Category Archives: War on the Working Class

The Origins of the Korean War As Revealed in US and N. Korean Documents: Vol. I

We are pleased to be able to bring to our readers a selection of key declassified US “intelligence” agency documents relating to the early years of the US involvement in the partitioning of the Korean peninsula and the setting up of a vicious fascist dictatorship in South Korea composed of former Korean traitors who collaborated with the Japanese occupation forces from 1910 to 1945.

Our first offering is a 1947 US “Central Intelligence Group” document that lays out the naked truth about why the US interposed itself in Korean affairs at the end of WWII.  The opening three paragraphs of this document comprise one of the most astoundingly frank and hypocritical statements of purpose ever elucidated by any government ever.  They completely expose the self-serving criminality that existed from the very beginning of US capitalist class involvement in Korea, which ultimately led to the murders of approximately 3 million Koreans and a state of war that has existed since 1950 – in order to “save face” for the US capitalist class.

We hope to locate and publish a collection of US and North Korean documents that demonstrate the deep cynicism and criminality of the US intervention in Korea along with the North Korean responses to it.  If you have any access to documents from the 1945-1950 era relating to the Korean War we would be happy to add them to our collection and to publish them if possible.  We hope that you find these documents to be as enlightening as we have.

We are deeply indebted to Professor Bruce Cumings of the University of Chicago for his excellent series of books on North Korea and for the bibliographies and references included in his books; thanks to his careful and diligent scholarship we were able to search for and find copies of these vitally important documents pertaining to the origins of the Korean War.

DEFEND NORTH KOREA!  US OUT OF ASIA NOW!

— IWPCHI

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Document 1:  Korea SR-2 1947_CIA-RDP78-01617A001400030001-2

Document 2: Kim Il-Sung: Expose and destroy ‘anti-trusteeship’ plot of US and S Korea_00000301_1Jan1946

 

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Defend North Korea! N. Korean Account of Why They Developed Their Nuclear Arsenal

We are pleased to republish an account from the North Korean press celebrating their historic launching this past July 4th of an ICBM capable of carrying a nuclear warhead as a major step forward in the development of a nuclear arsenal capable of effectively responding to any attack launched against North Korea by US imperialism or its allies.

The excerpts here come from the September 2017 edition of “Korea Today”,  a monthly newsmagazine available online here along with many other books, pamphlets and periodicals about the so-called “mysterious Hermit Kingdom”.

It is amazing how well the US propaganda operations run by the US government and its auxiliaries in the bourgeois press manage to give the impression that it is impossible to know what is going on in North Korea due to the nation’s alleged “secretive nature” when in fact North Korea publishes several newspapers and periodicals in multiple languages and makes them available to the world for free via several websites.

In the article we feature below you will get a brief description of the long and vicious history of US government threats of nuclear annihilation that the North Korean workers state has been subjected to from 1945 until the present day.  The Korean War has never ended – it continues as an “armistice” between the North and South – but that state of affairs would have ended decades ago if US imperialism allowed the North and South to solve their own political and economic differences in their own way.  Instead, a state of war has been kept alive by the worker-hating anticommunist government of the USA.  The United States and its puppet government in South Korea stage continuous military provocations right up to the North Korean border which always include “simulated” attacks with sorties of stealth bombers capable of carrying multiple nuclear weapons each.  Imagine what the reaction would be if China and Mexico carried out simulated invasions of Texas from the south complete with land, air and naval forces right up against the US border!  That is the kind of constant provocation the North Korean people have to endure year after year.  The racist US government thinks nothing of risking the lives of millions of South Koreans – supposedly their allies – by these endless attempts to get North Korea to react militarily to these naked provocations.

The massive propaganda machine owned and operated by the US capitalist class portrays the government of Kim Jong-Un as “crazy” for wanting to possess nuclear weapons!  What is “crazy” about any small nation wanting to effectively defend its right to exist using the most modern weaponry available to it – especially when it is being continuously threatened with complete annihilation by a much larger country that not only has a vastly larger nuclear arsenal but is the ONLY nation on Earth ever to actually USE nuclear weapons against civilians… and when the nation that is continually threatening it with a nuclear holocaust has already murdered 3 million Koreans?  The fact is that the North Koreans would be crazy not to develop a defensive nuclear arsenal!  This obvious truth should be clear to any thinking human being.

The UN is a den of capitalist thieves run by the world’s most dangerous terrorist state: the United States of America

Instead of condemning the US and South Korea for wantonly provoking war year after year through their threatening behavior, the UN obscenely imposes economic sanctions on the VICTIMS of the nuclear terrorism of the US!  We say: drop all the sanctions against North Korea now!  US OUT OF SOUTH KOREA AND ALL OF ASIA!  North Korea has the right to defend itself by any means necessary against the massive nuclear arsenal of US imperialism and its allies!

As revolutionary socialists we are duty-bound to defend every conquest made by the working classes of the world against any attempt by the capitalists to attack them.  Every revolutionary socialist worker must defend all of the socialist workers states which came into existence through the incredibly difficult and bloody struggles against the forces of world imperialism throughout the 20th century.  Literally millions of Korean workers and peasants gave their lives fighting to free their nation first from the savagely repressive Japanese occupation and then from the even more savage US occupation and war which took the lives of some 3 million Korean and Chinese workers.  We stand side-by-side with the North Korean workers against our common enemy: the US capitalist class and its UN/NATO allies.  We salute our North Korean sisters and brothers for their valiant decades-long struggle against US imperialism and defend their right to possess the most modern weaponry that is necessary to prevent the blood-soaked US capitalist class from making yet another attempt to drown the Korean socialist workers revolution in blood.  US imperialism: hands off North Korea!  For the revolutionary socialist reunification of the Korean peninsula!

— IWPCHI

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Click here for your copy of “Korea Today” Number 9 (Sept 2017)

 

 

“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

 

 

 

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

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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]

 

Leon Trotsky: “For a Workers’ United Front Against Fascism” (1931)

The events of this past week in Charlottesville, VA have led us to call for the immediate formation of multiracial, union-based workers militias to smash the fascist threat now feeling the wind under its wings thanks to the support of the US’ new racist, immigrant-hating real-estate swindler president Donald “Andrew Johnson” Trump.

