The Finnish Communist Revolution (1918) PART 5: THE WHITE GUARD

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ORIGINS OF THE WHITE GUARD:

The Finnish white guard had 3 or 4 different roots, which eventually merged.

1) The activist committee, a secret nationalist organization. The activist committee organized for thousands of Finns to travel to Germany and train in the German military for a future war with Russia. They would later play a large part and the alliance with Imperial Germany would be crucial for the Whites. The pro-german fanaticism of some capitalists went so far as to support Finland becoming a German protectorate with a German king as the Finnish ruler. Since early 1917 the activist committee was the white guard central command until the creation of the white army.

2) The military committee, an organization created from Finnish officers in the Russian Tsarist military. This would function as the core of the Finnish white army and the leader of the Finnish white army, Mannerheim was also an ex-Tsarist officer.

3) White guards were formed locally to protect the property of the capitalists and landowners from the poor population. The capitalists hoarded large amounts of food while the population starved. The white guards would prevent the food from being taken by the hungry masses. The white guards would attack workers on strike, and also protect strike breakers. Workers would often demonstrate for better conditions and more rights, surrounding government buildings etc. and the capitalist politicians would bring the white guards to break up the demonstrations.

4) The only “legitimate” use for the white guards was to prevent criminality. However in practice they were almost always targeting the working class for political reasons. There was one famous incident of unruly Russian soldiers murdering a Finnish citizen, and this was used as a justification for keeping and strengthening the white guard. However, this too had a political element since the Russian soldiers largely sided with the working class. They were from worker and peasant backgrounds and in most cases had killed their Tsarist officers during the February revolution. The remaining Tsarist officers looked to the white guards for protection.

In reality there was no need for a white guard police force since there already existed a militia specifically for this purpose. The problem with the militia was that it had a large working class presence and the capitalists couldn’t use it to break strikes, attack innocent workers and demonstrations. The militia itself would sometimes go on strike to demand bread and political rights.

“In the cities the police was dismantled in early April [1917] and replaced by a worker militia or in other ways brought under working class control. In different parts of the country mass meetings of workers demanded unpopular officials to step down. The power structure was flipped on its head…” (Suodenjoki & Peltola, p.188)

“The influence of the organized workers was also demonstrated by the fact that… the [tsarist] police was replaced by a newly formed militia, the man power and leadership of which was formed primarily by organized workers” (Hyvönen, pp. 42-43)

The militia was perfectly suited for preventing crime but was not sufficient for the capitalists to maintain their repression of the organized workers. The capitalists needed to create a fully anti-worker military force, which would in every situation side with the rich elites against the people. This is why the white guard was created.

“During the strikes of Spring and Summer the workers had already gotten a taste of what… strong [bourgeois] rule of law meant; white guards had shot and beaten unarmed strikers. It was known that the bourgeoisie was training and arming their class guards against the working class movement. With these armed forces the bourgeoisie planned to crush the working class organizations, to strip workers of the right to assemble etc…” (Hyvönen, p.84)

Another example was also the demonstration of August 1917 in Malmi, a municipality near Helsinki:

“In Malmi, near Helsinki, workers surrounded the municipal building on 13. of August [1917] to get their demands passed. About thirty white guard soldiers arrived from Helsinki to save the surrounded officials… the white guards together with ex-members of the tsarist police beat the workers with their batons.* …In Spring and early Summer the class struggle had not yet resulted in any deaths, although some were wounded, but in August there were the first casualties.

The food question was still to be solved. On the night of 14. of August the municipal workers of Helsinki began a strike demanding action to save especially the elder, sick and children from famine and starvation.** The Senate did not take any action.” (Holodkovski, p.39)

* source: I.I. Syukiyainen. The revolutionary events of 1917-1918, p. 77
** source: Proceedings of the Helsingfors Council of Deputies of the Army and Workers, 6 (19). Viii. 1917, No 119.

“In the Spring and Summer of 1917 the Finnish working masses mobilized to improve their poor living conditions and to carry out those necessary reforms which the bourgeoisie, allying itself with the Tsar attempted to prevent at all cost, especially the 8-hour working day and to gain at least some working class representation in the municipal organs. Now the bourgeoisie no longer had the tsarist police as their protection; it had been dismantled in the February revolution and in its place had been formed a militia, where the workers in all population centers had a significant influence. The bourgeoisie did not yet have large amounts of armed class organizations with the exception of the few secret activist [committee] organizations. For this reason the bourgeoisie had to give itself to the merciful protection of the Russian provisional government… to prevent the working class movement from carrying out its democratic reforms. This attempt to gain protection from the provisional government didn’t stop at advocating the provisional government’s right to interfere in Finnish affairs, the bourgeoisie also wanted the armed forces of the provisional government to attack the working class movement. This happened in connection with several strikes.

The newspaper “The worker” reported on 24. of April 1917 that the director of Lehtoniemi machine workshop owned by baron Wrede had sent a message to the Soviet of Russian soldiers in Helsinki mostly humbly asking to send soldiers to protect the “state property” held by the workshop “from possible damage”. A similar attempt to provoke Russian soldiers to attack striking workers happened e.g. during the shipbuilders’ strike in Helsinki; the bourgeoisie accused the workers of supposedly being armed and preventing work. Also during the municipal strike of Rauma the bourgeoisie encouraged Russian soldiers to attack peaceful striking workers. As late as August [1917] when the bourgeoisie also had their white guard projects well under way, and had thousands of rifles from Germany the bourgeoisie in Oulu attempted to provoke Russian soldiers to attack the workers holding a meeting at the workers’ club.

In all these cases the soviets of Russian soldiers investigated the situation and recognized them as attempts to end the workers’ struggles for rights by drowning them in blood.

When the bourgeoisie saw its own powerlessness before the masses and when the Russian soldiers even sided with the democratic rights of the workers, it began organizing its armed forces to stifle the workers’ struggle. It wasn’t satisfied with only secretly arming itself, but began using armed forces against unarmed workers. Terror attacks against workers’ meetings and strikers became the order of the day.

The worst attacks were faced by agricultural workers and tenant-farmers who had begun demanding improvements in their conditions, an 8-hour working day and in some cases wage increases. The large mansion owners showed their true character by trying to crush the justified demands of the workers. The newspaper “The Worker” reported at the beginning of May that during the strike of the Latokartano Manor owned by Westermarck, the owner… threatened to slaughter the 700 head cattle in its entirety as revenge of the workers’ demands…

Armed strike breaker forces were recruited from old Tsarist police officers, criminal thugs and in general the most reactionary elements of society. In addition reactionary university students, property owners, businessmen and officials were recruited. These strike breaker groups patrolled armed with guns in different villages, terrorizing striking farm-workers.

One of the most heinous attacks against peaceful farm-workers happened in Huittiset on July 13. A group of striking workers was headed to the Huittiset dairy building where the landowners had gathered. When the loose group of workers approached the dairy building, white guard soldires hidden behind piles of logs opened fire on the unarmed workers. Seven strikers were wounded. This information given by the Finnish information bureau was supplemented by a worker newspaper “The Social-Democrat” appearing in Pori at the time, which reported that the strikers had already agreed before hand to not use arms under any circumstances, nor had they been prepared to use arms.

Few days after the massacre in Huittiset another attack against striking workers happened in Suodenniemi. Strikers had peacefully stood on the road and told strike breakers working on the field, who had been gathered from different villages, that they were breaking a strike. At that moment armed strike breakers had attacked the strikers at the instructions of the local constable.” (Hyvönen, pp. 43-46)

Peltola and Suodenjoki refer in their book to another bourgeois historian Viljo Rasila, and verify that “Near the end of the large strike in Suodenniemi, there was a conflict… fought using staffs, cudgels and scythes… Strike breakers got the upper hand and two farm-workers suffered serious injuries.**” (Suodenjoki & Peltola, p.205)

* Viljo Rasila, “Vuoden 1917 maantyöntekijäin lakot” (“Farm-workers’ strikes of 1917”)
** Juhani Piilonen, Sastamalan historia 3. 1860-1920 (History of Sastamala 3. 1860-1920)

Peltola and Suodenjoki also state that for example in the municipality Satakunta “…strikes were the main reason for the creation of the white guard.” (p.211)

“In the cities the bourgeoisie began already in the Spring to create their armed class guards. The bourgeoisie had threatened to use these guards already… but didn’t have the courage yet. On 17. of August at the Helsinki stock exchange building, white guards disguised as militia men attacked workers demonstrating against the city council, and beat them with batons. Soon the bourgeoisie had organized a nationwide class army to smash the working class movement. The working class press took notice of the bourgeoisie arming itself. The newspaper “The Worker” wrote on 23. of August 1917 stating that due to the [February] revolution, the bourgeoisie had lost their foreign protector [the Russian Tsar] and also the [Tsarist] police… It had begun creating an armed class military.” (Hyvönen, p. 46)

“…[T]o counter food confiscation agricultural producers and other bourgeois citizens began independently creating their own police forces, whose mission was defined as protection of property. This angered the workers… The workers considered the food storages [of the capitalists] to be against the food-supply law and thus considered the “white guards” created to protect them as illegal” [Marja-Leena Salkola, Työväenkaartien synty ja kehitys punakaartiksi 1917-18 ennen kansalaissotaa] (Suodenjoki & Peltola, p. 219)

“After the Tsarist gendarmerie had been dismantled and the police replaced by a militia, where the workers held significant influence, and after the Russian troops had gone to the side of revolution, the bourgeoisie realized that it didn’t have any organized armed force to protect itself against the numerically superior and quite well organized working class. This is why already in the Spring of 1917 the bourgeoisie began creating its own fighting forces, whose purpose was supposedly protecting the safety of civilizens and protection of property from vandalism and criminality. Their creation seemed timely and for this reason, even some workers initially joined these organizations (chapters were formed under the name of sport societies and volunteer fire departments and only later they began everywhere to be called white guards)… The bourgeoisie did not admit that the white guards were its class organizations. The white guards were the bourgeoisie’s military force, with which it believed to create the order it desired.

In Southern Finland where the rural workers’ strike movement began to spread already in April and May, white guards were created especially to fight strikes. In Northern Finland they were being created to oppose Russian soldiers [who sided with the workers]. Soon control of the nationwide organization and action of the white guard was given to the secret Activist Committee.

The Activists had already since before WWI kept connections to Germany and organized the sending of couple thousand young Finnish men to Germany for military training. They were preparing a war to separate Finland from Russia with German help, even if that meant Finland would become reliant on Germany. In June 1917 the Activist Committee divided Finland into regions for better coordination of the white guards. In July a central office for the white guards was created. It was located in Helsinki under the harmless sounding false name of “The new forest office”. The central office held secret communication with local organizations as well as Sweden, Germany and the Finnish Jäger battalion… [i.e. the Finnish soldiers serving and being trained in the German army]

For this new army, weapons for 100,000 men were collected in Danzig. In October 1917 explosives were shipped from Umeå [in Sweden] to Vaasa [the secret white Capital in Finland], from where white guard members transported them in fish barrels and their luggage to local organizations. At the end of October the ship “Equity” left from Germany. To camoflage it, the Russian name “Mir” was painted on the ship’s side and a red flag was waving in its mast. This ship brought the white guards large amounts of rifles (some sources say 4500, others 7000), machine guns (according to some sources 30, according to others 100), 2,800,000 bullets, 1500 hand grenades, 2000 pistols and explosives Weapons were secretly bought from Russia through the [white guard] Vyborg regional organization founded in July and in the Autumn through the harmless sounding [white guard organization] Karelian citizen’s league (this league was funded by a banker, a factory owner and four wholesalers) and through the Finland committee founded in Petrograd…

By creating white guards the bourgeoisie started a process which would develop due to its inherent laws logically towards civil war. The workers could not interpret it as anything else then preparation for an armed attack against them. Despite bourgeois propaganda and press saying otherwise, realities spoke a clear message: white guards were being used to break strikes. Workers reacted to the founding of white guards with determination: to avoid being at the mercy of an armed opponent, workers began creating their own peace-keeping forces… for self-defency purposes.”
(Holodkovski, pp. 29-31)

The Activist Committee had wormed itself to the highest levels of the government:

“…[M]ember of the nationalist Activist Committee…[senator] Åkerman… agreed to handle [the bourgeois senate’s] food issues if he was given authority to gather necessary food supplies to suitable locations. [Source: “Suomen vapaussota vuonna 1918” I, pp. 294-295]

Food, transportation vehicles and other supplies for a white army were stored in Southern Ostrobothnia in preparation for civil war. The Activist Committee had played an important part in creating the white guards and was now recognized as an official organ of the state, and given responsibility to draft the new conscription law and develop the bourgeois military forces. Ignatius, chairman of the committee that drafted the new conscription law proposed in a meeting of investors and industrialists on 3. of October [1917] that they would provide 3 million marks to fund the white guards. In this meeting 9 million marks worth of checks and bonds were collected.
[Source: Ibid. pp. 295-296]
” (Holodkovski pp. 35-36)

“…alongside the Activist Committee founded in 1915, a Military Committee consisting of ex-Tsarist officers was created and recognized as an official state organ by the Svinhufvud senate on 7. of January [1918]. Gustaf Mannerheim was appointed the committee’s chairman on 15. of January.”
(Pekka Myllyniemi: Ajautuminen sisällissotaan, Länsi-Uusimaa, 17.1.2018) https://www.lansi-uusimaa.fi/blogi/598630-pekka-myllyniemi-ajautuminen-sisallissotaan

THE WHITE ARMY:

Between late 1917 and early 1918 the white guards were organized into an army. The capitalists had collected millions of marks, tens of thousands of weapons, created a secret capital for the future white guard dictatorship, made connections with their foreign allies and assembled a large armed force. The white guard was recognized as the official state military of Finland by the Svinhufvud government. Mannerheim was appointed its commander. Lets examine the composition of this army:

“In the 20 Southern Ostrobothnian white guard detachments 59% of the soldiers were wealthy farmers and their sons, 8% tenant-farmers, 6% farm workers, 21% workers and 6% officials, students etc.” (Holodkovski, p.307)

“On the other hand for example in the Jyväskylä white guard military district the around one third of those who fell in battle were officials, shop-keepers, students and teachers, foremen, doctors and other wealthier people, even a bank director. Another third were landowning farmers and a third tenant-farmers, workers and farm hands. Capitalists, investors and bankers constituted only a tiny minority of the population. While officials, doctors, military men, police officers and other somewhat wealthier people often sided with the whites, the real bulk of the white army consisted of independent farmers, especially wealthy farmers, and their relatives. This army was then enlarged by forced conscription of the poorer classes. ” (Holodkovski, pp.307-308)

“…regarding armed struggle the bourgeoisie could rely on the officials, who spread accross the whole country and thus could form a nationwide organizational network. The city enterpreneurs and intellectuals, as well as technical experts in industry were largely active supporters of bourgeois policy. The nobility and other large landowners were passionate enemies of the working class movement. The influence of the bourgeoisie also spread itself strongly to independent farmers who had been frightened with the notion that the workers wanted to steal the peasantry’s land.

In military matters the bourgeoisie was in an enormously better position, in the amount of trained and experienced officers it had. The so-called “white army” had 11 people with the rank of general… 480 graduates from the old Finnish cadet school. There were 403 officers and 724 NCOs among jägers. The whites received 118 NCOs from the Vöyri military academy. 27 active officers arrived from Sweden. In total the white officer core was 1700 persons. Initially the whites threw 10,000 men at the front. But in February they had to resort to forced conscription, through which they increased the number to 32,000 men.

According to the whites themselves their army was already 10,000 by the end of 1917, 36,000 by April and 70,000 by the end of the war…

The whites also had better weaponry. Already in October of 1917 they received 7000 rifles, large amounts of machine guns, hand-grenades, bullets etc. from Germany. At the end of January the whites also managed to steal 7880 rifles, 1 ,143,000 bullets, 10 machine guns and 12 cannons from the demoralized Russian troops in Northern Finland. Two more weapon shipments arrived from Germany containing 140,000 rifles and more then 83 million bullets, 250 machine guns, 500,000 hand-grenades and 32 cannons with ammunition. On top of all this they received other weapons and equipment of all kinds, such as pistols, radios and field telephones etc.

The whites also had confirmed knowledge about Germany’s intervention since February; at the beginning of March there was already an exact agreement. Furthermore the whites got a Swedish brigade on their side. Individual officers and volunteers arrived from other nordic countries. Russian counter-revolutionary officers also aided the white war effort.” (Hyvönen, pp. 91-92)

SOURCES:

Suodenjoki & Peltola, Köyhä Suomen kansa katkoo kahleitansa: Luokka, liike ja yhteiskunta 1880-1918 (Vasemmistolainen työväenliike Pirkanmaalla osa 1)

Hyvönen, Suurten tapahtumien vuodet 1917-1918

Holodkovski, Suomen Työväenvallankumous 1918

I.I. Syukiyainen. The revolutionary events of 1917-1918

Известия Гельсингфорсского совета депутатов армии и рабочих, 6 (19). VIII. 1917, No 119. (Proceedings of the Helsingfors Council of Deputies of the Army and Workers, 6 (19). Viii. 1917, No 119.)

Viljo Rasila, “Vuoden 1917 maantyöntekijäin lakot” (“Farm-workers’ strikes of 1917”)

Juhani Piilonen, Sastamalan historia 3. 1860-1920 (History of Sastamala 3. 1860-1920)

Marja-Leena Salkola, Työväenkaartien synty ja kehitys punakaartiksi 1917-18 ennen kansalaissotaa<

H. Soikkanen, kansalaissota dokumentteina

J. Paasivirta, Suomen itsenäisyyskysymys 1917

“Suomen vapaussota vuonna 1918”

“Пролетарская революция”, No 2

Luokkasodan muisto, ed. Juho Mäkelä
https://helda.helsinki.fi/handle/10138/157351

Pekka Myllyniemi: Ajautuminen sisällissotaan, Länsi-Uusimaa, 17.1.2018
https://www.lansi-uusimaa.fi/blogi/598630-pekka-myllyniemi-ajautuminen-sisallissotaan

“Ilkan ja Poutun pojat. Etelä-pohjalaisten sota-albumi”, ed. A. Leinonen

“Keskisuomalaiset sotapolulla. Kappale Suomen vapaussodan historiaa”, ed. S. Kuusi

Erinnerungen, G. Mannerheim

Sosialistit pyrkivät itsenäistämään Suomea jo heinäkuussa 1917 – porvarit harasivat vastaan (https://yle.fi/uutiset/3-9710204)

A Wave of strikes and workers’ struggles in Finland

On 11th of November Finnish postal services went on strike. The strike initially included about 9000 workers. The strike began because of an attempt to severely cut the workers wages.

It is worth pointing out that the postal services are of course owned by the state, and Finland currently has a “social-democratic” government, which pretends to be on the side of the workers.

The pay cuts were planned together by the leaders of the postal services (Posti Group) and state politicians. The supposedly “leftist” social-democrats were pushing these wage cuts.

Events like this can be severely demoralizing to the workers, because they feel like they have nobody to turn to. If the right-wing parties implement wage cuts, the workers will naturally vote for the social-democrats instead. But if the social-democrats themselves are implementing wage cuts just like the right-wing parties – then what can the workers do? Become confused, apathetic, surrender to the mercy of the capitalist corporations.

As communists it is our job to point out that social-democrats are not real leftists. They are frauds. They are mere servants of the capitalists. When push comes to shove, the social-democrats never side with the workers. They never side with workers when the going gets hard. The strikers received absolutely no help from the social-democrats in the government.

The social-democrats have shown themselves to be frauds once again, and all honest, class conscious workers must instead side with communists. Communists and some independent progressives, trade-unions and the workers themselves were the only ones supporting the strikers. Even the “Left Alliance“ Party sided with the government, not the workers.

After the strike had lasted two weeks, on 25th of November it expanded to include various other workers related to the postal services in the Post and Logistics Union (PAU). The amount of strikers reached over 10 000.

The Service Union United (PAM), Finnish Seafarers´ Union (FSU), Finnish Aviation Union (IAU), Finnish Food Workers’ Union (SEL) and Finnish Electrical Workers´ Union joined in the struggle by striking in solidarity or boycotting the postal services. They wouldn’t deliver or handle packages for them, electrical workers wouldn’t repair electrical issues for the postal service etc. Transport Workers’ Union (AKT) and The Trade Union for the Public and Welfare Sectors (JHL) also announced short strikes and other actions in solidarity.

The postal service workers announced they would strike at least until Christmas unless their demands are met. Further strikes in solidarity by other unions were promised for December.

The Industrial Union is in the middle of its own struggle against the governments’ and the capitalists’ attempts to increase work hours without increasing pay. The Industrial Union voiced its solidarity for the strikers, and announced it would also go on strike in select work places and companies starting December 9th.

 

The conclusion of the strike

The strike ended on 27th of November with a defensive victory by the workers.

The Post and Logistics Union said in their announcement:

“PAU prevented the employers attempts to significantly lower wages and implement worse labor contract terms. [The attempt to switch certain workers to worse labor terms] was prevented…”

(translated from:
https://www.pau.fi/viestinta/ajankohtaista/lakot-paattyivat-mita-neuvottelutulos-pitaa-sisallaan.html )

It was completely outrageous to try to cut wages of postal workers. They are already poorly paid, and perform demanding and necessary work. They are already understaffed and underpaid as a result of austerity, cuts and lay-offs by the government.

The government and the capitalists clearly thought the workers were completely crushed and apathetic, if they would allow this to happen. But they were wrong. The workers finally had enough, and rose up to fight for their rights. This demonstrates that there is a limit to how much the workers will tolerate!

As a further result, the minister responsible for state owned companies was forced to step down. The Social-democrats now pretend that they had nothing to do with this entire farce, and instead put all the blame on the state ownership minister. The right-wing parties in the opposition to the Social-democrats now opportunistically use this to bolster their support. But we should remember how catastrophic the policies of the previous government of the Right-wing “National Coalition”, The Center Party and the Nationalist “Finns Party” were. The previous government was a government of the 3 most right-wing parties, and their policies were even worse for the people: privatizing healthcare, increasing unpaid work hours, massive lay-offs in state owned workplaces etc.

The parties in the parliament are all the same. The only solution for thinking, honest and class conscious working people is to side with communists.

 

What can we learn about this strike?

We can clearly see the treacherousness of Social-democrats and reformists. Further, we can see that workers will defend their interests when pushed far enough.

That said, the strike was merely a defensive action. The strike succeeded in defending the workers this time, but the capitalists will restart their attack again. We shouldn’t be satisfied completely with this result. We need to work towards improving the conditions of the workers.

 

What should we do?

Our task is to use situations like these strikes to increase the level of class consciousness. Workers are conscious enough to defend their interests against capitalist wage cuts, but not yet conscious enough to split with social-democrats and reformists. We have to use situations like this to tell workers that capitalism tries to screw them over.

If in your work environment its not possible to talk about communism, you should instead just criticize capitalist corporations, corrupt social-democrat and capitalist politicians etc. and tell your co-workers how important it is to belong to a trade-union.

We have to demonstrate to workers that their interests are the polar opposite of the capitalists’ interests, and that they must break with social-democrats and reformists. Workers must stop supporting bourgeois parties and must oppose reformist leaders in trade-unions.

Strikes and protests like this are an opportunity for us to push people further to the left and to radicalize them, as well as recruit those who are already more sympathetic. It is important for communists to belong to trade-unions, and be as active in them as possible because they are a more favorable place for us communists to spread our views, and to gain and maintain solid ties with the working class.

 

Update: Prime minister resigns

In the aftermath of the strike, the Centre Party, the main government partner of the Social-democrats turned against the Social-democrats and gave a motion of no confidence to towards the prime minister.

The prime minister resigned on 3. of December.

The Finnish Communist Revolution (1918) PART 4: CAPITALIST DICTATORSHIP AND WAR PREPARATIONS

The Capitalist government of Svinhufvud prepares for a war against the working masses and builds their dictatorship (1917-18).

