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dimanche, 11 mars 2012

The Eviction of the Yeomen

The Eviction of the Yeomen

By Brooks Adams

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

Editor’s Note:

The following is roughly the first 40% of “The Eviction of the Yeomen,” chapter 9 of Brooks Adams’ The Law of Civilization and Decay.

Reading Adams’ account of the forces that ultimately created the British empire and diaspora, it is hard to regard it as a glorious and civilizing process, but rather as a sordid and savage one, given that the conquest and settling of new lands, the extermination, enslavement, and dispossession of non-whites, and even the despoiling of nature and the extinction of entire species, appear to be mere extensions of the rise of capitalism in England on the ruins of a fundamentally more humane political order.

None of this implies, of course, that the heirs of these upheavals should surrender our lands and go home. Past wrongs cannot be redressed, and in any case, our primary focus should be on building a just social order for the future. And for that task, Brooks Adams offers us much food for thought.

The remainder of chapter 9 deals with the Church of England. It throws a great deal of light on the prevalence of religious cynicism and insincerity in the Angl0 cultural sphere. I will reprint it on another occasion.

010_1.jpgLike primitive Rome, England, during the Middle Ages, had an unusually homogeneous population of farmers, who made a remarkable infantry. Not that the cavalry was defective; on the contrary, from top to bottom of society, every man was a soldier, and the aristocracy had excellent fighting qualities. Many of the kings, like Coeur-de-Lion, Edward III, and Henry V, ranked among the ablest commanders of their day; the Black Prince has always been a hero of chivalry; and earls and barons could be named by the score who were famous in the Hundred Years’ War.

Yet, although the English knights were a martial body, there is nothing to show that, on the whole, they surpassed the French. The English infantry won Crecy and Poitiers, and this infantry, which was long the terror of Europe, was recruited from among the small farmers who flourished in Great Britain until they were exterminated by the advance of civilization.

As long as the individual could at all withstand the attack of the centralized mass of society, England remained a hot-bed for breeding this species of man. A medieval king had no means of collecting a regular revenue by taxation; he was only the chief of the free-men, and his estates were supposed to suffice for his expenditure. The revenue the land yielded consisted of men, not money, and to obtain men, the sovereign granted his domains to his nearest friends, who, in their turn, cut their manors into as many farms as possible, and each farmer paid his rent with his body.

A baron’s strength lay in the band of spears which followed his banner, and therefore he subdivided his acres as much as possible, having no great need of money. Himself a farmer, he cultivated enough of his fief to supply his wants, to provide his table, and to furnish his castle, but, beyond this, all he kept to himself was loss. Under such a system money contracts played a small part, and economic competition was unknown.

The tenants were free-men, whose estates passed from father to son by a fixed tenure; no one could underbid them with their landlord, and no capitalist could ruin them by depressing wages, for the serfs formed the basis of society, and these serfs were likewise land-owners. In theory, the villains may have held at will; but in fact they were probably the descendants, or at least the representatives, of the coloni of the Empire, and a base tenure could be proved by the roll of the manorial court. Thus even the weakest were protected by custom, and there was no competition in the labor market.

The manor was the social unit, and, as the country was sparsely settled, waste spaces divided the manors from each other, and these wastes came to be considered as commons appurtenant to the domain in which the tenants of the manor had vested rights. The extent of these rights varied from generation to generation, but substantially they amounted to a privilege of pasture, fuel, or the like; aids which, though unimportant to large property owners, were vital when the margin of income was narrow.

During the old imaginative age, before centralization gathered headway, little inducement existed to pilfer these domains, since there was room in plenty, and the population increased slowly, if at all. The moment the form of competition changed, these conditions were reversed. Precisely when a money rent became a more potent force than armed men may be hard to determine, but certainly that time had come when Henry VIII mounted the throne, for then capitalistic farming was on the increase, and speculation in real estate already caused sharp distress. At that time the establishment of a police had destroyed the value of the retainer, and competitive rents had generally supplanted military tenures. Instead of tending to subdivide, as in an age of decentralization, land consolidated in the hands of the economically strong, and capitalists systematically enlarged their estates by enclosing the commons, and depriving the yeomen of their immemorial rights.

The sixteenth-century landlords were a type quite distinct from the ancient feudal gentry. As a class they were gifted with the economic, and not with the martial instinct, and they throve on competition. Their strength lay in their power of absorbing the property of their weaker neighbors under the protection of an overpowering police.

Everything tended to accelerate consolidation, especially the rise in the value of money. While, even with the debasement of the coin, the price of cereals did not advance, the growth of manufactures had caused wool to double in value. “We need not therefore be surprised at finding that the temptation to sheep-farming was almost irresistible, and that statute after statute failed to arrest the tendency.”[1]

The conversion of arable land into pasture led, of course, to wholesale eviction, and by 1515 the suffering had become so acute that details were given in acts of Parliament. Places where two hundred persons had lived, by growing corn and grain, were left desolate, the houses had decayed, and the churches fallen into ruin.[2]The language of these statutes proves that the descriptions of contemporaries were not exaggerated.

For I myself know many towns and villages sore decayed, for it whereas in times past there war in some town an hundred households there remain not now thirty; in some fifty, there are not now ten; yea (which is more to be lamented) I know towns so wholly decayed, that there is neither stick nor stone standing as they use to say.

Where many men had good livings, and maintained hospitality, able at times to help the king in his wars, and to sustain other charges, able also to help their pore neighbors, and virtuously to bring up their children in Godly letters and good sciences, now sheep and conies devour altogether, no man inhabiting the aforesaid places. Those beasts which were created of God for the nourishment of man do now devour man. . . . And the cause of all this wretchedness and beggary in the common weal are the greedy Gentlemen, which are sheepmongers and grazers. While they study for their own private commodity, the common weal is like to decay. Since they began to be sheep masters and feeders of cattle, we neither had victual nor cloth of any reasonable price. No meruayle, for these forestallers of the market, as they use to say, have gotten all things so into their hands, that the poor man must either buy it at their price, or else miserably starve for hunger, and wretchedly die for cold.[3]

The reduction of the acreage in tillage must have lessened the crop of the cereals, and accounts for their slight rise in value during the second quarter of the sixteenth century. Nevertheless this rise gave the farmer no relief, as, under competition, rents advanced faster than prices, and in the generation which reformed the Church, the misery of yeomen had become extreme. In 1549 Latimer preached a sermon, which contains a passage often quoted, but always interesting:

Furthermore, if the king’s honor, as some men say, standeth in the great multitude of people; then these grazers, inclosers, and rent-rearers, are hinderers of the king’s honor. For where as have been a great many householders and inhabitants, there is now but a shepherd and his dog. . . .

My father was yeoman, and had no lands of his own, only he had a farm of three or four pound by year at the uttermost, and hereupon he tilled so much as kept half a dozen men. He had walk for a hundred sheep; and my mother milked thirty kine. He was able, and did find the king a harness, with himself and his horse, while he came to the place that he should receive the king’s wages. I can remember that I buckled his harness when he went unto Blackheath field. He kept me to school, or else I had not been able to have preached before the king’s majesty now.

He married my sisters with five pound, or twenty nobles apiece; so that he brought them up in godliness and fear of God. He kept hospitality for his poor neighbors, and some alms he gave to the poor. And all this he did of the said farm, where he that now hath it payeth sixteen pound by year, or more, and is not able to do anything for his prince, for himself, nor for his children, or give a cup of drink to the poor.[4]

The small proprietor suffered doubly: he had to meet the competition of large estates, and to endure the curtailment of his resources through the enclosure of the commons. The effect was to pauperize the yeomanry and lesser gentry, and before the Reformation the homeless poor had so multiplied that, in 1530, Parliament passed the first of a series of vagrant acts.[5]

ImperialYeomanryOfficer.jpgAt the outset the remedy applied was comparatively mild, for able-bodied mendicants were only to be whipped until they were bloody, returned to their domicile, and there whipped until they put themselves to labor. As no labor was supplied, the legislation failed, and in 1537 the emptying of the convents brought matters to a climax. Meanwhile Parliament tried the experiment of killing off the unemployed; by the second act vagrants were first mutilated and then hanged as felons.[6]

In 1547, when Edward VI was crowned, the great crisis had reached its height. The silver of Potosi had not yet brought relief, the currency was in chaos, labor was disorganized, and the nation seethed with the discontent which broke out two years later in rebellion. The land-owners held absolute power, and before they yielded to the burden of feeding the starving, they seriously addressed themselves to the task of extermination. The preamble of the third act stated that, in spite of the “great travel” and “godly statutes” of Parliament, pauperism had not diminished, therefore any vagrant brought before two justices was to be adjudged the slave of his captor for two years. He might be compelled to work by beating, chaining, or otherwise, be fed on bread and water, or refuse meat, and confined by a ring of iron about his neck, arms or legs. For his first attempt at escape, his slavery became perpetual, for his second, he was hanged.[7]

Even as late as 1591, in the midst of the great expansion which brought prosperity to all Europe, and when the monks and nuns, cast adrift by the suppression of the convents, must have mostly died, beggars so swarmed that at the funeral of the Earl of Shrewsbury:

there were by the report of such as served the dole unto them, the number of 8000. And they thought that there were almost as many more that could not be served, through their unruliness. Yea, the press was so great that divers were slain and many hurt. And further it is reported of credible persons, that well estimated the number of all the said beggars, that they thought there were about 20,000.

It was conjectured “that all the said poor people were abiding and dwelling within thirty miles’ compass of Sheffield.”[8]

In 1549, just as the tide turned, insurrection blazed out all over England. In the west a pitched battle was fought between the peasantry and foreign mercenaries, and Exeter was relieved only after a long siege. In Norfolk the yeomen, led by one Kett, controlled a large district for a considerable time. They arrested the unpopular landlords, threw open the commons they had appropriated, and ransacked the manor houses to pay indemnities to evicted farmers. When attacked, they fought stubbornly, and stormed Norwich twice.

Strype described “these mutineers” as “certain poor men that sought to have their commons again, by force and power taken from them; and that a regulation be made according to law of arable lands turned into pasture.”[9]

Cranmer understood the situation perfectly, and though a consummate courtier, and himself a creation of the capitalistic revolution, spoke in this way of his patrons:

And they complain much of rich men and gentlemen, saying, that they take the commons from the poor, that they raise the prices of all manner of things, that they rule the poverty, and oppress them at their pleasure. . . .

And although here I seem only to speak against these unlawful assemblers, yet I cannot allow those, but I must needs threaten everlasting damnation unto them, whether they be gentlemen or whatsoever they be, which never cease to purchase and join house to house, and land to land, as though they alone ought to possess and inhabit the earth.[10]

Revolt against the pressure of this unrestricted economic competition took the form of Puritanism, of resistance to the religious organization controlled by capital, and even in Cranmer’s time, the attitude of the descendants of the men who formed the line at Poitiers and Crecy was so ominous that Anglican bishops took alarm.

It is reported that there be many among these unlawful assemblies that pretend knowledge of the gospel, and will needs be called gospellers. . . . But now I will go further to speak somewhat of the great hatred which divers of these seditious persons do bear against the gentlemen; which hatred in many is so outrageous, that they desire nothing more than the spoil, ruin, and destruction of them that be rich and wealthy.[11]

Somerset, who owed his elevation to the accident of being the brother of Jane Seymour, proved unequal to the crisis of 1549, and was supplanted by John Dudley, now better remembered as Duke of Northumberland. Dudley was the strongest member of the new aristocracy. His father, Edmund Dudley, had been the celebrated lawyer who rose to eminence as the extortioner of Henry VII, and whom Henry VIII executed, as an act of popularity, on his accession. John, beside inheriting his father’s financial ability, had a certain aptitude for war, and undoubted courage; accordingly he rose rapidly. He and Cromwell understood each other; he flattered Cromwell, and Cromwell lent him money.[12]

Strype has intimated that Dudley had strong motives for resisting the restoration of the commons.[13]

In 1547 he was created Earl of Warwick, and in 1549 suppressed Rett’s rebellion. This military success brought him to the head of the State; he thrust Somerset aside, and took the title of Duke of Northumberland. His son was equally distinguished. He became the favorite of Queen Elizabeth, who created him Earl of Leicester; but, though an expert courtier, he was one of the most incompetent generals whom even the Tudor landed aristocracy ever put in the field.

The disturbances of the reign of Edward VI did not ripen into revolution, probably because of the relief given by rising prices after 1550; but, though they fell short of actual civil war, they were sufficiently formidable to terrify the aristocracy into abandoning their policy of killing off the surplus population. In 1552 the first statute was passed looking toward the systematic relief of paupers.[14] Small farmers prospered greatly after 1660, for prices rose strongly, very much more strongly than rents; nor was it until after the beginning of the seventeenth century, when rents again began to advance, that the yeomanry once more grew restive. Cromwell raised his Ironsides from among the great-grandchildren of the men who stormed Norwich with Kett.

I had a very worthy friend then; and he was a very noble person, and I know his memory is very grateful to all—Mr. John Hampden. At my first going out into this engagement, I saw our men were beaten at every hand. I did indeed; and desired him that he would make some additions to my Lord Essex’s army, of some new regiments; and I told him I would be serviceable to him in bringing such men in as I thought had a spirit that would do something in the work. This is very true that I tell you; God knows I lie not. “Your troops,” said I, “are most of them old decayed serving-men, and tapsters, and such kind of fellows; and,” said I, “their troops are gentlemen’s sons, younger sons and persons of quality: do you think that the spirits of such base and mean fellows will ever be able to encounter gentlemen, that have honor and courage and resolution in them?” . . . Truly I did tell him; “You must get men of a spirit: . . . a spirit that is likely to go on as far as gentlemen will go; — or else you will be beaten still. . . .”

He was a wise and worthy person; and he did think that I talked a good notion, but an impracticable one. Truly I told him I could do somewhat in it, . . . and truly I must needs say this to you, . . . I raised such men as had the fear of God before them, as made some conscience of what they did; and from that day forward, I must say to you, they were never beaten, and wherever they were engaged against the enemy, they beat continually.[15]

Thus, by degrees, the pressure of intensifying centralization split the old homogeneous population of England into classes, graduated according to their economic capacity. Those without the necessary instinct sank into agricultural day laborers, whose lot, on the whole, has probably been somewhat worse than that of ordinary slaves. The gifted, like the Howards, the Dudleys, the Cecils, and the Boleyns, rose to be rich nobles and masters of the State. Between the two accumulated a mass of bold and needy adventurers, who were destined finally not only to dominate England, but to shape the destinies of the world.

One section of these, the shrewder and less venturesome, gravitated to the towns, and grew rich as merchants, like the founder of the Osborn family, whose descendant became Duke of Leeds; or like the celebrated Josiah Child, who, in the reign of William III, controlled the whole eastern trade of the kingdom. The less astute and the more martial took to the sea, and as slavers, pirates, and conquerors, built up England’s colonial empire, and established her maritime supremacy. Of this class were Drake and Blake, Hawkins, Raleigh, and Clive.

For several hundred years after the Norman conquest Englishmen showed little taste for the ocean, probably because sufficient outlet for their energies existed on land. In the Middle Ages the commerce of the island was mostly engrossed by the Merchants of the Steelyard, an offshoot of the Hanseatic league; while the great explorers of the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries were usually Italians or Portuguese; men like Columbus, Vespucius, Vasco-da-Gama, or Magellan. This state of things lasted, however, only until economic competition began to ruin the small farmers, and then the hardiest and boldest race of Europe were cast adrift, and forced to seek their fortunes in strange lands.

For the soldier or the adventurer, there was no opening in England after the battle of Flodden. A peaceful and inert bourgeoisie more and more supplanted the ancient martial baronage; their representatives shrank from campaigns like those of Richard I, the Edwards, and Henry V, and therefore, for the evicted farmer, there was nothing but the far-off continents of America and Asia, and to these he directed his steps.

The lives of the admirals tell the tale on every page. Drake’s history is now known. His family belonged to the lesser Devon gentry, but fallen so low that his father gladly apprenticed him as ship’s boy on a channel coaster, a life of almost intolerable hardship. From this humble beginning he fought his way, by dint of courage and genius, to be one of England’s three greatest seamen; and Blake and Nelson, the other two, were of the same blood.

Sir Humphrey Gilbert was of the same West Country stock as Drake; Frobisher was a poor Yorkshire man, and Sir Walter Raleigh came from a ruined house. No less than five knightly branches of Raleigh’s family once throve together in the western counties; but disaster came with the Tudors, and Walter’s father fell into trouble through his Puritanism. Walter himself early had to face the world, and carved out his fortune with his sword. He served in France in the religious wars; afterward, perhaps, in Flanders; then, through Gilbert, he obtained a commission in Ireland, but finally drifted to Elizabeth’s court, where he took to buccaneering and conceived the idea of colonizing America.

A profound gulf separated these adventurers from the landed capitalists, for they were of an extreme martial type; a type hated and feared by the nobility. With the exception of the years of the Commonwealth, the landlords controlled England from the Reformation to the revolution of 1688, a period of one hundred and fifty years, and, during that long interval, there is little risk in asserting that the aristocracy did not produce a single soldier or sailor of more than average capacity. The difference between the royal and the parliamentary armies was as great as though they had been recruited from different races. Charles had not a single officer of merit, while it is doubtful if any force has ever been better led than the troops organized by Cromwell.

Men like Drake, Blake, and Cromwell were among the most terrible warriors of the world, and they were distrusted and feared by an oligarchy which felt instinctively its inferiority in arms. Therefore, in Elizabeth’s reign, politicians like the Cecils took care that the great seamen should have no voice in public affairs. And though these men defeated the Armada, and though England owed more to them than to all the rest of her population put together, not one reached the peerage, or was treated with confidence and esteem. Drake’s fate shows what awaited them. Like all his class, Drake was hot for war with Spain, and from time to time he was unchained, when fighting could not be averted; but his policy was rejected, his operations more nearly resembled those of a pirate than of an admiral, and when he died, he died in something like disgrace.

The aristocracy even made the false position in which they placed their sailors a source of profit, for they forced them to buy pardon for their victories by surrendering the treasure they had won with their blood. Fortescue actually had to interfere to defend Raleigh and Hawkins from Elizabeth’s rapacity. In 1592 Borough sailed in command of a squadron fitted out by the two latter, with some contribution from the queen and the city of London. Borough captured the carack, the Madre-de-Dios, whose pepper alone Burleigh estimated at £102,000. The cargo proved worth £141,000, and of this Elizabeth’s share, according to the rule of distribution in use, amounted to one-tenth, or £14,000. She demanded £80,000, and allowed Raleigh and Hawkins, who had spent £34,000, only £36,000. Raleigh bitterly contrasted the difference made between himself a soldier, and a peer, or a London speculator:

I was the cause that all this came to the Queen, and that the King of Spain spent 300,000li the last year. . . . I that adventured all my estate, lose of my principal. . . . I took all the care and pains; . . . they only sate still . . . for which double is given to them, and less then mine own to me.[16]

Raleigh was so brave he could not comprehend that his talent was his peril. He fancied his capacity for war would bring him fame and fortune, and it led him to the block. While Elizabeth lived, the admiration of the woman for the hero probably saved him, but he never even entered the Privy Council, and of real power he had none. The sovereign the oligarchy chose was James, and James imprisoned and then slew him. Nor was Raleigh’s fate peculiar, for, through timidity, the Cavaliers conceived an almost equal hate of many soldiers. They dug up the bones of Cromwell, they tried to murder William III, and they dragged down Marlborough in the midst of victory. Such were the new classes into which economic competition divided the people of England during the sixteenth century, and the Reformation was only one among many of the effects of this profound social revolution.

[. . .]

Although the spoliations of Edward [VI] are less well remembered than those of his father [Henry VIII], they were hardly less drastic. They began with the estates of the chantries and guilds, and rapidly extended to all sorts of property. In the Middle Ages, one of the chief sources of revenue of the sacred class had been their prayers for souls in purgatory, and all large churches contained chapels, many of them richly endowed, for the perpetual celebration of masses for the dead; in England and Wales more than a thousand such chapels existed, whose revenues were often very valuable. These were the chantries, which vanished with the imaginative age which created them, and the guilds shared the same fate.

Before economic competition had divided men into classes according to their financial capacity, all craftsmen possessed capital, as all agriculturists held land. The guild established the craftsman’s social status; as a member of a trade corporation he was governed by regulations fixing the number of hands he might employ, the amount of goods he might produce, and the quality of his workmanship; on the other hand, the guild regulated the market, and ensured a demand. Tradesmen, perhaps, did not easily grow rich, but they as seldom became poor.

With centralization life changed. Competition sifted the strong from the weak; the former waxed wealthy, and hired hands at wages, the latter lost all but the ability to labor; and, when the corporate body of producers had thus disintegrated, nothing stood between the common property and the men who controlled the engine of the law. By he 1 Edward VI., c. 14, all the possessions of the schools, colleges, and guilds of England, except the colleges of Oxford and Cambridge and the guilds of London, were conveyed to the king, and the distribution thus begun extended far and wide, and has been forcibly described by Mr. Blunt:

They tore off the lead from the roofs, and wrenched out the brasses from the floors. The books they despoiled of their costly covers, and then sold them for waste paper. The gold and silver plate they melted down with copper and lead, to make a coinage so shamefully debased as was never known before or since in England. The vestments of altars and priests they turned into table-covers, carpets, and hangings, when not very costly; and when worth more money than usual, they sold them to foreigners, not caring who used them for “superstitious” purposes, but caring to make the best “bargains” they could of their spoil. Even the very surplices and altar linen would fetch something, and that too was seized by their covetous hands.[17]

These “covetous hands” were the privy councilors. Henry had not intended that any member of the board should have precedence, but the king’s body was not cold before Edward Seymour began an intrigue to make himself protector. To consolidate a party behind him, he opened his administration by distributing all the spoil he could lay hands on; and Mr. Froude estimated that “on a computation most favorable to the council, estates worth . . . in modern currency about five millions” of pounds, were “appropriated—I suppose I must not say stolen—and divided among themselves.”[18] At the head of this council stood Cranmer, who took his share without scruple. Probably Fronde’s estimate is far too low; for though Seymour, as Duke of Somerset, had, like Henry, to meet imperative claims which drained his purse, he yet built Somerset House, the most sumptuous palace of London.


1. Agriculture and Prices, iv. 64.

2. 6 Henry VIII., c. 5; 7 Henry VIII., c. i.

3. Jewel of Joy, Becon. Also England in the Reign of Henry VIII, Early Eng. Text Soc, Extra Ser., No. xxxii. p. 75.

4. First Sermon before Edward VI. Sermons of Bishop Latimer, ed. of Parker Soc., 100, 101.

5. 22 Henry VIII., c. 12.

6. 27 Henry VIII., c. 25.

7. Edward VI., c. 3.

8. Brit. Mus., Cole MS. xii. 41. Cited in Henry VIII. and the English Monasteries, Gasquet, ii. 514, note.

9. Eccl. Mem., ii. pt. i, 260.

10. Sermon on Rebellion, Cranmer, Miscellaneous Writings and Letters, 194–6.

11. Sermon on Rebellion, Cranmer, Miscellaneous Writings and Letters, 195, 196.

12. Cal. ix. No. 193.

13. Eccl. Mem., ii. pt. I, 152.

14. 5 and 6 Edw. VI., c. 2.

15. Cromwell’s Letters and Speeches, Carlyle, Speech XI.

16. Raleigh to Burleigh, Life of Sir Walter Raleigh, Edwards, ii. 76, letter xxxiv.

17. The Reformation of the Church of England, ii. 68.

18. History of England, v. 432.


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vendredi, 09 mars 2012

Roosevelt, la destruction de l’Europe et le désastre de la première mondialisation

Roosevelt, la destruction de l’Europe et le désastre de la première mondialisation

Ex: http://qc.novopress.info/


par Nicolas Bonnal

Quand on se plaint du présent, il faut toujours se rappeler le bon vieux temps des guerres. Ceux qui s’étonnent du niveau abyssal de notre endettement ou du bilan désastreux – ce ne sont pas nos lecteurs – du printemps arabe et du bilan de la guerre en Irak ont ainsi besoin qu’on leur rafraichisse la mémoire.

J’ai toujours été étonné par l’incroyable dimension du désastre européen au lendemain de la deuxième guerre mondiale. Les pertes humaines sont bien sûr énormes, bien sûr imputables aux nazis et la à la guerre à l’Est, mais aussi bien sûr les pertes matérielles. Toute l’Europe occidentale a été bombardée, y compris les lieux saints du mont Cassin (les puissances protestantes voulaient intimider le pape). Staline contrôle tout l’orient de l’Europe et l’on laisse les guerres civiles et la disette s’installer un peu partout comme au bon vieux temps du moyen âge finissant. Même l’Angleterre a été ruinée, rincée même par son coopérant américain, et Churchill, auteur malheureux du conflit est chassé des Communes avec les huées. C’est l’époque d’Orwell, et ce n’est pas un hasard. Mais l’être humain aime être motivé par le désastre, on le sait depuis la Bible et Milton.


Il y a bien un responsable à tout cela, responsable qui a voulu et permis la destruction de l’Europe (nous avons été sauvés de la misère par son successeur Truman), l’anéantissement et non la défaire de l’Allemagne, la liquidation des empires coloniaux français et britanniques ; qui a voulu aussi la montée de la Chine communiste et le triomphe de l’union soviétique présentée avec son NKVD, son goulag et le Holodomorukrainien [1] comme un « paradis social mutualiste », y compris dans les films hollywoodiens de l’époque.

Ce responsable c’est Roosevelt auquel l’historien amateur (dans amateur il y a aimer, disait Orson Welles) Bernard Plouvier(1) a consacré un passionnant ouvrage à la fois synthétique et documenté. Il résume parfaitement le bellicisme insensé de Roosevelt qui a tout fait pour lancer le Japon dans la guerre, détruire l’Europe (plus de Français morts dans les bombardements libérateurs que de soldats US tués pendant la guerre !), diviser le monde et créer le réseau de bases et le fameux complexe militaro-industriel d’Eisenhower.


Roosevelt se laisse aussi hypnotiser, conifier disait Céline, par les mots comme nos idiots d’aujourd’hui. Il se lance dans une « croisade », exige une « capitulation sans condition » (en suivant le modèle affreux de l’incroyable guerre de sécession, premier scandale des temps modernes industriels), hurle et lance une « guerre totale » qui ne laisse d’autre choix à l’adversaire que de se mal comporter jusqu’au bout. Il laisse aussi les Juifs d’Europe à leur sort, et dès avant la guerre, alors que de tous côtés on le prévient et que même les nazis veulent faire des échanges hommes-matériel.

Mais pour Roosevelt la solution la pire est toujours la meilleure : il fallait en passer par la shoah et par soixante millions de morts pour que le nouvel ordre mondial auquel Roosevelt pense puisse s’établir ; et casser mille oeufs pour une petite omelette ; repensez au cas irakien.


Mille oeufs pour la mauvaise omelette. C’est d’une certaine manière l’héritage de cet impayable New Deal dont nous a rebattus les oreilles : le triplement de la dette n’a pas attendu Bush le guerrier et Obama le généreux ! Avec la guerre la dette aura sextuplé ! On a triplé en huit ans le nombre de fonctionnaires et on n’a pas créé d’emplois, la crise de 38 remettant sur la pavé des millions d’américains. Mais Roosevelt tient les médias et il est hélas réélu cherchant à sauver son économie par une guerre mondiale destinée à contrôler le pétrole, à mettre fin à la concurrence allemande et à ouvrir les marchés coloniaux de la Old Europe si chère à Rumsfeld…

En même temps il a socialisé l’économie américaine, fait exploser les impôts, avec des tranches à 100 %. Comme dit Bernard Plouvier : « L’Etat US, sous FDR, apprend à vivre à crédit ; c’est une leçon que les gouvernants des USA n’ont pas oubliée ». L’autre qu’ils n’ont pas oublié, c’est que la guerre fait vivre, et que le complexe militaro-industriel s’étend toujours plus, jusqu’aux enfants maintenant (j’en reparlerai).


Plouvier voit aussi un autre projet, et je pense à Bernanos et à son texte magique « La France contre les robots« . Roosevelt rêve d’un Etat mondial où tout est sous contrôle (cf. Orwell dont l’Etat se nomme Oceania en référence au damné Cromwell), et où l’homme, une fois qu’il sera transformé, va se comporter comme un robot discipliné et interchangeable.

« FDR compte transformer les peuples qui fourniront ses marchés à l’économie des USA en autant d’étudiants en l’art de vivre à l’américaine. »

Franklin Roosevelt, créature de la matrice américaine au détriment du peuple américain et du monde, mais surtout créateur à court terme des empires communistes et du champ de ruines européen et nippon, et du tiers-monde postcolonial…

Il est clair à la lecture de ce livre qu’il vaut mieux pour l’Europe et le monde un mauvais républicain qu’un bon démocrate à la Maison Blanche ; et que le grand Reagan fut celui qui nous libéra sur tous les plans de l’effroyable bilan politique et humain du sinistre grand homme.

(1) Bernard Plouvier, « l’Enigme Roosevelt, faux naïf et vrai Machiavel », Ed. Dualpha, collection « Vérités sur l’Histoire ».

Article printed from :: Novopress Québec: http://qc.novopress.info

URL to article: http://qc.novopress.info/10891/roosevelt-la-destruction-de-leurope-et-le-desastre-de-la-premiere-mondialisation/

samedi, 03 mars 2012

Y a-t-il eu une pensée navale romaine ?


Y a-t-il eu une pensée navale romaine ?

par Jean Pagès

On ne possède pas de textes d’historiens ou de penseurs de l’Antiquité latine ou grecque qui auraient traité de cette question telle qu’on l’énonce, peut-être avec trop de facilité, de nos jours ; en Grèce, la marine avait toujours tenu une grande part dans les préoccupations des politiques, surtout après Salamine, mais n’avait donné lieu qu’à des déclarations de politique navale, sans qu’il soit fait référence à une pensée stratégique plus affinée qui restait sous-jacente. Il en allait autrement à Rome : pour le citoyen moyen, la marine jouait un rôle secondaire et était méprisée par comparaison aux services glorieux des légions. En revanche, ceux qui eurent la charge de la destinée de Rome, tant durant la période républicaine que sous l’Empire, avaient compris l’importance de la marine et Auguste le premier eut l’intuition d’une stratégie navale à l’échelle de l’empire.

Le chapitre de l’histoire de Rome concernant la marine, tant républicaine qu’impériale, a été négligé par les historiens de l’Antiquité, qui ne nous ont donné que des renseignements imparfaits. Le seul auteur qui aurait pu nous éclairer sur la pensée navale romaine de la période républicaine est Polybe (200-125 avant J.-C.) ; malheureusement la partie de son œuvre qui aurait pu nous apprendre comment, en si peu de temps, les Romains ont atteint une telle supériorité sur mer est perdue. Quant à Tite Live (64 avant à 17 après J.-C.), son Histoire n’apporte que peu de renseignements. De même les auteurs de l’époque impériale ne se sont guère intéressés à la création des flottes de Misène et de Ravenne et curieusement Auguste lui-même, qui en était le père, n’en dit rien dans l’inscription d’Ancyre considérée pourtant comme son testament. Dion Cassius (IIe/IIIe siècle après J.-C.) n’en dit pas plus. Strabon (63 avant/19 après J.-C.) a bien forgé le concept de thalassocratie (thalassokratia. géographie, 48), qui connaîtra plus tard une grande vogue, mais la perte de ses écrits historiques empêche d’apprécier l’importance qu’il lui accordait. Quant à Suétone (69 à 122 après J.-C.), il rapporte que les Romains, dans leurs préjugés tenaces contre la marine, ont estimé que l’existence de ces flottes était pour eux un fait négligeable.
Cependant, certains chercheurs contemporains ont tenté d’étudier, non pas le problème de la pensée navale romaine, mais celui de la rencontre de Rome avec la mer et ses conséquences.

La marine romaine de la République 

Les historiens modernes sont partagés sur cette question et la plupart d’entre eux répondraient sans doute par la négative. Cependant, on peut estimer que si les Romains n’ont pas eu une pensée navale structurée et exprimée, du moins au commencement, ils ont, par la force des choses, été à même de saisir l’importance de la marine de guerre chez un peuple qui leur était géographiquement proche comme les Etrusques ou encore chez les Grecs de Syracuse : les premiers n’avaient-ils pas remporté une douteuse victoire sur les Phocéens au large de la Corse en 540/535 avant notre ère et les seconds la victoire d’Himère sur les Puniques en 480, l’année de Salamine ? Jacques Heurgon remarque qu’« on entrevoit en particulier que Rome, avant de se doter à Ostie d’un port qui lui fût propre, utilisa la flotte de Caeré aux fins de sa politique maritime naissante » (1). De même, les Romains n’étaient pas sans connaître l’activité des marines marchandes des cités grecques de Campanie et de Grande Grèce, Naples et Tarente, ainsi que les succès des escadres syracusaines contre les Puniques.
L’événement le plus ancien de l’histoire de la marine romaine remonte à 394, année au cours de laquelle un navire romain se rendant à Delphes avec une ambassade religieuse fut arraisonné et capturé par des navires des îles Lipari et emmené dans ces îles ; les gens de Lipari avaient pris ce navire pour un pirate étrusque. Après enquête, les Romains purent continuer leur voyage, escortés par des navires de guerre lipariens jusqu’à Delphes et revenir ensuite à Rome (Diodore, XIV, 93).
Il est attesté que dès le début du IVe siècle, à une date indéterminée, Rome a entrepris une colonisation outre-mer (2). Les textes laissent entendre que Rome « agissait en association avec Pyrgi, le port de Caeré ou mieux utilisait ses flottes ». Serait-ce cette expédition que, d’après Théophraste Rome fit « autrefois » en Corse avec 25 navires ? De son côté, Diodore (XV, 27, 24) parle de 500 colons envoyés par elle en Sardaigne en 377.
En 349, des pirates grecs s’attaquèrent à la côte du Latium. Rome, ne devant pas posséder de forces navales à cette époque, se contenta d’envoyer des troupes qui s’opposèrent avec succès au débarquement ; les Grecs, à court de vivres et surtout d’eau, abandonnèrent l’opération (Tite Live, VII, 25, 3-4 ; 26, 10-15).
Mais c’est l’exemple de la prise d’Antium (aujourd’hui Porto d’Anzio), au sud de Rome en 348, qui est le plus typique. Antium était un repaire de pirates étrusques que les Romains auraient dû réduire par une action navale ; ce furent des légionnaires qui s’emparèrent de la flotte d’Antium ; cette soi-disant victoire sur mer fut à l’origine de la colonne rostrale décorée d’éperons de navires ennemis pris par des soldats ! (Tite Live, VIII, 13 et 14)
Malgré cela, Rome apparaît comme une petite puissance maritime naissante à cette époque : le renouvellement de l’alliance carthaginoise en 348, l’enrôlement des pirates d’Anzio, la fondation d’une colonie à Ostie à l’embouchure du Tibre (ostium Tiberis) dont elle fera un port en 335, l’occupation militaire de l’île de Ponza au large des côtes de Campanie montrent que le destin de Rome allait se jouer désormais autant sur mer que sur terre (3).
A partir de 311, Rome nomme chaque année deux magistrats chargés de la marine (duoviri navales) qui seront chacun à la tête d’une petite escadre de dix navires de guerre pour lutter contre la piraterie en Tyrrhénienne. Ces deux escadres n’eurent pas grand succès : l’une d’elles tenta un débarquement contre Nuceria, près de Naples, qui échoua, la ville fut prise par des troupes de terre ; dans le conflit entre Rome et Tarente, une de ces deux escadres fut sévèrement malmenée par les forces navales adverses en 282 (4).
Les types de navires de guerre employés par les Romains, dans leurs escadres commandées par les duoviri navales, ne nous sont pas connus ; on peut supposer raisonnablement que ce devaient être des trières (à trois rangs de rames) et des pentécontères (à cinquante rameurs). Ainsi on sait qu’en 264, au début de la première guerre punique, Rome n’avait plus de marine et dut faire appel à ses socii navales, les cités de Grande Grèce et de Campanie  : Tarente, Locres, Vélia, Naples, pour mettre à sa disposition des trières et des pentécontères permettant à ses troupes de franchir le détroit de Messine (Polybe, I, 20).
En définitive, dans les années précédant la première guerre punique, Rome ne possède qu’une faible marine militaire et n’a qu’une très mince expérience maritime, toute occupée qu’elle est par la conquête de la péninsule, conquête dans laquelle elle réussit mieux que sur mer, avec son esprit « terrien ».
J.H. Thiel a étudié d’une manière approfondie les premières actions sur mer des Romains et les juge avec trop de sévérité et surtout sans nuances quand il dit qu’ils étaient de « vrais terriens » et des « marins d’eau douce ». Jusqu’à la première guerre punique, et même plus tard, ils ont été des marins maladroits et de piètres tacticiens, malgré leurs victoires acquises grâce à la discipline plutôt qu’à la connaissance intime de la mer et à leur sens tactique. « Le caractère général de l’histoire romaine au cours de cette période (jusqu’à la première guerre punique) ne laisse que peu de place pour une quelconque action sur mer de leur part : ce n’est pas l’histoire d’une puissance navale, mais celle d’une puissance continentale caractéristique, celle d’un peuple d’agriculteurs qui a conquis, patiemment et obstinément, toute l’Italie par l’intérieur, sans qu’apparaisse une seule fois la marine de guerre dans le tableau » (5).
Selon Jean Rougé, cette conception « terrienne » de la puissance maritime a conduit les Romains, qui n’avaient vraisemblablement pas profité de l’expérience de marins des cités de Grande Grèce, à défendre leur territoire du côté de la mer par une action purement terrestre de troupes légionnaires ou par « l’intermédiaire des colonies maritimes situées dans des positions stratégiques ». Cet auteur ajoute que « le témoignage de Polybe concorde mal avec une certaine idée que l’on a tendance à se faire actuellement de la puissance maritime avant les guerres puniques » (6). Cela a été vrai jusqu’à la première guerre punique et non au-delà.
Jacques Heurgon remarque que les intérêts navals de Rome s’affirmèrent aux environs des années 306-302 « par plusieurs faits diplomatiques importants ; c’est à cette époque que Polybe fait remonter l’amitié de Rome et de Rhodes (XXX, 5, 6), le troisième traité conclu avec Carthage en 306 définissant les zones respectives des deux parties excluant Rome de la Sicile et Carthage de l’Italie… L’accord intervenu vers 302 entre Rome et Tarente où Rome s’engageait à ne pas dépasser vers le nord le cap Lacinien… » (7).
La victoire de Rome sur Pyrrhus en 275 et son alliance avec Tarente en 272, qui fut, comme Naples, astreinte à lui fournir en temps de guerre des navires et des équipages, firent d’elle une puissance méditerranéenne. Des quaestores classici furent créés en 267 ; ils n’étaient pas destinés à un commandement dans une flotte encore inexistante, mais plutôt à contrôler la mobilisation des escadres des cités alliées de Rome, les socii navales (8).
On sait d’après Polybe comment les Romains construisirent une flotte de 100 quinquérèmes et de 20 trières en prenant modèle, pour les premières, sur une quinquérème punique échouée et tombée entre leurs mains. Polybe nous présente la capture de la quinquérème punique comme l’événement qui détermina les Romains à combattre sur mer les Puniques.
Si donc cet incident ne s’était pas produit, il est clair que, du fait de leur inexpérience, les Romains n’auraient jamais eu les moyens de réaliser leurs desseins (I, 20).
Aux yeux de certains historiens modernes comme Gilbert Charles-Picard, qui le qualifie d’« historiette », cet événement de la capture de la galère a paru suspect ; quelle que soit la genèse de la flotte romaine, la décision de la construire dénote chez les Romains une ferme résolution de combattre les Puniques sur leur propre terrain avec leur arme : la quinquérème, dont ils ont la maîtrise. Ce n’est pas le fruit d’une pensée navale, plutôt une forme de stratégie primaire mais efficace, et qui n’est pas le moindre élément constitutif de cette pensée. En outre, la méthode choisie par le commandement romain pour l’entraînement des équipes de nage des quinquérèmes montre également une systématisation digne des marines « matérialistes » du XXe siècle (9). Comme le remarque Jean Rougé, « Il est évident que le récit de Polybe, tout à la gloire de la détermination et de l’esprit d’initiative de Rome, doit être forcément enjolivé, car pour ses équipages Rome disposait de ses socii navales, de ses alliés maritimes » (10).
L’idée qui ressort des études des historiens contemporains est que les essais initiaux de l’activité navale des Romains ne doivent être ni exagérés, ni minimisés, et ils s’accordent pour reconnaître avec Polybe que c’est dans son récit qu’on verra l’élévation et la hardiesse du tempérament romain (…car) « il ne fallait pas laisser ignorer quand, comment et pourquoi les Romains se sont lancés pour la première fois sur mer… » (I, 20).
Carthage, face à la petite puissance continentale romaine, exerce son hégémonie entre les Syrtes et Gibraltar, s’est installée en Sicile et en Sardaigne, exploite les minerais du sud de l’Espagne. C’est une cité de commerçants et surtout de rouliers des mers. Sa flotte de guerre est puissante et combative. Carthage sera l’ennemie principale de Rome et l’obstacle majeur à l’impérialisme romain entre le IIIe et le milieu du IIe siècle.
A la lumière des remarques de Thiel (11) dans son analyse de la première guerre punique, il est aisé de comprendre pourquoi la pensée navale romaine a eu si peu de consistance et aussi pourquoi une compétition entre les deux marines était improbable. En effet, l’auteur, observant minutieusement la stratégie des deux adversaires par le biais des événements de la guerre, porte un jugement sur chacun d’eux :
1) Rome semble à première vue avoir une stratégie navale peu solide, incohérente et surprenante ; en réalité, ce n’est pas uniquement le manque de traditions maritimes qui est en cause, mais la nécessité ; le Sénat romain n’était pas libre de faire ce qui lui paraissait être le meilleur, car il avait à compter avec l’opinion publique, romaine d’abord et plus généralement avec celle des cités italiennes : « La mer était loin d’être familière aux Romains et surtout, ils redoutaient le combat naval ; si on décidait de construire des navires, c’était à Rome d’en supporter la dépense et aux Romains à servir de soldats de marine sur les bâtiments de la flotte ; c’était aux alliés italiens de Rome de fournir la plus grande partie des équipages et des rameurs » (12).
Thiel estime qu’en 259, un an après la victoire de Mylae, les Romains auraient pu lancer une opération de débarquement en Afrique ; cela n’a pas été possible puisqu’il fallait une nouvelle flotte plus nombreuse que la précédente. Le Sénat n’aurait pu convaincre les Romains peu connaisseurs des choses navales. La construction d’une nouvelle flotte après une victoire leur aurait paru une absurdité.
Toutefois, en 257-256, les Romains construisirent une flotte bien plus puissante que celle de 260, ce qui représente le deuxième grand programme de construction de toute la guerre qui dura de 264 à 241. Enfin, ce fut la mise en service de la flotte, entièrement neuve et très efficace, avant la victoire des îles Aegades sous le commandement d’un amiral exceptionnel, le consul Caius Lutatius Catulus.
Les énormes pertes en vies humaines et en bâtiments, dues aux actions militaires ou aux tempêtes, décimèrent littéralement la population adulte mâle à Rome : Thiel parle de 20% entre 264 et 246, soit 50.000 hommes ; Rome alla jusqu’à ne plus reparaître sur mer entre 249 et 243 (13).
2) Au sujet de Carthage, sans entrer dans les erreurs qu’elle commit dans cette guerre, on peut dire qu’elle possédait une flotte puissante et efficace et des amiraux habiles et courageux.
Cependant, les Carthaginois souffraient d’une faiblesse qui les poussait à la facilité, enclins qu’ils étaient à prendre la voie la moins ardue et à sous-estimer leurs adversaires. Carthage, il ne faut pas l’oublier, était une cité de marchands paisibles, qui désiraient éviter les guerres chaque fois que c’était possible ou bien relâchaient leurs efforts, en temps de guerre, quand le danger était momentanément écarté. Thiel parle de la « quiétude punique », une sorte de torpeur, de paralysie qui se manifeste par une apathie leur faisant manquer des occasions et perdre un conflit dans lequel ils auraient dû triompher.
Par ailleurs, Carthage ne pouvait à la fois entretenir une grande flotte et une armée de nombreux mercenaires ; une conséquence désastreuse de cet état de fait fut la défaite d’une flotte punique mal armée, surchargée, avec des équipages peu entraînés, face aux forces navales romaines en excellente condition au large des îles Aegades en 241.
Rome, à la fin de la première guerre punique, se trouva être la seule puissance navale de la Méditerranée occidentale ; elle joua son rôle de « fleet in being » au cours des 60 années qui séparent la bataille des îles Aegades (241) du début de la deuxième guerre punique. De plus, sans qu’elle eût une quelconque volonté d’expansion maritime, avec la possession de la Sardaigne et de la Corse, Rome commença à se constituer, à partir de la Tyrrhénienne, un embryon de mare nostrum, plutôt comme protection de son territoire que comme zone d’opérations navales. Thiel remarque qu’au cours du IIe siècle « la puissance navale romaine montra de plus en plus des symptômes de faiblesse alors que le centre de gravité se déplaçait vers les excellentes marines de Pergame et surtout de Rhodes ; dans la guerre contre Antiochos, ce furent les forces navales rhodiennes qui gagnèrent les batailles ».
Thiel peut conclure : « Avant le règne d ‘Auguste, il n’était pas question pour Rome de posséder une marine de guerre permanente ; quand on ne craignait pas de guerre navale, les Romains n’entretenaient pas de navires de guerre armés…, Pendant près d’un siècle et exactement pendant la période de l’histoire de Rome qui correspond à sa plus grande expansion, la marine de guerre romaine fut presque inexistante » (14).
Les flottes des derniers siècles de la République furent très différentes de celles des guerres puniques. Depuis ses débuts, à la fin du IVe siècle, l’activité sur mer des Romains avait beaucoup profité de l’expérience des Grecs et des Etrusques ; toutefois, il faut rappeler que pendant les guerres puniques, c’est Rome qui a armé en partie ses escadres avec ses propres citoyens, a construit ses navires avec ses propres deniers et a mis à leur tête un consul ou un préteur romain. Cependant, à partir de 200 avant J.-C., Rome fit reposer sa puissance maritime sur ses alliés grecs et surtout sur les forces navales rhodiennes, dont l’entraînement était exceptionnel.
Les cités alliées d’Ionie, de Phénicie, de Pamphylie et de Syrie fournirent la plupart des navires des escadres romaines, à l’exception de ceux que Rome construisait, qui étaient armés par des équipages de ces cités, si bien que les techniques navales grecques et orientales s’imposèrent de plus en plus dans la marine romaine à l’époque de la guerre sociale (90-88). Quant aux commandants en chef de ces flottes, qui étaient parfois des Grecs, Rome les subordonnait aux commandants des troupes de terre, preuve qu’elle n’avait pas entièrement compris le rôle d’une force navale.
Ces dispositions n’empêchèrent pas Mithridate, roi du Pont, lors de la première guerre qu’il mena contre Rome entre 89 et 85 avant J.-C., de s’emparer de la maîtrise de la mer Egée, ce qui entraîna, après sa défaite en 84, l’apparition d’une flotte permanente pour la première fois dans l’histoire de la marine romaine et par conséquent l’abandon du désarmement des forces navales après une victoire, ce qui avait été courant par le passé. Cette évolution laisse présager qu’une pensée navale est en gestation et qu’un embryon de marine impériale est en place, ce qui permet à C.G. Starr de dire que « si l’on demande à quelqu’un de citer un événement qui marque les débuts de la marine impériale romaine, cet événement serait à coup sûr celui de la première guerre de Rome contre Mithridate » (15).
Une autre conséquence de cette évolution fut la mise en place par Sylla, probablement en 85, d’un plan de défense des côtes de l’Asie mineure : des cités maritimes de cette région devaient construire des navires de guerre et les conserver en réserve pour une utilisation future ; cela permit à Rome d’avoir la maîtrise de la mer pendant la troisième et dernière guerre contre Mithridate (83-82) ; C.G. Starr observe qu’il était difficile pour l’Etat romain de poursuivre la réalisation d’un plan à cause des changements annuels de ceux qui avaient la responsabilité de son exécution.
Cette évolution se poursuivit quand Pompée, en 67 avant J.-C., triompha en trois mois des pirates qui infestaient presque toutes les eaux méditerranéennes. Selon Pline (Histoire naturelle, VII, 98) Pompée aurait « redonné la maîtrise de la mer à Rome » qui l’avait perdue au point que des pirates eurent l’audace de couler une flotte consulaire dans le port même d’Ostie (Plutarque, Pompée, XXXVIII à XLIV).
C’est l’époque où le comportement de Rome dans l’exercice de la maîtrise de la mer va commencer à se préciser et où la marine romaine va jouer un rôle capital dans les guerres civiles et après elles dans l’Empire. Les guerres contre Mithridate et la rapide campagne contre les pirates avaient montré l’importance de la puissance navale oubliée depuis les guerres puniques. F.E. Adcock remarque que « dans sa campagne la plus difficile, Pompée s’appuyait sur la puissance navale et César faisait confiance à la mer ; dans les situations graves, le dernier mot resta à la mer » (16). Il fait allusion aux opérations autour de Dyrrachium (Durazzo) où la très puissante flotte de Pompée fut mise en échec par les forces césariennes. On possède là une preuve supplémentaire que l’exercice de la maîtrise de la mer était considéré par les généraux romains comme un gage de victoire.
Pendant la guerre civile, les flottes devinrent de plus en plus puissantes ; Pompée, en faisant appel aux cités maritimes d’Asie, réussit à rassembler une force d’environ 300 navires au début de 48 ; ce sera Sextus Pompée, fils du grand Pompée, qui, possédant la maitrise de la Méditerranée occidentale, s’attaquera au ravitaillement en grains de Rome et fera des descentes sur les côtes italiennes pour un pillage en règle entre 42 et 40 avant J.-C.
En 38, le futur Auguste et Agrippa, son conseiller militaire et technique, vont construire une flotte de 400 navires qui triomphera de celles de Sextus Pompée à Mylae en 37, à Nauloque en 36 et finalement à Actium en 31. Cette force navale sera le noyau de la future flotte impériale. Ne doit-on pas voir dans cette œuvre une ébauche déjà bien avancée d’une pensée navale où Octave, le futur Auguste, représente la part politique et stratégique et Agrippa la collaboration du technicien et surtout du tacticien ; n’a-t-il pas été l’inventeur du harpax, espèce de grappin lancé par catapulte et ne fut-il pas honoré par le nouveau César qui lui donna une couronne navale, jamais jusqu’à ce jour octroyée à quiconque ? (Tite Live, CXXIX).
A cette flotte, il fallait une base qui, curieusement, fut choisie avant 37 dans la Provincia, à Forum Julii (Fréjus) où une partie de la flotte fut construite ; un port militaire fut créé plus près de Rome à Portus Julius, dans le golfe de Puteoli (Pouzzoles), et un centre d’entraînement dans le lac Averne, qui occupe un cratère parfaitement abrité de tous les vents
La pensée navale embryonnaire de l’époque républicaine a pu au début être la conséquence d’une conception rationnelle de la division des tâches dans un conflit ; elle laissait aux alliés des cités maritimes le soin des opérations navales alors que les opérations militaires terrestres revenaient de droit aux Romains. La même division des tâches apparut au XXe siècle dans les conflits où les hégémonies maritimes de la Grande-Bretagne ou des Etats-Unis se trouvaient impliquées.

