Saturday, September 24, 2011

My meetings with Trotsky. Analysis of Trotsky's personalit​y and his erroneous conception of proletaria​n revolution.



About his first wife Alexandra Lvovna Bronshtain. The origin of
absolutely wrong theory of proletarian revolution


BOOK 3 p.134 - 153

Since the year 1919 fate many times brought us together with L. D. Trotsky in various, sometimes very critical situations: in the fronts of Civil war, at his numerous meetings in front of great masses of people and in small lecture-halls, in Moscow Revvoensoviet hospital, in Glavcontsesscom, in private apartments and even at his meeting with his first wife A.L. Bronshtain, his daughters and grandchildren, living in Leningrad. In the book 1 of my memoirs I told in detail of my prolonged meetings with L.D. Trotsky. In this chapter of the book 3 I gave an account of the facts that help, to my mind, to restore the personality of Trotsky, his complicated, contradictory, brilliant, versatilly talented, courageous and spiritually strong person. I also tried to explain totally contradictory to the character and believes of Trotsky his behavior and statements in the last years of his life in the USSR: passiveness, indecision, contradictory and illogical behavior.
During years of Soviet power enormous heaps of lies were devised about what was going on in Russia/USSR in the period of the first thirty years of the XX-th century, and especially about Trotsky. Already in the middle of the 20-th years it was very difficult, and about 1928 impossible to publish any material about Trotsky without check up and approval of Central Committee of the Party.
For example, in the year 1928 after Trotsky’s arrest and exile to Alma-Ata I wrote a big article “The legend of Trotsky”. However I tried, it was impossible to publish it, though as a manuscript it was rather widely distributed in Moscow, Leningrad and Ivanovo-Voznesensk. In the article I stated my own point of view on so-called “trotskism”, I tried to show that “trotskism’ was not a principally new political trend, and that Trotsky represented position of traditional social democracy. At the same time I expressed my opinion of the dirty and totally false campaign, carried out against Trotsky, which was induced by the fear of the Party ruling clique of his great popularity in the Party, army and in the midst of the most qualified workers. Then were still alive those, who very well remembered Trotsky’s activity in the revolution of 1905, of his activity in 1917 as the chairman of Petrograd Soviet. There were legends of his decisive activity in October 1917 and during Civil War. And nobody knew, what “the true leninists” Stalin, Zinoviev, Kamenev were busy with in those fiery, strained days. Already after several years, when I summarized my impressions of meetings with Trotsky and analyzed his actions, numerous speeches and articles of those old years, I came to a conclusion, that all that was written about him did not express the profound essence of his personality. We, his contemporaries, perceived him in absolutely another way, than the following generations, we saw quite another meaning in his words and actions, than the historians and commentators of the following years.
The secret agreement of the Central Committee members against Trotsky arose already in 1921. It was demonstrated by Zinoviev’s speech at X-th Party congress, when he used for the first time the labels “trotskism” and “trotskists”.
I came across with the preparation of the open campaign against Trotsky at the beginning of 1923 when I was a student of the Institute of Red Professorship {IRP). At that time so-called “Bukharin school” in IRP – Slepkov, Astrov, Ugarov, Maretsky brothers – intensively collected “historical material” for 1910-1916 of the menshevik’s past of Trotsky and of his principal disagreement with Lenin. In conversations of the group hints to nationality of Trotsky began to creep, and consequently doubts of his ability to express “the spirit of Russian people” were expressed. It was known, that all the participants of “Bukharin school” were members of youth monarchy organizations before October 1917, but in 1923 these political chameleons were already with “loyal Leninists”. Attacks on Trotsky were planned beforehand and were conducted on wide front both in the Central Committee and in local organizations of the Party. Everywhere executive workers were changed in the Party and State staff, new personnel was selected mainly on the criterion of the hostility to Trotsky. Thus any self-seekers and rascals managed to creep on the high posts. They took the place of intellectual, talented and initiative people. Stalin – the secret manager of the whole campaign against Trotsky was actually supported with this numerous army of newcomers – dull, obedient, unprincipled Party bureaucracy.
10 years passed since October upheaval, and in the ruling party and state already formed all the necessary conditions for the Central Committee of the Party to begin an open struggle against Trotsky and his supporters. In this connection it will be proper to mention an interesting observation of German philosopher Gegel.. In his brilliant to my mind work “Philosophy of History” he noted the following historical phenomenon: when the historical aim is gained, the persons, that were striving for it, fall away like unnecessary dry seed-coat. These persons either die early, like Alexander Makedonsky, or are killed, like Julius Caesar, or are exiled to an island, for instance, Saint Helen, like Napoleon. This general conclusion by Gegel can be practically without reserve attribute to what was going on at the end of twenties in the USSR. The aim, to which the Bolsheviks were striving, - the capture and consolidation of power was gained. It has to be noted, that yet in 1918 Martov, one of the mensheviks’ leaders, foretold, that after gaining power Bolsheviks would start “to devour one another” and this inevitably would result in dictatorship of a small group of “leaders” and elimination of democracy.
Now I will tell about the first wife of Trotsky Alexandra Lvovna Bronshtain (Al.L.}
We got acquainted in 1925, when coming to Leningrad from Moscow we settled in the former hotel Astoria, one side of which overlooked Isaaky square. At that time this former hotel was called House of Leningrad Soviet. Al.L., her sister, grandchildren Lev and Volia occupied three rooms. Sometimes two daughters of Al.L. and Trotsky appeared there. Alexandra L. was an interesting, charming, whole-hearted, very delicate and truly noble person. Her appearance was pleasing, but not gaudy, figure a little plump, her face almost round without cosmetics, middle height, dark and partly grizzled hair. Her clothes were simple and neat. Her manner was calm and dignified, when she was speaking her always sad eyes were looking attentively at the interlocutor. She loved very much little children, when she saw them, a very kind smile appeared on her face.
Al.L. was born in the Ukraine, in the town of Nikolaev. While studying at secondary school, she took a great interest in social problems, practiced self-education, participated in meetings and circles. She met Lev Bronshtain in one of the meetings. When social-democratic groups were defeated in Nikolaev, Al.L. was arrested, spent several months in jail and was sentenced to exile to Siberia together with L. Bronshtain. On the way to exile they registered their marriage in Moscow deportation jail. Two daughters were born in exile. L.D. Bronshtain escaped abroad, he got a passport on name L.D. Trotsky from underground workers.