400px-Jaakaripataljooa_libaussa

Finnish jägers trained in Germany

The Regency: First Attempt at Capitalist dictatorship

A regent is a person who rules temporarily in place of a monarch because the monarch is dead or absent. Essentially he is a dictator. The preferred choice of the capitalist class was to create a three member regency (three member dictatorship) to rule Finland. They did not want democracy.

A white guard author writes:
“On December 8. chairman of the parliament Johannes Lundson presented for the parliament the secretariat’s proposal that the power previously held by the Tsar grand-duke be given to a regency created for this purpose” (Erkki Räikkönen, Svinhufvud ja itsenäisyyssenaatti, p. 10)

“The next day after Soviet power had been established in Russia, the bourgeoisie raised the question of power in the parliament. The presidium of the parliament proposed the creation of a three member regency. The social-democrats proposed… calling a constitutional assembly… [which] was defeated with 106 against and 90 in favor… Therefore the parliament decided to create the three member regency which in actuality held dictatorial power. Originally its members were to be Svinhufvud [bourgeois], Alkio [agrarian league] and Tokoi [social-democrat]. But since social-democrats and the agrarian league had opposed creating the regency, they were to be replaced [with bourgeois politicians]…”
[source: E. W. Juva, Suomen kansan historia, V. Tie itsenäisyyteen ja itsenäisyyden aika (1899-1956), p. 146]
(Holodkovski, Suomen työväen vallankumous 1918, pp. 45-46)


In the internal power struggles the regency project was still eventually defeated, largely because the capitalists were forced to capitulate during the December 1917 general strike. The capitalists held power in the Senate, which was a remnant from the time of Tsarism. They only had a slight majority in the parliament, so they always saw preserving the Tsarist senate as their best bet. The petit-bourgeois Agrarian league supported parliamentarism and opposed the regency idea, while the social-democrats preferred the parliament to dictatorship or to the Tsarist senate, but really wanted a constitutional assembly which would overhall the entire Finnish state, dismantle the Tsarist senate etc.

A white guard propaganda work “Svinhufvud and the independence senate” published in 1935, laments the failure of the regency. The author wants to point out that Finland had a Tsarist monarchist constitution and for this reason, making the parliament the ruling body was wrong:

“Since the regency… couldn’t be created yet the parliament decided for now, to use the power previously held by the Tsar Grand-duke… Until the last moment the right-wing parliament members had tried to prevent the passing of this law, but the parliament desired to take this power into its own hands even though it was against the spirit and purpose of our constitution. Right-wing representative Antti Mikkola gave his opposition to the law in strong terms. “The parliament has been made into the ruling body, which history has demonstrated to be the worst of all government systems and particularly prone to oppress the people and individual liberty.”
(E. Räikkönen, Svinhufvud ja itsenäisyyssenaatti, pp. 20-21)

The same white guard author quotes the capitalist leader Svinhufvud as saying:

“”In my opinion, the parliament shouldn’t have become the wielder of the highest power, and instead since the monarch is absent [the Tsar was overthrown] it should have chosen a regent for the country,” said Svinhufvud.” (Räikkönen, pp. 36-37)

The capitalists went back and forth about the idea of establishing a monarchy. Finland had been under Swedish and Russian monarchist rule for centuries, so this seemed fitting to some capitalists. There were pro-Swedish, pro-Russian and pro-German factions within the capitalist class, as well as supporters of monarchy and supporters of military dictatorship. They did not have a consistent plan on what kind of dictatorship they wanted or how to establish it, but the one thing they did consistently was oppose democracy. At minimum they would hold on to the Tsarist era senate and not give full power to the parliament. At most they would establish full monarchy or dictatorship if they could get away with it. (About bourgeois monarchism see Talas, Suomen itsenäistyminen ja Mannerheimin muistelmat p. 61)


“Strong rule of Law”
: Second Attempt at Capitalist dictatorship


At the beginning of 1918 the capitalist government of Svinhufvud adopted the slogan of “Strong rule of law” which meant giving the right-wing senate special powers, crushing the red guards and establishing white guards as the official state military of Finland. The capitalist class was tired of the power vacuum and no longer tolerated any challenge to its power. The capitalist class had been caught off guard by the December 1917 general strike and realized that if the workers decided to rise up, the capitalists needed to be armed and prepared to crush the workers. The capitalists wanted to disarm the workers and establish the class army of the capitalists, the white guard, as the only armed power. The workers and poor peasants would no longer have any ability to demand change. No solution to the food crisis, no solution to unemployment, no land reform. The capitalists were not willing to grant the demands of the people, instead they would cling to their privileged position through force of arms.

“The bourgeoisie attempted… to pass a bill for the creation of a standing army. The issue was discussed in the parliament on 9. of January 1918. In the vote almost half (91 against 94) of parliament members opposed handing the bill to a committee, i.e. opposed passing the bill. The bourgeoisie chose to pursue the matter a different way: it was proposed to give senate special powers to create a strong policing force solely under the senate’s control, which supposedly was needed to smash the spreading “anarchy”. According to senator Castren, the parliament should give the senate the authority for all those actions it sees necessary for creating strong rule of law.” (Holodkovski, pp. 140-141)

“After Finland was granted independence by Soviet-Russia at the beginning of January, the internal situation of the country had developed to an explosive point… The armed forces of the bourgeoisie had been mobilized and were being gathered especially in Southern Ostrobothnia. In mid January all over the country white guards began systematic attacks on workers’ organizations and individual small red guard organizations.

In the parliament the working class leadership attempted to impeach the [capitalist] government of Svinhufvud, but in vain, because that government had turned into an outright dictatorial organ, not accountable to the parliament after the agrarian league party had abandoned the struggle for the Power Act [which made the Finnish parliament the highest governing organ, as opposed to the senate that had been established by the Tsar] and began to support the government of “strong rule of law”. The slogan of “strong rule of law” proclaimed by the Svinhufvud government, together with the bourgeois class militias, the white guard, being declared the only legal armed forces clearly signified a declaration of war against the working class.” (Hyvönen, p. 95)
In order to establish its full power and dictatorship, the capitalist class prepared for civil war, a military attack against the working class. The capitalists began to secretly build a network of white guard organizations throughout the country, and a white army in Southern Ostrobothnia, a kulak region in the middle of Finland. The working class was not preparing for war, the capitalists were. The capitalist government of Svinhufvud decided to establish their secret capital in the city of Vaasa, where they would lead their attack. They needed weapons and funding. For money they turned to the bankers and capitalists. For weapons they turned to the governments of Germany and Sweden. Finnish officers from the old Tsarist army would serve as their commanders.

“A former Tsarist general G. Mannerheim was appointed supreme commander of the whites on 16. of January. Two days later he travelled to Vaasa in Southern Ostrobothnia, which the whites had already beforehand chosen as the base area of their war effort. The bourgeoisie’s war preparations had advanced the furthest in Southern Ostrobothnia. 60 jägers [i.e. soldiers trained in Germany] and others had already worked there for quite some time training white troops. A white military academy was functioning in Vöyri [in Southern Ostrobothnia]. Large amounts of food supplies had also been stored in Southern Ostrobothnia for the war.

Southern Ostrobothnia was suitable as a white base area also because there were no large working class centers, instead the majority of the population were independent landowning peasants, who e.g. didn’t share the oppression of the tenant-farmers. In selecting Southern Ostrobothnia as their base, the bourgeoisie also split the country in half and calculated that they could defeat the red guards near the coast of Southern Lapland soon after the beginning of the war. This would get them in immediate connection with Sweden, whose military aid the whites put great hopes in.”
(Hyvönen, pp. 95-96)

“[Later] on 26. of January the senate [would] relocate… itself to Vaasa where the white guards had already began their attack… Agreeing to the demand that the red guards be dismantled, would have meant surrendering to the mercy of the armed bourgeoisie. Among the party leadership and working class population this was clearly understood and opposed… The party committee… declared on 15. of January… “The senate plans to attack the working class with its white guards – The workers’ guards are absolutely necessary for the self-defense of the workers… Due to the bourgeoisie’s blatant policy of coup’de’tat class struggle in the country may greatly escalate…”
(Hyvönen, pp. 96-97)
The social-democrat minority in the parliament attempted to stop the capitalists from establishing their dictatorship. The effort was unsuccesseful. The social-democrats still hoped the conflict could be avoided.

“Working class [parliamentary] representatives warned the bourgeoisie to not embark on this road. They showed that the white guards had been created as the fighting force of the bourgeois class and they had been used in many provocational attacks against the working class. Recognizing them as the official state army of Finland would mean an outright declaration of class war.

The bourgeoisie had already chosen the path of attacking the workers and poor peasants. It did not want to heed any warnings” (Hyvönen, p.84)

“Social-democrats warned that granting the senate the special powers it requested would mean a declaration of war against the working class. The warning did not work however. After a tremendously stormy debate… the parliament granted the senate special powers on 12. of January. The decision sparked a storm of denounciations by the social-democrats… Social-democrat Pärssinen said that as he looks upon the gloating bourgeoisie he is reminded of the words of the Bible: “Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep.” Parliament member Kujala warned the bourgeoisie to remember: he who sows wind, reaps poison. [source: minutes of the 2. Finnish diet 1917, I p. 944]
The decision by the bourgeoisie in the parliament to give senate special powers was seen as a preparation for civil war by the working class press. Later the swedish newspaper “Dagens Nyheter” [daily news] compared the decision to a coup’de’tat. [source: Dagens nyheter, 26.III.1918] On January 13. large worker demonstrations took place against the parliament’s decision…

The same day a youth demonstration of 15,000 participants took place in Helsinki with slogans: “Down with the bloodthirsty bourgeois representatives!”, “Down with militarism!”, “No military of any kind!”” [source: P. Notko, Katsauksia Suomen työtätekevän nuorison luokkataisteluliikkeen historiaan, I osa, p. 159, Известия Гедьсингфорсского совета (Proceedings of the Hedsingfors Soviet) 14(1).I.1918] (Holodkovski, pp. 142-143)

“Immediately after receiving the special powers from the parliament, the senate created two new police organizations and began hurriedly to look for weapons. Svinhufvud sent a coded message to Gripenberg the Finnish representative in Stockholm: “I ask that you immediately authorize Thesleff… [who was in Germany] to begin purchasing weapons. Advise him to make an arrangement for sending those citizens of free and neutral Finland back home, who are currently in the German military [the jägers], arrange their travel to Finland without delay on the first ship and the purchased weapons to be brought with them.” [source: “Kommunisti”, 1933, no.1, p. 42] Another telegram to Gripenberg said: “Hurry with sending the weapons bought from Sweden to Vaasa [the future white capital].” [source: “Vapaus”, 1918, no. 1, p. 7] The Finnish delegates in Germany Hjelt, Erich and Sario turned to Ludendorff on 19. of January and requested the Finnish jäger battalion as well as weapons and military supplies to be sent to Finland soon.” [source: Y. Nurmio, Suomen itsenäistyminen ja Saksa, p. 59] (Holodkovski, pp. 143-144)

“The government had already been preparing for civil war. The counter-revolution chose as its base the middle and northern regions of the country, where the population mainly consisted of landowning peasants. Stores of food and military supplies had been collected in Southern Ostrobothnia and the white guard nucleous gathered there, funds from the Finnish national bank were secretly shipped to Kuopio [in Northern Savonia, in the middle of Finland]. [source: Erinnerungen, G. Mannerheim, p. 167] Ex-members of the Tsarist military were given secret orders on 6. and 7. of January to immediately take leave on “personal reasons” and travel to Southern Ostrobothnia… [source: “Työ”, 29.I.1918] Svinhufvud secretly appointed general Mannerheim as the supreme leader of the Finnish armed forces on 16. of January.” (Holodkovski, p. 144)

The capitalist class had a skillful conspiracy under way. They were collecting millions of marks, thousands and tens of thousands of riffles, millions of bullets, food supplies for an entire army. They were gathering officers trained in Germany or in the Tsarist military, requesting aid from the governments of Sweden and Germany. They had a network of conspiratorial white guard groups all throughout the country. The capitalists were armed to the teeth and prepared to attack the working class, to install a dictatorship and strip the workers of any power to demand rights.

 

“The bourgeoisie in the parliament were building police forces and a military… The bourgeoisie’s talk about building up strong law and order caused uneasiness in workers around the country… The fears of the working population were intensified when on 12. of January the parliament authorized the senate to create a government organ for this purpose. The social-democrats opposed this as they feared it would turn into a class-police, aiming at subjugating the workers.

“The working class movement leadership’s relationship with violence varied. A minority supported embarking on the path of violent revolution, but the majority of the parliamentary group and trade union leaders as well as party leaders were clearly against revolution. [Source: Aimo Klemettilä, Tampereen punakaarti ja sen jäsenistö, p. 60, Hannu Soikkanen, Kohti kansan valtaa I. 1899-1937. Suomen sosiaalidemokraattinen puolue 75 vuotta, p. 270]

However the parliament’s decision to create a strong police force played a part in influencing leading party figures… to slide towards the supporters of an armed solution. As the party council met in Helsinki on 19. of January news began to come from Vyborg about white guard mobilization. The news sharpened the opinions of several members of the council… Grip of the working class movement began to shift to the radical elements, and revolutionary activity ended up being only a matter of time. In the end only very few of even the moderate socialist leaders refused to join or support armed struggle.” [sources: Turo Manninen, “Tie sotaan” Teoksessa itsenäistymisen vuodet 1917-1920. 1. Irti Venäjästä, pp. 407-409, Jaakko Paavolainen, Poliittiset väkivaltaisuudet Suomessa 1918 I. “Punainen terrori”, p. 80, Mikko Uola, “Seinää vasten vain!” Poliittisen väkivallan motiivit Suomessa 1917-18, p. 206
(Suodenjoki & Peltola, Köyhä Suomen kansa katkoo kahleitansa: Luokka, liike ja yhteiskunta 1880-1918 (Vasemmistolainen työväenliike Pirkanmaalla osa 1). pp. 253-254)

“The attempt to create this strong police authority made civil war inevitable, because under the conditions of Finland at that time it could only mean the violent disarming and dismantling of the workers’ guards, which could only be done through armed battles. At the same time the bourgeoisie couldn’t avoid taking this step, because it considered that not taking decisive action against the growing workers’ guards would mean to surrender to the mercy of their class enemy and to be a policy of suicide, which would inevitably lead to the destruction of the bourgeois system.”  (Holodkovski, p. 142)

 

WHO WAS MANNERHEIM – “THE WHITE GENERAL”?

Mannerheim_rakuuna

 

“Earlier Baron Kustaa Mannerheim had achieved fame… through his loyalty to the Tsar who oppressed Finland. This guard officer who had achieved success in his career (In the coronation ceremony of Nicholas II he had the honor of standing next to the throne) didn’t have any second thoughts about the violence the Tsar was carrying out against his homeland Finland. The illegal [nationalist newspaper] “Fria Ord”… had included Mannerheim’s name among those shameful Finnish officers in the Russian army who had not resigned due to the Tsar’s Russification policy. Even Mannerheim’s own family was not safe from the Russification policy: his older brother bank director Carl Mannerheim was deported from Finland to Sweden where his youngest brother Johan also saw best to move. When Kustaa Mannerheim decided to participate in the Russo-Japanese war his family expressed their surprise that he could join a war on behalf of the Tsar that oppressed his homeland. [source: Historiallinen aikakauskirja, no. 1, pp. 40, 41.]

However Mannerheim participated both in the Russo-Japanese war and the First World War. After the February Revolution he resigned from the military with his rank of general and returned to Finland. Then he realized that the Finnish bourgeoisie needed a “strong hand”… and since then it became as favorable for him to disguise himself as a patriot as it had previously been to reject patriotism. The bourgeoisie turned the old loyal servant of the Tsar, to a leader of a patriotic movement, even though the general had to talk with Finnish people using some other language, because his Finnish was poor. While talking to his subordinates during the war he had to rely on an interpreter. [source: E. Heinrichs, Mannerheim Suomen kohtaloissa, I. Valkoinen kenraali 1918-1919, p.101; M. Rintala, Four Finns. Political Profiles, p.20.]

Many Finnish bourgeois were unhappy about this, and about the fact that Mannerheim still had a Russian soldier [Ignat Kondratjevitš Karpatšev] who only spoke Russian as his soldier-servant.” [source: S. Jägerskiöld, Gustaf Mannerheim 1918, p.34]
(Holodkovski, p. 145)

“Soon after returning to Finland, Mannerheim who at the beginning of January 1918 had been made chairman of the Military Committee [white guard organization consisting of ex-Tsarist soldiers] explained to the Committee that revolutionaries could arrest them at any time in Helsinki, and therefore it was necessary without delay to travel North and create an army and central command there. [source: Jägerskiöld, pp. 27-29]

“According to senator Arajärvi Mannerheim had already been appointed head of all armed forces by the senate. During war conditions all officials and citizens had to obey his orders and instructions at once… [cf. A. Beranek, Mannerheim, p. 120]The bourgeoisie voluntarily handed power to a military dictator, who was to crush the revolutionary working class with an iron fist and create “order”. Mannerheim being appointed supreme commander was kept secret for some time, it was announced only on 27. of January.

On 18. of January 1918 Mannerheim traveled to Southern Ostrobothnia under a false name, to finalize war preparations… At the same time the so-called Military Committee [organization of ex-Tsarist officers], which became the White central command also traveled to Southern Ostrobothnia…

Mannerheim called Axel Ehrnrooth the head of Privatbanken in Helsinki on 19. of January, and said he needs 3 million marks in Vaasa immediately. A special fund had already been created in Privatbanken on 9. of October 1917 where big capitalists donated money for the suppression of “anarchy” i.e. to protect against revolution. By 19. of January the fund had 5,676,239 marks.

Ehrnrooth… considered it necessary to receive guarantees from the senate that after “order” had been established the state would refund the money of the bank and the “donors”… Ehrnrooth waited over two and a half hours to speak to Svinhufvud and only gave instructions to send the money after Svinhufvud had said “of course everything will be paid back to you”… (After the revolution had been crushed, literally few hours after Mannerheim had arrived to Helsinki Ehrnrooth came to hand him a bill of 9,019,330 marks. Mannerheim had received this sum from Privatbanken during the civil war. Already on 27. of May the bank was repaid the money to the last penny. [source: Jägerskiöld, p. 405] The victorious bourgeoisie paid the war expenses from the state treasury.)” (Holodkovski, pp. 145-148)

SOURCES:

Erkki Räikkönen, Svinhufvud ja itsenäisyyssenaatti

Holodkovski, Suomen Työväenvallankumous 1918

E. W. Juva, Suomen kansan historia, V. Tie itsenäisyyteen ja itsenäisyyden aika (1899-1956)

Hyvönen, Suurten tapahtumien vuodet 1917-1918

Minutes of the 2. Finnish diet 1917
Dagens nyheter, 26.III.1918

P. Notko, Katsauksia Suomen työtätekevän nuorison luokkataisteluliikkeen historiaan, I osa

Известия Гедьсингфорсского совета (Proceedings of the Hedsingfors Soviet) 14(1).I.1918

“Kommunisti”, 1933, no.1

“Vapaus”, 1918, no. 1

Y. Nurmio, Suomen itsenäistyminen ja Saksa

Erinnerungen, G. Mannerheim

“Työ”, 29.I.1918

Aimo Klemettilä, Tampereen punakaarti ja sen jäsenistö

Hannu Soikkanen, Kohti kansan valtaa I. 1899-1937. Suomen sosiaalidemokraattinen puolue 75 vuotta

Turo Manninen, “Tie sotaan” Teoksessa itsenäistymisen vuodet 1917-1920. 1. Irti Venäjästä

Jaakko Paavolainen, Poliittiset väkivaltaisuudet Suomessa 1918 I. “Punainen terrori”

Mikko Uola, “Seinää vasten vain!” Poliittisen väkivallan motiivit Suomessa 1917-18

Suodenjoki & Peltola, Köyhä Suomen kansa katkoo kahleitansa: Luokka, liike ja yhteiskunta 1880-1918 (Vasemmistolainen työväenliike Pirkanmaalla osa 1)
Historiallinen aikakauskirja, no. 1

E. Heinrichs, Mannerheim Suomen kohtaloissa, I. Valkoinen kenraali 1918-1919

M. Rintala, Four Finns. Political Profiles

S. Jägerskiöld, Gustaf Mannerheim 1918

A. Beranek, Mannerheim

The Finnish Communist Revolution (1918) PART 3: FAILURE OF REFORMISM

2550 -1809 8106 . N26809,137519

In the years immediately prior to the revolution, the Finnish socialists were heavily reformist. The party had always wanted to act legally and win concessions from the capitalist class. Eventually all attempts at reformism would end up in failure and in late 1917-early 1918 the party would find itself pushed to a revolutionary situation against its will by the objective conditions, the masses and the actions of the capitalist class. But before that in the period of 1916 to 1917 the social-democrats exhausted every avenue of legal reformism before ever seriously considering revolutionary action: parliamentarism, trade-unionism, demanding of concessions. Each attempt ended in failure, in the end making a violent class conflict unavoidable.

 

THE 1916 ELECTION VICTORY: Attempt at parliamentary reformism

The first grand moment for reformism was the historic election victory of 1916 where the socialists emerged as the largest party and held a parliamentary majority.

“…in the elections of 1916 the social-democratic party of Finland won (as the first workers’ party in the world) an absolute majority of parliamentary seats (103 seats out of 200). This was an enormous victory and persuaded the social-democrats to believe that under normal political conditions, when the parliament would function, laws favorable to the workers could be implemented peacefully.

Indeed, Finland unexpectedly gained such favorable conditions without any struggle from its part. In Petrograd [Russia], workers and soldiers overthrow czarism. In Finland, state of war ended and bourgeois democratic liberties were returned… Finns received the opportunity to create their own government, the senate. Governor-general Seyn and chairman of the senate Borovitinov were imprisoned and taken to Petrograd (where they were released). Stakhovich, a liberal more favorable to Finland, was appointed governor-general. It is doubtful that Finland could have expected conditions any more favorable under the Russian bourgeois republic.

Immediately after the overthrow of czardom, Finnish workers began creating first in the capital and then also in rural areas their own representative bodies, workers’ “representative assemblies” modeled after the Russian soviets… Representative assemblies (called soviets in some localities) functioned alongside local governing bodies (which had previously not been open to lower classes) and took part in administration. “(Holodkovski, The Finnish Workers’ Revolution 1918, pp.8-9)

“The party’s membership began to increase once again in 1916. One reason was the success that social-democrats got in the parliament elections… Among the important questions in the victorious elections of 1916, were the worsening food situation, and attitude towards the increasingly russified Finnish senate [the socialists wanted to give power from the senate to the Parliament, while the bourgeoisie supported the senate]. However the most important theme of the elections was the tenant-farmer question. Every party had their tenant-farmer program but the social-democrats put special emphasis on this question.”
(Suodenjoki & Peltola, Köyhä Suomen kansa katkoo kahleitansa: Luokka, liike ja yhteiskunta 1880-1918 (Vasemmistolainen työväenliike Pirkanmaalla osa 1), pp.181-182)

Due to obstructionism from the capitalist class and from Tsarist Russia, the social-democrats were forced into a coalition government, hindering their work:

“The social-democratic party, which had won the majority now possessed the unquestionable right to form a government. However the matter was made more difficult by the fact that the social-democratic party would have had to collaborate with bourgeois parties, which in socialist circles would have been considered betrayal of working class interests. For this reason the social-democrats announced on 23. of march their refusal to form a government, and to leave it up to bourgeois parties. Bourgeois parties were also afraid to take responsibility to form a senate. At that point the governor-general’s assistant Korff announced that unless a new senate is formed, the old Russian senate “loyal to the czar” would remain in power. This would have been intolerable. The social-democrats had to change their position on forming the senate… In their opinion, it was acceptable to form a government with representatives from the social-democratic party and the [petty-bourgeois] agrarian league, i.e. representatives from the workers’ and peasants’ parties. Again disagreements arose. The agrarian league demanded that representatives of bourgeois parties also be invited to join in the government. In this way, the social-democrats failed to avoid a coalition government.” (Holodkovski, p.9)

“Soon it became even more evident that social-democrats would not achieve much through parliamentary methods, despite their strong position in the highest government organs of Finland (half the senate seats and majority in the parliament). Bourgeois senators could rely on the chairman of the senate, the governor-general if the need arose, and his vote could at any moment grant them majority. Later [revolutionary leader and founder of the Finnish communist party] Kuusinen compared the coalition senate to a stubborn bull which was being pulled forward by its horns by the social-democrats and back by its tail by the bourgeoisie, the bull never moving at all. Additionally the Russian provisional government intervened in Finnish affairs and Finland could not resist its actions… Objective conditions did not allow social-democratic senators the opportunity to improve the position of the workers. The role of the social-democratic senators was limited to collaborating with the bourgeoisie, attempting to minimize the dissatisfaction of the population and in reality to strengthen the type of government which did not fulfill the interests of the population… The senate was stripped of its reputation before it could even do anything. But even when it did act, it didn’t win respect in the eyes of the workers but instead began receiving their scorn.”(Holodkovski, p.10)

“The social-democrats’ participation in the highest executive organ only put them in a bad light in the eyes of the workers, because the workers didn’t benefit from it.

