Trotsky, Stalin And The Cold War




Trotsky, Stalin and the Cold War


The Historic Implications and Continuing Ramifications of the

Trotsky-Stalin Conflict


K R Bolton

Academy of Social and Political Research




P O Box 1627

Paraparaumu Beach 5252

New Zealand



Word count: 9,677
































Trotsky, Stalin and the Cold War


The Historic Implications and Continuing Ramifications of the

Trotsky-Stalin Conflict



The Moscow Trials were symptomatic of a great divide that had occurred in Bolshevism. The Allied alliance with Stalin during World War II had formed an assumption among internationalists of the US ‘foreign policy establishment’ that after the Axis defeat a ‘new world order’ might emerge via the United Nations Organisation. This assumption was ill-founded, and the result was the Cold War. Trotskyists emerged as avid Cold Warriors dialectically concluding that the USSR represented the primary obstacle to world socialism. This essay examines the dialectical process by which major factions of Trotskyism became, in Stalinist parlance, a ‘tool of foreign powers and of world capitalism.’


One of the major accusations against Trotsky and alleged Trotskyists during the Moscow Trials of 1936-1938 was that they were agents of foreign capital and foreign powers, including intelligence agencies, and were engaged in sabotage against the Soviet State. In particular, with the advent of Nazi Germany in 1933, Stalin sought to show that in the event of war, which Stalin regarded as inevitable, the Trotskyist network in the USSR would serve as a fifth column for Germany.

The propriety and legalities of the Trials had both influential apologists and critics in the USA. While American educationalist John Dewey teamed up with is protégé American Trotskyist intellectual Sidney Hook to lead the condemnation of the Stalinist trials against Trotsky, et al, others such as Walter Duranty of The New York Times, and the American Ambassador, Joseph E. Davies insisted that the trials were legitimately undertaken against genuine subversives; stating that the trials had produced ‘proof...beyond reasonable doubt to justify the verdict of treason.’[i] Of course, the Left throughout the world was split on partisan grounds, which also extended to non-communists such as the British Fabians Sidney and Beatrice Webb, [ii] who legitimised the trials, while the aforementioned American Fabian Dewey was in the forefront of an international campaign in Trotsky’s defence[iii].

The trials that focused around Trotsky and his alleged accomplices fell into three distinct events:

The first trial, held in August 1936, involved 16 members of the so-called ‘Trotskyite-Kamenevite-Zinovievite-Leftist-Counter-Revolutionary Bloc’. The two main defendants were Grigory Zinoviev and Lev Kamenev. The primary accusations against the defendants were that they had been involved in the assassination of Sergey Kirov in 1934 at the Smolny Institute, and of plotting to kill Stalin. After confessing to the charges, all were sentenced to death and executed.

The second trial in January 1937 comprised 17 defendants called the ‘anti-Soviet Trotskyite-Centre’, which included Karl Radek, Yuri Piatakov and Grigory Sokolnikov, who were accused of plotting with Trotsky, who was said to be in league with Nazi Germany. Thirteen of the defendants were executed, and the remainder sentenced died in the labour camps.

            The third trial was held in 1938 against the ‘Bloc of Rightists and Trotskyists’, with the widely respected Marxist theorist Bukharin as the chief defendant. They were accused of having planned to assassinate Lenin and Stalin in 1918, and of having plotted to dismember the USSR for the benefit of foreign powers.

            The general verdict of history, in accord with the findings of the Dewey Commission, was that all the accusations against the defendants were baseless, and the result of forced confessions extracted by torture and threats to the families of the defendants.

In his 1956 secret address to the Party Congress that is a wide-ranging condemnation of Stalin, Khrushchev nonetheless acknowledges Stalin’s ‘positive role’ in a ‘serious fight against the Trotskyists, rightists and bourgeois nationalists…’ Khrushchev called this ‘a great political ideological struggle’. Khrushchev acknowledges the fundamental accusation of the Stalinists, stating ‘this was a stubborn and a difficult fight but a necessary one, because the political line of both the Trotskyite-Zionvievite block and of the Bukharinites led actually towards the restoration of capitalism and capitulation to the world bourgeoisie.’ Khrushchev hence felt obliged to acknowledge that the ‘Party struggle’ against Trotsky et al was legitimate, and was primarily ideological from 1928 until 1935, after which repressive measures were introduced which were also to weigh heavily against ‘many honest Communists’. At the time of Khrushchev’s assumption to power, he was in the position of having to repudiate the prior regime of Stalin, by then widely known throughout the world for its repression and brutality, while not conceding any legitimacy to the Trotskyite-Bukharinite lines that might still undermine the USSR. [iv]

            The undeniable fact is that it was Stalin who held the authority since 1928, when Trotsky had been exiled, and that the ‘ideological struggle’ referred to by Khrushchev was at the instigation and direction of Stalin, which served as the basis for the ‘repression’ that was to follow, including in particular the trials of 1936-1938. It was not the arguments against the Trotskyists et al that the USSR ever repudiated, but the murderous onslaught against them. In Khrushchev’s view, pointing out that both Kamenev and Zinoviev, like Trotsky himself until the eve of the October Revolution, had been Mensheviks and had been resistant to the Bolshevik plan for an uprising, nonetheless were welcomed into the Bolshevik Government by Lenin and assumed leading positions. In Khrushchev’s view the Leninist line would have been one of accommodation, as distinct from that of Stalin’s violent purges.[v] Khrushchev argued that the revolution had already triumphed and Stalin’s ‘brutal’ measures were not necessary.[vi] In 1927 on the eve of the 25th Party Congress only 4,000 delegates had voted in favour of ‘the Trotskyite-Zinovievite opposition, while there were 724,000 for the Party line.’ From then until the Central Committee Plenum of 1937 where Stalin had declared the need to continue terror against the Trotskyists, Khrushchev insisted that the Trotskyist opposition had been eliminated, many having come over to the ‘party line’.[vii] From then Stalin used the alleged existence of a widespread network of saboteurs and spies to continue a sustained attack on party leaders, bureaucrats and ideologues until. Khrushchev’s view accords with that of orthodox history in stating that the purges and liquidations were unnecessary from an ideological point of view, and that the charges regarding espionage and sabotage were fabricated.[viii]

            What is significant is that Khrushchev did concede that Stalin was correct in his fundamental allegation that the Trotskyists, Bukharinites et al represented a faction that sought the ‘restoration of capitalism and capitulation to the world bourgeoisie’. However Khrushchev and even Stalin were in the predicament that in several major respects they could not go far enough in their denunciation of Trotskyists et al as seeking to ‘restore capitalism’ and as being agents of foreign powers. To expose the full facts in regard to such accusations would also mean to expose some unpalatable and hidden factors of the Bolshevik Revolution itself, and of Lenin; which would undermine the whole edifice upon which Soviet authority rested– the October 1917 Revolution. Lenin, and Trotsky in particular, had intricate associations with many un-proletarian individuals and interests. Several of the more obvious were Trotsky’s old mentor Israel Helphand-Parvus who like several other individuals managed to combine an opulent lifestyle as a capitalist while being also a committed and very active Marxist; and the ‘Bolshevik banker’ Olof Aschberg of the Nya Banken, Stockholm, who served as a conduit of funds for the Bolsheviks, and after the revolution became the first director of the Soviet state bank, Ruskombank[ix]. Another well-known personality at the time was Col. William Boyce Thompson, a Wall Street banker and a director of the Federal Reserve Bank, who organised the 1917 Red Cross Mission to Russia as a cover for the purpose primarily of studying the Russian situation for the outlook of future business deals with the Bolsheviks.[x] He was affectionately called the ‘Bolshevik of Wall Street’[xi] by his colleagues in the banking and industrial sectors of New York.

            The fact of behind the scenes machinations between the Bolsheviks and international finance was commented upon publicly by two very well positioned but quite different sources: Henry Wickham Steed, conservative editor of The London Times, and Samuel Gompers, head of the American Federation of Labour.

