Encyclopedia of Trotskyism On-Line: Revolutionary History, Vol. 7 No. 1
A Valuable New Historical Work
Your readers, especially those at ease with the French language, may be interested to know that Pierre Broué has recently published his Histoire de l’Internationale Communiste. This is a monumental work of scholarship, based on many years of research, which includes a mass of information about the inner workings of the Comintern from the archives which have only recently – and still incompletely – been opened. No one claiming competence in this field can safely ignore it.
Moreover, we have not seen the last of the epigones of Stalinism, nor are they indifferent to us. Remnants of the former hangers-on of the Stalinist bureaucracy in the academic world, having carried Popular Frontism through to its logical conclusion, are now working to produce young lecturers to fill places in the newly-created universities, whose PhDs guarantee their ‘political correctness’, and whose theses help to spread the notion that ‘the Communist Party was always progressive’, that ‘Trotskyism was always either negligible or “bad”’, or, at the worst, ‘the Communist Party always meant well’.
This is by no means mere nostalgia. The traditional reformism of the leadership of the mass organisations in Britain, as elsewhere, is having to drop even the pretence that sacrifices today will be rewarded tomorrow. The crisis of Social Democracy, as we can see, is entering a more open stage. In this stage, Trotskyists have an indispensable duty to assert the independence of the working class. We must, therefore, anticipate a repetition of what we went through from 1936 onwards – sophisticated slander, well-financed, as during the Moscow Trials. In the later 1930s, we still had Trotsky to give us the information and the arguments which we needed. Broué’s book will find a use, not merely for historians, but also for militants in practical struggle.
The concluding chapter strikes a pessimistic note. I do not at all agree with it, but in any case it does not detract from the valuable work which the book itself presents.
The Editor replies:
Thank you for your kind letter. We are going to publish a proper, full review by Ian Birchall in our next issue. A short preliminary notice also appears in our Work in Progress section (above, page 188).
Updated by ETOL: 30.9.2011