A 1924 article for Sylvia Pankhurst's Workers Dreadnought.
forming the Communist Workers'
International, it is important to explain clearly the revolutionary battle of
the proletariat, which is revealed in quite a new light by the Russian and
cannot do this better than by comparing the strength
of the opponents of
counter-revolutions with the strength of the proletariat in the light of the
Russian and German revolutions. Such a comparison will clearly demonstrate the
correctness of the programme of the Communist Workers'
International, and the necessity for its existence.
real countries of proletarian revolt are England and Germany, and parts of the
USA. These countries are truly proletarian, but history, as formerly in the
Paris Commune, has caused the revolution to break out in a country less
economically ready for it than they are. As happened formerly in France, the
Russian revolution is a demonstration as to how revolution should not be
made in proletarian countries. In just a few, but very important features, the
Russian revolution, like the Paris Commune, may be followed as an example by the
proletarian revolution in England, Germany, the USA, and other countries.
Russian Revolution was in most of its features a bourgeois-democratic one, that
is today only a capitalist revolution. Because it was partly proletarian, partly
democratic-capitalist, the Russian Revolution possesses a double character, and
has become an enormous new source of light for the proletariat of the world. In
so far as it was a proletarian revolution, it shows the proletariat the way to
victory. In so far as it was democratic-capitalist, the revolution reveals to
the proletariat new and powerful opponents, because a very large part of the
world is in the condition of Russia. The immense area which is in that condition
is indeed the larger part of the world. It includes almost the whole of Asia, as
well as South America, parts of Central and North America, and Africa. In this
area there is a rising proletariat amongst the peasants and the revolution is
threatening in many places. Workmen and peasants will take part in it. The
Russian Revolution, both geographically and economically stands between Eastern
America and West Europe, on the one hand, and Asia on the other. It throws out
its light to both sides.
it shows the proletariat a small but important part of what the proletariat must
do to make the socialist revolution.
 it shows to the agrarian people, inclining
towards capitalism, but rising to free themselves from feudal conditions, how
they can do this with the help of the proletariat, and how they can carry out
their bourgeois or peasant-capitalist revolution with the help of the
proletariat and by betraying the proletariat.
account of this double light which the Russian Revolution throws on the world
revolution, we must take it as a point of departure in clearly exposing
the conditions of the world proletarian struggle. The more is gradually
revealed by the Russian Revolution, the better we shall understand the task
shall begin with an exposition of the double character of the Russian Revolution
and deal with it now in detail. Already we have referred to it in a general way.
We shall thus deduce the strength of our opponents in Russia, Asia, and other
such territories, in order, later on, to make clear the connection between the
rising capitalism of Russia, Asia, and so on, with capitalism in Europe, which
is making a desperate fight to escape annihilation. From this we shall prove the
correct reasoning of the Communist Workers'
fundamental factor must always be borne in mind by the worker pondering over the
Russian Revolution. The population of Russia consists of 8 per cent
proletarians, and 80 per cent peasants. The proletarians desired communism, the
peasants wanted repartition of the soil and private ownership. As the peasants
amounted to 80 per cent of the population, and the proletarians to 8 per cent
only, the revolution was predominantly bourgeois.
proletarians were by far the most radical and determined class and amongst the
proletarians the Bolshevists, as the most coherent and determined organisation,
led the revolution and brought it to victory.
peasants subjected themselves to the proletariat only on condition that they
were all to be made private owners, and that the revolution should have a
bourgeois character. The proletariat could not refuse such conditions, if they
wanted to carry through a revolution, for without the support of the peasants
they could not have made the revolution at all.
the CWI has always been in all countries, we are the sharpest opponents of
the Mensheviks, Kautsky, the Independents, the bourgeois pacifists, etc., in
their conception that the Russian Revolution should have stopped short at the
bourgeois revolution. This conception is not only cowardly nonsense, for
this would have meant the victory of reaction and the return of the monarchy but
above all because when a proletariat sees the way to world revolution it has the
right and the duty to go that way. The possibility of the German and the world
revolution existed and still exists.
fault of the Bolshevists lies not in the bourgeois democratic measures which
they were and are forced to take. The fault lies in the programme and the action
which the Bolshevists prescribe to the European and American proletariat,
whereby they tried to block the way to the proletarian world revolution and make
the building up of world capitalism possible.
the Bolshevists have shown and proved the building up of the Russian democratic
republic is their aim, and not Russian Communism.
they have shown and proved, that they are following the peasants and that they
have put the peasant capitalist revolution above the proletarian revolution.
they have shown and proved that they have made cause with bourgeois capitalist
democracy and no longer with the proletariat.
order that the workers should understand these truths which are kept secret from
them, we shall now show in detail, which measures of the Bolshevists have a
proletarian, and which a democratic bourgeois character.
