person:stalin

  • The Tiananmen Square massacre, 30 years on - World Socialist Web Site
    https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2019/06/08/tian-j08.html

    By Peter Symonds, 8 June 2019 - Thirty years have passed since heavily-armed Chinese troops, backed by tanks, moved through the suburbs of Beijing on the night of June 3–4, 1989, killing hundreds, probably thousands, of unarmed civilians. The military forces overwhelmed makeshift barricades with brute force as they made their way to Tiananmen Square—the site of weeks of mass protests by students and workers.

    Those barbaric events, which demonstrated the willingness of the Stalinist Chinese Communist Party (CCP) regime to do anything to stay in power, have gone down in history as the Tiananmen Square massacre. Yet most of deaths during that murderous assault were of workers who courageously tried to halt the progress of troops to central Beijing. Estimates vary, but up to 7,000 were killed and 20,000 wounded.

    Moreover, in the reign of terror that followed throughout China it was the workers who received the harshest penalties, including lengthy jail terms and death sentences. Around 40,000 people were arrested just in June and July, mostly members of Workers Autonomous Federations that had sprung up in the course of the protests.
    Protesters in Tiananmen Square

    What is commonly depicted as the crushing of student protesters was in fact a wave of repression directed overwhelmingly against a mass movement of the working class. What had begun in April as student protests calling for democratic reforms had swelled into the millions as workers joined the demonstrations by mid-May, making their own class demands.

    The Beijing Workers Autonomous Federation was established on April 20 with a handful of workers and rapidly expanded to become a major organising centre by mid-May. On May 17, up to two million people marched through the centre of Beijing, the majority being workers and their families under the banners of their work units or enterprises. Reflecting the impact of events in Beijing, Workers Autonomous Federations were established in a host of major cities, including Changsha, Shaoyang, Xiangtan, Hengyang and Yueyang.

    While moderate student leaders were intent on pressing the CCP bureaucracy for concessions on democratic rights, workers were animated by concerns over deteriorating living standards, soaring inflation and a wave of sackings and closures. The regime’s embrace of the capitalist market since the 1970s had led to widening social inequality and rampant bureaucratic corruption and profiteering. Workers were bitterly hostile to the accumulation of privileges and wealth by the top CCP leaders, such as Deng Xiaoping, Li Peng, Zhao Ziyang, Jiang Zemin, Chen Yun and their family members, and were contemptuous of their claims to be communist and socialist.

    A statement by workers issued on May 25 expressed the rebellious currents in the working class. “Our nation was created by the struggle and labour of we workers and all other mental and manual labourers. We are the rightful masters of this nation. We must be heard in national affairs. We must not allow this small band of degenerate scum of the nation and the working class to usurp our name and suppress the students, murder democracy and trample human rights.” [1]

    Premier Zhao Ziyang had been sympathetic to the demands of student leaders and had counselled making small concessions to calls for basic democratic rights. However, no compromise was possible with the working class, whose unrest threatened the very existence of the regime. As the protest movement rapidly grew in size and confidence, paramount leader Deng Xiaoping removed his ally Zhao as premier, installed hardline Li Peng in his place and ordered the military to violently suppress the protests in Beijing and nationally.
    The crisis of Stalinism

    The resort to such extreme measures was bound up with the profound crisis of Stalinism, not only in China but internationally. In response to deepening economic and social crises, a turn was underway in China, Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union toward the dismantling of centralised bureaucratic planning mechanisms, encouragement of private enterprise and establishment of market mechanisms.

    After assuming the leadership of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev introduced his keynote policies of perestroika (restructuring) and glasnost (openness and transparency) that laid the framework for greater autonomy for enterprises outside the central planning mechanisms and, under the guise of democratic reform, sought to establish a base of social support for the regime among the petty bourgeoisie.

    Gorbachev’s pro-market restructuring also encouraged the Stalinist regimes in Eastern Europe in their plans for capitalist restoration, making desperate bids to resolve their mounting economic and political crises. These processes dramatically accelerated as Gorbachev signaled that the Soviet Union would not intervene militarily to prop up its Soviet bloc allies, as it had done in Hungary in 1956 to crush the workers’ uprising and in Czechoslovakia in 1968 to end liberal reforms. In December 1987, he announced the withdrawal of 500,000 Soviet troops from Eastern Europe.

    In a very short period of time, during 1989–90, the Stalinist bureaucracies in one Eastern European country after another moved to restore capitalism, dismantling what remained of nationalised property relations and centralised planning.

    In Poland, talks between the government and opposition Solidarity leaders resulted in a deal in April 1989 to hold limited elections. This paved the way for the installation in August of Solidarity leader Tadeusz Mazowiecki as prime minister. He unleashed sweeping pro-market restructuring.

    Similar negotiations in Hungary, where the processes of pro-market restructuring were already advanced, led to a new constitution in August 1989. Multi-party elections in May 1990 resulted in a government that junked what remained of centralised planning and carried out wholesale privatisation.

    Amid a mounting economic and political crisis, Gorbachev visited Berlin in October 1989 to urge the East German government to accelerate pro-market reforms. Erich Honecker resigned as leader two weeks later. On November 9, the government announced the end of all border restrictions and Berlin citizens tore down the hated Berlin Wall. Before the end of the month, West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl unveiled a plan to integrate East Germany with capitalist West Germany—a process that was completed by October 1990.

    The collapse of the Stalinist regimes in Czechoslovakia, Romania and Bulgaria quickly followed. By the end of 1990, governments throughout Eastern Europe were giving full rein to the plunder of state-owned property, an influx of foreign capital and the dismantling of social services, leading to a precipitous deterioration in living standards.

    Gorbachev’s policies in the Soviet Union gave rise to intense pressures within the Stalinist bureaucracy and the emerging layer of entrepreneurs for a far speedier dismantling of all fetters on private ownership and market relations. This found expression in the installation of Boris Yeltsin in July 1991 and the implementation of pro-market “shock therapy.” In December 1991, the Soviet Union was formally dissolved.

    The break-up of the Soviet Union and collapse of the Stalinist states in Eastern Europe led to an orgy of triumphalism in the capitalist media proclaiming the end of socialism. Pundits, politicians and academics, who had foreseen nothing and could explain nothing, exulted over the triumph of the market, even going so far as to pronounce the end of history. In other words, capitalism supposedly represented the highest and final stage of human development. A new period of peace, prosperity and democracy would dawn, they all declared.

    The International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI), based on the analysis made by Leon Trotsky of Stalinism, had rejected the universal adulation of Gorbachev and warned that his policies were rapidly leading to the dismantling of the gains of the first workers’ state. Its perspectives resolution entitled “The World Capitalist Crisis and the Tasks of the Fourth International,” published in August 1988, made clear that the breakdown of the Soviet Union was not a product of socialism, but rather of Stalinism and its reactionary autarchic conception of “socialism in one country”:

    The very real crisis of the Soviet economy is rooted in its enforced isolation from the resources of the world market and the international division of labour. There are only two ways this crisis can be tackled. The way proposed by Gorbachev involves the dismantling of state industry, the renunciation of the planning principle, and the abandonment of the state monopoly on foreign trade, i.e., the reintegration of the Soviet Union into the structure of world capitalism. The alternative to this reactionary solution requires the smashing of imperialism’s domination over the world economy by linking up the Soviet and international working class in a revolutionary offensive aimed at extending the planned economy into the European, North American and Asian citadels of capitalism. [2]

    In the aftermath of the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the ICFI identified the root cause of the crisis of Stalinism in the processes of the globalisation of production that had been underway since the late 1970s, which had undermined all programs based on national economic regulation. While the crisis of Stalinism was the most immediate and acute expression, these same processes lay behind the international embrace of pro-market restructuring by Social Democratic and Labour parties, and trade unions, and their abandonment of any defence of the social rights of the working class.
    Capitalist restoration in China

    The events in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union had a profound impact in China, where processes of capitalist restoration had been underway since the 1970s. The CCP’s decision in June 1989 to use the military to brutally suppress the working class was in no small measure conditioned by its longstanding fear of a repetition in China of the mass strike movement in Poland in 1980–81 that led to the formation of the Solidarity trade union.

    China specialist Maurice Meisner explained that the involvement of masses of workers in the protests in Tiananmen Square on May 17 “did much to rekindle the ‘Polish fear’ among Party leaders, their decade-old obsession about the rise of a Solidarity-type alliance between workers and intellectuals in opposition to the Communist state. And that fear, in turn, contributed to their fateful decision to impose martial law.” [3]

    While Deng Xiaoping recognised the affinity of Gorbachev’s perestroika with the policies that he had already enacted, he did not embrace the political liberalisation of glasnost, fearing it would undermine the foundations of the CCP regime. When Gorbachev visited Beijing in mid-May 1989 to cement closer Sino-Soviet ties, the Chinese leadership kept him closeted from public view, anxious that his presence would give further impetus to the protests in Tiananmen Square. The rapid collapse of the Stalinist regimes in Eastern Europe only heightened the determination of the CCP bureaucracy to suppress any opposition.

    The roots of the crisis in China lay in the outcome of the 1949 Chinese revolution. The monumental events that brought the Chinese Communist Party to power ended more than a century of imperialist oppression that had mired the country of more than 500 million in squalor and backwardness. It expressed the aspirations of the vast majority of the population for economic security, basic democratic and social rights, and a decent standard of living. Decades of political upheaval and a war against Japanese imperialism from 1937 to 1945 had ravaged the country and left an estimated 14 million Chinese soldiers and civilians dead.

    Like the Soviet bureaucracy, however, the new CCP apparatus was based on the reactionary nationalist program of “socialism in one country,” which was a repudiation of socialist internationalism and Leon Trotsky’s theory of Permanent Revolution which underpinned the October Revolution in Russia in 1917.

    As a result, the course of the revolution and the subsequent evolution of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) proclaimed by Mao Zedong in 1949 was distorted and deformed by Stalinism, which dominated the CCP in the wake of Stalin’s betrayal of the Second Chinese Revolution of 1925–27. Stalin subordinated the very young CCP to the bourgeois nationalist Kuomintang, resulting in crushing blows to the Chinese Communists and working class in April 1927, and again in May 1927. CCP leaders and members who supported Trotsky’s analysis of the tragedy were expelled.

    In the wake of the 1949 Chinese Revolution, the pragmatic, nationalist ideology of Maoism led China rapidly into a blind alley. Mao’s perspective of a “New Democracy” sought to maintain a bloc with the national bourgeoisie, but the CCP government was driven, under conditions of the Korean War and the internal sabotage by bourgeois and petty bourgeois elements, to go further than intended. By 1956, virtually every aspect of the economy was nationalised and subject to bureaucratic planning along the lines of the Soviet Union, but the working class had no say through its own democratic organs.

    The organic hostility of the Maoist regime to the working class was expressed in its repression of Chinese Trotskyists, all of whom were jailed in 1952 amid the rising resistance by workers. As with the Eastern European states, the Fourth International characterised China as a deformed workers’ state, a highly conditional formula that placed the emphasis on the deformed, bureaucratic character of the regime.

    The national autarky of “socialism in one country” generated worsening economic and social turmoil, and crises for which the CCP bureaucracy had no solution, leading to bitter internal factional warfare. Mao’s fanciful scheme for a peasant socialist society, which underpinned his “Great Leap Forward,” ended in economic catastrophe and mass starvation. His factional opponents, led by Liu Shaoqi, followed the Soviet model of bureaucratic planning with its emphasis on heavy industry, but this provided no alternative.

    The economic crisis was greatly worsened by the 1961–63 split with the Soviet Union and the withdrawal of Soviet aid and advisers, as the two Stalinist regimes advanced their conflicting national interests. In a last desperate bid to oust his rivals, Mao unleashed the Cultural Revolution in 1966, which rapidly span out of his control, leading to confused and convulsive social struggles that threatened the very existence of the regime. Mao turned to the military to suppress workers who had taken literally his edict to “Bombard the Headquarters,” resulting in mass strikes in Shanghai and the formation of an independent Shanghai People’s Commune in 1967.

    Incapable of resolving the immense economic and social problems wracking the country, and facing a military confrontation with the Soviet Union, the CCP bureaucracy forged an anti-Soviet alliance with US imperialism that laid the basis for China’s integration into global capitalism. While Deng Xiaoping is generally credited with initiating market reforms, Mao’s rapprochement with US President Richard Nixon in 1972 was the essential political and diplomatic pre-condition for foreign investment and increased trade with the West.

    The process of “opening and reform” went hand-in-hand with the imposition of strict discipline and emphasis on boosting production in workplaces. Maurice Meissner noted: “Factory managers dismissed during the Cultural Revolution were restored to their former posts, accompanied by calls to strengthen managerial authority, labour discipline, and factory rules and regulations—and to struggle against ‘anarchism’ and ‘ultra-leftism.’ There were dramatic increases in foreign trade and in imports of foreign technology. Veteran party leaders attacked during the Cultural Revolution were ‘rehabilitated’ at an increasingly rapid pace; by 1973, it has been noted, ‘the pre-Cultural Revolution cadres were running the government ministries.” [4]

    From 1969 to 1975, the value of foreign trade increased from $US4 billion to $14 billion per annum. From the end of 1972 until mid-1975, China imported whole industrial plants, valued at $2.8 billion, mainly from Japan and western Europe.

    Deng Xiaoping who had been ostracised during the Cultural Revolution as the “No 2 capitalist roader,” was rehabilitated, appointed a vice premier of the state council under Zhou Enlai. Deng led the Chinese delegation to a special session of the UN in 1974 where he declared that the “socialist bloc” no longer existed and China was part of the Third World. In the factional power struggle that followed Mao’s death in 1976, Deng emerged as the dominant figure in the Stalinist bureaucracy. He embraced US imperialism ever more closely, formalising diplomatic relations in 1979, launching a border war against neighbouring Vietnam, and defending US allies such as the Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet.

    From 1978, Deng greatly accelerated the “reform and opening” pro-market reforms. Four Special Economic Zones (SEZs) were established in 1979 in Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Shantou and Xiamen, where foreign entrepreneurs and joint ventures produced goods for export and enjoyed tax breaks and other concessions. A similar system was later implemented in key port cities such as Shanghai. In the countryside, the collectivised communes were dismantled and restrictions removed on the operation of private enterprises. Prices for agricultural produce were lifted. In the cities, moves were made to transform thousands of state-owned enterprises into profit-making corporations. Private enterprises were permitted, the market was increasingly allowed to determine prices for consumer goods, and a “labour market” was initiated, allowing the hiring and firing of workers.

    The pro-market reforms led to the rapid rise of social inequality. Millions of former peasants were left landless and forced to seek employment in the cities. In the SEZs, where the capitalist market was given free rein, corruption and criminal activity was rampant, including smuggling, bribery and the theft of state-owned property. The sons and daughters of the top party leaders took full advantage of their political connections to establish their own business empires. With the lifting of price restrictions, inflation rocketed to 18.5 percent in 1988, to which the regime responded by drastically reducing credit and re-imposing import restrictions. Hundreds of thousands of workers lost their jobs, as private enterprises reduced their workforces or closed down altogether. Unemployment, the loss of job security, as well as skyrocketing prices, combined with disgust at the corruption and enrichment of CCP bureaucrats, fueled the social unrest that erupted in the mass protests by workers the following year.
    Capitalist restoration following Tiananmen Square

    In the aftermath of the bloody crackdown in Tiananmen Square and the police dragnet throughout the country, the factional battle inside the CCP leadership sharpened in the next three years over Deng’s program of capitalist restoration. In ordering the troops against workers and students, Deng had removed his chief ally in pro-market restructuring, Zhao Ziyang, as premier. Former Shanghai party leader Jiang Zemin was installed as a compromise choice to the top post of CCP secretary general. The initiative shifted to the so-called hardliners—Li Peng and Chen Yun, who, in criticising Zhao, were also criticising Deng’s policies.

    However, in advocating restrictions on market relations, Li and Chen based their policies on the status quo ante and the nationalist perspective of “socialism in country,” which had already proven to be a dead-end. They were looking toward the Soviet Union, even as the deformed workers’ states in Eastern Europe were collapsing and Gorbachev’s policies were undermining centralised planning and nationalised property relations. Their so-called “Soviet faction” represented sections of the Chinese bureaucracy whose power and privileges resided in their control of key sections of state-owned industry and the central apparatus in Beijing.

    At the Fifth Plenum in November 1989, Li delivered the main report, based on the recommendations of a revived State Planning Commission. The adopted plan called for cutting inflation to 10 percent in 1990 and economic growth to 5 percent by maintaining tight controls on credit and balancing the national budget. Rural industries would not be allowed to compete with state-owned enterprises. While keeping the SEZs and “open door” policy in place, the new restrictions hit rural and provincial industries, particularly in the south of the country.

    While Deng no longer held any official party or state position, he still retained considerable political clout, especially in the southern provinces where the new profit-making industries were concentrated. Deng had sided with the hardliners in opposing any political liberalisation and, above all, supported the 1989 military crackdown, but he was adamant that the restrictions on private enterprises and foreign investment had to be completely dismantled.

    The snowballing crisis in the Soviet Union brought matters to a head. An attempted Stalinist putsch in August 1991 to oust Gorbachev and Yeltsin and wind back their program of pro-market restructuring ended in dismal failure. China scholar Michael Marti explained: “This one event changed the thinking about the political equation within the Chinese leadership, including that of Deng Xiaoping. The failure of the Soviet Red Army to support the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in its bid to regain control threw the CCP into a panic. The Chinese leadership feared that a precedent had been established.” [5]

    The factional battle lines were drawn. While the “Soviet faction” began to call into question the entire agenda of pro-market reforms, including the establishment of the SEZs, Deng insisted that the levels of economic growth were too low to maintain employment and social stability. “If the economy cannot be boosted over a long time,” he told a meeting of party elders as far back as late 1989, “it [the government] will lose people’s support at home and will be oppressed and bullied by other nations. The continuation of this situation will lead to the collapse of the Communist Party.” [6]

    Deng was also concerned that the crisis in the Soviet Union, following the collapse of Stalinism in Eastern Europe, would greatly change geo-political relations. Not only had Deng’s strategy sought to balance between the US and the Soviet Union, but his economic policies depended on a large influx of foreign investment, which could potentially shift to exploiting new opportunities opening up in the former Soviet republics.