            In a first-hand account of the Paris Peace Conference of 1919, Wickham Steed stated that proceedings were interrupted by the return from Moscow of William C. Bullitt and Lincoln Steffens, ‘who had been sent to Russia towards the middle of February by Colonel House[xii] and Mr. Lansing, for the purpose of studying conditions, political and economic, therein for the benefit of the American Commissioners plenipotentiary to negotiate peace.’[xiii] Steed stated specifically and at some length that international finance was behind the move for recognition of the Bolshevik regime and other moves in favour of the Bolsheviks, stating that: ‘Potent international financial interests were at work in favour of the immediate recognition of the Bolshevists.’[xiv] In return for diplomatic recognition Tchitcherin, the Bolshevist Commissary for Foreign Affairs, was offering ‘extensive commercial and economic concessions.’[xv]

For his part, Samuel Gompers, the American labour leader, was vehemently opposed to the Bolsheviks and any recognition or commercial transactions, stating to the press in regard to negotiations at the international economic conference at Genoa, that a group of ‘predatory international financiers’ were working for the recognition of the Bolshevik regime for the opening up of resources for exploitation. Gompers described this as an ‘Anglo-American-German banking group’. He also commented that prominent Americans who had a history of anti-labour attitudes were advocating recognition of the Bolshevik regime[xvi].

            These connections between the Bolshevik Government and ‘predatory international financiers’ (sic) as Gompers called them, have in more recent times been re-examined and documented on a scholarly basis by Dr Antony Sutton.[xvii]

            What is of significance here however is that Trotsky in particular was the focus of attention by many individuals acting on behalf not only of foreign powers but of international financial institutions. Hence while Stalin and even Khrushchev could aver to the association of Trotsky with foreign powers and even – albeit vaguely - with seeking the ‘restoration of capitalism and capitulation to the world bourgeoisie’, to trace the links more specifically to international finance would inevitably lead to the association also of Bolshevik regime per se to those same sources, thus undermining the founding myth of the USSR as being the ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’.

            These associations between Trotsky and international finance, as well as foreign intelligence services, have been meticulously documented by Dr Richard Spence.[xviii] Spence states that ‘Trotsky was the recipient of mysterious financial assistance and was a person of keen interest to German, Russian and British agents.’ Such contentions are very similar to the charges against Trotsky et al at the Moscow Trials, and there are details and personalities involved, said to have been extracted under torture and threats, that are in fact confirmed by Spence, who traces Trotsky’s patronage as far back as 1916 when he was an exile from Czarist Russia and was being expelled from a succession of countries in Europe before finding his way to the USA, prior to his return to Russia in 1917 to play his part in the Revolution. Expelled from France to Spain, Trotsky was locked up as a ‘terrorist agitator’ for three and a half days in comfortable conditions.[xix] Ernst Bark, perhaps with the use of German funds, arranged Trotsky’s release and his transfer to Cadiz to await passage with his family to New York and paid for first class passage on the SS Montserrat. Ernst Bark was cousin of the Czar’s minister of finance Petr Bark who, despite his service to the Czar, had the pro-German, pro-Bolshevik banker Olof Aschberg, of the Nya Banken, Sweden, as his financial agent for his New York dealings. Aschberg, the ‘Bolshevik banker’, was also involved with the network of Trotsky’s former mentor, Israel Helphand-Parvus who, despite the alleged breach between the two, and even ideological attacks by Trotsky upon Parvus, had nonetheless continued to subsidise Trotsky’s Nashe Slovo in support of its defeatist propaganda during the war. A report reaching US Military Intelligence in 1918 stated that Trotsky had been ‘bought by the Germans’, and that he was organising the Bolshevik[xx] movement with Parvus.

            From being penniless in Spain to his arrival in New York Trotsky had arrived with $500 which Spence states is today equivalent to about $10,000, although Trotsky liked to depict himself as continuing in proletarian poverty. Immigration authorities also noted that his place of residence would be the less than proletarian Hotel Astor in Times Square.

            In New York the Trotsky’s lived in a Bronx apartment with all the mod-coms of the day. Employed by Novyi Mir, he was assisted by Grigorri Chudnovskii, who had worked with Parvus in Switzerland and Denmark.[xxi] Julius Hammer, father of Armand (who gained his fortune as head of Occidental Petroleum). Julius Hammer, like Parvus was another Bolshevik who combined revolution with an opulent lifestyle. Hammer was probably the mysterious ‘Dr M’ referred to by Trotsky in his memoirs, who provided the Trotskys with sightseeing jaunts in his chauffeured car. [xxii]

            One of the main contacts for Trotsky was a maternal uncle, banker and businessman Abram Zhivotovskii. In 1915 Zhivotovskii was jailed in Russia for trading with Germany. The US State Department described Zhivotovskii as outwardly ‘very anti-Bolshevik’ but who had laundered money to the Bolsheviks and other socialist organizations. [xxiii] He seems to have played a double role in moneymaking working as a financial agent for both Germans and Allies. During the war he maintained an office in Japan under the management of a nephew Iosif Zhivotovskii, who had served as secretary to Sidney Reilly, the so-called ‘British Ace of Spies’ who nonetheless also seems to have been a duplicitous character in dealing with Germany. Spence mentions that Reilly, who had a business in the USA, had gone to Japan when Trotsky was in Spain, and arrived back in the USA around the time of Trotsky’s arrival, the possibility being that Reilly had acquired funds from Trotsky’s uncle to give to his nephew in New York. Another Reilly association with Zhivotovskii was via Alexander Weinstein. Weinstein had been Zhivotovskii’s agent in London, and had joined Reilly in 1916. He was supposedly a loyal Czarist but was identified by American Military Intelligence as a Bolshevik.[xxiv] Of further interest is that Alexander’s brother Gregory was business manager of Novyi Mir, the newspaper that employed Trotsky while he was in New York. Reilly and Weinstein were also associated with Benny Sverdlov, a Russian arms broker who was the brother of Yakov Sverdlov, the future Soviet commissar.

            These multiple associations between Trotsky and Reilly’s associates are significant here in that one of the accusations raised during the Moscow Trials was that the Trotskyists had had dealings with ‘British spy’ Sidney Reilly.

            The dealings of Sir William Wiseman, British Military Intelligence chief in the UA, and his deputy Norman Thwaites, with Reilly and associates were concealed even from other British agencies.[xxv] Wiseman had kept Trotsky under surveillance in New York. Trotsky secured a visa from the British consulate to proceed to Russia via Nova Scotia and Scandinavia. The Passport Control Section of the British Consulate was under the direction of Thwaites. Trotsky was to remark on his arrival in Russia about the helpful attitude of consular officials, despite his detention as a possible German agent at Nova Scotia. Trotsky had been able to pay for tickets aboard the Kristianiafiord for himself and his family, and also for a small entourage. What is additionally interesting about Wiseman is that he was closely associated with banking interests, and around 1921 joined Kuhn, Loeb and Co.[xxvi] In 1955 Wiseman launched his own international bank with investments from Kuhn, Loeb & Co.; Rothschild; Rockefeller; Warburg firms, et al[xxvii]. He was thus very close to the international banking dynasties throughout much of his life.

            To return to the Kristianiafiord however, on board with Trotsky and his entourage, first class, were Robert Jivotovsky (Zhivotovskii), likely to have been another Trotsky cousin; Israel Fundaminsky, whom Trotsky regarded as a British agent, and Andrei Kalpaschnikoff who acted as translator when Trotsky was being questioned by British authorities at Nova Scotia. Kalpaschnikoff was closely associated with Vladimir Rogovine, who worked for Weinstein and Reilly. Kalpaschnikoff was also associated with John MacGregor Grant, a friend and business partner of both Reilly and Olof Aschberg. We can therefore see an intricate connection between British super-spy Reilly, and bankers such as Aschberg, who served as a conduit of funds to the Bolsheviks, and Zhivotovskii via Alexander Weinstein.

            When Trotsky and several of his entourage were arrested on 29 March at Nova Scotia and questioned by British authorities regarding associations with Germany this could well have been an act to dispel any suspicions that Trotsky might be serving British interests. The British had the option of returning him to New York but allowed him to proceed to Russia. [xxviii]

The attitude of Wiseman towards the Bolsheviks once having achieved nominal power was one of urging recognition, Wiseman cabling President Wilson’s principal adviser Col. Edward House on 1 May 1918 that the allies should intervene at the invitation of the Bolsheviks and help organise the Bolshevik army then fighting the White Armies the Civil War.[xxix] This would accord with the aim of certain international bankers to secure recognition of the Bolshevik regime, as noted by both Gompers and Steed.