If the US Government is going to allow armed white supremacist scum to parade in the streets of US cities threatening to murder antifascist protestors then the working class must be organized to defend itself with the very same weaponry that is being brandished by the fascists.  We call for the immediate formation of  union-based workers defense guards.   Led by military vets who are union members these powerful workers battalions can harness the creative energy of the entire multiracial US working class to provide a reliable, trustworthy and  disciplined defense against the rise of the fascist scum, and can easily overwhelm any fascist mobilization that dares to make the mistake of attempting to march in the multiracial bastions of US trade unionism: our major US cities.

We are presenting the best revolutionary Marxist/Leninist/Trotskyist writings of the great revolutionary leaders of our movement who organized the global fight to smash fascism in the 1930s and 1940s.  It was not the belated Normandy invasion (undertaken only after it was clear that the Nazis would not defeat the USSR as the western imperialists had hoped) but the might of the USSR’s Red Army that crushed the Nazi hordes who tried and failed to overthrow the bureaucratically deformed Stalinist workers state in World War II.  The collapse of the Nazi Wehrmacht on the Eastern Front in 1944 proved the inherent superiority of the socialist system – even one so poorly led as the Stalinist USSR was – on the battlefields of Eastern Europe, where the mightiest military force ever deployed by the capitalist world found itself overwhelmed by the superior organizational and economic power of socialism, backed by superior morale and internationalist ideals of global collective struggle to defend the gains of the Bolshevik Revolution.

In this selection, Lenin’s right-hand man during the Bolshevik Revolution of October 1917, the organizer and leader of the Red Army and leader of the anti-Stalinist Left Opposition in the Communist Party Leon Trotsky warns German communist workers in 1931 of the impending fascist coup that was bound to occur if the working class did not form an antifascist united front against Hitler and his Nazis.

Writing for the Bulletin of the Opposition in December of 1931, here is Trotsky’s analysis of the situation in Germany.  He accurately predicts that Hitler would provoke a civil war in and then come to power not through bourgeois-democratic means but through a coup.  He talks about the disastrous concept of voting for the “lesser evil” which is so sadly prevalent in the United States today; there is much here that will be food for thought for those who are serious about fighting fascism in 2017.  We hope you find this historical gem from the archives of Trotskyism to be helpful in answering your questions as to what must be done to smash fascism in the here and now.

— IWPCHI

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

For a Workers’ United Front
Against Fascism

Germany is now passing through one of those great historic hours upon which the fate of the German people, the fate of Europe, and in significant measure the fate of all humanity, will depend for decades. If you place a ball on top of a pyramid, the slightest impact can cause it to roll down either to the left or to the right. That is the situation approaching with every hour in Germany today. There are forces which would like the ball to roll down towards the right and break the back of the working class. There are forces which would like the ball to remain at the top. That is a utopia. The ball cannot remain at the top of the pyramid. The Communists want the ball to roll down toward the left and break the back of capitalism. But it is not enough to want; one must know how. Let us calmly reflect once more: is the policy carried on at present by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Germany correct or incorrect?

What Does Hitler Want?

The fascists are growing very rapidly. The Communists are also growing but much more slowly. The growth at the extreme poles shows that the ball cannot maintain itself at the top of the pyramid. The rapid growth of the fascists signifies the danger that the ball may roll down toward the right. Therein lies an enormous danger.

Hitler emphasizes that he is against a coup d’état. In order to strangle democracy once and for all, he wants to come to power by no other route than the democratic road. Can we seriously believe this?

Of course, if the fascists could figure on obtaining an absolute majority of the votes at the next elections in a peaceful way, then they would perhaps even prefer this road. In reality, however, this road is unthinkable for them. It is stupid to believe that the Nazis would grow uninterruptedly, as they do now, for an unlimited period of time. Sooner or later they will drain their social reservoir. Fascism has introduced into its own ranks such terrific contradictions, that the moment must come in which the flow ceases to replace the ebb. This moment can arrive long before the fascists have united about them even half of the votes. They will not be able to halt for they will have nothing more to look for here. They will be forced to resort to an overturn.

But even apart from all this, the fascists are cut off from the democratic road. The immense growth of the political contradictions in the country, the stark brigands’ agitation of the fascists, will inevitably lead to a situation in which the closer the fascists approach a majority, the more heated the atmosphere will become and the more extensive the unfolding of the conflicts and struggles will be. With this perspective, civil war is absolutely inevitable. Consequently, the question of the seizure of power by the fascists will not be decided by vote, but by civil war, which the fascists are preparing and provoking.

Can we assume even for one minute that Hitler and his counselors do not realize and foresee this? That would mean to consider them blockheads. There is no greater crime in politics than that of hoping for stupidities on the part of a strong enemy. But if Hitler is not unaware that the road to power leads through the most gruesome civil war, then it means that his speeches about the peaceful democratic road are only a cloak, that is, a stratagem. In that case, it is all the more necessary to keep one’s eyes open.

What Is Concealed Behind Hitler’s Stratagem?

His calculations are quite simple and obvious: he wants to lull his antagonists with the long-run perspective of the parliamentary growth of the Nazis in order to catch them napping and to deal them a deathblow at the right moment It is quite possible that Hitler’s courtesies to democratic parliamentarism may, moreover, help to set up some sort of coalition in the immediate future in which the fascists will obtain the most important posts and employ them in turn for their coup d’état. For it is entirely clear that the coalition, let us assume, between the Center and the fascists will not be a stage in the democratic solution of the question, but a step closer to the coup d’etat under conditions most favorable to the fascists.

We Must Plan According to the Shorter Perspective

All this means that even independently of the desires of the fascist general staff, the solution can intervene in the course Of the next few months, if not weeks. This circumstance is of tremendous importance in elaborating a correct policy. If we allow the fascists to seize power in two or three months, then the struggle against them next year will be much harder than in this. All revolutionary plans laid out for two, three, or five years in advance will prove to be only wretched and disgraceful twaddle, if the working class allows the fascists to gain power in the course of the next two, three, or five months. In the polity of revolutionary crises, the calculation of time is of just as decisive importance as it is in war operations.

