1917? The answer 
is that it was predominantly the latter. Academic Israel 
Getzler investigated this issue and demonstrated that 
of those serving in the Baltic fleet on 1st January 
1921 at least 75.5% were drafted before 1918. Over 80% were 
from Great Russian areas, 10% from the Ukraine and 9% from 
Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Poland. He argues that the 
<i>"veteran politicised Red sailor still predominated in 
Kronstadt at the end of 1920"</i> and presents more <i>"hard 
statistical data"</i> like that just quoted. He investigated 
the crews of the two major battleships, the <b><i>Petropavlovsk</i></b> 
and the <b><i>Sevastopol</i></b> (both renown since 1917 for their
revolutionary zeal and revolutionary allegiance and, in
Paul Avrich's words, <i>"the powder kegs of the rising."</i>
[Avrich, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 93]). His findings are conclusive,
showing that of the 2,028 sailors where years of enlistment 
are known, 93.9% were recruited into the navy before and 
during the 1917 revolution (the largest group, 1,195, joined 
in the years 1914-16). Only 6.8% of the sailors were recruited
in the years 1918-21 (including three who were conscripted 
in 1921) and they were the only ones who had not been there 
during the 1917 revolution. [Getzler, <b>Kronstadt 1917-1921</b>, 
pp. 207-8]
<p>
Moreover, the majority of the revolutionary committee were 
veterans of the Kronstadt Soviet and the October revolution.
[Ida Mett, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 42] <i>"Given their maturity and
experience, not to speak of their keen disillusionment
as former participants in the revolution, it was only
natural that these seasoned bluejackets should be thrust
into the forefront of the uprising."</i> [Avrich, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, 
p. 91] 
<p>
Getzler stresses that it was <i>"certainly the case"</i> that  
the <i>"activists of the 1921 uprising had been participants 
of the 1917 revolutions"</i> for the <i>"1,900 veteran sailors
of the <b><i>Petropavlovsk</i></b> and the <b><i>Sevastopol</i></b> who spearheaded
it. It was certainly true of a majority of the Revolutionary
Committee and of the intellectuals . . . Likewise, at least
three-quarters of the 10,000 to 12,000 sailors -- the
mainstay of the uprising -- were old hands who had
served in the navy through war and revolution."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>,
p. 226]
<p>

Needless to say, this statistical information was unavailable
when anarchists and others wrote their accounts of the uprising.
All they could go on were the facts of the uprising itself and
the demands of the rebels. Based on these, it is little wonder
that anarchists like Alexander Berkman stressed the continuity
between the Red Kronstadters of 1917 and the rebels of 1921. 
Firstly, the rebels in 1921 took action in <b><i>solidarity</i></b> 
with the striking workers in Petrograd. In the words of Emma Goldman,
it was <i>"after the report of their Committee of the real state of
affairs among the workers in Petrograd that the Kronstadt sailors
did in 1921 what they had done in 1917. They immediately made
common cause with the workers. The part of the sailors in 1917
was hailed as the red pride and glory of the Revolution. Their
identical part in 1921 was denounced to the whole world as
counter-revolutionary treason"</i> by the Bolsheviks. [<b>Trotsky 
Protests Too Much</b>] Secondly, their demands were thoroughly 
in-line with the aspirations and politics of 1917 and clearly 
showed a socialist awareness and analysis. 
<p>
The later research has just confirmed what is obvious from an 
analysis of such facts, namely that the rebels in 1921 were 
acting in the spirit of their comrades of 1917 and this implies 
a significant continuity in personnel (which perhaps explains 
the unwillingness of Leninists to mention that the revolt was 
in solidarity with the strikers or the demands of the rebels). 
Thus the research provides empirical evidence to support the 
political analysis of the revolt conducted by revolutionaries 
like Berkman, Voline and so on. 
<p>
In summary, the bulk of the sailors at the start of 1921 
had been there since 1917. Even if this was not the case
and we assume that a majority of the sailors at Kronstadt
were recent recruits, does this invalidate the rebellion?
After all, the Red sailors of 1917 were once raw recruits.
They had become politicised over time by debate, discussion
and struggle. So had the workers in Petrograd and elsewhere.
Would Leninists have denounced strikers in 1905 or 1917 if 
it was discovered that most of them were recent peasant
arrivals in the city? We doubt it (ironically, the Mensheviks
argued that the Bolsheviks gained their influence from such
worker-peasant industrial <i>"raw recruits"</i> and not from the 
genuine working class. [Orlando Figes, <b>A People's Tragedy</b>,
p. 830]). And, of course, it was the industrial "raw recruits" 
who had taken part in the 1905 and 1917 revolutions. They 
helped formulate demands and organise soviets, strikes and 
demonstrations. They helped raised slogans which were to 
the left of the Bolsheviks. Does this process somehow grind 
to a halt when these "raw recruits" oppose Trotsky? Of course 
not. 
<p>
Given the political aspects of the Kronstadt demands we can safely
argue that even if the rebellion had been the work of recent recruits
they obviously had been influenced by the veteran sailors who remained.
They, like the peasant-workers of 1905 and 1917, would have been
able to raise their own political demands and ideas while, at the
same time, listening to those among them with more political experience.
In other words, the assumption that the sailors could not raise
revolutionary political demands if they were "raw recruits" only makes
sense if we subscribe to Lenin's dictum that the working class, by
its own efforts, can only reach a trade union consciousness (i.e.
that toiling people cannot liberate themselves). In other words, 
this Trotsky inspired sociology misses the point. Sadly, we have 
to address it in order to refute Leninist arguments.
<p>
Therefore, Getzler's research refutes the claims of Trotskyists 
such as Chris Harman who follow Trotsky and argue that 
<i>"Kronstadt in 1921 was not Kronstadt of 1917. The class 
composition of its sailors had changed. The best socialist 
elements had long ago gone off to fight in the army in the 
front line. They were replaced in the main by peasants whose
devotion to the revolution was that of their class."</i>
[quoted by Sam Farber, <b>Before Stalinism</b>, p. 192] As
can be seen, the ship crews were remarkably consistent
over the period in question. It is, however, useful to
discuss this question further in order to show what
passes as analysis in Trotskyist circles.
<p>
Harman is, of course, following Trotsky. Writing in 1937 
Trotsky argued that Kronstadt had <i>"been completely 
emptied of proletarian elements"</i> as <i>"[a]ll the sailors"</i> 
belonging to the ships' crews <i>"had become commissars, 
commanders, chairmen of local soviets."</i> Later, realising 
the stupidity of this claim, he changed it to Kronstadt
being <i>"denuded of all revolutionary forces"</i> by <i>"the 
winter of 1919."</i> He also acknowledged that <i>"a certain 
number of qualified workers and technicians"</i> remained 
to <i>"take care of the machinery"</i> but these were 
<i>"politically unreliable"</i> as proven by the fact they 
had not been selected to fight in the civil war. 
As evidence, he mentions that he had wired a <i>"request at
the end of 1919, or in 1920, to 'send a group of Kronstadt
sailors to this or that point'"</i> and they had answered
<i>"No one left to send."</i> [Lenin and Trotsky, <b>Kronstadt</b>, 
p. 87, p. 90 and  p. 81] Obviously, the Communist 
commander at Kronstadt had left his fortress and its 
ships totally unmanned! Such common sense is sadly 
lacking from Trotsky (as indicated above, the evidence 
supports the common sense analysis and not Trotsky's claims). 
<p>
Moreover, does this claim also apply to the Communist Party
membership at Kronstadt? Is Trotsky <b>really</b> arguing that the 
Bolsheviks in Kronstadt after the winter of 1919 were not
revolutionary? Given that the bulk of them had joined the 
CP during or after this time, we must obviously conclude
that the recruiters let anyone join. Moreover, there had
been a <i>"rigorous local purge"</i> of the party conducted in the
autumn of 1920 by the commander of the Baltic Fleet. [I.
Getzler, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 211 and p. 205] Must we also conclude 
that this purge did not have revolutionary politics as a factor
when determining whether a party member should be expelled
or not?
<p>
Trotsky claims too much. Based on his claims we must conclude
one of two possibilities. The first possibility is that the 
Kronstadt Communist Party was not revolutionary and was made 
up of politically backward individuals, careerists and so on. 
If that was the case in Kronstadt then it must also have been 
the case elsewhere in Russia and this discredits any attempt 
to argue that the Bolshevik party dictatorship was revolutionary. 
The second possibility is that it <b>did</b> have revolutionary elements. 
If so, then the fact that hundreds of these members left the party
during the revolt and only a minority of them opposed it makes
the claim that the rebellion was <i>"counter-revolutionary"</i> difficult
(indeed, impossible) to maintain (of the 2,900 members of the 
Communist Party in Kronstadt, 784 officially resigned and 327 
had been arrested). And it also makes Trotsky's claims
that Kronstadt was <i>"denuded"</i> of revolutionary elements false.
<p>
J.G. Wright, as noted above, thought that it was <i>"impossible"</i> 
to believe that the sailors of 1917 could leave their comrades
to fight the Whites while they stayed at Kronstadt. This
may have been a valid argument <b>if</b> the Soviet armed forces
were democratically run. However, as we indicated in
<a href="secH5.html#sech52">section H.5.2</a>, 
it was organised in a typically bourgeois
fashion. Trotsky had abolished democratic soldiers and
sailors councils and the election of officers in favour
of appointed officers and hierarchical, top-down, military
structures. This meant that the sailors would have stayed in 
Kronstadt if they had been ordered to. The fact that they had 
to defend Petrograd combined with the level of technical 
knowledge and experience required to operate the battleships 
and defences at Kronstadt would have meant that the 1917 
sailors would have been irreplaceable and so had to remain 
at Kronstadt. This is what, in fact, did happen. In the 
words of Israel Gelzter:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"One reason for the remarkable survival in Kronstadt
of these veteran sailors, albeit in greatly diminished
numbers, was precisely the difficulty of training, in
war-time conditions, a new generation competent in the
sophisticated technical skills required o Russia's
ultra-modern battleships, and, indeed, in the fleet
generally."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 208]
</blockquote><p>
We should also note here that <i>"by the end of 1919 thousands
of veteran sailors, who had served on many fronts of the
civil war and in the administrative network of the
expanding Soviet state, had returned to the Baltic
Fleet and to Kronstadt, most by way of remobilisation."</i>  
[Getzler, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, pp. 197-8] Thus the idea that the
sailors left and did not come back is not a valid one.
<p>
Trotsky obviously felt that this (recently refuted) argument of
changing social composition of the sailors would hold more water 
than claims White Guards organised it. He continued this theme:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"The best, most self-sacrificing sailors were completely
withdrawn from Kronstadt and played an important role at 
the fronts and in the local soviets throughout the country
What was left was the grey mass with big pretensions ('We
are from Kronstadt'), but without the political education
and unprepared for revolutionary sacrifice. The country
was starving. The Kronstadters demanded privileges. The
uprising was dictated by a desire to get privileged food
rations."</i> [Lenin and Trotsky, <b>Kronstadt</b>, p. 79]
</blockquote><p>
This was Trotsky's first comment on the uprising for 16 
years and it contained a lie. As Ida Mett notes, <i>"[s]uch 
a demand was never put forward by the men of Kronstadt"</i>
and so Trotsky <i>"started his public accusations with a lie."</i> 
[<b>The Kronstadt Uprising</b>, p. 73] He repeated the claim
again, six months later [Lenin and Trotsky, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, 
p. 92] Unfortunately for him, the opposite was the case. 
Point 9 of the Kronstadt demands explicitly called for 
an <b>end</b> of privileges by the <i>"equalisation of rations 
for all workers."</i> This was implemented during the uprising.
<p>
As an aside, Trotsky later states that <i>"[w]hen conditions
became very critical in hungry Petrograd, the Political
Bureau more than once discussed the possibility of
securing an 'internal loan' from Kronstadt, where a
quantity of old provisions still remained. But delegates
of the Petrograd workers answered: 'You will get nothing
from them by kindness. They speculate in cloth, coal,
and bread. At present in Kronstadt every kind of riffraff
has raised its head.'"</i> [Lenin and Trotsky, <b>Op. Cit.</b>,
pp. 87-8] As Ida Mett pointed out, <i>"[w]e should add that 
before the insurrection these 'stores' were in the hands 
of communist functionaries and that it was upon these 
people alone that consent to the proposed 'loan' depended. 
The rank and file sailor, who took part in the insurrection, 
had no means open to him whereby he could have opposed the 
loan, even if he had wanted to."</i> [<b>The Kronstadt Uprising</b>,
pp. 74-5] If Trotsky's words were true, then they were
a crushing indictment of Bolshevik practice, <b>not</b> the
Kronstadt sailors. 
<p>
As for Trotsky's claim of a <i>"lack of political education,"</i> 
the 15 point resolution voted upon by the sailors exposes 
this as nonsense and the fact the sailors fought the Red 
Army to the end indicates that there were prepared to die
for their ideals. Similarly, Trotsky's argument that
<i>"in 1917-18, the Kronstadt sailor stood considerably
higher than the average level of the Red Army"</i> but
by 1921 they <i>"stood  . . . on a level considerably
lower, in general, than the average level of the Red
Army."</i> In fact, as we indicate in 
<a href="secH5.html#sech59">section H.5.9</a>, the
political programme of the revolt was fundamentally the
same as Kronstadt's soviet democracy of 1917 and, we should 
note, opposed the introduction of wage labour, a basic 
socialist idea (and one missing from the Bolshevik's 
NEP policies). Moreover, the mass meeting that agreed 
the resolution did so unanimously, meaning old and new 
sailors agreed to it. So much for Trotsky's assertions.
<p>
Others have pointed out the weak nature of Trotsky's
arguments as regards the changing nature of the
sailors. We will quote Emma Goldman's evaluation of 
Trotsky's assertions. As will be seen, Trotsky's 
assertions seem to be based on expediency (and, 
significantly, were not uttered before the revolt):
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Now, I do not presume to argue what the Kronstadt 
sailors were in 1918 or 1919. I did not reach Russia 
until January, 1920. From that time on until Kronstadt 
was 'liquidated' the sailors of the Baltic fleet were 
held up as the glorious example of valour and unflinching 
courage. Time on end I was told not only by Anarchists, 
Mensheviks and social revolutionists, but by many 
Communists, that the sailors were the very backbone of 
the Revolution. On the 1st of May, 1920, during the 
celebration and the other festivities organised for 
the first British Labour Mission, the Kronstadt 
sailors presented a large clear-cut contingent, 
and were then pointed out as among the great 
heroes who had saved the Revolution from Kerensky, 
and Petrograd from Yudenich. During the anniversary 
of October the sailors were again in the front ranks, 
and their re-enactment of the taking of the Winter 
Palace was wildly acclaimed by a packed mass. 
<p>
"Is it possible that the leading members of the party, 
save Leon Trotsky, were unaware of the corruption and 
the demoralisation of Kronstadt, claimed by him? I do 
not think so. Moreover, I doubt whether Trotsky himself 
held this view of the Kronstadt sailors until March, 
1921. His story must, therefore, be an afterthought, 
or is it a rationalisation to justify the senseless 
'liquidation' of Kronstadt?"</i> [<b>Trotsky Protests Too Much</b>]
</blockquote><p>
Ante Ciliga quoted the testimony regarding Kronstadt of a 
fellow political prisoner in Soviet Russia:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"'It is a myth that, from the social point of view, Kronstadt 
of 1921 had a wholly different population from that of 1917,' 
[a] man from Petrograd, Dv., said to me in prison. In 1921 he 
was a member of the Communist youth, and was imprisoned in 
1932 as a 'decist' (a member of Sapronov's group of 
'Democratic Centralists')."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, pp. 335-6]
</blockquote><p>
Since then, both Paul Avrich and Israel Gelzter have analysed 
this question and confirmed the arguments and accounts of Goldman 
and Ciliga. Moreover, continuity between the sailors of 1917
and 1921 can also been seen from their actions (rising in
solidarity with the Petrograd workers) and in their politics
(as expressed in their demands and in their paper). 
<p>
Now we turn to our second reason for looking into this issue, 
namely the misuse of these sources to support their case. This 
indicates well the nature of Bolshevik ethics. <i>"While the 
revolutionaries,"</i> argued Ciliga with regards to the Bolsheviks, 
<i>"remaining such only in words, accomplished in fact the task 
of the reaction and counter-revolution, they were compelled, 
inevitably, to have recourse to lies, to calumny and falsification."</i> 
[<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 335] Defending these acts also pays its toll on 
those who follow this tradition, as we shall see.
<p>
Needless to say, such evidence as provided by Avrich and Geltzer
is rarely mentioned by supporters of Bolshevism. However, rather 
than ignore new evidence, the Trotskyists use it in their own 
way, for their own purposes. Every new work about Kronstadt 
has been selectively quoted from by Trotskyists to support 
their arguments, regardless of the honesty of such activity. 
We can point to two works, Paul Avrich's <b>Kronstadt 1921</b>
and <b>Kronstadt 1917-1921</b> by Israel Getzler, which have
been used to support Bolshevist conclusions when, in 
fact, they do the opposite. The misuse of these references
is quite unbelievable and shows the mentality of
Trotskyism well.
<p>
Pierre Frank argues that Paul Avrich's work has <i>"conclusions"</i> 
which are <i>"similar to Trotsky's"</i> and <i>"confirms the changes in 
the composition of the Kronstadt garrison that took place during 
the civil war, although with a few reservations."</i> [Lenin and 
Trotsky, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 25] A quick look at these reservations 
shows how false Frank is. It is worth quoting Avrich at length 
to show this:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"There can be little doubt that during the Civil War
years a large turnover had indeed taken place within
the Baltic Fleet, and that many of the old-timers
had been replaced by conscripts from rural districts
who brought with them the deeply felt discontent of
the Russian peasantry. By 1921, according to official
figures, more than three-quarters of the sailors were
of peasant origin, a substantially higher proportion
that in 1917 . . . Yet this does not necessarily mean
that the behavioural patterns of the fleet had 
undergone any fundamental change. On the contrary,
alongside the technical ratings, who were largely
drawn from the working class, there had always been
a large and unruly peasant element among the sailors
. . . Indeed, in 1905 and 1917 it was these very youths
from the countryside who had given Kronstadt its
reputation as a hotbed of revolutionary extremism.
And throughout the Civil War the Kronstadters had
remained an independent and headstrong lot, difficult
to control and far from constant in their support
for the government. It was for this reason so many
of them . . . had found themselves transferred to
new posts remote from the centres of Bolshevik
powers. Of those who remained, many hankered for 
the freedoms they had won in 1917 before the
new regime began to establish its one-party
dictatorship throughout the country.
<p>
"Actually, there was little to distinguish the 
old-timers from the recent recruits in their midst.
Both groups were largely of peasant background . . .
Not unexpectedly, when the rebellion finally erupted,
it was the older seamen, veterans of many years of
service (dating in some cases before the First
World War) who took the lead . . . Given their
maturity and experience, not to speak of their
keen disillusionment as former participants of the
revolution, it was only natural that these seasoned
bluejackets should be thrust into the forefront of
the uprising . . . The proximity of Petrograd,
moreover, with its intense intellectual and political
life, had contributed towards sharpening their
political awareness, and a good many had engaged in
revolutionary activity during 1917 and after. . .
<p>
"As late as the autumn of 1920, Emma Goldman recalled,
the sailors were still held up by the Communists 
themselves as a glowing example of valour and
unflinching courage; on November 7, the third
anniversary of the Bolshevik seizure of power,
they were in the front ranks of the celebrations . . .
No one at the time spoke of any 'class degeneration'
at Kronstadt. The allegation that politically
retarded <b>muzhiks</b> had diluted the revolutionary
character of the fleet, it would seem, was largely
a device to explain away dissident movements among
the sailors, and had been used as such as early as
October 1918, following the abortive mutiny at the
Petrograd naval station, when the social composition
of the fleet could not yet have undergone any 
sweeping transformation."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, pp. 89-92] 
</blockquote><p>
As can be seen, Avrich's <i>"reservations"</i> are such as
to make clear he does <b>not</b> share Trotsky's <i>"conclusions"</i>
as regards the class make-up of Kronstadt and, indeed,
noted the ideological bias in this "explanation." 
<p>
Moreover, Avrich points to earlier revolts which the 
Bolsheviks had also explained in terms of a diluting of 
the revolutionary sailors of the Baltic Fleet by peasants. 
In April 1918 <i>"the crews of several Baltic vessels 
passed a strongly worded resolution"</i> which <i>"went so 
far as to call for a general uprising to dislodge 
the Bolsheviks and install a new regime that would 
adhere more faithfully to the principles of the 
revolution."</i> In October that year, <i>"a mass meeting 
at the Petrograd naval base adopted a resolution"</i>
which included the sailors going <i>"on record against
the Bolshevik monopoly of political power. Condemning
the suppression of the anarchists and opposition
socialists, they called for free elections to the
soviets . . . [and] denounced the compulsory seizure
of gain."</i> Their demands, as Avrich notes, <i>"strikingly
anticipated the Kronstadt programme of 1921, down to
the slogans of 'free soviets' and 'Away with the
commissarocracy.'"</i> He stresses that a <i>"glance at the
behaviour of the Baltic Fleet from 1905 to 1921 
reveals many elements of continuity."</i> [Avrich, 
<b>Op. Cit.</b>, pp. 63-4]
<p>
However, a worse example of Trotskyist betrayal of the
truth is provided by the British SWP's John Rees. The 
evidence Rees musters for the claim that the <i>"composition"</i>
of the Kronstadt sailors <i>"had changed"</i> between 1917 and 1921 
is a useful indication of the general Leninist method when it 
comes to the Russian revolution. Rees argues as follows: 
<p><blockquote>
<i>"In September and October 1920 the writer and the Bolshevik 
party lecturer Ieronymus Yasinksky went to Kronstadt to lecture
400 naval recruits. They were 'straight from the plough'. And 
he was shocked to find that many, 'including a few party members,
were politically illiterate, worlds removed from the highly 
politicised veteran Kronstadt sailors who had deeply impressed him'.
