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dimanche, 26 mars 2017

Entretien avec Claude Karnoouh: Le grand désenchantement de l’Europe de l’Est

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Entretien avec Claude Karnoouh:

Le grand désenchantement de l’Europe de l’Est

Ex: http://rebellion-sre.fr

Ndlr: Cet entretien date de 2006 

R/ La désintégration du bloc de l’Est fut un événement majeur et fondateur de notre époque. Pourtant, les raisons de l’éclatement du système soviétique restent en grande partie mystérieuses. Vous avez, depuis plusieurs années, tenté de déchiffrer cette énigme par vos recherches. Comment expliquez-vous ce phénomène ?

Il est vrai que j’ai longuement écrit sur ce thème sans pour autant, me semble-t-il, avoir donné une réponse décisive ou entièrement satisfaisante. J’avais naguère conclu un chapitre d’un de mes ouvrages intitulé « Le réalisme socialiste ou la victoire de la bourgeoisie » par une boutade qui bien sûr avait déplu à la bienséance frileuse des universitaires : « Ce ne sont ni les gesticulations antisoviétiques du pape Jean-Paul II ni même les investissements militaires pharaoniques requis par la course aux armements sans cesse relancée par les États-Unis et la guerre des étoiles ! Car, dans des situations bien plus tragiques l’URSS est demeurée soviétique, certes avec des aménagements, mais néanmoins soviétiques. Ce qui a fait implosé le système c’est une mutation idéologique pour parler vite, ou mieux une mutation de la vision du monde et donc du futur dans les élites soviétiques et dans une partie de la population… Le sacrifice, l’effort, la compétition du militant pour un monde social et collectif meilleur les avaient déserté depuis la fin de l’ère Khroutchev ; disons que l’ère de Brejnev a été, les vrais débuts de l’entrée de l’URSS dans un temps de consumérisme, certes de consumérisme fragile et sans cesse inaccompli. Aussi, ce qui a conduit à l’abandon aussi rapide du système politico-économique soviétique tient quelque part à la victoire des images véhiculées par les feuilletons, les films, les revues étasuniennes et occidentales en général. C’est, je pense, une fois encore la preuve que le ciment d’une société demeure le copartage général d’une idée sur le monde, c’est-à-dire outre les sagas héroïsant le passé, à un accord à la fois explicite et implicite sur le bon gouvernement et le bien commun du futur… Mais, il resterait encore à faire des études très pointues sur la manière donc les visions concordantes du futur en Union soviétique après la mort de Staline se sont peu à peu effritées, fissurées parmi une majorité des élites politiques, sociales, économiques, culturelles, pour conduire à l’implosion dont nous fûmes à la fin des années 1980 les témoins… Car, c’est bien au cœur de l’élite des élites la plus centrée sur la connaissance et l’analyse de l’Occident, parmi les spécialistes de l’économie au sein du KGB que le changement a été pensé, puis mis en œuvre sous la férule de leur chef Youri Andropov ! Par-delà les détails de politologie et de sociologie à trois sous, c’est en ce lieu que se sont concentrées les analyses, et aussi les contradictions d’où sont nées les crises des années 1986-2000, depuis la Perestroïka jusqu’à l’élection de Poutine… Le reste de l’Europe de l’Est a suivi, car, nous le voyons bien aujourd’hui, ces pays n’ont aucune autonomie politique (dussent-ils avoir de fortes autonomies culturelles), les élites y font ce que le plus fort qui les domine leur commande. Hier ce furent les Soviétiques, aujourd’hui les États-Unis, demain, sait-on jamais, peut-être les Chinois ou les Indiens !

R/ Vous avez particulièrement étudié l’histoire de la Roumanie. La chute de Ceausescu fut un enjeu important du démantèlement du « glacis soviétique ». Elle donna lieu à la première grande manipulation médiatique contemporaine avec l’affaire du faux charnier de Timisoara. Pouvez-vous revenir sur les enjeux et les mécanismes de la « révolution » roumaine?

Je ne pense pas que la chute du gouvernement national-communiste dirigé par le président Ceausescu fut importante sur le plan purement géopolitique de la puissance. Dès lors que la Pologne, la Hongrie et l’Allemagne de l’Est avaient basculé, le poids géopolitique de la Roumanie, même assez indépendante du Pacte de Varsovie à cette époque la Roumanie ne comptait guère. Son armée était plus que médiocrement entraînée et armée. Du point de vue géostratégique plus important fut de démolir la Yougoslavie qui détenait à coup sûr la meilleure armée des Balkans, une armée entraînée en permanence à la guerre de guérilla (c’est pour cela il n’y a jamais eu de confrontation terrestre entre les troupes de l’OTAN et l’armée serbe). En revanche, la chute de Ceausescu a eu une importance symbolique cardinale en ce que les média occidentaux, Radio Free Europe, RFI, Deutsche Welle, La Voix de l’Amérique, et par des groupes d’émigrés plus ou moins jeunes, allant des anciens fascistes de la Garde de fer à de jeunes intellectuels venus chercher fortune en Occident et faisant le plus souvent passer de l’émigration économique pour de l’émigration politique avec la complaisance des autorités occidentales de toutes sortes, etc., avaient construit un personnage effrayant, une sorte de nouveau « Dracula »… Or, malgré les coups de boutoirs médiatiques, il n’arrivait pas à tomber, parce que les élites culturelles roumaines étaient totalement à la fois soumise au pouvoir (aujourd’hui on en apprend les détails ma foi plus que grotesques) et d’un mépris total pour une possible alliance avec les ouvriers (on l’a vu pendant les révoltes des mineurs de la Vallée du Jiu en 1977 et des métallos des usines de tracteurs de Brasov en 1988). Or, le pouvoir du régime de Ceausescu possédait une authentique légitimité dans les diverses couches ouvrière et paysanne malgré des restrictions à la consommation assez drastiques, lesquelles avaient en revanche rehaussé la fierté nationale parce que l’année de sa chute le régime avait réussi à rembourser toutes ses dettes au FMI et à la Banque Mondiale. Aussi faut-il voir qu’une alliance s’est conclu entre les alliés roumains de la Perestroïka via Moscou, des agents soviétiques en poste à Bucarest, ceux de la Yougoslavie (encore communiste) dans l’Ouest de la Roumanie et en particulier à Timisoara, ceux de la Hongrie en train de changer de pouvoir et les États-Unis pour organiser un véritable coup d’État (sûrement précisé entre experts lors de la réunion de Malte entre Gorbatchev et Reagan) et scénographié en révolution. Certes il y eut beaucoup moins de pertes que la manipulation médiatique l’avança, toutefois le cynisme des comploteurs les conduisit à la mise en place de véritables scènes de tueries, comme, par exemple, celles des élèves de l’école de la Sécurité (police politique) de Bucarest envoyés désarmés à l’aéroport de Bucarest pour arrêter de prétendus « terroristes », mais attendus de fait par des éléments de l’armée pour faire accroire au contraire à une attaque terroriste, et tirés comme des lapins de garenne… On comprend que tous les moyens furent bons pour éliminer le chef de l’État y compris sa parodie de procès et ce qu’il faut bien regardé comme son meurtre ainsi que celui de son épouse, dans une scène qui n’était pas, en raison de la dignité des époux Ceausescu au moment ultime, sans me faire penser à celle du roi Lear… mais, par peur de fuite possible, on apprit, à court terme, le suicide (?) de certains des protagonistes qui avaient participé à cette macabre justice expéditive…

Une fois Ceausescu disparu, symboliquement le système communiste n’avait plus que des dictateurs de moindre importance, le Bulgare, Jivkov éliminé par une révolution de palais, et l’Albanie, avec ses vendettas archaïques entre fractions du parti qui se confondent avec des alliances familiales…

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R/ Vous montrez l’importance fondamentale de la fascination de la nomenklatura pour les valeurs occidentales dans l’origine du processus qui aboutit à la fin du « socialisme réel ». Comment expliquer la « trahison » et la rapide reconversion des élites de l’est à la logique libérale ? Peut-on expliquer ce phénomène sans précédent dans l’histoire par la nature même du système soviétique ?

Une partie de la réponse est déjà donnée. La seconde partie de votre question obligerait à une très longue analyse de la manière dont le système soviétique a créé les classes moyennes dans son empire et ses satellites, classes qui l’ont délégitimé. Je ne sais si l’on peut parler de trahison dans ce cas. Ou alors l’histoire n’est qu’une longue suite de « trahisons » ! Par ailleurs il n’y a pas eu de conversion rapide, seulement en apparence elle fut rapide pour les besoins de du spectacle médiatique. Je pense que cette conversion, si on peut nommer ainsi ce phénomène (quant à moi je préfère parler d’un changement de la stratégie de l’accession ou du maintien du pouvoir) a duré une quarantaine d’année, à partir du moment où, après la Seconde Guerre mondiale, l’URSS (et les pays satellites) ont déployé des efforts considérables de reconstruction et de développement et en particulier de développement des catégories socio-professionnelles fondatrices des classes moyennes, les ingénieurs et les techniciens supérieurs, autant d’agents de la fabrication de la puissance technoscientifique, et donc militaire. Ces gens sont peu à peu devenus ce qu’ils partout ailleurs des acteurs sociaux de la modernité qui veulent consommer en compensation de leur travail, et qui délaisse les idéaux de vertu sociale du socialisme et de la révolution, et ce d’autant plus que le parti dirigeant, le PCUS et les partis satellites étaient devenus une immense machine bureaucratico-administrative… Ce qu’il faudrait plutôt expliquer, c’est la convergence des aspirations et des visions du futur, comme l’avenir réduit à la vision gestionnaire, de toutes les classes moyennes dans n’importe quel régime politique de la modernité…

R/ Contrairement à l’impression donnée par la propagande occidentale durant la guerre froide, le camp soviétique était loin d’être un univers figé. En son sein, un processus de modernisation des sociétés est-européennes s’est opéré et des valeurs collectives furent mises en avant. Pourquoi et comment ce système n’a pu ou n’a su offrir des alternatives viables et véritables au capitalisme US ?

Vos questions reprennent les réponses que j’ai tenté de donner dans mes trois derniers ouvrages.
Sur le plan de la modernité technique, l’Union soviétique d’abord, puis le camp soviétique n’ont jamais été un espace figé, glaciaire (sauf le climat), partout le développement y a explosé avec une vitesse sidérale et donc, avec une violence qui non seulement criminalisait le pouvoir soviétique confronté à une société russe paysanne indolente, archaïque, conservatrice au sens étymologique du terme, mais, et la propagande anti-soviétique l’a omis systématiquement, cette violence manifestait en contrepartie une dynamique de la promotion sociale sans précédent qui permettait à des hommes et des femmes d’accéder à des fonctions de pouvoir et de prestige en un quelques années… Si le Goulag vidait des institutions, d’autres personnes venaient occuper les fonctions ainsi « libérées ». En termes de sociologie du travail, on dirait qu’il y avait un grand turn over des salariés…Cela était « normal » dans une situation hautement révolutionnaire, ou qui suivit immédiatement la Seconde Guerre mondiale avec son cortège de règlements de compte où il fallait mettre en œuvre un hyper développement simultanément contrôlé par une forte répression de toutes les oppositions quelle qu’en soit la nature.

communiste_en_Roumanie.jpgLes raisons pour lesquelles ce système n’a pas pu donner une véritable alternative au capitalisme étatsunien me paraissent tenir au modèle même de développement choisi par l’URSS, de fait, le modèle étasunien plus que les modèles européens (cf. les reportages de Joseph Roth, Rüssiche Reisen), où tout en maintenant et déployant des coûts sociaux gigantesques que le système étasunien laisse à la philanthropie privée ou simplement abandonne à la débrouillardise, à souvent à la délinquance… A-t-on mesuré les coûts des vacances très largement subventionnées par les syndicats et donc les entreprises, les systèmes d’enseignement gratuits, la couverture médicales, peut-être médiocre en qualité) mais elle aussi quasi gratuite, comme la protection sociale, la culture, etc. Prenons un autre exemple : lors d’une interview donnée vers la fin de sa vie Tarkovski, le cinéaste soviétique, affirmait qu’il regrettait avoir émigré, car les conditions de travail qu’il avait trouvé en Occident (Suède et Italie) l’obligeaient à travailler rapidement, et donc sans le fignolage extrême qu’il affectionnait, en raison des problèmes de coût et de rentabilité, tandis qu’en URSS disait-il, on peut refaire une scène quarante fois sans que personne de la production ne vienne vous demande d’arrêter parce que c’est trop cher ! Ceci multiplié à l’échelle d’un empire (multiplication des établissements d’enseignement dans les républiques asiatiques, multiplication des institutions culturelles locales, cinéma arméniens, géorgiens, du Kazakhstan, Ouzbékistan), nous montre des coûts dont les États-Unis se dispensaient de supporter. De plus et ce n’est pas négligeable, à l’échelle de l’économie mondiale, les Soviétiques n’ont jamais eu la maîtrise d’une quelconque parcelle du commerce mondial en ce que la monnaie étalon de tous les échanges a toujours été le dollar, voire dans certaines zones européennes, le mark allemand, mais jamais le rouble même avec des alliés outre-mer de l’URSS comme autrefois l’Egypte, l’Ethiopie, l’Angola ; le rouble avait cours au sein du Comecon, et encore de très nombreux échanges s’y établissaient sur la base du troc… Certes, nul ne peut nier que deux raisons entravèrent la compétition avec les États-Unis, d’une part l’ampleur des destructions de la Russie d’Europe et de l’Ukraine pendant la Seconde Guerre mondiale, (on ne mesure pas ou l’on ne veut mesurer aujourd’hui l’ampleur de ces pertes) et le coût de la reconstruction dans un empire ayant refusé pour des raisons politiques le plan Marshall, à cela on rappellera à nouveau les coût du développement des armements afin de maintenir la puissance soviétique face aux États-Unis et, last but not least, une gabegie typiquement russe (longuement dénoncée par certains écrivains depuis le milieux du XIXe siècle) qui tient de son rapport conflictuel à la modernité que l’on retrouve dans les Balkans, voire en Hongrie et dans les Pays Baltes… gabegie qui était déjà là lors de la première modernisation de la Russie à la fin du XIXe et au début du XXe siècles…

R / Dans l’ensemble des Démocraties Populaires, le passage à l’économie de marché fut l’occasion pour une minorité de tirer profit du bradage des biens publics. Dans le même temps, pour la majorité de la population, cela s’est traduit par une dégradation dramatique de ses conditions de vie. Après 15 ans de libéralisation sauvage, quelle est la situation économique et sociale des pays de l’Est ?

Elle s’est un peu améliorée, mais de manière différente selon les pays… Le différentiel de richesse est demeuré le même entre les divers pays de l’ex-glacis soviétique. Mais très souvent ces pays, sauf l’Allemagne de l’Est, ressemble à des pays du tiers-monde, des plus riches comme la République tchèque, aux plus pauvres comme la Roumanie, la Bulgarie, l’Albanie, la république de Moldavie. Bien évidemment une telle paupérisation entraîne l’abandon de la plupart des services sociaux, médecine préventive, protection de l’enfance, des mères célibataires, des retraités, des gens aux métiers les moins qualifiés, etc… Très souvent les ONG n’y sont que des instruments du spectacle de la charité occidentale qui servent à entretenir des Occidentaux qui normalement seraient au chômage et des locaux qui ne sont que des prédateurs sur les fonds alloués aux pauvres… Exactement comme en France tous les employés des associations diverses et l’ANPE qui sont chargés de gérer le chômage et la précarité du travail… Comment pourraient-ils lutter contre cette situation puisqu’elle leur garantit la pérennité de leur travail et une retraite… Les employés des ONG, Occidentaux et les employés locaux sont dans une situation semblable…

Il suffit de faire un tour dans les quartiers populaires des villes, et surtout des villes moyennes de provinces des pays de l’Est pour se rendre compte de la grande catastrophe économique du postcommunisme, non pas de la macroéconomie qui en général marche bien, mais de la microéconomie celle dont les gens ont l’expérience quotidienne…

R / Face à cette situation, on est surpris de l’absence de réactions et du fatalisme des classes populaires. Comment expliquer cette apathie générale et existe-t-il des courants contestataires au sein des sociétés est européennes? Peut-on faire un lien avec le désintérêt et la méfiance grandissants pour la politique que l’on retrouve en Europe de l’Ouest ?

Certes, il y a un lien avec la défiance des populations occidentales envers la politique. Comme les Européens de l’Ouest, ceux de l’Est ont compris que les alternatives démocratiques dans un système politique multipartis, ne change en rien les orientations économiques et à leur vie quotidienne… Que ce soit la droite ou la gauche parlementaire qui gère l’État, hormis quelques effets symboliques différentiels vites éventés, le devenir demeure identique… Alors pourquoi voter si aucune alternative concrète ne se manifeste dans l’expérience de chacun une fois le vote achevé…

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Le problème de l’apathie des peuples est un vieux problème auquel se sont confrontés nombre de penseurs de la politique. Les espoirs jamais vérifiés avancés par un marxisme sociologisant quant à la révélation des contradictions au sein du peuple par l’action du peuple même demeurent dans l’ordre du « wishful thinking », ou comme l’eût écrit Nietzsche dans un « idéalisme de rêve ». Les peuples bougent lorsqu’ils ont peur, lorsque subjectivement ils perçoivent qu’il n’y a pas d’alternative que la révolte, et non lorsque les conditions objectives seraient réunies. C’est là que l’on doit rappeler le génie politique de Lénine et de Trotski contre le bureau politique du parti bolchevique en1917, lesquels forcent le destin en mettant en œuvre un quasi-coup d’État alors que les conditions objectives des contradictions politiques n’étaient pas, selon leurs camarades, théoriquement réunies… Les peuples peuvent aussi se révolter à contretemps des conditions objectives, ce qui ne veut pas dire qu’ils perdront systématiquement. Les peuples peuvent aussi s’en remettre à des solutions momentanées plus démocratiques en apparence (élection de 1933 du parti nazi) qui se révèlent assez rapidement mortifères, catastrophiques, malgré les promesses de bonheur millénaire. Du point de vue d’un marxisme repensé, arraché au dogmatisme hérité du passé stalinien ou trotskiste, écarté de la somnolence rhétorique des débats universitaire complaisants, d’un marxisme fermement renouvelé par l’ajout de la critique heideggérienne de la technique (cf., l’œuvre du philosophe récemment décédé Gérard Granel), et celle de la culture de masse par Adorno et Benjamin (quasiment oubliée), il faut le constater : nous sommes en Europe dans le creux de la vague d’une prise de conscience de l’énorme aliénation engendrée par la modernité tardive et le capitalisme de troisième type. Les gens sont totalement mithridatisés par les spectacles culturels qui leur font accroire à une démocratisation alors que la plupart du temps ils ne font qu’accroître l’ignorance généralisée qui gagne. Il suffit d’écouter nos étudiants pour nous en rendre compte. Il suffit souvent de lire leur texte, dissertation ou mémoire, pour nous rendre compte que le tout culturel que l’État et les collectivités locales promeuvent avec fébrilité n’engendre pas un surplus de culture, mais, au contraire, abrutissement généralisé, clichés identiques répétés à l’infini… pas même souvent un minimum de maîtrise de la langue nationale… (que dire alors des langues étrangères !) Et ce ne sont pas, chez nous, les manifestations contre le CPE qui me semblent contredire mon approche, parce que la plupart des étudiants qui se mirent en grève exigèrent non pas un meilleur enseignement, la fin des disciplines bidons qui n’apporte aucune compétence, mais une entrée plus intégrée dans le système de la consommation. Personne ne souleva les questions essentielles que pose la décomposition des systèmes éducatifs en France (aussi en Europe), sur la nature et la qualité des enseignements qu’on leur délivre, enseignement qui est celui de l’ignorance ou comme le désigne un enseignant, la mise en œuvre de la fabrique des crétins… En réclamant des diplômes facilement obtenus, les étudiants en grève s’automutile l’avenir, car ce qu’ils veulent c’est une peau d’âne de l’incompétence. Or, l’Université n’est pas là en principe pour préparer des vendeurs et des vendeuses de fringues ou de voitures… C’est pourquoi le véritable système universitaire qui ne dit pas son nom comme tel n’est autre que les grandes écoles, lesquelles, en effet, n’engendre pas des chômeurs. Mais comme par hasard personne lors des grèves étudiantes n’a soulevé ce problème… Le tout culturel, la crise profonde de la finalité des universités, le mélange des genres tout cela fait perdre tout repère, toute capacité de jugement solidement fondé, tout cela va de pair. Dès lors que le premier chanteur venu qui sait mettre de vers de mirliton l’un à la suite de l’autre est présenté, par les médias aux ordres, comme l’équivalent d’un Baudelaire, d’un René Char ou d’un Saint John Perse, alors, comme l’écrivait Hannah Arent le tout est possible triomphe et l’on est sur la voie des dictatures totalitaires.On a flatté la fainéantise pour mieux dominer, alors qu’un enseignement populaire de haute qualité devrait exiger l’effort permanent pendant les années d’apprentissage. Pourquoi le demande-t-on aux sportifs de haut niveau, aux danseurs, aux musiciens et non aux élèves et aux étudiants ? Voilà pour notre monde occidental. Quant l’Europe de l’Est qui avait un système d’enseignement de type soviético-germanique d’excellente qualité pour sa forme de la sélection, elle est en train de se conformer aux normes de la convention de Bologne (LMD) qui est, à l’évidence, la fin de la quête de l’excellence, de la qualité, au profit d’une démocratisation s’articulant sur le nivellement par le bas au nom de la mondialisation, et cela avec l’appui d’une certain « gauche » qui a déserté totalement la vertu et l’effort républicain, pour l’hédonisme d’une science de l’éducation servant de cataplasme sur la jambe de bois de la décomposition universitaire et les pièges démagogiques de l’affirmative action, nouvelle manière, certes bien plus perverse, de mépriser les jeunes gens issus de milieux peu ouverts aux enseignements supérieurs de qualité…

R/ La présence américaine en Europe de l’Est s’est renforcée avec l’extension de l’Otan aux anciens pays du Pacte de Varsovie. Quelle est la stratégie poursuivie par les États-Unis dans la région ?

Simple, ceinturer la Russie, seul pouvoir issu de l’ancien système soviétique capable de contrer l’hégémonie agressive des États-Unis.

R/ L’adhésion de plusieurs pays d’Europe de l’Est à l’Union Européenne est actuellement en cours. Qu’attendent, ces « nouveaux européens », de Bruxelles ?

la seule chose qu’attendent les ex-pays de l’Europe communiste qui sont entrés dans l’UE ce sont des subventions. L’Europe n’ayant aucune existence politique, ces pays se sont mis dans l’OTAN pour bénéficier de la prétendue « protection américaine ». L’UE est une source d’argent, d’argent qui malheureusement est très souvent détourné par la corruption, tant et si bien qu’il ne sert pas les buts pour lesquels il avait été prévu !

R/ Dans votre texte paru dans la revue Krisis n°28, sur Heidegger penseur de la politique, vous écrivez en commentant la réflexion du philosophe allemand concernant la Technique : « nul ne peut nourrir un quelconque espoir de renouvellement de la spiritualité moderne, nul ne peut même espérer un sauvetage tant que la Technique n’aura pas achevé d’accomplir son déploiement… », et un peu plus loin : « de mon point de vue, seul l’impératif catégorique moral propre à chaque individu peut l’engager ou ne pas l’engager dans le choix d’une praxis politique, dût-il savoir, qu’au bout du compte, rien dans l’essentiel ne changera… ». Est-ce le constat d’une impasse historique? Ne peut-on rien attendre de mouvements politiques à dimension collective ?

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Cela dépend de ce qu’ils proposent, ou plutôt de ce que les hommes se proposent comme action pour leur futur. Mais jusqu’à présent la plupart n’ont proposé au mieux que de redistribuer autrement une partie de la plus-value (révolution bolchevique, chinoise, Vietnam,) en mettant en place les mêmes instruments de développement selon, en essence, les mêmes modalités techniques, les mêmes procédures de travail, de salariat et de commandement que les pays capitalistes. Tant et si bien qu’on est en droit d’affirmer que les hommes sont pensés par l’essence de la Technique qui, comme nous l’a appris Heidegger, n’est ni technique ni scientifique, mais métaphysique, laquelle réalise l’accomplissement ultime de la métaphysique. C’est pourquoi l’une des attitudes les plus radicalement critiques se tient dans la déconstruction de la métaphysique et vise à son élimination des interprétations du monde. La métaphysique n’est que le double du réel, le faux-semblant, le simulacre… La métaphysique terminale se tient par exemple dans le culte du progrès comme accomplissement éthique, dans le fait de penser que ce que l’on dit, écrit présentement serait mieux ou meilleur que ce que disaient ou écrivaient les anciens penseurs. Or toutes les constructions métaphysiques n’ont jamais résisté au destin modelé par la naissance et le déploiement du capitalisme. Si le communisme a implosé de cette façon, c’est qu’à sa manière aussi, il était l’une des ultimes versions de la métaphysique. Le réel que la métaphysique refoule (au sens littéral), fait sans cesse retour, et c’est cela à la fois qui apparaît comme l’histoire (le grand jeu politique) et ce que ce retour du réel porte : l’inédit de la liberté humaine, ce qui ne veut jamais dire que cette liberté œuvre seulement pour le bien, elle peut tout aussi bien s’investir dans le mal, ce qu’un marxisme simpliste, mécaniste et sociologisant ne peut comprendre, car il est lui-même pris au piège de la métaphysique. Ce qui est paradoxal, c’est de constater combien les modalités d’interprétations métaphysiques ont résisté aux nombreux démentis qui lui furent infligés. Il faudrait se poser la question pour savoir si ce ne serait pas cela le destin ultime de l’Occident, la renaissance permanente, tel un Phoenix, de la métaphysique comme le double illusoire du monde réel ? L’Occident peut-il, du fait même qu’il est l’Occident en finir avec la métaphysique, non pas au profit d’un matérialisme banal, d’un réalisme de bazar, d’un empirisme superficiel, mais au profit de la pensée qui en montrera la grandeur et la vanité, au profit d’un nouveau rapport au réel de l’appréhension de ce qui est-là pour simplement ce qui est là et non pour autre chose, au profit d’une réalité mouvante et subtile, et non pour rassembler cette mouvance dans la rigidité de concepts, fussent-ils dialectiques ? Je n’ai aucune réponse immédiate. Je médite sur ce sujet depuis des années. J’écris des bribes d’approches que je déchire ou je publie…

Pour ce qui concerne les régimes communistes, il me paraît que l’expérience chinoise confirme, ou, à tout le moins ne contredit pas mon hypothèse. Le régime communiste semble y avoir été le moyen idéal, au nom d’une transcendance nommée le sens de l’histoire (et la science de la société) faisant fonction de l’être du monde, d’engendrer un développement rapide et violent de la modernité dans ces pays très arriéré, avec des erreurs immenses, comme la manière dont a été gérée la révolution culturelle, laquelle assumait dans le champ d’un confucianisme rémanent l’advenue des « lendemains qui chantent » les plus radicaux, c’est-à-dire la construction d’une nouvelle Cité idéale comme Platon et Aristote l’avaient en leur temps et à leurs manières imaginée… Preuve encore que la métaphysique n’avait pas abandonné cette version radicale du marxisme-léninisme, fût-elle tempérée de confucianisme…

À une échelle plus empirique, il me semble, qu’avec toutes ses imperfections Cuba tenterait d’échapper à ce modèle de développement, à tempérer le culte du développement pour le développement par une manière d’affirmer que le but d’un socius heureux n’est pas simplement le consumérisme, même si, tout compte fait, il est encore trop tôt pour en juger clairement. L’histoire du XXe siècle ressemble à la mise en œuvre de divers types de gouvernement des hommes, afin de dépasser sans cesse les limites qu’ils s’étaient tracés au développement. En effet, le capitalisme libéral comme le capitalisme d’État ne se peut déployer dans sa plénitude qu’en assumant, même si c’est illusoire, l’illimité… ou si l’on préfère en assumant le fantasme de l’infinité.

R / Vous êtes le rédacteur en chef de la « Pensée Libre ». Pouvez-vous nous présenter cette revue, à la démarche des plus intéressante ( NOTE : La revue est devenue depuis 2008 un site internet ) ?

Réponse : D’abord je n’en suis pas le rédacteur en chef, mais le co-rédacteur en chef avec trois collègues et amis (trois universitaires et un syndicaliste) dont un, Bruno Drweski, est grâce à la loi, obligé d’assumer le rôle de directeur.

Cette revue est née d’une évidence ; nous avons constaté sur la scène politico-intellectuelle française l’absence d’une revue authentiquement critique (au sens philosophique le plus fort). Il y a des revues prestigieuses, mais elle s’arrêtent dès lors qu’il s’agit d’aborder les problèmes délicats, sensibles, ceux qui dès qu’on les aborde mobilisent le conformisme dans des campagnes de presse qui n’ont rien à envier aux mises au pas de la presse soviétique à la grande époque stalinienne. Deux exemples éclaireront notre constat, ce que l’on a pris l’habitude de désigner comme l’« affaire Heidegger » et tout ce qui touche au Moyen-Orient, à l’Islam, au conflit israélo-palestinien. Mais on peut étendre les plages du conformisme, on le trouve dans des revues de prestige sur la manière de traiter divers aspects de la vie intellectuelle et politique : par exemple, toutes ces revues prestigieuses se sont engagées fermement pour le « oui » au référendum sur la constitution de l’UE, sans jamais publier une seule analyse sérieuse des raisons du « non ». pour en lire, il fallait se rendre sur des sites Internet alternatifs. Je pourrais ainsi multiplier les exemples. Mais ce que nous avons voulu réaliser, c’est la publication de textes de qualité dont le contenu n’appartient pas forcément à nos champs d’interprétations, ou avec lesquels nous pouvons être en désaccord. Notre but étant d’informer les lecteurs francophones de débats, d’interprétations qui ne trouvent pas beaucoup de place en France pour avoir une audience publique… Par exemple, l’un des dernier texte publié avec lequel j’ai des désaccords est cependant extrêmement intéressant car il développe, pour un public francophone, les fondements de la théologie politique de la religion orthodoxe, domaine quasiment inconnu en France, hormis de quelques rarissimes spécialistes publiant dans des revues ultra-confidentielles. Or, une revue sur site Internet, permet à un très large public d’avoir accès à des textes difficiles, mais importants, nous semble-t-il, pour saisir quelque chose de l’histoire politique du monde orthodoxe… et en particulier de la Russie…

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La France, à la différence de l’Italie par exemple, est devenu un pays où le conformisme politico-intellectuel est tel que parfois, pour ceux qui comme moi ont longtemps vécu dans des pays communistes particulièrement vigilants quant à la tenue idéologique, ressemble à s’y méprendre à l’uniformisation de la censure de l’époque ceausescu en Roumanie, à l’Allemagne de l’Est d’Ulbricht ou à la feue Tchécoslovaquie de Husak…

Ce non-conformisme n’est pas une volonté de prendre systématiquement le contre-pied des discours dominants. Notre choix a été guidé par cette affirmation de Hegel complétée par moi-même, à savoir que le penseur doit non seulement penser son temps, mais très souvent pour l’expliciter, penser contre son temps. Il est vrai que plaire aux pouvoirs apporte plus de bénéfices de toutes sortes que de montrer combien le roi est souvent nu… Nous avons choisi de penser, de publier ceux qui pensent (par forcément comme nous), au risque de déplaire… Mais, au bout du compte, le but n’est ni de plaire ni de déplaire, mais de témoigner…

Voilà, résumé pourquoi nous nous sommes engagés dans le travail que représente la publication de cette revue et la recherche d’articles et d’essais qui précisément témoignent de l’état de notre époque…

Merci pour vos questions…

La grande braderie à l’Est

Chronique du livre sous la direction de Claude Karnoouh et de Bruno Drweski

CK-Drw2537.jpgVoici un ouvrage qui a le mérite d’amener à la fois des éléments novateurs pour déchiffrer l’énigme de la chute du Bloc soviétique et d’éclairer sur la situation actuelle des Pays de l’Est. Échappant à l’autoglorification des valeurs « démocratiques et libérales » qui est la règle de la plupart des analystes occidentaux sur le sujet, il présente une vision bien plus complexe de la réalité du système « socialiste ». Il donne aussi un tableau quasi complet de l’histoire économique et sociale immédiate des principales ex-républiques populaires.

Claude Karnoouh et Bruno Drweski , et les jeunes universitaires de l’Est dont ils ont réuni les contributions, donnent une explication en profondeur et en rupture avec nombre de préjugés encore en cours.
Les sociétés issues des changements provoqués par la révolution d’Octobre 1917 apparaissent ainsi comme faisant partie d’un ensemble hybride, fruit d’une synthèse paradoxale (la contribution de Bruno Drweski en fait une démonstration éclairante). Ainsi les états de type soviétique ont emprunté de nombreuses caractéristiques des sociétés existantes antérieurement. Pour le meilleur (l’aspiration communautaire du monde paysanne slave) ou pour le pire (le goulag). Dans le même temps, les régimes communistes ont mené une modernisation approfondie et sans précédent des sociétés de l’Est. Rattrapant leur retard par rapport à l’Ouest, les états socialistes ont effectivement réussi à hisser leurs peuples à un niveau économique développé à la sortie de la seconde guerre mondiale. Dans des secteurs comme la santé ou l’éducation, les progrès furent indéniables. Les sociétés de l’Est ont aussi été accoutumées aux idées d’entraide, de collectivité, de solidarité et d’un internationalisme basé sur le refus de l’impérialisme, ce qui explique pourquoi elles peinent encore à accepter l’égoïsme, l’idéologie des « gagneurs », la domination de l’économique ou le consumérisme sans frein. Autant de valeurs « normales » de règle en Occident. L’empreinte du socialisme, loin de s’effacer, donne naissance à une certaine forme de nostalgie et à un scepticisme devant les beaux discours des élites occidentalisées.

L’incapacité des pouvoirs communistes à gagner la guerre technico-économique face au monde capitaliste (concurrence faussée, vu que le capital ne connaît aucune limite et qu’il ne s’embarrasse jamais d’aucune morale ou idéologie pour étendre son emprise) amènera progressivement leurs désagrégations. Malgré un appareil répressif massif, ils ne purent empêcher le développement des frustrations qu’alimentait la propagande occidentale.
Comme le montre Claude Karnoouh, l’élément décisif dans la chute du système soviétique fut le long travail de sape mené par la « culture de masse » américaine dans les esprits de l’Est. L’image déformée de la prospérité des économies de marché, diffusée par les multiples feuilletons TV des années 80, créa une vision mythique de l’Ouest, terre d’abondance et de libre entreprise. On ne peut s’empêcher de penser que la série Dallas a eu plus d’impact idéologique dans l’éclatement du bloc soviétique que l’ensemble des sadmiszdats d’Alexandre Soljenitsyne… Une grande partie des « élites » politico-économiques soviétiques va rapidement comprendre que son intérêt était de faire basculer leurs pays dans le système libéral. Voulant bénéficier du mode de vie occidental et ne se souciant nullement du sort du reste de la population, elles vont opérer un bradage en règle de dizaine d’années de socialisme. L’auto destruction du bloc de l’Est donnera lieu à un pillage méthodique par cette nouvelle oligarchie issue des anciennes institutions. Avide et déculturée, elle évolue aux marges de la légalité.

Au bilan catastrophique du passage au capitalisme pour les Pays de l’Est, le livre ajoute des analyses pertinentes et originales sur les conséquences de la chute du Bloc soviétique pour l’Afrique et le Moyen-Orient, la naissance d’un monde unipolaire livrant ces régions à l’impérialisme et au chaos. Mais c’est surtout la présentation des répercussions sur nos sociétés occidentales qui est particulièrement intéressant.

Le capitalisme a survécu à ses multiples crises grâce à sa capacité d’adaptation. Ainsi, avec l’instauration des « Etats Providences » et la décolonisation, donc avec sa « socialisation » partielle ou au moins apparente, il a garanti son maintien dans la plus grande partie du monde. Cela, principalement, sous la pression des principes mis en avant par le monde communiste (l’intégration des travailleurs au système capitaliste et l’indépendance des anciennes colonies étant devenues une obligation devant le risque représenté par la propagation des idées socialistes).

On comprend alors que la chute de l’URSS allait lui permettre de revenir à son inclination naturelle. Les illusions d’un capitalisme bienveillant n’allaient pas durer d’avantage. La mondialisation était désormais en marche et la restructuration des économies occidentales réduisait les acquis des années des Etats providences. La « victoire sur le communisme » ouvrait la voie à l’autoglorification du modèle ultra-libéral, devenu un horizon indépassable pour l’Humanité. Désormais, toute recherche de justice et de progrès social était condamnée au nom du goulag, devenu l’aboutissement unique du socialisme dans le jargon libéral. Mais pourtant loin d’assister à la « fin de l’histoire », les événements allaient montrer que le capitalisme n’avait aucune réponse à apporter au désir de liberté des peuples, que d’autres voies pouvaient et devaient être explorées.

Éditions le Temps des Cerises (6 avenue Edouard Vaillant, 93500 Patin) / 18 euros.

Claude Karnoouh est anthropologue, il a débuté sa carrière comme spécialiste des problèmes du monde rural archaïque et de la naissance du nationalisme en Europe de l’Est communiste. Après avoir fait des études de physique-chimie (Sorbonne), de philosophie, de sociologie et d’anthropologie sociale (Sorbonne et Paris X-Nanterre), et avoir enseigné dans le secondaire de 1962 à 1967, il a été chercheur en sciences sociales au CNRS de 1967 à 2005 tout en menant de front une carrière de professeur invité dans des universités roumaines, hongroises, étasuniennes et britanniques. Il est présentement chercheur retraité et professeur invité à l’Université Saint Joseph de Beyrouth. Aimant à se définir comme « un spécialiste des généralités », ses recherches sur le monde rural archaïque de l’Europe communiste, l’ont conduit à poursuivre une réflexion philosophique originale sur les diverses manières dont la modernité, politique et culturelle, se déploie. Nous le remercions d’avoir pris le temps de répondre à nos questions ( Entretien paru dans le numéro de Septembre 2006 de Rébellion).

vendredi, 17 mars 2017

Reading Marx Right: A “Reactionist” Interpretation of The Communist Manifesto

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Reading Marx Right:
A “Reactionist” Interpretation of The Communist Manifesto

 

There is much about The Communist Manifesto [2] that is valid from a Rightist viewpoint – if analyzed from a reactionary perspective. One does not need to be a Marxist to accept that a dialectical interpretation of history is one of several methods by which history can be studied, albeit not in a reductionist sense, but in tandem with other methods such as, in particular, the cyclical morphology of Oswald Spengler,[1] the economic morphology of civilizations as per Brooks Adams,[2] the cultural vitalism of Yockey,[3] and the heroic vitalism of Carlyle.[4] Marx, after all, did not conceive dialectics, he appropriated the theory from Hegel, who had followers from both Left and Right, and whose doctrine was not that of the materialism of the Left. The American Spenglerian, Francis Parker Yockey, pointed this out:

Being inwardly alien to Western philosophy, Marx could not assimilate the ruling philosopher of his time, Hegel, and borrowed Hegel’s method to formulate his own picture. He applied this method to capitalism as a form of economy, in order to bring about a picture of the Future according to his own feelings and instincts.[5]

Indeed, Marx himself repudiated Hegel’s dialectics, whose concept of “The Idea” seemed of a religious character to Marx, who countered this metaphysical “Idea” with the “material world”:

My dialectic method is not only different from the Hegelian, but is its direct opposite. To Hegel, the life-process of the human brain, i.e. the process of thinking, which, under the name of “the Idea,” he even transforms into an independent subject, is the demiurgos of the real world, and the real world is only the external, phenomenal form of “the Idea.” With me, on the contrary, the ideal is nothing else than the material world reflected by the human mind, and translated into forms of thought.[6]

Hegel, on the other hand, wrote about how the historical dialectic worked on the “national spirit,” his philosophy being a part of the Rightist doctrinal stream that was receiving an important impetus form the German thinkers in antithesis to “English thought” based on economics, which imbued Marx’s thinking and hence mirrored capitalism. Hegel wrote, for example:

The result of this process is then that Spirit, in rendering itself objective and making this its being an object of thought, on the one hand destroys the determinate form of its being, on the other hand gains a comprehension of the universal element which it involves, and thereby gives a new form to its inherent principle. In virtue of this, the substantial character of the National Spirit has been altered, – that is, its principle has risen into another, and in fact a higher principle.

It is of the highest importance in apprehending and comprehending History to have and to understand the thought involved in this transition. The individual traverses as a unity various grades of development, and remains the same individual; in like manner also does a people, till the Spirit which it embodies reaches the grade of universality. In this point lies the fundamental, the Ideal necessity of transition. This is the soul – the essential consideration – of the philosophical comprehension of History.[7]

Dialectically, the antithesis, or “negation” as Hegel would have called it, of Marxism is “Reactionism,” to use Marx’s own term, and if one applies a dialectical analysis to the core arguments of The Communist Manifesto, a practical methodology for the sociology of history from a Rightist perspective emerges.

Conservatism and Socialism

KM-2-719014.jpgIn English-speaking states at least, there is a muddled dichotomy in regard to the Left and Right, particularly among media pundits and academics. What is often termed “New Right” or “Right” there is the reanimation of Whig-Liberalism. If the English wanted to rescue genuine conservatism from the free-trade aberration and return to their origins, they could do no better than to consult the early twentieth-century philosopher Anthony Ludovici, who succinctly defined the historical dichotomy rather than the commonality between Toryism and Whig-Liberalism, when discussing the health and vigor of the rural population in contrast to the urban:

. . . and it is not astonishing therefore that when the time of the Great Rebellion[8] the first great national division occurred, on a great political issue, the Tory-Rural-Agricultural party should have found itself arrayed in the protection and defence of the Crown, against the Whig-Urban-Commercial Trading party. True, Tory and Whig, as the designation of the two leading parties in the state, were not yet known; but in the two sides that fought about the person of the King, the temperament and aims of these parties were already plainly discernible.

Charles I, as I have pointed out, was probably the first Tory, and the greatest Conservative. He believed in securing the personal freedom and happiness of the people. He protected the people not only against the rapacity of their employers in trade and manufacture, but also against oppression of the mighty and the great . . .[9]

It was the traditional order, with the Crown at the apex of the hierarchy, which resisted the money-values of the bourgeoisie revolution, which manifested first in England and then in France, and over much of the rest of mid-nineteenth century Europe. The world remains under the thrall of these revolutions, as also under the Reformation that provided the bourgeoisie with a religious sanction.[10]

As Ludovici pointed out, in England at least, and therefore as a wider heritage of the English-speaking nations, the Right and the free trade liberals emerged as not merely ideological adversaries, but as soldiers in a bloody conflict during the seventeenth century. The same bloody conflict manifested in the United States in the war between the North and South, the Union representing Puritanism and its concomitant plutocratic interests in the English political sense; the South, a revival of the cavalier tradition, ruralism and the aristocratic ethos. The South itself was acutely aware of this tradition. Hence, when in 1863 Confederate Secretary of State Judah P. Benjamin was asked for ideas regarding a national seal for the Confederate States of America, he suggested “a cavalier” based on the equestrian statue of Washington in Capitol Square at Richmond, and stated:

It would do just honor to our people. The cavalier or knight is typical of chivalry, bravery, generosity, humanity, and other knightly virtues. Cavalier is synonymous with gentleman in nearly all of the modern languages . . . the word is eminently suggestive of the origin of Southern society as used in contradistinction to Puritan. The Southerners remain what their ancestors were, gentlemen.[11]

This is the historical background by which, much to Marx’s outrage, the remnant of the aristocracy sought anti-capitalist solidarity with the increasingly proletarianized and urbanized peasants and artisans in common opposition to capitalism. To Marx, such “Reactionism” (sic) was an interference with the dialectical historical process, or the “wheel of history,” as will be considered below, since he regarded capitalism as the essential phase of the dialectic leading to socialism.