Let us take another, more remote example for the clarification of our idea. Hugo Urbahns, who considers himself a “Left Communist” declares the German party bankrupt , politically done for, and proposes to create a new party. If Urbahns were right, it would mean that the victory of the fascists is certain. For, in order to create a new party, years are required (and there has been nothing to prove that the party of Urbahns would in any sense be better than Thälmann’s party: when Urbahns was at the head of the party, there were by no means fewer mistakes).

Yes, should the fascists really conquer power, that would mean not only the physical destruction of the Communist Party, but veritable political bankruptcy for it. An ignominious defeat in a struggle against bands of human rubbish – would never be forgiven the Communist International and its German section by the many-millioned German proletariat. The seizure of power by the fascists would therefore most probably signify the necessity of creating a new revolutionary party, and in all likelihood also a new International. That would be a frightful historical catastrophe. But to assume today that all this is unavoidable can be done only by genuine liquidators, those who under the mantle of hollow phrases are really hastening to capitulate like cravens in the face of the struggle and without a struggle. With this conception we Bolshevik-Leninists, who are called “Trotskyists” by the Stalinists, have nothing in common.

We are unshakably convinced that the victory over the fascists is possible – not after their coming to power, not after five, ten, or twenty years of their rule, but now, under the given conditions, in the coming months and weeks.

Thälmann Considers the Victory of Fascism Inevitable

A correct policy is necessary in order to achieve victory. That is, we need a policy appropriate to the present situation, to the present relationship of forces, and not to the situation that may develop in one, two, or three years, when the question of power will already have been decided for a long time.

The whole misfortune lies in the fact that the policy of the Central Committee of the German Communist Party, in part consciously and in part unconsciously, proceeds from the recognition of the inevitability of a fascist victory. In fact, in the appeal for the “Red United Front” published on November 29, 1931, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Germany proceeds from the idea that it is impossible to defeat fascism without first defeating the Social Democracy. The same idea is repeated in all possible shades in Thälmann’s article. Is this idea correct? On the historical scale it is unconditionally correct. But that does not at all mean that with its aid, that is, by simple repetition, one can solve the questions of the day. An idea, correct from the point of view of revolutionary strategy as a whole, is converted into a lie and at that into a reactionary lie, if it is not translated into the language of tactics. Is it correct that in order to destroy unemployment and misery it is first necessary to destroy capitalism? It is correct. But only the biggest blockhead can conclude from all this, that we do not have to fight this very day, with all of our forces, against the measures with whose aid capitalism is increasing the misery of the workers.

Can we expect that in the course of the next few months the Communist Party will defeat both the Social Democracy and fascism? No normal-thinking person who can read and calculate would risk such a contention. Politically, the question stands like this: Can we successfully repel fascism now, in the course of the next few months, that is, with the existence of a greatly weakened, but still (unfortunately) very strong Social Democracy? The Central Committee replies in the negative. In other words, Thälmann considers the victory of fascism inevitable.

Once Again: The Russian Experience

In order to express my thought as clearly and as concretely as possible I will come back once more to the experience with the Kornilov uprising. On August 26 (old style), 1917, General Kornilov led his Cossack corps and one irregular division against Petrograd. At the helm of power stood Kerensky, lackey of the bourgeoisie and three-quarters a confederate of Kornilov. Lenin was still in hiding because of the accusation that he was in the service of the Hohenzollerns. For the same accusation, I was at that time incarcerated in solitary confinement in Kresty Prison. How did the Bolsheviks proceed in this question? They also had a right to say: “In order to defeat the Korniloviad – we must first defeat the Kerenskiad.” They said this more than once, for it was correct and necessary for all the subsequent propaganda. But that was entirely inadequate for offering resistance to Kornilov on August 26, and on the days that followed, and for preventing him from butchering the Petrograd proletariat. That is why the Bolsheviks did not content themselves with a general appeal to the workers and soldiers to break with the conciliators and to support the red united front of the Bolsheviks. No, the Bolsheviks proposed the united front struggle to the Mensheviks and the Social Revolutionaries and created together with them joint organizations of struggle. Was this correct or incorrect? Let Thälmann answer that. In order to show even more vividly how matters stood with the united front, I will cite the following incident: immediately upon my release after the trade unions had put up bail for me, I went directly to the Committee for National Defense, where I discussed and adopted decisions regarding the struggle against Kornilov with the Menshevik Dan and the Social Revolutionary Gotz [2], allies of Kerensky who had kept me in prison. Was this right or wrong? Let Remmele answer that.

Is Brüning the “Lesser Evil”?

The Social Democracy supports Brüning, votes for him, assumes responsibility for him before the masses-on the grounds that the Brüning government is the “lesser evil.” Die Rote Fahne attempts to ascribe the same view to me – on the grounds that I expressed myself against the stupid and shameful participation of the Communists in the Hitler referendum. But have the German Left Opposition and myself in particular demanded that the Communists vote for and support Brüning? We Marxists regard Brüning and Hitler, Braun included, as component parts of one and the same system. The question as to which one of them is the “lesser evil” has no sense, for the system we are fighting against needs all these elements. But these elements are momentarily involved in conflicts with one another and the party of the proletariat must take advantage of these conflicts in the interest of the revolution.

There are seven keys in the musical scale. The question as to which of these keys is “better” – do, re, or sol – is a nonsensical question. But the musician must know when to strike and what keys to strike. The abstract question of who is the lesser evil – Brüning or Hitler – is just as nonsensical. It is necessary to know which of these keys to strike. Is that clear? For the feeble-minded let us cite another example. When one of my enemies sets before me small daily portions of poison and the second, on the other hand, is about to shoot straight at me, then I will first knock the revolver out of the hand of my second enemy, for this gives me an opportunity to get rid of my first enemy. But that does not at all mean that the poison is a “lesser evil” in comparison with the revolver.

The misfortune consists precisely of the fact that the leaders of the German Communist Party have placed themselves on the same ground as the Social Democracy, only with inverted prefixes: the Social Democracy votes for Brüning, recognizing in him the lesser evil. The Communists, on the other hand, who refuse to trust either Braun or Brüning in any way (and that is absolutely the right way to act), go into the streets to support Hitler’s referendum, that is, the attempt of the fascists to overthrow Brüning. But by this they themselves have recognized in Hitler the lesser evil, for the victory of the referendum would not have brought the proletariat into power, but Hitler. To be sure, it is painful to have to argue over such ABC questions. It is sad, very sad indeed, when musicians like Remmele, instead of distinguishing between the keys, stamp with their boots on the keyboard.

