Category Archives: Political Science

“Speaking Truth To Power”: Why It Sucks as a Political Program

In this essay we will attempt to explain why the working class needs to have its own, independent, revolutionary socialist workers party, by comparing what we would have if we had our own workers party as opposed to what we have if we just “speak truth to power”.

We don’t like to “talk down” to people.  We ourselves are not so “high up” that we could “talk down” to people even if we wanted to!  But we have to face the reality that the US working class is by far the most backward working class in the industrialized world, politically.  The US is the only major industrialized nation that does not have a mass “socialist” or “communist” party.  This means that the US working class has never risen to the level of complete working-class-consciousness; it has been stuck at the “trade-union-consciousness” stage of development since the early 1900s.  The main reason for this is that the workers of the USA have been brainwashed by the capitalist class and their bought-and-paid-for servants in the Democratic Party and in the trade unions to believe that “socialism is bad” and “capitalism is good” – and that the class interests of workers and capitalists are one and the same!  This widely-held belief among US workers  in the identity of interests of capitalists and workers would make workers in every other industrialized country – and many so-called “third world” countries – shake their heads in disbelief.   This decades-long brainwashing of the working class has made it impossible for even intelligent people like Edward Snowden to simply  tell the difference between a communist and a fascist!

Brilliant whistleblower Edward Snowden displays the typical crippled political consciousness of the working class in the USA.

If Edward Snowden can’t tell the difference between Mao – a lifelong member of the Communist Party – and Hitler – who was never a member of any socialist organization ever and who incinerated tens of thousands of communists and socialists in his death camps (and Snowden’s a relatively educated US worker) you get a good basic idea of just how ignorant US workers are when it comes to politics.  This state of political ignorance among the US working class bore its most malignant fruit ever when the workers of the USA voted for a worker-hating billionaire for President – thinking that, somehow, a disgusting greedhead racist pig like Donald Trump would fight for the rights of workers! But that is getting off the track of our basic lesson plan on PoliSci101 as taught by a revolutionary worker!  Our subject today is not Donald Trump but one of the big political swindles going on in the so-called workers movement of the US, namely the “need” to “speak truth to power”.  What in hell does this political phrase “Speak Truth To Power” really mean?  And if it seems to you like we are “talking down” to you maybe it only seems that way because you, worker of the USA, have a vastly exaggerated sense of your own political wisdom, which, in fact, you do not possess AT ALL!  This is why you keep on voting this year for the Democrats and next year for the Republicans and still can’t understand why your lives aren’t getting better.    So please read on and see if you learn something.

“Speaking Truth to Power!” Sounds good, doesn’t it? Or maybe it should be like this: “SPEAKING TRUTH TO POWER!” Even better, right? It’s like a demand now. Or how about: “SPEAKING TRUTH TO POWER!”. Now THAT is a revolutionary slogan! But let’s go all out and say we are “SPEAKING TRUTH TO POWER!” Take THAT, “powers that be”!

No matter how you write it; no matter how you say it, it means just one thing: “we accept the status quo; we know that there is a power up there somewhere and it is often against us; but if we just let those rightful “powers that be” hear our demands, they will become afraid of us and will do what we demand of them.”

As revolutionary Trotskyists, we study political speech scientifically. Everyone knows that all words have specific meanings; and that political words have special political meanings. But what most workers are only dimly aware of is that when political words are combined into political phrases by the enemies of the working class, those meanings are distorted, falsified and turned into lies. A clever phrase like “speak truth to power” is made to sound militant and revolutionary when in fact it is servile and cowardly – anything but revolutionary. Yet so-called “revolutionaries” seem to *love* the phrase “speak truth to power”. This is just one of the signs that they are fake-revolutionaries.

When political words are combined into phrases their meanings become (usually) more complex. It is our job as Trotskyist political scientists to deconstruct these slippery phrases used by fake-revolutionaries and other defenders of the capitalist system and to clearly show to the working class how these clever phrases are used to rip the working class off. And today’s lesson will show that the seemingly radical and revolutionary phrase “speak truth to power” contains a complete reformist political program that completely disarms the working class politically and hands it over to its mortal enemy, the capitalist class, bound and gagged!

So let’s analyze this political formula: “speak” “truth” “to” “power”. Break it down into its component parts. “Speak”: means of course to address something to someone else. We speak to communicate ideas. That part is straightforward.

The next word describes what we should say: “truth”. The working class is basically honest; when it addresses individuals or groups of individuals we as workers like to have the truth on our side and we also like our leaders to speak the truth to us and to whomever we ask them to address on our behalf. “Speak truth”. Very nice, nothing to oppose there. So far this phrase seems to be OK. And so is “Speak truth to”. Obviously if we are going to speak truth we must speak it to… someone.

“Speak truth” to whom? To whom will we address our speech? To “power”. What is “power”? Obviously, if we are going to “speak truth to” power, then “power must be a thing, some kind of material entity. You do not “speak truth to” the dog or to the birds in the trees, or to the sky; you speak truth to a person or persons. So this word “power” must be a noun, correct? Who constitutes this “power” we wish to address?

The Merriam-Webster English dictionary defines the word “power” in this way:

1 power

noun, often attributive pow·er \ˈpau̇(-ə)r\

1. a : (1) ability to act or produce an effect (2) : ability to get extra-base hits (3) : capacity for being acted upon or undergoing an effect
b: legal or official authority, capacity, or right
2. a : possession of control, authority, or influence over others b : one having such power; specifically a sovereign state c : a controlling group; establishment —often used in the phrase the powers that be
d archaic: a force of armed men; e: chiefly dialectal; a large number or quantity
3. a : physical might b : mental or moral efficacy c : political control or influence
4. powers plural : an order of angels — see celestial hierarchy
5. a : the number of times as indicated by an exponent that a number occurs as a factor in a product 5 to the third power is 125; also : the product itself 8 is a power of 2 b : cardinal number 2
6. a : a source or means of supplying energy; especially : electricity b : motive power c : the time rate at which work is done or energy emitted or transferred
7 : magnification
8. scope
9 : the probability of rejecting the null hypothesis in a statistical test when a particular alternative hypothesis happens to be true
Source: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/power

Looking at this list of the many definitions of the word “power”, we see that we can immediately eliminate several of these: 1a; 2a and e; 3; and the mathematical and parametrical references of 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9. That leaves us with these:

1. b: legal or official authority, capacity, or right
2. b : one having such power [over others – refers to definition 2a – IWPCHI]; specifically a sovereign state c : a controlling group; establishment —often used in the phrase the powers that be
d archaic: a force of armed men
Now in the case of “speaking truth to power” as it relates to the “archaic” definition of “a force of armed men”; it is interesting that in the dictionaries of the capitalist period this is considered to be no longer valid. But of course the “forces of armed men” are not the “power” we are addressing when we use the phrase “speaking truth to power”. Everyone knows that the police are the armed fist of “power” but not “power” itself. The police are merely the pawns of those “in power” and are ordered to do their dirty work by “power”.
That leaves us with “legal or official authority”; “one having such power over others”; a “controlling group or establishment”. This must be the “power” we are “speaking truth to”.
The first thing that strikes a revolutionary Trotskyist when analyzing this term “power” as it applies to the “establishment” that runs the city, state or nation is that it is a very vague term that does not correctly describe the true nature of this “power”. As revolutionary Marxists, we understand that the real “power” in any capitalist country like the United States is held in the hands of the “capitalist class”. So why, we ask, did the people who came up with the phrase “speak truth to power” deliberately choose the vague term “power” instead of the more scientifically precise and correct term “capitalist class”?
The reason is simple: they do not want to use the more precise and scientific term because if they did then they would be revealed to be revolutionary Marxists and not the simple reformists that they actually are. If you use the precise, scientific Marxist language, you will be labeled by the “powerful” capitalist class as a “commie”; and the reformists who created this wonderfully vague demand to “speak truth to power” DON’T WANT THEIR CAPITALIST MASTERS TO MISIDENTIFY THEM AS MARXIST REVOLUTIONARIES! At the same time these reformists wish to trick YOU the workers into believing that they are “radical” and adventurous by “SPEAKING TRUTH TO POWER!”
Let’s look a bit closer at this tricky bit of verbal posturing encompassed by the seemingly innocuous phrase “speak truth to power”, designed to make the reformist mice look like LIONS to the uninitiated (though at the same time providing a wink and a nod to the “powerful” that says “don’t worry, we’re not going to go beyond merely “speaking truth to power!”).
Every revolutionary Trotskyist “speaks truth” to every worker she or he talks to; it is our tradition, it is our job, it is our promise to you and it has always been the #1 rule of revolutionary Marxism: to never lie to the working class. But to “power”? Well, there are certainly times when it is NOT wise to “speak truth to power”; like when you are organizing a union in a non-union shop; or when a capitalist asks you how you like working for his company.
Only cowering slaves take the position that they must always “speak truth to power”. They rat out their fellow workers in order to ingratiate themselves with the capitalists. They always tend to lie to their fellow workers and to tell the truth as they understand it to their masters.
So why do the reformists try to inculcate in the minds of the working class that they must always “SPEAK TRUTH TO POWER”? Whose side are they on: the side of the workers or the side of the capitalists?
But isn’t it OK in a demonstration, say, in Washington, D.C. to come right out and make our demands, to honestly and openly address our grievances to “the powers that be”? Of course it is. BUT FOR REVOLUTIONARY TROTSKYISTS, “SPEAKING TRUTH TO POWER” IS NOT AN END IN ITSELF! We don’t just “speak truth to power” and then go home, grinning like idiots because “we really told them off this time, didn’t we”? IF ALL WE DO IS “SPEAK TRUTH TO POWER” WE HAVEN’T DONE A DAMNED THING AT ALL! We are still “power”-less workers who have merely addressed our pitiful grievances to “the powers that be” (who, in the case of the vast majority of mass demonstrations in Washington, D.C. make certain to leave town well in advance of the Big Demo)! If all we do is “SPEAK TRUTH TO POWER!” … and then the “power” tells us to go fuck ourselves…? What do we do when this “power” answers our honest appeal with rubber bullets, tear gas and even live ammunition? Do we keep on crawling and begging the “legitimate powers that be” to accept our humble petitions like the peasants did in Tsarist Russia, crawling on their knees to the Tsar’s palaces to present their petitions, hats-in-hands – only to be shot down like dogs by the Tsarist military? Are we workers today more or less cowardly than our peasant ancestors?
As for the reformists like Cornel West and Bernie Sanders who love to look tough in front of the workers by “SPEAKING TRUTH TO POWER!” – that is all they intend to do! They “SPEAK TRUTH TO POWER!” morning, noon and night – and “power” ignores them and even laughs in their faces! Why can “power” do this? Because so long as the working class idiotically contents itself with merely “SPEAKING TRUTH TO POWER!” and does not go on to organize a revolutionary workers party that will lead the fight to actually “TAKE POWER OUT OF THE HANDS OF THE CAPITALIST CLASS AND PLACE IT IN THE HANDS OF THE WORKING CLASS THROUGH WORKERS SOCIALIST REVOLUTION”, the “power” will keep right on enjoying its rights and privileges and its massive wealth – stolen from us! – and will never lose even one night’s sleep! So long as the working class keep following the reformist cowards and political idiots who will NEVER go beyond “SPEAKING TRUTH TO POWER!” – nothing… absolutely NOTHING will change unless the “power”-ful capitalist class “feels” like it’s a good idea.
We just had a great example of this with the “Fight For $15” campaign in Illinois. These reformists – completely tied to the apron strings of the Democratic Party – adopted a slogan that is so lame that it is amazing and it proves that they are 100% in favor of the capitalist system. For the better part of two decades now, every scientific study of the minimum wage in Illinois has stated that in order for the workers in Chicago to live like human beings, they must make at least $25/hour. This has been studied for EVER! So why do these reformist cowards who organized the “Fight For $15” (there is a misuse of the word “fight” if we ever saw one!) crawl on their knees begging the “powers that be” for a mere $15 – ten dollars an hour LESS than what is necessary for workers to live decently in this Democratic Party-run death trap for the working class?
The answer is simple: these people who are running the “Fight for $15” are more interested in trying to look “reasonable” to the “powers that be” among the Illinois capitalist class than they are in honestly and courageously demanding that the working class of Illinois get PAID ENOUGH MONEY TO LIVE ON! These reformist cowards who run the misnamed “Fight For $15” (which should be called “Get Down On Your Knees And Beg For $15”) are trying to show how loyal and responsible they are as defenders of the capitalist system by not making the – to the capitalist class – unreasonable demand (!) that Illinois workers get paid enough money to actually barely keep their heads above water! By making their demand so low, they tried to “SPEAK TRUTH TO POWER!” – but not so as to alarm anyone in the filthy rich capitalist class! The leaders of “Fight For $15” hope that if they behave themselves and can prove to the capitalist class that they can keep the “demands” of the workers well under what the capitalist class deems to be “reasonable” then they might some day be rewarded with a state senator’s job or a well-paid spot in the House of Representatives or Senate! They are interested in furthering their POLITICAL CAREERS AS LIBERAL DEMOCRATS – not in fighting for actual living wages for workers!
So they crawled through Chicago and crawled to Springfield and crawled back through Chicago again and even went to Washington D.C. and crawled there as well – always “SPEAKING TRUTH TO POWER!” but never backing that up by ORGANIZING A REVOLUTIONARY SOCIALIST WORKERS PARTY!
So what did the “powers that be” do with the all-too-“reasonable” “demand” of the “Fight For $15”?
Billionaire Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner used their petition for toilet paper and he vetoed the legislation “demanding” the starvation minimum wage of $15/hour!
So NOW what will the apostles of “SPEAKING TRUTH TO POWER!” do? They “SPOKE TRUTH TO POWER!” – and “power” told them to go get fucked! Will the “Fight for $15” people now raise their demand to “Fight for $16” or to “Fight for $25” (which is the MINIMUM of what the minimum wage MUST BE in Illinois if we want workers to live like human beings and not from paycheck-to-paycheck)? Will they continue to hide under the skirts of the Democrats, who, when they ran the State House in Springfield worked overtime to keep their piddling minimum wage always well below the rate of inflation? Or will the reformist cowards who run “Fight For $15” finally stop their phony charade and just go work for the Democrats or go get real jobs?
Who cares what they do? A reformist is as a reformist does; and these dyed-in-the-wool reformist Democrats will never amount to anything! All they can do is lead workers into the dead-end of voting for the Democrats – that is their role in this life.
Lastly we ask you, young (or old) worker: when will YOU finally realize that merely “SPEAKING TRUTH TO POWER!” has never and will never change anything and start to organize a revolutionary socialist party that seeks to get rid of a capitalist “power” that doesn’t care if you live or die and to replace that “power” with a revolutionary socialist workers government?
The working class does not need pro-capitalist intermediaries in the Democratic or Republican parties to represent us – FALSELY! – in the local, state and national governmental bodies! We need OUR OWN party 100% financed by, organized by and led by WORKERS that represents the political and economic interests of the WORKING CLASS only! Once we have such a party, we will be able to stop merely “SPEAKING TRUTH TO POWER”; we will be on our way to WORKERS POWER IN A WORKERS GOVERNMENT where we the workers – who make up the vast majority of the population in EVERY country – will decide how the wealth WE CREATE gets distributed! We will no longer have to endlessly beg our wealthy capitalist masters for a few crumbs!

Workers of the World Unite! Dump the Republicrats and Build A Revolutionary Trotskyist Workers Party and Fight For A Workers’ Government!

–IWPCHI

 

 

 

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Leon Trotsky: The Workers’ Militia And Its Opponents (1934)

As we’ve been going through the always inspiring and illuminating writings of Bolshevik revolutionary and founder of the Red Army Leon Trotsky searching for works that can illustrate the need for multiracial union-based workers defense squads to beat back the rising tide of fascism in the US, we have been learning and re-learning so much that it is amazing.  So many of the 1930s-era arguments against the creation of a workers militia to smash fascism are being repeated almost word-for-word every day on Twitter!  We know that in the USA, thanks to advertising and television and its inducement of short-attention-spans in way too many workers here, the idea that something written about political events of 70 years ago could remain relevant in 2017 seems absurd.  You want “NEW!” and “IMPROVED!” political science, right?  But just as the works of Charles Darwin and Albert Einstein are still considered to be among the finest examples of scientific writing on their subjects to date, so it goes with political science.  And as it is absolutely necessary for a doctor or a physicist to study the history of developments in her field of expertise in order to more fully understand the modern approaches and discoveries, in political science we can obtain a wealth of vitally important information from the writings of the top revolutionaries of the past two centuries and apply that information directly to today’s political challenges.  It may come as a surprise, but the fundamental class structure of a capitalist state hasn’t changed much in the past 175 years or so: we still have the working class majority, a smaller petit-bourgeoisie (middle class small business owners) and a relatively tiny capitalist class to whom the majority of the national wealth is funneled year after year.  The actors change but the roles do not; petit-bourgeois politicians and businesspeople have the same complaints and roles in 2017 as they had in 1917 – with relatively minor differences in scenery and plot.  It’s like seeing a modern production of a Mozart opera, in which the clothing of the 1700s is replaced by hip-hop fashion: it looks very different but the music and lyrics remain the same.  And we are sure that our very perceptive readers will find themselves surprised to hear Trotsky, writing in 1934 (in this case) making incisive comments which, if the names of the old politicians were replaced with current US politicians, you would imagine the article was written last week.

In political science, the famous warning that “those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it” carries full force.  We assure those of you who laugh at us for using the events of 1934 as a warning in 2017 that you ignore these works at your peril.  The options for modern politicians – working class, petit-bourgeois and bourgeois – have NOT changed in the past century.  If the working class does not overthrow capitalism in 2017, and the fascists are allowed to grow, the result will be largely the same as what occurred in Germany in 1933.  The USA has a whole slew of would-be Hitlers jockeying to reprise his role in the 2017 production of “The Collapse of Bourgeois Democracy”.  The working class has its own contingent of feckless, class-collaborationist fake-socialists and pro-capitalist trade union “leaders” eager to show what they can bring to the roles of Scheidemann and Noske.  Today’s anarchists have their Bakunins, Berkmans, Makhnos and Goldmans; and the revolutionary socialists have their own up-and-coming Stalins, Kollontais, Lenins, Maos, Guevaras, and Trotskys.  All of these actors will be vying for the hearts and minds of the masses of workers, without whom there will be no play. 

“History repeats itself: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.” We do not intend to fall into the same traps that our ancestors fell into; more than that – we do not intend to lead YOU into those same traps YOUR ancestors fell into!   So that we do not do so, we must study the development of the various class forces in the past who were faced with essentially the same collapse of bourgeois democracy and essentially the same rise of fascism we are facing today around the capitalist world.  In Germany in the late 1920s and early 1930s the Communist Party refused to make a united front with the Social Democrats and form armed workers brigades capable of smashing Hitler’s gangs, paving the way for the rise of Nazi Germany.  Fascism then rose in France as well, paving the political road to the wartime Nazi-collaborationist Vichy government.  Why did bourgeois democracy fail throughout Europe in the 1930s?  Was the rise of fascism inevitable?  Is it inevitable now?  By studying the historical record of the workers movement as it struggled to overcome the obstacles hurled into its path during the interwar period of 1918 -1939 we can answer these questions. These tragic errors of the 20th century need not – and must not be – repeated in the 21st century.

— IWPCHI

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

THE WORKERS’ MILITIA AND ITS OPPONENTS

From Whither France?, 1934

To struggle, it is necessary to conserve and strengthen the instrument and the means of struggle — organizations, the press, meetings, etc.  Fascism [in France] threatens all of that directly and immediately.  It is still too weak for the direct struggle for power, but it is strong enough to attempt to beat down the working-class organizations bit by bit, to temper its bands in its attacks, and to spread dismay and lack of confidence in their forces in the ranks of the workers.

