Skip to comments.Stephen Schwartz: Apologist for Mass Murder
Posted on 07/05/2003 8:57:28 AM PDT by Justin Raimondo
Sympathy for a Devil
Myles B. Kantor
Friday, July 4, 2003
Some do evil in silence. Others flaunt it.
On Dec. 2, 1917, after the Bolshevik coup in Russia, a 38-year-old Bolshevik said to the Central Executive Committee of Soviets:
"There is nothing immoral in the proletariat finishing off the dying class. This is its right. You are indignant at the petty terror which we direct against our class opponents. But be put on notice that in one month at most this terror will assume more frightful forms, on the model of the great revolutionaries of France. Our enemies will face not prison but the guillotine."
He ordered a military commander on Aug. 4, 1918, during the Russian civil war, Root out the counter-revolutionaries without mercy, lock up suspicious characters in concentration camps this is a necessary condition of success. Shirkers will be shot, regardless of past service.
In fact, the German National Socialists use of concentration camps owes much to this man. Mikhail Heller and Aleksandr Nekrich observe in Utopia in Power: The History of the Soviet Union from 1917 to the Present:
"The notoriety stemming from its use by Hitler should not obscure the fact that the Soviet state was the initiator of this institution. [He] had the honor of being first to use the term. In his order of June 4, 1918, he demanded that all Czechoslovaks who refused to lay down their arms be detained in concentration camps. On June 26 [he] sent a memorandum to the Sovnarkom [Council of Peoples Commissars] proposing that all former officers who refused to join the Red Army be considered part of the bourgeoisie and placed in concentration camps. On August 8 [he] substantially enlarged the category of those subject to detention and ordered camps established in Murom, Arzamas, and Sviyazhsk for holding reactionary agitators, counterrevolutionary officers, saboteurs, parasites, and speculators.
Writing of this mans founding of the Red Army, Robert Service notes in A History of Twentieth Century Russia that he was not wholly traditional in his military preferences. He attached a political commissar to each officer; he also took the families of many officers hostage to ensure loyalty. Proud of his ruthlessness, he published a book in 1920, Terrorism and Communism, which eulogized mass terror.
That book, written in response to German socialist Karl Kautskys anti-terrorist book of the same title, contains passages like:
Our Extraordinary Commissions [the Cheka, later the GPU, OGPU, NKVD, and KGB] shoot landlords, capitalists, and generals who are striving to restore the capitalist order.
We are destroying the press of the counter-revolution, just as we destroyed its fortified positions, its stores, its communication, and its intelligence system.
the historical persistence of the bourgeoisie is colossal. It holds to power, and does not wish to abandon it. Thereby it threatens to drag after it into the abyss the whole of society. We are forced to tear it off, to chop it away. The Red Terror is a weapon utilized against a class, doomed to destruction, which does not wish to perish.
The man who repudiates terrorism in principle i.e., repudiates measures of suppression and intimidation towards determined and armed counter-revolution, must reject all idea of the political supremacy of the working class and its revolutionary dictatorship. The man who repudiates the dictatorship of the proletariat repudiates the Socialist revolution, and digs the grave of Socialism.
He accordingly advocated systematic violence to produce goods, stating at the Third All-Russian Trade Union Conference in April 1920, the very principle of labor conscription has replaced the principle of free labor as radically and irreversibly as socialization of the means of production has replaced capitalist ownership. Socialist Rafail Abramovich asked how this differed from Egyptian slavery since The pharaohs built the pyramids by forcing the masses to work.
In March 1921, Russian sailors in Kronstadt near the Gulf of Finland rebelled against Bolshevik totalitarianism. He responded with this address:
To the population of Kronstadt and the rebellious forts: I order all those who have raised their hand against the socialist Fatherland to lay down their arms immediately. Recalcitrants must be disarmed and handed over the Soviet authorities. Commissars and other representatives of the regime who have been arrested [by the insurgents] must be released at once. Only those who surrender unconditionally can count on the mercy of the Soviet Republic. I am simultaneously issuing instructions to prepare to crush the insurgency and the insurgents with an iron hand.
He wrote in 1938, The Kronstadt revolt was nothing more than the armed reaction of the petty bourgeoisie against the difficulties of the socialist revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat, also claiming that he took not the slightest part in the suppression of the Kronstadt revolt itself, nor in the repressions that ensued.
In Russia under the Bolshevik Regime, Richard Pipes notes the Bolsheviks aggressive atheism and how they attacked religious beliefs and practices with a vehemence not seen since the days of the Roman Empire. Vladimir Lenin appointed this man to head the antireligious campaign in 1922.
(While born Jewish, he once said, I am not a Jew but an internationalist. Pipes notes: when Jews were perishing by the thousands in pogroms, he seemed not to notice. He was in the Ukraine in August 1919, when it was the scene of some of the bloodiest massacres. A British scholar with access to the Soviet archives found that [he] had received hundreds of reports about his own soldiers violence and looting of Jewish-Ukrainian settlements. And yet neither in his public pronouncements nor in his confidential dispatches to Moscow did he refer to these atrocities: in the collection of his speeches and directives for the year 1919, the word pogrom does not even figure in the index.)
