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lundi, 08 avril 2013

The Revolutionary Lessons of Michael Collins


The Rising:
The Revolutionary Lessons of Michael Collins

By Gregory Hood

Ex: http://www.counter-currents.com/

Michael Collins is a must see for any revolutionary, especially those who feel all hope is lost. The film begins with defeat for the revolutionaries, and the survivors hiding like rats in underground tunnels. By the end, they are dictating policy in councils of state. For a White Nationalist, the rise of the eponymous hero is consistently inspiring.

But there is also the fall. Michael Collins shows the pretty rivalries, greed, and political miscalculations that can destroy any movement from within. This is not a paean to militancy for militancy’s sake. It is a warning of the costs of violence and the inevitability of betrayal. Perhaps more importantly, it shows how the end of a friendship can lead to the collapse of a state. It’s a graduate course in nationalist revolution.

It should be noted that we’ll look at this film mostly on its own terms, ignoring some of the historical errors. Chief among them is the horrifically unfair treatment of Éamon de Valera, easily the dominant Irish political figure of the 20th century. While these errors detract from the film, they do not destroy the film’s importance nor the lessons it has to teach us.

Lesson 1 – The Blood Sacrifice Establishes the State

Michael Collins begins [3] with the Easter Rising of 1916. A sweeping panoramic of a scene of battle eventually ends on the General Post Office [4] in Dublin, where Michael Collins (Liam Neeson) and the other Irish Volunteers are utterly outmatched by British soldiers using artillery. They surrender and are marched out, in uniform, by business-like British officers who contemptuously refer to the uprising as a “farce.”

Of course, in real life it was a farce, and far from popular among the Irish people. Many Irish had relatives fighting in the British Army during World War I, and the feeling of many in the Empire was that the Rising was a unforgivable stab in the back while Great Britain was fighting for its life on the battlefields of Europe. In some areas, Irish civilians physically fought with the Volunteers, and some were even killed. In actuality, it was a rather pathetic spectacle, with a tinpot army marching about in uniforms while their own nominal leader (Eoin MacNeill [5]) tried to stop it.

None of this matters. The British, quite justifiably from their point of view, made the decision to execute the leaders of the rebellion. We see Éamon de Valera (Alan Rickman) writing a letter to Michael Collins while the now legendary figures of Connelly, Pearse, and Clarke are executed one by one in the background. De Valera is spared because he is an American citizen and writes to Collins, “The Irish Republic is a dream no longer. It is daily sealed by the lifeblood of those who proclaimed it. And every one of us they shoot brings more people to our side.”

Michael O’Meara writes in “Cú Chulainn in the GPO” in Toward the White Republic [6] that the violent birth of the Irish Republic was no accident. It the living out of a myth [7], a “noble Ireland won by violent, resolute, virile action” inspired by “millenarian Catholicism (with its martyrs), ancient pagan myth (with its heroes), and a spirit of redemptive violence (couched in every recess of Irish culture)” (p. 55).

The “slaughtered sheep” would brighten “the sacramental flame of their spirit.” O’Meara concludes that the sacrifice was not just for Ireland, but for a spiritual rebirth that would justify the Irish nation’s renewed existence, “for the sake of redeeming, in themselves, something of the old Aryo-Gaelic ways” (p. 59).

Once the sacred blood of revolutionaries was spilled, the Irish Republic became real, though it possessed no currency, territory, or international recognition. The policies enacted by the Irish Republic headed by de Valera became the political expression of the Irish nation, rather than a mummer’s farce of self-important and deluded men. The blood of fallen patriots made it real, the reaction of the British Empire granted it recognition, and the support of the Irish people followed in the wake of martyrdom. By losing, the Irish Volunteers won, for as Pearse said, “To refuse to fight would have been to lose. We have kept faith with the past, and handed down a tradition to the future” (p. 59).

Or, as de Valera put it in the film, “And from the day of our release, Michael, we must act as if the Republic is a fact. We defeat the British Empire by ignoring it.”

In the American experience, there are already proto-nationalist “governments” and states in exile. Harold Covington’s “Northwest American Republic [8],” the “Southern National Congress,” and the League of the South, and innumerable other would-be Founding Fathers make claims to be the political expression of various peoples. However, without the blood sacrifice, and the “recognition” granted by the military repression and extreme political reaction, such movements remain in the realm of myth [9].

Of course, that is where all nationalist movements have to begin.

Lesson 2 – The Transfer of Legitimacy Is Mental Before It is Political

In the American context, there’s a tiresome emphasis on individual “freedom,” which has become an all but meaningless phrase. In response, one should remember the admonition of Italian nationalist leader Giuseppe Garibaldi, that “Without Country you have neither name, token, voice, nor rights, no admission as brothers into the fellowship of the Peoples. You are the bastards of Humanity. Soldiers without a banner, Israelites among the nations, you will find neither faith nor protection; none will be sureties for you. Do not beguile yourselves with the hope of emancipation from unjust social conditions if you do not first conquer a Country for yourselves.”

Michael Collins believes something similar. As an organizer addressing a restive crowd soon after his release from prison, his theme is not that the British are “unfair” or that the Irish need “equality.” He tells the people that the Irish nation already exists, though it’s legitimate leaders are rotting in English jails. “I was in one myself till a week ago,” he jokes.

He continues [10], “They can jail us, they can shoot us, they can even conscript us. They can use us as cannon fodder in the Somme. But, but! We have a weapon, more powerful than any in the arsenal of their British Empire. And that our weapon is our refusal. Our refusal to bow to any order but our own, any institution but our own.”

Here, Collins skillfully draws the distinction between the institutions of “their” Empire and contrasts it with the legitimate institutions that “we” can build – and bow to. More importantly, pointing aggressively at the “our friends at the Royal Irish Constabulary,” he identifies the people who want to “shut me up” and challenges the Irish people to raise their voices if he is cut down.

This speech pays dividends when Ned Broy (Stephen Rea), a detective working for The Castle (the center of British power in Ireland), warns Collins that the entire cabinet of the Irish Republic is to be arrested. Broy (a composite of the real Ned Broy [11]and other characters) justifies his decision on the grounds that Collins can be “persuasive . . . what was it you said, our only weapon is our refusal.” The Irish Broy (whose name is repeatedly mispronounced by his English superiors) has transferred his loyalty from the state that pays his salary, to the new state that serves as the political expression of his people. This is the “revolution in the hearts and minds of the people” (to use John Adams’s phrase) necessary for any nationalist movement to succeed. It is also the outgrowth of de Valera’s entire strategy of building a parallel system of state.

Lesson 3 – Power Trumps Legalism

Michael-Collins-image-1.jpgUnfortunately, when we see the legitimate political expression of the Irish people in action, it is not impressive. The Cabinet of the Irish Republic is meeting in a tunnel. Dressed in suits and ties and carrying briefcases, they seem unlikely revolutionaries, squabbling over the extent of each minister’s “brief” and constantly pulling rank on one another.

Michael Collins and his sidekick Harry Boland (Aidan Quinn) are in, but not of this bureaucracy. Collins contemptuously dismisses a colleague’s charge that he is simply Minister for Intelligence by saying he’s the Minister for “Gunrunning, Daylight Robbery, and General Mayhem.” Interestingly, de Valera smiles wryly at this.

Collins reveals that the entire Cabinet is to be arrested but Éamon de Valera sees this as an opportunity, not a danger. As President of the Irish Republic, he orders everyone to sleep at home – if they are all arrested “the public outcry will be deafening.” Of course, when de Valera is arrested, he’s dragged into a truck yelling futilely about an “illegal arrest by an illegal force of occupation” – a strange claim from a revolutionary leader. Significantly, Collins and Boland disobey their “chief,” escape capture, and make plans to accelerate their program of guerrilla warfare.

Earlier, we saw Collins leading an attack on an arsenal to capture weapons. He tells his guerrillas that they will be organized in “flying columns” and engage the enemy on nobody’s terms but their own. The resource conscious Collins warns them each gun must be expected to capture ten more. At the same time, he imposes a core of discipline typical of a standard army.

This dual approach parallels his approach to the state. He recognizes the legitimacy of “his” government, the Irish Republic. His ultimate loyalty is to his “chief,” Éamon de Valera. At the same time, Collins recognizes that a revolutionary army – and government – has to impose costs on its adversary if it is to be effective. To “ignore” the British Empire is enough when it comes to the personal transfer of loyalty necessary for national liberation. However, to actually break the control of the system, there has to be concrete action.

This means breaking the “rules” that normal states obey. A national liberation army will use the “uniform of the man in the street,” the guerrillas will attack and fade away when necessary, and the chain of command must occasionally be violated for tactical reasons.

Lesson 4 – Intelligence Determines the Fate of Insurgencies

Early in the film, Collins is told that British Intelligence “knows what we [had] for breakfast.” In response, he says, “There’s only one way to beat them then. Find out what they had for breakfast.” In order to test whether he can trust Broy, he asks for admittance to The Castle so he can check the files the enemy possess about the Irish liberation movement. He’s stunned at the extent of what they know and comments to Broy, “You could squash us in a week.”

Nationalists and dissenters sometimes look to asymmetrical warfare as an invincible tactic for defeating the system. In reality, it is the weapon of the weak, and the price of weakness is that you most often lose. A powerful system can infiltrate, subvert, and destroy revolutionary organizations through legal pressure on individuals, financial enticements to informers, and well trained double agents. It’s no coincidence that the quasi-government Southern Poverty Law Center openly styles itself as a secret police force with an “Intelligence Report” used to destroy the personal lives of people they don’t like.

Lacking financial resources and functioning bureaucracies, a revolutionary group has to rely on the iron character of its members, and while this sounds idealistic and proud, the hard reality is that no group in history has been free of human weakness. As Americans learned in Iraq and Afghanistan during successful counter-insurgency operations, even groups that think they are fighting for God are capable of being corrupted. Any revolutionary movement can be penetrated, and once it is penetrated, it is easily destroyed.

Collins is aware of this, and comments to his men, “Any of ye who have read Irish history know that movements like ours have always been destroyed by paid spies and informers.” However, “without [informers], the Brits would have no system, they couldn’t move.” In response to this reality, there is only one thing to do. Cigarette hanging out of his mouth like a gangster, he dictates a letter. “To whom it may concern: This is to inform you that any further collaboration with the forces of occupation will be punishable by death. You have been warned. Signed, the Irish Republican Army.”

Here, Michael Collins establishes a strategic objective. “Now imagine Dublin with The Castle like an enclave, where anyone, and I mean anyone who collaborated knew he’d be shot. They wouldn’t be able to move outside those fucking walls.” We have only to look at the American experience in Iraq guarding informers or the Mexican struggle against narco guerrillas (where the police cover their faces out of fear) to know that nothing has changed.

The one advantage a nationalist revolutionary has is that he knows the terrain better than the people he is fighting. If both sides are fully dependent for intelligence on their own resources, without the benefit of paid informers, the nationalists are going to win. After all, they are fighting amidst their own people.

One thing Michael Collins exploits throughout the entire film is that no one (other than Broy) knows what he looks like. This is remarkably unlikely in the film, seeing as how Collins is so bold as to go up and talk to various policeman. Furthermore, for our purposes, this is hardly a realistic strategy in the age of street cameras, social networking, and ubiquitous smart-phones and video.

Nonetheless, revolutionaries don’t have to make it easy for the enemy’s intelligence gathering efforts – so maybe you should take a second look at what you’ve put on your Facebook profile.

Lesson 5 – Make the Political Disagreement a Personal Cost

Collins sets up the “12 Apostles” who systematically murder collaborators and secret policemen. These are men, after all, who are just doing their job to protect the established system. The film takes care to show that some of them are churchgoers and prayerful men, hardly moral monsters. Nonetheless, they must die.

Collins makes his political struggle very personal. Earlier, an outraged policeman shouts at a captured IRA member that he won’t give in to their demands. “What, give up our jobs, and miss out on all the fun?” In response, the IRA member spits back, “Or face the music.”

In this context, obviously this means violence. However, this lesson also applies in “normal” politics.

Certainly white advocates know, often with bitter personal experience, the costs of standing for your beliefs. Though these costs can be exaggerated, jobs, “friends,” and even family have been known to turn on white advocates once they are “outed” or targeted for extermination by the powers that be. A huge number of would-be white advocates are simply too intimidated by the social or financial costs to engage in racial or Traditionalist activism, and so instead they engage in harmless distractions (like libertarianism or Republicanism) or simply drop out altogether.

However, Leftists have also paid the price for political activity on occasion following campaigns by their political opponents. Few political activists – of whatever opinion – can survive in the midst of a personal campaign against them. Even in normal bourgeois politics, we are familiar with the term “throwing someone under the bus.”

A winning political movement increases the costs of association with an opposing political movement. This is all Michael Collins really does – an informer or collaborator has to consider for the first time whether the benefit of payment outweighs the possible cost of violent death. As the spiritual momentum is on the Irish nationalist side, Collins has changed the entire momentum of the conflict.

There’s a word to describe an effort by one group to break the will of another. That word is war – and politics is simply war by the other means.

Thus, Collins freely admits that he “hates” the British. He hates them not because of their race or religion, but because there is no other way. “I hate them for making hate necessary.”

Lesson 6 – Weakness is worse than cruelty; symbolism must be backed by power

While Michael Collins and Harry Boland are waging their guerrilla war, Éamon de Valera is rotting in an English jail. However, he manages to sneak out a copy of the key, and Collins and Boland manage to rescue their chief. Éamon de Valera is seen in a mass rally in Dublin, while the British police stare at him powerless. However, de Valera repeats his earlier mistake and decides that he wants to go to America to seek recognition from the American President. Perhaps more importantly, he takes Harry Boland with him.

It is left to Michael Collins to continue the war, which escalates when the arrival of MI5 Operative Soames (Charles Dance aka Tywin Lannister). Soames suspects Broy, possibly because the latter is constantly correcting his superior as to the proper pronunciation of his Irish name. He catches Broy in the act and has him killed, but is killed himself when Collins launches the assassinations of November 21, 1920 (Bloody Sunday).

When de Valera returns to Ireland having failed to secure diplomatic recognition, he begins a bureaucratic offensive against Collins. He orders the IRA to abandon guerrilla tactics because it allows the British press to call them “murderers.” Instead, he wants large-scale engagements, such as an attack on the Customs House. The attack leads to devastating losses among Republican forces (though the movie neglects to show its positive propaganda effects). Not surprisingly, Collins sneers at the “heroic ethic of failure” of 1916. There is no need for a further blood sacrifice – the British must be brought to their knees “they only way they know how.”

Saul Alinsky wrote in Rules for Radicals that the concern with means and ends varies inversely with one’s proximity to the conflict. Or, as Michael Collins protests to de Valera, “War is murder! Sheer, bloody murder! Had you been here you’d know that!” The attack on the Customs House almost breaks the IRA, and Collins believes that the rebellion is within days of being destroyed in the aftermath.

Éamon de Valera is conscious of his own dignity and the dignity of the Irish Republic as a “legitimate” government. It is not surprising that he favors tactics typical of a “normal” state. However, a revolutionary state is by definition not “normal.” Concessions are won not with fair play and appeals to common principles, but with force. In international relations, little has changed since Thucydides – “the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.” Paradoxically, the Irish Republican (or any revolutionary state) can only be brought into existence by methods that can be characterized as “illegitimate.”

Lesson 7 – The head of a revolutionary movement must participate in, if not command, the war effort

Éamon de Valera was no coward, having participated in the Easter Rising of 1916. However, throughout the film, de Valera shows a curious inability to recognize what is actually happening on the ground. He sees no problem in taking Michael Collins’s most trusted lieutenant Harry Boland at a critical moment in the guerrilla struggle for what is essentially a public relations mission. His attack on the Customs House is launched despite the blunt warning of Michael Collins that it will lead to disaster.

It’s suggested that most of this is motivated by de Valera’s jealousy of Collins and his desire to eliminate a political rival. When Collins and Boland break de Valera out of prison, there is a brief moment of comradely laughter before the chief mentions unpleasantly that he can see the two of them are having a good time because he “reads the papers.” When he returns from America, he is picked up by one of Collins’s aides who tells him “the Big Fella (Collins) sends his regards.” Éamon de Valera spits back, “We’ll see who is the big fella.”

The film strains to present Éamon de Valera as selfish, perhaps even evil, but most of his actions are more than justified from a political perspective. Irish independence is, after all, dependent on negotiations with the British, and there is a strong case to be made that they will not negotiate with people they consider to just be savage murderers. Furthermore, American pressure on Britain in the midst of World War I would have been an invaluable asset to the Irish diplomatic effort. Finally, as President of the Irish Republic, de Valera would be insane to allow a powerful rival with military backing emerge as a separate power center within the government. Removing Boland is a potent political step – as Collins himself recognizes. “We were too dangerous together,” he muses to Boland when the break is beyond healing.

blood-upon-the-rose.jpgThe problem is that all of this political maneuvering should be secondary to his primary role of leading a military effort. Though de Valera is obviously commander in chief, he has little connection to actual military operations throughout the film. This is at least a partial explanation for his stunning strategic incompetence.

Throughout the film, there is a fatal separation between the head of the state, the development of strategy, and the execution of a guerrilla war. Éamon de Valera bears heavy responsibility for this because of his disastrous choice to abandon the field for America. This dereliction of duty ultimately forced Collins to take almost sole command of the war for independence, despite his personal loyalty to his President. Éamon de Valera had to act as he did in order to maintain his political leadership, but his ceding of military leadership had catastrophic consequences. If he had stayed in Ireland, none of his political maneuvering would have been necessary.

In a revolutionary movement, there can be no separation between the so-called “civilian” and military leadership. It is a thinly veiled fiction in our democracies anyway. The conflict between Michael Collins and Éamon de Valera was inevitable once the President of the Irish Republic saw his role as being a political leader, rather than a military “chief.”

Lesson 8 – The nationalist myth cannot be undone by pragmatism – even if the myth is becoming destructive

The final section of the movie focuses of the Irish Civil War. Michael Collins brings back the Anglo-Irish Treaty, which creates the Irish Free State, not the Irish Republic. The two most controversial elements of the treaty are an oath of allegiance to the British Crown and the partition of Northern Ireland.

The reunion between Michael Collins and his former sidekick Harry Boland is hardly joyful. Collins appears embarrassed as Boland asks him in horror, “Mick, is this true?”

Collins quickly turns his wrath on Éamon de Valera. “It was the best anyone could have got. And more important Dev knew it. He wanted somebody else to bring back the bad news.” Éamon de Valera for his part screams at Collins, “You published the terms without my agreement!” Collins challenges de Valera to stand by the treaty if the Irish people stand by it; de Valera is silent.

Instead, we see Éamon de Valera giving a passionate speech in front of a giant Irish tricolor. “This treaty bars the way to the Republic with the blood of fellow Irishmen! And if it is only through civil war that we can get our independence then so be it!”

When the debate takes place in the Dail, one of Collins’s political opponents charges, “When the people of Ireland elected us to represent the Republic, did they think we were liars. . . . Mr. Collins would have us take an oath of allegiance to a foreign king.” Collins wins narrow approval through his reputation and his plea to “save the country” from “a war none of us can even contemplate.” Nonetheless, Éamon de Valera refuses to accept the treaty, saying it can “only subvert the Republic” and continues his opposition even after the treaty is ratified by a referendum of the Irish people.

When the Irish Volunteers began their rebellion against the Treaty in the Irish Civil War, Collins is outraged when he is told that Churchill is offering the Irish Free State artillery. “Let Churchill do his own dirty work!” he rages. An aide responds, “Maybe he will Michael, maybe he will.” Collins has to put down the rebellion or risk the British seizing control. In uniform, with all the power of a modern state behind him, a disgusted Collins orders the artillery bombardment of a rebel stronghold. The opening scene is now reversed, with Michael Collins in the position of the British bombing the heroes of Easter 1916.

When Harry Boland is killed, Collins reacts with rage against the boy who shot him. “You killed him, you little uniformed git. You plugged him, you little Free State gobshite. You were meant to protect him!” Instead of the picture of Michael Collins we are familiar with, proud and dignified in his Free State uniform, Collins is disgusted with himself. After all, he is bombing his former comrades with weapons provided by the British Empire, in order to preserve a state nominally pledged to service of a foreign king.

Michael Collins was ultimately right that the Irish Free State was simply a “stepping stone to the ultimate freedom” for most of Ireland. Given the IRA’s weak military situation by the end of the war, the Irish Free State probably was, as Collins claimed, “the best anyone could have got.” As Collins’s supporters in the Dail pointed out, nowhere in the exchange of letters that preceded negotiations was the recognition of the Irish Republic made as a demand. Given that the Irish would gain a government of their own that they could use to “achieve whatever they wanted,” it does seem foolish to go to war “over the form of words.”

However, revolutions have a terrible logic all their own. The heroic myth of the nation rising to self-consciousness through the sacrament of the blood sacrifice is impervious to pragmatic considerations. Why did the Irish suffer and die if only to end up as subjects to the British Crown? How can any Irish patriot wear the uniform of a government that fires on Irishmen with British supplied weapons?

When Éamon de Valera and his deputies leave the hall, Collins screams, “Traitors! Traitors all!” But traitors to whom? Even Michael Collins seems to despise the uniform he wears. Nonetheless, he has made the (in my judgment, correct) rational decision that the Irish Free State is the best hope of achieving the national aspirations of the Irish people and that patriots owe it their allegiance. But myths are impervious to reason. The romantic impulses that can launch a revolution can also destroy it, if not controlled.

Saul Alinsky writes in Rules for Radicals that organizers must be masters of “political schizophrenia.” They must sincerely believe in what they are doing, if only to give them the strength of will to carry forward in difficult times. However, they should never become a “true believer” in the sense of fully internalizing their own propaganda. The point of politics is to achieve concrete ends, not simply to remain true to a dream.

The Myth of nationalist (and racial) redemption is True in some platonic sense. That doesn’t mean it has to be a suicide pact. Revolutionaries have to be willing to die for the dream, but idealism does not exempt them from the laws of political reality.

Lesson 9 – Revolutionary moments create opportunities that are lost in time, but they should be seized incrementally

While Collins was ultimately correct about the short-lived nature of even nominal British control over the Free State, the division of the North was fatal to hopes of a united Ireland. To this day, Ireland remains split, and the British flag flies over Ulster despite decades of revolutionary agitation and violent resistance.

Part of this has to do with the utter corruption of the Irish nationalist movement in the decades after his death. So called Irish nationalists like Sinn Fein have been reduced to arguing that the Republic desperately needs more black immigrants. In the centuries-long struggle between Catholics and Protestants, the winners might be the Nigerians.

There’s also the more substantial question as to whether Ulster Protestants under the Red Hand constitute a separate people, rather than simply existing as an outgrowth of British colonialism. Irish sovereignty over Ulster could be interpreted simply as another form of occupation.

However, from the viewpoint of contemporary Irish nationalists, the acquiescence to division of the country has to be seen as a disaster. The revolutionary momentum of the Free State period was ultimately lost as people reconciled themselves with the status quo of division. If a united Ireland was held to be truly non-negotiable, it had to have been accomplished within only a few years of the formation of the state. Instead, the status quo provides a fatal opening for “moderates” and “realists” to sell out the long term dream of unity for smaller political advantages.

In fairness, Michael Collins never fully reconciled himself to the division of Ireland. At the time of his death, he was planning a new offensive [12] in the North, this time with the backing of state power. Again, to turn to Alinsky, this is the proper course of action given political realities. Revolutionaries should always be ready to accept incremental gains, but should also continue moving the goal posts until they reach their ends. Certainly, the Left has been a master of this over the last century, as each new concession simply fuels the demand for more surrender by conservatives.

Revolutionaries should take what they can get – but never concede that the struggle is finished until they can get all of it. The tragedy for Irish nationalists is that the more “extreme” anti-Treaty partisans may have destroyed the hope of a united Ireland by killing Michael Collins. Michael Collins’s approach may have been more complicated and less ideologically satisfying, but ultimately more likely to succeed.

Lesson 10 – Draft the People

James Mason writes in Siege that white revolutionaries must see all white people as their “army.” The fact that they do not support us now is irrelevant – eventually, they will be drafted.

The IRA’s assassination campaign imposes great costs on the Irish people as a whole. The arrival of the auxiliaries and the Black & Tans unquestionably made life more difficult for ordinary people. The murder of the Cairo Gang led the British to strike back in a wild frenzy at an Irish football game, leading to the deaths of many ordinary people who had nothing to do with the political struggle. In the film, Collins rages at the brutality of the British. In practice, this is deeply dishonest. It’s only to be expected that the IRA’s campaign would lead to greater repression of the Irish people.


Terrorism and violent resistance may make life more difficult for the people you are trying to represent. This is not an unfortunate side effect – it is an intended reaction. Revolutionary movements should seek to expose the repression inherent in the system by refusing to let the authorities hide behind half measures. More importantly, a successful revolutionary campaign forces everyone in the country to take a side. It removes neutrality as an option. As the system can only maintain control by imposing greater costs upon the population, a revolutionary campaign that makes life worse for the people may have the paradoxical effect of garnering greater popular support.

As a revolutionary, you are taking upon yourself the responsibility of “dragging the people into the process of making history,” to use Dugin’s phrase. This requires a stern code of personal responsibility so as to live up to this mission. It also necessitates a willingness to pay a personal price. However, the most important quality revolutionaries have to possess is the moral courage to accept that you will be the cause of suffering among your own people. And when the time comes, like Michael Collins, you must do what is necessary to end that suffering.

Lesson 11 – Impose shared sacrifice and experiences among the leadership

It is no use calling for “unity” among the political leadership of revolutionary movements. By definition, anyone who is attracted to a revolutionary movement is going to be ideologically nonconformist and willing to risk all for the sake of principle. You put a group of these people in a room and they are going to fight about something eventually.

However, Michael Collins gives a different interpretation to the eventual break between Harry Boland and Michael Collins. Boland is in love with Kitty (Julia Roberts) but she wants to be with Collins. The growth of the relationship between Kitty and Collins moves in tandem with the collapse of the friendship between Boland and Collins. Though Collins continues to pledge his friendship to Boland, it is easy to understand Boland’s wrath at a man who essentially stole his girlfriend. Within the context of the film, the ideological differences between Boland and Collins seem like after the fact justifications for a rivalry based in petty personal conflict.

That said, there’s a deeper lesson to seen if the romantic triangle is interpreted as just a metaphor. Boland, Collins, and de Valera are politically and personally united when they share common experiences and common struggles. When de Valera is being spirited away from British raid to flee to America, Collins tells him, “Remember one thing over there. You’re my chief – always.” It’s only after Éamon de Valera returns from America that conflicts become truly serious. Éamon de Valera is no longer a “chief” but a politician. There is a host of separate experiences now separating Collins and his President.

The break between Boland and Collins follows a similar pattern. When Boland is Collins’s fellow guerrilla, they are inseparable. Despite the romantic tensions between the triangle, Kitty, Boland, and Collins are able to coexist in easy intimacy. However, when Boland and Collins develop separate institutional roles, the personal tension elevates into political rivalries and eventually, opposing camps in the government.

Revolutionary movements have to impose a common body of experience on all members insofar as it is possible. Different perspectives, backgrounds, and skills are all valuable and useful but not if they lead to division. At the risk of sounding like a sensitivity trainer, everyone involved in the movement should have a healthy respect for the circumstances and difficulties that all of them are facing in their different roles.


Several years ago, I recall that a white advocacy group fliers with pictures of Michael Collins in his Irish Free State uniform. Our sophisticated media and the well trained population immediately interpreted this as a picture of a “Nazi” in uniform, and there was the usual hysteria. This depressing anecdote shows that despite our information saturation, we live in a remarkably uninformed age. Even the millions of Americans of Irish descent have only the most distant knowledge of the Emerald Isle’s long struggle for independence.

White revolutionaries do not have the luxury of ignorance. If the battle for a white ethnostate is to follow the lines of an anti-colonial struggle, the Irish independence movement is the closest thing that we have to a modern model. The period of the Irish Free State and the Civil War shows not only how a successful movement can triumph, but how it can also destroy itself.


Michael Collins is a good beginning for any white revolutionary seeking to define the struggle. The quest for an ethnostate is not a struggle for “freedom” or some silly abstraction, but an order of our own and institutions of our own that will allow us to achieve what we desire as a people. To achieve this requires the power of Myth, the tactics of soldiers, and the skill of politicians. This Easter, commemorate the Rising by watching Michael Collins and absorbing its lessons. Then with more research into this movement and others, prepare for the Rising to come.

Article printed from Counter-Currents Publishing: http://www.counter-currents.com

URL to article: http://www.counter-currents.com/2013/03/the-rising-the-revolutionary-lessons-of-michael-collins/

URLs in this post:

[1] Image: http://www.counter-currents.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/michaelcollinsposter.jpg

[2] Image: http://www.counter-currents.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/michaelcollins.jpg

[3] begins: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aq7bcY9tuao

[4] General Post Office: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Post_Office_(Dublin)

[5] Eoin MacNeill: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eoin_MacNeill#Revolutionary

[6] Toward the White Republic: http://www.counter-currents.com/toward-the-white-republic/

[7] myth: http://www.counter-currents.com/2010/06/cu-chulainn-in-the-gpo/

[8] Northwest American Republic: http://www.counter-currents.com/2010/11/the-northwest-novels-of-h-a-covington/

[9] myth: http://www.counter-currents.com/2010/09/the-myth-of-our-rebirth/

[10] continues: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vl11gInexsA

[11] Ned Broy : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ned_Broy

[12] offensive: http://books.google.com/books?id=xscRAhBt2JgC&pg=PA397&lpg=PA397&dq=then+we+can+resume+in+the+north+michael+collins&source=bl&ots=8q51pboR5N&sig=AmuQIGaW6sMGy6gzjRSqHfViUW8&hl=en&sa=X&ei=vXdXUeiyAYL69QT3loGgDw&ved=0CEwQ6AEwAw#v=onepage&q=then%20we%20can%20resume%20in%20the%20north%20michael%20collins&f=false

samedi, 06 avril 2013

Le mir

Le mirLe mir

Le mir est une institution organique russe qui, depuis les premières tribus slaves jusqu’aux derniers élans soviets, a maintenu une tradition radicalement démocratique sur ses terres. Il est le pendant économique et social du vétché. Il signifie à la fois « commune », « paix » et « monde ».

Le mir est une structure autonome fondée sur la possession collective de la terre, l’obchtchina, et le partage auto-administré des produits du travail commun de ses membres. Cette commune agraire arbore un régime démocratique sous sa forme la plus simple et directe, sans représentation, où chacun prend part à toutes les délibérations et décisions. Régulièrement, dans chaque village ou canton (pouvant rassembler jusqu’à 30 villages), l’ensemble des paysans librement associés avaient la liberté de traiter eux-mêmes leurs affaires. La terre, divisée en lots égaux, était partagée par tirage au sort entre les individus capables de la travailler et tous les autres sur la base des bouches à nourrir. Tous les produits étaient alors mis en commun assurant ainsi le bien public dans toute la communauté.

Présenté de la sorte sur le papier, le mir semble quelque peu bucolique. La réalité était bien plus tumultueuse, voire séditieuse ! Lisons cette description explicite extraite du magistral « L’Empire des tsars et des russes » d’Anatole Leroy-Beaulieu :

La première chose qui frappe celui qui assiste pour la première fois à l’une de ces réunions est l’extrême confusion qui semble y régner ; de président point ; d’ordre dans les débats aucun. La discussion est caractérisée par des scènes de tumulte. Celui qui a convoqué l’assemblée expose les motifs de cette convocation. Aussitôt après chacun se rue dans la mêlée ; toutes les opinions s’expriment à la fois ; on dirait par moment un combat à coups de poings. Pour avoir la parole il faut savoir la prendre et la garder. Si l’orateur plaît, l’auditoire se charge d’imposer silence aux interrupteurs. Si ce qu’il dit n’a pas d’importance, on ne s’occupe pas de lui et le premier venu peut le faire taire. S’agit-il d’une question brûlante qui échauffe toute une assemblée, tous pérorent en même temps personne n’écoute. Fort souvent on se sépare en petits groupes qui continuent à discuter chacun de leur côté et pour leur compte ; Tout le monde vocifère ; de part et d’autre on crie, on s’insulte, on s’accable réciproquement de sarcasmes, on se défie ; c’est un tumulte indescriptible qui semble ne produire aucun bon résultat.

Cependant, cette apparente confusion est sans portée. C’est une nécessité indispensable pour arriver au but voulu. Dans nos assemblées de village le scrutin est inconnu ; aucune décision ne peut être prise à la majorité des voix. Toutes les questions se règlent à l’unanimité. Il en résulte que la discussion générale ou particulière se poursuit jusqu’à ce qu’on émette une proposition qui concilie autant que possible tous les intérêts et rallie les suffrages de tout le mir. Il est évident qu’en vue d’aboutir à cette issue chaque sujet est débattu à fond et bien épluché, et il est clair que pour triompher d’une opposition isolée, les orateurs qui défendent des opinions contradictoires doivent être mis en présence face à face et ne peuvent vider leur querelle que par un combat singulier.

L’assemblée ne contraint pas la minorité à accepter des résolutions auxquelles celle-ci ne consent pas. Chacun est obligé de faire des concessions pour le bien commun et pour la paix et la prospérité de la communauté. La majorité ne tire aucun avantage de sa supériorité numérique. Le mir n’est pas un maître. »

Sans être un maître il demeura néanmoins une autorité suprême qui perdurera même sous le joug mongol puis le servage moscovite. Les envahisseurs comme les oligarques s’épargnaient ainsi la gestion des affaires agraires… Mais cette relative autonomie fut accordée au prix de lourds impôts.

Ainsi, malgré les empiétements du pouvoir mongol puis tsariste, le mir a offert sur les terres des paysans une certaine harmonie. Par ailleurs ce potentiel plus démocratique que révolutionnaire a longtemps prémuni le pays à la fois contre la création d’un prolétariat misérable et l’incursion de la corruption occidentale.

Aussi, de nombreux intellectuels en ont fait l’éloge tout en s’en inspirant comme base d’un renouveau social : du Baron Westphalien à Kropotkine en passant par August von Haxtausen, Alexandre Herzen, Tchernychevsky, Bakounine, Lavrov, Mikhailovsky, et même…Marx ! Ce dernier s’en fera en effet un temps partisan, il l’a écrit noir sur blanc à Vera Zassoulitch :

L’actuelle propriété collective pourra servir comme point de départ pour une évolution communiste. Cette commune rurale est le point d’appui de la régénération sociale en Russie, mais afin qu’elle puisse fonctionner comme tel, il faudrait d’abord éliminer les influences délétères qui l’assaillent de tous côtés et ensuite lui assurer les conditions normales d’un développement spontané. »

Mais comme souvent avec les propos messianiques, quand ils sont mal interprétés ils peuvent vite engendrer le pire… Ainsi les marxistes considéraient le mir comme un reliquat de l’époque féodale qui devait laisser sa place à l’exploitation capitaliste agraire, favorisant dès lors l’avènement d’un …prolétariat rural ! Cette méconnaissance, voire ce déni, doublé d’une hostilité du monde paysan russe, engendra sa « solution finale » par l’extermination de millions de ses membres par les armes, la déportation ou la famine organisée, durant la guerre civile et la collectivisation forcée des années 1929-1934.

Cédric Bernelas

Rivarol und die Französische Revolution

Salon des Institut français

Rivarol und die Französische Revolution

Der Übersetzer Ulrich Kunzmann liest aus ›Vom Menschen‹; die Historikerin Lisa Klewitz (Universität Mainz) hält anschließend einen Vortrag.
Ulrich Kunzmann, der bekannte Übersetzer romanischer Autoren, liest am 16. April im Salon des Schönborner Hofes (Institut Français) aus ›Vom Menschen‹ von Antoine de Rivarol. Darin greift Kunzmann, der den Band auch herausgegeben hat, auf die veröffentlichten Werke des großen Sprachkünstlers und Revolutionskritikers Rivarols zurück, die er gesammelt und pointiert ins Deutsche übersetzt hat.
Die Historikerin Lisa Klewitz wird uns im Anschluss an die Lesung einen Einblick in den historischen Kontext geben. Die Stipendiatin der Sibylle-Kalkhof-Rose-Stiftung hat als Forschungs- und Interessengebiet einerseits die Geschichte Frankreichs in der Frühen Neuzeit und andererseits das Rheinland unter der französischen Herrschaft.

Eine Veranstaltung des Institut français Mainz und des Historischen Seminars der Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz ›Gegen den Strom‹
Schillerstraße 11, 55116 Mainz

Antoine de Rivarol

Bücher zu dieser Veranstaltung

Antoine de Rivarol
Antoine de Rivarol: Vom Menschen

vendredi, 05 avril 2013

The Expulsion Of The Germans

The Expulsion Of The Germans: The Largest Forced Migration In History  

Ex: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/

expu000000.jpgIn December 1944 Winston Churchill announced to a startled House of Commons that the Allies had decided to carry out the largest forced population transfer -- or what is nowadays referred to as "ethnic cleansing" -- in human history.

Millions of civilians living in the eastern German provinces that were to be turned over to Poland after the war were to be driven out and deposited among the ruins of the former Reich, to fend for themselves as best they could. The Prime Minister did not mince words. What was planned, he forthrightly declared, was "the total expulsion of the Germans... For expulsion is the method which, so far as we have been able to see, will be the most satisfactory and lasting."

The Prime Minister's revelation alarmed some commentators, who recalled that only eighteen months previously his government had pledged: "Let it be quite clearly understood and proclaimed all over the world that we British will never seek to take vengeance by wholesale mass reprisals against the general body of the German people."

In the United States, senators demanded to know when the Atlantic Charter, a statement of Anglo-American war aims that affirmed the two countries' opposition to "territorial changes that do not accord with the freely expressed wishes of the people concerned" had been repealed. George Orwell, denouncing Churchill's proposal as an "enormous crime," took comfort in the reflection that so extreme a policy "cannot actually be carried through, though it might be started, with confusion, suffering and the sowing of irreconcilable hatreds as the result."

Orwell greatly underestimated both the determination and the ambition of the Allied leaders' plans. What neither he nor anybody else knew was that in addition to the displacement of the 7-8 million Germans of the East, Churchill, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin had already agreed to a similar "orderly and humane" deportation of the more than 3 million German-speakers -- the "Sudeten Germans" -- from their homelands in Czechoslovakia. They would soon add the half-million ethnic Germans of Hungary to the list.

Although the governments of Yugoslavia and Romania were never given permission by the Big Three to deport their German minorities, both would take advantage of the situation to drive them out also.

By mid-1945, not merely the largest forced migration but probably the largest single movement of population in human history was under way, an operation that continued for the next five years. Between 12 and 14 million civilians, the overwhelming majority of them women, children and the elderly, were driven out of their homes or, if they had already fled the advancing Red Army in the last days of the war, forcibly prevented from returning to them.

From the beginning, this mass displacement was accomplished largely by state-sponsored violence and terror. In Poland and Czechoslovakia, hundreds of thousands of detainees were herded into camps -- often, like Auschwitz I or Theresienstadt, former Nazi concentration camps kept in operation for years after the war and put to a new purpose.

expulses.jpgThe regime for prisoners in many of these facilities was brutal, as Red Cross officials recorded, with beatings, rapes of female inmates, gruelling forced labour and starvation diets of 500-800 calories the order of the day. In violation of rarely-applied rules exempting the young from detention, children routinely were incarcerated, either alongside their parents or in designated children's camps. As the British Embassy in Belgrade reported in 1946, conditions for Germans "seem well down to Dachau standards."

Though the death rates in the camps were often frighteningly high -- 2,227 inmates of the Mysłowice facility in southern Poland alone perished in the last ten months of 1945 -- most of the mortality associated with the expulsions occurred outside them.

Forced marches in which inhabitants of entire villages were cleared at fifteen minutes' notice and driven at rifle-point to the nearest border, accounted for many losses. So did train transports that sometimes took weeks to reach their destination, with up to 80 expellees crammed into each cattle car without adequate (or, occasionally, any) food, water or heating.

The deaths continued on arrival in Germany itself. Declared ineligible by the Allied authorities to receive any form of international relief and lacking accommodation in a country devastated by bombing, expellees in many cases spent their first months or years living rough in fields, goods wagons or railway platforms.

Malnutrition, hypothermia and disease took their toll, especially among the very old and very young. Although more research is needed to establish the total number of deaths, conservative estimates suggest that some 500,000 people lost their lives as a result of the operation.

Not only was the treatment of the expellees in defiance of the principles for which the Second World War had professedly been fought, it created numerous and persistent legal complications. At the Nuremberg trials, for example, the Allies were trying the surviving Nazi leaders on charges of carrying out "deportation and other inhumane acts" against civilian populations at the same moment as, less than a hundred miles away, they were engaging in large-scale forced removals of their own.

Similar problems arose with the UN's 1948 Genocide Convention, the first draft of which outlawed the "forced and systematic exile of individuals representing the culture of a group." This provision was deleted from the final version at the insistence of the U.S. delegate, who pointed out that it "might be interpreted as embracing forced transfers of minority groups such as have already been carried out by members of the United Nations."

To the present day, expelling states continue to go to great lengths to exclude the deportations and their continuing effects from the reach of international law. In October 2009, for example, the current President of the Czech Republic, Václav Klaus, refused to sign the European Union's Lisbon Treaty unless his country was granted an "exemption" ensuring that surviving expellees could not use the Treaty to seek redress for their maltreatment in the European courts. Facing the collapse of the accord in the event of Czech non-ratification, the EU reluctantly acquiesced.

To this day, the postwar expulsions -- the scale and lethality of which vastly exceed the ethnic cleansing that accompanied the break-up in the 1990s of the former Yugoslavia -- remain little known outside Germany itself. (Even there, a 2002 survey found that Germans under thirty had a more accurate knowledge of Ethiopia than of the areas of Europe from which their grandparents were deported.)

The textbooks on modern German and modern European history I use regularly in my college classroom either omit mention of the expulsions altogether, or relegate them to a couple of uninformative, and frequently inaccurate, lines depicting them as the inevitable consequence of Germany's wartime atrocities. In popular discourse, on the rare occasions that the expulsions are mentioned at all it is common to dismiss them with the observation that the expellees were "got what they deserved," or that the interest of the expelling states in unburdening themselves of a potentially disloyal minority population should take precedence over the deportees' right to remain in the lands of their birth.

Superficially persuasive as these arguments may appear, they do not stand up to scrutiny. The expellees were deported not after individual trial and conviction for acts of wartime collaboration -- something of which the children could not have been guilty in any event -- but because their indiscriminate removal served the interests of the Great Powers and the expelling states alike.

Provisions to exempt proven "anti-fascists" from detention or transfer were routinely ignored by the very governments that adopted them; Oskar Schindler, the most famous "anti-fascist" of all who had been born in the Czech town of Svitavy, was deprived by the Prague authorities of nationality and property like the rest.

