Karl Radek

The Kronstadt Uprising, 1921

(April 1921)

Source: Workers' Liberty, 2010.
First published: "Bulletin communiste", French organ of the Communist International, April 1st, 1921.
Translated: Ed Maltby.
HTML Mark-up: Zdravko Saveski.
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2017). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.

A great joy seized white-guards all over the world when on the 2nd of March, news reached the outside world that that the sailors of Kronstadt had risen up against the Soviets. “I have made you, and I shall kill you” – that was the caption below a cartoon that appeared in a big broadsheet in Paris, showing a tall, lanky sailor pointing his revolver at Trotsky. “The odious sailors of Kronstadt, who brought revolution into every corner of Russia, the maniacal enemies of the bourgeoisie, have broken from the Soviet government. Upon whom will the government support itself now?” That is what was repeated by all the possible, imaginable organs of the Russian counter-revolution. And more than one was already banking on the end of the Soviet government. But things didn’t work out as they had expected. The Kronstadt uprising, just as they proudly declared it, they fled into the land of Canaan, into Finland, where grass had just begun to grow on the graves of 30,000 proletarians murdered by the Finnish Whites, they abandoned the sailors to the revolutionary tribunals of Soviet Russia. Nevertheless, the crushing of this mutiny by military force did not erase its significance. The real character of the Kronstadt uprising does not only cast light on the current situation in Russia, it also illuminates at the same time one of the most important problems of the world revolution in general: the problem of the relationship between the Communist Party and the mass of the proletariat and the form of the dictatorship: dictatorship of the Party or dictatorship of the class (to employ the customary expression, which is in any case inexact).

1 – The Uprising

The Kronstadt uprising was not a local event, although it naturally bore numerous local characteristics. The latter consisted first of all in the fact that it was not provoked by a very high level of material deprivation. The sailors of Kronstadt live better than the rest of the army or the working class, they are well dressed and their other material conditions of life are without a doubt better than the average of those experienced by the rest of the Russian proletariat. The local discontent of the sailors was directed first and foremost against the discipline and order established by the Soviet government. That is expressly confirmed by the central organ of the Whites, Les Dernières Nouvelles of Milyukov, who writes, according to a refugee sailor, that the discontent had already manifested itself the year before and that it had been stirred up by the radical measures taken by the Soviet government in order to arrest the degeneration of the fleet. Everywhere, but especially in Russia, sailors have always been a particularly ill-disciplined element and given to excess. It is a fatal consequence of their life and of the union which they form with their ship: once they come ashore, they run riot.

As a result of this undisciplined spirit and of the great number of highly qualified workers among their ranks, the Kronstadt sailors an eminent role in the revolutions of both 1905 and 1917 as agents of the destruction of the bourgeois state. These highly qualified workers acted as a moral cement, transforming the indiscipline of the mass into a revolutionary factor.

But these revolutionary proletarian elements have been singularly weakened during the last three years. The former crews of Kronstadt have given the Soviet government thousands upon thousands of fighters, who, in all the armies, in all the services, have played the most glorious role in the defence and the reconstruction of Soviet Russia. Only an insignificant of these former militants have remained at Kronstadt and all of these now occupy command positions, they constitute the Communist apparatus of the fleet and it is against them that the new crews have rebelled. Where have these new crews of the fleet been recruited from? Finland and the Baltic provinces no longer belonging to Russia, there only remains Southern Russia and the coasts of the Black Sea. In the main, the fleet is now composed of peasant elements from the Ukraine. Before, specialist sailors were principally metalworkers; the necessity of keeping the latter in war industries meant that many young bourgeois who had had to interrupt their studies as a result either of the war or the revolution, were attracted into the fleet by the relatively good conditions that it offered them. If we add to this the fact that the Communist organisation in Petrograd has been badly weakened by the departure of tens of thousands of members going to literally guard the Revolution in all corners of Russia, we can understand that the work of politically educating the sailors had greatly suffered. Finally, we must say that the Kronstadt sailors had a very clear idea of their own strength. They were still bathed in the halo of their revolutionary past; they guarded the gates of Petrograd; their little isle is like the Helgoland of revolutionary Russia. Such are the local particularities which made the Kronstadt uprising possible and which gave it its original colour. In a general sense and in the first instance, it is the discontent of the peasant and the Ukrainian peasant which is expressed in this mutiny. After the liquidation of the fronts, the majority of sailors were off on leave at home. They had heard everywhere that there was no longer any danger from the Whites, and they had been struck by complaints about food requisitioning. In the Ukraine people spoke of the merciless struggle waged by the Soviet government against the bands which pillaged, burned and cut the rail-roads under the Anarchist flag of Makhno. More than one sailor never returned at all from leave, and some went over to Makhno’s side. In an article that a fugitive sailor wrote in Milyukov’s newspaper, to characterise the uprising at Kronstadt, he frankly recognised that Makhno’s calls to pillage pleased the sailors a lot and in any case played on their natures (edition of 17th March 1921). A characteristic fact is that four members of the “revolutionary committee” of Kronstadt are the children of Ukrainian peasants and that the more influential amongst them, Petritchenko, had been nicknamed “Petlioura” by his friends.