OS-PS166709.jpgSpengler, one of the seminal philosopher-historians of the “Conservative Revolutionary” movement that arose in Germany in the aftermath of the First World War, was intrinsically anti-capitalist. He and others saw in capitalism and the rise of the bourgeoisie the agency of destruction of the foundations of traditional order, as did Marx. The essential difference is that the Marxists regarded it as part of a historical progression, whereas the revolutionary conservatives regarded it as a symptom of decline. Of course, since academe is dominated by mediocrity and cockeyed theories, this viewpoint is not widely understood in (mis)educated circles.

Of Marxism, Spengler stated in his essay devoted specifically to the issue of socialism:

Socialism contains elements that are older, stronger, and more fundamental than his [Marx’s] critique of society. Such elements existed without him and continued to develop without him, in fact contrary to him. They are not to be found on paper; they are in the blood. And only the blood can decide the future.[12]

In The Decline of The West [3], Spengler states that in the late cycle of a civilization there is a reaction against the rule of money, which overturns plutocracy and restores tradition. In Late Civilization, there is a final conflict between blood and money:

. . . [I]f we call these money-powers “Capitalism,” then we may designate as Socialism the will to call into life a mighty politico-economic order that transcends all class interests, a system of lofty thoughtfulness and duty-sense that keeps the whole in fine condition for the decisive battle of its history, and this battle is also the battle of money and law. The private powers of the economy want free paths for their acquisition of great resources . . .[13]

In a footnote to the above, Spengler reminded readers regarding “capitalism” that, “in this sense the interest-politics of the workers’ movements also belong to it, in that their object is not to overcome money-values, but to possess them.” Concerning this, Yockey stated:

The ethical and social foundations of Marxism are capitalistic. It is the old Malthusian “struggle” again. Whereas to Hegel, the State was an Idea, an organism with harmony in its parts, to Malthus and Marx there was no State, but only a mass of self-interested individuals, groups, and classes. Capitalistically, all is economics. Self-interest means: economics. Marx differed on this plane in no way from the non-class war theoreticians of capitalism – Mill, Ricardo, Paley, Spencer, Smith. To them all, Life was economies, not Culture… All believe in Free Trade and want no “State interference” in economic matters. None of them regard society or State as an organism. Capitalistic thinkers found no ethical fault with destruction of groups and individuals by other groups and individuals, so long as the criminal law was not infringed. This was looked upon as, in a higher way, serving the good of all. Marxism is also capitalistic in this . . .[14]

Something of the “ethical socialism” propounded by Rightists such as Spengler and Yockey is also alluded to in the above passage: “It is based on the State [as] an Idea, an organism with harmony in its parts,” anathema to many of today’s self-styled “conservatives,” but in accord with the traditional social order in its pre-materialistic epochs. It is why Rightists, prior to the twentieth-century reanimated corpse of nineteenth-century free trade, advocated what Yockey called “the organic state” in such movements as “corporatism,” which gave rise to the “New States” during the 1930s, from Salazar’s Portugal and Dollfuss’ Austria to Vargas’ Brazil. Yockey summarizes this organic social principle: “The instinct of Socialism however absolutely preludes any struggle between the component parts of the organism.”[15] It is why one could regard “class struggle” literally as a cancer, whereby the cells of the organism war among themselves until the organism dies.

Caste & Class

The “revolutionary conservatism” of Spengler and others is predicated on recognizing the eternal character of core values and institutions that reflect the cycle of cultures in what Spengler called their “spring” epoch.[16] A contrast in ethos and consequent social order between traditional (“spring”) and modern (“winter”) cycles of a civilization is seen in such manifestations as caste as a metaphysical reflection of social relations,[17] as distinct from class as an economic entity.

Organizationally, the guilds or corporations were a manifestation of the divine order which, with the destruction of the traditional societies, were replaced by trade unions and professional associations that aim only to secure the economic benefits of members against other trades and professions, and which seek to negate the duty and responsibility one had in being a proud member of one’s craft, where a code of honor was in force. Italian “revolutionary conservative” philosopher Julius Evola stated of this that, like the corporations of Classical Rome, the medieval guilds were predicated on religion and ethics, not on economics.[18] “The Marxian antithesis between capital and labor, between employers and employees, at the time would have been inconceivable.”[19] Yockey stated:

Marxism imputed Capitalistic instincts to the upper classes, and Socialistic instincts to the lower classes. This was entirely gratuitous, for Marxism made an appeal to the capitalistic instincts of the lower classes. The upper classes are treated as the competitor who has cornered all the wealth, and the lower classes are invited to take it away from them. This is capitalism. Trade unions are purely capitalistic, distinguished from employers only by the different commodity they purvey. Instead of an article, they sell human labor. Trade-unionism is simply a development of capitalistic economy, but it has nothing to do with Socialism, for it is simply self-interest.[20]

The Myth of “Progress”

While Western Civilization prides itself on being the epitome of “progress” through its economic activity, it is based on the illusion of a Darwinian lineal evolution. Perhaps few words have more succinctly expressed the antithesis between the modernist and the traditional conservative perceptions of life than the ebullient optimism of the nineteenth century biologist, Dr. A. R. Wallace, when stating in The Wonderful Century [4] (1898):

ARW-WC.jpgNot only is our century superior to any that have gone before it but . . . it may be best compared with the whole preceding historical period. It must therefore be held to constitute the beginning of a new era of human progress. . . . We men of the 19th Century have not been slow to praise it. The wise and the foolish, the learned and the unlearned, the poet and the pressman, the rich and the poor, alike swell the chorus of admiration for the marvellous inventions and discoveries of our own age, and especially for those innumerable applications of science which now form part of our daily life, and which remind us every hour or our immense superiority over our comparatively ignorant forefathers.[21]

Like Marx’s belief that Communism is the last mode of human life, capitalism has the same belief. In both worldviews, there is nothing other than further “progress” of a technical nature. Both doctrines represent the “end of history.” The traditionalist, however, views history not as a straight line from “primitive to modern,” but as one of continual ebb and flow, of cosmic historical tides, or cycles. While Marx’s “wheel of history” moves forward, trampling over all tradition and heritage until it stops forever at a grey, flat wall of concrete and steel, the traditionalist “wheel of history” revolves in a cycle on a stable axis, until such time as the axis rots – unless it is sufficiently oiled or replaced at the right time – and the spokes fall off;[22] to be replaced by another “wheel of history.”

Within the Western context, the revolutions of 1642, 1789, and 1848, albeit in the name of “the people,” sought to empower the merchant on the ruins of the Throne and the Church. Spengler writes of the later era: “. . . And now the economic tendency became uppermost in the stealthy form of revolution typical of the century, which is called democracy and demonstrates itself periodically, in revolts by ballot or barricaded on the part of the masses.” In England, “. . . the Free Trade doctrine of the Manchester School was applied by the trades unions to the form of goods called ‘labour,’ and eventually received theoretical formulation in the Communist Manifesto of Marx and Engels. And so was completed the dethronement of politics by economics, of the State by the counting-house . . .”[23]

Spengler calls Marxian types of socialism “capitalistic” because they do not aim to replace money-based values, “but to possess them.” Concerning Marxism, he states that it is “nothing but a trusty henchman of Big Capital, which knows perfectly well how to make use of it.”[24] Further:

The concepts of Liberalism and Socialism are set in effective motion only by money. It was the Equites, the big-money party, which made Tiberius Gracchus’ popular movement possible at all; and as soon as that part of the reforms that was advantageous to themselves had been successfully legalized, they withdrew and the movement collapsed.

There is no proletarian, not even a communist, movement that has not operated in the interests of money, in the directions indicated by money, and for the time permitted by money – and that without the idealist amongst its leaders having the slightest suspicion of the fact.[25]

It is this similarity of spirit between capitalism and Marxism that has often manifested in the subsidy of “revolutionary” movements by plutocracy. Some plutocrats are able to discern that Marxism and similar movements are indeed useful tools for the destruction of traditional societies that are hindrances to global profit maximization. One might say in this sense that, contrary to Marx, capitalism is not a dialectical stage leading to Communism, but that Marxian-style socialism is a dialectical phase leading to global capitalism.[26]

Capitalism in Marxist Dialectics

While what is popularly supposed to be the “Right” is upheld by its adherents as the custodian of “free trade,” which in turn is made synonymous with “freedom,” Marx understood the subversive character of free trade. Spengler cites Marx on free trade, quoting him from 1847:

Generally speaking, the protectionist system today is conservative, whereas the Free Trade system has a destructive effect. It destroys the former nationalities and renders the contrast between proletariat and bourgeois more acute. In a word, the Free Trade system is precipitating the social revolution. And only in this revolutionary sense do I vote for Free Trade.[27]

For Marx, capitalism was part of an inexorable dialectical process that, like the progressive-linear view of history, sees humanity ascending from primitive communism, through feudalism, capitalism, socialism, and ultimately – as the end of history – to a millennial world of Communism. Throughout this dialectical, progressive unfolding, the impelling force of history is class struggle for the primacy of sectional economic interests. In Marxian economic reductionism history is relegated to the struggle:

[The struggle between] freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, guild master and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed . . . in constant opposition to one another, carried on uninterrupted, now hidden, now open, a fight that each time ended, either in a revolutionary re-constitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes.[28]

das-kapital_188859.jpgMarx accurately describes the destruction of traditional society as intrinsic to capitalism, and goes on to describe what we today call “globalization.” Those who advocate free trade while calling themselves conservatives might like to consider why Marx supported free trade and described it as both “destructive” and as “revolutionary.” Marx saw it as the necessary ingredient of the dialectic process that is imposing universal standardization; this is likewise precisely the aim of Communism.

In describing the dialectical role of capitalism, Marx states that wherever the “bourgeoisie” “has got the upper hand [he] has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations.” The bourgeoisie or what we might call the merchant class – which is accorded a subordinate position in traditional societies, but assumes superiority under “modernism” – “has pitilessly torn asunder” feudal bonds, and “has left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest,” and “callous cash payment.” It has, among other things, “drowned” religiosity and chivalry “in the icy water of egotistical calculation.” “It has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom – Free Trade.”[29] Where the conservative stands in opposition to the Marxian analysis of capitalism is in Marx’s regarding the process as both inexorable and desirable.

Marx condemned opposition to this dialectical process as “reactionary.” Marx was here defending Communists against claims by “reactionaries” that his system would result in the destruction of the traditional family, and relegate the professions to mere “wage-labor,” by stating that this was already being done by capitalism anyway and is therefore not a process that is to be resisted – which is “Reactionism” – but welcomed as a necessary phase leading to Communism.

Uniformity of Production & Culture

Marx saw the constant need for the revolutionizing of the instruments of production as inevitable under capitalism, and this in turn brought society into a continual state of flux, of “everlasting uncertainty and agitation,” which distinguishes the “bourgeoisie epoch from all other ones.”[30] The “need for a constantly expanding market” means that capitalism spreads globally, and thereby gives a “cosmopolitan character” to “modes of production and consumption in every country.” In Marxist dialectics, this is a necessary part of destroying national boundaries and distinctive cultures as a prelude to world socialism. It is capitalism that establishes the basis for internationalism. Therefore, when the Marxist rants against “globalization,” he does so as rhetoric in the pursuit of a political agenda; not from ethical opposition to globalization.

Marx identifies the opponents of this capitalist internationalizing process not as Marxists, but as “Reactionists.” The reactionaries are appalled that the old local and national industries are being destroyed, self-sufficiency is being undermined, and “we have . . . universal inter-dependence of nations.” Likewise in the cultural sphere, “national and local literatures” are displaced by “a world literature.”[31] The result is a global consumer culture. Ironically, while the US was the harbinger of internationalizing tendencies in the arts, at the very start of the Cold War the most vigorous opponents of this were the Stalinists, who called this “rootless cosmopolitanism.”[32] It is such factors that prompted Yockey to conclude that the US represented a purer form of Bolshevism – as a method of cultural destruction – than the USSR. It is also why the diehard core of international Marxism, especially the Trotskyites, ended up in the US camp during the Cold War and metamorphosed into “neo-conservatism,”[33] whose antithesis in the US is not the Left, but paleoconservatism. These post-Trotskyites have no business masquerading as “conservatives,” “new” or otherwise.

With this revolutionizing and standardization of the means of production comes a loss of meaning that comes from being part of a craft or a profession, or “calling.” Obsession with work becomes an end in itself, which fails to provide higher meaning because it has been reduced to that of a solely economic function. In relation to the ruin of the traditional order by the triumph of the “bourgeoisie,” Marx said that:

Owing to the extensive use of machinery and to division of labor, the work of the proletarians has lost all individual character, and, consequently, all charm for the workman. He becomes an appendage of the machine, and it is only the most simple, most monotonous, and the most easily acquired knack, that is required of him . . .[34]

Whereas the Classical corporations and the medieval guilds fulfilled a role that was metaphysical and cultural in terms of one’s profession, these have been replaced by the trade unions as nothing more than instruments of economic competition. The entirety of civilization has become an expression of money-values, but preoccupation with the Gross Domestic Product cannot be a substitute for more profound human values. Hence it is widely perceived that those among the wealthy are not necessarily those who are fulfilled, and the affluent often exist in a void, with an undefined yearning that might be filled with drugs, alcohol, divorce, and suicide. Material gain does not equate with what Jung called “individuation” or what humanistic psychology calls “self-actualization.” Indeed, the preoccupation with material accumulation, whether under capitalism or Marxism, enchains man to the lowest level of animalistic existence. Here the Biblical axiom is appropriate: “Man does not live by bread alone.”

megalopolis.jpg

The Megalopolis

Of particular interest is that Marx writes of the manner by which the rural basis of the traditional order succumbs to urbanization and industrialization; which is what formed the “proletariat,” the rootless mass that is upheld by socialism as the ideal rather than as a corrupt aberration. Traditional societies are literally rooted in the soil. Under capitalism, village life and localized life are, as Marx said, made passé by the city and mass production. Marx referred to the country being subjected to the “rule of the towns.”[35] It was a phenomenon – the rise of the city concomitant with the rise of the merchant – that Spengler states is a symptom of the decay of a civilization in its sterile phase, where money values rule.[36]

Marx writes that what has been created is “enormous cities”; what Spengler calls “Megalopolitanism.” Again, what distinguishes Marx from traditionalists in his analysis of capitalism is that he welcomes this destructive feature of capitalism. When Marx writes of urbanization and the alienation of the former peasantry and artisans by their proletarianization in the cities, thereby becoming cogs in the mass production process, he refers to this not as a process to be resisted, but as inexorable and as having “rescued a considerable part of the population from the idiocy of rural life.”[37]

“Reactionism”

Marx points out in The Communist Manifesto that “Reactionists” (sic) view with “great chagrin”[38] the dialectical processes of capitalism. The reactionary, or the “Rightist,” is the anti-capitalist par excellence, because he is above and beyond the zeitgeist from which both capitalism and Marxism emerged, and he rejects in total the economic reductionism on which both are founded. Thus the word “reactionary,” usually used in a derogatory sense, can be accepted by the conservative as an accurate term for what is required for a cultural renascence.

Marx condemned resistance to the dialectical process as “Reactionist”:

The lower middle class, the small manufacturer, the shopkeeper, the artisan, the peasant. All these fight against the bourgeoisie, to save from extinction their existence as fractions of the middle class. They are therefore not revolutionary, but conservative. Nay more, they are reactionary, for they try to roll back the wheel of history. If by chance they are revolutionary, they are so only in view of their impending transfer into the proletariat, they thus defend not their present, but their future interests, they desert their own standpoint to place themselves at that of the proletariat.[39]

This so-called “lower middle class” is therefore inexorably condemned to the purgatory of proletarian dispossession until such time as it recognizes its historical revolutionary class role, and “expropriates the expropriators.” This “lower middle class” can either emerge from purgatory by joining the ranks of the proletarian chosen people, become part of the socialist revolution, and enter a new millennium, or it can descend from its class purgatory, if it insists on trying to maintain the traditional order, and be consigned to oblivion, which might be hastened by the firing squads of Bolshevism.

Marx devotes Section Three of his Communist Manifesto to a repudiation of “reactionary socialism.” He condemns the “feudal socialism” that arose among the old remnants of the aristocracy, which had sought to join forces with the “working class” against the bourgeoisie. Marx states that the aristocracy, in trying to reassert their pre-bourgeois position, had actually lost sight of their own class interests in siding with the proletariat.[40] This is nonsense. An alliance of the dispossessed professions into what had become the so-called proletariat, with the increasingly dispossessed aristocracy, is an organic alliance which finds its enemies as much in Marxism as in capitalism. Marx raged against the budding alliance between the aristocracy and those dispossessed professions that resisted being proletarianized. Hence, Marx condemns “feudal socialism” as “half echo of the past, half menace of the future.”[41] It was a movement that enjoyed significant support among craftsmen, clergymen, nobles, and literati in Germany in 1848, who repudiated the free market that had divorced the individual from Church, State, and community, “and placed egoism and self-interest before subordination, commonality, and social solidarity.”[42] Max Beer, a historian of German socialism, stated of these “Reactionists,” as Marx called them:

The modern era seemed to them to be built on quicksands, to be chaos, anarchy, or an utterly unmoral and godless outburst of intellectual and economic forces, which must inevitably lead to acute social antagonism, to extremes of wealth and poverty, and to a universal upheaval. In this frame of mind, the Middle Ages, with its firm order in Church, economic and social life, its faith in God, its feudal tenures, its cloisters, its autonomous associations and its guilds appeared to these thinkers like a well-compacted building . . .[43]

It is just such an alliance of all classes – once vehemently condemned by Marx as “Reactionist” – that is required to resist the common subversive phenomena of free trade and revolution. If the Right wishes to restore the health of the cultural organism that is predicated on traditional values, then it cannot do so by embracing economic doctrines that are themselves antithetical to tradition, and which were welcomed by Marx as part of a subversive process.

This article is a somewhat different version of an article that originally appeared in the journal Anamnesis, “Marx Contra Marx [5].”

Notes

1. Oswald Spengler (1928), The Decline of The West (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1971).

2. Brooks Adams, The Law of Civilisation and Decay: An Essay on History [6] (London: Macmillan & Co., 1896).

3. Francis Parker Yockey, Imperium [7] (Sausalito, California: The Noontide Press, 1969).

4. Eric Bentley, The Cult of the Superman: A Study of the Idea of Heroism in Carlyle & Nietzsche [8](London: Robert Hale Ltd., 1947).

5. Francis Parker Yockey, op. cit., p. 80.

6. Karl Marx (1873), Capital, “Afterword” (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1970), Vol. 1, p. 29.

7. G. W. F. Hegel (1837), The Philosophy of History [9], “Introduction: The Course of the World’s History[10].”

8. The Cromwellian Revolution.

9. Anthony Ludovici, A Defence of Conservatism [11] (1927), Chapter 3, “Conservatism in Practice.”

10. Max Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, Asceticism and the Spirit of Capitalism[12] (London: Unwin Hyman, 1930).

11. R. D. Meade & W. C. Davis, Judah P. Benjamin: Confederate Statesman [13] (Louisiana State University Press, 2001), p. 270.

12. Oswald Spengler (1919), Prussian and Socialism (Paraparaumu, New Zealand: Renaissance Press, 2005), p. 4.

13. Oswald Spengler, The Decline of The West, op. cit., Vol. 2, p. 506.

14. Francis Parker Yockey, op. cit., p. 81.

15. Francis Parker Yockey, ibid., p. 84.

16. Oswald Spengler, op. cit. The tables of “contemporary” cultural, spiritual and political epochs in The Decline can be found online here [14].

17. The only aspect more widely recalled today being the “divine right of Kings.”

18. Julius Evola, Revolt against the Modern World [15] (Rochester, Vermont: Inner Traditions international, 1995), p. 105.

19. Julius Evola, , ibid., p. 106.

20. Francis Parker Yockey, op. cit., p. 84.

21. Asa Briggs (ed.), The Nineteenth Century: The Contradictions of Progress [16] (New York: Bonanza Books, 1985), p. 29.

22. Turning and turning in the widening gyre

The falcon cannot hear the falconer:

Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world . . . W. B. Yeats, “The Second Coming [17],” 1921.

23. Oswald Spengler, The Hour of Decision [18] (New York: Alfred A Knopf, 1934), pp. 42-43.

24. Oswald Spengler, The Decline of The West, op. cit., Vol. 2, p. 464.

25. Oswald Spengler, ibid. p. 402.

26. K. R. Bolton, Revolution from Above [19] (London: Arktos, 2011).

27. Oswald Spengler, The Hour of Decision, op. cit., p. 141; citing Marx, Appendix to Elend der Philosophie, 1847.

28. Karl Marx, The Communist Manifesto (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1975), p. 41.

29. Karl Marx, ibid., p. 44.

30. Karl Marx, ibid., p. 47.

31. Karl Marx, ibid., pp. 46-47.

32. F. Chernov, “Bourgeois Cosmopolitanism and Its Reactionary Role [20],” Bolshevik: Theoretical and Political Magazine of the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks) ACP(B), Issue #5, 15 March 1949, pp. 30-41.

33. K. R. Bolton, “America’s ‘World Revolution’: Neo-Trotskyist Foundations of U.S. Foreign Policy [21],” Foreign Policy Journal, May 3, 2010.

34. Karl Marx, The Communist Manifesto, op. cit., p. 51.

35. Karl Marx, ibid., p. 47.

36. Oswald Spengler, The Decline of The West, op. cit., Vol. 2, Chapter 4, (a) “The Soul of the City,” pp. 87-110.

37. Karl Marx, The Communist Manifesto, op. cit., p.  47.

38. Karl Marx, ibid, p. 46.

39. Karl Marx, The Communist Manifesto, ibid., 57.

40. Karl Marx, ibid., III “Socialist and Communist Literature, 1. Reactionary Socialism, a. Feudal Socialism,” p. 77.

41. Karl Marx, ibid., p. 78.

42. Max Beer, A General History of Socialism and Social Struggle [22] (New York: Russell and Russell, 1957), Vol. 2, p. 109.

43. Max Beer, ibid., pp. 88-89.

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

URL to article: http://www.counter-currents.com/2017/03/reading-marx-right/

URLs in this post:

[1] Image: https://www.counter-currents.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/3-16-17-2.jpg

[2] The Communist Manifesto: http://amzn.to/2n4b81Y

[3] The Decline of The West: http://amzn.to/2mOq3uY

[4] The Wonderful Century: http://amzn.to/2nf3Mt4

[5] Marx Contra Marx: http://anamnesisjournal.com/2012/03/kr-bolton/

[6] The Law of Civilisation and Decay: An Essay on History: http://amzn.to/2mxUyDM

[7] Imperium: http://shop.wermodandwermod.com/imperium-the-philosophy-of-history-and-politics.html

[8] The Cult of the Superman: A Study of the Idea of Heroism in Carlyle & Nietzsche: http://amzn.to/2ntk81J

[9] The Philosophy of History: http://amzn.to/2mOz1Z6

[10] Introduction: The Course of the World’s History: http://www.class.uidaho.edu/mickelsen/texts/Hegel%20-%20Philosophy%20of%20History.htm#--III

[11] A Defence of Conservatism: http://amzn.to/2nKy2sc

[12] The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, Asceticism and the Spirit of Capitalism: http://amzn.to/2mA1qRL

[13] Judah P. Benjamin: Confederate Statesman: http://amzn.to/2mUZvtM

[14] here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/13596939/Spenglers-Civilization-Model

[15] Revolt against the Modern World: http://amzn.to/2mOBvHc

[16] The Nineteenth Century: The Contradictions of Progress: http://amzn.to/2n4qljM

[17] The Second Coming: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poems/detail/43290

[18] The Hour of Decision: http://amzn.to/2mzTUXr

[19] Revolution from Above: http://amzn.to/2mxWWKK

[20] Bourgeois Cosmopolitanism and Its Reactionary Role: http://www.cyberussr.com/rus/chernov/chernov-mirovaya-e.html

[21] America’s ‘World Revolution’: Neo-Trotskyist Foundations of U.S. Foreign Policy: http://www.foreignpolicyjournal.com/2010/05/03/americas-world-revolution-neo-trotskyist-foundations-of-u-s-foreign-policy/

[22] A General History of Socialism and Social Struggle: http://amzn.to/2nfb9AB

mardi, 13 septembre 2016

The Importance of Solzhenitsyn: Tom Sunic Interviews F. Roger Devlin

The Importance of Solzhenitsyn: Tom Sunic Interviews F. Roger Devlin

dimanche, 07 juin 2015

L'héritage bolchévique en Russie et en Ukraine

L'héritage bolchévique en Russie et en Ukraine

par Xavier Moreau

jeudi, 14 mai 2015

El Archipiélago Orwell

Archivio 2002

El Archipiélago Orwell

Ex: http://www.galeon.com/razonespanola

Rosúa, Mercedes. El Archipiélago Orwell. Grupo Unisón Ediciones. Madrid, 2002, 488 páginas.

george-orwell-nsa.jpgLa implantación del comunismo en China en 1949, después de una prolongada guerra civil, en cuyo desenlace jugó un importante papel la incomprensión del problema por parte del gobierno de los Estados Unidos miembros de la Secretaría de Estado veían en Mao Tse tung, no un marxista leninista, sino a un «reformador agrario»-, supuso la realización de los experimentos sociales de consecuencias más desoladoras en la historia de la humanidad. Ante la magnitud de los datos que se conocen hoy, es muy posible que, en número de víctimas, se superase incluso las terribles cifras del estalinismo. Sobre dichas consecuencias trágicas existen numerosísimos testimonios no sólo de estudiosos occidentales, sino originales chinos.

Pero el libro de la doctora Rosúa, catedrática de Lengua y Literatura, supone el enfoque del problema desde perspectivas nuevas, en gran parte desconocidas. La autora no sólo ha sido una estudiosa de las consecuencias del «Gran Salto adelante», la campaña de «Las cien flores» o la «Revolución Cultural», sino que vivió y enseñó en China durante varios años en plena efervescencia de la misma, experimentando personalmente en la vida cotidiana de diferentes centros de enseñanza los terribles efectos de la más gigantesca campaña de agitación de masas en la historia humana.

El título del extenso y apretado libro es sumamente acertado . Las premoniciones de Orwell en su más conocida obra: «1984» inspiradas en su época indudablemente en el estalinismo, con su «lavado de cerebro" sobre las masas, el dominio y control total de la mente, no sólo fueron llevadas a la realidad en la China maoista, sino que superan las predicciones orwelianas. De forma más absoluta, si cabe, en el control del pensamiento, en el uso del «doblepensar», de la neolengua, sin necesidad de utilizar instrumentos técnicos como los descritos en la fantasía de Orwvell, como las máquinas repetitivas, o la especie de televisores-receptores vigilando la intimidad. No, la «revolución cultural», y el culto al nuevo «gran hermano orwelliano» -Mao- y a las consignas cambiantes del partido, se impone sin necesidad de técnica, sino de modo más eficaz, mediante el control y la sumisión total de las conciencias. Y cuando el ser humano se convierte en esclavo mediante la sumisión total del propio pensamiento, sólo cabe el suicidio como escape a la auto-tiranía controladora.

Mercedes Rosúa, a lo largo de la obra, extensa y sumamente apretada como antes decíamos, ofrece numerosos ejemplos por ella vividos en diferentes centros de enseñanza del Estado chino verdaderamente estremecedores. El control del pensamiento, la sumisión a las normas y consignas impuestas por el partido ofrecen paralelismos increibles con el «1984» de Orwell. Así las consignas del odio contra los que ayer eran líderes y camaradas de armas del presidente Mao y ejemplo para el partido comunista, constituyen el más fiel reflejo de la «semana del odio» orweliana. De golpe un ultraizquierdista como el íntimo amigo, seguidor y fiel discípulo del déspota Mao, cual era Lin Piao, se transforma en el reptil más venenoso y repugnante; el comunista puro y ejemplo para el partido pasa a ser un ultraderechista rabioso, fascista, traidor que busca la restauración del capitalismo. Rosúa asiste a sesiones donde se corean las consignas, donde se siguen furibundamente, sin que quepa la más mínima reserva mental, no ya contra Confucio y Mencio cuyas obras así como la cultura clásica deben ser destruidas, sino contra los políticos, profesores, intelectuales del partido, acusados de revisionismo, oportunismo y de traidores al proletariado, al campesinado, y enemigos del pueblo.

Se exalta con lo que nos parecería verdadero infantilismo, sino fuese algo trágico, a héroes populares para los que se intentan leyendas e historias magnificadoras de su papel en circunstancias heroicas. Así se habla de un alumno que se lanza sin vacilar entre las llamas de un incendio para salvar los bienes del Estado. Al recobrar el conocimiento en el hospital, lo primero que preguntó fue «¿Cómo están los bienes del Estado?»

En una especie de catecismo laico maoista, el profesor escribe en una pizarra lo que no es correcto, utiliza la neolengua para la doble expresión de conceptos antaño burgueses, y repite sin cesar temas memorizados, preguntando al alumno: «¿Eres tu buen alumno del presidente Mao?. Si lo soy. ¿Por qué? Porque estudio todos los días las obras escogidas del presidente Mao» Los ejemplos por ella vividos ofrecidos por la autora en el Instituto de Lenguas Extranjeras, en otros centros en Pekín, en Xian, en el Hotel de la Amistad entre los Pueblos, etc. resultan abrumadores. Rosúa penetra hasta lo más íntimo en la mentalidad china más que deformada, creación de nuevo cuño, del maoismo. Mao admira al mítico emperador Shi Huang ti, pero lo supera en su crueldad en la consecución no del poder material, sino en la consecución del hombre nuevo. Los experimentos anteriores tan terribles de Lenin y de Stalin en esa consecución de un nuevo especímen, el «homo sovieticus», son trascendidos en extensión y en profundidad. Mientras tanto los oráculos occidentales del progresismo como «Le Monde» no sólo ignoraban el sin número de atrocidades, sino que ponían de relieve la aportación de los nuevos valores a la busqueda de la sociedad sin clases.

El fracaso en el tema específlco que llevó a la autora a residir en China esos años, el de la cultura, concretamente el de formación de profesores, traductores e intérpretes, es total. El desastre causado por la «revolución cultural» en su persecución a los antiguos profesores conocedores de idiomas, acusados de traidores, renegados, burgueses, derechistas, atacados aún con más furor si ocuparon puestos en el partido, desterrados al campo, humillados, o destinados a limpiar letrinas y trabajos semejantes, dejaron en cuadro a los aprendices de idiomas, con un nivel ínfimo, para elevar el cual no sirven las consignas repetitivas del libro rojo de Mao. Este utilizado de forma tan grotesca para querer dar más calidad a la fundición de objetos domésticos, únicamente no fue utilizado en las plantas de energía nu-clear, o en la aviación, pues los aviones y los edificios, por mucho que cueste admitirlo, no se sostienen en el aire aplicando sólo los pensamientos maoistas.

Después de la extensísima parte del libro destinada al análisis del archipiélago Orwell, la autora extrae conclusiones aplicables a España, y que por su enjundia merecerían una obra aparte. Resulta verdaderamente trágico el comprobar, como demuestra fehacientemente Rosúa analizando la situación de la educación en España, la terrible similitud con la exposición maoista provocada por la experiencia socialista española. Acertadamente expone que la extensión del desastre intelectual de la reforma educativa comenzada en los ochenta dispuso de una fuerza de choque que se investía a si misma con todos los atributos de la falsa ciencia, con el monopolio de la modernidad, imponiendo una innegable dictadura a favor de las utopías. Entre las medidas dictatoriales adobadas con la ignorancia, la ridiculez y la necedad, figura de forma destacada la imposición de esa neolengua orwelliana, con el aluvión de palabras desprovistas de su verdadero sentido y utilizadas en el «doblepensar»: curricular, transversal, habilidades y destrezas, estrategias didácticas, instrumento, taller, herramientas.... sustitución de conceptos de fácil comprensión y claridad inequívoca como recreo, por segmento de ocio, etc. etc. Acogidas también con gran gozo, por sentar aureola de progresismo por el presidente de la comunidad de Madrid, hombre tan proclive a hacer suyo cualquier planteamiento de izquierda, siempre que tenga resonancia propagandística, como es el control de la reforma educativa. Aún correspondiendo a un partido en principio distante del socialismo neo marxista-capitalista, pero ambos coincidentes, hasta ahora, en la aplicación totalitaria en la enseñanza de la utopía más absurda e irreal, a pesar del riesgo de formar generaciones de ignorantes, cada vez más acentuados en esa ignorancia enciclopédica que envuelve inmisericordemente a gran parte de la juventud actual.

El nuevo proceso totalitario, señala Rosúa, dispone una especial animosidad contra la grandeza. una perversión del término democracia y una imposición generalizada del gregarismo y del anonimato. Apunta todas sus baterías, concluye la autora, hacia la anulación del individuo y no advierte que, con él, elimina la fuente y raíz fundamental del progreso y la aventura humana.


Angel Maestro.

jeudi, 26 mars 2015

Michael Torigian’s Every Factory a Fortress

Michael Torigian’s Every Factory a Fortress

By Eugène Montsalvat

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

tor1ARSVm+yTL._UY250_.jpgMichael Torigian
Every Factory a Fortress: The French Labor Movement in the Age of Ford and Hitler
Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, 1999

Michael Torigian’s Every Factory a Fortress: The French Labor Movement in the Age of Ford and Hitler chronicles the rise and decline of the French Labor movement from the years surrounding the First World War to the outbreak of the Second, culminating in a storm of labor agitation from 1934-1940.

It tells the story of how the working class responded to the social changes introduced by the Fordist-Taylorist model of production that became prevalent during World War I. The rise of the labor movement in these decades lead to the establishment of the Parti Communiste Français (PCF) as a major political force. They faced a great deal of challenges that manifested as strife on the factory floor, within the unions, against the various other factions in French politics, and internationally.

Torigian focuses particularly on the most powerful and radical element of the labor movement, the metal workers, termed métallos in French. These workers were involved in the various trades of steel making, shipbuilding, re-forging, mechanical manufacturing, electrical manufacturing, airplane, automobile, and defense manufacturing, and other miscellaneous metal fabrication. They would play a pivotal role in the wave of strikes and factory occupations that occurred in the years immediately preceding the Second World War.

In addition to the labor struggle, the threat of a Fascist coup in 1934 and the impending war with Germany, made the labor movement a part of the left wing French resistance to Fascism, yet the tension between the international political concerns and economic issues facing the workers would prove to deleterious to the unions and the PCF as the nation lurched towards the Second World War.

Every Factory a Fortress begins with an overview of the transformation of the French metal industry in the years surrounding the First World War. Perhaps the most drastic of all the changes was the adoption of the Fordist-Taylorist mode of production. In the years before the First World War, the metal industry was essentially based in craft workshops, which required a certain amount of skilled labor, and some familiarity with mathematics and drafting as well as manufacturing. It was an essentially artisanal trade.

The First World War would be the beginning of the end for the small workshop. Industrial production would be concentrated in large factories, often employing thousands of workers, which would utilize mechanized, standardized mass production techniques as developed by Henry Ford and Frederick W. Taylor. These would be detrimental to the conditions of the worker. In the old workshops, the craftsman enjoyed a degree of independence and the respect of the foremen. Management rarely intervened in the day-to-day life of the worker.

The Fordist-Taylorist system would replace much of the skilled labor needed with machines, and their operators would be subjected to dehumanizing “scientific management.” Engineers and management would dictate the most effective means of production to the workers, who were reduced to performing repetitive and often dangerous industrial routines as part of an assembly line, often timed by a stopwatch. Failure to keep pace would result in the dismissal of the worker, thus making employment less secure.

This was compounded by the fact that the bosses, termed the patronat, viewed themselves as rulers of the workers, and refused to recruit higher level positions from the laborers, preferring to hire engineers and managers from outside. This lack of social mobility would compound the divide between the workers and the patronat.

The conditions of the war furthered the problems inherent in the system. The fact that many men were out at the front, and would die as a result of the war, meant that women, immigrants, and boys were brought in to fill their roles in the war years and those following. Paid less and easily replaced, this furthered the degradation of skilled labor.

The high turnover in the metal industry following the First World War would have serious social consequences as well. The lack of job security and the flux of employment that resulted from workers constantly leaving factories in search of higher wages led to a fairly nomadic existence. The rooted communities based upon the skilled workers of the workshop ceased to exist and workers crowded into hastily constructed suburbs, which lacked adequate electricity, sanitation, and other basic amenities. Tuberculosis, diphtheria, and other communicable diseases took their toll, and child mortality increased.

The decline of the traditional working communities and the rise of atomized life in the slums provided an opening for mass, consumer culture to replace the organic bonds of society. Sports, radio broadcasts, and cinema became popular diversions French culture became Americanized, Hollywoodized, as one trade unionist noted, “Today, life inside and outside the factories is similar to life in America and has no other aim than the pursuit of crass material satisfaction . . . To achieve this satisfaction people seem willing to accept any kind of servitude.” Moreover, the rise of consumerism distracted the working class from political and economic goals.

The labor movement in France was descended from the ideology of revolutionary syndicalism, which held that the workers would rise up and seize control of the workshops. In the aftermath of the First World War, it proved to be antiquated, as it focused on the concerns of skilled workers in the atmosphere of the workshops that dominated before the rise of the mass industrial system.

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Represented by the Confédération Générale du Travail (CGT), they adopted an anarchist position and refused to negotiate with political parties or form their own to represent themselves, codifying their beliefs in the 1906 Charter of Amiens. Opposed to negotiation with bosses and politicians, the CGT used wildcat strikes, boycotts, and sabotage to advocate for worker control. However, membership remained low, and poor organization stifled its ability to pursue extended strikes.

Divergences between the more reformist and the revolutionary wings began to arise and were furthered by the First World War, as the working class was unequivocally patriotic in their support of the war effort. This lead the CGT to reject direct action in favor of negotiation. However, the new workers in the war industry did not take to the CGT, preferring more mass movement-oriented action over the skilled labor elite of the CGT.

In 1917 there was a round of strikes, opposed by CGT representatives, who sought to protect the interests of skilled laborers from the demands of the masses. In March 1918, another round of strikes lead by anti-reformist dissident stewards broke out. Furthermore, the Russian Revolution had piqued the interest of the more revolutionary segments of the labor movement.

In the waning months of the war, reformist elements sought to codify some of the state-directed socialist aspects of the war economy to mitigate the threat of revolution, proposing nationalization, collective management, and state resolution of contract disputes. However, the end of the war restored the full free market, and the unions lost whatever leverage they enjoyed during the war.

This strengthened the hand of revolutionary syndicalists and the new Soviet-oriented groups. In June 1919, anarchist stewards lead nearly 180,000 workers in a month long strike, where a Soviet was proclaimed in Saint-Denis. The refusal of the CGT leadership to endorse the strikes only exacerbated tensions between the revolutionaries and the reformists. This led to creation of the PCF from a split in the Socialist Party in 1920, and workers began to rally to this new “worker’s party.”

The reformist leadership began to purge the revolutionaries aligned with the PCF, who formed the Confédération Générale du Travail Unitaire (CGTU) in 1922. The CGTU experienced infighting between syndicalists, anarchists, and communists, but by 1923 had enough control to bring the CGTU into the Soviet backed Red International of Labor Unions and organize the union according to Bolshevism. The Unitaires, as CGTU members were called, in the metal industry were used as the political laboratory of the CGTU, where “every change of line, every new directive, every political imperative cooked up by the French and international communist movement would thus find its way into the union’s daily operations.”

One particular organizational change used by the CGTU was to shift the base of operations from the section locale, which represented union by neighborhood, to the section syndicale, which represented workers directly on the factory floor, thus implanting the CGTU into the daily workings of the factory. Unfortunately, the factory sections were hampered by management intimidation and logistics. Both the CGTU and the “confederal” CGT failed to achieve much progress throughout the twenties in terms of concrete gains for their members.

It was the onset of the Great Depression that would strengthen the hand of labor in France. The contraction in the labor movement would end the high turnover in the factories. Immigration, migration from the countryside, and female labor participation decreased, and skilled workers and family men were given priority. This essentially stabilized the environment on the factory floor, which would allow the labor movement to take root. Moreover, the conditions inside the factory worsened in terms of stagnating wages, production speedups, and longer hours. The stabilization of the workforce, combined with more unpleasant conditions lead to a greater need for labor activism.

The CGT tried to organize within the communist dominated suburbs, but were hampered by the union locale mode of organization where unions were represented by locals outside the factory, which led to a lack of contact between the worker and union. The unitaires were better prepared to unionize the métallos, using the section syndicale to reach workers directly on the factory floor. The PCF also utilized factory cells to recruit.

In 1930, direct orders from the Soviet Union forced the CGTU and PCF to reduce their revolutionary rhetoric and focus more on the day-to-day struggles of the workers, which helped end the marginalization they suffered in the preceding years. In 1932 the CGTU started making more concrete demands than full scale revolution like the 40 hour week, guaranteed minimum wages, collective bargaining, and health and safety guarantees. However, the revolutionary core was still present in the party, though reigned in. These radical activists would prove useful in leading future agitation. An increase in strike activity by the CGTU from 1931 to 1933 would result from the turn towards the concerns of the common worker. The CGTU took on the prominent French auto manufacturer, Renault, in November 1931 after a large wage cut was announced. The strike broke out on a shop by shop level, leading to a two month struggle with management. While the strike failed, it raised the credibility of the CGTU in the eyes of the workers. In 1933, the CGTU fomented a massive strike at the plant of Citroen after wage cut announcements were made. After a work stoppage by 300 craftsmen, CGTU agitation eventually caused Citroen to lockout 18,000 workers. Strike committees were formed as intermediaries between union leadership and the workers. Citroen eventually reopened its factories and the promised a mitigation of the wage cut, and the workers returned in blocs, who would engage in slowdowns to force the factory to keep their promises and rehire strikers. While the strike did not bring Citroen to heel completely, it solidified the role of the CGTU as the leader of labor activism in the metal industry.

The events of February 1934 France would have a major impact on the labor movement. The Stavisky Affair, which revealed that several members of the cabinet were connected to the Jewish swindler Serge Stavisky, inflamed the passions of the far right, and led to a series of demonstrations in January 1934 by organizations like Action Française and Croix de Feu of a generally an anti-democratic character.