The proposition, moreover, that it is legitimate in some circumstances to declare in respect of entire populations that considerations of human rights are simply not to apply is an exceedingly dangerous one. Once the principle that certain specially disfavoured groups may be treated in this way is admitted, it is hard to see why it should not be applied to others. Scholars including Andrew Bell-Fialkoff, John Mearsheimer and Michael Mann have already pointed to the expulsion of the Germans as an encouraging precedent for the organization of similar forced migrations in the former Yugoslavia, the Middle East and elsewhere.

The history of the postwar expulsions, though, shows that there is no such thing as an "orderly and humane" transfer of populations: violence, cruelty and injustice are intrinsic to the process. As the former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who fled Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia as a small child, has correctly noted: "Collective punishments, such as forced expulsions, are usually rationalized on the grounds of security but almost always fall most heavily on the defenseless and weak."

It is important to bear in mind that no valid comparison may be drawn between the expulsion of the Germans and the far greater atrocities for which Nazi Germany was responsible. Suggestions to the contrary -- including those made by expellees themselves -- are both offensive and historically illiterate.

Nonetheless, as the historian B.B. Sullivan has observed in another context, "greater evil does not absolve lesser evil." The postwar expulsions were by any measure one of the most significant occurrences of the mass violation of human rights in recent history. Their demographic, economic, cultural and political effects continue to cast a long and baleful shadow across the European continent. Yet their importance remains unacknowledged, and many vital aspects of their history have not been adequately studied.

Nearly seventy years after the end of the Second World War, as the last surviving expellees are passing from the scene, the time has come for this tragic and destructive episode to receive the attention it deserves, so that the lessons it teaches may not be lost and the unnecessary suffering it engendered may not be repeated.

Orderly & Humane


Orderly & Humane:
The Expulsion of the Germans After the Second World War


R. M. Douglas
Orderly and Humane: The Expulsion of the Germans after the Second World War
New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2012

After reading a book or two and watching a few hours of TV documentaries on the couch, most smugly imagine that they know something of World War II. Most, of course, know nothing. What most think about WWII is what the winners want them to think about WWII; we call it the victor’s version of history. That version is a rather neat and tidy account, a clean and pleasing morality play of heroes and villains, of good versus evil, of catchy and easy to remember phrases like “Crusade in Europe,” the “Good War,” the “Greatest Generation,” “Nazi butchers,” “Hitler, the Evil Madman,” “Six Million,” etc. That black and white version paints the losers as all-evil, all-vicious, all-enslaving, all-everything bad and it paints the winners as all-good, all-suffering, all-liberating, all-noble, all-virtuous. But then, I’m wasting time on things most of you already know.

World War Two was man’s greatest cataclysm. Nothing else comes close. Tens of millions died, tens of millions were raped, tens of millions were enslaved, tens of millions were uprooted and cast to the wind, and the thing that Western man loves more than life itself—his freedom—was taken. With the fall of Germany and its allies in the spring of 1945, the forces of darkness stood gloating and triumphant. The last significant opposition to their grand designs on the West had been crushed, and now they went to work dividing the spoils and sucking the last drop of blood from the vanquished. One might imagine that from such an earth-shaking, epochal event every facet would have by now been studied down to the last detail by the world’s historians and academics, but one would imagine wrong. Precisely because the war was won by the forces of hate and evil, only one half of the story has ever been told and that, of course, is the side the winners chose to tell us.

Slowly, slowly, after nearly 70 years, the details from what it looked like down there in the grave where the losers lay are beginning to surface. And what is being revealed is a crime so monstrous, so enormous, and so hideous in its length and breadth that words have not yet been invented to describe it. So vicious and persistent was the anti-German propaganda, and so deep and pervasive was the consequent hatred for everything German both during and after the war, that this nearly successful attempt to extirpate the German people was committed with hardly a stir from the “civilized world.” So utterly demonized were the Germans by the largely Jewish press around the world that virtually anything could be said about Germany, virtually any crime could be committed against its helpless population, and none would raise a hand or offer a word against it. The evidence of crimes committed and the criminals who committed them have always been there. The horrifying accounts have remained in various archives and journals gathering nearly 70 years of dust but except for an intrepid few no historians have mustered the courage to reveal these dark secrets to the world.

In addition to deliberate attempts to kill every man, woman, and child in Germany by the Allied air forces with their terror bombing and “targets of opportunity” campaign (red crosses on hospital roofs were especial targets), a similar slaughter was taking place below as the invading hordes of the Soviet Union raped and/or murdered virtually every German that fell into their hands. On the Baltic Sea, a similar slaughter was taking place as Allied submarines and bombers sank every refugee ship they could find, killing tens of thousands of helpless women, children, the sick, and the elderly.

After the war, when the so-called peace was declared, millions of German POWs were herded into muddy outdoor fields where they remained without food, water, shelter, or medical treatment. Although there was plenty of food available, and although rivers often ran just beyond the barbed wire, Supreme Allied Commander, Dwight. D. Eisenhower, was determined to kill as many of the defeated as he could before world reaction stepped in to stop the slaughter.

“God, I hate the German,” hissed the future American president.

In other parts of defeated Germany, hell on earth was unleashed when Jewish émigrés and those released from concentration camps, with Allied bayonets to back them, rounded up German soldiers and civilians, men and women, then placed them in their own Jewish-run death camps. In addition to suffering some of the most sadistic and sickening tortures the mind can conjure, hundreds of thousands of these Germans were simply beaten to death, drowned, or buried alive.


One of the most heartless and deadly crimes committed against helpless Germans was the forced removal from their homes. Orderly and Humane—The Expulsion of the Germans After the Second World War by R. M. Douglas seeks to shed light on this little known aspect of World War II history. The story is a tragic one. First, some seven million Germans living in the eastern provinces of the Reich–Prussia, Pomerania, Silesia–were violently uprooted by land-hungry and vengeful Poles and ordered to leave, sometimes with only a few minutes’ notice. Then, several million more, many whose families had lived for centuries in Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and other central European nations were expelled by their envious and blood-thirsty neighbors. It is estimated that of the 12 to 14 million Germans cast to the wind, as many as two million perished. Many were slaughtered in hideous ways; others succumbed to the elements. In spite of Allied assurances to the world that the removal of these pathetic refugees was carried out in an “orderly and humane” manner, their lies were soon shown to be mere Orwellian double-speak.

I wanted to like this book. I wanted to welcome Professor Douglas into the world of truth-seekers. I wanted to praise both his bravery and honesty as well as his careful scholarship. But after only a short spin through the book, I discovered that I could not. From the outset, Douglas–a card-carrying court historian–wants to make it perfectly clear to his academic peers and the Jewish media watchdogs who stand in his career path with suspicious eyes and folded arms, that he has the “right stuff”; that this project is merely a scholarly study to understand post-war politics and European population dynamics and not an attempt to enlist sympathy for the Germans themselves; for the thousands of brained German babies, for the tens of thousands of murdered German men, for the hundreds of thousands of raped German women.

“It is appropriate at the outset,” sniffs Douglas in his intro, “to state explicitly that no legitimate comparison can be drawn between the postwar expulsions and the appalling record of German offenses against Jews and other innocent victims between 1939 and 1945. The extent of Nazi criminality and barbarity in central and eastern Europe is on a scale and of a degree that is almost impossible to overstate. In the entire span of human history, nothing can be found to surpass it, nor . . . to equal it. Germany’s neighbors suffered most grievously and unjustifiably at her hands, and were profoundly traumatized as a result. Whatever occurred after the war cannot possibly be equated to the atrocities perpetrated by Germans during it, and suggestions to the contrary—including those made by expellees themselves—are both deeply offensive and historically illiterate. Nothing I have written in the book should be taken to suggest otherwise.”

With that nifty bit of genuflecting, with his kosher credentials seemingly intact, Douglas no doubt imagines that he will hence be given a life-long pass to enter the happy halls of historians. As this groveling academic will find out soon enough, a Christian writing about “controversial” Christian subjects will never crawl fast enough or far enough to satisfy his commissars.

In fairness to Douglas, he does go where few have gone before. The expulsion of Germans from the ancestral homes, many families of whom had lived there hundreds of years, is a crime so enormous and cruel that had it been the only crime committed by the Allies it would have been more than enough to convict them for all times to come as war criminals and inhuman monsters. Unfortunately, this Douglas tome is dry and dead as dust.

The German victims themselves are almost never heard from. Perhaps it is because Douglas feels Germans are not to be trusted. Citing that high moral authority, Edvard Beneš, the bloody butcher who orchestrated the massacre of Sudeten Germans in Czechoslovakia, Douglas quotes: “All German stories should not, of course, be believed, for Germans always exaggerated and were the first to whine and to try to enlist outside sympathy.” As a consequence, Douglas thereupon announces that he has thus “made it a rule to exclude direct expellee testimony that is not supported by independent sources.”

One must wonder just who these “independent sources” are that could provide better testimony than the victims themselves, but then again, perhaps that is not too hard to figure out. One must also wonder if Douglas would demand “independent sources” to support the statements of Jewish “survivors” and their extravagant claims of bestial Nazi atrocities? Of human soap? Of human lamp shades? Of shower heads spewing clouds of gas? Would he say those statements were also deeply offensive and historically illiterate? Right! And that is what separates this hypocritical court historian from an honest, unbiased truth-seeker.

Although a capable, competent study, as modern histories go, so intent is Douglas to dwell in the details of politics, borders, statistics, and demographics, that the personal and human is totally lost. One hardly is aware that the subjects of his book were actually real people, people who lived, breathed, suffered, cried, and all too often, people who died.

Nowhere is heard the screams of disarmed German soldiers as they were doused in gas by mobs and hung upside down like living torches. Nowhere is found the pathos of a mother, without shelter or food, watching her tiny child die of starvation right before her eyes. Nowhere are heard the groans of women, “from 8 to 80,” forced to endure one rape after another as they slowly bled to death.

This trend in modern historical writing—“historiography,” as it is stuffily called—is one reason why the reading of history has fallen in disrepute and why such books similar to Douglas’ cannot even be given away to the public. It is also why promising students upon entering college major in anything but history. This is the type of lifeless, insipid writing that kills the heat in a history-loving heart. I suppose it is easier for a reader to dismiss several million dead Germans if they fall asleep reading the book rather than transforming them into very real people who were deliberately murdered in cold blood.

What happened to Germany during and after the war was actually a crime wrapped around a crime—the evil abomination that was committed against the German people was the initial crime and the crime that kept it dark and hidden for almost 70 years was the other. If for no other reason, Orderly and Humane is important simply because of its existence and the tacit admission, tedious as it is, that once upon a time during the “Good War” this terrible crime did indeed occur.

* * *

Thomas Goodrich is a professional writer living in Florida. Tom’s most recent book, Hellstorm: The Death Of Nazi Germany, 1944–1947, is the first comprehensive account of Allied war crimes committed against Germany and her allies. It was reviewed for Counter-Currents by J. A. Sexton here. Tom is working on a companion volume that relates the crimes committed against Japan, 1941–1948.


mercredi, 03 avril 2013

La Corporation chez Julius Evola

La Corporation chez Julius Evola

par Stéphane Blanchonnet

Ex: http://a-rebours.ouvaton.org/

Article paru dans L'Action Sociale Corporative numéro 5.

evolapapa.jpgDans Le Fascisme vu de Droite – ouvrage disponible en français aux éditions Pardès – Julius Evola (1898-1974) propose une critique, au sens d'une analyse rigoureuse, méthodique et sans concession à l'égard de ses détracteurs comme de ses admirateurs, d'un régime et d'une idéologie dont il fut un compagnon de route atypique (Evola s'opposa notamment, dans un esprit contre-révolutionnaire, à l'importation du racisme biologique allemand, à l'abaissement du rôle de la monarchie, aux dérives étatistes et totalitaires). Ce livre publié en 1964 bénéficie à la fois de la proximité avec son sujet que donne à l'auteur sa qualité de témoin et d'acteur, ainsi que de la hauteur de vue que lui procurent la distance dans le temps et sa riche réflexion politique d'après-guerre, dont témoignent des œuvres comme Orientations (1950) ou Les hommes au milieu des ruines (1953). Deux chapitres du Fascisme vu de Droite retiendront particulièrement notre attention dans le cadre de cet article : le chapitre VIII consacré aux institutions fascistes en général et le chapitre IX consacré plus précisément au problème de la corporation et de l'organisation économique.

Une nouvelle forme de représentation

    Le chapitre VIII reconnaît d'abord au fascisme le mérite d'avoir abattu le parlementarisme. Outre la restauration de l'Etat, cette opération permet d'envisager une nouvelle forme de représentation qui tranche avec celle procurée par les partis parlementaires, structures dont le moyen est le clientélisme le plus vulgaire et la fin, non le service de l'Etat mais celui de leurs idéologies respectives : « ils se présentent dans une sorte de concours ou de compétition pour la meilleure défense des intérêts de tel ou tel groupe d'électeurs, mais en réalité ils ont chacun une dimension politique, chacun une idéologie ; ils ne connaissent ni intérêts ni exigences les dépassant, ils agissent dans l'état vide et visent chacun à la conquête du pouvoir : d'où une situation on ne peut plus chaotique et inorganique » (p. 75-76 de l'édition Pardès).
    Evola voit immédiatement dans l'abolition de ce système l'occasion de rétablir une représentation qualitative et organique (des groupes, en fonction de leur rôle dans le corps social) et non plus quantitative (des individus selon le principe : un homme, une voix), sur le modèle des institutions de l'Europe d'avant 1789 : « parce que ce n'était pas la simple force numérique des groupes, des corps ou des unités partielles ayant au Parlement leurs propres représentants qui était considérée, mais leur fonction et leur dignité. » (p. 77).
     Idéalement pour Evola, le nouveau régime aurait dû promouvoir une forme de bicaméralisme ainsi conçu : une Chambre basse représentant la société sur un mode qualitatif, différencié et organique (représentants des corporations professionnelles, de l'armée, de la magistrature et des autres corps) et une Chambre haute, un « Sénat, avec des membres exclusivement désignés d'en haut, choisis surtout en fonction de leur qualité politique, qualité de représentants de la dimension transcendante de l'état, donc aussi de facteurs spirituels, méta-économiques et nationaux » (p. 79) ayant pour but de faire prévaloir le plan des fins sur celui des moyens et proche en cela de l'idée d'un Ordre, au sens supérieur, traditionnel et religieux du terme. Hélas ce programme ne sera pas mis en œuvre, en tout cas pas dans toute la pureté de sa conception.

L'échec du fascisme

    Le chapitre IX s'intéresse plus précisément à l'un des composants de la Chambre basse : la corporation professionnelle. Evola y affirme d'abord la nécessité de « s'opposer à une fonction de la corporation soit comme instrument d'étatisation centralisatrice, soit comme instrument de conquête de l'état par l'économie. » (p. 82). En effet, il décèle deux premiers écueils dans le programme corporatiste : celui du dirigisme qui tue la libre initiative du chef d'entreprise, la corporation étant alors conçue comme une courroie de transmission au service d'un contrôle étatique de l'économie, et celui de "l'état corporatif", la corporation devenant alors l'instrument d'une dissolution du politique dans l'économie.
    A cela s'ajoute, le danger consistant à concevoir le corporatisme comme une superstructure nationale où les employeurs et les employés enverraient séparément et par branche leurs représentants, ce qui ne ferait qu'aggraver les antagonismes de classe. Sur ce dernier point, Evola constate l'échec du fascisme : « Le système institua […] sur le plan législatif le double front des employeurs et des travailleurs, dualité qui ne fut pas surmontée là où il aurait fallu, c'est-à-dire dans l'entreprise elle-même, au moyen d'une nouvelle structuration organique de celle-ci (donc dans sa structure interne), mais dans des superstructures étatiques générales affectées d'un lourd centralisme bureaucratique et, en pratique, souvent parasitaires et inefficaces. » (p. 85).
    L'auteur oppose à ce modèle bureaucratique, la « reconstruction organique infrastructurelle » (p. 90) des corporations, c'est-à-dire, l'idée d'une entreprise-communauté conçue de manière analogue à la nouvelle vision organique de la nation. C'est dans chaque entreprise donc qu'il conviendrait d'organiser la représentation de tous selon sa fonction : le chef d'entreprise, les cadres, les différents services et ateliers. Cette communauté de travail et son chef seraient alors responsables devant l'Etat.

Nécessité d'une transcendance

    Ce dernier point, la responsabilité devant l'Etat, manifeste l'ultime difficulté envisagée par Evola : sans un esprit commun, sans une transcendance politique et spirituelle, la corporation est vouée à l'échec. D'où la nécessaire reconnaissance du « caractère non seulement économique mais aussi éthique de la corporation » (p. 86), de la responsabilité morale du chef d'entreprise devant l'Etat « comme contrepartie de la reconnaissance de sa libre initiative » (p 87), de la lutte nécessaire contre un capitalisme « parasitaire » (le chef d'entreprise devant être le « premier travailleur » de son entreprise par opposition au simple bénéficiaire de dividendes), de la participation des employés aux bénéfices mais aussi aux pertes de l'entreprise.
    L'argumentation d'Evola sur la question sociale dans Le Fascisme vu de Droite présente l'intérêt de confronter les principes contre-révolutionnaires en la matière avec l'histoire de l'une des tentatives, partielle et insatisfaisante, mais réelle, de leur mise en œuvre au XXe siècle. L'idée la plus forte que l'on en retiendra est que le projet de restauration d'un ordre vraiment traditionnel et hiérarchique ne peut se mener sur un seul terrain, qu'il soit politique ou social et économique, mais correspondre à un changement complet de direction dans tous les domaines et d'abord au plan spirituel. Tout constructivisme politico-économique qui ne tient pas compte de la dimension anthropologique du problème posé par la Modernité se condamne à l'échec.


mardi, 02 avril 2013

Hobsbawm, ideologia forte e verità breve

Hobsbawm, ideologia forte e verità breve

I massacri stalinisti, l'attacco dell'Urss alla Finlandia, la repressione di Budapest: tutto "riletto" in chiave marxista


Asserite? Vediamo subito che cosa ordinava Lenin ai comunisti di Penza l'11 agosto 1918: «Impiccate assolutamente e pubblicamente non meno di cento kulak, ricchi e succhiatori del sangue del popolo, e pubblicate i loro nomi; togliete loro tutto il grano e preparate delle liste di ostaggi». È inutile aggiungere che l'operazione andava fatta «in via amministrativa», come si usava dire, senza processi né alcuna garanzia legale. Poche settimane dopo si calcola che le vittime della repressione seguita all'attentato di Fanya Kaplan siano state 20mila. La repressione fu ordinata dallo stesso Lenin convalescente (Memorandum a N. Krestinski del 3 settembre 1918). Ma Hobsbawm non amava i documenti, o almeno certi documenti.

Un'altra prova ci è fornita da come spiega l'insuccesso dei negoziati del 1939 tra Mosca e gli anglo-francesi per opporsi alla minacciata invasione tedesca della Polonia. Secondo Hobsbawm «i negoziatori di Stalin chiesero vanamente (agli anglo-francesi, ndr) che avanzassero proposte per operazioni congiunte nel Baltico» per combattere i tedeschi. Nel Baltico? No, i sovietici avevano chiesto di disporre di basi di partenza in Polonia, e i polacchi che conoscevano le intenzioni sovietiche avevano ovviamente rifiutato un simile “aiuto” interessato quanto pericoloso. Ma Hobsbawm si guarda bene dal dire che i negoziati per il patto di spartizione con la Germania che si sarebbe concluso a Mosca il 23 agosto erano cominciati molto prima di quelli con la Francia e la Gran Bretagna.
Egli parla, ovviamente, dell'accordo Ribbentrop-Molotov, spiegato come lo strumento necessario per spingere alla guerra la Germania e la Gran Bretagna, che «si sarebbero dissanguate a vicenda, a vantaggio dell'Urss che intanto, con le clausole segrete, avrebbe ripreso i territori perduti con la rivoluzione; il calcolo si dimostrò sbagliato». Hobsbawm dimenticava che la sua difesa del patto, nel 1939 era stata diversa, allineata cioè alle tesi sovietiche di allora, che coincidevano con quelle tedesche, secondo cui gli aggressori della povera Germania, alleata dell'Urss, erano stati gli anglo-francesi.
Quanto all'attacco sovietico alla Finlandia (la «guerra d'inverno, che costò all'Urss l'espulsione dalla Società delle Nazioni), essa era già stata spiegata in un tempestivo pamphlet da Eric Hobsbawm e Raymond Williams, suo compagno di partito, come una misura sovietica per «spingere un po' più lontano da Leningrado la frontiera» allo scopo di difendersi dall'invasione degli imperialisti britannici, allora in guerra con la Germania di Hitler. Anni più tardi Williams ammise che quel libello era stato compilato su ordine del partito comunista britannico, che aveva ricevuto ordini da Mosca. Hobsbawm non ricorse neppure a questa giustificazione per spiegare l'assurda tesi che aveva sostenuto con la sua autorità di storico.

Con l'attacco tedesco l'Urss si riscoprì antifascista e addirittura «democratica». Ma le pene di Hobsbawm non erano finite. Alcune si limita a ignorarle, per «non dover contraddire la sua militanza», ragione per cui i suoi lettori non sapranno nulla di un certo episodio svoltosi a Katyn e dintorni costato la vita a 20mila polacchi. L'insurrezione di Varsavia nel 1944 fallì - ci spiega - perché «prematura», anche se le truppe sovietiche erano a qualche chilometro e si astennero dall'intervenire, perché gli insorti si consideravano seguaci del governo in esilio a Londra e non di quello comunista sostenuto o meglio inventato da Mosca.
Più in generale nel 1945 non vi fu la sovietizzazione dell'Europa orientale ma «la grande avanzata della rivoluzione globale». I sovietici non avevano intenzioni aggressive, anzi Stalin faceva una politica difensiva, tanto è vero che accettò Berlino occidentale come una enclave nella Germania, «sia pure con riluttanza» (delicata allusione al blocco di quella città durato un anno). Il muro di Berlino fu dovuto, sostiene Hobsbawm, alla paura reciproca. Questo spiega perché i cittadini tedesco-orientali correvano il rischio di una fucilata se fossero andati a vedere di che cosa si aveva paura dall'altra parte: insana curiosità punita diverse centinaia di volte con l'immediata pena di morte inflitta dai Vopos. Nel 1950 non vi fu - secondo lo storico marxista - un tentativo nordcoreano di annettere la Corea meridionale: Pyongyang soltanto stava «dilagando» (spreading) nel sud. «Ah, qu'en termes galants, ces choses-là sont mises!».

È superfluo continuare a elencare le libertà che il defunto grande storico si prese con la verità. Egli afferma che Stalin non era totalitario; forse avrebbe voluto esserlo ma, secondo Hobsbawm, non ci riuscì per la resistenza di altri poteri non meglio specificati: chissà che cosa avrebbe fatto se ci fosse riuscito. Qualcuno ha affermato che almeno sulla repressione della rivolta ungherese del 1956 egli avrebbe espresso qualche riserva. È cosi? Ecco quel che scrisse: «Pur approvando con il cuore gonfio ciò che sta accadendo in Ungheria dobbiamo dire francamente che secondo noi l'URSS dovrebbe ritirare appena possibile le sue truppe da quel Paese». È inutile chiedersi in quale conto gli uomini del Cremlino abbiano tenuto l'amichevole consiglio dell'amico storico marxista.

E sulla Cecoslovacchia? Qui egli fu chiaro: «Per quanto fragili i sistemi comunisti si siano dimostrati, soltanto un uso limitato, addirittura nominale di coercizione armata fu necessario per mantenerli dal 1957 al 1989». Com'è noto, l'uso limitato della coercizione esercitato dall'Urss sulla Cecoslovacchia consistette in un esercito di 27 divisioni per complessivi 400mila soldati e 6.300 carri armati. In definitiva, concludeva il Nostro, il comunismo era in realtà un «Illuminismo».
Una virtù è tuttavia necessario riconoscere a Hobsbawm: quella della coerenza. Quando nel 1995 gli fu chiesto se l'aver appreso che il massacro di 15 o 20 milioni di uomini, donne e bambini nell'Unione Sovietica negli anni Trenta e Quaranta gli avesse fatto cambiare opinione, rispose orgogliosamente di no. Ciò significa, fu la domanda successiva, che valeva la pena uccidere tante persone? «Certamente», ripeté Hobsbawm.

00:08 Publié dans Histoire, Philosophie | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0) | Tags : eric hobsbawm, marxisme, histoire, philosophie | |  del.icio.us | | Digg! Digg |  Facebook

lundi, 01 avril 2013

Marcel Déat: patriotisme européen


Patriotisme Européen

Marcel Déat

Ex: http://fierteseuropeennes.hautetfort.com/


Extraits  tirés d’un texte (toujours d’actualité !) publié dans « La Jeune Europe ( Revue des combattants de la jeunesse universitaire européenne ) », cahier 3/4, 1942.  


Je le dis tout net : si cette guerre ne contenait pas la promesse de l’unité européenne, si ce prodigieux conflit n’était pas en même temps la grande révolution des temps modernes, et si l’Allemagne nationale-socialiste n’était pas à la fois la conductrice et la garante de nos espoirs révolutionnaires, je ne vois pas pourquoi je serais « collaborationniste ». Sinon pour combiner, vaille que vaille, un sauvetage français, sous le signe de « l’égoïsme sacré », quitte à poignarder dans le dos mon partenaire, si l’occasion venait à s’offrir.

Et quiconque n’est pas socialiste autant que national, européen autant que français, doit en effet s’établir sur ces positions et ne plus en bouger. C’est bien ce que nous constatons, depuis un an, quels que soient les discours. Je ne crois pas qu’il y ait désormais une confusion possible entre cette attitude et la nôtre. Et je me suis permis d’indiquer que les conséquences, pour la patrie, étaient autrement fécondes, autrement riches, si l’on consentait enfin à se jeter, corps et âme, dans la bataille européenne, et sans regarder derrière soi.

Mais l’incompréhension engendre trop facilement la calomnie, et la sottise est trop près du dénigrement, pour que nous n’éclairions pas en plein certaines idées. On a assez accusé de chimère le vieux socialisme, quand il évoquait l’Europe, quand il s’enivrait d’universalisme, pour qu’on ne manque pas de reprocher au nouveau socialisme un identique irréalisme. Comme si, selon la juste remarque de Jacques Chardonne, l’Allemagne d’aujourd’hui n’était pas merveilleusement différente de celle d’avant-hier.

Comme si le rassemblement des révolutionnaires européens avait désormais à voir avec les palabres des congrès internationaux.

Il ne s’agit plus de prononcer des discours solennels, de pontifier sur des tribunes, d’ergoter sur des résolutions, de formuler des dogmes avec l’autorité qui s’attache aux conciles. Il s’agit de combattre, d’abord, et ensuite de bâtir. De combattre les armes à la main, sur d’immenses champs de bataille, avec le risque que cela comporte. De combattre aussi dans les bagarres civiques, d’y risquer pareillement sa vie, et bien plus encore, sa tranquillité, sa réputation, son pain, son honneur. Et ce ne sera pas trop de tous ces sacrifices pour aider à l’accouchement d’un monde.

Fort bien, diront nos sages. Mais pourquoi cette fuite vers l’Europe, alors que la patrie est pantelante et requiert l’effort de tous ?

Mais qui parle de fuite ? Et qu’est-ce donc que l’Europe, sinon l’ensemble des patries ? Et où veut-on que nous servions l’Europe, sinon chez nous, sinon en France, sinon par la France et pour la France ? Il n’y a pas une terre européennne, indivise et neutre, où nous puissions planter indifféremment notre tente. Il y a une France, qui est en Europe, qui est un élément nécessaire de l’Europe. Et les deux réalités ne se séparent point.

Ce qui est vrai, c’est qu’en effet nous refusons « l’égoïsme sacré ». Que nous n’acceptons pas le refrain maurrassien sur « la France, la France seule ». Parce que cela n’a pas de sens, ou bien signifie qu’on se dresse contre l’unité continentale, qu’on la refuse, et que, sournoisement, on espère retrouver, au delà des mers, les anglo-saxons et leur capitalisme. Car, il faut bien rire, nos super-patriotes, qui repoussent si noblement l’impur contact germanique, ont la passion d’être à nouveau asservis aux seigneurs de la City et de Wall Street.

Et bien ! oui, nous commençons à avoir un patriotisme européen, une sensibilité européenne.


L’expérience a prouvé qu’une bigarrure de nations théoriquement assemblées à Genêve ne faisait pas une Europe. Il n’y a d’unité que dans une solidarité totale de la vie matérielle, et dans la similitude essentielle des institutions. La guerre, la révolution, sont en train de brasser les peuples et d’unifier les tendances, de rendre convergentes les aspirations politiques et sociales. Et c’est une triste chimère que d’espérer une unité française en dehors de ce passage au creuset de la révolution.

Qu’on nous laisse tranquille avec les propos abstraits et les poncifs officiels sur l’unité française : il y a une réalité française que rien n’entamera. (…) Il y a un trésor français que l’histoire nous lègue et qui jamais ne sera perdu. Mais la France dont l’Europe à besoin, la France sans laquelle il n’y aura plus vraiment de nation française, doit avoir une autre température, elle doit brûler d’une autre flamme. Un certain patriotisme d’image d’Epinal ne la gardera pas des effritements et des affaissements internes. Et si une grande passion ne la saisit pas, si une ardente mystique collective ne s’empare pas d’elle, ne la porte pas vers son vrai destin, il ne lui restera que la force misérable et désordonnée qui se disperse et s’épuise en déchirements.

Je prie pour que nos politique y songent : l’élan vers l’Europe sauvera la France de plus d’une manière, même en l’arrachant à ce qu’elle prend orgueilleusement pour une solitude, à un narcissisme ridicule et désespéré, à un radotage de vieillards au coin du feu. La révolution fait l’Europe, la révolution refait la France, la révolution concilie l’Europe et la France.


Marcel Déat / 1942. 

 patriotisme européen,marcel déat,europe,france,nationalisme,européanisme,identité européenne

Quelques exemplaires de « La Jeune Europe », retrouvés en faisant un peu de rangement.  

Une véritable mine d’excellents textes, tous très rares… dont nous vous offrirons régulièrement quelques pépites, le temps pour nous de les relire, trier et (surtout) taper.

patriotisme européen,marcel déat,europe,france,nationalisme,européanisme,identité européenne

dimanche, 31 mars 2013

Savage Continent

Savage Continent: Europe in the Aftermath of World War Two, By Keith Lowe

In his memoir If This is a Man, the Italian writer Primo Levi recalls that the most terrifying time for him at Auschwitz was not the years of incarceration by the Nazis, when beatings, hunger, back-breaking work and the threat of murder were omnipresent. He came closest to despair during the vacuum between the flight of the guards and the arrival of the Red Army. This period, in which the prisoners were effectively left to their own devices, was characterised by a complete breakdown of all authority, however unjust, as well as the system of supply. I was reminded of these passages when reading Keith Lowe's Savage Continent: an excellent account of the two years or so between the end of hostilities in Europe with the defeat of Hitler, and the establishment of the Cold War order.

Savage.jpgAs the author points out, the Second World War did not end in 1945. In large parts of the continent, the contest lasted a lot longer as Polish, Ukrainian, Baltic and Greek partisans battled on in the mountains and forests of Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean. Some of these stories, such as the post-war travails of the Greeks, are well known to Western audiences, but the activities of the Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian anti-Soviet "Forest Brothers" are not. Perhaps the most arresting fact in this compelling book is that the last Estonian guerrilla fighter, August Sabbe, was killed as late as 1978, trying to escape capture.

Even where there was no fighting, Lowe demonstrates, Europe was in flux. A contemporary observer described Germany, the crossroads of the continent, as "one huge ants' nest", in which everyone was on the move. There were refugees everywhere, some trying to escape the victors, others returning to their homes. Millions of German prisoners of war were crammed into insanitary Anglo-American camps in the West; and they were the lucky ones, unlike those captured by the Russians and taken to camps in Siberia, or murdered en route. Almost everywhere, the Nazi collapse was followed by a bloody settling of scores against real or alleged collaborators. Lowe shows that the numbers affected in places like France to have been much exaggerated by subsequent myth-makers; in Yugoslavia, on the other hand, the reckoning was truly horrific, the more so as British troops were actively involved in sending men and women back to face certain death at Tito's hands.

All this was accompanied by the greatest population shifts in Europe since the Dark Ages. These had, of course, begun during the war. Lowe notes the huge void left by the Nazi murder of the Jews, but he points out that it was not so much the Holocaust itself as the persistence of anti-Semitism in places like Poland and Hungary which persuaded so many survivors to make for Israel or the US. In eastern Poland and western Ukraine, new borders led to a massive exchange of populations attended by great hardship and brutality.

The principal post-war victims, however, were the Germans, systematically expelled by the Czechs and Poles from lands which they had settled for hundreds of years. Lowe describes these events too with admirable sensitivity, placing them squarely in the context of prior Nazi policies, without in any way justifying them.

sav2.jpgEurope was also in political flux. The war had destroyed the standing of the old elites, and brought the Red Army into the heart of the continent. It was Soviet power, rather than the failure of the ancien regime as such, which underpinned the wave of Communist takeovers in Eastern Europe. Lowe describes the Romanian case in fascinating detail. Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Poland and Bulgaria all met broadly similar fates: red terror, arrests, expropriation of land and property, and executions. In Greece, the boot was on the other foot, as the right-wing government parlayed first British then American help into brutal victory over the communists. Lowe notes the "unpleasant symmetry" caused by Cold War imperatives without in any way denying that "the capitalist model of politics was self-evidently more inclusive, more democratic and ultimately more successful than Stalinist communism".

Savage Continent is thus a fitting title for this book, and surely also an allusion to Dark Continent, Mark Mazower's brilliant history of the 20th century. Lowe's vivid descriptions of Europeans scrambling for scraps of food, rampant theft and "destruction of morals" are a timely reminder that a certain humility is in order when we look at less fortunate continents today. The author is also right to remind us, with respect to current travails in Iraq and Afghanistan, just how long it took to rebuild Europe and for democracy to take root – or to return.

That said, Lowe could perhaps have said more about the Europeans who emerged from the war with a new and uplifting vision: that the only way for the continent to prevent this from happening again, and to realise its full potential, was to chart a course towards greater unity. It was in the midst of the ruins described by this book that men such as Robert Schuman, Jean Monnet, Alcide de Gasperi and Altero Spinelli were taking the first steps towards what was to become the European Union. In this sense, Europe is a continent which contains not only the seeds of its self-destruction but also of its renewal.

Brendan Simms is a professor of history at Cambridge University; his 'Old Europe: a history of the continent since 1500' is published this summer by Allen Lane

samedi, 30 mars 2013

Stalin’s Fight Against International Communism

Stalin’s Fight Against International Communism

By Kerry Bolton stalin-the-enduring-legacy

Ex: http://www.counter-currents.com/

Editor’s Note:

This is the first chapter of Kerry Bolton’s new book Stalin: The Enduring Legacy [2] (London: Black House Publishing, 2012). The chapter is being reprinted as formatted in the book. Counter-Currents will also run a review of the book, which I highly recommend. 

The notion that Stalin ‘fought communism’ at a glance seems bizarre. However, the contention is neither unique nor new. Early last century the seminal German conservative philosopher-historian Oswald Spengler stated that Communism in Russia would metamorphose into something distinctly Russian which would be quite different from the alien Marxist dogma that had been imposed upon it from outside. Spengler saw Russia as both a danger to Western Civilisation as the leader of a ‘coloured world-revolution’, and conversely as a potential ally of a revived Germany against the plutocracies. Spengler stated of Russia’s potential rejection of Marxism as an alien imposition from the decaying West that,

Race, language, popular customs, religion, in their present form… all or any of them can and will be fundamentally transformed. What we see today then is simply the new kind of life which a vast land has conceived and will presently bring forth. It is not definable in words, nor is its bearer aware of it. Those who attempt to define, establish, lay down a program, are confusing life with a phrase, as does the ruling Bolshevism, which is not sufficiently conscious of its own West-European, Rationalistic and cosmopolitan origin.[1]

Even as he wrote, Bolshevism in the USSR was being fundamentally transformed in the ways Spengler foresaw. The ‘rationalistic’ and ‘cosmopolitan’ origins of Bolshevism were soon being openly repudiated, and a new course was defined by Zhdanov and other Soviet eminences.

Contemporary with Spengler in Weimer Germany, there arose among the ‘Right’ the ‘National Bolshevik’ faction one of whose primary demands was that Germany align with the Soviet Union against the Western plutocracies. From the Soviet side, possibilities of an alliance with the ‘Right’ were far from discounted and high level Soviet sources cultivated contacts with the pro-Russian factions of the German Right including the National Bolsheviks.[2]

German-Soviet friendship societies included many conservatives. In Arbeitsgemeinschaft zum Studium der Sowjetrussichen Planwirtschaft (Arplan)[3] Conservative-Revolutionaries and National Bolsheviks comprised a third of the membership. Bund Geistige Berufe (BGB)[4] was founded in 1931 and was of particular interest to Soviet Russia, according to Soviet documents, which aimed ‘to attract into the orbit of our influence a range of highly placed intellectuals of rightist orientation’.[5]

The profound changes caused Konstantin Rodzaevsky, leader of the Russian Fascist Union among the White Russian émigrés at Harbin, to soberly reassess the USSR and in 1945 he wrote to Stalin:

Not all at once, but step by step we came to this conclusion. We decided that: Stalinism is exactly what we mistakenly called ‘Russian Fascism’. It is our Russian Fascism cleansed of extremes, illusions, and errors.[6]

In the aftermath of World War II many German war veterans, despite the devastating conflagration between Germany and the USSR, and the rampage of the Red Army across Germany with Allied contrivance, were vociferous opponents of any German alliance with the USA against the USSR. Major General Otto E Remer and the Socialist Reich Party were in the forefront of advocating a ‘neutralist’ line for Germany during the ‘Cold War’, while one of their political advisers, the American Spenglerian philosopher Francis Parker Yockey, saw Russian occupation as less culturally debilitating than the ‘spiritual syphilis’ of Hollywood and New York, and recommended the collaboration of European rightists and neo-Fascists with the USSR against the USA.[7] Others of the American Right, such as the Yockeyan and Spenglerian influenced newspaper Common Sense, saw the USSR from the time of Stalin as the primary power in confronting Marxism, and they regarded New York as the real ‘capitol’ of Marxism.[8]

What might be regarded by many as an ‘eccentric’ element from the Right were not alone in seeing that the USSR had undergone a revolutionary transformation. Many of the Left regarded Stalin’s Russia as a travesty of Marxism. The most well-known and vehement was of course Leon Trotsky who condemned Stalin for having ‘betrayed the revolution’ and for reversing doctrinaire Marxism. On the other hand, the USA for decades supported Marxists, and especially Trotskyites, in trying to subvert the USSR during the Cold War. The USA, as the columnists at Common Sense continually insisted, was promoting Marxism, while Stalin was fighting it. This dichotomy between Russian National Bolshevism and US sponsored international Marxism was to having lasting consequences for the post-war world up to the present.

Stalin Purges Marxism

The Moscow Trials purging Trotskyites and other veteran Bolsheviks were merely the most obvious manifestations of Stalin’s struggle against alien Marxism. While much has been written condemning the trials as a modern day version of the Salem witch trials, and while the Soviet methods were often less than judicious the basic allegations against the Trotskyites et al were justified. The trials moreover, were open to the public, including western press, diplomats and jurists. There can be no serious doubt that Trotskyites in alliance with other old Bolsheviks such as Zinoviev and Kameneff were complicit in attempting to overthrow the Soviet state under Stalin. That was after all, the raison d’etre of Trotsky et al, and Trotsky’s hubris could not conceal his aims.[9]

The purging of these anti-Stalinist co-conspirators was only a part of the Stalinist fight against the Old Bolsheviks. Stalin’s relations with Lenin had not been cordial, Lenin accusing him of acting like a ‘Great Russian chauvinist’.[10] Indeed, the ‘Great Russians’ were heralded as the well-spring of Stalin’s Russia, and were elevated to master-race like status during and after the ‘Great Patriotic War’ against Germany. Lenin, near death, regarded Stalin’s demeanour as ‘offensive’, and as not showing automatic obedience. Lenin wished for Stalin to be removed as Bolshevik Party General Secretary.[11]

Dissolving the Comintern

The most symbolic acts of Stalin against International Communism were the elimination of the Association of Old Bolsheviks, and the destruction of the Communist International (Comintern). The Comintern, or Third International, was to be the basis of the world revolution, having been founded in 1919 in Moscow with 52 delegates from 25 countries.[12] Zinoviev headed the Comintern’s Executive Committee.[13] He was replaced by Bukharin in 1926.[14] Both Zinonviev and Bukharin were among the many ‘Old Bolsheviks’ eliminated by Stalin.

Stalin regarded the Comintern with animosity. It seemed to function more as an enemy agency than as a tool of Stalin, or at least that is how Stalin perceived the organisation. Robert Service states that Dimitrov, the head of the Comintern at the time of its dissolution, was accustomed to Stalin’s accusations against it. In 1937 Stalin had barked at him that ‘all of you in Comintern are hand in glove with the enemy’.[15] Dimitrov must have wondered how long he had to live.[16]

Instead of the Communist parties serving as agents of the world revolution, in typically Marxist manner, and the purpose for founding the Comintern, the Communist parties outside Russia were expected to be nationally oriented. In 1941 Stalin stated of this:

The International was created in Marx’s time in the expectation of an approaching international revolution. Comintern was created in Lenin’s time at an analogous moment. Today, national tasks emerge for each country as a supreme priority. Do not hold on tight to what was yesterday.[17]

This was a flagrant repudiation of Marxist orthodoxy, and places Stalinism within the context of National Bolshevism.

The German offensive postponed Stalin’s plans for the elimination of the Comintern, and those operatives who had survived the ‘Great Purge’ were ordered to Ufa, South of the Urals. Dimitrov was sent to Kuibyshev on the Volga. After the Battle of Stalingrad, Stalin returned to the issue of the Comintern, and told Dimitrov on 8 May 1943 to wind up the organisation. Dimitrov was transferred to the International Department of the Bolshevik Party Central Committee.[18] Robert Service suggests that this could have allayed fears among the Allies that Stalin would pursue world revolution in the post-war world. However, Stalin’s suspicion of the Comintern and the liquidation of many of its important operatives indicate fundamental belligerence between the two. In place of proletarian international solidarity, Stalin established an All-Slavic Committee[19] to promote Slavic folkish solidarity, although the inclusion of the Magyars[20] was problematic.

