The ICT on Kronstadt -1921 and the RCP (b)

Centrist lessons, limited and ambiguous

Pantopolis publishes the ICT-text The Kronstadt Revolt: One Hundred Years of Counter-Revolution in French: http://pantopolis.over-blog.com/2021/03/le-soulevement-de-kronstadt-un-siecle-de-contre-revolution.html with following comment: “The Internationalist Communist Tendency (ICT) has just published a very welcome article on the meaning and lessons of the Kronstadt insurrection and the crushing of the sailors in March 1921. We give our translation for possible discussion.
Pantopolis, 18 March 2021.”

The original on the ICT website: https://www.leftcom.org/fr/articles/2021-03-14/cronstadt

I am presenting a synthesis in which I limit myself to concentrating on what is essential. For further information, please see the various texts at the end, and above all the books in the inter-rev editions, which go into methodical and adequate depth: https://edicionesinterrev.wordpress.com/

TCI amidst its ambiguities, limited acknowledgements and various centrisms

This is a typically and manifestly centrist and limited recognition of what happened and its significance. The ICT recognises a number of conditions and actions, both of the    sailors, soldiers and workers of Kronstadt in 1921 and of the RCP (b). But    on the one hand its analysis is selective and limited, and on the other hand it converges on     an equally limited critical    evaluation, which, if believed and followed, makes it difficult to draw radically critical and rigorously communist conclusions.

The war, the isolation and the grim conditions becom   e an effective wild card. We know that these and other terrible conditions existed, but it is not    enough    to recognise this and    claim that     the soviets were undermined     and that    Lenin and the RCP(b) were forced to retreat,    launch the NEP and make concessions. Previously the ICT claims that the RCP(b) believed that    the uprising could give     strength and be used by the outside counter-revolution, a typical argument of Trotskyism…. which has no validity.

What is being concealed is that     the Bolshevik    political and action line was to be inscribed in state capitalism, to succeed in entrenching and directing it, by deploying typically social-nationalist    positions of “state socialism”, i.e. the     propagation of state capitalism       As in Russia from February 1917 to October, Menshevism and SRs played a nefarious and pro-bourgeois role (supporting government structures), any dissent from what the RCP(b) decided was necessarily petty-bourgeois and anti-Soviet, counter-revolutionary and adventurist, etc. But things are neither so Manichean nor so simple. An accumulation of condicoens created the best conditions for the Bolshevik approach to action to be based on substitutionism: it was the party which would do what the class did not do, or did not do as the party wished, but this approach had been going on for a long time, it did not arise at that moment. Was this the model which Marx and Engels had drawn from the Paris Commune, from their critical lessons? Lenin knew them, as he knew Marx’s critique of the Gohta Programme of the German socialist party, but his “flexibility” led him so much to say that yes, even a cook should operate in state leadership functions, to say the opposite, because there were no conditions, He went so far as to say that he was not a Blanquist in his famous text “The State and the Revolution”, to practically use the Blanquist model (typical of revolutionaries of the past, as Engels said), and to alter Marx’s thesis that in socialism there is no state, replacing it in that book and in general with the opposite, assuring that there is a state. The Leninist “beacon of clarity and rigour” is not Leninist, and its walls, inadeciations and models are very much rooted in the worst social-democratic heritage, the one that considers socialism to be generalised state capitalism, controlled by the party that represents the working class by its programme and socialises it with a firm hand. This kind of ideology served as a cover for the bizarre practices of Bolshevism, denying that the law of value operated in the state sector and making similar statements on a daily basis, in texts and articles by its leading….practices of state economic agencies, capitalist at home and abroad (agreements with foreign capitalists)… The ICT knows all this, but avoids going into it in depth… and sometimes just going in…

This Bolshevik attitude, a mixture of petty-bourgeois Jacobinism and proletarian backward Blanquism, in the concrete conditions of Russia first and the USSR later, generated a distribution of power from the beginning of the Russian proletarian revolution in October 17 which was modelled on the bourgeois approach: thus the Bolshevik majority turned the soviets into a kind of legislative and supervisory workers’ parliament.. in theory, with representatives of soldiers and peasants … and the     executive tasks, the essential     nuclear centre of power,    were derived from, concentrated   People’s Commissars, Sovnarkom, wit   h Bolshevism at the head of the Russian government and state … and Lenin    as its Chairman. See note [1].

What the ICT narrates about the war is like that, and also the proletarian (as well as peasant) resistances when they saw that    hunger and all sorts of calamities were not solved, and that the workers were treated as    such, as a labour force and a mass of conscripts. It could be expanded, but it must be understood that this is indeed an article. But the thesis that    hangs over the evaluations of the ICT    is that there was nothing else to be done, that it was tragic and that it was an episode of the counter-revolution, so that in the future it must be the councils that exercise    power    and not the    party, however communist it declares itself to be, but there is shit in the party and in the councils, which one does not want to criticise properly and in detail. And in the councils basically because the Bolshevik majority privileges the party and its structures in a Jacobin and Blanquist scheme of action, its delegates subscribe to this line after October, they are in the majority and the line is practically carried out. When problems arise inside and outside the party (with left social revolutionaries and maximalists in particular, and also with anarchist sectors), what prevails is the iron fist. The trade unions, which for Lenibn were to be a counterweight to the excesses, are the trade union hand of power, and Trotsky himself must be f renched by Lenion when he tries to militarise them at the Tenth Congress. The ICT and its ilk are well aware of what happened and the interpretations of each side involved…but they fall short of drawing critical consequences.