is well-known that the measures of the Bolshevists must be divided into two
parts; those from October 1917 to February 1921 (when the doings of Krondstadt
and Petrograd took place) and those of the so-called new tendency which began in
February, 1921. We shall see that the measures of both periods have, to a large
extent, a bourgeois character.
let us examine the measures of the first period. The chief characteristics of
the economic policy were at that time the nationalisation of industry, commerce
and transport, the State monopoly of the most important foodstuffs and raw
materials, conscript labour, regulation of the State in the industrial unions,
free maintenance, including free food, housing, fuel, clothing, etc., for the
workers, officials and townspeople in general, and the principle of giving
unpaid service to the State. All these measures were proletarian and
communistic, as was the establishment of workers' soviets.
establishment of peasants' soviets on the other hand was bourgeois
capitalistic, for it was certain that the peasants would fight for private
property and against communism.
proletarian revolution in Germany and England will never give the peasants
political rights till they have shown that they are really communists.
partition of the big estates, and of the land generally, was bourgeois, for this
distribution made enemies of communism the peasants, that is almost the entire
population of Russia.
only the richer and middle peasants were thus rendered antagonistic, but also
the small peasants, even the poorest of them, and those who were hitherto
its seizure of the land, the peasantry, now enormously swollen in numbers,
became the enemy of every kind of socialist agricultural society. A genuine
proletarian revolution will never admit of the partition of the soil. On the
contrary, it will allow all large landed properties to pass into communist
peasants, taking possession of the land made between the industrial town
proletariat and the rest of the population, an unbridgeable cleavage. The
boycott of the towns by the peasants and the keeping back of food from the
proletarians proves this. In the beginning the cleavage could only be bridged
over by capitalist means; that is to say by concessions to the capitalistically
minded peasants. The Bolshevists were by the distribution of the soil condemned
from the beginning to accept capitalism unless the world revolution should come
to their aid.
development after Krondstadt has shown this.
proclamation by the Bolshevists of the right to self-determination of all
nations caused the detaching from Soviet Russia of Finland, the Baltic
Provinces, Poland, the Ukraine, and the Caucasus. This resulted in the downfall
of the proletarian revolution in most of these countries.
self-determination slogan was a bourgeois-capitalist one. Either the Bolshevists
proclaimed it from weakness in the fear that if they did not give these States
their freedom they could not smash up Czarism, or, as it appears now, they
wanted, even then, a national Russian State. The doubts both as to the power of
Communism to triumph and the necessity of nationalism were inspired by the
enrolment of the proletariat into the Red Army was a proletarian-Communist
measure. The admission of the peasants into the army was a bourgeois-capitalist
measure, for the peasants would, and will, prove themselves enemies of
Communism, both economically and militarily.
the peasant was willing to fight against the counter-revolution, in so far as it
threatened the private property of the peasants in the soil. They fought against
Yudenitch, Koltchak and Wrangel. The Bolshevists might be able to keep both the
peasants and the proletarians in the army by giving them better food and
clothing than they could get outside, but could the peasants still fight for the
Bolshevists after their own private property was secured and the
counter-revolution of the big landowners no more? No, the peasants would
certainly not do that.
very interesting question in this regard was the fate of the Bolshevist campaign
in Poland in 1920. Why did the Russian Army then suddenly retire? When the
writer, on behalf of the Communist Workers' Party, asked this question in
Moscow at the sitting of the Executive of the Third International in November,
1920, Trotsky and Karsky gave no clear answer. The explanations were confused.
One said the fault lay with the civil service, another with the military. We now
believe that the true answer which was kept from us is that the peasants did not
want to continue the attack of European capitalism. As soon as their property
was secured against the foreigner they would not war any more against European
capitalism. The peasants are the majority of the Russian Army. One must no
longer reckon on their assistance in a European revolution.
genuine proletarian revolution will not have peasants in its army, for its army
must be wholly Communist.
peace of Brest-Litovsk was a bourgeois, or capitalist-Democratic one. A real
proletarian revolution would have remained the enemy of all capitalist Powers,
whilst waiting for and assisting the rising of the proletariat in other
was proletarian-Communist to give political power to the workers. It was
bourgeois to give it to the peasants. A proletarian revolution in Germany and
England will not give political power to such elements until their deeds have
proved them Communists.
suppression of the independence and self-expression of the workers was also
bourgeois-capitalist. The workers and their organisations did not get the
leadership and control of industry, transport and distribution.
