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mercredi, 26 février 2020

The Two Faces Of Russia And Germany’s Eastern Problems


Oswald Spengler:

The Two Faces Of Russia And Germany’s Eastern Problems

An address delivered on February 14, 1922, at the Rhenish-Westphalian Business Convention in Essen

First published in Spengler, Politische Schriften (Munich, 1932).

Ex: https://europeanheathenfront.wordpress.com

In the light of the desperate situation in which Germany finds itself today -- defenseless, ruled from the West by the friends of its enemies, and the victim of undiminished warfare with economic and diplomatic means -- the great problems of the East, political and economic, have risen to decisive importance. If from our vantage point we wish to gain an understanding of the extremely complex real situation, it will not suffice merely to familiarize ourselves with contemporary conditions in the broad expanses to the east of us, with Russian domestic policy and the economic, geographic, and military factors that make up present-day Soviet Russia. More fundamental and imperative than this is an understanding of the world-historical fact of Russia itself, its situation and evolution over the centuries amid the great old cultures -- China, India, Islam, and the West -- the nature of its people, and its national soul. Political and economic life is, after all, Life itself; even in what may appear to be prosaic aspects of day-to-day affairs it is a form, expression, and part of the larger entity that is Life.

One can attempt to observe these matters with "Russian" eyes, as our communist and democratic writers and party politicians have done, i.e., from the standpoint of Western social ideologies. But that is not "Russian" at all, no matter how many citified minds in Russia may think it is. Or one can try to judge them from a Western-European viewpoint by considering the Russian people as one might consider any other "European" people. But that is just as erroneous. In reality, the true Russian is basically very foreign to us, as foreign as the Indian and the Chinese, whose souls we can likewise never fully comprehend. Justifiably, the Russians draw a distinction between "Mother Russia" and the "fatherlands" of the Western peoples. These are, in fact, two quite different and alien worlds. The Russian understands this alienation. Unless he is of mixed blood, he never overcomes a shy aversion to or a naïve admiration of the Germans, French, and English. The Tartar and the Turk are, in their ways of life, closer and more comprehensible to him. We are easily deceived by the geographic concept of "Europe," which actually originated only after maps were first printed in 1500. The real Europe ends at the Vistula. The activity of the Teutonic knights in the Baltic area was the colonization of foreign territory, and the knights themselves never thought of it in any other way.



Soviet architecture, 1920s

In order to reach an understanding of this foreign people we must review our own past. Russian history between 900 and 1900 A.D. does not correspond to the history of the West in the same centuries but, rather, to the period extending from the Age of Rome to Charlemagne and the Hohenstaufen emperors. Our heroic poetry, from Arminius to the lays of Hildebrand, Roland, and the Nibelungs, was recapitulated in the Russian heroic epics, the byliny, which began with the knights at the court of Prince Vladimir (d. 1015), the Campaign of Igor, and with Ilya Muromets, and have remained a vital and fruitful art form through the reigns of Ivan the Terrible and Peter the Great, the Burning of Moscow, and to the present day. [1] Yet each of these worlds of primeval poetry expresses a very different kind of basic feeling. Russian life has a different meaning altogether. The endless plains created a softer form of humanity, humble and morose, inclined to lose itself mentally in the flat expanses of its homeland, lacking a genuine personal will, and prone to servility. These characteristics are the background for high-level politics in Russia, from Genghis Khan to Lenin.

(1. Cf. my The Decline of the West, II, 192ff.)

Furthermore, the Russians are semi-nomads, even today. Not even the Soviet regimen will succeed in preventing the factory workers from drifting from one factory to another for no better reason than their inborn wanderlust. [2] That is why the skilled technician is such a rarity in Russia. [3] Similarly, the home of the peasant is not the village or the countryside into which he was born, but the great expanses. Even the mir or so-called agrarian commune -- not an ancient idea, but the outgrowth of administrative techniques employed by the tsarist governments for the raising of taxes -- was unable to bind the peasant, unlike his Germanic counterpart, to the soil. Many thousands of them flooded into the newly developed regions in the steppes of southern Russia, Turkestan, and the Caucasus, in order to satisfy their emotional search for the limits of the infinite. The result of this inner restlessness has been the extension of the Empire up to the natural borders, the seas and the high mountain ranges. In the sixteenth century Siberia was occupied and settled as far as Lake Baikal, in the seventeenth century up to the Pacific.

(2. Cf. several stories of Leskov, and particularly of Gorki.)

(3. Except perhaps in the earlier arteli, groups of workers under self-chosen leaders, which accepted contracts for certain kinds of work in factories and on estates. There is a good description on an artel’ in Leskov’s The Memorable Angel.)

Even more deep-seated than this nomadic trait of the Russians is their dark and mystical longing for Byzantium and Jerusalem. It appears in the outer form of Orthodox Christianity and numerous religious sects, and thus has been a powerful force in the political sphere as well. But within this mystical tendency there slumbers the unborn new religion of an as yet immature people. There is nothing Western about this at all, for the Poles and Balkan Slavs are also "Asiatics."

The economic life of this people has also assumed indigenous, totally non-European forms. The Stroganov family of merchants, which began conquering Siberia on its own under Ivan Grozny [4] and placed some of its own regiments at the tsar’s disposal, had nothing at all in common with the great businessmen of the same century in the West. This huge country, with its nomadic population, might have remained in the same condition for centuries, or might perhaps have become the object of Western colonial ambitions, had it not been for the appearance of a man of immense world-political significance, Peter the Great.

(4. Grozny means "the terrifying, just, awe-inspiring" in the positive sense, not "the terrible" with Western overtones. Ivan IV was a creative personality as was Peter the Great, and one of the most important rulers of all time.)

There is probably no other example in all of history of the radical change in the destiny of an entire people such as this man brought about. His will and determination lifted Russia from its Asiatic matrix and turned it into a Western-style nation within the Western world of nations. His goal was to lead Russia, until then landlocked, to the sea -- at first, unsuccessfully, to the Sea of Asov, and then with permanent success to the Baltic. The fact that the shores of the Pacific had already been reached was, in his eyes, wholly unimportant; the Baltic coast was for him the bridge to "Europe." There he founded Petersburg, symbolically giving it a German name. In place of the old Russian market centers and princely residences like Kiev, Moscow, and Nizhni-Novgorod, he planted Western European cities in the Russian landscape. Administration, legislation, and the state itself now functioned on foreign models. The boyar families of Old Russian chieftains became feudal nobility, as in England and France. His aim was to create above the rural population a "society" that would be unified as to dress, customs, language, and thought. And soon an upper social stratum actually formed in the cities, having a thin Western veneer. It played at erudition like the Germans, and took on esprit and manners like the French. The entire corpus of Western Rationalism made its entry -- scarcely understood, undigested, and with fateful consequences. Catherine II, a German, found it necessary to send writers such as Novikov and Radishchev into jail and exile because they wished to try out the ideas of the Enlightenment on the political and religious forms of Russia. [5]

(5. "Jehova, Jupiter, Brahma, God of Abraham, God of Moses, God of Confucius, God of Zoroaster, God of Socrates, God of Marcus Aurelius, God of the Christians -- Thou art everywhere the same, eternal God!" (Radishchev).)

And economic life changed also. In addition to its ages-old river traffic, Russia now began to engage in ocean shipping to distant ports. The old merchant tradition of the Stroganovs, with their caravan trade to China, and of the fairs at Nizhni-Novgorod, now received an overlay of Western European "money thinking" in terms of banks and stock exchanges. [6] Next to the old-style handicrafts and the primitive mining techniques in the Urals there appeared factories, machines, and eventually railroads and steamships.

(6. Cf. Decline of the West, II, 480f., 495.)



German architecture, 1920s, "Chilehaus" in Hamburg and Berlin Tempelhof

Most important of all, Western-style politics entered the Russian scene. It was supported by an army that no longer conformed to conditions of the wars against the Tartars, Turks, and Kirghiz; it had to be prepared to do battle against Western armies in Western territory, and by its very existence it continually misled the diplomats in Petersburg into thinking that the only political problems lay in the West.

Despite all the weaknesses of an artificial product made of stubborn material, Petrinism was a powerful force during the two hundred years of its duration. It will be possible to assess its true accomplishments only at some distant future time, when we can survey the rubble it will have left behind. It extended "Europe," theoretically at least, to the Urals, and made of it a cultural unity. An empire that stretched to the Bering Strait and the Hindu Kush had been Westernized to the extent that in 1900 there was hardly much difference between cities in Ireland and Portugal and those in Turkestan and the Caucasus. Travel was actually easier in Siberia than in some countries in Western Europe. The Trans-Siberian Railway was the final triumph, the final symbol of the Petrinist will before the collapse.

Yet this mighty exterior concealed an internal disaster. Petrinism was and remained an alien element among the Russian people. In reality there existed not one but two Russias, the apparent and the true, the official and the underground Russia. The foreign element brought with it the poison that caused that immense organism to fall ill and die. The spirit of Western Rationalism of the eighteenth century and Western Materialism of the nineteenth, both remote and incomprehensible to genuine Russian thought, came to lead a grotesque and subversive existence among the intelligentsia in the cities. There arose a type of Russian intellectual who, like the Reformed Turk, the Reformed Chinese, and the Reformed Indian, was mentally and spiritually debased, impoverished, and ruined to the point of cynicism by Western Europe. It began with Voltaire, and continued from Proudhon and Marx to Spencer and Haeckel. In Tolstoy’s day the upper class, irreligious and opposed to all native tradition, preened itself with blasé pretentiousness. Gradually the new world view seeped down to the bohemians in the cities, the students, demagogues, and literati, who in turn took it "to the people" to implant in them a hatred of the Western-style upper classes. The result was doctrinaire bolshevism.

At first, however, it was solely the foreign policy of Russia that made itself painfully felt in the West. The original nature of the Russian people was ignored, or at least not understood. It was nothing but a harmless ethnographic curiosity, occasionally imitated at bals masques and in operettas. Russia meant for us a Great Power in the Western sense, one which played the game of high politics with skill and at times with true mastery.

What we did not notice was that two tendencies, alien and inimical to each other, were operative in Russia. One of these was the ancient, instinctive, unclear, unconscious, and subliminal drive that is present in the soul of every Russian, no matter how thoroughly westernized his conscious life may be -- a mystical yearning for the South, for Constantinople and Jerusalem, a genuine crusading spirit similar to the spirit our Gothic forebears had in their blood but which we hardly can appreciate today. Superimposed on this instinctive drive was the official foreign policy of a Great Power: Petersburg versus Moscow. Behind it lay the desire to play a role on the world stage, to be recognized and treated as an equal in "Europe." Hence the hyper-refined manners and mores, the faultless good taste -- things which had already begun to degenerate in Paris since Napoleon III. The finest tone of Western society was to be found in certain Petersburg circles.

At the same time, this kind of Russian did not really love any of the Western peoples. He admired, envied, ridiculed, or despised them, but his attitude depended practically always on whether Russia stood to gain or lose by them. Hence the respect shown for Prussia during the Wars of Liberation (Russia would have liked to pocket Prussian territory) and for France prior to the World War (the Russians laughed at her senile cries for revanche). Yet, for the ambitious and intelligent upper classes, Russia was the future master of Europe, intellectually and politically. Even Napoleon, in his time, was aware of this. The Russian army was mobilized at the western border; it was of Western proportions and was unmistakably trained for battle on Western terrain against Western foes. Russia’s defeat at the hands of Japan in 1905 can be partly explained by the lack of training for warfare under anything but Western conditions.


Such policies were supported by a network of embassies in the great capitals of the West (which the Soviet government has replaced with Communist party centers for agitation). Catherine the Great took away Poland, and with it the final obstacle between East and West. The climax came with the symbolic journey of Alexander I, the "Savior of Europe," to Paris. At the Congress of Vienna, Russia at times played a decisive role, as also in the Holy Alliance, which Metternich called into being as a bulwark against the Western revolution, and which Nicholas I put to work in 1849 restoring order in the Habsburg state in the interest of his own government.

By means of the successful tradition of Petersburg diplomacy, Russia became more and more involved in great decisions of Western European politics. It took part in all the intrigues and calculations that not only concerned areas remote from Russia, but were also quite incomprehensible to the Russian spirit. The army at the western border was made the strongest in the world, and for no urgent reason -- Russia was the only country no one intended to invade after Napoleon’s defeat, while Germany was threatened by France and Russia, Italy by France and Austria, and Austria by France and Russia. One sought alliance with Russia in order to tip the military balance in one’s favor, thus spurring the ambitions of Russian society toward ever greater efforts in non-Russian interests. All of us grew up under the impression that Russia was a European power and that the land beyond the Volga was colonial territory. The center of gravity of the Empire definitely lay to the west of Moscow, not in the Volga region. And the educated Russians thought the very same way. They regarded the defeat in the Far East in 1905 as an insignificant colonial adventure, whereas even the smallest setback at the western border was in their eyes a scandal, inasmuch as it occurred in full view of the Western nations. In the south and north of the Empire a fleet was constructed, quite superfluous for coastal defense: its sole purpose was to play a role in Western political machinations.

On the other hand, the Turkish Wars, waged with the aim of "liberating" the Christian Balkan peoples, touched the Russian soul more deeply. Russia as the heir to Turkey -- that was a mystical idea. There were no differences of opinion on this question. That was the Will of God. Only the Turkish Wars were truly popular wars in Russia. In 1807 Alexander I feared, not without reason, that he might be assassinated by an officers’ conspiracy. The entire officers’ corps preferred a war against the Turks to one against Napoleon. This led to Alexander’s alliance with Napoleon at Tilsit, which dominated world politics until 1812. It is characteristic how Dostoyevsky, in contrast to Tolstoy, became ecstatic over the Turkish War in 1877. He suddenly came alive, constantly wrote down his metaphysical visions, and preached the religious mission of Russia against Byzantium. But the final portion of Anna Karenina was denied publication by the Russian Messenger, for one did not dare to offer Tolstoy’s skepticism to the public.

As I have mentioned, the educated, irreligious, Westernized Russians also shared the mystical longing for Jerusalem, the Kiev monk’s notion of the mother country as the "Third Rome," which after Papal Rome and Luther’s Wittenberg was to take the fulfillment of Christ’s message to the Jerusalem of the apostles. This barely conscious national instinct of all Russians opposes any power that might erect political barricades on the path that leads to Jerusalem by way of Byzantium. In all other countries such political obstacles would simply disturb either national conceit (in the West) or national apathy (in the Far East); in Russia, the mystical soul of the people itself was pierced and profoundly agitated. Hence the brilliant successes of the Slavophil movement, which was not so much interested in winning over Poles and Czechs as in gaining a foothold among the Slavs in the Christian Balkan countries, the neighbors of Constantinople. Even at an earlier date, the Holy War against Napoleon and the Burning of Moscow had involved the emotions of the entire Russian people. This was not just because of the invasion and plundering of the Russian countryside, but because of Napoleon’s obvious long-range plans. In 1809 he had taken over the Illyrian provinces (the present Yugoslavia) and thus became master of the Adriatic. This had decisively strengthened his influence on Turkey to the disadvantage of Russia, and his next step would be, in alliance with Turkey and Persia, to open up the path to India, either from Illyria or from Moscow itself. The Russians’ hatred of Napoleon was later transferred to the Habsburg monarchy, when its designs on Turkish territory -- in Metternich’s time the Danubian principalities, and after 1878 Saloniki -- endangered Russian moves toward the south. Following the Crimean War they extended their hatred to include Great Britain, when that nation appeared to lay claim to Turkish lands by blockading the Straits and later by occupying Egypt and Cyprus.


Finally, Germany too became the object of this hatred, which goes very deep and cannot be allayed by practical considerations. After 1878, Germany neglected its role as a Russian ally to became more and more the protector and preserver of the crumbling Habsburg state, and thereby also, despite Bismarck’s warning, the supporter of Austro-Hungarian intentions in the Balkans. The German government showed no understanding of the suggestion made by Count Witte, the last of the Russian diplomats friendly to Germany, to choose between Austria and Russia. We could have had a reliable ally in Russia if we had been willing to loosen our ties to Austria. A total reorientation of German policy might have been possible as late as 1911.

Following the Congress of Berlin, hatred of Germany began to spread to all of Russian society, for Bismarck succeeded in restraining Russian diplomacy in the interest of world peace and maintaining the balance of power in "Europe." From the German point of view this was probably correct, and in any case it was a master stroke of Bismarckian statesmanship. But in the eyes of Petersburg it was a mistake, for it deprived the Russian soul of the hope of winning Turkey, and favored England and Austria. And this Russian soul was one of the imponderables that defied diplomatic treatment. Hostility to Germany kept on growing and eventually entered all levels of Russian urban society. It was diverted momentarily when Japanese power, rising up suddenly and broadening the horizons of world politics, forced Russia to experience the Far East as a danger zone. But that was soon forgotten, especially since Germany was so grotesquely inept as to understand neither the immediate situation nor the future possibilities. In time, the senseless idea of the Berlin-Baghdad Railway came up; Germany now seemed intent on capturing full control of this path to Constantinople, a move which would have benefitted neither German politics nor the German economy.

Just as in the field of politics, the economic life of Russia was divided into two main tendencies -- the one active and aggressive, the other passive. The passive element was represented by the Russian peasantry with its primitive agrarian economy; [7] by the old-style merchants with their fairs, caravans, and Volga barges; by Russian craftsmen; and finally by the primitive mining enterprises in the Urals, which developed out of the ancient techniques of pre-Christian "blacksmith tribes," independent of Western mining methods and experience. The forging of iron was invented in Russia in the second millennium B.C. -- the Greeks retained a vague recollection of the beginning of this art. This simple and traditional form of economy gradually found a powerful competitor in the civilized world of Western-style urban economy, with its banks, stock exchanges, factories, and railroads. Then it was money economy versus goods economy; each of these forms of economic existence abhors the other, each tries to attack and annihilate the other.

(7. On the contrast between agrarian and urban economy, see Decline of the West, II, 477ff.)


The Petrinist state needed a money economy in order to pay for its Westernized politics, its army, and its administrative hierarchy, which was laced with primitive corruption. Incidentally, this form of corruption was habitual public practice in Russia; it is a necessary psychological concomitant of an economy based on the exchange of goods, and is fundamentally different from the clandestine corruption practiced by Western European parliamentarians. The state protected and supported economic thinking that was oriented toward Western capitalism, a type of thinking that Russia neither created nor really understood, but had imported and now had to manage. Furthermore, Russia had also to face its doctrinary opposite, the economic theory of communism. Communism was in fact inseparable from Western economic thinking. It was the Marxist capitalism of the lower class, preached by students and agitators as a vague gospel to the masses in the Petrinist cities.

Still, the decisive and truly agitating factor for Russia’s future was not this literary, theoretical trend in the urban underground. It was, rather, the Russians’ profound, instinctively religious abhorrence of all Western economic practices. They considered "money" and all the economic schemes derived from it, socialistic as well as capitalistic, as sinful and satanic. This was a genuine religious feeling, much like the Western emotion which, during the Gothic centuries, opposed the economic practices of the Arabic-Jewish world and led to the prohibition for Christians of money-lending for interest. In the West, such attitudes had for centuries been little more than a cliché for chapel and pulpit, but now it became an acute spiritual problem in Russia. It caused the suicide of numerous Russians who were seized by "terror of the surplus value," whose primitive thought and emotions could not imagine a way of earning a living that would not entail the "exploitation" of "fellow human beings." This genuine Russian sentiment saw in the world of capitalism an enemy, a poison, the great sin that it ascribed to the Petrinist state despite the deep respect felt for "Little Father," the Tsar.

Such, then, are the deep and manifold roots of the Russian philosophy of intellectual nihilism, which began to grow at the time of the Crimean War and which produced as a final fruit the bolshevism that destroyed the Petrinist state in 1917, replacing it with something that would have been absolutely impossible in the West. Contained within this movement is the orthodox Slavophils’ hatred of Petersburg and all it stood for, [8] the peasants’ hatred of the mir, the type of village commune that contradicted the rural concept of property passed down through countless family generations, as well as every Russian’s hatred of capitalism, industrial economy, machines, railroads, and the state and army that offered protection to this cynical world against an eruption of Russian instincts. It was a primeval religious hatred of uncomprehended forces that were felt to be godless, that one could not change and thus wished to destroy, in order that life could go on in the old-fashioned way.

(8. "The first requirement for the liberation of popular feeling in Russia is to hate Petersburg with heart and soul" (Aksakov to Dostoyevsky). Cf. Decline of the West, II, 193ff.)


The peasants detested the intelligentsia and its agitating just as strongly as they detested what these people were agitating against. Yet in time the agitation brought a small clique of clever but by and large mediocre personalities to the forefront of power. Even Lenin’s creation is Western, it is Petersburg -- foreign, inimical, and despised by the majority of Russians. Some day, in some way or other, it will perish. It is a rebellion against the West, but born of Western ideas. It seeks to preserve the economic forms of industrial labor and capitalist speculation as well as the authoritarian state, except that it has replaced the Tsarist regime and private capitalist enterprise with an oligarchy and state capitalism, calling itself communism out of deference to doctrine.

It is a new victory for Petersburg over Moscow and, without any doubt, the final and enduring act of self-destruction committed by Petrinism from below. The actual victim is precisely the element that sought to liberate itself by means of the rebellion: the true Russian, the peasant and craftsman, the devout man of religion. Western revolutions such as the English and French seek to improve organically evolved conditions by means of theory, and they never succeed. In Russia, however, a whole world was made to vanish without resistance. Only the artificial quality of Peter the Great’s creation can explain the fact that a small group of revolutionaries, almost without exception dunces and cowards, has had such an effect. Petrinism was an illusion that suddenly burst.

The bolshevism of the early years has thus had a double meaning. It has destroyed an artificial, foreign structure, leaving only itself as a remaining integral part. But beyond this, it has made the way clear for a new culture that will some day awaken between "Europe" and East Asia. It is more a beginning than an end. It is temporary, superficial, and foreign only insofar as it represents the self-destruction of Petrinism, the grotesque attempt systematically to overturn the social superstructure of the nation according to the theories of Karl Marx. At the base of this nation lies the Russian peasantry, which doubtless played a more important role in the success of the 1917 Revolution than the intellectual crowd is willing to admit. These are the devout peasants of Russia who, although they do not yet fully realize it, are the archenemies of bolshevism and are oppressed by it even worse than they were by the Mongols and the old tsars. For this very reason, despite the hardships of the present, the peasantry will some day become conscious of its own will, which points in a wholly different direction.

The peasantry is the true Russian people of the future. It will not allow itself to be perverted and suffocated, and without a doubt, no matter how slowly, it will replace, transform, control, or annihilate bolshevism in its present form. How that will happen, no one can tell at the moment. It depends, among other things, on the appearance of decisive personalities, who, like Genghis Khan, Ivan IV, Peter the Great, and Lenin, can seize Destiny by their iron hand. Here, too, Dostoyevsky stands against Tolstoy as a symbol of the future against the present. Dostoyevsky was denounced as a reactionary because in his Possessed he no longer even recognized the problems of nihilism. For him, such things were just another aspect of the Petrinist system. But Tolstoy, the man of good society, lived in this element; he represented it even in his rebellion, a protest in Western form against the West. Tolstoy, and not Marx, was the leader to bolshevism. Dostoyevsky is its future conqueror.


There can be no doubt: a new Russian people is in the process of becoming. Shaken and threatened to the very soul by a frightful destiny, forced to an inner resistance, it will in time become firm and come to bloom. It is passionately religious in a way we Western Europeans have not been, indeed could not have been, for centuries. As soon as this religious drive is directed toward a goal, it possesses an immense expansive potential. Unlike us, such a people does not count the victims who die for an idea, for it is a young, vigorous, and fertile people. The intense respect enjoyed over the past centuries by the "holy peasants" whom the regime often exiled to Siberia or liquidated in some other way -- such figures as the priest John of Kronstadt, even Rasputin, but also Ivan and Peter the Great -- will awaken a new type of leaders, leaders to new crusades and legendary conquests. The world round about, filled with religious yearning but no longer fertile in religious concerns, is torn and tired enough to allow it suddenly to take on a new character under the proper circumstances. Perhaps bolshevism itself will change in this way under new leaders; but that is not very probable. For this ruling horde -- it is a fraternity like the Mongols of the Golden Horde -- always has its sights set on the West as did Peter the Great, who likewise made the land of his dreams the goal of his politics. But the silent, deeper Russia has already forgotten the West and has long since begun to look toward Near and East Asia. It is a people of the great inland expanses, not a maritime people.

An interest in Western affairs is upheld only by the ruling group that organizes and supports the Communist parties in the individual countries -- without, as I see it, any chance of success. It is simply a consequence of Marxist theory, not an exercise in practical politics. The only way that Russia might again direct its attention to the West -- with disastrous results for both sides -- would be for other countries (Germany, for instance) to commit serious errors in foreign policy, which could conceivably result in a "crusade" of the Western powers against bolshevism -- in the interest, of course, of Franco-British financial capital. Russia’s secret desire is to move toward Jerusalem and Central Asia, and "the" enemy will always be the one who blocks those paths. The fact that England established the Baltic states and placed them under its influence, thereby causing Russia to lose the Baltic Sea, has not had a profound effect. Petersburg has already been given up for lost, an expendable relic of the Petrinist era. Moscow is once again the center of the nation. But the destruction of Turkey, the partition of that country into French and English spheres of influence, France’s establishment of the Little Entente which closed off and threatened the area from Rumania southwards, French attempts to win control of the Danubian principalities and the Black Sea by aiding the reconstruction of the Hapsburg state -- all these events have made England and, above all, France the heirs to Russian hatred. What the Russians see is the revivification of Napoleonic tendencies; the crossing of the Beresina was perhaps not, after all, the final symbolic event in that movement. Byzantium is and remains the Sublime Gateway to future Russian policy, while, on the other side, Central Asia is no longer a conquered area but part of the sacred earth of the Russian people.

In the face of this rapidly changing, growing Russia, German policy requires the tactical skill of a great statesman and expert in Eastern affairs, but as yet no such man has made his appearance. It is clear that we are not the enemies of Russia; but whose friends are we to be -- of the Russia of today, or of the Russia of tomorrow? Is it possible to be both, or does one exclude the other? Might we not jeopardize such friendship by forming careless alliances?

Similarly obscure and difficult are our economic connections, the actual ones and the potential ones. Politics and economics are two very different aspects of life, different in concept, methods, aims, and significance for the soul of a people. This is not realized in the age of practical materialism, but that does not make it any less fatefully true. Economics is subordinate to politics; it is without question the second and not the first factor in history. The economic life of Russia is only superficially dominated by state capitalism. At its base it is subject to attitudes that are virtually religious in nature. At any rate it is not at all the same thing as top-level Russian politics. Moreover, it is very difficult to predict its short and long-range trends, and even more difficult to control these trends from abroad. The Russia of the last tsars gave the illusion of being an economic complex of Western stamp. Bolshevist Russia would like to give the same illusion; with its communist methods it would even like to become an example for the West. Yet in reality, when considered from the standpoint of Western economics, it is one huge colonial territory where the Russians of the farmlands and small towns work essentially as peasants and craftsmen. Industry and the transportation of industrial products over the rail networks, as well as the process of wholesale distribution of such products, are and will always remain inwardly foreign to this people. The businessman, the factory head, the engineer and inventor are not "Russian" types. As a people, no matter how far individuals may go toward adapting to modern patterns of world economics, the true Russians will always let foreigners do the kind of work they reject because they are inwardly not suited to it. A close comparison with the Age of the Crusades will clarify what I have in mind. [9] At that time, also, the young peoples of the North were nonurban, committed to an agrarian economy. Even the small cities, castle communities, and princely residences were essentially marketplaces for agricultural produce. The Jews and Arabs were a full thousand years "older," and functioned in their ghettos as experts in urban money economy. The Western European fulfills the same function in the Russia of today.