It is Not a Question of the Workers Who Have Already Left the Social Democracy,
But of Those Who Still Remain With It

The thousands upon thousands of Noskes, Welses, and Hilferdings prefer, in the last analysis, fascism to Communism. [3] But for that they must once and for all tear themselves loose from the workers. Today this is not yet the case. Today the Social Democracy as a whole, with all its internal antagonisms, is forced into sharp conflict with the fascists. It is our task to take advantage of this conflict and not to unite the antagonists against us.

The front must now be directed against fascism. And this common front of direct struggle against fascism, embracing the entire proletariat, must be utilized in the struggle against the Social Democracy, directed as a flank attack, but no less effective for all that.

It is necessary to show by deeds a complete readiness to make a bloc with the Social Democrats against the fascists in all cases in which they will accept a bloc. To say to the Social Democratic workers: “Cast your leaders aside and join our “nonparty” united front” means to add just one more hollow phrase to a thousand others. We must understand how to tear the workers away from their leaders in reality. But reality today is-the struggle against fascism. There are and doubtless will be Social Democratic workers who are prepared to fight hand in hand with the Communist workers against the fascists, regardless of the desires or even against the desires of the Social Democratic organizations. With such progressive elements it is obviously necessary to establish the closest possible contact. At the present time, however, they are not great in number. The German worker has been raised in the spirit of organization and of discipline. This has its strong as well as its weak sides. The overwhelming majority of the Social Democratic workers will fight against the fascists, but – for the present at least – only together with their organizations. This stage cannot be skipped. We must help the Social Democratic workers in action – in this new and extraordinary situation – to test the value of their organizations and leaders at this time, when it is a matter of life and death for the working class.

We Must Force the Social Democracy into a Bloc Against the Fascists

The trouble is that in the Central Committee of the Communist Party there are many frightened opportunists. They have heard that opportunism consists of a love for blocs, and that is why they are against blocs. They do not understand the difference between, let us say, a parliamentary agreement and an ever-so-modest agreement for struggle in a strike or in defense of workers’ printshops against fascist bands.

Election agreements, parliamentary compromises concluded between the revolutionary party and the Social Democracy serve, as a rule, to the advantage of the Social Democracy. Practical agreements for mass action, for purposes of struggle, are always useful to the revolutionary party. The Anglo-Russian Committee was an impermissible type of bloc of two leaderships on one common political platform, vague, deceptive, binding no one to any action at all. The maintenance of this bloc at the time of the British General Strike, when the General Council assumed the role of strikebreaker, signified, on the part of the Stalinists, a policy of betrayal. [4]

No common platform with the Social Democracy, or with the leaders of the German trade unions, no common publications, banners, placards! March separately, but strike together! Agree only how to strike, whom to strike, and when to strike! Such an agreement can be concluded even with the devil himself, with his grandmother, and even with Noske and Grezesinsky. [5] On one condition, not to bind one’s hands.

It is necessary, without any delay, finally to elaborate a practical system of measures – not with the aim of merely “exposing” the Social Democracy (before the Communists), but with the aim of actual struggle against fascism. The question of factory defense organizations, of unhampered activity on the part of the factory councils, the inviolability of the workers’ organizations and institutions, the question of arsenals that may be seized by the fascists, the question of measures in the case of an emergency, that is, of the coordination of the actions of the Communist and the Social Democratic divisions in the struggle, etc., etc., must be dealt with in this program.

In the struggle against fascism, the factory councils occupy a tremendously important position. Here a particularly precise program of action is necessary. Every factory must become an anti-fascist bulwark, with its own commandants and its own battalions. It is necessary to have a map of the fascist barracks and all other fascist strongholds, in every city and in every district The fascists are attempting to encircle the revolutionary strongholds. The encirclers must be encircled. On this basis, an agreement with the Social Democratic and trade-union organizations is not only permissible, but a duty. To reject this for reasons of “principle” (in reality because of bureaucratic stupidity, or what is still worse, because of cowardice) is to give direct and immediate aid to fascism.

A practical program of agreements with the Social Democratic workers was proposed by us as far back as September 1930 (The Turn in the Comintern and the German Situation), that is, a year and a quarter ago. What has the leadership undertaken in this direction? Next to nothing. The Central Committee of the Communist Party has taken up everything except that which constitutes its direct task. How much valuable, irretrievable time has been lost! As a matter of fact, not much time is left. The program of action must be strictly practical, strictly objective, to the point, without any of those artificial “claims,” without any reservations, so that every average Social Democratic worker can say to himself. what the Communists propose is completely indispensable for the struggle against fascism. On this basis, we must pull the Social Democratic workers along with us by our example, and criticize their leaders who will inevitably serve as a check and a brake. Only in this way is victory possible.

A Good Quotation From Lenin

The present-day epigones, that is, the thoroughly bad disciples of Lenin, like to cover up their shortcomings on every occasion that offers itself with quotations – often entirely irrelevant. For Marxists, the question is not decided by a quotation, but by means of the correct method. If one is guided by correct methods, it is not hard also to find suitable quotations. After I had drawn the above analogy with the Kornilov insurrection, I said to myself: We can probably find a theoretical elucidation of our bloc with the conciliators in the struggle against Kornilov, in Lenin. And here is what I actually found in the second part of Volume XIV of the Russian edition, in a letter from Lenin to the Central Committee, written at the beginning of September 1917:

“Even at the present time, we are not duty-bound to support the Kerensky government That would be unprincipled. It is asked: then we are not to fight against Kornilov? Of course we are. But that is not one and the same thing. There is a limit to this; it is being transgressed by many Bolsheviks who fail into ‘conciliationism’ and allow themselves to be driven by the current of events.

“We shall fight, we are fighting against Kornilov, but we do not support Kerensky; we are uncovering his weaknesses. The distinction is rather delicate, but highly important and must not be forgotten.

“What does the change of our tactics consist of after the Kornilov insurrection?

