Max Shachtman

In [This] Corner

(9 May 1939)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. III No. 31, 9 May 1939, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

The New Masses of May 9 has finally given the official Stalinist answer to Walter G. Krivitsky’s series of articles in the Saturday Evening Post.

The reply is a crushing refutation of the sensational charges made by Krivitsky against the Stalinist regime and the G.P.U. and under the impact of the blow we are almost ready to apologize for having been taken in by Krivitsky to the extent of reproducing excerpts from his articles in our columns. To do the New Masses justice – and God knows it deserves it – we reprint its point-by-point exposure of Krivitsky in full:

“‘General Krivitsky,’ you are Shmelka Ginsberg.

“You were never a general. You cannot even use a rifle.

“You never set eyes on Stalin or Voroshilov.

“You are an Austrian, hailing from old Franz-Josef’s Podvoletchiska. Your middle initial G. stands for Ginsberg.

“You first turned up in Paris where you are a notorious bon vivant, denizen of the night clubs, and always in the dough. You invented your title and name for Paris journalism when you promised to ‘tell all.’

“Those who know you well will snicker at the idea that your mind can absorb an iota of politics – the nights in Paris are said to be too long. You are just the kind of adventurer that the infamous Yagoda would pick for his anti-Soviet dirty work.

“You cannot even write. Isaac Don Levine, a lily in his own right, ghosted the articles. They made a fine product – Krivitsky, out of Levine, for the Saturday Evening Post. It is an open secret that Suzanne LaFollette, Trotskyist stalwart, is lending Levine a hand in preparing the material for a book. Curtis Brown, Inc., are the agents of Isaac Don Levine, Suzanne LaFollette and/or ‘General Krivitsky.’ If anybody still wants the book he can get it for $500.

New Masses has the facts.

“That’s about all.”

And it’s a good thing for the New Masses that it is “about all,” for the paper it uses would surely have torn at the folds if an additional ounce of this putrid garbage has been added.

A Few Questions

Krivitsky s articles in the Post, and in the European press last year, contained a mountain of annihilating evidence against the Kremlin assassins and their unspeakable misdeeds. Member of the Soviet Communist Party since the Civil War, head of the War Industries Institute in later years, decorated by Stalin with a high order, and latterly the head of the Western European Secret Service of the Kremlin, Krivitsky was in an exceptional position to know the facts and to tell them. What he did write in such voluminous detail, if it remained unchallenged by the Stalinists, would constitute a shattering indictment of Stalin, the G.P.U. and their international frame-ups.

The Stalinist answer, quoted above just as it was furnished the New Masses by the office of the G.P.U., does not challenge a single one of his accusations! It confines itself to hurling a loaded chamberpot into a wind blowing in its own direction.

Now, since the New Masses, or rather the gendarmes who supervise its columns, has shown itself so clever in the question of names, we will probably be permitted to put a few questions:

What is the name of the “adventurer” in the Kremlin who once picked “the infamous Yagoda” for “his anti-Soviet dirty work”?

You have triumphantly exposed Krivitsky’s “real name” as Shmelka Ginsberg. We are glad to see the emphasis with which you point out that this imposter, posing as a 100% Russian, was only, a dirty Jew after all, an Austrian Jew at that (not Galician, perhaps?), and on top of everything, hailing from ridiculous Podvoletchiska. That alone is enough to destroy his credit and credibility forever. It should teach him to be born, next time, in Georgia, like Stalin, or Kansas, like Browder.

Will you please tell us, in your next issue, the real names (middle initials included) of some of the men listed as your editors? Who – really now! – is A.B. Magil? And Joseph North? And Theodore Draper? And Robert Forsythe (or shall we ask Colliers)? And Joseph Freeman (also, why is his name to be removed soon from the list)? And Michael Gold and William Gropper?

A Bow to the Masses’ Ascetics

Also, give us the low-down on the name of the Gentleman-from-Abroad who directs the policies of Browder; it would make Mr. Winchell turn really green with envy.

We don’t know much about Krivitsky’s writing style or who, if anyone, ghosted his articles. But since you’re so keen on the subject, your readers might be interested in the name of the bright young former Baltimore pupil of V.F. Calverton who writes those stirring speeches and articles of Earl Browder? And by the way, who writes Stalin’s speeches now that comrade Stetsky has been liquidated?

As for night clubs and long nights, here or in Paris, we don’t make any claims to the special knowledge your editors seem to possess. But the reference you make to them is one point on which you really hit home against Krivitsky. It is barroom gossip that the upper New Masses circle retires to its solitary, straw-mattressed cots no later than 9:30 P.M., for there is nothing else young men can do of an evening when they do not smoke, drink nothing stouter than Fermillac, have an ascetic horror for fleshly delights and, in general, lead the stainless life of an Atlas Mountain monk.

Yet, unlike those others who also retire purposefully at an early hour, the young men of the New Masses perform their singular rites and services in broad daylight, as is evidenced by the current issue of their paper. Stern moralists would undoubtedly pronounce harsh judgment upon them. Ours is tempered by the reflection that in a healthier and saner social order, the political as well as the economic bases of their profession, despite the standing which ages have given it, will be eliminated.

But until that better day has dawned, we think it is not unfair to ask that their practices be confined to the duskier nooks to which conventionality has tacitly assigned them, instead of flaunting them in the columns of an allegedly revolutionary periodical and in the full sight of decent souls whose stomachs are not as strong as they might be.

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Max Shachtman
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Last updated on 17 January 2016