(9. Cf. Decline of the West, II, Chapters XIII and XIV, "The Form-World of Economic Life.")


Machine industry is basically non-Russian in spirit, and the Russians will forever regard it as alien, sinful, and diabolical. They can bear with it and even respect it, as the Japanese do, as a means toward higher ends, for one casts out demons by the prince of demons. But they can never give their soul to it as did the Germanic nations, which created it with their dynamic sensibility as a symbol and method of their struggling existence. In Russia, industry will always remain essentially the concern of foreigners. But the Russians will be able to distinguish sensitively between what is to their own and what is to the foreigners’ advantage.

As far as "money" is concerned, for the Russians the cities are markets for agricultural commodities; for us they have been since the eighteenth century the centers for the dynamics of money. "Money thinking" will be impossible for the Russians for a long time to come. For this reason, as I have explained, Russia is regarded as a colony by foreign business interests. Germany will be able to gain certain advantages from its proximity to the country, particularly in light of the fact that both powers have the same enemy, the financial interest-groups of the Allied nations.

Yet the German economy can never exploit these opportunities without support from superior politics. Without such support a chaotic seizure of opportunities will ensue, with dire consequences for the future. The economic policy of France has been for centuries, as a result of the sadistic character of the French people, myopic and purely destructive. And a serious German policy in economic affairs simply does not exist.

Therefore it is the prime task of German business to help create order in German domestic affairs, in order to set the stage for a foreign policy that will understand and meet its obligations. Business has not yet grasped the immense economic significance of this domestic task. It is decidedly not a question, as common prejudice would have it, of making politics submit to the momentary interests of single groups, such as has already occurred by means of the worst kind of politics imaginable, party politics. It is not a question of advantages that might last for just a few years. Before the war it was the large agricultural interests, and since the war the large industrial interests, that attempted to focus national policy on the obtaining of temporary advantages, and the results were always nil. But the time for short-range tactics is over. The next decades will bring problems of world-historical dimensions, and that means that business must at all times be subordinate to national politics, not the other way around. Our business leaders must learn to think exclusively in political terms, not in terms of "economic politics." The basic requirement for great economic opportunity in the East is thus order in our politics at home.

dimanche, 22 décembre 2019

RIP: Vladimir Bukovsky, the Defiant


RIP: Vladimir Bukovsky, the Defiant

Ex: https://www.americanthinker.com

One of the first things famous Soviet dissident Vladimir Bukovsky (1942–2019) told me about himself was that his roots were Polish.  After the crushing of the Kościuszko Insurrection of 1794, his ancestor, Pan Bukowski, was taken prisoner by the Muscovites and shipped off to Siberia.  This was a harsh introduction to Russian living for the family.  Vladimir would continue into the footsteps of his forefathers.

Vladimir was born in the matrix of the Soviet Union, but as a teenager, he self-liberated.  At 14, he heard about communist leader Nikita Khrushchev's secret speech blaming Stalin for slaughtering millions.  Soon after, he rooted for the Hungarian freedom fighters in 1956.  He started asking questions.  He challenged the system.  Upon his first arrest in 1959, the youngster refused to become a snitch for the Soviet secret police.  And the KGB judged him, partly with rigid annoyance and partly with grudging admiration, unfit for recruitment.

In 1963, Vladimir was arrested, tried, and sentenced to two years for anti-Soviet agitation.  They locked him up in a psychiatric ward (psikhushka), where he was "diagnosed" with "symptomless schizophrenia."  According to Soviet "science," anyone opposing communism had to be a schizophrenic, even when he did not display any symptoms.  He was medicated forcibly.  Bukovsky told me that the trick was to learn how to regurgitate the psychotropic drugs so the hospital wardens and nurses would not notice.

After getting out in 1965, the intrepid dissident plunged right back into anti-communist activities.  He co-organized a demonstration and a petition drive in solidarity with other Soviet dissidents.  For this he was rearrested and thrown back into the red looney bin.  Now things turned tougher.  The KGB wanted to turn their prisoner into a vegetable.  Forcible administration of drugs and their doses increased.  Luckily, the regurgitation trick continued to serve the dissident.  Vladimir endured half a year of this but was unexpectedly released after half a year in mid-1966.  

Six months later, Bukovsky joined a demonstration in defense of other nonviolent protesters who were on trial or under lock and key, only to be seized himself and tried for violating a ban on public protest.  In his defense, he invoked Soviet law, which Soviet judges and secret policemen were apparently violating.  Because Vladimir refused to express remorse for demonstrating, he was sent to the Gulag — a penal colony with a forced labor regime in Bor in the Voronezh region.  His sentence was three years.  He got out in 1970.

Drawing on his experiences in the Gulag and, in particular, in psychiatric wards, the dissident began compiling a record of the Soviet abuse of psychiatry.  To add insult to injury, he discovered that some of the communist psychiatrists who worked hand in glove with the KGB were treated cordially in the West and even invited to scholarly conferences at some of the leading institutions.  The work of the medical monsters who facilitated the torture of political prisoners was treated seriously by some in the West.  Bukovsky resolved to expose it.  He managed to get his report smuggled out to the West.

Consequently, a veritable storm broke out among French, British, and other psychiatrists, some of whom demanded transparency from their Soviet colleagues and believed the dissident accounts of abuse.  For this Vladimir found himself under pre-trial detention in isolation and almost a year later received a sentence of 12 years for "slandering Soviet science."  While serving his sentence, he secretly co-authored a manual on how to beat the Soviet system of interrogation to avoid being accused of insanity.  The manual eventually found its way to the West, where it was widely disseminated.

Bukovsky became a cause célèbre.  The KGB was livid.  In 1976, at the height of détente, the Kremlin decided to further burnish its "liberal" credentials.  Thus, Moscow agreed to swap the perky freedom-fighter for the head of the communist party of Chile, Luis Corvalán, who was incarcerated following a successful military coup to thwart a red revolution in that country.  Compliments of General Augusto Pinochet, Vladimir was thrown out of the USSR and landed in the West.

He settled in England, where he successfully pursued a degree in biology at Cambridge University, where he settled permanently.  Further, he trained as a neuropsychologist and continued his career as a writer and a human rights campaigner.  He published prodigiously.  Vladimir exposed communist crimes globally as well as Western naïveté regarding the Soviet Union.  He joined numerous initiatives championing freedom.  Among others, Bukovsky animated the American Foundation for Resistance International, which aspired to coordinate all anti-communist activities by the captive people in all countries afflicted by Marxism-Leninism.  At the height of Gorbymania in the West, Vladimir and his associates dared to question the sincerity of secretary general of the Communist Party of the USSR Mikhail Gorbachev.  They pointed out quite correctly that the Soviet leader wanted to save communism, not to destroy it.

In 1992, at the invitation of Russia's president, Boris Yeltsin, Bukovsky returned to Moscow.  The Kremlin solicited his assistance in putting together evidence for the public trial of the Communist Party for its crimes.  Yeltsin eventually scrapped the idea, but not before Bukovsky was able to copy over a million pages of secret documents from Stalin's archives.  While Vladimir scanned away right in front of their noses, the KGB guardians of the documentary treasure trove had no idea what either a scanner or a laptop was, so, while watching him curiously, they never interrupted him.  Later, to his own great surprise, the former dissident was permitted to fly out of Moscow undisturbed with his computer full of archival goodies.


In 1995, Bukovsky's magnum opus, Judgment in Moscow, emerged from this research trip.  Published in several languages, sadly, it had to wait nearly 25 years for an English translation and publication.  Because we failed to smash communism after it tripped, he warned us about the resurgence of post-communism and its threat of metastasizing in the West in the form of political correctness and socialist étatism.  Vladimir further cautioned everyone about the European integration and its totalitarian potential.  He was always full of unorthodox ideas.  Arguably the most shocking to us was his opinion about the Muscovite state and its successors.  Bukovsky told Dr. Sommer explicitly: "It is not my fault that I was born in the Soviet Union.  Why should I harbor any sentiment to that entity?  And Russia was a logical way to the USSR, even if many fabulous people lived there. ... Therefore, as long as Russia does not fall apart into several entities, it will remain dangerous.  A divided Russia is in the interest of the world, just as a united central Europe is in the interest of the world. ... This is not a question of nationalism and resentment, but of physics and balance.  Big and demoralized Russia will always harm her smaller neighbors.  Only its dividing and balancing can eliminate the danger, although not completely because Russia is a universe of slavery."

At the end, Vladimir had the last laugh: he was buried a hundred yards away from the grave of Karl Marx at Highgate Cemetery in London.  Non-conformist, defiant, and free, Vladimir Bukovsky, RIP.


jeudi, 20 juin 2019

Orwell, Molotov, & the “Crisis of Capitalism”


Orwell, Molotov, & the “Crisis of Capitalism”

Did the international crises of 1947 and 1948 leave their mark on the writing of Nineteen Eighty-Four? I’ve spent a lot of time on this question, and so far as I can tell, the answer is – yes; but only obliquely. And George Orwell may not even have been conscious of the fact.

A couple of months into writing the first draft of the novel, he paused to do an article for the Partisan Review. This was one of an ongoing series by several authors called “The Future of Socialism.” Orwell’s contribution for the July-August 1947 issue was titled “Toward European Unity,” and it includes some recognizable themes that were finding their way into Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Actually, the piece itself doesn’t have much to say about socialism. (One of Orwell’s last essays was on Oscar Wilde’s notion of “socialism.” Like Wilde, Orwell thought it all sounded like a nice idea, but he was one of those socialists who never read Marx.) As for “European unity,” Orwell saw only dim prospects. He was much more interested in rather whimsical speculation about how the world could survive after the Third World War started and the “atomic bombs” dropped. His least favorite outcome happened to be the background to the world of Nineteen Eighty-Four. (I’ll excerpt these at the end.)

But there’s a throwaway line in “Toward European Unity” that might be an eye-opener for people today, though it was a reasonably sound, matter-of-fact assessment of the political scene in mid-1947:

. . . American pressure is an important factor because it can be exerted most easily on Britain, the one country in Europe which is outside the Russian orbit.[1] [2]

The hard fact here is that most of western Europe was slipping into the Soviet grip. Communist parties in France and Italy were getting ready to seize power, with the Communists already the largest party in the French assembly. The USSR was maneuvering to take control of the 1945 rump of Germany, by first uniting the four zones – British, American, French, Soviet – under a Sovietized “neutral” government. Meanwhile, Europe’s post-war economic recovery had stalled and backslid, largely because of the destruction of German mines and industry, and punitive reparations and deindustrialization under the still-operative Morgenthau Plan.[2] [3] France and Britain were effectively bankrupt, living on loans and remittances from the US.[3] [4]

The stage, then, was set for the wave of revolutions, wars, and brutal regimes that form the backstory to Nineteen Eighty-Four. More memorably, these conditions are the background to the American foreign policy initiatives remembered as the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan. For most people, these things are mainly recalled as chapter subheadings in high school texts, or even as examples of insuperably dull, indecipherable topics best treated as punchlines to jokes. (The writer Tobias Wolff once wrote a cruelly humorous short story in which the running gag was about a job-seeking professor forced to give a lecture with someone else’s dreary paper on the Marshall Plan.)[4] [5]

What is generally forgotten these days – or more likely, unknown – is the worldwide campaign of agitprop and civil unrest that the Soviet Union mounted in 1947-48 in retaliation for the Marshall Plan. You really need to go back to the newspapers of the era to see how far and wide was the campaign’s reach. Throughout western Europe, there were riots, work stoppages, mine floodings, and anti-Marshall Plan posters, films, flyers, and newspapers. Factories and wharves were shut down throughout France for much of late 1947; in Italy, the Communists held a sit-down strike in the Parliament. Dockworkers on the Continent, in Britain, and even in Australia, New Zealand, and North America refused to unload ships.

In America, the most memorable efflorescence of the anti-Marshall Plan drive (though seldom remembered as such) was the strange presidential campaign of ex-Vice President Henry Wallace. Wallace and other “Progressives” (for such he called his party) aimed to punish President Truman and pro-Marshall Plan Democrats by splitting their vote in 1948. They did not succeed, as it rapidly became clear that these efforts were directed by the Soviet Central Committee and the Communist Party of the USA, operating through labor unions, particularly the CIO. In 1947 and 1948, Dwight Macdonald (Orwell’s friend and political soulmate) devoted many pages of his magazine, Politics, to exposés of the Stalinist machinations behind the Wallace campaign.[5] [6]


In that same paragraph from the Partisan Review piece by Orwell that I quoted above, there’s a curious and most un-Orwellian comment about U.S. trade:

If the United States remains capitalist, and especially if it needs markets for exports, it cannot regard a Socialist Europe with a friendly eye.[6] [7]


Dwight Macdonald

What exactly is he saying here? In all his writings, Orwell seldom, if ever, affects interest in such peripheral economic matters as trade policy. Yet here he is, professing to suspect that the “capitalist” US has a great need to expand its overseas (specifically European) markets. Now, in the late 1940s American exports worldwide comprised about five percent of its GNP.[7] [8] That is, most of the GNP was from domestic consumption, and need for exports would have been negligible.

Knowing when Orwell wrote this, in about June 1947, gives us a clue as to where he got this funny notion. Apparently he’d just read something in the papers pertaining to the newly-proposed Marshall Plan. I doubt Orwell knew where the story originated, or detected its ring of Marxian economics; but that is essentially what it was. Right about this time, the Soviet Foreign Minister, Vyacheslav Molotov, was putting out a tale that the European Recovery Plan, aka the Marshall Plan, had an ulterior motive: to forestall an inevitable and approaching depression due to American war debts and its unsold “surplus goods.”

Shortly after Secretary of State George Marshall gave his so-called “Marshall Plan Speech” (at Harvard’s commencement on June 5, 1947), Molotov had asked the top Soviet economist, Yevgeny “Jeno” Varga,[8] [9] to provide a report on the American economy. Specifically, he wanted Varga to “assess motives” behind this proposed aid plan. Varga came back with a suitably dire forecast: the US was facing a depression nearly the size of the Great Depression of the 1930s, with ten million unemployed and a twenty percent drop in GNP.

Per Varga, the apparent rationale for the Marshall Plan was that by lending billions in credits to Europe, the US could get rid of its “surplus goods” (as it was suffering from a “crisis of overproduction”). It could thereby avoid the forthcoming economic collapse – temporarily, at least – even though the countries to which it was “lending” credits were themselves bankrupt. Varga most likely did not believe what he wrote here. In 1946, he had written an in-depth economic study putting forth the thesis that because of changes in the American economy and government, it was no longer subject to the classic boom-and-bust “Crisis of Capitalism.” But now he was simply telling Molotov what Molotov wanted to hear.[9] [10]

molotov.jpgAnd so, when Molotov went to Paris to meet the British and French foreign ministers at a preliminary conference on the Marshall Plan (this is still June 1947), he told them he believed the proposed Plan was really conceived in America’s own interest, “to enlarge their foreign markets, especially in view of the approaching crisis.” To no one’s great surprise, Molotov soon announced that neither the USSR nor any of the Communist satellite states would be participating in the European Recovery Plan.

With the passing months, Soviet propaganda evolved somewhat. In September, Molotov’s deputy and eventual successor, Andrei Vyshinsky, told the UN General Assembly that “[t]he United States . . . counted on making . . . countries directly dependent on the interests of American monopolies, which are striving to avert the approaching depression by an accelerated export of commodities and capital to Europe.”[10] [11] This soon turned into a more pointed accusation, that the US was setting up a “Western Bloc” as an economic and political beachhead. Soviet spymaster Pavel Sudoplatov explained that “the goal of the Marshall Plan was to ensure American economic domination of Europe.”[11] [12]

What were these “surplus goods” that the US supposedly wanted to offload onto Europe via the Marshall Plan? Mostly, they were the same goods that America had been providing all along: grain and fuel, primarily coal. (While western Europe had endless reserves of coal, the mines in Germany had been so damaged that Europe suffered from severe coal shortages for the first few years after the war.) When European countries bought these with Marshall credits beginning in 1948, it freed up their own capital for “recovery” uses. And, pace Varga and Molotov, America was not disposing of these goods in order to forestall an economic crisis. There wasn’t even a recession in 1947 or 1948; just a mild downturn that came in 1949.

But the notion of “surplus goods” and its Marxian companion, the “crisis of overproduction,” found their way into an obscure corner of Nineteen Eighty-Four. They provide the stated (though rather illogical and unnecessary) rationale for eternal war, as set forth in The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism:

The primary aim of modern warfare (in accordance with the principles of doublethink, this aim is simultaneously recognized and not recognized by the directing brains of the Inner Party) is to use up the products of the machine without raising the general standard of living. Ever since the end of the nineteenth century, the problem of what to do with the surplus of consumption goods has been latent in industrial society. . . . The war, therefore, if we judge it by the standards of previous wars, is merely an imposture. It is like the battles between certain ruminant animals whose horns are set at such an angle that they are incapable of hurting one another. But though it is unreal it is not meaningless. It eats up the surplus of consumable goods, and it helps to preserve the special mental atmosphere that a hierarchical society needs.[12] [13]

It’s all a joke, of course: Oligarchical Collectivism is not a serious treatise even within its fictive realm. It’s something that O’Brien and his colleagues concocted (or so O’Brien tells us) as a plausible excuse for a revolutionary tract that the non-existent Goldstein might write. It puts forth “the problem of what to do with the surplus of consumption goods” as though that were a real conundrum, one that can only be solved by constant pseudo-warfare.

It would have been quite enough just to say fake wars provide “the special mental atmosphere that a hierarchical society needs.” But Orwell apparently had export markets and “surplus goods” on his mind, so he threw those in as well.

 *  *  *

partisanreview.jpgThis tortured, unnecessary explanation ties up nicely with the alternative predictions Orwell offers in his Partisan Review article. As I said, he doesn’t really say much about socialism, and he doubts European unity, but he puts an awful lot of (overly) complex thought into how it’s all going to end. He’s writing this while he’s mainly focused on Nineteen Eighty-Four, so we end up with three James Burnham-esque scenarios of what may face us when the bombs start a-flying:

As far as I can see, there are three possibilities ahead of us:

    1. That the Americans will decide to use the atomic bomb while they have it and the Russians haven’t. This would solve nothing. It would do away with the particular danger that is now presented by the U.S.S.R., but would lead to the rise of new empires, fresh rivalries, more wars, more atomic bombs, etc. In any case this is, I think, the least likely outcome of the three . . .
    2. That the present ‘cold war’ will continue until the U.S.S.R., and several other countries, have atomic bombs as well. Then there will only be a short breathing-space before whizz! go the rockets, wallop! go the bombs, and the industrial centres of the world are wiped out, probably beyond repair . . . Conceivably this is a desirable outcome, but obviously it has nothing to do with Socialism.
    3. That the fear inspired by the atomic bomb and other weapons yet to come will be so great that everyone will refrain from using them. This seems to me the worst possibility of all. It would mean the division of the world among two or three vast super-states, unable to conquer one another and unable to be overthrown by any internal rebellion. In all probability their structure would be hierarchic, with a semi-divine caste at the top and outright slavery at the bottom, and the crushing out of liberty would exceed anything that the world has yet seen . . .[13] [14]


[1] [15] George Orwell, “Toward European Unity,” Partisan Review (New York), July-August 1947, Vol. 14, No. 4.

[2] [16] One sometimes hears that the Morgenthau Plan for the starvation and pastoralization of Germany was floated as an idea but sternly rejected. Actually, as Joint Chiefs of Staff directive No. 1067 [17], it was the basis of American occupation policy, effective from April 1945 until July 1947. Both the US and the Soviet Union dismantled German industrial plants in this period.

[3] [18] There are countless sources for this subject, but Benn Steil’s 2018 book, The Marshall Plan (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2018), gives a detailed overview of the economic crisis.

[4] [19] Tobias Wolff, “In the Garden of the North American Martyrs,” originally published in Antaeus (New York), Spring 1980.

[5] [20] Macdonald’s most thorough examination of Wallace and company was in the Summer 1948 issue of Politics.

[6] [21] Orwell, “Toward European Unity.”

[7] [22] See chart, The Hamilton Project [23].

[8] [24] Jeno Varga was a Hungarian Jew (his real name was Eugen Weisz) who had been in the Hungarian Communist Party since the Béla Kun days in 1919. After this, he fled to the USSR and became Stalin’s longtime economic adviser. Like Molotov in the late 1940s, Varga was about to fall out of favor.

[9] [25] Scott D. Parrish & Mikhail M. Narinsky, “New Evidence on the Soviet Rejection of the Marshall Plan, 1947 [26]” (Washington, DC: Wilson Center), 1994.

[10] [27] Andrei Vyshkinsky’s speech [28] at the United Nations, September 1947.

[11] [29] Steil, The Marshall Plan.

[12] [30] George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four, 1949, Part II.

[13] [31] Orwell, “Toward European Unity.”


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

URL to article: https://www.counter-currents.com/2019/06/orwell-molotov-the-crisis-of-capitalism/

URLs in this post:

[1] Image: https://www.counter-currents.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/6-12-19-2.jpg

[2] [1]: #_ftn1

[3] [2]: #_ftn2

[4] [3]: #_ftn3

[5] [4]: #_ftn4

[6] [5]: #_ftn5

[7] [6]: #_ftn6

[8] [7]: #_ftn7

[9] [8]: #_ftn8

[10] [9]: #_ftn9

[11] [10]: #_ftn10

[12] [11]: #_ftn11

[13] [12]: #_ftn12

[14] [13]: #_ftn13

[15] [1]: #_ftnref1

[16] [2]: #_ftnref2

[17] Joint Chiefs of Staff directive No. 1067: https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/JCS_1067

[18] [3]: #_ftnref3

[19] [4]: #_ftnref4

[20] [5]: #_ftnref5

[21] [6]: #_ftnref6

[22] [7]: #_ftnref7

[23] The Hamilton Project: http://www.hamiltonproject.org/charts/u.s._imports_and_exports_1947_2016

[24] [8]: #_ftnref8

[25] [9]: #_ftnref9

[26] New Evidence on the Soviet Rejection of the Marshall Plan, 1947: https://www.wilsoncenter.org/sites/default/files/ACFB73.pdf

[27] [10]: #_ftnref10

[28] speech: https://astro.temple.edu/~rimmerma/vyshinsky_speech_to_un.htm

[29] [11]: #_ftnref11

[30] [12]: #_ftnref12

[31] [13]: #_ftnref13

vendredi, 22 mars 2019

Quand Alexandre Zinoviev dénonçait la tyrannie mondialiste et le totalitarisme démocratique


Quand Alexandre Zinoviev dénonçait la tyrannie mondialiste et le totalitarisme démocratique

Ex: https://echelledejacob.blogspot.com 

Les propos « visionnaires » d’Alexandre Zinoviev, tenus en 1999, confirment la mise en place du mondialisme. Dans un monde où il n’y a plus de « garde-fou » tout peut arriver. Ça rejoint l’analyse de Vladimir Boukovski.
« Il me semble que dans le système de séparation des pouvoirs, il faudrait ajouter à ses trois composantes traditionnelles, le législatif, l’exécutif et le judiciaire, une quatrième : le pouvoir monétaire.» 
Alexandre Zinoviv - L’occidentisme (1995)

Avant-propos : Passionnante découverte: Alexandre Zinoviev (1922-2006), auteur russe qui décrit dans cet entretien sa vision de la réorganisation du monde devenu unipolaire et post-démocratique. 

Cet entretien a lieu en 1999 ! Vous serez surpris de la pertinence de ses réflexions presque 17 ans plus tard. Il y décrit l’évolution de l’Occident libéral vers une démocratie totalitaire.

Comme la domination planétaire est unipolaire (pas de contre-poids), on peut craindre des dérives totalitaires piégeant les peuples qui ne peuvent plus s’appuyer sur une aide venue de l’extérieur. Le détricotage des acquis sociaux est alors inéluctable. 

Nous pouvons ajouter à ce constat visionnaire et cinglant de Zinoviev, tout l’axe de la technologie, de la robotique et surtout du transhumanisme non abordé dans cet entretien et qui ne manque pas de nous inquiéter dans le cadre de l’ampleur potentielle des dérives attendues. 

Liliane Held-Khawam 


Dernier entretien en terre d’Occident : juin 1999 

Entretien réalisé par Victor Loupan à Munich, en juin 1999, quelques jours avant le retour définitif d’Alexandre Zinoviev en Russie ; extrait de « La grande rupture », aux éditions l’Âge d’Homme. 

Victor Loupan : Avec quels sentiments rentrez-vous après un exil aussi long ? 

Alexandre Zinoviev : Avec celui d’avoir quitté une puissance respectée, forte, crainte même, et de retrouver un pays vaincu, en ruines. Contrairement à d’autres, je n’aurais jamais quitté l’URSS, si on m’avait laissé le choix. L’émigration a été une vraie punition pour moi. 

V. L. : On vous a pourtant reçu à bras ouverts ! 

A. Z. : C’est vrai. Mais malgré l’accueil triomphal et le succès mondial de mes livres, je me suis toujours senti étranger ici. 

V. L. : Depuis la chute du communisme, c’est le système occidental qui est devenu votre principal objet d’étude et de critique. Pourquoi ? 

A. Z. : Parce que ce que j’avais dit est arrivé : la chute du communisme s’est transformée en chute de la Russie. La Russie et le communisme étaient devenus une seule et même chose. 

V. L. : La lutte contre le communisme aurait donc masqué une volonté d’élimination de la Russie ? 

A. Z. : Absolument. La catastrophe russe a été voulue et programmée ici, en Occident. Je le dis, car j’ai été, à une certaine époque, un initié. J’ai lu des documents, participé à des études qui, sous prétexte de combattre une idéologie, préparaient la mort de la Russie. Et cela m’est devenu insupportable au point où je ne peux plus vivre dans le camp de ceux qui détruisent mon pays et mon peuple. L’Occident n’est pas une chose étrangère pour moi, mais c’est une puissance ennemie. 


V. L. : Seriez-vous devenu un patriote ? 

A. Z. : Le patriotisme, ce n’est pas mon problème. J’ai reçu une éducation internationaliste et je lui reste fidèle. Je ne peux d’ailleurs pas dire si j’aime ou non la Russie et les Russes. Mais j’appartiens à ce peuple età ce pays. J’en fais partie. Les malheurs actuels de mon peuple sont tels, que je ne peux continuer à les contempler de loin. La brutalité de la mondialisation met en évidence des choses inacceptables. 

V. L. : Les dissidents soviétiques parlaient pourtant comme si leur patrie était la démocratie et leur peuple les droits de l’homme. Maintenant que cette manière de voir est dominante en Occident, vous semblez la combattre. N’est-ce pas contradictoire ? 

A. Z. : Pendant la guerre froide, la démocratie était une arme dirigée contre le totalitarisme communiste, mais elle avait l’avantage d’exister. On voit d’ailleurs aujourd’hui que l’époque de la guerre froide a été un point culminant de l’histoire de l’Occident. Un bien être sans pareil, de vraies libertés, un extraordinaire progrès social, d’énormes découvertes scientifiques et techniques, tout y était ! Mais, l’Occident se modifiait aussi presqu’imperceptiblement. L’intégration timide des pays développés, commencée alors, constituait en fait les prémices de la mondialisation de l’économie et de la globalisation du pouvoir auxquels nous assistons aujourd’hui. Une intégration peut être généreuse et positive si elle répond, par exemple, au désir légitime des nations-soeurs de s’unir. Mais celle-ci a, dès le départ, été pensée en termes de structures verticales, dominées par un pouvoir supranational. Sans le succès de la contre-révolution russe, il n’aurait pu se lancer dans la mondialisation. 