Fascism finds unconscious helpers in all those who say that the “physical struggle” is impermissible or hopeless, and demand of Doumergue the disarmament of his fascist guard.  Nothing is so dangerous for the proletariat, especially in the present situation, as the sugared poison of false hopes.  Nothing increases the insolence of the fascists so much as “flabby pacificism” on the part of the workers’ organizations.  Nothing so destroys the confidence of the middle classes in the working-class as temporizing, passivity, and the absence of the will to struggle.

Le Populaire [the Socialist Party paper] and especially l’Humanite [the Communist Party newspaper] write every day:

“The united front is a barrier against fascism”;
“the united front will not permit…”;
“the fascists will not dare”, etc.

These are phrases.  It is necessary to say squarely to the workers, Socialists, and Communists: do not allow yourselves to be lulled by the phrases of superficial and irresponsible journalists and orators.  It is a question of our heads and the future of socialism.  It is not that we deny the importance of the united front.  We demanded it when the leaders of both parties were against it.  The united front opens up numerous possibilities, but nothing more.  In itself, the united front decides nothing.  Only the struggle of the masses decides.  The united front will reveal its value when Communist detachments will come to the help of Socialist detachments and vice versa in the case of an attack by the fascist bands against Le Populaire or l’Humanite.  But for that, proletarian combat detachments must exist and be educated, trained, and armed.  And if there is not an organization of defense, i.e., a workers’ militia, Le Populaire or l’Humanite will be able to write as many articles as they like on the omnipotence of the united front, but the two papers will find themselves defenseless before the first well-prepared attack of the fascists.

We propose to make a critical study of the “arguments” and the “theories” of the opponents of the workers’ militia who are very numerous and influential in the two working-class parties.

“We need mass self-defense and not the militia,” we are often told.

But what is this “mass self-defense” without combat organizations, without specialized cadres, without arms?  To give over the defense against fascism to unorganized and unprepared masses left to themselves would be to play a role incomparably lower than the role of Pontius Pilate.  To deny the role of the militia is to deny the role of the vanguard.  Then why a party?  Without the support of the masses, the militia is nothing.  But without organized combat detachments, the most heroic masses will be smashed bit by bit by the fascist gangs.  It is nonsense to counterpose the militia to self-defense. The militia is an organ of self-defense.

“To call for the organization of a militia,” say some opponents who, to be sure, are the least serious and honest, “is to engage in provocation.”

This is not an argument but an insult.  If the necessity for the defense of the workers’ organizations flows from the whole situation, how then can one not call for the creation of the militia?  Perhaps they mean to say that the creation of a militia “provokes” fascist attacks and government repression.  In that case, this is an absolutely reactionary argument.  Liberalism has always said to the workers that by their class struggle they “provoke” the reaction.

The reformists repeated this accusation against the Marxists, the Mensheviks against the Bolsheviks.  These accusations reduced themselves, in the final analysis, to the profound thought that if the oppressed do not balk, the oppressors will not be obliged to beat them.  This is the philosophy of Tolstoy and Gandhi but never that of Marx and Lenin.  If l’Humanite wants hereafter to develop the doctrine of “non-resistance to evil by violence”, it should take for its symbol not the hammer and sickle, emblem of the October Revolution, but the pious goat, which provides Gandhi with his milk.

“But the arming of the workers is only opportune in a revolutionary situation, which does not yet exist.”

This profound argument means that the workers must permit themselves to be slaughtered until the situation becomes revolutionary.  Those who yesterday preached the “third period” do not want to see what is going on before their eyes. The question of arms itself has come forward only because the “peaceful”, “normal”, “democratic” situation has given way to a stormy, critical, and unstable situation which can transform itself into a revolutionary, as well as a counter-revolutionary, situation.  This alternative depends above all on whether the advanced workers will allow themselves to be attacked with impunity and defeated bit by bit or will reply to every blow by two of their own, arousing the courage of the oppressed and uniting them around their banner.  A revolutionary situation does not fall from the skies.  It takes form with the active participation of the revolutionary class and its party.

The French Stalinists now argue that the militia did not safeguard the German proletariat from defeat.  Only yesterday they completely denied any defeat in Germany and asserted that the policy of the German Stalinists was correct from beginning to end.  Today, they see the entire evil in the German workers’ militia (Roter Frontkampferbund) [i.e., Red Front Fighters: Communist-led militia banned by the social- democratic government after the Berlin May Day riots of 1929].  Thus, from one error they fall into a diametrically opposite one, no less monstrous. The militia, in itself, does not settle the question.  A correct policy is necessary. Meanwhile,the policy of Stalinism in Germany (“social fascism is the chief enemy”, the split in the trade unions, the flirtation with nationalism, putschism) fatally led to the isolation of the proletarian vanguard and to its shipwreck.  With an utterly worthless strategy, no militia could have saved the situation.

It is nonsense to say that, in itself, the organization of the militia leads to adventures, provokes the enemy, replaces the political struggle by physical struggle, etc.  In all these phrases, there is nothing but political cowardice.

The militia, as the strong organization of the vanguard, is in fact the surest defense against adventures, against individual terrorism, against bloody spontaneous explosions.

The militia is at the same time the only serious way of reducing to a minimum the civil war that fascism imposes upon the proletariat.  Let the workers, despite the absence of a “revolutionary situation”, occasionally correct the “papa’s son” patriots in their own way, and the recruitment of new fascist bands will become incomparably more difficult.

But here the strategists, tangled in their own reasoning, bring forward against us still more stupefying arguments. We quote textually:

“If we reply to the revolver shots of the fascists with other revolver shots,” writes l’Humanite of October 23 [1934], “we lose sight of the fact that fascism is the product of the capitalist regime and that in fighting against fascism it is the entire system which we face.”

It is difficult to accumulate in a few lines greater confusion or more errors. It is impossible to defend oneself against the fascists because they are — “a product of the capitalist regime”. That means, we have to renounce the whole struggle, for all contemporary social evils are “products of the capitalist system”.

When the fascists kill a revolutionist, or burn down the building of a proletarian newspaper, the workers are to sigh philosophically: “Alas! Murders and arson are products of the capitalist system”, and go home with easy consciences. Fatalist prostration is substituted for the militant theory of Marx, to the sole advantage of the class enemy. The ruin of the petty bourgeoisie is, of course, the product of capitalism. The growth of the fascist bands is, in turn, a product of the ruin of the petty bourgeoisie. But on the other hand, the increase in the misery and the revolt of the proletariat are also products of capitalism, and the militia, in its turn, is the product of the sharpening of the class struggle. Why, then, for the “Marxists” of l’Humanite, are the fascist bands the legitimate product of capitalism and the workers’ militia the illegitimate product of — the Trotskyists? It is impossible to make head or tail of this.

“We have to deal with the whole system,” we are told.

How? Over the heads of human beings? The fascists in the different countries began with their revolvers and ended by destroying the whole “system” of workers’ organizations. How else to check the armed offensive of the enemy if not by an armed defense in order, in our turn, to go over to the offensive.

L’Humanite now admits defense in words, but only in the form of “mass self-defense”. The militia is harmful because, you see, it divides the combat detachments from the masses. But why then are there independent armed detachments among the fascists who are not cut off from the reactionary masses but who, on the contrary, arouse the courage and embolden those masses by their well-organized attacks? Or perhaps the proletarian mass is inferior in combative quality to the declassed petty bourgeoisie?

Hopelessly tangled, l’Humanite finally begins to hesitate: it appears that mass self-defense requires the creation of special “self-defense groups”. In place of the rejected militia, special groups or detachments are proposed. It would seem at first sight that there is a difference only in the name. Certainly, the name proposed by l’Humanite means nothing. One can speak of “mass self-defense” but it is impossible to speak of “self-defense groups” since the purpose of the groups is not to defend themselves but the workers’ organizations. However, it is not, of course, a question of the name. The “self-defense groups”, according to l’Humanite , must renounce the use of arms in order not to fall into “putschism”. These sages treat the working-class like an infant who must not be allowed to hold a razor in his hands.  Razors, moreover, are the monopoly, as we know, of the Camelots du Roi [French monarchists grouped around Charles Maurras’ newspaper, Action Francaise, which was violently anti-democratic], who are a legitimate “product of capitalism” and who, with the aid of razors, have overthrown the “system” of democracy.  In any case, how are the “self-defense groups” going to defend themselves against the fascist revolvers? “Ideologically”, of course. In other words: they can hide themselves.  Not having what they require in their hands, they will have to seek “self-defense” in their feet.  And the fascists will in the meanwhile sack the workers’ organizations with impunity.  But if the proletariat suffers a terrible defeat, it will at any rate not have been guilty of “putschism”.  This fraudulent chatter, parading under the banner of “Bolshevism”, arouses only disgust and loathing.

[NOTE: “The Third Period”: According to the Stalinist schema, this was the “final period of capitalism”, the period of its immediately impending demise and replacement by soviets. The period is notable for the Communists’ ultra-left and adventurist tactics, notably the concept of social-fascism.]

During the “third period”  of happy memory — when the strategists of l’Humanite were afflicted with barricade delirium, “conquered” the streets every day and stamped as “social fascist” everyone who did not share their extravagances — we predicted: “The moment these gentlemen burn the tips of their fingers, they will become the worst opportunists.”  That prediction has now been completely confirmed.  At a time when within the Socialist Party the movement in favor of the militia is growing and strengthening, the leaders of the so-called Communist Party run for the hose to cool down the desire of the advanced workers to organize themselves in fighting columns.  Could one imagine a more demoralizing or more damning work than this?

In the ranks of the Socialist Party sometimes this objection is heard: “A militia must be formed but there is no need of shouting about it.”

One can only congratulate comrades who wish to protect the practical side of the business from inquisitive eyes and ears.  But it would be much too naive to think that a militia could be created unseen and secretly within four walls.  We need tens, and later hundreds, of thousands of fighters.  They will come only if millions of men and women workers, and behind them the peasants, understand the necessity for the militia and create around the volunteers an atmosphere of ardent sympathy and active support.  Conspiratorial care can and must envelop only the technical aspect of the matter.  The political campaign must be openly developed, in meetings, factories, in the streets and on the public squares.

The fundamental cadres of the militia must be the factory workers grouped according to their place of work, known to each other and able to protect their combat detachments against the provocations of enemy agents far more easily and more surely than the most elevated bureaucrats.  Conspirative general staffs without an open mobilization of the masses will at the moment of danger remain impotently suspended in midair.  Every working-class organization has to plunge into the job.  In this question, there can be no line of demarcation between the working-class parties and the trade unions.  Hand in hand, they must mobilize the masses.  The success of the workers’ militia will then be fully assured.

“But where are the workers going to get arms” object the sober “realists” — that is to say, frightened philistines — “the enemy has rifles, cannon, tanks, gas, and airplanes. The workers have a few hundred revolvers and pocket knives.”

In this objection, everything is piled up to frighten the workers.  On the one hand, our sages identify the arms of the fascists with the armament of the state.  On the other hand, they turn towards the state and demand that it disarm the fascists. Remarkable logic!  In fact, their position is false in both cases.  In France, the fascists are still far from controlling the state.  On February 6, they entered in armed conflict with the state police.  That is why it is false to speak of cannon and tanks when it is a matter of the immediate armed struggle against the fascists. The fascists, of course, are richer than we.  It is easier for them to buy arms.  But the workers are more numerous, more determined, more devoted, when they are conscious of a firm revolutionary leadership.

In addition to other sources, the workers can arm themselves at the expense of the fascists by systematically disarming them.

This is now one of the most serious forms of the struggle against fascism.  When workers’ arsenals will begin to stock up at the expense of the fascist arms depots, the banks and trusts will be more prudent in financing the armament of their murderous guards.  It would even be possible in this case — but in this case only — that the alarmed authorities would really begin to prevent the arming of the fascists in order not to provide an additional sources of arms for the workers.  We have known for a long time that only a revolutionary tactic engenders, as a by-product, “reforms” or concessions from the government.

But how to disarm the fascists?  Naturally, it is impossible to do so with newspaper articles alone.  Fighting squads must be created.  An intelligence service must be established.  Thousands of informers and friendly helpers will volunteer from all sides when they realize that the business has been seriously undertaken by us.  It requires a will to proletarian action.

But the arms of the fascists are, of course, not the only source.  In France, there are more than one million organized workers.  Generally speaking, this number is small.  But it is entirely sufficient to make a beginning in the organization of a workers’ militia.  If the parties and unions armed only a tenth of their members, that would already be a force of 100,000 men.  There is no doubt whatever that the number of volunteers who would come forward on the morrow of a “united front” appeal for a workers’ militia would far exceed that number.  The contributions of the parties and unions, collections and voluntary subscriptions, would within a month or two make it possible to assure the arming of 100,000 to 200,000 working-class fighters.  The fascist rabble would immediately sink its tail between its legs.  The whole perspective of development would become incomparably more favorable.

To invoke the absence of arms or other objective reasons to explain why no attempt has been made up to now to create a militia, is to fool oneself and others. The principle obstacle — one can say the only obstacle — has its roots in the conservative and passive character of the leaders of the workers’ organizations.  The skeptics who are the leaders do not believe in the strength of the proletariat.  They put their hope in all sorts of miracles from above instead of giving a revolutionary outlet to the energies pulsing below.  The socialist workers must compel their leaders to pass over immediately to the creation of the workers’ militia or else give way to younger, fresher forces.

A strike is inconceivable without propaganda and without agitation.  It is also inconceivable without pickets who, when they can, use persuasion, but when obliged, use force.  The strike is the most elementary form of the class struggle which always combines, in varying proportions, “ideological” methods with physical methods.  The struggle against fascism is basically a political struggle which needs a militia just as the strike needs pickets.  Basically, the picket is the embryo of the workers’ militia.  He who thinks of renouncing “physical” struggle must renounce all struggle, for the spirit does not live without flesh.

Following the splendid phrase of the great military theoretician Clausewitz, war is the continuation of politics by other means.  This definition also fully applies to civil war.  It is impermissable to oppose one to the other since it is impossible to check at will the political struggle when it transforms itself, by force of inner necessity, into a political struggle.

The duty of a revolutionary party is to foresee in time the inescapability of the transformation of politics into open armed conflict, and with all its forces to prepare for that moment just as the ruling classes are preparing.

The militia detachments for defense against fascism are the first step on the road to the arming of the proletariat, not the last. Our slogan is:

“Arm the proletariat and the revolutionary peasants!”

The workers’ militia must, in the final analysis, embrace all the toilers.  To fulfill this program completely would be possible only in a workers’ state into whose hands would pass all the means of production and, consequently, also all the means of destruction — i.e., all the arms and the factories which produce them.

However, it is impossible to arrive at a workers’ state with empty hands.  Only political invalids like Renaudel can speak of a peaceful, constitutional road to socialism. The constitutional road is cut by trenches held by the fascist bands. There are not a few trenches before us.  The bourgeoisie will not hesitate to resort to a dozen coups d’etat aided by the police and the army, to prevent proletariat from coming to power.

[NOTE: Pierre Renaudel (1871-1935): Prior to WWI, socialist leader Jean Jaures’ righthand man and editor of l’Humanite. During the war, a right-wing social patriot. In the 1930s, he and Marcel Deat led revisionist “neo-socialist” tendency. Voted down at the July 1933 convention, this tendency split from the Socialist Party. After the fascist riots of February 6, 1934, most of the “neos” joined the Radical Party, the main party of French capitalism.]

A workers’ socialist state can be created only by a victorious revolution.

Every revolution is prepared by the march of economic and political development, but it is always decided by open armed conflicts between hostile classes.  A revolutionary victory can become possible only as a result of long political agitation, a lengthy period of education and organization of the masses.

But the armed conflict itself must likewise be prepared long in advance.

The advanced workers must know that they will have to fight and win a struggle to the death. They must reach out for arms, as a guarantee of their emancipation.

[Source: https://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/works/1944/1944-fas.htm#p1   Corrected and emphasis added in bold type by IWPCHI]

 

Fascism: What it Is and How to Fight It

Fascist scum surround small group of antifascist protestors at Univ. of VA, Charlottesville on 11 Aug 2017.

In the aftermath of the monstrous fascist mobilization in Charlottesville, VA this past weekend, we are searching the archives of Marxism for the most important writings on the subject of how to effectively fight the fascist menace.  The New York Times reports that the fascists, emboldened by their “victory” in Charlottesville are now planning to run for political offices across the nation, primarily under the banner of the Republican party.

We have sought from the inception of our organization to impart to the workers of the US the vital importance of organizing a revolutionary vanguard party of the working class as the indispensable weapon of self-defense of the workers against the capitalist system and against its fascist attack dogs.  Without a political party of our own, the working class is left to stand by, impotently begging the paid agents of the capitalist class in both the Republican and Democratic parties to “do the right thing” for the workers.  This cowardly posture of “speaking truth to power” effectively eliminates the working class – the vast majority of the population in any capitalist country – to sitting on the political sidelines as the “rightful rulers” of the capitalist class rob us blind and pave the road for a fascist regime in which the workers organizations will be completely destroyed.  Under fascism, there will be no future for the trade unions or for any working class revolutionary organization of any kind.  Unless we build a revolutionary workers party that has as its ultimate goal the overthrow of the capitalist class and its decrepit, dying capitalist economic system which is the growth medium in which fascism thrives, the working class is doomed to destruction.  The experiences of workers in Italy and Germany under their fascist regimes provide ample evidence of this reality.

All that being said, we must make clear that the Trump administration, though it has fascists in its top positions is NOT A FASCIST GOVERNMENT!  If the Trump government was fascist, we would not be able to write and publish this article, and anti-fascists would not be able to march against the fascist hordes as they did in Charlottesville this past weekend.  We would all be in concentration camps – or dead!   It is imperative that workers understand the qualitative difference between a conservative, worker-hating capitalist political party and its state and a fascist party and its state.  The Trump administration is a neo-fascist bourgeois government, not a FASCIST government.  We can see even now the tremendous splits that have taken place within the Trump administration over the events in Charlottesville.  Even the hideous Confederacy-apologist Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions has come out publicly denouncing the fascist mobilization in Charlottesville: this would not happen in a fascist government.

But the fascists are inside the Republican party and are preparing to take it over.  They are supported financially by the most right-wing elements of the US capitalist class who are tired of having their hands tied by the US Constitution and Bill of Rights when they would like to just go out and smash every union and socialist/communist/anarchist political organization in the land!  It is this powerful but still minority fascist fringe of the US capitalist class that is pushing the nation towards fascism.  They have a large portion of the ruling class, the cops and courts and military on their side.  BUT THEY HAVE NOT TAKEN POWER YET.  If we confuse the semi-fascist Trump with the REAL fascist threat we will be directing our defensive attacks at the puppet rather than at the master.  We saw who the fascists are this weekend.  They are the usual scum: the Klan, the Nazis organized by David Duke and all of that syphilitic gutter scum attached to them like lampreys on a shark.  THESE ARE THE FASCISTS WE MUST CONFRONT AND DEFEAT.  They are organizing their ignorant hordes of lumpen and petty-bourgeois thugs to rampage across the campuses and cities and towns across the USA this fall.  We can and we must organize now to overwhelm them numerically whenever and wherever they appear, and we must ignore the appeals from their allies in the Democratic and Republican parties and among the clergy of all denominations who tell us to “turn the other cheek” against those who seek to kill us!  The working class must be organized through the trade unions into massive, highly disciplined battalions trained and led by union members who are military veterans to defend ourselves effectively in a military fashion against the nazi gangs.  If we do this – and ONLY if we do this can we send these fascist scum scurrying back to the holes they emerged from! The next time these filth try to organize a torchlight parade they must be crushed by the full weight of the integrated working class!  The next time they try to launch a provocation in broad daylight as they did in Charlottesville they must be met with the full weight of the entire integrated working class, led by strong, determined trade union contingents and they must be crushed!  They must have their heads acquainted with the pavement and be sent crawling home to lick their wounds.  This is the only “debate” the fascists understand!

Workers must come to understand the scientific, revolutionary Trotskyist definition of what fascism is and what it isn’t and what must be done to stop it.  If we do not understand fully what we are up against, where it comes from and who supports it we are powerless to stop it.  So in the interest of furthering your education on the subject of fascism, we offer these insights from the revolutionary leader Leon Trotsky.  If you have questions or comments on this material you can post your comments here and we will be happy to respond; otherwise contact us directly at iwpchi@gmx.com.

