Suggested reading on Lenin and the 1917 revolutions?

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Cleishbotham
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Dec 31 2009 15:47

I am grateful for Ret Marut for confirming my earlier judgement that he is only playing silly debating games. Jumping from one empirical point to another and leaving out the actual context in which they were made is not serious. Nor is your dishonest red herring that I referred to Trotsky in 1935 - this was a comment to another poster who thought he would find an answer to the original question in Trotsky's apologia "Revolution Betrayed"

On anti-semitism, the evidence for anti-semitism in Makhno's ranks are in Michael Malet "Nestor Makhno in the Russian Civil War" (Macmillan 1982) p.168-72 and following. Malet is supporter of Makhno and wishes to exonerate (correctly I think) Makhno from the charge of anti-semitism. He does so by underlining the steps Makhno took to prevent his followers from carrying them out and that "any incidents (we shall refer to a few later) in the Maknovshyna took place against Makhno's own strong beliefs". I notice though that you alter my "many" to "high levels". This twist is part and parcel of your method.

Sticking with anti-semitism, I have no doubt that there were similar (though on lesser scale given the greater size of the Bolshevik Party) "incidents" in Bolshevik ranks (given 8 centuries plus of domination by the Orthodox Church) but the Bolsheviks did have an exemplary record in opposing pogroms (and anti-semitism was widely used as an ideological cover for anti-Bolshevism in the countryside by the Whites where peasants particularly in the Ukraine and on the Don were more susceptible. Which is why Makhno had greater problems in this area given the social composition of his forces). There si much more to be said about anti-semitism but on the original point (I hope you don't find sticking to the point too tedious) the issue here was precisely to show that social origins are no guarantee of political rectitude.

As to the quote from the pamphlet produced by Solidarity Aberdeen c.1970 I was trying to ignore the bit you quoted which states that

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explicitly describes the trade links with the German military as beginning probably in 1919

since as you might say where is the evidence? Unfortunately our old comrades wrote this without a shred of such evidence (unless you count what the RSFSR was forced to hand over to keep the Germans at bay). According to Carr the Bolsheviks trading isolation was not broken until the winter of 1920-1 with trade treaties with Sweden and Britain. The military cooperation with the Weimar Republic began some time after the 1922 Rappallo Treaty (when Von Seeckt began to train German troops on Russian soil beyond the eyes of the Entente powers and in breach of the Treaty of Versailles). However as a councilist text the Solidarity pamphlet has to be excused since councilists are on the side of the angels so any anti-Bolshevik distortion will do. That said the one methodological point which is valid is

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The revolutionary period is often described as 1917-21, so hardly irrelevant if one sees history as an unfolding process rather than separate static events.

I have spent most of my adult life thinking about this problem (yeah, OK, I am slow learner) Howeverbut at least you are now back on the territory I outlined several posts ago which is start from the fact that 1917 was a proletarian revolution. The "why" of its failure is not an issue (at least not for anyone who understands "process") but the "how" remains an important discussion because in that issue we can understand the negative and positive about the experience. However the starting point is that this was the first proletarian revolution in the age of imperialism, the first to be based not just on one city (as the Paris Commune) and the first to pose the difficult question as to what organs the working class needs to chieve its and humanity's emancipation. Are we starting from the same premises?

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Red Marriott
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Dec 31 2009 19:05

For simply providing some additional facts to clarify the overall picture I'm denounced by Cleishbotham for not debating on the terms he wants to define for us all - though others who ranged from the original topic somewhat are spared his displeasure.

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... your dishonest red herring that I referred to Trotsky in 1935

Red herring? A matter of opinion. Dishonest? No - you did refer to that.

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I notice though that you alter my "many" to "high levels". This twist is part and parcel of your method.

You're here just being ridiculous to call this a "twist" - and your post supposedly "twisted" is on the same page for anyone to refer to.

Cleishbotham wrote:
On anti-semitism, the evidence for anti-semitism in Makhno's ranks are in Michael Malet "Nestor Makhno in the Russian Civil War" (Macmillan 1982) p.168-72 and following.

Pages 168-72 and following don't support your claims that "Sticking with anti-semitism, I have no doubt that there were similar (though on lesser scale given the greater size of the Bolshevik Party) "incidents" in Bolshevik ranks" .... "Makhno had greater problems in this area given the social composition of his forces". These two excerpts show that in the Ukraine other forces, including Soviet troops, had "greater problems":

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The numerous orders and appeals of Makhno against pogroms were not issued merely for appearances. It will be clear from the above that any incidents (we shall refer to a few later) in the Makhnovschyna took place against Makhno's own strong beliefs, inclinations, and orders. In this respect he stands out from the other otamany in the Ukraine. One author lists Struk, Hryhoriyiv, and Shepel as responsible for many of the pogroms of 1919 (the worst year) and also ascribes a number to other otamany, and to the nationalists: not one is alleged against Makhno. For the period January to September 1919 the Central Committee of Zionist Organisations in Russia gives the following statistics: 210 pogroms in Kiyiv province, 56 in Volyn, 62 in Podol, 23 in Kherson, 1,5 in Poltava, 7 in Chernihiv, and one in the town of Katerynoslav. The worst offenders were the Nationalists with 15,000 victims, then the Volunteer Army with 9500, and Hryhiriyiv; followed by Sokolovsky, Struk, Yatsenko, and Soviet troops (500 victims). Again no mention of Makhno, and it is further significant that almost all these pogroms occurred on the right bank, western Ukraine, where the local otamany and the Nationalists were strong. Very few took place on the left bank, where Makhno's influence predominated, the nearest being in Katerynoslav town and Kherson province: none in the provinces of Katerynoslav or Tavria. Even granted the lower level of Jewish involvement in left bank trade, the almost total lack of anti-Semitic manifestations would show that Makhno's appeals, at a time when anti-Semitism was fast becoming fashionable, did not go unheeded by the population. There were a number of Jewish colonies in the south-east Ukraine.
[...]
The last word should go to the Jewish historian Cherikover, with whom Volin recorded an interview, but who has also testified independently. Volin records him as saying that

1. It is undeniable that, of all these armies (in the civil war) including the Red Army, the Makhnovist behaved best in regard to the civilian population in general and the Jewish population in particular. I have numerous testimonies to this. The proportion of justified complaints against the Makhnovist Army by comparison with the others, is negligible.

