Victor Serge

Bolshevism and Asia

(February 1927)

From Revolutionary History, Vol. 5 No. 3.
Originally published in Clarté (new series), No. 7, March 1927.
Translated by Gregor Benton & Al Richardson.
Transcribed by Alun Watson.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

IF the importance of a matter is to be measured by the amount of stupidity and the number of gunboats it moves about in the world, there is no more serious question at present than that of the awakening of Asia. This awakening of old, oppressed and exploited peoples whom we are accustomed to regard as virtually passive objects to be conquered, plundered, divided and ‘administered in an enlightened fashion’, is revealed by the national revolution in Turkey, the victorious struggles in China, the massive and deep preparation in India, and the regaining of independence by Persia and Afghanistan. [1] The exploitation of the colonies as sources of raw materials and vast markets became in the nineteenth century the foundation of the great prosperity of capitalist Europe. Now that the foundation has been shaken, what will happen to this edifice, which is already cracked in other ways? The relative social peace of the continent before the war was to a great extent due to the exploitation of the colonies. The lucrative sweat of hundreds of millions of black, yellow, olive and brown slaves accumulated such riches in the metropolitan countries that it was easy to skim off a modest proportion for the benefit of the working class, or, to be more precise, for the aristocracy of labour. The stability of the capitalist world ultimately rested upon the participation of at least a part of the working class in colonial exploitation. Recalling this elementary fact allows us to understand what an immense revolutionary threat hangs over capitalist Europe as a result of the awakening of Asia, and how deep is the connection between the nationalist movements of the East and the proletarian revolutionary movement of the West …

The amount of stupidity and the number of gunboats moved about the world oblige us to ponder this. Whilst cruisers sail and chancelleries work, their faithful intellectuals carry out parallel tasks. Any preparation of artillery today is preceded by an intellectual preparation. A marvellous feat of synchronisation! The press, magazines, literature, criticism, history and philosophy, taking up Wilhelm II’s refrain (the yellow peril) [2], have for many years been denouncing the Asiatic peril. Restricting ourselves to recent documentation, we might here refer to The Times, Le Temps, and the Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung; to M. René Grousset, a serious historian, M. Paul Morand, a short story writer, M. Henri Massis, a Catholic reactionary, and Romain Rolland, a ‘revolutionary’ (in the domain of the spirit only, of course …) [3], names, titles and texts in abundance. And lies, unfortunately, in abundance too.

The weaknesses of contemporary understanding — which is bourgeois — are beginning to appear to us at times in stark relief. This understanding, like the society whose most subtle emanation it is, is marked by insoluble contradictions. It would be puerile and pernicious to deny its admirable successes; but it would be no less dangerous for proletarian revolutionaries not to notice its weaknesses, at times lamentable and at times farcical. Contemporary understanding has some curiously defined limits. Farsighted, audacious, brave and innovative as long as it advances upon firm social ground, it becomes confused, hesitant, inarticulate, shy and quickly retraces its steps at the slightest disturbance of its social ground. In other words, as long as scientific investigation does not endanger the established order, as long as the progress of the sciences (both intellectual and technical) increases the power of the capitalist system, modern understanding goes forward. We might also say that as long as the bourgeoisie is revolutionary, its intellectuals are revolutionary as well. But as soon as scientific progress becomes revolutionary in relation to a bourgeoisie that has become reactionary, as soon as scientific research results in conclusions prejudicial to the established order, understanding stops dead at this exact point, and we witness remarkable about turns that in less than a generation bring the thought of a country with a great tradition of philosophical materialism into mysticism, arrayed, as is fitting, in fresh raiment. In a number of states in the great American democracy the teaching of Darwinism is officially forbidden in the name of the Bible. We would have to be blind not to see the social causes of this legislation, the exact counterpart of that which makes a crime of sabotage, equates militant workers with spies, and punishes ‘criminal trade unionism’ with forced labour. [4]

Long ago Marx showed how capitalist development quickly checked the progress of political economy: ‘Political economy can remain a science only so long as the class struggle is latent or manifests itself only in isolated or sporadic phenomena.’ As soon as the class struggle had developed, ‘in place of disinterested inquirers, there were hired prize-fighters; in place of genuine scientific research, the bad conscience and the evil intent of apologetic’. [5] This was the case with political economy even before 1850. And what are we to say of historical writing today? That dealing with the Great War, for example, in all capitalist countries, is obviously only apologetic and falsification. And as for ‘philosophy’ and ‘morality’, they were always the obedient servants of the ruling classes.