La marine impériale romaine

Il faut citer l’opinion originale de C.G. Starr (17) à propos des conséquences de la bataille d’Actium :
« Pour l’histoire de la marine impériale romaine, Actium en soi n’est qu’un événement insignifiant… Ce dernier combat naval des guerres civiles, l’ultime grand conflit en Méditerranée jusqu’à celui qui opposera sur mer Constantin à Licinius en 324, est plus un prélude que les premières notes d’une ouverture dans l’histoire de la marine impériale romaine. La mission historique de cette marine n’était pas de livrer des batailles mais de les rendre impossibles ».
Végèce, dans son Art militaire (4, 31), précise les raisons de l’existence de la marine impériale :
« Le peuple romain a toujours eu une flotte prête, pour montrer et défendre sa puissance ; il ne l’organisait pas pour faire face aux exigences d’un conflit mais pour ne jamais être pris au dépourvu ».
A la mort d’Auguste en 14 après J.-C., outre le port de Forum Julii qui n’abritait qu’une flottille et devenait une base secondaire, les forces navales romaines étaient partagées en deux flottes, l’une en Tyrrhénienne avec Misène, près de Pouzzoles, pour base, la Classis Misenensis, et la seconde en Adriatique attachée au port de Ravenne, la Classis Ravennas. La création de la flotte de Misène remonterait à une date comprise entre 27 et 15 avant J.-C., alors que celle de Ravenne daterait d’environ 24 avant J.-C. Cette répartition des forces navales due à Octave et à Agrippa répondait sans doute à un plan stratégique conforme à une pensée navale plus solide.
- La flotte de la Tyrrhénienne, dont l’état-major resta pendant quatre siècles à Misène, possédait des bases secondaires à Puteoli (Pouzzoles), Ostie (à l’embouchure du Tibre), Centumcellae (près de Civitavecchia), Mariana et Aléria en Corse, Carales en Sardaigne (Cagliari). La flotte surveillait la Tyrrhénienne et plus particulièrement les îles turbulentes de Corse et de Sardaigne. En outre, elle étendait son contrôle sur tout le bassin occidental de la Méditerranée : Gaules, Espagne, Maurétanie (Végèce, 4, 31). Mais bien entendu, elle opérait de concert avec la flotte de Ravenne, qui lui était sans doute subordonnée, en Méditerranée orientale depuis la Libye jusqu’à la mer Egée. Elle détachait des flottilles dans certains ports de ces régions comme à Séleucie de Syrie pendant les guerres contre les Parthes.
- La flotte de l’Adriatique basée à Ravenne avait pour mission de surveiller la côte dalmate où elle avait une base secondaire à Salona (Split) capitale de la Dalmatie et une autre à Brundisium (Brindisi) pour assurer les relations des officiels avec Dyrrachium (Durazzo/ Durrès) ; la station d’Ancône n’est pas sûre, en revanche celle d’Aquileia, dans le golfe de Trieste est attestée. Hors de l’Adriatique, la flotte de Ravenne prêtait son appui à celle de Misène dans le bassin oriental ; des unités de l’Adriatique faisaient escale dans les ports de la Tyrrhénienne et tout particulièrement à Centumcellae qui devint leur base vers 100 après J.-C. (18)
C.G. Starr note que probablement Rome ne perdait pas de vue la question de son approvisionnement en bois de construction navale car la péninsule n’est pas riche en forêts ; il pense que les stations navales de Mariana et d’Aléria en Corse et le port de Ravenne sur l’Adriatique, relié au Pô, contrôlaient ces trafics du bois destiné aux chantiers de Misène et de Ravenne. Il est possible que la flottille de Syrie basée à Séleucie ait rempli la même tâche, les forêts de la région produisant les essences que Végèce (4, 34) estime convenables pour la construction navale : cyprès, pin, mélèze et sapin. Rostovtseff indique que l’empereur était propriétaire du sol de la Corse et sans doute des forêts ; d’où l’importance du port d’Aléria pour le contrôle du transport du bois de construction navale (19). Cette importante question stratégique ne pouvait recevoir de solution qu’inspirée par une véritable pensée navale.
Les escadres provinciales et les flottilles fluviales faisaient également partie des forces navales impériales au même titre que les flottes de Misène et de Ravenne. L’organisation et la défense de l’empire exigeaient des forces indépendantes dans les provinces : Syrie, Egypte, Maurétanie, et aussi en mer Noire et dans la Manche ; en outre des flottilles fluviales surveillaient le Rhin et le Danube : celles de Mésie et de Pannonie sur le Danube et ses affluents et celle de Germanie sur le Rhin. Certaines de ces formations remontent à l’époque augustéenne, comme l’escadre d’Egypte basée à Alexandrie et peut-être, mais c’est moins sûr, celle de Syrie attachée au port de Séleucie.
La marine impériale, telle qu’Auguste et Agrippa l’avaient conçue et telle que la considérèrent les empereurs suivants, était destinée, contrairement aux flottes républicaines toujours improvisées, à entrer en action dans les plus brefs délais dès l’apparition d’un perturbateur. Or, il n’y eut pas de perturbateur extérieur avant le IIIe siècle, avec l’invasion des Goths, et surtout avant le Ve siècle, avec l’arrivée des Vandales.
Les missions de la marine impériale permanente et professionnelle n’étaient pas uniquement dissuasives comme l’avaient sans doute prévu Auguste et Agrippa, elles étaient avant tout offensives dans l’esprit romain ; cet aspect a été perdu de vue par certains historiens modernes qui ont eu tendance à minimiser l’importance stratégique de la flotte (20). De même, contrairement à ce qui a été dit, l’action des forces navales n’a pas été policière mais militaire. Il s’agissait d’étendre la maîtrise des mers à toute la Méditerranée, qui assurait l’unité de l’empire et la protection de ses communications maritimes (21).
Les forces navales impériales ont continué tout au long des siècles à maintenir leur niveau d’entraînement en vue d’une bataille d’escadre qui ne vint jamais ; les flottes de Misène et de Ravenne et les autres faisaient des patrouilles, opéraient des débarquements en liaison avec les forces terrestres, assuraient le transport des troupes, participaient au ravitaillement des armées, n’escortaient pas les navires de commerce, mais luttaient contre les restants de piraterie. Quant aux forces fluviales, elles avaient un rôle très important, car elles permettaient aux troupes de traverser un fleuve, d’opérer des débarquements sur les arrières de l’ennemi, d’assurer la logistique des stations tenues le long des fleuves, bref de contribuer à la défense du limes (22) ; la colonne Trajane nous donne une représentation vivante de ce que furent les opérations des flottilles fluviales.
En outre, la flotte offrait un moyen de transport aux personnages officiels qui rejoignaient un poste ou qui accomplissaient une mission : Agrippa se fit accompagner en 14 avant J.-C. par une escadre lors d’une tournée d’inspection des ports d’Asie avec tout le décorum de l’amiral en mission qui montre le pavillon de son pays (Flavius Josèphe, XVI, 21). Tacite (Annales, II, 53ss) rapporte que Germanicus entreprit un voyage semblable en 18 après J.-C.
D’autre part, des navires rapides de la flotte transportaient les ordres et les dépêches depuis Rome jusqu’aux plus lointaines provinces accessibles par mer ; la flotte avait le monopole de l’acheminement du courrier officiel, même par terre, puisque c’étaient des marins qui assuraient la liaison entre Rome et les ports de la péninsule.
L’empereur Claude (41-54) continua la politique navale d’Auguste et probablement créa d’autres escadres provinciales ; ce sera Trajan (98-117) à l’époque de la plus grande extension de l’empire, qui donnera une expression définitive à l’organisation des forces navales qui restera en vigueur jusqu’au bas-Empire.
Il faut dire un mot du matériel naval qui constituait les flottes impériales et dont l’évolution depuis les types de la période républicaine est l’expression d’une pensée navale « matérialiste ». Pour leurs forces navales, Auguste et surtout Agrippa se contentèrent d’unités plus légères réclamant moins d’hommes d’équipages que les unités de la flotte de Pompée et donc moins coûteuses.
L’unique héxère des forces impériales, une « 6″, servait de navire amiral à la flotte de Misène ; elle avait 3 rameurs sur le même aviron à un niveau supérieur et 3 autres au niveau inférieur ; les autres unités étaient des quinquérèmes, des « 5″, des quadrirèmes, des « 4″, des trières, des « 3″ directement issues des trières grecques et enfin des liburnes qu’Agrippa incorpora et qui provenaient d’un modèle de navire léger utilisé par les pirates de la côte nord de l’Illyrie : la Liburnie.
Agrippa avait eu soin d’améliorer l’artillerie mécanique embarquée ainsi que les divers projectiles utilisant le feu, les traits, les flèches et le harpax dont il était l’inventeur. La marine byzantine sera l’héritière directe de la marine impériale romaine.
Ces unités, surtout les plus importantes, ne pouvaient longtemps tenir la mer par suite des contraintes qui les obligeaient à relâcher souvent pour faire de l’eau et des vivres ce qui imposait aux forces navales d’avoir un réseau d’escales. Les navires étaient peu aptes aux escortes de convois, à la tenue d’un blocus et aux patrouilles de longue durée, à moins que ces dernières ne soient faites à la voile.
Pour C. de la Berge « la création d’Auguste avait été, dès le début, fortement méditée et convenablement appropriée, tant aux besoins publics qu’aux instincts et aux intérêts des populations » (23).
Tout ce qui vient d’être dit prouve que les Romains ont eu assez tôt conscience de l’importance stratégique de la mer, bien qu’ils aient été relativement étrangers à cet élément ; par la suite une pensée navale relativement évoluée a pu naître, permettant l’organisation et la mise en œuvre des forces navales impériales qui, pendant plus de trois siècles, ne connurent que le temps de paix en l’absence d’adversaires à leur taille : il n’y avait aucune force adverse à dissuader. Rome ne peut être considérée comme une thalassocratie car sa maîtrise de la Méditerranée a d’abord résulté du contrôle de la totalité de ses côtes.
Les bases et escales de la Marine impériale romaine d’Auguste à Marc Aurèle de 14 avant J.C. à 161 après J.C.
1 - Forum Julii (Fréjus) base navale jusqu’en 70 ap. J.-C.
2 -- Misène, base de la flotte de Misène à partir de 12 avant J.-C.
3 -- Ravenne, base de la Classis Ravennas à partir de 39 avant J.-C.
4 -- Alexandrie, base de la Classis Alexandrina à partir d’Auguste.
5 -- Séleucie, base de la Classis Syriaca, à partir de Vespasien (69-79) ( ?).
6 -- Trébizonde, base de la Classis Pontica, à partir de Claude, en 47-48 ou mieux de Néron (54-68).
7 -- Boulogne/Douvres, bases de la Classis Britannica, à partir de Claude (41-54) ou même avant.
8 -- Ostie, port de Rome, était un des principaux arsenaux de la marine républicaine ; devient une base secondaire de la marine impériale au moins depuis le règne de Claude.
9 -- Centumcellae (Civitavecchia), base secondaire ; relais à la fois vers la Sardaigne et la Corse.
10 -- Aleria, base secondaire ; contrôle le commerce des bois de l’île.
11 -- Cagliari, base secondaire.
12 -- Brindes (Brindisi).
13 -- Aquilea.
14 -- Salone (Split).
15 -- Athènes/le Pirée servait encore d’escale pour la marine républicaine ; sous l’empire elle joua le rôle de relais pour les flottes de Ravenne et de Misène.
16 -- Ephèse ; c’est là qu’Antoine rassembla sa flotte avant Actium ; ce port a été actif tout au long de l’empire jouant un rôle très important dans le transit des troupes, notamment pendant la guerre des Parthes sous Trajan et Marc-Aurèle en 114 et en 161.
17 -- Cyzique, base d’une division de la flotte de Misène à la fin du premier ou début du second ; plus tard a pu être la base de la Classis Pontica.
18 -- Césarée de Mauritanie (Cherchel) ; aurait été la base d’une flottille indigène sous Juba II avant l’annexion de la Maurétanie en 40 après J.-C. ; il n’est pas sûr qu ce port ait été une base de la marine impériale.
19 -- Cologne/Alteburg semble avoir été le principal port de la Classis Germanica : sa création remonterait à Claude (41-54). Elle disposait probablement de nombreux autres ports sur le Rhin inférieur.
20 -- Carnuntum aurait été une base de la Classis Pannonica où celle-ci devait avoir une flottille permanente détachée de sa base principale de Taurunum.
21 -- Brigetio, autre station fluviale de la Classis Pannonica.
22 -- Taurunum, près de Belgrade, est la grande base navale attestée de la Classis Pannonica depuis Vespasien (69-79).
23 -- Ratiaria, aurait été une des bases de la Classis Mœsica en aval des Portes de Fer où commençait sa zone de patrouille ; elle remonterait à l’époque augustéenne.
24 -- Noviodunum (Isaaccea) est la grande base de la Classis Mœsica dont la création date également de Vespasien ; cette flotte devait aussi contrôler la façade maritime de la Mésie.
25 -- Istrus, port fréquenté par la Classis Mœsica.
26 -- Chersonèse Taurique, port fréquenté par la Classis Mœsica sous Néron (54-68) à l’époque de la guerre d’Arménie.
27 -- Panticapée est un port où le passage de la flotte est attesté.
28 -- Sinope aurait été une base pour les escadres romaines et alliées ; elle était fréquentée en 14 avant J.-C. par Agrippa et le port servait d’abri à une flotte sous Trajan vers 115.
29 -- Calchedon face à Byzance, a servi à plusieurs reprises de base aux escadres impériales.
30 -- Périnthe a joué un rôle semblable à celui de Calchedon et plus particulièrement aussi de base de transit pour les troupes en provenance du front du Danube et destinées à l’Orient.
31 -- Thessalonique (Salonique) a reçu des escadres appartenant à la flotte de Misène dès le Haut Empire ; ce port constituait une escale vers l’Orient.
32 -- Palerme a occasionnellement reçu des escadres de Misène se rendant vers l’Espagne ou vers l’Afrique.
33 -- Syracuse a été une escale pour les escadres à destination de l’Orient.
 A -- Classis Germanica ; B -- Classis Pannonica ; C -- Classis Mœsica
Jean Pagès  http://www.theatrum-belli.com
Source : M. Reddé, Mare Nostrum, les infrastructures, le dispositif et l’histoire de la marine militaire sous l’empire romain, Ecole française de Rome, 1986.
Notes :
1. Jacques Heurgon, Rome et la Méditerranée occidentale jusqu’aux guerres puniques, PUF, 1980, pp . 110.
2. Jacques Heurgon, op. cit., p. 301.
3. Jacques Heurgon, op. cit., p. 337.
4. André Piganiol, La conquête romaine, Alcan, 1930, p. 132 ; J.H. Thiel, A History of Roman Sea-Power before the Second Punic War, North Holland Publishing, Amsterdam, 1954.
5. J.H. Thiel, op. cit., p. 46. E. Pais, Storia critica di Roma durante i primi secoli, E. Loeschner puis P. Maglione et C. Strini, Rome, 1918-1920, l’auteur pense que malgré la psychologie « continentale » du peuple romain, Rome « fut aussi une grande puissance maritime », « sans maîtrise de la mer, Rome n’aurait ni conquis l’empire, ni pu le conserver ».
6. Jean Rougé, La marine dans l’Antiquité, PUF, 1975, p. 111s.
7. Jacques Heurgon, op. cit., p. 337. Le cap Lacinien est aujourd’hui le cap Rizzuto à l’entrée du golfe de Tarente.
8. J.H. Thiel, op. cit., p. 160 ; Jean Rougé, op. cit., p. 112.
9. La marine marchande américaine pendant la seconde guerre mondiale a créé à terre un centre d’entraînement pour les états-majors et les marins qui serviront sur les « Liberty-ships » où ce personnel faisait le quart et vivait absolument comme à la mer.
10. Jean Rougé, op. cit., p. 113.
11. J.H. Thiel, op. cit., pp. 320 ss.
12. J.H. Thiel, op. cit., p. 325.
13. J.H. Thiel, op. cit., pp. 328-329.
14. J.H. Thiel, Studies on the History of Roman Sea-Power in Republican Times, Amsterdam, North Holland Publishing, 1946, p. 131
15. C.G. Starr, The Roman Imperial Navy 31 BC-AD 324. Westport, Connecticut, Greenwood Press, 1975, p. 1.
16. Cité par C.G. Starr, op. cit., p. 3.
17. C.G. Starr, op. cit., p. 4 ss.
18. C.G. Starr, op. cit., pp. 13-24.
19. C. de la Berge, « Etudes sur l’organisation des flottes romaines », Bulletin épigraphique, tome 6, 1886, p. 227 ; M.I. Rostovtseff, Histoire économique et sociale de l’empire romain, Laffont, 1988, p.165.
20. A. Piganiol a consacré une demi-page à la marine dans son manuel d’histoire de l’empire romain !
21. C.G. Starr, op. cit., pp. 106 ss.
22. C.G. Starr, op. cit., pp.124 ss.
23. C. de la Berge, art. cit., p. 3.
Source du texte : STRATISC.ORG

vendredi, 02 mars 2012

Donoso, precursor de la época del pavor

Donoso, precursor de la época del pavor


Entre restauración y cesarismo: la antiutopía de Donoso Cortés

Por Rafael Campos García-Calderón
Filósofo de la Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos

Ex: http://geviert.wordpress.com/

Cuando en Interpretación europea de Donoso Cortés, Carl Schmitt nos describe el pensamiento del político y diplomático español como un pensamiento de carácter “europeo”, nos muestra algo inédito dentro del llamado “pensamiento reaccionario”.
La Revolución de 1848 fue el anuncio de una nueva era en la historia de Europa. La civilización burguesa europea sustentada en el liberalismo fue puesta a prueba. Una nueva filosofía política suspendió, por un momento, la hegemonía cultural burguesa: socialismo, comunismo, anarquismo, nihilismo y ateísmo aparecieron como una amenaza en el horizonte. Frente a este peligro, la Contrarrevolución europea, uno de cuyos baluartes será Napoleón III, asumió el costo de enfrentar estos acontecimientos. Con su acción, trastocó el orden liberal burgués creando un nuevo fenómeno: el Cesarismo. Así, el Estado recuperó, bajo una nueva forma, su status político y se alió con un conjunto de fuerzas sociales no incluidas, hasta ese momento, en el orden democrático liberal.

Uno de los partidarios de esta Contrarrevolución fue Donoso Cortés. A diferencia de Joseph de Maistre, Donoso no creía en la restauración de la Monarquía. Para él, los reyes habían perdido su lugar en la historia política de Europa. En su lugar solo quedaba la “dictadura del sable”, la nueva forma de ejercicio de la soberanía política. Donoso había percibido que los acontecimientos del 48 no respondían simplemente a una crisis del sistema liberal burgués. En realidad, había visto en ellos uno de los síntomas de un proceso anunciado ya por algunos teóricos. Sin embargo, frente a estos científicos, la visión de Donoso destacaba por su radicalismo espiritual. Para él, no se trataba simplemente de un combate político o cultural, sino de una guerra religiosa contra un enemigo mortal: la pseudoreligión del hombre expresada en el socialismo y sus diferentes formas. En este sentido, superaba la coyuntura política de Napoleón III y preparaba, con su visión, el escenario de una antiutopía.
Por esta razón, Donoso no debería ser considerado un pensador reaccionario, sino más bien el precursor de una nueva época: la época del pavor (δεινόσ). En ella, el hombre, con tal de desplegar su genio organizado, aprovecharía ventajosamente cualquier situación ignorando las diferencias entre el bien y el mal. Es esta consideración espiritual de la cultura europea la que condenó al pensamiento de Donoso al silencio. Superada la revolución, los historiadores burgueses ocultaron los acontecimientos y restauraron su fe en los ideales ilustrados. Sin embargo, los acontecimientos del 48 quedaron sin una interpretación satisfactoria.


Setenta años después la amenaza reapareció en el horizonte. La Revolución Bolchevique dirigida por Lenin desarrollaba el programa que Marx había esbozado, a partir de los acontecimientos del 48, en el Manifiesto Comunista. A diferencia de los historiadores burgueses, los comunistas habían podido leer en estos acontecimientos la inexorabilidad de un proceso que sus rivales pretendían ignorar: el triunfo de la civilización proletaria. Existía, para ellos, una continuidad histórica entre ambas revoluciones y, por tanto, según ellos, un nuevo poder se apropiaría indefectiblemente de los destinos de Europa. Este poder tendría como objetivo primordial el desarrollo de las fuerzas productivas capitalistas para alcanzar el socialismo, fase preparatoria del comunismo o sociedad sin clases.
Sin embargo, esta interpretación no era la única posible. A despecho del olvido de los pensadores liberales, hubo un conjunto de filósofos e historiadores que atendieron a los eventos de aquel momento y a su continuidad en el tiempo. Uno de ellos fue, sin duda, el mismo Donoso Cortés, cuyo diagnóstico de la situación histórica ha permitido esbozar una “interpretación europea” de su pensamiento. Según esta expresión, el alcance de la interpretación comunista estaría fuera de los límites de Europa, pues en lugar de dar cuenta del destino histórico del Viejo Continente, habría esbozado el futuro de un espacio muy diferente: la Rusia de los zares.

La profecía comunista habría proyectado sobre una crisis histórica concreta su propio plan histórico ideal. Sin duda, el lugar de realización de esta idea no podía ser Europa, pues la condición sine qua non para su concretización era la implementación generalizada de la tecnología en la vida social y la centralización de la administración política. A pesar de la interpretación comunista, la cultura europea era todo menos un cuerpo homogéneo capaz de someterse sin más al aplanamiento homogenizante de la tecnología y la burocracia. Para ello, era preciso un espacio político carente de conciencia histórica, es decir, un Estado carente de vínculos orgánicos con su Sociedad. La Rusia zarista, sometida incontables veces al azote tártaro-mongol y a la política del exterminio, era el candidato oportuno para esta nueva utopía.
Para Carl Schmitt, era posible reconstruir esta interpretación europeísta de los acontecimientos del 48 a partir de la obra de Donoso Cortés y de otros pensadores contemporáneos que, sin embargo, no tuvieron con él mayor contacto. Esta perspectiva estaba constituida por tres elementos: un pronóstico histórico, un diagnóstico cultural y un paralelismo histórico con el pasado. Según el pronóstico histórico de esta interpretación, estos eventos habrían marcado el inicio del descenso de la civilización europea frente a la hegemonía de dos nuevas potencias: Rusia y EE.UU. Es a partir de la derrota de Napoleón I frente a Rusia en 1814 que esta nueva realidad se apodera de la historia: las potencias europeas han dejado de ser el centro de la Historia Universal.

El primer hito en la historia de esta interpretación lo constituye, según Schmitt, Tocqueville (1835), quien pronosticó el despliegue de la democratización y centralización administrativa a gran escala por parte de Rusia y EE.UU. Además de ello, Tocqueville hizo un diagnóstico cultural de Occidente. Para él, la revolución de 1789 abría las puertas al proceso de centralización política que se realizaría inexorablemente en manos de cualquier partido o ideología política. En este sentido, la actividad política en general estaba irremediablemente destinada a servir al propósito centralista administrativo: la civilización se dirigía a la masificación.
Paralelamente, Donoso Cortés (1850) había percibido que la política exterior de Europa había decrecido en relación a la de EE.UU., Rusia e Inglaterra. Esta señal le indicaba la misma conclusión a la que Tocqueville había llegado con su pronóstico. En cuanto al diagnóstico, Donoso arribaba a otra conclusión, cercana más bien a la que algunos historiadores y sociólogos alemanes habían efectuado. Según esta, las modernas invenciones tecnológicas puestas al servicio de la administración pública anunciaban la futura mecanización de la sociedad y la destrucción de los órganos intermedios de poder. En efecto, Jakob Burckhardt, Friedrich List, Max Weber y Oswald Spengler, entre otros, diagnosticaron la creciente mecanización e industrialización de la civilización como el camino hacia una sociedad perfectamente organizada dirigida por una burocracia que tiene en sus manos la explotación económica. A los ojos de esta “interpretación europea”, la nueva era no traía consigo el paraíso sino la esclavitud a la técnica.
Un tercer elemento de esta interpretación consistía en la comparación o paralelismo histórico que a partir de 1848 los historiadores, comunistas o “europeístas”, habían efectuado respecto de la situación histórica de Europa. Este paralelismo consistía en la comparación con la época de las guerras civiles en Roma, época en la que el Cesarismo se implantó y en la que el Cristianismo florecía hasta imponerse al Imperio. Esta comparación traía consigo la idea del final de la Antigüedad que, en clave decimonónica, debía leerse como el final del Cristianismo.

Spengler, en la Decadencia de Occidente, había tratado de vincular entre sí diversos paralelismos históricos. Entre ellos, el más importante constituía la batalla de Accio, considerado el comienzo de nuestra era cristiana. Saint-Simon, en El Nuevo Cristianismo, estableció una relación entre nuestra época actual y la de los orígenes del Cristianismo. Para él, el Cristianismo habría terminado y su sustituto, un nuevo poder espiritual, habría llegado a reemplazarlo: el Socialismo, el nuevo cristianismo.
La posición de Donoso frente al paralelismo histórico era muy diferente. En clara oposición a ambas interpretaciones del mismo fenómeno, consideraba que el Cesarismo y el inicio del Cristianismo como paralelismo histórico a los eventos de 1848 eran evidentes, aunque insuficientes para explicar la circunstancia histórica del momento. En efecto, a diferencia de todos los otros pensadores, juzgaba demasiado optimista el pronóstico, pues por ninguna parte veía a aquellos “pueblos jóvenes”, símbolo de la regeneración espiritual occidental, que hubiesen correspondido a los germanos de la época de las invasiones a Roma. En el siglo XIX, esos “pueblos jóvenes” ya estaban corrompidos por el veneno de la civilización occidental desde el momento en que son un resultado de esta. Por ello, para él, el paralelismo histórico entre nuestra época y la era del cristianismo primitivo o del cesarismo no podía asemejarse a la visión que los socialistas tenían del mismo.

En realidad, la falta de este tercer elemento regenerador hacía del paralelismo histórico la antesala a una catástrofe. En lugar de un elemento regenerador, una seudorreligión ‒el socialismo ateo‒ ocupaba su lugar. Se trataba del culto a la Humanidad absoluta, culto que, paradójicamente, conducía, según él, al terror inhumano. Desde su punto de vista y a la luz de los acontecimientos del 48, una religión del Hombre solo podía conducir al terror y la destrucción, pues el Hombre no tolera a los demás hombres que no se someten a él. Para Donoso, esta Utopía era el resultado de un espejismo producido por la asociación entre el progreso de la técnica y la aspiración a la perfección moral de la Humanidad. Así, la idea ilustrada de progreso dejó de ser un esquema abstracto y se transformó en un programa materialmente realizable a partir de la técnica.
La visión que Donoso tenía de los acontecimientos del 48 y del paralelismo histórico tan celebrado se asemejaba, según Schmitt, a la experiencia interior a la que Soren Kierkegaard había accedido por aquellos años. En efecto, Kierkegaard había percibido la amenaza de un clima de horrores a partir de la lasitud espiritual que las iglesias de su tiempo padecían. Una vez más, la era de las masas había llegado. En este sentido, la visión de Donoso no era otra cosa que la objetivación histórica de esta realidad espiritual. A diferencia de las utopías idealistas y materialistas que sus enemigos liberales y socialistas trataban de imponer a la historia desde esferas extrañas a ella, Donoso consideraba el acontecimiento histórico concreto y a partir de él interpretaba los signos sorprendentes de una teleología simbólica.
Desde este punto de vista, el Hombre no podía ser la encarnación de la paz, como querían los demagogos de su época, sino del terror y la destrucción. Según Schmitt, Donoso vaticinó el advenimiento de aquello que Nietzsche expresó en su concepto de Superhombre: la legitimación histórica del poder y la violencia sobre los infrahombres.

mardi, 28 février 2012

Piotr Arkadevich Stolypin, el Bismarck de Rusia

Revista Arbil nº 70

Piotr Arkadevich Stolypin, el Bismarck de Rusia

por José Luis Orella

Como la Revolución no quiere el cambio positivo sino la injusticia para abrirse camino. Un reformador asesinado por los comunistas

ilya-glazunov-a-portrait-of-graf-pyotr-stolypin-undated.jpgPiotr Stolypin nació en el seno de una familia aristocrática en 1862, que era fiel a los zares desde el siglo XVI. Amigo de Gogol y Tolstoi, también estaba emparentado con Lermontov y en un ambiente de tanta cultura, el joven Stolypin hablará con fluidez el francés, inglés y el alemán. Cuando cumpla 19 años será enviado a la Universidad de San Petersburgo, donde estudiará en la facultad de Física y matemáticas. Cuando se licencié ocupará el puesto de comisario de la nobleza en Kovno en 1889, donde permanecerá hasta 1902. En aquel lugar es donde el joven funcionario se hará un experto en temas de agricultura y administración local. Allí es donde llegará a la conclusión que la suerte de Rusia estaba unida a su inmenso campesinado, más de un 80 % de la población, y que la solución pasaba por la eliminación de los comunales existentes y su distribución entre los campesinos, transformando a estos en pequeños propietarios.

En 1903 fue nombrado gobernador de la provincia Saratov. Dos años después vendrá la oportunidad que convertirá al joven gobernador en una persona de fama pública. La revolución frustrada de 1905 puso a prueba al régimen zarista y la necesidad imperiosa de realizar reformas. Stolypin fue el único gobernador que pacificó su provincia sin hacer uso de la fuerza militar, de mostrando una gran energía y temeridad, pero cumpliendo con la palabra dada a los campesinos. Su firmeza y energía ante los revolucionarios, pero sensible a realizar reformas a favor del campesinado le convirtió en el hombre idóneo para el nuevo período de la historia rusa que se avecinaba. Pasó a ser el nuevo ministro del interior y su actividad dio una nueva oportunidad a la monarquía de Nicolás II, mientras los revolucionarios eseristas y populistas le colocaban como su principal enemigo.

En 1906 Piotr Stolypin era nombrado presidente del gobierno. Bajo su corto mandato realizó sesenta mil detenciones de terroristas y revolucionarios, desarticulando las principales organizaciones antiistema. Pero de manera paralela, la fuerte represión que llevó a cabo fue acompañada por una serie de enérgicas reformas. Sus puntos principales fueron:

*    Eliminación de los comunales

*    Derecho a la propiedad particular de la tierra de los campesinos

*    Igualdad civil de todos los rusos

*    Fin a la discriminación de los judíos

*    Escolaridad primaria y universitaria obligatoria

Esta serie de medidas contó con el apoyo de los octubristas de Alexander Guchkov que pretendían la instauración de un fuerte poder institucional a costa del personal del propio Zar. También el elemento nacionalista ruso apoyo su política. Esencialmente su política entrega de tierras en propiedad a los campesinos favorecía una rusificación de las provincias occidentales del imperio, a costa de los terratenientes polacos, alemanes y lituanos. Sin embargo, este reforzamiento de las instituciones del Estado a costa del autocratismo del Zar, no fue bien visto por los nostálgicos del viejo orden, que vieron en el presidente del gobierno un peligroso reformista. Su origen provinciano le enajenaba los apoyos de la Corte capitaliana y sus inyectivas a favor de las reformas posicionaba en su contra a la clase dirigente del régimen. Stolypin sólo contaba con un apoyo parlamentario reducido de una minoritaria clase media que quería un Estado parecido al alemán y la voluntad cambiante del Zar Nicolás II. Además su agresividad verbal contra los grupo revolucionarios lo convertían en el principal objetivo de estos, que veían en él a la única persona que podía hacer viable el desarrollo modernizador con una Rusia zarista. Si los campesinos explotados que trabajaban de manera comunal, pasaban a ser pequeños propietarios agrarios y sus hijos eran instruidos por una red de escuelas públicas, la revolución no tendría lugar. La masa campesina defendería el orden zarista a muerte y la minoritaria clase obrera no hubiese podido ser utilizada por los cuadros marxistas a favor de una revolución años después.

Por este cúmulo de circunstancias, Piotr Stolypin cuando fue a la opera de Kiev para ver La leyenda del Zar Sultán, de Rimsky Korsakov en 1911, un pistolero vinculado a los socialistas revolucionarios le disparaba en el pecho. Aún el estadista tuvo tiempo para levantarse pedir por el Zar y hacer la señal de la cruz, en el sentido ortodoxo. Poco después moría, entre los sollozos de un Nicolás II que veía que ante la desaparición del estadista el régimen quedaba tocado de muerte. Su muerte produjo el abandono de la política de reformas y el pase a la oposición de los sectores reformistas de clase media que habían confiado en 1905 en el aperturismo del Zar. Cuando la revolución estalle por segunda vez en 1917, no existirá un hombre capaz de evitar que el inmenso país de la tercera Roma fuese engullido por la revolución..

José Luis Orella

00:05 Publié dans Histoire | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0) | Tags : stolypine, histoire, russie | |  del.icio.us | | Digg! Digg |  Facebook

samedi, 25 février 2012

Fundamenten van het Russische nationalisme

Fundamenten van het Russische nationalisme

Robert Steuckers

De Europese dynamiek is Rusland doorheen zijn geschiedenis altijd vreemd gebleven. Zijn nationalisme, zijn nationale ideologie wordt gekenmerkt door een dubbel spel van aantrekking en afstoting tegenover Europa in het bijzonder, en tegenover het westen in het algemeen. De vermaarde Italiaanse slavist Aldo Ferrari herinnert eraan dat het Kiëvse Rijk tussen de 10de en de 13de eeuw stevig deel uitmaakte van het middeleeuwse economische systeem. De Tataarse invasie rukte het land weg uit de westerse orbit, en daarna wierp het Vorstendom Moskou zich in zijn strijd tegen de resten van het Tataarse rijk op als het nieuwe orthodoxe Byzantium, dat zich afzette tegen het katholieke en protestantse westen. De overwinning van Moskovië projecteerde vervolgens de macht van Rusland naar het onmetelijke Siberië. Vanaf de troonsbestijging van Peter de Grote tot de heerschappij van Catharina de Grote en zo verder tot in de 19de eeuw kwam het tot een schuchtere toenadering tot het westen. Voor heel wat waarnemers leidde de communistische revolutie een nieuwe periode van autarkische geslotenheid en van ontwestersing in, spijts de West-Europese oorsprong van haar ideologie, het marxisme.

Maar de verwestersing van de 19de eeuw werd geenszins algemeen aanvaard. Vanaf het begin van deze eeuw manifesteerde zich in heel Rusland een sterke fundamentalistische, romantische, nationalistische stroming, die zich als « slavofiel » tegenover de « westerlingen » opstelde. Zo werd de fundamentele kloof tussen links en rechts in Rusland geboren, in het zog van de Duitse romantiek. Deze kloof bestaat nog steeds vandaag de dag, en het debat wordt in Moskou steeds heftiger. De leider van de westersgezinden in de 19de eeuw heette Pjotr Tsjaadajev. De meest markante figuren van het slavofiele kamp waren Kirejevski, Khomiakhov en Axakov.
Het Russische occidentalisme is uitgewaaierd in verschillende richtingen: liberalen, anarchisten en socialisten. De slavofielen ontwikkelden op hun beurt een ideologie die op twee waardenpijlers berust: de orthodoxe christenheid en de agrarische gemeenschap. In minder propagandistische termen slaat dit op de autonomie van de kerken (de “autocefale” kerken) en op een vurig anti-individualisme, die allebei het westerse liberalisme, vooral dan de Angelsaksische variant ervan, beschouwen als het ultieme kwaad.

In de loop der decennia zal dit dualisme complexer worden. Bepaalde gelederen van de linkerzijde evolueren naar een Russisch particularisme, naar een anarcho-agrarisch en antikapitalistisch socialisme. De slavofiele rechterzijde evolueert naar een “panslavisme” dat door de machthebbers gemanipuleerd wordt ten gunste van de Russische expansiepogingen in de richting van de Balkan (steun aan de Roemenen, de Serviërs, de Bulgaren, en de Grieken tegen de Ottomanen). Één van deze “panslavisten” is de filosoof Nikolaï Danilevski, auteur van een gewaagd historisch portret van Europa als zijnde een gemeenschap van oude volkeren, die het aan historische energie ontbreekt, en van de Slaven als falanx van jonge volkeren die voorbestemd zijn om over de wereld te heersen. Onder leiding van Rusland moeten de Slaven Constantinopel veroveren, de rol van Byzantium overnemen en een eeuwigdurend rijk stichten.

Tegenover het programma van Danilevski plaatst de filosoof Konstantin Leontiev een alliantie tussen de Islam en de Orthodoxie tegen de kiemen van de liberale ontbinding die door het westen verspreid worden. Hij kant zich tegen elke oorlog tussen Russen en Ottomanen op de Balkan. De vijand zijn vooral de Angelsaksische machten. De zienswijze van Leontiev bekoort vandaag de dag nog vele Russen. Dostojevski ontwikkelt in zijn Dagboek van een schrijver gelijkaardige ideeën (jeugdigheid van de Slavische volkeren, ontaarding van het liberale westen), waar hij een radicaal antikatholicisme aan toevoegt, dat later de Duitse « nationaal-bolsjevieken » zou inspireren (Niekisch, Paetel, Moeller van den Bruck, die zijn werken vertaalde).

In de nasleep van door minister Sergej Witte aangevuurde bouw van de Transsiberische Spoorlijn bloeit een pragmatische en autarkische ideologie op, het « eurazisme », die zich in dienst van de Russische ruimte wil stellen, ongeacht of deze door een Tsaar of door een Vojd  (een “Chef”) van de Sovjets geleid wordt. De “eurazische” ideologen zijn Troubetzkoj, Savitski en Vernadsky. Voor hen vormt Rusland niet het oostelijke deel van Europa, maar een continent op zich, dat het centrum van de bewoonbare aarde omvat, hetwelk door de Britse geopoliticus Halford John Mackinder het “Hartland” werd genoemd. Volgens Mackinder kon de macht die erin slaagde om dit « Hartland » te beheersen automatisch de macht in de wereld grijpen. Dit “Hartland”, meer bepaald de zone tussen Moskou en de Oeral en tussen de Oeral en Transbajkalië, was inderdaad ontoegankelijk voor de zeemachten zoals Engeland en de Verenigde Staten. Het kon hen dus schaakmat zetten. De Sovjetpolitiek heeft, zeker ten tijde van de Koude Oorlog, geprobeerd om de nachtmerrie van Mackinder bewaarheid te doen worden, zijnde het onneembaar maken van het Russo-Siberische centrum van de Sovjetunie. Zelfs in het nucleaire tijdperk, het tijdperk van vliegtuigen en intercontinentale raketten. Dit “tot beschermd gebied maken” van het “Hartland” van de Sovjetunie was de officieuze ideologie van het Rode Leger, van Stalin tot Breznjev. De imperiale neonationalisten, de nationaal-communisten, de huidige patriotten verzetten zich tegen Gorbatsjov en Jeltsin, omdat ze hen beschuldigen van het ongedekt laten van het Oost-Europese glacis van het « Hartland », in de Oekraïne, het Baltikum en in Centraal-Azië.

Tot zover de premissen van het Russische nationalisme, waarvan de vele huidige varianten bengelen tussen een populistisch-slavofiele pool (“narodniki”, van “narod”, volk), een panslavistische pool en een Eurazische pool. Volgens Aldo Fer¬rari kan het huidige Russische nationalisme in 4 stromingen onderverdeeld worden: a) de neoslavofielen; b) de euraziërs; c) de nationaal-communisten; d) de etnonationalisten.

De neoslavofielen zijn in essentie zij die de stellingen van Solzjenitsyn omarmen. In Hoe ons Rusland herinrichten? stelt de in de Verenigde Staten in ballingschap levende schrijver een vermageringskuur voor Rusland voor: het moet zijn imperiale besluiteloosheid afschudden en volmondig het recht op zelfbeschikking van de volkeren van zijn periferie erkennen. Solzjenitsyn dringt vervolgens aan op een federatie van de drie grote Slavische naties van de voormalige Sovjetunie (Rusland, Wit-Rusland en Oekraïne). Daarnaast doelt hij op een maximale rentabilisering van Siberië en pleit hij voor een democratie die gebaseerd is op kleine gemeenschappen, een beetje naar het model van Zwitserland. Andere neonationalisten verwijten hem dat hij het imperiale vaderland wil verminken en dat hij een ruraal utopisme propageert, dat niet realiseerbaar is in de hypermoderne wereld waarin we leven.

De euraziërs zijn alomtegenwoordig in de Russische politieke arena van vandaag. De filosoof waar ze naar refereren is Lev Gumiljev, een soort Russische Spengler die de historische gebeurtenissen analyseert volgens de graad van “passionariteit” die de volkeren aanvuurt. Wanneer de volkeren gepassioneerd zijn, dan zijn ze in staat tot grootse zaken. Wanneer de innerlijke passie het laat afweten, dan vervallen of sterven de volkeren. Dat is het lot van het westen. Voor Gumiljev zijn de grenzen van Rusland heilig, maar het nieuwe Rusland dient het principe van de multietniciteit te respecteren. Er kan dus geen sprake zijn van russificatie van de volkeren van de periferie. Zij dienen integendeel tot eeuwige bondgenoten van het “imperiale volk” gemaakt te worden. Gumiljev, die in 1992 overleed, interpreteerde de ideeën van Leontiev in seculiere zin: de Turkssprekende volkeren van Centraal-Azië en de Russen dienen gemene zaak te maken, zonder rekening te houden met elkaars religieuze verschillen. Tegenwoordig vindt men de erfenis van Gumiljev in de kolommen van Elementy, het tijdschrift van Russisch « nieuw-rechts » van Alexander Doegin, en van Dyeïnn (omgedoopt in Zavtra, na het verbod in oktober 1993), de krant van Alexander Prokhanov, voorman van de nationaal-patriottische journalisten. Men vindt zijn ideeën echter ook terug bij sommige moslims van de « Partij der Islamitische Renaissance », meer bepaald bij Djemal Haïdar. Verwonderlijker is het feit dat twee leden van de staf van Jeltsin, Rahr en Tolz, aanhangers van het eurazisme zijn. Hun raad werd tot op heden evenwel vooral in de wind geslagen.

De nationaal-communisten maken aanspraak op de continuïteit van de Sovjetstaat als historische entiteit en als autonome geopolitieke ruimte, aldus Aldo Ferrari. Maar ze hebben begrepen dat de marxistische recepten geen meerwaarde meer bieden. Tegenwoordig bepleiten ze een “derde weg” waarin de notie van nationale solidariteit van cruciaal belang is. Dat is meer bepaald het geval bij de leider van de Communistische Partij van de Russische Federatie, Gennadi Zjoeganov.

De etnische nationalisten laten zich meer inspireren door Russisch extreem-rechts van vóór 1914, dat de “etnische zuiverheid” van het volk wil behouden. In zekere zin zijn zij xenofoob en populistisch. Zij eisen de terugkeer van de Kaukasiërs naar hun landen van oorsprong en geven bij momenten uiting aan een virulent antisemitisme, geheel volgens de Russische traditie.

Het Russische neonationalisme is zeer goed ingebed in de nationale traditie en heeft zijn wortels in het doctrinaire corpus van de 19de eeuw. In de literatuur slagen de neo-ruralisten van de jaren ’60 (Valentin Raspoetin, Vassili Belov, Soloükhi¬n, Fjodor Abramov, en anderen) erin de « westersgezinde liberalen » volledig te verdringen, en zetten daardoor een heuse « conservatieve revolutie » in beweging, met de goedkeuring van de Sovjetmacht! Het literaire tijdschrift Nache Sovremenik wierp zich op als vehikel van deze neo-orthodoxe, rurale, conservatieve, ethisch gerichte en ecologische ideologie. Het communisme heeft volgens hen het “mythisch bewustzijn” uitgeroeid en een “mensheid van amorele monsters” gecreëerd, die volkomen « verdorven » zijn, en bereid zijn om de westerse zinsbegoocheling te omarmen. Uiteindelijk nestelde deze “conservatieve revolutie” zich stilletjes in Rusland, terwijl in het westen de « rotzooi » van mei ’68 (dixit De Gaulle) een culturele catastrofe veroorzaakte waarvan we de gevolgen nog steeds dragen. De Russische conservatieven maakten ook een einde aan de communistische hersenschim van de « progressieve gang van de geschiedenis ». De communisten selecteerden inderdaad in de Russische geschiedenis datgene wat de revolutie aankondigde en verwierpen al de rest. Tegenover de “progressieve en selectieve gang” plaatsten de conservatieven de “unieke stroom”: zij waardeerden ineens alle Russische historische tradities en brachten de lineaire opvattingen van het marxisme een dodelijke slag toe.


- Aldo FERRARI, «Radici e prospettive del nazionalismo russe», in Relazioni internazionali, januari 1994.
- Robert STEUCKERS (ed.), Dossier «National-communisme», in Vouloir, n°105/108, juli-september 1993 (teksten over de verschillend erichtingen van het huidige Russische nationalisme, oevr het Russische « nationaal-bolsjevisme » van de jaren ’20 en ’30, over het Russiscjhe fascisme, over V. Raspoetin, over de Parijse polemiek van de zomer van 1993).
- Gerd KOENEN/Karla HIELSCHER, Die schwarze Front, Rowohlt, Reinbeck, 1991.
- Walter LAQUEUR, Der Schoß ist fruchtbar noch. Der militante Nationalismus der russi¬schen Rechten,  Kindler, München, 1993.
- Mikhaïl AGURSKI, La Terza Roma. Il nazionalbolscevismo in Unione Sovietico,  Il Mulino, Bologne, 1989.
- Alexander SOLZJENITSYN, Comment réaménager notre Russie?, Fayard, Paris, 1990.
- Alexander DOEGIN, Continente Russia, Ed. all'insegna del Veltro, Parma, 1991. Uittreksel in Vouloir  n°76/79, 1991, «L'inconscient de l'Eurasie. Réflexions sur la pensée “eurasiatique” en Russie». Te verkrijgen bij Robert STEUCKERS.
- Alexander DOEGIN, «La révolution conservatrice russe», tekst verschenen in Vouloir.
- Konstantin LEONTIEV, Bizantinismo e Mondo Slavo,  Ed. all'insegna del Veltro, Parma, 1987 (vertaling van Aldo FERRARI).
- N.I. DANILEVSKY, Rußland und Europa,  Otto Zeller Verlag, 1965.
- Michael PAULWITZ, Gott, Zar, Muttererde: Solschenizyn und die Neo-Slawophilen im heutigen Rußland,  Burschenschaft Danubia, München, 1990.
- Hans KOHN, Le panslavisme. Son histoire et son idéologie, Payot, Paris, 1963.
- Walter SCHUBART, Russia and Western Man, F. Ungar, New York, 1950.
- Walter SCHUBART, Europa und die Seele des Ostens,  G. Neske, Pfullingen, 1951.
- Johan DEVRIENDT, Op zoek naar de verloren harmonie - mens, natuur, gemeenschap en spi¬ritualiteit bij Valentin Raspoetin, eindverhandeling, Rijksuniversiteit Gent, 1992 (niet gepubliceerd).
- Koenraad LOGGHE, «Valentin Grigorjevitsj Raspoetin en de Russische traditie», in Teksten, Kommentaren en Studies, n°71, 1993.
- Alexander YANOV, The Russian New Right. Right-Wing Ideologies in the Contemporary USSR,  IIS/University of California, Berkeley, 1978.
- Wolfgang STRAUSS, Rußland, was nun?, Österreichische Landsmannschaft/Eckart-Schriften 124, Wien, 1993.
- Pierre PASCAL, Strömungen russischen Denkens 1850-1950,  Age d'Homme/Karolinger Verlag, Wien, 1981.
- Raymond BEAZLEY, Nevill FORBES & G.A. BIRKETT, Russia from the Varangians to the Bolsheviks,  Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1918.
- Jean LOTHE, Gleb Ivanovitch Uspenskij et le populisme russe, E.J. Brill, Leiden, 1963.
- Richard MOELLER, Russland. Wesen und Werden,  Goldmann, Leipzig, 1939.
- Viatcheslav OGRYZKO, Interview met Lev GUMILJEV, in Lettres Soviétiques,  n°376, 1990.
- Thierry MASURE, «De cultuurmorfologie van Nikolaj Danilevski», in Dietsland Europa,  n°3 et n°4, 1984 (Franse versie verschenen in Vouloir).

00:05 Publié dans Histoire, Théorie politique | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0) | Tags : russie, nationalisme, histoire | |  del.icio.us | | Digg! Digg |  Facebook

lundi, 20 février 2012

Le Capitaine Hermann Ehrhardt: ennemi de la République de Weimar et combattant clandestin

Le Capitaine Hermann Ehrhardt: ennemi de la République de Weimar et combattant clandestin

EhrhartPorrait.jpgLe Capitaine de corvette Hermann Ehrhardt était, au début des années 20, plus connu qu’Adolf Hitler. Il était l’espoir et la figure du chef pour la droite radicale allemande sous la République de Weimar. Il avait participé au putsch de Kapp; il avait combattu dans les Corps Francs; il avait été un “terroriste politique”, avait tiré les ficelles de plusieurs attentats politiques et était propriétaire terrien. A propos de sa personne, on affabulait et on brodait: on l’imaginait en permanence ourdissant des complots. Avec ses compagnons de combat, il était de toutes les conversations sous la République de Weimar, faisait souvent la une des journaux. Par deux fois, ce chef bien connu des Corps Francs a dû prendre la fuite en Autriche poursuivi par les sicaires de la police politique. La seconde fois, il est resté durablement sur le territoire de la république alpine et, en 1948, est devenu citoyen autrichien. Il est mort le 27 septembre 1971 dans son château à Brunn am Walde dans le Waldviertel. Quand il est mort, il y a quarante ans, son nom et son itinéraire politique avaient été oubliés depuis longtemps. Son décès n’a suscité qu’une brève notule dans le “Spiegel” de l’époque. Qui donc était cet homme qui, jusqu’à la fin des années 20, avait été considéré comme l’ennemi le plus dangereux de la jeune République de Weimar?

Hermann Ehrhardt était né le 29 novembre 1881 à la lisière de la Forêt Noire, dans la localité de Diersburg dans le Pays de Bade. En 1899, il s’engage comme cadet de la mer dans la marine impériale allemande et y achève une carrière typique d’officier de marine. En 1904, alors qu’il a acquis le grade de sous-lieutenant (“Leutnant zur See”), il participe, sous les ordres du Lieutenant-Colonel Ludwig von Estorff, aux opérations destinées à mater la révolte des Hereros dans le Sud-Ouest africain, à l’époque colonie allemande. Ehrhardt lui-même décrira cette aventure, ainsi que d’autres épisodes de sa vie mouvementée, dans un livre intitulé “Kapitän Ehrhardt – Abenteuer und Schicksale” (“Capitaine Ehrhardt – Aventures et destinées”) et paru en 1924, alors que sa notoriété était à son zénith ainsi que son influence sur les droites politiques de l’époque de Weimar.

Quand éclate la première guerre mondiale, Ehrhardt était “Kapitänleutnant” et chef d’une demie flotille de torpilleurs. En cette qualité, il avait participé à la bataille du Skagerrak, notamment aux opérations qui avaient conduit à la destruction du destroyer britannique “HMS Nomad” de 1000 tonnes. La demie flotille d’Ehrhardt fut alors envoyée en Flandre en octobre 1916 pour lancer des opérations de reconnaissance et des raids dans la Manche, afin de protéger l’action des sous-marins. En 1917, Ehrhardt est promu “Korvettenkapitän”. En septembre de la même année, il devient le commandant de la IX flotille de torpilleurs, fonction qu’il conserve jusqu’à la fin des hostilités. Après l’armistice, en 1919, il conduit son unité à Scapa Flow, où les équipages font saborber les torpilleurs. Ehrhardt n’a pas assisté lui-même au sabordage de sa flotille car, avec la plupart de ses hommes, il était déjà retourné à Wilhelmshaven.

Le 27 janvier 1919, les communistes proclament la “République des Conseils de Wilhelmshaven”. Réagissant à cette mutinerie des matelots de Wilhelmshaven, Ehrhardt rassemble autour de lui 300 officiers de marine, des hommes de sa propre flotille ainsi que d’autres unités, et donne l’assaut, le soir même de la proclamation de cette “République des Conseils”, au quartier général des révolutionnaires. Le 17 février, il fonde, après une intense campagne de recrutement parmi les marins non communistes, la “Marinebrigade Ehrhardt”, l’un des premiers Corps Francs de l’après-guerre allemand. Elle compte environ 1500 hommes.

Avec ce Corps Francs, l’un des plus connu dans l’espace allemand entre 1918 et 1923, Ehrhardt participe à l’élimination des “républiques des conseils” de Munich et de Braunschweig en avril et en mai 1919. Dans le centre du pays aussi, la Brigade Ehrhardt met un terme à plusieurs foyers insurrectionnels. En août 1919, la Brigade est engagée contre la première insurrection polonaise en Haute-Silésie. A la fin de l’année 1919, la troupe se voit renforcée par des éléments issus des unités ayant opéré dans les Pays Baltes, si bien qu’elle finit par compter 4000 hommes. A la charnière des années 1919 et 1920, Ehrhardt et ses hommes sont au repos et casernés dans le camp d’entraînement de Döberitz près de Berlin, où la dissolution de tous les Corps Francs, y compris la Brigade de Marine d’Ehrhardt, doit avoir lieu, comme l’exigent les vainqueurs.

ehrhardt2.jpgAu début du mois de mars 1920, Ehrhardt entre en rébellion contre l’ordre de dissolution et rejoint le putsch dit de Kapp, mené par un haut fonctionnaire prussien, Wolfgang Kapp, et par un général d’infanterie, Walther von Lüttwitz. La mission de la Brigade Ehrhardt était d’occuper le quartier gouvernemental de la capitale. Au cours de ce putsch, Ehrhardt a fait savoir ce qu’il entendait par “application de la violence” en cas de coup d’Etat: après que les fonctionnaires berlinois aient refusé de travailler pour le gouvernement putschiste, Ehrhardt aurait dit: “Eh bien, nous allons coller au mur les trois premiers fonctionnaires qui refusent de travailler. On verra bien alors si le reste va se mettre à travailler ou non”. Lorsque Kapp refusa d’appliquer cette mesure drastique, Ehrhardt a lâché ce commentaire: “Alors le putsch est fichu!”.

Après l’échec du putsch de Kapp et la dissolution effective de la Brigade, le 31 mai 1920, la tête d’Ehrhardt fut mise à prix en Prusse. Il prit la fuite et se réfugia en Bavière, à Munich, où les nationaux tenaient le pouvoir sous la houlette du premier ministre bavarois, le Chevalier Gustav von Kahr. Celui-ci toléra sa présence sur le sol bavarois et ne le fit pas extrader. Alors qu’une partie de ses anciens soldats et compagnons s’engageaient dans la Reichswehr nouvellement reconstituée, une autre partie choisit la clandestinité: par l’intermédiaire de l’“Organisation Consul”, ils participèrent à l’organisation et à l’exécution de nombreux attentats politiques. Ainsi, Matthias Erzberger, Karl Geis et Walter Rathenau ont été éliminés par d’anciens combattants de la Brigade Ehrhardt. Immédiatement après l’attentat perpétré contre Erzberger, Ehrhardt se réfugia en Hongrie car il craignait d’être arrêté, accusé d’avoir tiré les ficelles du complot fatal. Vu l’état de l’opinion publique après les premiers attentats, la Bavière n’offrait plus un refuge sûr pour le Capitaine.

En novembre 1922, Ehrhardt revient de son exil hongrois. Il est immédiatement arrêté. Mais, en juillet 1923, avec l’aide de ses hommes, Ehrhardt réussit une évasion spectaculaire et se réfugie en Suisse, puis revient à Munich sous une fausse identité. Dans les cercles nationalistes de la capitale bavaroise, il s’oppose de manière véhémente et ferme contre le putsch manigancé par Hitler et Ludendorff, car, à son avis, il avait été préparé de manière fort peu professionnelle.

EHRHARDT1.jpgDès ce moment, les nationaux-socialistes considèreront Ehrhardt comme une personnalité peu fiable. Le Capitaine a perdu aussi beaucoup de son prestige dans les rangs des droites allemandes. En avril 1924, vu l’imminence d’un procès pénal, Hermann Ehrhardt quitte le Reich pour l’Autriche; il revient en octobre 1926 après une amnistie générale décrétée par le Président Paul von Hindenburg. En 1931, Ehrhardt fonde le groupe “Gefolgschaft” (littéralement: la “Suite”), qui, malgré la perte de prestige subie par Ehrhardt, parvient encore à rassembler plus de 2000 de ses adhérants, ainsi que des nationaux-socialistes et des communistes déçus. Ils voulaient empêcher Hitler de prendre le pouvoir et fustigeaient la “mauvaise politique de la NSDAP”. Ehrhardt entretenait des rapports avec Otto Strasser et l’aile socialiste de la NSDAP. En 1933, Ehrhardt s’installe sur les terres du Comte von Bredow à Klessen dans le Westhavelland. En juin 1934, quand Hitler élimine Röhm, Ehrhardt aurait normalement dû faire partie des victimes de la purge. Il a réussi à prendre la fuite à temps devant les SS venus pour l’abattre, en se réfugiant dans la forêt toute proche. Les sicaires ne l’ont que mollement poursuivi car, dit-on, beaucoup de membres de sa Brigade avaient rejoint les SS. Ehrhardt s’est d’abord réfugié en Suisse puis, en 1936, en Autriche, où son épouse, le Princesse Viktoria zu Hohenlohe-Öhringen possédait un château à Brunn im Walde dans le Waldviertel. Ehrhardt n’a plus fait autre chose que gérer ces terres, que participer à des chasses au gibier et que s’adonner à la sylviculture. Il s’est complètement retiré de la politique.

Après l’Anschluss, Hitler fit savoir à Ehrhardt qu’il pouvait vivre en paix dans le Waldviertel à condition qu’il ne s’exprime plus politiquement et renonce à tout activisme. Après la seconde guerre mondiale, Hermann Ehrhardt est devenu citoyen autrichien en 1948. Après sa mort, il a été enterré dans le cimetière de la commune de Lichtenau im Waldviertel. La pierre tombale, sous laquelle reposent Ehrhardt et son épouse (décédée en 1976), est décorée de l’insigne de la Brigade, présentant un drakkar viking.

(article paru dans “zur Zeit”, Vienne, n°41/2011; http://www.zurzeit.at/ ).

mercredi, 15 février 2012

Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz

Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz

Ex: http://www.globalsecurity.org/

Tirpitz (1849-1930) German admiral and politician, was born at Kiistrin March Iq 1849. He entered the Prussian navy in 1865, and by 1890 had risen to be chief-of-staff of the Baltic station in the Imperial navy. In 1892 he was in charge of the work of the chief-of-staff in the higher command of the navy. He was promoted to be rear-admiral in 1895, and in 1896 and 1897 he was in command of the cruiser division in east Asiatic waters. In 1899 he reached the rank of vice-admiral and in 1903 that of admiral. For the long period of 19 years, from 1897 to 1916, he was Secretary of State for the Imperial navy, and in this capacity advocated the navy bills of 1898, 1900, 1907 and 1912 for increasing the German fleet and successfully carried them through the Reichstag. In 1911 he received the rank of grand-admiral, and he retired in 1916.

Germans had their own word for Tirpite; he was "Tirpitz the Eternal," which freely interpreted meant that among numerous qualities he possest one that was rare in German cabinets; he was the one minister who displayed tenacity in holding his job. No German since Bismarck had held public office so long. The Kaiser had had an endless succession of chancellors, foreign ministers, war ministers and colonial secretaries; but "Tirpitz the Eternal," until he was suddenly displaced early in 1916 on the submarine issue, apparently had a life tenure. With the adoption of unrestricted submarine warfare in February, 1917, however, he returned to power and on him was placed the chief responsibility for the warfare thereafter was carried on.

The best account of Adml. von Tirpitz's naval achievements and political activities is contained in the book which he published in 1919 under the title of Erinnerungen. In that book he shows how gigantic was the task of creating the new German navy with which Great Britain had to reckon at the outbreak of the World War. Not only had a whole array of subsidiary industries to be established and supplies of raw materials secured; thousands of skilled workmen and hundreds of directing personalities of strong character and exceptional ability had to be found and trained. It has been customary to attribute the creation of the German navy to the Kaiser William II., and it is true that in large part the initiative for successive increases, and the demagogic appeals by which they were supported, originated with the Emperor. On the other hand, it was Tirpitz who not only conducted the practical advocacy of these schemes in the Reichstag, but also organized the service of propaganda in the German press and on the platform, putting popular pressure on the parliamentary representatives of the nation and constraining them to agree to the enormous expenditure which these schemes entailed. William II. was often a hindrance as well as a help, and Tirpitz gives instances in which the work of the construction departments and even that of the Secretary of State were interrupted or hampered by wild-cat Imperial projects for the construction of architecturally impossible vessels or of mechanically impossible machinery. One of these projects, on which an elaborate report had actually to be submitted to the Emperor, was a device for which it was claimed that it had solved the problem of perpetual motion.

Tirpitz advances two contentions; first, that he would have sent the navy into decisive action at an earlier stage of the war; secondly, that he would have made an earlier and more ruthless use of the German U-boats; but his opponents traverse both these claims, and in particular assert that as Secretary of State he had neglected the construction of submarines, so that Germany entered the war with a comparatively small supply of these vessels.

Things that lay on the surface did not really produce the Great War - neither the ultimatum to Serbia nor hurried mobilizations, nor the invasion of Belgium. Back of all these stood in succession a long series of events which as deeply affecting national interests, ambitions, and fears had changed national policies and popular psychology. One fact that probably had most to do in changing the whole morale of the German people within a few years was the German navy and that meant Tirpitz.

He was more than a sailor, politician or administrator; he was a statesman who, for good or ill, fundamentally directed the course of European history. No longer ago than 1890 Lord Salisbury for lands in Africa had given Heligoland back to the Kaiser - that same Heligoland which in the World War served so effectively as a German naval base. The explanation was simple enough ; in 1890 the" German Empire had no fighting fleet. For many years afterward Great Britain still unallied with any other Power could glory in her "splendid isolation." For a generation Russia silently meditating the overthrow of British power in the East, had been playing the part in the British outlook that Germany came to play in later years. In 1893 England and France had been almost on the verge of war over Fashoda. In the nineties the tie that bound Great Britain to her colonies, and especially to Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, was slighter than it had been in years, but within fewer than ten years these conditions had so changed that instead of being splendidly isolated, England found herself splendidly allied. France and Russia, hereditary enemies, had become earnest friends and were now England's friends and the colonies and mother country found themselves reunited in a happy family.

The man chiefly responsible for this change was Tirpitz and his famous "preamble," which as put into the naval law of 1900, formed a new basis for the future history of Europe. "Germany must have a fleet of such strength," the preamble read, "that a war, even against the mightiest naval Power, would threaten the supremacy of that Power." No nation had ever before announced a national policy in such challenging fashion. Germany had declared her purpose to build a navy so strong that it could destroy the navy of Great Britain.

Hence came a change in British foreign policy, an abandonment of "isolation," and that series of alliances, ententes, understandings, and good feeling, that ultimately left Germany and her Austrian ally with no friend in Europe except the Turk. Despite official explanations, magazine articles, and interviews, Englishmen saw only one purpose in a steadily increasing German sea-power which in case of war was to isolate Great Britain and ferry a German army across the Channel. So long as Great Britain remained the greatest naval Power and Germany the greatest military Power, there had been no possibility of conflict. Germany's army and Britain's navy both served similar national ends; each protected the nation from obvious dangers, but neither could fight the other.