2. Do not let us speak of pogroms alleged to have been organised by Makhno himself. This is a slander or an error. Nothing of the sort occurred. As for the Makhnovist army, I have had hints and precise denunciations on this subject. But, up to the present, every time I have tried to check the facts, I have been obliged to declare that on the day in question no Makhnovist unit could have been at the place indicated, the whole army being far away from there. Upon examining the evidence closely, I established this fact every time, (that) with absolute certainty, at the place and on the date of a pogrom, no Makhnovist unit was operating or even located in the vicinity. Not once have I been able to prove the presence of a Makhnovist unit at the place where a pogrom against the Jews took place. Consequently, the pogroms in question could not have been the work of the Makhnovists. [My emphasis.]
http://libcom.org/history/anti-semitism-makhnovists-michael-malet

I fail to see how that can be cited as evidence to prove that "Makhno had greater problems in this area given the social composition of his forces".

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the issue here was precisely to show that social origins are no guarantee of political rectitude.

But I never claimed that they were.

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as you might say where is the evidence? Unfortunately our old comrades wrote this without a shred of such evidence (unless you count what the RSFSR was forced to hand over to keep the Germans at bay). According to Carr the Bolsheviks trading isolation was not broken until the winter of 1920-1 with trade treaties with Sweden and Britain.

So if trade links began 'probably in 1919' or 'definitely with Sweden and GB' in 1920 - yeh, that makes a really big difference to the whole picture... Though you say your old comrades wrote "without a shred of such evidence" - they give a reference;

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30] For a documentation of the military collaboration, see Carsten, "Reichswehr and Politics 1919 - 33".

So I can be forgiven for assuming that this provides the evidence.

You haven't refuted any of my facts, just expressed resentment of their presentation. "You can have your own opinions, but you can't have your own facts". Your hostility to my posts is quite surprising - as if those facts threaten your preferred interpretation. Everything that doesn't fit with your interpretation is not a distortion. I suggest you get used to others introducing relevant facts to discussions.

Cleishbotham
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Jan 2 2010 16:32

Ret, I wrote a long reply to you yesterday but see that (probably due to my own incompetence ) it has somehow gone adrift.

We don't seem to be having a meeting of minds! Briefly to summarise you seem to want to have it both ways. You accuse me of trying to dictate to everyone where the thread should go but then note that I have only criticised your posts as jumping about from one place to the next.

Your final accusation that

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Your hostility to my posts is quite surprising - as if those facts threaten your preferred interpretation. Everything that doesn't fit with your interpretation is not a distortion.

This is not about either the facts or supposed distortions of them but your constant tendency to rip the facts or the comments on them from the context they were made in to make different points.

When Tragic Travisty said he would get Trotsky's Revolution Betrayed I replied that it would not answer his original question (and gave a quick summary of why) I thought this. You use this as an example of how I have changed the thread (in fact TT I forgot to answer your second bit and would suggest you go for Rabinowitch's "The Bolsheviks Come to Power").

Returning to Ret Marut, I am very impressed that you were stimulated enough to get Michael Malet's work and scan it in to the libcom library so quickly (you must tell me the scanning secret!) but the passage in question does not disprove my point that there were anti-semites in the Mahnovists ranks. Or why would Makhno have to threaten to shoot them as Malet states? Ret Marut though seems to be trying to say that I am arguing that the Makhnovists were the worst anti-semites (which is why he translates my "many" into "high levels") which is not the case (or else why do you argue that "others were worse"). I also said Makhno and the Bolsheviks actively fought it. I made it clear that anti-semitism was deeply rooted in Russian society and all parties were faced with it. In fact this is why Trotsky refused to become Chairman of the Sovnarkom when Lenin asked him. And as Marsella rightly argued above antisemitism was used by the Right (and not only the Right) as a code word for anti-bolshevism. But to get back to the original point (as I stubbornly insist!). I gave the example of anti-semitism among Makhno's followers and an example of how Stalin made his regime more working class in social composition by murdering old Bolsheviks (of all social backgrounds) in order to promote young workers who knew nothing of communism to illustrate the point that it is also political positions as well as social origins which defines whether a movmeetn is working class (as you seemed to be suggesting that the predominantly intellectual leadership of the Bolsheviks made them a priori disposed to be anti-working class (or did I get that wrong?) In fact as the Makhno example shows it was Makhno's organisation which supressed anti-semtisim in its own ranks precisely because it started from an anarchist and not a peasant ideology.

Finally on facts that are not facts. The quote from the Aberdeen Solidarity pamphlet only says

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The exact extent of Russian collaboration with the Reichswehr will probably never be known, but it is likely that preliminary contacts were established in 1919, and the German military negotiated as early as 1920 with Trotsky.

