Welcome!

Dear Readers:

Welcome to Awful Avalanche, here is my blog concept and what I do:

I scan online newspapers from Russian-language press, in search of interesting stories and political topics.  These are stories which Russians themselves are reading and commenting upon.

I translate or at least summarize into English the content therein.

My target audience:  Russophiles, or anybody else who is interested.

I pick stories and analysis which interest me, generally from the following categories (this might evolve):

  • Breaking News,
  • Celebrity Gossip
  • True Crime,
  • Cat Fighting,
  • Human Interest Stories,
  • maybe even some Cute Animal Stories too!

Sincerely yours,

yalensis

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized | 38 Comments

The Triumphant Return Of This One Russian Episode – Part I

Dear Readers:

Continuing with Lyttenburgh’s review of the American prime-time TV line-up promoting Exceptionalism and Bloody Wars – yay!

Where we left off, Gary was infiltrating an Al Qaeda hang-out in Algiers, using his Exceptional acting skills…  Actually, that Team America clip reminded me how much I like that classic movie (from 2004) and its appropriate use of poorly-ambulating puppets to impose American dominance on the rest of the world.  A film which was rated R for “graphic crude and sexual humor, violent images and strong language – all involving puppets”.  A perfect analogy for American foreign policy in the post-9/11 period!

 

The only difference between movies like “Team America” and TV shows such as “The Brave”, is that the latter actually takes itself seriously!  Okay, Lyttenburgh, take it away for the next round:



The Triumphant Return Of This One Russian Episode…

Part I. Here be klyukva…

The very second episode of “The Brave” TV series transports its breathless with anticipation viewers thorough time and space into exotic and barbaric land of war torn post-colonial Africa. Eh, I mean Afghanistan of 1980s. No, it’s former Yugoslavia of 90s/00s

[The people hired to continue the article after the other people had been sacked, wish it to be known that they have just been sacked]

It transports us the viewers to the exotic and barbaric land of the Ukraine of today, but you’d have never guessed that, given the “picture” shown to us or the entire premise and the plot. The “transformation” here is much more radical and even sloppier than in the premiere episode with it’s very own “Damascus” playing the role of “Aleppo” of 2016.

Let’s start with the most blatant and eye-gouging fact – the central location of the plot, the supposed Eastern Ukrainian town of “Sverdlovsk” ( situated in Lugansk oblast just 8.5 km from Russian border ) was not even filmed in the Ukraine. As it usually happens, virtually all “Russian” cities in the Hollywoodish schlag passing for visual entertainment are filmed in locations deemed visually “appropriate enough” – i.e. in Bulgaria, Finland, Czechia and… Canada. This time though they chose Hungary of all places, cuz it’s most “authentic” (in the ignorant minds of the show’s producers) and, most important of all, cheaper way to have your very own “Russia” or something like that. After all (reason the studio bosses and their target viewership), these primitive barbaric Eastern Europeans are all alike, right?

In this case, the capitol of Hungary Budapest “plays” the role of the Eastern Ukrainian Sverdlovsk. Let this sink unto you – big ancient metropolitan city ( Budapest , population over 1.7 mln.) plays the role of a relatively recently founded provincial town (Sverdlovsk, population less than 65 000) with different geography, architecture, history and climate. Famous gothic cathedrals of Budapest featuring prominently in the background during some of the crucial scenes just kill the suspension of disbelief, so important for any show. It’s the equivalent of having an Empire State building looming in the scene of a movie allegedly taking place in some small mono-industrial town in Eastern Kentucky. And to totally murder its own alibi – the episode has several drone/chopper overflight scenes, which show this pseudo-Sverdlovsk in its all Hungarian glory from above.

No, citizen! If this place has a fast-food restaurant serving vareniki, then it is the (occupied) Ukraine, and not something else! Doubting the Word of Producers is dangerous free-thinking and apt demonstration, that you are dangerously not stupid, ergo – a clear and present danger to them. Be stupid and all-trusting – or else!..

The real Sverdlovsk has some Orthodox chapels, but no Gothic cathedrals.

Next, in this one particular “Sverdlovsk” you won’t see any street signs, ads and classifieds on the streets in Russian. When the show tries (too hard) to demonstrate how this exotic locale is in fact the “rebel occupied” Ukraine you will see some ad or sign in “Ukrainian” (suffering from mistakes and machine-translation) featuring prominently in the background of our protagonists. But if you look around elsewhere during 80% of the episode’s run, all street signs, graffiti and the like are in fact in… Hungarian. Meanwhile – virtually everyone of the locals speak Russian most of the time (or some unintelligible, very accented patois, which the directors think is Russian). Pfft – big deal for Hollywoodish bosses and their intended audience, who, probably, still think that the Cyrillic alphabet is universal Bolshevik script!

You also won’t see many typical Russian/Soviet cars on the streets. Lots of “Toyotas”, “Volvos”, “Škodas”, yes, and even 1 (one and same, shown in different scenes) “Volga” – but no ubiquitous “Zhiguli”, “Zaporozhets” or “Ladas”. It’s not like they could not find the “props” – as the future episode set in “Tehran” will show, they can scrounge the ubiquitous “Zhiguli” car after all.  The show’s creators also decided that instead of accidentally having a car with the registration plate from the “wrong” country, thus clearly “burying” their make-believe fantasy, they’d better commit yet another large scale mistake – thus in this episode all cars lack registration plates… except one, which reads “UK34ER.84”. I have no idea where they’d come up with this, but one thing I know for sure – this car did not come from either Russia or the Ukraine.

As you can see – even despite the continued war and shelling from the Ukrainian military, Lugansk of today still has typical “Russian” cars on its streets, even a few foreign models, but, most important of all, all of the cars use standard registration plates – either Russian or Ukrainian.

Finally – the most “klyukva rich” detail. According to this episode, all women have to cover their hair with scarves while on the street/at work, as if some kind of Orthodox Christian Sharia law works on the “occupied” territory, proclaiming the entirety of the great city of “Sverdlovsk” (named so after the famous Jewish Bolshevik leader Yakov Sverdlov, an atheist) to be a Holy Ground… But – again! – this rule applies only when the producers of the show remember about it in important scenes. Otherwise, if you look at the ordinary folks who share the screen place with the actors, you’d notice that the women of this unique “Sverdlovsk” do not follow this rule… And they shouldn’t, because this particular form of “Orthodox Sharia” exists only in the fervent klyukva marinaded minds of Hollywoodish script writers. This new dress-code rules surely would have come as a total surprise for the organizers of the contest “Lady on a Bicycle” in Lugansk.

^ Just one of the photos from the “Lady on a Bicycle” contest

Slightly less klyukvified detail is the biggest one. Big as the proverbial elephant in the room. The tech level. Its… moronically anachronistic. As the saying goes – “a rising tide lifts all boats”. Inventions and gadgets associated with the so-called First World now could be found in the hands of anyone everywhere on our planet – so ubiquitous have they became. There is one particularly poignant scene in “The Hurt Locker” by Kate Bigelow, when the people of a seemingly entire Baghdad neighborhood come from their houses to watch how the protagonists attempt to disarm the bombs… and then several of them begin shooting it on their mobile phones. This was nearly a decade ago in the USA-occupied Iraq, but by now mobile phones with camera and instant Internet connection are even more widespread among people. Virtually daily, we get scores if not hundreds of new videos instantly available to the ravenous Media coming from both sides of the frontlines in Donbass.

Even The Hurt Locker made technical errors!

But, apparently, not in the alternative universe of the TV series “The Brave”!  This fact is one of the many, many hints, that the show’s scriptwriters rely during their “brainstorming sessions” on some old/rejected sources and scripts dating back to, at least, the 1990s, spiced up by the jingoistic Orientalism of the 1890s. All “dem natives” are easily awed and bought over by the cheapest of trinkets, given to them by the Globe-Trotting Team of Exceptional People, spreading Freedom and Democracy one bullet at a time.

Tied to this tech level discrepancy is the following “logical” outcome – only the Good Guys have all the shiny toys. HQ in D.C. has it all – entire walls covered with monitors, super computers capable of hacking anything, satellites, drones akimbo… But never the opposition! Not just the faceless thugs on the ground, who serve only one purpose – to show how badass the field team is. No, the idea that, perhaps, the potential opposition might have their intelligence center HQ full of hi-tech goodies is tantamount to Heresy for the show’s creators. After all, the US have fought so many “lessers” for the last 30 years or so, targeting the people who can only fight back with car bombs and suicide belts, that the idea of even the hypothetical existence of an equally powerful peer power is something unthinkable… except for the comic books screen adaptations, of course.

In fact, right now before our own eyes, this long term policy of living in denial, of self-congratulating triumphalism, is quickly unraveling in the most hysterical, jingoistic and paranoid way possible, with various supposedly “legit” think-tanks of the Greater West now beating the drums of war and exaggerating the Russian threat. First, such clumsy attempts, reeking of schizophrenia and expressed by “analytical papers” suffering from acute form of schizophasia, tried to present Russia as both a looming powerful threat and, simultaneously, as a paper tiger, that (by jingo!) would come down crumbling from one decisive blow from the Designated Good Guys. But that was mostly in the blessed times of later Obama and during Clinton’s Pretendership. Now, especially after Russian success in Syria, think-tankers have to swallow the bitter pill of reality and start writing something more tangent, lest they will lose their funding. Like their latest “Russia Military Report”, that desperately rings the alarm bell, warning fellow exceptionalists about Russia’s “world-class electronic warfare forces” (c), which

“…support denial and deception operations and allow identification, interception, disruption, and, in combination with traditional fires, destruction of adversary command, control, communications, and intelligence capabilities.

In addition to technical disruption, effective use of electronic warfare can confuse adversary commanders and decisionmaking at any or all levels, demoralize opposing troops, and allow Russian forces to seize the operational initiative. Russia has fielded a wide range of ground-based electronic warfare systems to counter GPS, tactical communications, satellite communications, and radars. Further, military academics have suggested that electronic warfare fuse with cyber operations, allowing electronic warfare forces to corrupt and disable computers and networked systems as well as disrupt use of the electromagnetic spectrum. Russia has aspirations to develop and field a full spectrum of electronic warfare capabilities to counter Western C4ISR and weapons guidance systems.

The funniest thing here? This report was brought to all of us by the good people from the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) – the very same people who are the protagonists of the show “The Brave”.

Ouch!

But don’t worry – it gets worse.

[to be continued]

Posted in Art Criticism, Celebrity Gossip, Popular Culture | Tagged | 9 Comments

The Triumphant Return Of This One Russian Episode – Preface

Dear Readers:

And now, for something completely different!  My colleague Lyttenburgh is back, better than ever, with his new fan-faves from those wonderful American TV shows.  And don’t ask me why Lyt, a Russian gentleman-scholar, spends so much of his time watching American TV — well, probably because it’s just so damned good!