After her return from exile A.L. met with Trotsky several times abroad, but then he already had another family. My wife and Al.L. were great friends. When we had a free time, the three of us spoke sincerely of everything: of the history of socialist movement, which Al.L. knew very well, of music, literature and education of children.
Sometimes our conversations concerned Trotsky. Al.L. spoke of him with great respect, rendering him his due, acknowledged his knowledge, wide erudition, great talent as a journalist-publicist, outstanding talent of organizer and public speaker.
Sometimes she regretted that Trotsky, who sharply broke up with Lenin in 1910-12 years, did not get close with Plekhanov and Martov, with whom he had to her opinion a lot in common. Actually Al.L. regarded G.V. Plekhanov with reverence. Considering relationship between Trotsky and Lenin, A.L. believed that Lenin till 1917 was unfriendly with Trotsky and sometimes openly hostile and she could hardly understand why after the year 1917 they came to rather confidential relations. In fact, it was known, that at that time Lenin asked Trotsky’s support in many crucial, significant cases.
When I returned to Leningrad from exile in 1927 I told my wife and Al.L. of my adventures for the last time: meeting and conversation with Smilga , conversation with Trotsky in Glavcontsesscom, visit to the Control Commission of Party Central Committee, mission {a regular exile} to the Ural and exclusion from Party in Kungur. Al.L. utterly approved my behavior in Central Committee and my exclusion from Party. I remember her phrase: “People absolutely devoid of principles and any cultural and moral traditions and even often illiterate came to the Party machinery on all levels. Many of them are brutal in their nature.” Al.L being a very delicate person, over sensitively reacted to brutality.
Discussing my conversation with Trotsky in Glavcontsesscom Al.L adviced me to try to meet him again and to make it more clear about two most important to her opinion points.
- What makes Trotsky to be indecisive as before, whereas Stalin gang becomes more and more insolent?
- What is his estimation of the feasible progress of the situation in the Party and in the country, whether he considers it possible establishment of democratic methods of ruling in the Party?
It may seem strange, but soon I met Trotsky once more, and discussed situation with
him, including Al.L.’s questions. The meeting took place at the end of 1927. Then the XY-th Congress of Communist party had just finished. It affirmed the decision of plenum of excluding from the Party of Trotsky, Zinoviev, Kamenev, Rakovsky, Smilga, Muralov, Pyatakov, Radek and many others, mainly old Bolsheviks, joining to united opposition. There was a phrase going by in Moscow: “Moisey took out Jews from Egypt, and Stalin did from the Central Committee”. Anti-Semites approved this. The formal reason for exclusion of the old Bolsheviks was the following accusation: sliding to menshevism, creation of the opposition and illegal organizations with the aim of division of the Party. The XY-th congress was a special, a most important stage in the Stalin’s struggle for unlimited power.
Practically, all those, who presented the backbone of the Bolsheviks before February revolution and played a dominant role both in October 1917 and in the period of Civil war, were expelled from the Party. Three groups of delegates clearly represented themselves at this congress: Stalin gang, which began imperceptibly build itself yet from the time of Civil war, oppositionist-capitulators group and as usual a numerous group of hesitating. Neither of those expressed interests of any class or social layer of the main mass of the people. The struggle for power was going on.
At the eve of new 1928 year my wife and I invited Al.L. to our apartment and I spoke in detail of my latter meeting with Trotsky. Al.L. noted that actually the life crossed out the main principal aim of Trotsky for permanent revolution, when the working class of the West would support Russian revolution. It was very hard for Trotsky to realize this fact, he gave too much force to revolutionary movement.
After this meeting and till my arrest in the autumn of 1928 I rarely saw Al.L. On irony of fate close friends of Trotsky I.N. Smirnov and S. Mrachkovsky asked me to visit several large cities in the central Russia, the Ural and Caucasus with the purpose to convince Trotsky’s supporters to dismiss their organizations. It was hard to me to accept this offer, I disliked it very much. Only respect for these people made me to go.
In autumn of 1928 I was arrested, imprisoned in Lubyanka and Butyrka and exiled to Siberia. At this time we could realize rare decency of Al.L. In summer her younger daughter Nina who shared her father’s ideas, died, the elder daughter Zina was seriously ill. At this time Al.L. was helping my family, always expressed hope on my prompt return from exile. Al.L. even helped to organize my wife’s and our two years old son’s a trip to Siberian village Suerskoe to see me.
In the year 1930 I was released from exile ahead of time upon application by Kirov and returned to Leningrad. Again we often met Al.L. By this time she was notably weakened: her daughters’ death effected her very much, the senior daughter died soon after the junior. Though Al.L. continued working in the education department and taught historical materialism at the University, nothing left from her former optimism. Raising up of grandchildren was her only stimulus for life. Little Lev had excellent memory and was more serious than children of his age. He knew a lot of his grand- father, was proud of him, showed album with Trotsky’s photos beginning from secondary school age. Al.L. was very pessimistic about her grandchildren’s future, as well as about general situation in the country.
Last time I saw Al.L. at the end of December 1934 in the corridor of Leningrad House of imprisonment before trial. Kirov was murdered recently, and in Leningrad people were arrested in the unprecedented mass scale. The cells of the House were over-crowded, newcomers were interrogated in a large corridor. I was sitting at one of the numerous little tables in front of a very young interrogator who just began to ask me. Suddenly I saw Al.L., she was led into the corridor, she also noticed me and nodded her head. I rose abruptly from my chair and shouted: “Dina and I were arrested last night, now we are being interrogated…” Immediately three operative workers ran to me and offered to follow them, one of them pushed me in the back. I turned around and pushed him off with force. Three others ran to me, caught me by the arms and in a minute pushed me into a stone bag – punishment cell. I never saw Al.L again..
In Vorkuta concentration camp I heard that when she finished her term in the concentration camp she was exiled somewhere. Many years later, when my jail-concentration camp history was finished and I returned to my family, my wife and I very often recollected Al.L. and our very interesting conversations with her. The image of this noblest woman never waned in the years that passed.