Workers of the World – Unite to Smash Fascism!

-IWPCHI

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

Excerpts from Leon Trotsky’s writings on fascism and how to fight it.  We have lightly edited Trotsky’s polemics in order to bring them up-to-date for the present situation in the US without (we hope) dulling in the slightest way their surgically sharp edge. Our edits are in brackets [ ].  — IWPCHI

“The [people of the United States] for a long time thought that Fascism had nothing whatever to do with them. They had a republic in which all questions were dealt with by the sovereign people through the exercise of universal suffrage. But on [August 11th and 12th, 2017], several thousand Fascists […]  armed with [shields, clubs and firearms descended on Charlottesville, Virginia]. What does tomorrow hold?

Of course in [the United States], as in certain other European countries (England, Belgium, Holland, Switzerland, the Scandinavian countries), there still exist parliaments, elections, democratic liberties, or their remnants. But in all these countries the class struggle is sharpening, just as it did [in the 1920s and 1930s] in Italy and Germany. Whoever consoles himself with the phrase, “[The United States] is not Germany”, is hopeless. In all countries the same historic laws operate, the laws of capitalist decline. If the means of production remain in the hands of a small number of capitalists, there is no way out for society. It is condemned to go from crisis to crisis, from need to misery, from bad to worse. In the various countries the decrepitude and disintegration of capitalism are expressed in diverse forms and at unequal rhythms. But the basic features of the process are the same everywhere. The bourgeoisie is leading its society to complete bankruptcy. It is capable of assuring the people neither bread nor peace. This is precisely why it cannot any longer tolerate the democratic order. It is forced to smash the workers by the use of physical violence. The discontent of the workers and peasants, however, cannot be brought to an end by the police alone. Moreover, it is often impossible to make the army march against the people. It begins by disintegrating and ends with the passage of a large section of the soldiers over to the people’s side. That is why finance capital is obliged to create special armed bands, trained to fight the workers just as certain breeds of dog are trained to hunt game. The historic function of Fascism is to smash the working class, destroy its organizations, and stifle political liberties when the capitalists find themselves unable to govern and dominate with the help of democratic machinery.

“The Fascists find their human material mainly in the petty bourgeoisie [small businesspeople]. The [small business owner] has been entirely ruined by big capital. There is no way out for it in the present social order, but it knows of no other. Its dissatisfaction, indignation and despair are diverted by the Fascists away from big capital and against the workers. It may be said that Fascism is the act of placing the petty bourgeoisie at the disposal of its most bitter enemies. In this way big capital ruins the middle classes and then with the help of hired Fascist demagogues incites the despairing petty bourgeois against the worker. The bourgeois régime can be preserved only by such murderous means as these. For how long? Until it is overthrown by proletarian revolution.
[Source: Leon Trotsky, “Whither France?”, November, 1934]

” The capitalists arrive at Fascism not at their own whim, but through necessity: they cannot any longer preserve the private ownership of the means of production save by directing an offensive against the workers, save by strengthening the oppression, by sowing misery and despair around them. At the same time, fearing the inevitable resistance on the part of the workers, the capitalists, through the medium of their agents, arouse the petty bourgeoisie against the proletariat and, while accusing the latter of prolonging and aggravating the crisis, they finance Fascist gangs to annihilate the workers. Should the resistance of the workers to the offensive of capital increase on the morrow, should the strikes become more frequent and important, Fascism […] will not evaporate but instead grow with redoubled force. The growth of the strike movement will impel the mobilization of strikebreakers. All the ‘patriotic’ thugs will participate in the movement. Daily attacks against the workers will be put on the order of the day. To close our eyes to this is to walk toward certain defeat.

“‘Do you mean to say […] that there must be no resistance?” No. It is necessary to resist.

“We are [not] adherents of that school which thinks that the best means of safety lies in silence, retreat and capitulation. ‘Don’t provoke the enemy!’ ‘Do not defend yourselves!’ ‘Don’t arm yourselves!’ ‘Roll over on your backs and play dead!’  Theoreticians from among this school of strategy should be sought not among ourselves but among the editors of [the bourgeois and fake-socialist press].  It is necessary for the workers to resist if they do not wish to be annihilated. But in that case no reformist and pacifist illusion is permissible. The struggle will be ferocious. It is necessary to foresee beforehand the inevitable consequences of resistance and to prepare for them.

“By its present offensive the bourgeoisie invests with a new and incommensurably more acute character the relation between the economic conditions and the social situation of capitalism in decay. Just so, the workers must invest their defence with a new character which corresponds to the methods of the class enemy. In defending ourselves against the economic blows of capital, we must know how to defend at the same time our organizations against the mercenary gangs of capital. It is impossible to do this save by means of the workers’ militia.

“In particular we must say to the trade unions: comrades, your branches and your publications will be pillaged, your organizations reduced to dust, if you do not immediately proceed to the formation of trade-union defence squads (“trade-union militia”), if you do not demonstrate by actions that you will not surrender a single inch of Fascism without a struggle.”

[Source:  Leon Trotsky, “Once Again, Whither France? Part I” March, 1935

“The armed organization of the proletariat [scientific term for ‘working class’], which at the present moment coincides almost entirely with the defence against Fascism, is a new branch of the class struggle. The first steps here too will be inexperienced and maladroit. We must expect mistakes. It is even impossible to escape completely from provocation. The selection of the cadres will be achieved little by little and this all the more surely, all the more solidly, as the militia is closer to the factories where the workers know one another well. But the initiative must necessarily come from above. The party can and must provide the initial cadres. The trade unions must also take to this same road – and they will inevitably take it. The cadres will become fused and strengthened all the more rapidly as they meet with an increasing sympathy and increasing support within the workers’ organizations, and afterwards within the masses of the toilers.

“What are we to say about those gentlemen who, in the guise of sympathy and support, vilify and poke fun at or, worse yet, depict to the class enemy the detachments of working-class self-defence as detachments of ‘insurrection’ and of ‘putsch’? […] It is impossible to give these gentlemen any other name save that of direct enemies of the proletarian revolution.”

[[Source: Leon Trotsky, “Once Again, Whither France? Part II” March, 1935

— IWPCHI

Democratic Socialists of America: “Democratic” Party? Yes; Pro-US Imperialism? Yes; “Socialist”? Not So Much

In the United States things are often sold under false labels – especially when it comes to politics. SOURCE: dsausa.org

6 AUGUST 2017 – This weekend, Chicago, IL has had the “honor” of hosting what has been billed as the largest convention of socialists in the history of the United States.  Please believe us when we say we wish that was actually the case.  While it is indeed true that thousands of mostly young working-class youth and college students flocked to the 3-day soiree of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) in the hope that the DSA represents a fighting socialist alternative to the Wall St. owned-and-operated Democratic Party, we are obliged to be the bearers of bad news: the Democratic Socialists of America are actually nothing less than a left cover for that Democratic Party you have grown to hate with a passion.

In order for the class interests of the working class to be represented at city hall, in the state legislatures or in the national legislature a true working class party must first be created that is completely funded by and led by a revolutionary socialist workers party that is 100% independent from the capitalist system and its class representatives.  That means that not one penny of funding for that workers party can be derived from donations from the capitalist class or any of their many front groups.  If the workers do not organize a workers party of their own, they have no way to independently put forward a working class program or to participate in local, state or national politics at all and must instead be reduced to begging other parties’ politicians to throw a few legislative crumbs to the workers once in a while (which is the case right now in the USA).  A real workers party must be a party of, bay and for the workers, which fights for the rights of the working class in the USA and internationally; it must not defend the capitalist system – which is fundamentally based on the exploitation of the working class – in any way, shape or form.  It must not support the cops, the criminal justice system or the military forces of the imperialist United States of America at all.  The ultimate goal of an actual revolutionary socialist workers party is not to keep the decrepit and senile, racist, warmongering, exploitative capitalist system alive and to patch it up so it can stagger forward until it finally launches World War III; the ultimate goal of a revolutionary socialist workers party is to overthrow the capitalist class and their system and to put the working class in power.  THAT is the program of revolutionary socialism: it was the program of Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Trotsky – and it is the program of the Independent Workers Party of Chicago.  That is what the word “independent” means in our name: complete independence from the influence of bourgeois ideology and complete dedication to the fight for the emancipation of the working classes of the world through workers socialist revolution.

For the leaders of the Democratic Socialists of America, this program of complete independence of their party from the forces of capitalism is anathema.  The DSA is a thoroughly class-collaborationist pressure group (“we are not a political party” they declare) literally steeped in the reactionary, pro-capitalist principles of the Second International – the renegades from Marxism who betrayed the working class in 1914 by repudiating the program of revolutionary class struggle in favor of defending “their own” bourgeoisie by voting for war credits in their respective countries, which drove the working classes of the world into bloody conflict against each other in World War I.

The DSA wants you to believe that its party represents the ideals of the great US socialist leader Eugene Debs, who went to jail for his stalwart opposition to WWI.  But nothing could be further from the truth.  The DSA’s leadership and its program has ALWAYS repudiated what Eugene Debs stood for; they have been supportive of the United States Government since the Democratic Socialists Organizing Committee (DSOC – immediate predecessor of the DSA) was founded by Michael Harrington in 1973.  From the very beginning, Harrington declared to the world that the new party was dedicated to the principle that “the left wing of realism is found today in the Democratic Party.”  This is the bright red-white-and-blue thread that runs throughout the program of the DSA from 1973 to this very day.  The DSA was founded on the principle of reforming the capitalist system to make it “more democratic”, not in overthrowing it.  Harrington to the day he died worked assiduously to defend US imperialism against the degenerated Stalinist workers states of the USSR, Cuba and China – and the DSA even went so far as to support the United States capitalist class in their genocidal Vietnam War!  Harrington and the DSA always urged their party’s members to vote for the Democrats – and his ideological children like Cornel West follow in his footsteps, urging youth to vote for the fake socialist (and real Democrat) Bernie Sanders in the last presidential election!  If you are a young worker or student who hates the Democratic Party of war criminals Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, the DSA is not an organization you want to be a member of!

We do not expect nor do we want you to take our word for this; as Lenin said “in politics, anyone who ‘takes another’s word for it’ is a hopeless idiot.”  And if you are looking for alternatives to the Democratic Party and the capitalist system you are obviously not a “hopeless idiot”.  You want answers and you want the truth and you deserve both.  One of the hallmarks of a true Trotskyist party like ours is that we are dedicated to the principle of telling the working class the truth no matter how painful it may be – even about our own party.  Our goal is to win over the trust of the working class by steadfastly telling the truth about the capitalist system and the capitalist class and its many devious ways of entrapping workers politically.  The DSA is one of those political traps laid for the unsuspecting workers who are just starting to check out the various socialist parties and  who are trying to sort the real socialists from the fake ones.  Unfortunately there are quite a few political parties that call themselves socialists and even revolutionary socialists who are in fact anything but what they pretend to be.  To help you do this we are going to use the written program and the public statements of the DSA’s leadership itself.  This is how Trotskyists determine the class nature of a political movement.

If we visit the DSA’s website at http://www.dsausa.org/, we can begin to see immediately that the DSA is a reformist organization, not an actual alternative to the Democratic Party at all:

Trotskyists analyze the writings of our political opponents to determine what they really stand for politically. The DSA reveals its true nature right on the front page of its website. SOURCE: dsausa.org

“Continue the political revolution!”  What does this refer to?  Obviously, it refers to the phony “political revolution” the reformists falsely claim was led by the Democrat Bernie Sanders during the last US Presidential election, in which Sanders played the old “bait-and-switch” con, pretending to run for President on a “socialist” party program in order to lure unsuspecting youth into the Democratic Party’s circus tent, only to abandon his campaign and to throw his support to the hideous Hillary Clinton.  This was no “revolution”: it was a cheap con game which has been played over and over by the Democrats.  Jesse Jackson perfected this scam back in the late ’70s and early ’80s.  We spent a great deal of time during the election warning Sanders supporters that they were being played.

A lot of Sandernistas hated us then for telling the truth about the phony Sanders campaign; but when he pulled the old switcheroo just as we predicted we had a good number of them come back and admit that we had told the cold truth – just as we promise we will always do to the very best of our ability.  It was a tough lesson in the sleazy, underhanded methods the capitalist-owned politicians work their campaigns.

What else can we learn from just this first glimpse of the DSA’s website?  Take a closer look at this “Who we are & what we do” paragraph:

A closer examination reveals some surprises: the DSA is *not* a political party!  This means that the DSA relegates itself to the status of a mere pressure group on – guess who? – the Democratic Party!  SOURCE: dsausa.org

Every word of this declaration tells a Marxist volumes about what the DSA is and what it isn’t.  “Democratic Socialists believe that both the economy and society should be run democratically to meet human needs, not to make profits for a few”.  Here is what they mean with the missing words put back in the sentence:  “Democratic Socialists believe that both the existing capitalist economy and the existing bourgeois democratic society should be run democratically to meet human needs, not to make profits for a few capitalists.”  This means that the DSA is a reformist, and pro-capitalist organization, and not revolutionary or even socialist at all.  They don’t explicitly say it (because that would give the game away) but they are clearly talking about not the organization of a better, socialist, future society but are speaking in the present tense – they are describing the fact that it is their program to limit their demands to mere reforms of the capitalist system.   And since racism, poverty, homelessness and war are all endemic to the capitalist system – as anyone can easily prove by examining the existence of ALL of these horrors in EVERY capitalist nation-state on Earth – when the DSA declares that it merely seeks to reform capitalism instead of overthrowing it they are declaring to the world that as far as they are concerned, racism, poverty, homelessness and war have always been part of the human condition and always will be – and so the best we can hope for is to put a few bandages on these gaping wounds of the capitalist system and hope for the best!

We don’t want to go on like this all day long; this article is getting to be too long already.  So we will cut to the most revealing self-exposure of their fundamental commitment to the US capitalist class and the capitalist system that the DSA website proudly announces to the world.

One of our discoveries in the past year has been that practically every single charity group and non-governmental organization (NGO) in the United States and around the world is actually funded by some capitalist class-run charity or foundation or other!  From the fake environmentalist organization 350.org (funded and run by the oil company money of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund) to the “Black Lives Matter”-allied  “Black Youth Project” are actually sponsored by major capitalist foundations and charitable organizations – and guess what?  SO IS THE DSA!  Amazing but true!  We just found this out today ourselves and we can hardly believe how easy it was, once again, for us to discover this fact.

All of these fake NGOs have two things in common: they are funded by the capitalist class, and they OPPOSE THE FORMATION OF A THIRD POLITICAL PARTY IN THE USA!  Why? Because the capitalists who fund these organizations have a wonderful phony “two-party system” here in the US already – and they OWN BOTH OF THE PARTIES!  The US capitalist class thinks that “democracy” is the cat’s ass – so long as THEY run all of the political parties themselves!  They know that as soon as the working class organizes a successful workers party, their days of class rule will be numbered!  So they make DAMNED SURE that NO ONE runs so much as an NGO unless THEY sponsor it!

How did we do it?  EASY!  Every NGO website – well almost every one – some of them hide the identity of their financial supporters for very good reasons – but nearly every one of them has a section or two on their website that reveals who their primary staff and chief advisers and donors are.  We’ll show you how to do this with the DSA website and then you can try it on any NGO website you can find.  You’ll quickly see that all reformist roads lead to the corporate boardrooms of the USA’s Fortune 500 companies!

OK.  DSA website, homepage.  Sometimes this info is located at the top of the page, sometimes at the bottom of the page; sometimes in both locations.  But you usually can navigate to the sponsor pages through the tabs or buttons at the top of the homepage.  Here they are on the DSA website:

As usual, if you want to know who runs the show at ANY organization, you have to follow the money!  Which button will reveal the truth about who funds the DSA?

Let’s click on the “About DSA” button:

Nope. Looks like the wrong page, although this certainly reinforces our characterization of the DSA as pro-capitalist and reformist. Apparently the DSA wants to wait until the capitalist system dies a natural death – hopefully before WWIII occurs.  What if we look at the bottom of the page…?

This is all very interesting and reveals that our original evaluation of the DSA as pro-capitalist and reformist was right on the money.  But where is the financial info?  Let’s take a glance at the bottom of the page.  Hmm.  Lots of white space… doesn’t look promising… wait!  We may be on to something!  BINGO!  “The DSA Fund”!

Here it is – the DSA Fund – a 501c3 swindle. Like most NGOs, this link is hidden all the way at the bottom of the page where very few people will notice it.

This looks promising!  But before we click on the link, check out that disclaimer in tiny lawyer’s print at the very bottom of the page:

DSA professes it was ‘Shocked! Shocked!’ to “discover” that it somehow shared the same website developer – revealingly named “NationBuilder” (thus dovetailing with DSA’s political strategy for the capitalist USA) – as the Trump campaign. They promise to fix this sometime soon.  Don’t hold your breath waiting for them to do it!

That is rich isn’t it?  So the tail of the Democratic Party donkey – the DSA – hired the same people to develop their organization’s website as did the Trump campaign.  How eerily similar to the Hillary campaign’s brilliant strategy to build up Trump during the primaries – so that they would have an opponent that would be easier to defeat!  How’d that work out for them?  It would be hilarious… if so many workers lives did not hang in the balance.

OK let’s click on the “DSA Fund” link and see where it takes us…

Let’s see – we found the Fund – where are the financials? Let’s check the “Donate” button…

Click on that “Donate” button and…

There’s nothing here! No list of sponsors, just a desperate claim that they really really never take money from corporations or from the government. Let’s keep looking.

Well we seem to have come to an end.  There are no financials on the website!  No IRS statements as to who gets paid how much and who made the top donations – no transparency at all!  They claim that all their funding comes from memberships.  “We receive no corporate sponsorships or government money”.  Keep that claim in mind as we continue our search.

Let’s see if we can find a list of their top staff and advisers and see if we can find any clues as to who’s really running the show at DSA.

If we go back to the home page and click on the “Resources and tools” button what do we get?

Another dead end. Nothing here. Let’s take a look at the bottom of the page…

Hmm.  we didn’t notice this before: in the red box to the right… “Our Leadership and Structure”.  Click on that link…

Nice! Here’s a list of the famous Democratic Party stalwarts who are “Honorary Chairs” of the DSA. Ex-CIA agent Gloria Steinem; Cornel West, famous pal of US war criminal Barack Obama; and other fascinating loyal servants of the US capitalist class.

This is all fascinating and completely predictable – though you might wonder why the DSA keeps the leading lights of their organization hidden under such a huge barrel!  Why don’t they have this list of the most famous people in their organization on the masthead of their homepage?  Probably because it would let all the young workers and students know right away that the DSA is a cozy home for some of the most tiring, long-sold-out Democratic Party donkeys of all time – like the famous Democratic Party donkey Cornel West and the execrable “ex”-CIA “asset” and forever Democrat Gloria Steinem.

Good old Cornel West, ‘secret’ DSA member and open, fawning sycophantic fanboy of then-future US war criminal Barack Obama, shucks and jives for Obama at Harlem’s Apollo Theater during Obama’s first election campaign.

… and here’s West again during the second Obama run for President… only this time he’s being slapped down by his Commander-in-Chief for West’s tepid criticism of war criminal Obama. After this public slapdown, West sulkily started to denounce Obama saying he was “disappointed” in him.  In this picture you can almost actually see the moment when West’s little Obama-worshipping heart breaks into a million little piecesCornel West’s hopelessly compromised political compass can’t find political magnetic North.

OK, well, this is all in good fun.  Oh… by the way… are you surprised we called Gloria Steinem a CIA agent?  This famous bourgeois feminist proudly admitted it and you can read all about her “work” for the Agency in books like “The Mighty Wurlitzer” by Hugh Wilford.  And you can read about it  here and here  as well.  Or maybe just watch this:

So beware, young socialist workers and students in the DSA: your organization has as one of its leading lights a “former” CIA agent who actually ratted out socialist students to the CIA – setting them up for political persecution, torture or murder when they returned to their respective countries!