The peasant believes that he has nothing more to fear from feudal land-owners. He now demands of the Soviet government to reduce the demands placed upon him. The same tendency has had an impact on the little island of Kronstadt. The son of the peasant, held there on a ship under a rigid discipline, saw in the Communists in the fleet, people who were demanding from him submission to discipline, when no more Entente squadrons were to be seen. And the Communists who were demanding this discipline of him were the same who were demanding the peasant give up his grain. At the same time the Kronstadt sailor feels himself to be a born revolutionary, he does not have the slightest intention of aiding the capitalist, the Tsarist general or the fat landlord to regain their dominion. His protest against the demands placed on the peasant as well as against revolutionary discipline and order, is not in his opinion an expression of a counter-revolutionary tendency; on the contrary, this protest his, he thinks, surely an extension of the October Revolution. “We made the revolution, we proclaimed Soviet power; but who exercises power now? The Communist Party. It’s the Soviets who should hold and exercise power, it is the masses. We must found a real Soviet power.”  This tendency had been determined by the public discussions over all the questions which had accumulated over three years of war within the Communist Party [cette tendance avait été determine par la discussion publique maintenant engage de toutes les questions accumulées pendant trios années de guerre au sein du Parti Communiste]. In the Communist press and in Communist meetings, it was openly said that over the course of long years of struggle the organism of the Soviets had developed a parasitic, bureaucratic tendency. One often heard talk of the necessity of purging the Communist Party of all its careerist elements. Kronstadt had heard all that, and their essentially peasant psychology (albeit transformed by the conditions of life as sailors) conceived of these problems as being inherent in Soviet Russia. [Cronstadt avait entendu tout cela, et la psychologie essentiellement paysanne, mais transformée par les conditions de vie, des matelots concut ces defaults comme inherents a la Russie des Soviets]