V. L. : Le rôle de Gorbatchev n’a donc pas été positif ? 

A. Z. : Je ne pense pas en ces termes-là. Contrairement à l’idée communément admise, le communisme soviétique ne s’est pas effondré pour des raisons internes. Sa chute est la plus grande victoire de l’histoire de l’Occident ! Victoire colossale qui, je le répète, permet l’instauration d’un pouvoir planétaire. Mais la fin du communisme a aussi marqué la fin de la démocratie. 

Notre époque n’est pas que post-communiste, elle est aussi post-démocratique. 

Nous assistons aujourd’hui à l’instauration du totalitarisme démocratique ou, si vous préférez, de la démocratie totalitaire. 

V. L. : N’est-ce pas un peu absurde ? 

A. Z. : Pas du tout. La démocratie sous-entend le pluralisme. Et le pluralisme suppose l’opposition d’au moins deux forces plus ou moins égale ; forces qui se combattent et s’influencent en même temps. Il y avait, à l’époque de la guerre froide, une démocratie mondiale, un pluralisme global au sein duquel coexistaient le système capitaliste, le système communiste et même une structure plus vague mais néanmoins vivante, les non-alignés. Le totalitarisme soviétique était sensible aux critiques venant de l’Occident. L’Occident subissait lui aussi l’influence de l’URSS, par l’intermédiaire notamment de ses propres partis communistes. Aujourd’hui, nous vivons dans un monde dominé par une force unique, par une idéologie unique, par un parti unique mondialiste. La constitution de ce dernier a débuté, elle aussi, à l’époque de la guerre froide, quand des superstructures transnationales ont progressivement commencé à se constituer sous les formes les plus diverses : sociétés commerciales, bancaires, politiques, médiatiques. Malgré leurs différents secteurs d’activités, ces forces étaient unies par leur nature supranationale. Avec la chute du communisme, elles se sont retrouvées aux commandes du monde. Les pays occidentaux sont donc dominateurs, mais aussi dominés, puisqu’ils perdent progressivement leur souveraineté au profit de ce que j’appelle la « suprasociété ». Suprasociété planétaire, constituée d’entreprises commerciales et d’organismes non-commerciaux, dont les zones d’influence dépassent les nations. Les pays occidentaux sont soumis, comme les autres, au contrôle de ces structures supranationales. Or, la souveraineté des nations était, elle aussi, une partie constituante du pluralisme et donc de la démocratie, à l’échelle de la planète. Le pouvoir dominant actuel écrase les états souverains. L’intégration de l’Europe qui se déroule sous nos yeux, provoque elle aussi la disparition du pluralisme au sein de ce nouveau conglomérat, au profit d’un pouvoir supranational. 


V. L. : Mais ne pensez-vous pas que la France ou l’Allemagne continuent à être des pays démocratiques ? 

A. Z. : Les pays occidentaux ont connu une vraie démocratie à l’époque de la guerre froide. Les partis politiques avaient de vraies divergences idéologiques et des programmes politiques différents. Les organes de presse avaient des différences marquées, eux aussi. Tout cela influençait la vie des gens, contribuait à leur bien-être. C’est bien fini. Parce que le capitalisme démocratique et prospère, celui des lois sociales et des garanties d’emploi devait beaucoup à l’épouvantail communiste. L’attaque massive contre les droits sociaux à l’Ouest a commencé avec la chute du communisme à l’Est. Aujourd’hui, les socialistes au pouvoir dans la plupart des pays d’Europe, mènent une politique de démantèlement social qui détruit tout ce qu’il y avait de socialiste justement dans les pays capitalistes. 

Il n’existe plus, en Occident, de force politique capable de défendre les humbles. 

L’existence des partis politiques est purement formelle. Leurs différences s’estompent chaque jour davantage. La guerre des Balkans était tout sauf démocratique. Elle a pourtant été menée par des socialistes, historiquement opposés à ce genre d’aventures. Les écologistes, eux aussi au pouvoir dans plusieurs pays, ont applaudi au désastre écologique provoqué par les bombardements de l’OTAN. Ils ont même osé affirmer que les bombes à uranium appauvri n’étaient pas dangereuses alors que les soldats qui les chargent portent des combinaisons spéciales. La démocratie tend donc aussi à disparaître de l’organisation sociale occidentale. Le totalitarisme financier a soumis les pouvoirs politiques. Le totalitarisme financier est froid. Il ne connaît ni la pitié ni les sentiments. Les dictatures politiques sont pitoyables en comparaison avec la dictature financière. Une certaine résistance était possible au sein des dictatures les plus dures. Aucune révolte n’est possible contre la banque. 

V. L. : Et la révolution ? 

A. Z. : Le totalitarisme démocratique et la dictature financière excluent la révolution sociale. 

V. L. : Pourquoi ? 

A. Z. : Parce qu’ils combinent la brutalité militaire toute puissante et l’étranglement financier planétaire. Toutes les révolutions ont bénéficié de soutien venu de l’étranger. C’est désormais impossible, par absence de pays souverains. De plus, la classe ouvrière a été remplacée au bas de l’échelle sociale, par la classe des chômeurs. Or que veulent les chômeurs ? Un emploi. Ils sont donc, contrairement à la classe ouvrière du passé, dans une situation de faiblesse. 


V. L. : Les systèmes totalitaires avaient tous une idéologie. Quelle est celle de cette nouvelle société que vous appelez post-démocratique ? 

A. Z. : Les théoriciens et les politiciens occidentaux les plus influents considèrent que nous sommes entrés dans une époque post-idéologique. Parce qu’ils sous-entendent par « idéologie » le communisme, le fascisme, le nazisme, etc. En réalité, l’idéologie, la supraidéologie du monde occidental, développée au cours des cinquante dernières années, est bien plus forte que le communisme ou le national-socialisme. Le citoyen occidental en est bien plus abruti que ne l’était le soviétique moyen par la propagande communiste. Dans le domaine idéologique, l’idée importe moins que les mécanismes de sa diffusion. Or la puissance des médias occidentaux est, par exemple, incomparablement plus grande que celle, énorme pourtant, du Vatican au sommet de son pouvoir. Et ce n’est pas tout : le cinéma, la littérature, la philosophie, tous les moyens d’influence et de diffusion de la culture au sens large vont dans le même sens. A la moindre impulsion, ceux qui travaillent dans ces domaines réagissent avec un unanimisme qui laisse penser à des ordres venant d’une source de pouvoir unique. (…)

V. L. : Mais cette « supraidéologie » ne propage-t-elle pas aussi la tolérance et le respect ? 

A. Z. : Quand vous écoutez les élites occidentales, tout est pur, généreux, respectueux de la personne humaine. Ce faisant, elles appliquent une règle classique de la propagande : masquer la réalité par le discours. Car il suffit d’allumer la télévision, d’aller au cinéma, d’ouvrir les livres à succès, d’écouter la musique la plus diffusée, pour se rendre compte que ce qui est propagé en réalité c’est le culte du sexe, de la violence et de l’argent. Le discours noble et généreux est donc destiné à masquer ces trois piliers – il y en a d’autres – de la démocratie totalitaire. 

V. L. : Mais que faites-vous des droits de l’homme ? Ne sont-ils pas respectés en Occident bien plus qu’ailleurs ? 

A. Z. : L’idée des droits de l’homme est désormais soumise elle aussi à une pression croissante. L’idée, purement idéologique, selon laquelle ils seraient innés et inaltérables ne résisterait même pas à un début d’examen rigoureux. Je suis prêt à soumettre l’idéologie occidentale à l’analyse scientifique, exactement comme je l’ai fait pour le communisme. Ce sera peut-être un peu long pour un entretien. 

V. L. : N’a-t-elle pas une idée maîtresse ? 

A. Z. : C’est le mondialisme, la globalisation. Autrement dit : la domination mondiale. Et comme cette idée est assez antipathique, on la masque sous le discours plus vague et généreux d’unification planétaire, de transformation du monde en un tout intégré. C’est le vieux masque idéologique soviétique ; celui de l’amitié entre les peuples, « amitié » destinée à couvrir l’expansionnisme. En réalité, l’Occident procède actuellement à un changement de structure à l’échelle planétaire. D’un côté, la société occidentale domine le monde de la tête et des épaules et de l’autre, elle s’organise elle-même verticalement, avec le pouvoir supranational au sommet de la pyramide. 

V. L. : Un gouvernement mondial ? 

A. Z. : Si vous voulez. 

V. L. : Croire cela n’est-ce-pas être un peu victime du fantasme du complot ? 

A. Z. : Quel complot ? Il n’y a aucun complot. Le gouvernement mondial est dirigé par les gouverneurs des structures supranationales commerciales, financières et politiques connues de tous. Selon mes calculs, une cinquantaine de millions de personnes fait déjà partie de cette suprasociété qui dirige le monde. Les États-Unis en sont la métropole. Les pays d’Europe occidentale et certains anciens « dragons » asiatiques, la base. Les autres sont dominés suivant une dure gradation économico-financière. Ça, c’est la réalité. La propagande, elle, prétend qu’un gouvernement mondial contrôlé par un parlement mondial serait souhaitable, car le monde est une vaste fraternité. Ce ne sont là que des balivernes destinées aux populations. 


V. L. : Le Parlement européen aussi ? 

A. Z. : Non, car le Parlement européen existe. Mais il serait naïf de croire que l’union de l’Europe s’est faite parce que les gouvernements des pays concernés l’ont décidé gentiment. L’Union européenne est un instrument de destruction des souverainetés nationales. Elle fait partie des projets élaborés par les organismes supranationaux. 

V. L. : La Communauté européenne a changé de nom après la destruction de l’Union soviétique. Elle s’est appelée Union européenne, comme pour la remplacer. Après tout, il y avait d’autres noms possibles. Aussi, ses dirigeants s’appellent-ils « commissaires », comme les Bolcheviks. Ils sont à la tête d’une « Commission », comme les Bolcheviks. Le dernier président a été « élu » tout en étant candidat unique. 

A. Z. : Il ne faut pas oublier que des lois régissent l’organisation sociale. Organiser un million d’hommes c’est une chose, dix millions c’en est une autre, cent millions, c’est bien plus compliqué encore. Organiser cinq cent millions est une tâche immense. Il faut créer de nouveaux organismes de direction, former des gens qui vont les administrer, les faire fonctionner. C’est indispensable. Or l’Union soviétique est, en effet, un exemple classique de conglomérat multinational coiffé d’une structure dirigeante supranationale. L’Union européenne veut faire mieux que l’Union soviétique ! C’est légitime. J’ai déjà été frappé, il y a vingt ans, de voir à quel point les soi-disant tares du système soviétique étaient amplifiées en Occident. 

V. L. : Par exemple ? 

A. Z. : La planification ! L’économie occidentale est infiniment plus planifiée que ne l’a jamais été l’économie soviétique. La bureaucratie ! En Union Soviétique 10 % à 12 % de la population active travaillaient dans la direction et l’administration du pays. Aux États Unis, ils sont entre 16 % et 20 %. C’est pourtant l’URSS qui était critiquée pour son économie planifiée et la lourdeur de son appareil bureaucratique ! Le Comité central du PCUS employait deux mille personnes. L’ensemble de l’appareil du Parti communiste soviétique était constitué de 150000 salariés. Vous trouverez aujourd’hui même, en Occident, des dizaines voire des centaines d’entreprises bancaires et industrielles qui emploient un nombre bien plus élevé de gens. L’appareil bureaucratique du Parti communiste soviétique était pitoyable en comparaison avec ceux des grandes multinationales. L’URSS était en réalité un pays sous-administré. Les fonctionnaires de l’administration auraient dû être deux à trois fois plus nombreux. L’Union européenne le sait, et en tient compte. L’intégration est impossible sans la création d’un très important appareil administratif. 

V. L. : Ce que vous dites est contraire aux idées libérales, affichées par les dirigeants européens. Pensez-vous que leur libéralisme est de façade ? 

A. Z. : L’administration a tendance à croître énormément. Cette croissance est dangereuse, pour elle-même. Elle le sait. Comme tout organisme, elle trouve ses propres antidotes pour continuer à prospérer. L’initiative privée en est un. La morale publique et privée, un autre. Ce faisant, le pouvoir lutte en quelque sorte contre ses tendances à l’auto-déstabilisation. Il a donc inventé le libéralisme pour contrebalancer ses propres lourdeurs. Et le libéralisme a joué, en effet, un rôle historique considérable. Mais il serait absurde d’être libéral aujourd’hui. La société libérale n’existe plus. Sa doctrine est totalement dépassée à une époque de concentrations capitalistiques sans pareil dans l’histoire. Les mouvements d’énormes masses financières ne tiennent compte ni des intérêts des États ni de ceux des peuples, peuples composés d’individus. Le libéralisme sous-entend l’initiative personnelle et le risque financier personnel. Or, rien ne se fait aujourd’hui sans l’argent des banques. Ces banques, de moins en moins nombreuses d’ailleurs, mènent une politique dictatoriale, dirigiste par nature. Les propriétaires sont à leur merci, puisque tout est soumis au crédit et donc au contrôle des puissances financières. L’importance des individus, fondement du libéralisme, se réduit de jour en jour. Peu importe aujourd’hui qui dirige telle ou telle entreprise ; ou tel ou tel pays d’ailleurs. Bush ou Clinton, Kohl ou Schröder, Chirac ou Jospin, quelle importance ? Ils mènent et mèneront la même politique. 

V. L. : Les totalitarismes du XXe siècle ont été extrêmement violents. On ne peut dire la même chose de la démocratie occidentale. 

A. Z. : Ce ne sont pas les méthodes, ce sont les résultats qui importent. Un exemple ? L’URSS a perdu vingt million d’hommes et subi des destructions considérables, en combattant l’Allemagne nazie. Pendant la guerre froide, guerre sans bombes ni canons pourtant, ses pertes, sur tous les plans, ont été bien plus considérables ! La durée de vie des Russes a chuté de dix ans dans les dix dernières années. La mortalité dépasse la natalité de manière catastrophique. Deux millions d’enfants ne dorment pas à la maison. Cinq millions d’enfants en âge d’étudier ne vont pas à l’école. Il y a douze millions de drogués recensés. L’alcoolisme s’est généralisé. 70 % des jeunes ne sont pas aptes au service militaire à cause de leur état physique. Ce sont là des conséquences directes de la défaite dans la guerre froide, défaite suivie par l’occidentalisation. Si cela continue, la population du pays descendra rapidement de cent-cinquante à cent, puis à cinquante millions d’habitants. Le totalitarisme démocratique surpassera tous ceux qui l’ont précédé. 


V. L. : En violence ? 

A. Z. : La drogue, la malnutrition, le sida sont plus efficaces que la violence guerrière. Quoique, après la guerre froide dont la force de destruction a été colossale, l’Occident vient d’inventer la « guerre pacifique ». L’Irak et la Yougoslavie sont deux exemples de réponse disproportionnée et de punition collective, que l’appareil de propagande se charge d’habiller en « juste cause » ou en « guerre humanitaire ». L’exercice de la violence par les victimes contre elles-mêmes est une autre technique prisée. La contre-révolution russe de 1985 en est un exemple. Mais en faisant la guerre à la Yougoslavie, les pays d’Europe occidentale l’ont faite aussi à eux-mêmes. 

V. L. : Selon vous, la guerre contre la Serbie était aussi une guerre contre l’Europe ? 

A. Z. : Absolument. Il existe, au sein de l’Europe, des forces capables de lui imposer d’agir contre elle-même. La Serbie a été choisie, parce qu’elle résistait au rouleau compresseur mondialiste. La Russie pourrait être la prochaine sur la liste. Avant la Chine. 

V. L. : Malgré son arsenal nucléaire ? 

A. Z. : L’arsenal nucléaire russe est énorme mais dépassé. De plus, les Russes sont moralement prêts à être conquis. A l’instar de leurs aïeux qui se rendaient par millions dans l’espoir de vivre mieux sous Hitler que sous Staline, ils souhaitent même cette conquête, dans le même espoir fou de vivre mieux. C’est une victoire idéologique de l’Occident. Seul un lavage de cerveau peut obliger quelqu’un à voir comme positive la violence faite à soi-même. Le développement des mass-media permet des manipulations auxquelles ni Hitler ni Staline ne pouvaient rêver. Si demain, pour des raisons « X », le pouvoir supranational décidait que, tout compte fait, les Albanais posent plus de problèmes que les Serbes, la machine de propagande changerait immédiatement de direction, avec la même bonne conscience. Et les populations suivraient, car elles sont désormais habituées à suivre. Je le répète : on peut tout justifier idéologiquement. L’idéologie des droits de l’homme ne fait pas exception. Partant de là, je pense que le XXIe siècle dépassera en horreur tout ce que l’humanité a connu jusqu’ici. Songez seulement au futur combat contre le communisme chinois. Pour vaincre un pays aussi peuplé, ce n’est ni dix ni vingt mais peut-être cinq cent millions d’individus qu’il faudra éliminer. Avec le développement que connaît actuellement la machine de propagande ce chiffre est tout à fait atteignable. Au nom de la liberté et des droits de l’homme, évidemment. A moins qu’une nouvelle cause, non moins noble, sorte de quelque institution spécialisée en relations publiques. 

V. L. : Ne pensez-vous pas que les hommes et les femmes peuvent avoir des opinions, voter, sanctionner par le vote ? 

A. Z. : D’abord les gens votent déjà peu et voteront de moins en moins. Quant à l’opinion publique occidentale, elle est désormais conditionnée par les médias. Il n’y a qu’à voir le oui massif à la guerre du Kosovo. Songez donc à la guerre d’Espagne ! Les volontaires arrivaient du monde entier pour combattre dans un camp comme dans l’autre. Souvenez-vous de la guerre du Vietnam. Les gens sont désormais si conditionnés qu’ils ne réagissent plus que dans le sens voulu par l’appareil de propagande. 

V. L. : L’URSS et la Yougoslavie étaient les pays les plus multiethniques du monde et pourtant ils ont été détruits. Voyez-vous un lien entre la destruction des pays multiethniques d’un côté et la propagande de la multiethnicité de l’autre ? 

A. Z. : Le totalitarisme soviétique avait créé une vraie société multinationale et multiethnique. Ce sont les démocraties occidentales qui ont fait des efforts de propagande surhumains, à l’époque de la guerre froide, pour réveiller les nationalismes. Parce qu’elles voyaient dans l’éclatement de l’URSS le meilleur moyen de la détruire. Le même mécanisme a fonctionné en Yougoslavie. L’Allemagne a toujours voulu la mort de la Yougoslavie. Unie, elle aurait été plus difficile à vaincre. Le système occidental consiste à diviser pour mieux imposer sa loi à toutes les parties à la fois, et s’ériger en juge suprême. Il n’y a pas de raison pour qu’il ne soit pas appliqué à la Chine. Elle pourrait être divisée, en dizaines d’États. 

V. L. : La Chine et l’Inde ont protesté de concert contre les bombardements de la Yougoslavie. Pourraient-elles éventuellement constituer un pôle de résistance ? Deux milliards d’individus, ce n’est pas rien ! 

A. Z. : La puissance militaire et les capacités techniques de l’Occident sont sans commune mesure avec les moyens de ces deux pays. 

V. L. : Parce que les performances du matériel de guerre américain en Yougoslavie vous ont impressionné ? 

A. Z. : Ce n’est pas le problème. Si la décision avait été prise, la Serbie aurait cessé d’exister en quelques heures. Les dirigeants du Nouvel ordre mondial ont apparemment choisi la stratégie de la violence permanente. Les conflits locaux vont se succéder pour être arrêtés par la machine de « guerre pacifique » que nous venons de voir à l’oeuvre. Cela peut, en effet, être une technique de management planétaire. L’Occident contrôle la majeure partie des ressources naturelles mondiales. Ses ressources intellectuelles sont des millions de fois supérieures à celles du reste de la planète. C’est cette écrasante supériorité qui détermine sa domination technique, artistique, médiatique, informatique, scientifique dont découlent toutes les autres formes de domination. Tout serait simple s’il suffisait de conquérir le monde. Mais il faut encore le diriger. C’est cette question fondamentale que les Américains essaient maintenant de résoudre. C’est cela qui rend « incompréhensibles » certaines actions de la « communauté internationale ». Pourquoi Saddam est-il toujours là ? Pourquoi Karadzic n’est-il toujours pas arrêté ? Voyez-vous, à l’époque du Christ, nous étions peut-être cent millions sur l’ensemble du globe. Aujourd’hui, le Nigeria compte presqu’autant d’habitants ! Le milliard d’Occidentaux et assimilés va diriger le reste du monde. Mais ce milliard devra être dirigé à son tour. Il faudra probablement deux cent millions de personnes pour diriger le monde occidental. Il faut les sélectionner, les former. Voilà pourquoi la Chine est condamnée à l’échec dans sa lutte contre l’hégémonie occidentale. Ce pays sous-administré n’a ni les capacités économiques ni les ressources intellectuelles pour mettre en place un appareil de direction efficace, composé de quelque trois cent millions d’individus. Seul l’Occident est capable de résoudre les problèmes de management à l’échelle de la planète. Cela se met déjà en place. Les centaines de milliers d’Occidentaux se trouvant dans les anciens pays communistes, en Russie par exemple, occupent dans leur écrasante majorité des postes de direction. La démocratie totalitaire sera aussi une démocratie coloniale. 

V. L. : Pour Marx, la colonisation était civilisatrice. Pourquoi ne le serait-elle pas à nouveau ? 

A. Z. : Pourquoi pas, en effet ? Mais pas pour tout le monde. Quel est l’apport des Indiens d’Amérique à la civilisation ? Il est presque nul, car ils ont été exterminés, écrasés. Voyez maintenant l’apport des Russes ! L’Occident se méfiait d’ailleurs moins de la puissance militaire soviétique que de son potentiel intellectuel, artistique, sportif. Parce qu’il dénotait une extraordinaire vitalité. Or c’est la première chose à détruire chez un ennemi. Et c’est ce qui a été fait. La science russe dépend aujourd’hui des financements américains. Et elle est dans un état pitoyable, car ces derniers n’ont aucun intérêt à financer des concurrents. Ils préfèrent faire travailler les savants russes aux USA. Le cinéma soviétique a été lui aussi détruit et remplacé par le cinéma américain. En littérature, c’est la même chose. La domination mondiale s’exprime, avant tout, par le diktat intellectuel ou culturel si vous préférez. Voilà pourquoi les Américains s’acharnent, depuis des décennies, à baisser le niveau culturel et intellectuel du monde : ils veulent le ramener au leur pour pouvoir exercer ce diktat. 

V. L. : Mais cette domination, ne serait-elle pas, après tout, un bien pour l’humanité ? 

A. Z. : Ceux qui vivront dans dix générations pourront effectivement dire que les choses se sont faites pour le bien de l’humanité, autrement dit pour leur bien à eux. Mais qu’en est-il du Russe ou du Français qui vit aujourd’hui ? Peut-il se réjouir s’il sait que l’avenir de son peuple pourrait être celui des Indiens d’Amérique ? Le terme d’Humanité est une abstraction. Dans la vie réelle il y a des Russes, des Français, des Serbes, etc. Or si les choses continuent comme elles sont parties, les peuples qui ont fait notre civilisation, je pense avant tout aux peuples latins, vont progressivement disparaître. L’Europe occidentale est submergée par une marée d’étrangers. Nous n’en avons pas encore parlé, mais ce n’est ni le fruit du hasard, ni celui de mouvements prétendument incontrôlables. Le but est de créer en Europe une situation semblable à celle des États-Unis. Savoir que l’humanité va être heureuse, mais sans Français, ne devrait pas tellement réjouir les Français actuels. Après tout, laisser sur terre un nombre limité de gens qui vivraient comme au Paradis, pourrait être un projet rationnel. Ceux-là penseraient d’ailleurs sûrement que leur bonheur est l’aboutissement de la marche de l’histoire. Non, il n’est de vie que celle que nous et les nôtres vivons aujourd’hui. 

V. L. : Le système soviétique était inefficace. Les sociétés totalitaires sont-elles toutes condamnées à l’inefficacité ? 

A. Z. : Qu’est-ce que l’efficacité ? Aux États-Unis, les sommes dépensées pour maigrir dépassent le budget de la Russie. Et pourtant le nombre des gros augmente. Il y a des dizaines d’exemples de cet ordre. 

V. L. : Peut-on dire que l’Occident vit actuellement une radicalisation qui porte les germes de sa propre destruction ? 

A. Z. : Le nazisme a été détruit dans une guerre totale. Le système soviétique était jeune et vigoureux. Il aurait continué à vivre s’il n’avait pas été combattu de l’extérieur. Les systèmes sociaux ne s’autodétruisent pas. Seule une force extérieure peut anéantir un système social. Comme seul un obstacle peut empêcher une boule de rouler. Je pourrais le démontrer comme on démontre un théorème. Actuellement, nous sommes dominés par un pays disposant d’une supériorité économique et militaire écrasante. Le Nouvel ordre mondial se veut unipolaire. Si le gouvernement supranational y parvenait, n’ayant aucun ennemi extérieur, ce système social unique pourrait exister jusqu’à la fin des temps. Un homme seul peut être détruit par ses propres maladies. Mais un groupe, même restreint, aura déjà tendance à se survivre par la reproduction. Imaginez un système social composé de milliards d’individus ! Ses possibilités de repérer et d’arrêter les phénomènes autodestructeurs seront infinies. Le processus d’uniformisation du monde ne peut être arrêté dans l’avenir prévisible. Car le totalitarisme démocratique est la dernière phase de l’évolution de la société occidentale, évolution commencée à la Renaissance.


Biographie d’Alexandre Zinoviev 

Alexandre Zinoviev est né dans un village de la région de Kostroma (URSS). Ses parents (le père est peintre en bâtiment) emménagent à Moscou. Alexandre qui montre de grandes capacités entre à l’Institut de philosophie, littérature et histoire de Moscou en 1939. Ses activités clandestines de critique de la construction du socialisme lui valent d’être exclu de l’Institut. Arrêté, puis évadé, il vit une année d’errance avant de s’enrôler dans l’Armée Rouge où il finit la Seconde Guerre mondiale comme aviateur et décoré de l’ordre de l’Étoile rouge. 

Entré à la faculté de philosophie de l’Université d’État de Moscou en 1946, Alexandre Zinoviev obtient en 1951 son diplôme avec mention. En 1954 il soutient une thèse de doctorat sur le thème de la logique dans Le Capital de Karl Marx, puis devient, l’année suivante, collaborateur scientifique de l’Institut de philosophie de l’Académie des sciences d’URSS. 

Alexandre Zinoviev est nommé professeur et directeur de la chaire de logique de l’Université d’Etat de Moscou en 1960. Il publie de nombreux livres et articles scientifiques de renommée internationale (ses oeuvres majeures ayant toutes été traduites à destination de l’Occident). Souvent invité à des conférences à l’étranger, il décline cependant toutes ces invitations. 