Yasinsky worried that those steeled in the revolutionary fire' 
would be replaced by 'inexperienced freshly mobilised young
sailors'."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 61]
</blockquote><p>
This quote is referenced to Israel Getzler's <b>Kronstadt 1917-1921</b>.
Rees account is a fair version of the first half of Yasinskys' 
report. The quote however continues exactly as reproduced below:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Yasinsky was apprehensive about the future when, 'sooner or 
later, Kronstadt's veteran sailors, who were steeled in
revolutionary fire and had acquired a clear revolutionary 
world-view would be replaced by inexperienced, freshly mobilised
young sailors'. Still he comforted himself with the hope that 
Kronstadt's sailors would gradually infuse them with their 'noble
spirit of revolutionary self-dedication' to which Soviet Russia 
owed so much. As for the present he felt reassured that 'in
Kronstadt the red sailor still predominates.'"</i> [Getzler, 
<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 207]
</blockquote><p>
Rees handy 'editing' of this quote transforms it from one 
showing that three months before the rising that Kronstadt 
had retained its revolutionary spirit to one implying the 
garrison had indeed been replaced. 
<p>
Rees tries to generate <i>"[f]urther evidence of the changing
class composition"</i> by looking at the <i>"social background of
the Bolsheviks at the base."</i> However, he goes on to contradict 
himself about the composition of the Bolshevik party at the 
time. On page 61 he says the <i>"same figures for the Bolshevik 
party as a whole in 1921 are 28.7% peasants, 41% workers and 
30.8% white collar and others"</i>. On page 66 however he says the 
figures at the end of the civil war (also 1921) were 10% factory 
workers, 25% army and 60% in <i>"the government or party machine"</i>. 
An endnote says even of those classed as factory workers <i>"most 
were in administration."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 61 and p. 78] The 
first set of figures is more useful for attacking Kronstadt 
and so is used. 
<p>
What is the basis of Rees <i>"further evidence"</i>? Simply that in
<i>"September 1920, six months before the revolt, the Bolsheviks
had 4,435 members at Kronstadt. Some 50 per cent of these
were peasants, 40 percent workers and 10 percent intellectuals 
. . . Thus the percentage of peasants in the party was considerably 
higher than nationally . . .  If we <b>assume</b> [our emphasis] that 
the Bolshevik party was more working class in composition than
the base as a whole, then it seems <b>likely</b> [our emphasis]
that the peasants had increased their weight in the Kronstadt,
as Trotsky suggested."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 61] 
<p>
So on the basis of an assumption, it may be <i>"likely"</i> that 
Trotsky was correct! Impressive <i>"evidence"</i> indeed!
<p>
Moreover, as evidence of <b>changing</b> class composition these 
figures are not very useful. This is because they do not compare 
the composition of the Kronstadt Bolsheviks in 1917 to those in
1921. Given that the Kronstadt base always had a high percentage 
of peasants in its ranks, it follows that in 1917 the percentage 
of Bolsheviks of peasant origin could have been higher than normal 
as well. If this was the case, then Rees argument falls. Simply
put, he is not comparing the appropriate figures.
<p>
It would have been very easy for Rees to inform his readers of
the real facts concerning the changing composition of the 
Kronstadt garrison. He could quoted Getzler's work on this
subject. As noted above, Getzler demonstrates that the crew of 
the battleships <i><b>Petropavlovsk</b></i> 
and <i><b>Sevastopol</b></i>, which formed 
the core of the rising, were recruited into the navy before 1917, 
only 6.9% having been recruited between 1918 and 1921. These figures 
are on the same page as the earlier quotes Rees uses but are ignored 
by him. Unbelievably Rees even states <i>"[w]e do not know how many
new recruits arrived in the three months before Kronstadt erupted"</i>
in spite of quoting a source which indicates the composition
of the two battleships which started the revolt! [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 61]
<p>
Or, then again, he could have reported Samuel Farber's summary
of Getzler's (and others) evidence. Rees rather lamely notes
that Farber <i>"does not look at the figures for the composition
of the Bolsheviks"</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 62] Why should he when he has 
the appropriate figures for the sailors? Here is Farber's account 
of the facts:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"this [Trotsky's class composition] interpretation has failed
to meet the historical test of the growing and relatively
recent scholarship on the Russian Revolution. . . . In fact,
in 1921, a smaller proportion of Kronstadt sailors were of
peasant social origin than was the case of the Red Army 
troops supporting the government . . . recently published
data strongly suggest that the class composition of the
ships and naval base had probably remained unchanged since
before the Civil War. We now know that, given the war-time
difficulties of training new people in the technical skills
required in Russia's ultra-modern battleships, very few
replacements had been sent to Kronstadt to take the place
of the dead and injured sailors. Thus, at the end of the
Civil War in late 1920, no less than 93.9 per cent of the
members of the crews of the <b><i>Petropavlovsk</i></b> and the
<b><i>Sevastopol</i></b> . . . were recruited into the navy before
and during the 1917 revolutions. In fact, 59 per cent
of these crews joined the navy in the years 1914-16, 
while only 6.8 per cent had been recruited in the years
1918-21 . . . of the approximately 10,000 recruits who were 
supposed to be trained to replenish the Kronstadt garrison, 
only a few more than 1,000 had arrived by the end of 1920, 
and those had been stationed not in Kronstadt, but in Petrograd, 
where they were supposed to be trained."</i> '[<b>Before Stalinism</b>,
pp. 192-3]
</blockquote><p>
And Rees bemoans Farber for not looking at the Bolshevik
membership figures! Yes, assumptions and <i>"likely"</i> conclusions 
drawn from assumptions are more important than hard statistical
evidence! 
<p>
After stating <i>"if, for the sake of argument, we accept Sam 
Farber's interpretation of the evidence"</i> (evidence Rees refuses 
to inform the reader of) Rees then tries to save his case. He 
states Farber's <i>"point only has any validity if we take the 
statistics in isolation. But in reality this change [!] in 
composition acted on a fleet whose ties with the peasantry 
had recently been strengthened in other ways. In particular, 
the Kronstadt sailors had recently been granted leave for the 
first time since the civil war. Many returned to their villages
and came face to face with the condition of the countryside
and the trials of the peasantry faced with food detachments."</i> 
[<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 62] 
<p>
Of course, such an argument has <b>nothing to do with Rees original 
case.</b> Let us not forget that he argued that the class composition 
of the garrison had changed, <b>not</b> that its <b>political</b> composition 
had changed. Faced with overwhelming evidence against his case, he 
not only does not inform his readers of it, he changes his original 
argument! Very impressive.
<p>
So, what of this argument? Hardly an impressive one. Let
us not forget that the revolt came about in response to
the wave of strikes in Petrograd, <b>not</b> a peasant revolt.
Moreover, the demands of the revolt predominantly reflected
workers demands, <b>not</b> peasant ones (Rees himself acknowledges
that the Kronstadt demands were not reproduced by any
other "peasant" insurrection). The political aspects of
these ideas reflected the political traditions of Kronstadt,
which were not, in the main, Bolshevik. The sailors
supported soviet power in 1917, not party power, and
they again raised that demand in 1921 (see 
<a href="secH5.html#sech59">section H.5.9</a>
for details). In other words, the <b>political</b> composition 
of the garrison was the same as in 1917. Rees is clearly 
clutching at straws.
<p>
The fact that the class composition of the sailors was
similar in 1917 and in 1921 <b>and</b> that the bulk of the
sailors were veterans of 1917, Trotskyists can only
fall back on their ideological definition of class.
This perspective involves defining a specific 
"proletarian" political position (i.e. the politics
of Bolshevism) and argued that anyone who does not
subscribe to that position is "petty-bourgeois" 
regardless of their actual position in society (i.e.
their class position). As Ida Mett notes:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"When Trotsky asserts that all those supporting the 
government were genuinely proletarian and progressive, 
whereas all others represented the peasant counterrevolution, 
we have a right to ask of him that he present us with a 
serious factual analysis in support of his contention."</i>
[<b>Op. Cit.</b>, pp. 75-6]
</blockquote><p>
As we show in the 
<a href="secH5.html#sech59">next section</a>, 
the political composition
of the Kronstadt rebels, like their class composition,
was basically unchanged in 1921 when compared to that 
which pre-dominated in 1917.
<p>
<a name="sech59"><H2>H.5.9 Was Kronstadt different politically?</H2>
<p>
As we proved in the 
<a href="secH5.html#sech58">last section</a>, the Kronstadt 
garrison had not 
fundamentally changed by 1921. On the two battleships which were
the catalyst for the rebellion, over 90% of the sailors for whom
years of enlistment are know had been there since 1917. However, 
given that most Leninists mean "support the party" by the term 
"class politics," it is useful to compare the political perspectives 
of Kronstadt in 1917 to that expressed in the 1921 revolt. As will 
soon become clear, the political ideas expressed in 1921 were 
essentially similar to those in 1917. This similarly also proves
the continuity between the Red sailors of 1917 and the rebels
of 1921.
<p>
Firstly, we must point out that Kronstadt in 1917 was <b>never</b> 
dominated by the Bolsheviks. At Kronstadt, the Bolsheviks were
always a minority and a <i>"radical populist coalition of Maximalists
and Left SRs held sway, albeit precariously, <b>within</b> Kronstadt
and its Soviet"</i> (<i>"<b>externally</b> Kronstadt was a loyal stronghold
of the Bolshevik regime"</i>). [I. Getzler, <b>Kronstadt 1917-1921</b>,
p. 179] In 1917 Trotsky even stated that the Kronstadters <i>"are 
anarchists."</i> [quoted by Getzler, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 98] Kronstadt 
was in favour of soviet power and, unsurprisingly, supported
those parties which claimed to support that goal.
<p>
Politically, the climate in Kronstadt was <i>"very close to the 
politics of the Socialist Revolutionary Maximalists, a left-wing 
split-off from the SR Party, politically located somewhere 
between the Left SRs and the Anarchists."</i> [Farber, <b>Before Stalinism</b>, 
p. 194] In Kronstadt this group was led by Anatolii Lamanov and 
according to Getzler, <i>"it rejected party factionalism"</i> and <i>"stood for 
pure sovietism"</i>. They sought an immediate agrarian and urban social 
revolution, calling for the <i>"socialisation of power, of the land 
and of the factories"</i> to be organised by a federation of soviets 
based on direct elections and instant recall, as a first step towards 
socialism. [Getzler, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 135] The similarities with
anarchism are clear.
<p>
During the October revolution, the Bolsheviks did not prevail 
in the Kronstadt soviet. Instead, the majority was made up of 
SR Maximalists and Left SRs. Kronstadt's delegates to the
third Congress of Soviets were an Left-SR (157 votes), a
SR-Maximalist (147 votes) and a Bolshevik (109 votes). It was 
only in the January elections in 1918 that the Bolsheviks 
improved their position, gaining 139 deputies compared to 
their previous 96. In spite of gaining their highest ever 
vote during the era of multi-party soviets the Bolsheviks 
only gained 46 percent of seats in the soviet. Also elected 
at this time were 64 SRs (21 percent), 56 Maximalists 
(19 percent), 21 non-party delegates (7 percent), 15 Anarchists 
(5 percent) and 6 Mensheviks (2 percent). The soviet elected a 
Left SR as its chairman and in March it elected its three 
delegates to the Fourth Congress of Soviets, with the Bolshevik 
delegate receiving the lowest vote (behind a Maximalist and an 
anarchist with 124, 95 and 79 votes respectively). [I. Getzler,
<b>Op. Cit.</b>, pp. 182-4]
<p>
By the April 1918 elections, as in most of Russia, the Bolsheviks 
found their support had decreased. Only 53 Bolsheviks were elected 
(29 per cent) as compared to 41 SR Maximalists (22 percent), 39 
Left SRs (21 percent), 14 Menshevik Internationalists (8 percent), 
10 Anarchists (5 percent) and 24 non-party delegates (13 percent). 
Indeed, Bolshevik influence at Kronstadt was so weak that on April 
18th, the Kronstadt soviet denounced the Bolsheviks attack against 
the anarchists in Moscow, April 12th by a vote of 81 to 57. The
<i>"Bolshevisation"</i> of Kronstadt <i>"and the destruction of its
multi-party democracy was not due to internal developments
and local Bolshevik strength, but decreed from outside and
imposed by force."</i> [Getzler, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 186]
<p>
Thus the dominant political perspective in 1917 was one of <i>"sovietism"</i> 
-- namely, all power to the soviets and  nnot to parties. This was the 
main demand of the 1921 uprising. Politically, Kronstadt had not 
changed.
<p>
In addition to the soviet, there was the <i>"general meetings in Anchor 
square, which were held nearly every day."</i> [Avrich, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 57] 
The Kronstadt Soviet was itself constantly pressurised by mass 
meetings, generally held in Anchor Square. For example, on 25 May 
1917, a large crowd, inspired by Bolshevik and anarchist speakers, 
marched to the Naval Assembly and forced the leaders of the Soviet 
to rescind their agreement with the more moderate Petrograd Soviet. 
In February 1921, the Kronstadt rebels met in Anchor square to pass 
the <b><i>Petropavlovsk</i></b> resolution -- just as happened before in 1917. 
And as in 1917, they elected a <i>"conference of delegates"</i> to manage 
the affairs of the Kronstadt. In other words, the sailors re-introduced
exactly the same political forms they practised in 1917.
<p>
These facts suggest that any claims that the majority of sailors, 
soldiers and workers in Kronstadt had changed ideas politically are 
unfounded. This, ironically enough, is confirmed by Trotsky.
<p>
Trotsky's memory (which, after all, seems to be the basis
of most of his and his followers arguments) does play
tricks on him. He states that there <i>"were no Mensheviks
at all in Kronstadt."</i> As for the anarchists, <i>"most"</i> 
of them <i>"represented the city petty bourgeoisie and 
stood at a lower level than the SRs."</i> The Left SRs
<i>"based themselves on the peasant part of the fleet 
and of the shore garrison."</i> All in all, <i>"in the days of
the October insurrection the Bolsheviks constituted less
than one-half of the Kronstadt soviet. The majority
consisted of SRs and anarchists."</i> [Lenin and Trotsky,
<b>Kronstadt</b>, p. 86] 
<p>
So we have Trotsky arguing that the majority of the <i>"pride 
and glory"</i> of the revolution in 1917 voted for groups
of a <i>"lower level"</i> than the Bolsheviks (and for a party,
the Mensheviks, Trotsky said did not exist there!). 
<p>
Looking at the politics of these groups, we discover
some strange inconsistencies which undermine the validity 
of Trotsky's claims. 
<p>
For example, in the beginning of 1918, <i>"the working 
population of Kronstadt, after debating the subject 
at many meetings, decided to proceed to socialise 
dwelling places. . . A final monster meeting definitely 
instructed several members of the Soviet -- Left 
Social-Revolutionaries and Anarcho-Syndicalists -- 
to raise the question at the next [soviet] plenary 
session."</i> While the Bolshevik delegates tried to 
postpone the decision (arguing in the soviet that the 
decision was too important and should be decided by 
the central government) the <i>"Left Social-Revolutionaries, 
Maximalists and Anarcho-Syndicalists asked for an 
immediate discussion and carried the vote."</i> [Voline, 
<b>The Unknown Revolution</b>, pp. 460-1] 
<p>
This fits in exactly with the communist-anarchist 
programme of socialisation but it is hardly an expression
of representatives of <i>"the city petty bourgeoisie."</i>
<p>
Let us quote a <i>"representative"</i> of the <i>"city petty
bourgeoisie"</i>:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"I am an anarchist because contemporary society is
divided into two opposing classes: the impoverished
and dispossessed workers and peasants . . . and the
rich men, kings and presidents . . .
<p>
"I am an anarchist because I scorn and detest all
authority, since all authority is founded on 
injustice, exploitation and compulsion over the
human personality. Authority dehumanises the
individual and makes him a slave.
<p>
"I am an opponent of private property when it is
held by individual capitalist parasites, for private
property is theft. . .
<p>
"I am an anarchist because I believe only in the
creative powers and independence of a united 
proletariat and not of the leaders of political
parties of various kinds.
<p>
"I am an anarchist because I believe that the
present struggle between the classes will end
only when the toiling masses, organised as a
class, gain their true interests and conquer,
by means of a violent social revolution, all
the riches of the earth . . . having abolished
all institutions of government and authority,
the oppressed class must proclaim a society of
free producers . . . The popular masses themselves
will conduct their affairs on equal and communal
lines in free communities."</i> [N. Petrov, cited by
Paul Avrich, <b>Anarchists in the Russian Revolution</b>, 
pp. 35-6]
</blockquote><p>
Very "petty bourgeois"! Of course Trotsky could argue that 
this represented the minority of <i>"real revolutionaries,"</i> 
the <i>"elements most closely linked to the Bolsheviks"</i> 
among the anarchists, but such an analysis cannot be
taken seriously considering the influence of the
anarchists in Kronstadt. [Lenin and Trotsky, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, 
p. 86] For example, a member of the Petrograd Committee 
and the Helsingfors party organisation in 1917 recalled
that the Anarchist-Communists had great influence
in Kronstadt. Moreover, according to historian
Alexander Rabinowitch, they had an <i>"undeniable
capacity to influence the course of events"</i> and 
he speaks of <i>"the influential Anarcho-Syndicalist
Communists [of Kronstadt] under Iarchuk."</i> Indeed,
anarchists <i>"played a significant role in starting
the July uprising"</i> in 1917. [<b>Prelude to Revolution</b>,
p. 62, p. 63, p. 187 and p. 138] This confirms Paul
Avrich's comments that the <i>"influence of the anarchists
. . . had always been strong within the fleet"</i> and
<i>"the spirit of anarchism"</i> had been <i>"powerful in
Kronstadt in 1917"</i> (and <i>"had by no means dissipated"</i>
in 1921). [Arvich, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 168 and p. 169]
<p>
A similar analysis of the Maximalists would produce
the same results for Trotsky's claims. Paul Avrich 
provides a useful summary of their politics. He notes 
the Maximalists occupied <i>"a place in the revolutionary
spectrum between the Left SR's and the anarchists
while sharing elements of both."</i> They <i>"preached a
doctrine of total revolution"</i> and called for a
<i>"'toilers' soviet republic' founded on freely elected
soviets, with a minimum of central state authority.
Politically, this was identical with the objective
of the Kronstadters [in 1921], and 'Power to the
soviets but not the parties' had originally been a
Maximalist rallying-cry."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 171] 
<p>
Economically, the parallels <i>"are no less striking."</i>
They denounced grain requisitioning and demanded that
<i>"all the land be turned over to the peasants."</i>
For industry they rejected the Bolshevik theory
and practice of <i>"workers' control"</i> over bourgeois
administrators in favour of the <i>"social organisation
of production and its systematic direction by
representatives of the toiling people."</i> Opposed
to nationalisation and centralised state management
in favour of socialisation and workers' 
self-management of production. Little wonder he 
states that the <i>"political group closest to the 
rebels in temperament and outlook were the SR 
Maximalists."</i> [Paul Avrich, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, pp. 171-2] 
<p>
Indeed, <i>"[o]n nearly every important point the
Kronstadt program, as set forth in the rebel
<b><i>Izvestiia</i></b>, coincided with that of the Maximalists."</i>
[Avrich, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 171] This can be quickly seen 
from reading both the <b><i>Petropavlovsk</i></b> resolution and 
the Kronstadt newspaper <b><i>Izvestiia</i></b> (see <b>No Gods, No 
Masters</b>, vol. 2, pp. 183-204). The political continuity
is striking between 1917 and 1921.
<p>
As can be seen, the Maximalists were in advance of
the Bolsheviks too. They argued for soviet power,
not party power, as well as workers' self-management
to replace the state capitalism of the Bolsheviks.
<p>
Clearly, the political outlook of the Kronstadt rebels
had not changed dramatically. Heavily influenced by 
anarchist and semi-anarchists in 1917, in 1921 the same
political ideas came to the fore again once the sailors,
soldiers and civilians had freed themselves from Bolshevik
dictatorship and created the <i>"conference of delegates."</i>
<p>
According to the logic of Trotsky's argument, the
Kronstadt sailors were revolutionary simply because of
the actions of the Bolshevik minority, as a <i>"revolution
is 'made' directly by a <b>minority.</b> The success of a
revolution is possible, however, only where this
minority finds more or less support . . . on the
part of the majority. The shift in different stages
of the revolution . . . is directly determined by
changing political relations between the minority
and the majority, between the vanguard and the class."</i>
It is this reason that necessitates <i>"the dictatorship
of the proletariat"</i> as the level of the masses cannot
be <i>"equal"</i> and of <i>"extremely high development."</i> Trotsky 
argued that the <i>"political composition of the Kronstadt 
Soviet reflected the composition of the garrison and the 
crews."</i> [Lenin and Trotsky, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 85, p. 92 and 
p. 86] 
<p>
In other words, with the vanguard (the minority of Bolsheviks) 
gone, the majority of the Kronstadters fell back to their less 
developed ways. So, if the political composition of the revolt 
reflected the composition of the crews, then Trotsky's argument
suggests that this composition was remarkably unchanged! It
also suggests that this <i>"composition"</i> had changed in the
early months of 1918 as the Bolsheviks saw their vote 
nearly half between late January and April 1918!
