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Lev Deich

Lev Deich

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Lev Deich, the son of a Jewish merchant, was born in Russia in 1855. After he was converted to Marxism, he spent his time distributing propaganda in southern Russia.

In 1875 he was arrested but escaped from custody and over the next couple of years attempted to organize a peasant insurrection.

Deich joined the Land and Liberty and when it split into two factions, he joined the Black Repartition group that supported a socialist propaganda campaign among workers and peasants. The majority of members, joined People's Will, the group that favoured terrorism.

In 1880 Deich and other leaders of the Black Repartition group, including George Plekhanov, Vera Zasulich and Pavel Axelrod went to live in Geneva. Three years later they formed the Liberation of Labour group.

While in Germany in 1884 Deich was arrested and extradited for trial by a Russian court for a terrorist offence he had committed in 1876. Found guilty he was sentenced 13 years hard labour in Siberia.

Deich escaped from prison in 1901 and became active in the Social Democratic Labour Party. At the Second Congress of the Social Democratic Party in London in 1903, there was a dispute between Vladimir Lenin and Jules Martov, two of the party's main leaders. Lenin argued for a small party of professional revolutionaries with a large fringe of non-party sympathizers and supporters. Martov disagreed believing it was better to have a large party of activists. Martov won the vote 28-23 but Lenin was unwilling to accept the result and formed a faction known as the Bolsheviks. Those who remained loyal to Martov became known as Mensheviks.

Deich joined George Plekhanov, Pavel Axelrod, Leon Trotsky, Irakli Tsereteli, Moisei Uritsky, Noi Zhordania and Fedor Dan in supporting Jules Martov.

During the 1905 Revolution Deich returned to Russia but was arrested and imprisoned. However, on the way to Siberia he escaped and made his way to London where he lived for the next eleven years.

After the February Revolution Deich returned to Petrograd and joined George Plekhanov in editing Edinstvo (Unity). He also wrote his memoirs and edited a volume of documents associated with the Liberation of Labour group.

Lev Deich died in 1941.

Anna Kuliscioff

1908 portrait of Anna Kuliscioff taken in Florence by Mario Nunes Vais. From the Lombardia Beni Culturali.

Born in Russia but educated in Switzerland, Anna Kuliscioff quickly turned to radical politics. To avoid imprisonment, Kuliscioff was forced to emigrate, eventually settling in Italy. Kuliscioff’s feminist advocacy centered around poor women, which was rare for her time, and she advocated for equal pay, freedom from spousal and workplace exploitation, and wages for housework. After her physical health deteriorated, she focused on publishing a socialist periodical and hosting a prominent salon for journalists, socialist leaders, and workers asking for advice, often with her partner Filippo Turati. Kuliscioff remained active until the end of her life, advocating for suffrage, paid maternity leave, and many other issues.

Russian revolutionary, internationalist, early feminist, doctor, and one of the founding generation of Italian socialists, Anna Kuliscioff was born Anja Moiseevna Rozenstein, near Simferopol in the Crimea, between 1854 and 1857. Her father, Moisei, was one of the five hundred privileged Jewish “merchants of the first guild” who were permitted to reside anywhere in Russia.

In 1871, after studying foreign languages with private tutors, Anja was sent to study engineering at the Zürich Polytechnic, where she also took courses in philosophy. Political exiles, in whom the city abounded, introduced her to anarchist and populist notions. Abandoning her studies, in 1873 she married Pyotr Marcelovich Macarevich, a fellow revolutionary of noble birth, and together they returned to Russia. There they worked for revolutionary factions, first in Odessa and then in Kiev. In 1874 Macarevich was sentenced to five years of hard labor for his anarchist activities. He died in prison.

In order to avoid arrest, Anja fled Odessa to live clandestinely, first in Kiev and then in Kharkov, often singing in public parks to earn a living. In Kiev she allied herself with radicals associated with the Land and Liberty party, who fomented peasant uprisings and engaged in terrorist acts against the tsarist authorities. When her colleagues in this armed group were arrested, she managed to escape. In April 1877, using a false passport, she left Russia and moved to Paris, where she became a member of a small anarchist group that, following Bakunin, preached the abolition of the state. One of the group’s members was an Italian, Andrea Costa, with whom she had a passionate relationship that endured for five years. During that period, they were constantly separated by imprisonment and exile.

It was in Paris that Anja was first documented, in police records, as bearing the name Kuliscioff, an invented name that identified her as coming from the East.

Under constant police surveillance, Kuliscioff was imprisoned by the French authorities, released only due to the intercession of the Russian novelist Ivan Turgenev, who was fascinated by her beauty and personality, and expelled from the country. She and Costa renewed their activities and their liaison in Italy, where she was again imprisoned in 1879, charged with plotting against the state, tried, and, after thirteen months in prison, acquitted. At this trial Kuliscioff defined herself as a Russian revolutionary socialist. The couple next fled to Lugano, where they attempted to set up an anarchist journal, the International Socialist Review. For the third time in two years since leaving Russia, Kuliscioff was arrested and jailed. When they were finally at liberty and together, Costa had to return to Italy in 1880 to continue his political work. During her various periods of imprisonment, Kuliscioff contracted tuberculosis and later developed a severe bone disease.

Reunited with Costa in 1881 in his hometown of Imola, Anna gave birth to a daughter, Andreina, in December of that year. Costa, however, despite his advanced political views (he was to become the first socialist deputy in the Italian parliament), was a conventional and repressive partner and the liaison ended with Kuliscioff leaving Italy with her infant daughter to study medicine in Bern, Switzerland, against Costa’s wishes. In 1884, for health reasons, she went to continue her studies in Naples, where Costa visited her from time to time. Despite her poverty, she graduated as Doctor of Medicine in 1885, after having taken additional courses in Turin and Pavia to complete her specialization in obstetrics and gynecology. She opened a medical practice in Milan, caring for working women and the poor, but abandoned it in 1891 because of her ill health and because she wished to devote herself to politics. Kuliscioff soon became one of Italy’s leading feminists, together with the upper-class Anna Maria Mozzoni (1837–1920), who was then engaged in a battle for the admission of women to universities and qualified women to the professions. It was Mozzoni who introduced Kuliscioff to Italian feminism, which had begun to develop some ten years before her arrival in Italy. (In 1879 Mozzoni had published her translation into Italian of On the Subjection of Women by John Stuart Mill.)

Kuliscioff, however, was chiefly concerned with the conditions of women in the working class—those whom she came to know intimately through her profession as a doctor—and in this she was very different from most early European feminists, who were overwhelmingly middle class and very often conservative in the political sense. On April 27, 1890, she made her first appearance on a public platform on the feminist question, speaking at the Circolo Filologico in Milan. Published immediately, the talk, entitled “The Monopoly of Man,” was an influential feminist tract, which stressed the differences between her ambitions and those of Mozzoni and other early feminists of her sort. Kuliscioff argued not only for women’s education and social equality, but for their political rights she appealed for equal pay for women and protested against women’s exploitation by both their employers and their husbands. Such ideas were completely new in Italy. Kuliscioff even argued that women should be paid for housework as an occupation, and in this she was ahead of her time, even today. But she never saw women merely as victims of the system. She thought that her own sex was essentially reactionary and conservative, and deplored the lack of solidarity among women from different classes.

Much of this probably related not just to her socialist beliefs but to her Jewish background. Kuliscioff herself belonged to the first generation of Jewish women to receive the kind of secular education previously available only to men. More importantly, the views she expressed on the relations between the sexes were based on the notion that shared ideas and shared interests are essential to a good marriage. This was particularly revolutionary in the Jewish context, in which for centuries Jewish women had been excluded from the tradition of learning and men and women’s spheres had been quite separate.

In 1885 Mozzoni had introduced Kuliscioff to Filippo Turati (1857–1932), a Milanese lawyer and poet. Under her influence, he absorbed Marxist doctrine and emerged as the charismatic leader of the budding Italian Socialist party (PSI). Turati and Kuliscioff formed one of the most important partnerships in European socialist history, living and working together for the next quarter of a century—a partnership which finally realized Kuliscioff’s ideal. In 1889 the couple founded the Milan Socialist League, a group made up of both workers and liberal intellectuals based on the Russian model, this was an entirely new departure in Italian political history. This League formed the basis of the Italian Socialist party (PSI) established in 1893.

Two years earlier the couple had founded the famous journal Critica Sociale, a review of cultural and political events which contributed to the formation of a new socialist ideology based on Marxist theory. Kuliscioff and Turati wrote numerous articles, many of which were joint efforts, signed with the initials “T.K.” or with “Noi” (We). Kuliscioff was not only responsible for the technical aspects of production, but also solicited contributions from distinguished foreign contributors such as Engels, August Bebel and Jean Jaurès. Prominent among the journal’s tenets was universal suffrage, and here Kuliscioff’s political and feminist beliefs converged, in essays on women’s emancipation, under her own name. Kuliscioff was an ardent disciple of Bebel, who had introduced the “woman question” into Marxism, and believed, like him, that the working class and women were two subject peoples whose liberation would coincide. However, Italy was one of the most backward countries in Europe. Anna described it as “a country which is two-thirds medieval, and in which the peasantry lives in conditions similar to France at the Revolution.”

From 1891, Kuliscioff and Turati lived near the Duomo, above the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. Their apartment soon became a salon that every day hosted not only journalists and socialist leaders but also seamstresses and even rice pickers from the Lombardy countryside who came to her for advice. The visitors came in shifts, after lunch and before dinner. During their long struggle on behalf of socialism and feminism alike, Kuliscioff was far more radical than Turati, criticizing him and the party for their half-hearted support for women’s rights, while also deploring the lack of solidarity among women of all classes. However, during the last years of the nineteenth century, when Turati took part in local government in Milan, he and Kuliscioff used their influence in the working class in the region to organize mass rallies, intended to draw the attention of the Italian parliament to the new industrial hazards affecting women and children. This was the first direct attempt by the Italian working class to influence legislation.

At the beginning of the twentieth century, Kuliscioff herself helped formulate the first Italian laws protecting working women, her main contribution to Italian politics and social welfare. In 1902 her lobbying led to the passing of labor laws to protect women and children. In 1912 Kuliscioff founded the bi-monthly La Difesa delle Lavoratrice (The Defense of Women Workers), the official periodical of the Labor Organization of Socialist Women. She fought tirelessly for her own party to support suffrage for women of all classes. Finally, the PSI proposed such an amendment, but in 1912 it was rejected by the Chamber of Deputies—composed entirely of men. Indeed, the struggle for Italian women’s suffrage was not resolved until many years after Kuliscioff’s death, on December 27, 1925.

Anna Kuliscioff was typical of many politically involved young Jewish women from Russian families whose parents had so recently become emancipated. Ironically enough, such young women actually did all they could to divest themselves of their privileges Kuliscioff herself is said to have torn up her student’s card in Zürich, thereby putting back her studies by a decade, and then chose medicine as a way of combining her political beliefs and her profession. In her private life, while she never returned to her Jewish parents’ home, she remained close to them her father went on remitting funds to her, both for herself and her illegitimate child, and she met him regularly in Europe until the end of his life. She herself did not force her own ideas on her daughter, a placid, home-loving girl who in 1904 married Luigi Gavazzi, son of a conventional Milanese Catholic family, and she became a loving grandmother to the couple’s five children.

While Anna Kuliscioff never again belonged to a Jewish community and played no part in Jewish communal affairs, she rejoiced at the 1917 Balfour Declaration promising a national home to the Jews in Palestine. In a rare reference to the fate of the Jews, she criticized the then Italian Prime Minister Vittorio Orlando (1917–1919), when in his inaugural speech on foreign policy he referred to Palestine only as “The Holy Land of the Sepulchre,” without mentioning “the people persecuted in almost all of Europe, which will finally have its own place of refuge from all pogroms, including those carried out by the Russian revolutionaries.”