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On February 3rd, Premier Daladier dismissed the right-wing prefect of the police, leading to massive demonstrations on the 6th. 100,000 rightists marched on the Chamber of Deputies, and police opened fire, killing 18 and leaving 18,000 wounded. Fearing impending civil war, the government resigned.

Maurice-Thorez.jpgThe initial response of the communists was indifferent. PCF leader Maurice Thorez stated that there was “ no difference between bourgeois democracy and fascism. They are two forms of capitalism . . . Between cholera and the plague one does not choose.” On the 7th of February, the PCF rejected a socialist overture to form a united front against what was widely perceived as a Fascist coup attempt.

Interestingly enough, it was PCF member and future Fascist Jacques Doriot that broke ranks with the party leadership to propose an alliance with the Section Française de l’Internationale Ouvrière (SFIO) against the anti-republican forces. In response, Thorez announced a demonstration on February 9th against fascism and Daladier’s cabinet. The demonstration was banned, but it went ahead anyhow, resulting in street fighting that left six dead. In response a general strike was called on February 12th, mobilizing four million workers across the country.

In this action, the strikers saw themselves not as agents of revolutionary class struggle, but as defenders of French democratic institutions derived from the French Revolution. This in turn would lead to the formation of alliances between the PCF and the less revolutionary factions of the French left. The PCF joined the SFIO to formulate a “united action pact.” With German rearmament posing a threat to Soviet Union, the PCF was forced to abandon its criticism of French democracy and seek alliances with potential allies against a future German assault within the political sphere. Steps were taken to reunify the CGT and the CGTU, but they had yet to produce any results. The new-found moderation of the PCF and CGTU and their symbolic defense of the republic proved to be quite successful in convincing workers to join, swelling the ranks in the metal union enough for them to put out a weekly paper, Le Métallo.

The Franco-Soviet Pact of Mutual Assistance in May 1935 forced further rapprochement between the PCF and the French state, which opened the way for an alliance with the Radicals, the bourgeois liberal party. The PCF increasingly appealed to French patriotism against the threat of Germany, wrapping themselves “so tightly in the French flag that the hammer and sickle would barely be visible.” The May 1935 election would also see the formation of a People’s Front observing “republican discipline,” where voters would vote for the strongest Left-wing party on the second ballot. This lead to massive gains for the PCF, moving the number of cities and towns under PCF control from 150 to 297.

In June 1935, the Comité de Rassemblement Populaire was formed to bring together the PCF, SFIO, CGT, CGTU, and Radicals to organize a pro-republican Bastille Day rally. However, it decided to maintain itself afterwards and align with the People’s Front in support of republican defense. However, the various factions were in dispute on a number of issues, and it would take until January 1936 for them to codify a program, based around international defense against fascism, suppression of the right-wing leagues, and some fairly vague promises of restoring the worker’s purchasing power harmed by the depression through a fairly Keynesian program. A GCT-CGTU merger would follow in March of 1936.

The political gains and consolidation of the left would help support and organize labor activism in the future. In 1935, the first major successes of the CGTU soon followed, the Gnome-et-Rhône aircraft works granted labor demands after the threat of a strike, and similar victories in the Panhard-Levassor auto plant, the Chausson auto works, Hispano-Souza, and the aircraft plants of Bloch, CAMS, and Loiré-Olivier soon followed.

The 1936 parliamentary elections would intensify the momentum of the French labor movement, the Communists growing from 10 to 72 seats. However, parties of the extreme right had also made significant gains. The atmosphere of polarization grew as the moderate bourgeois liberal parties were reduced in strength. 120,000 workers rose in a May Day strike. The Bréguet aviation plant fired two militants in reprisal for their role in the May Day strike, which triggered an occupation. When police arrived to evict them, they barricaded themselves into the workshop bearing the company’s prototypes. The management recalled the police and opened negotiations when they refused to leave. The striker’s demands were satisfied. Another strike broke out, possibly encouraged by the PCF’s Toulouse branch, in the Latécoère aviation plant and it was settled in the workers favor in a manner similar to the Bréguet strike. The wave of factory occupations struck the capital region, notably at the Bloch plant, where a strike aided by PCF deputies and the Communist mayor of Courbevoie succeeded in granting a new contract with a large raise to the workers.

However, the leadership of the PCF, was not entirely pleased by these actions, as they had joined the People’s Front to maintain the force of the French government against the rising power of German Fascism. PCF organ L’Humanité urged the workers to “refrain from wild revolutionary gestures.” However, the new People’s Front government had buoyed the worker’s hope for economic reform, and they would go ahead with or without Communist support.

A demonstration in memory of the Paris Commune of 1871 on May 24th drew 600,000 workers, furthering the fervor of the movement, as syndicalist Pierre Monatte remarked, “When you feel strong in the streets, you can no longer feel like a slave in the factory.” The Tuesday following the commemoration of the Commune, 4,000 workers occupied six metal plants. This strike would spread, on Thursday 33,000 Renault workers would join. Attempts to resolve the strikes on June 1st failed when the employers refused to sign a contract. On June 2nd, 60 factories were occupied, and the strike had spread to other regions of France. The union leaders who had advocated caution in order to maintain their political position were ignored as the movement gained a life of its own.

On June 7th, an agreement, dubbed the Matignon Accords, was reached, which promised recognition of the union, a 7 to 15 percent raise, and a system of shop stewards. Other demands would be resolved later. However, the employers immediately had reservations, and the most of the striking workers saw no reason to leave, believing the accords were too loose. By the 9th of June, four million workers remained on strike.

Fear of a revolution reached fever pitch as labor delegates rejected the employers’ concessions, demanding four non-negotiable things: a serious wage increase, paid vacation, payment for the days on strike, and satisfaction of the striking technicians’ demands. The government, fearing civil war, hurriedly passed a forty-hour week, paid vacation, and collective bargaining. Thorez, fearing that that the strike would break the People’s Front, called on workers to bring the strikes to an end, and on the 12th of June, the union signed a contract with the employer’s collective, the UIMM, which granted paid vacation, raises, and shop stewards, and the union was recognized as the sole bargaining agent of the workers. Further bargains between individual factories were struck on the 13th and 14th, and work resumed on the 15th. The workers viewed this as a great triumph, and the strikers evacuated the plants to great fanfare.

The employers responded to the new system with a series of indirect attacks on the Matignon Accords, firing stewards, reclassifying categories of workers, and delaying the implementation of the contract. The employers’ actions intensified the workers’ defiance, augmented by the fact that many of the new union recruits were inexperienced in dealing with the formalities of negotiation and came to unionism in the surge of labor radicalism. The union leadership was presented with problems from the confrontational attitude of the new stewards, who sought to flex their new found power at the least provocation from management. The PCF worried that further conflicts with the patronat would damage the political strength of the People’s Front. CGT leader Jouhaux urged employees to ignore “employer provocations” and wait for the government to arbitrate disputes.

The advent of the Spanish Civil War would further the rifts developing in the People’s Front further. The Blum government bowed to public pressure and refused to aid the loyalists in the conflict. For the PCF and the CGT this was akin to the endorsement of fascism. A one-hour general strike in protest of France’s non-intervention was called for on the 7th of September. While supported by the Communists, it had the effect of inflaming the tensions between them and the syndicalists and socialists opposed to further warfare in Europe, and the SFIO announced its opposition to the strike on the grounds that it would threaten the People’s Front government.

To counter the Communist influence in the factories, the SFIO formed the Amicales Socialistes d’Enterprise, a rival union. Some former confederals in the CGT also took an anti-communist, pacifist line spread through their organ Syndicats. About a third of the CGT, sympathetic to revolutionary syndicalism supported the Syndicats group. At the first meeting of the Metal Federation’s congress after CGT-CGTU reunification, attempts were made to preserve the spirit of unity, and two of six executive positions were reserved for confederals. However, following the passage of a compulsory government arbitration bill for strikes, which the CGT accepted, and Blum’s increasingly conservative policies in the midst of financial crisis, workers became increasingly disgruntled with the union’s willingness to support the government, and anarchist and Trotskyites formed the Cercle Syndicaliste “Lutte de Classes” in opposition to CGT.

tract-sfio-1936-1.jpgWorker support for the People’s Front government was further eroded in 1937 following the rise of the fascist Parti Sociale Français (PSF). Following the fatal shootings of six workers by policemen in an anti-fascist demonstration at Clichy on March 16th, which lead to a call for a half-day strike in protest of the killings, Blum threatened to resign if the strike went ahead, and then failing to do so, ordered the police to crackdown on the workers who allegedly instigated the violence at Clichy.

Worker anger at the PCF’s collaboration with Blum was unabashed; one Communist stated, “They massacre the workers, they let revolutionary Spain perish, and it’s L’Humanité and the party that makes us swallow it all.” Violent protests erupted in factories throughout the Paris metal industry. In response, employers increased their repression of the unions, locking out workers and firing militants, even refusing to abide by settled contracts in some cases.

The resignation of Blum, who was replaced by Chautemps, only diminished the workers’ faith in the People’s Front and increased the anger they felt towards the union leadership for collaborating with it. The Amicales, Cercle Syndicaliste, and Syndicats, as well as Catholic and Fascist unions attracted workers. Following the failure of the unions and the employers to agree on a new contract after the expiration on the 31st of December 1937, and the failure of the government to arbitrate new terms, the stage was set for another major wave of conflict between labor and management.

1938 saw the reinstatement of Blum as premier following Chautemps’ resignation. This in turn gave the union leadership impetus to demand an anti-fascist foreign policy in addition to their contractual demands. Blum would increase defense spending to counter Germany’s rearmament, but he demanded the unions make a concession concerning the forty-hour work week. The union was willing to abide by this, provided they received a new contract, but the proposed deal fell through. This failure strengthened the hand of the anti-CGT, anti-PCF groups like the Amicales, Cercle Syndicaliste, and Syndicats, who claimed that the union was overtaken by “war psychosis” to the extent that it ignored the economic objectives close to the workers. The metal unions attempted to convince the Blum government that the employers were sabotaging war production through their treatment of the workers. In twenty metal plants workers struck in 20- to 90-minute waves for a new contract and the opening of the Spanish border. However, this in turn lead to large scale strikes, shutting down Citroen’s seven Paris plants, which did not mention foreign policy concerns at all. The union leadership was unprepared for an intensification of the strike activity, but they had no choice but to allow them to continue if they want to maintain the respect of the laborers. However, when the sections syndicales initiated more strike activity, under orders from the central leadership, the leadership then refused to take responsibility or seize the initiative to guide them, torn between the demands of the workers and the political imperatives of maintaining the government against German rearmament. The indecision of the union leadership, combined with their failure to adequately provide strike pay, soup kitchens, or elect strike committees, left the strikers feeling abandoned, which in turn provided an opportunity for Trotskyites to demonstrate leadership of the strike and agitate for further work stoppages. The PCF response was violent and decisive, and PCF thugs beat any Trotskyite agitators approaching the factories. To compound issues, Catholic and Fascist unions were also attempting to turn the workers against the union leaders, and this resulted in several violent confrontations. In the face of mounting divides in the strikers, the employers saw no reason to soften their stance towards them and adamantly refused to entertain their demands. An offer by union leaders to end the strike following government arbitration and a token wage increase was rebuffed by the employers. This failure only spurred further strikes, by April 8th it consisted of 68,000 workers occupying 40 factories. Blum once again resigned in the face of mounting pressure after failing to obtain special powers to end the strikes.

The Daladier succeeded in gaining the special powers denied to Blum and he ordered troops to occupy Paris. A deal called the Jacomet Sentence was struck for workers in the nationalized aviation sector, providing a 45-hour week and a 7 percent wage increase. This was extended to private sector plants on April 13th, and ratified on the 14th. The entire Paris metal industry returned to work on the 19th.

However, workers began to notice how much the agreement curtailed their rights, effectively destroying many of the gains won with the Matignon Accords. Section meetings, posting of union information, and the collection of dues were restricted or prohibited. Furthermore, employers used punitive firings against labor militants, in express violation of the contract they agreed to. Membership in the metal unions declined by nearly a third. In response to criticism among the ranks, CGT leadership labeled unruly members Trotskyites, fascists, or provocateurs.

Further pressure on the unions arose when the Daladier government appointed center-right politician Paul Reynaud as Finance Minister. His decrees proved particularly intolerable, raising taxes, imposing new pro-employer mechanisms to resolve industrial strife, reestablishing the six-day work week, and giving employers the right to fire or blacklist employees for refusing overtime. These decrees would give the CGT a reason to strike against the Daladier government, with the intent of forcing its resignation. A series of strikes on November 21st to the 24th broke out and raised further pressure of a general strike, forcing police to use violence to remove the occupying strikers. They police succeeded in evicting the strikers from all the plants but Renault, whose management further inflamed tensions by announcing an increase in hours. Union leaders attempting to defuse the situation were ignored and workers prepared a last stand, barricading the doors, and gathering pieces of metal to use as projectiles in the face of a coming police onslaught. 6,000 police faced down 10,000-15,000 workers. The ensuing “Battle of Renault” saw the police deploy tear gas to clear the factory and resulted in serious injury to 46 police, 22 workers, hundreds of lesser injuries, and 500 arrests. Renault locked out 28,000 workers the next day and declared their contract null and void. Between the 25th and 30th, union leadership wavered, giving the government time to prepare further measures against future unrest. A general strike planned for the 30th of November was impeded by the government’s deployment of troops and its requisitioning of workers necessary to the basic functioning of national infrastructure. It is estimated around 75% of the Paris region metal industry participated in the strike, but the end result was total defeat. Entire factories were locked out or had their workforce dismissed, union stewards were fired, 500 strikers were sentenced to prison. Rehired workers had to deal with significantly less protections than the ones they had earned two years earlier, and the non-socialist factions of the state shunning cooperation with the unions and communists.

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Following the March 1939 annexation of the remainder of Czechoslovakia by the Germans, repressive conditions in the factories only intensified as a result of hurried military production. However, labor leaders following the Comintern anti-German line, were loath to interrupt the militarization of France against Germany. Then the Molotov-Ribbentrop Non-Aggression Pact between the Soviet Union and Germany threw the leadership into chaos. Daladier accused the PCF of being unfaithful to France and CGT leader Johaux condemned the pact, but resisted calls to remove communists from the CGT. The PCF was thrown into even worse disarray than the CGT, as a third of its elected officials resigned in protest, and the government seized their publications. The German invasion of Poland, forced PCF leader Thorez to accept the war effort, but a direct Soviet order demanded that the PCF denounce the war and sabotage the French war effort. The CGT responded by purging the Communists from its ranks. The PCF was proscribed and forced to go underground. The Communist- dominated metal union was disbanded on the 26th of September. The government’s polices towards labor once again became more repressive, banning collective bargaining, strikes, and freezing wages. Those who objected were interned.

However, government concerns about the threat of labor unrest let to an agreement between labor and management to collaborate in the war effort, called the Majestic Agreement. Yet this collaboration failed to deliver any concrete benefits to the workers. Finally, German victory over France in May 1940 would put the factories at the disposal of the victors, thus ending the period of labor strife that had lasted for six years.

Lessons for White Nationalists

The rise and fall of the French labor movement provides many lessons for any budding political movement. Those on the right should not be afraid of learning from the successes and failures of a supposedly left-wing movement. Indeed, many of the concerns articulated by the labor movement were inherently conservative, if not reactionary, as Torigian notes in his Epilogue.

The rise of the unions had its origin in the reaction to the social dislocations caused by mass production and industrialization. Economic events tore asunder the traditional communities centered around the craft workshop; the spirit of camaraderie that craft workers enjoyed was replaced by mechanized drudgery. The strikes provided the first opportunity in years for workers — who stood shoulder-to-shoulder, bound to machines — to form bonds with one another. During the six years of labor unrest, the unions set up schools, concerts, and vacation homes for their members, giving them some semblance of a community they had lost in the preceding years. The goal of restoring the historical ties of a community severed by modernity shows the deep conservatism beneath the outward trappings of leftist unionism.

Another conservative facet of labor’s rise was the fact that it was jolted from its previous malaise by an appeal to patriotism. It was the call to defend the Republic, and the heritage of the French Revolution, that started the six years of struggle in 1934. As Alain Soral states in “Class Struggle Within Socialism: 1830-1914 [2],” “It is historically demonstrated that the people are always patriotic,” noting that even the Communards of 1871 were reacting against the defeat of Sedan and the Prussian occupation agreed to by the bourgeois government. It was the leadership’s willingness to follow the foreign dictates of Comintern, at the expense of economic and social concerns dear to the average worker, that destroyed the benefits they had achieved through the Matignon accords.

The failure of the People’s Front should also be a lesson to any radical political movement about the dangers of mainstreaming. The willingness to sacrifice the gains the union had achieved for the survival of a political party proved disastrous. The equivocation and willingness to compromise demonstrated by the CGT and PCF in the years following Matignon weakened the resolve in the ranks, diminished membership in the movement, and opened the door for more radical elements to outflank them. The concerns of the people within the movement should take priority over any desire for political expediency. The idea that some politician will be the savior of any particular extreme struggle, left or right, has been disproved time and time again. Those who fail to grasp that would greatly benefit from reading Every Factory A Fortress.

Furthermore, anyone wishes to see how a mass movement can become strong enough to challenge the entrenched interests of the political and economic elite should read Every Factory a Fortress. As the struggles of labor continue in the face of globalization, multiculturalism, unchecked immigration, and other consequences of untrammeled neo-liberalism, the need for a movement to raise its banner against this brazen exploitation grows daily. Only by assimilating the lessons of the period from 1934 to 1940 will it emerge victorious.


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

URL to article: http://www.counter-currents.com/2015/03/michael-torigian-every-factory-a-fortress/

URLs in this post:

[1] Image: https://secure.counter-currents.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/EveryFactoryaFortress.jpg

[2] Class Struggle Within Socialism: 1830-1914: http://openrevolt.info/2012/03/23/alain-soral-class-stuggle-within-socialism-1830-1914/

jeudi, 28 novembre 2013

Dossier "Preve"

costanzo-preve_mr.jpgEl pasado día 23 de noviembre murió en la ciudad de Turín el filósofo italiano Costanzo Preve (nacido en Valenza en 1943). Filósofo marxista y profesor de historia y de filosofía de 1967 a 2002. Miembro del PCI de 1973 a 1975. En 1978 participó en la creación del Centro Studi di Materialismo Storico (CSMS).

Escribió unos sesenta libros sobre diversos temas y colaboró en numerosas publicaciones. Tras la caída del muro de Berlín participó en actividades del campo anti-imperialista contra la política norteamericana y sionista. En los últimos años apostó por la crítica transversal, colaborando por ejemplo con Alain de Benoist.

Como ha expresado Alexander Dugin en una conocida red social: “He was excellent Italian Marxist intellectual with positive attitude to the eurasianism and 4PT. Great loss. Constanzo Preve?Presente!” (“Nuestro amigo Costanzo Preve ha muerto. Era un excelente intelectual marxista italiano con una actitud positiva hacia el eurasianismo y la 4TP. Gran pérdida. Costanzo Preve – ¡Presente!).

El último número de la revista Nihil Obstat publica un trabajo de Costanzo Preve, dentro del dossier: “La izquierda. Crisis e identidad”.

Enlazamos dos vídeos, en italiano, del acto de presentación del número 2/2005 de la revista italiana “Eurasia”, que contó con la intervención, entre otros, de Alexander Dugin y del recientemente desaparecido Costanzo Preve.

Fuente: La Cuarta Teoría Política en español

Costanzo Preve: “Hoy la paradoja dialéctica está en esto: el enemigo principal es precisamente el que se presenta como el principal amigo de la humanidad”

“La razón por la que acepto en lo esencial la dicotomía schmittiana [amigo-enemigo] está en el hecho de que esta describe con admirable aproximación la situación histórico-política que se creó en el siglo XX y sobre todo permite nombrar al imperio ideocrático americano como el enemigo principal. Este es el enemigo principal no porque sea el único imperio capitalista (también Rusia, China, India, etc. son capitalistas al cien por cien), sino porque su existencia bruta coordina, tanto en el plano militar como sobre todo en el cultural, la entera reproducción capitalista globalizada mundial, imponiendo sus reglas financieras. Por esto es el enemigo principal, no ciertamente porque sus competidores sean “humanamente” mejores. (…) Además, Schmitt ha sido el único pensador del siglo XX que ha puesto de relieve de modo claro y “reproducible” que la sucia legitimación particularista de la potencia marítima americana ha sido edificada a través de la referencia a una presunta “humanidad”. (…) Hoy la paradoja dialéctica está en esto: el enemigo principal es precisamente el que se presenta como el principal amigo de la humanidad, a la que pretende conformar “universalistamente” a su  estructura económica, política y social particularista, y lo hace en nombre de un mandato religioso, de una divinidad auto-atribuida, un auténtico Anti-Cristo fruto de una fusión monstruosa entre fundamentalismo judío veterotestamentario y puritanismo calvinista de los “elegidos” “.

Costanzo Preve

Fuente: Arianna Editrice

Extraído de: La Cuarta Teoría Política en español

kommunismus1.jpg

 

Sobre el concepto de comunismo

por Costanzo Preve -  Turín, febrero 2009.

1.- En una correspondencia epistolar en la red con Atilio Mangano, publicada en su blog (ripensaremarx.splinder.com), Gianfranco La Grassa (en adelante GLG) admite abiertamente que ya no puede llamarse “comunista”, que es anticapitalista sin comunismo; en resumen, él admite que ya no maneja el concepto de comunismo. Se trata de una confesión que le honra. Desde el momento en que GLG es un verdadero especialista en Marx y no un caótico charlatán, está claro que no puede contentarse con afirmaciones antieducativas de tipo narcisista-existencialista a lo Pietro Ingrao para quien el comunista es aquel que “se siente comunista” o “se declara comunista”. Por lo mismo que un loco de manicomio que se declara Napoleón debería ser verdaderamente Napoleón. Si hubiera en Italia una discusión marxista seria, en lugar de blogs auto referenciales en recíproca lucha sectaria, la confesión de GLG provocaría una discusión. Pero esto no ocurrirá. No importa, yo voy a discutirla.

2.- Según el Dictionnaire Critique du Marxisme de Labica y Benusan, en la palabra “Comunismo”, se pueden leer unas interesantes puntualizaciones:

(a) Hasta La Ideología alemana de 1845, Marx nunca usó el término “comunismo” sino el de “socialismo”. En este contexto histórico, el comunismo no era sino el reparto igualitario de bienes y Marx lo critica en los Manuscritos de 1844 con la curiosa expresión “propiedad privada general”.

(b) en los Manuscritos de 1844, Marx está pensando aún el socialismo en términos “conviviales” y comunitarios de una asamblea reunida en torno a una mesa común fraternal (de donde viene el término “compañeros”, cum-pane, el que comparte conmigo el pan). Los orígenes comunitario-conviviales del término comunismo en 1844 están filológicamente documentados y el que quiera separar comunismo de comunitarismo debe destruir toda la documentación existente. (c) en los Manuscritos de 1844 hay una centralidad del concepto de alienación. Como se sabe hay escuelas marxistas (entre las cuales la escuela althuseriana de GLG) que quisieran deshacerse de este concepto “juvenil”. Otras escuelas, como la mía, tienen al respecto una opinión contraria y sostienen su permanencia y centralidad durante toda la vida de Marx. Una, no la única, de las razones por la que yo la mantengo como central es que en Marx la crítica al concepto abstracto de alienación es inseparable del concepto concreto de división del trabajo. Y un comunismo que obvia la división del trabajo, tal y como está ocurriendo hoy en día, se parece más bien poco a un “comunismo” y mucho a una ingeniería social de tipo positivista.

(d) En La ideología Alemana de 1845 tenemos la no casual co-presencia de dos conceptos nuevos. De una parte, el concepto de modo de producción capitalista, cuyos nombre y concepto no existían antes de 1845. Por otra parte, el concepto de comunismo no como un ideal a realizar, sino como un movimiento real que intenta abolir el actual estado de cosas. El verdadero “materialismo histórico” nace como tal, solamente en 1845, a través de la conexión dialéctica orgánica del modo de producción capitalista, de las contradicciones de este modo de producción (burguesía y proletariado, fuerzas productivas y relaciones de producción, etc.), y del comunismo como movimiento real.

(e) En el Capital, capítulo sobre el fetichismo de la mercancía, Marx piensa el capitalismo a diferencia del robinsonismo y en contraste con el “sombrío” mundo feudal y con la explotación agraria familiar, a través de la representación “de una asociación de hombres libres que trabajan con medios de producción colectivos y emplean, conscientemente, sus numerosas fuerzas de trabajo individuales como una fuerza de trabajo social (…) Las relaciones sociales de los hombre en sus trabajos y con los productos de estos, siguen aquí siendo diáfanamente sencillas, tanto en lo que respecta a la producción como en lo que atañe a la distribución”.

Resumiendo: si las palabras tienen un sentido, el comunismo resulta de tres conceptos de comunidad (comunidad de trabajo, comunidad de producción, comunidad de distribución), de planificación (es decir, de la preponderancia de un plan sobre el mercado) y, en fin, de transparencia (las relaciones sociales “comunistas” son “transparentes” y, al contrario, no están ensombrecidas por el fetichismo de la mercancía, debido a su vez a la alienación de los productos del trabajo; por lo que, como se puede ver, yo rechazo radicalmente la lectura de Althuser y de GLG de la separación entre el concepto de alienación y el concepto de fetichismo de la mercancía, conceptos que yo considero al contrario, lógica e históricamente interconectados).

(f) En los escritos de alrededor de 1870 y de la Comuna de París, Marx muestra que para él el comunismo es la “asociación de los productores”. Esta asociación de los productores tiene dos bases: la reapropiación del plusproducto social apropiado por las clases explotadoras y la democracia directa de los productores mismos. Marx ve así, ligadas, la democracia directa y la extinción del Estado, porque para él la democracia directa es incompatible con la permanencia del Estado, por muy “democratizado” que sea.

wutwiderstand-kopie.jpg(g) El la Crítica al programa de Gotha de 1875, Marx distingue dos fases en el paso al comunismo, la primera fase (de cada uno según sus capacidades, a cada uno según su trabajo) y la segunda fase (de cada uno según sus capacidades, a cada uno según sus necesidades). Es una distinción generalmente muy conocida hasta por los principiantes de los estudios de marxismo.

En la interpretación clásica del marxismo, la primera fase se viene llamando “socialismo” y la segunda, “comunismo”. Gracias a los estudios de la tendencia maoísta occidental (Althuser, Bettelheim, Natoli, etc.) se da por cierto que esta distinción es inexacta. El socialismo de hecho, no es para Marx un modo de producción autónomo, sino simplemente la transición del capitalismo al comunismo, en la que perdura la lucha de clases entre burguesía y proletariado entorno a las dos “líneas” del partido (teoría de la revolución cultural de Mao Tsé-tung y del maoísmo europeo).

El discurso debería ser más largo y mejor articulado, pero contentémonos de momento con estos siete puntos introductorios. Y sobre todo, comentémoslos de manera libre y desprovista de prejuicios.

3. Para quien conozca la filosofía de Hegel y no habla de oídas como un borracho en la taberna, es evidente que el comunismo de Marx no se “superpone” a la historia como un proyecto racional abstracto, sino que emerge del desarrollo de determinaciones dialécticas (en el sentido de determinaciones del finito que reenvía a otra cosa distinta a sí mismo), y por consiguiente está contenido en el capitalismo como su posibilidad ontológica objetiva. Quien conozca la Fenomenología del espíritu, y no el que escupe sobre ella sin conocerla más que de oídas, reconocerá en ella la teoría del Saber Absoluto de Hegel para quien “la fuerza del espíritu consiste más bien en permanecer igual a sí mismo en su exteriorización”. Si intentamos deducir el comunismo no sólo de una posibilidad objetiva no necesitada por nada vinculante (el dynamei on aristotélico), sino por una necesidad histórica que toma la forma (loca) de una ley natural positivista, quedaríamos en un impás.

La “ciencia” así entendida nunca podría deducir científicamente el paso del capitalismo al comunismo.

4. El fallo de todos los “cientifismos”, desde Lucio Colletti hasta Gianfranco La Grassa, está pues inscrito desde un principio en el carácter erróneo de sus presupuestos. Y como a mi no me extraña en absoluto que Collletti, lleno se su estúpido rencor hacia Hegel, mucho mejor que él, se haya pasado al fin de Marx a Popper, tampoco me extraña que Gianfranco La Grassa, basándose en que el comunismo es tan aleatorio como la caída de un meteorito, afirme en su correspondencia con Mangano que “creer en el comunismo es como creer en Dios” y que la creencia en le comunismo es una simple manera de dar sentido a la propia vida, análogo desde este punto de vista a la creencia cristiana.

Los que quieren fundar el comunismo sobre la ciencia científica depurada de la horrible tríada irracionalista filosofía-idealismo-humanismo, sobre la que, al revés, yo fundamento racionalmente mi comunismo, lo reivindico y me enorgullezco, llegan necesariamente a la excomunión de Pascal, es decir, a la fe comunista equiparada a la fe en Dios.

¿Que si me extraña? ¡Ni en sueños! Desde hace varios años yo he llegado a la conclusión calma y prudente (falible y provisional como toda conclusión) que el peor irracionalismo, ese que es incurable (e incurable porque no sabe socráticamente que no sabe) es la arrogancia cientifista, la que se descarga en su odio contra la filosofía, el humanismo y el idealismo, el comunitarismo, el decrecimiento, etc. Al final, su delirio cientifista se les derrite en las manos como un helado al sol y tienen que hablar primero del comunismo aleatorio como la caída de un meteorito y después, de la fe en el comunismo como algo parecido, igual incluso, a la fe en Dios.

Todo esto merece unos breves comentarios.

5. Dicho de manera sintética, el paradigma teórico de GLG puede resumirse así: el análisis del modo de producción capitalista es una ciencia, mientras que el comunismo es una religión.

Este modelo teórico nada tiene que ver con el de Marx. Fíjense bien que yo no he dicho que sea una interpretación discutible de Marx. Interpretaciones de Marx hay por centenas. Por ejemplo, mi interpretación de Marx (la de Costanzo Preve) es una interpretación discutible: Marx es el tercer gran pensador idealista después de Fichte y Hegel; en Marx el materialismo tiene únicamente un status metafórico complementario pero no fundamental: el arte, la religión, la filosofía, no son superestructuras; el Estado tampoco se extinguirá en el comunismo; el humanismo es parte integrante en el pensamiento de Marx; el comunitarismo está en la base del concepto de comunismo, etc. Es el caso de decir: ¡nada más discutible que esto!

Y sin embargo, por muy discutible que sea, mi interpretación está en todo conforme al proyecto de Marx, fundado en el hecho de poner juntos capitalismo y comunismo y en el pensar el comunismo a partir de la contradicción del capitalismo, no como su salida necesaria (por usar el lenguaje positivista erróneo de Marx y Engels, como un “proceso de la historia natural”), sino como su salida ontológica posible (el dynamei on aristotélico, el experimentum mundi de Bloch, la ontología del ser social de Lukacs, etc.).

Si por el contrario se llega al dualismo total, separado, del análisis del modo de producción capitalista como ciencia y del comunismo como religión, entonces estamos completamente fuera de Marx.

Fíjense bien que para mi esta afirmación no comporta en absoluto una condena moralista indignada ni una excomunión de grupúsculos locos y sectarios. Sencillamente, yo constato a dónde hace llegar necesariamente el extendido grito de odio y de desprecio hacia la filosofía, el idealismo y el humanismo.

La confesión de GLG (el comunismo es como la fe en Dios) no me escandaliza, por supuesto. Simplemente me hace gracia verlo escrito negro sobre blanco, porque representa una confirmación clamorosa de lo que yo pienso, desde hace al menos veinte años, de todos los paradigmas antifilosóficos y antihumanistas del comunismo. Los cuerpos caen por gravitación. Los marxismos cientifistas y antifilosóficos caen también por la ley de la gravedad.

6. Después de cincuenta años de estudios serios y originales sobre Marx y el marxismo, nuestro GLG ha llegado a dos conclusiones sobre el comunismo. En primer lugar, el comunismo es una fe religiosa y existencial comparable a la fe en Dios. Hay quien tiene la suerte de tenerla o quien por desgracia (o por fortuna porque estaría “webwrianamente” más desencantado) no la tiene. En segundo lugar, la venida del comunismo en la historia humana es un fenómeno puramente aleatorio, comparable a la caída de un meteorito.

38573338.jpgVeamos cómo el maestro de GLG, Louis Althuser, se representaba el comunismo en una conferencia en Terni (véase Repubblica et Manifesto, 5/4/1980) poco antes de su conocida catástrofe. Delante de una platea de monos pasmados “de izquierda”, el maestro franco-taoísta sostiene por este orden las tesis siguientes (por desgracia me limito a las solas tesis relatadas por los mediocres periodistas allí presentes).

(a) Hay que interpretar quitando todas las partituras

(b) El socialismo histórico construido hasta hoy es una mierda (sic)

(c) Después de esta mierda, sin embargo, gracias a la resistencia obrera constituyente, vendrá el anarquismo social.

(d) En cuanto al comunismo, de momento sólo está vivo en los niños que juegan dichosos y sin vigilancia en el recreo.

(e) El comunismo por otra parte no significa en absoluto “socialización”, porque socializar es una cosa terrible, una “tendencia del capitalismo” y en todo caso lo que hace falta es “desocializar”.

En una entrevista concedida por Lucio Colletti, éste nos informa que cenó con Althuser en un pequeño restaurante vietnamita, que discutieron de marxismo y que Althuser le habría dicho que el marxista que le parecía más prometedor y pertinente era el italiano Antonio Negri, llamado Toni Negri, más tarde internacionalmente famoso por sus dos obras escritas con Michel Hardt, Imperio y Multitud, de las cuales, por pudor, no voy a hablar pero que para mí son de lo peor, en sentido absoluto, de todo lo que se ha publicado en la coyuntura histórica (provisional) del último decenio.

Un breve comentario. La simpatía de Althuser por Negri (considero fiable el testimonio de Colletti) no es casual, pues ambos están de acuerdo en declinar teóricamente el comunismo en términos de anarquismo, es decir, en la extinción del Estado. Y como no pueden “demostrar” esta tesis (precisamente la extinción del Estado), tesis efectivamente indemostrable (y podemos verlo además de en Preve, en Danilo Zolo, en Domenico Losurdo y en muchísimos más), tienen que replegarse en metáforas del todo literarias, como la de los niños que juegan sin vigilancia en el patio, o bien como las imaginarias “multitudes constituyentes”. El mismo Negri, después de la muerte de Althuser, ha confirmado repetidamente su adhesión al supuesto “materialismo aleatorio”, es decir, a la teoría del comunismo pensado como la caída de un meteorito. Se configura así una auténtica escuela veneto-marxista que va desde Padua (Toni Negri) a Conegliano Veneto (Gianfranco La Grassa)

Yo, en cambio, estoy de acuerdo con Althuser en los puntos (a) y (e). En efecto, es necesario hoy interpretar el marxismo sin partituras. Mi difunto amigo Jean Marie Vincent lo dijo de manera muy precisa en un ensayo fundamental sosteniendo (¡sic!) que es necesario “desembarazarse del marxismo” entendido como tradición secular 1890-1990. Y muy bien dicho. Personalmente hace al menos veinte años que intento hacerlo. Además, es perfectamente verdad que sin ‘desocializar’ la socialización capitalista (particularmente la peor de estas socializaciones culturales, la socialización de la supuesta “cultura de izquierda”), no tiene ningún sentido hablar de comunismo. Sin embargo estoy en desacuerdo con los puntos (b), (c) y (d). Concedido que los niños jadeantes jugando al balón son la imagen de la felicidad, pero este tipo de éxtasis (salir de sí mismo, ek-stasis) no debe ser asimilado a la asociación de productores que, para Marx, es el concepto de comunismo. La asociación de productores puede aparecer como algo pedante, molesto y difícil. La felicidad en mi opinión se busca y se encuentra en otra parte. La felicidad es una dimensión privada. Sólo la justicia es una dimensión pública. Un poco de filosofía griega no haría mal.

7. Al que quiera continuar en la ruta de las multitudes constituyentes en medio de un imperio desterritorializado sin ningún Estado nacional, del anarquismo social mágicamente evocado sin la más mínima carga de demostración racional sobre una base histórica, de la fe en el comunismo pensada según el modelo de la fe en Dios, del comunismo pensado sobre el modelo aleatorio como una caída de meteorito, del comunismo estético como felicidad presente de unos niños agitados que juegan al balón en el patio, de las casi insoportables declaraciones de odio contra la filosofía, el idealismo y el humanismo, etc. a ése se le aconseja que interrumpa inmediatamente la lectura. Contra negantes principia, non est disputandum- que decía Hegel [Con los que niegan los principios, no se discuta]. A quien, en cambio, quiera seguir adelante, se le ruega que lea con atención extrema los párrafos que siguen.

8. No es verdad que las cosas sean “complejas”. La supuesta “complejidad” es un mito de la casta universitaria, la misma que ha reducido la filosofía a la “citatología”. La “citatología”es el único parámetro académico para concursos universitarios, desde el momento en que la filosofía ha quedado privada de todo papel fundante en la comprensión de la sociedad y de la historia. Platón, Aristóteles, Spinoza, Kant, Hegel y Marx habrían suspendido inexorablemente en un concurso universitario porque escribieron sin citar a nadie. Las citas a veces pueden ser útiles, pero son como el vinagre balsámico de Módena, una gota basta.

Se dirá que esto sólo valía para las grandes figuras pero que ahora eso ya no vale. Ahora, sin “citatología”, uno es expulsado de la república de los doctos. Idiotez. Lukacs escribe (Pensiero Vissuto, Ed. Rinuniti, Roma 1983, p. 44): “Bloch tuvo una gran influencia en mí. Fue él quien me convenció con su ejemplo que era posible filosofar a la manera tradicional. Hasta ese momento yo había estado sumergido en el neokantismo de mi tiempo, y ahora yo reconozco en Bloch el fenómeno de alguien que filosofa como si la filosofía moderna toda ella no existiera y que es posible filosofar a la manera de Aristóteles y Hegel”. Aquí Lukacs tocó un punto esencial. No se trata de hacerse, de modo megalomaniaco, la ilusión de poder llegar al nivel de Aristóteles o de Hegel. Se trata de filosofar a la manera de Aristóteles y de Hegel sin la estúpida retórica de la complejidad y sin creer que se puede “demostrar” algo de modo erudito y citatológico. No se trata ciertamente de abominar del circo universitario y sus rituales “citatológicos”, sino de comprender que este circo es totalmente irrelevante para la discusión filosófica de los contenidos.

9. Hostil al “citacionismo” inútil y pleonástico, coartada para androides académicos carentes de ideas originales, voy a empezar esta vez con una cita; una cita de una parte de la primera de la tesis sobre Feuerbach escrita por Marx en la primavera de 1845 en Bruselas y que Engels recoge en una publicación póstuma de 1888. Dice así:

“El defecto principal todos los materialismos hasta aquí (incluido el de Feuerbach), es que el objeto (Gegenstand), la realidad efectiva, la sensibilidad no es concebida más que bajo la forma del objeto (Objekt) o de la intuición; pero no como actividad sensiblemente humana, como práctica, no subjetivamente”.

Omito el resto, secundario y no esencial. Mi difunto amigo Georges Labica, maestro querido y amigo fraternal, dedicó un comentario analítico a las tesis sobre Feuerbach que valdría la pena retomar, lo que yo no puedo hacer aquí por razones de espacio. Si se hiciera, aparecería la interpretación conocida del marxismo como “filosofía de la praxis” inaugurada en Italia por el libro de Giovanni Gentile de 1899 sobre la Filosofía de Marx (libro que en su día Lenin pudo apreciar en su versión francesa, al punto de aconsejar a su hermana que lo tradujera al ruso), cuyo modelo fue retomado sustancialmente por Gramsci en sus Cuadernos de la cárcel, muy bien comentados en francés por André Tosel. Aun así, voy a hacer mi interpretación teorética y no “citatológica”.

10. Antes de nada es necesario un acto brechtiano de distanciamiento. La primera tesis sobre Feuerbach de Marx se basa en dos curiosos equívocos de Marx. No hay necesidad alguna de pensar que Marx es el hijo de Dios y que nunca se equivoca. Marx cometió algunos errores como, por ejemplo, en la interpretación de Hegel y, sólo muy recientemente, con la caída de la Santa Inquisición del comunismo estatal y partisano, se ha empezado a permitir decirlo con precaución (véase Roberto Fineshi, Marx et Hegel, Carrocci, Roma, 2006).

Es evidente que aquí Marx busca fundamentar una filosofía de la praxis que explicitará en la undécima, y última, tesis sobre Feuerbach, a saber: “Los filósofos sólo han interpretado el mundo de diferentes maneras, se trata de transformarlo”. Es interesante saber que Engels en 1888 nos haya interpolado, inventándoselo, un “aber” inexistente en el texto original, por lo que la frase suena así: “Los filósofos hasta ahora han interpretado el mundo de diferentes maneras. Se trata al contrario de transformarla”. Engels metió su ingenuo “aber” ( “al contrario” ) con toda la buena fe. Pero durante un siglo los idiotas incurables travestidos de “auténticos marxistas” han puesto por delante la demencial concepción activista que opone la interpretación a la transformación, como si se pudiese transformar algo sin previamente haberlo interpretado correctamente. Se trata de una demagogia llamada “dromomanía” [incontrolable urgencia de moverse], típica de los que nunca pueden quedarse quietos en su sito y se agitan sin cesar. Una gran parte de la historia del marxismo es una historia de dromomanía histérica. Pero pasemos al análisis de la primera tesis sobre Feuerbach.

Para ello hay que decir que hay que resaltar lo primero dos verdaderos errores.

En primer lugar, no es en absoluto verdad que el materialismo de Feuerbach tenga que ser inscrito dentro de los materialismos contemplativos, que consideran la realidad en términos abstractos de objeto (Object), y no de obstáculo que se pone delante de nuestra praxis (Gegenstand). No es en absoluto verdad que Feuerbach no conciba la realidad como actividad humana, sensible y como praxis subjetiva. Es exactamente lo contrario. Feuerbach concibe la praxis humana como vector humanista fundamental de desalienación del hombre, el único medio de volver a poner en su sitio a la teología que no es otra cosa más que la antropología instalada en la cabeza. La falta de generosidad de Marx para con Feuerbach es clamorosa, aunque comprensible en un hombre que aún no tiene treinta años y que tiene que efectuar el freudiano asesinato del padre (incluso de dos padres, Hegel y Feuerbach). En segundo lugar ( y en este punto nos encontramos en la cima del teatro filosófico del absurdo), Marx observa que “el aspecto activo fue desarrollado de manera abstracta por el idealismo, que naturalmente no conoce la actividad real, sensible como tal.”