The chain of weaknesses, inadequacies and errors of Marxism, its different expressions which mark the inability to act as a single clear, cohesive    and active force at the international level… is left aside. The tremendous responsibilities of    Bolshevism, in part as well… and above all its practical criminal and terrorist anti-proletarian drift… And nothing about the necessary exit from power when such a situation arises… they dismiss that, crying out against defeatism. But in adverse conditions, Marx and Engels had sunk the IWA, after the Council had been transferred to the USA in order to make the process as orderly and favourable as possible, without voluntarily obstinating to continue with a structure which was no longer able to cope, in the midst of powerful struggles with the Bakuninist wing and the retreat of revolutionary capacities in the proletariat. The Bolsheviks thought that they were doing something positive? Undoubtedly, but it is not the essence of those involved in historically relevant events and class struggles that is essential for interpreting them and drawing critical conclusions.

What Engels said and defended    Munzer falls on deaf ears for this expression of the Communist Left in Italy (in the wave of the positions headed by Onorato Damen after a strong    discussion with the    supporters of the positions headed by    Amadeo Bordiga, which culminated   definitive organic split in 1952).

Writing in 1850 Engels dealt with the fate of Thomas Munzer, as that of the leader of a radical party coming to power before the conditions were ripe for the establishment of a communist society. It is worthwhile to study this passage critically:

” The worst thing that can befall a leader of an extreme party is to be compelled to take over a government in an epoch when the movement is not yet ripe for the domination of the class which he represents and for the realisation of the measures which that domination would imply. What he can do depends not upon his will but upon the sharpness of the clash of interests between the various classes, and upon the degree of development of the material means of existence, the relations of production and means of communication upon which the clash of interests of the classes is based every time. What he ought to do, what his party demands of him, again depends not upon him, or upon the degree of development of the class struggle and its conditions. He is bound to his doctrines and the demands hitherto propounded which do not emanate from the interrelations of the social classes at a given moment, or from the more or less accidental level of relations of production and means of communication, but from his more or less penetrating insight into the general result of the social and political movement. Thus he necessarily finds himself in a dilemma. What he can do is in contrast to all his actions as hitherto practised, to all his principles and to the present interests of his party; what he ought to do cannot be achieved. In a word, he is compelled to represent not his party or his class, but the class for whom conditions are ripe for domination. In the interests of the movement itself, he is compelled to defend the interests of an alien class, and to feed his own class with phrases and promises, with the assertion that the interests of that alien class are their own interests. Whoever puts himself in this awkward position is irrevocably lost. “.
(“The Peasant War in Germany“)

For Bordigism Lenin did what he had to do, and isolation, a certain opportunist    presence and tactical mistakes made the consequences worse   . For the ICT there is some responsibility… but it falls short in its critical evaluation.    For both to leave power and to carry out from the opposition a work of self-criticism and resistance at the same time would be defeatism. The Bolshevik leadership was called upon to do this    by the KAPD in    1921, and was ignored in Moscow… like so many other critical remarks, with its proud and sectarian    position which Lenin    opportunistically configured   shocking pamphlet “Leftism, the infantile disease of communism”.

What    we know       a century later     is that    what Leninism and Trotskyism    did led to Stalinism and laid the foundations for    a tremendous confusion which the   Bordigism and Damenism Lenin remains a    comrade to be saved, who    did what he could … even to the point of shedding workers’ and revolutionary soldiers’ blood to … launch the NEP and     make people believe that        state ownership of    factories, finance and trade was    socialism, “though in germ in this period of transition from capitalism to communism”, as Lenin wrote, therefore something to defend and develop against the existing private and associated capitalist    varieties. But the    alleged leading party of the “process    leading to socialism” (Lenin)… was directed by capitalist relations and   pantomime of legislation and administrative, economic and social control.

Thus it did    not lead the revolution, but applied its command over the proletarian    of the process of class struggle and the “leading role of the party”, of socialism and the transitional period, of “imperialism, the highest stage of capitalism”, of state capitalism and other questions of the first order… was directed like a puppet by the prevailing wind of    capitalist relations… which Lenin    partially admits, but he lets it be seen that it might be by private or outside capital. The counter-revolution emanated    from various places and forces in these conditions, but certainly very importantly from within the state and the RCP(b).

Disciplining the working class and    the discontent of soldiers and peasants    was one more aspect of the development of capitalist relations in Russia first and then in the USSR, which meant    giving ground to private capital but at the same time strengthening state and associated capital. But    Bolshevism stressed that the economy    had gone off the rails of capitalism, as Lenin put it,    since private capital had been hit hard. In real praxis, state capital did    not come and so the problems lay in the relations    between the three main    forms    of capitalist property.