The confusion of the intellectuals in the face of the awakening of Asia can be explained by similar causes. Confusion? Is that the right word? Men and groups are disoriented; so the honest intellectual probes — the type is not rare, for good faith is one of the conditions for success in the work of elaborating ideas which is the social mission of intellectuals — searches painfully and gropes his way. No doubt. However, we are in general witnessing the already well advanced elaboration of a reactionary ideology intended to mobilise opinion with a view to the class wars and colonial wars to come.

The fact is that a certain number of ideas on Bolshevism, Russia and Asia have already entered the public domain to such an extent that some intellectuals sincerely sympathetic to the party of the proletariat are accepting them without discussion. Thus ‘Russia is Asia’, ‘Bolshevism is Asiatic’. From these common and convenient premises reactionaries are deducing the defence of the West (M. Henri Massis) against oriental ‘barbarism’, or against the ‘decadence’ of the East, or even against forms of civilisation and culture ‘profoundly alien’ to European culture (which during the war was one of the main anti-Russian themes of the German press). All these words disguise so many hazy notions, so much bad faith and class feeling that we should not be allowed to quote them without resorting to quotation marks to indicate the necessary reservations.

Some ‘revolutionaries’ are deducing from these common and convenient premises that ‘light comes from the East’, and that Bolshevism, bringing Russia back to its ‘Asiatic origins’, is finding in the East the elements of a new culture … These ideas, much less explicitly developed than those of the reactionaries, are no less widespread. They even have supporters in Russia. We would do well to remember the fine poem of Alexander Blok [6]: ‘Yes, we are Scythians, yes, Asiatics. With slanting, greedy eyes.’ The poet, then close to the Left Socialist Revolutionaries [7], who were publishing a magazine entitled The Scythians, uses as an epigraph two lines by the mystic Vladimir Soloviev: ‘Pan-Mongolism. This word, however bizarre, is sweet to my ears.’

I recently heard a young proletarian poet read a poem in a small group that ended with these words: ‘O old Europe, we will stone thee!’ A French translation of Boris Pilnyak’s The Naked Year has just been published. The entire work of this Russian writer [8] incessantly develops, sometimes in a masterly fashion, as in the powerful novel the City of St Petersburg, the theme that Russia is Asia, Asia. All roads meet at the Pamirs, the heart of old Asia …

These theories rest upon an abuse of geographical concepts and a superficial observation of customs. Of all the countries in Europe, Russia is without a doubt the one which in the course of its long history has been most subject to the ascendancy of Asia. The yoke of the Mongols lasted until the end of the fifteenth century. [9] This was not, however, the yoke of barbarian hordes, but that of a solidly organised and powerful military empire, with a fairly developed culture. By ethnography and in certain respects by its customs, European Russia is really close to Asia. Turkestan, Siberia and the Soviet Far East belong in many ways to Asia, but to a very Europeanised Asia in its main centres. Now in talking about manners, customs and ways of life it is necessary to disentangle the role of ethnic and historic influences from that of economic influences. The Asiaticism of the Russian countryside is most often, we think, scarcely Asiatic at bottom; it is the condition of a peasant provided with very backward equipment. The wooden plough is still used in certain forgotten corners of northern Russia. [10] But the peasant who uses it is neither Scyth nor Mongol. He is a very backward European. He changes in no more than six months, as soon as a cooperative gets him an iron plough, or, better, a machine tractor. This peasant has very close brethren in all backward agricultural countries: in the forgotten hamlets of Europe and South America, for example. Race provides far too easy explanations for social problems. We should be on our guard against ethnographic romanticism.

At the time when the Russian Empire, with its feudal and religious autocracy, its Byzantine social hierarchy, its obscurantist Holy Synod, its all-powerful Okhrana, its persecution of the Jews [11], its chronic famines and the dazzling luxury of its capitals, was the faithful ally of French democracy, the intellectuals of the West did not give any thought to the authentic Asiaticism of this ‘great European power’. The Russian Empire in fact belonged to the system of imperialist powers, being, it is true, a particular, semi-colonial type. It owed its economic progress to capital imported from abroad. A good share of the surplus value extracted from the labour of the Russian worker mounted up in the vaults of Paris, London and Berlin. The Empire’s military power was built on French money.