Now I will try to explain basing on my personal impressions from meetings with Trotsky, his friends’ stories, my opinions of his speeches, his articles of those old years and his actions, his passive behavior in the period of 1924-1927 years, utterly not becoming with his personality. Political storms were seething around, extremely acute struggle inside the Party was going on, but Trotsky, who was a fighter by nature, looked at the situation as if he had a detached view. Actually, he was in that period very popular in the Party, among people and especially in the army. In this connection I expounded in the second book of my memoirs what V.M. Smirnov told me, when we were together in exile in the village Suerskoe. In the year 1926 V.M. Smirnov was present at the meeting of Trotsky and a group of military men headed by the chief of Moscow military garrison N.I. Muralov. This group offered to arrest Stalin and all those close to him in the Central Committee and OGPU. Reaction of Trotsky was unexpected for the group. He did not support the military men, but was again and again convincing them to decline from violence. V.M. Smirnov was acquainted with Trotsky for many years since emigration period, knew him as a very resolute and energetic person. At that meeting in 1926 he saw quite another person: irresolute, inherently broke down and clearly reticent. Life totally cancelled his ideas on the events going on after the monarchy fall in Russa.
I knew people that rightly enough forecasted the post-revolution situation in Russia. These people weren’t political figures, often had not much knowledge, moreover they did not practiced futurology. Whereas Trotsky, a greatest politic of his time, talented man, who was capable to think sensibly in various situations, failed in estimation even of approximate progress of events after February revolution. I tried to understand the logic of his thoughts and actions, the logic of his conception of the revolution and to realize if only a little the basis of this obviously erroneous conception. I was aware that it was a very difficult task, that it was for historians to fulfill it, but still probably the opinion of one of his contemporaries, who met him in many different circumstances, would be interesting for someone. By the way, it should be taken in consideration that mountains of lies were piled around this man.
From his young years Trotsky was filled with uncompromising protest against social injustice and complete lack of rights in Russian empire. Then Marxist ideas quickly spread about the whole world. But it is necessary to discern two parts in Marxism, which seem to be closely connected. The first and the chief is political economy of capitalism, set forth in the main Marx’s work “Capital”. Economists in the whole world consider “Capital” one of the most fundamental and authoritative studies in economy. All those, who seriously studied “Capital”, were charmed with the logic, depth, systematic character, encyclopedic width of this really titanic work.
The second, political part of Marxism is dedicated to the theory of proletariat dictatorship. Marx, sitting in the British Museum library, during many years studied contradictions of the capitalism on the example of advanced, industrially developed England with formed long ago high-qualified, politically literate working class. As a result he came to a conclusion that proletariat dictatorship would solve all the social contradictions. Other possible ways of solving the eternal problems of the mankind Marxism unfoundedly did not appreciate.
The second part of Marxism relates to prognostic sphere, which is always a risky business, where probability of mistake is great. I guess that the second part is artificially drawn to the first one with the aim to give completeness to the whole theory. Essentially, the proletariat dictatorship according to Marx is one of the possible variants of solving contradictions in the capitalist society. The second part of Marxism found ardent supporters in the very limited circle of politicians, sociologists, historians, generally advocates of radical social and state reforms. So it is not surprising that for Trotsky, who was very much inclined to social radicalism, namely the second part of Marxism became an extraordinary revelation, a kind of Bible of the revolution. This fact prevented him to get a wider understanding of the social processes, in which psychology of people, historical traditions and customs, religion, moral and other features of human spirit play a significant role. Infinitely worshiping Marxism, Trotsky rarely exceeded the bounds of political, economical and social aspects and hence made the basis of his theoretical conceptions very narrow. He obviously underestimated the significance of philosophy and history. How could he develop the conception of the revolution in such a country, as Russia without being acquainted with a huge scientific historic material by V.S. Kluchevsky or to write of conquer of power without reading, for instance, “Political treatise” by B. Spinosa?
I had another question: Was it possible to transfer general views of revolution on the country, which by its origin and historical development for centuries was “out of general rules of historical life?” And one more question: how Trotsky conceived ordinary Russian citizen, whom he supposed to make happy after revolution, what were his psychology, inclinations, traditions, relation to religion and to other nations, i.e. all that, which presents spiritual sphere of ordinary person’s life? Obviously, if this person is deprived of possibility to follow the habits and rites of his ancestors, he suffers of very hard situation, when all the past has to be forgotten and he has to begin to live in a new way, if he has enough will and energy.
Social revolution from the Trotsky’s point of view (as well as Lenin’s) had to break all the past. Trotsky once used an expression: “What is lost in the tradition, is gained in the range of revolutionary movement.” It is difficult to understand, in which way the range of revolutionary movement can substitute traditions of centuries? At the same time the words by L. Tolstoy are understandable: “Many simple people have true faith, which they need, it gives them meaning and possibility of life.”
I think that some narrowness of Trotsky’s initial position, squeezed into Marxism bounds, was one of the most significant reasons of Trotsky’s errors both in the analysis of the current events and in the forecasts for future.
Revolution in Russia led to results, contrary to those Trotsky counted on. World socialist revolution proved to be Utopia. It can be said that this was the consequence of the most serious mistake in methodology that was the origin of principally wrong Trotsky’s approach to the analysis of social processes going on in the world. Some of his mistakes can be explained by his long absence from Russian reality and that he could not realize what was going on among people masses.
Actually, at the beginning of new century young Trotsky was sent to tsarist jail, sentenced to exile to Siberia, wherefrom he soon escaped abroad. He returned to Russia for a short time, participated actively in the revolution of 1905, and approximately in 1906 he already presented his conception of socialist revolution in Russia based on proletariat dictatorship with the following transfer of the revolution process into European countries. Afterwards he emigrated again. Thus Trotsky, who considered Russian proletariat the main motive force of the revolution, did not clearly conceive the structure and the general level of Russian proletariat, its essential distinction from European working class, practically, English working class, that Marx meant, speaking of the leading role of proletariat in contemporary society.
It should be mentioned that two essential peculiarities were characteristic of Russian proletariat of pre-revolutionary period. First, the number of the most qualified, politically competent, advanced part of the working class was very small. Secondly, during the First World War the structure of the working class changed considerably. Many peasants, running away from the villages to escape a call to military service, came to factories. At that time I was working at Bryansk works in Ekaterinoslav and saw how the new workers, keeping close relationship with the village, were different from experienced hereditary workers. By the way, the majority of workers in Ekaterinoslav, the largest industrial center, supported socialist-revolutionaries, but not bolsheviks.
Now, what I think of the theory of permanent revolution that according to Trotsky’s conception was a necessary condition both when the bourgeois-democratic revolution transferred into socialist one and when it transferred from national bounds to world scale. It did not matter, in which country the revolution would take place earlier: in advanced or in a backward one.
