Trotsky, Stalin and the Cold War
The Historic Implications and Continuing Ramifications of the
Word count: 9,677
Trotsky, Stalin and the Cold War
The Historic Implications and Continuing Ramifications of the
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
and legalities of the Trials had both influential apologists and critics in the
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.
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
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
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
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
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’.
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
being penniless in
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
Trotsky and several of his entourage were arrested on 29 March at
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
Armand Hammer, head of Occidental Petroleum, son of the aforementioned Julius Hammer who
had been the Trotsky family’s mentor in
The CFR report on the
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Coincidentally, ‘an anti-German peace in
Trotsky intended that the World War would be transformed
into a revolutionary war, with the starting point being revolutions in
‘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
Given Trotsky’s position in regard to
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
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,
The Stalinists allege that in 1924 a leading Trotskyist, Christian Rakovsky, arrived in
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 Britain .[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 China 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: USSR
‘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
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
Polandin 1919 where he tried to organize ‘the evacuation committee’ within the Polish armies then attacking .[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. Russia
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, 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.
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
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
While in 1937 Shachtman
declared that the
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
‘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
‘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
‘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
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
It was this bellicose
anti-Sovietism that brought Shachtmanists into the
‘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]
of Trotskyists came to the same conclusions in regard to the
‘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]
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
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
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.
socialist conference was called in
“Agency files reveal the true origins of the
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
Kahn, who remained an avid follower of Shachtman, explained his mentor’s
position on the
‘His views on
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
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
Congressman Agree and Kahn believed that the
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
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
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.
[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
[iv] N S Khrushchev, ‘Secret Address at the Twentieth Congress of the Communist
Party of the
[v] Ibid., 170.
[vi] Ibid., 171.
[vii] Ibid., 178-179.
[viii] Ibid., 181.
[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.
[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
[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.
[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.
[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
[xxix] Edward M. House, ed. Charles Seymour, The Intimate Papers of
Col. House (
[xxx] Peter Grosse, Continuing The Inquiry: The Council on
Foreign Relations from 1921 to 1996, (
[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
[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.
[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
[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, , March 24 1938, 307. Moscow
[lix] Ibid., 288.
[lx] Ibid. 293.
[lxiii] Bernice Glatzer Rosenthal, ‘Eschatology and the Appeal of
[lxv] One of the two most prominent according to Trotskyist historian Ernest Haberkern, Introduction to Max Shachtman, http://www.marxists.org/archive/shachtma/intro.htm (accessed 18 March 20100.
[lxvi] ‘British Trotskyism in 1931’, Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism Online: Revolutionary History, http://www.marxists.org/history/etol/revhist/backiss/vol1/no1/glotzer.html (Accessed 7 March 2010).
[lxvii] Max Shachtman, Behind the
[lxviii] Max Shachtman, ‘Trotsky Begins the Fight’, The Struggle for the New Course (New York: New International Publishing Co., 1943).
[lxxi] Leon Trotsky, In
Defence of the
[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’;
https://www.cia.gov/library/center-for-the-study-of-intelligence/kent-csi/docs/v38i5a10p.htm#rft1 (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, http://www.thenewleader.com/pdf/who-we-are.pdf (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.
describes Partisan Review as having been founded in the 1930s by ‘a
group of Trotskyites from
[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, http://www.opinionjournal.com/taste/?id=90000394 (accessed 27 January 2010).
[xc] Communist International. Saunders, op.cit., p 71.
[xci] Saunders, ibid.,
p. 71. Ruth Fischer was the
Gerhard Eisler, who had been Stalin's chief agent in the
[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, http://www.neh.gov/whoweare/jefflect.html (accessed 19 March 2010).
[xcv] Edward S Shapiro, ‘Hook, Sidney’, First Principles: The Home of American Intellectual Conservatism, 3 July 2009, http://www.firstprinciplesjournal.com/articles.aspx?article=699&loc=r (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). http://www.dissentmagazine.org/democratiya/article_pdfs/d11Khan.pdf (accessed 19 March 20100.
[xcvii] Tom Kahn, Democratiya 11, 2007, reprinted in Dissent Magazine, ibid., 258.
[xcviii] Fred Barbash, “Bush:
[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 –
[cii] Rachelle Horowitz, “Tom Kahn and the Fight for Democracy: A Political Portrait and Personal Recollection”, Dissent Magazine, pp. 238-239. http://www.dissentmagazine.org/democratiya/article_pdfs/d11Horowitz.pdf (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, http://www.ned.org/about (accessed 7 March 2010).
[cix] David Lowe, ‘Idea to Reality: NED at 25: Reauthorization’, NED, http://www.ned.org/about/history (accessed 7 March 2010).