Interview for the New York Herald on the Kronstadt Revolt
|Written||15 March 1921|
LENINE DECLARES REVOLT IS 'PETTY AND SURE TO FAIL'
Only Two Kinds of Government Possible in Russia – Soviets or Czar.
TO STARVE KRONSTADT
Bolshevist Head, Interviewed for 'N. Y. Herald,' Calls Sailors Powerless.
SAYS MUTINY IS FOOLISH
Cannot March Over Melting Snow and in Petrograd Can Get No Food.
By CAPT. FRANCIS M'CULLAGH.
Reval, March 13. The situation in Kronstadt, where the Russian Social Revolutionists are still holding out against the Bolsheviki, remains unchanged. The possibility of the city and fortress being cut off by the Reds and starved into submission is not alarming the leaders.
A radio despatch has just been picked up in which the Kronstadt revolutionary leaders protest against the murder of women and children with bombs dropped from Red airplanes flying over Kronstadt.
The New York Herald correspondent in Moscow, telegraphing from that city, says Lenine is cheerful and feels safe in his Kremlin stronghold, having no fear of the Anti-Bolshevist uprising. He telegraphs the following interview with the Soviet Premier:
Can Only Starve in Petrograd.
"What can they (the revolutionists) do if they take Petrograd? Only one thing – starve. They will have a big, foodless city on their hands, and we shall have more food for Moscow, as more supplies are coming in from Kuban and Siberia, and for a short time we will no longer have to feed Petrograd, which has of late been a strain on our resources, owing to its remoteness from the grain districts. [A Constantinople despatch dated March 13 says the province of Kuban (Caucasus) is in revolt, and that the Reds are withdrawing their armies from Georgia and the Ukraine.]
"This shortage of bread and fuel and the transport difficulties are due to the fuel famine. Despite all our efforts, Petrograd's food position became acute recently, and there is genuine starvation in the suburbs of that city.
"An advance on Moscow (by the revolutionists) over the melting snow and swampy ground, and because of the torn up railroads and devastated country, is impossible. The sailors at the head of this foolish mutiny at Kronstadt will be out of their element as soon as they lose sight of the Gulf of Finland. How can they provision themselves for such hard march through districts affording them no food? And we shall see that there is no food there.
"If they accept supplies from foreign Powers they brand themselves at once as traitors to Russia and the whole country will rise against them, just as it rose against Denikine and Kolchak.
"I believe that there are only two kinds of government possible in Russia – a Government by the Soviets or a Government headed by a Czar. Some fools or traitors in Kronstadt talked of a Constituent Assembly, but does any man in his senses believe for a moment that a Constituent Assembly at this critical abnormal stage would be anything but a bear garden.
"Some people in America have come to think of the Bolsheviki as a small clique of very bad men who are tyrannizing over a vast number of highly intellectual people who would form an admirable Government among themselves the moment the Bolshevist regime was overthrown. This is a mistake, for there is nobody to take our place save butcher Generals and bureaucrats who have already displayed their total incapacity for rule.
Case of Discontent.
"This Kronstadt affair in itself is a very petty incident. It no more threatens to break up the Soviet Government than the Irish disorders are threatening to break up the British Empire. It is simply a case of discontent among some foolish sailors, and this discontent is being utilized by some Czarist officers, reactionaries, Mensheviki, social revolutionaries and foreign Powers. Behind them all, I know, is the collective, consummately crafty and profoundly hostile intellect of the whole capitalist world, which would sooner see 10,000,000 deaths in Russia than the continuance into the next stage of the sole socialist State in the world.
"But I can't say much for the common sense of the people who fabricated this particular plot. To seize an ice-bound island, containing very little food and absolutely dependent for all its supplies on Russia, was a foolish thing to do, although, to be sure, it was only a part of a much larger plot which missed fire everywhere else. Nevertheless, I know the appalling strength and unscrupulousness of capitalism, and I know it in not the last bolt they will shoot at us. I know their game, for I am engaged in it myself.
"Napoleon said that a battle meant two large bodies of men trying to scare one another. Each of them receive successive waves of panic, and when the wave panic passes a certain point of intensity, the army subjected to it breaks and flees. No commands, no appeals to patriotism or to honor can save the situation once that danger point is passed and the soldiers become mad, frightened beasts, impervious to reason.
"The world is now divided into two armies, which are trying to frighten each other, and we will see which side gets frightened first. I do not think it will be the great, solid mass of the proletariat of this vast, unlettered Russia, which forms a part of the world's proletariat. Our enemies have weaker nerves than we and the very superiority of their education makes them more susceptible to the dread winds of panic.
"And in their panic lies our victory, for under the influence of panic they will do things to their own people which even we would not do to them. They are doing such things now. They have got panic mad. This drawer is filled with such proofs of it as you would hardly credit. Both in Russia and outside Russia they are nearly always doing the very things we would like them to do. Nevertheless they are not quite broken yet, and they possess a formidable reserve of intellect and strength which is certainly to be dreaded.
"However, they are more accessible to suggestion, for they all read, and if they read history right they will see that their doom is foretold in it. For history is a record of the proletariat's gradual rise. Kings have gone; nobles have gone; the people alone will remain. Of course there may be checks to the reactions and capitalism may conquer for a time. But it will only be for a time. In this frozen land we have sown the seed which cannot ever be destroyed."
Lenine drew attention to an article he had written in praise of the bourgeois specialists – that is, the engineers, &c. – against whom the Bolshevist workmen have prejudices which Lenine is trying to overcome. He wrote:
"The bourgeois specialist who knows his job is ten times more useful to us than the conceited Communist who is only able to shout slogans and write twaddle."
Discussing French literature he repeated a ballad by the French poet, Beranger, called "Le Chant du Cossaque," in which the author, although writing at the time when the Cossack was the strongest support of reaction, prophesied that the time would come when the Cossack would smash the thrones of Kings and the altars of priests.
"That time," Lenine said, "has come."