Tag: Leon Trotsky
Topic: The 1921 ‘Kronstadt Tragedy’ – Beginning of the Counterrevolution?
On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Kronstadt uprising and its defeat we present a small selection of titles from the vast literature available, which we consider of interest in order to go into its wider historical significance and implications:
The Program of the Kronstadt Uprising is presented and analyzed in a chapter of the work by Ida Mett: La commune de Cronstadt. Crépuscule sanglant des soviets (Paris 1938, 1948) [“The Kronstadt Commune. Bloody Twilight of the Soviets”]. It was first published in English by Solidarity, London 1967.
A council communist analysis that came about contemporaneous to the publication of Mett’s work in the West can be read in Willy Huhn’s work “Trotsky – The Failed Stalin” (1952), from which we provide a chapter in translation.
An extensive bibliography and documents‘ collection established by ‘Fragments d’Histoire de la gauche radicale’ (“Fragments of the History of the radical Left“, mainly in French language) in collaboration with ‘Les Révolutions-1917’ is presented at the hand of the authors’ survey text.
Last but not least, we recommend The Retreat of the World-Revolution – The 1921 ‘Kronstadt Tragedy’, an extract from Chapter V: Gorter, the KAPD and the Foundation of the Communist Workers’ International (1921–7) of Ph. Bourrinet’s political historiography The Dutch and German Communist Left (1900–68) (Brill, Leiden – Boston 2017).
The editor, April 26, 2021.
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Trotsky and the Kronstadt Uprising of 1921
The violently crushed Kronstadt uprising of March 1921, followed by the introduction of the NEP, marked a decisive turn in the consolidation of the state capitalist regime that had come to bearing through the October insurrection in Russia 1917. The struggle for “soviets without the communists” (i.e. without the Bolsheviks) led by the insurgent mariners would be the last attempt by the proletarian masses to reconquer political power over the state, whose grip had been strengthened under pressure of the ‘civil war’ in Russia, with its so-called ‘war-communism’, to the detriment of the councils (soviets). Having achieved a military victory over the “white armies” through an unprecedented militarization, the Bolshevik regime was confronted with a plain catastrophe at the economic level, resulting in mass famines and peasant insurrections, like the Makhnovchina in the South. The Kronstadt uprising was the top of the iceberg of a mass movement that had its counterpart among the industrial proletariat. With its defeat, and the subsequent repression of political life, the backbone of the proletarian mass strike in Russia since 1905 was crushed, sealing off the counter-revolutionary involution of the Bolshevik party in power.
The following chapter from his major work Trotsky – the failed Stalin presents the analysis elaborated by the council communist Willy Huhn at the beginning of the 1950s of the role of the Bolshevik party, its leadership and of Trotsky in particular in these key events, with regards to the later political current of “trotskyism”.
Our translation is followed by a brief editor’s note on some historical inaccuracies by Huhn.
Last updated: April 22, 2021
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