            The financial interests in the USA that formed around the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), founded by col. House to implement Wilsonian post-war ideals, were clamouring for recognition of the Soviets to enable access to the opportunities afforded by the new regime, issued a report on Bolshevik Russia in 1923, prompted by Lenin’s ‘New Economic Policy’. The report repudiated anti-Bolshevik attitudes and fears that Bolshevism would be spread to other countries (although it had already had a brief but bloody reign in Hungary and revolts in German). CFR historian Peter Grosse writes that the report stated that ‘the Bolsheviks were on their way to “sanity and sound business practices,” the Council study group concluded, but the welcome to foreign concessionaires would likely be short-lived…. Thus, the Council experts recommended in March 1923 that American businessmen get into Russia while Lenin’s invitation held good…’[xxx]

Armand Hammer, head of Occidental Petroleum, son of the aforementioned Julius Hammer who had been the Trotsky family’s mentor in New York, was a globetrotting plutocrat who mixed with the political and business elites of the world for decades. Hammer was in intimate contact with every Soviet leader from Lenin to Gorbachev — except for Stalin.[xxxi] This omission is significant, as it is indicative of the rift that had occurred between the USSR and Western financial and industrial interests with the assumption of Stalin and the defeat of Trotsky.

                The CFR report on the USSR and the advice for American business to get in quick before the situation changed was prescient. In 1921 Hammer was in the USSR sewing up business deals. Hammer met Trotsky, who asked him whether ‘financial circles in the USA regard Russia as a desirable field of investment? Trotsky continued:

‘Inasmuch as Russia had its Revolution, capital was really safer there than anywhere else because, “whatever should happen abroad, the Soviet would adhere to any agreements it might make. Suppose one of your Americans invests money in Russia. When the Revolution comes to America, his property will of course be nationalised, but his agreement with us will hold good and he will thus be in a much more favourable position than the rest of his fellow capitalists.”’[xxxii]


In contrast to the obliging Trotsky who was willing to guarantee the wealth and investments of Big Business, Hammer said of Stalin:

‘I never met Stalin and I never had any dealing with him. However it was perfectly clear to me in 1930 that Stalin was not a man with whom you could do business. Stalin believed that the state was capable of running everything, without the support of foreign concessionaires and private enterprise. That was the main reason why I left Moscow: I could see that I would soon be unable to do business there...’[xxxiii]


As for Trotsky’s attitude toward capitalist investment, were the charges brought against Trotsky et al during the Moscow Trials wholly cynical efforts to disparage and eliminate the perceived opposition to Stalin’s authority, or was there at least some factual basis to the charge that the Trotskyist-Left and Bukharin-Right blocs sought to ‘restore capitalism’ to the USSR? It is of interest in this respect to note that even according to one of Trotsky’s present day proponents, David North, Trotsky ‘placed greater emphasis than any other Soviet leader of his time on the overriding importance of close economic links between the USSR and the world capitalist market’.

            North speaking to an Australian Trotskyist conference went on to state of Trotsky’s attitude:

‘Soviet economic development, he insisted, required both access to the resources of the world market and the intelligent utilisation of the international division of labour. The development of economic planning required at minimum a knowledge of competitive advantage and efficiencies at the international level. It served no rational economic purpose for the USSR to make a virtue of frittering away its own limited resources in a vain effort to duplicate on Soviet soil what it could obtain at far less cost on the world capitalist market.... It is helpful to keep in mind that Trotsky belonged to a generation of Russian Marxists who had utilised the opportunity provided by revolutionary exile to carefully observe and study the workings of the capitalist system in the advanced countries. They were familiar not only with the oft-described “horrors” of capitalism, but also with its positive achievements. ... Trotsky argued that a vital precondition for the development of the Soviet economy along socialist lines was its assimilation of the basic techniques of capitalist management, organisation, accounting and production.’[xxxiv]


                It was against this background that during the latter half of the 1930s Stalin acted against remnants of the so-called Trotsky and Bukharin blocs as agents of world capitalism and foreign powers. The most cogent defence of the Moscow Trials came from two American journalists, Albert E Kahn and Michael Sayers, which carried an endorsement by former US ambassador to the USSR, Joseph Davis, and an introduction by Sen. Claude Pepper (Florida), The Great Conspiracy Against Russia.[xxxv] Perhaps these Stalinists considered it opportune to publish such a book in the immediate aftermath of World War II in consideration for the universal admiration the Allies held for the USSR’s fight against Germany?

                Among the charges against Trotsky was that he was in contact with British Intelligence operatives, and was conspiring against Lenin. This is not altogether implausible. Lenin and the Bolshevik faction were in favour of a separate peace between Russia and Germany. Lenin and his entourage had been provided with funds and transport by the German General Staff to travel back to Russia[xxxvi]. It should be kept in mind that Trotsky, however, was a Menshevik in dispute with Lenin, who did not join the Bolshevik faction until the eve of the November Revolution when a Bolshevik victory looked likely. Kahn and Sayers commented that ‘for fourteen years, Trotsky had fiercely opposed the Bolsheviks; then in August 1917, a few months before the Bolshevik Revolution he had joined Lenin’s party and risen to power with it. Within the Bolshevik Party, Trotsky was organizing a Left Opposition to Lenin.’[xxxvii]

Trotsky was not well disposed to negotiate peace with the German imperialists, and it was a major point of debate among the Allies whether certain socialist revolutionaries could be won over to the Allied cause. Trotsky himself had stated in the offices of Novy Mir just before his departure from New York to Russia that although revolutionists would soon overthrow the Kerensky regime they ‘would not make a separate peace with Germany’.[xxxviii] From this perspective it would have made sense – despite the allegations of some that Trotsky was a Bolshevik and ipso facto pro-German, for William Wiseman to have intervened and for the British authorities to have let Trotsky proceed after having been detained in Nova Scotia.

Col. William Boyce Thompson was enthusiastic to secure the Bolsheviks for the Allied cause. He stated his intention of providing $1,000,000 of his own to assist with Bolshevik propaganda directed at Germany and Austria. [xxxix] Thompson’s insistence that if the Allies recognised the Bolsheviks they would not make a separate peace with Germany,[xl] accorded with Trotsky’s own attitude insofar as he also wished to see the war end not with a separate peace but with revolutions that would bring down Germany and Austria. His agenda therefore seems to have been quite distinct from that of Lenin’s, and might point to separate sources of funds that were provided to them.

Trotsky’s actions when the Bolsheviks assumed power were consistent with his declarations, and not in accord with Soviet policy. As Foreign Commissar Trotsky had been sent to Brest-Litovsk ‘with categorical instructions from Lenin to sign peace.’[xli] Instead he called for a proletarian uprising, and stated that although the Russian army could no longer continue in the war and would demobilise, the Soviets would not make peace. After Trotsky’s rhetoric at Brest-Litovsk the Germans launched another assault on the Eastern Front, and the Red Army found itself still fighting the Germans.

It was at this point that R H Bruce Lockhart, special agent of the British War Cabinet, sought out Trotsky, on the instructions of Lloyd George.

Lockhart, generally considered the archetypal anti-Bolshevik Establishment figure after the War, was well disposed towards the Bolsheviks in terms of British policy. At one point his wife warned that his colleagues in Britain thought be might be going ‘Red’. Lockhart wrote of the situation:

Russia was out of the war. Bolshevism would last---certainly as long as the war lasted. I deprecated as sheer folly our militarist propaganda, because it took no account of the war-weariness which had raised the Bolsheviks to the supreme power. In my opinion, we had to take the Bolshevik peace proposals seriously. Our policy should now aim at achieving an anti-German peace in Russia.’[xlii]


Coincidentally, ‘an anti-German peace in Russia’ seems to precisely describe the immediate aim of Trotsky.

