Category Archives: History

A Revolutionary Trotskyist Memorial Day – Honoring the Heroes and Martyrs of the Revolutionary Workers Movement

May 30th, 1937:  Memorial Day Massacre during “Little Steel” strike: Chicago Police open fire on striking steelworkers trying to unionize steel plants on Chicago’s south side. 10 workers were murdered (many shot in the back) and 30 seriously injured. Source: Wikipedia, US National Archives

In the United States, Memorial Day is a time for remembering our family members and friends who have passed away;  and for honoring them and sharing  our memories of them with everyone who still remembers them – and for passing on the stories of their lives to our children who either never got to know them or whose memories of them are only faint memories from their earliest years.

It is also a celebration of the lives of the millions of worker-soldiers who died fighting the endless wars fought by US armies, all of which – since the U.S. Civil War – have been imperialist wars fought not in defense of the United States but in pursuit of the profit-mad dreams of the U.S. capitalist class.

The U.S. capitalist class and its owned-and-operated propaganda outlets known to Marxists as “the bourgeois press” cynically “salute” the worker-soldiers who have given their lives in imperialist wars – wars which did not make the workers’ lives one bit easier but only heaped even more wealth into the bank accounts of the top 5% of the population: the U.S. capitalist class. The blood of millions of worker-soldiers around the world has been harvested by the capitalists for the capitalists’ own benefit – they whose own sons and daughters more often than not have found ready-made legal “loopholes” allowing them to escape endangering their own lives on the front lines of the U.S.’ bloody imperialist wars. The capitalist class always makes certain that its bought-and-paid-for politicians provide the sons and daughters of the rich with ways to avoid military service in wartime. Yet they all have the nerve to trumpet their phony patriotism on days like this by wrapping themselves in the flag and disgustingly pretending to “honor” the memories of those they have sent to early graves in pursuit of profits for the wealthiest 5% of US citizens.

Meanwhile, the victims of their bloodthirstiness – the worker-soldiers who have had their bodies and minds battered and broken during their descent into the horrors of modern warfare – are thrown away as so much trash; and tens of thousands are left to suffer from the physical and psychological damage that is the “reward” every soldier receives for military service in shooting wars.

Thousands of homeless veterans are forced to roam the streets of U.S. cities, abused every day by the racist, vicious police thugs of the U.S. capitalist class. The families of worker-soldiers who are on active duty – and even elderly retired vets – are forced to beg for assistance to keep a roof over their heads while dad or mom are off brutalizing U.S. imperialism’s “enemies du jour”. It is disgusting that so many families of active U.S. soldiers must rely on charity for their basic needs, like food and clothing – while mom or dad risk their lives so that the numerically tiny billionaire class of the US can amass even greater wealth.  Why do we allow this to go on?

U.S. parents eagerly encourage their children to accept the Pentagon’s blood money so they can attend college.  “All they ask” is that your kids help murder other workers’ kids overseas for a few years.   Source: US Army

For revolutionary Trotskyists, we respect ALL of the victims of U.S. imperialism and its endless wars, not just the worker-soldiers who are driven into the bloody arms of the U.S. war machine in order to find a job or pay for college. We honor the so-called “enemy” workers who are always the victims of imperialist war, slaughtered in the millions by our own sons and daughters.  Yes it is our own sons and daughters who serve the aims of US bankers and war profiteers by serving in the military of the mortal enemies of all the world’s workers – the U.S. capitalist class.

Arkansas chapter of American Bar Association alludes to massive abuses of legal rights of active-duty, retired and disabled veterans. Source: American Bar Association “Arkansas Access to Justice Commission 2007 Annual Report”

We do not honor or support the cynical memorials for US soldiers that are organized by the professional killers of workers in the Pentagon, or by their capitalist masters. They spend millions of dollars every Memorial Day to fly U.S. flags from every flagpole and to place them on the graves of every soldier they sent to their deaths in pursuit of war profits. But when it comes time to pay for rent for the families of soldiers on active duty or for clothes for their kids or for housing for homeless vets, or for drug treatment centers or medical care for vets who have returned home suffering from effects of the wars they fought in, these phony capitalist “patriots”, wrapped in the flag every Memorial Day, are nowhere to be found!   We do not support the imperialist armed forces of the US capitalist state, whose role is to crush every workers’ rebellion that occurs anywhere in the world so as to “keep the world safe for the U.S. capitalist class and their corporations”.  The soldiers in the armed forces of the US capitalist class, though they are our own sons and daughters – are not “our troops”: they are THEIR troops; the troops of the US capitalist class and their imperialist war machine.  They answer to orders given by the US capitalist class, not to orders given by us.  It is a sad fact that many US workers encourage their own children to join the military forces of the very capitalist class that exploits workers at home and murders them overseas!  Our sons and daughters are being sent all over the world to murder their working class sisters and brothers – and we allow the US capitalist class to do this, while at the same time we shed tears over the thousands of dead US worker-soldiers who have given their lives so a handful of filthy rich US capitalists can continue to live like kings!  This is what happens when workers are so politically ignorant that they can not tell their friends from their mortal enemies.

Memorial Day is a time for those of us in the revolutionary Trotskyist workers movement to remember and honor the lives of the tens of millions of worker-socialists and communists who have died fighting for a world in which no one’s sons or daughters will ever have to fight in an imperialist war again. We honor the memories of these millions of worker-communists who sacrificed their own personal comfort by dedicating their lives not to a cozy but vacuous debt-ridden “middle class” dream but to the emancipation of all of the world’s workers from exploitation at the hands of the capitalists, and who gave their lives fighting not for the 1% but for the benefit of the workers of the entire world. These heroic worker-communists led every successful workers revolution in history – and died fighting in the many unsuccessful revolutions as well. They have been slandered and abused by the capitalists of the world who first sought to drown their struggles for the emancipation of the working class in blood and then falsified the history of what they fought and died for so that workers today don’t even know that these worker-heroes ever lived or what they fought and died for. From the coal mines of Kentucky to the copper mines of Arizona; from the cotton fields of the South to the oil fields of Alaska, courageous workers who fought against slavery and then fought to organize unions to defend the rights of workers were brutally attacked and many killed at the hands of the cops and company gun thugs and hired strikebreakers unleashed against them by the ancestors of today’s U.S. capitalist class.  On every Memorial Day the Trotskyists remember them all!

The U.S. Civil War was the last time the U.S. armed forces were employed in a revolutionary cause that advanced the rights of the working class.

We remember the worker-revolutionaries of the Civil War era who came out of the struggle against slavery and became beacons of freedom to workers and peasants and slaves all over the world: Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman and John Brown and his brave wife and family. We honor the memory of the ex-slaves, free blacks and abolitionist workers who volunteered to fight in the Union Army in the U.S. Civil War and who did so specifically to overthrow the slave power of the Confederacy, arms in hand!  The U.S. Civil War was the LAST time that the US military fought on the progressive side of a war.  Ever since then every US war has been an imperialist war fought primarily to increase the personal wealth and political and economic power of the U.S. capitalist class!

In Chicago we honor the memories of those brave worker-communists and trades unionists who were shot down in cold blood by the Chicago Police under the orders of the steel bosses at what has become known as “The Memorial Day Massacre” of 1937.  This was the blood-price demanded by the “Little Steel” bosses for the workers daring to organize steel unions here in the “Land of the Free”(TM).

We honor the memories of the Haymarket Martyrs, anarchist and socialist workers executed by the capitalists of Chicago for daring to fight for the rights of workers and an 8-hour day. We honor the memory of Lucy Parsons, who kept the spirit of the Haymarket Martyrs alive to the last day of her life. We honor the memories of the civil rights workers who gave their lives fighting for rights for black workers and who died so often at the hands of the hired killers of the US capitalist class – the cops, the FBI and their Klan and Nazi henchmen.  We remember and honor the memory of Medgar Evers, Robert F. Williams, Viola Liuzzo – and so many others whose names the world will never know.

We honor the great worker-revolutionaries who rose from the ranks to become leaders of the workers of the US, and who paid for their honesty, self-sacrifice and dedication to the cause of the working class with long prison terms: Socialist Party leader, opponent of the military draft in WWI and defender of the Russian Revolution Eugene Debs; Trotskyist leader James Cannon;  Marine Corps veteran and Black Panther Party leader Geronimo Pratt; black Communist Party member, movie star, athlete and legendary opera singer Paul Robeson; heroic US Communists Ethel and Julius Rosenberg – to name but a few. How many U.S. workers even know these names? The US capitalist class has made sure that their names are never mentioned in the bourgeois press or memorialized by Hollywood. It is up to the revolutionary socialists to keep their memories alive!

We remember and honor the heroic workers and peasants who fought to overthrow Tsarism and then had the courage to forge ahead and overthrow capitalism as well in the great Bolshevik Revolution of October 1917 and the Civil War that followed! Thousands of these brave workers and peasants were butchered at the hands of the counterrevolutionary White Guard armies, sponsored by the United States, Great Britain and other imperialist powers of the “free world”. Many lived through the horrors of the Civil War in Bolshevik Russia only to be later brutalized at the hands of Stalin and, later, Hitler and their executioners. And yet they continued to fight to put the Stalinized Soviet Union back on the road of Lenin and Trotsky to the end of their lives!

Of course we honor the great syndicalist and communist leaders from all over the world who gave their lives fighting for the emancipation of the working class internationally: “Big Bill” HaywoodJohn Reed, Leon Trotsky, Rosa Luxemburg, Karl Liebknecht, Vladimir Lenin, Abram Leon – and the millions of communist women and men whose names will forever be unknown to the world – who fought for the working class forces in every workers revolution, from the Paris Commune to the failed revolutionary movements in China in 1927, Indonesia in the 1960s, the Philippines, Afghanistan, El Salvador, Iran, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Sri Lanka, South Africa – to name but a few; we honor the millions of worker-communists and their friends butchered by the US capitalist class in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Korea and the victims of US imperialism being murdered by our deluded sons and daughters every day in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen, Libya and so many other countries. We honor the men and women of the Trotskyist Left Opposition imprisoned and executed in the Stalinist USSR, who carried the banner of Lenin and Trotsky in the face of brutal persecution until death closed their eyes forever! Their names will never be known to history but their heroic struggles will never be forgotten so long as there is a revolutionary Marxist/Leninist/Trotskyist workers party in existence!

Capitalism must die so that the working class may live! Workers of the World, Unite!

— IWPCHI

Malcolm X Birthday Tribute: “The Democrats are Dixiecrats” and “The Ballot or the Bullet” Speech

Malcolm X after 1964 pilgrimage to Mecca.  Source: Wikipedia, “Malcolm X”

On this celebration of what would have been the great US civil rights leader Malcolm X’s  92nd birthday we honor his memory by publishing a transcription of a speech he gave around 1964 which contains his brilliant deconstruction of the Democratic Party’s phony “friends of black workers” charade as well as his famous “the ballot or the bullet” warning to the racist capitalist US government.

Though the majority of the Democratic Party’s top leaders have long since dispensed with the outright white supremacist ideology they espoused at the time Malcolm X gave this speech, they still run most of the US’ major cities: every one of which is a racist hellhole for black and Hispanic workers, prominently featuring a brutally racist police department and judicial system run and defended by the Democrats.  In 2017, many major US cities – where unemployment for black workers runs as high as 60% or more and where the racist cops routinely gun down black workers as if they were dogs – are run by black Democrats.  The end result of the racist US criminal justice system remains largely the same as it was back when all these cities were run by white segregationists.  Black workers are still the last hired and first fired; the jails and prisons are packed with mostly black and brown bodies.  Today, instead of Northern Democrats running the country (as Malcolm X says) “in cahoots with Southern Dixiecrats” they are running the country as a giant “con game” in cahoots with their fellow hatchet-men (and women) of the US capitalist class in the Republican Party.