It was supposed that the revolution process would spread from Russia to Europe, and more progressive and organized working class of Europe would be at the head of “world-wide revolution’. But at this point a question arises: in which way and in which stage Russian revolution could be attractive to European countries? It is not necessary to speak of Civil war period. In the years 1923-25 I was serving my first administrative exile in Ivanovo-Voznesensk, the largest textile industry center. Three years passed after Civil war. The condition of workers, especially working women, was terrible: the hardest housing conditions, lack of rights for workers and oppression from the administration, very bad food supply, hard working conditions. At my numerous meetings with workers they sharply criticized local party leaders, they told that party bureaucrats behaved much worse, than former tsarist officials. At the same time Trotsky continued to speak of “permanent revolution”, while he undoubtedly knew what was going on at mills and factories. What was it, he was unwilling to consider real life or was afraid to confess first of all to himself of the utmost ruin of his concepts and program?
I was asking myself another question: why Trotsky thought that Bolshevik party was the advanced part of proletariat and was expressing its interests? After the Bolsheviks gained the power very soon the true aims of the ruling party became evident. It was not by chance that the first opposition in the Party was the Working opposition that expressed the interests of the most advanced part of proletariat which had been the main force of October upheaval.
Already in the year 1922 the principal disagreements between the opposition and Central Committee of the Party became evident. When Bolsheviks came to power, there was no dictatorship of proletariat, but dictatorship of the Central Committee over the people, including proletariat. It was inevitable. The structure and all the activity of Bolshevik party from the moment of its organization was based on the most rigid centralization and authoritarism.
How was it possible that Trotsky did not understand what was going on? I should note that I always considered Trotsky, as I do now, when I write this book, the greatest politician of XX-th century and versatilly talented person, possessing many qualities of people’s leader: will, energy, clearness of purpose, clearness and depth of analysis of any most complicated situation, rare oratory ability and capacity to impress huge people masses. Many people spoke of his talent as a journalist, for instance, the well-known English writer and play-writer Bernard Shaw called him “the king of pamphleteers”. A.V. Lunacharsky called Trotsky a man of great talent and admired his literary-critical articles. There were many estimations of this kind. Naturally, I asked a question: how could it be that this very talented person, a man of great experience in politics could not foresee the consequences of revolution in such a country, as Russia. Partly I presented my opinion above: This was in some degree the consequence of methodologic mistake – the limitation of his concept by Marxism bounds and insufficient knowledge of the events and social processes, proceeding in Russia during first twenty yeas of the XX-th century.
I think one more point was important. I will take the risk to set forth my probably somewhat unexpected opinion.
In spite of all Trotsky’s talents he was by mentality a brilliant tactician, but in no way strategist. He liked to cite Bonapart’s words: “First we have to begin fighting and after that look out.” Trotsky could extraordinary quickly analyze circumstances and any most complicated situation, to choose the main, generally right line of action and to convince people in the necessity to support his decision. All that and his extraordinary energy, clearness of purpose, composure and courage helped him to gain success in the most complicated situations. Still these qualities are insufficient for the right forecast of the development of political, economical and social processes for long perspective, especially in the world range. At this point I again found the answer in works of great philosopher, citizen of Holland B. Spinosa. He already in the XY11-th century came to a conclusion that the highest form of knowledge was intuition, in considerable degree a natural property, developing depending on many factors and conditions. People capable of highly developed intuitive thinking can more or less correctly estimate general trends of the social processes development for a long prospect. Trotsky did not possess this gift. To my mind, this was also one of essential reasons of his erroneous estimation of possible consequences of the revolution.
After October upheaval Trotsky rather quickly understood what was going on, though for the next several years he remained in the powerful stream of events that overwhelmed Russia.
I guess that already in the years 1923-1924 Trotsky realized his very serious mistake.
Everything that he was actively fighting for during all his conscious life proved to be Utopia. So-called revolution of proletariat (indeed the capture of power by a small group of professional revolutionaries) turned to be dictatorship of a small group of the Party with all the signs of transfer to a personal dictatorship.
Moreover, in one of latter conversations with me he told that the dictatorship of one party would finally lead to fascism, which in the definite historical conditions may be the most acceptable form of social life not only for Russia, but also for some European countries. This somewhat belated understanding was, of course, a great personal tragedy for Trotsky.
I think this was the origin of his unusual behavior in the period of 1924-1927 years: passivity, indecision, discrepancy of statements and unwillingness to use force against Stalin gang. His arguments lost his usual logic and force of convincing. It seemed he did not believe himself in what he called for, but could not acknowledge it even to himself, as so many years and forces were given to struggle. Still Trotsky continued, though rather listlessly, to call his supporters to stay in the ruling party, spoke of the presence of living forces in Party and of the future, already not near, rather far world revolution.
Many years later after imprisonment in jails and concentration camps I thought a lot of my life and of my generation’s life and came to a conclusion that the hardest cataclysms shaking Russia at the XX-th century were natural. All that had to occur early or late.
Several generations of young people in Russia, feeling very strong moral enthusiasm unselfishly fought against absence of civil rights, most acute social injustice, extreme backwardness, infinite inertness and falsity, corruption and tyranny of the State power.
This struggle sometimes accepted liberal forms (going to enlighten people and propagandize socialist ideas), sometimes extremely radical: (terror, revolution).
At the XX-th century, as at all times, the most part of those who struggled for better life, including Trotsky, sincerely believed in possibility of just democratic society in Russia. Thousands of young people, pure and noble romantics, deeply believing in the final triumph of justice, devoted their lives to struggle for better future of people. Almost all of them laid down their lives either in the fields of Civil war or under the knife of Bolshevist guillotine. Most of them could not foresee in those bygone years what would be the end of their struggle in such country, as Russia.
The general misfortune of all the generations of fighters for the better future of Russia was from one side the naïve idea of “people’s wisdom”, from the other side – absence of understanding of deep, fundamental peculiarities of this people based on the conditions of origin and historic development of Russian state. It is striking that in the XX-th century the peoples populated Russian empire kept many ancient traditions, morals, customs, prejudicies, superstitions and notions of the paganism epoch. Russian people, as well as 300 years ago in the reign of the first tsar of Romanov dynasty, was deeply convinced in the special destination of Orthodox Church and divine origin of tsarist power, was hostile to representatives of other religions and alien persons (foreigners and others).
It is a complicated contradiction: in spite of revolts, popular uprisings and revolutions that periodically shook Russia, the most part of people masses in town and in village possesses slavish psychology and doesn’t accept democratic ideals in spite of relatively high education level of some layers of the society - they have low general cultural level and are very ignorant. It was not at all by chance that reactionary tsarist regime was followed by a most cruel dictatorship, savage, globally non-humane regime having no analogues in history. This regime finally destroyed people’s strength, its spirit, the sense of self-respect. Thus the people not only submitted meekly, but began to consider the savage dictator almost God-like man, a new tsar-father.