    Along with provincial leaders in the southern provinces, Deng counted on the support of People’s Liberation Army (PLA). The generals had been shocked by the way in which US imperialism and its allies had deployed hi-tech weaponry in the 1990–91 Gulf War to rapidly destroy the Iraqi military. Their conclusion was that China had to invest heavily in modernising the PLA and only Deng’s policies could transform the economy and produce the growth needed to supply that investment.

    Deng set out on his “Southern tour” in January–February 1992, just 20 days after the formal liquidation of the Soviet Union in December 1991, accompanied by top generals, the state security chief Qiao Shi and party elder Bo Yibo. As he visited the SEZs and southern cities, he declared that there would be no reversal of economic policies in the face of the Soviet collapse. Dismissing concerns about growing social inequality, he is said to have declared: “Let some people get rich first.”

    In a showdown with Chen Yun in Shanghai, Deng reportedly shouted: “Any leader who cannot boost the economy should leave office.” Openly backing capitalist restoration, he declared: “We should absorb more foreign capital and more foreign-advanced experiences and technologies, and set up more foreign-invested enterprises. Do not fear when others say we are practicing capitalism. Capitalism in nothing fearsome.” [7]

    Deng prevailed, opening the door for wholesale capitalist restoration that transformed the whole country into a giant free trade zone for the exploitation of cheap Chinese labour. The crocodile tears shed by Western politicians over the Tiananmen Square massacre were rapidly cast aside as foreign investors recognised that the police-state regime in Beijing was willing to use any method, no matter how brutal, to discipline the working class. In 1993, the CCP proclaimed that its objective was a “socialist market economy,” giving a threadbare “socialist” disguise to its embrace of capitalism.

    In 1994, the CCP formally established a “labour market,” by legitimising the sale and purchase of labour power. State-owned enterprises were corporatised into companies run for profit. The unprofitable ones were restructured or shut down. The better equipped, in sectors not designated as strategic, were sold off or converted into subsidiaries of foreign transnationals. A small number were preserved as state-owned “national flagships.”

    Between 1996 and 2005, the number of employees in state- and collective-owned enterprises halved, from 144 million to 73 million workers. Along with guaranteed life-time employment, the “iron rice bowl” of cradle-to-grave services was also dismantled. Essential services that had previously been provided by state-owned enterprises—childcare, education, health care and pensions—were now left to individual workers.
    Chinese capitalism today

    The restoration of capitalism in China over the past 30 years has only exacerbated the underlying social tensions within Chinese society and compounded the political and geo-political dilemmas confronting the CCP apparatus.

    The extraordinary economic expansion of China to become the world’s second largest economy has rested, in the first place, on the immense gains of the 1949 Revolution that unified China for the first time in decades, created an educated and skilled workforce, and developed basic industries and essential infrastructure. The flood of foreign investment into the country transformed China into the sweatshop of the world and produced a massive 11-fold increase in the economy between 1992 and 2010. This rapid growth, however, did not reflect an inherent strength of the Chinese economy, but rather its role in the world economy, dependent on foreign investment and technology.

    The imperialist powers, above all the United States, were more than willing to exploit cheap Chinese labour as long as China’s economic expansion did not challenge their own established geo-political interests. However, the vast quantity of raw materials and energy that Chinese industries require from around the world have increasingly brought it into conflict with the US and other major powers, in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and internationally. Moreover, as China has sought to create its own hi-tech “national champions” such as Huawei and ZTE, the US, under the Trump administration, has declared economic war on Beijing, not just in matters of trade. It has openly opposed Chinese plans to develop and expand hi-tech industries and to more closely link Eurasia to China through massive infrastructure projects under Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative.

    The delusion promoted by CCP leaders that China could, through a “peaceful rise,” become a world power on a parity with the US has been shattered. China’s expansion has brought it into conflict with the global imperialist order dominated by the United States. Under Obama and now Trump, the US has begun using all means at its disposal to ensure its continued global hegemony. Trump’s economic war goes hand-in-hand with a military build-up in the Indo-Pacific, escalating naval provocations in the South China Sea, under the guise of “freedom of navigation operations, and more open preparations for a war between the two nuclear-armed powers.

    The CCP leadership has no answer to the mounting danger of war, other than desperately seeking an accommodation with imperialism, while engaging in a frenetic arms race that can only end in catastrophe for the working class in China and internationally. Capitalist restoration, far from strengthening China’s capacity to counter the US, has greatly weakened it. The regime is organically incapable of making any appeal to the international working class, as that would inevitably lead to social struggles by the working class at home.

    Having abandoned even its previous nominal commitment to socialism and internationalism, the CCP has increasing relied on whipping up Chinese nationalism to try to create a social base in layers of the middle class. There is nothing progressive about Chinese chauvinism and patriotism, which divides Chinese workers from their class brothers and sisters internationally, and within China from non-Han Chinese minorities. Its repressive measures against Uighurs, Tibetans and other ethnic groups have provided an opening that the US is seeking to exploit. Under the bogus banner of “human rights,” Washington is promoting separatist groups as part of its ambition to fracture and subordinate China to its interests.

    Thirty years after the Tiananmen Square massacre, the CCP leadership is terrified of a renewal of working-class opposition, the first stirrings of which have been seen in the more numerous reports of workers’ strikes and protests, and, significantly over the past year, in a turn by a layer of university students to assist workers in their struggles. Since 1989, the working class in China has vastly expanded to an estimated 400 million and as a proportion of the population. One indicator is the growth of the country’s urban population from just 26.4 percent of the total in 1990, to 58.5 percent in 2017.

    The CCP leadership boasts of having lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty, using the UN’s very austere measures of poverty. Such benchmarks ignore the many factors that are fueling discontent among workers, including the common practice of late or unpaid wages, unhealthy and dangerous factory conditions, harsh corporate disciplinary practices, and the lack of basic social rights for tens of millions of internal migrants in the cities. All of these oppressive conditions are monitored and policed by the All-China Federation of Trade Unions, which functions as an arm of the CCP bureaucracy in workplaces.

    Capitalist restoration has produced a dramatic rise in social inequality: from one of the most equal societies in the world, China has become one of the most unequal countries. It is home to more dollar billionaires than any other country except the United States. While Chinese workers struggle to survive on the minimum wage of $370 a month, the wealthiest individual, Tencent chairman Pony Ma, has a personal fortune of almost $40 billion. These super-rich oligarchs, who in many cases have built their fortunes through naked corruption and the looting of state-owned property, are represented in the Chinese Communist Party and sit on powerful advisory bodies.

    The gulf between the super-rich and the vast majority of the workers and the poor is generating huge social tensions that, sooner rather than later, will explode on a scale that will eclipse the rebellion by workers and students 30 years ago. The lesson drawn by the Stalinist leadership from the 1989 events was that it had to suppress, through all available means, any expression of opposition that could become the focus of a broader movement against the regime. Incapable of meeting the pressing social needs of the majority of the population, the CCP has vastly expanded its police-state apparatus, now spending more each year on its internal security forces than it does on external defence.

    The working class must also draw the necessary political lessons from the defeat of that movement in 1989, which was rapidly assuming revolutionary dimensions. What was lacking was not determination, audacity and courage, nor numbers, which were rapidly swelling across China, but the essential problem facing the international working class in the 20th century—the absence of revolutionary leadership.

    James Cogan summed up the issue in his analysis “Ten years since the Tiananmen Square massacre,” stating:

    Inexperienced politically and lacking a political perspective outside of opposition to the existing regime, the workers’ leaders advanced no alternative to, and deferred to, the student bodies. The workers of China knew in their life experience what they were against—Stalinism and capitalism—but they were not able to articulate any perspective for an alternative social order.

    Decades of domination by Stalinism and the active suppression of genuine Marxism in China meant there was no revolutionary socialist, that is, Trotskyist, tendency in the working class. No organisation within the country could spontaneously advance the program that was implicit in the actions and sentiments of the Chinese working class—a political revolution to overthrow the Stalinist regime and introduce major reforms into the economy for the benefit of the working class. [8]

    The essential political task of building a Trotskyist leadership in the Chinese working class as a section of the International Committee of the Fourth International remains. None of the oppositional tendencies that emerged out of the 1989 protests offer a viable political perspective for the working class. Advocates of independent trade unions such as Han Dongfang, who was prominent in the Beijing Workers Autonomous Federation in 1989, have underscored the political bankruptcy of syndicalism by lurching to the right and into the arms of US trade union apparatus, in other words of US imperialism.

    A layer of youth, intellectuals and workers have turned to Maoism, and its banal “revolutionary” slogans, for answers. Capitalist restoration in China, however, was not a break from Maoism. It flowed organically out of the dead-end of “socialism in one country.” Maoism could aptly be termed Stalinism with Chinese characteristics, with its hostility to the working class, its emphasis on subjective will, and above all its putrid nationalism. It is diametrically opposed to genuine Marxism, that is the perspective of socialist internationalism, which alone was upheld by the Trotskyist movement, including the Chinese Trotskyists.

    The establishment of a genuinely revolutionary party in China, as part of the ICFI, requires the assimilation of the essential strategic experiences of the international working class, of which the Chinese revolutions of the 20th century are a critical component. The CCP leaders are petrified that workers and youth will begin to work over the lessons of history. They attempt to censor and black out any knowledge and discussion of the events of 1989, and continue to perpetrate the lies of Stalinism about the course of the 20th century.

    The crucial political lessons of the protracted struggle of Trotskyism against Stalinism are embedded in the program, perspective and documents of the International Committee of the Fourth International. Workers and youth should make a serious study of the political issues involved, beginning with the documents of the ICFI on the Tiananmen Square massacre, republished this week on the World Socialist Web Site. We urge you to contact the International Committee of the Fourth International, which is the first step toward forging a Trotskyist leadership in the Chinese working class.

    Footnotes:

    [1] Cited in “Workers in the Tiananmen protests: The politics of the Beijing Workers Autonomous Federation,” by Andrew G. Walder and Gong Xiaoxia, first published in the Australian Journal of Chinese Affairs, No 29, January 1993.

    [2] The World Capitalist Crisis and the Tasks of the Fourth International: Perspectives Resolution of the International Committee of the Fourth International, August 1988, Labor Publications, pp.30–31.

    [3] Maurice Meisner, Mao’s China and After: A History of the People’s Republic, The Free Press, Third edition, 1999, p.508.

    [4] ibid, p.389.

    [5] Michael Marti, China and the Legacy of Deng Xiaoping: From Communist Revolution to Capitalist Evolution, Brassey’s Inc, 2002, pp.47–48.

    [6] Cited in John Chan, “Twenty years since Deng Xiaoping’s ‘Southern tour’—Part 1”, 26 November 2012.

    [7] Cited in John Chan, “Twenty years since Deng Xiaoping’s ‘Southern tour’—Part 2”, 27 November 2012.

    [8] James Cogan, “Ten years since the Tiananmen Square massacre: Political lessons for the working class,” 4 June 1999.

    #Chine #4689

  • Stalin and the Struggle for Democratic Reform (http://marxism.halkc...
    https://diasp.eu/p/9250820

    Stalin and the Struggle for Democratic Reform by Grover Furr Grover Carr Furr III (born April 3, 1944) is an American professor of Medieval English literature at Montclair State University, but is best known for his books and articles on the history of the USSR under Joseph Stalin, particularly the 1930s[.](nowhere “#socialism #history #russia #ussr #stalin #groverfurr” )

  • Dans la lignée de son rôle très actifs dans les accords de paix en Colombie, la Norvège, qui n’a pas reconnu Juan Guaidó comme président, entretient de longue date des contacts avec gouvernement et opposants du Venezuela. Des rencontres ont eu lieu mardi 14 et mercredi 15à Oslo.

    Qué tienen los noruegos para abonar una solución a la crisis en Venezuela
    http://www.el-nacional.com/noticias/politica/que-tienen-los-noruegos-para-abonar-una-solucion-crisis-venezuela_28253

    Noruega ha hecho del apoyo a la paz en el mundo una verdadera política de Estado”. Son palabras del ex presidente colombiano Juan Manuel Santos en la obra La batalla por la paz, en la que desgrana desde las vivencias personales en el arduo camino hasta la firma de los acuerdos de paz en Colombia. En esta complicada tarea participó una delegación noruega encabezada por el diplomático Dag Nylander.

    Noruega, junto con Cuba, fueron los países garantes presentes en la mesa de negociaciones. Con esa labor, Noruega se ganó el crédito de todos, incluidos cubanos y venezolanos, subraya al diario ALnavío Leiv Marsteintredet, profesor asociado de Política Comparada de la Universidad de Bergen. Este experto noruego es investigador de fenómenos políticos y especialista en estudios de resolución de conflictos, con un marcado interés por América Latina, especialmente Venezuela.

    Ahora el foco negociador vuelve de nuevo a Noruega. Esta vez por la crisis venezolana. Según adelantó el diario ALnavío -y se hacen eco medios noruegos y españoles- el martes y el miércoles delegados de la oposición y del régimen de Nicolás Maduro mantuvieron dos encuentros en Oslo. Ya están de regreso a Caracas. En ambos encuentros estuvo presente un grupo de intermediarios, un equipo noruego. Marsteintredet subraya que parte de ese equipo es el mismo que participó en la mesa de negociación de los acuerdos de paz en Colombia, incluido Nylander.

    Noruega lleva ya probablemente un año o más hablando con las dos partes, con gobierno y oposición de Venezuela. Por lo menos por separado. Lo confirmó la ministra de Exteriores noruega, Ine Eriksen Søreide”, recalca este experto.

    El rumor de que Noruega podría tener un papel en la mediación entre ambas partes despertó cuando Yván Gil, viceministro para Europa de Nicolás Maduro, visitó Oslo a mediados de febrero. Gil se reunió con el diplomático noruego Nylander, el mismo de las negociaciones de paz en Colombia años atrás.

    Intercambiamos opiniones sobre la situación de Venezuela, pero en el marco de la posición oficial de Noruega”, dijo Gil a Aftenposten.

     Hasta ahora Noruega no ha reconocido a Juan Guaidó como presidente encargado de Venezuela.

    ¿Por qué los noruegos están mediando en la crisis venezolana? “Es natural ver esto como una continuación del buen contacto que Noruega obtuvo en la negociación de los acuerdos de paz en Colombia tanto con los cubanos como con el gobierno de Venezuela, primero de Hugo Chávez y ahora de Nicolás Maduro, ya que Venezuela también formó parte de las conversaciones para el tratado de paz en Colombia”, explica Marsteintredet.

    Este experto subraya que Noruega ha mantenido una presencia en Colombia para seguir la implementación del acuerdo de paz, que “se ha ganado el respeto del gobierno de Venezuela” y que “ha aprovechado esos contactos para seguir trabajando”, esta vez por la resolución del conflicto venezolano.

    • Le point de vue du «  boss  » : négocier, c’est bien, faut essayer, mais faut pas que ça serve à gagner du temps ; négocier, c’est pour virer Maduro.
      Intéressante base de «  négociations  ». Un peu comme pour Bachar,…

      Rubio : Guaidó y su equipo no caerán en negociaciones falsas
      http://www.el-nacional.com/noticias/mundo/rubio-guaido-equipo-caeran-negociaciones-falsas_282689

      Marco Rubio, senador estadounidense por el estado de Florida, dijo este viernes que el presidente interino Juan Guaidó merece crédito por «explorar nuevas posibilidades para encontrar una transición pacífica a la democracia en Venezuela». 

      Señaló que tanto Estados Unidos como el Grupo de Lima son conscientes de que Nicolás Maduro utilizó las oportunidades de diálogo pasadas para ganar tiempo. «El presidente Guaidó y su equipo no van a caer en una negociación falsa», aseguró en Twitter. 

      El martes Noruega recibió a representantes de Nicolás Maduro y de la oposición para explorar eventuales conversaciones a fin de buscar solución a la crisis política. Por parte del oficialismo participaron Jorge Rodríguez y Héctor Rodríguez y por la oposición asistieron Gerardo Blyde, Fernando Martínez y Stalin González, segundo vicepresidente del Parlamento.

      Guaidó informó el jueves en rueda de prensa que se trataba de «un esfuerzo de Noruega por una mediación, que tiene meses. Esta fue la segunda invitación a Oslo (...) Es la intención de un país, así como la tienen el Grupo de Contacto, el Grupo de Lima, Canadá y otras naciones, de mediar en la crisis. Es una iniciativa más de un país que quiere colaborar».

      @marcorubio - Twitter
      17:36 - 17 may. 2019
      https://twitter.com/marcorubio/status/1129410338603044865

      .@jguaido deserves credit for exploring new every possibility at finding a peaceful transition to democracy in #Venezuela#LimaGroup & #EU well aware #Maduro used past negotiations to buy time & President Guaido & his team aren’t going to fall for a fake negotiation

  • Exposition : Joseph Staline, commissaire des arts
    https://www.lemonde.fr/culture/article/2019/03/21/joseph-staline-commissaire-des-arts_5439038_3246.html


    « Donbass, la pause déjeuner » (1935), d’Alexandre #Deïneka, huile sur toile.
    COLLECTION DU MUSÉE NATIONAL DES BEAUX-ARTS DE LETTONIE / ADAGP, PARIS, 2019

    Pourquoi nous cache-t-on la peinture russe ­contem­poraine ? La question était posée le 11 janvier 1952 par André Breton dans l’hebdomadaire Arts. A l’époque, les seuls à la connaître un peu étaient ceux qui avaient fait le voyage en Union soviétique, ou ceux qui se souvenaient du pavillon de l’URSS à l’exposition ­universelle de Paris, en 1937. Le Centre Pompidou évacuait prudemment le sujet en 1979 avec l’exposition « Paris-Moscou » : elle s’interrompait à l’année 1930, avant que ne s’imposent les théories du réalisme socialiste.