Que el idealismo inaugurado en 1794 por Fichte (Véase La doctrina de la ciencia) trate de modo abstracto el lado activo, y naturalmente no conozca la actividad real efectiva, sensible como tal, es una pura invención polémica del joven Marx. El ‘Yo’ de Fichte es una metáfora filosófica unificada bajo la forma de un concepto unitario transcendental-reflexivo de la humanidad entera, pensada como vector dinámico transformador del ‘No-Yo’, es decir, de los continuos obstáculos con que la humanidad se encuentra como el obstáculo a su incesante actividad de perfeccionamiento, que es exactamente lo que Marx considera necesario para pasar de la interpretación del mundo a su transformación. De ello se deriva una simpática paradoja según la cual el materialismo que Marx buscaba ya existía desde hacía medio siglo (1794-1844) y exactamente era el idealismo de Fichte.

11. Bertol Brecht, en Diálogo de refugiados, dice que quien no tiene sentido del humor no debería ocuparse de filosofía. Brecht interpreta efectivamente la dialéctica hegeliana como la manifestación filosófica del sentido del humor, en la forma de la identidad de los opuestos y de la continua transformación de un opuesto en el otro y viceversa. En lo esencial Brecht tiene razón. Y en ese punto álgido de la historia del teatro del absurdo está el que Marx crea haber descubierto en 1845 algo que ya estaba descubierto ampliamente por Fichte en 1794, y llame “materialismo” nada menos que al modelo clásico del idealismo, creyendo evidentemente que el materialismo consiste en el hecho de no creer en Dios o en la primacía de la infraestructura sobre la superestructura. De esta manera, bajo el nombre de “materialismo”, utilizado en su sentido puramente metafórico, simplemente se interpolan el ateísmo y el estructuralismo bajo otro nombre.

Pero la cosa no para aquí, la cosa no ha hecho más que empezar.

12. Simplificando de una manera brutal, pero al mismo tiempo de ninguna manera disculpándome de esta simplificación, incluso reivindicándola con el legítimo orgullo del innovador, yo pienso que la lógica histórica del marxismo (la historia lógica y no la historia efectiva) puede resumirse de modo dialéctico en tres momentos. Al decir “dialéctica”, entiendo la única dialéctica moderna que existe, la dialéctica triádica de Hegel, porque no existe otra. Por decirlo brevemente, la supuesta “dialéctica negativa” de Adorno en mi opinión no es una verdadera dialéctica, simplemente una “furia de la disipación”, que no se determina nunca sustancialmente ni temporalmente y por tanto, si no se determina nunca ni espacialmente ni temporalmente, no es una verdadera dialéctica, porque la dialéctica debe siempre determinarse en un finito espacio-temporal, que, al ser una determinación finita, debe como toda determinación, remitir a otra cosa distinta de sí, y es por esto por lo que la dialéctica es propiamente dialéctica (véase Fernando Vidoni, Dialettiche nel pensiero contemporaneo, Canova, Trevisa, 1996).

Hubo una dialéctica antigua (Platón). Pero la dialéctica moderna, construida sobre la base histórica y no geométrico-pitagórica, por Hegel, es triádica, como lo es por otra parte la Trinidad cristiana, que filosóficamente representa el fin del pensamiento antiguo y el nacimiento del pensamiento “moderno” en un sentido evidentemente figurado y metafórico.

Por decirlo brevemente, se puede interpretar la dialéctica triádica de Hegel de la manera que se quiera, como tesis-antítesis-síntesis, o como momento abstracto-dialéctico-especulativo, o incluso como lógica del ser-de la esencia-del concepto. Haced lo que queráis con tal de que comprendáis la lógica dialéctica de esta exposición dialéctica de la historia lógico-trascendental del pensamiento de Marx.

13. Afirmé en el párrafo precedente que la única dialéctica moderna es triádica, y sólo triádica, entendida como la secularización racional idealista de la Trinidad cristiana que la precede, lo que supone la comprensión, difícil pero necesaria de que, a diferencia de los judíos y de los musulmanes que creen en Dios, los cristianos realmente no creen en Dios (como lo repiten en coro los tontos y los desinformados) sino en la Trinidad, que es algo muy diferente. De aquí depende el reconocimiento del carácter cognitivo de la religión en la forma de la representación (Vorstellung), negada por todos los confusionistas, positivistas, empiristas, laicista, ateos de todo pelo. Pero dejemos esto de lado, o como dice el patriota insurgente condenado a ser fusilado, ‘tirem innaz’ [en napolitano: ‘continuemos’]. Fiel al método triádico, expondré la lógica histórica del proyecto de Marx en tres momentos: A, B y C

(A) En un primer momento, el pensamiento de Marx se manifiesta en forma de una filosofía de la praxis, o más exactamente en la forma de una filosofía de la unidad de la teoría y de la práctica, es decir, de un idealismo de tipo fichteano que se cree materialista. Se trata del joven Marx de 1841 a 1848 más o menos. En el siglo XX, esta filosofía de la praxis integral es relativamente rara y se encuentra casi sólo en el italiano Antonio Gramsci y en el alemán Karl Korsch (dejo de lado las diferencias significativas entre ambos). En mi opinión Georges Labica puede ser definido como un representante , a finales del siglo XX, de esta línea de pensamiento lo que explica su valoración por parte de Antonio Labriola (según sostiene André Tosel en su emotiva necrología).

(B) Y sin embargo, muy pronto esta versión de la filosofía de la praxis es investida por el positivismo y su influencia preponderante. A partir de los años 50 del siglo XIX, el objeto que primero era un Gegenstand, viene a ser a todos los efectos un Objekt, en concreto el modo de producción capitalista entendido como objeto de conocimiento “neutro”, es decir, objeto de la ciencia positivista, incluso barnizado en apariencia de una “dialéctica” inofensiva. La ciencia positivista, como es sabido, está enteramente sacada del modelo de las ciencias naturales y esto explica la dominación del concepto de “ley científica” totalmente incompatible con una filosofía de la praxis. El primer representante de esta tendencia es el segundo Marx (1850-1883), seguido de Engels, pasando por el materialismo dialéctico y por el marxismo dicho “oficial” (aunque compartido filosóficamente por todos los heréticos, desde Rosa Luxemburgo a Amadeo Bordiga y León Trotsky)), para acabar en los fanáticos de la ciencia sin bases filosóficas (Galvano Della Volpe, Luis Althuser, Gianfranco La Grassa). Es justo esta tendencia la que hoy parece entrar en una crisis teórica profunda (apología de lo aleatorio, poder constituyente de la multitud, comunismo como felicidad de niños, como caída de un meteorito o como creencia en Dios, etc.). Sin embargo, y yo me siento moderadamente pesimista, su poder de inercia tiene varias decenas de años por delante.

(C) La síntesis de la filosofía subjetivista de la praxis y de la filosofía objetivista de la (presunta e inexistente) ciencia, es en mi opinión una ontología del ser social, cuya formulación por parte de Lukacs no debe ser entendida como definitiva sino como inicial y provisional. Sin embargo es un primer punto de partida. Es totalmente normal que hoy esté olvidada, en una época de arrepentimientos, de destitución moralista del siglo XX entendido como siglo de las utopías totalitarias y de las ideologías asesinas, de apología del fragmento, del postmodernismo, del relativismo y del nihilismo fiable y tranquilizante.

La ontología del ser social, tal y como nos la ha transmitido el último Lukacs, es insuficiente. Pero es un primer paso digno de ser elaborado y perfeccionado . En cualquier caso, solamente por esta vía pueden superarse (en el sentido de la Aufhebung, la superación-conservación de Hegel), el momento de la praxis y el momento de la infundada ilusión positivista del marxismo como ciencia.

La ilusión positivista de la transformación del marxismo en ciencia positivo-predictiva, sobre una base determinista y necesarista, justamente porque es infundada e ilusoria, debe a la larga transformarse ella misma dialécticamente en su contrario, es decir, en una apología de lo aleatorio, de la separación entre concepto científico del capitalismo y como fe y esperanza en la existencia de Dios.

Ocupémonos un momento de ello.

14. La conclusión del primer período del pensamiento marxiano como idealismo de la unidad teoría-praxis con primacía de la praxis sobre la teoría, un idealismo que se creía subjetivamente un materialismo (y que me recuerda un libro para niños de una gaviota que se creía un gato), puede situarse en el bienio 1848-1849 y en el fin del ciclo revolucionario en Europa. Esto no tiene nada que ver con un “cambio en el programa de investigación de Marx”, por usar la jerga epistemológica de los profesores de universidad. Se trata de un paso obligado. La revolución “práctica” se alejaba, el Gegenstand se hacía más “duro” de lo que se había pensado anteriormente, y el momento era llegado de empezar a pensar el capitalismo como Object y ya no como Gegenstand.

Llegaba el momento de la elaboración de ese objeto de pensamiento llamado “modo de producción capitalista” que la escuela de Althuser y de La Grassa puso enseguida en el centro de la consideración “científica” del presente histórico. Las tesis teóricas contra el humanismo y contra la categoría de alienación no eran en absoluto necesarias para enfatizar la importancia central de la categoría de modo de producción y se explican únicamente en el interior de la coyuntura ideológica francesa del período 1956-1968 y de la lucha sectaria de Althuser contra Garaudy, Sève y Sartre. El hecho de que Gianfranco La Grassa haya prolongado este escenario conflictivo durante casi medio siglo es solamente un fenómeno de sectarismo veneto-trevisiano. No hubiera hecho falta. Tranquilamente se puede subrayar la centralidad de la categoría modo de producción sin gritos de odio continuos y reiterados contra la filosofía y el humanismo. Pero esto nos aconseja abrir un paréntesis.

15 ¿El marxismo es un humanismo? He aquí una pregunta inútil y sin sentido. Sin embargo si queremos darle una respuesta, debe ser elemental, sólo requiere saber contar hasta dos. Desde el punto de vista del modelo epistemológico de explicación de los hechos sociales y su recíproca relación, el marxismo no es un humanismo sino un estructuralismo. Su fundamento teórico no está en el concepto filosófico de Hombre (con mayúscula) sino en el concepto de modo de producción social que, por su parte, existe sólo en la conexión dialéctica de tres componentes interconectados (desarrollo de las fuerzas productivas sociales, relaciones sociales de producción, formaciones ideológicas de legitimización del poder y/o estrategia de oposición a éste). Es de una evidencia absoluta.

Inversamente, desde el punto de vista de la fundamentación filosófica de la legitimidad de la critica del capitalismo, el marxismo es un humanismo integral, porque el Hombre (metáfora de toda la humanidad pensada como un solo concepto unitario de tipo trascendental-reflexivo) es el único Sujeto capaz de proyectar de manera colectiva y comunitaria la superación del modo de producción capitalista o de cualquier otro modo de producción clasista. Ningún otro “sujeto” puede ser capaz de ello ( sea providencia divina, el desarrollo tecnológico, automatismo de la economía, derrumbes o crisis cíclicas de la producción, etc.)

El problema tiene pues una solución muy fácil. No ciertamente para los rabiosos aborrecedores de la filosofía como saber fundacional, que aceptan la filosofía de mala gana, sólo como clarificación epistemológica y gnoseológica de la ciencia de la naturaleza concebida como única ideación cognitiva legítima en el mundo. Sin embargo, así se enlaza la cadena destructiva y autodestructiva del materialismo dialéctico (Stalin), del galileismo moral (Della Volpe), de la teoría de los conjuntos teóricos (Althuser) y de todas las otras numerosas variantes de la ilusión utópica de la fundación científica de la deducción del comunismo directamente de las “leyes naturales” de las tendencias de la producción capitalista, totalmente des-sujetivizada y objetivizada.

Al final de este viaje utópico-científico se encuentra los bambinos comunistas que juegan sin aliento y dichosos, los meteoritos aleatorios que caen sobre la tierra, la creencia en Dios y otras curiosidades parecidas.

16. Hay una paradoja en la historia del marxismo que es necesario manejar racionalmente. Si se hace así, entonces se abren vías para una solución nueva del problema de la comprensión de las razones del anticapitalismo . El anticapitalismo, en efecto, es muy a menudo una actitud legítima y racional sostenida y defendida sobre la base de auténticas tonterías extremistas que alejan a las personas normales y atraen solamente a tontos, fanáticos o iluminados. Todos los marxistas que por su acción han desmentido el inútil modelo científico del paso automático interno del capitalismo al comunismo, desde Lenin en 1917, a Stalin en 1929, a Mao Tse Tung en 1949, a Fidel Castro en 1959, etc., han sistemáticamente mantenido en sus aparatos partidistas, ideológicos, escolares y universitarios la tontería positivista de la evolución fatal del capitalismo al comunismo en base a la “necesidad del proceso de la historia natural” ¿Por qué?

Es difícil explicar el porqué de las tonterías. Pero la analogía con las religiones nos puede ayudar. La religión, fruto legítimo del pensamiento humano (totalmente independiente del hecho de que un individuo particular crea o no) que no se apagará sino mediante la vulgarización de la astrofísica o del darvinismo y que es un bien que no se extingue, cumple las funciones estructurales para la reproducción social, como respuesta a la cuestión del sentido de la vida individual de las personas particularmente sensibles y más aun como la “estabilización” metafísica de la ética comunitaria de solidaridad y del apoyo mutuo. Y sin embargo, esta función racional debe estar necesariamente sustentada en hechos tan increíbles como la Sangre de san Genaro, los pastorcitos de Lourdes o de Fátima que ven a la señora que les habla en gascón o portugués, etc. En teoría podíamos retener solamente el elemento racional de la solidaridad comunitaria sin tener que aceptar necesariamente milagros totalmente increíbles. Pero en la práctica, no es así. El que quiera el elemento racional debe asumir también el elemento milagroso.

Algo parecido ocurre con el comunismo. En teoría no habría necesidad alguna del elemento de la religión positivista, es decir, el estúpido cientifismo que pretende derivar el “fracaso” del capitalismo del automovimiento interno de la economía fetichizada. Hay razones más que abundantes para oponerse al capitalismo. Evidentemente hay un porcentaje de cretinos que tiene que poder creer que el socialismo se fundamenta sobre una “ciencia”. Luego los teóricos positivistas se pelearán –como lo hacen regularmente todos los teólogos– para saber si este modelo de ciencia debe ser galileano, newtoniano, positivista puro, obtenido de la crisis de las ciencias de principios de siglo XX, webberiano, etc.

17. Mientras que el viejo Karl Marx (1818-1883) nunca puso en coherencia ni sistematizó su modelo teórico (de ahí la legitimidad de todas la interpretaciones sucesivas), el código marxista sistematizado en doctrina coherente fue puesto en pie conjuntamente por Engels y Kautsky durante los dos decenios 1875-1895.

Estos dos decenios corresponden exactamente a la gran Depresión (1873-1896) en Europa. Se trata de uno de los períodos más contra-revolucionarios de toda la historia europea. Colonialismo, imperialismo, racismo, antisemitismo, etc. El marxismo es hijo de la contra-revolución que siguió a la carnicería de la Comuna de París (1871).

Esto explica por qué, en presencia de una contra-revolución en acto, el código marxista se haya refugiado por compensación en un modelo positivista de revolución en potencia. Aquí nos haría falta Freud, pero el viejo Sigmund apenas es evocado por esos marxistas que temen que su mirada profundice en sus neurosis y en sus psicosis. El único pensador anticapitalista del período 1889-1914, que supo refutar radicalmente el código positivista, fue Georges Sorel, el único y verdadero defensor de la filosofía de la praxis de Marx y, por cierto, no es una casualidad que haya sido marginado y echado fuera del movimiento obrero organizado. Pero Sorel no era un “irracionalista”. Sencillamente su concepto de ciencia, del que en modo alguno carecía (era ingeniero jubilado, perfectamente al corriente de la ciencia de su tiempo) derivaba de Bergson, también científico de formación, y no del modelo determinista y mecanicista del positivismo universitario alemán. Este “marxismo” (Erich Matthias, Kautsky y el kautskismo, De Donato, Bari, 1971) era solamente el reverso ideológico de una práctica política y sindical oportunista de la social-democracia alemana. El fallo de Sorel en este sentido, es totalmente significativo. El hecho de que Sorel se hubiera metido con la casta infecta de los “intelectuales” más que con los simples trabajadores muestra que había sabido aislar el núcleo de la cuestión. El pescado siempre empieza a pudrirse por la cabeza. En los mismos años Robert Michels llegaba más o menos a las mismas conclusiones.

18. Es pues necesario cambiar absolutamente de ruta. La tentación cientifista es una ilusión. Quien la sigue, aunque vaya de buena fe y con sincera convicción, terminará en el dualismo insoluble entre la ciencia del modo de producción capitalista y la religión del comunismo, con todos sus derivados (Niños felices que juegan al balón, anarquismo social de las multitudes, caída de meteoritos, fe en Dios y búsqueda del sentido de la vida, etc.) Evidentemente que es necesario relegitimar la vieja definición del comunismo de Marx en términos de libre asociación de los productores, en la que la “producción” no es solamente textil, metalúrgica o nuclear, sin también “producción” de investigación científica, de arte, de religión, de filosofía. La palabra “producción” es la mejor porque sin producción de bienes y servicios, la especie humana no podría ni “reproducirse”. Pero la libre asociación de productores es posible solamente en el interior de una comunidad de productores y, en mi opinión, la comunidad de productores presupone el mantenimiento sea de la familia, sea del estado nacional con todas las garantías posibles para las minorías. Se abriría aquí una serie de problemas que no podemos discutirse en este lugar. En su época, Franco Fortín utilizó la metáfora de la apertura de la “cadena de los porqués”. Y en efecto, si se abre la cadena de los porqués, no hay quien la mande parar y proseguirá mientras no se haya llegado al último eslabón de la misma cadena. Y el último eslabón es siempre provisional en el espacio y en el tiempo, y corresponde exactamente a los que Hegel llamaba “determinación” (Bestimmung).

La herencia de Marx está más allá de la oposición abstracta entre idealismo y materialismo. La herencia de Marx es humanista. La herencia de Marx es filosófica. La herencia de Marx es comunitaria, comprendida también la comunidad nacional. Quien quiera seguir el camino del meteorito puede hacerlo. Pero sin nosotros.

Notas:

K. Marx, Capital, I,I,IV. Traduction de J. Roy – in Oeuvres I, la Pléiade, p. 613 Pensée vécue, mémoire parlée , L’Arche, 1986 Texto alemán: „Der Hauptmangel alles bisherigen Materialismus (den Feuerbachschen mit eingerechnet) ist, dass der Gegenstand, die Wirklichkeit, Sinnlichkeit nur unter der Form des Objekts oder der Anschauung gefasst wird; nicht aber als sinnlich menschliche Tätigkeit, Praxis, nicht subjektiv.” Texto alemán: „Die Philosophen haben die Welt nur verschieden interpretiert, es kömmt drauf an, sie zu verändern

[Traducción, J.Mª Fdez. Criado. Equipo Crónica CR]

Fuente: Rebelión

 

samedi, 23 novembre 2013

Occult Roots of the Russian Revolution

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Occult Roots of the Russian Revolution

Ex: http://www.gnostics.com

Dearest friend, do you not see
All that we perceive –
Only reflects and shadows forth
What our eyes cannot see.
Dearest friend, do you not hear
In the clamour of everyday life –
Only the unstrung echoing fall of
Jubilant harmonies.
– Vladimir Soloviev, 1892

The Great Russian Revolution of 1917, launched by Vladimir Lenin and his Bolshevic party, profoundly influenced the history of the twentieth century. The fall of the Russian Empire and its replacement by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics ushered in а new аgе in world politics. More than this, the Russian Revolution was the triumph of а dynamic revolutionary ideology that directly challenged Western capitalism. But what of the hidden origins of this Revolution? Did secret influences contribute to the victory of Lenin and the Bolshevics?

Innumerable books, not to forget massive scholarly studies, are devoted to examining the Russian Revolution and the rise of Soviet Communism. All this impressive research is almost exclusively devoted to the obvious political, economic and social dimensions, i.e. the surface manifestations of history. However, within or behind this mundane history lies another reality that is more interesting and more important than the everyday analysis offered by mainstream historians and writers.

Establishment historians pay little attention to the remarkable impact occult and Gnostic ideas had on the rise of Bolshevism and the victory of the Russian Revolution.

A number of social and political movements, including Marxism and Lenin’s Bolshevism, have been linked to Gnosticism, which flourished in the early centuries of the Christian era. The political scientists A. Besancon and L. Pellicani argue the intellectual roots of Russian Bolshevism are a structural repetition of the ancient Gnostic paradigm. A distinguishing feature of Gnosticism is an illusive, symbolic interpretation of reality, including history.

For the early Christian Gnostics the Absolute – termed the ‘Unknown Father’– has nothing in common with the wrathful ‘God’ worshipped by theist religion. In fact, for these Gnostics, the ‘God’ of the Old Testament is the adversary of their ‘Unknown Father’, the true God. Our world, including all human institutions, is not the work of the true God, but of a false creator, the Demiurge, who keeps us captive in the world, away from the divine light and truth.

Therefore, in Gnosticism, the world is merely a sort of illusion, a set of allegorical symbols, a reverse image of the real essence of history. Man, who is asleep to his inner potential, must awake and become an active partner of the ‘Unknown Father’ in the transformation of all life. Otherwise he remains a prisoner in what the eminent Russian Gnostic philosopher Vladimir Solviev (1853-1900) aptly described as “a kind of nightmare of sleeping humanity.” A number of Gnostic communities – like nineteenth century communists – held contempt for material goods and lived communally, teaching “the world and its laws, religious, moral and social, are of little relevance to the plan of salvation.”1

Gnostics, Mystic Sects & Radicals

Russian mystical sects played an extremely important part in the Bolshevik revolution, on the side of the Bolsheviks. In spite of their rejection of the state and the church, these sects were deeply nationalistic, since their members were hostile to foreign innovations. They hated the West.
— Mikhail Agursky, The Third Rome

Throughout nineteenth century Europe we find numerous connections between Gnostics, mystics, occultists and radical socialists. They constituted what the historian James Webb calls “a progressive underground” united by a common opposition to the established order of their day. Constantly, Webb writes, “we find socialists and occultists running in harness.”2 Sundry spiritual communities emerged across the United States, with clear Gnostic and occult doctrines, which attempted to follow a pure communistic life style. Victoria Woodhull, the president of the American Association of Spiritualists during the 1870s, was a radical socialist. Woodhull believed that Spiritualism signified not only religious enlightenment, but also a cultural, political and social revolution. She published the first English translation of the Communist Manifesto and tried in vain to persuade Karl Marx that the goals of Spiritualism and Communism were the same.

Dissident Christian mystics, spiritualists, occultists and radical socialists often found themselves together at the forefront of political movements for social justice, worker’s rights, free love and the emancipation of women. Nineteenth century occultists and socialists even used the same language in calling for a new age of universal brotherhood, justice and peace. They all shared a charismatic vision of what the future could be – a radical alternative to the oppressive old political, social, economic and religious power structures. And more often than not they found themselves facing the same common enemy in the unholy alliance of State and Church.

The birth of radical socialist ideas in Russia cannot be easily separated from the spiritual communism practiced by diverse Russian sects. For centuries folk myths nourished a widespread belief in the possibility of an earthly communist paradise united by fraternal love, where justice, truth and equality prevailed. One prominent Russian legend told of the lost land of Belovode (the Kingdom of the White Waters), said to be “across the water” and inhabited by Russian Old Believer mystics. In Belovode, spiritual life reigned supreme, and all went barefoot sharing the fruits of the land and their labour. There were no oppressive rules, crime, and war. Another Russian legend concerned Kitezh, the radiant city beneath the lake. Kitezh will only rise from the waters and appear again when Russia returns to the true Christ and is once more worthy to see it and its priceless treasures. Early in the twentieth century such myths captured the popular imagination and were associated with the hopes of revolution.

In the latter half of the seventeenth century, a schism occurred within the Russian Orthodox Church of a new religious movement called the Old Believers. The result was that many Russian spiritual dissidents took courage from the split to found their own communities, giving vent to Gnostic ideas that had long been simmering underground. The Old Believers, in the face of severe repression, clung tenaciously to their ancient mystic tradition and expressed their separation from the official world of Imperial Orthodox Russia in collective migration to the fringes of the state, mass suicide by fire, rebellion, and a monastic communism.

Gnostic communities, with their communalism and disdain for private property, proliferated throughout Russia in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Known by a variety of names such as Common Hope, United Brotherhood, Love of Brotherhood, Righthanded Brotherhood, White Doves, Believers in Christ, Friends of God, Wanderers, their followers reportedly numbered in the hundreds of thousands. Ruthlessly persecuted by the authorities, they made up a spiritual underground, often hiding themselves from inquisitive eyes. A countrywide revolutionary sectarianism that rejected the state, the church, society, law, and even religious commandments, which they declared were abolished when the Holy Spirit descended to humanity.

The origin of Gnostic ideas in Russia is difficult to trace, but they appear to be an outgrowth of two powerful spiritual impulses in Russian religious history. The first is the Christian esoteric tradition preserved within the monastic communities of the Russian Orthodox Church. A mystical tradition going back by way of Greek Neoplatonism, Origin and Clement of Alexandria to St. John the “beloved disciple”. “Russian Orthodox mystical theology has bent more than a little in the direction of the Gnostic heresy,” notes the historian Maria Carlson.3 The second impulse originated with Essene and Manichean missionaries who reached Russia in the early centuries of the Christian era. An impulse later given new vitality by the Bogomils whose Gnostic teachings had gained a foothold in Russia by the thirteenth century.

By the end of the nineteenth century occult and Gnostic ideas enjoyed wide circulation among all segments of the Russian population. At one point the Russian philosopher Nicholas Berdyaev (1874-1948) welcomed the Gnostics, urging “Gnosticism should be revived and should enter into our life for all time.”4 After the 1917 Revolution, Gnosticism, observed the Russian scholar Mikhail Agursky, “contributed considerably to Soviet culture and even influenced Soviet political life. Its foundations were laid before the revolution…[by] several gnostic trends in nineteenth century Russian culture.”

While Russian Gnostics rejected the world order and strove to live by the apostolic precept to hold “all things in common,”5 they were also profoundly aware of the approaching end of the age. “Russian popular Gnosticism had a very pronounced apocalyptic character,” says Mikhail Agursky. “Russian mystical sectarians lived in anticipation of a catastrophe. The degradation of human life demanded purifying fire from heaven, which would devour the new Sodom and Gomorrah and replace them with the Kingdom of God. Any revolution could easily be identified by such sectarians as this fire, regardless of its external form.”6

Russian Socialism

Bolshevik collectivism had roots in long-standing Russian values of individual self-sacrifice. The suffering, martyrdom, humility, and sacrifice of Christ was deeply embedded in the texture of Russian religious thought and practice, and the lives of Russian saints were a litany of suffering. The Old Believers, heretics in the eyes of the official church for their adherence to their own version of the truth, suffered persecution for centuries at the hands of the government and sought escape in mass immolation, colonization, and, finally, economic mutual aid.
— Robert C. Williams, The Other Bolsheviks

Alexander_Herzen_7.jpgAlexander Herzen (1812-1870), seen by many as the father of Russian socialism, was a friend and admirer of the French revolutionary Proudhon, who viewed himself as a Christian socialist. Proudhon worked intermittently all his adult life on a never completed study of the original teachings of Jesus Christ. Herzen also paid special attention to Russia’s persecuted religious sectarians. He printed a special supplement for the Old Believers, the mystic Christian traditionalists who had been driven out of the Russian Orthodox Church. Nicholas Chernyshevsky, another Russian socialist thinker of the nineteenth century, wrote an article in praise of the “fools for Christ’s sake” and defended members of the spiritual underground.

The Russian radicals of the 1800s, in the words of James H. Billington, looked upon “socialism as an outgrowth of suppressed traditions within heretical Christianity.”7 They saw the genesis of Russian socialism in the spiritual underground of the Gnostics and religious sectarians. One influential network of Russian socialists openly claimed to be rediscovering “the teaching of Christ in its original purity,” which “had as its basic doctrine charity and its aim the realisation of freedom and the destruction of private property.”8

ho.jpgNicholas Chernyshevsky (1828-1889), who spent much of his life in penal servitude, penned the utopian novel What Is To Be Done? as a vision of the future new society and a guidebook for the revolutionaries who would build it. Chernyshevsky wrote:

Then say to all: this is what will come to pass in the future, a radiant and beautiful future. Have love for it, strive toward it, work on behalf of it, bring it ever nearer, bear what you can from it into your present life. The more you can carry from that future into your present life, the more your life will be radiant and good, the richer it will be in happiness and pleasure.

Chernyshevsky’s novel inspired two generations of idealistic young radicals. Among them was Alexandre Ulianov, the beloved elder brother of V.I. Lenin. He was executed in 1887 for his part in the attempted assassination of Tsar Alexander III. Vladimir Lenin told how Chernyshevsky’s What Is To Be Done? “captivated my brother, and captivated me… It transformed me completely.” What impressed the future leader of the Russian Revolution was how Chernyshevsky:

not only demonstrated the necessity for every correctly thinking and really honest man to become a revolutionary, but also showed – even more importantly – what a revolutionary should be like, what his principles should be, how he must achieve his goals, what methods and means he should employ to realise them.9

Nicholas Berdyaev observed that the “Russian revolutionaries who were to be inspired by the ideas of Chernyshevsky present an interesting psychological problem. The best of Russian revolutionaries acquiesced during this earthly life in persecution, want, imprisonment, exile, penal servitude, execution, and they had no hope whatever of another life beyond this. The comparison with Christians of that time is almost disadvantageous to the latter; they highly cherished the blessings of this earthly life and counted upon the blessings of heavenly life.”10

Chernyshevsky, like those who followed him, was passionately committed to the power of reason. His philosophy firmly grounded in the materialist outlook and a sober utilitarianism. But in his life Chernyshevsky was the embodiment of self-abnegation, single-mindedness and asceticism. Like a true saint he asked nothing for himself, but wanted everything for the people as a whole. When the police officers took him into exile in Siberia they said, “Our orders were to bring a criminal and we are bringing a saint. “These two elements, the religious and the secular, the ascetic and the calculating,” writes historian Geoffrey Hosking, “remained in unresolved tension in his personality, but on the level of theory he sought a resolution in the idea of a social revolution to be promoted by the best people on the basis of personal example.”11

Inspired by Chernyshevsky, groups of young radicals emerged committed to the reconstruction of Russia as a federation of village communes and communally run factories. The reading list of one such revolutionary cell is revealing because it included the New Testament and histories of Russian Gnostic communities. The leader of the main radical circle in the Russian capital St. Petersburg spoke of founding “a religion of humanity.” He called his circle “an Order of Knights” and included in its ranks members of a Gnostic “God-manhood sect” which taught that each individual is potentially destined to become a god. It was not uncommon for the revolutionary call “liberty, equality, and fraternity” to be written on crosses, or for Russian revolutionaries to declare their belief in “Christ, St. Paul, and Chernyshevsky.”

The Russian socialists frequently visited religious sectarians and sought their support because of their history of alienation from the tsarist regime. Emil Dillon, an English journalist who had personal contact with several persecuted religious communities, reminds us:

Among the various revolutionary agencies which were at work… the most unpretending, indirect, and effective were certain religious sectarians…. Coercion in religious matters did more to spread political disaffection than the most enterprising revolutionary propagandists. It turned the best spirits of the nation against the tripartite system of God, Tsar, and fatherland, and convinced even average people not only that there was no lifegiving principle in the State, but that no faculty of the individual or the nation had room left for unimpeded growth.12

 V.I. Lenin & The Spiritual Underground

Men who are participating in a great social movement always picture their coming action as a battle in which their cause is certain to triumph. These constructions… I propose to call myths; the syndicalist “general strike” and Marx’s catastrophic revolution are such myths.
— Georges Sorel, 1906

Religious sectarians played a significant part in the formation of Bolshevism, V.I. Lenin’s unique brand of revolutionary Marxism. Indeed, Marxism with its aggressive commitment to atheism and scientific materialism, scorned all religion as “the opium of the people.” Yet this did not prevent some Bolshevic leaders from utilising concepts taken directly from occultism and radical Gnosticism. Nor did the obvious materialist outlook of Communism, as Bolshevism became known, stop Russia’s spiritual underground from giving valuable patronage to Lenin’s revolutionary cause.

One of Vladimir Lenin’s early supporters was the radical Russian journalist V. A. Posse, who edited a Marxist journal Zhizn’ (Life) from Geneva. Zhizn’ aimed to enlist the support of Russia’s burgeoning dissident religious communities in the fight to overthrow the tsarist autocracy. Posse’s publishing enterprise received the backing of V.D. Bonch-Bruevich, a Marxist revolutionary and importantly a specialist on Russian Gnostic sects. Through Bonch-Bruevich’s connections to the spiritual underground of Old Believers and Gnostics, Posse secured important financial help for Zhizn’.

The goal of Zhizn’ was to reach a broad peasant and proletarian audience of readers that would some day constitute a popular front against the hated Russian government. Lenin soon began contributing articles to Zhizn’. To Posse, Lenin appeared like some kind of mystic sectarian, a Gnostic radical, whose asceticism was exceeded only by his self-confidence. Both Bonch-Bruevich and Posse were impressed by Lenin’s zeal to build an effective revolutionary party. Lenin disdained religion and showed little interest in the ‘religious’ orientation of Zhizn’. The Russian Marxist thinker Plekhanov, one of Lenin’s early mentors, openly expressed his hostility to the journal’s ‘religious’ bent. He wrote to Lenin complaining that Zhizn’, “on almost every page talks about Christ and religion. In public I shall call it an organ of Christian socialism.”

The Zhizn’ publishing enterprise came to an end in 1902 and its operations were effectively transferred into Lenin’s hands. This led to the organisation in 1903-1904 of the very first Bolshevic publishing house by Bonch-Bruevich and Lenin. Both men viewed the Russian sectarians as valuable revolutionary allies. As one scholar notes, “Russian religious dissent appealed to Bolshevism even before that movement had acquired a name.”13

5325987-a-stamp-printed-in-the-ussr-show-mikhail-bonch-bruevich-soviet-radio-engineerings-the-founder-of-the.jpgV.D. Bonch-Bruevich (1873-1955) came to revolutionary Marxism under the influence of the Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy’s social teachings. Like Lenin’s wife Krupskaya, he started his revolutionary career distributing Tolstoy’s The Kingdom of God Is within You, a work infused with neo-Gnostic themes. In 1899 Bonch-Bruevich left Russia for Canada to live among the Doukhobors, Russian Gnostic communists whose refusal to pay taxes and serve in the army drove them into exile. Bonch-Bruevich reported on the secret doctrines of the Doukhobors and put in writing their fundamental oral teachings known as the ‘Living Book’. On his return to Europe in 1901 Bonch-Bruevich introduced Lenin to the chief tenets of these Gnostic communists. The Doukhobors, with their radical rejection of the Church and State, with their denial of the uniqueness of the historical Christ, and their neglect of the Bible in favour of their own secret tradition, were of some interest to the founder of Bolshevism.

In 1904 Bonch-Bruevich, with Lenin’s support, began publishing Rassvet (Dawn) in an effort to spread revolutionary Marxism among the religious dissidents. His first editorial attacked all the Russian tsars for their persecution of the Old Believers and sectarians, and stated that the journal’s goal was to report events occurring world wide, “in various corners of our vast motherland, and among the ranks of Sectarians and Schismatics.” Rassvet combined Communist and apocalyptic themes that were both compelling and comprehensible to Russia’s spiritual underground.

By the early years of the twentieth century Russia was in a revolutionary mood. Bonch-Bruevich wrote that this would soon produce a “street battle of the awakened people.” He urged his fellow Communist revolutionaries to use the language of the spiritual underground in persuading the masses that the government was “Satan” and that “all men are brothers” in the eyes of God. He wrote:

If the proletariat-sectarian in his speech requires the word ‘devil’, then identify this old concept of an evil principle with capitalism, and identify the word ‘Christ’, as a concept of eternal good, happiness, and freedom, with socialism.

 Communist God-Builders  & The Occult

If a newcomer to the vast quantity of occult literature begins browsing at random, puzzlement and impatience will soon be his lot; for he will find jumbled together the droppings of all cultures, and occasional fragments of philosophy perhaps profound but almost certainly subversive to right living in the society in which he finds himself. The occult is rejected knowledge: that is, an Underground whose basic unity is that of Opposition to an establishment of Powers That Are.
— James Webb, Occult Underground

A Marxist pamphlet written before 1917 and later reissued by the Soviet government bluntly declared that man is destined to “take possession of the universe and extend his species into distant cosmic regions, taking over the whole solar system. Human beings will be immortal.” Anatoly Lunacharsky, the first Commissar of Enlightenment in the new Soviet state, believed that as religious conviction had been a great force of change in history, Marxists should conceive the struggle to transform nature through labor as their form of devotion, and the spirit of collective humanity as their god.

lunacharski_.jpgA.V. Lunacharsky (1875-1933) and the Russian writer Maxim Gorky (1868-1936), close friends of Vladimir Lenin, were acquainted with a broad spectrum of occult thought, including Rudolf Steiner’s Anthroposophy and Helena Blavatsky’s Theosophy. Both these prominent Bolshevic revolutionaries shared a life-long interest in ancient mystery cults, religious sectarianism, parapsychology and Gnosticism. Maria Carlson maintains that Gorky’s “vision of a New Nature and a New World, subsequently assimilated to its socialist expression as the Radiant Future, is fundamentally Theosophic.”14 Gorky valued the writings of the occultists Emanuel Swedenborg and Paracelsus, as well as those of Fabre d’Olivet and Eduard Schure.

Drawing on the imagery of the ancient solar mysteries, Gorky declared in Children of the Sun, “we people are the children of the sun, the bright source of life; we are born of the sun and will vanquish the murky fear of death.” In his Confession, the “people” have become God, creators of miracles, possessors of true religious consciousness, and immortal. Gorky envisioned a beautiful future of work for the love of work and of man as “master of all things.” Revealing his familiarity with parapsychology and faith healing, Gorky tells how an assembled crowd uses its collective energy to heal a paralysed girl. He was deeply impressed by research into thought transference, often writing of the “miraculous power of thought”, while expressing the hope that one day reason and science would end fear.

The ideas advanced by Lunacharsky and Gorky became known as God building, described by one researcher as a “movement of secular rejuvenation with mystery cult aspects.”15 God building implied that a human collective, through the concentration of released human energy, can perform the same miracles that were assigned to supra-natural beings. God builders regarded early Christianity as an authentic example of collective God building, Christ being nothing other than the focus of collective human energy. “The time will come,” said Gorky, “when all popular will shall once again amalgamate in one point. Then an invincible and miraculous power will emerge, and God will be resurrected.”16 Years before, Fyodor Dostoyevsky had written in The Possessed, “God is the synthetic personality of the whole people.” According to Mikhail Agursky:

For Gorky, God-building was first of all a theurgical action, the creation of the new Nature and the annihilation of the old, and therefore it coincided fully with the Kingdom of the Spirit. He considered God to be a theurgical outcome of a collective work, the outcome of human unity and of the negation of the human ego.17

Before the Russian Revolution, Lunacharsky’s political propaganda relied heavily on words and images ultimately derived from Russian Gnostics and religious sectarians. In one pamphlet he urged readers to refuse to pay taxes or serve in the army, to form local revolutionary committees, to demand ownership of their land, overthrow the autocracy and replace it with a “brotherly society” of socialism. Indeed, there was as much attention given to Christ as to Marx in Lunacharsky’s writings. “Christianity, in all its forms, even the purest and most progressive,” he wrote, “is the ideology of the downtrodden classes, the hopelessly immobile, those who cannot believe in their own powers; Christianity is also a weapon of exploitation.” But Lunacharsky realised there is also an underground spiritual tradition, the arcane language and symbols of which might be used to mobilise the people to carry out the revolution.

Occult elements are obvious in Lunacharsky’s early plays and poems, including a reference to the “astral spirit”, and a familiarity with white magic and demonology. He discussed Gnosticism, the Logos, Pythagoras, and solar cults in his two volume work Religion and Socialism. After the Bolshevic Revolution, Lunacharsky wrote an occult play called Vasilisa the Wise. This was to be followed by a never published “dramatic poem” entitled Mitra the Saviour, a clear reference to the pre-Christian occult deity. Significantly, it is Lunacharsky, along with the scholar of Russian Gnostic sects V.D. Bonch-Bruevich, who is credited with developing the so-called “cult of Lenin” which dominated Soviet life following the Bolshevic leaders’ death in 1924.

 Soviet Power & Spiritual Revolution

A Weltanschauung has conquered a state, and emanating from this state it will slowly shatter the entire world and bring about its collapse. Bolshevism, if unchecked, will change the world as completely as Christianity did. Three hundred years from now it will no longer be said that it is merely a question of organising production in a different way… If this movement continues to develop, Lenin, three hundred years from now, will be regarded not only as one of the revolutionaries of 1917, but as the founder of a new world doctrine, and he will be worshipped as much perhaps as Buddha.
— Adolf Hitler, 193218

In the wake of the total collapse of Imperial Russia and the devastation caused by the First World War, Lenin and the Bolshevics seized power in October 1917. A revolution that would not have been possible without the active support and participation of the Russian spiritual underground. The Bolshevics, in the opinion of one Russian scholar:

most probably would not have been able to take power or to consolidate it if the multimillion masses of Russian sectarians had not taken part in the total destruction brought about by the revolution, which acquired a mystical character for them. To them the state and the church were receptacles of all kinds of evil, and their destruction and debasement were regarded as a mystic duty, exactly as it was with the [medieval Gnostic sects of] Anabaptists, Bogomils, Cathars, and Taborites.19

Ground down by centuries of autocratic tsarist rule as well as the Orthodox Church, its mere appendage, the Russian people came to accept the Communism of Lenin. “Bolshevism is a Russian word,” wrote an anti-Communist Russian in 1919. “But not only a word. Because in that guise, in that form and in those manifestations which have crystallized in Russia… Bolshevism is a uniquely Russian phenomenon, with deep ties to the Russian soul.”20 Even the Nazi propaganda minister Dr. Goebbels, who built his political career fighting Communism, confessed that no tsar had ever understood the Russian people as deeply as Lenin, who gave them what they wanted most – land and freedom.

Lenin wedded the dialectical materialism of Marx to the deep-rooted tradition of Russian socialism permeated as it was by Gnostic, apocalyptic, and messianic elements. In the same manner he reconciled the Marxist commitment to science, atheism and technological progress with the Russian ideas of justice, truth and self-sacrifice for the collective. Similarly the leader of Bolshevism merged the Marxist call for proletarian internationalism and world revolution with the centuries old notion of Russia’s great mission as the harbinger of universal brotherhood. Violently opposed to all religion, atheistic Bolshevism drew much from the spiritual underground, becoming in the words of one of Lenin’s comrades, “the most religious of all religions.”

“Nonetheless we have studied Marxism a bit,” wrote Lenin, “we have studied how and when opposites can and must be combined. The main thing is: in our revolution… we have in practice repeatedly combined opposites.” Several centuries earlier the Muslim Gnostic teacher Jalalladin Rumi pointed out, “It is necessary to note that opposite things work together even though nominally opposed.”

