Peter Gelderloos 2021 (Twitter)
OtD in 1919, the Cheka assault the Putilov factory in Petrograd, executing 200 striking workers.
Exactly 2 years later the Bolsheviks are preparing their final assault to massacre the Kronstadt rebels.
Are “extreme measures” justified in a revolution?
Many on the left excuse Lenin’s widespread massacres & jailing of opponents on the grounds of urgency, the extreme danger that gripped the land as the White Army advanced. The actual timeline & particulars of Bolshevik repression do not support this thesis
One Hundred Years after the Bolshevik Counterrevolution
The Bolsheviks’ first actions after the October Revolution was to consolidate bureaucratic power within their own party. Their interests became the interests of state power. That is how they inherited the imperialism of tsarist Russia and
quickly allied with flexible elements of the bourgeoisie, as well as making treaties with capitalist governments. That is also why their interests quickly came to diverge from those of workers and peasants who did not climb the party ladder.
The Bs first use of wholesale murder and imprisonment against adversaries from within the revolutionary movement occurred already in Spring 1918, BEFORE the White Army had effectively constituted itself.
April 2018: 100 Years since the Bolshevik Terror
Subsequent massacres bear no relation to areas where the Whites present a threat; they happened anywhere people opposed Bolshevik rule, and the principal victims were workers and peasants.
A Century since the Bolshevik Crackdown of August 1918
Cause and effect are reversed. Bolshevik repression was not a response, it caused millions to flock to the armies that opposed them.
Just as the Kronstadt sailors were the pride of the revolution and they rebelled in order to win “all power for the soviets” free of party dictatorship, the Putilov workers had always been at the forefront, helping spark the February revolution.
1919: When the Bolsheviks Turned on the Workers
And now they were striking for working class demands: improved food rations, an end to the Red Terror, & an end to the privileges enjoyed by Party members. They fought against the reign of capitalist bosses, but also against the new regime of Party bosses exploiting their labor.
Likewise, the peasants being massacred in Ukraine and the Urals were practicing real communism, without the need for a state, along anarchist lines, and that is why they were a threat to the Bolsheviks.
Nestor Makhno: Anarchy’s Cossack – Alexandre Skirda
In other words, the Bolsheviks had come to embody the counterrevolution.
Apologists may insist this is an unnuanced view of a complex situation, ignoring how history often forces us to take sides amidst these complexities.
Sometimes we have to assert unequivocally that a certain path of struggle is wrong, it is a danger to us and our well being.
The truly nuanced question is to ask how people who sincerely believed in the revolution ended up becoming its executioners. This is a question that is still fully relevant today.