Truth About the Kronstadt Mutiny

THE KRONSTADT MUTINY

In March 1921 there was a mutiny against the Soviet government among soldiers in the fortress town of Kronstadt. The mutiny went on for two weeks, until it was suppressed by the Bolshevik government. The Kronstadt mutiny is one of those topics which is always debated: was it a heroic uprising against the ‘tyrannical bolsheviks’? Or was it an attempt at counter-revolution? Before I started researching this topic I thought that the Kronstadt mutiny was just a silly anarchist action – but its actually much worse then that.

THE LASTING MYTH OF KRONSTADT

The Kronstadt mutiny has remained a topic of discussion to this day. That is because it is always used as an example of supposed ‘communist tyranny’ by anarchists and revisionists, but also by capitalists and imperialists. They all claim that since the communists had to suppress a mutiny, therefore it proves they were anti-worker, oppressive and that they had turned against the revolution. Of course, this is simplistic and childish thinking and pure demagogy. Of course, there were other revolts and plots against the bolsheviks too, but the Kronstadt mutiny works much better for anarchist and capitalist propaganda purposes because at least on the surface it was done by soldiers of mostly peasant origin (and not by the rich) and because at least on the surface it had a left-wing agenda – however, the surface appearance doesn’t necessarily reflect the whole truth.

The first capitalist president of Russia Boris Yeltsin (the most hated Russian leader in known history) praised the Kronstadt mutiny and opened the archives on Kronstadt for researchers, so that they could prove how heroic the mutiny was and how evil the bolsheviks were. Unfortunately it backfired, since the primary source evidence doesn’t support his conclusion at all. The opened archives contain more then 1000 documents which include firsthand accounts by mutineers, secret White Guard reports, articles, memoirs etc. collected from a range of Soviet, White Guard, Menshevik, anarchist and western capitalist sources.

When the mutiny broke out it was immediately praised and supported in the capitalist media – actually, it was already praised and supported in the capitalist media two weeks before it had even broken out. This already shows that the mutiny was organized, or at least sponsored and supported by capitalists and western imperialist countries.

LEADER OF THE MUTINY PETRICHENKO

The leader of the mutiny was a political adventurer named Stepan Petrichenko. He had been in the Red Army, but considered himself an anarcho-syndicalist. He was also a Ukrainian nationalist. Petrichenko apparently remained an anarcho-syndicalist at least on the surface for most of his life, but one year before the Kronstadt mutiny he had tried to join the White Army. Anarchist historian Avrich writes:

“Petrichenko returned to his native village in April 1920 and apparently remained until September or October… The authorities, he later told an American journalist, had arrested him more than once on suspicion of counterrevolutionary activity. He had even tried to join the Whites…” (Avrich, Kronstadt, p. 95)

Avrich also discovered a secret White Guard Memorandum On Organizing An Uprising In Kronstadt.

Already pretty quickly after the events in Kronstadt we had absolutely solid proof the leaders and organizers of the mutiny were White Guardists or were working with White Guardists. And now with the archival materials, we have absolutely mountains of further evidence. If anyone says otherwise, they are wilfully ignorant or lying.

HOW THE MUTINY WAS ORGANIZED

In 1921 the country was in ruins after years of WWI and civil war. Fuel and food were always extremely scarce. As long as the civil war lasted, the population tolerated all these hardships. They understood it was inevitable in the war. However, in 1921 the war was coming to an end. Massive amounts of soldiers were sent home from the Red Army or at least taken away from battle. This created disturbances as people were no longer focused on fighting the White Army, and there were lots of badly adjusted jobless soldiers wandering around. Peasants also began opposing the war-time policy of grain requisition at fixed prices. Most soldiers themselves were peasants. This all combined together, to create some spontaneous disturbances. The policy of the government, was to evaluate the situation, change from war policies to peace time policies, and organize the reconstruction of the country and revitalization of the economy. However, that was an extremely difficult task which couldn’t be completed in one day.

There was unrest in Petrograd after several factories were temporarily closed due to fuel shortages. Some menshevik counter-revolutionaries were arrested without bloodshed. False rumors of workers being shot and factories even being bombarded, were spread in the fortress town of Kronstadt. Reactionaries took full advantage of these rumors and spread them.

“Mingled with the initial reports was an assortment of bogus rumors which quickly roused the passions of the sailors. It was said, for example, that government troops had fired on the Vasili Island demonstrators and that strike leaders were being shot in the cellars of the Cheka.” (Avrich, p. 71)

“the Petrograd strikes were on the wane… But the rumors of shootings and full-scale rioting had already aroused the sailors, and on March 2, at a time when the disturbances had all but ceased, they were drafting the erroneous announcement (for publication the following day ) that the city was in the throes of a “general insurrection.”” (Avrich, p. 83)

This was the necessary ideological preparation for the mutiny.

A mass meeting was held in Kronstadt on March 1 where anti-Communist statements and lies were spread. The meeting was orchestrated in such a way that Communists were not allowed to speak. The topic was raised that new elections to the Soviet should be carried out.

A delegate meeting of soldiers was held the next day on March 2. In this meeting it was proposed that all Communists be arrested. The delegates were amazed. However, the organizers of the mutiny made the completely baseless and hysterical claim that armed Communist detachments were about to surround the meeting and arrest everyone, therefore it was supposedly justified and necessary to begin rounding up and arresting Communists. This type of fear propaganda was cleverly used by the mutineers. Delegates had no time to think, they had no access to information, and Communists had no chance to speak. Thus the reactionaries could basically push through their anti-Communist policy.

“the Bolshevik commissar barely had time to object to the irregular proceedings before being cut off by the “military specialist” in charge of artillery, a former tsarist general named Kozlovsky… “Your time is past,” Kozlovsky declared.” (Avrich, p. 81)

The adventurer, anarcho-syndicalist and would-be White Guardist Petrichenko declared that a so-called ‘Provisional Revolutionary Committee’ or PRC had been elected. This PRC would now take over.

“[T]he chair of the meeting, Petrichenko, quieting down the meeting, announced that ‘The Revolutionary Committee… declares: “All Communists present are to be seized and not to be released until the situation is clarified” (Introduction to Kronstadt Tragedy)

“suddenly… a voice from the floor… shouted that 15 truckloads of Communists armed with rifles and machine guns were on their way to break up the meeting. The news had the effect of a bombshell, throwing the delegates into alarm and confusion… it was the bogus report that Communists were preparing to attack the meeting that actually precipitated the formation of the Provisional Revolutionary Committee… Petrichenko himself took up the rumor and announced that a detachment of 2,000 Communists were indeed on their way to disperse the meeting. Once again pandemonium broke loose, and the delegates left the hall in great excitement.” (Avrich, p. 84)

Using skillful propaganda and deception Petrichenko claimed that the ‘Provisional Revolutionary Committee’ was elected by soldier delegates. However, this was simply a lie. No elections had been carried out. But the masses did not know that – after all, maybe their delegates in their meeting had elected such a committee? Who could say? This is a good example of how such a reactionary coup can happen.

The Provisional Revolutionary Committee or PRC was never elected, its members had already been chosen before hand. In fact the committee was already sending orders and messages, one day before it had supposedly been elected. The committee stated:

“[T]he Communist Party is removed from power. The Provisional Revolutionary Committee is in charge. We ask that non-[Communist] party comrades take control into their hands” (“To All Posts of Kronstadt,”, reprinted in Kronstadt Tragedy.)

Avrich also mentions how the PRC was never elected, though he claims it was merely “for lack of time to hold proper elections” (Avrich, p. 84)

This “Provisional Revolutionary Committee” actually consisted of opportunists, capitalists and counter-revolutionaries. Two members of this committee were Mensheviks who had opposed the October Revolution. Mensheviks and their foreign supporters believed Russia needed capitalism and wasn’t ready for a workers’ revolution. Ivan Oreshin, another member in the committee was part of the capitalist Kadet party, one of the leading parties under the Tsar. The head of the Committee was the would-be White Guardist Petrichenko. The chief editor of the Kronstadt mutiny’s newspaper, Sergei Putilin was also a supporter of the capitalist Kadets. Thus both the political leadership of the Kronstadt mutiny, and the mutiny’s propaganda outlets were under the control of counter-revolutionaries.

A genuine revolution is not led by anti-revolutionary Mensheviks or by capitalists. Already from its very inception, the Kronstadt mutiny was basically counter-revolutionary. However, that was just the beginning.

Other members of the PRC were a black-market speculator Vershinin, former police detective Pavlov, two ex-capitalists or property holders Baikov and Tukin “who had once owned no less than six houses and three shops in Petrograd. Another committee member, Kilgast, had reportedly been convicted of embezzling government funds in the Kronstadt transportation department but had been released in a general amnesty on the third anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution.” (Avrich, pp. 93-94)

“Perepelkin may have been the only reputed anarchist among the rebel leaders, but… he was in a good position to propagate his libertarian views… [however] the sailors, for their part, never called for the complete elimination of the state, a central plank in any anarchist platform.” (Avrich, p. 170)

It was important for the leaders of the Kronstadt mutiny to appear like they were some kind of revolutionaries. They needed gauge the mood of the soldiers, and try to fool them. Leader of the Kronstadt mutiny, would be-White Guardist Petrichenko made the proposal to allow full freedom for “all socialist parties” in the public meeting of March 1. Immediately he was attacked by angry shouts by soldiers: “That’s freedom for the right SRs and Mensheviks! No! No way! …We know all about their Constituent Assemblies! We don’t need that!” (Kuzmin Report, Stenographic Report of Petrograd Soviet, 25 March 1921, quoted in Kronstadt Tragedy)

Petrichenko needed to be careful to not alienate his crowd. The Kadet Ivan Oreshin who was part of the PRC wrote: “The Kronstadt uprising broke out under the pretext of replacing the old Soviet… with a new one… The question of… extending the vote also to the bourgeoisie, was carefully avoided by the orators… They did not want to evoke opposition among the insurgents… They did not speak of the Constituent Assembly, but the assumption was that it could be arrived at gradually…” (Oreshin in Volia Rossii (April-May 1921), quoted in Shchetinov Kronstadt Tragedy)

The mutiny leaders understood that the soldiers didn’t actually support their goals, so they needed to keep their true goals secret. They could be achieved “gradually” by sneaky secret maneuvering.

During all these operations the reactionary organizers of the mutiny still carefully tried to use a cover of revolutionary and pro-worker language. They called each other ‘comrades’ and ‘the revolutionary committee’. However, they were adamant that Communists must be crushed. The vaguely anarchistic ideology, most likely influenced by Petrichenko, suited their purposes. All kinds of demagogical slogans were made about “freedom against bolshevik tyranny”, “soviets without communism” etc.

However, even if we didn’t know that Petrichenko had wanted to be a White Guardist it was still completely obvious that the Kronstadt mutineers were not following anarchist theory in any typical sense. They were not establishing a stateless society but an anti-Communist military dictatorship. 300 Communists were rounded up and thrown into prisons, but hundreds of Communists also managed to run away.

“The repression carried out by the PRC against those Communists who remained faithful to the communist revolution fully refutes the supposedly peaceful intentions of the rebels. Virtually all the minutes of the PRC sessions indicate that the struggle against the Communists still at large and against those still in prison, remained an unrelenting focus of their attention. At the last phase they even resorted to threats of field courts martial in spite of their declared repeal of the death penalty.” (Agranov, April 1921, quoted in Kronstadt Tragedy)

An anarchist thug named Shustov, was the commandant of the prison. Imagine being an anarchist and advocating the abolition of all prisons, but at the same time you’re literally a prison warden, and you keep arresting hundreds of Communists! Shustov was chosen as the executioner who would shoot the leading local Communists. There was a plan to carry out a mass execution:

“Early on the morning of March 18, Shustov set up a machine gun outside the cell, which contained 23 prisoners. He was prevented from slaughtering the Communists only by the advance of the Red Army across the ice.” (Kronstadt 1921: Bolshevism vs. Counterrevolution)

THE KRONSTADT DEMANDS

Lenin pointed out that the Kronstadt demands were quite vague and unclear. This was inevitable because they were not realistic policy proposals but a combination utopianism, spontaneity and demagogic propaganda intended to gather enough support until the White Guard could take power and crush the Communists and all other opposition.

The essential demands were: (Source: March 1 Resolution, quoted in Kronstadt Tragedy)

1. New elections to the Soviets. In Kronstadt Communists were arrested and thus would not be allowed to run in elections. Instead the Soviets would be filled with mensheviks, white guards, anarchists and opponents of the October Revolution such as the SR kerensky types. Of course the reactionaries also hoped this could spread elsewhere and help destabilize the Soviet government. Needless to say this was not an anarchistic “stateless” order.

2. Full freedom of action for anti-Communist parties including the left-SR terrorists who tried to assassinate Lenin in 1918. The terrorist’s bullet hit Lenin in the neck but he survived. These anti-Communist forces would receive full freedom of action, but of course in Kronstadt the Communists would be repressed and prevented from all activitism. Again, the reactionaries hoped this would spread to other areas too.

3. There should be no government regulation of trade-unions. Of course, in practice this simply meant that unions should denounce the Soviet government, sever their ties with the Soviet government and not follow instructions from it. If this demand was implemented it would lead to chaos because the unions were the government’s main instrument of economic management and workplace democracy. The demand for unions which did not collaborate with the workers’ government was also an essentially anti-socialist demand. Unions working with a proletarian state are an important part of planned economy and socialist construction.

4. Anti-Communist rebels like menshevik saboteurs, SR terrorists and those organizing revolts should be freed from jail.

5. The mutineers demanded bigger rations. Of course everybody wanted higher wages and bigger rations, but this was just a cheap attempt to garner popularity. Also, the bolshevik government was being basically forced to pay somewhat higher salaries and better rations for skilled experts, bourgeois officials and workers in strategic branches. They did not want to do this, but they had to. Those experts and officials could not be replaced right away, and if they didn’t collaborate the government would have huge problems. Therefore the bolsheviks simply had to accommodate those people until Red Experts could be trained to replace them. It may seem unfair, but failing to recognize this necessity is just another example of utopian stupidity.