After the 1917 Bolshevic Revolution:

occultism was part of a cluster of ideas that inspired a mystical revolutionism based on the belief that great earthly events such as revolution reflect a realignment of cosmic forces. Revolution, then, had eschatological significance. Its result would be a ‘new heaven and a new earth’ peopled by a new kind of human being and characterized by a new kind of society cemented by love, common ideals, and sacrifice.

The Bolshevic Revolution did not quash interest in the occult. Some pre-revolutionary occult ideas and symbols were transformed along more ‘scientific’ lines. Mingled with compatible concepts, they permeated early Soviet art, literature, thought, and science. Soviet political activists who did not believe in the occult used symbols, themes, and techniques drawn from it for agitation and propaganda. Further transformed, some of them were incorporated in the official culture of Stalin’s time.21

Apocalyptic and mess-ianic themes, popularised for centuries by the Russian spiritual underground, were played out in the Bolshevic Revolution and fueled the drive to build a classless, communist society. The dream of a communist paradise on earth created by human hands, a new world adorned by technological perfection, social justice and brotherhood, was found both in Marx and in the Russian spiritual underground.

Lenin promulgated a law exempting religious sectarians from military service. Writers and poets, drawing inspiration from the Russian religious underground, hailed the Revolution as a messianic, world mystery. One writer compared the Bolshevic Revolution with the origin of Christianity. “Christ was followed,” he exclaimed, “not by professors, nor by virtuous philosophers, nor by shopkeepers. Christ was followed by rascals. And the revolution will also be followed by rascals, apart from those who launched it. And one must not be afraid of this.”

alexander_blok.jpgAlexander Blok (1880-1921) was the most important Russian poet to recognise the Bolshevics. A student of Gnosticism, Blok discerned the inner meaning of the tumultuous political and social events. There was a hidden spiritual content at the core of the external upheavals of the Revolution and the bloody Civil War that followed. Blok clearly expressed this in his famous poem The Twelve, where the invisible Christ leads the revolutionary march.

Another Russian poet and occultist, Andrei Bely, a disciple of Steiner’s Anthroposophical movement, hailed the Revolution as the first stage of a far greater cultural and spiritual revolution to come. For Bely, as for his contemporary Blok, the Bolshevic Revolution was above all a powerful theurgical instrument. Andrei Bely (1880-1934) saw theurgy as a means to change the world actively in collaboration with God. In spite of the turmoil and bloodshed, for these Russian occultists the revolution served as an instrument of the new creation. Bely celebrated the 1917 Revolution in a poem, Christ is Resurrected, in which the Bolshevic take over is compared with the mystery of Crucifixion and Resurrection. Rudolf Steiner understood why the Russians welcomed the October Revolution, but criticised Bolshevism as a dangerous mix of Western abstract thinking and Eastern mysticism.

The Russian spiritual underground spawned several important writers and poets who welcomed the Bolshevic Revolution. Two of the most outstanding were Nikolai Kliuev (1887-1937) and Sergei Esenin (1895-1925). Occult images and Russian messianic themes abound in their poems. Kliuev saw Lenin as the popular leader and embodiment of the Old Belief. In typically Gnostic fashion Esenin disdained the old God of the Church and proclaimed a “new Nazareth”. The young Esenin gave support to the Bolshevic Red Army and even tried to join the Bolshevic party. Tragically, Kliuev felt betrayed by the Revolution, was arrested and died on the way to a labor camp in 1937. Esenin took his own life in 1925 believing dark forces had usurped the Russian Revolution.

By the early 1920s the Bolshevics had consolidated their hold over much of the former Russian Empire. The Communist Party emerged as the monolithic embodiment of the popular will. All occult societies, including the Theosophists and Anthroposophists, were disbanded. Freemasonry was virulently condemned and its lodges closed. In the drive to modernise Russia and build a technologically advanced Soviet Union, occult notions were publicly classed as superstition and openly ridiculed. The new Soviet State, with its Marxist-Leninist ideology, became the sole arbitrator of all thought. Leading occult teachers were forced into exile. Yet many of those associated with the spiritual underground joined the Communist Party and found employment in various Soviet organisations.

The sway of the spiritual underground did not disappear. Arcane truths and primordial urges took on new forms in keeping with the new reality. Esoteric ideas were clothed in the language of a new epoch. One writer explains:

In Stalin’s time, occult themes and techniques detached from their doctrinal base became part of the official culture…. The occult themes of Soviet literature of the 1920s were transformed into the magical or fantastic elements that observers have noted in Socialist Realism. Stalin himself was invested with occult powers.22

The Russian thinker, Isai Lezhnev (1891-1955), insisted on the profoundly religious character of Communism, which was “equal to atheism only in a narrow theological sense.” Emotionally, psychologically, Bolshevism was extremely religious, seeing itself as the only custodian of absolute truth. Lezhnev correctly discerned in Bolshevism the rise of a “new religion” which brought with it a new culture and political order. He embraced Marxism-Leninism and welcomed Stalin as a manifestation of the “popular spirit”.

The Russian Revolution, which gave rise to the super power known as the Soviet Union, cast a gigantic shadow over the twentieth century. Bolshevism, the materialistic worldview developed by Vladimir Lenin, left its mark on all aspects of modern thought. And the roots of Lenin’s Communism and the Soviet Union go deep into the ancient secret tradition of humanity.

Was atheistic Bolshevism, for all its worship of science and materialism, the expression of something supra-natural? Many in the spiritual underground passionately believed so. The Gnostic poet Valery Briusov (1873-1924), who joined the Bolshevic party in 1920, had been involved in magick, occultism and spiritualism prior to the revolution. Briusov stressed that Russia’s destiny was being worked out, not on earth, but by mystic forces for which the 1917 Revolution was part of the occult plot.

Another prominent Russian occultist, the acclaimed artist Nicholas Roerich, acknowledged Lenin and Communism as cosmic phenomenon. In 1926 he wrote:

He [Lenin] incorporated and circumspectly fitted every material into the world order. This opened up for him the path into all parts of the world. And people have formed a legend not only as a record of his deeds but also as a mark of his aspirations…. We have seen for ourselves how the nations have understood the magnetic power of communism. Friends, the worst counsellor is negativity. Behind every negation ignorance is concealed.

The philosopher Nicholas Berdyaev, a former Marxist who came to embrace Christian mysticism, was exiled from the Soviet Union in the 1920s. He had studied occultism and was acquainted with many Russian Gnostic sects. His 1909 book The Philosophy of Freedom is full of Gnostic themes. And like the Gnostics, Berdyaev opposed the institution of the family as yoking men and women to “necessity” and the endless chain of birth and death. Writing from exile, more than twenty-five years after the Revolution, Berdyaev observed:

Russian communism is a distortion of the Russian messianic idea; it proclaims light from the East which is destined to enlighten the bourgeois darkness of the West. There is in communism its own truth and its own falsehood. Its truth is a social truth, a revelation of the possibility of the brotherhood of man and of peoples, the suppression of classes, whereas its falsehood lies in its spiritual foundations which result in a process of dehumanisation, in the denial of the worth of the individual man, in the narrowing of human thought…. Communism is a Russian phenomenon in spite of its Marxist ideology. Communism is the Russian destiny, it is a moment in the inner destiny of the Russian people and it must be lived through by the inward strength of the Russian people. Communism must be surmounted but not destroyed, and into the highest stage which will come after communism there must enter the truth of communism also but freed from its element of falsehood. The Russian Revolution awakened and unfettered the enormous powers of the Russian people. In this lies its principle meaning.23

 

The Hammer and Sickle: Occult Symbols?

Throughout the twentieth century the hammer and sickle were universally recognised as symbols of communism and the Soviet Union. For millions of people the hammer and sickle symbolised a new political and economic order offering progress, justice and liberty. While countless others looked on the same hammer and sickle as ominous emblems of oppression, hatred and tyranny.

Occultists and students of ancient wisdom saw something more. Behind the outward appearance of these communist emblems, which officially represented the emancipation of labor, there was an element unknown to the masses.

Russian occultists saw the Bolshevics as unconsciously working for the cosmic mission of Russia and interpreted the Soviet hammer and sickle as hidden symbols of the blacksmith’s art, hinting at future transmutation and transformation. Both metallurgy and alchemy (regarded as an occult science) sort to destroy impure elements with fire and thereby release a refined product, whether forged metal (the smith) or spiritual gold (the alchemist). Fire is associated with transfiguration, regeneration, and purification, while iron is associated with Mars (the god of war) and the astral world.

To the occultist, the communist hammer and sickle symbolised conflict and transmutation. The forging – in the fires of struggle – of base elements into a purer, higher form. The atheistic Bolshevic, like the occultist, proclaimed that ordinary man must be transformed into new man, free of the bonds of selfish desires and of the oppressive past, in order to freely build the new civilisation of the future.


Footnotes:

1. Benjamin Walker, Gnosticism Its History & Influence

2. James Webb, Occult Underground

3. Maria Carlson, No Religion Higher Than Truth

4. As quoted in Maria Carlson, No Religion Higher Than Truth

5. Acts 2:44-47

6. Mikhail Agursky, The Third Rome

7. James H. Billington, The Icon and the Axe

8. As quoted in James H. Billington, The Icon and the Axe

9. As quoted in Nina Tumarkin, Lenin Lives: The Lenin Cult in Soviet Russia

10. Nicholas Berdyaev, The Russian Idea

11. Geoffrey Hosking, Russia: People and Empire

12. As quoted in Mikhail Agursky, The Third Rome

13. Robert C. Williams, The Other Bolsheviks

14. Maria Carlson, No Religion Higher Than Truth

15. Richard Noll, The Jung Cult

16. Mikhail Agursky, The Third Rome

17. The Occult in Russian and Soviet Culture, edited by Bernice Glatzer Rosenthal

18. As quoted in Hitler’s Words, edited by Gordon Prange

19. Mikhail Agursky, The Third Rome

20. As quoted in Richard Pipes, Russia Under the Bolshevik Regime 1919-1924

21. The Occult in Russian and Soviet Culture, edited by Bernice Glatzer Rosenthal

22. Ibid

23. Nicholas Berdyaev, The Russian Idea

dimanche, 10 novembre 2013

Gramsci : ce que le socialisme moderne peut apprendre du penseur italien

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Gramsci : ce que le socialisme moderne peut apprendre du penseur italien

par Kévin Victoire

Ex: http://ragemag.fr

Si aujourd’hui encore les militants ou théoriciens anticapitalistes se battent pour revendiquer l’héritage de Lénine, Trotsky, Mao ou Rosa Luxemburg, trop ignorent encore le co-fondateur du Parti communiste italien : Antonio Gramsci. Théoricien socialiste de la première moitié du XXe siècle, Gramsci a produit une œuvre de grande envergure, qui plus est en pleine période de crise du socialisme. Le bloc soviétique chute, la conscience de classe s’affaiblit : Gramsci est un homme qui a usé de sa plume dans un contexte complexe pour un penseur de la gauche radicale, le tout derrière les barreaux d’une prison fasciste. Peut-être est-il alors nécessaire aujourd’hui plus que jamais de le redécouvrir ?

Alors que le Parti Socialiste a enfin réussi à reconquérir le pouvoir, il n’a paradoxalement jamais semblé recueillir aussi peu d’adhésion auprès des Français. Dans le même temps, commentateurs politiques et intellectuels s’inquiètent à raison d’une nouvelle et dangereuse lepénisation des esprits, permettant à l’extrême droite de gagner du terrain. Si, à notre époque, il paraît naturel d’essayer d’arriver au pouvoir en combattant sur le terrain des valeurs, cette idée a vu le jour avec le révolutionnaire Antonio Gramsci. Si l’on souhaite donner des clefs de lecture pour comprendre la situation politique actuelle, il peut être intéressant de se pencher sur la vie et la pensée du communiste italien.

Gramsci le révolutionnaire

Né en 1860, Antonio Gramsci publie dans des revues socialistes alors qu’il n’est encore qu’étudiant en philosophie à l’Université de Turin. Il tient par la suite une rubrique culturelle et politique dans une revue proche du Parti socialiste italien (PSI). A l’époque, il côtoie le jeune Benito Mussolini alors membre du Parti socialiste. Très rapidement, le futur révolutionnaire se lie au mouvement ouvrier et prend part aux insurrections ouvrières turinoises de 1915 et 1917. Il participe par la suite au mouvement « conseilliste », y défendant la création de conseils d’ouvriers dans les entreprises. Le 21 janvier 1921, le PSI connaît le même sort que la majorité des autres partis socialistes européenne, à savoir une scission avec son aile gauche et la création du Parti communiste italien (PCI). Antonio est de l’aventure et prend même la tête du Parti en 1925. Cependant, celle-ci tourne court, puisqu’il est arrêté en 1926 par le régime fasciste et condamné pour conspiration. Il décède quelques jours après sa sortie de prison en 1937. Si au moment de son incarcération le révolutionnaire a déjà beaucoup écrit, c’est dans sa cellule qu’il élabore ce qui deviendra par la suite le « gramscisme ». Il consigne, en effet, l’essentiel de sa théorie dans ses Cahiers de Prison- comprenant trente-trois fascicules- qui sont recueillis par sa belle-sœur. Ceux-ci connaissent par la suite un grand écho au sein du PCI, surtout à grâce Palmiro Togliatti, puis dans le reste de l’Europe et du monde.

Praxis contre matérialisme

Au départ, une question obsède le penseur : pourquoi la révolution ouvrière a pu fonctionner en Russie en 1917, alors qu’elle a échoué en Allemagne, à Turin et dans bon nombre de pays européens ? La réponse, l’Italien finit par l’obtenir en analysant les différences historiques et culturelles qui existent entre ces différentes sociétés.

« Au départ, une question obsède le penseur : pourquoi la révolution ouvrière a pu fonctionner en Russie en 1917, alors qu’elle a échoué en Allemagne, à Turin et dans bon nombre de pays européens ? »

Communiste, Gramsci s’intéresse naturellement à Marx et à la dialectique matérialiste. Italien, il est aussi très influencé par Croce, penseur le plus respecté en Italie à cette époque, et par Machiavel. Il retient l’historicisme du premier, tandis qu’il voit dans le second le fondateur de la science politique. C’est par la rencontre de ces trois pensées que Gramsci fonde une nouvelle forme de matérialisme, la « philosophie de la praxis ». Contrairement au matérialisme historique où les évènements historiques sont déterminés par les rapports sociaux (et la lutte des classes), dans la vision gramsciste, le contexte socio-historique détermine totalement les idées. En effet, celles-ci découlent de la relation entre l’activité humaine pratique (ou « praxis ») et les processus socio-historiques objectifs dont elle fait partie. Les relations sociales entre les individus remplacent ainsi les rapports sociaux, c’est-à-dire les modes de production.

La philosophie de la praxis est donc une relecture marxiste qui se situe au-delà de la confrontation entre le matérialisme marxiste et l’idéalisme hégélien, ce qui s’oppose à la vision marxiste orthodoxe, notamment de Boukharine, Plekhanov et Lénine, dont Gramsci est pourtant un admirateur. Selon lui, ces derniers ne s’éloignent pas du dogmatisme religieux critiqué par le philosophe allemand. Il les accuse de réduire la pensée de Marx à l’analyse d’une histoire naturelle coupée de l’histoire humaine. Utilisant l’exemple russe, où le capitalisme n’avait pas atteint une forme mature avant la révolution bolchévique, il en vient alors à rejeter toutes formes de déterminisme économique et à conclure que les changements culturels et économiques naissent d’un processus historique où il est impossible de dire quel élément précède l’autre. Finalement plus que les moyens de production ou les idées, c’est la volonté humaine qui prédomine toutes sociétés.

Cette liberté vis-à-vis du matérialisme permet au turinois d’adoption de se détacher de l’analyse en terme d’« infrastructure » (organisation économique de la société) et de « superstructure » (organisation juridique, politique et idéologique de la société). Chez Marx et ses disciples, l’infrastructure influence la superstructure qui à son tour définit toutes les formes de conscience existant à une époque donnée. Gramsci substitue ces deux notions par celles de « société politique », qui est le lieu où évoluent les institutions politiques et où elles exercent leur contrôle, et de « société civile » (terme repris à Hegel), où s’exercent les domaines culturels, intellectuels et religieux. Si le penseur admet que ces deux sphères se recoupent en pratique, selon lui leur compréhension est essentielle.

En analysant les sociétés, Gramsci comprend que si elles se maintiennent dans le temps, c’est autant par le contrôle par la force de l’État (ou de la société politique) que par le consentement de la population. Ce dernier est obtenu par l’adhésion à la société civile. Ainsi, pour qu’une révolution aboutisse, il faut contrôler à la fois la société politique et la société civile. Dans cette optique, si la Révolution russe de 1917 aboutit, c’est parce que, pour lui, la société civile y est très peu développée, si bien qu’une fois l’appareil étatique obtenu, le consentement de la population s’obtient aisément. Mais dans les sociétés occidentales où la société civile est plus dense, les choses sont plus compliquées. La Révolution française de 1789 passe d’abord par le consentement de la bourgeoisie et d’une partie de l’aristocratie, grâce à la diffusion de la philosophie des Lumières qui dominent culturellement par la « révolution des esprits » qu’elle a mené. C’est ainsi que né le concept essentiel d’ « hégémonie culturelle ».

Dans l’optique de prendre le contrôle de la société civile, gagner l’hégémonie culturelle devient primordial pour le penseur. Gramsci l’explique clairement quand il dit que « chaque révolution a été précédée par un travail intense de critique sociale, de pénétration et de diffusion culturelle ». Il développe ainsi une dialectique du consentement et de la coercition et théorise la « révolution par étapes » qui est une véritable « guerre de position ». La violence n’est donc pas nécessaire pour mener et gagner une révolution, le vrai enjeu étant de transformer les consciences en menant et remportant une bataille culturelle. En faisant cela, le révolutionnaire obtient un pouvoir symbolique précédent le vrai pouvoir politique. Gramsci écrit alors : « Un groupe social peut et même doit être dirigeant dès avant de conquérir le pouvoir gouvernemental : c’est une des conditions essentielles pour la conquête même du pouvoir ». En d’autres termes, pour mener à bien sa révolution, la classe prolétaire doit voir ses intérêts de classe devenir majoritaire au sein de la population.

Cependant, cette hégémonie ne née pas d’elle-même parce que la conscience de classe n’est pas forcément naturelle, ni les idées liées à celle-ci et leur diffusion. C’est pourquoi Gramsci fait émerger une classe sociale spécifique qui se distingue des travailleurs : l’intellectuel qui travaille au service du parti et organise l’unité de classe. Comme Machiavel, il assigne donc une tâche spécifique à l’intellectuel qui doit détruire les valeurs de la société capitaliste et traditionnelle. Dans le même temps, le parti joue le rôle du « prince moderne » et unifie ce qui a tendance à se disperser à l’état naturel tout en dotant la classe contestataire d’une « volonté collective ». Les intellectuels sont « organiques » et se séparent en deux catégories. D’une part, on a l’intellectuel théoricien — qu’il nomme « traditionnel » quand il appartient à la classe dominante en déclin — qui effectue une action générale sur la société civile. D’autre part, on a l’intellectuel spécialisé qui n’opère que sur un domaine précis. L’intellectuel traditionnel a un rôle essentiel dans la société, car il permet le maintien de l’ordre établi mais peut aussi le renverser s’il bascule du côté de la classe contestataire.

Gramsci distingue aussi le parti politique du parti idéologique dans lequel il s’inclut. L’intérêt du parti politique se situe dans sa structure hiérarchisée presque militaire où l’action va de haut en bas en s’alimentant d’abord par le bas. Le parti idéologique comprend en plus le cercle d’influence du parti politique et permet sa diffusion culturelle. Par sa structure et par le biais de ses intellectuels organiques, le Parti politique sert donc d’appareil devant aider la classe contestataire à s’ériger en classe dominante en menant une révolution culturelle.

Nous vivons une époque de crises : crise morale, économique, sociale ou encore intellectuelle — ce serait donc un climat idéal pour instaurer un vrai changement. Encore faudrait-il que ceux qui rêvent de transformer réellement la société soient capables de faire porter leurs voix. Dans ce contexte, redécouvrir Gramsci semble donc essentiel : ses apports théoriques ne servent, pour la plupart d’entre eux, que la pratique. Pour l’intellectuel enfermé, le jour où une structure révolutionnaire réussira à conquérir la société civile, le changement sera proche.

Pasolini sur la tombe de Gramsci.

La révolution par l’hégémonie culturelle

Pasolini & Gramsci

par Max Leroy

Rome. Quartier Testaccio, non loin de la Porte Saint Paul. Un mur entoure le cimetière protestant. Des cyprès s’élèvent effrontément ; la végétation met la main sur le porche. La tombe de Gramsci se situe non loin de la chapelle. Quelques pots de fleurs rouges près de l’urne funéraire…

On se souvient d’une photo en noir et blanc donnant à voir Pier Paolo Pasolini, élégamment vêtu d’un imperméable beige, debout face à la stèle. Le cinéaste, poète à ses heures, à moins que ce ne fut l’inverse, n’a jamais cessé de louer le penseur embastillé, italien comme lui, communiste comme lui, fils de la petite bourgeoisie provinciale comme lui, mort quand il n’avait pas même quinze ans. Une décennie à pourrir dans les prisons fascistes – Mussolini aurait ordonné : « Nous devons empêcher ce cerveau de fonctionner pendant vingt ans. » Prophétie manquée : jamais Gramsci ne fut plus productif qu’entre quatre murs… La tuberculose eut raison de lui mais non de son œuvre ; les têtes dures discutent toujours avec l’avenir : « Je n’ai jamais voulu compromettre mes convictions, pour lesquelles je suis prêt à donner ma vie et pas seulement être mis en prison ».

Pasolini fit connaissance des écrits de Gramsci en 1948. Il venait de prendre sa carte au Parti mais ne l’avait pas renouvelée à expiration : l’orthodoxie stalinienne et la poigne de ses dirigeants ne convenaient pas vraiment à ce cœur réfractaire. Gramsci lui permit alors, expliqua-t-il bien des années plus tard, « de faire le point sur sa situation personnelle ». Il comprit en le lisant que l’intellectuel avait vocation à être une « véritable cheville médiatrice des classes », à mi-chemin entre le Parti et la masse des travailleurs. Il put également encadrer théoriquement ce qui relevait jusqu’ici, chez lui, de l’instinct, de l’âme et du sensible : une révolution ne peut se passer de la paysannerie – cette paysannerie qu’il aimait tant et dont il pleurait la dissolution sous les acides de la modernité et du libéralisme marchand, cette paysannerie à qui Marx, dans son ouvrage Le 18 Brumaire de Louis Bonaparte, refusait, du fait de son mode de production, la possibilité de se constituer en classe.

Pasolini ne découvrit pas l’oppression économique et sociale dans les livres : « Ce qui m’a poussé à devenir communiste, c’est un soulèvement d’ouvriers agricoles contre les grands propriétaires du Frioul, au lendemain de la guerre. J’étais pour les braccianti. Je n’ai lu Marx et Gramsci qu’ensuite. » Si Pasolini était marxiste, il confia toutefois que le coauteur du Manifeste du Parti communiste s’avéra moins déterminant dans son parcours intellectuel que ne le fut Gramsci, à qui il rendit hommage en publiant, en 1957, le recueil de poésie Les Cendres de Gramsci. Le livre, composé de onze poèmes écrits entre 1951 et 1956, reçut le prix Viareggio à sa sortie. Budapest venait de se soulever contre la tutelle soviétique ; Pasolini décrivit son ouvrage, dans un entretien accordé à un journaliste français, comme « une crise idéologique ». Le poète s’adressa directement, dans ses vers, au révolutionnaire défunt : « à ton esprit qui est resté ici-bas parmi ces gens libres ». Pourquoi ce tutoiement ? Parlait-il à un camarade, un frère, un père ? Lui seul le sut, sans doute. Lisons encore : « Scandale de me contredire, d’être avec toi, contre toi ; avec toi dans mon cœur, au grand jour, contre toi dans la nuit des viscères ; reniant la condition de mon père ». De page en page, les hameaux, les foulards couleur sang aux cous des partisans, les rêves humiliants, les pantalons de travail, les ordures dans les ruelles, le marchand d’olives, les gosses qui gueulent… Et puis, tout au bout, le « rouge chiffon d’espérance ».


Entretien avec Jean-Marc Piotte sur Gramsci

Jean-Marc Piotte, sociologue, philosophe et politologue marxiste est enseignant à l’Université de Montréal. Il a réalisé une thèse sur la pensée d’Antonio Gramsci.

Comment expliquez-vous que Gramsci n’occupe aujourd’hui pas la même place que Lénine ou Rosa Luxemburg chez les marxistes ?

Pour Lénine la raison est très simple : il a participé à la Révolution soviétique d’octobre 1917. Pour Rosa Luxemburg, c’est un peu plus complexe. Elle a eu beaucoup d’influence grâce à son opposition avec Lénine à l’époque en développant une pensée plutôt proche de la pensée anarchiste. Gramsci, ses textes n’ont été connu que très tard après sa sortie de prison. Cependant, sa réflexion a été un éclairage sur le fonctionnement de la politique et son lien avec la culture pour beaucoup de gens. Il a aussi été un pionnier sur le rôle des intellectuels.

Gramsci est désormais cité par de nombreux courants de pensée : pourquoi ?

Ses Cahiers de Prison sont obtenus à partir de textes très disparates qu’il arrive à obtenir en prison, ce sont des réflexions consignées dans un journal intime intellectuel, ce n’est pas un texte avec une orientation très claire… De ce fait, divers auteurs peuvent s’aider de Gramsci. Mais finalement, sa grande force c’est d’avoir réfléchi au rôle de la culture dans l’action politique et ça va plus loin que la simple pensée marxiste. Son but était de comprendre comment par la culture, il était possible de rallier la classe ouvrière à la révolution.

En quoi Gramsci peut encore être utile à la gauche aujourd’hui ?

Tout simplement parce que Gramsci réfléchit au problème fondamental de l’adhésion des classes populaires à la révolution. Par exemple, quand on voit qu’en France une part importante de la classe ouvrière qui votait pour les communistes vote aujourd’hui pour le FN on voit en quoi Gramsci serait utile. Ses écrits permettraient une réflexion sur les moyens de briser cela en reprenant l’hégémonie culturelle. Cette réflexion est d’ailleurs essentielle à mon avis si la gauche veut un jour renverser la tendance et venir à bout du capitalisme.

Boîte noire

samedi, 09 novembre 2013

Wall Street & the November 1917 Bolshevik Revolution

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Wall Street & the November 1917 Bolshevik Revolution

By Kerry Bolton 

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

My last article [2] documented the funding of the March 1917 Revolution in Russia.[1] The primary financier of the Russian revolutionary movement 1905–1917 was Jacob Schiff, of Kuhn Loeb and Co., New York. In particular Schiff had provided the money for the distribution of revolutionary propaganda among Russians prisoners-of-war in Japan in 1905 by the American journalist George Kennan who, more than any other individual, was responsible for turning American public and official opinion against Czarist Russia. Kennan subsequently related that it was thanks to Schiff that 50,000 Russian soldiers were revolutionized and formed the cadres that laid the basis for the March 1917 Revolution and, we might add–either directly or indirectly–the consequent Bolshevik coup of November. The reaction of bankers from Wall Street and The City towards the overthrow of the Czar was enthusiastic.

This article deals with the funding of the subsequent Bolshevik coup eight months later which, as paradoxical as it might seem to those who know nothing of history other than the orthodox version, was also greeted cordially by banking circles in Wall Street and elsewhere.

Apologists for the bankers and other highly-placed individuals who supported the Bolsheviks from the earliest stages of the communist takeover, either diplomatically or financially, justify the support for this mass application of psychopathology as being motivated by patriotic sentiment, in trying to thwart German influence over the Bolsheviks and to keep Russia in the war against Germany. Because Lenin and his entourage had been able to enter Russia courtesy of the German High Command on the basis that a Bolshevik regime would withdraw Russia from the war, Wall Street capitalists explained that their patronage of the Bolsheviks was motivated by the highest ideals of pro-Allied sentiment. Hence, William Boyce Thompson in particular stated that by funding Bolshevik propaganda for distribution in Germany and Austria this would undermine the war effort of those countries, while his assistance to the Bolsheviks in Russia was designed to swing them in favor of the Allies.

These protestations of patriotic motivations ring hollow. International banking is precisely what it is called–international, or globalist as such forms of capitalism are now called. Not only have these banking forms and other forms of big business had overlapping directorships and investments for generations, but they are often related through intermarriage. While Max Warburg of the Warburg banking house in Germany advised the Kaiser and while the German Government arranged for funding and safe passage of Lenin and his entourage from Switzerland across Germany to Russia;[2] his brother Paul,[3] a partner of Jacob Schiff’s at Wall Street, looked after the family interests in New York. The primary factor that was behind the bankers’ support for the Bolsheviks whether from London,[4] New York, Stockholm,[5] or Berlin, was to open up the underdeveloped resources of Russia to the world market, just as in our own day George Soros, the money speculator, funds the so-called “color revolutions” to bring about “regime change” that facilitates the opening up of resources to global exploitation. Hence there can no longer be any doubt that international capital a plays a major role in fomenting revolutions, because Soros plays the well-known modern-day equivalent of Jacob Schiff.

Recognition of Bolsheviks Pushed by Bankers

This aim of international finance, whether centered in Germany, England or the USA, to open up Russia to capitalist exploitation by supporting the Bolsheviks, was widely commented on at the time by a diversity of well-informed sources, including Allied intelligence agencies, and of particular interest by two very different individuals, Henry Wickham Steed, editor of The London Times, and Samuel Gompers, head of the American Federation of Labor.

On May 1, 1922 The New York Times reported that Gompers, reacting to negotiations at the international economic conference at Genoa, declared that a group of “predatory international financiers” were working for the recognition of the Bolshevik regime for the opening up of resources for exploitation. Despite the rhetoric by New York and London bankers during the war that a Russian revolution would serve the Allied cause, Gompers opined that this was an “Anglo-American-German banking group,” and that they were “international bankers” who did not adhere to any national allegiance. He also noted that prominent Americans who had a history of anti-labor attitudes were advocating recognition of the Bolshevik regime.[6]

What Gompers claimed, was similarly expressed by Henry Wickham Steed of The London Times, based on his observations. In a first-hand account of the Paris Peace Conference of 1919, Steed stated that proceedings were interrupted by the return from Moscow of William C. Bullitt and Lincoln Steffens, “who had been sent to Russia towards the middle of February by Colonel House and Mr. Lansing, for the purpose of studying conditions, political and economic, therein for the benefit of the American Commissioners plenipotentiary to negotiate peace.”[7] Steed also refers to British Prime Minister Lloyd George as being likely to have known of the Mission and its purpose. Steed stated that international finance was behind the move for recognition of the Bolshevik regime and other moves in favor of the Bolsheviks, and specifically identified Jacob Schiff of Kuhn, Loeb & Co., New York, as one of the principal bankers “eager to secure recognition”:

Potent international financial interests were at work in favor of the immediate recognition of the Bolshevists. Those influences had been largely responsible for the Anglo-American proposal in January to call Bolshevist representatives to Paris at the beginning of the Peace Conference—a proposal which had failed after having been transformed into a suggestion for a Conference with the Bolshevists at Prinkipo. . . . The well-known American Jewish banker, Mr. Jacob Schiff, was known to be anxious to secure recognition for the Bolshevists . . .[8]

In return for diplomatic recognition, Tchitcherin, the Bolshevist Commissary for Foreign Affairs, was offering “extensive commercial and economic concessions.”

Wickham Steed with the support of The Times’ proprietor, Lord Northcliffe, exposed the machinations of international finance to obtain the recognition of the Bolshevik regime, which still had a very uncertain future.

Steed related that he was called upon by US President Wilson’s primary adviser, Edward Mandel House, who was concerned at Steed’s exposé of the relationship between Bolshevists and international financers:

That day Colonel House asked me to call upon him. I found him worried both by my criticism of any recognition of the Bolshevists and by the certainty, which he had not previously realized, that if the President were to recognize the Bolshevists in return for commercial concessions his whole “idealism” would be hopelessly compromised as commercialism in disguise. I pointed out to him that not only would Wilson be utterly discredited but that the League of Nations would go by the board, because all the small peoples and many of the big peoples of Europe would be unable to resist the Bolshevism which Wilson would have accredited.[9]

Steed stated to House that it was Jacob Schiff, Warburg and other bankers who were behind the diplomatic moves in favor of the Bolsheviks:

I insisted that, unknown to him, the prime movers were Jacob Schiff, Warburg, and other international financiers, who wished above all to bolster up the Jewish Bolshevists in order to secure a field for German and Jewish exploitation of Russia.[10]

Steed here indicates an uncharacteristic naïveté in thinking that House would not have known of the plans of Schiff, Warburg, et al. House was throughout his career close to these bankers and was involved with them in setting up a war-time think tank called The Inquiry, and following the war the creation of the Council on Foreign Relations, in order to shape an internationalist post-war foreign policy. It was Schiff and Paul Warburg and other Wall Street bankers who called on House in 1913 to get House’s support for the creation of the Federal Reserve Bank.[11]

House in Machiavellian manner asked Steed to compromise; to support humanitarian aid supposedly for the benefit of all Russians. Steed agreed to consider this, but soon after talking with House found out that British Prime Minister Lloyd George and Wilson were to proceed with recognition the following day. Steed therefore wrote the leading article for the Paris Daily Mail of March 28th, exposing the maneuvers and asking how a pro-Bolshevik attitude was consistent with Pres. Wilson’s declared moral principles for the post-war world?

. . . Who are the tempters that would dare whisper into the ears of the Allied and Associated Governments? They are not far removed from the men who preached peace with profitable dishonour to the British people in July, 1914. They are akin to, if not identical with, the men who sent Trotsky and some scores of associate desperadoes to ruin the Russian Revolution as a democratic, anti-German force in the spring of 1917.[12]

Here Steed does not seem to have been aware that some of the same bankers who were supporting the Bolsheviks had also supported the March Revolution.

Charles Crane,[13] who had recently talked with President Wilson, told Steed that Wilson was about to recognize the Bolsheviks, which would result in a negative public opinion in the USA and destroy Wilson’s post-War internationalist aims. Significantly Crane also identified the pro-Bolshevik faction as being that of Big Business, stating to Steed: “Our people at home will certainly not stand for the recognition of the Bolshevists at the bidding of Wall Street.” Steed was again seen by House, who stated that Steed’s article in the Paris Daily Mail, “had got under the President’s hide.” House asked that Steed postpone further exposés in the press, and again raised the prospect of recognition based on humanitarian aid. Lloyd George was also greatly perturbed by Steed’s articles in the Daily Mail and complained that he could not undertake a “sensible” policy towards the Bolsheviks while the press had an anti-Bolshevik attitude.[14]

Thompson and the American Red Cross Mission

As mentioned, House attempted to persuade Steed on the idea of relations with Bolshevik Russia ostensibly for the purpose of humanitarian aid for the Russian people. This had already been undertaken just after the Bolshevik Revolution, when the regime was far from certain, under the guise of the American Red Cross Mission. Col. William Boyce Thompson, a director of the NY Federal Reserve Bank, organized and largely funded the Mission, with other funding coming from International Harvester, which gave $200,000. The so-called Red Cross Mission was largely comprised of business personnel, and was according to Thompson’s assistant, Cornelius Kelleher, “nothing but a mask” for business interests.[15] Of the 24 members, five were doctors and two were medical researchers. The rest were lawyers and businessmen associated with Wall Street. Dr. Billings nominally headed the Mission.[16] Prof. Antony Sutton of the Hoover Institute stated that the Mission provided assistance for revolutionaries:

We know from the files of the U.S. embassy in Petrograd that the U.S. Red Cross gave 4,000 rubles to Prince Lvoff, president of the Council of Ministers, for “relief of revolutionists” and 10,000 rubles in two payments to Kerensky for “relief of political refugees.”[17]

The original intention of the Mission, hastily organized by Thompson in light of revolutionary events, was ‘”nothing less than to shore up the Provisional regime,” according to the historian William Harlane Hale, formerly of the United States Foreign Service.[18] The support for the social revolutionaries indicates that the same bankers who backed the Kerensky regime and the March Revolution also supported the Bolsheviks, and it seems reasonable to opine that these financiers considered Kerensky a mere prelude for the Bolshevik coup, as the following indicates.

Thompson set himself up in royal manner in Petrograd reporting directly to Pres. Wilson and bypassing US Ambassador Francis. Thompson provided funds from his own money, first to the Social Revolutionaries, to whom he gave one million rubles,[19] and shortly after $1,000,000 to the Bolsheviks to spread their propaganda to Germany and Austria.[20] Thompson met Thomas Lamont of J. P. Morgan Co. in London to persuade the British War Cabinet to drop its anti-Bolshevik policy. On his return to the USA Thompson undertook a tour advocating US recognition of the Bolsheviks.[21] Thompson’s deputy Raymond Robbins had been pressing for recognition of the Bolsheviks, and Thompson agreed that the Kerensky regime was doomed and consequently “sped to Washington to try and swing the Administration onto a new policy track,” meeting resistance from Wilson, who was being pressure by Ambassador Francis.[22]

The “Bolshevik of Wall Street”

Such was Thompson’s enthusiasm for Bolshevism that he was nicknamed “the Bolshevik of Wall Street” by his fellow plutocrats. Thompson gave a lengthy interview with The New York Times just after his four month tour with the American Red Cross Mission, lauding the Bolsheviks and assuring the American public that the Bolsheviks were not about to make a separate peace with Germany.[23] The article is an interesting indication of how Wall Street viewed their supposedly “deadly enemies,” the Bolsheviks, at a time when their position was very precarious. Thompson stated that while the “reactionaries,” if they assumed power, might seek peace with Germany, the Bolsheviki would not. “His opinion is that Russia needs America, that America must stand by Russia,” stated the Times. Thompson is quoted: “The Bolsheviki peace aims are the same as those of the Untied States.” Thompson alluded to Wilson’s speech to the United States Congress on Russia as “a wonderful meeting of the situation,” but that the American public “know very little about the Bolsheviki.” The Times stated:

Colonel Thompson is a banker and a capitalist, and he has large manufacturing interests. He is not a sentimentalist nor a “radical.” But he has come back from his official visit to Russia in absolute sympathy with the Russian democracy as represented by the Bolsheviki at present.

Hence at this time Thompson was trying to sell the Bolsheviks as “democrats,” implying that they were part of the same movement as the Kerensky regime that they had overthrown. While Thompson did not consider Bolshevism the final form of government, he did see it as the most promising step towards a “representative government” and that it was the “duty” of the USA to “sympathize” with and “aid” Russia “through her days of crisis.” He stated that in reply to surprise at his pro-Bolshevik sentiments he did not mind being called “red” if that meant sympathy for 170,000,000 people “struggling for liberty and fair living.” Thompson also saw that while the Bolsheviki had entered a “truce” with Germany, they were also spreading Bolshevik doctrines among the German people, which Thompson called “their ideals of freedom” and their “propaganda of democracy.” Thompson lauded the Bolshevik Government as being the equivalent to America’s democracy, stating:

The present government in Russia is a government of workingmen. It is a Government by the majority, and, because our Government is a government of the majority, I don’t see how it can fail to support the Government of Russia.

Thompson saw the prospects of the Bolshevik Government being transformed as it incorporated a more Centrist position and included employers. If Bolshevism did not proceed thus, then “God help the world,” warned Thompson. Given that this was a time when Lenin and Trotsky held sway over the regime, subsequently to become the most enthusiastic advocates of opening Russia up to foreign capital (New Economic Policy) prospects seemed good for a joint Capitalist-Bolshevik venture with no indication that an upstart named Stalin would throw a spanner in the works.

The Times article ends: “At home in New York, the Colonel has received the good-natured title of ‘the Bolshevik of Wall Street.’”[24] It was against this background that it can now be understood why labor leader Samuel Gompers denounced Bolshevism as a tool of “predatory international finance,” while arch-capitalist Thompson lauded it as “a government of working men.”

The Council on Foreign Relations Report

The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) had been established in 1921 by President Wilson’s chief adviser Edward Mandel House out of a previous think tank called The Inquiry, formed in 1917–1918 to advise President Wilson on the Paris Peace Conference of 1919. It was this conference about which Steed had detailed his observations when he stated that there were financial interests trying to secure the recognition of the Bolsheviks.[25]

Peter Grose in his semi-official history of the CFR writes of it as a think tank combining academe and big business that had emerged from The Inquiry group.[26] Therefore the CFR report on Soviet Russia at this early period is instructive as to the relationship that influential sections of the US Establishment wished to pursue in regard to the Bolshevik regime. Grosse writes of this period:

Awkward in the records of The Inquiry had been the absence of a single study or background paper on the subject of Bolshevism. Perhaps this was simply beyond the academic imagination of the times. Not until early 1923 could the Council summon the expertise to mobilize a systematic examination of the Bolshevik regime, finally entrenched after civil war in Russia. The impetus for this first study was Lenin’s New Economic Policy, which appeared to open the struggling Bolshevik economy to foreign investment. Half the Council’s study group were members drawn from firms that had done business in pre-revolutionary Russia, and the discussions about the Soviet future were intense. The concluding report dismissed “hysterical” fears that the revolution would spill outside Russia’s borders into central Europe or, worse, that the heady new revolutionaries would ally with nationalistic Muslims in the Middle East to evict European imperialism. The Bolsheviks were on their way to “sanity and sound business practices,” the Council study group concluded, but the welcome to foreign concessionaires would likely be short-lived. Thus, the Council experts recommended in March 1923 that American businessmen get into Russia while Lenin’s invitation held good, make money on their investments, and then get out as quickly as possible. A few heeded the advice; not for seven decades would a similar opportunity arise.[27]

However, financial interests had already moved into Soviet Russia from the beginning of the Bolshevik regime.