This whole process manifested     itself inside the    RCP(b) and outside it during the 1920s, with struggles between    Bolshevik-Leninist Trotskyists and other wings of the party, until the Stalinist one prevailed.

 The Leninist party model, fully praised by Bordigists and partly by the Dhamenist ICT, leads to the fact that the workers’ and soldiers’ councils are inhibited from exercising dictatorship, that they do not take up the tremendous and difficult issues of the revolution inside and outside Russia and   socialisation from its opposite, which Bolshevism could not implement and concretise (Leninist policy of land distribution, then activist voluntarism and terror to extract food and raw materials from the countryside, then cessions to    agrarian trade, with the cities and the state, then cooperativism partly frustrated and partly realised, then Stalinist “collectivisation” in the style of Nikiolai Bukharin’s “get rich! of Nikiolai Bukharin… etc.).

The pretence of economic calculation and planning was made on a bourgeois, voluntarist basis, alien to Marx’s ideas (calculation of working hours, use of vouchers which do not circulate as capital but give the right to a taxed consumption, etc., something necessarily existing in a first socialist phase of communism).The GIC had to recall and specify this    later with its “Fundamental Principles of Communist Production and Distribution”, infamously branded by Bolshevism    as anarchist and syndicalist, as Lenin and the leaders    Price calculation, with enterprises with their own cost-benefit accounting, with trade, money    and commodities, and above all with wage-labour and forced labour by the state,    implies the development of capitalism, of value relations which are valorised, of capitalist accumulation… In Russia and the USSR the maximum that could be achieved was a contingency of consumption in a war economy, with some limited free advantages for the proletariat, which were quickly annulled and overcome .There was no open transition period, it was an isolated state which had to and did resist, but to do so it had to accelerate capitalist development, which private capital had failed to secure and manage with its miserable democratic and warmongering governments in the Russian imperialist sense.

Bolshevism encountered major problems, a    decimated and exhausted working class    and international isolation, it is obvious. But    a    remarkable part of the proletarian exhaustion is due to    Bolshevik policy. And the same can be said    about    the confusion created in the communist and internationalist    ranks by the    Marxist-Leninist ideology, a re-edition of    the social-democracy confronted with    socialist centrism and the socialist right, but then    calling to     unite in workers’ governments and political fronts with them…. so that through Lenin’s tactical astuteness (supposedly) he could prove his role and make a class react to which he had instilled aims of state capitalism masquerading as socialism… which did not react (Germany, etc.)… while the    Leninists sectarian harassed     the communist left who tried to follow a    different course… which meant that    Bolshevism had to give up its space of power and leadership.This Bolshevism could not tolerate, and did not.

To use the successes in the war to hide all   this    is not only fallacious but infamous and anti-revolutionary. And that policy found in party substitutionism a phase of    its action, but before that it had already left the soviets in the background, favouring the Sovnarkom and its     absolute policy of order and command (which led to banning tendencies and discussions since the aberrant 10th Congress of the RCP(b). Thus the model of Marxist struggle for the political defection of the movement is perverted into a model of a mixture of Blanquism    and    Jacobinism. The exploited proletarian    class is deprived of the collective   capacities that need to be deployed and kept in their hands by the various rank and file bodies and their capacities, limiting them to acting as mere structures destined to carry out orders from above, whose orientations are only accepted if they conform to plans made without their help or if they allow reforming the orientations in the face of the dead ends and the increasing problems that are repeatedly encountered.Bodies which need to be aware at all times of the needs, problems and orientations of the whole, and which must necessarily have the    capacity to terminate and dismiss from their mandated functions (on the model of the Paris Commune of 1871) those who do not comply with specific mandates and who exercise arbitrary command and control functions, This organic and dialectical Marxist     scheme was replaced by   bureaucratic and anti-labour central planning which de facto covered up the inefficiencies and the reigning chaos, the incapacity to control the capitalist process, a process which was really     developing. on the basis of the law of value    and administrativist voluntarism, but which Bolshevism mystified     on the grounds that it was the workers’ state which controlled everything for socialist purposes… for the sake of the working class    and internationalism… while the    state-party bureaucracy, the private bourgeoisie and the associated bourgeoisie ostensibly improved their living conditions on the basis of labour,    suffering and    terrorist domination of the    working class milieu, an    infamous task for which   gave places in command to old and new bourgeois    and tsarist    elements in    various expressions, as well as in the military and police….

For    Bordigists and Damenists Lenin and the majority of the Bolshevik leadership were not responsible for the line of “socialism in one country” which Stalinism will have as its banner and alibi as the Russian synthesis of the whole process here simply outlined in broad strokes.

A    rigorous    and in-depth study of    their positions and actions    using the method of Marx and Engels, the historical materialism of scientific communism and its critical dialectical logic, reveals that they were. But these criticised tendencies     openly    dispense with     contrasting and critically    evaluating what    is produced beyond their navels and their comfort zones…. or they offer us mediocre, limiting    and centrist substitutes, as TCI    now does, which it has been doing for a long time, by the way ([2]).

