G. Zinoviev


The Import of the Events in Bulgaria

(18 October 1923)

Source: International Press Correspondence, Vol. 3 No. 67 [43], 18 October 1923, pp. 751–752.
On-line Publication: Zinoviev Internet Archive, May 2023.
Transcription/Mark-up: Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

The September insurrection of the workers and peasants of Bulgaria has been crushed. A regime of cruel vengeance has set in, the lives of thousands of champions of the working class and the peasantry have already been sacrificed, and many more will still fall victims. The import of the September events can only be comprehended if regarded in the light of the June events of the earlier part of the year.

The White upheaval on 9 June 1923 took place whilst the situation was as follows: The leaders of the peasantry grouped around the Stambulisky government were carrying on a desperate struggle against the working class of the towns, which latter was headed by the Communist Party. The Central Committee of the Bulgarian Communist Party did not grasp the call of the hour, and proved incompetent for the rapid regrouping of forces which would have enabled it to join hands with the peasantry against the Whites – which would have been rendered even more possible as a result of the indignation aroused by the persecution of the Communists by Stambulisky. Stambulisky himself, and his closest friends were blind. A few days before the White seizure of government, the officers who had remained faithful to Stambulisky drew his attention to the counter-revolution in preparation against him, but he was not concerned about it, and answered with perfect self-satisfaction that as he possessed the majority in Parliament – 242 deputies – he had no need to fear being overthrown, but the masses of the peasantry, who had long retained their allegiance for Stambulisky on account of a past containing much merit in the eyes of the peasants, were now at the parting of the ways. At the time of the upheaval on 9 June; they had begun to lose their faith in their bankrupt party leaders surrounding Stambulisky, but had not yet sufficient confidence in the Communist Party, and this Communist Party had not yet learnt die requisite action to be taken for winning the faith of the peasantry.

The loose political relations among the peasantry, the objective impossibility of playing an independent political rôle, the political clumsiness and demoralization of the leaders of the peasants’ party, with its simple-minded faith in the unshakability of “democracy” these were one of the causes of the victory of the White upheaval on 9 June. The second cause of the victory of Zankoff’s White revolution consisted of the fact that the Communist Party, reared for decades in the midst of peaceful propaganda work, found it difficult to change over to armed action. The doctrinaire attitude of the leading elements in the C.P. is a part of this second cause, for it prevented them from grasping the necessity of joining forces wtth the peasantry against the fascist town bourgeoisie.

The masses were against Zankoff. But the loose relations among these masses their political immobility, and the incorrect tactics adopted by the communist leaders enabled the few shock troops of the Fascist bourgeoisie to seize power.

But a very few months passed before opinions had undergone a radical change among the peasantry. Today the Bulgarian peasants are no longer at the parting of the ways. Their almost undivided sympathies are now with the Communist Party. The whole Bulgarian people, except a few rich villagers, regard the Zankoff government, which has robbed the peasants of their land, with the profoundest and most insuperable hate. An intense enmity against the White regime is spreading through all the villages of Bulgaria. Every peasant grinds his teeth with impatience, and longs for the moment when he hated regime can be overthrown. The Bulgarian peasants are beginning to take their political fate into their own hands, for they comprehend that If they try to steer a middle course between the bourgeoisie and the peasantry, as Stambuliski tried to do, they rush inevitably to ruin, and they comprehend further that they can only shake off the yoke of the Zankoff regime if they ally themselves with the workers of the towns. The C.P. of Bulgaria has never before – so say Bulgarian communists – been able to boast of such general support among the peasantry as now.

“We believe in you only. We know that you alone are capable of leading us in the fight”; this is what the peasants are saying.