Bureaucratic despotism of the leaders was also bourgeois-capitalist. The
corruption was also bourgeois-capitalist.
party dictatorship of the Bolshevists was in the highest degree bourgeois. Party
dictatorship will always become so. In leader-dictatorship lies the kernel of
the bourgeois capitalist revolution, and in it is the greatest proof that the
Russian revolution was chiefly, and in its origin, a bourgeois capitalist one.
party dictatorship was in its origin bourgeois capitalist. It began through the
power of the peasants, the non-proletarian class. A party dictatorship could
overpower and lead the peasant class in Russia. A proletarian class dictatorship
could not do this, for a dictatorship of the proletarian class will always
aspire to pure Communism. Once it has the power to govern the proletariat will
not content itself with less. The enormous power, the great numbers of the
peasants prevented pure Communism from being achieved.
proletariat as a class could not lead the dictatorship. This could only be done
by a party -
the Bolshevist Party, and this only by NOT
introducing pure Communism, by making concessions to the peasantry, the private
owners of the land, and to the capitalists. A proletarian class would never do
this. The awakened proletariat will not make concessions; it will demand
everything for itself. Its watchword will remain unto the end:
have nothing: we shall be everything".
Bolshevist party held the dictatorship through the might and power of the
peasants. This party dictatorship, because of the might of the peasants, was of
necessity mainly capitalistic. It dominated, instead of representing the
proletariat, over which it was the despot. It may be that this dictatorship was
inevitable; it may be that, under the circumstances, it was the best that could
be had; nevertheless, it was a despotism. It dictated to the workers what
concessions they must make and what advantages were to be given to the peasants.
could not have been otherwise in a land so largely agrarian. Having originated
from the power of the peasants; the dictatorship of the Bolshevists was
are proud that Rosa Luxemburg in her voice from the grave has pointed out the
nature of the party dictatorship and its effect on the revolution just as we
have done. She says a few dozen party leaders of inexhaustible energy and
endless idealism direct and rule. Amongst them are in reality one dozen eminent
heads who lead and an elite of the workmen which is called from time to time to
applaud the speeches of the leaders and to vote unanimously for the resolutions
laid before them. At bottom, therefore, it is a clique arrangement -
dictatorship it is true; but not a dictatorship of the proletariat, simply a
dictatorship of a handful of politicians; in short a dictatorship in the
dictatorship . . . But this dictatorship must be the work of the class and not
that of a leading minority in the name of the class; that is to say, it must,
step by step, arise from the active participation of the class, remain under its
direct influence, and be subordinated to the control of publicity and be the
outcome of the political experience of the whole people".
Communist Workers' Party and the Communist Workers' International can echo
the words of Rosa Luxemburg, but instead of the "whole people" we always
read the proletariat.
Luxemburg did not understand that all this could not happen in Russia; that no
class dictatorship was possible there, because the proletariat was too small and
the peasantry too mighty.
did not see, because her life was too short, that the Bolshevists had built
their party dictatorship not only out of the might of the peasants, but that
they were compelled to use their dictatorship through the might of the peasants
for the bourgeois revolution in Russia. They used their party dictatorship
always more in the interests of the peasants -
that is to say, in the interests of capitalist private property, and against the
proletariat and Communism.
productive and class conditions in Russia forced the revolution to be to a great
extent a bourgeois one. The proletarian class conditions gave the Bolshevists
the leadership. This leadership could not, on account of the productive and
class conditions, be a class dictatorship; it had to be a party dictatorship,
and these very conditions compelled the party dictatorship to be a bourgeois
dictatorship is typical of a bourgeois revolution, in a society based on private
By such a revolution one class dispossesses another class, but itself remains on
the basis of private property. The newly risen class uses and cheats the class
bourgeois revolution is always a revolution of a minority against the majority.
proletarian revolution which aims at being truly Communist, must be a revolution
of the majority against the minority. Therefore
it must take place, or at least have its beginning, in a truly proletarian
the revolution comes from the majority, or, at least represents the interests of
the majority, then it does not require a party dictatorship, it has no need to
cheat the masses by such means. Then the dictatorship of the class is
Party dictatorship in Russia was the surest sign that the revolution was
shall postpone, till we have treated the second period, a detailed exposure of
the fact that even in the first period of their power the Bolshevists showed
their bourgeois-democratic or capitalist policy by their influence on the
proletariat in other countries through the Third International.
shall sum up the first period by saying that even in their so-called Communist
revolutionary stage the Bolshevists proved their capitalist character by the
distribution of the soil, their slogan of self-determination of all nations, the
peace of Brest-Litovsk, by admitting the peasants to the Soviets and giving them
political power, and finally by their party dictatorship.
shall now examine the second period, which began after February, 1921.
both the peasants and the proletariat, under the guidance of the Bolshevists,
had fulfilled their historic mission in striving, the proletariat to establish
Communism, the peasants to establish the democratic-capitalist Republic.