This is hardly a ringing statement of fact. If it is based on a reference to Carsten it does not say what he said, I do not have the Carsten "Reichswehr and Politics" (1966) (nor the much longer earlier German version) currently but in his book on the the revolutions in Central Europe he mentions the Reichswehr several times but always to say how they were fighting Bolshevism in 1919. If you think about it such collaboration was unlikely as the Treaty of Versailles was not signed until June 1919 so the situation of the Reichswehr was in confusion (at best). What Carsten tells us is that they organised further Freikorps units to fight the Russian revolution in the Baltic provinces in mid 1919. The fact that you say it does not matter whether it was 1919 or 1921 is important to me since I consider the latter date to be an absolute turning point in the fate of the revolution (after all any regime which could not accomodate the Kronstadt Commune, sought alliances with bourgeois states (and not just for survival reasons, banned internal factions and sought electoral alliances with the Social Democrats who had been the best preservers of capitalism in Europe was no longer in a position to lead world revolution). I stated my premises twice in this discussion (and no one single fact in this discussion shakes them - as I said befoer there are far more contentious issues to deal with than these) but I have yet to hear yours (I don't look up people's previous posts or their profiles as I don't want to make pre-judgements about what they are saying). Do you accept that the October revolution was at least initially proletarian or not?

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Red Marriott
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Jan 2 2010 19:52
Cleishbotham wrote:
Briefly to summarise you seem to want to have it both ways. You accuse me of trying to dictate to everyone where the thread should go but then note that I have only criticised your posts as jumping about from one place to the next.

Those two statements don't contradict each other - so no "both ways" about it.

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I am very impressed that you were stimulated enough to get Michael Malet's work and scan it in to the libcom library so quickly (you must tell me the scanning secret!)

I was that stimulated I walked all the way to my bookshelf. Perhaps you are surprised (or disappointed) that I would own a copy of the obscure book whose citation you misrepresented.
The "scanning secret!" is -
1. get access to or buy a scanner.
2. learn how to use it. It's not difficult.

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but the passage in question does not disprove my point that there were anti-semites in the Mahnovists ranks.

I never said it did.

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Ret Marut though seems to be trying to say that I am arguing that the Makhnovists were the worst anti-semites (which is why he translates my "many" into "high levels") which is not the case (or else why do you argue that "others were worse").

What I said was;

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Pages 168-72 and following don't support your claims that "Sticking with anti-semitism, I have no doubt that there were similar (though on lesser scale given the greater size of the Bolshevik Party) "incidents" in Bolshevik ranks" .... "Makhno had greater problems in this area given the social composition of his forces". These two excerpts show that in the Ukraine other forces, including Soviet troops, had "greater problems":

You clearly claimed that the Makhnovists had "greater problems" with anti-semitism. Yet in the citation you gave from Malet - conveniently unquoted by you - it says the opposite. Yet you have the cheek to accuse me of "twisting" things and being "dishonest". Thanks to my being able to check your citation you've been caught out trying to dishonestly distort historical evidence.

Jason Cortez
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Jan 3 2010 21:47

Pwned!! embarrassed

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Red Marriott
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Jan 4 2010 18:34

Clenchedbottom asked for my views on the 'proletarian character' of the Russian Revolution. Those proletarian revolutionaries - such as the Kronstadt rebels and the Makhnovists - who suffered the counter-revolutionary repression of the Bolshevik regime have also since had to suffer nearly 100 years of the slanders, smears, distortions and lies of Bolsheviks and neo-Bolsheviks. Clenchedbottom has here only tried - in a particularly clumsy way - to continue this counter-revolutionary tradition.

ernie
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Jan 4 2010 23:29

This does not really answer the question or do you think that the Bolshevik party was counter-revolutionary? If so this means that the tens if not hundred of thousands of workers who were in the party or supported it carry out the revolution were under the weight of the counter-revolution! That October was an act of counter-revolution: the bourgeoisie was overthrown by a class dominated by an alien ideology

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Red Marriott
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Jan 4 2010 23:45

Go discuss that on an appropriate thread - there's plenty of them. This thread is about books.

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mikail firtinaci
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Jan 4 2010 23:57

I strongly suggest Lih. He is among the rare academics I respect, not because he is close to me but because he seems to read the sources he use and do not distort them;

http://libcom.org/history/mystery-abc-communism-bukharin-preobrazensky

I will try to put more articles of him.

Cleishbotham
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Jan 5 2010 16:09

Ret Marut can claim all he likes that I have been dishonetly distorting the record but the first line of the Chapter 12 of Malet's book entitled anti-semitism states:

"An anarchist who later turned Bolshevik nailed the lie of Makhno's anti-semitism but that does not necessarily mean that the Makhnovschyna was free from it" (p.168). A the bottom of that page he records Berkman's evidence that the daughter of his host hearing " Makhno threatening merciless punishment for any pogrom-maker". This indicates that ther was anti- semitism to be dealt with. Malet admits he has not followed all the charges up (and probably this would be impossible now) but when you asked me to give evidence for what I originally said (which was only an example of how reactionary ideas exist inside the working class - I wish now I had chosen the one of Petrograd workers who had supported the Bolsheviks in 1917 calling for "Bread and the Tsar" in the middle of 1918!) I chose Malet because this was where I had gained the original insight from and I knew he was a defender of Makhno. I was not trying to denigrate Makhno or his movement (the nature of which is not a big issue for me but obviously it is for you. I also did say that I consider the Bolsehvik failure to incorporate/tolerate/ work with the Makhnovschina one of the aspects of the counter-revolution). I have twice repeated that anti-semitism "probably" affected all parties (and Malet says this was due to the Tsarist legacy). I also said somewhere above that Makhno's efforts against anti-semitism were exemplary given that he was working in a peasant milieu in the Ukraine where there were a long history of pogroms against the "Yids".