Après avoir refusé de renvoyer deux enseignants Alexandre Zinoviev est démis de son poste de professeur et de directeur de la chaire de logique. En 1976, pour avoir voulu publier Hauteurs béantes, un recueil de textes ironiques sur la vie en Union soviétique, il se voit proposer par les organes de sécurité le choix entre la prison et l’exil. Avec sa famille, il trouve refuge à Munich où il accomplit diverses tâches scientifiques ou littéraires. 

Révolté par la participation de la France et de l’Europe occidentale aux opérations de l’OTAN contre la Serbie, Alexandre Zinoviev retourne en Russie en 1999. Dans son article « Quand a vécu Aristote ? », il soutient que les récits et écrits historiques ont toujours été de tout temps détournés, effacés, falsifiés au profit d’un vainqueur. 

Source Liliane Held Khawam

samedi, 15 décembre 2018

La séquence d’auto-destruction


La séquence d’auto-destruction

par Dmitry Orlov
Ex: https://echelledejacob.blogspot.com 
Nous approchons de la fin 2018 avec un rythme accéléré d’articles et d’analyses annonçant la disparition des États-Unis en tant que superpuissance mondiale, leurs énormes problèmes politiques, économiques et sociaux et leur liste toujours plus longue d’échecs stratégiques et géopolitiques, trop évidents pour être ignorés. Il peut y avoir de nombreux points de vue possibles sur la suite, d’une descente graduelle ou progressive vers la dépression, le dysfonctionnement et l’insignifiance jusqu’à la catastrophe mondiale par le biais d’un anéantissement nucléaire, et il existe à peu près autant de façons de raisonner à ce sujet, sur la base de modèles macroéconomiques, de méthodes d’évaluation des risques, de croyances ardentes en la seconde venue du Christ ou sur de bonnes vieilles méthodes démodées de boules de cristal. Je voudrais proposer une autre méthode : le raisonnement par analogie. Cela m’a déjà été très utile. 

Je l’ai utilisé pour la première fois il y a 13 ans – le 1er juin 2005 à 9h du matin, pour être trop précis – lorsque j’ai publié mon tout premier article sur le sujet (partie 2partie 3 et le tout en français), dans lequel je considérais sérieusement l’idée que les États-Unis allaient suivre le chemin de l’URSS, qui s’était écroulée 14 ans auparavant, le 25 décembre 1991. Je l’ai suivi d’une présentation qui expliquait en détail comment la population de l’URSS était par inadvertance, à cause de ses nombreux déficits et inefficacités, beaucoup mieux préparée à survivre à un effondrement que ne le sera jamais celle des États-Unis. 

Si vous acceptez cette prémisse de base, alors mon analyse initiale est toujours tout à fait valable. Le seul grand oubli, c’est que j’ai négligé l’effet du phénomène de fracturation hydraulique aux États-Unis et le report du pic mondial de production d’hydrocarbures, mais ce n’est que cela, un léger retard. Et étant donné le rythme constant et croissant des nouvelles et des analyses qui annoncent la disparition de l’Amérique, la prémisse de mon analyse semble de moins en moins farfelue.

Le 25 décembre 1991 reste gravé dans la mémoire de millions de personnes comme le début d’un cataclysme majeur qui a détruit le pays où ils ont grandi et qu’ils aimaient. Ce serait bien de pouvoir indiquer une date tout aussi précise pour la disparition des États-Unis, disons le mardi 20 octobre 2020, mais aucune boule de cristal ne peut justifier une telle précision. Disons simplement que des événements de cette ampleur ont tendance à surprendre tout le monde. Ce qui a été particulièrement surprenant dans l’effondrement de l’URSS, c’est la rapidité avec laquelle il s’est déroulé. 

L’URSS est passée de parfaitement stable à inexistante en cinq ans environ. Les politiciens américains ont été particulièrement décontenancés : un moment ils la voyaient comme un monolithe politique et militaire, et l’instant d’après ils furent forcés de considérer les conséquences horribles de l’effondrement économique et politique de trois entités nucléaires – la Russie, l’Ukraine et le Kazakhstan – et durent réduire considérablement les arsenaux stratégiques américains afin de se positionner pour exercer une pression contre une prolifération nucléaire incontrôlée. 

Bien que certains politiciens américains, en particulier George H.W. Bush, fraîchement décédé, aient voulu s’attribuer le mérite de l’effondrement de l’Union soviétique, le qualifiant de « victoire de la guerre froide », il ne s’agissait de la victoire de personne. La guerre froide n’a jamais été chaude, et c’est pourquoi la Russie et les États-Unis existent toujours. Au lieu de cela, l’Union soviétique s’est autodétruite, ce qu’elle n’aurait probablement pas fait si elle s’était mobilisée pour lutter contre une menace extérieure. La situation n’est pas différente maintenant. Les guerres entre puissances nucléaires sont suicidaires et donc impensables, et les États-Unis ne sont confrontés à aucune menace extérieure d’aucune importance. 

Si l’analogie avec l’URSS tient toujours (comme cela devrait l’être), la période entre le moment où la séquence d’autodestruction est lancée et celui où les États-Unis cessent d’exister sera également de l’ordre de cinq ans. Nous pouvons garder ma date proposée du mardi 20 octobre 2020 pour se revoir afin de vérifier si la séquence d’autodestruction a été initiée. Bien sûr, si les États-Unis s’effondrent avant, je m’attends à ce que tout le monde me paye à boire, et si ce pays s’effondre à cette date précise, je serai sans doute insupportablement suffisant pendant un bon moment après cela. 

Comment savoir si la séquence d’autodestruction a été déclenchée ? Il y a deux signes révélateurs. La première est qu’il existe une reconnaissance et une acceptation communes du fait qu’il faut faire quelque chose pour éviter l’effondrement. La perestroïka de Gorbatchev et « Make America Great Again » de Trump sont deux signes de désespoir. La seconde est que chaque tentative de prévenir ou de retarder l’effondrement le rapproche, chaque perturbation augmente le désordre et la portée de l’action productive se réduit à presque rien. Les tentatives de Gorbatchev de libéraliser l’économie soviétique centralement planifiée ont fait chuter la production, tandis que les tentatives actuelles de Trump de renégocier les relations commerciales font augmenter le déficit commercial, le déficit budgétaire et les coûts d’emprunt en même temps. 

Ce ne sont là que quelques-uns des signaux que nous pouvons déjà déceler, mais pour voir la séquence d’autodestruction soviétique en action et l’appliquer aux États-Unis, je devrai établir des parallèles supplémentaires entre les deux, notamment : l’échec du leadership ; l’échec de l’idéologie ; la perte de compétitivité internationale ; la fin de la croissance et l’impasse finale et inévitable vers une faillite nationale. Je m’en occupe dès maintenant.

Dmitry Orlov 

Traduit par Hervé, vérifié par Wayan, relu par Cat pour le Saker Francophone

mardi, 28 mars 2017

"Nous", le roman qui a inspiré Huxley, Orwell et Terry Gilliam

Jewgenij Samjatin.jpg

"Nous", le roman qui a inspiré Huxley, Orwell et Terry Gilliam

Ex: http://www.lepoint.fr 
Son nom ne vous dit sans doute rien, mais Evgueni Zamiatine a écrit en 1920 un ouvrage d'anticipation (réédité aujourd'hui) sidérant d'acuité

Tout le monde (ou presque) a oublié son nom. L'écrivain russe Evgueni Ivanovitch Zamiatine est pourtant un auteur majeur. Né le 1er février 1884 à Lebedian, une petite ville à 300 kilomètres au sud de Moscou, d'un père pope orthodoxe et d'une mère musicienne, cet architecte naval n'a que peu publié. Son œuvre compte moins d'une vingtaine de romans, recueils de nouvelles et pièces de théâtre. Si le nom de Zamiatine est passé à la postérité, c'est comme scénariste de Jean Renoir. Il a, de fait, signé l'adaptation des Bas-Fonds de Maxime Gorki, un an avant de mourir à Paris, à l'âge de 53 ans, le 10 mars 1937.

Son roman le plus remarquable, écrit en 1920, est aujourd'hui republié aux éditions Actes Sud dans une nouvelle traduction d'Hélène Henry. Et il faut absolument le lire ! Son titre, « Nous » (« Мы » en russe), résume son propos. Il consiste à décrire froidement le monde dans lequel « nous » nous apprêtons à vivre. Un univers futuriste, à l'époque où Zamiatine écrit son roman, mais qui ressemble aujourd'hui à une allégorie de notre époque.

Qu'on en juge… Nous sommes au XXVIe siècle et la Terre sort de deux cents ans de guerre où se sont affrontés deux mondes : celui de la campagne et celui de la ville. Le héros, D-503 (les hommes ont perdu depuis longtemps leur identité au profit d'un matricule), est ingénieur. Il travaille sur le chantier de construction d'un vaisseau spatial surnommé l'Intégral. Cet engin est destiné à entrer en contact avec des civilisations extraterrestres dans le but de coloniser leurs planètes et de les convertir au « bonheur » terrestre. Mais il fait aussi figure de bateau de sauvetage pour l'humanité tant notre monde ressemble à un enfer.


Journal intime

Régie par un « État unitaire » despotique qui ne tolère chez ses sujets aucun secret, la plus grande partie du globe est recouverte par une immense cité, composée de grandes tours de verre transparent où tout un chacun vit au vu et au su de tout le monde. (Snowden, es-tu là ?). Les seuls moments d'intimité tolérés consistent en ces brefs instants où les habitants ont pour mission de procréer afin d'assurer la perpétuation de l'espèce humaine. Et encore… pour être autorisé à tirer le rideau, encore faut-il avoir obtenu un sésame : en l'espèce un ticket rose, parcimonieusement distribué aux sujets les plus obéissants. La rencontre de D-503 avec une jolie femme, I-330, va bouleverser son existence en lui faisant découvrir qu'une autre vie est possible où il est loisible d'avoir des secrets. Et, encore mieux, de jouir de liberté, même si cela rime avec imprévisibilité et précarité.

I-330, « résistante » au système (elle boit, fume et fait l'amour à qui lui plaît), parviendra-t-elle à le faire s'évader de cet État totalitaire pour rejoindre la dernière parcelle de nature qui se dissimule derrière un grand mur vert ? Les deux amoureux échapperont-ils à la sinistre police du « Bienfaiteur », comme s'est autoproclamé le tyran qui règne sur l'État ? Composé comme un journal intime, découpé en quarante chapitres, où D-503 expose tour à tour son quotidien, ses fantasmes et ses états d'âme, Nous gardera jusqu'au bout les réponses à ces questions.


On l'aura compris : ce roman est une dystopie, comme on nomme les contre-utopies cauchemardesques en science-fiction. On ne s'étonnera pas qu'Aldous Huxley ait puisé dans l'univers dysfonctionnel de Zamiatine l'inspiration du Meilleur des mondes, tout comme George Orwell celle de 1984. Ce roman a également beaucoup influencé Kurt Vonnegut pour son Pianiste déchaîné et Terry Gilliam : plusieurs scènes de Brazil semblent tout droit tirées de ce livre. Interdit de publication par Moscou qui y voyait, à juste titre, une dénonciation du régime bolchevique, Nous, paru initialement en 1924 en Grande-Bretagne où Zamiatine avait vécu quelques mois sur le chantier de construction de navires-brise-glace (dont l'Intégral semble la transposition SF), avait été traduit en français en 1929 sous le titre de Nous autres (Gallimard). Il n'est sorti en URSS qu'en 1988.

Critique acerbe de la société pré-stalinienne, cet ouvrage ne saurait cependant être réduit à son anticommunisme, car, même s'il était un adversaire de Trotski, Zamiatine n'en avait pas moins été un compagnon de route des révolutionnaires léninistes. S'il résonne encore aujourd'hui, c'est surtout parce que ce roman singulier décrit une modernité broyant les individus sous le poids de la technologie et de la science. À commencer par ces algorithmes prédictifs, censés apporter le bonheur aux hommes en gommant toutes les aspérités que nous appelons le hasard. Cela ne vous rappelle rien ?

Nous , d'Evgueni Zamiatine, traduction d'Hélène Henry, éditions Actes Sud, 240 pages, 21 €

Extrait :
« Je ne fais ici que recopier – mot pour mot – ce que publie aujourd'hui le Journal officiel : Dans cent vingt jours, la construction de l'Intégrale sera achevée. Proche est l'heure historique où la première Intégrale s'élèvera dans l'espace universel. Il y a mille ans, vos héroïques ancêtres ont soumis le monde entier au pouvoir de l'État Unitaire. Vous avez devant vous un exploit encore plus glorieux : la résolution de l'équation infinie de l'Univers grâce à l'Intégrale, cette machine électrique de verre qui souffle le feu. Vous êtes destinés à soumettre au joug bienfaisant de la raison des êtres inconnus qui habitent d'autres planètes et sont peut-être encore en état de liberté primitive. S'ils refusent de comprendre que nous leur apportons un bonheur mathématiquement exact, notre devoir sera de les obliger à être heureux. Mais avant de recourir aux armes, nous essayons la parole. »

vendredi, 20 novembre 2015

Antifascistas en el Gulag


Antifascistas en el Gulag

por Joaquín Albaicín

Ex: http://culturatransversal.wordpress.com

¿Qué hacía Rafael Pelayo de Hungría, comunista español y partisano soviético en las estepas, fugándose de la Unión Soviética con un sargento de la División Azul, camuflados ambos entre los contingentes de ex combatientes alemanes repatriados tras lago cautiverio en Rusia? Pues… ¿qué iba a hacer? Sencillamente, poner pies en polvorosa como fuera tras arrojar a la letrina el lastre que siempre supone eso de tener una ideología.

Y es que uno de los muchos saldos en números rojos dejados en 1939 por la derrota de la República fue el de los exiliados, y no sólo porque el papel moneda emitido por Madrid hubiera perdido todo valor. Para los fugitivos, claro, no era lo mismo haber logrado hallar acomodo –por precario que fuera- en México o París que en la URSS. Persuadidos por sus líderes de que el paraíso de los obreros era su lugar en la vida, muchos comunistas ibéricos recalaron allí, donde desde hacía tiempo les esperaban, aparte de unos tres mil “niños de la guerra”, bastantes pilotos en su día desplazados hasta tan remotos parajes para recibir cursos de vuelo, así como marinos a cuyos barcos sorprendió el final de la contienda atracados en puertos rusos.

Lógicamente, en cuanto se coscaron del cenizo que recubría toda la pesadilla leninista y constataron que allí se vivía en la miseria y a golpe de látigo, tanto los comunistas como quienes no lo eran iniciaron denodados trámites –supuestamente existentes- para ser autorizados a abandonar el país y trasladarse bien a España, bien a otras naciones donde podrían reunirse con sus familiares. La dirección del PC español fue el mayor obstáculo con que se toparon. En primer lugar, que los antifascistas huyeran de las condiciones de vida vigentes en la URSS no constituía una propaganda deseable. En segundo, era de temer que contaran cómo de verdad transcurrían allí las cosas. Finalmente, aquello constituiría un imperdonable desaire a Dolores Ibárruri, en torno a la cual los dirigentes comunistas españoles estaban edificando un culto a la personalidad calcado del promovido por el PCUS en torno a Stalin: si éste era el severo Padrecito de Todos los Soviéticos, ella –La Pasionaria– era la amantísima Madre de Todos los Obreros Españoles.

La política adoptada por el PCE de la época se centró, pues, en la ejecución de purgas internas paralelas a las regularmente aplicadas en sus filas por el PCUS, así que la Madrecita puso enseguida manos a la obra a un equipo de leales con la misión de investigar y denunciar ante las autoridades soviéticas las conspiraciones fascistas en que andaban envueltos todos aquellos traidores que abominaban de la sopa de remolacha soviética.


La primera medida fue suave: invitar, a todos los aspirantes a marcharse, a firmar un documento declarando lo felices que vivían en la URSS y solicitando que Moscú no prestara oídos a futuras peticiones que, para sacarlos de allí, pudieran formular sus familias o cualquier organización o gobierno. Como sólo lo rubricaron dos, los republicanos españoles empezaron muy pronto a conocer el Gulag, donde –bromas del Destino- coincidirían con los cautivos de la División Azul. Son los líos en que se mete la gente, o en los que la vida enreda a los habitantes del Valle de Lágrimas. Quién iba a decir a un buen señor nacido en un pueblo de Toledo y anarquista, comunista, socialista o, simplemente, republicano de toda la vida, que iba un buen día a verse cargando vagonetas de pedruscos en un campo de concentración del Círculo Polar Ártico, rezando codo con codo con un falangista por que Dios diese salud y larga vida a Franco, porque él era su única esperanza de salir algún día del agujero.

Irónicamente, así ocurrió. Fue el Estado franquista quien, tras varios años y muchas negociaciones, y previo indulto de aquellos que tuvieran en España causas pendientes o condenas firmes por su actuación durante la guerra civil, sacó del infierno a los supervivientes de aquel dislate (con el consiguiente y, no en vano, merecido provecho político ante la comunidad internacional). La historia de esos esfuerzos y de los –casi baldíos- del fantasmal Gobierno de la República en el Exilio, la cuenta con todos los detalles la profesora rumana Luiza Iordache, Doctora en Ciencias Políticas y docente en la UAB, en su voluminoso y amenísimo estudio En el Gulag. Españoles republicanos en los campos de concentración de Stalin (RBA).

Aparte de tratarse de una investigación muy rigurosa, valdría la pena leerlo aunque sólo fuera por conocer la historia del “niño de la guerra” Pedro Cepeda y el curtido aviador comunista José Antonio Tuñón, que –con la ayuda de diplomáticos argentinos, en cuya embajada moscovita trabajaban como intérpretes- trataron de huir de la URSS ocultos en dos baúles. O la de su cómplice Julián Fuster, verdadero personaje de novela: cirujano en el Ejército Rojo, siete años en el Gulag a las espaldas y médico también tras su liberación en la Cuba revolucionaria, de donde hubo de marcharse por advertir de que se caminaba hacia el modelo soviético, fue uno de los tripulantes del último avión de la OMS que abandonó el Congo al estallar la guerra de Katanga antes de recalar, esta vez definitivamente, en España.

Agitada fue también la de Francisco Ramos, seis meses torturado en la Lubyanka, con quien Solzhenytsin coincidió en los campos y que, irónicamente, como los demás antifascistas españoles “residentes” en el Edén socialista, sólo podía hacer llegar noticias suyas a sus familiares a través de los soldados nazis puestos en libertad y reenviados a Alemania. Retornado a España en 1957, Ramos fue elegido como diputado del PSC-PSOE por Barcelona en 1977 y 1982. No sé qué sentiría al ver sentados con él en el hemiciclo a, por lo menos, dos o tres de las personas responsables en su momento de su envío, por “fascista”, a un campo de concentración de los Urales. Regresó dos veces a la URSS acompañando en viajes oficiales a Felipe González. “Me alegré de ser tratado como una persona en el país donde, cuando me refugié en él, fui tratado como un perro”, escribió.

En fin, que basta con echar de cuando en cuando un somero vistazo a un libro de historia para constatar que, de lo que cuente cualquier político de cualquier lugar o época, lo más juicioso es no creer de la misa ni la media. Y es que la realidad suele, sí, superar a la ficción, pero, por desgracia… casi siempre por abajo.

Foto: José Luis Chaín

vendredi, 21 février 2014

Soviet-Afghan War Lesson


Soviet-Afghan War Lesson: Political Problems Never Settled by Force

By Sergey Duz
The Voice of Russia

Ex: http://www.lewrockwell.com

25 years ago, the almost 10-year long deployment of the limited contingent of Soviet forces in Afghanistan drew to a close. Experts have since been at variance about the assessment of the Afghan campaign, but they invariably agree that it was the biggest-scale (and actually quite ambiguous, obviously for that reason) foreign policy action throughout the post-war history of the Soviet Union.

The last Soviet soldier left Afghanistan on February 15th 1989 as part of the Soviet 40th Army, which was the backbone of the limited contingent. The Soviet troops withdrew under the command of the 40th Army legendary commander, Lieutenant-General Boris Gromov. He managed to brilliantly carry out the withdrawal, with the US now trying to use his experience to more or less decently pull out of Afghanistan following the more than 20 years of actually useless occupation of that country. This is what an expert with the Centre for Modern Afghan Studies, Nikita Mendkovich, says about it in a comment.

“The Americans will have to rely heavily on intercontinental delivery means, because the troops are being evacuated to another region, to another continent. Back in 1989, it was largely a ground-force operation. The Soviet troops pulled out by land via Central Asia. The basic problem of any operation of this kind is security. Huge masses of troops and a great number of military vehicles are moving along the roads, so they should be guaranteed against likely attacks. To attain the objective, one can either reinforce local garrisons that will remain deployed in Afghanistan after the pull-out of the bulk of the troops and will cover the withdrawal, or reach agreement with the enemy not to attack the leaving troops, because this is not in the enemy’s interests”.

There are both similarities and numerous differences between the Soviet and American campaigns in Afghanistan. The main difference is that the Soviet Union did manage to achieve its goal, whereas with the United States it is no go. The Soviet troops were to render assistance to the Afghan government in settling the home policy situation. Secondly, the Soviet troops were to prevent external aggression. Both objectives were fully attained.

The Soviet political leadership felt that the revolution of April 1978 had no right to lose. Ideological reasoning was reinforced by geopolitical considerations. This predetermined Moscow’s decision to send troops, says editor-in-chief of the National Defence magazine, Igor Korotchenko, and elaborates.

“The Afghan campaign was inevitable if seen from the perspective of defending the Soviet Union’s national interests. It may seem odd, but Afghans are still nostalgic about the times when Soviet troops were deployed in their country. Even former field commanders can’t help but show some sort of liking for the Soviet Union, for the Soviet Army. We were no invaders; we helped build a new Afghanistan. The Soviet troops built tunnels, ensured the operation of water-supply systems, planted trees, built schools and hospitals, and also production facilities. The Soviet troops were indeed performing their international duty, they accomplished quite a feat. When the Soviet troops pulled out, Najibullah had a strong Afghan Army under his command. He remained in control of the situation in Afghanistan for 12 or 18 months. His regime fell when the Soviet Union cut short its material supply for Kabul. The current Afghan regime of Karzai will certainly prove short-lived; it’s no more than a phantom. The US troops will hardly pull out with their heads held high, the way the Soviet soldiers did”.

But then, some people disagree that all Afghans were happy about the Soviet military presence. The Soviet Prime Minister Alexei Kosygin pointed out the danger of the Soviet troops getting drawn into guerrilla warfare. He said in late 1979 that the invasion of Afghanistan “would trigger drastically negative many-sided consequences”. “This would essentially become a conflict not only with imperialist countries, but a conflict with the proper Afghan people. Now, people never forgive things like that”, Kosygin warned, and proved correct. This is what the chairman of the Common Afghan Centre in St. Petersburg, Naim Gol Mohammed, says about it in a comment.

“The people of Afghanistan have their own traditions, mentality and culture. The belligerent Pashtun tribes have never taken orders from anyone. These tribes never take to foreign troops. The locals revolted against the Soviet troops. The Soviet troop withdrawal in 1989 was followed by a period of anarchy. Government agencies were non-operational. The Soviet Union supplied Afghanistan with whatever was required quite well. But once the Soviet troops were out, the supplies were brought to a halt. That was bad. But the Soviet Union made the right decision, for it is impossible to defeat Afghans on their own soil”.

Quite a few experts insist that however tragic or pointless the Soviet military campaign in Afghanistan may seem, it had largely influenced the shaping of the new Russia’s optimal foreign policy. Moscow is perfectly aware today that no use of force can help resolve political problems, that these can only have a negotiated settlement. Moscow is trying to put the idea across to the main geopolitical players today. This is the most important lesson that should be learned from what experience the Soviet Union gained in Afghanistan.

Reprinted from The voice of Russia.

jeudi, 29 août 2013





Ex: http://www.eurasia-rivista.org


A riavvicinare Germania e Unione Sovietica, dopo l’allontanamento successivo all’ingresso della Germania nella Società delle Nazioni (SdN), fu soprattutto la questione polacca. Polonia e Germania, quest’ultima mai accontentatasi del riposizionamento geografico voluto a Versailles e – in particolare – della creazione ex tunc della città libera di Danzica, firmarono un patto di non aggressione nel 1934, garantendosi la reciproca neutralità nei 10 anni a venire. La Polonia, naturalmente, era conscia delle mire del terzo Reich e per questo tentò sempre l’avvicinamento a Francia e Inghilterra, in cerca di una strozzatura geopolitica nei confronti dei tedeschi. Peraltro, l’ostilità dei polacchi nei confronti del vicino sovietico, fece sì che nessun accordo militare venisse stretto con i sovietici e che, anzi, la Polonia si allontanasse allo stesso modo sia dal vicino orientale che da quello occidentale, rifiutando una modifica allo status quo e dunque ponendo le basi per l’imminente guerra, che poi diverrà mondiale. Tale posizione, dovuta sì ad alcune particolarità storiche e culturali ma, soprattutto, dall’influenza degli alleati anglosassoni e, in particolare, quella statunitense. Le potenze talassocratiche, infatti, non avevano che da trarre vantaggio da un’eventuale guerra che, chiaramente, non fosse mondiale nelle intenzioni iniziali, ma spingesse le frizioni fino ad uno scontro tra Germania e Unione Sovietica. L’intento primario era infatti quello di spingere le due potenze continentali ad affrontarsi. Per Stalin, tuttavia, questa rimaneva un’ipotesi da scacciare, o quanto meno ritardare il più possibile[1]. Furono queste le condizioni geopolitiche che portarono al patto Molotov-Ribbentrop. Una mutua assicurazione dunque, utile a Stalin per prendere tempo e alla Germania per assicurarsi da eventuali colpi di mano. Tale patto, seppur evidentemente siglato solo in funzione tattica, mise in allarme l’Inghilterra, la quale intervenne, interferendo in entrambi i trattati (polacco-tedesco e tedesco-sovietico), attraverso l’Accordo di reciproco aiuto, siglato con la Polonia – in palese infrazione di quello siglato fra Polonia e Germania, ma anche del Patto Molotov-Ribbentrop. L’intento dell’Inghilterra era quella di costruire una frattura geografica fra le due potenze eurasiatiche, in modo da impedirne l’avvicinamento e in particolar modo di impedire eventuali intese fra i polacchi e il terzo reich. Lo stesso Stalin, difatti, almeno inizialmente, attribuì le colpe della guerra completamente ad Inghilterra e Francia, e non alla Germania[2].

Oltre al noto patto, tuttavia, Germania e Unione Sovietica si legarono anche dal punto di vista commerciale, attraverso un accordo firmato l’11 febbraio 1940. Si arrivò tuttavia alla guerra, una guerra fratricida sulle terre eurasiatiche, che contrappose frontalmente le due potenze continentali. A seguito della guerra, che costò ai sovietici oltre 22 milioni di morti, la frattura fra i due paesi pareva insanabile. L’Armata Rossa marciò fino a Berlino, con spirito vendicativo. I tedeschi venivano visti come un invasore, da schiacciare senza pietà.

Il Dopoguerra


ostpolitik.jpgGli animi si placarono,  lasciando spazio al pragmatismo e al calcolo geopolitico. Nel 1945, a Jalta, avvenne la definitiva spartizione della Germania, contrapponendo di fatto da una parte gli alleati (Stati Uniti, Francia e Inghilterra) e dall’altra i sovietici. Il 1948 fu l’anno del piano Marshall, un piano economico presentato come l’inevitabile aiuto dall’oltreoceano per il risanamento delle economie europee, in realtà un mezzo economico indispensabile per il rafforzamento dell’economia statunitense ma, soprattutto, un importante collante per la formazione dell’alleanza occidentale, legata prima economicamente e poi militarmente (e politicamente) attraverso la struttura della NATO.