The ICT     goes    further than the Bordigists in criticising substitutionism, but   Both branches of the Italian Communist Left take the    position that socialism     cannot be    realised in one country, which is true, and that    the    revolution must be international, which is also correct. But they repeat that Bolshevism through the Communist    International intended to carry out this international revolution, which    was true at the beginning, but then the CI    itself became a tool in the hands of the     Leninist RCP(b) to     entrench the power of state capital in the USSR    and    to be used in    the     imperialist vicissitudes    and needs of the    Soviet state, when    the international       correlation of forces itself proved to be    contrary, as the     movement in Hungary, Germany, Italy, UK,    USA,    etc., showed.

The aberrant    theorisations of Lenin and the Bolshevik leaders, of a social-democratic   relation to the state and the economy, are not radically questioned by these tendencies, and at most they contextualise them in the way the ICT does in this article. But for a party which declares itself    Marxist and communist as the Bolsheviks did, to believe that it can manage the economy, that capitalism would be outside the state enterprises and sectors, that there would be no surplus value because the state is “proletarian” and other mystifications and alibis, is so serious that the critique cannot be limited to contextualising    or remaining on a plane of limited    generalities, as the ICT does. The tremendous     Bolshevik confusions about the    type of revolution, about    “war communism”, about soviets, trade unions and factory committees,    etc., are not a mere product of conditions of isolation.

Hannibal (22-03-2021).

Source: La TCI sobre Kronstadt-1921 y el PCR (b). Lecciones centristas, limitadas y con ambigüedades (Spanish original with French and English machine translations)

Notes

[1] The first Council of People’s Commissars, elected by the Second Congress of the Russian Soviets on 7 November 1917, was composed of: (People’s Commissioner _ Position _ Death)

President Vladimir Lenin Natural causes 1924

Secretary Nikolai Gorbunov Executed 1938

Agriculture Vladimir Miliutin Executed 1937

War and Naval Affairs Nikolai Podvoiski (People’s Commissar) Natural causes 1948

Nikolai Krylenko (War College) Executed 1938

Pavel Dybenko (Naval College) Executed 1938

Trade and Industry Víktor Noguín Natural causes 1924

Education Anatoli Lunacharski Natural Causes 1933

Ivan Theodorovich Supplies Executed 1937

Foreign Affairs Leon Trotsky Assassinated 1940

Internal Affairs Alekséi Rýkov Executed 1938

Justice Georgy Opokov Executed 1937

Work Aleksandr Shlyapnikov Executed 1937

Nationalities Iósif Stalin Natural causes 1953

Post and Telegraph Nikolai Gebov-Avilov Executed 1937

Railways (vacant)

Finance Ivan Skvortsov-Stepanov Natural causes 1928

Social Welfare Aleksandra Kolontái Natural causes 1952

https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consejo_de_Comisarios_del_Pueblo#Primer_Consejo_de_Comisarios_del_Pueblo

[2] When I sent them a critique of their platform, the response was silence. So was the IOD (Onorato Damen Institute, a split of the PC Intª “Bataglia Comunista”, an essential axis of the ICT). And so are the Bordigists.

More on this subject by Inter-Rev:

https://inter-rev.foroactivo.com/t6808-la-adaptacion-bolchevique-al-capitalismo-en-la-urss-significaciones-y-alternativas?highlight=la++adaptation+bolshevik

https://inter-rev.foroactivo.com/t9885-a-un-siglo-del-conflicto-de-marinos-soldados-y-obreros-de-la-base-naval-de-kronstadt-con-el-estado-ruso-y-el-pcr-bolchevique?highlight=kronstadt

https://inter-rev.foroactivo.com/t2806-critica-de-la-plataforma-de-la-tendencia-comunista-internacionalista-tci?highlight=plataforma++tci

https://inter-rev.foroactivo.com/t2738-istituto-onorato-damen-sindicato-lucha-economica-y-conflicto-de-clase-en-la-epoca-de-la-precariedad-laboral?highlight=onorato++damen

https://inter-rev.foroactivo.com/t9580-a-periodo-de-transicion-del-capitalismo-al-comunismo-varios-textos-partes-1-a-18-b-puntos-y-explicaciones-de-balance


Why Jock’s comment has been approved

In the following you will find a comment that Jock gave to Hannibal’s article above. As a moderator, I had to decide on approving or refusing this comment. I decided to approve its publication because this comment shows in public Jocks attitude of double standards (on ‘typos’, translations and specially giving sources), of insults, slander, ignorance and above all, refusal to discuss the positions of the ‘councilist’ German/Dutch Left, an attitude that has never been corrected by the ICT.

What the ICT succeeded so far with this attitude, has been the sabotage of the development of a debate that transcends its self-imposed limits of a homemade ‘Leninism’ that will not stand the storms of revolution.

Therefor, I call readers to concentrate on clarification the lessons of 1917-1923 in the light of what followed and our present period. Hannibal certainly contributes to this, as will do other comrades that have proven they can think for themselves in stead of following self-imposed leaders.

