Discussion: "Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites”

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Discussion: "Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites”

Postby Denying-History » Thu May 11, 2017 3:31 pm

This is a repost from another forum. I am its author.
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For anyone interested on the subject, it's center around the Moscow trials. Anyone with a basic understanding of soviet history knows these primarily as show trials, but they generally do not know the slight hints of truth to the testimonies. Which is the existence of the Bloc, considering that Trotsky denied it's existence. Pierre Broué published an article on the Bloc back in January of 1980. This article is commonly used by Stalin's apologist's to attempt as a defense of the Moscow trials testimonies. One example of such is English professor Grover Furr (a “revisionist” on a career-long quest to exonerate Stalin - Cathy Young):

The late Pierre Broué, one of the world’s premier Trotskyist scholars and a person who enjoyed widespread respect from anticommunist scholars, concluded that t his evidence meant little since it only demonstrated the existence of a bloc in 1932. Broué assumed that because the only evidence that was not successfully purged from the archive happened to be from 1932 that must have been the only time the “bloc” existed. . .In truth Broué did not know that the bloc was “ephemeral,” or that it had existed only in 1932. To be sure, the only evidence of the bloc that remains in the Harvard Trotsky archive is from 1932. But the archive has been purged! Neither Broué nor anyone else has any way of knowing what evidence once existed or how long the bloc lasted.


http://clogic.eserver.org/2009/furr.pdf

I am not here to attempt to defend Furr though. I am only wanting to cause discussion around some of his claims or at least have a location where I discuss my issues with his writings. To start I would like to point out a lack of evidence for one of Furr's claims, the trials have no evidence outside the confessions. The evidence that they did present was quite often, generally fabricated. To give an example of what I mean one can look at Trotsky's alleged open letter found on Holtzman that was found "between the double walls of Holtzman's suitcase" (Report of Court Proceedings p. 127) However Holtzman rejected this with his own evidence considering "Trotsky could not put it in writing, and so I accepted it in verbal form and communicated the exact sense on my arrival in Moscow". (p. 101) which means that no letter was to be found. Assuming the letter was not a forgery however also hurts Furr's notion of a terrorist bloc and actually supports Broué's assertion. To quote it "Stalin has lead you to an impasse. You cannot come out on the road without liquidating Stalinism. You must trust the working class, give the proletarian vanguard the opportunity through free criticism from top to bottom to review the whole Soviet system and pitilessly cleanse it of the accumulated rubbish. It is time, finally, to fulfill the last urgent advice of Lenin: to remove Stalin." (Shachtman: Behind the Moscow Trial, p. 80) This is actually in reference not to killing Stalin as the Moscow court insisted, but is actually a reference to Lenin's testament (which has strong evidence for its authenticity, even Stalin viewed the document as being authentic).

Furr also rejects Pierre Broué's notion of the Bloc being short lived. Although it seems another one of his favorite sources J Arch Getty accepts Pierre Broué notion. Furr's reason for such a rejection if true would be justified, but Furr, however, does not have legitimate evidence for the archives being "purged". His evidence for the archive being "purged" (while also seditiously making a claim that Is arguably contradictory to his assertion) is a recently published article by the Sweedish apologist Sven-Eric Holmström who has attempted to resurrect Holtzman's claims about having met with Trotsky's son at the Hotel Bristol, claiming that a "Bristol Cafe" was located close to the Copenhagen Grand Hotel. "There is no ‘new evidence’ in Holmström’s paper" (Mike Jones) and it just "Martin Nielsen’s old article from the Communist Party of Denmark’s daily paper and some old photographs which prove nothing." (Mike Jones) No Hotel Bristol existed, and Furr's evidence of the archives being purged is worthless and doesn't amount to proving anything about Trotsky being a Nazi-Japanese collaborator. The issues with the testimonies are outlined as following by Pierre Broué:

As we know, the indictment, which started from the existence of the “bloc” in 1932, and relied on the confessions extracted by torture and blackmail from broken men, declared that Trotsky had then given “terrorist instructions and directives” to his supporters and, in particular, had organised the assassination of Kirov. Trotsky’s friends, following the line of Sedov and of Trotsky himself, had no difficulty in showing how improbable and stupid was the argument about a “centre” which functioned when practically all its members were in exile or in jail.


So what can we learn from all this?

1) That the Stalinist position is wrong.

2) That Trotsky had good reason to lie about the block not existing, why provide Stalin more ammunition for a short-lived block of opposition?

