Bolshevism defamed by the Anarchists

The readers will recall how a sharp polemic has begun between us and the "'Avvenire Anarchico" of Pisa, a journal which seems totally dedicated to the denigration of communism and of the Russian communist comrades.

The assertions of the little paper in question – as far as one can be reconstructed from its epileptic prose, crammed with a simulacrum of documentation – consist in the stupid insinuation that the Russian Bolsheviks were, up to the revolution of October 1917 and even afterwards, stubborn social-democrats and that only the force of events and revolutionary pressure of the masses has induced them to transform themselves into upholders of soviet power, channelling into an authoritarian path for their own purposes the spontaneous formation of the Soviets, libertarian organs of the masses.

The absurdity of such a thesis is so obvious that it isn't even necessary to hesitate to refute it.

The masses were supposed to have drawn the Bolsheviks from the terrain of social-democracy to that of soviet power – "while the Bolsheviks were still for the Constituent Assembly, the workers demonstrated united by the cry: power to the Soviets!" – and thus the Bolsheviks were supposed to be transformed dextrously into communists; but then the same masses: anarchist by definition, weren't able to prevent the Bolsheviks from imposing their devilishly "statist" programme on them.

But leaving aside the very obvious contradiction existing in the plot of this novelette, we claim for the Russian communist party the entire merit of having responded marvellously to its task of vanguard of the revolutionary proletariat, foreseeing and tracing the paths af the revolution, and bringing the propaganda of the postulates that this had to realise among the masses which weren't yet aware af them.

It's asserted that the Bolsheviks, that same Lenin, in their programme of 1905 and 1915 were for the democratic constituent assembly, this is in part true. But while waiting to be able to devote greater study, and above aIl greater space, to the argument, there is a position to make clear in a general way.

The Russian Bolsheviks, in the front line among the marxist and radical left of the international socialist movement before the war, have always thought and argued that the revolution of the proletariat against capitalism could have no other aspect than that of the armed struggle for the conquest of power, by denying that parliamentarism could serve as a road to proletarian power and by supporting Marx's statement that in the period of passage from capitalism to communism political power could have no other form than that of the dictatorship of the proletariat.

This thesis being quite clear, another and quite different question was presented to the Russian comrades.

How could the passage from the feudal regime, still in force in Russia: to communism appear? Would a period of capitalist democracy have to come between the fall of Czarism and the victory of the proletariat?

Without going into details, until the European war the Bolsheviks held such a period to be inevitable, while arguing that during it their movement would've continued an intransigent work of propaganda for the conquest of power by the proletariat, for the second revolution.

But already during the first years of the war the conviction grew in the Bolsheviks that the Russian revolutionary process could speed up, if the armies of the Czar were defeated, and they maintained it was necessary to provoke such a denouement, thus putting themselves in disagreement with the majority at Kienthal.

As soon as the first revolution broke out in February 1917 the Bolshevik leaders returned to Russia, the forces of their party increased, and the struggle began. We'll show that right from the first moment the programme of this struggle – omitted any distinction between maximum and minimum programme – was the dictatorship of the proletariat.

The different phases of the struggle and the different situations which presented themselves required different tactical measures, and its known that we in a certain sense disagree with certain tactical solutions, like that of participation in the elections for the Constituent Assembly.

We don't hope that the anarchists can understand the relationship between programme and tactics. The programme represents the objective to realise, the opposing position to assail - tactics deduces, in a certain moment, from the proportion of one's own forces to those of the adversary, the possibility of launching the attack, of waiting, or of making simple shows of force. If tactical considerations should lead to changing the final objective, to amending the programme, then certainly it would fall into error, and into reformist betrayal.

But if it affirms at every moment that this is without doubt the moment of onslaught it's mistaken and betrays even the identical result; of leaving to the adversary the position that it holds.

What Lenin's programme was from his arrival in Russia we documented precisely with the publication in no, 6 of "I1 Soviet", of the Theses presented by him at the conclusion of a speech given by him at on the 16th April 1917 in Petrograd. The 5th thesis is explicit:
"Not a parliamentary republic – a return to this from the Workers' would be a step backwards – but a republic of workers' and peasants' councils in the whole country and from top to bottom".

On the 23-4-1917 Lenin repeats his exposition to the Bolshevik Congress. In point 11 of his programmatic discourse he affirms that the Soviets of Workers, Peasants and Soldiers are the new type of State, but that they don't yet have the consciousness of it.

The conclusions of Lenin – says a note to the Russian edition of the speech, which could have been printed only weeks afterward - were approved by the majority of the congress, with the exception of the one point relating to the separation from Zimmerwald (see the 10th of the aforesaid theses).

A speech given by Zinoviev after the attempt on Lenin's life, and published in instalments by "La Vie Ouvriere" affirms that from the first moment of the revolution Lenin had the unshakeable persuasion that its outlet would be the coming to power of the Russian proletariat. He immediately saw in the Soviets the organs of the new power, on condition that the communists would succeed in conquering the majority of them. But when in a certain epoch it seemed that even in the Soviets social-democratic opportunism had taken a definitive position, Lenin didn't hesitate to give the watchword: to power even without the Soviets. Anything but libertarian legends.

In July 1917 the onrush of the masses led Lenin and the Bolshevik Central Committee to anticipate the eventuality of unleashing the final attack.

But the conditions were not yet mature, and it was decided to wait.