For those of you not familiar with Lyt’s previous oeuvre in this regard, he is the creative talent who introduced the Russian terms “klyukva” and “klyukvafication” to readers of the Avalanche.    Stereotyping Russia and Russians is an easy game for Westie media:  It’s cheap, fun, and carries no accountability, no negative consequences whatsoever!  And Hollywood is always quick with a cartoon stereotype at the service of its masters in the Military-Industrial Complex.  Covering the popular culture of this game, which consists of watching a lot of prime-time American TV, is a dirty job, but somebody has to do it.  Hence, without further ado, we will let Lyttenburgh get right down to it and share the results of his onerous research!



The triumphant return of This One Russian Episode.

(where we not only mock and deride Western stereotypical portrayal of Russia in the entertainment Media, but also strive to educate and enlighten)

Introduction:

She is a strong independent American woman in a position of authority placed to watch over the vital interests of her Exceptional Nation… She has a team of supercompetent specialists, men and women who exemplify all outstanding qualities of America and its multi-cultural character… Just recently, she suffered a tremendous, soul crushing loss, which made her whole world turn upside down… But she came back – and she came back with vengeance!..

This is a story of Hillary Rodham Clin…

[We apologize for the technical mistake in the intro. Those responsible have been sacked]

This is a story of  the Deputy Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency Patricia Campbell as told to us by the, ha-ha, talented creators of the new TV series on NBC – The Brave.

Preface

No big endeavor comes to life overnight. It requires time, effort and, most importantly, the original thought process that plans its path into reality. “The Brave” premiered on the last week of September, but was ordered in early May this year. Not being an insider in the Hollywood TV series production “kitchen”, I, still, can make an educated guess that before the big bosses of NBC greenlighted this particular pitch for the new series, it had been developed, thought over and pre-planned for months… And *before that* it was nothing but a conception, an idea, a thought… heavily influenced by the outside world and other thoughts, ideas, hopes and concepts that formed the current zeitgeist for a particular social group of Americans in 2016 AD.

Patricia defends America from drab hair and dark roots…

Ultimately – it all comes back to the inevitable election of Hillary Clinton for the highest office of the United States… which failed to materialize only in the real world. Already we’ve seen the “alternative histories” which showed us the Bright World of the Present, where Clinton is still the Secretary of the State and is an heir apparent to the presidency of the US, and many, many other alternative presents. Given the fact, that the Dream Factory of Hollywood actually creates a reality of its own, one that feels more real than the original – how can you accuse the creators of these shows to still be living in denial?  So, to paraphrase the old slogan from the USSR time: “while the HRC’s campaign is dead her Cause lives on!”. The real, living Madame Clinton, her words, thoughts and speeches do not matter anymore. A certain part of the intellectual (and not only) elite in the West has created their own egregore, their Personal Jesus which simply wears her face as a (very thin) skin-deep mask, covering beneath it all their wants and desires about America – and the world around it.

Thus, the appearance of such shows offering their viewership a peak into the World That Ought to Be (and still could be a reality – if you vote for our chosen candidates!) is inevitable. They are both good at capturing a particular zeitgeist from the previous (and more hopeful) years and then dialectically projecting them in the present and future only slightly changed in form, with an occasional addition of spicy headlines-grabbing allusions to what is trending now (and will most certainly be forgotten really soon). These shows are beyond time – already dated on arrival and precisely the exact thing that their target audience currently desires.

Speaking of whom – all of these TV shows while explicitly targeting the “adorable” sector of the Western population (which stands for Everything Good vs Everything Bad in the social sphere, supports “progressive causes” to further atomize their societies… and are totally okay with unlimited military interventions by the Exceptional Nation) are made as if by morons for imbeciles. These people, with their pretentions of being “intellectuals” and the air of authority derived from claiming to have “broad views” on everything, who are fed time and again (and with great success) the simplistic and shoddy made “messages” taking the form of the TV shows, books and the movies. Here, both their ignorance of the world at large and the unwillingness to change and improve said perceptions assure us that this state of affairs will go on to the mutual benefit of the confirmation bias driven “thinking” audience and various representatives of the “creative class” responsible for such content as “The Brave”.

The show’s premise ( as summed up on its official site) is the following:

“In a world where there are no obvious “bad guys”, where governments engage in secret wars and illegal activities that threaten the security of every individual and nation on the planet, a group of highly trained covert military operatives have just joined forces to become SOLDIER OF FORTUNE, an elite crime fighting unit. Led by retired Col. Matt Shepherd, SOF goes where our government cannot and will not venture, to protect national and international interests and to maintain the balance of power. Even in the new world order, people are still up to the same old tricks.”

[We apologize again for the fault in the article. Those responsible for sacking the people who have just been sacked, have been sacked]

Erm, I mean:

“This fresh, heart-pounding journey into the complex world of America’s elite undercover military heroes follows Captain Adam Dalton (Mike Vogel) and his heroic Special Ops squad of highly trained undercover specialists as they carry out each mission on the ground… All members of this elite squad, both in D.C. and across the world, have one thing in common: their resilience and commitment to freedom is unmatched by any other. Often facing insurmountable challenges, the team works tirelessly to get the job done and to prevail in even the most complex situations. Week after week, the team uses that determination along with their unbreakable bond to save the lives of innocent people and execute missions in some of the most dangerous places in the world.”

Captain Dalton likes it rough

There – much better! No shades of gray and the need to pretend to be freelancers of the 90s – only clear-cut of the perennial “Good vs Evil” picture of 2010s! Need to present even a paper-thin deniability? “Balance of power”? What kind of hippy-talk is that!? Also – lots and lots of new “gun porn” montages, hi-tech goodies and “Your Friend Mr. Surveillance Drone” as the Deus Ex Machina. A new shiny wrapper for the same old (expired) concept.

[Which still does not change the fact that Dalton and his team are illegal as hell kill-squad of the globe-trotting goons in the US employ, committing all sorts of crimes and ignoring other nations sovereignty.]

The Pilot Episode confirms several of the preconceptions about the show, in particularly of it being a “time capsule” from the pre-November 2016 age… and for treating the viewers like cretins. Let’s start with the blatant one – this unspecified “special forces” team (whom from now on I will simply call “Task Force: CHUTZPAH”) operates out of the US Air Force Incirlik base in Turkey – one perfectly calm place in good, friendly neighborhood! Well, “operates” is a strong word – most of the time they are either playing on a beach, or are barbecuing, or bitching and moaning between themselves on a stock of stereotypical issues, that such cardboard one-dimensional characters ought to do in the name of inducing DRAMA.

Thank you America for rescuing Li’l Bana!

Long story short, the first mission deals with the rescue of an American doctor (working for “Doctors Without Borders”) kidnapped by an-Nusra (the Al Qaeda in Syria, which by now changed half a dozen names) just north of Damascus… While for everyone even remotely familiar with the conflict in Syria it must be obvious, that the show’s creators actually meant Aleppo (remember what a big deal “massacred Aleppo” and tweets by the lil’ girl Bana were just a year ago?). If you have some doubts, then go and check the “MSF” official site, which states that:

“Despite the extent of the crisis and the needs, MSF’s [Médecins Sans Frontières – “Doctors Without Borders”] presence and medical activities in Syria are significantly constrained, mainly due to insecurity but also due to a lack of agreements and authorizations. These constraints are as present today as they were a year and a half ago. To this date, the Syrian government has not granted MSF authorization to work in the countryMSF nevertheless continues to directly operate six health facilities in the north of Syria, and puts significant energy into providing the best possible support to more than 150 health facilities countrywide, in areas where we cannot be directly present.”

But this is not some routine kidnapping for a ransom. According to the show, just a few weeks ago, brave American Air forces (needless to say/ignored by the viewership – operating totally illegally in the sovereign airspace of the Syrian Arab Republic) successfully bombed to death the leader of an-Nusra which (in the show) goes by the sobriquet “al-Baghdadi” (hmm… does it remind you anything?). So the Top Brass is afraid that the good doctor has mere hours before no-longer-moderate headchoppers will amass a lot of hype and views for their newest clip, featuring the execution of the pretty blonde American doctor.

Here comes the Cavalry, who needs to infiltrate doubly hostile territory (held in part by the Syrian government and by an-Nusra) and rescue their target. They blend in with the locals JUST PERFECTLY:

^No, really, it was kinda like that in the show.

Of course, the mission is a total and absolute success with no losses suffered and no one compromised. Once again – the incompetence and stupidity of the local Team America developed a chutzpah power of its own, while the opposition (by the Will of Show Producers) demonstrated their stupidity and incompetence of the true world champions in the game of give-away. There was not a single moment during the episode when you’d be worried that the protagonists might not succeed.

So, naturally, the next target of both the show’s creators and the invincible DIA combined team became Russia.

[to be continued]

Posted in Art Criticism, Celebrity Gossip, Popular Culture | Tagged | 2 Comments

Professor Chase: Trotsky In Mexico Part II-(M)

Dear Readers:

Thank you again for following me through this saga.  Today’s episode will be the final one — I promise — of this series.  Which isn’t to say, I won’t return to this material later, maybe in January; after all, there is still a Part III of Professor Chase’s monograph!  Argg!  But today’s post will finish off the material covered in his Part II, at least.

My Oscar speech:  “I want to thank all the little people out there who followed these characters, stories, and the entire High Concept of this Arc.  It’s been a wild ride, and I never expected this material to be so popular.  I started this series as a self-indulgent attempt to learn more about a painful period of Russian/Soviet history; a period that has always troubled me.  No, no, don’t get the wrong idea, it’s not like I have any “repressed” ancestors from back then, nor “repressors” either, as far as I know.  Technically, I don’t have a dog in the Stalin-Trotsky fight.  My loyalty always was to the Soviet Union itself, a nation which no longer exists; and to a flag that no longer waves.

Be that as it may, you could have bowled me over with a feather when I saw the Avalanche views and readership going up instead of down!  Lordy, maybe there is a thirst out there to understand what happened and to put it in context.  Every story has a backstory, every backstory has its own backstory, and none of these stories are simple at all!

Well, here again is the proper order of episodes in which to attack this mini-series, in case you are just diving into this story, and fortunately this is the last time I have to post this lengthy series of pingbacks self-referential links:

Intro to my series.
Part I-(A), Part I-(B), Part I-(C), Part I-(D).
Part II-(A), Part II-(B), Part II-(C), Part II-(D), Part II-(E), Part II-(F), Part II-(G), Part II-(H), Part II-(I), Part II-(J), Part II-K, Part II-L.

And then this current one, Part II-(M), which you are reading right now, having worked our way together right to the middle of the alphabet!  And all of this material based on this relatively brief monograph penned by Professor Chase!