Malcolm X – brilliant as he was when he was at his best (and in this speech he is at his best) was never won over to revolutionary – that is, revolutionary Marxist/Leninist/Trotskyist – politics.  He was at first a Muslim fundamentalist, and later a black nationalist.  Neither of these ideologies are revolutionary in the 21st century, especially in a modern capitalist society whose working class is composed of workers of all ethnic backgrounds.  Only Marxist revolutionary integrationism can organize the multi-ethnic working class of the United States into an unconquerable, unified revolutionary force necessary to emancipate the working class from the capitalist system which is fundamentally based on the exploitation of the working class.

Malcolm X presented a militant counterpoint to the non-violent method of “struggle” favored by the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the pacifist, pro-capitalist wing of the Civil Rights Movement that wound up its career in the lucrative (for them) but politically dead-end of Democratic Party politics.  Today the utter bankruptcy of the idea that by placing “black faces in high places” (in the Mayors’ and Congressional offices and offices of the municipal police forces)  racism would gradually “wither away” under the capitalist system – is fully exposed as the fraud the revolutionary Marxists always said it was.  Millions of black workers have long ago stopped even bothering to look for jobs that no longer exist as the capitalist greedheads have turned formerly thriving industrial cities into jobless ghost towns.

Malcolm X points out how the division of labor between the Northern Democrats and the Southern Dixiecrats prevented the successful promulgation of Civil Rights legislation from being passed until the rise of the Civil Rights movement and the threat that it could turn into an integrated revolutionary movement of the working class forced the bourgeoisie to make concessions to head off the birth of that potential revolutionary movement.  Bourgeois historians tell the lie that the Democrats – as they had done in the 1930s and 40s with Roosevelt’s New Deal – proved they had the interests of the working class and black workers at heart.  In fact the Democrats were merely doing their best to save the capitalist system from itself in both cases, by heading off the development of a revolutionary socialist workers movement by making timely concessions to the workers, thus temporarily defusing the powder keg of working class anger that threatened to bring down the entire US capitalist system.

This is why we say that the Democrats are not the “friends of labor” but the mortal enemies of the working class and the most formidable obstacle to the development of revolutionary consciousness among workers – and particularly black workers – in the USA.   The willingness of the bourgeoisie to absorb and neuter nascent revolutionary movements via last-minute concession-making is one of the keys to the resilience of a capitalist system that should have been overthrown decades ago.  We say :”Dump the Democrats (and of course the Republicans too) and build a workers party to fight for a workers government!  If we want there to be a future for our children and grandchildren free of poverty, racism, sexism, unemployment and war we absolutely MUST overthrow the capitalist system before it staggers into World War Three – a prospect which seems more likely with each passing day.  Quite simply put: “Capitalism must die so that the working class may live”.  And this is why we seek to create the vitally necessary revolutionary Trotskyist vanguard party composed of workers from every ethnic background to fight side-by-side as sisters and brothers against the common enemy: the US capitalist class and its bought-and-paid for Democratic and Republican political water-carriers.  Only a workers party based upon the only model that has successfully overthrown the capitalist system – a Leninist vanguard party – has the capability to overthrow the racist exploitative capitalist system of the US and create an egalitarian socialist workers republic where racism, sexism, poverty, homelessness, unemployment and war will become permanently relegated to the history books.

Workers of the World, Unite!

— IWPCHI

********************************

Note: The audio file that this transcript is made from can be downloaded (or listened to) here:  https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/malcolm-x/the-dixicrats.mp3

Malcolm X speech: “The Democrats are Dixiecrats – it’s the Ballot or the Bullet” (1964/5?)

“22 million black victims of Americanism are waking up; and they’re gaining a new political consciousness… becoming politically mature. And as they become… develop this political maturity they’re able to see the recent trends in these political elections. They see that the whites are so evenly divided that every time they vote the race is so close they have to go back and count the votes all over again… which means that any bloc… any minority that has a bloc of votes that stick together is in a strategic position. Either way you go, that’s who gets it. [Applause] You’re in a position to determine who’ll go to the White House and who’ll stay in the dog house. [Laughter, applause]. You’re the one who has that power. You can keep [President Lyndon Baines] Johnson in Washington, D.C. or you can send him back to his Texas cotton patch. [Shouts, applause]

“You’re the one who sent Kennedy to Washington; you’re the one who put the present Democratic administration in Washington, D.C.. The whites were evenly divided; it was the fact that you threw 80 per cent of your votes behind the Democrats that put the Democrats in the White House.

“When you see this, you can see that the Negro vote is the key factor. And despite the fact that you are in a position to be the determining factor, what do you get out of it? The Democrats have been in Washington, D.C. only because of the Negro vote: they’ve been down there four years; and their… all other legislation they wanted to bring up they’ve brought it up and gotten it out of the way, and now they bring up you! And now they bring up you! [Scattered laughter] You put them first and they put you last! [Laughter, “That’s right!”] ‘Cause you’re a chump! [Laughter, applause] “A political chump! [Voices: “That’s right Malcolm!” “That’s right.”]

“In Washington D.C., in the House of Representatives, there are 257 who are Democrats; only 177 are Republicans. In the Senate there are 67… Democrats; only 33 are Republicans. The party that you’ve backed controls two-thirds of the House of Representatives and the Senate… and still they can’t keep their promise to you! ‘Cause you’re a chump. [Voices: That’s right! Applause]

“Any time you throw your weight behind a political party that controls two thirds of the government and that party can’t keep the promise that it made to you during election-time and you’re dumb enough to walk around continuing to identify yourself with that party you’re not only a chump but you’re a traitor to your race! [Shouts, applause]

“And what kind of alibi do they come up with? They try and “pass the buck” to the Dixiecrats.

“Now, back during the days when you were blind, deaf and dumb – ignorant, politically immature – naturally, you went along with that. But today, as your eyes come open and you develop political maturity, you’re able to see and think for yourself; and you can see that a Dixiecrat is nothing but a Democrat… [Shouts: “Yeah! Light applause] … in disguise. {Applause]

“You look at the structure of the government that controls this country: it’s controlled by sixteen Senatorial committees and twenty Congressional committees. Of the sixteen Senatorial committees that run the government, ten of them are in the hands of southern segregationists. [Voices: “That’s right!”] Of the twenty Congressional committees that run the government, twelve of them are in the hands of southern segregationists! And they gonna tell you and me that the South lost the war! [Laughter, applause]

“You, today, are in the hands of a government of segregationists: racists; white supremacists who belong to the Democratic Party but disguise themselves as Dixiecrats! A Dixiecrat is nothing but a Democrat. Whoever runs the Democrats is also the father of the Dixiecrats! And the father of all of them is sitting in the White House! [Voices: “Right!” Applause]

“I say and I say it again: you got a President who is nothing but a southern segregationist. [Voice: “That’s right!” Applause] From the state of Texas. They’ll lynch you in Texas as quick as they’ll lynch you in Mississippi… [Applause] … only, in Texas, they lynch you with a Texas accent; in Mississippi they lynch you with a Mississippi accent! [Laughter, applause]

“And the first thing the cracker does when he comes in power, he takes all the Negro leaders and invites them for coffee! [Laughter, applause] To show that he’s all right! [Laughter] And those Uncle Toms can’t pass up the coffee! [Laughter… a pause… then applause]

“They come away from the coffee table… telling you and me that ‘this man is all right’. [Laughter] ‘Cause he’s from the South! [Laughter] And ‘since he’s from the South, he can deal with the South’!

“And look at the logic that they’re using: what about [racist Mississippi Senator James] Eastland? He’s from the South! Make him the President! He can… if Johnson is a ‘good man’ ’cause he’s from Texas and being from Texas will enable him to ‘deal with the South’, Eastland can ‘deal with the South’ better than Johnson! [Laughter, applause]

“No-oo, I say you’ve been misled. You been had! You been took! [Laughter, applause]

“I was in Washington a couple weeks ago… while the Senators were filibustering. And I noticed in the back of the Senate a huge map; and on this map it showed the distribution of Negroes in America. And, surprisingly, the same Senators that were involved in the filibuster were from the state where there were the most Negroes. Why were they filibustering the Civil Rights legislation? Because the Civil Rights legislation is supposed to guarantee voting rights to Negroes in those states; and those Senators from those states know that if the Negroes in those states can vote, those Senators are down the drain! [Voices: “Yeah!” Applause] The Representatives of those states go down the drain!

“And in the Constitution of this country it has a stipulation wherein whenever the rights, the voting rights of people in a certain district are violated then the Representative who’s from that particular district – according to the Constitution – is supposed to be expelled from the Congress. [Voice: “That’s right!] Now, if this particular aspect of the Constitution was enforced, why, you wouldn’t have a cracker in Washington, D.C.! [Shouts, applause]

“But what would happen? When you expel the Dixiecrat, you’re expelling the Democrat! When you destroy the power of the Dixiecrat you’re destroying the power of the Democratic Party! [Voice: “Amen!”] So how in the world can the Democratic Party in the South [he probably meant to say “North” – IWPCHI] actually side with you, in sincerity, when all of its power is based in the… in the South? These Northern Democrats are in cahoots with the Southern Democrats! [Applause]

“They’re playing a giant con game: a political con game! You know how it goes: one of ’em comes to you and makes believe he’s for you; and he’s in cahoots with the other one that’s not for you. Why? Because neither one of ’em is for you! But they got to make you to go with one of ’em or the other. So this is a con game! And this is what they’ve been doing with you and me all these years.

“First thing – Johnson got off the plane, when he become President… he asked: ‘Where’s Dickie?’ [Voice: Yeahhh!] You know who ‘Dickie’ is? Dickie… woah! Southern cracker Richard… [Georgia Senator] Richard Russell! [Laughter] Look here! Yeeesssss! Lyndon B. Johnson’s best friend is the one who’s heading the forces that are filibustering Civil Rights legislation! You tell me how in the hell [slaps hand on podium] is he gonna be Johnson’s best friend? [Applause]

“How can Johnson be his friend, and your friend, too? [Voices: “Right!”] Naw, that man is too tricky – especially if his friend is still old Dickie! [Laughter and applause]

“Whenever the Negroes keep the Democrats in power, they’re keeping the Dixiecrats in power. This is true! [Voices: “That’s right!”] A vote for a Democrat is nothing but a vote for a Dixiecrat!

“I know you don’t like me saying that! But I… [Shouts, applause] … I’m not the kind of person who’d come here to say what you like. I’m gonna tell you the truth whether you like it or not! [Shouts, applause]

“Up here in the North you have the same thing. The Democratic Party don’t… don’t do it, doesn’t… they don’t do it that way; they got a thing that they call ‘gerrymandering’. [Laughter, shouts] They… they maneuver you out of power! [Laughter] Even though you can vote they fix it so you voting for nobody. [Laughter] They got you going and coming. In the South they’re outright political wolves; in the North they’re political foxes. [Laughter] A fox and a wolf are both canine; both belong to the dog family. [Laughter, applause] Now… you take your choice: you gonna choose a Northern dog or a Southern dog? [Laughter, applause] Because either dog you choose, I’ll guarantee you, you’ll still be in the dog house! [Laughter, applause]

“This is why I say: “it’s the ballot or the bullet”; it’s liberty or it’s death; it’s freedom for everybody or freedom for nobody. [Applause, shouts]

“America today finds herself in a unique situation. Historically, revolutions are bloody: oh, yes they are. They haven’t ever had a blood-less revolution. [Shouts] Or a “non-violent” revolution. [Voice: “Right!”] That don’t happen even in Hollywood. [Laughter, applause] You don’t have a revolution in which you love your enemy. And you don’t have a revolution in which you’re begging the system of exploitation to integrate you into it. Revolutions overturn systems; [Applause] revolutions destroy systems. [Applause] A revolution is bloody…. [long pause, audience is silent] … but America is in a unique position: she’s the only country in history in a position actually to become involved in a blood-less revolution. The Russian Revolution was bloody; Chinese Revolution was bloody; French Revolution was bloody; Cuban Revolution was bloody – and there was nothing more bloody than the American Revolution. [Voices: “That’s right.”] But today, this country can become involved in a revolution that won’t take bloodshed. All she’s got to do is give the black man in this country everything that’s due him. [Voices: “That’s right! Applause] Everything! [Applause]

—- Original transcription by IWPCHI

100th Anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution: Trotsky on the Doomed Tsar and Tsarina

We present here the background to the great Russian Revolution of 1917 on its hundredth anniversary – as told by one of its chief organizers: Leon Trotsky.