    L’exposition « Rouge » au Grand Palais ose enfin dévoiler ce que Breton entendait dénoncer : les œuvres produites durant le stalinisme, pour beaucoup jamais montrées, qui succédèrent aux avant-gardes accompagnant la révolution de 1917, elles désormais bien connues. Le parcours conçu par Nicolas Liucci-Goutnikov, conservateur au Centre Pompidou et commissaire de l’exposition avec Natalia Milovzorova, couvre toute la période, jusqu’à la mort de Staline, en 1953, en présentant 400 pièces.

    Les avant-gardes, donc, ouvrent la visite. Pas toutes : n’ont été retenus que les travaux des artistes engagés avec la révolution dans la recherche d’un art productif, productiviste même. Foin de paysages pastoraux, dessinons des casseroles, des vraies. Pas de peinture « bourgeoise », et en ce sens, les tableaux de Chagall, même si celui-ci soutint la révolution, n’ont pas leur place, mais un art conçu dans une logique industrielle, répondant aux besoins de la société nouvelle.

    Dès 1918, le poète Vladimir Maïakovski, s’appuyant sur les artistes futuristes russes, publie un manifeste, le Décret n° 1 sur la démocratisation des arts, qui veut abolir « le séjour de l’art » dans les galeries ou les musées pour le transplanter dans la rue ou les usines. On est là très proche du Bauhaus allemand. Alexandre Rodtchenko […]

    #paywall

    • Rouge – Exposition au Grand Palais du 20 mars au 1er juillet 2019
      ROUGE
      Art et utopie au pays des Soviets
      Grand Palais, Galeries nationales
      20 mars 2019 - 1 juillet 2019

      https://www.grandpalais.fr/fr/evenement/rouge

      • Plus de 400 œuvres exposées
      • Peinture, sculpture, architecture, photographie, cinéma, design…des œuvres pour la plupart jamais montrées en France !
      • Alexandre Rodtchenko, Kazimir Malevitch, Gustav Klutsis, Alexandre Deïneka, Sergueï Eisenstein, Varvara Stepanova…
       L’exposition_ Rouge. Art et utopie au pays des Soviets_ présente un ensemble de plus de 400 œuvres conçues dans un contexte social et politique particulier. Son parcours chronologique commence en 1917 avec la révolution d’Octobre et se termine en 1953, année de la mort de Staline.

      Elle interroge la manière dont le projet de société communiste a engendré des formes d’art spécifiques. Des années 1920, marquées par un grand nombre de propositions d’avant-garde, aux années 1930 qui voient l’affirmation d’un dogme esthétique, le parcours aborde tous les domaines des arts visuels : peinture, sculpture, architecture, photographie, cinéma, design, arts graphiques avec des œuvres, pour la plupart jamais montrées en France.

      Les artistes tels que Rodtchenko, Malevitch, Klutsis … ont voulu accompagner par leurs œuvres l’édification du socialisme et contribuer à la transformation du mode de vie des masses. C’est cette histoire, ses tensions, ses élans comme ses revirements que relate l’exposition en posant la question d’une possible politisation des arts.

      Exposition organisée par la Réunion des musées nationaux - Grand Palais et le Centre Pompidou Musée national d’art moderne.

    • Rouge : l’exposition - YouTube
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jgock_xNmQA

      Entre utopie artistique et utopie politique, l’exposition « Rouge, art et utopie au pays des Soviets » s’intéresse à la façon dont le projet communiste a produit une forme d’art spécifique, participant à la révolution du mode de vie. Le commissaire Nicolas Liucci-Goutnikov retrace le parcours de cette exposition qui court de la révolution d’Octobre jusqu’à la mort de Staline. Mêlant le design, la peinture, l’architecture, le cinéma, ou encore le photomontage, partez à la (re)découverte de l’art soviétique.

  • An Interview with Ryszard Kapuscinski: Writing about Suffering
    https://quod.lib.umich.edu/j/jii/4750978.0006.107/--interview-with-ryszard-kapuscinski-writing-about-suffering?rgn=mai

    Wolfe:

    Were you trained as a journalist? Kapuscinski: No, never. I started in journalism in 1950 — I was 18, just finishing secondary school, and the newspaper people came to ask me to work. I learned journalism through practice.

    Wolfe: How would you describe your genre?

    Kapuscinski: It’s very difficult to describe. We have such a mixture now, such a fusion of different genres… in the American tradition you would call it New Journalism. This implies writing about the facts, the real facts of life, but using the techniques of fiction writing. There is a certain difference in my case, because I’m trying to put more elements of the essay into my writing… My writing is a combination of three elements. The first is travel: not travel like a tourist, but travel as exploration, as concentration, as a purpose. The second is reading literature on the subject: books, articles, scholarship. The third is reflection, which comes from travel and reading. My books are created from a combination of these three elements.

    Wolfe:When did the idea of Aesopian writing enter into the genre, the idea of putting layers into official texts?

    Kapuscinski: Well, this is not a new thing — it was a nineteenth-century Russian tradition. As for us, we were trying to use all the available possibilities, because there wasn’t any underground. Underground literature only began in the 70s, when technical developments made it possible. Before that, we were involved in a game with the censors. That was our struggle. The Emperor is considered to be an Aesopian book in Poland and the Soviet Union. Of course it’s not about Ethiopia or Haile Selassie — rather, it’s about the Central Committee of the Communist Party. The First Secretary at the time was named Gierek, and he was very much the emperor with his court, and everybody read the book as being about him and the Central Committee.

    Wolfe: But you didn’t write explicitly about the Central Committee.

    Kapuscinski: No, but of course the authorities knew what it was about, and so it had a very small circulation, and it was forbidden to turn it into a film or a play. Aesopian language was used by all of us. And of course, using this language meant having readers who understood it.

    Cohen: The other day we were discussing the crisis of readership, and wondering whether people were still capable of doing the double reading, of taking apart a text that has been written in a complicated way.

    Kapuscinski: The limitation of sources under the Communists had a very political effect on reading. People had just one book, and nothing else — no television or other diversions — so they just read the same book very carefully several times. Readership was high, and very attentive. It was people’s only source of knowledge about the world. You have to understand that the tradition of Russian literature — and Russians are great readers — is also an eastern tradition of learning poetry and prose by heart. This is the most intimate relationship between literature and its readers: they treat the text as a part of themselves, as a possession. This art of reading, reading the text behind the text, is missing now.

    Cohen: When did you first arrive on the African continent?

    Kapuscinski:My first trip to Africa came when the first countries south of the Sahara became independent, in 1958. Ghana was the first African country I visited. I wrote a series of reports about Nkumrah and Lumumba. My second trip was just two years later, when I went to cover the events surrounding the independence of the Congo. At that time, I was not allowed to go to Kinshasa — it was Leopoldville at that time — but I crossed the Sudan-Congo border illegally with a Czech journalist friend, since there was nobody patrolling it. And I went to Kisangani, which was called Stanleyville then.

    Cohen: Were you in Leopoldville during the actual transfer[1]?

    Kapuscinski:No, afterwards. It was a moment of terrible international tension. I remember the atmosphere of danger: there was the expectation that the Congo might begin a new world war. I say this today and people just smile. But that’s why everybody was so nervous: Russians were going there, Americans were going there, the French, the United Nations… I remember one moment at the airport in Kisangani, thinking that Soviet planes were coming — all the journalists were there, and we all expected it to happen.

    Cohen: At that time, in the early 1960s, there weren’t more than three regular American journalists covering Africa.

    Kapuscinski:There were very few, because most correspondents came from the former colonial powers — there were British, French, and a lot of Italians, because there were a lot of Italian communities there. And of course there were a lot of Russians.

    Wolfe: Was there competition among this handful of people?

    Kapuscinski: No, we all cooperated, all of us, East and West, regardless of country, because the working conditions were really terrible. We had to. We always moved in groups from one coup d’état to another, from one war to another… So if there was a coup d’état of leftist orientation in some country I took my Western colleagues with me and said “look, let them come in,” and if there was one of rightist orientation they took me, saying “no, he’s okay, give him a visa please, he’s going with us, he’s our friend,” and so on. I didn’t compete with the New York Times, for example, because the Polish press agency is a small piece of cake, not important. And because conditions were so hard. For example, to send the news out, there was no e-mail, nothing: telex was the only means, but telex was very rare in Africa. So if somebody was flying to Europe, we gave him correspondence, to send after he arrived. I remember that during the period leading up to independence in Angola in 1975, I was the only correspondent there at all for three months. I was in my hotel room when somebody knocked on my door - I opened it, and a man said, “I’m the New York Times correspondent.” The official independence celebration was going to be held over four or five days, and a group of journalists from all over the world was allowed to fly in, because Angola was closed otherwise. So he said, “I’m sorry, but I’m the new man here, and I heard you’ve been here longer, and I have to write something from Angola, and this is the article I have to send to the New York Times. Could you kindly read it and correct things which are not real?” And he brought a bottle of whiskey. And whiskey was something which was absolutely marvelous, because there was nothing: no cigarettes, no food, nothing…The difference at that time, in comparison with today, was that this was a group of highly specialized people. They were real Africanists, and not only from experience. If you read articles from that time in Le Monde, in the Times, you’ll find that the authors really had background, a knowledge of the subject. It was a very highly qualified sort of journalism — we were all great specialists.

    Woodford: Professor Piotr Michalowski[2] says that when he was growing up in Poland, people lived through your reports in a very special way: they were like a big, exotic outlet, given the state of world politics. People of all ranks and stations followed these adventures. When you went back, did regular Poles, non-educated people, also want you to tell them about what it was like to see these things?

    Kapuscinski:Yes, very much so. They were very interested in what I was writing. This was a unique source of information, and Africa held incomparably greater interest for them at that time than it does now. People were really interested in what was going on because of the international context of the Cold War.

    Wolfe: What did the Poles know about Africa?

    Kapuscinski: They had very limited knowledge. This was very typical of the European understanding of Africa, which is full of stereotypes and biases. Nevertheless, there was a certain fascination with Africa. Maybe it has something to do with our literature: we have Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, for example, and Conrad is considered in Poland as a Polish writer. The similarity between Africa and Poland - and this is an argument I have always had with people in Africa - is that we were also a colonized country. We were a colony for 130 years. We lost independence at the end of the 18th century, and only regained it in 1918, after the First World War. We were divided between three colonial powers - Russia, Prussia, and Austria. There’s a certain similarity of experience. I’ve often quarreled with African friends about this. I’ve asked, “How long were you colonized?” "Eighty years," they’ve answered, and I’ve responded, “We were colonized 50 years longer, so what can you say about colonialism? I’ll tell you what colonial experience is.” And they’re shocked. But though there is a similarity of experience, the common people are not conscious of this.

    Wolfe: At the end of the Copernicus Lecture, you said that you wrote Imperium because it was important to bring a Polish way of seeing things to your topic. How did you come to a sense that there was a Polish way of seeing things? Did it emerge from your experiences in Africa, or in relationship to Russia?

    Kapuscinski: It developed in relation to Russia in particular. Our history, the history of Polish-Russian relations, is very tragic, very harrowing. There has been a lot of suffering on our side, because Stalin killed all our intelligentsia. It wasn’t just that he killed 100,000 people, it was that he purposely killed the 100,000 who were our only intelligentsia… When I started writing Imperium, I had a problem with my conscience, because if I wrote strictly from the point of view of this Polish experience, the book would be completely unacceptable and incomprehensible to the Western reader…So I had to put aside our Polish experience, and to find an angle, an objective way of writing about Russia.

    Wolfe: Isn’t there something inherently difficult in writing about suffering? How does one go back and forth between a sense of causation in daily suffering on the one hand, and an understanding of the purges as a social phenomenon, on the other? How does one attempt to understand the cultural propensity of Russians to suffer?

    Kapuscinski: There is a fundamental difference between the Polish experience of the state and the Russian experience. In the Polish experience, the state was always a foreign power. So, to hate the state, to be disobedient to the state, was a patriotic act. In the Russian experience, although the Russian state is oppressive, it is their state, it is part of their fabric, and so the relation between Russian citizens and their state is much more complicated. There are several reasons why Russians view the oppressive state positively. First of all, in Russian culture, in the Russian Orthodox religion, there is an understanding of authority as something sent by God. This makes the state part of the sacred… So if the state is oppressive, then it is oppressive, but you can’t revolt against it. The cult of authority is very strong in Russian society.

    Wolfe: But what is the difference between Soviet suffering and something like the battle of the Marne, the insanity of World War I and trench warfare?

    Kapuscinski: It’s different. In the First World War, there was the sudden passion of nationalism, and the killing took place because of these emotions. But the Soviet case is different, because there you had systematic murder, like in the Holocaust. Ten or 12 million Ukrainian peasants were purposely killed by Stalin, by starvation, in the Ukrainian hunger of 1932-3…It was a very systematic plan… In modern Russia, you have no official, formal assessment of this past. Nobody in any Russian document has said that the policy of the Soviet government was criminal, that it was terrible. No one has ever said this.

    Woodford: But what about Khrushchev in 1956?

    Kapuscinski: I’m speaking about the present. Official Russian state doctrine and foreign policy doesn’t mention the Bolshevik policy of expansion. It doesn’t condemn it. If you ask liberal Russians - academics, politicians - if Russia is dangerous to us, to Europe, to the world, they say: “No, it’s not dangerous, we’re too weak, we have an economic crisis, difficulties with foreign trade, our army is in a state of anarchy…” That is the answer. They are not saying: “We will never, ever repeat our crimes of expansionism, of constant war.” No, they say: “We are not dangerous to you, because right now we are weak.”

    Cohen:

    When Vaclav Havel was president of Czechoslovakia, he was asked whether the state would take responsibility for the deaths, the oppression, the confiscations of the previous governments of Czechoslovakia, and he said “yes.” The same questions were asked in South Africa of the Mandela government. And I think Poland is now struggling with how much responsibility the government will have to take for the past. But the Russian official response has been that Stalin can be blamed for everything.

    Kapuscinski:This is a very crucial point: there is a lack of critical assessment of the past. But you have to understand that the current ruling elite is actually the old ruling elite. So they are incapable of a self-critical approach to the past.

    Polish-born journalist Ryszard Kapuscinski worked as an African correspondent for various Polish periodicals and press agencies from 1958 to 1980. In his book Imperium (Granta Books, 1994), he turns a journalist’s eye onto the Russian state, and the effects of authoritarianism on everyday Russian life. Kapuscinski delivered his November, 1997 Copernicus lecture: "The Russian Puzzle: Why I Wrote Imperium at the Center for Russian and East European Studies. During his visit, he spoke with David Cohen (International Institute); John Woodford (Executive Editor of Michigan Today ); and Thomas Wolfe (Communications). The following is an excerpted transcript of their conversation.

    Sei Sekou Mobutu seized control of the Congo in 1965. After the evolution, the name of the capital was changed from Leopoldville to Kinshasa, and in 1971 the country was renamed Zaire, instead of the Congo. return to text

    Piotr Michalowski is the George D. Cameron Professor of Ancient Near Eastern Civilizations and Languages at the Unversity of Michigan.

    Kapuscinski, more magical than real

    What’s the truth about Polish journalist Ryszard Kapuscinski
    https://www.newstatesman.com/africa/2007/02/wrong-kapuscinski-african

    https://de.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ryszard_Kapu%C5%9Bci%C5%84ski

    #presse #littérature #reportage

  • The Knesset candidate who says Zionism encourages anti-Semitism and calls Netanyahu ’arch-murderer’ - Israel Election 2019 - Haaretz.com
    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/elections/.premium.MAGAZINE-knesset-candidate-netanyahu-is-an-arch-murderer-zionism-e

    Few Israelis have heard of Dr. Ofer Cassif, the Jewish representative on the far-leftist Hadash party’s Knesset slate. On April 9, that will change
    By Ravit Hecht Feb 16, 2019

    Ofer Cassif is fire and brimstone. Not even the flu he’s suffering from today can contain his bursting energy. His words are blazing, and he bounds through his modest apartment, searching frenetically for books by Karl Marx and Primo Levi in order to find quotations to back up his ideas. Only occasional sips from a cup of maté bring his impassioned delivery to a momentary halt. The South American drink is meant to help fight his illness, he explains.

    Cassif is third on the slate of Knesset candidates in Hadash (the Hebrew acronym for the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality), the successor to Israel’s Communist Party. He holds the party’s “Jewish slot,” replacing MK Dov Khenin. Cassif is likely to draw fire from opponents and be a conspicuous figure in the next Knesset, following the April 9 election.

    Indeed, the assault on him began as soon as he was selected by the party’s convention. The media pursued him; a columnist in the mass-circulation Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper, Ben-Dror Yemini, called for him to be disqualified from running for the Knesset. It would be naive to say that this was unexpected. Cassif, who was one of the first Israeli soldiers to refuse to serve in the territories, in 1987, gained fame thanks to a number of provocative statements. The best known is his branding of Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked as “neo-Nazi scum.” On another occasion, he characterized Jews who visit the Temple Mount as “cancer with metastases that have to be eradicated.”

    On his alternate Facebook page, launched after repeated blockages of his original account by a blitz of posts from right-wing activists, he asserted that Culture Minister Miri Regev is “repulsive gutter contamination,” that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is an “arch-murderer” and that the new Israel Defense Forces chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, is a “war criminal.”

    Do you regret making those remarks?

    Cassif: “‘Regret’ is a word of emotion. Those statements were made against a background of particular events: the fence in Gaza, horrible legislation, and the wild antics of Im Tirtzu [an ultranationalist organization] on campus. That’s what I had to say at the time. I didn’t count on being in the Knesset. That wasn’t part of my plan. But it’s clear to me that as a public personality, I would not have made those comments.”

    Is Netanyahu an arch-murderer?

    “Yes. I wrote it in the specific context of a particular day in the Gaza Strip. A massacre of innocent people was perpetrated there, and no one’s going to persuade me that those people were endangering anyone. It’s a concentration camp. Not a ‘concentration camp’ in the sense of Bergen-Belsen; I am absolutely not comparing the Holocaust to what’s happening.”