<p>
Similarly, we find John Rees, in contradiction to his main 
argument, mentioning that the <i>"ideology of the Kronstadt 
garrison was one factor"</i> in the revolt because <i>"in its 
heroic days the garrison had an ultra-left air."</i> [Rees, <b>Op. Cit.</b>,
p. 62] If, as he maintains, the sailors <b>were</b> new, how could 
they had time to be influenced by this ideology, the ideology of 
sailors he claims were not there? And if the new recruits
he claims were there <b>had</b> been influenced by the sailors
of 1917 then it is hard to maintain that the revolt was
alien to the spirit of 1917.
<p>
All of which raises an interesting question. If revolutions
are made by a minority who gain the support of the majority, 
what happens when the majority reject the vanguard? As we 
indicate in sections 
<a href="secH5.html#sech513">H.5.13</a> and 
<a href="secH5.html#sech515">H.5.15</a>, Trotsky was not shy in 
providing the answer -- party dictatorship. In this he just 
followed the logic of Lenin's arguments. In 1905, Lenin argued 
(and using Engels as an authority) <i>"the principle, 'only from 
below' is an <b>anarchist</b> principle."</i> For Lenin, Marxists must 
be in favour of <i>"From above as well as from below"</i> and 
<i>"renunciation of pressure also from above is <b>anarchism.</b>"</i> 
According to Lenin, <i>"[p]ressure from below is pressure by the 
citizens on the revolutionary government. Pressure from above is 
pressure by the revolutionary government on the citizens."</i> 
[Marx, Engels and Lenin, <b>Anarchism and Anarcho-Syndicalism</b>, 
p. 192, p. 196 and pp. 189-90]
<p>
As Kronstadt shows, <i>"pressure from above"</i> has a slight advantage 
over <i>"pressure from below"</i> as it has the full power of the
state apparatus to use against the citizens. In other words, 
the seeds for Bolshevik dictatorship and the repression of 
Kronstadt lie in Trotsky's argument and arguments like it 
(see <a href="secH5.html#sech515">section H.5.15</a> 
for further details).
<p>
Simply put, the evidence shows that the political ideas
dominant in Kronstadt, like the bulk of the personnel themselves,
had not changed (indeed, it is these politics which visibly
show the statistical evidence we present in the 
<a href="secH5.html#sech58">last section</a>). 
The revolt of 1921 reflected the politics and aspirations of 
those active in 1917. It were these politics which had made 
Kronstadt the <i>"pride and glory"</i> of the revolution in 1917 and, 
four years later, made it so dangerous to the Bolsheviks.
<p>
<a name="sech510"><H2>H.5.10 Why did the Petrograd workers 
not support Kronstadt?</H2>
<p>
For Trotskyists, the inaction of the Petrograd workers
during the revolt is a significant factor in showing its
<i>"backward peasant"</i> character. Trotsky, for example, argued
that from <i>"the class point of view"</i> it is <i>"extremely
important to contrast the behaviour of Kronstadt to that
of Petrograd in those critical days."</i> He argues that
the <i>"uprising did not attract the Petrograd workers.
It repelled them. The stratification proceeded along
class lines. The workers immediately felt that the
Kronstadt mutineers stood on the opposite side of
the barricades -- and they supported the Soviet
power. The political isolation of Kronstadt was the
cause of its internal uncertainty and its military
defeat."</i> [Lenin and Trotsky, <b>Kronstadt</b>, pp. 90-1]
<p>
Needless to say, Trotsky's arguments leave a lot
to be desired. For example, he fails to note (to
use Victor Serge's words -- see 
<a href="secH5.html#sech55">section H.5.5</a>)
that the state and Communist Press <i>"was positively 
berserk with lies."</i> The press and radio campaign
directed against Kronstadt stated that the revolt
had been organised by foreign spies and was led by 
ex-Tsarist generals. 
<p>
On 5th March the Petrograd Defence Committee put out a call 
to the insurgents, inviting them to surrender. It stated:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"You are being told fairy tales when they tell you that 
Petrograd is with you or that the Ukraine supports you. 
These are impertinent lies. The last sailor in Petrograd 
abandoned you when he learned that you were led by generals 
like Kozlovskv. Siberia and the Ukraine support the Soviet 
power. Red Petrograd laughs at the miserable efforts of a 
handful of White Guards and Socialist Revolutionaries."</i>
[cited by Mett, <b>The Kronstadt Uprising</b>, p. 50]
</blockquote><p>
These lies would, of course, alienate many workers in Petrograd. 
Two hundred emissaries were sent from Kronstadt to distribute 
their demands but only a few avoided capture. The Party had 
brought the full weight of its propaganda machine to bear, 
lying about the revolt and those taking part in it. The government 
also placed a <i>"careful watch"</i> on the <i>"trains from Petrograd to
mainland points in the direction of Kronstadt to prevent any 
contact with the insurgents."</i> [Avrich, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 140 and
p. 141]
<p>
Unsurprising, in such circumstances many workers, soldiers and 
sailors would have been loath to support Kronstadt. Isolated 
from the revolt, the Petrograd workers had to reply on official
propaganda (i.e. lies) and rumours to base any judgement
on what was happening there. However, while this is a factor
in the lack of active support, it is by no means the key one.
This factor, of course, was state repression. Emma Goldman 
indicates the situation in Petrograd at the time:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"An exceptional state of martial law was imposed throughout the 
entire province of Petrograd, and no one except officials with 
special passes could leave the city now. The Bolshevik press 
launched a campaign of calumny and venom against Kronstadt,
announcing that the sailors and soldiers had made common cause 
with the 'tsarist General Kozlovsky;' they were thereby declaring 
the Kronstadters outlaws."</i> [<b>No Gods, No Masters</b>, vol. 2, p. 171]
</blockquote>
<p>
Given what everyone knew what happened to people outlawed by the 
Bolsheviks, is it surprising that many workers in Petrograd (even 
if they knew they were being lied to) did not act? Moreover,
the threat made against Kronstadt could be seen on the streets 
of Petrograd:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"On March 3 [the day after the revolt] the Petrograd Defence
Committee, now vested with absolute power throughout the
entire province, took stern measures to prevent any further
disturbances. The city became a vast garrison, with troops
patrolling in every quarter. Notices posted on the walls
reminded the citizenry that all gatherings would be 
dispersed and those who resisted shot on the spot. During
the day the streets were nearly deserted, and, with the
curfew now set at 9 p.m., night life ceased altogether."</i>
[Avrich, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 142]
</blockquote><p>
Berkman, an eyewitness to the repression, states that:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"The Petrograd committee of defence, directed by Zinoviev, 
its chairman, assumed full control of the city and Province 
of Petrograd. The whole Northern District was put under 
martial law and all meetings prohibited. Extraordinary 
precautions were taken to protect the Government 
institutions and machine guns were placed in the 
Astoria, the hotel occupied by Zinoviev and other high 
Bolshevik functionaries. The proclamations posted on the 
street bulletin boards ordered the immediate return of 
all strikers to the factories, prohibited suspension of 
work, and warned the people against congregating on the 
streets. 'In such cases', the order read, 'the soldiery 
will resort to arms. In case of resistance, shooting on 
the spot.'
<p>
"The committee of defence took up the systematic 'cleaning 
of the city.' Numerous workers, soldiers and sailors suspected 
of sympathising with Kronstadt, placed under arrest. All 
Petrograd sailors and several Army regiments thought to be 
'politically untrustworthy' were ordered to distant points, 
while the families of Kronstadt sailors living in Petrograd 
were taken into custody as <b>hostages.</b>"</i> [<b>The Russian
Tragedy</b>, p. 71]
</blockquote><p>
However, part of the Petrograd proletariat continued to strike 
during the Kronstadt events. Strikes were continuing in the 
biggest factories of Petrograd: Poutilov, Baltisky, Oboukhov, 
Nievskaia Manoufactura, etc. However, the Bolsheviks acted 
quickly shut down some of the factories and started the 
re-registration of the workers. For workers to be locked 
out of a factory meant to be <i>"automatically deprived of 
their rations."</i> [Avrich, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 41]
<p>
At the "Arsenal" factory, <i>"the workers organised a mass meeting on 
7th March, (the day the bombardment of Kronstadt began). This 
meeting adopted a resolution of the mutinous sailors! It elected 
a commission which was to go from factory to factory, agitating 
for a general strike."</i> [Mett, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 52] The Cheka confirms
this event, reporting to Zinoviev on March 8th that <i>"[a]t a rally 
of workers of the Arsenal Plant a resolution was passed to join the
Kronstadt uprising. The general meeting had elected a delegation
to maintain contact with Kronstadt."</i> This delegation had already
been arrested. This was a common practice and during this period
the Cheka concentrated its efforts on the leaders and on
disrupting communication: all delegates to other workplaces,
all Mensheviks and SRs who could be found, all speakers at
rallies were being arrested day after day. On the day the 
Bolsheviks attacked Kronstadt (March 7th) the Cheka reported 
that it was launching <i>"decisive actions against the workers."</i>
[quoted by Brovkin, <b>Behind the Front Lines of the Civil
War</b>, p. 396]
<p>
These <i>"decisive actions"</i> involved a <i>"massive purge of Petrograd
factories and plants."</i> The Communists <i>"suppressed the workers'
uprising in Petrograd in the first days of March."</i> Unlike
the Kronstadt sailors, the workers did not have weapons and
<i>"were essentially defenceless vis-a-vis the Cheka."</i> [Brovkin,
<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 396]
<p>
The state of siege was finally lifted on the 22nd of March, 
five days after the crushing of Kronstadt.
<p>
In these circumstances, is it surprising that the Petrograd 
workers did not join in the rebellion?
<p>
Moreover, the Petrograd workers had just experienced the 
might of the Bolshevik state. As we noted in 
<a href="secH5.html#sech52">section H.5.2</a>, 
the events in Kronstadt were in solidarity with the strike 
wave in Petrograd at the end of February. Then the Bolsheviks 
had repressed the workers with <i>"arrests, the use of armed 
patrols in the streets and in the factories, and the closing 
and re-registration of an enterprise labour force."</i> [Mary
McAuley, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 409] 
<p>
A three-man Defence Committee was formed and Zinoviev 
<i>"proclaimed martial law"</i> on February 24th (this was later 
<i>"vested with absolute power throughout the entire province"</i> 
on March 3rd). [Avrich, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 39 and p. 142] As
part of this process, they had to rely on the <i><b>kursanty</b></i>
(Communist officer cadets) as the local garrisons had
been caught up the general ferment and could not be
relied upon to carry out the government's orders. 
Hundreds of <i><b>kursanty</b></i> were called in from neighbouring
military academies to patrol the city. <i>"Overnight
Petrograd became an armed camp. In every quarter 
pedestrians were stopped and their documents checked
. . . the curfew [was] strictly enforced."</i> The
Petrograd Cheka made widespread arrests. [Avrich,
<b>Op. Cit.</b>, pp. 46-7]
<p>
As can be seen, Trotsky is insulting the intelligence of his 
readers by arguing that the lack of support in Petrograd for 
Kronstadt reflected <i>"class lines."</i> Indeed, by failing
to mention (to use Emma Goldman's words) <i>"the campaign 
of slander, lies and calumny against the sailors"</i> conducted
by the Soviet Press (which <i>"fairly oozed poison against the 
sailors"</i>) or that <i>"Petrograd was put under martial law"</i> 
Trotsky, quite clearly, <i>"deliberately falsifies the 
facts."</i> [<b>Trotsky Protests Too Much</b>]
<p>
Ida Mett states the obvious:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Here again Trotsky is saying things which are quite untrue. 
Earlier on we showed how the wave of strikes had started in 
Petrograd and how Kronstadt had followed suit. It was against 
the strikers of Petrograd that the Government had to organise 
a special General Staff: the Committee of Defence. The repression 
was first directed against the Petrograd workers and against 
their demonstrations, by the despatch of armed detachments 
of Koursantys.
<p>
"But the workers of Petrograd had no weapons. They could not 
defend themselves as could the Kronstadt sailors. The military 
repression directed against Kronstadt certainly intimidated the
Petrograd workers. The demarcation did not take place 'along 
class lines' but according to the respective strengths of the 
organs of repression. The fact that the workers of Petrograd 
did not follow those of Kronstadt does not prove that they 
did not sympathise with them. Nor, at a later date, when 
the Russian proletariat failed to follow the various 
'oppositions' did this prove that they were in agreement 
with Stalin! In such instances it was a question of the 
respective strengths of the forces confronting one
another."</i> [Mett, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 73]
</blockquote><p>
So, unlike the Kronstadt sailors, the Petrograd workers did 
not have arms and so could not take part in an "armed revolt" 
against the well armed Red Army unless part of that force 
sided with the strikers. The Communist leaders recognised 
this danger, with untrustworthy troops being confined to their
barracks and in place of regular troops they had shipped 
in <i><b>kursanty</b></i> (they had obviously learned the lessons of
the 1917 February revolution!). Ultimately, the city was 
<i>"appeased by concessions and cowed by the presence of 
troops."</i> [Avrich, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 200] 
<p>
Not that this was the first time Trotsky confused force
with class. In his infamous work <b>Communism and Terrorism</b>
he defended the fact of Communist Party dictatorship (i.e.
<i>"of having substituted for the dictatorship of the Soviets 
the dictatorship of our party"</i>). He argued that <i>"it can 
be said with complete justice that the dictatorship of 
the Soviets became possible only by means of the dictatorship 
of the party"</i> and that there is <i>"no substitution at all"</i> when
the <i>"power of the party"</i> replaces that of the working class.
The rule of the party <i>"has afforded to the Soviets the 
possibility of becoming transformed from shapeless parliaments 
of labour into the apparatus of the supremacy of labour."</i> He 
continued by arguing:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"But where is your guarantee, certain wise men ask us, 
that it is just your party that expresses the interests 
of historical development? Destroying or driving underground 
the other parties, you have thereby prevented their political 
competition with you, and consequently you have deprived 
yourselves of the possibility of testing your line of action. 
<p>
"This idea is dictated by a purely liberal conception of the 
course of the revolution. In a period in which all antagonisms 
assume an open character, and the political struggle swiftly 
passes into a civil war, the ruling party has sufficient 
material standard by which to test its line of action, 
without the possible circulation of Menshevik papers. Noske 
crushes the Communists, but they grow. We have suppressed 
the Mensheviks and the S.R.s-and they have disappeared. 
This criterion is sufficient for us."</i> [<b>Communism and 
Terrorism</b>]
</blockquote><p>
An interesting criterion, to say the least. The faulty
logic he displayed with regards to Petrograd and Kronstadt
had a long history. By this logic Hitler expressed the <i>"interests 
of historical development"</i> when the German Communists and
Trotskyists <i>"disappeared"</i> by leaps and bounds. Similarly,
the Trotskyists in Russia <i>"disappeared"</i> under Stalin. Is 
this a Trotskyist justification of Stalinism? All it 
proves is the power of the repressive system -- just as 
the "passivity" of the Petrograd workers during the Kronstadt 
revolt indicates the power of the Bolshevik regime rather than 
the class basis of the Kronstadt uprising.
<p>
On this theme, we can see the depths which Trotskyists go to 
re-write history from Pierre Frank's <i>"Introduction"</i> to the work 
<b>Kronstadt</b>. He decides to quote Paul Avrich's work (after, of 
course, warning the reader that Avrich <i>"is not a Bolshevik or a 
Trotskyist"</i> and his <i>"political features are blurred"</i>). Frank 
states that Avrich <i>"done his work conscientiously, without 
skipping over the facts."</i> It is a shame that the same cannot 
be said of Frank! Frank states that Avrich <i>"discusses the 
strikes in Petrograd preceding Kronstadt and comes to the 
following conclusion"</i>:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"For many intellectuals and workers, moreover, the Bolsheviks,
with all their faults, were still the most effective barrier
to a White resurgence and the downfall of the revolution.
<p>
"For these reasons, the strikes in Petrograd were fated 
to lead a brief existence. Indeed, they ended almost as 
suddenly as they had begun, never having reached the
point of armed revolt against the regime."</i> [Lenin and
Trotsky, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, pp. 24-35]
</blockquote><p>
It is the <i>"moreover"</i> in the first paragraph that gives the 
game away. Avrich lists a few more reasons than the one listed
by Frank. Here is what Avrich actually lists as the reasons
for the end of the strike wave:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"after several days of tense excitement, the Petrograd
disturbances petered out . . . The concessions had done
their work, for more than anything else it was cold
and hunger which had stimulated popular disaffection.
Yet there is no denying that the application of military
force and the widespread arrests, not to speak of the
tireless propaganda waged by the authorities had been
indispensable in restoring order. Particularly impressive
in this regard was the discipline shown by the local
party organisation. Setting aside their internal disputes,
the Petrograd Bolsheviks swiftly closed ranks and 
proceeded to carry out the unpleasant task of repression
with efficiency and dispatch . . .
<p>
"Then, too, the collapse of the movement would not have
come so soon but for the utter demoralisation of 
Petrograd's inhabitants. The workers were simply too
exhausted to keep up any sustained political activity
. . . What is more, they lacked effective leadership
and a coherent program of action. In the past these
had been supplied by the radical intelligentsia . . .
[but they] were themselves in no condition to lend
the workers any meaningful support, let alone active
guidance . . . they now felt too weary and terrorised
. . . to raise their voices in opposition. With most
of their comrades in prison or exile, and some already
executed, few of the survivors were willing to risk
the same fate, especially when the odds against them
were so overwhelming and when the slightest protest
might deprive their families of their rations. For 
many intellectuals and workers, moreover, the Bolsheviks,
with all their faults, were still the most effective barrier
to a White resurgence and the downfall of the revolution.
<p>
"For these reasons, the strikes in Petrograd were fated 
to lead a brief existence. Indeed, they ended almost as 
suddenly as they had begun, never having reached the
point of armed revolt against the regime."</i> [Paul
Avrich, <b>Kronstadt</b>, pp. 49-51]
</blockquote><p>
As can be seen, Frank <i>"skips over"</i> most of Avrich's
argument and the basis of his conclusion. Indeed, 
what Frank calls Avrich's "conclusion" cannot be
understood by providing, as Frank does, the <b>last</b>
reason Avrich gives for it.
<p>
The dishonesty is clear, if not unexpected nor an
isolated case. John Rees, to use another example,
states that the revolt was <i>"preceded by a wave of
serious but quickly resolved strikes."</i> [Rees, <b>Op. Cit.</b>,
p. 61] No mention that the strikes were <i>"resolved"</i>
by force nor that the Kronstadt revolt was not only 
<i>"preceded"</i> by the strikes but was directly inspired by
them, was in <b>solidarity with them</b> and raised many
of the same demands!
<p>
Similarly, he argues that the Kronstadters' <i>"insistence 
that they were fighting for a 'third revolution', freedom 
of expression and for 'soviets without parties' [although, 
in fact, they <b>never</b> raised that slogan and so we have to 
wonder who Rees is quoting here] has convinced many historians 
that this revolt was fundamentally distinct from the White 
Rebellions."</i> But this, apparently, is not the case as <i>"one 
must be careful to analyse the difference between the conscious 
aims of the rebels and the possible outcome of their actions. 
The Bolshevik regime still rested on the shattered remnants 
of the working class. The Kronstadt sailors' appeals to the 
Petrograd workers had met with little or no response."</i>
[<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 63]
<p>
One has to wonder what planet Rees is on. After all, <b>if</b> the
Bolsheviks <b>had</b> rested on the <i>"shattered remnants of the
working class"</i> then they would <b>not</b> have had to turn 
Petrograd into an armed camp, repress the strikes, impose
martial law and arrest militant workers. The Kronstadt sailors
appeals <i>"met with little or no response"</i> due to the Bolshevik
coercion exercised in those fateful days. To not mention the
Bolshevik repression in Petrograd is to deliberately deceive 
the reader. That the Kronstadt demands would have met with 
strong response in Petrograd can be seen from the actions of 
the Bolsheviks (who did not rest upon the workers but rather 
arrested them). Given that the Kronstadt demands simply reflected
those raised by the Petrograd strikers <b>themselves</b> we can 
safely say that Rees is talking nonsense (see 
<a href="secH5.html#sech54">section H.5.4</a>).
Moreover, the sailors' resolution <b>had</b> meet with strong support 
from the workers of Kronstadt. Thus Rees' "class analysis" of
the Kronstadt revolt is pathetic and has no bearing to the
reality of the situation in Petrograd nor to the history of 
the revolt itself.
<p>
As can be seen, any attempt to use the relative inaction
of the Petrograd workers as evidence of the class nature
of the revolt has to do so by ignoring all the relevant
facts of the situation. This can go so far as to selectively
quote from academic accounts to present a radically false
conclusion to that of the misused author's.
<p>
<a name="sech511"><H2>H.5.11 Were the Whites a threat during 
the Kronstadt revolt?</H2>
<p>
The lack of foreign intervention during the Kronstadt
revolt suggests more than just the fact that the revolt
was not a "White conspiracy." It also suggests that 
the White forces were in no position to take advantage 
of the rebellion or even support it.