La divisione della Germania fu ultimata nel 1952, quando la frontiera fu definitivamente chiusa. Da quel momento l’avvicinamento della Germania dell’Ovest al sistema d’alleanze occidentale proseguì spedita. Eppure dei tentativi in funzione di una Germania unita furono mossi. Nel 1952 fu infatti Stalin stesso a proporre l’idea di una Germania unificata, a prezzo però di una sovranità limitata in politica estera: una neutralità imposta e irreversibile. Nei piani di Stalin questo avrebbe permesso la formazione di un cuscino neutrale nel cuore dell’Europa, il che avrebbe per altro sottratto la Germania dalle maglie dell’alleanza atlantica, che ne avrebbe fatto un bastione antisovietico nel cuore dell’Europa, a ridosso dell’oriente, cosa che infatti puntualmente si verificò. Il piano di Stalin fu rigettato, gli alleati occidentali dimostrarono ben presto di avere scarso interesse per una Germania unificata, non al prezzo di una neutralità che avrebbe sottratto un’importante pedina, difensiva, ma all’occorrenza anche offensiva, direttamente puntata ad Oriente, e situata nel cuore dell’Europa continentale. Per la Germania, vittima della frattura insanabile fra Est e Ovest, non poté che profilarsi la sola soluzione della divisione politica e geografica. Due Stati, dunque, per un’unica nazione. Nel 1961 tale divisione fu rimarcata attraverso la costruzione del muro, simbolo della contrapposizione frontale fra i due schieramenti.

Il primo cancelliere della Repubblica Federale Tedesca fu Konrad Adenauer, un fervente anticomunista, che tuttavia fu invitato già nel 1955 a Mosca, a seguito degli accordi di Parigi, che riconoscevano la sovranità della RFT e ufficializzavano il riconoscimento da parte Sovietica della Repubblica Federale. Adenauer fu un grande sostenitore dell’alleanza atlantica e tra gli animatori più vivaci (assieme all’omologo italiano, Alcide de Gasperi) della costituzione della Comunità Europea, tale di nome, ma meramente occidentale di fatto. Nel 1950 era infatti già stata pronunciata la cosiddetta “dichiarazione Schuman”, che prese nome dall’allora ministro degli esteri francese, Robert Schuman, e che proponeva di mettere da parte l’astio che correva fra i due vicini, ponendo le basi per una collaborazione che fosse prima economica, tramite la comune gestione delle risorse del carbone e dell’acciaio, e successivamente anche politica. Furono questi i primi passi che condussero la Germania nell’alleanza occidentale, senza alcun tipo di ripensamenti. Allo stesso Adenauer risale oltretutto la teoria dell’ “Alleinvertretungsanspruch” ovvero al diritto esclusivo della Repubblica Federale Tedesca di parlare a nome dei tedeschi. Per il cancelliere, infatti, la Germania Est altro non era che una zona d’occupazione sovietica e, in quanto tale, non meritava né il riconoscimento, né tanto meno di parlare a nome dei tedeschi. A tale posizione si aggiunse per altro la “dottrina Hallstein”, fatta propria dal cancelliere, la quale prevedeva che ogni apertura di paesi terzi alla Repubblica Democratica Tedesca, il che ne implicava il riconoscimento, era un torto alla Repubblica Federale e come tale non sarebbe stato tollerato. La parola fu mantenuta, tanto che ben presto furono tagliati i rapporti con la Jugoslavia e con Cuba.

L’aggressività occidentale, che non portò alcun risultato né al fine di attenuare gli animi, né a quello dell’unificazione tedesca, maturò in Willy Brandt, il lungimirante cancelliere che succedette ad Adenauer, la convinzione che il muro (metaforico, ma anche fisico) opposto dall’oriente fosse una reazione all’eccessiva aggressività occidentale. Con l’ascesa al cancellierato di Brandt i rapporti tra la Germania Federale e l’Unione Sovietica presero finalmente un’altra piega, giungendo ad una distensione che (escludendo naturalmente la DDR), non si aveva dall’anteguerra. “Il nostro interesse nazionale non ci consente di stare in mezzo fra est e ovest. Il nostro paese ha bisogno della collaborazione con l’occidente e dell’intesa con l’oriente”[3], da queste poche parole, pronunciate da Brandt stesso, si deducono quelli che poi furono i punti cardine dell’Ostpolitik. Non una vera e propria apertura verso l’oriente, ma una distensione, un’intesa al fine di raggiungere, per tappe, alcuni obbiettivi programmatici. Una politica sovranista che potrebbe in qualche modo essere paragonata (e forse ne fu influenzata) a quella gollista. La politica di apertura verso l’oriente, tuttavia, procedette solo dopo aver ribadito il pieno inserimento della repubblica federale all’interno del sistema occidentale, della NATO e della piena amicizia e intesa con la Francia, già consolidata da anni dalla struttura della CECA e, dopo gli accordi di Roma del ’57, dalla Comunità Economica Europea. Per quanto riguarda l’oriente, di fatto, quella che si avanzava era una proposta di dialogo: si chiese all’Unione Sovietica di rinunciare al diritto dell’intervento, in precedenza ribadito dai sovietici, e in cambio si riconosceva lo status quo venutosi a formare dopo la guerra oltre il muro. In particolare il riferimento era alla Polonia, con cui in quegli anni, sempre in linea con la ostpolitik, fu concordato un trattato bilaterale che assicurò l’accettazione da parte tedesca dei confini occidentali della Polonia. Vi fu inoltre, per la prima volta, il riconoscimento dell’esistenza di due Germanie. Il tutto venne siglato con l’accordo germano-sovietico del 1970, firmato a Mosca da Brandt e Kossyghin, indispettendo inevitabilmente gli Stati Uniti, nonostante le rassicurazioni più volte ribadite e dimostrate. Con l’intento della distensione, al fine di costituire un ordine pacifico europeo, si arrivò dunque al congresso di Helsinki (1973-75), un processo diplomatico multilaterale, che portò ad un notevole avvicinamento, al prezzo di alcune pragmatiche rinunce da una parte e dall’altra. Priorità dell’Unione Sovietica era il riconoscimento delle frontiere post-1945, intento degli alleati occidentali era invece indebolire il patto di Varsavia attraverso lo strumento della causa dei “diritti umani”, un punto che la coalizione sovietica aveva sino ad allora visto come un’intollerabile ingerenza[4]. E’ attraverso Mosca (1970) ed Helsinki (1975) che, infine, la repubblica federale tedesca riconobbe la frontiera dell’Oder-Neisse. La RFT per altro rinunciò alla “Alleinvertretung” e, di conseguenza, all’intento politico dell’unione tedesca. Pur rinunciando, almeno nel breve termine, alla riunificazione dello Stato tedesco, Brandt non volle rinunciare all’unificazione della nazione. Per far ciò necessitava del consenso e della collaborazione della repubblica democratica e, dunque, dell’Unione Sovietica. Per questo motivo si potrebbe dire che la ostpolitik fu de facto ed inevitabilmente una “Russlandpolitik”[5]. Condizione posta dall’Unione Sovietica per la collaborazione, e la distensione, fu l’adesione della Germania al trattato di non proliferazione nucleare. Successivamente, la dirigenza sovietica dichiarò, tramite Leonid Brezhnev, la propria approvazione per la nuova politica estera condotta dalla RFT, questo nonostante effettivamente la DDR non venisse riconosciuta (nel 1970 erano 26 gli Stati che la riconoscevano), il che provocò qualche malumore a Berlino Est.

Fino a quel momento la dirigenza sovietica aveva preferito l’immobilismo nei confronti della Germania dell’Ovest, questo permetteva di tenere la Repubblica Federale Tedesca in uno stato di soggezione e d’inferiorità, attraverso una propaganda costante oltrecortina[6], distogliendo anche le attenzioni dai problemi e dalle contraddizioni interne. Tuttavia, alla Ostpolitik tedesca i sovietici fecero allora corrispondere una “Westpolitik”. Il cambiamento di rotta fu spinto dalla necessità che i paesi occidentali riconoscessero lo Status Quo ad oriente, in particolare il riconoscimento della nuova Polonia uscita dalla seconda guerra mondiale e modificata nei suoi confini occidentali. Essendo questi gli anni in cui la Cina andava rompendo con l’URSS, dopo aver elaborato la strumentale categoria di “socialimperialismo”, per avvicinarsi agli Stati Uniti, il riconoscimento delle frontiere occidentali era una pedina fondamentale per placare gli animi su tale fronte, potendosi concentrare con maggior equilibrio nelle questioni orientali. Moralmente inoltre il riconoscimento poteva essere sventolato come una vittoria, essendo state così imposte le conseguenze della guerra allo Stato che si era frontalmente contrapposto a quello sovietico.

Pur essendo il fine dell’Ostpolitik, da parte dei tedesco-occidentali, quello di distendere i due fronti, in modo da riequilibrare anche la situazione tedesca, e quello dei sovietici di indebolire geopoliticamente l’asse antisovietico, consci del peso politico ed economico della Germania (che nel frattempo andava crescendo in maniera sorprendente), Brandt mostrò un certo senso strategico nel suo riavvicinamento all’Unione Sovietica, come dimostrò parlando alla Radio, a Mosca, il 12 agosto del 1970: “La Russia è indissolubilmente legata alla storia europea, non solo come avversario o come pericolo, ma anche come partner, storicamente, politicamente, culturalmente ed economicamente”[7]. Si può dunque dire che dopo la dottrina Adenauer-Hallstein, venne a prevalere la “dottrina Brandt”: promuovere il cambiamento attraverso l’avvicinamento[8]. Bisogna tuttavia aggiungere che nella sua politica fu probabilmente anche condizionato da Günter Guillaume, quello che in breve divenne uno dei suoi uomini più fedeli, secondo alcuni il “braccio destro” , ma che presto si rivelò una spia della Stasi, inviato con non ben precisati compiti da Markus Johannes Wolf , il quale, tuttavia, dichiarò in un’intervista successiva che l’intento non era quello di gettare in disgrazia il cancelliere[9] (quest’ultimo dovette infatti dare le dimissioni, in seguito all’”affare Guillaume”. Una vicenda tutt’oggi poco chiara e su cui poca luce è stata fatta.


L’ostpolitik fu una politica realista, fu un calcolo pragmatico che prese le mosse dall’accettazione dello status quo, condizione preliminare, conditio sine qua non per distendere i rapporti con l’Est. Questa politica guardava ai vertici, alle dirigenze, indipendentemente dalle possibilità sovversive di determinati movimenti filoccidentali. A testimoniarlo vi è il rifiuto della Repubblica Federale di aderire alle sanzioni mosse dagli Stati Uniti contro la Polonia, per la repressione dei movimenti “rivoluzionari”, i quali godevano in gran parte della simpatia e delle potenze occidentali. Tale fase politica inoltre, come ampiamente previsto dai suoi promotori, permise alla Germania di ritagliarsi un proprio spazio politico, restituendole il peso geopolitico ed economico adeguato, per la preoccupazione e il sospetto degli alleati occidentali.

A conti fatti, pur non ottenendo grandi cambiamenti in ambito geopolitico, l’ostpolitik fu il momento di massima distensione tra la Germania e l’Unione Sovietica, sin dalla rottura in seguito all’Operazione Barbarossa. Un avvicinamento che, seppur apparentemente sotto controllo, mise in allarme alcuni settori, in particolare delle due potenze talassocratiche. D’altronde queste interferirono nei rapporti tedesco-sovietici anche nel primo dopoguerra e nel 1939. A dimostrazione che un’alleanza fra le due potenze continentali, l’unione fra due forze economiche e politiche, non fu e tutt’ora non è ben vista dalle potenze egemoni.

Marco Zenoni è laureando in Relazioni Internazionali all’Università di Perugia

[1] http://www.eurasia-rivista.org/dietro-le-quinte-della-guerra-tra-la-germania-e-la-polonia/1015/ [1]
[2] http://www.eurasia-rivista.org/il-patto-di-non-aggressione-tedesco-sovietico/1645/ [2]
[3] cfr. “Affari esteri”, n. 5 – 1970. P. 130
[4] Cfr. Eurasia, n.2 – 2011
[5] Ibidem
[6] Ibidem.
[7] Cfr. “Affari esteri”, n.8 – 1970. P. 11
[8] Cfr. “Affari Esteri”, n.8 – 1970.
[9] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/1533707/Markus-Wolf.html [3]

samedi, 30 mars 2013

Stalin’s Fight Against International Communism

Stalin’s Fight Against International Communism

By Kerry Bolton stalin-the-enduring-legacy

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

Editor’s Note:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stalin Purges Marxism

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

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

Dissolving the Comintern

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Repudiation of Marxist Doctrine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Family Life Restored

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One observer visiting the USSR explained:

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

[4] League of Professional Intellectuals.

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

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

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

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

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

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

[11] Ibid., 98.

[12] Ibid., 107.

[13] Ibid., 109.

[14] Ibid., 116.

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

[16] R Service, ibid., 220.

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

[18] R Service, ibid., 222.

[19] Ibid.

[20] Hungarians.

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

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

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

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

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

[26] Ibid., 242.

[27] Ibid.

[28] Ibid.

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

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

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

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

[33] See Chapter V.

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

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

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

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

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

[39] L Trotsky, op.cit.

[40] Ibid.

[41] Ibid.

[42] Ibid.

[43] Ibid.

[44] Ibid.

[45] Ibid.

[46] Ibid.

[47] Ibid.

[48] See below.

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

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

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

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

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

[53] Ibid.

[54] Ibid., 257.

[55] Ibid., p. 258.

[56] Ibid., 352.

[57] Ibid., 353.

[58] Ibid.

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

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

[61] Ibid., 366-367.

[62] Ibid., 366.

[63] Ibid., 371.

[64] Ibid., 376.

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

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

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

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

[69] Ibid., 7

[70] Ibid.

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

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

[73] Ibid., 12.


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

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

URLs in this post:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

dimanche, 24 mars 2013

Du nouveau à l’Est


Matthias HELLNER:

Du nouveau à l’Est


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


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


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


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


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




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


Matthias HELLNER.

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


lundi, 25 février 2013

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


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

By Kerry Bolton

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

Editor’s Note:

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

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

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

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

Stalin Correct in Fundamental Accusations Against Trotskyites

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

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

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

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

Trotsky’s Banking Connections

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Max Shachtman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shachtman now expressed his approach unequivocally:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Natalia Sedova Trotsky

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cold War and Beyond

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

National Endowment for Democracy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

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

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

[7] Ibid.

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

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

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

[12] Spence, ibid.

[13] Wiseman became a partner in 1929.

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

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

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

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

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

[19] Ibid., 160.

[20] Ibid., 221.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[33] Ibid., Chapter III.

[34] Ibid.

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

[36] Ibid., Chapter IV.

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

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

[39] Ibid., 199.

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

[41] Ibid., 204.

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

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

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

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

[46] Ibid., 288.

[47]  Ibid. 293.

[48] Ibid.

[49] Ibid.

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

[51] Ibid.

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

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

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

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

[56] Ibid.

[57] Ibid.

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

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

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

[61] Ibid.

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

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

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

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

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

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

[68] Haberkern, op.cit.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[79] Ibid., p. 209.

[80] Ibid. p 211.

[81] Ibid., p. 234.

[82] Ibid., p. 235.

[83] Ibid., p. 246.

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

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


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

URL to article: http://www.counter-currents.com/2013/02/trotsky-stalin-and-the-cold-war/

URLs in this post:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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/



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 


„[...] 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.



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



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.


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



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


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



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





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.


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.


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.


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
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)


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.

mardi, 10 janvier 2012

The Moscow Trials in Historical Context

The Moscow Trials in Historical Context

Kerry Bolton

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Background of the Trials

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Beals observing Trotsky in action considered that,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Goldman: Of the leading comrades of the Left Opposition?

Trotsky: Yes.’[78]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kirov's Murder

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rogovin’s Findings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Moscow Trials and the Comintern Pact

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Moscow Trials in Accord with Soviet System

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rabinowitch writes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Zinoviev stated:

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[7] Tony Halpin, op. cit.

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

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

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


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

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

[12] Brazil, Russia, India, China.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[27]. Ibid., p. 34.

[28] London Observer, August 23, 1936.

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

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

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

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

[33] Ibid.

[34] Ibid.

[35] Tomsky had committed suicide.

[36] Pritt, op. cit.

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

[38] Ibid.

[39] Sidney Hook, Commentary, ibid.

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

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

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

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

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

[44] Ibid.

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

[46] Novack, op. cit.

[47] Descriptions by Novack.

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

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

[49] Ibid.

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

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

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

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

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

[54] Ibid.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[62] Carleton Beals, op. cit.

[63] Ibid.

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

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

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

[67] Beals, op. cit.

[68] Ibid.

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

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

[71] Ibid.

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

[73] Ibid.

[74] Ibid.

[75] Ibid.

[76] Ibid.

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

[78] Ibid.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[87] See: “Kirov Assassination” below.

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

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

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

[91] Ibid.

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

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

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

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

[96] Ibid.

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

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

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

[98] Ibid.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[119] Lockhart said of Trotsky, whom he was seeing on a daily basis that, “He considered that war was inevitable. If the Allies would send a promise of support, he informed me that he would sway the decision of the Government in favour of war. I sent several telegrams to London requesting an official message that would enable me to strengthen Trotsky’s hands. No message was sent.” R H Bruce Lockhart, British Agent (London: G P Putnam’s Sons, 1933), Book Four, “History From the Inside,” Chapter 3. http://www.gwpda.org/wwi-www/BritAgent/BA04a.htm .

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


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

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

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

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

[125] Ibid.

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

[127] Ibid., p. 238.

[128] Ibid., p. 242.

[129] Ibid., p. 243.

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

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

[132] Ibid., p. 243.

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

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

[135] Ibid.

[136] Matthew 27: 5.

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

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

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

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

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

[142] Ibid.

[143] N S Khrushchev, op. cit.

Source: Foreign Policy Journal

mardi, 04 octobre 2011

Alexandre Soljénitsyne sur "Apostrophes" - 11 avril 1975

Alexandre Soljénitsyne sur "Apostrophes" - 11 avril 1975

dimanche, 14 août 2011

Zinoviev's Homo Sovieticus: Communism as Social Entropy

Zinoviev’s “Homo Sovieticus”: Communism as Social Entropy

Tomislav Sunic

Ex: http://freespeechproject.com/


Alexandre_Zinoviev_2002.jpgStudents and observers of communism consistently encounter the same paradox: On the one hand they attempt to predict the future of communism, yet on the other they must regularly face up to a system that appears unusually static. At Academic gatherings and seminars, and in scholarly treatises, one often hears and reads that communist systems are marred by economic troubles, power sclerosis, ethnic upheavals, and that it is only a matter of time before communism disintegrates. Numerous authors and observers assert that communist systems are maintained in power by the highly secretive nomenklatura, which consists of party potentates who are intensely disliked by the entire civil society. In addition, a growing number of authors argue that with the so-called economic linkages to Western economies, communist systems will eventually sway into the orbit of liberal democracies, or change their legal structure to the point where ideological differences between liberalism and communism will become almost negligible.

The foregoing analyses and predictions about communism are flatly refuted by Alexander Zinoviev, a Russian sociologist, logician, and satirist, whose analyses of communist systems have gained remarkable popularity among European conservatives in the last several years.

According to Zinoviev, it is impossible to study communist systems without rigorous employment of appropriate methodology, training in logic, and a construction of an entirely new conceptual approach. Zinoviev contends that Western observers of communism are seriously mistaken in using social analyses and a conceptual framework appropriate for studying social phenomena in the West, but inappropriate for the analysis of communist systems. He writes:

A camel cannot exist if one places upon it the criteria of a hippopotamus. The opinion of those in the West who consider the Soviet society unstable, and who hope for its soon disintegration from within (aside that they take their desires for realities), is in part due to the fact that they place upon the phenomenon of Soviet society criteria of Western societies, which are alien to the Soviet society.

Zinoviev’s main thesis is that an average citizen living in a communist system -- whom he labels homo sovieticus -- behaves and responds to social stimuli in a similar manner to the way his Western counterpart responds to stimuli of his own social landscape. In practice this means that in communist systems the immense majority of citizens behave, live, and act in accordance with the logic of social entropy laid out by the dominating Marxist ideology. Contrary to widespread liberal beliefs, social entropy in communism is by no means a sign of the system’s terminal illness; in fact it is a positive sign that the system has developed to a social level that permits its citizenry to better cope with the elementary threats, such as wars, economic chaos, famines, or large-scale cataclysms. In short, communism is a system whose social devolution has enabled the masses of communist citizens to develop defensive mechanisms of political self-protection and indefinite biological survival. Using an example that recalls Charles Darwin and Konrad Lorenz, Zinoviev notes that less-developed species often adapt to their habitat better than species with more intricate biological and behavioral capacities. On the evolutionary tree, writes Zinoviev, rats and bugs appear more fragile than, for example, monkeys or dinosaurs, yet in terms of biological survivability, bugs and rats have demonstrated and astounding degree of adaptability to an endlessly changing and threatening environment. The fundamental mistake of liberal observers of communism is to equate political efficiency with political stability. There are political stability. There are political systems that are efficient, but are at the same time politically unstable; and conversely, there are systems which resilient to external threats. To illustrate the stability of communist systems, Zinoviev writes:

A social system whose organization is dominated by entropic principles possesses a high level od stability. Communist society is indeed such a type of association of millions of people in a common whole in which more secure survival, for a more comfortable course of life, and for a favorable position of success.

Zinoviev notes that to “believe in communism” by no means implies only the adherence to the ruling communist elite of the unquestionable acceptance of the communist credo. The belief in communism presupposes first and foremost a peculiar mental attitude whose historical realization has been made possible as a result of primordial egalitarian impulses congenial to all human beings. Throughout man’s biocultural evolution, egalitarian impulses have been held in check by cultural endeavors and civilizational constraints, yet with the advent of mass democracies, resistance to these impulses has become much more difficult. Here is how Zinoviev sees communism:

Civilization is effort; communality is taking the line if least resistance. Communism is the unruly conduct of nature’s elemental forces; civilization sets them rational bounds.

It is for this reason that it is the greatest mistake to think that communism deceives the masses or uses force on them. As the flower and crowning glory of communality, communism represents a type of society which is nearest and dearest to the masses no matter how dreadful the potential consequences for them might be.

zinoviev1978.jpgZinoviev refutes the widespread belief that communist power is vested only among party officials, or the so-called nomenklatura. As dismal as the reality of communism is, the system must be understood as a way of life shared by millions of government official, workers, and countless ordinary people scattered in their basic working units, whose chief function is to operate as protective pillars of the society. Crucial to the stability of the communist system is the blending of the party and the people into one whole, and as Zinoviev observes, “the Soviet saying the party and the people are one and the same, is not just a propagandistic password.” The Communist Party is only the repository of an ideology whose purpose is not only to further the objectives of the party members, but primarily to serve as the operating philosophical principle governing social conduct. Zinoviev remarks that Catholicism in the earlier centuries not only served the Pope and clergy; it also provided a pattern of social behavior countless individuals irrespective of their personal feelings toward Christian dogma. Contrary to the assumption of liberal theorists, in communist societies the cleavage between the people and the party is almost nonexistent since rank-and-file party members are recruited from all walks of life and not just from one specific social stratum. To speculate therefore about a hypothetical line that divides the rulers from the ruled, writes Zinoviev in his usual paradoxical tone, is like comparing how “a disemboweled and carved out animal, destined for gastronomic purposes, differs from its original biological whole.”

Admittedly, continues Zinoviev, per capita income is three to four times lower than in capitalist democracies, and as the daily drudgery and bleakness of communist life indicates, life under communism falls well short of the promised paradise. Yet, does this necessarily indicate that the overall quality in a communist society is inferior to that in Western countries? If one considers that an average worker in a communist system puts in three to four hours to his work (for which he usually never gets reprimanded, let alone fears losing his job), then his earnings make the equivalent of the earnings of a worker in a capitalist democracy. Stated in Marxist terminology, a worker in a communist system is not economically exploited but instead “takes the liberty” of allocating to himself the full surplus value of his labor which the state is unable to allocate to him. Hence this popular joke, so firmly entrenched in communist countries, which vividly explains the longevity of the communist way of life: “Nobody can pay me less than as little as I can work.”

Zinoviev dismisses the liberal reductionist perception of economics, which is based on the premise that the validity or efficiency of a country is best revieled by it high economic output or workers’ standard of living. In describing the economics of the Soviet Union, he observes that “the economy in the Soviet Union continues to thrive, regardless of the smart analyses and prognoses of the Western experts, and is in fact in the process of becoming stronger.” The endless liberal speculations about the future of communism, as well as the frequent evaluations about whether capitalist y resulted in patent failures. The more communism changes the more in fact it remains the same. Yet, despite its visible shortcomings, the communist ideal will likely continue to flourish precisely because it successfully projects the popular demand for security and predictability. By contrast, the fundamental weakness of liberal systems is that they have introduced the principles of security and predictability only theoretically and legally, but for reasons of economic efficiency, have so far been unable to put them into practice. For Claude Polin, a French author whose analyses of communist totalitarianism closely parallel Zinoviev’s views, the very economic inefficiency of communism paradoxically, “provides much more chances to [sic] success for a much larger number of individuals than a system founded on competition and reward of talents.” Communism, in short, liberates each individual from all social effort and responsibility, and its internal stasis only reinforces its awesome political stability.

For Zinoviev, communist terror essentially operates according to the laws of dispersed communalism; that is, though the decentralization of power into the myriad of workers’ collectives. As the fundamental linchpins of communism, these collectives carry out not only coercive but also remunerative measures on behalf of and against their members. Upon joining a collective, each person becomes a transparent being who is closely scrutinized by his coworkers, yet at the same time enjoys absolute protection in cases of professional mistakes, absenteeism, shoddy work, and so forth. In such a system it is not only impossible but also counterproductive to contemplate a coup or a riot because the power of collectives is so pervasive that any attempted dissent is likely to hurt the dissenter more than his collective. Seen on the systemic level, Communist terror, therefore, does not emanate from one central source, but from a multitude of centers from the bottom to the top of society, whose foundations, in additions to myriad of collectives, are made up of “basic units,” brigades, or pioneer organizations. If perchance an individual or a group of people succeeds in destroying one center of power, new centers of power will automatically emerge. In this sense, the notion of “democratic centralism,” derided by many liberal observers as just another verbal gimmick of the communist meta-language, signifies a genuine example of egalitarian democracy -- a democracy in which power derives not from the party but from the people. Zinoviev notes:

Even if you wipe out half the population, the first thing that will be restored in the remaining half will be the system of power and administration. There, power is not organized to serve the population: the population is organized as a material required for the functioning of power.

Consequently, it does not appear likely that communism can ever be “improved,” at least not as Westerners understand improvement, because moral, political, and economic corruption of communism is literally spread throughout all pores of the society, and is in fact encouraged by the party elite on a day-to-day basis. The corruption among workers that takes the form of absenteeism, moonlighting, and low output goes hand in hand with corruption and licentiousness of party elite, so that the corruption of the one justifies and legitimatizes the corruption of the others. That communism is a system of collective irresponsibility is indeed not just an empty saying.