Trotsky intended that the World War would be transformed into a revolutionary war, with the starting point being revolutions in Germany and Austria. This would certainly accord with Col. Thompson’s stated intentions to fund Bolshevist propaganda in Germany and Austria with $1,000,000 of his own. Thompson was in communication with Trotsky via Raymond Robins, his deputy with the Red Cross Mission, and like him an enthusiast for the Bolshevik regime.[xliii] Lloyd George had met Col. Thompson and had been won over to the aim of contacting Lenin and Trotsky. Lockhart was instructed to return to Russia to establish ‘unofficial contact with the Bolsheviks’.[xliv] Lockhart relates that he met Trotsky for two hours at the latter’s office at Smolny. While Lockhart was highly impressed with Trotsky he did not regard the Foreign Commissar as able to weld sufficient influence to replace Lenin. Trotsky’s parting words to Lockhart at this first meeting were: ‘Now is the big opportunity for the Allied Governments.’ Thereafter Lockhart saw Trotsky on a daily basis. [xlv] Lockhart stated that Trotsky was willing to bring Soviet Russia over to Britain:

‘He considered that war was inevitable. If the Allies would send a promise of support, he informed me that he would sway the decision of the Government in favour of war. I sent several telegrams to London requesting an official message that would enable me to strengthen Trotsky’s hands. No message was sent.’[xlvi]


Given Trotsky’s position in regard to Germany, and the statements of Lockhart in his memoirs, the Stalinist accusation is entirely plausible that Trotsky was the focus of Allied support, and would explain why the British expedited Trotsky’s return to Russia. Indeed, Lockhart was to remark that the British view was that they might be able to make use of the dissensions between Trotsky and Lenin, and believed that the Allies could reach an accord with Russia because of the extravagant peace demands of the Germans[xlvii] However from what Lockhart sates, it seems that the Allied procrastination in regard to recondition of the Bolsheviks was the uncertainty that they constituted a stable and lasting Government, and that they were suspicious of the Bolshevik intentions towards Germany, with Lenin and Trotsky still widely regarded as German agents. [xlviii]


The period preceding World War II, particularly the signing of the Anti-Comintern Pact, served as the catalyst for his launching a series of actions against Trotskyists and other suspect elements. Trotsky had since his exile been promoted in the West as the great leader of the Russian revolution[xlix], while his own background had been one of opportunism, for the most part as an anti-Leninist Menshevik. [l] It was only in August 1917, seeing the situation in Russia, that Trotsky applied for membership of the Bolshevik Party.[li] Trotsky had joined the Bolshevik Party with his entire faction, a faction that remained intact within the Soviet apparatus, and was ready to be activated after Stalin’s election as General Secretary in 1922. Trotsky admits to a revolutionary network from 1923 when he wrote in his 1938 eulogy to his a son Leon Sedov: ‘Leon threw himself headlong into the work of the Opposition…Thus, at seventeen, he began the life of a fully conscious revolutionist, quickly grasped the art of conspiratorial work, illegal meetings, and the secret issuing and distribution of Opposition documents. The Komsomol (Communist Youth organization) rapidly developed its own cadres of Opposition leaders.’[lii] Hence Trotsky had freely admitted to the fundamental charges of the Stalinist regime: the existence of a widespread Trotskyist ‘conspiracy’. Indeed, as far back as 1921, the Central Committee of the Bolshevik Party had already passes a resolution banning all ‘factions’ in the Party, specifically warning Trotsky against ‘factional activities’, and condemning the factionalist activities of what the resolution called ‘Trotskyites’. [liii]

                At the 1936 Moscow Trial of Kamenev et al, I N Smirnov, accused of being the leader of the so-called ‘Trotskyite-Zinovievite United Terrorist Centre’, ‘confessed’ or was induced to say, that he had met Trotsky’s son Leon Sedov, a leader of the Trotskyist network, in Berlin in 1931, where Sedov offered the view that, ‘under the present conditions only the removal by violence of the leading persons in the C.P.S.U. and the Soviet Government could bring about a change in general situation in the country....’[liv] Whatever might be said of the ‘confession’ it can hardly be doubted that these were at least the general sentiments of Sedov, as eulogised by his father.

In 1924 Trotsky met with Boris Savinkov, a Socialist Revolutionary, who had served as head of the terrorist wing, the so-called ‘Fighting Organization’, of the Party, and who had been Deputy Minister of War in the Kerensky Government. After the triumph of the Bolsheviks Savinkov, leaving Russia in 1920, became associated with French and Polish authorities, and with Lockhart[lv] and Sidney Reilly, [lvi] the latter, as mentioned previously, being associated on multiple levels with Trotsky’s banker uncle Zhivotovskii. Savinkov was involved in counter-revolutionary activities, in trying to form an army to overthrow the Bolsheviks. Winston Churchill confirms Savinkov’s meeting with Trotsky in 1924, Churchill himself being involved in the anti-Soviet machinations, writing in Great Contemporaries: ‘In June 1924, Kamenev and Trotsky definitely invited him (Savinkov) to return.’[lvii]

                    The Stalinists allege that in 1924 a leading Trotskyist, Christian Rakovsky, arrived in Britain as Soviet Ambassador. According to the testimony at the Moscow Trial during March 1938 Rakovsky admitted to meeting two British agents, Lockhart and Captain Armstrong. Rakovsky is said to have confessed at his Moscow Trial that Lockhart and Armstrong had told him that he had been permitted entry into Britain because of his association with Trotsky, as they wanted to cultivated relations with the latter. When Rakovsky reported back to Trotsky several months later, Trotsky was alleged to have been interested. In 1926 Rakovsky was transferred to France prior to which he was alleged to have been instructed by Trotsky to seek out contacts with ‘conservatives circles’ who might support an anti-Bolshevik uprising, as Trotsky considered the situation in Russia to be right for a coup. Rakovsky, as instructed, met several French industrialists, including the grain merchant Louis Dreyfus, and the flax merchant Nicole, both Deputies of the French Parliament.[lviii]  Rakovsky in his testimony during the 1936 trial of Bukharin, et al, Rakovsky being one of the defendants, relates the manner by which he was supposedly approached by various intelligence agencies, including those of Japan when in 1934 Rakovsky was head of a Soviet Red Cross Delegation.[lix] Rakovsky spoke of the difficulty the Trotskyists had in maintaining relations with both British and Japanese intelligence agencies, since the two states were becoming antagonistic over problems in China.[lx] Rakovsky explained that: ‘We Trotskyites have to play three cards at the present moment: the German, Japanese and British…’[lxi] At that time the Trotskyists – or at least Rakovsky - regarded the likelihood of a Japanese attack on the USSR as more likely than a German attack, and interestingly Rakovsky even then alluded to his belief that an accord between Hitler and Stalin was possible. If such statements were entirely the product of Stalinist threats, and did not have some basis in fact, it is difficult to conclude as to why Stalinists would put it into the mouth of Rakovsky that the Trotskyists considered dealings between Hitler and Stalin possible. Neither is there any major objection to the plausibility that the Trotskyists were indeed looking toward an invasion of the USSR as the means of destabilising the regime during which the Trotskyist cells could launch their counter-revolution. Certainly we know from the account of Churchill – who would have been aware of such proceedings – that Trotsky met the ultra-terrorist Socialist Revolutionary Savinkov, who was himself involved with British Intelligence via Reilly and Lockhart. Rakovsky stated of a Hitler-Stalin Pact:

‘Personally I thought that the possibility was not excluded that Hitler would seek a rapprochement with the government of the U.S.S.R. I cited the policy of Richelieu: in his own country he exterminated the Protestants, while in his foreign policy he concluded alliances with the Protestant German princes. The relations between Germany and Poland were still in the stage of their inception at the time. Japan, on the other hand, was a potent aggressor against the U.S.S.R. For us Trotskyites the Japanese card was extremely important, but, on the other hand, we should not overrate the importance of Japan as our ally against the Soviet government.’[lxii]

               As far as the Stalinist allegations go in regard to the Trotskyists aligning with foreign powers and viewing an invasion of the USSR as a catalyst for revolution, other ultra-Marxists had taken paths far more unlikely. As mentioned Savinkov, who had been one of the most violent of the socialist revolutionaries in Czarist Russia, had sought out British assistance in forming a counter-revolutionary army. Savinkov had fled to Poland in 1919 where he tried to organize ‘the evacuation committee’ within the Polish armies then attacking Russia.[lxiii] Savinkov’s colleagues in Poland, Merezhkovsky, and his wife Zinaida Hippius, who had been ardent Socialist Revolutionary propagandists although not actually party members, later became supporters of Mussolini and then of Hitler, in the hope of overthrowing Stalin[lxiv]. Therefore the Stalinist allegation of Trotskyist collusion even with fascists is not completely fantastical outside a certain Marxian dialectic. It is the same road that resulted in the alliance of many Trotskyists, Mensheviks and other Leftists with the CIA, and their metamorphoses into ardent anti-Bolsheviks and Cold Warriors. It is the same road that brought leading American Trotskyist intellectual Prof. Sidney Hook, ‘a lifelong Menshevik’, to the leadership of a major CIA. Considering such historical anomalies, paradoxes and the twists and turns of Marxian dialectics, there is nothing implausible about the general Stalinist accusations against the Trotskyists. 

While it has been standard fare for such ‘confessions’ to be uniformly condemned out-of-hand by academe and others since the time of the Dewey Commission, and given impetus by the show of Marxian ‘self-criticism’ inaugurated by Khrushchev, the subsequent verifiable actions of Trotskyists in the West in so readily being co-opted by the CIA for example, should give pause for reconsideration as to whether the general nature – if not all the details – of the allegations had at least some basis.

