Bolshevik matters - Karl Kautsky

Karl Kautsky
Karl Kautsky

5 fragments of Kautsky on Bolshevik related matters published here for the first time.

Submitted by Noa Rodman on December 29, 2013

[First fragment. Anecdote used in Von der Demokratie zur Staatssklaverei (1921), reply to Trotsky's Terrorism and Communism (Anti-Kautsky). This story is corroborated in "Dear Comrades: Menshevik Reports on the Bolshevik Revolution and the Civil War" (186-191 p.).]

Mensheviks and Denikin

Komorowcky recounts that in Bryansk in the time of Denikin, the Bolsheviks said that the Mensheviks are in alliance with Denikin. They thereby achieved that the workers who adhered to the Mensheviks declared themselves for Denikin and resisted recruitment to the red army.

It required the agitation of the Mensheviks to make it clear to the workers, that the Bolsheviks lied, and that the Mensheviks considered the repulse of Denikin as their duty. Then they let themselves be recruited and their regiment counted among the best in the campaign against Denikin.

[Second fragment]

Terrorism against the Commune

La Commune de Paris. Actes et Documents.
Épisodes de la Semaine Sanglante. Préface de G. Zinoviev.
Editions de l'Internationale Communiste. N.44. Petrograd 1920.
Preface dated 2 June 1920.

Publishes among other things excerpts from the book of Camille Pelletan on the Commune, in which the Bloody Week of May is described. At the conclusion of the introduction to this the author [Victor Serge, 60 p.] remarks:

"The bourgeois Third Republic was founded on this mass grave, with the assistance of the butcher Gallifet, as the Second was founded in 1848 on the heaps of corpses piled up in the worker neighborhoods by the executioner Cavaignac. These are the noble origins of bourgeois republics."

So abhorrence of bloodshed! But just that of others.

One need only take bourgeois republic and put soviet republic, and today's situation is characterized.

For Trotsky these words do not mark the bourgeois republic, but any political struggle. Are a general law.

[Third fragment. On the first 4 chapters of Lenin's The Infantile Sickness of "Leftism" in Communism, 1920 (French translation, Petrograd).]

Le Communisme de Gauche

Russian example

Russia has become an example now. Cites article by me in Iskra 1902 "The Slavs and Revolution". But I speak there only of Russia as revolutionary, not socialist factor. (p. 4)


Bolsheviks victorious only by iron discipline and willing devotion of the proletariat (p. 5)

Dictatorship necessary because small-scale production still strong and therefore always recreates capitalism. (So dictatorship necessary in order to overcome economic laws. Fine Marxism! ) (p. 6)


Lenin expresses himself that of all the socialist parties only the Bolsheviks during the war created illegal organization - in Switzerland! (11). compare 17*
[*"... in 1908-14 the Bolsheviks ...upheld ... that it was obligatory to combine legal and illegal forms of struggle, and ... to participate even in a most reactionary parliament.."]

Particularly dishonorable the USPD, the Longuetists and the I.L.P.! (12)
We are all bankrupt since we have not understood role of the Soviets. (12)


When in Russia 1905 and later no anarchism, so thanks to the Bolsheviks, who were against opportunism (14). But also because 1870-80 it was very strong and showed its whole unfitness.


Marxism of the Bolsheviks is that they always are thoughtful of power-relations of classes (and economic condition of society? Thereof Lenin remains silent). (14)

German communists

Besides Russia, it are the German Communists, who provide the best heads in the international proletariat (eg Stöcker and Däumig*).
[*Walter Stoecker and Ernst Däumig]

Left Communists against Brest

Lefts under Bolsheviks like Radek and Bukharin against peace of Brest-Litovsk, because compromise with imperialism. Recognized later their error (17).

Against compromises of others

But others may not compromise, because the compromises of others are compromises against the proletariat.

(Likewise: We may carry on terrorism, the others not). Conquistadors explained everything allowed for them because instrument of God. Likewise for Bolsheviks everything allowed because instrument of the proletariat)*
[*Analogy used in ]

[Fourth fragment, on the Chekas (Extraordinary Commissions)]

Tschreswitschaika. Its organization and powers.

The chairmen, frequently also the other members of the Cheka are appointed by the Moscow head office in all parts of the empire.

Each Cheka consists of a large police apparatus.

Every of its agents has the right to arrest anyone who seems suspicious to them. If he catches someone in flagrante on one of the prohibited acts, he has the right to kill him immediately, even if the delinquent doesn't resist.

Who is arrested, appears before a member of the Cheka, usually a young guy, from whom blind loyalty and greatest ruthlessness is expected. Mostly people between 18-22 years. In the most favorable case, a student, often a wholly uneducated person, who only [barely] can read and write.

This one acts as examining judge, interrogates the accused, takes down with him a record, into which he writes of the statements what suits him. Witnesses are not heard.

The charge and the record come before a 3 member college of the Cheka.

On the basis of this [plaint] the college decides, without even hearing the accused, let alone witnesses. The whole procedure happens secretly, [until] the execution of the sentenced.

[Fifth fragment. This refers to the March 1920 Fourth Conference of the CP(b)U, see The Russian Communist Party and the Sovietization Of Ukraine (p.147-150, Borys, 1960), where the group of Democratic Centralism dominated (Sapronov, Dashkovskij).]

Opposition of Bolsheviks.

With the Bolsheviks an opposition occurs, assorted from different elements. Where it emerges openly, it is immediately repressed, by transferring its members. So Rakovsky in the Ukraine found himself even against a majority in the Ukrainian central council [sic? - committee]. He let these people be deported to the interior of Russia and has [put in a different slate]. Therefore even the opposition inside Bolshevism sees itself forced to organize itself illegally.

Source: IISH, Karl Kautsky Papers document nr.1812.


kautskybol.pdf (8.6 MB)


Noa Rodman

10 years 1 month ago

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Submitted by Noa Rodman on January 12, 2014

Can an admin approve the edit (I added a file), and also fix the links?


(btw the report of the 4th CP(b)U conference was published in 2003)