Where We Left Off…

I had laid out the five planks of Professor Chase’s case against Trotsky.  With the accusation being that Trotsky crossed over the class line and became a Confidential Informant to the FBI.  Spilling his guts to J. Edgar’s henchmen about Soviet/Comintern type people operating in the Western Hemisphere.  Thus hampering the legitimate (as well as dicier) duties of these agents who operated in the service of the Soviet state and at the pleasure of its autocratic leader, Joseph Stalin.

A lot of this stuff was actually not a secret at all, it wasn’t like Trotsky was hiding in J. Edgar’s closet and whispering into Old Ducky’s ear, no, he was publishing articles blaring to the entire world, how the Comintern worked, and how they recruited agents from among politicians, trade union officials, and the press.  Trotsky made many such allegations (all of them true) in the course of his public libel suits involving Mexican newspapers.  The issue here being, I think, not legitimate Communist influence — for example, it goes without saying that a Communist Party newspaper will be staffed by Communists and promote the Communist Line — but the fact that certain people were pretending to be just regular “rank-and-file”, ordinary Joes, but were actually card-carrying Communists.  In modern terms, we would say this was more an issue of disclosure than anything else.  Theoretically, people should not hide their political party affiliations unless they have a legitimate reason to be sneaky.  Like if they live in a fascist state and need to protect their family.  Speaking of which, any one of these closet Communists in Mexico represented an actual physical threat to Trotsky and his family.

The Nation magazine is still around today

Trotsky did not limit his attacks to the Mexican press:  In his Footnote #40, Professor Chase notes how Trotsky publicly attacked Harry Block, editor of The Nation, an American liberal/left journal which at the time in question tilted towards the Soviet Union and Communist Party.  Trotsky did not mince any words, calling The Nation’s editorial staff a “reptile breed“.  Trotsky felt nothing but contempt for those American liberals (as they were termed, at the time) who apologized for Stalin’s crimes.  After shaming itself by reporting the Moscow Trials of 1936-38 as if they were anything but a giant farce, The Nation continued to take its talking points from the Kremlin, for example, insinuating that Trotsky had organized his own Home Invasion as a false-flag type conspiracy:

I see that the Nation, which besmirched itself through its attitude in regard to the Moscow judicial frame-ups, has hurried again this time to support the fantastic and stupid versions of the GPU in connection with the attack of May 24. Everyone it seems is guilty, General Almazan, the “reaction,” possibly Trotsky himself – but by no means Stalin.
Meanwhile, the Mexican police have uncovered the assailants. They are – by accident – agents of Stalin
What an infamous reptile breed these radicals of the Nation! But they will not escape their punishment: we shall teach the American workers to appreciate them as they deserve – to despise them.

Trotsky goes on to display his mastery of polemics — he would have been great in today’s world of blogposts and Twitter — by combining Harry Block, Block’s wife as the daughter of a Mexican Oil Company lawyer; and Block’s confederate, Lombardo Toledano, the GPU’s main agent in Mexico!  All of this is good stuff, and classic Trotsky invective.  Of which art, his talent surpassed even that of the master himself, V.I. Lenin.  I personally believe that Trotsky’s attacks against The Nation are legitimate “inter-movement” polemics, this is classic expose of an opponent’s background and family connections, when these factors bear on his political bias and his editorial choices.

Up until now, Trotsky has been completely transparent.  Many errors can be forgiven when a person is transparent about them and sincerely believes that he is doing the right thing.   We saw in the last post how the abduction and murder of Trotsky’s bodyguard Robert Sheldon Harte brought the American FBI to Trotsky’s door; as the American consulate took up the matter of the murder of an American citizen in Mexico City.  Trotsky communicated with the American police and FBI the same material which he also published openly in his article, about the Comintern and its relationship with the Soviet GPU.  We saw how Trotsky met with the American consul McGregor, and repeated his accusations against the Mexican press and trade union leadership.  Uncovering oodles of GPU agents literally hiding under beds, Trotsky named names of likely GPU agents working the means streets of Mexico, such as the Italian Communist Vittorio Vidali, who operated in Mexico under the alias Carlos Contreras.

Tina Modotti

Vidali was one of the founders of the Italian Communist Party, but was forced to flee his country when Mussolini took over, in 1922.  He moved to Moscow, was recruited as a Comintern agent, and assigned to duty in Mexico.  His wiki notes, intriguingly, that he had a long-lasting affair with photographer and fellow Comintern activist Tina Modotti, who had previously been romantically involved with Diego Rivera – one Degree of Separation!  And reminds us that Rivera himself had a long and fruitful back-story, he didn’t just suddenly emerge from the ocean on a clam-shell.

But the two lovers, Rivera and Modotti, went their separate ways:  After some dicey events worthy of a Dostoevsky novel and including the assassination of a Cuban communist agent, which Diego immortalized in one of his own murals, Rivera turned against Stalin and was expelled from the Mexican Communist Party.  Which brought him naturally into Trotsky’s orbit.  Whereas the gorgeously beautiful Modotti remained loyal to the Party and chose the macho brute Vidali over the effeminate artist Rivera.  Rivera was apparently always bitter about Modotti leaving him for Vidali, and even accused the latter of offing Tina (in 1942) “because she knew too much” (about all the people Vidali had executed in Spain) — however, this allegation proved false, as an autopsy showed that Tina died a natural death, of congestive heart failure, while returning from a dinner party in a taxi cab with Pablo Neruda!

Modotti was a real-life Bond-girl type secret agent.  According to her wiki, she later plotted the assassination of her own lover (Vidali), and chided the assassin when he balked:  You should have shot him, I hate him“. Yet she continued: “I have to follow him until I die” (which she in fact did).

Vittorio Vidali and the Quinto Regimiento, in Barcelona

During the Spanish Civil War, Vidali, always accompanied by his Black-Widow Bond-girl Modotti, headed an organization known as the Quinto Regimiento (“Fifth Regiment”), within the International Brigades.  Their job was to hunt and kill Trotskyists within the broader anti-Franco movement.  Vidali may have been involved in the abduction and torture-death of Andreu Nin.  Estimates of Vidali’s kills go as high as 400 targeted assassinations of Trotskyists and POUM cadre.

wiki:  “Back in Mexico, Vidali was definitely involved in the May 24, 1940 failed frontal assault on Trotsky’s residence in Mexico City, along with [Iosif Romualdovich] Grigulevich [another Quinto Regimiento assassin] and Mexican painter David Alfaro Siqueiros. Vidali is thought to have been involved with the insertion of assassin Ramón Mercader into Trotsky’s inner circle – Mercader was to kill Trotsky later that year.”

An enraged Trotsky named names and dished Vidali to the American consul as likely suspect in his Home Invasion and the murder of Robert Harte.  It is difficult to feel much Leninist solidarity for the likes of Vidali, as the vast majority of his professional activities appear to be of the criminal and murderous nature.  An internal “enforcer” for the capo di capo.  Unlike a, say, dual-purpose tool like Nahum Eitingon, who was also a monster, but along the way accomplished some valid objectives as well, such as stealing the American A-bomb!  Were it not for which, the USA might have burned the USSR to toast at the height of the Cold War, murdering literally millions of innocent Soviet citizens, just as the arrogant Americans nuked innocent Japanese people without a single tear of remorse.

Dear Readers:  Do you see the incessant ethical dilemmas here?  Once again, we are in extreme Talmud territory.  Where it is impossible for despised Outsiders to navigate treacherous and complicated waters without an elaborate Code of Conduct.  Or Pirate’s Code, if you will.  But what happens when the Pirate Code breaks down completely?

And Finally, the Cornell Memorandum

Like I said, up until now Trotsky has been completely transparent.  Everything that he did — right or wrong — was documented and open to discussion.  Everything that he said, whether to the FBI or anyone else, was also penned in pamphlets, using living bile as ink.  But then we get to the “Cornell Memorandum” which, as far as I can tell, is the only thing that Professor Chase has found during his rummaging in the archives, which backs up his insinuations of any kind of secret conspiracy between Trotsky and the American government.  And the real nugget is hidden away in a footnote.

What follows is the paragraph in full (the very last paragraph of Part II of this monograph), followed by the last two footnotes; and then the translation into English.  But first a brief word about Charles Cornell himself.  Astute readers will recall, during the Assassination Flash-forward scene, that Cornell, along with Joseph Hansen attacked and subdued assassin Mercader.  While Hansen used his powerful fists to turn Mercader’s face into mush, Cornell also got in a few licks himself, and I wouldn’t expect anything less from a man born in Cochise, Arizona.

In this famous photo, Mercader re-enacts his crime for the benefit of the Mexican police.

After the earlier home invasion (May 24, 1940), Cornell, along with Otto Schüssler, another member of Trotsky’s inner circle, was arrested by the Mexican police.  See, the Stalinists, while always quick to accuse Trotskyists of “collaborating” with law enforcement, were no shy violets themselves when it came to yelling “Police!  Arrest that thief!”  The Mexican police were “informed” by the Stalinist side, that Trotsky had staged the Home Invasion on himself, as a false flag.  The cops duly arrested both Cornell and Schüssler, and launched an investigation into the crime.  Fortunately for both men, the Mexican police, being astute and shrewd, as they usually are, quickly saw through the blatant deflection.  History does not record what Cornell might have endured in his two days in a Mexican jail cell.  But enough of that, and back to Professor Chase, reporting on Cornell’s activities a couple of months after that ordeal, when he was back at his post as a Trotsky secretary/bodyguard:

18 июля Ч.Корнелл, один из секретарей Троцкого, передал сотруднику американского консульства Джорджу Шоу «сугубо конфиденциальный меморандум», в котором Троцкий проанализировал деятельность в Мексике некоего Энрике Мартинеса Рики. В нем утверждалось, что Рики был агентом ГПУ в Латинской Америке, который спланировал и возглавлял чистку Компартии Мексики в 1940 г., но действовал из Нью-Йорка и «имел прямые контакты с Москвой»

J.Edgar Hoover was extremely interested in Trotsky’s theories of Permanent Revolution.

Foonote #59:  Меморандум Макгрегора датирован 13 июля 1940 г. и приложен к письму Дж. Шоу к государственному секретарю США. (National Archives. RG84. G.P.Shaw to Secretary of Slate. July 15, 1940). Госдепартамент переслал меморандум ФБР. Макгрегор пишет: «Троцкий, без сомнения, видит в себе самую важную персону, а не беженца в изгнании. Он говорит о советской политике в отношении Мексики как направленной в первую очередь против Соединенных Штатов и, во-вторых, против него лично». Интересно, что журнал почтовой переписки Троцкого, где регистрировалась вся исходящая корреспонденция, содержит сведения об отсылке двух писем Стюарту — от «W» (вероятно, Уолтера О’Рурке, секретаря Троцкого) и от Троцкого. В архиве Троцкого их копий нет, поэтому невозможно установить, был ли Стюарт, о котором сделана запись в журнале, Джеймсом Стюартом, сотрудником консульства США. Нельзя исключить, что Троцкий о чем-то писал в американское консульство еще до покушения на него 24 мая 1940 г.