It has been reported that Gloria Steinem tried to recruit the DSA’s Michael Harrington to join her CIA operation but for some reason he declined.  We wonder: what made Steinem think Harrington was good CIA material?  Had her CIA handlers asked her to attempt to recruit him?  In “The Mighty Wurlitzer” Hugh Wilford says that Harrington had originally been penciled in as one of four CIA recruits being sent to disrupt the USSR-sponsored Vienna Youth Festival that was held in Austria in July of 1959 (fellow anti-communist and future National Security Advisor to Jimmy Carter Zbigniew Brzezinski would have been one of his traveling companions).  Harrington suspected that the free trip  being dangled in front of him by the physically attractive Steinem was being bankrolled by the U.S. State Department, which in his mind would have been a deal too good to pass up.  Wilford quotes Harrington as saying, cryptically: “Had I dreamed that the CIA was involved there would have been no issue.”  After discussing the opportunity with the leaders of the Socialist Party’s youth group (of which Harrington was then a member) it was decided that, after all, “Lenin had accepted railroad transportation from the Kaiser when he went from Switzerland to Russia in 1917” – so he should accept the offer from the “State Department” while making it clear that he would criticize both the capitalist and communist bloc nations at the festival.  “The offer of help was withdrawn formally” Harrington said, “and I paid my own way, having nothing to do with what turned out to be the CIA’s dirty games.” (Source for Harrington quotes and description of Steinem and Brzezinski’s activities: “The Mighty Wurlitzer” by Hugh Wilford; Harvard University Press, 2008, pages 141-148)

That may be the truth or may not be.  But it still doesn’t explain why the fully exposed ex-CIA agent Steinem is given a leading role in the DSA of 2017 as one of its celebrity members.  Her role at the Vienna Youth Festival is well-known: she coordinated the anticommunist propaganda operation via her CIA-front news organization the “Independent Research Service”.  Meanwhile her fellow CIA plant Brzezinski – a Polish nationalist – enjoyed himself by strutting through the USSR section of the festival deliberately bumping into Russians and yelling “Out of my way, Russian pig!” in an attempt to provoke a fight between the Russian and Polish delegates.  Steinem was a crucial part of a typical CIA dirty tricks team out to do all it could to disrupt a youth festival – but that only endears Steinem to the anti-communist DSA leadership all the more.

You campaigned for Hillary? No problem: the DSA welcomes you with open arms!  Hillary really stood up for the rights of workers by backing her husband’s “get tough on crime” legislation that destroyed the lives of millions of black and Hispanic workers and their kids and by overseeing the destruction of Libya as Secretary of State.  Whatever you say, Delores.

Lifelong Democrat and United Farm Workers union leader Dolores Huerta – who counts among her BFFs war criminals Bill and Hillary Clinton – is also listed as a DSA celebrity.  She has spent her entire life luring workers into the clutches of their enemies in the Democratic Party – from vicious anti-communist Robert F. Kennedy to vicious war criminal Barack Obama to vicious war criminal Hillary Clinton – Huerta has campaigned for all of them.  Huerta and UFW leader Cesar Chavez led farm workers in endless capitalist-friendly grape boycotts rather than lead hard class struggle on behalf of farm laborers in California, even going so far as to organize anti-immigrant picket lines that physically attacked migrant farm workers and reporting “illegal” workers to the US Immigration and Naturalization Service!  THIS is why the worker-hating Democratic Party politicians love having their photos taken with Dolores Huerta!

What else did we find out?  Well, he won’t  mention that he’s a DSA member in his own political autobiography but ‘secret’ DSA member Harold Meyerson –  editor of the liberal rag “The American Prospect” (which he co-founded with Bill Clinton’s Secretary of Labor Robert Reich) – is on the list as well.  If he’s not a staunch supporter of the Democratic Party, who is?

But let’s get back to who actually funds the DSA.  Remember how the DSA claimed that they never took money from corporations or governments?  Well, they lied.  Since 1980 the DSA has organized several major public conferences that were financed not by membership dues but by some infamous US Government-backed foundations like the “German Marshall Fund” whose current board of directors includes the former head of the US Department of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff and former CIA head Michael Morell.  We know these guys weren’t sitting on the board of the German Marshall Fund back in 1980 – god knows what US government criminals were – but it is a true sign of the depravity of the leadership of the DSA today that they proudly and fondly brag about their connection with this sinister organization even to this day.

DSA still brags about how its 1980 conference – which featured such repulsive Cold Warriors as former French “Socialist” President Francois Mitterrand and German Social-Democratic Party Chancellor Willy Brandt – and was financed by the “German Marshall Fund” which is an organization that is so close to the CIA it is indistinguishable from it to this very day.

“Democratic Socialists of America Fund (DSA Fund) endeavors to demonstrate how an awareness of social democratic and democratic socialist values and policies would strengthen the quality of policy debates in the U.S. The Fund also works to introduce young activists to the history and traditions of democratic socialism […]  In December 1980, IDS organized a three-day conference, ‘Eurosocialism and America’ that brought over 2000 U.S.-based activists to D.C. to meet with the leaders of social democratic and democratic socialist political movements from Europe and the developing world to explore how democratic socialist policy alternatives could benefit the U.S. Speakers included Willy Brandt, Francois Mitterrand, Olaf Palme [sic], and Michael Manley. Temple University Press published a volume of conference papers. The German Marshall Fund supported the organizing of the conference with a grant of $95,000.”

What a rogues’ gallery!  What a fine example of “democratic socialist values” are embodied in such hideous creatures from the black lagoon of the Second International as Francois Mitterrand,  and Willy Brandt!  And if that is not enough, the DSA accepted a grant from the “German Marshall Fund” – one of the most right-wing organizations in Washington D.C. which is today populated with such stellar proponents of “democratic socialist values” as

German Marshall Fund Advisory Council Member: former US Dept. of Homeland Security honcho Michael Chertoff.  SOURCE:

former Dept. of Homeland Security head Michael Chertoff and

Conservative pundit Bill Kristol, ex-CIA chief Michael Morell: these are the kinds of people the DSA “socialists” call their friends. SOURCE: German Marshall Fund/Alliance For Securing Democracy website.

former CIA head Michael Morell!   If the DSA had any decency they would have buried the memory of this monstrous gathering of Cold War criminals out in their political back 40.  But no; there it is, proudly placed on their website in 2017 as the pinnacle of their past achievements as an organization!

Now we know that back in 1980 these people were not heading up the GMA/AFSD Advisory Council.  But the organization hasn’t changed its stripes, just its personnel.  At the time that the DSA accepted the grant from the German Marshall Fund it was headed by one Robert Gerald Livingston: a lifelong servant of the US capitalist class and its imperialist government who had worked on Nixon’s National Security Council under then- Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in 1972/73 – at the time when Kissinger and the CIA were working hand-in-glove with Chilean General Augusto Pinochet and his fascist allies to overthrow the “socialist” government of Salvador Allende.  During that coup – and the subsequent political terrorism against leftist and union workers that followed it – tens of thousands of people were murdered.   But what did that mean to Cold Warrior/State Department Socialist Michael Harrington?  When it comes to defending the capitalist system from actual revolutionary socialists the DSA is more than willing to throw down with some of the most vicious enemies of the working class.

We don’t have time to research the rest of the organizations that have funded the DSA’s proudest achievements of the past 40 years; now that you see how we ran down all this information on the funding of fake NGOs like the DSA maybe you can take a whack at uncovering some more of their strange bedfellows.  All we can say to those of you who are considering the DSA as a potential viable alternative to predatory capitalism is: you are wasting your time.  If you really want to fight for the interests of the working class get in touch with us.

—  IWPCHI

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Great French Revolution – “L’Autrichienne”: The Treachery of Marie-Antoinette and Its Historical Parallels

As part of our study of the French Revolution we have come across many references to the “innocence” of the last French Queen, Marie-Antoinette and to the alleged “savagery” of the French revolutionaries who ordered her execution in 1793.  Ever since the day of her execution she has been the subject of hagiographic publications that extol her beauty, her romantic nature and her alleged “kindness” and which portray her as a victim of the “excesses” committed by the revolutionary leaders of the French Revolution.

These romanticised portrayals of this haughty and treacherous monarchist are to be expected of the writings of the deposed French aristocracy who were Marie’s contemporaries.  But what can we say of the modern-day writers on this subject, who live in nation-states whose working classes long ago deposed the royal excrescences and established bourgeois republican rule on the ashes of their respective monarchies?  How depraved does one have to be to pine for the “good old days” of the absolute monarchs?  These vicious swine lived in luxury, squeezing every penny they could out of the peasantry, leaving the peasants to starve year after year.  Though the legend of Marie-Antionette’s statement “let them eat cake” may be apocryphal, Kropotkin (in his “The Great French Revolution”) tells us of how similar brutal statements made by other representatives of the landed aristocracy were commonplace:  he quotes the Governor of Dijon telling a gathering of starving peasants: “The grass has sprouted,  go to the fields and browse on it”!   During the final years of the Bourbon monarchy of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette, the entire French nation was reduced to starvation while the royal family, the nobility, proprietors of landed estates and the clergy feasted on delicacies – while the workers and peasants were denied even scraps of bread to subsist on.  Only those who have forgotten, or who never learned of the extreme misery that was imposed by the Kings and Queens of old upon the vast majority of the population of their respective countries can shed tears over the well-deserved fate of Austrian Marie-Antoinette, whom the French workers and peasants dubbed “L’Autrichienne” – “The Austrian Bitch”.  The French workers and peasants did not reach that level of hatred for the Queen and the entire French aristocracy overnight: it took well over a decade of brutal suffering at the hands of the Bourbons and their ruthless tax collectors, jailers and executioners before their hatred of the monarchy reached its breaking point.

The many letters written by Marie-Antoinette that still exist are the subject of a great deal of this romanticism of the French Queen hated by the vast majority of her subjects; hagiographers focus on the alleged “romantic” escapades of this Austrian despot as if she was just a beautiful and frivolous victim of her noble birth and an innocent voluptuary.  But in fact, those very same letters reveal what a vicious, treacherous and deadly threat Marie and her royal court were to the workers and peasants of France.  Her hagiographers would have us believe that as the French Revolution progressed, Marie-Antoinette became more and more a pitiable, helpless victim of the events that swirled around her.  In fact she was one of the very centers of counter-revolutionary intrigue plotting the execution of the revolutionary French workers and peasants who had launched the Revolution and who were working inexorably to throw off the yoke of the French monarchy that had enslaved and brutalized the masses for centuries – and it is these same letters that prove this fact beyond doubt.

History has produced many interesting personalities representative of the same social classes that appear and reappear in different countries in different epochs but often with surprising similarities so profound that if you were simply to describe the machinations of these people without stating who they were or what country they were from you might well identify any one of them with the works of the others.  As Marxists know, this is because there are roles that are played out by the representatives of the various actors in any class society that are delimited by the levels of development of the productive forces of that society in a given stage of its development.  Thus, the roles of the various elements of feudal societies tend to act in strikingly similar ways, constrained as they are to play the roles history has assigned them.  So it is we find amazing similarities between three Queens who lived and died in three consecutive centuries, who never had occasion to meet their immediate predecessor and could not have been personally influenced by them outside of the study of their histories: Queen Henrietta-Maria of England (wife of the doomed Charles I, born in France, died in 1669); Marie-Antoinette (Austrian born 1755, executed 1793); and Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna of Russia (born in German Empire in 1872; executed 1918).  The last two of these vicious despots have had mountains of bullshit published about them romanticising their lives and making martyrs out of these women who urged on their respective King and Tsar to ruthlessly crush the workers and peasants who opposed their monstrous reigns.  They would have happily seen the land of their adopted nations soaked in the blood of millions of peasants and workers if that was necessary in order to save their monarchies.  These are not idle claims; they are incontrovertible truths preserved in the private letters they exchanged with their husbands and with other representatives of their respective court camarillas who were actively conspiring to drown the rising of the masses in blood.

Readers of this blog will know that we have published a chapter of anarchist Peter Kropotkin’s excellent 2-volume history “The Great French Revolution” recently, in honor of Bastille Day.  The book is excellent, and throughout the book Kropotkin quite accurately describes the treachery of Marie-Antoinette, often referring to her letters sent to various co-conspirators among the French aristocracy in exile as well as to her benefactors in Germany who were preparing to invade France to save the Bourbon monarchy.  What Kropotkin does not make clear is that those very letters contain irrefutable proof that, far from being a frivolous innocent victim of the times, Marie-Antoinette was an active conspirator against the Revolution: from 1789 to her execution four years later she was writing in multiple ciphers in invisible ink to her co-conspirators throughout Europe, using ciphers she had personally worked out and maintained with those correspondents.  These letters reveal that she was in direct contact with the German generals who were preparing to invade France and who had vowed to slaughter every revolutionary worker and peasant they could lay hands on.

In undertaking this profound act of conscious treason against the citizens of France, it is astonishing to see that she was imitating the treachery of Charles I’s consort Henrietta-Maria, who a hundred years before had carried on a secret correspondence with her doomed husband in the years leading up to his execution – even while he was imprisoned and under 24-hour surveillance.  How these secret communications of the two Queens were carried out are described in detail in two very interesting monographs we have run across on the Internet.

Irrefutable proof of the active espionage and conspiratorial activities of the “innocent” Marie-Antoinette against the workers and peasants of France during the Great French Revolution continued right up until the moment of her execution.  This evidence alone more than justifies the execution of “L’Autrichienne”.   SOURCE: cryptiana.web.fc2.com

And here is the astonishingly similar evidence against Queen Henrietta-Maria:

Queen Henrietta’s conspiratorial correspondence with soon-to-be-executed Charles I would have justified a similar fate for her had she been captured by Cromwell’s forces during the English Civil War.   SOURCE:  cryptiana.web.fc2.com

In both cases these resourceful women were able to carry out their secret correspondence while either they or their correspondents were under tight security and 24-hour surveillance.  The many ways in which Charles I was able to bribe and convince multiple servants, guards and other visitors to undertake this very dangerous work is a case study in the threat posed by a deposed member of the ruling class of any era, showing how capable they are of manipulating weak members of the revolutionary classes to carry out espionage activities on their behalf.  Truly, there was only one way to put an end to Charles I’s endless plots against the Cromwellian revolutionaries.  Likewise with Marie-Antoinette and Louis XVI: they maintained their correspondence with their aristocratic relatives and French exiles who were preparing to invade France from neighboring countries in order to drown the Revolution in blood and restore the monarchy.  Nothing short of their executions could have put a final end to their truly monstrous conspiracies against the people of France.

Perhaps it is no coincidence in the case of Marie-Antoinette that she followed so closely the methods used by her historical doppelgänger in the English Civil War of a century and a half earlier.  Kropotkin notes that Louis XVI, on being imprisoned at the Tuileries on 6 October 1789 by the heroic revolutionary masses of Paris, ” asked for the history of Charles I to be brought to him from his library”.

Only the Bolsheviks were stalwart enough revolutionaries who had studied these lessons of history so well that they fully recognized the living threat posed by the captured Tsar and Tsarina and thus completely isolated them from their supporters inside and outside of revolutionary Russia.  But as every living monarch poses a direct threat of the restoration of a deposed monarchy should the counter-revolution gain the upper hand against the revolution, it became necessary to end the ruthless Romanov dynasty in the only way a hereditary despotism can be truly ended.   We shed no tears over these despots who, in all of their cases, presided over the wanton torture, execution and massacre of thousands of peasants and workers during their brutal reigns.  And we publish this as a warning to all future worker-revolutionaries that, in a revolution, one of the worst mistakes that can be made by the revolutionaries is to be too magnanimous to the mortal enemies of the working class.

—- IWPCHI

U2 Frontman Bono and His @ONE Organization Fingered by US Special Ops Commander as Collaborators With Pentagon

Bono and equally repulsive Bob Geldof shaking hands with US war criminal George W. Bush.

(UPDATED 24/25 July 2017) – We have always despised the third-rate “punk” band U2’s decidedly third-rate music as being far below the standard set by the top bands of the British Punk Invasion of the late 1970s.  The very name of the band – U2 – the name of an infamous spy plane used by the US CIA to spy on the USSR during the late 1950s and early 1960s – caused suspicion among “punks” at the time it strangely emerged on the music scene, just as did “The Police” (that was another very strange name for a “punk” band and aroused our personal suspicions at the time).

It is now well known that the US Government and its secret assassination wing the CIA created pro-capitalist “cultural” organizations designed to oppose the influence of pro-working class organizations sponsored and/or influenced by the USSR.  The  “Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF)” lured many willing – and many unsuspecting – writers and bourgeois intellectuals and academics into its fold.  It has been supposed that the CIA’s operations in this area have long since been abandoned.  But recent revelations – like this one – indicate that this is not true.

During the War in Iraq of 2004, the US Government announced that it was launching propaganda operations designed to influence the “Arab street” to support the objectives of US imperialism as it rampaged throughout the Mideast, slaughtering civilian men, women and children.  But behind the scenes of these well-known propaganda operations of the US Government, it appears that many other operations were being undertaken to influence the minds of American and Western European youth to support the criminal objectives of the US capitalist class and their blood-soaked military.

Popular music has always been a way for the widely hated US Government to reach the “hearts and minds” of the workers subliminally.  During the 1950s and 1920s the US Government sought to segregate record releases as well as radio broadcasts into separate racial categories so as to keep the working class divided and thus more easily manipulated.  Until the rise of the Communist- and Trotskyist- Party-influenced Civil Rights Movement of the late 1940s and 1950s, music and the arts were kept segregated by the owners of newspapers, radio stations and record companies.  Almost every attempt of black and white youth to come together to enjoy rock-and-roll concerts during the 1950s was met with police-state violence ranging from refusal to allow the concerts to occur to physical attacks on the audience and performers.

In the late 1950s and 1960s the US Government sponsored “cultural exchange” programs in which famous US jazz musicians were sent to the USSR as ambassadors of the “free world” to attempt to show the workers of socialist nation-states what they were missing.  Dizzy Gillespie, Benny Goodman, Louis Armstrong and many others very controversially volunteered to allow themselves to be pawns in the global culture war that accompanied the “Cold War”.

In the 1960s, rock bands who opposed the war in Vietnam were placed under US police-state surveillance and their members were arrested and thrown in jail at the slightest pretext for doing so.  The FBI’s murderous COINTELPRO operation was unleashed against members of the Jefferson Airplane, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, John Lennon and Yoko Ono and many other “anti-war” musicians.

In the late 1970s the pages of the “counter-culture” magazine “Rolling Stone” – a magazine that was originally one of the primary mouthpieces of US youth opposition to the Vietnam War – were turned into recruitment posters to lure workers into the US war machine.  During the late 1970s and 1980s it was ads from the US Army that kept Rolling Stone afloat financially (we cancelled our subscription and refused to read this pro-war rag).

So how is it that the frontman of the incomprehensibly popular rock band “U2” would ignore all that horrible precedent in order to make common cause with a US military that has been committing war crimes without cessation since World War II?  What motivates a citizen of Ireland like Bono to join hands with the most murderous military to rampage across the globe since Hitler’s Wehrmacht?

Bono is the head of one of the myriad of fake non-governmental organizations (NGOs)  that in fact are sponsored and backed by top capitalists and governmental organizations of imperialist nation-states like the US and England.  Bono fronts two of these:  RED  – an AIDS activism organization; and  ONE which is his “humanitarian aid” organization now seeking to partner with the US Special Operations Command – one of the most murderous branches of the US military, responsible for carrying out assassinations and terrorist attacks against the many enemies of the US capitalist class.

Though it is true that both of these organizations have done some commendable work in their respective areas of concern, charities like this effectively cover up for the fact that it is the capitalist system itself that is responsible for the terrible human suffering that takes place in the world.  By collaborating with governments and military organizations that are primarily responsible for the vast majority of human suffering in the world, both ONE and RED serve to place a big “happy face” over the crimes being committed every day by the US Government and its military.  By organizing these NGOs these do-gooders trick millions of workers into believing that their pathetically small charitable donations are going to end poverty or make a serious impact on saving the lives of AIDS victims when in fact they allow the capitalist system to continue to kill tens of millions of people every year and prevent workers from organizing to get rid of the capitalist system which is the basis for all this unnecessary suffering.

