Encyclopedia of Trotskyism On-Line: Revolutionary History, Vol. 7 No. 2

Work in Progress

Argentine Trotsky Study Centre

THE Leon Trotsky Centre for Study, Research and Publication of Argentina was set up last year. It is devoted in particular to the work of Trotsky, and more generally to key events in the international class struggle. It aims to carry out in Argentina the work that is carried out in Europe by the Leon Trotsky Foundation (Cahiers Léon Trotsky) in France, the Centro Pietro Tresso in Italy, and Revolutionary History in Britain. It hopes to involve in its work a wide range of people in and around the Trotskyist movement. The first activity by the Centre was a declaration repudiating the slanders against Trotsky repeated by Gennadi Zyuganov, the leader of the Russian Communist Party, on his visit to Argentina.

The CEIP has recently published Escritos Latinoamericanos de León Trotsky, a compilation of Trotsky’s writings on Latin America in Spanish. It contains articles, letters, discussions and interviews from the period of Trotsky’s exile in Mexico from January 1937 until his assassination in August 1940, including the series of articles from the magazine Clave. Some of the material has appeared before in Spanish, although much of it has not been available for decades. Several articles have been translated from the French from the Cahiers Léon Trotsky, and are published here in Spanish for the first time. The book has 335 pages, including 16 pages of photographs, and costs £10.00 plus p+p.

Contact the Centre at CEIP, Calle Pasteur 460, 4º piso, depto ‘G’, Capital Federal, Argentina (telephone 00 541 14 952 2302, e-mail: ceiplt@usanet). It is open from 17.00 to 21.00 Monday to Friday, and from 14.00 to 19.00 on Saturday.

Marxism on the Internet

THE Marx-Engels site <http://www.marx.org> is being reorganised, and is now quite distinct from the ‘Marxists’ site <http://www.marxists.org> where Lenin Trotsky, Luxemburg and so forth can be found. There does not appear to be, or did not at the time of writing, a link from Marx to the Marxists, though there is one going the other way. A happy development is that four comrades have taken the responsibility of scanning in and putting on line all 45 volumes of Lenin’s Collected Works. It has only just started, and it is estimated that the task will take at least two years. We will owe these comrades a great debt. As far as Trotsky is concerned, the problem of copyright has meant that such an approach is not possible, though about 45 articles appear, and the History of the Russian Revolution is nearly finished. However, one member of the Board of Revolutionary History has undertaken to scan in all the articles by Trotsky on Britain where there is no copyright problem, and Where Is Britain Going? is now on-line.

The ETOL (Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On Line) site has a wide range of articles from the first three volumes, nos. 1–12, of Revolutionary History. These issues are now out of print, and so this material is available once more to readers.

Ted Crawford

Other Websites

THE Victor Serge network has been set up on <http://users.sky net.be/johneden>. Amongst general material on Serge, it will also be including John Manson’s translations of Serge’s Carnets.

Material by and about the US Socialists Albert and Vera Weisbord can be found on <www.weisbord.org>.

Marx and Engels on CD-ROM

THE major works of Marx and Engels have been produced on a CD-ROM as part of the Essential Classics in Politics series. It is available from The Electric Book Company, 20 Cambridge Drive, London SE12 8AJ, £24.95 + £1.95 p+p.

Spanish Anarchist Shenanigans

BALANCE, no. 18, the journal of labour and revolutionary history published in Barcelona, has reprinted a secret report to the congress of the Anarchist international, the International Workers Association, in Paris in December 1937. Curiously, the secret report, El Anarcosindicalismo en la Revolucion Española, by Helmut Rüdiger, a Swedish Anarchist who was the liaison officer with the Spanish movement, was published by the CNT some months later.

The document sheds new light on the Spanish libertarian movement, and Agustín Guillamón, the Editor of Balance, is to be congratulated on reprinting it. However, it is unlikely to be translated into English as few people, Anarchist or otherwise, will identify with it. Rüdiger is as scathing about the utopianism and immaturity of Spanish Anarchism prior to 1936 as he is admiring about its moderation and political judgement a year and a half later. The author provides a theoretical justification for the collaboration with the Stalinists and bourgeois republicans which the CNT leaders did not themselves make.