                I would suggest then that the allegations at the Moscow Trials were not so much matters of outright fraud based on torture, threats and brainwashing of the defendants, but that the Stalinists had used less that judicious methods to secure convictions on allegations that were correct as a matter of general premise: namely, that there was a Trotskyist apparatus aiming at a counter-revolution. That this apparatus would have the support of foreign capital and foreign intelligence agencies does not seem implausible.



Max Shachtman


Max Shachtman, one of Trotsky’s primary representatives in the USA[lxv], is pivotal when considering why Trotskyists became ardent Cold Warriors, CIA front men, apologists for US foreign policy, and continue to champion the USA as the only ‘truly revolutionary’ state. The legacy of Trotskyism had already been one of counter-revolution, of duplicity, and opportunism, and Lenin had always recognised the personality of Trotsky as having these factors. Lockhart was also clear about Trotsky’s opportunism. It was left to Stalin as Trotsky’s successful rival for the leadership of the USSR to make evidence fit around the fundamentals of what was already known about Trotsky from an early time, a dubious technique of law enforcement not unknown even to New Zealand Police on occasion.

                Expelled from the Communist Party USA in 1928 Shachtman co-founded the Communist League and the Socialist Workers Party, but split to form the Workers Party of the United States in 1940, which became the Independent Socialist League and merged with the Socialist Party in 1958; [lxvi] which in turn factionalised into the Democratic Socialists and the Social Democrats.

                Shachtman was of course scathing of the Moscow Trials. His critique is standard, and will not be of concern here. [lxvii] What is of interest is Shachtman’s surpassing of Trotsky himself in his opposition to the USSR, his faction (the so-called ‘Third Camp’) being what he considered as a purified, genuine Trotskyism, which eventuated into an apologist for US foreign policy.

            The Shachtmanist critique of the USSR was that it had early been transformed from government ‘bureaucratism’ to ‘party bureaucratism’.[lxviii] ‘Soviet bureaucratism became party bureaucratism. In increasing number the government official was the party official.’[lxix] ‘We do not have a workers’ state, he insisted, but a workers’ state with bureaucratic deformations, Shachtman stated in quoting Trotsky as far back as 1922. And again from Trotsky: ‘We have a bureaucracy not only in the Soviet institutions, but in the institutions of the party’… Shachtman continues: ‘A month later, in a veiled public attack upon Stalin as head of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Inspection, he repeated his view that the state machine was still “a survival to a large extent of the former bureaucracy ... with only a superficial new coat of paint.”’[lxx]

While in 1937 Shachtman declared that the USSR should nonetheless be defended against aggression from, for example, Nazi Germany and that it was a Stalinist slur to think that Trotsky would be an enemy of the USSR in such circumstances[lxxi], by 1940 Shachtman was at loggerhead with Trotsky himself and the ‘Cannon’[lxxii] group in the Workers Party. It is of interest that what Trotsky was critiquing was the Burnham-Shachtman faction within the Party. James Burnham would also become a leading ideologue for the USA in the Cold War.

The Trotskyists were agreed that Stalinist Russia had become a ‘degenerated’ (sic) workers state,’ however the Cannon-Trotsky line and the position of the Fourth International was that should the USSR be attacked by capitalist or fascist powers, because it was nonetheless still a so-called ‘progressive’ economy based on the nationalisation of property, the USSR must be defended on that basis alone and that the Trotskyists should now support the war effort against Germany. The Burnham-Shachtman line to the contrary argued from what they considered to be a dialectical position:

‘Just as it was once necessary, in connection with the trade union problem, to speak concretely of what kind of workers’ state exists in the Soviet Union, so it is necessary to establish, in connection with the present war, the degree of the degeneration of the Soviet state. The dialectical method of treating such questions makes this mandatory upon us. And the degree of the degeneration of the regime cannot be established by abstract reference to the existence of nationalized property, but only by observing the realities of living events.’

‘The Fourth International established, years ago, the fact that the Stalinist regime (even though based upon nationalized property) had degenerated to the point where it was not only capable of conducting reactionary wars against the proletariat and its revolutionary vanguard, and even against colonial peoples, but did in fact conduct such wars. Now, in our opinion, on the basis of the actual course of Stalinist policy (again, even though based upon nationalized property), the Fourth International must establish the fact that the Soviet Union (i.e., the ruling bureaucracy and the armed forces serving it) has degenerated to the point where it is capable of conducting reactionary wars even against capitalist states (Poland, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, now Finland, and tomorrow Rumania and elsewhere). This is the point which forms the nub of our difference with you and with the Cannon faction.’


Shachtman now expressed his approach unequivocally:

‘War is a continuation of politics, and if Stalinist policy, even in the occupied territory where property has been statified, preserves completely its reactionary character, then the war it is conducting is reactionary. In that case, the revolutionary proletariat must refuse to give the Kremlin and its army material and military aid. It must concentrate all efforts on overturning the Stalinist regime. That is not our war! Our war is against the counterrevolutionary bureaucracy at the present time!

‘In other words, I propose, in the present war, a policy of revolutionary defeatism in the Soviet Union, as explained in the statement of the Minority on the Russian question – and in making this proposal I do not feel myself one whit less a revolutionary class patriot than I have always been.’[lxxiii]


Shachtman had shortly after World War II began to speak about the threat of Stalinist parties throughout the world as agencies for Soviet policy, a theme that would become a basis of US attitudes towards the USSR:

‘The Stalinist parties are indeed agents of the Kremlin oligarchy, no matter what country they function in. The interests and the fate of these Stalinist parties are inseparably intertwined with the interests and fate of the Russian bureaucracy. The Stalinist parties are everywhere based upon the power of the Russian bureaucracy, they serve this power, they are dependent upon it, and they cannot live without it.’[lxxiv]


By 1948 Shachtmanism as the Cold Warrior apologist for American foreign policy was taking shape. In seeing positive signs in the Titoist break with the USSR, Shachtman wrote:

‘In the first place, the division in the capitalist camp is, to all practical intents, at an end. In any case, there is nothing like the division that existed from 1939 onward and which gave Stalinist Russia such tremendous room for maneuvering. In spite of all the differences that still exist among them, the capitalist world under American imperialist leadership and drive is developing an increasingly solid front against Russian imperialism.’[lxxv]


In 1948 Shachtman scathingly attacked the position of the Fourth International in having continued to defend the USSR as a ‘degenerated works’ state’ solely on the basis of its nationalised economy, of its mistaken belief that the Stalinist bureaucratic dictatorship world fall apart during the war, and pointed out that Stalinist imperialism had emerged from the war victorious.[lxxvi]

            From here it can be seen that Shachtman regarded ‘Russian imperialism’ as the greater evil, and from a dialectical viewpoint, the unified response from the West under US leadership was historically necessary. From here it was but a short way for the Shachtmanists to embrace the Cold War opposition to the USSR, and for the heirs of this to continue as enthusiasts for US foreign policy to the present-day, even spawning the phenomenon oddly named ‘neo-conservatism’.

            By 1950 Stalinism had become the major problem for world socialism, Shachtman now writing as head of the Independent Socialist League:

‘The principal new problem faced by Marxian theory, and therewith Marxian practice, is the problem of Stalinism. What once appeared to many to be either an academic or “foreign” problem is now, it should at last be obvious, a decisive problem for all classes in all countries. If it is understood as a purely Russian phenomenon or as a problem “in itself,” it is of course not understood at all.’[lxxvii]


From a dialectical perspective, to the Shachtmanists capitalism was as doomed to self-destruction as ever. It was Stalinism that was emerging triumphant. It might then be considered that from a dialectical perspective the Shachtmanist move as apologists for the USA in the Cold War was to fulfil a revolutionary mission in the first instance of destroying Stalinism, which would be proceeded by the self-destruction of capitalism, upon which world socialism could at last emerge. Natalie Sedova, Trotsky’s widow, endorsed the Shachtmanist line.