Footnote #60:  National Archives. RG84. G.Р.Shaw to Secretary of State, July 18, 1940. Информация о Рики была передана госдепартаменту, который переслал ее в ФБР. См.: FBI Files, J.E.Hoover to Special Agent in Charge. N.Y., September 18, 1940.

TRANSLATION

On July 18 [1940] Charles Cornell, one of Trotsky’s secretaries, handed over to G.P. Shaw, an official of the American consulate, a “highly confidential” memorandum, in which Trotsky analyzed the activities in Mexico of a certain Enrique Martinez Ricci [yalensis:  My guess at the spelling of the name; I can’t find this spy anywere on google].  Trotsky alleged that Ricci was a GPU agent operating out of New York City, and responsible for the Latin American arena.  That Ricci had organized and carried out the purge of the Mexican Communist Party in 1940, but operated out of New York and maintained direct ties with the Kremlin.

Foonote #59:  [Robert G.] McGregor’s memorandum is dated July 13, 1940 and is appended to Shaw’s letter to the U.S. Secretary of State, (National Archives. RG84. G.P.Shaw to Secretary of Slate. July 15, 1940).  The State Department forwarded the memorandum to the FBI.  McGregor writes:  “Trotsky without a doubt views himself as a very important person, and not as an exiled refugee.  He talks about Soviet policies in Mexico as being directed primarily against the U.S., and secondarily against himself personally.”  It is interesting that Trotsky’s diary, in which he registered all outgoing mail contains two references to letters to [a certain] Stewart.  One letter from “W”, probably referring to Walter O’Rourke, another one of Trotsky’s secretaries; the second letter from Trotsky himself.  In Trotsky’s archive there are no copies of these letters, therefore it is impossible to say whether or not the “Stewart” in question refers to American Consul James B. Stewart.  Therefore we cannot exclude (the possibility) that Trotsky was communicating with the American consulate about something even prior to the (Home Invasion) of May 24.

Trotsky as a young, idealistic revolutionary

That footnote contains the only nugget in this monograph that is truly incriminating against Trotsky — well, unless one considers the entire concept of communicating with the class enemy in this fashion to be unacceptable, including the naming names of Soviet spies — and that’s a valid point of view!   Professor Chase does not provide the dates, but explicitly states that the diary-entries for these outgoing letters to Stewart preceded May 24, the date of the Home Invasion.  Therefore, the contents of the epistles could not have had anything to do with Harte’s murder, nor participate in whatever aura of mitigation that traumatic event cast on Trotsky’s campaigns against GPU assassins during the last two months of his life.  And we don’t have copies of the letters either, so we don’t know what Walter and/or Trotsky said to Stewart.  Or even if this was the same Stewart, as Professor Chase concedes (though, most likely it was).

I have compared this saga to the American TV show “Lost”, which began with a ferociously good storyline and ended sort of lamely, when you come to learn that the whole final season was just the “imaginings” of the major characters as they sat in Purgatory waiting to move on to either Heaven or Hell.  Hardly much better than a dream sequence, really.  Yawn!  And so too, I have to finish this series fairly lamely, without any huge new revelations, or moral grandstanding.  It’s just a story of a bunch of people. probably ALL of them suffering from PTSD, and all of them doing very bad things to each other.

People out there:  Try to be kind to one another.  Or, if you can’t be kind, at least don’t be cruel!

And there you have it, and with this I conclude this series.

Posted in Celebrity Gossip, Russian History, True Crime | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments

Professor Chase: Trotsky In Mexico Part II-(L)

Dear Readers:

Here again is the proper order of episodes in which to attack this mini-series, in case you are just diving into this story:

Intro to my series.
Part I-(A), Part I-(B), Part I-(C), Part I-(D).
Part II-(A), Part II-(B), Part II-(C), Part II-(D), Part II-(E), Part II-(F), Part II-(G), Part II-(H), Part II-(I), Part II-(J), Part II-K.

And then this current one, Part II-(L), which you are reading right now!  Thus proving to the world that I learned my English alphabet well enough.  And all of this material based on this relatively brief monograph penned by Professor Chase!

But When Did He Pen It?

I have been saying the Professor penned this work in 2003, because that is the date on the Russian-language monograph.  However, a friend sent me this link yesterday, and there are several others out there very similar.  I had mentioned before that various Stalinist and/or Maoist cadre parties around the world were inspired and bolstered by Professor Chase’s research.  They cite his work, but I had not noticed before that (they say) his research was actually published a decade earlier than I thought, namely in 1993.

Chairman Mao

For example, the writer from the above-linked Maoist-leaning “Red Youth” magazine cites a 1993 article from The Independent dealing with the Diego Rivera revelations.  Presumably this material was written by, or based on, the research of Professor Chase himself.  I couldn’t find that Independent piece, all this time I have been going on the assumption that Professor Chase blew the lid off this a decade later, with his 2003 monograph written for a Russian journal.  I would be interested to get my hands on the original Independent piece, if anyone has the link.  Mainly because I am tired of transliterating names from Russian back into English or Spanish.  In any case, I am sort of glad that I was previously unaware of the earlier piece.  Since it was in English already, I would not have felt the need to give it my “special treatment”, and therefore would have deprived myself of a great education, which I acquired while working my way through this material.

Essence Versus Causality

Anyhow, the Maoist Red Youth piece covers the meat of Professor Chase’s allegations against Trotsky.  The “Youth” believe that Chase has proved what they have been saying all along, namely that “Trotskyism is truly the agent of the ruling class within the ranks of the working class.”

Well, separating out for just a minute Trotsky-ism from the figure of Trotsky himself, the Chase-ite case against Trotsky is built on 5 main building blocks:

  1. Trotsky badly wanted a visa to travel to the United States, and would have done anything short of contort himself into somebody else’s suitcase.
  2. Trotsky only pretended to break ties with Diego Rivera.
  3. Both Rivera and Trotsky burned with desire to testify at the HUAC hearings regarding the nature of Stalinism.
  4. It has been proved, from material in U.S. government archives, that Rivera had confidential meetings with American officials and provided names of known Mexican Communists.
  5. Trotsky also had private meetings with U.S. officials and FBI agents.

All five of which points (especially #4 and #5 which are the actual meat in this dinner) leading to the “inescapable conclusion” that Trotsky, at least during this final stage of his life, had become a “confidential informant” of the FBI.

And then, Red Youth, using that Stalinist propensity to form logical combinations involving a teleological view of the world plus chronological “backwards causality”, implying that this proves Stalin to have been right all along about the counter-revolutionary “essence” of Trotskyism.

Trotskyists, on the other hand, from what I understand with my poor grasp of philosophy, don’t so much believe in “essences”, as they believe in materialism, in the random collision of particles and quarks and suchlike, and in chronologically-based cause and effect.  Or, as my mom likes to put it, “Things happen, people change…”

“Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, this is a picture of a gun…”

For example, if this were a trial, and the Prosecution had just finished their case with the above 5 planks, then what would the Defense say in return?  Well, they could deny what could be denied, and explain the rest.  But suppose it were all true.  Suppose Trotsky did actually cross the class line at that point in his life?   Went over to the Dark Side?  Surely there were mitigating circumstances, which his Attorney could plead to the proletarian jury?  Let us hear Trotsky himself, in that very last work that he penned right after the Home Invasion (in which David Siqueiros and his goons pumped machine-gun bullets into the bed of Trotsky’s 14-year-old grandson) and just a few weeks before the old man’s actual assassination:

In recent years the GPU has destroyed several hundred of my friends in the USSR, including members of my family. In Spain the GPU killed my former secretary, Erwin Wolf, and a number of my political co-thinkers; in Paris they killed my son, Leon Sedov, who was hunted by Stalin’s professional murderers for two years. In Lausanne, Switzerland, the GPU killed Ignace Reiss, who came over from the ranks of the GPU to the side of the Fourth International. In Paris Stalin’s agents killed another of my former secretaries, Rudolph Klement, whose body was found in the Seine. This list could be continued indefinitely.

And so, as Ostap Bender might say, Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury, are these not mitigating circumstances…

To which the Stalinists would just sneer:  “Oh Boo hoo!  There is no excuse for what you did, Trotsky!  You never should have gone against Comrade Stalin – Stalin was right, he was always right, and the proof of that is that he won the war against Hitler!”

Teleology and Mitigation aside, let us deal with the actual 5 planks of the Prosecution case.  Well, glossing over #1, let’s just say that Professor Chase has not convinced me that Trotsky’s desire for a U.S. visa (for research and/or medical treatment, or just to live a safer life, whatever) impelled him to become the butt-monkey of the FBI.  Now, if he had actually gotten the visa, we could probably ask ourselves:  What did he have to do to get it?  But he didn’t get it, so that’s moot.

Moving on to #2:
Rivera and Trotsky broke personal relations on May 31, 1940” –  this is not factual, Dear Red Youth.  The date of May 31, 1940 was when Trotsky wrote to the Mexican District Chief that he had broken with Rivera 15 months earlier, which puts their actual break-up at February-March 1939.

That could just be a forgivable typo, though.  But get a load of this:

But many people were mutual friends of the two, both of them worked in the same organisations such as the American Committee for the Defence of Leon Trotsky (ACDLT). Charles Curtiss was such a friend who sent Trotsky several reports of his meetings with Rivera: ‘During my visit in Mexico,  from July 4, 1938 to approximately July 15, 1939, I was in close association with Diego Rivera and Leon Trotsky…. I served as an intermediary between them,’ (Writings of Leon Trotsky, 1939-40).  Trotsky of course knew of this, thus helping Rivera in supplying information to the FBI.”

Charles Curtiss

Okay, leaving aside that last barb about “Trotsky of course knew” about Rivera finking to the FBI.  We don’t actually know that.  Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t, but we don’t know one way or the other.  This is a good example of [Proof by Assertion], but let’s look at the actual dates here.  For starters, Curtiss said he served as an intermediary between Trotsky and Rivera during the period July 4, 1938 to July 15, 1939.  Well, if you take those dates to be exact, then we need to partition this swath of time into two segments:  Pre-breakup months July 1938 – February 1939.  And post-breakup months February 1939 – July 1939.