“In this, that we are varying the forms of struggle against Kerensky. Without diminishing our hostility to him even by one single note, without taking back one word from what we have said against him, without giving up the task of overthrowing Kerensky, we say: we must calculate the moment. We will not overthrow Kerensky at present. We approach the question of the struggle against him differently: by explaining the weaknesses and vacillations of Kerensky to the people (who are fighting against Kornilov).”

We are proposing nothing different. Complete independence of the Communist organization and press, complete freedom of Communist criticism, the same for the Social Democracy and the trade unions. Only contemptible opportunists can allow the freedom of the Communist Party to be limited (for example, as in the entrance into the Kuomintang). We are not of their number.

No retraction of our criticism of the Social Democracy. No forgetting of all that has been. The whole historical reckoning, including the reckoning for Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg [6], will be presented at the proper time, just as the Russian Bolsheviks finally presented a general reckoning to the Mensheviks and Social Revolutionaries for the baiting, calumny, imprisonment and murder of workers, soldiers, and peasants.

But we presented our general reckoning to them two months after we had utilized the partial reckoning between Kerensky and Kornilov, between the “democrats” and the fascists – in order to drive back the fascists all the more certainly. Only thanks to this circumstance were we victorious.

When the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Germany adopts the position expressed in the quotation from Lenin cited above, the entire approach to the Social Democratic masses and the trade-union organizations will change at once: instead of the articles and speeches which are convincing only to those people who are already convinced without them, the agitators will find a common language with new hundreds of thousands and millions of workers. The differentiation within the Social Democracy will proceed at an increased pace. The fascists will soon feel that their task does not at all consist merely of defeating Brüning, Braun, and Wels, but of taking up the open struggle against the whole working class. On this plane, a profound differentiation win inevitably be produced within fascism. Only by this road is victory possible.

But it is necessary to desire this victory. In the meantime, there are among the Communist officials not a few cowardly careerists and fakers whose little posts, whose incomes, and more than that, whose hides, are dear to them. These creatures are very much inclined to spout ultraradical phrases beneath which is concealed a wretched and contemptible fatalism. “Without a victory over the Social Democracy, we cannot battle against fascism!” say such terrible revolutionists, and for this reason … they get their passports ready.

Worker-Communists, you are hundreds of thousands, millions; you cannot leave for anyplace; there are not enough passports for you. Should fascism come to power, it will ride over your skulls and spines like a terrific tank. Your salvation lies in merciless struggle. And only a fighting unity with the Social Democratic workers can bring victory. Make haste, worker-Communists, you have very little time left!

[Source: https://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/germany/1931/311208.htm


Postscript by IWPCHI:

Liberals and fake-socialists denigrate the revolutionary Trotskyists’ adherence to dialectical materialism, the scientific method of analyzing the class basis for every political movement which, if properly utilized in a Marxist/Leninist/Trotskyist manner, enables us to predict – not perfectly, but with a high degree of accuracy – the roles which will be played by every political actor presently on the historical stage.  The apologists for bourgeois democracy, lovers of “common sense” laugh at us – but what bourgeois politician, Stalinist blowhard or social democrat in Germany or anywhere else in the world saw as clearly what the future would bring as did Trotsky?  He urged the Communist Party of Germany to abandon their idiotic Stalinist programme that equated the Social Democrats and the Nazis as one and the same; he urged the Communists to form a united front with the Social Democrats against the Nazis.  By the time the CP tried at the last minute to steer the ship of workers revolution away from the fascist shoals lying dead ahead it was too late.  The Stalinized Communist Party of Germany bears a large degree of the blame for the rise of Hitler;  the Stalinized Comintern’s zigzagging political programs of the 1920s and ’30s that had disoriented their party to such a degree had simultaneously created a breach in the working class forces which Hitler was able to bludgeon his way through, enabling his long rise to power.  If we are to successfully stop the rise of fascism in the US today, we must learn the hard lessons of the failure of the revolutionary workers parties to do so in Germany in the 1930s.  We, too can not count on the rise of fascism in the US to be a long, gradual ascent; fascism is far more prone to sudden leaps forward as we saw this past weekend in Charlottesville, VA.  The fascists have leaped far ahead of the level of development of the antifascist forces.  Unless we immediately begin to organize and build revolutionary socialist parties and workers defense brigades to smash the rising fascist threat, we might very well face the same dire penalty our revolutionary worker-ancestors faced in Germany in the 1930s.  Small, disorganized groups of even the bravest anti-fascist workers are no match for heavily-armed fascist killers backed by the cops, courts and government.  We need to organize the power of the entire multiracial US working class to stop the rise of fascism and to fight ultimately to overthrow the capitalist system which gives rise to the fascist gangs.  Once the working class is in power the fascists will be denied the ability to ever raise their heads again, just as the monarchists were never able to show their faces after the American Revolution.

On Anniversary of US War Crimes Against Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Trump Threatens to Nuke North Korea

Source: Asahi Shimbun

Once again the United States Government – a ruthless, racist dictatorship of the numerically tiny WASPy US capitalist class, representing less than 10% of the US population – is threatening to use its nuclear arsenal to annihilate a tiny country of non-white people.  On the anniversary of two of the worst war crimes in world history, committed by the US against the Japanese workers on August 7th and 9th, 1945 – the completely unjustifiable nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki which killed over 200,000 people – the ignorant, criminal real-estate swindler President of the United States, Donald Trump threatened tiny North Korea with nuclear annihilation for daring to defend itself from US imperialism.

The dark green area is North Korea. The smaller the country, the more the cowardly US capitalist class wants to attack it. [Source: Wikipedia]

Still humiliated by the fact that tiny socialist North Korea has not only successfully defended itself against the most powerful military on Earth for over 50 years, and that it has now – in spite of brutal economic sanctions – been able to deploy an effective nuclear deterrent which has stopped US invasion plans dead in their tracks – the racist worker-hating real estate swindler President of the United States Donald Trump has “gone ballistic” this week.  After the North Koreans once again successfully tested a long-range missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead and then – after the US flew nuclear-armed stealth bombers right along the North Korean border (just imagine how the US would react if the Russians or Chinese did this along the US border!) – the North Koreans threatened to use their nukes to defend themselves against the US if they dared to attack the North, Trump lost his tiny, money-worshipping, college-student-robbing mind.  Speaking like the filthy rich lunatic that he is at a press conference called to discuss the “opioid crisis” in the USA (held, characteristically, at “Trump National Golf Club” in Bedminster, NJ) he blurted out:  “North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen. He [North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un] has been very threatening beyond a normal state. And as I said, they will be met with fire, fury, and, frankly, power, the likes of which this world has never seen before.”  [Source: “Remarks by President Trump Before a Briefing on the Opioid Crisis”, 8 August 2017, whitehouse.gov]   We’re certain that Trump could not have been more dimly aware of the effect such a monstrous threat would have on US allies like Japan, which was in the middle of the annual commemoration of the US nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki when notorious racist Trump threatened a similar attack on a neighboring Asian country!  If the US nuked North Korea – guess where the fallout would be likely to land?  To put it mildly, the South Korean and Japanese workers are not amused.