In this general conception, there is a mixture of anarchism which rejects all bureaucracy and centralisation, of SR-ism, and a syndicalism which affirms that the worker, like the peasant, should be master of what he himself makes. All these tendencies are summed up in the demand for the re-election of the Soviets, re-election which would free them from the influence of the Communist Party in general. The syndicalist side has seduced a part of the workers of Kronstadt, for whom the direct domination of the proletariat over all factories is the same as the appropriation by the worker of the product of his work; the legal right to relieve his poverty through the sale of the instruments of his work and, eventually, of the produce of his labour as well. What’s more, the people at Kronstadt were isolated. They had heard talk of peasant movements about which exaggerated tales were being spread (they received White newspapers from Finland); they had heard of the poverty and the strikes which gripped Petrograd, among workers who had hoped that with the end of the war would come an improvement in their situation. In this atmosphere, the clandestine organisations of Right SRs and Left SRs, of anarchists, of Mensheviks and, in the background and unbeknownst to the sailors, the Monarchist counter-revolutionary conspiracy of the artillery commander Kozlovski, all these forces acted efficiently. The sailors did not think to rise up, they assembled in stormy meetings where they met with the commissar of the fleet Kouzmin, much-respected by them, and Zinoviev. On the very day of the uprising, Kalinin, president of the Executive Central Committee, to which they accorded great weight and importance, spoke to them in Anchor Square, in Kronstadt. At mid-day, the sailors’ delegates met to discuss the re-election of the Soviet. During the discussion, news arrived that great detachments of soldiers were marching against them. This was nothing but a provocation, the means chosen by the SRs or even the Monarchists to transform the conflict into an armed confrontation. In order to guarantee themselves against any surprise, the sailors established patrols, it was insinuated to them that these would be useless, that the Petrograd Soviet would attack anyway, as the Communists did not want to concede the re-election; they had to, so the sailors were told, take some hostages in order to assure the re-election, i.e. arresting all the Communists and in preventing people from Petrograd from coming to Kronstadt. The sailors placed an embargo on Petrograd and arrested the Communists. The struggle is provoked. The Soviet government naturally could not tolerate the arrest of its representatives, the seizure of the fortress which guarded the approaches to Petrograd. The radio-telegraphic station of the dreadnought Petropavlos sent coded telegrams to Reval and to Finland. It is clear that there was in Kronstadt a military staff for which the re-election of the soviets was merely a pretext, and which is capable of turning Kronstadt over to the Entente. The Finnish Whites hurried to make contact with Kronstadt. The Soviet government ordered the sailors to lay down their arms, but they hope that their example will be followed in Petrograd and Moscow. Their leaders promise them that in a few days the government will be obliged to hold new general elections which will end with a Soviet government without a party, a Soviet government which will put everything right and satisfy everyone. The peasant will no longer have to give over his produce, and the worker will no longer be hungry. Finally the sailors are persuaded that after rising up against the government they will be held to account for their actions, and they stiffen their resistance. The government cannot wait any longer. It cannot for the simple reason that when the debacle spreads across the gulf of Finland and the Neva, the counter-revolutionaries will be able to push the sailors into an assault on Petrograd. And fate follows its course. The Gordian knot must be cut by the sword. Troops brought from the front, led by the attack battalion of trainee Red Army officers and delegates from the Party Congress, set out one night over the ice of the Gulf of Finland which is already beginning to break up. “Infantry has never before or since fought warships on ice”, proclaimed the soldiers of the Red Army. The example of Voroshilov, of Zatonsky and of Boubnov and so on, the example of the students of the military colleges, led the troops on and by daybreak they were on the firm ground of Kronstadt in the fire of the street-fighting against the insurgents. The resistance was bloody, but not as much as it could have been given the weapons that Kronstadt had at its disposal. During the final days the faith of victory had been shaken among the sailors and most likely even faith in the justice of their cause. This was above all because the counter-revolution, at first hidden in the background, acted more and more openly. The SR Tchernov imposed on the sailors the demand for the Constituent Assembly [“la Constituante”]. From Finland arrived, as representatives of the Red Cross, authentic Russian Whites, with the captain of the vessel Wilkins at their head, whom the old sailors knew as a military tyrant and who had only been able to escape their vengeance in 1917 by fleeing abroad. All this enlightened the masses and sapped confidence in the correctness of their cause. Kozlovsky’s people demanded more and more obedience to their orders, because without discipline the defence of the positions could not be assured. Their spies in Petrograd informed them that their uprising had not only failed to bring the mass of the workers along with it, but on the contrary had singularly repulsed them, such that the factories where dissension and ferment had been strongest, had now gone back to work having heard the cannon from Kronstadt.

Thus was Kronstadt stormed. The dead were still being buried when White newspapers arrived from Paris, Berlin and Prague, and it was seen then just how well the Soviet government was right to not consider the insurrection as the beginning of a third revolution but to brand it simply as a new counter-revolutionary attack.

2 – The New Plan of the Counter-revolution

Once the Russian counter-revolutionaries received news of the uprising, they forgot about the abyss separating them from Kronstadt. Savinkov, aide to Kerensky, who had had 10,000 peasants shot on the Galician front when they refused to take part in the murderous June Offensive of 1917, Savinkov, who in his Warsaw newspaper Svoboda, printed on Polish 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, strange as that may seem.", Savinkov, friend of Balakhovitch, the hero of the anti-Jewish pogroms of White Russia, wrote in his paper that the sailors of Kronstadt had absolved their sins thanks to their latest rising. "when the cruiser Aurora fired on Petrograd [an imaginary event] 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 November 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].

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.

The American and French governments immediately asked their agents in Helsingfors and Estonia to do all they could to provision the rioters of Kronstadt.

