The filthy torrent of lies and slander which the capitalist papers
have spewed out against the Kronstadt comrades has revealed once more how
dishonest these papers are. They have seized on a quite ordinary and
unimportant incident and magnified it to the dimensions of a "state" affair,
of "secession" from Russia and so on and so forth.
Izvestia of the Petrograd Soviet No. 74 reports that the
Kronstadt incidentt has been settled. As was to have been expected,
Ministers Tsereteli and Skobelev easily came to an understanding with the
Kronstadt people on the basis of a compromise resolution. Needless to say,
we express our hope and confidence that this compromise resolution, provided
both sides faithfully live up to it, will, for a sufficiently lengthy
period of time, eliminate conflicts in the work of the revolution
both in Kronstadt and the rest of Russia.
The Kronstadt incident is a matter of principle to us in two
First, it has revealed a fact long ago observed by us and
officially recognised in our Party's resolution (on the Soviets), namely,
that in the local areas the revolution has gone farther than it has
in Petrograd. Succumbing to the current craze for the revolutionary phrase,
the Narodniks and Mensheviks as well as the Cadets did not wish to or could
not grasp the significance of this fact.
Secondly, the Kronstadt incident raised an important
fundamental issue of programmatic significance, which no honest democrat, to
say nothing of a socialist, can afford to treat with indifference. It is the
question of whether the central authority has the right to endorse
officials elected by the local population or not.
The Mensheviks, to whose party Ministers Tsereteli and Skobelev
belong, still claim to be Marxists. Tsereteli and Skobelev got a resolution
passed in favour of such endorsement. In doing so, did they stop to think of
their duty as Marxists?
Should the reader find this question naïve and pass a remark to the
effect that the Mensheviks now have really become a petty-bourgeois, even
defencist (i.e., chauvinist) party, and therefore it would be ludicrous even
to talk about Marxism, we shall not argue the point. All we shall say is
that Marxism always gives close attention to questions of democratism, and
the name of democrats can hardly be denied to citizens Tsereteli and
Did they stop to think of their duty as democrats, of their "title"
as democrats, when they passed the resolution authorising the Provisional
Government to "endorse" officials elected by the Kronstadt population?
Obviously, they did not.
In support of this conclusion, we shall quote the opinlon of a writer
who, we hope, even in the eyes of Tsereteli and Skobelev, is considered
something of a scientific and Marxian authority. That writer is Frederick
In criticising the draft programme of the German Social-Democrats
(now known as the Erfurt Programme) Engels wrote in 1891 that the German
proletariat was in need of a single and united republic.
"But not," Engels added, "such a republic as the present French
Republic, which is really an empire founded in 1798 but without an emperor.
From 1792 to 1798 every French department, every commune enjoyed complete
self-government after the American pattern. That is what we [the German
Social-Democrats] should have too. How self-government can be organised
and how a bureaucracy can be dispensed with has been demonstrated to us by
America and the First French Republic, as well as by Australia, Canada and
other British colonies even today. Such provincial and communal
self-government is much freer than, for instance, Swiss federalism, where
each canton is really independent of the confederation [i.e., the central
government] but at the same time is the supreme authority as far as the
minor subdivisions of the canton are concerned -- the Bezirk and the
Commune. The cantonal governments appoint the Bezirkestatthalter and
Prefects. This right of appointing local officers is entirely unknown in
English-speaking countries, and in future we must politely abolish this
right [i.e., appointment from above], just as we should the Prussian
Landräthe and Regierungräthe."
Such was Engels's opinion on questions of democracy as applied to the
right of appointing officers from above. To express these views with greater
precision and accuracy, he proposed that the German Social-Democrats should
insert in their programme the following demand:
"Complete self-government in the communes, districts, and regions
through officers elected by universal suffrage; abolition of all
state-appointed local and regional authorities."
The italicised words leave nothing to be desired in the way of
clarity and definiteness.
Worthy citizens, Ministers Tsereteli and Skobelev! You are probably
flattered to have your names mentioned in history books. But will it be
flattering to have every Marxist -- and every honest democrat -- say that
Ministers Tsereteii and Skobelev helped the Russian capitalists to build
such a republic in Russia as would turn out to be not a republic at all, but
a monarchy without a monarch ?
P.S. This article was written before the Kronstadt incident
entered its last stage, as reported in today's papers. The Kronstadt people
have not broken the compromise agreement. Not a single fact
remotely suggesting a breach of this agreement has been cited. Rech
's reference to newspaper articles is mere subterfuge, since you canj only
break an agreement by deeds and not by newspaper articles. The fact then
remains, that Ministers Tsereteli, Skobelev and Co. have allowed themselves
to be scared for the hundredth and thousandth time by the screams of the
frightened bourgeoisie and have resorted to gross threats against the
people of Kronstadt. Crude, absurd threats, that merely serve the
This is a quotation from Engels's "Zur Kritik des
sozialdemokratischen Programmentwurfes 1891" (See Neue Zeit, Jg.
20, I. Bd., Stuttgart, S. 12). [p.