The Russian Revolution was the collapse, under the pressure of the proletariat, of the least resistant, the youngest and the most war-weary part of the imperialist system of the Entente. [12]

Capitalist Europe, for many years subject to a formidable conflict of forces, broke at its weakest point, which was — as is logical and natural — the strongest point of the international proletariat. The Russian proletariat, with its great revolutionary experience, confronted a youthful bourgeoisie, quite inexperienced, few in numbers, and deprived of the support of a middle class democracy; and it had the support of the peasant movement.

The British bourgeoisie had something to do with the fall of Nicholas II [13], and the Scythians had nothing to do with it. The Russian Revolution was the completion of a new Europe.

The European spirit is characterised by scientific thought, inseparable from practical activity, and by industrial technique, summed up in the development of mechanised production. We must add a qualification. This spirit is only European in its historical origins; in its application, its developments and its ends it tends towards universality. European civilisation has this double basis: the machine in the economy and the experimental method in the sciences. It has produced mechanisation, great industrial concentrations, and the proletariat.

Scientific thought, handled by men thoroughly possessing a European culture, gave the proletariat a clear understanding of its mission, and of its higher interests. The founders and adherents of scientific socialism, from Marx to Lenin’s successors, have placed at the disposal of the proletariat the keenest intellectual weapon that Europe has produced: dialectical materialism.

It is doubtless not without value in this connection to remind ourselves of Bolshevism’s line of descent. In the nineteenth century Marx had brought about a synthesis of German, French and British thought ‘into a higher unity’ [14]; Hegel’s dialectic [15] and the political experience of France, the only country in which the bourgeois revolution had won a rapid and complete victory, were the elements of this synthesis.

From 1900 onwards this quintessence of European thought only preserved its purity — or should we say all its vitality — in the teaching of a handful of Russians (Plekhanov [16] and Lenin). The development of imperialism and the economic and political corruption of a great part of the proletariat of the western countries by the skilful methods of democracy had obscured the class consciousness of the workers. Opportunism adapted the teaching of Marx to the needs of bourgeois society. A handful of Russians and Germans, Lenin and Rosa Luxemburg [17], resisted it. Their merit was not personal; the genius of Lenin, great as it was, could only live and operate within the context of a given social situation. Russia was the weakest point of international capitalism, and the strongest point of the international proletariat. The Russian labour movement was served by magnificent teams of intellectuals loyal body and soul to the proletariat, because the country’s middle classes were revolutionaries as regards the old order, and because the Russian bourgeoisie did not have the capacity to corrupt and enlist in its service the entirety of the intellectuals, as in the western democracies.

The Russian Revolution unfolded entirely in accordance with a system of scientific thought that proved to be astonishingly reliable and sure of itself. Lenin, leaving Switzerland for Russia a few days after the toppling of Nicholas II, had traced out its programme with a firm hand and defined its greatest possibilities and even its limits [18] for eight months, and in some respects, many years in advance. His predictions were based solely upon the analysis of facts, of social factors, and of their dynamics. From March to the October insurrection the policy of the Bolshevik Party, deriving from a consistent Marxist analysis of the situation, step by step resisted its own traditions, the influence of some acquired ideas, the pull of the masses, and the pressure of sentiment; it was a policy of reason and resolute will. The great party marching towards the dictatorship reminds you of a ship: every ship is guided across the ocean by a human brain equipped with the knowledge of natural laws. But social dynamics are far more complex than those of the elements or of machines. The October insurrection provides us with the model of a revolution accomplished by countless masses, under the clear, attentive and minutely organised leadership of a great proletarian party. It was accomplished, as Trotsky has rightly emphasised, on a fixed date [19], without the dispersal of forces and without thoughtless actions. To sum up, it was characterised by the maximum of organisation in action. Bolshevik policy, showing proof of the maturity of the proletariat, as we have seen, obeyed disciplines of action and thought that were strictly European.

How does the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics differ essentially from all other states? What is its nature as a Socialist state? It is this: that the USSR is the only country in the world whose entire economic life is regulated, controlled and directed in conformity with a scientific plan. Obviously, the real leaders of capitalist society, the financiers and heads of industry, introduce an element of rational calculation into economic life which it would be foolish to underestimate. The steel cartel, for example, attempts to regularise metal production, and to dominate the market. It is very possible that it will succeed in so doing. The entirety of each capitalist country, however, is outside of any rational control, which means we can speak of capitalist anarchy.