The counter-revolutionaries understood with an extraordinary clarity and breadth of mind the deeper significance of the events of Kronstadt. Milyukov's paper Dernières Nouvelles as well as Bourtzev's Cause Commune did not stop at offering immediate and categorical support for the sailors at Kronstadt, they also elaborated a tactical plan regarding the [acceptation] adoption of the demands of Kronstadt. This tactic was based on the recognition that every counter-revolutionary attack was doomed to failure as soon as it began to operate openly with the forces of the Entente and the old regime and had representatives of large landowners and capitalism at its head. The popular masses would not believe in the pure and disinterested intentions of the allies; they know very well that when these allies march against Soviet Russia it is with the intention of making her into a colony. The reason for the defeat of Denikin, Kolchak, etc., consisted, according to Milyukov, above all in that as representatives of the nobility they disgusted the peasants. The first conclusion that Milyukov draws from this fact is that the counter-revolutionary movement in Russia would only be able to win if it came from within and if it was purged (in appearance at least) of any feudal tendency. But, based on the events at Kronstadt, Milyukov has made a second theoretical step: he recognises that for neither the peasants, nor the workers, nor the soldiers of the Red Army, is the demand for a Constituent Assembly attractive. The sailors had risen up in the name of real Soviet power, but at the same time they cried: Down with the Communists! This "Down with the Communists!" was the reason Milykov accepted "real Soviet power".

When the Communist government falls, so will the only force which supports Soviet Russia in the fight against global capitalism, the only force capable, at present above all because it has won peace, of reconstructing normal life, the only force capable, as the most mature party of the revolutionary peasant and workers, of steering a course between all the rocks and guaranteeing the achievements of the Revolution. Soviets without Communists would represent nothing more than masses of hesitant workers, tired and dispersed; and they would be obliged to allow freedom of operations to all those bourgeois forces and organisations which were severely controlled under the government of Communist Soviets. The counter-revolutionary diaspora would begin to flow back into Russia, it would flood the organisations of the partyless Soviets with its own people, and would effectively take power. And so the moment would have arrived when real power was handed over to the juridical forms of the counter-revolution, when it judged this necessary. Milyukov's organ is even engaged in polemic with a doctrinaire SR, defending the Soviets not merely as administrative organs, but as governmental power: "The Soviets are not just consultative or legislative organs, they are the organs of state power in its entirety. And it is not the case that they could replace the Bolshevik state and form the base of a more normal organisation of provinces without breaking with the population. It goes without saying that they will be unable to fulfil this role reliably until after their re-election (8th March 1921). Milyukov, founder and ideological leader of the liberal Cadet Party, who appeared to be a blind and doctrinaire supporter of European parliamentarism, has understood that the destruction of the Communist Party would have been the destruction of the only force which allows Russia to persist as a major world-revolutionary force. Soviet Russia without the dictatorship of the Communists would be prey to the counter-revolution. He thus shows the annihilation of the Communist Party to be a decisive goal of the counter-revolution, while saying "Do not repel the masses of peasants and workers by raising demands for a return to bourgeois state forms. The form doesn't matter - only the content does."

In peasant Russia, after the annihilation of the Communist Party, [les travailleurs des campagnes] the toilers of the countryside would consolidate their power under the Soviet form as a conservative and bourgeois force, and the rest would follow on its own.

3 - The Lessons of the Kronstadt uprising

The tactic of the Russian counter-revolution which aims to break the power of Soviet Russia and overthrow the Communist Party, which seeks to lead the petit-bourgeois, semi-proletarian and peasant masses into struggle against the Communist Party, this plan of the Russian counter-revolution which is rushing to triumph in the name of a truly Soviet government and a "third revolution" will not succeed. The Communist Party is sufficiently supple and prudent, it is sufficiently in contact with the masses that it can thwart this tactic. In profiting from external respite [/respite from war] to diminish the size of the Red Army and reduce the demands upon the peasant, in contenting him at the same time with the produce of industry and foreign trade, the Party will re-forge links with the peasant. It will excite the initiative of the proletarian masses, to improve their material situation and to bring up to the front, into the Party, the most backward layers. From the present moment, several weeks after the Congress of the Communist Party, before all the consequences of its new policy can be seen, we can already feel a new wind blowing which is animating the popular masses, we can really feel that the Soviet government has ruined the counter-revolutionary plan to return on the back of the petite-bourgeoisie. But the fact that the Russian counter-revolution, in its struggle for power, has managed to use the demand for Soviets, Soviets under which it was earlier crushed, against the Communist Party, that is a fact of universal historic significance.