The Vanderlip Concession

H. G. Wells, historian, novelist, and Fabian-socialist, observed first-hand the relationship between Communism and big business when he had visited Bolshevik Russia. Travelling to Russia in 1920 where he interviewed Lenin and other Bolshevik leaders, Wells hoped that the Western Powers and in particular the USA would come to the Soviets’ aid. Wells also met there “Mr. Vanderlip” who was negotiating business contracts with the Soviets. Wells commented of the situation he would like to see developing, and as a self-described “collectivist” made a telling observation on the relationship between Communism and “Big Business”:

The only Power capable of playing this role of eleventh-hour helper to Russia single-handed is the United States of America. That is why I find the adventure of the enterprising and imaginative Mr. Vanderlip very significant. I doubt the conclusiveness of his negotiations; they are probably only the opening phase of a discussion of the Russian problem upon a new basis that may lead it at last to a comprehensive world treatment of this situation. Other Powers than the United States will, in the present phase of world-exhaustion, need to combine before they can be of any effective use to Russia. Big business is by no means antipathetic to Communism. The larger big business grows the more it approximates to Collectivism. It is the upper road of the few instead of the lower road of the masses to Collectivism.[28]

In addressing concerns that were being expressed among Bolshevik Party “activists” at a meeting of the Moscow Organization of the party, Lenin sought to reassure them that the Government was not selling out to foreign capitalism, but that, in view of what Lenin believed to be an inevitable war between the USA and Japan, a US interest in Kamchatka would be favorable to Soviet Russia as a defensive position against Japan. Such strategic considerations on the part of the US, it might be added, were also more relevant to US and other forms of so-called “intervention” during the Russian Civil War between the Red and the White Armies, than any desire to help the Whites overturn the Bolsheviks, let alone restore Czarism. Lenin said of Vanderlip to the Bolshevik cadres:

We must take advantage of the situation that has arisen. That is the whole purpose of the Kamchatka concessions. We have had a visit from Vanderlip, a distant relative of the well-known multimillionaire, if he is to he believed; but since our intelligence service, although splendidly organized, unfortunately does not yet extend to the United States of America, we have not yet established the exact kinship of these Vanderlips. Some even say there is no kinship at all. I do not presume to judge: my knowledge is confined to having read a book by Vanderlip, not the one that was in our country and is said to be such a very important person that he has been received with all the honors by kings and ministers—from which one must infer that his pocket is very well lined indeed. He spoke to them in the way people discuss matters at meetings such as ours, for instance, and told then in the calmest tones how Europe should be restored. If ministers spoke to him with so much respect, it must mean that Vanderlip is in touch with the multimillionaires.[29]

Of the meeting with Vanderlip, Lenin indicated that it was based on a secret diplomacy that was being denied by the US Administration, while Vandrelip returned to the USA, like other capitalists such as Thompson, praising the Bolsheviks. Lenin continued:

. . . I expressed the hope that friendly relations between the two states would be a basis not only for the granting of a concession, but also for the normal development of reciprocal economic assistance. It all went off in that kind of vein. Then telegrams came telling what Vanderlip had said on arriving home from abroad. Vanderlip had compared Lenin with Washington and Lincoln. Vanderlip had asked for my autographed portrait. I had declined, because when you present a portrait you write, “To Comrade So-and-so,” and I could not write, “To Comrade Vanderlip.” Neither was it possible to write: “To the Vanderlip we are signing a concession with” because that concession agreement would be concluded by the Administration when it took office. I did not know what to write. It would have been illogical to give my photograph to an out-and-out imperialist. Yet these were the kind of telegrams that arrived; this affair has clearly played a certain part in imperialist politics. When the news of the Vanderlip concessions came out, Harding—the man who has been elected President, but who will take office only next March—issued an official denial, declaring that he knew nothing about it, had no dealings with the Bolsheviks, and had heard nothing about any concessions. That was during the elections, and, for all we know, to confess, during elections, that you have dealings with the Bolsheviks may cost you votes. That was why he issued an official denial. He had this report sent to all the newspapers that are hostile to the Bolsheviks and are on the pay roll of the imperialist parties . . .[30]

This mysterious Vanderlip was in fact Washington Vanderlip who had, according to Armand Hammer, come to Russia in 1919, although even Hammer does not seem to have known much of the matter.[31] Lenin’s rationalizations in trying to justify concessions to foreign capitalists to the “Moscow activists” in 1920 seem disingenuous and less than forthcoming. Washington Vanderlip was an engineer whose negotiations with Russia drew considerable attention in the USA. The New York Times wrote that Vanderlip, speaking from Russia, denied reports of Lenin’s speech to “Moscow activists” that the concessions would serve Bolshevik geopolitical interests, with Vanderlip declaring that he had established a common frontier between the USA and Russia and that trade relations must be immediately restored.[32] The New York Times reporting in 1922: “The exploration of Kamchatka for oil as soon as trade relations between this country and Russia are established was assured today when the Standard Oil Company of California purchased one-quarter of the stock in the Vanderlip syndicate.” This gave Standard Oil exclusive leases on any syndicate lands on which oil was found. The Vanderlip syndicate comprised sixty-four units. The Standard Oil Company has just purchased sixteen units. However, the Vanderlip concessions could not come into effect until Soviet Russia was recognized by the USA.[33]

The Vanderlip syndicate holds concessions for the exploitation of coal, oil, and timber lands, fisheries, etc., east of the 160th parallel in Kamchatka. The Russian Government granted the syndicate alternate sections of land there and will draw royalties amounting to approximately 5 percent on all products developed and marketed by the syndicate.[34]

It is little wonder then that US capitalists were eager to see the recognition of the Soviet regime.

Bolshevik Bankers

In 1922 Soviet Russia’s first international bank was created, Ruskombank, headed by Olof Aschberg of the Nye Banken, Stockholm, Sweden. The predominant capital represented in the bank was British. The foreign director of Ruskombank was Max May, vice president of the Guaranty Trust Company.[35] Similarly to “the Bolshevik of Wall Street,” William Boyce Thompson, Aschberg was known as the “Bolshevik banker” for his close involvement with banking interests that had channeled funds to the Bolsheviks.

Guaranty Trust Company became intimately involved with Soviet economic transactions. A Scotland Yard Intelligence Report stated as early as 1919 the connection between Guaranty Trust and Ludwig C. A. K. Martens, head of the Soviet Bureau in New York when the bureau was established that year.[36] When representatives of the Lusk Committee investigating Bolshevik activities in the USA raided the Soviet Bureau offices on May 7, 1919, files of communications with almost a thousand firms were found. Basil H. Thompson of Scotland Yard in a special report stated that despite denials, there was evidence in the seized files that the Soviet Bureau was being funded by Guaranty Trust Company.[37] The significance of the Guaranty Trust Company was that it was part of the J. P. Morgan economic empire, which Dr. Sutton shows in his study to have been a major player in economic relations with Soviet Russia from its early days. It was also J. P. Morgan interests that predominated in the formation of a consortium, the American International Corporation (AIC), which was another source eager to secure the recognition of the still embryonic Soviet state. Interests represented in the directorship of the American International Corporation (AIC) included: National City Bank; General Electric; Du Pont; Kuhn, Loeb and Co.; Rockefeller; Federal Reserve Bank of New York; Ingersoll-Rand; Hanover National Bank, etc.[38]

The AIC’s representative in Russia at the time of the revolutionary tumult was its executive secretary William Franklin Sands, who was asked by US Secretary of State Robert Lansing for a report on the situation and what the US response should be. Sands’ attitude toward the Bolsheviks was, like that of Thompson, enthusiastic. Sands wrote a memorandum to Lansing in January 1918, at a time when the Bolshevik hold was still far from sure, that there had already been too much of a delay by the USA in recognizing the Bolshevik regime such as it existed. The USA had to make up for “lost time,” and like Thompson, Sands considered the Bolshevik Revolution to be analogous to the American Revolution.[39] In July 1918 Sands wrote to US Treasury Secretary McAdoo that a commission should be established by private interests with government backing, to provide “economic assistance to Russia.”[40]

Armand Hammer

One of those closely associated with Ludwig Martens and the Soviet Bureau was Dr. Julius Hammer, an emigrant from Russia who was a founder of the Communist Party USA. There is evidence that Julius Hammer was the host to Leon Trotsky when the latter with his family arrived in New York in 1917, and that it was Dr. Hammer’s chauffeured car that provided transport to Natalia and the Trotsky children. The Trotskys were met on disembarkation at the New York dock by Arthur Concors, a director of the Hebrew Sheltering and Immigrant Aid Society, whose advisory board included Jacob Schiff of Kuhn, Loeb and Co.[41] Dr. Hammer was the “primary owner of Allied Drug and Chemical Co.,” and “one of those not so rare creatures, a radical Marxist turned wealthy entrepreneur,” who lived an opulent lifestyle, according to Professor Spence.[42] Another financier linked to Trotsky was his own uncle, banker Abram Zhivotovskii, who was associated with numerous financial interests including those of Olof Aschberg.[43]

The intimate association of the Hammer family with Soviet Russia was to be maintained from start to finish, with an interlude of withdrawal during the Stalinist period. Julius’ son Armand, chairman of Occidental Petroleum Corporation, was the first foreigner to obtain commercial concessions from the Soviet Government. Armand was in Russia in 1921 to arrange for the reintroduction of capitalism according to the new economic course set by Lenin, the New Economic Policy. Lenin stated to Hammer that the economies of Russia and the USA were complementary, and in exchange for the exploitation of Russia’s raw materials he hoped for America’s technology.[44] This was precisely the attitude of significant business interests in the West. Lenin stated to Hammer that it was hoped the New Economic Policy would accelerate the economic process “by a system of industrial and commercial concessions to foreigners. It will give great opportunities to the United States.”[45]

Hammer met Trotsky, who asked him whether “financial circles” in the USA regard Russia as a desirable field of investment? Trotsky continued:

Inasmuch as Russia had its Revolution, capital was really safer there than anywhere else because, “whatever should happen abroad, the Soviet would adhere to any agreements it might make. Suppose one of your Americans invest money in Russia. When the Revolution comes to America, his property will of course be nationalized, but his agreement with us will hold good and he will thus be in a much more favorable position than the rest of his fellow capitalists.[46]

The manner by which Russia fundamentally changed direction, resulting eventually in the Cold War when Stalin refused to continue the wartime alliance for the purposes of establishing a World State via the United Nations Organization, traces its origins back to the divergence of opinion, among many other issues, between Trotsky and Stalin in regard to the role of foreign investment in the Soviet Union.[47] The CFR report had been prescient in warning big business to get into Russia immediately lest the situation changed radically.

Regimented Labor

But for the moment, with Trotsky entrenched as the warlord of Bolshevism, and Lenin favorable towards international capital investment, events in Russia seemed to be promising. A further major factor in the enthusiasm certain capitalist interests had for the Bolsheviks was the regimentation of labor under the so-called “dictatorship of the proletariat.” The workers’ state provided foreign capitalists with a controlled workforce. Trotsky had stated:

The militarization of labor is the indispensable basic method for the organization of our labor forces. . . . Is it true that compulsory labor is always unproductive? . . . This is the most wretched and miserable liberal prejudice: chattel slavery too was productive. . . . Compulsory slave labor was in its time a progressive phenomenon. Labor obligatory for the whole country, compulsory for every worker, is the basis of socialism. . . . Wages must not be viewed from the angle of securing the personal existence of the individual worker [but should] measure the conscientiousness, and efficiency of the work of every laborer.[48]

Hammer related of his experiences in the young Soviet state that although lengthy negotiations had to be undertaken with each of the trades unions involved in an enterprise, “the great power and influence of the trade unions was not without its advantages to the employer of labor in Russia. Once the employer had signed a collective agreement with the union branch there was little risk of strikes or similar trouble.”

Breaches of the codes as negotiated could result in dismissal, with recourse by the sacked worker to a labor court which, in Hammer’s experience, did not generally find in the worker’s favor, which would mean that there would be little chance of the sacked worker getting another job.[49]

However, Trotsky’s insane run in the Soviet Union was short-lived. As for Hammer, despite his greatly expanding and diverse businesses in the Soviet Union, after Stalin assumed power Hammer packed up and left, not returning until Stalin’s demise. Hammer opined decades later:

I never met Stalin—I never had any desire to do so—and I never had any dealings with him. However it was perfectly clear to me in 1930 that Stalin was not a man with whom you could do business. Stalin believed that the state was capable of running everything without the support of foreign concessionaires and private enterprise. That is the main reason I left Moscow. I could see that I would soon be unable to do business there and, since business was my sole reason to be there, my time was up.[50]

Foreign capital did nonetheless continue to do business with the USSR[51] as best as it was able, but the promising start that capitalists saw in the March and November revolutions for a new Russia that would replace the antiquated Czarist system with a modern economy from which they could reap the rewards was, as the 1923 CFR report warned, short-lived. Gorbachev and Yeltsin provided a brief interregnum of hope for foreign capital, to be disappointed again with the rise of Putin and a revival of nationalism and opposition to the oligarchs. The policy of continuing economic relations with the USSR even during the era of the Cold War was promoted as a strategy in the immediate aftermath of World War II when a CFR report by George S Franklin recommended attempting to work with the USSR as much as possible, “unless and until it becomes entirely evident that the U.S.S.R. is not interested in achieving cooperation . . .”

The United States must be powerful not only politically and economically, but also militarily. We cannot afford to dissipate our military strength unless Russia is willing concurrently to decrease hers. On this we lay great emphasis.

We must take every opportunity to work with the Soviets now, when their power is still far inferior to ours, and hope that we can establish our cooperation on a firmer basis for the not so distant future when they will have completed their reconstruction and greatly increased their strength. . . . The policy we advocate is one of firmness coupled with moderation and patience.[52]

Since Putin, the CFR again sees Russia as having taken a “wrong direction.” The current recommendation is for “selective cooperation” rather than “partnership, which is not now feasible.”[53]

The Revolutionary Nature of Capital

Should the fact that international capital viewed the March and even the November Revolutions with optimism be seen as an anomaly of history? Oswald Spengler was one of the first historians to expose the connections between capital and revolution. In The Decline of the West he called socialism “capitalistic” because it does not aim to replace money-based values, “but to possess them.” H. G. Wells, it will be recalled, said something similar. Spengler stated of socialism that it is “nothing but a trusty henchman of Big Capital, which knows perfectly well how to make use of it.” He elaborated in a footnote, seeing the connections going back to antiquity:

Herein lies the secret of why all radical (i.e. poor) parties necessarily become the tools of the money-powers, the Equites, the Bourse. Theoretically their enemy is capital, but practically they attack, not the Bourse, but Tradition on behalf of the Bourse. This is as true today as it was for the Gracchuan age, and in all countries . . .[54]

It was the Equites, the big-money party, which made Tiberius Gracchu’s popular movement possible at all; and as soon as that part of the reforms that was advantageous to themselves had been successfully legalized, they withdrew and the movement collapsed.[55]

From the Gracchuan Age to the Cromwellian and the French Revolutions, to Soros’ “color revolutions” of today, the Russian Revolutions were neither the first nor the last of political upheavals to serve the interests of Money Power in the name of “the people.”

 Notes

[1] K. R. Bolton, “March 1917: Wall Street & the March 1917 Russian Revolution,” Ab Aeterno, No. 2 (March 2010).

[2] Michael Pearson, The Sealed Train: Journey to Revolution: Lenin–1917 (London: Macmillan, 1975).

[3] Paul Warburg, prior to immigrating to the USA, had been decorated by the Kaiser in 1912.

[4] Col. William Wiseman, head of the British Secret Service, was the British equivalent to America’s key presidential adviser, Edward House, with whom he was in constant communication. Wiseman became a partner in Kuhn, Loeb & Co. From London on May 1, 1918 Wiseman cabled House that the Allies should intervene at the invitation of the Bolsheviks and help organize the Bolshevik army then fighting the White Armies in a bloody Civil War at a time when the Bolshevik hold on Russia was doubtful (Edward M. House, ed. Charles Seymour, The Intimate Papers of Col. House [New York: Houghton, Mifflin Co., 1926], Vol. III, p. 421).

[5] Olof Aschberg of the Nye Banken, Stockholm, the so-called “Bolshevik banker” who became head of the first Soviet international bank, Ruskombank, channeled funds to the Bolsheviks. On September 6, 1948 The London Evening Star commented on Aschberg’s visit to Swiss bankers that he had “advanced large sums to Lenin and Trotsky in 1917. At the time of the revolution Mr. Aschberg gave Trotsky money to form and equip the first unit of the Red Army.”

[6] Samuel Gompers, “Soviet Bribe fund Here Says Gompers, Has Proof That Offers Have Been Made, He Declares, Opposing Recognition. Propaganda Drive. Charges Strong Group of Bankers With Readiness to Accept Lenin’s Betrayal of Russia,” The New York Times, May 1, 1922. Online at Times’ archives: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9E00E3D81739EF3ABC4953DFB3668389639EDE [3]

[7] Henry Wickham Steed, “Through Thirty Years 1892–1922 A personal narrative,” The Peace Conference, The Bullitt Mission, Vol. II.  (New York: Doubleday Page and Co., 1924), p. 301.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Charles Seymour, 165–66. House was assigned by Wilson to draw up the constitution for the League of Nations, and in 1918 formed a think tank at Wilson’s request, called The Inquiry, to advise on post-war policy, which became the Council on Foreign Relations. House was the US chief negotiator at the Peace Conference in Paris, 1919–1920.

[12] Henry Wickham Steed, “Peace with Honor,” Paris Daily Mail, 28 March 1922; quoted in Steed (1924).

[13] Crane was a member of a 1917 Special Diplomatic Mission to Russia, and a member of the American Section of the Paris Peace Conference in 1919.

[14] H. W. Steed, 1924, op. cit.

[15] Antony Sutton, Wall Street and the Bolshevik Revolution (New York: Arlington House Publishers, 1974), p. 71.

[16] Ibid., p. 75.

[17] Ibid., p. 73.

[18] William Harlan Hale, “When the Red Storm Broke,” America and Russia: A Century and a Half of Dramatic Encounters, ed. Oliver Jensen (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1962), p. 150.

[19] Ibid., p.151.

[20] “Gives Bolsheviki a Million,” Washington Post, 2 February 1918, cited by Sutton, ibid., pp. 82–83.

[21] A. Sutton, op.cit., p. 8.

[22] W. Harlan Hale, op.cit., p. 151.

[23] Trotsky while still in the USA had made similar claims. “People War Weary. But Leo Trotsky Says They Do Not Want Separate Peace,” New York Times, March 16, 1917. This was why he became the focus of British intelligence efforts via R. H. Bruce Lockhart, special agent to the British War Cabinet in Russia.

[24] “Bolsheviki Will Not Make Separate Peace: Only Those Who Made Up Privileged Classes Under Czar Would Do So, Says Col. W. B. Thompson, Just Back From Red Cross Mission,” New York Times, January 27, 1918.

[25] Robert S. Rifkind, ‘”The Wasted Mission,” America and Russia, op. cit., p. 180.

[26] Peter Grose, 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 [4] (Accessed on February 27, 2010).

[27] Ibid. Chapter: “Basic Assumptions.”

[28] H. G. Wells, Russia in the Shadows, Chapter VII, “The Envoy.” Wells went to Russia in September 1920 at the invitation of Kamenev, of the Russian Trade Delegation in London, one of the leaders of the Bolshevik regime. Russia in the Shadows appeared as a series of articles in The Sunday Express. The whole book can be read online at: gutenberg.net.au/ebooks06/0602371h.html [5]

[29] V. I. Lenin, December 6, 1920, Collected Works, 4th English Edition (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1965), Volume 31, 438–59 http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1920/dec/06.htm [6] (Accessed on August 4, 2010).

[30] Ibid.

[31] A. Hammer, Witness to History (Reading, England: Hodder and Stoughton, 1988), pp.151-152.

[32] “Vanderlip’s Empire,” The New York Times, December 1, 1920, 14.

[33] “Standard Oil Joins Vanderlip Project,” The New York Times, January 11, 1922, p. 1.

[34] Ibid.

[35] Antony Sutton, Wall Street and the Bolshevik Revolution (New York: Arlington House Publishers, 1974), pp. 62–63.

[36] “Scotland Yard Intelligence Report,” London 1919, US State Dept. Decimal File, 316-22-656, cited by A. Sutton, ibid., p. 113.

[37] Basil H. Thompson, British Home Office Directorate of Intelligence, “Special Report No. 5 (Secret),” Scotland Yard, London, July 14, 1919; cited by Sutton, ibid., p. 115.

[38] A Sutton, op.cit., pp. 130–31.

[39] Sands’ memorandum to Lansing, p. 9; cited by Sutton, ibid., pp. 132, 134.

[40] A. Sutton, ibid., p. 135.

[41] Richard B Spence, “Hidden Agendas: Spies, Lies and Intrigue Surrounding Trotsky’s American Visit, January-April 1917,” Revolutionary Russia, Vol. 21, #1 (2008).

[42] Ibid.

[43] Ibid.

[44]  A. Hammer, Witness to History, op. cit., p. 143.

[45] Ibid.

[46] Ibid., p. 160.

[47] K. R. Bolton, “Origins of the Cold War: How Stalin Foiled a New World Order,” Foreign Policy Journal, May 31, 2010, http://www.foreignpolicyjournal.com/2010/05/31/origins-of-the-cold-war-how-stalin-foild-a-new-world-order/all/1 [7]

[48] Leon Trotsky, Third All-Russian Congress of Trade Unions, April 6th, 1920. http://www.marxists.org/archive/brinton/1970/workers-control/05.htm [8] (Accessed on August 4, 2010).

[49] A. Hammer, op. cit., p. 217.

[50] Ibid., p. 221.

[51] Charles Levinson, Vodka-Cola (West Sussex: Biblias, 1980). Antony Sutton, National Suicide: Military Aid to the Soviet Union (New York: Arlington House, 1973).

[52] Peter Grose, op. it., “The First Transformation,” http://www.cfr.org/about/history/cfr/first_transformation.html [9]

[53] 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/ [10]

[54] Oswald Spengler, The Decline of The West (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1971), Vol. 2,  p. 464.

[55] Ibid., p. 402.

Source: Ab Aeterno, no. 5, Fall 2010

 


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[3] http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9E00E3D81739EF3ABC4953DFB3668389639EDE: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9E00E3D81739EF3ABC4953DFB3668389639EDE

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

[5] gutenberg.net.au/ebooks06/0602371h.html: http://www.counter-currents.comgutenberg.net.au/ebooks06/0602371h.html

[6] http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1920/dec/06.htm: http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1920/dec/06.htm

[7] http://www.foreignpolicyjournal.com/2010/05/31/origins-of-the-cold-war-how-stalin-foild-a-new-world-order/all/1: http://www.foreignpolicyjournal.com/2010/05/31/origins-of-the-cold-war-how-stalin-foild-a-new-world-order/all/1

[8] http://www.marxists.org/archive/brinton/1970/workers-control/05.htm: http://www.marxists.org/archive/brinton/1970/workers-control/05.htm

[9] http://www.cfr.org/about/history/cfr/first_transformation.html: http://www.cfr.org/about/history/cfr/first_transformation.html

[10] http://www.cfr.org/publication/9997/: http://www.cfr.org/publication/9997/

samedi, 05 octobre 2013

G. A. Zjuganov: “Il nostro Paese non può esistere senza un’idea nazionale”

G. A. Zjuganov: “Il nostro Paese non può esistere senza un’idea nazionale”

Traduzione di Luca Baldelli

Ex: http://www.statopotenza.eu

Il giorno 20 settembre, anticipando la prossima sessione plenaria della Duma di Stato, G A Zjuganov, Presidente del Comitato centrale del Partito comunista della Federazione russa, nonché capogruppo comunista presso la Duma, ha commentato il discorso tenuto il 19 settembre dal Presidente della Federazione Russa, V. V. Putin, al 10° incontro del Forum Internazionale di dibattito “Valdaj” .

Zyuganov-585

Gennadij Andreevich Zjuganov
Presidente del Comitato centrale del Partito comunista, capogruppo del Partito comunista nella Duma di Stato della RF.
“Le dichiarazioni che Putin ha reso ieri al Forum “Valdaj”, le ho personalmente attese per 20 anni – ha affermato, condividendole, Gennadij Zjuganov. – Ciò dal momento che, a partire da Gorbaciov, i leaders che si sono avvicendati alla guida del nostro Paese non hanno detto nulla di tutto questo. A mio parere, questo discorso si sarebbe dovuto tenere prima davanti all’Assemblea federale e alla Nazione tutta, non solo davanti al ristretto pubblico dei rappresentanti stranieri. Credo che esso meriti particolare attenzione nel contesto della discussione che si terrà alla Duma” .
“Putin ha dichiarato, per la prima volta, che il nostro Paese non può esistere senza una idea nazionale – ha sottolineato il capo dei comunisti russi. – La Russia non può esistere senza proseguire nel solco delle sue migliori tradizioni, senza un serio dialogo tra le varie forze politiche per la costruzione di programmi e proposte articolati nell’interesse di tutti i cittadini, non solo di singoli gruppi sociali, per non parlare dell’oligarchia”.
G. A. Zjuganov ha inoltre ricordato che ricorre in questi giorni il 20° anniversario dei fatti che coinvolsero il Soviet Supremo della RSFSR (il colpo di mano di Eltsin, ndr), con tanto di attacco militare alla sede istituzionale. “Poche persone per 50 giorni resistettero alla costruzione dell’autocrazia presidenziale. Si è ripetuto e si continua ad affermare da più parti che lo Stato non dovrebbe avere la loro ideologia, la loro cultura, la loro visione dei fatti. Uno Stato senza forma né anima, uno Stato – mostro, ecco quello che da più parti si vuole; uno Stato che ha dato origine alla corruzione selvaggia e al terribile degrado della società che è sotto gli occhi di chiunque voglia vedere” – ha incalzato, con toni indignati, il leader del Partito comunista.
“Oggi si pretende di porre davanti alla storia il compito di inventare un’idea nazionale. A tal proposito, vorrei ricordare a Putin che l’idea nazionale non è né può essere il parto della testa di qualcuno. Eltsin incaricò Burbulis, Shakhraj e altri come loro di plasmare quest’ idea. Le grandi idee, però, quelle in cui le persone credono, sono sempre nate dalle lotte, dal lavoro, dal dolore, dalle vittorie, dalle sconfitte, dalle scoperte geniali” -  ha rimarcato G. A. Zjuganov.
“Abbiamo creato un’idea nazionale in mille anni di storia. L’essenza di quest’idea è rappresentata da uno Stato forte, ad alto contenuto spirituale, dal senso della comunità, della giustizia naturale. Noi – il popolo della Vittoria – siamo stati in grado di sopravvivere, nella nostra storia, grazie ad una serie di trionfi che ci hanno garantito la libertà, il diritto alla terra, la tutela delle nostre credenze e convinzioni” – ha ricordato  il capo comunista russo.
“Abbiamo iniziato con la grande vittoria sul lago Peipus, presso il quale sono stati sconfitti gli stessi Crociati che, in precedenza, avevano saccheggiato Costantinopoli e la Palestina. Abbiamo quindi affermato il diritto di professare la nostra fede e di sviluppare la nostra cultura. Dalla Battaglia di Kulikovo è sorto lo Stato russo; da Poltava è fiorito l’Impero russo. Abbiamo dimostrato di essere in grado di sviluppare i nostri spazi aperti, basandoci sulle nostre proprie forze” – ha continuato Gennadij Zjuganov.
“Sul campo di Borodino, poi, abbiamo dimostrato di poter battere un avversario forte che aveva raccolto sotto le sue insegne “crociati” di tutta Europa.  Le tre grandi battaglie della Grande Guerra Patriottica – Mosca, Stalingrado e Orel/Kursk -  hanno deciso l’esito della lotta contro le forze oscure del fascismo. In quella guerra uscirono vittoriosi l’Armata Rossa e gli ideali della Rivoluzione d’Ottobre. Voglio suggerire a Putin che è bene lavorare tutti insieme, non dimenticare una qualsiasi di queste pagine di storia. Questa è storia vera, altro che i cascami e la poltiglia del liberalismo che, imperanti per anni, hanno imposto al fondo di tutto la russofobia, l’odio verso tutto ciò che era sovietico, nazionale e genuinamente democratico”, – ha detto il leader del Partito comunista.
“Oggi, la politica interna del governo Medvedev non ha nulla a che fare con l’idea dello Stato-Nazione, con gli ideali che ci hanno assicurato la vittoria e il successo. Non ci può essere uno Stato forte quando l’ultimo immobile viene venduto, quando il 90 per cento delle grandi proprietà sono sotto il controllo degli stranieri. Lo Stato dovrebbe dare l’esempio a tutta la società nel far rispettare la legge, in primo luogo ai membri del Governo”- ha detto Gennadij Zjuganov.
“Non possono esistere uno Stato collettivista e un popolo che lo supporta e lo anima, se si dà la stura ad ogni forma di individualismo. Se tutto è predisposto e studiato per non far lavorare le persone, per deprimere le energie vive della società, se si punta tutto sulle lotterie, sui bagordi, sul gioco d’azzardo, sulle carte, come ci si può meravigliare di ciò che accade? – ha affermato G. A. Zjuganov – Inventano un programma su uno dei più importanti canali televisivi, ed ecco quel che avviene: quasi tutti si siedono in poltrona e giocano del denaro. Un Paese in cui si rincorrono ricchezze virtuali è destinato alla sconfitta. Un Paese può conoscere il successo a una sola condizione: la sua gente deve essere in grado di imparare ed inventare, affermando la propria dignità e dormendo così sonni tranquilli. Tutto questo non è contemplato nelle linee guida della nostra politica interna. Nessun Paese può sperare in qualsivoglia successo se la giustizia sociale viene calpestata. Da noi, il 10% più ricco dispone di un reddito 40-50 volte superiore a quello del 10% più povero. Un divario simile non si riscontra nemmeno nei Paesi dell’Africa. In questo senso siamo diventati lo Stato più ingiusto che esiste” – ha detto Gennadij Andreevich.
“Il nostro Paese non può essere certo prospero e solido, dal momento che il Governo di Medvedev è composto da persone che non se ne intendono di industria. Essi distruggono un settore dopo l’altro. Hanno distrutto il settore dei macchinari, quello dell’elettronica, quello della fabbricazione di strumenti di precisione. Hanno condotto alla prostrazione l’agricoltura, con il risultato di 41 milioni di ettari di terra arabile ricoperta da erbacce. Il sistema dell’istruzione, della formazione, dei tirocini è corrotto a livello di ogni scuola e tutte le famiglie ne sono coinvolte. Si è fatto di tutto per provocare l’indebolimento e la distruzione dell’Accademia delle Scienze, senza ascoltare gli scienziati e l’opposizione politica” – ha sottolineato il leader comunista.
“Purtroppo, dobbiamo registrare un divario enorme tra le parole e le azioni dei capi della Nazione. Per l’affermazione di un’idea nazionale proclamata con lo scudo e la bandiera della Federazione russa, si impone la necessità di una politica saggia ed equilibrata. Servono un nuovo corso e una nuova compagine di governo. Valuto pertanto il discorso di Putin come la giustificazione politica e ideologica di un cambiamento tanto necessario che dovrà essere portato avanti nel corso dell’anno, con le dimissioni dell’attuale Governo. Vediamo cosa accadrà . E’ importante che le idee espresse ieri da Putin siano concretamente realizzate nella vita pratica di tutti i giorni. Se così sarà, siamo pronti fin da adesso a fare la nostra parte, appoggiando il nuovo corso” – ha dichiarato, concludendo, G. A. Zjuganov.

mardi, 07 mai 2013

Relire le Capital au-delà de l’économie

Relire le Capital au-delà de l’économie

Pierre Le Vigan
 
Paul Boccara fut longtemps un des principaux responsables avec Philippe Herzog de la section économique du PCF, des années 1970 aux années 90. Il est resté, contrairement à Philippe Herzog rallié à une vision libérale de l’Europe, attaché à ne pas jeter par-dessus bord l’héritage de la pensée marxiste.
 
Paul Boccara est l’auteur de travaux pertinents à l’époque mais datés sur le capitalisme monopoliste d’Etat (CME). Mais on lui doit aussi des essais regroupés sous le titre Sur la mise en mouvement du ‘’Capital’’ et parus en 1978 (éditions sociales-Terrains). Il y explorait le caractère dynamique et inachevé du Capital de Marx. Il appelait à prolonger Marx dans une réélaboration continue. Il s’attachait aussi à rejeter à la fois l’antihumanisme théorique de Louis Althusser et l’hyper humanisme philosophique de Roger Garaudy (celui des années 70), discutant aussi les conceptions de Maurice Godelier.
 
 
Le dernier essai de Paul Boccara prolonge ces travaux. Ce que l’auteur retient de Marx c’est non pas une doctrine figée mais la tentative de saisir la réalité phénoménale du capitalisme. Paul Boccara retient d’abord le projet fondateur de Marx, celui d’une critique de l’économie politique, autrement dit la volonté d’aller au-delà de l’économie, de reconstruire la société sur d’autres bases que les liens économiques entre les hommes. C’est la veine associationniste de Marx qui est mise en valeur ici. 
 
Avec l’idée d’anthroponomie Boccara reprend l’idée de Marx comme quoi le capitalisme représente une révolution anthropologique 
 
Le point de vue de Marx que Paul Boccara reprend particulièrement est le fait que le capitalisme changerait la nature humaine elle-même, constituant une révolution anthropologique, agissant sur les sphères non économiques de la vie humaine, ce que P. Boccara appelle l’anthroponomie, une idée centrale chez Marx. « En même temps que l’homme agit par ce mouvement de la production sur la nature extérieure  et la modifie, il modifie sa propre nature » (Marx, Le Capital, Livre I). Cette hypothèse de la production de l’homme par lui-même est présente chez Marx dès les Manuscrits de 1844. 

 
En outre, dans la lignée du Livre III du Capital, P. Boccara développe une analyse de la suraccumulation/dévalorisation du capital qui l’amène à mettre en cause avant tout le gaspillage capitaliste des êtres humains. C’est donc moins en fonction (ou pas seulement) de l’objectif d’une efficacité économique supérieure que d’un souci d’aller au-delà de l’économie que l’auteur se réfère à Marx, critique radical de l’économisme. De même, l’auteur développe des points de convergence entre analyses néo-marxistes et analyses néo-keynésiennes, Keynes ayant été pionnier en affirmant que « le développement du capital devient le sous-produit de l’activité d’un casino » (Théorie générale).
 
C’est pourquoi sur de nombreux points, Paul Boccara rejoint les propositions du collectif des « Economistes atterrés ». Très justement, Boccara insiste sur le choix par Marx de formes politiques décentralisées, autogestionnaires, au rebours de ses premières tendances, sous l’influence de la Révolution française, à la reprise des thèmes du centralisme révolutionnaire (Auguste Blanqui) et même de l’invention du concept de dictature du prolétariat. 
 
Marx n’était pas léniniste : il était pour l’autonomie ouvrière !
 
Il y a toutefois 3 points faibles dans les analyses de Paul Boccara. Face au capitalisme mondialisé, il ne comprend pas que la démondialisation est désormais la condition non suffisante mais nécessaire du dépassement du capitalisme et pour le dire plus clairement de la sortie du capitalisme car c’est de cela qu’il doit s’agir. La démondialisation est aussi une conséquence inévitable de la crise écologique. En outre, cette démondialisation ou relocalisation est cohérente par rapport à l’objectif marxiste de désaliénation. 

 
En second lieu, Paul Boccara prône une gouvernance mondiale. Faisant cela, il sous-estime, contrairement à Marx, le rôle nécessaire et persistant du politique. Or, si le politique retentit sur le monde, son lieu privilégié n’est pas le monde au sens de « les terriens » mais les peuples. On habite le monde mais on est citoyen d’un peuple, ou d’une communauté de peuples. 
 
Le libéralisme est anticonservateur au plan sociétal
 
Enfin, P. Boccara semble aveugle, contrairement à Jean-Claude Michéa ou Costanzo Preve - et aussi Francis Cousin -, au fait que le libéralisme est fondamentalement anticonservateur au plan sociétal, et que le capitalisme s’alimente d’une nouvelle culture pseudo-libertaire – le « nouvel esprit du capitalisme » étudié par Luc Boltanski et Eve Chiapello -, une culture qui, au nom de l’autonomie et des « droits » de l’individu aboutit à marchandiser tous les hommes et tout dans l’homme. Une élue du Parti socialiste, Christine Meyer, maire adjointe de Nantes, disait récemment : «En tant que femme de gauche, je fais un lien entre le libéralisme économique qui vise à supprimer toute norme ou règle faisant obstacle à la circulation généralisée des marchandises et la libération infinie des désirs qui elle aussi refuse toute norme ou obstacle.» (Marianne, 27 janvier 2013). On peut imaginer la formidable analyse que Marx aurait fait de ce processus. 
 

samedi, 30 mars 2013

Stalin’s Fight Against International Communism

Stalin’s Fight Against International Communism

By Kerry Bolton stalin-the-enduring-legacy

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

Editor’s Note:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stalin Purges Marxism

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

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

Dissolving the Comintern

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Repudiation of Marxist Doctrine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Family Life Restored

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One observer visiting the USSR explained:

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

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

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

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

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

Kulturkampf

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes

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

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

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

[4] League of Professional Intellectuals.

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

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

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

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

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

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

[11] Ibid., 98.

[12] Ibid., 107.

[13] Ibid., 109.

[14] Ibid., 116.

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

[16] R Service, ibid., 220.

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

[18] R Service, ibid., 222.

[19] Ibid.

[20] Hungarians.

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

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

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

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

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

[26] Ibid., 242.

[27] Ibid.

[28] Ibid.

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

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

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

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

[33] See Chapter V.

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

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

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

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

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

[39] L Trotsky, op.cit.

[40] Ibid.

[41] Ibid.

[42] Ibid.

[43] Ibid.

[44] Ibid.

[45] Ibid.

[46] Ibid.

[47] Ibid.

[48] See below.

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

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

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

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

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

[53] Ibid.

[54] Ibid., 257.

[55] Ibid., p. 258.

[56] Ibid., 352.

[57] Ibid., 353.

[58] Ibid.

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

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

[61] Ibid., 366-367.

[62] Ibid., 366.

[63] Ibid., 371.

[64] Ibid., 376.

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

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

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

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

[69] Ibid., 7

[70] Ibid.

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

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

[73] Ibid., 12.

 


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

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

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

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

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

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

lundi, 25 février 2013

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

Trotski.jpg

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

By Kerry Bolton

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

Editor’s Note:

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

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

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

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

Stalin Correct in Fundamental Accusations Against Trotskyites

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

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

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

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

Trotsky’s Banking Connections

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Max Shachtman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shachtman now expressed his approach unequivocally:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Natalia Sedova Trotsky

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cold War and Beyond

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

National Endowment for Democracy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes

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

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

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

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

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

[7] Ibid.

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

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

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

[12] Spence, ibid.

[13] Wiseman became a partner in 1929.

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

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

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

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

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

[19] Ibid., 160.

[20] Ibid., 221.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[33] Ibid., Chapter III.

[34] Ibid.

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

[36] Ibid., Chapter IV.

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

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

[39] Ibid., 199.

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

[41] Ibid., 204.

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

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

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

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

[46] Ibid., 288.

[47]  Ibid. 293.

[48] Ibid.

[49] Ibid.

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

[51] Ibid.

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

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

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

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

[56] Ibid.

[57] Ibid.

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

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

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

[61] Ibid.

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

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

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

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

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

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

[68] Haberkern, op.cit.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[79] Ibid., p. 209.

[80] Ibid. p 211.

[81] Ibid., p. 234.

[82] Ibid., p. 235.

[83] Ibid., p. 246.

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

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

 


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

lundi, 18 février 2013

Kartographie als imperiale Raumgestaltung

Ute Schneider

Kartographie als imperiale Raumgestaltung
Alexander (Sándor) Radós Karten und Atlanten
 

Ex: http://www.zeithistorische-forschungen.de/

 

Gliederung:

1. Der Kartograph Alexander (Sándor) Radó: Grenzgänger und Spion
2. Die Atlanten und ihre politischen Botschaften
3. Fazit: Überlegungen zur Rezeption und Bedeutung der Karten
Anmerkungen Angaben zur Autorin Zitierempfehlung 
Text:

 

„[...] an der Wand rechts eine Karte des Gebiets, von einem deportierten früheren Offizier gezeichnet, an der linken Wand die Karte der Kommission für wirtschaftliche Planung; auf dieser Karte waren die Plätze der künftigen Fabriken, der Eisenbahnen, des Kanals, der drei Arbeitersiedlungen, der Bäder, der Schulen, der Sportplätze zu sehen, die in der Stadt errichtet werden sollten.“1

 

„L’Affaire Toulaêv“ nannte Victor Serge seinen 1948 in Frankreich publizierten Roman, in dem er den Terror in der Sowjetunion Stalins literarisch verarbeitete. Thema des Romans ist eine sich ins Hysterische steigernde bürokratische Untersuchung als Reaktion auf die Ermordung eines kommunistischen Politikers, die sich bald in die tiefsten Provinzen des Imperiums ausweitete. Maßgebliche Elemente des Romans sind die geopolitischen Bedingungen der Sowjetunion, ihre territoriale Ausdehnung, die Landschaft und die Topographie, die die „Verortungen“ und das Handeln der Akteure leiten und bestimmen. Ein Aspekt verdient besondere Aufmerksamkeit: Die Sowjetunion als Raum politischer Gestaltung wird nicht nur in Diskursen, Wirtschaftsplänen und theoretischen Schriften entworfen, sondern auch visuell erzeugt und genutzt. Die Karte als Repräsentation des Raumes, die einzelne Städte abbildet, aber weitaus häufiger das gesamte Staatsgebiet, liefert den Protagonisten einen „Möglichkeitsraum“,2 in den sie ihre Pläne und damit die Zukunft der Sowjetunion einschrieben.

 

Die nicht wenigen Hinweise auf Karten in diesem Roman werfen verschiedene Fragen nach der Bedeutung von Karten in der Sowjetunion auf, aber auch nach ihrer Rolle bei der Entstehung und Repräsentation von Imperien im Allgemeinen. Beide Aspekte sind von der historischen Forschung noch kaum untersucht worden. Dies hängt - und die Sowjetunion stellt keineswegs einen Einzelfall dar - einerseits mit einer Vernachlässigung des Raumes und seiner kartographischen Repräsentationen auch von Seiten der zeithistorischen Forschung zusammen. Obgleich Karten zur Illustration und Veranschaulichung in der Geschichtswissenschaft weit verbreitet sind, spielen Karten als historische Quellen eine bisher völlig nachgeordnete Rolle.

2

 

Mehr als ein illustrativer Charakter kommt ihnen auch in der gegenwärtigen Debatte über Imperien in aktueller und historischer Perspektive selten zu. Das ist insofern verwunderlich, als gerade die Raumbeherrschung und die Konkurrenz um den Raum zu den zentralen Charakteristika von Imperien zählen.3 So finden sich bei Herfried Münkler zwar insgesamt elf historische Karten, die etwa die Ausdehnung des Seeimperiums der Athener, das russische Imperium und die gegenwärtige globale amerikanische Militärpräsenz abbilden. Im Text gibt es jedoch keine Verweise; und die Tatsache, dass dem Kartographen nirgendwo gedankt wird, legt die Vermutung nahe, dass der Verlag die Karten zur Veranschaulichung ergänzt hat.

 

Spiel(t)en Karten in der Neuzeit in Europa - und diese Einschränkung ist wichtig, solange wir so wenig über die Kartenverwendung in früheren und gegenwärtigen Gesellschaften wissen - für Herrscher und Politiker beim Aufbau eines Imperiums und als Medium der Integration der Bevölkerung eine Rolle? Obgleich Münkler über die Ausbildung von Identität, über Bildungsprogramme sowie den Ausbau von Informations- und Mediensystemen spricht, werden Karten als Instrument, um in den Köpfen der Menschen eine Vorstellung vom Imperium und seiner Bedeutung oder Bedrohung zu verankern, überhaupt nicht thematisiert. Inwieweit stell(t)en Karten ein Mittel der Mobilisierung dar, und welches Bild vermittel(te)n sie?

