Trotsky and the Kronstadt Uprising of 1921

Provisional Council at the Petropavlovsk, Kronstadt, March 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”.

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Willy Huhn (1961): On the doctrine of the revolutionary party (3)

In this last part of his article, Huhn develops on the reasons for the scission  from the ‘League of Communists’ by a minority (the “Willich-Schapper fraction”), as it became increasingly clear that a resurgence of the 1848 uprisings was out of the question. At the hand of the writings of Marx and Engels, both from this episode and from their later reviews, he demonstrates their conception of the purpose and possibilities of a revolutionary organization, which ultimately led them to dissolve the ‘League’ and take their distance.

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Willy Huhn (1961): On the doctrine of the revolutionary party (2)

Willy Huhn poses the question how far Lenin has “directly taken up the doctrine of Marx and Engels in the question of the Party”, as his adversary Dracker puts it. Contrary to the latter’s a-historical approach, Huhn endeavors to explain how the organizational question arose in the practice of the 1848 bourgeois revolutions. In doing so, he shows that Lenin, in the (supposedly) bourgeois revolution in Russia from the outset of the 20th Century, represented a concept of organization that was substantially different from that of Marx and Engels.

Today more than 150 years have passed since the 1848 bourgeois revolutions; more than 100 years since the proletarian world revolution announced itself in the Red October of 1917, and almost 60 years since Huhn opposed Leninism in this text. The communist minorities again face the question of how to organize themselves to fulfill their function in the workers’ struggle. Huhn’s text advances  essential elements for a valid reply, even if it is still deeply influenced by the last years of the counterrevolution at the time.

In this second part of our translation Huhn continues his demonstration on the role of communist minorities at the hand of two speeches addressed to the Communists’ League by its central authority in the Spring of 1850 in view of reorganizing the League after the defeat of the 1848 democratic uprisings throughout Europe, with the expectation of a new upsurge soon to come.

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Willy Huhn (1961): On the doctrine of the revolutionary party (1)

In ‘A Free Retriever’s Digest’ Vol.2 #1 (February -March 2018) we presented a biographic work on the council communist Willy Huhn (1909 – 1970), together with a concise review (Book Review: “In Search of Rosa’s Heritage”). Subsequently we translated a text expounding Huhn’s view on Lenin:  Willy Huhn (1948): ‘Lenin as a Utopian’ (in Vol.2 #2, April – May 2018).  In the following  we resume our translation series with (the first part of) a more extensive article, in which Huhn compares the ‘Marxist-Leninist’ conception of the communist party and that developed by Marx and Engels, in a polemic that took place in the early 1960s.

Willy Huhn poses the question how far Lenin has “directly taken up the doctrine of Marx and Engels in the question of the Party”, as his adversary put it. Contrary to Dracker’s ahistorical approach, Huhn endeavors to explain how the organizational question arose in the practice of the 1848 bourgeois revolutions. In doing so, he shows that Lenin, in the (supposedly) bourgeois revolution in Russia from the outset of the 20th Century, represented a concept of organization that was substantially different from that of Marx and Engels.

Today more than 150 years have passed since the 1848 bourgeois revolutions; more than 100 years since the proletarian world revolution announced itself in the Red October of 1917, and almost 60 years since Huhn opposed Leninism in this text. The communist minorities again face the question of how to organize themselves to fulfill their function in the workers’ struggle. Huhn’s text advances  essential elements for a valid reply, even if it is still deeply influenced by the last years of the counterrevolution at the time.

Continue reading “Willy Huhn (1961): On the doctrine of the revolutionary party (1)”

Willy Huhn (1948): ‘Lenin as a Utopian’

Documents of the historical communist Left

» The first characteristic of Utopian socialism resides in the superstition of the power of science. A rational system is supposed to change the social world in such a decisive way that something ethically better and socially sound will be effected. The practical consequence from this conviction is that the scholars have to take the fate of humanity into their hands, or rather onto their heads.

With the first Utopian of Western history, Plato, the philosophers are at the helm of the State, and the island “Utopia” of Thomas More is governed by a “class of scholars”. Do not the intellectuals raise a similar claim – once the juridical intelligentsia (Engels has at one occasion treated this “lawyers’ socialism exhaustively) (1) and presently the technical or even the economical intelligentsia (technocracy and bureaucracy)?

The Utopians are searching for a “social science” in order to create new social conditions with its help. This action departs from their intellectual initiative, relies on the insight and the power to act of the intelligentsia, whereas the proletariat “offers to them the spectacle of a class without any historical initiative or any independent political movement”, as the “Communist Manifesto” states. (2)   Continue reading “Willy Huhn (1948): ‘Lenin as a Utopian’”

Book Review: “In Search of Rosa’s Heritage”

The German Marxist Willy Huhn (1909 – 1970)

Jochen Gester: Auf der Suche nach Rosas Erbe. Der deutsche Marxist Willy Huhn (1909-1970); Die Buchmacherei, Berlin, 2017.

Paperback, 628p. + CD 207p. (Pdf); 22,-. ISBN 978-3-00-056463-5. Orders via Die Buchmacherei, with postal charges.

In this article you find:

  • The book description by the Editor

  • The review: Willy Huhn, an unknown coun­cil communist

 

Continue reading “Book Review: “In Search of Rosa’s Heritage””