Walter Kendall 1979

Comintern: Sixty Years After: Reflections on the Anniversary

Source: This article first appeared in Survey, Volume 24, no 1, Winter 1979, pp 145-56. It is an edited extract from Walter Kendall’s book World Revolution: The Russian Revolution and the Communist International, 1898-1935. This book was not published, but a copy of the manuscript was given by the author to Al Richardson, the late editor of Revolutionary History, and is now in the Richardson archive in the University of London’s Senate House Library. Another copy was passed to the British Library. Scanned and prepared for the Marxist Internet Archive by Paul Flewers.

Official Communist orthodoxy asserts that the Communist International, and with it the Communist parties around the world, were established as a result of the ‘betrayal’ of the ‘world revolution’ by the Socialist movement in 1914 and the years thereafter. No social myth could be farther removed from the truth. Lenin, from the very beginning, wished the Bolshevik Party to rule alone. An enforced coalition government of Bolsheviks and Left Social Revolutionaries ended in March 1918 at the time of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. Thereafter the Bolsheviks instituted their own system of one-party rule and in fact, if not always in name, declared all other political organisations illegal. Once the Bolsheviks had declared illegal and destroyed all rival Socialist parties at home in Russia it became quite impossible for them to accept the legitimacy of other rival, non-Bolshevik Socialist organisations abroad. What was denied in the one case could not at all be conceded in the other. The foundation of a Bolshevik International thus became necessary, not as Lenin and the Bolshevik leaders came to deceive themselves, in ‘the interests of world revolution’, but as an external support required to buttress their own increasingly arbitrary rule at home.

Tsarist absolutism and serfdom (abolished in Russia only in 1861) had left their mark on the Russian people, just as to this day slavery, ended in the Deep South around the same time, continues to scar both whites and negroes, indeed the whole of political life in the USA. The ‘world revolution’ which the Bolshevik leaders had expected would rescue their coup d'état from isolation failed to mature. The leaders of the Communist Party found themselves marooned like shipwrecked mariners on Russian soil, forced to resort to desperate measures in order to survive. So it came about that in a perverse manner the mentality of the subjects came to decide the modes by which their masters might rule. The Bolshevik leaders found it necessary to clamp ever tighter bonds on all those who shared in the privilege and power of one-party rule. Ineluctably, heresy-hunts in Russia and the ‘Cult’, first of the ‘Party’, then of the individual party ‘Leader’, engendered identical manifestations in all the carbon copies of the Russian Communist Party which the Comintern had established around the globe. Once the Bolsheviks had come to see mass terror as an obligatory tool of social reconstruction the Communist parties abroad could do no other than adopt similar views and where feasible practise them, in Russia’s train. The failure of the ‘world revolution’ to develop as foretold by ‘Leninist’ theology caused the world Communist movement, for a whole historical epoch, to transform itself into a kind of epic folk theatre, acting out on a global stage, for the benefit of Russia’s rulers and their subjects, the roles which Leninist theology assigned the masses, but which they, for their own very good reasons, refused to carry out.

All great revolutions provoke their echoes in other countries around the world. The English revolution, the French, the American, each has left its mark on the literature, the institutions, the ideology, the language, the modes of behaviour, which both condition and express our understanding of the world in which we live. The same holds true of both Russian revolutions of 1917. The Bolshevik rulers, unlike their predecessors however, were not content to rely on spontaneous forces which existed independently and outside their control. Accordingly, once having displaced the post-tsarist Provisional Government by their coup d'état in November 1917, the Bolsheviks, isolated, threatened and alone, stretched every nerve to mobilise support abroad, to rally it to their aid.