Trotsky’s “History of the Russian Revolution” is not only a great read: it is also an almost unique first-person account of a great revolution as told by one of its chief organizers.  It is almost unique among the histories of any revolution.  Most revolutionary leaders never lived to write their own history of the revolutions they led.  So from that standpoint alone, Trotsky’s “History” is of inestimable value – especially to workers who want to know the truth about the Bolshevik Revolution.

As part of our series commemorating the 100th anniversary of the very first successful communist-led workers revolution we present to our readers this excerpt from “The History of the Russian Revolution” by Leon Trotsky.  In it we will get a glimpse of the wonderful regime that was brutally destroyed by the extremists of the Bolshevik Party, led by Lenin and Trotsky.  This chapter that describes the repulsive chaRracters of the Tsar and Tsarina are among our favorite written works in any genre of literature.  This version of the book comes from the Marxists.org website at https://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1930/hrr/ch04.htm   In the US we are taught to have sympathy for the executed Tsar and his family.  The hideousness of the regime is fully explored in this essay; workers who study the history of the disgusting Romanov dynasty will come to understand after reading this essay that this Tsarist regime deserves absolutely no sympathy at all.  Enjoy!

—IWPCHI

Leon Trotsky

The History of the Russian Revolution

Volume One: The Overthrow of Tzarism


Chapter 4
The Tzar and the Tzarina

 

This book will concern itself least of all with those unrelated psychological researches which are now so often substituted for social and historical analysis. Foremost in our field of vision will stand the great, moving forces of history, which are super-personal in character. Monarchy is one of them. But all these forces operate through people. And monarchy is by its very principle bound up with the personal. This in itself justifies an interest in the personality of that monarch whom the process of social development brought face to face with a revolution. Moreover, we hope to show in what follows, partially at least, just where in a personality the strictly personal ends – often much sooner than we think – and how frequently the “distinguishing traits” of a person are merely individual scratches made by a higher law of development.

Nicholas II inherited from his ancestors not only a giant empire, but also a revolution. And they did not bequeath him one quality which would have made him capable of governing an empire or even a province or a county. To that historic flood which was rolling its billows each one closer to the gates of his palace, the last Romanov opposed only a dumb indifference. It seemed as though between his consciousness and his epoch there stood some transparent but absolutely impenetrable medium.

People surrounding the tzar often recalled after the revolution that in the most tragic moments of his reign – at the time of the surrender of Port Arthur and the sinking of the fleet at Tsushima, and ten years later at the time of the retreat of the Russian troops from Galicia, and then two years later during the days preceding his abdication when all those around him were depressed, alarmed, shaken – Nicholas alone preserved his tranquillity. He would inquire as usual how many versts he had covered in his journeys about Russia, would recall episodes of hunting expeditions in the past, anecdotes of official meetings, would interest himself generally in the little rubbish of the day’s doings, while thunders roared over him and lightnings flashed. “What is this?” asked one of his attendant generals, “a gigantic, almost unbelievable self-restraint, the product of breeding, of a belief in the divine predetermination of events? Or is it inadequate consciousness?” The answer is more than half included in the question. The so-called “breeding” of the tzar, his ability to control himself in the most extraordinary circumstances, cannot be explained by a mere external training; its essence was an inner indifference, a poverty of spiritual forces, a weakness of the impulses of the will. That mask of indifference which was called breeding in certain circles, was a natural part of Nicholas at birth.

The tzar’s diary is the best of all testimony. From day to day and from year to year drags along upon its pages the depressing record of spiritual emptiness. “Walked long and killed two crows. Drank tea by daylight.” Promenades on foot, rides in a boat. And then again crows, and again tea. All on the borderline of physiology. Recollections of church ceremonies are jotted down in the same tome as a drinking party.

In the days preceding the opening of the State Duma, when the whole country was shaking with convulsions, Nicholas wrote: “April 14. Took a walk in a thin shirt and took up paddling again. Had tea in a balcony. Stana dined and took a ride with us. Read.” Not a word as to the subject of his reading. Some sentimental English romance? Or a report from the Police Department? “April 15: Accepted Witte’s resignation. Marie and Dmitri to dinner. Drove them home to the palace.”

On the day of the decision to dissolve the Duma, when the court as well as the liberal circles were going through a paroxysm of fright, the tzar wrote in his diary: “July 7. Friday. Very busy morning. Half hour late to breakfast with the officers … A storm came up and it was very muggy. We walked together. Received Goremykin. Signed a decree dissolving the Duma! Dined with Olga and Petia. Read all evening.” An exclamation point after the coming dissolution of the Duma is the highest expression of his emotions. The deputies of the dispersed Duma summoned the people to refuse to pay taxes. A series of military uprisings followed: in Sveaborg, Kronstadt, on ships, in army units. The revolutionary terror against high officials was renewed on an unheard-of scale. The tzar writes: “July 9. Sunday. It has happened! The Duma was closed today. At breakfast after Mass long faces were noticeable among many … The weather was fine. On our walk we met Uncle Misha who came over yesterday from Gatchina. Was quietly busy until dinner and all evening. Went padding in a canoe.” It was in a canoe he went paddling – that is told. But with what he was busy all evening is not indicated. So it was always.

And further in those same fatal days: “July 14. Got dressed and rode a bicycle to the bathing beach and bathed enjoyably in the sea.” “July 15. Bathed twice. It was very hot. Only us two at dinner. A storm passed over.” “July 19. Bathed in the morning. Received at the farm. Uncle Vladimir and Chagin lunched with us.” An insurrection and explosions of dynamite are barely touched upon with a single phrase, “Pretty doings!” – astonishing in its imperturbable indifference, which never rose to conscious cynicism.

“At 9:30 in the morning we rode out to the Caspian regiment … walked for a long time. The weather was wonderful. Bathed in the sea. After tea received Lvov and Guchkov.” Not a word of the fact that this unexpected reception of the two liberals was brought about by the attempt of Stolypin to include opposition leaders in his ministry. Prince Lvov, the future head of the Provisional Government, said of that reception at the time: “I expected to see the sovereign stricken with grief, but instead of that there came out to meet me a jolly sprightly fellow in a raspberry-coloured shirt.” The tzar’s outlook was not broader than that of a minor police official – with this difference, that the latter would have a better knowledge of reality and be less burdened with superstitions. The sole paper which Nicholas read for years, and from which he derived his ideas, was a weekly published on state revenue by Prince Meshchersky, a vile, bribed journalist of the reactionary bureaucratic clique, despised even in his own circle. The tzar kept his outlook unchanged through two wars and two revolutions. Between his consciousness and events stood always that impenetrable medium – indifference. Nicholas was called, not without foundation, a fatalist. It is only necessary to add that his fatalism was the exact opposite of an active belief in his “star.” Nicholas indeed considered himself unlucky. His fatalism was only a form of passive self-defence against historic evolution, and went hand in hand with an arbitrariness, trivial in psychological motivation, but monstrous in its consequences.

“I wish it and therefore it must be —,” writes Count Witte. “That motto appeared in all the activities of this weak ruler, who only through weakness did all the things which characterised his reign – a wholesale shedding of more or less innocent blood, for the most part without aim.”

Nicholas is sometimes compared with his half-crazy great-great-grandfather Paul, who was strangled by a camarilla acting in agreement with his own son, Alexander “the Blessed.” These two Romanovs were actually alike in their distrust of everybody due to a distrust of themselves, their touchiness as of omnipotent nobodies, their feeling of abnegation, their consciousness, as you might say, of being crowned pariahs. But Paul was incomparably more colourful; there was an element of fancy in his rantings, however irresponsible. In his descendant everything was dim; there was not one sharp trait.

Nicholas was not only unstable, but treacherous. Flatterers called him a charmer, bewitcher, because of his gentle way with the courtiers. But the tzar reserved his special caresses for just those officials whom he had decided to dismiss. Charmed beyond measure at a reception, the minister would go home and find a letter requesting his resignation. That was a kind of revenge on the tzar’s part for his own nonentity.

Nicholas recoiled in hostility before everything gifted and significant. He felt at ease only among completely mediocre and brainless people, saintly fakers, holy men, to whom he did not have to look up. He had his amour propre, indeed it was rather keen. But it was not active, not possessed of a grain of initiative, enviously defensive. He selected his ministers on a principle of continual deterioration. Men of brain and character he summoned only in extreme situations when there was no other way out, just as we call in a surgeon to save our lives. It was so with Witte, and afterwards with Stolypin. The tzar treated both with ill-concealed hostility. As soon as the crisis had passed, he hastened to part with these counsellors who were too tall for him. This selection operated so systematically that the president of the last Duma, Rodzianko, on the 7th of January 1917, with the revolution already knocking at the doors, ventured to say to the tzar: “Your Majesty, there is not one reliable or honest man left around you; all the best men have been removed or have retired. There remain only those of ill repute.”

All the efforts of the liberal bourgeoisie to find a common language with the court came to nothing. The tireless and noisy Rodzianko tried to shake up the tzar with his reports, but in vain. The latter gave no answer either to argument or to impudence, but quietly made ready to dissolve the Duma. Grand Duke Dmitri, a former favourite of the tzar, and future accomplice in the murder of Rasputin, complained to his colleague, Prince Yussupov, that the tzar at headquarters was becoming every day more indifferent to everything around him. In Dmitri’s opinion the tzar was being fed some kind of dope which had a benumbing action upon his spiritual faculties. “Rumours went round,” writes the liberal historian Miliukov, “that this condition of mental and moral apathy was sustained in the tzar by an increased use of alcohol.” This was all fancy or exaggeration. The tzar had no need of narcotics: the fatal “dope” was in his blood. Its symptoms merely seemed especially striking on the background of those great events of war and domestic crisis which led up to the revolution. Rasputin, who was a psychologist, said briefly of the tzar that he “lacked insides.”

This dim, equable and “well-bred” man was cruel – not with the active cruelty of Ivan the Terrible or of Peter, in the pursuit of historic aims – What had Nicholas the Second in common with them? – but with the cowardly cruelty of the late born, frightened at his own doom. At the very dawn of his reign Nicholas praised the Phanagoritsy regiment as “fine fellows” for shooting down workers. He always “read with satisfaction” how they flogged with whips the bob-haired girl-students, or cracked the heads of defenceless people during Jewish pogroms. This crowned black sheep gravitated with all his soul to the very dregs of society, the Black Hundred hooligans. He not only paid them generously from the state treasury, but loved to chat with them about their exploits, and would pardon them when they accidentally got mixed up in the murder of an opposition deputy. Witte, who stood at the head of the government during the putting down of the first revolution, has written in his memoirs: “When news of the useless cruel antics of the chiefs of those detachments reached the sovereign, they met with his approval, or in any case his defence.” In answer to the demand of the governor-general of the Baltic States that he stop a certain lieutenant-captain, Richter, who was “executing on his own authority and without trial non-resistant persons,” the tzar wrote on the report: “Ah, what a fine fellow!” Such encouragements are innumerable. This “charmer,” without will, without aim, without imagination, was more awful than all the tyrants of ancient and modern history.

The tzar was mightily under the influence of the tzarina, an influence which increased with the years and the difficulties. Together they constituted a kind of unit – and that combination shows already to what an extent the personal, under pressure of circumstances, is supplemented by the group. But first we must speak of the tzarina herself.

Maurice Paléologue, the French ambassador at Petrograd during the war, a refined psychologist for French academicians and janitresses, offers a meticulously licked portrait of the last tzarina: “Moral restlessness, a chronic sadness, infinite longing, intermittent ups and downs of strength, anguishing thoughts of the invisible other world, superstitions – are not all these traits, so clearly apparent in the personality of the empress, the characteristic traits of the Russian people?” Strange as it may seem, there is in this saccharine lie just a grain of truth. The Russian satirist Saltykov, with some justification, called the ministers and governors from among the Baltic barons “Germans with a Russian soul.” It is indubitable that aliens, in no way connected with the people, developed the most pure culture of the “genuine Russian” administrator.