    You term what Israel is doing to the Palestinians “genocide.”

    “I call it ‘creeping genocide.’ Genocide is not only a matter of taking people to gas chambers. When Yeshayahu Leibowitz used the term ‘Judeo-Nazis,’ people asked him, ‘How can you say that? Are we about to build gas chambers?’ To that, he had two things to say. First, if the whole difference between us and the Nazis boils down to the fact that we’re not building gas chambers, we’re already in trouble. And second, maybe we won’t use gas chambers, but the mentality that exists today in Israel – and he said this 40 years ago – would allow it. I’m afraid that today, after four years of such an extreme government, it possesses even greater legitimacy.

    “But you know what, put aside ‘genocide’ – ethnic cleansing is taking place there. And that ethnic cleansing is also being carried out by means of killing, although mainly by way of humiliation and of making life intolerable. The trampling of human dignity. It reminds me of Primo Levi’s ‘If This Is a Man.’”

    You say you’re not comparing, but you repeatedly come back to Holocaust references. On Facebook, you also uploaded the scene from “Schindler’s List” in which the SS commander Amon Goeth picks off Jews with his rifle from the balcony of his quarters in the camp. You compared that to what was taking place along the border fence in the Gaza Strip.

    “Today, I would find different comparisons. In the past I wrote an article titled, ‘On Holocaust and on Other Crimes.’ It’s online [in Hebrew]. I wrote there that anyone who compares Israel to the Holocaust is cheapening the Holocaust. My comparison between here and what happened in the early 1930s [in Germany] is a very different matter.”

    Clarity vs. crudity

    Given Cassif’s style, not everyone in Hadash was happy with his election, particularly when it comes to the Jewish members of the predominantly Arab party. Dov Khenin, for example, declined to be interviewed and say what he thinks of his parliamentary successor. According to a veteran party figure, “From the conversations I had, it turns out that almost none of the Jewish delegates – who make up about 100 of the party’s 940 delegates – supported his candidacy.

    “He is perceived, and rightly so,” the party veteran continues, “as someone who closes doors to Hadash activity within Israeli society. Each of the other Jewish candidates presented a record of action and of struggles they spearheaded. What does he do? Curses right-wing politicians on Facebook. Why did the party leadership throw the full force of its weight behind him? In a continuation of the [trend exemplified by] its becoming part of the Joint List, Ofer’s election reflects insularity and an ongoing retreat from the historical goal of implementing change in Israeli society.”

    At the same time, as his selection by a 60 percent majority shows, many in the party believe that it’s time to change course. “Israeli society is moving rightward, and what’s perceived as Dov’s [Khenin] more gentle style didn’t generate any great breakthrough on the Jewish street,” a senior source in Hadash notes.

    “It’s not a question of the tension between extremism and moderation, but of how to signpost an alternative that will develop over time. Clarity, which is sometimes called crudity, never interfered with cooperation between Arabs and Jews. On the contrary. Ofer says things that we all agreed with but didn’t so much say, and of course that’s going to rile the right wing. And a good thing, too.”

    Hadash chairman MK Ayman Odeh also says he’s pleased with the choice, though sources in the party claim that Odeh is apprehensive about Cassif’s style and that he actually supported a different candidate. “Dov went for the widest possible alliances in order to wield influence,” says Odeh. “Ofer will go for very sharp positions at the expense of the breadth of the alliance. But his sharp statements could have a large impact.”

    Khenin was deeply esteemed by everyone. When he ran for mayor of Tel Aviv in 2008, some 35 percent of the electorate voted for him, because he was able to touch people who weren’t only from his political milieu.

    Odeh: “No one has a higher regard for Dov than I do. But just to remind you, we are not a regular opposition, we are beyond the pale. And there are all kinds of styles. Influence can be wielded through comments that are vexatious the first time but which people get used to the second time. When an Arab speaks about the Nakba and about the massacre in Kafr Kassem [an Israeli Arab village, in 1956], it will be taken in a particular way, but when uttered by a Jew it takes on special importance.”

    He will be the cause of many attacks on the party.

    “Ahlan wa sahlan – welcome.”

    Cassif will be the first to tell you that, with all due respect for the approach pursued by Khenin and by his predecessor in the Jewish slot, Tamar Gozansky, he will be something completely different. “I totally admire what Tamar and Dov did – nothing less than that,” he says, while adding, “But my agenda will be different. The three immediate dangers to Israeli society are the occupation, racism and the diminishment of the democratic space to the point of liquidation. That’s the agenda that has to be the hub of the struggle, as long as Israel rules over millions of people who have no rights, enters [people’s houses] in the middle of the night, arrests minors on a daily basis and shoots people in the back.

    "Israel commits murder on a daily basis. When you murder one Palestinian, you’re called Elor Azaria [the IDF soldier convicted and jailed for killing an incapacitated Palestinian assailant]; when you murder and oppress thousands of Palestinians, you’re called the State of Israel.”

    So you plan to be the provocateur in the next Knesset?

    “It’s not my intention to be a provocateur, to stand there and scream and revile people. Even on Facebook I was compelled to stop that. But I definitely intend to challenge the dialogue in terms of the content, and mainly with a type of sarcasm.”

    ’Bags of blood’

    Cassif, 54, who holds a doctorate in political philosophy from the London School of Economics, teaches political science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Sapir Academic College in Sderot and at the Academic College of Tel Aviv-Yaffo. He lives in Rehovot, is married and is the father of a 19-year-old son. He’s been active in Hadash for three decades and has held a number of posts in the party.

    As a lecturer, he stands out for his boldness and fierce rhetoric, which draws students of all stripes. He even hangs out with some of his Haredi students, one of whom wrote a post on the eve of the Hadash primary urging the delegates to choose him. After his election, a student from a settlement in the territories wrote to him, “You are a determined and industrious person, and for that I hold you in high regard. Hoping we will meet on the field of action and growth for the success of Israel as a Jewish, democratic state (I felt obliged to add a small touch of irony in conclusion).”

    Cassif grew up in a home that supported Mapai, forerunner of Labor, in Rishon Letzion. He was an only child; his father was an accountant, his mother held a variety of jobs. He was a news hound from an early age, and at 12 ran for the student council in school. He veered sharply to the left in his teens, becoming a keen follower of Marx and socialism.

    Following military service in the IDF’s Nahal brigade and a period in the airborne Nahal, Cassif entered the Hebrew University. There his political career moved one step forward, and there he also forsook the Zionist left permanently. His first position was as a parliamentary aide to the secretary general of the Communist Party, Meir Wilner.

    “At first I was closer to Mapam [the United Workers Party, which was Zionist], and then I refused to serve in the territories. I was the first refusenik in the first intifada to be jailed. I didn’t get support from Mapam, I got support from the people of Hadash, and I drew close to them. I was later jailed three more times for refusing to serve in the territories.”

    His rivals in the student organizations at the Hebrew University remember him as the epitome of the extreme left.

    “Even in the Arab-Jewish student association, Cassif was considered off-the-wall,” says Motti Ohana, who was chairman of Likud’s student association and active in the Student Union at the end of the 1980s and early 1990s. “One time I got into a brawl with him. It was during the first intifada, when he brought two bags of blood, emptied them out in the university’s corridors and declared, ‘There is no difference between Jewish and Arab blood,’ likening Israeli soldiers to terrorists. The custom on campus was that we would quarrel, left-right, Arabs-Jews, and after that we would sit together, have a coffee and talk. But not Cassif.”

    According to Ohana, today a member of the Likud central committee, the right-wing activists knew that, “You could count on Ofer to fall into every trap. There was one event at the Hebrew University that was a kind of political Hyde Park. The right wanted to boot the left out of there, so we hung up the flag. It was obvious that Ofer would react, and in fact he tore the flag, and in the wake of the ruckus that developed, political activity was stopped for good.”

    Replacing the anthem

    Cassif voices clearly and cogently positions that challenge the public discourse in Israel, and does so with ardor and charisma. Four candidates vied for Hadash’s Jewish slot, and they all delivered speeches at the convention. The three candidates who lost to him – Efraim Davidi, Yaela Raanan and the head of the party’s Tel Aviv branch, Noa Levy – described their activity and their guiding principles. When they spoke, there was the regular buzz of an audience that’s waiting for lunch. But when Cassif took the stage, the effect was magnetic.

    “Peace will not be established without a correction of the crimes of the Nakba and [recognition of] the right of return,” he shouted, and the crowd cheered him. As one senior party figure put it, “Efraim talked about workers’ rights, Yaela about the Negev, Noa about activity in Tel Aviv – and Ofer was Ofer.”

    What do you mean by “right of return”?

    Cassif: “The first thing is the actual recognition of the Nakba and of the wrong done by Israel. Compare it to the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions in South Africa, if you like, or with the commissions in Chile after Pinochet. Israel must recognize the wrong it committed. Now, recognition of the wrong also includes recognition of the right of return. The question is how it’s implemented. It has to be done by agreement. I can’t say that tomorrow Tel Aviv University has to be dismantled and that Sheikh Munis [the Arab village on whose ruins the university stands] has to be rebuilt there. The possibility can be examined of giving compensation in place of return, for example.”

    But what is the just solution, in your opinion?

    “For the Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland.”

    That means there will be Jews who will have to leave their home.

    “In some places, unequivocally, yes. People will have to be told: ‘You must evacuate your places.’ The classic example is Ikrit and Biram [Christian-Arab villages in Galilee whose residents were promised – untruly – by the Israeli authorities in 1948 that they would be able to return, and whose lands were turned over to Jewish communities]. But there are places where there is certainly greater difficulty. You don’t right one wrong with another.”

    What about the public space in Israel? What should it look like?

    “The public space has to change, to belong to all the state’s residents. I dispute the conception of ‘Jewish publicness.’”

    How should that be realized?

    “For example, by changing the national symbols, changing the national anthem. [Former Hadash MK] Mohammed Barakeh once suggested ‘I Believe’ [‘Sahki, Sahki’] by [Shaul] Tchernichovsky – a poem that is not exactly an expression of Palestinian nationalism. He chose it because of the line, ‘For in mankind I’ll believe.’ What does it mean to believe in mankind? It’s not a Jew, or a Palestinian, or a Frenchman, or I don’t know what.”

    What’s the difference between you and the [Arab] Balad party? Both parties overall want two states – a state “of all its citizens” and a Palestinian state.

    “In the big picture, yes. But Balad puts identity first on the agenda. We are not nationalists. We do not espouse nationalism as a supreme value. For us, self-determination is a means. We are engaged in class politics. By the way, Balad [the National Democratic Assembly] and Ta’al [MK Ahmad Tibi’s Arab Movement for Renewal] took the idea of a state of all its citizens from us, from Hadash. We’ve been talking about it for ages.”

    If you were a Palestinian, what would you do today?

    “In Israel, what my Palestinian friends are doing, and I with them – [wage] a parliamentary and extra-parliamentary struggle.”

    And what about the Palestinians in the territories?

    “We have always been against harming innocent civilians. Always. In all our demonstrations, one of our leading slogans was: ‘In Gaza and in Sderot, children want to live.’ With all my criticism of the settlers, to enter a house and slaughter children, as in the case of the Fogel family [who were murdered in their beds in the settlement of Itamar in 2011], is intolerable. You have to be a human being and reject that.”

    And attacks on soldiers?

    “An attack on soldiers is not terrorism. Even Netanyahu, in his book about terrorism, explicitly categorizes attacks on soldiers or on the security forces as guerrilla warfare. It’s perfectly legitimate, according to every moral criterion – and, by the way, in international law. At the same time, I am not saying it’s something wonderful, joyful or desirable. The party’s Haifa office is on Ben-Gurion Street, and suddenly, after years, I noticed a memorial plaque there for a fighter in Lehi [pre-state underground militia, also known as the Stern Gang] who assassinated a British officer. Wherever there has been a struggle for liberation from oppression, there are national heroes, who in 90 percent of the cases carried out some operations that were unlawful. Nelson Mandela is today considered a hero, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, but according to the conventional definition, he was a terrorist. Most of the victims of the ANC [African National Congress] were civilians.”

    In other words, today’s Hamas commanders who are carrying out attacks on soldiers will be heroes of the future Palestinian state?

    “Of course.”

    Anti-Zionist identity

    Cassif terms himself an explicit anti-Zionist. “There are three reasons for that,” he says. “To begin with, Zionism is a colonialist movement, and as a socialist, I am against colonialism. Second, as far as I am concerned, Zionism is racist in ideology and in practice. I am not referring to the definition of race theory – even though there are also some who impute that to the Zionist movement – but to what I call Jewish supremacy. No socialist can accept that. My supreme value is equality, and I can’t abide any supremacy – Jewish or Arab. The third thing is that Zionism, like other ethno-nationalistic movements, splits the working class and all weakened groups. Instead of uniting them in a struggle for social justice, for equality, for democracy, it divides the exploited classes and the enfeebled groups, and by that means strengthens the rule of capital.”

    He continues, “Zionism also sustains anti-Semitism. I don’t say it does so deliberately – even though I have no doubt that there are some who do it deliberately, like Netanyahu, who is connected to people like the prime minister of Hungary, Viktor Orban, and the leader of the far right in Austria, Hans Christian Strache.”

    Did Mapai-style Zionism also encourage anti-Semitism?

    “The phenomenon was very striking in Mapai. Think about it for a minute, not only historically, but logically. If the goal of political and practical Zionism is really the establishment of a Jewish state containing a Jewish majority, and for Diaspora Jewry to settle there, nothing serves them better than anti-Semitism.”

    What in their actions encouraged anti-Semitism?

    “The very appeal to Jews throughout the world – the very fact of treating them as belonging to the same nation, when they were living among other nations. The whole old ‘dual loyalty’ story – Zionism actually encouraged that. Therefore, I maintain that anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism are not the same thing, but are precisely opposites. That doesn’t mean, of course, that there are no anti-Zionists who are also anti-Semites. Most of the BDS people are of course anti-Zionists, but they are in no way anti-Semites. But there are anti-Semites there, too.”

    Do you support BDS?

    “It’s too complex a subject for a yes or no answer; there are aspects I don’t support.”

    Do you think that the Jews deserve a national home in the Land of Israel?

    “I don’t know what you mean by ‘national home.’ It’s very amorphous. We in Hadash say explicitly that Israel has a right to exist as a sovereign state. Our struggle is not against the state’s existence, but over its character.”

    But that state is the product of the actions of the Zionist movement, which you say has been colonialist and criminal from day one.

    “That’s true, but the circumstances have changed. That’s the reason that the majority of the members of the Communist Party accepted the [1947] partition agreement at the time. They recognized that the circumstances had changed. I think that one of the traits that sets communist thought apart, and makes it more apt, is the understanding and the attempt to strike the proper balance between what should be, and reality. So it’s true that Zionism started as colonialism, but what do you do with the people who were already born here? What do you tell them? Because your grandparents committed a crime, you have to leave? The question is how you transform the situation that’s been created into one that’s just, democratic and equal.”

    So, a person who survived a death camp and came here is a criminal?

    “The individual person, of course not. I’m in favor of taking in refugees in distress, no matter who or what they are. I am against Zionism’s cynical use of Jews in distress, including the refugees from the Holocaust. I have a problem with the fact that the natives whose homeland this is cannot return, while people for whom it’s not their homeland, can, because they supposedly have some sort of blood tie and an ‘imaginary friend’ promised them the land.”

    I understand that you are in favor of the annulment of the Law of Return?

    “Yes. Definitely.”

    But you are in favor of the Palestinian right of return.

    “There’s no comparison. There’s no symmetry here at all. Jerry Seinfeld was by chance born to a Jewish family. What’s his connection to this place? Why should he have preference over a refugee from Sabra or Chatila, or Edward Said, who did well in the United States? They are the true refugees. This is their homeland. Not Seinfeld’s.”

    Are you critical of the Arabs, too?

    “Certainly. One criticism is of their cooperation with imperialism – take the case of today’s Saudi Arabia, Qatar and so on. Another, from the past, relates to the reactionary forces that did not accept that the Jews have a right to live here.”

    Hadash refrained from criticizing the Assad regime even as it was massacring civilians in Syria. The party even torpedoed a condemnation of Assad after the chemical attack. Do you identify with that approach?

    “Hadash was critical of the Assad regime – father and son – for years, so we can’t be accused in any way of supporting Assad or Hezbollah. We are not Ba’ath, we are not Islamists. We are communists. But as I said earlier, the struggle, unfortunately, is generally not between the ideal and what exists in practice, but many times between two evils. And then you have to ask yourself which is the lesser evil. The Syrian constellation is extremely complicated. On the one hand, there is the United States, which is intervening, and despite all the pretense of being against ISIS, supported ISIS and made it possible for ISIS to sprout.

    "I remind you that ISIS started from the occupation of Iraq. And ideologically and practically, ISIS is definitely a thousand times worse than the Assad regime, which is at base also a secular regime. Our position was and is against the countries that pose the greatest danger to regional peace, which above all are Qatar and Saudi Arabia, and the United States, which supports them. That doesn’t mean that we support Assad.”

    Wrong language

    Cassif’s economic views are almost as far from the consensus as his political ideas. He lives modestly in an apartment that’s furnished like a young couple’s first home. You won’t find an espresso maker or unnecessary products of convenience in his place. To his credit, it can be said that he extracts the maximum from Elite instant coffee.

    What is your utopian vision – to nationalize Israel’s conglomerates, such as Cellcom, the telecommunications company, or Osem, the food manufacturer and distributor?

    “The bottom line is yes. How exactly will it be done? That’s an excellent question, which I can’t answer. Perhaps by transferring ownership to the state or to the workers, with democratic tools. And there are other alternatives. But certainly, I would like it if a large part of the resources were not in private hands, as was the case before the big privatizations. It’s true that it won’t be socialism, because, again, there can be no such thing as Zionist socialism, but there won’t be privatization like we have today. What is the result of capitalism in Israel? The collapse of the health system, the absence of a social-welfare system, a high cost of living and of housing, the elderly and the disabled in a terrible situation.”