Stalin throughout his reign undertook a vigorous elimination of World Communist leaders. Stalin decimated communist refugees from fascism living in the USSR. While only 5 members of the Politburo of the German Communist Party had been killed under Hitler, in the USSR 7 were liquidated, and 41 out of 68 party leaders. The entire Central Committee of the Polish Communist Party in exile were liquidated, and an estimated 5000 party members were killed. The Polish Communist Party was formally dissolved in 1938. 700 Comintern headquarters staff were purged.[21]

Among the foreign Communist luminaries who were liquidated was Bela Kun, whose psychotic Communist regime in Hungary in 1919 lasted 133 days. Kun fled to the Soviet Union where he oversaw the killing of 50,000 soldiers and civilians attached to the White Army under Wrangle, who had surrendered after being promised amnesty. Kun was a member of the Executive Committee of the Comintern. A favourite of Lenin’s, this bloody lunatic served as a Comintern agent in Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia during the 1920s. In 1938 he was brought before a tribunal and after a brief trial was executed the same day.[22]

Another action of great symbolism was Stalin’s moves against the ‘Old Bolsheviks’, the veterans of the 1917 Revolution. Leon Sedov, Leon Trotsky’s son, in his pamphlet on the Great Purge of the late 1930s, waxed indignant that Stalin ‘coldly orders the shooting of Bolsheviks, former leaders of the Party and the Comintern, and heroes of the Civil War’.[23] ‘The Association of Old Bolsheviks and that of the former political prisoners has been dissolved. They were too strong a reminder of the “cursed” revolutionary past’.[24]

In place of the Comintern the Cominform was established in 1947, for the purpose of instructing Communist parties to campaign against the Marshall Aid programme that was designed to bring war-ravished Europe under US hegemony. ‘European communism was to be redirected’ towards maintaining the gains of the Red Army during World War II. ‘Communist parties in Western Europe could stir up trouble’, against the USA. The Cominform was far removed from being a resurrection of the old Comintern. As to who was invited to the inaugural meeting held at a secluded village in Poland, ‘Stalin… refused a request from Mao Zedong, who obviously thought that the plan was to re-establish the Communist International’. The Spanish and Portuguese parties were not invited, nor were the British, or the Greek Communist Party, which was fighting a civil war against the royalists.[25]

The extent of the ‘fraternity’ between the USSR and the foreign Communists can be gauged from the delegates having not been given prior knowledge of the agenda, and being ‘treated like detainees on arrival’. While Soviet delegates Malenkov and Zhdanov kept in regular communication with Stalin, none of the other delegates were permitted communication with the outside world.[26]

Repudiation of Marxist Doctrine

The implementation of Marxism as a policy upon which to construct a State was of course worthless, and Stalin reversed the doctrinaire Marxism that he had inherited from the Lenin regime. Leon Sedov indignantly stated of this:

In the most diverse areas, the heritage of the October revolution is being liquidated. Revolutionary internationalism gives way to the cult of the fatherland in the strictest sense. And the fatherland means, above all, the authorities. Ranks, decorations and titles have been reintroduced. The officer caste headed by the marshals has been reestablished. The old communist workers are pushed into the background; the working class is divided into different layers; the bureaucracy bases itself on the ‘non-party Bolshevik’, the Stakhanovist, that is, the workers’ aristocracy, on the foreman and, above all, on the specialist and the administrator. The old petit-bourgeois family is being reestablished and idealized in the most middle-class way; despite the general protestations, abortions are prohibited, which, given the difficult material conditions and the primitive state of culture and hygiene, means the enslavement of women, that is, the return to pre-October times. The decree of the October revolution concerning new schools has been annulled. School has been reformed on the model of tsarist Russia: uniforms have been reintroduced for the students, not only to shackle their independence, but also to facilitate their surveillance outside of school. Students are evaluated according to their marks for behaviour, and these favour the docile, servile student, not the lively and independent schoolboy. The fundamental virtue of youth today is the ‘respect for one’s elders’, along with the ‘respect for the uniform’. A whole institute of inspectors has been created to look after the behaviour and morality of the youth.[27]

This is what Leon Sedov, and his father, Leon Trotsky, called the ‘Bonapartist character of Stalinism’.[28] And that is precisely what Stalin represents in history: the Napoleon of the Bolshevik Revolution who reversed the Marxian doctrinal excrescences in a manner analogous to that of Napoleon’s reversal of Jacobin fanaticism after the 1789 French Revolution. Underneath the hypocritical moral outrage about Stalinist ‘repression’, etc.,[29] a number of salient factors emerge regarding Stalin’s repudiation of Marxist-Leninist dogma:

  • The ‘fatherland’ or what was called again especially during World War II, ‘Holy Mother Russia’, replaced international class war and world revolution.
  • Hierarchy in the military and elsewhere was re-established openly rather than under a hypocritical façade of soviet democracy and equality.
  • A new technocratic elite was established, analogous to the principles of German ‘National Bolshevism’.
  • The traditional family, the destruction of which is one of the primary aims of Marxism generally[30] and Trotskyism specifically,[31] was re-established.
  • Abortion, the liberalisation of which was heralded as a great achievement in woman’s emancipation in the early days of Bolshevik Russia, was reversed.
  • A Czarist type discipline was reintroduced to the schools; Leon Sedov condemned this as shackling the free spirit of youth, as if there were any such freedom under the Leninist regime.
  • ‘Respect for elders’ was re-established, again anathema to the Marxists who seek the destruction of family life through the alienation of children from parents.[32]

What the Trotskyites and other Marxists object to was Stalin’s establishment the USSR as a powerful ‘nation-state’, and later as an imperial power, rather than as a citadel for world revolution. However, the Trotskyites, more than any other Marxist faction, allied themselves to American imperialism in their hatred of Stalinist Russia, and served as the most enthusiastic partisans of the Cold War.[33] Sedov continued:

Stalin not only bloodily breaks with Bolshevism, with all its traditions and its past, he is also trying to drag Bolshevism and the October revolution through the mud. And he is doing it in the interests of world and domestic reaction. The corpses of Zinoviev and Kamenev must show to the world bourgeoisie that Stalin has broken with the revolution, and must testify to his loyalty and ability to lead a nation-state. The corpses of the old Bolsheviks must prove to the world bourgeoisie that Stalin has in reality radically changed his politics, that the men who entered history as the leaders of revolutionary Bolshevism, the enemies of the bourgeoisie, – are his enemies also. Trotsky, whose name is inseparably linked with that of Lenin as the leader of the October revolution, Trotsky, the founder and leader of the Red Army; Zinoviev and Kamenev, the closest disciples of Lenin, one, president of the Comintern, the other, Lenin’s deputy and member of the Politburo; Smirnov, one of the oldest Bolsheviks, conqueror of Kolchak—today they are being shot and the bourgeoisie of the world must see in this the symbol of a new period. This is the end of the revolution, says Stalin. The world bourgeoisie can and must reckon with Stalin as a serious ally, as the head of a nation-state…. Stalin has abandoned long ago the course toward world revolution.[34]

As history shows, it was not Stalin to whom the ‘world bourgeoisie’ or more aptly, the world plutocracy, looked on as an ally, but leading Trotskyites whose hatred of Stalin and the USSR made them vociferous advocates of American foreign policy.

Family Life Restored

Leon Trotsky is particularly interesting in regard to what he saw as the ‘revolution betrayed’ in his condemnation of Stalinist policies on ‘youth, family, and culture’. Using the term ‘Thermidor’, taken from the French revolutionary era, in his description of Stalinism vis-à-vis the Bolshevik revolution, Trotsky began his critique on family, generational and gender relations. Chapter 7 of The Revolution Betrayed is worth reading in its entirety as an over-view of how Stalin reversed Marxism-Leninism. Whether that is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ is, of course, left to the subjectivity of the reader.[35]

The primary raison d’etre of Marxism for Trotsky personally seems to have been the destruction of religion and of family (as it was for Marx).[36] Hence, the amount of attention Trotsky gives to lamenting the return to traditional family relations under Stalin:

The revolution made a heroic effort to destroy the so-called ‘family hearth’ – that archaic, stuffy and stagnant institution in which the woman of the toiling classes performs galley labor from childhood to death. The place of the family as a shut-in petty enterprise was to be occupied, according to the plans, by a finished system of social care and accommodation: maternity houses, creches, kindergartens, schools, social dining rooms, social laundries, first-aid stations, hospitals, sanatoria, athletic organizations, moving-picture theaters, etc. The complete absorption of the housekeeping functions of the family by institutions of the socialist society, uniting all generations in solidarity and mutual aid, was to bring to woman, and thereby to the loving couple, a real liberation from the thousand-year-old fetters. Up to now this problem of problems has not been solved. The forty million Soviet families remain in their overwhelming majority nests of medievalism, female slavery and hysteria, daily humiliation of children, feminine and childish superstition. We must permit ourselves no illusions on this account. For that very reason, the consecutive changes in the approach to the problem of the family in the Soviet Union best of all characterize the actual nature of Soviet society and the evolution of its ruling stratum.[37]

Marxism, behind the façade of women’s emancipation, ridicules the traditional female role in the family as ‘galley labour’, but does so for the purpose of delivering women to the ‘galley labour’ of the Marxist state. The Marxist solution is to take the child from the parents and substitute parental authority for the State via childcare. As is apparent today, the Marxist ideal regarding the family and children is the same as that of big capitalism. It is typical of the manner by which Marxism, including Communism, converges with plutocracy, as Spengler pointed out soon after the 1917 Revolution in Russia.[38]

Trotsky states, ‘you cannot “abolish” the family; you have to replace it’. The aim was to replace the family with the state apparatus: ‘During the lean years, the workers wherever possible, and in part their families, ate in the factory and other social dining rooms, and this fact was officially regarded as a transition to a socialist form of life’. Trotsky decries the reversal by Stalin of this subversion of the family hearth: ‘The fact is that from the moment of the abolition of the food-card system in 1935, all the better placed workers began to return to the home dining table’. Women as mothers and wives were retuning to the home rather than being dragooned into factories, Trotsky getting increasingly vehement at these reversals of Marxism:

Back to the family hearth! But home cooking and the home washtub, which are now half shamefacedly celebrated by orators and journalists, mean the return of the workers’ wives to their pots and pans that is, to the old slavery.[39]

The original Bolshevik plan was for a new slavery where all would be bound to the factory floor regardless of gender, a now familiar aim of global capitalism, behind the façade of ‘equality’.  Trotsky lamented that the rural family was even stronger: ‘The rural family, bound up not only with home industry but with agriculture, is infinitely more stable and conservative than that of the town’. There had been major reversals in the collectivisation of the peasant families: they were again obtaining most of their food from private lots rather than collectivised farms, and ‘there can no longer be any talk of social dining rooms’. ‘Thus the midget farms, [were] creating a new basis for the domestic hearthstone…’[40]

The pioneering of abortion rights by the Leninist regime was celebrated as a great achievement of Bolshevism, which was, however, reversed by Stalin with the celebration instead of motherhood. In terms that are today conventional throughout the Western world, Trotsky stated that due to the economic burden of children upon women,

…It is just for this reason that the revolutionary power gave women the right to abortion, which in conditions of want and family distress, whatever may be said upon this subject by the eunuchs and old maids of both sexes, is one of her most important civil, political and cultural rights. However, this right of women too, gloomy enough in itself, is under the existing social inequality being converted into a privilege.[41]

The Old Bolsheviks demanded abortion as a means of ‘emancipating women’ from children and family. One can hardly account for the Bolshevik attitude by an appeal to anyone’s ‘rights’ (sic). The answer to the economic hardship of childbearing was surely to eliminate the causes of the hardship. In fact, this was the aim of the Stalinists, Trotsky citing this in condemnation:

One of the members of the highest Soviet court, Soltz, a specialist on matrimonial questions, bases the forthcoming prohibition of abortion on the fact that in a socialist society where there are no unemployed, etc., etc., a woman has no right to decline ‘the joys of motherhood’.[42]

On June 27 1936 a law was passed prohibiting abortion, which Trotsky called the natural and logical fruit of a ‘Thermidorian reaction’.[43] The redemption of the family and motherhood was damned perhaps more vehemently by Trotsky than any other aspect of Stalinism as a repudiation of the ‘ABCs of Communism’, which he stated includes ‘getting women out of the clutches of the family’.

Everybody and everything is dragged into the new course: lawgiver and litterateur, court and militia, newspaper and schoolroom. When a naive and honest communist youth makes bold to write in his paper: ‘You would do better to occupy yourself with solving the problem how woman can get out of the clutches of the family’, he receives in answer a couple of good smacks and – is silent. The ABCs of Communism are declared a ‘leftist excess’. The stupid and stale prejudices of uncultured philistines are resurrected in the name of a new morale. And what is happening in daily life in all the nooks and corners of this measureless country? The press reflects only in a faint degree the depth of the Thermidorian reaction in the sphere of the family.[44]

A ‘new’ or what we might better call traditional ‘morale’ had returned. Marriage and family were being revived in contrast to the laws of early Bolshevik rule:

The lyric, academical and other ‘friends of the Soviet Union’ have eyes in order to see nothing. The marriage and family laws established by the October revolution, once the object of its legitimate pride, are being made over and mutilated by vast borrowings from the law treasuries of the bourgeois countries. And as though on purpose to stamp treachery with ridicule, the same arguments which were earlier advanced in favor of unconditional freedom of divorce and abortion – ‘the liberation of women’, ‘defense of the rights of personality’, ‘protection of motherhood’ – are repeated now in favor of their limitation and complete prohibition.[45]

Trotsky proudly stated that the Bolsheviks had sought to alienate children from their parents, but under Stalin parents resumed their responsibilities as the guardians of their children’s welfare, rather than the role being allotted to factory crèches. It seems, that in this respect at least, Stalinist Russia was less a Marxian-Bolshevik state than the present day capitalist states which insist that mothers should leave their children to the upbringing of crèches while they are forced to work; and ironically those most vocal in demanding such polices are often regarded as ‘right-wing’.

Trotsky lauded the policy of the early Bolshevik state, to the point where the state withdrew support from parents

While the hope still lived of concentrating the education of the new generations in the hands of the state, the government was not only unconcerned about supporting the authority of the ‘elders’, and, in particular of the mother and father, but on the contrary tried its best to separate the children from the family, in order thus to protect them from the traditions of a stagnant mode of life.[46]

Trotsky portrayed the early Bolshevik experiments as the saving of children from ‘drunken fathers or religious mothers’; ‘a shaking of parental authority to its very foundations’.[47]

Stalinist Russia also reversed the original Bolshevik education policy that had been based on ‘progressive’ American concepts and returned authority to the schools. In speaking of the campaign against decadence in music,[48] Andrei Zhdanov, Stalin’s cultural adviser, recalled the original Bolshevik education policy, and disparaged it as ‘very leftish’:

At one time, you remember, elementary and secondary schools went in for the ‘laboratory brigade’ method and the ‘Dalton plan’,[49] which reduced the role of the teacher in the schools to a minimum and gave each pupil the right to set the theme of classwork at the beginning of each lesson. On arriving in the classroom, the teacher would ask the pupils ‘What shall we study today?’ The pupils would reply: ‘Tell us about the Arctic’, ‘Tell us about the Antarctic’, ‘Tell us about Chapayev’, ‘Tell us about Dneprostroi’. The teacher had to follow the lead of these demands. This was called the ‘laboratory brigade method’, but actually it amounted to turning the organisation of schooling completely topsy-turvy. The pupils became the directing force, and the teacher followed their lead. Once we had ‘loose-leaf textbooks’, and the five point system of marks was abandoned. All these things were novelties, but I ask you, did these novelties stand for progress?

The Party cancelled all these ‘novelties’, as you know. Why? Because these ‘novelties’, in form very ‘leftish’, were in actual fact extremely reactionary and made for the nullification of the school.[50]

One observer visiting the USSR explained:

Theories of education were numerous. Every kind of educational system and experiment was tried—the Dalton Plan, the Project Method, the Brigade Laboratory and the like. Examinations were abolished and then reinstated; though with a vital difference. Examinations in the Soviet Union serve as a test for scholarship, not as a door to educational privilege.[51]

In particular the amorality inherent in Marxism was reversed under Stalinism. Richard Overy sates of this process:

Changing attitudes to behaviour and social environment under Stalin went hand-in-hand with a changing attitude towards the family… Unlike family policy in the 1920s, which assumed the gradual breakdown of the conventional family unit as the state supplied education and social support of the young, and men and women sought more collective modes of daily life, social policy under Stalin reinstated the family as the central social unit, and proper parental care as the model environment for the new Soviet generation. Family policy was driven by two primary motives: to expand the birth rate and to provide a more stable social context in a period of rapid social change. Mothers were respected as heroic socialist models in their own right and motherhood was defined as a socialist duty. In 1944 medals were introduced for women who had answered the call: Motherhood medal, Second Class for five children, First Class for six; medals of Motherhood Glory in three classes for seven, eight or nine offspring, for ten or more, mothers were justly nominated Heroine Mother of the Soviet Union, and an average of 5,000 a year won this highest accolade, and a diploma from the Soviet President himself.[52]

No longer were husband and wife disparaged as the ‘drunken father’ and the ‘religious mother’, from whom the child must be ‘emancipated’ and placed under state jurisdiction, as Trotsky and the other Old Bolshevik reprobates attempted. Professor Overy states, rather, that ‘the ideal family was defined in socialist-realist terms as large, harmonious and hardworking’. ‘Free love and sexual licence’, the moral nihilism encouraged by Bolshevism during its early phase, was being described in Pravda in 1936 as ‘altogether bourgeois’.[53]

In 1934 traditional marriage was reintroduced, and wedding rings, banned since the 1920s, were again produced. The austere and depressing atmosphere of the old Bolshevik marriage ceremony was replaced with more festive and prolonged celebration. Divorce, which the Bolsheviks had made easy, causing thousands of men to leave their families, was discouraged by raising fees. Absentee fathers were obliged to pay half their earnings for the upkeep of their families. Homosexuality, decriminalised in 1922, was recriminalised in 1934. Abortion, legalised in 1920, was outlawed in 1936, with abortionists liable to imprisonment from one to three years, while women seeking termination could be fined up to 300 roubles.[54] The exception was that those with hereditary illnesses could apply for abortion.[55]


The antithesis between Marxist orthodoxy and Stalinism is nowhere better seen than in the attitudes towards the family, as related above, and culture.

Andrei Zhdanov, the primary theoretician on culture in Stalinist Russia, was an inveterate opponent of ‘formalism’ and modernism in the arts. ‘Socialist-realism’, as Soviet culture was termed from 1932,[56] was formulated that year by Maxim Gorky, head of the Union of Soviet Writers.[57] It was heroic, folkish and organic. The individual artist was the conveyor of the folk-soul, in contrast to the art of Western decline, dismissively described in the USSR as ‘bourgeoisie formalism’.[58]

The original Bolshevik vision of a mass democratic art, organised as ‘Proletkult’, which recruited thousands of workers to be trained as artists and writers, as one would train workers to operate a factory conveyor built, was replaced by the genius of the individual expressing the soul of the people. While in The West the extreme Left and its wealthy patrons championed various forms of modernism,[59] in the USSR they were marginalized at best, resulting in the suicide for example of the Russian ‘Constructivist’ Mayakovsky. The revitalisation of Russian-Soviet art received its primary impetus in 1946 with the launching of Zhdanovschina.[60]

The classical composers from the Czarist era, such as Tchaikovsky, Glinka sand Borodin, were revived, after being sidelined in the early years of Bolshevism in favour of modernism, as were great non-Russian composers such as Beethoven, Brahms and Schubert.[61] Maxim Gorky continued to be celebrated as ‘the founder of Soviet literature and he continued to visit the USSR, despite his having moved to Fascist Italy. He returned to Russia in 1933.[62] Modernists who had been fêted in the early days of Bolshevism, such as the playwright, Nikolai Erdman, were relegated to irrelevance by the 1930s.[63]

Jazz and the associated types of dancing were condemned as bourgeoisie degeneracy.[64]

Zhdanov’s speech to the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolshevik) intended primarily to lay the foundations of Soviet music, represents one of the most cogent recent attempts to define culture. Other than some sparse references to Marx, Lenin and internationalism, the Zhdanov speech should rank alongside T S Eliot’s Notes Towards A Definition of Culture[65] as a seminal conservative statement on culture. The Zhandov speech also helped set the foundation for the campaign against ‘rootless cosmopolitanism’ that was launched several years later. Zhdandov’s premises for a Soviet music were based on the classical and the organic connexion with the folk, striving for excellence, and expressing lofty values, rejecting modernism as detached from folk and tradition.

And, indeed, we are faced with a very acute, although outwardly concealed struggle between two trends in Soviet music. One trend represents the healthy, progressive principle in Soviet music, based upon recognition of the tremendous role of the classical heritage, and, in particular, the traditions of the Russian musical school, on the combination of lofty idea content in music, its truthfulness and realism, with profound, organic ties with the people and their music and songs – all this combined with a high degree of professional mastery. The other trend is that of formalism, which is alien to Soviet art, and is marked by rejection of the classical heritage under the guise of seeming novelty, by rejection of popular music, by rejection of service to the people in preference for catering to the highly individualistic emotions of a small group of select aesthetes.[66]

While some in the Proletkult, founded in 1917 were of Futurist orientation, declaring like the poet Vladimir Kirillov, for example, that ‘In the name of our tomorrow, we will burn Raphael, we will destroy museums, we will trample the flowers of art’, the Proletkult organisation was abolished in 1932,[67] and Soviet culture was re-established on classical foundations. Khdanov was to stress the classical heritage combined with the Russian folk traditions, as the basis for Soviet culture in his address:

Let us examine the question of attitude towards the classical heritage, for instance. Swear as the above-mentioned composers may that they stand with both feet on the soil of the classical heritage, there is nothing to prove that the adherents of the formalistic school are perpetuating and developing the traditions of classical music. Any listener will tell you that the work of the Soviet composers of the formalistic trend is totally unlike classical music. Classical music is characterised by its truthfulness and realism, by the ability to attain to unity of brilliant artistic form with profound content, to combine great mastery with simplicity and comprehensibility. Classical music in general, and Russian classical music in particular, are strangers to formalism and crude naturalism. They are marked by lofty idea content, based upon recognition of the musical art of the peoples as the wellspring of classical music, by profound respect and love for the people, their music and songs.[68]

Zhdanov’s analysis of modernism in music and his definition of classic culture is eminently relevant for the present state of Western cultural degeneracy:

What a step back from the highroad of musical development our formalists make when, undermining the bulwarks of real music, they compose false and ugly music, permeated with idealistic emotions, alien to the wide masses of people, and catering not to the millions of Soviet people, but to the few, to a score or more of chosen ones, to the ‘elite’! How this differs from Glinka, Chaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Dargomyjsky and Mussorgsky, who regarded the ability to express the spirit and character of the people in their works as the foundation of their artistic growth. Neglect of the demands of the people, their spirit and art means that the formalistic trend in music is definitely anti-popular in character.[69]

Zhdanov addressed a tendency in Russia that has thrived in The West: that of the ever new and the ‘theoretical’ that is supposedly so profound as to be beyond the understanding of all but depraved, pretentious or commodity-driven artistic coteries in claiming that only future generations will widely understand these artistic vanguards. However, Stalinist Russia repudiated the nonsense; and exposed the emperor as having no clothes:

It is simply a terrible thing if the ‘theory’ that ‘we will be understood fifty or a hundred years hence’, that ‘our contemporaries may not understand us, but posterity will’ is current among a certain section of Soviet composers. If this altitude has become habitual, it is a very dangerous habit.[70]

For Zhdanov, and consequently for the USSR, the classics were a folkish manifestation arising from the soul of the Russian people, rather than being dismissed in Marxian manner as merely products of bourgeoisie culture. In fact, as indicated previously, it was modernism that was regarded as a manifestation of ‘bourgeois decadence’. Zhandov castigated the modernists as elitist, aloof, or better said, alienated from the folk. On the other hand the great Russian classicists, despite their class origins, were upheld as paragons of the Russian folk culture:

Remember how the classics felt about the needs of the people. We have begun to forget in what striking language the composers of the Big Five,[71] and the great music critic Stasov, who was affiliated with them, spoke of the popular element in music. We have begun to forget Glinka’s wonderful words about the ties between the people and artists: “Music is created by the people and we artists only arrange it.” We are forgetting that the great master did not stand aloof from any genres if these genres helped to bring music closer to the wide masses of people. You, on the other hand, hold aloof even from such a genre as the opera; you regard the opera as secondary, opposing it to instrumental symphony music, to say nothing of the fact that you look down on song, choral and concert music, considering it a disgrace to stoop to it and satisfy the demands of the people. Yet Mussorgsky adapted the music of the Hopak, while Glinka used the Komarinsky for one of his finest compositions. Evidently, we shall have to admit that the landlord Glinka, the official Serov and the aristocrat Stasov were more democratic than you. This is paradoxical, but it is a fact. Solemn vows that you are all for popular music are not enough. If you are, why do you make so little use of folk melodies in your musical works? Why are the defects, which were criticised long ago by Serov, when he said that ‘learned’, that is, professional, music was developing parallel with and independently of folk music, repeating themselves? Can we really say that our instrumental symphony music is developing in close interaction with folk music – be it song, concert or choral music? No, we cannot say that. On the contrary, a gulf has unquestionably arisen here as the result of the underestimation of folk music by our symphony composers. Let me remind you of how Serov defined his attitude to folk music. I am referring to his article The Music of South Russian Songs in which he said: ‘Folk songs, as musical organisms, are by no means the work of individual musical talents, but the productions of a whole nation; their entire structure distinguishes them from the artificial music written in conscious imitation of previous examples, written as the products of definite schools, science, routine and reflexes. They are flowers that grow naturally in a given locale, that have appeared in the world of themselves and sprung to full beauty without the least thought of authorship or composition, and consequently, with little resemblance to the hothouse products of learned compositional activity’. That is why the naivete of creation, and that (as Gogol aptly expressed it in Dead Souls) lofty wisdom of simplicity which is the main charm and main secret of every artistic work are most strikingly manifest in them.[72]

It is notable that Zhdanov emphasised the basis of culture as an organic flowering from the nation. Of painting Zhandov again attacked the psychotic ‘leftist’ influences:

Or take this example. An Academy of Fine Arts was organised not so long ago. Painting is your sister, one of the muses. At one time, as you know, bourgeois influences were very strong in painting. They cropped up time and again under the most ‘leftist’ flags, giving themselves such tags as futurism, cubism, modernism; ‘stagnant academism’ was ‘overthrown’, and novelty proclaimed. This novelty expressed itself in insane carryings on, as for instance, when a girl was depicted with one head on forty legs, with one eye turned towards us, and the other towards Arzamas. How did all this end? In the complete crash of the ‘new trend’. The Party fully restored the significance of the classical heritage of Repin, Briullov, Vereshchagin, Vasnetsov and Surikov. Did we do right in reinstating the treasures of classical painting, and routing the liquidators of painting?[73]

The extended discussion here on Russian culture under Stalin is due to the importance that the culture-war between the USSR and the USA took, having repercussions that were not only world-wide but lasting.


[1] Oswald Spengler, The Hour of Decision (New York: Alfred A Knopf, 1963), 61.

[2] K R Bolton, ‘Jünger and National-Bolshevism’ in Jünger: Thoughts & Perspectives Vol. XI (London: Black Front Press, 2012).

[3] Association for the Study of the Planned Economy of Soviet Russia.

[4] League of Professional Intellectuals.

[5] K R Bolton, ‘Jünger and National-Bolshevism’, op. cit.

[6] Cited by John J Stephan, The Russian Fascists (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1978), 338.

[7] K R Bolton, ‘Francis Parker Yockey: Stalin’s Fascist Advocate’, International Journal of Russian Studies, Issue No. 6, 2010, http://www.radtr.net/dergi/sayi6/bolton6.htm [3]

[8] K R Bolton, ‘Cold War Axis: Soviet Anti-Zionism and the American Right’’ see Appendix II below.

[9] See Chapter III: ‘The Moscow Trials in Historical Context’.

[10] R Service, Comrades: Communism: A World History (London: Pan MacMillan, 2008), 97.

[11] Ibid., 98.

[12] Ibid., 107.

[13] Ibid., 109.

[14] Ibid., 116.

[15] G Dimitrov, Dimitrov and Stalin 1934-1943: Letters from the Soviet Archives, 32, cited by R Service, ibid., 220.

[16] R Service, ibid., 220.

[17] G Dimitrov, op. cit., cited by Service, ibid., 221.

[18] R Service, ibid., 222.

[19] Ibid.

[20] Hungarians.

[21] Richard Overy, The Dictators: Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Russia (London: Allen Lane, 2004), 201.

[22] L I Shvetsova, et al. (eds.), Rasstrel’nye spiski: Moskva, 1937-1941: … Kniga pamiati zhertv politicheskii repressii. (‘The Execution List: Moscow, 1937-1941: … Book of Remembrances of the victims of Political Repression’), (Moscow: Memorial Society, Zven’ia Publishing House, 2000), 229.

[23] L Sedov, ‘Why did Stalin Need this Trial?’, The Red Book on the Moscow Trials, http://www.marxists.org/history/etol/writers/sedov/works/red/ch01.htm [4]

[24] . Ibid., ‘Domestic Political Reasons’.

[25] R Service, op. cit., 240-241.

[26] Ibid., 242.

[27] Ibid.

[28] Ibid.

[29] Given that when Trotsky was empowered under Lenin he established or condoned the methods of jurisprudence, concentration camps, forced labour, and the ‘Red Terror’, that were later to be placed entirely at the feet of Stalin.

[30] Karl Marx, ‘Proletarians and Communists’, The Communist Manifesto, (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1975), 68.

[31] K R Bolton, ‘The State versus Parental Authority’, Journal of Social, Political & Economic Studies, Vol. 36, No. 2, Summer 2011, 197-217.

[32] K Marx, Communist Manifesto, op. cit.

[33] See Chapter V.

[34] L Sedov, op. cit., ‘Reasons of Foreign Policy’.

[35] L Trotsky, The Revolution Betrayed, Chapter 7, ‘Family, Youth and Culture’, http://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1936/revbet/ch07.htm

[36] K R Bolton, ‘The Psychopathology of the Left’, Ab Aeterno, No. 10, Jan,-March 2012, Academy of Social and Political Research (Athens), Paraparaumu, New Zealand. The discussion on Marx and on Trotsky show their pathological hatred of family.

[37] L Trotsky, The Revolution Betrayed, op. cit., ‘The Thermidor in the Family’.

[38] ‘There is no proletarian, not even a communist, movement that has not operated in the interests of money, in the directions indicated by money, and for the time permitted by money — and that without the idealist amongst its leaders having the slightest suspicion of the fact’. Oswald Spengler, The Decline of The West (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1971),Vol. II, 402.

[39] L Trotsky, op.cit.

[40] Ibid.

[41] Ibid.

[42] Ibid.

[43] Ibid.

[44] Ibid.

[45] Ibid.

[46] Ibid.

[47] Ibid.

[48] See below.

[49] A laudatory article on the ‘Dalton Plan’ states that the Dalton School was founded in New York in 1919 and was one of the most important progressive schools of the time, the Dalton Plan being adopted across the world, including in the USSR. It is described as ‘often chaotic and disorganized, but also intimate, caring, nurturing, and familial’. Interestingly it is described as a synthesis of the theories of John Dewey and Carleton Washburne. ‘Dalton School’, http://education.stateuniversity.com/pages/1902/Dalton-School.html [5]

Dewey along with the Trotsky apologist Sidney Hook (later avid Cold Warrior and winner of the American Medal of Freedom from President Ronald Reagan) organised the campaign to defend Trotsky at the time of the Moscow Purges of the late 1930s. See Chapter II below.

[50] A Zhandov, Speech at the discussion on music to the Central Committee of the Communist Party SU (Bolshevik), February 1948.

[51] Hewlett Johnson, The Socialist Sixth of the World (London: Victor Gollanncz, 1939), Book IV, ‘New Horizons’, http://www.marxists.org/archive/johnson-hewlett/socialistsixth/ch04.htm [6]

[52] R Overy, op. cit., 255-256.

[53] Ibid.

[54] Ibid., 257.

[55] Ibid., p. 258.

[56] Ibid., 352.

[57] Ibid., 353.

[58] Ibid.

[59] K R Bolton, Revolution from Above, op. cit., 134-143.

[60] Overy, op.cit., 361.

[61] Ibid., 366-367.

[62] Ibid., 366.

[63] Ibid., 371.

[64] Ibid., 376.

[65] T S Eliot, Notes Towards the Definition of Culture (London: Faber and Faber, 1967).

[66] Zhdanov, op. cit., 6.

[67] Encyclopaedia of Soviet Writers, http://www.sovlit.net/bios/proletkult.html [7]

[68] Zhdanov, op. cit., 6-7.

[69] Ibid., 7

[70] Ibid.

[71] The Big Five – a group of Russian composers during the 1860’s: Balakirev, Mussorgsky, Borodin, Rimsky-Korsakov, Cui.

[72] Zhdanov, op. cit., 7-8.

[73] Ibid., 12.


Article printed from Counter-Currents Publishing: http://www.counter-currents.com

URL to article: http://www.counter-currents.com/2013/03/stalins-fight-against-international-communism/

URLs in this post:

[1] Image: http://www.counter-currents.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/stalin-the-enduring-legacy.jpg

[2] Stalin: The Enduring Legacy: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1908476443/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=1908476443&linkCode=as2&tag=countercurren-20

[3] http://www.radtr.net/dergi/sayi6/bolton6.htm: http://www.radtr.net/dergi/sayi6/bolton6.htm

[4] http://www.marxists.org/history/etol/writers/sedov/works/red/ch01.htm: http://www.marxists.org/history/etol/writers/sedov/works/red/ch01.htm

[5] http://education.stateuniversity.com/pages/1902/Dalton-School.html: http://education.stateuniversity.com/pages/1902/Dalton-School.html

[6] http://www.marxists.org/archive/johnson-hewlett/socialistsixth/ch04.htm: http://www.marxists.org/archive/johnson-hewlett/socialistsixth/ch04.htm

[7] http://www.sovlit.net/bios/proletkult.html: http://www.sovlit.net/bios/proletkult.html

vendredi, 29 mars 2013

Fascism & the Meaning of Life

Fascism & the Meaning of Life

By Alisdair Clarke

Ex: http://www.counter-currents.com/

Roger Griffin
Modernism and Fascism: The Sense of a Beginning under Mussolini and Hitler [2]
Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007

grifffi22816791z.jpgRoger Griffin, Professor in Modern History at Oxford Brookes University, first introduced the idea of “Palingenesis” to the field of fascist studies over 15 years ago, making him immediately a leading figure in his chosen vocation. He isolated the syncretic fascist core as being palingenetic, populist ultra-nationalism, with overtones of a phoenix-like heroic rebirth. Since then he has extended and elaborated his theory that essential to the definition of the “fascist minimum” is the notion of national rebirth or renaissance — “myths that generated policies and actions designed to bring about collective redemption, a new national community, a new society, a new man…engineered through the power of the modern state.” — culminating in this masterwork which rightly places fascism at the centre of wider modernist movements.

Epiphanic versus Programmatic Modernism

Griffin’s insights have previously been recognized as audacious and perceptive, no more so than here. Part One of the book tackles the at first seemingly tricky concept of Modernism itself, which Griffin clarifies brilliantly. Modernism’s “common denominator lies in the bid to achieve a sense of transcendent value, meaning of purpose despite Western culture’s progressive loss of a homogeneous value system and overarching cosmology (nomos) caused by the secularizing and disembedding forces of modernization.” Modernization is experienced by those caught up in its slipstream as a relentless juggernaut unzipping the fabric of meaningful existence and leaving in its wake the abyss of permanently unresolved ambivalence. In short, Modernism is defined as a reaction against the decadent[1] nihilism of intellectual, societal and technical modernization.

While Marx, other Leftists and liberals consider modern man’s condition as one of angst and alienation induced by class warfare and industrial production, the Right sees anomie as both the cause and the principle symptom of our modern malaise. “It is the black hole of existential self-awareness in all of us, our fear of ‘the eternal silence of infinite spaces’ that so alarmed [Blaise] Pascal, which produces culture.”

This modern culture is further divided by Griffin into what might be called introvert and extrovert reactions: the introvert reaction is generally individualistic and in Griffin’s expression an “epiphanic modernism” — the path of the artist — while the extrovert, collective reaction is defined as “programmatic modernism.” The latter seeks to change the world and resolve the permanent crisis of modernity (“all that is solid melts into air” – Marx) by a collective act of “reconnection forwards” (Moeller van den Bruck). It is not difficult to make the short step from “programmatic modernism” to fascism; the transcendent politics proposed by van den Bruck at the beginning of the Twentieth Century are not so different from Guillaume Faye’s “Archaic Futurism” at its end. Both are, in the phrase of Guy Debord, “technically equipped archaism.”

roger_griffin.jpgAmongst the epiphanic modernists Griffin includes Nietzsche, Eliot, Joyce, Proust, van Gogh, Kandinsky, and Malevich, but perhaps the truth of Griffin’s argument is demonstrated by the man widely acknowledged as the greatest modern painter: Picasso. In his earlier cubist works, Picasso sought inspiration from the primitivism of African masks, and later in the archetypal Mediterranean symbols of horses and particularly bulls (which surprisingly Griffin doesn’t mention).

Gardening State

Following the exhaustive and enlightening dissection of modernism in Part One, Griffin explores the implications and applied politics in Part Two, where “modernity turbocharged by the conjuncture of the First World War, the Russian Revolution, the collapse of three absolutist regimes and a powerful monarchy, with an influenza epidemic that killed as many as 100 million people world wide had made the modernist drive to ward off the terror of the void — cultural, social and political — a phenomenon of mass culture. The new era would be a creatio ex profundis, an act of creativity defying the void.” Fascism aimed for a complete overhaul, in accordance with Emilio Gentile’s observation of totalitarianism as “an experiment in political domination undertaken by a revolutionary movement.”

Griffin introduces the idea of the pre-War Fascist and National Socialist regimes as “gardening states” striking a successful balance between idyllic ruralism and technocratic modernism, the “compelling new imperative” that it obeyed “to clean up, to sterilize, to re-order, to eliminate dirt and dust” (Frances Saunders). Or neatly, if flippantly, summed up by Lars Lindholm, “For example, the Aryans (i.e. Germans, the blond and blue-eyed) are direct descendants from the Atlantean root-race, whereas the Jews, Negroes, Slavs, and anyone else for that matter, are unfortunate mutants, further away from Homo sapiens than the snottiest gorilla. The reason for all the troubles in this world is the presence of these unsavoury species that the master race should mercifully do away with so that peace and quiet could be restored and life imbued with a bit of style” (PILGRIMS OF THE NIGHT: Pathfinders of the Magical Way [Llewellyn, St. Paul MN, 1993]). It was this same vision of hygienic modernity which inspired the building in London of bright new health centres in Peckham and Finsbury during the 1930s. But mild English pragmatism was no match for German determination, where public buildings were “an act of sacralization symbolized in the toned bodies of Aryan workers showering in the washrooms of newly built hygienic factories or playing football on a KdF sportsground, their camaraderie and zest for life expressing the hope for a young, healthy nation.”

Fascist Aesthetics

Included in the book are illustrations of art and architecture not usually associated with the pre-War Fascist and National Socialist regimes: from the soaring arch designed by Adalberto Libera for the aborted EUR ’42 exhibition in Rome (later ripped-off by Eero Saarinen for the St. Louis Gateway Arch), to the cool steel and glass structure designed by Morpugo encasing the Ara Pacis of Augustus, the 1933 blueprint for the new Reichsbank in Berlin by Gropius, or Baron Julius Evola’s painterly experimentations with Dadaism.

Goebbels is revealed as a fan of Edvard Munch and Fritz Lang, while Le Corbusier submitted plans for the new town of Pontinia in the recently-reclaimed Pontine Marshes. Fritz Todt celebrated Aryan technocratic power in his construction of autobahns and later the Atlantic Wall. Irene Guenther is quoted extolling “Nazi Chic” with fashion displaying “another countenance, one that was intensely modern, technologically advanced, supremely stylized and fashionably stylish” and the Bauhaus influence on the new, burgeoning market in consumer durables is emphasised.

Unlike previous historians of fascism with their simplistic and inflexible frameworks, Griffin admirably demonstrates that “fascism, despite the connotations of regression, reaction and flight from modernity it retains for some academics, is to be regarded as an outstanding form of political modernism,” encapsulating a “deadly serious attempt to realize an alternative logic, an alternative modernity and an alternative morality to those pursued by liberalism, socialism, or conservatism.”


Griffin is well aware of the boldness and ambition of his arguments. “Post-modern” academia is notoriously hostile to transdisciplinarity, and historians today are loath to erect grand structures of interpretation and meaning. Few historians are less fashionable than Oswald Spengler, or even Samuel “Clash of Civilizations” Huntington. Griffin is well aware of this problem, and in the introduction he specifically places Modernism and Fascism within the context of “Aufbruch” (a breaking out of conventions). For this reason Griffin’s style is reflexive: he is conscious of the fact that in proposing a new syncretic historical worldview he is in some ways mirroring the dynamics of fascism itself.

Of course, European Identitarians and New Rightists will have no problem with the concept of evolutionary synthesis (it’s no accident that one of the principal English-language New Right websites is called Synthesis [3]), nevertheless Griffin is correctly keen to show and stress that his work is non-totalizing. Overall his style is extremely lucid, and arguments that may appear at first to be mere flights of fancy are revealed as having firm foundations, unlike the convoluted, almost impenetrable, and until recently-fashionable critical theory style of, say, Andrew Hewitt’s Political Inversions: Homosexuality, Fascism and the Modernist Imaginary (1996) or the late Lacoue-Labarthe’s Heidegger, Art, and Politics (1990).

“The sky is falling on our heads”

At the end of his book, Griffin draws attention to a BBC News report from September 1998. “The sky is falling” it announces dramatically (shades of Asterix and Obelix here) “The height of the sky has dropped by 8km in the last 38 years, according to scientists from the British Antarctic Survey. Greenhouse gasses like carbon dioxide are believed to be responsible for creating the effect.” He goes on to speculate, “Had Nietzsche been philosophizing at the beginning of the twenty-first century instead of the end of the nineteenth, amidst Swiss glaciers shrivelling under skies where the abstract art of vapour trails punctures illusions of transcending Good and Evil, maybe he would have ‘rethought all his ideas’ in a different, greener ‘framework’. Instead of railing against the advent of ‘nihilism’, ‘decadence’ and ‘the last man’, he might have realized that the time for any sort of ‘eternal return’ is rapidly running out in a literal, not symbolic sense.”

In the intervening 9 years since that ominous BBC report, our carbon emissions have escalated tremendously while our climate has deteriorated further, thanks to global capitalism, free market economics, liberalism, population increase, mass migration across borders, and above all the profound weakness and myopia in confronting the issue which is inherent to liberal democracies. We need to get a grip.


[1] Not the frivolous, glamourized Sally Bowles Weimar “decadence” that the word conjures up in the minds of many gay men, but rather the very real awareness of decay; that all our greatest achievements as a civilization — the Renaissance, the Age of Discovery, the Moonshots — are behind us.