The March Revolution and the abdication of the Tsar were a consequence of the Russian Government’s inability any longer to continue a bloody and useless war which no longer commanded any large measure of public support. The Bolshevik coup d'état would have been impossible had not Allied pressure and the expenditure of large sums on a pro-war psychological warfare operation dissuaded the Provisional Government from concluding peace and caused it instead to launch an ill-judged offensive which during July 1917 broke the back of the Russian Army on the Eastern Front. The Bolshevik coup could never have succeeded if the Germans during the preceding months had not launched their own psychological warfare operation, on a similar scale, in favour of a negotiated peace and had the Bolshevik Party itself not benefited greatly from financial subsidies of German origin. Nor could the Bolsheviks have maintained themselves in power thereafter had it not been for German support. This demonstrably continued at least until March 1918 and most probably for some months beyond. The destiny of the March Revolution and the fate of the Provisional Government were decided by Great Power rivalries and by psychological warfare operations instigated by the combatant powers, fought out on Russian soil. The destruction of the Kerensky regime in Russia was accomplished in much the same fashion as that of the Allende regime in Chile some 60 years later.

The success of the Bolshevik coup was due in large measure to German support. The Bolshevik leaders were well aware of this fact. Accordingly they drew the understandable conclusion that if Russian Bolsheviks might make a revolution in Russia with German money, German Bolsheviks might make a revolution in Germany with Russian money in much the same way. The export of revolution, not only to Germany, but also to other countries, thus became a cardinal feature of Bolshevik foreign policy from the very beginning.

At Brest-Litovsk between December 1917 and February 1918, Trotsky, as Foreign Minister, sought to use the Russo-German armistice negotiations as a platform from which to provoke revolution amongst soldiers and civilians of the Central, also the Allied, Powers. Even after Brest-Litovsk, Bolshevik diplomacy continued its endeavours to provoke abroad revolts which might ease the desperate pressures to which the regime was subject at home. Thus in Germany, Joffe, the Russian ambassador, and the whole embassy staff were expelled for their part in encouraging and financing subversion, and this only three days before the Germans’ November revolution actually took place.

Trotsky, during his period as Commissar, had established a Bureau of International Revolutionary Propaganda at the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Initiated under Trotsky in 1917-18, this department continued to function under Chicherin, his successor, all through 1918 and on into 1919.

Revolution was thus inextricably associated with Russian foreign policy from the very start. Russia’s new rulers, from the very beginning, considered that their security depended on the ability to rally support for their aims and objectives abroad. Even after the revolutionary regime was stabilised the Bureau for International Revolutionary Propaganda continued its work, albeit under another name.

The Bolshevik Party, as the directing brain of the post-revolutionary state, itself initiated the work of the Bureau for International Revolutionary Propaganda. The department was staffed partly by Russian Communists, partly by émigrés, returned from abroad and now Russian party members, and partly by nationals of foreign countries who had given their allegiance to the new regime. Quite independently, the Bolshevik Party also set up, on Russian soil, its own Federation of Foreign Communist Groups. This Federation was composed in the main of prisoners of war who had gone over to the Bolsheviks, also of individuals of foreign nationality, resident for one reason or another on Russian soil. Included were English-American, French, German, Czech, Hungarian, Rumanian, Bulgarian and Finnish sections. The Federation was a part of the Communist Party of Russia. All Federation members were bound by Russian party discipline. It was on these pre-existing foundations, in March 1919, at the instigation of the Communist Party of Russia, that the Communist International was founded.

* * *

The Communist International claimed to be the inheritor of the best traditions of the First and the Second Internationals to which Marx and Engels, each in his own way, had given a blessing. Yet the First and the Second Internationals had been associations of equals, ranged around a series of programmatic demands upon which the adherents were substantially agreed. The Communist ‘International’ by contrast set out to be a unified organisation, directed from a single centre, basing its policies and forms of organisation directly on those of the Communist Party of Russia.

In form the national ‘sections’ of the Comintern, each of which was to take the name ‘Communist’ after that of the founding party in Russia, were all to be equals. In real life such equality never rose above the level of conventional myth. The Russian Party not only founded the ‘International’ and gave it a name, it also provided the treasury. Further it largely staffed and directed the headquarters which were domiciled on Russian territory in Moscow. More, the leaders of the Communist Party of Russia actually believed that in their own experience they had uncovered all the basic ‘laws’ of social revolution. Accordingly, now that the ‘science of revolution’ had reached ‘maturity’, all that there remained for others to do was to study, learn from and apply the lessons of the Russian example.