But why did the people repay with such open hatred a tzarina who, in the words of Paléologue, had so completely assimilated their soul? The answer is simple. In order to justify her new situation, this German woman adopted with a kind of cold fury all the traditions and nuances of Russian mediaevalism, the most meagre and crude of all mediaevalisms, in that very period when the people were making mighty efforts to free themselves from it. This Hessian princess was literally possessed by the demon of autocracy. Having risen from her rural corner to the heights of Byzantine despotism, she would not for anything take a step down. In the orthodox religion she found a mysticism and a magic adapted to her new lot. She believed the more inflexibly in her vocation, the more naked became the foulness of the old régime. With a strong character and a gift for dry and hard exaltations, the tzarina supplemented the weak-willed tzar, ruling over him.

On March 17, 1916, a year before the revolution, when the tortured country was already writhing in the grip of defeat and ruin, the tzarina wrote to her husband at military headquarters: “You must not give indulgences, a responsible ministry, etc. … or anything that they want. This must be your war and your peace, and the honour yours and our fatherland’s, and not by any means the Duma’s. They have not the right to say a single word in these matters.” This was at any rate a thoroughgoing programme. And it was in just this way that she always had the whip hand over the continually vacillating tzar.

After Nicholas’ departure to the army in the capacity of fictitious commander-in-chief, the tzarina began openly to take charge of internal affairs. The ministers came to her with reports as to a regent. She entered into a conspiracy with a small camarilla against the Duma, against the ministers, against the staff-generals, against the whole world – to some extent indeed against the tzar. On December 6, 1916, the tzarina wrote to the tzar: “… Once you have said that you want to keep Protopopov, how does he (Premier Trepov) go against you? Bring down your fist on the table. Don’t yield. Be the boss. Obey your firm little wife and our Friend. Believe in us.” Again three days late: “You know you are right. Carry your head high. Command Trepov to work with him … Strike your fist on the table.” Those phrases sound as though they were made up, but they are taken from authentic letters. Besides, you cannot make up things like that.

On December 13 the tzarina suggest to the tzar: “Anything but this responsible ministry about which everybody has gone crazy. Everything is getting quiet and better, but people want to feel your hand. How long they have been saying to me, for whole years, the same thing: ’Russia loves to feel the whip.’ That is their nature!” This orthodox Hessian, with a Windsor upbringing and a Byzantine crown on her head, not only “incarnates” the Russian soul, but also organically despises it. Their nature demands the whip – writes the Russian tzarina to the Russian tzar about the Russian people, just two months and a half before the monarchy tips over into the abyss.

In contrast to her force of character, the intellectual force of the tzarina is not higher, but rather lower than her husband’s. Even more than he, she craves the society of simpletons. The close and long-lasting friendship of the tzar and tzarina with their lady-in-waiting Vyrubova gives a measure of the spiritual stature of this autocratic pair. Vyrubova has described herself as a fool, and this is not modesty. Witte, to whom one cannot deny an accurate eye, characterised her as “a most commonplace, stupid, Petersburg young lady, homely as a bubble in the biscuit dough.” In the society of this person, with whom elderly officials, ambassadors and financiers obsequiously flirted, and who had just enough brains not to forget about her own pockets, the tzar and tzarina would pass many hours, consulting her about affairs, corresponding with her and about her. She was more influential than the State Duma, and even that the ministry.

But Vyrubova herself was only an instrument of “The Friend,” whose authority superseded all three. “… This is my private opinion,” writes the tzarina to the tzar, “I will find out what our Friend thinks.” The opinion of the “Friend” is not private, it decides. “… I am firm,” insists the tzarina a few weeks later, “but listen to me, i.e. this means our Friend, and trust in everything … I suffer for you as for a gentle soft-hearted child – who needs guidance, but listens to bad counsellors, while a man sent by God is telling him what he should do.”

The Friend sent by God was Gregory Rasputin.

“… The prayers and the help of our Friend – then all will be well.”

“If we did not have Him, all would have been over long ago. I am absolutely convinced of that.”

Throughout the whole reign of Nicholas and Alexandra soothsayers and hysterics were imported for the court not only from all over Russia, but from other countries. Special official purveyors arose, who would gather around the momentary oracle, forming a powerful Upper Chamber attached to the monarch. There was no lack of bigoted old women with the title of countess, nor of functionaries weary of doing nothing, nor of financiers who had entire ministries in their hire. With a jealous eye on the unchartered competition of mesmerists and sorcerers, the high priesthood of the Orthodox Church would hasten to pry their way into the holy of holies of the intrigue. Witte called this ruling circle, against which he himself twice stubbed his toe, “the leprous court camarilla.”

The more isolated the dynasty became, and the more unsheltered the autocrat felt, the more he needed some help from the other world. Certain savages, in order to bring good weather, wave in the air a shingle on a string. The tzar and tzarina used shingles for the greatest variety of purposes. In the tzar’s train there was a whole chapel full of large and small images, and all sorts of fetiches, which were brought to bear, first against the Japanese, then against the German artillery.

The level of the court circle really had not changed much from generation to generation. Under Alexander II, called the “Liberator,” the grand dukes had sincerely believed in house spirits and witches. Under Alexander III it was no better, only quieter. The “leprous camarilla” had existed always, changed only its personnel and its method. Nicholas II did not create, but inherited from his ancestors, this court atmosphere of savage mediaevalism. But the country during these same decades had been changing, its problems growing more complex, its culture rising to a higher level. The court circle was thus left far behind.

Although the monarchy did under compulsion make concessions to the new forces, nevertheless inwardly it completely failed to become modernised. On the contrary it withdrew into itself. Its spirit of mediaevalism thickened under the pressure of hostility and fear, until it acquired the character of a disgusting nightmare overhanging the country.

Towards November 1905 – that is, at the most critical moment of the first revolution – the tzar writes in his diary: “We got acquainted with a man of God, Gregory, from the Tobolsk province.” That was Rasputin – a Siberian peasant with a bald scar on his head, the result of a beating for horse-stealing. Put forward at an appropriate moment, this “Man of God” soon found official helpers – or rather they found him – and thus was formed a new ruling class which got a firm hold of the tzarina, and through her of the tzar.

From the winter of 1913-14 it was openly said in Petersburg society that all high appointments, posts and contracts depended upon the Rasputin clique. The “Elder” himself gradually turned into a state institution. He was carefully guarded, and no less carefully sought after by the competing ministers. Spies of the Police Department kept a diary of his life by hours, and did not fail to report how on a visit to his home village of Pokrovsky he got into a drunken and bloody fight with his own father on the street. On the same day that this happened – September 9, 1915 – Rasputin sent two friendly telegrams, one to Tzarskoe Selo, to the tzarina, the other to headquarters to the tzar. In epic language the police spies registered from day to day the revels of the Friend. “He returned today 5 o’clock in the morning completely drunk.” “On the night of the 25-26th the actress V. spent the night with Rasputin.” “He arrived with Princess D. (the wife of a gentleman of the bedchamber of the Tzar’s court) at the Hotel Astoria.”…And right beside this: “Came home from Tzarskoe Selo about 11 o’clock in the evening.” “Rasputin came home with Princess Sh- very drunk and together they went out immediately.” In the morning or evening of the following day a trip to Tzarskoe Selo. To a sympathetic question from the spy as to why the Elder was thoughtful, the answer came: “Can’t decide whether to convoke the Duma or not.” And then again: “He came home at 5 in the morning pretty drunk.” Thus for months and years the melody was played on three keys: “Pretty drunk,” “Very drunk,” and “Completely drunk.” These communications of state importance were brought together and countersigned by the general of gendarmes, Gorbachev.

The bloom of Raputin’s influence lasted six years, the last years of the monarchy. “His life in Petrograd,” says Prince Yussupov, who participated to some extent in that life, and afterward killed Rasputin, “became a continual revel, the durnken debauch of a galley slave who had come into an unexpected fortune.” “I had at my disposition,” wrote the president of the Duma, Rodzianko, “a whole mass of letters from mothers whose daughters had been dishonoured by this insolent rake.” Nevertheless the Petrograd metropolitan, Pitirim, owed his position to Rasputin, as also the almost illiterate Archbishop Varnava. The Procuror of the Holy Synod, Sabler, was long sustained by Rasputin; and Premier Kokovtsev was removed at his wish, having refused to receive the “Elder.” Rasputin appointed Stürmer President of the Council of Ministers, Protopopov Minister of the Interior, the new Procuror of the Synod, Raev, and many others. The ambassador of the French republic, Paléologue, sought an interview with Rasputin, embraced him and cried, “Voilà, un véritable illuminé!” hoping in this way to win the heart of the tzarina to the cause of France. The Jew Simanovich, financial agent of the “Elder,” himself under the eye of the Secret Police as a nightclub gambler and usurer – introduced into the Ministry of Justice through Rasputin the completely dishonest creature Dobrovolsky.

“Keep by you the little list,” writes the tzarina to the tzar, in regard to new appointments. “Our friend has asked that you talk all this over with Protopopov.” Two days later: “Our friend says that Stürmer may remain a few days longer as President of the Council of Ministers.” And again: “Protopopov venerates our friend and will be blessed.”

On one of those days when the police spies were counting up the number of bottles and women, the tzarina grieved in a letter to the tzar: “They accuse Rasputin of kissing women, etc. Read the apostles; they kissed everybody as a form of greeting.” This reference to the apostles would hardly convince the police spies. In another letter the tzarina goes still farther. “During vespers I thought so much about our friend,” she writes, “how the Scribes and Pharisees are persecuting Christ pretending that they are so perfect … yes, in truth no man is a prophet in his own country.”

The comparison of Rasputin and Christ was customary in that circle, and by no means accidental. The alarm of the royal couple before the menacing forces of history was too sharp to be satisfied with an impersonal God and the futile shadow of a Biblical Christ. They needed a second coming of “the Son of Man.” In Rasputin the rejected and agonising monarchy found a Christ in its own image.

“If there had been no Rasputin,” said Senator Tagantsev, a man of the old régime, “it would have been necessary to invent one.” There is a good deal more in these words than their author imagined. If by the word hooliganism we understand the extreme expression of those anti-social parasite elements at the bottom of society, we may define Rasputinism as a crowned hooliganism at its very top.

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DEFEND NORTH KOREA! DPRK Defends its Right to Nuclear Self-Defense vs. “Nuclear Blackmail” of US Govt.

Voice of Korea website homepage, 17 April 2017

Voice of Korea website homepage, 17 April 2017

[N.B.: The United States and its massive propaganda machine – encompassing much of the world’s bourgeois press – has long been selling the outrageous and obvious lie that tiny North Korea, with its handful of nuclear weapons mounted (so far) only on CONTINENTAL ballistic missiles poses a deadly existential threat to the US and the entire world.  Only the willfully blind would believe this fraudulent claim, especially coming as it does from the US government, which possesses THOUSANDS of nuclear warheads capable of hitting North Korea from land, air and sea-based launch platforms.  The United States murdered an estimated 3 million Koreans in the Korean War, fought by the US capitalist class to prevent the Korean workers from taking power into their own hands and establishing a revolutionary socialist workers government at the end of WWII.  It was only due to the existence of the nuclear arsenal of the USSR that the US was prevented from using nuclear weapons against North Korea and China just as they had against the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  It was the nuclear arsenal of the USSR and, later, China, that prevented the US from deploying nuclear weapons against the Vietnamese workers during the brutal, barbaric Vietnam War.  Today, despite the massive historical record proving that it has been the USA that poses the greatest threat North Korea – and  to the human race – due to its proven willingness to use nuclear weapons – the world is supposed to believe that the quite reasonable desire of the tiny Stalinist workers state of North Korea to possess a few nukes as self-defense against the massive nuclear-armed US imperialist war machine poses a deadly threat to – the US!  Of course, this is a monstrous lie, as the following declaration of the DPRK’s “Voice of Korea” website makes clear.  Since it is impossible to get the DPRK’s side of the story from any US bourgeois press outlet, we are making an attempt to “break the US propaganda blockade” against the North Korean Stalinized workers state by publishing a few of their statements here on our website.  We say: US HANDS OFF NORTH KOREA! and US GET THE HELL OUT OF ASIA, NOW!