If the Curtiss timeline is accurate, then it does indeed include a few months (say, March-July, 1939) after the break-up.  When Trotsky said he wasn’t speaking to Rivera.  But, like my mom says, there are always two sides to every story.  According to the Curtiss wiki, Charles was merely attempting to reconcile two old friends who had become enemies:

Charles Curtiss, who was fluent in Spanish, was repeatedly sent as a representative of the American Trotskyist movement to Mexico in the 1930s. There he was known as Carlos Curtiss. He also visited Leon Trotsky in Coyoacán several times. From June 1939 to August 1940, Curtiss lived in the Trotsky household and his wife, Lillian Ilstien, who he had married in 1935, served as secretary for Trotsky’s wife Natalia Sedova.Charles Curtiss functioned as Trotsky’s primary link with the Mexican Trotskyists. It would have been illegal and unwise under the terms on which Trotsky was granted asylum in Mexico for Trotsky to maintain direct political contact with radical communist revolutionaries in his host country. Curtiss also tried to resolve the personal differences between Trotsky and the famous Mexican artist Diego Rivera.

Curtiss used his printing skills to produce the SWP’s weekly newspaper

And just finishing up with Curtiss before we move on, this is an interesting man with an interesting biography.  Born Samuel Kurz, the son of Polish immigrants, Curtiss was a true proletarian revolutionary, who earned his living as a miner, sailor and skilled printer.  I am just egregiously plagiarizing his wiki here, but apparently Kurz joined the American Trotskyist faction as early as 1928.  (The organization didn’t become the SWP until a decade later, under Trotsky’s personal direction.)

When the United States entered World War II in 1941, the SWP took a principled opposition to U.S. involvement in the war, and were rewarded with jail sentences (under the Smith Act), while Earl Browder publicly gloated at their misfortune.  What with 18 of the SWP’s most important leaders in the pokey, Curtiss (who was in the second tier of leadership) was forced to move to New York City to take the reins of the Party.  However, he was soon drafted into the army, served in Italy during the war, returned alive, went back into the movement, only to retire from revolutionary politics in 1951; and died of heart failure in that fateful year 1993, when Professor Chase first published his revelations about Trotsky.  Coincidence?  You be the judge!

The Grand Theory

Returning to the issue of Cause and Effect.  Did the assassination attempt against Trotsky set a milestone mark in this chronicle, or was it relatively irrelevant?  In other words, was Trotsky already communicating improperly with the American government even before the assassination attempt against him (as Professor Chase apparently believes)?  Or were his private communications a later result of the Home Invasion and the sequelae to that crime?

In our previous episode, we ran into some issues with Diego Rivera’s timeline of rat-finkery.  According to Trotsky himself (whom we have no reason to doubt, unless he was deliberately dissembling), the aging revolutionary had broken ties with Rivera around February-March 1939.  The Curtiss wiki stated that the rift was “personal”, but Trotsky’s grandson, Esteban (“Seva”) alleged that it was due to unspecified “political differences”.  Since this was still a few months before Molotov-Ribbentrop (the event which drove away most Trotskyists and decimated the Fourth International), one can only speculate what exactly were these political differences?  Possibly the same differences which caused the earlier split between Trotsky and Andrés Nin Pérez of the Spanish POUM?

Nin disproved the theory that pipe-smoking is a feature only of Stalinism.

This is pure speculation, but in the world of Trotskyism, virtually all factional splits are caused by issues of defining exactly what the Soviet Union was, or wasn’t.  An exact definition, an almost perfect Theory of the Soviet Union — this is the Holy Grail for Trotskyist theoreticians.  Trotsky’s own Grand Theory (dubbed the “Thermidor” theory, due to the analogies with the French Revolution) threaded the camel through the needle very finely, was too sophisticated/convoluted for most followers to understand; and needed later modifications (after Trotsky’s death) to account for new things appearing in the world, for example, the Cuban Revolution.  In fact, we saw, in a previous episode of this mini-series, that Trotsky’s bodyguard, Joseph Hansen — the same guy who beat the old man’s assassin Ramón Mercader to a pulp — later went on to become a “Friend of Cuba”, and was wandering through the streets of Havana around the same time as the guy he once beat half to death.  So, this was a (former?) Trotskyist who sort of tilted in the “Friendly Stalinist” direction.  Who realized that Communism (with a capital “C”) wasn’t so bad after all if you had a decent guy like Fidel Castro in charge, instead of that Thermidorian brute, Stalin.

Other Trotskyists (like other Stalinists) went the other way, crossed over to the Truly Dark Side, made their peace with Kapital and became imperialist apologists.  The power of Kapital being like a giant black hole that uses its gravitational force to suck in everybody who has not strapped themselves to the mast, like Captain Ahab in the Grand Storm off the Cape of Good Hope.

Victor Serge: The lone survivor.

In Trotsky’s lifetime, fellow-travellers such as George Orwell and Victor Serge had come to the conclusion that the Soviet Union, under Stalin’s leadership, had degenerated all the way (like that final scene in “Animal Farm”) and become a full-fledged capitalist or perhaps even fascist country.  Trotsky could not agree with that; but even his own wife, Natalia Sedova (who outlived her husband by 22 years!) eventually broke with the Fourth International in 1951, having come round to the Serge-ite view that “Animal Farm USSR” was a capitalist state.   Ah, if only these people had lived until 1991 to see the glory that was Boris Yeltsin, then they could have tasted the bitter cup of reality; and yea verily known the true difference between a “degenerated” socialist government and actual real-life sharky capitalism!

But returning to our talented Diego and his troubled timeline:  Let’s just stipulate that he broke with Trotsky in February-March of 1939, due to whatever personal (wikipedia) or political (Esteban Volkov) differences.  And that our diligent Agent Carlos (Curtiss) either was, or was not, successful, in his diplomatic efforts to bring those two old pals back together again.  “C’mon, guys, let’s see a big hug!”

Left to Right: Natalia, Frida, Trotsky, and … some other guy

So, nine months after his break-up with Trotsky, in December 1939 Rivera is bragging to the world that his testimony to the American HUAC will disclose the activities of Stalinist agents in Mexico.  A month after that, January 1940 Rivera is documented rat-finking to the American consul in Mexico City, giving up names of “secret Communists” and whatever other tidbits he knew or pretended to know about the local Stalinists.

From the Point of View (POV) of the American government, this was apparently:  “Ho-hum.”  Now, if Rivera had been a member of the Mexican Communist Party, then he might have really known some interesting stuff, or perhaps even been recruited as a double agent.  As it was, he probably didn’t know much that the Americans didn’t already know.

Whatever the usefulness or uselessless of Rivera’s dishings, Professor Chase proved his point, which I covered in Part II(I) of this series, by doing what good historians do:  He delved into the archives of the American Secretary of State.  The archives in question being numbered, e.g., RG84 and RG59.  All of Diego’s rat-finkery occuring well before the two assassination attempts against Trotsky; and, in any case, Rivera himself was not in danger of assassination, although he might have thought he was.  Recall that Rivera’s loyal secretary and biography Leah Brenner, whose archives are kept at the University of Texas (in case any budding historians out there want to check them out) received death threats and had to flee to the U.S. for protective custody, for at least a short period of time.  Leah was an American citizen, by the way, which Rivera was not.

The McGregor Meetings

Now, Professor Chase, as we have mentioned, insinuates that Trotsky actually crossed over to the Dark Side around the same time as Rivera, with the same motives, and that even before the infamous Home Invasion.  For example, Trotsky’s desire to testify at the HUAC jamboree, etc.   But Trotsky’s plan to grandstand in front of HUAC was public, not secret, and was known to everybody in the world.  It almost caused a major split within the SWP, which was averted only by Trotsky stubbornly asserting his authority.  “You will NOT stop me from using them as a tribune for my oratory!”

Did Trotsky’s chickens come home to roost?

Hence, technically, the Stalinists could make this point:  Stalin, reading in his morning newspaper that Trotsky intended to testify at HUAC and name names of his precious NKVD agents, made a firm decision, however much it pained him to do so, to liquidate the Trotsky family.  In order to avert this threat to legitimate Soviet espionage interests.

Unfortunately for Stalin, the Home Invasion did not go well, Nahum Eitingon’s team screwed up badly, that’s what you get for hiring fresco painters to do the work of professional hitmen.  But now Trotsky is super-mad and biting back like a rabid dog backed into a corner.

“Red Youth” picks up the story:

‘In June [1940], Robert McGregor of the [US] Consulate met with Trotsky in his home… he met again with Trotsky on 13 July… Trotsky told McGregor in detail of the allegations and evidence he had compiled… He gave to McGregor the names of Mexican publications, political and labour leaders, and government officials allegedly associated with the PCM [Mexico and the USSR were the only countries in the world to materially support the fight against Franco’s Fascism in the Spanish Civil War 1936-39]. He charged that one of the Comintern’s [the Communist international’s] leading agents, Carlos Contreras served on the PCM Directing Committee. He also discussed the alleged efforts of Narciso Bassols, former Mexican Ambassador to France, whom Trotsky claimed was a Soviet agent, to get him deported from Mexico.’

‘Upon receipt, the State Department transmitted McGregor’s memo to the FBI.

‘…The Information, while not new, responded to both bodies’ concerns.’

But let’s hear this same story from the horse’s mouth, namely Professor Chase; you see, Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury, “Red Youth” has omitted a key reason why Trotsky met with McGregor:

“Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury…”

“… After 24 May Trotsky and his colleagues began to assist the [American] consulate in their investigation of the abducted [and murdered] bodyguard Robert Sheldon Harte.  Trotsky’s secretaries gave testimony at the consulate regarding the (Home Invasion) and about Mr. Harte.  In June Robert G. McGregor of the American consulate met with Trotsky at his home to discuss the Harte matter.  He (McGregor) met with Trotsky again on July 13 to find out how the investigation was going.  Trotsky told him all about his suspicions…”  (etc, this is where Trotsky dishes his crazy conspiracy theory about Stalin and the Comintern being behind the hit squad…)

It makes a bit of a difference when additional facts are added to the mix, no?  “Red Youth” never even mentioned Harte’s name.  Harte was an American citizen, this explains the interest of the American consul in investigating his murder.  And I venture to guess, that if “Red Youth” were staging Trotsky’s trial, this factor never would have been adduced into evidence.  I could get even snarkier and imagine the methods these “youth” would use to extract confessions of the accused, but I don’t think I’ll go there…  We are conducting an honest trial here, Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury…

[to be continued]

Posted in Celebrity Gossip, Russian History, True Crime | Tagged , , , , | 12 Comments

Professor Chase: Trotsky In Mexico Part II-(K)

Dear Readers:

Muchas gracias to those of you who have stayed with me throughout this epic arc.  We are almost done with this (Chase Part II) treatment, but not quite there yet.  The final segment, when we get there, will be a drier recounting of names, dates and translating footnotes.  But I am still trying to set the stage, introducing new characters as a I go, skipping forward and back in time, and striving, as honestly and objectively as I can, to separate cutlets from flies.