Kuliscioff’s death elicited quiet respect from crowds that gathered under her window on the Piazza del Duomo in anticipation of her funeral procession, but the procession itself was disrupted, the flowers and wreaths rudely destroyed, by Fascist thugs. Historian Luigi Salvatorelli bitingly commented: “Fascism did far worse things, but perhaps nothing revealed more clearly its irrevocable moral repugnance.”

Addis Saba, Marina. Anna Kuliscioff: Vita private e passione politica. Milan: 1993.

Agnelli, Ardvino. “La Kuliscioff e il socialismo internazionale.” In Anna Kuliscioff e l’Età del Riformismo.

Atti del Convegno di Milano, Dicembre 1976.

Albonetti, Pietro, ed. Anna Kuliscioff: Lettere d’amore a Andrea Costa, 1880–1909. Milan: 1979.

Ballestrero, Maria Vittoria. "Anna Kuliscioff, women's work and citizenship. A look from the present." Labor and law 31, no. 2 (2017): 187-216.

Boxer, Marilyn, and Jean H. Quataert, eds. Socialist Women: European Socialist Feminism in the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries. New York: 1978.

Bilski, Emily D., and Emily Braun. Jewish Women and Their Salons. Exhibition Catalog, The Jewish Museum. New York: 2005, 76–83, 199–200.

Casalini, Maria. La signora del socialismo italiano. Vita di Anna Kuliscioff. Rome: Editori Riuniti, 1987.

Cherikover, Eliyahu. Jews in Revolutionary Times: Revolutionary and Nationalist Ideology among the Russian Jews during the 1870s and 1880s (Hebrew). Tel Aviv: 1957.

Deich, Lev. “Anna Rozenstein Macarevich.” In Rol' evreev v russkom revoliutsionnom dvizhenii. (The Role of the Jews in Russian Revolutionary History). Berlin: 1923.

Hertz, Deborah. "Dangerous Politics, Dangerous Liaisons : Love and Terror among Jewish Women Radicals in Czarist Russia." Histoire, Économie Et Société 33, no. 4 (2014): 94-109.

LaVigna, Claire. Anna Kuliscioff: From Russian Populism to Italian Reforism, 1873-1913. New York: 1991.

Marteli, Mino. Andrea e Anna Kuliscioff. Milan: 1980.

Punzo, Maurizio. "The" living room "of Anna Kuliscioff and Social Criticism." In Forum Italicum, vol. 54, no. 1, pp. 312-330. Sage UK: London, England: SAGE Publications, 2020.

Shepherd, Naomi. A Price Below Rubies: Jewish Women as Rebels and Radicals. London: 1993.

Stites, Richard. The Women’s Liberation Movement in Russia: Feminism, Nihilism and Bolshevism, 1860–1930. Part III. Princeton: 1978.

Turati, F., and A. Kuliscioff. Carteggio, edited by A. Schiavi. Milan: 1954–1978 (7 vols.).

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1 Foulke , W. D. , Slav or Saxon: A Study of the Growth and Tendencies of Russian Civilization ( New York : Putnam's , 1887 ), 61 – 62 Google Scholar .

2 Lasch , Christopher , American Liberals and the Russian Revolution ( New York : Columbia University Press , 1962 )Google Scholar Malia , Martin , Under Western Eyes: From the Bronze Horseman to the Lenin Mausoleum ( Cambridge : Harvard University Press , 1999 )Google Scholar Scanlan , James , Revolutionary Lives: Anna Strunsky and William English Walling ( Amherst : University of Massachusetts Press , 1998 )Google Scholar Travis , Frederick F. , George Kennan and the American-Russian Relationship, 1865–1924 ( Athens : Ohio University Press , 1990 )Google Scholar Williams , Robert . , Russian Art and American Money, 1900–1940 ( Cambridge, Mass .: Harvard University Press , 1980 )CrossRefGoogle Scholar Williams , William ppleman , American Russian Relations, 1781–1947 ( New York : Rinehart , 1952 )Google Scholar . For Russian perspectives, see Golubev , A. V. et al. , eds., Rossiia i zapad: Formirovanie vneshnepoliticheskikh stereotipov v soznanii rossiiskogo obshchestva pervoi poloviny XX veka ( Moscow : RAN , 1998 )Google Scholar Fokin , V. I. , Mezhdunarodnyi kul'turnyi obmen i SSSR v 20–30 gody ( St. Petersburg : Izd-vo St. Peterburgskogo universiteta , 1999 )Google Scholar Nikoliukin , Aleksandr Nikolaevich , Literaturnye sviazii Rossii i SShA: Turgenev, Tolstoi, Dostoevsky i Amerika ( Moscow : Nauka , 1981 )Google Scholar Tuganova , O. E. et al. , eds., Vzaimodeistvie kul'tur SSSR i SSHA, xviii–xxvv ( Moscow : Nauka , 1987 )Google Scholar .

3 Wolff , Larry , Inventing Eastern Europe: The Map of Civilization on the Mind of the Enlightenment ( Stanford : Stanford University Press , 1994 )Google Scholar Marshall , T. Poe , “A People Born to Slavery”: Russia in Early Modern European Ethnography, 1476–1748 ( Ithaca : Cornell University Press , 2000 )Google Scholar .

4 See Astolphe Custine's classic text, Empire of the Tsar: Journey through Eternal Russia (New York: Doubleday 1989) Gross , Irena Grudzinska , “ The Tangled Tradition: Custine, Herberstein, Karamzin, and the Critique of Russia ,” Slavic Review 50 , 4 ( 1991 ): 990 –98CrossRefGoogle Scholar .

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7 Some excellent exceptions to this general trend are Babey , Anna . , Americans in Russia 1776–1917: A Study of the American Travelers in Russia from the American Revolution to the Russian Revolution ( New York : Comet Press , 1938 )Google Scholar McReynolds , Louise , Russia at Play: Leisure Activities at the End of the Tsarist Era ( Ithaca : Cornell University Press , 2003 ), 154 –92Google Scholar Saul , Norman , Concord and Conflict: The United States and Russia, 1867–1914 ( Lawrence : University of Kansas Press , 1996 )Google Scholar .

8 “Empire of the Discontented,” North American Review (Feb. 1879): 175.

9 Dulles , Foster Rhea . Americans Abroad: Two Centuries of European Travel ( Ann Arbor : University of Michigan Press , 1964 )CrossRefGoogle Scholar Levenstein , Harvey , Seductive Journey: American Tourists in France from Jefferson to the Jazz Age ( Chicago : University of Chicago Press , 1998 )CrossRefGoogle Scholar Schriber , Mary uzanne , Writing Home: American Women Abroad, 1830–1920 ( Charlottesville : University of Virginia Press , 1997 )Google Scholar Stowe , William W. , Going Abroad: European Travel in Nineteenth-Century American Culture ( Princeton : Princeton University Press , 1994 )Google Scholar .

10 There is a huge literature on the history of Russian intellectual thought. Here are a few important references: Berlin , Isaiah , Russian Thinkers ( New York : Viking Press , 1978 )Google Scholar Haimson , Leopold , The Russian Marxists and the Origins of Bolshevism ( Cambridge, Mass .: Harvard University Press , 1955 )CrossRefGoogle Scholar Kelly , Aileen , Towards another Shore: Russian Thinkers between Necessity and Chance ( New Haven : Yale University Press , 1998 )Google Scholar Malia , Martin , Aleksander Herzen and the Birth of Russian Socialism, 1812–1855 ( Cambridge, Mass .: Harvard University Press , 1961 )CrossRefGoogle Scholar Venturi , Franco , Roots of Revolution: A History of Populist and Socialist Movements in Nineteenth-Century Russia ( New York : Knopf , 1960 )Google Scholar Walicki , Andrzej , A History of Russian Thought from the Enlightenment to Marxism ( Stanford : Stanford University Press , 1979 )Google Scholar .

11 Grenby , M. O. , “ The Anti-Jacobin Novel: British Fiction, British Conservatism and the Revolution in France ,” History 83 , 271 ( 1998 ): 445 –71CrossRefGoogle Scholar .

12 Cawelti , John G. , Adventure, Mystery, and Romance: Formula Stories as Art and Popular Culture ( Chicago : University of Chicago Press , 1976 )Google Scholar Denning , Michael , Dime Novels and Working Class Culture in America ( London : Verso , 1987 )Google Scholar .

13 Allen , James Smith , “ History and the Novel: Mentalité in Modern Popular Fiction ,” History and Theory 22 , 3 ( 1983 ): 233 –52CrossRefGoogle Scholar Boym , Svetlana , Common Places: Mythologies of Everyday Life in Russia ( Cambridge, Mass .: Harvard University Press , 1994 )Google Scholar .

14 Pratt , Mary Louise , Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation ( London : Routledge 1992 )CrossRefGoogle Scholar Edward Said, Orientalism (New York: Pantheon Books, 1978).

15 For the complicated nexus between Said and Foucault, see Clifford , James , “On Orientalism,” in The Predicament of Culture: Twentieth-Century Ethnography, Literature, and Art ( Cambridge, Mass .: Harvard University Press , 1988 ), 225 –76Google Scholar Kennedy , Valerie , Edward Said: A Critical Introduction ( Cambridge, U.K .: Polity Press , 2000 )Google Scholar .

16 Dirks , Nicholas , “ Edward Said and Anthropology ,” Journal of Palestinian Studies 33 , 3 ( 2004 ): 38 – 54 CrossRefGoogle Scholar Rotter , Andrew , “ Saidism without Said: Orientalism and U.S. Diplomatic History ,” American Historical Review 105 , 4 ( 2000 ): 1205 –17CrossRefGoogle Scholar .

17 Chakrabarty , Dipesh , Provincializing Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference ( Princeton : Princeton University Press , 2000 )Google Scholar Cooper , Fredrick and Stoler , Ann Laura , eds., Tensions of Empire: Colonial Cultures in a Bourgeois World ( Berkeley : University of California Press , 1997 )CrossRefGoogle Scholar Stoler , Ann aura , “ Tense and Tender Ties: The Politics of Comparison in North American and (Post) Colonial Studies ,” Journal of American History 88 , 3 ( 2001 ): 829 –65CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed .

18 Cohn , Bernard , Colonialism and Its Forms of Knowledge: The British in India ( Princeton : Princeton University Press , 1996 )Google Scholar Jacobson , Matthew rye , Barbarian Virtues ( New York : Hill and Wang 2000 )Google Scholar Mitchell , Timothy , Colonising Egypt ( Cambridge : Cambridge University Press , 1988 )Google Scholar Sinha , Mrinalini , Specters of Mother India ( Durham : Duke University Press , 2006 )CrossRefGoogle Scholar Yoshihara , Mari , Embracing the East: White Women and American Orientalism ( Oxford : Oxford University Press , 2003 )Google Scholar .

19 Kaplan , Amy , The Anarchy of Empire in the Making of U.S. Culture ( Cambridge, Mass .: Harvard University Press , 2002 ), 100 Google Scholar .

20 On American fiction and imperialism see, Rowe , John Carlos , Literary Culture and U.S. Imperialism: From the Revolution to World War II ( Oxford : Oxford University Press , 2000 )Google Scholar Streeby , Shelley , American Sensations: Class, Empire, and the Production of Popular Culture ( Berkeley : University of California Press , 2002 )Google Scholar Brickhouse , Anna , Transamerican Literary Relations and the Nineteenth-Century Public Sphere ( Cambridge : Cambridge University Press , 2004 )CrossRefGoogle Scholar See also American Literary History 8, 3 (Fall 2006), an issue devoted entirely to the theme of American literature and transnationalism.