3) That one should not trust the confessions.
Last edited by Denying-History on Wed Dec 06, 2017 8:55 am, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Discussion: "Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites”

Postby Upton_O_Goode » Mon May 15, 2017 12:31 am

Denying-History wrote:This is a repost from another forum. I am its author.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
For anyone interested on the subject, it's center around the Moscow trials. Anyone with a basic understanding of soviet history knows these primarily as show trials, but they generally do not know the slight hints of truth to the testimonies. Which is the existence of the Bloc, considering that Trotsky denied it's existence. Pierre Broué published an article on the Bloc back in January of 1980. This article is commonly used by Stalin's apologist's to attempt as a defense of the Moscow trials testimonies. One example of such is English professor Grover Furr (a “revisionist” on a career-long quest to exonerate Stalin - Cathy Young):

The late Pierre Broué, one of the world’s premier Trotskyist scholars and a person who enjoyed widespread respect from anticommunist scholars, concluded that t his evidence meant little since it only demonstrated the existence of a bloc in 1932. Broué assumed that because the only evidence that was not successfully purged from the archive happened to be from 1932 that must have been the only time the “bloc” existed. . .In truth Broué did not know that the bloc was “ephemeral,” or that it had existed only in 1932. To be sure, the only evidence of the bloc that remains in the Harvard Trotsky archive is from 1932. But the archive has been purged! Neither Broué nor anyone else has any way of knowing what evidence once existed or how long the bloc lasted.


http://clogic.eserver.org/2009/furr.pdf

I am not here to attempt to defend Furr though. I am only wanting to cause discussion around some of his claims or at least have a location where I discuss my issues with his writings. To start I would like to point out a lack of evidence for one of Furr's claims, the trials have no evidence outside the confessions. The evidence that they did present was quite often, generally fabricated. To give an example of what I mean one can look at Trotsky's alleged letter to Holtzman that was found "between the double walls of Holtzman's suitcase" (Report of Court Proceedings p. 127) However Holtzman rejected this with his own evidence considering "Trotsky could not put it in writing, and so I accepted it in verbal form and communicated the exact sense on my arrival in Moscow". (p. 101) which means that no letter was to be found. Assuming the letter was not a forgery however also hurts Furr's notion of a terrorist bloc and actually supports Broué's assertion. To quote it "Stalin has lead you to an impasse. You cannot come out on the road without liquidating Stalinism. You must trust the working class, give the proletarian vanguard the opportunity through free criticism from top to bottom to review the whole Soviet system and pitilessly cleanse it of the accumulated rubbish. It is time, finally, to fulfill the last urgent advice of Lenin: to remove Stalin." (Shachtman: Behind the Moscow Trial, p. 80) This is actually in reference not to killing Stalin as the Moscow court insisted, but is actually a reference to Lenin's testament (which has strong evidence for its authenticity, even Stalin viewed the document as being authentic).

Furr also rejects Pierre Broué's notion of the Bloc being short lived. Although it seems another one of his favorite sources J Arch Getty accepts Pierre Broué notion. Furr's reason for such a rejection if true would be justified, but Furr, however, does not have legitimate evidence for the archives being "purged". His evidence for the archive being "purged" (while also seditiously making a claim that Is arguably contradictory to his assertion) is a recently published article by the Sweedish apologist Sven-Eric Holmström who has attempted to resurrect Holtzman's claims about having met with Trotsky's son at the Hotel Bristol, claiming that a "Bristol Cafe" was located close to the Copenhagen Grand Hotel. "There is no ‘new evidence’ in Holmström’s paper" (Mike Jones) and it just "Martin Nielsen’s old article from the Communist Party of Denmark’s daily paper and some old photographs which prove nothing." (Mike Jones) No Hotel Bristol existed, and Furr's evidence of the archives being purged is worthless and doesn't amount to proving anything about Trotsky being a Nazi-Japanese collaborator. The issues with the testimonies are outlined as following by Pierre Broué:

As we know, the indictment, which started from the existence of the “bloc” in 1932, and relied on the confessions extracted by torture and blackmail from broken men, declared that Trotsky had then given “terrorist instructions and directives” to his supporters and, in particular, had organised the assassination of Kirov. Trotsky’s friends, following the line of Sedov and of Trotsky himself, had no difficulty in showing how improbable and stupid was the argument about a “centre” which functioned when practically all its members were in exile or in jail.


So what can we learn from all this?

1) That the Stalinist position is wrong.

2) That Trotsky had good reason to lie about the block not existing, why provide Stalin more ammunition for a short-lived block of opposition?

3) That one should not trust the confessions.


I'm glad to see this topic up here, as I have some familiarity with it. I think your conclusions are sound. Certainly, the Soviet press of the time put forth conspiracy theories that would embarrass the 9/11 truthers here. For example, in the Newsletter of the USSR Academy of Sciences (Vestnik Akademii Nauk SSSR), 1936, Nos. 8 and 9, which appeared just after the trial of Zinov'ev and Kamenev, you can read the following (my translation, although it has been published):

On 24 August a military tribunal of the Supreme Court of the USSR handed down a sentence in the case of the Trotskii--Zinov'ev terrorist center. In its sentence the court expressed the will of the multi-million population of the Soviet Union, which is demanding merciless punishment for the gang of vicious murderers who have plotted against the happy and free life of our country and the life of the best people of our homeland, against the great leader, teacher, and friend of the workers of the world, Iosif Vissarionovich Stalin.