As the elder Moltke was the directing genius of German militarism, so Tirpitz started Germany on the path of navalism which was to become the Kaiser's absorbing passion. In looking for the real inspiration of the German fleet one had, however, to go beyond Tirpitz and the Kaiser. The inspiring mind was not a German but an American ; a man who wrote a book which, soon after its appearance, became the Kaiser's inseparable companion - Admiral Mahan and his "The Influence of Sea Power in History." "I have not read your book." said the Kaiser on meeting Mahan. "I have devoured it!"

Tirpitz's origin, although very respectable, was comparatively bourgeois; his father was a lawyer and judge in Frankfort-on-the-Oder. Tirpitz was born in the Mark of Brandenburg, more than one hundred miles from the sea. He grew up a somewhat raw-boned, ungainly, loutish boy, not especially marked for talent, distinguished only by a certain force of character and fixt determination. To his father he presented something of a problem and when only sixteen was placed on board one of several frigates which composed the Prussian navy and at that time served chiefly as havens for the younger sons of impecunious Prussian noblemen. In after years youthful aristocrats were often pained at Tirpitz's habit of advancing sons of tradesmen over their heads and would run to the Kaiser for consolation. "You'll have to pet along with him as well as you can," the Emperor would say, "That's what I have to do."

Once a ball-room favorite was discussing with Tirpitz his chances of naval promotion. "You have very white hands for a man who hopes to command a cruiser," was all the comfort he received. Another candidate for advancement discovered that, in the eyes of Tirpitz, he had one insuperable disqualification; he was a splendid dancer. "The fact that you waltz so divinely," said the Grand Admiral, "proves that you have no sea-legs. Sailors in the German navy can not waltz their way to the bridge. Go learn the hornpipe."

He never regarded social graces as desirable attributes for men who expected to fight battles at sea, and always frowned upon the practise of using warships in foreign ports for balls and receptions. His talents so stood upon the surface - initiative, industry, knowledge, commanding personality, the evidence which he gave, in every act and work. of a capacious brain - that his career became one success after another. He was a lieutenant at twenty; a lieutenant- commander at twenty-five and twenty years after entering the navy was flying the pennant of a rear-admiral. He first attracted the attention of the Kaiser by reorganizing the German torpedo fleet. He was also instrumental in establishing the German outpost of Kiaochow which was directly under his jurisdiction as Minister of Marine.

After serving on a commission for torpedo experiments, Tirpitz entered the Admiralty as chief of staff at Kiel, the headquarters of the fleet. In the prime of life, with his varied training and experience, he had now reached a position where his talent for organization and his initiative had full sway. Von Tirpitz had the imaginative constructiveness of the mathematician and the genius of the engineer. Under his fostering care the torpedo service became a flourishing branch of the German navy where formerly it had consisted of a few unimportant mosquito boats.

With his forked beard, large, round face, huge bulk, he incarnated physically the sea-god Neptune. With a genuine sailor he could easily unbend. He could roar out a sailor's ditty with the best of them. His business and his relaxations were all nautical and he had one favorite topic of conversation - the disgraceful inadequacy of the Kaiser's fleet and the necessity of placing German sea-power on a plane with its military strength. If he had one enthusiasm, it was the British Navy; he admired its history. traditions and great achievements. Nelson, Drake, Hawkins. and other great sea-rovers had been the guiding influences of his life. When he came to the United States with Prince Henry in 1902. American naval officers found him a delightful and congenial comrade as well as a wide-awake observer.

The task enjoined upon him by the Kaiser was a definite one; to create an effective German fleet. Public opinion, and public opinion only, as he manipulated it, created the German fleet. Before he was admiral, or a naval statesman, Tirpitz became a press-agent - probably the most successful in the world; certainly the one who operated on the largest scale. America never organized a press bureau that could compare with Tirpitz's.

His Navy League - started in 1898 - was the parent of all similar organizations. While Tirpitz organized his Flotten-verein Prince Henry was placed at its head, purely for the purpose of being the main instrument in a "campaign of education." Tirpitz sought to teach the German people why they needed a navy, what kind they needed, and how they could get it. The league had branches not only in every province, city, town, village, and hamlet in the empire, hut in every part of the world where Germans lived. Even England - the country against which the German navy was aimed - had branches of the German Navy League, and it had thousands of loyal and contributing members in the United States. It poured forth an unending stream of naval information. in the shape of newspaper articles, interviews, pamphlets, and lithographs; it had motion-picture shows and lecturers who visited the remotest villages. It even introduced its propaganda into public schools. As a result the most benighted Pomeranian peasant who had hardly known that salt water existed and had never imagined what a warship was began to discuss glibly the relative values of destroyers and light cruisers and to debate the possibilities of dreadnoughts and submarines.

The German navy, almost as much as the army, began to figure as a bulwark of the empire. Besides the Navy League, Tirpitz organized a regular press bureau. These agencies, always active. displayed particular liveliness when legislation was pending. He organized special excursion trips from the interior to the seaboard, at extremely low rates, so that the everyday German farmer and workman, with his wife and babies, might have an opportunity to see the Kaiser's battleships, inspect big guns, and so feel himself a part of a machine he had helped to pay for.

When the Reichstag met and took under consideration naval estimates they found they had a new master; back of Tirpitz were the "folks at home." He was not only a great press agent but a finished wire-puller and button-holer. He did not stiffly remain aloof and request the Reichstag to do certain things, but went among its members with an ingratiating smile and a quiet voice. making individual appeals. He cultivated members, joked with them told them funny stories, made them his friends.

In the United States von Tirpitz was later identified with the submarine campaign and that policy of ruthlessly sinking merchant-vessels, without warning, which brought the United States into the war, but the admiral was long an opponent of the submarine. For many years he favored the torpedo-boat above the U-boat as an effective naval weapon. In December, 1905, he wrote that the submarine was valuable for certain narrowly limited purposes only; in April, 1910, he still admonished the German Naval Department to place the interests of the torpedo-boat fleet before those of the submarine; as late as 1912 he gave little favor to the submarine.

The Dreadnought apparently destroyed at a stroke the strong navy that Tirpitz had laboriously built up on conventional lines, but Tirpitz saw the situation in another light. It really furnished him the great opportunity he had been seeking. The dreadnought was the most colossal instance of miscalculation that naval history records. It was true that, as Sir John had foreseen, it made obsolete the German navy, but it made obsolete the British Navy as well. After it was launched, the first-line battle strength of all navies would be measured by dreadnoughts and by dreadnoughts alone. This meant that, in the race for naval supremacy, every nation would start on even terms. England had had such a great lead that, had the status quo been preserved, Germany could never have caught up with her but when England voluntarily pigeon-holed her whole fleet, she lost this enormous handicap. Tirpitz sprang at this opportunity with all the rapidity of genius.

In 1908 the Reichstag amended its program so that an ultimate German navy of fifty-eight dreadnoughts became Tirpitz's answer to Sir John's challenge and an appropriation of $50,000,000 for rebuilding the Kiel Canal, so that these ships could pass through was promptly voted. Sir John had asserted that Germany, in 1906, hadn't a single slip big enough to build a dreadnought; three years later she had seventeen. Tirpitz had called together all the biggest shipbuilders and told them to prepare to build these warships. Such an enormous spurt followed in shipping equipment as the world had never seen before.

dimanche, 12 février 2012

Mata Hari, la fabbricazione di una spia


Mata Hari, la fabbricazione di una spia

La danzatrice fu vittima di una “intossicazione” tedesca e di una volontà politica francese

Cristina Bardella

Alain Decaux, Accademico di Francia, è l’autore di uno dei libri più venduti negli ultimi mesi Oltralpe. L’illustre saggista ha dato alle stampe un’altra opera dedicata ai “Grandi misteri della Storia”, di cui è specialista, dove spicca un capitolo riservato a Mata Hari (“Fu davvero colpevole?”), la danzatrice dal fascino fatale, la spia per eccellenza, colei che durante la Grande Guerra carpiva i segreti militari ammaliando alti ufficiali con le sue doti, artistiche o strettamente personali.

Ma perché Mata Hari è divenuta una leggenda? Perché, in mancanza di notizie certe, si è sempre accettata la versione ufficiale impossibile da verificare, in quanto il dossier relativo all’”Agente H21” è segretato negli archivi militari custoditi nel castello di Vincennes, lo stesso luogo, per inciso, dove fu giustiziata la danzatrice; ed una versione ufficiale d’altronde arricchita, al tempo, da particolari “ufficiosi” fatti filtrare ad arte ed evocanti scenari ad alto quanto infallibile impatto - sesso estremo e spionaggio consumati in alcove grevi di fumi d’incenso e rimandanti a misteriosi riti orientali -, forgiati per colpire, attraverso la stampa, l’opinione pubblica francese (e quella degli alleati) duramente provata dalla guerra in corso. Solo che Decaux non è stato il primo a porsi il problema. Agli inizi degli Anni Ottanta il giornalista inglese Russell Warren Howe fu portavoce a Washington di Claude Cheysson, allora Commissario agli Affari esteri Ue (e poi Ministro degli Esteri francese); questi, nel 1985, concesse a Howe l’inusitato favore – sempre e comunque negato anche ai nomi più eminenti della storiografia, transalpina e non solo – di consultare il dossier segreto relativo a Mata Hari, fatta eccezione per due fascicoli. Come si può comprendere agevolmente, il gesto di Cheysson, elargito con ogni evidenza a titolo personale, oltrepassando la legge in vigore, ad un inglese nemmeno storico di professione, ma solo cultore della materia, suscitò vaste polemiche; alle quali, forse, non era estranea la circostanza che, ancora nella fortezza di Vincennes, nel 1422 morì l’Enrico V di scespiriana memoria, il re d’Inghilterra che sconfisse i francesi nell’epica battaglia di Azincourt ed il cui figlio unì le due corone.

In ogni caso è grazie alla pubblicazione nel 1986 di “Mata Hari. The True Story” (edito in Italia dieci anni dopo) dello stesso Warren Howe, che si è conosciuta la verità, sia pure non integrale, sulla spia più famosa del mondo; ciò non toglie che, nonostante tale ricostruzione su basi documentarie, ed in verità assai ben condotta da un autore che comunque ha dato alle stampe altre opere non trascurabili, permanga tuttora il cliché della maliarda dall’irresistibile seduzione entrato nell’immaginario collettivo. Malauguratamente per la leggenda la Mata Hari, quella vera, che emerge dallo studio di Warren Howe è completamente differente dal mito alimentato da una vasta letteratura a sensazione e da due celebri film. Nulla a che vedere dunque né con Greta Garbo né con Jeanne Moreau, visto che pure in gioventù la (presunta) spia, al secolo Margaretha Zelle, non era dotata di particolare avvenenza; e particolare intelligenza non ne ebbe mai.

Margaretha era nata nel 1876 nel villaggio olandese di Leeuwarden: e dunque non – come avrebbe sostenuto al tempo della sua effimera notorietà – sulle rive del Gange, allevata come danzatrice sacra in un tempio indù. A diciotto anni rispose ad un annuncio matrimoniale pubblicato da un giornale locale: l’annuncio era uno scherzo, architettato da un redattore, ai danni di un ufficiale reduce dalle colonie, un quarantenne di lontane origini scozzesi afflitto dalla malaria e dalla depressione; ma finì davvero in uno sposalizio.

John Mac Leod condusse la giovane moglie, che gli avrebbe dato presto due figli, tra Giava, Bali e Sumatra; il militare era alcolizzato e di temperamento irascibile, ed il male assortito connubio fu presto segnato da violente crisi, culminate con la tragedia, mai appurata nonostante un’inchiesta delle autorità coloniali olandesi, della morte di uno dei bambini (si disse che fu avvelenato da un domestico giavanese per vendetta nei confronti di Mac Leod).

Di ritorno in Europa, la coppia si divise e Margaretha si diresse a Parigi, dove trovò lavoro come modella di un pittore, a cui riferì di essere una nobildonna inglese decaduta; ma l’idea di farsi largo sui palcoscenici parigini come interprete di misteriose danze rituali d’Oriente fu di un diplomatico suo amante. La sedicente “Lady Mac Leod” esordì in una esibizione dove appariva in una sorta di trance, strappandosi i veli che la avvolgevano in un irresistibile moto di attrazione per il dio Shiva, scossa da palpiti, per poi crollare a terra ormai sazia di voluttà.

La consacrazione venne poi dal ricchissimo uomo d’affari e collezionista d’arte orientale Guimet, che la invitò nel palazzo in Place de Iéna – l’attuale Museo Guimet – dove aveva aperto al pubblico la sua favolosa collezione; Margaretha assunse il nome esotico di Mata Hari ed intraprese tournée che la portarono in teatri europei prestigiosi.

Il successo durò qualche anno. Sulla cresta dell’onda Margaretha non aveva mai cessato di unirsi ad agiati signori, ma presto le sue esibizioni vennero a noia; così diventò quello che si definiva un’avventuriera. Con la Grande Guerra, sfiorita rapidamente e quasi quarantenne, era difficile reperire amicizie cospicue, almeno in Francia. Fu così che la ex-danzatrice, tentando la sorte a Madrid, sull’annuario diplomatico scelse il nome di un ufficiale tedesco a cui proporsi. Lei non poteva saperlo, ma il maggiore Kalle era il numero due dei servizi segreti militari tedeschi in Spagna, Paese neutrale e, come tale, crocevia dello spionaggio in tempo di guerra.

Divenuta l’amante di Kalle, non gli fece rivelazioni (che non poteva detenere), riferendo solo innocui pettegolezzi parigini, ma il maggiore si servì di lei, attribuendole il codice di agente H21 in dispacci fasulli redatti, a scopo di “intossicazione”, per essere intercettati dal controspionaggio francese, che nel febbraio 1917 arrestò la donna, tornata in Francia per incontrare vicino al fronte l’uomo che amava, il ventunenne ufficiale russo Vadim de Maslov.

Per le autorità militari e per il governo francesi il falso agente H21 fu una manna insperata. Il 1917 era l’annus terribilis della guerra, contando milioni di morti in battaglia: così si diede in pasto all’opinione pubblica una “spia” perfetta per il ruolo. L’ex-ballerina, avventuriera, olandese sradicata senza parentele o amicizie influenti divenne un eccezionale capro espiatorio per gli errori degli alti comandi. Come detto, i giornali fecero il resto, sfruttando particolari ghiotti gettati loro scientemente in pasto, vedi il flacone contenente inchiostro simpatico per messaggi segreti, in realtà un ben noto liquido contraccettivo di uso comune nelle case di tolleranza. “H21” fu giustiziata il 15 ottobre dello stesso anno.

Svelato il mistero di Mata Hari, a nostro parere ne rimane un altro, non altrettanto suggestivo ma forse non meno intrigante. Warren Howe, nato nel 1925, è scomparso nel 2008; così rimarranno enigmatiche le ragioni per cui Cheysson abbia elargito un simile favore – facendo senza dubbio pressioni sul Ministro della Difesa, a cui fanno capo gli archivi militari – ad un semplice portavoce, oltretutto inglese. Ma forse Howe era più di un semplice portavoce.

Pilota della RAF durante il secondo conflitto mondiale, il giornalista inglese nella sua prefazione al libro su Mata Hari evoca Somerset Maugham definendolo curiosamente “maestro”.

Considerato che Maugham univa all’eccellente attività di scrittore quella di agente dei servizi segreti militari britannici; considerato che Cheysson (classe 1920), già combattente agli ordini del generale Leclerc nel territorio della Francia Libera in Africa, fu poi a capo dei servizi di collegamento con le autorità di occupazione della Germania Ovest…

07 Febbraio 2012 12:00:00 - http://rinascita.eu/index.php?action=news&id=12976

samedi, 11 février 2012

The Once-Weres and the Could-Have-Beens of Europe

The Once-Weres and the Could-Have-Beens of Europe

by Derek Turner
Ex: http://www.alternativeright.com/

Vanished Kingdoms—The History of Half-forgotten Europe
Norman Davies. London: Allen Lane, 2011. 800 pp, £30 hb

Davies_Norman_-_Vanished_Kingdoms_2When I visited the Naval Museum in Madrid several years ago, I took away as a souvenir a facsimile of a coloured 1756 naval manual illustration entitled Banderas que las naciones arbolan en la mar. It shows ninety different flags that might conceivably be met with upon the high seas by Spanish sailors—ranging from the personal standard of the Hapsburgs and the banner of the Papal States to the presumably more frequently encountered flags of Brabant, Corsica, the English East India Company, Flanders, Pomerania, Riga, Stettin, Zeeland and many other names now relegated to history’s footnotes.

Almost none of these once brinily-billowing banderas would now be encountered on any seas by anyone. The illustration is a piquant evocation of a looser and more colourful Europe—a hint of all that has faded into dull desuetude in the two-and-a-half centuries since. But it is also a salutary reminder of the complex counter-narratives that underlie accepted realities, and seethe beneath the veneer of the nations we think we know.

My maritime metaphor echoes Norman Davies’s introduction to Vanished Kingdoms:

This book . . . garners the traces of ships of states that have sunk, and it invites the reader, if only on the page, to watch with delight as the stricken galleons straighten their fallen masts, draw up their anchors, fill their sails and reset their course across the ocean swell.

Sometimes the most compelling history is the kind that falls between the cracks of the chronicles and subverts fondly-held foundational myths. The ‘official’ history of Europe is variegated enough to give any number of historians lifetimes of employment, but now the 72 year old Slavonic specialist Davies has produced fifteen case studies dating from the fifth to the twentieth centuries to suggest that a great deal of what we take for granted about Europe’s past is “narrative colonization” which ought to be unlearned. He ends with a short chapter, “How states die”, which seeks to formulate “a typology of vanished kingdoms”.

This all makes for an engrossing, evocative and original contribution to European historiography. There will be few who will not unearth some new insight to challenge conventional, convenient versions of events—the flattering histories which Napoleon famously dismissed as “a fable agreed upon”. The “Europe of a hundred flags” wished for by the Breton nationalist Yann Fouéré is more like a Europe of a thousand flags. “The past is not only a foreign country that we half-knew existed” Davies observes—“it is hiding another concealed country behind it, and behind that one, another, and another, like a set of Russian dolls”.

Davies is a melancholic and romantic, and his intellectual interests have been influenced by his Welshness, chapel-going and early encounters with Heraclitus and Gibbon. He also possesses a Polonism so pronounced that he has (unjustly) been accused of understating historical Polish anti-Semitism and downplaying Jewish suffering during World War Two. This may have cost him a tenured position at Stanford in 1986, something he clearly still broods upon, despite claiming on his (typo-full) website that

. . . he remembers the episode stoically—as evidence of academic small-mindedness and of [the] fate awaiting anyone who confronts entrenched opinions and prejudices.

It cannot have helped that he is strongly anti-communist. His website entry on his 2006 book Europe at War explains his view that communism was the moral equivalent of nazism:

[T]he war in Europe was dominated by two evil monsters, not by one . . . The liberators of Auschwitz were servants of a regime that ran still larger concentration camps than those they liberated . . . The outcome of the [war] was at best ambiguous. The victory of the West was only partial, its moral reputation was severely tarnished and, for the greater part of the continent of Europe, ‘liberation’ was only the beginning of more than fifty years of further totalitarian oppression.

The most recent of his shipwrecks of history is the Soviet Union itself. There were many factors responsible for the USSR’s dissolution, but the problems were fundamental:

[T]he Soviet system was based on extreme force and extreme fraud. Practically everything that Lenin and the Leninists did was accompanied by killing; practically everything they said was based on half-baked theories, a total lack of integrity and bare-faced lies.

He maintains that Gorbachev was probably taken by surprise by the events he expedited—and observes that glasnost, which was invariably rendered in the Western press as “openness”, actually means “publicity”. The subsequent inglorious events traumatized all Russians, and even now feed nationalistic dislike of the oligarchs and the Balt, Turkic, and Chechen separatists of Russia’s near abroad—and of course America. Putin’s rhetoric about the alleged glories of the USSR is coloured by “a strong sense of bafflement” and “pangs of corporate guilt” that he and other insiders did not forestall this degrading dissolution.

Davies leads the Western reader surefootedly across the little-known landscape of the eastern continent, making sense of entangled narratives and being fair to all. He commences each chapter with descriptions of these places as they look now, from their topography to the chief historical sites, before haling us back across the centuries with tales of ancient alarums, excursions, raiders, crusaders, forgotten wars, futile resistances, burned villages, slighted cities, and mounted tribes moving restlessly forever across that exhilarating vague vastness between Teutonia and Tartary, Europe and Asia. This area which has too few defensible frontiers for its own good has seen the most atrocious crimes, mountains upon mountains of skulls heaped up by successive tsunamis of Tartars, Mongols, Cossacks, Teutonic Knights, Communists, and Nazis powered by greed, ideology, religion, race-hatred, or sheer love of killing.

Other essays with an east European theme include one on Litva, the Polish-Lithuanian “Grand Duchy with Kings”, at one time the largest of all European states covering much of what is presently Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine and Poland, and that lasted more than five centuries. We are taken through Litva’s crepuscular chronicles from the time Viking (locally called Varangian) explorers started to hazard the region’s headwaters, pushing ever further inland through a primevally-forested country populated by wisent, konik, elk, and lynx, some of which still persist in a precious fragment of this forest along the Polish-Belarussian border. The Varangians conquered existing Slav settlements like Kiev or established new fortress-fords at places like Novgorod, and traded or fought all the way down to the Black Sea and eventually Byzantium, where for five centuries the Emperors of the East maintained an Anglo-Scandinavian Varangian Guard as both elite fighting regiment and personal corps. Semi-legendary kings ruled over a huge, indeterminate territory—Ukraina means “On the Edge” in Slavonic, and these wild steppes needed to be protected by self-defence communities of Kozaks (a Turkic word meaning adventurer or freebooter) because they were so prone to incursions. Although Orthodoxy made rapid advances from the 9th century onwards, the ruling caste long remained pagan; Grand Duke Gedminas legendarily founded Vilnius after dreaming of an iron wolf howling from a hill overlooking three rivers, and when he died in 1342 his obsequies were entirely pagan, his body being incinerated along with his favourite servant, favourite horse and a group of German slaves. But they cleverly allied with Catholic or Orthodox dynasties according to the political winds, and this pragmatism, as well as Litva’s relative remoteness, helps to account for the Duchy’s durability. In 1386, Prince Jogaila was elected king by an assembly of barons on condition of accepting Christian baptism and permanent union with Poland, and for almost 200 years afterwards “Jagiellonians” steered their ship as a joint Polish-Lithuanian venture, now intermarried with the Angevin and Hapsburg European mainstream. Even after the Jagiellonians had gone, the Duchy was often fortunate in its statesmen, but by the early 17th century it was trapped between Muscovy pushing from east and south and Sweden from north and west, and the king-grand duke was forced to flee into exile. There was time for one last great figure, in the shape of King John III Sobieski, whose hussars broke the Turks outside Vienna in 1683, but by then the Duchy was riven by internal disputes and weak leadership. The Great Northern War of 1700-21 between Russia and Sweden took place largely on the Duchy’s territory, and from then on it became the plaything of Russia, Prussia and Austria—the “international bandits” as Davies calls them, who carved it up between them while Voltaire and other “wisecrackers of the Enlightenment” chortled. There were last desperate attempts to assert independence and expel foreign troops, notably in 1794 in Warsaw. Russian forces under the leadership of Suvorov massacred the population of the Warsaw suburb of Praga, and the General sent a message to Catherine the Great reading simply “Hurrah. Praga. Suvorov”—to which she answered, equally laconically, “Bravo Fieldmarshal. Catherine”. On 25 November 1795, the last of the offices of state ceased functioning and the last king-grand duke, Stanlislaw-August, abdicated, after which he was exiled to captivity in St. Petersburg. This sad ending has been reprised severally since thanks to the area’s unlucky proximity to Germany and Russia. Time after time, even more than other areas of Europe, this unhappy region has witnessed what Zbigniew Herbert would call “the abrupt change of life / Into archaeology”. Even now, the former provinces of Litva—now Poland, Belarus and Lithuania—all claim to be the legitimate heirs of the legacy, even arguing over Adam Mickiewicz, whose 1834 epic poem Pan Tadeusz commences:

O Litva, My homeland, you are like health /

How to gauge your worth, only he can know /

Who has lost you. Today I see your full beauty /

And describe it, because I long for you.

Another equally engrossing east European-themed essay is “Borussia: Watery Land of the Prusai”, where we are introduced to previously unknown tribes emanating from what would one day become East Prussia, fleetingly recalled from the Mazovian memory-hole before sinking back into their immemorial lagoons, making us wish we knew them better—Varmians, Pomesgasanians, Natangians, Sambians, Skalovians, Nadruvians, Bartians, Sudovians, and Gallinians. We hear of the Wars of the Schmalkaldic League and the fate of the alchemist Conte de Ruggiero, hanged in a gilded gallows, wearing a toga made of gilt paper—and are tantalized by the possible fate of Konigsberg’s/Kaliningrad’s fabled Bernsteinzimmer (“Amber Room”), fifty-five gol and crystal-decorated amber panels weighing a total of six tons presented to Peter the Great, missing since 1944, according to assorted legends languishing in a Saxon mine, in a sunken German battleship, concealed in Moscow or concreted into the foundations of Soviet-era buildings. (German donations helped to pay for a new Amber Room opened in 2003 in St. Petersburg’s Catherine Palace.)

Then there is “Rusyn—The Republic of One Day”. That serio-comic “One Day” started at 5am on 15 March 1939 when the Wehrmacht rolled into the rump of Czechoslovakia and the Slovaks declared independence. The Ruthenian “Czechoslovaks” of Carpatho-Ukraine decided they might as well emulate the Slovaks, and by 6.30 pm they had declared a democratic republic, announced that the official language was Ukrainian, hoisted a flag of two horizontal blue and yellow bands and announced a touchingly vainglorious anthem, Shche ne vmerla Ukraina (“Ukraine has not yet perished”):

Ukraine has not yet perished, nor her glory, nor her freedom,
Upon us, fellow Ukrainians, fate shall smile once more.
Our enemies will vanish like dew in the sun,
And we too shall rule, brothers, in a free land of our own.

But the following morning, Hungarian troops had crossed the border and annexed the little country. Rusyn paramilitaries fought on for a few days in the mountains, with hundreds executed after capture, but geopolitics told against them. In 1944, the Hungarians were briefly replaced by the Germans before the Red Army swept through and incorporated Carpatho-Ukraine into the Ukrainian SSR, repressing its distinct culture (ironically, today’s Rusyn autonomy movement is sometimes said to be financed by Moscow).

Davies’ forays into western and southern Europe are equally diverting. We start with the myth-encrusted Visigoths of Tolosa (Toulouse), and are introduced to the minutely described 5th century King Theodoric II, whose knees were “the comeliest and least wrinkled in the world”, who “prays with assiduity…but one suspects more habit than conviction” and was married to Queen Pedauco (“Goose-foot”—whose knees were presumably more wrinkled than her spouse’s).

We go to Spain before Spain ever existed, to pay our historical respects to the now-subsumed Aragonese, led by aristocrats like “Wilfred the Hairy” who defied fellow “valley viscounts” and the Moors from fortified hilltops.

We follow the meteoric career of Burgundy’s Charles the Bold, from the 1466 “high” of murdering all the inhabitants of Dinant to his 1477 downfall in what is now Switzerland, his naked corpse “frozen into the ice of a pond . . . split to the chin by a Swiss halberd, the body many times pierced by Swiss pikes”.

In the chapter on Sabaudia (Savoy), we are told of the time when the present Savoyard (and therefore Italian) royal claimant Vittorio Emanuele endeared himself to his virtual subjects by fatally shooting a man after shouting at him Voi, italiani di merda (“you Italian shits”).

In the discussion of Napoleon’s client state of Etruria, it is gratifying to renew acquaintance with Talleyrand’s citric aperçu on the judicial murder of the Duc d’Enghien, last of the French Bourbons—C’était pire qu’un crime; c’était une faute (“It was worse than a crime; it was a mistake”).

We are taken to Rosenau in southern Germany, to be regaled with just a few of the multiple ironies of Anglo-German history; during World War I the Britain ruled by descendants of Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha underwent night bombing raids from giant Gothas planes named in honour of the selfsame dynasty. Like a pawkily proud Welshman, Davies takes mischievous pride in underscoring just how German is the “British” royal family, infinitely more closely related to the un-Home Counties-sounding Anhalt-Zerbsts or Pfalz-Zimmerns than to William the Conqueror, Henry VIII or even the Stuarts.

Still on a Cymric theme, there are anecdotes of Sinn Féin’s negotiator Eamon de Valera being humiliated by the British PM David Lloyd-George speaking to his secretary in Welsh more fluent than de Valera’s Irish—and a revisionist view of the history of Alt Clud, the “Kingdom of the Rock” in what is now south-eastern Scotland, which was rather much more Welsh than it was Scottish. Closest to home of all are his reflections on the future of the UK, which he suspects is destined to fail as all other states eventually fail—and probably soon.

There are criticisms that could be made of Vanished Kingdoms. Davies arguably makes too much of the Aragonese selling as slaves the Moorish population of Menorca in 1287, which he calls “a milestone in the grim history of European slavery”. But while this was clearly not an edifying event, it was merely one example of a trade that had always existed, and in which the Moors joined with at least equal enthusiasm (the luckless Menorcans were themselves sold in North Africa’s slave markets, which operated until the 19th century).

A few assertions seem over-confident, such as that Moors remained numerically predominant in much of Spain even after the Reconquista—but how can he, or anyone, know this for certain? The concluding chapter on “Why states die” feels curiously cursory after the richness and subtlety of the bulk of the book, just eleven occasionally banal pages that skim far too quickly over the musings of St. Augustine, Hobbes, Rousseau, and more recent theorists of state death. He cites “implosion, conquest, merger, liquidation and ‘infant mortality’” as causes of collapse, but scants over some other threats, such as the gradual loss of a previously unifying culture or population replacement through immigration (for example, a recent Scottish survey suggests that one fifth of Scotland’s population does not regard itself as “Scottish”, which has implications for Scottish independence). There are some small typos and inconsistencies, but it is only fair to note that I worked from an uncorrected proof copy and doubtless most of these were later edited out.

Yet this highly original book is about editing in rather than editing out, and the effect is eminently addictive—revivifying Europe’s unquiet dead to walk and talk again for a time, salvaging their sunken vessels and sending them scudding briefly again across history’s charts, while we their inheritors plot our future course across a sea of troubles.

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jeudi, 02 février 2012

Ilan Pappé, historien postsioniste: juge et vengeur

Ilan Pappé, historien postsioniste: juge et vengeur

Ilan Pappe.jpgLe philosophe juif-allemand Theodor Lessing publiait en 1930 son fameux ouvrage “Der jüdische Selbsthass” (= “La haine de soi chez les Juifs”). Dans ce livre, il nommait le critique Karl Kraus et le désignait comme “l’exemple le plus patent de la haine de soi chez les Juifs” et aussi comme “le vengeur et le juge de notre temps”, dont il “comprenait profondément et sanctionnait” “la voie vers le combat”.

Ce sont là des mots qui attestent d’une admiration certaine, quoique pleine d’amertume, et d’une reconnaissance qui relève du défi: aujourd’hui, mutatis mutandis, ces mêmes paroles peuvent être dites de l’historien et publiciste Ilan Pappé. En effet, peu d’autres intellectuels israéliens provoquent autant la controverse que le fait Pappé. Les uns tiennent cet auteur du livre, aujourd’hui disponible en allemand, “Der Kampf um die akademische Freiheit in Israel” (= “Le combat pour la liberté académique en Israël”), pour un humaniste et un adepte de l’idéal des Lumières qui dévoile au grand jour la vérité, celle qui constate qu’Israël, en dépit de ses dissimulations et de ses maquillages, a bel et bien expulsé les Palestiniens par la violence en 1948-49. Pour d’autres, il est un vilain oiseau qui souille son propre nid, un prédicateur de marché et un idéologue qui n’hésite jamais à détourner la vérité si cela lui permet de jeter le discrédit sur Israël.

Le grand thème des recherches de Pappé est l’expulsion de près de 800.000 Palestiniens en 1948. Cette catastrophe, il la considère comme une “épuration ethnique” dans son ouvrage “The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine” (= “L’épuration ethnique en Palestine”), qui était paru en 2006 et avait aussitôt soulevé et l’admiration et la polémique. En toute conscience, Pappé classe cette “épuration ethnique” de la Palestine dans le voisinage direct de la pratique génocidaire et du crime contre l’humanité. La polémique survient surtout parce que Pappé ne se borne pas à émettre une hypothèse de départ, qu’il confronte ensuite aux faits historiques; non, notre homme pose sa vérité dès le départ: les hommes politiques et les commandants militaires d’Israël, de même que les simples soldats et policiers, ont tous été, sans exception, des assassins et des criminels. Dans les travaux de Pappé tout ce qui est israélien est mauvais et méchant, tout ce qui est palestinien est inoffensif et bon.

Pappé n’a pas toujours eu une position aussi tranchée. Après ses études à Jérusalem et son doctorat à Oxford, cet intellectuel, né en 1954 à Haïfa, s’est fait un nom au sein du groupe dit des “nouveaux historiens”, aréopage regroupant des historiens israéliens qui, avec virulence, mettaient en doute les “mythes créateurs” de leur Etat. Tandis que les cinq autres membres du groupe finissaient tous par considérer que la fondation de l’Etat d’Israël participait d’un acte d’auto-affirmation du peuple juif au Proche Orient, dans un environnement hostile (justifiant plus ou moins l’expulsion par la violence des Arabes), Pappé a été le seul à attribuer à l’Etat hébreu en gestation des intentions malignes et cela, dès le départ.

Il a défendu ses positions de manière offensive et, de plus, veut les traduire dans l’orbe de la politique concrète. C’est la raison qui l’a poussé, en 1999, à se porter candidat aux élections de la Knesset sur les listes du Khadach socialiste. Il n’a pas été élu. Simultanément, il en appelait au boycott d’Israël, ce qui lui a coûté son capital de sympathie puis, en bout de course, ses chaires académiques. Mais ces persécutions ne sont pas venues à bout de l’entêtement de Pappé: il dirige aujourd’hui le “Centre Européen pour les Etudes Palestiniennes” à l’Université d’Exeter en Angleterre.

(article paru dans “Junge Freiheit”, Berlin, n°5/2012; http://www.jungefreiheit.de ).

dimanche, 29 janvier 2012

Il percorso ideologico di Otto Strasser

Il percorso ideologico di Otto Strasser

otto.jpgOtto Strasser nasce il 10 settembre 1897 in una famiglia di funzionari bavaresi. Suo fratello Gregor (che sarà uno dei capi del partito nazista ed un serio concorrente di Hitler) è maggiore di cinque anni. L’uno e l’altro beneficiano di solidi antecedenti familiari: il padre Peter, che si interessa di economia politica e di storia, pubblica sotto lo pseudonimo di Paaul Weger un opuscolo intitolato Das neue Wesen, nel quale si pronuncia per un socialismo cristiano e sociale. Secondo Paul Strasser, fratello di Gregor e Otto, “in questo opuscolo si trova già abbozzato l’insieme del programma culturale e politico di Gregor e Otto, cioè un socialismo cristiano sociale, che è indicato come la soluzione alle contraddizioni e alle mancanze nate dalla malattia liberale, capitalista e internazionale dei nostri tempi.” Quando scoppia la Grande Guerra, Otto Strasser interrompe i suoi studi di diritto e di economia per arruolarsi il 2 agosto 1914 (è il più giovane volontario di Baviera). Il suo brillante comportamento al fronte gli varrà la Croce di Ferro di prima classe e la proposta per l’ Ordine Militare di Max-Joseph. Prima della smobilitazione nell’aprile/maggio 1919, partecipa con il fratello Gregor, nel Corpo Franco von Epp, all’assalto contro la Repubblica sovietica di Baviera. Ritornato alla vita civile Otto riprende i suoi studi a Berlino nel 1919 e fonda la “Associazione universitaria dei veterani socialdemocratici”.

Nel 1920, alla testa di tre “centurie proletarie” resiste nel quartiere operaio berlinese di Steglitz al putsch Kapp (putsch d’estrema destra). Lascia poco dopo la SPD (Partito social-democratico) quando questa rifiuta di rispettare l’accordo di Bielefeld concluso con gli operai della Ruhr (questo accordo prevedeva il non-intervento dell’esercito nella Ruhr, la repressione degli elementi contro-rivoluzionari e l’allontanamento di questi dall’apparato dello Stato, nonché la nazionalizzazione delle grandi imprese), spostandosi dunque a sinistra dell’SPD. Tornato in Baviera, Otto Strasser incontra Hitler e il generale Ludendorff presso il fratello, che lo invita a legarsi al nazionalsocialismo, ma Otto rifiuta. Corrispondente della stampa svizzera e olandese, Otto si occupa, il 12 ottobre 1920, del congresso dell’USPD (Partito social-democratico indipendente) ad Halle, dove incontra Zinovev. Scrive su “Das Gewissen”, la rivista di Moeller van den Bruck e Heinrich von Gleichen, un lungo articolo sul suo incontro con Zinovev. E’ così che fa la conoscenza di Moeller van den Bruck che lo farà avvicinare alle proprie idee. Otto Strasser entrerà poco dopo nel ministero per gli approvvigionamenti, prima di lavorare, a partire dalla primavera del 1923, in un consorzio di alcolici. Tra il 1920 e il 1925 si attua nello spirito di Strasser una lenta maturazione ideologica data da esperienze personali (esperienza del fronte e della guerra civile, incontro con Zinovev e Moeller, esperienza della burocrazia e del capitalismo privato) e di diverse influenze ideologiche. Dopo il mancato putsch del 1923, l’imprigionamento di Hitler e l’interdizione del NSDAP che l’hanno seguito, Gregor Strasser si è ritrovato nel 1924 con il generale Ludendorff e il politico völkisch von Graefe alla testa del ricostituito partito nazista. Appena uscito di prigione Hitler riorganizza il NSDAP (febbraio 1925) e incarica Gregor Strasser della direzione del partito nel Nord della Germania. Otto allora raggiunge il fratello che l’ha chiamato. Otto sarà l’ideologo, Gregor l’organizzatore del nazismo in Germania settentrionale. Nel 1925 è fondato un “Comitato di lavoro dei distretti settentrionali e occidentali tedeschi del NSDAP” sotto la direzione di Gregor Strasser; questi distretti manifestano così la loro volontà d’autonomia (e di democrazia interna) nei confronti di Monaco. Inoltre il NSDAP settentrionale prende un orientamento nettamente gauchiste sotto l’influenza di Otto Strasser e di Jospeh Goebbels che espongono le loro idee in un quindicinale destinato ai quadri del partito, il “National-sozialistische Briefe”. Dall’ottobre 1925 Otto dà al NSDAP del Nord un programma radicale. Hitler reagisce dichiarando inalterabili i venticinque punti del programma nazista del 1920 e concentrando nelle sue mani tutti i poteri decisionali del Partito. Richiama Goebbels nel 1926, convince Gregor Strasser proponendogli il posto di capo della propaganda, poi quello di capo dell’organizzazione del Partito, espelle infine un certo numero di gauchistes (segnatamente i Gauleiter della Slesia, Pomerania e Sassonia). Otto Strasser, isolato e in totale opposizione con la politica sempre più apertamente conservatrice e capitalista di Hitler, si decide finalmente a lasciare il NSDAP il 4 luglio 1930. Fonda subito la KGRNS, “Comunità di lotta nazional-socialista rivoluzionaria”. Ma poco dopo la scissione strasseriana, due avvenimenti portarono alla marginalizzazione della KGRNS: anzitutto la “dichiarazione-programma per la liberazione nazionale e sociale del popolo tedesco” adottata dal Partito Comunista tedesco. Questo programma esercita sugli elementi nazionalisti anti-hitleriani una considerevole attrazione che li distoglierà dallo strasserismo ( peraltro già nell’autunno 1930 una prima crisi “nazional-bolscevica” aveva provocato l’uscita dalla KGRNS verso il Partito Comunista di tre responsabili: Korn, Rehm e Lorf); in seguito, anche il successo elettorale del Partito Nazista alle elezioni legislative del 14 settembre convinse molti naziona-socialisti della fondata validità della strategia hitleriana. La KGRNS è inoltre minata da dissensi interni che oppongono gli elementi più radicali (nazional-bolscevichi) alla direzione più moderata (Otto Strasser, Herbert Blank e il maggiore Buchrucker). Otto Strasser cerca di far uscire la KGRNS dall’isolamento avvicinando nel 1931 le SA del Nord della Germania che, sotto la guida di Walter Stennes, sono entrate in aperta ribellione contro Hitler (ma questo riavvicinamento, condotto sotto gli auspici del capitano Ehrhardt, le cui inclinazioni reazionarie sono conosciute, provoca l’uscita dei nazional-bolscevichi dalla KGRNS). Nell’ottobre 1931 Otto Strasser fonda il “Fronte Nero”, destinato a raggruppare attorno alla KGRNS un certo numero di organizzazioni vicine, quali il gruppo paramilitare “Wehrwolf”, i “Gruppi Oberland”, le ex-SA di Stennes, una parte del Movimento Contadino, il circolo costituito attorno alla rivista “Die Tat” etc. Nel 1933, decimata dalla repressione hitleriana, la KGRNS si sposta in Austria poi, nel 1934, in Cecoslovacchia. In Germania, gruppi strasseriani clandestini sopravvivono fino al 1937, data in cui vengono smantellati e i loro membri imprigionati o deportati (uno di questi, Karl-Ernst Naske, dirige oggi gli “Strasser-Archiv”). Le idee di Otto Strasser traspaiono dai programmi che ha elaborato, gli articoli, i libri e gli opuscoli che i suoi amici e lui stesso hanno scritto. Tra questi testi, i più importanti sono il programma del 1925, destinato a completare il programma del 1920 del Partito Nazista, la proclamazione del 4 luglio 1930 (“I socialisti lasciano il NSDAP”), le “Quattordici tesi della Rivoluzione tedesca”, adottate al primo congresso della KGRNS nell’ottobre 1930, il manifesto del “Fronte Nero” adottato al secondo congresso della KGRNS nell’ottobre 1931, e il libro Costruzione del socialismo tedesco, la cui prima edizione è del 1932. Da questi testi si trae un’ideologia coerente, composta di tre elementi strettamente legati tra loro: il nazionalismo, l’”idealismo völkisch” e il “socialismo tedesco”. 1) Il nazionalismo. Otto Strasser propone la costituzione di uno Stato pan-tedesco (federale e democratico) “da Memel a Strasburgo, da Eupen a Vienna” e la liberazione della nazione tedesca dal Trattato di Versailles e dal Piano Young. Auspica una guerra di liberazione contro l’Occidente (“Salutiamo la Nuova Guerra”), l’alleanza con l’Unione Sovietica ed una solidarietà internazionale anti-imperialista tra tutte le Nazioni oppresse. Otto Strasser se la prende vigorosamente anche con gli ebrei, la Massoneria e L’Ultramontanismo (questa denuncia delle “potenze internazionali” sembra ispirarsi ai violenti pamphlets del gruppo Ludendorff). Ma le posizioni di Otto Strasser si evolvono. Durante il suo esilio in Cecoslovacchia appaiono due nuovi punti: un certo filosemitismo (Otto Strasser propone che sia conferito al popolo ebraico uno statuto protettore delle minoranze nazionali in Europa e sostiene il progetto sionista – Patrick Moreau pensa che questo filosemitismo sia puramente tattico: Strasser cerca l’appoggio delle potenti organizzazioni anti-naziste americane) e un progetto di federalismo europeo che permetterebbe di evitare una nuova guerra. L’anti-occidentalismo e il filo-sovietismo di Strasser sfumano. 2) Al materialismo borghese e marxista Otto Strasser oppone un “idealismo völkisch” a fondamento religioso. Alla base di questo “idealismo völkisch” si trova il Volk concepito come un organismo di origine divina dalle caratteristiche fisiche (razziali), spirituali e mentali. La “Rivoluzione tedesca” deve, secondo Strasser, ri-creare le “forme” appropriate alla natura del popolo nel campo politico o economico così come in quello culturale. Queste forme sarebbero, in campo economico, il feudo (Erblehen); nel campo politico, l’auto-amministrazione del popolo tramite gli “Stande”, cioè degli stati – stato operaio, stato contadino etc – e nel campo “culturale, una religiosità tedesca. Principale espressione dell’ “idealismo völkisch”, un principio d’amore in seno al Volk – riconoscendo ognuno negli altri le proprie caratteristiche razziali e culturali – che deve marcare ogni atto dell’individuo e dello Stato. Questo idealismo völkisch comporta il rifiuto da parte di Otto Strasser dell’idea di lotta di classe in seno al Volk a profitto d’una “rivoluzione popolare” degli operai-contadini senza classi medie (solo una piccola minoranza di oppressori saranno eliminati), la condanna dello scontro politico tra tedeschi: Otto Strasser propone un Fronte unito della base dei partiti estremisti e dei sindacati contro le loro gerarchie e contro il sistema. Questo idealismo völkisch sottintende lo spirito di “socialismo tedesco” decantato da Strasser e ispira il programma socialista strasseriano. Questo programma comporta i seguenti punti: parziale nazionalizzazione delle terre e dei mezzi di produzione, partecipazione operaia, il piano, l’autarchia e il monopolio dello Stato sul commercio esterno. Il “socialismo tedesco” pretende di opporsi al liberalismo come al marxismo. L’opinione di strasser sul marxismo è pertanto sfumata: “Il marxismo non aveva per Strasser alcun carattere “ebraico” specifico come per Hitler, non era l’ “invenzione dell’ebreo Marx”, ma l’elaborazione di un metodo d’analisi delle contraddizioni sociali ed economiche della sua epoca (il periodo del capitalismo selvaggio) messo a punto da un filosofo dotato. Strasser riconosceva al pensiero marxista come all’analisi dell’imperialismo di Lenin, una verità oggettiva certa. Si allontanava dalla Weltanschauung marxista a livello di implicazioni filosofiche ed utopiche. Il marxismo era il prodotto dell’era del liberalismo e testimoniava nel suo metodo analitico e nelle sue stesse strutture una mentalità la cui tradizione liberale risaliva al contratto sociale di Rousseau. L’errore di Marx e dei marxisti-leninisti stava, secondo Strasser, nel fatto che questi credevano di poter spiegare lo sviluppo storico tramite i concetti di rapporto di produzione e di lotta di classe allorquando questi apparivano validi limitatamente al periodo del capitalismo. La dittatura del proletariato, l’internazionalismo, il comunismo utopico non erano più conformi ad una Germania nella quale era cominciato un processo di totale trasformazione delle strutture spirituali, sociali ed economiche, che portava alla sostituzione del capitalismo con il socialismo, della lotta di classe con le comunità di popolo e dell’internazionalismo con il nazionalismo. La teoria economica marxista rimaneva uno strumento necessario alla comprensione della storia. Il marxismo filosofico e il bolscevismo di partito, perdono significato nello stesso momento in cui il liberalismo entra in agonia”. 3) Il “socialismo tedesco” rifiuta il modello proletario così come il modello borghese e propone di conciliare le responsabilità, l’indipendenza e la creatività personali con il sentimento dell’appartenenza comunitaria ad una società di lavoratori di classi medie e, più particolarmente, di contadini. “Strasser, come Junger, sogna un nuovo “Lavoratore”, ma di un tipo particolare, il tipo “contadino”, che sia operaio-contadino, intellettuale-contadino, soldato-contadino, altrettante facce di uno sconvolgimento sociale realizzato con la dislocazione della società industriale, lo smantellamento delle fabbriche, la riduzione delle popolazioni urbane e il trasferimento forzato dei cittadini verso il lavoro rigeneratore della terra. Per rendere in immagini contemporanee la volontà di rottura sociale della tendenza Strasser, si può pensare oggi alla Rivoluzione Culturale cinese o all’azione dei Khmer rossi in Cambogia”. Otto Strasser vuole riorganizzare la società tedesca attorno al tipo contadino. Per fare questo, preconizza la spartizione delle terre, la colonizzazione delle regioni agricole dell’Est poco popolato e la dispersione dei grandi complessi industriali in piccole unità in tutto il paese – nascerebbe così un tipo misto operaio-contadino. Patrick Moreau non esita a qualificare Otto Strasser come “conservatore agrario estremista”. Le conseguenze di questa riorganizzazione della Germania (e della socializzazione dell’economia che deve accompagnarla) sarebbero: una considerevole riduzione della produzione dei beni di consumo per il fatto dell’ “adozione di un modo di vita spartano, in cui il consumo è ridotto alla soddisfazione quasi autarchica, a livello locale, dei bisogni primi”, e “l’istituzione nazionale, poi internazionale, di una sorta di economia di baratto”. Il socialismo tedesco rifiuta infine la burocrazia e il e il capitalismo privato (Strasser conosce i misfatti dei due sistemi) e propone la nazionalizzazione dei mezzi di produzione e della terra che saranno in seguito ri-distribuite a degli imprenditori sotto forma di feudi. Questa soluzione unirebbe, secondo Strasser, i vantaggi del possesso individuale e della proprietà collettiva.

Thierry Mudry


vendredi, 27 janvier 2012

The Legionary Doctrine

The Legionary Doctrine

By Christopher Thorpe

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

gardia10.gifThe Legionary Doctrine (also called Legionarism) refers to the philosophy and beliefs presented by the Legion of Michael the Archangel (also commonly known as the Iron Guard), the Romanian Christian Nationalist organization founded by Corneliu Zelea Codreanu, who is the key figure in the creation of its doctrine. It is necessary to clarify what the members of the Legionary Movement taught and believed due to many misconceptions arising from ignorance and outright deception, as well as the mistaken assumption that the Legionary Movement was largely an imitation of Fascism or National Socialism.


In 1878 and 1879, after Romania had won its independence from the Ottoman Empire, the new nation wanted to be recognized by other European powers. The Romanians could not achieve this without signing the Treaty of Berlin, which forced them to grant citizenship to Jews, a hostile and alien people on Romanian land. Although the treaty was signed, certain significant cultural and political figures in Romanian history spoke out against the Jews in order to warn their nation that the Jews were culturally and economically harmful. These men’s works from 1879 were significant intellectual sources of the Legionary Movement’s Christian nationalism and awareness of the Jewish Problem. The most influential of them were the following:

  • Vasile Conta (1845–1882) – philosopher and politician
  • Vasile Alecsandri (1821–1890) – diplomat and politician
  • Mihail Kogălniceanu (1817–1891) – statesman and historian
  • Mihail Eminescu (1850–1889) – famous poet and journalist
  • Bogdan Petriceicu Hasdeu (1838–1907) – historian and philologist
  • Costache Negri (1812–1876) – politician
  • A. D. Xenopol (1847–1820) – historian and economist

Other intellectuals, who lived in the early 20th century and saw the birth and growth of the Legionary Movement, also educated Codreanu and other Legionaries about the Jewish Problem, national mysticism, Orthodox mysticism, and economic practices. These men were:

  • A. C. Cuza (1857–1947) – politician and professor of law and political economy
  • Nicolae Iorga (1871–1940) – historian, professor of history, and politician
  • Nicolae Paulescu (1869–1931) – physiologist, professor of medicine, and philosopher
  • Ion Gavanescul (1859–1949) – professor of pedagogy
  • Nichifor Crainic (1889–1972) – professor of theology, theologian, and philosopher

To avoid misconceptions, it must be noted that it is not implied here that the precursors of the Legionary Movement agreed with Legionary doctrine on every point. For example, some of them had different political attitudes; the Legion rejected republicanism while precursors such as Eminescu supported the democratic system.

Anti-Semitism and the Jewish Problem

Some people today who follow the Legionary doctrine or admire the Legionaries assert that the Legion was not anti-Semitic but only appeared so because of a Jewish problem in Romania. One of the major reasons for which they object to the term “anti-Semitic” is because of a certain way by which that term is defined by Jews and philo-semites. Such groups define it as an irrational hatred of all Jews, and in that case the Legionaries were not truly anti-Semitic, since their hostility to the Jews was not irrational nor were they enemies with every Jew (it has been pointed out that the Legion had a few Jewish supporters, although it should be remembered that the majority of Jews were enemies of the Legion).

However, in the late 19th century and early 20th century the term anti-Semite was simply defined as one who had hostility towards Jews and opposed their presence in one’s nation. This is how Cuza and other precursors, Corneliu Codreanu, and his successor Horia Sima defined it, and they all had no qualms about calling themselves anti-Semitic. Codreanu freely stated in his major book For My Legionaries about his visit to Germany that “I had many discussions with the students at Berlin in 1922, who are certainly Hitlerites today, and I am proud to have been their teacher in anti-Semitism, exporting to them the truths I learned in Iasi.”

It should be noted, however, that while Codreanu had no problem associating with the German National Socialist movement (although he also correctly insisted that his Legion was entirely independent of National Socialism), Horia Sima objected to any connection between the two after World War II. In his 1967 book Istoria Mişcarii Legionare (History of the Legionary Movement) Sima wrote:

The Legionary Movement, since its first manifestation, was the object of all sorts of slander. One of the most common allegations by its countless internal and external enemies was that the Legion was a “branch of Nazism.” Such statements can be made as a result of ignorance or bad faith. The anti-Semitism of the Legionary Movement has nothing in common with German anti-Semitism. By taking a stand against the Jewish danger, a danger extremely active and menacing in Romania, Corneliu Codreanu was simply continuing an almost century old Romanian tradition.

It should also be emphasized that Legionary hostility to the Jews as an ethnic group was actually rational, based not only on the scientific studies of the Jewish problem by intellectuals such as Cuza, Paulescu, Iorga, Xenopol, et al. but also on real experiences and observations made by many average Romanians. The Jewish problem was a vivid reality. Both intellectual observation as well as common observation showed the people beyond any doubt that the majority of Jews not only lived parasitically off of the labor of Romanian workers by their ownership of many companies or financial activity, but also posed a threat to Romanian culture and tradition, which they were damaging through their influence on mass media and certain government policies.

It is also worth noting that while Codreanu was first and foremost concerned with the Romanian condition, he believed that an alliance between nations needed to be made to solve the Jewish problem internationally. This is made clear by a statement in For My Legionaries:

There, I shared with my comrades an old thought of mine, that of going to Germany to continue my studies in political economy while at the same time trying to realize my intention of carrying our ideas and beliefs abroad. We realized very well, on the basis of our studies, that the Jewish problem had an international character and the reaction therefore should have an international scope; that a total solution of this problem could not be reached except through action by all Christian nations awakened to the consciousness of the Jewish menace.

The solution to the Jewish problem was not to kill the Jews, as many dishonest people accuse Codreanu of wanting, but to expel the Jews from Romania. This plan for deportation is plainly stated in The Nest Leader’s Manual, where he wrote “Romania for Romanians and Palestine for the Jews.”

Economics and Labor: Anti-Communism and Anti-Capitalism

When Codreanu first went to the University of Iasi in 1919, years before he created the Legion, he discovered that most of the city and university were heavily influenced by Communist political campaigns. The Romanian workers were experiencing terrible working conditions and had very low wages, so they had been drawn to Communism by Marxist propagandists. Professors and students at the University were also largely converted to Communism, and Communist student meetings attacked the Romanian army, the Orthodox Church, the monarchy, and other aspects of traditional Romanian life. It was this situation that drove Codreanu into a heroic fight against Communism, finally leading a conservative group to completely crushing the Communist movement. Codreanu, being a traditionalist, insisted on defending faith in God, nationalism, the Crown, and private property.

On the other hand, Codreanu also believed in fighting the Capitalist system, which he realized was an inherently exploitive system, which allowed corporations to exploit millions of workers. In 1919, when forming the program of “National Christian Socialism,” he stated that “It is not enough to defeat Communism. We must also fight for the rights of the workers. They have a right to bread and a fight to honor. We must fight against the oligarchic parties, creating national workers organizations which can gain their rights within the framework of the state and not against the state.”

Later in 1935 he announced the creation of a new system which he hoped would be adopted by the nation as a whole once the Legionary Movement took power: “Legionary commerce signifies a new phase in the history of commerce which has been stained by the Jewish spirit. It is called: Christian commerce — based on the love of people and not on robbing them; commerce based on honor.” Essentially Codreanu was a Third Position socialist, supporting private property but at the same time opposing the materialistic and money-centered system of capitalism. Another important point of Codreanu’s ideas for Romania is that labor is something in which everyone must be involved in. Laziness was a trait that should be treated as a highly negative vice. All Legionaries in some way did some kind of physical work, often to help lower class Romanians in their own labor and problems. Codreanu wrote: “The law of work: Work! Work every day. Put your heart into it. Let your reward be, not gain, but the satisfaction that you have laid another brick to the building of the Legion and the flourishing of Romania.”

One issue which has often been brought up against Codreanu is the fact that he associates both Capitalism and Communism with the Jews, as both of them were dominated by Jews in Romania. He wrote, connecting Jewish Capitalists and Jewish Communists, “But industrial workers were vertiginously sliding toward Communism, being systematically fed the cult of these ideas by the Jewish press, and generally by the entire Jewry of the cities. Every Jew, merchant, intellectual, or banker-capitalist, in his radius of activity, was an agent of these anti-Romanian revolutionary ideas.” Some of his opponents have objected to this connection by arguing that it is ridiculous to say that Jewish company owners and bankers would support Communists, who supposedly would destroy them upon a revolution, since they would want to eliminate the capitalists. But it should be remembered that not all of the bourgeoisie were exterminated in Communist revolutions across Europe. Sometimes, members of the bourgeoisie who supported Communism before a revolution, who were oftentimes Jews, would be given a place in the Communist system once the revolution was achieved.