The following unattributed statement was transcribed from an English-language audio recording presented on the “Voice of Korea” website at http://www.vok.rep.kp/CBC/index.php?CHANNEL=6&lang= on 17 April 2017 by IWPCHI. All bracketed phrases were added by us. — IWPCHI]

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“Shamelessness of the United States, Kingpin of Nuclear Proliferation”

Some time ago, the US representative to the United Nations said: “Negotiations on [the] ‘Convention on Banning Nuclear Weapons’ are unrealistic because of the nuclear threat of North Korea”. Taking the Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea as the reason why the United States does not take part in the UN conference for negotiations on the Convention on banning nuclear weapons, he said: “Is there anyone who believes that North Korea would agree on banning nuclear weapons? It is impossible to say that the people can be protected in the way of disallowing such countries as the United States – trying to defend peace and security – to have nuclear weapons; and then allowing their opponents to have them.”

It is really a shameless and brigandish sophistry; it is a manifestation of the shameless attempt of the United States to cover up its heinous crimes – the country that is the only user of nukes in the world; a country that has invited worldwide nuclear arms race with nuclear threat and blackmail.

Looking back upon the history of nuclear arms development, the United States and other big powers played the leading role in making international conventions on nuclear weapons and signed them (or not, in their interests), for the purpose of keeping non-nuclear states from possessing nukes. The Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea has risen up as a nuclear power in the East to cope with the vicious use of threat of nuclear war, which has lasted tens of years; so it is quite natural for the DPRK not to take part in the UN conference for negotiations on the convention on banning nuclear weapons, which presupposes nuclear renunciation.

The United States is the kingpin of nuclear proliferation, that did not hesitate to impose nuclear calamity upon humanity to realize its ambition for world domination, but trifled international treaties for nuclear disarmament and is conniving at, encouraging and shielding the nuclear arms development of its stooges.

Recently, in the United States (which talked about a ‘nuclear-free world’ more loudly than others) remarks are openly made that the nuclear force of the United States ‘lags behind’ other countries, and nuclear force will be strengthened to keep it in military power. Still advocating ‘peace by strength’, the United States is invariably promoting the modernization of nuclear weapons costing one trillion US dollars (which was accelerated by the former administration) and does not hesitate to maintain that the treaties on nuclear disarmament with other nuclear powers must be abolished.

It is illogical and the acme of shamelessness that such an outrageous nuclear devil slanders the nuclear force of the DPRK – a direct product of [the US’] nuclear blackmail. The United States must clearly know it is an invariable stand of the DPRK that peace and security of the Korean peninsula can be defended only by reliable nuclear deterrence, as long as there exists a nuclear state in hostile relations with the DPRK.

As the nuclear threat and blackmail of the United States and its followers continue, the DPRK will [afford?], expand and strengthen its nuclear force [equal?] to the self-reliant defense capability and pre-emptive striking capacity.

— [Voice of Korea]

DEFEND NORTH KOREA! DPRK Slams U.S. Human Rights Record, Citing Racism, Slavery, Child Abuse

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK, known in the US as simply “North Korea”) slammed the US’ human rights record recently, calling out the US Government for its blatant hypocrisy regarding human rights in the US and wherever the US military has launched attacks against countries around the world.

Writing back on 28 February, the Korean Central News Agency (the official DPRK news website) accused the US of being the “world’s worst human rights abuser”, citing the US’ long record of racism and traffic in human flesh which “began with black slave trade”.

“Last year the U.S. released a ‘report on world’s human traffic in 2016’ in which it slandered 188 countries and regions, blaming them for failing to combat flesh traffic. Not content with this, the U.S. went the lengths of mapping out a list of such countries.
“There is no such country as the U.S. where human existence and security are not guaranteed and even the elementary rights of human beings are being violated blatantly.
“The U.S. is a cesspool of crimes and a veritable hell where grisly human rights abuses and bloody man-killing are rampant. It came into being through bloody man-killing and exists by dint of human rights abuses.

“The U.S. is only the country where children without their protectors are thrown behind bars for an indefinite period. About 70 000 children met such fate in 2014 only.
“It is shameless for such country to talk about international law and standards and pull up most of the countries in the world over their ‘human rights situation.'”

The full text of the KCNA article is reprinted below.

The complete political disorientation of the Kim Jong-Il-led DPRK leadership is shown in this article by their uncritical citation of a statement from the viciously anti-woman, anticommunist and antigay Iranian government regarding the US human rights record.  For alleged communists to needlessly make common cause with one of the most hideously backward and anti-worker regimes on the face of the planet merely in order to “buttress” a political attack against the USA’s human rights record is absurd.  It is a fine example of how once a “revolutionary socialist” leadership abandons the fundamental principles of revolutionary Marxist/Leninist/Trotskyist internationalism in favor of the utopian programme of “building socialism in one country” their ability to even distinguish friend from foe is completely lost.

While we do not agree with the Stalinist politics of the North Korean DPRK leadership, which long ago abandoned the fundamental tenets of Marxism/Leninism by repudiating the idea of building  revolutionary socialist political parties around the world dedicated to the global overthrow of the capitalist system in favor the utopian idea of building socialism in half a country, we defend the Stalinized North Korean workers state – despite its obvious and major flaws – as an important and historic conquest of the workers of Korea and of the world.  As Trotsky pointed out: if revolutionary socialist and anarchist workers refuse to defend existing victories of the working class they will never be able to conquer new ones.  Heroic North Korea stands today as the last nation in the world where the capitalist classes have been completely kicked out and are unable to exploit a single North Korean worker!  This is precisely why the United States and its capitalist allies in the UN hate North Korea and want to see it destroyed.  We desire to help build the political leadership necessary to launch a Trotskyist workers socialist political revolution inside the DPRK to replace the hereditary Kim Il Sungist/Stalinist bureaucracy with a true proletarian democracy that fights to defend socialism in North Korea, while simultaneously fighting against capitalist restoration in all the other Maoist/Stalinist degenerated workers states, from China to Cuba.

There has historically always been a strong internationalist current in the Korean communist movement, which was fully expressed by the heroic exiled Korean communist worker-leaders of the 1930s who provided crucial leadership for the Chinese working class in the workers movement of China back when Korea was occupied by the Japanese.  Today as the disgusting fake-communist Chinese “Communist Party” leadership slowly restores capitalism to China, stuffing its leaders’ pockets with money and sending the children of the fake-Communist Party leaders to study capitalist business practices in places like Harvard Business School, they stoop so low as to threaten to refuse to defend their brave sisters and brothers in North Korea from US attacks!  Overthrowing what is left of the gains of the Chinese Revolution is the Number One priority of US imperialism; the US seeks to split China away from North Korea by bribing the top Chinese “Communist Party” leaders with cold, hard cash.  The workers of China must oust the betrayers in the fake-“Chinese Communist Party” leadership and replace these cat’s paws of world capitalism with a revolutionary socialist leadership dedicated to defending and extending the historic gains of the Chinese workers and peasants socialist revolution! The restoration of capitalism in China – like the restoration of capitalism in the countries of the former USSR – will be a huge disaster for the workers and peasants of China and of the whole world! The capitalist world has barely recovered from its last great global crisis and is now staggering towards its next great economic collapse.  There is no future for the workers of the world under capitalism other than a future of endless wars, more poverty and more environmental and human degradation!  Every TRUE communist knows this fact down to the marrow of their bones!  A “communist party” that seeks “peaceful coexistence” with a capitalist world that must overthrow every gain of the working class in order to survive is not a “communist party” at all but is in fact a nest of conspiring counterrevolutionaries poised to betray the working class in exchange for the biggest bribes they can get from the capitalists!  The pro-capitalist leadership of the Chinese “Communist Party” must be arrested and thrown in jail – overthrown – by the workers of China in a pro-socialist Trotskyist political revolution before those fake-Communists sell China to the highest bidder!  China must DEFEND THE DPRK FROM EVERY ATTACK LAUNCHED AGAINST IT BY US IMPERIALISM!  The US and its capitalist allies are not potential “friends” of the Chinese working class but are their mortal enemies and future hangmen!

Likewise, we call for the DPRK to return to the road of Lenin and Trotsky and away from the death trap of the counterrevolutionary Stalinist and Maoist programme of abandoning internationalist Marxism in favor of building socialism in one country.  The Korean workers revolution led by the great revolutionary leader Kim Il-Sung has sacrificed to much in the cause of the workers and peasants of the world to be sqandered away by the politically disoriented Stalinist epigones of the “Juche Idea” – which is nothing but a Korean version of the counterrevolutionary Stalinist doctrine of “building socialism in one country” that led directly to the Stalinists’ betrayal of the workers of the USSR. DPRK workers: return to the road of revolutionary Marxist/Leninist/Trotskyist internationalism!

The workers of the US and the entire capitalist world must defend our sister and brother workers in North Korea from the continuous death threats issued by US imperialism and its UN/EU/NATO allies.  US: Hands Off North Korea and China!  US OUT OF THE KOREAN PENINSULA NOW!

-IWPCHI

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True Colors of U.S. as World’s Worst Human Rights Abuser

Pyongyang, February 28 (KCNA) — The U.S. has come under fire by the international community for its human rights abuses revealed one after another.
Quoting the results of the recent survey made by Polaris, the national human traffic survey institution, UPI disclosed that the flesh traffic increased 35.7 percent in the U.S. last year over that in the previous year.
It said that more than 7 572 cases of flesh traffic were reported in California, Texas, Florida, etc., terming them “a form of modern-day slave system.”
Seyed Ali Khamenei, leader of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, referred to the fact that a five-year-old boy was detained with his hands manacled in the U.S. some time ago, saying that this shows the present “human rights situation in the U.S.”
All facts go to clearly show before the world once again the true colors of the U.S. as the worst human rights abuser.
Last year the U.S. released a “report on world’s human traffic in 2016” in which it slandered 188 countries and regions, blaming them for failing to combat flesh traffic. Not content with this, the U.S. went the lengths of mapping out a list of such countries.
There is no such country as the U.S. where human existence and security are not guaranteed and even the elementary rights of human beings are being violated blatantly.
The U.S. is a cesspool of crimes and a veritable hell where grisly human rights abuses and bloody man-killing are rampant. It came into being through bloody man-killing and exists by dint of human rights abuses.
It has a history of the most cursed and disgraceful flesh traffic in the world.
Its history began with black slave trade and is still known as the world’s worst country in flesh traffic. 100 000 to 500 000 fall victim to the flesh traffic for slave labor every year and 100 000 children are forced into prostitution annually.
The U.S. is only the country where children without their protectors are thrown behind bars for an indefinite period. About 70 000 children met such fate in 2014 only.
It is shameless for such country to talk about international law and standards and pull up most of the countries in the world over their “human rights situation.”
The U.S. is loudmouthed about “defence of human rights” and “equality for all” world-wide but it can never cover up its true colors as the world’s worst human rights abuser.
The U.S. “human rights” campaign will never work on any country. -0-

100th Anniversary of the Russian Revolution: Voices of the Revolution – March, 1917

Selections from the excellent book “Voices of Revolution” by Mark D. Steinberg, Translated by Marian Schwartz; Yale University Press, 2001

Edited by IWPCHI

We present these selections from the massive outpouring of appeals, declarations, poems, essays and songs written by Russian people from all walks of life in response to the long-awaited overthrow of the hated Tzarist regime. These are representative of the political level of the Russian working class, peasantry and soldiery in the days immediately after the February revolution. – IWPCHI

Historical period: March, 1917

[The following poem was written by Mikhail Serafimovich, a private in the Reserve Cavalry]

I most humbly ask the gentlemen editors if you might not find a way to put the verse copied out below in your newspaper.

“Long live free Russia.”