Such a paradox. What told V.V. Shulgin, one of the most reactionary advocates of Russian monarchy, a typical chauvinist: “Under the guidance of Stalin Russia became a world empire, Stalin achieved object that many generations of Russians strived for. That’s a pity that he is not a real tsar, he possesses all the necessary qualities… Russian people has almost religious necessity to be ruled by tsar-father, to whom it could trust”. Shulgin said this in the middle of XX-th century, when he returned to Russia after long emigration and realized that he struggled with Soviet power in vain. Bolsheviks fulfilled the cherished dream of the Russian monarchists. Nobody of them were never confused what was the price and form of this achievement. Somebody noted: the leaders as a rule correspond to the Messian expectations of the people masses.
Probably, each person, trying to comprehend the past and what is going on at present, has his individual approach in estimation of the events. Trotsky, for instance, actually always made conclusions from the class positions, from Marxist approach. In the same way he considered the proceeding of historical process, its periods, especially the period of rapid development of revolutionary movement in Russia from the beginning of the XX-th century. I in my memoirs approach this period from the other side. After all that I survived I began to pay attention first to the scale of senseless perishing of people at one or other period. From the first years of XX-th century the giant slaughter-house began to act, wherein at the beginning thousands, later millions of people were killed. It is difficult to say when the first step was made. As to me, already in the year 1905 being a little boy I became a witness of a bloody Pogrom of Jews in Alexandrovsk (now Zaporozhye), this slaughter-house already worked. Russian-Japan war, revolution of 1905 – the scale of people perishing increased.
In the year 1914 Russia joined in the First World war: the slaughter-house was in full swing, next was February revolution of 1917, Civil war, destruction of the country, mass hunger, jails, concentration camps, the Second World war, again jails and concentration camps. Only in the years 1954-55 the scale of mass destruction of people began to shorten, millions were set free from jails and concentration camps, I was released before the appointed time of imprisonment, I did not finish my term, came out 8 years earlier the appointed term by the last sentence. In 1952 concentration camp court sentenced me to the next term – ten years of concentration camp and one year of the camp jail. In the charge I was incriminated anti-Soviet activity, Zionism and trotskism. It is known that the general character of charges on every stage of struggle against “enemies” was determined by Stalin personally. It seems, in 1952 not long before the death of Kremlin maniac the spirit of Trotsky gave him no rest. I think, Stalin saw in Trotsky his absolute antipode, contrary to him in everything.
To my mind, L.D. Trotsky was “the mirror of Russian revolution”. On the basis of his fate – of a brilliant, complicated, talented, contradictory, courageous person the development of revolutionary movement in Russia with its upsurges and recessions, with a rapid growth in the years 1915-1916, with a big but short-termed victory in February 1917 and crushing tragic catastrophe in October of the same year can be followed. The capture of the power by Bolsheviks was a fatal catastrophe both for Russia and for Trotsky, in spite of the fact that he more than anybody promoted the success of October armed revolt and victories in the Civil war that consolidated new power.
It is very strange that critics of Bolshevism unite Lenin and Trotsky basing on their short-termed alliance, ignoring the fact that they were in many points utterly different. They came to October 1917 by different ways. From the year 1903 when RSDRP split into two fractions, Mensheviks and Bolsheviks with Lenin at the head, Trotsky actively opposed Lenin for many years.
It was evident that Lenin and Trotsky absolutely differently treated Stalin. Trotsky understood very well what kind of person Stalin was. At the time of Civil war Trotsky recommended to prosecute Stalin for his corrupting activity in the Red army, verging with crime. Trotsky offered to prosecute him in Revtribunal, but Lenin defended and fenced him off.
It is worth while to think why Stalin till the end of his days so severely, pathologically continued to hate Trotsky. Even after Stalin oprichniks killed Trotsky enormous efforts were made to utterly remove from people’s memory everything of his revolutionary activity, his role in October 1917 and Civil war. At the same time merits of Lenin were excessively exaggerated, absolutely deceitful legends about “revolutionary” Stalin were invented. I underline once more that for years of Soviet power a huge army of historians, politologues, writers and other falsificators rewrote the history of revolutionary movement in Russia and especially the history of February revolution and armed revolt in October 1917, Civil war, inner-Party struggle. As a result, today in the USSR very few people know anything of L.D. Trotsky and if they know, they think he was only a politician.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

My meetings with Trotsky. Analysis of Trotsky's personalit​y and his erroneous conception of proletaria​n revolution.

Extract from “Turns of Destiny and Tyranny” , Book 1, chapter 5, p.498-502, 506-514

I entered Glavcontsesscom and reported Trotsky’s secretary of my coming. I came exactly at the time settled before. When I entered into Trotsky’s study I saw a man sitting at the table, who was wearing a white-snow suit. His grayish-green unwinking eyes looked at me through pince-nez glasses. What was striking in his face was a sharp vertical line on the lower lip. The face seemed a little puffy. Trotsky was holding in his hand a red paper case resembling very much the case with so-called “Lenin’s will”, which I read in 1924, when Ivanovo-Voznesensk regional secretary Simeon Zorin gave it to me in his office. Trotsky invited me to sit closer to his desk, switched on a fan, standing on his desk, and said: “The fan is meant not only for cooling the air, but for making noise because of the immense curiosity of the informants”. I was astonished: I could hardly imagine that in 1927 there was organized constant hearing of conversations of many Central Committee members.
I began my report of the situation in Leningrad with Zinoviev’s speech at the meeting of Putilov works, mentioning the funny position, in which the former Komintern chairman and the closest Lenin’s supporter got into. I mentioned the telegram from Central Committee sent to Zinoviev directly to Putilov Works. I added: “Zinoviev in Putilov works was as frightened, as before October”.
Trotsky smiled, he evidently thought of his “October Lessons”. Then he remarked: “Grigory Evseevitch now understands well his fatal mistake, when he in the year 1924 immediately after Vladimir Ilyich’s death invented his legend about trotskizm and menshevist wing in the Party.
I decided to make it more exact: “No, Lev Davydovich, not only he made mistakes, all the members of Politbureau made mistakes, including you, when in due time you could not fire Stalin from the General Secretary post.”