Fundamental to this view was the illusion that in the structure of the Bolshevik Party the Russians had discovered the only form of political organisation able to lead the ‘proletariat’ to victory in the social revolution. The ‘International’ accordingly had to be organised as a facsimile of the Russian party, as did the national ‘sections’, the Communist parties of the world. Since the Russian leaders sat on all the ‘leading committees’ of the ‘International’ with what amounted to a decisive voice, the ultimate, if not entirely intended, effect was to turn the national parties into little more than local units of the Communist Party of Russia.

The Bolsheviks had conducted the November coup under the illusion that the ‘masses’ everywhere would rally to their aid and rapidly rescue them from isolation. The expected apocalypse was not forthcoming. The Bolsheviks were left stranded high and dry. Their coup d'état, based as it was on a whole set of fallacious assumptions, now proved misplaced. The early Christians found themselves in a similar dilemma when Christ failed to return a second time. The Bolsheviks too, in their turn, came to convince themselves that their prognosis had been correct, that it was only the time-scale of their prophecies that had been at error. Little by little the external constraints imposed by the Russian environment transmuted Bolshevism from the programme of a utopian revolutionary sect into the political system whereby a tiny, unrepresentative ‘socialist’ minority maintained its arbitrary rule over the captive citizens of the Russian Republic. The phenomenon was not at all a new one. Three centuries earlier the Jesuit Order had ruled in just this fashion over the conquered Indians of Paraguay. The Bolsheviks began as a group united by faith. Like the Jesuits they hardened into a privileged oligarchy, one recruited and maintained not on the basis of class, but of belief. [1]

The Marxian economic analysis from which the Bolsheviks derived their original understanding of Russian society dealt with classes rather than with castes. In such texts, the Bolshevik leaders, the Bolshevik Party, found no adequate warning of the process of transformation from revolutionary sect to secular priestly caste that they were forced to undergo. The process once complete, the Bolshevik Party, like the tsarist autocracy beforehand, came to rule the Russian people much as a colonial administration rules a conquered territory. The Party, like the Tsar before it, never failed to express the highest moral concern for the welfare of Russia’s subject people. This did not prevent it administering its domain, organising the national resources and ruling the population solely in its own interests, not at all those of the people themselves. The Bolsheviks thus conquered Russia while understanding ‘socialism’ to have one meaning. Once in power, almost unwittingly, they came to attribute to it quite another.

These developments, forced upon the Bolshevik Party by the circumstances of its rule in Russia, through the apparatus of the Communist International, found their necessary reflection in the life and activity of every Communist party in the world. No national Communist party was subject to the same external environmental constraints as the ‘master’ Communist Party ruling in Russia. Yet the constitution of the Comintern enforced upon all its ‘national sections’ the duty to act as if it were, just the same. Thus the ‘foreign Communist parties’ too began by giving socialism one meaning and ended by giving it quite another.

Lenin’s faction, which Trotsky as early as 1904 had termed an ‘orthodox theocracy’, thus gave birth to the great secular religion of the twentieth century. Bolshevism begins as an obscure cult gathered around the person of a messianic leader, grows into a state party governing a domain of imperial dimensions. When we study these developments it is as if, suddenly, there had been made available for consultation by the historian of Christianity, not only the persons, but also the biographies, the autobiographies, the verbatim texts of the sermons of Christ, Peter and the Apostles, together with eyewitness accounts of the miracles, not to mention the newly-opened archives of the secret political police of the Roman Empire.

What we are faced with in each case is the elevation of certain very ordinary events – in the case of the Roman Empire that of the crucifixion of one little-known individual; in the case of the Russian Empire that of a palace coup, Latin American style – into historic myth, and their subsequent development, by forces quite beyond their control, into ‘cults’ of global dimensions.