During ceremonies, commemorating the 72nd anniversary of the US nuclear bombing of Nagasaki, “[a]tomic bomb survivor Koichi Kawano put Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the spot by asking him sternly, ‘What country’s prime minister are you? Are you going to abandon us?'”  The right-wing scumbag Abe’s has openly defended Trump’s nuclear threat against North Korea and he and his government was denounced by the Japanese “Hibakusha” (nuclear bomb survivors) for refusing to sign the UN “Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons” back in July.

“A petition compiled by five hibakusha groups in Nagasaki and submitted to Abe also read, ‘It is extremely regrettable that (when the nuclear weapons prohibition treaty was adopted at the United Nations), representatives of Japan, the only country that suffered atomic bombings in a war, were not there. We, hibakusha in Nagasaki, strongly protest against the government with burning anger.’

“In the ceremony held prior to the meeting to mark the 72nd anniversary, Nagasaki Mayor Tomihisa Taue also said in the city’s Peace Declaration, ‘I urge the Japanese government to reconsider the policy of relying on the [US’] nuclear umbrella.’ Hibakusha applauded the declaration.

“Shigemitsu Tanaka, 76, vice chairman of the council of atomic bomb sufferers in Nagasaki, complained about the way in which government officials always repeat the same platitudes.

“‘They could have brought a tape recorder with them,’ he said.

“Tamashii Honda, 73, chairman of the association of bereaved families of atomic bomb victims in Nagasaki, said, ‘Japan should talk to the United States in a forceful manner.'”  [Source:  Asahi Shimbun, “A-bomb survivor asks Abe, ‘What country’s leader are you?’” 10 August 2017]

In South Korea, an editorial in the Dong-A-Ilbo bluntly pointed out the fact that it is the constant war provocations launched against it by the US military forces in South Korea and Guam that provoked the North’s visceral reaction:

“[T]he North had never specifically stated where to attack on the continental U.S. The U.S. military operates a launching base in Guam for strategic weapons and long-range strategic bombers that will fly to the Korean Peninsula in an emergency, a pain in the ass to the North.

[…]

“The extended deterrence of the U.S. lies at the foundation of the trust among South Korea, the U.S. and Japan, and if the trust vanishes, it will lead to weakening of the alliance between South Korea and the U.S. and the alliance among South Korea, the U.S. and Japan. Against the backdrop, South Korea and Japan will start considering nuclear armament and China’s influences will increase. Probably, this is what the North is hoping for.

“Hawkish politicians in the U.S. talk about a war on the Korean Peninsula at the expense of mass civilian sacrifice in two Koreas.”

[Source:  Dong-A-Ilbo, “North Korea should not be a game changer”  10 August 2017]

The Joongang Daily of Seoul also cited US war provocations against N. Korea as legitimate complaints, publishing a photo of two US Air Force B1-B Lancer stealth nuclear bombers flying on a mission from Guam across the Korean Peninsula just miles from the North Korean border on 8 August 2017:

Source: Source: Joongang Ilbo, Seoul, S. Korea

Idiotically, Trump’s Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson – another arrogant member of the US capitalist ruling class, with an estimated net worth of $245 million – when asked by a reporter if the workers of the US should be worried about the escalating threats against North Korea stated:  “I think Americans should sleep well at night”!  Tell that to the tens of thousands of US soldiers stationed in S. Korea and on Guam, and to their families back home!  And of course he doesn’t give a damn about whether or not Korean or Japanese workers sleep well at night – to Tillerson and the rest of the filthy rich US capitalist class they’re all just expendable pawns in the US capitalist chess game being played against the working classes of the world.

A Brief History of the Korean War

The US capitalist class and its government is terrified that the tiny, defiant North Korean workers state has in its possession a modest but strategically significant nuclear arsenal fully capable of short-range defense of its country from US military aggression.  Since 1945, the United States has engaged in one military threat after another against the North Koreans and was responsible for launching the Korean War – a 3-year shooting war which left over 36,000 US, an estimated 3 million Korean civilians and soldiers and as many as 900,000 Chinese soldiers dead!  The Korean War was an imperialist war crime launched by the US capitalist class in order to “save Korea for capitalist exploitation”.  It was a failed attempt to crush the working class and peasant revolution that swept the entire Korean peninsula in the wake of the defeat of Japanese fascism which had brutally occupied Korea from 1910 to 1945.  At the end of the war, the Korean peninsula was partitioned along an arbitrarily-selected demarcation line into a northern, Soviet Union-controlled zone and a southern US-controlled zone.  In the North, the Korean communists who had been the leading forces in the long struggle against the Japanese fascist occupation took power; in the South, the Korean communists created workers and peasants committees that seized power in all the cities and towns throughout the south.  But instead of allowing the Korean workers and peasants to create their own working class and peasant based government, the United States created a puppet South Korean client state composed of right-wing Korean exiles living in the USA as well as thousands of Koreans who had collaborated with the fascist Japanese occupying forces!  When the “South Korean” workers and peasants rose up against this US puppet government of fascist scum, the US and their fascist “South Korean” allies slaughtered them!