It is an expression of the revolutionary instinct of the Western proletariat that, in solidarity with Soviet Russia, which is seen to be the centre of the world revolution, it cried, "My country, right or wrong!", without allowing itself to be influenced by any idle gossip about the Communist Party's "terrorism", or its "opportunism". It has understood that the question was not to what degree communism could be realised in Russia - because communism cannot be established either promptly or in isolation in an agrarian country - but that the only important thing is that Russia was taken out of the hands of the counter-revolution, and that 100 million peasants and the economic forces of the largest country in Europe can no longer be used to economically or militarily support capitalism as it fights for its life, but on the contrary, they are being put to use in supporting the world proletariat fighting for a new social order. The global proletariat has thus understood, [s'il en etait ainsi, le Parti Communiste aura toujours raison s'il conserve le pouvoir entre ses mains] that insofar as this is the case, the Communist Party will always be in the right so long as it retains power. All of its acts must be judged from this point of view, including when, in order to win out against the counter-revolution's military assaults, the Party implacably rallies all of the resources of the country, including making certain concessions to petit-bourgeois elements, in order to break them from landlords and capitalists, agents of counter-revolution. The advanced sections of the proletariat, with their revolutionary instinct, have understood all this and they can now see how right those were who said "it is impossible to simultaneously support the Russian Revolution and fight the Communist Party". What Hilferding, Dittmann, Longuet, Bauer, have tried to do, i.e. to adopt one attitude towards the Communist Party and a different one towards the Russian Revolution - this in the context of the tactic adopted by the Russian counter-revolution during the Kronstadt events - appears like a deception, or, seen in the most favourable light, a self-deception. "Long live the Russian Revolution! Long live Soviet Russia! Down with the Russian Communists! Down with the dictators of Moscow!", cried Hilferding and Bauer, Longuet and Grimm. "Down with the dictators of Moscow!", replied the Tsarist finance minister Kokovsev, Milyukov the hero of the Dardanelles, the Paris stock exchange and General Wrangel. And they add: "Once the Russian Communist Party is beaten, the counter-revolution will, for a while at least, be able to dress itself up in the clothing of the Soviets". It's not the clothing that counts, but the person who wears it, and "Paris is worth a mass" [i.e. one should be prepared to cynically take part in a ritual in order to benefit politically]. The Hilferdings and Dittmanns, the Adlers, the Bauers, the Longuets and all these heroes of the two-and-a-half international appear here not as the right wing of the workers' revolution, but as the left wing of the global capitalist counter-revolution. The future historian of this great struggle to free the global proletariat will not omit to underline this fact, that when the Russian Communists filled with their bodies the breach made in the walls of Petrograd by the Kronstadt sailors, Freiheit wrote "Zinoviev, the corrupter of the Russian proletariat"; that Longuet and Bauer expressed their sympathies not with the Communists who were making a new rampart around Petrograd with their bodies on the ice of the Gulf of Finland - but with the unthinking tools of the world counter-revolution at Kronstadt.

The events of Kronstadt obliged the Western proletariat to draw other conclusions as well. They drew to a conclusion our discussions with that section of Communists who wished to oppose the Russian dictatorship, the dictatorship of the Communist Party, and the idea of the proletarian dictatorship altogether. The Laufenbergs and the Wolfheims who thought in 1919 that they could counterpose the dictatorship of the masses to the dictatorship of the Communist Party have explicitly passed over into the camp of counter-revolution. In their last brochure, Moscow and the German Revolution, they openly declare themselves to be enemies not only of the Communist Party but of Soviet Russia, denouncing the Soviet government before the German working masses, as a bad new version of Tsarism. The Ruhles and company have taken their hatred of the idea of a revolutionary party so far as to ally with Dittmann and Cie to fight against the so-called 'despotism' of the Russian Communist Party. They have even been denounced by the German Communist elements who had previously been morally in agreement with them, as counter-revolutionaries. But this evolution could only be led to a full conclusion if the Communist International, in all of its sections, could grasp the universally valid lessons of Kronstadt and of the new tactic of the Russian counter-revolution.