Much of the attractive power of the Bolshevik coup d'état, the ‘Russian Revolution’ as it mistakenly appeared to so many in other lands, lay in its apocalyptic quality, the semi-religious promise it gave of a new world rising phoenix-like out of the ashes of the old. In retrospect the utopian hopes engendered by ‘1917’ appear at best disconcertingly naive. It is indeed difficult to resist the conviction that for most of the Bolshevik leaders their early high hopes came rapidly to fade.

In the nature of things, the administration of the territory of the former tsarist empire, the maintenance of order in that vast domain and the arbitrary suppression of all who offered resistance to the new authority absorbed by far the greater part of the energies of the Bolshevik leaders. Zinoviev might indeed be the ‘leader’ of the Communist International. Yet his authority derived less from the world proletariat than from his position as Communist Party Secretary, holding Petrograd, Russia’s most important city, in something like personal or party fief. Trotsky might appear to some abroad as the Comintern’s incomparable tribune of the world revolution. Yet by any test his governmental functions – as Russian Foreign Minister and as Commander in Chief of the Russian Army – successively conferred on him far more power, far more authority, than ever his Comintern career did. Lenin’s time, of necessity, was almost totally absorbed in holding the hastily-reconstructed Russian state apparatus together, in devising the tricks and stratagems required to ensure the day-to-day survival of the Bolshevik regime. As the weight of Russian reality bore heavily on the shoulders of the Bolshevik leaders, so too, from the very beginning it weighed heavily on the Communist International. The ‘party of the world revolution’ was first and foremost the ‘party of the government of Russia’. Given the circumstances, it could never have been otherwise.

* * *

At 60 years distance one is prone to forget the extent to which the revolution which dethroned the Tsar took the Bolshevik leaders, the Bolshevik Party, totally by surprise. In 1916 Bukharin was living in Scandinavia, within one day’s journey of Russian soil. In October of that year, Bukharin bade Lenin farewell, abandoned Europe altogether and emigrated to the United States. Bukharin was soon hired to work as a professional journalist, becoming editorial secretary of a Russian-language socialist daily newspaper in New York. Like many other Russian émigrés, Bukharin was quickly launched on a new career in the USA. Trotsky was expelled from France to Spain late in 1916. Socialist comrades cleared the road for him to travel through Italy to take refuge in neutral Switzerland. Trotsky chose instead to follow Bukharin across the Atlantic, to embark like him on a new life in the United States. Once arrived Trotsky quickly settled into a very comfortable apartment complete with ‘electric light, gas cooking range, bath, telephone, automatic service elevator and even a chute for the garbage’. Met by Bukharin on the day of arrival, Trotsky was hired to work alongside him on the paper Novyi Mir. Lenin and Zinoviev were at this time in Switzerland. Only weeks before the Tsar was toppled from his throne Lenin publicly put on record the view that ‘the revolution’ was not to be expected in his lifetime. If Trotsky and Bukharin had felt differently it is difficult to imagine that they would have sailed for New York, almost at the very moment that revolution was about to break out in Russia. As for the Bolshevik Party, it seems to have been on the verge of dissolution. That it played no part at all in the overthrow of the Tsar, even its own official Stalinist historians seem to be agreed. [2]

It is easy to forget too, that the revolutionism of Russia’s new rulers was sometimes as much forced upon them from without as freely decided upon from within. In 1918 Lenin, Trotsky and the Bolshevik Party were all prepared to accept British and French aid the better to pursue the war against Germany. The Communist International was launched in March 1919 at least in part because Russia, shut out of the Versailles Treaty negotiations, was trying to force her way in. When that endeavour failed Russia opposed Versailles, denounced the League of Nations as a ‘League of Robbers’, then negotiated at Rapallo a treaty intended to divert the forces of German nationalism westwards against France and Britain. In the mid-1930s when Russia was once accepted into the League of Nations, the Comintern, as an independent arm of state policy, was downgraded almost to nothing. Had the visitors at Versailles been more far-sighted, had they been prepared to grant the de facto government of Russia a place at the conference table, the Communist International, and with it the Communist parties in each country, as we know them today, might never have been born at all.