    Does any private sector have the right to exist?

    “Look, the question is what you mean by ‘private sector.’ If we’re talking about huge concerns that the owners of capital control completely through their wealth, then no.”

    What growth was there in the communist countries? How can anyone support communism, in light of the grim experience wherever it was tried?

    “It’s true, we know that in the absolute majority of societies where an attempt was made to implement socialism, there was no growth or prosperity, and we need to ask ourselves why, and how to avoid that. When I talk about communism, I’m not talking about Stalin and all the crimes that were committed in the name of the communist idea. Communism is not North Korea and it is not Pol Pot in Cambodia. Heaven forbid.”

    And what about Venezuela?

    “Venezuela is not communism. In fact, they didn’t go far enough in the direction of socialism.”

    Chavez was not enough of a socialist?

    “Chavez, but in particular Maduro. The Communist Party is critical of the regime. They support it because the main enemy is truly American imperialism and its handmaidens. Let’s look at what the U.S. did over the years. At how many times it invaded and employed bullying, fascist forces. Not only in Latin America, its backyard, but everywhere.”

    Venezuela is falling apart, people there don’t have anything to eat, there’s no medicine, everyone who can flees – and it’s the fault of the United States?

    “You can’t deny that the regime has made mistakes. It’s not ideal. But basically, it is the result of American imperialism and its lackeys. After all, the masses voted for Chavez and for Maduro not because things were good for them. But because American corporations stole the country’s resources and filled their own pockets. I wouldn’t make Chavez into an icon, but he did some excellent things.”

    Then how do you generate individual wealth within the method you’re proposing? I understand that I am now talking to you capitalistically, but the reality is that people see the accumulation of assets as an expression of progress in life.

    “Your question is indeed framed in capitalist language, which simply departs from what I believe in. Because you are actually asking me how the distribution of resources is supposed to occur within the capitalist framework. And I say no, I am not talking about resource distribution within a capitalist framework.”

    Gantz vs. Netanyahu

    Cassif was chosen as the polls showed Meretz and Labor, the representatives of the Zionist left, barely scraping through into the next Knesset and in fact facing a serious possibility of electoral extinction. The critique of both parties from the radical left is sometimes more acerbic than from the right.

    Would you like to see the Labor Party disappear?

    “No. I think that what’s happening at the moment with Labor and with Meretz is extremely dangerous. I speak about them as collectives, because they contain individuals with whom I see no possibility of engaging in a dialogue. But I think that they absolutely must be in the Knesset.”

    Is a left-winger who defines himself as a Zionist your partner in any way?

    “Yes. We need partners. We can’t be picky. Certainly we will cooperate with liberals and Zionists on such issues as combating violence against women or the battle to rescue the health system. Maybe even in putting an end to the occupation.”

    I’ll put a scenario to you: Benny Gantz does really well in the election and somehow overcomes Netanyahu. Do you support the person who led Operation Protective Edge in Gaza when he was chief of staff?

    “Heaven forbid. But we don’t reject people, we reject policy. I remind you that it was [then-defense minister] Yitzhak Rabin who led the most violent tendency in the first intifada, with his ‘Break their bones.’ But when he came to the Oslo Accords, it was Hadash and the Arab parties that gave him, from outside the coalition, an insurmountable bloc. I can’t speak for the party, but if there is ever a government whose policy is one that we agree with – eliminating the occupation, combating racism, abolishing the nation-state law – I believe we will give our support in one way or another.”

    And if Gantz doesn’t declare his intention to eliminate the occupation, he isn’t preferable to Netanyahu in any case?

    “If so, why should we recommend him [to the president to form the next government]? After the clips he posted boasting about how many people he killed and how he hurled Gaza back into the Stone Age, I’m far from certain that he’s better.”

    #Hadash

    • traduction d’un extrait [ d’actualité ]

      Le candidat à la Knesset dit que le sionisme encourage l’antisémitisme et qualifie Netanyahu de « meurtrier »
      Peu d’Israéliens ont entendu parler de M. Ofer Cassif, représentant juif de la liste de la Knesset du parti d’extrême gauche Hadash. Le 9 avril, cela changera.
      Par Ravit Hecht 16 février 2019 – Haaretz

      (…) Identité antisioniste
      Cassif se dit un antisioniste explicite. « Il y a trois raisons à cela », dit-il. « Pour commencer, le sionisme est un mouvement colonialiste et, en tant que socialiste, je suis contre le colonialisme. Deuxièmement, en ce qui me concerne, le sionisme est raciste d’idéologie et de pratique. Je ne fais pas référence à la définition de la théorie de la race - même si certains l’imputent également au mouvement sioniste - mais à ce que j’appelle la suprématie juive. Aucun socialiste ne peut accepter cela. Ma valeur suprême est l’égalité et je ne peux supporter aucune suprématie - juive ou arabe. La troisième chose est que le sionisme, comme d’autres mouvements ethno-nationalistes, divise la classe ouvrière et tous les groupes sont affaiblis. Au lieu de les unir dans une lutte pour la justice sociale, l’égalité, la démocratie, il divise les classes exploitées et affaiblit les groupes, renforçant ainsi le pouvoir du capital. "
      Il poursuit : « Le sionisme soutient également l’antisémitisme. Je ne dis pas qu’il le fait délibérément - même si je ne doute pas qu’il y en a qui le font délibérément, comme Netanyahu, qui est connecté à des gens comme le Premier ministre de la Hongrie, Viktor Orban, et le chef de l’extrême droite. en Autriche, Hans Christian Strache. ”

      Le sionisme type-Mapaï a-t-il également encouragé l’antisémitisme ?
      « Le phénomène était très frappant au Mapai. Pensez-y une minute, non seulement historiquement, mais logiquement. Si l’objectif du sionisme politique et pratique est en réalité de créer un État juif contenant une majorité juive et de permettre à la communauté juive de la diaspora de s’y installer, rien ne leur sert mieux que l’antisémitisme. "

      Qu’est-ce qui, dans leurs actions, a encouragé l’antisémitisme ?
      « L’appel même aux Juifs du monde entier - le fait même de les traiter comme appartenant à la même nation, alors qu’ils vivaient parmi d’autres nations. Toute la vieille histoire de « double loyauté » - le sionisme a en fait encouragé cela. Par conséquent, j’affirme que l’antisémitisme et l’antisionisme ne sont pas la même chose, mais sont précisément des contraires. Bien entendu, cela ne signifie pas qu’il n’y ait pas d’antisionistes qui soient aussi antisémites. La plupart des membres du BDS sont bien sûr antisionistes, mais ils ne sont en aucun cas antisémites. Mais il y a aussi des antisémites.

  • Socialism and Freedom: Karl Polanyi’s Early Writings - Los Angeles Review of Books
    https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/socialism-and-freedom-karl-polanyis-early-writings

    SOCIALISM IS BACK — a phoenix rising from the ashes, or a vampire emerging from the crypt, depending on who you ask. So real is the threat that the White House’s Council of Economic Advisors recently devoted their considerable resources to writing a report, “The Opportunity Costs of Socialism,” warning of the dangers of a socialist system, one in which the state spends other people’s money. Adding to the sense of déjà vu, much of the report concerns itself, not with the policy proposals of Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders, but with the disastrous collectivization of agriculture under Lenin, Stalin, and Mao.

  • Juan Guaidó: Sentencia de la Sala Constitucional es una aberración jurídica
    http://www.el-nacional.com/noticias/politica/juan-guaido-sentencia-sala-constitucional-una-aberracion-juridica_26743


    Juan Guaidó reiteró que el Parlamento es “la única institución legítima elegida por el pueblo”
    Archivo

    El presidente de la Asamblea Nacional, Juan Guaidó, aseguró que la sentencia de la Sala Constitucional del Tribunal Supremo de Justicia, que declara nulos los actos de la actual junta directiva, es una “aberración jurídica” y “políticamente absurda”.

    En una rueda de prensa, Guaidó rechazó las medidas de “los magistrados exprés” del TSJ y reiteró que el Parlamento es “la única institución legítima elegida por el pueblo, reconocida así por la expresión masiva de los ciudadanos en los cabildos abiertos y por la comunidad internacional”.

    Sostuvo que la AN “se mantiene muy firme con las decisiones tomadas”, que implican declarar usurpador a Nicolás Maduro, decretar amnistía y garantías constitucionales para los civiles y militares que ayuden a restituir el orden constitucional, y autorizar el ingreso de la ayuda humanitaria.

    Alegó que “la respuesta de un régimen” a los cabildos y la protesta dentro de la Fuerza Armada Nacional Bolivariana fue la persecución y declarar inconstitucional, el perdón”, por lo que les pidió a “los magistrados exprés que se sumen a la Constitución que protege, porque Nicolás Maduro no protege a nadie”.
    […]

    [Stalin González, segundo vicepresidente de la AN] señaló que hasta la fecha los parlamentarios han celebrado más de 328 cabildos abiertos en todo el país. “Para lograr el cambio es inevitable el reencuentro de los venezolanos. Mañana 23 de enero cada uno de nosotros debe ser parte de esta nueva página de la historia que estamos escribiendo; es una fecha para reencontrarnos y llenar todas las calles del país”, dijo.

    #cabildo_abierto plus ou moins assemblée populaire
    https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cabildo_ouvert

    • La tension monte avant la grande manifestation de demain, 23 janvier, date anniversaire du départ en 1958 de Marcos Pérez Jiménez en 1958 après une série de manifestations.

      En différents endroits, les colectivos, groupes de soutien à la Révolution bolivarienne, transformés de fait depuis pas mal de temps en milice progouvernementale tire sur des réunions ou manifestants.

  • The Kaiser goes : the generals remain - Theodor Plivier
    https://libcom.org/history/kaiser-goes-generals-remain-theodor-plivier-1932

    Text entier en anglais : https://libcom.org/files/TheKaiserGoesTheGeneralsRemain.pdf https://libcom.org/files/TheKaiserGoesTheGeneralsRemain.mobi

    Du même auteur : Stalingrad (1945), Moskau (1952), Berlin (1954), une trilogie sur la guerre contre les nazis. Je n’ai pas encore trouvé de version en ligne.

    This is an amazing novel about the German Revolution, written by a participant. Republished here in PDF and Kindle formats.

    I’m republishing a novel about the German Revolution called The Kaiser Goes: the Generals Remain, written by a participant in the naval mutinies which kicked the whole thing off. But the novel doesn’t just concern rebellion in the armed forces, there’s all kinds of other exciting events covered too!

    I first became aware of the novel when I noticed some quotations from it in Working Class Politics in the German Revolution1, Ralf Hoffrogge’s wonderful book about the revolutionary shop stewards’ movement in Germany during and just after World War I.

    I set about finding a copy of The Kaiser goes..., read it, and immediately wanted to make it more widely available by scanning it. The results are here.

    Below I’ve gathered together all the most readily accessible information about the novel’s author, Theodor Plivier, that I can find. Hopefully, the sources referenced will provide a useful basis for anybody who wants to do further research.

    Dan Radnika

    October 2015

    THEODOR Otto Richard PLIVIER – Some biographical details

    Theodor Plivier (called Plievier after 1933) was born on 12 February 1892 in Berlin and died on 12 March 1955 in Tessin, Switzerland.

    Since his death Plivier/Plievier has been mostly known in his native Germany as a novelist, particularly for his trilogy of novels about the fighting on the Eastern Front in WWII, made up of the works Moscow, Stalingrad and Berlin.

    He was the son of an artisan file-maker (Feilenhauer in German) and spent his childhood in the Gesundbrunnen district in Berlin. There is still a plaque dedicated to him on the house where he was born at 29 Wiesenstraße. He was interested in literature from an early age. He began an apprenticeship at 17 with a plasterer and left his family home shortly after. For his apprenticeship he traveled across the German Empire, in Austria-Hungary and in the Netherlands. After briefly returning to his parents, he joined up as a sailor in the merchant navy. He first visited South America in 1910, and worked in the sodium nitrate (saltpetre) mines in 1913 in Chile. This period of his life seems to have provided much of the material for the novel The World’s Last Corner (see below).

    He returned to Germany, Hamburg, in 1914, when he was still only 22. He was arrested by the police for a brawl in a sailors’ pub, and was thus “recruited” into the imperial navy just as the First World War broke out. He spent his time in service on the auxiliary cruiser SMS Wolf, commanded by the famous Commander Karl August Nerger. It was he who led a victorious war of patriotic piracy in the Atlantic, the Indian Ocean and the Pacific, seizing enemy ships and their cargo, taking their crews prisoner, and returning in glory to Kiel in February 1918. The activities of SMS Wolf are described in fictional form in the final chapter of Plivier’s The Kaiser’s Coolies (see below). The young Plivier didn’t set foot on land for 451 days, but while at sea he became converted to revolutionary ideas, like thousands of other German sailors. Nevertheless, he never joined a political party. In November 1918, he was in Wilhelmshaven and participated in the strikes, uprisings and revolts accompanying the fall of the German Empire, including the Kiel Mutiny. He also played a small role in the November Revolution in Berlin.

    He left the navy after the armistice (11 November 1918) and, with Karl Raichle and Gregor Gog (both sailor veterans of the Wilmhelmshaven revolt), founded the “Green Way Commune”, near Bad Urach. It was a sort of commune of revolutionaries, artists, poets, proto-hippies, and whoever turned up. Two early participants were the anarchist Erich Mühsam and Johannes Becher (see below), who was a member of the German Communist Party (KPD). At this time several communes were set up around Germany, with Urach being one of three vegetarian communes set up in the Swabia region2.

    It was the beginning of the anarchist-oriented “Edition of the 12” publishing house. Plivier was certainly influenced by the ideas of Bakunin, but also Nietzsche. Later he took on some kind of “individualist anarchism”, ensuring that he didn’t join any party or formal political organisation.

    In Berlin in 1920 he married the actress Maria Stoz3. He belonged to the circle of friends of Käthe Kollwitz4, the radical painter and sculptor, who painted his portrait. On Christmas Day 1920 he showed a delegation from the American IWW to the grave of Karl Liebknecht5. In the early ‘20s he seems to have associated with the anarcho-syndicalist union, the FAUD (Free Workers’ Union of Germany), and addressed its public meetings6.

    Plivier underwent a “personal crisis” and began to follow the example of the “back to nature” poet Gusto Gräser7, another regular resident of “Green Way” and a man seen as the leading figure in the subculture of poets and wandering mystics known (disparagingly at the time) as the “Inflation Saints” (Inflationsheilige)8. In the words of the historian Ulrich Linse, “When the revolutionaries were killed, were in prison or had given up, the hour of the wandering prophets came. As the outer revolution had fizzled out, they found its continuation in the consciousness-being-revolution, in a spiritual change”9. Plivier began wearing sandals and robes…10 According to the Mountain of Truth book (see footnote), in 1922, in Weimar, Plivier was preaching a neo-Tolstoyan gospel of peace and anarchism, much influenced by Gräser. That year he published Anarchy, advocating a “masterless order, built up out of the moral power of free individuals”. Supposedly, “he was a religious anarchist, frequently quoting from the Bible”11. This was not unusual amongst the Inflationsheilige.

    His son Peter and his daughter Thora died from malnutrition during the terrible times of crisis and hyper-inflation in 1923. A year later he began to find work as a journalist and translator. He then worked for some time in South America as a cattle trader and as secretary to the German consul in Pisagua, Chile. On his return to Germany he wrote Des Kaisers Kulis (“The Kaiser’s Coolies”) in 1929, which was published the following year. It was a story based on his days in the Imperial Navy, denouncing the imperialist war in no uncertain terms. At the front of the book is a dedication to two sailors who were executed for participation in a strike and demonstration by hundreds of sailors from the Prinzregent Luitpold12. Erwin Piscator put on a play of his novel at the Lessingtheater in Berlin, with the first showing on 30 August 1930. Der Kaiser ging, die Generälen blieben (“The Kaiser Goes: The Generals Remain”) was published in 1932. In both novels Plivier did an enormous amount of research, as well as drawing on his own memories of important historical events. In the original edition of Der Kaiser ging… there is a citations section at the end with fifty book titles and a list of newspapers and magazines consulted. This attention to historical fact was to become a hallmark of Plivier’s method as a novelist. The postscript to Der Kaiser ging… clearly states what he was trying to do:

    “I have cast this history in the form of a novel, because it is my belief that events which are brought about not by any exchange of diplomatic notes, but by the sudden collision of opposed forces, do not lend themselves to a purely scientific treatment. By that method one can merely assemble a selection of facts belonging to any particular period – only artistic re-fashioning can yield a living picture of the whole. As in my former book, The Kaiser’s Coolies, so I have tried here to preserve strict historic truth, and in so far as exact material was available I have used it as the basis of my work. All the events described, all the persons introduced, are drawn to the life and their words reproduced verbatim. Occasional statements which the sources preserve only in indirect speech are here given direct form. But in no instance has the sense been altered.”

    His second marriage (which didn’t produce any children) was to the Jewish actress Hildegard Piscator in 1931. When Hitler came to power as Chancellor in 1933, his books were banned and publically burnt. He changed his name to Plievier. That year he decided to emigrate, and at the end of a long journey which led him to Prague, Zurich, Paris and Oslo, he ended up in the Soviet Union.