Twin brothers: But which one is good, and which one is evil?

It’s like that last season of the American TV show “Lost”.  Just when you thought you knew all the characters and had a good handle on what was going on — all of a sudden they introduce these two twin boys.  One is light-haired, the other dark.  Turns out, their mom was shipwrecked on the island when she was just about to give birth to them.  Then this other woman just shows up out of the blue, it is never explained exactly who she is; she helps the other lady birth her twins, and then she bashes her (the mom) over the head with a rock, kills her, and raises her boys.  And we are told that this new lady is the good guy, despite her rock-bashing proclivities.  And later we are told that the light-haired youth is the good twin, because he is obedient to his murderous foster mom and helps her to keep the other brother trapped on the island, even though he wants to leave and live a normal life in the real world.  And we are told that the dark-haired boy is evil, because he wants to leave the island, and because he doesn’t like his foster mom any more, after learning about what she did.  So, which kid is really the evil one?

I am obviously building a clumsy metaphor here for Stalin vs Trotsky.  Two twins begat from the same womb of Lenin (I know, bad metaphor, ugh!).   So, which one is the good son of Lenin, and which one the evil?  Or, is it possible that, in a Hegelian universe, both sons have a dual nature?  Trotsky — an outstounding revolutionary and brilliant theoretician of Marxism, but also an amazing egomaniac.  Stalin — a solid worker bee and excellent manager, but also an amazing murderer.

Portrait of Stalin, June 1940

Of which, Stalin’s dual nature is of more interest to the purpose of this discussion.  We are all familiar with the notion of a “dual-purpose” tool.  For example, an ice pick has a specific and useful function as a kitchen implement.  But it could also be used to kill someone.  An extra, non-authorized, and illegitimate use.  Same deal with Stalin:  On the one hand, he is the man who ordered most of Trotsky’s family and friends to be murdered.  For no really good reason, except that he wanted them all out of the way.  On the other hand, Stalin was also the designated leader of the Soviet state and people, protecting their lives and accumulated wealth against external enemies.  To this day, Stalin is venerated by many honest Russians, including war veterans, whose opinions and feelings should be respected.  Given that second role that he played, did Trotsky owe Stalin anything at this point?  Any support?  Any lingering feelings of solidarity with a Soviet government which was now fully staffed by Stalinist appointees?  Professor Chase has been trying to prove to us that, in the last few months of his life, Trotsky, along with Diego Rivera, crossed the line, went over to the Dark Side, and became more or less a snitch to the American government.  “If it were so, it was a grievous fault,” as Marcus Antonius used to say…  But was it so?

Here again is the proper order in which to read this series of posts, in case you are just getting started on this saga:

Intro to my series.
Part I-(A), Part I-(B), Part I-(C), Part I-(D).
Part II-(A), Part II-(B), Part II-(C), Part II-(D), Part II-(E), Part II-(F), Part II-(G), Part II-(H), Part II-(I), Part II-(J).

And then this current one, Part II-(K), which you are reading right now!

Where we left off, Professor Chase is documenting Trotsky’s various campaigns and feuds against the Mexican trade unions and their newspapers, which he sees as “infected” by Stalin’s GPU.  During Trotsky’s three and a half year sojourn in Mexico, he was often the target of (what Professor Chase characterizes as) “partially slanderous” attacks from the Mexican left-wing press.  Specifically, the organ of the Mexican Community Party (“El Machete” up until October 1938, then renamed to “La Voz de México”); the trade union newspaper “El Popular”; and Vincente Lombardo Toledano’s journal “Futuro”.

In this last part of the saga, there are 5 main sets of dates to keep in mind:

  • (Sometime around February-March 1939) — this is just an inferred date, based on Trotsky’s statement on May 31, 1940 (see Chase Footnote #40) that he had broken relations with Diego Rivera “15 months ago”, due to political differences.  If Trotsky’s chronology was correct (and Trotsky is generally accurate in everything he writes), this places the Rivera split from Trotskyism before Molotov-Ribbentrop, which is an unexpected result, since that event is when most Trotskyists started bailing.  (More on this, below.)
  • Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact signed August 23, 1939.  Although it wasn’t known at the time, we can see, in hindsight, that this event effectually put a cap on the Fourth International and the Trotskyist movement as such.  Although Trotsky himself declared (in his polemic against Shachtman) that “this event changes nothing in our theory”, most other Trotskyists didn’t see it that way, and left in droves.  The spectacle of Stalin and Hitler dividing up Poland, was too much for the faint-hearted.  True-blood Trotskyists were supposed to go on believing that the Soviet Union was still a workers state, albeit “degenerated”, and still deserving of their “critical” support.
  • Home invasion and attempted assassination of Trotsky (and his entire family) on May 24, 1940.
  • Trotsky’s actual assassination three months later, on August 21, 1940.
  • Hitler invades the Soviet Union, “Operation Barbarossa”, just about one year later, June 22, 1941.  Point being, that Trotsky didn’t live to see that horrific event, although we can make some inferences and imagine his apoplexy at what he would have seen as Stalin’s blunders, especially at the start of the war, when the Germans seemed to be winning, hands down.

The Home Invasion

We need to revisit the home invasion, in order to see Nahum Eitingon’s team of dual-purpose GPU goons in all their glory.  Here is the account written by Joseph Hansen, whom we have met previously, of the American Socialist Workers Party, on the badly bungled attempt:

From the accounts of the guards, the depositions of the police on duty, and the subsequent confessions of some of the assailants who were apprehended by the Mexican police, the story of how the agents of Stalin managed to penetrate the walls is fairly clear.

Five policemen were on duty, three of them asleep. J. Rodriguez Casas, the officer in charge of the police detail since Trotsky’s arrival in Mexico, was home in bed at the time of the assault, according to his story.

The assailants, disguised as policemen, approached the two police on duty, shouted, “Viva Almazan!” and at pistol point bound all five. They then went to the barred doors. These doors are never opened at night except under most unusual circumstances and then only when the other guards beside the one on duty are awakened, unless he knows the person who asks admittance and has first checked to see that there is nothing suspicious.

Hansen goes on to recount how the fake police “tricked” bodyguard Robert Sheldon Harte into opening the door and letting them inside.  (Well, we know now that Harte was actually working for the GPU and acted as their “inside man”, but Hansen didn’t know that at the time.)   The rest of the exciting story he retells accurately:

Joseph Hansen

At approximately four o’clock in the morning of May 24, some twenty-five men under the direction of Stalin’s GPU penetrated the high walls surrounding Leon Trotsky’s house in Coyoacan, and riddled with machine gun slugs the bedroom where Trotsky and his wife, Natalia, slept.

Trotsky had been working very arduously the day prior to the assault, and as is his custom on such occasions had taken a sleeping powder. He awoke hazily, thinking he heard the explosions of firecrackers with which Coyoacan commemorates the special days on the calendar. But the explosions were too frequent and they were not far away, as it had at first seemed, but almost within the room. With the acrid smell of powder, Trotsky realized that this was the attempt which he had been expecting for twelve years. Stalin at last had commanded his GPU to correct what he once termed his “major error” – exiling the leader of the 1923 Opposition.

Natalia Trotsky was already out of her bed. She and her husband huddled together in a corner of their bedroom. Natalia made an attempt to shield Trotsky with her body; he insisted they lie flat on the floor without moving. Bullets tipped through two doors of their bedroom, thudding in the wall just overhead. Where were the police who had been stationed outside the walls? Where the guards inside? Surely bound hand and foot, or kidnapped, or already dead.

14-year-old Seva: Survived a major GPU assassination attempt

The door to the room where Trotsky’s grandson Seva slept, burst open and a few moments later an incendiary bomb flared up around a small cabinet standing there. In the glare, Natalia saw the dark silhouette of one of the assailants. They had not seen him enter before the bomb flamed, but a number of empty cartridges within the room and five or six shots directly through each of the empty beds proved that this assassin had been assigned to make the final check, to still any movement that might still exist after the cross-fire from the French window opening on the patio and the door to Trotsky’s study. In the darkness of the room, and hearing no sound whatsoever now that the machine guns were silent, the assassin undoubtedly mistook the form of the bed clothes for the lifeless forms of Natalia and Leon Trotsky. He emptied his gun on those forms and fled.

The old revolutionists then heard what was to them the most tragic sound of the night, the cry of their grandson from the neighboring room, “Grandfather!”

(…)

Seva, however, had awakened when the assailants machine-gunned the door opening from his room onto the patio, the bullets striking the wall barely above him. He immediately threw himself out of bed and rolled underneath on the floor. The assassins smashed through the door and as they passed his bed, one of them fired into it, the bullet striking Seva in the big toe. When they had gone, Seva called out, and then ran from his room, crying, certain that his grandfather and grandmother were dead. He left splotches of blood behind him on the pathway in the patio and in the library.

The guards who had been pinned in their rooms by bursts of machine gun fire across the doorways, now checked the patio. The assailants were gone. They had taken with them the automobiles and kidnapped the guard on duty, Robert Sheldon Harte. Outside, the police were tied, lying helplessly on the floor of their sentry house.

After this dramatic event, worthy of a Hollywood blockbuster, the Usual Suspects in the Mexican press increased their verbal “Phillipics” against Trotsky, even accusing him of staging the attempt himself.

The lovely Frida

And if we didn’t have the documentary proof that Siqueiros and the others were directed by the GPU, just as Trotsky alleged at the time, then there would probably be people around even today claiming that Trotsky staged the whole thing and shot his own grandson in the foot.

Speaking of which, I found this interesting interview in, of all places, the Guardian.  This interview with Trotsky’s grandson, Esteban (“Seva”) Volkov was done in 2003, presumably before the Guardian reporters or Volkov himself knew about Professor Chase’s revelations of Diego Rivera’s perfidy.  The Guardian reporter is more interested in the salacious details of Trotsky’s alleged affair with Rivera’s wife, Frida Kahlo.  Volkov personally thinks that Grandpa never had the time nor the privacy to carry on an affair, but admits that it could have happened nonetheless.

Volkov:  “Trotsky was after all a man, and could easily have been caught in Frida’s net.” She was much younger “and had many lovers, women as well as men”. Volkov got to know her and her circle very well, starting in the mid-1940s, about five years after his grandfather’s death. “She was a really wonderfully warm and remarkable personality. I liked her a lot.”

But for our purposes, the main take-away is not the sexual, but the political gossip, specifically why did Diego Rivera split from Trotsky (or vice versa) sometime around February-March 1939, even before Molotov-Ribbentrop?