The corruption of language in communist societies is a phenomenon that until recently has not been sufficiently explored. According to an elaborate communist meta-language that Marxist dialecticians have skillfully developed over the last hundred years, dissidents and political opponents do not fall into the category of “martyrs,” or “freedom fighters” -- terms usually applied to them by Western well-wishers, yet terms are meaningless in the communist vernacular. Not only for the party elite, but for the overwhelming majority of people, dissidents are primarily traitors of democracy, occasionally branded as “fascist agents” or proverbial “CIA spies.” In any case, as Zinoviev indicates, the number of dissidents is constantly dwindling, while the number of their detractors is growing to astounding proportions. Moreover, the process of expatriation of dissidents is basically just one additional effort to dispose of undesirable elements, and thereby secure a total social consensus.

for the masses of citizens, long accustomed to a system circumventing al political “taboo themes,” the very utterance of the word dissident creates the feeling of insecurity and unpredictability. Consequently, before dissidents turn into targets of official ostracism and legal prosecution, most people, including their family members, will often go to great lengths to disavow them. Moreover, given the omnipotent and transparent character of collectives and distorted semantics, potential dissidents cannot have a lasting impact of society. After all, who wants to be associated with somebody who in the popular jargon is a nuisance to social peace and who threatens the already precarious socioeconomic situation of a system that has only recently emerged from the long darkness of terror? Of course, in order to appear democratic the communist media will often encourage spurious criticism of the domestic bureaucracy, economic shortages, or rampant mismanagement, but any serious attempt to question the tenets of economic determinism and the Marxist vulgate will quickly be met with repression. In a society premised on social and psychological transparency, only when things get out of hand, that is, when collectives are no longer capable of bringing a dissident to “his senses,” -- which at any rate is nowadays a relatively rare occurrence -- the police step in. Hence, the phenomenon of citizens’ self-surveillance, so typical of all communist societies, largely explains the stability of the system.

In conclusion, the complexity of the communist enigma remains awesome, despite some valid insights by sovietologists and other related scholars. In fact, one reason why the study of communist society is still embryonic may be ascribed to the constant proliferation of sovietologists, experts, and observers, who seldom shared a unanimous view of the communist phenomenon. Their true expertise, it appears, is not the analysis of the Soviet Union, but rather how to refute each other’s expertise on the Soviet Union. The merit of Zinoviev’s implacable logic is that the abundance of false diagnoses and prognoses of communism results in part from liberal’s own unwillingness to combat social entropy and egalitarian obsession on their own soil and within their own ranks. If liberal systems are truly interested in containing communism, they must first reexamine their own egalitarian premises and protocommunist appetites.

What causes communism? Why does communism still appear so attractive (albeit in constantly new derivatives) despite its obvious empirical bankruptcy? Why cannot purportedly democratic liberalism come to terms with its ideological opponents despite visible economic advantages? Probably on should first examine the dynamics of all egalitarian and economic beliefs and doctrines, including those of liberalism, before one starts criticizing the gulags and psychiatric hospitals.

Zinoviev rejects the notion that the Soviet of total political consolidation that can now freely permit all kinds of liberal experiments. After all, what threatens communism?

Regardless of what the future holds for communist societies, one must agree with Zinoviev that the much-vaunted affluence of the West is not necessarily a sign of Western stability. The constant reference to affluence as the sole criterion for judging political systems does not often seem persuasive. The received wisdom among (American) conservatives is that the United States must outgun or out spend the Soviet Union to convince the Soviets that capitalism is a superior system. Conservatives and others believe that with this show of affluence, Soviet leaders will gradually come to the conclusion that their systems is obsolete. Yet in the process of competition, liberal democracies may ignore other problems. If one settles for the platitude that the Soviet society is economically bankrupt, then one must also acknowledge that the United States is the world’s largest debtor and that another crash on Wall Street may well lead to the further appeal of various socialistic and pseudosocialist beliefs. Liberal society, despite its material advantages, constantly depends on its “self-evident” economic miracles. Such a society, particularly when it seeks peace at any price, may some day realize that there is also an impossibly high price to pay in order to preserve it.

[The World and I   (Washington Times Co.), June, 1989]

Mr. Sunic, a former US professor and a former Croat diplomat, holds a Ph.D. in political science. He is the author of several books. He currently resides in Europe.


vendredi, 20 mai 2011

Solzhenitsyn and the Russian Question

Solzhenitsyn and the Russian Question


by John Laughland



62.jpgThe death of Alexander Solzhenitsyn produced predictable reactions from Western commentators. Yes, they said, he was a moral giant for so bravely exposing the evils of the Soviet penitential system in The Gulag Archipelago; but he later compromised his moral stature by failing to like the West and by becoming a Russian nationalist.

A perfect example of this reasoning was Anne Applebaum’s piece in The Guardian. Herself the author of a history of the Gulag, she wrote,

In later years, Solzhenitsyn lost some of his stature …thanks to his failure to embrace liberal democracy. He never really liked the west, never really took to free markets or pop culture.

Such comments reveal more about their author than about their subject. We are dealing here with something I propose to call geo-ideology: the alas now widespread prejudice that “West” and “democracy” are identical concepts. In the minds of such commentators, moreover, the “West” is also identical with “free markets” and “pop culture.” The “West,” apparently no longer means “the Christian religion” or even that body of inheritance from the magnificent treasure-house of the cultures of Athens and Rome. Instead it means MTV, coke and Coke.

At every level these assumptions are false. Let us start with “free markets,” the endlessly repeated shibboleth of the globalisers. By what possible criterion can
Russia be said to have a less free market than the United States of America, or than the majority of European Union member state? One of the key measure of the freedom of a market is the amount of private income consumed by the state. The income tax rate in Russia is fixed at a flat rate of 13% – a fraction of the 25% or so paid in the US, 33% of so paid in the United Kingdom and the 40% or more paid in continental Europe. As for pop culture, Russia unfortunately has plenty of it. Her youth are just as imbued with it, unfortunately, as the youth of Europe and America.

The comments also fail to present the reader with any serious analysis of Solzhenitsyn’s political position. The author makes vague and disparaging references to the unsuitability of Solzhenitsyn’s “vision of a more spiritual society” and to his “crusty and old fashioned nationalism” – judgements which appear to owe much to the Soviet propaganda she says she rejects. But she fails to allow the reader to know just what she means. Surely, on the occasion of a man’s death, it might be opportune to tell people about what he thought.

Anyone who reads Solzhenitsyn’s astonishing essay from 1995, The Russian Question at the End of the Twentieth Century, will see that this caricature is nonsense. There is nothing irrational or mystical about Solzhenitsyn’s political positions at all – and he makes only the most glancing of references to the religion which, we all know, he does indeed hold dear. No, what emerges from this essay is an extremely simple and powerful political position which is easily translated into contemporary American English as “paleo-conservatism.”

Solzhenitsyn makes a withering attack on three hundred years of Russian history. Almost no Russian leader emerges without censure (he likes only the Empress Elizabeth [1741–1762] and Tsar Alexander III [1881–1894]); most of them are roundly condemned. One might contest the ferocity of Solzhenitsyn’s attacks but the ideological coherence of them is very clear: he is opposed to leaders who pursue foreign adventures, including empire-building, at the expense of the Russian population itself. This, he says, is what unites nearly all the Tsars since Peter the Great with the Bolshevik leaders.

Again and again, in a variety of historical contexts, Solzhenitsyn says that
Russia should not have gone to the aid of this or that foreign cause, but should instead have concentrated on promoting stability and prosperity at home.

While we always sought to help the Bulgarians, the Serbs, the Montenegrins, we would have done better to think first of the Belorussians and Ukrainians: with the weighty hand of Empire we deprived them of cultural and spiritual development in their own traditions… the endless wars for Balkan Christians were a crime against the Russian people… The attempt to greater-Russify all of Russia proved damaging not only to the living national traits of all the other ethnicities in the Empire but was foremost detrimental to the greater-Russian nationality itself … The aims of a great Empire and the moral health of the people are incompatible … Holding on to a great Empire means to contribute to the extinction of our own people.

There is literally nothing to separate this view from the anti-interventionist anti-war positions of Pat Buchanan (author of A Republic not an Empire) or Ron Paul.

After dealing with both the horrors of Communism, Solzhenitsyn of course turns his attention to the terrible chaos of the post-Communist period. Here again, his concern for the Russian people themselves remains consistent. He writes,

The trouble is not that the USSR broke up – that was inevitable. The real trouble, and a tangle for a long time to come, is that the breakup occurred along false Leninist borders, usurping from us entire Russian provinces. In several days, we lost 25 million ethnic Russians – 18 percent of our entire nation – and the government could not scrape up the courage even to take note of this dreadful event, a colossal historic defeat for Russia, and to declare its political disagreement with it.

Solzhenitsyn is right. One of the most lasting legacies of Leninism, which remains after everything else has been swept away or collapsed, was the decision to create bogus federal entities on the territory of what had been the unitary Russian state. These entities, called Soviet republics, contributed only to the creation of bogus nationalisms and of course to the dilution of Russian nationhood. They were bogus because the republics in question did not, in fact, correspond to ethnic reality: Kazakhs, for instance, are and remain a numerical minority in Kazakhstan, while “Ukraine” is in fact a collection of ancient Russian provinces (especially Kiev) and some Ukrainian ones. This bogus nationalism allowed the Soviet Union to present itself as an international federation of peoples, rather like the European Union today, but it was exploited by Russia’s enemies when the time came to destroy the geopolitical existence of the historic Russian state. This happened when the USSR was unilaterally dissolved by three Republic leaders in December 1991.

And this is the key to the West’s hostility to Solzhenitsyn. The man the West exploited to destroy Communism refused to bend the knee to the West’s continuing attempts (largely successful) to destroy
Russia herself. Perhaps it is no coincidence that Anne Applebaum, an American citizen, is the wife of the Foreign Minister of Russia’s oldest historical enemy, Poland.

This article originally appeared in The Brussels Journal.

August 12, 2008

John Laughland's [send him mail] latest book is A History of Political Trials: From Charles I to Saddam Hussein.

Copyright © 2008 John Laughland

lundi, 18 avril 2011

Clefs pour comprendre Katyn

Clefs pour comprendre Katyn

par Jean-Gilles MALLIARAKIS

Ex: http://www.insolent.fr/

Katyn.jpgOn projette donc le très beau film "Katyn" ce 14 avril (1) sur la chaîne franco-allemande Arte. Au-delà de l'œuvre de Wajda elle-même (2), de son scénario, tiré d'un roman mais aussi de l'expérience personnelle du cinéaste dans la Pologne communiste d'après-guerre, il faut considérer l'Histoire. Celle-ci accable non seulement Staline personnellement mais, d'une manière plus générale, le communisme international. Au premier rang en occident le parti le plus servile, le parti français, le parti de Maurice Thorez et de Jacques Duclos partage 100 % de la culpabilité de son maître. Et il faut y ajouter une circonstance aggravante. Car, après la Pologne en 1939, abandonnée par les radicaux-socialistes en charge à Paris de la conduite de la guerre, le sort de la France suivit en 1940.

Et si le débarquement anglo-américain, épaulé par 14 autres nations alliées, a permis en 1944 la libération territoriale de l'Hexagone, au contraire, l'Europe orientale dans son ensemble demeura jusqu'en 1991 contre son gré sous la botte de l'URSS copartageante, en vertu d'accords dont Moscou fut l'initiatrice.

Doit-on dire qu'il ne faut "jamais l'oublier" ?

Hélas, pour garder un événement en mémoire encore faut-il en avoir eu connaissance. Or l'Histoire officiellement enseignée dans le contexte de la république jacobine reste sur ce sujet très discrète. Embargo jusqu'à la chute du communisme, modestie depuis.

Rappelons donc que le 23 août 1939 fut signé à Moscou un prétendu pacte de non-agression. Il était signé par Joachim von Ribbentrop, qui sera pendu à Nuremberg en 1946 et le commissaire du peuple Viatcheslav Mikhaïlovitch Molotov. Celui-ci dirigera encore la diplomatie de son pays après la guerre et mourra dans son lit en 1986. Il se nouait alors une véritable alliance officielle entre Hitler et Staline. Le premier était resté à Berlin, alors que le second se congratulait avec le ministre des affaires étrangères du Reich. Elle ne fut aucunement rompue par Moscou mais par l'Allemagne. Staline le soulignera encore dans son discours du 3 juillet 1941. Le "génial" dictateur communiste figure hilare sur la photo de famille prise à Moscou pendant que son ministre paraphe le traité. Pendant la nuit était convenu un protocole (alors] secret, précisant le partage non seulement de la Pologne mais de toute l'Europe à l'est de la Vistule.


Or ce document sera complété et aggravé par l'entrée en guerre effective de la l'URSS contre sa malheureuse voisine le 17 septembre et la chute de Varsovie le 19. Le film de Wajda commence donc par cette jonction historique de la Wehrmacht et de l'Armée rouge, "scellant dans le sang", l'expression est de Staline lui-même, la complicité des deux agresseurs.

Mais pour comprendre Katyn, c'est-à-dire le massacre des élites polonaises par la barbarie communiste, il faut aussi comprendre la marque spécifique que celle-ci donna à son ensemble de crimes.

C'est l'URSS en effet qui chercha et imposa la disparition de l'État polonais. Le 28 septembre elle finalisera son projet en faisant signer à Ribbentrop un avenant déplaçant la ligne de démarcation entre les deux empires, bloquant, pour ce qui allait devenir le 8 octobre 1939, le "Gouvernement général" de Pologne, toute perspective d'accès à la mer. Ceci permit à l'empire stalinien naissant de compléter sa propre mainmise sur les pays baltes, en rétrocédant au Reich une portion de territoire.

"L'alliance Staline Hitler" (3) avait été pensée, théorisée et appliquée à Moscou avec beaucoup de méthode, jusqu'à sa rupture en juin 1941 du seul fait de l'Allemagne.

La prophétie de Toukhatchevski de 1920 : "la révolution mondiale passera sur le cadavre de la Pologne" se réalisa donc 20 ans plus tard avec la collaboration des nazis. Vaincue sur la Vistule, l'Armée rouge obtenait sa revanche sur le tapis vert.

Pendant toute la période 1940-1990 Moscou œuvra pour conserver ses acquis.

Soulignons que la conférence de Yalta de février 1945 aboutit à cet égard à une "déclaration sur l'Europe libérée" permettant à l'URSS de conserver tous les avantages territoriaux de la période 1939-1941, et donc de déplacer à son profit les frontières de 1938 – au nom desquelles l'occident était entré en guerre. Prétendre qu'il ne se serait rien passé en cette occasion relève de la désinformation : les Alliés se sont accordés pour entériner la "situation politique nouvelle" résultant de la "libération par l'Armée rouge". Les accords de Potsdam d'août 1945, entre Truman, Bevin et Staline ont consolidé ce principe, après la disparition de Roosevelt et la victoire des travaillistes aux élections britanniques.

Dans ce cadre un gouvernement communiste fut imposé au peuple-martyr. On appelle cette formule la "Pologne nouvelle", appuyée par la canaille, précisément contrôlée par les organes dits "de sécurité" du système soviétique. Ceux-ci ont travaillé soigneusement à l'éradication de la "Mémoire" : celle du peuple polonais s'est maintenue, en dépit d'une répression abominable à l'encontre des récalcitrants.

Hélas en Europe occidentale, et singulièrement en France, les mêmes réseaux ont rencontré beaucoup plus de complaisances auprès des beaux esprits bien connus.

JG Malliarakis


  1. le 14 avril à 20h40 Rediffusion le 19 avril à 01h30.
  2. à la sortie de laquelle en France nous avons consacré deux articles → L'Insolent du 8 avril 2009 "Katyn un film magnifique de Wajda" Je voulais ce matin évoquer Katyn en commençant par le film de Wajda projeté cette semaine encore dans 13 salles seulement de notre hexagone. → et L'Insolent du 9 avril 2009 "Katyn le poids historique du mensonge et du crime" Le film de Wajda évoqué hier s'inscrit dans un certain contexte mémoriel et politique. Comme le déclare le cinéaste lui-même : "il ne pouvait être réalisé plus tôt, tant que la 'Pologne populaire' existait".
  3. Ashs Sous ce titre paraîtra un ouvrage de l'auteur de ces lignes retraçant le contexte de la politique soviétique pendant toute l'entre deux guerres. Il comprend en annexe, et expliquant, plus de 80 documents diplomatiques, caractéristiques de cette alliance. Il sera en vente à partir du 15 mai au prix de 29 euros. Les lecteurs de L'Insolent peuvent y souscrire jusqu'au 30 avril au prix de 20 euros, soit en passant par la page spéciale sur le site des Éditions du Trident, soit en adressant directement un chèque de 20 euros aux Éditions du Trident 39 rue du Cherche Midi 75006 Paris. Tel 06 72 87 31 59.

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dimanche, 12 septembre 2010

Relire Soljénitsyne



Relire Soljénitsyne


Conférence tenue à Genève, avril 2009, et au « Cercle de Bruxelles », septembre 2009


Pourquoi évoquer la figure d’Alexandre Soljénitsyne, aujourd’hui, dans le cadre de nos travaux ? Décédé en août 2008, Soljénitsyne a été une personnalité politique et littéraire tout à la fois honnie et adulée en Occident et sur la place de Paris en particulier. Elle a été adulée dans les années 70 car ses écrits ont servi de levier pour faire basculer le communisme soviétique et ont inspiré, soi-disant, la démarche des « nouveaux philosophes » qui entendaient émasculer la gauche française et créer, après ce processus d’émasculation, une gauche anti-communiste, peu encline à soutenir l’URSS en politique internationale. Après cette période d’adulation presque sans bornes, la personne d’Alexandre Soljénitsyne a été honnie, surtout après son discours à Harvard, essentiellement pour cinq motifs : 1) Soljénitsyne critique l’Occident et ses fondements philosophiques et politiques, ce qui n’était pas prévu au programme : on imaginait un Soljénitsyne devenu docile à perpétuité, en remercîment de l’asile reçu en Occident ; 2) Il critique simultanément la chape médiatique qui recouvre toutes les démarches intellectuelles officielles de l’Occident, brisant potentiellement tous les effets de la propagande « soft », émanant des agences de l’ « américanosphère » ; 3) Il critique sévèrement le « joujou pluralisme » que l’Occident a voulu imposer à la Russie, en créant et en finançant des cénacles « russophobes », prêchant la haine du passé russe, des traditions russes et de l’âme russe, lesquelles ne génèrent, selon les « pluralistes », qu’un esprit de servitude ; par les effets du « pluralisme », la Russie était censée s’endormir définitivement et ne plus poser problème à l’hegemon américain ; 4) Il a appelé à la renaissance du patriotisme russe, damant ainsi le pion à ceux qui voulaient disposer sans freins d’une Russie anémiée et émasculée et faire main basse sur ses richesses ; 5) Il s’est réconcilié avec le pouvoir de Poutine, juste au moment où celui-ci était décrié en Occident.




Ayant vu le jour en 1918, Alexandre Soljénitsyne nait en même temps que la révolution  bolchevique, ce qu’il se plaira à souligner à maintes reprises. Il nait orphelin de père : ce dernier, officier dans l’armée du Tsar, est tué lors d’un accident de chasse au cours d’une permission. Le jeune Alexandre est élevé par sa mère, qui consentira à de durs sacrifices pour donner à son garçon une excellente éducation. Fille de propriétaires terriens, elle appartient à une famille brisée par les effets de la révolution bolchevique. Alexandre étudiera les mathématiques, la physique et la philosophie à Rostov sur le Don. Incorporé dans l’Armée Rouge en 1941, l’année de l’invasion allemande, il sert dans un régiment d’artillerie et participe à la bataille de Koursk, qui scelle la défaite de l’Axe en Russie, et à l’Opération Bagration, qui lance la première grande offensive soviétique en direction du Reich. Cette campagne de grande envergure le mènera, devenu officier, en Prusse Orientale, au moment où l’Armée Rouge, désormais victorieuse, s’apprête à avancer vers la Vistule et vers l’Oder. Jusque là son attitude est irréprochable du point de vue soviétique. Soljénitsyne est certes un patriote russe, incorporé dans une armée soviétique dont il conteste secrètement l’idéologie, mais il n’est pas un « vlassoviste » passé à l’Axe, qui entend délivrer la Russie du stalinisme en s’alliant au Reich et à ses alliés (en dépit des réflexes patriotiques que ce même stalinisme a suscité pour inciter les masses russes à combattre les Allemands).


Arrestation et emprisonnement


Mais ce que voit Soljénitsyne en Prusse Orientale, les viols, les massacres, les expulsions et les destructions perpétrées par l’Armée Rouge, dont il est officier, le dégoûte profondément, le révulse. L’armée de Staline déshonore la Russie. Le séjour de Soljénitsyne en Prusse Orientale trouve son écho littéraire dans deux ouvrages, « Nuits en Prusse Orientale » (un recueil de poèmes) et « Schwenkitten 45 », un récit où il retourne sur les lieux d’août 1914, où son père a combattu. Le NKVD, la police politique de Staline, l’arrête peu après, sous prétexte qu’il avait été « trop tendre » à l’égard de l’ennemi (ce motif justifiait également l’arrestation de son futur compagnon d’infortune Lev Kopelev) et parce qu’il a critiqué Staline dans une lettre à son beau-frère, interceptée par la police. Staline y était décrit comme « l’homme à la moustache », désignation jugée irrespectueuse et subversive par les commissaires politiques (1).  Il est condamné à huit ans de détention, d’abord dans les camps de travail du goulag (ce qui donnera la matière d’ « Une journée d’Ivan Denissovitch » et de « L’Archipel Goulag », puis dans une prison réservée aux scientifiques, la fameuse « prison spéciale n°16 », la Sharashka, dans la banlieue de Moscou. Cette expérience, entre les murs de la prison spéciale n°16, constitue tout à la fois la genèse de l’œuvre et de la pensée ultérieure de notre auteur, y compris les linéaments de sa critique de l’Occident, et la matière d’un grand livre, « Le premier cercle », esquivé par les « nouveaux philosophes » qui n’y auraient pas trouvé leur miel mais, au contraire, une pensée radicalement différente de la leur, qui est, on le sait trop bien, caractérisée par une haine viscérale de toutes « racines » ou enracinements.


Le décor de la Sharashka


Dans la « Sharashka », il rencontre Lev Kopelev (alias le personnage de Roubine) et Dmitri Panine (alias Sologdine). Dans « Le premier cercle », Soljénitsyne lui-même sera représenté par le personnage de « Nergine ». « Le premier cercle » est constitué de dialogues d’une grande fécondité, que l’on peut comparer à ceux de Thomas Mann, tenus dans le sanatorium fictif de la « Montagne magique ». Le séjour à la Sharashka est donc très important pour la genèse de l’œuvre, tant sur le plan de la forme que sur le plan du fond. Pour la forme, pour la spécificité de l’écriture de Soljénitsyne, la découverte, dans la bibliothèque de cette prison, des dictionnaires étymologiques de Vladimir Dahl (un philologue russe d’origine danoise) a été capitale. Elle a permis à Soljénitsyne de récréer une langue russe débarrassée des adstrats maladroits du soviétisme, et des apports étrangers inutiles, lourds et pesants, que l’internationalisme communiste se plaisait à multiplier dans sa phraséologie.


Les pensées des personnages incarcérés à la Sharashka sont celles de larges strates de la population russe, en dissidence par rapport au régime. Ainsi, Dmitri Panine/Sologdine est dès le départ hostile à la révolution. De quelques années plus âgé que Soljénitsyne/Nergine, Panine/Sologdine a rejeté le bolchevisme à la suite d’horreurs dont il a été témoin enfant. Il a été arrêté une première fois en 1940 pour pensée contre-révolutionnaire et une seconde fois en 1943 pour « défaitisme ». Il incarne des valeurs morales absolues, propres aux sociétés fortement charpentées par la religion. Ces valeurs morales vont de paire avec un sens inné de la justice. Panine/Sologdine fascine littéralement Soljénitsyne/Nergine. Notons que des personnages similaires se retrouvent dans « L’Archipel Goulag », ouvrage qui a servi, soi-disant, de détonateur à la « nouvelle philosophie » parisienne des années 70. Mais, apparemment, les « nouveaux philosophes » n’ont pas pris acte de ces personnages-là, pourtant d’une grande importance pour le propos de Soljénitsyne, ce qui nous permet de dire que cette approche fort sélective jette le doute sur la validité même de la « nouvelle philosophie » et de ses avatars contemporains. Pur bricolage idéologique ? Fabrication délibérée ?


Kopelev / Roubine


Lev Kopelev/Roubine est juif et communiste. Il croit au marxisme. Pour lui, le stalinisme n’est qu’une « déviation de la norme ». Il est un homme chaleureux et généreux. Il donne la moitié de son pain à qui en a besoin pour survivre ou pour guérir. Ce geste quotidien de partage, Soljénitsyne l’apprécie grandement. Mais, ironise Soljénitsyne/Nergine, il a besoin d’une agora, contrairement à notre auteur qui, lui, a besoin de solitude (ce sera effectivement le cas à la « prison spéciale n°16 », à Zurich dans les premières semaines d’exil et dans le Vermont aux Etats-Unis). Mort en 1997, Kopelev restera l’ami de Soljénitsyne après leur emprisonnement, malgré leurs différences philosophiques et leurs itinéraires divergents. Il se décarcassera notamment pour trouver tous les volumes du dictionnaire de Dahl et les envoyer à Soljénitsyne. Pourquoi ce communiste militant a-t-il été arrêté, presqu’en même temps que Soljénitsyne ?  Il est, dès son jeune âge, un germaniste hors pair et un philosophe de talent. Il sert dans une unité de propagande antinazie qui émet à l’attention des soldats de la Wehrmacht. Il joue également le rôle d’interprète pour quelques généraux allemands, pris prisonniers au cours des grandes offensives soviétiques qui ont suivi la bataille de Koursk. Mais lui aussi est dégoûté par le comportement de certaines troupes soviétiques en Prusse Orientale car il reste un germanophile culturel, bien qu’antinazi. Kopelev/Roubine est véritablement le personnage clef du « Premier cercle ». Pourquoi ? Parce qu’il est communiste, représente la Russie « communisée » mais aussi parce qu’il culturellement germanisé, au contraire de Panine/Sologdine, incarnation de la Russie orthodoxe d’avant la révolution, et de Soljénitsyne/Nergine, et, de ce fait, partiellement « occidentalisé ». Il est un ferment non russe dans la pensée russe, respecté par le russophile Soljénitsyne. Celui-ci va donc analyser, au fil des pages du « Premier cercle », la complexité de ses sentiments, c’est-à-dire des sentiments des Russes soviétisés. Au départ, Soljénitsyne/Nergine et Kopelev/Roubine sont proches politiquement. Nergine n’est pas totalement immunisé contre le soviétisme comme l’est Sologdine. Il en est affecté mais il va guérir. Dans les premières pages du « Premier cercle », Nergine et Roubine s’identifient à l’établissement soviétique. Ce n’est évidemment pas le cas de Sologdine.


Panine / Sologdine


Celui-ci jouera dès lors le rôle clef dans l’éclosion de l’œuvre de Soljénitsyne et dans la prise de distance que notre auteur prendra par rapport au système et à l’idéologie soviétiques. Panine/Sologdine est ce que l’on appelle dans le jargon des prisons soviétiques, un « Tchoudak », c’est-à-dire un « excentrique » et un « inspiré » (avec ou sans relents de mysticisme). Mais Panine/Sologdine, en dépit de cette étiquette que lui collent sur le dos les commissaires du peuple, est loin d’être un  mystique fou, un exalté comme en a connus l’histoire russe. Son exigence première est de retourner à « un langage de la clarté maximale », expurgé des termes étrangers, qui frelatent la langue russe et que les Soviétiques utilisaient à tire-larigot. L’objectif de Panine/Sologdine est de re-slaviser la langue pour lui rendre sa pureté et sa richesse, la dégager de tous les effets de « novlangue » apportés par un régime inspiré de philosophies étrangères à l’âme russe.