Fredo Corvo, 24-3-2021

11 Comments on “The ICT on Kronstadt -1921 and the RCP (b)

  1. The article we wrote is very short, just to commemorate a workers’ anniversary. It does not go into the details of the consequences because it was written for our broadsheet Aurora. What “Hannibal” has presented is a counciiist rant (the number of typos show that) which contains unsourced allegations about us holding different positions in the past. These are lies. The question of isolation is what explains the defeat of the revolution. The question of Bolshevik confusions is about the precise path of the defeat of the revolution BUT even this is not a simple question since there was no one Bolshevik opinion on how the revolution should proceed. As it was the civil war favoured those factions who were not worried about building a state apparatus based on the Cheka and the Red Army. This had the effect of stifling those elements in the Communist Party who recognised that the revolution had to be conducted by the self-activity of the mass of the class in all its organs. Only an international revolution could have come to their aid (and the last gasp of this opposition came in 1922 when the Workers Opposition appealed to the Communist International to save the revolution. It was already under the control of the Russian Party so the attempt failed.

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  2. -Claiming that my article is a councilist rant, with lots of typos, and unsubstantiated accusations is simple. Enough arrogance, simplism, dogmatism and bad faith. Proving it point by point is another matter…quite different.
    -The sects tend to react like this, no wonder, I have known about them for decades. They are a pernicious ballast.
    On the isolation of the revolution in Russia, my text includes it and contextualises it, but it does not make it a justification for the deplorable Bolshevik-Leninist action and theorisation. It has worked and works as an alibi to come and tell us that there was no other choice but to …. to develop state capitalism, to exploit the proletariat and mystify it, to make the soviets secondary and subordinate to the government, and, as the text treats them, to denigrate and attack the soldiers, sailors and workers of Kronstadt, who in an intolerable situation asserted a programme of demands, in the face of which the RCP(b) on the one hand accused them of serving the counter-revolution and on the other in the NEP incorporated a trade demand…exaggerating it. But basically what Lenin and others feared was the loss of their bureaucratic role, in the face of the reigning and growing dislike of the proletarian class, as well as the peasant layers, due to the economic policy of the Bolsheviks and their hard administrativist, command-and-control style …as the TITERES [probably meaning: TOOLS; red.] of capitalist relations, which they propagated and at the same time mystified.The RCP(b) made concessions to the peasantry in terms of trade and …tightened the screws on the proletariat. But you know, we ignorant people who can’t do more than make a simple “O” with a pencil can only say simple things and nonsense… anchored in the pure ravings of ….. ….
    -To conclude, I do not declare myself a communist of councils [council communist; red.], but a communist, and therefore scientific, critical and internationalist.
    And therefore I denounce the Leninist closed-mindedness and infamies against the German-Dutch communist left (which I criticise abundantly when and as I see fit, with abundant argumentation).
    And therefore I denounce how Bolshevik substitutionism is confronted with the necessary task as revolutionary vanguard of the party which the proletariat needs in its struggle against capital.
    Communist leadership in the class struggle requires clarifying and pushing forward against capitalist relations …not in the direction of them, instead of and against the proletarian class, which the RCP (b) claimed to “represent”.the proletarian dictatorship is the dictatorship of the class, not of a party. The party, if it knows how and succeeds in acting properly, will succeed in getting many enlightened members of its ranks to be among the delegates who have the Paris Commune (1871) and the Marxist teachings of the Commune as their model of action and relation to the class. In this way they put into action the guidelines of the Manifesto of the Communist Party of 1848: “The Communists, while always striving to achieve the immediate aims and to defend the daily interests of the working class, represent at the same time, within the present movement, its future”…”. The Communists are thus, practically speaking, the most resolute part, the ever-present spur of all the workers’ parties of the world; theoretically, they have the advantage over the great masses of the proletariat in their clear vision of the conditions, the directions and the general results to which the proletarian movement must lead”.

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  3. Remembering.
    This is what Vercesi (Otorino Perrone) wrote in October No. 2 in March 1938.
    The question of the State
    http://laizquierdaitaliana.blogspot.com/2011/09/la-cuestion-del-estado-octubre-perrone.html

    October was the organ of the fractions of the internationalist communist left, among them notably the Italian communist left of which Vercesi was a leading militant.

    Significant extracts from his text:

    “STARTING FROM THE MAIN POINT THAT IT IS NOT BY FORCE AND VIOLENCE THAT SOCIALISM IS IMPOSED ON THE PROLETARIAT.
    It was better to lose Kronstadt than to keep it from the geographical point of view, when this victory could fundamentally have only one result: that of altering the very bases, the fundamentals of the action carried out by the proletariat. We know the objection: but the loss of Kronstadt had been a decisive loss for the revolution, perhaps even the loss of the revolution. Here we come to the key point: what then are the criteria of analysis: those which arise from class principles or those which we draw from the interplay of situations? More concretely: those which lead us to consider that it is better for the workers to make a mistake, even a fatal one, or those others who prefer to ignore the principles because the workers will thank them later, even if they have been defended by violence?
    Every situation gives rise to two opposing types of criteria which lead to two different tactical conclusions. If we base ourselves on the juxtaposition of forms, we arrive at the following proposition: this organism belongs to the proletariat, we must defend it because it belongs to the proletariat, even if we have to destroy a workers’ movement in order to do so. If, on the contrary, we base ourselves on the juxtaposition of substance, we will come to opposite conclusions: a proletarian movement which is managed by the enemy carries within itself an organic contradiction which opposes the proletarians against their enemies; to explode this contradiction we must carry out propaganda work and EXCLUSIVELY propaganda work among the workers, who, in the course of events, will themselves regain the class strength which will enable them to break the enemy’s game. But if it should happen to be true that what is really at stake in this or that event is the loss of the revolution, it is certain that the victory achieved by violence would not only hide the reality (historical events like the Russian Revolution never depend on an episode and the crushing of Kronstadt can only have saved the revolution for superficial mentalities), but it determines the condition for the effective loss of the revolution: the attack on the principles does not remain localised, but is generalised to all spheres of the activity of the proletarian state”.

    … “The course of events will test the candidacy which the party has put forward, as well as the political nature of the fractions which move within it. It is possible that, as was the case in Russia in 1920-21, once again the party of the proletariat will be faced with this dilemma: either to risk everything to remain firm on proletarian principles, or – examining the need for a breathing space – to attack the principles and remain in power in spite of everything. There is a point of great importance to be understood. It is by no means a question of elevating to questions of principle problems which can be reduced to secondary questions in the face of which the final dilemma does not present itself. But when fundamental problems intervene no vacillation is possible and it is many times better to risk the battle in the certainty of being beaten than to remain in power by imposing a defeat on proletarian principles”.

    … “the workers’ movements are never identified with the manoeuvres of the enemy restoration. In this respect we refer to the explanations we have given in speaking of Kronstadt, which we obviously compare with the Makhno movements and in general with all those in which workers’ groups, whatever their label, were involved. Violence will never be used against the workers and will be even less justified once the proletariat is in power.
    Having said that, it remains to examine the specific problem of the workers’ movement in which an infinite number of currents are active and ONLY one represents the real interests of the proletariat. And here, without any doubt, all these currents indirectly express the interests of the enemy, by indirectly adhering to the capitalist regimes abroad and directly with all the intermediary class organisations, and above all, with the state bureaucracy. But here again the proposition: “I (the class party) am the proletariat, the rest (social-democracy, anarchism, etc.) is the enemy”; it inevitably turns into this one: “I (the party of the proletariat) lose my content to acquire a capitalist one from the moment when, in order to avoid the influence of the enemy, I resort to the dictatorial means which are proper to capitalism”.
    The emancipation of the workers will be the work of the workers themselves,” said Marx, and this central phrase of socialism is for us more than a concept to justify the hazing of workers who follow other conceptions: IT REPRESENTS THE FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLE OF THE PROLETARIAT.”

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  4. Yesterday, 23-32021, Pantopolis seems to have extended its introduction to the translation into the french language of the ICT-article. What follows is a machine-translation of this introduction:

    “Foreword by Pantopolis

    The Internationalist Communist Tendency (ICT) has just published an article on the meaning and the lessons of the insurrection and the crushing of the Kronstadt sailors, in March 1921. We give our translation for a possible discussion.

    This article seems to show a certain adherence to the positions of Ottorino Perrone, who in the 1930s had written that it was better to lose Kronstadt than the revolution, that the Bolsheviks should rather have left power than become the executioners of the proletariat.

    The ICT thus marks a certain reappropriation of the positions of Bilan and Prometeo in the 1930s, positions that were a beginning of condemnation of Bolshevism embodied by Lenin and Trotsky. The Bordigists after 1945 returned to ultraleninist positions, not hesitating, in the name of their apology of the Terror, to proudly claim responsibility for the Kronstadt massacre.

    The ICT should be more radical in its firm condemnation of these totally counter-revolutionary Leninist positions. Instead of talking about a century of counterrevolution since Kronstadt, the ICT should show by in-depth articles, not a few vague half-truths and badly translated quotes, that the evil came from much further back: anti-proletarian course opened as early as July 1918, the establishment of a mass terror by Chekas not hesitating to shoot by thousands the recalcitrant workers in the name of the “dictatorship of the proletariat” embodied by the unique State-Party, total destruction of the authentic power of the proletarian power: the workers’ councils or soviets. The counter-revolution does not begin in March 1921 but well before in 1918.

    The ICT avoids underlining the crucial importance of the establishment of a policy of state capitalism under Lenin and Trotsky. This policy took off with the crushing of Kronstadt, through the establishment of the NEP. From the NEP to the Stalinist collectivization, the triumph of the Leninist party-state was a long way of suffering for the Russian proletariat, suffocated, ruthlessly exploited, thrown into the Gulag, and the victim of an endless mass terror.