February 1921, the rising in the fortress of Krondstadt, on the battleships
and in Petersburg, broke out. Then -
as by a breath -
Communism collapsed. Its foundations disappeared in an instant. It may be argued
that the rising was very insignificant considering the huge size of the country.
Moreover, the peasants were not, and are not, organised as a class; but the
small act of a small group of peasants was sufficient -
it is said that the warships were mostly manned by peasants' sons.
Bolshevist party represented principally the vast millions who wanted land, and
as soon as quite a small section of those millions showed that they wanted
something more than land, the party at once gave way, and the proletariat, out
of which the party had been evolved, had finished with its Communism. The
proletariat was made the servant of the peasantry, the proletariat had to secure
under the orders of its own party, which was, from now, no longer the
representative of the proletariat and its Communism, but of the peasantry and
shall recapitulate now the greatest changes in the changing over to capitalism,
not in their chronological order, which is of small importance here, but to
explain what has happened. The reader must understand that behind all these
changes is the hidden influence of the peasants, which did not even move as a
mass, which was not even organised. It only showed itself locally, but by its
enormous numbers it made the whole Bolshevist party its tool. It was like an
elementary power which forced the Bolsheviks -
even men like Lenin -
to stand against the class from which the Bolshevists had sprung, and which was
inimical to the peasantry.
can cite examples from the bourgeois revolutions where the representatives of a
class were compelled to rise against their class by the power of other classes.
But in these bourgeois revolutions both or all the bourgeois classes, that is to
say, the landed proprietors, industrialists and financiers stood on this same
basis. Such a fight was always small. But here in Russia the representatives of
quite a new world -
Communist one -
were opposed to the reactionaries who wanted to be the builders of the old
capitalist order. They did what the reactionaries wanted, though it was against
their own class. What the reactionaries wanted, of course, was to build up
resistance all that was Communist disappeared. Industry was denationalised, at
first partly. The absolute State monopoly of the most important food stuffs and
raw materials was cancelled; the State regulation of trade unions was abolished.
Private trading, at first only internal, afterwards also with foreign countries,
was again introduced; the principle of unpaid service to the State disappeared;
the principle of the free maintenance of the workers and employees was
abandoned, and the wage system re-introduced.
vanished like a ghost into the background, and capitalism re-appeared, even
stronger, in the foreground.
us recall its main work, in detail, so that proletarians may see how capitalism
is made by Communists in a peasant State. Thus the workers in Western Europe may
no longer be fooled, but may learn that they who are not dwelling in a State
controlled by peasants can bring about Communism.
property re-appeared, and how? We take the following extract from a decree of
the Russian Soviet Republic, dated 27th May, 1921 (published in Izvestia
of June 18th, and in the French newspaper, Journal des Débats,
in a French translation by a Russian delegate at the Hague Congress).
citizens have the right to engage in industrial and commercial occupations.
right is founded on:
The right to hold property in houses, including the right to sell them, and to
sell or let the ground on which such houses are situated.
The right to make contracts with local authorities to build on urban and rural
land, with the right of ownership for 49 years.
The right to own houses, factories and workshops, industrial and commercial
undertakings, machinery, and means of production, agricultural and industrial
property, financial capital.
The right to mortgage these properties or to borrow money on land.
The right to inventions, trade marks, and author's royalties.
The right of married people and their children to testamentary or legal
inheritance, up to 10,000 gold roubles, the right of legal enforcement of
private ownership of the soil naturally re-appeared. The law of May 15th
states, it is true, that the whole land belongs to the Republic. In fact, under
the mantle of the Socialist State the law gives the peasants full ownership. For
the law declares that a peasant can only lose the right to use the soil, on
If he himself ceases to use it;
For criminal reasons;
If the State claims the soil for its own purposes.
are a few other restrictions, but in the main they are rules for personal
acquisition of property. The Soviet Republic has returned to the policies of
Stolypin, the last minister of the Czar.
law makes two important stipulations. It gives the peasants the right to sub-let
their land for one year (or, in exceptional cases, for two years).
second and more important stipulation is the cancelling of the order which
forbade the hiring of workmen. This is now permitted if all the members of a
peasant family are at work.
carrying out of the law regarding rent and the hiring of workers is left to the
Peasant Committees; that it to say, the Soviet State gives the peasant absolute
freedom on these important points. Agriculture thus becomes the basis of a
capitalist State. In the present condition of Russia this will not be a rapid
process, but if the harvests are good it will be more rapid than many people
and landlords are created, and a rural proletariat is formed. A home market
springs up and becomes the basis for the wholesaler and a reservoir of workers
owning nothing but their labour, which may be exploited by capitalist industry
is the way Russia will go if the European revolution does not come to her aid.