Befitting his totalitarian temperament, he advocated the subjugation of the imagination to ideological standards, writing in Literature and Revolution (1924) of a watchful revolutionary censorship and that the party must repudiate overtly poisonous, destructive tendencies in art, applying the political criterion. His elaborations on Bolshevik aesthetic orthodoxy included:
If the revolution has the right to destroy bridges and art monuments whenever necessary, it will stop still less from laying its hand on any tendency in art which, no matter how great its achievement in form, threatens to disintegrate the revolutionary environment or to arouse the internal forces of the revolution, that is, the proletariat, the peasantry and the intelligentsia, to a hostile opposition to one another. Our standard is, clearly, political, imperative and intolerant.
During the period of revolution, only that literature which promotes the consolidation of the workers in their struggle against the exploiters is necessary and progressive. Revolutionary literature cannot but be imbued with a spirit of social hatred, which is a creative historic factor in an epoch of proletarian dictatorship.
if your comedy will try to say: See what we have been brought to; let us go back to the nice old nobleman's nest then, of course, the censorship will sit on your comedy, and will do so with propriety. But if your comedy will say: We are building a new life now, and yet how much piggishness, vulgarity and knavery of the old and of the new are about us; let us make a clean sweep of them, then, of course, the censorship will not interfere.
Having lost power but not dogma, in 1935 he wrote regarding the murder of Tsar Nicholas II, his wife, and their five children on July 17, 1918:
The decision was not only expedient but necessary. The severity of this punishment showed everyone that we would continue to fight on mercilessly, stopping at nothing. The execution of the Tsars family was needed not only to frighten, horrify, and instill a sense of hopelessness in the enemy but also to shake up our own ranks, to show that there was no retreating, that ahead lay either total victory or total doom. [Murdered with the imperial family were their physician and three servants.]
He wrote in his will a few months before being murdered in Mexico City in August 1940 by Spanish communist Ramón Mercader:
For forty-three years of my conscious life I have remained a revolutionist; for forty-two of them I have fought under the banner of Marxism. If I had to begin all over again I would of course try to avoid this or that mistake, but the main course of my life would remain unchanged. I shall die a proletarian revolutionist, a Marxist, a dialectical materialist, and, consequently, an irreconcilable atheist. My faith in the communist future of mankind is not less ardent, indeed it is firmer today, than it was in the days of my youth.
Born Lev Davidovich Bronshtein, this mass murderer and pioneer of savagery is better known as Leon Trotsky. And among his defenders today is the supposedly conservative author Stephen Schwartz.
Schwartz is a senior policy analyst at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and has written books on subjects ranging from Kosovo and California to Nicaragua and Spanish Marxism. Author most recently of The Two Faces of Islam: The House of Saud from Tradition to Terror, he has included himself among ex-Trotskyists who moved over to the conservative and patriotic side of the spectrum.
Yet one finds claims such as these in a June 11 article by Schwartz on National Review Online:
Trotsky, a man of moral consistency if nothing else, took responsibility for the crimes of the early Bolshevik regime.
It is certainly true that Trotsky's role at Kronstadt was abominable. It is also true that very few people today know or care about Kronstadt, which may or may not be bad.
Defending the crushing of Kronstadt, denying his role in it, defending the murder of the imperial family yup, lots of responsibility taken there. And even assuming Trotsky had taken responsibility, how would that diminish his immense criminality as an architect of historys most monstrous political system?
As for Schwartzs claim that general ignorance of Kronstadt may or may not be bad, would he write the same of the Nazis bombing of Guernica in 1937 or Stalins 1940 Katyn Forest massacre? Or was the body count of those murdered and sent to concentration camps at Kronstadt insufficiently high to deserve remembrance?
Political sympathies are often an affair of the heart as much as the mind, and Schwartzs continuing sympathy for Trotsky is a case in point. I come from the radical left, and in many respects, I haven't changed, he said in a March interview with The Atlantic Monthly.
Contact Myles Kantor at kantor@FreeEmigration.com.
http://www.theatlantic.com/unbound/interviews/int2003-03-20.htm Here is what Schwartz and his fellow neocons consider to be "conservatism" (neocon-style):
"If there's anything right now that's painful for me to have to say, because I do consider myself a conservative on issues like private property and privatization, it's that the record of big oilStandard Oil and its successorshas been so negative in the history of our country for so long that maybe the only solution is to have congressional hearings on the role of big oil in covering for and fronting for the Saudis. Maybe the only solution is to do what people wanted to do in 1907, which is to nationalize big oil."
Yeah, "nationalize 'Big Oil'"! Neocons = Neo-communism.
Actually, the concentration camps were invented by the British during the Boer War. The conflict cost the lives of 5,000 combatants, and 30,000 civilians who died behind British barbed wire of malnutrition and disease. This was a major demographic catastrophe for the Afrikaaner community.
Ah, but there is a connection. Royer quoted you in a polemic he addressed to Schwartz. Great minds think alike.