The activity of social-democrats in the parliament proved much the same. Social-democrats only had little over half the seats. But passing changes to important laws (e.g. the constitution or reforms to taxation laws) required a two thirds majority.

The senate and parliament were the typical arena of the social-democrats’ legal activity. Legal activism is possible also in non-revolutionary situations, and therefore it was not characteristic to that time period. What was characteristic to the situation, was the ever larger non-parliamentary action by the working population. The large size of the popular movement is explained by the increased dissatisfaction of the workers, removel of the threat of repression by the authorities and the inspiring effect of the revolutionary activities of the Russian soldiers and sailors. Non-parliamentary methods corresponded to the needs of the active struggle by the people.” (Holodkovski, p.11)

The social-democrat government came to an end when the Russian Provisional Government dismantled the Finnish parliament after the social-democrats together with the agrarian league passed the Power Act, a bill for Finnish independence, making the Finnish parliament independent from Russia. The capitalists worked together with Russia to destroy the social-democrat government and to prevent this bill from being implemented. (See episode 1 of this series about the independence struggle of Finland.)

Thus due to obstructionism the social-democrats’ parliamentary hopes were frustrated. Nothing was achieved but they lost credibility in the eyes of their supporters. At the same time the capitalists were motivated to unite and campaign harder in order to combat the social-democrats in the parliament. The social-democrats no longer could inspire the same level of confidence in their voters as before. They also had a confused policy of opposing the illegal dismantling of the Finnish government by Russia, but still not boycotting the elections to create a new government. This did not help them gain support. The people thought: “what was the point of voting for them, if they would achieve nothing and the parliament would be dismantled again?”

“Social-democrats suffered a defeat in the elections of october 1-2 [1917], which surprised them. Although, the amount of social-democrat votes increased, it was 444,608 when it had been 376,030 in previous elections. [source: J. Paasivirta, Suomen itsenäisyyskysymys 1917 [Finnish independence question 1917], II, pp. 41-44]
The increase in votes of other parties was larger, e.g. the agrarian league grew by 71,6%.
[source: H. Soikkanen, kansalaissota dokumentteina, [civil war as documents] pp. 186-188]
The development of events in the summer and fall of 1917 lead to parliamentarism being seen more and more as a dissappointment by the workers. The social-democrats joining in the government (senate), any more then their parliamentary majority, did not bring significant improvements to the workers. “The people’s paper” made the following summary about the 10 year history of the single chamber parliament:

“Now ten years later we have returned to our starting point and can see that we are just as far from our goals as we were ten years ago… The task of the single chamber, most democratic parliament in the world, has been in these ten years, to sink into sand the foaming stream of progress and change, which then was unleashed by revolution.”
[source:
H. Soikkanen, p.153]

The paper explained that the workers had gone through a hard schooling. They began to understand that the strength of the working class was not in the amount of votes, but in the power and fighting capacity of their fighting class organizations. The paper emphasized that it was possible to mention achievements during this period of ten years, but all of them had been achived through non-parliamentary means. [source: H. Soikkanen, p.154]

These things were written about 2 months before the dismantling of the [Finnish] parliament [by the Russian provisional government to stifle Finnish independence]. The dismantling of the parliament destroyed the last parliamentary illusions and demonstrated the complete unreliability of bourgeois promises.” (Holodkovski, p.38)

 

“WE DEMAND”: Still hoping for peaceful reforms

Reformism suffered a severe blow after the social-democrats inability to pass any reforms during the time when they had parliamentary majority. The capitalist parties together with Russia destroyed the social-democrat majority and defeated them in elections. The social-democrats could no longer hope to pass laws and instead chose to rely on the support of the masses and directly demand concessions from the bourgeoisie:

“On December 1. when the new parliament was in session, the social-democratic leadership published their programmatic declaration “We demand”, which presented the basic demands of the workers. To combat the food shortages it urged to confiscate all food stores, to put production and trade of goods under strict control and distribute goods equally and with reasonable prices. The declaration demanded that the unemployed be given work at adequate wages. New municipal elections had to be carried out according to the newly passed law. [These would be the first municipal elections where workers had equal votes with capitalists. In the previous system, people with more property were entitled to more votes.] Officialdom is to be purged of reactionaries and made democratic. The white guard must be dismantled. The 8-hour working day must immediately be implemented. Tenant farmers and farm workers are to be made rightful owners of their homes and land… An insurence system for the elderly must be created and the tax system reformed. In questions dealing with the sovereign rights of Finland it was urged that the Power Act, accepted by the parliament on 18th of February be published and insisted on guaranteeing the internal autonomy of Finland until the question of Finnish independence has been solved in full. It was also demanded that a constitutional assembly be created and given unlimited authority in solving the country’s affairs and to accept a new constitution. Elections to the constitutional assembly were to be carried out equally among all citizens 20 years or older and decisions must be passed in the assembly with a simple majority. [source: И. И. Сюкияйнен Революционные события 1917-1918, [revolutionary events 1917-1918] pp. 286-289] (cf. Suodenjoki & Peltola, pp. 245-246)

These were the demands of Finnish social-democrats at that time. They didn’t attack the base of the capitalist system, but demanded a substantial limiting of the selfish interests of the ruling classes as well as the weakening of these classes in the government alongside a strengthening of the workers.

The bourgeois majority in the parliament refused these demands as entirely unacceptable. A week after the “We demand” declaration, it was already clear where revolutionary and non-revolutionary methods lead under similar conditions: Lenin’s tactics lead to the world historic victory of socialist revolution in Russia, but the tactics of Finnish social-democrats lead to the bourgeoisie ignoring all the demands of the Finnish working class and the electoral achievements of the social-democrats ended up being worth nothing.” (Holodkovski, pp. 41-42)

The “We Demand” document was naturally limited to simple reforms, but even those could not be achieved. The capitalist class was simply not willing to make compromises. Concessions could not be gained by begging but only by forcing the capitalists to give them!

 

THE DECEMBER 1917 GENERAL STRIKE: Workers take matters into their own hands

After attempts to pass reforms through the parliament had failed, and capitalists had refused to give them, the masses were ready to take them by force, to make life tolerable for the Finnish people. A minority of the social-democrat leaders suggested beginning a working class revolution, but majority still wanted to only pressure the capitalists to force them into concessions.

“Because the bourgeois majority in the parliament paid no heed to the workers’ demands, they began a general strike on the night of December 14. [The leading social-democratic body] The revolutionary central committee presented the strikers’ demands in a declaration titled “Working people to battle for bread and rights! Stop the presses!” (Hyvönen, p.53)

“On December 12. part of the Revolutionary Central Committee and representatives of the trade-unions held a joint meeting… Kuusinen proposed that if the parliament doesn’t satisfy the workers’ demands about the rationing of food, helping the unemployed, extending the municipal voting rights to workers etc. then the workers must take power into their own hands. Some others shared this opinion… Gylling, Pietikäinen, Visa, Väisänen and Saarikivi – opposed beginning a revolution. In their opinion the workers would not be able to keep power for long. Many thought it unlikely that the workers could handle massive nationwide problems. Majority opposed taking power. The decision to pressure the bourgeoisie and attempt to win the reforms of the “We demand”-proclamation, was passed with 18 votes against 8. To help these reforms pass even partially the social-democrats divided them into 6 separate propositions and the demands which offended the bourgeoisie the most – the demand for calling a constitutional assembly and dismantling the white guard – were dropped entirely.” (Holodkovski, pp.50-51) (Cf. E. Räikkönen, Svinhufvud ja itsenäisyyssenaatti, p. 17)

This demonstrates that the leadership in late 1917 was divided into revolutionaries and reformists. The reformists constituted a solid majority of 18 against 8. The social-democrat party did everything it could, to appease the workers and begged the capitalists to grant reforms which were denied, nearly every single time. And when ever a reform was granted, it was not due to the action of the social-democrats but because the workers took matters into their own hands.

“The 4th Congress of the Finnish Trade-Union Federation met on December 12. [1917]. It pointed out that the conditions of the workers were so hopeless and unbearable, that unless the congress is ready to make radical decisions, the workers will take matters into their own hands. The food question was top most in importance… Many… deputees saw revolution as the only thing that could save the workers from starvation. Deputee Hakkinen said that unless the working class rises up to fight they will all starve to death… Deputee Pyttynen said that in Ostrobothnia the workers were eagerly waiting for the decisions of the congress and were willing to die in order to put them into effect… The deputee from Tampere said that workers of the city have decided to either win or die. Deputee Lampinen said that in many localities the workers have already began to take action, because it is better to die in battle then to do nothing and die of hunger. Some delegates said that they had been told by the workers, that unless the congress accepted radical decisions the delegates would not be welcomed back. The workers were not worried about the shortage of weapons. The delegate from Tornio said the Russian soldiers had promised they would have weapons. The delegate from Oulu also said the soldiers sided with the revolution.
[source: H. Soikkainen, pp.353-356]

The attitude of the workers was generally so firm, that there could never be a better time for revolution. However the attitude of the popular masses inspired uneasiness among some working class leaders. These leaders did not aim to overthrow the capitalists but to only pressure them and force them to accept the most important demands, in order to dissolve the revolutionary energy that had built up.

The congress of trade-union organizations published a declaration on December 13. which stated that nothing had been done in order to satisfy the demands which the trade-union delegation had made to the senate on October 20. The trade-union congress demanded that the parliament order the senate already that same day, to implement the Power Act [of Finnish sovereignty], the 8-hour working day and give parliament the right to control all of government. If this was not done, the workers would begin a general strike, the responsibility of which would fall to the bourgeoisie.”
(Holodkovski, pp.51-52)

“The general strike put forward the same demands that had been presented in the “We demand”-programme, demanded solving of the food crisis and unemployment, implementation of the power act [which guaranteed Finnish independence from capitalist Russia], fair municipal elections as well as the 8-hour working day, freeing the tenant farmers from the landlords, extending electoral rights to all citizens age 20 or older, taxing the rich and calling a constitutional assembly. The social-democratic deputies presented these demands in the parliament on behalf of the Finnish Trade-Union Federation on December 13th. The demands were read aloud by deputy Vuoristo who further appealed to the [capitalist] deputies with these words: “After the great masses have seen these demands, —it is no longer in our power to control or lead the situation—history and the minutes of the meeting will demonstrate that from our side we have attempted a peaceful solution. You have every single time refused—I wonder if you still refuse—these modest demands, which you yourselves have claimed to support, and yet have not implemented. Will you plunge our nation into catastrophe because you refuse such modest demands?” (Hyvönen, pp.60-61)

“Social-democrat Vuoristo read the declaration in parliament and emphasized it was supported by 170,000 trade-union workers, as well as all the politically organized workers, i.e. 250,000 citizens.” [source: minutes of the 2. Finnish diet 1917, I pp.98-99] (Holodkovski, p.52, )

“The general strike of 1905 had involved also the bourgeois officials and no bourgeois party had dared to oppose it. The 1917 general strike on the other hand was of a different character. It began from the atmosphere created by the October Revolution, as a revolutionary struggle of the working class and poor rural population against the bourgeoisie. In 1905 the workers had already fought against their own national bourgeoisie when it had allied with the Russian Czar to minimize the democratic parliamentary reform. But in the general strike of 1917 the workers targeted primarily the bourgeoisie of their own country and fundamentally it was nothing else then a struggle for power. The strike spread accross the country and gained right away the character of a sharp class conflict. At this stage the bourgeoisie didn’t yet feel themselves strong enough to enter into open conflict with the workers. The bourgeoisie did have a fairly extensive network of white guard organizations and it had received more then 7000 rifles from Germany along with other weapons. But the initiative was with the workers, and the strike could paralyze the entire country’s transportation, even administration. In the largest working class population centers power was in the hands of worker militias, workers’ “delegate assemblies” [soviets] or councils of working class organizations. Tens of thousands of workers and peasants joined the militias which began to declare themselves red guards. In many localities workers occupied police stations and regional government buildings, and confiscated food and weapons hidden away by the bourgeoisie. The development of the strike in this way lead to a sharpening of class antagonisms.” (Hyvönen, pp.61-62)

Revolutionary leader Yrjö Sirola described the situation in this way:

“The strike spread quickly all over the country and acquired a revolutionary character. The working class was no longer satisfied in asking for the reforms presented in the “We demand”-programme and the disarming of white guard organizations, but began demanding conquest of power. In reality, in large parts of the country (especially in cities and rural working class centers) power was already uncontestedly in the hands of revolutionary working class organizations.” (Sirola, Suomen luokkasota)
The workers take control of cities all over the country.

“…the Revolutionary central committee received messages through the telegraph and telephone from all parts of the country, demonstrating that the tide of revolution was rising ever higher and that everywhere, the workers were masters of the situation and full of fighting spirit. In Kajaani the strike committee informed that the town administration was under its control and everything was peaceful. The revolutionary committee of Tornion informed that power was in the hands of the workers and steps are being taken to solve the food crisis. In Mikkeli workers occupied the police building as well as telegraph and telephone station and forced the governor to obey the people’s demands. The mood of the workers was fierce. The workers’ revolutionary committee in Vaasa informed that the workers have occupied the regional government, sealed the rooms and posted guards, and that everything was peaceful. The workers’ soviet of Oulu telegraphed that the workers have occupied the police station, railway station, telegraph and telephone stations and regional government. Factories, shops and schools have been closed, without conflicts. Messages came from Heinola informing about the eager fighting will of the workers. Information coming from Joensuu and Jyväskylä stated that power was in the hands of the workers. Telegraphs came from Turku, Pori, Riihimäki and Ruotsinpyhtää stating that worker militias are keeping revolutionary order, confiscating weapons from the bourgeoisie and arresting the most active counter-revolutionaries. Worker organizations of Lappeenranta were carrying out inspections to discover the bourgeoisies’ hidden food stores and had already confiscated 16 tons of grain. The working people of Oulunkylä confiscated food and alcoholic beweriges from the bourgeoisie (under the law, the production and sale of alcohol was prohibited, so the bourgeoisie was breaking the law).

Here and there, worker militias had to face the white guards but gained the upper hand. The white guard of Tammisaari managed to drive the workers away from the telephone station for a while but soon the red guards took it over again. In Jyväskylä, Sortavala and Oitti the bourgeois broke the phone lines but almost everywhere the workers managed to repair them.” (Holodkovski, pp. 64-65)

“The strike spread to encompass the whole country. The industries of every city and every countryside municipality stopped work. A total of 832 enterprises participated in the strike, partial strikes were held in 112 enterprises. 10 enterprises stayed out of the strike. None of the newspapers could appear, except “The information bulletin of the workers’ revolutionary central committee” and local revolutionary committee and strike committee bulletins.

The workers saw the general strike as the beginning of a proletarian revolution and not simply a stoppage of work. All over the country they created red guard chapters. Russian troops partially helped to solve the weapon question of the red guards and worker militias. In Helsinki the workers acquired 3000 rifles from the arsenal of Vyborg shipyard (which were returned after the strike) [source: A. Taimi, Sivuja Eletystä, pp. 228-229, 231]. In Tampere the workers had 300 rifles, in Kotka 600, in Vyborg 300 etc. [source: Lehen, p.86] Workers occupied all the most important locations in the cities, took control of the media and transportation, conducted house searches in the houses of the bourgeoisie, confiscated any weapons they found and arrested the most hated counter-revolutionaries. The white guards did not dare to resist the worker’s highly unified and organized actions, apart from a few exceptions. The bourgeois authority was crippled. The bourgeois police academy… was shut down. From all municipalities, messages came announcing that power was in the hands of the workers. The working class had the opportunity to fully conquer state power, and besides, possibly without any serious resistance or bloodshed, as the events had caught the bourgeoisie off guard and it was unprepared for civil war. A revolutionary situation had arisen in the country.” (Holodkovski, pp.54-55)

The December 1917 general-strike would have been the perfect opportunity for a revolution. The capitalists were caught off-guard, they were not armed or prepared sufficiently to oppose the workers, who easily took control with very little resistance. But a revolution was not what the majority of social-democrat leaders were hoping for. They were frightened by the turn of events. The masses had simply organized without the reformist leaders and taken more bold action then their supposed leaders had wanted. The social-democratic party was now forced to consider whether to support an outright workers’ revolution or to oppose it.

 

FACTIONS INSIDE THE PARTY: Reformists, Centrists, Revolutionaries and Counter-revolutionaries.

White propaganda written in the 30s also admits that instead of advocating for revolution “The social-democrats didn’t have the courage to order a rebellion, but instead warned against individual actions and told the workers to keep united.”
(Erkki Räikkönen, Svinhufvud ja itsenäisyyssenaatti, p. 15)

“At the same time as the working class was ready for revolution and rising for battle, [source: “Финляндия революция”, стр. 26.] the majority in the Revolutionary Central Committee considered revolution to be dangerous in that situation. Why did an attitude of compromise triumph in the working class leaders, while a few months later [in january 1918] a revolutionary attitude gained the upper hand despite the situation no longer being favorable? [source: Lehen, p.107]

In December 1917 the social-democratic party functioned under the prevailing understanding of class struggle. The theoretical level of the party was low, it interpreted principles of revolution and class struggle in a backward way.* According to [revolutionary leader] Yrjö Sirola, a left-wing faction, centrist faction and a right-wing faction all lived harmoniously in the party and the centrists were the leading group, with their left-kautskyite theories.** Sirola considered himself to have belonged to this group…” (Holodkovski, p. 55)

*[source: “40 лет рабочей революции в Финляндии.” “Новая и новейшая история”, 1958, No 2, стр. 125. (“40 years of the workers’ revolution in Finland.” “New and Newest History”, 1958, No 2, p. 125.)]
**[source: Предисловие Ю. Сирола к тезисам ЦК КПФ. “Пролетарская революция”, 1928, No 8 (78), стр. 168. (Y.Sirola’s preface to the theses of the Central Committee of the Finnish Communist Party. “The Proletarian Revolution”, 1928, No 8 (78), p. 168.)]

“Sirola explained that this left-wing consisted of instinctively revolutionary workers without conscious Bolshevik leadership. The left-wing faction became stronger and more active after the October Revolution. [source: “40 лет рабочей революции в Финляндии.” “Новая и новейшая история”, 1958, No 2, стр. 125. (“40 years of the workers’ revolution in Finland.” “New and Newest History”, 1958, No 2, p. 125.)]

The working class leaders of that time had no familiarity with Lenin’s theoretical works, partially due to the fact that they didn’t speak Russian, but more because they were not very interested in the Bolshevik’s struggle against opportunism or issues of the international working class movement. Here is an illustrative example. In June of 1917 at the 9th congress of the Finnish social-democratic party Bolshevik representatives Alexandra Kollontai and Jukka Rahja [a Finnish bolshevik] encouraged Finnish social-democrats to join the Zimmerwald current [which opposed the imperialist world war one]. Valpas replied that the party majority was not on the Zimmerwald side.

“The extreme right-wing of the majority is more right-wing then the famous Branting, it is almost petit-bourgeois and in the party executive committee that has been the leading tendency” and in questions of class struggle it is of the same opinion as Branting and Scheidemann [social-chauvinists and reformists] [source: Soikkanen, I, p. 94].

Kuusinen who spoke later, said: “It is true that Zimmerwalds, Scheidemanns, Thomases etc. are very vague concepts to us. If Rahja is going to question us about international politics, starting with the question of which groups are now Zimmerwaldian, then we are going to make a great many mistakes.” Rahja interjected: “You have been together with the bourgeoisie and for that reason can’t even recognize social-democrats.”

Kuusinen replied: “Yes, it is partially because of that, but also because we are so far away from those international politics… but I think its not so dangerous if we here make a decision somewhat with our ‘eyes closed’ to follow the decision of our Russian comrades and join with the Zimmerwald… We trust you. Valpas says that it would be incorrect since we are more bourgeois then the Zimmerwaldians. That is true. From what I personally know about the Zimmerwaldians I do think that they take a more extreme stance then us here in Finland.”[source: Soikkanen, I, pp. 96-97] (Holodkovski, pp.56-57)
“Before the October revolution in Russia and in the early weeks of the revolution, the stance of Finnish social-democrats was that a socialist revolution could only succeed in large western industrial countries. Three days after the Bolshevik revolution, Kuusinen said in a speech to the parliament that the question of proletarian revolution would not be solved in Finland but

“it would be settled in Europe. It also won’t be settled in Russia but in Russia, Germany, England, all of them together and possibly nearly at the same time. Unless a proletarian revolution comes from there, it won’t happen in Finland either…”
(Minutes of the 2. Finnish diet 1917, I pp.56-57)

From the above statement it follows logically that the Finnish socialists didn’t feel the need to urgently prepare for a socialist revolution, until it happened in the Western countries. Because otherwise the Finnish revolution would suffer defeat, and therefore the working classes had to be prevented from taking this premature and ill-advised step. There was the danger that the revolutionary working class would turn its back on the leaders [as it later did] and would start to follow the firm supporters of revolution without delay. For this reason the more radical of the leaders had to keep up appearances and act thus, to not cause disappointment amont revolutionary workers and to not let them out of their influence, even if they didn’t truly support revolution. They had to pretend to be much more left-wing then they really were, and emphasize that they supported uncompromising class struggle and won’t collaborate with the bourgeosie. That way they kept their authority among the left-wing working class. The siltasaari [center-left] faction founded its policy on this basis. In the party congress in 1917 Kuusinen described the policy of the times in the following way:

“Personally, I would now take quite a revisionist stance. In normal circumstances I would try to support class struggle. But it probably won’t hurt to take a [public] stand that is more radical then the actual practice. That is how this party has always been. We have always given an image of ourselves to the outside, which is slightly more radical then we really are. We have had class struggle as such a dogma right from the beginning, that if someone were to speak against it, they would have been condemned by the party.”
(Minutes of the 9. congress of the Finnish social-democratic party)

To have understood the falsity of the deeply rooted dogmas of Western social-democracy would have required serious reconsideration and becoming accustomed with Lenin’s works. Those who trusted in [German revisionist leader] Kautsky’s authority had only realized the falseness of some of Kautsky’s claims after looking into that theoretical work that some Bolsheviks had given to developing the theory and practice of Marxism. Lenin’s recommendations for Finnish social-democrats to take power, and his short letter of December 11. could not contain full argumentation and therefore didn’t have a significant enough impact on the Finns.” (Holodkovski, p. 57-58)

The factions in the social-democratic party altered over time. Initially there was a struggle between the counter-revolutionary revisionist right-wing faction and the left-wing “siltasaari” faction. However in 1917 a further split emerged:

1) the firm revolutionaries, armed masses, elements of trade-unions etc. formed a revolutionary left-wing tendency but as Sirola said, without Bolshevik leadership.

2) the “siltasaari” group which consisted of many social-democrat party leaders became a center-faction. They represented a left-menshevik, left-kautskyite tendency which supported revolution in theory but not in reality, believed Finland as a small peasant country wasn’t ready for revolution.