Not long ago Trotsky wrote with reference to the figures of the Planning Commission:

The statisticians of the Harvard Economic Service, when they attempt to determine the tendencies and rates of growth of certain branches of the US economy, are proceeding to a certain extent like astronomers; that is, they attempt to grasp the dynamics of processes that are entirely independent of their control. The difference is merely in the fact that these statisticians by no means work with the accurate methods that are at the disposal of the astronomer. The Russian statisticians, however, are in an entirely different position; they work as members of institutions which are in charge of economic life. A preliminary plan in our case is not merely a product of passive prediction, but also a lever for active economic forethought. In this case, each figure is not only a photograph, but also a guideline.

And again:

… the table [of control figures of the Planning Commission] … represents a dialectical combination of theoretical prediction and practical volition, that is, a union of the calculated objective conditions and tendencies with the subjectively imposed tasks of the workers’ and peasants’ state. Herein lies the chief difference between Gosplan’s general review table and all the statistical summaries, calculations and approximations of any capitalist state … We are dealing here with the immense superiority of our, that is, Socialist, methods over those of capitalist states. [20]

The USSR is the only country in the world where the rationalisation of production and exchange is tenaciously pursued. Everywhere else economic laws are in general merely studied and put up with. Here knowledge of economic laws becomes a capacity for practical activity; the Soviet economist foresees crises and attempts to avoid them, like a pilot, who, when directing his ship towards a safe haven, takes account of the probable shifts of wind and undersea currents. This impressive application to the organisation of social life of methods of scientific action hardly even dreamed of by the most audacious thinkers of the twentieth century is only rendered possible by the dictatorship of the proletariat. It has made humanity take a decisive step towards its complete victory over nature. Since the bourgeois revolution man has achieved brilliant victories over the elements; he has mastered fire, electricity, waterfalls, extended the domain of what is knowable into the infinitely great and the infinitely small, and — no doubt in a relative sense, but to a marvellous degree — conquered time and distance. But in the capitalist countries economic science has not yet resulted in a technology. By a curious paradox social life remains the final domain of ignorance and lack of foresight; the blind laws of the market and competition, and state and class wars, hold sway there … European civilisation has practically overcome plague and leprosy: but it does not know how to cure a country of unemployment. The path of comets, climatic variations and earthquakes are predicted: but they do not know how to predict wars …

Good Lord, you might say, they prepare enough for them! That is precisely what I want to come on to. Sociology, economics, politics and history do not appear to be capable of a truly scientific development in capitalist Europe, since their progress can only be contrary to the interests of the ruling classes. Happily, proletarian Europe has no stake in this stagnation — on the contrary! It takes up again the progressive triumphant traditions of the revolutionary bourgeoisie of earlier days. It knows that it is called upon to crown the work of the nineteenth century, the creator of modern production on the basis of skilled technique, by the rational (which we might call the most equable and intelligent) organisation of this production by human collectives.

International Communism — dialectical materialism and the theory of action of the proletariat — opens up today the highest possibilities of the European civilisation compromised and threatened by the capitalist regime.

It is exercising a great and legitimate influence over the peoples of Asia. What did capitalist Europe bring them? The Bible, alcohol and opium — imposed by the British upon the Chinese with cannon fire — the despotism of viceroys and resident generals, exploitation, plunder, poison gas and the example of bloody rivalries. Communist Europe is bringing them the science of Marx and Lenin, greeted on his deathbed by Sun Yat-sen [21]; opening for them the Chinese universities of Moscow to which Radek [22] is devoting his energies; sending Soviet airmen into Mongolia, Persia and Afghanistan; giving back the concessions taken from them by the Russian autocracy; and proclaiming its solidarity in the face of the British cannon with their movement of emancipation.

Since 1919 the British have the massacre of Amritsar [23] to their credit. Last year the French bombarded Damascus [24], the ancient capital of Muslim culture, whose mosques are worth quite as much as Rheims cathedral; and the British bombarded Wang-Sien. How many deaths? Such is the hideous face of capitalist barbarism turned towards the Orient. And contrasting with it, international Communism, with the Russians in the lead, from today onwards is bringing to the peoples of Asia a deep spiritual liberation, preceding and preparing for their total liberation. Another Europe has been born, Asian brothers! The nightmare of the bombardments is going to end. The proletarians of the West are extending their hands to you, and offering you their finest weapons: their science, their experience, their class consciousness, and their solidarity as oppressed and as revolutionaries.

