Alfred Rosmer 1925

On “Since Lenin Died”

Source: La Révolution Prolétarienne, no. 6, June 1925;
Translated: for by Mitch Abidor;
CopyLeft: Creative Commons (Attribute & ShareAlike) 2005.

A book has just come out in London that has had a resounding effect on working class circles.

This won’t be surprising once we consider that it’s a matter of a serious, in-depth, non-official study of the recent crisis in the Russian Communist Party, written by a man who, since 1917, has never ceased fighting for the Russian Revolution and communism, in many cases making a precious contribution to them both. We will doubtless soon have a French translation of this book and thus the occasion to speak of it at greater length, but we can already make several remarks provoked by the English publication and the discussion it has caused.

Max Eastman, the author of this book, is well known in America and England, but less so in France. Nevertheless, those who didn’t wait until 1924 to become acquainted with the Russian Revolution and Bolshevism have had more than one occasion to become acquainted with him and the review he published in New York, at first called “The Masses” and then, after a court case, “The Liberator” and today “The Workers’ Monthly.” This review was one of the rare international publications to pitilessly denounce the imperialist war, and it was this review that disseminated information, the most useful documents, and eyewitness testimonies on the subject of the Russian Revolution. John Reed was one of its principal collaborators, and it was to “The Liberator” that he sent his clear sighted correspondence on the Kerensky regime and then, after the Bolshevik seizure of power, the essential chapters of his book “Ten Days That Shook the World.”

“The Liberator” quickly gathered around it all those who throughout the world immediately gave their unreserved adherence to the Bolshevik Revolution. It is well known that at that time our Russian comrades were ferociously blockaded, isolated. No possibility existed to communicate with their friends outside or for them to be informed of what was occurring outside Russia. “The Liberator” forced the blockade and every month put out its ample contingent of true information, its just commentaries: precious munitions in the battle to be delivered in America and Europe against the bourgeoisie and its social-democratic lackeys who, through systematic falsehoods, attempted to lead the workers astray. One can obtain an idea of the reach of “The Liberator” and its influence in that time of ardent and difficult life in the Russia of the Soviets when we realize that its circulation reached 50,000.

Let it not be said that this was simply a matter of a sentimental defense of the Russian Revolution. Along with information, and backing his opinions up with facts, Eastman examined the new ideas that the formidable shakeup provoked by the collapse of czarism spread throughout the world. It is thus that from the Spring of 1917, at a time when there was little talk of Lenin, he wrote that the Soviets must and will become the sole power; and at the moment they were taken he defended the measures by which the Bolsheviks assured and consolidated the power of the Soviets, from the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly to the trial of the Socialist-Revolutionaries. Comprehensive approbations from an authentic Communist who, when the occasion arises, doesn’t fear to criticize.

Eastman was in Russia when the recent crisis broke put, singularly aggravated by the illness and death of Lenin. He has been there for quite a while. He had seriously studied the development of the revolution, its various phases, learning things for himself, studying the language, and crossing the country in all directions. As a result he was in a perfect position to understand the profound and true meaning of the crisis, being, as we have seen, a man who doesn’t simply repeat what he’s been told.

It was only after careful reflection that he decided to write and publish his book. The criticisms of the leaders of the Russian Communist Party and their methods risk touching the revolution itself. But given the current state of affairs, it is certain that the first duty is to precisely inform the workers about the discussions that have had such wide repercussions within the International.

The “Bolshevization ŕ lá Zinoviev” has everywhere spread its ravages, in England and elsewhere. Among other misdeeds, it has marvelously succeeded in distorting characters, in debasing men. It would be simple for us to cite a few too striking examples. The English “Bolsheviks” have not failed to act according to the new methods when dealing with Eastman. In order to combat him, his ideas have been travestied, gross falsifications have been committed, lies have been spread. But however sad it might be to ceaselessly come up against such methods, in the present case one must see in this an involuntary and unconscious homage to the lasting value of Max Eastman’s work.