3) the counter-revolutionaries, open revisionists and reformists formed the right-wing. The leaders of this group such as Väinö Tanner would consistently oppose working class revolution throughout the civil war, would eventually denounce socialism and form the basis of modern Finnish social-democracy.

The social-democrat leaders saw the december general-strike would lead to a working class revolution which they saw as premature and inadvisable. Therefore they began aiming to end the strike and still wanted pushthe capitalists to grant concessions and appease the workers to prevent a revolution.

“The Revolutionary Central Committee [i.e social-democrat leadership] was being pressured from the right and the left. The majority of the social-democratic parliamentary group was nervous about the revolutionary character of the December general strike, and after receiving information that the strike had in some locations lead to bloodshed, it called its members away from Revolutionary Central Committee leaving only three members who it authorized to act in favor of ending the strike.
[source: “Explanation of the minutes of the 10. (extraordinary) congress of the Finnish social-democratic party held in Helsinki 25-27. December 1917”, by Anton Huotari as secretary, p.10]
The view of the workers’ militias was the opposite. On the evening of 15. December their representatives arrived at the meeting demanding firmer actions: disarming the white guards and taking power. If the meeting refused to do this, the workers would do it themselves. The Revolutionary Central Committee promised to give its answer by 8 o’clock the next morning. The meeting did not have time to discuss the matter because many of its members had to be in session of the parliament.

In the parliament the social-democrats tried for the last time to persuade the bourgeosie to realize that it was essential to grant at least some of the workers’ demands… In his speech to the parliament Kuusinen said:

“I am of the view that there could be unrest tomorrow, unless we who seek to calm down the workers, can finally demonstrate some real results from this parliament… We at least see it as beneficial if we could peacefully get over this critical period.”
(Minutes of the 2. Finnish diet 1917, I pp.56-57)

“Valpas said in his speech that “The revolutionary movement has until now only taken the form of a strike movement” [source: Minutes of the 2. Finnish diet 1917, I pp.56-57] and let it be understood that the situation could change as early as tomorrow, unless the parliament give the workers real results. The leadership of the strike did not consider itself capable of controlling the forces who demanded firm action…

After finally realizing the seriousness of the situation the bourgeosie agreed to some concessions. Alkio [from the petit-bourgeois Agrarian league] made the proposition that

“…the parliament would at least temporarily begin wielding that authority which had previously belonged to the Czar and grand duke.” [i.e. the Power Act would partially be implemented at least temporarily, making Finland a sovereign republic]
(Minutes of the 2. Finnish diet 1917, I p. 220)

The social-democrats proposed that the parliament be made permanently and not temporarily the highest authority. The secretariat of the parliament proposed in the name of the bourgeos parliamentary group that the highest authority be given to the senate. Alkio’s proposal was accepted with 127 votes in favor, 68 against. Afterwards the parliament accepted the 8-hour working day and the municipal election reform.” (Holodkovski, p. 58-59)

The white guard propaganda book Svinhufvud and the independence senate also admits these facts. The author quotes from the same speech by Kuusinen on page 23.
“After the parliament session on night of December 16. the Revolutionary Central Committee continued its meeting, where the proposition of the workers’ militias “to take power” was discussed. The previous night the council of worker organizations had also joined in with this proposition. Finally at 5 o’clock in the morning it was decided with 14 votes against 11 to take power in the hands of the workers… Sirola was tasked with drafting the call to revolution. But soon some who had sided with revolution changed their minds and the whole vote was dropped.” (Holodkovski, p. 60)

White guard propaganda also confirms this saying:

“After a heated discussion the meeting decided with 14 votes against 11 to begin a revolution the next day… The fateful hour for our fatherland had not struck yet however. Before dawn some members of the central committee who had supported revolution changed their mind and the decision was dropped.” (Räikkönen, p. 24)

“On the morning of 16. December there appeared a declaration of the Revolutionary Central Committee which had been written before the call to revolution had been cancelled. It descibed the 8-hour working day and municipal reform by the parliament as entirely insufficient.” (Holodkovski, p. 60)

The declaration read:

“That is all! And even that, after many twists and turns. But it cannot satisfy the workers. It cannot. It will not be allowed. Not even a word has been spoken about solving the food crisis, not to even mention actions being taken. No action has been taken to combat unemployment. The lords of the parliament naturally don’t want to free the tenant-farmers. They oppose democratization of the state machine. They firmly close their pocket books from effective taxation. They do not wish to remove obstacles from voting rights, they abhore calling a constitutional assembly. They don’t plan to give up their butcher [white] guards. But they must be forced. Power has so far been wielded only by the bourgeoisie. It must now be taken into the hands of the workers. The strike must be continued, the bourgeois state machine must be taken under working class supervision, railroads etc. transportation and communication must be taken under the control of the workers, the bourgeoisie must be disarmed, its sabotage activity and armed resistance must be crushed, the worker guards must enforce revolutionary order, in the regions power belongs to local soviets and committees. The highest ruling body is the workers’ Revolutionary Central Committee. May everyone know their task. May everyone fulfill their duty. This way the revolutionary workers fight for their rights, to win bread.” (H. Soikkanen, kansalaissota dokumentteina p. 245)

“The declaration which emphasized that the demands which lead to the general strike were not even close to being satisfied, and therefore it was necessary to take even firmer actions, proved to be in stark contrast with the Revolutionary Central Committee’s actual policy. The majority of the central committee actually took the opinion that it was best to be satisfied with the concessions they had won, and to end the strike…

Later Sirola said about those days that setting up a proletarian dictatorship corresponded to such a degree with the hopes and wishes of the workers that if one of the leaders had had the courage to step up as the head of a workers’ government, the workers would have supported them, followed them and the revolution would have been carried out.” (Holodkovski, p. 61)

 

“RED SENATE”: The Final Reformist Utopia

The social-democrats had been lead to believe that a compromise with the capitalists could be reached. If the general-strike was ended and society returned to normal conditions, the capitalists would allow the social-democrats control of the senate. The social-democrats were not stupid enough to fully trust this proposition but still agreed to go along, as the other alternative would have been revolution.

“The leaders of the strike began negotiations with a few bourgeois representatives of the parliament about the creation of a socialist government “the legal way”, i.e. by a parliamentary decision. The bourgeois representatives implied that such a government could be formed if the strike was ended. The parliament couldn’t be pressured any further because its chairman had dissolved it for the duration of the strike. The social-democrats had opposed dissolving the parliament without success. Therefore, in order to create a social-democratic government through the parliament, the strike had to be ended. But were there any guarantees that the bourgeoisie would not betray its promise? It would have been childish to believe the promises of the bourgeoisie. The leaders of the strike understood this but still supported ending the strike. In their opinion the continuation of the strike and its escalation to a revolution could have disastrous consequences which had to be prevented. The policy of forming a socialist government through a parliamentary road was accepted, and it instantly reduced the revolutionary sentiment. Was there any need to use violence, if a red government could be created with the agreement of parliament? In light of these facts it is easy to understand the actions of the majority of Finnish working class leaders in December 1917.”
(Holodkovski, p.62)

“The Revolutionary Central Committee discussed the question of a red government and the strike on December 17. The minutes of the meeting speak of disunity… votes were divided evenly. Six members… supported social-democrat participation in government (…minutes don’t specify what this meant)… six members supported ending the strike without any further demands. No decision was reached.

A decision was accepted in the next meeting of the Revolutionary Central Committee which began at 2am December 18. and had a crucial significance. The participants of the meeting were told that the council of workers’ organizations of Helsinki unanimously support forming a workers’ government. The railway workers agree. On the other hand the majority of the social-democratic parliamentary group supports forming a red government through legal, i.e. parliamentary means… three proposals were presented: 1. forming a red government through parliamentary means, 2. forming a red government through non-parliamentary means and 3. to end the general strike without any further demands. Forming a red government through parliamentary means received 8 votes in favor… 8 members also opposed it. The vote of the chairman decided the question in favor of accepting the proposal. In the final vote the decision was accepted with 7 votes in favor, 5 against and 2 abstaining that the strike will be ended and the social-democratic parliamentary group is tasked with forming a red government through the parliament…” (Holodkovski, pp.62-63)
White guard propaganda also admits this saying:
“In the final vote it was decided at last with 7 votes in favor and 5 against – with 2 abstaining from voting –, that the strike will be ended and “the parliamentary group will be given the task to form a red government through the parliament”. By promising the frenzied masses a “red senate” it was possible to calm things down.” (Räikkönen, p. 27)

Meanwhile the proletarian and rural masses waited for developments.

“The local committees and soviets awaited at their telephones around the clock for revolutionary orders from the central leadership. They anxiously waited for instructions.

In such a situation, news began to spread that the Revolutionary Central Committee had decided to end the strike. To the workers this seemed at first to be unbelievable and monstrous. They didn’t believe it. In some places the telegraph which called for ending the strike, was seen as a provocation. [source: L. Letonmäki, Den finska socialdemokratin och revolutionen, p.7]

In Tampere the workers thought the members of their committee who announced the ending of the strike, were traitors who had been bribed by the bourgeoisie. When the members of the committee tried to defend themselves in a mass meeting, they were prevented from speaking with shouts of “down!”, “out!”, “traitors!”” (Holodkovski, p.65)

“Even after the news turned out to be true, hundreds of workers refused at first to obey the order to end the strike. From all corners of the country came confused and angry questions about why the strike should end… In Kotka, Lahti and Loviisa the workers rose up almost unanimously to oppose ending the strike. Those supporting the order of the Revolutionary Central Committee were pulled down from podiums. The workers of Kotka and Kymenlaakso voiced the slogan “Power to the workers”, “We must declare a proletarian dictatorship” and promised to mobilize and thousand men.[source: Punakaarti rintamalla. Luokkasodan muistoja, p.106]

The workers of Karjaa declared in their meeting that they don’t accept ending the strike because the results achived are insufficient, and said the measures outlined in the “We demand” proclamation absolutely had to be fulfilled. The workers of Karkkila unanimously accepted the following statement: “We don’t accept the decision of the Revolutionary Central Commitee. We must uncompromisingly hold on to the demands we put forward at the beginning of the strike; for that reason such a government must be created that will implement the Power Act, bring the tenant-farmer question to an acceptable conclusion etc. Also the regional and municipal governments must be taken in the workers’ hands. Forces must remain mobilized until working conditions and the food situation have been organized according to the new regime.”
[source: “Suurlakkotiedonantoja” [“general strike information bulletins”] n:o 1, 19.XI.1917.]

Similar decision was made by the workers of Lohja. News arrived in Helsinki that the decision to end the strike had caused unrest among the workers and meetings were held in several places. Those who supported ending the strike were accused of being traitors.” [source: И. И. Сюкияйнен, p. 129] (Holodkovski, p.66)

The masses had been ready for revolution. All they lacked as Sirola and Kuusinen later said, was Bolshevik leadership, which did not exist in Finland at the time.

The Revolutionary Central Committee published a declaration on 18. December titled “Class struggle without the general strike” which stated that:
“The bourgeosie’s black powergrab [attempt to build military dictatorship] has been defeated… power will be given to the hands of the parliament, and laws about municical democracy and 8-hour working day have been passed… Part of the parliament bourgeoisie have made emergency promises. They’ve promised improvements to the food policy. They have also promised to recognize and implement the ‘power act’ as a basis for democracy… They have also promised their support for freeing the tenant-farmers and other important demands… Their promises are not worth much however, unless the workers standby as a firm observing guardian, ready to attack if betrayal of the promises is discovered…” (H. Soikkanen, pp. 248-250)
The capitalists’ attempt to build a dictatorship will be discussed in a later episode.

“The [social-democrat] declaration [to end the strike] clearly demonstrates that they set as goals of the working class movement only those types of reforms and demands which did not directly attack the foundations of the capitalist system.” (Holodkovski, p. 67)

“The workers’ executive committee of Helsinki declared on 19. of December that: “Because a red senate has been formed and the general organized workers’ meetings… have today decided to end the strike, the workers’ executive committee of Helsinki informs that the strike is considered to be over by 2 p.m.” …words about the formation of a red senate do not reflect any reality: the senate was only being planned. However, for a few days this illusion was seen as a realistic possibility. The newspaper “The Worker” published advice from the workers to the red senate. The planned members of the red senate… held a meeting to plan the government’s program… The senate question ended exactly as Sirola had thought. It was childish to imagine in that situation that the bourgeois majority would have handed over the reigns of power to the social-democrats… the proposal for a red senate received only 80 votes. A 100 votes supported the bourgeois senate, Svinhufvud as its leader.” (Holodkovski, pp. 70-71)
A white guard author writes:
“On December 19. the workers’ executive committee finally declared the strike to be over, because a red senate had been formed. However this did not happen…” (Räikkönen, p. 27)

In this way all the attempts at peaceful reform failed. The capitalists did not grant any meaningful concessions or share power with the workers. The conditions still remained absolutely miserable in the country: long working days despite some industries officially accepting 8-hour working days on paper, and this obviously did not extend to farm workers, rural house servants or tenant-farmers, there was still no land reform, no ruling single chamber parliament, wages were too low to compete with inflation and black market prices of necessities and according to government estimates one quarter of the population was threatened by famine. See episode 2 of this series about the conditions of the people before the revolution.

The absolute failure of reformism to change the miserable conditions kept pushing the masses towards real revolutionary struggle. At the same time, now frightened by the unrest of the december general-strike and the strength of the masses, the capitalists began to rapidly arm themselves, to build a dictatorship and to prepare to crush the workers if they attempted to rise up and improve their lives.

SOURCES:

Holodkovski, Suomen Työväenvallankumous 1918

Suodenjoki & Peltola, Köyhä Suomen kansa katkoo kahleitansa: Luokka, liike ja yhteiskunta 1880-1918 (Vasemmistolainen työväenliike Pirkanmaalla osa 1)

J. Paasivirta, Suomen itsenäisyyskysymys 1917

H. Soikkanen, kansalaissota dokumentteina
И. И. Сюкияйнен Революционные события 1917-1918

Me vaadimme https://mltheory.files.wordpress.com/2019/05/me-vaadimme-julistus.pdf
E. Räikkönen, Svinhufvud ja itsenäisyyssenaatti

Hyvönen, Suurten tapahtumien vuodet 1917-1918

Minutes of the 2. Finnish diet 1917

Sirola, Suomen luokkasota

A. Taimi, Sivuja Eletystä

“Финляндия революция”

Tuure Lehen, Punaisten ja Valkoisten Sota

“40 лет рабочей революции в Финляндии.” “Новая и новейшая история”, 1958, No 2, стр. 125.

Предисловие Ю. Сирола к тезисам ЦК КПФ. “Пролетарская революция”, 1928, No 8 (78), стр. 168.
Minutes of the 9. congress of the Finnish social-democratic party

Explanation of the minutes of the 10. (extraordinary) congress of the Finnish social-democratic party held in Helsinki 25-27. December 1917

L. Letonmäki, Den finska socialdemokratin och revolutionen

“Suurlakkotiedonantoja”

Punakaarti rintamalla: Luokkasodan muistoja, ed. J. Lehtosaari

 

The Khrushchev Coup (Death of Stalin & Khrushchev’s Rise to Power)

nikita-khrushchev-9364384-1-402

After the death of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, Nikita Khrushchev became the new head of the Soviet Union. He embarked on an extensive campaign of lies and attacks against the Stalin government which was immediately cheered by the capitalist world. Many of his lies still persist to this day. Khrushchev’s government launched de-stalinization, a wave of propaganda and censorship against Stalin era policies. In their place the Khrushchevites implemented profit oriented market reforms and other erroneous policies which put Soviet socialism as well as all other countries in the soviet camp on the wrong track.

Why didn’t anybody stop him? How did he manage to avoid being voted out? Khruschchev rose to power via an undemocratic military takeover, a coup de tat, and used the military to kill, imprison, intimidate and marginalize his enemies.

But how did Khrushchev succeed in doing this? And why did he do it? These are some of the questions that will be discussed in this article. Firstly we should talk about Stalin’s death, which in itself happened under very suspicious circumstances and has caused a lot of speculation.


REMOVAL OF STALIN’S BODYGUARDS

Shortly before Stalin’s death, his personal security was drastically reduced. The head of his personal secretariat Poskrebyshev and the head of his personal bodyguard General Vlasik were both removed under accusations of leaking documents and unreliability. This left Stalin vulnerable.

Stalin’s daughter, Svetlana Alliluyeva said:

“Shortly before my father died even some of his intimates were disgraced: the perenniel Vlasik was sent to prison in the winter of 1952 and my father’s personal secretary Poskrebyshev, who had been with him for twenty years, was removed”.
(S. Alliluyeva: ‘Twenty Letters to a Friend’, p. 216).

Peter Deriabin believed this to have been a deliberate conspiracy and states in his book:

“A commission [was set up] to investigate… the entire state security apparatus [which then] proceeded… to cut Stalin’s bodyguards to the bone”
(P. Deriabin: Watchdogs of Terror: Russian Bodyguards from the Tsars to the Commissars, pp. 317-18)

“About seven thousand men were dropped… [Leaving Stalin] guarded by… only a small group of officers… that had little security experience, especially as bodyguards.” (p. 319).

“That completed the process of stripping Stalin of all personal security… This had been a studied and very ably handled business: the framing of Abakumov, the dismissal of Vlasik, the discrediting of Poskrebyshev, the emasculation of the Okhrana and its enforced subservience to the [Khrushchevite-controlled] MGB, Kosynkin’s ‘heart attack’, the replacement of Shtemenko and the removal of the general staff from the last vestiges of Okhrana control. And certainly not to be forgotten at this juncture was the MGB control of the Kremlin medical office. . . With state security and the armed forces under their command, the connivers were finally in the driver’s seat”.
(pp. 325-26).

STALIN DIES

“There are a number of circumstances connected with the death of Stalin which make it, in forensic terms, ‘a suspicious death’:

Firstly, Stalin appeared to be in excellent health immediately prior to the beginning of March as was testified by an American journalist.

“And what of Stalin himself? In the pink of, condition. In the best of spirits. That was the word of three foreigners who saw him in February – Bravo, the Argentine Amassador; Menon, the Indian, and Dr. Kitchlu, an Indian active in the peace movement”.
(H. Salisbury: ‘Stalin’s Russia and After’; London; 1952; p. 157).

Secondly, on the night of 1-2 March there was a long delay in obtaining medical help for Stalin:

“Khrushchev does not mention specific times, but his narrative makes it incredible that the doctors arrived much before 5 a.m. on 2 March. This is many hours, perhaps twelve, after the seizure. . . .
It is not true that he was under medical care soon after the seizure”.
(R. H. McNeal, Stalin: Man and Ruler, p. 304).

“There is a mystery about what had happened to Stalin, His guards had become alarmed when he had not asked for his evening snack at 11 p.m. . . . The security men picked him up and put him on a sofa, but doctors were not summoned until the morning.
Stalin lay helpess and untreated for the better part of a day, making recuperative treatment much harder… 
Why did the Party leaders prolong the delay? Some historians see evidence of premeditated murder.”
(J. Lewis & P. Whitehead: ‘Stalin: A Time for Judgement’; London; 1990; p. 179).

“Only on the next morning . . . did the first physicians arrive”.
(W. Laqueur: ‘Stalin: The Glasnost Revelations, p. 151).

“Physicians were finally brought in to the comatose leader after a twelve- or fourteen hour interval”.
(D. Volkogonov, Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy, p. 513).

Thirdly, there was a deliberate lie in the announcement of his death, which was stated to have taken place ‘in his Moscow apartment’, whereas it actually occurred in his dacha at Kuntsevo. Historian Adam Ulam asserts that a: ” . . . conspiratorial air coloured the circumstances of Stalin’s death. The belated communique announcing his stroke was emphatic that it had occurred in his quarters in the Kremlin. Yet it was to his country villa . . . that his daughter Svetlana was summoned on March 2 to be by his deathbed. . . . He was stricken away from Moscow. . . .
The official communique’ lied about the place where Stalin had suffered the fatal stroke and died. . . .
There was an obvious reason behind the falsehood; his successors feared that a true statement about where he was at the time of the seizure would lead to rumours . . . that the stroke had occurred while he was being kidnapped or incarcerated by the oligarchs. Crowds might surge on the Kremlin, demanding an accounting of what had been done to their father and protector”.
(A. B. Ulam, Stalin: The Man and His Era, p. 4, 700, 739).

Fourthly, the revisionist conspirators had an ample and urgent motive — that of self-preservation — for eliminating Stalin:

“For many leading Soviet statesmen and officials, Stalin’s demise . . . came in the nick of time. Whether or not it was due to natural causes is another matter”
(D. M. Lang, p. 262).

“While murder cannot be proved, there was no question that motive for murder existed. . . . For . . . if Stalin were dying a natural death. it was the luckiest thing that had ever happened to the men who stood closest to him”.
(H. Salisbury, p. 160-61).

(From Bill Bland’s THE ‘DOCTORS’ CASE’, AND, THE DEATH OF STALIN)

What was this motive? We need to take a little detour to explore this question. Older theories have suggested that Stalin was attempting to purge the party and state of careerists and bureaucrats. However, newer research suggests a more systemic change. According to historian Aleksandr Pyzhikov (who is very much an anti-communist and anti-Stalin historian) in 1947 there was a proposition to update the party’s program. This 1947 party program has never been made available.

“According to Pyzhikov this program described “a progressive narrowing of the political functions of the state, and to the conversion of the state into, in the main, an organ of the management of the economic life of society.” [It was clearly a plan for transitioning from Socialism to Communism as described by Marx and Engels.]

Pyzhikov explains that the draft “concerned the development of the democratization of the Soviet order. This plan recognized as essential a universal process of drawing workers into the running of the state, into daily active state and social activity on the basis of a steady development of the cultural level of the masses and a maximal simplification of the functions of state management. It proposed in practice to proceed to the unification of productive work with participation in the management of state affairs, with the transition to the successive carrying out of the functions of management by all working people. It also expatiated upon the idea of the introduction of direct legislative activity by the people, for which the following were considered essential:

a) to implement universal voting and decision-making on the majority of the most important questions of governmental life in both the social and economic spheres, as well as in questions of living conditions and cultural development;

b) to widely develop legislative initiative from below, by means of granting to social organizations the rights to submit to the Supreme Soviet proposals for new legislation;

c) to confirm the right of citizens and social organizations to directly submit proposals to the Supreme Soviet on the most important questions of international and internal policy.””

(Pyzhikov, A. “N.A. Voznesenskii o perspektivakh poselvoennogo obnovleniia obshchestva.” in Furr, Stalin and the Struggle for Democratic Reform)

In short, this would have shifted power away from the mid-level managers and politicians, directly to the workers who were now literate and educated enough to run all of society.

“According to Pyzhikov, [Leningrad party chief] Zhdanov… proposed convening the 19th Party Congress at the end of 1947 or 1948. He also set forth a plan for a simplified order of convocations of party conferences once a year, with “compulsory renewal” of not less than one-sixth of the membership of the Central Committee per year. If put into effect, and if “renewal” actually resulted in more turnover of C.C. members, this would have meant that First Secretaries and other Party leaders in the C.C. would have been less entrenched in their positions, making room for new blood in the Party’s leading body, facilitating rank-and-file criticism of Party leaders (Pyzhikov 96)… with at least the possibility of replacement — of no less than 1/6 of the Central Committee every year through a Party Conference, this Party plan envisaged the development of democracy from below in both the state and in the Party itself.” (Furr, Ibid.)

We do not know how this plan was rejected. Zhdanov, who was a close ally of Stalin’s died seemingly of a heart-attack the same year he made the proposition, which in hindsight is quite a coincidence. Zhdanov’s death would later be used in the so-called “Doctor’s Case” where a number of doctors were accused of trying to murder soviet politicians. There is no clear evidence about the truth regarding the Doctor’s Plot, some of the cases were clearly frauds orchestrated by Khrushchev which he then blamed on his enemies, but its possible some of the cases were genuine. Stalin was personally skeptical about the guilt of the doctors. He himself, would of course die under suspicious circumstances seemingly after being deliberately denied adequate medical care.

The 1947 draft plan was rejected, how – we do not know. Zhdanov had proposed a party congress in 1948 which would have been according to the normal custom, but for unknown reasons the 19th Party Congress was postponed until 1952.