It is the way all capitalist States have grown up from a peasant population. In
this case the capitalist State is being developed under the guidance of
celebrated Communists and a small bureaucratic party which was once Communist.
in a peasant country like Russia the proletariat has become so important, and
its development has progressed so far, that its leaders, its party takes up the
establishment of capitalism and runs it against the proletariat.
the beginning of 1918 the Bolshevist party, which was still more or less
Communist, tried to support itself by aid of the landless and the poor. Now it
supports the peasant proprietors and creates tenant farmers and landless
in short, it makes capitalism.
is no longer in the absolute possession and control of the State. Small industry
has quite freed itself from State control.
part of the heavy and wholesale industry, including a few of the most important
branches, has been handed over to trusts formed by State and private capital.
Under these trusts the workers are mere wage workers. These trusts have a large
measure of independence from State control, yet they are assisted by the State.
They compete with private firms, and also with State industries.
commerce in Russia is now unrestricted. One can buy and sell anything. Large and
small capitalists are cropping up everywhere, both in town and country.
Capitalism is growing up with commerce in Russia, as it formerly did in other
countries, from the basis of a peasant State. The capital created by commerce is
used in founding or enlarging banks and industries.
trade is apparently in the hands of the State, but actually this is no longer
the case. The huge Russian Co-operative Society, Centrosojus, has already the
privilege of foreign trade, with a few unimportant restrictions. The
Centrosojus, which is spread over the whole country, especially where the
peasants are, was always and still is a bourgeois-capitalist institution. Even
now it conducts its commerce on purely capitalist principles. The great trusts
still require the consent of the departments for their foreign trade, but they
are too powerful for any demands to be refused. At the Hague, Krassin gave the
representatives of the big States a long list of such commercial enterprises.
Russian Government is prepared to give great concessions to foreign capitalists.
It gave to Krupps four millions in foreign agricultural enterprises. It has
given out various concessions in petroleum, forests, mines, and so on.
finances have been separated from State finances. One can understand what use
the peasant proprietors have made of this power. Wages are introduced again,
even indirect taxes on tobacco, coffee, matches, soap, petroleum, sugar, salt,
beer and textiles. The end will be a State bank, which acts as agent for home
and foreign trade and discounts bills of exchange.
declared at the Hague that these rights are already given to private persons and
to the trusts which are partly State and partly private concerns, and that a
constantly increasing bill of exchange business is being done.
a sitting of the Financial Department in April, 1923, Aron Scheimann, director
of the Russian State Bank, said that the financial section was in favour of
allowing private banks.
the large towns of Russia, the exchanges are again open. An army of contractors,
merchants, bankers, agents, brokers, speculators, stock jobbers and profiteers
are very loosely held in by a sort of State capitalism. There is a growing
middle-class of shopkeepers and middlemen, small employers, salaried employees
and intellectuals, all non-producing vampires, living on the proletariat. Beside
them is the vast army of peasant owners.
small proletariat is very weak, notwithstanding all appearances to the contrary.
The army consists mainly of peasants' sons.
are waiting for foreign trade to be quite free to everyone as well as to the
co-operative societies, the trusts, and the high and mighty private persons.
That will not be long.
all the bonds of capitalism will be loosened and the proletariat will be
there a great difference between the creation of a capitalism out of a peasant
in former centuries, or even in the 19th century, in South Africa,
Australia and North America and this creation in Russia?
the circumstances are different in the Colonies. There the peasants were free;
in Russia they came out of despotism, even in part out of mediaeval conditions.
are the Russian peasants free now?
the difference between the creation of capitalism in Russia to-day and in past
times is very slight. In the past capitalism was created by capitalists who had
sprung from the peasants or from foreign countries. Now capitalism is created by
a party sprung out of the proletariat.
Russian workers! Even before Krondstadt you had no power to guide and control
the State, neither you nor your organisations. That power was held by a
bureaucratic party and a dozen leaders. Nevertheless you had won something by
the revolution: you had a few rights and capitalism had disappeared from the
you, or rather your class, has no longer any hold over industry and
commerce, even in the towns. It never secured possession of the soil; it no
longer has either the most important food stuffs or the raw materials.
obligation for all to work no longer exists. The State no longer supplies them
with food and other necessaries. It gives nothing without money. There are
capitalists again and capitalist organisations. Wage battles and unemployment
have returned, and there is even compulsory arbitration. Your class are wage
slaves precisely as before.
is still a little State capitalism left, and the leaders of the capitalist State
are the old favourite leaders of the Communist Party.
is the object of your work? To what end do you create surplus value by your
serves capitalism. Firstly, the Government of the Soviet State uses it to enrich
the peasantry, that this class may grow and assist the growth of a peasants'
and capitalists' Russia.
in Russia is the sinking appearance. Capitalism is the rising and expanding
is certain that under the lead of the Bolshevists will arise a mighty enemy of
the proletarian revolution; a Russian capitalist State, only equalled in its
vast richness of natural resources by the United States of America.