Nation and Land

The Legionaries believed that nations were not merely products of history and geography, but were created by God Himself and had a spiritual component to them. Codreanu wrote in For My Legionaries, adopting the teachings of Nichifor Crainic:

If Christian mysticism and its goal, ecstasy, is the contact of man with god through a “leap from human nature to divine nature,” national mysticism is nothing other than the contact of man and crowds with the soul of their people through the leap which these forces make from the world of personal and material interests into the outer world of nation. Not through the mind, since this any historian can do, but by living with their soul.

A nation was also inseparable from the land on which it developed, to which the people grew a spiritual connection with over time. Codreanu wrote of the Romanian people:

We were born in the mist of time on this land together with the oaks and fir trees. We are bound to it not only by the bread and existence it furnishes us as we toil on it, but also by all the bones of our ancestors who sleep in its ground. All our parents are here. All our memories, all our war-like glory, all our history here, in this land lies buried. . . . Here . . . sleep the Romanians fallen there in battles, nobles and peasants, as numerous as the leaves and blades of grass . . . everywhere Romanian blood flowed like rivers. In the middle of the night, in difficult times for our people, we hear the call of the Romanian soil urging us to battle. . . . We are bound to this land by millions of tombs and millions of unseen threads that only our soul feels . . .

Finally, it must be noted that Codreanu also believed that every nation has a mission to fulfill in the world and therefore that only the nations which betray their mission, given to them by God, will disappear from the earth. “To us Romanians, to our people, as to any other people in the world, God has given a mission, a historic destiny,” wrote Codreanu, “The first law that a person must follow is that of going on the path of this destiny, accomplishing its entrusted mission. Our people has never laid down its arms or deserted its mission, no matter how difficult or lengthy was its Golgotha Way.” The aim of a nation, or its destiny in the world of spirit, was that it does not simply live in the world but that it aims for resurrection through the teachings of Christ. “There will come a time when all the peoples of the earth shall be resurrected, with all their dead and all their kings and emperors, each people having its place before God’s throne. This final moment . . . is the noblest and most sublime one toward which a people can rise.” It was for this ideal that the Legion fought tirelessly against all obstacles, corrupt politicians, and alien peoples such as the Jews which insisted on feeding off the Romanian people and land.

Religion and Culture

One aim of the Legionary Movement was the preservation and regeneration of Romanian culture and customs. They knew that culture was the expression of national genius, its products the unique creations of the members of a specific nation. Culture could have international influence, but it was always national in origin. Therefore, the Liberal-Capitalist position that different ethnic groups should be allowed to freely move into another group’s nation, interfering with that nation’s culture and development by their presence and influence, was incredibly wrong. Each ethnic group has its own soul and produces and crystallizes its own form and style of culture. For example, a Romanian cultural image could not be created from German essence any more than a German cultural image could be created from Romanian essence.

Furthermore, religion was an important aspect in a people’s culture, oftentimes the origin of many customs and traditions. The Legionaries believed that Christianity was not only a significant part of their culture, but also that it was the religion which represented divine truth. This is why in order to join the Legion of Michael the Archangel one had to be a Christian and could not be of another religion or an atheist. With these principles clear, the Legion therefore aimed for a Romanian nation made up of only ethnic Romanians and only Christians.

With this in mind, it becomes clear why Codreanu and many other Romanians felt that the Jewish presence in their nation was so threatening. The Jews became influential in economics, finance, newspapers, cinema, and even politics. Through this they even became powerful in the field of culture, slowly changing Romanian customs and Romanian thinking, making it more related to that of the Jews. Codreanu, as concerned about the problem as people such as Cuza and Gavanescul, commented:

Is it not frightening, that we, the Romanian people, no longer can produce fruit? That we do not have a Romanian culture of our own, of our people, of our blood, to shine in the world side by side with that of other peoples? That we be condemned today to present ourselves before the world with products of Jewish essence?” and “Not only will the Jews be incapable of creating Romanian culture, but they will falsify the one we have in order to serve it to us poisoned.


The reality of race was accepted by most Legionaries, and Codreanu wrote of the importance of keeping a nation racially cohesive. In For My Legionaries, Codreanu quoted Conta’s racial separatist arguments, which formed the basis of his own attitudes on race, and even compared them to the German National Socialist view. He wrote: “Consider the attitude our great Vasile Conta held in the Chamber in 1879. Fifty years earlier the Romanian philosopher demonstrated with unshakeable scientific arguments, framed in a system of impeccable logic, the soundness of racial truths that must lie at the foundation of the national state; a theory adopted fifty years later by the same Berlin which had imposed on us the granting of civil rights to the Jews in 1879.”

However, it should be noted that at least a few Legionaries did not agree that race was important. Ion Mota, in 1935 when he met with the NSDAP in Germany, criticized the National Socialists by telling them that “Racism is the most vulgar form of materialism. Peoples are not different by flesh, blood or color of skin. They are different by their spirit, i.e. by their creations, culture and religion.” Of course, Mota’s attitude is unlikely to have been dominant among the Legion, since Codreanu was the founder of the ideas the majority of its members shared. It is also notable that Horia Sima, in his works on Legionary beliefs, agreed with Codreanu that race is real and important. However, Sima disagreed with connecting Romanian racial views with German racialism, censuring the followers of Hitler by asserting that their worldview misused racialism, making it too absolute and materialistic.

The New Man

The Legionary Movement aimed to create a New Man (Omul Nou), to transform the entire nation through Legionary education by transforming each individual into a person of quality. The New Man would be more honest and moral, more intelligent, industrious, courageous, willing to sacrifice, and completely free of materialism. His view of the world would be centered around spirituality, service to his nation, and love of his fellow countrymen. This new and improved form of human being would transform history, setting the foundations of a new era never before seen in Romanian history.

Codreanu wrote:

We shall create an atmosphere, a moral medium in which the heroic man can be born and can grow. This medium must be isolated from the rest of the world by the highest possible spiritual fortifications. It must be defended from all the dangerous winds of cowardice, corruption, licentiousness, and of all the passions which entomb nations and murder individuals. Once the Legionary will have developed in such a milieu . . . he shall be sent into the world. . . . He will be an example; will turn others into Legionaries. And people, in search of better days, will follow him . . . will make a force which will fight and will win.

Therefore, a spiritual revolution would create the basis for a political revolution, since without the New Man no political program could achieve any lasting accomplishment.


Romania ’s government was that of a constitutional monarchy, thus the nation’s government was considered a democracy. Corneliu Codreanu was a member of the Romanian parliament two times, and his experiences with democratic politics led him to firmly conclude that the democratic system, although claiming to represent the will of the people, rarely ever achieved its goal of representation. In fact, he felt that it did just the opposite. In For My Legionaries, he listed out some major objections he had to the system and the way it worked (the following is a paraphrase of his points):

  • Democracy destroys the unity of the people since it creates factionalism.
  • Democracy turns millions of Jews (and other alien groups) into Romanian citizens, thus carelessly destroying the ancient ethnic make-up of a nation.
  • Democracy is incapable of enduring effort and responsibility because by design it inherently leads to an unending change in leadership over short period of time. A leader or party works to improve the nation with a specific plan, but only rules for a few years before being replaced by a new one with a new plan, who largely if not completely disregard the old one. Thus little is achieved and the nation is harmed.
  • Democracy lacks authority since it does not give a leader the power he needs to accomplish his duties to the nation and turns him into a slave of his selfish political supporters.
  • Democracy is manipulated by financiers and bankers, since most parties are dependent on their funding and are thus influenced by them.
  • Democracy does not guarantee the election of virtuous leaders, since the majority of politicians are either demagogues or corrupt, and the masses of common people usually are not capable or knowledgeable enough to elect good men. Codreanu rhetorically remarked about the idea of the masses choosing its elite, “Why then do soldiers not choose the best general?”

Therefore, Codreanu aimed for a new form of government, rejecting both republicanism and dictatorship. In this new system the leaders would not inherit power through heredity, nor would they be elected as in a republic, but rather they would be selected. Thus, selection and not election is the method of choosing a new elite. Natural leaders, demonstrating bravery and skill, would rise up through Legionary ranks, and the old elite would be responsible for choosing the new elite. The concept of the New Man is important to Codreanu’s system of leadership, because only by the establishment of the New Man would the right leaders rise and become the leaders of the nation. The elite would be founded on the principles Codreanu himself laid out: “a) Purity of soul. b) Capacity of work and creativity. c) Bravery. d) Tough living and permanent warring against difficulties facing the nation. e) Poverty, namely voluntary renunciation of amassing a fortune. f) Faith in God. g) Love.”

This new system of government which Codreanu aimed to establish would be authoritarian, but it would not be totalitarian. He described it in this way: “He (the leader) does not do what he wants, he does what he has to do. And he is guided, not by individual interests, nor by collective ones, but instead by the interests of the eternal nation, to the consciousness of which the people have attained. In the framework of these interests and only in their framework, personal interests as well as collective ones find the highest degree of normal satisfaction.”

An important point in the Legionary political system is that the Legion recognized three entities: “1) The individual. 2) The present national collectivity, that is, the totality of all the individuals of the same nation, living in a state at a given moment. 3) The nation, that historical entity whose life extends over centuries, its roots imbedded deep in the mists of time, and with an infinite future.”

Each of these entities had their own rights in a hierarchical sense. Republicanism recognized only the rights of the individual, but the Legionary Movement recognized the rights of all three. The nation was the most important entity, and thus the rights of the national collectivity were subordinate to it, and finally the rights of the individual were subordinate to the rights of the national collectivity. The destructive individualism of “democracy” infringed on the rights of the national collectivity and the rights of the nation, since it ignored the rights of those two entities and placed that of the individual above all.

With these facts in mind, it becomes clear that to accuse the Legionary Movement of wishing to establish a tyrannical dictatorship or of being “Fascist” is nothing more than mindless or deceitful propaganda against the movement.


“The Legionary embraces death,” wrote Codreanu, “for his blood will serve to mold the cement of Legionary Romania.” Throughout the struggles and intense persecutions it faced, the Legionary Movement produced many martyrs, two of the most often referenced being Ion Mota and Vasile Marin, who died in 1937 helping Franco fight against Marxist Republicans in the Spanish Civil War. Other martyrs of the Legion include Sterie Ciumetti, Nicoleta Nicolescu, Lucia Grecu, and Victor Dragomirescu among hundreds of others. Finally, in 1938, Corneliu Codreanu himself became a martyr after Armand Calinescu, acting outside of the law, had him murdered. Martyrs were often honored in songs all Legionaries sang and in Legionary rituals, when their names were announced in the roll call, all Legionaries attending spoke “present!” They believed that the souls of Romanian dead would still be present with them in their battles.


Along with martyrdom, in which death was received, there was an occasional violence committed by Legionaries against their enemies. Codreanu originally intended that the Legionary Movement would be nonviolent, but the unusually ruthless and cruel manner in which their enemies treated them created conditions in which violence was inevitable. When their political opponents physically attacked them, the Legionaries often struck back. In certain select cases, certain top enemies of the Legion were assassinated. There are three most prominent examples:

  • In 1933, the government of I. G. Duca had banned the Legion to keep it from participating in elections, arrested 18,000 Legionaries, and tortured and murdered several others. On December 29–30 of that year, the Legionaries Nicolae Constantinescu, Doro Belimace, and Ion Caranica (who are often referred to as the Nicadori) assassinated Duca in revenge.
  • In 1934, Mihail Stelescu, a member of the Legion, was investigated by top Legionaries and discovered to have had planned to betray the Legion and create his own group and was therefore expelled. Stelescu then created the group in 1935, calling it Cruciada Romanismuliu (“The Crusade of Romanianism”), and slandered Codreanu in its newspaper. There is also evidence that Stelescu was plotting to assassinate Codreanu and that, after contacting top political figures, he received government support for this plan. In this situation, ten Legionaries later called the Decemviri (“The Ten Men”) shot him.
  • In November of 1938, Armand Calinescu had the military police illegally murder Codreanu (who was earlier that year imprisoned for ten years for unproven charges at unfair trials), the Nicadori, and the Decemviri. On September 21, 1939 nine Legionaries referred to as the Rasbunatorii (“The Avengers”) assassinated Calinescu. After they turned themselves in, they were tortured and executed without trial. These nine men were: Miti Dumitrescu, Cezar Popescu, Traian Popescu, Nelu Moldoveanu, Ion Ionescu, Ion Vasiliu, Marin Stanciulescu, Isaia Ovidiu, and Gheorghe Paraschivescu.

One may object to such actions on the part of the Legionaries, asserting that they are thus taking part in un-Christian actions. However, to correctly understand this, one must remember that throughout the history of Christianity there were many people who had committed violent acts or killed for the sake of their religion. Certain crusader knights who had killed huge numbers of people were even sainted. Clearly it is nothing new for Christian zealots to engage in combat against their enemies. Some would argue that because Christ taught people to “love their enemies” that therefore Codreanu was openly violating Christian teaching. But it is not quite so clear.

It should be remembered that in the original Greek and Latin the phrase “love your enemies” (Matthew 5:44; Luke 6:27) referred specifically to private enemy, not public enemy or national enemy (who could therefore be hated). This is why Codreanu said to the Legionaries:

Forgive those who struck you for personal reasons. Those who have tortured you for your faith in the Romanian people, you will not forgive. Do not confuse the Christian right and duty of forgiving those who wronged you, with the right and duty of our people to punish those who have betrayed it and assumed for themselves the responsibility to oppose its destiny. Do not forget that the swords you have put on belong to the nation. You carry them in her name. In her name you will use them for punishment-unforgiving and unmerciful. Thus and only thus, will you be preparing a healthy future for this nation.

These are the facts which need to be remembered in order to properly understand why Codreanu and the Legionaries did what they did. Otherwise, a proper historical study cannot be done.


Corneliu Zelea Codreanu, For My Legionaries, third edition, translated and edited by Dr. Dimitrie Gazdaru (York, S.C., USA: Liberty Bell Publications, 2003).

Corneliu Zelea Codreanu, The Nest Leader’s Manual (USA: CZC Books, 2005).

Corneliu Zelea Codreanu, The Prison Notes (USA: Reconquista Press, 2011).

Radu Mihai Crisan, Eminescu Interzis: Gândirea Politică (Forbidden Eminescu: Political Thought) (Bucharest: Criterion Publishing, 2008).

Radu Mihai Crisan, Istoria Interzisă (Forbidden History) (Bucharest: Editura Tibo, 2008).

Alexander E. Ronnett and Faust Bradescu, “The Legionary Movement in Romania,” The Journal of Historical Review, vol. 7, no. 2, pp. 193–228.

Alexander E. Ronnett, Romanian Nationalism: The Legionary Movement (Chicago: Romanian-American National Congress, 1995).

Horia Sima, Doctrina legionară (Legionary Doctrine) (Madrid: Editura Mişcării Legionare, 1980).

Horia Sima, Era Libertaţii – Statul naţional-Legionar, vol. 1 (It was Freedom – National Legionary State, vol. 1) (Madrid: Editura “Miscarii Legionare, 1982).

Horia Sima, Era Libertaţii – Statul naţional-Legionar, vol. 2 (It was Freedom – National Legionary State, vol. 2) (Madrid: Editura Miscãrii Legionare, 1990).

Horia Sima, Istoria Mişcarii Legionare (History of the Legionary Movement) (Timişoara: Editura Gordian, 1994).

Horia Sima, Guvernul National Român de la Viena (Romanian National Government in Vienna) (Madrid: Editura Miscarii Legionare, 1993).

Horia Sima, The History of the Legionary Movement (Liss, England: Legionary Press, 1995).

Horia Sima, Menirea Nationalismului (The Meaning of Nationalism) (Salamanca: Editura Asociaţiei Culturale Hispano-Române, 1951).

Horia Sima, Prizonieri ai Puterilor Axei (Prisoners of the Axis Powers) (Madrid: Editura Miscarii Legionare, 1990).

Horia Sima, Sfârşitul unei domnii sângeroase (The End of a Bloody Reign) (Madrid: Editura Miscarii Legionare, 1977).

Horia Sima, The History of the Legionary Movement (Liss, England: Legionary Press, 1995).

Carl Schmitt, The Concept of the Political (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007).

Michael Sturdza, The Suicide of Europe: Memoirs of Prince Michael Sturdza, Former Foreign Minister of Rumania (Boston & Los Angeles: Western Islands Publishers, 1968).


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mardi, 24 janvier 2012

Survol de la Syrie et des Alaouites

Survol historique de la Syrie et des Alaouites

Ex: http://mediabenews.wordpress.com/


La prise du pouvoir par les Alaouites en Syrie marque une rupture profonde avec le passé et l’histoire. Depuis des siècles, l’aire syrienne a été gouvernée, en général depuis Damas, par une bourgeoisie commerçante musulmane sunnite des plus orthodoxes, soumise à l’Empire Ottoman, qui a su par la suite composer, non sans diverses manoeuvres, avec la puissance mandataire avant de profiter de la confusion européenne pour échapper à son emprise et tenter, de façon un peu brouillonne, plusieurs formules de partage oligarchique du pouvoir. Quoi qu’il en soit, Damas demeurait, avec Le Caire, l’un des deux grands pôles de la pensée orthodoxe arabe et musulmane. Quant aux minorités religieuses ou ethniques, Chrétiens, Druzes, Alaouites, Juifs, Kurdes, Arméniens, bien que proportionnellement les plus importantes [1] de la région, ou peut être à cause de cela, elles étaient soigneusement tenues dans un état de marginalité politique et sociale, éloignées géographiquement ou institutionnellement des centres et instruments de pouvoir.

L’erreur fondamentale de la bourgeoisie affairiste et conservatrice sunnite de Syrie est sans doute d’avoir cru que son monopole économique et financier lui garantissait sans risque le contrôle permanent d’un appareil d’État plus conçu comme un lieu d’arbitrage et de représentation que comme un réel instrument de pouvoir. L’appareil de contrainte de l’État, Armée, Police, Administration fiscale ou douanière, avait toujours été dans des mains étrangères et l’on avait bien su s’en accommoder. De fait, il n’était nullement perçu comme un instrument valorisant, facteur de promotion et de contrôle sérieux de la société civile. Les minorités ont su profiter de cette lacune politique et culturelle et, au premier rang d’entre elles, les Alaouites. Hérétiques de l’Islam, méprisés, persécutés, démunis, relégués dans leurs montagnes peu hospitalières surplombant la Méditerranée entre les frontières libanaise et turque, désignés à la vindicte depuis la fatwa d’Ibn Taymiya (1268-1328)[2], les Alaouites ne paraissaient pas les mieux placés pour se lancer à la conquête de l’État syrien. En fait ils n’ont pas eu les hésitations des Chrétiens syriens, en majorité orthodoxes, qui ne bénéficient pas comme les Maronites du Liban d’une solution de repli territorial en cas d’échec. Contrairement aux Druzes, qui sont restés fidèles à leur tradition séculaire de ne jamais se mettre en avant pour ne pas désigner la communauté aux coups, les Alaouites, malgré leur passé et leur passif, ont entrepris de profiter d’une conjoncture favorable qui laissait le pouvoir en partie vacant à l’intérieur du pays et qui, au début des années 50, relativisait le poids de l’Islam dans le monde arabe en faveur d’idéologies peu connotées sur le plan religieux (nationalisme, marxisme).

Depuis le coup d’État du 8 mars 1963, la minorité alaouite de Syrie s’est donc progressivement assuré, sous la conduite de l’un des plus discrets mais des plus déterminés de ses membres, le général Hafez el-Assad, un contrôle étroit du pouvoir, de l’appareil civil et militaire de l’État et aussi des ressources économiques et financières du pays. Cette emprise à la fois communautaire et minoritaire n’est ni revendiquée ni même avouée. Elle s’exerce derrière le paravent, parfois avec l’alibi, d’une organisation centralisée et autoritaire mais qui se proclame résolument égalitariste, moderne et progressiste. En fait, elle met en jeu, tant en Syrie même que dans son contexte régional, les ressorts complexes de stratégies et de tactiques communautaires, tribales, claniques et familiales où dominent les rapports d’obligations interpersonnelles. L’édification de ces rapports, ainsi que la sanction de leur respect ou de leur violation, détermine et rythme depuis trente ans la vie publique intérieure mais aussi la politique extérieure de la Syrie qui y gagnent en cohérence et en détermination ce qu’elles y perdent en termes d’ouverture et d’image. Il reste à savoir si cette longue marche au pouvoir de Hafez el-Assad peut conduire à l’intégration de la communauté alaouite dans le pays et dans le siècle, ou si elle porte les germes de sa dissolution et de sa destruction. Car en sortant de son isolement géographique et social pour assumer le pouvoir d’État, la communauté perd ses repères internes, gomme ses différenciations, confrontée au double besoin de faire bloc pour s’imposer à un environnement hostile et de conclure avec cet environnement des alliances permettant de rentabiliser le présent et garantir l’avenir. Elle est bouleversée en son sein par les démarches de légitimation d’élites nouvelles, dynamiques et conquérantes, bousculant les cadres traditionnels qui puisaient leur pouvoir dans une capacité à gérer des réseaux de soumission et de transaction avec un extérieur dominateur. À mesure que s’affermit, s’étend, mais aussi se disperse le pouvoir alaouite sur l’ensemble du pays, la segmentation tribale de la communauté, fondée sur un état donné d’occupation physique d’un terrain précis, s’estompe au profit d’une segmentation en clans, voire en familles, dont les réseaux de solidarités et d’alliances dépassent les limites traditionnelles internes et externes de la communauté dans un contexte d’accès au pouvoir d’État et aux rentes économiques et politiques qui y sont liées [3]. Au terme d’une histoire presque millénaire d’isolement, de soumission et de discrétion, les Alaouites sont entrés dans le siècle, mais à quel prix pour leur identité et leur devenir ?


Dès le paléolithique et le néolithique, des groupes humains peuplèrent cette région. Dans la vallée de l’Euphrate, formant avec celle du Tigre la Mésopotamie, apparurent l’agriculture, puis les premières villes, les premiers royaumes, ainsi que l’écriture cunéiforme et l’alphabet.

Syrie - Maaloula : abris-sous-roche ou habitations préhistoriques sous un surplomb rocheux.

La Syrie de l’Antiquité

Du fait qu’elle était un lieu de passage entre l’Égypte et la Mésopotamie, la Syrie fut livrée très tôt aux invasions des grandes puissances commerciales du monde de l’époque.  Soumise à la domination des Sumériens, puis des Akkadiens, la région passa, à la fin du IIIemillénaire, sous l’influence des Amorites, un peuple sémite nomade. Au XIXe siècle avant notre ère, les Amorides fondèrent la première dynastie de Babylone. Hammourabi, roi de Babylone, étendit sa domination sur toute la région au siècle suivant.

À partir du XVIe siècle, l’Égypte des pharaons (la XVIIIe dynastie) prit le contrôle de la Syrie méridionale, tandis qu’au nord s’établirent les Hittites. Au carrefour commercial entre la Méditerranée et l’Asie, la région prospéra grâce à l’activité des marchands phéniciens qui fondèrent de nombreux ports (Tyr, Byblos, Sidon au Liban, Ougarit en Syrie).

L’équilibre fut rompu par l’arrivée des «Peuples de la mer» qui déferlèrent au XIIIe siècle avant notre ère et dévastèrent le littoral. Alors que les Araméens établissaient de petites principautés de la vallée de l’Oronte à celle de l’Euphrate, le royaume d’Israël étendit sa domination sur la région aux Xe et IXe siècles, en créant des liens de vassalité avec les Araméens. Le royaume de Damas fut fondé vers 1000 avant notre ère. Nabuchodonosor II, illustre représentant de la Xe dynastie de Babylone qui s’établit sur les restes de la puissance assyrienne, étendit son pouvoir jusqu’à Jérusalem; maître de l’Orient, il fit de sa langue, l’araméen, l’idiome de tous les peuples sous sa domination.

En 539, Cyrus le Grand, accueilli en libérateur par les peuples sous le joug babylonien, dévasta l’empire chaldéen. La Syrie passa sous domination perse et fut administrée par les satrapes des Grands Rois pendant les deux siècles qui suivirent. Alexandre le Grand l’annexa ensuite à son empire en 333-332 avant notre ère. Sous influence hellénistique, la Syrie échut après la mort du conquérant à Séleucos Ier Nikator, l’un de ses généraux. Une partie de la Syrie s’hellénisa au cours des siècles suivants, car le grec s’est imposé dans la région.

Par la suite, le royaume de Syrie fut envahi par les Romains de Pompée venus en Orient vaincre les Parthes; le royaume devint une province romaine en 64 avant notre ère. Mais la Syrie demeura quand même hellénisée sous la domination romaine, à tel point qu’elle devint l’une des principales provinces de l’Empire. Toutefois, après la fragmentation de l’Empire romain en 395 de notre ère, la Syrie fut intégrée à l’Empire byzantin. Elle connut une période de prospérité économique et de stabilité politique, troublée par les querelles religieuses qui déchirèrent l’Église d’Antioche. À partir de 611, les Perses tentèrent de mettre à profit les troubles religieux pour rétablir leur domination sur la région. Les Byzantins les chassèrent définitivement en 623, pour faire face à une nouvelle menace, celle de l’islam.

La Syrie arabe

Dès le IVe siècle avant notre ère, des tribus arabes venues du sud de l’Arabie s’étaient établies en Syrie. Affaiblis par les luttes qui les opposaient, Byzantins et Perses ne purent résister à l’expansion arabo-musulmane. La victoire du Yarmouk (636) sur les troupes d’Héraclius Ier permit aux Arabes de s’assurer le contrôle de la Syrie, qui s’islamisa et s’arabisa. La dynastie omeyyade (661-750), fondée par Moawiyya, exerça son rayonnement depuis Damas, la capitale. La marine du calife s’empara des îles de la Méditerranée orientale (Chypre, Crète, Rhodes), tandis que les troupes terrestres virent camper sous les murs de Constantinople. L’administration fut réorganisée, les sciences se développèrent, les mosquées et les palais se multiplièrent. Pourtant, les Omeyyades tombèrent sous les coups des Abbassides, qui firent de Bagdad la capitale de leur nouvel empire (750-1258), dont la Syrie devint une simple province. Le pays connut ensuite une période troublée lorsque l’empire commença à se démembrer.

Aux Xe et XIe siècles, le désordre qui régnait dans le pays, divisé entre des dynasties arabes et turques rivales, favorisa l’établissement des croisés occidentaux qui, après la prise d’Antioche (1098) et de Jérusalem (1099), occupèrent le littoral et le nord de l’actuelle Syrie. Les croisés édifièrent une série de châteaux forts tournés vers la mer. En 1173, Saladin, fondateur du sultanat ayyubide, mena la lutte des musulmans contre les croisés et unifia l’intérieur de la Syrie. Affaibli par la guerre opposant croisés et musulmans, le pays subit au XIIIe siècle l’invasion destructrice des Mongols. Les mamelouks, dynastie d’esclaves qui s’était imposée en Égypte, stoppèrent leur avance, expulsèrent les croisés en 1291 et dominèrent la Syrie jusqu’en 1516.

En réalité, la multiplicité des invasions étrangères s’est traduite dans le domaine religieux. Ainsi, si 90 % de la population est devenue musulmane, 10 % de celle-ci est restée chrétienne, avec le maintien de minorités chiite, druze, ismaélienne et surtout alaouite.

La Syrie ottomane

Après avoir pris Constantinople, les Ottomans vainquirent les mamelouks en 1516, annexèrent la Syrie à leur nouvel empire et divisèrent celle-ci en trois, puis en quatre pachaliks ou provinces (Damas, Tripoli, Alep et Saïda). La Syrie ottomane fut gérée au nom du sultan par des gouverneurs nommés pour un an. Cependant, la domination turque se fit principalement sentir dans les villes, les émirs locaux exerçant partout ailleurs leur propre pouvoir.

Durant quatre siècles, la Syrie redevint un carrefour commercial important et développa des relations avec le monde occidental. Puis l’affaiblissement graduel de la puissance ottomane attisa les ambitions territoriales, tantôt du premier consul Bonaparte en 1799, tantôt par les troupes du vice-roi d’Égypte Méhémet Ali en 1831. En 1860, Napoléon II intervint en Syrie afin de favoriser les chrétiens.

Puis ce fut le tour des Britanniques. Ayant gagné l’appui des Arabes syriens, les Anglais promirent l’indépendance du pays en cas de victoire sur l’Empire ottoman. Cependant, le 16 mai 1916, la Grande-Bretagne et la France conclurent des accords secrets, les accords Sykes-Picot, par lesquels les deux puissances se partageaient les terres arabes sous domination ottomane. Cet accord résulte d’un long échange de lettres entre Paul Cambon, ambassadeur de France à Londres, et sir Edward Grey, secrétaire d’État au Foreign Office; par la suite, un accord ultra-secret fut conclu à Downing Street entre sir Mark Sykes pour la Grande-Bretagne et François Georges-Picot pour la France. Cet accord équivalait à un véritable dépeçage de l’espace compris entre la mer Noire, la Méditerranée, la mer Rouge, l’océan Indien et la mer Caspienne. La région fut découpée de la façon suivante:

1) Une zone bleue française, d’administration directe (Liban et Cicilie);
2) Une zone arabe A, d’influence française (Syrie du Nord et province de Mossoul);
3) Une zone rouge anglaise, d’administration directe (Koweït et Mésopotamie);
4) Une zone arabe B, d’influence anglaise, (Syrie du Sud, Jordanie et Palestine);
5) Une zone brune, d’administration internationale comprenant Saint-Jean-d’Acre, Haiffa et Jérusalem.

Bref, la Syrie et le Liban actuels revirent à la France, l’Irak et la Palestine furent attribuées au Royaume-Uni.

Le mandat français (1920-1941)

Les Britanniques et les Arabes participèrent à la prise de Damas en 1918. L’année suivante, les forces britanniques se retirèrent de la zone d’influence revenant à la France, cédant le contrôle aux troupes françaises. En 1920, la Société des Nations (SDN) confia à la France un mandat sur la Syrie et le Liban, lesquels devaient rapidement aboutir, du moins en théorie, à l’indépendance des deux territoires. Toutefois, les nationalistes syriens, organisés depuis la fin du XIXe siècle, espéraient la création d’une Syrie indépendante, incluant la Palestine et le Liban. En mars 1920, le Congrès national syrien (élu en 1919) refusa le mandat français et proclama unilatéralement l’indépendance du pays. Celui-ci devint une monarchie constitutionnelle dirigée par le fils de Hussein, le prince Fayçal.

Néanmoins, en avril 1920, la conférence de San Remo confirma les accords Sykes-Picot, qui légitimaient l’intervention militaire française: les troupes du général Gouraud entrèrent à Damas en juillet. Fayçal, contraint à l’exil, trouva alors refuge en Irak, où il sera couronné en 1921. Ce fut alors l’effondrement du «grand projet arabe» de rassembler autour de Damas les terres arabes autrefois placées sous contrôle ottoman. Alors qu’elle avait été hostile envers les Turcs, la population syrienne développa rapidement un sentiment antifrançais.

Le Mandat français sur la Syrie fut organisé en un «Grand Liban» composé de quatre provinces: l’État de Damas, l’État d’Alep, l’État des Alaouites (1920) et l’État du Djebel druze (1921), auxquels s’ajouta, en mars 1923, le sandjak d’Alexandrette (au nord) détaché d’Alep et peuplé d’une minorité turque. La même année, le général Gouraud créa la Fédération syrienne, qui regroupait Damas, Alep et l’État alaouite, sans le Djebel druze, ni Alexandrette. En 1924, l’État alaouite en fut également séparé. De 1925 à 1927, le Djebel druze entra en état d’insurrection, dirigée par le sultan Pacha-El-Atrache. Le général Sarrail y fut chargé de rétablir l’ordre français. En 1926, le «Grand Liban» devint la République libanaise.

La frontière syro-libanaise fut tracée par les Français, protecteurs traditionnels des chrétiens dans la région, afin de satisfaire les ambitions des maronites à la création d’un «plus grand Liban». La Syrie ne reconnut jamais ce tracé. Sachant proche l’indépendance du mandat français du Levant, la Turquie fit savoir, dès 1936, qu’elle se refusait à ce que la population minoritaire turque du Sandjak d’Alexandrette puisse passer sous l’autorité syrienne indépendante. Paris, soucieux de ne pas contrarier un État dont la position revêtait une grande importance stratégique quant à la défense des intérêts français au Levant, accéda à la demande d’Ankara, et le Sandjak d’Alexandrette (ou république du Hatay) passa sous souveraineté turque le 23 juin 1939, sous le nom de «province du Hatay», au grand dam des nationalistes syriens.

Malgré son hostilité à l’égard de la France, la Syrie se rangea aux côtés des Alliés en 1939. En juin 1940, après la capitulation française, la Syrie passa sous le contrôle du gouvernement de Vichy. En 1941, les forces de la France libre et les Britanniques chassèrent le général Dentz, haut-commissaire du Levant. Le général Catroux, au nom de la France libre, reconnut officiellement l’indépendance de la Syrie, mais les troupes franco-britanniques demeurèrent sur le sol syrien.  Les Français ne se retirèrent totalement du Liban et de la Syrie qu’en 1946, après avoir violemment réprimé de nouvelles émeutes nationalistes et bombardé Damas. Cette même année, la Syrie devient membre des Nations unies.

Soulignons que, lors du mandat français, les Kurdes ne firent l’objet d’aucune mesure répressive. Même s’ils ne jouissaient d’aucun statut officiel, ils pouvaient librement pratiquer leur religion et utiliser leur langue, voire diffuser leurs journaux. C’est dans le Kurdistan syrien que beaucoup d’intellectuels Kurdes persécutés en Turquie vinrent trouver refuge, bien qu’ils ne disposaient d’aucun droit politique. Les Kurdes ont bel et bien demandé leur autonomie à l’intérieur des frontières du pays. Une pétition fut adressée à l’Assemblée constituante de Syrie le 23 juin 1928 et y a inclus les trois demandes suivantes:

1) L’usage de la langue kurde dans les zones kurdes, concurremment avec d’autres langues officielles (arabe et français);
2) L’éducation en langue kurde dans ces régions;
3) Le remplacement des employés du gouvernement de ces régions par des Kurdes.

Les autorités du mandat français ne favorisèrent pas l’autonomie kurde dans cette partie de la Syrie en raison de l’intolérance manifestée par la Turquie et l’Irak à l’égard «d’un territoire autonome kurde» près de leurs frontières. En fait, l’usage du kurde était libre, sans être officielle, dans la région. Mais l’absence de matériel pédagogique en langue kurde aurait rendu l’organisation de l’éducation particulièrement difficile, bien que ce soit des considérations d’ordre politique qui ait joué. 

Quant à la minorité religieuse alaouite, elle fut favorisée par les Français. Longtemps persécutés dans le passé, les alaouites (issus des chiites) purent s’instruire et se faire embaucher dans l’armée coloniale française, ce qui assura leur promotion sociale, dont les élites dirigeront ensuite le Parti Baas à partir de 1963. Les Français avaient créé le «Territoire des alaouites», qui allait devenir l’«État des Alaouites», puis en 1930 le «territoire de Lattaquié» ou «gouvernement de Lattaquié». Afin de faire contrepoids au nationalisme arabe des sunnites, les Français encouragèrent pendant l’entre-deux-guerres le particularisme alaouite, qui prétendait faire des alaouites un peuple à part entière, mais cette politique colonialiste échoua.



Dans les années 860, Ibn Nosayr, originaire de Bassorah et disciple du dixième imam chiite Ali al-Hadi, entre en dissidence et prêche une foi chiite extrémiste divinisant Ali [4] au sein d’une sorte de trinité dont Mahomet et son compagnon Salman sont les autres pôles. Fuyant l’Irak, les disciples de Ibn Nosayr sont récupérés par les Hamdanides de Alep qui trouvent expédient de les envoyer stimuler le zèle des tribus vivant aux marches de l’Empire Byzantin en Syrie du Nord. La prédication d’Ibn Nosayr rencontrera un succès inespéré parmi ces populations mal islamisées, encore fortement imprégnées de christianisme oriental chez qui son mysticisme, son culte du martyre et sa doctrine trinitaire provoquent des échos familiers. Il en résultera un syncrétisme mystique incorporant des éléments du chiisme le plus extrême, du christianisme byzantin et de paganisme ou de panthéisme hellénistique.

La constitution des royaumes francs, qui jouaient sur les divisions locales, a favorisé localement l’adhésion au Nosaïrisme et son implantation durable dans le nord-ouest de la Syrie, mais la répression qui a suivi la reconquête musulmane n’en a été que plus féroce. Traqués en tant que traîtres et apostats, les membres des tribus alaouitisées de Syrie se réfugient dans les montagnes surplombant Lattaquieh où elles vivent en retrait du reste du pays, tributaires d’une maigre agriculture de subsistance, en butte à de permanentes persécutions politiques et religieuses, entretenant des relations de dépendance difficile avec les villes de la côte et de l’intérieur. Cette situation, émaillée d’affrontements sporadiques et toujours sanglants avec les autorités de droit ou de fait, durera jusqu’à l’effondrement de l’Empire Ottoman. Des expéditions punitives de Baïbars vers 1360 à l’établissement du mandat français en 1920, les Alaouites se sont figés en collectivités défensives régulièrement décimées dans toutes les hauteurs de la montagne côtière qui s’étend de Tartous à Alexandrette, ne descendant dans la plaine que pour louer leurs services comme ouvriers agricoles ou vendre leurs filles comme servantes [5]. Ce régime de persécutions religieuses et sociales conduit la communauté à se réfugier, comme les Druzes, dans l’hermétisme et la dissimulation. Les secrets ultimes de la religion sont réservés à une petite classe d’initiés et l’ensemble de la communauté intègre au plus haut degré la pratique de la taqiya [6]qui peut aller jusqu’au reniement public de l’appartenance à la communauté et la reconnaissance de l’appartenance à la religion dominante. Cependant contrairement aux Druzes, les Alaouites ne refusent pas les alliances matrimoniales hors de la communauté et même les encouragent quand elles peuvent lui profiter.

On retrouve chez les Alaouites de Syrie toutes les formes les plus classiques des sociétés côtières sédentarisées de la Méditerranée. La structure de base de la communauté est la famille (ahl) au sens élargi, sur laquelle règne sans partage l’autorité patriarcale. La famille est elle-même membre d’un clan (‘ashîra) regroupant plusieurs familles alliées, qui est la véritable unité de base de la communauté en laquelle on se reconnait principalement. Ces clans informels sont, regroupés par agrégation ou seuls suivant leur importance, constitutifs d’une tribu (qabîla) dont l’existence est plus liée aux relations d’alliance et aux solidarités de voisinage qu’à la référence à un lignage attesté ou mythique commun. La sédentarité des Alaouites explique évidemment que, contrairement aux nomades, ils se réfèrent plus au sol qu’au sang et, dans la pratique courante, l’Alaouite se réfère essentiellement à son “village”, entité à la fois humaine et géographique, lieu géométrique de ses relations affectives et sécuritaires. La tribu est dominée par un sheikh “temporel” dont l’autorité ne se confond pas avec celle des chefs religieux. Enfin, la plupart des tribus alaouites sont regroupées en quatre grandes “fédérations” (ahlaf) dont la segmentation, perpendiculaire à la côte, paraît essentiellement due aux contraintes locales de la géographie physique qui conditionnent l’orientation des voies de communication et a contribué à donner des caractéristiques communes aux tribus qui les constituent [7] :

- Les Haddâdîn dans la région de Dreikish et Safita,

- Les Khayyâtîn dans la région de Qadmus et Marqab,

- Les Matawira dans la région de Matwa et Aïn Sharqiyyah,

- Les Jurûd [8] dans le triangle Qardaha-Slenfé-Alexandrette, fédération dont la tribu des Kalbiyyeh, la plus importante en nombre, est celle de Hafez el-Assad qui appartient au clan des Karahil [9].

Ces quatre fédérations regroupent environ 80% des Alaouites de Syrie, les autres se répartissant en tribus au rattachement incertain comme les Bichraghiyyah (du nom de la région de Bichragh dont ils sont les habitants, qui marque la limite entre les tribus du nord du Djebel alaouite et celles du sud aux pratiques religieuses et sociales légèrement différentes) ou en sortes de confréries à vocation plus religieuse que sociale comme les Murchidiyyin ou les Hawakhissa. D’une manière générale, la notion de tribu chez les Alaouites, agriculteurs attachés à leur terroir, apparaît donc plus liée à l’établissement de liens de solidarité et de protection réciproques entre familles élargies voisines qu’à des références communes à des ancêtres ou des passés mythiques qui sont le fondement du tribalisme nomade des pasteurs dans l’hinterland steppique [10]. Il en résulte une certaine perméabilité et un flou des contours, un caractère mouvant des critères de légitimité, une grande disponibilité aux modifications des systèmes d’alliances ou d’antagonismes.

A la tête de la communauté on trouve traditionnellement un “Conseil communautaire des Alaouites” (Majlis al-Milli) qui paraît tenir plus d’un conseil de famille consultatif que d’une autorité exécutive ou contraignante. Composé de dix-huit membres cooptés parmi les cheikhs religieux et temporels des différentes tribus, il rend les grands arbitrages et définit les lignes de conduite générales de la communauté. Sa composition est en principe secrète et il se réunit de façon informelle. Son importance paraît avoir fortement diminué à mesure que se développait le pouvoir personnel de Hafez el-Assad pour lequel a été créé le siège inédit de Président d’honneur.

Premier drapeau de la Syrie sous mandat français (1920-1946)

L’instauration du mandat français en 1920 introduit une rupture brutale dans l’ordre interne de la communauté et dans ses rapports avec le reste du pays. Elle pose en fait les bases de la future accession au pouvoir de la communauté. Le 31 août 1920, la France, fidèle à sa politique de protection des minorités et soucieuse de se prémunir contre un “empire arabe” en jouant sur les divisions régionales, crée le Territoire autonome des Alaouites auquel font pendant diverses entités minoritaires chrétienne ( Liban) et druze (Djebel Druze). Un grand nombre de notables alaouites se rallient avec enthousiasme à l’idée d’une indépendance par rapport à la Syrie sunnite et, malgré quelques fausses notes comme la révolte de 1921 menée par cheikh Saleh al-Alawi, ils iront, en comparant leur sort à celui des Juifs de Palestine, jusqu’à élaborer en 1936 une déclaration de refus de rattachement à la Syrie à laquelle plusieurs centaines d’entre eux, dont le grand-père du Président, souscrivent. Sur le plan religieux et juridique, l’autorité mandataire essaie d’appliquer les principes qu’elle met en oeuvre dans ses autres possessions arabes. Le trop petit nombre et le manque de formation des cadres locaux conduisent, par une assimilation abusive des Alaouites au chiisme, à faire appel à des experts en matière religieuse et de statut personnel issus des communautés chiites du sud du Liban. Ils se sont plutôt bien adaptés, en laissant à la fois leur empreinte et quelques systèmes de relations utiles pour l’avenir quand le désordre interne du Liban conduira la Syrie dominée par des Alaouites à y rendre des arbitrages entre les communautés. C’est auprès de leur chef charismatique, l’Imam Moussa Sadr, que Hafez el-Assad avait d’ailleurs été se faire délivrer , au début des années 70, des brevets d’appartenance de la communauté alaouite à l’Islam chiite (Kramer, 1987:246 sqq.). Enfin, toujours soucieux de s’appuyer sur les minorités pour faire pièce au pouvoir sunnite de Damas, les Français favorisent et organisent la scolarisation, jusque là presque inconnue, des enfants des communautés minoritaires et poussent les plus brillants d’entre eux vers les carrières administratives et, en particulier, le métier des armes.

La confusion européenne au lendemain de la seconde guerre mondiale, le départ sans gloire de la puissance mandataire, suivi peu après de l’affrontement généralisé avec l’État juif nouvellement créé, a contraint la communauté alaouite dans son ensemble à revoir son système d’insertion dans le contexte régional selon trois grandes lignes directrices :

- Les effondrements successifs de l’Empire Ottoman puis des grands États d’Europe intéressés au Levant ont prouvé qu’aucune puissance extérieure à la région ne peut garantir durablement la survie d’une entité alaouite autonome ou indépendante. La communauté doit donc accepter de vivre à l’état de minorité dans l’ensemble arabe et musulman. Cette considération condamnait les notables qui s’étaient ouvertement prononcés, presque en totalité, pour une indépendance sous protection française et, en les dévalorisant, conduisit dans un premier temps et par défaut au renforcement du pouvoir des responsables religieux de la communauté qui avaient eu la prudence de ne pas s’engager sur ce terrain, puis à l’émergence rapide de cheikhs tribaux plus jeunes et plus dynamiques que ne le voulait la coutume.

- L’Islam sunnite demeurant l’adversaire principal, il convenait d’en neutraliser la menace en faisant si possible reconnaître la communauté comme musulmane en “gommant” sa spécificité, donc en adoptant en toutes circonstances des postures qui ne prêtent le flanc à aucune critique tant sur le plan de la religion que de l’arabisme. Cette stratégie conduira la communauté et ses leaders à des positions maximalistes sur tous les dossiers régionaux et internationaux concernant la question nationale arabe et les problèmes musulmans. Ils seront toujours, parfois jusqu’à la caricature, à la pointe des causes du monde arabe et les derniers à faire des concessions dans ce domaine, après que tous les responsables sunnites auront montré l’exemple.

- Enfin il convient de s’assurer le contrôle de l’État syrien afin de se prémunir, puisqu’il va bien falloir vivre avec eux, contre la vindicte prévisible des notables sunnites locaux ou étrangers, contre leur volonté latente d’islamiser les institutions ou de fondre le pays dans un vaste ensemble “arabo-musulman” [11]. Ce contrôle de l’État doit viser essentiellement celui de son appareil de contrainte et tendre à dissocier par tous les moyens le concept d’arabisme de celui d’Islam, en tous cas d’Islam sunnite.

La prise du pouvoir

C’est dans ce contexte et en fonction de ces principes que de jeunes responsables civils et militaires alaouites vont s’emparer du pouvoir en février 1966. Sans verser dans une explication conspiratoire de l’histoire [12], on doit constater qu’ils s’y sont longuement préparés. L’initiative en est venue principalement du nord de la région alaouite, c’est-à-dire de la confédération des Jurûd, probablement pour la double raison qu’ils étaient à la fois les plus humbles de la communauté et les plus exposés au voisinage turc. Dès 1933, Zaki al-Arsouzi, Alaouite d’Alexandrette, fonde une “Ligue d’action nationale” qui se veut nationaliste et socialiste sur le modèle des partis fascistes européens, comme le feront peu après les Maronites avec les “Phalanges” de Pierre Gemayel et les Grecs-orthodoxes avec le Parti Populaire Syrien d’Antoun Saadé. Au-delà de ses objectifs affichés d’indépendance, de réveil culturel et de panarabisme, la Ligue se veut intégratrice. Il s’agit, comme pour le P.P.S., de substituer à la référence religieuse une référence nationale qui permettrait à la minorité de ne plus voir son existence sociale et politique contestée sur une base religieuse. Arsouzi se heurte à la fois aux Français, aux Turcs à qui la puissance mandataire cède en 1939 le Sandjak d’Alexandrette, mais aussi aux notables indépendantistes alaouites des autres confédérations et au pouvoir bourgeois de Damas. Ses idées font cependant leur chemin chez les jeunes Alaouites du nord et chez les Druzes tandis que leur volet social séduit les jeunes Sunnites des provinces périphériques, “oubliés” eux aussi du développement industriel et commerçant des villes. Fin 1940, Arsouzi quitte la Ligue, maintenant exclusivement tournée vers la contestation de l’occupation turque du Sandjak, et crée à Damas une première version d’un “Baath al-Arabi” (Parti de la résurrection arabe), avec une idéologie similaire à celle initiale de la Ligue. Il ne rencontre guère de succès dans la capitale et se retire en 1942 à Lattaquieh où son influence morale reste très grande et d’où il poussera ses jeunes coreligionnaires à adhérer massivement au nouveau Baath, totalement inspiré du sien, que fondent en 1943 le Chrétien Michel Aflaq et le Sunnite Salaheddin Bitar. Panarabe, nationaliste, laïque, social, le Baath séduit à la fois les minorités non musulmanes ou dissidentes de l’Islam et nombre de ruraux musulmans orthodoxes face à l’hégémonie de la bourgeoisie sunnite. Son caractère authentiquement arabe le rend plus attractif et moins sujet à controverse que le “syrianisme” réducteur du P.P.S. ou l’athéisme importé du P.C., autres refuges idéologiques et militants des minoritaires. Pendant vingt ans, le Parti va être patiemment infiltré puis instrumentalisé par les Alaouites au détriment des autres groupes qui le composent (Chrétiens, Druzes, Ismaéliens, Sunnites provinciaux) pour prendre le contrôle de l’appareil militaire, puis politique et enfin économique et financier de l’État syrien.

Là encore, le rôle des Jurûd et, en leur sein, celui des Kalbiyyeh et de la famille Assad est déterminant. Originaire du bourg de Qardaha, la famille Assad, sans être pauvre, vit modestement de l’agriculture. Le père, Ali ben Sleiman, a voulu sortir de sa condition mais n’en a guère les moyens. Comme la plupart des Jurûd, il ne dispose ni des réseaux d’affaires dont bénéficient les Shamsites [13], ni des réseaux de pouvoir en général accaparés par les Matawira. Après la tentative familiale infructueuse de donner des signes d’allégeance aux Français, il mise tout sur ses fils pour lesquels il consentira de lourds sacrifices en vue de leur assurer une instruction la plus complète possible. Intelligent et rusé, discret et opiniâtre, doté d’une force physique peu commune, Hafez el-Assad, né en 1930, adhère au Parti Baath alors qu’il est encore lycéen sur l’instigation de Zaki Arsouzi et de son disciple Wahib Ghanem, également Alaouite d’Alexandrette, qui est un ami de la famille. Après avoir animé la section étudiante du parti au lycée de Lattaquieh, où il rencontre beaucoup de ceux qui seront ses compagnons de route, Hafez el-Assad passe son baccalauréat à Banyas puis se présente à l’école des officiers de Homs en 1950. Nanti de ses épaulettes de sous- lieutenant, il choisit l’aviation et rejoint en 1952 la toute nouvelle école de l’air d’Alep. Comme au lycée, il noue dans ces deux écoles les liens d’amitié, de confiance et de solidarité de promotion, les “réseaux”, qui le conduiront au pouvoir. Si dans son environnement les Alaouites comme son “co-pilote” Mohammad el-Khouli dominent, Assad sait aussi rechercher l’amitié de Sunnites modestes, provinciaux, hostiles aux bourgeois damascènes comme Naji Jamil, originaire de Deir ez-Zor – son équipier à l’Ecole de l’Air dont il fera son premier coordinateur des services de sécurité – ou Moustafa Tlass, né à Rastan – son compagnon à l’Ecole de Homs – qui deviendra son inamovible ministre de la Défense – assez forts pour l’aider, pas assez pour lui nuire…

On voit déjà se dessiner l’esquisse du dispositif ternaire qui reste encore aujourd’hui le schéma de base de toutes les stratégies du Président syrien, toujours entouré de trois cercles concentriques constitués chacun de trois éléments fidèles à sa personne et rivaux entre eux, donc manipulables. Si les Kalbiyyeh sont bien représentés dans son entourage, il sait qu’il lui faut composer avec les autres tribus alaouites qui ne verraient certainement pas d’un bon oeil l’un des moins prestigieux d’entre eux monopoliser le devenir communautaire. Il se lie donc à des représentants d’autres tribus comme Mohammed Omran (jeune cheikh d’un des clans les plus prestigieux des Haddâdîn) et Salah Jedid (du plus puissant des clans Matawira à l’époque), avec lesquels il formera en 1960 le noyau d’un comité militaire hostile à l’union avec l’Egypte, ou Mohammed el-Khouli (Haddâdîn), qui sera le chef de son premier “service de renseignements” personnel quand il sera lui-même le chef de l’armée de l’air. En 1958, il épouse Anisseh Makhlouf, d’une famille aisée de la prestigieuse confédération des Haddâdîn. Elle lui donnera cinq enfants et la collaboration fidèle de tout son clan puisque Adnan Makhlouf, son plus proche cousin, est depuis plus de vingt ans le chef de la garde présidentielle.

Quand, confrontés à la double pression des Anglo-Saxons pour un alignement de la Syrie sur le Pacte de Baghdad et des jeunes officiers subalternes pour une politique encore plus indépendante et nationaliste, les dirigeants bourgeois de Damas, soutenus par la “vieille garde” du Baath, s’en remettent à la tutelle de l’Égypte

Al-Bitar, Louai al-Atassi et Nasser en mars 1963.

nassérienne le 12 janvier 1958, les Alaouites comprennent vite qu’ils sont victimes d’un marché de dupes. Rapidement confirmés dans cette opinion par les maladresses de l’administration égyptienne qui les marginalise aussi bien en tant que minorité que dans leurs privilèges de fonction si difficilement acquis, ils entreprennent une série de manoeuvres souterraines pour sortir de l’union qui reçoivent vite l’adhésion de tous les laissés pour compte de l’unité. Le comité militaire clandestin, alors constitué autour de Omrane, Jedid et Assad, va devenir pour presque dix ans le creuset où va s’élaborer la prise du pouvoir par les prétoriens alaouites aux dépens des Sunnites de Damas d’abord, puis des politiciens du Baath et enfin des “aventuristes” de la communauté. Hafez el-Assad et ses fidèles y développent jusqu’au raffinement l’art de l’action clandestine, les vertus de la patience et de la discrétion, l’habileté des manipulations complexes.

Le 28 septembre 1961, un premier coup d’État militaire à Damas prononce la rupture avec Le Caire et rétablit une République bourgeoise dominée par ses éléments traditionnels contre lesquels la réaction égyptienne ne peut qu’être mesurée. Le 8 mars 1963, un second pronunciamento militaire conduit par le capitaine druze Salim Hatoum renverse le régime civil, rappelle les officiers limogés, dont Hafez el-Assad, pendant la période unioniste ou la république “sécessionniste” et remet le pouvoir au parti Baath renforcé par sa prise du pouvoir en Irak un mois plus tôt. L’armée passe cependant sous le contrôle du comité militaire animé par les Alaouites. Devenu chef de l’Armée de l’Air, Assad y met sur pied, dès 1963 et dans la plus stricte illégalité, un service de renseignements efficace relayé dès 1965 au niveau de l’action par une milice au statut ambigu, les Détachements de Défense (saraya ad-difaa) qu’il confie à son frère Rifaat, passé en 1962 de l’administration des douanes au service de l’Armée. Le 23 février 1966, un nouveau putsch militaire chasse la vieille garde politique du Baath. Le Chrétien Aflaq et le Sunnite Bitar prennent le chemin de l’exil, remplacés par l’aile gauchiste du Parti pilotée par des militaires populistes sous la direction de Salah Jedid. Ce dernier commet l’erreur des bourgeois damascènes en abandonnant le contrôle de l’armée pour se consacrer à une action politique qu’il veut  résolument socialiste et nationaliste sans référence réelle aux intérêts particuliers de sa communauté. Hafez el-Assad devient ministre de la Défense et asseoit son emprise sur l’Armée, laissant son rival s’user en projets généreux et utopiques, sans omettre de saisir toute occasion de saper subtilement son pouvoir et ses plans. Le 25 février 1969, l’Armée prend le contrôle du pays et, sans chasser Salah Jedid, l’oblige à mettre un terme à ses expériences progressistes devenues impopulaires et à son monopole sur les décisions politiques en rappelant aux affaires des membres de l’establishment traditionnel ainsi que des ténors de diverses formations politiques. Jouant sur ce pluralisme qu’il a suscité, Hafez el-Assad, sans apparaître personnellement, fait prononcer le 12 novembre 1970 la destitution de Jedid, l’arrestation des officiers qui lui sont encore hostiles et prend enfin le contrôle de l’État qui lui sera officiellement confié début 1971 par son accession à la Présidence largement plébiscitée.


[1] En 1994, la Syrie compte environ 13 millions d’habitants. Les minorités non sunnites et/ou non arabes représentent environ 35% de la population (extrapolations selon la méthode préconisée par Seurat, 1980:92): Alaouites (12%), Chrétiens de diverses obédiences (7%), Kurdes (6%), Druzes (5%), Arméniens (3%), Divers (Juifs, Tcherkesses, Assyriens, etc…environ 2%).

[2] “La guerre sainte est légitime…contre ces sectateurs du sens caché, plus infidèles que les Chrétiens et les Juifs, plus infidèles que les idôlatres, qui ont fait plus de mal à la religion que les Francs…”. (Cité par Pipes 1989:434.)

[3] Si l’on prend cette évolution en considération, les controverses entre Perthes (1992:105-113) et Landis (1993:143-151) ou entre Pipes (1989:429-450) et Sadowsky (1988:168), que l’auteur n’a ni vocation ni surtout autorité à trancher, peuvent apparaître comme la vision d’un même phénomène selon deux perspectives différentes.