Charity work can not solve these enormous problems; it will take a socialist revolution in the US and throughout the capitalist world to finally put the needs of hundreds of millions of suffering people at the forefront of all human activity on this planet.  A socialist United States of America would set as its goal not the mere “alleviation of extreme poverty” – which is the timid goal set by the United Nations Millennium Goals fraud, but to completely end poverty once and for all.  That would not be accomplished by penny-pinching charity but by a systematic planned effort to nationalize the pharmaceutical industry and then  mass-produce drugs  to ship to any place on Earth where they are needed – for free.  We would also send doctors and nurses and construction workers and all the supplies necessary to build hospitals, clinics and medical schools throughout the “third world” and train the workers there to become the medical professionals that would eradicate every preventable disease that now ravages much of the world’s 7 billion people.  Capitalist charity doesn’t solve poverty and human suffering – IT PROLONGS IT AND GUARANTEES ITS PERPETUATION!

Bono’s monumental ego probably leads him to believe, quite naively, that he is influencing organizations like SOCOM to be more “humanitarian”: but in fact it is Bono and his ONE organization that are being used quite openly and cynically to put a false humanitarian face on one of the most murderous ruling classes in world history: the US capitalist class and their mass-slaughtering war machine.  Not only does Bono reveal his own vast naiveté in doing this; he also exposes every one of ONE and RED’s international representatives to very legitimate reprisals against anyone who works with the murderous US military machine.  In short, Bono’s crappy politics are placing the lives of every decent person in his aid organizations at risk.

Here we present to our readers the open admission by none other than Four-Star General Raymond “Tony” Thomas, Commander, US Special Operations Command that his blood-soaked organization has been openly recruited by the idiot Bono to help him develop his “humanitarian aid” organization @ONE.  It was not the US military that sought to work with Bono: it was BONO who sought out the assistance of nothing less than the brutal US Special Operations Command to help him bring “humanitarian aid” to the desperate and starving people of the world.  This is like asking an organization representing wolves to come to the aid of an organization representing sheep!

SOCOM’s General Raymond Anthony “Tony” Thomas III isn’t the sweet and convivial guy he pretends to be in this video.  In fact he has been a key participant and leader of many of US imperialism’s most bloody and ruthless military operations of the past 40 years: from the  cowardly invasion of the tiny island of Grenada in 1983 to the savage and shameless invasion of Panama in 1989 to prevent US-backed strongman Manuel Noriega from spilling the beans on US Military/CIA drug trafficking operations in South and Central America during the Iran-Contra scandal; to the savage wars and counter-intelligence operations being run to this day by SOCOM in Iraq,  Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Libya and elsewhere.  Gen. Thomas – that nice smiling, friendly fan of U2 – is in fact a blood-soaked war criminal, a lifelong servant of the mass-murdering US capitalist class!  There could be no better proof that the pathetic petit-bourgeois reformist Bono can’t tell his ass from a hole-in-the-ground politically than that he should seek to enlist US war criminal Gen. Thomas of SOCOM as a “humanitarian ally”!

In this amazing video, the head of the US Special Operations Command expresses his own astonishment that a rock star such as Bono would ask to work hand-in-glove with the US military.  But we wonder if this kind of co-operation between U2 and the US military hasn’t been going on since U2 was created and suddenly appeared out of nowhere in the late 1970s, during a punk-rock upsurge in which U2 seemed at the time to be totally out of sync with.  Is it possible that in a “Congress For Cultural Freedom”-like propaganda operation, U2 were created – or at least co=opted and then promoted – by UK and US intelligence agencies in order to create political pressure against the IRA and to get them to disarm and become the lame, housebroken “loyal opposition” they currently are?  And then once that mission was accomplished, U2 were used to create the US and UK-govt sponsored NGO @ONE which has just now been revealed as a collaborator of the US war machine?  You be the judge.  We just found out about this ourselves today so we are only now beginning our investigation into this scandal.

If you take the time to watch the entire video you will see that US War Criminal Gen. Thomas makes several far more important revelations about the US joint military operations with the Kurds in Iraq and Syria as well as an ominous threat of impending military attacks on the besieged North Korean degenerated workers state.   He represents the ongoing threat to human civilization posed by the continuation of the rule of the US capitalist class and their mass-murdering military.

— IWPCHI

[From the original YouTube channel of the Aspen Institute at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wCqCnLjSx7M&t=30m26s:

“SOCOM: Policing The World – The Aspen Institute

Streamed live on Jul 21, 2017

“While this Administration’s approach to foreign crises mostly differs from that of its predecessor, there is at least one conspicuous exception, a heavy reliance on Special Operations Forces. Their commander explains the role SOCOM and SOF perennially play in responding to flash points around the globe and building partner-nation capacity to provide for their own defense.

“Featuring:
Raymond “Tony” Thomas, Commander, US Special Operations Command
Moderator: Catherine Herridge, Chief Intelligence Correspondent, Fox News”

U2 revelations begin at 30:05 of video.  Our transcript of the interview relating to the revelations about U2 follows below:

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

[Dialogue on this subject begins at 30:05 of video – IWPCHI]

Moderator: “Just to shift gears; you’re always looking for new partnerships, right?

Raymond “Tony” Thomas, Commander, US Special Operations Command: “Always”.

Mod: “Always. OK. So you met recently with the singer Bono or his team… right?

Thomas: Right

Mod: … you gonna work with him? Not …

Thomas: I hope so! This was str…

Mod: on stage, or…

Thomas: … this was strange… and, uh, actually, a member of his team’s here today. And we, we met with him to try to put some meat on these bones. Uh, but the interesting thing… uh… Bono came to… to Tampa with U2 – and I’m a huge U2 fan – so this… it was pretty easy when he said “hey can I meet with and General Luttell [ph – IWPCHI]?” [SOCOM shit laughs and gives “thumbs-up” sign] Yeah, rock on, let’s do this.

Mod: [laughs]

Audience: [laughs]

Thomas: … so, uh… so before one of the best concerts I could ever imagine, he spent about 40 minutes describing all his efforts through the “ONE Foundation” that he’s trying to do around the world. And the fascinating part was… he acknowledged… he said… early on, he said: “the last group of people I ever expected to be hanging around with was a bunch of military people!” And I thought about that for a second and I thought: “Yeah, because you have the perception that a lot of others do: that we’re just a bunch of knuckle-dragging pipe-swingers um… who… “call on ’em when you need to do something desperate but otherwise, how could they be helpful?” His [Bono’s – IWPCHI] late-life epiphany (he’s 54 years old) is that “you know what? All the humanitarian assistance that I’m trying to push around the world doesn’t happen without security; you [the US military – IWPCHI] seem to provide security and you seem to want to stabilize places – either ahead of time, before a conflict or as we’re wrapping up post-hostilities – might we do things together?” And I’m thinking: “Absolutely! You’ve got an 8-million-person organization that runs the gamut of… of positive humanitarian activities… um… that need the trappings of security or that need that kind of… you know… synergy and symbiotic relationship… sign us up!” So we’re trying to actively… and we’re global, like he’s global… so it’s kind of a ‘match made in heaven’ in terms of the opportunity. Now, again, ask me six months from now um… “have you done anything more than admire U2 music more than you did before”…

Mod: [laughs]

Thomas: … um, I hope I can tell you “here’s where we’re actually moving out” and it’s… and it’s a great… kind of… you know… um… ah… match of… varied capabilities that they’re doing… um… that are proven to… a lot of humanity.

Mod: Your plan is to try and make something work, right?

Thomas: And, and I think it’s free money. So why, uh, why not? Uh… He literally is offering the entree for…to.. uh… for… to marry up with his activities, so… and there’s others out there like him that, uh, I think we have not taken advantage of in the past. They’re also turning their focus on – which absolutely plays to our strong suit or to our party effort. Um.. they’re about countering violent extremism.

100th Anniversary of the Russian Revolution: February 1917 – The Collapse of Czarism

We had originally intended to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Great October Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 by publishing articles month-by-month describing that month’s events as captured by one of the great Bolshevik leaders of 1917 Leon Trotsky in his incomparable “History of the Russian Revolution”.  For a number of reasons both technical and personal we have been unable to do this; however we hope to catch up with events in the next few days so we can get back on track with this series.

This installment goes back to February of 1917 and shows that the support for the Tsarist regime had completely collapsed long before Lenin, Trotsky and the other leading exiles had even returned to Russia.  The army, demoralized by the complete inability of the regime to supply it with even the most basic necessities at the front, had largely ceased to obey the orders of the generals.  The urban intelligentsia too sought nothing less than a constitutional monarchy with some kind of parliamentary system.  The working class and peasantry, bled white by the war, had become completely insurrectionary.  There was not a square foot of soil of Russia on which the Tsar and his regime could find firm footing or a place of safe refuge, as we shall see.

Contrary to the lying propaganda which we have always been subjected to by the anti-communist US Govt and its hireling historians, the Russian Revolution was not some kind of secret coup plot hatched by the Bolsheviks under Lenin’s tutelage.  The Russian Revolution occurred because it was simply no longer possible for the people of Russia to go on living in the old ways under the old regime for one day longer.  No small workers party – as the Bolshevik Party was in February 1917 – can magically stage a successful overthrow of any government without the support of at least a large section of the working class and the military – and in the case of Russia, the peasantry as well.  It was precisely the fact that the Bolsheviks alone among all the many contending political parties in Russia possessed the well-thought out revolutionary Marxist programme for the overthrow of Tsarism and the establishment of an egalitarian socialist workers republic that was necessary to obtain the support of the long-suffering Russian workers, soldiers and peasants.   Without a revolutionary Leninist vanguard party possessed of a truly revolutionary Marxist/Leninist programme it would have been impossible for the Bolshevik Revolution to occur; and it is as true today as it was in 1917 that until the workers of the United States organize themselves into a revolutionary socialist Leninist/Trotskyist vanguard party and successfully overthrows the rule of the US capitalist class – the most bloodthirsty regime on the planet today – we will remain trapped in the human slaughterhouse of imperialist capitalism until the next World War brings the entire human race to the brink of destruction.  The creation of a revolutionary socialist vanguard party of the working class right here in the USA is the most important task of our lifetimes.

This chapter of Trotsky’s “History of the Russian Revolution” describes how power was steadily stripped out of the hands of the Tsar and his ruling clique in February-March of 1917 by the insurgent workers, soldiers and peasants of Russia, with the Bolshevik Party playing just a small but very important and influential role among only a thin layer of the most politically advanced workers and soldiers.  The entire book can be read online at https://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1930/hrr/index.htm  Our text is taken from this online version.  Enjoy!

— IWPCHI

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

Chapter 6
The Death Agony
of the Monarchy

 

The dynasty fell by shaking, like rotten fruit, before the revolution even had time to approach its first problems. Our portrayal of the old ruling class would remain incomplete if we did not try to show how the monarchy met the hour of its fall.

The czar was at headquarters at Moghilev, having gone there not because he was needed, but in flight from the Petrograd disorders. The court chronicler, General Dubensky, with the czar at headquarters, noted in his diary: “A quiet life begins here. Everything will remain as before. Nothing will come of his (the czar’s) presence. Only accidental external causes will change anything …” On February 24, the czarina wrote Nicholas at headquarters, in English as always: “I hope that Duma man Kedrinsky (she means Kerensky) will be hung for his horrible speeches-it is necessary (war-time law) and it will be an example. All are thirsting and beseeching that you show your firmness.” On February 25, a telegram came from the Minister of War that strikes were occurring in the capital, disorders beginning among the workers, but measures had been taken and there was nothing serious. In a word: “It isn’t the first time, and won’t be the last!”

The czarina, who had always taught the czar not to yield, here too tried to remain firm. On the 26th, with an obvious desire to hold up the shaky courage of Nicholas, she telegraphs him: “It is calm in the city.” But in her evening telegram she has to confess: “Things are not going at all well in the city.” In a letter she says: “You must say to the workers that they must not declare strikes, if they do, they will be sent to the front as a punishment. There is no need at all of shooting. Only order is needed, and not to let them cross the bridges.” Yes, only a little thing is needed, only order! But the chief thing is not to admit the workers into the city-let them choke in the raging impotence of their suburbs.

On the morning of the 27th, General Ivanov moves from the front with the Battalion of St. George, entrusted with dictatorial powers – which he is to make public, however, only upon occupying Tsarskoe Selo. “It would be hard to imagine a more unsuitable person.” General Denikin will recall later, himself having taken a turn at military dictatorship, “a flabby old man, meagrely grasping the political situation, possessing neither strength, nor energy, nor will, nor austerity.” The choice fell upon Ivanov through memories of the first revolution. Eleven years before that he had subdued Kronstadt. But those years had left their traces; the subduers had grown flabby, the subdued, strong. The northern and western fronts were ordered to get ready troops for the march on Petrograd; evidently everybody thought there was plenty of time ahead. Ivanov himself assumed that the affair would be ended soon and successfully; he even remembered to send out an adjutant to buy provisions in Moghilev for his friends in Petrograd.

On the morning of February 27, Rodzianko sent the czar a new telegram, which ended with the words: “The last hour has come when the fate of the fatherland and the dynasty is being decided.” The czar said to his Minister of the Court, Frederiks: “Again that fat-bellied Rodzianko has written me a lot of nonsense, which I won’t even bother to answer.” But no. It was not nonsense. He will have to answer.

About noon of the 27th, headquarters received a report from Khabalov of the mutiny of the Pavlovsky, Volynsky, Litovsky and Preobrazhensky regiments, and the necessity of sending reliable troops from the front. An hour later from the War Ministry came a most reassuring telegram: “The disorders which began this morning in certain military units are being firmly and energetically put down by companies and battalions loyal to their duty … I am firmly convinced of an early restoration of tranquility.” However, a little after seven in the evening, the same minister, Belyaev, is reporting that “We are not succeeding in putting down the military rebellion with the few detachments that remain loyal to their duty,” and requesting a speedy dispatch of really reliable troops-and that too in sufficient numbers “for simultaneous activity in different parts of the city.”

The Council of Ministers deemed this a suitable day to remove from their midst the presumed cause of all misfortunes – the half-crazy Minister of the Interior Protopopov. At the same time General Khabalov issued an edict – prepared in secrecy from the government – declaring Petrograd, on His Majesty’s orders, under martial law. So here too was an attempt to mix hot with cold – hardly intentional, however, and anyway of no use. They did not even succeed in pasting up the declaration of martial law through the city: the burgomaster, Balka, could find neither paste nor brushes. Nothing would stick together for those functionaries any longer; they already belonged to the kingdom of shades.

The principal shade of the last czarist ministry was the seventy-year old Prince Golytsin, who had formerly conducted some sort of eleemosynary institutions of the czarina, and had been advanced by her to the post of head of the government in a period of war and revolution. When friends asked this “good-natured Russian squire, this old weakling” – as the liberal Baron Nolde described him – why he accepted such a troublesome position, Golytsin answered: “So as to have one more pleasant recollection.” This aim, at any rate, he did not achieve. How the last czarist government felt in those hours is attested by Rodzianko in the following tale: With the first news of the movement of a crowd toward the Mariinsky Palace, where the Ministry was in session, all the lights in the building were immediately put out. (The government wanted only one thing – that the revolution should not notice it.) The rumour, however, proved false; the attack did not take place; and when the lights were turned on, one of the members of the czarist government was found “to his own surprise” under the table. What kind of recollections he was accumulating there has not been established.

But Rodzianko’s own feelings apparently were not at their highest point. After a long but vain hunt for the government by telephone, the President of the Duma tries again to ring up Prince Golytsin. The latter answers him: “I beg you not to come to me with anything further, I have resigned.” Hearing this news, Rodzianko, according to his loyal secretary, sank heavily in an armchair and covered his face with both hands.

My “God, how horrible! … Without a government … Anarchy … Blood …” and softly wept. At the expiring of the senile ghost of the czarist power Rodzianko felt unhappy, desolate, orphaned. How far he was at that moment from the thought that tomorrow he would have to “ head” a revolution!

The telephone answer of Golytsin is explained by the fact that on the evening of the 27th the Council of Ministers had definitely acknowledged itself incapable of handling the situation, and proposed to the czar to place at the head of the government a man enjoying general confidence. The czar answered Golytsin: “In regard to changes in the personal staff in the present circumstances, I consider that inadmissible. Nicholas.” Just what circumstances was he waiting for? At the same time the czar demanded that they adopt “the most decisive measures” for putting down the rebellion. That was easier said than done.

On the next day, the 28th, even the untamable czarina at last loses heart. “Concessions are necessary,” she telegraphs Nicholas. “The strikes continue; many troops have gone over to the side of the revolution. Alex.”

It required an insurrection of the whole guard, the entire garrison, to compel this Hessian zealot of autocracy to agree that “concessions are necessary.” Now the czar also begins to suspect that the “fat-bellied Rodzianko” had not telegraphed nonsense. Nicholas decides to join his family. It is possible that he is a little gently pushed from behind by the generals of the staff, too, who are not feeling quite comfortable.

The czar’s train travelled at first without mishap. Local chiefs and governors came out as usual to meet him. Far from the revolutionary whirlpool, in his accustomed royal car, surrounded by the usual suite, the czar apparently again lost a sense of the close coming crisis. At three o’clock on the 28th, when the events had already settled his fate, he sent a telegram to the czarina from Vyazma: “Wonderful weather. Hope you are well and calm. Many troops sent from the front. With tender love. Niki.” Instead of the concessions, upon which even the czarina is insisting, the tenderly loving czar is sending troops from the front. But in spite of that “wonderful weather,” in just a few hours the czar will stand face to face with the revolutionary storm. His train went as far as the Visher station. The railroad workers would not let it go farther: “The bridge is damaged.” Most likely this pretext was invented by the courtiers themselves in order to soften the situation. Nicholas tried to make his way, or they tried to get him through, by way of Bologoe on the Nikolaevsk railroad; but here, too, the workers would not let the train pass. This was far more palpable than all the Petrograd telegrams. The Czar had broken away from headquarters, and could not make his way to the capital. With its simple railroad “pawns” the revolution had cried “check” to the king!

The court historian Dubensky, who accompanied the Czar in his train, writes in his diary: “ Everybody realises that this midnight turn at Visher is a historical night … To me it is perfectly clear that the question of a constitution is settled; it will surely be introduced … Everybody is saying that it is only necessary to strike a bargain with them, with the members of the Provisional Government.” Facing a lowered semaphore, behind which mortal danger is thickening, Count Frederiks, Prince Dolgoruky, Count Leuchtenberg, all of them, all those high lords, are now for a constitution. They no longer think of struggling. It is only necessary to strike a bargain, that is, try to fool them again as in 1905.

While the train was wandering and finding no road, the Czarina was sending the Czar telegram after telegram, appealing to him to return as soon as possible. But her telegrams came back to her from the office with the inscription in blue pencil: “Whereabouts of the addressee unknown.” The telegraph clerks were unable to locate the Russian czar.

The regiments marched with music and banners to the Tauride Palace. A company of the Guards marched under the command of Cyril Vladimirovich, who had quite suddenly, according to Countess Kleinmichel, developed a revolutionary streak. The sentries disappeared. The intimates were abandoning the palace. “Everybody was saving himself who could,” relates Vyrubova. Bands of revolutionary soldiers wandered about the palace and with eager curiosity looked over everything. Before they had decided up above what should be done, the lower ranks were converting the palace of the Czar into a museum.

The Czar – his location unknown – turns back to Pskov, to the headquarters of the northern front, commanded by the old General Ruszky. In the czar’s suite one suggestion follows another. The Czar procrastinates. He is still reckoning in days and weeks, while the revolution is keeping its count in minutes.

The poet Blok characterised the Czar during the last months of the monarchy as follows: “Stubborn, but without will; nervous, but insensitive to everything; distrustful of people, taut and cautious in speech, he was no longer master of himself. He had ceased to understand the situation, and did not take one clearly conscious step, but gave himself over completely into the hands of those whom he himself had placed in power.” And how much these traits of tautness and lack of will, cautiousness and distrust, were to increase during the last days of February and first days of March!