 

Dass die Bedeutung von Karten im Konstituierungsprozess von Imperien in der Neuzeit nicht gering veranschlagt werden darf, zeigen neuere Untersuchungen zum British Empire. Der Raum des Empire war seit dem frühen 19. Jahrhundert auf Weltkarten projiziert worden, lange bevor eine flächendeckende staatliche Durchdringung erreicht worden war. Durch eine monochrome Markierung in der Signalfarbe Rot oder aus Gründen der Handkolorierung in Rosa war eine Homogenität antipiziert worden, die anfänglich die christlichen Missionen und im späten 19. Jahrhundert Imperialisten wie Cecil Rhodes zur Erschließung und Inbesitznahme neuer Räume antrieb. Der Kartentypus fand weite Verbreitung über Zeitungen und andere Medien, so dass sich das Bild in den Köpfen aller Bewohner des Empire und nicht nur in Großbritannien einprägte. Als kognitive Karte oder mental map fanden Karten des British Empire Eingang in die Memoirenliteratur, Prosa und Poesie und damit in das kulturelle Gedächtnis, so dass man von einem britischen Erinnerungsort sprechen kann.4

3

 

Vor dem Hintergrund der Ergebnisse zum Stellenwert von Karten als politischem und kulturellem Gestaltungsraum bei der Konstruktion des British Empire gewinnt die Frage nach ihrer Rolle bei dem Aufbau anderer Imperien wie etwa der Sowjetunion nach 1917 weitere Relevanz. Dass die Sowjetunion der Kartographie besondere Bedeutung beimaß, brachte sie 1934 durch die Gründung des „Instituts des großen Sowjet-Atlas“ in Moskau zum Ausdruck. Aufgabe dieses Instituts war es, den „größten Atlas“ der Welt zu schaffen.5 Ein Stab von 200 Mitarbeitern und eine Vielzahl von Wissenschaftlern waren mit dem Projekt befasst, das auf drei Bände angelegt war. Die ersten beiden Bände erschienen 1937 und fanden in Deutschland eine gemischte Aufnahme. Der dritte Band, der „Übersichts- und Wirtschaftskarten der ausländischen Staaten“ enthalten sollte, konnte wegen des Zweiten Weltkrieges nicht mehr erscheinen. Der Redakteur dieses dritten Bandes war der Kartograph Alexander (Sándor) Radó (1899-1981), der nach eigenen Angaben auch an den Arbeiten der anderen Bände beteiligt war und sich seit den frühen 1920er-Jahren mit der Herstellung und Verbreitung eines kartographischen Bildes der Sowjetunion befasste.6 Der Schwerpunkt seiner Arbeit lag in der thematischen Kartographie, und das Spektrum reichte von historischen Prozessen bis hin zu wirtschaftlichen und technischen Entwicklungen der damaligen Gegenwart. Dass seine Karten dabei immer auch propagandistische Funktionen erfüllten, stellte nicht nur die Kritik fest, sondern war durchaus beabsichtigt.7 Die Kunst des Kartographen lag für Radó gerade darin, die Botschaft mit geeigneten technischen Mitteln so in die Karte zu zeichnen, dass sie vom Leser verstanden werden konnte. „Durch die Kombination von Zeichengrößen und beabsichtigten Kontrastwirkungen kann im Kartenbenutzer ein ‚furchterregendes‘ oder als Gegenteil ein ‚beruhigendes‘ psychisches Gefühl geweckt werden. Deshalb muß bei der Schaffung dieser Karten mit solchen beim Kartenbenutzer unbewußt auftretenden psychologischen Wirkungen gerechnet werden.“8

 

Radó wollte mit seinen Karten ein Bild der jungen Sowjetunion kreieren, das darauf zielte, im In- und Ausland ihre politisch-historische Entwicklung, ihre gesellschaftlichen und wirtschaftlichen Bedingungen und nicht zuletzt ihre Rolle als politisches Imperium in der Welt hervorzuheben. Da aber jede Karte durch die Standortgebundenheit des Kartographen beeinflusst wird, selbst wenn sie nicht dezidiert zum Zweck der Propaganda entsteht, spiegeln seine Karten auch die wechselvolle Politik der Sowjetunion nach der Revolution wider. Zusammen mit weiteren Karten kam ihnen sogar eine prominente Rolle in der Minderheitenpolitik zu, mit all ihren gewaltsamen Folgen unter Stalin. Bevor einzelne dieser Karten vorgestellt werden, sei kurz ein Blick auf das Leben Radós geworfen, weil es sein Werk beeinflusste und zudem charakteristisch für zahlreiche Biographien des 20. Jahrhunderts ist.

4



1. Der Kartograph Alexander (Sándor) Radó: Grenzgänger und Spion

 

Im Sommer 1968 fertigte der amerikanische Geheimdienst CIA ein geheimes Dossier über Alexander Radó an. Nicht ohne Bewunderung sprach sich der Autor dafür aus, Radó einen Platz im „pantheon of major intelligence figures of the times“ einzuräumen.9 Das Dossier stellt die wesentlichen Etappen im Leben Radós vor, wie sie wenige Jahre später auch in seiner Autobiographie zu lesen waren.10 Diese Memoiren, die unter dem Titel „Deckname Dora“ in West- bzw. „Dora meldet“ in Ostdeutschland erschienen, sind eines der wenigen Selbstzeugnisse, die von Radó bisher zugänglich sind. Das hängt mit seinem Leben in verschiedenen Diktaturen und einer generellen Furcht zusammen, unter diesen politischen Umständen persönliche Dokumente zu hinterlassen. Auch Radós Erinnerungen wurden in der Sowjetunion zensiert und korrigiert, sieht man einmal von den Glättungen ab, die er selbst vorgenommen hat.11

 

Der 1899 in Budapest geborene Alexander Radó entstammte dem vermögenden jüdischen Bürgertum. Als „Sohn bemittelter Eltern“ konnte er nicht nur das Gymnasium besuchen, sondern auch zur „Sommerfrische“ nach Italien und Österreich reisen.12 1918 wurde er einberufen, begann aber parallel dazu ein Jurastudium in Budapest und machte während der Revolution von 1918 die Bekanntschaft revolutionärer Sozialisten. Ende des Jahres trat er der Kommunistischen Partei Ungarns bei. Einer Leidenschaft seiner Kindheit folgend, begann er als Politkommissar für die ungarische „Rote Armee“ Landkarten zu zeichnen, für die es nach dem Zerfall der österreichisch-ungarischen Armee großen Bedarf gab.13 Mit dem Ende der Räterepublik im Jahr 1919 floh Radó nach Wien und später nach Deutschland, wo er in Jena ein Studium der Kartographie begann. Unterbrochen durch mehrfache Reisen in die Sowjetunion, die er immer auch zum Kartographieren und Sammeln von Landkarten nutzte, beendete er sein Studium im Jahr 1924. In diesem Jahr erschien seine erste Karte der Sowjetunion im Braunschweiger Westermann-Verlag. Es folgten weitere Arbeiten über die Sowjetunion für zahlreiche große deutsche Atlanten. Nach eigenen Angaben war es Radó, der „für die Gebiete der UdSSR die sowjetische politische und geographische Einteilung und Terminologie“ einführte.14 Radó verfasste außerdem einen Reiseführer durch die Sowjetunion, der zu einem Standardwerk wurde, und war einer der ersten Kartographen, der die Luftfahrt für die Kartographie nutzte.15 1933 emigrierte Radó mit seiner Familie nach Paris und bereits drei Jahre später in die Schweiz. Jeden Ortswechsel verband Radó jeweils mit der Gründung einer geographischen Nachrichtenagentur, die die europäische Presse mit politischen und wirtschaftlichen Karten belieferte. Die Niederlassung in der Schweiz geschah auf Wunsch Moskaus und mit dem Ziel der Übernahme einer Spionagetätigkeit, zumal Radó „kein Neuling in der konspirativen Tätigkeit“ war.16 Unter dem Decknamen „Dora“ sammelte er militärische Informationen für die Sowjetunion und informierte sie während des Zweiten Weltkrieges etwa über die deutschen Pläne und Truppenbewegungen im Zusammenhang mit dem geplanten Angriff auf die Sowjetunion. Kurz vor der Enttarnung gelang es ihm unterzutauchen, und 1944 floh er schließlich nach Paris.

 

Dort endet die Geschichte von Radós Spionagetätigkeit, und das Buch „Dora meldet“ schließt mit einem Ausblick auf die Schicksale seiner Weggefährten und Mitarbeiter. Den Faden seiner eigenen Biographie knüpft Radó erst mit dem Jahr 1955 an, in dem er „nach langen und schweren Prüfungen [...] endlich in meine Heimat zurückkehren“ konnte.17 Über sein Schicksal zwischen Kriegsende und der Rückkehr nach Ungarn im Jahr 1955 erfahren wir nur, dass er „1948 infolge des Stalinschen Personenkults spurlos verschwunden war“.18 Ihm erging es so wie zahlreichen anderen Kommunisten, die in Spanien und an anderen Fronten für ihre Überzeugung gekämpft hatten. Viele von ihnen waren ebenfalls jüdischer Herkunft, doch nur wenige hatten wie er das Glück, die Straflager zu überleben.19 Die CIA wusste über den Verbleib Radós immerhin zu berichten, dass er in Moskau zu 15 Jahren Arbeitslager in Sibirien verurteilt worden war. Inwieweit es gute Beziehungen oder seine fachlichen Kenntnisse waren, die ihn in ein geophysikalisches Observatorium in die Nähe von Moskau brachten, war auch der CIA nicht bekannt. Der US-Geheimdienst wusste aber, dass Radó dort ein „prisoner with privileges“ war, der sich mit Kartenproblemen und militärischen Navigationssystemen befasste.20

5

 

Im Zuge der Entstalinisierung konnte Radó 1955 nach Ungarn zurückkehren. Beruflich begann er eine neue Karriere in der staatlichen Kartographie, und er zeichnete fortan mit der ungarischen Variante seines Namens: Sándor. Der kommunistische Kosmopolit Radó, der 1920 der sowjetischen KP beigetreten war, setzte mit diesem Wechsel ein Zeichen des Neuanfangs unter Betonung seiner ungarischen Herkunft und Verbundenheit. In beruflicher Hinsicht knüpfte Radó in Ungarn an beide Stränge seines Lebens vor 1945 an - er setzte sowohl seine kartographischen Projekte als auch seine geheimdienstliche Tätigkeit fort. Von letzterem ging zumindest die CIA aus, die Ungarn als eine Art geographisches Spionagezentrum betrachtete. Sukzessive strukturierte Radó die ungarische Kartographie und ihre Publikationen um und machte etwa die dreisprachig erscheinende Zeitschrift „Cartactual“ zu einem vor allem im westlichen Ausland angesehenen Organ.21 1967 begann Radó mit der Erstellung von Karten für die politische Schulung und die Propagandaarbeit. Innerhalb weniger Jahre erschienen mehr als 200 verschiedene Plakatkarten und Kartenblattserien, die in Schulen, Betrieben und Bibliotheken Verwendung fanden. Die Karten informierten über ein breites Themenspektrum, das von den „Überschwemmungen in Ungarn im Jahr 1970“ bis zu den „Errungenschaften und Aufgaben der Industrieentwicklung 1971-1975“ reichte. Der Schwerpunkt lag bei nationalen Themen und den sozialistischen Staaten; einzelne Karten befassten sich aber auch mit dem nichtsozialistischen Ausland.22

 

Seine kartographischen Fähigkeiten und seine Sprachkompetenzen - Radó sprach mindestens sechs Sprachen fließend - beförderten sein internationales Ansehen und seine Macht.23 Mit zahlreichen Ehren ausgezeichnet starb Radó im Jahr 1981. Viele seiner Projekte wurden weit über seinen Tod hinaus fortgeführt, und in Ungarn gilt er bis heute als der Begründer der nationalen und politischen Kartographie.24 Neben seiner politischen Überzeugung, an der Radó sein Leben lang festhielt - er nutzte keine seiner zahlreichen Westreisen zur Flucht -, war es die fachliche Kompetenz, die sein Überleben und eine zweite Karriere ermöglichte. Die Biographie Radós ist insofern nicht untypisch für das 20. Jahrhundert, als es in den sozialistischen Staaten nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg zahlreiche Intellektuelle gab, deren Leben durch die Diktaturen mehrfache Brüche erfahren hatte. György Konrád und Iván Szelényi, die sich intensiv mit der osteuropäischen Intelligenz und ihren Mechanismen des Machterhalts und -ausbaus befasst haben, bezeichneten diesen Intellektuellentypus als „Doppelstaatsbürger von Partei und Fach“. „Ideologische Vertrauenswürdigkeit“ und die fachliche Qualifikation sicherten langfristig die Position dieser Doppelstaatsbürger, unabhängig von politischen Konjunkturen und Richtungswechseln.25

6



2. Die Atlanten und ihre politischen Botschaften

 

2.1. Der „Atlas für Politik Wirtschaft Arbeiterbewegung“. Im Jahr 1930 erschien in Deutschland und ein Jahr später in Japan der erste von drei geplanten Bänden eines Atlasses unter dem Titel „Atlas für Politik Wirtschaft Arbeiterbewegung“. Aus politischen Gründen blieb es jedoch bei diesem ersten Teil, der den Imperialismus zum Thema hat.26 Den Einband hatte John Heartfield gestaltet, und das Vorwort stammte aus der Feder des stellvertretenden Volkskommissars des Äußeren, Fjodor Rothstein, der auf den Zusammenhang von Geographie, Geschichte und Politik hinwies.27 Radó geht in seinen Memoiren und im Vorwort zum Reprint von 1980 auf die Entstehung des Atlasses ein; indem er ihn auf ein Gespräch mit Lenin zurückführt, stellt er sich und sein Werk in eine unmittelbare Traditionslinie zur Russischen Revolution. Diese Verbindung unterstreicht er zusätzlich durch den Hinweis, dass ihm Lenin bei der Kartensuche geholfen habe.28

 

Unterteilt in sechs Kapitel stellt der Atlas auf schwarz-weißen und farbigen Karten politische und wirtschaftliche Themen und Entwicklungen vor. Zahlreiche dynamische Karten markieren mit dicken roten und schwarzen Pfeilen unterschiedliche Beziehungen und Bewegungen zwischen einzelnen Staaten. Die Sowjetunion springt dem Betrachter auf vielen Karten förmlich entgegen, weil sie durch ein kräftiges Rot hervorgehoben wird. Rot ist nicht nur eine Signalfarbe, die Bedeutung markiert und hervorhebt, sondern auch die symbolische Farbe des Sozialismus und Kommunismus.

 

Wie bereits erwähnt, war Rot bzw. Rosa außerdem die Farbe, die Großbritannien seit dem 19. Jahrhundert in der Kartographie zur Hervorhebung des British Empire nutzte. Radó war sich der Wirkung von Farben bewusst und kannte möglicherweise sogar die Karten des Empire; zudem hatte sich die Zuordnung von Rot und Empire nicht nur in Großbritannien durchgesetzt. Indem Radó die Sowjetunion in diesem grellen Rot und monochrom markierte, betonte er sie nicht nur, sondern zeigte den Betrachtern vielmehr, dass das neue Imperium seinen Raum und Platz in der Welt beanspruche und die Konkurrenz mit den alten Imperien aufnehme. Die farbliche Hervorhebung wurde durch die Wahl der Projektion verstärkt, denn die von Radó bevorzugte Mercatorprojektion begünstigte die Flächengröße der Sowjetunion. Die kartographischen Mittel und die Absicht, „plakatartig“ zu wirken, fielen den Rezensenten des Werkes auf, die teilweise äußerst detailliert auf inhaltliche und dar-stellerische Fehler im Atlas eingingen. Die Rezensenten waren sich einig, dass dieser Atlas als ein „hochinteressantes Dokument für die Art sowjetrussischer Propaganda in Deutschland zu werten“ sei.29

 



 
Karte: 'Die Einkreisung der Sowjetunion durch den Britischen Imperialismus'

„Die Einkreisung der Sowjetunion durch den Britischen Imperialismus“
(aus: Radó, Atlas [Anm. 26], S. 91)
 

 

Zahlreiche Karten vermitteln auch das Bild einer isolierten Sowjetunion. Das gilt weniger für eine Karte, die explizit den Titel „Die Isolierung der Sowjetunion in Europa“ trägt, aber kaum mehr als die westlichen Nachbarn von Finnland bis zur Türkei zeigt,30 als vielmehr für solche Karten, die etwa „Das Rüsten zum nächsten Krieg“ zeigen. Eine geradezu „unbewaffnete“ Sowjetunion, die hauptsächlich ihre Grenzen verteidigt, wird dieser Karte zufolge von hochgerüsteten europäischen und asiatischen Staaten eingekreist und bedroht.31 Mit diesem Bild knüpfte Radó an ältere Wahrnehmungsmuster an, die auf Gefühlen von Bedrohung durch die Nachbarn Russlands basierten. Der Atlas, der sich heute in erstaunlich vielen Bibliotheken findet, war aber weit mehr als ein Propagandainstrument; er spiegelt auch die sowjetische Politik und ihre Konjunkturen in den ersten Jahren nach der Revolution wider. Beispiele dafür sind die Benennungen und der Umgang mit den zahlreichen Ethnien im Vielvölkerreich.

 


 
Karte: Die proletarische Großmacht Die Sowjetunion

„Die proletarische Großmacht - Die Sowjetunion“
(aus: Radó, Atlas [Anm. 26], S. 43)
 

 

Während Radó auf allen Karten - mit Ausnahme derjenigen des Zarenreichs - die Benennung „Sowjetunion“ wählt (in unterschiedlichen Schreibweisen), spricht er auf dieser Karte von „Russland“. Hier spiegelt er die russische und städtische Dominanz in der bolschewistischen Partei.32 Sie führte mit dem Sieg und der Ausdehnung der Bolschewiki bis an die Peripherie zu erheblichen Problemen. Denn es stellte sich mit aller Vehemenz die Frage nach dem Umgang mit der multiethnischen Heterogenität. Während vor allem linke Intellektuelle gegen eine „Nationalisierung des sozialistischen Projekts“ votierten,33 sprach sich Lenin für das Prinzip der Ethnizität aus, und Stalin teilte die Sowjetunion in Republiken mit unterschiedlichem Autonomiestatus ein. Diese Politik der Regionalisierung ging mit statistischen Erhebungen und Untersuchungen einher. Das Ergebnis war eine Fokussierung auf die Minderheiten, ihre Klassifizierung und Zuweisung zu bestimmten Territorien, die schließlich auf Karten dokumentiert und mit Grenzen markiert wurden. Die an diesem Prozess beteiligten Experten - „Ethnologen, Orientalisten und Statistiker“ - entwickelten im wahrsten Sinne des Wortes „Kriterien, die es ihnen erlaubten, die ethnische Landkarte neu zu vermessen und das Imperium als Verbund von Nationen zu strukturieren“.34 Die Karten schließlich machten dies sichtbar und erleichterten den zweiten Schritt, eine brutale Sowjetisierungspolitik und die erzwungene Integration in die Union.35

7

 



Karte: Die Lösung der nationalen Frage in der Sowjetunion

„Die Lösung der nationalen Frage in der Sowjetunion“
(aus Radó, Atlas [Anm. 26], S. 157)
 

 

In Radós Atlas erscheinen Ethnien noch wenig relevant. Mit Ausnahme der Karte der „proletarischen Großmacht“, die auf die Republiken auch im begleitenden Text ausdrücklich hinweist, erwähnt Radó sie nicht und zeichnet vielmehr einen homogenen, nationalen Raum. Die Sowjetunion unterscheidet sich damit nicht von der Darstellung der anderen Staaten, die ebenfalls als homogene Blöcke markiert sind. Der Atlas verschweigt aber nicht generell die in der Zwischenkriegszeit virulente Nationalitätenfrage; er dokumentiert Minderheiten in zahlreichen europäischen Staaten und in Nordamerika. Dabei lässt Radó auch die Sowjetunion nicht aus.


 



Karte: Nationalitäten in den Vereinigten Staaten von Amerika

„Nationalitäten in den Vereinigten Staaten von Amerika“
(aus: Radó, Atlas [Anm. 26], S. 145)
 

 

Die beiden Karten unterscheiden sich jedoch grundlegend. Im Fall Nordamerikas präsentiert Radó keineswegs ein monochromes Bild, sondern ein Territorium, das von Reservaten der „Indianer“ - in roten Blöcken dargestellt - und Ansiedlungen der „Neger“ - in schwarzen Kreisen, die sich vor allem im Osten finden - wie ein Flickenteppich durchsetzt ist. Dass Radó sich für die Farben Rot und Schwarz entschieden hat, ist, auf einer symbolischen Ebene betrachtet, durchaus naheliegend und entspricht kartographischen Prinzipien. Auffällig ist aber, dass Rot auch die „weiße“ und asiatische Bevölkerung repräsentiert, obwohl die politische Sympathie Radós bei der „neu entstandenen schwarzen Arbeiterklasse“ lag, deren Aufgabe es sei, „nicht nur die Befreiungsbewegung der Neger in den Vereinigten Staaten von Amerika, sondern auch der kolonial versklavten Negermassen in Afrika und in Mittel- und Südamerika zu führen“.36 In der Gesamtschau werden die Vereinigten Staaten von Amerika von Radó als ein Territorium präsentiert, das in ethnische Gruppen zersplittert ist und sich nicht als homogener Staat entwickeln kann.

 

Die Unterschiede zur Repräsentation der Sowjetunion könnten kaum größer sein. Hier zeigt Radó ausschließlich die politische Gliederung (Karte s.o., Abschnitt 7), während die „fast 200 Nationalitäten“, die er im Begleittext erwähnt, nicht differenziert und lokalisiert werden. Das entspricht der offiziellen Politik der Sowjetunion in den frühen 1920er-Jahren, die den „Gliedstaaten“ sehr unterschiedliche Formen von Autonomie gewährte, aber gerade erst mit der Erstellung differenzierter Karten der ethnischen Verteilung auf der Basis statistischer Erhebungen begann. Die Karte Radós dokumentiert gewissermaßen diesen Prozess der Regionalisierung, in dem sich die Sowjetunion befand. Sieht man einmal von den wenigen Karten zur Nationalitätenfrage ab, repräsentiert Radó die Sowjetunion als einen monochromen und damit homogenen politischen Raum. Indem der Atlas außerdem Bodenschätze und Industrie, Verkehrsverbindungen und militärisches Potenzial auf dem Territorium der Sowjetunion überwiegend verschweigt, erscheint diese rote Fläche ohne die Merkmale, mit denen Radó die „imperialistischen“ Staaten charakterisierte. Hier bot sich - so eine mögliche Lesart - dem „neuen Menschen“ ein breites Betätigungsfeld beim Aufbau einer kommunikativen Vernetzung, bei der Industrialisierung, kurz beim Aufbau eines Imperiums unter der Farbe und den Zeichen des Sozialismus. Erste Erfolge einer solchen Aufbauleistung konnten die Briten im Jahr 1938 zur Kenntnis nehmen, als Radó mit seinem „Atlas of To-day and To-morrow“ „a snapshot photograph of our rapidly changing world“ publizierte.37

8

 

 

 

2.2. „The Atlas of To-day and To-morrow“. Dieser im Format etwas kleinere Atlas enthält in den sechs Kapiteln deutlich mehr Karten, die außerdem in viel ausführlicheren Texten und durch zahlreiche Statistiken erläutert werden. Im Unterschied zum deutschen präsentiert der englische Atlas ausschließlich schwarz-weiße Karten, so dass die Sowjetunion dem Leser trotz der Mercatorprojektion nicht so dominant ins Auge springt. Zudem - hier spiegeln sich die politischen Veränderungen der 1930er-Jahre - vermittelt der Atlas ein anderes Bild der Sowjetunion und ihrer Stellung innerhalb der Staatengemeinschaft. Sie wird als gleichrangige politische, militärische und ökonomische Macht exponiert. Auf einer Karte zum weltweiten militärischen Potenzial erscheint die Sowjetunion längst nicht mehr als der bedrohte, eingekreiste und wehrlose Staat wie noch in der deutschen Ausgabe. Auch wenn sie im Vergleich zu den anderen Staaten nicht über eine umfangreiche Flotte verfügte, so stellte Radó sie hinsichtlich der aktiven Armee bereits als zweitstärkste militärische Macht nach China dar.38

 

Neben der Gleichrangigkeit betont der englische Atlas die Eingebundenheit und Vernetzung der Sowjetunion etwa durch mehrere Kommunikations- und Verkehrskarten, die Radó in diese Ausgabe aufnahm. Die Sowjetunion ist Bestandteil eines globalen Netzwerkes von Kommunikations-, Kapital- und Güterströmen. Dass diese Vernetzung, heute als Globalisierung bezeichnet, nicht nur ein Spezifikum der Sowjetunion war, brachten die Rezensenten zum Ausdruck. Ihr Urteil über den Wert der Karten und deren Informationsgehalt fiel positiver aus als beim deutschen Vorläufer. Zwar fanden die Rezensenten wieder kleinere Fehler, erachteten die Bezeichnungen als „Norwegian“ and „Danish Empire“ als weit herbeigeholt und wiesen auf die politischen Implikationen des Atlasses hin, betonten aber im Gegenzug die besondere Bedeutung des Kartenmaterials und des Atlasses insgesamt, zumal in einer Zeit, in der die Welt schrumpfe.39 Die andere Qualität der Karten, die auf statistischem Material beruhten und zudem durch umfangreiche Statistiken ergänzt wurden, hing einerseits mit den konzentrierten Bemühungen um statistische Erhebungen in der Sowjetunion zusammen, war andererseits aber auch eine Frage des Zugangs. Radó arbeitete seit 1936 in Genf und konnte hier zusätzlich zu dem sowjetischen Material die Bibliothek des Völkerbundes nutzen. Bei der Erstellung der Karten für den Atlas war ihm außerdem die Tochter eines hohen polnischen Beamten des Völkerbundes behilflich, die selbst Kartographin war.40

 

Mehr als eine veränderte kartographische Darstellungsform bietet Radó auch im Umgang mit der Nationalitätenfrage, der in diesem Atlas ebenfalls ein Kapitel gewidmet ist. Zum einen findet sich auch hier wieder eine Karte zur politischen Struktur, die allerdings im Gegensatz zur deutschen Ausgabe die einzelnen Republiken grafisch deutlich voneinander abgrenzt. Russland erscheint als monochromer Block, durchsetzt von einzelnen autonomen Territorien, während die Republiken der Föderation in der Schraffur deutlich hervorgehoben und unterschieden werden. Die zugehörige Statistik enthält zudem genaue Angaben zu den jeweiligen Bevölkerungszahlen. Die Karte gibt zwar auch die offizielle Politik der 1920er-Jahre wieder, zieht im Gegensatz zur deutschen Ausgabe aber klare Grenzen zwischen den Teilrepubliken und bildet damit, obgleich es um die politische Struktur geht, einen weiteren Schritt bei der Klassifikation von ethnischen Minderheiten ab. Der Prozess von nationalen Zuschreibungen und Zuordnungen war eine Folge der sowjetischen „Indigenisierung und Nationalisierung von Herrschaft“,41 die nicht selten zuerst auf Karten dokumentiert wurde.

9



Karte: Political Structure of the Soviet Union

„Political Structure of the Soviet Union“
(aus: Radó, The Atlas [Anm. 37], S. 59)
 

 

Nachdem unter Stalin die Politik der Sowjetisierung und eine gewaltsame Unterdrückung der Minderheiten einsetzte, zeigten diese Karten den „Feind“ im Innern; sie konnten zu seiner Verortung und zu gezielten politischen Maßnahmen genutzt werden. Aus Moskau berichten Zeitzeugen, dass es Ende der 1930er-Jahre dort geradezu eine Obsession war, Nachbarn und Kollegen nach ihrer ethnischen Zugehörigkeit zu klassifizieren.42 Einer besonderen Gefahr waren gerade die Minoritäten ausgesetzt, die als eine Gefährdung der Homogenität des nationalen Territoriums betrachtet wurden. „Nur national homogene Landschaften waren auch moderne Landschaften“, schreibt Jörg Baberowski zu dieser Ausprägung des Stalinschen Terrors.43 Damit verweist Baberowski auf mentale Kartenbilder wie die von Radó produzierten, die die Sow-jetunion schon in den 1920er-Jahren als eine homogene, moderne Landschaft gezeigt hatten. Dieser Vorstellung folgen letztlich auch die anderen Karten des englischen Atlasses, der die politische Struktur nur auf dieser Karte wiedergibt und die Sowjetunion ansonsten als monochromes Territorium repräsentiert.

 

Von den Nationalstaaten des 19. Jahrhunderts unterschied sich die Sowjetunion unter Stalin wohl im Terror, nicht aber in der Vorstellung von „homogenen Landschaften“. Auch andere Staaten hatten umfangreiche Homogenisierungsprogramme in die Wege geleitet und nationale Minderheiten politisch ausgegrenzt, von ihren Karten ausgeschlossen oder „verortet“, um eine gezielte Politik etwa der Germanisierung durchsetzen zu können. Dass Radó sich dieser Parallelen bewusst war, zeigen seine Karten zu anderen europäischen Staaten, deren Nationalitäten er in sehr differenzierten Karten festhielt.44 Bei der Darstellung der gesamten Sowjetunion folgte Radó dagegen in der Regel dem Homogenisierungsmodell und zeichnete eine monochrome Landschaft herbei, ohne dass sie überhaupt existierte. Er nutzte den „Möglichkeitsraum“ der Karte, um Strukturen, Status und Ziele der Sowjetunion als einer politischen und ideologischen Gemeinschaft festzuhalten. Die Parallelen zum British Empire sind nicht zu übersehen, wo Verbund und Homogenität ebenfalls auf Karten projiziert und antizipiert worden waren.

10



3. Fazit: Überlegungen zur Rezeption und Bedeutung der Karten

 

Da Radó seine Atlanten im Westen publizierte, stellt sich die Frage nach dem Stellenwert und der Wirkung seiner Karten in Europa und in der Sowjetunion. Wer hat sie überhaupt gesehen und benutzt? Im Hinblick auf Europa sprechen die zahlreichen Bibliotheksbestände und die Rezensionen für eine breitere Rezeption. Wer den Atlas letztlich kaufte und las, wissen wir aber nicht genau. Im Fall der Sowjetunion ist davon auszugehen, dass Radó über gute und intensive Kontakte verfügte; er wird für eine Verbreitung des Werks in den Kreisen seiner politischen und professionellen Freunde gesorgt haben. Dass Karten eine große allgemeine Bedeutung zukam, zeigt die Einrichtung einer Kommission zur Erfassung und Untersuchung der Ethnien (KIPS/IPIN), die ihre sozialstatistischen Erhebungen auch kartographisch veranschaulichte. Einen dieser statistischen Atlanten bekam Walter Benjamin in Moskau zu Gesicht, der überhaupt nach seinem Besuch prognostizierte, dass die Landkarte „nahe daran“ sei, „ein Zentrum neuen russischen Bilderkults zu werden wie Lenin Portraits“. Denn „auf der Straße, im Schnee, liegen Landkarten von SSSR, aufgestapelt von Straßenhändlern, die sie dem Publikum anbieten“.45

 

Wie bereits erwähnt, wurde 1934 in Moskau das „Institut des großen Sowjet-Atlas“ gegründet. Radó war an diesem Werk beteiligt, und zahlreiche der dort abgebildeten Karten weisen deutliche Parallelen zu seinen Karten aus den 1920er- und 1930er-Jahren auf. Auch dieser Atlas zeigt eine Karte zur „derzeitigen politischen Einteilung“. Die Republiken werden dort aber nicht als selbstständige politische Einheiten repräsentiert, sondern die gesamte Sowjetunion zeigt sich in monochromem Rot.46 Die rote Farbe wählten die Kartographen auch für eine vierteilige Karte, die die Kollektivierung zwischen 1928 und 1936 abbildet. Der historische Prozess wird farblich untermauert, indem sich die Sowjetunion in der Farbgebung von Gelb über Orange bis zu Rot im Jahre 1936 verändert. Andere Karten in diesem Atlas zeigen den Ausbau einer Infrastruktur in der Sowjetunion und die weltweite Vernetzung, die ihren Ausgangspunkt immer im Zentrum Moskau hat. Deutsche Kartographen, die diesen Atlas in umfassenden Besprechungen würdigten, betonten zwar die Modernität der Karten und die zahlreichen methodischen Anregungen, kritisierten aber auch die „agitatorischen Gesichtspunkte“, die bei zahlreichen Karten im Vordergrund stünden.



Karte: Kollektivierung der Bauernwirtschaften in der UdSSR 1928-1936

Kollektivierung der Bauernwirtschaften in der UdSSR 1928-1936
(aus: Gorkin, Bol’soj sovetskij atlas mira [Anm. 5], S. 159)
 

 

Alle diese Karten bekamen die Menschen in der Sowjetunion in der einen oder anderen Form im Zuge der Regionalisierung und Sowjetisierung und den damit verbundenen Alphabetisierungskampagnen zu Gesicht. Dass die Karten langfristig ein Bild von der Sowjetunion und ihrer Rolle als einer der beiden Weltmächte mitprägten, zeigte sich nach dem Zusammenbruch des Sowjetimperiums. Für viele Menschen innerhalb und vielmehr noch außerhalb der Sowjetunion gehörte das „Auftauchen“ zahlreicher Ethnien zu den überraschenden Erfahrungen, die mit ihrer Vorstellung vom einheitlichen Sowjet-menschen in einem homogenen Staat nicht zusammenpassten. Die jungen Staaten, die im Zuge dieser Auflösung entstanden, mussten und müssen zum Teil bis heute ihren Ort in der Welt noch finden. Relationen wie „Osten“ und „Westen“ haben sich förmlich verschoben, und ein Blick auf die aktuelle Karte lässt in vielen Staaten die Frage nach der Zugehörigkeit zu Europa in einem anderen Licht erscheinen. Im Verbund der alten Sowjetunion war dies ein selbstverständlicher Bestandteil sowjetischer Identität. Die hier vorgestellten Karten veranschaulichten das bis in die 1980er-Jahre vorherrschende Paradigma, das die Ideologie und die imperiale Macht der Sowjetunion mit dem Zentrum in Moskau betonte.47 Zu fragen wäre allerdings, inwieweit gerade die Diskrepanz zwischen „zukunftsorientierten“ und idealisierten Repräsentationen einerseits und alltäglichen Erfahrungen andererseits zur politischen Auflösung des Sowjetimperiums beigetragen hat.

 

Als einziges Medium sind Karten geeignet, die räumliche Ausdehnung in ihren realen Bezügen und als Projektionsraum geopolitischer, zivilisatorischer oder anderer Ambitionen zu veranschaulichen. Das gilt gleichermaßen nach außen wie nach innen. Veranschaulichungen sind ein Bestandteil der „imagined communities“,48 eine Charakterisierung, die sicherlich auch für Imperien ihre Gültigkeit hat. Zu den Bausteinen dieser Gemeinschaften gehören spätestens seit dem 19. Jahrhundert der Raumbezug und die Raumvorstellung, die sowohl auf historische Wurzeln als auch in die Zukunft verweisen.




 
Anmerkungen: 

1 Victor Serge, Die große Ernüchterung. Der Fall Tulajew, Hamburg 1950, S. 116.

2 David Gugerli/Daniel Speich, Topografien der Nation. Politik, kartografische Ordnung und Landschaft im 19. Jahrhundert, Zürich 2002, S. 84.

3 Herfried Münkler, Imperien. Die Logik der Weltherrschaft - vom Alten Rom bis zu den Vereinigten Staaten, Berlin 2005, S. 11ff. Inzwischen liegen einige Arbeiten vor, die das Kartographieren von Imperien untersuchen - in vielen Fällen jedoch, ohne die Karten selbst als Quellen zu betrachten. Vgl. Matthew H. Edney, Mapping an Empire. The Geographical Construction of British India, 1765-1843, Chicago 1997; Francine Hirsch, Empire of Nations. Ethnographic Knowledge and the Making of the Soviet Union, Ithaca 2005. Im Vordergrund stehen die Karten bei Thomas J. Bassett, Cartography and Empire building in Nineteenth-Century West Africa, in: The Geographical Review 84 (1994), S. 316-335.

4 Ute Schneider, Die Macht der Karten. Eine Geschichte der Kartographie vom Mittelalter bis heute, Darmstadt 2004, S. 120ff. Dazu demnächst Zoe Laidlaw, Das Empire in Rot. Karten als Ausdruck des britischen Imperialismus, in: Christof Dipper/Ute Schneider (Hg.), Kartenwelten. Der Raum und seine Repräsentation in der Neuzeit, Darmstadt 2006 (im Druck). Siehe auch William O’Reilly, Zivilisierungsmission und das Netz des British Empire. Sprache, Landvermessung und die Förderung des Wissens 1780 - 1820, in: Boris Barth/Jürgen Osterhammel (Hg.), Zivilisierungsmissionen. Imperiale Weltverbesserung seit dem 18. Jahrhundert, Konstanz 2005, S. 101-124.

5 Aleksandr Fedoroviéc Gorkin (Hg.), Bol’soj sovetskij atlas mira, Moskva 1937; Bruno Krömke, Der Große Sowjet-Weltatlas, in: Zeitschrift für Geopolitik 19 (1942), S. 332-335; H.[ans] Spreitzer, Der Große Sowjet-Weltatlas, in: Zeitschrift der Gesellschaft für Erdkunde zu Berlin 1940, S. 69-74.

6 Sándor Radó, Dora meldet, Berlin (Ost) 1974, S. 89.

7 Jeremy Black sieht wegen des propagandistischen Charakters vor allem in Radós erstem Atlas aus dem Jahre 1930 ein marxistisches Pendant zu nationalsozialistischen geopolitischen Propagandakarten. Zu ihren Aussagen und ihrem Stellenwert bei der Ausbildung eines territorialen Konzeptes und kognitiver Karten ist damit nichts gesagt. Auf die Funktion von Propagandakarten bei der Ausbildung von „Territorialkonzepten“ und ihre prägende Kraft hinsichtlich räumlicher Vorstellungen hat Guntram Herb in verschiedenen Untersuchungen hingewiesen. Siehe auch Jeremy Black, Maps and History. Constructing Images of the Past, New Haven 1997, S. 125f.; Guntram Henrik Herb, Under the Map of Germany. Nationalism and Propaganda 1918-1945, London 1997; ders., Von der Grenzrevision zur Expansion: Territorialkonzepte in der Weimarer Republik, in: Iris Schröder/Sabine Höhler (Hg.), Welt-Räume. Geschichte, Geographie und Globalisierung seit 1900, Frankfurt a.M. 2005, S. 175-203.

8 Sándor Radó, Die Karte als Mittel der politischen Bildung, in: Petermanns Geographische Mitteilungen 118 (1974), S. 75ff., Zitat S. 76.

9 Louis Thomas, Alexander Rado, in: Studies in Intelligence 12 (1968), S. 41-61. Zu dem Bild des „Meisterspions“ hat nicht zuletzt Arthur Koestler beigetragen, der dem ehemaligen Parteigenossen und Kollegen in seiner Biographie ein Kapitel unter dem Titel „Einem Meisterspion zum Gedenken“ widmete. Das gesamte Kapitel steht unter der Vermutung Koestlers, dass Radó, der sich in einem sowjetischen Lager befand, nicht mehr am Leben sei (Arthur Koestler, Die Geheimschrift. Bericht eines Lebens 1932 bis 1940, Wien 1955, S. 318-326).

10 Sándor Radó, Deckname Dora, Stuttgart 1971; ders., Dora meldet (Anm. 6).

11 Karl Schlögel, Im Raume lesen wir die Zeit. Über Zivilisationsgeschichte und Geopolitik, München 2003, S. 230.

12 Radó, Dora meldet (Anm. 6), S. 28f.

13 Ebd., S. 36ff.

14 Alex Radó, Politische und Verkehrskarte der Sowjet-Republiken, Braunschweig 1924; ders., Dora meldet (Anm. 6), S. 88.

15 Ders., Dora meldet (Anm. 6), S. 90f., S. 100-109; ders., Führer durch die Sowjetunion, Moskau 1925; ders., Avio Führer: Führer für Luftreisende, Bd. I: Flugstrecke Berlin - Hannover, Berlin 1929.

16 Ders. , Dora meldet (Anm. 6), S. 17.

17 Ebd. , S. 514.

18 Ebd. , S. 76.

19 Zum „Nach-Krieg“ in der Sowjetunion siehe Jörg Baberowski, Der rote Terror. Die Geschichte des Stalinismus, München 2003, S. 240ff.

20 Thomas, Rado (Anm. 9), S. 48.

21 Ebd., S. 60; Pál Kaszai/Gábor Gercsák, Mass media maps in Hungary. National Report (1997), online unter URL: <http://lazarus.elte.hu/gb/hunkarta/press.htm>.

22 Siehe die Kartenbeispiele in: Radó, Die Karte (Anm. 8), Tafel 7-9.

23 Rudolf Habel, Professor Dr. Sándor Radó 70 Jahre, in: Petermanns Geographische Mitteilungen 113 (1969), S. 318f.

24 Kaszai/Gercsák, Mass media maps (Anm. 21), o.S.

25 György Konrád/Iván Szelényi, Die Intelligenz auf dem Weg zur Klassenmacht, Frankfurt a.M. 1978, S. 292. Zu ähnlichen Karrieren in der DDR siehe Ute Schneider, Hausväteridylle oder sozialistische Utopie? Die Familie im Recht der DDR, Köln 2004, S. 49ff.; Ralph Jessen, Akademische Elite und kommunistische Diktatur. Die ostdeutsche Hochschullehrerschaft in der Ulbricht-Ära, Göttingen 1999, S. 316ff.

26 Alex Radó, Atlas für Politik Wirtschaft Arbeiterbewegung, Bd. 1: Imperialismus, Wien 1930. Die DDR publizierte 1980 ein Reprint des Werkes mit einem Vorwort von „Alex Radó (Prof. Dr. Sándor Radó)“.

27 Eine Abbildung des Atlasses und einzelner Karten findet sich online unter URL: <http://imaginarymuseum.org/MHV/PZImhv/RadoAtlasfurPolitik.html>.

28 Radó, Dora meldet (Anm. 6), S. 60f.

29 Hermann Lautensach, in: Petermanns Geographische Mitteilungen 77 (1931), S. 218 (Zitat); Herbert Rosinski, Das Fiasko des Wirtschaftsatlas I: Rado, in: Die Volkswirte 30 (1931), S. 23ff.

30 Radó, Atlas (Anm. 26), S. 93.

31 Ein Vergleich zwischen der bei Münkler abgebildeten Karte zur militärischen Präsenz Amerikas (Imperien [Anm. 3], S. 276f.) und der Radóschen Karte ergibt ein interessantes Bild der Bedeutung und Wahrnehmung militärischer Macht in imperialen Kontexten. Zur Karte siehe Radó, Atlas (Anm. 26), S. 29. Abbildung unter URL: <http://imaginarymuseum.org/MHV/PZImhv/RadoAtlasfurPolitik.html>.

32 Baberowski, Der rote Terror (Anm. 19), S. 73.

33 Ebd., S. 74.

34 Jörg Baberowski, Stalinismus und Nation: Die Sowjetunion als Vielvölkerreich 1917-1953, in: Zeitschrift für Geschichtswissenschaft 54 (2006), S. 199-213, Zitat S. 205.

