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A Falsified Biography of Lenin

(June 1934)

From The Militant, Vol. VII No. 26, 30 June 1934, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

A book – a biography no less than a novel or a play – like a building must be constructed according to a plan and definite rules. The first law of biography is to tell the truth as you see it and understand it.

That is not the basis of Fox’s biography of Lenin, nor is the book informed with the spirit of truth or even a respect for accuracy. Fox is no disciple of Diogenes. He lies about Lenin, about Trotsky, yea, about Stalin. In his biography all three appear like the caricatures in the mirrors at Coney Island: Lenin is seen as in a mist, suspiciously god-like; Trotsky is the Evil One; Stalin is the Bolshevik angel Gabriel of the Russian Revolution.

The truth is – Ralph Fox is a Stalinist, a leading member of the British Communist Party, a product and defender of the system of lies, slander, terror and defeat which has entered into history under the name of Stalinism. His work is written from that bias in support of its political needs.

But after all the thing has the form of a biography and must be judged as one. Let us examine its plan, first with regard to Lenin. If you have the patience to wade through its lies and distortions you will find the author’s thesis explicitly and precisely stated on page 309. Lenin “... had knowledge, intellectual power, vision; the power of swift decision and decisive action; courage beyond the normal; ...”

False Picture of Lenin

It is true: Lenin had courage, intellectual power, knowledge. But the possession of these qualities did not by themselves distinguish him from thousands of men in the world’s history, nor yet from, hundreds of revolutionary leaders. Nor does Fox allow for a peculiar combination of these qualities of Lenin which could conceivably explain his greatness.

Fox himself must have felt the shortcoming of his explanation for he attempts to add in the same sentence quoted above, precisely that quality which, in his opinion, distinguished Lenin from all men in all the years of the world’s recorded history, and explains his greatness: “... but yet the most striking thing in his whole character is that he was a man like other men”. Here is wisdom! Lenin was great because he was not!

But it is not a laughing matter. For this stupidity serves Fox as a means of misrepresenting Lenin and all that he stood for. It would take a volume equal in size to Fox’s lamentable work to set aright the errors and lies he encompasses in 313 pages.

Suffice it to say that on this basis Fox has no need to explain Lenin in relation to the epoch in which he lived, the conditions in which he worked, and the impression he made on the world and the movement. For the explanation lies entirely in Lenin himself. Thus Fox can entirely neglect the question of internationalism so decisive for Lenin. A sentence or two for the Zimmerwald and Kienthal conferences and not a word about the first four Congresses of the C.I.! So it is with Lenin’s fundamental analysis of the post-war epoch of capitalism as one of wars and revolutions. There is very little discussion of it so that it is impossible for Fox to illuminate Lenin’s historic struggle against the Second International which culminated in the founding of the Third.

No Word of Lenin’s Ideas

As a result there is not a word – literally not a word – about Lenin’s conception of a revolutionary communist party as a centralized, sternly disciplined organization based on a democratic, inner life. How could anyone with the knowledge of what a Stalinist party is like today discuss Lenin’s conception of what a vanguard party should be!

What results is that Fox, looking at Lenin through the colored glass of Stalin’s embalmment of Leninism, makes a mystic out of a great, human, revolutionary leader. Read the passages in which assassins are turned from the execution of their foul designs by some mysterious force in Lenin which transcends all human understanding and “explains better than a thousand political thesis what was happening in Russia”.

If Fox is forced to exercise some restraint in his treatment of Lenin, the current needs of Stalinism give him carte blanche to heap abuse and lies on one of the great figures of the revolutionary movement of the modern proletariat. In his treatment of Trotsky Fox reveals himself as a literary assassin: Trotsky underestimated the peasantry; he agitated for peace during the war; he patronized Lenin; he was wrong in the revolution of 1905; he was a leader of the Liquidators; he was responsible for the defeat of the Finnish revolution; he was only a figure head in the armed insurrection of October; he bungled the military direction of the civil war; he was partly responsible for Lenin’s death; and so on and so forth.

And all this structure of lies rests on a thesis, if you please, which the author is not ashamed to advance as the solemn truth: “Trotsky’s whole political life and outlook were colored by the outlook of those petty-bourgeois elements in Russia whom history had forced on to the revolutionary stage”. Let us put a cross over the slander and pass on.

Fox advances no explicit thesis about Stalin. But there is one. Let us put together what he says about his master: Stalin really organized the insurrection in October 1917; it is implied that he saved the day for Lenin in April when “he threw the great weight of his authority behind the theses (on bourgeois democracy) presented by Lenin”; Lenin turned Stalin “into a kind of specialist for saving the situation at desperate moments on almost every front. Indeed Stalin himself wrote to Lenin that he was being turned ‘into a specialist for cleaning the stables of the war department’”!

Enough! Enough! The major thesis of the hook should now be clear: Lenin was a demi-god; Stalin is his flesh-and-blood continuator. Trotsky’s record and’ activity challenge the whole, false conception. Trotsky must be destroyed even if it is necessary to rewrite history, slander Trotsky, lie about Stalin, deify Lenin.

History and truth, like murder, cannot be long concealed. They must make their way through all obstacles into the thinking of the masses. They are doing it now. And as they do Stalinism and its prostituted servitors are fast becoming an abomination in the labor movement.

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