Source: http://aryanfuturism.blogspot.com/2007/08/fascism-and-meaning-of-life.html [4]

Article printed from Counter-Currents Publishing: http://www.counter-currents.com

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[2] Modernism and Fascism: The Sense of a Beginning under Mussolini and Hitler: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/140398784X/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=140398784X&linkCode=as2&tag=countercurren-20

[3] Synthesis: http://www.rosenoire.org/

[4] http://aryanfuturism.blogspot.com/2007/08/fascism-and-meaning-of-life.html: http://aryanfuturism.blogspot.com/2007/08/fascism-and-meaning-of-life.html

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jeudi, 28 mars 2013

The Beginning & the End of History


The Beginning & the End of History

By Greg Johnson

Ex: http://www.counter-currents.com/

The duel to the death over honor is a remarkable phenomenon. Animals duel over dominance, which insures their access to mates. But these duels result in death only by accident, because the whole process is governed by their survival instincts, and their “egos” do not prevent them from surrendering when the fight is hopeless. The duel to the death over honor is a distinctly human thing.

Indeed, in his Phenomenology of Spirit, Hegel claims that the duel to the death over honor is the beginning of history—and the beginning of a distinctly human form of existence and self-consciousness.

Prehistoric man is dominated by nature: the natural world around him and the natural world within him, namely his desires. History, for Hegel, is something different. It is the process of (1) our discovery of those parts of our nature that transcend mere animal desire, and (2) our creation of a society in accord with our true nature.

When we fully know ourselves as more than merely natural beings and finally live accordingly, then history will be over. (History can end, because as a process of discovery and construction, it is the kind of thing that can end.) Hegel claimed that history ended with the discovery that all men are free and the creation of a society that reflects that truth.

When two men duel to the death over honor, the external struggle between them conceals an internal struggle within each of them as they confront the possibility of being ruled by two different parts of their souls: desire, which includes the desire for self-preservation, and honor, which demands recognition of our worth by others.

When our sense of honor is offended, we become angry and seek to compel the offending party to respect us. If the other party is equally offended and intransigent, the struggle can escalate to the point where life is at stake.

At this point, two kinds of human beings distinguish themselves. Those who are ruled by their honor will sacrifice their lives to preserve it. Their motto is: “Death before dishonor.” Those who are ruled by their desires are more concerned to preserve their lives than their honor. They will sacrifice their honor to preserve their lives. Their motto is: “Dishonor before death.”

Suppose two honorable men fight to the death. One will live, one will die, but both will preserve their honor. But what if the vanquished party begs to be spared at the last moment at the price of his honor? What if his desire to survive is stronger than his sense of honor? In that case, he will become the slave of the victor.

The man who prefers death to dishonor is a natural master. The man who prefers dishonor to death—life at any price—is a natural slave. The natural master defines himself in terms of a distinctly human self-consciousness, an awareness of his transcendence over animal desire, the survival “instinct,” the whole realm of biological necessity. The natural slave, by contrast, is ruled by his animal nature and experiences his sense of honor as a danger to survival. The master uses the slave’s fear of death to compel him to work.

History thus begins with the emergence of a warrior aristocracy, a two-tiered society structured in terms of the oppositions between work and leisure, necessity and luxury, nature and culture. Slaves work so that the masters can enjoy leisure. Slaves secure the necessities of life so the masters can enjoy luxuries. Slaves conquer nature so masters can create culture. In a sense the whole realm of culture is a “luxury,” since none of it is necessitated by our animal desires. But in a higher sense, it is a necessity: a necessity of our distinctly human nature to understand itself and put its stamp upon the world.

The End of History

Hegel had the fanciful notion that there is a necessary “dialectic” between master and slave that will lead eventually lead to universal freedom, that at the end of history, the distinction between master and slave can be abolished, that all men are potential masters.

Now, to his credit, Hegel was a race realist. He was also quite realistic about the tendency of bourgeois capitalism to turn all men into spiritual slaves. Thus his view of the ideal state, which regulates economic life and reinforces the institutions that elevate human character against the corrupting influences of modernity, differs little from fascism. So in the end, Hegel’s high-flown talk about universal freedom seems unworthy of him, rather like Jefferson’s rhetorical gaffe that “all men are created equal.”

hegel12b.jpgThe true heirs to Hegel’s universalism are Marx and his followers, who really believed that the dialectic would lead to universal freedom. Alexandre Kojève, Hegel’s greatest 20th-century Marxist interpreter, came to believe that both Communism and bourgeois capitalism/liberal democracy were paths to Hegel’s vision of universal freedom. After the collapse of communism, Kojève’s pupil Francis Fukuyama declared that bourgeois capitalism and liberal democracy would create what Kojève called the “universal homogeneous state,” the global political and economic order in which all men would be free.

But both capitalism and communism are essentially materialistic systems. Yes, they made appeals to idealism, but primarily to motivate their subjects to fight for them. But if one system triumphed over the other, that necessity would no longer exist, and desire would be fully sovereign. Materialism would triumph. (And so it would have, were it not for the rise of another global enemy that is spiritual and warlike rather than materialistic: Islam.)

Thus Kojève came to believe that the universal homogeneous state would not be a society in which all men are masters, i.e., a society in which honor rules over desire. Rather, it would be a world in which all men are slaves, a society in which desire rules over honor.

This is the world of Nietzsche’s “Last Man,” the world of C. S. Lewis’s “Men without Chests” (honor is traditionally associated with the chest, just as reason is associated with the head and desire with the belly and points below). This is the postmodern world, where emancipated desire and corrosive individualism and irony have reduced all normative cultures to commodities that can be bought and sold, used and discarded.

This is the end of the path blazed by the first wave of modern philosophers: Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, David Hume, etc., all of whom envisioned a liberal order founded on the sovereignty of desire, in which reason is reduced to a technical-instrumental faculty and honor is checked or sublimated into economic competitiveness and the quest for material status symbols.

From this point of view, there is no significant difference between classical liberalism and left-liberalism. Both are based on the sovereignty of desire. Although left liberalism is more idealistic because it is dedicated to the impossible dream of overcoming natural inequality, whereas classical liberalism, always more vulgar, unimaginative, and morally complacent, is content with mere “bourgeois” legal equality.

In Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, a black gangster named Marsellus Wallace bribes a boxer named Butch Coolidge to throw a fight. Butch is a small-timer near the end of his career. If he was going to make it, he would have made it already. So he is looking to scrape up some retirement money by throwing a fight. Marsellus Wallace offers him a large sum of cash to lose in the fifth round. Wallace plans to bet on Butch’s opponent and clean up.

Butch accepts the deal, then Wallace dispenses a bit of advice: “Now, the night of the fight, you may feel a slight sting. That’s pride fuckin’ wit ya. Fuck pride! Pride only hurts, it never helps. Fight through that shit. ’Cause a year from now, when you’re kickin’ it in the Caribbean, you’re gonna say, ‘Marsellus Wallace was right.’” Butch replies, “I’ve got no problem with that, Mr. Wallace.”

The great theorists of liberalism offered mankind the same deal that Marsellus Wallace offered Butch: “Fuck pride. Think of the money.” And our ancestors took the deal. As Marsellus hands Butch the cash, he pauses to ask, “Are you my nigger?” “It certainly appears so,” Butch answers, then takes the money.

In modernity, every man is the nigger, the spiritual slave, of any man with more money than him—to the precise extent that any contrary motives, such as pride or religious/intellectual enthusiasm, have been suppressed. (Marsellus, a black man, calls all of his hirelings niggers, but surely it gives him special pleasure to deem the white ones so.)

But history can never really end as long as it is possible for men to choose to place honor above money or even life itself. And that is always possible, given that we really do seem to have the ability to choose which part of our soul is sovereign.


This is one of several pieces which I am transposing and adapting from various film reviews [2] into stand-alone articles in order to encourage broader dissemination and discussion.

Article printed from Counter-Currents Publishing: http://www.counter-currents.com

URL to article: http://www.counter-currents.com/2013/03/the-beginning-and-the-end-of-history/

URLs in this post:

[1] Image: http://www.counter-currents.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/hoplites-fighting.jpg

[2] various film reviews: http://www.counter-currents.com/2011/06/pulp-fiction-part-1/

lundi, 25 mars 2013



Méridien Zéro a reçu Sylvain Roussillon pour évoquer avec lui l'importance historique de la guerre anglo-américaine de 1812-1814 dans la fondation de la puissance des Etats-Unis.

guerre anglo-américaine, 1814, colonisation, empire anglais

Pour écouter:


dimanche, 24 mars 2013

Die Bedeutung von Friedrich Wilhelm Raiffeisen für die Genossenschaftsbewegung des 19. Jahrhunderts


«Die Einrichtung ist also echt demokratisch und zugleich echt christlich;
da regiert nicht die Geldmacht, sondern der sittliche Wert der Person.»

Die Bedeutung von Friedrich Wilhelm Raiffeisen für die Genossenschaftsbewegung des 19. Jahrhunderts

von Dr. phil. René Roca, Historiker

Ex: http://www.zeit-fragen.ch/

In Deutschland war im 19. Jahrhundert sowohl der Ansatz von Schulze-Delitzsch als auch die «Idee Raiffeisen» für eine breit abgestützte Genossenschaftsbewegung verantwortlich. In der Schweiz sind ähnliche Abläufe festzustellen. Es brauchte immer die Verbindung von traditionsbewussten, konservativen Strömungen mit neuen zeitgemässen Ideen. Nur so liess sich die breite Bevölkerung – in Stadt und Land – von den genossenschaftlichen Werthaltungen überzeugen, und sie schöpfte Vertrauen in neue Institutionen.
Man stelle sich vor, wenn das genossenschaftliche Fundament des 19. Jahrhunderts, das in vielen Nationalstaaten Erfolg hatte, bis ins 20. Jahrhundert hinein noch kräftiger gewirkt hätte und wenn nicht andere menschenverachtende, imperialistische und totalitäre Ideologien die Oberhand gewonnen hätten. Ein 20. Jahrhundert, ein Europa ohne die beiden Weltkriege, sähe heute anders aus. Wir haben aber viel in der Hand. Wir müssen das Genossenschaftsprinzip wieder stärker in der Wirtschaft verankern. Auf diese Weise können die Menschen aus der Geschichte lernen und eine «Wirtschaft zum Wohle aller» einrichten.

Die «Idee Raiffeisen»

Friedrich Wilhelm Raiffeisen (1818–1888) erkannte als volksverbundener Bürgermeister im deutschen Rheinland die Nöte der dortigen Landwirtschaft und des Kleingewerbes. Die Bauern und Handwerker benötigten günstige Betriebskredite. So gründete Raiffeisen 1864 die erste ländliche Spar- und Darlehenskasse (später Raiffeisenkasse) auf genossenschaftlicher Basis. Dabei bildeten die Selbsthilfe, das Solidaritätsprinzip und die demokratische Struktur das grundlegende Fundament. Die relativ leicht umsetzbare Idee schuf bald das nötige Vertrauen bei der ländlichen Bevölkerung. Wer Mitglied der Genossenschaft werden wollte, zeichnete einen Geschäftsanteil und bezahlte darauf eine beschränkte Summe als Grundkapital ein. Darüber hinaus erklärten sich die Genossenschafter bereit, mit ihrem Hab und Gut für die Sache der Genossenschaft zu haften. Diese solidarische Haftbarkeit steigerte die Kreditwürdigkeit gegenüber Dritten, so dass die Genossenschaft zu günstigen Konditionen Geld beschaffen oder Waren einkaufen konnte. Im Gegenzug konnten die Mitglieder vorteilhafte Betriebskredite aufnehmen, sofern sie genügend Sicherheiten beibrachten. Sie profitierten auch von grosszügigen Zinsen auf ihren Sparguthaben und von verbilligten Waren. Erwirtschaftete die Genossenschaft Gewinne, wurde damit das Grundkapital der Mitglieder verzinst, der Rest des Geldes floss in einen unteilbaren Reservefonds. Jeder Genossenschafter hatte gleichberechtigt eine Stimme an der Generalversammlung, egal wie viele Anteilscheine er besass. So entstand eine eigene Kultur des Sparens und Investierens, die den wirtschaftlichen Bedürfnissen, den Traditionen und den Wertvorstellungen der Menschen entsprach. In den nächsten Jahrzehnten entstanden in unserem nördlichen Nachbarland Hunderte solcher Kassen.

Idee hat auch in der Schweiz Erfolg

Der thurgauische katholische Pfarrer Johann Traber wurde zum Vater der Raiffeisen-Bewegung in der Schweiz. Vor seinem Studium hatte Pfarrer Traber ein Handwerk gelernt und war als Handwerksbursche durch die deutschen Lande gezogen. Er hatte dabei die Not der Bauern und Handwerker selber gesehen und erlebt, aber auch die heilsame Wirkung der Raiffeisenkassen erkannt. Traber sah in jeder Raiffeisenkasse eine kleine «Schule für soziale Erziehung» und betonte die stark gemeinschaftsbildende Wirkung: «Die Einrichtung ist also echt demokratisch und zugleich echt christlich; da regiert nicht die Geldmacht, sondern der sittliche Wert der Person.»1 Traber gründete 1899 die erste schweizerische Raiff­eisenkasse in seiner Pfarrgemeinde Bichelsee. Bichelsee wird deshalb das «Rütli» der Raiff­eisen-Bewegung in der Schweiz genannt.
Traber beschrieb die Bedeutung der Raiff­eisenkassen so: «Was sind denn die Raiff­eisenkassen? Es sind Darlehenskassen, die auf Uneigennützigkeit und opferwillige Nächstenliebe gegründet sind und zum Zweck haben, den Bauernstand, Handwerkerstand, Kleinhandel- und Gewerbestand moralisch und ökonomisch zu heben und die wirtschaftlich Schwachen zu stärken.»2
Die Genossenschaftsidee liess sich ausgezeichnet mit den schweizerischen politischen Grundsätzen der direkten Demokratie und des Föderalismus verbinden. Gerade die stark ausgebaute Gemeindeautonomie garantierte den Raiffeisenkassen in der Schweiz Erfolg und Zukunft. Bereits 1902 erfolgte die Gründung des schweizerischen Raiffeisenverbandes.

Ein Beispiel aus dem Kanton Aargau – Katholischer Männer- und Arbeiterverein als Ausgangspunkt

 Die Idee breitete sich schnell in der Ostschweiz und dann auch in weiteren Kantonen aus, so auch im Kanton Aargau. Am Rohrdorferberg im Reusstal hatten Landwirte und Gewerbetreibende die gleichen Probleme wie andernorts. Die Pfarrei Rohrdorf ergriff deshalb die Initiative. Für die Pfarrei wurde der 1900 gegründete Katholische Männer- und Arbeiterverein ausschlaggebend. Dieser Verein setzte sich neben der Förderung des religiösen Lebens das Ziel, das Wirtschaftsleben zu verbessern. Pfarrer Johann Traber besuchte den Rohrdorferberg und hielt am 3. Dezember 1905 ein Referat vor dem Verein. Anschliessend erklärten sich 41 Männer sofort schriftlich bereit, eine Raiffeisenkasse am Rohrdorferberg zu gründen. Zum Geschäftskreis zählten die Gemeinden der damaligen katholischen Kirchgemeinde Rohrdorf, nämlich Niederrohrdorf, Oberrohrdorf-Staretschwil, Remetschwil und Bellikon. Dekan Burkhard Senn, der später zum ersten Aufsichtsratspräsidenten gewählt wurde, unterstützte die Gründung tatkräftig. Schon am 8. Dezember 1905 fand die konstituierende Versammlung statt: Man wählte einen Vorstand, den Aufsichtsrat und einen Kassier.
Bescheidene Anfänge
Als Kassenlokal diente anfangs jeweils die eigene Wohnung des Kassiers. Die genossenschaftlich organisierte Bank entwickelte sich in den folgenden Jahrzehnten zwar langsam, aber stetig. Zuerst rekrutierten sich die Mitglieder vor allem aus dem Bauernstand, dann aus allen Berufsständen. Dank der bescheidenen Unkosten und der bedeutenden Reserven war die Raiffeisenkasse in der Lage, nicht nur vorteilhafte Zinsen dem Sparer zu vergüten, sondern auch günstigere, kommissionsfreie Zinsen von Schuldnern zu fordern, als dies sonst üblich war. Auf dieser Grundlage entwickelte sich die genossenschaftlich organisierte Raiffeisenkasse immer besser und wurde zu einem sicheren Wert in der Region.
Die Raiffeisen-Idee überzeugte mit klaren ethischen Grundsätzen: Etwa, dass in den Statuten die konfessionelle Neutralität verankert oder das Spekulationsgeschäft geächtet wurde. Dies wirkte zweifellos vertrauensbildend. Die Verfechter dieser Idee schlugen damit einen «dritten Weg» ein. Sie grenzten sich sowohl von liberalen als auch von sozialistischen Wirtschaftsmodellen ab und kritisierten sowohl die «staatsgläubigen Zentralisten» als auch die «Börsenspekulanten» und «Dividendenjäger». Damit gab die Raiff­eisen-Idee auch eine konkrete, am Menschen orientierte Antwort auf die soziale Frage im Zuge der europäischen Industrialisierung.

Genossenschaftsbewegung im 19. Jahrhundert – die Genossenschaft als moralisches Fundament der Demokratie

Aufbauend auf den schweizerischen Traditionen der Allmende und der Genossenschaften, die ihre Wurzeln im Spätmittelalter besitzen, bildete sich im Laufe des 19. Jahrhunderts, vor allem mit der zunehmenden Industrialisierung, eine breite Genossenschaftsbewegung. Auf diese Weise gelang eine Verbindung von konservativen politischen Kräften und frühsozialistischen, dezentralen Ansätzen. Dieses fruchtbare Zusammengehen beinhaltete entscheidende ethische Grundsätze: Auf der Basis eines personalen Menschenbildes vermochte besonders die katholische Soziallehre mit ihren Postulaten einer freien, solidarischen und gerechten Gesellschaft viele Menschen anzusprechen. Für die Schweiz war das Genossenschaftsprinzip hinsichtlich der Entwicklung der direkten Demokratie schlichtweg zentral. Ausgehend von der Gemeindeebene über die Kantone bis zur Bundesebene gelang so die Bildung einer parteiübergreifenden Volksbewegung, welche die nötigen politischen und sozialen Reformen immer wieder einforderte.
Eine solche Entwicklung lässt sich auch in Deutschland feststellen, wo die Idee Raiff­eisens zusammen mit dem Ansatz von Hermann Schulze-Delitzsch für das nötige Fundament sorgte, um eine kraftvolle Genossenschaftsbewegung zu bilden – gestern wie heute.    •

1 Traber, Johann: Raiffeisenkassen, Raiffeisenverband und Zentralkasse in der Schweiz, Frauenfeld 1912, S. 17.
2 Traber, Johann: Kurze Aufklärung über Raiffeisensche Darlehenskassenvereine im Lichte eines praktischen Beispiels, St. Gallen 1907, S. 3.

Du nouveau à l’Est


Matthias HELLNER:

Du nouveau à l’Est


Le 3 mars 1918, les puissances centrales signent avec la nouvelle Russie soviétique un traité de paix à Brest-Litovsk


Après la révolution de février 1917 en Russie, la situation change sur le front de l’Est. Avant ce bouleversement politique, on se demandait si l’armée russe était encore capable de lancer une offensive; désormais, on sait qu’elle va tout bonnement se liquéfier. Les nouveaux détenteurs du pouvoir essaient toutefois de maintenir cette armée en état de combattre, rien que pour respecter les engagements qu’impliquait leur alliance avec les autres puissances de l’Entente. Mais le peuple et les soldats russes en avaient assez de la guerre. L’offensive lancée par Kérensky durant l’été s’était rapidement enlisée et les troupes pliaient sous le choc de la contre-offensive allemande. Près de deux millions de soldats russes abandonnèrent alors leurs unités et désertèrent. A partir de septembre, sur tout le front de l’Est, les combats cessèrent, comme déjà en mars et en avril de la même année. Immédiatement après que les bolcheviques eurent commis leur putsch d’octobre 1917, ils entamèrent des tractations pour obtenir la paix.


Le 8 novembre, le “Deuxième Congrès panrusse des ouvriers et soldats” accepte les propositions de paix suggérées par le nouveau gouvernement révolutionnaire. Toutes les machinations entreprises par le gouvernement du Reich allemand pour révolutionner la Russie avaient abouti. Les plans, qui voulaient que l’on transformât tout de suite les pourparlers à l’Est en négociations de paix, furent considérés avec grand scepticisme par le haut commandement allemand qui préféra entamer d’abord des négociations en vue d’un armistice pour ensuite commencer à négocier une paix définitive. On décida d’abord de mener les pourparlers à proximité du front. Au début du mois de décembre 1917, les négociations en vue d’un armistice se déroulèrent à Brest-Litovsk. Elle se terminent le 13 décembre. Les négociateurs allemands et russes s’étaient mis d’accord, dans un premier temps, de suspendre les hostilités jusqu’au 14 janvier 1918, suspension qui pouvait se prolonger automatiquement sauf si l’on faisait usage d’une clause prévoyant un délai de renonciation de sept jours.


Dans la phase initiale des négociations, la Russie et les puissances centrales agissaient encore sur pied d’égalité. L’Autriche-Hongrie voulait à tout prix signer la paix avec la Russie, sans poser de conditions, mais le Reich allemand, lui, songeait à l’annexion de la Courlande et de la Lituanie. Les Soviétiques, pour leur part, surtout Trotsky, tentaient de faire traîner en longueur les négociations; ils tenaient, dans cette optique, de longs discours propagandistes et espéraient ainsi déclencher d’autres révolutions partout en Europe.


Lorsque, le 9 février 1918, les puissances centrales signent une paix séparée avec l’Ukraine, les négociations s’interrompent. Les bolcheviques exhortèrent alors les soldats allemands à tuer leur empereur et leurs généraux. Trotsky déclare alors ne pas vouloir signer une paix qui impliquerait l’annexion de territoires ayant appartenu à l’empire russe. Mais, simultanément, il déclare que la guerre contre l’Allemagne, l’Autriche-Hongrie, la Bulgarie et la Turquie est terminée. Le 18 février 1918, les armées allemandes de l’Est, qui avaient déjà envoyé des divisions à l’Ouest contre les Franco-Britanniques, amorcent leur grande marche en avant, que l’on peut qualifier de “marche en avant par chemin de fer”, vu la disparition des armées russes. Les Allemands occupent alors toute la Lettonie et toute l’Estonie. Lénine reconnait aussitôt le danger que constitue, pour la révolution bolchevique, une pénétration plus profonde des armées “centrales” dans l’intérieur des terres russes et suggère d’accepter les propositions allemandes, y compris l’abandon de l’Estonie et de la Lettonie. Il met sa propre personne dans la balance: si les bolcheviques n’acceptent pas cette suggestion, Lénine démissionera de tous ses mandats.




Le 25 février 1918, le dernier volet des négociations commence: le Reich dicte littéralement la paix, sa paix, aux Soviets: la Russie bolchevique doit signer avant le 3 mars le traité et accepter les conditions voulues par les Allemands. La Russie perd alors bon nombre de terres non russes, comme la Finlande et les Pays Baltes, la Pologne et Batoum sur la Mer Noire. On a souvent comparé la paix signée à Brest-Litovsk au Diktat de Versailles. Plus tard, Lénine posera son jugement sur l’aberration qu’il y a à procéder à une telle comparaison: “Vous savez bien que les impérialistes alliés —la France, l’Angleterre, l’Amérique et le Japon— ont imposé le Traité de Versailles après avoir détruit l’Allemagne, mais ce traité est bien plus brutal dans ses effets que le fameux traité de Brest-Litovsk, qui a fait pousser tant de cris d’orfraie”.


Matthias HELLNER.

(article paru dans “zur Zeit”, Vienne, N°10/2013; http://www;zurzeit.at/ ).


vendredi, 15 mars 2013

Codreanu sur Méridien Zéro



Ce dimanche, Méridien Zéro reçoit Sylvain Roussillon pour évoquer avec lui la figure de Corneliu Zelea Codreanu, chef de la Garde de Fer, mouvement légionnaire roumain des années 20-30.

A la barre, PGL assisté de Wilsdorf.

Lord Tesla à la technique.

corneliu zelea codreanu, garde de fer, roumanie, legionnaire,


What's Wrong with Democracy? From Athenian Practice to American Worship



Loren J. Samons II:
What's Wrong with Democracy?
From Athenian Practice to
American Worship.*
University of California Press, Berkeley/Los Angeles/London, 2004, 307 pp.

por Erwin Robertson

Ex: http://erwinrobertson.blogspot.com/

L. J. Samons II es especialista en Grecia clásica, autor de obras como Empire of the Owl: Athenian Imperial Finance (Stuttgart, 2000) y Athenian Democracy and Imperialism (Boston, 1998). En What's Wrong with Democracy? (“¿Qué hay de malo con la democracia?”) analiza críticamente la práctica política ateniense en los ss. V y IV, con la mirada puesta en la democracia norteamericana de hoy. Uno de esos casos, pues, en que el estudio del pasado se vuelve juicio sobre el presente... y a la inversa.

Los puntos de vista del autor son heterodoxos, por decirlo suavemente: cuestiona la “fe” en la democracia, el “culto” (american worship) rendido a un sistema de gobierno cuyas virtudes se dan por aceptadas sin que medie demostración racional. LJS cree que las (buenas) cualidades que tradicionalmente se asocian con la democracia vienen de la existencia de un cuerpo ciudadano con derechos y deberes, y del gobierno de la ley, cosas que pueden ser separadas de la democracia per se. Cree más: que los valores democráticos propiamente tales (que se puede resumir en el igualitarismo y la noción de que la voluntad popular, expresada a través del voto, es moralmente buena), que han llegado a ser los principios morales y sociales fundamentales de la sociedad norteamericana, ahora amenazan la forma constitucional representativa de su gobierno.

Los Fundadores de la constitución norteamericana (James Madison, por ej.) desconfiaban de la democracia “pura”, tal como se practicó en la Atenas clásica. Sólo en el curso del s. XX los norteamericanos llegaron a identificar a su gobierno como una “democracia” –señala LJS-, a la vez que se imponía la creencia de que era el mejor régimen posible; pero ello fue justo en el momento en que la palabra perdía mucho de su significado originario. Atenas, en un tiempo un modelo, ahora suele estar bajo crítica, no porque fuera demasiado democrática (como pensaban los Fundadores), sino porque no realizó suficientemente los ideales democráticos. Así y todo, porque era (en todo o parte) democrática, Atenas antigua se beneficia del prejuicio moderno favorable a la democracia. ¿Y si los aspectos más problemáticos fuesen justamente los democráticos? Es característico el tratamiento de la muerte de Sócrates, aduce LJS; como un accidente o una anomalía que no autoriza un juicio sobre el régimen político que lo condenó: ¡casi como si Sócrates hubiera cometido suicidio!

Se trata entonces de examinar la historia ateniense, tal como fue, a fin de ver si de ella se puede extraer lecciones para la política y la sociedad modernas. Por lo tanto, un primer capítulo de la obra proporcionará información general sobre el tema; sucesivos capítulos pasarán revista a otros tantos aspectos de la demokratía ateniense. “Democracia y demagogos: Elección, votación y calificaciones para la ciudadanía” es el título del capítulo 2. Al contrario de lo que se estima en las democracias modernas, LJS recuerda que el voto no era un procedimiento definitorio de la democracia (la regla democrática era el sorteo, como advertía Aristóteles) . Sin embargo, cargos importantes, como el de strategós, eran elegidos por votación. Característicos de la democracia ateniense fueron asimismo la ausencia de calificaciones de propiedad para la ciudadanía y el hecho de que los ciudadanos más pobres recibieran, en distinta forma, pagos del tesoro público. No obstante, la noción de ciudadanía en Atenas difería de la de los modernos regímenes democráticos, donde se asocia primeramente con derechos y privilegios, más que con las calificaciones que requiere o los deberes que implica. Además, muchas de las garantías que comporta se consideran “derechos humanos” (comillas de LJS), que no dependen –se dice- o no deberían depender de la forma particular de régimen o de la distinción entre ciudadanos y extranjeros. Por el contrario, en la democracia ateniense la ciudadanía significaba serias obligaciones, incluso ciertos patrones de conducta privada, recuerda el autor.

El capítulo sobre las finanzas públicas (“the People's Purse”) subraya el carácter excepcional de Atenas entre las ciudades griegas: en primer lugar, por su riqueza en mineral de plata y por la flota de guerra que ella permitió. Con el imperio y el tributo de los “aliados”, en el s. V, pudo manejar recursos financieros sin comparación en Grecia antigua. Fue igualmente inusitado que el ateniense común, al que no se pedían requisitos de propiedad para votar en la asamblea, comenzara a decidir entonces sobre materias financieras. LJS señala el empleo abusivo de esos recursos (así lo era a ojos de todos los demás griegos) en pagos a los propios ciudadanos y en un extraordinario programa de obras públicas. Cuando se agotaron las reservas, como durante la Guerra del Peloponeso, o cuando dejaron de existir las rentas imperiales, como en el s. IV, Atenas debió gravar a sus ciudadanos ricos. Es agudísima la observación de que, con todo, a la hora de gastar, los atenienses giraban sobre sus propias reservas; la deuda pública moderna consiste en traspasar la deuda de una generación a otra.

La política exterior del s. V está tratada en dos capítulos. Evidentemente, los temas son la construcción del imperio, las circunstancias que llevaron a la gran guerra inter-helénica que fue la Guerra del Peloponeso, y las de la guerra misma. Un interesante excursus aborda el problema de la causalidad histórica, a propósito de la Guerra del Peloponeso. Para el s. IV (tema del capítulo que sigue), el problema es el de la “Defensa Nacional”, no ya el de una política imperial. De una Atenas agresiva, se pasa a una Atenas a la defensiva que terminará por sucumbir ante Filipo de Macedonia. Con todo, el triunfo de Macedonia no era inevitable, como no había sido inevitable el triunfo de los persas –con fuerzas mucho mayores- siglo y medio antes.

En “Democracia y Religión”, último capítulo, LJS recuerda que la sociedad ateniense era una integral society, sin la separación entre las esferas política, religiosa y económica, propia de las sociedades modernas. En Atenas, lo puramente “político”, en el sentido limitado moderno –lo relativo al gobierno, a las elecciones y a las opiniones al respecto- era sólo una pequeña parte del conjunto social. Sin duda, las actividades militares y religiosas disfrutaban de una participación pública mucho más elevada que la votación en las asambleas. Más que de demokratía o de los ideales de “libertad e igualdad” –comillas de LJS-, los principios unificantes del cuerpo ciudadano ateniense provenían de las creencias comunes acerca de los dioses, de un sentimiento de superioridad nacional y de la conciencia de la importancia de cumplir los deberes hacia los dioses, la familia y la polis.

Ahora bien, la tesis central de LJS es que, mientras que los logros por los que se admira a Atenas –el arte, la tragedia, la filosofía- no tenían que ver con la democracia, fue el carácter democrático del régimen lo que estimuló los aspectos más negativos. Si el pueblo decidía sobre la distribución de fondos públicos a sí mismo, eso tenía que alentar el desarrollo de los demagogos: era fácil para un político asegurar la propia elección o el éxito de las propias iniciativas mediante la proposición de repartir más dinero público a una porción suficientemente amplia de los ciudadanos. Es cierto que Pericles (como muestra Tucídides) fue capaz de “conducir al pueblo más que ser conducido por él”, y de persuadirlo a tomar decisiones impopulares, pero correctas desde el punto de vista del dirigente (que era el de la grandeza imperial de Atenas). Capaz también de enfrentar a ese pueblo, corriendo el riesgo de destitución, multas, ostracismo y hasta de la pena capital; muy a la inversa del “timid modern statesman, afraid even to suggest that 'the American people' might be misguided”. LJS penetra en el mecanismo psicológico del voto y cree poder establecer que el ciudadano medio, en el momento de elegir, no preferirá a los candidatos que se vean muy superiores a él o que le digan lo que no quiere escuchar. Es lo que parece haber ocurrido después de la muerte de Pericles. En el s. IV, Demóstenes se verá en apuros para convencer a los atenienses a destinar los recursos (entonces escasos) a las necesidades de la defensa antes que al subsidio del teatro. El autor repara también en la perversión que, a su juicio, constituye la reverencia por el acto mismo de votar, antes que por el sentido de la decisión –el “proceso” es más importante que el “producto”-, con la conclusión práctica: “any immoral or unwise act –whether it is executing a great philosopher or killing civilians while making undeclared war on Serbia or Iraq- can be defended on the grounds that it reflects the results of the democratic process”.

Tempranamente (s. VI), Atenas mostró ambiciones imperiales; y si suele hacerse una lectura humanista y liberal del Discurso Fúnebre de Pericles, el autor muestra que su tono es “militaristic, collectivist..., nationalistic". La democracia sólo exacerbó esta política. Los atenienses fueron plenamente conscientes de que la guerra y del imperio generaban ingresos que los beneficiaban directamente, lo que estimuló los aspectos más agresivos e imperialistas de la política exterior. Es claro que el pueblo aprobó todas las empresas que implicaban someter, expulsar de su territorio o exterminar a otros griegos. Si la democracia no fue la causa de la Guerra del Peloponeso, lo menos que se puede decir –en opinión de LJS- es que no hizo nada por poner fin a la guerra. Con todo, los atenienses en el s. V por lo menos arriesgaban sus vidas, en el ejército y en la flota. Mas en el s. IV estaban menos dispuestos a sacrificios para fortalecer y proteger el Estado y llegaron a pensar que tenían derecho a recibir pagos, existiera el imperio que proveía de rentas o no, y estuvieran o no cubiertas las necesidades de la seguridad nacional. El dêmos desalentaba a los individuos ricos y capaces de entrar al servicio del Estado; es shocking la frecuencia con que los generales eran juzgados y multados o condenados a muerte. Cuando llegó la hora de enfrentar el creciente poder de Filipo de Macedonia, los atenienses nunca quisieron sacrificar la paga por la asistencia a la asamblea y el subsidio del teatro para sufragar los gastos militares necesarios. Prefirieron escuchar a los oradores que les tranquilizaban con la perspectiva de la paz, antes de decidirse a una política exterior que protegiera a sus aliados –mientras los tuvieron.

Llegados a este punto, puede uno preguntarse que puede inferirse del funcionamiento de la democracia ateniense para la democracia moderna. LJS se detiene en un aspecto. A diferencia de la democracia antigua, que reposaba sobre un conjunto de sólidos valores comunes, independientes de la misma democracia, la moderna (en particular, la norteamericana, para el autor) ha debilitado esos valores, o prescindido de ellos. La democracia ha sido elevada al nivel de creencia religiosa (the American religion). Los nuevos valores moralmente aceptados e indiscutibles son freedom (para cualquier cosa que uno desee), choice (respecto de lo que sea) y diversity (en cualquier plano). Estas palabras resuenan en los corazones de los ciudadanos del modo como antes resonaban “God, family, and country”. Mientras parece perfectamente aceptable en algunos círculos reprender a alguien por sostener opiniones políticamente “incorrectas”, el hecho de hacer ver a otra persona que sus actos son moralmente equivocados y socialmente inaceptables, es en sí mismo considerado grosero, si no inmoral. Pero ninguna sociedad con valores reales (es decir, no los valores vacíos de libertad, elección y diversidad, advierte LJS) puede subsistir bajo reglas que impiden la reafirmación de esos valores mediante la desaprobación pública y privada de los individuos que los violan.

Como conclusión, el autor compara las figuras de Pericles y Sócrates. No enteramente homologables, desde luego: Pericles era principalmente político (“statist”, dice LJS) y ponía el servicio del ciudadano al Estado por sobre otras cualidades; su declarado objetivo era la grandeza de su patria. Sócrates, principalmente “moral”: para él, no era el poder del Estado el fin que debía perseguir el individuo, sino el mejoramiento de la propia alma. Mas tanto el uno como el otro arriesgaron sus propias vidas al servicio de su patria, su piedad religiosa (demostrada en el culto público) estaba conforme a lo que pensaban sus conciudadanos, subordinaron la ganancia personal a sus ideas sobre justicia o servicio público y fueron, cada uno a su modo, líderes dispuestos a correr grandes riegos por decir lo que juzgaban era necesario decir. No fueron totalmente exitosos: “Both might have been surprised to learn that we have taken the Athenian political system, stripped away its historical and social context, and raised it from a simple form of government to the one remaining Form of virtue”.

Las tesis de What's Wrong with Democracy resuenan inusuales y hasta provocativas, no sólo en Estados Unidos. Aquí nos interesan particularmente en lo que tienen que ver con la historia griega antigua. En este sentido, la obra de LJS es un completo y muy documentado resumen sobre la historia política de la época clásica, recogiendo la discusión historiográfica relevante del último tiempo. Algunas observaciones podemos permitirnos a este respecto. Ciertamente, la democracia ateniense no era nada pacifista, ni humanitaria ni especialmente tolerante; pero tampoco lo era Esparta, cuyo régimen político es habitualmente considerado oligárquico (podemos aceptar que los espartanos, por razones que ellos bien sabían, no estaban tan dispuestos a ir a la guerra como los atenienses). Los “crímenes de guerra” –para emplear la terminología moderna- abundaron por lado y lado durante la Guerra del Peloponeso –como en toda guerra, sin duda. La democracia ateniense, no por confiar el gobierno a una muchedumbre no calificada, fue particularmente ineficiente; por el contrario, manejaron sus finanzas bastante bien (aunque seguramente la Guerra del Peloponeso tuvo un costo mayor del previsto por Pericles) y su política exterior no dejó mucho que desear, al menos en el s. V (Tucídides contrasta la eficacia ateniense con la lentitud espartana). La paga por las funciones públicas, vista como una forma de corrupción por algunas de nuestras fuentes –y LJS parece compartir la opinión-, era necesaria, si se quería que el régimen fuera efectivamente democrático (Aristóteles señalaba las condiciones para ello) y, además, imperial (la flota era maniobrada en gran parte por los propios ciudadanos). El autor, por fin, adopta el punto de vista habitual en gran parte de la historiografía de los ss. XIX y XX sobre la decadencia de Atenas en el s. IV, un punto de vista que ya ha sido contrastado (nosotros mismos nos hemos referido al tópico en “La decadencia de la Polis en el siglo IV AC: ¿'mito' o realidad?”, Revista de Humanidades, U. Andrés Bello, Santiago, vol. 13, 2006, pp. 135-149).

Como quiera que juzguemos las opiniones políticas del autor, las cuestiones que plantea no son irrelevantes. Sin duda se puede sacar lecciones prácticas del funcionamiento del sistema político ateniense; de fondo, empero, es la pregunta de si ha existido una sociedad que no se funde en un mínimo de valores estables compartidos –no sólo “procedimentales”. Atenas puede ofrecer respuestas a estas preguntas. Como siempre, el mundo clásico tiene algo que decir a las inquietudes del hombre contemporáneo.

*Publicado en revista Limes N° 21, Santiago, 2009, pp. 174-178.

De Lépante à Vienne

De Lépante à Vienne

par Claudio Finzi

Ex: http://www.catholica.presse.fr/

hussard-ailc3a9-polonais.jpgLe 7 octobre 1571, à Lépante, la flotte chrétienne défait la flotte du sultan turc et musulman de Constantinople. Le 12 septembre 1683, près de Vienne, l’armée chrétienne inflige une lourde défaite et contraint à la retraite l’armée turque et musulmane, qui faisait le siège de la capitale impériale. Ces deux dates sont fondamentales pour l’histoire de l’Europe et de la chrétienté, quelle que soit l’orientation que l’on veuille donner à leur analyse, qu’il s’agisse de les traiter avec le plus grand enthousiasme, comme on le faisait à une certaine époque, ou de s’attacher à ne pas leur accorder une importance excessive, comme on le fait souvent maintenant.
Ces deux batailles ont marqué la mentalité et l’opinion publique européennes. Pour s’en rendre compte, il suffit de voir combien de poèmes ont été écrits sur ces batailles dans la période qui les a immédiatement suivies et combien de chansons populaires, dans le même temps, sont nées spontanément sur les lèvres des hommes. La victoire de Vienne eut des conséquences toutes particulières. Non seulement le 12 septembre devint à partir de ce moment-là la fête du Saint Nom de Marie, non seulement les célébrations durèrent longtemps, mais la nouvelle de la victoire, rapidement diffusée, surtout à partir de Venise, eut des conséquences durables sur l’art, la littérature, les traditions populaires, la liturgie, la manière de considérer l’ennemi turc.
Deux livres ont récemment été consacrés à ces batailles par deux historiens italiens : Alessandro Barbero pour Lépante1 [1] , Franco Cardini pour Vienne2 [2] . Ces deux ouvrages sont complémentaires comme le sont les deux batailles, opposant les deux fronts sur lesquels Européens et Turcs se sont opposés au cours des siècles.
Le premier de ces fronts est la Méditerranée, où l’essentiel de la lutte a été soutenue par Venise. Le second est la région du Danube et des Balkans, où l’engagement principal fut celui de l’Autriche. Sur les théâtres de guerre furent également présents l’Espagne et différents royaumes et territoires espagnols (sur le front méditerranéen), la Hongrie et la Pologne (sur le front continental), la papauté étant elle-même très impliquée. De l’autre côté, les Turcs purent compter quasiment tout le temps sur l’aide, organisée ou spontanée, des puissances barbaresques de l’Afrique du Nord occidentale. La position du royaume de France, quant à elle fut différente suivant les moments et spécifique, même si elle resta presque toujours bienveillante à l’égard des Turcs, jusqu’à être officiellement leurs alliés, si bien que le titre de « roi très chrétien » fut transformé ironiquement et dans un contexte polémique en « turc très chrétien »3 [3] . Sur le front oriental se trouvait le royaume de Perse, ennemi des Turcs, avec lequel les Etats chrétiens parvinrent à certains moments à établir des alliances. Voilà comment était organisé le théâtre « global » des affrontements. Les Turcs n’ont toutefois jamais vraiment été en mesure de combattre simultanément sur les deux fronts, méditerranéen et danubo-balkanique.
Malgré la présence des guerres et des manifestations d’hostilité, les échanges et les relations entre les deux blocs étaient permanents et intenses. On faisait du commerce, on voyageait, on étudiait, on échangeait des ambassades. Des hommes et des femmes passaient « de l’autre côté » : plus nombreux étaient cependant ceux qui se convertissaient à l’islam que l’inverse. Et ces mêmes renégats – comme on a toujours eu l’habitude de nommer ces chrétiens passés à l’islam – jouaient un rôle important de liaison entre les parties. Particulièrement importants furent les liens entretenus du fait des femmes chrétiennes rejoignant le sérail d’Istamboul, qu’elles soient restées chrétiennes ou qu’elles se soient, avec plus ou moins de sincérité, converties à l’islam, parce que ces femmes étaient en contact étroit avec le sultan, souvent avec une position importante comme favorites ou même comme mères du sultan régnant4 [4] .
Bien que complémentaires, les deux ouvrages sont différents dans leur contenu et leur structuration. Le premier, celui d’Alessandro Barbero, est totalement centré sur la bataille de Lépante de 1571, sur ce qui la précède et sur ses conséquences. Il rappelle un autre très beau livre, consacré lui aussi à une bataille navale qui, en 1905, a été décisive pour la guerre russo-japonaise : Tsushima. Il romanzo di una guerra navale, de Frank Thiess, consacré quasiment exclusivement à l’affrontement final entre les deux flottes russe et japonaise, tandis que la bataille terrestre entre les deux armées, même si elle fait l’objet d’une analyse précise, ne fait office que d’introduction et d’arrière-plan à l’événement principal qui détermine de lui-même la fin du conflit et sa solution5 [5] . Dans l’ouvrage de F. Thiess, ce qui est particulièrement remarquable, c’est le récit de la longue navigation de la flotte russe vers les eaux extrême-orientales, en contournant l’Afrique, avec des problèmes de ravitaillement et de soins, et qui a fait la moitié du chemin alors que l’affrontement naval semble devenu inutile. Mais on combat quand même. Il en va de même à Lépante puisque Chypre est déjà tombée aux mains des Turcs. Mais la bataille sur mer est gagnée par les chrétiens, avec toutes les conséquences positives que cela va avoir.
Alessandro Barbero présente la bataille de Lépante dans son contexte historique et diplomatique, en portant une grande attention aux problèmes techniques rencontrés par les deux flottes, étroitement liés aux conditions des Etats parties au conflit. On n’improvise pas une flotte. On ne parvient à rien si l’on n’a pas un bon bagage de connaissances précises et une organisation complète. Les navires doivent être construits et équipés, dotés d’un équipage adapté composé soit de marins et de rameurs, soit de soldats, même si les deux catégories participaient aux combats. Ils doivent être armés.
Pour les bateaux, il n’est pas seulement nécessaire d’avoir du bois de bonne qualité et abondant, ce dont les Turcs disposent tandis que l’Espagne en manque. Mais il faut aussi avoir des établissements équipés pour la construction, les arsenaux. La meilleure des places, dans le domaine, qu’il s’agisse de l’organisation, de la qualité des travaux, de l’habileté des techniciens et des ouvriers, est celle de Venise, qui avait déjà attiré l’attention de Dante Alighieri, qui l’évoque dans sa Divine comédie. Celle de Constantinople a moins bonne réputation. En ce qui concerne les marins et les rameurs, les différences entre les Etats sont également importantes. L’Empire turc est grand, mais peu peuplé, il a donc du mal à recruter des rameurs, qui sont souvent de mauvaise qualité, parce que ce sont des paysans qui n’ont aucune expérience de la mer. L’Espagne est également en difficulté sur ce point. La situation de Venise est bien meilleure puisqu’elle dispose des formidables rameurs dalmates, hommes libres nés et vivant sur la mer et avec la mer. A leurs côtés se trouvent, outre les hommes libres, des condamnés et des esclaves.