35 Hirsch, Empire of Nations (Anm. 3), S. 21-62, S. 145-187. Zum Zusammenhang von Statistik und Kartographie siehe Ute Schneider, „Den Staat auf einem Kartenblatt übersehen!“ Die Visualisierung der Staatskräfte und des Nationalcharakters, in: Dipper/Schneider, Kartenwelten (Anm. 4), S. 11-25.

36 Radó, Atlas (Anm. 26), S. 144.

37 Ders., The Atlas of Today and Tomorrow, London 1938.

38 Ebd., S. 23.

39 Rezensionen ohne Autorenangaben in: Nature 143 (1939), S. 8; G.R.C., in: The Geographical Journal 93 (1939), S. 179.

40 Radó, Dora meldet (Anm. 6), S. 120.

41 Baberowski, Der rote Terror (Anm. 19), S. 75.

42 Ebd., S. 196.

43 Ebd., S. 195-198, hier 198.

44 Radó, The Atlas (Anm. 37), S. 162ff.

45 Walter Benjamin, Moskauer Tagebuch, Frankfurt a.M. 1980, S. 76, S. 135.

46 Gorkin, Bol’soj sovetskij atlas mira (Anm. 5), Karten 78-80.

47 Gertjan Dijkink, National Identity and Geopolitical Visions. Maps of Pride and Pain, London 1996. S. 95-108; Hannes Adomeit, Russia as a „great power“ in world affairs: images and reality, in: International Affairs 71 (1995), S. 35-68. Siehe dazu auch die Karte und den Artikel von Johannes Voswinkel, An Russlands Rändern bröckelt es, in: ZEIT, 25.5.2005, S. 11.

48 Interessanterweise hat Anderson erst die erweiterte Neuauflage seines grundlegenden Buchs um ein Kapitel zu „Zensus, Landkarte und Museum“ ergänzt: Benedict Anderson, Die Erfindung der Nation. Zur Karriere eines folgenreichen Konzepts, Berlin 1998, S. 163-187.



 
Angaben zur Autorin: 
Ute Schneider
HD Dr. Ute Schneider
TU Darmstadt
Institut für Geschichte
Residenzschloss
D-64283 Darmstadt
 
 
 
Position/Tätigkeit: Hochschuldozentin für Neuere und Neueste Geschichte
 
Forschungs- und Interessengebiete: Sozial-, Geschlechter-, Rechts- und Kulturgeschichte Europas im 19. und 20. Jahrhundert; Methodologie der Geschichtswissenschaft
 
wichtigste Veröffentlichungen:
 
Hausväteridylle oder sozialistische Utopie? Die Familie im Recht der DDR, Köln 2004
 
Die Macht der Karten. Eine Geschichte der Kartographie vom Mittelalter bis heute, Darmstadt 2004
 
(Hg., mit Christof Dipper), Kartenwelten. Der Raum und seine Repräsentation in der Neuzeit, Darmstadt 2006 (im Druck)
 
 
(Stand: Januar 2006)


 
Zitierempfehlung: 

Ute Schneider, Kartographie als imperiale Raumgestaltung. Alexander (Sándor) Radós Karten und Atlanten, in: Zeithistorische Forschungen/Studies in Contemporary History, Online-Ausgabe, 3 (2006), H. 1, URL: <http://www.zeithistorische-forschungen.de/16126041-Schneider-1-2006>

Beim Zitieren einer bestimmten Passage aus dem Aufsatz bitte zusätzlich die Nummer des Textabschnitts angeben, z.B. 12 oder 14-16.

jeudi, 31 janvier 2013

Entkommunifizierung - Das undurchführbare Projekt in Kroatien

Entkommunifizierung

Das undurchführbare Projekt in Kroatien

http://www.neue-ordnung.at/ 

Neue Ordnung (Graz), IV/2012

vonDr. Tomislav  Sunic

 Nach dem Ende des Kalten Krieges und der kommunistischen Gewaltherrschaft gab es ein weitverbreitetes Bedürfnis nach einer Entkommunifizierung des öffentlichen Lebens in großen Teilen der Bevölkerung Osteuropas. Bürger, die früher Opfer des Kommunismus in Osteuropa waren, verwenden das Wort ‚lustracija’ – eine lateinische Ableitung, die häufig falsch ins Englische als ‚lustration‘ [dt. Reinigung] übertragen wird, die allerdings nicht jene Konnotation einer politischen Säuberung hat wie in englischsprachigen Ländern. Im Kroatischen, Serbischen oder Tschechischen bezeichnet ‚lustracija’ den starken Wunsch und das Bedürfnis, die frühere kommunistische Obrigkeit – von deren Mitgliedern noch immer viele als öffentliche Angestellte, Diplomaten oder Korrespondenten aktiv sind – aus ihrer Position zu entfernen oder zur Rechenschaft zu ziehen.

su3758129066.pngZur Kennzeichnung der gegenwärtigen juristischen und politischen Debatte in Osteuropa lautet der beste Begriff ‚dekomunizacija‘ (Entkommunifizierung), da er in spezifischer Weise das erlittene Unrecht der früheren Opfer des Kommunismus benennt, wobei er gleichzeitig auf die immer noch präsenten kommunistischen Kader und ihre Mitläufer fokussiert. Verstehen läßt sich das Konzept der „lustracija“ bzw. Entkommunifizierung in Kroatien sehr leicht. Die rechtliche Umsetzung ist jedoch beinahe unlösbar. Warum ist das so?

Der Wunsch vieler kroatischer Opfer des Kommunismus nach der Absetzung ex-kommunistischer Bürokraten basiert teilweise auf den abscheulichen Entdeckungen zahlloser Massengräber kroatischer und deutscher anti-kommunistischer Soldaten und Zivilisten, die 1945 und später von den siegreichen jugoslawischen Kommunisten ermordert worden waren.

Die Befürworter der Entkommunifizierung in Kroatien zitieren oft die Europaratsresolution 1481 vom 3. Februar 2006, in der frühere kommunistische Verbrechen scharf verurteilt werden. Diese Resolution ist jedoch rechtlich nicht bindend, und ihre Annahme war weit entfernt von einer generellen Übereinstimmung (99 Abgeordnete stimmten dafür, 42 dagegen).

Es gab eine Menge inoffizieller Kritik in Bezug auf den Wortlaut der Resolution, besonders in Rußland, wobei jedoch auch in Westeuropa insbesondere von vielen linkslastigen Politikern und Journalisten ebenso scharfe Kritik geübt wurde.

 Die kroatische Identität: politische Schizophrenie

Die kleinen Nationen, die nach dem Ende des Kommunismus auf der Landkarte erschienen, fällt es schwer, sich ihrer eigenen Identität bewußt und sicher zu sein. Eine von diesen Nationen ist Kroatien. Noch vor jedem etwaigen Beitritt zu einer supranationalen Gemeinschaft, sowie zur stark herbeigesehnten EU oder NATO, ist es notwendig, daß das offizielle Kroatien seine Identität findet. Sollte es diese im Rahmen antifaschistischer oder antikommunistischer Grundsätze begründen?

In Kroatien deutet die gegenwärtige politische Debatte auf ein schizophrenes Land. Einerseits zementiert die kroatische Verfassung die antifaschistische Hinterlassenschaft des Landes – während gleichzeitig jede Erwähnung des antikommunistischen Erbes peinlich vermieden wird. Andererseits haben Kroatien und seine Politiker über die ganze Zeit seit der Wiedergeburt des Landes im Jahre 1990 lautstark die antikommunistischen Insignien und Abzeichen präsentiert und sogar Sprachfiguren verwendet, die dem Diskurs des früheren antikommunistischen, profaschistischen und pronazistischen Kroatien aus der Zeit des Zweiten Weltkrieges ähneln (Währung, Medaillen, einige archaische Ausdrücke usw.).

Sollte sich Kroatien dafür entscheiden, antikommunistische Klauseln in die Verfassung aufzunehmen, wie es viele Bürger nunmehr öffentlich befürworten, so wäre die gesamte politische Klasse Kroatiens mit internationaler Isolierung konfrontiert. Im heutigen neoliberalen, globalen System ist es äußerst erwünscht sich „antifaschistisch“ zu nennen, nicht aber „antikommunistisch“.

Es ist offensichtlich, daß die beharrlichsten Unterstützer des Antikommunismus in ganz Europa die Faschisten und profaschistischen Intellektuellen in der ersten Hälfte des 20. Jahrhunderts waren. Trotz ihres hastig angenommenen neo-liberalen Standpunktes und ihrer proisraelischen und proamerikanischen Reden stehen die kroatischen Politiker unter genauer Beobachtung der EU und den wachsamen Augen diverser jüdischer Gruppierungen mit Basis in Amerika und Israel. Diese Gruppierungen werden es nie müde, die kroatische, herrschende Klasse davor zu warnen, in einen „rechten Nationalismus“ abzugleiten.

Das veranschaulicht die bemerkenswerte Tatsache – die häufig erwähnt wird – daß in den Augen der Eliten, welche die westliche Politik beherrschen, ein ethnischer Nationalismus zwar für Juden und viele weitere Menschengruppen legitim ist, nicht jedoch für Europäer.

Aus deren Sichtweise kommt sogar ein Ans-Licht-Bringen der Abscheulichkeiten des Kommunismus einer Verteidigung von Kroatiens faschistischer Vergangenheit nahe. Deshalb ist es nicht überraschend, daß die neue kroatische politische Klasse in diesen Fragen versucht, metaphorisch gesprochen päpstlicher zu sein als der Papst. Jedoch erschweren solche Einstellungen die Entkommunifizierung und führen lediglich zur weiteren Verharmlosung der von jugoslawischen Kommunisten verübten Verbrechen.

Eine ähnliche Geisteshaltung herrscht auch in Deutschland vor, wenngleich in weit massiverem und subtilerem Sinne. Weil der Nationalsozialismus zum ultimativen Symbol des Bösen wurde, glaubt sich Deutschland gezwungen, permanent seine demokratische Glaubwürdigkeit beweisen zu müssen, indem es alle etwaigen Zeichen eines Wiederauflebens des Faschismus attackiert.

Auf der heutigen internationalen Bühne wird zu den Verbrechen des Kommunismus wenig gesagt. Während des zweiten Weltkrieges waren die kommunistischen Partisanen in Osteuropa Hauptverbündete der Westalliierten im Krieg gegen den Nationalsozialismus und Faschismus. Beim postmodernen viktimologischen Geschacher verschiedener Ethnizitäten und Rassen würde allerdings jedwede Erwähnung kommunistischer Massenverbrechen in Osteuropa rein quantitativ die diesbezüglich führende der jüdischen Opfer Rolle in den Schatten stellen. Zudem würde es den quasi-religiösen Kult um das Wort „Antifaschismus“ zweifelhaft werden lassen. Das gilt besonders für Kroatien mit seinen starken Verbindungen zu Deutschland während des Zweiten Weltkrieges.

Darüber hinaus würde eine kritische Untersuchung des Kommunismus auch die überproportionale Anzahl jüdischer Intellektueller ans Licht bringen, die eine bedeutende Rolle bei der geistigen Legitimierung des Kommunismus spielten (siehe Johannes Rogalla von Bieberstein, „Jüdischer Bolschewismus.“ Mythos und Realität, 2003).

Politik: Die Kunst des Zufalls

Die antifaschistischen Säuberungen bzw. „Lustrationen“ haben nicht unter den siegreichen Sowjets begonnen, sondern wurden von den westlichen Alliierten noch vor dem offiziellen Ende des zweiten Weltkrieges in die Wege geleitet. Im Spätsommer 1944 fing die amerikanische provisorische Militärregierung in Frankreich an, unterstützt von der französischen kommunistischen résistance, drakonische Gesetze zu diktieren gegen Schriftsteller, Journalisten, Professoren und in der Öffentlichkeit bekannte Intellektuelle, die der Kollaboration mit dem besiegten pro-faschistischen Regime von Pétain-Laval verdächtigt wurden.

Ein Jahr später waren die ersten, die in Deutschland ins Fadenkreuz der amerikanischen Militärregierung gerieten – noch vor den Prozessen der nationalsozialistischen Würdenträger beim Nürnberger Tribunal – die Lehrer, Journalisten und Professoren, die verpflichtet waren, spezielle Fragebögen auszufüllen. Millionen von Menschen, insbesondere hochgebildete Deutsche, verloren ihren Arbeitsplatz – nur um zu Beginn des Kalten Krieges im Jahre 1948 schleunigst wieder eingesetzt zu werden (siehe Caspar von Schrenck-Notzing, Charakter-Wäsche, 1963).

sun_dub_2011.jpgWährend des Kalten Krieges waren die Amerikaner intelligent genug, das Wannseeinstitut des SD anzuzapfen, ein auf höchster Ebene angesiedeltes Spionagebüro, das mit der SS verbunden war. Das Institut wurde von dem jungen Rechtsanwalt Major General Walter Schellenberg (1910-1952) geführt. Während des Zweiten Weltkrieges nutzte Schellenberg die Fähigkeiten vieler hochqualifizierter europäischer Akademiker, deren Aufgabe es war, die kommunistische Mentalität zu analysieren. In späterer Zeit, nach dem Kriege, waren viele sich mit Sowjetologie und Kremlforschung befassende US-basierte Denkfabriken weitgehend nach dem Muster der nationalsozialistischen, deutschen Einrichtung Wannseeinstitut SD strukturiert.

Ähnliche Methoden der Durchführung von „Fragebögen“ und „Untersuchungen“ über frühere pro-faschistische Verdächtigte wurden von den siegreichen kommunistischen Autoritäten in Jugoslawien gegen Ende von 1945 angewandt, und das auf sehr viel repressiverem Niveau. Es resultierte in Massenhinrichtungen kroatischer Spitzenakademiker und Intellektueller, die der Kollaboration mit den Nationalsozialisten verdächtigt wurden. (Siehe Zoran Kantolic, Review of Croatian History, 2005, # 1).

Heute jedoch ziehen die Vereinigten Staaten und die Europäische Union den Umgang mit kommunistischen Apparatschiks vor, die sich in „liberale Beamte“ verwandelt haben und nun von den baltischen Staaten bis hin zum Balkan – darunter Kroatien – führende Stellen besetzen. Den Politikern in Washington und Brüssel fällt es leichter, mit früheren jugoslawischen Kommunisten zu kooperieren, als mit unberechenbaren serbischen und kroatischen Nationalisten, die sprichwörtlich nicht gut aufeinander zu sprechen sind.

Hypothetisch betrachtet kann man sagen, daß Amerika – wäre der Kalte Krieg 1989 in einen heißen Krieg zwischen den USA und der UdSSR umgeschlagen – alle verfügbaren antikommunistischen und nationalistischen Kräfte ausgenutzt hätte, um den Kommunismus zu besiegen. Wäre dies geschehen, so hätte alle früheren kroatischen Kommunisten und ihre Meßdiener in den Medien, den Universitäten und der höheren Bildung ein ähnliches Schicksal ereilt, wie die Mitglieder der Baath- Partei Saddam Husseins im Irak 2002: sie hätten entweder ihren Kopf oder ihren Arbeitsplatz verloren.

So hätte es nur eines Zufalles der Geschichte bedurft, und es wären die rechtsorientierten Intellektuellen und Akademiker an der Macht gewesen.

Die Phänomenologie zufälligen Geschehens und des Zufallsfaktors in der Geschichte wurde vom ersten kroatischen Präsidenten Franjo Tudjman in seinem Buch The Wasteland of Historical Reality (1989) beschrieben. Jedoch ist Tudjman aufgrund seiner revisionistischen Schriften in westlichen Regierungsstellen zur persona non grata geworden, und Kroatien ist in den Verdacht geraten, ein paläo-faschistisches und antisemitisches Land zu sein. In der Geschichtsbetrachtung wandelt sich ein Held oft zum Schurken.

 Die Psychologie des Homo iugoslavensis.

Es gibt heutzutage kaum einen kroatischen Nationalisten, der nicht wenigstens einen Cousin hat, der im Zweiten Weltkrieg mit den kommunistischen Partisanen kämpfte. Auf welche Weise sollte also der Prozeß der Entkommunifizierung initiiert werden, wenn das unausweichlich einen Effekt auf die Leben eben jener Menschen bedeutet, die mit diesem Prozeß der Entkommunifizierung beginnen müssten? Die Anzahl der Ex-Kommunisten in der sogenannten konservativen und nationalistischen Partei, der Christlich Demokratischen Partei (HDZ) oder der größten Regierungspartei, der sozialistischen SDP in Kroatien ist enorm.

Die in den höchsten Ämtern befindlichen Diplomaten in Kroatien sind ehemalige kommunistische Journalisten und Diplomaten. Auf den Gängen des kroatischen Außenministeriums kursiert der Spruch, daß „die moderne kroatische Diplomatie ein ideales Refugium für recycelte ehemalige kommunistische Journalisten, Spitzel und Verräter“ sei, oder-- um es poetischer auszudrücken--für „Auslandskorrespondenten“.

sunic-against_democracy_and_equality_the_european_new_right.jpgHeutzutage besteht trotz der scharfen antikommunistischen Rhetorik, die nirgendwo im Westen ihresgleichen hat, in Zagreb ein großer Teil der philosophischen Fakultät und auch der Politikwissenschaften (den Hauptzentren der öffentlichen Meinung) aus Männern und Frauen, deren Eltern eingefleischte Kommunisten waren. Auf welche Weise sollte dort aufgeräumt werden? Es ist recht leicht sie kenntlich zu machen, aber unmöglich hier eine ‚lustracija’ durchzuführen.

Ein beispielhafter Fall: Im Jahre 1984 wurden mein Vater, der frühere katholische Rechtsanwalt Mirko Sunic und meine Schwester, die Professorin Mirna Sunic, zu jeweils 4 Jahren bzw. 10 Monaten Gefängnis verurteilt, gemäß Artikel 133 der Strafgesetzgebung im kommunistischen Jugoslawien – einem Gesetz das „feindliche Propaganda“ unter Strafe stellte. Die Anklagen wurden von dem staatlichen kommunistischen Anwalt Ante Nobilo erhoben. Später wurde Mirko Sunic von Amnesty International und 15 amerikanischen Kongressabgeordneten als politischer Gefangener anerkannt und betreut. Zur gleichen Zeit erhielt ich, während ich in den Vereinigten Staaten lebte, dort politisches Asyl.

Gegenwärtig ist Nobilo ein angesehener  Berater der neuen linksgerichteten kroatischen Regierung, ebenso wie Budimir Loncar, der zu der Zeit, wo mein Vater und meine Schwester eingesperrt wurden, Bundessekretär des Außenministeriums im kommunistischen Jugoslawien war. Nobilo und Loncar spielen häufig die Gastgeber für ausländische NGOs und sind verantwortlich für die Beurteilung von Kroatiens Menschenrechtsbericht und die Toleranz gegenüber nicht-europäischen Immigranten.

Ähnliche Fälle können zu Tausenden aufgezählt werden, wenn nicht gar Hunderttausenden, wenn man die Zeitspanne kommunistischen Terrors von 1945 bis 1990 in Betracht zieht (siehe Mirko Sunic, Moji inkriminirani zapisi, [Meine inkriminierten Schriften], 1996).

Wenn man derselben Logik weiter folgen wollte, so sollte nicht vergessen werden, daß der antikommunistische und revisionistische Präsident, der frühere Franjo Tudjman höchstselbst die hohe Position eines kommunistischen Generals in Belgrad in den späten 1950ern innehatte – der Zeit der schlimmsten kommunistischen Unterdrückung. Wenn er nichts gewußt haben soll von den Massenmorden, die von den Kommunisten verübt wurden, von wem soll man es dann annehmen? Und wie soll man Tudjman dann beurteilen oder seine revisionistische Tätigkeit einschätzen?

Die Schuld „dem anderen“ zuzuschreiben ist ein typisches Merkmal totalitären Geistes. Es ist lebendig und agil im öffentlichen und geschäftlichen Leben im heutigen Kroatien, ebenso wie in der kroatischen Rechtsprechung. Das gleiche Muster tritt jedoch im gesamten post-kommunistischen Europa auf. Es gibt einen Ausdruck, der den Kommunismus in seiner gesamten Geschichte charakterisiert: „Nein, ich nicht! Der da ist schuldig! Der hat die Schuld! Nicht ich! Der da!“

Es wird oft vergessen, daß der Kommunismus nicht eine Abweichung von der Demokratie war, sondern die Demokratie zu ihrem Extrem gebracht – der „Terror aller gegen alle in allen Instanzen“ (terreur totale de tous contre tous à  tous les instants (Claude Polin, L’Esprit totalitaire, 1977). Die jugoslawischen Kommunisten hatten ihre schlimmsten Feinde nicht in der katholischen Kirche oder den immer sprichwörtlichen kroatischen Nationalisten, sondern inmitten ihrer eigenen Reihen und Kader. Man beachte das ewige gegenseitige Abschlachten innerhalb der Linken anfangend beim Spanischen Bürgerkrieg bis hin zu den unablässigen stalinistischen Säuberungen in der Sowjetunion.

Wer orchestrierte den Kriege von 1991?

Es gibt eine ernsthafte These vorzubringen. Wurde der Krieg von 1991 im ehemaligen Jugoslawien von früheren kommunistischen Kadern Kroatiens und Serbiens orchestriert? Wurde er ausgelöst durch die Fehde zwischen regionalen kommunistischen Geheimdienst-Offizieren? Wie erklärt man die Tatsache, daß sowohl der nationalistische Kroate Franjo Tudjman als auch sein serbischer Gegenspieler Slobodan Milosevic von einer enormen Anzahl früherer kommunistischer Geheimdienst-Offiziere umgeben waren – ganz zu schweigen davon, daß sie beide überzeugte Mitglieder der jugoslawischen, kommunistischen Partei gewesen waren? Wie wäre die Entwicklung im kommunistischen Ex-Jugoslawien verlaufen, wenn sowohl in Serbien als auch in Kroatien hochgebildete nicht-kommunistische Exil-Politiker an der Spitze des jugoslawischen Staates gestanden hätten? Dies ist eine gute Frage für Historiker, Soziologen und Futurologen.

Den größten Fehler begingen die im Exil befindlichen stark nationalistischen und antikommunistischen Kroaten. Genaugenommen machten sie einen tödlichen Fehler. Ihre enorme finanzielle und militärischen Hilfe für Kroatien – im Werte von Milliarden von Dollars – hätte verknüpft sein müssen mit der Entfernung der alten kommunistischen kroatischen Kader und der geschlossenen Rückkehr der Exilkroaten in ihr altes Heimatland. Dies hätte eine günstige soziologische Balance ergeben und auf bedeutende Weise die heutigen Spannungen zwischen kommunistisch erzogenen Kroaten und nationalistischen Kroaten verringert.

Da jedoch diese kroatischen Nationalisten nicht zurückkehrten, scheint jedwede mögliche Entkommunifizierung – oder ‘lustracija’, wie die Kroaten sie nennen – moralisch und logistisch undurchführbar, weil sie große Verwerfungen in der Bevölkerung erforderlich machen und unweigerlich zum Bürgerkrieg führen würde. Dennoch kann dieses sehr gewalttätige Szenario nicht ganz ausgeschlossen werden.

Dieses ganze Phänomen der sogenannten Säuberungen oder „lustration“ ist in der Geschichte nichts Neues. Nach dem Sturz Napoleons hatte der französische König Ludwig XVIII in der Ära der Restauration seine früheren Gegenspieler kooptiert, indem er den meisten napoleonischen Offizieren immer noch einen reduzierten Sold (demi soldes) ausbezahlte, denn er wußte, daß er andererseits in Frankreich mit Chaos und Terrorismus hätte rechnen müssen. Auf ähnliche Art hat der spanische Diktator Francisco Franco seinen früheren Gegnern, den besiegten spanischen Republikanern, klugerweise kleine Pensionen ausgezahlt.

Und dennoch hat das Phänomen der geschichtlichen Zufälle und Launen seine eigenen kosmischen Gesetze, die der menschlichen Analyse unzugänglich bleiben. Der rumänisch-französische Essayist Emile Cioran hat geschrieben, daß man mehr Wahrheit und Gerechtigkeit finde in der Alchemie des Mittelalters oder den Eingeweiden römischer Wildgänse als in dem Geschwafel von Demokratie, Gerechtigkeit, Glück und Wohlstand.

 Dr. Tomislav (Tom) Sunic ist US-kroatischer Schriftsteller, Übersetzer, Professor für Politwissenschaft und ehemaliger Diplomat. Er lebt zurzeit in Kroatien.    www.tomsunic.com

 

Cultural Communism

communism-party.jpg

Cultural Communism & the Inegalitarian Basis of All Genuine Art

By Jonathan Bowden

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

Edited by Alex Kurtagić 

Editor’s Note: 

The Following is an excerpt from Blood, written between April and May 1992. It is part of a much longer discussion about art, where Bowden explores one of his favorite themes: the art of the radical Left versus the art of the radical Right.

Here he outlines the idea—ignored or denied nowadays—that, since all genuine artistic activity is predicated on human inequality, the pursuit of radical equality in the arts means the destruction of all possible art. The text has been only lightly edited for punctuation, spelling, and capitalization.

According to Stewart Home and other denizens of Smile magazine, a communist-nihilist publication, the Situationists, whom he calls the ‘specto’-Situationists to differentiate them from the artists who followed in their wake, were guilty of bourgeois abstraction. They were guilty of the cardinal sin—in such circles—of idealism, of not basing their thought on a materialist grounding, a perspective of limiting matter and limitless class struggle.

The view of Home and his acolytes (if there are any) is that [Guy] de Bord and [Raoul] Vaneighem were guilty of theoretical deviation, an ideological detour around the bourgeois houses. This was an ideological faux pas that led them to endorse art, hierarchy, and bourgeois values at the moment when they proclaimed their destruction.

In a sense, when Home itemized the fringe and necessarily inadequate achievements of these artists, certainly in terms of artistic creation—Metzger’s auto-destructive art, for instance—he wishes to counter-point the poverty of Situationist theory. What he actually did was to point out the inadequacies—intellectual and technical—of the reductio ad absurdum, ‘sin bin’ avantgarde.

His main point was that a Utopian tradition of anarchy, ecstasy, and plebeian fury had animated a string of counter-cultural authors and artists—Coppe, Blake, Sade, Lautremont, the Surrealists, etc. . . . This is a neat theory, it must be admitted—a form of misstatement, when what we want to say is that this is a necessary fiction on which the author can hang a dissident tradition. It is a tradition, moreover, which dissents against a localized phenomenon, namely against modernism, which is purely a 20th-century event, a happening of modernity as its name suggests.

What this critique wishes to establish, however, is a continuity of rebellion in relation to pre-existing artistic structures—an argument that brings it perilously close to a form of self-serving addenda, whereby lettrism, for instance, can be classified as on a par with the libertarian Christian poetry of William Blake. This is something that ultimately serves the ends of cultural distortion—the assimilation and absorbtion of difference, the denial of quality and hierarchy in relation to culture.

The basic point of Home’s critique, however, involves a certain amount of nostalgia, a respectful nod in the direction of Dadaism, in particular the Dadaist idea that anything can be a work of art. Whereas Surrealism always insisted, under [André] Breton’s tutelage, that anyone can produce art—in the latter case by a dextrous manipulation of unconscious forces that can be used to create. ‘Everyone dreams! Everyone can create Art!’, ran the catch-phrase.

Situationism, on the other hand, at least the specto-Situationist variant that Home is prepared to recognize, believed that everyone should destroy art by achieving its futility at the moment of its recreation—its final gasp. The Post-Situationism that Home’s analysis favoured, all of which is laid out in his book, Assault on Culture, is a form of mannerist council communism—with an individualist twang—in the realm of art. Hence, we see his advocacy of industrial protest against bourgeois culture, namely an artist’s strike, whereby no artworks would be produced for the art market, thereby marginalizing the fringe artists who were stupid enough to endorse this position!

Home and his associates wish to see a situation where nothing rests easy, where everything is contumacious and unclear, where art has no meaning except as a form of proletarian indulgence—a type of mute and redundant sensibility. Hence, we see the call for artists to strike, an attempt to engineer on behalf of these nihilists a go-slow action, a cultural taint—what we might call a refusal to observe reality, when reality is a minefield of action. (Hence, the exhibition that was entitled Culture on the Ruins; the Ruins of Culture—a show they claim was smashed up. They probably did it themselves!)

In short, Home and his adherents wish to bring about a culture of the ruins, an archaic splendour without the echo—the footfall of the Gods—an attempt at an arrested process of deliverance. Now Home and these other cultural bullies—these vandals of the screen—wish to anaesthesize their audiences. They want to render them mute—silent—spendthrift and withdrawn. Hence, we see the fascination with working-class culture—more accurately, the avoidance of the fact that the proletariat has no culture!

Stewart Home, Installation view at SPACE, London, 2012 [2]

Stewart Home, Installation view at SPACE, London, 2012

For Home, of course, to talk of art is to believe in a form of unity, a type of transcendence beyond class and yet rooted in elitism. These are the things he is in violent rebellion against! Ultimately, what he wants to destroy is not transgression, or even the sublime, the wilfully articulate—no; it is the prospect of transcendence in relation to hieratic order, and his colleagues (it may just be him) are intent on the destruction, through denial, of what is described in such circles as ‘essence’, ‘essentialism’—the fact that reality is rooted in the nature that we see all around is, but which such critiques tend to visualise as nothing more than a sea of bourgeois filth.

Men like Home ultimately want to use art as the final communist frontier—a basic resource in their strategy to attack and degrade art, to leave it no room of manoeuvre, and finally destroy it. The point of this is not purely nihilistic, however, in that Home has a definite political agenda that is somewhat submerged. It is submerged amidst the debris of culture, particularly his own, amongst the shards of a fractured dialectic—but it is there nevertheless. Moreover, it is an attempt to deny any transcendent aspect to culture, thereby degrading it, reducing it to the level of proletarian swill. In short, it is an attempt to come to power in a wasteland of the imagination, where the method of the artists’ strike holds good for all time—hence, the sheer nihilism of its viewpoint, its conspectus of the absence of horror.

Stewart Home, Retrospective at SPACE, London, 2012 [3]

Stewart Home, Retrospective at SPACE, London, 2012

Yet, although there is a strong dose of the merely destructive in this argument, this is by no means all. There is a hidden agenda, unspoken and possibly even unconscious, and this is the desire to come to power (if only in the cultural area) on the backs of a philistine proletariat, on the basis of a plebeian disdain for culture. Thus, the Assault on Cultureis paving the way—in its imagination, of course; in the real world these things are of scant importance—for the destructive power of non-creativity.

Rather like the murderer, the psychopathic killer, who sees all of society as his victims, this Left Communist/Nihilist analysis is designed to leave a lonely T. S. Eliot in his wasteland—in fact, to find a wasteland without an author, T. S. Eliot or anyone else, to transcribe it effectively, when what is opposed is the possibility of transcription, of change in relation to essence; when Home and his colleagues do not know what they want.

On the one hand, they wish to cut the bourgeois out of art, whether the term is used in a social or a ‘Marxist descriptive’ sense, but they have nothing to replace it with. On the other, they dream—in the loose manner of the Left-wing mind—of a complete transformation of the social scene (the response, it must be said, of a severely alienated intellect). This is the sort of intellect that can mystify itself over the prospect of essence, from a strongly materialist position, when what is believed in is positively chiliastic. Namely, this is the idea that all social structures, idealistic concepts (i.e., all forms of recognised religion), every positive and actual cultural affirmation or statement, can be done away with, be destroyed, find itself lonely and abandoned.

Yet, after this momentary act of vandalism, what do we find? Nothing but the fact that the author believes in the prospect of proletarian footling, of the working-class individuality, and collectively replacing culture with another form of culture (whatever that means). With a culture that is so free that it is worth nothing at all—a mere grubbing around in the sand, dust, and ashes of what is left, an attempt to approach what Home would call the free creativity of the universalized proletariat—namely, no art whatsoever. This is a vision that truly resembles psycho-art—the often drug-induced despair and cultural illiteracy of the squat, of the anarcho-punk hatred of existence—i.e., the hatred of themselves. It is the state of mind one sees in the following piece of squat graffiti: the acronym ‘F.O.A.D.’—Fuck Off and Die!

Home ultimately wants to see a somewhat baboonish vision of culture—a veritable Tower of Babel—that people like himself will find easy to control, in that the far Left always consists of conflicting strands, even within the same individual. These consist, on the one hand, of a desire to apply a form of universal humanism—do-goodery, in other words. While the other element, the other admixture, is blindly destructive, wilfully nihilistic, anarchic, vengeful, and without pity. It is essentially a position that exists to mouth its own despair! Particularly when society itself can serve as a vehicle for an individual’s misanthropy. When an individual can vent his or her spleen on the society, on the social whole—especially when the do not have to pay any price for it!

As a consequence, there is a deeply cynical side to this endeavor, an attempt to trap proletarian mores in a way that will have to be denied ever afterwards. Namely, that the absence of working-class culture is used as an excuse to ‘destroy bourgeois culture’—the only form of existing culture—just because of personal dissatisfaction, a feeling of inadequacy, and unfulfillment. In short, nihilistic cultural communism is the rebellion of the fart and the belch—of a distended and inadequate angst on all finer things, particularly when those higher notions go under the general heading of ‘God’.

Nevertheless, Home attempt to go beyond art, to transgress towards a type of culture that bears no relation to what we call art, was bound to fail. It rested too hopelessly on an image of self-achievement, an understanding of a process that was otherwise impossible, namely the free creation of the sovereign proletariat. This is something that would involve the destruction of all possible art, even the avoidance of creativity itself.

What is actually required is a specific understanding of what we mean by art, in particular in relation to the definition that Wyndham Lewis gave of it in The Demon of Progress in the Arts.

Lewis adumbrated several principles of artistic excellence, all of which involved creative expression, literary interpretation, and radical foreknowledge—all of which refers to the fact that creativity has to communicate something; it must enhance the intensity— not the quality, but the intensity—of life, insofar as the one excludes the other.

The artistic act also has to adopt the configuration of the line—draughtmanship as a real token of meaning rather than an indulgence, something to be mastered so that it can be dispensed with after the act.

It also has to marshall and order experience in relation to a creative gesture, so that it does not have to come to rely on sensuous impressions in a manner that is passive or unduly effeminate.

All of which relates very strongly to the artistic theory of Greenberg, Herbert Reed, or Clive Bell—all of whom posited a sensuous or impressionistic art criticism against the hard-edged rationality, the masculinity, and diachronic insight that Lewis favored.

Another thing that the observer has to be aware of is the notion of art as a form of hierarchical ordination, an understanding of the fact that art is hieratic, religious, and occasionally spiritual. (This analysis should not be overdone, but a spiritual dimension to life cannot be ignored.)

In a sense it is a recognition of the purity of the process, the fact that art has a genuinely apolitical element attached to it, and that human inequality is the basis for all genuine artistic activity.

Moreover, when we mention the term ‘apolitical’, we do not declare an absence of social consideration—far from it—merely an understanding of the fact that art impinges on things that are slightly beyond the category of machine-guns and butter, even though without machine-guns and butter, of course, there could be no art.

Source: http://www.wermodandwermod.com/newsitems/news240120131723.html [4]

 


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

URL to article: http://www.counter-currents.com/2013/01/cultural-communism-and-the-inegalitarian-basis-of-all-genuine-art/

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samedi, 13 octobre 2012

Political Correctness is the Communism of the 21st Century

Dr. S. Trifkovic:

Political Correctness is the Communism of the 21st Century

00:10 Publié dans Entretiens | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0) | Tags : communisme, political correctness, entretien | |  del.icio.us | | Digg! Digg |  Facebook

dimanche, 16 septembre 2012

Léon Trotski et le cinéma comme moyen de conditionnement de masse

leon-trotsky_1171376728_thumbnail.jpg

Nicolas BONNAL:

Léon Trotski et le cinéma comme moyen de conditionnement de masse (et de remplacement du christianisme)

 
 
En 1923, Trotski est encore au pouvoir en URSS. Il rédige un ensemble de textes sur la question du mode de vie : un de ces textes concernant l’utilisation du cinéma comme moyen de propagande et d’élimination de toute vie religieuse et chrétienne. Comme le cinéma a essentiellement servi à cette fonction au XXe siècle, avant que la télévision ne le remplace (la gluante demi-heure du Seigneur n’aura rien changé, sinon accéléré le processus), je préfère citer ce texte qui montre qu’un programme global de déchristianisation a été mis en oeuvre aussi bien dans le monde communiste que dans celui dit libre du libéralisme et de la démocratie. Cela ne fait que conformer les analyses de Kojève sur la Fin de l’Histoire et la création du petit dernier homme nietzschéen par-delà les frontières politico-stratégiques.
Trotski cherche donc à divertir et éduquer les masses. Il remarque l’intrusion du cinéma dans la vie quotidienne et son inutilisation par les Bolcheviks - on est avant le cuirassé Potemkine ! :
« Le désir de se distraire, de se divertir, de s’amuser et de rire est un désir légitime de la nature humaine... Actuellement, dans ce domaine, le cinématographe représente un instrument qui surpasse de loin tous les autres. Cette étonnante invention a pénétré la vie de l’humanité avec une rapidité encore jamais vue dans le passé. »
 
Le cinéma s’impose vite à ses yeux comme un moyen de dressage des masses - pardon, d’éducation ! Même le dessin animé a une fonction de dressage de l’enfance, comme le montre le monde de Walt Disney ou celui de Tex Avery aux USA. On peut aussi penser à Charlot ou au cinéma de Frank Capra, caricaturaux dans leurs ambitions éducatives et mimétiques.
 
« C’est un instrument qui s’offre à nous, le meilleur instrument de propagande, quelle qu’elle soit - technique, culturelle, antialcoolique, sanitaire, politique ; il permet une propagande accessible à tous, attirante, une propagande qui frappe l’imagination ; et de plus, c’est une source possible de revenus. »
La source possible de revenus a été bien exploitée du côté de Hollywood en tout cas, avec les plus grosses fortunes de l’époque ! Comme on sait, il règne une entente cordiale à l’époque entre l’URSS et l’Amérique de Roosevelt. Le cinéaste communiste et stalinien Eisenstein y sera reçu comme un roi quelques années plus tard. Je cite Eisenstein intentionnellement car il mêle subtilement dans son oeuvre le religieux (orthodoxe) et le cinématographe. Il le fait dans son chef d’oeuvre Alexandre Nevski et surtout dans Ivan le terrible. Ce n’est pas un hasard puisque l’un doit détrôner l’autre, après l’avoir vampirisé. Voici comment Trotski présente son affaire :
« Le cinématographe rivalise avec le bistrot, mais aussi avec l’Eglise. Et cette concurrence peut devenir fatale à l’Eglise si nous complétons la séparation de l’Eglise et de l’Etat socialiste par une union de l’Etat socialiste avec le cinématographe. »
 
Trotski a une vision politique et cynique de la religion, comme Hitler ou Napoléon, et sans doute bien d’autres politiciens : pour lui elle est un spectacle que l’on pourrait remplacer.
« On ne va pas du tout à l’église par esprit religieux, mais parce qu’il y fait clair, que c’est beau, qu’il y a du monde, qu’on y chante bien ; l’Eglise attire par toute une série d’appâts socio-esthétiques que n’offrent ni l’usine, ni la famille, ni la rue. La foi n’existe pas ou presque pas. En tout cas, il n’existe aucun respect de la hiérarchie ecclésiastique, aucune confiance dans la force magique du rite. On n’a pas non plus la volonté de briser avec tout cela. »
 
436px-leon_trotsky.jpgIl perçoit dans l’Eglise un ensemble de rites et de techniques dont on ferait bien de s’inspirer. C’est ce que font les gens du showbiz comme Coppola (les Baptêmes), les grandes messes ou bien sûr Madonna. Comme le rappelle Whoopi Goldberg dans Sister Act, les gens préfèrent aller à Las Vegas et payer que se rendre à la messe pour écouter gratis du chant sacré. The show is better ! Se voulant réaliste, Trotski ajoute :
« Le divertissement, la distraction jouent un énorme rôle dans les rites de l’Eglise. L’Eglise agit par des procédés théâtraux sur la vue, sur l’ouïe et sur l’odorat (l’encens !), et à travers eux - elle agit sur l’imagination. Chez l’homme, le besoin de spectacle, voir et entendre quelque chose d’inhabituel, de coloré, quelque chose qui sorte de la grisaille quotidienne -, est très grand, il est indéracinable, il le poursuit de l’enfance à la vieillesse. »
 
Optimiste pour l’avenir, Trotski estime que le cinéma remplacera l’Eglise et le reste parce qu’il offre un show plus riche et plus varié.
« Le cinématographe n’a pas besoin d’une hiérarchie diversifiée, ni de brocart, etc. ; il lui suffit d’un drap blanc pour faire naître une théâtralité beaucoup plus prenante que celle de l’église. A l’église on ne montre qu’un "acte", toujours le même d’ailleurs, tandis que le cinématographe montrera que dans le voisinage ou de l’autre côté de la rue, le même jour et à la même heure, se déroulent à la fois la Pâque païenne, juive et chrétienne. »
 
On comprend dès lors l’importance politique, psychologique, culturelle du cinéma comme moyen de dressage de masses et même des élites, puisqu’on a fait des westerns et des films de propagande des chefs d’oeuvre du genre humain et que l’on a créé le syndrome du film-culte souvent de genre satanique ou contrôle mental. Je pense aussi aux films catastrophes, éducateurs de masses en temps de crise (c’est-à-dire tout le temps) et aux films conspiratifs comme ceux de Tony Scott, qui vient de mourir d’une curieuse mort. Le réalisateur d’Ennemi d’Etat a tristement fini comme Daniel Gravotte, alias Sean Connery, jeté d’un pont dans l’Homme qui voulut être roi, mort éminemment pontife et symbolique. J’en profite pour rappeler la mort bizarre d’un certain nombre de cinéastes spécialistes du genre : Stanley Kubrick, Alan J.Pakula, Peter George (scénariste de Dr Folamour), les passionnants documentalistes Aaron Russo et Alan Francovitch. Le lecteur pourra se faire une idée en se penchent sur leur cas. Mais gare à la conspiration !
 
Je laisse encore une fois la parole à Trotski, ce grand homme et visionnaire inspirateur, si honteusement traité par le méchant Staline ! Pour beaucoup de gens à Hollywood ce fut d’ailleurs sa seule victime !
« Le cinématographe divertit, éduque, frappe l’imagination par l’image, et ôte l’envie d’entrer à l’église. Le cinématographe est un rival dangereux non seulement du bistrot, mais aussi de l’Eglise. Tel est l’instrument que nous devons maîtriser coûte que coûte!"
 

vendredi, 20 janvier 2012

Pourquoi relire Koestler?

Arthur-Koestler-001.jpg

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).

mardi, 10 janvier 2012

The Moscow Trials in Historical Context

The Moscow Trials in Historical Context

Kerry Bolton

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

Abstract

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.

Introduction

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