21 Rydell , Robert W. , All the World's a Fair: Visions of Empire at American International Expositions, 1876–1916 ( Chicago : University of Chicago Press , 1984 )Google Scholar .

22 Figes , Orlando , Natsha's Dance: A Cultural History of Russia ( New York : Metropolitan Books , 2002 )Google Scholar .

23 Kammen , Michael , A Season of Youth: The American Revolution and the Historical Imagination ( New York : Knopf , 1978 ), 214 –15Google Scholar .

24 Amy Kaplan, Anarchy of Empire, 117.

25 Marks , Steven G. , How Russia Shaped the Modern World: From Art to Anti-Semitism, Ballet to Bolshevism ( Princeton : Princeton University Press 2003 ), 22 Google Scholar Buckler , Julie A. , “Melodramatizing Russia: Nineteenth-Century Views from the West,” in McReynolds , Louise and Neuberger , Joan , eds., Imitations of Life: Two Centuries of Melodrama in Russia ( Durham : Duke University Press , 2002 ), 55 – 78 CrossRefGoogle Scholar For a comprehensive bibliography on Western fiction see Cross , Anthony G. , The Russian Theme in English Literature from the Sixteenth Century to 1980: An Introductory Survey and a Bibliography ( Oxford : W. A. Meeuws , 1985 )Google Scholar .

26 Cobb , Sylvanus , Ivan the Serf, or, The Russian and Circassian: A Tale of Russia, Turkey and Circassia / by Austin C. Burdick ( New York : S. French , 1850 –1859)Google Scholar Gayarre , Charles , Dr. Bluff in Russia, or The Emperor Nicholas and the American Doctor: A Comedy in Two Acts ( New Orleans : Bronze Pen Print , 1865 )Google Scholar .


A follow-up post to "Why Must a Heroine Die?"

The Real Vera Zasulich: A Revolutionary

Vera Zasulich was born in Russia in 1849 (Simkin, “Vera Zasulich”) to a family of impoverished nobles (“Zasulich”). She was one of five children (“Zasulich”) and her father died when she was three years old (Simkin, “Vera Zasulich”). Vera’s mother sent her to stay with wealthy relatives (Simkin, “Vera Zasulich”), where she attended school in order to become a governess, which was typical for women of her status (“Zasulich”).

After her schooling, and encouraged by her sister Ekaterina (“Zasulich”), Vera became involved in radical politics (Simkin, “Vera Zasulich”). She joined a group to educate workers and gave them literary classes in the evenings (Simkin, “Vera Zasulich”). She met Sergi Nechayev, who co-write the 1869 book, Catechism of a Revolutionist, which had a great impact on young Russians (Simkin). Sergi would often give the names of his comrades to police so that his comrades would grow to hate the regime as they suffered in prison. Vera supposedly did not escape this fate, and she was arrested by police in 1869 for revolutionary activity. Within the next six years, Vera faced imprisonment and was exiled multiple times. When she was released in 1875, she was apparently no longer the quiet woman she had been and had become a committed revolutionary (Zasulich).

Vera ended up joining the secret society, Land and Liberty. Land and Liberty was led by Mark Natanson, who believed that the Russian Empire should cease to exist and that two-thirds of the land should be given to the peasants where they could then organize self-governing communes (Simkin). Vera was described by Lev Deich, a fellow member of Land and Liberty as:

“Because of her intellectual development, and particularly she was so well read, Vera Zasulich was more advanced than the other members of the circle. Anyone could see that she was a remarkable young woman. You were struck by her behavior, particularly by the extraordinary sincerity and unaffectedness of her relations with others” (Simkin, “Vera Zasulich”).

Vera believed that the revolutionary party should be a group of equals and that there should be no hierarchy within the party (“Zasulich”).

It is as a member of the Land and Liberty society that Vera heard that a prisoner, by the name of Alexei Bogoliubov, had been cruelly beaten by Dmitry Trepov, the Governor General of St. Petersburg (Simkin, “Vera Zasulich”). Furious with the abuse, Vera decided to seek revenge on Trepov. She snuck a revolver into his office, and not concerned whether she killed him or only wounded him, she shot him in the pelvis (“Zasulich”). Vera later recalls:

“The revolver was in my hand. I pressed the trigger – a misfire. My heart missed a beat. Again I pressed. A shot, cries. Now they’ll start beating me. This was next in the sequence of events I had thought through so many times. I threw down the revolver – this also had been decided beforehand otherwise, in the scuffle, it might go off by itself. I stood and waited. Suddenly everybody around me began moving, the petitioners scattered, police officers threw themselves at me, and I was seized from both sides” (Simkin, “Vera Zasulich”).

Vera was arrested and charged for the attempted murder of Trepov (Simkin, “Vera Zasulich”). Her trial occurred two months later and caused quite a sensation. Vera’s defense attorney said that since Vera had been a prisoner herself, she was able to identify with Alexei’s experience at the hands of Trepov. He then emphasized that Vera committed her attack against Trepov selflessly, and that she did so in order to stop the government from enacting such violence on prisoners (“Zasulich”). They were also able to provide evidence of police brutality (Simkin, “Vera Zasulich”). Vera conducted herself with dignity (Simkin, “Vera Zasulich”), and her attorney said that she would accept the punishment “without a reproach, without a complaint” (“Zasulich”).

At the time of her trial, Russia allowed jury members to follow their consciences even if they thought the defendant was guilty. Thus, after only ten minutes of deliberation, the jury found Vera not guilty (“Zasulich”). Fyodor Dostoevsky, famed Russian novelist, had said that punishing Vera would have been “inappropriate and superflouous” (“Zasulich”).

As you can imagine, the police and government were not happy with the verdict, and they tried to arrest Vera outside the court however, they were obstructed by a crowd, which allowed Vera to escape (Simkin, “Vera Zasulich”). In regards to her trial, Vera said:


A follow-up post to "Why Must a Heroine Die?"

The Real Vera Zasulich: A Revolutionary

Vera Zasulich was born in Russia in 1849 (Simkin, “Vera Zasulich”) to a family of impoverished nobles (“Zasulich”). She was one of five children (“Zasulich”) and her father died when she was three years old (Simkin, “Vera Zasulich”). Vera’s mother sent her to stay with wealthy relatives (Simkin, “Vera Zasulich”), where she attended school in order to become a governess, which was typical for women of her status (“Zasulich”).

After her schooling, and encouraged by her sister Ekaterina (“Zasulich”), Vera became involved in radical politics (Simkin, “Vera Zasulich”). She joined a group to educate workers and gave them literary classes in the evenings (Simkin, “Vera Zasulich”). She met Sergi Nechayev, who co-write the 1869 book, Catechism of a Revolutionist, which had a great impact on young Russians (Simkin). Sergi would often give the names of his comrades to police so that his comrades would grow to hate the regime as they suffered in prison. Vera supposedly did not escape this fate, and she was arrested by police in 1869 for revolutionary activity. Within the next six years, Vera faced imprisonment and was exiled multiple times. When she was released in 1875, she was apparently no longer the quiet woman she had been and had become a committed revolutionary (Zasulich).

Vera ended up joining the secret society, Land and Liberty. Land and Liberty was led by Mark Natanson, who believed that the Russian Empire should cease to exist and that two-thirds of the land should be given to the peasants where they could then organize self-governing communes (Simkin). Vera was described by Lev Deich, a fellow member of Land and Liberty as:

“Because of her intellectual development, and particularly she was so well read, Vera Zasulich was more advanced than the other members of the circle. Anyone could see that she was a remarkable young woman. You were struck by her behavior, particularly by the extraordinary sincerity and unaffectedness of her relations with others” (Simkin, “Vera Zasulich”).

Vera believed that the revolutionary party should be a group of equals and that there should be no hierarchy within the party (“Zasulich”).

It is as a member of the Land and Liberty society that Vera heard that a prisoner, by the name of Alexei Bogoliubov, had been cruelly beaten by Dmitry Trepov, the Governor General of St. Petersburg (Simkin, “Vera Zasulich”). Furious with the abuse, Vera decided to seek revenge on Trepov. She snuck a revolver into his office, and not concerned whether she killed him or only wounded him, she shot him in the pelvis (“Zasulich”). Vera later recalls:

“The revolver was in my hand. I pressed the trigger – a misfire. My heart missed a beat. Again I pressed. A shot, cries. Now they’ll start beating me. This was next in the sequence of events I had thought through so many times. I threw down the revolver – this also had been decided beforehand otherwise, in the scuffle, it might go off by itself. I stood and waited. Suddenly everybody around me began moving, the petitioners scattered, police officers threw themselves at me, and I was seized from both sides” (Simkin, “Vera Zasulich”).

Vera was arrested and charged for the attempted murder of Trepov (Simkin, “Vera Zasulich”). Her trial occurred two months later and caused quite a sensation. Vera’s defense attorney said that since Vera had been a prisoner herself, she was able to identify with Alexei’s experience at the hands of Trepov. He then emphasized that Vera committed her attack against Trepov selflessly, and that she did so in order to stop the government from enacting such violence on prisoners (“Zasulich”). They were also able to provide evidence of police brutality (Simkin, “Vera Zasulich”). Vera conducted herself with dignity (Simkin, “Vera Zasulich”), and her attorney said that she would accept the punishment “without a reproach, without a complaint” (“Zasulich”).

At the time of her trial, Russia allowed jury members to follow their consciences even if they thought the defendant was guilty. Thus, after only ten minutes of deliberation, the jury found Vera not guilty (“Zasulich”). Fyodor Dostoevsky, famed Russian novelist, had said that punishing Vera would have been “inappropriate and superflouous” (“Zasulich”).

As you can imagine, the police and government were not happy with the verdict, and they tried to arrest Vera outside the court however, they were obstructed by a crowd, which allowed Vera to escape (Simkin, “Vera Zasulich”). In regards to her trial, Vera said:

11. The First World War

TO AVOID INTERNMENT in Austria when the war broke out, Trotsky moved from Vienna to Zurich. Neutral Switzerland became the refuge of Russian revolutionaries who had lived in Germany and Austria. To Zurich also went Karl Radek, Nikolai Bukharin, and a little later, Lenin.

During his stay in Zurich, which lasted only a little over two months, Trotsky wrote a pamphlet, The War and the International, first serialised in Golos, the Paris paper edited by Martov, and then appearing as a pamphlet in Germany circulated underground in December 1914. The German government sentenced Trotsky in absentia to several months in prison. This was the first extensive statement of anti-war policy by a Russian socialist. Trotsky was one of the main inspirers of the revolutionary opposition to the war and the coming Zimmerwald conference.

The pamphlet was directed first of all against German Social Democracy, the leading party of the Second International, which was now a supporter of the war. Trotsky wrote:

All talk of the present bloody clash being a work of national defence is either hypocrisy or blindness. On the contrary, the real, objective significance of the war is the breakdown of the present national economic centres, and the substitution of a world economy in its stead. But the way the governments propose to solve this problem of imperialism is not through the intelligent, organised cooperation of all humanity’s producers, but through the exploitation of the world’s economic system by the capitalist class of the victorious country which country is by this war to be transformed from a Great Power into the World Power.

The war proclaims the downfall of the national state. Yet at the same time it proclaims the downfall of the capitalist system of economy .

The war of 1914 is the most colossal breakdown in history of an economic system destroyed by its own inherent contradictions .

Capitalism has created the material conditions of a new socialist economic system. Imperialism has led the capitalist nations into historic chaos. The war of 1914 shows the way out of this chaos by violently urging the proletariat on to the path of revolution. [1]

War is the method by which capitalism, at the climax of its development, seeks to solve its insoluble contradictions. To this method the proletariat must oppose its own method, the method of the social revolution. [2]

Trotsky argues the case for a new International:

As the national states have become a hindrance to the development of the fortes of production, so the Socialist parties have become the main hindrance to the revolutionary movement of the working class.