When the first reports arrived regarding the September insurrection, it almost appeared as if the Bulgarian communists, who were too late in taking action in June, had been too hasty in September. But it has now been ascertained that they found themselves in the dilemma of either succumbing without a struggle beneath the blows of Zankoff’s savage persecution, or of exposing themselves to the possibility of a serious defeat by refusing to back out of fight at the moment when the Fascist government had resolved upon the annihilation of the Communist Party. Our Bulgarian brother party chose the latter course. And this was the right course, so far as it is possible to judge it from a distance. It did not carry off a direct victory. It suffered heavy losses, but it did not give way without a struggle. It showed not only the workers, but also the peasantry, that it is ready to place itself at the head of all the revolutionary forces in the country for the purpose of emancipating the country from the yoke of the bourgeoisie. All reports reaching us from Bulgaria go to show that the Bulgarian Communist Party, despite the severe defeat, has gained greatly in revolutionary prestige, especially in the villages. The September defeat is one of those defeats bearing within them the inevitability of the coming victory.

The peasantry is ready, almost without exception, to march with the Communist Party. Every peasant clenches his fist against the Zankoff government. The peasantry blockades the capital, refuses to supply food. The peasant youth plunges into the struggle. But – there are no weapons. Adversaries armed to the teeth have almost to be fought with bare fists. Stambulisky was simple-minded enough to leave the peasantry unarmed. And thus the few shock troops again decided the conflict in this case: The Russian Wrangel troops look over the gendarm and espionage service, the small White Macedonian troops played a very important part.

But a fermentation has set in in Zankoff’s regular army, consisting to a great extent of Boyards. And this is bound to be the case. The soldiers are bound by a thousand ties to the villages which hate Zankoff’s regime, with an intense and irreconcilable hostility.

The Bulgarian Communist Party, having corrected is doctrinary error, has opened out the path for victory in the near future. In a country like Bulgaria it is impossible for any single regime to rule in opposition to a peasantry with a revolutionary ideology, a peasantry which has recognized the necessity of joining forces with the workers and their Communist Party. A period of intense partizan war is beginning; this will spread steadily, and end with the victory of the workers and peasants. The C.P. of Bulgaria has issued the right slogan to the insurgents in those towns in which the rising ended unfavorably: to withdraw into the villages and mountains and to here begin a partizan war. No man in Zankoff’s position can find sufficient forces to enable him to occupy the whole of the villages of Bulgaria by counter-revolutionary troops. Attempts to occupy revolutionary Bulgarian villages will have the effect of gaining the peasants in the army more rapidly than ever for the cause of the revolutionists.

Bulgarian White Social Democracy has played the most despicable rôle, and Noske may look to his laurels. Even the Russian SR began a campaign abroad against the Bulgarian Mensheviki who permitted themselves to be utilized as executioners against the Bulgarian peasantry. The yellow Second international preserves dead silence on the criminal rôle played by its Bulgarian section. That section of the railwaymen and post-office officials who had still been under the influence of the Bulgarian “socialists” until the September insurrection, is now beginning to understand the part it has been playing up to now.

The Bulgarian events in June-September 1923 are of profound significance, not only for Bulgaria, but for the general estimate of the importance of the peasantry. Together with a working class led by the Communist Party, the peasantry is everything. Without the working class, and endeavoring to take up an intermediate “independent” position between the bourgeoisie and the working class, the peasantry is nothing. And every such endeavor leads to the open dictatorship of unbounded landowning reaction. Peasants of all countries, learn a lesson from the sufferings of Bulgaria! The experience gained in Bulgaria must become the properly of the active section of the peasantry of the whole world. The communists must utilize this experience for opening the eyes of the peasants whom the bourgeois and petty bourgeois parties make use of demagogically for their own ends.

Class elements essentially hostile to the peasantry, invariably try to gain a hold over the peasants, and the communists must reply to this with intense propaganda for the workers’ and peasants’ government, and must make it clear to the active section cf the peasantry of the whole world that the peasantry can only defend its real interests when allied to the working people of the towns. This is the import of the Bulgarian events.

This lesson is extremely difficult, and has been dearly bought. May it be of service to the Communist Parties of the whole world.

Last updated on 3 May 2023