<p>
This is significant simply because the Bolsheviks and their
supporters argue that the revolt had to be repressed simply
because the Soviet State was in danger of White and/or
foreign intervention. How much danger was there? According
to John Rees, a substantial amount:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"The Whites, even though their armies had been beaten
in the field, were still not finished -- as the emigre
response to the Kronstadt rising shows . . . They had
predicted a rising at Kronstadt and the White National
Centre abroad raised a total of nearly 1 million French
Francs, 2 million Finnish marks, �5000, $25,000 and 900
tons of flour in just two weeks; Indeed, the National
Centre was already making plans for the forces of the
French navy and those of General Wrangel, who still
commanded 70,000 men in Turkey, to land in Kronstadt
if the revolt were to succeed."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, pp. 63-4]
</blockquote><p>
To back up his argument, Rees references Paul Avrich's
book. We, in turn, will consult that work to evaluate his 
argument. 
<p>
Firstly, the Kronstadt revolt broke out months after the end 
of the Civil War in Western Russia. Wrangel had fled from the 
Crimea in November 1920. The Bolsheviks were so afraid of White 
invasion that by early 1921 they demobilised half the Red Army 
(some 2,500,000 men). [Paul Avrich, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 13] 
<p>
Secondly, the Russian emigres <i>"remained as divided and 
ineffectual as before, with no prospect of co-operation 
in sight."</i> [Avrich, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 219]
<p>
Thirdly, as far as Wrangel, the last of the White 
Generals, goes, his forces were in no state to re-invade 
Russia. His troops were <i>"dispersed and their moral sagging"</i> 
and it would have taken <i>"months . . . merely to mobilise
his men and transport them from the Mediterranean to the
Baltic."</i> A second front in the south <i>"would have meant 
almost certain disaster."</i> Indeed, in a call issued by 
the Petrograd Defence Committee on March 5th, they asked
the rebels: <i>"Haven't you heard what happened to Wrangel's men, 
who are dying like flies, in their thousands of hunger and 
disease?"</i> The call goes on to add <i>"[t]his is the fate that 
awaits you, unless you surrender within 24 hours."</i> [Avrich, 
<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 219, p. 146 and p. 105] 
<p>
Clearly, the prospect of a White invasion was slim. This 
leaves the question of capitalist governments. Avrich has 
this to say on this:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Apart from their own energetic fund-raising campaign,
the emigres sought the assistance of the Entene powers.
. . . the United States government, loath to resume
the interventionist policies of the Civil War, turned
a deaf ear to all such appeals. The prospects of British
aid were even dimmer . . . The best hope of foreign
support came from France . . . the French refused to
interfere either politically or militarily in the
crisis."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, pp. 117-9]
</blockquote><p>
The French government had also <i>"withdrew its recognition of Wrangel's 
defunct government"</i> in November 1920 <i>"but continued to feed his 
troops on 'humane grounds,' meanwhile urging him to disband."</i> 
[<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 105]
<p>
Thus, the claim that foreign intervention was likely seems 
without basis. Indeed, the Communist radio was arguing that
<i>"the organisation of disturbances in Kronstadt have the sole 
purpose of influencing the new American President and changing 
his policy toward Russia. At the same time the London Conference 
is holding its sessions, and the spreading of similar rumours 
must influence also the Turkish delegation and make it more 
submissive to the demands of the Entente. The rebellion the 
<b><i>Petropavlovsk</i></b> crew is undoubtedly part of a great conspiracy 
to create trouble within Soviet Russia and to injure our 
international position."</i> [quoted by Berkman, <b>The Russian
Tragedy</b>, p. 71] Lenin himself argued on March 16th that <i>"the 
enemies"</i> around the Bolshevik state were <i>"no longer able to 
wage their war of intervention"</i> and so were launching a press 
campaign <i>"with the prime object of disrupting the negotiations 
for a trade agreement with Britain, and the forthcoming trade 
agreement with America."</i> [Lenin and Trotsky, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 52] 
The demobilising of the Red Army seems to confirm this perspective.
<p>
Moreover, these governments had to take into account
of its own working class. It was doubtful that they
would, after years of war, been able to intervene,
particularly if there was a clearly socialist revolt
coming from below. Their own working class, in such a
situation, would have prevented intervention by 
foreign capitalist states (a fact Lenin acknowledged
in July 1921 [Lenin and Trotsky, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 62]).
<p>
So in spite of massive social unrest and the revolt of a
key fortress protecting Petrograd, the Western powers took
no action. The Whites were disorganised and could only raise
non-military supplies (none of which reached Kronstadt). Could
this situation have changed if Kronstadt had spread to the
mainland? It is doubtful simply because the Western governments,
as Lenin argued, had to take into account the anti-interventionist
position of their own working classes. The Whites had no military
forces available (as the Bolsheviks themselves argued). Avrich
notes it would have taken months for these forces to reach
Kronstadt by which time soviet democracy would have been
consolidated and ready to protect itself.
<p>
Even if we assume that Kronstadt had survived until the ice
melted while Petrograd remained under Bolshevik dictatorship
it, again, is doubtful that it would have been the basis
for renewed White attacks. Neither Wrangel's troops nor
foreign government forces would have been welcomed by Red 
Kronstadt. While non-military aid would have been welcome 
(i.e. food supplies and so on), it is hard to believe that 
the Conference of Delegates would have allowed troops to
arrive or pass them by to attack Petrograd. Simply put,
the Kronstadters were fighting for soviet power and were
well aware that others may try to support the revolt for 
their own, anti-revolutionary, reasons (see 
<a href="secH5.html#sech57">section H.5.7</a>).
<p>
So it seems that the possibility of foreign intervention was 
not a real threat at the time. The arguments of Lenin at the
time, plus the demobilisation of the Red Army, points in
that direction. Moreover, the total lack of response by
Western governments during the revolt indicates that they
were unlikely to take advantage of continuing unrest in Kronstadt,
Petrograd and other towns and cities. Their working classes,
sick of war and class consciousness enough to resist another
intervention in Russia, would have been a factor in this
apathetic response. Wrangel's troops, as the Bolsheviks
were aware, were not a threat. 
<p>
The only real threat to Bolshevik power was internal --
from the workers and peasants the Bolsheviks claimed
to be representing. Many of the ex-soldiers swelled
the ranks of peasant guerrilla forces, fighting the
repressive (and counter-productive) food collection
squads. In the Ukraine, the Bolsheviks were fighting
the remnants of the Makhnovist army (a fight, incidentally,
brought upon the Bolsheviks by themselves as they had
betrayed the agreements made with the anarchist forces
and attacked them once Wrangel had been defeated). 
<p>
Thus the only potential danger facing the "soviet power" (i.e.
Bolshevik power) was soviet democracy, a danger which had 
existed since the October revolution. As in 1918, when the 
Bolsheviks disbanded and repressed any soviet electorate 
which rejected their power, they met the danger of soviet 
democracy with violence. The Bolsheviks were convinced that 
their own dictatorship was equivalent to the revolution 
and that their power was identical to that of the working 
class. They considered themselves to be the embodiment of
"soviet power" and it obviously did not bother them that
the demand for free soviets can hardly be considered as
actions against the power of the soviets. 
<p>
In such circumstances, the Bolshevik government viewed 
the Kronstadt revolt <b>not</b> as socialists should but rather 
as a ruling class. It was suppressed for "reasons of state" 
and not to defend a revolutionary regime (which was, by 
this stage, revolutionary in name only). As Bakunin had
argued decades before, the "workers' state" would not remain
controlled by the workers for long and would soon became
a dictatorship <b>over</b> the proletariat by an elite which
claimed to know the interests of the working class better
than they did themselves (see 
<a href="secH5.html#sech515">section H.5.15</a>).
<p>
The only possible justification for maintaining the party
dictatorship was the argument that soviet democracy would
have lead to the defeat of the Communists at the polls
(which would mean recognising it was a dictatorship <b>over</b>
the proletariat and had been for some time). This would,
it is argued, have resulted in (eventually) a return of the
Whites and an anti-working class dictatorship that would
have slaughtered the Russian workers and peasants en mass.
<p>
Such a position is self-serving and could have been used
by Stalin to justify <b>his</b> regime. Unsurprisingly enough,
the Hungarian Stalinists argued after crushing the 1956
revolution that <i>"the dictatorship of the proletariat, if
overthrown, cannot be succeeded by any form of government
other than fascist counter-revolution."</i> [quoted by Andy
Anderson, <b>Hungary '56</b>, p. 101] And, of course, an even
more anti-working class dictatorship than Lenin's did appear 
which did slaughter the Russian workers and peasants en mass, 
namely Stalinism. No other option was possible, once party 
dictatorship was fully embraced in 1921 (repression against
dissidents was <b>more</b> extreme after the end of the Civil War 
than during it). It is utopian in the extreme to believe that 
the good intentions of the dictators would have been enough to 
keep the regime within some kind of limits. Thus this argument 
is flawed as it seriously suggests that dictatorship and bureaucracy
can reform itself (we discuss this in more detail in 
<a href="secH5.html#sech513">section H.5.13</a>).
<p>
<a name="sech512"><H2>H.5.12 Was the country too exhausted to allow soviet democracy?</H2>
<p>
Trotskyists have, in general, two main lines of attack with
regards the Kronstadt revolt. The main one is the claim that
the garrison in 1921 was not of the same class composition
as the one in 1917. This meant that the 1921 revolt expressed
the peasant counter-revolution and had to be destroyed. We
have indicated that, firstly, the garrison was essentially
the same in 1921 as it had been in 1917 (see 
<a href="secH5.html#sech58">section H.5.8</a>).
Secondly, we have shown that politically the ideas expressed
in its program were the same as those in 1917 (see 
<a href="secH5.html#sech59">section H.5.9</a>). 
Thirdly, that this program had many of the same points
as strikers resolutions in Petrograd and, indeed, were
<b>more</b> socialist in many cases by clearly calling for soviet 
democracy rather the constituent assembly (see 
<a href="secH5.html#sech54">section H.5.4</a>).
<p>
Now we turn to the second excuse, namely that the country was 
too exhausted and the working class was decimated. In such
circumstances, it is argued, objective conditions meant that 
soviet democracy was impossible and so the Bolsheviks had
to maintain their dictatorship at all costs to defend what
was left of the revolution. Leninist Pat Stack of the
British SWP is typical of this approach. It is worth
quoting him at length:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Because anarchists dismiss the importance of material 
reality, events such as the 1921 Kronstadt rising against 
the Bolshevik government in Russia can become a rallying 
cry. The revolutionary Victor Serge was not uncritical 
of the Bolshevik handling of the rising, but he poured 
scorn on anarchist claims for it when he wrote, 'The 
third revolution it was called by certain anarchists 
whose heads were stuffed by infantile delusions.'
<p>
"This third revolution, it was argued, would follow the
first one in February 1917 and the second in October. 
The second had swept away the attempts to create 
capitalist power, had given land to the peasants 
and had extracted Russia from the horrible imperialist 
carnage of the First World War. The revolution had 
introduced a huge literacy programme, granted women 
abortion rights, introduced divorce and accepted the 
rights of the various Russian republics to self 
determination. It had done so, however, against a 
background of a bloody and horrendous civil war 
where the old order tried to regain power. Sixteen 
imperialist powers sent armies against the regime, 
and trade embargoes were enforced.
<p>
"The reality of such actions caused huge suffering throughout 
Russia. The regime was deprived of raw materials and fuel, 
transportation networks were destroyed, and the cities began 
running out of food. By 1919 the regime only had 10 percent 
of the fuel that was available in 1917, and the production 
of iron ore in the same year stood at 1.6 percent of that 
in 1914. By 1921 Petrograd had lost 57 percent of its 
population and Moscow 44.5 percent. Workers were either 
dead, on the frontline of the civil war, or were fleeing 
the starvation of the city. The force that had made the 
revolution possible was being decimated. . . 
<p>
"The choice facing the regime in Russia was either to crush 
the uprising and save the revolution, or surrender to the 
rising and allow the forces of reaction to march in on their 
back. There was no material basis for a third way. A destroyed 
economy and infrastructure, a population faced with starvation 
and bloody war, and a hostile outside world were not circumstances 
in which the revolution could move forward. Great efforts would 
have to be made to solve these problems. There were no overnight 
solutions and preserving the revolutionary regime was crucial. 
Ultimately real solutions could only be found if the revolution 
were to spread internationally, but in the meantime to have 
any chance of success the regime had to survive. Only the right 
and the imperialist powers would have benefited from its 
destruction."</i> [<i>"Anarchy in the UK?"</i>, <b>Socialist Review</b>,
no. 246, November 2000]
</blockquote><p>
Anarchists, in spite of Stack's assertions, were and are well 
aware of the problems facing the revolution. Alexander Berkman 
(who was in Petrograd at the time) pointed out the <i>"[l]ong 
years of war, revolution, and civil struggle"</i> which <i>"had bled 
Russia to exhaustion and brought her people to the brink of 
despair."</i> [<b>The Russian Tragedy</b>, p. 61] Like every worker, 
peasant, sailor and soldier in Russia, anarchists knew 
(and know) that reconstruction would not take place 
<i>"overnight."</i> The Kronstadters' recognised this in the 
first issue of their newspaper <b>Izvestiia</b>:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Comrades and citizens, our country is passing through
a tough time. For three years now, famine, cold and
economic chaos have trapped us in a vice-like grip. The
Communist Party which governs the country has drifted
away from the masses and proved itself powerless to
rescue them from a state of general ruination . . .
All workers, sailors and Red soldiers today can clearly
see that only concentrated efforts, only the concentrated
determination of the people can afford the country
bread, wood and coal, can clothe and shoe the people
and rescue the Republic from the impasse in which it
finds itself."</i> [cited in <b>No Gods, No Masters</b>, vol. 2,
p. 183]
</blockquote><p>
In the Kronstadt <b><i>Izvestiia</i></b> of March 8 they wrote that
it was <i>"here in Kronstadt that the foundation stone was 
laid of the Third Revolution that will smash the last 
shackles on the toiler and open up before him the broad new
avenue to socialist construction."</i> They stress that the 
<i>"new revolution will rouse the toiling masses of the Orient 
and Occident. For it will offer the example of fresh socialist 
construction as opposed to mechanical, governmental 'Communist'
construction."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 194] Clearly, the Kronstadt
rebels knew that construction would take time and were
arguing that the only means of rebuilding the country was
via the participation of what of left of the working class
and peasantry in free class organisations like freely
elected soviets and unions.
<p>
The experience of the revolt provides evidence that
this analysis was far from "utopian." A Finish 
reporter at Kronstadt was struck by the <i>"enthusiasm"</i> 
of its inhabitants, by their renewed sense of purpose 
and mission. Avrich argues that for a <i>"fleeting interval 
Kronstadt was shaken out if its listlessness and despair."</i> 
[<b>Kronstadt</b>, p. 159] The sailors, soldiers and civilians 
sent their delegates to delegates, started to re-organise 
their trade unions and so on. Freedom and soviet democracy
was allowing the masses to start to rebuild their
society and they took the opportunity. The Kronstadter's
faith in <i>"direct mass democracy of and by the common 
people through free soviets"</i> did seem to be justified 
in the response of the people of Kronstadt. This suggests 
that a similar policy implemented by the workers who had 
just organised general strikes, demonstrations and protest 
meetings all across Russia's industrial centres was not
impossible or doomed to failure. 
<p>
Indeed, this wave of strikes refutes Stack's claim that 
<i>"[w]orkers were either dead, on the frontline of the civil 
war, or were fleeing the starvation of the city. The force 
that had made the revolution possible was being decimated."</i> 
Clearly, a sizeable percentage of the workers were still 
working and so not dead, on the frontline or fleeing the 
cities. As we discuss below, approximately one-third of 
factory workers were still in Petrograd (the overall
decrease of urban working people throughout Russia exceeded
50 percent [Avrich, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 24]). The working class,
in other words, still existed and were able to organise
strikes, meetings and mass demonstrations in the face of
state repression. The fact, of course, is that the majority 
of what remained of the working class would not have voted 
Communist in free soviet elections. Thus political 
considerations have to be factored in when evaluating 
Stack's arguments. 
<p>
The question for anarchists, as for the Kronstadt rebels,
was what the necessary pre-conditions for this reconstruction
were. Could Russia be re-built in a socialist way while
being subject to a dictatorship which crushed every sign
of working class protest and collective action? Surely
the first step, as Kronstadt shows, would have to be the 
re-introduction of workers' democracy and power for only 
this would give allow expression to the creative powers
of the masses and interest them in the reconstruction of
the country. Continuing party dictatorship would never 
do this:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"by its very essence a dictatorship destroys the creative 
capacities of a people. . . The revolutionary conquest could 
only be deepened through a genuine participation of the masses. 
Any attempt to substitute an 'elite' for those masses could 
only be profoundly reactionary.
<p>
"In 1921 the Russian Revolution stood at the cross roads. 
The democratic or the dictatorial way, that was the question. 
By lumping together bourgeois and proletarian democracy the 
Bolsheviks were in fact condemning both. They sought to 
build socialism from above, through skilful manoeuvres of 
the Revolutionary General Staff. While waiting for a world 
revolution that was not round the corner, they built a state 
capitalist society, where the working class no longer had 
the right to make the decisions most intimately concerning 
it."</i> [Mett, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, pp. 82-3]
</blockquote><p>
The Russian revolution had faced economic crisis all through 1917
and 1918. Indeed, by the spring of 1918 Russia was living through
an almost total economic collapse, with a general scarcity of
all resources and mass unemployment. According to Tony Cliff
(the leader of the SWP) in the spring of 1918 Russia's 
<i>"[w]ar-damaged industry continued to run down. 'The bony hand 
of hunger' . . . gripped the whole population . . . One of the
causes of the famine was the breakdown of transport. . . 
Industry was in a state of complete collapse. Not only was
there no food to feed the factory workers; there was no
raw materials or fuel for industry. The oilfields of the
Baku, Grozny and Emba regions came to a standstill. The
situation was the same in the coalfields. The production
of raw materials was in no better a state . . . The collapse
of industry meant unemployment for the workers."</i> [<b>Lenin:
The Revolution Besieged</b>, vol. 3, pp. 67-9] The industrial workforce
dropped to 40% of its 1917 levels. The similarities to Stack's
description of the situation in early 1921 is striking.
<p>
Does this mean that, for Leninists, soviet democracy was impossible 
in early 1918 (of course, the Bolsheviks <b>in practice</b> were making 
soviet democracy impossible by suppressing soviets that elected the 
wrong people)? After all, in the start of 1918 the Russian
Revolution also faced a <i>"destroyed economy and infrastructure, a 
population faced with starvation and bloody war, and a hostile 
outside world."</i> If these <i>"were not circumstances in which the 
revolution could move forward"</i> then it also applied in 1918 
as well as in 1921. And, if so, then this means admitting that 
soviet democracy is impossible during a revolution, marked as it 
will always be marked by exceptionally difficult circumstances. 
Which, of course, means to defend party power and not soviet
power and promote the dictatorship of the party over the
working class, positions Leninists deny holding.
<p>
Incredibly, Stack fails to even mention the power and privileges
of the bureaucracy at the time. Officials got the best food,
housing and so on. The lack of effective control or influence
from below ensured that corruption was widespread. One of the 
leaders of the Workers' Opposition gives us an insight of the
situation which existed at the start of 1921:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"The rank and file worker is observant. He sees that so far
. . . the betterment of the workers' lot has occupied the
last place in our policy . . . We all know that the housing
problem cannot be solved in a few months, even years, and
that due to our poverty, its solution is faced with serious
difficulties. But the facts of ever-growing inequality between
the privileged groups of the population in Soviet Russia
and the rank and file workers, 'the frame-work of the
dictatorship', breed and nourish the dissatisfaction.
<p>
"The rank and file worker sees how the Soviet official
and the practical man lives and how he lives . . . 
[It will be objected that] 'We could not attend to that;
pray, there was the military front.' And yet whenever
it was necessary to make repairs to any of the houses
occupied by the Soviet institutions, they were able
to find both the materials and the labour."</i> [Alexandra 
Kollontai, <b>The Workers' Opposition</b>, p. 10]
</blockquote><p>
A few months earlier, the Communist Yoffe wrote to Trotsky
expressing the same concerns. <i>"There is enormous inequality,"</i>
he wrote, <i>"and one's material position largely depends on
one's post in the party; you'll agree that this is a 
dangerous situation."</i> [quoted by Orlando Figes, <b>A People's
Tragedy</b>, p. 695] To talk about anarchists dismiss the
importance of material reality and a <i>"revolutionary regime"</i> 
while ignoring the inequalities in power and wealth, and 
the bureaucratisation and despotism which were their root, 
is definitely a case of the pot calling the kettle black!
<p>
Under the harsh material conditions facing Russia at the time,
it goes without saying that the bureaucracy would utilise its
position to gather the best resources around it. Indeed, part
of the factors resulting in Kronstadt was <i>"the privileges 
and abuses of commissars, senior party functionaries and
trade union officials who received special rations, 
allocations and housing and . . . quite openly enjoying
the good life."</i> [Getzler, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 210] Stack fails 
to mention this and instead talks about the necessity of
defending a "workers' state" in which workers had no power
and where bureaucratic abuses were rampant. If anyone is denying
reality, it is him! Thus Ciliga:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"The Soviet Government and the higher circles in the Communist 
Party applied their own solution [to the problems facing the
revolution] of <b>increasing the power of the bureaucracy</b>. The
attribution of powers to the 'Executive Committees' which had 
hitherto been vested in the soviets, the replacement of the 
dictatorship of the class by the dictatorship of the party, 
the shift of authority even within the party from its members 
to its cadres, the replacement of the double power of the
bureaucracy and the workers in the factory by the sole power 
of the former - to do all this was to 'save the Revolution!' 