During the trial, this vile band of murderers, still polluting the Soviet land with their presence, told the court with the efficiency of professional murderers about the skullduggery they had carried out and were planning to carry out. This rabble of humanity, united in the Trotskii--Zinov'ev center, used methods of provocation, treachery, and lies unprecedented in human history to carry out their vile activity. All the most dishonorable and criminal weapons in the filthiest arsenals of the dregs of humanity were used in their struggle. This web of provocations, diversions, espionage and murders was woven over many years. The death of the tribune beloved of the people---the ardent warrior in the cause of Lenin and Stalin, the exemplary man Sergei Mironovich Kirov---was the doing of these thrice-contemptible murderers. There were no crimes not listed in the confessions of Zinov'ev, Kamenev, Evdokimov, Smirnov, Bakaev, and other murderers. And they were all inseparably bound up with the name of the main criminal and inspiration of all these evildoings, the name and the actions of the Judas Trotskii. It was he, Trotskii, who united the murderers in the Trotskii--Zinov'ev center for conducting terrorism against the great leaders of Communism. It was he, Trotskii, who together with the German secret fascist police (Gestapo) wove a diversionary network of spies into the most important areas of the economy and defense of the socialist land. It was he, Trotskii, who provoked war against the Soviet Union, dreaming of taking power into his own hands. This despised Judas has been condemned by the court of history as a vile traitor and the chief of murderers.

Spontaneous meetings occurred all over the country throughout the trial of the Trotskii--Zinov'ev band, meetings at which voice was given to the angry demands of the people for the harshest possible punishment of the traitors---``crush the reptile, shoot the participants in the Trotskii--Zinov'ev terrorist band!''---such was the unanimous will of our whole country. To these powerful voices of millions, the scholars of our country added their own: ``Annihilate without mercy the vilest enemies of the Soviet land,'' was their demand in their communication to the Supreme Court of the Soviet Union. And in complete accord with the demand of the working masses, the government prosecutor, Comrade Vyshinskii concluded his prosecutorial speech by saying to the Supreme Court: ``I demand that mad dogs be shot, down to the last one.'' The Soviet court carried out the will of the people and the duty of justice.

The trial of the participants of the Trotskii--Zinov'ev center took place while our whole country was preparing to celebrate the anniversary of the Stakhanovite movement, to present the results of the fantastically powerful blossoming of new socialist forms of labor. The growth of the Stakhanovite movement is an integral part of the burgeoning of all areas of the economy and culture of the USSR. These achievements were made by the peoples of the USSR under the leadership of the All-Union Communist Party of Bolsheviks and its Leninist--Stalinist Central Committee. This path of historical triumphs has been traversed by our country under the leadership of the great architect of socialism Comrade Stalin. We owe all our achievements to the genius of our leader. The evidence of these achievements is the draft Stalin Constitution, which incarnates the results of the titanic activity of the Soviet people and reflects the solidly won conditions of happy and joyful life in the Soviet Union.


That people actually believed a whole gang of terrorist murderers had maneuvered their way into high positions in the Academy of Sciences seems amazing. I suppose one had to be there. Certainly, the West was out to get the USSR from the very beginning, what with the armed intervention, and all the refugees putting pressure on Western governments to overthrow the Communists. No doubt, this made such stories seem not too far-fetched. I know how much America has always hated Communists. J. Edgar Hoover was totally obsessed with domestic subversion beyond all bounds of reason. And Britain also took a strong line against the Communists. Well, after all, the Romanovs were cousins to the Royal Family. In fact, George V and Nikolai II almost look like twins.

Trotskii's writings were an inspiration to Bernie Sanders, whom I particularly like. Whether things would have been better had Trotskii prevailed over Stalin, I'm not absolutely sure, but I'm inclined to think the chances would have been good.

Trotskii, by the way, as I learned only today, had an affair with Churchill's cousin Clare Sheridan, who had a long life filled with Communist connections and with love affairs, including affairs with Charlie Chaplin and Mussolini. Like Will Rogers, she never met a man she didn't like.
"Reserve a part of your wrath ; you have not seen the worst yet. You suppose that this war has been a criminal blunder and an exceptional horror ; you imagine that before long reason will prevail, and all these inferior people that govern the world will be swept aside, and your own party will reform everything and remain always in office. You are mistaken."