Le prisonnier réel de la Sharashka et le personnage du « Premier cercle » qu’est Panine/Sologdine a étudié les mathématiques et les sciences, sans pour autant abjurer les pensées contre-révolutionnaires radicales que les scientismes sont censés éradiquer dans l’esprit des hommes, selon les dogmes « progressistes ». Panine/Sologdine entretient une parenté philosophique avec des auteurs comme l’Abbé Barruel, Joseph de Maistre ou Donoso Cortès, dans la mesure où il perçoit le marxisme-léninisme comme un « instrument de Satan », du « mal métaphysique » ; de plus, il est une importation étrangère, comme les néologismes de la langue (de bois) qu’il préconise et généralise. La revendication d’une langue à nouveau claire, non viciée par les alluvions de la propagande, est l’impératif premier que pose ce contre-révolutionnaire indéfectible. C’est lui qui demande que l’on potasse les dictionnaires étymologiques de Vladimir Dahl car le retour à l’étymologie est un retour à la vérité première de la langue russe, donc de la Russie et de la russéité.  Les termes fabriqués par l’idéologie ou les importations étrangères constituent une chape de « médiateté » qui interdit aux Russes soviétisés de se réconcilier avec leur cœur profond. « Le Premier cercle » rapporte une querelle philosophique entre Panine/Sologdine et Soljénitsyne/Nergine : ce dernier est tenté par la sagesse chinoise de Lao Tseu, notamment par deux maximes, « Plus il y a de lois et de règlements, plus il y aura de voleurs et de hors-la-loi » et « L’homme noble conquiert sans le vouloir ». Soljénitsyne les fera toujours siennes mais, fidèle à un anti-asiatisme foncier propre à la pensée russe entre 1870 et la révolution bolchevique, Panine/Sologdine rejette toute importation de « chinoiseries », proclame sa fidélité indéfectible au fond qui constitue la tradition chrétienne orthodoxe russe, postulant une « foi en Dieu sans spéculation ».


L’éclosion d’une pensée politique véritablement russe


Dans le contexte même de la rencontre de ces trois personnages différents entre les murailles de la Sharashka, avec un Soljénitsyne/Nergine au départ vierge de toute position tranchée, la pensée du futur dissident soviétique, Prix Nobel de littérature et fustigateur de l’Occident décadent et hypocrite, va mûrir, se forger, prendre les contours qu’elle n’abandonnera jamais plus. Face à ses deux principaux interlocuteurs de la Sharashka, la première intention de Soljénitsyne/Nergine est d’écrire une histoire de la révolution d’Octobre et d’en dégager le sens véritable, lequel, pense-t-il au début de sa démarche, est léniniste et non pas stalinien. Pour justifier ce léninisme antistalinien, Soljénitsyne/Nergine interroge Kopelev/Roubine, fin connaisseur de tous les détails qui ont précédé puis marqué cette révolution et la geste personnelle de Lénine. Kopelev/Roubine est celui qui fournit la matière brute. Au fil des révélations, au fur et à mesure que Soljénitsyne/Roubine apprend faits et dessous de la révolution d’Octobre, son intention première, qui était de prouver la valeur intrinsèque du léninisme pur et de critiquer la déviation stalinienne, se modifie : désormais il veut formuler une critique fondamentale de la révolution. Pour le faire, il entend poser une batterie de questions cruciales : « Si Lénine était resté au pouvoir, y aurait-il eu ou non campagne contre les koulaks (l’Holodomor ukrainien), y aurait-il eu ou non collectivisation, famine ? ». En tentant de répondre à ces questions, Soljénitsyne demeure antistalinien mais se rend compte que Staline n’est pas le seul responsable des errements du communisme soviétique. Le mal a-t-il des racines léninistes voire des racines marxistes ? Soljénitsyne poursuit sa démarche critique et en vient à s’opposer à Kopelev, en toute amitié. Pour Kopelev, en dépit de sa qualité d’israélite russe et de prisonnier politique, pense que Staline incarne l’alliance entre l’espérance communiste et le nationalisme russe. En prison, à la Sharashka, Kopelev en arrive à justifier l’impérialisme rouge, dans la mesure où il est justement « impérial » et à défendre des positions « nationales et bolcheviques ». Kopelev admire les conquêtes de Staline, qui est parvenu à édifier un bloc impérial, dominé par la nation russe, s’étendant « de l’Elbe à la Mandchourie ».  Soljénitsyne ne partage pas l’idéal panslaviste, perceptible en filigrane derrière le discours de Kopelev/Roubine. Il répétera son désaccord dans les manifestes politiques qu’il écrira à la fin de sa vie dans une Russie débarrassée du communisme. Les Polonais catholiques ne se fondront jamais dans un tel magma ni d’ailleurs les Tchèques trop occidentalisés ni les Serbes qui, dit Soljénitsyne, ont entrainé la Russie dans une « guerre désastreuse » en 1914, dont les effets ont provoqué la révolution. Dans les débats entre prisonniers à la Sharashka, Soljénitsyne/Nergine opte pour une russéité non impérialiste, repliée sur elle-même ou sur la fraternité entre Slaves de l’Est (Russes/Grands Russiens, Ukrainiens et Biélorusses).


Panine, le maître à penser


Pour illustrer son anti-impérialisme en gestation, Soljénitsyne évoque une réunion de soldats en 1917, à la veille de la révolution quand l’armée est minée par la subversion bolchevique. L’orateur, chargé de les haranguer, appelle à poursuivre la guerre ; il évoque la nécessité pour les Russes d’avoir un accès aux mers chaudes. Cet argument se heurte à l’incompréhension des soldats. L’un d’eux interpelle l’orateur : « Va te faire foutre avec tes mers ! Que veux-tu qu’on en fasse, qu’on les cultive ? ». Soljénitsyne veut démontrer, en évoquant cette verte réplique, que la mentalité russe est foncièrement paysanne, tellurique et continentale. Le vrai Russe, ne cessera plus d’expliquer Soljénitsyne, est lié à la glèbe, il est un « pochvennik ». Il est situé sur un sol précis. Il n’est ni un nomade ni un marin. Ses qualités se révèlent quand il peut vivre un tel enracinement. Ce « pochvennikisme », associé chez Soljénitsyne à un certain quiétisme inspiré de Lao Tseu, conduit aussi à une méfiance à l’endroit de l’Etat, de tout « Big Brother » (à l’instar de Proudhon, Bakounine voire Sorel). Ce glissement vers l’idéalisation du « pochvennik » rapproche Soljénitsyne/Nergine de Panine/Sologdine et l’éloigne de Kopelev/Roubine, dont il était pourtant plus proche au début de son séjour dans la Sharashka. Le fil conducteur du « Premier cercle » est celui qui nous mène d’une position vaguement léniniste, dépourvue de toute hostilité au soviétisme, à un rejet du communisme dans toutes ses facettes et à une adhésion à la vision traditionnelle et slavophile de la russéité, portée par la figure du paysan « pochvennik ». Panine fut donc le maître à penser de Soljénitsyne.


Ce ruralisme slavophile de Soljénitsyne, né à la suite des discussions entre détenus à la Sharashka, ne doit pas nous induire à poser un jugement trop hâtif sur la philosophie politique de Soljénitsyne. On sait que le rejet de la mer constitue un danger et signale une faiblesse récurrente des pensées politiques russes ou allemandes. Oswald Spengler opposait l’idéal tellurique du chevalier teutonique, œuvrant sur terre, à la figure négative du pirate anglo-saxon, inspiré par les Vikings. Arthur Moeller van den Bruck préconisait une alliance des puissances continentales contre les thalassocraties. Carl Schmitt penche sentimentalement du côté de la Terre dans l’opposition qu’il esquisse dans « Terre et Mer », ou dans son « Glossarium » édité dix ans après sa mort, et exalte parfois la figure du « géomètre romain », véritable créateur d’Etats et d’Empires. Friedrich Ratzel et l’Amiral Tirpitz ne cesseront, devant cette propension à « rester sur le plancher des vaches », de dire que la Mer donne la puissance et que les peuples qui refusent de devenir marins sont condamnés à la récession permanente et au déclin politique.  L’Amiral Castex avancera des arguments similaires quand il exhortera les Français à consolider leur marine dans les années 50 et 60.


Les ouvrages des années 90


Pourquoi l’indubitable fascination pour la glèbe russe ne doit pas nous inciter à considérer la pensée politique de Soljénitsyne comme un pur tellurisme « thalassophobe » ? Dans ses ouvrages ultérieurs, comme « L’erreur de l’Occident » (1980), encore fort emprunt d’un antisoviétisme propre à la dissidence issue du goulag, comme « Nos pluralistes » (1983), « Comment réaménager notre Russie ? » (1990) et « La Russie sous l’avalanche » (1998), Soljénitsyne prendra conscience de beaucoup de problèmes géopolitiques : il évoquera les manœuvres communes des flottes américaine, turque et ukrainienne en Mer Noire et entreverra tout l’enjeu que comporte cette mer intérieure pour la Russie ; il parlera aussi des Kouriles, pierre d’achoppement dans les relations russo-japonaises, et avant-poste de la Russie dans les immensités du Pacifique ; enfin, il évoquera aussi, mais trop brièvement, la nécessité d’avoir de bons rapports avec la Chine et l’Inde, ouvertures obligées vers deux grands océans de la planète : l’Océan Indien et le Pacifique. « La Russie sous l’avalanche », de 1998, est à cet égard l’ouvrage de loin le mieux construit de tous les travaux politiques de Soljénitsyne au soir de sa vie. Le livre est surtout une dénonciation de la politique de Boris Eltsine et du type d’économie qu’ont voulu introduire des ministres comme Gaïdar et Tchoubaïs. Leur projet était d’imposer les critères du néo-libéralisme en Russie, notamment par la dévaluation du rouble et par la vente à l’encan des richesses du pays. Nous y reviendrons.


Asoljenitsyn1953.jpgLa genèse de l’œuvre et de la pensée politique de Soljénitsyne doit donc être recherchée dans les discussions entre prisonniers à la Sharashka, dans la « Prison spéciale n°16 », où étaient confinés des intellectuels, contraints de travailler pour l’armée ou pour l’Etat. Soljénitsyne purgera donc in extenso les huit années de détention auxquelles il avait été condamné en 1945, immédiatement après son arrestation sur le front, en Prusse Orientale. Il ne sera libéré qu’en 1953. De 1953 à 1957, il vivra en exil, banni, à Kok-Terek au Kazakhstan, où il exercera la modeste profession d’instituteur de village. Il rédige « Le Pavillon des cancéreux », suite à un séjour dans un sanatorium. Réhabilité en 1957, il se fixe à Riazan. Son besoin de solitude demeure son trait de caractère le plus spécifique, le plus étalé dans la durée. Il s’isole et se retire dans des cabanes en forêt.


La parution d’ « Une journée d’Ivan Denissovitch »


La consécration, l’entrée dans le panthéon de la littérature universelle, aura lieu en 1961-62, avec la publication d’ « Une journée d’Ivan Denissovitch », un manuscrit relatant la journée d’un « zek » (le terme soviétique pour désigner un détenu du goulag). Lev Kopelev avait lu le manuscrit et en avait décelé le génie. Surfant sur la vague de la déstalinisation, Kopelev s’adresse à un ami de Khrouchtchev au sein du Politburo de l’Union Soviétique, un certain Tvardovski. Khrouchtchev se laisse convaincre. Il autorise la publication du livre, qu’il perçoit comme un témoignage intéressant pour appuyer sa politique de déstalinisation. « Une journée d’Ivan Denissovitch » est publiée en feuilleton dans la revue « Novi Mir ». Personne n’avait jamais pu exprimer de manière aussi claire, limpide, ce qu’était réellement l’univers concentrationnaire. Ivan Denissovitch Choukhov, dont Soljénitsyne relate la journée, est un paysan, soit l’homme par excellence selon Soljénitsyne, désormais inscrit dans la tradition ruraliste des slavophiles russes. Trois vertus l’animent malgré son sort : il reste goguenard, ne croit pas aux grandes idées que l’on présente comme des modèles mirifiques aux citoyens soviétiques ; il est impavide et, surtout, ne garde aucune rancune : il pardonne. L’horreur de l’univers concentrationnaire est celle d’un interminable quotidien, tissé d’une banalité sans nom. Le bonheur suprême, c’est de mâchonner lentement une arête de poisson, récupérée en « rab » chez le cuisinier. Dans cet univers, il y a peut-être un salut, une rédemption, en bout de course pour des personnalités de la trempe d’un Ivan Denissovitch, mais il n’y en aura pas pour les salauds, dont la définition n’est forcément pas celle qu’en donnait Sartre : le salaud dans l’univers éperdument banal d’Ivan Denissovitch, c’est l’intellectuel ou l’esthète désincarnés.


Trois personnages animent la journée d’Ivan Denissovitch : Bouynovski, un communiste qui reste fidèle à son idéal malgré son emprisonnement ; Aliocha, le chrétien renonçant qui refuse une église inféodée à l’Etat ; et Choukhov, le païen stoïque issu de la région de Riazan, dont il a l’accent et dont il maîtrise le dialecte. Soljénitsyne donnera le dernier mot à ce païen stoïque, dont le pessimisme est absolu : il n’attend rien ; il cultive une morale de la survie ; il accomplit sa tâche (même si elle ne sert à rien) ; il ne renonce pas comme Aliocha mais il assume son sort. Ce qui le sauve, c’est qu’il partage ce qu’il a, qu’il fait preuve de charité ; le négateur païen du Dieu des chrétiens refait, quand il le peut, le geste de la Cène. En cela, il est le modèle de Soljénitsyne.


Retour de pendule


« Une journée d’Ivan Denissovitch » connaît un succès retentissant pendant une vingtaine de mois mais, en 1964, avec l’accession d’une nouvelle troïka au pouvoir suprême en Union Soviétique, dont Brejnev était l’homme fort, s’opère un retour de pendule. En 1965, le KGB confisque le manuscrit du « Premier cercle ». En 1969, Soljénitsyne est exclu de l’association des écrivains. En guise de riposte à cette exclusion, les Suédois lui accordent le Prix Nobel de littérature en 1970. Soljénitsyne ne pourra pas se rendre à Stockholm pour le recevoir. La répression post-khrouchtchévienne oblige Soljénitsyne, contre son gré, à publier « L’Archipel goulag » à l’étranger. Cette publication est jugée comme une trahison à l’endroit de l’URSS. Soljénitsyne est arrêté pour trahison et expulsé du territoire. La nuit du 12 au 13 février 1974, il débarque d’un avion à l’aéroport de Francfort sur le Main en Allemagne puis se rend à Zurich en Suisse, première étape de son long exil, qu’il terminera à Cavendish dans le Vermont aux Etats-Unis. Ce dernier refuge a été, pour Soljénitsyne, un isolement complet de dix-huit ans.


Euphorie en Occident


De 1974 à 1978, c’est l’euphorie en Occident. Soljénitsyne est celui qui, à son corps défendant, valorise le système occidental et réceptionne, en sa personne, tout le mal que peut faire subir le régime adverse, celui de l’autre camp de la guerre froide. C’est la période où émerge du néant la « nouvelle philosophie » à Paris, qui se veut antitotalitaire et se réclame de Soljénitsyne sans pourtant l’avoir lu entièrement, sans avoir capté véritablement le message du « Premier cercle », le glissement d’un léninisme de bon aloi, parce qu’antistalinien, vers des positions slavophiles, totalement incompatibles avec celles de la brochette d’intellos parisiens qui se vantaient d’introduire dans le monde entier une « nouvelle philosophie » à prétentions universalistes. La « nouvelle philosophie » révèle ainsi son statut de pure fabrication médiatique. Elle s’est servi de Soljénitsyne et de sa dénonciation du goulag pour faire de la propagande pro-américaine, en omettant tous les aspects de son œuvre qui indiquaient des options incompatibles avec l’esprit occidental. Dans ce contexte, il faut se rappeler que Kissinger avait empêché Gerald Ford, alors président des Etats-Unis, d’aller saluer Soljénitsyne, car, avait-il dit, sans nul doute en connaissant les véritables positions slavophiles de notre auteur, « ses vues embarrassent même les autres dissidents » (c’est-à-dire les « zapadnikis », les occidentalistes). Ce hiatus entre le Soljénitsyne des propagandes occidentales et de la « nouvelle philosophie », d’une part, et le Soljénitsyne véritable, slavophile et patriote russe anti-impérialiste, d’autre part, conduira à la thèse centrale d’un ouvrage polémique de notre auteur,  « Nos pluralistes » (1983). Dans ce petit livre, Soljénitsyne dénonce tous les mécanismes d’amalgame dont usent les médias. Son argument principal est le suivant : les « pluralistes », porte-voix des pseudo-vérités médiatiques, énoncent des affirmations impavides et non vérifiées, ne retiennent jamais les leçons de l’histoire réelle (alors que Soljénitsyne s’efforce de la reconstituer dans la longue fresque à laquelle il travaille et qui nous emmène d’août 1914 au triomphe de la révolution) ; les « pluralistes », qui sévissent en Russie et y répandent la propagande occidentale, avancent des batteries d’arguments tout faits, préfabriqués, qu’on ne peut remettre en question, sous peine de subir les foudres des nouveaux « bien-pensants ». Le « pluralisme », parce qu’il refuse toute contestation de ses propres a priori, n’est pas un pluralisme et les « pluralistes » qui s’affichent tels sont tout sauf d’authentiques pluralistes ou de véritables démocrates.


Dès 1978, dès son premier discours à Harvard, Soljénitsyne dénonce le vide spirituel de l’Occident et des Etats-Unis, leur matérialisme vulgaire, leur musique hideuse et intolérable, leur presse arrogante et débile qui viole sans cesse la vie privée. Ce discours jette un froid : « Comment donc ! Ce Soljénitsyne ne se borne pas à n’être qu’un simple antistalinien antitotalitaire et occidentaliste ? Il est aussi hostile à toutes les mises au pas administrées aux peuples par l’hegemon américain ! ». Scandale ! Bris de manichéisme ! Insolence à l’endroit de la bien-pensance !


« La Roue Rouge »


De 1969 à 1980, Soljénitsyne va se consacrer à sa grande œuvre, celle qu’il s’était promise d’écrire lorsqu’il était enfermé entre les murs de la Sharashka. Il s’attelle à la grande fresque historique de l’histoire de la Russie et du communisme. La série intitulée « La Roue Rouge » commence par un volume consacré à « Août 1914 », qui paraît en français, à Paris, en 1973, peu avant son expulsion d’URSS. La parution de cette fresque en français s’étalera de 1973 à 1997 (« Mars 1917 » paraitra en trois volumes chez Fayard). « Août 1914 » est un ouvrage très dense, stigmatisant l’amateurisme des généraux russes et, ce qui est plus important sur le plan idéologique et politique, contient une réhabilitation de l’œuvre de Stolypine, avec son projet de réforme agraire. Pour retourner à elle-même, sans sombrer dans l’irréalisme romantique ou néo-slavophile, après les sept décennies de totalitarisme communiste, la Russie doit opérer un retour à Stolypine, qui fut l’unique homme politique russe à avoir développé un projet viable, cohérent, avant le désastre du bolchevisme. La perestroïka et la glasnost ne suffisent pas : elles ne sont pas des projets réalistes, ne constituent pas un programme. L’espoir avant le désastre s’appelait Stolypine. C’est avec son esprit qu’il faut à nouveau communier. Les autres volumes de la « Roue Rouge » seront parachevés en dix-huit ans (« Novembre 1916 », « Mars/Février 1917 », « Août 1917 »). « Février 1917 » analyse la tentative de Kerenski, stigmatise l’indécision de son régime libéral, examine la vacuité du blabla idéologique énoncé par les mencheviks et démontre que l’origine du mal, qui a frappé la Russie pendant sept décennies, réside bien dans ce libéralisme anti-traditionnel. Après la perestroïka, la Russie ne peut en aucun cas retourner à un « nouveau février », comme le faisait Boris Eltsine. La réponse de Soljénitsyne est claire : pas de nouveau menchevisme mais, une fois de plus, retour à Stolypine. « Février 1917 » rappelle aussi le rôle du banquier juif allemand Halphand, alias Parvus, dans le financement de la révolution bolchevique, avec l’appui des autorités militaires et impériales allemandes, soucieuses de se défaire d’un des deux fronts sur lequel combattaient leurs armées. Les volumes de la « Roue Rouge » ne seront malheureusement pas des succès de librairie en France et aux Etats-Unis (sauf « Août 1914 ») ; en Russie, ces volumes sont trop longs à lire pour la jeune génération.


Retour à Moscou par la Sibérie


Le 27 mai 1994, Soljénitsyne retourne en Russie et débarque à Magadan en Sibérie orientale, sur les côtes de la Mer d’Okhotsk. Son arrivée à Moscou sera précédée d’un « itinéraire sibérien » de deux mois, parcouru en dix-sept étapes. Pour notre auteur, ce retour en Russie par la Sibérie sera marqué par une grande désillusion, pour cinq motifs essentiellement : 1) l’accroissement de la criminalité, avec le déclin de toute morale naturelle ; 2) la corruption politique omniprésente ; 3) le délabrement général des cités et des sites industriels désaffectés, de même que celui des services publics ; 4) la démocratie viciée ; 5) le déclin spirituel.


La position de Soljénitsyne face à la nouvelle Russie débarrassée du communisme est donc celle du scepticisme (tout comme Alexandre Zinoviev) à l’égard de la perestroïka et de la glasnost. Gorbatchev, aux yeux de Soljénitsyne et de Zinoviev, n’inaugure donc pas une renaissance mais marque le début d’un déclin. Le grand danger de la débâcle générale, commencée dès la perestroïka gorbatchévienne, est de faire apparaître le système soviétique désormais défunt comme un âge d’or matériel. Soljénitsyne et Zinoviev constatent donc le statut hybride du post-soviétisme : les résidus du soviétisme marquent encore la société russe, l’embarrassent comme un ballast difficile à traîner, et sont désormais flanqués d’éléments disparates importés d’Occident, qui se greffent mal sur la mentalité russe ou ne constituent que des scories dépourvus de toute qualité intrinsèque.


Critique du gorbatchévisme et de la politique d’Eltsine


Déçu par le gorbatchévisme, Soljénitsyne va se montrer favorable à Eltsine dans un premier temps, principalement pour le motif qu’il a été élu démocratiquement. Qu’il est le premier russe élu par les urnes depuis près d’un siècle. Mais ce préjugé favorable fera long feu. Soljénitsyne se détache d’Eltsine et amorce une critique de son pouvoir pour deux raisons : 1) il n’a pas défendu les Russes ethniques dans les nouvelles républiques de la CEI ; 2) il vend le pays et ses ressources à des consortiums étrangers.


Au départ, Soljénitsyne était hostile à Poutine, considérant qu’il était une figure politique issue des cénacles d’Eltsine. Mais Poutine, discret au départ, va se métamorphoser et se poser comme celui qui combat les stratégies de démembrement préconisées par Zbigniew Brzezinski, notamment dans son livre « Le Grand Echiquier » (« The Grand Chessboard »). Il est l’homme qui va sortir assez rapidement la Russie du chaos suicidaire de la « Smuta » (2) post-soviétique. Soljénitsyne se réconciliera avec Poutine en 2007, arguant que celui-ci a hérité d’un pays totalement délabré, l’a ensuite induit sur la voie de la renaissance lente et graduelle, en pratiquant une politique du possible. Cette politique vise notamment à conserver les richesses minières, pétrolières et gazières de la Russie entre des mains russes.


Le voyage en Vendée


En 1993, sur invitation de Philippe de Villers, Soljénitsyne se rend en Vendée pour commémorer les effroyables massacres commis par les révolutionnaires français deux cent années auparavant. Les « colonnes infernales » des « Bleus » pratiquaient la politique de « dépopulation » dans les zones révoltées, politique qui consistait à exterminer les populations rurales entrées en rébellion contre la nouvelle « république ». Dans le discours qu’il tiendra là-bas le 25 septembre 1993, Soljénitsyne a rappelé que les racines criminelles du communisme résident in nuce dans l’idéologie républicaine de la révolution française ; les deux projets politiques, également criminels dans leurs intentions, sont caractérisés par une haine viscérale et insatiable dirigée contre les populations paysannes, accusées de ne pas être réceptives aux chimères et aux bricolages idéologiques d’une caste d’intellectuels détachés des réalités tangibles de l’histoire. La stratégie de la « dépopulation » et la pratique de l’exterminisme, inaugurés en Vendée à la fin du 18ème siècle, seront réanimées contre les koulaks russes et ukrainiens à partir des années 20 du 20ème siècle. Ce discours, très logique, présentant une généalogie sans faille des idéologies criminelles de la modernité occidentale, provoquera la fureur des cercles faisandés du « républicanisme » français, placés sans ménagement aucun par une haute sommité de la littérature mondiale devant leurs propres erreurs et devant leur passé nauséabond. Soljénitsyne deviendra dès lors une « persona non grata », essuyant désormais les insultes de la presse parisienne, comme tous les Européens qui osent professer des idées politiques puisées dans d’autres traditions que ce « républicanisme » issu du cloaque révolutionnaire parisien (cette hostilité haineuse vaut pour les fédéralistes alpins de Suisse ou de Savoie, de Lombardie ou du Piémont, les populistes néerlandais ou slaves, les solidaristes ou les communautaristes enracinés dans des continuités politiques bien profilées, etc. qui ne s’inscrivent dans aucun des filons de la révolution française, tout simplement parce que ces filons n’ont jamais été présents dans leurs pays). On a même pu lire ce titre qui en dit long dans une gazette jacobine : « Une crapule en Vendée ». Tous ceux qui n’applaudissent pas aux dragonnades des « colonnes infernales » de Turreau reçoivent in petto ou de vive voix l’étiquette de « crapule ».