Further I tried to state my own opinion of Zinoviev’s and Kamenev’s “mistake” before October. In a quiet manner I said that Zinoviev’s and Kamenev’s mistakes, using Lenin’s words, “were not casual”. Trotsky stopped, looked at me with his unwinking eyes and asked:
“What does it mean?”
I resolutely blurted out:
“It means, Lev Davydovich, that Russia was not ready for social revolution in 1917.”
Trotsky was stunned with my answer. It seemed to me, that the organizer of October revolution would call me menshevik, supporter of Martov and Dan. But this did not happen. Trotsky did not answer and was silent for some time. Then he walked several tines to and fro in his study, sat in his arm-chair and began to develop his idea:
“I would like that comrades in Leningrad understand, that after Vladimir Ilyich’ s death the Party is suffering a crisis: it either will go by a new democratic way or degenerate and become a government party of state capitalism… Only façade of socialism will survive, but actually it will be state capitalism system. In the conditions of Russia it will lead to absolutism.”
I was listening to Trotsky very attentively, trying not to miss a single word. Trotsky continued:
“We have to be supported by an advanced, more conscious group of the Party and try to do our best in consolidation of all the supporters of the democratic way. I think, now Zinoviev and Kamenev, advanced workers of Leningrad, Moscow and Ural understand this… I suppose, soon Bukharin, Rykov and Tomsky will also understand this. After that it will be possible to develop a new program, its essence I call democratic socialism.” Trotsky spoke in such a way, as if he addressed not one person, but a big audience, working class, people. At first I decided, that one of the leaders of Russian revolution and the main leader of October upheaval had got to a conclusion, that the dictatorship of one party became outdated, that it would inevitably lead to unlimited tyranny. But suddenly Trotsky began to speak that it was by all means necessary for the opposition to stay inside the Party with the aim to unite all the live forces of it against the forming oligarchy of Party bureaucracy. In this connection it was necessary to dismiss organized opposition groups.
I was not only stunned with such unexpected conclusions, but simply deafened. Some time I could not collect my thoughts. I could hardly believe that in the year 1927 when Stalin clique during several years and especially after Lenin’s death actively and successfully acts for liquidation of all the opposition groups in the Party, Trotsky still did not realize uselessness of the struggle for a new democratic way in the Party. Couldn’t he see that first of all supporters of democratic methods of guidance are expelled from the Party? Support of which sections of the population and Party he counted on? I mentally planned my objections and asked his permission to give my account of situation. Trotsky offered me to speak out. I said the following:
“Lev Davydovitch, don’t you see that the moment is missed? It was possible to unite people against the usurper in the years 1923-24. But then the majority was busy with attacks against those, who criticized ”Lenin” Central Committee, with mutual squabbles and scholastic argues of possible socialism building in one country. At the same time Stalin, using his position of general secretary, changed the secretaries of regional committees and political workers in the army, selected people, loyal to him in the GPM (General Political Management) organs. Today such apparatus of suppression is built, that Central Committee can not only get rid of all criticizers in the Party, but oppress any different minding in the country. And what has become of Leningrad proletariat? The best part of it perished on the fields of Civil War, the worst hung on the Party and government stuff. The social basis of the working class has changed due to coming of great masses of peasants to towns, I can illustrate this fact with real figures for Leningrad. Absolutely unprincipled people with clearly petty-bourgeois psychology came to government and Party staff. All that is the basis of the regeneration of the Party and will promote unlimited dictatorship of a small group in the Party. The numerous new Party members and especially all ranks of bureaucracy do not need democratic socialism, they are panic-stricken and afraid of democracy. As to the leaders, that guided revolutionary movement of masses, they either died after the social upheaval, as Lenin did, or were executed as Danton and Robespier, or are exiled to the places, located not very far. Probably, this is natural for all the revolutions, both bourgeois and proletarian ones.”
I said all that spontaneously and rather excitedly, I became hot. Trotsky noted my excitement, put his hand on my shoulder and said: I see, you thought a lot about all what was happening in the Party and in the country and take it painfully. You think as a philosopher, it seems, you chose philosophy as a scientific school?
I answered:
“Yes, I am very much interested in the history of philosophy, especially Spinosa attracts me.”
Trotsky asked me to compose myself. I noticed that my excited speech effected him. But I, using this rare possibility, decided to continue this conversation and asked:
‘Lev Davydovich, don’t you think, that Lenin in all his fundamental works accented his attention on the worker-peasant dictatorship, and not on a proletarian one, and that he secretly hardly believed in the revolutionary mission of the Russian proletariat, integrally connected with the peasantry?”
Further I asked Trotsky a psychological question:
“Don’t you think, that the execution of his brother Alexander Ilyich influenced very much on the psychical and mental condition of Lenin? Actually, Lenin in the course of his political struggle tried to connect Marxism with narodniks and Blankism.”
Trotsky smiled broadly and said:
“You are right, all the essence of Leninism is in that, actually in the peasant question… All those, who took up the peasant question, concealed their distrust not only in Russian proletariat, but in European proletariat too… Those, who criticized my notorious theory of permanent revolution, meant this fact, my theory was repeatedly misinterpreted not only by Bukharin school, but by my present-day friends – Zinoviev and Kamenev.” He added: “You as a scientist-marxist, should know, that the theory of permanent revolution was developed not by me, not by Parvus, but by Marx.”
Further Trotsky said, that neither Marx, nor Engels ever supposed that the socialism problem could be solved in the limits of one national state… If such attempts are done, such socialism will have little distinctions from Zubatov socialism, which is a police socialism.
Here our conversation interrupted: the secretary came in and told that there was an urgent affair. Trotsky went with me to the door, pressed my hand and said that he was glad to have such a sincere conversation.
Very excited and bewildered I left Glavkontsesscom.. I decided to walk, to calm down and think over the conversation with Trotsky. I understood that he called up all his supporters to stay in the Party and refuse from the organizational registration of the opposition. But I already saw in Leningrad that Stalin gang started open suppression of its enemies and it is quite logical, that the first step in this struggle was expelling all the differently minded persons from the Party. Thinking our conversation over, I began to understand, that he himself hardly believed in the possible unity of the democratic forces inside the ruling Bolshevik party.