All of this suggests that which the liberal historian Arch Getty had argued, that the true power in the Soviet Union was in many ways not held by the central leadership around Stalin, and especially not by Stalin personally. This was merely a cold-war myth, a caricature partially facilitated by Stalin’s fame and the hero-worship around him. He seemed like a larger then life figure. But in reality, the mid-level management and the first secretaries in the party had substantial power and Stalin was in the minority.

This group, the first secretaries, technocrats etc. were also the most susceptible to corruption and Stalin and Zhdanov’s new program would have attacked precisely this privileged group, removed management of the State offices, ministries, factories etc. from the Party’s hands putting it into the hands of the non-party masses.

From an ideological and practical stand point this seems a necessary course of action. What is the purpose of a vanguard party? To serve as the proletarian ideological guide and leader, a small group of the most class conscious industrial workers, not as a gigantic party of managers.

In 1929, Molotov had outlined the Stalin politburo’s plan to proletarianize the party, so that by 1930 at least 50% of the party were industrial workers. This goal was achieved. In 1930 the party had consisted of 65% manual workers, 20% peasants and only 14% white collar officials. The party was more proletarian in composition in 1930 then in Lenin’s time. However in the Khruschchev period, the number of industrial proletarians in the party had reduced to 30% while HALF of the party consisted of white collar officials.

This makes it clear why it was possible for Khrushchev to rally the bureaucracy around him, and defeat all the egalitarian, democratic and proletarinization efforts. This also makes the Trotskyist accusation that Stalin was the leader of a bureaucratic caste ridiculous, as his efforsts in 1930 created a party even less bureaucratic then Lenin’s. To explore how the bureucratization in the party occurred during the 1940s and early 50s is beyond the scope of this video, but the popular explanations are the material conditions of Russia, where the state was forced to rely on a minority of experts while the masses were largely uneducated, as well as the massive death toll of the best communist cadres and proletarians in the second World War, forcing the party and state to admit vast amounts of less suitable people within its ranks in the late 40s to replace the losses.

 

“Due to the circumstantial evidence of the series of measures undertaken by the conspirators in the months prior to Stalin’s death to remove the securities around him, it is not surprising, that within weeks of Stalin’s death, rumours would begin to circulate that he had been murdered:

“There were rumours, above all in Georgia, that Stalin had been poisoned.”
(W. Laqueur, p, 151).

Stalin’s son Vasily is reported to have cried out:

“‘They are going to kill him! They are going to kill him!'”
(P. Deriabin, p. 321).

“Stalin’s son Vasily kept coming in and shouting ‘They’ve killed my father, the bastards!”‘.
(D. Volkogonov, p. 774).

Vasily was arrested in April 1953 in order, as his sister Svetlana puts it, ‘to isolate him’:

“After my father’s death, [Vasily] . . . was arrested. This happened because he had threatened the government, he talked that ‘my father was killed by his rivals’ and all things like that, and always many people around him — so they decided to isolate him. He stayed in jail till 1961 . . . and soon he died”
(S. Alliluyeva, Only One Year, p. 202).

“[Vasily] was convinced that our father had been ‘poisoned’ or ‘killed’.
Throughout the period before the funeral . . . he accused the government, the doctors and everybody in sight of using the wrong treatment on my father.. . .
He was arrested on April 18th, 1953. . . .
A military collegium sentenced him to eight years in jail.
He died on March 19th, 1962”.
(S. Alliluyeva, p. 222-23, 224, 228).

Georges Bortoli comments:

“Vasily Stalin had said aloud what the others were thinking to themselves. In less than a month, all sorts of rumours would begin to circulate in Moscow, and people would begin speaking of a crime. . . Some people said that several members of Stalin’s entourage were threatened by the coming purge. Had they taken steps to forestall it?”
(G. Bortoli, The Death of Stalin, p. 151)”

(From Bill Bland’s THE ‘DOCTORS’ CASE’, AND, THE DEATH OF STALIN)

Indeed, many other leaders known to have been firm supporters of Stalin also died mysteriously almost immediately after.

“The Czechoslovak Marxist-Leninist leader Klement Gottwald died shortly after visiting Moscow to attend Stalin’s funeral.” (Bland, Ibid)

The Polish Marxist-Leninist leader Boleslaw Beirut died shortly after Khrushchev’s power grab on 12 March 1957

The Albanian leader Enver Hoxha, explicitly accused the Khrushchevites of murdering Stalin claiming that one of them, Anastas Mikoyan outright admitted it to him.

“All this villainy emerged soon after the death, or to be more precise after the murder, of Stalin. I say after the murder of Stalin, because Mikoyan himself told me . . . that they, together with Khrushchev and their associates, had decided . . . to make an attempt on Stalin’s life”.
(E. Hoxha, With Stalin: Memoirs, p. 31).

In his book Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR Stalin argued against the types of market oriented reforms the revisionists would later make. The same Anastas Mikoyan then described Stalin’s views in the book as “an incredibly leftist deviation” (“Neveroiatno levatskii zagib.” Mikoian, Tak Bylo, Ch. 46: “On the Eve of and During the 19th Party Congress: Stalin’s Last Days.”)


Professor Grover Furr concludes:

“[T]here is a long recognized mystery of why medical care was not summoned for the gravely ill Stalin until a day or more after it had been discovered that he had had a stroke. Whatever the details of this affair Khrushchev was involved in it.” (Furr, Khruschchev Lied, p.208)

FIRST ATTEMPT AT A COUP

Stalin died 9. 50 p.m. on 5 March. The revisionists immediately used their control of the security forces to prepare for a coup. The American journalist Harrison Salisbury was an eye-witness of how, shortly before 6 a.m. the next morning:

” . . . smooth and quiet convoys of trucks were slipping into the city. Sitting cross-legged on wooden benches in the green-painted trucks were detachments of blue-and-red-capped MVD troops — twenty-two to a truck — the special troops of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. . . . The fleeting thought entered my mind that, perhaps, a coup d’etat might be in the making.

By nine o’clock… the Internal Affairs troops were everywhere in the centre of the city… In upper Gorky Street columns of tanks made their appearance… All the troops and all the trucks and all the tanks belonged to the special detachments of the MVD. Not a single detachment of regular Army forces was to be seen.
Later I discovered that the MVD had, in fact, isolated almost the whole city of Moscow…
By ten or eleven o’clock of the morning of March 6, 1953 no one could enter or leave the heart of Moscow except by leave of the MVD…
MVD forces had taken over the city…
Could any other troops enter the city? Not unless they had the permission of the MVD or were prepared to fight their way through, street by street, barricade by barricade”
(H. Salisbury, p. 163-64, 166, 171, 173)

“Even before Stalin’s body was cold, . . . MGB troops . . . not only set up controls and halted traffic, including pedestrians, on every principal capital thoroughfare, but had also ringed the Kremlin”.
(Deriabin, p. 328).

The Marxist-Leninists succeeded, for the moment, in foiling the planned coup by mobilising sufficient support to call for the following day, 7 March, a joint emergency meeting of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, the Council of Ministers and the USSR Supreme Soviet. In these circumstances the revisionist conspirators lost their nerve and judged it expedient to postpone their planned coup and refrain from opposing the election of Beria as the Minister in charge of state security, an appointment which obviously had majority support among the leadership:

Khrushchev wrote in his memoirs:

“Beria immediately proposed Malenkov for Chairman of the Council of Ministers [prime minister]. On the spot, Malenkov proposed that Beria be appointed first deputy. He also proposed the merger of the Ministries of State Security and Internal Affairs into a single Ministry of Internal Affairs, with Beria as Minister. . . . I was silent. . . . Bulganin was silent too. I could see what the attitude of the others was. If Bulganin and I objected . . ., we would have been accused of starting a fight in the Party before the corpse was cold”. (p. 324)

(From Bill Bland’s THE ‘DOCTORS’ CASE’, AND, THE DEATH OF STALIN)

THE MILITARY COUP IN MOSCOW (1953)

Khruschchev’s coup went into action when the military arrested Beria, then vice president and minister of interior. In July 1953, Beria was accused of corruption. At the end of June 1953, the revisionist conspirators claimed that Beria was a nationalist agent of foreign imperialist powers and had been plotting against the Party leadership. However, later Khruschev surprisingly admitted they had no evidence of Beria’s supposed nationalism.

“I could easily believe that [Beria] had been an agent of the Mussavatists, as Kaminsky had said, but Kaminsky’s charges had never been verified. . . . We had only our intuition to go on”.
(Khrushchev, p. 333)

To finally carry out his coup, Khruschchev had to gain the support of the military. Khruschchev said: “The Presidium bodyguard was obedient to [Beria]. Therefore we decided to enlist the help of the military” (Khrushchev, pp. 335-36)

“In late June 1953 Beria was repressed, either by arrest and imprisonment or by outright murder.”
(Furr, Khruschchev Lied, p. 194)

According to historian Iuri Zhukov, Khrushchev managed to win some of the party bureaucracy on his side by opposing Stalin’s proposed democratic and egalitarian reforms which were supported by Malenkov and Beria. Malenkov was pushed out, Beria was killed.

Stalin had proposed economic policies which aimed at total abolition of the small commodity production that still existed, abolition of money trade and replacing it with exchange of goods of equal labor value, abolition of differences between mental physical labor and other egalitarian policies and policies which would have meant a radical transition closer to full communism.

According to Zhukov, Stalin also advocated for contested elections and democratic reform. We also know Stalin had proposed removing the party from leadership of managing the state as a necessary transition in the next stage in socialist construction towards communism. It would make sense that some rightist bureaucrats would be very much opposed to this, and consider these methods too radical and too left.

According to Iuri Zhukov, there was a decision to decrease the salaries of politicians which was supported by Malenkov. Khruschchev managed to win some people over by reversing this policy and returning higher salaries to bureaucrats.

“It is my firm conviction that the true meaning of the 20th Congress lies precisely in this return of the Party apparatus to power. It was the necessity to hide this fact . . . that necessitated distracting attention from contemporary events and concentrating them on the past with the aid of the “secret report” [better known as the Secret Speech, where Khrushchev launched an ideological attack against Stalin]”~I. Zhukov, “Krutoi povorot … nazad” (“A sharp turn . . . backwards”) http://www.gorby.ru/activity/conference/show_S53/view_24755/

It was necessary for Khruschchev to attack Beria, who was at the same time head of the security forces and vice president of the USSR. After the death of Stalin he was one of the most powerful men in the country. Malenkov was head of the council of ministers, or prime minister while Molotov perhaps the third most powerful man in the country was Foreign Affairs Minister.


It is unclear how exactly Khruschchev was able to get away with Beria’s murder. Khruschchev himself claims he was able to convince or intimidate Molotov and Malenkov to stand idly as he did it, but this has to be taken with a large grain of salt. Beria’s removal was a conspiracy full of deception, fraud and a palace coup.

“On the night of June 26 1953, Red Army tanks of the Kantemirovskaya Division rolled into Moscow and took up much the same positions as . . . in March. And the tanks were supported by infantry from the Byelorussian military district”
(Deriabin, p. 332)

Beria’s removal was made public the following month. A coup was also carried out within the Georgian party organisation. Opponents of Khruschchev were labeled as Georgian nationalists, removed and largely replaced with Zhukov’s military men.

In 1956 Khruschchev launched his attack on Stalin, the so-called “Secret Speech”. Virtually all the contents of this infamous and extremely significant speech have proven to be falsifications. There is a book length refutation and analysis of the fact claims in Khruschchev’s speech called Khruschchev Lied which I recommend to anyone interested in this topic.

Why did Khruschchev give this speech? As the Chinese communists theorized, Khruschchev wanted to pursue policies drastically different from the Marxist-Leninist line of Stalin and his supporters and therefore it was necessary to attack Stalin’s legitimacy. Historian Iuri Zhukov stressed that it was necessary for Khruschchev to combat Stalin’s democratic reforms and egalitarian programs and restore power into the hands of the party bureaucracy headed by Khruschchev himself. The Chinese said something very similar, saying that the Soviet party had become corrupt and revisionist.

To me it is clear that Khruschchev also had to attack all of his opponents politically. Khruschchev did not only attack Stalin, he also attacked all his other opponents: Molotov, Kaganovich, Malenkov, Beria by labeling them “Stalinists”. The evidence of Malenkov and Beria being loyal to Stalin is up for debate. Khruschchev himself turned out to be an extremely disloyal member of Stalin’s administration. Malenkov only joined the politburo as a candidate in 1941. Therefore we shouldn’t automatically conclude that Malenkov and Beria were not suspicious characters, opportunists or revisionists just because they were rivals of Khruschchev, that is an entirely different question. But it was important for Khruschchev to label them “Stalinists” to marginalize them.

Why did Molotov and Kaganovich once again stand by without adequately defending themselves? Only Khrushchev’s people had access to the archival documents which proved the secret speech to be full of lies. Molotov and Kaganovich must have known to a degree that Khrushchev was lying, but were relatively defenseless against the accusations. For all they knew, they might have been partially true. The same applies to the rest of the communist movement. The movement was shocked, but even Mao Tse-Tung and Enver Hoxha did not publicly oppose the secret speech until 4 years later, when it had become clear to them what had happened and it was far too late.

The next year in June 1957 Malenkov joined by the old Marxist-Leninists Kaganovich and Molotov finally attempted to oust Khruschchev from power. They won the vote in the presidium 7 to 4. However Khrushchev argued that only the plenum of the Central Committee could remove him from office. An extraordinary session of the Central Committee was held where Khrushchev was backed by military leader Georgy Zhukov, who gave a speech in Khruschchev’s favor even threatening to use the military to support him. Thus the military coup continued and party democracy was torpedoed by Khruschchev.

Why did the General support Khruschchev, even though he later admitted that Stalin was a great leader and Khruschchev a dishonest and vain-glorious opportunist? Because Khruschchev had promoted Zhukov to defense minister, while Stalin had demoted him due to corruption charges.

This network of scheming and corruption is what we generally know as the Khruschchev Coup. The murder or possible criminal neglect of the dying Stalin, the assassination many of Khruschchev’s political enemies, the marginalization of countless others, the lies, bribery and outright military take over and total rejection of party democracy. Khruschchev did what he falsely accused Stalin and others of doing.

SOURCES:

Pioneering article by W. B. Bland on Stalin’s death and the Khrushchev Coup. This article is very good, however it is seriously out of date and I only use that evidence which I quoted from the article. It sometimes quotes Robert Conquest, whose work in this case is almost entirely worthless and unreliable. Conquests’ writings cannot be taken as sufficient evidence. The article also quotes Khrushchev’s “Secret Speech” which is much the same way, it can’t be taken as evidence except when analysing it as a piece of propaganda. The article also puts forward the position that the Doctor’s Case was genuine, which in the light of more modern research is debatable. http://ml-review.ca/aml/BLAND/DOCTORS_CASE_FINAL.htm

Alliluyeva, Twenty Letters to a Friend

Alliluyeva, Only One Year

P. Deriabin, Watchdogs of Terror: Russian Bodyguards from the Tsars to the Commissars

H. Salisbury, Stalin’s Russia and After

R. H. McNeal, Stalin: Man and Ruler

J. Lewis & P. Whitehead, Stalin: A Time for Judgement

W. Laqueur, Stalin: The Glasnost Revelations

D. Volkogonov, Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy

A. B. Ulam, Stalin: The Man and His Era

Hoxha, With Stalin: Memoirs

G. Bortoli, The Death of Stalin

Furr, Stalin and the Struggle for Democratic Reform http://marxism.halkcephesi.net/Grover%20Furr/index.htm

Pyzhikov, A. “N.A. Voznesenskii o perspektivakh poselvoennogo obnovleniia obshchestva.”

Mikoyan, And it was (Mikoian, Tak Bylo) Ch. 46: “On the Eve of and During the 19th Party Congress: Stalin’s Last Days.”

Iuri Zhukov, “Krutoi povorot … nazad” (“A sharp turn . . . backwards”) http://www.gorby.ru/activity/conference/show_S53/view_24755/

Refutation of Khruschchev’s “Secret Speech” https://ia802707.us.archive.org/5/items/pdfy-nmIGAXUrq0OJ87zK/Khrushchev%20Lied.pdf

Stalin’s proletarization of the party in Molotov’s Pamphlet https://mltheory.files.wordpress.com/2017/06/molotov_1929_the_communist_party_of_the_soviet_union.pdf

Grover Furr on the “Doctors’ Plot”
https://mltheory.files.wordpress.com/2019/05/the-doctors-plot-furr.pdf

Analysis of Khruschchev era economic policy. I don’t agree with all the conclusions, and sometimes the book emphasises evidence which maybe doesn’t have a crucial importance, but in general the evidence presented is valuable and shows the Kosygin reform’s shift to a profit-oriented model as opposed to the model that Stalin proposed.
http://www.revolutionarydemocracy.org/archive/BlandRestoration.pdf

The Finnish Communist Revolution (1918) PART 1: Finnish Independence

independence

In 1917 Finland was part of the Russian empire. Finland was a protectorate of Russia, meaning it didn’t have a military of its own, had no independent foreign policy or economic policy and was ruled by a Russian governor general.

However in the 1905-06 revolution Finland had gained itself some limited democratic rights and some nominal autonomy, its own parliament and senate although they were still under the power of Russia.

It had been recognized by progressive elements for at least a century that Finland had developed into a nation of its own and deserved independence. The Finnish people had their own language, culture and history. There was also the push for more democratic rights and the struggle against monarchist absolutism. The 1905-06 uprisings and demonstrations were a prime example of this.

Although some Finnish capitalists and especially small owners supported independence, as time went on it was more and more the working class movement that led the independence struggle. The capitalist class and nobility of Finland were happy to work with the Russian Tsar and relied on the Tsarist state to crack down on striking workers and poor peasants wanting better working conditions, higher wages and more democratic rights.

The very early Finnish independence movement had been pioneered by bourgeois and petit-bourgeois intellectuals, but in the early 1900s the Finnish capitalist class became more and more opposed to Finnish independence. Leading the independence struggle fell almost exclusively to the proletarians and semi-proletarians.

The February Revolution

After the Tsar was overthrown in February 1917 the Finnish Capitalists allied themselves closely with the Russian provisional government led by Kerensky.

“None of the ruling bourgeois groupings took a pro-independence stance. The Russian provisional government took upon itself the role of the inheritor and continuer of the Tsar-grand duke’s power. It was able to do this with the favorable help of the finnish bourgeoisie.” (Hyvönen, Suurten tapahtumien vuodet 1917-18, p.14)
“The legal government… the bourgeois considered to mean the Russian Provisional Government whose legitimacy the Socialists did not recognize.” (Hyvönen, p.19)

 

The Bolshevik Attitude Towards Finnish Independence

“The Russian Bolsheviks completely supported Finland’s demands for self-determination.” (Hyvönen, s.22)

“I must declare most categorically that we would not be democrats (I say nothing of socialism!) if we did not recognize the right of the peoples of Russia to free self-determination. I declare that we would be betraying socialism if we did not do everything to restore fraternal confidence between the workers of Finland and Russia. But everyone knows that the restoration of this confidence is inconceivable unless the right of the Finnish people to free self-determination is firmly recognized. And it is not merely the verbal, even if official, recognition of this right that is important here. What is important is that this verbal recognition will be confirmed by the act of the Council of People’s Commissars, that it will be put into effect without hesitation. For the time for words has passed. The time has come when the old slogan “Workers of all countries, unite!” must be put into effect.

Complete freedom for the Finnish people, and for the other peoples of Russia, to arrange their own life! A voluntary and honest alliance of the Finnish people with the Russian people! No tutelage, no supervision from above, over the Finnish people! These are the guiding principles of the policy of the Council of People’s Commissars.”
~STALIN (Speech delivered at the Congress of the Finnish Social-Democratic Labour Party, Helsingfors Nov. 14, 1917)

 

The Power Act

“In the elections of 1916 socialists gained a majority in the parliament, 103 seats”(Koskinen, Veljiksi kaikki ihmiset tulkaa: Lohja 1917-18 pp. 14-15)

After the socialists achieved an electoral victory and a majority in the parliament in the 1916 elections they managed to pass the so-called “Power Act” (Valtalaki). This was a bill that declared the finnish parliament independent and sovereign from Russian involvement. That the finnish parliament was the highest authority of Finland. Effectively, this was a declaration of Finnish independence. Before, Finland had been a protectorate of Russia meaning that it had its own parliament and government but these were totally subservient to Russia and all their decisions would have to be approved by Russia. The Power Act declared that Russia no longer had power over Finland and therefore would have made Finland independent.

The capitalist class of Finland instantly opposed this bill. The bill was passed because the socialists had a majority in the parliament but it was never implemented because of’obstructionism by the right-wing bourgeoisie.

“Bourgeois parties refused all struggles in favor of implementing the Power Act – and therefore also any struggles in favor of Finnish self-determination. Afraid of being left alone, without outside help to face the Finnish working class and rural poor the Finnish bourgeoisie threw themselves into the arms of the Russian Provisional Government and abandoned the Power Act, which represented the wishes of the Finnish people for independence and democracy, and which the parliament had accepted.”
(Hyvönen, pp.32-33)


The congress of the social-democratic party stated:
“Finnish social-democracy therefore demands… the independence of the Finnish people and state. The Finnish working class can only pursue unhindered class struggle inside a sovereign country.” (Hyvönen, p.33)

“Bolshevik representative Aleksandra Kollontai who was present at the congress stated:
“And we support the granting of independence to Finland, all the way to the right of secession from Russia.”

At that time the bolsheviks were not among the ruling parties in Russia. The bolsheviks could put forward their demands only in their own press and the congress of the soviets.” (Hyvönen, p.33)

“In Russia the bolshevik party was the only political grouping that supported the self-determination of Finland as well as other nationalities. Starting from the marxist principle of national self-determination and developing it to the policy of recognizing the independence of national states and applying it to practice Lenin and Stalin made it clear they defended Finland’s right to independence and opposed the imperialist policy of the Provisional Government as it opposed Finnish independence. The April conference of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party (Bolsheviks) accepted Lenin’s proposal regarding the National Question which states:

“The right of all the nations forming part of Russia freely to secede and form independent states must be recognised. To deny them this right, or to fail to take measures guaranteeing its practical realisation, is equivalent to supporting a policy of seizure or annexation. Only the recognition by the proletariat of the right of nations to secede can ensure complete solidarity among the workers of the various nations and help to bring the nations closer together on truly democratic lines.”” (Hyvönen, s.20) (7th bolshevik conference, Resolution on the National Question)

“The declaration also concretely put emphasis on the Finnish question in the following way:

“The conflict which has arisen at the present time between Finland and the Russian Provisional Government strikingly demonstrates that denial of the right to free secession leads to a direct continuation of the policy of tsarism.”” (Hyvönen, s.21) (Ibid.)


The Finnish Parliament Elections of 1917

The Russian Provisional government was not happy with the Socialists having a majority in the Finnish parliament and pushing for independence and therefore ordered new elections in October 1. 1917.

The Finnish capitalist class supported the Russian Provisional Government and opposed independence. Bolsheviks and Finnish Socialists supported independence

The Russian provisional government took upon itself the role of the inheritor and continuer of the Tsar-grand duke’s power. It was able to do this with the favorable help of the finnish bourgeoisie.” (Hyvönen, s.14)

The Finnish capitalists were not opposed to independence in principle but they still saw the Russian capitalist government as an ally just as they had seen the Tsarist government as an ally. They needed the oppressive state apparatus of Russia in order to keep the Finnish workers under control. The Finnish capitalists wanted to insure that none of the demands of the workers would be accepted. Demands like work safety regulations, the 8 hour work day, better pay, equal municipal elections, land reform and better rights for agricultural workers who were at the mercy of the aristocracy and lived in practical feudalism. For this reason the Finnish capitalists were willing to ally with Kerensky and the Russian government instead of supporting Finnish independence.

The Capitalists still wanted to increase their own power compared to Russia. They wanted Finland to keep its nominal autonomy and perhaps expand it. Finland as a Russian protectorate could decide some local questions via its own parliament and senate while Russia still controlled foreign policy, the military, economic policy, trade etc.