many parts of the world conditions are similar, or begin to be similar, to those
in Russia. In British and Dutch India and in China there are enormous numbers of
small peasants who are oppressed by national and foreign Powers. The population
of those countries now numbers seven or eight hundred millions of people, for
the most part small peasants. The ferment against the misrule of the national
and foreign Governments is growing -
the revolution approaches. Moreover, there is a proletariat which is growing
rapidly, both in numbers and in class consciousness. It is not impossible that
the proletariat might secure the leadership of a revolution, or share it with
other classes. Yet as the proletariat in the big modern capitalist industries is
still weaker than in Russia, the revolution in those countries would produce,
still more surely than in Russia, a nationalist capitalist State. The same thing
would happen in Asiatic Turkey, Persia, Arabia, Afghanistan, where, except in a
few of the seaports, there are few or no modern proletarians.
Russia, with its heroic, conscious proletariat, must introduce capitalism, it is
still more sure that when the nations of Asia start their revolution huge
capitalist States will grow up there as enemies of the world proletariat. Russia
makes itself a capitalist-nationalist State and a competitor of Western Europe,
whilst North America promotes the capitalist development of Asia.
capitalist development of the East has been enormously accelerated by the world
war and the Russian revolution. Awakening Asia is the new enemy of the world
accomplishment of the Russian revolution was so mighty that the vanguard of the
workers of Western Europe were impressed by it and obeyed the leaders of the
Bolshevist Party, and the whole Third International followed Russia. Just as in
Russia, what the Third International called upon the European workmen to do was
partly proletarian-communist, and partly bourgeois-capitalist. Although these
countries were for the most part proletarian, the European workers followed in
adopting mixed tactics -
partly proletarian, partly bourgeois.
calls of Russia and the Third International to civil war and the formation of
Workers' and Soldiers' Councils and a Red Army were proletarian-communist,
but it did not dare all and proceed to the really fundamental measures of the
proletarian revolution in Europe, and, in the first place in Germany. They did
not claim as the basis of the Workers' and Soldiers' Councils the
destruction of the trade unions. The workshop councils alone can fight and are
the essential bedrock of communism. By making peace with trade unionism the
Russian Bolshevists and the Third International showed that they were themselves
still capitalist, and neither wished, nor dared, to smash up European
the Bolshevists and the Third International did not call for the abolition of
Parliamentarism in the revolution. Thus they left the European workers, who had
never yet fought for themselves, under the delusion that a revolution can be
made in Parliament and through leaders. A real proletarian revolution must
abolish Parliamentarism when the revolution comes in sight. Parliament is the
weapon of the bourgeoisie, the workshop councils are the weapon of the
proletariat, which it will use in addition to but against Parliament.
not doing this, Russia, consciously or unconsciously, was working not for the
world proletarian revolution, but towards Russian capitalism.
Third International did not demand the abolition of party dictatorship in
Western Europe. Nothing has shown their bourgeois character more than this. This
slavish subjection to party, was the pest and ruin of social democracy and of
the proletariat, which was its slave. Before the world war the leader of the
proletarian parties led scarce conscious masses. In the revolution the workers
as a class in their workshop councils must decide for themselves in the conflict
between the mighty powers of West Europe and North American capitalism, mighty
still in their death throes, and because it is a question of life and death to
them, mightier in their efforts than ever. The trade unions and the old
political parties of the workers are too weak to combat capitalism in this
the workshop councils and the Communist Workers' Party can conquer capitalism.
They must for this purpose both interlock and act as a whole and form a unity
for the fight.
Russia this was not understood, and thus, as Rosa Luxemburg said, a dozen
leaders dictate over a flock of sheep, which one calls to action when
convenient, and through this flock of sheep, over the vast masses of the
unthinking class. This method is bourgeois capitalist, through and through. By
this method, more than any other, the Third International has led the
proletarian revolution to defeat. The principle of the few dictating to the
stupid mass has thrown the German proletariat into the abyss.
real proletarian revolution, which is preparing in England, North America and
Germany, cannot be made by a stupid mass led by a few wise leaders, only by the
self-conscious, self-acting mass. History insures that the mass shall be
conscious and self-acting, for as long as it is not self-reliant, it will be
beaten, notwithstanding its leaders.
make it, the working class, self-reliant has been the function of Western
capitalism, for it has become so powerful, even in its death throes, that the
proletarians, both individually and in the mass, must outstrip the capitalist
class in thought and action.
stupid leaders of the Third International showed as much knowledge as a cat of
the conditions of Western Europe, the difference between them and those of
Russia, and the real driving force of capitalism in Western Europe. They became
the tools of the Russian leaders, and the great masses of the Western European
proletariat bowed to the Third International.
before the war I have laid down the premises on which the contentions in these
articles are based, in many articles and in resolutions in which my signature is
to be found with others. At the time there was no question of revolution in
India and Asia, but it is now necessary to say that even in such countries the
proletarian movement cannot join hands with the nationalist one and must by no
means subject itself to it.
and the Third International have talked the proletariat into a combination with
the capitalist nationalism of Asia. My reply is that we have never supported
European capitalism. We have urged the rising of India against European
capitalism; but you of the Third International support the rising capitalism of
Asia; you urge the subjection of the Asiatic proletariat to their native
capitalism. There is no wonder that you do it, for peasant-capitalist Russia
desires also a capitalist Asia.