[4] D’où le nom d’Alaouites qui leur a été donné par les Sunnites (‘Alawiyyîn, partisans de Ali); comme il a été donné, sans qu’il y ait aucun lien entre eux, à l’actuelle dynastie filalienne marocaine qui revendique sa descendance au Prophète via Abdallah Kamil, l’un des arrière petit fils de Ali et Fatima, qui serait venu s’installer au Tafilalet. Selon les périodes, les Alaouites de Syrie se désignent eux-mêmes sous le nom d’Alaouites quand ils souhaitent entretenir la confusion sur leur appartenance à l’Islam chiite ou sous celui de Nosaïris quand ils entendent être clairement distingués des Musulmans.

[5] Jusqu’aux années 60, les familles aisées des grandes villes de Syrie et du Liban “embauchaient” comme bonnes à tout faire des fillettes alaouites dès l’âge de huit ou dix ans. L’enfant étant mineur, une somme forfaitaire était versée , au titre de sa rémunération et pour solde de tout compte, au père ou au représentant légal qui abandonnait de facto tout élément de puissance parentale au profit de l’employeur. Prise en charge, mais non rémunérée, par la famille d’accueil, l’enfant entrait alors dans une vie de quasi-esclavage. La mémoire collective de cette pratique séculaire courante, que l’on se garde bien d’évoquer aujourd’hui, a pesé extrêmement lourd dans les formes de l’établissement du pouvoir alaouite en Syrie et dans son comportement au Liban.

[6] La taqiya (aussi connue sous le nom persan de ketman) est, très grossièrement, la faculté laissée au croyant de dissimuler son appartenance ainsi que de mentir ou de ne pas tenir ses engagements pour protéger la collectivité ou sa propre personne en tant que membre de la communauté.

[7] Voir carte

[8] Littéralement, “ceux qui habitent le jurd (zone de la montagne où rien ne pousse)”. De fait, avec la cession du Sandjak, cette confédération s’est trouvée pratiquement réduite en territoire syrien à sa composante Kalbiyyeh sous le nom desquels on la désigne usuellement..

[9] Une légende tenace veut que Hafez el-Assad se rattache au clan Noumeïtila de la confédération des Matawira, sans doute parce que ces derniers ont été les premiers de la communauté à investir les circuits de pouvoir en Syrie et qu’il était alors inconcevable qu’un Kalbiyyeh pût avoir des prétentions à ce sujet. On remarque aussi que Qardaha, village situé à l’extrémité sud du territoire des Jurûd, à quelques kilomètres de Matwa, est limitrophe du territoire des Matawiras. La même confusion s’attache à d’autres responsables actuels du régime (Mohammed el-Khouli, Ali Aslan). Voir sur ce point Le Gac (1991:78-79).

[10] Sur le passage d’un référentiel de solidarité à l’autre, voir Khalaf (1993:178-194)

[11] Il convient de noter que de 1946 à 1958 , sous la pression des diplomaties anglo-saxonnes pour la constitution d’un Pacte anti-soviétique ancré à Baghdad et pour la protection des accès aux ressources pétrolières, le Moyen Orient était dominé par les faits séoudite et hachémite. L’édification d’un grand “Royaume arabe” était encore un mythe vivace et la seule alternative offerte était le ralliement, à partir de 1952, au panarabisme nassérien peu sensible aux intérêts minoritaires.

[12] Plusieurs auteurs cités par Pipes (1989:429) font allusion à des réunions “secrètes” tenues dans les années 60 entre responsables civils, militaires et religieux de la communauté pour mettre au point une stratégie clandestine de prise et de gestion du pouvoir organisée dans ses moindres détails. L’impartialité de ces auteurs -quand ils ne se réfugient pas dans l’anonymat – est cependant sujette à caution et ils n’apportent guère d’éléments incontestables permettant d’étayer l’idée d’une démarche aussi élaborée.

[13] Les quatre grandes confédérations alaouites se partagent en “shamsites” (Haddâdîn, Khayyâtîn) et en “Qamarites” (Jurûd, Matawira) suivant des considérations subtiles sur l’importance religieuse respective qu’ils accordent au Soleil (shams) et à la Lune (qamar). Lors de sa brève existence sous le mandat français, l’État des Alaouites s’était doté d’un drapeau représentant un soleil flamboyant sur fond blanc, témoignant à la fois une distance par rapport aux couleurs et symboles traditionnels de l’Islam et la dominance des confédérations du sud.

How the British Constructed a New Woman’s Movement

How the British Constructed a New Woman’s Movement

A Book Review of Feminine Fascism


Julie V. Gottlieb
Feminine Fascism: Women in Britain’s Fascist Movement, 1923-1945
New York: I.B. Tauris, 2003.

“Feminine fascism” is a phrase that Julie V. Gottlieb uses to describe the forward-thinking, yet traditionally influenced, ideology embraced by Britain’s fascists. Their objective was not a return to the past, to a time when women were solely mothers and homemakers. Instead, the fascists in England combined traditional roles with the advances made in women’s suffrage and the workplace, and added a fascist bent of discipline and integrity.

Feminine Fascism: Women in Britain’s Fascist Movement is a chronological account of fascism in Britain, starting in 1923 with the country’s first fascist group, the British Fascisti, founded by Rotha Lintorn-Orman, a woman. The BF remained the predominant fascist organization until Sir Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists (BU) was established in 1932. Feminine Fascism discusses the role of women in these two groups, details the unique form of feminism embraced by members, and ends with an account of the internment and trials of women fascists during World War II. The last quarter of the book provides brief biographies of the many women in fascist Britain.

Gottlieb, a senior lecturer in history at the University of Sheffield, has trouble wrapping her head around what attracted so many women to fascism, especially those who had campaigned for women’s suffrage. How could women embrace such seemingly different ideologies: women’s rights, on the one hand, and anti-democracy on the other? The answer is that fascism offered women the best of both worlds.

Britain’s fascists encouraged women to be traditional in many areas. Motherhood was valued and respected, as was homemaking. In fact, the Corporate State would include a Home Corporation, in which homemakers would have representation just like any other trade. An article in The Blackshirt explained, “only when women represent women will womankind attain its rightful influence.”

A primary goal of the fascist platform was allowing women to once again be homemakers, but they used forward-thinking methods to advance their ideology. Many British women were essentially forced into the workplace due to wage variances between the sexes. Employers preferred less costly female employees, which pushed many men out of jobs. All too many families experienced the trials of having a working mother, with the father at home tending the house and children, unable to secure a decent wage. The fascists knew that in the modern world, a platform that appeared to regress women’s rights would hold no sway. Thus, they supported equal wages for women, since equal pay would mean that more men could return to the workforce. As explained by Fascist Week:

Under Fascism women will not be compelled to resign, but encouraged to do so by the fact that, under Corporate State and the scientific methods of raising real wages, men will be able to afford to marry women—and women will not be compelled to earn their own living as they are at present. (125)

However, the fascists never insisted that career-minded women remain at home, recognizing that there were not only occupations suited to women, but also situations in which women would desire a career and need equal pay. Rosalind Raby, for example, claimed that fascism would allow the unmarried mother “to earn an honest living for herself and her child.”


But the biggest innovation in British fascism was its emphasis on character. Men were encouraged to have values of courage, strength, honour, and integrity. The aristocracy of money and class would be replaced in the Corporate State with a meritocracy. Likewise, British fascism presented an alternate form of femininity: one that included strength, courage, and fearlessness. During marches, women were not permitted to wear lipstick or wave at friends as if in a beauty pageant. These feminine fascists were described as healthy, attractive, charming, intelligent, and of strong character. They were motherly, but as wary of sentimentality as Julius Evola. A male writer described the women Blackshirts:

Nothing silly or soft about these women. They are nothing if not practical . . . and the happy carefree way in which they made themselves at home, was so refreshing after one has had their fill of the simpering little brats that democracy and Jewish films have produced. (95)

The combination of traditional and modern was seen in the BU women’s uniform of: a black blouse, grey skirt, and black beret. It was against regulations for women to wear trousers while on active duty.

Integrating Fascism into Everyday Life


British fascists grew in numbers, in part because they didn’t relegate their philosophy to just the political sphere, but participated in almost every aspect of members’ lives. Weddings included fascist regalia, and at some funerals a fascist flag was draped over the coffin. The Fascist Week printed the names of wedding guests just like the society pages of The Times.


Members of the BF organized Fascist Children’s Clubs, in which children were taught history, songs, patriotism, and given awards for homework. Other women had brooches designed with the BU lightning symbol, and made dolls dressed in the blackshirt for children. There also was a BU Women’s Choir. According to Gottlieb:

By celebrating each phase of life within a fascist framework, the BF in fact appropriated the functions once carried out by the Church and this substantiated their claim . . . that fascism was akin to a religion. (28)

In addition to the accolades given to real women, there were fascist heroines as well. The most notable was Queen Elizabeth, for her command of the nation and exemplary oratory skills. Another heroine was Lady Hester Stanhope, who worked as a housekeeper before traveling through the Middle East. E. D. Hart wrote:

Those women who, whether from choice or, as in the case of Lady Hester, from necessity, explore other walks of life, will find both assistance and encouragement. When, like her, they display the Fascist virtues of courage, self-reliance, and tenacity of purpose, we ascribe to them the honour which is their due. (97)

Blackshirts also banded together to disparage several less attractive types of women. One was the feminist with mannish, short hair, called the “bleating Bloomsbury.” Another was the “Mayfair Parasite,” who usurped the nation’s wealth and vitality by sleeping late and devoting her life to superficial pleasures. Being fit and healthy was considered a moral duty, for as one writer put it: “Far too many women consider it their privilege to be ill . . . just ill enough to pamper themselves and evade their share of the family work.” Communists often were referred to as “submen” and “subwomen.” Titled women did not escape criticism either. Those who earned money by advertising products were publicly chastised by BU members for degrading both themselves and their class.

Women’s Duties in Fascist Organizations

Women were involved in almost every area of Britain’s fascist groups, and made up about 25 percent of the membership. The Women’s Section of the BU was established in March 1933, under the leadership of Lady Maud Mosley. She said, “When my son married Lady Cynthia [Mosley’s first wife], she took her place by his side. Now she is dead and there must be someone to help him in this work and I am going to do my best to fill the gap” (52).

Mosley’s second wife, Diana, and her sister Unity Valkyrie Mitford became two of the best-known female fascists, but Feminine Fascism only lightly touches on their stories. Their aristocratic parents were extremely Right-wing and anti-Semitic, but when the 2nd Baron Redesdale supported England during the war, he and his Nazi-sympathizing wife permanently separated.

Diana_MitfordDiana was married to Bryan Guinness when she met Mosley, and soon became his mistress. Mosley’s wife died suddenly of peritonitis in 1933 (though he was plagued the rest of his life that infidelities and political stress might have been the cause). Mosley and Diana were married at the home of Joseph Goebbels in 1936, with Hitler as guest of honor.

Unity debuted the same year her older sister became Mosley’s mistress. The next year, Diana and Unity went to the 1933 Nuremberg Rally as part of the BU delegation, and saw Hitler for the first time. Unity returned to Germany the following year, eating at the same restaurant as the Führer for 10 months, until he finally asked her over. Unity wrote to her father of their meeting: “I am so happy that I wouldn’t mind a bit, dying. I'd suppose I am the luckiest girl in the world. For me he is the greatest man of all time.” Hitler, in turn, described Unity as “a perfect specimen of Aryan womanhood.” Their affections might have escalated, if not for a suicide attempt by Hitler’s mistress, Eva Braun. Though in love with Hitler, Unity devoted herself to making speeches, writing letters, distributing propaganda, and being one of Hitler’s intimate confidantes. On September 3, 1939, the day Britain declared war on Germany, Unity took a pearl-handled pistol (a gift from Hitler for protection) and shot herself in the head, unable to bear the thought of the two countries she loved at war. She survived and was eventually able to walk again, but never recovered her full mental capabilities.

While Unity was helping the cause on the continent, women Blackshirts in England spoke at meetings, organized children’s groups, sold newspapers, and participated in marches and canvassing. Study groups about fascism were established for women speakers, and women participated in public debates. But women did not forsake their traditional duties either: One woman reported that it was the fair sex who kept the BU headquarters clean and brewed tea for the men. Members who did not give five nights a week to the movement were denied the privilege of wearing the coveted blackshirt.

A relatively large number of women participated in local elections. In 1936, the BU ran 10 women candidates (10 percent of their parliamentary candidates), from a variety of backgrounds. (Six were unmarried, five were professionals, three were in their 20s, and two were from gentry families.) The various women received between 15 and 23 percent of the votes in their respective districts.


Women’s most valuable talents were said to be in public speaking, and numerous BU women were praised for their excellent oration and ability to move crowds. Other women were lauded for their ability to use personal stories in their speeches, which proved more powerful than simple recitations of facts. During a 1936–37 campaign, women decided to censor their speeches for tactical advantage. No speaker was allowed to use the word “Jew.” Instead, plain-clothed members were scattered throughout the audience to use the word instead, as the message was thought to be more rousing if coming from the public.

Women had roles to play in security and self-defense as well. Female members of several organizations were trained in ju-jitsu, for as Fascist Week reported, “no male member of the BU is permitted to use force upon any woman, and women Reds often form a highly noisy and razor-carrying section at fascist meetings. Thus we counter women with women” (66).

The Fallout During the War

As early as 1938, a division of MI5 was formed to place agents in subversive organizations. Three women agents provocateurs successfully infiltrated the popular fascist group, Captain Ramsay’s Right Club. After Britain entered WWII, the country started to resemble a totalitarian dystopia for fascist sympathizers. In October 1939, Anne Brock Griggs was charged with “insulting words and disturbing the peace” for saying in a speech: “If Germans don’t like Hitler they can get rid of him themselves. We do not need to send our sons to fight them. If ever a country wants a revolution now it is Great Britain” (236). She quit her BU post, but was still interned during the war.

Defense Regulation 18B(1A) went into effect in September 1939, and it allowed the Home Secretary to detain anyone suspected of being a threat to national security. That category included anyone who was a leader or member in a group that might be under foreign influence. Under 18B, 1,826 people were interned, including 747 BU members (96 of them women).

Sir Oswald Mosley was arrested in May 1940, the day after the Defense Regulations were passed. The BU was outlawed in June, and his second wife, Diana, was interned shortly after. She was denounced by both her sister Nancy (later a famous novelist and biographer) and her former father-in-law, and had to leave without her 11-week-old, still-nursing baby boy. Although the English public called for Unity Mitford to be interned as a traitor, she was allowed to return to the family home with her mother, since she was weak from her suicide attempt.

Interned women were given no special treatment in prison. When Miss L. M. Reeve was arrested, a group of armed guards came to take her from her home. One officer asked if he could have her dog, since she was “probably about to be shot.” One woman’s infant died while staying with her in prison, and another woman’s infant was pulled from her arms and placed in an institution. Part of the evidence against another woman was a photograph of her on vacation in Germany in 1939, seated at a table with bottles of German wine.

Fascists on the outside, though their organizations were banned, were still able to help their comrades via a registered charity founded specifically to help those interned under 18B. The charity helped pay for legal and medical services, provided assistance to detainees’ families, provided post-release counseling, and helped people find employment. Trials could only be held for those who could be charged with a tangible offense, so many men and women fascists were imprisoned for years.

The Impact of Feminine Fascism


The much-anticipated Corporate State never became a reality, and its philosophies and ideas were forced to the margins of history. Yet the lessons that can be learned from the events detailed in Feminine Fascism remain relevant to the leaders of future generations.

Eighty years ago, the fascists recognized that it would be impossible to shed the gains made in women’s rights. Rather than fighting against women’s “emancipation,” with which they ideologically disagreed, the fascists used it to their advantage. The result was a philosophy for women that honored the traditional, yet considered the needs of modern women. Fascists didn’t need to force women into the home or sell them on an ideology that contradicted the propaganda of the modern world; they realized that the moment women didn’t have to work the majority of mothers would return gladly to full-time homemaking. And given the precarious nature of homemaking as a profession, they planned ways for women to have representation and security in the Corporate State. The result was a platform that united women of various political persuasions, ages, and classes. Because it details the fascists’ unique outlook and strategy, Feminine Fascism makes a relevant handbook for those looking to learn from the successes and failures of history.

dimanche, 22 janvier 2012

Dominique VENNER: Is de geschiedenis werkelijk onpartijdig… ?

Dominique VENNER:

Is de geschiedenis werkelijk onpartijdig… ?

Hieronder vindt u het editoriaal van Dominique Venner in het laatste nummer van La Nouvelle Revue d'Histoire (nr. 58, januari - februari 2012) over het manicheïsme dat tegenwoordig heerst in de manier waarop men de geschiedenis uitlegt.

Landsknechte.jpgVoor hen die goede redenen hadden om de collaboratie te bevechten, was deze verwerpelijk. Het heeft de collaboratie inderdaad niet aan verfoeibare aspecten ontbroken. Niettemin hebben zich zowel aan Franse als aan Duitse zijde mensen in eer en geweten ingezet voor deze weg, waarvan zij dachten dat hij de juiste was, en die achteraf door de geschiedenis werd veroordeeld. Heel vaak hebben ze hun illusies cash betaald. Niet enkel hebben ze er vaak het leven bij gelaten, of hun vrijheid en hun sociaal bestaan verloren, maar meer nog bleven ze verstoken van de mogelijkheid om hun beweegredenen te duiden. Zowel de overledenen als de overlevenden werden blootgesteld aan de algemene veroordeling van een engagement dat als weerzinwekkend werd afgeschilderd en dat onbegrijpelijk was geworden. De interpretatie die door de overwinning van hun zegevierende tegenstanders werd opgelegd was tegelijkertijd totaal en totalitair (1). Met andere woorden, de geschiedenis, die door de overwinnaars wordt geschreven, legt een absoluut manicheïsme op tussen deze laatsten enerzijds, die geassocieerd worden met het Goede, en de overwonnenen anderzijds, die tot in de eeuwigheid het Kwade belichamen.

Zo gaat het altijd na een godsdienstoorlog. En de Tweede Wereldoorlog was wel degelijk een godsdienstoorlog. De overwonnenen verloren in één klap de mogelijkheid om begrepen te worden. Wat hen rechtvaardigde toen ze nog wapens droegen, verdween in één klap en werd vervangen door een verdict van een proces zonder beroepsmogelijkheid, waarvan de uitkomst op voorhand vaststond, met triomferende inquisiteurs die genoten van de macht die hen in staat stelde hun tegenstanders voor de eeuwigheid – of zo goed als - te veranderen in uitgespuwde criminelen. Ja, ik zeg wel degelijk “voor de eeuwigheid”!

Keizer Julianus, die nochtans nooit bloed liet vloeien voor een zaak die hij als de juiste aanzag, wordt vandaag nog steeds uitgemaakt voor “afvallige” door het collectieve geheugen dat werd opgelegd door zijn zegevierende tegenstanders. Uitleggen dat dit predikaat even lasterlijk als schandalig is, heeft weinig zin. Lasterlijk, omdat Julianus zich nooit bekeerde tot de vreemde nieuwe religie waartegen hij uit trouw protesteerde. Hij was dus niet “afvallig”, maar trouw. Wanneer men wat verder nadenkt, beseft men dat de bijnaam waarmee men hem bedenkt ook schandalig is. In onze Europese wereld, die in principe vrij is van religieuze verboden, is afvalligheid een crimineel vergrijp dat dateert uit een ander tijdperk en eeuwige verdoemenis met zich meebrengt. Ondanks het vervliegen van de tijd en de rehabilitatie door historici blijft deze desondanks aan hem kleven (2).

Ik ben langs deze omweg niet afgeweken van mijn initiële bedenking. Het voorbeeld van de schandvlek die kleeft aan keizer Julianus, die meer dan vijftien eeuwen geleden gestorven is, vestigt de aandacht op de geschiedschrijving na een conflict dat de emoties tot in het extreme heeft beroerd en waarvan de overwinnaars over de exclusiviteit van het publieke woord beschikken. Wat ik geschreven heb over keizer Julianus geldt evenzeer, zij het in beperktere mate, voor de Konstabel van Bourbon, die voor altijd het stigma van « verrader » kreeg opgekleefd door een Frans geheugen dat zichzelf verwart met het geheugen van de staat. Indertijd kon de opstand van de Konstabel tegen Frans I en diens moeder, die hem geruïneerd hadden, op begrip rekenen bij zijn tijdgenoten. Het feodale recht en het principe van de wederzijdse verbintenis rechtvaardigden deze opstand. Dit verdween toen later de nieuwe idee van de natie en van het “verraad” na 1792 of 1870 ingang vond.

Laat ons nu terugkeren naar het manicheïstische oordeel dat de geschiedenis velt over de actoren van de collaboratiejaren. Met twee voorbeelden heb ik de onzekerheden in het historische oordeel aangetoond. Een overwonnene maakt zich dus illusies, wanneer hij voor het vuurpeloton uitroept dat de geschiedenis wel zal oordelen. De geschiedenis is nooit een onpartijdige rechtbank. Zij wordt altijd geschreven door de overwinnaars. Het gebeurt evenwel dat een latere nederlaag van de vroegere overwinnaars, een « historische » nederlaag, namelijk ééntje zonder mogelijkheid om ze ongedaan te maken, uiteindelijk toch nog onvoorzien gelijk geeft aan de vroegere overwonnenen. Zo is het bijvoorbeeld in Rusland gelopen met de Witten, die door de volledige ineenstorting van het systeem dat door de Roden na 1917 was opgebouwd, werden gerehabiliteerd.

Dominique Venner (La Nouvelle Revue d'Histoire nr. 58, januari - februari 2012)

Voetnoten :

1. Totalitair: wat zich aan alles en iedereen opdringt, en zowel het openbare als het privé-leven binnendringt.

2. De grote, onlangs overleden historicus Lucien Jerphagnon, die zelf christen is, was verontwaardigd over de vereeuwiging van de postume veroordeling van de jonge keizer, aan wie hij een boeiende en rijke biografie heeft gewijd: Julien, dit l’Apostat (Tallandier, 2008).

L'histoire serait-elle impartiale ?...

L'histoire serait-elle impartiale ?...

Nous reproduisons ci-dessous l'éditorial de Dominique Venner publié dans le dernier numéro de la Nouvelle Revue d'Histoire (n°58, janvier - février 2012) au manichéisme qui sévit actuellement dans la lecture de l'histoire.


L'histoire serait-elle impartiale ?

200_Venner.jpgPour tous ceux qui avaient des raisons de combattre la Collaboration, celle-ci fut détestable.  Et de fait, ses aspects haïssables n’ont pas manqué. Pourtant, du côté français, mais aussi du côté allemand, des hommes d’honneur et de foi se sont engagés dans cette voie qu’ils croyaient juste et que l’histoire a condamné. Le plus souvent, ils ont payé leurs illusions au prix fort. Non seulement ils y ont fréquemment perdu la vie, leur liberté et leur existence sociale, mais plus encore la possibilité de faire valoir leurs raisons. Morts ou survivants, il leur fallait endurer une réprobation générale à l’égard d’un engagement réputé ignoble et devenu incompréhensible, L’interprétation imposée par la victoire de leurs adversaires triomphants était à la fois totale et totalitaire (1). En d’autres termes, l’histoire écrite par les vainqueurs impose un manichéisme absolu entre eux-mêmes qui sont associés au Bien, et les vaincus, devenus incarnation du Mal à tout jamais.

Il en est toujours ainsi après une guerre de religions. Et la Seconde Guerre mondiale fut une guerre de religions. Les vaincus perdirent d’un seul coup la possibilité d’être compris. Ce qui les avait justifiés quand ils portaient encore les armes, soudain s’est évanoui, remplacé par le verdict sans appel d’un procès jugé d’avance, où les inquisiteurs triomphants jouissaient du pouvoir de les transformer en d’indicibles criminels pour l’éternité ou presque. Oui, je dis bien l’éternité !

L’empereur Julien, qui pourtant ne fit jamais couler le sang pour la cause qu’il croyait juste, se voit aujourd’hui encore qualifié d’Apostat par la mémoire collective imposée par ses adversaires victorieux. Rien ne sert d’expliquer que cet attribut est aussi calomnieux que scandaleux. Calomnieux, puisque jamais Julien n’adopta la nouvelle religion étrangère contre laquelle il éleva la protestation de sa fidélité. Il ne fut donc pas « apostat », mais fidèle. Si l’on réfléchit un instant, l’attribut dont on continue de l’affubler est également scandaleux. Dans notre monde européen, libre en principe de tout interdit religieux, l’apostasie est en effet une sentence criminelle d’un autre âge, impliquant une condamnation pour l’éternité. En dépit du temps écoulé et des travaux de réhabilitation des historiens, elle a cependant persisté (2).

9782857047841FS.gifPar ce détour, je ne me suis pas éloigné de ma réflexion initiale. L’exemple de l’opprobre attachée au nom de l’empereur Julien, disparu depuis plus de quinze siècles, attire l’attention sur l’écriture de l’histoire après un conflit ayant mobilisé les passions à l’extrême et dont les vainqueurs ont l’exclusivité de la parole publique. Ce que j’ai dit de l’empereur Julien pourrait l’être aussi, bien que de façon plus limitée, pour le grand personnage que fut le Connétable de Bourbon, à tout jamais qualifié de « traître » par une mémoire française qui se confond avec celle de l’État. En son temps, la révolte du Connétable contre François Ier et sa mère qui l’avaient grugé, fut comprise par les contemporains. Le droit féodal et le principe de l’engagement réciproque la justifiaient. Rien de cela ne fut plus admis quand s’imposa plus tard l’idée nouvelle de la nation et de la « trahison » postérieure à 1792 ou 1870.

Nous voici revenus au jugement manichéen que l’histoire inflige aux acteurs des années de l’Occupation. Par deux autres exemples, j’ai montré ce qu’il y a d’incertain dans le jugement historique. Autrement dit, quand un vaincu, devant les fusils qui vont le tuer, s’écrie : « L’Histoire jugera ! », il se remonte le moral au prix d’une chimère. L’histoire n’est jamais un tribunal impartial. Elle est toujours écrite par les vainqueurs. Il arrive cependant qu’une défaite ultérieure des anciens vainqueurs, une défaite « historique », c’est-à-dire sans appel, accorde une revanche inattendue aux vaincus. Il en a été ainsi en Russie pour les Blancs, réhabilité par l’effondrement absolu du système qu’avaient édifié les Rouges après 1917.

Dominique Venner (La Nouvelle Revue d'Histoire n°, janvier-février 2012)


1. Totalitaire : qui s’impose à tous et en toute chose, pénétrant la vie privée au même titre que le vie publique.

2. Grand historien récemment disparu, Lucien Jerphagnon, chrétien lui-même, s’indignait de l’éternisation de la condamnation posthume portée contre le jeune empereur auquel il consacra une captivante et riche biographie, Julien, dit l’Apostat (Tallandier, 2008).

vendredi, 20 janvier 2012

Pourquoi relire Koestler?


Pourquoi relire Koestler?


Entretien avec Robert Steuckers à l’occasion de ses dernières conférences sur la vie et l’oeuvre d’Arthur Koestler

Propos recueillis par Denis Ilmas

DI: Monsieur Steuckers, vous voilà embarqué dans une tournée de conférences sur la vie et l’oeuvre d’Arthur Koestler, un auteur quasi oublié aujourd’hui, peu (re)lu et dont les livres ne sont plus tous réédités. Pourquoi insistez-vous sur cet auteur, quand commence la seconde décennie du 21ème siècle?

RS: D’abord parce que j’arrive à l’âge des rétrospectives. Non pas pour me faire plaisir, même si cela ne me déplait pas. Mais parce que de nombreuses personnes, plus jeunes que moi, me posent des questions sur mon itinéraire pour le replacer dans l’histoire générale des mouvements non conformistes de la seconde moitié du 20ème siècle et, à mon corps défendant, dans l’histoire, plus limitée dans le temps et l’espace, de la “nouvelle droite”. Commençons par l’aspect rétrospectif: j’ai toujours aimé me souvenir, un peu à la façon de Chateaubriand, de ce moment précis de ma tendre adolescence, quelques jours après que l’on m’ait exhorté à lire des livres “plus sérieux” que les ouvrages généralement destinés à la jeunesse, comme Ivanhoe de Walter Scott ou L’ile au trésor de Stevenson, Les trois mousquetaires de Dumas, Jules Vernes, ou à l’enfance, comme la Comtesse de Ségur (dont mon préféré était et reste Un bon petit diable) et la série du “Club des Cinq” d’Enid Blyton (que je dévorais à l’école primaire, fasciné que j’étais par les innombrables aventures passées derrière des portes dérobées ou des murs lambrisés à panneaux amovibles, dans de mystérieux souterrains ou autres passages secrets). Rien que cette liste de livres lus par un gamin, il y a quarante, quarante-cinq ans, évoque une époque révolue... Mais revenons à ce “moment” précis qui est un petit délice de mes reminiscences: j’avais accepté l’exhortation des adultes et, de toutes les façons, la littérature enfantine et celle de la pré-adolescence ne me satisfaisaient plus.

Koestler m’accompagne maintenant depuis plus de quarante ans

Mais que faire? Sur le chemin de l’école, tout à la fin de la Chaussée de Charleroi, à trente mètres du grand carrefour animé de “Ma Campagne”, il y avait un marchand de journaux qui avait eu la bonne idée de joindre une belle annexe à son modeste commerce et de créer une “centrale du Livre de Poche”. Il y avait, en face et à droite de son comptoir, un mur, qui me paraissait alors incroyablement haut, où s’alignaient tous les volumes de la collection. Je ne savais pas quoi choisir. J’ai demandé un catalogue et, muni de celui-ci, je suis allé trouver le Frère Marcel (Aelbrechts), vieux professeur de français toujours engoncé dans son cache-poussière brunâtre mais cravaté de noir (car un professeur devait toujours porter la cravate à l’époque...), pour qu’il me pointe une dizaine de livres dans le catalogue. Il s’est exécuté avec complaisance, avec ses habituels claquements humides de langue et de maxillaires, par lesquels il ponctuait ses conseils toujours un peu désabusés: l’homme n’avait apparemment plus grande confiance en l’humanité... Dans la liste, il y avait Un testament espagnol d’Arthur Koestler. Je l’ai lu, un peu plus tard, vers l’âge de quinze ans. Et cet ouvrage m’a laissé une très forte impression. Koestler m’accompagne donc depuis plus de quarante ans maintenant.

koestler_un testament espagnol.jpgLe Testament espagnol de Koestler est un chef-d’oeuvre: la déréliction de l’homme, qui attend une exécution promise, les joies de lire dans cette geôle, espace exigu entre deux mondes (celui de la vie, qu’on va quitter, et celui, de l’“après”, inconnu et appréhendé), la fatalité de la mort dans un environnement ibérique, acceptée par les autres détenus, dont “le Poitrinaire”... A quinze ans, une littérature aussi forte laisse des traces. Pendant deux bonnes années, Koestler, pour moi, n’a été que ce prisonnier anglo-judéo-hongrois, pris dans la tourmente de la Guerre Civile espagnole, cet homme d’une gauche apparemment militante, dont on ne discernait plus tellement les contours quand s’évanouissait les vanités face à une mort qu’il pouvait croire imminente.

En 1973, nous nous retrouvâmes en voyage scolaire, sous le plomb du soleil d’août en Grèce. Marcel nous escortait; il avait troqué son éternel cache-poussière contre un costume léger de coton clair; il suivait la troupe de sa démarche molle et avec la mine toujours sceptique, cette fois avec un galurin, type bobo, rivé sur son crâne dégarni. Un jour, alors que nous marchions de l’auberge universitaire, située sur un large boulevard athénien, vers une station de métro pour nous amener à l’Acropole ou à Egine, les “non-conformistes” de la bande —Frédéric Beerens, le futur gynécologue Leyssens, Yves Debay, futur directeur des revues militaires Raids et L’Assaut et votre serviteur— tinrent un conciliabule en dévalant allègrement une rue en pente: outre les livres, où nous trouvions en abondance notre miel, quelle lecture régulière adopter pour consolider notre vision dissidente, qui, bien sûr, n’épousait pas les formes vulgaires et permissives de dissidence en cette ère qui suivait immédiatement Mai 68? Nous connaissions tous le mensuel Europe-Magazine, alors dirigé par Emile Lecerf. La littérature belge de langue française doit quelques belles oeuvres à Lecerf: inconstestablement, son essai sur Montherlant, rédigé dans sa plus tendre jeunesse, mérite le détour et montre quelle a été la réception de l’auteur des Olympiques, surtout chez les jeunes gens, jusqu’aux années de guerre. Plus tard, quand le malheur l’a frappé et que son fils lui a été enlevé par la Camarde, il nous a laissé un témoignage poignant avec Pour un fils mort à vingt ans. Lié d’amitié à Louis Pauwels, Lecerf était devenu le premier correspondant belge de la revue Nouvelle école. Beerens avait repéré une publicité pour cette revue d’Alain de Benoist qui n’avait alors que trente ans et cherchait à promouvoir sa création. En dépit de l’oeuvre littéraire passée d’Emile Lecerf, que nous ne connaissions pas à l’époque, le style journalistique du directeur d’Europe-Magazine nous déplaisait profondément: nous lui trouvions des accents populaciers et lui reprochions trop d’allusions graveleuses. Nous avions soif d’autre chose et peut-être que cette revue Nouvelle école, aux thèmes plus allèchants, allait-elle nous satisfaire?

Koestler et la “nouvelle droite”: le lien? La critique du réductionnisme!

Le conciliabule ambulant d’Athènes a donc décidé de mon sort: depuis cette journée torride d’août 1973 à Athènes, je suis mu par un tropisme qui me tourne immanquablement vers Nouvelle école, même vingt après avoir rompu avec son fondateur. Dès notre retour à Bruxelles, nous nous sommes mis en chasse pour récupérer autant de numéros possible, nous abonner... Beerens et moi, après notre quête qui nous avait menés aux bureaux du magazine, rue Deckens à Etterbeek, nous nous sommes retrouvés un soir à une séance du NEM-Club de Lecerf, structure destinée à servir de point de ralliement pour les lecteurs du mensuel: nouvelle déception... Mais, dans Nouvelle école puis dans les premiers numéros d’Eléments, reçus en novembre 1973, un thème se profilait: celui d’une critique serrée du “réductionnisme”. C’est là que Koestler m’est réapparu. Il n’avait pas été que cet homme de gauche romantique, parti en Espagne pendant la guerre civile pour soutenir le camp anti-franquiste, il avait aussi été un précurseur de la critique des idéologies dominantes. Il leur reprochait de “réduire” les mille et un possibles de l’homme à l’économie (et à la politique) avec le marxisme ou au sexe (hyper-problématisé) avec le freudisme, après avoir été un militant communiste exemplaire et un vulgarisateur des thèses de Sigmund Freud.

A mes débuts dans ce qui allait, cinq ans plus tard, devenir la mouvance “néo-droitiste”, le thème majeur était en quelque sorte la résistance aux diverses facettes du réductionnisme. Nouvelle école et Eléments évoquaient cette déviance de la pensée qui entraînait l’humanité occidentale vers l’assèchement et l’impuissance, comme d’ailleurs —mais nous ne le saurions que plus tard— les groupes Planète de Louis Pauwels l’avaient aussi évoquée, notamment avec l’appui d’un compatriote, toujours méconnu aujourd’hui ou seulement décrié sur le ton de l’hystérie comme “politiquement incorrect”, Raymond de Becker. En entrant directement en contact avec les représentants à Bruxelles de Nouvelle école et du “Groupement de Recherches et d’Etudes sur la Civilisation Européenne” (GRECE) —soit Claude Vanderperren à Auderghem en juin 1974, qui était le nouveau correspondant de Nouvelle école, Dulière à Forest en juillet 1974 qui distribuait les brochures du GRECE, puis Georges Hupin, qui en animait l’antenne à Uccle en septembre 1974— nous nous sommes aperçus effectivement que la critique du réductionnisme était à l’ordre du jour: thème majeur de l’Université d’été du GRECE, dont revenait Georges Hupin; thème tout aussi essentiel de deux “Congrès Internationaux pour la Défense de la Culture”, tenus, le premier, à Turin en janvier 1973, le deuxième à Nice (sous les auspices de Jacques Médecin), en septembre 1974. Ces Congrès avaient été conçus et initiés, puis abandonnés, par Arthur Koestler et Ignazio Silone, dès les débuts de la Guerre Froide, pour faire pièce aux associations dites de “défense des droits de l’homme”, que Koestler, Orwell et Silone percevaient comme noyautées par les communistes. Une seconde équipe les avaient réanimés pour faire face à l’offensive freudo-marxiste de l’ère 68. C’était essentiellement le professeur Pierre Debray-Ritzen qui, au cours de ces deux congrès de 1973 et 1974, dénoncera le réductionnisme freudien. Alain de Benoist, Louis Rougier, Jean Mabire et Dominique Venner y ont participé.

Le colloque bruxellois sur le réductionnisme

Dans la foulée de ce réveil d’une pensée plurielle, dégagée des modes du temps, Georges Hupin, après avoir convaincu les étudiants libéraux de l’ULB, monte en avril 1975 un colloque sur le réductionnisme dans les locaux mêmes de l’Université de Bruxelles. Le thème du réductionnisme séduisait tout particulièrement Jean Omer Piron, biologiste et rédacteur-en-chef, à l’époque, de la revue des loges belges, La Pensée et les Hommes. Dans les colonnes de cette vénérable revue, habituée au plus plat des conformismes laïcards (auquel elle est retourné), Piron avait réussi à placer des articles rénovateurs dans l’esprit du “Congrès pour la Défense de la Culture” et du premier GRECE inspiré par les thèses anti-chrétiennes de Louis Rougier, par ailleurs adepte de l’empirisme logique, veine philosophique en vogue dans le monde anglo-saxon. Le colloque, cornaqué par Hupin, s’est tenu à l’ULB, avec la participation de Jean-Claude Valla (représentant le GRECE), de Piet Tommissen (qui avait participé au Congrès de Nice, avec ses amis Armin Mohler et Ernst Topitsch), de Jean Omer Piron et du Sénateur libéral d’origine grecque Basile Risopoulos. Des étudiants et des militants communistes ou assimilés avaient saboté le système d’alarme, déclenchant un affreux hululement de sirène, couvrant la voix des conférenciers. Alors que j’étais tout malingre à dix-neuf ans, on m’envoie, avec le regretté Alain Derriks (que je ne connaissais pas encore personnellement) et un certain de W., ancien de mon école, pour monter la garde au premier étage et empêcher toute infiltration des furieux. L’ami de W. met immédiatement en place la lance à incendie, bloquant le passage, tandis que je reçois un gros extincteur pour arroser de poudre d’éventuels contrevenants et que Derriks a la présence d’esprit de boucher les systèmes d’alarme à l’aide de papier hygiénique, réduisant le hululement de la sirène à un bourdonnement sourd, pareil à celui d’une paisible ruche au travail. Les rouges tentent alors un assaut directement à l’entrée de l’auditorium: ils sont tenus en échec par deux officiers de l’armée belge, le Commandant M., tankiste du 1er Lancier, et le Commandant M., des chasseurs ardennais, flanqués d’un grand double-mètre de Polonais, qui venait de quitter la Légion Etrangère et qui accompagnait Jean-Claude Valla. Hupin, de la réserve des commandos de l’air, vient vite à la rescousse. Le Commandant des chasseurs ardennais, rigolard et impavide, repoussait tantôt d’un coup d’épaule, tantôt d’un coup de bide, deux politrouks particulièrement excités et sanglés dans de vieilles vestes de cuir. Pire: allumant soudain un gros cigare hollandais, notre bon Ardennais en avalait la fumée et la recrachait aussitôt dans le visage du politrouk en cuir noir qui scandait “Ecrasons dans l’oeuf la peste brune qui s’est réveillée”. Ce slogan vociféré de belle voix se transformait aussitôt en une toux rauque, sous le souffle âcre et nicotiné de notre cher Chasseur. Mais ce ne sont pas ces vaillants militaires qui emportèrent la victoire! Voilà que surgit, furieuse comme un taureau ibérique excité par la muletta, la concierge de l’université, dont le sabotage du système d’alarme avait réveillé le mari malade. Saisissant sa pantoufle rouge à pompon de nylon, la brave femme, pas impressionnée pour un sou, se jette sur le politrouk à moitié étouffé par les effets fumigènes du cigare du Commandant M., et le roue de coups de savate, en hurlant, “Fous le camp, saligaud, t’as réveillé mon mari, va faire le zot ailleurs, bon à rien, smeirlap, rotzak, etc.”. Les deux meneurs, penauds, ordonnent la retraite. L’entrée de l’auditorium est dégagée: les congressistes peuvent sortir sans devoir distribuer des horions ou risquer d’être maxaudés. Essoufflée, la concierge s’effondre sur une chaise, renfile son héroïque pantoufle et Hupin vient la féliciter en la gratifiant d’un magnifique baise-main dans le plus pur style viennois. Elle était rose de confusion.

Jean Omer Piron et “Le cheval dans la locomotive”

Voilà comment j’ai participé à une initiative, inspirée des “Congrès pour la Défense de la Culture”, dont la paternité initiale revient à Arthur Koestler (et à Ignazio Silone). Elle avait aussi pour thème un souci cardinal de la pensée post-politique de Koestler: le réductionnisme. La prolixité du vivant étant l’objet d’étude des biologistes, Jean Omer Piron se posait comme un “libre-penseur”, dans la tradition de l’ULB, c’est-à-dire comme un libre-penseur hostile à tous les dogmes qui freinent l’élan de la connaissance et empêchent justement d’aborder cette prolixité luxuriante du réel et de la vie. Et, de fait, les réductionnismes sont de tels freins: il convient de les combattre même s’ils ont fait illusion, s’ils ont aveuglé les esprits et se sont emparé de l’Université bruxelloise, où l’on est supposé les affronter et les chasser de l’horizon du savoir. Piron inscrivait son combat dans les traces de Koestler: le Koestler des “Congrès” et surtout le Koestler du Cheval dans la locomotive (The Ghost in the Machine), même si, aujourd’hui, les biologistes trouveront sans doute pas mal d’insuffisances scientifiques dans ce livre qui fit beaucoup de bruit à l’époque, en appelant les sciences biologiques à la rescousse contre les nouveaux obscurantismes, soit disant “progressistes”. Koestler fustigeait le réductionnisme et le “ratomorphisme” (l’art de percevoir l’homme comme un rat de laboratoire). Ce recours à la biologie, ou aux sciences médicales, était considéré comme un scandale à l’époque: le charnel risquait de souiller les belles images d’Epinal, véhiculées par les “nuisances idéologiques” (Raymond Ruyer). Les temps ont certes changé. La donne n’est plus la même aujourd’hui. Mais l’obscurantisme est toujours là, sous d’autres oripeaux. Pour la petite histoire, une ou deux semaines après le colloque chahuté mais dûment tenu sur le réductionnisme, les étudiants de l’ULB, dont Beerens et Derriks, ainsi que leurs homologues libéraux, ont vu débouler dans les salles de cours une brochette de “vigilants”, appelant à la vindicte publique contre Piron, campé comme “fasciste notoire”. Beerens, au fond de la salle, rigolait, surtout quand la plupart des étudiants lançaient de vibrants “vos gueules!” ou des “cassez-vous!” aux copains des politrouks dûment défaits par l’arme secrète (la pantoufle à pompon de nylon) de la concierge, mercenaire à son corps défendant d’une peste brune, dont elle ignorait tout mais qui avait été brusquement réveillée, parait-il, par le “fasciste notoire”, disciple de l’ex-communiste pur jus Koestler et rédacteur-en-chef de la bien laïcarde et bien para-maçonnique La Pensée et les Hommes. L’anti-fascisme professionnel sans profession bien définie montrait déjà qu’il ne relevait pas de la politique mais de la psychiatrie.

Ma lecture du “Zéro et l’Infini”

le-zero-et-l-infini-454242-250-400.jpgCe n’est pas seulement par l’effet tonifiant du blanc-seing de Piron, dans le microcosme néo-droitiste bruxellois en gestation à l’époque, que Koestler revenait au premier plan de mes préoccupations. En première année de philologie germanique aux Facultés Universitaires Saint-Louis, il me fallait lire, dès le second trimestre, des romans anglais. Mon programme: Orwell, Huxley, Koestler et D. H. Lawrence. L’un des romans sélectionnés devait être présenté oralement: le sort a voulu que, pour moi, ce fut Darkness at Noon (Le zéro et l’infini), récit d’un procès politique dans le style des grandes purges staliniennes des années 30. Le roman, mettant en scène le “dissident” Roubachov face à ses inquisiteurs, est bien davantage qu’une simple dénonciation du stalinisme par un adepte de la dissidence boukharinienne, zinovievienne ou trotskiste. Toute personne qui entre en politique, entre obligatoirement au service d’un appareil, perclus de rigidités, même si ce n’est guère apparent au départ, pour le croyant, pour le militant, comme l’avoue d’ailleurs Koestler après avoir viré sa cuti. A parti d’un certain moment, le croyant se trouvera en porte-à-faux, tout à la fois face à la politique officielle du parti, face aux promesses faites aux militants de base mais non tenables, face à une réalité, sur laquelle le parti a projeté ses dogmes ou ses idées, mais qui n’en a cure. Le croyant connaîtra alors un profond malaise, il reculera et hésitera, devant les nouveaux ordres donnés, ou voudra mettre la charrue avant les boeufs en basculant dans le zèle révolutionnaire. Il sera soit exclu ou marginalisé, comme aujourd’hui dans les partis dits “démocratiques” ainsi que chez leurs challengeurs (car c’est kif-kif-bourricot!). Dans un parti révolutionnaire comme le parti bolchevique en Russie, la lenteur d’adaptation aux nouvelles directives de la centrale, la fidélité à de vieilles amitiés ou de vieilles traditions de l’époque héroïque de la révolution d’Octobre 1917 ou de la clandestinité pré-révolutionnaire, condamne le “lent” ou le nostalgique à être broyé par une machine en marche qui ne peut ni ralentir ni cesser d’aller de l’avant. La logique des procès communistes voulait que les accusés reconnaissent que leur lenteur et leur nostalgie entravaient le déploiement de la révolution dans le monde, mettait le socialisme construit dans un seul pays (l’URSS) en danger donc, ipso facto, que ces “vertus” de vieux révolutionnaires étaient forcément des “crimes” risquant de ruiner les acquis réellement existants des oeuvres du parti. En conséquence, ces “vertus” relevaient de la complicité avec les ennemis extérieurs de l’Union Soviétique (ou, lors des procès de Prague, de la nouvelle Tchécoslovaquie rouge). Lenteur et nostalgie étaient donc objectivement parlant des vices contre-révolutionnaires. Koestler a vécu de près, au sein des cellules du Komintern, ce type de situation. Pour lui, le pire a été l’entrée en dissidence, à son corps défendant, de Willi Münzenberg, communiste allemand chargé par le Komintern d’organiser depuis son exil parisien une résistance planétaire contre le fascisme et le nazisme. Pour y parvenir, Münzenberg avait reçu d’abord l’ordre de créer des “fronts populaires”, avec les socialistes et les sociaux-démocrates, comme en Espagne et en France. Mais la centrale moscovite change d’avis et pose trotskistes et socialistes comme des ennemis sournois de la révolution: Münzenberg entre en disgrâce, parce qu’il ne veut pas briser l’appareil qu’il a patiemment construit à Paris et tout recommencer à zéro; il refuse d’aller s’expliquer à Moscou, de crainte de subir le sort de son compatriote communiste allemand Neumann, épuré en Union Soviétique (sa veuve, Margarete Buber-Neumann, rejoindra Koestler dans son combat anti-communiste d’après guerre). Münzenberg a refusé d’obéir, de s’aligner sans pour autant passer au service de ses ennemis nationaux-socialistes. Dans le roman Darkness at Noon/Le zéro et l’infini, Roubachov n’est ni un désobéissant ni un traître: il proteste de sa fidélité à l’idéal révolutionnaire. Mais suite au travail de sape des inquisiteurs, il finit par admettre que ses positions, qu’il croit être de fidélité, sont une entorse à la bonne marche de la révolution mondiale en cours, qu’il est un complice objectif des ennemis de l’intérieur et de l’extérieur et que son élimination sauvera peut-être de l’échec final la révolution, à laquelle il a consacré toute sa vie et tous ses efforts. (Sur l’itinéraire de Willi Münzenberg, on se rapportera utilement aux pages que lui consacre François Furet dans Le passé d’une illusion – Essai sur l’idée communiste au XX° siècle, Laffont/Calmann-Lévy, 1995).

L’anthropologie communiste: une image incomplète de l’homme

Koestler s’insurge contre ce mécanisme qui livre la liberté de l’homme, celle de s’engager politiquement et celle de se rebeller contre des conditions d’existence inacceptables, à l’arbitraire des opportunités passagères (ou qu’il croit passagères). L’homme réel, complet et non réduit, n’est pas le pantin mutilé et muet que devient le révolutionnaire établi, qui exécute benoîtement les directives changeantes de la centrale ou qui confesse humblement ses fautes s’il est, d’une façon ou d’une autre, de manière parfaitement anodine ou bien consciente, en porte-à-faux face à de nouveaux ukases, qui, eux, sont en contradiction avec le plan premier ou le style initial de la révolution en place et en marche. Koestler finira par sortir de toutes les cangues idéologiques ou politiques. Il mettra les errements du communisme sur le compte de son anthropologie implicite, reposant sur une image incomplète de l’homme, réduit à un pion économique. Dans la première phase de son histoire, la “nouvelle droite” en gestation avait voulu, avec Louis Pauwels, porte-voix de l’anthropologie alternative des groupes Planète, restaurer une vision non réductionniste de l’homme.

Ma présentation avait déplu à ce professeur de littérature anglaise des Facultés Saint-Louis, un certain Engelborghs aujourd’hui décédé, tué au volant d’un cabriolet sans doute trop fougueux et mal protégé en ses superstructures. Je n’ai jamais su avec précision ce qui lui déplaisait chez Koestler (et chez Orwell), sauf peut-être qu’il n’aimait pas ce que l’on a nommé par la suite les “political novels” ou la veine dite “dystopique”: toutefois, il ne me semblait pas être l’un de ces hallucinés qui tiennent à leurs visions utopiques comme à toutes leurs autres illusions. Pourtant, je persiste et je signe, jusqu’à mon grand âge: Koestler doit être lu et relu, surtout son Testament espagnol et son Zéro et l’Infini. Après les remarques dénigrantes et infondées d’Engelborghs, je vais abandonner un peu Koestler, sauf peut-être pour son livre sur la peine de mort, écrit avec Albert Camus dans les années 50 en réaction à la pendaison, en Angleterre, de deux condamnés ne disposant apparemment pas de toutes leurs facultés mentales, et pour des crimes auxquels on aurait pu facilement trouver des circonstances atténuantes. Force est toutefois de constater que, dans ce livre-culte des opposants à la peine de mort, on lira que les régimes plus ou moins autocratiques, ceux de l’Obrigkeitsstaat centre-européen, ont bien moins eu recours à la potence ou à la guillotine que les “vertuistes démocraties” occidentales, la France et l’Angleterre. Le paternalisme conservateur induit moins de citoyens au crime, ou se montre plus clément en cas de faute, que le libéralisme, où chacun doit se débrouiller pour ne pas tomber dans la misère noire et se voit condamné sans pitié en cas de faux pas et d’arrestation. Le livre de Koestler et Camus sur la peine de mort réfute, en filigrane, la prétention à la vertu qu’affichent si haut et si fort les “démocraties” occidentales. Ce sont elles, comme dirait Foucault, qui surveillent et punissent le plus.

Dans les rangs du cercle de la première “nouvelle droite” bruxelloise, la critique du réductionnisme et la volonté de rétablir une anthropologie plus réaliste et dégagée des lubies idéologiques du 19ème siècle quittera l’orbite de Koestler et de son Cheval dans la locomotive, pour se plonger dans l’oeuvre du Prix Nobel Konrad Lorenz, notamment son ouvrage de vulgarisation, intitulé Les huit péchés capitaux de notre civilisation (Die acht Todsünde der zivilisierten Menschheit), où le biologiste annonce, pour l’humanité moderne, un risque réel de “mort tiède”, si les régimes politiques en place ne tiennent pas compte des véritables ressorts naturels de l’être humain. Nouvelle école ira d’ailleurs interviewer longuement Lorenz dans son magnifique repère autrichien. Plus tard, en dehors des cercles “néo-droitistes” en voie de constitution, Alexandre Soljénitsyne éclipsera Koestler, dès la seconde moitié des années 70. Avec le dissident russe, l’anti-communisme cesse d’être un tabou dans les débats politiques. Je retrouverai Koestler, en même temps qu’Orwell et Soljénitsyne, à la fin de la première décennie du 21ème siècle pour servir, à titre de conférencier, les bonnes oeuvres de mon ami genevois, Maitre Pascal Junod, féru de littérature et grand lecteur devant l’éternel.

DI: Justement, je reviens à ma question, quel regard doit-on jeter sur la trajectoire d’Arthur Koestler aujourd’hui?

RS: Arthur Koestler est effectivement une “trajectoire”, une flèche qui traverse les périodes les plus effervescentes du 20ème siècle: il le dit lui-même car le titre du premier volume de son autobiographie s’intitule, en anglais, Arrow in the Blue (en français: La corde raide). Enfant interessé aux sciences physiques, le très jeune Koestler s’imaginait suivre la trajectoire d’une flèche traversant l’azur pour le mener vers un monde idéal. Mais dans la trajectoire qu’il a effectivement suivie, si on l’examine avec toute l’attention voulue, rien n’est simple. Koestler nait à Budapest sous la double monarchie austro-hongroise, dans une ambiance impériale et bon enfant, dans un monde gai, tourbillonnant allègrement au son des valses de Strauss. Il suivra, à 9 ans, avec son père, le défilé des troupes magyars partant vers le front de Serbie en 1914, acclamant les soldats du contingent, sûrs de revenir vite après une guerre courte, fraîche et joyeuse. Mais ce monde va s’effondrer en 1918: le très jeune Koestler penche du côté de la dictature rouge de Bela Kun, parce que le gouvernement libéral lui a donné le pouvoir pour qu’il éveille le sentiment national des prolétaires bolchévisants et appelle ainsi les Hongrois du menu peuple à chasser les troupes roumaines envoyées par la France pour fragmenter définitivement la masse territoriale de l’Empire des Habsbourgs. Mais ses parents décident de déménager à Vienne, de quitter la Hongrie détachée de l’Empire. A Vienne, il adhère aux Burschenschaften (les Corporations étudiantes) sionistes car les autres n’acceptent pas les étudiants d’origine juive. Il s’y frotte à un sionisme de droite, inspiré par l’idéologue Max Nordau, théoricien d’une vision très nietzschéenne de la décadence. Koestler va vouloir jouer le jeu sioniste jusqu’au bout: il abandonne tout, brûle son livret d’étudiant et part en Palestine. Il y découvrira l’un des premiers kibboutzim, un véritable nid de misère au fin fond d’une vallée aride. Pour les colons juifs qui s’y accrochaient, c’était une sorte de nouveau phalanstérisme de gauche, regroupant des croyants d’une mouture nouvelle, attendant une parousie laïque et agrarienne sur une terre censée avoir appartenu à leurs ancêtres judéens.

Ensuite, nous avons le Koestler grand journaliste de la presse berlinoise qui appuie la République de Weimar et l’idéologie d’un Thomas Mann. Mais cette presse, aux mains de la famille Ullstein, famille israélite convertie au protestantisme prussien, basculera vers la droite et finira par soutenir les nationaux-socialistes. Entretemps, Koestler vire au communisme —parce qu’il n’y a rien d’autre à faire— et devient un militant exemplaire du Komintern, à Berlin d’abord puis à Paris en exil. Il fait le voyage en URSS et devient un bon petit soldat du Komintern, même si ce qu’il a vu entre l’Ukraine affamée par l’Holodomor et la misère pouilleuse du lointain Turkménistan soviétique induit une certaine dose de scepticisme dans son coeur.

Sionisme et communisme: de terribles simplifications

Ce scepticisme ne cessera de croître: finalement, pour Koestler, la faiblesse humaine, le besoin de certitudes claires, l’horreur de la complexité font accepter les langages totalitaires, la tutelle d’un parti tout-puissant, remplaçant la transcendance divine tuée ou évacuée depuis la “mort de Dieu”. Les colons sionistes reniaient les facultés juives —du moins de la judaïté urbanisée, germanisée ou slavisée, d’idéologie libérale ou sociale-démocrate— d’adaptation plastique et constante à des mondes différents, ressuscitaient l’hébreu sous une forme moderne et simplifiée, nouvelle langue sans littérature et donc sans ancrage temporel, et abandonnaient l’allemand et le russe, autrefois véhicules d’émancipation du ghetto. Le sionisme menait à une terrible simplification, à l’expurgation de bonnes qualités humaines. Le communisme également.