Nicholas finally decided to send – and nevertheless evidently did not send – a telegram to the hated Rodzianko stating that for the salvation of the fatherland he appointed him to form a new ministry, reserving, however, the ministries of foreign affairs, war and marine for himself. The Czar still hoped to bargain with “them”: the “many troops,” after all, were on their way to Petrograd.

General Ivanov actually arrived without hindrance at Tsarskoe Selo: evidently the railroad workers did not care to come in conflict with the Battalion of St. George. The general confessed later that he had three or four times found it necessary on the march to use fatherly influence with the lower ranks, who were impudent to him: he made them get down on their knees. Immediately upon the arrival of the “dictator” in Tsarskoe Selo, the local authorities informed him that an encounter between the Battalion of St. George and the troops would mean danger to the czar’s family. They were simply afraid for themselves, and advised the dictator to go back without detraining.

General Ivanov telegraphed to the other “dictator,” Khabalov, in Petrograd ten questions, to which he received succinct answers: We will quote them in full, for they deserve it:

Ivanov’s questions: Khabalov’s replies:
1. How many troops are in order and how many are misbehaving? 1. I have at my disposal in the Admiralty building four companies of the Guard, five squadrons of cavalry and Cossacks, and two batteries the rest of the troops have gone over to the revolutionists, or by agreement with them are remaining neutral. Soldiers are wandering through the towns singly or in bands disarming officers.
2. Which railroad stations are guarded? 2. All the stations are in the hands of the revolutionists and strictly guarded by them.
3. In what parts of the city is order preserved? 3. The whole city is in the hands of the revolutionists. The telephone is not working, there is no communication between different parts of the city.
4. What authorities are governing the different parts of the city? 4. I cannot answer this question.
5. Are all the ministries functioning properly? 5. The ministers have been arrested by the revolutionists.
6. What police forces are at your disposal at the present moment? 6. None whatever .
7. What technical and supply institutions of the War Department are now in your control? 7. I have none.
8. What quantity of provisions at is at your disposal? 8. There are no provisions my disposal. In the city on February 5 there were 5,600,000 pounds of flour in store.
9. Have many weapons, artillery and military stores fallen into the hands of the mutineers? 9. All the artillery establishments are in the hands of the revolutionists.
10. What military forces and the staffs are in your control? 10. The chief of the Staff of District is in my personal control. With the other district administrations I have no connections.

Having received this unequivocal illumination as to the situation, General Ivanov “agreed” to turn back his echelon without detraining to the station “Dno.” [1] “Thus,” concludes one of the chief personages of the staff, General Lukomsky, “nothing came of the expedition of General Ivanov with dictatorial powers but a public disgrace.”

That disgrace, incidentally, was a very quiet one, sinking unnoticed in the billowing events. The dictator, we may suppose, delivered the provisions to his friends in Petrograd, and had a long chat with the Czarina. She referred to her self-sacrificing work in the hospitals, and complained of the ingratitude of the army and the people.

During this time news was arriving at Pskov by way of Moghilev, blacker and blacker. His Majesty’s own bodyguard, in which every soldier was known by name and coddled by the royal family, turned up at the State Duma asking permission to arrest those officers who had refused to take part in the insurrection. Vice-Admiral Kurovsky reported that he found it impossible to take any measures to put down the insurrection at Kronstadt, since he could not vouch for the loyalty of a single detachment. Admiral Nepenin telegraphed that the Baltic Fleet had recognised the Provisional Committee of the State Duma. The Moscow commander-in-chief, Mrozovsky, telegraphed: “A majority of the troops have gone over with artillery to the revolutionists. The whole town is therefore in their hands. The burgomaster and his aide have left the city hall.” Have left means that they fled.

All this was communicated to the Czar on the evening of March 1. Deep into the night they coaxed and argued about a responsible ministry. Finally, at two o’clock in the morning the Czar gave his consent, and those around him drew a sigh of relief. Since they took it for granted that this would settle the problem of the revolution, an order was issued at the same time that the troops which had been sent to Petrograd to put down the insurrection should return to the front. Ruszky hurried at dawn to convey the good news to Rodzianko. But the czar’s clock was way behind. Rodzianko in the Tauride Palace, already buried under a pile of democrats, socialists, soldiers, workers’ deputies, replied to Ruszky: “Your proposal is not enough; it is now a question of the dynasty itself. . . . Everywhere the troops are taking the side of the Duma, and the people are demanding an abdication in favour of the Heir with Mikhail Alexandrovich as regent.” Of course. the troops never thought of demanding either the Heir or Mikhail Alexandrovich. Rodzianko merely attributed to the troops and the people that slogan upon which the Duma was still hoping to stop the revolution. But in either case the Czar’s concession had come too late: “The anarchy has reached such proportions that I (Rodzianko) was this night compelled to appoint a Provisional Government. Unfortunately, the edict has come too late …” These majestic words bear witness that the President of the Duma had succeeded in drying the tears shed over Golytsin. The czar read the conversation between Rodzianko and Ruszky, and hesitated, read it over again, and decided to wait. But now the military chiefs had begun to sound the alarm: the matter concerned them too a little!

General Alexeiev carried out during the hours of that night a sort of plebiscite among the commanders-in-chief at the fronts. It is a good thing present-day revolutions are accomplished with the help of the telegraph, so that the very first impulses and reactions of those in power are preserved to history on the tape. The conversations of the czarist field-marshals on the night of March 1-2 are an incomparable human document. Should the czar abdicate or not? The commander-in-chief of the western front, General Evert, consented to give his opinion only after Generals Ruszky and Brussilov had expressed themselves. The commander-in-chief of the Roumanian front, General Sakharov, demanded that before he express himself the conclusions of all the other commanders-in-chief should be communicated to him. After long delays this valiant chieftain announced that his warm love for the monarch would not permit his soul to reconcile itself with an acceptance of the “base suggestion”; nevertheless, “with sobs” he advised the Czar to abdicate in order to avoid “still viler pretensions.” Adjutant-General Evert quite reasonably explained the necessity for capitulation: “I am taking all measures to prevent information as to the present situation in the capital from penetrating the army, in order to protect it against indubitable disturbances. No means exist for putting down the revolution in the capitals.” Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolajevich on the Caucasian front beseeched the Czar on bended knee to adopt the “supermeasure” and renounce the throne. A similar prayer came from Generals Alexeiev and Brussilov and Admiral Nepenin. Ruszky spoke orally to the same effect. The generals respectfully presented seven revolver barrels to the temple of the adored monarch. Fearing to let slip the moment for reconciliation with the new power, and no less fearing their own troops, these military chieftains, accustomed as they were to surrendering positions, gave the czar and the High Commander-in-Chief a quite unanimous counsel: retire without fighting. This was no longer distant Petrograd against which, as it seemed, one might send troops; this was the front from which the troops had to be borrowed.

Having listened to this suggestively circumstanced report, the Czar decided to abdicate the throne which he no longer possessed. A telegram to Rodzianko suitable to the occasion was drawn up: “There is no sacrifice that I would not make in the name of the real welfare and salvation of my native mother Russia. Thus I am ready to abdicate the throne in favor of my son, and in order that he may remain with me until he is of age, under the regency of my brother, Mikhail Alexandrovich. Nicholas.” This telegram too, however, was not dispatched, for news came from the capital of the departure for Pskov of the deputies Guchkov and Shulgin. This offered a new pretext to postpone the decision. The Czar ordered the telegram returned to him. He obviously dreaded to sell too cheap, and still hoped for comforting news – or more accurately, hoped for a miracle. Nicholas received the two deputies at twelve o’clock midnight March 2-8. The miracle did not come, and it was impossible to evade longer. The czar unexpectedly announced that he could not part with his son – what vague hopes were then wandering in his head? – and signed an abdication in favor of his brother. At the same time edicts to the Senate were signed, naming Prince Lvov President of the Council of Ministers, and Nikolai Nikolaievich Supreme Commander-in-Chief. The family suspicions of the czarina seemed to have been justified: the hated “Nikolasha” came back to power along with the conspirators. Guchkov apparently seriously believed that the revolution would accept the Most August War Chief. The latter also accepted his appointment in good faith. He even tried for a few days to give some kind of orders and make appeals for the fulfillment of patriotic duty. However the revolution painlessly removed him.

In order to preserve the appearance of a free act, the abdication was dated three o’clock in the afternoon, on the pretense that the original decision of the Czar to abdicate had taken place at that hour. But as a matter of fact that afternoon’s “decision,” which gave the sceptre to his son and not to his brother, had been taken back in anticipation of a more favorable turn of the wheel. Of that, however, nobody spoke out loud. The Czar made a last effort to save his face before the hated deputies, who upon their part permitted this falsification of a historic act – this deceiving of the people. The monarchy retired from the scene preserving its usual style; and its successors also remained true to themselves. They probably even regarded their connivance as the magnanimity of a conqueror to the conquered.

Departing a little from the phlegmatic style of his diary, Nicholas writes on March 2: “This morning Ruszky came and read me a long conversation over the wire with Rodzianko. According to his words the situation in Petrograd is such that a ministry of the members of the State Duma will be powerless to do anything, for it is being opposed by the social-democratic party in the person of a workers’ committee. My abdication is necessary. Ruszky transmitted this conversation to Alexeiev at headquarters and to all the commanders-in-chief. Answers arrived at 12.30. To save Russia and keep the army at the front, I decided upon this step. I agreed, and they sent from headquarters the text of an abdication. In the evening came Guchkov and Shulgin from Petrograd, with whom I talked it over and gave them the document amended and signed. At 1 o’clock in the morning I left Pskov with heavy feelings; around me treason, cowardice, deceit.”

The bitterness of Nicholas was, we must confess, not without foundation. It was only as short a time ago as February 28, that General Alexeiev had telegraphed to all the commanders-in-chief at the front: “ Upon us all lies a sacred duty before the sovereign and the fatherland to preserve loyalty to oath and duty in the troops of the active army.” Two days later Alexeiev appealed to these same commanders-in-chief to violate their “loyalty to oath and duty.” In all the commanding staff there was not found one man to take action in behalf of his Czar. They all hastened to transfer to the ship of the revolution, firmly expecting to find comfortable cabins there. Generals and admirals one and all removed the czarist braid and put on the red ribbon. There was news subsequently of one single righteous soul, some commander of a corps, who died of heart failure taking the new oath. But it is not established that his heart failed through injured monarchist feelings, and not through other causes. The civil officials naturally were not obliged to show more courage than the military – each one was saving himself as he could.

But the clock of the monarchy decidedly did not coincide with the revolutionary clocks. At dawn of March 8, Ruszky was again summoned to the direct wire from the capital: Rodzianko and Prince Lvov were demanding that he hold up the czar’s abdication, which had again proved too late. The installation of Alexei – said the new authorities evasively – might perhaps be accepted – by whom? – but the installation of Mikhail was absolutely unacceptable. Ruszky with some venom expressed his regret that the deputies of the Duma who had arrived the night before had not been sufficiently informed as to the aims and purposes of their journey. But here too the deputies had their justification. “Unexpectedly to us all there broke out such a soldiers’ rebellion as I never saw the like of,” explained the Lord Chamberlain to Ruszky, as though he had done nothing all his life but watch soldiers’ rebellions. “To proclaim Mikhail emperor would pour oil on the fire and there would begin a ruthless extermination of everything that can be exterminated.” How it whirls and shakes and bends and contorts them all!

The generals silently swallowed this new “vile pretension” of the revolution. Alexeiev alone slightly relieved his spirit in a telegraphic bulletin to the commanders-in-chief: “The left parties and the workers’ deputies are exercising a powerful pressure upon the President of the Duma, and there is no frankness or sincerity in the communications of Rodzianko.” The only thing lacking to the generals in those hours was sincerity.

But at this point the Czar again changed his mind. Arriving in Moghilev from Pskov, he handed to his former chief-of-staff, Alexeiev, for transmission to Petrograd, a sheet of paper with his consent to the handing over of the sceptre to his son. Evidently he found this combination in the long run more promising. Alexeiev, according to Denikin’s story, went away with the telegram and … did not send it. He thought that those two manifestos which had already been published to the army and the country were enough. The discord arose from the fact that not only the Czar and his counsellors, but also the Duma liberals, were thinking more slowly than the revolution.

Before his final departure from Moghilev on March 8, the Czar, already under formal arrest, wrote an appeal to the troops ending with these words: “Whoever thinks now of peace, whoever desires it, that man is a traitor to the fatherland, its betrayer.” This was in the nature of a prompted attempt to snatch out of the hands of liberalism the accusation of Germanophilism. The attempt had no result: they did not even dare publish the appeal.

Thus ended a reign which had been a continuous chain of ill luck, failure, misfortune, and evil-doing, from the Khodynka catastrophe during the coronation, through the shooting of strikers and revolting peasants, the Russo-Japanese war, the frightful putting-down of the revolution of 1905, the innumerable executions, punitive expeditions and national pogroms and ending with the insane and contemptible participation of Russia in the insane and contemptible world war.

Upon arriving at Tsarskoe Selo, where he and his family were confined in the palace, the czar, according to Vyrubova, softly said: “There is no justice among men.” But those very words irrefutably testify that historic justice, though it comes late, does exist.


The similarity of the Romanov couple to the French royal pair of the epoch of the Great Revolution is very obvious. It has already been remarked in literature, but only in passing and without drawing inferences. Nevertheless it is not at all accidental, as appears at the first glance, but offers valuable material for an inference.

Although separated from each other by five quarter centuries, the Czar and the King were at certain moments like two actors playing the same rôle. A passive, patient, but vindictive treachery was the distinctive trait of both – with this difference, that in Louis it was disguised with a dubious kindliness, in Nicholas with affability. They both make the impression of people who are overburdened by their job, but at the same time unwilling to give up even a part of those rights of which they are unable to make any use. The diaries of both, similar in style or lack of style, reveal the same depressing spiritual emptiness.

The Austrian woman and the Hessian German form also a striking symmetry. Both Queens stand above their Kings, not only in physical but also in moral growth. Marie Antoinette was less pious than Alexandra Feodorovna, and unlike the latter was passionately fond of pleasures. But both alike scorned the people, could not endure the thought of concessions, alike mistrusted the courage of their husbands, looking down upon them – Antoinette with a shade of contempt, Alexandra with pity.

When the authors of memoirs, approaching the Petersburg court of their day, assure us that Nicholas II, had he been a private individual, would have left a good memory behind him, they merely reproduce the long-ago stereotyped remarks about Louis XVI, not enriching in the least our knowledge either of history or of human nature.

We have already seen how Prince Lvov became indignant when, at the height of the tragic events of the first revolution, instead of a depressed Czar, he found before him a “jolly, sprightly little man in a raspberry-coloured shirt.” Without knowing it, the prince merely repeated the comment of Gouvernor Morris writing in Washington in 1790 about Louis: “What will you have from a creature who, situated as he is, eats and drinks and sleeps well, and laughs and is as merry a grig as lives?”

When Alexandra Feodorovna, three months before the fall of the monarchy, prophesies: “All is coming out for the best, the dreams of our Friend mean so much!” she merely repeats Marie Antoinette, who one month before the overthrow of the royal power wrote: “ I feel a liveliness of spirit, and something tells me that we shall soon be happy and safe.” They both see rainbow dreams as they drown.

Certain elements of similarity of course are accidental, and have the interest only of historic anecdotes. Infinitely more important are those traits of character which have been grafted, or more directly imposed, on a person by the mighty force of conditions, and which throw a sharp light on the interrelation of personality and the objective factors of history.

“He did not know how to wish: that was his chief trait of character,” says a reactionary French historian of Louis. Those words might have been written of Nicholas: neither of them knew how to wish, but both knew how to not wish. But what really could be “wished” by the last representatives of a hopelessly lost historic cause? “Usually he listened, smiled, and rarely decided upon anything. His first word was usually No.” Of whom is that written? Again of Capet. But if this is so, the manners of Nicholas were an absolute plagiarism. They both go toward the abyss “with the crown pushed down over their eyes.” But would it after all be easier to go to an abyss, which you cannot escape anyway, with your eyes open? What difference would it have made, as a matter of fact, if they had pushed the crown way back on their heads?

Some professional psychologist ought to draw up an anthology of the parallel expressions of Nicholas and Louis, Alexandra and Antoinette, and their courtiers. There would be no lack of material, and the result would be a highly instructive historic testimony in favor of the materialist psychology. Similar (of course, far from identical) irritations in similar conditions call out similar reflexes; the more powerful the irritation, the sooner it overcomes personal peculiarities. To a tickle, people react differently, but to a red-hot iron, alike. As a steam-hammer converts a sphere and a cube alike into sheet metal, so under the blow of too great and inexorable events resistances are smashed and the boundaries of “individuality” lost.

Louis and Nicholas were the last-born of a dynasty that had lived tumultuously. The well-known equability of them both, their tranquillity and “gaiety ” in difficult moments, were the well-bred expression of a meagreness of inner powers, a weakness of the nervous discharge, poverty of spiritual resources. Moral castrates, they were absolutely deprived of imagination and creative force. They had just enough brains to feel their own triviality, and they cherished an envious hostility toward everything gifted and significant. It fell to them both to rule a country in conditions of deep inner crisis and popular revolutionary awakening. Both of them fought off the intrusion of new ideas, and the tide of hostile forces. Indecisiveness, hypocrisy, and lying were in both cases the expression, not so much of personal weakness, as of the complete impossibility of holding fast to their hereditary positions.

And how was it with their wives? Alexandra, even more than Antoinette, was lifted to the very heights of the dreams of a princess, especially such a rural one as this Hessian, by her marriage with the unlimited despot of a powerful country. Both of them were filled to the brim with the consciousness of their high mission: Antoinette more frivolously, Alexandra in a spirit of Protestant bigotry translated into the Slavonic language of the Russian Church. An unlucky reign and a growing discontent of the people ruthlessly destroyed the fantastic world which these two enterprising but nevertheless chicken-like heads had built for themselves. Hence the growing bitterness, the gnawing hostility to an alien people that would not bow before them; the hatred toward ministers who wanted to give even a little consideration to that hostile world, to the country; hence their alienation even from their own court, and their continued irritation against a husband who had not fulfilled the expectations aroused by him as a bridegroom.

Historians and biographers of the psychological tendency not infrequently seek and find something purely personal and accidental where great historical forces are refracted through a personality. This is the same fault of vision as that of the courtiers who considered the last Russian Czar born “unlucky.” He himself believed that he was born under an unlucky star. In reality his ill-luck flowed from the contradictions between those old aims which he inherited from his ancestors and the new historic conditions in which he was placed. When the ancients said that Jupiter first makes mad those who whom he wishes to destroy, they summed up in superstitious form a profound historic observation. In the saying of Goethe about reason becoming nonsense – “Vernunft wird Unsinn” – this same thought is expressed about the impersonal Jupiter of the historical dialectic, which withdraws “reason” from historic institutions that have outlived themselves and condemns their defenders to failure. The scripts for the rôles of Romanov and Capet were prescribed by the general development of the historic drama; only the nuances of interpretation fell to the lot of the actors. The ill-luck of Nicholas, as of Louis, had its roots not in his personal horoscope, but in the historical horoscope of the bureaucratic-caste monarchy. They were both, chiefly and above all, the last-born offspring of absolutism. Their moral insignificance, deriving from their dynastic epigonism, gave the latter an especially malignant character.

You might object: if Alexander III had drunk less he might have lived a good deal longer, the revolution would have run into a very different make of czar, and no parallel with Louis XVI would have been possible. Such an objection, however, does not refute in the least what has been said above. We do not at all pretend to deny the significance of the personal in the mechanics of the historic process, nor the significance in the personal of the accidental. We only demand that a historic personality, with all its peculiarities, should not be taken as a bare list of psychological traits, but as a living reality grown out of definite social conditions and reacting upon them. As a rose does not lose its fragrance because the natural scientist points out upon what ingredients of soil and atmosphere it is nourished, so an exposure of the social roots of a personality does not remove from it either its aroma or its foul smell.