6. The abolition of “war communism” or grain requisition. Again, this demand could gain some popularity. The peasants never particularly liked the system of war communism, though it was necessary for the war effort. The mutineers more broadly demanded that peasants should be able to use their land and property exactly how they see fit. They did not want collective agriculture or socialist planned economy, but instead who ever was lucky enough to have land should use it to the best of their ability and compete on the market. Landless would remain landless, and big peasants would get bigger.

7. The mutineers demanded the purging of Communists from the military and factory management, and abolition of Communist political departments from the army. The army at this point still had very large numbers of professional officers and soldiers from the times of the Tsar and Kerensky. These officers were needed and used by the Communists because of their skills and professional military training. However, because those officers and soldiers were not communists or workers, and were generally untrustworthy the Bolsheviks invented ‘political comissars’ to supervise the officers.

“former imperial officers were… [used] as “military specialists” ( voenspetsy ) under the watchful supervision of political commissars. In this way, badly needed command experience and technical knowledge were provided until a new corps of Red Commanders could be trained.” (Avrich, p. 66)

The Kronstadt mutineers demanded that this system be abolished. Such a demand might appeal to some anarchists, but one can only imagine what the result would be. The non-Communist officers inside the Red Army would no longer follow socialist instructions and the Red Army would stop being a proletarian army at all. In fact, this quickly happened and the old Tsarist officers Kozlovsky, Vilken and others were soon walking around like they were masters of the situation. In fact, they were masters during the mutiny.

According to the SRs the White Guard general Kozlovsky was ‘elected’ to the defence council of the Kronstadt mutiny, but it seems unlikely he could get elected. Its more likely he was simply chosen by the counter-revolutionaries into that post. The Menshevik newspaper Sotsialisticheski Vestnik published in Germany wrote that Kozlovsky and the other Whites tried to convince the Mensheviks and SRs to begin a general military assault against the Soviet government, but they were unable to convince them. The Mensheviks wrote: “The political leaders of the insurrection would not agree to take the offensive and the opportunity was let slip.“

WHITE GUARDS AND CAPITALISTS IN KRONSTADT

White emigres immediately began making plans to join the Kronstadt mutineers. A former associate of White General Dennikin, N. N. Chebyshev wrote about those times: “White officers roused themselves and started seeking ways to get to the fight in Kronstadt… The spark flew among the emigres. Everybody’s spirit was lifted by it” (quoted in Shchetinov, Introduction to Kronstadt Tragedy)

Imperialist France and Britain encouraged capitalist states on the Russian border to assist the Kronstadt mutiny. British foreign minister Lord Curzon sent a secret message to Finland On March 11 stating: “His Majesty’s Government are not prepared themselves to intervene… Very confidential: There is no reason, however, why you should advise the Finnish Government to take a similar course or to prevent any private societies or individuals from helping [the mutiny]” (Documents on British Foreign Policy 1919-1939).

Food and money came from rich capitalists and White emigres to support the Kronstadt mutineers. Tsarist Baron P. Y. Vilken, the former commander of the Sevastopol, used his spy contacts to deliver the money. His telegrams discuss sending the funds through Helsinki “which needs the money in the beginning of March” (Russkaia voennaia emigratsiaa 20-x—40-x godov).

“The Russian banks, with the former Tsarist minister of finance Kokovtsev at their head, began to collect money for Kronstadt. Goutchkov, the head of the Russian imperialist party, got in contact with the English and American governments to obtain food supplies.” (Radek, The Kronstadt Uprising, 1921)

“The Whiteguard emigres in Paris organized collection of money and provisions for the mutineers, and the American Red Cross sent food supplies to Kronstadt under its flag.“ (A History of the USSR, volume 3, p. 307)

“the Russian Union of Commerce and Industry in Paris declared its intention to send food and other supplies to Kronstadt… an initial sum of two million Finnish marks had already been pledged to aid Kronstadt in “the sacred cause of liberating Russia” (Avrich, p. 116)

“the Russian-Asiatic Bank contributed 225,000 francs. Additional funds were donated by other Russian banks, insurance companies, and financial concerns throughout Europe, and by the Russian Red Cross, which funneled all collections to Tseidler, its representative in Finland. By March 16 Kokovtsov was able to inform the Committee of Russian Banks in Paris that deposits for Kronstadt already exceeded 775,000 francs…” (Avrich, p. 117)

The leaders of the Kronstadt mutiny published an article on March 6 where they claimed to oppose the Whites. However, this was more deception as Petrichenko and many of his associates were White Guardists. Two days later on March 8 they welcomed a secret delegation of allies, which included a courier from the SR Administrative Center, an agent of Finnish State Security, two representatives of the monarchist Petrograd Combat Organization and four White Guard officers, including Baron Vilken.

The Whites were disguised as a “Red Cross” delegation sent from Finland. According to a detailed report by White Guardist Tseidler to his HQ, the delegation was immediately invited to ajoint session of the PRC and the general staff officers. A plan was reached to use the Red Cross as a cover to organizing sending food, supplies and funds to Kronstadt. (Source: Tseidler, Red Cross Activity in Organizing Provisions Aid to Kronstadt, 25 April 1921).

White emigre and former member of the Kronstadt leadership Kupolov wrote later that some of the Kronstadt leaders (probably mensheviks and anarchists) were not too happy about the monarchist and White Guard plots. However, Petrichenko was simply using them and planned to eventually get rid of them too. Kupolov writes:

“The PRC, seeing that Kronstadt was filling up with agents of a monarchist organization, issued a declaration that it would not enter into negotiations with, nor accept any aid from, any non-socialist parties… But… Petrichenko and the General Staff secretly worked in connection with the monarchists and prepared the ground for an overthrow of the committee…” (Kupolov, “Kronstadt and the Russian Counterrevolutionaries in Finland: From the Notes of a Former Member of the PRC”)

This is exactly why the Bolsheviks stated that while many of the Kronstadt mutineers were not White Guards or members of the capitalist class, their action still furthered the goals of the White Guard counter-revolution and of capitalist restoration. The White Guards were simply using these mensheviks and hapless opportunists.

The PCR claimed:
“In Kronstadt, total power is in the hands only of the revolutionary sailors… not of the White Guards headed by some General Kozlovsky, as the slanderous Moscow radio proclaims.” “We have only one general here… commissar of the Baltic Fleet Kuzmin. And he has been arrested.”” (Avrich, p. 99)

In exile Petrichenko stated:
“Cut off from the outside world, we could receive no aid from foreign sources even if we had wanted it. We served as agents of no external group: neither capitalists, Mensheviks, nor SR’s.” (Avrich, p. 113)

These days we know that he was lying.

Anarchist sailor Perepelkin, who was there in Kronstadt stated:

“And here I saw the former commander or the Sevastopol, Baron Vilken with whom I had earlier sailed. And it is he who is now acknowledged by the PRC to be the representative of the delegation that is offering us aid. I was outraged by this. I… said, so that’s the situation we’re in, that’s who we’re forced to talk to. Petrichenko and the others jumped on me… There was no other way out: they said. I stopped arguing and said I would accept the proposal. And on the second day we received 400 poods of food and cigarettes. Those who agreed to mutual friendship with the White Guard baron yesterday shouted that they were for Soviet power.” (Komarov Report, 25 March 1921)

“Any doubts about Vilken’s motives (his officer background was known to the rebel leaders) were brushed aside, and the Revolutionary Committee accepted his offer.” (Avrich, p. 122)

This has of course continued to this very day. The pseudo-Anarchists in Rojava made the same exact arguments. They said, they needed to collaborate with American imperialists because American imperialists were giving them funding, training, military support and weaponry. And were they really expected to win all on their own without such support? But such opportunistic logic merely reduces any movement into helpless puppets of capitalists and imperialists.

Wrangel’s right hand man, White General General Von Lampe literally laughed at the anarchists, mensheviks and SRs. He wrote in his diary that their propaganda was “full of justifications to dispel the thought, God forbid, that the sailors were under the influence of [White Monarchist] officers… The SRs don’t understand that in such a struggle, what are needed are severe and determined measures.” (Quoted in Kronstadt Tragedy)

An editor for the mutineer newspaper Lamanov stated: “Up until the seizure of Kronstadt by Soviet troops I thought the movement had heen organized by the Left SRs. After I became convinced that the movement was not spontaneous, I no longer sympathized with it… Now I am firmly convinced, that, without a doubt, White Guards, both Russian and foreign, took part in the movement. The escape to Finland convinced me of this. Now I consider my participation in this movement to have heen an unforgivable stupid mistake.” (Minutes of Cheka Interrogation of Anatoly Lamanov)

On March 15 the Kronstadt mutineers secretly sent two of their leaders to Finland, to ask for support. At this time Finland was ruled by the ferocious White Guard government of Mannerheim and co. which was launching invasions into Soviet-Karelia and supporting the Russian White Generals. When the mutiny was being defeated, on March 17 Petrichenko and the leaders ordered the crews of ships Petropavlovsk and Sevastopol to blow up the ships and flee to Anti-Communist Finland. However, at this point the soldiers had already begun to think their leaders must be reactionaries and did not follow orders. They rose up, saved the ships and arrested all the officers and Provisional Committee members they could get their hands on.

After the Kronstadt mutiny had failed and its leaders had fled to Finland, they agreed to join the White Army of Wrangel:

“In May 1921 Petrichenko and several of his fellow refugees at the Fort Ino camp decided to volunteer their services to General Wrangel… in a new campaign to unseat the Bolsheviks and restore “the gains of the February 1917 Revolution.”” (Avrich, p. 127)

It is very significant that at this point they were no longer in Kronstadt, and thus didn’t need to pretend they supported the October Revolution. Hence they now began to only praise the February revolution of Kerensky!

The Petrichenko gang and the Whites forces of Wrangel agreed to “the retention of their slogan “all power to the soviets but not the parties.”… the slogan was to be retained only as a “convenient political maneuver” until the Communists had been overthrown. Once victory was in hand, the slogan would be shelved and a temporary military dictatorship installed…” (Avrich, pp. 127-128)

THE REACTIONARY PROPAGANDA CAMPAIGN

The Kronstadt mutineers and their capitalist allies carried out a massive propaganda campaign to support the mutiny. They published lies claiming that supposedly the Bolsheviks were carrying out atrocities and supposedly everybody was rising up against them. In fact, nothing of the kind happened.

The Kronstadt newspaper wrote on March 7: “Last Minute News From Petrograd” – ”Mass arrests and executions of workers and sailors continue.”

On March 8 a Finnish capitalist newspaper Hufvudstadsbladet published the following lies, provided to them by Mensheviks: “Petrograd workers are striking… crowds bearing red banners demand a change of government – the overthrow of the Communists.”

On March 11 the Kronstadt newspaper wrote: “The [bolshevik] Government In Panic.” “Our cry has been heard. Revolutionary sailors, Red Army men and workers in Petrograd are already coming to our assistance … The Bolshevik power feels the ground slipping from under its feet and has issued orders in Petrograd to open fire at any group of five or more people gathering in the streets …”

“Moscow Rising Reported. Petrograd Fighting.” (London Times, March 2, 1921)

“Petrograd et Moscou Seraient aux Maine des Insurgés qui ont Formé un Gouvernement Provisoire.” [“Petrograd and Moscow will be in the hands of the insurgents who have formed a provisional government”] (Matin, March 7)

“Les Marins Revoltés Débarquent à Petrograd.” [“Rebelling sailors land in Petrograd”] (Matin, March 8)

“Der Aufstand in Russland.” [“The uprising in Russia”] (Vossische Zeitung, March 10)

“In Petrograd the remnants of the SRs, Mensheviks and various anarchists banded together… [and] collaborated with the newly formed monarchist Petrograd Combat Organization (PCO), as the PCO itself asserted (PCO Report to Helsinki Department of National Center, no earlier than 28 March 1921; reprinted in Kronstadt Tragedy). The [monarchist-capitalist] PCO even printed the Mensheviks’ leaflets! On March 14… [they] issued a leaflet in solidarity with Kronstadt that said not one word about socialism or soviets, but instead called for an uprising against “the bloody communist regime” in the name of “all power to the people” (“Appeal to All Citizens, Workers, Red Army Soldiers and Sailors,” 14 March 1921; reprinted in Kronstadt Tragedy).” (Kronstadt 1921: Bolshevism vs. Counterrevolution)

“Savinkov, aide to Kerensky… in his Warsaw newspaper Svoboda, printed on Polish [capitalist] government money, boasts (24th February) “I fight against the Bolsheviks, I fight alongside those who have already struggled with Kolchak, Denikin, Wrangel and even Petlioura [Petrichenko], strange as that may seem.” (Radek, The Kronstadt Uprising, 1921)

Savinkov wrote that the sailors of Kronstadt had captured the battleship Aurora and fired its cannons on Petrograd. This never actually happened. He wrote: “when the cruiser Aurora fired on Petrograd it was an expression of repentance for the sin committed on the 25th of October 1917 with the bombardment of the Winter Palace, the seat of Kerensky’s ministry.”

