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Labor Action, 13 May 1946


PM Picks Stalinist Hack
as Trotsky Critic


From Labor Action, Vol. 10 No. 19, 13 May 1946, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


The New York newspaper PM, which even says it is “against pushing people around,” printed a review in its April 28 issue of Leon Trotsky’s book, Stalin. The review was written by Frederick Schuman, a professor who has made it his business to pose as a disinterested intellectual while actually peddling the strict Stalinist line. Schuman’s review was so raw and downright dishonest that PM’s editor had to print a disclaimer. But then the question arises: the editors of PM are not infants, they know Schuman’s record; why did they assign him to review this book when they knew that the only possible product of his pen would be a Daily Worker kind of smear? Or is that what they wanted?

It would be tedious to print a long refutation of this review, but a few comments are necessary:

(1) Schuman repeats the often-destroyed slander that “Trotsky plotted with fascist agents in the 1930’s to destroy the Stalinist bureaucracy” and bases this charge on the “published records of the Moscow Trial.”

Now it is clear that anyone who dares to cite as evidence against Trotsky or his political program the “records of the Moscow Trial” is in the service of Stalinism – in this case consciously so. The so- called “records” of that trial (or, rather, inquisition) were long ago shown to be shot through with internal inconsistency and the charges against Trotsky declared false by the commission which was headed by Dr. John Dewey.

But there is another, more immediate, point to be made: If Schuman believes the Moscow Trials to be relevant, then he should join with those who have recently issued a statement urging that the Nuremburg trials question the Nazi defendants and investigate the records in order to see if there is any proof to the vile charges that Trotsky collaborated with the Nazis. We for our part are so thoroughly certain that no such proof could be found that we do not hesitate to support this request. Is Schuman willing to say as much for himself? Are he and his Stalinist cohorts ready to pursue such an investigation? It is a challenge we throw out to Schuman and any other defenders of Stalinism or the Moscow Trials. Does anyone want to take any bets about their response?

(2) Schuman says that it “is scarcely conceivable” that “a man possessed by so unquenchable a hatred would balk at cooperating with Fascists.” He is referring here to Trotsky.

Trotsky Fought Fascism

Let us remind Schuman that in the period before the rise of Hitler, it was precisely Trotsky who was week after week urging the German workers to make a united front against the Hitler menace: that it was, on the contrary, the Stalinists who opposed united action with the German Socialists and raised the tragically stupid slogan of “After Hitler, Us.” And that it was this Stalinist stupidity which was one of the main causes for the rise of Hitler. Let us further remind Schuman that it was Stalin who in 1939 made a pact with Hitler that gave the latter a green light to provoke the second world war, that it was Stalin’s stooge, Molotov, who had the gall at that time to speak of Fascism as “a matter of taste” – and that it was Trotsky who condemned this deal with Hitler. Surely an historian as distinguished as Schuman can remember that far back.

(3) Schuman quotes at length from a polemic directed by Lenin against Trotsky. But, in typically dishonest Stalinist fashion, he fails to mention that this polemic was written by Lenin before the first world war, when he had a sharp political difference with Trotsky within the general socialist movement – and that Lenin and Trotsky were subsequently to cooperate on the closest terms in leading the Russian revolution to victory. What is the point of raking up old quotations from 1912 and before, when later Trotsky was to stand side by side with Lenin at the head of the Bolshevik Party?

(4) Schuman charges that Trotsky’s book will be helpful to those reactionaries who oppose Russia. That is simply untrue. One can be opposed to Stalin without thereby being in league with Hearst. If this world had to choose between Stalin and Hearst, and nobody else at all, things would be in a pretty sad way. From the point of view of revolutionary socialism, Stalinism too represents a reactionary force in society, a totalitarian force; it isn’t the same kind of reactionary force that Hearst represents, but it is reactionary. Schuman pulls the same scare that every Stalinist defender does: anyone who dares criticize the Stalinist dictatorship is immediately called a fascist. Only simple-minded or misled people will believe that.

Daily Worker Line

There is no point in going down the line to show the quality of Schuman’s review. These few remarks should indicate that it is simply Daily Worker stuff pure and simple; even the language is full of Stalinist clichés. PM has been known to stooge for the Stalinists quite consistently; but it has never yet printed anything as blatantly Stalinist in character as Schuman’s review. It owes its readers an explanation. As for Schuman: it should now be clear to all that this man who poses as an intellectual, as a disinterested scholar, is nothing but a hack out of the Daily Worker’s bottom drawer. As such he has no right to acceptance or sympathy in any section of the American press which even pretends to intellectual honesty or decency.

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