However your subsequent post in which you take the piss out of my chosen tag and accuse me of supporting the counter-revolution at least reveals to me why we have had such an "assymetric exchange". You might have lost patience with me but in talking of counter-revolution you presuppose that there was a revolution in the first place. However when Ernie asked you about this you told him to bugger off to another thread on the spurious excuse that this one is about books - all this after telling me earlier that I was trying to dictate what people could write about! I already said that I saw the suppression of Kronstadt and the failure to accept the Makhno movement as examples of the growing counter-revolution in Russia and I engage in these discussions to widen my own knowledge of both that process and also what was positively proletarian in Russia after 1917.

Oh and Tragic Travisty I notice that the tilte of the thread is also about Lenin as well as 1917. I think that "Lenin's Political Thought" by Neil Harding is a good place to start (although long - it was originally two volumes). Harding neither agrees or disagrees with Lenin but records his theoretical changes and places them in the context of his time (in this book - his "Leninism" written after the collapse of the USSR he comes out as a Blairite social democrat but I think this only enhances the value of his first work.).

Thanks Mikail for the Rih reference - I have seen the name but never read any of his work.

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Red Marriott
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Jan 5 2010 18:04

You can aimlessly rant all you like - you were caught out lying - deliberately falsifying historical evidence - as I showed, your reference actually said the exact opposite of what you pretended it did. Nothing you've said can refute that glaring fact. If that's not lying by your definition then you clearly have problems with rationality and consistency. The only "big issue" is your proven dishonesty and, worse, your continued attempts to gloss over/excuse it. The damning evidence is there in the posts on this thread. It's the same attempted airbrushing of history Stalinists are fond of.

I advise you in future to remember that many people here know their history, so don't need to resort to attempted lies to back up their argument - and can't easily be taken for mugs by chancers like yourself.

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mikail firtinaci
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Jan 5 2010 18:58

I think this discussion can give some interesting results if people can cool down a little bit. Personally I am especially interested with "Bolshevik-German collaboration". As Lih article shows even most "respected" scholars like Fitzpatrik sometimes make distortions at worst or misread at best. This is "understandable" considering the era most of the books on russia in the western academia is written. And there are so many issue about bolshevism that most people could act rigourless and especially academics are included. So whatever your position might be on Bolsheviks I think it is better to be caoutious when reading interpretations, comments etc.

Actually I am working on Sultan Galiyev and you can not imagine how wild and crazy speculations are turning into "facts" after the first citation or referance to original texts, which probably does not show much itself...

Anyway,any source (first hand or second hand) on the trade relations between bolsheviks and germans can be very interesting. If anybody can give any referance it would be very helpful.

ernie
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Jan 6 2010 13:24

Ret

Not too many references to books in your post I was replying to, either, but there you go!

ernie
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Jan 6 2010 13:39

Just got Lars T Lih's book (well tome) Lenin rediscovered: what is to be done? in context, for xmas. Not read it yet but its blurb claims that it is a new look at Lenin up until 1905, especially around What is to be done (the book contains a new translation). It places Lenin squarely within the context of the Social Democratic movement of the time. It could be ammunition for Dauve's thesis concerning Lenin being the heir of Kautsky, but I get the impression it is more sophisticated. Apparently it gives a detailed analysis of the question of Kautsky's theory of class consciousness being brought to the class.
Mikail any articles of his you can post up would be most welcome, he appears to be a serious scholar.
Another book to be most warmly recommended is Marcel Liebman's Leninism under Lenin. This is an excellent introduction to the whole question of Lenin, Bolshevism and the Russian Revolution from the perspective of understanding what was actually said and happened rather than the distorted vision of the academic vision of the likes of Pipes etc. It is no hagiography and makes some very interesting points about the growing strength of monolithicism within the Bolshevik party face with the growing defeat of the revolution.
Liebman's analysis draw strongly on Rabinowitch's work, especially the aspect of the Bolshevik party being open to the growing radicalisation of the working class, and flowing from this that when the revolution tide began to ebb the gap between the party and class grow.
Fully agree with the points about Hardings book well worth the read. It too is within the same sort of framework as Liebman and Rabinowitch work.
Has anyone read Liebman's Russian Revolution?
Could anyone recommend books on the Left SR's and the Left Mensheviks?

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Red Marriott
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Jan 6 2010 14:49
ernie wrote:
Ret

Not too many references to books in your post I was replying to, either, but there you go!

The whole post was largely about the misuse of books and the printed word generally - on this thread and historically. But you know the 1917 subject has been done a million times on here and I doubt much, if anything, new will be said if it's done one more time. As your post illustrated.

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mikail firtinaci
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Jan 6 2010 14:53

I forgot how to upload articles and I am a bit embarrased to ask it again sad Can anybody send a link to a page that explain that?

I have two articles of Lih. right now which I could not read thouroughly yet. One of them is on forced grain collection from peasantry in war com. period and the second -which seem very interesting- on Lenin's last testament.

This latest book of Lih you talked about seem interesting. I look forward to read about it but I have to wait till it will arrive to my uni. library.

About Marcel Liebman; I have that book but I was bored with it because it seemed to neglact left communists in a conventional leninist way. Maybe I am wrong so I will look at it again.

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Red Marriott
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Jan 6 2010 17:44
Quote:
I forgot how to upload articles and I am a bit embarrased to ask it again sad Can anybody send a link to a page that explain that?

Mikail; click on 'submit content' at top of page.

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Red Marriott
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Jan 6 2010 17:47

Direct link; http://libcom.org/library/notes/content-guidelines/howto-article-submissions

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mikail firtinaci
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Jan 6 2010 19:23

Here I added two articles;

http://libcom.org/tags/lars-t-lih

I could not write an introduction because I did not read them all yet. I hope you'll find them interesting.