[. . .] The Bureaucracy prevented the bourgeois restoration 
. . . by eliminating the proletarian character of the 
revolution."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 331]
</blockquote><p>
Perhaps, in light of this, it is significant that, in his list of 
revolutionary gains from October 1917, Stack fails to mention what
anarchists would consider the most important, namely workers'
power, freedom, democracy and rights. But, then again, the 
Bolsheviks did not rate these gains highly either and were more 
than willing to sacrifice them to ensure their most important gain, 
state power (see 
<a href="secH5.html#sech515">section H.5.15</a> 
for a fuller discussion of this issue). 
Again, the image of revolution gains a victory over its content!
<p>
When Stack argues that it was necessary to crush Kronstadt to <i>"save 
the revolution"</i> and <i>"preserv[e] the revolutionary regime"</i> we feel 
entitled to ask what was there left to save and preserve? The
dictatorship and decrees of "Communist" leaders? In other words,
party power. Yes, by suppressing Kronstadt Lenin and Trotsky
saved the revolution, saved it for Stalin. Hardly something to
be proud of.
<p>
Ironically, given Stack's assertions that anarchists ignore
<i>"material reality"</i>, anarchists had predicted that a revolution 
would be marked by economic disruption. Kropotkin, for example, 
argued that it was <i>"certain that 
the coming Revolution . . . will burst upon us in the 
middle of a great industrial crisis . . . There are 
millions of unemployed workers in Europe at this moment. 
It will be worse when Revolution has burst upon us . . . 
The number of the out-of-works will be doubled as soon 
as barricades are erected in Europe and the United 
States . . . we know that in time of Revolution exchange 
and industry suffer most from the general upheaval . . . 
A Revolution in Europe means, then, the unavoidable 
stoppage of at least half the factories and workshops."</i> 
He stressed that there would be <i>"the complete 
disorganisation"</i> of the capitalist economy and that 
during a revolution <i>"[i]nternational commerce will come 
to a standstill"</i> and <i>"the circulation of commodities and 
of provisions will be paralysed."</i> [<b>The Conquest of Bread</b>, 
pp. 69-70 and p. 191]
<p>
Elsewhere, he argued that a revolution would
<i>"mean the stoppage of hundreds 
of manufactures and workshops, and the impossibility of 
reopening them. Thousands of workmen will find no employment 
. . . The present want of employment and misery will be 
increased tenfold."</i> He stressed that <i>"the reconstruction 
of Society in accordance with more equitable principles 
<b>will</b> necessitate a disturbed period"</i> and argued that 
any revolution will be isolated to begin with and so 
(with regards to the UK) <i>"the imports of foreign corn will 
decrease"</i> as will <i>"exports of manufactured wares."</i> A 
revolution, he argued, <i>"is not the work of one day. It 
means a whole period, mostly lasting for several years, 
during which the country is in a state of effervescence."</i> 
To overcome these problems he stressed the importance 
of reconstruction from the bottom up, organised directly 
by working people, with local action being the basis 
of wider reconstruction. The <i>"immense problem -- the 
re-organisation of production, redistribution of wealth
and exchange, according to new principles -- cannot be
solved by . . . any kind of government. It must be a natural
growth resulting from the combined efforts of all interested
in it, freed from the bonds of the present institutions. It
must grow naturally, proceeding from the simplest up to 
complex federations; and it cannot be something schemed by
a few men and ordered from above. In this last shape it
surely would have no chance of living at all."</i> [<b>Act for 
Yourselves</b>, pp. 71-2, p. 67, pp, 72-3, pp. 25-6 and p. 26]
<p>
Anarchists had predicted the problems facing the Russian
Revolution decades previously and, given the lack of success
of Bolshevik attempts to solve these problems via centralism,
had also predicted the only way to solve them. Far from
ignoring <i>"material reality"</i> it is clear that anarchists 
have long been aware of the difficulties a revolution
would face and had organised our politics around them. In
contrast, Stack is arguing that these inevitable effects 
of a revolution create <i>"circumstances"</i> in which the revolution 
cannot <i>"move forward"</i>! If this is so, then revolution is 
an impossibility as it will always face economic disruption
and isolation at some stage in its development, for a longer
or shorter period. If we base our politics on the "best-case
scenario" then they will soon be proven to be lacking.
<p>
Ultimately, Stack's arguments (and those like it) are the ones 
which ignore <i>"material reality"</i> by arguing that Lenin's state 
was a <i>"revolutionary regime"</i> and reconstruction could be anything 
but to the advantage of the bureaucracy without the active 
participation of what was left of the working class. Indeed,
the logic of his argument would mean rejecting the idea of
socialist revolution <b>as such</b> as the problems he lists will
affect <b>every</b> revolution and had affected the Russian 
Revolution from the start. 
<p>
The problems facing the Russian working class were difficult 
in the extreme in 1921 (some of which, incidentally, were due 
to the 
results of Bolshevik economic policies which compounded 
economic chaos via centralisation), but they could never be
solved by someone else bar the thousands of workers taking
strike action all across Russia at the time: <i>"And if the 
proletariat was that exhausted how come it was still capable 
of waging virtually total general strikes in the largest and 
most heavily industrialised cities?"</i> [Ida Mett, <b>Op. Cit.</b>,
p. 81]
<p>
So, as far as <i>"material reality"</i> goes, it is clear that it is
Stack who ignores it, not anarchists or the Kronstadt rebels.
Both anarchists and Kronstadters recognised that the country 
was in dire straits and that a huge effort was required for 
reconstruction. The material basis at the time offered two 
possibilities for reconstruction -- either from above or from
below. Such a reconstruction could <b>only</b> be socialist in 
nature if it involved the direct participation of the working 
masses in determining what was needed and how to do it. In 
other words, the process had to start <b>from below</b> and no 
central committee utilising a fraction of the creative 
powers of the country could achieve it. Such a bureaucratic, 
top-down re-construction would rebuild the society in a way 
which benefited a few. Which, of course, was what happened.
<p>
John Rees joins his fellow party member by arguing that the 
working class base of the workers' state had  <i>"disintegrated"</i> 
by 1921. The working class was reduced <i>"to an atomised, 
individualised mass, a fraction of its former size, and 
no longer able to exercise the collective power that it 
had done in 1917."</i> The <i>"bureaucracy of the workers' state 
was left suspended in mid-air, its class base eroded and 
demoralised."</i> He argues that Kronstadt was <i>"utopian"</i> as <i>"they 
looked back to the institutions of 1917 when the class which 
made such institutions possible no longer had the collective 
capacity to direct political life."</i> [Rees, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 65 and 
p. 70]
<p>
There are two problems with this kind of argument. Firstly, 
there are factual problems with it. Second, there are 
ideological problems with it. We will discuss each in 
turn.
<p>
The factual problems are clear. All across Russia in
February 1921 the Russian working class were going on
strike, organising meetings and demonstrations. In 
other words, <b>taking collective action</b> based on 
demands collectively agreed in workplace meetings.
One factory would send delegates to others, urging
them to join the movement which soon became a general
strike in Petrograd and Moscow. In Kronstadt, workers,
soldiers and sailors went the next step and organised
a delegate conference. In other places they tried to
do so, with various degrees of success. During the
strikes in Petrograd <i>"workers from various plants
elected delegates to the Petrograd Assembly of
Plenipotentiaries"</i> which raised similar demands as
that of Kronstadt. Its activities and other attempts
to organise collectively were obviously hindered by 
the fact the Cheka arrested <i>"all delegates to other
enterprises"</i> the strikers sent. Brovkin states that
following the example of Petrograd, <i>"workers in some
cities set up assemblies of plenipotentiaries"</i> as
well. In Saratov <i>"such a council grew out of a strike 
co-ordination committee."</i> [V. Brovkin, <b>Behind the 
Lines of the Russian Civil War</b>, p. 393, p. 396 and 
p. 398]
<p>
Any claim that the Russian working class had no capacity 
for collective action seems invalidated by such events. Not 
that Rees is not unaware of these strikes. He notes that 
the Kronstadt revolt was <i>"preceded by a wave of serious
but quickly resolved strikes."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 61] An 
<i>"atomised, individualised mass"</i> which was <i>"no longer 
able to exercise the collective power"</i> being able to 
conduct a <i>"wave of serious . . . strikes"</i> all across 
Russia? That hardly fits. Nor does he mention the
repression which <i>"quickly resolved"</i> the strikes and
which, by its very nature, atomised and individualised
the masses in order to break the collective action being
practised.
<p>
The fact that these strikes did not last longer of course
suggests that the strikers could not sustain this activity
indefinitely. However, this was more a product of state
repression and the lack of rations while on strike than
any objectively predetermined impossibility of collective
decision making. The workers may have been too exhausted
to wage indefinite general strikes against a repressive
state but that does not imply they could not practice
continual collective decision making in less extreme
circumstances in a soviet democracy.
<p>
Of course, these striking workers would have been 
unlikely to voted Communist en mass if free soviet
elections were organised (in Kronstadt, Communists 
made up one-third of the conference of delegates).
Thus there were pressing <b>political</b> reasons to 
deny free elections rather than an objective
impossibility. Moreover, the actions of the 
Soviet state were designed to break the collective
resistance of the working force. The use of armed
patrols on the streets and in the factories, and
the closing and re-registration of an enterprise
labour force were designed to break the strike
and atomise the workforce. These actions would not
have been needed if the Russian working class was,
in fact, atomised and incapable of collective 
action and decision making.
<p>
The size of the working class in 1921 <b>was</b> smaller in
1921 than it was in 1917. However, the figures for 
May 1918 and 1920 were nearly identical. In 1920,
the number of factory workers in Petrograd was 148,289 
(which was 34% of the population and 36% of the number
of workers in 1910). [Mary McAuley, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 398] 
In January 1917, the number was 351,010 and in April 
1918, it was 148,710. [S.A. Smith, <b>Red Petrograd</b>, 
p. 245] Thus factory worker numbers were about 40% of 
the pre-Civil War number and remained so throughout 
the Civil War. A proletarian core remained in every 
industrial town or city in Russia. 
<p>
Nor was this work force incapable of collective action 
or decision making. All through the civil war they organised
strikes and protests for specific demands (and faced
Bolshevik repression for so doing). In March 1919,
for example, tens of thousands of workers went on strike
in Petrograd. The strikes were broken by troops. Strikes 
regularly occurred throughout 1919 and 1920 (and, again, 
usually met with state repression). In 1921, the strike 
wave resurfaced and became near general strikes in many 
cities, including Petrograd and Moscow (see 
<a href="secH5.html#sech52">section H.5.2</a>). 
If the workers could organise strikes (and near general 
strikes in 1921), protest meetings and committees to 
co-ordinate their struggles, what could stop them starting 
to manage their own destinies? Does soviet democracy become 
invalid once a certain number of workers is reached?
<p>
Given that Rees gets the key slogan of Kronstadt wrong
(they called for all power to the soviets and not to
parties rather than Rees' <i>"soviets without parties"</i>)
it is hard to evaluate whether Rees claims that without 
Bolshevik dictatorship the Whites would inevitably have 
taken power. After all, the Kronstadt delegate meeting had 
one-third Communists in it. Ultimately, he is arguing
that working people cannot manage their own fates themselves
without it resulting in a counter-revolution!
<p>
In addition, the logic of Rees' argument smacks of
double-think. On the one hand, he argues that the
Bolsheviks represented the <i>"dictatorship of the
proletariat."</i> On the other hand, he argues that
free soviet elections would have seen the Bolsheviks
replaced by <i>"moderate socialists"</i> (and eventually
the Whites). In other words, the Bolsheviks did not,
in fact, represent the Russian working class and
their dictatorship was <b>over</b>, not <b>of</b>, the 
proletariat. The basic assumption, therefore, is
flawed. Rees and his fellow Trotskyists seriously
want us to believe that a dictatorship will not
become corrupt and bureaucratic, that it can 
govern in the interests of its subjects and, moreover, 
reform itself. And he calls the Kronstadters <i>"utopians"</i>!
<p>
Given these factors, perhaps the real reason for the lack 
of soviet democracy and political freedom and rights was 
that the Bolsheviks knew they would lose any free elections 
that would be held? As we noted in 
<a href="secH5.html#sech52">section H.5.2</a>, they had 
not been shy in disbanding soviets with non-Bolshevik majorities
before the start of the civil war nor in suppressing strikes
and workers' protests before, during and after the Civil War. 
In effect, the Bolsheviks would exercise the dictatorship of 
the proletariat over and above the wishes of that proletariat 
if need be (as Trotsky made clear in 1921 at the Tenth Party 
Congress). Thus the major factor restricting soviet democracy
was Bolshevik power -- this repressed working class collective
action which promoted atomisation in the working class and 
the unaccountability of the Bolshevik leadership. The 
bureaucracy was <i>"left suspended in mid-air"</i> simply because
the majority of the workers and peasants did not support
it and when they protested against the party dictatorship
they were repressed. 
<p>
Simply put, objective factors do not tell the whole story.
<p>
Now we turn to these objective factors, the economic breakdown
affecting Russia in 1921. This is the basis for the ideological 
problem with Rees' argument.
<p>
The ideological problem with this argument is that both Lenin 
and Trotsky had argued that revolution inevitably implied 
civil war, <i>"exceptional circumstances"</i> and economic crisis.
For example, in <b>Terrorism and Communism</b> Trotsky argued
that <i>"[a]ll periods of transition  have been characterised 
by . . . tragic features"</i> of an <i>"economic depression"</i> such
as exhaustion, poverty and hunger. Every class society <i>"is 
violently swept off [the arena] by an intense struggle, 
which immediately brings to its participants even greater 
privations and sufferings than those against which they rose."</i>
He gave the example of the French Revolution <i>"which attained 
its titanic dimensions under the pressure of the masses 
exhausted with suffering, itself deepened and rendered more acute 
their misfortunes for a prolonged period and to an extraordinary 
extent."</i> He asked: <i>"Can it be otherwise?"</i>
<p>
Indeed, he stressed that <i>"revolutions which drag into their 
whirlpool millions of workers"</i> automatically affect the 
<i>"economic life of the country."</i> By <i>"[d]ragging the mass of 
the people away from labour, drawing them for a prolonged 
period into the struggle, thereby destroying their connection 
with production, the revolution in all these ways strikes 
deadly blows at economic life, and inevitably lowers 
the standard which it found at its birth."</i> This affects
the socialist revolution as the <i>"more perfect the 
revolution, the greater are the masses it draws in; 
and the longer it is prolonged, the greater is the destruction 
it achieves in the apparatus of production, and the more 
terrible inroads does it make upon public resources. From 
this there follows merely the conclusion which did not 
require proof -- that a civil war is harmful to economic 
life."</i>
<p>
Lenin in 1917 argued the similarly, mocking those who
argued that revolution was out of the question because
<i>"the circumstances are exceptionally complicated."</i> He
noting that any revolution, <i>"in its development, would give 
rise to exceptionally complicated circumstances"</i> and that 
it was <i>"the sharpest, most furious, desperate class war 
and civil war. Not a single great revolution in history 
has escaped civil war. No one who does not live in a shell 
could imagine that civil war is conceivable without 
exceptionally complicated circumstances. If there were
no exceptionally complicated circumstances there would
be no revolution."</i> [<b>Will the Bolsheviks Maintain Power?</b>, 
p. 80 and p. 81]
<p>
A few months early, Lenin argues that <i>"[w]hen unavoidable
disaster is approaching, the most useful and indispensable
task confronting the people is that of organisation. Marvels
of proletarian organisation -- this is our slogan at the
present, and shall become our slogan and our demand to an
even greater extent, when the proletariat is in power. . .
There are many such talents [i.e. organisers] among the
people. These forces lie dormant in the peasantry and the
proletariat, for lack of application. They must be mobilised
from below, by practical work . . ."</i> [<b>The Threatening
Catastrophe and how to avoid it</b>, pp. 49-50]
<p>
The problem in 1921 (as during the war), of course, was that 
when the proletariat <b>did</b> organise itself, it was repressed 
as counterrevolutionary by the Bolsheviks. The reconstruction 
from below, the organisation of the proletariat, automatically 
came into conflict with party power. The workers and peasants 
could not act because soviet and trade union democracy would
have ended Bolshevik dictatorship.
<p>
Therefore, Rees' and Stack's arguments fail to convince. As 
noted, their ideological gurus clearly argued that revolution
without civil war and economic exhaustion was impossible.
Sadly, the means to mitigate the problems of Civil War and 
economic crisis (namely workers' self-management and power) 
inevitably came into conflict with party power and could not 
be encouraged. If Bolshevism cannot meet the inevitable problems 
of revolution and maintain the principles it pays lip-service 
to (i.e. soviet democracy and workers' power) then it clearly 
does not work and should be avoided.
<p>
Stack's and Rees' argument, in other words, represents the bankruptcy 
of Bolshevik ideology rather than a serious argument against the 
Kronstadt revolt.

<p>
<a name="sech513"><H2>H.5.13 Was there a real alternative to 
Kronstadt's <i>"third revolution"</i>?</H2>
<p>
Another Trotskyist argument against Kronstadt and in favour 
of the Bolshevik repression is related to the country was 
exhausted argument we discussed in the 
<a href="secH5.html#sech512">last section</a>. It 
finds its clearest expression in Victor Serge's argument:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"the country was exhausted, and production practically
at a standstill; there was no reserves of any kind, not
even reserves of stamina in the hearts of the masses. The
working-class <b>elite</b> that had been moulded in the struggle
against the old regime was literally decimated. The Party,
swollen by the influx of power-seekers, inspired little
confidence . . .  Soviet democracy lacked leadership,
institutions and inspiration . . . 
<p>
"The popular counter-revolution translated the demand for
freely-elected soviets into one for 'Soviets without
Communists.' If the Bolshevik dictatorship fell, it was 
only a short step to chaos, and through chaos to a peasant 
rising, the massacre of the Communists, the return 
of the emigres, and in the end, through the sheer force of 
events, another dictatorship, this time anti-proletarian."</i>
[<b>Memoirs of a Revolutionary</b>, pp. 128-9]
</blockquote><p>
Serge supported the Bolsheviks, considering them as the
only possible means of defending the revolution. Some 
modern day Leninists follow this line of reasoning
and want us to believe that the Bolsheviks were defending 
the remaining gains of the revolution. What gains, exactly?
The only gains that remained were Bolshevik power and
nationalised industry -- both of which excluded the
real gains of the Russian Revolution (namely soviet
power, the right to independent unions and to strike, 
freedom of assembly, association and speech for working 
people, the beginnings of workers' self-management of 
production and so on). Indeed, both "gains" were the
basis for the Stalinist bureaucracy's power. 

<p>
Anarchists and libertarian Marxists who defend the Kronstadt
revolt and oppose the actions of the Bolsheviks are not foolish
enough to argue that Kronstadt's <i>"third revolution"</i> would have 
definitely succeeded. Every revolution is a gamble and may fail. 
As Ante Ciliga correctly argues:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Let us consider, finally, one last accusation which is 
commonly circulated: that action such as that at Kronstadt 
could have <b>indirectly</b> let loose the forces of the 
counter-revolution. It is <b>possible</b> indeed that even 
by placing itself on a footing of workers' democracy 
the revolution might have been overthrown; but what 
is <b>certain</b> is that it has perished, and that it has
perished on account of the policy of its leaders. The 
repression of Kronstadt, the suppression of the democracy 
of workers and soviets by the Russian Communist party, 
the elimination of the proletariat from the management 
of industry, and the introduction of the NEP, already 
signified the death of the Revolution."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 335]
</blockquote><p>
No revolution is guaranteed to succeed. The same with Kronstadt's 
<i>"Third Revolution."</i> Its call for soviet power may have lead to
defeat via renewed intervention. That is possible -- just as it
was possible in 1917. One thing is sure, by maintaining the
Bolshevik dictatorship the Russian Revolution <b>was</b> crushed. 
<p>
The only alternative to the <i>"third revolution"</i> would have 
been self-reform of the party dictatorship and, therefore, 
of the soviet state. Such an attempt was made after 1923 by 
the <b>Left Opposition</b> (named <i>"Trotskyist"</i> by the Stalinists 
because Trotsky was its main leader). John Rees discusses 
the <b>Left Opposition</b>, arguing that <i>"without a revival of 
struggle in Russia or successful revolution elsewhere"</i> it 
<i>"was doomed to failure."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 68] Given the logic 
of Serge's arguments, this is the only option left for
Leninists. 
<p>
How viable was this alternative? Could the soviet dictatorship 
reform itself? Was soviet democracy more of a danger than the 
uncontrolled dictatorship of a party within a state marked by 
already serious levels of corruption, bureaucracy and despotism? 
History provides the answer with the rise of Stalin.