All of the later tactical and polemical play against the policy of Kerensky's government and in regard to the convocation of the Constituent Assembly didn't impair the guiding programmatic line tending towards the final struggle for the proletarian dictatorship.

In an article by Lenin of September 1917, dedicated to supporting the thesis "all power to the Soviets" he wrote: "Two paths can be foreseen for the Soviets – either let them die by ignominious death, or give all power to the Soviets – this I proclaimed before the Pan-Russian Congress of Soviets in June 1917".

Further on Lenin makes it clear that the formula: power to the Soviets, doesn't mean the formation of a Ministry among the parties of the majority of the Soviets, rather it implies the destruction of the old bureaucratic, military and parliamentary apparatus of the State, the carrying out of the communists' political programme.

The stupid thesis of "Avvenire Anarchico" rests – very weakly – only on the text of a Bolshevik programme whose source is Guilbeaux's review "Demain". We'll speak of the authenticity of this text another time.

No more acceptable is the speculation of some letters written by Sadoul in the moments of the November struggle, whose very manner shows how the author hadn't then digested the Bolshevik programme or understood the situation. He declares that he'd only made the acquaintance of Lenin and Trotsky to whom he attributes obviously fantastic opinions and declarations, speaking of the formation of a Ministry in eventual collaboration with the Mensheviks! While precisely the 26th October-7th November the Council of Commissars of the People was nominated by the Soviet Congress. Trotsky in his noted pamphlet (no. 2 of the documents of "Avanti!", p. 56) says: "The C.C. of our party made the attempt to come to an agreement with the Left Social-Revolutionaries.., while the Mensheviks and Right S.R.s had broken any connection with the Congress of Soviets, because they thought a coalition of anti-soviet parties was necessary".

The lies of A.A. therefore don't ring any truer even with the aid of... the clangers of Sadoul.

In any case from the elements expounded, and from many others previously devoted to the question, it becomes clear what is the significance of the historical development of the Russian revolution and of the task, in it, of the Bolsheviks, who were precisely the opposite of what the anarchists say, and even of what is said by some others, who believe more in the revolutionary efficiency of the soviet form than in that of the work of propaganda and struggle carried out by the communist party.

To put matters in a prosaic form, it's certain that the Bolsheviks wanted all power to go to the Soviets, when the Soviets themselves, being in the majority Menshevik and counter-revolutionary, wanted nothing to do with taking it.

Not even the tall story of the local and libertarian action of the Soviets against the central state power can hold water. The Soviets, in the first period, made an article of faith of the democratic regime and of the parliamentary state, exactly because they were dominated by the Mensheviks and S.R.s.

The work of the anarchists can be seen even more in certain forms of local expropriation brought about in revolutionary moments, and which, as we've said many times, not only don't open the true process of realisation of communism, but were a source of initial obstacles to it.

In an article in "Comunismo" the statistics of the increase of Bolshevik mandates in the Soviet central organs have appeared. These statistics are the true diagram of the revolution, as the communist political party is the true historical precursor of the revolution.

It doesn't have the anarchists on the extreme left, as "Avvenire" yells. It only, sometimes, finds them under its feet - see, among other things, the true story of the famous Makhno, in no. 43 of "Ordine Nuovo".

What remains of all the anecdotes of the anarchist sheet? The stupid pretence of showing that authoritarian and statist communism is not in direct line of descent from classical marxism, but has been improvised by the Bolsheviks to exploit the Soviet revolution.

We libertarians - they cry - are the true communists!

Old Engels remarked justly; if you discuss with the anarchists, first agree on the meaning of words. As it's changed several times, and as today a return is made to the words and polemical positions of the classical debate between marxists and anarchists, a passage of their own Bakunin can demonstrate it to those of A.A. (see "Cronaca Sovversiva", 20th March).
"Here they separate principally into revolutionary socialists (sic) and authoritarian communists..."
"...the communists imagine they'll reach it with the development and with the organisation of the political power of the working classes, while the revolutionaries think to the contrary that such an end can only arrive at with the development not of he political but of the social, and in consequence (the consequence lies wholly in the consciousness of papa Bakunin) antipolitical power of the masses".

So isn't it obvious that the columnist specialising in anti-Bolshevism spreads them on too thick?

And now for a personal coda. The bilious writer of A.A. boasts of having contradicted in 1915 in the Vicaria circle in Naples the undersigned who was supporting parliamentarism. Go on! The undersigned then fought the nascent anarcho-syndicaIism middle, by defending proletarian political action and explaining to the contradictors how political doesn't only mean electoral action but signifies for marxists revolutionary conflict between the classes for the coming to power of the proletariat, driven on and led by a class party. It would be silly to close here by showing with citations that the undersigned has always negated the parliamentary conquest of power.

The marxist left has never believed in this. It has allowed for the tactical utilisation of parliamentary activity, which some of ours support even in this historical period. But the fulcrum of the marxist programme has always been the "proletarian dictatorship" – the historical key to the revolutionary problem, which burns the fingers of the semi-bourgeois followers of legalitarian reformism or of anarchist hysteria, closer in kin than they think and wish or than they – sometimes – have reason to hide.

I think that A.A. has served its purpose.

Source Il Soviet, nr. 15, 23 May 1920
Author Amadeo Bordiga
n+1 Archives Copy of original Ref. DB -
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