Cleishbotham
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Jan 8 2010 19:16

I thought my last post was a calm response to Ret's ranting given that he makes two serious accusations. And he can rant all he likes about my lying but his accusation is itself a lie. In fact his constant assertion of it makes me think he has another motive. He has from the beginning of this discussion been trying to insinuate arguments to me which I have not made.

In his last post before mine he challenged me to quote Malet for support for my original submission that rank and file members of the Makhno movement were anti-semitic. I quoted the two sentences that I based that opinion on but he does not reply to that part of my last post (instead hiding behind the accusation that I am ranting). And I tried in my last post to remind him of how the discussion started. I was not trying condemn Makhnovism but gave this issue as one of two examples about how class origins don't guarantee against counter-revolutionary politics (and I said this also affected every party in Russia including the Bolsheviks). I consider it was to Makhno's credit that he fought this (esp in the Ukraine) just as it was other groups who did the same. You seem to be arguing (like Lord Acton and other positivists) that "the facts speak for themselves" but they don't. Removed from their context they can be made to say whatever you want. And that is precisely what you are doing.

I'm glad that he mentioned Stalinist methods before me but even Vyshinsky eventually told the accused at the show trials exactly what it was they were supposed to be accused of. You have accused me of not only lying by also defending the counter-revolution but you have not said in what way I have "defended the counter-revolution". I find that accusation all the more extraordinary in that I did not start out by defending anything but by criticising his own introduction of the fact that most of the Bolsheviks leaders were of the intelligentsia. He did not say why he had introduced this fact (the empiricist method is always the safest to hide behind and doesn't he do it well!) but his implication was that somehow this negated not only their politics but that of all the Bolshevik Party (which Marsella had pointed out was overwhelmingly working class).

And if this thread is about "books" (although I notice under scrutiny from Ernie RM changes this purpose too) why not give us an example? But that would then force RM to declare his hand. From my perspective the anal "ret"entive is not Clenchbottom the one who refuses to declare what his purpose is.

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Red Marriott
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Jan 8 2010 20:44

Are we now on to conspiracy theories and 'dark motives'? Yes, I'm a freemason... ; "what's my purpose... declare my hand" - the old left communist tendency for paranoia still lives on in some, it seems - or is it only a shoddy tactic of insinuation when you have no better response?

Making things up seems bit of a compulsion with you;

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I also did say that I consider the Bolsehvik failure to incorporate/tolerate/ work with the Makhnovschina one of the aspects of the counter-revolution).

No, you didn't (well, maybe you said it to yourself at home while typing - but that doesn't count).

Quote:
I also said somewhere above that Makhno's efforts against anti-semitism were exemplary given that he was working in a peasant milieu in the Ukraine where there were a long history of pogroms against the "Yids".

Again, no, you didn't say it above. (And don't go editing your earlier posts.)

You've tried to distract from your lies by pretending I'm challenging the existence of any anti-semitism among Makhnovists - I clearly stated already that's not the case. I Can only repeat again where you lied;

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What I said was;
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Pages 168-72 and following don't support your claims that "Sticking with anti-semitism, I have no doubt that there were similar (though on lesser scale given the greater size of the Bolshevik Party) "incidents" in Bolshevik ranks" .... "Makhno had greater problems in this area given the social composition of his forces". These two excerpts show that in the Ukraine other forces, including Soviet troops, had "greater problems":

You clearly claimed that the Makhnovists had "greater problems" with anti-semitism. Yet in the citation you gave from Malet - conveniently unquoted by you - it says the opposite. Yet you have the cheek to accuse me of "twisting" things and being "dishonest". Thanks to my being able to check your citation you've been caught out trying to dishonestly distort historical evidence.

Cleishbotham
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Jan 8 2010 22:39

You still have not answered my request that you respond to the two sentences I quoted from Malet (which I must keep reminding you is a source which is very pro-Makhno but also the only one I have ever read on any anti-semitism in the Makhno movement). I was not repeating any charges made by the enemies of Makhno or anyone else as I have not read them.

Originally I said that there "many" in the Makhno movement who were anti-semitic and I based this on the two quotes I have cited. "Many" is a non-quantifiable term but why would Makhno threaten dire consequences on his followers if he caught them carrying out anti-semitic acts if it was not a worrying trend? You exaggerated this to "high levels" and then pretended that "many" and "high levels" were the same thing. If there were low levels of anti-semitism but there were still 5% of a very varied army infected by it would be worrying to any revolutionary and it still would be "many".

Your next twist is to say that "Makhno had greater problems in this area", as if I stated it as the original fact when I was discussing it in later mail as a hypothesis, given that his army was a peasant army from the Ukraine and also discussed the possibility of it throughout Russian society at the time. And I was not stating it as a criticism of Makhnovism. I think it redounds to the benefit of Makhno that he courageously tackled it head on (after all the method of criticism at the time was not via words, as we are doing, but via entirely more physical means i.e a bullet in the brain).

Whether the Soviet forces had greater problems or not I do not know (but am prepared to believe it on the basis of the fact that they recruited in the same area and in the end there were more of them) but Malet is a bit half hearted (readers can make their own judgements) about the whole argument and quotes only anarchist writers in support of his case (Berkmann (reliable) and Volin (a bit of an axe to grind?)). If you had stated straightforwardly at the beginning "Do you think the accusation of antisemitism was dreamed up by a state power determined to find something to pin on the Makhnovschina?" I would have had to agree. But you did not ask this and I was not particularly bothered by the issue (as I keep repeating it was only an illustrative example to another point about class and political consciousness - which you initiated - in my view, unwisely). You seem to think I have been arguing that the whole Makhnovschina was anti-semitic or perhaps that any mention of antisemitism in connection with it is taboo.