It was this bellicose anti-Sovietism that brought Shachtmanists into the US foreign policy establishment during the Cold War, and beyond. Haberkern, an admirer of Shachtman’s early commitment to Trotskyism and opposition to Stalinism and the Roosevelt Administration, was to lament:

‘There is, unfortunately, a sad footnote to Shachtman’s career. Beginning in the 50s he began to move to the right in response to the discouraging climate of the Cold War. He ended up a Cold Warrior and apologist for the Meany wing of the AFL-CIO. But that should not diminish the value of his earlier contributions.’[lxxviii]


Congress for Cultural Freedom

Another faction of Trotskyists came to the same conclusions in regard to the USSR and came to the same place in regard to supporting US foreign policy during the Cold War, and beyond. This centred around the ‘life-long Menshevik’ Prof. Sidney Hook, a leading Trotskyist intellectual who had co-founded the Dewey Commission with his mentor Prof. John Dewey to refute the allegations against Trotsky at the Moscow Trials. Hook, reverting back to the pre-war Trotskyist counter-revolutionary position was to state:

‘Give me a hundred million dollars and a thousand dedicated people, and I will guarantee to generate such a wave of democratic unrest among the masses--yes, even among the soldiers--of Stalin's own empire, that all his problems for a long period of time to come will be internal. I can find the people.’[lxxix]


Hook had been an enthusiast for the USSR until 1933, when he accused Stalin of pursuing a Russian national line rather than that of world revolution. Shachtman as head of the Socialist Workers’ Party was to say of Hook in 1938, ‘nine times out of ten agrees with the [Socialist Workers’] party.’ Hook was a co-founder of the American Workers Party and promoted its merger with Socialist Workers’ Party to form the Workers Party of the United States, although Hook did not join that or any other party. Hook’s organisational efforts were founded on the American Committee for Cultural Freedom organised in 1938[lxxx] with John Dewey. In 1948 Hook’s Americans for Intellectual Freedom came to the attention of the Office of Political Coordination, a newly formed branch of the CIA, under Cord Meyer. From these moves the Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF) was founded in 1951.

The founding conference of the CCF was held at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in 1949, as the direct rival to a Soviet-sponsored peace conference at the Waldorf supported by a number of the American literati. The CIA article states:

“A handful of liberal and socialist writers, led by philosophy professor Sidney Hook, saw their chance to steal a little of the publicity expected for the Waldorf peace conference. A fierce ex-Communist himself, Hook was then teaching at New York University and editing a socialist magazine called The New Leader. Ten years earlier he and his mentor John Dewey had founded a controversial group called the Committee for Cultural Freedom, which attacked both Communism and Nazism. He now organized a similar committee to harass the peace conference in the Waldorf-Astoria.”[lxxxi]


The periodical Hook was editing, The New Leader, was a Marxist publication whose executive editor from 1937-1961 was a Russian emigrant, Sol Levitas, a Menshevik who had been mayor of Vladivostok[lxxxii] and who had worked with the Bolshevik leaders Trotsky and Bukharin.[lxxxiii] Saunders quotes Tom Braden of the CIA as stating that The New Leader was kept alive through subsidies that Braden gave to Levitas.[lxxxiv] Partisan Review[lxxxv] was another Leftist magazine saved from financial ruin by the CIA and certain CIA-connected wealthy patrons such as Rockefellers, after an appeal for funds from Hook.[lxxxvi]

The CCF was able to recruit some prominent Leftists, including David Rousset, editor of Franc-Tireus[lxxxvii]; and Melvin J Lasky[lxxxviii], who had edited The New Leader and was editing Der Monat, a US sponsored newspaper in Germany, and later the influential magazine Encounter;[lxxxix] and Franz Borkenau, a German academic who had been the official historian of the Comintern,[xc] had fallen afoul of the Communist Party as a Trotskyist, and who became one of the founding members of the CCF.

A socialist conference was called in Berlin in 1950, organised by Lasky, Ruth Fischer, formerly a leader of the German Communist party who had been expelled from the party along with her faction by orders from Moscow; and the above named Franz Borkenau [xci] Honorary chairmen included John Dewey and the anti-nuclear weapons campaigner and pacifist guru, philosopher Bertrand Russell.[xcii] The CIA states of this conference:

“Agency files reveal the true origins of the Berlin conference. Besides setting the Congress in motion, the Berlin conference in 1950 helped to solidify CIA’s emerging strategy of promoting the non-Communist left--the strategy that would soon become the theoretical foundation of the Agency’s political operations against Communism over the next two decades.”[xciii]


Hook and Shachtman veered increasingly towards a pro-US position to the point that Hook while maintaining his commitment to social-democracy, voted for Nixon and publicly defended Reagan policies.

During the 1960s, Hook critiqued the New Left and became an outspoken supporter of the Vietnam War. In 1984 he was selected by the National Endowment for the Humanities to give the annual Jefferson Lecture, ‘the highest honor the federal government confers for distinguished intellectual achievement in the humanities’. [xciv] On 23 May 1985 Hook was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Reagan. Edward S Shapiro writing in the American ‘conservative’ journal First Principles, summaries Hook’s position thus:

‘One of America’s leading anticommunist intellectuals, Hook supported American entry into the Korean War, the isolation of Red China, the efforts of the United States government to maintain a qualitative edge in nuclear weapons, the Johnson administration’s attempt to preserve a pro-western regime in South Vietnam, and the campaign of the Reagan administration to overthrow the communist regime in Nicaragua.

‘Those both within and outside of conservative circles viewed Hook as one of the gurus of the neoconservative revival during the 1970s and 1980s. In 1985, President Reagan presented Hook with the Presidential Medal of Freedom for being one of the first “to warn the intellectual world of its moral obligations and personal stake in the struggle between freedom and totalitarianism.’[xcv]


In the 1960s Shachtmanism aligned with the Democratic Party and was also involved with the New Left. By the mid 1960s such was the Shachtmanist opposition to the USSR that they had arrived on issues of American foreign policy that were the same as Hook’s, including supporting the American presence in Vietnam. In 1972 the Shachtmanists endorsed Leftist Senator Henry Jackson for the Democratic presidential nomination against Leftist George McGovern whom they regarded as an appeaser toward the Soviets. Jackson was both pro-war and vehemently anti-Soviet, advocating a ‘hawkish’ position on foreign policy towards the USSR. Like Hook, Jackson was also awarded the Medal of Freedom by Reagan in 1984. At this time Tom Kahn, a prominent Shachtmanist and an organizer of the AFL-CIO, who will be considered below, was Jackson’s chief speechwriter.[xcvi] Many of Jackson’s aides were to become prominent in the ‘neo-conservative’ movement, including veteran Trotskyists Paul Wolfowitz, Elliott Abrams, Richard Perle, and Douglas Feith, all of whom became prominent in the Administration of George H W Bush, as well as being noted for a neo-Cold War stance on an aggressive American foreign policy.

            Tom Kahn, who remained an avid follower of Shachtman, explained his mentor’s position on the USA in Vietnam in this way, while insisting that Shachtman never compromised as a ‘socialist’:

‘His views on Vietnam were, and are, unpopular on the Left. He had no allusions about the South Vietnamese government, but neither was he confused about the totalitarian nature of the North Vietnamese regime. In the South there were manifest possibilities for a democratic development… He knew that those democratic possibilities would be crushed if Hanoi’s military takeover of the South succeeded. He considered the frustration of the attempt to be a worthy objective of American policy…’[xcvii]


            This position in it own right can be readily justified by dialectics, as the basis for the support of Trotskyist factions, including those of both Hook and Shachtman during the Cold War, and the present legacy of the so-called ‘neo-cons’ in backing American foreign policy as the manifestation of a ‘global democratic revolution’, as a development of Trotsky’s ‘world proletarian revolution.’


NATIONAL Endowment for Demcoracy


It was from this milieu that the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) was formed, which in many ways seems to be a continuation of the CIA controlled Congress for Cultural Freedom of the Cold War era updated for the present.

President George W Bush embraced the world revolutionary mission of the USA, stating in 2003 to the National Endowment for Democracy that the war in Iraq as the latest front in the ‘global democratic revolution’ led by the United States. ‘The revolution under former president Ronald Reagan freed the people of Soviet-dominated Europe, he declared, and is destined now to liberate the Middle East as well’, reported The Washington Post. [xcviii]

NED was established in 1983 at the prompting of Shachtmanist veteran Tom Kahn, cited above, and endorsed by an Act of Congress introduced by Congressman George Agree. Carl Gershman, [xcix] a Shachtmanist, was appointed president of NED in 1984, and remains so. Gershman had been a founder and Executive Director (1974-1980) of Social Democrats USA (SD-USA).[c] Among the founding directors of NED was Albert Glotzer, a national committee member of the SD-USA, who had served as Trotsky’s bodyguard and secretary in Turkey in 1931,[ci] and who had assisted Shachtman with founding the Workers Party of the United States.