George Santayana, "Tipperary" (1918)

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Re: Discussion: "Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites”

Postby Upton_O_Goode » Mon May 15, 2017 12:54 am

On Trotsky's political orientation, having read the two-volume biography written by the late Dmitrii Volkogonov (1994), I'm still uncertain, though he was certainly less paranoid than Stalin. Volkogonov makes a strong point about the following words of Kropotkin, which Trotsky apparently underlined, and next to which he apparently placed a large question mark in the margin:

Kropotkin wrote: Every revolutionary dreams of a dictatorship, whether a "dictatorship of the proletariat," that is, of leaders, as Marx said, or the dictatorship of a revolutionary corps of officers, as the Blanquists assert...They all dream of revolution as the possibility to annihilate their enemies legally using revolutionary tribunals...They all dream of acquiring power, establishing an omnipotent, all-powerful, all-controlling state that would treat the people as subjects and subordinates, controlling them by use of thousands and millions of bureaucrats of all types...All revolutionaries dream of a "committee of public safety" whose purpose is to eliminate anyone who dares to think otherwise than those who are at the center of power...Finally, they all dream of curbing the appearance of personal initiative in the people itself...that the people should choose its leaders, who will then think for it and enact laws on its behalf...Such is the secret dream of 99 percent of those who call themselves revolutionaries.


I have no idea why Trotskii underlined this (if indeed he did---he borrowed the book from someone else), or what the question mark means. I find it intriguing, though. Kropotkin, of course, whose biography I recently read, was a Quaker-style pacifist and anarchist, who really believed people were good, and all we needed to do was get rid of governments. He did eventually go back to Russia, 50 years after he escaped from prison there, and found himself early on at odds with Lenin. He didn't live long enough after that to see how the Communist experiment was going to work out. I'm sure he would have been disillusioned.

Incidentally, I had always been told Trotsky was killed with an "ice pick," which to me means a pointed stick like a screwdriver with a sharp tip. Not until I read Volkogonov's book did I find out that it was really an ice AXE (al'penshtok in Russian, that is, Alpenstock).
"Reserve a part of your wrath ; you have not seen the worst yet. You suppose that this war has been a criminal blunder and an exceptional horror ; you imagine that before long reason will prevail, and all these inferior people that govern the world will be swept aside, and your own party will reform everything and remain always in office. You are mistaken."

George Santayana, "Tipperary" (1918)

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Re: Discussion: "Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites”

Postby Denying-History » Mon May 15, 2017 2:48 am

It's actually a conspiracy that goes much deeper then that. These testimonies and theories are quite readily defended by Grover Furr. J Arch Getty and Broué have rejected the idea of the Bloc being a terrorist cell, as no evidence exists.

If you think the "Academy of Sciences" maneuvering is bad, apparently Yezhov (according to Furr) was a member of the Bloc as a rightist who entered into his position of power and utilized it in a fashion to kill hundreds of thousands (possibly entering into the millions) of people in an attempt to cause an uprising against the current regime to reinstall capitalism. That was part of the whole myth that apparently the rightist marxists and trotskyists were working along the Nazi's, Imperialist Japanese, English parliament, and United States in an attempt to reinstate capitalism in Russia...

If you are interested in this subject of the purge I would recommend Conquest's 2008 "reassessment" and Getty's "The Road to Terror".
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Re: Discussion: "Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites”

Postby Upton_O_Goode » Mon May 15, 2017 2:45 pm

Thanks for the recommendations. I have Conquest's "Harvest of Sorrow," of course. This, like the Holocaust, has attracted a whole raft of deniers. But Suzanna Labin's book "Stalin's Russia" goes back long before the USSR broke up, and tells the same story.
"Reserve a part of your wrath ; you have not seen the worst yet. You suppose that this war has been a criminal blunder and an exceptional horror ; you imagine that before long reason will prevail, and all these inferior people that govern the world will be swept aside, and your own party will reform everything and remain always in office. You are mistaken."

George Santayana, "Tipperary" (1918)

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Re: Discussion: "Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites”

Postby Denying-History » Thu May 18, 2017 6:36 pm

No problem. HoS is an alright book but is sadly outdated, and one can get more information from the 2008 articles from the Harvard Ukrainian studies. But I guess moving on, one should account for the import pieces of this history. Grover Furr attempts to hold that the Purge was not an action of the Stalinist regime, maintaining that Ezhov was operating beyond government control. Furr maintains that Snyders position about the Terror is wrong however Getty confirms quite a bit of what Snyder has said. To list some examples:

Arrest Quotas (Road to Terror Document p. 471-76)

NKVD instructions on punishing the families of suspects (Road to Terror p. 477)

Torture of suspects (Road to Terror p. 489)

Solitary confinement. (Road to Terror p. 3)

All things mentioned in Conquest 2008, and instead of placing blame on Stalin. Furr directs all blame to Ezhov.
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