The consideration advanced above about a possible long life of Alexander III is capable of illuming this very problem from another side. Let us assume that this Alexander III had not become mixed up in 1904 in a war with Japan. This would have delayed the first revolution. For how long? It is possible that the “revolution of 1905” – that is, the first test of strength the first breach in the system of absolutism – would have been a mere introduction to the second, republican, and the third, proletarian revolution. Upon this question more or less interesting guesses are possible, but it is indubitable in any case that the revolution did not result from the character of Nicholas II, and that Alexander III would not have solved its problem. It is enough to remember that nowhere and never was the transition from the feudal to the bourgeois régime made without violent disturbances. We saw this only yesterday in China; today we observe it again in India. The most we can say is that this or that policy of the monarchy, this or that personality of the monarch, might have hastened or postponed the revolution and placed a certain imprint on its external course.

With what angry and impotent stubbornness charisma tried to defend itself in those last months, weeks and days, when its game was hopelessly lost! If Nicholas himself lacked the will the lack was made up by the Czarina. Rasputin was an instrument of the action of a clique which rabidly fought for self-preservation. Even on this narrow scale the personality of the Czar merges in a group which represents the coagulum of the past and its last convulsion. The “policy” of the upper circles a Tsarskoe Selo, face to face with the revolution, were but the reflexes of a poisoned and weak beast of prey. If you chase a wolf over the steppe in an automobile, the beast gives out at last and lies down impotent. But attempt to put a collar on him and he will try to tear you to pieces, or at least wound you.  And indeed what else can he do in the circumstances?

The liberals imagined there was something else he might do. Instead of coming to an agreement with the enfranchised bourgeoisie in good season and thus preventing the revolution — such is liberalism’s act of accusation against the last czar – Nicholas stubbornly shrank from concessions, and even in the last days when already under the knife of destiny, when every minute was to be counted, still kept on procrastinating, bargaining with fate, and letting slip the last possibilities. This all sounds convincing. But how unfortunate that liberalism, knowing so accurately how to save the monarchy, did not know how to save itself!

It would be absurd to maintain that czarism never and in no circumstances made concessions. It made them when they were demanded by the necessity of self-preservation. After the Crimean defeat, Alexander II carried out the semi-liberation of the peasants and a series of liberal reforms in the sphere of land administration, courts, press, educational institutions, etc. The czar himself expressed the guiding thought of this reformation: to free the peasants from above lest they free themselves from below. Under the drive of the first revolution Nicholas II granted a semi-constitution. Stolypin scrapped the peasant communes in order to broaden the arena of the capitalist forces. For czarism, however, all these reforms had a meaning only in so far as the partial concession preserved the whole – that is, the foundations of a caste society and the monarchy itself. When the consequences of the reform began to splash over those boundaries the monarchy inevitably beat a retreat. Alexander II in the second half of his reign stole back the reforms of the first half. Alexander III went still farther on the road of counter-reform. Nicholas II in October 1905 retreated before the revolution, and then afterward dissolved the Dumas created by it, and as soon as the revolution grew weak, made his coup d’état. Throughout three-quarters of a century – if we begin with the reform of Alexander II – there developed a struggle of historic forces, now underground, now in the open, far transcending the personal qualities of the separate Czars, and accomplishing the overthrow of the monarchy. Only within the historic framework of this process can you find a place for individual Czars, their characters, their “biographies.”

Even the most despotic of autocrats is but little similar to a “free” individuality laying its arbitrary imprint upon events. He is always the crowned agent of the privileged classes which are forming society in their own image. When these classes have not yet fulfilled their mission, then the monarchy is strong and self-confident. Then it has in its hands a reliable apparatus power and an unlimited choice of executives –because the more gifted people have not yet gone over into the hostile camp. Then the monarch, either personally, or through the mediation of a powerful favorite, may become the agent of a great and progressive historic task. It is quite otherwise when the sun of the old society is finally declining to the west. The privileged classes are now changed from organisers of the national life into a parasitic growth; having lost their guiding function, they lose the consciousness of their mission and all confidence in their powers. Their dissatisfaction with themselves becomes a dissatisfaction with the monarchy; the dynasty becomes isolated; the circle of people loyal to the death narrows down; their level sinks lower; meanwhile the dangers grow; new force are pushing up; the monarchy loses its capacity for any kin of creative initiative; it defends itself, it strikes back, it retreats; its activities acquire the automatism of mere reflexes. The semi Asiatic despotism of the Romanovs did not escape this fate.

If you take the czarism in its agony, in a vertical section, so to speak, Nicholas is the axis of a clique which has its roots the hopelessly condemned past. In a horizontal section of the historic monarchy, Nicholas is the last link in a dynastic chain. His nearest ancestors, who also in their day were merged in family, caste and bureaucratic collectivity – only a broader one – tried out various measures and methods of government order to protect the old social régime against the fate advancing upon it. But nevertheless they passed it on to Nicholas a chaotic empire already carrying the matured revolution in its womb. If he had any choice left, it was only between different roads to ruin.

Liberalism was dreaming of a monarchy on the British plan. But was parliamentarism born on the Thames by a peaceful evolution? Was it the fruit of the “free” foresight of a single monarch? No, it was deposited as the result of a struggle that lasted for ages, and in which one of the kings left his head at the crossroads.

The historic-psychological contrast mentioned above between the Romanovs and the Capets can, by the way, be aptly extended to the British royal pair of the epoch of the first revolution. Charles I revealed fundamentally the same combination of traits with which memoirists and historians have endowed Louis XVI and Nicholas II. “Charles, therefore, remained passive,” writes Montague, “yielded where he could not resist, betrayed how unwillingly he did so, and reaped no popularity, no confidence.” “He was not a stupid man,” says another historian of Charles Stuart, “but he lacked firmness of character … His evil fate was his wife, Henrietta, a Frenchwoman, sister of Louis XIII, saturated even more than Charles with the idea of absolutism.” We will not detail the characteristics of this third – chronologically first – royal pair to be crushed by a national revolution. We will merely observe that in England the hatred was concentrated above all on the queen, as a Frenchwoman and a papist, whom they accused of plotting with Rome, secret connections with the Irish rebels, and intrigues at the French court.

But England had, at any rate, ages at her disposal. She was the pioneer of bourgeois civilisation; she was not under the yoke of other nations, but on the contrary held them more and more under her yoke. She exploited the whole world. This softened the inner contradictions, accumulated conservatism, promoted an abundance and stability of fatty deposits in the form of a parasitic caste, in the form of a squirearchy, a monarchy, House of Lords, and the state church. Thanks to this exclusive historic privilege of development possessed by bourgeois England, conservatism combined with elasticity passed over from her institutions into her moral fibre. Various continental Philistines, like the Russian professor Miliukov, or the Austro-Marxist Otto Bauer, have not to this day ceased going into ecstasies over this fact. But exactly at the present moment, when England, hard pressed throughout the world, is squandering the last resources of her former privileged position, her conservatism is losing its elasticity, and even in the person of the Labourites is turning into stark reactionism. In the face of the Indian revolution the “socialist” MacDonald will find no other methods but those with which Nicholas II opposed the Russian revolution. Only a blind man could fail to see that Great Britain is headed for gigantic revolutionary earthquake shocks, in which the last fragments of her conservatism, her world domination, her present state machine, will go down without a trace. MacDonald is preparing these shocks no less successfully than did Nicholas II in time, and no less blindly. So here too, as we see, is no poor illustration of the problem of the rôle of the “free” personality in history.

But how could Russia with her belated development, coming along at the tail end of the European nations, with her meagre economic foundation underfoot, how could she develop an “elastic conservatism” of social forms-and develop it for the special benefit of professorial liberalism and its leftward shadow, reformist socialism? Russia was too far behind. And when world imperialism once took her in its grip, she had to pass through her political history in too brief a course. If Nicholas had gone to meet liberalism and replaced one with Miliukov, the development of events would have differed a little in form, not in substance. Indeed it was just in this way that Louis behaved in the second stage of the revolution, summoning the Gironde to power: this did not save Louis himself from guillotine, nor after him the Gironde. The accumulating social contradictions were bound to break through to the surface, breaking through to carry out their work of purgation. Before the pressure of the popular masses, who had at last brought into the open arena their misfortunes, their pains, intentions, passions, hopes, illusions and aims, the high-up combination of the monarchy with liberalism had only an episodic significance. They could exert, to be sure, an influence on the order of events maybe upon the number of actions, but not at all upon development of the drama nor its momentous climax.


Notes

1. The name of this station is also the Russian word meaning “bottom.” [Trans.]

The French Revolution Didn’t Start on Bastille Day: Peter Kropotkin’s “The Great French Revolution”

In the United States, workers have long been taught to believe that the greatest revolution of all times was of course the American Revolution of 1776 which overthrew monarchical rule in favor of the rule of the nascent bourgeoisie and landed slave-owning aristocracy of the thirteen English colonies in the New World.  But as world-historic and impressive as that revolution was, it was almost immediately surpassed by the much more thorough-going revolution it inspired in that King-ruled nation whose military aid to the American colonial rebels was the chief reason why the colonies won the war against Great Britain: France.

The military aid which the French King Louis XVI gave to the Americans essentially won the war for the revolutionaries when the French Navy – some 29 ships strong – appeared in Chesapeake Bay to slam the door shut on any hope Cornwallis had of escaping the trap that had been sprung upon him by George Washington and the numerically superior French troops and their officers at Yorktown in 1781.  There were more French soldiers with artillery present on the battlefield at this “Great American Victory” than there were Americans (up to 8800 French vs 8000 Americans – not counting the decisive 29 French ships of the line and their crews).  The French very magnanimously allowed Washington the honor of accepting Cornwallis’ surrender.

Yet the French aid to the American revolution came at a high cost for the French monarchy whose finances, in a precarious condition even before the American Revolution began, were driven to the breaking point by the war with England that was a result of the French aid to the rebellious colonists.  A series of bad harvests in France further reduced the taxes that could be levied on the people of France and created bread riots in their wake.  The ruthless French monarchy’s response to these uprisings of the starving French peasants for bread led to the collapse of support for the French monarchy which led inexorably to its complete collapse in 1789.

The story of how the economic and political crisis in France grew into one of the world’s greatest revolutions has received perhaps its greatest literary tribute by Russian anarchist Prince Peter Kropotkin in his book “The Great French Revolution”.  This book, which was recommended by none other than Vladimir Lenin, the leader of the even further-reaching Russian Bolshevik Revolution  whose 100th anniversary is being celebrated this year.  It was Lenin’s recommendation that put us on the trail of this book and we are pleased to present a chapter taken from the first volume of “The Great French Revolution” in which Kropotkin shows that the French revolution had roots that went far deeper into the French working class and peasantry than the American Revolution, whose leadership was from the beginning of hostilities dominated by the landed slaveowning aristocracy of the south and the wealthy merchants of the north.  Whenever the spirits of the revolutionary bourgeoisie sagged during the struggle against the counterrevolutionary forces of the deposed aristocracy of France, it was the poor workers – the sans-culottes – and the French peasantry who demanded that the most radical and intransigent revolutionaries be pushed forward into the key positions of leadership of the Revolution.  We hope you enjoy Chapter V – “The Spirit of Revolt: The Riots” from Volume One of Kropotkin’s “The Great French Revolution”.  — IWPCHI

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Excerpt from “The Great French Revolution” by Prince Peter Kropotkin

Chapter V: The Spirit of Revolt – The Riots

As is usual in every new reign, that of Louis XVI. began with some reforms. Two months after his accession Louis XVI. summoned Turgot1 to the ministry, and a month later he appointed him Controller-General of Finance.  He even supported him at first against the violent opposition that Turgot, as an economist, a parsimonious middle-class man and an enemy of the effete aristocracy, was bound to meet with from the Court party.

  Free trade in corn was proclaimed in September 1774,2 and statute labor was abolished in 1776, as well as the old corporations and guilds in the towns, which were no longer of any use except to keep up a kind of industrial autocracy, and by these measures hopes of reform were awakened among the people.  The poor rejoiced to see the breaking down of the toll-gates, which had been put up all over France, and prevented the free circulation of corn, salt and other objects of prime necessity. For them it meant the first breach in the odious privileges of the landowners […]

Finally, in August of 1779, mortmain and personal servitude were suppressed upon the King’s private estates, and the following year it was decided to abolish torture, which was used in the most atrocious forms established by the Ordinance of 1670.4  “Representative Government,” such as was established by the English after their revolution,5 and was advocated in the writings of the contemporary philosophers, also began to be spoken of.  With this end in view, Turgot had even prepared a scheme of provincial assemblies, to be followed later on by representative government for all France in which the propertied classes would have been called upon to constitute a parliament. Louis XVI. shrank from this proposal, and dismissed Turgot; but from that moment all educated France began to talk of a Constitution and national representation.6  However, it was no longer possible to elude the question of national representation, and when Necker7 became minister in July 1777, it came up again for discussion.  Necker, who understood very well the wishes of his master, and tried to bring his autocratic ideas into some accord with the requirements of finance, attempted to manoeuvre by proposing the introduction of provincial assemblies only and relegating the possibility of a national representation to the distant future.  But he, too, was met by a formal refusal on the part of the King. “Would it not be a happy contingency,” wrote the crafty financier, “that your Majesty, having become an intermediary between your estates and your people, your authority should only appear to mark the limits between severity and justice?”  To which Louis replied: “It is of the essence of my authority not to be an intermediary, but to be at the head.” It is well to remember these words in view of the sentimentalities concerning Louis XVI. which have been propagated by historians belonging to the party of reaction. Far from being the careless, inoffensive, good-natured person, interested only in hunting, that they wished to represent him, Louis XVI., for fifteen years, until 1789, managed to resist the necessity, felt and declared, for new political reforms to take the place of royal despotism and the abominations of the old regime.

  The weapon used by Louis XVI., in preference to all others was deceit. Only fear made him yield, and, using always the same weapons, deceit and hypocrisy, he resisted not only up to 1789, but even up to the last moment, to the foot of the scaffold. At any rate, in 1778, at a time when it was already evident to all minds of more or less perspicacity, as it was to Turgot and Necker, that the absolute power of the King had had its day, and that the hour had come for replacing it by some kind of national representation, Louis XVI. could never be
brought to make any but the feeblest concessions. He convened the provincial assemblies of the provinces of Berri and Haute-Guienne (1778 and 1779). But in the face of the opposition shown by the privileged classes, the plan of extending these assemblies to the other provinces was abandoned, and Necker was dismissed in 1781.

  The revolution in America had, meanwhile, helped also to awaken minds,
and to inspire them with a breath of liberty and republican democracy. On July 4, 1776, the English colonies in North America had proclaimed their independence, and the new United States were recognized by France in 1778, which led to a war with England that lasted until 1783.  All historians mention the effect which this war had on men’s minds.  There is, in fact, no doubt that the revolt of the English colonies and the constitution of the United States
exercised a far-reaching influence in France, and helped powerfully in arousing the revolutionary spirit.  We know, too, that the Declaration of Rights, drawn up by the young American States influenced the French revolutionists profoundly, and was taken by them as a model for their declaration.  It might be said also that the war in America, during which France had to build an entire fleet to oppose England’s, completed the financial ruin of the old
regime and
hastened its downfall.  But it is nevertheless certain that this war was also the beginning of those terrible wars which England soon waged against France, and the coalitions which she organised against the Republic.  As soon as England recovered from her defeats and felt that France was weakened by internal struggles, she used every means, open and secret, to bring about the wars which we shall see waged relentlessly from 1793 till 1815.

  All these causes for the Great Revolution8 must be clearly indicated, for like every event of primordial importance, it was the result of many causes, converging at a given moment, and creating the men who in their turn contributed to strengthening the effect of those causes.  But it must be understood that in spite of the events which prepared the Revolution, and in
spite of all the intelligence and ambitions of the middle classes, those ever-prudent people who would have would have gone on a long time waiting for a change if the people had not hastened matters.  The popular revolts, growing and increasing in number and assuming proportions quite unforeseeen, were the new elements which gave the middle class the power of attack which they themselves did not possess.

  The people had patiently endured misery and oppression under Louis XV.,
but as soon as that King died, in 1774, they began to revolt, knowing well that, with a change of masters at the palace, there comes an inevitable slackening of authority.  A continuous series of riots broke out between 1775 and 1777.

  These were the riots of hunger that had been repressed until then only by force. The harvest of 1774 had been bad, and bread was scarce.  Accordingly rioting broke out in April 1775.  At Dijon the people took possession of the homes of the monopolists, destroyed their furniture and smashed up their flour-mills.  It was on this occasion that the governor of the town – one of the superfine gentlemen of whom Taine has written with so much complacence – said to the people those fatal words which were so often to be repeated during the Revolution: “The grass has sprouted, go to the fields and browse on it.”  Auxerre, Amiens, Lille, followed Dijon.  A few days later the “robbers,” for so the majority of historians designate the famished rioters, having assembled at Pontoise, Passy and Saint-Germain with the intention of pillaging the granaries, turned their steps toward Versailles. Louis XVI. wanted to go out on the balcony of the palace to speak to them, to tell them that he would reduce the price of bread; but Turgot, like a true economist, opposed this. The reduction in the price of bread was not made. The “robbers,” in the meantime, entered Paris
and plundered the bakeries, distributing whatever food they could seize among the crowd; but they were dispersed by the troops, and two of the rioters were hanged at the Place de la Greve, and as they were being hanged they cried out that they were dying for the people.  Since that time the legend began to circulate in France about “robbers” overrunning the country – a legend that had such an important effect in 1789, as it furnished the middle classes in the
towns with a pretext for arming themselves.  And from that time also began the placards insulting the King and his ministers which were pasted up at Versailles, containing threats to execute the King the day after his coronation, and even to exterminate the whole of the royal family if bread remained at the same price. Forged governmental edicts, too, began to be circulated throughout the country. One of them asserted that the State Council had reduced the price of wheat
to twelve livres (francs) the measure.

  These riots were of course suppressed, but they had far-reaching consequences. Strife was let loose among the various parties. It rained pamphlets. Some of these accused the minister, while others spoke of a plot of the princes against the King, or made fun of the royal authority.  In short, with men’s minds already in a state of ferment, the popular outbreaks were the sparks which ignited the powder.  Concessions to the people, never dreamed of before, were openly discussed; public works were set on foot; taxes on milling were abolished, and this measure led the people of Rouen to declare that all manorial dues had been abolished, so that they rose in July to protest against ever paying them again.  The malcontents evidently lost no time and profited by the occasion to extend the popular risings.

  We have not the necessary documents for giving a full account of the popular insurrections during the reign of Louis XVI. – the historians did not trouble about them; the archives have not been examined, and it is only by accident that we learn that in such-and-such a place there were “disorders”.  Thus, there were riots of a somewhat serious nature in Paris, after the abolition of the trade-guilds in 17769 – and all over France, in the course of the same year – as a result of the false reports respecting the abolition of all obligations in
the matter of statute labor10 and dues claimed by the landowners.  But, according to the printed documents, it would appear also that there was a decrease in rioting in the years 1777 to 1783, the American war having perhaps something to do with this.

  However, in 1782 and 1783, the riots recommenced and from that time went on increasing until the Revolution. Poitiers revolted in 1782; in 1786 it was Vizille’s turn; from 1783 to 1789 rioting broke out in the Cevennes, the Vivarais and the Gevaudan. The malcontents, who were nicknamed mascarats, wanting
to punish the “practitioners” who sowed dissension among the peasants to incite them to go to law, broke into the law courts and into the houses of the notaries and attorneys and burned all the deeds and contracts. Three of the leaders were hanged, others were sent to penal servitude, but the disorders broke out afresh, as soon as the closing of the
parlements (Courts of Justice) furnished them with a new precedent11.  In 1786 it was Lyons that revolted12.
The silk-weavers went on strike; they were promised an increase of wages, but troops were called out, whereupon there was a fight and three of the leaders were hanged.  From that moment, up to the Revolution, Lyons became a hotbed of revolt, and in 1789 it was the rioters of 1786 who were chosen as electors.