Le problème des épidémies dans les équipages est toujours extrêmement grave. Elles frappent tout le monde, avec quelques nuances d’intensité, mais avec une fréquence particulièrement grande. Il n’existe quasiment pas de campagne navale qui ne se traduise par un tribut important versé à la mort par maladie. De plus, au-delà du fait que les connaissances médicales étaient moins importantes à l’époque qu’aujourd’hui, la forte concentration de population sur les bateaux de l’époque contribuait pour une part notable à la contamination. De cette sorte, le problème du recrutement des rameurs restait extrêmement présent à tout moment et pour toute la flotte.
En ce qui concerne les armes, A. Barbero souligne la capacité de feu des navires vénitiens, remplis de canons de différents calibres et dotés d’équipages bien fournis en arquebuses. Un nouveau type de navire, la galeazza, très lent, mais de grande dimension, destiné avant tout à porter l’artillerie de grand calibre, complétait l’avance que détenait la flotte de Venise. Rien de tel dans la flotte turque : très peu de canons et un usage encore fréquent de l’arc. Marcantonio Barbaro lui-même, ambassadeur de Venise à Constantinople, avait noté le manque d’artillerie sur les navires turcs.
Ce furent justement largement le canon et l’arquebuse, et l’usage généreux qu’en firent les Vénitiens, qui déterminèrent la victoire chrétienne. La bataille de Lépante est la première bataille navale moderne dominée par l’usage des armes à feu. Les canons frappèrent, abîmèrent et coulèrent les navires ennemis. Le déchargement des fusils qui précéda immédiatement les abordages décima les équipages turcs avant même l’entrée en contact des hommes. Le grand avantage des Vénitiens sur tous les autres ne consistait pas seulement dans le fait d’avoir de nombreuses armes à feu, tandis que les musulmans n’en avaient que très peu. L’avantage principal résidait en ce que non seulement ils les avaient, mais qu’ils savaient pourquoi ils les avaient et comment ils avaient l’intention d’en user6 [6] .
Comme le fait remarquer Barbero, au moins quelques commandants chrétiens – don Juan d’Autriche, Sébastien Venier, Marcantonio Colonna – avaient compris, bien que d’une manière encore confuse, le rôle d’une bataille décisive en mer, dépassant l’approche d’une flotte destinée exclusivement à appuyer des opérations terrestres, dont étaient encore étroitement dépendants les amiraux turcs. Comme le fait remarquer F. Cardini, la supériorité chrétienne ne réside pas dans la technologie en tant que telle mais dans la profonde transformation culturelle qui a donné son origine au développement technologique. Les sultans enrôlèrent des techniciens européens, pensant ainsi résoudre leurs problèmes, mais ne se rendant pas compte que ces experts et leur technologie étaient justement le résultat de cette transformation. C’est ici que se trouve le vrai retard de l’Empire turc.
Le livre de Franco Cardini, à la différence du premier, contient une vaste fresque et accorde la majeure partie de ses pages aux événements qui ont conduit au siège de Vienne en 1683. Il couvre une période de temps plus grande. Avant le siège de Vienne, il rappelle les faits de Lépante et la guerre de Candie qui opposa la République vénitienne et l’Empire ottoman au XVIIe siècle, puis va jusqu’à la guerre de Morée et les dernières guerres vénitiennes, lorsque la Sérénissime se trouve en difficulté et tombe dans une certaine décadence, tout en continuant, au début du XVIIIe siècle, à exprimer une volonté et un courage admirables. L’auteur expose le cadre de la politique internationale, composé d’une série très nombreuse d’acteurs grands et petits, des Empires aux grands Etats et aux plus petites organisations politiques italiennes et allemandes. Il porte également une grande attention aux aspects anthropologiques, aux mentalités et aux coutumes, de même qu’aux individus, analyses qui sont d’autant plus intéressantes quand elles concernent des personnes moins connues. Les vicissitudes d’un personnage qui n’est pas un acteur de premier plan comme le capitaine Gianbattista Benvenuti da Crema nous permettent de comprendre mieux que cent raisonnements l’incroyable entremêlement de langues, d’ethnies, de religions dont était composée l’Europe danubienne à la fin du XVIIe siècle, tout comme la mentalité de ces soldats, parmi lesquels les questions purement « professionnelles » et celles de l’honneur étaient étroitement liées. Le groupe de cavaliers polonais commandé par Jean III Sobieski, roi de Pologne, qui en 1683, au dernier moment, a chargé les armées ottomanes, les mettant en fuite et libérant Vienne, est décrit avec efficacité par F. Cardini, employant une série d’adjectifs précis : « Le bruyant, bagarreur, courageux, bigarré, joyeux et féroce contingent polonais ».
Pour Franco Cardini, le long conflit entre Europe chrétienne et Levant musulman est un conflit d’Etats et de puissances et non un affrontement de civilisation7 [7] . Ce n’est pas non plus une guerre de religion au sens strict, parce que « jamais en réalité les chrétiens et les musulmans ne se sont détestés avec cette férocité systématique, cette volonté opiniâtre et réciproque de destruction avec lesquelles se sont affrontés les catholiques et les huguenots dans la France du XVIe siècle, ou les papistes et les réformés en Irlande, en Ecosse et en Europe centrale. » Ce furent en revanche des guerres entre « hommes religieux », parce que dans les deux sociétés « la foi constituait le fondement de la vision du monde, de l’ordre juridique, de la morale ».
Ce n’est pas un hasard si des religieux participèrent à ces événements, y compris aux actions militaires. L’époque du siège de Vienne voit la présence et l’activité de Marco d’Aviano, frère capucin du Frioul, lequel, non seulement encourage le combat dans sa prédication, mais formule une doctrine pénitentielle de la croisade. Par sa parole et ses écrits, il appelle les souverains, les chefs d’armées et les ecclésiastiques à s’engager dans les combats et dans la politique. Lors du siège de Buda en 1686, il affronte le feu de l’ennemi comme s’il était sûr d’être invulnérable.
Toujours durant le siège de Vienne, cette fois dans le camp musulman, se manifeste la présence, plus discrète mais très efficace de Mehmed Vani Effendi, le « directeur spirituel » de Kara Mustafa, commandant des forces ottomanes. Il fut selon toute vraisemblance « l’authentique inspirateur des rêves de conquête universelle ottomane et musulmane de ce qui avait été l’Empire romain dans son ensemble, en passant par Vienne jusqu’à Rome ».
A Lépante, écrit Alessandro Barbero, les rituels mis en oeuvre sur les navires des deux camps avant la bataille furent très comparables. Sur le bâtiment de l’amiral Ali furent hissés des étendards portant le nom d’Allah répétés un nombre de fois considérable, sur le bateau du capitaine chrétien les étendards étaient marqués du Christ crucifié ou, côté vénitien, de saint Marc. Et sur les navires des deux camps, peu avant d’entamer la bataille, on entendait des musiques militaires ainsi que les prières entonnées par les équipages.
Deux siècles plus tard, souligne F. Cardini, au dernier jour de la bataille qui allait conduire à la libération de Vienne, les chrétiens entamèrent le combat après la messe, la confession et l’eucharistie, tandis que les musulmans avaient prié à l’aube tournés vers la Mecque. Sur les étendards impériaux et polonais se trouvaient les images du Christ et de la Madone, sur ceux des musulmans étaient écrits les noms d’Allah et des versets du Coran. « Et les cris de guerre étaient des cris de foi ».
Franco Cardini est un adversaire résolu du vieil adage « l’histoire ne se fait pas avec des “si” ». Au contraire, « non seulement on peut, mais on doit penser l’histoire au conditionnel pour mieux comprendre la valeur et l’importance de ce qui s’est effectivement passé ». Prenons deux exemples. Selim II, sultan qui raisonne à long terme en aidant la révolte des Morisques en Andalousie et en leur conseillant une alliance avec les luthériens, fait aussi étudier la possibilité d’un canal entre le Don et la Volga. Qu’aurait-il pu arriver si les flottes musulmanes avaient eu la possibilité de passer de la mer Noire à la mer Caspienne, en attaquant à partir d’un lieu imprévisible l’Empire perse, qui constituait une menace permanente pour l’Empire ottoman et qui était parfois l’allié des puissances européennes ?
Sébastien, roi du Portugal né en 1554, était un personnage singulier, oscillant entre des projets concrets et sensés et des rêves splendides mais impossibles et irréalisables. En 1578, aidé par les querelles internes du Maroc, il passe avec son armée en Afrique du Nord, où les royaumes hispaniques disposaient de points d’appui robustes, afin de poursuivre l’oeuvre de la reconquista déjà achevée dans la péninsule ibérique. L’entreprise se termine mal : le roi disparaît durant la bataille et personne ne saura plus rien de lui, même si une légende en a longtemps fait attendre le retour. Si le projet de Sébastien du Portugal « avait réussi […] l’histoire de la Méditerranée et de l’humanité aurait probablement été différente »8 [8] . Si l’histoire se fait bien avec des « si », il en résulte, selon F. Cardini, qu’elle n’a pas de « sens ». Mais attention : cela ne signifie pas que l’histoire est uniquement une succession chaotique de faits incohérents et incompréhensibles. Cela signifie en revanche que l’histoire ne va pas nécessairement dans une seule direction contrainte, dont elle ne peut pas s’écarter. Elle est faite par les hommes avec leurs décisions, en partie conditionnées et en partie libres, qu’elles soient ou se révèlent ensuite justes ou mauvaises. Elle n’émane pas d’une « raison immanente de l’histoire ». Machiavel écrivait que la fortune, c’est-à-dire les conditionnements auxquels nous sommes soumis, gouverne la moitié de notre monde, mais qu’elle nous laisse l’autre moitié, à nous et à nos décisions. L’histoire des événements humains est donc riche de possibilités, de bifurcations, d’alternatives et c’est l’analyse de ces alternatives qui peut se révéler particulièrement utile pour mieux comprendre ce qui s’est passé et comment et pourquoi cela est arrivé9 [9] .
Mais, si l’histoire est faite par les hommes, lorsque nous la racontons et tentons de la comprendre, nous nous trouvons nécessairement face à deux mystères insondables : l’esprit et le coeur de l’homme. Parce que, même si nous partions du principe que tout ce qui est écrit et dit est toujours véridique et sincère, il est alors évident qu’il y a beaucoup de choses que les hommes n’auraient jamais dites ni écrites. Le mystère de l’homme reste entier.
Prenons là aussi deux exemples. A la bataille de Saint-Gothard, le 1er août 1664, Raimondo Montecuccoli, que Franco Cardini définit comme le « parfait gentilhomme catholique », prend des risques mais emporte la victoire, parce que l’ennemi se met lui-même en situation de défaite : « L’avait-il prévu ? L’avait-il franchement programmé ? S’était-il fié à la Providence ou à sa bonne étoile ? » Que voulait vraiment faire Kara Mustafa, le grand vizir, lorsqu’il partit pour l’expédition militaire qui le conduisit aux portes de Vienne ? A-t-il choisi de se diriger vers Vienne suite à la réunion décisive du 6 août 1682 à Istamboul ? Si ce n’est pas le cas, quand a-t-il pris sa décision ? Est-il volontairement parti sans artillerie de siège, ou bien a-t-il commis une erreur dans la préparation de sa campagne ? A-t-il osé fixer l’objectif de l’expédition sans l’accord du sultan ou même contre sa volonté ? En réalité, savoir comment et quand sont nées les décisions reste un mystère.
Les historiens qui croient connaître et comprendre toutes ces choses sont soit dans l’illusion, soit posent sans s’en rendre compte un jugement post eventum, après coup, qui, s’il peut présenter une apparence séduisante du fait de l’explication qu’il fournit, a peu de chance de refléter correctement la complexité des faits qui conduisent aux décisions et aux événements historiques.

  1. . Alessandro Barbero, Lepanto. La battaglia dei tre imperi, Laterza, Rome-Bari, 2010, 24 €. Plus de 600 p. de texte complétées de 100 p. de notes et d’une bibliographie particulièrement importante composée à la fois de sources directes et d’ouvrages sur le sujet. Le livre contient également une description précise des forces militaires chrétiennes en présence, que ce soit sur terre, unité par unité, ou sur mer, bateau par bateau, ainsi que deux cartes. Une édition française est en préparation. [ [10]]
  2. . Franco Cardini, Il Turco a Vienna. Storia del grande assedio del 1683, Laterza, Rome-Bari, 2011, 28 €. Plus de 500 p. de texte sont complétées par 100 autres p. de notes, ainsi que par une bibliographie considérable, composée à la fois de sources directes et d’ouvrages sur le sujet, d’une chronologie, d’un glossaire et d’un ensemble de cartes. [ [11]]
  3. . Un exemple : d’octobre 1543 à avril 1544, François Ier autorisa Khair ed-Din (Barberousse) et sa flotte à passer l’hiver à Toulon, qui devint ainsi pendant six mois une cité turque. En réalité, comme le souligne F. Cardini, il est difficile de concevoir un Louis XIV désireux d’une victoire définitive de la Turquie, mais il est vrai que la France cherchait à s’étendre vers le Rhin au détriment de l’Empire, de sorte qu’il lui était bien naturel de désirer que l’Autriche soit engagée sur le front balkanique car cela rendait impossible à cette dernière une réponse efficace à la France sur son front occidental. C’est l’application du fameux proverbe : « Les ennemis de mes ennemis sont mes amis ». [ [12]]
  4. . Une musulmane ne peut pas épouser un chrétien, mais un musulman peut épouser une chrétienne sans que celle-ci doive nécessairement se convertir à l’islam. [ [13]]
  5. . Frank Thiess, Tsushima. Il romanzo di una guerra navale, trad. it., Turin, 1942. [ [14]]
  6. . F. Cardini fait remarquer que les Turcs manquaient également d’artillerie pour leur campagne terrestre, en particulier de canons de siège. [ [15]]
  7. . Le sous-titre de l’ouvrage d’Alessandro Barbero, La Battaglia dei tre imperi, met également en évidence le caractère éminemment politique du conflit. [ [16]]
  8. . On pourrait ajouter de nombreux autres exemples. Que se serait-il passé si Christophe Colomb avait découvert l’Amérique quarante ou cinquante ans plus tard ? L’Espagne n’aurait pas eu à s’engager sur trois fronts simultanés : l’expansion en Amérique, la reconquista en Afrique ainsi que la guerre contre les Turcs en Méditerranée, la lutte en Europe contre les protestants. Les éphémères victoires et brèves reconquêtes de villes en Afrique du Nord auraient été à l’inverse suivies d’une reconquête ample et durable. Aujourd’hui, nous n’aurions pas l’islam en Méditerranée et notre histoire aurait été et serait radicalement différente. [ [17]]
  9. . Alessandro Barbero affirme également que, si la bataille de Lépante avait eu lieu en juin, comme cela aurait pu être le cas, les vainqueurs auraient pu tirer un avantage de cette victoire bien plus grand que cela ne fut le cas. [ [18]]

Article printed from Revue Catholica: http://www.catholica.presse.fr

URL to article: http://www.catholica.presse.fr/2012/09/28/de-lepante-a-vienne/

URLs in this post:

[1] 1: http://www.catholica.presse.fr/2012/09/28/de-lepante-a-vienne/#footnote_0_3347

[2] 2: http://www.catholica.presse.fr/2012/09/28/de-lepante-a-vienne/#footnote_1_3347

[3] 3: http://www.catholica.presse.fr/2012/09/28/de-lepante-a-vienne/#footnote_2_3347

[4] 4: http://www.catholica.presse.fr/2012/09/28/de-lepante-a-vienne/#footnote_3_3347

[5] 5: http://www.catholica.presse.fr/2012/09/28/de-lepante-a-vienne/#footnote_4_3347

[6] 6: http://www.catholica.presse.fr/2012/09/28/de-lepante-a-vienne/#footnote_5_3347

[7] 7: http://www.catholica.presse.fr/2012/09/28/de-lepante-a-vienne/#footnote_6_3347

[8] 8: http://www.catholica.presse.fr/2012/09/28/de-lepante-a-vienne/#footnote_7_3347

[9] 9: http://www.catholica.presse.fr/2012/09/28/de-lepante-a-vienne/#footnote_8_3347

[10] ↩: http://www.catholica.presse.fr/2012/09/28/de-lepante-a-vienne/#identifier_0_3347

[11] ↩: http://www.catholica.presse.fr/2012/09/28/de-lepante-a-vienne/#identifier_1_3347

[12] ↩: http://www.catholica.presse.fr/2012/09/28/de-lepante-a-vienne/#identifier_2_3347

[13] ↩: http://www.catholica.presse.fr/2012/09/28/de-lepante-a-vienne/#identifier_3_3347

[14] ↩: http://www.catholica.presse.fr/2012/09/28/de-lepante-a-vienne/#identifier_4_3347

[15] ↩: http://www.catholica.presse.fr/2012/09/28/de-lepante-a-vienne/#identifier_5_3347

[16] ↩: http://www.catholica.presse.fr/2012/09/28/de-lepante-a-vienne/#identifier_6_3347

[17] ↩: http://www.catholica.presse.fr/2012/09/28/de-lepante-a-vienne/#identifier_7_3347

[18] ↩: http://www.catholica.presse.fr/2012/09/28/de-lepante-a-vienne/#identifier_8_3347

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jeudi, 14 mars 2013

Gli antichi Romani conoscevano l'America

Gli antichi Romani conoscevano l'America, arrivano nuove prove

L'esame del Dna dimostra che ci sono anche semi di girasole nelle pastiglie ritrovate nel relitto di una nave affondata nel Tirreno nel II secolo avanti Cristo. Ma il fiore venerato dagli inca non era stato portato in Europa dai Conquistadores?

Ex: http://www.ilgiornale.it/ 

Insomma, molto prima dei vichinghi, i romani frequentarono l'America. Emergono nuovi, convincenti indizi archeologici sulle antiche frequentazioni commerciali delle Americhe da parte di navi romane: li ha illustrati, in una conferenza a margine della rassegna bolognese di cinema archeologico «Storie dal Passato», il divulgatore scientifico Elio Cadelo, con un'ampia anteprima della nuova edizione del suo libro «Quando i Romani andavano in America», ricco di sorprendenti rivelazioni sulle antiche rotte di navigazione.
Un indizio dalla robusta forza probatoria si deve alle nuove analisi del Dna dei farmaci fitoterapici rinvenuti in un relitto romano recuperato alle coste toscane: il naufragio avvenne a causa di una tempesta fra il 140 e il 120 avanti Cristo, quando Roma, distrutta Cartagine, era ormai la sola superpotenza del Mediterraneo. Su quella sfortunata nave viaggiava anche un medico, il cui corredo professionale ci è stato restituito dal relitto: fiale, bende, ferri chirurgici e scatolette che, ancora chiuse, contenevano pastiglie molto ben conservate, preziosissime per la conoscenza della farmacopea nell'antichità classica.

Le nuove analisi dei frammenti di Dna dei vegetali contenuti in quelle pastiglie «hanno confermato l'uso, già noto, di molte piante officinali, tranne due che - ha spiegato Cadelo nella sua relazione alla Rassegna, organizzata da Ancient World Society - hanno destato forte perplessità fra gli studiosi: l'ibisco, che poteva solo provenire da India o Etiopia, e, soprattutto, i semi di girasole».

Ma il girasole, secondo le cognizioni fino a ora accettate, arrivò in Europa solo dopo la conquista spagnola delle Americhe: il primo a descriverlo fu il conquistador del Perù Francisco Pizarro, raccontando che gli Inca lo veneravano come l'immagine della loro divinità solare. Di quel fiore imponente e affascinante, poi, si seppe che era coltivato nelle Americhe fin dall'inizio del primo millennio avanti Cristo. Ma ancora non se n'era trovata alcuna traccia nel Vecchio Mondo, prima della sua introduzione a opera dei mercanti per primi frequentarono le terre appena «violate» dai conquistadores iberici.

È questo un altro tassello che si aggiunge ai moltissimi altri, spiegati nel libro di Cadelo, che documentano traffici commerciali insospettati: come il sorprendente rinvenimento - altra novità - di raffinati gioielli in vetro con foglie d'oro, provenienti da botteghe romane di età imperiale: erano in una tomba principesca giapponese, non lontano da Kyoto. Si tratta di perline che i mercanti navali romani portavano spesso con sé, come oggetto di scambio. Ma non è necessario pensare che fossero proprio romani, i mercanti che le portarono fino in Giappone: quei gioielli potrebbero essere stati scambiati anche su altri approdi, prima di arrivare in Estremo Oriente. Peraltro, monete romane sono state restituite da scavi effettuati anche in Corea e perfino in Nuova Zelanda. Altre prove delle antiche frequentazioni navali americane di Fenici e Romani sono già descritte nella prima edizione del libro di Cadelo, dove - fra l'altro - si sfatano alcune sconcertanti nostre ignoranze sulle cognizioni astronomiche dei nostri antenati: per esempio, c'è una poco frequentata pagina della «Naturalis Historia» di Plinio il Vecchio dove si spiega che il moto di rotazione della Terra attorno al proprio asse è dimostrato dal sorgere e tramontare del Sole ogni 24 ore (un millennio e mezzo prima di Copernico). E Aristotele si diceva certo che fosse possibile raggiungere l'India navigando verso ovest: se Cristoforo Colombo avesse potuto esibire quella pagina aristotelica, si sarebbe risparmiato tanta fatica durata a convincere i regnanti di Spagna a concedergli le tre caravelle.

lundi, 11 mars 2013

Rudolf Diesel wollte weg vom Erdöl…

Rudolf Diesel: Der Industrielle und Erfinder hat seinerzeit einen Motor entwickelt, der ganz ohne Petroleum lief. Der amerikanische Öl-Millionär John D. Rockefeller beispielsweise erklärte Diesel deswegen zu seinem "Todfeind".

Freitod oder kaltblütiger Mord? Rudolf Diesel, der vor 150 Jahren geboren wurde, kam von einer Schiffsreise nach London nicht mehr lebend zurück. Über den mysteriösen Tod des Dieselmotor-Erfinders – und seine mächtigsten Widersacher.

diesel.jpgEs war ein ruhiger Abend auf See. Rudolf Diesel hatte im Speisesaal des luxuriösen Passagierdampfers “Dresden” mit einem bekannten Industriellen zu Abend gegessen. Der große, stattliche Mann mit Brille und Schnauzer war auf dem Weg nach London, wo er ein Motorenwerk einweihen sollte. In bester Laune hatte der 55-Jährige vom Deck aus noch die sternklare Nacht vom 29. auf den 30. September 1913 bewundert. Dann machte sich Rudolf Diesel, der Erfinder des Dieselmotors, auf den Weg in seine Kabine. Dies war der Augenblick, in dem er das letzte Mal gesehen wurde.

Zehn Tage später fand man nur noch die Reste seiner aufgedunsenen Wasserleiche. Was war passiert? “Er ist zuerst mit Chloroform betäubt und dann brutal über die Brüstung ins Meer geworfen worden”, sagt Viktor Glass. Er hat den biographischen Roman “Diesel” über den Erfinder und Mechaniker geschrieben. Bis heute ist nicht geklärt, warum Diesel starb, aber Viktor Glass ist sich sicher, dass er nicht freiwillig ins Wasser sprang. “Diesel hatte sich sein Nachtzeug bereits akkurat zurecht gelegt und seine Taschenuhr so an der Wand der Kabine befestigt, dass er sie vom Bett aus sehen konnte. Das spricht definitiv nicht für Selbstmord”, sagt der Autor.

Ein Unfall wurde sofort ausgeschlossen. Denn die See war an dem Abend extrem ruhig und auch die Reling war so hoch, dass man – auch bei großer Unachtsamkeit – nicht darüber fallen konnte. Einzig ein Kreuz in Diesels Kalender sorgte lange für das Gerücht, er habe mit einem Totenkreuz den Tag seines Sterbens markiert. “Aber das Kreuz könnte auch genauso bedeuten, dass er sich damit den Tag seiner Reise angestrichen hat”, sagt Glass.

Der erste funktionsfähige Dieselmotor aus dem Jahr 1897

Diesels Todfeinde

Bleibt die Frage, wer Interesse am Tod des Mechanikers gehabt haben könnte. Kein Zweifel: Diesel hatte mächtige Feinde. “Der amerikanische Öl-Millionär John D. Rockefeller wollte ihn aus dem Weg räumen. Denn Diesels Motor funktionierte ganz ohne dessen Petroleum”, erklärt Viktor Glass. Rockefeller habe Diesel sogar seinen “Todfeind” genannt. Eine andere Theorie spricht laut Glass dafür, dass Diesel auf Befehl des deutschen Kaisers ermordet wurde. Er sei ja nur ein Jahr vor dem Ersten Weltkrieg gestorben, und Wilhelm II. habe Diesel-Schiffsmotoren für die Kampfeinsätze nutzen wollen. Diesel jedoch habe das nicht gewollt – wenn, hätten alle Nationen die gleichen Chancen haben sollen seinen zu Motor nutzen, erläutert Glass die Beweggründe des Erfinders.

Deshalb habe er auch an andere Nationen Patente für seinen Motor verkauft. Mit eventuell tödlichen Folgen: “Wie viele andere Intellektuelle (u.a. Julius Hensel) zu seiner Zeit kam er dann plötzlich um”, so Glass. Der Autor geht davon aus, dass sich die deutsche Seite Rudolf Diesels entledigt hat. Und das, obwohl er zu den wichtigsten Erfindern Deutschlands gehörte. Ein Mann, der es trotz widriger Verhältnisse ganz weit nach oben gebracht hatte.
Nach Ausbruch des deutsch-französischen Krieges 1870 mussten seine Eltern mit ihm und seinen Geschwistern aus Paris fliehen, wo er am 18. März 1858 geboren worden war. Im Exil in England erwartete die Familie Hunger und Armut. Diesels Eltern konnten ihren Sohn nicht mit durchbringen und schickten ihn während der Kriegswirren zu Verwandten nach Augsburg. Dort ging Rudolf Diesel zur Schule und wurde sich schnell seiner Leidenschaft für Technik und Mechanik bewusst. Schon während seines Studiums an der Königlich-Bayerischen Technischen Hochschule in München hatte er die Idee, einen Motor zu bauen, der die Dampfmaschine ablösen sollte.
Ohne Zwischenstopp rund um die Welt
Für dieses Ziel war er bereit, fast alles zu opfern. Heute würde man Diesel als Workaholic bezeichnen: Nächte hindurch saß er über Skizzen und Versuchsaufbauten; er litt an Überarbeitung und starken Kopfschmerzen. 1897 gelang es ihm endlich einen Motor zu schaffen, der deutlich weniger Energie verbrauchte als die Dampfmaschine – eine Revolution. Denn zu der Zeit mussten Dampfschiffe alle paar Tage an Land gehen und neue Kohlen aufladen. Mit seinem Motor konnte ein Schiff ohne Zwischenstopp rund um die Welt fahren. Die Patente für seine Erfindung verkaufte er weltweit. Allein, im Umgang mit Geld war Diesel alles andere als patent; zum Zeitpunkt seines Todes stand er kurz vor seinem finanziellen Ruin.

Ingenieurstreffen: Rudolf Diesel, Heinrich von Buz und Prof. Moritz Schröter (v.l.) nach der Hauptversammlung des Vereins Deutscher Ingenieure im Jahr 1897.

Auch wenn sich der Erfinder stets mit Stil kleidete und modische Anzüge trug, so hatte er doch nie vergessen, aus welcher Schicht er kam. Sein großes Ziel: Er wollte einen Motor für die einfachen Menschen bauen. Einen, den man beispielsweise für Traktoren nutzen konnte. Die Umsetzung seiner Idee war für die Bauern ein Riesenfortschritt, mussten sie doch zuvor noch per Hand, mit Ochse und Pferd den Boden pflügen und die Saat einholen. “Deshalb ist Diesel als Deutscher heute noch in aller Welt bekannt”, sagt Glass. Natürlich würden viele Hitler kennen. “Aber fragt man einen indonesischen Bauern nach einem Deutschen, wird der sicher ‘Diesel’ antworten”, so der Autor.

Wobei der Mechaniker bereits zu Lebzeiten eine international berühmte Persönlichkeit war: Der amerikanische Präsident Harry S. Truman wollte ihm zum Beispiel eine ganz besondere Ehre zu Teil werden lassen und ihn auf die erste Fahrt durch den Panama-Kanal mitnehmen. Diese Bekanntheit wollte Rudolf Diesel für seine Ideen nutzen. Er hatte sogar vor in die Politik zu gehen, um für mehr soziale Gerechtigkeit zu kämpfen. Eines seiner Ziele war es, dass die Arbeiter Anteile an den Betrieben bekommen; sein Gesellschaftskonzept hielt er in einem Buch mit dem Titel “Solidarismus” fest. Doch war Diesel auch in anderer Hinsicht Visionär: Er spielte schon Ende des 19.Jahrhunderts mit der Idee, Motoren mit Raps oder Hanf zu betreiben, was ihm damals jedoch nicht gelang.
Die Titanic knapp verpasst
Ebenso wie ihm der brennende Wunsch versagt blieb, 1912 mit der “Titanic” nach Amerika zu fahren – zu seinem Glück. Da Diesel keine Tickets mehr bekam, nahm er mit seiner Familie ein anderes Schiff und entkam so der Katastrophe. Als der Mechaniker vom Untergang des Schiffes erfuhr, war er geschockt. Immer wieder habe er zu seiner Frau gesagt: “Wenn nur einer gestorben wäre, was wäre dann aus den anderen geworden?”, zitiert Glass den Erfinder. “Auch daran kann man erkennen, dass er sich nie umgebracht hätte”, so der Autor. Diesel hätte niemals seine Familie allein gelassen.

Dennoch warteten seine Frau und seine drei Kinder im Herbst 1913 vergebens auf Rudolf Diesels Rückkehr. Alles, was seiner Familie von ihm blieb, war der Inhalt seiner Manteltasche: ein Portemonnaie, ein Taschenmesser, eine Pillendose. Und das Rätsel um seinen Tod – das sich wohl nie lösen wird. Denn Diesels Leiche wurde kurz nach ihrer Entdeckung wieder zurück ins Meer geworfen.
Quelle: eines tages

mardi, 05 mars 2013




Une version abrégée de cet entretien avec Alberto Buela a été publiée
dans La NRH, nº 65, mars-avril 2013

Né en 1946, à Buenos Aires, Alberto Buela est un philosophe argentin
qui s’est spécialisé dans l’anthropologie et la géopolitique. Sous la
dictature militaire, en 1981, il a été chargé par la Centrale
syndicale CGT (alors clandestine) d’effectuer une mission de
représentation auprès de l’OIT, à Genève. Il a ensuite vécu à Paris où
il a soutenu une thèse de doctorat à l’université de la Sorbonne sur
Le fondement métaphysique de l’éthique chez Aristote (1983). De retour
en Argentine, il a enseigné la philosophie dans plusieurs Universités
dont l’Université Technologique Nationale de Buenos Aires. Depuis
1990, ses travaux portent avant tout sur la « pensée américaine ». Il
a publié notamment : El sentido de América (1990), Pensadores
Nacionales Iberoamericanos (1992), Ensayos iberoamericanos (1994),
Hispanoamérica contra Occidente (1996), Metapolítica y filosofía
(2002), Teoría del disenso (2004) et, tout récemment, Disyuntivas de
nuestro tiempo (2012). Fondateur et directeur de la revue Disenso, il
est l’auteur d’une vingtaine de livres et de plus de cinq cents

1. Arnaud Imatz : L’Amérique hispanique a toujours été l’objet de
convoitises de la part des grandes puissances. Un des premiers
exemples d’ingérence de vaste envergure est le siège de Carthagène des
Indes, dans l’actuelle Colombie, en 1740. L’amiral basco-espagnol,
Blas de Lezo, repoussa alors les assauts d’une armada anglo-américaine
de cent quatre vingt navires et de 24 000 hommes, commandée par
l’amiral Edward Vernon, aidé du demi-frère du futur président des
États-Unis, Lawrence Washington. Au XIXe siècle, l’interventionnisme
étranger augmente considérablement. En 1806-1807, le Rio de la Plata
et Buenos Aires subissent une première invasion anglaise. En 1833, les
britanniques occupent les Îles Malouines. Mais les années 1820-1830
sont surtout marquées par le début de l’expansionnisme des États-Unis.
Le Mexique, pour ne citer que lui, se voit obligé de céder plus de 50%
de son territoire entre 1836 et 1848… Confrontés à deux siècles
d’interventions anglo-saxonnes, nombre d’historiens hispano-américains
en sont venus à s’interroger sur les origines des nations
ibéro-américaines et à remettre en cause les analyses conventionnelles
des longues et sanglantes guerres d’indépendance (1810-1825),
engendrées par l’occupation française de l’Espagne et les vagues
révolutionnaires européennes. S’agissait-il avant tout de « guerres de
libération nationale » , comme on le dit habituellement ? Ou voyez
vous en elles, à l’inverse, des résistances créoles et populaires
(avec souvent l’appui d’une majorité de Noirs et d’Indiens et le
soutien marginal de la troupe espagnole venue du vieux continent)
contre la sécession hispano-américaine ? En d’autres termes, ne
furent-elles pas des guerres civiles intra-américaines, financées par
les Anglais, qui aboutirent à la destruction de l’Empire espagnol au
bénéfice de l’Empire britannique et du monde anglo-saxon ?

Alberto Buela : La guerre d’indépendance américaine contre l’Espagne
fut bien en fait une « guerre civile » favorisée par les Anglais pour
détruire l’empire espagnol en Amérique et tirer un profit commercial
de la nouvelle situation. Il en fut ainsi hier et il en est encore
ainsi aujourd’hui. Les Anglais ne sont-ils pas toujours présents dans
les îles Malouines, à Bélize ou en Guyana ? Ne sont-ils pas
représentés par des assesseurs politiques ou des groupes de pression
dans tous nos gouvernements?

J’affirme, avec un bon nombre d’historiens, que ce fut une guerre
civile parce que dans les deux camps il y avait des Espagnols, des
Créoles, des Noirs et des Indiens. Mieux ! La population indigène
était majoritairement dans le camp espagnol.

Penser la guerre d’indépendance hispano-américaine comme une guerre de
libération est une mystification.

2. Arnaud Imatz : Avant de poursuivre cet entretien, il me semble
important d’apporter quelques précisions sémantiques. Pour désigner
l’Amérique centrale et du Sud et leurs habitants, les auteurs
européens ont pour habitude d’utiliser les termes « Amérique latine »
et « Latino-américains », le vocable « Américain » étant réservé aux
Américains des États-Unis. Vous rejetez absolument ces concepts et
vous leur préférez ceux d’Amérique hispanique et d’Hispano-américains,
ou plutôt ceux d’Amérique ibérique et d’Ibéro-américains. Pourquoi?

Alberto Buela : Premièrement, et avant tout, parce qu’au sens strict
les Latins sont les habitants du Latium, contrée ancienne au centre de
l’Italie actuelle. Ensuite, parce que le concept de latinité est une
création idéologique de Michel Chevalier, l’économiste, conseiller de
Napoléon III, qui souhaitait légitimer l’intervention de ce dernier en
Amérique hispanique. Et troisièmement, parce que le concept de latin
ne nous définit pas. Nous ne sommes « ni vraiment espagnols, ni
vraiment indiens », mais hispano-créoles. Nous sommes le produit d’une
culture de synthèse ou de symbiose entre deux cosmovisions qui se sont
imbriquées pour produire l’homme américain actuel.

Notre dette envers l’Europe est énorme (langue, religion,
institutions), mais notre matrice, notre genius loci (climat, sol et
paysage), est l’Amérique. Et nous ne devons pas l’oublier. Nous vivons
en Amérique et pensons depuis l’Amérique.

3. Arnaud Imatz : Dans un article sévère sur « Les interventions
anglo-saxonnes en Amérique hispanique», vous affirmez que depuis le
début du XIXe siècle leur nombre s’élève à 700 majeures et près de
4000 mineures. La doctrine de Monroe (1823), l’idéologie de la
Destinée manifeste (1845), la politique du Big Stick de Théodore
Roosevelt (1901), la politique de bon voisinage de Franklin Roosevelt
(1932), la théorie de la sécurité nationale de Truman (1947), le
projet de zone de libre échange des Amériques (ZLEA) de Bush et plus
généralement toutes les applications historiques des différents
principes énoncés par la diplomatie états-unienne, se résumeraient en
dernière instance, selon vous, par ces quelques mots : « L’Amérique
aux Américains… du Nord ». L’Amérique hispanique n’aurait-t-elle donc
jamais été vraiment indépendante ?

Alberto Buela : En deux-cents ans d’existence « républicaine »,
l’Amérique hispanique n’a jamais été pleinement indépendante. Elle ne
l’a été que de manière très sporadique grâce à quelques gouvernements
et quelques figures politiques. Au XIXe siècle on peut citer : Gabriel
Garcia Moreno (Equateur), Juan Manuel de Rosas (Argentine), José
Manuel Balmaceda (Chili), Porfirio Díaz (Mexique), Francisco Morazán
(République Fédérale d’Amérique Centrale). Et au XXe siècle : Getúlio
Vargas (Brésil), Juan Natalicio González (Paraguay), Luis Alberto de
Herrera (Uruguay), Juan José Arévalo (Guatemala), Juan Domingo Perón
(Argentine), Carlos Ibañez del Campo (Chili), Victor Paz Estenssoro
(Bolivia), Eloy Álfaro (Equateur), Francisco Madero (Mexique), Augusto
César Sandino (Nicaragua) et quelques autres.

Les sources du véritable pouvoir n’ont jamais été dans nos pays mais
toujours à l’étranger. Voilà le problème ! Dans leur immense majorité,
nos gouvernements ont été des « gouvernements vicaires » ou de «
remplacement ». En d’autres termes, comme dans le cas du Pape pour le
Christ, ils ont gouverné pour le compte et au nom d’un autre

4. Arnaud Imatz : Les Ibéro-américains dénoncent volontiers les ONG
nord-américaines et les églises  évangéliques comme «  le cheval de
Troie de l’impérialisme yankee ». Qu’en pensez-vous ?

Alberto Buela : Cette intromission des États-Unis dans l’Amérique
ibérique à partir des sectes évangéliques a été dénoncée par une
infinité d’hommes politiques, d’intellectuels et d’agents sociaux,
depuis le linguiste Noam Chomsky jusqu’à l’évêque du Salvador, victime
d’un assassinat, Óscar Romero. Au Brésil, le cas est aujourd’hui
proprement scandaleux. Devant l’inconsistance de la conscience
religieuse brésilienne, ces sectes sont devenues une source de pouvoir
qui détermine l’élection des gouvernements. Elles sont un
extraordinaire groupe de pression.

Mais soyons clair ! Il ne s’agit là que d’un des nombreux mécanismes
de domination crées par les gouvernements nord-américains. Cependant,
une grande partie de la responsabilité incombe à nos gouvernements
autochtones et à l’Église catholique qui est entrée dans une terrible
crise depuis le concile Vatican II et qui a cessé de facto
d’évangéliser. L’Église ibéro-américaine s’est tellement
bureaucratisée qu’elle s’est écartée de la communauté, son lieu
naturel. Elle s’est transformée en un appareil de plus de l’État
libéral-bourgeois, cette forme institutionnelle qui nous gouverne.

5. Arnaud Imatz : Vous rejetez le multiculturalisme - idéologie née en
Amérique du Nord -, et défendez à l’inverse l’interculturalisme.
Qu’entendez-vous par là ?

Alberto Buela : Comme vous l’observez correctement, la théorie du
multiculturalisme est une création des think tanks états-uniens.  Sous
le masque du respect de l’Autre, elle « accorde des droits aux
minorités pour le seul fait de l’être et non pas pour la valeur
intrinsèque qu’elles représentent ».

C’est une fausse théorie. D’une part, elle prétend respecter
l’identité de l’Autre, tout en l’enfermant dans son particularisme,
d’autre part, elle dépolitise le débat politique en refusant de penser
en termes d’État-nation et se limite à des questions sociales,
raciales, économiques et de genre.

Je préfère la théorie de l’interculturalisme. Celle-ci nous enseigne
que dans l’hispano-créole il y a plusieurs cultures, qui conforment un
être symbiotique, porteur de la culture de synthèse dont nous parlions
à l’instant, et qui nous fait ce que nous sommes.

