Victor Serge wrote in the revolutionary press and proclaimed his adhesion to this new Bolshevism,
He presented it in such a way that it appeared to us amiable and promising,
But when I went to see him in Petrograd, he opened his heart to us, admitting the very opposite of what he wrote in his articles. He warned us against the Cheka, against the dictatorship of the party, etc.
He explained that the (bolshevik) trade unions were a caricature based on the piston and the bureaucracy, and that there were companions in prison, despite the secretary of the Cheka was saying that "They were not anarchists but simple bandits and counter-revolutionary "
Lenin finally agreed to receive us. I remember that we went up to the first floor and then we were in a sort of antechamber, he appeared before us. He greeted us in French, one by one; When you gave him his hand, he would hold it tight and look at you for thirty seconds (30 seconds is long when someone looks at you in the way he did), asked you who you were, who you represent, with much ease, "without manner" as we say Frenchmen; It almost made you dizzy. He led us into a large room with a rectangular table. The delegate for England, Tom Mann, who was a left-wing unionist who had fought hard and was the one with us who had more weight, took his seat next to him. He spoke in English with Lenin, and while he was responding, I could see Mann changing his face and the doubt in his face instead of the affirmative nods he used at the beginning. While both spoke, I passed behind them and could sit at the end of the table. Then Lenin spoke to all of us and told us that in view of the way the English delegate had spoken, we were very uninformed because the prisoners who were there were not anarchists but bandits who had agreed with the white generals, derailed trains, murdered hundreds of people ... Then I intervened: "Excuse me, Comrade Lenin, but I went to Taganka prison and spoke with Voline, and what he said to me does not at all agree with all this, this is what Voline did ... "; I then spoke of his diary, his lectures, his engagement in the struggle against General Denikin, etc., with much precision, given in support. I saw Lenin surprised, I will not say astonished, but almost. There was a characteristic in him, when others spoke, he looked on the ceiling and smiled with a kind of cynicism so that the speaker lost his inspiration after a few minutes. But he listened to me, and when I was finished, he remained visibly disconcerted and began to ruminate the question: "If it is really as you say, it completely changes the aspect of the problem, And we will see what we can do, because the information I have is not consistent ... "At that moment he found his point of departure:" ... You have to understand that we must struggle not only against the traditional counter-revolutionists but also against revolutionaries who have gone on to the counter-revolution, as is the case with many anarchists ... ".
Several delegates and I then asked that freedom of expression should be recognized for the revolutionaries on the left of Bolshevism, Lenin then said that he could not satisfy it. We then demanded the release of the prisoners on hunger strike, to which he replied that he would ask the question before the politburo, but that he needed a formal request from us attached to a signed document of Trotsky, by which he took all the responsibility, and we made a mutual comedy: pretending that he could not decide it, and pretending to believe it. It was agreed that we should be answered the next day at the Hotel Lux, where we were staying. About noon we were brought a signed note from Trotsky, in which he assumed full responsibility for the affair, took up the accusations against the anarchists, and replied that all he could do was to release them on condition that they leave for the foreign. We had to accept, otherwise they would have died in prison.
I spoke to Alexandra Kollontai, who was militant in a leftist fraction of the Russian Communist Party, called The Workers' Opposition. I remember one day she bitterly confessed to me: "We can not do any propaganda, we are forbidden, we can not publish a bulletin, nor we can meet more than half a dozen people ...". And it was the same Alejandra Kollontai who had defended Lenin when Kerensky persecuted him!
stockwellpete wrote:the devastating impact of the civil war on the Russian economy which, in turn, led to the atomisation of the relatively small working class and the hollowing out of the Soviets (workers' councils). This led to the creation of a bureaucracy and put the Bolshevik party in a managerial relationship in relation to the workers and peasants who had made the revolution. This had nothing to do with Bolshevik doctrine and everything to do with the state of the Soviet Union as the civil war came to an end.
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