If Finland became truly independent the capitalists would have to face the Finnish workers and poor peasants on their own. This is something that they definitely did not want to happen.

One of the Finnish socialist leaders, Otto Wille Kuusinen elaborated the Finnish working class movement’s stance on independence in the following way:
“We cannot grant the Russian government the right to verify Finnish laws, because that way even the most vital reforms that have been decided by our parliament could simply be rejected in Petrograd, to the help and satisfaction of the reactionary bourgeoisie of Finland, as has happened many times before.
We cannot grant the Russian government the right to dissolve the Finnish parliament or decide the duration of the Diet. And it is not right that the Russian government could prevent the expansion of the rights of the Finnish parliament or the further democratization of our state which the interests of the working class demand.
The Russian Government does not have the right in any way to be considered the highest state authority of Finland, instead Finland has its own parliament, its own government, responsible to its parliament and people.
Therefore opposed to the demand of national subjugation put forth by the Russian bourgeosie, Finnish social-democracy puts forth the demand of the independence of the Finnish people. For only in a sovereign land can the Finnish working class without hindrance pursue its class struggle, protect its gains and successfully do its part in the movement for international emancipation of labor.

We want freedom, so that a road would be opened for the people to choose their own destiny and a freedom for the working class to engage in class struggle with a chance to achieve victories without interference from a foreign power.”” (Hyvönen, s.24)
“Kuusinen continued:

“The Finnish poor do not hate our brother nation Russia, it hates the agitators of national hatred. Finland’s rightful role is to be an independent republic, free next to a free Russia. In economic relations the Finnish people would not attempt to isolate themselves from Russia or to disrupt the interests of Russia. The economic relations of Finland with Russia as with all other countries should be organized based on voluntary agreement, no longer only based on the wishes of the Russian bourgeoisie with the force of subjugation. Otherwise the conflict between Finland and Russia will not end. And Finnish social-democracy wishes this conflict to end, and the formation of mutually beneficial relations for our peoples.” (Minutes of the 9. Congress of the Finnish Social-Democratic Party p.101)” (Hyvönen, s.25)

“The view advocated by Kuusinen represented that proletarian view which had matured during the fight for suffrage according to which the proletariat had to fight against the oppressors both at home and abroad and that those struggles supported one another, and that all questions including the status of the Finnish nation could only be solved through the demands necessitated by class struggle. Kuusinen’s proposal got the absolute majority in the party Congress. While the Congresses of the bourgeois parties refused to accept the demand for independence the Finnish working class made it their concrete goal. While the bourgeois parties strived for collaboration with the Russian Provisional Government and the capitalists in it, the independence struggle of the Finnish working class ended up being pushed closer to the Bolsheviks who advocated National Self-Determination.” (Hyvönen, s.25)

“Apart from the social-democrats few representatives of the Young Finnish Party and the Agrarian League also voted in favor of the Power Act. Therefore the passing of the Power Act meant that the most principled supporters of independence were brought closer together. However on the 31. of July the Provisional Government dissolved the Finnish Parliament and called for new elections as punishment for the passing of the Power Act, which would have meant complete independence for Finland in internal affairs. The dissolving of the parliament served to further alienate the social-democrats and bourgeois from each other in parliamentary politics.”
(Holodkovski s.35)
“After the Finnish Parliament was dissolved by the Provisional Government with the help of the bourgeois senators new elections were arranged for October 1. and 2. The bourgeois parties absolutely refused to join with the socialists in their attempt to defend Finnish sovereignty, to continue the work of the parliament that had illegally been dissolved and instead declared that this attempt [to protect the parliament] was illegal. The bourgeois instead put all their forces into the new elections. The social-democratic party decided to participate in the elections but at the same time explained that the new elections were illegitimate and defended the legitimacy of the dissolved parliament. The election struggle became fierce. Bourgeois parties allied with each other in a coalition “against the red danger”. The bourgeois coalition achieved 108 seats against the 92 working class representatives. This was despite the fact that the amount of votes for the social-democrats increased from 370,000 to 450,000. The votes for the bourgeois also increased and since they were now all in one coalition none of their votes were wasted as had happened previously.” (Hyvönen, s.49)
The last bourgeois plot against independence

“After the elections, before the meeting of the new government, the bourgeoisie still continued to negotiate with the Russian governor general who represented the already almost dead Provisional Government. As a result of these negotiations the governor general left for Petrograd to deliver a joint manifesto of the Finnish bourgeois parties that they wanted the Provisional Government to present at the meeting of the new Finnish government. In the manifesto the Provisional Government was supposed to “give up its power over the Finnish state with the exception that foreign affairs would still be handled through Russia like they have been up to now and that Finland will not make any changes to its military policy or laws relating to the Russian state or Russian citizens inside Finland without the consent of the Russian government” . . .
This example of bourgeois politics ended up not being implemented because the life of the Russian Provisional Government came to an end before the emissary of the Finnish bourgeosie arrived in Petrograd. A Soviet Government had emerged in Russia as a result of a working class revolution. This maneuver of the Finnish bourgeoisie meant denying that basic principle of the Power Act which had declared the Finnish parliament to be the highest legal authority in Finland. The bourgeosie wanted to create an executive power outside the authority of the parliament elected by the people. At the same time, with its own manifesto, it wanted to nullify the Power Act despite the fact that when passing the Power Act the Finnish parliament had precisely decided to refuse the Russian Government any right to verify or block Finnish laws. This was a matter concerning the highest legal authority of the country. The Finnish bourgeoisie wanted to change the form of government of Finland. From a legal standpoint this maneuver was a coup. The kind of change in form of government that was described in the bourgeos manifesto could of course only have been carried out by changing the constitution through a decision of the parliament. However in its current composition the parliament would never have accepted such a decision, afterall half of the seats belonged to the socialists.” (Hyvönen, s.52-53)

The bourgeoisie could not have achieved this plan legally or democratically. Hence they attempted to scheme together with the Russian Provisional Government. To insure that Finland does not become independent but retains its status as a protectorate of capitalist Russia and that the Russian capitalist state insures the rule of the Finnish capitalists over the Finnish workers.

“The Great October Revolution in Russia ruined the plans of the bourgeoisie. The attempt to create an executive power entirely separate from the parliement failed. A soviet government had been formed in Russia whose representatives would never have supported the Finnish bourgeoisie’s dictatorship.” (Hyvönen, s.56)

 

Why did the Finnish capitalists finally accept independence?


So why did the Finnish capitalists accept independence after resisting it for so long? They did so because after the October Revolution Russia was no longer their ally. Instead Russia was now the ally of the Finnish working class. And therefore the Finnish capitalists requested independence from Russia which the Bolsheviks granted. The Socialists who had always advocated independence also supported Finland’s secession from Russia. The only difference being that the Socialists still wanted to maintain friendly relations to Russia while the capitalists tightened their collaboration with Russia’s enemy, Germany.

 

Finland is granted independence by the Bolsheviks

“The other day representatives of Finland applied to us with a demand for immediate recognition of Finland’s complete independence and endorsement of its secession from Russia. The Council of People’s Commissars resolved to give its consent and to issue a decree, which has already been published in the newspapers, proclaiming Finland’s complete independence.

Here is the text of the decision of the Council of People’s Commissars:

“In response to the application of the Finnish Government for recognition of the independence of the Finnish Republic, the Council of People’s Commissars, in full conformity with the principle of the right of nations to self-determination, resolves to recommend to the Central Executive Committee: a) to recognize the state independence of the Finnish Republic, and b) to set up, in agreement with the Finnish Government, a special commission (composed of representatives of both sides) to elaborate the practical measures necessitated by the secession of Finland from Russia.”
Naturally, the Council of People’s Commissars could not act otherwise, for if a nation, through its representatives, demands recognition of its independence, a proletarian government, acting on the principle of granting the peoples the right to self-determination, must give its consent…

The Council of People’s Commissars may be abused, may be criticized, but no one can assert that it does not carry out its promises; for there is no force on earth that can compel the Council of People’s Commissars to break its promises. This we have demonstrated by the absolute impartiality with which we accepted the demand of the Finnish bourgeoisie that Finland be granted independence, and by proceeding at once to issue a decree proclaiming the independence of Finland.

May the independence of Finland help the emancipation of the Finnish workers and peasants and create a firm basis for friendship between our peoples.”

~STALIN (The Independence of Finland: Speech to the Russian Central Executive Committee Dec. 22, 1917)
SOURCES:

Tuure Lehen, Punaisten ja Valkoisten Sota

Esa Koskinen, Veljiksi kaikki ihmiset tulkaa: Lohja 1917-18

Antti Hyvönen, Suurten tapahtumien vuodet 1917-18

Viktor Holodkovski, Suomen työväen vallankumous 1918

Antti Hyvönen, Suomen Kommunistinen Puolue 1918-24

Antti Hyvönen, Suomen vanhan työväenpuolueen historia

Otto Kuusinen, “The Finnish Revolution: A Self-Criticism”

Otto Kuusinen, Suomen Työväenliikkeen Opetuksia

How Does Socialism Solve Racism, Sexism & Other Oppression?

(or, How to better understand the Relation between Base & Superstructure)

INTRODUCTION

Unfortunately it is assumed by some Marxists that Socialism, almost automatically solves issues like sexism, racism, transphobia & homophobia. People who hold this mistaken view argue: “These issues cannot be solved in capitalism, so let’s not focus on them now, it will all be solved in Socialism.”

There is a tactical component to this question which I will discuss at the end. First I want to cover the assumption that Socialism solves these, inequalities, oppressions, ills of capitalism automatically, or almost automatically. This mistaken view derives from an incorrect understanding of the Base and the Superstructure & their relation.
Base-superstructure_Dialectic

WHAT ARE THE BASE AND THE SUPERSTRUCTURE?

What Marxists often call simply the “Base” means the underlying economic system of the society, the economic mode of production. In our current society this mode of production is imperialist capitalism.

In A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy Marx describes this economic underlying ‘base’ as follows:

“In the social production of their existence, men inevitably enter into definite relations, which are independent of their will, namely relations of production appropriate to a given stage in the development of their material forces of production. The totality of these relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society, the real foundation…”

and adds:

“…on which arises a legal and political superstructure and to which correspond definite forms of social consciousness.”

So what is this superstructure? The superstructure consists of things like culture, religion,  form of government such as parliamentarism, military dictatorship or monarchism.

Later on Marx describes the basic relation between the base & superstructure:

“The changes in the economic foundation lead sooner or later to the transformation of the whole immense superstructure.”

That is, each economic mode of production (e.g. capitalism) creates its own superstructure which necessarily results from the social relations arising from the economic mode of production. Changing this superstructure is only possible, even necessary after changing the economic base.

This has led some to hold the incorrect view, that replacing a capitalist economic system with a socialist one, will automatically or practically automatically or very easily, get rid of all the oppressive and reactionary elements arising from the old capitalist society.

HISTORICAL PRACTICE

1. What was achieved?

Let us now examine the notion that the destruction of the capitalist economic base will by itself alone quickly & easily get rid of the reactionary culture fostered by capitalism. When Marxist-Leninist states were in existence, did they cure all these ills? We know the answer. Racism and sexism still remained though in a more limited form.

Trans issues were not yet recognized by anyone at the time, except the trans people themselves. This applies not only the capitalist countries but also socialist ones. LGBT issues were advanced by communist groups like the Black Panthers and recognized by socialist countries like the German Democratic Republic but there was a lot to be desired.

What Marxist-Leninist countries did do was implement policies such as granting equal legal & democratic rights to women as well as ethnic and religious minorities. They provided equal opportunities to study and work for all people regardless of sex or race. The socialist media portrayed minorities as equally capable members of society,  the education system tried to combat sexist, racist and other bourgeois-conservative views.

2. Objective vs. Subjective Factors

These advances were a necessary outcome of the new society that was being built. Socialism couldn’t have been built without at the same time combating the most glaring and most vicious examples of bourgeois-conservative ideology and culture. They were in one sense a result of the objective factors.

However there was nothing “automatic” or “easy” in this process, as would be implied by the “don’t worry, it will all be taken care of in socialism” type of attitude. These achievements were necessitated by the new economic system, but they were implemented by conscious policies by people. In this sense, they were also a result of the subjective factors, the people, the activists, members of the oppressed groups etc.

redguardscloseup2000x817

THE ROOT OF THE PROBLEM

The mistake of the “automatic” or “we will take care of it in socialism” theory is the following:

Although the capitalist base is what created and maintained the reactionary superstructure of sexism, racism, transphobia etc. the remnants of the old superstructure can still survive in a limited form for quite some time even in a new base. Especially as this base is constantly itself changing and transitioning away from the old towards something new. To think that these issues will be solved quickly and easily is naive hubris.

It took capitalism an extraordinarily long time to wipe out most remnants of feudal culture. There are still many constitutional monarchies in the world, where the economy is entirely capitalist and the crown has been stripped of power, yet the ridiculous cultural remnant of monarchist absolutism is still there.

Those aspects of feudalism which most strikingly hindered the growing bourgeoisie came into such violent conflict with the new capitalist system that they were eliminated much faster. Aspects like aristocratic privileges, Monarchist absolutism, absolute rule of the clergy, various feudal restrictions of banking, trade and other capitalistic activities. As a result the corresponding ideological-cultural superstructure, began to die out.

With the changes in the economic base the ruling feudal ideology began to be replaced by capitalist ideology. Feudalism was no longer seen as man’s natural state, instead man’s nature was proclaimed to be capitalistic. Religion lost much of its influence, the Divine right of the king crumbled into dust, replaced by the wealthy bourgeois politician.

This didn’t always happen in a simply linear fashion at all. The French Revolution overthrew feudal absolutism but the Napoleonic reaction managed to restore it, however while still releasing the economy from feudal shackles for capitalism to develop more freely.

In many capitalist countries up until a 100 years ago Monarchism & many feudal aspects still held influence. Finland still had clerical & aristocrat privileges and the church acted like a giant feudal landlord. The Russian Empire was another good example where capitalism was evidently there existing side by side with blatant feudalism. This is what Marxists later termed “semi-feudalism”.

Those aspects of the old feudal order which were less restricting for capitalism remained for a long time and died out only slowly, adapting themselves or even being co-opted by specific subjective forces in the capitalist order e.g. religious or conservative anti-communist propaganda. Similarly, while the Socialist States quickly stamped out the most egregious ills of capitalism, remnants still managed to survive and sometimes the people of those states were even unaware of this. It takes both the necessary objective conditions of the new society as well as conscious work by the subjective forces: the people, to achieve liberation and rid ourselves of sexism, racism, transphobia, homophobia and other ills of capitalism.

THE TACTICAL QUESTION

The tactical question of the matter essentially boils down to the question: “Revolution or Reform?”

The advocates of the theory of “we will fix it later in socialism” hold their view because they have a mistaken understanding of Marxist-Leninist theory. They have a one-sided view that exaggerates the danger of reformism. They want working class revolution, and see all other struggles as secondary and fundamentally reformist. This is a dangerous error. Such thinking isolates the Communists from the masses. The struggles of oppressed people are not secondary but deeply intertwined with the working class struggle.

1. Are questions of race, sex, etc. secondary to class?

Lenin could have been a dogmatist and said that the Peasant Question, Women’s Question or National Question are secondary and unimportant. But why didn’t he?

Because women are approximately half the population, our work depends on women. Because the vast majority of the Russian population were poor toiling peasants, it would have been inconceivable to succeed without them. Because the Russian Empire was a prison house of nations, it was inconceivable to build a socialist society based on trust, equality and co-operation without granting full rights to national minorities. Without such a policy, this wouldn’t have been a project of fraternity but of subjugation.

The working class is the most revolutionary class and class is the significant factor. In this sense the working class question is “primary”, but its only so in terms of the end goal, a classless communist society without oppression. In real praxis these other questions were never secondary, they were beneficial or necessary for the victory of the working class revolution.

2. The question of our alliance with oppressed minorities

The relatively small number of LGBT & trans people has made their struggle far more difficult and probably has contributed to it only being recognize so late. That said, isolating ourselves from LGBT & trans organizations because of their alleged “reformism” only hinders our movement and reduces its allies & forces. By the fact that they are oppressed, they belong to our movement. By the simple fact that we want true equality for all, their goal is the same as ours.

Some might argue, that because the number of LGBT & trans people is so small their chances of playing the crucial role is smaller. A popular movement without women is doomed to fail, but a movement that is missing a small minority, can still succeed. For the sake of argument let us assume this is correct: why should we deny ourselves this beneficial alliance even if it were possible to win without it? There is no good reason for it.

The same question applies to some very small national groups. Someone might argue that they are so few, that in the nationwide scheme they are not the deciding factor, but why deny ourselves this ally? All oppressed people are our allies.

Their number may be small but this probably doesn’t give a fair representation of their influence. There is reason to believe that oppressed people are more prone to Revolution & political activism, and this should be worthy of consideration for us.

3. Reform or Revolution?

Some people will to a varying degree argue explicitly (or more often implicitly) that the women’s movement, anti-racist movements, trans or LGBT movements are at the end of the day reformist in character and therefore not of any use for us, or worthy of our support.

Certainly there are reformist tendencies, in fact most non-communists are reformists. Liberals, social-democrats and all those who think that sexism, transphobia, homophobia and racism can be solved in the context of capitalism are by definition reformists. But what kind of a “mass movement” can we hope to become if we isolate ourselves from the masses because they are not communists?

These “reformist” movements should more accurately be termed “spontaneous” movements. Their problem is not principled dedication to reformist tactics, but a lack of class and political consciousness. They lack an understanding of the underlying causes of their oppression and act unconsciously, which results typically in reformist actions. The cure for unconscious action is political education. We should be eager to hear the complaints and grievances of the masses, and the experience to be learned from them. Likewise the masses are eager for political knowledge and better organizational forms – the fact that they are organizing themselves is proof of that.

The real reformist danger lies elsewhere. The real danger lies in semi-conscious political groups, even communist groups which take the opposite kind of one-sided approach. Groups that spend all their time focusing on issues which only impact a tiny minority. They neglect work towards working class revolution in favor of reformist actions, to fix capitalism for the oppressed groups. This task is doomed to fail as capitalism cannot be made something that it is not. Capitalism cannot be made into a fair & equal system.

Such movements are either outright liberal or simply have accepted liberal idealist political theory to such a degree that they look more like a liberal then a genuinely leftist organization. They serve neither the working class or other oppressed groups. Their work only serves capitalism as it hinders any real change. They should be exposed and criticized but the existence of such groups should not lead us to the wrong and one-sided view that rejects our work with oppressed groups, our alliance with them, us recruiting them into our ranks.

77f26e24f8f5bb1d724d77c5e16ab8f9.png

The Moscow Trials (Part 2: COURT PROCEEDINGS)

The Trials (1936-1938)

The Moscow Trials were a series of separate though connected trials. They were the following:

August 19-24, 1936 “The Case of the Trotskyite Zinovievite Terrorist Centre” known widely as the “Zinoviev-Kamenev Trial”. This trial mainly concerned the Trotskyist-Zinovievite underground and their connection with the Murder of Sergei Kirov.

January 23-30, 1937 “The Case of the Anti-Soviet Trotskyite Centre” or “The Piatakov-Radek Trial” which continued the NKVD investigation of the Trotskyite conspiratorial bloc.

May-June 1937 “Tukhachevsky Affair” concerning the military conspiracy and collaboration with foreign powers & fascists.

And finally, March 2-13, 1938 “The Case of the Anti-Soviet ‘Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites.’” or “the Bukharin Rykov Trial” which convicted the last major members of the conspiracy. At this point it had become clear that the main conspiracies were actually all connected. The military conspiracy, the underground political opposition bloc and the wrecking in industry, espionage for foreign powers etc.

The parties involved in each were not in agreement but they worked together towards the common enemy. Some members were Trotskyists who agreed to help Germany for their own reasons, others were bourgeois elements hostile to the USSR or Bukharinites. Many were ex-members of the Left Opposition, United Opposition or the Right-Opposition, but not all. Some were recruited by Trotskyists, some by Zinovievites or Bukharinites. Some were in contact with Sedov or even Trotsky but most were not. Others were recruited by German intelligence and had no direct connection to Trotskyism at all.

But how believable were the accusations? How fair were the Trials in reality?


Main counter arguments:

1) Allegation that the accusations were incredible.

These days one often hears the claim that such a conspiracy was incredible, unbelievable, couldn’t have happened or something else to that effect. Really the findings of the Moscow Trials were widely accepted in mainstream discussion until Khruschevs’ Secret Speech of 1956. We will return to this detail later. The evidence the Soviets had was strong and credible, in the end only few groupings chose to disbelieve it due to political convictions. These groups were hardcore anti-communists & Trotskyists.

Of course Trotsky would have known the Trial findings were accurate. Similarly the Anti-Communists might have believed them also. Still both parties accused the Soviets of wrongdoing or frame ups in their own propaganda for obvious propaganda reasons.

U.S. Embassador to the USSR Joseph E. Davies was present at the Moscow Trials and said he felt the trial was fair and not staged:

“With an interpreter at my side, I followed the testimony carefully. Naturally I must confess that I was predisposed against the credibility of the testimony of these defendants… Viewed objectively, however, and based upon my experience in the trial of cases and the application of the tests of credibility which past experience had afforded me, I arrived at the reluctant conclusion that the state had established its case, at least to the extent of proving the existence of a widespread

conspiracy and plot among the political leaders against the Soviet government, and which under their statutes established the crimes set forth in the indictment… I am still impressed with the many indications of credibility which obtained in the course of the testimony. To have assumed that this proceeding was invented and staged as a project of dramatic political fiction would be to presuppose the creative genius of a Shakespeare and the genius of a Belasco in stage production. The historical background and surrounding circumstances also lend credibility to the testimony. The reasoning which Sokolnikov and Radek applied in justification of their various activities and their hoped-for results were consistent with probability and entirely plausible. The circumstantial detail… brought out by the various accused, gave unintended corroboration to the gist of the charges.”
(Davies, Mission to Moscow)

Davies was not alone in his views. He wrote in his diary:

“DIARY Moscow February 11, 37

The Belgian Minister, De Tellier, has been here a long time. I had a most interesting discussion with him to-day. He is experienced, able, shrewd, and wise; and knows his Europe well. The defendants in the trial were guilty, in his opinion.

DIARY Moscow February 18, 1937

The Minister called. Re trial: There was no doubt but that a widespread conspiracy existed and that the defendants were guilty.

DIARY Moscow March 11, 1937

Another diplomat, Minister – , made a most illuminating statement to me yesterday. In discussing the trial he said that the defendants were undoubtedly guilty; that all of us who attended the trial had practically agreed on that; that the outside world, from the press reports, however, seemed to think that the trial was a put-up job (facade, as he called it); that while we knew it was not, it was probably just as well that the outside world should think so.” (ibid.)

Despite the fact that some bourgeois outlets wanted to portray the Trials as a hoax, many mainstream media outlets were eventually forced to admit the Trials were fair:

The defendants admitted frankly that they resorted to individual terror as a last resort, fully knowing that disaffection in the country now is not sufficiently strong to bring them into power in any other way… It is futile to think the trial was staged and the charges trumped up. The Government’s case against the defendants is genuine.”
The Observer, August 23

Other foreign visitors to the USSR voiced similar opinions:

“I studied the legal procedure in criminal cases in Soviet Russia somewhat carefully in 1932, and concluded … that the procedure gave the ordinal accused a very fair trial… The charge was a serious one. A group of men… under some measure of suspicion for counter-revolutionary or deviationist activities, and most of them having had such activities condoned in the past on assurances of the loyalty in the future, were now charged with long, cold-blooded, deliberate conspiracy to bring about the assassination of Kirov (who was actually murdered in December, 1934), of Stalin, of Voroshilov and other prominent leaders.