. the entire book, from the first to the last page, was written with the idea of the New International constantly in mind, the New International which must rise up out of the present world cataclysm, the International of the last conflict and the final victory. [3]

What is the programme Trotsky put forward for the anti-war movement?

‘Immediate cessation of the War’ is the watchword under which the Social Democracy can reassemble its scattered ranks, both within the national parties, and in the whole International .

The conditions upon which peace should be concluded – the peace of the people themselves, and not the reconciliation of the diplomats – must be the same for the whole International. No reparations.

The right to every nation to self-determination.

The United States of Europe – without monarchies, without standing armies, without ruling feudal castes, without secret diplomacy.

The surest way by which the Social Democracy can isolate the militaristic reaction in Europe and force it to take the offensive is by the slogan of peace. [4]

Later, in November 1914, Trotsky left Switzerland for France, and stayed in Paris until he was deported to Spain on 30 October 1916.

Lenin’s Anti-War Policy

Like Trotsky, Lenin saw the war as imperialist. Both condemned the socialist leaders who supported the war efforts of their own governments. Both called for working-class struggle against the war. Both called for the construction of a new International. However there were significant differences between Lenin and Trotsky regarding the strategy and tactics of opposing the imperialist war, differences that grew out of the long factional strife of the past which kept them away from each other.

First, Lenin called for a policy of revolutionary defeatism. In August 1914 he wrote:

From the viewpoint of the working class and the toiling masses of all the peoples of Russia, the defeat of the Tsarist monarchy and its army, which oppress Poland, the Ukraine, and many other peoples of Russia, and foment hatred among the peoples so as to increase Great Russian oppression of the other nationalities, and consolidate the reactionary and barbarous government of the Tsar’s monarchy, would be the lesser evil by far. [5]

And Lenin was not equivocal. To aim at overthrowing one’s own ruling class through civil war, one must welcome the defeat of one’s ‘own’ country:

A revolution in wartime means civil war the conversion of a war between governments into a civil war is, on the one hand, facilitated by military reverses (‘defeats’) of governments on the other hand, one cannot actually strive for such a conversion without thereby facilitating defeat. [6]

. ‘a war against war’ is a banal phrase unless it means a revolution against their own government. [7]

. To repudiate the defeat slogan means allowing one’s revolutionary ardour to degenerate into an empty phrase, or sheer hypocrisy. [8]

A revolutionary class cannot but wish for the defeat of its government in a reactionary war, and cannot fail to see that the latter’s military reverses must facilitate its overthrow . the socialists of all the belligerent countries should express their wish that all their ‘own’ governments should be defeated .

Not ‘peace without annexations’, but peace to the cottages, war on the palaces peace to the proletariat and the working people, war on the bourgeoisie! [9]

The line of ‘revolutionary defeatism’ is a universal one, applicable to all imperialist countries:

. if we call on the masses to fight against their governments, ‘regardless of the military position of the given country’, we thereby not only repudiate the admissibility of ‘defending the country’, as a principle, in the present war, but admit the desirability of defeat for every bourgeois government in order to transform its defeat into revolution. [10]

Any retreat from ‘revolutionary defeatism’, said Lenin, could lead to hesitation in carrying through the class struggle, in case this would weaken national defence.

Besides the question of ‘revolutionary defeatism’, another bone of contention between Lenin and Trotsky was the slogan of Peace. Lenin argued that there is no reformist half-measure way out of the war. The only way to stop the imperialist war was by civil war:

It would be a crying deception of the masses to suggest to them, directly or indirectly, that a reformist solution of the problems raised by the present war is possible. For this war has brought about a revolutionary situation in Europe by making an issue of the most fundamental problems of imperialism, which must needs be solved the imperialist way unless the present governments and ruling classes of Europe happen to be overthrown the revolutionary way. [11]

Thus Lenin rejected with utter disgust the pacifist programme of Kautsky and his group:

Any ‘peace programme’ will deceive the people and be a piece of hypocrisy, unless its principal object is to explain to the masses the need for a revolution, and to support, aid and develop the mass revolutionary struggles breaking out everywhere (ferment among the masses, protests, fraternisation in the trenches, strikes, demonstrations . [12]

While opposing pacifism and the ‘Peace’ slogan, Lenin does not oppose the spontaneous urge of the masses for peace. One must distinguish, he argues, between the urge of the masses for peace and the revolutionary party programme to end the war the party should not tail-end the awakening masses.

Should . socialists . remain indifferent to the peace demand that is coming from ever greater masses of the people? By no means. The slogans of the workers’ class-conscious vanguard are one thing, while the spontaneous demands of the masses are something quite different. The yearning for peace is one of the most important symptoms revealing the beginnings of disappointment in the bourgeois lie about a war of liberation’, the ‘defence of the fatherland’, and similiar falsehoods that the class of capitalists beguiles the mob with. This symptom should attract the closest attention from socialists. All efforts must be bent towards utilising the masses’ desire for peace. But how is it to be utilised? To recognise the peace slogan and repeat it would mean deceiving the people with illusion that the existing governments, the present-day master classes, are capable . of granting a peace in any way satisfactory to democracy and the working class. Nothing is more harmful than such deception . we must make use of the desire for peace so as to explain to the masses that the benefits they expect from peace cannot be obtained without a series of revolutions. [13]

The strength of Lenin’s position was that by its extremism, by its ‘bending the stick’ – by speaking about the defeat of one’s own country as being the lesser evil, it was better calculated to create a clear division between revolutionaries and social patriots. Lenin’s position was direct, his language was simple. What he said could not be misinterpreted.

Trotsky and ‘Revolutionary Defeatism’

Trotsky did not agree with Lenin’s slogan of revolutionary defeatism. Thus he wrote, in an article entitled War Catastrophe and Political Perspectives:

Other things being equal, a defeat that shatters one state structure implies the corresponding strengthening of that of its opponent. And we do not know of any European social and state organism which it would be in the interests of the European proletariat to strengthen .

Russian Social Democracy could not link its political plans to the mobilising effect of military catastrophe .

. a revolution which grows out of a defeat inherits an economic life utterly disordered by war, exhausted state finances, and extremely strained international relations. . military catastrophe, exhausting as it does the economic and spiritual forces and resources of the population, retains only a limited capacity to arouse active indignation, protest and revolutionary action. Beyond a certain point, exhaustion can be so great as to suppress energy and paralyse the will. Despair, passivity, and moral disintegration set in .

. The gigantic dimensions of the present war – with its indefinitely prolonged character – may for a long period clip the wings of all social development, and consequently, first and foremost, that of the revolutionary movement of the proletariat. [14]

Trotsky’s argument is purely rationalist, not dialectical materialist. From the standpoint of economic rationality, the revolution and civil war are purely negative: their immediate impact is to damage the productive forces of society. However, as a matter of fact, the conditions of economic chaos are prerequisites of the proletarian revolution.

In an Open Letter to the Editorial Board of the Bolshevik journal Kommunist Trotsky wrote:

I cannot possibly agree with your view . that the defeat of Russia is the lesser evil’. This is an uncalled for and absolutely unjustifiable concession to the political methodology of social patriotism, which would replace the revolutionary struggle against the war and the conditions causing it, with an orientation, extremely arbitrary in the present conditions – towards the lesser evil. [15]

The experience yet to come of 1917 and 1918 in Russia and Germany showed who was right about the impact of military defeat on the revolution. Of course wisdom after the event is cheap, but in reality Trotsky’s method of approach to revolutionary defeatism was flawed. Of course the aim of the socialist revolution is to advance the productive forces, but in practice the socialist revolution in the short run does damage to the productive forces, and can be the outcome of this damage. Thus no one will argue in the name of socialist construction against a revolutionary army blowing up bridges to stop the advance of a counter-revolutionary army. The truth is always concrete. Trotsky’s approach to the question was totally abstract, hence vague.

Trotsky also argued strongly against Lenin’s opposition to the slogan of Peace. Thus in the Open Letter to the Editorial Board of Kommunist he wrote:

I cannot reconcile myself to the vagueness and evasiveness of your position on the question of mobilising the proletariat under the slogan of the struggle for peace. It is under this slogan that the working masses are now in fact coming back to their senses politically, and the revolutionary forces of socialism are rallying in all countries. Under this slogan an attempt to restore the international ties of the socialist proletariat is now being made. [16]

Lenin always called a spade a spade. The slogan must always fit the task. Seeing that there was no way to stop the imperialist war through the path of reform, the slogan of the revolutionary party must set the workers symmetrically against their enemy. So, to stop an imperialist war a civil war was needed. Any talk of peace would be to accept the possibility that reform might overcome the imperialist war.

It is important, however, to place the dispute between Lenin and Trotsky on revolutionary defeatism in proper perspective. First of all, Trotsky was not the only international socialist leader to oppose the slogan of revolutionary defeatism. Rosa Luxemburg, Karl Liebknecht and Franz Mehring also did so. They declared themselves against national defence and in favour of peace without victors or vanquished, peace without reparations or annexations. For political reasons Lenin was far more uncompromising in his criticism of Trotsky’s position than that of Luxemburg or Liebknecht.

In addition, not all the Bolsheviks supported Lenin’s position of revolutionary defeatism.

When Lenin’s theses on the war reached Petersburg at the beginning of September 1914, the party leaders raised a number of objections, especially to the slogan of ‘revolutionary defeatism’. The Duma fraction tried to tone down the sharpness of Lenin’s formulations. It was the same story in Moscow and in the provinces. ‘The war caught the “Leninists” unprepared’, testifies the Moscow okhrana (secret police), ‘and for a long time . they could not agree on their attitude toward the war.’ The Moscow Bolsheviks wrote in code by way of Stockholm for transmission to Lenin that, notwithstanding all respect for him, his advice to ‘sell the house’ (the slogan of defeatism) had not struck a chord. [17]

The old Bolshevik Baevsky noted that the slogan of defeat of one’s own government raised objections in Russia and that there was a tendency to eliminate the word ‘defeat’ ‘as a very odious one’. [18] Shliapnikov also recalled that, while the theses on the whole reflected the state of mind of party workers, the question of ‘defeat’ provoked perplexity. [19] Sotsialdemokrat noted that the Bolshevik organisation in Moscow adopted the manifesto with the exception of the paragraph dealing with the defeat of one’s own country. [20] There is other evidence of reluctance by party workers in Russia and outside to adopt the defeatist point of view, not only at the beginning of the war but right up to the revolution of 1917. [21]

In November 1914 the five Bolshevik deputies to the Duma were arrested (the sixth had resigned some time earlier). In February 1915, together with another five Bolshevik leaders, they were brought to trial. They, and above all their theoretical mentor, Kamenev, went out of their way to repudiate Lenin’s theses on revolutionary defeatism. (The only notable exception was the Duma deputy M.K. Muranov.) Kamenev declared that Lenin’s theses decidedly contradicted his own views on the current war. He said that Lenin’s views were rejected both by the Social Democratic deputies and the central institutions, meaning the central committee, whose spokesman Kamenev claimed to be. Another of the Bolsheviks on trial pointed out that Lenin’s theses contradicted the declaration in the name of the Social Democratic fractions which had been read in the Duma on 27 July 1914. [22]

Still a conciliator

There was another bone of contention between Lenin and Trotsky. Trotsky did not agree with Lenin’s strict definition of who were the internationalists. Lenin was for excluding Karl Kautsky, Victor Adler, the organising committee of the Mensheviks, and other similar leaders. Thus in a Letter from the Central Committee of the RSDRP to the Editors of Trotsky’s paper Nashe Slovo Lenin wrote:

What should be understood by internationalism? Is it, for instance, possible to number among the internationalists those who stand for the International being restored on the principle of a mutual ‘amnesty’? As you know, Kautsky is the leading representative of the ‘amnesty’ theory. [1*] Victor Adler has come out in the same vein.