“The Roul of Berlin, the organ of the right wing of the Cadet Party, wrote “The uprising of Kronstadt is scared, because it is an uprising against the idea of the October revolution”. The Society of Russian Industrialists and Financiers of Paris, when they heard the news from Kronstadt, decided to not worry about the extremist demands or the primitive cause of the mutiny [“les revendications extremistes cause primitive de la mutinerie”] because its essential point was that “the sailors were for the overthrow of the Communist government” [Dernières Nouvelles de Paris, 8th March].” (Radek, The Kronstadt Uprising, 1921)

The reactionary mutineers claimed that mass uprisings had broken out in Petrograd and Moscow to support the Kronstadt mutiny, but this was a total lie. Even Menshevik leader Dan admitted in his 1922 book that “the Kronstadt mutiny was not supported by the Petersburg workers in any way” (quoted in ‘The Mensheviks in the Kronstadt Mutiny,” Krasnaill Letopis’, 1931, No.2). This is easy to understand, because the mutiny was not based on genuine political organizing or a genuine program. It was a plot organized by White Guard reactionaries and political adventurers, by spreading false rumors, lies, and exploiting the temporary difficulties and confusion in Kronstadt at the time in order to carry out a military coup, repress the communists and prevent the workers and peasants from understand what was actually going on.

It was enterily unlikely that workers would support the mutiny in other towns where they could not be simply tricked by plotters, and where they had their working class and Communist organizations. The Kronstadt mutiny used anarchists, left-SR terrorists and Mensheviks as their henchmen but even they were to a large extent simply fooled into it, as White Guardists were secretly trying to orchestrate many aspects of the mutiny for their own purposes.

Its also worth pointing out that the best revolutionary elements in the left-SRs, left-Mensheviks and even anarchists had already seen the error in their ways and joined the Bolshevik Party either right before the October Revolution or soon after it. Only the worse elements like terrorists, utopians and right-wing Mensheviks now opposed the Bolsheviks. The anarcho-syndicalist “Worker Opposition” also supported the Bolsheviks in crushing the Kronstadt mutiny.

“SOVIETS WITHOUT COMMUNISM! DOWN WITH COMMUNISM!” – IDEOLOGY OF THE KRONSTADT MUTINY

Milliukov, one of the capitalist leaders of Russia who was ousted by the October Revolution, wrote in his newspaper which he published in Paris, that reactionaries need to support the Kronstadt mutiny. He therefore advocated the slogan “Down with the Bolsheviks’ Long live the Soviets!” (Poslednie Novosti. 11 March 1921). The first step was to get rid of the Bolshevik Communists, after that it would be easy to restore the power of the capitalists.

“The [capitalist]… Milyukov, supplied the Kronstadt counter-revolutionaries with the watchword “Soviets without Communists””(A History of the USSR, volume 3, p. 307)

Stalin said: “Soviets without Communists — such was then the watchword of the chief of the Russian counter-revolution, Milyukov…” (J. Stalin, Articles and Speeches, Moscow, 1934, , Russ, ed., p. 217)

“But the class enemy was not dozing. He tried to exploit the distressing economic situation and the discontent of the peasants for his own purposes. Kulak revolts, engineered by Whiteguards and SRs, broke out in Siberia, the Ukraine and the Tambov province… All kinds of counter-revolutionary elements — Mensheviks, SRs, Anarchists, Whiteguards, bourgeois nationalists—became active again. The enemy adopted new tactics of struggle against the Soviet power. He began to borrow a Soviet garb, and his slogan was no longer the old bankrupt “Down with the Soviets!” but a new slogan: “For the Soviets, but without Communists!”

A glaring instance of the new tactics of the class enemy was the counter-revolutionary mutiny in Kronstadt… Whiteguards, in complicity with SRs, Mensheviks and representatives of foreign states, assumed the lead of the mutiny. The mutineers at first used a “Soviet” signboard to camouflage their purpose of restoring the power and property of the capitalists and landlords. They raised the cry: “Soviets without Communists!” The counter-revolutionaries tried to exploit the discontent of the petty bourgeois masses in order to overthrow the power of the Soviets under a pseudo-Soviet slogan.

Two circumstances facilitated the outbreak of the Kronstadt mutiny: the deterioration in the composition of the ships’ crews, and the weakness of the Bolshevik organization in Kronstadt. Nearly all the old [revolutionary, communist Kronstadt] sailors… [had been sent away to the] front, heroically fighting in the ranks of the Red Army. The naval replenishments [sent to Kronstadt to replace them] consisted of new men, who had not been schooled in the revolution. These were a perfectly raw peasant mass who gave expression to the peasantry’s discontent with the [grain requisition system and war communism]. As for the Bolshevik organization in Kronstadt, it had been greatly weakened by a series of mobilizations for the front.”
(History of the CPSU(B) short course)

Anarchist historian Avrich writes that the bulk of Kronstadt sailors had fought in anti-Communist forces before: “…we have it from Petrichenko himself that “three-quarters” of the Kronstadt garrison were natives of the Ukraine, some of whom had served with the anti-Bolshevik forces in the south before entering the Soviet navy.” (Avrich, p. 93)

“Throughout the Civil War of 1918-1920, the sailors of Kronstadt… More than 40,000… replenished the ranks of the Red Army on every front.” (Avrich, p. 62)

“There can be little doubt that during the Civil War years a large turnover had indeed taken place within the Baltic Fleet… old-timers had been replaced by conscripts from the rural districts… By 1921… more than three-quarters of the sailors were of peasant origin, a substantially higher proportion than in 1917, when industrial workers from the Petrograd area made up a sizable part of the fleet.” (Avrich, p. 89)

The temporary weakness of the local Communist organization in Kronstadt, the mass influx of politically uneducated people from the countryside, who were even anti-communists, and the sending of politically educated, experienced proletarians away to the frontlines during the war – these factors allows the SR utopians, terrorists, anarchists, mensheviks and outright capitalists, monarchists and White Guards to gain a temporary foothold in Kronstadt.

One of the reasons for the relative weakness of the Kronstadt Bolshevik party organization, was that Trotskyists and Zinovievites were in a strong position there:

“The work of political education was at that time badly organized in the Baltic Fleet, and the Trotskyites… managed to get into leading positions…” (A History of the USSR, volume 3, p. 307)

A power struggle began between the opportunist factions of Trotsky and Zinoviev. At this time Lenin had been waging ideological struggle against Trotsky’s bureaucratic position on the questions of war-communism and role of the trade-unions. Zinoviev took advantage of this to strengthen his own opportunist faction. Trotskyists themselves admit this:

“Seizing on Trotsky’s wrong-headedness, Zinoviev mobilized his own base in the Petrograd-Kronstadt area against Trotsky… Zinoviev opened the floodgates of the Kronstadt party organization to backward recruits while encouraging a poisonous atmosphere in the inner-party dispute. The rot in the Kronstadt Communist Party organization was a critical factor in allowing the mutiny to proceed” (“Kronstadt 1921…”, Spartacist, Spring 2006 #59, )

There is no honor amount scoundrels! A few years after this the renegade cliques of Trotsky and Zinoviev would unite their forces against the Bolshevik party.

“The authority of the party was further undermined by a struggle for political control in the fleet, which pitted Trotsky, the War Commissar, against Zinoviev… As a result of this dispute, the commissars and other party administrators lost much of their hold over the rank and file.” (Avrich, p. 70)

ANTI-SEMITISM

Another piece of information, indicating that the Kronstadt mutineers did not represent the best revolutionary elements, but actually some of the most political backward elements, was their rampant anti-semitism. Anti-semitism of course was quite common in Russia at that time, but it was not tolerated among the Communists. It was more common among peasants then workers.

“feelings against the Jews ran high among the [Kronstadt] sailors, many of whom came from the Ukraine and the western borderlands, the classic regions of virulent anti-Semitism in Russia” (Avrich, p. 179)

One of the Kronstadt newspaper editors Lamanov, said that people constantly wrote anti-semitic articles about Jews having “murdered Russia” but he usually succeeded in preventing them from being published. (Source: Further Minutes of Questioning of Anatoly Lamanov, 25 March 1921)

“Vershinin… [member of the PRC] shouted an appeal for joint action against the Jewish and Communist oppressors…” (Avrich, p. 155)

“Jews were a customary scapegoat in times of hardship and distress… In a particularly vicious passage [one sailor] attacks the Bolshevik regime as the “first Jewish Republic”… he labels the Jews a new “privileged class,”… calling the government ultimatum to Kronstadt “the ultimatum of the Jew Trotsky.” These sentiments, he asserts were widely shared by his fellow sailors… Witness the appeal of Vershinin, a member of the Revolutionary Committee… on March 8… “Enough of your ‘hoorahs,’ and join with us to beat the Jews. It’s their cursed domination that we workers and peasants have had to endure.” (Avrich, pp. 179-180)

WHY DIDN’T THE BOLSHEVIKS NEGOTIATE A PEACEFUL SETTLEMENT?

Anarchists usually claim that the Bolsheviks saw the Kronstadt mutiny as some great threat to their power. That supposedly the “heroic struggle” of the mutineers could’ve inspired everyone to overthrow the Bolsheviks. However, this is completely false.

Lenin wrote:

“This Kronstadt affair in itself is a very petty incident. It no more threatens to break up the Soviet state than the Irish disorders are threatening to break up the British Empire.” (Lenin, On the Kronstadt revolt)

The Menshevik leader Dan admitted in his 1922 book that “the Kronstadt mutiny was not supported by the Petersburg workers in any way” (quoted in ‘The Mensheviks in the Kronstadt Mutiny,” Krasnaill Letopis’, 1931, No.2)

The Bolshevik government suppressed the mutiny because the Whites still tried to use it as a springboard for restarting the civil war with foreign imperialist backing.

“What the authorities feared, in other words, was not so much the rebellion itself…” (Avrich, p. 134)

“Of greater concern to the Bolsheviks was the determination of the [white] emigres to gain access to Kronstadt and use it as a base for a landing on the mainland. This would have meant nothing less than a resumption of the Civil War…” (Avrich, p. 134)

The ice was quickly melting so time was of the essence. Kronstadt had an extremely strong fortress and heavy weaponry. It would be very difficult to attack, and if the ice melted the only way to get there would be on battleships. Kronstadt itself also had two battleships. Therefore if the Bolsheviks waited and didn’t attack and take the Fort right away, the resulting battle might be catastrophic in its casualties and material damages. The mutineers also felt that they had gone too far, and there was no turning back. They felt they couldn’t negotiate their way out of this and simply had to fight as long as possible.

Zinoviev carried out pointless negotiations with the mutineers, which achieved nothing and only allowed the counter-revolutionaries to fortify their defenses.

“Zinoviev negotiated with the traitors for seven whole days, thereby giving them time to fortify themselves.” (A History of the USSR, volume 3, p. 307)

TROTSKY’S ROLE

It is often stated that Trotsky led the suppression of the Kronstadt mutiny, and that under Trotsky’s leadership the soldiers committed atrocities. However, both of these claims are false. The military defeat of the mutiny was entirely led by Voroshilov. Trotsky himself wrote later:

“The truth of the matter is that I personally did not participate in the least in the suppression of the Kronstadt rebellion” (Trotsky, More on the Suppression of Kronstadt)

The soldiers, 300 of whom had been delegates to the 10th Bolshevik Part Congress, acted heroicially but Zinoviev who was in a power struggle with Trotsky at the time, spread all kinds of lies about the military operation, saying that it was organized by Trotsky and that all kinds of mistakes and wrong-doings supposedly occurred. But the bureaucratic mistakes of Trotsky, neglecting ideological education in the army and navy, and the further sabotage of Zinoviev contributed to the outbreak of the mutiny.

DEFEATING THE MUTINY

“The mutineers gained possession of a first-class fortress, the fleet, and a vast quantity of arms and ammunition… Against the Kronstadt mutineers the Party sent its finest sons—delegates to the Tenth Congress, headed by Comrade Voroshilov. The Red Army men advanced on Kronstadt across a thin sheet of ice; it broke in places and many were drowned. The almost impregnable forts of Kronstadt had to be taken by storm…” (History of the CPSU(B) short course)

“Picked units of the Red Army were sent to crush the Kronstadt counter-revolution. The Tenth Congress of the Party, which was in session at that time, sent 300 of its delegates, headed by K. E. Voroshilov, to reinforce them. On March 16, the revolutionary soldiers… commenced an assault upon the main forts of Kronstadt, rushing forward in spite of continuous machine-gun fire and the bursting shells which broke the already fragile ice over which they were advancing. In the front ranks of the assault columns was Voroshilov, setting an example of Bolshevik courage and valour.” (A History of the USSR, volume 3, pp. 307-308)

APPENDIX. LENIN ON KRONSTADT:

“What does it mean? It was an attempt to seize political power from the Bolsheviks by a motley crowd or alliance of ill-assorted elements, apparently just to the right of the Bolsheviks, or perhaps even to their “left”—you can’t really tell, so amorphous is the combination of political groupings that has tried to take power in Kronstadt. You all know, undoubtedly, that at the same time whiteguard generals were very active over there. There is ample proof of this. A fortnight before the Kronstadt events., the Paris newspapers reported a mutiny at Kronstadt. It is quite clear that it is the work of SRs and whiteguard émigrés, and at the same time the movement was reduced to a petty-bourgeois counter-revolution and petty-bourgeois anarchism. That is something quite new. This circumstance, in the context of all the crises, must be given careful political consideration and must be very thoroughly analysed… There is evidence here of the activity of petty-bourgeois anarchist elements with their slogans of unrestricted trade and invariable hostility to the dictatorship of the proletariat… they wanted to correct the Bolsheviks in regard to restrictions in trade—and this looks like a small shift, which leaves the same slogans of “Soviet power” with ever so slight a change or correction. Yet, in actual fact the whiteguards only used the non-Party elements as a stepping stone to get in. This is politically inevitable. We saw the petty-bourgeois, anarchist elements in the Russian revolution, and we have been fighting them for decades. We have seen them in action since February 1917, during the great revolution, and their parties’ attempts to prove that their programme differed little from that of the Bolsheviks, but that only their methods in carrying it through were different. We know this not only from the experience of the October Revolution, but also of the outlying regions and various areas within the former Russian Empire where the Soviet power was temporarily replaced by other regimes. Let us recall the Democratic Committee in Samara. They all came in demanding equality, freedom, and a constituent assembly, and every time they proved to be nothing but a conduit for whiteguard rule. Because the Soviet power is being shaken by the economic situation, we must consider all this experience and draw the theoretical conclusions a Marxist cannot escape… We must take a hard look at this petty-bourgeois counter-revolution with its calls for freedom to trade. Unrestricted trade—even if it is not as bound up initially with the whiteguards as Kronstadt was—is still only the thin end of the wedge for the whiteguard element, a victory for capital and its complete restoration. We must, I repeat, have a keen sense of this political danger.”
(Lenin, Tenth Congress of the R.C.P.(B.))