Octobre 1994 : le discours à la Douma


En octobre 1994, Soljénitsyne est invité à la tribune de la Douma. Le discours qu’il y tiendra, pour être bien compris, s’inscrit dans le cadre général d’une opposition, ancienne mais revenue à l’avant-plan après la chute du communisme, entre, d’une part, occidentalistes (zapadniki) et, d’autre part, slavophiles (narodniki ou pochvenniki, populistes ou « glèbistes »). Cette opposition reflète le choc entre deux anthropologies, représentées chacune par des figures de proue : Sakharov pour les zapadniki et Soljénitsyne pour les narodniki. Sakharov et les zapadniki défendaient dans ce contexte une « idéologie de la convergence », c’est-à-dire d’une convergence entre les « deux capitalismes » (le capitalisme de marché et le capitalisme monopoliste d’Etat). Sakharov et son principal disciple Alexandre Yakovlev prétendaient que cette « idéologie de la convergence » annonçait et préparait une « nouvelle civilisation mondiale » qui adviendrait par le truchement de l’économie. Pour la faire triompher, il faut « liquider les atavismes », encore présents dans la religion et dans les sentiments nationaux des peuples et dans les réflexes de fierté nationale. La liquidation des atavismes s’effectuera par le biais d’un « programme de rééducation » qui fera advenir une « nouvelle raison ». Dans son discours à la Douma, Soljénitsyne fustige cette « idéologie de la convergence » et cette volonté d’éradiquer les atavismes. L’une et l’autre sont mises en œuvre par les « pluralistes » dont il dénonçait déjà les manigances et les obsessions en 1983. Ces « pluralistes » ne se contentent pas d’importer des idées occidentales préfabriquées, tonnait Soljénitsyne du haut de la chaire de la Douma, mais ils dénigrent systématique l’histoire russe et toutes les productions issues de l’âme russe : le discours des « pluralistes » répète à satiété que les Russes sont d’incorrigibles « barbares », sont « un peuple d’esclaves qui aiment la servitude », qu’ils sont mâtinés d’esprit mongol ou tatar et que le communisme n’a jamais été autre chose qu’une expression de cette barbarité et de cet esprit de servitude. Le programme du « républicanisme » et de l’ « universalisme » français (parisien) est très similaire à celui des « pluralistes zapadnikistes » russes : les Français sont alors campés comme des « vichystes » sournois et incorrigibles et toutes les idéologies françaises, même celles qui se sont opposées à Vichy, sont accusées de receler du « vichysme », comme le personnalisme de Mounier ou le gaullisme. C’est contre ce programme de liquidation des atavismes que Soljénitsyne s’insurge lors de son discours à la Douma d’Etat. Il appelle les Russes à le combattre. Ce programme, ajoutait-il, s’enracine dans l’idéologie des Lumières, laquelle est occidentale et n’a jamais procédé d’un humus russe. L’âme russe, par conséquent, ne peut être tenue responsable des horreurs qu’a générées l’idéologie des Lumières, importation étrangère. Rien de ce qui en découle ne peut apporter salut ou solutions pour la Russie postcommuniste. Soljénitsyne reprend là une thématique propre à toute la dissidence est-européenne de l’ère soviétique, qui s’est révoltée contre la volonté d’une minorité activiste, détachée du peuple, de faire advenir un « homme nouveau » par dressage totalitaire (Leszek Kolakowski). Cet homme nouveau ne peut être qu’un sinistre golem, qu’un monstre capable de toutes les aberrations et de toutes les déviances politico-criminelles.


« Comment réaménager notre Russie ? »


Mais en quoi consiste l’alternative narodniki, préconisée par Soljénitsyne ? Celui-ci ne s’est-il pas contenté de fustiger les pratiques métapolitiques des « pluralistes » et des « zapadnikistes », adeptes des thèses de Sakharov et Yakovlev ? Les réponses se trouvent dans un ouvrage paru en 1991, « Comment réaménager notre Russie ? ». Soljénitsyne y élabore un véritable programme politique, valable certes pour la Russie, mais aussi pour tous les pays souhaitant se soustraire du filon idéologique qui va des « Lumières » au « Goulag ».


Soljénitsyne préconise une « démocratie qualitative », basée sur un vote pour des personnalités, dégagée du système des partis et assise sur l’autonomie administrative des régions. Une telle « démocratie qualitative » serait soustraite à la logique du profit et détachée de l’hyperinflation du système bancaire. Elle veillerait à ne pas aliéner les ressources nationales (celles du sol, les richesses minières, les forêts), en n’imitant pas la politique désastreuse d’Eltsine. Dans une telle « démocratie qualitative », l’économie serait régulée par des normes éthiques. Son fonctionnement serait protégé par la verticalité d’un pouvoir présidentiel fort, de manière à ce qu’il y ait équilibre entre la verticalité de l’autorité présidentielle et l’horizontalité d’une démocratie ancrée dans la substance nationale russe et liée aux terres russes. 


La notion de « démocratie qualitative »


Une telle « démocratie qualitative » passe par une réhabilitation des villages russes, explique Soljénitsyne en s’inscrivant très nettement dans le filon slavophile russe, dont les inspirations majeures sont ruralistes et « glèbistes » (pochvenniki). Cette réhabilitation a pour corollaire évident de promouvoir, sur les ruines du communisme, des communautés paysannes ou un paysannat libre, maîtres de leur propre sol. Cela implique ipso facto la liquidation du système kolkhozien. La « démocratie qualitative » veut également réhabiliter l’artisanat, un artisanat qui serait propriétaire de ses moyens de production. Les fonctionnaires ont été corrompus par la libéralisation post-soviétique. Ce fonctionnariat devenu voleur devrait être éradiqué pour ne laisser aucune chance au « libéralisme de type mafieux », précisément celui qui s’installait dans les marges du pouvoir eltsinien. La Russie sera sauvée, et à nos yeux pas seulement la Russie, si elle se débarrasse de toutes les formes de gouvernement dont la matrice idéologique et « philosophique » dérive des Lumières et du matérialisme qui en découle. Les formes de « libéralisme » et de fausse démocratie, de démocratie sans qualités, ouvrent la voie aux techniques de manipulation, donc à l’asservissement de l’homme par le biais de son déracinement, conclut Soljénitsyne. Dans le vide que créent ces formes politiques dérivées des Lumières, s’installe généralement la domination étrangère par l’intermédiaire d’une dictature d’idéologues, qui procèdent de manière systématique et sauvage à l’asservissement du peuple. Cette domination, étrangère à la substance populaire, enclenche un processus de décadence et de déracinement qui détruit l’homme, dit Soljénitsyne en se mettant au diapason du « renouveau ruraliste » de la littérature russe des années 60 à 80, dont la figure de proue fut Valentin Raspoutine.


De la démarche ethnocidaire


Soljénitsyne dénonce le processus d’ethnocide qui frappe le peuple russe (et bon nombre d’autres peuples). La démarche ethnocidaire, pratiquée par les élites dévoyées par l’idéologie des Lumières, commence par fabriquer, sur le dos du peuple et au nom du « pluralisme », des sociétés composites, c’est-à-dire des sociétés constituées d’un mixage d’éléments hétérogènes. Il s’agit de noyer le peuple-hôte principal et de l’annihiler dans un « melting pot ». Ainsi, le système soviétique, que n’a cessé de dénoncer Soljénitsyne, cherchait à éradiquer la « russéité » du peuple russe au nom de l’internationalisme prolétarien. En Occident, le pouvoir actuel cherche à éradiquer les identités au nom d’un universalisme panmixiste, dont le « républicanisme » français est l’exemple le plus emblématique.


ASOL3-VP.jpgLe 28 octobre 1994, lors de son discours à la Douma d’Etat, Soljénitsyne a répété la quintessence de ce qu’il avait écrit dans « Comment réaménager notre Russie ? ». Dans ce discours d’octobre 1994, Soljénitsyne dénonce en plus le régime d’Eltsine, qui n’a pas répondu aux espoirs qu’il avait éveillés quelques années plus tôt. Au régime soviétique ne s’est pas substitué un régime inspiré des meilleures pages de l’histoire russe mais une pâle copie des pires travers du libéralisme de type occidental qui a précipité la majorité du peuple dans la misère et favorisé une petite clique corrompue d’oligarques vite devenus milliardaires en dollars américains. Le régime eltsinien, parce qu’il affaiblit l’Etat et ruine le peuple, représente par conséquent une nouvelle « smuta ». Soljénitsyne, à la tribune de la Douma, a répété son hostilité au panslavisme, auquel il faut préférer une union des Slaves de l’Est (Biélorusses, Grands Russiens et Ukrainiens). Il a également fustigé la partitocratie qui « transforme le peuple non pas en sujet souverain de la politique mais en un matériau passif à traiter seulement lors des campagnes électorales ». De véritables élections, capables de susciter et de consolider une « démocratie qualitative », doivent se faire sur base locale et régionale, afin que soit brisée l’hégémonie nationale/fédérale des partis qui entendent tout régenter depuis la capitale. Les concepts politiques véritablement russes ne peuvent éclore qu’aux dimensions réduites des régions russes, fort différentes les unes des autres, et non pas au départ de centrales moscovites ou pétersbourgeoises, forcément ignorantes des problèmes qui affectent les régions.


« Semstvo » et « opoltcheniyé »


Le peuple doit imiter les anciens, ceux du début du 17ème siècle, et se dresser contre la « smuta » qui ne profite qu’à la noblesse querelleuse (les « boyards »), à la Cour, aux faux prétendants au trône et aux envahisseurs (en l’occurrence les envahisseurs polonais et catholiques). Aujourd’hui, c’est un nouveau profitariat qui exploite le vide eltsinien, soit la nouvelle « smuta » : les « oligarques », la clique entourant Eltsine et le capitalisme occidental, surtout américain, qui cherche à s’emparer des richesses naturelles du sol russe. Au 17ème siècle, le peuple s’était uni au sein de la « semstvo », communauté politique de défense populaire qui avait pris la responsabilité de voler au secours d’une nation en déliquescence. La notion de « semstvo », de responsabilité politique populaire, est inséparable de celle d ‘ « opoltcheniyé », une milice d’auto-défense du peuple qui se constitue pour effacer tous les affres de la « smuta ». C’est seulement à la condition de réanimer l’esprit et les pratiques de la « semstvo » et de l’ « opoltcheniyé » que la Russie se libèrera définitivement des scories du bolchevisme et des misères nouvelles du libéralisme importé pendant la « smuta » eltsinienne. Conclusion de Soljénitsyne : « Pendant la Période des Troubles (= « smuta »), l’idéal civique de la « semstvo » a sauvé la Russie ». Dans l’avenir, ce sera la même chose.


Propos de même teneur dans un entretien accordé au « Spiegel » (Hambourg, n°44/1994), où Soljénitsyne est sommé de s’expliquer par un journaliste adepte des idées libérales de gauche : « On ne peut appeler ‘démocratie’ un système électoral où seulement 30% des citoyens participent au vote ». En effet, les Russes n’accouraient pas aux urnes et les Américains ne se bousculaient pas davantage aux portillons des bureaux de vote. L’absentéisme électoral est la marque la plus patente des régimes démocratiques occidentaux qui ne parviennent plus à intéresser la population à la chose publique. Toujours dans les colonnes du « Spiegel », Soljénitsyne exprime son opinion sur l’Amérique de Bush : « En septembre 1992, le Président américain George Bush a déclaré devant l’Assemblée de l’ONU : ‘Notre objectif est d’installer partout dans le monde l’économie de marché’. C’est une idée totalitaire ». Soljénitsyne s’est ainsi fait l’avocat de la pluralité des systèmes, tout en s’opposant aux prédicateurs religieux et économiques qui tentaient, avec de gros moyens, de vendre leurs boniments en Russie.




L’œuvre de Soljénitsyne, depuis les réflexions inaugurales du « Premier cercle » jusqu’au discours d’octobre 1994 à la Douma et à l’entretien accordé au « Spiegel », est un exemple de longue maturation politique, une initiation pour tous ceux qui veulent entamer les démarches qu’il faut impérativement poser pour s’insurger comme il se doit contre les avatars de l’idéologie des Lumières, responsables d’horreurs sans nom ou de banalités sans ressort, qui ethnocident les peuples par la violence ou l’asservissement. Voilà pourquoi ses livres doivent nous accompagner en permanence dans nos réflexions et nos méditations.



(conférence préparée initialement pour une conférence à Genève et à Bruxelles, à Forest-Flotzenberg, à Pula en Istrie, aux Rochers du Bourbet et sur le sommet du Faux Verger, de janvier à avril 2009).


La présente étude est loin d’être exhaustive : elle vise essentiellement à montrer les grands linéaments d’une pensée politique née de l’expérience de la douleur. Elle ne se concentre pas assez sur le mode d’écriture de Soljénitsyne, bien mis en exergue dans l’ouvrage de Georges Nivat (« Le phénomène Soljénitsyne ») et n’explore pas l’univers des personnages de l’ « Archipel Goulag », l’œuvre étant pour l’essentiel tissée de discussions entre dissidents emprisonnés, exclus du raisonnement politique de leur pays. Une approche du mode d’écriture et une exploration trop approfondie des personnages de l’ « Archipel Goulag » aurait noyé la clarté didactique de notre exposé, destiné à éclairer un public non averti des subtilités de l’oeuvre.  


Notes :

(1)     Dans son ouvrage sur la bataille de Berlin, l’historien anglais Antony Beevor rappelle que les unités du NKVD  et du SMERSH se montrèrent très vigilantes dès l’entrée des troupes soviétiques sur le territoire du Reich, où celles-ci pouvaient juger les réalisations du régime national-socialiste et les comparer à celle du régime soviétique-stalinien. Le parti était également inquiet, rappelle Beevor, parce que, forte de ses victoires depuis Koursk, l’Armée gagnait en prestige au détriment du parti. L’homme fort était Joukov qui faisait de l’ombre à Staline. C’est dans le cadre de cette nervosité des responsables communistes qu’il faut replacer cette vague d’arrestations au sein des forces armées. Beevor rappelle également que les effectifs des ultimes défenseurs de Berlin se composaient comme  suit : 45.000 soldats d’unités diverses, dont bon nombre d’étrangers (Norvégiens, Français,…), avec, au moins 10.000 Russes ou ex-citoyens soviétiques (Lettons, Estoniens, etc.) et 40.000 mobilisés du Volkssturm.

(2)     Le terme « smuta », bien connu des slavistes et des historiens de la Russie, désigne la période de troubles subie par la Russie entre les dernières années du 16ème siècle et les premières décennies du 17ème. Par analogie, on l’a utilisée pour stigmatiser le ressac général de la Russie comme puissance après la chute du communisme.


Bibliographie :


Outre les ouvrages de Soljénitsyne cités dans cet article, nous avons consulté les livres et articles suivants :


-          Jürg ALTWEGG, « Frankreich trauert – Der ‘Schock Solschenizyn’ » , ex : http://www.faz.net/ ou Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 4 août 2008 (l’article se concentre sur l’hommage des anciens « nouveaux philosophes » par un de leurs ex compagnons de route ; monument d’hypocrisie, truffé d’hyperboles verbales).

-          Ralph DUTLI, « Zum Tod von Alexander Solschenizyn – Der Prophet im Rad der Geschichte », ex : http://www.faz.net/ ou Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 5 août 2008.

-          Aldo FERRARI, La Russia tra Oriente & Occidente, Edizioni Ares, Milano, 1994 (uniquement les chapitre sur Soljénitsyne).

-          Giuseppe GIACCIO, « Aleksandr Solzenicyn : Riconstruire l’Uomo », in Diorama Letterario, n°98, novembre 1986.

-          Juri GINZBURG, « Der umstrittene Patriarch », ex : http://www.berlinonline.de/berliner-zeitung/archiv/ ou Berliner Zeitung / Magazin, 6 décembre 2003.

-          Kerstin HOLM, « Alexander Solschenizyn : Na islomach – Wie lange wird Russland noch von Kriminellen regiert ? », ex : http://www.faz.net/s/Rub79…/ ou Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 20 juillet 1996, N°167, p. 33.

-          Kerstin HOLM, « Alexander Solschenizyn : Schwenkitten ’45 – Wider die Architekten der Niedertracht », in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 2 octobre 2004 ou http://www.faz.net/ .

-          Kerstin HOLM, « Die russische Krise – Solschenizyn als Geschichtskorektor », ex : http://www.faz.net/s/Rub…  ou Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 3 mai 2006.

-          Kerstin HOLM, « Solschenizyn : Zwischen zwei Mühlsteinen – Moralischer Röntgenblick », ex : http://www.faz.net/s/ ou Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 26 mai 2006, n°121, p. 34.

-          Kerstin HOLM, « Das Gewissen des neuen Russlands », ex : http://www.faz.net/ ou Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 5 août 2008.

-          Michael T. KAUFMAN, « Solzhenitsyn, Literary Giant Who defied Soviets, Dies at 89 », The New York Times ou http://www.nytimes.com/ .

-          Hildegard KOCHANEK, Die russisch-nationale Rechte von 1968 bis zum Ende der Sowjetunion – Eine Diskursanalyse, Franz Steiner Verlag, Stuttgart, 1999.

-          Lew KOPELEW, Und dennoch hoffen / Texte der deutsche Jahre, Hoffmann und Campe, 1991 (recension par Willy PIETERS, in : Vouloir n°1 (nouvelle série), 1994, p.18.

-          Walter LAQUEUR, Der Schoss ist fruchtbar noch – Der militante Nationalismus der russischen Rechten, Kindler, München, 1993 (approche très critique).

-          Reinhard LAUER, « Alexander Solschenizyn : Heldenleben – Feldherr, werde hart », ex : http://ww.faz.net/s/Rub79… ou Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 2 avril 1996, n°79, p. L11.

-          Jean-Gilles MALLIARAKIS, « Le retour de Soljénitsyne », in Vouloir, n°1 (nouvelle série), 1994, p.18.

-          Jaurès MEDVEDEV, Dix ans dans la vie de Soljénitsyne, Grasset, Paris, 1974.

-          Georges NIVAT, « Le retour de la parole », in Le Magazine Littéraire,  n°263, mars 1989, pp. 18-31.

-          Michael PAULWITZ, Gott, Zar, Muttererde : Solschenizyn und die Neo-Slavophilen im heutigen Russland, Burschenschaft Danubia, München, 1990.

-          Raf PRAET, « Alexander Solzjenitsyn – Leven, woord en daad van een merkwaardige Rus » (nous n’avons pas pu déterminer l’origine de cet article ; qui peut nous aider ?).

-          Gonzalo ROJAS SANCHEZ, « Alexander Solzhenitsyn (1918-2008), Arbil, n°118/2008, http://www.arbil.org/ .

-          Michael SCAMMELL, Solzhenitsyn – A Biography, Paladin/Grafton Books, Collins, London/Glasgow, 1984-1986.

-          Wolfgang STRAUSS, « Février 1917 dans ‘La Roue Rouge’ de Soljénitsyne », in http://euro-synergies.hautetfort.com/ (original allemand in Criticon, n°119/1990).

-          Wolfgang STRAUSS, « La fin du communisme et le prochain retour de Soljénitsyne », in Vouloir, N°83/86, nov.-déc. 1991 (original allemand in Europa Vorn, n°21, nov. 1991).

-          Wolfgang STRAUSS, « Soljénitsyne, Stolypine : le nationalisme russe contre les idées de 1789 », in Vouloir, n°6 (nouvelle série), 1994 (original allemand dans Criticon, n°115, 1989).

-          Wolfgang STRAUSS, « Der neue Streit der Westler und Slawophilen », in Staatsbriefe 2/1992, pp. 8-16.

-          Wolfgang STRAUSS, Russland, was nun ?, Eckhartschriften/Heft 124 - Österreichische Landmannschaft, Wien, 1993

-          Wolfgang STRAUSS, « Alexander Solschenizyns Rückkehr in die russische Vendée », in Staatsbriefe 10/1994, pp. 25-31.

-          Wolfgang STRAUSS, « Der Dichter vor der Duma (1) », in Staatsbriefe 11/1994, pp. 18-22.

-          Wolfgang STRAUSS, « Der Dichter vor der Duma (2) », in Staatsbriefe 12/1994, pp. 4-10.

-          Wolfgang STRAUSS, « Solschenizyn, Lebed und die unvollendete Revolution », in Staatsbriefe 1/1997, pp. 5-11.

-          Wolfgang STRAUSS, « Russland, du hast es besser », in Staatsbriefe 1/1997, pp. 12-14.

-          Wolfgang STRAUSS, « Kein Ende mit der Smuta », in Staatsbriefe 3/1997, pp. 7-13.

-          Reinhard VESER, « Russische Stimmen zu Solschenizyn – Ehrliches Heldentum », ex : http://www.faz.net/  ou Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 4 août 2008.

-          Craig R. WHITNEY, «Lev Kopelev, Soviet Writer In Prison 10 Years, Dies at 85 », The New York Times, June 20, 1997 ou http://www.nytimes.com/1997/06/20/world/ .

-          Alexandre ZINOVIEV, « Gorbatchévisme », in L’Autre Europe, n°14/1987.

-          Alexandre ZINOVIEV, Perestroïka et contre-perestroïka, Olivier Orban, Paris, 1991.

-          Alexandre ZINOVIEV, La suprasociété globale et la Russie, L’Age d’Homme, Lausanne, 2000.


Acquis et lu après la conférence :

- Georges NIVAT, Le phénomène Soljénitsyne, Fayard, Paris, 2009. Ouvrage fondamental !


vendredi, 28 mai 2010

Sur le Pacte germano-soviétique





Sur le Pacte germano-soviétique


Ingeborg FLEISCHHAUER, Der Pakt. Hitler, Stalin und die Initiative der deutschen Diplomatie 1938/39,  Ull­stein, Berlin, 1990, 552 S., DM 48, ISBN 3-550-07655-X.


Parmi les publications et prises de position à l'occasion du cinquantième anniversaire du fa­meux traité germano-soviétique de l'été 1939, peu ont mis l'accent sur les prémisses de ce «pacte dia­bolique». L'historienne Ingeborg Fleischauer (Université de Bonn), spécialiste des relations germano-russes, a été la première Occidentale à pouvoir consulter certaines archives et pièces ori­ginales soviétiques. Ce qui lui a permis de retracer plus minutieusement que ses prédécesseurs la gé­néalogie du «pacte». Elle en déduit que l'initiative de renouer de bonnes relations entre le Reich et la Russie venait surtout d'Allemagne et principale­ment dans la période qui a suivi Munich. Outre les archives russes, Ingeborg Fleischhauer a aussi compulsé un maximum de sources occidentales et interrogé les derniers témoins. Parmi les docu­ments analysés pour la première fois, il y a la cor­respondance privée du dernier ambassadeur alle­mand à Moscou, le Comte Friedrich Werner von der Schulenburg, dont le rôle n'a pas encore été évalué à sa juste mesure. La thèse personnelle d'Ingeborg Fleischhauer est de dire que l'initiative provient, non pas de Hitler ou de Staline, mais des milieux professionnels de la diplomatie allemande. L'historienne compte quatre étapes dans la gesta­tion du «pacte»: 1) d'octobre 1938 à fin janvier 1939, où l'on assiste à un renforcement des rela­tions commerciales bilatérales entre les deux puis­sances; 2) de février 39 au 10 mai 39, où les rela­tions bilatérales cessent d'être strictement com­merciales et se politisent lentement, malgré la désapprobation soviétique (surtout Litvinov) de l'occupation de la Bohème par les troupes de Hit­ler. Malgré l'annexion de ce territoire slave, une nouvelle génération de diplomates soviétiques ac­cepte le fait accompli qui contribue à déconstruire le cordon sanitaire occidental, mis en place pour tenir et l'Allemagne et l'URSS en échec; 3) de mai 39 au 20 août; les initiatives allemandes, quali­fiées de néo-bismarckiennes, se multiplient, jus­qu'à l'offre du pacte de non-agression du 17 août; 4) du 20 au 23 août 1939, avec le voyage de Rib­bentrop à Moscou et la signature du «pacte».


En bref, un ouvrage d'une exceptionnelle minutie que doivent posséder et lire tous ceux qui veulent comprendre la dynamique de notre siècle.


vendredi, 30 avril 2010

Moi, l'interprète de Staline

Staline.jpgArchives de SYNERGIES EUROPEENNES - 1992

Moi, l'inteprète de Staline

Valentin M. BERESCHKOW, Ich war Stalins Dolmetscher. Hinter den Kulis­sen der politischen Weltbühne, Univer­sitas, München, 1991, 517 S., DM 48, ISBN 3-8004-1228-4.

Parues dès 1949 sous le titre de Statist auf diplo­matischer Bühne  (Figurant sur la scène diplo­matique), les mémoires de l'interprète de Hitler, le Dr. Paul Schmidt constituent un ouvrage de référence majeur sur l'histoire du IIIième Reich et de sa politique étrangère, un ouvrage qui défie les années. On ne peut en dire autant des mé­moires que vient de publier l'interprète de Sta­line, Valentin M. Bereschkow (en graphie fran­­cisée: Berechkov). Celui-ci, né en 1916, est l'un des derniers survivants de l'entourage im­médiat du dictateur soviétique. Les pages qu'il consacre à son enfance et à sa jeunesse, ses étu­des et son service militaire dans l'armée rouge, sont pourtant très intéressantes et riches en in­formations de toutes sortes.

Par l'intermédiaire de ses supérieurs hiérar­chiques à l'armée, Berechkov est entré de plein pied dans le saint des saints de la grande poli­tique soviétique. Grâce à ses connaissances lin­­guistiques de très grande qualité, il est rapi­dement devenu l'un des collaborateurs les plus proches de Staline. Ce qu'il nous raconte à pro­pos du dictateur géorgien relève de la «pers­pec­tive du valet de chambre». Berechkov s'efforce en effet de présenter Staline comme un homme aimable, bon compagnon de tous les jours, in­ca­pable de faire le moindre mal à une mouche en privé. Berechkov confesse qu'il n'en croyait pas ses oreilles quand le pouvoir sovié­tique se mit à dénoncer les crimes de Staline à partir de 1956. C'est bien ce qui distingue l'ouvrage de Berech­kov des mémoires de Krouchtchev et de toutes les biographies conven­tionnelles de Staline...

Le livre de Berechkov nous révèle des anecdotes ou des secrets de première importance lorsqu'il aborde les tractations engagées par Staline avec Ribbentrop, Churchill ou Roosevelt. En fait, rien de tout cela n'est bien neuf mais est replacé sous un jour nouveau. Ce qui intéressera le lecteur en premier lieu sont évidemment les passages qui traitent du rapport entre Staline et l'Allemagne. Berechkov tient absolument à blanchir Staline; pour l'interprète, le dictateur soviétique ne sa­vait rien des préparatifs allemands d'envahir l'URSS à l'été 1941. Staline refusait d'ajouter foi aux avertissements dans ce sens. Quand l'atta­que s'est déclenchée, il en fut si choqué qu'il se retira du monde pendant dix jours, in­capable de prendre les décisions politiques et mi­litaires qui s'imposaient.

Berechkov défend donc Staline avec véhémence et insistance, ce qui est d'autant plus suspect que plus d'une analyse politique récente démontre que Staline avait en toute conscience adopté une «stratégie sur le long terme» (Ernst Topitsch), visant à faire basculer l'Union Soviétique dans la guerre. Berechkov cherche donc, selon toute vrai­semblance, à dépeindre un Staline «sau­veur de la Russie» dans la «grande guerre pa­trio­tique» quoique criminel sur le plan inté­rieur. Pour savoir ce qu'il en est exactement, il faudra attendre que soient enfin ouvertes au pu­blic les archives soviétiques. En attendant, les assertions de Berechkov doivent être accueillies avec circonspection.

Hans Cornelius.

(recension parue dans Junge Freiheit, März 1991).


jeudi, 18 mars 2010

Une analyse dissonante de la décennie postsoviétique

Une analyse dissonante de la décennie postsoviétique

Je vous traduis ci-dessous un texte de Sublime Oblivion, l'étude est très intéressante et va bien à l'encontre des aprioris que nos médias nous donnent sur l'espace Eurasien.

Cela fait 20 ans que l'URSS a disparue et que les pays de l'ex bloc de l'est sont devenues des acteurs à part entière de l'économie de marché. Cela fait 20 ans que l'on nous présente ses pays divisés en 3 groupes principaux, ceux qui ont parfaitement réussis leur transition démocratique et libérale (les tigres Baltes), et les autres, soit des états qui seraient des états socialistes de marché (Biélorussie) et ceux qui seraient des économies fondées uniquement sur les matières premières (Russie).

Sublime Oblivion a utilisé de nombreuses sources (les statistiques de Angus Madison, les chiffres de la CIA et les projections du FMIpour 2010 afin de créer un nouvel indice : "Indice post soviétique de l'analyse de l'évolution du produit intérieur brut annuel par habitant, en parité de pouvoir d'achat (PPA)", cet indice est basé sur une référence départ de "100" pour l'année 1989 (chute du mur).