Contrairement à l’époque héroïque de ma découverte de Koestler, où nous ne bénéficions pas de bonnes biographies, nous disposons aujourd’hui d’excellents ouvrages de référence: celui du professeur américain Michael Scammell, également auteur d’un monumental ouvrage sur Soljénitsyne, et celui de l’avocat français Michel Laval (Michael Scammell, Koestler – The Indispensable Intellectual, Faber & Faber, 2009; Michel Laval, L’homme sans concessions – Arthur Koestler et son siècle, Calmann-Lévy, 2005). Tous deux resituent bien Koestler dans le contexte politique de son époque mais, où ils me laissent sur ma faim, c’est quand ils n’abordent pas les raisons intellectuelles et quand ils ne dressent pas la liste des lectures ou des influences qui poussent le quadragénaire Koestler à changer de cap et à abandonner complètement toutes ses spéculations politiques dans les années 50, immédiatement après la parenthèse maccarthiste aux Etats-Unis, pays où il a longuement séjourné, sans vraiment s’y sentir aussi à l’aise que dans son futur cottage gallois ou dans son chalet autrichien. Certes, Koestler lui-même n’a jamais donné une oeuvre ou un essai bien balancé sur son itinéraire scientifique, post-politique. Les deux volumes de son autobiographie, Arrow in the Blue (La corde raide) et Invisible Writing (Hiéroglyphes) s’arrêtent justement vers le milieu des années 50. Ces deux volumes constituent un bilan et un adieu. J’en conseille vivement la lecture pour comprendre certaines facettes du 20ème siècle, notamment relative à la guerre secrète menée par le Komintern en Europe occidentale.

Agent soviétique puis agent britannique?

Koestler se lit avec intérêt justement pour le recul qu’il prend vis-à-vis des idéologies auxquelles il a adhéré avec un enthousiasme naïf, comme des millions d’autres Européens. Mais on ne saurait évidemment adhérer à ces idéologies, sioniste ou communiste, ni partager les sentiments, parfois malsains, qui l’ont conduit à s’y conformer et à s’y complaire. Koestler a été un agent du Komintern mais, à part le long épisode dans le sillage de Münzenberg, d’autres facettes sont traîtées trop brièvement: je pense notamment à son travail au sein de l’agence de presse géopolitique, “Pressgeo”, dirigée à Zürich par le Hongrois Rados et pendant soviétique/communiste des travaux de l’école allemande d’Haushofer. Koestler lui-même et ses biographes sont très discrets sur cette initiative, dont tous louent la qualité intrinsèque, en dépit de son indéniable marquage communiste. Koestler a donc été un agent soviétique. Il sera aussi, on s’en doute, un agent britannique, surtout en Palestine, où il se rendra deux ou trois fois pour faire accepter les plans britanniques de partition du pays aux sionistes de gauche et de droite (avec qui il était lié via l’idéologue et activiste de droite Vladimir Jabotinski, père spirituel des futures droites israéliennes). Ses souvenirs sont donc intéressants pour comprendre les sentiments et les réflexes à l’oeuvre dans la question judéo-israélienne et dans les gauches d’Europe centrale. On ne peut affirmer que Koestler soit devenu un agent américain, pour la bonne raison qu’à New York il fut nettement moins “employé”’ que d’autres au début de la Guerre Froide, qu’on le laissait moisir dans sa maison américaine quasi vide et que sa carrière aux Etats-Unis n’a guère donné de fruits. Le maccarthisme se méfiait de cet ancien agent du Komintern. Et Koestler, lui, estimait que le maccarthisme était dénué de nuances et agissait exactement avec la même hystérie que les propagandistes soviétiques, quand ils tentaient de fabriquer des collusions ou d’imaginer des complots.

Koestler et la France

516E%2B8cX4wL.jpegReste à évoquer le rapport entre Koestler et la France. Ce pays est, dans l’entre-deux-guerres, le refuge idéal des antifascistes et antinazis de toutes obédiences. Koestler y pérègrine entre Paris et la Côte d’Azur. La France est la patrie de la révolution et Koestler se perçoit comme un révolutionnaire, qui poursuit l’idéal 150 ans après la prise de la Bastille, devant des ennemis tenaces, apparemment plus coriaces que les armées en dentelles de la Prusse et de l’Autriche à Valmy ou que les émigrés de Coblence. Cet engouement pour la France s’effondre en octobre 1939: considéré comme sujet hongrois et comme journaliste allemand, Koestler est arrêté et interné dans un camp de concentration en lisière des Pyrénées. Il y restera quatre mois. Cette mésaventure, ainsi que sa seconde arrestation en mai 1940, son évasion et son périple dans la France en débâcle, généreront un deuxième chef-d’oeuvre de littérature carcérale et autobiographique, Scum of the Earth (La lie de la Terre). Cet ouvrage est une dénonciation de l’inhumanité du système concentrationnaire de la Troisième République, de son absence totale d’hygiène et un témoignage poignant sur la mort et la déréliction de quelques antifascistes allemands, italiens et espagnols dans ces camps sordides. Avant 1945, la littérature carcérale/concentrationnaire dénonce, non pas le Troisième Reich, mais la Troisième République. Il y a Koestler, qui édite son livre en Angleterre et donne à l’allié français vaincu une très mauvaise presse, mais il y a, en Belgique, les souvenirs des internés du Vernet, arrêtés par la Sûreté belge en mai 1940 et livrés aux soudards français qui les accompagneront en les battant et en les humiliant jusqu’à la frontière espagnole. Eux aussi iront crever de faim, rongés par une abondante vermine, en bordure des Pyrénées. Ce scandale a été largement exploité en Belgique pendant les premiers mois de la deuxième occupation allemande, avec les témoignages de Léon Degrelle (Ma guerre en prison), du rexiste Serge Doring (L’école de la douleur – Souvenirs d’un déporté politique), des militants flamands René Lagrou (Wij Verdachten) et Ward Hermans. La description des lieux par Doring correspond bien à celle que nous livre Koestler. L’un de leurs compagnons d’infortune des trains fantômes partis de Bruxelles, le communiste saint-gillois Lucien Monami n’aura pas l’occasion de rédiger le récit de ses malheurs: il sera assassiné par des soldats français ivres à Abbeville, aux côtés des solidaristes Van Severen et Rijckoort. La lie de la terre rend Koestler impopulaire en France dans l’immédiat après-guerre. En effet, cet ouvrage prouve que le dérapage concentrationnaire n’est pas une exclusivité du Troisième Reich ou de l’URSS stalinienne, que les antifascistes et les rescapés des Brigades Internationales ou des milices anarchistes ibériques antifranquistes ont d’abord été victimes du système concentrationnaire français avant de l’être du système national-socialiste ou, éventuellement, stalinien, que la revendication d’humanisme de la “République” est donc un leurre, que la “saleté” et le manque total d’hygiène reprochés aux services policiers et pénitentiaires français sont attestés par un témoignage bien charpenté et largement lu chez les alliés d’Outre-Manche à l’époque. Les choses s’envenimeront dans les années chaudes et quasi insurrectionnelles de 1947-48, où Koestler évoque la possibilité d’une prise de pouvoir communiste en France et appelle à soutenir De Gaulle. Dans ses mémoires, il décrit Jean-Paul Sartre et Simone de Beauvoir, avec leur entourage, en des propos peu amènes, se gaussant grassement de leurs dogmatismes, de leurs manies, de leur laideur et de leur ivrognerie. La rupture a lieu définitivement en 1949, quand Koestler participe à un recueil collectif, Le Dieu des Ténèbres, publié dans une collection dirigée par Raymond Aron. La gauche française, communistes en tête, mène campagne contre le “rénégat” Koestler et surtout contre la publication en traduction française de Darkness at Noon (Le Zéro et l’Infini). Pire: l’impression du recueil d’articles de Koestler, intitulé Le Yogi et le commissaire, est suspendue sur ordre du gouvernement français pour “inopportunisme politique”! Une vengeance pour La lie de la Terre?

En Belgique en revanche, où l’emprise communiste sur les esprits est nettement moindre (malgré la participation communiste à un gouvernement d’après-guerre, la “communisation” d’une frange de la démocatie chrétienne et les habituelles influences délétères de Paris), Koestler et Orwell, explique le chroniqueur Pierre Stéphany, sont les auteurs anglophones les plus lus (en 1946, le livre le plus vendu en Belgique est Darkness at Noon). Ils confortent les options anticommunistes d’avant-guerre du public belge et indiquent, une fois de plus, que les esprits réagissent toujours différemment à Bruxelles et à Paris. En effet, la lecture des deux volumes autobiographiques de Koestler permettent de reconstituer le contexte d’avant-guerre: Münzenberg (et son employé Koestler) avaient été en faveur de l’Axe Paris-Prague-Moscou, évoqué en 1935; cette option de la diplomatie française contraint le Roi à dénoncer les accords militaires franco-belges et à reprendre le statut de neutralité, tandis que, dans l’opinion publique, bon nombre de gens se disent: “Plutôt Berlin que Moscou!” (fin des années 70, les émissions du journaliste de la télévision flamande, Maurits De Wilde, expliquaient parfaitement ce glissement). Attitude qui reste encore et toujours incomprise en France aujourd’hui, notamment quand on lit les ouvrages d’une professeur toulousaine, Annie Lacroix-Riz (in: Le Vatican, l’Europe et le Reich de la Première Guerre mondiale à la Guerre Froide, Armand Colin, Paris, 1996 et réédité depuis). L’idéologie de cette dame, fort acariâtre dans ses propos, semble se résumer à un mixte indigeste de républicanisme laïcard complètement abscons, de sympathies communisto-résistantialistes et de germanophobie maurrasienne. Bon appétit pour ingurgiter une telle soupe! Les chapitres consacrés à la Belgique sont d’une rare confusion et ne mentionnent même pas les travaux du Prof. Jean Vanwelkenhuizen qui a démontré que l’éventualité d’un Axe Paris-Prague-Moscou a certes contribué à réinstaurer le statut de neutralité de la Belgique mais que d’autres raisons avaient poussé le Roi et son entourage à changer leur fusil d’épaule: les militaires belges estimaient que la tactique purement défensive du système Maginot, foncièrement irréaliste à l’heure du binôme char/avion et ne tenant aucun compte des visions exprimées par le stratégiste britannique Liddell-Hart (que de Gaulle avait manifestement lu); le ministère de l’intérieur jugeait problématique l’attitude de la presse francophile qui ne tenait aucun compte des intérêts spécifiques du pays; et, enfin, last but not least, la volonté royale de sauver la civilisation européenne des idéologies et des pratiques délétères véhiculées certes par les idéologies totalitaires mais aussi par le libéralisme manchestérien anglais et par le républicanisme et “révolutionnisme institutionalisé” de la France. Aucune de ces recettes ne semblait bonne pour restaurer une Europe conviviale, respectueuse des plus belles réalisations de son passé.

Dans La lie de la terre, les Belges de l’immédiat après-guerre ont dû lire avec jubilation un portrait de Paul Reynaud, décrit comme un “tatar en miniature”; “il semblait, poursuit Koestler (p. 144), que quelque part à l’intérieur de lui-même se dissimulait une dynamo de poche qui le faisait sautiller (jerk) et vibrer énergiquement”; bref, un sinistre bouffon, un gnome grimaçant, animé par des “gestes d’automate”. Braillard vulgaire et glapissant, Paul Reynaud, après ses tirades crapuleuses contre Léopold III, a été le personnage le plus honni de Belgique en 1940: son discours, fustigeant le Roi, a eu des retombées fâcheuses sur un grand nombre de réfugiés civils innocents, maltraités en tous les points de l’Hexagone par une plèbe gauloise rendue indiciblement méchante par les fulminations de Reynaud. Le ressentiment contre la France a été immense dans les premières années de guerre (et fut le motif secret de beaucoup de nouveaux germanophiles) et est resté durablement ancré chez ceux qui avaient vécu l’exode de 1940. Après les hostilités et la capitulation de l’Allemagne, la situation insurrectionnelle en France en 1947-48 inquiète une Belgique officielle, secouée par la répression des collaborations et par la question royale. Une France rouge verra-t-elle le jour et envahira-t-elle le territoire comme lors de la dernière invasion avortée de Risquons-Tout en 1848, où les grenadiers de Léopold I ont su tenir en échec les bandes révolutionnaires excitées par Lamartine? Idéologiquement, les deux pays vont diverger: en France, un pôle politique communiste se durcit, dès le lendemain de la seconde guerre mondiale, et va se perpétuer quasiment jusqu’à la chute de l’Union Soviétique, tandis qu’en Belgique, le mouvement va s’étioler pour vivoter jusqu’en 1985, année où il n’aura plus aucune représentation parlementaire. Julien Lahaut, figure de proue du parti communiste belge, qui avait été chercher tous les prisonniers politiques croupissant dans les camps de concentration français des Pyrénées (communistes, rexistes, anarchistes et nationalistes flamands sans aucune distinction), sera assassiné par un mystérieux commando, après avoir été accusé (à tort ou à raison?) d’avoir crié “Vive la république!” au moment où le jeune Roi Baudouin prêtait son serment constitutionnel en 1951. Le communisme n’a jamais fait recette en Belgique: à croire que la leçon de Koestler avait été retenue.

De Koestler au post-sionisme

253604-L.jpgAujourd’hui, il faut aussi relire Koestler quand on aborde la question judéo-israélienne. Les séjours de Koestler en Palestine, à l’époque du sionisme balbutiant, ont conduit, en gros, à une déception. Ce sionisme, idéologiquement séduisant dans les Burschenschaften juives de Vienne, où le niveau intellectuel était très élevé, s’avérait décevant et caricatural dans les kibboutzim des campagnes galiléennes ou judéennes et dans les nouvelles villes émergentes du Protectorat britannique de Palestine en voie de judaïsation. Même si Koestler fut le premier inventeur de mots croisés en hébreu pour une feuille juive locale, l’option en faveur de cette langue reconstituée lui déplaisait profondément: il estimait qu’ainsi, le futur citoyen palestinien de confession ou d’origine juive se détachait des vieilles cultures européennes, essentiellement celles de langues germaniques ou slaves, qui disposaient d’une riche littérature et d’une grande profondeur temporelle, tout en n’adoptant pas davantage l’arabe. Ce futur citoyen judéo-palestinien néo-hébraïsant adoptait une sorte d’esperanto largement incompris dans le reste du monde: selon le raisonnement de Koestler, le juif, en s’immergeant jusqu’à l’absurde dans l’idéologie sioniste, devenue caricaturale, cessait d’être un être passe-partout, un cosmopolite bon teint, à l’aise dans tous les milieux cultivés de la planète. L’hébraïsation transformait l’immigré juif, cherchant à échapper aux ghettos, aux pogroms ou aux persécutions, en un plouc baraguinant et marginalisé sur une planète dont il n’allait plus comprendre les ressorts. Plus tard, dans les années 70, Koestler rédigera La treizième tribu un ouvrage ruinant le mythe sioniste du “retour”, en affirmant que la masse des juifs russes et roumains n’avaient aucune racine en Palestine mais descendaient d’une tribu turco-tatar, les Khazars, convertie au judaïsme au haut moyen âge. Poser le mythe du “retour” comme fallacieux est l’axiome majeur de la nouvelle tradition “post-sioniste” en Israël aujourd’hui, sévèrement combattue par les droites israéliennes, dont elle ruine le mythe mobilisateur.

Beaucoup de pain sur la planche pour connaître les tenants et aboutissants des propagandes “américanosphériques”

Reste à analyser un chapitre important dans la biographie de Koestler: son attitude pendant la Guerre Froide. Il sera accusé d’être un “agent des trusts” par les communistes français, il adoptera une attitude incontestablement belliciste à la fin des années 40 au moment où les communistes tchèques, avec l’appui soviétique, commettent le fameux “coup de Prague” en 1948, presque au même moment où s’amorcent le blocus de Berlin, métropole isolée au milieu de la zone d’occupation soviétique en Allemagne. Koestler ne sera cependant pas un jusqu’au-boutiste du bellicisme: il s’alignera assez vite sur la notion de “coexistence”, dégoûté par le schématisme abrupt des démarches maccarthistes. Cependant, sa présence, incontournable, dans la mobilisation d’intellectuels “pour la liberté” révèle un continent de l’histoire des idées qui n’a été que fort peu étudié et mis en cartes jusqu’ici. Ce continent est celui, justement, d’un espace intellectuel sollicité en permanence par certains services occidentaux, surtout américains, pour mobiliser l’opinion et les médias contre les initiatives soviétiques d’abord, autres ensuite. Ces services, dont l’OSS puis la CIA, vont surtout tabler sur une gauche non communiste voire anticommuniste, avec des appuis au sein des partis sociaux démocrates, plutôt que sur une droite légitimiste ou radicale. C’est dans cet espace intellectuel-là, auquel Koestler s’identifie, qu’il faut voir les racines de la “nouvelle philosophie” en France et de la “political correctness” partout dans la sphère occidentale, ainsi que des gauches “ex-extrêmes”, dont les postures anti-impérialistes et les velléités auto-gestionnaires ont été dûment expurgées au fil du temps, pour qu’elles deviennent docilement des porte-voix bellicistes en faveur des buts de guerre des Etats-Unis. Un chercheur allemand a inauguré l’exploration inédite de cet espace: Tim B. Müller (Humboldt-Universität, Berlin) dans son ouvrage Krieger und Gelehrte – Herbert Marcuse und die Denksysteme im Kalten Kriege; ce travail est certes centré sur la personnalité et l’oeuvre du principal gourou philosophique de l’idéologie soixante-huitarde en Allemagne et en France (et aussi, partiellement, des groupes Planète de Louis Pauwels!); il relie ensuite cette oeuvre philosophique d’envergure et la vulgate qui en a découlé lors des événements de 67-68 en Europe aux machinations des services secrets américains. La personnalité de Koestler est maintes fois évoquée dans ce livre copieux de 736 pages. Par ailleurs, le Dr. Stefan Meining, de la radio bavaroise ARD, et, en même temps que lui, l’Américain Ian Johnson, Prix Pulitzer et professeur à la TU de Berlin, ont chacun publié un ouvrage documenté sur la prise de contrôle de la grande mosquée de Munich par Said Ramadan à la fin des années 50.

En s’emparant des leviers de commande de cette importante mosquée d’Europe centrale, Ramadan, affirment nos deux auteurs, éliminait de la course les premiers imams allemands, issus des bataillons turkmènes ou caucasiens de l’ancienne Wehrmacht, fidèles à une certaine amitié euro-islamique, pour la remplacer par un islamisme au service des Etats-Unis, via la personnalité d’agents de l’AMCOMLIB, comme Robert H. Dreher et Robert F. Kelley. Ceux-ci parviendront même à retourner le Grand Mufti de Jérusalem, initialement favorable à une alliance euro-islamique. Les Américains de l’AMCOMLIB, largement financés, éclipseront totalement les Allemands, dirigés par le turcologue Gerhard von Mende, actif depuis l’ère nationale-socialiste et ayant repris du service sous la Bundesrepublik. La mise hors jeu de von Mende, impliquait également le retournement d’Ibrahim Gacaoglu, de l’Ouzbek Rusi Nasar et du Nord-Caucasien Said Shamil. Seuls l’historien ouzbek Baymirza Hayit, le chef daghestanais Ali Kantemir et l’imam ouzbek Nurredin Namangani resteront fidèles aux services de von Mende mais sans pouvoir imposer leur ligne à la mosquée de Munich. L’étude simultanée des services, qui ont orchestré les agitations gauchistes et créé un islamisme pro-américain, permettrait de voir clair aujourd’hui dans les rouages de la nouvelle propagande médiatique, notamment quand elle vante un islam posé comme “modéré” ou les mérites d’une armée rebelle syrienne, encadrée par des talibans (non modérés!) revenus de Libye et financés par l’Emirat du Qatar, pour le plus grand bénéfice d’Obama, désormais surnommé “Bushbama”. Il est temps effectivement que nos contemporains voient clair dans ces jeux médiatiques où apparaissent des hommes de gauche obscurantistes et néo-staliniens (poutinistes!), auxquels on oppose une bonne gauche néo-philosophique à la Bernard-Henri Lévy ou à la Finkelkraut ou même à la Cohn-Bendit; des mauvais islamistes afghans, talibanistes et al-qaïdistes, mais de bons extrémistes musulmans libyens (néo-talibanistes) ou qataris face à de méchants dictateurs laïques, de bons islamistes modérés et de méchants baathistes, une bonne extrême-droite russe qui manifeste contre le méchant Poutine et une très méchante extrême-droite partout ailleurs dans le monde occidental, etc. Les médias, “chiens de garde du système”, comme le dit Serge Halimi, jettent en permanence la confusion dans les esprits. On le voit: nos cercles non-conformistes ont encore beaucoup de pain sur la planche pour éclairer nos contemporains, manipulés et hallucinés par la propagande de l’américanosphère, du soft power made in USA.

Il ne s’agit donc pas de lire Koestler comme un bigot lirait la vie d’un saint (ou d’un mécréant qui arrive au repentir) mais de saisir le passé qu’il évoque en long et en large pour comprendre le présent, tout en sachant que la donne est quelque peu différente.

(propos recueillis à Bruxelles, décembre 2011/janvier 2012).

lundi, 16 janvier 2012

NRH: les intellectuels et la gauche dans la collaboration

Le nouveau numéro de la NRH :


dossier-581.jpgPourquoi les années 40 continuent-elles de fasciner à ce point ? Il faut sans doute tenir compte de leur présence récurrente dans les médias. Mais on peut penser aussi que pèse inconsciemment dans les mémoires le concentré chronologique de ces années-là. D’un jour à l’autre, la vision de la veille était bouleversée par le mouvement des armées en Russie ou en Asie. Dès que l’on examine d’un peu près le destin des acteurs français, ce qui frappe c’est à quel point il était imprévisible. Qui, en 1938, aurait imaginé le destin ultérieur du maréchal Pétain, celui de Pierre Laval, celui de Marcel Déat, celui de Jacques Doriot et de tant d’autres ? Et parmi ces destins, celui des intellectuels et des hommes de gauche engagés dans la Collaboration est certainement ce qui déconcerte le plus. Mais c’est une réalité en grande partie masquée. Le dossier que nous avons réalisé vise à révéler tout ce pan occulté de la période.


Au cours d’un entretien recueilli par Pauline Lecomte, Dominique Venner, auteur d’une Histoire de la Collaboration réputée, trace les contours réels de cette histoire qui ne se confond pas avec celle de Vichy (p. 34). Côté allemand, l’acteur politique principal était Otto Abetz. Charles Vaugeois en brosse le portrait réel et souligne ses intentions méconnues (p. 38). Côté français, on l’ignore souvent, la Collaboration s’est principalement nourrie de la gauche pacifiste et socialiste, ce que montre ici Francis Bergeron (p. 40). Le rôle de l’intelligentsia fut également prépondérant, favorisé par un acteur allemand trop oublié, Karl Epting, l’un des rares admirateurs germaniques de Céline (p. 44). Dans ce dossier, nous ne pouvions pas ignorer le personnage capital et fascinant que fut Drieu la Rochelle, ce que fait Julien Hervier, l’universitaire le plus averti à son sujet (p. 46). C’est un destin tout différent et très original que révèle Alain de Benoist en traçant le portrait de Georges Soulès, futur René Abellio (p. 50). Après quoi Antoine Baudoin propose un impressionnant Dictionnaire des nombreux hommes politiques de gauche engagés dans la Collaboration (p. 53). Et pour conclure, Philippe d’Hugues brosse un tableau très complet de ce que fut la scène littéraire au cours d’années qui ne furent pas noires pour tous (p. 58).

mardi, 10 janvier 2012

The Moscow Trials in Historical Context

The Moscow Trials in Historical Context

Kerry Bolton

Ex: http://www.wermodandwermod.com/


There is a subject that generally seems to be “no go” among academe: a critical attitude towards Trotsky and a less than slanderous attitude towards his nemesis, Stalin. Submission of papers on the subject is more likely to elicit responses of the type one would expect from outraged Trotskyite diehards than those of a scholarly critique. However, the battle between Trotsky and Stalin is not just one of theoretical interest, as it laid the foundations for outlooks on Russia and strategies in regard to the Cold War. The legacy continues to shape the present era, even after the implosion of the USSR. The following paper is intended to consider the Stalinist allegations against Trotsky et al in the context of history, and how that history continues to unfold.


Trotsky had received comparatively good press in the West, especially since World War II, when the wartime alliance with Stalin turned sour. Trotsky has been published by major corporations,[1] and is generally considered the grandfatherly figure of Bolshevism.[2] “Uncle Joe,” on the other hand, was quickly demonized as a tyrant, and the “gallant Soviet Army” that stopped the Germans at Stalingrad was turned into a threat to world freedom, when in the aftermath of World War II the USSR did not prove compliant in regard to US plans for a post-war world order.[3] However, even before the rift, basically from the beginning of the Moscow Trials, Western academics such as Professor John Dewey condemned the proceedings as a brutal travesty. The Moscow Trials are here reconsidered within the context of the historical circumstances and of the judicial system that Trotsky and other defendants had themselves played prominent roles in establishing.

A reconsideration of the Moscow Trials of the defendants Trotsky et al is important for more reasons than the purely academic. Since the scuttling of the USSR and of the Warsaw Pact by a combination of internal betrayal and of subversion undertaken by a myriad of US-based “civil societies” and NGOs backed by the likes of the George Soros network, Freedom House, National Endowment for Democracy, and dozens of other such entities,[4] Russia – after the Yeltsin interregnum of subservience to globalisation –has sought to recreate herself as a power that offers a multipolar rather than a unipolar world. A reborn Russia and the reshaping of a new geopolitical bloc which responds to Russian leadership, is therefore of importance to all those throughout the world who are cynical about the prospect of a “new world order” dominated by “American ideals.” US foreign policy analysts, “statesmen” (sic), opinion moulders, and lobbyists still have nightmares about Stalin and the possibility of a Stalin-type figure arising who will re-establish Russia’s position in the world. For example, Putin, a “strongman” type in Western-liberal eyes at least, has been ambivalent about the role of Stalin in history, such ambivalence, rather than unequivocal rejection, being sufficient to make oligarchs in the USA and Russia herself, nervous. Hence, The Sunday Times, commenting on the Putin phenomena being dangerously reminiscent of Stalinism, stated recently:

Joseph Stalin sent millions to their deaths during his reign of terror, and his name was taboo for decades, but the dictator is a step closer to rehabilitation after Vladimir Putin openly praised his achievements.

The Prime Minister and former KGB agent used an appearance on national television to give credit to Stalin for making the Soviet Union an industrial superpower, and for defeating Hitler in the Second World War.

In a verdict that will be obediently absorbed by a state bureaucracy long used to taking its cue from above, Mr Putin declared that it was “impossible to make a judgment in general” about the man who presided over the Gulag slave camps. His view contrasted sharply with that of President Medvedev, Russia’s nominal leader, who has said that there is no excuse for the terror unleashed by Stalin.

Mr Putin said that he had deliberately included the issue of Stalin’s legacy in a marathon annual question-and-answer programme on live television, because it was being “actively discussed” by Russians.[5]

While The Times’ Halpin commented that Putin nonetheless gave the obligatory comments about the brutality of Stalin’s regime, following a forceful condemnation of Stalin by Medvedev on October 9, 2009, it is worrying nonetheless that Putin could state that positive aspects “undoubtedly existed.” Such comments are the same as if a leading German political figure had stated that some positive aspects of Hitler “undoubtedly existed.” The guilt complex of Stalinist tyranny, having its origins in Trotskyite Stalinophobia, which has been carried over into the present “Cold War II” era of a bastardous mixture of “neo-cons” (i.e., post-Trotskyites) and Soros type globalists, often working in tandem despite their supposed differences,[6] is supposed to keep Russian down in perpetuity. Should Russia rise again, however, the spectre of Stalin is there to frighten the world into adherence to US policy in the same way that the “war on terrorism” is designed to dragoon the world behind the USA. Just as importantly, The Times article commented on Putin’s opposition to the Russian oligarchy, which has been presented by the Western news media as a “human rights issue”:

During the television programme, Mr Putin demonstrated his populist instincts by lashing out at Russia’s billionaire class for their vulgar displays of wealth. His comments came after a scandal in Geneva, when an elderly man was critically injured in an accident after an alleged road race involving the children of wealthy Russians in a Lamborghini and three other sports cars. “The nouveaux riches all of a sudden got rich very quickly, but they cannot manage their wealth without showing it off all the time. Yes, this is our problem,” Mr Putin said.[7]

This all seems lamentably (for the plutocrats) like a replay of what happened after the Bolshevik Revolution when Stalin kicked out Trotsky et al. Under Trotsky, the Bolshevik regime would have eagerly sought foreign capital.[8] It is after all why plutocrats would have had such an interest in ensuring Trotsky’s safe passage back to Russia in time for the Bolshevik coup, after having had a pleasant stay with his family in the USA as a guest of Julius Hammer, and having been comfortably ensconced in an upmarket flat, with a chauffeur at the family’s disposal.[9] In 1923 the omnipresent globalist think tank the Council on Foreign Relations, was warning investors to hurry up and get into Soviet Russia before something went wrong,[10] which it did a few years later. Under Stalin, even Western technicians were not trusted.[11]

Of particular note, however, is that well-placed Russian politicians and academics are still very aware of the globalist apparatus that is working for what is frequently identified in Russia as a “new world order,” and the responsibility Russia has in reasserting herself to lead in reshaping a “multipolar” world contra American hegemony. This influences Russia’s foreign policy, perhaps the most significant manifestation being the BRIC alliance,[12] despite what this writer regards as the very dangerous liaison with China.[13]

What is dismissed as “fringe conspiracy theory” by the superficial and generally “kept” Western news media and academia, is reported and discussed, among the highest echelons of Russian media, politics, military, and intelligentsia, with an analytical methodology that is all but gone from Western journalism and research. For example the Russian geopolitical theorist Alexander Dugin is a well-respected academic who lectures at Moscow State University under the auspices of the Center for Conservative Studies, which is part of the Department of Sociology (International Relations)[14] The subjects discussed by Professor Dugin and his colleagues and students feature the menace of world government and the challenges of globalism to Russian statehood. The movement he inspired, Eurasianism, has many prominent people in Russia and elsewhere.[15]

Perhaps the best indication of Russia’s persistence in remaining resistant to globalist and hegemonic schemes for world re-organization is the information that is published by the Ministry of International Affairs. Despite the disclaimer, the articles and analyses are a far cry from the shallowness of the mainstream news media of the Western world. Articles posted by the Ministry as this paper is written include a cynical consideration of the North African revolutions and the role of “social media;”[16] and an article pointing to the immense socio-economic benefits wrought by the Qaddafi regime, which is now being targeted by revolts “backed by Western intelligence services.”[17] Political analyst Sergei Shashkov theorizes that:

Recent events perfectly fit into the US-invented concept of “manageable chaos” (also known as “controlled instability” theory). Among its authors are: Zbigniew Brzezinski, a Polish American political scientist, Gene Sharp, who wrote From Dictatorship to Democracy, and Steven Mann, whose Chaos Theory and Strategic Thought was published in Washington in 1992, and who was involved in plotting “color revolutions” in some former Soviet republics.[18]

The only place one is going to get that type of analyses in the West is in alternative media sources such as The Foreign Policy Journal or Global Research. What Western government Ministry would have the independence of mind to circulate analyses of this type? Russians have the opportunity to be the most well-informed people in the world in matters that are of real importance. Westerners, on the other hand, do have that essential freedom – to watch US sitcoms and keep abreast of the tittle-tattle of movie stars and pop singers. Clearly, Russia is not readily succumbing to the type of post-Cold War world as envisaged by plutocrats and US hegemonists, expressed by George H W Bush in his hopes for a “new world order” after the demise of the Soviet bloc.[19] Beginning with Putin, Russia has refused to co-operate in the establishment of the “new world order” just as Stalin did not go along with similar schemes intended for the post-World War II era.

The purging of the USSR of Trotskyites and others by Stalin constituted the first significant move against plutocratic aspirations for Russia. The subsequent Russophobia that continues among American foreign policy and other influential circles has an ideological and historical framework arising to a significant extent therefore. The Moscow Trials, and the reaction symbolized by the Dewey Commission, gave primary impetus to a movement that was to metamorphose from Trotskyism to post-Trotskyism and ultimately to the oddly named “neo- conservatism,” and to leading NGOs such as the National Endowment for Democracy. The foundation for the present historical phenomena in regard to Russia was being embryonically shaped even within the Dewey Commission, certain of whose members ended up becoming Cold Warriors.

In the spirit of this legacy, the oligarchs, who were to be unleashed on Russia after the destruction of the USSR, are being upheld by their champions in the West as victims of neo-Stalinism, and their trials are being compared to those of Stalin’s “Moscow Show Trials.” Hence, American Professor Paul Gregory, a Fellow of the Hoover Institution, co-editor of the “Yale-Hoover Series on Stalin, Stalinism, and Cold War,” etc., writes of the trial of oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky:

When the history of Russian justice is written fifty years from now, two landmark court cases will stand out: The death sentence of Nikolai Bukharin in his Moscow show trial of March 1938 and the second prison sentence of Mikhail Khodorkovsky expected December 27, 2010. Both processes teach the same object lesson: anyone who crosses the Kremlin will be punished without mercy. There will be no protection in the courts for the innocent, and the guilty verdict and sentence will be already predetermined behind the Kremlin walls. It also does not matter how preposterous or ludicrous the charges. Vladimir Putin was born in 1952, only one year before Stalin’s death. But Stalin’s system of justice was institutionalized and survived Stalin and the collapse of the Soviet Union, for use by apt pupils such as Putin . . . [20]

If Russia continues to take a “wrong turn” (sic) as it is termed by the US foreign policy Establishment,[21] then we can expect the regime to be increasingly demonized by being compared to that of Stalin, just as other regimes ripe for “change,” (such as Milosovic’s Serbia, Saddam’s Iraq and Qaddafi’s Libya) according to the agenda of the globalists, are demonized. John McCain, stated on the Floor of the Senate, speaking of the “New START Treaty” with Russia, that the Khodorkovsky trial indicated that flawed nature of Russia, although McCain admitted that he was “under no illusions” that some of the gains of the oligarch might have been “ill-gotten.”[22] However, to those who do not like the prospect of a renewal of Russia influence, Khodorkovsky is a symbol of the type of Russia they hoped would emerge after the demise of the USSR, and the oligarchs are portrayed as victims of Stalin-like injustice. Old Trot Carl Gershman, the founding president of the Congressionally-funded National Endowment for Democracy, used the Khodorkovsky sentencing as the primary point of condemnation of Russia in his summing up of the world situation frordemocracy in 2010, when stating that:

As 2010 drew to a close, the backsliding accelerated with a flurry of new setbacks—notably the rigged re-sentencing of dissident entrepreneur Mikhail Khodorkovsky in Russia, the brutal repression of the political opposition in Belarus following the December 19 presidential election, and the passage of a spate of repressive new laws in Venezuela, where President Hugo Chavez assumed decree powers.[23]

One can expect “velvet revolutions” to break out in Belarus and Venezuela at any time now, although Russia will obviously take longer to deal with. Hence the vitriol will take on increasingly Cold War proportions, with the accusation of a Stalinist revival being used as prime propaganda material. It is against this background that the legacy of Stalin, including the Moscow Trials for which he is particularly condemned, should be examined.

Background of the Trials

The Moscow Trials comprised three events: The first trial, held in August 1936, involved 16 members of the “Trotskyite-Kamenevite-Zinovievite-Leftist-Counter-Revolutionary Bloc.” The two main defendants were Grigory Zinoviev and Lev Kamenev. The primary accusations against the defendants were that they had, in alliance with Trotsky, been involved in the assassination of Sergey Kirov in 1934, and of plotting to kill Stalin.[24] After confessing to the charges, all were sentenced to death and executed.

The second trial in January 1937 of the “anti-Soviet Trotskyite-Centre” comprised 17 defendants, including Karl Radek, Yuri Piatakov and Grigory Sokolnikov, who were accused of plotting with Trotsky, who was said to be in league with Nazi Germany. Thirteen of the defendants were executed, and the remainder died in labor camps.

The third trial was held in 1938 against the “Bloc of Rights and Trotskyists,” with Bukharin as the chief defendant. They were accused of having planned to assassinate Lenin and Stalin in 1918, and of having plotted to dismember the USSR for the benefit of foreign powers.

These trials have been condemned as “show trials” yet the very openness to foreign journalists and diplomats, as distinct from secret tribunals, is surely an approach that is to be commended rather than condemned. It also indicates the confidence the Soviet authorities had in their charges against the accused, allowing the processes to be subjected to foreign scrutiny and comment.

The world generally has come to know the Moscow Trials as a collective travesty based on torture, threats to families and forced confessions, with the defendants in confused states, declaring their confessions of guilt by rote, as if hypnotised. The trials are considered in every sense modern-day “witch trials.” For example, Prof. Sidney Hook, co-founder of the “Dewey Commission,” cogently expressed the widely held view of the trials many years later that, “The confessions, exacted by threats and torture, physical and psychological, whose precise nature has never been disclosed, consisted largely of alleged ‘conversations about conversations.’”[25] However the opinions of first-hand observers are not unanimous in condemning the methodology of the trials. The US Ambassador to the USSR, himself a lawyer, Joseph E Davies, was to write of the trials in his memoirs published in 1945 (that is, about seven years after the Dewey Commission had supposedly proven the trials to have been a travesty):

At 12 o’clock noon accompanied by Counselor Henderson I went to this trial. Special arrangements were made for tickets for the Diplomatic Corps to have seats. . . . [26] . . . On both sides of the central aisle were rows of seats occupied entirely by different groups of “workers” at each session, with the exception of a few rows in the centre of the hall reserved for correspondents, local and foreign, and for the Diplomatic Corps. The different groups of “workers,” I am advised, were charged with the duty of taking back reports of the trials to their various organizations.[27]

Davies stated that among the foreign press corps were the following representatives: Walter Duranty and Harold Denny from The New York Times, Joe Barnew and Joe Phillips from The New York Herald Tribune, Charlie Nutter or Nick Massock from Associated Press, Norman Deuel and Henry Schapiro from United Press, Jim Brown from International News, and Spencer Williams from The Manchester Guardian. The London Observer, hardly pro-Soviet, opined that: “It is futile to think the trial was staged and the charges trumped up. The Government’s case against the defendants is genuine.”[28] Duranty from The New York Times stated of the 1936 trial of Kamenev, Zinoviev, et al that:

. . . The writer knows beyond doubt that the assassin [of Kirov] was used as an instrument for the needs of political terrorism… No one acquainted with present European politics can fail to realize that, whereas the Soviet government is doing it utmost to maintain peace, there are certain so-called Trotskyist organizations that are trying to cause trouble…[29]

Of Soviet prosecutor Andrei Vyshinsky, Davies opined that: “the prosecutor … conducted the case calmly and generally with admirable moderation.” Especially notable, given the subsequent claims that were made about the allegedly confused, brainwashed appearance and tone of the defendants, Davies observed: “There was nothing unusual in the appearance of the accused. They all appeared well nourished and normal physically.”[30] A delegation of the International Association of Lawyers stated:

We consider the claim that the proceedings were summary and unlawful to be totally unfounded. The accused were given the opportunity of taking counsels.... We hereby categorically declare that the accused were sentenced quite lawfully.[31]

In 1936 the British Labour Member of Parliament, D N Pritt KC, wrote extensively of his observations on the first Moscow Trial. In the lengthy article published in Russia Today, Pritt, after alluding to the apparently good condition of the defendants who, in accord with the observations of Davies, did not appear to have suffered under Soviet detention, wrote:

The first thing that struck me, as an English lawyer, was the almost free-and-easy demeanour of the prisoners. They all looked well; they all got up and spoke, even at length, whenever they wanted to do so (for the matter of that, they strolled out, with a guard, when they wanted to).

The one or two witnesses who were called by the prosecution were cross-examined by the prisoners who were affected by their evidence, with the same freedom as would have been the case in England.

The prisoners voluntarily renounced counsel; they could have had counsel without fee had they wished, but they preferred to dispense with them. And having regard to their pleas of guilty and to their own ability to speak, amounting in most cases to real eloquence, they probably did not suffer by their decision, able as some of my Moscow colleagues are.[32]

Pritt was struck by the informality of the proceedings, and commented on how the defendants could interrupt at will, in what seems to have been a freewheeling debate:

The most striking novelty, perhaps, to an English lawyer, was the easy way in which first one and then another prisoner would intervene in the course of the examination of one of their co-defendants, without any objection from the Court or from the prosecutor, so that one got the impression of a quick and vivid debate between four people, the prosecutor and three prisoners, all talking together, if not actually at the same moment—a method which, whilst impossible with a jury, is certainly conducive to clearing up disputes of fact with some rapidity. [33]

Pritt’s view of Vyshinsky is in accord with that of Davies, stating of the prosecutor: “He spoke with vigour and clarity. He seldom raised his voice. He never ranted, or shouted, or thumped the table. He rarely looked at the public or played for effect.”[34] Pritt stated that the fifteen defendants[35] “spoke without any embarrassment or hindrance.” Such was Pritt’s view of the proceedings that his concluding remark states: “But it is equally clear that the judicature and the prosecuting attorney of USSR have taken at least as great a step towards establishing their reputation among the legal systems of the modern world.”[36]

Although Pritt was a Labour Member of Parliament, and was not a communist party member, he was pro-Soviet. Was he, then, capable of forming an objective, professional opinion? Anecdotal evidence suggests he was. Jeremy Murray-Brown, biographer of the Kenyan leader Jomo Kenyatta, writing to the editor of Commentary in connection with the Moscow Trials, relates that he had had discussions with Pritt in 1970, in the course of which he asked Pritt about the trials:

His reply astonished me. “I thought they were all guilty,” he said, referring to Bukharin and his co-defendants. It was as simple as that; Pritt made no attempt at political justification, but reaffirmed what was for him a matter of clear professional judgment. …In terms of the Soviet Union’s own judicial system, Pritt said, he firmly believed the defendants in the Moscow trials were guilty as charged. It was an argument which came oddly from the man who defended Kenyatta.[37]

Kenyatta, whom Pritt went to Kenya to defend before a British colonial court, had been “evasive” under cross-examination, Pritt stated.[38] Pritt, despite his support for Kenyatta was able to judge the veracity of proceedings regardless of political bias, and had maintained his view of the Moscow trials even in 1970, when it would have been opportune, even among Soviet sympathizers, to conform to the accepted view, including the declarations of Khrushchev. Indeed, Sidney Hook, long since having become a Cold Warrior in the service of the USA, retorted:

In reply to Jeremy Murray-Brown: the significance of D N Pritt’s infamous defense of the infamous Moscow frame-up trials must be appraised in the light of Khrushchev’s revelations of Stalin’s crimes available to the public (outside the Soviet Union) long before Pritt’s avowals to Mr Murray-Brown. Pritt cannot have been unaware of them.[39]

Of course Pritt was not unaware of Khrushchev’s so-called “revelations.” Unlike many former admirers of Stalin, he was simply not impressed by their veracity, and it must be assumed that his scepticism was based on both his eminent judicial experience and his first-hand observations. Certainly, Sidney Hook’s leading role in the formation of the “Dewey Commission” for the exoneration of Trotsky on the pretext of “impartial” hearings, was itself a cynical travesty, as will be considered in this paper.

If there was a general consensus that the proceedings were legitimate, and a quite sceptical attitude towards the findings of the Dewey Commission, despite the eminence of its front man, Prof. John Dewey, what changed to result in such a dramatic and almost universal reversal of opinion? It was a change of perception in regard to Stalin in the aftermath of World War II, and not due to any sudden revelations about the Moscow Trials or about Stalin’s tyranny. The wartime alliance, which, it was assumed, would endure during the post-war era, instead gave way to the Cold War.[40] Such was the hatred of the Trotskyites for the USSR that they were willing to enlist in the ranks of the anti-Soviet crusade even to the extent of working for the CIA[41], and supporting the US in Korea and Vietnam to counter Soviet influence.[42] Their services, as experienced anti-Soviet propagandists, were eagerly sought. Hence the findings of the Dewey Commission, largely ignored in their own time, are now heralded as definitive. The nature of this “Dewey Commission” will now be considered.

“Preliminary Commission of Inquiry into the Charges Made Against Leon Trotsky in the Moscow Trials”

The so-called Dewey Commission, the full title of which was the “Preliminary Commission of Inquiry into the Charges Made Against Leon Trotsky in the Moscow Trials,” having a legalistic and even official sound to it, was convened in March 1937 on the initiative of the American Committee for the Defense of Leon Trotsky as a supposedly “impartial body.”[43] The purpose was said to be, “to ascertain all the available facts about the Moscow Trial proceedings in which Trotsky and his son, Leon Sedov, were the principal accused and to render a judgment based upon those facts.”[44] However, the composition of the Commission indicates that it was set up as a counter-show trial with the preconceived intention of exonerating Trotsky, and was created at the instigation of Trotsky himself.

The stage was set with the founding of the American Committee for the Defense of Leon Trotsky by Prof. Sidney Hook, who persuaded his mentor, Prof. John Dewey, to front for it. Just how “impartial” the Dewey Commission was might be deduced not only from its having been initiated by those sympathetic towards Trotsky, but also by a comment in a Time report at the occasion of Trotsky’s deportation from Norway en route to Mexico: “The American Committee for the Defense of Leon Trotsky spat accusations at the Norwegian Government last week for its ‘indecent and filthy’ behavior in placing the Great Exile & Mme Trotsky on the Norwegian tanker Ruth…”[45]

The mock “trial” organised by the Dewey Commission was prompted by a “demand” from Trotsky from his new abode in Mexico, who “publicly demanded the formation of an international commission of inquiry, since he had been deprived of any opportunity to reply to the accusations before a legally constituted court.”[46] A sub-commission was formed to travel to Mexico and to allow Trotsky to give testimony in his defense under what was supposed to include “cross-examination.” The sub-commission comprised:

  • John Dewey as chairman, described by Novack as America’s foremost liberal and philosopher;
  • Otto Ruehle, a German Marxist and former Reichstag Deputy;
  • Alfred Rosmer, former member of the Executive Committee of the Communist International (1920-21);
  • Wendelin Thomas, leader of the sailor’s revolt in Germany in 1918 and a former Communist Deputy in the Reichstag; and
  • Carlo Tresca, Italian-American anarchist.[47]

Other members, whose political orientations are not mentioned by Novack, were:

  • ·        Benjamin Stolberg, American journalist;
  • ·        Suzanne La Follette, American journalist;
  • ·         Carleton Beals, authority on Latin-American affairs;
  • ·        Edward A Ross, Professor of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin;
  • ·         John Chamberlain, former literary critic of the New York Times; and
  • ·         Francisco Zamora, Mexican journalist.

Of these, Stolberg was a supporter of the Socialist Party, described by fellow commissioner Carleton Beals as being, along with other commissioners, thoroughly under Trotsky’s spell.[48] Suzanne La Follette was described by Beals as having a “worshipful” attitude towards Trotsky.[49] Edward A Ross, who had gone to Soviet Russia in 1917 had come back with a pro-Bolshevik sentiment, writing The Russian Bolshevik Revolution (1921) and The Russian Soviet Republic (1923). John Chamberlain, a Left-leaning liberal by his own description[50], was among those who became so obsessively anti-Soviet that they ended up as avid Cold Warriors in the US camp.[51] In 1946 Chamberlain and Suzanne La Follette, along with free market guru Henry Hazlitt, founded the libertarian journal The Freeman.[52] Both can therefore be regarded as among the many Trotsky-sympathizers who became apologists for American foreign policy,[53] and laid the foundation for the so-called “neo-conservative” movement. Chamberlain and La Follette continued to pursue a vigorous anti-Soviet line at the earliest stages of the Cold War.[54]

Trotsky’s lawyer for the Mexico hearings was Albert Goldman, who had joined the Communist Party of America on its founding in 1920. He was expelled from the party in 1933 for Trotskyism. Goldman was another Trotskyite who became a pro-US Cold Warrior.[55] The Dewey Commission’s “court reporter” (sic) was Albert M Glotzer, who had been expelled from the Communist Party USA in 1928 and with prominent American Trotskyite Max Shachtman, had founded the Communist League and subsequent factions, including the Social Democrats USA,[56] whose executive Secretary had been Carl Gershman, founding president of the National Endowment for Democracy. Glotzer had also served as Trotsky’s secretary in Turkey in 1931, and had met him on other occasions.[57] The Social Democrats USA provided particular support for the Cold War hawk, Sen. Henry Jackson, and has produced other foreign policy hawks such as Elliott Abrams.

Under the façade of an “impartial enquiry” and with a convoluted title that suggests a bona fide judicial basis, the Dewey Commission proceeded to Mexico to “interrogate” (sic) Trotsky on the pretence of objectivity;[58] an image that was to be quickly exposed by the resignation of one of the Commissioners, Carleton Beals.

"Trotsky's Pink Tea Party": The Beals Resignation

Although one would hardly suspect it now, at the time the Dewey Commission was perceived by many as lacking credibility. Time reported that when Dewey returned from Mexico the “kindly, grizzled professor” told a crowd of 3,500 in Manhattan that the preliminary results of the sub-commission justified the continuation of the Commission’s enquiries in the USA and elsewhere. Time offered the view that, “by last week the committee had proved nothing at all,” despite Dewey’s positive spin.[59] Time in referring to the resignation of Carleton Beals cited him as stating that the hearings had been “unduly influenced in Trotsky’s favor,” Beals having “resigned in disgust.”[60] The Dewey report appended a statement attempting to deal with Beals.[61] In a reply to Dewey, Beals wrote in The Saturday Evening Post that despite the publicly stated intention of the enquiry to determine the innocence or guilt of Trotsky the attitudes of the sub-commission members towards Trotsky were those of reverence:

“I want to weep,” remarks one commissioner as we pass out into the frowzy street, “to think of him being here.” All, including Doctor Dewey, chairman of the investigatory commission, join in the chorus of sorrow over Trotsky’s fallen star - except one commissioner, who sees the pathos of human change in less personal terms.[62]

Beals observing Trotsky in action considered that,

above all, his mental faculties are blurred by a consuming lust of hate for Stalin, a furious uncontrollable venom which has its counterpart in something bordering on a persecution complex - all who disagree with him are bunched in the simple formula of GPU agents, people “corrupted by the gold of Stalin.”[63]

It is evident from Beals’ comments - and Beals had no particular axe to grind - that the persona of Trotsky was far from the rational demeanour of a wronged victim. From Beals’ comments Trotsky seems to have presented himself in a manner that is suggestive of the descriptions often levelled against the Stalinist judiciary, making wild accusations about the supposed Stalinist affiliations of any detractors. Beals questioned Trotsky concerning his archives, since Trotsky was making numerous references to them to prove his innocence, but Trotsky “hems and haws.” While Trotsky denied that his archives had been purged of anything incriminating, important documents had been taken out. A primary insistence of Trotsky’s defense was his denial of having any communication with the accused after 1929. However Dr J Arch Getty comments:

Yet it is now clear that in 1932 he sent secret personal letters to former leading oppositionists Karl Radek, G. Sokol’nikov, E. Preobrazhensky, and others. While the contents of these letters are unknown, it seems reasonable to believe that they involved an attempt to persuade the addressees to return to opposition.[64]

Unlike virtually all Trotsky’s other letters (including even the most sensitive) no copies of these remain in the Trotsky Papers. It seems likely that they have been removed from the Papers at some time. Only the certified mail receipts remain. At his 1937 trial, Karl Radek testified that he had received a letter from Trotsky containing “terrorist instructions,” but we do not know whether this was the letter in question.[65]

It can be noted here that, as will be related below, Russian scholar Prof. Rogovin, in seeking to show that the Opposition bloc maintained an effective resistance to Stalin, also stated that a “united anti-Stalin bloc” did form in 1932, despite Trotsky’s claim at the Dewey hearings that there had been no significant contact with any of the Moscow defendants since 1929. Beals found it difficult to believe Trotsky’s insistence that his contacts inside the USSR had since 1930 consisted of no more than a half dozen letters to individuals. If it was the case that Trotsky no longer had a network within the USSR then he and the Fourth International, and Trotskyism generally, must have been nothing other than bluster.[66]

Beals’ less than deferential line of questioning created antagonism with the rest of the Commission. They began to change the rules of questioning without consulting him. Beals concluded by stating that either Finerty, whom he regarded as acting like Trotsky’s lawyer instead of that of the commission’s counsel, resign, or he would. Suzanne LaFollette “burst into tears” and implored Beals to apologise to Finerty, otherwise the “great historical occasion” would be “marred.” Beals left the room of the Mexican villa with the Commissioners chasing after him. Dewey was left to try and rationalize the situation with the press, while Beals countered that “the commission’s investigations were a fraud.”[67] In the concluding remarks of his article, with the subheading “The Trial that Proved Nothing,” Beals stated that:

  • There had been no adequate cross-examination.
  • The Trotsky archives had not been examined.
  • The cross-examination was a “scant day and a half,” mostly taken up with questions about the Russian Revolution, relations with Lenin, and questions about dialectical theory.
  • Most of the evidence submitted was in the form of Trotsky’s articles and books, which could have been consulted at a library.

The commission then resumed in New York, about which Beals predicted, “no amount of fumbling over documents in New York can correct the omissions and errors of its Mexican expedition,” adding:

From the press I learned that seven other commissions were at work in Europe, and that these would send representatives to form part of the larger commission. I was unable to find out how these European commissions had been created, who were members of them. I suspected them of being small cliques of Trotsky’s own followers. I was unable to put my seal of approval on the work of our commission in Mexico. I did not wish my name used merely as a sounding board for the doctrines of Trotsky and his followers. Nor did I care to participate in the work of the larger organization, whose methods were not revealed to me, the personnel of which was still a mystery to me.

Doubtless, considerable information will be scraped together. But if the commission in Mexico is an example, the selection of the facts will be biased, and their interpretation will mean nothing if trusted to a purely pro-Trotsky clique. As for me, a sadder and wiser man, I say, a plague on both their houses.[68]

As can be seen from the last sentence of the above, Beals was not aligned to either Trotsky or Stalin. He had accepted a position with the Dewey Commission in the belief that it sought to get to the matter of the accusations against the Moscow defendants, and specifically Trotsky, in a professional manner. What Beals found was a set-up that was predetermined to exonerate Trotsky and give the “Old Man” a podium upon which to vent his spleen against his nemesis, Stalin. It is also apparent that Trotsky attempted to detract accusations by alleging that anyone who doubted his word was in the pay of Stalin. Yet today the consensus among scholars is that Stalin contrived false allegations about Trotsky et al, and any suggestion to the contrary is met with vehemence rather than with scholarly rebuttal.[69]

The third session of the Mexico hearings largely proceeded on the question of the relations between Trotsky, Kamenev and Zinoviev, and the formation of the Stalin-Kamenev-Zinoviev troika that ran the Soviet state when Lenin became incapacitated. The primary point was that Kamenev and Zinoviev were historically rivals of Trotsky and allies of Stalin in the jockeying for leadership. However, the Moscow testimony also deals with the split of the troika, when alliances changed and Zinoviev and Kamenev became allied with Trotsky. Trotsky in reply to a question from Goldman as to the time of the split, replied: “It was during the preparation, the secret preparation of the split. It was in the second half of 1925. It appeared openly at the Fourteenth Congress of the Party. That was the beginning of 1926.”

Trotsky was asked to explain the origins of the Zinoviev split with Stalin and the duration of the alliance with Trotsky. This, it should be noted, was at the time of an all-out offensive against Stalin, during which, Trotsky explains in his memoirs, “In the Autumn the Opposition even made an open sortie at the meeting of Party locals.”[70] At the time the “New Opposition” group led by Zinoviev and Kamenev aligned with Trotsky to form the “United Opposition.” Trotsky also stated in his memoirs that Zinoviev and Kamenev, despite being ideologically at odds with Stalin, tried to retain their influence within the party, Trotsky having been outvoted by the Bolshevik Party membership which had in a general referendum voted 740,000 to 4,000 to repudiate him:

Zinoviev and Kamenev soon found themselves in hostile opposition to Stalin; when they tried to transfer the dispute from the trio to the Central Committee, they discovered that Stalin had a solid majority there. They accepted the basic principles of our platform. In such circumstances, it was impossible not to form a bloc with them, especially since thousands of revolutionary Leningrad workers were behind them.[71]

It seems disingenuous that Trotsky could subsequently claim that there could not have been a further alliance with Zinoviev and Kamenev, given that alliances were constantly changing, and that these old Bolshevik idealists seem to have been thoroughgoing careerists and opportunists willing to embrace any alliance that would further their positions. Trotsky cited the report of the party Central Committee of the July 1926 meeting at which Zinoviev confessed his “two most important mistakes;” that of having opposed the October 1917 Revolution, and that of aligning with Stalin in forming the “bureaucratic-apparatus of oppression.” Zinoviev added that Trotsky had “warned with justice of the dangers of the deviation from the proletarian line and of the menacing growth of the apparatus regime. Yes, in the question of the bureaucratic-apparatus oppression, Trotsky was right against us.”[72]

During 1927 the alliance between Trotsky, Zinoviev and Kamenev had fallen apart as Zinoviev and Kamenev again sought to flow with the tide. The break with Trotsky came just a few weeks before Trotsky’s expulsion from the Party, as the “Zinoviev group” wanted to avoid expulsion. However all the oppositionists were expelled from the party at the next Congress. Six months after their expulsion and exile to Siberia, Kamenev and Zinoviev reversed their position again, and they were readmitted to the party.