<p>
Unfortunately for the <b>Left Opposition</b>, the bureaucracy had 
gained experience in repressing struggle in breaking the wave 
of strikes in 1921 and crushing the Kronstadt rebellion. Indeed, 
Rees incredulously notes that by 1923 <i>"the well-head of renewal 
and thorough reform -- the activity of the workers -- had dried 
to a trickle"</i> and yet does not see that this decline was aided 
by the example of what had happened to Kronstadt and the repression 
of the 1921 strike wave. The <b>Left Opposition</b> received the 
crop that Lenin and Trotsky sowed the seeds of in 1921. 
<p>
Ironically, Rees argues that the Stalinist bureaucracy could 
betray the revolution without <i>"an armed counter-revolutionary
seizure of power"</i> (and so <i>"no martial law, no curfew or street 
battles"</i>) because of <i>"the atomisation of the working class."</i> 
However, the atomisation was a product of the armed 
counter-revolutionary activities of Lenin and Trotsky in 
1921 when they broke the strikes and crushed Kronstadt
by means of martial law, curfew and street battles. The 
workers had no interest in which branch of the bureaucracy 
would govern and exploit them and so remained passive. Rees 
fails to see that the Stalinist coup simply built upon the 
initial counter-revolution of Lenin. There <b>was</b> martial
law, curfew and street battles but they occurred in 1921,
not 1928. The rise of Stalinism was the victory of one
side of the new bureaucratic class over another but that
class had defeated the working class in March 1921.
<p>
As for the idea that an external revolution could have
regenerated the Soviet bureaucracy, this too was 
fundamentally utopian. In the words of Ida Mett:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Some claim that the Bolsheviks allowed themselves such 
actions (as the suppression of Kronstadt) in the hope of 
a forthcoming world revolution, of which they considered 
themselves the vanguard. But would not a revolution in 
another country have been influenced by the spirit of 
the Russian Revolution? When one considers the enormous 
moral authority of the Russian Revolution throughout the 
world one may ask oneself whether the deviations of this 
Revolution would not eventually have left an imprint on 
other countries. Many historical facts allow such a 
judgement. One may recognise the impossibility of genuine 
socialist construction in a single country, yet have doubts 
as to whether the bureaucratic deformations of the Bolshevik 
regime would have been straightened out by the winds coming 
from revolutions in other countries."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 82]
</blockquote><p>
The Bolsheviks had already been manipulating foreign Communist
Parties in the interests of their state for a number of years.
That is part of the reason why the Left-Communists around 
Pannekoek and Gorter broke with the Third International
later in 1921. Just as the influence of Lenin had been a key
factor in fighting the anti-Parliamentarian and libertarian
communist tendencies in Communist Parties all across the
world, so the example and influence of the Bolsheviks would
have made its impact on any foreign revolution. The successful
revolutionaries would have applied such "lessons" of October
such as the dictatorship of the proletariat being impossible
without the dictatorship of the communist party, centralism, 
militarisation of labour and so on. This would have distorted
any revolution from the start (given how obediently the 
Communist Parties around the world followed the insane
policies of Stalinism, can we doubt this conclusion?).
<p>
Not that the Left Opposition's political platform could have
saved the revolution. After all, it was utopian in that it 
urged the party and state bureaucracy to reform itself as
well as contradictory. It did not get at the root of the problem, 
namely Bolshevik ideology. This can quickly be seen from
<b>The Platform of the Opposition</b> written in 1927 (unless 
otherwise specified all quotes come from this document).
<p>
It urged a <i>"consistent development of a workers' democracy in 
the party, the trade unions, and the soviets"</i> and to <i>"convert the 
urban soviets into real institutions of proletarian power."</i> It
states that <i>"Lenin, as long ago as in the revolution of 1905, 
advanced the slogan of soviets as organs of the democratic 
dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasants."</i> The Kronstadt
sailors argued the same, of course, and were branded <i>"White
Guardists"</i> and <i>"counter-revolutionary"</i>. At the same time as this
call for democracy, we find affirmation of the <i>"Leninist principle"</i> 
(<i>"inviolable for every Bolshevik"</i>) that <i>"the dictatorship of the 
proletariat is and can be realised only through the dictatorship 
of the party."</i> It repeats the principle by mentioning that <i>"the
dictatorship of the proletariat demands a single and united 
proletarian party as the leader of the working masses and the 
poor peasantry."</i> It stresses that a <i>"split in our party, the 
formation of two parties, would represent an enormous danger 
to the revolution."</i> This was because:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Nobody who sincerely defends the line of Lenin can entertain 
the idea of 'two parties' or play with the suggestion of a split. 
Only those who desire to replace Lenin's course with some other 
can advocate a split or a movement along the two-party road.
<p>
"We will fight with all our power against the idea of two parties, 
because the dictatorship of the proletariat demands as its very core 
a single proletarian party. It demands a single party. It demands 
a proletarian party -- that is, a party whose policy is determined 
by the interests of the proletariat and carried out by a proletarian 
nucleus. Correction of the line of our party, improvement of its 
social composition -- that is not the two-party road, but the 
strengthening and guaranteeing of its unity as a revolutionary 
party of the proletariat."</i>
</blockquote><p>
We can note, in passing, the interesting notion of party (and
so <i>"proletarian"</i> state) policy <i>"determined by the interests of 
the proletariat and carried out by a proletarian nucleus"</i> but 
which is <b>not</b> determined <b>by</b> the proletariat itself. Which
means that the policy of the "workers' state" must be determined 
by some other (unspecified) group and not by the workers. What 
possibility can exist that this other group actually knows
what is in the interests of the proletariat? None, of course,
as any form of democratic decision can be ignored when those
who determine the policy consider the protests of the proletariat
to be not <i>"in the interests of the proletariat."</i> 
<p>
This was the opinion of Trotsky, who argued against the 
Workers' Opposition faction of the Communist Party who urged 
re-introducing some elements of democracy at the Tenth
Party Conference at the time of the Kronstadt uprising (while,
of course, keeping the Communist Party dictatorship intact). 
As he put it, they <i>"have come out with dangerous slogans. 
They have made a fetish of democratic principles. They have
placed the workers' right to elect representatives above 
the party. As if the Party were not entitled to assert its 
dictatorship even if that dictatorship clashed with the 
passing moods of the workers' democracy!"</i> He continued 
by stating that the <i>"Party is obliged to maintain its 
dictatorship . . . regardless of temporary vacillations 
even in the working class . . . The dictatorship does not 
base itself at every moment on the formal principle of a 
workers' democracy."</i> [quoted by M. Brinton, <b>The Bolsheviks 
and Workers' Control</b>, p. 78]
<p>
Thus the call for democracy is totally annulled by other 
arguments in the Platform, arguments which logically 
eliminates democracy and results in such acts as the 
repression of Kronstadt (see 
<a href="secH5.html#sech515">section H.5.15</a>). 
<p>
The question, of course, arises as to how democracy can
be introduced in the soviets and unions when party 
dictatorship is essential for the <i>"realisation"</i> of the 
"proletarian" dictatorship and there can only be <b>one</b> 
party? What happens if the proletariat vote for someone 
else (as they did in Kronstadt)? If "proletarian"
dictatorship is impossible without the dictatorship of the
party then, clearly, proletarian democracy becomes meaningless.
All the workers would be allowed to do would be to vote for
members of the same party, all of whom would be bound by
party discipline to carry out the orders of the party
leadership. Power would rest in the party hierarchy and
definitively <b>not</b> in the working class, its unions or
its soviets (both of which would remain mere fig-leafs
for party rule). Ultimately, the only guarantee that the 
party dictatorship would govern in the interests of the 
proletariat would be the good intentions of the party. 
However, being unaccountable to the masses, such a 
guarantee would be worthless -- as history shows.
<p>
Kronstadt is the obvious end result of such politics. The
starting point was the disbanding of soviets which had
been elected with a majority of "wrong" parties (as the
Bolsheviks did in early 1918, <b>before</b> the start of the 
civil war). While the Platform may be useful as an 
expression of the usual Leninist double-think on the 
"workers' state", its practical suggestions are useless. 
Unlike the Kronstadt Platform, it was doomed to failure 
from the start. The new bureaucratic class could only be 
removed by a "third revolution" and while this, possibly, 
could have resulted in a bourgeois counter-revolution the 
alternative of maintaining Bolshevik dictatorship would 
<b>inevitably</b> have resulted in Stalinism. When supporters 
of Bolshevism argue that Kronstadt would have opened the 
gate to counter-revolution, they do not understand that 
the Bolsheviks <b>were</b> the counter-revolution in 1921 and
that by suppressing Kronstadt the Bolsheviks not only
opened the gate to Stalinism but invited it in and gave
it the keys to the house.
<p>
The Platform, moreover, smacks of the re-writing of history
Trotsky correctly accused Stalinism of. 
<p>
It argues, for example, that the urban soviets <i>"in recent 
years have been losing importance. This undoubtedly reflects 
a shift in the relation of class forces to the disadvantage 
of the proletariat."</i> In fact, the soviets had lost their 
importance since the October revolution (see 
<a href="secH5.html#sech52">section H.5.2</a> 
for details). The <i>"shift"</i> in the relation of class forces 
started immediately after the October revolution, when the 
<b>real</b> gains of 1917 (i.e. soviet democracy, workers' rights
and freedom) were slowly and surely eliminated by the bureaucratic 
class forming around the new state -- a class who could justify 
their actions by claiming it was in the <i>"interests"</i> of the 
masses whose wishes they were ignoring.
<p>
As regards the Communist Party itself, it argues for introducing 
(<i>"in deeds and not words"</i>) <i>"a democratic regime. Do away with 
administrative pressure tactics. Stop the persecution and 
expulsion of those who hold independent opinions about party 
questions."</i> No mention, of course, that these tactics were 
used by Lenin and Trotsky against Left-wing dissidents after 
the October revolution. 
<p>
The Left-Communists in early 1918 were subject to such 
pressure. For example, they were ousted from leading 
positions in the Supreme Economic Council in March 1918. 
After their views were denounced by Lenin a <i>"campaign was 
whipped up in Leningrad which compelled <b>Kommunist</b> [their 
paper] to transfer publication to Moscow . . . After the 
appearance of the first issue of the paper a hastily 
convened Leningrad Party Conference produced a majority 
for Lenin and 'demanded that the adherents of <b>Kommunist</b>
cease their separate organisational existence.'"</i> The
paper lasted four issues, with the last having to be
published as a private factional paper. The issue had
been settled by a high pressure campaign in the
Party organisation, backed by a barrage of violent
invective in the Party press and in the pronouncements
of the Party leaders. [Maurice Brinton, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, 
pp. 39-40]
<p>
Similarly, the Workers' Opposition three years later also 
experienced them. At the Tenth Party congress, A. Kollontai
(author of their platform) stated that the circulation
of her pamphlet had been deliberately impeded. <i>"So
irregular were some of these that the Moscow Party
Committee at one stage voted a resolution <b>publicly</b>
censuring the Petrograd organisation 'for not observing
the rules of proper controversy.'"</i> The success of the 
Leninist faction in getting control of the party machine 
was such that <i>"there is serious doubt as to whether they 
were not achieved by fraud."</i> [Brinton, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 75 
and p. 77] Victor Serge witnessed the rigging of an 
election to ensure Lenin's victory in the trade union 
debate. [<b>Memoirs of a Revolutionary</b>, p. 123] Kollontai
herself mentions (in early 1921) that comrades <i>"who dare 
to disagree with decrees from above are <b>still</b> being 
persecuted."</i> [our emphasis, <b>The Workers' Opposition</b>,
p. 22]
<p>
The Platform states that <i>"the dying out of inner-party democracy 
leads to a dying out of workers' democracy in general -- in the 
trade unions, and in all other nonparty mass organisations."</i> 
In fact, the opposite causation is correct. The dying out 
of workers' democracy in general leads to a dying out of
inner-party democracy. The dictatorship of the party by necessity
clashes with the <i>"democratic dictatorship of the working masses
and the poor peasantry."</i> As the party dictatorship replaces
the working masses, eliminating democracy by the dictatorship
of a single party, democracy in that party must wither. If the
workers can join that party and influence its policies then
the same problems that arose in the soviets and unions appear
in the party (i.e. voting for the wrong policies and people).
This necessitates a corresponding centralisation in power
within the party as occurred in the soviets and unions, all
to the detriment of rank and file power and control.
<p>
As Ida Mett argued:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"There is no doubt that the discussion taking place within 
the [Communist] Party at this time [in early 1921] had profound 
effects on the masses. It overflowed the narrow limits the 
Party sought to impose on it. It spread to the working class 
as a whole, to the solders and to the sailors. Heated local 
criticism acted as a general catalyst. The proletariat had 
reasoned quite logically: if discussion and criticism were 
permitted to Party members, why should they not be permitted 
to the masses themselves who had endured all the hardships 
of the Civil War?
<p>
"In his speech to the Tenth Congress -- published in the Congress 
Proceedings -- Lenin voiced his regret at having 'permitted' such 
a discussion. 'We have certainly committed an error,' he said, 
'in having authorised this debate. Such a discussion was harmful 
just before the Spring months that would be loaded with such 
difficulties.'"</i> [<b>The Kronstadt Uprising</b>, pp. 34-5]
</blockquote><p>
Unsurprisingly, the Tenth Congress voted to ban factions within
the Party. The elimination of discussion in the working class
led to its ban in the party. Having the rank-and-file of the
Party discuss issues would give false hopes to the working
class as a whole who may attempt to influence policy by
joining the party (and, of course, vote for the wrong people
or policies).
<p>
Thus the only alternative to Kronstadt's <i>"Third Revolution"</i>
and free soviets was doomed to failure. 
<p>
Lastly, we should draw some parallels between the fates
of the Kronstadt sailors and the Left Opposition.
<p>
John Rees argues that the Left Opposition had <i>"the whole 
vast propaganda machine of the bureaucracy . . . turned
against them,"</i> a machine used by Trotsky and Lenin in 1921 
against Kronstadt. Ultimately, the Left Opposition <i>"were 
exiled, imprisoned and shot,"</i> again like the Kronstadters and 
a host of revolutionaries who defended the revolution but 
opposed the Bolshevik dictatorship. [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 68] 
<p>
As Murray Bookchin argued:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"All the conditions for Stalinism were prepared for by the
defeat of the Kronstadt sailors and Petrograd strikers."</i>
[<i>"Introduction"</i>, Ida Mett, <b>The Kronstadt Uprising</b>, 
p. 13]
</blockquote><p>
Thus, the argument that Kronstadt was <i>"utopian"</i> is false.
The third revolution was the only <b>real</b> alternative in
Bolshevik Russia. Any struggle from below post-1921 would 
have raised the same problems of soviet democracy and
party dictatorship which Kronstadt raised. Given that
the <b>Left Opposition</b> subscribed to the <i>"Leninist principle"</i> 
of <i>"the dictatorship of the party,"</i> they could not appeal
to the masses as they would not vote for them. The arguments
raised against Kronstadt that soviet democracy would lead
to counter-revolution are equally applicable to movement
which appealed, as Rees desires, to the Russian working
class post-Kronstadt. 
<p>
In summary, the claim that Kronstadt would inevitably
have lead to an anti-proletarian dictatorship fails. Yes,
it might have but the Bolshevik dictatorship itself was
anti-proletarian (it had repressed proletarian protest,
organisation, freedom and rights on numerous occasions)
and it could never be reformed from within by the very
logic of its <i>"Leninist principle"</i> of <i>"the dictatorship
of the party."</i> The rise of Stalinism was inevitable after
the crushing of Kronstadt. 
<p>
<a name="sech514"><H2>H.5.14 How do modern day Trotskyists 
misrepresent Kronstadt?</H2>
<p>
We have discussed how Trotskyists have followed their heroes 
Lenin and Trotsky in abusing the facts about the Kronstadt
sailors and uprising in previous sections. In 
<a href="secH5.html#sech58">section H.5.8</a>,
we have indicated how they have selectively quoted from academic
accounts of the uprising and suppressed evidence which 
contradicts their claims. In 
<a href="secH5.html#sech57">section H.5.7</a> we have shown
how they have selectively quoted from Paul Avrich's book
on the revolt to paint a false picture of the connections
between the Kronstadt sailors and the Whites. Here we
summarise some of the other misrepresentations of 
Trotskyists about the revolt.
<p>
John Rees, for example, asserts that the Kronstadters
were fighting for <i>"soviets without parties."</i> Indeed, he
makes the assertion twice on one page. [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 63]
Pat Stack goes one further and asserts that the <i>"central 
demand of the Kronstadt rising though was 'soviets without 
Bolsheviks'�in other words, the utter destruction of the 
workers' state."</i> [<i>"Anarchy in the UK?"</i>, <b>Socialist Review</b>,
no. 246, November 2000] Both authors quote from Paul 
Avrich's book <b>Kronstadt 1921</b> in their articles. Let 
us turn to that source:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"'Soviets without Communists' was not, as is often 
maintained by both Soviet and non-Soviet writers, 
a Kronstadt slogan."</i> [<b>Kronstadt 1921</b>, p. 181]
</blockquote><p>
Nor did they agitate under the banner <i>"soviets without
parties."</i> They argued for <i>"all power to the soviets
and not to parties."</i> Political parties were not to
be excluded from the soviets, simply stopped from
dominating them and substituting themselves for
them. As Avrich notes, the Kronstadt program <i>"did
allow a place for the Bolsheviks in the soviets,
alongside the other left-wing organisations . . .
Communists . . . participated in strength in the
elected conference of delegate, which was the
closest thing Kronstadt ever had to the free soviets
of its dreams."</i> [<b>Ibid.</b>] The index for Avrich's
work handily includes this page in it, under the
helpful entry <i>"soviets: 'without Communists.'"</i> 
<p>
The central demand of the uprising was simply soviet 
democracy and a return to the principles that the 
workers and peasants had been fighting the whites for.
In other words, both Leninists have misrepresented
the Kronstadt revolt's demands and so misrepresented
its aims.
<p>
Rees goes one step further and tries to blame the 
Bolshevik massacre on the sailors themselves. He argues 
<i>"in Petrograd Zinoviev had already essentially withdrawn 
the most detested aspects of War Communism in response to 
the strikes."</i> Needless to say, Zinoviev did not withdraw 
the <b>political</b> aspects of War Communism, just some of 
the <b>economic</b> ones and, as the Kronstadt revolt was 
mainly <b>political</b>, these concessions were not enough
(indeed, the repression directed against workers rights
and opposition socialist and anarchist groups <b>increased</b>). 
He then states the Kronstadters <i>"response [to these
concessions] was contained in their <b>What We Are Fighting 
For</b>"</i> and quotes it as follows:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"there is no middle ground in the struggle against
the Communists . . . They give the appearance of
making concessions: in Petrograd province road-block
detachments have been removed and 10 million roubles
have been allotted for the purchase of foodstuffs. . .
But one must not be deceived . . . No there can be
no middle ground. Victory or death!"</i>
</blockquote><p>
What Rees fails to inform the reader is that this was 
written on March 8th, while the Bolsheviks had started
military operations on the previous evening. Moreover,
the fact the <i>"response"</i> clearly stated <i>"[w]ithout a
single shot, without a drop of blood, the first step
has been taken [of the "Third Revolution"]. The toilers
do not need blood. They will shed it only at a moment
of self-defence"</i> is not mentioned. [Avrich, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, 
p. 243] In other words, the Kronstadt sailors reaffirmed
their commitment to non-violent revolt. Any violence
on their part was in self-defence against Bolshevik
actions. Not that you would know that from Rees' work.
<p>
Ted Grant, of the UK's <b>Socialist Appeal</b> re-writes
history significantly in his work <b>Russia: From revolution
to counter-revolution</b>. For example, he claims (without
providing any references) that the <i>"first lie"</i> of 
anti-Bolshevik writers on the subject <i>"is to identify 
the Kronstadt mutineers of 1921 with the heroic Red sailors 
of 1917."</i> As we have indicated in 
<a href="secH5.html#sech58">section H.5.8</a>, research
has <b>proven</b> that over 90% of the sailors on the two 
battleships which started the revolt had been recruited 
before and during the 1917 revolution and at least 
three-quarters of the sailors were old hands who had
served in the navy through war and revolution. So was
the majority of the Provisional Revolutionary Committee. 
Grant asserts that the sailors in 1917 and 1921 <i>"had nothing 
in common"</i> because those <i>"of 1917 were workers and Bolsheviks."</i> 
In fact, as we indicated 
<a href="secH5.html#sech59">section H.5.9</a>, the Bolsheviks were 
a minority in Kronstadt during 1917 (a fact even Trotsky 
admitted in 1938). Moreover, the demands raised in the
revolt matched the politics dominant in 1917.
<p>
Grant then claims that <i>"almost the entire Kronstadt 
garrison volunteered to fight in the ranks of the Red Army 
during the civil war."</i> Are we to believe that the Bolshevik
commanders left Kronstadt (and so Petrograd) defenceless
during the Civil War? Or drafted the skilled and trained
(and so difficult to replace) sailors away from their ships,
so leaving them unusable? Of course not. Common sense
refutes Grant's argument (and statistical  evidence 
supports this common sense position -- on 1st January,
1921, at least 75.5% of the Baltic Fleet was likely 
to have been drafted before 1918 and over 80% were 
from Great Russian areas and some 10% from the Ukraine.
[Gelzter, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 208]).
