The Kronstadt Mutiny

Kronstadt and the Stock-Exchange

Transcribed and HTML markup for the Trotsky Internet Archive by David Walters

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We find some remarkably instructive echoes of the Kronstadt events in the Paris financial and economic newspaper L’Information. This organ most directly and fully reflects the French and international stock-exchanges. The Kronstadt events have found expression not in political articles or ‘slogans’ of any kind, but in dry accounts of the moods of the stock-exchange and its transactions. In the March 8 issue of L’Information we find a message from Brussels dated March 5. I will quote an extract verbatim: ‘The news – to be sure, not yet official – of large-scale disorders in Russia, directed against the Soviet dictatorship, has had a strong effect in improving the state of the market. Everyone realises what the consequences for the whole world would be if the Soviet regime in Russia were to collapse ... We may hope to see in the near future the establishment in the former Empire of the Tsar of a rational form of economic organisation, corresponding to the needs of the post-war period. This would mean hope for the restoration of many Belgian-owned industrial enterprises in Russia, and at the same time would be a direct blow at Bolshevik intrigues in Belgium and outside Russia generally.’

Thus, the Brussels stock-exchange is quite uninterested in how the slogans of the SR Petrichenko differ from the inten-tions of General Kozlovsky and the historical philosophy of the Menshevik Dan. The stock-exchange is clever enough to appreciate that what matters is not these nuances and verbal hairsplittings. The stock-exchange realises very well that only two regimes are possible in Russia: either the dictatorship of the Soviets, led by the Communist Party, the only historical party capable of leading the revolution, or the dictatorship of French, Belgian or other capital exercised through the agency of the Russian counter-revolution. Petrichenko, Dan, Kozlovsky, Chernov, Makhno – these are only little screws in the mechanism which is to wrest power from the hands of the proletarian dictatorship and give it to imperialism.

In the March 9 issue of this same L’Information we find the bulletin of the Paris stock-exchange for March 8. At the beginning it is said that the stock-exchange had until recently been experiencing ‘its usual inertia’, but in the last few days it has started to move, thanks, above all to the ‘favourable news’ about extensive revolts in Russia, threatening the rule of Bolshevism. ‘All sections of the stock-exchange experienced animation, to a greater or lesser degree. But it was the group of Russian stocks that attracted most attention, for reasons that are becoming more and more solid.’ This is followed by the rates at which Russian securities were being quoted on the Paris stock-exchange.

The language of these figures is very much clearer, more precise, more convincing, more serious than the slogans fabricated by the SRs of Reval, the Berlin Mensheviks (Martov and Abramovich) and Makhno’s Anarchists, their allies. Makhno demands (or, more correctly, demanded) free people’s Soviets. Martov and Dan demand independent trade unions and an all-round mitigation of the dictatorship. Petrichenko wants Soviets without Communists. Chernov advocates a Constituent Assembly. General Kozlovsky does not hasten to speak of the monarchy, but merely offers his services for firing on the Bolsheviks. Milyukov, in his Paris newspaper, is also not interested, for the time being, in the slogans put out by Petrichenko and Dan, but bides his time and collects (belatedly, alas) from among the Russian capitalists and financiers abroad millions of francs for aid to the rebels. Meanwhile the European stock-exchange notes calmly, pencil in hand: ‘In Petrograd the Mensheviks are kicking up a row; Putilov Works shares rise in value by 10 francs. Chernov promises to open the Constituent Assembly; another 5 francs marked up. At Kronstadt the artillery has spoken in the name of the Soviets against the Communists; that means that the Belgian capitalists will get back their works and mines in the Donbas – a rise for those shares of 20-30 francs.’

If we take the bulletins of the stock-exchanges of Europe, and especially of France, for February and March, and draw a graph of the movement of Russian stocks, we can quite clearly see that the White-Guard, Menshevik or SR slogans were being quoted on the stock-exchange at a perfectly uniform and per-fectly insignificant figure. But as soon as these slogans were combined with artillery, their value at once rose to a fairly high point.

The counter-revolutionary scoundrels, the SR windbags and simpletons, the Menshevik foxes and the Anarchist hooligans all, consciously or unconsciously, from cunning or from craziness, perform one and the same historical role: they co-operate with all attempts made to establish the unrestricted rule of the bandits of world imperialism over the working people and over all natural wealth. Economic, political and national indepen-dence is possible for Russia only under the dictatorship of the Soviets. The spine of this dictatorship is the Communist Party. There is no other, nor can there be.

You want to break that spine, Messrs SRs and Mensheviks? So, then, the experience of four years of revolution has not been enough for you! Just try! Just try! We are ready to complete your experience.

March 23, 1921
Pravda, No.63

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Last updated on: 28.12.2006