Their purpose, it seemed, was merely to seize power for themselves, without any pretence that they had any substantial following in the country… And at no stage was any suggestion made by any of them that any sort of improper treatment had been used to persuade them to confess. The first thing that struck me, as an English lawyer, was the almost free-and-easy dameanour of the prisoners. They all looked well…”
D.N. Pritt (quoted in The Moscow Trial Was Fair)

“Why did sixteen accused men all confess guilty… if they had been maltreated in prison, surely some signs of this would have been visible to the public, or at least one of them would have made some sort of a statement on the matter… To plead innocent was impossible because the proofs were overwhelming, and all these people knew this.”
Pat Sloan, ibid.

Even many members of the “American Committee for the Defense of Leon Trotsky” ended up changing their minds and being convinced of Trotsky’s guilt. Among these people were journalists Carleton Beals and Lewis Gannett, Nation magazine editor Freda Kirchwey and Nation contributor Mauritz A. Hallgren who wrote:

“…Since joining your committee I have given deep and earnest thought to the whole problem here involved. I have examined, so far as they have been made available in this country, all of the documents bearing upon the case. I have followed closely all of the news reports. I have consulted some of the reports made by non-Communists who attended the first trial. I have carefully studied the published arguments of the partisans on both sides. And I have just as carefully restudied the writings of Trotsky concerning his case against Stalinism…

It is said by some that they have been hypnotized into confessing… For example, the unamity with which the men have been confessing is taken as proof that the confessions are false and have been obtained by some mysterious means. Yet these assertions rest upon no tangible or logical proof whatever… The very unamity of the defendants, far from proving that this trial is also a “frame-up”, appears to me to prove directly the contrary. For if these men are innocent, then certainly at least one of the three dozen, knowing that he faced death in any case, would have blurted out the truth. It is inconceivable that out of this great number of defendants, all should lie when lies would not do one of them any good. But why look beyond the obvious for the truth, why seek in mysticism or in dark magic for facts that are before one’s very nose? Why not accept the plain fact that the men are guilty?”
Mauritz A. Hallgren (Why I Resigned From the Trotsky Defense Committee)

 

2) The claim that the accused were Tortured or threatened.

While the USSR had a law which allowed the use of physical pressure by the NKVD there is no evidence the defendents in question were tortured.

The novelist and playwright Lion Feuchtwanger was visiting the Soviet Union at the time of the Pyatakov-Radek Trial. He wrote:

The first and most reasonable supposition is, of course, that the confessions were extracted from the prisoners by torture and by the threat of still worse tortures. Yet this first conjecture was refuted by the obvious freshness and vitality of the prisoners, by their whole physical and mental aspect… There was no justification of any sort for imagining that there was anything manufactured, artificial, or even awe-inspiring or emotional about these proceedings.”
(Feuchtwanger, Lion. Moscow, 1937, p. 121-122)

Journalist John Gunther also wrote about the trial:

“It was said that the prisoners were tortured, hypnotized, drugged (in order to make them give false confessions) and–a choice detail– impersonated by actors of the Moscow Art theater! But the trials occurred soon after the preliminary investigations were concluded, and they took place before hundreds of witnesses, many of them experienced correspondents, in open court… Pressure there certainly was, in the manner of police investigation all over the world, but no evidence of torture.”
(John Gunther, Inside Europe)

The most common allegation is that Bukharin was tortured, however according to Bukharin biographer Steven Cohen claims he couldn’t have been:

“It seems that no physical tortures were used against him [Bukharin] in prison.”
(Cohen, Bukharin na Lubianke, Svobodnaia Mysl’ 21, No. 3 (2003), pp. 60-1.)

Historian Asen Ignatov agrees: “We may be confident that Bukharin did not undergo torture.”
(Asen Ignatov,
Revoliutsiia pozhiraet svoikh vunderkindov. Sluchai Bukharina s psikhologicheski tochki zreniia. Forum 1 (2005))

Historian Edvard Radzinsky:

“There are many legends about the tortures which induced him to take part in this ignominious farce. It is a pity to debunk a good legend… No, there was no torture. And it seems unlikely that the delicate and hysterical Bukharin would have written so many literary works in the intervals of torture.” 
(Edvard Radzinsky, Stalin)

Some have opted to say that instead Bukharin confessed falsely in order to help the party but this seems unlikely too. There is no evidence for his innocence but there is for his guilt. According to Bukharin’s testimony he chose to confess after learning the evidence the NKVD had against him, how many others had been caught, and who had implicated him. This seems logical. We will return to Bukharin’s statements a bit later.

The claims of torture are extremely common but baseless. If there was solid evidence, we would have seen it by now. Further more the fact someone was tortured doesn’t imply innocence or that their testimony is inaccurate. It casts doubt on the accuracy of their statements for sure, so that the testimony has to be re-evaluated in the light of other evidence. On top of that, it seems unlikely that when cross examined witnesses could give mutually corrobarative, detailed statements about facts they allegedly knew nothing about or didn’t participate in. It is far more likely they were able to give these statements because they were truthful.

In the two following sections we will deal with the Dewey Commission & the political “Rehabilitations” of Khruschev and Gorbachev and the arguments they made against the Moscow Trials.

 

Political “Rehabilitations” by Khruschev & Gorbachev

Aleksandr Shelepin gave a speech in favor of Khruschev. He quoted from Iakir’s letter to Stalin of June 9, 1937.

“A series of cynical resolutions by Stalin, Kaganovich, Molotov, Malenkov and Voroshilov on the letters and declarations made by those imprisoned testifies to the cruel treatment of people, of leading comrades, who found themselves under investigation. For example when it was his turn Iakir – the former commander of a military region – appealed to Stalin in a letter in which he swore his own complete innocence. Here is what he wrote:

I am a noble warrior, devoted to the Party, the state and the people, as I was for many years. My whole conscious life has been passed in selfless, honest work in the sight of the Party and of its leaders… Now I am honest in my every word…
–Speech to the 22nd Party Congress of the CPSU, Pravda, October 27, 1961

The problem here is that Shelepin has taken this letter entirely out of context and lied about it’s contents. He claims Iakir was innocent and always proclaimed his innocence. In reality in this letter he actually admits guilt, but Shelepin has chosen to omit this part. The full text of the letter first came out in 1994. Here are some of parts left out by Shelepin:

Dear, close comrade Stalin. I dare address you in this manner because I have said everything, given everything up, and it seems to me that I am a noble warrior, devoted to the Party… Then the fall into the nightmare, into the irreparable horror of betrayal. . . . The investigation is completed. I have been formally accused of treason to the state, I have admitted my guilt, I have fully repented. I have unlimited faith in the justice and propriety of the decision of the court and the state. . . . Now I am honest in my every word…”
Iakir’s letter reprinted in [“Rehabilitation. How It Happened”] volume 2 (2003)

So Shelepin has taken a letter where a man admits his guilt and turned it into a claim of innocence! If Iakir was truly innocent would this kind of dishonestly really be needed?

We have already been over the Shvernik Reports attempt to blaim Stalin on the Kirov Murder & for framing Tukchavesky. No evidence was found and this time instead of trying to fabricate it the Khruschevites gave up and focused on other things.

The statement of the rehabilitation commission of the Politburo published in August 1989 reads:

“It has been established therefore that after 1927 the former Trotskyists and Zinovievists did not carry out any organized struggle against the party, did not unite with each other either on a terrorist or any other basis, and that the case of the “United Trotskyite-Zinovievite Terrorist Center” was fabricated by the organs of the NKVD upon the direct order and with the direct participation of J. V. Stalin.”

It is quite a strange situation when Gorbachevites, supposed Communists are more anti-communist in their statements then Western historians.

“Although Trotsky later denied that he had any communications with former followers in the USSR since his exile in 1929, it is clear that he did. In the first three months of 1932 he sent secret letters to former oppositionists Radek, Sokolnikov, Preobrazhenskii, and others. Although the contents of these letters are unknown, it seems reasonable to believe that they involved an attempt to persuade the addresees to return to opposition. Sometime in October of 1932, E.S. Gol’tsman (a Soviet official and former Trotskyist) met Sedov in Berlin and gave him an internal memorandum on Soviet economic output. This memorandum was published in the Bulletin’ the following month under the title “The Economic Situation of the Soviet Union.” It seems, though, that Gol’tsman brought Sedov something else: a proposal from Left Oppositionists in the USSR for the formation of a united opposition bloc. The proposed bloc was to include Trotskyists, Zinovievists, members of the Lominadze group, and others. The proposal came from “Kolokolnikov” – the code name of Ivan Smirnov.” (Getty, Origins)

Western historians admit this, while the Gorbachevite government denies it? Of course we know Gorbachev was in reality an anti-communist himself:

“My ambition was to liquidate communism… My ideal is the path of social democracy.”
–Gorbachev

The Gorbachevite “rehabilitation” committee also denied the Terrorist character of this Bloc which they claimed didn’t even exist, despite the fact that even non-Soviet sources testified to it.

Molotov also spoke about these phony “rehabilitations” in his interview with Feliks I. Chuev published in 1993:

MOLOTOV: Take Tukhachevsky, for example. On what grounds was he rehabilitated? Did you read the records of the trial of the right-wing and Trotskyist bloc in 1938? Bukharin, Krestinsky, Rosengoltz, and others were on trial then. They stated flat out that in June 1937 Tukhachevsky pressed for a coup. People who have not read the record go on to say that the testimony was given under duress from the Chekists. But I say, had we not made those sweeping arrests in the 1930s, we would have suffered even greater losses in the war.” (Molotov Remembers p. 285)

It was not politically advantageous for Molotov to say these things. He supported Stalin and continued to defend his legacy against lies and slander even though the Khruschevite and Gorbachevite governments didn’t look kindly on it. He had nothing to gain for these statements except the knowledge he was speaking the truth.

 

The Dewey Commission

In 1937 the American Committee for the Defense of Leon Trotsky organized the so-called Dewey Comission, the goal of which was to prove the innocence of Leon Trotsky. The comission carried out interviews of Trotsky and sure enough stated that it had managed to prove his innocence.

In reality the Dewey Comission failed to provide any strong evidence of Trotsky’s innocence. Most of its conclusions are purely speculative but especially the important findings are all provably false and have been debunked. The comission voiced support to Trotsky’s baseless accusation that Stalin was behind the murder of Kirov, that Stalin unjustly framed all of his political opponents, glorifies Trotsky’s role in the world communist movement and in general acted as a popularizer of Trotskyist propaganda.

As the Dewey Commission failed to provide any meaningful evidence of its own they claimed to have found holes in the charges made at the Moscow Trial. Their case heavily rested on the so-called Hotel Bristol argument which also has since then been debunked. The argument goes as follows: one accused, Holtzman testified to having met Leon Sedov in Copenhagen in a hotel named Bristol. The Dewey Comission claimed that the hotel Bristol had burnt down, therefore this was an impossibility and a lie invented by the Stalinists.

Its since been proven that actually Holtzman met Sedov in the Grand hotel, the cafe-bakery adjatent to which was called Bristol. Holtzman mistakenly thought Bristol was the name of the hotel as the hotel had no other sign, other then the cafe sign that said “BRISTOL”. One wonders, does this sound like something the Soviet police would fabricate? No it doesn’t, its overly convoluted for no apparent reason. What it sounds like, is that Holtzman made an honest mistake and that his statement at least in that regard is accurate.

The Dewey comission presented as true Trotsky’s claims of innocence, even though we now know Trotsky was lying:

“GOLDMAN: Did you ever discuss with anyone the possibility of organizing a united center between your political followers and the followers of Zinoviev and Kamenev in the Soviet Union, after the break-up of your bloc with Zinoviev and Kamenev?

TROTSKY: Never. My articles show that it is absolutely impossible. My appreciation of them, my total contempt after the capitulation, my hostility to them and their hostility to me, excluded that absolutely.

GOLDMAN: Have you read the testimony of Zinoviev and Kamenev and the other defendants in the first Moscow trial?

TROTSKY: Yes.

GOLDMAN: Wherein these defendants claimed that you instructed several of them to establish a united center between your political followers and their political followers? Have you read such testimonies?

TROTSKY: Yes.

GOLDMAN: What have you to say about that?

TROTSKY: It is a falsehood organized by the GPU and supported by Stalin.”
(Dewey Comission proceedings, third session)


Despite the Dewey Comission’s best efforts even various members of the Trotsky defence committee (and the Dewey Comission itself) came to the conclusion that Trotsky was guilty and were compelled to leave it as a result.

On April 17 Carleton Beals, a member of the Dewey comission resigned from it. He described the work of the Dewey Commission in a public statement:

“… The hushed adoration of the other members of the committee for Mr. Trotsky throughout the hearings has defeated all spirit of honest investigation. . . . The very first day I was told my questions were improper. The final cross-examination was put in a mold that prevented any search for the truth…. The cross-examination consisted of allowing Trotsky to spout propaganda charges with eloquence and wild denunciations, with only rare efforts to make him prove his assertions. . . . The commission may pass its bad check on the public if it desires, but I will not lend my name to the possibility of further childishness similar to that already committed.” (New York Times, April 19, 1937 )

SOURCES & BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Joseph E. Davies, Mission To Moscow
https://archive.org/details/missiontomoscow035156mbp

Statements of D.N. Pritt & Pat Sloan in The Moscow Trial Was Fair
https://www.marxists.org/history/international/comintern/sections/britain/pamphlets/1936/moscow-trial-fair.htm

Mauritz A. Hallgren, Why I Resigned From the Trotsky Defense Committee

Available at https://espressostalinist.com/2011/05/31/why-i-resigned-from-the-trotsky-defense-committee-by-mauritz-a-hallgren/

Feuchtwanger, Lion. Moscow, 1937, p. 121-122
http://www.revolutionarydemocracy.org/archive/feucht.htm#7


Bukharin was not tortured:
Cohen,
Bukharin na Lubianke, Svobodnaia Mysl’ 21, No. 3 (2003), pp. 60-1.)
Asen Ignatov,
Revoliutsiia pozhiraet svoikh vunderkindov. Sluchai Bukharina s psikhologicheski tochki zreniia. Forum 1 (2005))

available at http://www1.ku-eichstaett.de/ZIMOS/forum/docs/02Ignatow.pdf

Reabilitatsia. Kak Eto Bylo [“Rehabilitation. How It Happened”] vol. 2 (2003)

Dewey comission proceedings:

The case of Leon Trotsky Report of Hearings on the Charges Made Against Him in the Moscow Trials, third session
https://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1937/dewey/session03.htm


New Evidence Concerning the “Hotel Bristol” Question in the First Moscow Trial of 1936
http://clogic.eserver.org/2008/holmstrom.pdf

Gorbachev 1989 Rehabiliation document:
“O Tak Nazyvaemom ‘Antisovetskom Ob” edinennom Trotskistsko-Zinov’evskom Tsentre.”
quoted in
http://clogic.eserver.org/2009/furr.pdf

Gorbachev about his anti-communism:
http://www.revolutionarydemocracy.org/rdv6n1/gorbach.htm

Edvard Radzinsky, Stalin


Carleton Beals’s statement available here:
http://www.shunpiking.org/books/GC/GC-AK-MS-chapter21.htm

TROTSKY’S LIES (Part 2: United Fronts)

(Part 2 in a series about Trotsky’s lies, falsehoods & flip-flops.)

TROTSKY & THE THEORY OF SOCIAL-FASCISM

Trotsky attacked the Communist International for supposedly helping Hitler, while also blaming Social-Democracy:

“(T)he Cominterm bureaucracy, together with social-democracy, is doing everything it possibly can to transform Europe, in fact the entire world, into a fascist concentration camp.”
–Trotsky, (Que signifie la capitulation de Rakovsky? 31 March 1934. La lutte, pp. 59—60)

However, Trotsky also went on to blame the Comintern for “not creating a united front” with Social-Democracy. The Communist International maintained that Social-Democrats in power made concessions to fascism while crushing the workers and were therefore unreliable allies. Trotsky attacked this theory, while only a little time ago he had accused Social-Democracy of the same exact thing:

“The policy of a united front of the workers against fascism flows from this situation. It opens up tremendous possibilities to the Communist Party. A condition for success, however, is the rejection of the theory and practice of “social fascism”, the harm of which becomes a positive measure under the present circumstances.”
–Trotsky, Fascism: What it is and how to fight it

trotsky pic

TROTSKY’S FIGHT AGAINST THE POPULAR FRONT IN SPAIN

“Two irreconcilable programs thus confronted each other on the territory of republican Spain. On the one hand, the program of saving at any cost private property from the proletariat, and saving as far as possible democracy from Franco; on the other hand, the program of abolishing private property through the conquest of power by the proletariat. The first program expressed the interest of capitalism through the medium of the labor aristocracy, the top petty-bourgeois circles, and especially the Soviet bureaucracy… between the handful of Bolsheviks and the revolutionary proletariat stood counter-revolutionary wall of the Popular Front.”
–Trotsky, The Lessons of Spain: The Last Warning

While demanding unity with the Social-Fascist Trotsky at the same time attacked genuine anti-fascist unity in Spain. Trotsky ridiculed the notion of an anti-fascist alliance, saying it was philistinism. He attacked those Communists & Anarchists who united together:

“But “democratic” philistines – including Stalinists, Socialists, and Anarchists – regard the civil war of the bourgeoisie against the proletariat, even in areas most closely adjoining the front, as a natural and inescapable war, having as its tasks the safeguarding of the “unity of the Popular Front.” On the other hand, the civil war of the proletariat against the “republican” counterrevolution is, in the eyes of the same philistines, a criminal, “fascists,” Trotskyist war, disrupting … “the unity of the anti-fascist forces.””
–Trotsky, Ibid.

Trotsky in fact defended the actions of the POUM which together with a small fraction of the Anarchist forces began an insurrection against the Republican government & the United Front thus causing great harm to the war effort against fascist Franco. Trotsky’s complaint of the POUM was that it was too soft on the United Front. Similarly he attacked most of the Anarchists for collaborating with the United Front instead of attacking it.

trotfash.jpg

TROTSKY’S STRUGGLE AGAINST THE UNITED FRONT IN CHINA

“The official leadership of the Chinese revolution has been oriented all this time on a “general national united front” or on the “bloc of four classes”… the big bourgeoisie leads the petty-bourgeois democrats, the phrase-mongers of the national united front, behind it, and the latter, in turn, confuse the workers and drag them along behind the bourgeoisie…”
–Trotsky, The Chinese Revolution and the Theses of Comrade Stalin

Trotsky accused the Communists of lagging behind the bourgeois when the Communist Party united together with the petit-bourgeois KMT against feudalism. The KMT led by Sun Yat Sen was in fact a progressive petit-bourgeois nationalist party. During the time of this collaboration the Communists emerged as a strong independent force.

“The Bolshevik way, however, consists of an unconditional political and organizational demarcation from the bourgeoisie, of a relentless exposure of the bourgeoisie from the very first steps of the revolution, of a destruction of all petty-bourgeois illusions about the united front with the bourgeoisie”
–Trotsky, Ibid.

First United Front

Trotsky like the typical ultra-leftist condemned the united front of anti-feudal elements. The KMT however changed in its character after Sun Yat Sen’s death. Being originally a petit-bourgeois party of the peasants it now became a party of landlords & compradors. The KMT betrayed the communists and attacked them. Trotsky jumped with joy as this could be used as a political weapon against united fronts.

Of course, the real mistake of the Chinese & Soviet Communists was not seeing the change in the KMT, not the fact they had collaborated in the past. Trotsky however ignores this in his propaganda.

Second United Front

After the joint campaign against feudalism & the warlords, the KMT & the Communists now fought for power in the Chinese civil war. The story of the United Front in China becomes more complicated still. After the invasion of Japan into China the Communists demanded a halt in the civil-war and the creation of an anti-Japanese United Front of all patriotic elements. Trotsky had previously ridiculed Stalin’s thesis of isolating the right-wing of the KMT and working with the followers of Sun Yat Sen’s program. This is exactly what Mao Tse-Tung proposed.

Mao demanded an Anti-Japanese United Front but the right-wing faction of the KMT was opposed to this view. They in fact rather supported Japanese imperialism then the independence of their own country. This isolated them from the Chinese masses and caused a rift inside their own party. The KMT eventually agreed to a half-hearted collaboration against Japan but in the eyes of the masses they were traitors. The KMT became the party of compradors, imperialist puppets and the richest most corrupt bourgeois and landlords. The Communists gained the status of the party of the masses, of the peasantry and patriotic forces. This United Front was not lagging behind the bourgeois like Trotsky asserted, it was led by the Proletariat, by the Communists.

Uniting maximum force against the main target proved successful as did the thesis of isolating the right-wing.

trotsky_poster_destroy_verm

CONCLUSION:

Trotsky’s theory & praxis is utterly inconsistent on the issue of the United Front. One day he condemns the Leninists for building one, while the next he condemns them for not building one! He accused social-democracy of helping fascism while he also called for unity with social-fascism. Trotsky attacked the Chinese for “lagging behind the bourgeois” when they in reality overthrew the bourgeois. In Spain Trotsky demanded a militant struggle against the anti-fascist United Front.

Trotsky’s actions are not merely ultra-left. They are more then that. They are opportunism pure and simple. Opportunism to the right & to the “left”, which ever suited his purpose.

Socialism in One Country: What it really means


Socialism in One Country is a theory mostly associated with the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin whose government adopted it as official policy. However the theory was heavily based on the writings of Soviet revolutionary leader V.I. Lenin.

Lenin’s Theory Against dogmatism

Socialism in One Country proposes that it is possible to build Socialism (”complete socialist society”) even in a single country, and even a poor less-developed one or a third world country. This went against the view held by dogmatists, trotskyists and other opportunists that socialism was possible only in wealthy industrial countries and only if established simultaneously in several of them. The dogmatist view was a vulgarization of Marxism & didn’t correspond to the material realities of the world in the epoch of global imperialism.

Trotskyists and many other opportunist groupings vehemently deny that Lenin supported the theory of Socialism in One Country. Examining this issue is the main focus of the latter portion of this article.

Lenin_postercrop.jpg

Lenin’s theory went boldly against opportunism & dogmatism

Internationalism

Often times opportunists make the claim that Socialism in One Country goes against Proletarian internationalism or abandons the aim of World Revolution.

Trotsky claimed in his book The Permanent Revolution that Socialism in One Country:

”…
makes a breach between the national revolution and the international revolution.”

This couldn’t be further from the truth. Socialism in One Country is a tactic to achieve those internationalist ends and history has proven it to be successful in it, since the Soviet Union actually managed to help many other revolutionary governments take power and spread Socialism to many other countries in all parts of the world.

”…the victory of socialism is possible in separate countries, thus envisaging the prospect of the formation of two parallel centres of attraction; the centre of world capitalism and the centre of world socialism.”
~Stalin, Results of the July Plenum of the C.C., C.P.S.U.(B.) (1928)

The theory of Socialism in One Country doesn’t contradict world revolution, in fact it does the opposite. It argues that any country can build socialism, if it lacks the basic requirements of Socialism, it can at least work to fulfill those requirements and then build socialism:

”You say that civilization is necessary for the building of socialism. Very good. But why could we not first create such prerequisites of civilization in our country by the expulsion of the landowners and the Russian capitalists, and then start moving toward socialism? Where, in what books, have you read that such… sequence of events are impermissible or impossible?
~Lenin, “Our Revolution” (1923)

Coat_of_arms_of_the_Soviet_Union.png

Stalin-era Soviet coat of arms. Advocating world-communism.


The ”Alternative” of the Opportunists

To oppose Socialism in One Country would mean denying the third world poor the possibility of building socialism since according to the opportunists their countries ”lack the requirements” for it. They would have to wait for the white Europeans to first establish socialism and finally spread it elsewhere.

In his book Trotsky criticized Socialism in One Country in the following way:

”This theory imposes upon revolutions in backward countries the task of establishing an unrealizable regime of democratic dictatorship, which it counterposes to the dictatorship of the proletariat. Thereby this theory introduces illusions and fictions into politics, paralyses the struggle for power of the proletariat in the East, and hampers the victory of the colonial revolution.”

This is a somewhat fancy way of saying that the third world people of Asia were in Trotsky’s mind not ready for Socialism due to their economic and cultural state. To build socialism in Asia was impossible according to Trotsky, to even try would mean to”impose… the task of establishing an unrealizable regime of democratic dictatorship.”