“I emphasised the danger of Kronstadt because it lies precisely in the fact that the change demanded was apparently very slight: “The Bolsheviks must go . . . we will correct the regime a little.” That is what the Kronstadt rebels are demanding. But what actually happened was that Savinkov arrived in Revel, the Paris newspapers reported the events a fortnight before they actually occurred, and a whiteguard general appeared on the scene. That is what actually happened.” (Lenin, Tenth Congress of the R.C.P.(B.))

“The way the enemies of the proletariat take advantage of every deviation from a thoroughly consistent communist line was perhaps most strikingly shown in the case of the Kronstadt mutiny, when the bourgeois counter-revolutionaries and whiteguards in all countries of the world immediately expressed their readiness to accept the slogans of the Soviet system, if only they might thereby secure the overthrow of the dictatorship of the proletariat in Russia, and when the SRs and the bourgeois counter-revolutionaries in general resorted in Kronstadt to slogans calling for an insurrection against the Soviet Government of Russia ostensibly in the interest of the Soviet power. These facts fully prove that the whiteguards strive, and are able, to disguise themselves as Communists, and even as the most Left-wing Communists, solely for the purpose of weakening and destroying the bulwark of the proletarian revolution in Russia.“ (Lenin, Tenth Congress of the R.C.P.(B.))

“The vacillation of the petty-bourgeois element was the most characteristic feature of the Kronstadt events. There was very little that was clear, definite and fully shaped. We heard nebulous slogans about “freedom”, “freedom of trade”, “emancipation”, “Soviets without the Bolsheviks”, or new elections to the Soviets, or relief from “Party dictatorship”, and so on and so forth. Both the Mensheviks and the SRs declared the Kronstadt movement to be “their own”. [Menshevik] Victor Chernov sent a messenger to Kronstadt. On the latter’s proposal, the Menshevik Valk, one of the Kronstadt leaders, voted for the Constituent Assembly. In a flash, with lightning speed, you might say, the whiteguards mobilised all their forces “for Kronstadt“. Their military experts in Kronstadt, a number of experts, and not Kozlovsky alone, drew up a plan for a landing at Oranienbaum, which scared the vacillating mass of Mensheviks, SRs and non-party elements. More than fifty Russian whiteguard newspapers published abroad conducted a rabid campaign “for Kronstadt”. The big banks, all the forces of finance capital, collected funds to assist Kronstadt. That shrewd leader of the bourgeoisie and the landowners, the Cadet Milyukov, patiently explained to the simpleton [Menshevik] Chernov… and to the Mensheviks Dan and Rozhkov, who are in jail in Petrograd for their connection with the Kronstadt events… that there is no need to hurry with the Constituent Assembly, and that Soviet power can and must be supported—only without the Bolsheviks.

Of course, it is easy to be cleverer than conceited simpletons like Chernov, the petty-bourgeois phrase-monger, or like Martov, the knight of philistine reformism doctored to pass for Marxism. Properly speaking, the point is not that Milyukov, as an individual, has more brains, but that, because of his class position, the party leader of the big bourgeoisie sees and understands the class essence and political interaction of things more clearly than the leaders of the petty bourgeoisie, the Chernovs and Martovs. For the bourgeoisie is really a class force which, under capitalism… and which also inevitably enjoys the support of the world bourgeoisie. But the petty bourgeoisie, i.e. … cannot… be anything else than the expression of class impotence; hence the vacillation, phrase-mongering and helplessness…

[Menshevik leader] Martov showed himself to be nothing but a philistine Narcissus when he declared in his Berlin journal that Kronstadt not only adopted Menshevik slogans but also proved that there could be an anti-Bolshevik movement which did not entirely serve the interests of the whiteguards, the capitalists and the landowners. He says in effect: “Let us shut our eves to the fact that all the genuine whiteguards hailed the Kronstadt mutineers and collected funds in aid of Kronstadt through the banks!” Compared with the Chernovs and Martovs, Milyukov is right, for he is revealing the true tactics of the real whiteguard force, the force of the capitalists and landowners. He declares: “It does not matter whom we support, be they anarchists or any sort of Soviet government, as long as the Bolsheviks are overthrown, as long as there is a shift in power; it does not matter whether to the right or to the left, to the Mensheviks or to the anarchists, as long as it is away from the Bolsheviks… ‘we’, the capitalists and landowners, will do the rest ‘ourselves’… History proves it. The facts bear it out. The Narcissuses will talk; the Milyukovs and whiteguards will act.”
(Lenin, The Tax in Kind)

“You must have noticed that these extracts from the whiteguard newspapers published abroad appeared side by side with extracts from British and French newspapers. They are one chorus, one orchestra… They have admitted that if the slogan becomes “Soviet power without the Bolsheviks” they will all accept it. Milyukov explains this with particular clarity… He says he is prepared to accept the “Soviet power without the Bolsheviks” slogan. He cannot see from over there in Paris whether this is to be a slight shift to the right or to the left, towards the anarchists. From over there, he cannot see what is going on in Kronstadt, but asks the monarchists not to rush and spoil things by shouting about it. He declares that even if the shift is to be to the left, he is prepared to back the Soviet power against the Bolsheviks…”
(Lenin, The All-Russia Congress Of Transport Workers)

SOURCES:

Paul Avrich, Kronstadt: The 1921 Uprizing of Sailors in the Context of the Political Development of the New Soviet State

[Avrich provides a lot of useful factual information, however he is pro-anarchist. He sees the Kronstadt mutiny as a tragedy which could never have succeeded but he sympathizes with it. Despite everything he tries to deny that the mutiny was orchestrated by the Whites. He admits that the Kronstadt mutineers collaborated with Whites, Monarchists, Capitalists, foreign powers, Mensheviks and SRs but basically claims “that doesn’t matter”. His book is from 1970 when the archives were still closed. For that reason he relies quite heavily on dishonest Menshevik and Anarchist sources which have nothing to support their claims, and often he takes Petrichenko’s words at face value. He also doesn’t understand Marxism and therefore distorts it. Perhaps it was impossible to publish in American academia unless one reached an anti-bolshevik conclusion? Still he deserves credit for his discoveries.]

White Guard Memorandum On Organizing An Uprising In Kronstadt, reprinted in Avrich

Primary source documents printed in “Kronshtadtskaia tragediia 1921 goda, dokumenty v dvukh knigakh” (“Kronstadt Tragedy”):
-Kuzmin Report, 25 March 1921
-Agranov Report, April 1921
-“To All Posts of Kronstadt,” Kronstadt Izvestia
-Ivan Oreshin, Volia Rossii (April-May 1921)
-Kronstadt March 1 Resolution
-Tseidler, Red Cross Activity in Organizing Provisions Aid to Kronstadt, 25 April 1921.
-Kupolov, “Kronstadt and the Russian Counterrevolutionaries in Finland: From the Notes of a Former Member of the PRC”
-Komarov Report, 25 March 1921
-Von Lampe’s Diary entry
-Minutes of Cheka Interrogation of Anatoly Lamanov

Kronstadt 1921: Bolshevism vs. Counterrevolution, Spartacist #6 Spring 2006
[Very good article, which brought many primary source documents to my attention. The article propagates erroneous Trotskyist views but luckily they have practically nothing to do with the topic of Kronstadt and can thus be ignored.]

Documents on British Foreign Policy 1919-1939

Russkaia voennaia emigratsiaa 20-x—40-x godov

Radek, The Kronstadt Uprising, 1921

History of the USSR volume 3
http://ciml.250x.com/archive/ussr/english/history_of_the_usssr_part3.pdf

Stalin, Articles and Speeches, Moscow, 1934, Russ. ed., p. 217, quoted in History of the USSR vol. 3

Hufvudstadsbladet, March 8, quoted in “The Truth about Kronstadt” by Wright

Kronstadt Izvestia, March 7 & 11, quoted in Wright

Sotsialisticheski Vestnik April 5, 1921, quoted in Wright

“Petrograd et Moscou Seraient aux Maine des Insurgés qui ont Formé un Gouvernement Provisoire.”, Matin, March 7, quoted in Wright

“Der Aufstand in Russland.”, Vossische Zeitung, March 10, quoted in Wright

The Mensheviks in the Kronstadt Mutiny,” Krasnaill Letopis’, 1931, No.2

Dernières Nouvelles de Paris, 8th March quoted in Radek

Trotsky, More on the Suppression of Kronstadt

History of the CPSU(B) short course
https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/stalin/works/1939/x01/ch09.htm

Lenin, Once Again On The Trade Unions, The Current Situation and the Mistakes of Trotsky and Buhkarin
https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1921/jan/25.htm

Lenin, The Trade Unions, The Present Situation And Trotsky’s Mistakes
https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1920/dec/30.htm

Lenin, On the Kronstadt revolt
https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1921/mar/15.htm

Lenin, Tenth Congress of the R.C.P.(B.)
https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1921/10thcong/index.htm

Lenin, The All-Russia Congress Of Transport Workers
https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1921/mar/27.htm

Lenin, Third Congress Of The Communist International https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1921/jun/12.htm

Lenin, The Tax in Kind
https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1921/apr/21.htm

Yrjö Sirola as a fighter, teacher and person (1876-18. March 1936) by Elli Stenberg

Source: SKP – taistelujen tiellä
Published in 1945

(Translated by MLT from Finnish)

“Keep your eyes wide open” is a life motto which Yrjö Sirola followed closely in all periods and activities of his life and gave as an instruction to the entire Finnish working class in 1906. This motto is known by everyone who was fortunate to know Yrjö Sirola as a teacher or close colleague.

The history of Yrjö Sirola’s life in all its stages is inseparably tied to the history of the Finnish working class. Also during the times when he has been abroad – 1909-1913 in America and after 1918 in the Soviet Union – he has worked in particular on behalf of the Finnish working class and the whole Finnish nation.

It is natural and easy for the son of a worker to step into the workers’ movement and devote his whole life to it. On the other hand among those coming from the intelligentsia, there are only few who can honestly feel and say “I have no interests besides the interests of the working class”. Yrjö Sirola almost unnaturally modest, selfless and honest fighter in class struggle, earnestly felt that way despite coming from the intelligentsia, being the son of a priest.

Yrjö Sirola joined the workers’ movement on the eve of the 1905 general strike, when the Finnish working class was taking its first independent steps. Before that he had already read socialist literature and been to workers’ meetings, which he felt a passionate sympathy towards. In 1904 he became the editor of the People’s Paper in Tampere. He described his worldview of those times, saying that “it was a jumble of progressive secular bourgeois, henry-georgeist, tolstoyist, theosophical and utopian socialist waverings.”

During the 1905 general strike Yrjö Sirola was already a notable leader of the workers’ movement. With his inspiring speeches, which the older generation still thinks about today, he rallied the working masses behind him. His influence was the greatest during the two revolutionary periods 1905-06 and 1917-1918. He always gave a great importance for the international experience of the proletariat and through them tried to give a direction and purpose for the significant events in the Finnish workers’ movement. The experiences of the Russian Revolutions and the Paris Commune, were always topics of his energetic study and later the experiences of the Finnish working class as well.

Skill, sense of responsibility and hard work, caused Sirola to quickly rise to the most important positions in the workers’ movement. He was elected party secretary in the 1906 party congress in Oulu and to the parliament as a workers’ party representative in 1907. Documents of the parliament testify to his tenacity. Resolutely, he was e.g. in the frontlines of the struggle against tsarism, upholding the marxist view in the question of national struggle for independence. In fighting against the tsarist oppression of Finland he never mistook the Russian people to be the oppressors. On the contrary, he understood that the oppression was targeting them too. He felt the lives of the two nations were closely tied to each other and wanted collaboration in the joint struggle for emancipation. Privately he was in contact with Russian revolutionaries and took part among others, in the conference of the Russian bolsheviks in Tampere in 1905 and in Stockholm in 1906. In these events he was introduced to Lenin, which was mutually very significant. Since that time Sirola took many influences from Lenin.

On the eve of the Finnish revolution, in the autumn of 1917, Sirola was already one of the most principled and unshaking leaders of the workers’ movement. At that time too, he was a member of the parliament and Social-Democrat party leadership. He saw the requirements of the situation more clearly then many others and boldly defended his views against those who still doubted the necessity of revolution. During the revolution he was the minister of foreign affairs of the Finnish People’s Delegation [the red government~MLT], to which job he was suited due to his knowledge of foreign languages. In this position like in all others, he never lost firm contact with the masses, but spoke to the people often and had conversations with them.

After the defeat of the revolution, Yrjö Sirola took part in the serious self-criticism by the working class leaders who lead the revolution, concerning the reasons for its defeat and their old forms of activity. Together with Kuusinen and others of the working class’ finest, he began the arduous work for organizing a communist party in Finland. He was the chairman of the Finnish Communist Party central committee, and was tirelessly and eagerly at the frontlines of all the party’s battles.

Sirola also took part in the founding congress and other congresses of the Comintern and was a member in the Comintern’s control committee. In the Soviet Union he contributed significantly to the field of education. He worked as the People’s Comissar for education in Soviet-Karelia and as the headmaster of the Communist University of the National Minorities of the West in Leningrad oblast.