The joyous cry floods my soul—-

“Long live our freedom,”

The red flag stills my heart.

A leaden weight has fallen,

The world dreams a shining dream…

I’m young again, my body drunk,

My soul replete with feelings.

With feelings as vast and endless

As drops in the cup of the sea.

*******************

The Russian National Hymn

(to the tune of “How Glorious Is Our Lord in Zion”)

Blessed is the Father of all

The God of Gods inscrutable!

Who creates from nothing, from mortal life,

Joyous souls immutable.

Blessed too are all the nations

And every living creature,

Wondrous nature’s emanations,

And matter inanimate of feature.

[…]

Blessed is our Holy Rus—-

Our family of nations, tribes,

Our homeland with its bounds unloosed,

Its freedom and its law prescribed.

Blessed is the new republic

Of our cherished nation’s power,

With a leader now elected

By this huge dear land of ours.

[…]

[Signed]

Muzhik Mikula

March 1917

**************************

“To the Fallen Freedom Fighters” by metalworker Demian Semyonov

To the Fallen Freedom Fighters

Memory eternal to all who have fought.

For freedom through great tribulation!

The blood they sacrificed has bought

This sacred freedom for our nation.

Much they suffered, their needs subdued,

Awaiting the dawn with freedom’s hope …

For naught their pleas and howls flew

To the ear of the tyrant, to the Tsar’s own throne

[…]

Our pleas for bread they would not abide,

and instead of bread sent bayonets, lead!

In sacrifice too many comrades died …

But they tore the crown from the despot’s head.

In our hour of trial, you did not despair,

You sallied forth with naked chest…

May the earth be a bed as soft as air!

[…]

Please put the attached poem in the newspaper.

D. Semyonov

At your service

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[Note: The Tzarist government, in its dying days, attempted to excuse its own vast incompetence and inability to provide the soldiers at the front with even basic supplies, from boots to bullets, by blaming the shortages on the long-suffering armament factory workers who had gone on strike for higher wages

in order to feed themselves and their families. By doing this they tried to get the soldiers to attack the rebellious workers instead of the government that was actually responsible for the shortages. The workers in the factories vigorously denounced this attempt and sought successfully to appeal directly to the soldiers themselves in explaining what was really going on. – IWPCHI]

“Appeal to soldiers from the workers of the A. M. Ouf machine, metal and engineering factories, Petrograd (28-29 March, 1917)”

“We, the workers of the Ouf factory, in a gathering of eight hundred people, loudly protest the disgraceful and insolent agitation aimed at us, the workers, by dark and ignorant persons. We declare that we and the soldiers have common interests; there are no enemies among us, for we are all the working class. This lie is coming not from our camp, for it is bubbling up in an underhanded way, from underground, fearful of just retribution.

Comrade soldiers! The slander that is coming out of our enemies’ camp must be stopped immediately. We must declare that workers and soldiers are one and that we will not allow our enemies to sow enmity between us. […] We declare that our comrade soldiers and we workers shall henceforth fight for our interests— the interests of the working people. And to our enemies, who are attempting to divide us, we loudly declare, “No! Stand back! For you are our enslavers, for you are living off our labor, you are breathing through us, and it’s you who depend on us, not we on you.”

[…]

In their speeches in response, the soldiers’ representatives assured the workers that the army does not believe the foul slander of the bourgeois press and that the soldiers know the secret purpose of this slander— to make the workers and the soldiers quarrel […]

100th Anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 – As it Happened: Lenin and Trotsky Respond to News of February 1917 Revolution and Abdication of the Tzar

Wikipedia caption:  “A demonstration of workers from the Putilov plant in Petrograd (modern-day St. Petersburg), Russia, during the February Revolution. The left banner reads (misspelt*) “Feed the children of the defenders of the motherland”; the right banner, “Increase payments to the soldiers’ families – defenders of freedom and world peace”.  Both refer to the economic toll the First World War was having on civilian life.  Unknown [photographer] – State museum of political history of Russia. 1 February 1917″

Inspired by the “Disunion” series produced by the New York Times to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the US Civil War, we are going to attempt to publish a daily account of the historic events that led up to the first successful workers revolution in world history – the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution in Russia – in the words of its principal leaders and the shocked and terrified capitalist classes of the world and their respective bourgeois presses.

There were in fact not one but two revolutions that took place in Russia in 1917: the first one, in February, brought to power a bourgeois government made up chiefly of wealthy landlords and aristocrats who had prospered under Tzarism.  [When the February revolution occurred, many of those who would become the top leaders of the Bolshevik Revolution were in exile: as you will see from the documents reproduced below, Lenin was in Zurich, Switzerland and Trotsky was in New York City (they immediately made plans to return to Russia)].  The second, Bolshevik revolution of October 1917 overthrew that government and replaced it with a workers and peasants’ government based on elected workers, soldiers and peasants’ “soviets” (councils) led by that time largely by the Bolsheviks and supported by all the other revolutionary socialist, anarchist and leftist peasant-based parties and groups.

There has never been a party of honest and courageous revolutionary leaders so universally vilified and slandered as the leaders of the Bolshevik party were (and are to this day!) by the capitalists of the world and their paid liars in their bourgeois press.  Workers who have been taught to hate the Bolsheviks should carefully read these documents written by the great Bolshevik leaders and examine them for any traces of duplicity or double-dealing behind the backs of the workers and peasants of Russia.  Good luck finding any!  There has never been a political party in the history of the world more honest and transparent than Lenin’s Bolshevik Party of 1917! And you will undoubtedly be surprised to read Lenin’s repeated statements urging the immediate “arming of the workers” to defend the Revolution from those who wanted to restore the Tzar to his throne!

Led chiefly by Lenin and, later on, Leon Trotsky and a brilliant team of lifelong revolutionary socialists (almost all of whom had “graduated” from more or less lengthy terms of imprisonment in the brutal jails and Siberian prison camps of the universally despised Tzarist regime) the Bolsheviks fought against a rip tide of slander and calumny from their political opponents inside Russia and throughout the world. The trials that the Bolsheviks went through from April to November of 1917 would have utterly destroyed an organization that was not as battle-hardened and politically brilliant as were Lenin’s Bolsheviks.  Through the tumultuous spring and summer of 1917 the Bolsheviks went from being heroes to having their party members beaten to death in the streets to winning over the workers and soldiers exhausted by the brutal role they were forced to play in WWI as cannon fodder for the Germans on the Eastern Front – to victory in the October Revolution.  It is one of the most amazing stories in the history of the world and one that every revolutionary worker should take the time to study again and again to prepare herself for the many traps and subterfuges used by the various parties that pretend to fight for the workers but who ultimately prove to be the most ardent defenders of the capitalist system in the final analysis.

Workers in the USA have been taught from birth to hate the “commies” and especially the Russian communist leaders; Lenin being falsely portrayed as the founding father of loathsome Stalinism – which he most certainly was not!  In fact, Lenin was quite possibly the most honest and trustworthy leader that the working class ever had.  His mantra was the same as that of Marx, Engels and entirely within the best traditions of the workers’ movement from its earliest days: to tell the truth to the workers and peasants, no matter how unpleasant it may be.  Far from working hand-in-hand with Stalin, Lenin had decided to initiate a vigorous struggle against Stalin and his growing arrogant bureaucracy in the months before his death.  This struggle was continued by Trotsky after Lenin’s untimely death; and that struggle involved a huge section of the Communist Party of the USSR known as the “Left Opposition” and was not defeated by the Stalinists until the 1930s – after the Stalinists had murdered almost to the last man and woman everyone who had led the Bolshevik Party to victory in 1917 as well as all of the leading ‘left Oppositionists” – including the man who originated our political movement, Leon Trotsky, murdered by a Stalinist assassin in Mexico in 1940.  It is not for nothing that those of us in the Trotskyist movement call Stalin and his vicious bureaucratic clique “the gravediggers of the Revolution”.

Stalin organized the show trials and ordered the murders of most of the leaders of the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. Source: Marxists Internet Archive

We’re going to start our series just before the legendary wartime rail journey made across a bleeding Europe by the Bolshevik leaders-in-exile who were given safe passage by the Germans in a “sealed train” in the desperate hopes of the German staff that these anti-Tsarist revolutionaries would pull Russia out of the war, enabling the Germans to transfer thousands of troops from the Eastern to the Western front.  They got their wish – but the victory of the Bolsheviks led not to a German victory in WWI but directly to the collapse of the German monarchy and the initiation of the first in a long series of attempts at workers revolution in Germany the very next year – the heroic Spartacist Uprising, ruthlessly suppressed by the German Social Democrats (SPD).

The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989 was a tremendous defeat for the working class not just in the USSR but internationally; it set the stage for the precipitous collapse of workers’ living standards inside the former Soviet Union and gave the green light to a resurgent US imperialism to launch their ill-fated wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and throughout the Middle East.  We seek to build a revolutionary socialist workers party that learns the lessons of 1917 as well as the brutal and tragic rise and collapse of Stalinism from 1927-1989 as we try to prevent WWIII through workers socialist revolution in the USA and around the world.  Long Live the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917!

We hope you enjoy this series and we welcome your comments and any supplementary material you would like to send to us to publish along with it.

— IWPCHI

[Note: Until the Bolsheviks took power in 1917, Russia and other countries where the Orthodox Church was the “official” church used an “old style” Julian calendar that was 13 days out of sync with the “new style” European calendar.  Dates given in these articles will show first the original “old style” date and then the “new style” date in parentheses.  Thus the Russian “October Revolution” of 25 October 1917 (old style) took place for most of the world on 7 November 1917 (new style). In this document, note that Lenin, writing from exile in Switzerland uses the “new style” calendar dates. – IWPCHI]

***********************************************

Lenin and Trotsky respond to the news of the February 1917 Revolution and the Abdication of the Tsar:

Document 1:

V. I. Lenin
Draft Theses, March 4 (17), 1917[1]

Information reaching Zurich from Russia at this moment, March 17, 1917, is so scanty, and events in our country are developing so rapidly, that any judgement of the situation must of needs be very cautious.

Yesterday’s dispatches indicated that the tsar had already abdicated and that the new, Octobrist-Cadet government[2] had already made an agreement with other representatives of the Romanov dynasty. Today there are reports from England that the tsar has not yet abdicated, and that his whereabouts are unknown. This suggests that he is trying to put up resistance, organise a party, perhaps even an armed force, in an attempt to restore the monarchy. If he succeeds in fleeing from Russia or winning over part of the armed forces, the tsar might, to mislead the people, issue a manifesto announcing immediate conclusion of a separate peace with Germany!

That being the position, the proletariat’s task is a pretty complex one. There can be no doubt that it must organise itself in the most efficient way, rally all its forces, arm, strengthen and extend its alliance with all sections of the working masses of town and country in order to put up a stubborn resistance to tsarist reaction and crush the tsarist monarchy once and for all.

Another factor to bear in mind is that the new government that has seized power in St. Petersburg, or, more correctly, wrested it from the proletariat, which has waged a victorious, heroic and fierce struggle, consists of liberal bourgeois and landlords whose lead is being followed by Kerensky, the spokesman of the democratic peasants and, possibly, of that part of the workers who have forgotten their internationalism and have been led on to the bourgeois path. The new government is composed of avowed advocates and supporters of the imperialist war with Germany, i.e., a war in alliance with the English and French imperialist governments, a war for the plunder and conquest of foreign lands—Armenia, Galicia, Constantinople, etc. [See Note 3 at end of this first document – IWPCHI]

The new government cannot give the peoples of Russia (and the nations tied to us by the war) either peace, bread, or full freedom. The working class must therefore continue its fight for socialism and peace, utilising for this purpose the new situation and explaining it as widely as possible among the masses.

