“When Kronstadt fell, the last embers of the revolution died. The Bolsheviks failed to realise that the state – an authoritarian structure that concentrates power in the hands of a small ruling class – cannot be used to create a socialist society. Anarchists had long pointed out that a “workers’ state” was a contradiction in terms. It would simply be a one-party state based on state-capitalism. History proved them right. The only way a socialist society could have been created in Russia, or anywhere else, was by workers and peasants themselves, based on worker self-management, collectivisation, and direct democracy through organs of self-governance – in other words an anarchist society. By the time of Kronstadt, the Bolsheviks had assured that such a society would not come about and when workers and peasants tried to bring a freer, more just, society about they were crushed by the state. In the end it was not the Kronstadters who proved to be counter-revolutionaries; but the Bolsheviks.
“This lesson is more important than ever. People wanting to build a truly democratic socialism need to be aware that the state itself, of whatever type, is neither an ally of the popular classes nor an institution they can use. Workers, the poor and peasants need to build counter-power, outside and against the state and capital, to create a new society within the shell of the old. Faith needs to be placed in workers and the poor to bring genuine socialism about – the task of revolutionaries is to encourage this, not substitute for it. As Bakunin pointed out “the authoritarian system of decrees, in trying to impose freedom and equality, obliterates both”.