But Yrjö Sirola didn’t live solely for the working class. He also lived for his nation. In his writings and speeches he often emphasizes the joint action of the class-conscious proletarians, freedom loving peasantry and radical bourgeois. Already after the general strike he saw the necessity of this joint action and set it as the task for working class struggle.

Yrjö Sirola wasn’t only a politician and class-fighter, he was also a writer. His newspaper articles were often prosaic and immersive, still always retaining the appropriate factuality and not lapsing into mere pretty sounding words. In his youth he also wrote poetry and prose about contemporary events for periodicals. It is unlikely that he put together a unified collection, with the exception of “Vapautuksen tiellä” [on the path of liberation~MLT], which contains newspaper writings. Through his translations into Finnish, he has made some of the best works of proletarian poetry known to the Finnish working class.

He performed significant work as a literary critic, doing similar analysis of e.g. Järnefelt as Lenin did on Tolstoy. He has made the Kalevala [Finnish and Karelian national epic~MLT] more well known in Soviet-Karelia through his writings and presentations. There he supported in every possible way artistic literature in Finnish and Karelian languages and devoted a lot of time and energy to it. His personal knowledge of literature was amazingly broad.

Yrjö Sirola has had a great and influential career in teaching. All his work was dear to him, but it sometimes seemed that teaching was the dearest. He admitted it himself, albeit saying it was difficult to say what was closest to his heart.

Already in his youth while researching the events of the Paris Commune his attention was drawn to a statement by one member of the Commune: “Let us learn, let us gain education, it is due to our ignorance that we were defeated”. He never forgot these words. He acquired knowledge for himself, distributed it generously to others and guided the youth in their independent search for knowledge, here too maintaining close connection with everyday life. He considered organizing information to be as important as gathering it.

“It is not enough to know, one must also use: it is not enough to want, one must also do”. Sirola often reminded his students of these words of Goethe, himself being a prime example. Self-education and self-discipline were characteristic for him. He tried to cultivate these things in his students too because “without them, man really cannot do much that is particularly important in life.”

There are not many teachers like Sirola. Even the most difficult things became easy to understand through him. He knew how to motivate in study. He was full of warmth towards his students. Anyone could ask him for advice without delay, and give writings or presentations for him to examine. He was never so busy that he couldn’t advise, evaluate and correct errors. He knew how to give even the hardest criticism without depressing the student but instead inspiring them to try again. He was not only a teacher to his students, but also a comrade and fatherly friend.

As a teacher Sirola became an invaluable asset in raising working class forces. Marxist philosophy of society, dialectical materialism taught by him has given many workers who actively work in the workers’ movement a marxist-leninist clarity of thinking.

Yrjö Sirola also carried out constant scientific research in the area of working class history. He founded the workers’ archive in Helsinki. Under his leadership, an archive of the Finnish workers’ revolution was organized in Leningrad. He strove towards new achievements in all fields of human knowledge. In his work and his aims, he was forever young and tireless.

The inheritance left by Yrjö Sirola is large and valuable. It is immortal. To maintain this inheritance and comrade Sirola’s memory the writers of Soviet-Karelia have began a project for gathering and researching the writings left by Sirola. In the same purpose the Yrjö Sirola Foundation has recently been created in Helsinki, the mission of which is to aid in many ways the education, scientific, artistic and other endeavours of the democratic forces of our country.

There are great people who only live after their death. Yrjö Sirola lived and influenced much during his life, though due to circumstances of state politics he didn’t become as recognized as he deserved even in his homeland. Now both living and the dead step into view, from underground and from the other side of the border.[1] Yrjö Sirola is in the front ranks. His work lives in those he raised and will survive through generations. He is immortal, for “living in the best of the future, is a type of immortality.” (Brandes)[2]



Notes by MLT:

1. This refers to marxism becoming legal in Finland in 1944. This text is from 1945. For the first time, it became possible to talk about the ideas of communists, both living and dead. Communists returned to visibility from underground, or from “the other side of the border” from the Soviet Union.

2. This quote is by the Danish poet Georg Brandes from his poem that was published in Finnish under the title of “Hautakammio” (Tomb, crypt or literally ‘burial chamber’). Unfortunately I have not been able to find out what the original title is.

Soviet critique of the Frankfurt School and “Critical Theory”

[This text is taken from a book called “Filosofian Historia” (History of Philosophy) volume 2 by progress publishers.]

“During the third quarter of the 20th century there emerged an attempt in the philosophical thought of the developed western bourgeois countries, to find new forms for theoretical struggle against marxism. New systems appeared in philosophy which were anti-marxist, but still resembled marxism in their external appearance. A bourgeois philosophical fake-marxism was born, and it has nourished both right and “left” revisionism, because in some of its variations it has even taken a supposedly revolutionary appearance. One of the most influential and typical forms of this trend, which has also been called “neo-marxism”, has been the doctrine of the Frankfurt philosophical-sociological school.

The fake-marxist systems of the Frankfurt school began to take shape in the early 1930s, especially after Marx’s work Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844 was published (1932). The fashionable slogans of bourgeois philosophy “Back to Kant!”, “Back to Hume!” were supplemented with the slogan “Back to the young Marx!”. During the years this slogan has been especially emphasized. The relationship between bourgeois philosophy and revisionism is now altogether different then what it was at the end of the previous century. In the past, revisionists borrowed their ideological program from bourgeois philosophers and provided “in exchange” political economic and scientific socialist theories in distorted revisionist forms. These contemporary revisionists have focused their attention to philosophy proper. Once they began “building a philosophical system”, they began adopting fake-marxist interpretations of professional bourgeois philosophy. Bourgeois “experts” of marxism began delivering near complete revisionist philosophical systems for revisionist politicians. In a prominent position among these systems, are the theoretical systems of the Frankfurt School. They also demonstrate that the time when the bourgeois could simply ignore Marx as a philosopher, has definitively ended. Modern bourgeois ideologists spend a lot of energy trying to transform marxism into something “harmless” and “tolerable” for their class. At the same time, they try to make their doctrines appear different from the reformism that has discredited itself. The peak manifestations of the influence of the Frankfurt School were the anarchistic actions of French and West German university students in May of 1968 and the nearly simultaneous actions by anti-socialist and counter-revolutionary forces in Czechoslovakia (1967-1968).

The school is named after the work place of its founders (Horkheimer, Adorno, Marcuse, Pollock, Fromm etc.). They had founded an Institute for Social Research in the Goethe University Frankfurt am Main. The institute’s paper Journal for Social Research, began publication in 1932 edited by the leader of the Institute, Horkheimer. The activity of the school was fairly progressive in the 1930s. It exposed the inhumanity of the nazi ideology and spread awareness of the philosophical fundamentals of marxism. After the fascists came to power in Germany, and during the second world war, the philosophers and sociologists of the Frankfurt School were in exile, largely in the USA. After the war Adorno and Horkheimer returned to Frankfurt am Main. During the 1960s, the “second generation” of the school appeared: Jürgen Habermas, A. Schmidt, Oskar Negt, Alexander Mitscherlich, Albrecht Wellmer etc. By the mid-1970s many of the original founders of the school had died. However, the bourgeois press made their ideological systems well known. Their primary works were republished and a media spectacle was created around them. The ideologists of imperialism try to use the teachings of the Frankfurt School to mislead public opinion, and to ideologically split the intelligentsia of the socialist countries and convert them to the side of anti-communist propaganda.

The contemporary social-philosophy of the school is anti-communism dressed in the garb of anti-capitalist phrases. Expressed in philosophical terms the doctrines of the Frankfurt School represent a specific kind of subjective idealism and a fake-dialectical method. They particularly emphasize categories like alienation and negation, the exaggeration of which the founders of the school justified by saying there was a need to “philosophize” all the marxist categories. There has appeared the so-called negative dialectics of Adorno and Marcuse. It reflects in a distorted form, the critical attitude towards capitalism that has grown among broad circles of bourgeois society, and the move towards the left of the petit-bourgeois intelligentsia, as well as the strength of the prejudices against really existing socialism in petit-bourgeois consciousness.

Of this doctrine’s theoretical influences should be mentioned the teachings of Kierkegaard, Dilthey and Nietzsche, Lukacs’s early work History and class consciousness as well as a neo-hegelian interpretation of Marx’s Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844. In the “frankfurtian” interpretation of Marx’s Manuscripts took shape a tendency similar to modern philosophical anthropology. According to this anthropology man is above class, alienated labour is identified with hegelian objectification of consciousness and practice becomes “totally” revolutionized. Hegel’s dialectics began to be interpreted as a doctrine of “total negation”. Already in his book Hegel’s Ontology and the Theory of Historicity published in 1933, Herbert Marcuse depicted Hegel’s ontology from the point of view of irrationalist “Lebensphilosophie”. He began his revision of marxist philosophy with the article New foundations of historical materialism. Explanation of newly found manuscripts of Marx.[36]*

[*Original title “Neue Quellen zur Grundlegung des Historischen Materialismus in Die Gesellschaft” later published in english under a less accurate title: “The Foundation of Historical Materialism”.~MLT]

In another book focused on Hegel Reason and Revolution: Hegel and the Rise of Social Theory (1941) Marcuse utilized extensively the hegelian alienation doctrine of Lukacs’s early period, according to which all objectification is alienation, and therefore the latter is eternal. Marcuse imposed this view on Marx. Marcuse also utilized other early ideas of Lukacs: denied that development of nature was objective and law-governed and identified social-being with social-consciousness e.g. by appealing to the “ontological” primacy of practice. Marcuse turned hegelian reason into a symbol of the total negation of everything that exists and declared “common sense” as the methodological foundation of the conformism that according to him even Marx could not overcome. “Neither the Hegelian nor the Marxian idea of Reason have come closer to realization; neither the development of the Spirit nor that of the Revolution took the form envisaged by dialectical theory… Reason is in its very essence contradiction, opposition, negation.” [37] On the foundation of these shady theses, was built a voluntaristic sociological theory, which fostered a corresponding adventurist political action program.

The sociology of the “frankfurtians” has been called critical social theory or critical theory of ideology. Along with Marcuse, the largest contribution to it was given by Horkheimer and Adorno. They began a critique of the most varied aspects of life in bourgeois society. This critique of societal institutions, justice system, morality, art, the role of the individual etc. they generalized into a doctrine, which they declared had risen to the position of analyzing societal processes from above materialism and idealism. This doctrine is evident in Max Horkheimer’s articles Materialism and Metaphysics (1933), Traditional and Critical Theory (1937) as well as the book Dialectic of Enlightenment (1947) co-authored by him and Adorno and somewhat in Marcuse’s book Reason and Revolution, mentioned earlier.

In its main ideas “critical sociological theory” can be traced back to certain elements of Weber’s rationalization theory. They interpreted rationalization as the ever intensifying and all-encompassing mission of common sense, throughout all ages. As the typical features of this rationality they described the tendency towards formalistic manipulation, combination technique and conformism towards any social order. Inhuman “rationalization” rises to its culmination in “united industrial society”, by which the frankfurtians mean both modern capitalism and really existing socialism. Nowadays technocrats and right-opportunists cling to the concept of “united industrial society” like a utopia. Frankfurtians and ultra-leftists who have adopted their theories on the other hand focus their criticism against it. Frankfurtians claim that the scientific-technological rationalization which aimed at subjugating forces of nature has become an instrument “which hinders societal progress”.

“Sociologist of ontology” Karl Mannheim considered science and scientific thinking the opposite of ideology, which he considered to be societal false consciousness. Horkheimer and Adorno declared scientific thinking and its results to be a type of ideology of oppression. They strongly denied marxism to be scientific ideology, but in order to criticize marxism they distorted the conclusions of marxism that consciousness is determined socially and ideology is a reflection of societal reality. The founders of critical social theory tried to hide the fundamental antagonism between capitalism and socialism by describing both social systems as types of instrumantalized society i.e. of objectified reason.

The book by Horkheimer and Adorno The Dialectic of Enlightenment, seems in many ways like a critique of modern bourgeois society. However, its authors were aiming further then that. Their founding thesis was that “practical tendency toward selfdestruction has been inherent in rationality from the first”. [38] They ignored the dialectic class struggle and declared to an absolute, man’s dependence on some abstract “mastery”. Based on this thesis of dependence they criticized all human culture and social progress, slandered socialism. These topics receive emphasis in Marcuse’s texts Eros and Civilization: A Philosophical Inquiry into Freud (1955) and One-Dimensional Man: Studies in the Ideology of Advanced Industrial Society (1964).

In these texts Marcuse’s attempt to combine marxism with freudism became evident. His theory of culture and art is influenced by freudian ideology: every creative activity, love and eros which is common to both of them, are manifestations of man’s certain kind of pre-social essence. The foundation of civilization is deemed to be the drive to satisfy social instincts, but the conformism of public society has distorted these instincts and made man unhappy, as well as turned art into leveling and oppresive “mass culture”. However, the main point of critical social theory is not the sweeping criticism of modern culture, but the denial of the proletariat’s revolutionary mission and the possibilities of the revolution.

Marcuse declared “industrial society” one-dimensional in that way also, that all classes belonging to it understand their “existence” as fundamentally the same, so none of those classes, especially the proletariat, are revolutionary even potentially. Against the true dialectics of the modern era, Marcuse claimed that the working class has been “integrated” into capitalism firmly and for good. In “industrial society” (i.e. in both capitalist and socialist countries) revolution is possible only for those social forces which are outside the class relations of those societies: elements who have lost their class identity, oppressed national minorities and various pariahs and outsiders. Incitement for them would come from the intelligentsia and university students. The recipe proposed by Marcuse requires the complete dismantling of all social relations and adopting sensually and emotionally “excellent lifestyle” of the sexually unrestricted “children of nature”. In An Essay on Liberation (1969) Marcuse put his hopes in beggars and hippies, in The End of Utopia (1967) he turned towards the outsiders, encouraging them to boldly demand the “impossible”. On the other hand Marcuse’s ideas encouraged struggle against really existing socialism and they were used extensively by revisionists in certain socialist countries at the end of the 1960s and by anarchistic elements of the “new left” in Western countries, that is by anti-communists of various shades.