The new government cannot give the people peace, because it represents the capitalists and landlords and because it is tied to the English and French capitalists by treaties and financial commitments. Russian Social-Democracy must therefore, while remaining true to internationalism, first and foremost explain to the people who long for peace that it cannot be won under the present government. Its first appeal to the people (March 17) does not as much as mention the chief and basic issue of the time, peace. It is keeping secret the predatory treaties tsarism concluded with England, France, Italy, Japan, etc. It wants to conceal from the people the truth about its war programme, the fact that it stands for continuation of the war, for victory over Germany. It is not in a position to do what the people so vitally need: directly and frankly propose to all belligerent countries an immediate ceasefire, to be followed by peace based on complete liberation of all the colonies and dependent and unequal nations. That requires a workers’ government acting in alliance with, first, the poorest section of the rural population, and, second, the revolutionary workers of all countries in the war.

The new government cannot give the people bread. And no freedom can satisfy the masses suffering from hunger due to shortages and inefficient distribution of available stocks, and, most important, to the seizure of these stocks by the landlords and capitalists. It requires revolutionary measures against the landlords and capitalists to give the people bread, and such measures can be carried out only by a workers’ government.

Lastly, the new government is not, in a position to give the people full freedom, though in its March 17 manifesto it speaks of nothing but political freedom and is silent on other, no less important, issues. The new government has already endeavoured to reach agreement with the Romanov dynasty, for it has suggested recognising the Romanovs, in defiance of the people’s will, on the understanding that Nicholas II would abdicate in favour of his son, with a member of the Romanov family appointed regent. In its manifesto, the new government promises every kind of freedom, but has failed in its direct and unconditional duty immediately to implement such freedoms as election of officers, etc., by the soldiers, elections to the St. Petersburg, Moscow and other City Councils on a basis of genuinely universal, and not merely male, suffrage, make all government and public buildings available for public meetings, appoint elections to all local institutions and Zemstvos, likewise on the basis of genuinely universal suffrage, repeal all restrictions on the rights of local government bodies, dismiss all officials appointed to supervise local government bodies, introduce not only freedom of religion, but also freedom from religion, immediately separate the school from the church and free it of control by government officials, etc.

The new government’s March 17 manifesto arouses the deepest distrust, for it consists entirely of promises and does not provide for the immediate carrying out of a single one of the vital measures that can and should be carried out right now.

The new government’s programme does not contain a single word on the eight-hour day or on any other economic measure to improve the worker’s position. It contains not a single word about land for the peasants, about the uncompensated transfer to the peasants of all the estates. By its silence on these vital issues the new government reveals its capitalist and landlord nature.

Only a workers’ government that relies, first, on the overwhelming majority of the peasant population, the farm labourers and poor peasants, and, second, on an alliance with the revolutionary workers of all countries in the war, can give the people peace, bread and full freedom.

The revolutionary proletariat can therefore only regard the revolution of March 1 (14) as its initial, and by no means complete, victory on its momentous path. It cannot but set itself the task of continuing the fight for a democratic republic and socialism.

To do that, the proletariat and the R.S.D.L.P. must above all utilise the relative and partial freedom the new government is introducing, and which can be guaranteed and extended only by continued, persistent and persevering revolutionary struggle.

The truth about the present government and its real attitude on pressing issues must be made known to all working people in town and country, and also to the army. Soviets of Workers’ Deputies must be organised, the workers must be armed [emphasis added – IWPCHI]. Proletarian organisations must be extended to the army (which the new government has likewise promised political rights) and to the rural areas. In particular there must be a separate class organisation for farm labourers.

Only by making the truth known to the widest masses of the population, only by organising them, can we guarantee full victory in the next stage of the revolution and the winning of power by a workers’ government.

Fulfilment of this task, which in revolutionary times and under the impact of the severe lessons of the war can be brought home to the people in an immeasurably shorter time than under ordinary conditions, requires the revolutionary proletarian party to be ideologically and organisation ally independent. It must remain true to internationalism and not succumb to the false bourgeois phraseology meant to dupe the people by talk of “defending the fatherland” in the present imperialist and predatory war.

Not only this government, but even a democratic bourgeois republican government, were it to consist exclusively of Kerensky and other Narodnik and “Marxist” social-patriots, cannot lead the people out of the imperialist war and guarantee peace.

For that reason we cannot consent to any blocs, or alliances, or even agreements with the defencists among the workers, nor with the Gvozdyov-Potresov-Chkhenkeli Kerensky, etc., trend, nor with men who, like Chkheidze and others, have taken a vacillating and indefinite stand on this crucial issue. Those agreements would not only inject an element of falseness in the minds of the masses, making them dependent on the Russian imperialist bourgeoisie, but would also weaken and undermine the leading role of the proletariat in ridding the people of imperialist war and guaranteeing a genuinely durable peace between the workers’ governments of all countries.
Notes

[1] The first news of the February bourgeois-democratic revolution in Russia reached Lenin on March 2 (15), 1917. Reports of the victory of the revolution and the advent to power of an Octobrist-Cadet government of capitalists and landlords appeared in the Zürcher Post and Neue Zürcher Zeitung by the evening of March 4 (17). Lenin had drawn up a rough draft of theses, not meant for publication, on the tasks of the proletariat in the revolution. The theses were immediately sent via Stockholm to Oslo for the Bolsheviks leaving for Russia.

[2] Lenin uses the appellation Octobrist-Cadet to describe the bourgeois Provisional Government formed at 3 p.m. on March 2 (15), 1917 by agreement between the Provisional Committee of the State Duma and the Socialist-Revolutionary and Menshevik leaders of the Executive Committee of the Petrograd Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies. The government was made up of Prince G. Y. Lvov (Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior), the Cadet leader P. N. Milyukov (Minister of Foreign Affairs), the Octobrist leader A. I. Guchkov (Minister of War and Acting Minister of the Navy) and other representatives of the big bourgeoisie and landlords. It also included A. F. Kerensky, of the Trudovik group, who was appointed Minister of Justice.

The manifesto of March 4 (17) mentioned by Lenin later on was originally drawn up by Menshevik members of the Petrograd Soviet Executive Committee. It set out the terms on which the Executive was prepared to support the Provisional Government. In the course of negotiations with the Duma Committee, it was revised by P. N. Milyukov and became the basis of the Provisional Government’s first appeal to the people.

[3]  From Encyclopedia of Marxism: Glossary of Organisations https://www.marxists.org/glossary/orgs/p/r.htm#provisional-government

Provisional Committee

On February 27 (March 12), 1917, the Duma is called into session on the appeals of Councillor of State Rodzianko, who is desperately trying to save the Empire despite the extraordinary momentum of the February Revolution. At 4pm the Duma resolves to create the Provisional Committee of the State Duma. Its members are among the biggest landowners and most wealthy capitalists in Russia:

M.V. Rodzianko (Octobrist); V.V. Shulgin; V.N. Lvov; I.I. Dmitryukov (Octobrist); S.I. Shidlovsky (Octobrist); M.A. Karaulov; A.F. Kerensky (Labour Party); A.I. Konovalav (Progressive); V.A. Rzhevsky (Progressive); A.A. Bublikov (Progressive); P.N. Milyukov (Cadet); N.V. Nekrasov (Cadet); and N.S. Chkheidze (Menshevik).

The Committee discusses whether they should assume power over the country, filling up the vacuum caused by the revolution and the Tsar’s ineptitude. The Committee denies the move, and resolves that it must somehow save the Tsar. The Committee resolves that the only path towards this is to share power between Tsar and a new Prime Minister. [It was suggested to the Tzar that he should resign in favor of his son in order to give the new government a veneer of what to the new government appeared to be the necessary “legitimacy”! – IWPCHI] The despondent Tsar refused this offer. The Committee then asks his brother Mikhail to assume the throne, who also refuses.

On the following day, left without any other option, the Committee assumes power over the government. Along with the Petrograd Soviet, the Committee creates a new Provisional Government.

Provisional Government

Russian government established after the February Revolution of 1917 and lasting until the October Revolution of 1917.

The provisional government was born by decision of the Duma, which on the 27th of February, formed the Provisional Committee of Duma Members. The committee consisted of 12 members, chaired by Mikhail Rodzyanko (Octobrist), and was mostly made up of members of the Progressive Bloc, though it included two Socialists: Alexander Kerensky and Nikolai Chkheidze.

By March 1, the commandant of the Palace Guard at Tsarskoe Selo, and hundreds of high ranking officers announced their support for the provisional committee; the workers’ and soldiers’ revolution of February sent the monarchist officers a clear message: support for the Tsar would no longer be tolerated. The Provisional Committee attempted to gain legal legitimacy through the Tsar, but when Nicholas II refused, the committee assumed power.

Later in the day, the Committee asked the Ispolkom of the Petrograd Soviet for its support. The Ispolkom, without consulting the Soviet, presented an eight point programme, its conditions for support of the government:

1. Amnesty for all political prisoners
2. The right to speak, assemble, and strike
3. Equality for all nationalities, religions, and social origins.
4. Convocation of the Constituent Assembly
5. Police organs to be replaced by militia whose officers were elected
6. New elections to the soviets
7. Military units that participated in the Revolution not be sent to the front
8. Off duty-soldiers to receive temporary status as civilians

The programme was neither accepted nor declined, but ‘taken into consideration’; the Committee largely considering it consistent with their aims. A day after the Ispolkom presented it to the Provisional Committee, it asked the Petrograd Soviet to approve it, though the Soviet responded by pressing the demand that a “supervisory committee” be elected to serve as the correspondent to the Provisional Committee.

On March 2, 1917, the Provisional Committee became the Provisional Government. Pavel Milyukov picked the members of the new cabinet.

Chairman and Minister of the Interior: Prince G. E. Lvov
Minister of Foreign Affairs: P. N. Milyukov
Minister of Justice: A. F. Kerensky
Minister of Transport: N. V. Nekrasov
Minister of Posts and Telegraphs: I. G. Tsereteli
Minister of Trade: A. I. Konovalov
Minister of Public Education: A. A. Manuilov
Minister of War: A. I. Guchkov
Minister of Agriculture: A. I. Shingaryov
Minister of Treasury: M. I. Tereschenko
Minister of State Accounts: I. V. Godnev
Minister of Religion: V. N. Lvov

The Imperial family was arrested on the following day, March 3, 1917 […] The Ministers of the Provisional Government fled the country [after the Bolsheviks seized power in October], some of whom later assisted the United States, France, Britain, and Japan in the invasion of the R.S.F.S.R. during the Civil Wars of 1918-1922.

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Published: First published in 1924 in Lenin Miscellany II. Published according to the manuscript.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1964, Moscow, Volume 23, pages 287-291.
Translated: M. S. Levin, The Late Joe Fineberg and Others
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive 2002 (2005). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Source: “Marxists Internet Archive” at https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1917/mar/04.htm#fwV23E122

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Document 2:

Leon Trotsky
OUR REVOLUTION
Two Faces
(Internal Forces of the Russian Revolution)
(March 1917)

Published in New York on March 17, 1917

Let us examine more closely what is going on.

Nicholas has been dethroned, and according to some information, is under arrest. The most conspicuous Black Hundred leaders have been arrested. Some of the most hated have been killed. A new Ministry has been formed consisting of Octobrists, Liberals and the Radical Kerensky. A general amnesty has been proclaimed.

All these are facts, big facts. These are the facts that strike the outer world most. Changes in the higher government give the bourgeoisie of Europe and America an occasion to say that the revolution has won and is now completed.

The Tzar and his Black Hundred fought for their power, for this alone. The war, the imperialistic plans of the Russian bourgeoisie, the interests of the Allies, were of minor importance to the Tzar and his clique. They were ready at any moment to conclude peace with the Hohenzollerns and Hapsburgs, to free their most loyal regiment for war against their own people.

The Progressive Bloc of the Duma mistrusted the Tzar and his Ministers. This Bloc consisted of various parties of the Russian bourgeoisie. The Bloc had two aims: one, to conduct the war to a victorious end; another, to secure internal reforms: more order, control, accounting. A victory is necessary for the Russian bourgeoisie to conquer markets, to increase their territories, to get rich. Reforms are necessary primarily to enable the Russian bourgeoisie to win the war.

