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Workers’ International News, May 1938


Hacks of the GPU


From Workers’ International News, Vol.1 No.5, May 1938, p.7.
Transcribed by Ted Crawford.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


On March 25th, the London Star reported that Messrs. Lawrence & Wishart, Ltd., and Tom Bell, as publishers and author of a short history of the Communist Party, had been ordered to pay £200 damages for a libel contained in this book. The complainant was a former member of the Communist Party, Sam Elsbury who led the Rego strike of girl garment workers. The case throws yet another light on the activities of the hired scribblers of the GPU. On the appearance of Tom Bell’s book, History of the British Communist Party, it was given a favourable review by R. Palme Dutte in the Labour Monthly. Soon afterwards the book was sharply attacked in the Labour Monthly and withdrawn from circulation.

After writing his book Tom Bell had gone to Moscow to be patted on the head for it. He was gone a long time, and in view of the fact that his book had been condemned for its “errors”, it was believed that he had been duly patted on the head – with the butt of a rifle, à la Stalin. But this was not so. The “errors” of the book were glaring enough. Begun in the “Third Period” it still clung to the left phrases of those years, while the party line had veered through 180 degrees by the time it was published. The Comintern demands of its hacks, above all, a chameleon-like power of adapting themselves to the colour scheme dictated by Moscow, and Tom Bell’s book stood out, a lurid red against the bright yellow background of Popular Frontism. Tom Bell was eager to please his roasters, but the Comintern has no use for chameleons who are colour blind. The book was withdrawn.

R. Page Arnot, another of the Grub Street-walkers of Stalinism, has recently published a history of the Russian Revolution. It is interesting to compare this work with the monograph on the Russian Revolution by the same writer published in 1925 by the Labour Research Department. In the older history Stalin is not even mentioned, but in the latest work he occupies the centre of the stage. Where the older book attempts to give an objective view of the activities of the Bolshevik leaders, the new book is a polemic against these leaders, which is now seen as a preparation for the Trial of the 21. Lenin, Stalin and Sverdlov are lined up as against the camp of conspirators into which all the other leaders are lumped. The political role of Maxim Gorki is suppressed and he is depicted only as a great writer. In the older history, the reader is referred to eight books by Trotsky, as well as volumes by Zinoviev, Kamenev, Bukharin, etc. In the newer “ history”, not only are all these books not mentioned, but Arnot goes out of his way to warn readers against Trotsky’s History of the Russian Revolution, as mere “Trotskyist propaganda.” The rationale of all these distortions, emissions and lies was revealed when, a short time after the appearance of the book, the indictment in the latest trial was published. Arnot’s book is nothing but a preface to that indictment. And when the trial was staged, the GPU historian was called to Moscow to report the proceedings for the British Daily Worker.

Amongst other things, he reported Krestinsky’s evidence that in 1922 General Seeckt agreed to pay Trotsky 250,000 Reichsmarks a year for acting as a spy. (Daily Worker, 7/3/38, page 4). In that year the reichsmark was being inflated and by August the following year it reached 47,000,000 to the £. So a year of spying would have brought Trotsky just under three half pence, more than enough to buy a box of matches, but not enough to buy two boxes of matches.

This example of gross underpayment was quickly pointed out by hostile critics, and J.R. Campbell, another of the journalistic unfortunates, has surreptitiously changed the amount to gold-marks in his column in the Daily Worker. J.R. Campbell was once eminent as an exponent of Marxist theory. Today he is reduced to the job of cleaning up the mess that Yezhov makes in his frame-ups, a journalistic charwoman to the GPU.

These individuals were once professional revolutionaries. No longer revolutionaries, their “new” profession is the oldest in the world; they have abandoned the red flag of Bolshevism for the red lamp of Stalinism.

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