CONSEQUENCES OF THE KRONSTADT UPRISING, AND ITS MEANING
It fell before the arrival of support from the Petrograd workers, not having received active aid from boundless, agitated Russia, not having survived even until liberation from the ice of the Gulf of Finland.
The Bolsheviks breathed easier. Kronstadt's execution fell together with their new "victories" in Europe. Specifically, the Bolsheviks bombarded a town which demanded freely elected Soviets, calling its defenders "servitors of the Entente," and "compromisers with capitalism." And they themselves, in those very days, concluded agreements with the capitalists, the Entente, and the Polish imperialists.
The crash of the cannonade had still not died away, and the piles of bodies still not been removed from the ice of the Gulf, when the Soviet authorities, under the sound of the executions of the Kronstadt heroes, were already signing agreements composed by the dictate of the capitalist world.
In those tragic days, an English-Russian trade agreement was signed by the Bolsheviks, opening a broad, uncontrolled road into destroyed Russia for the most powerful capital, English. In those same days, the Treaty of Riga was signed by the Bolsheviks, by which they conceded to Poland 206,837 square kilometers (about 200,000 square verstas [1 versta is equal to 1.06 km.]) with a non-Polish population of twelve million souls, violating the rights and will of the populace.
In those same days, the Bolshevik authorities, together with the Turks, completed the destruction of the Caucasian republics, and gave the Turkish monarchy the most important regions and fortresses of Zakavkazie. So long as Kronstadt's guns thundered, so long as the capitalist and imperialist governments were uncertain of the victory of the Soviet authorities, they did not make the final decision on this robbery of Russia.
But the thunder of its guns, by Lenin's expression, forced the ruling Communist Party to "think again." The Kronstadt Uprising forced the Communists to renounce their own economic policy, that is, the very Communism for which they supposedly carried out the October Revolution, spilled seas of blood, and destroyed Russia.
For what then was Kronstadt executed?
For what? The list of unsatisfied demands clearly shows for what. For the demand for Democracy, for the demand for freely elected Soviets. The Communists stooped to the renunciation of Communism, but would not agree to allow discussion of the question of power, even discussion only by the peasants, workers, sailors and soldiers, as the people of Kronstadt demanded, and not by the entire nation. The Communists preferred to eliminate food requisitioning, to restore trade, to make concessions to foreigners and to concede Russian land and Russian population to Poland, than to give, if even just to socialist parties, the right of free speech, press, assembly...
That is what Kronstadt was executed for...
Its uprising showed that Communism, and the victories of the October "Revolution," for which they had begun a terrible civil war, and which they so easily renounced, were not dear to the Bolsheviks. It showed, rather, that only power was dear to them, only power, power irregardless of the workers and peasants, power over the proletariat, power against the will of the entire people.
At the present moment, it is even impossible to define the great impact which Kronstadt has already had on the psychology of the people's masses. And the more the real truth about Kronstadt, hidden so thoroughly by the Bolsheviks, is discovered, the more terrible will be the consequences of this unusual "uprising" for them.
The Kronstadt Uprising showed that the Russian people was opposed to Bolshevism, but did so at the moment most advantageous for the Bolshevism. It appeared at the moment when the Intervention had ended, when western countries were concluding agreements with the Bolsheviks and when the reactionary forces had been broken. It showed that in the people, and only in the people, there is a huge life-force, and that it and it alone may, in the center, shake loose and overturn the Bolsheviks.
Thanks to the Kronstadt Uprising, the Western-European socialists and working masses began to think, and to think deeply. For them, the rebellion of Kronstadt was a thunderstrike. For the first time, they came to see clearly and distinctly that the Bolshevik authorities are hated in Russia by the people themselves, by the workers and peasants who are the support of the Revolution.
Earlier, when Denikins and Wrangels attacked the Bolsheviks, western socialists knew that their own imperialist bourgeois governments gave aid to these adventurers and reactionaries. But here Kronstadt arose, and workers and sailors arose. And those lies about Kronstadt which the Bolsheviks spread in Russia could have no meaning in the West. For the European socialist parties well knew and saw that it was the Bolsheviks, not Kronstadt, who colluded with Imperialism in those days. They saw that their governments, at that moment, were speaking not with the people of Kronstadt but with Krasin, Litvinov, Gukovsky and Ioffe. They saw that their governments gave aid not to Kronstadt, abandoned on the ice for certain death by the whole world, but to the Bolsheviks. They saw that the Bolsheviks were executing sailors and workers, and at the same time making every concession and every agreement with capitalism.
Kronstadt was an explosion, sending a powerful blow in every direction. It broke a huge breach in the Bolshevik structure. Kronstadt struck a blow to the very heart of Bolshevism. And however long and painful may be the death agony of Bolshevism, Kronstadt, the first completely independent attempt by workers, sailors and peasants to topple the Bolshevik structure and begin the Third Revolution, will remain a landmark, visible from afar, on a turning point of Russian history.