The philosophical basis of said theories is “negative dialectics”, in which passing to the solution of a dialectical contradiction (to a dialectical synthesis) appears completely backwards. Lecturing in Prague at the 6. hegelian conference (1966) on The Concept of Negation in the Dialectic Marcuse said that “materialist dialectics remains in the shackles of idealist reason, according to which the future is always derived from the existing… the existing antagonistic totality is negated in dynamic of history from the outside…”[38] According to Marcuse’s totally subjective and metaphysical formula, contradictions in society can be overcome only by those forces to whom there is nothing of value in that which exists, and who are ready to destroy and dismantle absolutely everything, thus creating room for anarchistic unruliness.

Theodor Adorno (1903-1969) wrote an extensive text Negative Dialectics (1966) where he tried to prove that real dialectics “must turn against itself” without leaving anything behind [40]. The hegelian and marxist interpretations of negation are according to him not dialectical enough, i.e. they are not fully negative. Adorno was looking for total negation. That kind of negation doesn’t have anything in common with the law of negation of the negation. According to this law, negation means a positive and constructive “overthrow”, which Adorno vehemently rejects. He claims that “overthrowing” supposedly replaces “negation” with a metaphysical and conformist “sameness”.

Adorno also rejects the system structure of philosophy and sees in philosophy only a primal critical “tidal wave” and not science. He rejects thinking in concepts and suggests that thinking happens through scattered shapes or “models”. In all parts of his methodology Adorno refers pedantically to the young Marx and tries to prove above all that, Marx supposedly opposed “all ‘positivity’ and supported total ‘negation’”. In reality marxist philosophy unites organically the theses about the universality of negation, to the notion that precisely negation aids “the uninterrupted process of becoming and of passing away, of endless ascendancy from the lower to the higher.”[41]. Lenin firmly opposed interpreting dialectical negation as nihilistic, supercilious and skeptical negation [42].

Adorno called his nihilistic fake-dialectics “logic of disintegration (des Verfalls)”. Indeed, together with the similar trend of existentialism, it represents the extreme disintegration of modern bourgeois thought. Similarly to the existentialists, Adorno interpreted the objective world as “harmful” and “a hindrance” for the separation of man’s consciousness from its alienated product. According to Adorno an object is only a “terminological mask” [43]. After denying universal antagonism in philosophy Adorno and his brothers in arms demanded the total “mutual neutralization” of subject and object. Voluntaristically interpreted practice as the “melding together” of subject and object, they put forward as the alternative to matter[44] and the principle of “constructing” experiences as an alternative to the theory of reflection.**

[**In marxist philosophy, consciousness is understood as a reflection of the objective material reality in one’s brain.~MLT]

According to the “negative dialecticians” the inevitable destruction of capitalism means in principle the destruction of all of humanity. The negative dialectics of Adorno has become a tool of the latest marxologists in their struggle against communism. Let us note that according to Adorno the deep meaning of the “Oświęcim model” is that when people (people as such!***) are capable of causing suffering for each other, they are not capable of building communism.

[***Not as members of any particular class or acting on behalf of any particular class, but merely as “people generally”. It is a deeply anti-marxist point of view to look at people in that way.~MLT]

Adorno ends his book by a proclamation of bleak hopelessness: the result of victory of alienation is “always worse then that which was overcome”, i.e. when self-alienation and “desperation are the final historically and socially determined ideology”[45].

Already in 1930 in his article On the Problem of the Dialectic Marcuse condemned the neo-hegelian “tragic dialectic” of Arthur Liebert and Siegfried Mark for not being tragic enough. Their philosophy supposedly preserved contradictions in a state of tension instead of recognizing them as always moving towards disaster [46]. Sense of doom and catastrophe received a philosophical form in Adorno’s negative dialectics.

Another form of the social-philosophy of the Frankfurt School is the work of American psychoanalyst Erich Fromm. In his books Escape from Freedom (1941), The Sane Society (1940), Marx’s Concept of Man (1963) etc. he accepts the basic tenets of critical social theory and combines them more then Marcuse to neo-freudism. He sharply criticizes modern bourgeois civilization and describes people living in it as altogether “sick creatures”. Fromm attempts to explain the processes of class struggle through freudian pansexualism. He describes as his mission, the “uniting” of freudism and marxism.

The primary focus of Jürgen Habermas (born 1929) representative of the second generation of the Frankfurt School are the effects of the scientific-technological revolution on social relations and human life. Of his books Theory and Practice (1963) and Knowledge and Human Interests (1968) should be mentioned. Basing himself on the thought of Weber and American sociologist Talcott Parsons, Habermas began interpreting from a subjectivist point of view the categories of historical materialism, replacing them with psychological categories of “interest” and “subjective interaction”. As the positive motor of his program he put forward the hope that capitalism could become self-regulating. Thus he moved from the fake-leftist arguments of the frankfurtians, to the typical positions of bourgeois reformists. In the 1960s in West Germany there was a debate which received a lot of attention, between “dialecticians” and “humanists” (i.e. representatives of the Frankfurt School) on the one hand, and supporters of “scientism” and “critical rationalists” (positivists and supporters of Popper) on the other. During the course of the debate the differences between the two sides grew smaller and smaller, and Habermas who participated in the debate soon became a typical ecclectic-reformist.

Despite the efforts of the bourgeois press the teachings of the Frankfurt School arrived in the 1970s to a deep crisis. Its second generation was ideologically closest to the social-democratic party. After losing its relevance in bourgeois philosophy proper, where their teachings were challenged by structuralism, postivism and religious philosophical trends as well as phenomenology and hermeneutics, the ideas of the Frankfurt School still received new supporters. They were mainly taken up by revisionists who were drawn to anthropologism and petit-bourgeois ideologists looking for a “third road” in politics. These ideas remain suitable tools of ideological sabotage aimed against socialist countries.



——————–

[Note on the translation: The text is translated from Finnish by myself. Quotes by Horkheimer, Adorno and Marcuse are taken directly from English translations of their work, except the quote from ‘The Concept of Negation in the Dialectic’ by Marcuse, which I couldn’t find and therefore had to translate myself.]



Footnotes

36. Cf. Die Gesellschaft, 8/1932

37. H. Marcuse, Hegel Reason and Revolution: Hegel and the Rise of Social Theory, 2. edition, New York 1954, pp. 433-434.

38. M. Horkheimer and Th. W. Adorno. Dialektik der Aufklärung. Philosophische Fragmente, Frankfurt am Main 1969, s. 7

39. H. Marcuse. Ideen zu einer kritischen Theorie der Gesellschaft, Frankfurt am Main 1969, s. 186-189

40. Th. W. Adorno, Negative Dialektik, Frankfurt am Main 1966, s. 395.

41. Marx-Engels, Selected works (6 volumes), volume 6, p. 401, Finnish edition [Engels, Ludwig Feuerbach and the End of Classical German Philosophy~MLT].

42. Cf. V. I. Lenin, Works, Volume 38, p. 185, Finnish edition.

43. Adorno, Mts. 191

44. “Not abstract matter but the concreteness of societal practice (?) is the real focus of the materialist theory” (A. Schmidt, Der Naturbegriff in der Lehre von Marx, Frankfurt am Main 1962, s. 30)

45. Adorno, Mts. 371, 364.

46. Cf. Die Gesellschaft, Berlin, 1/1930, s. 15-18




The “Judeo-Bolshevism” conspiracy theory debunked

Nazism believes that there is a secret conspiracy of jews aiming for world domination. They also believe that communism is part of this jewish conspiracy. What are the origins and basis of this idea?

Origins of the Judeo-Bolshevik Conspiracy Theory

Nazism did not invent this anti-semitic ideology, in reality Nazism has copied this idea from previous belief systems.


The Russian hardline monarchist reactionary group “the Black Hundreds” were early proponents of the theory of a Jewish global conspiracy. The Black Hundreds were extremely anti-semitic and in 1903 they published a book titled The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a fabricated document supposedly by the jews detailing their plan for world domination.

Anti-semitism of this type was more rampant in Russia then in most countries and “pogroms”, the rounding up and killing of jews and other minorities such as armenians, tatars etc. were common in Russia in those times.

After the Russian revolution of 1917 many czarists and Black Hundreds began emigrating from Russia to the United States and Germany. In the USA they formed a political organization known as the Union of Czarist Army and Navy Officers. In 1919 the Protocols of the Elders of Zion was translated into English.

A well known reactionary and supported of Black Hundred ideology was Alfred Rosenberg, the son of rich landowner living in Estonia in the Russian Empire. After the Russian revolution, Rosenberg who considered himself ethnically German, emigrated to Germany together with many other czarist emigres. There he helped to disseminate the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and the anti-semitic czarist ideology in Germany. Up to 400,000 White Guard Russians moved to Germany.

Of course, Rosenberg would later become the leading early ideologist of the Nazi Party.

“In June 1921, a group of former Czarist officers, industrialists and aristocrats called an International Anti-Soviet Conference at the Reichenhalle in Bavaria. The conference, which was attended by representatives from anti-Soviet organizations throughout Europe, drew up plans for a world-wide campaign of agitation against Soviet Russia.

A “Supreme Monarchist Council” was elected by the Conference. Its function was to work for “the restoration of the monarchy, headed by the lawful sovereign of the Romanov house, in accordance with the fundamental laws of the Russian Empire.”

The infant National Socialist Party of Germany sent a delegate to the Conference. His name was Alfred Rosenberg.”
(Kahn & Sayers, Great Conspiracy)

The anti-semitic, conspiratorial views of the Nazis and the contemporary neo-nazi movement thus largely originated from monarchist reactionary Russians.

A wealthy industrial capitalist, Arnold Rechberg met with Rosenberg and took a liking to him. Rechberg introduced Rosenberg to another one of his proteges: an austrian police informant named Adolf Hitler. The capitalist Rechberg was already providing funds for Hitler’s brown shirt organization that attacked striking workers and labour unions.

“Rechberg and his wealthy friends purchased an obscure newspaper, the Völkischer Beobachter, and turned it over to the Nazi movement. The publication became the official organ of the Nazi Party. As its editor, Hitler appointed Alfred Rosenberg.” (Ibid.)

In the 1920s half a million copies of the fabricated Protocols of the Elders of Zion were published by the wealthy American capitalist Henry Ford who helped to spread anti-semite ideology in the USA. Ford also supplied millions of dollars of funds to the German Nazi Party.

The ideology of the Nazis, as well as their funding and support, came from the monarchists and capitalists, i.e. the rich elite.


The Russian Civil War

During the Russian civil war the White Guard reactionaries, czarists and capitalists decided to incorporate their previous idea of a jewish conspiracy to the fight against communism. Since the Whites were fighting a war against the communists, in Russia, a country with widespread anti-semitism that was a remnant of czarism, the White Guards decided it would be very useful to use anti-semitism as a weapon in the civil war against the Communists. They attacked the Communists as puppets of the jews.

In 1918-1920 more then a dozen capitalist countries sent troops to help the White Guard russians in the civil war. The United States, Japan, France, Great Britain, Canada and others sent hundreds of thousands of troops to aid the capitalist White Guards.

The Capitalist media in the West published slanderous lies against the Russian Communists. They claimed that the Bolsheviks wanted to abolish the family, abolish marriage and nationalize women, that the Bolsheviks were anarchists and jews. These ridiculous claims were presented by mainstream capitalist media outlets and capitalist politicians of western countries. When it comes to the anti-semitic claims, the Nazis directly copied this from the capitalist media
and the Russian reactionaries.

This is what the capitalist press stated in the Western countries, in Britain:

“This movement among the Jews is not new. From the days of Spartacus-Weishaupth [Founder of illuminati] to those of Karl Marx… this worldwide conspiracy for the overthrow of civilisation… has been the mainspring of every subversive movement during the 19th century.”
(Illustrated Sunday Herald, February 1920)

And in America:

“[T]he three great parties of Russia are led by Jews… Bolshevism had been planned years ago by Jews” (The Dearborn Independent, 1920)


Notice that both of those writings are from as early as 1920, same time as the creation of the Nazi party by the capitalists.


Anti-semitism was widespread in Europe and Russia, increased partly by jewish immigration in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The term “jewish bolshevism” was first invented by a White Guard publication of the same name in 1917. Soon it was spread to capitalist media by white emigres and this belief was picked up by the Nazi party which was founded soon after.

Most of these blatantly false claims have since been abandoned even by the capitalist propagandists themselves. The Protocols were soon proven to be a hoax and a forgery. However the jewish conspiracy idea still remains among neo-nazis. They still cling to this capitalist invention.

Neo-Nazis believe that the world is ruled by the jews, and that the Nazis are the only ones who know the truth. They believe that the communists and capitalists alike are all servants of the jews. Ironically, the myth of the jewish conspiracy was itself created by the capitalists and utilized against communism. The Nazis themselves are acting as uniwitting tools of capitalism, but in this case the capitalists have moved on, and left the jew conspiracy behind.

Hitler claimed that communism was a jewish ideology. He claimed to be a socialist, but in reality he was defending the private property rights of his capitalist backers. It is no coincidence that Hitler attacked all real socialists as jews. When the Western imperialists turned against him he also attacked them as jews. “Wallstreet jewish bankers”. But this was simply an opportunist lie. The capitalists, including Western capitalists and bankers like Henry Ford were exactly the ones who created Hitler, who funded his party and who created the propaganda that Hitler copied and disseminated.


The myth of Jewish Bolshevism

Now let us examine the claims of modern neo-nazism. A typical claim they make is that the Russian Bolshevik party was allegedly a jewish puppet and filled with Jews.