The argument is simple and familiar. Libertarian principles had to be shelved for the duration of the war and replaced by anti-Fascist unity, as it was essential not to annoy the Russians or the Western powers. Rüdiger constantly warns of the danger of ‘totalitarian’ action, by which he meant collaboration with left-wing forces such as the POUM. The CNT’s traditional objective of a workers’ revolution also becomes totalitarian. The Friend of Durruti are seen as playing into the enemy’s hands. Foreign Anarchists are asked to exercise restraint on what they report. Rüdiger is alarmed at the prospect of too close an association with foreign parties, such as the Independent Labour Party and its cunning Marxist leaders.

The many CNT prisoners in the Republic’s jails saw a more concrete version of ‘totalitarianism’ than that feared by Rüdiger. The report is a curiosity, as CNT activists in prison and exile took a more left-wing stance, and would probably prefer not to be reminded of it. No wonder the report was secret, but why was it published soon afterwards? Guillamón thinks that in December 1937 the CNT leaders did not want their allies to know that they were prepared to submit to any demand, but that a few months later that fact was self-evident.

John Sullivan

Publications from CERMTRI

THE third issue of the Cahiers du Mouvement Ouvrier contains an excellent collection of documents on the Soviet purges, the Kirov assassination and the fate of Riazanov, plus Daniel Guèrin on the Popular Front and the colonies, and much more. The fourth issue of the magazine has appeared, despite the untimely death of Vadim Rogovin, the joint editor. It features four articles by Rogovin, plus an interview he conducted with Ogan Yakovlevich Dogard, a survivor of the Soviet Left Opposition, material on the CNT in the Spanish Civil War, and a translation of John McNair’s essay on Orwell. They each cost 50 francs plus p+p. Cahiers du CERMTRI, no. 90 (September 1998) includes material on Trotskyist and Anarchist interventions in the class struggle; no. 91 (December 1998) is devoted to the German Revolution of 1918–19, with contemporary articles by Luxemburg, Liebknecht and Radek, and historical pieces by Volkmann, Centizon and Prudhommeaux. They each cost 25 francs plus p+p. Write to CERMTRI, 28 rue des Petites-Ecuries, 75010 Paris, France.

Cahiers Léon Trotsky

THE latest issue of the Cahiers Léon Trotsky (November 1998) covers Stalin’s policies in China, early Communism in Egypt, Saccho and Vanzetti, and the wartime revolutionary left in Italy, including a translation of Arturo Peregalli’s article in Revolutionary History, Volume 5, no. 4. The May 1998 issue contains a translation of Udo Winkel’s article on Paul Levi from Revolutionary History, Volume 5, no. 2. They each cost 90 francs plus p+p. Write to Institut Léon Trotsky, 477 Chemin du Puits, 69210 Fleurieux sur l’Arbresle, France.

Russian Archive Collections

COLLECTIONS of documents from the Russian archives concerning vital episodes in the history of the Russian Revolution and the USSR – from Kronstadt to the Soviet repression of the 1956 Hungarian Uprising – are rolling off the presses. These Russian-language collections are mainly the work of publishing projects headed by academics, some Russian, and some in joint initiatives with Western universities. A journal devoted to publishing items newly uncovered in the archives has outlived the perestroika period when such material fascinated a wide audience. If the archivists and historians don’t believe that dictatorship could return and the archives be closed again, they are certainly working as if they do.

This year, three volumes have been published by the Russian Political Encyclopaedia project (Rossiskaya Politicheskaya Entsiklopedia or Rosspen). Letters to the Power 1917–1927 (Pisma vo vlast 1917–1927, Rosspen, 1998, pp. 664) is subtitled Declarations, Complaints, Informers’ Statements and Letters to the State Structures and Bolshevik Leaders, and includes 360 items. It was edited jointly by historians from the Moscow State University, the Italian Institute for Philosophical Studies and two French institutions, the School for Advanced Study of Social Science and the Humanities Institute.

The Soviet Countryside As Seen By The Secret Police, Documents and Materials 191–8-1922 (Sovetskaya Derevnya Glazami BChK-OGPU 1918–1922, Dokumenty i materialy, Rosspen, 1998, pp. 864) is billed as the first of four volumes that will continue the theme up to 1939. The team of editors is headed by A. Berelovitch (France) and V. Danilov (Russia), working with the support of the same French institutions and of both the police and army archives.

The Soviet Union and the Hungarian Crisis of 1956: Documents (Sovetsky Soyuz i Vengersky krisis 1956 goda: Dokumenty, Rosspen 1998, pp. 864) is the result of collaboration between Russian and Hungarian academics, and includes documents relating to the interaction of Soviet and Hungarian party machines and the process by which the Soviet invasion was decided upon.

The International Democracy Foundation (Mezhdunarodny Fond Demokratia), with which the Gorbachev-era historian Aleksandr N. Yakovlev is associated, has begun a major publishing programme of documentary collections. The foundation is well-regarded by the American establishment, and has found funds for an ambitious publishing programme.

In 1997, the foundation published four volumes. Kronstadt 1921 (Kronshtadt 1921; Fond Demokratia, 1997, pp. 432) should hopefully provide the means to advance a dispute amongst revolutionaries that has long been going around in circles. A contemporaneous story, less well-known outside Russia – of Filip Mironov, the Don Cossack leader who first sided with the Bolsheviks, then fell out with them, and was killed by the Cheka in early 1922 – is dealt with in Filip Mironov: The Quiet Don 1917–1922 (Filip Mironov: Tikhy Don v 1917–1922 gg; Fond Demokratia 1997, pp. 780). A third collection on the killing of Polish officers at Katyn is entitled Katyn: Prisoners of an Undeclared War (Katyn: plenniki neobyavlennoy voiny); a fourth, Lubyanka: VChK-KGB 1917–1960, covers the history of the secret police more in outline than in the detail of the other volumes.

The foundation promises literally dozens of further volumes. A series of Stenogramme Reports of the Plenums of the CPSU Central Committee and other documents 1953–64 has begun, with a volume on Beria’s fall (Lavrenty Beria 1953). Other volumes on Stalin, Malenkov, Zhukov and Khrushchev are promised; Molotov, Malenkov and Kaganovich will come as a one-volume package. Other subjects the foundation promises to cover include 1941, the Gulag Archipelago, the Siberian uprisings against the Soviet power in 1920-21, the transition from the NEP to forced collectivisation, the Soviet power and ecology, Czechoslovakia 1968, and the Soviet rôle in the Middle East. A monster eight-volume series on Russian-American relations is envisaged.

A team of historians of rural Russia, headed by Viktor Danilov and Teodor Shanin, has begun another publishing project, which has so far put out documents on another key clash between Lenin’s government and the peasantry, The Antonovshchina: The Peasant Uprising in the Tambov Region 1919–1921 (Antonovshchina: Krestyanskoe Vosstanie v Tambovskoi gubernii v 1919–1921 gg, Intertsentr, Tambov 1994 pp. 325, large-format), as well as an oral history collection, Peasant Voices: Twentieth Century Rural Russia in the Peasant Memory (Golosa Krestyan: Selskaya Rossiya XX veka v Krestaynskikh Memuarakh, Aspekt Press, Moscow 1996, pp. 414). Another Canadian-Russian team of academics has recently published a special document collection on the impact of forced collectivisation in Saratov.

The journal Istochnik (Source), which consists mainly of documents from the archives and commentaries on them, also deserves mention. It recently celebrated its fifth birthday, having survived a turbulent and financially difficult period in which paper prices have soared and demand for specialist literature has fallen with purchasing power. Istochnik covers all Russian history, but consistently turns out new documents from the Soviet period. The first number for 1998, for example, included a lengthy letter written from prison in 1937 by the veteran Left Social Revolutionary leader, Maria Spiridonova, and a letter to the Bolshevik Central Committee written in September 1920 by Anton Vlasov, a Red Army commander, protesting at the privileges enjoyed by state bureaucrats behind the lines during the Civil War. Istochnik is a sister publication of the more popular historical journal Rodina.

As for the archives themselves, comprehensive information on them is available in English on the Internet, at <http://www.iisg.nl/~abb/>, a site maintained by the International Institute of Social History in Amsterdam; the information is provided by Patricia Kennedy Grimsted and the Federal Archive Service of Russia. For those sufficiently robust to withstand gusts of right-wing sensationalism, there is also the Revelations from the Russian Archives page of the US Library of Congress at <http://lcweb.loc.gov/exhibits/archives/intro.html>.

For revolutionaries who see the Russian revolution as ‘ours’, it is blindingly obvious that the volume of new material now becoming available on the social order that ensued from that revolution is as vast as our resources to study it are meagre. There may be few sensational revelations left to emerge from the archives, and we may not share the priorities and prejudices of those now editing the document collections – but there is plenty of material here for the reconsideration of our history. Those with an interest in this work and/or information to add to the above are invited to get in touch via Revolutionary History.

Simon Pirani

Updated by ETOL: 4.10.2011