6. Arnaud Imatz : Vous êtes un spécialiste de l’histoire du
nationalisme grand continental ibéro-américain. Quels sont les traits
qui le définissent : la langue, la continuité territoriale, la
religion, l’adversaire commun ? Existe-t-il un « heartland »
sud-américain sans lequel « le grand espace autocentré » ne saurait
être ni pensé, ni construit ?

Alberto Buela : L’écoumène ibéro-américain (partie du monde de culture
ibéro-américaine) est constitué par tous les traits que vous
mentionnez. Il existe une langue commune, l’espagnol, qui est parlé
par plus de 460 millions d’habitants, chiffre auquel il faut ajouter
les 200 millions de lusophones pour lesquels le castillan est une
langue commode et facile à comprendre. C’est une donnée géopolitique
incontournable pour la formation du grand espace ibéro-américain.
L’autre donnée est la continuité territoriale qui permet d’assurer une
communication vitale. Les grands transports se font par terre. Ainsi,
les millions de Boliviens, Péruviens, Chiliens et Paraguayens, qui
vivent en Argentine, ne sont pas arrivés par bateaux ou par avion (ce
qu’ils auraient pu faire), mais par terre. Il en est de même des
milliers d’Argentins qui vivent en Équateur. Et le même phénomène se
produit en Amérique centrale alors qu’en Amérique du Nord, les
États-Unis tentent de faire obstacle à la continuité territoriale par
des kilomètres de murailles ou de barbelés électrifiés.

La religion est le second trait commun de l’Amérique hispanique.  Le
catholicisme y est assumé de façon hétérodoxe, c’est-à-dire en
cultivant le mélange de traditions et de coutumes ancestrales, comme
le culte de la Pachamama ou d’autres du même genre, sans gêner pour
autant le message du Christ.

Il est certain, nous l’avons dit, que la religion chrétienne dans sa
forme évangélique est utilisée politiquement comme élément de
domination et de distanciation par rapport à nous même, mais
l’assemblage profond, produit de cinq siècles d’inculturation du
catholicisme ou d’adaptation de l’Évangile par l’Église, a fini par
transformer un fait religieux en une donnée distinctive
anthropo-culturelle de l’homme ibéro-américain.

Reste enfin, « l’ennemi commun », incarné par « l’Anglais » ou le «
yankee », qui est l’élément donnant la cohésion à cette communauté

Pour ma part, j’ai soutenu, au nom de la CGT Argentine, lors du Second
Forum social mondial de Porto Alegre (2002), la théorie du « rombo »
(losange) en tant que proposition géostratégique pour la création du
grand espace sud-américain. Cette théorie soutient que le heartland
peut être constitué par l’union des quatre sommets du losange que sont
Buenos Aires, Lima, Caracas et Brasilia. Ce heartland possède 50 000
kilomètres de voies navigables dont les eaux sont profondes, des
réserves gigantesques de minéraux et d’immenses terres labourables et
cultivables. En un mot, il possède tous les éléments nécessaires pour
constituer un « grand espace autocentré » à l’intérieur de la
diversité du monde.

7. Arnaud Imatz : Le Marché commun du Sud (Mercosur), communauté
économique, crée en 1991, regroupant cinq pays du continent
sud-américain (Argentine, Brésil, Paraguay, Uruguay et Venezuela),
peut-il être considéré comme l’embryon d’un grand espace géopolitique,
économiquement, culturellement et politiquement souverain ?

Alberto Buela : Jusqu’à ce jour, et après vingt ans d’existence, le
Mercosur n’est rien d’autre que le marché de la bourgeoisie
commerciale de Buenos Aires et de Sao Paulo. Le reste est du
carton-pâte. Le Paraguay vit des tensions entre le Brésil et
l’Argentine. L’Uruguay vit de l’argent des porteños (les habitants de
Buenos Aires qui passent leurs vacances dans ce pays et qui y versent
leurs économies). Quant au Venezuela, il vient d’être admis cette
année, et il est donc trop tôt pour se prononcer.

De toute façon, il manque beaucoup d’éléments à cet embryon de grand
espace pour se constituer et se développer. Il est vrai que diverses
institutions ont été créées à ses côtés au cours des ans, comme la «
Communauté sud-américaine des nations », la « Banque du sud », «
l’Union des nations sud-américaines (UNASUR), mais le vrai problème
est que nous n’avons pas la volonté profonde et autonome de nous
auto-constituer en grand espace. Et je m’appuie sur deux raisons pour
le dire :

- Le Brésil, ou pour mieux dire Itamaraty, son ministère des Affaires
étrangères, n’a jamais admis d’intromission sur l’Amazone à partir des
Républiques hispaniques. Il ne permet pas l’accès par les voies
navigables à l’Argentine, à l’Uruguay ou au Paraguay via les fleuves
Paraná et Paraguay. Il ne permet pas non plus au Venezuela de
construire un oléoduc trans-amazonique pour alimenter les pays du Cône

- Ensuite, et surtout, il n’existe pas d’« arcane » ou de « secret
profond partagé » par nos leaders politiques, qui est la condition
sine qua non de l’existence de tout grand espace.

8. Arnaud Imatz : La restauration de l’unité de l’Amérique hispanique,
sous différents modèles, est le rêve de beaucoup d’intellectuels et de
quelques hommes politiques. Elle était même déjà, et paradoxalement,
au centre des préoccupations des figures historiques de
l’indépendantisme Francisco de Miranda et Simon Bolivar. Pouvez-vous
nous présenter brièvement les principaux penseurs du « grand espace
ibéro-américain » ?

Alberto Buela : Les principaux penseurs de l’unité hispano-américaine
se sont fondés sur l’identité de nos peuples, sur leur passé culturel
commun et sur leurs luttes nationales contre l’ennemi commun :
l’impérialisme anglo-nord-américain. Certains avaient des convictions
socialistes, comme l’argentin Manuel Baldomero Ugarte (1875-1951),
d’autres nationalistes, comme le mexicain José Vasconcelos (1882-1959)
ou le nicaraguayen Julio Ycasa Tigerino (1919-2001), d’autres
démocrates-chrétiens, comme le costaricain José Figueres (1906-1990)
ou encore marxistes, comme le péruvien José Carlos Mariátegui
(1894-1930). Chacun entendait l’unité à partir de ses présupposés

9. Arnaud Imatz : Les mouvements nationaux continentaux d’Amérique
ibérique ont pour caractéristiques l’anti-impérialisme et
l’anticommunisme. Ils se réclament souvent de la troisième position et
du populisme démocratique dont le principal objectif est pour eux la
restauration de la convivialité ou de la sociabilité partagée. Vous
avez déjà mentionné leurs grands leaders historiques, en particulier
Sandino, Haya de la Torre, Vargas, Ibañez del Campo et Perón. Ces
personnages ont-ils encore un écho dans l’opinion publique
ibéro-américaine ?

Alberto Buela : Sandino, au Nicaragua, n’a plus d’autre existence que
culturelle, car le gouvernement de Daniel Ortega, qui s’en réclame,
n’a plus rien à voir avec lui. Haya au Pérou et Ibañez au Chili ont
pratiquement disparu de la scène politique. Le cas de Vargas au Brésil
est différent parce que le PT (Parti des Travailleurs), qui est au
pouvoir depuis l’époque de Lula, et la CUT (Centrale unique des
travailleurs) se disent ses successeurs.

L’exemple de Perón mérite cependant qu’on s’y attarde. À la différence
des autres, il est toujours d’actualité en Argentine, non pas parce
qu’il aurait été bon ou mauvais au pouvoir, mais parce qu’il a laissé
une institution qui s’est consolidée dans la société civile : le
syndicat. Tant qu’il y aura des syndicats en Argentine le péronisme
vivra. Quant à savoir ce qu’est le péronisme c’est une autre question.
Le sociologue italien antifasciste, Gino Germani, qui avait vécu 15
ans en Argentine, est parti aux États-Unis en disant : « Je m’en vais
parce qu’en tant que sociologue je n’ai pas réussi à comprendre ce
qu’est le péronisme ».

10. Arnaud Imatz : Cela me rappelle une blague fameuse, dont on
attribue souvent la paternité à Juan Perón : «  En Argentine il y a
30% de socialistes, 30% de conservateurs, 30% de libéraux et 10% de
communistes. Et les péronistes alors ? Ah mais non ! tous sont
péronistes ». Que reste-t-il donc aujourd’hui du péronisme ? A-t-il
encore un contenu idéologique ? Est-il seulement une coquille vide, un
appareil politique qui permet d’occuper des postes ?

Alberto Buela : Écoutez, j’ai écrit un long essai intitulé Notes sur
le péronisme, qui a aussi été édité sous le titre de Théorie du
péronisme, je vais essayer de vous le définir en quelques mots. Le
péronisme est un nationalisme de « Grande patrie », de caractère
populaire, qui considère que la majorité a raison. Son contenu
idéologique se résume dans le postulat : justice sociale, indépendance
économique et souveraineté politique. Il privilégie les organisations
communautaires, les organisations libres du peuple, sur les
institutions de l’État. Il affirme être : « un gouvernement
centralisé, un État décentralisé et un peuple librement organisé ».

Pour ce qui est du Parti péroniste ou justicialiste, il est, comme
vous dites, une coquille vide et un instrument politique, qui permet
aux dirigeants d’occuper les postes lucratifs de l’Etat et de
s’enrichir pour une ou deux générations sans travailler.

11. Arnaud Imatz : L’Argentine a connu la pire crise de son histoire
économique en 2001-2002.  Après la fin de la parité peso-dollar, la
déclaration de cessation des paiements aux organismes internationaux
et l’abandon des mesures néolibérales, le pays a connu le renouveau
des politiques de signe national,  l’interventionnisme de l’Etat, la
croissance… mais aussi l’inflation. Depuis 2008, le pays est retombé
dans la récession et l’hyperinflation. C’est, semble-t-il, le retour à
la case départ. Que pensez-vous des  bilans présidentiels de Néstor
Kirchner et de sa femme Cristina Fernández Kirchner ?

Alberto Buela : L’Argentine est sortie de la terrible crise de
2001-2002 grâce à la gestion de son ministre de l’Économie, Roberto
Lavagna, qui a adopté et permis d’adopter aux provinces (n’oubliez pas
que l’Argentine est un État fédéral) des mesures économiques
incompatibles avec les mesures proposées par le Fonds monétaire
international et les organismes internationaux de crédit. Je me
souviens de celle qui eut le plus d’impact sur la vie quotidienne : la
création de pseudo-monnaies, qui permettaient d’acheter mais pas
d’épargner, car elles perdaient chaque jour de la valeur. Le résultat
a été une réactivation explosive de l’économie argentine qui, jusque
là, était  paralysée. La consommation et la demande ont augmenté de
façon exponentielle. Dans un pays ou la capacité économique était de
400 milliards de dollars (en 2001-2002), l’effet fut de multiplier par
100 la richesse nationale.

Le premier gouvernement du couple Kirchner profita de cette
réactivation et de la situation économique mondiale qui privilégiait
alors les marchandises (viandes, graminées et pétrole). Le bilan
global fut plutôt un succès. Mais cette croissance s’est rompue à
partir de 2007. La nouvelle donne est devenue manifeste au cours du
long gouvernement (2007-2012) de Mme Kirchner. L’économie argentine
est aujourd’hui en panne, la croissance est proche de zéro. La
politique que privilégie le gouvernement est celle des subsides au «
non-travail » plutôt qu’à la création d’emplois. L’insécurité et
l’inflation, véritable impôt sur les pauvres, pèsent lourdement sur la

12. Arnaud Imatz : À ce jour, quel est le poids respectif des
différentes idéologies que sont le socialisme-marxiste, la
social-démocratie, le nationalisme et le populisme dans l’ensemble de
l’Amérique ibérique ? Qu’en est-il de l’influence de la théologie de
la libération, si répandue dans les années 1970-1980 ?

Alberto Buela : L’ensemble des pays ibéro-américains constitue une
masse de vingt États-nations où deux formes de gouvernements se
détachent. Il y a, d’une part, la social-démocratie, avec des
gouvernements du type Zapatero, comme hier en Espagne, ou Hollande,
comme aujourd’hui en France. Parmi eux : Roussef (Brésil), Kirchner
(Argentine), Correa (Équateur), Mujica (Uruguay) et les indigénistes
Chávez (Venezuela) et Morales (Bolivia). Je sais que certains
s’étonneront de voir ces deux derniers dans la liste, mais les faits
sont ce qu’ils sont. J’ai d’ailleurs eu l’occasion de parler avec
Morales et plus encore avec Chávez et je juge donc en connaissance de

Il y a, d’autre part, la forme libérale de gouvernement, comme Rajoy
aujourd’hui en Espagne et Sarkozy hier en France. Parmi eux : Piñera
(Chili), Santos (Colombie), Franco (Paraguay), Peña (Mexique) et
Humala (Pérou). Quant aux pays d’Amérique centrale, ils se divisent à
parts égales entre ces deux formes de gouvernement.

Si nous voulions classer ces gouvernements en utilisant, comme en
Europe, les catégories de populisme, nationalisme, gauche ou droite,
nous ne rendrions pas vraiment compte de la réalité. Tous se déclarent
en effet expressément populistes, nationalistes et de gauche. Cela
dit, la question de la signification de ces trois concepts ne manque
pas de resurgir aussi chez nous.

Ce qui est intéressant de noter, c’est que tous les gouvernements de
type social-démocrate se caractérisent par une dissonance entre ce
qu’ils disent dans leur discours politique et ce qu’ils font. Ainsi en
Argentine, on parle de lutte contre la concentration des groupements
économiques et l’on associe la principale entreprise de l’État, YPF
(Yacimientos petrolíferos fiscales) à la société nord-américaine
Chevron. En Uruguay, le président Mujica nous parle de libération et
prétend créer une entreprise nationale … pour planter et
commercialiser la marijuana.

À côté, les gouvernements de type libéral se caractérisent par une
plus grande efficacité économique dans la gestion administrative du
bien public, mais leur discours politique est d’une pauvreté
idéologique lamentable.

En ce qui concerne la théologie de la libération, elle n’est plus
d’actualité dans notre Amérique. N’oublions pas qu’elle était plus un
programme à réaliser qu’une construction concrète. Et aujourd’hui, les
quelques théologiens qui s’en réclament encore sont des fonctionnaires
des gouvernements sociaux-démocrates.

13. Arnaud Imatz : Et le socialisme-marxiste cubain, si à la mode dans
les années 1960-1970 ?

Alberto Buela : Sur Cuba j’ai une anecdote intéressante. J’ai été
invité par Chávez, en 2005, avec trois membres du comité directeur de
la CGT argentine. Chávez souhaitait alors fonder la « CGT bolivarienne
» et je me suis retrouvé, à Caracas, au milieu de 2500 délégués
hispano-américains arborant tous la chemisette rouge. Il y avait là
des membres du Front Farabundo Marti de Libération nationale du
Salvador, des Colombiens, des Brésiliens de la CUT (tous communistes)
et bien sûr les principaux représentants de la CGT de Cuba. Au nom de
la CGT argentine, j’ai fait la brève déclaration suivante : « Sans
vouloir se quereller avec Castro, ni avec le « petit » Correa
(dirigeant de la CGT de Cuba), nous disons qu’en 40 ans le mouvement
ouvrier institutionnel de Cuba n’a jamais négocié une seule convention
collective du travail et que par conséquent il n’a aucune légitimité
pour représenter les travailleurs cubains. Si Chávez adopte un
semblable modèle syndical, l’effet sera aussi étouffant que celui  de
« l’accolade de l’ours ». Et j’ai ajouté : Géopolitiquement, Cuba ne
signifie rien ni pour l’Amérique hispanique, ni pour Yankeeland, alors
que le Venezuela a beaucoup d’importance en raison de son pétrole ».
Je voulais dire par là que la ligne politique de Cuba n’affecte en
rien la politique et la géopolitique de l’Amérique hispanique. Ce que
d’ailleurs Castro lui même n’ignorait pas. Lorsqu’il se rendit en
Argentine, en 2007, après avoir pris connaissance de la « la théorie
du losange », il déclara sans détours (et la presse de l’époque en
témoigne) qu’il était tout-à-fait d’accord avec elle, qu’il n’avait
jamais rien entendu de plus anti-impérialiste, mais qu’il fallait
exclure Cuba pour ne pas compliquer davantage la réalisation du

14. Arnaud Imatz : 50 millions d’hispanophones vivent aujourd’hui aux
États-Unis. Ils dépasseront les 25% de la population en 2050. Dans un
article retentissant, écrit peu de temps avant sa mort (« Le défi
hispanique », Foreign Policy, 1er mars 2004), Samuel Huntington
s’inquiétait de cette situation. Il jugeait l’immigration « hispanique
», en particulier mexicaine, trop massive. Concentrée dans certains
États, elle n’aurait plus rien à voir, selon lui, avec l’immigration
traditionnelle aux sources et destinations beaucoup plus dispersées.
La division culturelle serait en passe de remplacer la division
raciale entre Noirs et Blancs. La reconquête du sud des États-Unis par
les mexicains immigrants serait en marche. Il serait désormais
tout-à-fait envisageable que ces États du sud se joignent à ceux du
nord du Mexique pour constituer une nouvelle République du nord :
MexAmérica. Ces inquiétudes de Huntington vous semblent-elles fondées

Alberto Buela : Le travail d’Huntington, que j’ai étudié avec
attention, est une forte invitation à la réflexion sur les
conséquences d’une immigration hispanique massive aux États-Unis.
Cependant, son analyse exclusivement politologique laisse de côté un
important aspect économique. Il ne tient pas compte de la force
économique du marché nord-américain, qui est le plus puissant du
monde, et qui a tous les jours davantage besoin de travailleurs

Dans les années 1940-1950, les Hispano-américains, qui allaient aux
États-Unis, voulaient que leurs enfants parlent l’anglais. Comme ils
subissaient une sorte de capitis deminutio (diminution de leurs
droits), ils souhaitaient que leur progéniture s’incorpore rapidement
à la société nord-américaine. Aujourd’hui, la situation s’est
inversée. Les immigrants parlant deux langues sont avantagés sur le
marché du travail. Cette nouvelle donne affecte plus particulièrement
les Noirs qui, parce qu’ils sont monolingues, perdent des postes de

Je ne crois pas qu’il y ait un risque d’occupation hispanique des
États-Unis, et cela d’autant moins qu’il n’y pas de plan établi en ce
sens. En revanche, ce qui existe aux États-Unis c’est une tendance
vers la société bilingue qui va permettre aux « yankees »,
contrairement à ce que pensait Huntington, une meilleure implantation
dans le monde.

Les nord-américains sont en train de réaliser, peut-être sans le
vouloir expressément, ce que les français ne font pas : profiter du
développement exponentiel de l’espagnol au niveau mondial pour
améliorer leur positionnement international.

Il faut en outre souligner  que tout le progrès technologique
(Internet, Web 2.0, tablettes, etc.) renforce le contact et le lien
des immigrés avec leurs racines. Le déracinement ne se vit plus
aujourd’hui comme il y a cinquante ans et le maintien des usages et
coutumes est devenu plus solide. La preuve : la plus grande fête du «
jour de la race » ou de l’hispanité, le 12 octobre, est célébrée à New
York et à Miami et non pas à Madrid.

15. Arnaud Imatz : Vous avez déclaré récemment dans un journal
madrilène : « Si le Premier ministre espagnol échoue dans sa politique
de redressement économique, il entrainera avec lui l’Espagne et au
passage vingt nations d’Amérique ». Pourquoi ? Quelle pourrait être,
selon vous, une bonne politique étrangère de l’Espagne et plus
généralement de l’UE en Amérique centrale et du Sud ?

Alberto Buela : Les gouvernements espagnols postfranquistes se sont
trompés d’option stratégique en se prononçant pour l’Union européenne
au lieu de choisir l’option américaine. Ces gouvernements
sociaux-démocrates ou libéraux sont des produits du complexe espagnol
de « L’Europe se termine aux Pyrénées ». Aucun d’entre eux n’a pris le
taureau par les cornes pour dire : « L’Espagne n’a pas a démontré ce
qui est un fait. L’Espagne doit assumer sa vocation américaine ».
C’est en Amérique que l’Espagne a acquis son sens dans l’histoire du
monde et non pas en Europe, même si elle en est un pays fondateur
depuis l’Hispanie romaine.

L’Espagnol, disciple des Lumières, est un homme très complexé face à
la France et ce qui est français. Ce complexe ou cette dévalorisation
de soi est ce qui a conduit à la grave erreur de préférer l’Europe à
l’Amérique hispanique, alors que celle-ci ouvre à l’Espagne des
potentialités illimitées sur le plan économique et culturel.

Tous les gouvernements postfranquistes ont renoncé expressément à
prendre la tête de cette communauté à laquelle ils appartiennent et
qui leur appartient de plein droit, au nom d’un européisme vide qui
les a finalement transformés en mendiants de l’Union européenne.

Quant à l’Union européenne, à mon avis celle-ci se limite avant tout à
l’entente Allemagne-France. L’Allemagne n’a que trois options
possibles: 1) le lien avec la Russie, 2) l’union avec les États-Unis
ou 3) l’entente avec la France (situation actuelle). Mais il n’y a pas
d’option ibéro-américaine pour elle. La communauté ibéro-américaine
n’est pas une priorité pour l’Allemagne. Le seul lien sérieux et
plausible de l’UE avec l’Amérique ibérique ne peut passer que par
l’Hexagone. La France, bernée et déçue d’investir en Afrique sans
aucun résultat positif, pourrait inviter ses partenaires européens à
se tourner vers notre Amérique.

dimanche, 03 mars 2013

Mitteleuropa: Ursprung des Germanischen?


Mitteleuropa: Ursprung des Germanischen?

Ex: http://www.genius.co.at/

Wolfram EULER (und Konrad Badenheuer, graphische Gestaltung), Sprache und Herkunft der Germanen. Abriss des Protogermanischen vor der Ersten Lautverschiebung. Hamburg – London, Verlag Inspiration Un-Limited 2009, ISBN 978-3- 9812110-1-6, 244 S., 29 farbige Abbildungen, € 29,90.

Buchbesprechung von Heinz-Dieter Pohl

Dieses ausgezeichnete Buch ist der Frühgeschichte des Germanischen gewidmet. Die germanische Sprachfamilie selbst, mit über 500 Millionen Muttersprachlern eine der größten der Welt, ist ein Glied in der indogermanischen (auch indoeuropäisch genannten) Sprachfamilie, die aus gut einem Dutzend weiterer Sprachen und Sprachfamilien besteht (u.a. Keltisch, Italisch [dazu Lateinisch, woraus Romanisch] Baltisch, Slawisch, Indoiranisch [woraus Iranisch und Indoarisch], Albanisch, Griechisch, Armenisch und einige ausgestorbene Sprachen). Ausgangspunkt der Darstellung ist das Protogermanische, also jene Sprachform, die dem eigentlichen Urgermanischen zugrunde liegt. Dieses hat ja bereits die „Erste“ oder germanische Lautverschiebung (in vorchristlicher Zeit, s.u.) durchgeführt; die „Zweite“ oder hochdeutsche Lautverschiebung ist erst später (frühestens um die Mitte des ersten nachchristlichen Jahrtausends) eingetreten. Von den beiden Lautverschiebungen waren die Konsonanten betroffen.

Der Verfasser vertritt die Auffassung, dass die erste Lautverschiebung im 5./4. Jhdt. v. Chr. einsetzt und schließlich im 1. Jhdt. v. Chr. abgeschlossen war. Das zugrunde liegende indogermanische Lautinventar wird traditionell beschrieben, also nicht im Sinne der „Glottaltheorie“. Insgesamt gesehen wird der Sprachzustand des Germanischen vor den Wanderbewegungen der Germanen, wie er beim Einsetzen der Lautverschiebung bestanden hat, erstmals zusammenfassend beschrieben; es ist die Zeit rund 600 (und vielleicht auch etwas mehr) Jahre vor den ersten überlieferten gotischen Texten. Erst mit der Lautverschiebung vollzieht sich der Übergang vom Protogermanischen zum Urgermanischen. Diese betraf die Verschlusslaute; die stimmlosen (Tenues) wurden zu Reibelauten (p t k kw > f þ χ χw),[1] die stimmhaften (Mediae) zu stimmlosen (also b d g gw > p t k kw) und die behauchten (Mediae aspiratae, also bh dh gh gwh) wurden zunächst zu stimmhaften Reibelauten und dann weiter zu b d g gw. Zur Zeit der Lautverschiebung war der Wortakzent (Betonung) noch variabel, d.h. jede Silbe konnte den Ton tragen und der konnte sich in der Flexion ändern. Die Tenues wurden im Inlaut nur dann zu stimmlosen Reibelauten, wenn der Ton auf dem vorangehenden Vokal lag, sonst wurden sie stimmhaft (z.B. gotisch broþar ‚Bruder‘ – fadar ‚Vater‘, althochdeutsch bruoder – fater aus indogermanisch *bhrater –*pətar, vgl. altindisch bhrata – pita).[2] Dies nennt man „Vernersches Gesetz“.

Vor dem Einsetzen der Lautverschiebung hat sich das Protogermanische überwiegend nur im Formensystem gegenüber den indogermanischen Grundlagen gewandelt. Im Bereich des Verbalsystems hat sich das Protogermanische (ähnlich wie das Protobaltische) am stärksten vom indogermanischen Zustand entfernt: erhalten geblieben ist nur das Präsens, das Perfekt wurde zum Präteritum schlechthin; die anderen Tempusformen wurden aufgegeben. Allerdings lebt das indogermanische Perfekt nur im sogenannten „starken“ Verbum (Typus binden – band – gebunden) sowie bei den „Präteritopräsentia“ (s.u.) weiter, bei den schwachen (vielfach abgeleiteten) Verben wurde ein neues „schwaches“ Präteritum gebildet (Typus sagen – sagte – gesagt), wegen des charakteristischen Dentallautes auch „Dentalpräteritum“ genannt. Seine historische Entstehung ist umstritten, seine Entstehungsgeschichte wird vom Verfasser anschaulich erklärt unter Berücksichtigung der verschiedenen Deutungsversuche; teils hat hier das Partizipium auf *-to-, teils das Verbum *do- ‚tun‘ eine große Rolle gespielt (auch das Keltische hat ein t-Präteritum, doch ob bzw. wie beide zusammenhängen muss offen bleiben). Als dritte Verbalklasse treten neben die starken und schwachen Verben die sogenannten Präteritopräsentia, die zwar aus dem indogermanischen Perfekt entstanden sind, aber als Zustandsverben mit resultativer Bedeutung im Germanischen Präsensbedeutung angenommen haben. Auch zu diesen wird dann ein „schwaches“ Präteritum gebildet. Eine Sonderstellung nehmen – wie in allen indogermanischen Sprachen – die hocharchaischen athematischen Verben ein; im Germanischen gehören dazu sein, tun, gehen, stehen und tun sowie wollen.

Das germanische Formensystem (Deklination und Konjugation) wird anschaulich dargestellt, in vielen Übersichten werden die protogermanischen Ausgangsformen den einzelnen altgermanischen Entsprechungen gegenübergestellt und es werden Vergleiche mit den indogermanischen Schwestersprachen gezogen. Auch die Wortbildung (v.a. die Wortzusammensetzung oder Komposition – typisch fürs Germanische im Gegensatz u.a. zum Lateinischen und Slawischen) und die Syntax (Satzlehre) werden behandelt. Interessant sind die Überlegungen zu den typisch germanischen Stilmitteln Metapher und Stabreim. Das Germanische macht nämlich von der Metapher in vorchristlichen Texten (Runeninschriften, Götter-und Heldendichtung) reichlich Gebrauch; diese Tradition setzt sich dann in der altnordischen Dichtung fort. Zwei Beispiele: widuhudaR ‚Waldhund‘ = ‚Wolf‘ oder Beowulf ‚Bienenwolf‘ = ‚Bär‘. Eine Besonderheit in der germanischen Lyrik ist der Stabreim, der in der gesamten altgermanischen Dichtung vorkommt. Historisch kann er erst zu der Zeit entstanden sein, als das Germanische bereits die Wortbetonung auf die erste Silbe des Wortes festgelegt hatte; im Laufe des Mittelalters wurde der Stab-durch den Endreim nach und nach abgelöst, doch Relikte haben sich bis heute erhalten – in Redewendungen wie Kind und Kegel oder mit Mann und Maus.

In Mitteldeutschland entstanden

Bezüglich des germanischen Wortschatzes zeigt Wolfram Euler, dass das Germanische in bestimmten Wortfeldern sehr altertümlich ist, so haben die Verwandtschaftsbezeichnungen (Vater, Tochter, Bruder usw.) und die meisten Körperteile (Auge, Nase usw.) und Tiere Entsprechungen auch in anderen indogermanischen Sprachen, einige Körperteile (z.B. Hand, Lunge, Zehe) und Tiere (z. B. Bär, Lamm) sind jedoch germanische Neubildungen. Solche gibt es Bereich des Grundwortschatzes nicht wenig, (z.B. Himmel, Erde, Schwert, Blut, trinken, Winter). Die Gründe dafür sind vielfältig.

Am Ende des Buches werden zahlreiche Textproben geboten, so u.a. die berühmte, auf August Schleicher zurückgehende Fabel „Das Schaf und die Pferde“ (indogermanisch – Proto-und Urgermanisch) sowie germanische „Vaterunser“-Paralleltexte (spätur-und protogermanisch – Gotisch – Althochdeutsch – Altenglisch – Isländisch), wodurch ein guter Einblick in die Struktur und Entwicklung der germanischen Sprachen geboten wird.

Auch zur „Urheimat“ der Germanen äußert sich der Verfasser. Er vermeidet allerdings aus guten Gründen diesen Terminus und spricht lieber vom Entstehungsgebiet. Auf Grund zahlreicher archäologischer Überlegungen und den Beziehungen zu den Kelten kommt Wolfram Euler zum Schluss, dass das Protogermanische im Mitteldeutschland entstanden ist (daher „mitteldeutsche Theorie“, auszugehen ist von einem Raum nördlich des Erzgebirges westlich der Elbe und südlich der Aller); dafür sprechen u.a. die alteuropäischen Gewässernamen, zu denen es in diesem Gebiet fließende Übergänge zu germanischen Namen gibt, die anderswo fehlen. Der zeitliche Rahmen ist ein Zusammenhang mit der Jastorf-Kultur (in der „vorrömischen Eisenzeit“). Skandinavien, das man lange (und auch ideologisch motiviert) für die „Urheimat“ der Germanen gehalten hat, ist also auszuschließen. Vielmehr kam es in Mitteleuropa zur Ausbildung und Entfaltung der germanischen Sprachen und Völker in einem Spannungsfeld zwischen dem Keltischen im Westen und Südwesten, Italischen im Süden, Baltischen im Nordosten und Slawischen im Osten.

Besonders hervorgehoben seien die zahlreichen schönen (farbigen) Abbildungen; schon auf dem Umschlag prangt der Sonnenwagen von Trundholm, der in die mittlere Bronzezeit zu datieren ist, auf der Vorderseite die „Tagseite“, auf der Buchrückseite die „Nachtseite“ des im Kopenhagener Nationalmuseum aufbewahrten Gefährts. Wer sich für die Frühgeschichte der Germanen und deren Sprache(n) interessiert, dem sei dieses Buch wärmstens empfohlen.


[1] Die Zeichen þ  χ stehen für th (= englisches th) und ch.

[2] Die Buchstaben a o usw. bezeichnen Langvokale.

Die Auszeichnung der Langvokale findet sich nur in der den Abonennten zugänglichen PDF-Ausgabe

Bearbeitungsstand: Montag, 28. Jänner 2013

samedi, 02 mars 2013

Roberto Michels: un socialismo verdaderamente superador de las oligarquías

Michels (1)

Roberto Michels: un socialismo verdaderamente superador de las oligarquías

Alessandro Campi


 1. Roberto Michels, un hombre, una carrera

Recientemente (1), pudimos cele­brar el cincuenta aniversario de la muerte de Roberto Michels, el gran sociólogo italo-germano, principal representante, junto a Vilfredo Pareto y Gaetano Mosca, de la escuela “elitista” italiana. Michels nació en Colonia (Köln) en 1876, en el seno de una familia de ricos comerciantes de ascendencia alemana, flamenca y francesa. Tras los estudios iniciados en el Liceo francés de Berlín y pro­seguidos en Inglaterra, en Francia y en la capital de Baviera, Munich, ob­tiene su doctorado en Halle en 1900, bajo la égida de Droysen, gracias a una tesis entorno a la argumentación histórica. Desde su primera juven­tud, milita activamente en el seno del partido socialista, lo cual le granjea la hostilidad de las autoridades aca­démicas y dificulta considerable­mente su inserción en los medios uni­versitarios. En 1901, gracias al apoyo de Max Weber, obtiene su primer puesto de profesor en la Universidad de Marburgo.

Sus contactos con los medios socia­listas belgas, italianos y franceses son numerosos y estrechos. Entre 1904 y 1908, colabora en el mensual francés Le Mouvement socialiste (“El Movi­miento socialista”) y participa, en ca­lidad de delegado, en diversos con­gresos social-demócratas. Este pe­ríodo resulta decisivo para Michels, pues entra en contacto con Georges Sorel, Edouard Berth y los sindica­listas revolucionarios italianos Artu­ro Labriola y Enrico Leone. Bajo su influencia, empieza a perfilarse el proceso de revisión del marxismo teórico así como la crítica del reformismo de los dirigentes socialistas. La concepción activista, voluntarista y antiparlamentaria que Michels tie­ne del socialismo no se concilia en absoluto con la involución parlamentarista y burocrática del movimiento social-demócrata. Este hiato le lleva a abandonar gradualmente la políti­ca activa y a intensificar sus investigaciones científicas. A partir de 1905, Max Weber le invita para que colabore en la prestigiosa revista Archiv tur Sozialwissenschaft und Sozialpolitik. En 1907, obtiene una cá­tedra en la Universidad de Turín, en la cual entra en contacto con Mosca, con el economista Einaudi y con el antropólogo Lombroso. En este fe­cundo clima universitario, va toman­do cuerpo el proyecto de su obra fundamental, Zur Soziologie des Parteiwesens. Durante la guerra de Trípo­li, Michels toma partido a favor de los proyectos imperiales de Italia y contra el expansionismo alemán. De este modo, empieza su acercamiento hacia el movimiento nacionalista italiano; si bien, obviamente, no es de extrañar, sus relaciones con Max Weber se deterioran irremediable­mente.

• Un trabajo fecundo, durante el período italiano

Al iniciarse la Primera Guerra Mundial, en 1914, se instala en la Universidad de Basilea, Suiza. Es el período durante el cual Michels es­trecha sus lazos con Pareto y con el economista Maffeo Pantaleoni. En 1922, saluda con simpatía la victoria de Benito Mussolini y del Fascismo. Vuelve definitivamente a Italia en 1928 para asumir la cátedra de Eco­nomía General en la Facultad de Ciencias Políticas de la Universidad de Perugia. Al mismo tiempo, impar­te como enseñante en el Instituto Cesare Alfieri de Florencia. Ade­más, en aquella época, ofrece nume­rosas conferencias y cursos tanto en Italia como allende las fronteras de ésta, por toda Europa. Sus artículos aparecen en la famosa Encyclopae­dia of the Social Sciences (1931). Fi­nalmente, muere en Roma a la edad de sesenta años, el 2 de Mayo de 1936.

Hombre de una vastísima cultura, educado en un medio cosmopolita, atento observador de los diversos movimientos políticos y sociales eu­ropeos habidos a caballo entre los siglos XIX y XX, Michels fue, por otra parte, un historiador del socialismo europeo, un crítico de la democracia parlamentaria y un analista de los distintos tipos de organización so­cial, un teórico del sindicalismo re­volucionario y del nacionalismo, así como un historiador de la economía y del imperialismo italiano. Del mis­mo modo, sus inquietudes e intereses le llevaron a estudiar el Fascismo, los fenómenos de la emigración, el pen­samiento corporativista y los oríge­nes del capitalismo. A su manera, continuó en el proceso de profundización de la psicología política crea­do por Gustave Le Bon y se interesó, a este respecto, por el comporta­miento de las masas obreras politiza­das. Igualmente, abordó ciertos te­mas que, en su época, pasaban por ser más bien excéntricos o heterodo­xos, tales como el estudio de las rela­ciones entre moral sexual y clases so­ciales, de los lazos entre la actividad laboriosa y el espíritu de la raza, de la nobleza europea, del comporta­miento de los intelectuales y esbozó, asimismo, un primer cuadro del mo­vimiento feminista. Además, no olvi­demos en esta enumeración, men­cionar sus estudios estadísticos, tan­to en economía como en demografía, notablemente con respecto al con­trol de los nacimientos y otras cues­tiones interrelacionadas.

2. El redescubrimiento de una obra

Como he señalado anteriormente, su libro más importante y más cono­cido lleva por título, Zur Soziologie des Parteiwesens in der modernen Demokratie; fue publicado por pri­mera vez en 1911 y por segunda vez en 1925 (siendo esta edición la edi­ción definitiva). Se trata de un estu­dio sistemático, consagrado a las re­laciones entre la democracia y los partidos, a la selección de las clases políticas, a las relaciones entre las minorías activas y las masas y al “leadership”. La bibliografía de Michels comprende treinta libros y cerca de 700 artículos y ensayos, de los cuales muchísimos merecerían volver a ser reeditados (2). Su principal libro ha sido traducido a lo largo del tiempo al castellano, al francés, al inglés, al italiano, etc.

A pesar de la amplitud temática, la profundidad y la actualidad de un buen número de los análisis de Michels, su obra, en general, no ha go­zado del éxito que se merece. En mu­chos países europeos, se la cita mal a propósito y faltan las obras críticas válidas. Sin embargo, para compen­sar tal situación, diversos han sido los estudios serios que han aparecido en los Estados Unidos, especialmente versados entorno a las aportaciones de Michels a la teoría del partido po­lítico y a la definición del Fascismo (3). Sus simpatías por el movimiento de Mussolini son, evidentemente, uno de los (principales) motivos que han llevado a la ‘ostracización’ de su obra a lo largo de toda nuestra post­guerra. Es un destino que ha com­partido con otros intelectuales, co­mo, por ejemplo y entre otros mu­chos, Giovanni Gentile (4). Otro mo­tivo: la difusión en Europa de méto­dos sociológicos americanos, de ca­rácter empírico, descriptivo, estadís­tico o crítico/utópico y que no pres­tan demasiada atención al análisis de los conceptos y a las dimensiones his­tóricas e institucionales de los fenó­menos sociales. El estilo científico de Michels, de carácter realista/’realitario’, anti-ideológico, desmitifican­te y dinámico, ha sido injustamente considerado como desfasado, como la expresión anacrónica de una acti­tud eminentemente conservadora (5).

• Se anuncia un regreso de Mi­chels

Sin embargo, desde hace algunos años (relativamente recientemente), la situación ha empezado a cambiar, sobretodo en Italia, país que Michels consideraba como su “nueva patria”. En 1966, se publica, junto a un estu­dio preliminar de Juan Linz, una tra­ducción de Zur Soziologie des Parteiwesens (6). En 1979, aparece una selección de ensayos bajo la direc­ción del especialista americano Ja­mes Gregor (7). Asimismo, una an­tología de escritos relativos a la so­ciología aparece en 1980 (8). Dos años más tarde, la Universidad de Perugia organiza un coloquio sobre el tema “Michels entre la política y la sociología”, con la participación de los más eminentes sociólogos italianos (9). Con ocasión del cincuenta aniversario de su muerte, otras de sus publicaciones son incluidas en los programas de los editores. Las ediciones ‘UTET’ anunciaron una amplia colección de “escritos políti­cos”. La editorial ‘Giuffré’ previo, dentro de su prestigiosa colección Arcana Imperii, una antología dirigi­da por Ettore Albertoni y G. Sola, que llevaría por título Dottrine et istituzioni politiche (“Doctrina e insti­tuciones políticas”). Este mismo edi­tor tenía igualmente en mente la pu­blicación de una traducción italiana de Sozialismus und Faschismus in Italien (“Socialismo y Fascismo en Italia”), obra que apareció inicialmente en 1925.

Una contribución reciente en el re­descubrimiento de Michels puede encontrarse en el libro del profesor israelita Zeev Sternhell, consagrado a la génesis de la ideología fascista en Francia (10). Según Sternhell, Mi­chels, al igual que Sorel, Lagardelle y De Man, encarnan en sí la corrien­te “revisionista”, que, entre 1900 y 1930, aporta una decisiva contribu­ción a la demolición de los funda­mentos mecanicistas y deterministas del marxismo teórico y, a la crítica del economicismo y del reduccionismo materialista. Michels favorece de este modo la difusión de una concep­ción de la acción política fundada so­bre la idea de nación y no en la de cla­se, conectada a una ética fuerte y a una visión libre de la dinámica histó­rica y social. Según numerosos auto­res, es ahí donde residen los funda­mentos en los cuales maduró el Fas­cismo con su programa de organiza­ción corporativa, de justicia social, de encuadramiento jerárquico de las instituciones políticas y de limitación de las corrupciones debidas al parla­mentarismo y al pluralismo partitocrático.

Michels estuvo en contacto con las más eminentes personalidades polí­ticas e intelectuales de su época, ta­les como Brentano, Werner Sombart, Mussolini, Pareto, Mosca, La­gardelle, Sorel, Schmoller, Niceforo, etc. Lo que sin embargo y en consecuencia nos falta todavía, es pues, una buena biografía. A este respec­to, sería muy interesante publicar sus cartas y su diario personal; estos dos elementos contribuirían enorme­mente a iluminar un período harto significativo de la cultura europea enmarcado en estos últimos cien años.

3. La fase sindicalista

Dentro del pensamiento de Mi­chels, podemos distinguir claramen­te dos fases. La primera coincide con el abandono de la ortodoxia marxista inicial y con una aproximación al sindicalismo revolucionario y al revi­sionismo teórico. La segunda, la más fecunda desde el punto de vista cien­tífico, coincide con el descubrimien­to de la teoría de Mosca sobre la “cla­se política” y la de Pareto sobre la inevitable “circulación de las élites”. Vamos, a continuación, a examinar brevemente, aunque con toda la atención necesaria, estas dos fases.