China and India these tactics have turned proletarians into the enemies of the
revolution and one reflects now that China and Siberia also follow the tactics
of Moscow, and one may confidently say that of the entire proletariat of Asia.
now reflects that the proletariat of the world; that is to say, of Europe,
America, Australia, Africa and Asia is guided either by the Second or Third
International. It is unnecessary to prove that the Second International is
counter-revolutionary, and I have shown in these articles that the Third
International is also counter-revolutionary. One may therefore safely say that
the entire world proletariat has been turned against Communism.
classes in all capitalist nations
classes in all capitalist States are enemies of world revolution. The Third
International has not explained this to the workers.
fake principles have penetrated from Moscow to Western Europe and North America.
This has been largely through Lenin's book called The Infantile Diseases
of Left Wing Communism. See the ideas expressed in that book on Asquith and
Lloyd George and on the splits in the bourgeois classes and parties in the
capitalist States, of which, he declares, Communists may make use. Lenin
contends there that Communists may take advantage of the differences between
Monarchists and Republicans, democrats and reactionaries.
has proved quite untrue. Against Communism all bourgeois parties in all
countries, including the Social-Democrats and Independents of Germany, the
Labour Party and the ILP of Britain, have formed an absolutely firm and united
in such tactics has injured the cause of the proletariat, because, in Germany,
for instance, instead of fighting both equally, it stood for the bourgeois
republic against the monarchy in the case of the Kapp Putsch, and in the cases
of the murder of Rathenau.
is absolutely opposed to capitalism in principle and practice. In the revolution
from capitalism to Communism there is not a single economic or political action
on which capitalists and Communists agree. To make use of the split between
bourgeois parties is to attach oneself to one of them and to combine with
capitalists. Such tactics are utterly bad, for the bourgeois parties will at the
decisive moment turn against the Communists and the result will be a terrible
defeat for them or the total corruption of the Communist Party.
same may be said of the much-vaunted hope of support for the Communists from the
peasants and middle classes. The Russian C. P. has counted on these in Europe
also and shaped its tactics accordingly. Yet, although the difficult conditions
which the Bolshevists calculated would bring these classes over to the Communist
revolution in many countries, these classes have not been won over.
revolutionaries know, nevertheless, that the victory of the proletariat is sure
in the end. Sections of the bourgeois classes will eventually come over, but it
is essential not to count upon their doing so in the beginning.
those tactics of combining with peasant bourgeois parties arose out of the
peasant capitalist character of the Russian revolution, and the European workers
only accepted them because they were still bourgeois in their opinions.
Russians, because they were bourgeois revolutionists, wanted a compromise to be
made in Western Europe. They feared a really proletarian revolution, and
therefore they advised the Communists to compromise.
genuine proletarian revolution will stand on its feet and will oppose equally
Democrats, Social-Democrats, Monarchists and Republicans.
International and the World Revolution
us consider Russia once more, and see how, while she appears to favour world
revolution, in reality she is opposing it.
the Menshevist rising broke out Russia was obliged to go back to capitalism and
all those who adhered to Russia and the 3rd International gave up all
revolutionary measures and preparations for the revolution.
made treaties with capitalist States and private persons and returned to
capitalist reconstruction by means of Trusts, concessions, recognition of
private property in industry, agriculture and commerce, the re-establishment of
the wage system; in fact the recognition of the principles of capitalism with
the power of the peasants and middle class on a huge scale. Communism entirely
disappeared and only a fraction of feeble State Capitalism remained.
wants the proletariat of Western Europe, to adhere to the Communist slogans,
otherwise the proletariat will desert Russia, which would not suit her, as she
desires help from abroad in her capitalist reconstruction. The Communist slogan
was to remain, but the action was to be Capitalist. Russia had no further use
for revolution, either English or German it would have meant Russia's downfall
because she was exhausted capitalistically. Therefore, away with the revolution
now began the terrible deception of the world proletariat, which embodies at the
same time the destruction and re-construction of Capitalism, revolution and
reform. So this game of compromise goes on with the slogans:-
Legal Workers' Councils, Control of Production, Taking Possession of Real
Profits, The Workers' Government, all of which are impossible as reforms, and
can only be attained through the revolution, but which the Third International
and Russia wished to promote before the revolution.
the emasculation of the revolution was concentrated in the principle of the
"United Front" of the proletariat. Unity from Noske, Scheidemann, Hilferding
up to the Communist Party. The slogan is revolutionary for a united front is
necessary for the revolution, but it must be a Communist unity..
practice the United Front is Capitalist, because Capitalism demands a
counter-revolutionary united front from Social-Democrats to Communists. The
duplicity of this slogan surpasses anything else done in the workers'
movement. It is the natural outcome of the capitalist Russian Revolution.