Trotsky Libel Case

Whatever had really happened between [Frida] and Trotsky, there is no doubt that afterwards Trotsky still maintained excellent relations with Frida’s husband, the renowned leftwing muralist Diego Rivera, who had successfully lobbied to win asylum for Trotsky in Mexico. When the two men did finally fall out it was because of political differences, Volkov insists. Trotsky and Natalia moved out of “the Blue House” (now the Frida Kahlo museum) where they had stayed as guests of Frida and Rivera and moved two blocks north and three blocks east across Coyoacan, a lovely district then just outside Mexico City.

Esteban Volkov maintains his grandfather’s house as a Trotsky Museum in Mexico City

What political differences?  inquiring minds want to know?  For connoisseurs of ideological gossip, it would be nice if Volkov were to be more specific, citing chapter and verse.  Alas, we may never know.

Now we jump forward in time again, to 27 May (3 days after the assassination attempt).   An enraged Trotsky files a complaint with the Prosecutor General of Mexico, the Chief of Police, and the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs, against the 3 Mexican newspapers (mentioned above) who were busy sliming him and claiming that he had staged his own assassination attempt.   Remember that Trotsky is the kind of guy who always defends himself vigorously whenever maligned.  This is the guy who set up an international commission to defend himself against the charges of the Moscow Trials.  He is not going to take this new set of slanders lying down.

Trotsky’s complaint alleged that (1) the three newspapers cited above receive money from the GPU and hence are not exactly “impartial” organs of the working-class press; (2) the Kremlin, and particularly Stalin, were behind the assassination attempt, using GPU agents posted abroad as spies; (3) that the GPU had also launched a propaganda campaign to turn Mexican public opinion against himself, Trotsky; (4) with the end game being to expel him from Mexico and put him at the mercy of Stalin’s henchmen; or, alternatively, to prepare public opinion for a new round of terrorist acts against himself, Trotsky.

A typical GPU parade

“These [propaganda] tasks,” Trotsky writes in his complaint, “are always delegated to the Stalinist press, to the Stalinist orators, and to the so-called Friends of the Soviet Union.”  Trotsky also combined the Comintern into his plaint, alleging that it has become just one more arm of Stalin and the GPU:  “In the Central Committee of each section of the Comintern, sits a GPU Director who is a responsible for that particular country.”  Trotsky further alleged that Vicente Lombardo Toledano, the pipe-smoking head of the powerful Mexican Trade Union Confederation, was involved up to his gills in this propaganda campaign to prepare the public for a terrorist act; that Toledano knew about the assassination attempt beforehand (at least, in its general form), and was, in fact, a foreign agent of the Kremlin.

Horrified by these [true] accusations, the newspapers “El Popular” and “Futuro” wasted no time filing a libel suit against Trotsky.  Subsequently Trotsky appeared before a judge and provided what Professor Chase calls “indirect evidence” to back up his accusations.

Mexican courts of that era must have been a lot more efficient than American ones, because the libel case convened just a few weeks later, on July 2, 1940.  And apparently Trotsky stood up in the courtroom and declared that “La Voz de México” receives secret funding from Moscow.  Which, if true (probably was), was a serious allegation, indeed.  It is not forbidden for newspapers to receive funding, even from governments, but they are supposed to declare this, for the purposes of transparency, and so their readers can factor in any possible slant or bias.  “La Voz” responded to Trotsky’s allegation by joining in the libel suit against him.  Trotsky then set out to write a major article entitled “The Comintern and the GPU”, which purpose was to prove his allegations.  This turned out to be the last piece that Trotsky ever wrote, and was completed just a couple of days before his actual assassination.  Thus, sort of, proving his point.

Coulondre (left) with Hitler (right)

After an introduction recapping his theory of the “degeneration” of the October Revolution, Trotsky gets down to more practical matters.  His theory of his own exile and assassination is actually the best one available still, to this day.  His theory, like any good theory, works to explain various, otherwise inexplicable, facts, within the context of a plausible pattern:

To the uninitiated it might seem incomprehensible why Stalin’s clique first exiled me abroad and then tries to kill me. Wouldn’t it have been simpler to have shot me in Moscow, like so many others?

Here is the explanation. In 1928 when I was expelled from the party and exiled to Central Asia it was still impossible to talk not only of execution but even of arrest. The generation with which I had gone through the October revolution and the Civil War was still alive. The Political Bureau felt itself besieged from all sides. From Central Asia I had the opportunity of maintaining unbroken connections with the opposition which was growing. In these conditions Stalin, after vacillating for a year, decided to apply exile abroad as the lesser evil. His arguments were: Isolated from the USSR, deprived of an apparatus and material resources Trotsky will be impotent to undertake anything. Stalin calculated moreover that after he had succeeded in discrediting me utterly in the eyes of the country, he could without difficulty obtain my return to Moscow from the friendly Turkish government for the final reckoning. Events have proved, however, that it is possible to participate in political life without an apparatus and without material resources. With the aid of young friends, I created the foundations of the Fourth International which is developing slowly but surely. The Moscow trials of 1936-1937 were staged in order to obtain my deportation from Norway, that is, my being actually handed over to the GPU. But this failed; I had the possibility of going to Mexico. As I have been informed, Stalin has several times admitted that my exile abroad was his “greatest mistake.” To correct the mistake, nothing remained save a terrorist act.

One of the best passages in the above work is Trotsky’s vainglorious description of his own importance on the world arena, as he quotes a conversation between French Ambassador (to Germany) Robert Coulondre and Adolph Hitler:

“If I really think”! – observed [Coulondre] – “that we will be victorious, I also have the fear that at the end of the war there will be only one real victor: Mr. Trotsky.” Interrupting me, the Chancellor [Hitler] shouted: “Then why have you given Poland free rein?” (Diplomatic Documents, 1938-1939, p.26, Document No.242)

Siqueiros poster promoting safety in the mines

Then, riffing off this, with all the testosterone still flowing in his veins, Trotsky can’t resist putting in a dig against his Mexican arch-enemy, Toledano, and his wannabe assassin, the fresco-painting Siqueiros:

Two authoritative representatives of two imperialist powers, democratic and fascist, in the critical moment just prior to the war, seek to frighten each other with the name of a revolutionist whom the agents of the GPU have been trying in vain to blacken for a number of years as an “agent of imperialism.” I could adduce other evidence of the same sort. But this is hardly necessary. Hitler and Coulondre are at all events expert politicians much more serious than David Siqueiros and Lombardo Toledano.

Next:  The Charles Cornell Memorandum, and the actual case against Trotsky.

[to be continued]

Posted in Celebrity Gossip, Russian History, True Crime | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Professor Chase: Trotsky In Mexico Part II-(J)

Dear Readers:

Here again is the proper order in which to read this series of posts, in case you are just getting started:

Intro to my series.
Part I-(A), Part I-(B), Part I-(C), Part I-(D).
Part II-(A), Part II-(B), Part II-(C), Part II-(D), Part II-(E), Part II-(F), Part II-(G), Part II-(H), Part II-(I).

And then this current one, Part II-(J), which you are reading right now!

All of this material based on my original source, which is this 3-part piece by Professor William Chase, a historian teaching at the University of Pittsburgh.  I mentioned earlier in the series, that Professor Chase’s monograph (which was published in 2003, in three installments, in a Russian-language journal) was of enormous interest to that faction of the Marxist movement who still adhere to Comrade Stalin’s legacy.  Professor Chase himself is not a Stalinist, nor even a Marxist, as far as I know.  Which actually makes his work of even greater value to the Stalinophiles, because he doesn’t appear to have a dog in this fight!

Briefly, there are parties and movements in the world, of which I would state boldly that Professor Grover Furr (of Montclair University in New Jersey) is their spiritual leader and guru, who believe in Stalin’s ultimate righteousness in regard to Trotsky and the Old Bolsheviks who were liquidated in the mid 1930’s.  Namely, that they were all foreign agents working for various capitalist governments, and therefore Stalin was absolutely within his rights to have them all executed, and to send hit squads after Trotsky a couple of years later.  Since this was a matter of Soviet state security.

When tigers eat their young: Yezhov on trial in 1938

These hardline Stalinist factions and parties see no difference between a, say, Stepan Bandera (who collaborated with the Nazis against the Soviets in WWII), and a Trotsky (who built a faction opposing Stalin’s leadership of the Communist Party, but died before WWII actually began).  In the eyes of Professor Furr, both Bandera and Trotsky were enemies of the Soviet state (as personified by Stalin), both were agents of the Nazis, both were equally guilty, and both deserving of the same punishment.

Hence, Professor Chase’s factual proof that the fresco-painter Diego Rivera, an old friend and associate of Trotsky’s, had crossed over the class line and become a confidential informant to the American government (spilling the beans whatever he knew or suspected about members of the Mexican Communist Party), bolstered the faith of the Stalinophiles, along the lines of “Aha!  We knew it all along!”

And they have been waiting eagerly, ever since 2003, for Professor Chase to publish his next big opus “proving” that Trotsky, like Rivera, also crossed over, or perhaps had been an imperialist agent (inside the Bolshevik Party) all along, as Stalin alleged.  However, unless or until that happens, all they (=the Stalinophiles) have to feed on is these nuggets of documentary evidence of Rivera spilling his guts to the American consul in Mexico City.

“It feels GREAT to be infallible!”

Which brings us to the issue of Trotsky and his feuds with the Mexican Communist Party, the Mexican Trade Union Confederation, and the Mexican press.  To what degree were these feuds legitimate political polemics within the socialist movement (not to mention self-defense against slanderers); and to what degree did they simply pander to the genetic anti-Communism of the American government?  These are tricky questions, almost worthy of Talmudic scholars, and certainly well above my pay grade.

One has to recall, for starters that Trotsky, like Lenin, came into being during an earlier era of the pre-WWI Socialist International.  Marxists practically invented factional invective.  Marx loved nothing else than a grand feud within the “movement”.  And Lenin was no shy wallflower either when it came to publicly blasting his fellow socialists, even publishing books about their misdeeds, for example his famous “Renegade Kautsky” treatise.  There were actually no sacred cows in the Marxist movement.  Not until that fateful day when it came to be known, that Comrade Stalin was infallible, like the Pope, and as far beyond reproach as Caesar’s own wife!

As Professor Furr himself will tell you, Stalin never made a mistake, and never did anything wrong.  Which puts him right up there, on the same level as Jesus and Jesus’s mom.  Trotsky, on the other hand, was just a fallible man and a mortal sinner, like the rest of us sons and daughters of Adam.

The Role Of Marxist Theory

It is no secret that Trotskyists see the world differently than the Stalinists.  Trotsky saw himself, not just as a practicing revolutionary, but as a Marxist theoretician who expanded Marxist doctrine.  Just as Marx analyzed Capitalism, and Lenin analyzed Imperialism, so Trotsky analyzed the world’s first working-class based state and government, namely the Soviet Union.