Soon I was expelled from the Party, and it was impossible for me to work in the education sphere. I came to Moscow, where I hoped to receive some work, connected with edition and translation of the materials on history of philosophy. I was staying at my old friend Nikolay Vikhirev, who was a colleague of Evgeny Preobrazhensky in Glavprofobr (Professional education department). Evgeny settled my second meeting with Trotsky…
I approached Sheremetyev lane, which connects Nikitsky street with Vozdvizhenka. It is adjoined from one side by buildings of Moscow University, from the other side – by government houses, where Molotov, Voroshilov and other high-ranking persons were living. In a large apartment of one of these houses lived practically former people’s commissar of Interior Beloborodov. When Trotsky was offered to leave the apartment in the Kremlin, Beloborodov invited him to settle with his wife Sedova in his apartment. He was that Alexander Beloborodov, who being the chairman of the Ural Soviet, signed the decision of the Soviet of tsar Nikolay the Second and his family execution…
With a dim feeling I entered into Beloborodov’s apartment. In a small room to the right lied Beloborodov, he suffered from angina pectoris… Next to this room there was a rather large room with a long table, covered with oil-cloth. Several young men were sitting around the table, they were copying a new big article by Trotsky: “At a new stage”. I promptly began to read it. It was a brilliant from the literature point of view pamphlet with a profound philosophic analysis of our reality after Lenin’s death. The article substantiated the necessity of transfer of the Party and country to wide democracy, sharply criticized the bureaucratic management in the Party and government apparatus. Profoundly analyzing the process of the Party degeneration, Trotsky confirmed his former theory of Thermidor.
When I was copying the article, Trotsky entered. He recognized me at once, shook my hand and invited me to his room. I entered. The room was long, but narrow. A lot of books, journals and newspapers were on the shelves and on the floor. On a small table there was a manuscript. Trotsky offered me a chair, walked about the room several times, readjusted pince-nez , through which almost unwinking eyes twinkled.
I was looking closely at the features of the greatest tribune and revolutionary of our epoch. He was the leader of revolution in 1905 at tsarist regime, was at the head of Petrograd Soviet at Provisional Government, carried out practical guidance of October upheaval in 1917, and at last, at the most hard period of the Civil war he was at the head of Revvoensoviet of the republic.
Trotsky always was in the most difficult sectors, where often the fate of not only a military operation was being solved, but of the Soviet government itself. 1918. Red army was created of mobilized peasants, former soldiers of tsarist army, of partisan detachments, of refugees, running away from White armies, and only of the small part of reliable workers detachments, Latvian gunners and Baltic sailors. Besides, there were anarchic attitudes of some Party members, taking up high posts in the Red army. They did not want to submit the central military command, objected to enlisting in the army of military specialists from former tsarist army, and already then began to group about Stalin. In the country there was dislocation, hunger, cold, typhus, cholera.
It was necessary to have very special qualities, to guide successfully the creation of efficient army in those enormously complicated conditions, the army that resisted regular, well equipped white armies, and at the same time to be in the most critical sectors of military operations. When Trotsky arrived, the situation changed dramatically It was in the summer of 1918 near Kazan, in the summer of 1919 in the South-West front near Ekaterinoslav, in the autumn of the same year near Petrograd. Thanks to rare courage, extraordinary energy, organization and speaker talent and personal bravery he managed literally save the army or front from as it seemed inevitable defeat. Ten years of Soviet power, which owed to L.D.Trotsky more, than to anybody else by its existence, passed. And now he becomes the main object of attacks from the Party and Soviet authorities. Stalin gang is afraid of his popularity in the masses, Party and army, and feverishly prepares to his arrest and exile.
And now I found myself in his home beside this man, who asked in a weak voice to tell about situation in Leningrad. Somehow I could not concentrate, my attention was drawn to very sad face and grayish hair of Trotsky. I had to make an effort to begin. I told something like that: “The workers of Leningrad are indignant with the decisions of XY-th Party Congress, there are many oppositionists in Leningrad, they are expelled from the Party, fired from work, they are being shadowed.” I also expressed my own opinion: “At this stage the opposition is weak, it cannot address people, as it has no press organ and has no access to radio. And even if an attempt was done to address the Party and people, any actions of this kind would be immediately stopped. The whole huge oppression machine is in the hands of Stalin gang.”
After such sad information I asked Lev Davydovich to answer several questions, to which I wanted to know exactly his opinion. I added that these questions interest a lot of people. Trotsky sat at one side of the small table, I sat at another side, and a sincere dialogue began, when I asked questions, and he answered. At last I could concentrate, I remember our conversation very well.
- Trotsky: It is necessary to inform working class and Party members of a new stage of our revolution.
I: What is the essence of this new stage?
Trotsky: This is the combination of state capitalism with Thermidor. We come out against both, we stand up for democratic development of socialism.
I: Is there always a connection between the degradation of the ruling party and social revolution?
Trotsky: Yes, Thermidor expresses those processes in the society, which began from the beginning of NEP (New Economic Policy) that is from the moment of formation of new bourgeoisie in the country, especially kulaks.
I: Don’t you think that the leaders of the Party may degrade on the reason that is laid in the human psychics, in the tendency by all means to keep the power and privileged position?
Trotsky: I don’t exclude psychological factor, politicians’ striving for power, for ruling over subordinates. But such people also depend on the social surroundings, in which their character is formed.
I: As we know from the history, tyrants and despots were at all times, but their social essence was different, though the bureaucratic clique always was the basis of the tyranny. Don’t you think, Lev Davydovich, that the dictatorship of proletariat and one party system inevitably create such bureaucratic clique, oligarchy?
Trotsky: When we made upheaval in October, we counted on the dictatorship of proletariat, but not on the dictatorship over proletariat.
I: How could you rely on this principle, if you knew well, that Russian proletariat was not numerous and its consciousness and culture did not reach the necessary level. When Marx and Engels brought forward the idea of the dictatorship of proletariat, they proceeded from the experience of English industry and historical tradition of English proletariat. You also knew Marx’s answer to Vera Zasulich on this question.
Trotsky: Yes, Lenin and I knew all that. But in October we had two aims: to abolish absolutism, to put an end to Romanovs’ House, to take away the land from the landlords and give it to working peasantry. We did it. The second problem was more complicated – we supposed to give impulse to socialist movement in European countries. The second problem was not solved, and this was the main reason to disagreement in the Party… The forced concession to Russian petty bourgeoisie, comprising the majority of population in Russia, was the result of our hopes failure to social revolution in Europe.
I: Do you stick now to the theory of permanent revolution?
Trotsky: This theory was first suggested by Marx and Engels and developed by Lenin.
Socialism can win only in the whole world scale, the revolution in one country has to raise revolution process in other countries – this is a peculiar chain reaction. But this does not mean at all that the victory of socialism inevitably leads to the dictatorship of proletariat… Socialism may win also in the parliament state, if the majority in the parliament are working class representatives.