Third International and the Communist Party in Germany, where revolution is
constantly threatening, accepted this slogan. The unity of the workers who have
not the same aim, most of whom are still under capitalist ideology, this unity
is the surest capitalist means of rendering the proletariat helpless before the
machines guns and of bringing them to the slaughter compared to which
slaughtering of Communists, the Finnish and Hungarian Revolutions were child's
play. Such a United Front ensures the defeat of the proletariat. At the moment
of fighting the Social-Democrats will leave the Communists in the lurch and a
general slaughter of the proletariat is certain .
is now a horrible picture with its revolutionary double nature. It lies there
like a huge wreck on the shore, broken up by its revolution. There was a moment
when a small lifeboat was sent out to save Soviet Russia. That boat was the
KAPD, the best and largest part of the Spartacus Bund, with its new and really
revolutionary policy for the world revolution. But Russia with its Bolshevik
Government despised the KAPD and declined its help. She preferred the help of
the enormous mass of the workers or capitalists assembled on the shore, who
applauded or hissed, but by no means could, or wanted to bring help to
this crowd Russia capitulated, and returns with it to capitalism. That was just
what she wanted, because her capitalist character was so immeasurably
stronger than her proletarian one. The non-proletarian character of the Russian
Revolution is most clearly shown by the refusal of really proletarian
revolutionary help from Europe, the salvation of her own and the world
proletariat. What proof can be stronger than that a government which has sprung
from the proletariat itself refuses the sole salvation of the proletariat -
the world proletariat?
would advise our Russian comrades to say to the Communist Party and the Soviet
Government: You have done giant work as a proletarian and government party. Very
probably certain mistakes were made at the beginning of the revolution, only our
Russian comrades can know this, we cannot decide that point clearly. This will
remain so for all time. That you could not do everything in a proletarian and
communist way, and that you had to retreat when the European revolution did not
materialise, is not your fault. As proletarians we shall more strenuously fight
you as our class enemies the more you return to capitalism. But your real fault,
which neither we nor history can forgive, is to have foisted a
counter-revolutionary programme and tactics on the world proletariat, and to
have rejected the really revolutionary one which could have saved us.
slogan is the keystone of the Moscow tactics. It is the last word of the
capitalist Russian Revolution. It shows that Russia and the Third International,
who, with their army for revolution want to build up capitalism and therefore
ruin the proletariat by means of its holiest possession -
that Russia and the Third International are the greatest enemies of the world
Lenin and his colleagues have played a strange role. On the one hand they have
shown the world proletariat the way to Communism, on the other they have helped
to establish world capitalism in Russia and Asia (not to mention the peasants).
For our part we shall always regard as more important the real communism towards
which the English, German and North American workers are striving.
When Karl Liebknecht in that historic hour in the Zirkus Busch fought with a
small following against the fallacy of the United Front he saw in his mind's
eye the cold rifle barrels, and the whole pack shouted "Unity". That is and
was the slogan of the counter-revolution. But Karl Liebknecht's slogan was :
First clearness, then Unity. Clearness as to the immediate tasks of the working
class, which are: We want the factories! We want the land! Down with capitalist
private property! All power to the Workers' Councils! The Dictatorship of the
Proletariat! These are the slogans of the proletarian revolution. These are the
only slogans of the working class.
Notes on this text
"The World Revolution"
by Herman Gorter was published in Workers Dreadnought as a serial of 7 parts in
The numbering of the parts
corresponds to the actual publication on February 9, 16, 23, March 1, 15, 29 and May 10.
This text is not identical
to another famous text by Gorter titled "Die Weltrevolution" from
"The World Revolution"
here is mainly a translation of
Gorter's German Pamphlet "Die Kommunistische Arbeiter-Internationale"
from 1923 - although changed and somewhat reduced.
The first 4 parts are faily
identical (have only minor differences) to the German KAI-text, but from part 5 and the dealing with 'The Third
International' whole paragraphs and sections are missing. And at the end of the text
a whole section on the Communist Workers-International was left out.
different title to this English version was fully justified.
Text taken from kurasje.org