Trotsky analyzed… and didn’t like what he saw.  According to his “Thermidor” THEORY(using metaphors from the degeneration and failure of the French Revolution),  the Soviet state has badly “degenerated” under Stalin’s leadership; but it wasn’t even Stalin personally, he was just the front man, it was an entire “caste” that came to gel around him (and later became known as the Nomenklatura).   Once this caste got their hands on the organs of the worker’s state and its vast resources, then there was basically no stopping them from their incessant claims to power and privilege.  Per this same theory, various working class parties and institutions (such as the Mexican trade unions), have been “infected” by this virus called Stalinism.  Which Trotsky called the “syphilitic infection” of the working-class movement.  To Trotsky, such institutions possessed a dual nature, along the lines of the Hegelian dialectic:  These institutions, like the Soviet state itself, performed legitimate class-based functions, such as protecting the wages and jobs (and lives) of the workers, etc.  And, side by side, also performed illegitimate functions, as dictated by their syphilitic infection.  Such as sponsoring drive-by shootings of internal (on same side of class line) political opponents, and other such-like.

Stealing the atom bomb: A legitimate use of Soviet state organs.

From this theory, there are many corollaries.  Given what we now know about the organizer of Trotsky’s assassination, Nahum Eitingon:  Trotskyists would say that Nahum possessed a dual nature.  On the one hand, he brilliantly protected the Soviet State, the legacy of the Russian workers, when he ran spy rings in the U.S. and stole the atom bomb for Russia.  While on Tuesdays and Thursdays, he was wasting the time and money of the Soviet working class, using their hard-fought state organs to carry out Stalin’s personal vendettas against people who, maybe, had ticked off The Great Helmsman in the past.

Like I said, all part of the Hegelian dialectic.  But anyhow, enough of Marxist theory, and let’s get down and dirty to Mexican politics of that era…

May, 1940

After the Siqueiros raid and attempted assassination, Trotsky prudently fortified the security of his home in Coyoacan, Mexico City.  Overstepping his bounds from historian to psychologist, Professor Chase once against describes the “panicky fear” that Trotsky experienced, as if he could see inside Trotsky’s brain.  What can be stated as indisputable, however, that  Stalin had so far won every round of this deadly game; Stalin held all the cards, he had his arch-enemy boxed into a corner, from which the latter was not to escape.

Mexico was at the time in the throes of a pre-election campaign.  Both leading candidates in the general election, Camacho (who ended up winning) and Almazán, had promised the voters to kick Trotsky out of their country.  Hence, the aging revolutionary could see the writing on the wall:  that his days in Mexico were numbered.  He needed to find a new home.  Professor Chase makes the leap of inference here (as he has been doing all along) that Trotsky saw the United States as the only possible asylum left to him.  With the additional insinuation that Trotsky would be willing now to do whatever he had to do, to make his “American dream” become a reality.  Like, if he spilled to the American consul and gravely educated him that so-and-so was a Mexican Communist or NKVD agent, then the pindosi would, in their supreme gratitude, invite Trotsky and his wife to live inside their great country.

Never mess with angry Mexicans!

Around this time, Trotsky was a very busy guy, exhibiting (if I may indulge in my own psychologizing) some traits of obsessive-compulsive.  Danger seemed to just drive him further into his own obsessive world.  He was working on several major projects all at the same time.  One of which was his draft biography of Stalin (!) — imagine having your biography written by your worst enemy.  But after the drive-by shooting, Trotsky put aside the Stalin-biography project and set himself to a thorough investigation of the assassination attempt against himself.  Rather than the “panicky rabbit” portrayed by Professor Chase, Trotsky more resembles a punch-drunk boxer launching himself back into the ring.  Against numerous and powerful opponents.  Trotsky simply didn’t know when to quit.  Because he now takes on the most powerful trade union in the world, plus three major Mexican newspapers:  Futuro, El Popular, and La Voz de México.  Trotsky alleged that all three papers have been receiving subsidies from the Soviet GPU.  In return for which, they agreed to follow the Stalin Party Line.  Trotsky made these accusations specifically against Vicente Lombardo Toledano, the head of the Confederation of Mexican Workers (CTM) and editor of Futuro.  Toledano had founded the CTM in 1936, and allied himself with President Lázaro Cárdenas in a socialist-communist coalition.  The CTM controlled Mexico’s key industrial proletariat, such as the petroleum and railroad workers.  The Mexican Communist Party (PCM) formed a disciplined Marxist-Leninist type cadre faction within the CTM; and although there were some internal disputes and threats of splits, the coalition held up in the end.

As to whether or not Toledano was a secret Communist, his wiki states that “Lombardo Toledano was never, as far as it is possible to determine, a member of the PCM. He had, however, even stronger support from the Soviet Union during the Popular Front era than the nominal leaders of the PCM. Following the policy of that era, he and the CTM supported the Cárdenas administration enthusiastically, intervening to moderate union demands during the railroad and electrical workers’ strikes in 1936 and the petroleum workers’ strike in 1937. Lombardo Toledano and the CTM were vocal supporters for Cárdenas’ nationalization of the oil industry in 1938.”

Toledano’s pipe habit proves that he was a secret Stalinist agent!

This jives with all of Soviet international politics of the 1930’s (after the sequential defeat of Trotskyite, Zinovievite, and Bukharinite factions), which consisted, in the various nations of our great planet, of building “Popular Fronts” between working-class organizations and “friendly democratic” forces.  (In the American context, even FDR was considered a “friendly democratic force” by the American Communist Party.)

Meanwhile, Trotsky’s major beef against the Comintern was that Stalin had converted it from an instrument of international proletarian revolution, into just another organ of the Soviet state, practically an adjunct to the Foreign Ministry.  Strictly speaking, there should have been a separation between the Soviet state and government, which should have the freedom to wheel and deal and even enter into dicey maneuvers like Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact; and the Comintern aka Third International, whose job was to organize proletarians and only proletarians within their respective countries, regardless of whether or not their governments were friendly to the Soviet Union.  If workers in a given country needed to go on strike, then they should be able to go on strike, and not be told to stand down, just because the President of their country was about to sign a new trade deal with the USSR!

Lenin speaking at Second Congress of the Communist International

Trotsky also claimed that the Comintern had been “infected” by that same syphilitic virus as the Soviet Communist Party; was the skate-board playground of the GPU; was teeming with spies; and also servicing Stalin’s personal needs like a cheap butt-monkey, without any effective oversight.

In the frenzy of activity that was the last three months of his life, Trotsky set out to “prove” that the GPU was behind the attempt on his own life.  Which sounds funny now, because of course they were, but at the time Trotsky had to deal with trolls and professional liars who claimed that he had “staged” the “fake” assassination attempt against himself.

And around this time, in another moment of blind clarity, Trotsky declared to his international followers the startling news that:  “I believe that Stalin is out to kill me!”

[to be continued]

Posted in Celebrity Gossip, Russian History, True Crime | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

How’m I Doin’, Hey, Hey – November Edition

Dear Readers:

With Thanksgiving over and one more turkey down the chute, feathers and all, let’s get right down to business and do the stats.  My new Sales and Marketing team continues to deliver those all-important clicks — November was another good month!

So, here are my closing-month metrics.  Comparing October to November: Page Views went up – from 6,304 to 8,395.  The number of Distinct Visitors, the metric I care about more, also went up, from 3,005 to 3,420.

Next: My standard disclaimer:

Your Privacy is Important to Me: WordPress calculates who is a distinct person by their I.P. address. It also uses the I.P. address to deduce which country you live in. I myself can’t see I.P. addresses unless you leave a comment. In which case I can see your email address; and from that I COULD look up your I.P. if I were curious, which I am not.

Next: Before posting my usual “Parade of Nations”, this here is my nostalgic trip down memory lane. In which I narcissistically “look-back” through my own posts of the last month, self-assess them, and highlight a few which I think are particularly good, I call this feature:

Highlights of the Month

So, here we go, in chronological order:

  • We started the month of November with those lovable scamps, the Finnish Nazis.
  • But that was just a detour from the main November content.  Which consisted of Professor Chase and Trotsky like Professor Moriarty and Sherlock Holmes trapped in an endless death grip as they plunge down the Reichenbach Falls.  And I am not even finished with them yet —  still have a few eps left!
  • But in between Trotsky and Trotsky, a Kaspersky snuck himself in.
  • And then also, very sadly, the death of a great Russian artist and beautiful personality, Dmitry Khvorostovsky.  He will be mourned, and he will be missed!

But now it is time for that Pomp and Circumstance that everybody has been waiting for: Time to march on with the

Parade Of Nations


My 3,420  November visitors hail from the following countries, in order of most to least page views. WordPress allows me to save these stats as a CSV file, from which I copy-pasted onto here:

United States 5146
Canada 1064
United Kingdom 350
Russia 304
Australia 214
New Zealand 189
Netherlands 94
Germany 81
Finland 79
France 54
India 46
Mexico 41
Romania 41
Hungary 36
Ukraine 33
Sweden 31
Brazil 29
Ireland 27
Italy 26
South Africa 23
Latvia 23
Spain 22
Greece 21
Poland 18
United Arab Emirates 18
Israel 17
Estonia 16
Switzerland 15
Norway 14
Hong Kong SAR China 14
Turkey 13
Serbia 12
Montenegro 12
Malaysia 11
South Korea 11
European Union 11
Singapore 10
Pakistan 10
Libya 10
Bulgaria 10
Argentina 9
Philippines 8
Thailand 8
Denmark 8
Saudi Arabia 8
Japan 7
Croatia 6
Lebanon 6
Azerbaijan 5
Belgium 5
Indonesia 5
Slovenia 4
Kenya 4
Nigeria 4
Qatar 4
Lithuania 4
Tanzania 4
Czech Republic 4
Cyprus 4
St. Lucia 3
Georgia 3
Malta 3
Togo 3
Bermuda 3
Trinidad & Tobago 3
Slovakia 3
Chile 3
Barbados 2
Macedonia 2
Kuwait 2
China 2
Uzbekistan 2
Bangladesh 2
Morocco 2
Taiwan 2
Vietnam 2
Uganda 2
Cambodia 2
Ecuador 2
Egypt 2
Mongolia 2
Jamaica 2
Austria 2
Peru 2
Colombia 2
Belarus 2
Guatemala 1
Cayman Islands 1
Ethiopia 1
Albania 1
Liechtenstein 1
Nicaragua 1
Kazakhstan 1
Algeria 1
Costa Rica 1
Maldives 1
Congo – Kinshasa 1
Jordan 1
Guyana 1
Panama 1
Somalia 1
Zambia 1
Bolivia 1
Brunei 1
Sri Lanka 1
Afghanistan 1
Luxembourg 1
Zimbabwe 1
Bosnia & Herzegovina 1

Y’all thanks for visiting my blog!

Sincerely yours,
yalensis

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment