March 1921 - March 2001: 80 Years Ago, The Proletarian Uprising in Kronstadt was Suppresed by the Capitalistic State in Russia

To stand by the side of the insurgents in Kronstadt doesn't have anything to do with to be devoted to the cult of Kronstadt and the workers who made the Capital pay a high price for their skin; those who fell into this trap barely succeeded in strengthening the work of the counterrevolution while erecting one more mausoleum before which one makes proletarians kneel.

Submitted by redtwister on December 15, 2005

The prominent character of the revolutionary events in Kronstadt as well as in October 1917 doesn't lie in their immediate results (either defeat or victory), but in the impact that they had on the international revolutionary movement, in the role that they played towards the extension/resorption of the world revolution. In spite of thousands of kilometers that separated the revolutionary struggles in 1917-21 (partially victorious in some places and partially defeated elsewhere), and despite the intervals in time in the various revolutionary thrusts, it is the rising everywhere in the world of communist organizations tempting to put in common their experiences of struggles, that put a mark on the big revolutionary battles of this time. These organizations tempted, thanks to a work of international centralization, to develop/reinforce the communist program handed down by revolutionaries of the past, that years of social-democrat practice (marxist as well as libertarian) had nearly eliminated as material force. In a few months, a movement that was confined to some "left communist" and "anarchist" circles and sects expanded up to threaten the world State of capitalism, thanks to the revolutionary attempt of centralization realized while creating the IIIrd International.

To place Kronstadt in the totality of the revolutionary movement where October 1917 is the starting point, this is the class rupture imposed by the insurgents, that we entirely claim. Our understanding has nothing to do with the scientific analysis, the impartial description from historic commentators (from historiographers) who reduce the historic reality to definitively concluded events, isolated from any historic perspective where we get involved. These historians describe the social struggles idea through individuals directly in contention, without showing that the struggles of the proletariat through the time are the products of world class antagonisms and not of the will, the courage of such or such individuals.

The class rupture proclaimed by the insurgents themselves pushes aside all the thurifiers of Kronstadt who concealed the inseparable revolutionary content of Kronstadt and October 1917. But for the bourgeois common sense, the same "individuals" cannot take sides once with the revolution and another time with the reaction, "revolution" having no other meaning but to celebrate this bourgeois individual in his new citizen's suit. On the contrary, the common essence of Kronstadt 1921 and October 1917, defines the communist revolution not as the work of brilliant individuals, but as a social upheavals process taking place and exacerbating itself under the thrusts of class contradictions, until the resolution of the contradiction of class societies into Communism. It is an idealist withdrawal on himself to understand the insurrection in Kronstadt as "the pure explosion of liberty", as well as to image October 1917 in Russia as "the great evening" where the world would have been upset overnight by the institution of the dictatorship of the proletariat. To put things like that, as it would seem to be necessary to polarize them while excluding them, this means to confine the revolutionary movement to a succession of events isolated the ones and the others, good or bad, victorious or defeated, that follow a progressive plan where the movement takes place in a regular and linear way, either in a revolutionary or in a counterrevolutionary course. In the reality, the revolutionary movement advances on the contrary by springing. Facing the pressure of the counterrevolution and facing the social antagonisms exacerbation that follows, the proletariat is obliged to make the criticism of the past struggles, in order to succeed in defining better its strategy, in correcting its weaknesses. The class constitutes itself as a Party through the century-old struggles that the communists examine closely and critically, in order to no more reproduce the defeats of the past. The universality of the capitalistic State, of the commodity and its unceasing metamorphoses determines the communists to push this criticism of the revolutionary movement until the universal resolution of classes contradictions. For the communists who constitute the revolutionary vanguard, there doesn't therefore exist any victory that cannot turns into a defeat and vice versa. There is no place where the capital has been abolished and that would constitute a "red" sanctuary, without the destruction of the world State of the Capital thanks to the victory of the international revolution. There is no antagonism between a partial struggle and the historic goal, because although the revolutionary movement necessarily appears as partial, every affirmation really contains and sets out the development of the international centralization, the world interests of the proletarian class. The revolutionary movement, destructive of the society, is necessarily based on ruptures (rupture of the proletarians in Kronstadt with the so-called "Workers' State in Russia") and these express themselves by the self-criticism of the revolutionary movement. The criticism thus becomes itself material force, integral part of the revolutionary action of the proletariat.

The radical criticism made by the insurgents in Kronstadt of the so-called "Worker's State in Russia" agrees with and reinforces all the practical/critical action of the left communists who formed, in spite of their weaknesses, the vanguard of the revolutionary movement in 1917-21. But the defeat of the rebellion in Kronstadt as well as the left communists' one in the CI doesn't mean the funeral of the revolution. The no-abdication of the insurgents in Kronstadt, who didn't disown the world revolution even when the bourgeoisie managed to strike it decisively, is organically connected with a practice of Party, with the revolutionary Party whose representatives are excluded from the CI at the same time (June 1921) for also not having disowned the international revolution and for having tempted to constitute a communist direction to the class movement. An organization as the KAPD fully found itself with the insurgents in Kronstadt because of its struggle of fraction within the CI against the majority social-democrat tendencies and the bourgeois positions adopted by the "communist" parties in favor of parliamentarianism and trade-unionism... and especially because of its active and leading role in the workers' struggles in March 1921 in Germany. In the same way, some groups of the internationalist communist left such as the Italian Fraction around the review "Bilan" and the Belgian Fraction which, leaning on a critical work of the revolutionary movement, defended the revolutionary interests of the proletarians in Spain in 1936 and 1937, against the repression of the "antifascist republican front and its anarchist ministers", identical repression in its bourgeois nature with the one of bolshevik government against Kronstadt. These communists didn't cling to communism as to a dogma while doing a new religion of it, with its bible and its saints; their practical/critical attitude faithful to the revolutionary movement of the proletariat didn't have as objective to acquire a place as guard of "the Marxist orthodoxy", as well as the insurgents in Kronstadt didn't made of October 1917 a sacred monument, but they set up the foundations for a clarification and a development of the historic program of the revolution, thanks to their essential criticism of the movement, certainly not entirely elaborated.

Only the action of the communists, drawing lessons from the revolutionary experiences of the proletariat, allowed that Kronstadt is nowadays useful for the world proletariat as reference as well as October 1917, Berlin 1918-19, Barcelona 1937, etc. Without this militant work of left communism groups, we would still flounder in the social-democrat swamp where October 1917 is confused with any kind of accession of the left to the government and where the workers' struggles in Kronstadt are useful as leitmotif for the setting up of anarchist ministries, as in 1936 in Spain.

Kronstadt illustrates how the communist movement, thanks to the revolutionary criticism that the class contradictions depth obliges it to incessantly lead, manages to reemerge from the most biting defeat and to regenerate itself until the moment of a new decisive confrontation. The revolutionary movement indeed draws its strength from its defeats, thanks to the militant work of its communist fractions which draw the lessons of the struggles, against the current, and make them rise again, after a long and difficult way, more compact, more sharp and powerful.