  Sometimes these risings had a religious character; sometimes they were to
resist military enlistment – every levy of soldiers led to a riot, says Turgot; or it might be the salt tax against which the people rebelled, or the exactions of the tithes.  But revolts went on without intermission, and it was in the east, south-east and north-east – future hotbeds of the Revolution – that these revolts broke out in the greatest number.  They went on steadily growing in importance, and at last, in 1788, after the dissolution of the Courts of Justice,
which were called
parlements and were replaced by “Plenary Courts,” insurrections broke out in every part of France.

  It is evident that for the mass of the people there was not much to choose between a parlement and a “Plenary Court.”  If the parlements had refused sometimes to register edicts made by the King and his minister, they had on the other hand displayed no solicitude for the people. But the parlements had
shown opposition to the Court, that was enough; and when emissaries of the middle classes sought popular support for rioting, they were given it willingly, because it was a way of demonstrating against the Court and the rich.

  In the June of 1787 the Paris parlement had made itself very popular by refusing a grant of money to the Court.  The law of the country was that the edicts of the King should be registered by the parlement, and the Paris parlement unhesitatingly registered certain edicts concerning the corn trade, the convocation of provincial assemblies and statute labor.  But it refused to
register the edict which was to establish fresh taxes – a new “territorial subvention,” and a new stamp duty. Upon this the King convoked what was called a “Bed of Justice,” and compelled his edicts to be registered.  The
parlement protested, and so won the sympathy of the middle classes and the people.  There were crowds round the Courts at every sitting; clerks, curious idlers and common men collected there to applaud the members.  To stop this,
the King banished the
parlement to Troyes, and then riotous demonstrations began in Paris.  The popular hatred was then being directed against the princes chiefly, especially against the Duke d’Artois and the Queen, who was nicknamed “Madame Deficit”.

  The Exchequer Court of Paris (Cour des Aides), supported by the popular outburst, as well as by the provincial parlements and the Court of Justice, protested against this act of royal power, and, as the agitation was growing, the King was compelled to recall the exiled parlement.  This was done on September 9, and evoked fresh demonstrations in Paris, during which the minister Calonne13 was burnt in effigy.

  These disturbances were chiefly confined to the lower middle classes.
But in other localities they assumed a more popular character.

  In 1788 insurrections broke out in Brittany.  When the military commander
of Rennes and the Governor of the province went to the Breton
parlement to
announce the edict by which that body was abolished, the whole town turned out immediately.  The crowd insulted and hustled the two functionaries.  The people in their hearts hated the Governor, Bertrand de Moleville, and the middle classes profited by this to spread a rumor that the edict was all owing to the Governor.  “He is a monster that deserves to be strangled,” said one of the leaflets distributed among the crowd.  When he came out of the palace, therefore, they pelted him with stones, and after several attempts some one threw a cord with a slip-knot over him.  Fighting was about to begin – the young men in the crowd breaking through the ranks of soldiers – when an officer threw down his sword and fraternised with the people.

  By degrees troubles of the same kind broke out in several other towns in
Brittany, and the peasants rose in their turn when grain was being shipped at Quimper, Saint-Brieuc, Morlaix, Pont-l’Abbe, Lamballe and other places.  It is interesting to note the active part taken in these disorders by the students at Rennes, who from that time fraternised with the rioters14.  In Dauphine, especially at Grenoble, the insurrection assumed a still more serious character. As soon as the military commander, Clermont-Tonnerre, had promulgated the edict which dissolved the
parlement the people of Grenoble rose.  The tocsin was rung, and the alarm spreading quickly to the neighboring villages, the peasants hastened in crowds to the town.  There was a sanguinary affray and many were killed.  The commander’s guard was helpless and his palace was sacked.  Clermont-Tonnerre, with an axe held over his head, had to revoke the
royal edict.

  It was the people, and chiefly the women, who acted on this occasion.  As
to the members of the
parlement, the people had a good deal of trouble to find them.  They hid themselves, and wrote to Paris that the people had risen against their will, and when the people laid hands on them they were kept
prisoners – their presence giving an air of legality to the insurrection.  The women mounted guard over these arrested members, unwilling to trust them even to the men, lest they should be allowed to escape.

  The middle classes of Grenoble were in a state of terror.  During the night they organized a militia of citizens that took possession of the town gates as well as of some military posts, which they yielded to the troops soon after.  Cannon were trained on the rebels, while the parlement took advantage of the darkness to disappear.  From June 9 to 14 reaction triumphed, but on the 14th news came that there had been a rising at Besancon and that the Swiss soldiers had refused to fire on the people.  Upon this the people’s spirit revived, and it was proposed to convoke the Estates of the province.  But fresh reinforcements of troops having been sent from Paris the disturbance subsided by degrees.  The
agitation, however, kept up chiefly by the women, lasted some time longer15.

  Besides these two risings mentioned by the majority of the historians, many others broke out at the same time in Provence, Languedoc, Rousillon, Bearn, Flanders, Franche-Comte and Burgundy.  Even where no serious riots occurred advantage was taken of the prevailing excitement to keep up the discontent and to make demonstrations.

  At Paris, after the dismissal of the Archbishop of Sens, there were numerous demonstrations.  The Pont Neuf was guarded by troops, and several conflicts occurred between them and the people, of whom the leaders were, as Bertrand de Moleville remarks16, “those who later on took part in all the popular movements of the Revolution.”  Marie-Antoinette’s letter to the Count de Mercy should also be read in this connection.  It is dated August 24, 1788, and in it she tells him of her fears, and announces the retirement of the Archbishop of Sens and the steps she had taken to recall Necker; the effect produced on the Court by those riotous crowds can therefore be understood.  The Queen foresaw that this recall of Necker would lessen the King’s authority; she feared “that they may be compelled to nominate a prime minister,” but “the moment is pressing. It is very essential that Necker should accept.”171819

  Three weeks later, September 14, 1788, when the retirement of Lamoignon
became known, the riotings were renewed.  The mob rushed to set fire to the houses of the two ministers, Lamoignon and Brienne, as well as to that of Dubois.  The troops were called out, and in the Rue Melee and the Rue de Grenelle there was a horrible slaughter of people who could not defend themselves.  Dubois fled from Paris.  “The people themselves would execute justice,” said
Les deux amis de la liberte.  Later, still, in October 1788, when the parlement that had been banished to Troyes was recalled, “the clerks and the
populace” illuminated the Place Dauphine for several evenings in succession. They demanded money from the passers-by to expend on fireworks, and forced gentlemen to alight from their carriages to salute the statue of Henri Quatre20.
Figures representing Calonne, Breteuil21 and the Duchess de Polignac22
were burned.  It was also proposed to burn the Queen in effigy.  These riotous assemblies gradually spread to other quarters, and troops were sent to disperse them.  Blood was shed and many were killed in the Place de la Greve.  Those who were arrested, however, were tried by the
parlement judges, who let them off with light penalties.

  In this way the revolutionary spirit awoke and developed in the van of
the Great Revolution23.  The initiative came from the middle classes certainly – chiefly from the lower middle classes – but, generally speaking, the middle
classes took care not to compromise themselves, and the number of them who opposed the Court, more or less openly, before the convoking of the States-General was very limited.  If there had only been their few attempts at resistance France might have waited many years for the overthrow of royal despotism.  Fortunately a thousand circumstances impelled the masses to revolt.  And in spite of the fact that after every outbreak there were summary hangings, wholesale arrests and even torture for those arrested, the people did revolt, pressed on one side by their desperate misery, and spurred on by the
vague hopes of which the old woman spoke to Arthur Young24.  They rose in numbers against the Governors of provinces, tax-collectors, salt-tax agents and even against the troops, and by so doing completely disorganized the governmental machine.

  From 1788 the peasant risings became so general that it was impossible to provide for the expenses of the State, and Louis XVI., after having refused for fourteen years to convoke the representatives of the nation, lest his Kingly authority should suffer, at last found himself compelled to convoke, first the two Assemblies of Notables, and finally the States-General.

Source:
Prince Peter Kropotkin, “The Great French Revolution” Volume I,
Vanguard Press, May 1929 (2 volumes). Transcription by IWPCHI.

1Anne
Robert Jacques Turgot (1727-1781) – Known colloquially as “Turgot”
– French “progressive” economist and statesman. Appointed
Controller-General of Finance by Louis XVI, he proposed reforms to
the French system of government that would have created a
parliamentary system under a constitutional monarchy – and was
dismissed by Louis XVI as a result. Though he generally supported
its political ideals he unsuccessfully opposed French financial
support for the American revolutionary war “on grounds of
economy”. He ruthlessly suppressed the ‘guerre des farines’
(literally, ‘war of flour’ translated into English as ‘bread
riots’) that took place throughout France in May of 1775 as a
direct result of Turgot’s laissez-faire economic reforms of the
grain markets which led (then and now) to commodities speculators
buying up and hoarding grain in order to drive up prices (Turgot was
thus forced to abandon his own economic principles and restore state
control of the grain market). As an economist he was (is?)
considered to be an adherent to the “physiocratic” school of
economic theory in which agrarian, rural modes of production were
extolled as being morally superior to the pre-capitalist
manufacturing that was beginning to take place in major cities and
towns. This philosophy was perfectly suited to its time and the
predominance of agricultural over pre-industrial production under
late feudal period of European history. The Physiocrats proposed an
early form of laissez-faire economics that was based on rural
agriculture and on the idea that what motivated economic actors to
produce goods was primarily their pursuit of their own personal
interests; they imagined that by simply allowing free trade to exist
a balance would be achieved between the producers and their
exploiters (owners of land and merchants) which would allow everyone
to prosper. This completely discredited idea that free trade leads
to a more perfect and fair balance of trade between workers and
their exploiters is still one of the fundamental – and weakest –
‘principles’ of economics extolled by capitalist economists in
the 21st century. Turgot was one of the co-discoverers of
a fundamental truth of economic theory – the “law of diminishing
returns” – in which “successive applications of the variable
input will cause the product to grow, first at an increasing rate,
later at a diminishing rate until it reaches a maximum.” By
appointing Turgot as Controller -General Louis XVI was signalling
his own openness to progressive reforms of the French monarchical
system. The representatives sent to France by the 13 British
colonies that were to become the United States were so completely
taken in by this apparent openness to modern political and economic
ideas expressed by Louis XVI that they were tricked into believing
that he was a supporter of the revolutionary political ideals
espoused by the American revolutionaries of the late 1700s (which he
most definitely was not, as he would prove by his dismissal of
Turgot for his promotion of political ideas that ran parallel to
those of the leading American revolutionary political theorists).
[Note by IWPCHI. Sources: Wikipedia articles on “Anne Robert
Jacques Turgot”, “Physiocrats”, “Jacques Necker” and
“Flour War”.]

2Before
that the farmer could not sell his corn for three months after the
harvest, the lord of the manor alone being entitled to do that. It
was one of the feudal privileges, which enabled the lord to sell it
at a high price.

3Mortmain
(literally meaning ‘dead hand’) was a means by which landowners
could avoid honoring any feudal duties he was obligated to pay to
the King, by donating land to the Church and then recovering use of
the land by becoming a tenant of the Church. The monarchy was
thereby denied any income or tribute they would have been entitled
to had the land remained in private hands. Also, once land was
“donated” to the Church, it would remain in Church hands
forever. This practise resulted in the loss of a tremendous amount
of income and personal service due to the monarchy. It also over
time threatened to tremendously increase the wealth in land and
therefore the balance of power between the “three estates” that
existed in medieval European feudal society: mortmain benefitted the
ecclesiastical order in relation to the nobility and the peasantry.
– IWPCHI]

4Statute
of August 24, 1780. Breaking on the wheel existed still in 1785. The
parliaments, in spite of the Voltaireianism, and the general
refinement in the conception of life, enthusiastically defended the
use of torture, which was abolished definitely only by the National
Assembly. It is interesting to find (E. Seligman, La
justice en France pendant la Revolution,
p.
97) that Brissot, Marat and Robespierre by their writings
contributed to the agitation for the reform of the penal code.

5Kropotkin
refers to England’s anti-Catholic “Glorious Revolution” of
1688. [Note by IWPCHI]

6The
arguments upon which Louis XVI. took his stand are of the highest
interest. I sum them up here according to E. Samichon’s Les
Reformes sous Louis XVI.: assemblees provinciales et parlements.
The
King found Turgot’s schemes
dangerous,
and wrote: “Though coming from a man who has good ideas, his
constitution would overthrow the existing state.” And again,
further on: “The system of a rent-paying electorate would tend to
make malcontents of the non-propertied classes, and if these were
allowed to assemble they would form a hot-bed of disorder. … The
transition from the abolished system to the system M. Turgot now
proposes ought to be considered: we see well enough what is, but
only in our thoughts do we see what does not yet exist,
and
we must not make dangerous experiments if we do not see where they
will end.” Vide
also,
in Samichon’s Appendix A, the very interesting list of the chief
laws under Louis XVI. between 1774 and 1789.

7Jacques
Necker (1732- 1804) Swiss banker who became a French statesman and
finance minister for Louis XVI.

8N.B.:
Kropotkin refers here, of course to the Great French Revolution of
1789 which is the subject of this book. – IWPCHI

9This
cursory mention by Kropotkin of an event that was a serious blow
against the feudal version of the trade union movement and which
must have given an enormous impetus to petit-bourgeois and
proletarian support for political ideas involving the curtailing of
the power of the absolute monarchy is itself worthy of a book. If
you know of any on the subject please send the information to us. –
IWPCHI

10Statute
labor was (and is) compulsory unpaid labor required by the state or
(in feudal Europe, as in this example) by the landlord from
lower-class citizens (particularly from peasants). It exists in the
US today in an only slightly attenuated form as “workfare” and
prison labor programs in which refusal to perform the work required
can result in total loss of social benefits and/or a prison term or
(for people already imprisoned) an extension of their prison
sentence. – IWPCHI

11C.
de Vic and J. de Vaisette, Histoire generale du Languedoc,
continued by du Mege, 10 vols., 1840-1846

12Chassin,
Genie de la Revolution.

13Charles
Alexandre, vicomte de Calonne (1734-1802) Born into an upper-class
family, he was a lawyer considered to be “a man with notable
business abilities and an entrepreneurial spirit, while generally
unscrupulous in his political actions.” Louis XVI appointed him to
be “Controller-General of Finances” in the autumn of 1783 in
order to deal with the deteriorating financial crisis his monarchy
was faced with as a result of Louis’ monumental waste of funds on
luxurious living as well as rapidly mounting costs relating to the
war with England and with the rapidly deteriorating internal
political situation sweeping France. Almost every policy instituted
or attempted to be instituted by Calonne exacerbated the tensions
between the citizens of France and the monarchy. He was dismissed by
Louis in 1787 and exiled to Lorraine – and later on he exiled
himself to France’s bitter enemy Great Britain. He tried to make a
political comeback with the convocation of the Estates-General in
1789 but was refused entry to France. After the Revolution Calonne
joined the monarchist counterrevolutionaries assembling at Coblenz;
when they were defeated by the revolutionary French army under
Napoleon he returned to Great Britain. In 1802 his petition for
permission to return to France was granted by Napoleon; he died in
France a month after his return. – Note by IWPCHI Source: Wikipedia
article “Charles Alexandre de Calonne”

14Du
Chatelier, Histoire de la Revolution dans les departements de
l’ancienne Bretagne,
6
vols., 1836: vol. Ii pp. 60-70, 161, &c.

15Vic
and Vaissete, vol. x. p. 637.

16Vic
and Vaissete, p.136.

17J.
Feuillet de Conches, Lettres de Louis XVI., Marie-Antoinette
at Madame Elizabeth (Paris,
1864), vol. I. pp. 214-216:
The
Abbe has
written to you this evening, sir, and has notified my wish to you,”
wrote the Queen. “I think more than ever that the moment is
pressing, and that it is very essential that he (Necker) should
accept. The King fully agrees with me, and has just brought me a
paper with his own hand containing his ideas, of which I send you a
copy.” The next day she wrote again: “We must no longer
hesitate. If he can get to work tomorrow all the better. It is most
urgent. I fear that we may be compelled to nominate a prime
minister.”

18Many
of Marie-Antoinette’s letters sent during the revolutionary

period
were sent with enciphered text written in white ink; it is not known
if this technique was used in this particular letter, but at least
one of her letters to de Mercy were enciphered and written in this
type of invisible ink (Source:

cryptiana.web.fc2.com/code/fersen.htm.
Note by IWPCHI.)

19Necker
was recalled to the post of Controller-General of Finance on 25
August 1788. He was not appointed as Prime Minister until 16 July
1789 – two days after the storming of the Bastille. (Note by
IWPCHI sourced from Wikipedia article “Jacques Necker”.)

20Henri
Quatre – King Henry IV of France (1553-1610; ruled from 1589-1610;
assassinated by fanatic Catholic Francois Ravaillac . Known as
“Henry of Navarre” and “Good King Henry” he was fondly
remembered by the workers and peasants of France for his relatively
friendly attitude towards the poor. He is credited with the
statement “If God keeps me, I will make sure that no peasant in my
realm will lack the means to have a chicken in the pot on Sunday!”
The statue in Kropotkin’s reference to Henri Quatre was erected by
Henry IV and placed on the Pont-Neuf, which he also built, and which
stands in Paris to this day. – Note by IWPCHI Source: Wikipedia
article “Henry IV of France”.

21Louis
Auguste Le Tonnelier de Breteuil (1730-1807) Baron de Breteuil – a
French aristocrat, diplomat, statesman and politician. At the time
this incident occurred Breteuil was the Secretary of State of the
Maison du Roi. He was serving the King and Queen Marie-Antoinette in
this role when the sordid tale known as “The Affair of the
Necklace” came to light. Popular support for the monarchy in
general and for Marie-Antoinette in particular was severely damaged
by the “Affair”; Breteuil’s defense of Marie-Antoinette in the
affair made him very unpopular. He was appointed to succeed Jacques
Necker as Prime Minister on 12 July 1789 – which was one of the
events that led to the storming of the Bastille prison just two days
later. After the Revolution, many aristocrats fled France one step
ahead of the executioner; Breteuil was appointed by King Louis XVI
(at the request of Marie) to be their Prime Minister-in-exile while
they were being held prisoners in France by the revolutionaries.
Breteuil was responsible for the plan for the failed escape of the
King and Queen from France in 1791. After the executions of Louis
and Marie and the death of the last heir to the Bourbon throne
Breteuil retired to a location near Hamburg. He was allowed by
Napoleon I to return to France in 1802; he died in France in 1807.
Note by IWPCHI sourced from Wikipedia article “Louis Auguste Le
Tonnelier de Breteuil”.

22Yolande
Martine Gabrielle de Polastron, Duchess of Polignac (1749-1783)
Wikipedia describes her as being of the “ultra-monarchist”
faction of the French nobility. Stunningly beautiful in her
portraits, she was hated by the poor of France for her extravagant
lifestyle and for her alleged lesbian relationship with
Marie-Antoinette (which was reportedly not true). She was hated by
many in the aristocracy for the favoritism shown to her and her
family by the King and Queen which was seen as breaching social
etiquette of the time; it was widely resented that she obtained an
appointment as “Governess of the Children of France” which gave
her the important responsibility to oversee the education and
general upbringing of the children of the King and Queen. She and
her family went into exile in Switzerland shortly after the storming
of the Bastille prison. She died in Austria shortly after the
execution of Marie Antoinette in December of 1793.

23For
fuller information, see Felix Roquain, L’esprit revolutionnaire
avant la Revolution.

24The
reference is to a story Kropotkin relates in Chapter III of Vol. I
of this book (p.11). It comes from Arthur Young’s Travels in
France
which
relate anecdotes from a trip through France which Young undertook
shortly before the French Revolution got underway. “’Something
has to be done by some great folk for such poor ones’” Young
quotes the old woman as saying in reference to the ruling
aristocracy and monarchy of France. “She did not know who or how;
‘but God send us better’”.