During 1927 Trotsky states that many young revolutionaries came to him eager to oppose Stalin for his having betrayed the Chinese Communists by insisting they subordinate themselves to Chiang Kai-shek. Trotsky claimed: “Hundreds and thousands of revolutionaries of the new generation were grouped about us… at present there are thousands of such young revolutionaries who are augmenting their political experience by studying theory in the prisons and the exile of the Stalin regime.”[73] With this backing the opposition launched its offensive against the Party:

The leading group of the opposition faced this finale with its eyes wide open. We realized only too clearly that we could make our ideas the common property of the new generation not by diplomacy and evasions but only by an open struggle which shirked none of the practical consequences. We went to meet the inevitable debacle, confident, however, that we were paving the way for the triumph of our ideas in a more distant future.[74]

Trotsky then referred to “illegal means” as the only method by which to force the opposition onto the Party at the Fifteenth Congress at the end of 1927. From Trotsky’s description of the tumultuous events during 1927 it seems clear that this was a revolutionary situation that the opposition was trying to create that would overthrow the regime just as the October 1917 coup had overthrown Kerensky:

Secret meetings were held in various parts of Moscow and Leningrad, attended by workers and students of both sexes…. In all, about 20,000 people attended such meetings in Moscow and Leningrad. The number was growing. The opposition cleverly prepared a huge meeting in the hall of the High Technical School, which had been occupied from within. The hall was crammed with two thousand people, while a huge crowd remained outside in the street. The attempts of the administration to stop the meeting proved ineffectual. Kamenev and I spoke for about two hours. Finally the Central Committee issued an appeal to the workers to break up the meetings of the opposition by force. This appeal was merely a screen for carefully prepared attacks on the opposition by military units under the guidance of the GPU. Stalin wanted a bloody settlement of the conflict. We gave the signal for a temporary discontinuance of the large meetings. But this was not until after the demonstration of November 7.[75]

In October 1927, the Central Executive Committee held its session in Leningrad, and a mass official demonstration was staged in honour of the event. Trotsky recorded that the demonstration was taken over by Zinoviev and himself and their followers by the thousands, with support from sections of the military and police. This was shortly followed by a similar event in Moscow commemorating the October 1917 Revolution, during which the opposition infiltrated the parades. A similar attempt at a parade in Leningrad resulted in the detention of Zinoviev and Radek, but Zinoviev wrote optimistically to Trotsky that this would play into their hands. However, at the last moment, the Zinoviev group backed down in order to try and avoid expulsion from the party at the Fifteenth Congress.[76] However Trotsky admitted to having conversations with Zinoviev and Kamenev at a joint meeting at the end of 1927. Trotsky then stated that he had a final communication from Zinoviev on November 7 1927 in which Zinoviev closes: “I admit entirely that Stalin will tomorrow circulate the most venomous “versions.” We are taking steps to inform the public. Do the same. Warm greetings, Yours, G. ZINOVIEV.”[77]

As stated by Goldman, Trotsky’s counsel at Mexico, the letter was addressed to Kamenev, Trotsky, and Y P Smilga. Trotsky explained that, “Smilga is an old member of the Party, a member of the Central Committee of the Party and a member of the Opposition, of the center of the Opposition at that time.” The following questioning then took place:

Stolberg: What do you mean by the center of the Opposition? The executive committee?

Trotsky: It was an executive committee, yes, the same as a central committee.

Goldman: Of the leading comrades of the Left Opposition?

Trotsky: Yes.’[78]

Trotsky stated that thereafter he had “absolute hostility and total contempt” for those who “capitulated,” and that he wrote many articles denouncing Zinoviev and Kamenev. Goldman read from a statement by prosecutor Vyshinsky at the January 28 session of the 1937 Moscow trial:

The Trotskyites went underground, they donned the mask of repentance and pretended that they had disarmed. Obeying the instruction of Trotsky. Pyatakov and the other leaders of this gang of criminals, pursuing a policy of duplicity, camouflaging themselves, they again penetrated into the Party, again penetrated into Soviet offices, here and there they even managed to creep into responsible positions of the state, concealing for a time, as has now been established beyond a shadow of doubt, their old Trotskyite, anti-Soviet wares in their secret apartments, together with arms, codes, passwords, connections and cadres.[79]

Trotsky in reply to a question from Goldman denied any further connection with Kamenev, Zinoviev or any of the other defendants at Moscow. However, as will be considered below, Trotsky, Kamenev and Zinoviev had formed an “anti-Stalinist bloc in June 1932,”[80] a matter only discovered after the investigations in 1935 and 1936 into the Kirov murder.

One of the features of both the first Moscow Trial of 1936 and the Dewey Commission was the allegation that defendant Holtzman, when an official for the Soviet Commissariat for Foreign Trade, had met Trotsky and his son Leon Sedov, at the Hotel Britsol in Copenhagen in 1932. It is a matter that remains the focus of critique and ridicule of the Moscow Trials. For example one Trotskyite article triumphantly declares: “Unbeknown to the prosecutors, the Hotel Bristol had been demolished in 1917! The Stalinist investigators had not done their homework.”[81] Prominent historians continue to cite the supposed non-existence of the Hotel Bristol when Trotsky and his son were supposed to be conspiring with Holtzman, as a primary example of the crass nature of the Stalinist allegations. While Trotsky confirmed that he was in Copenhagen at the time of the alleged meeting, the Dewey Commission accepted statements that the Hotel Bristol had burned down in 1917 and had never reopened. The claim had first been made by the Danish newspaper Social-Demokraten shortly after the death sentences of the 1936 trial had been carried out.[82] In response Arbejderbladet, the organ of the Danish Communist Party, pointed out that in 1932 the Grand Hotel was connected by an interior doorway to the café Konditori Bristol. Moreover both the hotel and the café were owned by a husband and wife team. Arbejderbladet editor Martin Nielsen contended that a foreigner not familiar with the area would assume that he was at the Hotel Bristol.

However these factors were ignored by the Dewey Commission, and still are ingored. Instead the Commission accepted a falsely sworn affidavit by Esther and B J Field, Trotskyites, who claimed that the Bistol café was two doors away from the Grand Hotel and that there was a clear distinction between the two enterprises. Goldman, Trotsky’s lawyer, had stated at the fifth session of the hearings in Mexico that despite the statements that Holtzman was forced to make at the 1936 Moscow trial that he had met Trotsky at the Hotel Bristol, and was “put up” there, “…immediately after the trial and during the trial, when the statement, which the Commissioners can check up on, was made by him, a report came from the Social-Democratic press in Denmark that there was no such hotel as the Hotel Bristol in Copenhagen; that there was at one time a hotel by the name of Hotel Bristol, but that was burned down in 1917…”

Goldman sought to repudiate a claim by the publication Soviet Russia Today that stated that the Bristol café is not next to the Grand Hotel, and used the Field affidavit for the purpose, and that there was no entrance connecting the two, the Fields stating,

As a matter of fact, we bought some candy once at the Konditori Bristol, and we can state definitely that it had no vestibule, lobby, or lounge in common with the Grand Hotel or any hotel, and it could not have been mistaken for a hotel in any way, and entrance to the hotel could not be obtained through it.[83]

The question of the Bristol Hotel was again raised the following day, at the 6th session of the Dewey hearings. Such was – and is – the importance attached to this in repudiating the Stalinist allegations as clumsy. In 2008 Sven-Eric Holström undertook some rudimentary enquiries into the matter. Consulting the 1933 street and telephone directories for Copenhagen he found that – the Field’s affidavit notwithstanding - the Grand Hotel and the Bristol café were located at the same address.[84] Furthermore, photographs of the period show that the street entrance to the hotel and the café were the same and the only signage from the outside states “Bristol.”[85] Again, contrary to the Field affidavit, diagrams of the building show that there was a lobby and internal entrance connecting the hotel and the café. Anyone walking off the street into the hotel would assume, on the basis of the signage and the common entrance that he had walked into a hotel called “Hotel Bristol.” Getty states that Trotsky’s papers archived at Harvard show that Holtzman, a “former” Trotskyite, had met Sedov in Berlin in 1932 “and gave him a proposal from veteran Trotskyist Ivan Smirnov and other left oppositionists in the USSR for the formation of a united opposition bloc,”[86] although Trotsky stated at the Dewey hearings on questioning by Goldman that he had never had any “direct or indirect communication” with Holtzman.

If the statements of Trotsky at to the Dewey Commission and his statements in My Life are considered in the context of the allegations presented by Vyshinsky at Moscow, a number of conclusions might be suggested:

    1. From 1925 there was a Trotsky-Zinoviev-Kamenev bloc, or an “Opposition center,” which Trotsky states had an “executive committee; which functioned as an alternative party ‘central committee.’”
    2. Although Zinoviev and Kamenev were aligned for a time with Stalin in a troika, they repudiated this in favour of a counter-revolutionary alliance with Trotsky, and spoke at mass demonstrations, along with others such as Radek.
    3. Trotsky subsequently condemned Kamenev, Zinoviev et al as “contemptible” for “capitulating,” but Zinoviev, on Trotsky’s own account, was writing to him in November 1928 and warning of what he expected to be Stalin’s attacks.
    4. Was the vehemence with which Trotsky attacked Kamenev, Zinoviev and other Moscow defendants a mere ruse to throw off suspicion in regard to a united Opposition bloc, which, according to Rogovin,[87] had been formalized as an “anti-Stalinist bloc” in 1932?
    5. On Trotsky’s own account he and Zinoviev, Kamenev, Radek, et al had been at the forefront of a vast counter-revolutionary organization that was of sufficient strength to organize mass disruptions of official events in Moscow and Leningrad, which also had support among military and police personnel.

From his exile in Siberia in 1928, Trotsky on his own account, despite the ever-watchful eye of the GPU, made his home the center of opposition activities.[88] Trotsky had been treated leniently in Siberian exile, and was asked to refrain from opposition activities, but responded with a defiant letter to the All-Union Communist Party and to the Executive Committee of the Communist International, in which he referred to Stalin’s “narrow faction.” He refused to renounce what he called, “the struggle for the interests of the international proletariat...” In the letter to the Politburo dated 15 March 1933, Trotsky warned in grandiose manner:

I consider it my duty to make one more attempt to appeal to the sense of responsibility of those who presently lead the Soviet state. You know conditions better than I. If the internal development proceeds further on its present course, catastrophe is inevitable.[89]

As a means of saving the Soviet Union from self-destruction Trotsky advocated that the Left Opposition be accepted back into the Bolshevik party as an independent political tendency that would co-exist with all other factions, while not repudiating its own programme:[90]

Only from open and honest cooperation between the historically produced fractions, fully transforming them into tendencies in the party and eventually dissolving into it, can concrete conditions restore confidence in the leadership and resurrect the party.[91]

With the failure of the Politburo to reply to Trotsky’s ultimatum, he published both the letter and a statement entitled “An Explanation.”[92] Trotsky then cited his “declaration” in reply to the “ultimatum” he had received to forego oppositionist activities, to the Sixth Party Congress from his remote exile in Alma Ata. In this “declaration” he stated what could also be interpreted as revolutionary opposition to the regime, insofar as he considered that the USSR under Stalin had become a bureaucratic state composed of a “depraved officialdom” that was working for “class interests hostile to the proletariat”:

To demand from a revolutionary such a renunciation (of political activity, i.e., in the service of the party and the international revolution) would be possible only for a completely depraved officialdom. Only contemptible renegades would be capable of giving such a promise. I cannot alter anything in these words ... To everyone, his due. You wish to continue carrying out policies inspired by class forces hostile to the proletariat. We know our duty and we will do it to the end.[93]

The lack of reply from the Politburo in regard to Trotsky’s ultimatum to accept him back into the Government resulted in Trotsky’s final break with the Third International and the creation of the Fourth International in rivalry with the Stalinist parties throughout the world. Trotsky declared that the Bolshevik party and those parties following the Stalinist line, as well as the Comintern now only served an “uncontrolled bureaucracy.”[94] That his aims were something other than mass education and the acceptance of a “tendency” within the Bolshevik party became clearer in 1933 when he wrote that, “No normal ‘constitutional’ ways remain to remove the ruling clique. The bureaucracy can be compelled to yield power into the hands of the proletariat only by force.”[95] What he was advocating was a palace coup that would remove Stalin with minimal disruption. This meant not “an armed insurrection against the dictatorship of the proletariat but the removal of a malignant growth upon it…” These would not be “measures of a civil war but rather the measures of a police character.”[96] The intent was unequivocal, and it appears disingenuous for Trotsky and his apologists to the present day to insist that nothing was meant other than for Trotskyism to be accepted as a “tendency” within the Bolshevik party that could debate the issues in parliamentary fashion.

If Trotsky was less than honest with the fawning Dewey Commission, the farcical “cross examination” by the Commission’s counsel was not going to expose it. Heaven forbid that Trotsky could lie to serve his own cause, and that he could be anything but a saintly figure. Certainly a less than deferential attitude toward Trotsky by Beals was sufficient to set the one objective commissioner at loggerhead with the others. Of the lie as a political weapon, Trotsky was explicit. Trotsky had written in 1938, the very year of the third Moscow Trial, an article chastising a grouplet of German Marxists for adhering to “bourgeoisie” notions of morality such as truthfulness. He stated, “that morality is a product of social development; that there is nothing invariable about it; that it serves social interests; that these interests are contradictory; that morality more than any other form of ideology has a class character.”[97]

Norms “obligatory upon all” become the less forceful the sharper the character assumed by the class struggle. The highest pitch of the class struggle is civil war which explodes into mid-air all moral ties between the hostile classes. … This vacuity in the norms obligatory upon all arises from the fact that in all decisive questions people feel their class membership considerably more profoundly and more directly than their membership in “society”. The norms of “obligatory” morality are in reality charged with class, that is, antagonistic content. … Nevertheless, lying and violence “in themselves” warrant condemnation? Of course, even as does the class society which generates them. A society without social contradictions will naturally be a society without lies and violence. However there is no way of building a bridge to that society save by revolutionary, that is, violent means. The revolution itself is a product of class society and of necessity bears its traits. From the point of view of “eternal truths’ revolution is of course “anti-moral.” … It remains to be added that the very conception of truth and lie was born of social contradictions.[98]

Given the lengthy ideological discourse on the value of the lie and the relativity of morality, it is absurd to rely on any statement Trotsky and his followers make about anything. He lied and obfuscated to the Dewey Commission in the knowledge that he was among friends.

Kirov's Murder

The year after Trotsky’s ultimatum to the Politburo (1934) the popular functionary Kirov was murdered. Trotsky’s view of Kirov was not sympathetic, calling him a “rude satrap [whose killing] does not call forth any sympathy.”[99] The consensus now seems to be that Stalin arranged for the murder of Kirov to blame the opposition as justification for launching a murderous purge against his rivals. For example Robert Conquest states that Kirov was a moderate and a popular rival to Stalin, whose murder was both a means of eliminating a rival and of launching a purge.[100] Not only Trotskyites and eminent historians such as Conquest share this view, but also it was implied by Khrushchev during his 1956 “secret address” to the 20th Congress of the Communist Party.[101] After Stalin’s death several Soviet administrations undertook investigations to try and uncover definitive evidence against him.

The original source for the accusations against Stalin regarding Kirov seems to have been an anonymous “Letter of an Old Bolshevik” published in 1937.[102] It transpired that the “Old Bolshevik” was a Menshevik, Boris Nicolaevsky, who claimed that his information came from Bukharin when the latter was in Paris in 1936. In 1988 Bukharin’s widow published a book on her late husband in which she denied that any such discussions had taken place between Bukharin and Nicolaevsky, and considered the “Letter” to be a “spurious document.”[103]

In 1955 the Presidium of the Central Committee of the Communist Party commissioned P N Pospelov, the Secretary of the Central Committee, to investigate Stalinist repression. It had been the opinion of the party by this time that Stalin had been behind the murder of Kirov. Another commission of enquiry was undertaken in 1956. Neither found evidence that Stalin had a hand in the Kirov killing but the findings were not released by Khrushchev, former foreign minister Molotov remarking of the 1956 enquiry: “The commission concluded that Stalin was not implicated in Kirov’s assassination. Khrushchev refused to have the findings published since they didn’t serve his purpose.”[104] As recently as 1989 the USSR was still making efforts to implicate Stalin, and a Politburo Commission headed by A  Yakovlev was set up. The two year enquiry concluded that: “In this affair no materials objectively support Stalin’s participation or NKVD participation in the organisation and carrying out of Kirov’s murder.”[105] The findings of this enquiry were not released either.

J Arch Getty writes of the circumstances of the Kirov murder that the OGPU and the NKVD had infiltrated opposition groups and there had been sufficient evidence obtained to consider that the so-called Zinovievites were engaged in dangerous underground activity. Stalin consequently regarded this group as being behind the assassin, Nikolayev. Although their former followers were being rounded up, Pravda announced on December 23, 1934 that there was “insufficient evidence to try Zinoviev and Kamenev for the crime.”[106] When the trial against this bloc did occur two years later it was after many interrogations, and was therefore no hasty process. From the interrogations relative to the Kirov assassination Stalin found out about the continued existence of the Opposition bloc that focused partly around Zinoviev. Vadim Rogovin, a Professor at the Russian Academy of Sciences, wrote that Kamenev and Zinoviev had rejoined Trotsky and formed “the anti-Stalinist bloc in June 1932,” although Trotsky had maintained to the Dewey Commission and subsequently, that no such alliance existed and that he had nothing but contempt for Zinoviev and Kamenev. Rogovin, a Trotskyite academic having researched the Russian archives, stated:

Only after a new wave of arrests following Kirov’s assassination, after interrogations and reinterrogations of dozens of Oppositionists, did Stalin receive information about the 1932 bloc, which served as one of the main reasons for organizing the Great Purge.[107]

In 1934 Yakov Agranov, temporary head of the NKVD in Leningrad, had found connections between the assassin Nikolayev and leaders of the Leningrad Komsomol at the time of Zinoviev’s authority over the city. The most prominent was I I Kotolynov, whom Robert Conquest states “had, in fact, been a real oppositionist.”[108] Kotolynov, a “Zinovievite,” was among those of the so-called “Leningrad terrorist center” found guilty in 1934 of the death of Kirov. The investigation had been of long duration and the influence of Zinoviev’s followers had been established. However, there was considered to be insufficient evidence to charge Zinoviev and Kamenev.[109]

In 1935 other evidence came to light showing that Zinoviev and Kamenev were aware of the “terrorist sentiments” in Leningrad, which they had “inflamed.”[110] While several trials associated with the Kirov killing took place in 1935, in 1936 sufficient evidence had accrued to begin the first of the so-called “Moscow Trials,” of the “Trotsky -Zinoviev Terrorist Center,” including Trotsky and his son Sedov, who were tried in absentia. The defendant Sergei Mrachovsky testified that at the end of 1932 that a terrorist bloc was formed between the Trotskyites and the Zinovievites, stating:

That in the second half of 1932 the question was raised of the necessity of uniting the Trotskyite terrorist group with the Zinovievites. The question of this unification was raised by I N Smirnov… In the autumn of 1932 a letter was received from Trotsky in which he approved the decision to unite with the Zinovievites… Union must take place on the basis of terrorism, and Trotsky once again emphasised the necessity of killing Stalin, Voroshiloy and Kirov... The terrorist bloc of the Trotskyites and the Zinovievites was formed at the end of 1932.[111]

Despite the condemnation that such testimony has received from academia and media, this at least precisely accords with the relatively recent findings of the Trotskyite academic Prof. Rogovin, and the letter from Trotsky sent to Radek et al, in 1932, referred to by J Arch Getty. The Kirov investigations, which were a prelude to the Moscow Trials, were carefully undertaken. When there was still insufficient evidence against Trotsky, Zinoviev and Kamenev et al, this was conceded by the party press. When testimony was obtained implicating the leaders of an opposition bloc, this testimony has transpired to have conformed to what has come to light quite recently in both the Kremlin archives and the Trotsky papers at Harvard.

Rogovin’s Findings

The reality of the Opposition bloc in relation to the Moscow Trials was the theme of a lecture by Prof. Rogovin at Melbourne University in 1996. The motive of Rogovin was to present Trotskyism as having been an effective opposition within Stalinist Russia, and therefore he departs from the usual Trotskyite attitude of denial, stating:

. . . This myth says that virtually the entire population of the Soviet Union was reduced to a stunned silence by the terror, and either said nothing about the repression, or blindly believed in and supported the terror. This myth also claims that the victims of the repression were completely innocent of any crimes, including opposition to Stalin. They were, instead, victims of Stalin’s excessive paranoia. Since there was no serious opposition to the regime of Stalin, according to this myth, the victims were not guilty of such opposition.[112]

Rogovin alludes to anti-Stalinist leaflets that were being widely distributed in the USSR as late as 1938, calling for a “struggle against Stalin and his clique.” Rogovin also however states that there was much more to the opposition than isolated incidents of leaflet distribution:

Of course these are isolated incidents, but prior to the unleashing of the Great Terror there was a much more widespread, more serious, and well-organised opposition to Stalinism as a regime which had veered ever more widely away from the ideals of socialism.

This battle against Stalin began back in 1923 with the formation of the Left Opposition. The inner party struggle unfolded in ever sharper form throughout the 20s.

Thousands and thousands of communists took part in this opposition, openly in the early days and then, after opposition groups were banned, in illegal underground forms against the abolition of party democracy by the Stalinist party clique.

In 1932 the Opposition coalesced, “the old opposition groups” became more active, and “were joined by layers of newly-formed opposition groups.” Many representatives of the opposition groups that year began to discuss ways of uniting into an “anti-Stalinist bloc.” Rogovin states that the year previously Ivan Smirnov, one of the former leaders of the Left Opposition who had capitulated then returned to the opposition, went on an official trip to Berlin where he established contact with Trotsky’s son, Leon Sedov and discussed the need to “coordinate efforts between Trotsky and his son . . . .” What Rogovin states is in agreement with the supposedly forced confessions of the defendants at the Moscow Trials. J Arch Getty had also found similar material in the Trotsky Papers at Harvard, as previously referred to.

Rogovin states that it was only in 1935 and 1936, having assessed the information garnered from the Kirov investigation in 1934, that the secret police were able to find conclusive evidence on the existence of an anti-Stalinist bloc since 1932. “This was one of the main factors which drove Stalin to unleash the Great Terror,” states Rogovin, who also affirms the basis of the Stalinist accusations that “they did try to establish contact among themselves and fight for the overthrow of Stalin’s clique.”

Rogovin’s statements cannot be lightly dismissed. He was speaking as a sympathiser of Trotskyism, who had access to the Soviet archives in the writing of a six volume series on the political conflicts within the Communist Party SU and the Communist International between 1922 and 1940, of which Stalin’s Great Terror is volume four. On his sixtieth birthday in 1997, Rogovin received tribute from Trotskyite luminaries from Germany, Britain and the USA.[113]

Moscow Trials and the Comintern Pact

These events occurred at a time when the USSR was being encircled by hostile powers. War seemed inevitable, and the opposition bloc was of a type that any state in times of conflict could not afford to tolerate. The Anti-Comintern Pact was signed in 1936 between imperial Japan and Nazi Germany, forming an alliance of aggressive intent specifically aimed at the Soviet Union. While German expansion was ideologically based on annexing Russian territories,[114] the Moscow Trials and accusations against the Opposition bloc of complicity with foreign powers were taking place at a time when there was a likelihood of Japan also directing her expansion towards the USSR. The Japanese attacked the USSR in July 1938 and were halted at the Battle of Lake Khasan,[115] and although defeated, then moved in May 1939 into Mongolia up to the Khalkin Gol River.[116] The decisive victory of Russia here was enough to persuade the Japanese only then to re-direct their expansion into China and the Pacific.

From 1936, with the possibility of a two front war from expansionist powers which had joined in an overtly aggressive alliance, a more tolerant attitude by the Soviet regime against those who were advocating defeatism and discord, albeit couched in dialectical semantics about “defence of the degenerated workers’ state,” seems unrealistic, and was not even expected from the Western democracies in wartime, which went as far as classifying segments of their own populations as “enemy aliens” and interning them.[117]

Trotsky hoped that war would undermine the Stalinist regime and lead to a coup, just as World War I had produced a revolutionary situation. It is therefore disingenuous for Trotsky to insist that he was leading a “loyal opposition” that would defend a “degenerated workers’ state.” Trotsky had adopted a similar position in regard to World War I, contrary to the line insisted upon by Lenin,[118] in stating that he would support Russia’s continuation of the war against Germany, which made him the focus of British efforts via R H Bruce Lockhart, special agent to the British War Cabinet, to secure his support.[119] As Trotsky’s duplicity during World War I, and his close association with British Intelligence via R H Bruce Lockhart shows, Stalinist accusations of Trotskyite association with “foreign powers” was at least based on hard experience. Trotsky had shown himself willing to work with British intelligence during World War I in order to secure his own position to the point of defying Lenin.

Another important Moscow defendant, Karl Radek, had previously been an avid promoter of dialogue with the German extreme Right. Given that he was the living stereotype of an anti-Semitic caricature of what a “Jewish Bolshevik” was portrayed as being, there is nothing outlandish about the Stalinist allegation of oppositionists seeking alliances with Japan and Germany. Trotsky had been openly stating that a fascist war against the USSR would provide the revolutionary situation that would enable a coup against the Stalinist regime. Radek had eulogised before the Executive Committee of the Comintern in 1923, the “German Fascist” Schlageter, who had been executed by the French because of his resistance to the Ruhr occupation. Radek’s Bolshevik pitch was for an alliance with German “Fascism”: “We shall do all in our power to make men like Schlageter, who are prepared to go to their deaths for a common cause, not wanderers into the void, but wanderers into a better future for the whole of mankind…”[120] Given the situation confronting the Soviet Russia, form Japan and Germany, Stalin could not be complacent given the past actions of Radek, Trotsky, Zinoviev, Kamenev, and the intrigues of Smirnov and Holtzman et al.

While Trotsky claimed that in the event of war he was advocating the “defence of the degenerated workers’ state” on account of its nationalized economy, from the viewpoint of the Soviet regime, the Soviet Union could ill afford dissent and anti-state propaganda in the midst of war. Trotsky, despite his outrage at the allegation that he could play any part in assisting fascist or capitalist powers to invade the Soviet Union, nonetheless advocated a strategy that was to take advantage of the war to propagandise and subvert the Soviet Union to foment a revolutionary situation even among the armed forces, as the Bolsheviks had done during World War I:

We do not change our orientation. But suppose that Hitler turns his weapons to the East and invades the territories occupied by the Red Army ...? The Bolshevik-Leninists will combat Hitler, weapons in hand, but at the same time they will undertake a revolutionary propaganda against Stalin in order to prepare his overthrow at the next stage...[121]

With an attitude of the character openly stated by Trotsky, how tolerant was Stalin expected to be, in the face of extreme provocation at the time of immense internal and external problems? As will be shown below, when Trotsky was in authority, he did not possess any degree of toleration towards rivals and threats, both real and imagined, and did not flinch from having someone killed if it served his own agenda. Trotsky continued to call for a “revolutionary uprising” that implies something more than ‘educating the masses,” using class struggle phraseology to identify Stalin’s bureaucracy as a “class enemy”:

The Fourth International long ago recognized the necessity of overthrowing the bureaucracy by means of a revolutionary uprising of the toilers. Nothing else is proposed or can be proposed by those who proclaim the bureaucracy to be an exploiting “class.” The goal to be attained by the overthrow of the bureaucracy is the reestablishment of the rule of the Soviets, expelling from them the present bureaucracy . . . [122]

This was the nature of Trotsky’s continual call for the overthrow of the Soviet state as it was then constituted. Trotsky explained his position unequivocally in stating what he meant by ‘defending the Soviet state”:

This kind of “defense of the USSR” will naturally differ, as heaven does from earth, from the official defense which is now being conducted under the slogan: “For the Fatherland! For Stalin!” Our defense of the USSR is carried on under the slogan: “For Socialism! For the world revolution! Against Stalin!”[123]

How far could it be expected that Stalin should tolerate subversion and calls for the overthrow of his regime in the event of war with Japan and/or Germany? It is not a matter that was extended even to pacifists by the Western democracies during World War II, even in countries such as New Zealand who were relatively far form the war theatres. Additionally, the Western democracies did not even grant those confined for their pacifism the benefit of any legal proceedings; in contrast to the Moscow defendants, who were given full and public legal procedures according to the system of justice they had helped to create.

Moscow Trials in Accord with Soviet System

If the Trotskyites and their liberal and social democratic allies, as well as historians generally, regard the Moscow Trials as a modern-day “witch hunt,” it was one that proceeded in accordance with the system that Trotsky and the other defendants had fought to implement. The real source of the outrage comes from Stalin having outmanoeuvred his rivals, many such as Zinoviev and Kamenev having been opportunists who became the victims of their own system. Trotsky when in authority was as vehement about the need to eliminate saboteurs, plotters and conspirators as Stalin. Trotsky had stated in 1918: “By suppressing the Constituent Assembly the Soviets first and foremost broke politically the backbone of the intelligentsia’s sabotage. . . .We have broken the old sabotage and cleared out most of the old officials . . . .[124]

At this early period of the Bolshevik regime Trotsky was already alluding to “counter-revolutionary” plots within his own Red Army, yet when the same situation was suggested twenty years later in regard to Trotsky et al at the Moscow Trials, Trotsky fumed that any such suggestion was a lie. When Trotsky had the power he spoke and acted in ways that he and others – including mainstream historians – would describe as “Stalinism.” Trotsky wrote of these “plots”:

Running on ahead somewhat, I must mention that certain of our own Party comrades are afraid that the Army may become an instrument or a focus for counter-revolutionary plots. This danger, in so far as there is some justification for it, must compel us as a whole to direct our attention to the lower levels, to the rank-and-file soldiers of the Red Army. Here we can and must create a foundation such that any attempt to transform the Red Army into an instrument of counter-revolution will prove fruitless . . . . [125]

Yet it was precisely a strategy of Trotsky to try and form cadres within the Red Army, in particular during the course of war with Germany, which would enable him to reassume authority through a “police action” or coup that would replace the Stalinist apparatus.

Trotsky when in a position of authority was full of dark forebodings about sabotage and counter-revolution. One of the more shameful episodes was Trotsky’s falsifying evidence and fabricating charges against the commander of the Baltic Fleet, Aleksei Shchatsny. With impending capture of Helsingfors by German and Finnish White forces, and the order from the Commissariat of Naval Affairs under Trotsky to comply with the terms of the Brest-Litovsk Treaty, Shchatsny managed to get the Fleet to Kronstadt, a colossal achievement celebrated as the “Ice March of the Baltic Fleet.” Rabinowitch remarks of this: “Following this feat … He was now a popular hero, revered by the rank-and-file sailors as much as by his officers.”[126] However, the German threat to Kronstadt, Petrograd and the Baltic Fleet remained.[127] As German forces approached, there was a widespread belief that the Soviet authorities were complying with German demands and that Petrograd would be occupied. For the Soviet authorities in Moscow under Lenin and Trotsky the defence of Petrograd and of the Baltic Fleet were of secondary concern. [128]

Trotsky and Shchatsny were in conflict over Trotsky’s orders to scuttle the Baltic Fleet and demolish Fort Ino, “should the situation appear hopeless.” Shchatsny circulated Trotsky’s secret orders regarding the scuttling of the Fleet,[129] which put Trotsky in a poor light publicly. Trotsky protested indignantly at Shchatny’s trial, which he had instigated as a show trial against the acclaimed hero:

When, soon afterward, I received from Shchastny, who was at Kronstadt, a report that Fort Ino was, allegedly, threatened by a suddenly approaching German fleet, I replied, in conformity with my general directive, that, if the situation thus created became hopeless, the fort must be blown up. What did Shchastny do? He passed on this conditional directive in the form of a direct order from me for blowing up the fort, although there was no need for this to be done.[130]

Rabinowitch writes:

Information in Cheka and Naval archives indicates that Shchatsny was largely or wholly blameless in these matters, most importantly that he himself had prepared the fleet for demolition in the event of necessity and that his dissemination of Trotsky’s orders was less an effort to undermine Trotsky than a reflection of his close collaboration with the Baltic Fleet officer and sailor committees.[131]

Shchatsny submitted his resignation, but Trotsky refused it, ordered him to Moscow and,

set him up for arrest, and single-handedly organized an investigation, sham trial and death sentence on the spurious charge of attempting to overthrow the Petrograd Commune with the longer-term goal of overthrowing the Soviet republic.[132]

Trotsky condemned Shchatsny with allegations of “sowing panic,” “conspiracy,” having a “saviour” complex, and seeking power for himself:

Shchastny persistently and steadily deepened the gulf between the fleet and the Soviet power. Sowing panic, he steadily promoted his candidature for the role of savior. The vanguard of the conspiracy – the officers of the destroyer division – openly raised the slogan of a “dictatorship of the Baltic fleet.”

This was a definite political game – a great game, the goal of which was the seizure of power. When Messrs. Admirals and Generals start, during a revolution, to play their own personal political game, they must always be prepared to take responsibility for this game, if it should miscarry. Admiral Shchastny’s game has miscarried.[133]

Given the nature of Trotsky’s own agitation against the Stalinist regime, which includes a time when aggressive anti-Soviet powers were on the rise, a less deferential Dewey Commission might have asked of Trotsky, should he not “take responsibility for this game, if it should miscarry?” Trotsky in his own words had stated that his aim was the “seizure of power” through a palace coup, by infiltrating the police and armed forces. He had devoted years to agitating for the overthrow of the Soviet regime and creating a revolutionary organization for that purpose. Yet when faced with charges of the type that he had once trumped up against Shchastny in order to save have own position, Trotsky feigned great moral outage on the world stage, an outrage which extended beyond his own life and has had a permanent influence on the way much of the world perceives Russia, not only after the death of Stalin, but even after the demise of the USSR. Additionally, it appears that Trotsky, Zinoviev, Kamenev, Radek, Bukharin, and the others had a fairer and more judicial hearing than that received by Shchastny; or the many summarily executed during the years when Trotsky had authority in the Soviet state.

What can also be said about the Moscow Trials was that the confessions of the defendants, which are generally criticized and ridiculed as being delivered by rote as if the product of intense brainwashing and even torture, were also completely in accord with Bolshevik methodology. The character of these confessions was not unique to the Stalinist regime, and was an innate part of the Bolshevik mentality. To admit guilt even in the most abject manner not only before the tribunal of the Soviets but before what many of the defendants regarded as the tribunal of history did not require torture or brainwashing. Of these abject confessions for example, during the 1936 trial Kamenev, stated:

For ten years, if not more, I waged a struggle against the Party, against the government of the land of Soviets, and against Stalin personally. In this struggle, it seems to me, I utilized every weapon in the political arsenal known to me - open political discussion, attempts to penetrate into factories and works, illegal leaflets, secret printing presses, deception of the Party, the organization of street demonstrations, conspiracy and, finally, terrorism.[134]

Zinoviev stated:

We entered into an alliance with Trotsky. We filled the place of the Mensheviks, Socialist-Revolutionaries and white guards who could not come out openly in our country. We took the place of the terrorism of the Socialist-Revolutionaries. Not the pre-revolutionary terrorism which was directed against the autocracy, but the Right Socialist Revolutionaries’ terrorism of the period of the Civil War, when the S-R’s shot at Lenin. My defective Bolshevism became transformed into anti-Bolshevism, and through Trotskyism I arrived at fascism. Trotskyism is a variety of fascism, and Zinovievism is a variety of Trotskyism.[135]

If these confessions are looked at on their own merits, there is nothing outlandish about them. Rogovin has shown that there was such an Opposition bloc, that there were illegal printing presses operative; and Trotsky himself records the extent of the opposition, in alliance with Zinoviev and Kamenev, to the extent that they were able to mobilize thousands to disrupt the official October parades. While the Bolsheviks, whether Leninists or Stalinists or Trotskyites were, and are, rather loose with the smear-word “fascism” that is levelled at their opponents, “through Trotskyism” many did arrive at what was called in the USSR “fascism,” or more accurately avid support for US foreign policy during and after the Cold War, to the present time; to the point of Trotsky’s widow, Natalya Sedova, supporting the USA in Korea; and the entire Shachtmanite movement metamorphosing into anti-Sovietism and eventually the “neo-con” movement. The Stalinist analysis was in principle correct and prescient. History shows that the Stalinists saw in Trotskyism a movement that would end up being aligned with the most anti-Soviet elements, and there is nothing bizarre about the suspicion that Trotskyites and other oppositionists would seek alliance with actual “fascist” powers at a time when those powers were looking at for lebensraum. In the historical circumstances it would have been foolish for Stalin to ignore these trends, and to given them a tolerance that was not even accorded to “Christian pacifists” during World War II by the Western democracies, including those that were not in danger of invasion.

The abject natures of the defendants’ final pleas before the Court are comprehensible if we examine the Bolshevik method of self-criticism. They are prompted by an intense sense of self-guilt or shame regarding recognition of their own invidiousness when confronted with facts. Such abjectivity is not unheard of by murderers and others in the West in the present day. This could be called “The Judas Syndrome,” in regard to the legend of Judas having hanged himself in remorse for his betrayal of Christ.[136] Since 1929 the Soviet Union had embarked on a method known as Sama Kritica (“self-criticism”), which has its equivalent in the West known by such terms as “group therapy,” “sensitivity training” or “group encounters,” that became popular since the 1960s among corporations and government departments, in the USA especially, and has been promoted as therapeutic by “humanistic psychology.”[137] In the USSR in 1929 the slogan first appeared: “through Bolshevist self-criticism we will enforce the dictatorship of the proletariat.”[138] The population was divided into “collectives” of ten to twenty, who held meetings set in a circle where participants face one another, and each would undertake self-criticism and the confession of faults. However ‘self-criticism” was part of the Soviet system which was endorsed by Trotsky himself when he was in a position of authority, when he stated: “Without any doubt we are passing through a period of internal confusion, of great difficulty, and, what is most important, of self-criticism, which, let us hope, will lead to an inner cleansing and a new upsurge of the revolutionary movement.”[139] The abject nature of the confessions and final pleas of the Moscow defendants is hence not reliant on alleged threats, promises, torture or brainwashing. Trotsky was an advocate of “Marxist self-criticism” as early as 1904, at a time when he was closer to the Mensheviks. Robert Services comments on this: “outraging many Mensheviks he called for ‘Marxist self-criticism’ instead of ‘orthodox self-satisfaction.’”[140]

Stalin addressed the matter of “self-criticism” as a key Bolshevik mechanism eight years before the Moscow Trials. Writing in Pravda Stalin stated: “…As to self-criticism in our Party, its beginnings date back to the first appearance of Bolshevism in our country, to its very inception as a specific revolutionary trend in the working-class movement.”[141] Stalin also alluded to self-criticism appearing as a mechanism in 1904 in the Social Democratic party, quoting Lenin as stating, “self-criticism and ruthless exposure of its own shortcomings”[142] was a party method.

Indeed, as previously cited herein, Zinoviev had before the party Central Committee in July 1926, indulged in self-criticism, when he confessed that he had been wrong to have opposed Lenin and the Bolshevik coup in 1917 and to have opposed Trotsky, whose critique of the regime was correct. Hence, there was nothing new about the character of Zinoviev’s abjectivity at the Moscow Trial. He was a Judas who had been publicly exposed, like other defendants. Khrushchev’s “secret speech” to the Congress of the Communist Party in 1956, was a large-ranging example of “self-criticism.”[143]


The Moscow “Show Trials” operated within a system that had been created by those who became its victims. Within context they were therefore perfectly legitimate. The trials were undertaken during a time when aggressive powers had formed an alliance specifically aimed at the Soviet Union, against a background of intrigue long in the making by the defendants; in particular Trotsky, Zinoviev and Kamenev.

While it is disingenuous for Trotsky and his sympathisers to have the Moscow Trials viewed according to Western legal principles when they did not themselves subscribe to those principles, just as inadequate are the Western historians and writers who neglect to consider the historical background against which they were taking place.

There was indeed an Opposition bloc that was working to overthrow Stalin, and given the times and circumstances Stalin could ill afford to adopt a more “liberal” attitude when even the Western democracies later interned their dissidents during World War II as potential “fifth columnists,” including conscientious objectors, on the scantiest evidence at best.

With the prospect of a revived Russian super-power the spectre of Stalin is again being evoked by Western news media, politicians and academics, as are comparisons between the Moscow Trials and the present Russian trials of “dissident” oligarchs who are heralded in the West as the heirs to the like of Bukharin and as victims of a renascent Stalinism.


[1] One of Trotsky’s publishers was Secker & Warburg, London, which published the Dewey Commission’s report, The Case of Leon Trotsky, in 1937. The proprietor, Fredric Warburg, was to become head of the British section of the CIA-sponsored, Cold War-era Congress for Cultural Freedom. (Frances Stonor Saunders, The Cultural Cold War : The CIA and the World of Arts and Letters (New York: The New Press, 2000), p. 111.

Trotsky’s Where is Britain going? was published in 1926 by George Allen & Unwin. His autobiography, My Life, was published by Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1930. Stalin: an appraisal of the man and his influence, was published posthumously in 1946 by Harpers.

[2] The most salient example being the hagiographies by Isaac Deutscher, The Prophet Armed (1954), and The Prophet Unarmed: Trotsky 1921-1929 (1959), and The Prophet Outcast (Oxford University Press, 1963).

[3] K R Bolton, “Origins of the Cold War: How Stalin Foiled a New World Order,” Foreign Policy Journal, March 31, 2010,www.foreignpolicyjournal.com/origins-of-the-cold-war-how-stalin-foild-a-new-world-order/

Russian translation: “Origins of the Cold War,” Red Star, Russian Ministry of Defense, http://www.redstar.ru/2010/09/01_09/6_01.html

[4] K R Bolton, “Mikhail Gorbachev: Globalist Super-Star,” Foreign Policy Journal, April 3, 2011, http://www.foreignpolicyjournal.com/2011/04/03/

Russian translation: “Mikhail Gorbachev: Globalist Super-Star,” Perevodika, http://perevodika.ru/articles/18345.html

[5] Tony Halpin, “Vladimir Putin Praises Stalin for Creating a Super Power and Winning the War,” The Sunday Times, London, December 4, 2009, http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article6943477.ece

[6] K R Bolton, “The Globalist Web of Subversion,” The Foreign Policy Journal, February 7, 2011, http://www.foreignpolicyjournal.com/2011/02/07/the-globalist-web-of-subversion/all/1

[7] Tony Halpin, op. cit.

[8] Armand Hammer, Witness to History (Kent: Coronet Books, 1987), p. 160. Here Hammer relates his discussion with Trotsky and how the Commissar wished to attract foreign capital. Hammer later laments that this all turned sour under Stalin.

[9] Richard B Spence, “Interrupted Journey: British intelligence and the arrest of Leon Trotsky, April 1917,” Revolutionary Russia, 13 (1), 2000, pp. 1-28.

Spence, “Hidden Agendas: Spies, Lies and Intrigue Surrounding Trotsky’s American Visit January-April 1917,” Revolutionary Russia, Vol. 21, No. 1., 2008.


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

[11] The 1933 charges against employees of Metropolitan-Vickers, including six British engineers, accused of sabotage and espionage. M Sayers and A E Kahn, The Great Conspiracy Against Russia (London: Collett’s holdings, 1946), pp. 181-186.

[12] Brazil, Russia, India, China.

[13] K R Bolton, “Russia & China: An Approaching Conflict?,” The Journal of Social, Political & Economic Studies, Washington,  Vol. 34, No. 2, Summer 2009.

[14] Center for Conservative Studies, Moscow State University, http://konservatizm.org/

[15] KR Bolton, “An ANZAC-Indo-Russian Alliance? Geopolitical Alternatives for New Zealand and Australia: Dugin’s ‘Eurasian’ Geopolitical Paradigm,” pp. 188-190, India Quarterly, Vol. 66, No. 2, 2010.

[16] Yuri Gavrilechk, “Days of anger: new era of revolutions,” International Affairs, April 1, 2011; http://en.interaffairs.ru/read.php?item=200

[17]Elena Ponomareva, “A strategy aimed at ruining Libya, International Affairs, March 21, 2011, http://en.interaffairs.ru/read.php?item=196

[18] Sergei Shashkov, “The theory of ‘manageable chaos’ put into practice,” International Affairs, March 1, 2011, http://en.interaffairs.ru/read.php?item=189

[19] George H W Bush, speech before US Congress, March 6, 1991.

[20] P Gregory, “ What Paul Gregory is writing about,” December 18, 2010, http://whatpaulgregoryisthinkingabout.blogspot.com/2010/12/stalin-putin-justice-bukharin.html

[21] Jack Kemp, et al, Russia’s Wrong Direction: What the United States Can and Should do, Independent Task Force Report no. 57(New York: Council on Foreign Relations, 2006) xi. The entire publication can be downloaded at: < http://www.cfr.org/publication/9997/>

[22] “Senator McCain on Khodorkovsky and US-Russia relations,” Free Media Online, December 18, 2010, http://www.govoritamerika.us/rus/?p=17995

[23] C Gershman, “The Fourth Wave: Where the Middle East revolts fit in the history of democratization—and how we can support them,” The New Republic, March 14, 2011. NED, http://www.ned.org/about/board/meet-our-president/archived-presentations-and-articles/the-fourth-wave

[24] “The Case of the Trotskyite-Zinovievite Terrorist Centre,” Heard Before the Military Collegium of the Supreme Court of the U.S.S.R., Report of Court Proceedings, “Indictment,” Moscow, August 19-24, 1936.

[25] Sidney Hook, “Reader Letters: The Moscow Trials,” Commentary Magazine, New York, August 1984, http://www.commentarymagazine.com/article/the-moscow-trials/

[26] Joseph E. Davies, Mission to Moscow (London: Gollancz, 1942), p. 26.

[27]. Ibid., p. 34.

[28] London Observer, August 23, 1936.

[29] Walter Duranty, “Proof of a Plot Expected,” New York Times, August 17, 1936, p. 2.

[30] Davies, op. cit., p. 35.

[31] Cited by A Vaksberg, Stalin’s Prosecutor: The Life of Andrei Vyshinsky (New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991), p. 123.

[32] D N Pritt, “The Moscow Trial was Fair,” Russia Today, 1936-1937. Sloanhttp://www.marxists.org/history/international/comintern/

[33] Ibid.

[34] Ibid.

[35] Tomsky had committed suicide.

[36] Pritt, op. cit.

[37] Jeremy Murray-Brown, “The Moscow Trials,” Commentary, August 1984, http://www.commentarymagazine.com/article/the-moscow-trials/

[38] Ibid.

[39] Sidney Hook, Commentary, ibid.

[40] K R Bolton, “Origins of the Cold War,” op. cit.

[41] Central Intelligence Agency, “Cultural Cold War: Origins of the Congress for Cultural Freedom, 1949-50,” https://www.cia.gov/library/center-for-the-study-of-intelligence/kent-csi/docs/v38i5a10p.htm#rft1

[42] For example, a position supported by leading US Trotskyite Max Shachtman, Shachtmanism metamorphosing into a virulent anti-Sovietism, and providing the impetus for the formation of the National Endowment for Democracy. Trotsky’s widow Natalya as early into the Cold War as 1951 wrote a letter to the Executive Committee of the Fourth International and to the US Socialist Workers Party (May 9) stating that her late husband would not have supported North Korea against the USA, and that it was Stalin who was the major obstacle to world socialism. “Out of the Shadows,” Time, June 18, 1951. “Natalya Trotsky breaks with the Fourth International,” http://www.marxists.de/trotism/sedova/english.htm

Given the many Trotskyites and Trotsky sympathizers such as Sidney Hook, who became apologists for US foreign policy against the USSR, it might be asked whether Stalin’s contention that Trotskyites would act as agents of foreign powers was prescient?

[43] George Novack, “‘Introduction,’ The Case of Leon Trotsky,” International Socialist Review, Vol. 29, No.4, July-August 1968, pp.21-26.

[44] Ibid.

[45] “Russia: Trotsky and Woe,” Time, January 11, 1937. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,757254,00.html

[46] Novack, op. cit.

[47] Descriptions by Novack.

See also: John Dewey, Jo Ann Boydston, John J McDermot, John Dewey: The Later Works, (Southern Illinois University, 2008) p. 640.

[48] Carleton Beals, “The Fewer Outsiders the Better: The Master Comes to Judgement,” Saturday Evening Post, 12 June 1937. http://www.revleft.com/vb/fewer-outsiders-better-t124508/index.html?s=37316b1a8beb93cba88ad37731a4779c&amp.

[49] Ibid.

[50] John Chamberlain, A Life with the Printed Word, (Chicago: Regnery, 1982), p. 65.

[51] Veteran British Trotskyite Tony Cliff laments of this phenomena: “The list of former Trotskyists who in their Stalinophobia turned into hard-line Cold War liberals is much longer.” Tony Cliff, “The Darker the Night the Brighter the Star, 1927-1940,” http://www.marxists.org/archive/cliff/works/1993/trotsky4/15-ww2.html

[52] The Freeman, August 13, 1951, http://mises.org/journals/oldfreeman/Freeman51-8.pdf

La Follette served as “managing editor,” (p. 2).

[53] K R Bolton, “America’s ‘World Revolution’: Neo-Trotskyist Foundations of U.S. Foreign Policy,” Foreign Policy Journal, May 3, 2010,

[54] Ibid.

[55] In 1950 Goldman declared himself to be a “right-wing socialist.” In 1952 he admitted collaborating with the FBI, and stated, “if I were younger I would gladly offer my services in Korea, or especially in Europe where I could do some good fighting the Communists.” A M Wald, The New York Intellectuals, (New York 1987), p. 287.

[56] “British Trotskyism in 1931,” Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism Online: Revolutionary History, http://www.marxists.org/history/etol/revhist/backiss/vol1/no1/glotzer.html Glotzer was another of the Trotskyite veterans who became an ardent defender of the USA as the bulwark against Stalinism. He was prominent in the Social Democrats USA, whose honorary president was Sidney Hook.

[57] Gershman gave an eulogy at the “Albert Glotzer Memorial Service” in 1999. http://www.ned.org/about/board/meet-our-president/archived-presentations-and-articles/albert-glotzer-memorial-service

[58] John Dewey, Jo Ann Boydston, John J McDermot, op. cit., p. 641. Dewey is also shown here to have been in communication with American Trotskyite luminary Max Eastman.

[59] “Trotsky’s Trial,” Time, International Section, May 17, 1937.

[60] It would be a mistake nonetheless to see Time as an amiable pro-Soviet mouthpiece. Several months previously a lengthy Time article was scathing in its condemnation of the 1937 Moscow Trial and the confessions. “Old and New Bolsheviks,” Foreign News Section, Time, February 1, 1937. See also: “Russia: Lined With Despair,” Time, March 14, 1938.

[61] J Dewey, et al., The Case of Leon Trotsky:  Report of Hearings on the Charges Made Against Him in the Moscow Trials by the Preliminary Commission of Inquiry into the Charges Made Against Trotsky in the Moscow Trials, “Point 6: The Resignation of Carleton Beals,” 1937. http://www.marxists.org/archive/

[62] Carleton Beals, op. cit.

[63] Ibid.

[64] J Arch Getty, “Trotsky in Exile: The Founding of the Fourth International,” Soviet Studies, Vol.38, No. 1, January 1986, pp. 24-35.

[65] Getty, ibid., Footnote 18, Trotsky Papers, 15821.

[66] As will be shown below, Prof. Rogovin, a Trotskyite who has studied the Soviet archives, quite recently sought to show that the Trotskyites were the focus of an important Opposition bloc since 1932.

[67] Beals, op. cit.

[68] Ibid.

[69] K R Bolton, personal observations and experiences with academics.

[70] Leon Trotsky, My Life (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1930), Chapter 42, “The Last Period of Struggle within the Party,” http://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1930/mylife/ch42.htm

[71] Ibid.

[72] Verbatim Report of Central Committee, IV, p.33, cited by Trotsky at the “third session” of the Dewey Commission hearings. Trotsky alludes to this, writing: “Zinoviev and Kamenev openly avowed that the ‘Trotskyists’ had been right in the struggle against them ever since 1923.” Trotsky, ibid.

[73] Ibid.

[74] Ibid.

[75] Ibid.

[76] Ibid.

[77] The Case of Leon Trotsky, “Third Session,” April 12, 1937. http://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1937/dewey/session03.htm

[78] Ibid.

[79] Vyshinsky, “Verbatim Report,” p. 464, quoted by Goldman, The Case of Leon Trotsky, op. cit.

[80] Vadim Rogovin, 1937: Stalin's Year of Terror ( Mehring Books, 1998), p. 63. Note: Mehring Books is a Trotskyite publishing house.

[81] R Sewell, “The Moscow Trials” (Part I), Socialist Appeal, March 2000, http://www.trotsky.net/trotsky_year/moscow_trials.html

[82] Social-Demokraten, September 1, 1936, p. 1.

[83] The Case of Leon Trotsky, “Fifth Session, April 13, 1937, http://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1937/dewey/session05.htm

[84] Sven-Eric Holström, “New Evidence Concerning the ‘Hotel Bristol Question in the Fist Moscow Trial of 1936,” Cultural Logic, 2008, 6.2, “The Copenhagen Street Directory and Telephone Directory.”

[85] Ibid., 6.3, “Photographic evidence,” Figure 7.

[86] Getty, 1986, op. cit., p. 28.

[87] See: “Kirov Assassination” below.

[88] Trotsky, My Life, op. cit., Chapter 43.

[89] Trotsky, “A Letter to the Politburo,” March 15, 1933, Writings of Leon Trotsky (1932-33) (New York: Pathfinder Press) pp. 141-2.

[90] Ibid. “Renunciation of this programme is of course out of the question.”

[91] Ibid.

[92] “An Explanation,” May 13, 1933, Writings of Leon Trotsky (1932-33), ibid., p. 235.

[93] Trotsky, “Declaration to the Sixth Party Congress,” December 16, 1926, cited in Trotsky, My Life, op. cit., Chapter 44.

[94] Trotsky, “Nuzhno stroit' zanovo kommunistcheskie partii i International,” Bulletin of the Opposition, No. 36-37, p. 21, July 15, 1933.

[95] Trotsky, ‘Klassovaya priroda sovetskogo gosudarstava’, Bulletin of the Opposition, No. 36-37, October 1, 1933, pp. 1-12. At Moscow Vyshinsky cited this article as evidence that Trotsky advocated the violent overthrow of the Soviet state. The emphasis of the word “force” is Trotsky’s.

[96] Ibid.

[97] Trotsky, “Their Morals and Ours: In Memory of Leon Sedov,” The New International, Vol. IV, no. 6, June 1938, pp. 163-173, http://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/

The New International was edited by Max Shachtman, whose post-Trotskyite line laid a basis for the “neo-con” movement and support of US foreign policy during the Cold War. It was a Shachtmanite, Tom Kahn, who established the National Endowment for Democracy, which proceeds with a US version of the “world revolution.” Another New International editor was James Burnham, who became a proto-“neo-con” luminary during the Cold War. Professor Sidney Hook, one of the instigators of the Dewey Commission, and a CIA operative who was instrumental in forming the Congress for Cultural Freedom, for which he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Freedom from President Reagan, was a contributor to The New International. (December 1934, http://www.marxists.org/history/etol/writers/
; April 1936, http://www.marxists.org/history/etol/writers/hook/

Albert Goldman, Trotsky’s lawyer at the Mexico Dewey hearings, was also a contributor.

[98] Ibid.

[99] Trotsky, “Their Morals and Ours,” op. cit.

[100] R Conquest, Stalin and the Kirov Murder (London; 1989).

[101] N S Khrushchev, “Secret Address at the Twentieth Party Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union,” February 1956; Henry M Christman (ed.) Communism in Action: a documentary history (New York: Bantam Books, 1969), pp. 176-177.

[102] “Letter of an Old Bolshevik: The Key to the Moscow Trials,” New York, 1937.

[103] Anna Larina Bukharina, Nezabyvaemoe (Moscow, 1989); This I Cannot Forget (London, 1993), p. 276.

[104] A. Resis (ed.) Molotov Remembers (Chicago: Ivan R Dee, 1993), p. 353.

[105] A. Yakovlev, ‘O dekabr'skoi tragedii 1934’, Pravda, 28th January, 1991, p. 3, “The Politics of Repression Revisited,” in J. Arch Getty and Roberta T. Manning (editors), Stalinist Terror: New Perspectives (New York, 1993), p. 46.

[106] J Arch Getty, Origins of the Great Purges: The Soviet Communist Party Reconsidered: 1933-1938 (Cambridge; 1985), p. 48.

[107] Vadim Rogovin, 1937: Stalin's Year of Terror ( Mehring Books, 1988), p. 64.

[108] R Conquest, The Great Terror: Stalin’s Purge of the Thirties (London, 1973), p. 86.

[109] J Arch Getty, op. cit., p. 209.

[110] The Crime of the Zinoviev Opposition (Moscow, 1935), pp. 33-41.

[111] Report of Court Proceedings: The Case of the Trotskyite-Zinovievite Terrorist Centre (Moscow, 1936), pp. 41-42.

[112] Vadim Rogovin, “Stalin’s Great Terror: Origins and Consequences,” lecture, University of Melbourne, May 28, 1996. World Socialist Website: http://www.wsws.org/exhibits/1937/lecture1.htm

[113] http://www.wsws.org/exhibits/1937/title.htm

[114] A Hitler, Mein Kampf (London: Hurst and Blackett, 1939), Ch. 9, “Germany’s Policy in Eastern Europe,” pp. 533-541.

[115] Alvin D Coox, Nomonhan: Japan Against Russia, 1939 ( Stanford University Press, 1990), p.189.

[116] Amnon Sella, “Khalkhin-Gol: The Forgotten War,” Journal of Contemporary History, Vol. 18, no.4, October 1983, pp. 651–87.