In 1949, the Chinese workers and peasants – aided by a strong contingent of Korean communist leaders in the Chinese Communist Party – overthrew capitalism in China in the great Chinese Revolution.  Now, the North Koreans were backed not just by the tremendous power of the USSR, but by the brand-new power of the revolutionary Chinese working class and peasantry.   With the US puppet government in “South Korea” slaughtering communists all over the country and with negotiations getting nowhere between the North and South over repatriation of imprisoned and tortured communists in the South, tensions rose to the breaking point.  Both the North and South had long engaged in small-scale cross-border attacks, with the US military actively involved in the military operations of the puppet “South Korean” military forces.  On 25 June, 1950 the North Korean forces, having endured years of provocations, launched a massive invasion of the South, seeking to complete the struggle which they had fought for since 1910: to bring the Korean peninsula under Korean rule.  If it hadn’t been for the presence of US imperialist forces being deployed into the Korean peninsula – where they clearly did not and do not belong – the Korean War would have been over in just a few weeks.  Instead, the war dragged on for 3 years, with the US involvement increasing rapidly to the point where the US ended up dropping more bombs on Korea than they deployed in all of WWII.  In just three years the US had killed an estimated 3 million Koreans plus nearly 1 million Chinese soldiers who had fought to defend their Korean working class and peasant sisters and brothers.  The US bombing was so savage that not a single building over two stories tall was said to have been left standing between Seoul and the Chinese border.  US forces committed many atrocities against Korean civilians, slaughtering thousands simply because the style of clothing they wore was supposedly indicative of their allegiance to the North.  One of the US war crimes, committed against defenseless South Korean civilians hiding from attacking US forces at the No Gun Ri bridge has become world-renowned for its senseless brutality – but it was just one of many, many others.

This 2008 photo shows a concrete abutment outside one of the twin underpasses of the No Gun Ri railroad bridge, where investigators’ white paint identifies bullet marks and embedded fragments from U.S. Army gunfire in the 1950 massacre of South Korean refugees trapped beneath the bridge. Others are similarly marked inside the tunnel. Still other evidence lies beneath the level of the road, built years after the killings.
한국어: 노근리 양민 학살이 벌어진 다리 밑 사진. 총알 자국이 하얀 원으로 그려져 있다.     Photo by Cjthanley   Source: Wikipedia, “No Gun Ri Massacre”

The slaughter unleashed against the Korean workers and peasants by US imperialism was the direct precursor to the equally hideous Vietnam War in which another 3 million workers and peasants were slaughtered by the US.  But unlike the Vietnam War, which was ended by agreements negotiated in 1975, the Korean War never ended!  Since 1953 an armed truce has left the North and South in a state of war, with North Korea’s once stalwart defenders in the USSR now gone and a pro-capitalist criminal Chinese “Communist Party” leadership gradually backing away from its long-time ally.  Now, tiny North Korea – a nation-state with a population of just 25 million (roughly equal to that of Texas), whose land area equals the size of Pennsylvania, with an estimated gross domestic product equivalent to that of Vermont! – is left to defend itself almost alone – and is obscenely being portrayed as a “military threat” to the United States! 

It is a savage example of the extent to which the US working class has been brainwashed by the wall-to-wall propaganda of the US imperialist bourgeois press that today, in spite of all the physical and historical evidence to the contrary, US workers believe that NORTH KOREA – poses some kind of existential threat to the USA – and not the other way around!

In order for the numerically insignificant US capitalist class to rule the world they must make sure that not even the tiniest nation-state obtain the only modern military weapon capable of effectively defending any nation-state from attack by a larger imperialist power: intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of carrying a nuclear warhead to the “homeland” of any aggressor nation.  North Korea – a small workers state that overthrew capitalist class rule in 1946 – has developed its own nuclear capability and has recently completed real-world tests of its own continental – not “inter”continental – ballistic missiles (CBMs, not ICBMs); it has previously tested nuclear weapons.  Experts now believe that North Korea possesses a handful of nuclear bombs and that is well on its way to developing and deploying long-range ballistic missiles – although whether or not North Korea has the technology to combine the two elements into an effective nuclear ICBM capability remains an open question.  So far, the North Koreans have not tested a single long-range ICBM; their long-range missiles might be able to barely reach cities in Alaska, according to military experts – but no one knows for sure because the North Koreans have never actually proven this capability.  They still have to prove that they can protect any nuclear warhead on one of their missiles from the intense battering encountered by an ICBM when it makes its re-entry through the Earth’s atmosphere on the way to the target.  So all the US blathering over the “threat” posed by the North Korean mini-arsenal is just that: scare-mongering propaganda designed to frighten US workers into supporting the US capitalist class revenge fantasy against the workers of North Korea.

It is the duty of every class-conscious revolutionary socialist worker on this planet to oppose every attempt by any imperialist capitalist state to overthrow any workers state – from North Korea to China to Cuba and Vietnam.  The revolutionary victories achieved by the workers and peasants in these successful revolutions – though under attack now by the fake-“communist” parties running all of these bureaucratically deformed workers states – represent the high-water mark of the long struggle of workers and peasants to emancipate ourselves from brutal exploitation by the capitalist classes of the world.  As Trotsky explained when talking about the defense of the USSR – now no longer in existence thanks to the betrayals of the Stalinists – “Those who cannot defend old victories will never achieve new ones”.   The US attacks on North Korea are part of their long-range goal to roll back the gains of EVERY workers and peasants revolution!  They have their sights set on launching capitalist restoration through counter-revolution in China as their main objective; that is why it is so criminal for the leadership of the pro-capitalist Chinese “Communist Party” to conspire with the US Government to sell North Korea down the river!  That is why we say: Defend North Korea!  US Imperialism: Keep Your Bloody Hands Off the World!  And this is why we say that the top priority for US workers right now is to join us in building a revolutionary Trotskyist workers party that will organize the overthrow of the most despotic and bloodthirsty terrorist organization in the world: the US capitalist class.   Until the workers do this, the US capitalist class and their military machine will go on threatening and murdering thousands of workers each and every year.  Unless the US working class rises up and puts an end to the bloody class rule of its capitalist “masters” the workers of the whole world will have to join together to crush US imperialism – destroying every major US city in the process, just as was done to Nazi Germany in 1945!

Workers of the World, Unite!

Independent Workers Party of Chicago

DEFEND NORTH KOREA! Congratulations to North Korea On Its First Successful Launch of an ICBM

We extend our sincere congratulations to North Korea for its first successful launch of an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile.  This is an important step forward in defending the North Korean workers state from constant threats against the existence of North Korea issued incessantly by the world’s #1 terrorist state: the United States of America.  We also condemn China’s slavish acquiescence to the anti-North Korea campaign being conducted by the United States – a nation that slaughtered as many as 3 million Koreans during the Korean War.  Maoist China owes its existence in large measure to the selfless work done by Korean communist exiles who helped lead the Chinese workers revolution.  For China to betray North Korea now when the United States is threatening to launch a massive military assault on North Korea is an act of treason to the workers of China, North Korea and the entire world. China: DEFEND NORTH KOREA!