Tras haber publicado numerosos artículos de prensa y pronunciado numerosas alocuciones durante di­versos congresos y debates políticos, los primeros estudios importantes de Michels aparecen entre 1905 y 1908 en la (excelente) revista “Archiv”, di­rigida por Max Weber. Particular­mente significativos son los artículos consagrados a “La social-democracia, sus militantes y sus estructuras” y a las “Asociaciones. Investigaciones críticas”, aparecidos en lengua ale­mana, respectivamente en 1906 y en 1907. En ellos Michels analiza la he­gemonía de la social-democracia alemana sobre los movimientos obreros internacionales y también contempla a través de ellos la posibilidad de una unificación ideológica entre los diversos componentes del socialismo europeo. Este proceder, inscribe simultáneamente las contra­dicciones teóricas y prácticas del partido obrero alemán: de un lado, la retórica revolucionaria y el reconocimiento de la huelga general como forma privilegiada de lucha y, por otro lado, la táctica parlamentaria, el legalismo, el oportunismo y la voca­ción por el compromiso. Michels cri­tica el “prudencialismo” de los jefes social-demócratas, sin por lo tanto favorecer la espontaneidad popular o las formas de autogestión obrera de la lucha sindicalista. Según Mi­chels, la acción revolucionaria debe ser dirigida y organizada y, desde es­te punto de vista, los intelectuales de­tentan una función decisiva. Pues de­cisivo es el trabajo pedagógico de unificar el partido político. El movi­miento obrero se presenta como una rica constelación de intereses econó­micos y de visiones idealistas que de­be ser sintetizada en el seno de un proyecto político común.

En su primer libro, II proletariado e la borghesia nel movimento socia­lista (“El proletariado y la burguesía en el movimiento socialista”), publi­cado en italiano en 1907, Michels percibe perfectamente los peligros de degenerescencia, de oligarquización y de burocratización, intrínse­cos a las estructuras de los partidos y de los sindicatos. En esta primera fa­se de su pensamiento, Michels con­templa una “posibilidad” [involutiva] que debe ser conjurada a través del recurso de la acción directa del sin­dicalismo. Para él, la virtual involu­ción del socialismo político no reve­la todavía su verdadero sentido que no hace sino encerrar en sí una ine­xorable fatalidad sociológica.

4. La fase sociológica

En 1911, aparece, tal y como hemos señalado, su importante “summa” en­torno al partido político (11), la obra que indica claramente su paso defi­nitivo del sindicalismo revoluciona­rio a la sociología política. La in­fluencia de Mosca sobre su método histórico y positivo fue, a decir ver­dad, determinante. A partir de un es­tudio de la social-democracia alema­na, como caso particular, Michels termina enunciando una ley social general, una regla del comporta­miento político. Michels descubrió que, en toda organización, existe ne­cesariamente una serie de jefes pre­parados para la acción y élites de profesionales competentes (tecnócratas. N.d.T.); descubrió igualmen­te la necesidad de una “minoría crea­tiva” que se impulsa por sí misma a la cabeza de la dinámica histórica; des­cubrió la dificultad que existe para conciliar, en el cuadro de la demo­cracia parlamentaria, competencia técnica y representatividad. La tesis general de Michels es la siguiente: “En toda organización de carácter instrumental (Zweckorganisation), los riesgos de oligarquización se ha­llan siempre inmanentes” (12). De­nuncia a continuación la insuficien­cia definitiva del marxismo: “Cierta­mente los marxistas poseen una gran doctrina económica y un sistema his­tórico y filosófico fascinante; pero, una vez penetramos en el terreno de la psicología, el marxismo revela ciertas lagunas conceptuales enor­mes, incluso en los niveles más ele­mentales”. Realmente, su libro es muy rico en tesis y en argumentos. Si bien, juzguémoslo sobre el propio te­rreno:

1) La lucha política democrática posee necesariamente un carácter demagógico. En apariencia, todos los partidos luchan por el bien de la humanidad, por el interés general y por la abolición definitiva de las de­sigualdades. Pero, más allá de la re­tórica sobre el bien común, sobre los derechos del hombre y sobre la justi­cia social se presiente cómo despun­ta una voluntad por conquistar el po­der y se perfila el deseo impetuoso por imponerse a la cabeza del Esta­do, en interés de la minoría organi­zada que se representa. A este res­pecto, Michels enuncia una “ley de expansión”, según la cual todo parti­do tiende a convertirse en Estado, a extenderse más allá de la esfera so­cial que le estaba inicialmente asig­nada o que había conquistado gra­cias a su programa fundamental (13).

2) Las masas son incapaces de au­to-gobernarse. Sus decisiones jamás responden a criterios racionales y es­tán influidas por sus propias emocio­nes, por toda suerte de azares de di­verso orden, por la fascinación carismática que ejerce un jefe bien deter­minante e influyente, que se destaca de la masa para asumir la dirección de una manera dictatorial. Tras la llegada de la sociedad de masas y del desarrollo de los grandes centros in­dustriales, cualquier posibilidad de re-instaurar una democracia directa pasa en lo sucesivo a extinguirse de­finitivamente. La sociedad moderna no puede funcionar sin dirigentes y sin representantes. En lo que respec­ta a estos últimos, Michels escribe: “una representación duradera signi­fica, en cualquier caso, una domina­ción de los representantes sobre los representados” (14). En la opinión de Michels, este juicio no significa precisamente el rechazo de la repre­sentación, sino más bien la necesidad de encontrar los mecanismos nece­sarios que podrán transformar las re­laciones entre las clases políticas y la sociedad civil, de la manera más or­gánica posible. Hoy, el verdadero problema de la ciencia política con­siste en escoger nuevas formas 1) de representación y 2) de transmisión de las voluntades y de los intereses políticos, que se fundamentan sobre criterios orgánicos, en un espíritu de solidaridad y de colaboración, orien­tados en un sentido pragmático y no inspirados por esos mitos de extrac­ción mecanicista, que no conducen más que al poder de los partidos y no al gobierno eficaz de la nación.

3) En la era contemporánea, la fe política ha tomado el relevo a la fe re­ligiosa. Michels escribe: “En medio de las ruinas de la cultura tradicional de masas, la estela triunfante de la necesidad de religión ha permaneci­do en pie, intacta” (15). He aquí una anticipación inteligente de la inter­pretación contemporánea del carác­ter mesiánico y religioso/secular, tan característico de la política de masas moderna, como es el caso destacado de los regímenes totalitarios.

4) “La competencia es poder”, “la especialización significa autoridad”. Estas dos expresiones recapitulan para Michels la esencia del “leadership”. En consecuencia, la tesis según la cual el poder y la autoridad se de­terminan con relación a las masas, o en el cuadro de los conflictos políti­cos con los otros partidos, es insoste­nible. Para Michels, son, en todo ca­so, las minorías preparadas, aguerri­das y poderosas las que entran en lucha para tomar la dirección de un partido y para gobernar un país.

5) Analizando dos fenómenos his­tóricos como son el Cesarismo y el Bonapartismo, Michels desvela las relaciones de parentesco entre de­mocracia y tiranía y aboga en el sen­tido del origen democrático de cier­tas formas de dictadura. “El Cesaris­mo -escribe- es todavía democracia y, al menos, puede reivindicar su nombre, puesto que obtiene su fuen­te directamente de la voluntad popu­lar” (16). Y añade: “El Bonapartismo es la teorización de la voluntad indi­vidual, surgida inicialmente de la vo­luntad colectiva, pero emancipada de ésta, con el tiempo, para conver­tirse a su vez en soberana” (17).

6) Carl Schmitt, en su ya clásico li­bro Legalität und Legitimität (“Le­galidad y Legitimidad”) (18), desa­rrolla un análisis profundo entorno a la “plusvalía política adicional” que asume aquel que detenta legalmente la palanca del poder político; se tra­ta de una especie de suplemento del poder. Michels tuvo una intuición parecida al escribir: “Los líderes, al disponer de instrumentos de poder y, en virtud de este hecho, del mismo poder en sí mismo, tienen como ven­taja la posibilidad de aparecer siem­pre al amparo de la legalidad” (19).

7) El principal libro de Michels contiene muchísimas otras observa­ciones sociológicas: sobre las dife­renciaciones de competencias; sobre los gustos y los comportamientos, los cuales, en tanto que consecuencias de la industrialización, han logrado alcanzar a los obreros y quebrado la unidad de clase; sobre las mutacio­nes sociales como el aburguesamien­to de los jefes y la aproximación en­tre los niveles de vida del proletariado y de la pequeña burguesía; sobre la posibilidad de prever y de limitar el poder de las oligarquías a través del procedimiento técnico que supo­ne el referéndum y mediante el re­curso del instrumento teórico y prác­tico del sindicalismo.

8) la sexta parte del libro es central y está dedicada explícitamente a la tendencia oligárquica de las organi­zaciones. En ella, Michels enuncia la más celebre de sus leyes sociales, la que evoca la “perversión” que sufren todas las organizaciones: con el incremento del número de las funcio­nes y de los miembros, la organiza­ción, “de medio para alcanzar un fin, se convierte en un fin en sí misma. El órgano finaliza por prevalecer sobre el organismo” (20). Es ahí donde se halla la “ley de la oligarquía” de la cual se desprende que la oligarquía es la “forma establecida de avance de la convivencia humana en el seno de las organizaciones de gran dimen­sión” (21).

9) El libro de Michels contiene, en su conclusión, una voluntad de lucha que recuerda, parcialmente, la visión histórica trágica de Max Weber y de Georg Simmel; se trata de una volun­tad por profundizar el choque inevi­table entre la vida y sus formas constituidas, entre la libertad y la cristali­zación de las instituciones sociales, las cuales caracterizan la vida mo­derna.

5. La historia

Con la publicación en lengua italia­na del libro titulado L’imperialismo italiano. Studio político e demográ­fico (“El imperialismo italiano. Estu­dio político y demográfico”) (1914), el “giro” de Michels es definitivo. Con la aparición de esta obra, se hunde un mito, el del internaciona­lismo y del universalismo humanitarista. En la obra de Michels, aparece el nacionalismo como el nuevo mo­tor ideal de la acción política, como un sentimiento capaz de movilizar a las masas y de favorecer la integra­ción de éstas en las estructuras del Estado. El análisis sociológico del sentimiento nacional será profundizado en un volumen posterior, inicialmente aparecido en alemán (1929) y, después en italiano (1933), bajo el título de Prolegomeni sul pa­triotismo (“Prolegómenos sobre el patriotismo”).

A partir de 1913, aparecen en Italia diversos estudios importantes sobre economía: Saggi economici sulle classi popolari (“Ensayos económi­cos sobre las clases populares”) (1913), La teoría di Marx sulla po­vertà crescente e le sue origini (“La teoria de Marx sobre el crecimiento de la pobreza y sus orígenes”) (1920). La aproximación que Michels inten­ta hacia la economía no es más que de naturaleza rigurosamente históri­ca. Según él, es mucho más impor­tante tener en cuenta la utilidad práctica de una teoría económica que sus correcciones especulativas puramente formales. La interpretación de Michels es pragmática y con­creta. Critica la inconsistencia del “homo oeconomicus” liberal, porque a su juicio, no existen sujetos econó­micos abstractos, sino actores con­cretos, portadores de intereses espe­cíficos. A continuación critica la interpretación del marxismo, la cual establece la existencia de un conflic­to insuperable en el seno de las so­ciedades. Michels reconoce con ello la función reguladora y equilibrante del Estado y la necesidad de una co­laboración estrecha entre las diver­sas categorías sociales. Por esta ra­zón, considera que el modelo corpo­rativo constituye una solución. Su va­loración del corporativismo se halla contenida en el opúsculo Note storiche sui sistemi sindicali corporativi (“Notas históricas entorno al sistema sindicalista corporativo”), publicado en lengua italiana en 1933.

6. El Fascismo

En esta fase de su obra, su actividad como historiador, queda consignada en diversos libros, escritos original­mente en alemán y, posteriormente traducidos al italiano: Socialismo e Fascismo in Italia (“Socialismo y Fascismo en Italia”) (2 volúmenes, 1925); Psicologia degli uomini signi­ficativi. Studi caratteriologici (“Psi­cologia de los hombres significativos. Estudio caracterológico”) (1927),

Movimenti anticapitalisti di massa (“Movimientos anticapitalistas de masa”) (1927); y después en varios escritos redactados directamente en italiano: Francia contemporánea (1926) y Storia critica del movimen­to socialista italiano (1926). Entre las personalidades “significativas” de las cuales traza su biografía, figuran Bebel, De Amicis, Lombroso, Schmoller, Weber, Pareto, Sombart y W. Müller. En 1926, Michels im­parte una serie de lecciones en la Universidad de Roma; éstas serán reunidas un año más tarde en un vo­lumen, redactado en italiano: Corso di sociologia politica (“Curso de so­ciología política”), una buena intro­ducción a esta disciplina que de­muestra ser todavía útil en la actua­lidad. En este trabajo, traza las gran­des líneas de su visión elitista de los procesos políticos, emite una teori­zación de la institución en la que se ha convertido el “Duce” y desarrolla una nueva teoría de las minorías. El “Duce”, que obtiene su poder direc­tamente del pueblo, extiende su legi­timidad al conjunto del régimen po­lítico. Esta idea constituye en sí, to­tal y verdaderamente, un paralelis­mo sociológico con la teoría elabora­da simultáneamente en Alemania por los teóricos nacional-socialistas del denominado “Führerprinzip”.

Esta relativa originalidad de Mi­chels no ha sido jamás puesta sufi­cientemente en evidencia por los crí­ticos, que se han limitado a conside­rarlo solamente como un genial con­tinuador de la obra de Mosca y de la Pareto. En 1928, en la Rivista inter­nazionale di Filosofía del Diritto (Revista internacional de Filosofía del Derecho), aparece un importan­te ensayo de Michels: Saggio di clas­sificazione dei partiti politici (“En­sayo de clasificación de los partidos políticos”). A continuación, numero­sos escritos italianos fueron reunidos en dos volúmenes: Studi sulla demo­crazia e l’autorità (“Estudios sobre la democracia y la autoridad”) (1933) y Nuovi studi sulla classe politica (“Nuevos estudios sobre la clase po­litica”) (1936).

La adhesión explícita de Michels al Fascismo quedó expresada en una obra escrita inicialmente en alemán (L’Italia oggi) en 1930, año durante el cual se afilia al P.N.F. (Partido Na­cional Fascista). En sus páginas, Mi­chels hace un elogio del régimen de Mussolini, porque ha contribuido de manera decisiva a la modernización de la nación.

7. Conclusiones

La mayor parte de las notas relati­vas a la vida de Michels se hallan contenidas en su ensayo autobiográ­fico, redactado en alemán Una corrente sindicalista sotteranea nel socialismo tedesco fra il 1903 e il 1907 (“Una corriente subterránea en el socialismo alemán entre 1903 y 1907″) y publicado en 1932; este en­sayo conserva todavía en la actuali­dad, y lo seguirá haciendo, toda la utilidad necesaria para reconstruir las diversas fases de su existencia, así como para señalar las diferentes ini­ciativas políticas y culturales que em­prendiera a lo largo de su vida; po­demos descubrir así su itinerario que va de la social-democracia alemana al Fascismo, de la ideología marxista al realismo maquiavélico a la italia­na, de las ilusiones del revolucionarismo a su credo conservador.

En resumen, se trata de una obra vasta, de gran interés. Esperamos, a modo de conclusión para esta breve introducción, que el cincuenta ani­versario de su muerte, contribuirá a redescubrir a este gran sociólogo y a revalorizar de forma equilibrada su trabajo.


(0) El presente artículo apareció originalmente en la revista florentina Diorama Letterario, siendo traduci­do al francés para la revista belga Vouloir (B.P.B. 41, B-1970 Wezem-beek-Oppem. Belgie/Belgique), en cuyo número 50/51 (Noviembre-Di­ciembre de 1988) apareció, por Robert Steuckers. Siendo la versión francesa la utilizada para traducir al castellano el artículo en cuestión.
(1) Al hablar de recientemente, de­be de entenderse como relativamente recientemente, pues ha de consi­derarse que el cincuentenario de la muerte de Roberto Michels se cum­plió el 2 de Mayo de 1986 y el artícu­lo que nos ocupa, originalmente y con respecto a este punto concreto, tuvo su máxima vigencia, evidente­mente, durante el período vigente entorno a cuatro años atrás (N.d.T.).
(2) Una bibliografía entorno a los trabajos de Michels fue publicada en 1937 por los Annali (“Anales”) de la facultad de jurisprudencia de la Uni­versidad de Perugia.
(3) Por ejemplo, D. Beetham, “From Socialism to Fascism: The Relation Between Theory and Practice in the Work of Robert Michels”, en: Political Studies, XXV, No.’s 1 & 2. Asimismo conviene citar, G. Hands, “Roberto Michels and the Study of Political Parties”, en Bri-tish Journal of Political Science, 1971, No. 2.
(4) Sobre este tema, W. Röhrich, Roberto Michels vom sozialistisch­syndikalistischen zum faschistis­chen Credo, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, 1972. Citemos igualmente, R. Messeri, “Roberto Michels: crisi de­lla democrazia parlamentare e fas­cismo”, dentro de la obra colectiva II Fascismo nell’analisi sociologica, Il Mulino, Bologna, 1975.
(5) Destacadamente interesantes son los estudios de E. Ripepe (Gli eli­tisti italiani, Pacini, Pisa, 1974) y de P. P. Portinaro, “R. Michels e Pare­to. La formazione e la crisi della so­ciologia”, en: Annali della Fondazio­ne Luigi Einaudi, Torino, XI, 1977.
(6) Roberto Michels, Les Partis Politiques. Essai sur les tendances oligarchiques des démocraties, Flammarion, Paris, 1971. Traduc­ción de la edición alemana de 1925.
(7) A. James Gregor, Roberto Mi­chels e l’ideologia del Fascismo, Volpe, Roma, 1979. Tras una larga introducción, podremos encontrar en esta obra una amplia serie de tex­tos de Michels.
(8) Roberto Michels, Antologia di scritti sociologici, Il Mulino, Bolog­na, 1980.
(9) Las contribuciones a este colo­quio fueron reunidas por G. B. Furiozzi en el libro Roberto Michels tra politica e sociologia, ETS, Pisa, 1985.
(10) Zeev Sternhell, Ni droite ni gauche, Seuil, Paris, 1983.
(11) Con respecto a la contribución de Michels a la “stasiología”, o la ciencia que estudia los partidos polí­ticos, es conveniente consultar a G. Fernández de la Mora, La partitocracia, Instituto de Estudios Políti­cos, Madrid, 1977, páginas 31-42. Con respecto a la influencia de Mi­chels sobre Ortega y Gasset, consúl­tese a I. Sánchez-Cámara, La teoría de la minoría selecta en el pensa­miento de Ortega y Gasset, Madrid, 1986, páginas 124-128.
(12) Roberto Michels, Les partis
politiques…, op. cit.
(13) Ibidem.
(14) Ibidem.
(15) Ibidem.
(16) Ibidem.
(17) Ibidem.
(18) Carl Schmitt, Legalität und Legitimität (“Legalidad y Legitimi­dad”), Duncker & Humblot, Leip­zig/München, 1932.
(19) Roberto Michels, op. cit.
(20) Ibidem.
(21) Ibidem.

mardi, 26 février 2013

Remembering Sven Hedin


Remembering Sven Hedin

By Savitri Devi

Ex: http://www.counter-currents.com/

Editor’s Note: 

We are presenting the following excerpts from Savitri Devi’s And Time Rolls On: The Savitri Devi Interviews [2] in honor of the birthday of the great Swedish explorer Sven Anders Hedin (February 19, 1865–November 26, 1952). For a brief account of his life and work, see his Wikipedia [3] article. 

Hedin’s feats of exploration and his magnificent books recommend him to the attention of all mankind. What recommends him to the North American New Right is his devotion to the survival and flourishing of European man and civilization, which he believed was endangered by both communism and Anglo-Saxon capitalism.

As a Swede and a European, Hedin saw the Second German Reich as the best vehicle for the preservation of European civilization, and when Germany revived under the Third Reich, he reposed his hopes there, enjoying the friendship and admiration of Adolf Hitler, Hermann Göring, and other leading National Socialists.

As this text also makes clear, Hedin had more than a nodding knowledge of the traditional religions and spirituality of Asia.  

. . . I came back to England from Iceland at the end of ’47, and there I had to struggle a long time too. Until it was possible for Mr. Mukherji to send me a little money. He was himself in difficulty at the time. He had no job after the war. His past injured him a lot from the point of view of jobs. In fact, he couldn’t send me anything until ’48. But I already had a job. I got a job in the dancing company of Ram Gopal as a dresser.[1] I had to take care of the costumes of the girls and all that. It was not badly paid: £5 a week in England, £10 a week abroad. I was taken to France. I was taken to Norway. I was taken to Sweden. We stayed two-and-a-half months in Sweden, and that took me to June ’48.

Of course, I didn’t like the surroundings very much, and I don’t mean the surroundings in Sweden. I mean the surroundings in the company. The stage manager, Mr. Ben Topf, was a Jew. A Jew who said in the train he would like to see the larders full and the arsenals empty in Germany, naturally. And I hated him for it. [. . .]

In Sweden on the 6th of June, 1948 I met somebody extraor­dinary. I met Sven Hedin.[2] I wanted to meet him. I knew he was one of our people. But they told me, “Sven Hedin meets nobody after ’45. He doesn’t want to meet anybody. You can try.” So I wrote a letter to him, and he said, “Yes, you can come on Sun­day. You can come at 2:00.” I came there at 2:00, and I told him, “You see, we are going to Germany on the 14th.” I had been spending two or three nights, up all night, writing papers.[3] I had intended to spend all my salary in Sweden buying chocolate, sardines, butter, cigarettes, putting a paper in each box and throwing them from the windows of the Nord Express. We were going to pass through Germany. “And I’d like to know, can we have any hope?”

He said, “Why do you say, ‘Can we have any hope?’ Do you have no hope?” I said, “Well, I’m doing this just as an act of defiance, but what to do? Those of Nuremberg, they have killed them.” Sven Hedin said, “Don’t fear. Germany has more such men.” I said, “Yes, but when will they appear?” “They’ll appear in time.” And I said to him, “What about the Führer? Is he dead or alive?” He said, “Whether he’s dead or alive, he’s eternal. What does it matter to you?” I said, “I’ll never see him if he’s really not alive.” “Well, even if you do see him, what difference would it make? The war is lost anyhow. And his ideas are true anyhow, even with a lost war.” I said, “You are right. You are right.”

And with this sort of talk and with the encouragement he gave me, he said, “You can distribute your papers if you like, all through Germany. If you get into trouble . . .” I said, “I don’t care. I don’t care if I spend my life in an Allied concentration camp.” “In that case, carry on.” I felt my wings, my old wings were growing again. He wanted to give me supper, if you please. I never expected it. “It is 7:00 now, you can have supper with me.” I said, “At 7:00 I must be at the theater. It’s a night show. I have to be there. It’s my job.” He said, “All right.” So I went.

The first person I met in the theater was Ben Topf. He looked at me and said, “Mrs. Mukherji, what happened to you?” I said, “Nothing happened to me.” “You look 20 years younger.” I said, “Do I?” I said, “I met a great man.” “What kind of great man?” I said, “Sven Hedin, the great explorer of Central Asia. The one who found out the real way that Lop Nor and other Central Asian lakes go around and round and round. They fol­low the same route.” He said, “For that you are so pleased to meet that man?” And I said, “Yes I am. I am interested in arche­ology and explorations. What can you expect?” He didn’t believe me, of course. He found it queer. He wouldn’t have found it queer for long.

And Time Rolls On, pp. 54–56

In October ’46, I was staying at 104 Grosvenor Road, in a very quiet room. It was a building for nurses, a kind of hostel for nurses. They used to sleep in the daytime. At night they were on duty. So it was perfectly quiet in the daytime and at night. And that’s what I wanted. I liked physical peace. So I was there on the night of the 15th to 16th of October ’46. And I never read the papers. I didn’t want to read them. I didn’t want to see the evolution of the trial at Nuremberg. I hated it. But I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t. I couldn’t detach my mind from the fact that I knew, without reading the papers—every­body knew it—that the 11 were to be killed on that night.

I was thinking about it. I was thinking about it. And then sud­denly, I was not asleep, but I felt exactly as I used to feel after my exercises at Hatha yoga ten years before.[4] I was no longer in that room. I don’t know how I went through the walls. I was in Göring’s cell. And I saw Göring just as I see you. He was seated with his hands like this.[5] And suddenly he did like that. As though he saw me and was rather astonished. I had some­thing in my right hand, a tiny little piece of I don’t know what, something I held. And I said to him, “No fear”—“keine Angst.” “No fear. I’m not an enemy. I’m one of your people. I wish I could save you all from this ignominy, but unfortu­nately the heavenly powers gave me permission to save one, and one only, up to my choice, and I chose you because of your kindness to creatures. Because of your solicitude to ani­mals.”


Göring had been a hunter in his youth. He had given it up. And he liked animals, that’s true. But some hunters do at the same time they’re hunters. He had a leopard for a pet. The leopard used to lie at his feet and purr, like a big cat. I knew that. What I knew also was that he contributed with the Führer to the setting up of the Reichsjagdgesetz,[6] a book thick like that. It is much more than a regulation of hunting. It’s a protection of nature. Traps are forbidden. One man hunting by himself is forbidden. It must be two. If an animal is wounded the other one will shoot it. Mustn’t kill fe­males. Mustn’t, mustn’t, mustn’t, mustn’t. The Führer could not forbid hunting altogether. He did what he could to lessen the effect, and Göring had a part of that.

That I knew before I got into this kind of queer state. I said to him, “Take this,” and gave him what I had in my right hand. I said, “Take this, and don’t allow these people to kill you as a criminal. You are not one. Anything but. Now I must go. Good-bye. Heil Hitler!” And I vanished. And I didn’t see any­thing of the kind. I fell completely unconscious after that. I saw Göring, and I was unconscious. I gave him whatever I had to give him. I was unconscious.

I woke up. It was 10:00 in the morning. I never wake up at 10:00. I wake up at 6:00. I never sleep like that. I opened my eyes. I said, “What a queer experience I had. Where did I go last night?” Anyhow, I bathed quickly, and I went downstairs. It was a rainy day, drizzly. I never bought a paper as I told you. I wasn’t going to buy the paper on the 16th of October, anything but. But I couldn’t help seeing the headlines on the papers. There was a newspaper kiosk just opposite. Headlines like that. Eight centimeters high. “Göring found dead in his cell, half past two in the morning. Nobody knows who gave him the poison. Potassium cyanide.”

I’ll never forget it. And I felt cold all over my body. It seemed to me that I saw the Nataraja, the dancing Shiva, as he is presented in Hindu tem­ples, dancing in the clouds. And I said, “If this has been done through me, use me in greater things still. If it’s me, that’s the best thing I did in my life.” I don’t know what really happened, to this day. I know what experience I had. I know what I felt. I know what I saw. I don’t know anything more. Is it a genuine experience? What is it? I just don’t know. I don’t pretend to know, and I don’t like to speak of what I don’t know.

Less than two years later, on June 6th, 1948, I met Sven Hedin, who is a scholar of Tibetology and has roamed all over Central Asia and seen things in Ladakh and Tibet. I asked him, “What would people in Ladakh or Tibet think of this?” He said, “My dear, they would find that the most natural thing in the world. That is no problem for a Tibetan or for a Ladakhi, for a Buddhist Lama. No problem at all. You went into the astral plane. You gave Göring some astral potassium cyanide, and it materialized in his hand. He took it and died, instead of being hanged.” I said, “I wish I could’ve done it for the 11.” “Well, you could for one. Be thankful that you could for one.” That’s what Sven Hedin told me. I don’t know any more than that. I never had a psychic experience in my life. That’s the only one.

And Time Rolls On, pp. 48–50


1. Ram Gopal (1912–2003) was one of the leaders of the revival of classical Indian dance and one of the most celebrated and widely traveled dancers of the 20th century. See his Rhythm in the Heavens: The Autobiography of Ram Gopal (London: Secker and Warburg, 1957).

2. On Hedin and Savitri’s first propaganda trip through occupied Germany, see Gold in the Furnace, ch. 4, “The Unfor­gettable Night.”

3. Savitri supplies a translation of the flyer in Gold in the Furnace: “In the midst of untold hardships and suffering, hold fast to our glorious National Socialist faith, and resist! Defy our persecutors! Defy the people, defy the forces that are working to ‘de-Nazify’ the German nation and the world at large! Nothing can destroy that which is built in truth. We are the pure gold put to test in the furnace. Let the furnace blaze and roar! Nothing can destroy us. One day we shall rise and triumph again. Hope and wait! Heil Hitler!” (Gold in the Furnace, 34).

4. See ch. 3, §9 below.

5. According to Sven Hedin (1865–1952), diary entry of 6 June 1948, Savitri told him that, “Han satt med huvudet i händerna” (“He [Göring] sat with his head in his hands”) (The papers of Sven Hedin, box 41, National Archives of Sweden).

6. Reich Hunting Law.

Article printed from Counter-Currents Publishing: http://www.counter-currents.com

URL to article: http://www.counter-currents.com/2013/02/remembering-sven-hedin/

URLs in this post:

[1] Image: http://www.counter-currents.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Sven-Hedin.jpg

[2] And Time Rolls On: The Savitri Devi Interviews: http://www.counter-currents.com/2013/02/and-time-rolls-on-now-in-kindle-and-nook/

[3] Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sven_Hedin

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lundi, 25 février 2013

The Historic Implications and Continuing Ramifications of the Trotsky-Stalin Conflict


Trotsky, Stalin, & the Cold War:
The Historic Implications & Continuing Ramifications of the Trotsky-Stalin Conflict

By Kerry Bolton

Ex; http://www.counter-currents.com/  

Editor’s Note:

This is the second of two chapters on the Moscow Trials that we are reprinting from Kerry Bolton’s new book Stalin: The Enduring Legacy [2] (London: Black House Publishing, 2012). The chapters are reprinted as formatted in the book. Counter-Currents will also run a review of the book, which I highly recommend. 

The Moscow Trials were symptomatic of a great divide that had occurred in Bolshevism. The alliance with Stalin during World War II had formed an assumption among US internationalists that after the Axis defeat a ‘new world order’ would emerge via the United Nations Organisation. This assumption was ill-founded, and the result was the Cold War. Trotskyists emerged as avid Cold Warriors dialectically concluding that the USSR represented the primary obstacle to world socialism. This essay examines the dialectical process by which major factions of Trotskyism became, in Stalinist parlance, a ‘tool of foreign powers and of world capitalism.’

One of the major accusations against Trotsky and alleged Trotskyists during the Moscow Trials of 1936-1938 was that they were agents of foreign capital and foreign powers, including intelligence agencies, and were engaged in sabotage against the Soviet State. In particular, with the advent of Nazi Germany in 1933, Stalin sought to show that in the event of war, which he regarded as inevitable, the Trotskyist network in the USSR would serve as a fifth column for Germany.

The background of these trials has been examined in Chapter III.

Stalin Correct in Fundamental Accusations Against Trotskyites

Staline_et_Trotsky.jpgWhat is significant is that Khrushchev did concede that Stalin was correct in his fundamental allegation that the Trotskyists, Bukharinites et al represented a faction that sought the ‘restoration of capitalism and capitulation to the world bourgeoisie’. However Khrushchev and even Stalin could not go far enough in their denunciation of Trotskyists et al as seeking to ‘restore capitalism’ and as being agents of foreign powers. To expose the full facts in regard to such accusations would also mean to expose some unpalatable, hidden factors of the Bolshevik Revolution itself, and of Lenin; which would undermine the whole edifice upon which Soviet authority rested – the October 1917 Revolution. Lenin, and Trotsky in particular, had intricate associations with many un-proletarian individuals and interests.

The fact of behind the scenes machinations between the Bolsheviks and international finance was commented upon publicly by two very well-positioned but quite different sources: Henry Wickham Steed, conservative editor of The London Times, and Samuel Gompers, head of the American Federation of Labour.

In a first-hand account of the Peace Conference of 1919 Wickham Steed stated that proceedings were interrupted by the return from Moscow of William C Bullitt and Lincoln Steffens, ‘who had been sent to Russia towards the middle of February by Colonel House[1] and Mr. Lansing, for the purpose of studying conditions, political and economic, therein for the benefit of the American Commissioners plenipotentiary to negotiate peace.’[2] Steed stated specifically and at some length that international finance was behind the move for recognition of the Bolshevik regime and other moves in favour of the Bolsheviks, stating that: ‘Potent international financial interests were at work in favour of the immediate recognition of the Bolshevists.’[3] In return for diplomatic recognition Tchitcherin, the Bolshevist Commissary for Foreign Affairs, was offering ‘extensive commercial and economic concessions.’[4]

For his part, Samuel Gompers, the American labour leader, was vehemently opposed to the Bolsheviks and any recognition or commercial transactions, stating to the press in regard to negotiations at the international economic conference at Genoa, that a group of ‘predatory international financiers’ were working for the recognition of the Bolshevik regime for the opening up of resources for exploitation. Gompers described this as an ‘Anglo-American-German banking group’. He also commented that prominent Americans who had a history of anti-labour attitudes were advocating recognition of the Bolshevik regime.[5]

Trotsky’s Banking Connections

What is of significance here however is that Trotsky in particular was the focus of attention by many individuals acting on behalf not only of foreign powers but of international financial institutions. Hence while Stalin and even Khrushchev could aver to the association of Trotsky with foreign powers and even – albeit vaguely – with seeking the ‘restoration of capitalism and capitulation to the world bourgeoisie’, to trace the links more specifically to international finance would inevitably lead to the association also of the Bolshevik regime per se to those same sources, thus undermining the founding myth of the USSR as being the ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’.

These associations between Trotsky and international finance, as well as foreign intelligence services, have been meticulously documented by Dr Richard Spence.[6] Spence states that ‘Trotsky was the recipient of mysterious financial assistance and was a person of keen interest to German, Russian and British agents’. Such contentions are very similar to the charges against Trotsky et al at the Moscow Trials, and there are details and personalities involved, said to have been extracted under torture and threats, that are in fact confirmed by Spence, who traces Trotsky’s patronage as far back as 1916 when he was an exile from Czarist Russia and was being expelled from a succession of countries in Europe before finding his way to the USA, prior to his return to Russia in 1917 to play his part in the Revolution. Expelled from France to Spain, Trotsky was locked up as a ‘terrorist agitator’ for three and a half days in comfortable conditions.[7] Ernst Bark, perhaps with the use of German funds, arranged Trotsky’s release and his transfer to Cadiz to await passage with his family to New York and paid for first class passage on the SS Montserrat. Bark was cousin of the Czar’s minister of finance Petr Bark who, despite his service to the Czar, had the pro-German, pro-Bolshevik banker Olof Aschberg, of the Nya Banken, Sweden, as his financial agent for his New York dealings. A report reaching US Military Intelligence in 1918 stated that Trotsky had been ‘bought by the Germans’, and that he was organising the Bolshevik[8] movement with Parvus.

From being penniless in Spain to his arrival in New York, Trotsky had arrived with $500 which Spence states is today’s equivalent to about $10,000, although Trotsky liked to depict himself as continuing in proletarian poverty. Immigration authorities also noted that his place of residence would be the less than proletarian Hotel Astor in Times Square.

In New York the Trotskys lived in a Bronx apartment with all the mod-coms of the day. Employed by Novyi Mir, and was hosted by Dr Julius Hammer, a Bolshevik who combined revolution with an opulent lifestyle. Hammer was probably the mysterious ‘Dr M’ referred to by Trotsky in his memoirs, who provided the Trotskys with sightseeing jaunts in his chauffeured car.[9]

One of the main contacts for Trotsky was a maternal uncle, banker and businessman Abram Zhivotovskii. In 1915 Zhivotovskii was jailed in Russia for trading with Germany. The US State Department described Zhivotovskii as outwardly ‘very anti-Bolshevik’, but who had laundered money to the Bolsheviks and other socialist organizations.[10] He seems to have played a double role in moneymaking, working as a financial agent for both Germans and Allies. During the war he maintained an office in Japan under the management of a nephew Iosif Zhivotovskii, who had served as secretary to Sidney Reilly, the so-called ‘British Ace of Spies’ who nonetheless also seems to have been a duplicitous character in dealing with Germany. Spence mentions that Reilly, who had a business in the USA, had gone to Japan when Trotsky was in Spain, and arrived back in the USA around the time of Trotsky’s arrival, the possibility being that Reilly had acquired funds from Trotsky’s uncle to give to his nephew in New York. Another Reilly association with Zhivotovskii was via Alexander Weinstein, who had been Zhivotovskii’s agent in London, and had joined Reilly in 1916. He was supposedly a loyal Czarist but was identified by American Military Intelligence as a Bolshevik.[11] Of further interest is that Alexander’s brother Gregory was business manager of Novyi Mir, the newspaper that employed Trotsky while he was in New York. Reilly and Weinstein were also associated with Benny Sverdlov, a Russian arms broker who was the brother of Yakov Sverdlov, the future Soviet commissar.

These multiple connections between Trotsky and Reilly’s associates are significant here in that one of the accusations raised during the Moscow Trials was that the Trotskyists had had dealings with ‘British spy’ Sidney Reilly.

The dealings of Sir William Wiseman, British Military Intelligence chief in the USA, and his deputy Norman Thwaites, with Reilly and associates were concealed even from other British agencies.[12] Wiseman had kept Trotsky under surveillance in New York. Trotsky secured a visa from the British consulate to proceed to Russia via Nova Scotia and Scandinavia. The Passport Control Section of the British Consulate was under the direction of Thwaites. Trotsky was to remark on his arrival in Russia about the helpful attitude of consular officials, despite his detention as a possible German agent by Canadian authorities at Nova Scotia. Trotsky had been able to pay for tickets aboard the Kristianiafiord for himself and his family, and also for a small entourage. What is additionally interesting about Wiseman is that he was closely associated with banking interests, and around 1921 joined Kuhn, Loeb and Co.[13] In 1955 Wiseman launched his own international bank with investments from Kuhn, Loeb & Co.; Rothschild; Rockefeller; Warburg firms, et al[14]. He was thus very close to the international banking dynasties throughout much of his life.

To return to the Kristianiafiord however, on board with Trotsky and his entourage, first class, were Robert Jivotovsky (Zhivotovskii), likely to have been another Trotsky cousin; Israel Fundaminsky, whom Trotsky regarded as a British agent, and Andrei Kalpaschnikoff, who acted as translator when Trotsky was being questioned by British authorities at Nova Scotia. Kalpaschnikoff was closely associated with Vladimir Rogovine, who worked for Weinstein and Reilly. Kalpaschnikoff was also associated with John MacGregor Grant, a friend and business partner of both Reilly and Olof Aschberg. We can therefore see an intricate connection between British super-spy Reilly, and bankers such as Aschberg, who served as a conduit of funds to the Bolsheviks, and Zhivotovskii via Alexander Weinstein.

When Trotsky and several of his entourage were arrested on 29 March at Nova Scotia and questioned by authorities regarding associations with Germany this could well have been an act to dispel any suspicions that Trotsky might be serving British interests. The British had the option of returning him to New York but allowed him to proceed to Russia.[15]

The attitude of Wiseman towards the Bolsheviks once they had achieved nominal power was one of urging recognition, Wiseman cabling President Wilson’s principal adviser Col. Edward House on 1 May 1918 that the allies should intervene at the invitation of the Bolsheviks and help organise the Bolshevik army then fighting the White Armies during the Civil War.[16] This would accord with the aim of certain international bankers to secure recognition of the Bolshevik regime, as noted by both Gompers and Steed.

The financial interests in the USA that formed around the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), founded by presidential adviser Col. Edward M House as a foreign policy think tank of businessmen, politicans and intellectuals, were clamouring for recognition of the Soviets. The CFR issued a report on Bolshevik Russia in 1923, prompted by Lenin’s ‘New Economic Policy’. The report repudiated anti-Bolshevik attitudes and fears that Bolshevism would be spread to other countries (although it had already had a brief but bloody reign in Hungary and revolts in German). CFR historian Peter Grosse writes that the report stated that,

the Bolsheviks were on their way to ‘sanity and sound business practices,’ the Council study group concluded, but the welcome to foreign concessionaires would likely be short-lived…. Thus, the Council experts recommended in March 1923 that American businessmen get into Russia while Lenin’s invitation held good…[17]

Armand Hammer, head of Occidental Petroleum, son of the aforementioned Dr Julius Hammer who had been the Trotsky family’s host in New York, was a globetrotting plutocrat who mixed with the political and business elites of the world for decades. Hammer was in intimate contact with every Soviet leader from Lenin to Gorbachev — except for Stalin.[18] This omission is indicative of the rift that had occurred between the USSR and Western financial and industrial interests with the assumption of Stalin and the defeat of Trotsky.

The CFR report on the USSR that advised American business to get in quick before the situation changed, was prescient. In 1921 Hammer was in the USSR sewing up business deals. Hammer met Trotsky, who asked him whether ‘financial circles in the USA regard Russia as a desirable field of investment?’ Trotsky continued:

Inasmuch as Russia had its Revolution, capital was really safer there than anywhere else because, ‘whatever should happen abroad, the Soviet would adhere to any agreements it might make. Suppose one of your Americans invests money in Russia. When the Revolution comes to America, his property will of course be nationalised, but his agreement with us will hold good and he will thus be in a much more favourable position than the rest of his fellow capitalists.’[19] In contrast to the obliging Trotsky who was willing to guarantee the wealth and investments of Big Business, Hammer said of Stalin:

I never met Stalin and I never had any dealing with him. However it was perfectly clear to me in 1930 that Stalin was not a man with whom you could do business. Stalin believed that the state was capable of running everything, without the support of foreign concessionaires and private enterprise. That was the main reason why I left Moscow: I could see that I would soon be unable to do business there…[20]

As for Trotsky’s attitude toward capitalist investment, were the charges brought against Trotsky et al during the Moscow Trials wholly cynical efforts to disparage and eliminate the perceived opposition to Stalin’s authority, or was there at least some factual basis to the charge that the Trotskyist-Left and Bukharin-Right blocs sought to ‘restore capitalism’ to the USSR? It is of interest in this respect to note that even according to one of Trotsky’s present-day exponents, David North, Trotsky ‘placed greater emphasis than any other Soviet leader of his time on the overriding importance of close economic links between the USSR and the world capitalist market’. North speaking to an Australian Trotskyist conference went on to state of Trotsky’s attitude:

Soviet economic development, he insisted, required both access to the resources of the world market and the intelligent utilisation of the international division of labour. The development of economic planning required at minimum a knowledge of competitive advantage and efficiencies at the international level. It served no rational economic purpose for the USSR to make a virtue of frittering away its own limited resources in a vain effort to duplicate on Soviet soil what it could obtain at far less cost on the world capitalist market…. It is helpful to keep in mind that Trotsky belonged to a generation of Russian Marxists who had utilised the opportunity provided by revolutionary exile to carefully observe and study the workings of the capitalist system in the advanced countries. They were familiar not only with the oft-described ‘horrors’ of capitalism, but also with its positive achievements. … Trotsky argued that a vital precondition for the development of the Soviet economy along socialist lines was its assimilation of the basic techniques of capitalist management, organisation, accounting and production.[21]

It was against this background that during the latter half of the 1930s Stalin acted against the Trotsky and Bukharin blocs as agents of world capitalism and foreign powers. The most cogent defence of the Moscow Trials, The Great Conspiracy Against Russia,[22] was written by two American journalists, Albert E Kahn and Michael Sayers, and carried an endorsement by former US ambassador to the USSR, Joseph Davis, who had witnessed the trials.