<p>
Not to be outdone, he then states that the <i>"Kronstadt 
garrison of 1921 was composed mainly of raw peasant 
levies from the Black Sea Fleet. A cursory glance at 
the surnames of the mutineers immediately shows that 
they were almost all Ukrainians."</i> According to Paul
Avrich, <i>"[s]ome three or four hundred names appear
in the journal of the rebel movement . . . So far
as one can judge from these surnames alone . . .
Great Russians are in the overwhelming majority."</i>
Of the 15 person Provisional Revolutionary Committee,
<i>"three . . . bore patently Ukrainian names and two
others. . . Germanic names."</i> [Paul Avrich, <b>Op. Cit.</b>,
pp. 92-3] Of the three Ukrainians, two were sailors
of long standing and <i>"had fought on the barricades in 
1917."</i> [Avrich, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 91] So much for a <i>"cursory 
glance at the surnames of the mutineers."</i> To top it off, 
he states: <i>"That there were actual counter-revolutionary 
elements among the sailors was shown by the slogan 
'Soviets without Bolsheviks'."</i> Which, of course, the 
Kronstadt sailors <b>never</b> raised as a slogan!
<p>
And <b>Grant</b> talks about the <i>"[m]any falsifications. . . 
written about this event,"</i> that it <i>"has been virtually 
turned into a myth"</i> and that <i>"these allegations bear no 
relation to the truth."</i> Truly amazing. As can be seen,
his words apply to his own inventions.
<p>
Another SWP member, Abbie Bakan, asserts that, for 
example, <i>"more than three quarters of the sailors"</i> at 
Kronstadt <i>"were recent recruits of peasant origin"</i> but 
refuses to provide a source for this claim. [<i>"A Tragic 
Necessity"</i>, <b>Socialist Worker Review</b>, no. 136, 
November 1990, pp. 18-21] As noted in 
<a href="secH5.html#sech58">section H.5.8</a>, 
such a claim is false. The likely source for the
assertion is Paul Avrich, who noted that more than 
three-quarters of the sailors were of peasant origin 
but Avrich does <b>not</b> say they were all recent recruits. 
While stating that there could be <i>"little doubt"</i> that
the Civil War produced a <i>"high turnover"</i> and that
<i>"many"</i> old-timers had been replaced by conscripts 
from rural areas, he does not indicate that all the
sailors from peasant backgrounds were new recruits.
He also notes that <i>"there had always been a large
and unruly peasant element among the sailors."</i>
[<b>Op. Cit.</b>, pp. 89-90]
<p>
Bakan asserts that anti-semitism <i>"was vicious and 
rampant"</i> yet fails to provide <b>any</b> official Kronstadt 
proclamations expressing this perspective. Rather, we 
are to generalise from the memoirs of <b>one</b> sailor 
and the anti-semitic remark of Vershinin, a member
of the Revolutionary Committee. Let us not forget
that the opinions of these sailors and others
like them were irrelevant to the Bolsheviks when
they drafted them in the first place. And, more
importantly, this <i>"vicious and rampant"</i> anti-semitism
failed to mark the demands raised nor the Kronstadt
rebels' newspaper or radio broadcasts. Nor did the 
Bolsheviks mention it at the time.
<p>
Moreover, it is true that the <i>"worse venom of the 
Kronstadt rebels was levelled against Trotsky and
Zinoviev"</i> but it was <b>not</b> because, as Bakan asserts,
they were <i>"treated as Jewish scapegoats."</i> Their
ethnical background was not mentioned by the Kronstadt 
sailors. Rather, they were strong <b>political</b> reasons
for attacking them. As Paul Avrich argues, <i>"Trotsky in 
particular was the living symbol of War Communism, of 
everything the sailors had rebelled against. His name 
was associated with centralisation and militarisation, 
with iron discipline and regimentation."</i> As for
Zinoviev, he had <i>"incurred the sailors' loathing as 
the party boss who had suppressed the striking workers 
and who had stooped to taking their own families as 
hostages."</i> Good reasons to attack them and nothing
to do with them being Jewish. [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 178
and p. 176]
<p>
Bakan states that the <i>"demands of the Kronstadt
sailors reflected the ideas of the most backward
section of the peasantry."</i> As can be seen from
<a href="secH5.html#sech53">section H.5.3</a>, 
such a comment cannot be matched
with the actual demands of the revolt (which,
of course, he does not provide). So what ideas
did these demands of the <i>"most backward section
of the peasantry"</i> state? Free elections to the
Soviets, freedom of speech and of the press for
workers and peasants, right of assembly, freedom
for trade union and peasant organisations, a
conference of workers, soldiers and sailors, 
liberation of all political, worker and
peasant prisoners, equalisation of rations,
freedom for peasants as long as they do not
employ hired labour, and so on. What would, in
other words, be included in most socialist parties
programmes and was, in fact, key elements of 
Bolshevik rhetoric in 1917. And, of course, all 
of the political aspects of the Kronstadt demands 
reflected key aspects of the Soviet Constitution. 
<p>
How <i>"backward"</i> can you get! Indeed, these <i>"backward"</i>
peasants send a radio message marking International
Woman's Day, hoping that women would <i>"soon 
accomplish"</i> their <i>"liberation from every form
of violence and oppression."</i> [quoted by Alexander
Berkman, <b>The Russian Tragedy</b>, p. 85]
<p>
Bakan pathetically acknowledges that their demands 
included <i>"calls for greater freedoms"</i> yet looks at 
the <i>"main economic target"</i> (not mentioning they were 
points 8, 10 and 11 of the 15 demands, the bulk of 
the rest are political). These, apparently, were
aimed at <i>"the programme of forced requisitioning of 
peasant produce and the roadblock detachments that 
halted the black market in grain."</i> Given that he admits
that the Bolsheviks were <i>"already discussing"</i> the
end of these features (due to their lack of success) 
it must be the case that the Bolsheviks also 
<i>"reflected the ideas of the most backward section 
of the peasantry"</i>! Moreover, the demand to end the 
roadblocks was also raised by the Petrograd and
Moscow workers during their strikes, as were most
of the other demands raised by Kronstadt. [Paul 
Avrich, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 42] Surely the <i>"most backward 
section of the peasantry"</i> was getting around in 
those days, appearing as they were in the higher 
reaches of the Bolshevik party bureaucracy and the 
factories of Petrograd and other major cities! 
<p>
In reality, of course, the opposition to the forced
requisitioning of food was a combination of ethical
and practical considerations -- it was evil and it
was counterproductive. You did not have to be a peasant
to see and know this (as the striking workers show).
Similarly, the roadblocks were also a failure. Victor 
Serge, for example, recollected he would <i>"have died 
without the sordid manipulations of the black market."</i> 
[<b>Memoirs of a Revolutionary</b>, p.79] He was a government 
official. Think how much worse it would have been for an 
ordinary worker. The use of roadblock detachments harmed 
the industrial workers -- little wonder they struck for
their end and little wonder the sailors expressed
solidarity with them and included it in their demands.
Therefore, <b>nothing</b> can be drawn from these demands
about the class nature of the revolt.
<p>
In an interesting example of double-think, Bakan then
states that the sailors <i>"called for the abolition
of Bolshevik authority in the army, factories and
mills."</i> What the resolution demanded was, in fact,
<i>"the abolition Party combat detachments in all
military groups"</i> as well as <i>"Party guards in 
factories and enterprises"</i> (point 10). In other words, 
to end the intimidation of workers and soldiers by armed
communist units in their amidst! When Bakan states
that <i>"the real character of the rebellion"</i> can be 
seen from the opening declaration that <i>"the
present soviets do not express the will of the
workers and peasants"</i> he could not have made a
truer comment. The Kronstadt revolt was a revolt
for soviet democracy and against party dictatorship.
And soviet democracy would only abolish <i>"Bolshevik
authority"</i> if the existing soviets, as the resolution 
argued, did not express the will of their electors!
<p>
Similarly, he asserts that the Provisional Revolutionary
Committee was <i>"non-elected"</i> and so contradicts every
historian who acknowledges it was elected by the
conference of delegates on March 2nd and expanded
by the next conference a few days later. He even
considers the fact the delegate meeting's <i>"denial
of party members' usual role in chairing the proceedings"</i>
as one of many <i>"irregularities"</i> while, of course, the 
<b>real</b> irregularity was the fact that <b>one</b> party (the 
government party) had such a <i>"usual role"</i> in the 
first place! Moreover, given that that Petrograd
soviet meeting to discuss the revolt had Cheka guards
(Lenin's political police) on it, his notion that
sailors guarded the conference of delegates meeting
(a meeting held in opposition to the ruling party)
was <i>"irregular"</i> seems ironic.
<p>
Lastly, he raises the issue of the <i>"Memorandum"</i> of
the White <i>"National Centre"</i> and uses it as evidence
that <i>"Lenin's suspicion of an international conspiracy
linked up with the Kronstadt events has been vindicated."</i>
Needless to say, he fails to mention that the historian
who discovered the document rejected the notion that
it proved that Kronstadt was linked to such a conspiracy
(see 
<a href="secH5.html#sech56">section H.5.6</a> 
for a full discussion). Ironically,
he mentions that <i>"[t]wo weeks after the Kronstadt 
rebellion the ice was due to melt."</i> Two weeks <b>after</b>
the rebellion was crushed, of course, and he fails to
mention that the <i>"Memorandum"</i> he uses as evidence assumes
that the revolt would break out <b>after</b> the ice had
melted, not before. While he claims that <i>"[h]olding
out until the ice melted was identified as critical
in the memorandum,"</i> this is not true. The Memorandum
in fact, as Paul Avrich notes, <i>"assumes that the
rising will occur after the ice has melted."</i> [<b>Op.
Cit.</b>, p. 237f] No other interpretation can be gathered
from the document.
<p>
Altogether, Bakan's article shows how deeply the
supporters of Leninism will sink to when attempting
to discuss the Kronstadt rebellion. Sadly, as we
have indicated many, many times, this is not an
isolated occurrence. 
<p>
<a name="sech515"><H2>H.5.15 What does Kronstadt tell us about Bolshevism?</H2>
<p>
The rationales used by Lenin, Trotsky and their followers 
are significant aids to getting to the core of the Bolshevik 
Myth. These rationales and activities allow us to understand
the limitations of Bolshevik theory and how it contributed
to the degeneration of the revolution.
<p>
Trotsky stated that the <i>"Kronstadt slogan"</i> was <i>"soviets 
without Communists."</i> [Lenin and Trotsky, <b>Kronstadt</b>, p. 90] 
This, of course, is factually incorrect. The Kronstadt slogan 
was <i>"all power to the soviets but not to the parties"</i> (or 
<i>"free soviets"</i>). From this incorrect assertion, Trotsky argued 
as follows:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"to free the soviets from the leadership [!] of the Bolsheviks 
would have meant within a short time to demolish the soviets 
themselves. The experience of the Russian soviets during the
period of Menshevik and SR domination and, even more clearly, 
the experience of the German and Austrian soviets under the 
domination of the Social Democrats, proved this. Social 
Revolutionary-anarchist soviets could only serve as a bridge 
from the proletarian dictatorship. They could play no other 
role, regardless of the 'ideas' of their participants. The 
Kronstadt  uprising thus had a counterrevolutionary character."</i> 
[<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 90]
</blockquote><p>
Interesting logic. Let us assume that the result of free 
elections would have been the end of Bolshevik <i>"leadership"</i> 
(i.e. dictatorship), as seems likely. What Trotsky is arguing 
is that to allow workers to vote for their representatives 
would <i>"only serve as a bridge from the proletarian dictatorship"</i>! 
This argument was made (in 1938) as a <b>general point</b> and is 
<b>not</b> phrased in terms of the problems facing the Russian 
Revolution in 1921. In other words Trotsky is clearly arguing 
for the dictatorship of the party and contrasting it to soviet 
democracy. So much for <i>"All Power to the Soviets"</i> or <i>"workers'
power"</i>! 
<p>
Indeed, Trotsky was not shy in explicitly stating this on occasion.
As we noted in 
<a href="secH5.html#sech513">section H.5.13</a>, 
the <b>Left Opposition</b> based itself
on <i>"Leninist principle"</i> (<i>"inviolable for every Bolshevik"</i>) that 
<i>"the dictatorship of the proletariat is and can be realised only 
through the dictatorship of the party."</i> Trotsky stressed ten years
later that the whole working class cannot determine policy in the 
so-called "workers' state" (as well as indicating his belief that 
one-party dictatorship is an inevitable stage in a "proletarian" 
revolution):
<p><blockquote>
<i>"The revolutionary dictatorship of a proletarian party is for
me not a thing that one can freely accept or reject: It is an
objective necessity imposed upon us by the social realities
-- the class struggle, the heterogeneity oof the revolutionary
class, the necessity for a selected vanguard in order to 
assure the victory. The dictatorship of a party belongs to 
the barbarian prehistory as does the state itself, but we can 
not jump over this chapter, which can open (not at one stroke) 
genuine human history. . . The revolutionary party (vanguard)
which renounces its own dictatorship surrenders the masses
to the counter-revolution . . . Abstractly speaking, it would 
be very well if the party dictatorship could be replaced by 
the 'dictatorship' of the whole toiling people without any 
party, but this presupposes such a high level of political 
development among the masses that it can never be achieved 
under capitalist conditions. The reason for the revolution 
comes from the circumstance that capitalism does not permit 
the material and the moral development of the masses."</i> [Trotsky, 
<b>Writings 1936-37</b>, pp. 513-4]
</blockquote><p>
This is the very essence of Bolshevism. Trotsky is clearly
arguing that the working class, as a class, is incapable
of making a revolution or managing society itself -- hence
the party must step in on its behalf and, if necessary,
ignore the wishes of the people the party claims to
represent. To re-quote Trotsky's comments against the
<b>Workers' Opposition</b> at the Tenth Party Congress in early
1921: <i>"They have made a fetish of democratic principles!
They have placed the workers' right to elect representatives
above the Party. As if the Party were not entitled to assert 
its dictatorship even if that dictatorship clashed with the 
passing moods of the workers' democracy!"</i> He stressed that
the <i>"Party is obliged to maintain its dictatorship . . . 
regardless of temporary vacillations even in the working 
class . . . The dictatorship does not base itself at every 
moment on the formal principle of a workers' democracy."</i> 
[quoted by M. Brinton, <b>The Bolsheviks and Workers' Control</b>, 
p. 78] 
<p>
In 1957, after crushing the 1956 workers' revolution, the 
Hungarian Stalinists argued along <b>exactly</b> the same lines 
as Trotsky had after the Bolsheviks had crushed Kronstadt. 
The leader of the Hungarian Stalinist dictatorship argued 
that <i>"the regime is aware that the people do not always know
what is good for them. It is therefore the duty of the
leadership to act, not according to the <b>will</b> of the people,
but according to what the leadership knows to be in the
best <b>interests</b> of the people."</i> [quoted by Andy Anderson,
<b>Hungary '56</b>, p. 101]
<p>
Little wonder, then, that Samuel Farber notes that <i>"there is 
no evidence indicating that Lenin or any of the mainstream 
Bolshevik leaders lamented the loss of workers' control or 
of democracy in the soviets, or at least referred to these
losses as a retreat, as Lenin declared with the replacement
of War Communism by NEP in 1921."</i> [<b>Before Stalinism</b>, p. 44]
<p>
Such a perspective cannot help have disastrous consequences
for a revolution (and explains why the Bolsheviks failed to
pursue a peaceful resolution to the Kronstadt revolt). The
logic of this argument clearly implies that when the party 
suppressed Kronstadt, when it disbanded non-Bolshevik soviets 
in early 1918 and robbed the workers and soviets of their 
power, the Bolsheviks were acting in the best interests 
of masses! The notion that Leninism is a revolutionary 
theory is invalidated by Trotsky's arguments. Rather than 
aim for a society based on workers' power, they aim for a 
"workers' state" in which workers <b>delegate</b> their power to 
the leaders of the party. Which confirmed Bakunin's argument 
that Marxism meant <i>"the highly despotic government of the 
masses by a new and very small aristocracy of real or 
pretended scholars. The people are not learned, so they 
will be liberated from the cares of government and included 
in entirety in the governed herd."</i> [<b>Statism and Anarchy</b>, 
pp. 178-9]
<p>
Such an approach is doomed to failure -- it cannot produce 
a socialist society as such a society (as Bakunin stressed) 
can only be built from below by the working class itself.
<p>
As Vernon Richards argues:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"The distinction between the libertarian and authoritarian
revolutionary movements in their struggle to establish
the free society, is the means which each proposes should
be used to this end. The libertarian maintains that the
initiative must come from below, that the free society
must be the result of the will to freedom of a large
section of the population. The authoritarian . . . 
believes that the will to freedom can only emerge once
the existing economic and political system has be replaced
by a dictatorship of the proletariat [as expressed by
the dictatorship of the party, according to Trotsky] 
which, as the awareness and sense of responsibility 
of the people grows, will wither away and the free 
society emerge.
<p>
"There can be no common ground between such approaches.
For the authoritarian argues that the libertarian 
approach is noble but 'utopian' and doomed to failure
from the start, while the libertarian argues on the
evidence of history, that the authoritarian <b>methods</b>
will simply replace one coercive state by another,
equally despotic and remote from the people, and 
which will no more 'wither away' than its capitalist
predecessor."</i> [<b>Lessons of the Spanish Revolution</b>, 
p. 206]
</blockquote><p>
Modern day Leninists follow Trotsky's arguments (although they
rarely acknowledge where they logically led or that their
heroes explicitly acknowledged this conclusion and justified 
it). They do not state this position as honestly as did 
Trotsky. 
<p>
Chris Bambery of the British SWP, for example, argues in his 
article <i>"Leninism in the 21st century"</i> that <i>"in Lenin's 
concept of the party, democracy is balanced by centralism"</i>
and the first of three reasons for this is:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"The working class is fragmented. There are always those who 
wish to fight, those who will scab and those in between. Even 
in the soviets those divisions will be apparent. Revolutionary 
organisation does not aspire to represent the working class as 
a whole. It bases itself on those workers who want to challenge 
capitalism, and seeks to organise those to win the majority of 
workers to the need to take power."</i> [<b>Socialist Review</b>, no.
248, January 2001]
</blockquote><p>
This, of course, has <b>exactly</b> the same basis of Trotsky's
defence of the need of party dictatorship and why Kronstadt
was counterrevolutionary. Bambery notes that even <i>"in the 
soviets"</i> there will be <i>"divisions."</i> Thus we have the basic 
assumption which, combined with centralisation, vanguardism
and other aspects of Bolshevism, leads to events like Kronstadt
and the destruction of soviet power by party power. The
arguments for centralisation mean, in practice, the 
concentration of power in the centre, in the hands of
the party leaders, as the working masses cannot be trusted
to make the correct ("revolutionary") decisions. This 
centralised power is then used to impose the will of 
the leaders, who use state power against the very class 
they claim to represent:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Without revolutionary coercion directed against the 
avowed enemies of the workers and peasants, it is 
impossible to break down the resistance of these 
exploiters. On the other hand, revolutionary coercion 
is bound to be employed towards the wavering and unstable 
elements among the masses themselves."</i> [Lenin, <b>Collected 
Works</b>, vol. 24, p. 170] 
</blockquote><p>
In other words, whoever protests against the dictatorship
of the party. 
<p>
Of course, it will be replied that the Bolshevik dictatorship
used its power to crush the resistance of the bosses (and
<i>"backward workers"</i>). Sadly, this is not the case. First,
we must stress that anarchists are <b>not</b> against defending
a revolution or expropriating the power and wealth of the
ruling class, quite the reverse as this is about <b>how</b> a
revolution does this. Lenin's argument is flawed as it 
confuses the defence of the revolution with the defence of
the party in power. These are two totally different things. 
<p>
The <i>"revolutionary coercion"</i> Lenin speaks of is, apparently,
directed against one part of the working class. However, this 
will also intimidate the rest (just as bourgeois repression
not only intimidates those who strike but those who may think 
of striking). As a policy, it can have but one effect -- to
eliminate <b>all</b> workers' power and freedom. It is the violence 
of an oppressive minority against the oppressed majority, not 
vice versa. Ending free speech harmed working class people. 
Militarisation of labour did not affect the bourgeoisie. 
Neither did eliminating soviet democracy or union independence. 
As the dissident (working class) Communist Gavriii Miasnokov 
argued in 1921 (in reply to Lenin):
<p><blockquote>
<i>"The trouble is that, while you raise your hand against the
capitalist, you deal a blow to the worker. You know very well that
for such words as I am now uttering hundreds, perhaps thousands,
of workers are languishing in prison. That I myself remain at
liberty is only because I am a veteran Communist, have suffered
for my beliefs, and am known among the mass of workers. Were it
not for this, were I just an ordinary mechanic from the same
factory, where would I be now? In a Cheka prison or, more likely,
made to 'escape,' just as I made Mikhail Romanov 'escape.' Once
more I say: You raise your hand against the bourgeoisie, but it is
I who am spitting blood, and it is we, the workers, whose jaws are
being cracked."</i> [quoted by Paul Avrich, <b>G. T. Miasnikov and the 
Workers' Group</b>]
</blockquote><p>
This can be seen from the make-up of Bolshevik prisoners. Of the 
17 000 camp detainees on whom statistical information was available 
on 1 November 1920, peasants and workers constituted the largest 
groups, at 39% and 34% respectively. Similarly, of the 40 913 
prisoners held in December 1921 (of whom 44% had been committed 
by the Cheka) nearly 84% were illiterate or minimally educated, 
clearly, therefore, either peasants of workers. [George Leggett, 
<b>The Cheka: Lenin's Political Police</b>, p. 178] Unsurprisingly, 
Miasnikov refused to denounce the Kronstadt insurgents nor would 
he have participated in their suppression had he been called upon 
to do so. 
