Alfred Rosmer

Moscow in Lenin’s Days: 1920–21


Source: New International, Vol. XXI No. 2, Summer 1955, pp. 98–119 Vol. XXI No. 3, Fall 1955, pp. 188–197, Vol. XXI No. 4, Winter 1955–56, pp. 236–239. & Vol. XXII No. 2, Summer 1956, pp. 133–135. Translated: by Max Shachtman, James Fenwick & W.M.
Transcribed & marked up: by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

With this issue we begin the publication of extensive extracts from a work of capital importance and interest. Although the original French edition of Alfred Rosmer’s book has already been translated and published in Italy, an English edition has yet to be issued. We are all the happier to be able to provide our readers with an English translation and although it is not possible, to our great regret, to publish the entire work in our pages for that would spread it over too long a period of time, the bulk of the book will, with the kind consent of the author, be printed here in substantial installments.

“The destiny of the Russian Revolution,” writes Rosmer in his preface, “the daily gymnastics of recent years which are designated as ‘Marxism-Leninism,’ pose important questions: Is Stalin continuing Lenin? Is the totalitarian regime only another form of what was called the dictatorship of the proletariat? Was the worm already in the fruit? Is Stalinism ‘a logical and almost inevitable development of Leninism,’ as Norman Thomas asserts? In order to reply, you must first know the facts, the ideas, the men, just as they were in the heroic days of the Revolution; a preliminary work of excavation is necessary, for they have been systematically buried under successive layers of varying falsehoods. My work is aimed at helping restore them as they were in truth. I will simply say: I was there; this is how it was. My intention is to facilitate the task of those who are interested in the history of those times by placing every fact in its true light, by giving every text its full sense.”

Alfred Rosmer comes to his task uniquely equipped. He is the only survivor among the founders of the Communist International who is in a position to write about the history of its early years out of intimate and direct knowledge, which he communicates with sympathetic understanding, objectivity and critical independence of judgment. The idea of justifying everything that was said and everything that was done, even in the “heroic days of the Revolution,” is alien to him. So is the practise of retailing, let alone inventing, malicious gossip about all sorts of trivialities, which is the stock-in-trade of a whole school of embittered turncoats and cheap jack sensationalists, and which always warps and shreds the great canvas of great events beyond recognition. The present work again justifies the exceptional reputation for intellectual integrity and historical scrupulosity which the author has had in the eyes of all who have known him from his earliest days as a syndicalist militant in the French General Confederation of Labor which he served for years before the First World War as editor of its then famous paper, La Vie Ouvrière, throughout his years in the Communist and then the Trotskyist movements, to the present day, where he continues an unflagging dedication to the cause of socialist liberty in his writings and his presidency of the Cercle Zimmerwald, the association of the French left-wing militants who remain pledged to the principles of internationalism.

The present translation is the work of Max Shachtman. – Editor

* * *

XI. Among the Delegates to the Second Congress
of the Communist Int’n’l

XII. Radek Speaks of Bakunin

XIII. Smolny – The Solemn Opening Session
of the Second Congress

XIV. The Debates at the Second Congress

XV. Trotsky Delivers the Closing Speech on the Manifesto

XVI. The Eastern People’s at the Baku Congress

XVII. The Russian Trade Unions

XVIII. The Anarchists
Death and Funeral Rites for Kropotkin


II. The Kronstadt Uprising

Last updated on: 26 October 2019