Among the charges against Trotsky was that he was in contact with British Intelligence operatives, and was conspiring against Lenin. This is not altogether implausible. Lenin and the Bolshevik faction were in favour of a separate peace between Russia and Germany. Lenin and his entourage had been provided with funds and transport by the German General Staff to travel back to Russia,[23] while Trotsky’s return from New York to Russia had been facilitated by British and American Intelligence interests. Kahn and Sayers commented that ‘for fourteen years, Trotsky had fiercely opposed the Bolsheviks; then in August 1917, a few months before the Bolshevik Revolution he had joined Lenin’s party and risen to power with it. Within the Bolshevik Party, Trotsky was organizing a Left Opposition to Lenin.’[24]

Trotsky was not well disposed to negotiate peace with German imperialists, and it was a major point of debate among the Allies whether certain socialist revolutionaries could be won over to the Allied cause. Trotsky himself had stated in the offices of Novy Mir just before his departure from New York to Russia that although revolutionists would soon overthrow the Kerensky regime they ‘would not make a separate peace with Germany’.[25] From this perspective it would have made sense for William Wiseman to have intervened and for the British authorities to have let Trotsky proceed after having detained him at Nova Scotia.

American mining magnate and banker Colonel William Boyce Thompson, head of the American Red Cross Mission in Russia,[26] was eager to recruit the Bolsheviks for the Allied cause. He stated his intention of providing $1,000,000 of his own money to assist with Bolshevik propaganda directed at Germany and Austria. [27] Thompson’s insistence that if the Allies recognised the Bolsheviks they would not make a separate peace with Germany,[28] accorded with Trotsky’s own attitude insofar as he also wished to see the war end not with a separate peace but with revolutions that would bring down Germany and Austria. His agenda therefore seems to have been quite distinct from that of Lenin’s, and might point to separate sources of funds that were provided to them.

Trotsky’s actions when the Bolsheviks assumed power were consistent with his declarations, and went against Lenin’s policy of ending the war with Germany. As Foreign Commissar Trotsky had been sent to Brest-Litovsk ‘with categorical instructions from Lenin to sign peace.’[29] Instead he called for a Communist uprising in Germany, and stated that although the Russian army could no longer continue in the war and would demobilise, the Soviets would not sign a peace agreement. After Trotsky’s rhetoric at Brest-Litovsk the Germans launched another assault on the Eastern Front, and the new Red Army found itself still fighting the Germans.

It was at this point that R H Bruce Lockhart, special agent of the British War Cabinet, sought out Trotsky, on the instructions from British Prime Minister Lloyd George.

Lockhart, generally considered the typical anti-Bolshevik Establishment figure, was actually well disposed towards the Bolsheviks and like Colonel Thompson, hoped to win them over to the Allies. At one point his wife warned that his colleagues in Britain thought be might be going ‘Red’. Lockhart wrote of the situation:

Russia was out of the war. Bolshevism would last – certainly as long as the war lasted. I deprecated as sheer folly our militarist propaganda, because it took no account of the war-weariness which had raised the Bolsheviks to the supreme power. In my opinion, we had to take the Bolshevik peace proposals seriously. Our policy should now aim at achieving an anti-German peace in Russia’.[30]

Coincidentally, ‘an anti-German peace in Russia’ seems to precisely describe the aim of Trotsky.

Trotsky intended that the World War would be transformed into a revolutionary war, with the starting point being revolutions in Germany and Austria. This would certainly accord with Colonel Thompson’s intentions to fund Bolshevist propaganda in Germany and Austria with $1,000,000. Thompson was in communication with Trotsky via Raymond Robins, his deputy with the Red Cross Mission, and like him an enthusiast for the Bolshevik regime.[31] Lloyd George had met Thompson and had been won over to the aim of contacting Lenin and Trotsky. Lockhart was instructed to return to Russia to establish ‘unofficial contact with the Bolsheviks’.[32] Lockhart relates that he met Trotsky for two hours at the latter’s office at Smolny. While Lockhart was highly impressed with Trotsky he did not regard the Foreign Commissar as able to weld sufficient influence to replace Lenin. Trotsky’s parting words to Lockhart at this first meeting were: ‘Now is the big opportunity for the Allied Governments’. Thereafter Lockhart saw Trotsky on a daily basis. [33] Lockhart stated that Trotsky was willing to bring Soviet Russia over to Britain:

He considered that war was inevitable. If the Allies would send a promise of support, he informed me that he would sway the decision of the Government in favour of war. I sent several telegrams to London requesting an official message that would enable me to strengthen Trotsky’s hands. No message was sent.[34]

Stalineooooo.jpgGiven Trotsky’s position in regard to Germany, and the statements of Lockhart in his memoirs, the Stalinist accusation is entirely plausible that Trotsky was the focus of Allied support, and would explain why the British expedited Trotsky’s return to Russia. Indeed, Lockhart was to remark that the British view was that they might be able to make use of the dissensions between Trotsky and Lenin, and believed that the Allies could reach an accord with Soviet Russia because of the extravagant peace demands of the Germans.[35] However from what Lockhart sates, it seems that the Allied procrastination in regard to recondition of the Bolsheviks was the uncertainty that they constituted a stable and lasting Government, and that they were suspicious of the Bolshevik intentions towards Germany, with Lenin and Trotsky still widely regarded as German agents. [36]

The period preceding World War II, particularly the signing of the Anti-Comintern Pact between Germany, Italy and Japan, served as a catalyst for Stalin’s offensive against Trotskyists and other suspect elements. Trotsky had since his exile been promoted in the West as the great leader of the Bolshevik Revolution[37], while his own background had been one of opportunism, for the most part as an anti-Leninist Menshevik. [38] It was only in August 1917, seeing the situation in Russia, that Trotsky applied for membership of the Bolshevik Party.[39] Trotsky had joined the Bolshevik Party with his entire faction, a faction that remained intact within the Soviet apparatus, and was ready to be activated after Stalin’s election as General Secretary in 1922. Trotsky admits to a revolutionary network from 1923 when he wrote in his 1938 eulogy to his son Leon Sedov: ‘Leon threw himself headlong into the work of the Opposition…Thus, at seventeen, he began the life of a fully conscious revolutionist, quickly grasped the art of conspiratorial work, illegal meetings, and the secret issuing and distribution of Opposition documents. The Komsomol (Communist Youth organization) rapidly developed its own cadres of Opposition leaders.’[40] Hence Trotsky had freely admitted to the fundamental charges of the Stalinist regime: the existence of a widespread Trotskyist ‘conspiracy’. Indeed, as far back as 1921, the Central Committee of the Bolshevik Party had already passes a resolution banning all ‘factions’ in the Party, specifically warning Trotsky against ‘factional activities’, and condemning the factionalist activities of what the resolution called ‘Trotskyites’. [41]

In 1924 Trotsky met with Boris Savinkov, a Socialist Revolutionary, who had served as head of the terrorist wing, the so-called ‘Fighting Organization’, of the Party, and who had been Deputy Minister of War in the Kerensky Government. After the triumph of the Bolsheviks Savinkov, leaving Russia in 1920, became associated with French and Polish authorities, and with British agents Lockhart[42] and Sidney Reilly. [43] Savinkov was involved in counter-revolutionary activities, in trying to form an army to overthrow the Bolsheviks. Winston Churchill confirms Savinkov’s meeting with Trotsky in 1924, Churchill himself being involved in the anti-Soviet machinations, writing in his Great Contemporaries: ‘In June 1924, Kamenev and Trotsky definitely invited him (Savinkov) to return’.[44]

In 1924 a leading Trotskyite, Christian Rakovsky, arrived in Britain as Soviet Ambassador. According to the testimony at the Moscow Trial during March 1938 Rakovsky admitted to meeting two British agents, Lockhart and Captain Armstrong. Rakovsky is said to have confessed at this trial that Lockhart and Armstrong had told him that he had been permitted entry into Britain because of his association with Trotsky, as they wanted to cultivated relations with the latter. When Rakovsky reported back to Trotsky several months later, Trotsky was alleged to have been interested. In 1926 Rakovsky was transferred to France prior to which he was alleged to have been instructed by Trotsky to seek out contacts with ‘conservatives circles’ who might support an uprising, as Trotsky considered the situation in Russia to be right for a coup. Rakovsky, as instructed, met several French industrialists, including the grain merchant Louis Dreyfus, and the flax merchant Nicole, both Deputies of the French Parliament.[45] Rakovsky in his testimony during the 1936 trial of Bukharin, et al, Rakovsky being one of the defendants, relates the manner by which he was approached by various intelligence agencies, including those of Japan when in 1934 Rakovsky was head of a Soviet Red Cross Delegation.[46] Rakovsky spoke of the difficulty the Trotskyites had in maintaining relations with both British and Japanese intelligence agencies, since the two states were becoming antagonistic over problems in China.[47] Rakovsky explained that: ‘We Trotskyites have to play three cards at the present moment: the German, Japanese and British…’[48] At that time the Trotskyites – or at least Rakovsky – regarded the likelihood of a Japanese attack on the USSR as more likely than a German attack. Rakovsky even then alluded to his belief that an accord between Hitler and Stalin was possible. It seems plausible enough that Trotskyites were indeed looking toward an invasion of the USSR as the means of destabilising the regime during which Trotskyist cells could launch their counter-revolution. Certainly we know from the account of Churchill that Trotsky met the ultra-terrorist Socialist Revolutionary Savinkov, who was himself involved with British Intelligence via Reilly and Lockhart. Rakovsky stated of a possible Hitler-Stalin Pact:

Personally I thought that the possibility was not excluded that Hitler would seek a rapprochement with the government of the USSR. I cited the policy of Richelieu: in his own country he exterminated the Protestants, while in his foreign policy he concluded alliances with the Protestant German princes. The relations between Germany and Poland were still in the stage of their inception at the time. Japan, on the other hand, was a potent aggressor against the USSR. For us Trotskyites the Japanese card was extremely important, but, on the other hand, we should not overrate the importance of Japan as our ally against the Soviet government.[49]

As far as the Stalinist allegations go in regard to the Trotskyists aligning with foreign powers and viewing an invasion of the USSR as a catalyst for revolution, other ultra-Marxists had taken paths far more unlikely. As mentioned Savinkov, who had been one of the most violent of the Socialist Revolutionaries in Czarist Russia, had sought out British assistance in forming a counter-revolutionary army. Savinkov had fled to Poland in 1919 where he tried to organize ‘the evacuation committee’ within the Polish armies then attacking Russia.[50] Savinkov’s colleagues in Poland, Merezhkovsky, and his wife Zinaida Hippius, who had been ardent Socialist Revolutionary propagandists, later became supporters of Mussolini and then of Hitler, in the hope of overthrowing Stalin[51]. Therefore the Stalinist allegation of Trotskyite collusion even with Fascist powers is plausible.

It is the same road that resulted in the alliance of many Trotskyists, Mensheviks and other Leftists with the CIA, and their metamorphoses into ardent Cold Warriors. It is the same road that brought leading American Trotsky apologist Professor Sidney Hook, ‘a lifelong Menshevik’, to the leadership of a major CIA front, the previously considered Congress for Cultural Freedom.

Max Shachtman

Max Shachtman, one of Trotsky’s leading representatives in the USA[52], is pivotal when considering why Trotskyites became ardent Cold Warriors, CIA front men, apologists for US foreign policy, and continue to champion the USA as the only ‘truly revolutionary’ state.

Expelled from the Communist Party USA in 1928 Shachtman co-founded the Communist League and the Socialist Workers Party. He then split to form the Workers Party of the United States in 1940, which became the Independent Socialist League and merged with the Socialist Party in 1958. [53] The Socialist Party factionalised into the Democratic Socialists and the Social Democrats.

Shachtman was of course scathing of the Moscow Trials. His critique is standard, and will not be of concern here. [54] What is of interest is Shachtman’s surpassing of Trotsky himself in his opposition to the USSR, his faction (the so-called ‘Third Camp’) being what he considered as a purified, genuine Trotskyism, which eventuated into apologists for US foreign policy.

The Shachtmanist critique of the USSR was that it had at an early stage been transformed from ‘government ‘bureaucratism to ‘party bureaucratism’.[55] ‘Soviet bureaucratism became party bureaucratism. In increasing number the government official was the party official.’[56] ‘We do not have a workers’ state but a workers’ state with bureaucratic deformations’, Shachtman stated in quoting Trotsky as far back as 1922. And again from Trotsky: ‘We have a bureaucracy not only in the Soviet institutions, but in the institutions of the party’… Shachtman continues: ‘A month later, in a veiled public attack upon Stalin as head of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Inspection, he repeated his view that the state machine was still “a survival to a large extent of the former bureaucracy … with only a superficial new coat of paint.”’[57]

While in 1937 Shachtman declared that the USSR should nonetheless be defended against aggression from, for example, Nazi Germany and that it was a Stalinist slur to think that Trotsky would be an enemy of the USSR in such circumstances[58], by 1940 Shachtman was at loggerheads with Trotsky himself and the ‘Cannon’[59] group in the Workers Party.

The Trotskyites were agreed that Stalinist Russia had become a ‘degenerated’ workers’ state,’ however the Cannon-Trotsky line and the position of the Fourth International was that should the USSR be attacked by capitalist or fascist powers, because it still had a so-called ‘progressive’ economy based on the nationalisation of property, the USSR must be defended on that basis alone. The Shachtman line, on the other hand, argued from what they considered to be a dialectical position:

Just as it was once necessary, in connection with the trade union problem, to speak concretely of what kind of workers’ state exists in the Soviet Union, so it is necessary to establish, in connection with the present war, the degree of the degeneration of the Soviet state. The dialectical method of treating such questions makes this mandatory upon us. And the degree of the degeneration of the regime cannot be established by abstract reference to the existence of nationalized property, but only by observing the realities of living events.

The Fourth International established, years ago, the fact that the Stalinist regime (even though based upon nationalized property) had degenerated to the point where it was not only capable of conducting reactionary wars against the proletariat and its revolutionary vanguard, and even against colonial peoples, but did in fact conduct such wars. Now, in our opinion, on the basis of the actual course of Stalinist policy (again, even though based upon nationalized property), the Fourth International must establish the fact that the Soviet Union (i.e., the ruling bureaucracy and the armed forces serving it) has degenerated to the point where it is capable of conducting reactionary wars even against capitalist states (Poland, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, now Finland, and tomorrow Rumania and elsewhere). This is the point which forms the nub of our difference with you and with the Cannon faction.[60]

Shachtman now expressed his approach unequivocally:

War is a continuation of politics, and if Stalinist policy, even in the occupied territory where property has been statified, preserves completely its reactionary character, then the war it is conducting is reactionary. In that case, the revolutionary proletariat must refuse to give the Kremlin and its army material and military aid. It must concentrate all efforts on overturning the Stalinist regime. That is not our war! Our war is against the counterrevolutionary bureaucracy at the present time!

In other words, I propose, in the present war, a policy of revolutionary defeatism in the Soviet Union, as explained in the statement of the Minority on the Russian question – and in making this proposal I do not feel myself one whit less a revolutionary class patriot than I have always been.[61]

That was the Shachtmanite line during World War II: that it was better that Nazi Germany defeated Stalin than that the ‘degenerated workers’ state’ should continue to exist. The same thinking emerged during the Cold War, shortly after World War II, when Shachtman began to speak about the threat of Stalinist parties throughout the world as agencies for Soviet policy, a theme that would become a basis of US attitudes towards the USSR:

The Stalinist parties are indeed agents of the Kremlin oligarchy, no matter what country they function in. The interests and the fate of these Stalinist parties are inseparably intertwined with the interests and fate of the Russian bureaucracy. The Stalinist parties are everywhere based upon the power of the Russian bureaucracy, they serve this power, they are dependent upon it, and they cannot live without it.[62]

By 1948 Shachtmanism as a Cold Warrior apologia for American foreign policy was taking shape. In seeing positive signs in the Titoist Yugoslavia break with the USSR, Shachtman wrote:

In the first place, the division in the capitalist camp is, to all practical intents, at an end. In any case, there is nothing like the division that existed from 1939 onward and which gave Stalinist Russia such tremendous room for maneuvering. In spite of all the differences that still exist among them, the capitalist world under American imperialist leadership and drive is developing an increasingly solid front against Russian imperialism.[63]

In other words, Shachtman saw unity among the capitalist states against Stalinist Russia as a positive sign. The overthrow of Stalinism became the first priority of Shachtmanite Trotskyism in the Cold War era, as it had during World War II.

In 1948 Shachtman scathingly attacked the position of the Fourth International in having continued to defend the USSR as a ‘degenerated workers’ state’, and of its mistaken belief that the Stalinist ‘bureaucratic dictatorship’ world fall apart during World War II. He pointed out that Stalinist imperialism had emerged from the war victorious.[64]

From here it was but a short way for the Shachtmanites to embrace the Cold War opposition to the USSR, and for the heirs of this to continue as enthusiasts for US foreign policy to the present-day.

By 1950 Stalinism had become the major problem for world socialism, Shachtman now writing as head of the Independent Socialist League:

The principal new problem faced by Marxian theory, and therewith Marxian practice, is the problem of Stalinism. What once appeared to many to be either an academic or ‘foreign’ problem is now, it should at last be obvious, a decisive problem for all classes in all countries. If it is understood as a purely Russian phenomenon or as a problem ‘in itself,’ it is of course not understood at all.[65]

Natalia Sedova Trotsky

Natalia Sedova, Trotsky’s widow, endorsed the Shachtmanite line, declaring that the American-led alliance against the USSR would have been approved by her late husband. Her letter of resignation to the Fourth International and to the Socialist Workers Party (USA) is worth reproducing in its entirety:

You know quite well that I have not been in political agreement with you for the past five or six years, since the end of the [Second World] war and even earlier. The position you have taken on the important events of recent times shows me that, instead of correcting your earlier errors, you are persisting in them and deepening them. On the road you have taken, you have reached a point where it is no longer possible for me to remain silent or to confine myself to private protests. I must now express my opinions publicly.

The step which I feel obliged to take has been a grave and difficult one for me, and I can only regret it sincerely. But there is no other way. After a great deal of reflections and hesitations over a problem which pained me deeply, I find that I must tell you that I see no other way than to say openly that our disagreements make it impossible for me to remain any longer in your ranks.

The reasons for this final action on my part are known to most of you. I repeat them here briefly only for those to whom they are not familiar, touching only on our fundamentally important differences and not on the differences over matters of daily policy which are related to them or which follow from them.

Obsessed by old and outlived formulas, you continue to regard the Stalinist state as a workers’ state. I cannot and will not follow you in this.

Virtually every year after the beginning of the fight against the usurping Stalinist bureaucracy, L D Trotsky repeated that the regime was moving to the right, under conditions of a lagging world revolution and the seizure of all political positions in Russia by the bureaucracy. Time and again, he pointed out how the consolidation of Stalinism in Russia led to the worsening of the economic, political and social positions of the working class, and the triumph of a tyrannical and privileged aristocracy. If this trend continues, he said, the revolution will be at an end and the restoration of capitalism will be achieved.

That, unfortunately, is what has happened even if in new and unexpected forms. There is hardly a country in the world where the authentic ideas and bearers of socialism are so barbarously hounded. It should be clear to everyone that the revolution has been completely destroyed by Stalinism. Yet you continue to say that under this unspeakable regime, Russia is still a workers’ state. I consider this a blow at socialism. Stalinism and the Stalinist state have nothing whatever in common with a workers’ state or with socialism. They are the worst and the most dangerous enemies of socialism and the working class.

You now hold that the states of Eastern Europe over which Stalinism established its domination during and after the war, are likewise workers’ states. This is equivalent to saying that Stalinism has carried out a revolutionary socialist role. I cannot and will not follow you in this.

After the war and even before it ended, there was a rising revolutionary movement of the masses in these Eastern countries. But it was not these masses that won power and it was not a workers’ state that was established by their struggle. It was the Stalinist counterrevolution that won power, reducing these lands to vassals of the Kremlin by strangling the working masses, their revolutionary struggles and their revolutionary aspirations.

By considering that the Stalinist bureaucracy established workers’ states in these countries, you assign to it a progressive and even revolutionary role. By propagating this monstrous falsehood to the workers’ vanguard, you deny to the Fourth International all the basic reasons for existence as the world party of the socialist revolution. In the past, we always considered Stalinism to be a counterrevolutionary force in every sense of the term. You no longer do so. But I continue to do so.

In 1932 and 1933, the Stalinists, in order to justify their shameless capitulation to Hitlerism, declared that it would matter little if the Fascists came to power because socialism would come after and through the rule of Fascism. Only dehumanized brutes without a shred of socialist thought or spirit could have argued this way. Now, notwithstanding the revolutionary aims which animate you, you maintain that the despotic Stalinist reaction which has triumphed in Europe is one of the roads through which socialism will eventually come. This view marks an irredeemable break with the profoundest convictions always held by our movement and which I continue to share.

I find it impossible to follow you in the question of the Tito regime in Yugoslavia. All the sympathy and support of revolutionists and even of all democrats, should go to the Yugoslav people in their determined resistance to the efforts of Moscow to reduce them and their country to vassalage. Every advantage should be taken of the concessions which the Yugoslav regime now finds itself obliged to make to the people. But your entire press is now devoted to an inexcusable idealization of the Titoist bureaucracy for which no ground exists in the traditions and principles of our movement.

This bureaucracy is only a replica, in a new form, of the old Stalinist bureaucracy. It was trained in the ideas, the politics and morals of the GPU. Its regime differs from Stalin’s in no fundamental regard. It is absurd to believe or to teach that the revolutionary leadership of the Yugoslav people will develop out of this bureaucracy or in any way other than in the course of struggle against it.

Most insupportable of all is the position on the war to which you have committed yourselves. The third world war which threatens humanity confronts the revolutionary movement with the most difficult problems, the most complex situations, the gravest decisions. Our position can be taken only after the most earnest and freest discussions. But in the face of all the events of recent years, you continue to advocate, and to pledge the entire movement to, the defense of the Stalinist state. You are even now supporting the armies of Stalinism in the war which is being endured by the anguished Korean people. I cannot and will not follow you in this.

As far back as 1927, Trotsky, in reply to a disloyal question put to him in the Political Bureau [of the Soviet Communist Party] by Stalin, stated his views as follows: For the socialist fatherland, yes! For the Stalinist regime, no! That was in 1927! Now, twenty-three years later Stalin has left nothing of the socialist fatherland. It has been replaced by the enslavement and degradation of the people by the Stalinist autocracy. This is the state you propose to defend in the war, which you are already defending in Korea.

I know very well how often you repeat that you are criticizing Stalinism and fighting it. But the fact is that your criticism and your fight lose their value and can yield no results because they are determined by and subordinated to your position of defense of the Stalinist state. Whoever defends this regime of barbarous oppression, regardless of the motives, abandons the principles of socialism and internationalism.

In the message sent me from the recent convention of the SWP you write that Trotsky’s ideas continue to be your guide. I must tell you that I read these words with great bitterness. As you observe from what I have written above, I do not see his ideas in your politics. I have confidence in these ideas. I remain convinced that the only way out of the present situation is the social revolution, the self-emancipation of the proletariat of the world.[66]

Natalia Trotsky, like the Shachtmanites, regarded the USSR as having irredeemably destroyed Marxism, and that the only option left was to destroy the USSR, which meant aligning with the USA in the Cold War.

It was this bellicose anti-Stalinism that brought the Shachtmanites into the US foreign policy establishment during the Cold War, and beyond, to the present-day. Haberkern, an admirer of Shachtman’s early commitment to Trotskyism and opposition to Stalinism, lamented:

There is, unfortunately, a sad footnote to Shachtman’s career. Beginning in the 50s he began to move to the right in response to the discouraging climate of the Cold War. He ended up a Cold Warrior and apologist for the Meany wing of the AFL-CIO.[67] But that should not diminish the value of his earlier contributions.[68]

Cold War and Beyond

Professor Hook and Max Shachtman veered increasingly towards a pro-US position to the point that Hook, while maintaining his commitment to Social-Democracy, voted for Richard Nixon and publicly defended President Ronald Reagan’s policies.

During the 1960s, Hook critiqued the New Left and became an outspoken supporter of the Vietnam War. In 1984 he was selected by the National Endowment for the Humanities to give the annual Jefferson Lecture, ‘the highest honor the federal government confers for distinguished intellectual achievement in the humanities’. [69] On May 23 1985 Hook was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Reagan. Edward S Shapiro writing in the American ‘conservative’ journal First Principles, summarised Hook’s position:

One of America’s leading anticommunist intellectuals,[70] Hook supported American entry into the Korean War, the isolation of Red China, the efforts of the United States government to maintain a qualitative edge in nuclear weapons, the Johnson administration’s attempt to preserve a pro-western regime in South Vietnam, and the campaign of the Reagan administration to overthrow the communist regime in Nicaragua.

Those both within and outside of conservative circles viewed Hook as one of the gurus of the neoconservative revival during the 1970s and 1980s. In 1985, President Reagan presented Hook with the Presidential Medal of Freedom for being one of the first ‘to warn the intellectual world of its moral obligations and personal stake in the struggle between freedom and totalitarianism’.[71]

In the 1960s Shachtmanism aligned with the Democratic Party and was also involved with the New Left. By the mid 1960s such was the Shachtmanite opposition to the USSR that they had arrived on issues of American foreign policy that were the same as Hook’s, including supporting the American presence in Vietnam. In 1972 the Shachtmanists endorsed Leftist Senator Henry Jackson for the Democratic presidential nomination against Leftist George McGovern whom they regarded as an appeaser toward the USSR. Jackson was both pro-war and vehemently anti-Soviet, advocating a ‘hawkish’ position on foreign policy towards the USSR. Like Hook, Jackson was also awarded the Medal of Freedom by President Reagan in 1984.

At this time Tom Kahn, a prominent Shachtmanite and an organizer of the AFL-CIO, who will be considered below, was Senator Jackson’s chief speechwriter.[72] Many of Jackson’s aides were to become prominent in the oddly ‘neo-conservative’ movement, including veteran Trotskyites Paul Wolfowitz, Elliott Abrams, Richard Perle, and Douglas Feith, all of whom became prominent in the Administration of President George H W Bush, all of whom helped to instigate the present war against Islam, which they began to call ‘Islamofascism’, as a new means of extending American world supremacy.

Tom Kahn, who remained an avid follower of Shachtman, explained his mentor’s position on the USA in Vietnam in this way, while insisting that Shachtman never compromised his Socialist ideals:

His views on Vietnam were, and are, unpopular on the Left. He had no allusions about the South Vietnamese government, but neither was he confused about the totalitarian nature of the North Vietnamese regime. In the South there were manifest possibilities for a democratic development… He knew that those democratic possibilities would be crushed if Hanoi’s military takeover of the South succeeded. He considered the frustration of the attempt to be a worthy objective of American policy…[73]

This position in it own right can be readily justified by dialectics, as the basis for the support of Trotskyist factions, including those of both Hook and Shachtman during the Cold War, and the present legacy of the so-called ‘neo-cons’ in backing American foreign policy as the manifestation of a ‘global democratic revolution’, as a development of Trotsky’s ‘world proletarian revolution.’ 

National Endowment for Democracy

It was from this milieu that the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) was formed, which took up form the CIA’s Congress for Cultural Freedom.

President George W Bush embraced the world revolutionary mission of the USA, stating in 2003 to NED that the war in Iraq was the latest front in the ‘global democratic revolution’ led by the United States. ‘The revolution under former president Ronald Reagan freed the people of Soviet-dominated Europe, he declared, and is destined now to liberate the Middle East as well’. [74]

NED was established in 1983 at the prompting of Shachtmanist veteran Tom Kahn, and endorsed by an Act of US Congress introduced by Congressman George Agree. Carl Gershman, [75] a Shachtmanite, was appointed president of NED in 1984, and remains so. Gershman had been a founder and Executive Director (1974-1980) of Social Democrats USA (SD-USA).[76] Among the founding directors of NED was Albert Glotzer, a national committee member of the SD-USA, who had served as Trotsky’s bodyguard and secretary in Turkey in 1931,[77] who had assisted Shachtman with founding the Workers Party of the United States.

Congressman Agree and Tom Kahn believed that the USA needed a means, apart from the CIA, of supporting subversive movements against the USSR. Kahn, who became International Affairs Director of the AFL-CIO, was particularly spurred by the need to support the Solidarity movement in Poland, and had been involved with AFL-CIO meetings with Leftists from Latin America and South Africa. [78]

Kahn had joined the Young Socialist League, the youth wing of Shachtman’s Independent Socialist League, [79] and the Young People’s Socialist League, which he continued to support until his death in 1992. Kahn was impressed by the Shachtman opposition to the USSR as the primary obstacle to world socialism. [80] He built up an anti-Soviet network throughout the world in ‘opposition to the accommodationist policies of détente’.[81] There was a particular focus on assisting Solidarity in Poland from 1980.[82] Racehlle Horowitz’s eulogy to Kahn ends with her confidence that had he been alive, he would have been a vigorous supporter of the war in Iraq. [83]

NED is funded by US Congress and supports ‘activists and scholars’ with 1000 grants in over 90 countries.[84]  NED describes its program thus:

From time to time Congress has provided special appropriations to the Endowment to carry out specific democratic initiatives in countries of special interest, including Poland (through the trade union Solidarity), Chile, Nicaragua, Eastern Europe (to aid in the democratic transition following the demise of the Soviet bloc), South Africa, Burma, China, Tibet, North Korea and the Balkans. With the latter, NED supported a number of civic groups, including those that played a key role in Serbia’s electoral breakthrough in the fall of 2000. More recently, following 9/11 and the NED Board’s adoption of its third strategic document, special funding has been provided for countries with substantial Muslim populations in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia.[85]

NED therefore serves as a kind of ‘Comintern’ of the so-called ‘American democratic revolution’ throughout the world. The subversion by the USA, culturally, politically, and economically, with its front-groups, spies, fellow-travellers, activists, and outright revolutionaries, is more far-reaching than the USSR’s allegedly ‘communist’ subversion ever was.

The accusation by the Stalinists at the Moscow Trials of the 1930s was that the Trotskyists were agents of foreign powers and would reintroduce capitalism. The crisis in Marxism caused by the Stalinist regime – the so-called ‘betrayal of the revolution’ as Trotsky himself termed it – resulted in such outrage among the Trotskyites that they were willing to whore themselves and undertake anything to bring down the Soviet edifice.


[1] American President Woodrow Wilson’s principal adviser and confidante.

[2] Henry Wickham Steed, Through Thirty Years 1892-1922 A personal narrative, ‘The Peace Conference, The Bullitt Mission’, Vol. II.  (New York: Doubleday Page and Co., 1924), 301.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Samuel Gompers, ‘Soviet Bribe Fund Here Says Gompers, Has Proof That Offers Have Been Made, He Declares, Opposing Recognition. Propaganda Drive. Charges Strong Group of Bankers With Readiness to Accept Lenin’s Betrayal of Russia’, The New York Times, 1 May 1922.

[6] Richard B Spence, ‘Hidden Agendas: Spies, Lies and Intrigue Surrounding Trotsky’s American Visit, January-April 1917’, Revolutionary Russia, Volume 21, Issue 1 June 2008, 33 – 55.

[7] Ibid.

[8] It is more accurate to state that Trotsky managed to straddle both the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks until the impending success of the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Military Intelligence Division, 9140-6073, Memorandum # 2, 23 August 1918, 2. Cited by Spence, op.cit.

[12] Spence, ibid.

[13] Wiseman became a partner in 1929.

[14] ‘Sir William’s New Bank’, Time, October 17 1955.

[15] The foregoing on Trotsky’s associations from Spain to New York and his transit back to Russia are indebted to Spence, op.cit.

[16] Edward M. House, ed. Charles Seymour, The Intimate Papers of Col. House (New York: Houghton, Mifflin Co.), Vol. III, 421.

[17] Peter Grosse, Continuing The Inquiry: The Council on Foreign Relations from 1921 to 1996, (New York: Council on Foreign Relations, 2006), ‘Basic Assumptions’. The entire book can be read online at: http://www.cfr.org/about/history/cfr/index.html [3]

[18] Armand Hammer, Witness to History (London: Coronet Books, 1988), 221.

[19] Ibid., 160.

[20] Ibid., 221.

[21] David North, ‘Leon Trotsky and the Fate of Socialism in the 20th Century’, opening lecture to the International Summer School on ‘Marxism and the Fundamental Problems of the 20th Century’, organised by the International Committee of the Fourth International and the Socialist Equality Party of Australia, Sydney, Australia, January 3 1998. David North is the national secretary of the Socialist Equality Party in the USA, and has lectured extensively in Europe, Asia, the US and Russia on Marxism and the program of the Fourth International. http://www.wsws.org/exhibits/trotsky/trlect.htm [4] (accessed 12 March 2010).

[22] Albert E Kahn and Michael Sayers, The Great Conspiracy Against Russia, (London: Collet’s Holdings Ltd., 1946).

[23] Antony Sutton, op.cit., 39-42.

[24] Kahn and Sayers, op.cit. p. 29.

[25] ‘Calls People War Weary, But Leo Trotsky Says They Do Tot Want Separate Peace’, The New York Times, 16 March 1917.

[26] The real purpose of the American Red Cross Mission in Russia was to examine how commercial relations could be established with the fledgling Bolshevik regime, as indicated by the fact that there were more business representatives in the Mission than there were medical personnel. See: Dr Anton Sutton, Wall Street and the Bolshevik Revolution (New York: Arlington House Publishers, 1974), 71-88. K R Bolton, Revolution from Above (London: Arktos Media Ltd., 2011) 63-64.

[27] ‘Gives Bolsheviki a Million’, Washington Post, 2 February 1918, cited by Sutton, op.cit., ., pp. 82-83.

[28] The New York Times, 27 January 1918, op.cit.

[29] Kahn and Sayers, op.cit., p. 29.

[30] R H Bruce Lockhart, British Agent (London: G P Putnam’s Sons, 1933), Book Four, ‘History From the Inside’, Chapter I.

[31] Antony Sutton, op.cit., 84, 86.

[32] R H Bruce Lockhart, op.cit.

[33] Ibid., Chapter III.

[34] Ibid.

[35] Ibid. Lockhart observed that while the German peace terms received 112 votes from the Central Executive Committee of the Bolshevik Party, there had been 86 against, and 25 abstentions, among the latter of whom was Trotsky.

[36] Ibid., Chapter IV.

[37] That at least was the perception of Stalinists of Trotsky’s depiction by the West, as portrayed by Kahn and Sayers, op.cit., 194.

[38] Kahn and Sayers cite a number of Lenin’s statements regarding Trotsky, dating from 1911, when Lenin stated that Trotsky slides from one faction to another and back again, but ultimately ‘I must declare that Trotsky represents his own faction only…’ Ibid., 195.

[39] Ibid., 199.

[40] Leon Trotsky, Leon Sedov: Son-Friend-Fighter, 1938, cited by Kahn and Sayers, 205.

[41] Ibid., 204.

[42] R H Bruce Lockhart, op.cit., Book Three: War & Peace, Chapter IX. Lockhart described Savinkov as a professional ‘schemer’, who ‘had mingled so much with spies and agents-provocateurs that, like the hero in his own novel, he hardly knew whether he was deceiving himself or those whom he meant to deceive’. Lockhart commented that Savinkov had ‘entirely captivated Mr Churchill, who saw in him a Russian Bonaparte’.

[43] Reilly, the British ‘super agent’ although widely known for his anti-Bolshevik views, prior to his becoming a ‘super spy’ and possibly working for the intelligence agencies of four states, by his own account had been arrested in 1892 in Russia by the Czarist secret police as a messenger for the revolutionary Friends of Enlightenment.

[44] Kahn and Sayers, op.cit., 208.

[45] Commissariat of Justice, Report of the Case of the Anti-Soviet ‘Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites’, Heard Before The Military Collegium of the Court of the USSR, Moscow, March 24 1938, 307.

[46] Ibid., 288.

[47]  Ibid. 293.

[48] Ibid.

[49] Ibid.

[50] Bernice Glatzer Rosenthal, ‘Eschatology and the Appeal of Revolution’, California Slavic Studies, Volume. II, University of California Press, California, 1930, 116.

[51] Ibid.

[52] Shachtman was one of the two most prominent Trotskyites in the USA according to Trotskyist historian Ernest Haberkern, Introduction to Max Shachtman, http://www.marxists.org/archive/shachtma/intro.htm [5]

[53] ‘British Trotskyism in 1931’, Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism Online: Revolutionary History, http://www.marxists.org/history/etol/revhist/backiss/vol1/no1/glotzer.html [6]

[54] Max Shachtman, Behind the Moscow Trial (New York: Pioneer Publishers, 1936).

[55] Max Shachtman, ‘Trotsky Begins the Fight’, The Struggle for the New Course (New York: New International Publishing Co., 1943).

[56] Ibid.

[57] Ibid.

[58] Leon Trotsky, In Defence of the Soviet Union, Max Shachtman, ‘Introduction.’ (New York: Pioneer Publishers, 1937).

[59] James P Cannon, a veteran Trotskyist and former colleague of Shachtman’s.

[60] Max Shachtman, ‘The Crisis in the American Party: An Open Letter in Reply to Comrade Leon Trotsky’, New International, Vol.6 No.2, March 1940), 43-51.

[61] Ibid.

[62] Max Shachtman, ‘The Nature of the Stalinist Parties: Their Class Roots, Political Role and Basic Aim’, The New International: A Monthly Organ of Revolutionary Marxism, Vol.13 No.3, March 1947, 69-74.

[63]Max Shachtman, ‘Stalinism on the Decline: Tito versus Stalin The Beginning of the End of the Russian Empire’, New International, Vol. XIV No.6, August 1948, 172-178.

[64] Max Shachtman, ‘The Congress of the Fourth International: An Analysis of the Bankruptcy of “Orthodox Trotskyism”’, New International, Vol.XIV, No.8, October 1948, pp.236-245.

[65] Max Shachtman, ‘Reflections on a Decade Past: On the Tenth Anniversary of Our Movement’, The New International: A Monthly Organ of Revolutionary Marxism, Vol.16 No.3, May-June 1950, pp.131-144.

[66] Natalia Sedova Trotsky, May 9, 1951, Labor Action, June 17, 1951, http://www.marxists.org/history/etol/newspape/socialistvoice/natalia38.html [7]

[67] American Federation of Labor-Central Industrial Organization.

[68] Haberkern, op.cit.

[69] Sidney Hook, ‘Education in Defense of a Free Society’, 1984, Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities, National Endowment for Humanities, http://www.neh.gov/whoweare/jefflect.html [8]

[70] Again, there is obfuscation with the use of the term ‘anti-Communist’. What is meant in such cases is not opposition to Communism, but opposition to Stalinism, and the course the USSR had set upon after the elimination of the Trotskyites, et al. Many of these so-called ‘anti-Communists’ in opposing the USSR considered themselves loyal to the legacy of Trotsky.

[71] Edward S Shapiro, ‘Hook, Sidney’, First Principles: The Home of American Intellectual Conservatism, July 3,  2009, http://www.firstprinciplesjournal.com/articles.aspx?article=699&loc=r [9]

[72] Tom Kahn, ‘Max Shachtman: His Ideas and His Movement’, Editor’s Note on Kahn, Dissent Magazine, 252 http://www.dissentmagazine.org/democratiya/article_pdfs/d11Khan.pdf [10]

[73] Tom Kahn, Democratiya 11, 2007, reprinted in Dissent Magazine, ibid., 258.

[74] Fred Barbash, ‘Bush: Iraq Part of ‘Global Democratic Revolution’: Liberation of Middle East Portrayed as Continuation of Reagan’s Policies’, Washington Post, 6 November 6, 2003.

[75] Gershman served as Senior Counsellor to the United States Representative to the United Nations beginning in 1981. As it happens, the Representative he was advising was fellow Social Democrats comrade, Jeane Kirkpatrick, who had begun her political career in the (Trotskyist) Young People’s Socialist League, a branch of the Shachtmanist-orientated Socialist Party, as had many other ‘neo-cons.’

[76] The Social Democrats USA had originated in 1972 after a split with the Trotskyist-orientated Socialist Party. The honorary chairman of the Social Democrats USA until his death in 1984 was Prof. Sidney Hook.

[77] Glotzer was a leading Trotskyist. Expelled from the Communist Party USA in 1928 along with Max Shachtman, they founded the Communist League and the subsequent factions. When the Socialist Party factionalised in 1972 Glotzer joined the Social Democrats – USA faction, which remained closest to Shachtmanism, and which supported US foreign policy. Even in 1981 Glotzer was still involved with luminaries of the Socialist Workers Party. “British Trotskyism in 1931”, Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism Online: Revolutionary History, http://www.marxists.org/history/etol/revhist/backiss/vol1/no1/glotzer.html (Accessed 7 March 2010).

[78] Rachelle Horowitz, “Tom Kahn and the Fight for Democracy: A Political Portrait and Personal Recollection”, Dissent Magazine, pp. 238-239. http://www.dissentmagazine.org/democratiya/article_pdfs/d11Horowitz.pdf (Accessed 8 March 2010).

[79] Ibid., p. 209.

[80] Ibid. p 211.

[81] Ibid., p. 234.

[82] Ibid., p. 235.

[83] Ibid., p. 246.

[84] ‘About NED’, National Endowment for Democracy, http://www.ned.org/about (accessed 7 March 2010).

[85] David Lowe, ‘Idea to Reality: NED at 25: Reauthorization’, NED, http://www.ned.org/about/history (accessed 7 March 2010).


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URLs in this post:

[1] Image: http://www.counter-currents.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/trotsky2.jpg

[2] Stalin: The Enduring Legacy: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1908476443/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=1908476443&linkCode=as2&tag=countercurren-20

[3] http://www.cfr.org/about/history/cfr/index.html: http://www.cfr.org/about/history/cfr/index.html

[4] http://www.wsws.org/exhibits/trotsky/trlect.htm: http://www.wsws.org/exhibits/trotsky/trlect.htm

[5] http://www.marxists.org/archive/shachtma/intro.htm: http://www.marxists.org/archive/shachtma/intro.htm

[6] http://www.marxists.org/history/etol/revhist/backiss/vol1/no1/glotzer.html: http://www.marxists.org/history/etol/revhist/backiss/vol1/no1/glotzer.html

[7] http://www.marxists.org/history/etol/newspape/socialistvoice/natalia38.html: http://www.marxists.org/history/etol/newspape/socialistvoice/natalia38.html

[8] http://www.neh.gov/whoweare/jefflect.html: http://www.neh.gov/whoweare/jefflect.html

[9] http://www.firstprinciplesjournal.com/articles.aspx?article=699&loc=r: http://www.firstprinciplesjournal.com/articles.aspx?article=699&loc=r

[10] http://www.dissentmagazine.org/democratiya/article_pdfs/d11Khan.pdf: http://www.dissentmagazine.org/democratiya/article_pdfs/d11Khan.pdf