What this convoluted jumble means is that Trotsky accuses third world people of class-collaboration as opposed to of class struggle. Trotsky subscribes to the dogmatic theory that third world semi-feudal & semi-colonial countries could only at best achieve modern capitalism and to attempt anything further would be an ”illusion” and a ”fiction.”

 

Earlier in his text ”1905” Trotsky had argued against building Socialism in a poor peasant country in the following manner:

”…the proletarian vanguard in the very earliest stages of its rule would have to make extremely deep inroads not only into feudal but also into bourgeois property relations. While doing so it would enter into hostile conflict, not only with all those bourgeois groups which had supported it during the first stages of its revolutionary struggle, but also with the broad masses of the peasantry… The contradictions between a workers’ government and an overwhelming majority of peasants in a backward country could be resolved only on an international scale, in the arena of a world proletarian revolution.”

In response to this anti-peasant theory Lenin said:

“From the Bolsheviks Trotsky’s original theory has borrowed their call for a decisive proletarian revolutionary struggle and for the conquest of political power by the proletariat, while from the Mensheviks it has borrowed “repudiation” of the peasantry’s role… Trotsky is in fact helping the liberal-labour politicians in Russia, who by “repudiation” of the role of the peasantry understand a refusal to raise up the peasants for the revolution!”
~Lenin, On the Two Lines in the Revolution

Not only is this idea that third world people are not ready for socialism quasi-racist, it is also strategically unsound. Firstly, the vast majority of the world’s workers are from third world countries. Second, experience has shown us, in the epoch of modern imperialism the poor of the developing world have demonstrated great revolutionary potential. In fact in our current stage they demonstrate greater revolutionary energy then Westerners. The opportunists are out of touch with these basic realities, their theory is useless and their movement irrelevant as an alternative for the workers of the world.

Utopian defeatism

But why do the opportunists so vehemently oppose Socialism in One Country? One reason maybe that they oppose anything associated with the Soviet Union or Stalin. However more often then not from trotskyists one hears them express one of the following three reasons

1) that they oppose Socialism in One Country on ”internationalist” grounds
2) view that a single socialist country can never survive
3) they think socialism can’t be built in a poor country

The first claim I already dealt with. They either don’t understand what they’re talking about or are dishonest. I already explained why the third argument is troubling, together with argument number two it falls under the category of defeatism, that unless the revolution happens in many countries at the same time, and in the West it’s pointless to even try. Or that if the revolution happens in only one country then it must somehow aggressively try to spread the revolution elsewhere. Since the USSR actually did spread it to other countries it seems the opportunists think it should have simply been more aggresive. This seems tactically and ideologically questionable.

Basically the opportunists have no good alternative to propose and this has been proved by history. Trotskyists or any other opponents of Socialism in One Country have never been able to carry out a revolution, let alone a world-wide revolution. The only theory that has been able carry out victorious socialist revolutions not in one, but in multiple countries is the theory of Socialism in One Country.

 


The alleged ”counter-argument” by Engels

Opponents of Socialism in One Country will point to a passage of Engels from the Principles of Communism, a pre-cursor to the Manifesto of the Communist League. First Engels states:

“Will it be possible for this revolution to take place in one country alone?

No. By creating the world market, big industry has already brought all the peoples of the Earth, and especially the civilized peoples, into such close relation with one another that none is independent of what happens to the others…”* (see end notes)

This is actually not what the opponents of Socialism in One Country would want. The argument Engels makes is that a Communist Revolution would spread almost by necessity. In fact this did happen in Europe in the aftermath of WWI, though all those revolutions were defeated with the sole exception of the October Revolution. Engels continues:

”Further, it has co-ordinated the social development of the civilized countries to such an extent that, in all of them, bourgeoisie and proletariat have become the decisive classes, and the struggle between them the great struggle of the day. It follows that the communist revolution will not merely be a national phenomenon…”

This is also in perfect accordance with Lenin and even with Stalin’s conception. In ”Results of the July Plenum of the C.C., C.P.S.U.(B.)” Stalin states that revolutions happen in individual countries, but because of the global nature of capitalism this turns into a world-wide struggle of two great camps or centres; ”the centre of world capitalism and the centre of world socialism.” as he called them. This is exactly what the Cold War was. Engels continues:

”…but must take place simultaneously in all civilized countries―that is to say, at least in England, America, France, and Germany. It will develop in each of these countries more or less rapidly, according as one country or the other has a more developed industry, greater wealth, a more significant mass of productive forces…”

This is perhaps the most interesting part for us. The immediate question is how rapid this ”simultaneous” event is? Engels calls it ”more or less rapid” so we don’t really know. His argument about the different conditions of each country is sound but it implies that this process is not really all that rapid at all. By ”simultaneous” he seems to only mean the process happens in all capitalist countries due to the global nature of the system. This is not really in any great contradiction with Stalin’s view at all. He continues:

…Hence, it will go slowest and will meet most obstacles in Germany, most rapidly and with the fewest difficulties in England. It will have a powerful impact on the other countries of the world, and will radically alter the course of development which they have followed up to now, while greatly stepping up its pace…”

This further implies that the process is actually very much gradual. One should also point out that he talks about a Communist Revolution, not the building of a Socialist Society. We know that Communist Revolutions can succeed in individual countries as was proven by October, but Engels is perfectly correct in pointing that these Revolutions by their very nature will spread to other countries and exist in a context of global class-struggle. I’ll deal with this topic in further detail when talking about the ”Final Victory of Socialism.”

Lastly Engels states about the Communist Revolution:

”…It is a universal revolution and will, accordingly, have a universal range.”

This re-iterates what we said previously. Obviously Communism will have to be a global system, although this has somewhat different implications in our context as opposed to when Engels wrote his text. Now let us briefly return to one earlier point and also look at Stalin’s comments on this passage by Engels. This is what Stalin says about it:

”That was written in the forties of the last century, when monopoly capitalism did not yet exist. It is characteristic that there is not even a mention here of Russia; Russia is left out altogether. And that is quite understandable, since at that time Russia with its revolutionary proletariat, Russia as a revolutionary force, did not yet exist and could not have existed. Was what is said here, in this quotation, correct in the conditions of pre-monopoly capitalism, in the period when Engels wrote it? Yes, it was correct. Is this opinion correct now, in the new conditions, the conditions of monopoly capitalism and proletarian revolution? No, it is no longer correct.”
~Stalin, The Social-Democratic Deviation in our Party

Stalin points out the different stage of history Engels wrote his text in, the age before modern imperialism. Engels proposes the classic orthodox Marxist prediction that revolution will happen in developed European states. This did occur post-wwi but the revolutions failed everywhere except Russia. On top of that in the epoch of modern imperialism it has become clear that the frontline of revolution was shifted towards the developing world, not first world imperialist countries. Engels was correct in his own context, but its safe to say things have taken an unforeseen turn. To claim nothing has change since Engels would be nothing but opportunism.

Opponents of Socialism in One Country should keep in mind that Engels says nothing about Socialism being impossible in Russia, what he does is propose that Revolution would begin in the West. Granted he bases his prediction on the idea that capitalism is more developed in the West, but he wrote before the birth of imperialism.

Let’s refer to Lenin on this issue:

“Uneven economic and political development is an absolute law of capitalism. Hence, the victory of socialism is possible first in several or even in one capitalist country alone…”
~Lenin, “On the Slogan for a United States of Europe”

Is Lenin contradicting Engels? Not exactly, he is merely pointing out the new historical situation, the epoch of modern imperialism. As Stalin said: ”[I]n the period when Engels wrote… Yes, it was correct.”

Furthermore one should keep in mind that when Engels wrote the West itself was less developed then in the early 1900s. Urban Russia in 1917 was in many ways comparable to urban Germany in 1847. The Opportunists who claimed dogmatically that Socialism was utterly impossible in Russia were already destroyed by Lenin:

”Infinitely stereotyped, for instance, is the argument they learned by rote during the development of West-European Social-Democracy, namely, that we are not yet ripe for socialism, but as certain “learned” gentleman among them put it, the objective economic premises for socialism do not exist in our country… “The development of the productive forces of Russia has not yet attained the level that makes socialism possible.” All the heroes of the Second International, including, of course, Sukhanov, beat the drums about this proposition. They keep harping on this incontrovertible proposition in a thousand different keys, and think that it is decisive criterion of our revolution… You say that civilization is necessary for the building of socialism. Very good. But why could we not first create such prerequisites of civilization in our country by the expulsion of the landowners and the Russian capitalists, and then start moving toward socialism? Where, in what books, have you read that such variations of the customary historical sequence of events are impermissible or impossible?”
~Lenin, “Our Revolution” (1923)

Lenin’s statement is in perfect accordance with the mindset of what Engels said earlier, though Engels speaks of revolution and not socialist construction:

”…the communist revolution … will develop in each of these countries … according as one country or the other has a more developed industry, greater wealth, a more significant mass of productive forces. Hence, it will go slowest and will meet most obstacles in Germany, most rapidly and with the fewest difficulties in England…”

Engels says the process will meet more difficulties in less developed Germany, but he at no point implies it to be impossible. In fact Engels explains what he seems to perceive as adequate capitalist development for a ”civilized” (modern industrial) country as follows:

”…it has co-ordinated the social development of the civilized countries to such an extent that, in all of them, bourgeoisie and proletariat have become the decisive classes, and the struggle between them the great struggle of the day…”

The fact that bourgeoisie & proletariat are the decisive classes seems to be enough for him. Another question is to define what he means by ”decisive”. Opportunists will scream that the developing world is not ready because they have many peasants, but in 1847 so did the Western countries. Clearly decisive means something else then numerical superiority, it means the emergence of those two classes as independent political forces and the emergence of capitalist relations in the country. Lenin’s thesis was the alliance of the proletariat & the peasantry, even Trotsky and other opportunists had to eventually agree to the correctness of this.

Exploring this topic in-depth is beyond the scope of this article, but I will say is that an alliance of this kind under the leadership of the proletariat is perfectly in accordance with Marxism:

”…we consider the small peasant living by his own labor as virtually belonging to us, but [helping them is] also in the direct interest of the Party. The greater the number of peasants whom we can save from being actually hurled down into the proletariat, whom we can win to our side while they are still peasants, the more quickly and easily the social transformation will be accomplished.”
~Engels, The Peasant Question in France and Germany

 

pd2556041.jpg

Under Stalin’s leadership while applying Lenin’s theory the Soviet Union became a socialist country

 

The alleged ”counter-arguments” by Lenin

Trotskyists and other Opportunist will occasionally point out a Lenin quote that seemingly argues that socialism in Russia is impossible. They do this to justify their defeatism, their utopian need to reject any real-life revolutions as not representing the rosy picture in their mind.

Now let’s take a look at some of these quotes. I will have to use guess-work to some degree as no quote from Lenin truly argues in favor of the Opportunists. As no such quote exists I will look at some which could be misinterpreted as doing so. Here is one:

”Capital is an international force. To vanquish it, an international workers’ alliance, an international workers’ brotherhood, is needed. We are opposed to national enmity and discord, to national exclusiveness. We are internationalists.”
~Lenin, Letter to the Workers and Peasants of the Ukraine (1919)

Opportunists like quotes where Lenin uses the word ”internationalism” because in their fantasy Stalin and therefore Socialism in One Country was opposed to internationalism. This is of course false. We will look at this in greater detail in connexion with ”the Final Victory of Socialism.” For now I will simply present this short passage, as if this even needed to be said:

”We must be true to the end to the cause of proletarian internationalism, to the cause of the fraternal alliance of the proletarians of all countries.”
~Stalin, Report to the 17th Party Congress on the Work of the C.C. of the C.P.S.U.(B.) (1934)

One of the more frequently used quotes is this:

We are now, as it were, in a besieged fortress, waiting for the other detachments of the world socialist revolution to come to our relief… Slowly but surely the workers are adopting communist, Bolshevik tactics and are marching towards the proletarian revolution, which alone is capable of saving dying culture and dying mankind. In short, we are invincible, because the world proletarian revolution is invincible.”
~Lenin Letter To American Workers (1918)

Really this talk of a ”besieged fort” does not greatly differ from classic Stalinist rhetoric about ”capitalist encirclement” or in any way contradict Stalin’s view.

At this point I can’t remember any quotes where Lenin or some other Bolshevik stated that without outside help their revolution wasn’t going to survive but I am fairly certain I’ve seen such a quote. In any case if such a quote exists it only means two things:

1) They were talking about the survival of their insurrection. This is a question of military strength, not a theoretical question.

2) They would have been mistaken, since they actually did end up surviving.

Basically such notions would have been fairly standard stuff for the time. The Bolsheviks all wanted the Revolution to succeed all over the world, e.g. this is Lenin in the same letter to American workers in 1918:

”We are banking on the inevitability of the world revolution, but this does not mean that we are such fools as to bank on the revolution inevitably coming on a definite and early date…”

He is writing in the dire military situation when they hoped some other country would come to their aid. However after their power consolidated and the European revolutions failed Lenin & the Bolsheviks chose a different tone:

“…when we are told that the victory of socialism is possible only on a world scale, we regard this merely as an attempt, a particularly hopeless attempt, on the part of the bourgeoisie and its voluntary and involuntary supporters to distort the irrefutable truth.”
~Lenin, “Speech to the Third All-Russia Congress of Soviets”

“Since Soviet power has been established, since the bourgeoisie has been overthrown in one country, the second task is to wage the struggle on a world scale… On the other hand, since the rule of the bourgeoisie has been overthrown, the main task is to organise the development of the country.”
~Lenin, “The Achievements and Difficulties of the Soviet Government”

Even in his 1918 letter to America Lenin makes the clarification that they don’t know how long they’ll be the only socialist country in the world and their immediate situation is not untennable. This all relates to the ”Final Victory of Socialism” which we shall look at in the next part.

lenin-and-stalin(3)

Lenin and Stalin are suspicious of opportunism

”The Final Victory of Socialism”
First let’s cover some basic ”stalinist” terminology:

Capitalist encirclement

The USSR was a single Proletarian state surrounded by hostile capitalist countries. A base for world revolution. This situation was referred to as ”capitalist encirclement.”

Complete Socialist Society

Term coined by Lenin which meant a society in the low stage of communism (to use orthodox marxist terminology) i.e. The means of production are owned in common (by state & collective sectors), private property and market economy have been abolished. When agriculture was collectivized and five-year plans implemented Stalin proclaimed that the USSR had reached this stage.

Final Victory of Socialism

Guarantee against capitalist restoration or invasion.

Now let’s look at this last term more closely. In 1924 Stalin pointed out that according to Lenin:

”The dictatorship of the proletariat is a power which rests on an alliance between the proletariat and the laboring masses of the peasantry for “the complete overthrow of capital” and for “the final establishment and consolidation of socialism.”
~Stalin, The October Revolution & the Tactics of the Russian Communists (1924)

Interestingly in the first edition of The Foundations of Leninism Stalin stated:

”…can the final victory of socialism be achieved in one country, without the joint efforts of the proletarians in several advanced countries? No, it cannot. To overthrow the bourgeoisie the efforts of one country are sufficient; this is proved by the history of our revolution. For the final victory of socialism, for the organisation of socialist production, the efforts of one country, particularly of a peasant country like Russia, are insufficient; for that, the efforts of the proletarians of several advanced countries are required”

However in Concerning Questions of Leninism he explains:

”I modified and corrected this formulation in my pamphlet The October Revolution and the Tactics of the Russian Communists (December 1924); I divided the question into two―into the question of a full guarantee against the restoration of the bourgeois order, and the question of the possibility of building a complete socialist society in one country. This was effected, in the first place, by treating the “complete victory of socialism” as a “full guarantee against the restoration of the old order,” which is possible only through “the joint efforts of the proletarians of several countries”; and, secondly, by proclaiming, on the basis of Lenin’s pamphlet On Co-operation, the indisputable truth that we have all that is necessary for building a complete socialist society”

It was standard dogma for Marxists to echo the statements similar to the Engels passage we looked at in the beginning of this article, that the revolution relied on the developed Western countries. That said I find it fascinating that Stalin held the more orthodox Marxist view longer then Lenin. On Co-operation was written in 1923 and was Lenin’s last major theoretical contribution. Socialism in One Country truly was Lenin’s invention, merely applied and carried out by Stalin.

So in the last formulation ”the final victory of socialism” means:

“the final victory of Socialism, in the sense of full guarantee against the restoration of bourgeois relations, is possible only on an international scale”
~Resolution of the Fourteenth Conference of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union

“The final victory of Socialism is the full guarantee against attempts at intervention, and that means against restoration, for any serious attempt at restoration can take place only with serious support from outside, only with the support of international capital.”
~Stalin, Problems of Leninism

In his ”On the Final Victory of Socialism in the U.S.S.R.” Stalin presents the following Lenin quote to explain his view:

“We are living not merely in a State but in a system of States, and it is inconceivable that the Soviet Republic should continue to coexist for a long period side by side with imperialist States. Ultimately one or other must conquer. Meanwhile, a number of terrible clashes between the Soviet Republic and the bourgeois States is inevitable. This means that if the proletariat, as the ruling class, wants to and will rule, it must prove this also by military organization.”
~Lenin (Collected Works, Vol. 24. P. 122.)** (see end notes)

So final victory means guarantee against restoration and intervention. In my opinion Stalin somewhat over emphasized foreign invasions though one can hardly blame him. He said that possibly even the existence of several Socialist countries could be sufficient guarantee but this has been proven to be overly optimistic.

That said the basic formulation of ”final victory” remains correct. Personally I would define guarantee against restoration as: global victory of the revolution, complete or near complete elimination of capitalism on a global scale. Call me pessimist but I think only at such a stage can we truly say we’ve won.

LENIN on ‘Socialism in one country’

Here I will leave a series of quotations from Lenin talking about Communist Revolution in One Country or building Socialist Production in One Country. Of course when we talk about ”Socialism in One Country” we mean the latter.

“Uneven economic and political development is an absolute law of capitalism. Hence, the victory of socialism is possible first in several or even in one capitalist country alone. After expropriating the capitalists and organising their own socialist production, the victorious proletariat of that country will arise against the rest of the world―the capitalist world…”
~Lenin, “On the Slogan for a United States of Europe” (1915)

“…Socialism cannot achieve victory simultaneously in all countries. It will achieve victory first in one or several countries…”
~Lenin, “The Military Programme of the Proletarian Revolution” (1916)

“…when we are told that the victory of socialism is possible only on a world scale, we regard this merely as an attempt, a particularly hopeless attempt, on the part of the bourgeoisie and its voluntary and involuntary supporters to distort the irrefutable truth.”
~Lenin, “Speech to the Third All-Russia Congress of Soviets” (1918)

“Since Soviet power has been established, since the bourgeoisie has been overthrown in one country, the second task is to wage the struggle on a world scale… On the other hand, since the rule of the bourgeoisie has been overthrown, the main task is to organise the development of the country.”
~Lenin, “The Achievements and Difficulties of the Soviet Government” (1919)

Socialism is no longer a matter of the distant future… We have dragged socialism into everyday life, and here we must find our way… Permit me to conclude by expressing the conviction that, difficult as this task may be, new as it may be compared with our previous task, and no matter how many difficulties it may entail, we shall all―not in one day, but in the course of several years―all of us together fulfil it whatever happens so that NEP Russia will become socialist Russia
~Lenin, “Speech At A Plenary Session Of The Moscow Soviet Nov. 20, 1922”

”As a matter of fact, the political power of the Soviet over all large-scale means of production, the power in the state in the hands of the proletariat, the alliance of this proletariat with the many millions of small and very small peasants, the assured leadership of the peasantry by the proletariat, etc, …is not this all that is necessary in order from the co-operatives – from the co-operatives alone, which we formerly treated as huckstering, and which, from a certain aspect, we have the right to treat as such now, under the new economic policy – is not this all that is necessary in order to build a complete socialist society? This is not yet the building of socialist society but it is all that is necessary and sufficient for this building.”
~Lenin, “On Cooperation” (1923)

”Infinitely stereotyped, for instance, is the argument they learned by rote during the development of West-European Social-Democracy, namely, that we are not yet ripe for socialism, but as certain “learned” gentleman among them put it, the objective economic premises for socialism do not exist in our country… “The development of the productive forces of Russia has not yet attained the level that makes socialism possible.” All the heroes of the Second International, including, of course, Sukhanov, beat the drums about this proposition. They keep harping on this incontrovertible proposition in a thousand different keys, and think that it is decisive criterion of our revolution… You say that civilization is necessary for the building of socialism. Very good. But why could we not first create such prerequisites of civilization in our country by the expulsion of the landowners and the Russian capitalists, and then start moving toward socialism? Where, in what books, have you read that such variations of the customary historical sequence of events are impermissible or impossible?”
~Lenin, “Our Revolution” (1923)

STALIN on ‘Socialism in one country’

Here will be Stalin quotes to the same effect explaining what considers ”Socialism in One Country”:

”The dictatorship of the proletariat is the instrument of the proletarian revolution, its organ, its most important mainstay, brought into being for the purpose of, firstly, crushing the resistance of the overthrown exploiters and consolidating the achievements of the proletarian revolution, and secondly, carrying the revolution to the complete victory of socialism.”
~Stalin, The Foundations of Leninism (1924)

”This fact shows that socialised funds constitute a very large share of the total, and this share is growing compared with the share of property in the non-socialised sector… Our system as a whole is transitional from capitalism to socialism”
~Stalin, The Fourteenth Congress of the C.P.S.U.(B.) (1925)

”And so, what is the victory of socialism in our country? It means achieving the dictatorship of the proletariat and completely building socialism, thus overcoming the capitalist, elements in our economy through the internal forces of our revolution.”
~Stalin, The Social-Democratic Deviation in our Party (1926)

”Only the blind can deny that the progress in the building of socialism in our country”
~Stalin, The Trotskyist Opposition Before and Now (1927)

”…the victory of socialism is possible in separate countries, thus envisaging the prospect of the formation of two parallel centres of attraction – the centre of world capitalism and the centre of world socialism.”
~Stalin, Results of the July Plenum of the C.C., C.P.S.U.(B.) (1928)

“the question stands as follows: either one way or the other, either back―to capitalism, or forward―to socialism. There is not, and cannot be, any third way.”
~Stalin, Concerning Questions of Agrarian Policy in the U.S.S.R. (1929)

Quotes about the ”Final Victory of Socialism”

LENIN:
”…when we are told that the victory of socialism is possible only on a world scale, we regard this merely as an attempt, a particularly hopeless attempt, on the part of the bourgeoisie and of its voluntary and involuntary supporters to distort the irrefutable truth. The final victory of socialism in a single country is of course impossible.”
~Third All-Russia Congress Of Soviets Of Workers’, Soldiers’ And Peasants’ Deputies (1918)

We are living not merely in a state, but in a system of states, and it is inconceivable for the Soviet Republic to exist alongside of the imperialist states for any length of time. One or the other must triumph in the end.”
~Eighth Congress of the R.C.P.(B.) (1919)

STALIN:
“The final victory of Socialism is the full guarantee against attempts at intervention, and that means against restoration, for any serious attempt at restoration can take place only with serious support from outside, only with the support of international capital.”
~Stalin, Problems of Leninism (1934)

“the final victory of Socialism, in the sense of full guarantee against the restoration of bourgeois relations, is possible only on an international scale”
~Stalin, On the Final Victory of Socialism in the U.S.S.R. (1938)

END NOTES:

*
I know it might be annoying to some but all quotes are in italics. This is to ensure they stand out from my own commentary.

**

this Lenin quote was given in an early edition of Lenin’s works. The quote originates from Lenin’s speech at the Eighth Congress of the R.C.P.(B.) It is translated differently in the new edition with the word ”conquer” changed to ”triumph”. As a result of this people have had some difficulty finding it and some Opportunists on the internet have jumped to the baseless conclusion that the quote is a Stalinist fabrication! This is a slanderous lie. On top of that there would be absolutely no point to commit such fabrication as Lenin said similar things in many other writings.