That which is specifically Russian in these events is that, firstly, the proletarian layer is much thinner in Russia than in the West; secondly, the petit-bourgeois layers are much more powerful in Russia than in England or Germany, and consequently their influence on the working class is stronger than it would be elsewhere, and for this reason, the petit-bourgeois oscillations of the working class are much greater in Russia than in Europe. In the West, the struggle will be more difficult because the bourgeoisie is better organised than in Russia. Logistical difficulties will be ten times greater than in Russia, and there will arise situations where large masses of workers hesitate, and even consider capitulating before the bourgeoisie, or where the dictatorship of the proletariat will only be able to be sustained as the steel-hard dictatorship of its Communist vanguard. For, as with the declaration of the centrists that they are for the proletarian dictatorship but against terrorism, which simply shows that these elements are not prepared to use all possible methods of struggle for the victory of the working masses and that they are ready to flee or betray; so in all difficult situations the cry of "For the dictatorship of the entire working class, against the dictatorship of the Communist Party!" is an indication that these elements are not ready to fight until even the most backward layers of the working class are already joining battle, i.e. when the struggle is already easy, when it is not necessary to spill blood or suffer hunger and cold. In our brochure, Dictatorship of the Working Class and the Dictatorship of the Communist Party, oublished in the summer of 1919, in response to Laufenberg and Wolfheim, we wrote,

"The Communist Party will not renounce, after the conquest of power, its combat organs. It will strictly concentrate its members, the best representatives of the dictatorship; it will always consult them on the question of which measures the organs of power must take. The Communist Party will always march at the head of the masses and their organisations in order to guarantee the dictatorship. For the dictatorship of the proletariat will not be conquered once and for all: until the definitive victory, it will have to be conquered and reconquered every day. The working mass, today divided into layers of unequal ability to struggle, must be animated with the firm intention of fighting, in the course of the progress of the revolution, to make the dictatorship possible. But this combative spirit is very relative in its generality. Certain parts of the proletariat will always have, during the organisation of the proletarian dictatorship, a hostile or indifferent attitude. And the mass, which will celebrate on the day of victory, may well hesitate in the days of great difficulties, defeats, and it may even despair of victory and long to capitulate. The proletarian revolution does not bring with it an immediate relief of poverty, and in certain circumstances, it may even temporarily worsen the situation of the proletariat. The adversaries of the proletarian will take advantage of this opportunity to demand the government of the workers themselves; it is for this reason that it will be necessary to have a centralised Communist Party, powerful, armed with the means of the proletarian government and determined to conserve power for a certain time, even only as the Party of the revolutionary minority, while waiting for the conditions of the struggle to improve and for the morale of the masses to rise.

"Naturally, if the majority of the working class is taken in by illusions that it would be better off even in the chains of capitalist slavery than in fighting for its freedom, and if this majority becomes active in a difficult situation, in fighting against the dictatorship of the proletariat which the Communist Party is upholding, then the latter will be incapable of retaining its position. But for as long as the an improvement in the situation can be hoped for, the Party must steadfastly defend its position. When conditions improve, the working class will once again back the Communist Party and it will be able to fight on and achieve its decisive victory. The liberation of the working class can only be won by the workers themselves, by the fighting majority of the working class; but, in its struggle for liberation, there can arise situations where the revolutionary minority of the working class must shoulder the full weight of the struggle and where the dictatorship of the proletariat can only be maintained, provisionally at least, as the dictatorship of the Communist Party. And this situation has arisen more than once in Russia."

We are convinced that in the light of the events at Kronstadt, the Communist elements which have so far not understood the role of the Party during the revolution, will at last learn the true value of these explanations, as well as the resolution of the 2nd Congress of the Communist International on the subject of the role of the Party. We will not draw the full benefit of this lesson - that the Party of the proletariat has been able to preserve power in its hands in the face of a petit-bourgeois counter-revolutionary uprising, even when that uprising bases itself on working-class discontent - if it is only understood in Russia. It must be realised that, if the Communist Party can only triumph when it has the support of the mass of workers, there will nevertheless arise situations in the West where it will have to, for a certain period, keep power using solely the forces of the vanguard.

It must be understood at all times that the Communist Party is the soul of the revolution and the keystone of the dictatorship of the proletariat.

The struggle which the Communist Party of Russia is currently fighting to strengthen its influence over the working masses who are not yet communists, for the awakening of initiative in these masses, is the complement of its firm decision to retain power by all possible means. And this decision must serve as an example to Communists in all other countries. That is the greatest lesson of the Kronstadt events, the international lesson.


Moscow, the 1st of April 1921

Last updated on 09.02.2017