Congressman Agree and Kahn believed that the USA needed a means, apart from the CIA, of supporting subversive movements against the USSR. Kahn, who became International Affairs Director of the AFL-CIO, was particularly spurred by the need to support the Solidarity movement in Poland, and had been involved with AFL-CIO meetings with Leftists from Latin America and South Africa. [cii]

Kahn had joined the Young Socialist League, the youth wing of Shachtman’s Independent Socialist League, [ciii] and the Young People’s Socialist League, which he continued to support until his death in 1992. Kahn was impressed by the Shachtman opposition to the USSR as the primary obstacle to world socialism. [civ] He built up an anti-Soviet network throughout the world in ‘opposition to the accommodationist policies of détente’.[cv] There was a particular focus on assisting Solidarity in Poland from 1980.[cvi] Racehlle Horowitz’s eulogy to Kahn ends with her confidence that had he been alive, he would have been a vigorous supporter of the war in Iraq. [cvii]

NED is funded by Congress and supports “activists and scholars” with 1000 grants in over 90 countries. NED describes its program thus: [cviii]

“From time to time Congress has provided special appropriations to the Endowment to carry out specific democratic initiatives in countries of special interest, including Poland (through the trade union Solidarity), Chile, Nicaragua, Eastern Europe (to aid in the democratic transition following the demise of the Soviet bloc), South Africa, Burma, China, Tibet, North Korea and the Balkans. With the latter, NED supported a number of civic groups, including those that played a key role in Serbia's electoral breakthrough in the fall of 2000. More recently, following 9/11 and the NED Board’s adoption of its third strategic document, special funding has been provided for countries with substantial Muslim populations in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia.”[cix]



The accusation by the Stalinists at the Moscow Trials of the 1930s was that the Trotskyists were agents of foreign powers and would reintroduce capitalism. The crisis in Marxism caused by the Stalinist regime resulted in such outrage among the Trotskyists that they were willing to what one might metaphorically call ‘sell one’s soul to the devil’ (capitalism) in order to bring down the Soviet edifice, which even after Stalin’s death remained a ‘collectivist bureaucracy’ that had become the primary obstacle to socialism, to the extent that the USA was considered the only viable option of opposing this perceived travesty of the Marxist dream. As the Trotskyists became increasingly agitated by the rise of the USSR, and the persecution of their comrades not only in the USSR but beyond, as well as the majority within world communism having remained loyal to Stalin, they turned ever more to a pro-American position, until metamorphosing to such an extent that by the time of the implosion of the Soviet bloc, these Trotskyists and their heirs had become proponents of US global hegemony, seeing America as the vanguard of social democracy; the mecca of a world revolution. While rationalised by the Trotskyists dialectically, this ideological shift can also be seen as fulfilling the allegations of the Stalinists in that Trotskyism did indeed to a significant extent become the agency of foreign powers and of world capitalism.


[i] Robert Conquest, The Great Terror: A Reassessment. (Oxford, Britain: Oxford University Press, 1990), 468.

[ii] Ibid.

[iii] Established by Dewey and Trotskyist Sidney Hook, the Commission of Inquiry into the Charges Made Against Leon Trotsky in the Moscow Trials, commonly known as the Dewey Commission, was set up in the USA in May 1937.

[iv] N S Khrushchev, ‘Secret Address at the Twentieth Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union’, February 1956; Communism in Action: A Documentary History, Henry M Christman (ed.) (New York: Bantam Books, 1969), 165-166.

[v] Ibid., 170.

[vi] Ibid., 171.

[vii] Ibid., 178-179.

[viii] Ibid., 181.

[ix] Antony Sutton, Wall Street and the Bolshevik Revolution (New York: Arlington House Publishers, 1974), 53-63.

[x] Ibid. , 71-86.

[xi] ‘Bolsheviki will not make Separate Peace: Only those who made up privileged classes under Czar would do so, says Col. W B Thompson, just back from Red Cross Mission’, New York Times, 27 January 1918.

[xii] Woodrow Wilson’s principal adviser.

[xiii] Henry Wickham Steed, Through Thirty Years 1892-1922 A personal narrative, ‘The Peace Conference, The Bullitt Mission’, Vol. II.  (New York: Doubleday Page and Co., 1924), 301.

[xiv] Ibid.

[xv] Ibid.

[xvi] Samuel Gompers, ‘Soviet Bribe Fund Here Says Gompers, Has Proof That Offers Have Been Made, He Declares, Opposing Recognition. Propaganda Drive. Charges Strong Group of Bankers With Readiness to Accept Lenin’s Betrayal of Russia’, The New York Times, 1 May 1922.

[xvii] Antony Sutton, op.cit.

[xviii] Richard B Spence, ‘Hidden Agendas: Spies, Lies and Intrigue Surrounding Trotsky’s American Visit, January-April 1917’, Revolutionary Russia, Volume 21, Issue 1 June 2008, 33 – 55.

[xix] Ibid.

[xx] It is more accurate to state that Trotsky managed to straddle both the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks until the impending success of the Bolsheviks in 1917.

[xxi] Spence, op.cit.

[xxii] Ibid.

[xxiii] Ibid.

[xxiv] Military Intelligence Division, 9140-6073, Memorandum # 2, 23 August 1918, 2. Cited by Spence, op.cit.

[xxv] Spence, ibid.

[xxvi] Wiseman became a partner in 1929.

[xxvii] ‘Sir William’s New Bank’, Time, 17 October 1955.

[xxviii] The foregoing on Trotsky’s associations from Spain to New York and his transit back to Russia are indebted to Spence, op.cit.

[xxix] Edward M. House, ed. Charles Seymour, The Intimate Papers of Col. House (New York: Houghton, Mifflin Co.), Vol. III, p.421.

[xxx] Peter Grosse, Continuing The Inquiry: The Council on Foreign Relations from 1921 to 1996, (New York: Council on Foreign Relations, 2006), ‘Basic Assumptions’. The entire book can be read online at: (accessed 27 February 2010).

[xxxi] Armand Hammer, Witness to History (London: Coronet Books, 1988), 221.

[xxxii] Ibid., 160.

[xxxiii] Ibid., 221.

[xxxiv] David North, ‘Leon Trotsky and the Fate of Socialism in the 20th Century’, opening lecture to the International Summer School on ‘Marxism and the Fundamental Problems of the 20th Century’, organised by the International Committee of the Fourth International and the Socialist Equality Party of Australia, Sydney, Australia, 3 January 1998. David North is the national secretary of the Socialist Equality Party in the US, and has lectured extensively in Europe, Asia, the US and Russia on Marxism and the program of the Fourth International. (accessed 12 March 2010).

[xxxv] Albert E Kahn and Michael Sayers, The Great Conspiracy Against Russia, (London: Collet’s Holdings Ltd., 1946).

[xxxvi] Antony Sutton, op.cit., 39-42.

[xxxvii] Kahn and Sayers, op.cit. p. 29.

[xxxviii] ‘Calls People War Weary, But Leo Trotsky Says They Do Tot Want Separate Peace’, The New York Times, 16 March 1917.

[xxxix] ‘Gives Bolsheviki a Million’, Washington Post, 2 February 1918, cited by Sutton, op.cit., ., pp. 82-83.

[xl] The New York Times, 27 January 1918, op.cit.

[xli] Kahn and Sayers, op.cit., p. 29.

[xlii] R H Bruce Lockhart, British Agent (London: G P Putnam’s Sons, 1933), Book Four, ‘History From the Inside’, Chapter I.

[xliii] Antony Sutton, op.cit., 84, 86.

[xliv] R H Bruce Lockhart, op.cit.

[xlv] Ibid., Chapter III.

[xlvi] Ibid.

[xlvii] Ibid. Lockhart observed that while the German peace terms received 112 votes from the Central Executive Committee of the Bolshevik Party, there had been 86 against, and 25 abstentions, among the latter of whom was Trotsky.

[xlviii] Ibid., Chapter IV.

[xlix] That at least was the perception of Stalinists of Trotsky’s depiction by the West, as portrayed by Kahn and Sayers, op.cit., 194.

[l] Kahn and Sayers cite a number of Lenin’s statements regarding Trotsky, dating from 1911, when Lenin stated that Trotsky slides from one faction to another and back again, but ultimately ‘I must declare that Trotsky represents his own faction only…’ Ibid., 195.

[li] Ibid., 199.

[lii] Leon Trotsky, Leon Sedov: Son-Friend-Fighter, 1938, cited by Kahn and Sayers, 205.

[liii] Ibid., 204.