The progressive imperialistic Bloc wanted peaceful reforms. The liberals intended to exert a Duma pressure on the monarchy and to keep it in check with the aid of the governments of Great Britain and France. They did not want a revolution. They knew that a revolution, bringing the working masses to the front, would be a menace to their domination, and primarily a menace to their imperialistic plans. The laboring masses, in the cities and in the villages, and even in the army itself, want peace. The liberals know it. This is why they have been enemies of the revolution all these years. A few months ago Milyukov declared in the Duma: “If a revolution were necessary for victory, I would prefer no victory at all.”

Yet the liberals are now in power – through the Revolution. The bourgeois newspaper men see nothing but this fact. Milyukov, already in his capacity as a Minister of Foreign Affairs, has declared that the revolution has been conducted in the name of a victory over the enemy, and that the new government has taken upon itself to continue the war to a victorious end. The New York Stock Exchange interpreted the Revolution in this specific sense. There are clever people both on the Stock Exchange and among the bourgeois newspaper men. Yet they are all amazingly stupid when they come to deal with mass-movements. They think that Milyukov manages the revolution, in the same sense as they manage their banks or news offices. They see only the liberal governmental reflection of the unfolding events, they notice only the foam on the surface of the historical torrent.

The long pent-up dissatisfaction of the masses has burst forth so late, in the thirty-second month of the war, not because the masses were held by police barriers-those barriers had been badly shattered during the war – but because all liberal institutions and organs, together with their Social-Patriotic shadows, were exerting an enormous influence over the least enlightened elements of the workingmen, urging them to keep order and discipline in the name of “patriotism.” Hungry women were already walking out into the streets, and the workingmen were getting ready to uphold them by a general strike, while the liberal bourgeoisie, according to news reports, still issued proclamations and delivered speeches to check the movement, – resembling that famous heroine of Dickens who tried to stem the tide of the ocean with a broom.

The movement, however, took its course, from below, from the workingmen’s quarters. After hours and days of uncertainty, of shooting, of skirmishes, the army joined in the revolution, from below, from the best of the soldier masses. The old government was powerless, paralyzed, annihilated. The Tzar fled from the capital “to the front.” The Black Hundred bureaucrats crept, like cockroaches, each into his corner.

Then, and only then, came the Duma’s turn to act. The Tzar had attempted in the last minute to dissolve it. And the Duma would have obeyed, “following the example of former years,” had it been free to adjourn. The capitals, however, were already dominated by the revolutionary people, the same people that had walked out into the streets despite the wishes of the liberal bourgeoisie. The army was with the people. Had not the bourgeoisie attempted to organize its own government, a revolutionary government would have emerged from the revolutionary working masses. The Duma of June 3rd would never have dared to seize the power from the hands of Tzarism. But it did not want to miss the chance offered by interregnum: the monarchy had disappeared, while a revolutionary government was not yet formed. Contrary to all their part, contrary to their own policies and against their will, the liberals found themselves in possession of power.

Milyukov now declares Russia will continue the war “to the end.” It is not easy for him so to speak: he knows that his words are apt to arouse the indignation of the masses against the new government. Yet he had to speak them – for the sake of the London, Paris and – American Stock Exchanges. It is quite possible that he cabled his declaration for foreign consumption only, and that he concealed it from his own country.

Milyukov knows very well that under given conditions he cannot continue the war, crush Germany, dismember Austria, occupy Constantinople and Poland.

The masses have revolted, demanding bread and peace. The appearance of a few liberals at the head of the government has not fed the hungry, has not healed the wounds of the people. To satisfy the most urgent, the most acute needs of the people, peace must be restored. The liberal imperialistic Bloc does not dare to speak of peace. They do not do it, first, on account of the Allies. They do not do it, further, because the liberal bourgeoisie is to a great extent responsible before the people for the present war. The Milyukovs and Gutchkovs, not less than the Romanoff camarila, have thrown the country into this monstrous imperialistic adventure. To stop the war, to return to the ante-bellum misery would mean that they have to account to the people for this undertaking. The Milyukovs and Gutchkovs are afraid of the liquidation of the war not less than they were afraid of the Revolution.

This is their aspect in their new capacity, as the government of Russia. They are compelled to continue the war, and they can have no hope of victory; they are afraid of the people, and people do not trust them.

This is how Karl Marx characterized similar situation:

“From the very beginning ready to betray the people and to compromise with the crowned representatives of the old regime, because the bourgeoisie itself belongs to the old world; keeping a place at the steering wheel of the revolution not because the people were back of them, but because the people pushed them forward; … having no faith in themselves, no faith in the people; grumbling against those above, trembling before those below; selfish towards both fronts and aware of their selfishness; revolutionary in the face of conservatives, and conservative in the face of revolutionists, with no confidence in their own slogans and with phrases instead of ideas; frightened by the world’s storm and exploiting the world’s storm, – vulgar through lack of originality, and original only in vulgarity; making profitable business out of their own desires, with no initiative, with no vocation for world-wide historic work … a cursed senile creature condemned to direct and abuse in his own senile interests the first youthful movements of a powerful people, – a creature with no eyes, with no ears, with no teeth, with nothing whatever, – this is how the Prussian bourgeoisie stood at the steering wheel of the Prussian state after the March revolution.”

These words of the great master give a perfect picture of the Russian liberal bourgeoisie, as it stands at the steering wheel of the government after our March revolution. “With no faith in themselves, with no faith in the people, with no eyes, with no teeth.” … This is their political face.

Luckily for Russia and Europe, there is another face to the Russian Revolution, a genuine face; the cables have brought the news that the Provisional Government is opposed by a Workmen’s Committee which has already raised a voice of protest against the liberal attempt to rob the Revolution and to deliver the people to the monarchy.

Should the Russian Revolution stop to-day as the representatives of liberalism advocate, to-morrow the reaction of the Tzar, the nobility and the bureaucracy would gather power and drive Milyukov and Gutchkov from their insecure ministerial trenches, as did the Prussian reaction years ago with the representatives of Prussian liberalism. But the Russian Revolution will not stop. Time will come, and the Revolution will make a clean sweep of the bourgeois liberals blocking its way, as it is now making a clean sweep of the Tzarism reaction.

Source: Marxists Internet Archive at https://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1918/ourrevo/ch09.htm

CIA’s Outsourcing of Torture: Mitchell, Jessen and Associates and the Murder of Gul Rahman

cia-timeline-of-the-day-gul-rahman-was-murdered-at-a-cia-black-site-prison

We present to our readers a selection of recently released CIA documents relating to the CIA’s outsourcing of torture to a private consulting firm, Mitchell, Jessen and Associates.  The documents were apparently obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) through a Freedom of Information Act request to the CIA.  The full set of 764 pages was uploaded to the “DocumentCloud” website by Charles Savage of the New York Times on 19 January 2017.  This original full set of documents can be obtained from our own website here:  cia-documents-from-aclu

Our selection featured here is

cias-outsourcing-of-torture_-mitchell-jessen-and-assoc_and-killing-of-gul-rahman_from-764pg-aclu-foia-docs

This 20-page document describes the CIA’s outsourcing of torture initially to a pair of US psychologists: James Elmer Mitchell  and  John “Bruce” Jessen.  This dynamic duo later formed a partnership –  the consulting firm of Mitchell, Jessen and Associates.

SERE training camp at Fort Bragg. Captain Michael Kearns, Psychologist Bruce Jessen (right). SOURCE: Michael Kearns, Truthout.org, via Wikipedia

SERE training camp at Fort Bragg. Captain Michael Kearns, Psychologist Bruce Jessen (right). SOURCE: Michael Kearns, Truthout.org, via Wikipedia

According to the financial statements given by the CIA in the ACLU document trove, between 2001 and 2009, Mitchell and Jessen were paid $74,633,075.75 to teach “enhanced interrogation” methods to CIA operatives as well as, apparently guards and officers from the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.  Mitchell and Associates had, at the time these documents were created, approximately 80 employees all “certified” to provide “expert” torture-enhanced interrogations as well as torture consulting services to the US military and the CIA.

Jessen was involved in the design and execution of the interrogation plan used against suspected  Hezb-i-Islami Gulbuddin operative Gul Rahman.   Hezb-i-Islami Gulbuddin is named after its leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a deranged Islamic fundamentalist once the darling of the US Government back when he was fighting the USSR-backed moderate Afghan Government in the late 1970s and early ’80s.  Once the Stalinist misleaders of the USSR pulled out of Afghanistan in an attempt to placate an increasingly belligerent US capitalist class, Hekmatyar began to turn on his erstwhile allies in the US.  The US policy of financing the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in order to use it as a battering ram against Soviet Central Asia and western China was a short-term solution that has turned into a long-term disaster for the US and especially for the women workers of the Near and Middle East.  The chickens came home to roost on 9/11 as another darling of Reagan-era anti-Sovietism, Osama Bin Laden, launched the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Our party is inspired by the work of the International Communist League/Spartacist League whose brilliant analysis and defense of of the Soviet Union’s intervention in Afghanistan stands as one of the greatest political achievements of the Trotskyist movement in history.  When the Sparts said “Hail Red Army in Afghanistan” in defense of the reformist pro-Soviet government that was trying to bring Afghanistan into the 20th century by fighting to end such horrors of Afghan tribal society as the buying and selling of brides and horrific enslavement of women, the entire reformist left howled in unison with the US and world imperialism, which backed the Afghan mullahs like Hekmatyar and Bin Laden.  We urge our readers to check out these brilliant writings of the Spartacist League/ICL on Afghanistan from 1979-80:17 November 1978. Sparts demonstrate what Trotskyist leadership is all about with crystal-clear analysis of Iranian Islamic counter-revolution.

https://www.marxists.org/history/etol/newspape/workersvanguard/1978/0219_17_11_1978.pdf

Trotskyists principled internationalist Leninist defense of USSR intervention in Afghanistan.

Trotskyists of Spartacist League/ICL’s principled internationalist defense of USSR and its intervention in Afghanistan, Winter 1979-80.

 

https://www.marxists.org/history/etol/newspape/spartacist-us/1972-1980/0027-0028_Winter_1979-80.pdf

Though there have been calls from several quarters to have these “war on terror” criminals brought to justice, as of this writing they are walking the streets as free men, enjoying the fruits of their labor in the service of the US capitalist class.  On 13 October 2015, the ACLU filed this lawsuit on behalf of the estate of Gul Rahman against Mitchell and Jessen:  salim_v-_mitchell_-_complaint_10-13-15

With bipartisan support among Democrats and Republicans for the aims and methods of the US “War on Terror” (which has claimed the lives of tens of thousands of people) and a long-standing refusal of either party to bring anyone involved in the CIA torture program up on criminal charges, it seems to us highly unlikely that Mitchell or Jessen – or any of their many US government collaborators – will see the inside of a well-deserved prison cell anytime soon.

The only way that the war criminals in the service of the US capitalist class will ever see justice is if the US working class overthrows this bloodthirsty ruling class and takes power into the workers’ own hands.  This will require a socialist revolution led by a Trotskyist vanguard party that creates an egalitarian socialist workers republic which will see to it that these criminals are brought face to face with a jury of their victims.  Donald Trump – a full-fledged representative of the venal, greed-mad US capitalist class, has repeatedly announced to the world his fondness for torture – a sentiment that would have shocked the “Founding Fathers” of the United States, whose bourgeois-revolutionary founding documents officially denounced “cruel and unusual punishments” like torture as a hideous relic of medieval barbarism and sought to end its practice for all time.  It is a sign of the depth of the degeneracy of the 21st-century heirs of Washington and Jefferson that the topmost representative of their class now threatens to “make torture great again”.

For decades the Trotskyists have warned the workers that if the working classes of the world do not organize themselves and overthrow the capitalist system, the result will be a descent into a barbarism even worse than that created by the world’s capitalist classes in World Wars I and II.  The time for the working class to organize for this final struggle against the last class of exploiters is getting short.  We must build revolutionary socialist workers parties NOW and put an end to the savagery of the capitalist system before it plunges the planet into a nuclear World War III in which the world – and for the first time the continental US – will see total destruction of its major cities and of hundreds of millions of workers.  This does not have to happen!

Workers of the World Unite!  Capitalism must die so that the working class may live!

IWPCHI