    He was initially not subject to much censorship in Moscow and published accounts of his adventures and political commentaries. When Operation Barbarossa was launched he was evacuated to Tashkent along with other foreigners. Here, for example, he met up (again?) with Johannes Robert Becher, the future Culture Minister of the DDR! In September 1943 he became a member of the National Committee for a Free Germany (NKFD), which gathered anti-Nazi German exiles living in the USSR – not just Communist Party members, although there were a fair number of them involved. In 1945 he wrote Stalingrad, based on testimonies which he collected, with official permission, from German prisoners of war in camps around Moscow. This novel was initially published in occupied Berlin and Mexico, but ended up being translated into 14 languages and being adapted for the theatre and TV13. It describes in unflinching and pitiless detail the German military defeat and its roots in the megalomania of Hitler and the incompetence of the High Command. It is the only novel by Plievier that was written specifically as a work of state propaganda. It is certainly “defeatist”, but only on the German side – it is certainly not “revolutionary defeatist” like Plievier’s writings about WWI. The French writer Pierre Vaydat (in the French-language magazine of German culture, Germanica14) even suggests that it was clearly aimed at “the new military class which was the officer corps of the Wehrmacht” in an effort to encourage them to rise up against Hitler and save the honour of the German military. The novel nevertheless only appeared in a censored form in the USSR.

    He returned to Weimar at the end of 1945, as an official of the Red Army! For two years he worked as a delegate of the regional assembly, as director of publications and had a leading position in the “Cultural Association [Kulturbund] for German Democratic Renewal” which was a Soviet organisation devoted to changing attitudes in Germany and preparing its inclusion into the USSR’s economic and political empire. As with so much else in Plievier’s life, this episode was partly fictionalised in a novel, in this case his last ever novel, Berlin.

    Plievier ended up breaking with the Soviet system in 1948, and made an announcement to this effect to a gathering of German writers in Frankfurt in May of that year15. However, Plievier had taken a long and tortuous political path since his days as a revolutionary sailor in 1918… He clearly ended up supporting the Cold War – seeing the struggle against “Communist” totalitarianism as a continuation of the struggle against fascism (logically enough). What’s more, his views had taken on a somewhat religious tinge, talking of a “spiritual rebirth” whose foundations “begin with the Ten Commandments from Mount Sinai and end with the theses of the Atlantic Charter”! Although it can be read as a denunciation of the horrors of war in general, it’s clear that Berlin, his description of the collapse of Nazi Germany in 1945, is far more of a denunciation of Soviet Russia than anything else. The character Colonel Zecke, obviously a mouthpiece for Plievier’s views, even claims that Churchill and Roosevelt only bombed Dresden because they wanted to please Stalin. If you say so, Theo…! One virtue of Plievier’s single-minded attack on the Russian side is that he draws attention to the mass rape of German women by Russian soldiers. This was a war crime which it was not at all fashionable to mention at the time he was writing, despite the existence of perhaps as many as two million victims16.

    Berlin ends with one of the recurring characters in Plievier’s war novels being killed while participating in the East German worker’s revolt in 195317. Despite his conservative turn, Plievier obviously still has some of the spirit of Wilhelmshaven and can’t restrain himself from giving the rebellious workers some advice about how to organise a proletarian insurrection – seize the means of production! Another character says:

    “What use was it raising one’s fists against tanks, fighting with the Vopos [Volkspolizei – People’s Police], trampling down propaganda posters – one has to get into the vital works, to get busy at the waterworks, the power stations, the metropolitan railway! But the workers are without organisation, without leadership or a plan –the revolt has broken out like a steppes fire and is flickering away uncoordinated, in all directions at once.”

    He went to live in the British Zone of Occupation. He got married for a third time, in 1950, to Margarete Grote, and went to live next to Lake Constance. He published Moscow (Moskau) in 1952 and Berlin in 1954. He moved to Tessin in Switzerland in 1953, and died from a heart attack there in 1955, at the age of 63.

    His works – particularly the pro-revolutionary ones – are almost unknown in the English-speaking world (or anywhere else) today. The republication of The Kaiser Goes: The Generals Remain in electronic form is a modest attempt to remedy this!

    Finally, please read Plivier’s novels! Even the reactionary ones…

    #Allemagne #histoire #révolution #littérature

  • Communisme, Stalinisme, Socialisme, Fascisme, Collectivisme, Anarchisme

    Une fois n’est pas coûtume, je vais reproduire l’essentiel d’un débat qui s’est déroulé sur l’excellente liste de diffusion de géographie critique (dite liste des « crits »).

    From Dr Hillary J. Shaw
    Visiting Fellow - Centre for Urban Research on Austerity
    Department of Politics and Public Policy
    De Montfort University

    The problem with books is once you read them you can’t un-read them.

    European politics and history in the 20 C starts to look a little different once you read Hayek, F A (1971) The Road To Serfdom, Routledge, London UK From the first few pages of this book, "...Stalinism was described even by a friend of Lenin as ‘superfascist’, ‘more ruthless than fascism’, with similar opinions being expressed by British politician Chamberlain, and by British writer Mr F A Vogt (Hayek, 1971: 20-1). The vicious fighting in 1920s Europe between Fascists and Communists was precisely because ‘they competed for the support of the same type of mind and reserved for each other the hatred of the heretic’ (Hayek, 1971: 22). One thing that all Collectivists share is intolerance for any dissenting, therefore threatening, opinions, rather like the strong religious factions of 16 century Europe..."

    Communism - http://fooddeserts.org/images/000Russia.htm
    WW2 - http://fooddeserts.org/images/050FraGermany.htm

    Un certain Reed (pas d’autres infos) répond :

    One thing that all Collectivists share is intolerance for any dissenting, therefore threatening, opinions... Then, One thing that all vulgar individualists share is a perfectly immoral disregard for mutual obligations... I’d say capitalism — marked as it is by market imperatives rather than opportunities — `is “collectivist” in the extreme, which is probably related to its tendency to decay into fascism.

    I also find it interesting that the anti-fascism of partisans is, in your formulation, pitched as a Bad Thing. Meanwhile, the inertia (or complicity) of liberals goes unmentioned.

    But, sure, the uses of Hayek are endless, as every anti-democratic and reactionary movement in the U.S. has thoroughly demonstrated, especially the anarcho-capitalist types who (surprise!) fly their black and yellow flags at the same rallies where the Klansmen and neo-nazis gather to cheerlead genocide.

    Hillary J. Shaw again en réponse :

    1) yes, capitalism, especially when globalised, can easily become ’Collectivist’, Totalitarian, even., Renarkably, even Adam Smith, way back in 1755, spoke of this tendency. And look now at the oligopolies we have in e.g. supermarkets, banking.

    2) Collectivism, generally, DOES demand uniformity of opinion - that’s almost a circular tautology. Can you give any major examples where it hasn’t - I’d love to know. And it was Hayek who used the term ’Collectivist’ for both Stalinism and 1940s fascism, by the way, not me.

    3) I said nothing about anti-fascism of partisans here, such ’partisans’ are often Communist in ideology, but may be ’anarchist’ leaning (although anarchism has often evolved into a very Collectivist socialism, ironically). As fighters against Naziism in the 1940s, they wree a great thing, as was anything that helped end Hitler’s tyranny and WW2.

    4) On this Hayekian analysis, the Klansmen, as neo-nazis, would be portrayed as Collectivist too - so if you percieve me as anti-Collectivist 9and I am no admirer of Stalin), then I must be (and indeed am) anti Klansmen too.

    Yes Hayek can be ’used for many things’ - but doesn’t that apply to almost all significant researchers, academics, in the social sciences and indeed beyond? Including for sure Marx, and probably Aadam Smith too. Does that mean we should ditch them, and the rest of these thinkers too?

    Noel Cass, de l’université de Lancaster :

    “anarchism has often evolved into a very Collectivist socialism, ironically”

    – just, no, Hilary.

    After socialist revolutions, anarchism has been crushed by authoritarian socialists. Please desist from sweeping political generalisations that just get up people’s noses.

    Hillary J. Shaw répond :

    Well yes and no. Only Wikipedia but seems to be broadly correct here

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anarchism

    While opposition to the state is central,[16] anarchism specifically entails opposing authority or hierarchical organisation in the conduct of all human relations.[17][18][19] Anarchism is usually considered a far-left ideology[20][21][22] and much of anarchist economics and anarchist legal philosophy reflects anti-authoritarian interpretations of communism, collectivism, syndicalism, mutualism, or participatory economics.

    However....
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anarchism#Spanish_Revolution

    In response to the army rebellion, an anarchist-inspired movement of peasants and workers, supported by armed militias, took control of Barcelona and of large areas of rural Spain where they collectivised the land.[128] However, the anarchists were losing ground even before the fascist victory in 1939 in a bitter struggle with the Stalinists, who controlled much of the distribution of military aid to the Republicans cause from the Soviet Union. According to Noam Chomsky, "the communists were mainly responsible for the destruction of the Spanish anarchists. Not just in Catalonia—the communist armies mainly destroyed the collectives elsewhere. The communists basically acted as the police force of the security system of the Republic and were very much opposed to the anarchists, partially because Stalin still hoped at that time to have some kind of pact with Western countries against Adolf Hitler

    My point in the whole of this is that the Left is a very complex concept that can range from being as totalitarian as some fascist regimes (e.g in the case of Stalin) right through to more idealistic schemes that promote individual flourishing (e.g. some anarchists) - however those who create the latter such schemes, however well-meaning, must beware they do not lapse/evolve into/get taken over by the more collectivist / dictatorial ones.

    Antony Ince, géographe de l’université de Cardiff :

    First of all, Hillary, you are very nearly correct when you point out the Spanish Civil War. There was a faction among the anarchists who believed that it would be strategically useful to participate in the Republican government in order to enhance their influence, especially in the anti-fascist regions where they were less powerful.

    However, this did not necessarily involve a change of ideology; it was an effort - a flawed one, admittedly, spurred on by concerns of war - to instrumentally use state institutions to further the anarchist cause. As it happened, it didn’t end well.

    Second, I would like to emphasise that “collectivism” is not a singular term and is not owned by totalitarianisms such as Stalinism et al. To begin, fascism’s conception of collectivism is one of national unity, a cross-class alliance in the supposed interest of national ’renewal’ or ’renaissance’ that is only collective in the sense that a powerful central state is in control of the polity, and which often features some very crude forms of nationalisation. Soviet collectivism operates functionally in a similar way (as predicted by the anarchists long before 1917!), although its goal is oriented towards the elimination of class relations.

    Of course, in practice, it simply created a new class structure by occupying the same state institutions and relations of production as the old order and failing to eliminate capital when it had the chance.

    With regards to anarchism and collectivism, the story is different again. Aside from some streams of exclusively individualist anarchism influenced by the likes of Max Stirner, anarchism is more accurately described as “anarchist-communism”. It is a left-libertarian form of collectivism that seeks to respect individual agency while also promoting the virtues of co-operation (sometimes referred to as ’free association’).

    There are many examples of this, such as the regions controlled by the CNT in civil war Spain, the vast regions of Ukraine voluntarily collectivised along anarchist lines by the Makhnovists during the Russian revolution, and more recently the principles on which the Rojava region in Syria is managed. (Of course, there are the Zapatistas too, but interestingly it turns out that their form of agrarian anarchism emerged from libertarian Marxist ideas in the early 1980s). Anyway, for the most part, anarchist experiments have tended to end not by a drift towards authoritarianism but by annihilation at the hands of authoritarians.

    In Spain, of course the fascists were largely to blame, but also the USSR-backed Communist Party saw the anarchists as a greater threat to their prospects than Franco; for the Makhnovists, it was Trotsky’s Red Armies who ended their voluntary collectivism in the Ukrainian countryside. In Rojava, if their Bookchin-inspired libertarian municipalism doesn’t survive (which I sincerely hope it does!), it is likely to be at the hands of the proto-fascist Turkish state.

    So, let’s be a little more nuanced with the notion of ’collectivism’, what it means, and what values and organisational logics it embodies. There are multiple collectivisms, and they operate along as much an axis of authoritarian-libertarian as left-right.

    Noel Cass dans un dernier élan :

    I was tempted to shout “Remember Kronstadt!”, lob a grenade, and duck !!

  • In the Age of A.I., Is Seeing Still Believing ? | The New Yorker
    https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/11/12/in-the-age-of-ai-is-seeing-still-believing

    In a media environment saturated with fake news, such technology has disturbing implications. Last fall, an anonymous Redditor with the username Deepfakes released a software tool kit that allows anyone to make synthetic videos in which a neural network substitutes one person’s face for another’s, while keeping their expressions consistent. Along with the kit, the user posted pornographic videos, now known as “deepfakes,” that appear to feature various Hollywood actresses. (The software is complex but comprehensible: “Let’s say for example we’re perving on some innocent girl named Jessica,” one tutorial reads. “The folders you create would be: ‘jessica; jessica_faces; porn; porn_faces; model; output.’ ”) Around the same time, “Synthesizing Obama,” a paper published by a research group at the University of Washington, showed that a neural network could create believable videos in which the former President appeared to be saying words that were really spoken by someone else. In a video voiced by Jordan Peele, Obama seems to say that “President Trump is a total and complete dipshit,” and warns that “how we move forward in the age of information” will determine “whether we become some kind of fucked-up dystopia.”

    “People have been doing synthesis for a long time, with different tools,” he said. He rattled off various milestones in the history of image manipulation: the transposition, in a famous photograph from the eighteen-sixties, of Abraham Lincoln’s head onto the body of the slavery advocate John C. Calhoun; the mass alteration of photographs in Stalin’s Russia, designed to purge his enemies from the history books; the convenient realignment of the pyramids on the cover of National Geographic, in 1982; the composite photograph of John Kerry and Jane Fonda standing together at an anti-Vietnam demonstration, which incensed many voters after the Times credulously reprinted it, in 2004, above a story about Kerry’s antiwar activities.

    “In the past, anybody could buy Photoshop. But to really use it well you had to be highly skilled,” Farid said. “Now the technology is democratizing.” It used to be safe to assume that ordinary people were incapable of complex image manipulations. Farid recalled a case—a bitter divorce—in which a wife had presented the court with a video of her husband at a café table, his hand reaching out to caress another woman’s. The husband insisted it was fake. “I noticed that there was a reflection of his hand in the surface of the table,” Farid said, “and getting the geometry exactly right would’ve been really hard.” Now convincing synthetic images and videos were becoming easier to make.

    The acceleration of home computing has converged with another trend: the mass uploading of photographs and videos to the Web. Later, when I sat down with Efros in his office, he explained that, even in the early two-thousands, computer graphics had been “data-starved”: although 3-D modellers were capable of creating photorealistic scenes, their cities, interiors, and mountainscapes felt empty and lifeless. True realism, Efros said, requires “data, data, data” about “the gunk, the dirt, the complexity of the world,” which is best gathered by accident, through the recording of ordinary life.

    Today, researchers have access to systems like ImageNet, a site run by computer scientists at Stanford and Princeton which brings together fourteen million photographs of ordinary places and objects, most of them casual snapshots posted to Flickr, eBay, and other Web sites. Initially, these images were sorted into categories (carrousels, subwoofers, paper clips, parking meters, chests of drawers) by tens of thousands of workers hired through Amazon Mechanical Turk. Then, in 2012, researchers at the University of Toronto succeeded in building neural networks capable of categorizing ImageNet’s images automatically; their dramatic success helped set off today’s neural-networking boom. In recent years, YouTube has become an unofficial ImageNet for video. Efros’s lab has overcome the site’s “platform bias”—its preference for cats and pop stars—by developing a neural network that mines, from “life style” videos such as “My Spring Morning Routine” and “My Rustic, Cozy Living Room,” clips of people opening packages, peering into fridges, drying off with towels, brushing their teeth. This vast archive of the uninteresting has made a new level of synthetic realism possible.

    In 2016, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) launched a program in Media Forensics, or MediFor, focussed on the threat that synthetic media poses to national security. Matt Turek, the program’s manager, ticked off possible manipulations when we spoke: “Objects that are cut and pasted into images. The removal of objects from a scene. Faces that might be swapped. Audio that is inconsistent with the video. Images that appear to be taken at a certain time and place but weren’t.” He went on, “What I think we’ll see, in a couple of years, is the synthesis of events that didn’t happen. Multiple images and videos taken from different perspectives will be constructed in such a way that they look like they come from different cameras. It could be something nation-state driven, trying to sway political or military action. It could come from a small, low-resource group. Potentially, it could come from an individual.”

    As with today’s text-based fake news, the problem is double-edged. Having been deceived by a fake video, one begins to wonder whether many real videos are fake. Eventually, skepticism becomes a strategy in itself. In 2016, when the “Access Hollywood” tape surfaced, Donald Trump acknowledged its accuracy while dismissing his statements as “locker-room talk.” Now Trump suggests to associates that “we don’t think that was my voice.”

    “The larger danger is plausible deniability,” Farid told me. It’s here that the comparison with counterfeiting breaks down. No cashier opens up the register hoping to find counterfeit bills. In politics, however, it’s often in our interest not to believe what we are seeing.

    As alarming as synthetic media may be, it may be more alarming that we arrived at our current crises of misinformation—Russian election hacking; genocidal propaganda in Myanmar; instant-message-driven mob violence in India—without it. Social media was enough to do the job, by turning ordinary people into media manipulators who will say (or share) anything to win an argument. The main effect of synthetic media may be to close off an escape route from the social-media bubble. In 2014, video of the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner helped start the Black Lives Matter movement; footage of the football player Ray Rice assaulting his fiancée catalyzed a reckoning with domestic violence in the National Football League. It seemed as though video evidence, by turning us all into eyewitnesses, might provide a path out of polarization and toward reality. With the advent of synthetic media, all that changes. Body cameras may still capture what really happened, but the aesthetic of the body camera—its claim to authenticity—is also a vector for misinformation. “Eyewitness video” becomes an oxymoron. The path toward reality begins to wash away.

    #Fake_news #Image #Synthèse

  • Marseille : le mur de la honte

    Comme ultime réponse à la contestation populaire contre son projet piloté par la #Soleam, société d’aménagement, la mairie de Marseille monte un mur de béton entre les habitants et #La_Plaine, pour la « réaménager » par l’agence #APS. Marseille prend ainsi le visage du Mexique, de Belfast, de Gaza, ou de Berlin en 1961.


    https://blogs.mediapart.fr/671095/blog/301018/marseille-le-mur-de-la-honte
    #murs #Marseille #séparation #division #barrières #villes #urban_matter #France #ville_divisée #divided_cities #frontières #frontières_urbaines #murs_intra-urbains

    • Le mur du mépris - La Plaine 2018

      Berlin ? Belfast ? Mexique ? Gaza ? Non, aujourd’hui c’est à la Plaine que la mairie et les flics, main dans la main, ont décidé d’ériger un gigantesque mur de béton pour tenter d’écraser toujours plus le quartier. Retour en photo et en vidéo sur le musellement de la place...