* * *

Once established, the Comintern, like any other bureaucratic organism, engendered a momentum all its own. The Communist parties and the Comintern sprang from the Bolshevik coup d'état which followed the Russian revolution of March 1917. The Comintern’s distinctive ideology ('Lenin-ism’), its first leaders, ideologues, organisers and propagandists, were Russian citizens, members of the Communist Party of Russia, almost to a man. Through the Comintern, the Russian forms of organisation, the Russian ideological stance (together with the factional disputes of the Russian leaders), the modes of operation of the Russian state, the interests of its rulers, were all grafted onto sections of the trade-union and Socialist movement in every country in the world. In the end, after massive injections of money and other forms of material support, the Communist parties, if puny, became none the less forces in their own right.

The injection of ‘Moscow Gold’ (it was indeed sometimes ‘gold’ but more often diamonds, stock certificates or more simply foreign currency) was essential to the formation of the Communist parties, as we now know them, in each country. The new tsars, like the old, expended money lavishly abroad to buttress their political friends, to subvert and destroy their critics and opponents.

That the Communist parties should now deny this is strange, given that they boasted of it triumphantly at the time. The principle in any case was not a new one. In Britain’s case at least cash subsidies to allies had played a crucial role in the conduct of all her foreign wars. One may say of the link between Lenin, Russia and the ‘world revolution’ what has been written elsewhere of the relationship between TE Lawrence, British imperialism and the ‘risings’ of the tribes of Arabia in 1914-18. ‘Lawrence could certainly not have done what he did without gold, but no one else could have done it with ten times the amount.’ [3] In the one case as in the other, the gold was a necessary, but not in itself a sufficient, condition.

The Communist parties took the form they did because of gold, but not for that reason alone. The precondition for the effectiveness of external aid was the division in the Socialist ranks caused by the outbreak of the First World War, the widespread disillusion with formal political processes that the war brought about and the near disintegration of whole areas of European society that followed the conclusion of hostilities. In such circumstances whole layers of the Socialist movement came to want to believe in Russia. Allegiance was first given to the fact of the Russian Revolution, through it to the leaders of the Russian state, through them to the Communist International and through the Comintern to the Communist parties which were the organs serving the interest of the ‘Revolution’ in the outside world. [4] The act of faith came first, the discovery of reasons for belief came only later. In scarcely a single case did adherence spring from prior rational analysis, from intellectual conviction of the validity of Bolshevik ‘principles’ which in any case were largely unknown at that time. The process of conversion began with an act of faith: it was followed by a series of ‘rationalisations’ couched in the Marxoid-Leninoid jargon of that day.

If only for this reason all the ‘True Communist’ dissenters were doomed from the very beginning. [5] The Communist parties sprang from the ‘Institutional Revolutionary Party’ of the Russian state, its base as secure in Moscow as that of the Catholic Church in Rome. Those who broke discipline might at best, like Luther and like Trotsky, end by establishing a new schismatic Church of their own. All their hopes to refashion the original Church in their own image were never more than self-delusion. The only real battles for the control of the Comintern were fought out in Moscow amongst the Russian leaders. To the victors, the Comintern and the loyalty of all the Communist parties came as part of the spoil.

* * *

The Comintern attracted to itself, from the very earliest years, individuals of widely differing types. Their characteristics varied greatly from place to place, from nation to nation. In the United States, to quote one example, the Communist Party was until the 1930s composed almost entirely of the foreign-born: foreign-speaking recruits from the language federations of the Socialist Party of the United States. [6] In a similar fashion considerations of nationalism, foreign policy alignment and Slav affiliation influenced the recruitment of ‘cadres’ in all the border territories of the Russian state. Communist party policy in such territories – as the formation of ‘Communist’ puppet governments in the wake of the invading Russian armies in Poland in 1920, in Finland in 1940, in Poland again in 1944-45, made plain – could not be separated from those of the Russian state.

The Communist parties succeeded too in attracting individuals from opposite ends of the social spectrum. Comfortably-off, professional, middle-class intellectuals at one extreme, anarchistically-inclined proletarian elements at the other.

The intellectuals were courted by the Russian Party, the Comintern apparatus, from the very beginning. Leninist dogma held that consciousness could only be brought to the working class from without. ‘Inevitably’ it was upon such middle-class elements that the ‘leadership’ of the assault on bourgeois society, the ‘construction’ thereafter of the ‘new order’ must depend. It was precisely individuals from such social strata that constituted the ‘leading cadres’ of the Bolshevik Party in Russia. That many of their counterparts in other countries should be attracted to the Communist International was in the circumstances not surprising.

Every Communist party required its quota of logic-chopping, time-serving, ‘Marxist-Leninist’ journalists and theologians [7] – ‘dialecticians’, able to prove by erudite quotation and ex post facto argument, that in Russia, as in the world of Candide, ‘all was for the best, in this the best of all possible worlds’, men able convincingly to prove that whatever the Comintern proposed today, however different this was from what was proposed the day before, it was nonetheless the true ‘revolutionary’ policy, its lineage indubitably derived from the canonical fathers of Bolshevism. Hardly praiseworthy, such talents continue to leave their mark on the Socialist movement up to the present day.

The renewal of medieval scholasticism in a ‘Leninist’ guise was one innovation introduced into the Socialist movement by Bolshevism. The seduction of anarchist elements, the transformation of their drive for liberty into the service of authoritarianism, was another.

The anarcho-syndicalists pointed out, whole decades before Lenin and the Bolsheviks, that the revolutionary pretensions of Social Democracy had been greatly exaggerated. The bureaucratic structures and largely reformist aims of the Socialist parties, the anarcho-syndicalists contended, were greatly at odds with their professed revolutionary objectives. Accordingly the anarcho-syndicalists declared war on ‘compromise’, sought ‘revolution’ rather than reform as a direct and immediate road to the achievement of a fully libertarian society.

Bolshevism was able to ‘take over’ a very large part of these attitudes and redirect them to its own purposes. Bolshevism claimed that the ‘revolution’ in Russia was already complete. Here the libertarian ‘classless society’ was already in process of formation. The ‘world revolution’, as anarchists and others had long asserted, truly was on the order of the day. The ‘masses’ innately willing, were held back, ‘betrayed’, ‘misled’, by the Social-Democratic ‘labour lieutenants of capital’ who held them in thrall. Accordingly the Comintern sought to enlist under its banner all the libertarian, anti-authoritarian sentiment of the anarcho-syndicalist left, the better to unleash it as a weapon against Social-Democracy in all its guises. The Russian state, the Russian Communist Party, the Comintern, the Communist parties, all of course were far more ‘bureaucratic’ than Social-Democracy ever was. Yet in their case these failings were to be exempted from criticism by the ‘historic myth’ of the ‘Russian Revolution’. They were in any case to be explained away by the demonic nature of ‘capitalist encirclement’, by the regrettable but nonetheless ‘necessary’ authoritarian features of the Bolshevik regime that this involved.

* * *

In the 1970s Russia is no longer the only nation in which the Leninist cult holds state power. Communist governments also rule in seven countries in Central and Eastern Europe: Poland, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, Hungary, Rumania and Yugoslavia. ‘Eurocommunism’ in part represents a reflection in the West of the varying degrees of independence manifested by Russia’s border states in the last.