The global propaganda barrage launched by the world’s #1 terrorist state – the United States – in the wake of the successful ICBM launch of North Korea reeks of hypocrisy and much worse.  The United States has never been threatened by North Korea; in fact it has always been North Korea that has been threatened by the imperialist murderers of the United States since North Korea was first created.  North Korea never had, and it does not now possess any military forces that even approximate the massive military strength possessed by the USA.  The claim that the tiny North Korean nuclear arsenal and military – which can only be described as “defensive” – threaten the massively armed US military Goliath is absurd on its face!  Anyone who believes that tiny North Korea (which possesses no military force capable of undertaking offensive operations on any large scale regionally or internationally) is capable of launching a serious attack on the continental United States – is an imbecile who knows absolutely nothing about military science.

The handful of nukes possessed by North Korea comprise a very rationally designed nuclear strike force that is capable only of effectively defending North Korea from an attack launched from South Korea or Japan.  The overwhelming imbalance of military forces on the Korean peninsula is tilted entirely on the side of the United States.

We are witnessing the degree to which the entire capitalist news media is nothing but the propaganda arm of the US capitalist class and their war machine.  Every bourgeois newspaper on Earth has retailed the “big lie” that the existence of North Korea’s tiny ICBM force – dwarfed by the US’ enormous nuclear arsenal – poses an existential threat to the US!  Lies do not come any bigger than this!  This lie is designed to bludgeon the workers of the world into acquiescence if the Goliath of the United States launches a savage attack on the “David” North Korea.  The US’ propaganda machine’s big lie is an attempt to make “David” appear to be “Goliath”.  Only those people who refuse to open their eyes and to examine the evidence before them could swallow such a whale of a lie!

One of the purposes of this “big lie” campaign being launched by the US right now is to cover up a major international diplomatic incident that was perpetrated by the US against North Korea back in June of this year.

” On 16th of June over 20 agents of the Department of Homeland Security (according to their introduction) and policemen committed a criminal act of moving in on the diplomats of the DPRK who were en route home after attending the tenth session of the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities at the United Nations Headquarters in New York and took away the diplomatic package from them.

“The extortion of the diplomatic package made by the U.S. is an unpardonable act of infringement on the sovereignty of DPRK as a member state of the United Nations and a criminal offence of grave violation of the international law.

“Inviolability and protection of the diplomatic bag is clearly stipulated in the Article 27 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

“Department of State of the U.S. made official apology for the incident but still delays the return of the diplomatic package.

“All these actions show the extreme insolence and impudence of the U.S. which acts rudely in total disregard to the international law, out of inveterate refusal of the DPRK.

“The extortion of the diplomatic package of a sovereign state in the heart of New York where the UN Headquarters is located and international conferences including the UN General Assembly are held clearly proves that the U.S. is an unlawful and lawless rogue state.”

[Source: Korean Central News Agency, “DPRK Permanent Representative’s Letter to UN Secretary General” 4 July, 2017]

This incident was hardly even acknowledged by the US capitalist press.  They truly are the bought-and-paid-for propagandists of US imperialism!

This provocation – along with the endless numbers of military “war games” being launched in cooperation with South Korean, Australian and other US allies from South Korea – and the fact that the Korean War has actually never ended – are the real reasons why North Korea is compelled to pursue the acquisition of nuclear weapons – to defend itself from another savage unprovoked military invasion like what took place during the initial years of the Korean War.

Though we do not politically defend the Stalinist regime in North Korea that has usurped political power from the North Korean working class in order to create a bizarre hereditary socialist monarchy in North Korea, we do recognize that the heroic Korean workers revolution that opposed and ousted the Japanese imperialists and then successfully fought off the unprovoked invasion of Korea by the US after WWII and which overthrew capitalism and established the North Korean workers state was an enormous victory for the workers of Korea and of the entire world.  As revolutionary Trotskyists we understand that it is the duty of every revolutionary worker to defend every gain made by the working class internationally, because, as Trotsky said, those who cannot defend old conquests will never achieve new ones.

The Chinese Maoists of the “Communist Party of China” – renegades from Marxism hell-bent on gradually restoring capitalism in China – are more interested in lining their pockets with dollars and Euros than in defending socialism in China, North Korea or anywhere else.  They are more than willing to throw North Korea “under the bus” in order to suck up to their rich “friends” in Washington, Berlin, Brussels and London.  They must be kicked out of power by the Chinese working class in a political revolution to defend socialism and to bring about a true revolutionary socialist workers democracy in China.  Every attack against North Korea is a thinly veiled attack on China as well.  China is, after all, the ultimate target of the US war machine’s operations in Asia.

By their victory against US imperialism in the Korean War, the North Korean workers earned the undying hatred of the US capitalist class, which has tried every dirty trick in the book to restore capitalism to North Korea – to no avail.  The North Korean workers state has heroically held out against every form of blackmail, extortion and military threat and actual slaughter launched by US imperialism – and North Korea stands today proudly defiant in defense of socialism against US and world imperialism.  North Korea is one of the very few places on Earth where the US capitalist class can not exploit workers for profit-making – and this drives the US capitalist class batshit crazy! And there is no small amount of “good old American racism” behind the US capitalist class’ hatred for the North Koreans.  It is the duty of every class-conscious worker on the planet to defend the right of the existence of the North Korean workers state against every attempt by “our own” ruling classes to overthrow that workers state!

US Workers: don’t believe the lies of the US capitalist class and their press! DEFEND NORTH KOREA!  US/UN/NATO Hands off North Korea!  China, Vietnam, Cuba: DEFEND NORTH KOREA!

 

IWPCHI

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

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

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

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

—IWPCHI

Leon Trotsky

The History of the Russian Revolution

Volume One: The Overthrow of Tzarism


Chapter 4
The Tzar and the Tzarina

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Friend sent by God was Gregory Rasputin.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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