<p>
Thus, the ideas of centralisation supported by Leninists are 
harmful to the real gains of a revolution, namely working class 
freedom and power (as we noted in 
<a href="secH5.html#sech512">section H.5.12</a>, 
some of them
do not even mention these when indicating the gains of 1917). 
Indeed, this can be seen all through the history of Bolshevism.
<p>
Bambery states (correctly) that <i>"Lenin and the Bolsheviks 
initially opposed"</i> the spontaneously formed soviets of 1905. 
Incredulously, however, he assigns this opposition to the
assertion that their <i>"model of revolution was still shaped 
by that of the greatest previous revolution in France in 1789."</i>
[<b>Ibid.</b>] In reality, it was because they considered, to quote
a leading Bolshevik, that <i>"only a strong party along class 
lines can guide the proletarian political movement and preserve 
the integrity of its program, rather than a political mixture 
of this kind, an indeterminate and vacillating political
organisation such as the workers council represents and cannot 
help but represent."</i> [P. N. Gvozdev, quoted by, Oskar Anweilier, 
<b>The Soviets</b>, p. 77] 
<p>
The soviet, in other words, could not represent the interests
of the working class because it was elected by them! Trotsky
repeated this argument almost word for word in 1920 when he 
argued that <i>"it can be said with complete justice that the 
dictatorship of the Soviets became possible only by means 
of the dictatorship of the party"</i> and that there is <i>"no 
substitution at all"</i> when the <i>"power of the party"</i> replaces 
that of the working class. The party, he stressed, <i>"has 
afforded to the Soviets the possibility of becoming 
transformed from shapeless parliaments of labour into 
the apparatus of the supremacy of labour."</i> [<b>Communism
and Terrorism</b>] How labour could express this <i>"supremacy"</i>
when it could not even vote for its delegates (never mind
manage society) is never explained.
<p>
In 1905, the Bolsheviks saw the soviets as a rival to their 
party and demanded it either accept their political program or
simply become a trade-union like organisation. They feared
that it pushed aside the party committee and thus led to
the <i>"subordination of consciousness to spontaneity."</i>
[Oskar Anweilier, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 78] This was following 
Lenin in <b>What is to be Done?</b>, where he had argued that 
the <i>"<b>spontaneous</b> development of the labour movement leads
to it being subordinated to bourgeois ideology."</i> [<b>Essential
Works of Lenin</b>, p. 82] This perspective is at the root
of all Bolshevik justifications for party power after
the October revolution. 
<p>
Such a combination of political assumptions inevitably
leads to such events as Kronstadt. With the perception
that spontaneous developments inevitably leads to
bourgeois domination, any attempt to revoke Bolshevik
delegates and elect others to soviets <b>must</b> represent
counter-revolutionary tendencies. As the working class
is divided and subject to <i>"vacillations"</i> due to <i>"wavering 
and unstable  elements among the masses themselves,"</i>
working class people simply cannot manage society themselves.
Hence the need for <i>"the Leninist principle"</i> of <i>"the
dictatorship of the party."</i> And, equally logically, to
events like Kronstadt. 
<p>
Thus Cornellius Castoriadis:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"To manage the work of others -- this is the beginning and 
the end of the whole cycle of exploitation. The 'need' for 
a specific social category to manage the work of others in 
production (and the activity of others in politics and in 
society), the 'need' for a separate business management and 
for a Party to rule the State -- this is what Bolshevism 
proclaimed as soon as it seized power, and this is what it 
zealously laboured to impose. We know that it achieved its 
ends. Insofar as ideas play a role in the development of 
history -- and, <b>in the final analysis</b>, they play an enormous 
role -- the Bolshevik ideology (and with it, the Marxist
ideology lying behind it) was a decisive factor in the 
birth of the Russian bureaucracy."</i> [<b>Political and Social 
Writings</b>, vol. 3, p. 104]
</blockquote><p>
Moreover, the logic of the Bolshevik argument is flawed:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"if you consider these worthy electors as unable to look 
after their own interests themselves, how is it that they 
will know how to choose for themselves the shepherds who 
must guide them? And how will they be able to solve this 
problem of social alchemy, of producing a genius from the 
votes of a mass of fools? And what will happen to the 
minorities which are still the most intelligent, most 
active and radical part of a society?"</i> [Malatesta, 
<b>Anarchy</b>, p. 53]
</blockquote><p>
Hence the need for soviet democracy and self-management, of
the demands of the Kronstadt revolt. As Malatesta put it, 
<i>"[o]nly freedom or the struggle for freedom can be the 
school for freedom."</i> [<b>Life and Ideas</b>, p. 59] The <i>"epic
of Kronstadt"</i> proves <i>"<b>conclusively</b> that what belongs
really to <b>the workers and peasants</b> can be <b>neither
governmental nor statist</b>, and what is <b>governmental
and statist</b> can belong <b>neither to the workers nor
the peasants.</b>"</i> [Voline, <b>The Unknown Revolution</b>,
p. 503]
<p>
Anarchists are well aware that differences in political
perspective exists within the working class. We are also
aware of the importance of revolutionaries organising
together to influence the class struggle, raising the
need for revolution and the creation of working class
organisations which can smash and replace the state with
a system of self-managed communes and workers' councils.
However, we reject the Bolshevik conclusion for centralised
power (i.e. power delegated to the centre) as doomed to
failure. Rather, we agree with Bakunin who argued that
revolutionary groups must <i>"not seek anything for themselves, 
neither privilege nor honour nor power"</i> and reject <i>"any 
idea of dictatorship and custodial control."</i> The <i>"revolution 
everywhere must be created by the people, and supreme control 
must always belong to the people organised into a free 
federation of agricultural and industrial associations . . . 
organised from the bottom upwards by means of revolutionary 
delegations . . . [who] will set out to administer public 
services, not to rule over peoples."</i> [<b>Michael Bakunin: 
Selected Writings</b>, p. 172] 
<p>
Anarchists seek to influence working people directly, via
their natural influence in working class organisations
like workers' councils, unions and so on. Only by discussion,
debate and self-activity can the political perspectives
of working class people develop and change. This is impossible
in a centralised system based on party dictatorship. Debate
and discussion are pointless if they have no effect on the
process of the revolution nor if working people cannot elect
their own delegates. Nor can self-activity be developed if
the government uses <i>"revolutionary coercion"</i> against <i>"waving
or unstable elements"</i> (i.e. those who do not unquestioningly
follow the orders of the government or practice initiative). 
<p>
In other words, the fact Bolshevism uses to justify its support 
for party power is, in fact, the strongest argument against it. 
By concentrating power in the hands of a few, the political
development of the bulk of the population is hindered.
No longer in control of their fate, of <b>their</b> revolution,
they will become pray to counter-revolutionary tendencies.
<p>
Nor was the libertarian approach impossible to implement during 
a revolution or civil war. Anarchists applied their ideas
very successfully in the Makhnovist movement in the Ukraine.
In the areas they protected, the Makhnovists refused to
dictate to the workers and peasants what to do: 
<p><blockquote>
<i>"The freedom of the peasants and workers, said the Makhnovists,
resides in the peasants and workers themselves and may
not be restricted. In all fields of their lives it is
up to the workers and peasants to construct whatever
they consider necessary. As for the Makhnovists -- they
can only assist them with advice, by putting at their
disposal the intellectual or military forced they need,
but under no circumstances can the Makhnovists prescribe
for them in advance."</i> [Peter Arshinov, <b>The History of
the Makhnovist Movement</b>, p. 148]
</blockquote><p>
The Makhnovists urged workers to form free soviets and
labour unions and to use them to manage their own fates.
They organised numerous conferences of workers' and peasants'
delegates to discuss political and military developments
as well as to decide how to re-organise society from the
bottom up in a self-managed manner. After they had liberated
Aleksandrovsk, for example, they <i>"invited the working
population to participant in a general conference of the
workers of the city . . . and it was proposed that the
workers organise the life in the city and the functioning
of the factories with their own forces and their own
organisations."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 149] In contrast, the
Bolsheviks tried to <b>ban</b> congresses of workers', peasants'
and soldiers' delegates organised by the Makhnovists
(once by Dybenko and once by Trotsky). [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, pp. 98-104 
and 120-5]
<p>
The Makhnovists replied by holding the conferences anyway, 
asking <i>"[c]an there exist laws made by a few people who 
call themselves revolutionaries, which permit them to outlaw 
a whole people who are more revolutionary than they are 
themselves?"</i> and <i>"[w]hose interests should the revolution 
defend: those of the Party or those of the people who set 
the revolution in motion with their blood?"</i> Makhno himself
stated that he <i>"consider[ed] it an inviolable right of the 
workers and peasants, a right won by the revolution, to call 
conferences on their own account, to discuss their affairs."</i> 
[<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 103 and p. 129] 
<p>
These actions by the Bolsheviks should make the reader ponder 
if the elimination of workers' democracy during the civil war 
can be fully explained by the objective conditions facing 
Lenin's government or whether Leninist ideology played an 
important role in it. Indeed, the Kronstadt revolt occurred, 
in part, because in February 1921 the administration of the 
Baltic Fleet and the Communist Party organisation had collapsed, 
so allowing <i>"unauthorised meetings of ships' crews . . . [to] 
tak[e] place behind the backs of their commissars, there being
too few loyal rank and file party members left to nip them in 
the bud."</i> [I. Getzler, <b>Kronstadt 1917-1921</b>, p. 212]
<p>
Thus, the anarchist argument is no utopian plan. Rather, 
it is one which has been applied successfully in the same 
circumstances which Trotskyists argue forced the Bolsheviks
to act as they did. As can be seen, a viable alternative
approach existed and was applied (see 
<a href="secH6.html">section H.6</a> for more
on the Makhnovists).
<p>
The terrible objective circumstances facing the revolution
obviously played a key role in the degeneration of the
revolution. However, this is not the whole story. The
<b>ideas</b> of the Bolsheviks played a key role as well. The
circumstances the Bolsheviks faced may have shaped certain 
aspects of their actions, but it cannot be denied that the 
impulse for these actions were rooted in Bolshevik theory.
<p>
In regards to this type of analysis, the Trotskyist Pierre 
Frank argues that anarchists think that bureaucratic 
conceptions <i>"beget bureaucracy"</i> and that <i>"it is ideas, 
or deviations from them, that determine the character of 
revolutions. The most simplistic kind of philosophical 
idealism has laid low historical materialism."</i> This means, 
apparently, that anarchists ignore objective factors in the 
rise of the bureaucracy such as <i>"the country's backwardness, 
low cultural level, and the isolation of the revolution."</i>
[Lenin and Trotsky, <b>Kronstadt</b>, pp. 22-3]
<p>
Nothing could be further from the truth, of course. What
anarchists argue (like Lenin before the October revolution)
is that <b>every</b> revolution will suffer from isolation,
uneven political development, economic problems and so
on (i.e. <i>"exceptional circumstances,"</i> see 
<a href="secH5.html#sech512">section H.5.12</a>). 
The question is whether your revolution can survive them 
and whether your political ideas can meet these challenges 
without aiding bureaucratic deformations. As can be seen
from the Russian Revolution, Leninism fails that test. 
<p>
Moreover, Frank is being incredulous. If we take his 
argument seriously then we have to conclude that Bolshevik 
ideology played <b>no</b> role in how the revolution developed. 
In other words, he subscribes to the contradictory position 
that Bolshevik politics were essential to the success of 
the revolution and yet played no role in its outcome.
<p>
The facts of the matter is that people are faced with choices, 
choices that arise from the objective conditions they face. 
What decisions they make will be influenced by the ideas they 
hold -- they will not occur automatically, as if people were 
on auto-pilot -- and their ideas are shaped by the social 
relationships they experience. Thus, someone placed into a 
position of power over others will act in certain ways, have 
a certain world view, which would be alien to someone subject 
to egalitarian social relations. 
<p>
So, obviously "ideas" matter, particularly during a revolution. 
Someone in favour of centralisation, centralised power and who 
equates party rule with class rule (like Lenin and Trotsky), 
will act in ways (and create structures) totally different from 
someone who believes in decentralisation and federalism. In other 
words, political ideas do matter in society. Nor do anarchists 
leave our analysis at this obvious fact, we also argue 
that the types of organisation people create and work in 
shapes the way they think and act. This is because specific 
kinds of organisation have specific authority relations and 
so generate specific social relationships. These obviously affect
those subject to them -- a centralised, hierarchical system will 
create authoritarian social relationships which shape those 
within it in totally different ways than a decentralised, 
egalitarian system. That Frank denies this obvious fact 
suggests he knows nothing of materialist philosophy and
subscribes to the distinctly lobotomised (and bourgeois)
"historical materialism" of Lenin (see Anton Pannekoek's
<b>Lenin as Philosopher</b> for details). 
<p>
The attitude of Leninists to the Kronstadt event shows quite 
clearly that, for all their lip-service to history from below, 
they are just as fixated with leaders as is bourgeois history. 
As Cornellius Castoriadis argues:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Now, we should point out that it is not workers who write 
history. It is always the <b>others</b>. And these others, whoever 
they may be, have a historical existence only insofar as the 
masses are passive, or active simply to support them, and 
this is precisely what 'the others' will tell us at every 
opportunity. Most of the time these others will not even 
possess eyes to see and ears to hear the gestures and 
utterances that express people's autonomous activity. In 
the best of instances, they will sing the praises of this 
activity so long as it <b>miraculously</b> coincides with their 
own line, but they will radically condemn it, and impute 
to it the basest motives, as soon as it strays therefrom. 
Thus Trotsky describes in grandiose terms the anonymous 
workers of Petrograd moving ahead of the Bolshevik party 
or mobilising themselves during the Civil War, but later 
on he was to characterise the Kronstadt rebels as 'stool 
pigeons' and 'hirelings of the French High Command.' They
lack the categories of thought -- the brain cells, we might 
dare say -- necessary to understand, or even to record, 
this activity as it really occurs: to them, an activity 
that is not instituted, that has neither boss nor program, 
has no status; it is not even clearly perceivable, except 
perhaps in the mode of 'disorder' and 'troubles.' The 
autonomous activity of the masses belongs by definition 
to what is <b>repressed</b> in history."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 91]
</blockquote><p>
The Trotskyist accounts of the Kronstadt revolt, with 
their continual attempts to portray it as a White 
conspiracy, proves this analysis is correct. Indeed, the
possibility that the revolt was a spontaneous mass revolt
with political aims was dismissed by one of them as <i>"absurd"</i>
and instead was labelled the work of <i>"backward peasants"</i>
being mislead by SRs and spies. Like the capitalist who
considers a strike the work of "outside agitators" and
"communists" misleading their workers, the Trotskyists 
present an analysis of Kronstadt reeking of elitism and
ideological incomprehension. Independence on behalf of
the working class is dismissed as "backward" and to be
corrected by the "proletarian dictatorship." Clearly
Bolshevik ideology played a key role in the rise of
Stalinism.
<p>
Lastly, the supporters of Bolshevism argue that in suppressing 
the revolt <i>"the Bolsheviks only did their duty. They defended 
the conquests of the revolution against the assaults of 
the counterrevolution."</i> [Wright, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 123] In 
other words, we can expect more Kronstadts if these 
"revolutionaries" gain power. The <i>"temporary vacillations"</i>
of future revolutions will, like Kronstadt, be rectified
by bullets when the Party <i>"assert[s] its dictatorship
even if its dictatorship clashes even with the passing
moods of the workers' democracy."</i> [Trotsky, quoted by
M. Brinton, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 78] No clearer condemnation of
Bolshevism as a socialist current is required.
<p>
And, we must ask, what, exactly, <b>were</b> these "conquests" 
of the revolution that must be defended? The suppression of 
strikes, independent political and labour organisations, 
elimination of freedom of speech, assembly and press and, 
of course, the elimination of soviet and union democracy 
in favour of part dictatorship? Which, of course, for all 
Leninists, is the <b>real</b> revolutionary conquest. Any one 
who attacks that is, of course, a counter-revolutionary 
(even if they are workers). Thus:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Attitudes to the Kronstadt events, expressed . . . years
after the event often provide deep insight into the
political thinking of contemporary revolutionaries. They
may in fact provide a deeper insight into their conscious
or unconscious aims than many a learned discussion about
economics, or philosophy or about other episodes of
revolutionary history.
<p>
"It is a question of one's basic attitude as to what socialism
is all about. what are epitomised in the Kronstadt events
are some of the most difficult problems of revolutionary
strategy and revolutionary ethics: the problems of ends 
and means, of the relations between Party and masses, in
fact whether a Party is necessary at all. Can the working
class by itself only develop a trade union consciousness?
. . .
<p>
"Or can the working class develop a deeper consciousness
and understanding of its interests than can any
organisations allegedly acting on its behalf? When
Stalinists or Trotskyists speak of Kronstadt as 'an
essential action against the class enemy' when some
more 'sophisticated' revolutionaries refer to it as
a 'tragic necessity,' one is entitled to pause for
thought. One is entitled to ask how seriously they
accept Marx's dictum that 'the emancipation of the
working class is the task of the working class itself.'
Do they take this seriously or do they pay mere lip
service to the words? Do they identify socialism
with the autonomy (organisational and ideological)
of the working class? Or do they see themselves,
with their wisdom as to the 'historic interests'
of others, and with their judgements as to what
should be 'permitted,' as the leadership around
which the future elite will crystallise and develop?
One is entitled not only to ask . . . but also
to suggest the answer!"</i> [<i>"Preface"</i>, Ida Mett's
<b>The Kronstadt Uprising</b>, pp. 26-7]
</blockquote><p>
The issue is simple -- either socialism means the 
self-emancipation of the working class or it does 
not. Leninist justifications for the suppression of 
the Kronstadt revolt simply means that for the 
followers of Bolshevism, when necessary, the party 
will paternalistically repress the working class for 
their own good. The clear implication of this 
Leninist support of the suppression of Kronstadt is 
that, for Leninism, it is dangerous to allow working 
class people to manage society and transform it as they 
see fit as they will make wrong decisions (like vote for 
the wrong party). If the party leaders decide a decision 
by the masses is incorrect, then the masses are 
overridden (and repressed). So much for <i>"all power
to the soviets"</i> or <i>"workers' power."</i>
<p>
Ultimately, Wright's comments (and those like it) show 
that Bolshevism's commitment to workers' power and 
democracy is non-existent. What is there left of 
workers' self-emancipation, power or democracy when 
the "workers state" represses the workers for trying 
to practice these essential features of any real form 
of socialism? It is the experience of Bolshevism in 
power that best refutes the Marxist claim that the 
workers' state "will be democratic and participatory." 
The suppression of Kronstadt was just one of a series of 
actions by the Bolsheviks which began, <b>before</b> the start 
of the Civil War, with them abolishing soviets which 
elected non-Bolshevik majorities, abolishing elected 
officers and soldiers soviets in the Red Army and Navy 
and replacing workers' self-management of production by 
state-appointed managers with <i>"dictatorial"</i> powers (see 
sections <a href="secH4.html">H.4</a> and 
<a href="secH5.html#sech52">H.5.2</a> for details). 
<p>
As Bakunin predicted, the "workers' state" did not, 
could not, be "participatory" as it was still a state.
Kronstadt is part of the empirical evidence which proves 
Bakunin's predictions on the authoritarian nature of Marxism. 
These words by Bakunin were confirmed by the Kronstadt 
rebellion and the justifications made at the time and 
afterwards by the supporters of Bolshevism:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"What does it mean, 'the proletariat raised to a governing class?'
Will the entire proletariat head the government? The Germans
number about 40 million. Will all 40 million be members of the
government? The entire nation will rule, but no one would be
ruled. Then there will be no government, there will be no
state; but if there is a state, there will also be those who
are ruled, there will be slaves.
<p>
"In the Marxists' theory this dilemma is resolved in a simple
fashion. By popular government they mean government of the
people by a small number of representatives elected by the
people. So-called popular representatives and rulers of
the state elected by the entire nation on the basis of
universal suffrage -- the last word of the Marxists, as
well as the democratic school -- is a lie behind which
the despotism of a ruling minority is concealed, a lie
all the more dangerous in that it represents itself as the
expression of a sham popular will.
<p>
"So . . . it always comes down to the same dismal result:
government of the vast majority of the people by a privileged 
minority. But this minority, the Marxists say, will consist of 
workers. Yes, perhaps, of <b>former</b> workers, who, as soon as 
they become rulers or representatives of the people will 
cease to be workers and will begin to look upon the whole 
workers' world from the heights of the state. They will no 
longer represent the people but themselves and their own 
pretensions to govern the people. . . 
<p>
"They say that this state yoke, this dictatorship, is a
necessary transitional device for achieving the total
liberation of the people: anarchy, or freedom, is the
goal, and the state, or dictatorship, the means. Thus,
for the masses to be liberated they must first be 
enslaved. . . . They claim that only a dictatorship
(theirs, of course) can create popular freedom. We
reply that no dictatorship can have any other objective
than to perpetuate itself, and that it can engender
and nurture only slavery in the people who endure it.
Liberty can only be created by liberty, by an
insurrection of all the people and the voluntary
organisation of the workers from below upward."</i> 
[<b>Statism and Anarchy</b>, pp. 178-9]
</blockquote><p>
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