      (Petite mise au point : un certain nombre de lecteur/lectrices ont souligné que la comparaison avec les murs de Gaza, Berlin etc. était peut-être un peu abusive ou malencontreuse. Effectivement, les réalités des murs érigés en Palestine, à la frontière Etats-Unis-Mexique, ou par le passé à Berlin, sont toutes autres. A la Plaine, point de miradors, de contrôles d’identité et de militaires. L’intention n’était pas de mettre sur un même niveau ces réalités totalement différentes, mais simplement de souligner les comparaisons qui sont sur toutes les lèvres des habitant.e.s du quartier, aussi approximatives soient-elles...)

      Tout le monde s’y attendait, mais personne n’osait y croire. Gérard Chenoz tient ses promesses : quand il veut éradiquer les quartiers populaires, et bien il met tout en oeuvre pour y parvenir. Histoires de pouvoir et de pognon, c’est certain. Mépris de classe assurément.

      Et là où le gentrifieur en chef tient aussi ses promesses, c’est dans son goût prononcé pour la manipulation. Il a quand même trouvé moyen de jouer la victime dans la presse, et tenter de renverser médiatiquement la vapeur. Selon ses atermoiements, s’il est nécessaire d’installer ce mur de la honte, c’est à cause de la révolte des habitant.e.s et usager.e.s de la Plaine. Si ce mur coûte près de 400000 euros de plus aux 20 millions déjà faramineux du projet, c’est à cause de la plèbe qui exprime sa colère. Et, pirouette finale, s’il y a 400000 euros à débourser en plus, ce sera bien à la charge des contribuables, et ce, à cause, évidemment, du peuple de la Plaine opposé aux travaux. La boucle est bouclée : l’exorbitant coût des travaux est directement imputable aux plainard.e.s ! Roublard le Gérard, non ?

      Mais ça n’est pas un problème pour lui, ni pour la mairie. Leur mur de mépris, ils le posent. Ils semblent insinuer que, désormais, le quartier est à eux... Pourtant, rien n’est fini. Le quartier ne veut pas de leur aménagement à coup de matraque, de mur et de béton. Le quartier se battra jusqu’au bout pour arrêter ce chantier dont personne ne veut.

      Voici un excellent retour par Primitivi sur le début de l’installation du mur lundi 29 octobre, et sur la conférence de presse qui l’a précédé :
      https://vimeo.com/297967292


      https://mars-infos.org/le-mur-du-mepris-la-plaine-2018-3468
      #gentrification

    • Et à #Bure... les murs ont tombé... c’est ce qui est rappelé sur les réseaux sociaux concernant le mur de Marseille :

      En fait on a déjà vu ce type de murs à Bois Lejuc (#Bure) il y a deux ans ... et les murs étaient tombés

      https://twitter.com/ADecroissance/status/1057396390014390272

      Les murs tombent dans le #Bois_Lejuc !

      Aujourd’hui, près de 500 personnes, jeunes, moins jeunes, militant-e-s de tous les horizons, habitant-e-s, agriculteurs, ont réinvesti le Bois Lejuc et procédé à sa remise en état dans une atmosphère festive et déterminée. Plusieurs centaines de mètres de pans de mur illégalement érigés ont été abattus, d’autres redécorés, des arbrisseaux plantés. Quelques plants de légumes plantés lors de l’occupation de la forêt du 19 juin au 7 juillet, rescapés de la reprise de la forêt par l’Andra, ont même été repiqués.
      deco190Militant-e-s récemment mobilisé-e-s et opposant-e-s de la première heure se sont retrouvé-e-s à l’ombre des arbres libérés pour pique-niquer et refaire le monde sur les ruines du mur. Avec la chute de ce mur, ce n’est pas seulement un symbole de la violence et du passage en force de l’Andra qui est tombé ; c’est aussi la chape de plomb de la fatalité et de la résignation qui s’est fissurée.

      down2Cette fronde populaire est une saine et légitime défense face au rouleau compresseur de l’Andra, prête à tout pour imposer CIGÉO (emploi de vigiles surarmés, mépris des lois, mépris des décisions de justice). Les centaines de personnes arrivées dans le bois ont pu constater l’ampleur des dégâts infligés à la forêt : coupes dans des futaies de jeunes arbres, nouvelles et larges saignées dans les taillis… Certains indices laissent d’ailleurs penser que l’Andra a poursuivi ce défrichement illégal même après la décision de justice du 1er août. Nous attendons avec impatience les échéances juridiques à venir.


      Face à l’étendue des dégâts et la mauvaise foi de l’Andra, il nous semble plus qu’essentiel de continuer à défendre la forêt dans les jours et semaines à venir !


      https://vmc.camp/2016/08/14/les-murs-tombent-dans-le-bois-lejuc

    • Dans le numéro de @cqfd en kiosque actuellement

      #Urbanisme à la tronçonneuse – La Plaine emmurée > La mairie y croyait dur, à son opération table rase sur La Plaine. Et, la mort dans l’âme, le quartier s’y préparait. Une fois chassés les gens du marché, la résistance allait faiblir. Gérard Chenoz, adjoint (LR) aux Grands projets d’attractivité et maître d’œuvre des travaux de requalification de la place Jean-Jaurès, s’en était vanté auprès du site Marsactu : « Une Zad sur La Plaine ? Dans dix jours c’est fini. » Il aura finalement fallu un mois riche en surprises, et un mur de béton de 2,5 mètres de haut ceinturant l’esplanade, pour que le chantier démarre vraiment. Le Marseille populaire n’a pas dit son dernier mot.

      http://cqfd-journal.org/Au-sommaire-du-no170-en-kiosque

    • Heureusement, ces murs seront « embellis et habillés » par des « artistes, peintres urbains et graffeurs [...] dans le respect de l’identité de la place Jean Jaurès, connue pour être un lieu incontournable du street art ». Peindre en rose un mur de séparation, un crachat au visage du quartier, ne le rend pas plus agréable ni « respectueux ». Par contre, ces fameux « artistes » risquent de ne pas être très bien accueillis lorsqu’ils viendront. Devra-t-on bientôt voir des « street-artistes », héritiers de l’art vandale, protégés par la police ? Ce serait un comble.

      Pour l’anecdote, on apprend aussi que « les accès aux immeubles résidents sont maintenus » pendant la durée des travaux. C’est gentil ça, de laiser les gens rentrer chez eux.

      https://mars-infos.org/chenoz-et-la-mairie-nous-mentent-3469#nh3-3

      formulé par la Soleam :

      Mesure de sécurité aussi regrettable qu’indispensable, ces barrières deviendront un espace d’expression. Un collectif d’artistes leur donnera une note artistique. Ces peintres urbains et graffeurs travailleront à égayer le nouveau dispositif de sécurité, dans le respect de l’identité de la place Jean Jaurès, connue pour être un lieu incontournable du street art.

      http://www.soleam.net/projet/__trashed-2

      Leur rêve :

      Un positionnement géographique idéal, un port enfin dynamique et plutôt smart, des grandes entreprises qui agissent comme locomotives, des entrepreneurs qui ne restent pas indifférents aux évolutions du territoire, des startups à foison et, cerise sur le gâteau, un climat clément qui rend le business plus sympathique sous le soleil.

      «  Nous voulons nous servir du langage de la tech pour hacker les cerveaux des plus jeunes et leur donner accès à la culture.  »

      « Il faut repenser la configuration des quartiers. Tout détruire et tout reconstruire de façon différente en utilisant une situation géographique exceptionnelle . Cela doit s’accompagner d’une politique plus sociale. » Et de plaider pour un « plan Marshall urbanistique » . Mais aussi pour un centre-ville qui aurait tout intérêt à devenir piéton, gagnant ainsi des points d’attractivité supplémentaire, ne serait-ce qu’au niveau touristique.

      Qui voudrait aussi plus de bleu et de vert, « une ville propre, bien éclairée qui serait devenue le leader mondial de l’éolien flottant, qui aurait un grand port lequel aurait dépassé Miami en termes de nombre de croisiéristes. »

      https://marseille.latribune.fr/economie/2018-10-27/marseille-une-metropole-mondiale-791674.html

      Un cauchemar !

      source de l’article : #twittoland
      https://twitter.com/gerardchenoz/status/1047025687331254274
      #urbanisation #métropolisation #bétonisation

    • Marseille : lettres de la Plaine

      Alors que nous nous apprêtions à boucler l’édition de ce lundi, édition dans laquelle une lettre de la Plaine annonçait aux pouvoirs publiques que le mur de béton de 2m50 construit à la hâte pour protéger la destruction de l’une des dernières place populaire de Marseille, ne manquerait pas de tomber, nous recevons cette nouvelle missive. Le mur est donc partiellement tombé et éclaté sur le sol. Cela valait évidemment une nouvelle lettre aux élus.

      Chers Jean-Claude, Gérard & Jean-Louis,
      On voulait vous prévenir, votre mur il est malade, certaines parties ont dû être abattues.
      C’était pas sécur’.
      On a pensé à la transplantation mais c’est vrai que trois tonnes chaque morceau du mur, c’est beaucoup.
      Ceci dit, on vous trouve un peu léger.
      On a comme l’impression que vous avez du mal à estimer le poids du refus.
      C’est qu’il est bien plus lourd que votre mur.

      C’est bizarre d’être à ce point à côté de la plaque.
      De sous estimer autant.
      On vous pensait mieux renseignés, mieux entourés.
      On a pourtant tout fait pour vous aider.
      Les manifestations, les pétitions, les lettres…
      Trois mille personnes l’autre jour dans la rue.
      C’est peut-être Olivier de la préfecture, il ne sait pas compter, il doit mal vous renseigner.

      On est un peu triste pour vous parce que ça à l’air tout petit le monde dans vos têtes. Tout réduit.
      Bref, on vous sens fatigués, dépassés.
      On s’inquiète pour vous.
      D’autant qu’ici sur la place il se murmure que ça se lézarde dans les autres quartiers. D’ailleurs on fait une réunion cet après-midi avec les autres quartiers. Vous devriez venir, toute la ville sera là. Un grand conseil municipal.

      En tout cas, c’est gentil d’avoir remis l’électricité sur la place.
      On y voit mieux.

      Ici on a hâte de connaître votre prochaine idée. Le carnet de chèque, en tout cas, il doit pas mal tourner. On est rassurés de savoir la ville si riche. ça change.

      Au fait, pour le service après vente du mur, on vous donne les coordonnées :
      - Groupe PBM. 04 72 81 21 80
      97 Allée Alexandre Borodine - Bât Cèdre 2 - 69800 Saint-Priest.

      et puis celles du directeur des ventes, ça peut-être utile pour les réclamations
      Laurent ULLINO - Tél. 06 61 08 58 48
      laurent.ullino@pbm.fr »

      https://lundi.am/Marseille-lettres-de-la-Plaine-1567

    • Un quartier à cran

      Tel un orage d’été, la requalification de la place Jean-Jaurès, au cœur du quartier de La Plaine, à Marseille, s’annonce aussi incertaine que menaçante.

      À quelques jours de l’échéance, et malgré une plaquette publicitaire affirmant que tout est ficelé (on y vante sans vergogne « une démarche collective et collaborative », pour « une grande place métropolitaine, méditerranéenne, polyvalente et populaire »), tous les lots de l’appel d’offres n’ont pas encore été attribués. En revanche, des recours juridiques sont déposés au nom des forains du marché, de commerçants et de l’association La Plaine sans frontières.

      Si le cabinet APS, chargé de redessiner la place, enfume l’opinion avec des formules ronflantes promettant une « réactivation contemporaine », les premiers concernés subissent l’habituel mépris de la vieille garde municipale. Le phasage des travaux, qui aurait permis à 80 vendeurs sur 300 de cohabiter avec le chantier, est jeté aux oubliettes. Dans un courrier en date du 1er août, l’élue Marie-Louise Lota, adjointe aux Emplacements publics, annonce la « fermeture totale de la place pour des motifs de sécurité et de salubrité ». Les forains seront exilés sur huit « sites de repli », pour l’essentiel dans les quartiers Nord. Cette dispersion signerait l’arrêt de mort du marché le plus populaire de la ville.

      Autre déracinement : 87 des 191 arbres de la place devraient être arrachés. Pour endormir les consciences, l’élu Gérard Chenoz, adjoint aux Grands projets d’attractivité, et le paysagiste Jean-Louis Knidel affirment qu’ils ne seraient pas coupés, mais « transplantés ailleurs », pour « une plus grande biodiversité » !

      Consulté, un technicien forestier a démonté l’intox : une telle opération, très coûteuse, aurait dû se préparer en amont et les tilleuls adultes ont peu de chance de survivre.

      Autre fake news, la piétonisation : une voie de circulation éventrera la plus grande place de Marseille sur toute sa longueur. Pour rendre cet attentat plus sexy, les paysagistes parlent de ramblas… Aucun plan général de mobilité, aucune étude d’impact sérieuse : un effet entonnoir, ainsi que la suppression de 400 places de stationnement sans solution alternative, déporteront le chaos automobile dans les rues adjacentes.

      À des restaurateurs inquiets, Yves Moraine, maire des 6e et 8e arrondissements, a répondu avec désinvolture qu’ils seraient « bien contents de la plus-value de leurs fonds de commerce une fois le quartier réhabilité ». Il dévoile ainsi des visées spéculatives, tout en mentant éhontément : s’ils sont contraints de vendre, les commerçants le feront sur la base d’un chiffre d’affaires rendu calamiteux par trois ans de chantier.

      Autre menace : sur un espace « minéralisé », avec un « deck central » en bois où les badauds pourront « se montrer et regarder », tous les usages non encadrés et non marchands seront mal vus. Sous l’œil de 26 caméras, le carnaval indépendant, la sardinade du 1er mai, les jeux de boules ou de balle et les repas de quartier deviendront des « usages déviants ».

      Un tel équarrissage serait le point d’orgue de la reconquête d’un centre-ville trop populeux, qu’on aimerait voir basculer du côté des quartiers huppés. Sans oublier la volonté de multiplier les zones d’attractivité touristique. Preuve de l’impopularité de cette politique, les candidats de l’équipe Gaudin ont été désavoués dans les urnes, éjectés avec à peine 10 % des voix au premier tour des dernières législatives. Mais qu’importe : « Avant de prendre ma retraite, je vais nettoyer La Plaine », aurait déclaré Marie-Louise Lota.

      Plus soucieuse de réélection, la nouvelle génération LR soigne ses éléments de langage : « Je suis pour une rénovation inclusive, nous avons besoin de toutes les énergies », lance Sabine Bernasconi, maire des 1er et 7e arrondissements. Ce qui ne l’empêche pas de s’attaquer au boulodrome associatif de la place Carli, après que les bouquinistes en ont été bannis. La même phobie de toute activité populaire est là encore à l’œuvre.

      Seule force de ce projet de destruction, la division de ses adversaires. Écolos et pro-vélos sont bernés par une piétonisation cosmétique. Nombre de riverains des quartiers voisins croient que tout vaudra mieux que cette place laissée à l’abandon depuis des années. Reste le fantôme d’une Zad urbaine pour sauver les arbres, le spectre d’un coup de sang des forains et la mutation de l’assemblée de La Plaine en véritable assemblée de quartier. Qui est vivant verra.


      http://cqfd-journal.org/Un-quartier-a-cran

  • The remains of Stalin’s gulag railroad – a photo essay | World news | The Guardian
    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/oct/29/the-remains-of-stalin-gulag-railroad-soviet-union-a-photo-essay

    rom 1947 until 1953, tens of thousands of prisoners, many of them “politicals” convicted for “anti-Soviet acts”, were shipped to northern Russia to lay a railroad through some of the harshest terrain on Earth.

    #urss #ex-urss #staline #goulag #soviétisme

    • C’est du n’importe quoi comparable à la campagne actuelle contre Jeremy Corbyn.

      Les adversaires de Sarah Wagenknecht au sein du parti Die Linke construisent le mythe de l’ex communiste convertie en membre de la cinquième colonne de la droite qui aurait infiltre le parti afin de le diviser. Ces reproches sont ensuite repris et interprétées par la droite pour nuire au projet de gauche dans son ensemble.

      On commence à comprendre les raisons pour les reproches en question quand on regarde les différentes tendance de la gauche allemande qui se rencontrent dans ce parti. Ce sont surtout les militants de Ouest issus des milieux « sponti » anti-dogmatiques et anarchistes qui revendiquent l’abolition de toutes les frontières et considèrent cette revendication comme critère essentiel pour décider si quelqu’un est de gauche .

      Sarah Wagenknecht par contre fait partie de ceux qui envisagent des solutions faisables et pour les réaliser elle abandonne les revendications maximales et illusoires. Pour les milieux de l’extrème gauche ses positions sont alors des positions de droite. Parallèlement elle se trouve en concurrence directe avec d’autres personnes à la tête du parti qui n’hésitent pas de tout faire pour nuire à son image de marque.

      Initialement Sarah Wagenknecht faisait partie du courant Kommunistische Plattform (KP) au sein du parti (https://kpf.die-linke.de/start). Elle a donc appris à analyser les choses d’une manière systématique et scientifique. Ce n’est pas le cas des adhérents des idées libertaires et des militants des courants de gauche modernes peu informés sur ce qui constituait la gauche prolétarienne et marxiste. La base de leur engagement est une moralité individualiste donc en oppostion au raisonnement marxiste classique.