The influence of Bolshevism over Asia is very great. That of the old Asia of the oppressed over Bolshevism is practically nil. Whoever knows the life of the USSR, however slightly, knows it. The thoughts and ideas of the old Asia, on the other hand, have for some years been finding a very favourable welcome in the cultured circles of the European bourgeoisie. Buddhist studies are in favour in Germany, Britain and America. There are theosophical circles in almost all the world capitals. Count Keyserling’s school of wisdom [25] has followers in the whole of continental Europe, but not among the proletarians … The decadent or despairing spirits of capitalist Europe are turning freely towards the mystery of the great Asian decadences. We Bolsheviks and world Communists are the most vital of Europeans.

February 1927


1. The revolution of the Young Turks overthrew the Sultan and established a republic in 1923, with Mustafa Kemal, called Atatürk (1880-1938), as dictator. In 1921 the nationalist colonel Riza Khan repudiated the Anglo-Persian agreement of 1919 that had made Persia (Iran) a virtual protectorate of British imperialism. In 1919 Amanullah Khan signed the Treaty of Rawalpindi at the end of the Third Anglo-Afghan War, restoring to Afghanistan the right to conduct its own foreign policy. He subsequently visited Moscow, was greatly fêted there, and signed a treaty of friendship with the USSR, which remained in force until 1979. Cf. Harry Wicks, Keeping My Head, London 1992, p. 84.

2. Wilhelm II Hohenzollern (1888-1918), Kaiser of Germany, was outraged by the killing of his ambassador, Baron Klemens von Ketteler, during the Boxer Rising of 1900, and tried to initiate an absurd campaign among the other European powers against what he called ‘the Yellow Peril’.

3. René Grousset (1885-1952) was an orientalist, the author of a well known history of the Crusades. Paul Morand (1888-1976), the writer of such books as Le Flagellant de Séville and La Folle Amoureuse, was later Vichy ambassador to Switzerland. Henri Massis (1886-1970) was the right-wing author of Défense de l’Occident (1928) and L’Homme en Face de Dieu. Romain Rolland (1866-1944) was a French novelist, a pacifist during the First World War, who became a fellow traveller of Stalinism in the 1930s, justifying the Moscow Trials.

4. Until the famous ‘monkey trial’, the teaching of the Darwinian theory of evolution was banned for some decades in certain areas of the USA, as being contrary to the teachings of the Bible. Along with this ban, a wave of repression had spread over the USA following the First World War, in which 35 states passed laws outlawing ‘criminal Syndicalism’, and there were widespread arrests of Communists in 1919 on behalf of the Lusk Committee investigating ‘seditious activities’.

5. Karl Marx, Afterword to the Second German Edition, Capital, Volume 1, Moscow 1958, p. 15.

6. The Scythians were a semi-barbarous tribal people who inhabited southern Russia during the sixth century BC. On the significance of The Scythians by the modernist poet Alexander Blok (1880-1921), cf. Isaac Deutscher, Stalin, Harmondsworth 1970, pp. 383-5.

7. The Socialist Revolutionaries were a peasant party founded in 1901, led by Victor Chernov. During the Russian Revolution they split into two groups. The Left SRs participated in the first revolutionary government along with the Bolsheviks, but turned to terrorism in protest at the signing of the Brest Litovsk peace treaty with Germany in March 1918. The Right SRs opposed the revolution violently from the start, and even formed part of the counter-revolutionary White governments set up by various army generals during the Russian Civil War.

8. Boris Pilnyak [1894-1937], of whom I have spoken to the readers of Clarté on several occasions, and at great length, stands very much to the right of proletarian literature. Communist criticism goes so far as to describe him as a ‘writer representative of the new bourgeoisie’. [Author’s note]

9. The period in Russia of the ascendancy of the Golden Horde, to which the Russian princes had to pay tribute, is generally dated between 1240, when Batu took Kiev, and 1480, when his successors were defeated.

10. On the other side of the USSR, the Khevsours, mountain dwellers of the Caucasus, still wear coats of mail, and on their shoulders the crusader crosses of their grandfathers. These backward Europeans of the fourteenth century make truly Asiatic figures. [Author’s note]

11. The Holy Synod was the Tsarist bureau responsible for church affairs, which censored books and discriminated against all who did not belong to the Russian Orthodox Church. Its procurator was a member of the Cabinet. The Okhrana was the state secret service, notorious for spying, infiltrating revolutionary organisations, and using assassins as provocateurs. Periodic massacres of the Jews, carried out by the Black Hundreds and encouraged by the state, were very common in pre-revolutionary Russia, the most notorious being the Kishinev pogrom of 1903.