We consider the adherents of an amnesty the most dangerous opponents of internationalism . A most determined struggle against the ‘amnesty’ theory is a conditio sine qua non of internationalism. It is vain to speak of internationalism if there is no desire and no readiness to make a complete break with the defenders of an ‘amnesty’. [23]

Before dealing with Trotsky’s attitude to various Menshevik leaders during the war, let us sketch the position of the Menshevik leaders toward the war. On the extreme right – defencists and chauvinists – were Plekhanov, Vera Zasulich and Lev Deich. They declared themselves for the Entente and the defence of Russia. Plekhanov wrote: Russia belongs not to the Tsar, but to its working population. Whoever holds dear the interests of this population cannot remain indifferent to the fate of Russia.’ [24] Angelica Balabanoff reported that Plekhanov said: ‘So far as I am concerned if I were not old and sick I would join the army. To bayonet your German comrades would give me great pleasure.’ [25] What a blow it must have been to Trotsky to see the old veterans to whom he was so dedicated, Zasulich and Deich, largely for whose sake he had broken with Lenin in 1903, now joining the patriotic camp.

A hardly better position than Plekhanov’s was taken by Potresov. He was not ready to go so far as to support the Tsarist government in a war, but he was against opposing the war. Thus early in 1915 he wrote:

The defeat of Germany, Austria-Hungary and Turkey was incomparably more to be hoped for from the socialist point of view than the defeat of Britain, France, Belgium and Russia . Russian socialists are confronted by a reactionary government which prohibits all action by independent social fortes even for the sake of national defence, which calls for the fullest exertion of the people’s energies . Consequently, while the Russian socialists do not oppose the national effort of self- defence, and while they recognise that the war raises issues which must be judged and solved, now and in future, by all classes of the community, they continue with all their powers to fight against the Russian government. They do not oppose the war or put out anti-war slogans, not only because these would be ineffectual but because they would consider them harmful. [26]

More equivocal than this was the position of Pavel Axelrod. In December 1914 he wrote that it was impossible ‘to ignore the question of who actually started’ the war, ‘thereby imposing upon all attacked countries the necessity of defending their independence’ . ‘To blame the Belgian socialists for defending their country’ is ‘not Marxism, but cynicism’ .

While fatherlands exist, while, as at present, the proletariat’s life and its movement are compressed into the framework of the fatherlands, and while the proletariat does not feel another and international soil under its feet, the question of patriotism and self-defence will continue to exist for the working class.

Axelrod asserted that the conduct of the German Social Democratic leaders was not treachery, as their behaviour was dictated by ‘a keen sentiment, the consciousness of an organic bond with that piece of land, the fatherland, on which the German proletarians live and work’. [27]

Axelrod quoted approvingly a point made by Jules Guesde, the French social patriot: if the house occupied jointly by a worker and a capitalist catches fire, the worker must try to extinguish the flames for it is also his home. Moreover, French workers had every reason to prefer a French republican regime to rule by semi-absolutist Germany: ‘The French socialists could not but actively participate in the defence of their country.’ [28]

Abraham Ascher, the biographer of Axelrod, described his position thus:

He sympathised with the decisions of the French and Belgian socialists to defend their countries, but refused to sanction support of the Tsar by Russian socialists. By the same token, he opposed the idea of total victory or defeat of either side . a crushing defeat of a major power could only amount to a ‘great misfortune for all humanity’ because the economic devastation it would produce would impede the economic development of Europe as a whole. At the same time, however, he suggested that a minor defeat for Tsarist Russia, one that would not affect the ‘organic development of the country, would be of assistance in the liquidation of the old regime.’

Axelrod’s ambivalent position on the war did not endear him to the social patriots who were in the majority among the Mensheviks, or the Internationalists who were in a minority. Ascher writes:

Axelrod’s refusal to advance a straightforward, uncomplicated line on the war irritated many Russian Marxists. In 1916 he complained that ‘Since the outbreak of the war until the present I have been quite isolated, even within the narrow circle of my colleagues.’ It seemed to him that nearly everyone misunderstood his position. Yet the real source of his isolation was the widespread belief that his guarded and judicious statements concealed indecision, vagueness, and, most serious, insufficient dedication in opposing the war. [29]

To the left of Axelrod stood Martov. Looking back in 1930, Trotsky called Martov ‘the Hamlet of Democratic Socialism’: ‘. his thought lacked the mainspring of will’. [30] So he always vacillated. ‘Martov’s first reaction to events was nearly always revolutionary, but before he could put his ideas on paper, his mind would be besieged by doubts from all sides.’ [31]

At the beginning of the war Martov took a very favourable attitude to Lenin’s position on the war. [32] At the time Lenin praised Golos, the Paris paper edited by Martov as ‘the best socialist paper in Europe’. He said:

The more frequently and the more violently I differed with Martov before, the more definitely I must say now that that writer is now doing precisely what a Social Democrat should do. [33]

Martov toyed with the idea of collaborating with Lenin. On 14 October 1914 he wrote to Axelrod: ‘Sooner than with Plekhanov we could perhaps come to terms with Lenin, who appears to be ready to assume the role of champion against opportunism in the International.’ But as if with second thoughts he added: ‘With regard to an agreement with Lenin, I only just mentioned it: I have no wish to work with him and would prefer that we on our own, within the Menshevik camp, declare ourselves in this matter.’ [34] On 27 October Martov shied even further away from Lenin: ‘It is obvious that Lenin and Co. would compromise us more than they would help us.’ [35]

For many months Martov vacillated between Axelrod and Trotsky. When Trotsky moved to Paris in November 1914 he joined the editorial board of Golos. In the middle of January 1915 Golos ceased publication, being harassed by the censorship. On 19 January a new paper was published, Nashe Slovo. This was a modest sheet of two, rarely four, pages, abundantly strewn with white spaces marking the censors’ deletions. The co-editors were Martov and Trotsky. Martov found himself very often in conflict with the majority of the editorial board and above all with Trotsky. Lunacharsky, who was also on the editorial board of Nashe Slovo describes the heated arguments between Trotsky and Martov at meetings of the board:

Trotsky tried by every means to persuade Martov to break his links with the defencists. The meetings of the editorial board turned into lengthy discussions, during which Martov, with astounding mental agility, almost with a kind of cunning sophistry, avoided a direct answer to the question whether he would break with the defencists, and at times Trotsky attacked him extremely angrily. Matters reached the point of an almost total break between Trotsky and Martov – whom, by the way, Trotsky always respected as a political intellect – and at the same time a break between all of us left Internationalists and the Martov group. [36]

For all his sharp arguments against Martov, Trotsky still for a very long time shirked an actual break with him.

By August 1915 Martov was practically out of Nashe Slovo, although his official resignation from the editorial board came only on 18 March 1916. In reply to his letter of resignation, the board asserted that he had always opposed all attacks on the defencists, and that he had fudged over the distinction between ‘passive internationalism and proletarian pacifism on the one hand, and, on the other, social revolutionary internationalism which alone fits the tasks of the working class in the new era.’ [37]

While on Nashe Slovo’s editorial board, Martov continued to collaborate with Axelrod on the organisation committee of the Mensheviks, which declared in late 1915: ‘The proletariat cannot remain indifferent to the impending defeat . The proletariat is vitally interested in national self-preservation.’ [38]

Of special significance in the Menshevik camp were the War Industry Committees and the group of Duma deputies led by N.S. Chkheidze. In May 1915 the industrialists set up War Industry Committees to step up production for the war effort, and in July it was decided to include workers’ representatives on these. The Mensheviks were in favour of participation in the committees, while the Bolsheviks were against. The Bolsheviks did, however, run candidates in the elections for delegates to the committees, in order to explain their anti-war views to the workers. Out of 176 delegates in Petersburg, 95 voted for the Bolshevik resolution which opposed participation in the committees and 81 voted against. [39] All the main Menshevik leaders, with the exception of Martov, advocated participation.

As regards the Menshevik Duma deputies, they continued to preserve their freedom after the Bolshevik deputies were arrested in 1914. One of the Menshevik deputies – Makov – went so far as to vote for the defence budget, and for that was expelled from the fraction. Two others – Chkhenkeli and Khaustov – were openly patriotic. Chkheidze, the leader of the fraction, although declaring himself in favour of the Zimmerwald conference resolution which opposed the war, still supported workers’ participation in the War Industries Committees. [40]

Trotsky was for a complete break with Plekhanov, Zasulich, Deich and Potresov. He was very much against participating in the War Industry Committees. On 11 November 1915 he wrote in Nashe Slovo, after the elections to the War Industries Committees in Petersburg:

Organisational contact with the social patriotic general staffs is . becoming intolerable for Social Democracy and its organisations. We cannot involve ourselves in collaboration with social patriots who openly link themselves with the bourgeoisie’s struggle against us. We cannot use the authority of the workers’ party to cover up for those prisoners of proletarian consciousness, and we cannot allow any organisational ties whatsoever to restrict our struggle with them, which must be and will be taken to the very end! [41]

However, when it came to the Menshevik Duma deputies and Chkheidze, Trotsky’s position was not so clear cut. In June 1915 he defended the Duma group against Lenin’s criticism:

. the latest actions of our deputies, the speeches of Chkheidze, Chkhenkeli, and Tulyakov, and their voting, undoubtedly represents a step forward towards political precision and revolutionary irreconcilability .

Along with all the revolutionary elements of the International, I am proud of the conduct of our deputies I regard them at present as the most important channel of internationalist education of the proletariat of Russia. [42]

But by 20 April 1916 Trotsky was singing a different tune, criticising ‘the inadequately defined position of the Social Democratic Duma fraction under Chkheidze’s leadership’:

Some of them are ‘revolutionary’ social patriots, they accept the war. They therefore seek to further the development of a ‘national revolution’ by assuming the role of critique of the government’s conduct of the war. It is understandable that from their standpoint, that of a national revolution under the patriotic banner, it is necessary to seek a common language with the ‘Progressive Bloc’ and to limit the sphere of ‘revolutionary’ criticism to questions of domestic policy and military technique.

Other members of the Duma fraction he claimed, limited their activity to ‘passive internationalism’. [43]

The Zimmerwald Conference

After months of preparation, on 5 September 1915 a conference of anti-war socialists met in Zimmerwald in Switzerland. As a result, the name of this hitherto obscure, tiny village was to echo throughout the world. Trotsky reminisced many years later:

The delegates, filling four stage-coaches, set off for the mountains. The passers-by looked on curiously at the strange procession. The delegates themselves joked about the fact that half a century after the founding of the First International, it was still possible to seat all the internationalists on four coaches. [44]

Thirty-eight delegates attended, some of whom were observers without votes. From the very beginning of the conference three fairly distinct groups emerged. On the right there were some nineteen or twenty delegates, constituting a majority of the conference, who, although they supported a general demand for peace, opposed any breach with the social patriots or split with the Second International. This group included most of the German delegation, the French, some of the Italians, the Poles and the Russian Mensheviks. Those who were dissatisfied with this moderate objective and favoured a denunciation of civil peace, an organisational break with the social patriots and a revolutionary class struggle, constituted a left group of eight led by Lenin. To this group belonged Zinoviev, one Lithuanian, the Pole Karl Radek, two Swedish delegates and Julian Borchardt, the delegate of a tiny German group, the International Socialists. Between these two was a smaller centre group of five or six, among whom were Trotsky, Grimm, Balabanoff and Roland-Holst.

The German edition of a pamphlet titled Socialism and War, by Lenin and Zinoviev, was distributed among the delegates. But the Bolsheviks were unable to persuade the conference to adopt the draft resolution and thesis which Lenin proposed. This stipulated, as an essential pre-condition for the revolutionary mobilisation of the proletariat, the splitting of the socialist parties in a ruthless struggle against the majority of the labour leaders. Their minds, it declared, were ‘twisted by nationalism and eaten up with opportunism’. ‘At the moment of world war,’ they ‘had delivered the proletariat into the hands of imperialism and abandoned the principles of socialism and therewith the real struggle for the daily needs of the proletariat’.

Lenin’s resolution was overwhelmingly defeated, being dubbed childish and dangerous nonsense. Merrheim said that he could not pledge himself to urge the French people to rise up in rebellion against the war the European situation was not in his view ripe for revolution.

The leader of the majority of Germans was Georg Ledebour, a follower of Kautsky. Kautsky had recommended either abstaining from voting for the war credits or voting for them ‘with reservations.’ In justification for this stand he stated: ‘The International is an instrument of peace and not of war.’ After the war it would be necessary to come to agreement with the social patriots: ‘All men are human and make mistakes nevertheless the war will pass and we can make a new start’. Ledebour declared at the Zimmerwald conference: ‘Lenin’s resolution is unacceptable.’ ‘Perhaps,’ he added, ‘revolutionary actions might occur, but not because we call for them in a manifesto . In the belligerent countries people who sign or distribute such a manifesto would at once be liquidated.’ Ernst Meyer stated that not even a tiny proportion of the German proletariat would be prepared for the kind of action proposed by Lenin’s manifesto. An Italian delegate stressed that the task of the conference was to end the world war, not to unleash a civil war.

The conference decisively rejected Lenin’s efforts to create a breach with the Second International and found a new International. Merrheim, for example, declared in the debate: ‘You, comrade Lenin, are not motivated by the desire for peace, but by the wish to lay down the foundations of a new International it is this which divides us.’ In similar vein the official conference report stated: ‘In no way must the impression be created that this conference aims to provoke a split in or to establish a new International.’ [45]

The manifesto eventually adopted by the conference was almost identical with Trotsky’s draft. This movingly described the plight of embattled Europe, placed the responsibility for the war on the capitalist order, their governments and the treacherous parties. It called on the workers to overcome the chauvinist infection and put an end to the slaughter. It ended thus:

Never in the history of the world has there been a more urgent, a more noble, a more sublime task, the fulfilment of which must be our common work. No sacrifice is too great, no burden too heavy, to attain this end: the establishment of peace between the nations.

Working men and women! Mothers and fathers! Widows and orphans! Wounded and crippled! To all who are suffering from the war or in consequence of the war, we cry out, over the frontiers, over the smoking battlefields, over the devastated cities and hamlets.

Workers of all countries unite!’ [46]

Rousing though it was, the manifesto was vague in its conclusions: no call for civil war to put an end to the imperialist war, and no call for the founding of a new International. Instead they consisted largely of vague liberal and pacifist sentiments:

[The] struggle is also the struggle for liberty, for brotherhood of nations, for socialism. The task is to take up this fight for peace – for a peace without annexations or war indemnities. Such a peace is only possible when every thought of violating the rights and liberties of the nations is condemned. There must be no enforced incorporation either of wholly or partly occupied countries. No annexations, either open or masked, no forced economic union, made still more intolerable by the suppression of political rights. The right of nations to select their own government must be the immovable fundamental principle of international relations. [47]

Although in Nashe Slovo Trotsky referred to the coming social revolution and the necessity to create a Third International, nothing of this was included in the draft manifesto. Even the question of voting for or against the military budget was evaded: on the categorical demand of the German delegates, the concrete parliamentary measures of class struggle (the refusal of credits, the withdrawal from the ministries, and so on) were not included, though in Trotsky’s original draft they had been pronounced imperative for all socialist organisations in time of war.

Still, Lenin and his supporters signed the manifesto: ‘We vote for the manifesto because we regard it as a call to struggle, and in this struggle we are anxious to march side by side with the other sections of the International.’

In criticising the far left group, Trotsky stated:

Especially at the preliminary conference Comrade Lenin revealed clearly that, consistent with his earlier reports and articles, he personally had a completely negative attitude to the slogan of the struggle for peace. His political position on this question was summed up with the aphorism: Our task is not to force the cannons to be silent, but rather to make them serve our ends. [48]

Besides his activities amongst Russian socialists and the international movement against the war, Trotsky was active among French socialists. Almost from the beginning of his stay in Paris, he kept in touch with a small French anti-war group, mainly syndicalists, headed by Alfred Rosmer, Pierre Monatte and Albert Bourderon, who were later to found the French Communist Party. Trotsky regularly attended their weekly meetings, and influenced their ideas and policies. In spring 1916 a common anti-war manifesto was issued in the name of Nashe Slovo and Vie Ouvrier. Its slogans did not indicate that only the socialist revolution could put an end to the war: ‘Down with the war! Down with annexations! Down with war credits! Long live the liberty and independence of nations! Long live the economic union of peoples!’ [49]

Trotsky moves towards the Bolsheviks

It became more and more clear during the war that in the Russian labour movement the dividing line between internationalists and defencists was by and large congruent with the old line of division between Bolsheviks and Mensheviks. The demarcation affected the ‘non-factional’ editorial board of Nashe Slovo. Among the members of the Nashe Slovo group were a number of Mensheviks: Martov, Semkovsky, Kollontai, Chicherin, and Uritsky some former Bolshevik boycotters: Manuilsky, Lunacharsky, and Pokrovsky and the former conciliators Sokolnikov and Lozovsky. In addition, the Bulgarian-Rumanian Christian Rakovsky, the Pole Karl Radek, and the Italo-Russian Angelica Balabanoff attached themselves to Nashe Slovo. Trotsky held an intermediate position.

On 14 February 1915 Trotsky published a statement in Nashe Slovo in which for the first time he told of his past disagreements with the Mensheviks, his refusal to write for their press from 1913 onwards, and his refusal to be their spokesman at international conferences. It was an open break with the August Bloc and the politics that informed it. [50]

In an editorial on 5 June 1915, Trotsky declared that the old divisions of Russian socialism had been liquidated: Nashe Slovo should support neither the Menshevik Organising Committee nor the Bolshevik Central Committee. [51] The ex-Bolsheviks, however, above all Manuilsky, Lozovsky and Lunacharsky, moved back closer to Lenin under the influence of the war. Next day Manuilsky and Antonov-Ovseenko, supported by Lunacharsky and Zalewski, published their own manifesto calling for the ‘rallying of all Social Democratic internationalist elements’ and in favour of working first of all with the Bolshevik Sotsialdemokrat. [52] In four issues of Nashe Slovo Manuilsky criticised Trotsky for his attempts to excuse the ambiguous conduct of Chkheidze and the other Menshevik deputies. [53] (In the same issues Trotsky went on defending Chkheidze in unsigned articles).

A number of Mensheviks in the Nashe Slovo group were also moving towards Bolshevism, above all Kollontai, who was in regular contact with Lenin throughout the war years. In an article entitled ‘Two Parties’, one writer contrasted the social patriotism of the Mensheviks with the internationalism of the Bolsheviks:

Workers’ groups linked to Sotsialdemokrat represent at present for Russia the single, active, sustained and strong spirit of internationalism. This section represents the fundamental nucleus which in Russia can pull together a genuine proletarian internationalist party, and revive revolutionary class struggle, insistently demanding a single political organisation of the proletariat. For active, non-factional internationalism in Russia there is no other organisational way out but unity in a single organisation with ‘Leninism’. That in the most important sense means entry into the ‘Leninist’ organisation. [54]

The ‘non-faction’ faction of Nashe Slovo was disintegrating. Some broke off toward Menshevism: Martov, and even further rightward Semkovsky. The majority moved toward Bolshevism. Practically all the collaborators of Nashe Slovo were to join Lenin in 1917: Trotsky, Lunacharsky, Pokrovsky, Ryazanov, Manuilsky, Kollontai, Antonov-Ovseenko and Rakovsky.

Perhaps because of the very conflict that Trotsky had had with Lenin over many years, perhaps because of his conciliationism, rooted in the belief that under pressure of great revolutionary events in the future the Mensheviks would move leftwards as they did in 1905, it was more difficult for Trotsky to make obvious moves towards Bolshevism. But this he did. He broke with Martov and sharpened his attack on Chkheidze and the Menshevik Duma fraction.

But still he was not ready to join the Bolsheviks, even as late as August 1916, when he wrote a general assessment of the different currents in Russian Social Democracy, admitting that the pre-war divisions in Russian Social Democracy had a close bearing on the current controversy. He accepted the need to cooperate with the Bolsheviks, but still expressed his criticism of their position on the war question, and the threat they represented to the non-Bolshevik internationalists. At the same time he was very frank in his harsh criticism of the ‘August Bloc’ – in which he himself had played a decisive role:

The political work of the ‘August Bloc’ in Russia takes place almost entirely in the context of participation in the defencist War Industries Committees. The Petersburg Initiative Group and the Moscow Group base their tactics primarily on coordination of activities with the liberal-imperialist bourgeoisie.

Within this milieu disagreements are breaking out regularly on appraisal of their participation in the actual work of the War Industries Committees. Some, the open social patriots, demand that the participation proceed under the banner of defence. Others – while in fact subordinating the proletariat’s policy to the bourgeoisie’s defencist ‘opposition’ policy – supplement this with a purely verbal internationalism, with platonic declarations of solidarity with Zimmerwald, and so on.

The internal struggle of these two tendencies is, in fact, paralysing the [Menshevik] Organising Committee. Despite this, they remain tied to the framework of a single ‘August Bloc’ organisation on the common ground of defencist practice, even after the entire international and Russian experience of two years.

The centre of the day-to-day work of the ‘August Bloc’, its twin focal points, remains the central Petersburg and the Moscow War Industries Groups, with their battle flag of patriotism.

The Duma fraction is in a state of chronic breakdown. From the rostrum Chkheidze and Skobelev declare their solidarity with Zimmerwald and decline all political responsibility for the Organising Committee. But not once have they come out against participation in the War Industries Committees.

The so-called Secretariat Abroad is tied to a parliamentary fraction whose work is being carried out on the basis of the War Industries Committees.

After this sharp attack on the Mensheviks, it might have been assumed that Trotsky would bury the hatchet and call for a merger with the Bolsheviks. But he was still not ready for this:

In the camp of the Russian internationalists we find first of all the Sotsialdemokrat Group. It has been our lot, time and again, to point out those traits of this organisation which, not to detract from its role as a weighty revolutionary factor in the present time of crisis, prevents it at this moment from including all the revolutionary elements of the movement. From the very beginning of the war Sotsialdemokrat showed hostility to the slogan of the struggle for peace. But experience shows that the mobilisation of proletarian organisations everywhere has taken place precisely under this slogan. Only on this basis can revolutionary internationalists today successfully carry out their work . Finally, the paradoxical and internally contradictory formula ‘the defeat of Russia is the lesser evil’, creates difficulties for our German co-thinkers and does not enrich, but, rather hampers our agitation. [55]

In a private letter to Henriette Roland-Holst at the beginning of 1916 Trotsky was even sharper in criticising Bolshevism:

Russian extremism is the product of an amorphous and backward social milieu, where the initial historical movement of the proletariat naturally requires a simplification and vulgarisation of theory and politics.

. I know only too well with what scorn the leaflet of the Zimmerwald Left was regarded here to have any doubts of this. You must not forget, after all, that the Leninists do not have co-thinkers in Germany, or in France, or in Britain, and in my view they cannot have them. [2*]

While arguing for keeping a distance from Lenin, Trotsky spoke of the need ‘to maintain a more polite tone with Kautsky, who has been steadily moving to the left throughout the last six months’. [56] Nevertheless he slowly distanced himself from conciliation. In November 1924 in an essay entitled Our Differences, looking back at his move toward Bolshevism during the war, he wrote:

. if the period of the war is taken as a whole, it becomes quite clear that the terrible humiliation of socialism at the beginning of the war was a turning point for me from centrism to Bolshevism – in all questions without exception. 196 Towards October And as I worked out a more and more correct, i.e. Bolshevik, conception of the relations between class and party, between theory and politics, and between politics and organisation, my general revolutionary point of view towards bourgeois society was naturally filled with a more vital and realistic content.

From the moment when I clearly saw that a struggle to the death against defencism was absolutely necessary, Lenin’s position came through to me with full force. What had seemed to me to be ‘splitterism’, ‘disruption’, etc, now appeared as a salutary and incomparably far-sighted struggle for the revolutionary independence of the proletarian party . Until a revolutionist has arrived at the correct attitude toward the fundamental task of building a party and toward the method by which a party functions, there can be no question of any correct, stable, or consistent participation by such a person in the labour movement. Without the proper mutual relations between doctrine, slogans, tactics, and the work of the party organisation, there can be no revolutionary Marxist – Bolshevik – politics .

Without the Bolshevik Party, the October revolution could not have been carried through or consolidated. Thus, the only truly revolutionary work was the work that helped this party take shape and grow stronger. In relation to this main road all other revolutionary work remained off to the side, lacking any inner guarantee of success or dependability, and in many cases was directly detrimental to the main revolutionary work of that time. In this sense Lenin was right when he said that the conciliationist position, by giving protection and cover to Menshevism, often transformed revolutionary slogans, perspectives, etc. into mere phrases. [59]

What an example of intellectual honesty!

Trotsky’s move toward Bolshevism was not a smooth, straight line. It had zigzags, it often faltered, halted, and then moved on again.

On 15 September 1916 Nashe Slovo was banned. Next day Trotsky was ordered to leave France. On 30 October he was deported to Spain. From there he went to the United States. On 13 January 1917 he disembarked in New York harbour. Straight away he joined the editorial board of Novy Mir, a Russian daily edited by Bukharin, Kollontai, Volodarsky and Chudnovsky. He became its mainstay.

Trotsky and the February Revolution

Trotsky’s revolutionary optimism was as strong as ever. On 14 January he wrote: ‘I left Europe wallowing in blood, but I left with a profound faith in the coming revolution.’ [60]

When the news of the February revolution reached New York, Trotsky started a series of articles on the revolution. On 27 February he wrote:

The streets of Petrograd again speak the language of 1905 . And as in 1905, only those two powers are facing each other in the streets – the revolutionary working men and the army of the Tsar . The disorganised, compromised, disintegrated government at the top, the army shaken to the depths, the discontent, uncertainly and fear among the ruling classes, deep bitterness in the popular masses, the numerically developed proletariat tempered in the fire of events – all this gives us the right to say that we are witnessing the beginning of the second Russian revolution. Let us hope that many of us will be its participants. [61]

A few days later Trotsky learned that the Tsar had abdicated and that the liberals had come to power. Their leader Miliukov now declared that Russia would continue the war ‘to the end’. Without hesitation Trotsky declared that the bourgeoisie would not be able to consolidate its power and that what had happened was only the beginning: ‘The powerful avalanche of the revolution is in full swing, and no human force will stem it. The Rodziankos and Miliukovs have begun talking too soon about law and order.’ The liberals were afraid that the popular movement which had given them power would swamp them, so they were calling for an end to the revolution . ‘as if its iron broom had already cleared to the end all the reactionary litter that had over the centuries piled up’ around the Tsarist thieves.

The nation will now rise, layer after layer – and all the oppressed, destitute, robbed by Tsarism and the ruling classes .

At the head of the popular masses of Russia the revolutionary proletariat will carry on its historical work: it will expel monarchist reaction from wherever it tries to shelter and it will stretch out its hand to the proletariat of Germany and of the whole of Europe. It is necessary to liquidate not only Tsarism but the war as well .

Now the second wave of the revolution will roar over the heads of the Rodziankos and Miliukovs, burying all their attempt to restore order and come to terms with the monarchy. From its own depths the revolution will produce its government, a revolutionary organ of the people marching to victory. Both the chief battles and the chief sacrifices are in the future, and only after them will come complete and genuine victory. [62]

The liberals, he said, could not retain state power:

Should the Russian revolution stop today as the representatives of liberalism advocate, tomorrow the reaction of the Tsar, the nobility and the bureaucracy would gather power and drive Miliukov and Guchkov from their insecure ministerial trenches, as did the Prussian reaction years ago with the representatives of Prussian liberalism. But the Russian revolution will not stop. The time will come and the revolution will make a clean sweep of the bourgeois liberals blocking its way, as it is now making a clean sweep of the Tsarist reaction. [63]

A couple of days later, on 6 March, Trotsky wrote practically word for word the same as Lenin was writing, unknown to him, in Letters from Afar – and later in the famous April Theses. Trotsky wrote:

Already at this moment, immediately, the revolutionary proletariat ought to oppose its revolutionary institutions, the Soviet of Workers’, Soldiers’ and Peasants’ Deputies to the executive institutions of the Provisional Government. In this struggle the proletariat, uniting around itself the rising popular masses, ought to make its direct goal the conquest of power. Only a revolutionary workers’ government will have the will and ability, even during the preparation for a Constituent Assembly, to carry out a radical clean-up throughout the country, reconstruct the army from top to bottom, convert it into a revolutionary militia, and demonstrate in action to the lower ranks of the peasants that their salvation lies only in supporting a revolutionary workers’ regime. [64]

Next day Trotsky wrote about the impact of the continuing war on the revolution. The Provisional Government would go on with the war:

Now the interests of naked imperialism are inscribed on the governmental banners. ‘The Tsar’s government is no more’, the Guchkovs and Miliukovs are telling the people, ‘now you must pour out your blood for the all-national interest.’ But by the national interest the Russian imperialists mean the getting back of Poland, the conquest of Galicia, Constantinople, Armenia, Persia .

Should the German proletariat be given a right to think that all the Russian people and the main force of the Russian revolution, the proletariat, are behind the bourgeois government of Russia, it would be a terrific blow to the men of our trend of mind, the revolutionary socialists of Germany.

To turn the Russian proletariat into patriotic cannon fodder in the service of the Russian liberal bourgeoisie, wrote Trotsky, would mean ‘to throw the German working masses into the camp of the chauvinists and for a long time to halt the progress of a revolution in Germany.’ The Russian workers would oppose the continuation of the imperialist war, and this, together with the inability of the liberals to pursue the war successfully, would accelerate the process leading to a workers’ government. And such a government ‘will be a mortal blow to the Hohenzollerns because it will give a powerful stimulus to the revolutionary movement of the German proletariat and to the working masses of all other countries.’ [65]

Next day, 8 March, Trotsky outlined the immediate revolutionary potentialities of the alliance of the peasantry with the proletariat:

. the land question will play an immense role in uniting the proletarian cadres of the army with its peasant depths. ‘The land of the landlords, and not Constantinople!’ the soldier proletarian will say to the soldier peasant, explaining to him whom and what the imperialist war is serving. And upon the success of our agitation and struggle against the war – above all among the workers, and in the second place, among the peasant and soldier masses, will depend the answer to the question how soon the liberal imperialist government can be replaced by a revolutionary workers’ government resting directly upon the proletariat and the rural lower ranks adhering to it. [66]

But still Trotsky differed with the Bolsheviks regarding a split from the socialist parties. In New York Bukharin urged American socialists to split from the Socialist Party and form a new revolutionary party. Trotsky argued against him. Throughout January and February 1917 Trotsky and Bukharin argued in front of the American socialists. Alexandra Kollontai, a Bolshevik at the time, supported Bukharin in the dispute and wrote a letter to Lenin denouncing Trotsky. Lenin replied in equal measure. [67]

Returning to Russia

On 27 March Trotsky, his family, and a small group of other émigrés, sailed from New York on board the Norwegian ship Christianiafjord. On 3 April it dropped anchor at Halifax, Nova Scotia, and British naval police forcibly removed Trotsky and his family from the ship. They took Trotsky to a camp for German prisoners of war at Amherst.

There were 800 German prisoners at the camp. Trotsky addressed them, explaining to them the ideas of Zimmerwald, and told them of the fight Karl Liebknecht had been waging against the Kaiser and the war. The camp turned into a continuous mass meeting. On the insistence of the German officers the Commandant of the camp forbade Trotsky to address the prisoners 530 German prisoners of war signed a protest against the ban.

Trotsky writes in his autobiography:

When the news of my arrest found its way into the revolutionary Russian press, the British Embassy in Petrograd, which apparently was not expecting my early return, issued an official statement to the Petrograd press that the Russians who had been arrested in Canada were travelling ‘under a subsidy from the German Embassy to overthrow the Provisional Russian Government.’ This, at least, was plain speaking. The Pravda, which was published under Lenin’s direction, answered Buchanan [the British Ambassador] on 16 April, doubtless under Lenin’s own hand: ‘Can one even for a moment believe the trustworthiness of the statement that Trotsky, the chairman of the Soviet of Workers’ Delegates in St Petersburg in 1905 – a revolutionary who has sacrificed years to a disinterested service of the revolution – that this man had anything to do with a scheme subsidised by the German government? This is a patent, unheard-of, and malicious slander of a revolutionary.’ [68]

The British Ambassador was abashed by the hue and cry over the detention of Trotsky at Halifax. In his diary on 30 April 1917 Sir George Buchanan wrote:

I . reminded [Miliukov] that I had, early in April, informed him that Trotsky and other Russian political refugees were being detained at Halifax until the wishes of the Provisional Government with regard to them had been ascertained. On 8 April I had, at his request, asked my government to release them and to allow them to proceed on their journey. Two days later he had begged me to cancel this request and to say that the Provisional Government hoped they would be detained at Halifax until further information had been obtained about them. It was the Provisional Government, therefore, that was responsible for their further detention until 21 April, and I should have to make this fact public unless a statement was published to the effect that we had not refused visas to the passports of any Russian presented by the Russian Consular authorities. This he consented to do. [69]

In the end, the Soviets stepped in, and Miliukov had to bow. On 29 April Trotsky left Amherst, followed to the gates of the camp by cheering German prisoners and by the sound of the Internationale played by their orchestra. After a sea voyage of nearly three weeks, on 4 May Trotsky arrived in Finland. From there he travelled by train across Finland to Petrograd.


1*. Kautsky argued that after the war socialists would have to forgive and forget the actions of those in the movement who had supported the national defence of their countries. A general amnesty would be needed in order to re-establish the International.

2*. This reminds one of the letter Trotsky wrote to Chkheidze on 1 April 1913: ‘And what a senseless obsession is the wretched squabbling systematically provoked by the master squabbler Lenin . that professional exploiter of the backwardness of the Russian working-class movement . The whole edifice of Leninism at the present time is built upon lies and falsifications and bears within it the poisoned seed of its own disintegration. [57] Trotsky later confirmed the authenticity of this letter. [58]


1. Trotsky, The War and the International (Colombo 1971), pages vii-viii.

2. Trotsky, The War and the International, page x.

3. Trotsky, The War and the International, pages xii-xiii.

4. Trotsky, The War and the International, pages 74-5.

5. Lenin, Works, volume 21, page 18.

6. Lenin, Works, volume 21, page 276.

7. Lenin, Works, volume 21, page 280.

8. Lenin, Works, volume 21, page 278.

9. Lenin, Works, volume 22, page 140.

10. Lenin, Works, volume 41, page 375.

11. Lenin, Works, volume 36, page 380.

12. Lenin, Works, volume 36, page 176.

13. Lenin, Works, volume 21, page 292.

14. Trotsky, Voina i revoliutsiia, volume 1 (Moscow-Petrograd 1923), pages 242-4.

15. Nashe Slovo, 4 June 1915.

16. Nashe Slovo, 4 June 1915.

17. Trotsky, Stalin, page 168.

18. D.A. Baevsky, Ocherki po istorii oktiabrskoi revoliutsii, volume 1 (Moscow 1927), page 379.

19. A.G. Shliapnikov, Kanun semnadtsatogo goda (Moscow-Petrograd 1923), volume 1, page 29.

20. Sotsialdemokrat, number 51, 29 February 1916.

22. T. Dan in Martov, Geschichte der russischen Sozialdemokratie, page 283 Cliff, Lenin, volume 2, pages 22-3.

23. Lenin, Works, volume 21, page 166.

24. G.V. Plekhanov, Furthermore on the War, in Voina: Sbornki Statei (Paris 1915).

25. Quoted in A. Balabanoff, My Life as a Rebel (New York 1938), page 120.

26. Quoted in Ascher, The Mensheviks in the Russian Revolution, pages 83-8.

27. Quoted in Lenin, Works, volume 21, pages 120-3.

28. Quoted in Ascher, Pavel Axelrod, page 306.

29. Quoted in Ascher, Pavel Axelrod, page 307.

30. Trotsky, History, page 1156.

31. Trotsky, My Life, page 246.

32. See Golos, 25 and 27 October 1914.

33. Lenin, Works, volume 36, pages 300-1.

34. Pisma Akselroda i Martova, page 303.

35. Pisma Akselroda i Martova, page 305.

37. Nashe Slovo, 19 April 1916.

38. Internatsional i voina (Zurich), number 1, 1915.

39. Cliff, Lenin, volume 2, page 42.

40. Shliapnikov, On the Eve of 1917 (London 1982), page 74.

41. Trotsky, Voina i revoliutsiia, volume 2, pages 143-4.

42. Trotsky, Open Letter to the Editorial Board of Kommunist, in Nashe Slovo, 4 June 1915.

43. Trotsky, Voina i revoliutsiia, volume 2, pages 181-2.

44. Trotsky, My Life, page 249.

45. J. Braunthal, History of the International 1914-1943 (London 1967), volume 2, pages 47-8.

46. O.H. Gankin and H.H. Fisher, The Bolsheviks and the World War: The Origins of the Third International (Stanford 1940), page 322.

47. Gankin and Fisher, page 322.

48. Trotsky, The Work of the Conference, in Voina i revoliutsiia, volume 2, pages 45-6 and 49.

49. A. Rosmer, Le Mouvement Ouvrier pendant la Guerre (Paris 1959), volume 2, pages 83-6.

50. Nashe Slovo, 14 February 1915.

51. Nashe Slovo, 5 June 1915.

52. I.G. Temkin, Tsimmerval-Kintal (Moscow 1967), page 14.

53. Nashe Slovo, 29 March-1 April 1916.

54. Nashe Slovo, 18 and 19 January 1916.

55. Trotsky, Groupings in Russian Social Democracy: Theses (April 1916), in Voina i revoliutsiia, volume 2, pages 201-3.

56. L.J. Van Rossum, A Private Letter of Trotsky at the beginning of 1916, in International Review of Social History, 1969, volume 14, part 2.

57. Quoted in N. Popov, Outline History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Moscow-Leningrad 1934), volume 1, page 289.

58. Trotsky, The Challenge of the Left Opposition 1923-25, pages 262- 3.

59. Trotsky, Our Differences, in The Challenge of the Left Opposition 1923-25, pages 265-6.

60. Novy Mir, 14 January 1917.

61. Novy Mir, 13 March 1917 (27 February by the old calendar) Trotsky, Sochineniia, volume 3, book 1, page 3.

62. Novy Mir, 16 March 1917 (3 March by the old calendar) Trotsky, Sochineniia, volume 3, book 1, pages 6-7.

63. Novy Mir, 17 March 1917 (4 March by the old calendar) Trotsky, Sochineniia, volume 3, book 1, page 11.

64. Novy Mir, 19 March 1917 (6 March by the old calendar) Trotsky, Sochineniia, volume 3, book 1, page 13.

65. Novy Mir, 20 March 1917 (7 March by the old calendar) Trotsky, Sochineniia, volume 3, book 1, pages 15-16.

66. Novy Mir, 21 March 1917 (8 March by the old calendar) Trotsky, Sochineniia, volume 3, book 1, page 118.

67. See T. Draper, The Roots of American Communism (New York 1957), pages 80-3 Lenin, Works, volume 35, page 285.

68. Trotsky, My Life, pages 283-4.

69. G. Buchanan, My Mission to Russia (London 1923), page 121.

Primeiros anos Editar

Lev Grigorevitch Deitch nasceu em 25 de setembro de 1855 em Tulcin, Rússia, filho de um comerciante judeu. Após acolher-se ao marxismo, ocupou-se na distribuição de propaganda no Sul da Rússia. Isso provocou o seu arresto em 1875. Conseguiu fugir e nos seguintes anos tentou organizar uma insurreição camponesa.

Deitch aderiu à organização narodnik (populista) Terra e Liberdade (Земля и воля), cujo objetivo era a difusão do socialismo nas áreas rurais do país através da propaganda e, posteriormente, após a fratura desse partido, aderiu à organização também populista e socialista-federalista Repartição Negra (Чёрный передел). Finalmente, terminou ingressando na organização terrorista Vontade do Povo (Народная воля), embora a sua oposição às táticas violentas durante a época de militância em Terra e Liberdade e em Repartição Negra.

Em 1880, Deitch e outros membros da Repartição Negra como Georgi Plekhanov, Vera Zasulitch e Pavel Akselrod exiliaram-se em Genebra (Suíça), onde fundaram o grupo Emancipação do Trabalho (Освобождение труда) em 1883.

Em 1884, Deitch foi arrestado em Alemanha e extraditado à Rússia para a celebração de um juízo por um ato terrorista cometido em 1876. Foi condenado a 13 anos de trabalho forçado na Sibéria. Deich conseguiu fugir em 1901 e converteu-se num membro ativo do Partido Operário Social-Democrata Russo na clandestinidade, e uniu-se a Georgi Plekhanov, Pavel Akselrod, Lev Trotski, Irakli Tsereteli, Moisei Uritski, Noi Zhordania e Fedor Dan em apoio de Julius Martov na criação do grupo logo denominado menchevique no II Congresso do POSDR

Durante a Revolução de 1905 Deitch regressou à Rússia, onde foi arrestado e levado à Sibéria. Conseguiu fugir na viagem e exliou-se em Londres (Reino Unido).

Exílio Editar

Desde Longres, Deitch viajou a Nova Iorque (Estados Unidos), onde editou um jornal chamado Mundo Livre.

Regresso à Rússia Editar

Em 1917, Deitch regressou a Petrogrado e uniu-se a Plekhanov para editar o jornal Unidade (Единство). Editou também um volume de documentos relacionados com o grupo Emancipação do Trabalho. Deitch morreu em 5 de agosto de 1941.

Angel of Vengeance : The Girl Who Shot the Governor of St. Petersburg and Sparked the Age of Assassination

In the Russian winter of 1878 a shy, aristocratic young woman named Vera Zasulich walked into the office of the governor of St. Petersburg, pulled a revolver from underneath her shawl, and shot General Fedor Trepov point blank. "Revenge!," she cried, for the governor's brutal treatment of a political prisoner. Her trial for murder later that year became Russia's "trial of the century," closely followed by people all across Europe and America. On the day of the trial, huge crowds packed the courtroom. The cream of Russian society, attired in the finery of the day, arrived to witness the theatrical testimony and deliberations in the case of the young angel of vengeance. After the trial, Vera became a celebrated martyr for all social classes in Russia and became the public face of a burgeoning revolutionary fervor. Dostoyevsky (who attended the trial), Turgenev, Engels, and even Oscar Wilde all wrote about her extraordinary case. Her astonishing acquittal was celebrated across Europe, crowds filled the streets and the decision marked the changing face of Russia. After fleeing to Switzerland, Vera Zasulich became Russia's most famous "terroristka," inspiring a whole generation of Russian and European revolutionaries to embrace violence and martyrdom. Her influence led to a series of acts that collectively became part of "the age of assassinations." In the now-forgotten story of Russia's most notorious terrorist, Ana Siljak captures Vera's extraordinary life story--from privileged child of nobility to revolutionary conspirator, from assassin to martyr to socialist icon and saint-- while colorfully evoking the drama of one of the world's most closely watched trials and a Russia where political celebrities held sway.

Today in Norway: A roundup of the latest news on Tuesday

Cyclist taken to hospital on last leg of world record attempt

A cyclist has been taken to hospital after falling off his bike, attempting to break the world record for the quickest time to cycle from Lindesnes in southern Norway to the North Cape in the north.

Øystein Dahl was less than 20 kilometres from the finish line when he fell from his bike and had to be taken to hospital by air ambulance.

Dahl fell off his bike after hitting a pothole in a poorly lit tunnel.

He was expected to smash the previous record, which he previously set, by four days. The world record attempt was being made to raise money for charity. Dahl had set the goal of raising 2.4 million kroner for the Childhood Cancer Association.

Two questioned by police after stabbing in Bergen

Police have questioned two people after a man was stabbed in Bergen, West Norway, yesterday.

The victim is receiving treatment at Haukeland Hospital. The extent of their injuries is currently unknown.

All of those involved in the incident were men over 50.

Foreign Minister says Norway is not obliged to take back IS fighters

Norway’s foreign minister, Ine Eriksen Søreide, has said that Norway is not obliged to bring home Norwegian IS fighters and their children following a call from the US for its allies to repatriate IS fighters.

In January last year, the government decided to bring an IS-affiliated woman back from Syria and later sentenced her to three and a half years in prison for her participation in the group.

The participation of the woman led to FRP leaving the government. The women and her children were brought home due to her son suffering from a serious illness.

193 new Covid cases

On Monday, 193 new coronavirus cases were recorded in Norway. This is nine cases more than the seven-day average of 184.

In Oslo, 23 new Covid-29 infections were registered. This is six less than the seven-day average for the Norwegian capital.

The R-number or reproduction rate in Norway is currently 0.7. This means that every ten people that are infected will, on average, only infect another seven people, indicating that the infection level is declining.

Total number of reported Covid-19 cases in Norway. Source: NIPH


Tres la Revolución de Febreru, parte de los socialistes que caltuvieren una postura cercana a los internacionalistes de la Conferencia de Zimmerwald convertir en defensistas, conocíos como «defensistas revolucionarios». [2] Yá dende l'empiezu de la guerra, l'actitú frente a la guerra estremara a los socialistes rusos, cuntándose ente ellos defensistas «puros», en contraposición a los posteriores «defensistas revolucionarios». [3]

Los defensistas rusos abogaben pola firma d'una paz internacional, basada nos principios socialistes de la Segunda Internacional, pero oponer a la retirada unillateral de Rusia de los combates, considerándolo perxudicial pa los intereses nacionales rusos. [4] Trataron de conxugar lo que consideraben intereses de la nación colos sos oxetivos socialistes. [4] Un voceru destacáu del llamáu "defensismu revolucionariu" foi'l dirixente menchevique Irakli Tsereteli. La so postura mientres la revolución de 1917 abogaba por caltener el frente contra'l alemanes de cara procurar un alcuerdu de paz ensin anexones nin indemnizaciones, que dexara, coles mesmes, el sostenimientu del procesu revolucionariu abiertu en Rusia.

Watch the video: Interview with 911 Enable (July 2022).


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