Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Another attempt to assassinate the legacy of Leon Trotsky?

Condemnation of Leon Trotsky is well-trodden ground for so-called biographer Robert Service. Service was condemned by The American Historical Review (June 2011), which considered his 'biography' of Trotsky a complete distortion. This was anticipated by Socialist Party general secretary Peter Taaffe in a review in the Socialist (13 October 2009) where he took Service to task.

Here Peter reviews Service's latest offering, 'Spies & Commissars', in which the skulduggery of British spies like Sidney Reilly is used to spice up the same old false picture of the Bolshevik regime which followed the Russian revolution of 1917 - particularly of its leaders, Lenin and Trotsky.

Service writes in the introduction to this heavy tome: "Lenin and Trotsky... were convinced that Europe was on the threshold of communist revolution and that it needed only a slight nudge from them to make all this happen."

It did not need a "slight nudge" but the workers of Europe needed to emulate their Russian brothers and sisters and take power out of the hands of the capitalists who, through the bloody carnage of World War One, had ruined Europe.

The Bolsheviks, by declaring a unilateral peace, began the process of ending the war. As to the international effect of the Russian Revolution, Service himself comments that "the Labour Party held a celebration of the revolutionary events at the Albert Hall. 10,000 people attended and Ramsay MacDonald [then Labour leader] was the main speaker...

"It was an occasion that nobody present would forget. The Romanovs were gone and freedom had arrived in Russia. There was talk of a brotherhood of the Russians and the British no longer poisoned by the existence of tsarist despotism." This was just one expression of the colossal enthusiasm and sympathy that the Russian revolution generated.

Lenin is described as a "killjoy" during his return to Russia in February 1917 and "less than gracious to the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries" because he told the truth. He correctly called on the working class to place no trust in the coalition government involving some workers' leaders - the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries - with the 'liberal' capitalists.

Marxists adopt the same position today in placing no trust in the governments which have arisen on the backs of the revolution in Tunisia or Egypt. Instead, we call on the masses to build their own independent organisations if they are to make a 'second revolution', a social revolution, which is the only way to satisfy their demands and consolidate the revolution.

Childishly, Service describes Trotsky and Lenin as "exceptional troublemakers". As if a revolution - demanding an understanding of the process of revolution at each stage and the political slogans and action which flow from this - could be led by mere "troublemakers"!

Yet Service allows himself to admit that, in the words of one observer, "Lenin and Trotsky are merely the spokesmen of the workers."


Read the rest of the review here

No comments:

Post a Comment