12. The Entente Cordiale entered into by Britain and France in 1904 gave its name to the alliance of Britain, France, Serbia, Russia, Belgium, Italy, Romania, the USA and Greece, which was victorious in the First World War.

13. Nicholas II Romanov (1894-1917) was the last of the Tsars, being overthrown by the February Revolution.

14. Cf. Kautsky, Introduction to Marx’s Capital. [Author’s note]

15. The dialectical reasoning of George William Frederick Hegel (1770-1831) formed the philosophical basis of Marxist thought.

16. Georgi Valentinovich Plekhanov (1856-1918) was the pioneer of Marxism in Russia, who passed over to the side of the Entente during the First World War and became a virulent defencist.

17. Rosa Luxemburg (1871-1919) defended the revolutionary content of Marxism when the old leaders of the German SPD abandoned it to support their government in the First World War.

18. After having analysed Lenin’s Letters from Afar (in a series of articles provided for International Correspondence in April 1925), I concluded concerning the two methods (that of the bourgeois politicians and that of the revolutionary Marxists):

The programme of social change sketched out in broad lines in the Letters from Afar was realised, item by item at least during the first years of the revolution (we are leaving on one side the problem of the Soviet state, surrounded for an indefinite time by bourgeois states). Will you permit me to recall, in order to make yet more striking the contrast between the great Marxist revolutionary and the leaders of the bourgeoisie, and the pro-bourgeois Socialist statesman experienced in government (to rule is to foresee …), how the prophecies and declarations of each have been verified? A year later Lloyd George [1863-1945, British Prime Minister] advocated the punishment of war criminals in his electoral campaign: ‘Hang the Kaiser! Hang … Hindenburg!’ We see what became of that. Wilson, greeted as the prophet of the new democracy, crossed the ocean to build the League of Nations and banish war forever … We see what became of that. The senile and wizened ‘Tiger’ Clemenceau [Georges Clemenceau (1841-1929), Prime Minister of France, and a most ardent supporter of war to the finish during the First World War] dictated the Versailles peace treaty, repeating: ‘Make Germany pay!’ We see what became of that … Ebert [Friedrich Ebert, 1871-1925, German President] greeted the dawn of the German republic, which was progressing towards Socialism by way of democracy. We see what became of that! Renner [Karl Renner, 1870-1950, Austrian Chancellor] and Otto Bauer [Heinrich Weber, 1881-1938, Austrian Foreign Minister] created a commission for socialisation in Austria … We see what became of that! [Author’s note]

19. This is probably a reference to Trotsky’s article Is it Possible to Fix a Definite Schedule for Counter-Revolution or a Revolution?, 23 September 1923, Fourth International, Volume 8, no. 7, July-August 1947, pp. 215-7.

20. I provided in La Vie Ouvrière a detailed analysis of this work, devoted to demonstrating the superiority of the economic methods of Socialism, and of their triumph in the USSR. [Author’s note] – L.D. Trotsky, Towards Capitalism or Socialism?, 28 August 1925, The Challenge of the Left Opposition 1923-25, New York 1975, pp. 326-7.

21. Sun Yat-sen (1866-1925) is generally regarded as the founder of modern Chinese nationalism.

22. Karl Berngardovich Radek (1885-1939) was a supporter of the Left Opposition, and principal of the Sun Yat-sen University until his removal in 1927. Apart from this institution, at which there were hundreds of Chinese students, there was also in Moscow the Communist University of the Toilers of the East. Cf. Wang Fan-hsi, Memoirs of a Chinese Revolutionary, New York 1991, pp. 47 ff., and Harry Wicks, Keeping My Head, op. cit., p. 83. Radek later became a hack for Stalin, polemicised violently with Trotsky, and co-authored The Stalin Constitution before perishing in the purges.

23. In 1919 British troops machine gunned a peaceful demonstration in Amritsar (India); nearly 400 dead. [Author’s note]

24. Syria had been awarded as a mandate to France by the Versailles conference. In 1920 the French occupied Damascus after defeating King Feisal’s army.

25. Count Hermann Keyserling (1880-1946) was a philosopher and writer on Eastern mysticism.

Last updated on 15.3.2011