Robert Wilton was a British journalist reporting for several Western newspapers as their Russian correspondent during the Russian Civil War. Wilton had served with the Russian army during the First World War and was a strong supporter of the Russian White Army sharing their ideological views including anti-semitism. Wilton had also supported the failed military coup by the White General Kornilov. Wilton’s writings are another significant part of the modern neo-nazi mythology surrounding the Judeo-Bolshevism Conspiracy Theory. He is possibly the most cited source for the erroneous claim that the Bolshevik Party and Government were controlled by Jews and mostly consisted of Jews.

He wrote in 1919: “Bolshevism is not Russian – it is essentially non-national, its leaders being almost entirely the race that lost its country and its nationhood long ago” (Wilton, Russia’s Agony)

In 1921 Wilton put forward the following figures, which have been widely cited by neo-nazis. I quote from a widely circulated neo-nazi article “The Jewish Role in the Bolshevik Revolution and Russia’s Early Soviet Regime”:

“The 62 members of the [Central] Committee were composed of five Russians… and 41 Jews.

“The Extraordinary Commission [Cheka or Vecheka] of Moscow was composed of 36 members… two Russians, eight Latvians, and 23 Jews.

“The Council of the People’s Commissars numbered… three Russians, and 17 Jews.”


How accurate are these numbers? The answer is: not accurate at all. In fact it seems difficult to find any basis for them. The numbers are almost entirely fabricated.

I’m not going to go through all of the false information put forth by Wilton, but I will give you an idea of just how inaccurate his findings are:

Wilton claimed that out of 22 People’s Comissars three were Russians and 17 Jews. In reality the only jewish Comissar was Trotsky.

Wilton includes a number of fabricated names in his list of supposed people’s comissars, he removed people who were Russians and included people who Jewish such as Zinoviev even if they were not actually People’s Comissars at all.

The People’s Comissars in 1917:

Chairman: V. I. Lenin (1/4 Russian, Tatar, German, Jewish)
Commissar of Agriculture: V. P. Milyutin (Russian)
Commissars of Army and Navy: V. A. Ovseyenko, N. V. Krylenko, P. V. Dybenko (Russians, Ovseyenko was ethnic ukranian)
Commissar of Commerce and Industry: V. P. Nogin (Russian)
Commissar of Education: A. V. Lunacharsky (Ukranian)
Commissar of Food: I. A. Teodorovich (Polish, not jewish)
Commissar of Foreign Affairs: L. D. Trotsky (jewish)
Commissar of Interior: A. I. Rykov (Russian)
Commissar of Justice: G. I. Oppokov (Russian)
Commissar of Labour: A. G. Shlyapnikov (Russian)
Commissar of Nationality Affairs: I. V. Stalin (Georgian)
Commissar of Post and Telegraphs: N. P. Avilov (Russian)
Commissar of Treasury: I. I. Skvortsov-Stepanov (Russian)

Wilton claimed that the Soviet government consisted of three Russians and nine jews.

Bronstein (Trotsky), Apfelbaum (Zinoviev), Lurie (Larine), Uritsky, Volodarski, Rosenfeld (Kamenev), Smidovich, Sverdlov (Yankel), and Nakhamkes (Steklov).The three Russians were: Ulyanov (Lenin), Krylenko, and Lunacharsky.”

In reality Lurie, Nakhamkes, Smidovitch, and Volodarski weren’t even in the Central Executive Committee. Wilton claims the government was 12 people, 9 of whom were jews. In reality the government was 15 people and included 4 jews.


Members of the Government (Central Execute Committee):
Artem F. A., Buharin N. I. (Russian), Vladimirskij M. F. (Russian), Dzerzhinskij F. E. (Pole), Zinovjev G. E. (Jew), Krestinskij N. N. (Ukrainian), Lashevich M. M., Lenin V. I. (Russian*), Sverdlov Ja. M. (Jew), Smilga I. T., Sokol’nikov G. Ja. (Jew), Stalin I. V. (Georgian), Stasova E. D. (Russian), Trotskij L. D. (Jew), Shmidt V. V. (German)

*Lenin was Russian but ethnically mixed

Furthermore Wilton claims that:

“According to data furnished by the Soviet press, out of 556 important functionaries of the Bolshevik state… in 1918-1919 there were: 17 Russians… 457 Jews.”


In reality, members of the Bolshevik apparatus were more then 70% Russian. It is true that jews were somewhat over-represented in the Bolshevik party, making up around 5% of the party. However Andre Gerrits points out in his article “The Myth of Jewish Communism” that:

“Jews were not the only ethnic minority over-represented in European Communist parties between the two world wars. So too were Georgians, Armenians and Latvians.”

The reasons for this could be that those ethnic minorities were particularly oppressed and more radicalized. The socialist parties which functioned illegally, tended to have large amounts of intellectuals who were in political exile. This could be one reason why some minorities were somewhat over-represented.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, the Judeo-Bolshevik conspiracy theory was something created long ago by the rich elites, monarchists and capitalists. Nazis did not invent these ideas, they merely inherited them from the monarchists or received them from the western capitalist press. The Nazis were acting as puppets of the capitalist elite, they got their ideology as well as their funding from them.

These conspiracy theories are crucial to modern day neo-Nazis, but based on nothing. Even a cursory inspection of the most popular and widely cited Nazi sources show them to be inaccurate. There are many movements of people believing in things based on very little evidence or on faith alone, so we shouldn’t be surprised that Nazis would do this.

Some people are misinformed, some are wilfully delusional. We can give people information, but if they are essentially following an entirely faith-based worldview then its probably a waste of time.


Sources and further reading:

The Myth of Jewish Communism
https://www.eurekastreet.com.au/article.aspx?aeid=19150

http://holocaust.skeptik.net/misc/party.htm

http://www.skepticforum.com/viewtopic.php?p=522197#p522197


A Judeo-Bolshevik Debacle
http://semiticcontroversies.blogspot.com/2008/10/judeo-bolshevik-debacle.html

The Great Conspiracy: The Secret War Against Soviet Russia
https://archive.org/details/in.ernet.dli.2015.58240

A century of lies about Russia
https://www.workers.org/2016/12/20/a-century-of-lies-about-russia/

On the protocols of the Elders of Zion
https://www.facinghistory.org/weimar-republic-fragility-democracy/society/protocols-elders-zion-1927-society-antisemitism

O. W. Kuusinen on Tito’s opportunism

Part of a larger article by O. W. Kuusinen titled “Oletteko Neuvostoliiton puolella vai sitä vastaan?” [“Are you on the Soviet side or against it?”] published in 1948. Translated by ML-theory:

“At present, in the countries of People’s Democracy, only a few desperate and bankrupt agents of foreign imperialism make hateful remarks against the Soviet Union. All the parties, groups and leaders who seriously base their calculations on popular support defend cooperation and friendship with the Soviet Union. This is an extremely important fact which, in most cases, reflects a sincere political endeavor. And in the countries of People’s Democracy there is no reason, except in the case of Yugoslavia, to doubt the sincerity of friendly statements from responsible political leaders towards the Soviet Union.

In Yugoslavia, as was stated in the June meeting of the Information Bureau of Communist Parties, the leadership of the Communist Party has abandoned the party’s international traditions and has gone on the path of nationalism.

The leaders of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia have departed from the Marxist-Leninist path to a profoundly opportunistic line under the conditions of People’s Democracy. We must not forget that People’s Democracy is a transition step from the bourgeois state to the socialist state, from capitalism to socialism. No country can stay there for an extended period of time without moving forward or backward. If it does not follow the path to socialism, then development will go backwards, to capitalism. But the evolution to socialism does not go by itself, spontaneously. Whether or not the country will really move forward to socialism depends on the continued development of the proletariat’s class struggle and the right direction of state policy under the determined leadership of the Communist Party.

The Yugoslav leaders, on the other hand, focused on suppressing the class struggle. They began to spread the notion that class contradictions in Yugoslavia were no longer serious. Especially in rural areas, they did not take into account the different class strata and the vitality of the deep roots of capitalism in the private peasant economy. Like the old ideologues of “Christian Socialism,” they apparently believed that the roots of capitalism could easily be eradicated if the “whole peasantry”, with the big exploiter landowners at the head, were called for that purpose, and a decree was made to that effect. Lenin’s teaching regarding proletarian hegemony turned out to be a burden for the Communist Party of Yugoslavia, which they quietly freed themselves of.

From the standpoint of suppressing the class struggle, they also led to a mediation tactic within the Yugoslav Popular Front, which includes not only workers and working peasants, but also large-scale, merchants, small manufacturers and bourgeois intelligentsia, and various political groups, including some bourgeois parties. In this varied company, leaders try to avoid, at any cost, the causes of disagreement: to prevent the development of the workers’ class struggle, because some of the members of a large alliance opposed it; to give up the Communist Party’s leading role, even to hide its face, so that none of the non-Communist participants in the alliance could feel offended; to restrict and reduce cooperation with the Soviet Union, because one or the other of the bourgeois participants of the alliance are reluctant to cooperate with it. . .

When the leaders of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia let loose such a current, a dangerous shift emerged in the political line: instead of leading the cause of the workers by basing themselves in the majority of the Popular Front, the alliance of the working class with the poor and the middle peasantry, they considered it better to orient themselves towards the politically more backward petit-bourgeois elements of the Popular Front. In other words, a bloc policy based on bourgeois nationalism was born.

He who has surrendered to bourgeois nationalism, of course, he is bothered by the voluntary cooperation of his country with a socialist state, no matter how much the country benefits from such cooperation. Of course, such a person can, when the opportunity arises, make public statements about the desirability of the closest ties between Soviet citizens and citizens of his own country, but in practice he strives to minimize those ties. Thus, he is also persuaded by imperialist states, who, for their own purposes, are constantly intimidating small sovereign nations with blackmailing threats. In an effort to relieve this pressure through an opportunistic maneuver, the petty bourgeois nationalist makes concessions to imperialist governments to win their favor. The first concession imperialists demand from the leaders of People’s Democracy is that they must not behave better towards the Soviet Union than they do towards the bourgeois states.

The leaders of Yugoslavia began to act in accordance with that. They adopted a policy that was unfriendly to the Soviet Union: the defamation of Soviet military experts and the humiliation of the Soviet army, a special system of oversight and shadowing of Soviet civilian experts and several Soviet officials in Yugoslavia. In public, Yugoslav leaders make declarations of their special friendship with the Soviet Union, while at the same time their real attitude towards the Soviet state, which defends the independence and security of the People’s Democracy, is the same as towards the imperialist states that threaten their independence and security.

This anti-Soviet attitude of the Tito group represents a very great concession to the imperialist states. And when one remembers the old proverb that he who gives the devil his little finger will lose his whole hand, it is difficult to assess the dangerous consequences that Yugoslavia faces because of its leaders’ current policies. But it is also difficult to assume that such a detrimental policy could continue for a long time without arousing serious opposition from the Communist Party of Yugoslavia and the workers.

After all, Yugoslav workers know from their own experience that fraternal help from the Soviet people is indispensable and essential for their well-being, for freedom, democracy and socialism, for the rapid and diversified development of their nation’s economy, culture and defense. Therefore, it is not difficult for them, the working masses, to understand that any measure that weakens or restricts cooperation with the Soviet Union, regardless of its more or less right-wing justification, is in fact aimed at undermining the very foundations of People’s Democracy. To whom it would not be clear that only by belonging to a united democratic anti-imperialist camp led by the mighty land of socialism, the democracies can secure their independence and security, their entire future, against the pressures and aspirations of the imperialists.

Thus, for those who work in these countries, solidarity with the Soviet Union is not a matter of debate but a deep conviction. As a result, every anti-Soviet politician is doomed to failure when workers – if not today, tomorrow – ask him: – Are you on the Soviet side or against it? It is inconceivable that the working masses who hold loyalty to friendship with the Soviet people as a rule of life would be content with a response that would only contain empty words contrary to fact.” ~O. W. Kuusinen

 

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

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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

Brief History of the October Revolution

The October Revolution is an extremely important event in world history. It was the first successful workers revolution. But how did it all happen? This is a brief overview of the complicated history of the October Revolution.

The Russian Empire was a totalitarian police state ruled by an absolute monarchy. The country was very backward economically and culturally. Average life expectancy in Russia was about 35 years. Only about 20% of the population knew how to read. The workers and peasants lived horrible lives, without the 8 hour working day, minimum wage laws or basic work safety regulations. There were many large strikes and protests but it was not uncommon that the police would shoot at the demonstrations and kill the strikers.

Despite how big the country was, there was a constant shortage of farm land and also constant famine. This is because most land belonged to the wealthy landlords and rich peasants. Because of technological backwardness, only the softest and most fertile soil could be used, this severely limited the amount of available farm land.
In 1898 the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party is created. Among its founders are people like Vladimir Lenin and Julius Martov. This was a marxist party, that wanted to overthrow the monarchy and bring about socialism. However during the course of the struggle there is a lot of disagreement about when this goal is to be implemented and how. In 1903 there emerges a split in the party: two factions emerge: the Mensheviks led by Martov and the Bolsheviks led by Lenin.

During the years, although Lenin and many others first anticipated the two groups could merge again, the split ends up worsening and the two factions become separate parties: Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party (Mensheviks) and Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party (Bolsheviks).

The main differences between the groups were the following:

1. The Bolsheviks wanted an organizationally united party of serious revolutionaries while the Mensheviks wanted a more loose reformist type party.

2. Both parties agreed that the next course of action was to overthrow the monarchy and carry out the so-called “bourgeois-democratic revolution”. This would make Russia a capitalist parliamentary democracy. However the Mensheviks argued that the class to lead the revolution was the bourgeoisie, the capitalist class. The bourgeois class served this function in the French Revolution. The Bolsheviks disagreed, they thought the capitalists couldn’t be trusted to carry out the democratic revolution, they were weaker then in France, they allied with the monarchy and feared the workers and peasants. In fact, the Bolshevik leader Lenin argued that the Russian proletariat was much stronger and more developed then the French proletariat of the late 1700s and therefore should lead the democratic revolution, and not merely support it.