As I said above your latest mail still does not answer my question as to whether the two quotes from Malet were adequate evidence for my initial comment. I am a little concerned that you say I failed to post up

Quote:
"the Bolsehvik failure to incorporate/tolerate/ work with the Makhnovschina one of the aspects of the counter-revolution)."

since I did write this (alongside a comment about the Kronstadt Commune). There was one post I did which I wrote which did not appear but I am pretty sure it was not that one. I will trawl through this thread (something I don't usually do) to see if it is there. Thanks for informing me that I can edit my posts but I would rather apologise if I had anything to apologise for. It might help if you apologised to me for trying to brand me as a liar on the flimsiest of pretexts and without revealing why.

I have not been "caught out trying to dishonestly distort historical evidence.". You have revealed yourself simply as a hostile reader willing to impute anything to anybody to twist a discussion into your framework. Libcom has a "no flaming" rule but apparently not a "no slander" one.

I am fairly new to this game (one year perhaps?) but I am well aware that there are lots of comrades on this site who know their historical stuff (the main reason why I am here and very educational it has been). I don't need to be hectored by you about it. I think I am also entitled to ask on what grounds you call me a "defender of the counter-revolution"? Although perhaps the question should be discussed on another thread since if this is about "books" as you said then we are constrained to that theme. The CWO has just reviewed Simon Pirani's book (the same book is reviewed by Mark Hayes on the ICC website). As it is the latest new research on the counter-revolution it might be worth discussing?

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Red Marriott
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Jan 8 2010 23:33
Quote:
As I said above your latest mail still does not answer my question as to whether the two quotes from Malet were adequate evidence for my initial comment. I am a little concerned that you say I failed to post up

As I said above and referred to again in my last post;

Ret wrote:
Cleishbotham wrote:
but the passage in question does not disprove my point that there were anti-semites in the Mahnovists ranks.

I never said it did.

I originally pointed out that Malet's book you cited said the opposite of what you claimed it did. I didn't initially call you a liar to give you benefit of the doubt. You could've then said - 'OK, I made an error and you pointed out that I was wrong about that'. Instead you've absolutely claimed nothing you said was wrong, tried to distract from your lie by pretending I'm questioning whether there could've been any antisemitism among Makhnovists, accused me of various unspecified motives etc. Which only looks like trying to justify, gloss over and/or excuse the lie.

I haven't read Pirani's book. What are you going to do, use it as a citation?

Samotnaf
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Jan 9 2010 04:23

May I recommend "Lenin as Philosopher" by Pannekoek: although it's not about the 1917 revolution it clearly shows how Lenin was an adept at falsifying his opponents' arguments well before the revolution, a bit like Clenchbottom, with his clenched pants on fire, here on this thread. But then what can one expect from people who like to play at being politicians? It seems (though I might have got this wrong) that he is attempting to make an equivalent of the Bolsheviks (the initiators of the counter-revolution) and the Makhnovists, perhaps to pursue some reconciliation between anarchos and Left Communist neo-Bolsheviks on this site, perhaps to appear to be open to anarchists so as to recruit some of them, maybe. It's 5 in the morning and I haven't been sleeping well for a few nights, so maybe my brain is a bit fuzzy, but this political project seems to be one of the reasons behind not just his falsification of Malet's text, but of his "well the Makhnovists were quite good but not entirely, but so were the Bolsheviks" stance.
Calling the Bolsheviks counter-revolutionary doesn't mean that there wasn't a significant proletarian content to the Russian Revolution, as some of the Left Communist posters here wish to imply . For them the Bolsheviks were the vanguard of this revolution, despite the fact that Trotsky admitted that in 1917 (at least in the first few months) "the masses were a thousand times to the left of the party" (rough quote from memory). The working class and parts of the peasantry initiated this revolution which, partly because of the illusions of many of them in the Bolsheviks, was then used by Lenin and the other, mainly intellectual middle class, Bolsheviks who wanted a "revolution with subordination, control and foremen and accountants" (Lenin, "State and Revolution", 1917), to create a dictatorship over the proletariat. All of this is so banal, and has been said thousands of times before over the last 40 years or more, that having to repeat it here just goes to show how utterly incapable of keeping up with reality these Left Communists, with their vanguardist Leninoid fantasies, are ("to be avant-garde is to keep abreast of reality"). The traditions of the past weigh like a nightmare on the brains of the living. Which is not to say that sometimes some of them, as individuals, have some interesting insights to contribute (though certainly not on this thread).

Samotnaf
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Jan 9 2010 06:03

Hadn't realised, but "Lenin as Philospher" is here in the library:
http://libcom.org/library/lenin-as-philosopher-pannekoek

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Jan 9 2010 14:43

I don't have time to trawl through this thread again in search of exact formulations. But I am certainly familiar with Ret Marut's method of using the least turn of phrase, often posted in haste, to impute malicious and dishonest intentions. He could have argued that Cleishbotham's use of 'many' was not very precise, and then developed the discussion about the weight of antisemitism in the ranks of Makhno's followers and the Russian workers and peasants in general, but why build up a whole argument claiming that Cleishbotham is 'lying'? The effect of all this is far more pernicious than straightforward flaming.

Cleishbotham
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Jan 9 2010 15:48

Thanks Alf.