    As long as the ICT has not made a ruthless critique of Leninism and the State Party, its sincere condemnation of the Kronstadt massacre in March 1921 will leave any serious reader doubtful. A critique of Leninism is a major issue for any proletarian militant who wishes to avoid the repetition of tragedies like Kronstadt. Such “tragedies” are more than “tragedies”: they are crimes against the proletariat, the only bearer of a real historical project. This project is not state capitalism in the Leninist and Trotskyist style, but the destruction of all forms of capitalism, both private and state.

    The only weapons of the proletariat are its historical-critical consciousness of the past and its capacity to form in revolutionary periods its own organs of domination: the workers’ councils. Without them, all scholasticism on the “construction of the class party”, remains simple logorrhea.

    Pantopolis, March 18 and March 23, 2021″

    QUOTE:
    “The position of the group of the Italian communist left Bilan-Prometeo and of Ottorino Perrone (Vercesi) on the violence exercised by the Bolshevik party in power against the Russian proletariat

    Ottorino Perrone (Vercesi), on the question of the Russian Bolshevik State and its exercise of violence, gave at the end of the 30s a major contribution that drew an ideological line of demarcation with the “Marxist-Leninist” or “Bolshevik-Leninist” conception. The Russian proletarian State had “remained an organ of coercion”, “sterilizing by incorporating (the) class organizations”.

    Condemning the repression against Makhno and the insurgents of Kronstadt, Ottorino Perrone – speaking in the name of his group – proclaimed (in capital letters!) that “it’s not by force and violence that one imposes socialism to the proletariat”, and that “it was better to lose Kronstadt than to keep it geographically”, and that no “class party” could “stay in power inflicting a defeat to the proletarian principles”. And he added that in no case a proletarian party could be confused with the state, whatever it was: “Dictatorship of the party cannot become… imposition on the working class of the solutions decided by the party, cannot especially mean that the party can rely on the repressive organs of the state to extinguish any discordant voice, based on the axiom that any criticism, any position coming from other workers’ currents is by that very fact counterrevolutionary… “[1]

    Source: Philippe BOURRINET, Un siècle de Gauche communiste «italienne» (1915-2015), Paris, 1er mai 2017, Éditions moto proprio (摩托车出版社). – Price: 40 € (excluding shipping)
    * Correspondence and/or orders: info@left-dis.nl
    [1] Bilan, No. 26, January 1936, «Parti–Internationale–État (5e et dernière partie) : l’État soviétique»”

    Source: http://pantopolis.over-blog.com/2021/03/le-soulevement-de-kronstadt-un-siecle-de-contre-revolution.html

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  8. Hello,

    As I have noticed, the relatively concise article on the significance of and lessons from the Kronstadt uprising and its suppression by the Bolshevik state power in 1921 from the CWO’s recent broadsheet has given rise to a vivid critique by Aníbal of its “centrist” and ”limited” character, resuscitating diverging echoes from different corners (by Jock, from Pantopolis, an explanation by the moderator, and by Aníbal in his turn).

    1. Anibal’s critique of the CWO/ICT seems very well be worth discussing for the position he takes against Leninism, state capitalism, and for the arguments he develops in this sense, notably with reference to statements and contributions by the historical German-Dutch Left (cf. the KAPD, at the time still adhering to the 3rd International; the ‘fundamental principles’ of the later GIC), but it appears much impaired first of all because of the poor quality of the English in which it is presented.

    I think it would much facilitate the reception by interested readers of contributions made by non English speakers, if both their authors and the editor of the Left-Wing communism site would take their time and procure themselves of adequate translations, instead of applying the method of Speedy Gonzales for their foreign language publications.

    To provide an example of how a minimally redacted translation might read, I present what I have arrived at (with the aid of the same translation tool, and hardly any mastery of the Spanish language at all) for the paragraph summarizing Aníbal’s critique at the beginning of his contribution:

    « What is being concealed is that the Bolshevik political line of action was inscribed in state capitalism, aimed at consolidating and directing it, based on typically social-nationalist positions of “state socialism”, that is to say: the propagation of state capitalism. To this end, any counter-force in the councils and in other parties that supported them was something to be feared, confronted and crushed. Similar to Russia from February to October 1917, when Menshevism and SRs played a nefarious and pro-bourgeois role (supporting government structures), any dissent from what the RCP(b) decided would necessarily be [considered] petty-bourgeois and anti-Soviet, counter-revolutionary and adventurist, etc. But things are neither that Manichean nor that simple. An accumulation of conditions created the best conditions [pleonasm?] for the Bolshevik approach being based on substitutionism: it was the party that would do what the class did not, or did not do as the party wished. But this approach had already been pursued for a long time, it did not circumstantially come up at that moment. Was this the model [explain model?] that Marx and Engels had drawn from the Paris Commune, from its critical lessons? Lenin knew these, as he knew Marx’s critique of the Gotha Program of the German socialist party, but his “flexibility” led him to say that yes, even a kitchen maid should [be able to fulfill] state leadership functions, as well as [affirming] the opposite, because the conditions were lacking. He went so far as to say, in his famous text “The State and the Revolution”, that he was not a Blanquist, and to practically apply the Blanquist model (typical of revolutionaries of the past, as Engels said), altering Marx’s thesis that there is no state in socialism, by replacing it, in this book and in general, with the opposite: assuring that there is a state. The Leninist “beacon of clarity and rigor” is no such thing, and its twists, inadequacies and models were much rooted in the worst social-democratic heritage, which considers socialism to be generalized state capitalism, controlled by the party that represents the working class by its program, and that socializes it with a firm hand. This type of ideology served as a cover for the bizarre practices of Bolshevism, in denial of the law of value operating in the state sector, and making similar statements on a daily basis, in texts and articles by its leading cadres….which served to sustain the practices of economic organizations of the state, capitalist at home and abroad (agreements with foreign capitalists). … The ICT is well aware of all this, but avoids going into it in depth… » ”