3. Lastly, the Mensheviks didn’t think Russia was ready for Socialism, in their opinion the workers could never take power in Russia until after a long time of capitalist and parliamentary development. Even though the debate about workers revolution and socialism would only come about fully later, this attitude relates to the Menshevik position that the workers shouldn’t lead the democratic revolution, but only support the capitalist class against the monarchy.

In 1905 there is an attempt at the democratic revolution. There are massive protests all over the country, mutinies in the army and the people organize public meetings called “soviets” or councils, which would get together and discuss what to do. The revolution eventually fails. It won some democratic liberties from the Tsar, but those liberties would be constantly under attack by the monarchy afterwards. This revolution is seen as a dress-rehearsal for the later revolution.

In 1914 World War 1 begins, and launches Russia into chaos. The economy is ruined by the war, there is a shortage of food and large amounts of the population are drafted to fight in the war. The war is seen by many people, especially the socialist, as an unjust imperialist conquest, where millions of poor and working class people from different countries had to die for the profits and wealth of the capitalist and monarchist governments of their countries.

The attitude towards the war ends up splitting the international socialist movement. The so-called “2nd international working men’s association”. Many parties initially opposed the war, but then chose to support their own government in it, to protect their country from the other imperialist powers. Lenin, Rosa Luxemburg and other revolutionaries saw this as treachery. Surely, if everyone only supports their own imperialist government in an imperialist war, it doesn’t do anything to stop the war. They called for “turning the imperialist war to a class war”, friendship between the workers of the various countries, and unity against the capitalist governments of all warring countries. This led to the splitting of the international.

In February 1917 the Russian monarchy is overthrown. This leads to the creation of the Russian Provisional Government, consisting of the capitalist Cadet party, the Socialist-Revolutionary party or SR and the Mensheviks.

The Bolsheviks initially gave “conditional support” for the Provisional Government, meaning they supported it to the degree that it carried out the democratic reforms and other policies demanded by the population. However it soon became very evident the Provisional Government was a failure.

The Provisional government refused to carry out land-reform. It was necessary to prevent famine and reduce the land shortage, but it would have meant going against the power of the landlords.

The Provisional government also refused to impose stricter regulations on trading and the economy. This would have been necessary to prevent economic disaster, but it would have meant going against the capitalists who greatly profited from the war and the chaos.

Lastly, the Provisional government supported the war. They advocated a “war to a finish”, meaning until they won. It became evident that Russia was losing the war, however the Provisional government was still committed to fulfill the treaties and agreements with their allies in World War 1.

Clearly, supposed democratic government, with a quite a few self-proclaimed socialists in it should act in this way. The Bolsheviks were quick to point out that the Provisional government acts exactly like the Tsarist government, which also sided with the landlords, capitalists and started the imperialist war. The Provisional government was continuing Tsarist policy.

In April 1917, Vladimir Lenin returns to Russia from exile and puts forward his “april theses”, political proposals which call for the overthrow of the Provisional government.

The Bolsheviks put forward their slogans:

“Down with the provisional government”

“Down with the capitalist ministers”

“Factories for the workers, land to the peasants, end to the imperialist war,”

“Peace, Bread & Land”


In June the capital city, Petrograd (now called St. Petersburg) has municipal elections. Bolsheviks achieve a massive victory, growing from essentially nothing to one of the biggest parties. The so-called “defencist bloc” still gets the majority. This bloc consisted of the SR-party and mensheviks. Defencism, meant that they supported the war effort. Biggest loser of the election was the Cadet party, which achieved only 15% of the vote and lost its power as the biggest party.


On July 1
, Russia launches an offensive on the front, this is known as the “kerensky offensive” or the “July offensive.” The war was going badly and casualties were mounting for Russia, the blood-thirstyness of the imperialists and the Provisional government were very evident.

On July 3-4, there is a massive demonstration in Petrograd, of hundreds of thousands of people. Among the demonstrators are armed soldiers who have come from the front to demand change and revolution. The Bolsheviks urge caution and say that the demonstration should be peaceful and organized. They oppose bringing weapons to the demonstration and say that they are not yet strong enough for a revolution. The workers and soldiers decide to bring weapons despite the advice of the Bolsheviks but the Bolsheviks still take part in the demonstrations to lend support to the workers.

The workers and soldiers carry Bolshevik slogans “end the war”, “peace, bread and land”. There is a government crack down against the demonstrators. Machine guns shoot in the crowd, leaving countless dead. The Bolsheviks are now seen as a serious threat by the government. A warrant is issued for Lenin’s arrest, he is forced into hiding. Bolshevik newspaper Pravda is banned, their printing plant and party offices are destroyed. This period of reppression is known as the “July Days”. The Provisional government restores the death penalty on the front, against soldiers who disobey orders.

The Bolsheviks lose a lot of their forces, and many of their important resources. They begin publishing their newspapers under new names to avoid censorship. Despite all their difficulties the workers now support them more then ever, the Provisional government is exposed as a supporter of the capitalist elite and the imperialists. The Provisional government starts forming stronger ties with the old capitalist party, the Cadets to make up for the support they’ve lost from the workers.

In August, there is an attempted coup against the Provisional government, called the “Kornilov Affair”. Kornilov was a Whige Guard general in the Russian army, who wanted to institute military dictatorship and strong rule of law, to stop the chaos in Russia. In other words, complete counter-revolution, end to the demonstrations, end to democracy, end to the working class movement.

The railway workers strike and don’t transport his troops, and the workers and soldiers of Petrograd form armed Red Guard units and take up the defense of Petrograd against Kornilov. Kornilov’s coup ends in failure.
After the overthrow of the monarchy formation of soviets had begun again in all large cities, but for the time being their leadership would be predominantly menshevik.

In September the Bolsheviks gain the majority in the Petrograd Soviet and soon after in the soviets of Moscow and other large cities. The Soviets already carry out many important functions in the cities as the Russian government is incapable of doing so. The Soviets even organized the defense of Petrograd. As the economy is in ruins and the war effort is failing more people turn towards the Soviets.

The 6th Bolshevik party congress had agreed that they should carry out an armed revolution. In October the Petrograd Soviet creates a Military Revolutionary Committee. These special bodies are formed all over the country connected with each soviet in each city. The Menshevik and SR minorities in the soviets opposed revolution, but the SR party splits. The “left-SR” group sides with the Bolsheviks.

The Bolshevik soldiers organization takes over the garrison. On October 24 the Military Revolutionary Committee occupies the telegraph, the telephone and other important buildings. The cruiser Aurora, which is controlled by Bolshevik sailors, fires a shot to signal the beginning of the revolution. The workers and soldiers storm the winter palace. The same evening there is a congress of Soviets, where delegates arrive from all over the country. This congress elects the new Russian government, elected by the soviets of workers and soldiers, the Soviet Government. The October Revolution has taken power.

This would lead to a civil war where the Capitalists try to rescue their power. Where 14 capitalist governments including the USA, Great Britain, France, Japan, Poland and many others invaded Soviet Russia to destroy the Soviet government. But they failed, and the soviet union was created.

The significance of the October Revolution cannot be overstated. It showed that a revolution by the ordinary people is possible. It showed that capitalism in the end, is incapable of solving its internal contradictions. Despite getting moderate leftists into the government, the policy was as imperialist, profit driven and anti-popular as before. The moderate leftists didn’t improve capitalism, they were used by capitalism. Only revolution stopped Russia’s involvement in the World War, carried out land reform and dealt with the crisis of unregulated capitalism, and began the process of building a new economic model which would serve the needs and interests of the people, not profits.

russian-revolution-1917-granger1-840x472

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

Some critical remarks on the Soviet election system & democracy

Introduction

To repeat the successes and not the mistakes of the past, it is important to understand that past. For this reason I think studying the economic & state systems of previous socialist experiments is highly important.

That said, I am by no means an expert on the Soviet System. Therefore I will only make some remarks on their system instead of attempting to make a thorough critique.

Elections under Lenin

The Lenin era democratic system was based on the All-Russian Congress of Soviets. Local soviets (worker councils) would send delegates to a Congress which created laws & decided policy. While the congress was not in session a Central Executive Committee (VTsIK) ran the government.

Elections under Stalin

The Stalin era democratic system replaced the Congress of Soviets with the Supreme Soviet which held elections every 4 years. The local Soviets decided only local issues while people could be elected to the Supreme Soviet directly instead of being sent as delegates.

Problems & Positive Features:

Without going into too much detail the Stalin era system was much more developed then the Lenin era system and all around can be called more democratic. However I think it was still flawed.

The Stalin era system actually copies the Western parliamentary system to a notable degree with its parliament (Supreme Soviet) & local organs (worker councils) but makes it more democratic in many ways while also limiting the rights of bourgeois forces.

1. Role of the Local Soviets

I think limiting the Soviets to deciding only local issues was a mistake. Having them send delegates to the parliament would have kept a stronger bond between work places and democracy & it would have better facilitated worker control on all levels of society. It would have kept the delegates more accountable also.

2. Selecting candidates

The Stalin era system of picking candidates for elections had positive elements. Having communist party chapters, komsomol, army units, women & student groups and co-operatives pick candidates; in short selecting candidates collectively was a good idea. It is more democratic, makes it more difficult for right-wingers & corrupt careerists with no social base to run.

3. Wages

Lenin states in The State and Revolution:

“Marx, referring to the example of the Commune, showed that under socialism functionaries will cease to be “bureaucrats”, to be “officials”, they will cease to be so in proportion as—in addition to the principle of election of officials—the principle of recall at any time is also introduced, as salaries are reduced to the level of the wages of the average workman…”

Needless to say this was not done in the Soviet Union. An official could earn 1000 rubles or if they held multiple positions which was possible they could earn more, while the lowest collective farmer or manual laborer could earn as little as 300-400 rubles per month. It is important to note that a skilled expert, manager or scientist could earn the same as a politician. Many of these inequalities were simply inherited from the previous capitalist system.

Why was this inequality not done away with? Lenin answers in the same work:

“Abolishing the bureaucracy at once, everywhere and completely, is out of the question. It is a utopia. But to smash the old bureaucratic machine at once and to begin immediately to construct a new one that will make possible the gradual abolition of all bureaucracy­­, this is not a utopia, it is the experience of the Commune, the direct and immediate task of the revolutionary proletariat.”

The elimination of the old state machine, all its remnants cannot be done over night. Secondly when writing his work Lenin was talking about revolution and socialism in an industrial country. Naturally in a backward country the elimination of the old bureaucracy would have to be even more gradual. As only 20% of the country was literate when the Bolsheviks took power, it was simply impossible for ‘all to govern in turn’ while such conditions existed. It was impossible to elect all officials. A transition, a raising of the cultural level had to take place.

I’m perfectly aware of the difficulties the Soviet government faced, but in my opinion the relative inequality in wages (though incredibly small in comparison with capitalist nations) was a problem. Economic incentives for individuals in production (as long as restricted & regulated) are not a problem, but privileges for political elites are. The principle of electing all or almost all officials could have been implemented after the old bourgeois experts & managers had been completely removed (i.e. in the late 30s, 40s or 50s).

The reason why such democratic reform did not take place was the struggle between two tendencies in the party: the Proletarian line of Stalin (which in the 1950s was in the minority) & the right-wing bourgeois line of the Revisionists, supported by centrists and bureaucrats (which managed to take power).

4. Contested Elections

The Soviet Union banned the opposition parties for violently opposing the Bolshevik Revolution or supporting the White Army etc. etc. etc. and never allowed opposition parties after that point. In the mid-1930s Stalin argued for contested elections. However this proposal was not accepted in the end.

Liberal critics claimed that Stalin’s move was merely a propaganda stunt, as he knew the Communist Party would win and therefore was willing to grant legal status to a powerless & marginal opposition that had no chance to take power. This is rather ironic considering that is precisely how most Western capitalist countries deal with their oppositions. The Communist Parties are tolerated in the West, as long as they don’t threaten Capitalism. If they begin to pose a threat Mccarthyism kicks in, or perhaps a military coup.

In any case, despite the Soviets not doing so, many other socialist countries (e.g. the GDR) had multiple parties. As far as I know there were no immediate negative consequences for this.

The question of allowing bourgeois opposition is a different one. My guess is that such opposition forces would immediately become puppets of foreign capitalist powers and should then be outlawed as organizations of foreign agents and traitors.

The context in which the Soviets banned the other parties was very specific, this cannot be over emphasized. First of all it was during a violent civil war and therefore more acceptable. Secondly, Russia (and other Eastern European countries) didn’t have a long history of parliamentary democracy to begin with. They were used to monarchy, despotism and right-wing dictatorship.

In our current context (long history of parliamentarism & time of peace), banning the opposition would be an entirely different matter. Venezuela has chosen not to do so even though their oppositionists are clearly paid by the USA.

The question of should we allow a left-opposition or a right-opposition is a difficult one but boils down to this: the Proletariat must be in charge, anti-proletarian forces cannot be allowed back in power. The vanguard status of the Communist Party is also of immense importance but this status has to be earned over and over again. Further more this vanguard status does not necessarily have to mean that the party holds monopoly control over the state.

The party is an ideological leader, but if the conditions are there, the people themselves should administrate the state as much as possible. All are in agreement about this. In Communism this should become the norm, but to reach this stage it should be facilitated already in the transitional period of Socialism.

stalin election1.jpg

Bibliography:

State and Revolution

Click to access state-and-revolution.pdf

Stalin and the Struggle for Democratic Reform
http://clogic.eserver.org/2005/furr.html

Constitution (Fundamental law) of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics
https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/stalin/works/1936/12/05.htm