Ret though has now retreated from the earlier precision he demanded of me. I based my original comment (and I can accept Alf's corrective that "many" was a bit loose) on the two sentences from the Malet chapter which I keep citing as below

Quote:
"An anarchist who later turned Bolshevik nailed the lie of Makhno's anti-semitism but that does not necessarily mean that the Makhnovschyna was free from it" (p.168). A the bottom of that page he records Berkman's evidence that the daughter of his host hearing " Makhno threatening merciless punishment for any pogrom-maker". This indicates that there was anti-semitism to be dealt with.

Ret seems not to have noticed this.

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Jan 9 2010 21:44
Quote:
Ret though has now retreated from the earlier precision he demanded of me.

Where did I do that? confused You seem to be delusional.

Cleishbotham carefully avoids responding to where I have precisely pointed out his lie and keeps pointing as a distraction elsewhere. He made the difference between his "many" and my "high levels" an issue - so as to use it as a red herring to avoid dealing with, and to repeatedly avoid commenting on, his illustrated lie;

Quote:
I Can only repeat again where you lied;
Quote:
What I said was;
Quote:
Pages 168-72 and following don't support your claims that "Sticking with anti-semitism, I have no doubt that there were similar (though on lesser scale given the greater size of the Bolshevik Party) "incidents" in Bolshevik ranks" .... "Makhno had greater problems in this area given the social composition of his forces". These two excerpts show that in the Ukraine other forces, including Soviet troops, had "greater problems":

You clearly claimed that the Makhnovists had "greater problems" with anti-semitism. Yet in the citation you gave from Malet - conveniently unquoted by you - it says the opposite. Yet you have the cheek to accuse me of "twisting" things and being "dishonest". Thanks to my being able to check your citation you've been caught out trying to dishonestly distort historical evidence.

If Cleishbotham keeps accusing me of wrongly accusing him of lying, I'll continue to defend myself. wink He should shut up about his embarrassment and move on.

Jason Cortez
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Jan 9 2010 22:01

This is first instance of usage of anti-semitic in this thread, clearly not about the Bolsheviks being anti-semitic

Khawaga wrote:
Quote:
Specifically, dealing with charges that the October coup was a counter-revolution meant to end the experiment in democracy and socialism, and that Lenin was doing the bidding of the bankers/wall-street

I think you should be careful about this argument. Although it should be investigated, I've mainly heard this claim from more-or-less anti-semitic conspiracy theorists. Focusing on the Juice bankers is at best a structurally anti-semitic argument.

Then in reply to Marsella (now illian)

Ret wrote:
That if one is to talk of the class composition of the Bolsheviks one gets a more balanced picture from both the statements above than from only one of them; that political parties and groups often tend to internally reproduce the class relationships of the wider society; that this fact may be relevant when assessing the relationship (and its theoretical justification) between party rank'n'file and leadership and between party and class.

Cleishbotham wrote:
Which political group was, or could be, sociologically much different at the time?
Ret wrote:
According to Battlescarred, who has put biographies of many Makhnovists in the History section of the Library, the class background of the Makhnovists was predominantly poor peasant and worker.
Cleish wrote:
And many r and f peasant Makhnovists were anti-semitic too.

This being the first time anyone attributed anti-semiticism to any group invovled in the russian Revolution. This reply clearly implies that despite the Bolsheviks leadership being from the upper classes all be it with a mass working class membership, the predominately poor peasant and worker Makhnovists were more anti-semitic (the implication being because it was peasant based) or why mention it?

Ret wrote:
Do you have any evidence on your claims of high levels of anti-semitism among Makhnovists? In any case, we can probably as easily assume that there were at least as high levels among Bolsheviks, fwiw.
Cleish wrote:
On anti-semitism, the evidence for anti-semitism in Makhno's ranks are in Michael Malet "Nestor Makhno in the Russian Civil War" (Macmillan 1982) p.168-72 and following. Malet is supporter of Makhno and wishes to exonerate (correctly I think) Makhno from the charge of anti-semitism. He does so by underlining the steps Makhno took to prevent his followers from carrying them out and that "any incidents (we shall refer to a few later) in the Maknovshyna took place against Makhno's own strong beliefs". I notice though that you alter my "many" to "high levels". This twist is part and parcel of your method.

Sticking with anti-semitism, I have no doubt that there were similar (though on lesser scale given the greater size of the Bolshevik Party) "incidents" in Bolshevik ranks (given 8 centuries plus of domination by the Orthodox Church) but the Bolsheviks did have an exemplary record in opposing pogroms (and anti-semitism was widely used as an ideological cover for anti-Bolshevism in the countryside by the Whites where peasants particularly in the Ukraine and on the Don were more susceptible. Which is why Makhno had greater problems in this area given the social composition of his forces). There si much more to be said about anti-semitism

Ret wrote:
Pages 168-72 and following don't support your claims that "Sticking with anti-semitism, I have no doubt that there were similar (though on lesser scale given the greater size of the Bolshevik Party) "incidents" in Bolshevik ranks" .... "Makhno had greater problems in this area given the social composition of his forces". These two excerpts show that in the Ukraine other forces, including Soviet troops, had "greater problems":
Quote:

The numerous orders and appeals of Makhno against pogroms were not issued merely for appearances. It will be clear from the above that any incidents (we shall refer to a few later) in the Makhnovschyna took place against Makhno's own strong beliefs, inclinations, and orders. In this respect he stands out from the other otamany in the Ukraine. One author lists Struk, Hryhoriyiv, and Shepel as responsible for many of the pogroms of 1919 (the worst year) and also ascribes a number to other otamany, and to the nationalists: not one is alleged against Makhno. For the period January to September 1919 the Central Committee of Zionist Organisations in Russia gives the following statistics: 210 pogroms in Kiyiv province, 56 in Volyn, 62 in Podol, 23 in Kherson, 1,5 in Poltava, 7 in Chernihiv, and one in the town of Katerynoslav. The worst offenders were the Nationalists with 15,000 victims, then the Volunteer Army with 9500, and Hryhiriyiv; followed by Sokolovsky, Struk, Yatsenko, and Soviet troops (500 victims). Again no mention of Makhno, and it is further significant that almost all these pogroms occurred on the right bank, western Ukraine, where the local otamany and the Nationalists were strong. Very few took place on the left bank, where Makhno's influence predominated, the nearest being in Katerynoslav town and Kherson province: none in the provinces of Katerynoslav or Tavria. Even granted the lower level of Jewish involvement in left bank trade, the almost total lack of anti-Semitic manifestations would show that Makhno's appeals, at a time when anti-Semitism was fast becoming fashionable, did not go unheeded by the population. There were a number of Jewish colonies in the south-east Ukraine.
[...]
The last word should go to the Jewish historian Cherikover, with whom Volin recorded an interview, but who has also testified independently. Volin records him as saying that

1. It is undeniable that, of all these armies (in the civil war) including the Red Army, the Makhnovist behaved best in regard to the civilian population in general and the Jewish population in particular. I have numerous testimonies to this. The proportion of justified complaints against the Makhnovist Army by comparison with the others, is negligible.

2. Do not let us speak of pogroms alleged to have been organised by Makhno himself. This is a slander or an error. Nothing of the sort occurred. As for the Makhnovist army, I have had hints and precise denunciations on this subject. But, up to the present, every time I have tried to check the facts, I have been obliged to declare that on the day in question no Makhnovist unit could have been at the place indicated, the whole army being far away from there. Upon examining the evidence closely, I established this fact every time, (that) with absolute certainty, at the place and on the date of a pogrom, no Makhnovist unit was operating or even located in the vicinity. Not once have I been able to prove the presence of a Makhnovist unit at the place where a pogrom against the Jews took place. Consequently, the pogroms in question could not have been the work of the Makhnovists. [My emphasis.]
http://libcom.org/history/anti-semitism-makhnovists-michael-malet

I fail to see how that can be cited as evidence to prove that "Makhno had greater problems in this area given the social composition of his forces".

Cleish wrote:
but the passage in question does not disprove my point that there were anti-semites in the Mahnovists ranks. Or why would Makhno have to threaten to shoot them as Malet states? Ret Marut though seems to be trying to say that I am arguing that the Makhnovists were the worst anti-semites (which is why he translates my "many" into "high levels") which is not the case (or else why do you argue that "others were worse"). I also said Makhno and the Bolsheviks actively fought it. I made it clear that anti-semitism was deeply rooted in Russian society and all parties were faced with it. In fact this is why Trotsky refused to become Chairman of the Sovnarkom when Lenin asked him. And as Marsella rightly argued above antisemitism was used by the Right (and not only the Right) as a code word for anti-bolshevism.
Cleish wrote:
but the passage in question does not disprove my point that there were anti-semites in the Mahnovists ranks.
Ret wrote:
I never said it did.
Cleish wrote:
Ret Marut though seems to be trying to say that I am arguing that the Makhnovists were the worst anti-semites (which is why he translates my "many" into "high levels") which is not the case (or else why do you argue that "others were worse").
Ret wrote:
What I said was;
Quote:

Pages 168-72 and following don't support your claims that "Sticking with anti-semitism, I have no doubt that there were similar (though on lesser scale given the greater size of the Bolshevik Party) "incidents" in Bolshevik ranks" .... "Makhno had greater problems in this area given the social composition of his forces". These two excerpts show that in the Ukraine other forces, including Soviet troops, had "greater problems":

You clearly claimed that the Makhnovists had "greater problems" with anti-semitism. Yet in the citation you gave from Malet - conveniently unquoted by you - it says the opposite. Yet you have the cheek to accuse me of "twisting" things and being "dishonest". Thanks to my being able to check your citation you've been caught out trying to dishonestly distort historical evidence.

Despite Cleishbotham continuing to claim that his quoting of only two sentences is an innocent mistake, I don't find him very convincing. I don't think they were deliberately attempting to distort history, just desperately trying to save face. So you provide no evidence to support your assertion that anti-semitism was not as wide spread in the Bolsheviks, but continue to twist and turn, claiming it is all the fault of Ret's style of argument or some such. roll eyes

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mikail firtinaci
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Jan 9 2010 22:17

I asked my professor who is a historian specialized on russian history about this (and who is not a right wing person or is not against makhno also) beceause I was curious.

He told me that;

Quote:
My sense is that Makhno's army, like the Red and White Armies, and the Ukrainian National forces under Simon Petliura all committed atrocities against Jews during the civil war.Makhno's troops were mostly Ukrainian peasants and those peasants had a long tradition of anti-semitism. On the other hand, there were not a large number of Jews in the regions where Makhno's forces operated, because he was active mostly outside the Pale of Settlement.

I think this is a fair point but he did not gave any source unfortunately. However if one will not defend the idea that the essential characteristic of the peasants in the region controlled by Makhno was anti-anti-semitism I think it is possible to expect a "high level" of anti-semitism also in Black army. The question is can it be the glorious personality of "Batko" or some other more logical reasons that caused black army to be least anti-semitic in action...

--------------

Also about bolsheviks and the leadership and the comparison made with the "makhnovists" being peasants; I think this comparison is done out of sentimentalism and it is in no way logical. Makhnovists were active only in a small region of Ukraine. How can you expect big percentages of intellectuals in a small rural guerilla group?! However Bolshevik party was active all around russia. So it is not a fair comparison. Probably there were many intellectuals among prominent anarchists in big cities too...