    2. As for the CWO’s article, I think it provides a start as to presenting a political historical account based on researched facts, but it seems to take a shortcut as to “the lesson” to be drawn from the experience of the Kronstadt uprising in its conclusion. It comes with the bold title of “One hundred years of counter-revolution” but, apart from certain facts presented, I have difficulty in reading an analysis of a “counter-revolution” in 1921 (namely at the instigation of the Bolshevik party under leadership of Lenin and Trotsky) from the analysis itself… (the text does not even employ this term as such for the role of the aforementioned protagonists), not to speak of the claim that this counter-revolution (from the title) has lasted ever since, which the article leaves unsubstantiated.

    Do I have to take it that the CWO/ICT needs a whole book on “revolution and counter-revolution in Russia 1917 – 1923” to come to the heart of the matter?
    Then I guess, for the time being, one will have to do with its article “1921: Beginning of the Counter-Revolution?” [https://www.leftcom.org/en/articles/2001-08-01/1921-beginning-of-the-counter-revolution] from almost 20 years ago which, at first sight seems developed more more clearly and evenhandedly than the present article.

    Henry Cinnamon.

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    • Henry: -I don’t read or speak English. So when I write a text in Spanish what I do is to translate it automatically with the paid translator DeepL Pro. But I cannot guarantee that the translation is adequate. That’s all I can do. -On the sentence : ” An accumulation of conditions created the best conditions [pleonasm?] for the Bolshevik approach to be based on substitutionism :…”. It is better phrased if it reads : ” An accumulation of conditions made it easier for the Bolshevik approach ….”

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      • Henry:
        -I don’t read or speak English. So when I write a text in Spanish what I do is to translate it automatically with the paid translator DeepL Pro. But I cannot guarantee that the translation is adequate. That’s all I can do.
        -On the sentence : ” An accumulation of conditions created the best conditions [pleonasm?] for the Bolshevik approach to be based on substitutionism :…”. It is better phrased if it reads : ” An accumulation of conditions made it easier for the Bolshevik approach ….”
        –Any text can be improved, obviously, and for that there is also the collective reading and the exercise of evaluation and criticism by other colleagues.
        A text for an article is necessarily limited, but it is useful to evaluate what it says and what it doesn’t say, if what it says is essential and if something essential is avoided. Secondly, it is necessary to look at the elements of argumentation and the contribution of significant data, to see whether or not they corroborate the essential proposals, if they do not, and if they do so with limitations.
        In my text I try to show the complexity of the situation but I do not hide behind it in order to avoid concluding clearly and delimitatively what the counter-revolutionary and capitalist role of the RCP(b) consists of, its internal and external determinations, its context of development, its essential forms and modalities, providing data on its historical, political and social origins, its political and social origins, and its essential forms and modalities, and I also try to show that the RCP(b) has a counter-revolutionary and capitalist role.
        its historical, political and social origins, and its ideological forms of expression.
        In the ICT article (elaborated by the CWO) the analysis is limited because the basic problem is not to question Leninism in depth, and that leads to the critical limitations of the Italian Communist Left. And the same happens with the other text you refer to,( https://www.leftcom.org/en/articles/2001-08-01/1921-beginning-of-the-counter-revolution 2001) indeed more extensive and better developed, but to which I have made the same essential basic criticism.
        -Who really exercised a dictatorship, and what was its social and political content, is the first essential question. The soviets did not do so since the Sovnarkom was the leading head of the state and the executive committee of the congress of soviets (VTiSK) became secondary and more and more limited in its powers and effective power. Thus the dictatorship belonged to the party and not to the proletariat organised in soviets. And the party did not direct the economy, but was directed by the needs of capitalism. Substitutionism did not turn the party into a proletarian vector for the control of economic relations but made it the conductor which was directed in an atio which drove it with force, as a burdened Lenin recognised at the time…defender of social democratic conceptions of socialism, supposedly existing as an economic sector which competes with others when the state nationalises industrial, commercial and financial sectors and from there controls them…etc. There is an enormous sum of Bolshevik alibis that I have brought to light, which do not accord with the genuine Marxist approach. Leninism is the ideology of red state capitalism, allegedly proletarian, but effectively anti-proletarian and exploitative, the enemy of the proletarian class and of internationalist communism.

        Internationalist greetings.
        Aníbal.
        (30-03-2021)

        Like

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