I: Fridrich Engels came to this conclusion before his death – I know that. But is the socialism compatible with one-party system and absence of democracy? Today is practically impossible for different groups in the Party to express their point of view.
Trotsky: The political and historical experience, especially after Lenin’s death demonstrates that without wide democracy, without workers’ right to form groups with their platforms the socialism remains a myth and Utopia.
I: Do you acknowledge now, that your position and Zinoviev and Kamenev’s position about groupings at the tenth Party congress was not right? As you know, Zinoviev, Kamenev and you then fought frantically against working opposition, democratic centralists, and did not acknowledge the legitimation of the fractions and groupings?
Trotsky: It was the greatest error. Party without free discussion of economical, political and ideological issues is not a political party, but Jesuit order.
I: Lev Davydovich! Tell me, what do you think will be the situation in the Party and country after the fifteenth Congress?
Trotsky arranged his pince-nez, knitted his brow, walked with long strides along his narrow room, then stopped in front of me and began to speak. I remembered almost all his arguments.
- The situation in the country and in the Party is now finally determined. The country won’t take the way of socialism, but the way of state capitalism, profit and wages, these typical features of any capitalist society, will be kept in the Soviet state too. The category of surplus value, i.e. exploitation of the working class also will be kept. This surplus value from one side will be the economical basis of the capitalist accumulation and the expansion of the production, from the other side it will be a huge fund for paying the enormous mass of privileged bureaucracy, for keeping the army and GPM, and also for maintenance of a huge gang of political adventurers abroad... Instead of social-economical classes the castes will be formed, their position will differ both in incomes and conditions of life and in their rights. Trade Unions in our country are deprived of possibility to defend working class interests, of the right to strike. A small group of people will rule the country, from which group inevitably one person will be promoted, who will do away with all the different minded persons… Creative work will take place only in techniques, as it is necessary first of all for self-defence of the caste system… The Party will rely on the Army and punitive structures… Court, prosecutor office will not use law or constitution, but will base on caprices and tyranny of a tyrant or oligarchy… In politics not international interests of the proletariat, but national aspirations will prevail. Patriotism will inevitably grow into nationalism. In the nearest years the country will take the fascist way, the fascist methods of ruling the country will take place as if to keep the unity in the Party… The suppression of the elementary democracy in our country will compromise the idea of the proletariat dictatorship in the whole world, the advanced workers of England, USA, France, Italy, Scandinavian countries, Japan will turn away from us. Instead of these all kinds of political plotters from East countries and Africa will drag behind us. All the backward members of the world society will group about us.
Is it possible to come to the conclusion, that social-democrats, mensheviks and social revolutionaries were right in their forecasts?
We have to acknowledge, that we made a lot of political errors, when we pushed away true revolutionaries, who gave their lives to working class…All the democratic forces have to unite to save the working movement from fascism. Fascism is not only typical German or Italian phenomenon – it is capable to infect the whole world’s working movement… Russia won’t stay away from so-called national-socialism… Russian chauvinism can rise again on the historical scene.
I: Practically the question is: what has to be done? How can we save the working movement from fascist influence? What is the tactics for the nearest future?
Trotsky: Now it is necessary to disarm organizationally, to dismiss all the groups and fractions to save the advanced forces of the Party. It may seem strange to you, but the circumstances oblige us to do it. Soon new forces will join us, those ones that as yet struggled against us…Already now a blow is being prepared at those, who helped Stalin to crush the opposition in the fifteenth Congress, who in spite of the Lenin’s instructions supported Stalin at the critical period. Neither in Politbureau, nor in the Central Committee of the Party there is no unity, there is also three groups there: open Stalinists, Bukharin supporters and always hesitating marsh. We are strong theoretically, but we let go the State machinery – this is the heel of Achilles of all our politics – we have to own this sincerely. The new stage in the working movement has to involve all the live forces of the advanced countries of the world. It is necessary to unite these forces and to oppose fascism, including the fascism of Stalin type.
Lev Davydovich spoke with such animation, as if he had the former audience of thousands in front of him, his eyes flashed, there was metal in his voice. I saw and heard again Trotsky of the old days. Our conversation was interrupted by a knock on the door. Trotsky’s wife Sedova came in. She asked us to eat something, she told Trotsky: “Today you have only drunk a cup of tea.” She was a very nice woman, there was nobleness in her voice and manners, soft features and crow’s feet about eyes told of her kindness and selflessness. I mentally compared her with Alexandra Lvovna Bronshtain and told to myself: “They are both good.” I refused from dinner, thanked Lev Davydovich for his answers to my questions. He pressed my hand, smiled and said: “We have to hope for better future.”
In spite of these words, I was in low spirits. I went to say good- bye to Beloborodov. I could not suppose then, that I would never see neither Trotsky, nor Sedova, nor Beloborodov again. In the middle of April 1928 Trotsky will be arrested and exiled first to Alma-Ata and later abroad.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Autobiography by Grigory Grigorov

Article by Dmitri Minaev
Recently, I finished reading memoirs of Grigory Grigorov. He was born in 1900 in Ukraine, in a family of a poor tailor. The book starts in 1905, when his family lived in Aleksandrovsk, with one of his first recollections, a pogrom. In 1911, he graduated from a five-year Jewish school and started working: at a footwear factory, as a newspaper boy, an assistant at a barbershop... In 1915 he made acquaintance with a couple of students who ran education groups for workers and who helped him find good books, and he started learning. In just two years, Grigory managed to prepare for the gymnasium exams, which included math, geography, history, physics, chemistry, biology, German and Latin languages. In 1917, he was already reading Caesar in Latin and Schiller in German. At the same time, he read philosophy books, books about religion, classical Greek literature, Shakespeare's works. What's more important, these two students who became his close friends, were socialists. They introduced him to Marxism. By that time Grigorov was working at a factory, and the choice of socialism was quite natural for him.

What is so interesting about this book? Firstly, it's a detailed description of life in the early USSR. Secondly, it is one of few biographies written by the people from the other side of the revolution. And, finally, to a certain degree, it has explained to me the way of thinking of the people who fought in the Red Army for the bolsheviks. Grigorov, like many others, was disappointed with the way the things went. I'd say he should have listened better to the wise people, like Bondarenko and Likhachov. There's a bunch of things where I would disagree with Grigory Grigorov, but he had made his choice and the book is a frank justification of that choice.

Full article