[117] For example, those of Italian and German descent, including even German-Jewish refugees fleeing Germany, were interned on Soames Island, in Wellington Harbour, New Zealand, as potential “enemy aliens.” Conscientious Objectors, none of whom were “fascists,” but mostly Christian pacifists, were harshly treated and interned in New Zealand, in “military defaulters’ camps.” See: W J Foote, Bread and Water: the escape and ordeal of two New Zealand World War II conscientious objectors (Wellington: Philip Garside Publishing, 2000). In Britain under Regulation 18B around 800 suspected potential “fifth columnists” and pacifists were interned without charge or trial, including many ex-servicemen, some on active duty, including some prominent figures such as Admiral Sir Barry Domvile, and Capt. A H M Ramsay, Member of Parliament, for having opposed war with Germany or for campaigning for a negotiated peace. See: Barry Domville, From Admiral to Cabin Boy (London: Boswell Publishing, 1947). The USA had its own “show trial” in 1944 called the “Sedition Trial” which took over seven months and ended in a mistrial of a disparate collection of individuals who had in some manner opposed US entry into the war. See: Lawrence Dennis and Maxmillian St George, A Trial on Trial (Washington: National Civil Rights Committee, 1945).

[118] “Calls people war weary. But Leo Trotsky says they do not want separate peace,” New York Times, March 16, 1917.

[119] Lockhart said of Trotsky, whom he was seeing on a daily basis that, “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.” R H Bruce Lockhart, British Agent (London: G P Putnam’s Sons, 1933), Book Four, “History From the Inside,” Chapter 3. http://www.gwpda.org/wwi-www/BritAgent/BA04a.htm .

[120] K Radek, “Leo Schlageter: The Wanderer into the Void,” Speech at a plenum of the Executive Committee of the Communist International, June 1923.


[121] Trotsky, “The USSR in the War” (September 1939), The New International, New York, November 1939, Vol. 5, No. 11, pp. 325-332.

[122] Trotsky, “The USSR in the War: Are the Differences Political or Terminological?,” ibid.

[123] Trotsky, “The USSR in the War: We Do Not Change Our Course!”, ibid.

[124] Trotsky, The Military Writings of Leon Trotsky, “How the Revolution Armed,” Volume 1, 1918, “The Internal and External Situation of the Soviet Power in the Spring of 1918, Work, Discipline, Order;” Report to Moscow City Conference of the Russian Communist Party, March 28, 1918. http://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1918/military/ch05.htm 

[125] Ibid.

[126] Alexander Rabinowitch, The Bolsheviks in Power: The First Year of Soviet Rule in Petrograd (Indiana University Press, 2007), p. 238.

[127] Ibid., p. 238.

[128] Ibid., p. 242.

[129] Ibid., p. 243.

[130] Trotsky, The Military Writings of Leon Trotsky, Vol. 1, “The First Betrayal,” http://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1918/military/ch16.htm

[131] Rabinowitch, op. cit., p. 243.

[132] Ibid., p. 243.

[133] Trotsky, The Military Writings of Leon Trotsky, Vol. 1, “The First Betrayal,” op. cit.

[134] The Case of the Trotskyite-Zinovievite Terrorist Centre, Heard Before the Military Collegium of the Supreme Court of the U.S.S.R., “Last Pleas of Kamenev, Zinoviev, Smirnov, Olberg, Berman-Yurin, Holtzman, N. Lurye and M. Lurye,” August 23, 1936, (morning session). http://www.marxistsfr.org/history/ussr/government/law/1936/moscow-trials/index.htm

[135] Ibid.

[136] Matthew 27: 5.

[137] This “group therapy” and “sensitivity training” in the West has been described as an “institutional procedure of both coercive and informal persuasion.” Irving R Weschler and Edgar H Schein (ed.) Issues in Training, National Training Laboratories, National Education Association, Washington DC, 1962, Series 5, p. 47. The National Training Institute provided “sensitivity classes” for hundreds of State Department employees, including ambassadors, during the 1960s.

[138] William Fairburn, Russia – The Utopia in Chains, (New York: Nation Press Printing, 1931), p. 257.

[139] Trotsky, The Military Writings of Leon Trotsky, “How the Revolution Armed, op. cit.

[140] Robert Service, Trotsky: A Biography (London: Macmillan, 2009), p. 79.

[141] J V Stalin, “Against Vulgarising the Slogan of Self-Criticism,” Pravda, No. 146, June, 1928; J V Stalin Works (Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1954), Vol. 11, p. 133.

[142] Ibid.

[143] N S Khrushchev, op. cit.

Source: Foreign Policy Journal

lundi, 09 janvier 2012

When Fascism Was On the Left

When Fascism Was On the Left

by Keith Preston

Ex: http://www.alternativeright.com/

mussolini-bersagliere-2d8e07d.jpgThe conventional left/right model of the political spectrum holds Fascism and Marxism to be polar opposites of one another. Marxism is regarded as an ideology of the extreme Left while Fascism supposedly represents an outlook that is about as far to the Right as one can go. A title recently translated into English by Portugal’s Finis Mundi Press, Eric Norling’s Revolutionary Fascism, does much to call the perception of Fascism, conceived of as it was by Mussolini and his cohorts, as an ideology of the extreme Right into question.

This work was originally published in 2001 and author Norling, a historian and lawyer, is a native Swede who now resides in Spain. Norling observes that throughout the entirety of his early life, from childhood until World War One, Mussolini was every bit as much as man of the Left as contemporaries such as Eugene V. Debs. He was what would later come to be known as a “red diaper baby” (meaning the child of revolutionary socialist parents). As a young man, Mussolini himself was a Marxist, fervently anticlerical, went to Switzerland to evade compulsory military service, and was arrested and imprisoned for inciting militant strikes. Eventually, he became a leader in Italy’s Socialist Party and he was imprisoned once again in 1911 for his antiwar activities related to Italy’s invasion of Libya. Mussolini was so prominent a socialist at this point in his career that he won the praise of Lenin who considered him to be the rightful head of a future Italian socialist state.

When World War One began in 1914, Mussolini initially held to the Italian Socialist Party’s antiwar position, but in the ensuing months switched to a pro-war position which earned him an expulsion from the party. He then enlisted in the Italian army and was wounded in combat. The reasons for Mussolini’s shift to a pro-war position are essential to understanding the true origins and nature of fascism and its place within the context of twentieth century political and intellectual history. Mussolini came to see the war as an anti-imperialist struggle against the Hapsburg dynasty of Austria-Hungary. Further, he regarded the war as an anti-monarchist struggle against conservative forces such as the Hapsburgs, the Ottoman Turks, and the Hohenzollern’s of Germany and attacked these regimes as reactionary enemies who had repressed socialism. Mussolini also prophetically believed that Russia’s participation in the war would weaken that nation to the point where it was susceptible to socialist revolution (which is precisely what happened). In other words, Mussolini regarded the war as an opportunity to advance leftist revolutionary struggles in Italy and elsewhere.

When the Italian Fascist movement was founded in 1919, most of its leaders and theoreticians were, like Mussolini himself, former Marxists and other radical leftists such as proponents of the revolutionary syndicalist doctrines of Georges Sorel. The official programs issued by the Fascists, translations of which are included in Norling’s book, reflected a standard mixture of republican and socialist ideas that would have been common to any European leftist group of the era. If indeed the evidence is overwhelming that Fascism has its roots on the far Left, then from where does Fascism’s reputation as a rightist ideology originate?

The answer appears to be a combination of three primary factors: Marxist propaganda that has regrettably found its way into the mainstream historiography, the revision of leftist revolutionary doctrine itself by Fascist leaders, and the inevitable compromises and accommodations made by Fascism upon the achievement of actual state power. Regarding the first these, David Ramsay Steele described the standard Marxist interpretation of Fascism in an important article on Fascism’s history:

In the 1930s, the perception of "fascism"in the English-speaking world morphed from an exotic, even chic, Italian novelty into an all-purpose symbol of evil. Under the influence of leftist writers, a view of fascism was disseminated which has remained dominant among intellectuals until today. It goes as follows:

Fascism is capitalism with the mask off. It's a tool of Big Business, which rules through democracy until it feels mortally threatened, then unleashes fascism. Mussolini and Hitler were put into power by Big Business, because Big Business was challenged by the revolutionary working class. We naturally have to explain, then, how fascism can be a mass movement, and one that is neither led nor organized by Big Business. The explanation is that Fascism does it by fiendishly clever use of ritual and symbol. Fascism as an intellectual doctrine is empty of serious content, or alternatively, its content is an incoherent hodge-podge. Fascism's appeal is a matter of emotions rather than ideas. It relies on hymn-singing, flag-waving, and other mummery, which are nothing more than irrational devices employed by the Fascist leaders who have been paid by Big Business to manipulate the masses.

This perception continues to be the standard leftist “analysis” of Fascism even in present times, and goes a long way towards explaining why, for instance, American political movements or figures that have absolutely nothing to do with historic Fascism, such as the Tea Party or the neocon mouthpieces of FOX News or “conservative” talk radio, continue to be recipients of the “fascist” label by atavistic liberals and leftists.

The reality of Fascism’s origins was quite different. Its creators were an assortment of leftist intellectuals and political figures whose common reference point was their realization that Marxism was a failed ideology. As Steele observed:

Fascism began as a revision of Marxism by Marxists, a revision which developed in successive stages, so that these Marxists gradually stopped thinking of themselves as Marxists, and eventually stopped thinking of themselves as socialists. They never stopped thinking of themselves as anti-liberal revolutionaries.

The Crisis of Marxism occurred in the 1890s. Marxist intellectuals could claim to speak for mass socialist movements across continental Europe, yet it became clear in those years that Marxism had survived into a world which Marx had believed could not possibly exist. The workers were becoming richer, the working class was fragmented into sections with different interests, technological advance was accelerating rather than meeting a roadblock, the "rate of profit" was not falling, the number of wealthy investors ("magnates of capital") was not falling but increasing, industrial concentration was not increasing, and in all countries the workers were putting their country above their class.

The early Fascists were former Marxists who had come to doubt the revolutionary potential of class struggle, but had simultaneously come to regard revolutionary nationalism as showing considerable promise. As Mussolini remarked in a speech on December 5, 1914:

The nation has not disappeared. We used to believe that the concept was totally without substance. Instead we see the nation arise as a palpitating reality before us!...Class cannot destroy the nation. Class reveals itself as a collection of interests—but the nation is a history of sentiments, traditions, language, culture, and race. Class can become an integral part of the nation, but the one cannot eclipse the other. The class struggle is a vain formula, with effect and consequence wherever one finds a people that has not integrated itself into its proper linguistic and racial confines—where the national problem has not been definitely resolved. In such circumstances the class movement finds itself impaired by an inauspicious historic climate.

Fascism subsequently abandoned class struggle for a revolutionary nationalist outlook that stood for class collaboration under the leadership of a strong state that was capable of unifying the nation and accelerating industrial development. Indeed, Steele made an interesting observation concerning the similarities between Italian and Third World Marxist “national liberation” movements of the second half of the twentieth century:

The logic underlying their shifting position was that there was unfortunately going to be no working-class revolution, either in the advanced countries, or in less developed countries like Italy. Italy was on its own, and Italy's problem was low industrial output. Italy was an exploited proletarian nation, while the richer countries were bloated bourgeois nations. The nation was the myth which could unite the productive classes behind a drive to expand output. These ideas foreshadowed the Third World propaganda of the 1950s and 1960s, in which aspiring elites in economically backward countries represented their own less than scrupulously humane rule as "progressive" because it would accelerate Third World development. From Nkrumah to Castro, Third World dictators would walk in Mussolini's footsteps. Fascism was a full dress rehearsal for post-war Third Worldism.

During its twenty-three years in power, Mussolini’s regime certainly made considerable concessions to traditionally conservative interests such as the monarchy, big business, and the Catholic Church. These pragmatic accommodations borne of political necessity are among the evidences typically offered by leftists as indications of Fascism’s rightist nature. Yet there is abundant evidence that Mussolini essentially remained a socialist throughout the entirety of his political life. By 1935, thirteen years after Mussolini seized power in the March on Rome, seventy-five percent of Italian industry had either been nationalized outright or brought under intensive state control. Indeed, it was towards the end of both his life and the life of his regime that Mussolini’s economic policies were at their most leftist.

After briefly losing power for a couple of months during the summer of 1943, Mussolini returned as Italy’s head of state with German assistance and set up what came to be called the Italian Social Republic. The regime subsequently nationalized all companies employing more than a hundred workers, redistributed housing that was formerly privately owned to its worker occupants, engaged in land redistribution, and witnessed a number of prominent Marxists joining the Mussolini government, including Nicola Bombacci, the founder of the Italian Communist Party and a personal friend of Lenin. These events are described in considerable detail in Norling’s work.

It would appear that the historic bitter rivalry between Marxists and Fascists is less a conflict between the Left and the Right, and more of a conflict between erstwhile siblings on the Left. This should come as no particular surprise given the penchant of radical leftist groupings for sectarian blood feuds. Indeed, it might be plausibly argued that leftist ”anti-fascism” is rooted in jealously of a more successful relative as much as anything else. As Steele noted:

Mussolini believed that Fascism was an international movement. He expected that both decadent bourgeois democracy and dogmatic Marxism-Leninism would everywhere give way to Fascism, that the twentieth century would be a century of Fascism. Like his leftist contemporaries, he underestimated the resilience of both democracy and free-market liberalism. But in substance Mussolini's prediction was fulfilled: most of the world's people in the second half of the twentieth century were ruled by governments which were closer in practice to Fascism than they were either to liberalism or to Marxism-Leninism. The twentieth century was indeed the Fascist century.

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17 millions de victimes de la traite musulmane

17 millions de victimes de la traite musulmane

Entretien avec le Prof. Jacques Heers

Ex: http://anti-mythes.blogspot.com/

A partir du VIIe siècle, les musulmans ont pratiqué une traite esclavagiste touchant à la fois les Européens et les Africains. Agrégé et docteur en histoire, Jacques Heers a été professeur des universités et directeur du département d'études médiévales à la Sorbonne. Il a consacré plusieurs ouvrages à l'esclavage médiéval en Méditerranée, aux Barbaresques et aux négriers en terre d'islam (1), qui viennent d'être réédités. Autant dire que nul n'est mieux placé que lui pour parler de la traite musulmane.

Le Choc du mois : Y -a-t-il une spécificité de la traite musulmane ?

Jacques Heers : Il y en a deux. Son importance quantitative, d'abord. Les conquêtes musulmanes ont été d'une ampleur et d'une brutalité inédites. Et puis le fait que les musuhnans ont ajouté une dimension religieuse à l'esclavage, en distinguant très nettement le «fidèle», de «l'infidèle». En résumé, la théorisation du djihad et l'expansion territoriale musulmane aboutissent effectivement à l'apparition d'une forme d'esclavage tout à fait spécifique.

Même si certains exégètes affirment le contraire, le Coran tolère parfaitement l'asservissement des «chiens de mécréants». Confrontés à la question cie l'esclavage, les docteurs de la loi rendaient en général le même verdict : le prisonnier infidèle doit demeurer esclave, même s'il se convertit aussitôt ; c'est la punition de sa mécréance passée. En revanche, le captif musulman, même ramené «chargé de chaînes» doit immédiatement retrouver la liberté.

Théoriquement, le Coran interdit de réduire un musulman en esclavage, mais en pratique, les exceptions abondent, pour des raisons plus ou moins légitimes : les victimes sont de « mauvais musulmans », etc.

Quand apparaît la traite musulmane ?

Dès la naissance de l'islam, au VIIe siècle! Mahomet et ses fidèles possédaient des esclaves. C'était toutefois une pratique courante, durant toute l'Antiquité. Il n'est pas étonnant que les peuples orientaux, au cours du Haut Moyen Age, la perpétuent à leur bénéfice.

Au début de l'hégire, les esclaves sont essentiellement blancs...

Comment les musulmans se procurent-ils leurs esclaves ?

Essentiellement par la guerre. Les « cavaliers d'Allah » conquièrent, asservissent ou convertissent les populations cles Balkans, d'Asie Mineure et d'Europe. Ils ramènent d'immenses cohortes de prisonniers, hommes et femmes. On a vu des Sarrasins mener des razzias jusque dans les Alpes, au IX' siècle ! En 997, le calife al-Mansur, qui régnait sur l'Espagne arabo-musulmane - al Andalous - mena une interminable razzia dans les royaumes chrétiens du nord de la péninsule. Il s'enfonça jusqu'au cœur de la Galice, laissant Saint-Jacques-de-compostelle en ruines.

Toujours en Espagne, au XII' siècle, des flottes musulmanes croisent sur les côtes de Galice et, au petit matin, lancent des attaques sur les villages de pêcheurs. En Méditerranée, sur un autre front, les musulmans, maîtres de la Sicile, lancent des chevauchées contre les grands monastères et sur les routes de pèlerinage vers Rome. Ailleurs, les pirates musulmans ravagent les côtes du Languedoc ou de Toscane avec des flottes atteignant parfois cinquante galères ! Et chaque guerre apporte son lot de captifs, qui sont aussitôt convoyés pour être vendus sur les marchés, de l'Espagne au Maghreb et jusqu'en Orient...

Il y a une réelle préférence pour les esclaves blancs...

Les musulmans ont pratiqué la traite des Noirs, mais dans les premiers temps de l'hégire, l'ère d'expansion islamique, les esclaves étaient essentiellement des Blancs. Laissez-moi vous citer le savant Ibn Haukal, qui affirmait, au temps de l'Espagne arabo-musulmane que « le plus bel article importé d'Espagne sont les esclaves, des filles et de beaux garçons qui ont été enlevés dans le pays des Francs et dans la Galice. Tous les eunuques slaves qu'on trouve sur la terre sont amenés d'Espagne et aussitôt qu'ils arrivent, on les châtre. Ce sont des marchands juifs qui font ça ». Le géographe Ibn al-Fakih, lui, racontait que « de la mer occidentale, arrivent en Orient les esclaves hommes, romains, francs, lombards et les femmes, romaines et andalouses ».

Quand la traite musulmane cesse-t'elle en direction de l'Europe ?

Elle s'est considérablement réduite lorsque les Arabes ont passé le Sahara pour aller razzier l'Afrique noire. Mais elle a très vite repris, dès les années 800, avec la piraterie. Elle s'intensifie en 1517, lorsque Alger, véritable nid de pirates, tombe aux mains des Turcs. La guerre de course fait alors partie intégrante du plan de conquête de la Méditerranée par les Ottomans. L'esclavage des chrétiens, méthodiquement mené, redouble.

Dans le même temps, les Barbaresques assiègent Rhodes en 1522 et Malte en 1565. S'ils perdent Rhodes en 1523, les chevaliers de Malte repoussent les musulmans en 1566. L'ordre de Malte devient une véritable sentinelle de la Méditerranée. Ses marins font régner la terreur chez les musulmans et pratiquent eux-mêmes l'esclavage ! Ils jouent un rôle clef dans la bataille de Lépante en 1571, qui marque le grand coup d'arrêt aux incursions musulmanes en Europe.

En 1888, à Médine, 5.000 esclaves sont vendus dans l'année


Mais les musulmans poursuivent la traite des chrétiens en Afrique noire...


Exact. Il y a trois grandes routes de traite. La première mène en Afrique de l'Ouest sahélienne, où le commerce des esclaves fait traditionnellement partie des échanges transsahariens. La deuxième passe par la mer Rouge et le Soudan. En Arabie, en 1888, sur le seul marché de Médine, l'on peut vendre 5 000 esclaves par an. La troisième traite se passe sur la côte d'Afrique de l'Est, où Zanzibar devient le plus grand marché d'esclaves au monde.

La première traite est la plus longue et occasionne de nombreuses pertes. Elle passe par l'Egypte, dont les musulmans sont devenus maîtres, et le Sahara. Elle est d'abord faite de razzias, puis, à partir du IX' siècle, repose sur la conquête de royaumes noirs et le négoce avec les marchands d'esclaves.

Quelles sont les principales cibles ?

Le royaume chrétien d'Ethiopie. Les Egyptiens l'attaquent en passant par la vallée du Nil. Les Arabes traversent la mer Rouge. A l'ouest, les Marocains osent une traversée de cent jours de marche après Marrakech, dont au moins la moitié à travers le Sahara.

Le retour est un enfer. Le Niger, le Sénégal et le Mali sont également touchés ... Des forbans musulmans lancent des razzias le long des côtes de l'océan Indien avec des boutres - de rapides voiliers. Dans les royaumes islamiques du Soudan, les chasses aux esclaves mobilisent chaque année de forts partis de cavaliers. Ils repèrent les villages les plus intéressants et partent par petits groupes. Ils montent des chameaux de race, s'approvisionnent en eau, marchent la nuit et attaquent au petit matin. Les opérations devant être rentables, ils évitent les lieux trop bien protégés et n'attaquent qu'à coup sûr. Une fois maîtres du terrain, ils massacrent les faibles et les vieillards pour n'emmener que les malheureux en état de servir.

Pour être honnête, il faut ajouter que des négociants sont aussi sur les rangs, car des rois noirs, près du Tchad par exemple, les informent du lancement des grandes chasses aux esclaves. Ils vont s'installer dans les villages, en attendant - à leurs frais - le retour de l'expédition.

Comment les esclaves sont-ils traités ?

Très mal, car ils sont gratuits et en grand nombre. Contrairement à la traite atlantique, il n'a pas fallu négocier avec des rois esclavagistes. Il a suffi de tuer ceux qui se défendaient !

Sur la route de leur captivité, les esclave vivaient un enfer. La traite occasionne des pertes terribles tant dans leurs rangs que dans ceux des convoyeurs. Les plus faibles sont abandonnés sans pitié. Les témoignages sont horribles : les hommes et les femmes meurent de soif, en sont parfois réduits à ouvrir la panse des animaux pour y trouver de l'eau. Les esclaves malades ou affaiblis sont abandonnés en route à une mort certaine. Des négociants expliquent tranquillement à leurs associés, restés en Arabie qu'il a fallu, ici où là, égorger quatre femmes «fanées» et émasculer deux enfants pour ne pas perdre de temps dans le désert et préserver la cargaison. A l'arrivée, selon la difficulté de la traversée, les survivants sont vendus avec une marge de 200 à 300 %. C'est une façon de compenser les pertes.

De quoi se compose une cargaison d'esclaves ?

Essentiellement des jeunes femmes, blanches ou noires. Des enfants et des hommes solides. Ne restent que les personnes en bonne santé. Les autres sont morts en route. En chemin, pour ècouler les «cargaisons»: plus vite, certains campements se transforment en marché, où les grossistes viennent faire un premier choix. Puis on arrive dans les grandes places, comme Zanzibar ou Bagdad. Les acheteurs peuvent examiner leur marchandise, regarder les dent, l'élasticité d'une poitrine, constater si une jeune femme est vierge ou déflorée, mesurer la vivacité intellectuelle ou la force physique d'un esclave, son adresse...

Le Caire est un gigantesque marché, où l'on trouve toute sorte de captifs. Au XIX' siècle, Gérard de Nerval, dans son voyage au Caire(2), raconte comment plusieurs marchands «basanés» l'abordent pour lui proposer «des Noires ou des Abyssiniennes»...

Que deviennent les victimes ?

Elles servent sur les chantiers publics ou au service d'un maître.

A la Bourse aux esclaves, les négriers spéculent

Il y a également les bagnes ?
Là, c'est l'époque des Barbaresques et des Ottomans. Alors qu'à Bagdad ou au Caire, on trouve une majorité d'esclaves noirs, les bagnes d'Alger ou de Tunis comportent surtout des Blancs. Ils maintenaient à eux seuls toute l'activité économique locale : les chantiers navals, les fabriques, les commerces ... Alors que les villes d'Egypte achetaient aux caravaniers du désert des milliers d'esclaves venus d'Afrique, les cités corsaires du Maghreb s'épargnaient ces dépenses, grâce à la guerre.

Une fois la part du sultan mise de côté, les captifs des Barbaresques passaient directement de l'entrepont du navire au marché. Des négociants les mettaient aux enchères, à la criée. Ceux visiblement inaptes aux travaux de force, mais dont on espère tirer une bonne rançon, valent jusqu'à sept fois un homme valide. Les Turcs et les Maures spéculent quotidiennement sur la valeur de leurs esclaves. Faut-il acheter ou vendre? C'est un peu une Bourse avant l'heure...

Comment vivaient ces esclaves ?

Le plus souvent en groupes, logés dans les bagnes - sept, rien qu'à Alger. A Tunis ou Tripoli, ils portaient plus de dix kilos de fers. Les esclaves en terre d'islam n'avaient pas le droit de fonder une famille et n'avaient pas ou peu d'enfants. Pour des raisons très simples : le grand nombre d'eunuques, l'interdiction faite aux femmes de se marier et une mortalité très élevée.

Les conditions de vie étaient épouvantables. Les captifs étaient battus à la moindre occasion, dormaient dans de pauvres hamacs, pendus les uns au-Dessus des autres. Ils souffraient du froid en hiver, de la chaleur en été, de l'humidité et des vermines en toute saison.

Et l'hygiène ?

Pas d'hygiène, puisqu'ils devaient payer leur eau ! Elle leur servait essentiellement à boire. Il leur était impossible de se laver régulièrement, encore moins de laver les hardes leur servant de vêtements ... Vous imaginez que, rapidement, les frottements de tissus crasseux sur les peaux sales provoquaient des irritations, des furoncles et de nombreuses maladies, qui concourraient à la mortalité.

Et le travail ?

Le matin, à peine nourris, ils partaient vers les chantiers ou les demeures de leurs maîtres, leur atelier ou leur boutique. Les mieux lotis - une minorité - étaient loués à des diplomates chrétiens : ils menaient alors l'existence d'un domestique européen.

La condition la plus difficile, d'un certain point de vue, était celle des femmes et des enfants. Les femmes avaient généralement un sort misérable, exposées à la vente comme des bêtes, forcées de servir, en butte à tous les abus, parfois prostituées pour le compte de leur maître... Contrairement aux légencles des Mille et Une Nuits, les récits des musulmans tranchent avec les textes des juifs et des chrétiens par le nombre d'histoires et de remarques salaces sur les « qualités », sexuelles des femmes.

Des esclaves chrétiens sont brûlés vifs à Alger !

Etait-il possible de fuir ?

Difficilement. Certains captifs acceptaient de servir de mouchards en échange de menus arrangements. La surveillance était assez stricte et les punitions terribles. Un texte raconte qu'à Alger, « lorsqu'un chrétien était pris à fuir, (le sultan Hassan Pacha) le faisait saisir par ses esclaves et brûler vif en leur présence; il faisait bâtonner les autres jusqu'à la mort, et leur coupait lui-méme les narines ou les oreilles, ou faisait exécuter ce supplice devant lui ». D'autres subissaient la bastonnade, les galères ou on les envoyait aux carrières de pierres, où les travaux étaient particulièrement pénibles...

Comme Cervantès...

Cervantès illustre parfaitement votre question sur les possibilités d'évasion(3). Il a été prisonnier durant cinq ans. Il a tenté une première évasion en subornant un garde. Celui-ci n'honora pas son engagement. Direction : les carrières! En 1577, il fit une deuxième et une troisième tentatives, mais fut toujours pris et passa en tout dix mois aux chaînes, dans un cul-de-basse-fosse. Ses comparses furent pendus ou empalés. Les autres eurent les oreilles tranchées. A la quatrième tentative, il échoua encore! Il ne fut libéré que contre une rançon importante, grâce à l'action des ordres mercédaires, ces chrétiens qui achetaient les esclaves ou s'y substituaient !

Quand cesse l'esclavage musulman ?

Mais il existe encore ! La colonisation de l'Afrique au XIXe siècle a mis un terme que l'on croyait définitif à l'esclavage musulman. Mais celui-ci a repris avec la décolonisation. La traite musulmane, qui a duré mille deux cents ans, perdure, au Soudan par exemple.

Connaît-on les chiffres estimés de la traite ?

Les historiens travaillant sur l'esclavage musulman se heurtent à une désespérante absence de sources. Les registres fiscaux de Zanzibar sont les seuls répertoriés de nos jours mais ils ne remontent pas au-delà de 1850.

Les estimations moyennes se situent à un minimum de 17 millions de victimes. Mais c'est ignorer les « chiffres noirs » très importants : où sont passées les victimes mortes durant le voyage, les opérations dont on ne sait rien, les caravanes perdues dans le désert ou en mer ? Sans compter les esclaves européens que l'on « oublie » de comptabiliser et les Africains tués lors des razzias : défenseurs ou « inutiles », qui étaient des bouches inutiles à nourrir. Faut-il ou non les intégrer au bilan de la traite orientale ?

Propos recueillis par Patrick Cousteau
1. Les Négriers en terre d'islam. La première traite des Noirs, VIl-XVI siècle, Perrin, 2003 (rééd. Perrin, coll. Tempus, 2008).
Les Barbaresques, la course et la guerre en Méditerranée, XIV-XVI siècle, Perrin, 2001 (rééd. Perrin, coll. Tempus, 2008).
Voir aussi le livre tiré de sa thèse de doctorat; Esclaves et domestiques au Moyen Age dans le monde méditerranéen, Hachette, 1981 (rééd. 2006).
2. A lire dans le Voyage en Orient, de Gérard de Nerval, que viennent opportunément de rééditer en collection Folio les éditions Gallimard.
3. Pour en savoir plus, lire ; Le Captif. Extrait de Don Quichotte, de Cervantès, préface de Jacques Heers, éditions de Paris, 2006.

Source : le Choc du Mois - Juin 2008

vendredi, 06 janvier 2012

John Brown, discutibile eroe abolizionista, perseguiva scientemente la guerra civile americana

John Brown, discutibile eroe abolizionista, perseguiva scientemente la guerra civile americana

di Francesco Lamendola

Fonte: Arianna Editrice [scheda fonte]

«John Brown giace nella tomba là nel pian,
dopo una lunga lotta contro l’oppressor;
John Brown giace nella tomba là nel pian
ma l’anima vive ancor…! […]
L’hanno impiccato come fosse un traditor,
ma traditore fu colui che lo impiccò;
John Brown giace nella tomba là nel pian,
ma l’anima vive ancor…!»

Immagino che a molti bambini che hanno frequentato le elementari negli anni Sessanta, come me, sia stata insegnata, nell’ora di musica, questa canzone dalle note squillanti e dal ritmo maestoso, quasi solenne, magari da una maestra di canto che s’infervorava come se stesse celebrando una solenne liturgia profana.
L’altra canzone preferita di quella maestra  era «Bella ciao», che ci faceva cantare ogni settimana, immancabilmente, e sempre con pari trasporto: mentre pestava sui tasti del pianoforte, ci guardava con occhio di falco, per scoprire se qualcuno faceva solo finta di cantare, muovendo in silenzio le labbra; si vedeva che, per lei, quella musica e quelle parole rappresentavano una dichiarazione di guerra a tutto ciò che considerava politicamente e moralmente riprovevole: lo schiavismo degli Stati Uniti del Sud e il fascismo, affastellati nella stessa, inesorabile condanna.
Ogni nuova religione ha le sue precise liturgie, come e più della vecchia, ch’essa pretende di soppiantare; il marxismo, che è stato la nuova religione dell’Occidente fin quasi alla vigilia del crollo del sistema sovietico, aveva le sue; e questa era una di quelle, dove la maestra comunista poteva contrapporre il suo giovane e trionfante credo laico, portatore di luce e di giustizia fra i popoli, a quello del prete che, in oratorio, somministrava ai bambini le preesistenti certezze, vetuste d’anni e perciò affascinanti, ma verosimilmente - così sembrava allora, quasi a tutti - destinate alla sconfitta, per disseccamento e consunzione.
John Brown, dunque, nella mitologia progressista e libertaria degli ani Sessanta, era una sacra icona di quella nuova religione laica, che era resa sempre più autorevole e suggestiva dai trionfi della “sua” scienza (i primi viaggi nello spazio e i primi sbarchi sulla Luna, sia pure con astronavi senza equipaggio, da parte dei Sovietici); egli aveva lottato, come un nobile cavaliere dell’ideale, per l’idea di giustizia sociale più evidente e d’immediata comprensione: il diritto di ciascun essere umano di nascere e rimanere libero da qualsiasi padrone.
E lasciamo perdere se, nel sistema della politica e dell’economia moderne, la tanto celebrata “libertà” dell’individuo sia davvero tutelata come quei sacerdoti della nuova fede, così come i loro irriducibili avversari capitalisti - nell’esaltazione dell’antischiavismo erano tutti d’accordo, così come nella esecrazione del fascismo e nell’azzeramento di vent’anni della storia italiana recentissima - andavano trionfalisticamente sostenendo; lasciamo perdere, perché ciò meriterebbe un discorso a parte.
Nella canzoncina, universalmente nota, dedicata alla celebrazione della figura di John Brown, vi sono molti tratti di derivazione religiosa: in effetti, più che una celebrazione laica, sembra un martirologio in piena regola; vi è, inoltre, un tacito parallelismo (e tutto a suo favore) con l’immagine del Cristo crocifisso, perché, se l’anima di entrambi vive ancora, John Brown è sceso nella tomba dopo aver lottato lungamente contro l’oppressore, mentre Cristo non ha saputo fare altro che amare tutti gli uomini, anche i nemici, e perdonare i suoi stessi carnefici…
Ma i bambini crescono e capita che vengano presi da strane curiosità; per esempio, da quella di verificare sino a che punto l‘agiografia di quei “santi” laici del Progresso, della Libertà e della Giustizia corrisponda, non diciamo alla palese idealizzazione che ne è stata fatta a scopo ideologico, ma, almeno un poco, a quella che gli storici hanno ancora il vizio incorreggibile di chiamare “la verità dei fatti”.
John Brown, dunque, è stato un profeta armato: questo è il primo dato di fatto che, sfrondato l’alone della leggenda, emerge incontrovertibile; nessuno scandalo in questo, la storia è letteralmente piena di profeti armati, più numerosi, senza dubbio, di quelli disarmati e specialmente sul terreno politico e sociale: per un Gandhi che pratica, e predica, la lotta nonviolenta, se ne trovano almeno dieci che danno senz’altro la parola al fucile, sia pure, beninteso, anzi specialmente, per affermare i sacrosanto principi dell’89: libertà, fraternità, uguaglianza.
Benissimo; risulta un po’ più difficile conciliare questa attitudine all’azione violenta con la Bibbia, la grande sorgente d’ispirazione di John Brown; ma anche questa apparente difficoltà scompare, o si riduce di molto, se si considera che, per il puritanesimo della Nuova Inghilterra, di cui egli era profondamente imbevuto, l’Antico Testamento, col suo Yahweh giusto, ma terribile e sovente poco misericordioso, sembra pesare assai più del Nuovo, tutto pervaso dalla lieta novella di Cristo sull’amore e sul perdono. Brown può aver visto benissimo gli schiavisti del Sud con lo stesso occhio col quale i Giudici dell’Antico Testamento guardavano ai Filistei, agli Amaleciti e agli altri popoli “idolatri” che avevano l’imperdonabile presunzione di abitare la terra che Yahweh aveva promesso a loro e solamente a loro, ossia come pagani da sterminare, contro i quali qualunque azione diventava lecita e santa.
Tutti sanno che John Brown fu catturato dopo aver dato l’assalto all’arsenale federale di Harper’s Ferry, le cui armi intendeva distribuire ai negri per provocare una insurrezione generale; che in quella azione caddero, combattendo, sia alcuni dei suoi seguaci, sia alcuni soldati; e che affrontò virilmente il processo per cospirazione, omicidio e insurrezione armata e la conseguente impiccagione, il 2 dicembre 1859, appena quattro mesi prima che gli Stati del Sud proclamassero la secessione dal Nord e avesse principio la Guerra civile americana.
Sono un po’ meno numerosi, nel grosso pubblico, coloro i quali sanno che, prima dell’azione di Harper’s Ferry, Brown aveva scorrazzato in lungo e in largo con le truculente milizie volontarie del Kansas, i cosiddetti “freesolilers”, e che, il 24 maggio 1856, a Pottawatomie Creek, aveva guidato una spedizione che si era conclusa con l’assassinio a freddo di cinque sudisti: episodio che incomincia già a gettare una luce un po’ diversa sulla sua figura, così come l’hanno divulgata e mitizzata, prima e soprattutto dopo la sua more, con tanto successo, i suoi estimatori.
La realtà è che egli fu l’artefice principale della propria leggenda: durante il processo, infatti, si rese conto di avere in mano uno strumento formidabile per presentare se stesso come il puro idealista senza macchia e senza paura e per guadagnare alla causa antischiavista larghi settori dell’opinione pubblica; un po’ come aveva fatto, solo un anno prima, Felice Orsini con la causa nazionale italiana, allorché era stato processato per aver tentato di assassinare l’imperatore francese Napoleone III (e chissà se Brown ne era a conoscenza e ne aveva tratto ispirazione).
Quello che, però, rivela pienamente la mentalità dell’uomo e la sua concezione dell’etica, in nome della quale pretendeva di combattere gli orrori dello schiavismo, è un altro fatto: e cioè la convinzione, ormai raggiunta pressoché unanimemente dagli storici, che egli già da tempo si fosse posto l’obiettivo preciso di scatenare, mediante una azione di tipo insurrezionale altamente spettacolare, una reazione tale da parte degli Stati schiavisti, da spingerli a rompere con l’Unione e, di conseguenza, da provocare una guerra civile fra il Sud e il Nord, dalla quale soltanto si aspettava l’abolizione della schiavitù.
Aveva osservato un acuto biografo italiano di John Brown, Giulio Schenone, nel suo libro «John Brown, l’apostolo degli schiavi» (Mursia, Milano, 1984, pp. 150-54):

«John Brown, sin dall’infanzia,si inserì pienamente nella realtà del suo tempo: nella formazione della sua personalità, infatti, entrarono in gioco due delle forze più permeanti del carattere americano di sempre, il puritanesimo della Nuova Inghilterra e la “frontiera”. Ne venne fuori un uomo tutto d’un pezzo, forte nell’animo quanto nel corpo, e deciso a vivere la sua vita ispirandosi ai sacri principi che la sua religione gli aveva inculcato: la sua visione  della vita fu però, per un certo tempo, deformata in parte per questo suo rigorismo biblico, in parte per l’incrollabile fiducia nelle sue capacità che lo condussero ad una considerazione delle cose troppo approssimativa e superficiale.  […]
Probabilmente fu una più attenta lettura  del vecchio testamento che lo convinse definitivamente ad imboccare la strada della violenza, ma non si deve per questo pensare che l’abolizionismo violento di Brown non avesse radici nella realtà del tempo.  Fu, al contrario, la realtà che lo aveva più volte sconfitto, la realtà di quegli anni, che esplodeva di tanto in tanto in lampi di violenza (culminati nel 1857 con l’assassinio di Lovejoy) a spingerlo a ripudiare l’abolizionismo fatto di parole dei suoi amici; gli esempi, poi, di Mosè, Giosuè, Gedeone, che anche con la violenza avevano liberato il loro popolo dal servaggio, fecero il resto e gli indicarono perentoriamente la via da seguire. Nacque così nella sua mente il “piano virginiano”, che la maggior parte degli studiosi ha definito impietosamente, ma anche ingiustamente, pazzesco o per lo meno utopistico; Sanborn, invece, accosta lo schema di Brown all’impresa dei Mille di Garibaldi, e il paragone è significativamente ripreso da Luraghi, che attribuisce il fallimento pratico del piano non alla sua presunta inattuabilità, ma all’idea sbagliata che Brown si era fatto della schiavitù.
Ma quella visione astratta e irreale del Sud non era frutto dell’immaginazione del solo Brown; era comune infatti ad una intera generazione di abolizionisti che anzi, con la loro letteratura, avevano indotto il Vecchio a credere ciecamente nella collaborazione attiva degli schiavi al suo piano. Questa fu l’unica utopia nella quale credette un uomo che era diventato invece, col passare degli anni, estremamente lucido e consapevole di quello che stava avvenendo nel suo Paese e soprattutto di quello che sarebbe potuto avvenire a determinate condizioni. Di fronte allo scoppio del conflitto civile nel Kansas e alle violente diatribe dei congressisti, che rendevano oltremodo chiara l’enorme distanza che separava ormai irrimediabilmente le due parti del Paese, Brown intravide forse la possibilità di costringere il Sud alla secessione e quindi il Nord al conflitto armato:; la testimonianza di Salmon Brown riguardo alle reali intenzioni del padre, CI PUÒ PORTARE ALLA CONCLUSIONE CHE GIÀ NEL 1854 BROWN AVEVA PREVISTO E SI ERA POSTO COME OBIETTIVO LA GUERRA CIVILE [il corsivo è nostro]. Questa è lungimiranza, non utopia, e del resto la susseguente attività del capitano nel Kansas testimonia la sua lucida e consapevole presenza nella realtà del tempo: appena giunto nel Territorio, si rese conto del terrore che immobilizzava i coloni “freesoilers”, e sferrò con l’eccidio del Pottawatomie un colpo così tremendo che cambiò immediatamente le carte in tavola e volse le sorti del conflitto a favore dei “freesoilers. […]
Ci voleva un’ulteriore provocazione perché le minoranze estremiste, che da tempo agitavano gli stendardi della secessione e della guerra, acquistassero una forza tale da impadronirsi definitivamente dell’opinione pubblica e da trascinare al conflitto anche la maggioranza riluttante.
Di fronte a questo John Brown umano e pietoso [durante il processo] sarebbe presto svanita nel Nord l’immagine truculenta del “giustiziere del Pottawatomie”, tanto più che al processo quello stesso John Brown recitò, con perizia e abilità da attore consumato, la parte del martire solo e indifeso di fronte ai suoi carnefici, così crudeli da non sentire pietà nemmeno per le sue precarie condizioni di salute [era rimasto ferito nello scontro di Harper’s Ferry, per cui presenziava alle udienze disteso in barella]. Il Nord fu letteralmente conquistato da questo nuovo personaggio che perorava così bene la sua causa di fronte alla Corte di Charlestown, e non si accorse minimamente delle palesi inesattezze presenti nell’ultimo discorso di Brown che, ponendo un suggello così splendido a tutta la recita precedente, riuscì ad ingannare l’America intera.»

Pianificare e perseguire scientemente, a mente fredda, la massima sciagura che possa colpire la propria nazione: lo scoppio di una guerra civile, con tutto l’immancabile bagaglio di odio, di sete di vendetta e di violenza belluina che essa porta con sé, e che è destinata a trascinarsi per generazioni dopo la sua conclusione: questo, dunque, il disegno politico di John Brown; questa la sua utopia nera, la sua implacabile volontà di distruzione.
E la cosa è tanto più sconcertante, allorché si consideri che tale disegno nasceva da non tanto da un pensiero, quanto da un sentimento, che si ispirava direttamente alla Bibbia: la stessa Bibbia che i teorici dello schiavismo invocavano per giustificare l’istituto della schiavitù (la maledizione dei discendenti di Cam), a Brown serviva per pianificare, in nome di un’altissima istanza morale di giustizia, la deliberata preparazione non solo di una guerra, ma di una guerra civile: la più distruttiva, la più devastante fra tutti i tipi di guerra.
I carnai di Bull Run, di Fredericksburg, di Chancellorsville, di Gettysburg; le stragi seminate dalle nuovi armi, in particolare dalla mitragliatrice; gli incendi, i saccheggi, gli stupri, la fame, le devastazioni che prostrarono per sempre gli Stati sudisti: tutto questo ebbe inizio nella lucida follia di questo sinistro personaggio, che, la Bibbia in una mano e il fucile nell’altra, chiamava a raccolta i demoni dell’odio e della guerra e, incurante delle conseguenze, pensava soltanto al raggiungimento del suo scopo; non tralasciando di presentare un’immagine leggendaria di se stesso, tale da poter essere venerata nei tempi a venire, come quella di un santo laico.
Come, difatti, è avvenuto.

Tante altre notizie su www.ariannaeditrice.it

jeudi, 05 janvier 2012

Algérie : la Turquie a la mémoire courte


Algérie : la Turquie a la mémoire courte

par Bernard Lugan

Ex: http://www.polemia.com/

Les déclarations du Premier ministre turc, Monsieur Erdogan, à propos du « génocide » que la France aurait commis en Algérie, relèvent à la fois de l’hystérie verbale et de la plus grotesque manipulation historique. De plus, Monsieur Erdogan est bien mal placé pour parler de « génocide » en Algérie, région qui fut durant trois siècles une colonie ottomane sous le nom de Régence d’Alger (Wilayat el-Djezair en arabe et Gezayir-i Garp en turc), et dans laquelle les janissaires turcs s’illustrèrent par leurs méthodes particulièrement brutales et expéditives.

En 1520, Sidi Ahmed ou el Kadhi fut le premier résistant kabyle à la colonisation turque, réussissant même à s’emparer d’Alger et forçant le chef de bande Khar ad-Din Barberos à se replier à Djidjelli. En 1609, les Kabyles vinrent battre les murs d’Alger puis, entre 1758 et 1770, ce fut toute la Kabylie qui se souleva. Au début du XIX° siècle, plusieurs autres insurrections se produisirent, notamment entre 1805 et 1813, puis en 1816 et enfin en 1823. Il en fut de même dans les Aurès où les Chaouias réussirent à interdire toute présence effective du pouvoir ottoman. Constantine fut un cas à part car les Ottomans y avaient de solides alliés avec la tribu des Zemoul, ce qui n’empêcha pas les autres tribus kabyles de se soulever régulièrement.

Tous ces mouvements furent noyés dans le sang, à l’image de ce qui fut la règle en Libye : « La force est employée à la turque : les colonnes de réguliers, Turcs et Couloughlis, usent du sabre, du fusil et du canon, brûlent récoltes et villages, s’emparent d’otages, empalent et décapitent, exposant par dizaines les têtes coupées. L’usage de la force démontre la résolution du maître et l’irréversibilité de la situation » (1).

Dans la Régence d’Alger, les Turcs pratiquèrent une ségrégation institutionnalisée, la politique de l’élite dirigeante militaro administrative ottomane étant d’éviter de se dissoudre par mariage dans la masse de la population.

La violence ottomane ne s’exerça pas uniquement contre les populations locales.

Quelques exemples :

  • - Le 27 mai 1529, après un siège de trois semaines, les 25 survivants de la garnison espagnole qui défendait le fort construit dans la baie d’Alger capitulèrent contre la promesse qu’ils auraient la vie sauve ; or, leur chef, le comte Martin de Vargas, grièvement blessé, fut massacré à coups de bâton par les soldats turcs.
  • - Le 20 juillet 1535 Khayr ad-Din Barbaros lança un raid sur l’île de Minorque, aux Baléares, enlevant plusieurs centaines de captifs, hommes, femmes et enfants qui furent vendus sur le marché aux esclaves d’Alger.
  • - En 1682, après que le Dey eut déclaré la guerre à la France, l’amiral Duquesne se présenta devant Alger où les Turcs massacrèrent le père Jean Le Vacher, consul de France, en l’attachant à la bouche d’un canon (2).
  • - En 1688, pour lutter contre les pirates, le maréchal d’Estrées bombarda Alger et plusieurs captifs français furent également attachés à des canons.

La piraterie constitua jusqu’au début du XIXème siècle le cœur de la vie politique et économique de la Régence turque d’Alger. Il s’agissait bien de piraterie et non de Course puisque les raïs, les capitaines, n’obéissaient pas aux règles strictes caractérisant cette dernière. La recherche historique a en effet montré que son but n’était pas de s’attaquer, avec l’aval des autorités, à des navires ennemis en temps de guerre, mais que son seul objectif était le butin. A l’exception du raïs Hamidou, tous les acteurs de cette piraterie étaient des Turcs, de naissance ou renégats, aucun n’était d’origine algérienne.

Ceci étant, deux choses doivent être claires :

  1. Les lois mémorielles (loi Gayssot, loi Taubira et autres) interdisent et assassinent la recherche historique et c’est pourquoi tout historien sérieux doit exiger leur abrogation.
  2. Les politiques n’ont pas à encadrer l’Histoire ; quant aux députés, au lieu de voter des lois mémorielles électoralistes, ils feraient mieux de se préoccuper du sort des Français qui les ont élus. Mais, comme le disait Charles Maurras : « A quoi songe un élu ? A être réélu ».

Bernard Lugan
Bernard Lugan Blogspot. com

Notes :

(1) Martel, A.,  Souveraineté et autorité ottomane : la Province de Tripoli du Couchant (1835-1918), Université Paul Valéry, Montpellier, en ligne.
(2) En 1830, après la prise d’Alger, le canon surnommé la « Consulaire », fut envoyé à Brest où il se trouve actuellement.

Correspondance Polémia - 28/12/2011

00:05 Publié dans Actualité, Histoire | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0) | Tags : actualité, histoire, turquie, algérie, méditerranée | |  del.icio.us | | Digg! Digg |  Facebook

lundi, 02 janvier 2012

Fascism in Albania

Fascism in Albania





Ex: http://xtremerightcorporate.blogspot.com/

It is often stated as a fact that the Italian invasion of Albania was an unprovoked act of aggression by Mussolini who was simply trying to make some territorial acquisition of his own in order to keep pace with the expansion of his ally Nazi Germany. Although it may be often repeated, this is simply not true. Italy had very long-standing interests in Albania but the actual invasion was not something Mussolini had planned out ahead of time. In fact, it came at a very inopportune moment, the very same month that the Spanish Civil War ended, which had been a very hard-fought victory for the Italian forces. It was that same month, when the Italian economy had already been pushed to the limit by wars in Ethiopia and Spain that the Albanian government announced a moratorium on their debts to Italy. Mussolini informed the trumped-up King, Zog, that these debts would have to be repaid as agreed. Previously, Italy had been very friendly with Albania. They had expelled Greek troops from the country in World War I, preserving its independence, had signed a number of friendship and defensive treaties with them and, obviously, had loaned them considerable amounts of money.

Not surprisingly, another issue was Albania giving Italy access to her oil wells at Devoli. This was something that concerned Mussolini greatly as the League of Nations sanctions in Italy during the Ethiopian war had proven to him how much Italy depended on imported oil. The country had virtually no mineral resources of its own, but oil was the most vital necessity and Mussolini did not want Italy to be in a position where foreign powers could starve Italy of such a commodity in the future. There was also the fact that the world community, after the First World War, had pretty much recognized Albania as an Italian protectorate and the Italians had a long history in the region. The ancient Romans had settled on the shores of Albania even before they controlled the whole of the Italian Peninsula and the Republic of Venice had had extensive holdings in Albania. Moreover, the self-promoted King of the Albanians had used the money Italy poured into the country in return for access to oil in order to enrich himself, his family and his own circle of supporters while the rest of the population lived in mild to dire poverty.


King Zog, as he called himself (inventing an illustrious ancestry going back to Albanian historical heroes after promoting himself from politician to monarch) was far from an admirable figure or a pitiable victim of Fascist aggression. He had clawed his way to the top and, as his biographer Jason Hunter Tomes wrote, “unable and frankly unwilling to have much faith in any group of his people, Zog strove to keep all classes in unstable equilibrium. Through hours of hideously convoluted talk, he obsessively manipulated his assorted underlings (nearly all older than himself) in an effort to exercise personal control from seclusion”. He was a small-time, puffed up potentate who would be most remembered for making it into the Guinness Book of World records for being the heaviest smoker in the world, sucking down 225 cigarettes a day. His tyrannical rule kept liberal-minded Albanians upset while his abolition of Islamic law and marriage to a Catholic Hungarian-American outraged conservatives in the Muslim nation. His love for poker also did not endear him to the majority of his people (gambling being forbidden in the Muslim religion) and he was involved in numerous feuds and vendettas with rival clans so that he was guarded constantly and lived as a recluse, fearing to go out in public.

Much has been made of the assassination attempts on King Zog as a way of justifying his cowardly, reclusive behavior, but it doesn’t hold water. Mussolini was the subject of more than one assassination attempt and yet it never phased him in the least and he was always going out in public, constantly among his people, his soldiers, in Italy and across the empire. Zog was a cowardly, corrupt back-stabber with delusions of grandeur and that is all there is to it. Even with all of that though, Mussolini might have looked the other way. The breaking point was Albania reneging on her debts and then the information that came to light showing that Zog was conspiring with the Greeks to get him out of the financial pinch his own greed had put him in. The last thing Italy wanted was Greece getting a foothold in Albania again and throwing into jeopardy Italian access to Albanian oil wells and metal mines. When all of this came together, Mussolini had little choice but to act and order Italian armed forces to occupy Albania.


The Albanian police and soldiers scattered pretty quickly after the Italian troops landed and King Zog issued, what the international media would later make famous, appeal to his people to rise up and resist the invaders. The problem was that the vast majority of Albanians were too poor to even own a radio so almost no one in his own country even heard him, though the media made sure plenty of people in France and Britain and the United States did, using it as an example of Fascist aggression against a weak, innocent, saintly little country. We assume those hard working Americans had no idea that the King they heard on the radio had never even seen an Italian soldier before he was racing toward the border in a fleet of limousines loaded down with gold bars, fancy furniture, designer suites and evening gowns, lavish jewelry and, of course, crates full of cigarettes. And the fact of the matter is that the occupation of Albania was not really much of an invasion or conquest. Only a handful of Italians were killed and most of the Albanian population came out to cheer their “conquerors” who had delivered them from the backward tribalism Zog had subjected them to. The Albanian people were not stupid and they could see as well as anyone that they were living in an impoverished backwater while Fascism had brought order, stability, jobs and economic efficiency to Italy.

Although no one would want to admit it today, about the only time Albania achieved any level of progress was during the years after Albania was annexed to the Italian Empire on April 16. It was only during those years that Albanian territory expanded to include almost all ethnic Albanians in the region, taking in the contested region of Kosovo, border areas of what is now Montenegro and others. Italian companies invested in Albania and there was a brief economic upsurge before the war brought everything to a standstill. What is more, not even all the Allies who would later feign outrage over the occupation of Albania objected at the time. Even so staunch an enemy of the Fascist government as the British Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden sent Mussolini a personal telegram immediately afterwards thanking him for his swift and correct action and assuring him of British support for the move which most felt surely headed off a much greater Balkan crisis if the corrupt King Zog had been allowed to continue on his way. The only major Allied power that was really upset by it was the French because they were afraid that the annexation of Albania had secured the eastern frontier of Italy leaving them free to focus on the west. They were, perhaps, nervous that Mussolini would next look to reclaim ethnically Italian areas under French control like Savoy, Nice and Corsica.


Also untrue is the claim by some that Albania during the Fascist period was totally controlled by Italians. The two viceroys during the period were Italians but the prime ministers of the Albanian government were all Albanians. The first had even been prime minister for Zog (even though the two hated each other which was typical). The next one had fought on the Turkish side against Italy in the Italo-Turkish War of 1912, yet after Albania was annexed he was given a seat in the Roman Senate. Likewise the last two were both born and raised ethnic Albanians, so these were not simply Italian puppets by any means. It was the Albanian government, everyone forgets, that voted to depose King Zog (who had fled the country anyway and was still running) and then voted for the union with Italy. The problem was the war, which had to occupy the full attention of Rome rather than domestic concerns in Albania or Italy. Unlike even Ethiopia, there was not time for much development or progress because the war was the primary focus. So many Albanians continued their feuding ways. Some cooperated, some resisted because they were communists and on the Allied side and some nationalists resisted as well, stupidly so, because it was only with Italian support that their goal of a “Greater Albania” pretty much came true. Of course they also fought each other most of the time also.

So what was the result? Without the Fascists overseeing things it all went to hell PDQ. After the Italian armistice in 1943 the Germans came in for a while, with the same result, some Albanians cooperating and others resisting and others fighting everybody. In the end, with the Allied victory came, of course, the Communist victory (which was World War II in a nutshell; making the world safe for communism) and Enver Hoxha became the new communist dictator of Albania. He had been a communist partisan, leader of an Anti-Fascism committee and all the usual stuff, an avowed Leninist puppet for the international Bolsheviks in Moscow pretty much. Some of his deluded followers even continued on and helped Tito take power in Yugoslavia, so they were helping the very people who were going to strip away all the territory they had gained thanks to the Italians (which of course they wanted to keep). Hoxha was a fawning sycophant for Joseph Stalin and when he finally figured out he had made Albania a puppet of Yugoslavia he reversed course and decided to be a puppet of Soviet Russia. This went so far that when Stalin died, Hoxha actually made all the Albanians get down on their knees and give thanks to the memory of their great Soviet “liberator”.

Hoxha was such a mindless, Stalinist ass hat that relations with the USSR soured when Khrushchev took over and tried to restore at least a little bit of sanity to things. Hoxha denounced Khrushchev as a sell-out but went on praising Stalin as practically a god. He finally drew closer to Mao and the Red Chinese who he thought had more Marxist purity than the Soviets. When China got tired of his insanity he had no choice but to turn back to Russia and even Yugoslavia again -so went the Albanian Communist search for a sugar-daddy. It wasn’t happening. China denounced Albania and so, in his time in power, not only had Hoxha brought oppression, poverty and death to his people, lost them most of their territory and regional standing, but in the whole communist world he had managed to piss off the Yugoslavs, the Soviets and the Maoists, leaving Albania absolutely alone. What an achievement. Under Hoxha and his communist idiots Albania had achieved only one thing; having the absolute lowest standard of living of any country in all of Europe. There was one more leader after him of the communist era who then became the first President of the post-communist era (typical of the Reds, just change your coat and carry on) and there still hasn’t been much improvement since.

00:07 Publié dans Histoire | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0) | Tags : albanie, hisoire, fascime, méditerranée | |  del.icio.us | | Digg! Digg |  Facebook