Yet the long-term objective of the Communist ‘leaders’ in the West certainly continues to be to assert their ‘hegemony’, to assimilate to themselves all political power, to rule in the Russian manner. Exactly for this reason the ‘Eurocommunist’ parties continue to organise themselves on the same paramilitary lines as the Communist Party which rules in Russia, as its facsimiles which rule in Eastern Europe. Inside each ‘Eurocommunist’ party all power continues to be tightly held in the hands of a salaried, highly-bureaucratic party apparatus. The ‘Eurocommunist’ leaders have their hearts set on a monopoly of political power on the Eastern European model. Yet no more than their counterparts in Eastern Europe do they wish to be totally subordinate to Moscow’s arbitrary will. [8] It is an essential part of this process that the ‘Bolshevik myth’ itself, in part at least, has come to fade. Even in the highest echelons of the Communist parties there begins to become manifest a belated recognition that Russian society provides no ‘ideal model’ for socialism, a consequent insistence that not all the obiter dicta of the Moscow Cardinals shall be universally obligatory elsewhere. Alongside this goes the emergence of public declarations, in which truth and falsehood are inextricably mixed, that in Communist eyes, ‘Revolution’, the ‘Dictatorship of the Proletariat’ (read Communist Party) are no longer to be considered the prerequisite for the transition to socialism. A surprising number of well-read, well-informed political commentators appear to find these propositions original. They are of course nothing of the sort. These were precisely the issues over which the Communist parties split away from the Socialist movement in the first place, more than half a century ago. These positions, belatedly being adopted by the ‘Eurocommunist’ parties, are exactly those which Socialists, over more than 60 years, fought to defend against a Communist onslaught of unprecedented fury and duration.

Since the Comintern and the Communist parties without exception were Russian in origin from the very beginning, those ‘Eurocommunists’ who no longer believe in Russia find themselves in a situation analogous to those Christians, theologians, clerics and laymen alike, who no longer believe in the divinity of Christ. The system of belief, the attitude of mind, the dogma, the ritual, the liturgy, the organisational structure, the salaried posts, the sentimental associations all linger on. Every rational reason for their existence has vanished long ago. Once the belief in the Universality of the Russian Revolution, the Leninist Model, has disappeared, all reason for Communist belief in its twentieth-century form vanishes altogether.


1. In Paraguay, as my friend Frank Ridley once remarked, there existed from one point of view a true utopia since: ‘The Indians did all the work, whilst the Jesuits spent all the money.’ One devout French Christian had discovered in Paraguay a more perfect socialist society than that which exists in Russia. For the account: C Lugon, La République des Guaranis (Paris, 1970).

2. Trotsky arrived in New York on 13 January 1917. For a Bolshevik acknowledgment of the Bolsheviks’ failure to play a part in the March uprising which overthrew the Tsar, see History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (B) (Moscow, 1941), pp 174-76.

3. I am indebted to Harry McElroy for this quotation. The source is ‘AWL’, quoted in Clouds Hill, National Trust Guide to TE Lawrence’s cottage in Dorset, pp 7-8.

4. Thus a contemporary observer: ‘... the chief appeal that Soviet Russia makes to the imagination of socialists is... the appeal to fact... A governing class has been destroyed...’ (M Reckitt, The Meaning of National Guilds (London, 1920), p 215)

5. Trotsky, it should be remembered, was always a ‘Papal Pretender’, never an ‘Anti-Pope.’

6. In the 1920s ‘87 per cent of our Communists were members of foreign-language federations and of the 1750 in the English-speaking branches, the majority were foreign-born who spoke their English with a decided foreign accent’. On this see B Gitlow, I Confess (New York, 1939), p 216.

7. ‘I had returned [from Moscow] to France in October 1921... In the Communist Party and on L'Humanité most of the leaders and editorial staff [formerly members of the Socialist Party] had remained in the party out of self-interest rather than conviction.’ (Alfred Rosmer, Lenin’s Moscow (London, 1971), p 143)

8. For this insight into the ‘Eurocommunist’ phenomenon I am indebted to my friend David Goldey of Lincoln College, Oxford.