[liv] Report of Court Proceedings, The Case of the Trotskyite-Zinovievite United Terrorist Centre’, Heard Before the Military Collegium of the Supreme Court of the USSR, Moscow, August 19-24, 1936, Vol. XXIX, 93, 104.

[lv] R H Bruce Lockhart, op.cit., Book Three: War & Peace, Chapter IX. Lockhart described Savinkov as a professional ‘schemer’, who ‘had mingled so much with spies and agents-provocateurs that, like the hero in his own novel, he hardly knew whether he was deceiving himself or those whom he meant to deceive.’ Lockhart commented that Savinkov had ‘entirely captivated Mr. Churchill, who saw in him a Russian Bonaparte.’

[lvi] Reilly, the British ‘super agent’ although widely known for his anti-Bolshevik views, had prior to his becoming a ‘super spy’ and possibly working for the intelligence agencies of four states, by his own account been arrested in 1892 in Russia by the Okhrana, as a messenger for the Friends of Enlightenment revolutionists.

[lvii] Kahn and Sayers, op.cit., 208.

[lviii] Commissariat of Justice, Report of the Case of the Anti-Soviet ‘Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites’, Heard Before The Military Collegium of the Court of the USSR, Moscow, March 24 1938,  307. 

[lix] Ibid., 288.

[lx]  Ibid. 293.

[lxi] Ibid.

[lxii] Ibid.

[lxiii] Bernice Glatzer Rosenthal, ‘Eschatology and the Appeal of Revolution’, California Slavic Studies, Volume. II, University of California Press, California, 1930, 116.

[lxiv] Ibid.

[lxv] One of the two most prominent according to Trotskyist historian Ernest Haberkern, Introduction to Max Shachtman, (accessed 18 March 20100.

[lxvi] ‘British Trotskyism in 1931’, Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism Online: Revolutionary History, (Accessed 7 March 2010).

[lxvii] Max Shachtman, Behind the Moscow Trial (New York: Pioneer Publishers, 1936).

[lxviii] Max Shachtman, ‘Trotsky Begins the Fight’, The Struggle for the New Course (New York: New International Publishing Co., 1943).

[lxix] Ibid.

[lxx] Ibid.

[lxxi] Leon Trotsky, In Defence of the Soviet Union, Max Shachtman, ‘Introduction.’ (New York: Pioneer Publishers, 1937).

[lxxii] James P Cannon, a veteran Trotskyist and former colleague of Shachtman’s.

[lxxiii] Max Shachtman, ‘The Crisis in the American Party: An Open Letter in Reply to Comrade Leon Trotsky’, New International, Vol.6 No.2, March 1940), 43-51.

[lxxiv] Max Shachtman, ‘The Nature of the Stalinist Parties: Their Class Roots, Political Role and Basic Aim’, The New International: A Monthly Organ of Revolutionary Marxism, Vol.13 No.3, March 1947, 69-74.

[lxxv]Max Shachtman, ‘Stalinism on the Decline: Tito versus Stalin The Beginning of the End of the Russian Empire’, New International, Vol.XIV No.6, August 1948, 172-178.

[lxxvi] Max Shachtman, ‘The Congress of the Fourth International: An Analysis of the Bankruptcy of “Orthodox Trotskyism”’, New International, Vol.XIV, No.8, October 1948, pp.236-245.

[lxxvii] Max Shachtman, ‘Reflections on a Decade Past: On the Tenth Anniversary of Our Movement’, The New International: A Monthly Organ of Revolutionary Marxism, Vol.16 No.3, May-June 1950, pp.131-144.

[lxxviii] Haberkern, op.cit.

[lxxix] Sidney Hook, 1949, quoted on the CIA website: ‘Cultural Cold War: Origins of the Congress for Cultural Freedom, 1949-50’; (accessed 26 January 2010).

[lxxx] Hook also served as a ‘contract consultant’ for the CIA. Frances Stonor Saunders, The Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of Arts and Letters (New York: the New Press, 1999), 157.

[lxxxi] CIA website:  Cultural Cold War: Origins of the Congress for Cultural Freedom, 1949-50’; op.cit. (accessed 26 January 2010). As is often the case, these Trotskyists are disingenuously referred to as ‘ex-communists” and “anti-communists”. More precise terms would be “anti-Stalinist” and “anti-USSR.’

[lxxxii] Myron Kolatch, ‘Who We Are and Where We Came From’, The New Leader, (accessed 27 January 2010). The New Leader stopped publication as a print edition and became online in 2006.

[lxxxiii] Saunders, op.cit., 163.

[lxxxiv] Saunders, op.cit., 163.

[lxxxv] Saunders describes Partisan Review as having been founded in the 1930s by ‘a group of Trotskyites from City College, originating in the Communist Party front group, the John Reed Club’. Saunders, ibid., p. 160. When Partisan Review was on the verge of bankruptcy Sidney Hook appealed for assistance, and Henry Luce, the publisher of Time, gave a grant of $10,000, while donating Time Inc. shares to the American Committee for Cultural Freedom. (Saunders, ibid., 162). Partisan Review, whose editor William Phillips was cultural secretary of the American Committee of Cultural Freedom, continued to received CIA funding, as did The New Leader. Saunders, ibid., 163.

[lxxxvi] Ibid., p. 231.

[lxxxvii] Ibid., p. 221.

[lxxxviii] Ibid., pp. 27-28.

[lxxxix] Tunku Varadarajan, ‘A Brief Encounter, Melvin Lasky is a legend. Better yet, he dislikes Maureen Dowd’, The Wall Street Journal, 6 April , 2001, (accessed 27 January 2010).

[xc] Communist International. Saunders, op.cit., p 71.

[xci] Saunders, ibid., p. 71. Ruth Fischer was the sister of Gerhard Eisler, who had been Stalin's chief agent in the USA.

[xcii] Russell was a patron of the CCF. Saunders, op.cit., 91.

[xciii] CIA website:  Cultural Cold War: Origins of the Congress for Cultural Freedom, 1949-50’; op.cit.

[xciv] Sidney Hook, ‘Education in Defense of a Free Society’, 1984, Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities, National Endowment for Humanities, (accessed 19 March 2010).

[xcv] Edward S Shapiro, ‘Hook, Sidney’, First Principles: The Home of American Intellectual Conservatism, 3 July 2009, (accessed 19 March 2010).

[xcvi] Tom Kahn, ‘Max Shachtman: His Ideas and His Movement’, Editor’s Note on Kahn, Dissent Magazine, p. 252 (accessed 19 March 2010).  (accessed 19 March 20100.

[xcvii] Tom Kahn, Democratiya 11, 2007, reprinted in Dissent Magazine, ibid., 258.

[xcviii] Fred Barbash, “Bush: Iraq Part of ‘Global Democratic Revolution’: Liberation of Middle East Portrayed as Continuation of Reagan's Policies”, Washington Post, 6 November 6, 2003.

[xcix] Gershman served as Senior Counsellor to the United States Representative to the United Nations beginning in 1981. As it happens, the Representative he was advising was fellow Social Democrats comrade, Jeane Kirkpatrick, who had begun her political career in the (Trotskyist) Young People’s Socialist League, a branch of the Shachtmanist-orientated Socialist Party, as had many other ‘neo-cons.’

[c] The Social Democrats USA had originated in 1972 after a split with the Trotskyist-orientated Socialist Party. The honorary chairman of the Social Democrats USA until his death in 1984 was Prof. Sidney Hook.

[ci] Glotzer was a leading Trotskyist. Expelled from the Communist Party USA in 1928 along with Max Shachtman, they founded the Communist League and the subsequent factions. When the Socialist Party factionalised in 1972 Glotzer joined the Social Democrats – USA faction, which remained closest to Shachtmanism, and which supported US foreign policy. Even in 1981 Glotzer was still involved with luminaries of the Socialist Workers Party. “British Trotskyism in 1931”, Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism Online: Revolutionary History, (Accessed 7 March 2010).

[cii] Rachelle Horowitz, “Tom Kahn and the Fight for Democracy: A Political Portrait and Personal Recollection”, Dissent Magazine, pp. 238-239. (Accessed 8 March 2010).

[ciii] Ibid., p. 209.

[civ] Ibid. p 211.

[cv] Ibid., p. 234.

[cvi] Ibid., p. 235.

[cvii] Ibid., p. 246.

[cviii] ‘About NED’, National Endowment for Democracy, (accessed 7 March 2010).

[cix] David Lowe, ‘Idea to Reality: NED at 25: Reauthorization’, NED, (accessed 7 March 2010).