      Cette gauche radicale et intellectuelle représente une vision du monde assez répandue chez les jeunes citadins plus ou moins précarisés qui survivent comme web-designer, étudiants et petits cadres sans poste fixe qui sont dépourvus de toute expérience collective prolétaire. Au fond ils se sentent proches des réfugiés africains et syriens parce qu’ils vivent dans une situation aussi isolée et incertaine qu’eux sauf qu’ils profitent encore du soutien de papa/maman et du système social de l’état. La revendication d’ouvrir toute les frontières immédiatement leur est pour le moins sympatique.

      Sarah Wagenknecht par contre ne se situe plus dans une perspective communiste et surtout pas dans une perspective de jeunes intellectuels citadins. Elle dévéloppe un projet inspiré par son mari l’ex candidat social-démocrate pour le poste de chancelier allemand Oskar Lafontaine et par La France insoumise de Jean-Luc Melenchon .


      Le site de son projet Aufstehen ! n’est actuellement pas joignable à cause du trop grand succès (ou d’une attaque DOS).
      https://www.aufstehen.de

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      L’initiative Aufstehen cherche à regrouper et à activer les électeurs et militants social-démocrates trahis par leur parti et les sydicalistes que font fuir les militants Spontis . On lit souvent dans la presse que le mouvement Aufstehen chercherait à récupérer les électeurs de la gauche votant à droite actuellement. Sarah Wagenknecht défendrait des positions de droite pour y réussir. Quand on l’écoute on comprend que ce n’est pas le cas. Même si on part du principe que Aufstehen n’est qu’une tentative supplémentaire de vendre de la politique ce point de vue est idiot car il s’agit d’un nombre d’électeurs trop petit pour justifier le grand effort pour lancer un mouvement. Quand on regarde les statistiques on trouve par contre que les pauvres ne votent pas AfD ou NPD. Ils ne votent simplement pas parce qu’ils se sentent trahis par les partis politiques.

      N’oublion pas que le sujet de la vague d’immigrés est utilisé par la droite (y compris les médias de la droite modérée) pour faire peur aux employés afin de pouvoir encore mieux baisser les salaires et créer une ambiance de la peur.

      Voilà ma conclusion : Sarah Wagenknecht et plein de militants de gauche lancent un nouveau projet qui tente de resoudre un tas de problèmes posés par les appareils des partis et par l’impression qu’ils donnent au public. C’est un projet de gauche ouvert mis en place par des « pros » de la communication, c’est du « top down » pas du « bottom up », ce n’est pas non plus un projet « grassroots » si cher à la gauche hippie californienne à l’origine de la silicon valley . C’est très allemand et très européen. C’est un projet qui s’adresse à monsieur et madame tout-le-monde.

      On verra la suite ...

      P.S. Sarah Wagenknecht est membre du parti Die Linke et défend ses positions même si elle n’est pas d’accord avec toutes les décisons des congrès divers. Voici un petit extrait du programme du parti - ce ne sont certainement pas des positions de droite.

      Prigramm der Partei Die Linke
      https://www.die-linke.de/partei/grundsatzdokumente/programm

      Menschen, die vor Menschenrechtsverletzungen, Kriegen und politischer Verfolgung geflohen sind, dürfen nicht abgewiesen oder abgeschoben werden. Wir fordern die Wiederherstellung des Grundrechts auf Asyl und kämpfen gegen die Illegalisierung von Flüchtlingen, gegen Abschiebungen, jede Form von Sondergesetzen wie die Residenzpflicht sowie gegen Sammellager. Die Abschottungspolitik der EU ist unmenschlich – wir wollen keine Festung Europa. DIE LINKE richtet ihre Flüchtlingspolitik nach Humanität und Menschenrechten, so dass der Schutz von Menschen in Not im Vordergrund steht und nicht ordnungspolitische oder ökonomische Überlegungen. Deshalb setzt sich DIE LINKE für die Abschaffung der Grenzschutzagentur FRONTEX ein, die das wichtigste Abschottungsinstrument der EU darstellt.

      #Aufstehen #gauche #immigrés #Allemagne #réfugiés

    • Que dit exactement Sahra Wagenknecht sur l’immigration ? - Libération
      http://www.liberation.fr/checknews/2018/09/04/que-dit-exactement-sahra-wagenknecht-sur-l-immigration_1676492

      Bonjour,

      Vous nous avez demandé le verbatim en français des propos polémiques de Sahra Wagenknecht.

      En ce mardi 4 septembre 2018, la femme politique allemande, figure important du parti Die Linke, lance un nouveau mouvement politique nommé Aufstehen (en français : Debout), qui intéresse la presse étrangère.

      Ainsi Le Monde parle de « l’émergence d’une gauche antimigrants », le HuffPost titre « un mouvement politique de gauche radicale et anti-migrants lancé en Allemagne », Libération note au sujet de Wagenknecht que « l’une des cadres de Die Linke va lancer début septembre un mouvement qui reprend les accents de l’extrême droite sur la question migratoire » et Grazia ose même la présenter comme « l’Allemande à cheval entre Mélenchon et Le Pen ». Dans ces articles, on peut lire que cette égérie de la gauche radicale allemande a décidé de défendre une politique antimigrants pour récupérer le vote des électeurs des couches populaires qui se seraient tournées vers le parti d’extrême-droite Alternative für Deutschland (AfD).

    • Que dit exactement Sahra Wagenknecht sur l’immigration ? - Libération

      Lire cet article permet de comprendre dans le texte ce que dit Sarah Wagenknecht. On est loin, très loin des caricatures de la simplification médiatique. Et encore plus loin de l’injurieuse solidarité inconditionnelle de certains dirigeants du PCF avec la fraction est allemande des anciens communistes de Die Linke.
      Jlm

    • Danke, Sahra !
      Très occupée, cet été, par ma xième remigration en France, je découvre la campagne de récupération des voix de l’AfD de Sahra Wagenknecht et son « mouvement de rassemblement » Aufstehen (https://www.sahra-wagenknecht.de ).
      Marqué au coin du bon sens, son propos en séduira plus d’unE, mais sont-ce vraiment les personnes que la pauvre gauche allemande doit séduire aujourd’hui ?
      Où l’on comprend que l’internationalisme n’est qu’un leurre capitaliste et que tous ces migrantEs (de la classe moyenne) vont venir nous prendre nos derniers jobs à quelques sous, ou ceux de nos camarades migrants saisonniers intra-EU (?)…
      Perplexe face à une démarche stratégique -ou plutôt tactique- qui vise les symptômes (la migration) pour guérir des causes (le capitalisme), je retiens cependant une problématique très intéressante, et vieille d’une centaine d’années au moins : l’Etat souverain est-il le seul rempart possible contre le capitalisme ?
      En tout cas, remercions Sahra de nous forcer à nous poser la bonne vraie question : qu’est-ce que cela veut dire être de gauche aujourd’hui ? Et je le pense sincèrement.

      #Sahra_Wagenknecht #gauche #migration

    • On a commencé la discussion parce qu’un grand journal francais titre qu’en Allemagne émergerait une gauche antimigrants. Cette affirmation se réfère à l’initiative #Aufstehen lancée par Sarah Wagenknecht et d’autres.

      Nous avons constaté pourquoi cette affirmation est fausse. On pourrait passer beaucoup de temps à identifier de nombreuses citations qui le prouvent. Je pense que c’est inutile et que chacun peut très bien le faire lui même avec les moteurs de recherche divers. Les résultats sont le bienvenus.

      A mon avis la question des « réfugiés » cache le véritable problème qui est l’existence d’une classe économique qui en défendant ses intérêts détruit l’espace vital de tous dans le monde entier. Elle abuse des habitants des zone défavorisées en les mettent en concurrence directe avec ceux parmi les habitants des pays les plus riches qui n’ont pas d’autre source de revenus que leur travail. Autrefois on parlait du prolétariat. Nous somme tous redevables aux militants du mouvement ouvrier parce que ces prolétaires se sont battus pendant des siècles pour enfin obtenir une récompense sous forme de travail bien payé et de garanties sociales.

      Ces acquis sont menacés par les capitalistes de tous les pays et par leur agents dans les entreprise, dans les institutions de l’état et dans les médias. Les migrants jouent un rôle clé tactique dans cette lutte pour le profit. On a vu comment ca a marché aux États-Unis au dix neuvième et vingtième siècle et nous assiston actuellement à l’exploitation du phénomène par un président xénophobe et raciste. Ce pays immense a vu le génocide des autochtones au profit des immigrés arrivant par vagues consécutives entre le dix huitième et le vingtième siècle.

      L’immigration vers l’Europe est profondément différente des événements historiques américaines. Les raisons pour quitter son pays natal sont toujours les mêmes mais la situation dans les pays d’acceuil donne aux grandes vagues d’immigration une qualité différente à chaque fois.

      Après la guerre de trente ans qui avait dévasté le pays et réduit la population de trente pour cent le roi de Prusse n’était que trop content de pouvoir acceuillir les réfugiés protestants de France. La réaction de ses sujets ressemblait aux actes xénophobes d’aujourd’hui : la populace de Berlin incendiait les maisons des nouveaux sujets de leur roit. Ils n’étaient décidément pas le bienvenus. Pourtant les huguenots ont prospéré et constituent aujourd’hui une partie des allemands fortunés ou pour le moins cultivés.

      En Chine la dernière vague d’immigration au dix septième siècle se présentait sous forme d’invasion guerrière mandchoue. Une fois le pays conquis ces envahisseurs adoptaient la culture chinoise à un point où ils n’étaient plus distinguable des chinois « de souche » par un visiteur du pays. Quelques siècles auparavant les Mongoles avaient suivi le même chemin.

      Face aux phénomènes d’immigration d’aujourd’hui nous nous trouvons plutôt dans la situation des Prussiens ou Chinois historiques. S’il n’y avait pas le problème de l’épuisement des ressources planétaires et du changement climatique par le capitalisme insatiable on pourrait nous contenter de critiquer quelques questions concernat la gestion de l’acceuil des nouveaux citoyens.

      Malheureusement il y a ces questions de base qu’il faudra resourde si on veut permettre à nos grands enfants de vivre dans la paix et sans soucis matériels énormes. Notre tâche consiste alors dans la défense de nos droits économiques et et politiques afin de pouvoir contribuer aux solutions envisageables dont aucune ne sera l’oeuvre de la classe capitaliste marquée par l’avarice et la méchanceté.

      Rappellons enfin l’histoire des Koslowski ces Polonais qu’on a fait venir dans la Ruhr afin d’y extraire le charbon dans les mines. Ce sont leurs enfants et grands-enfants qui ont crée les grandes organisations ouvrières comme le parti social-démocrate dont la renaissance est tant désirée par Sarah Wagenknecht et Oskar Lafontaine .

      Soyons solidaires avec les nouveaux arrivants, ils nous remercieront et soutiendront notre combat. Si l’initiative #Aufstehen se dévéloppe en véritable mouvement il pourra contribuer aux actions communes afin de créer l’unité des gens sans capital et armée.

    • Travailleurs de tous pays, unissez-vous, mais s’il vous plaît restez chez vous (on n’est pas prêts, promis on se fera une bouffe, en attendant bon courage, hein).

      La « caissière de Lidl » et le bobo ont bon dos. Le dumping salarial ne date pas d’hier et l’Allemagne s’en gave particulièrement depuis trente ans. Profiter de l’obsession migratoire et du contexte actuel pour ratisser des voix, oui, c’est de l’opportunisme politique sordide et une forme de capitulation.

      Ce sont les dirigeants politiques, de droite et surtout de « gauche », et les patrons qui sont responsables du dumping, du précariat, du travail forcé en Allemagne, pas les migrants. Se dédouaner sur eux et sur le Grand Capital International des inconséquences et des trahisons de la gauche allemande, comment dire... c’est pratique, en effet.

      Pour un autre point de vue sur le sujet en (beaucoup) moins énervé — plutôt qu’avec Corbyn, le parallèle dans le malaise sur le fond est plutôt à faire avec une bonne partie de la gauche française et surtout avec la FI et Mélenchon (qui pourrait reprendre mot pour mot Wagenknecht : « Les gens ont besoin d’une perspective dans leur pays d’origine », « Plus de migrants économiques, cela signifie plus de concurrence pour les bas salaires dans le secteur de l’emploi », etc) —

      cf. (par exemple)

      http://www.regards.fr/politique/article/sur-l-immigration-la-gauche-n-a-plus-les-mots

    • On m’envoie quelques précisions :

      Les adversaires politiques de Sarah Wagenknecht sont d’abord les membres du courant « pragmatique » Forum demokratischer Sozialismus (FdS). Je ne parlais pas explicitement d’eux car ce sont surtout les milieux d’extrème gauche et du courant Emanzipatorische Linke (EmaLi https://emanzipatorischelinke.wordpress.com/uber-uns ) qui revendiquent l’ouverture immédiate et totale de toutes les frontières.

      Apparemment il faut être plus précis en ce qui concerne le sujet du vote des pauvres : La petite bourgeoisie et les fonctionnaires constituent la base principale de l’extrême droite comme c’était déjà le cas des nazis dans les années 1920. Il y a quand même un nombre non négligeable de gens pauvres et défavorisés qui votent pour le parti AfD et les nazis du NPD. On trouve des informations imprécises et erronnées à ce sujet dans quelques études rectifiées depuis par d’autres analyses plus exactes.

    • @nepthys J’ai l’impression que l’histoire de la position anti-migrants de SR n’est qu’une fabrication. D’après ce que je lis sur le projet #Aufstehen les problèmes en relation avec l’immigration ne se trouvent pas au centre de l’initiative. Son but est plutôt de développer une solution pour des gens qui aimeraient apporter leur grain de sel au processus politiques mais n’y arrivent pas à cause du caractère hermétique des appareils politiques.

      Les sujets du mouvement #Aufstehen sont actuellemen collectionnés et il y a un début de discussion autour. Les questions de sécurité et de l’immigration seront sans doute abordées et il reste à tester si on pourra développer des approches et des solutions plus réalistes et humaines que les concepts farfelus présentés par la droite et par les extrémistes de gauche.

      Cet article de Telepolis l’explique très bien (je profite de l’occasion pour attirer votre attention sur l’ecellent moteur de traduction DeepL https://www.deepl.com/translator)

      Ein kommender Aufstand ? Sarah Wagenknecht startet « Aufstehen »
      05. September 2018 Malte Daniljuk
      https://www.heise.de/tp/features/Ein-kommender-Aufstand-Sarah-Wagenknecht-startet-Aufstehen-4155535.html

    • Je ne sais pas trop quoi penser... J’ai lu des trucs de Mélenchon hallucinants, « c’est pas que les migrants soient méchants mais le capitalisme nous les envoie pour augmenter le chômage ». Je ne sais pas si Sarah W est aussi ambivalente mais en France la lente courbe autoritaire et raciste de Chonchon me fait craindre le pire.

    • @baroug Suite au seen de @aude_v j’ai profité de la dernière journée chaude et ensoleillée à Berlin pour passer du temps à la piscine et lire le livre de Sarah Wagenknecht Couragiert gegen den Strom . C’est une série d’interviews par le rédacteur en chef de Telepolis Florian Rötzer où elle explique ses position et principes. Je peux alors confirmer ce que j’écris plus haut et je peux dire que les propos de Mélusine sur Twitter sont ou de très mauvaise foi ou marqués par son ignorance.

      On est en pleine lutte politique et il faut partir du principe que toute affirmation sert l’agenda de quelqu’un, généralement c’est la droite qui est très habile en ce domaine. Seule solution : vérifier les sources et ne faire confiance qu’aux personnes compétentes qui le méritent.

      Mélusine
      ‏ @Melusine_2Attendez, Wagenknecht n’est pas « anti-migrants », elle a seulement dit que :
      – l’arrivée des migrants nuit aux travailleurs allemands,
      – les frontières ouvertes augmentent le risque d’attentats,
      – l’argent de l’accueil des réfugiés aurait mieux profité aux Allemands précaires.

      Melusine ne cite pas ses sources, alors je pars du principe que ce sont des rumeurs (l’article dans Libé ?). J’explique plus haut comment et par qui elles arrivent.

      SR dit que les capitalistes se servent de l’arrivé des réfugiés pour faire augmenter la concurrence entre les ouvriers simples. Elle explique que c’est une des raisons pourquoi le gouvernement allemand ne s’est intéressée que très tard à la question des réfugiés. C’est la signification de sa critique de la politique des frontières ouvertes.

      Pour des affirmations comme les frontières ouvertes augmentent le risque d’attentats les anglophones utilisent la jolie expression « truism » cad un truc tellement évident que ce n’est pas la peine de le mentionner.

      La dernière phrase est complètement fausse. SW dit qu’on aurait mieux fait d’investir l’argent qu’on dépense pour les intervention militaires en Syrie et ailleurs pour aider les gens sur place par des mesure humanitaires et économiques.

      encore Melusine :

      En 2016 après l’attentat de Berlin elle n’avait pas hésité à dénoncer l’ouverture incontrôlée des frontières.

      Là c’est encore une déformation des propos de SR : Elle critique le fait que rien n’a été fait pour préparer ou prévenir l’arrivée des centaintes de milliers de réfugiés alors que tout le monde savait longtemps avant qu’ils étaient en train de se préparer à partir. Le gouvernement allemand a participé à la guerre en syrie du côté des turcs et américains avec des avions d’espionnage. Il était parfaitement informé sur chaque détail des événements à venir.

      Nous sommes actuellement confrontés à une tentative systématique d’associer chaque critique de la politique du gouvernement Merkel avec des agissements d’extrême droite. Les médias allemands (dont 85% se trouvent entre les mains de quelques familles de milliardaires, l’ex journal d’opposition TAZ s’étant rallié au courant vert-néolibéral et belliciste) font tout pour ne pas faire passer le message de la gauche (et de Sarah Wagenknecht) que l’internationalisme et la solidarité signifient autre chose que de faire venir tous les malheureux du monde en Europe.

      La solidarité internationaliste siginfie au contraire de lutter contre le « brain drain » dont souffrent les pays pauvres et de tout faire pour permettre aux populations locales de mener une vie digne et de défendre les revenus des ouvriers et petits producteurs sur place.

      En même temps SR défend le droit à l’asyl politique et le droit de trouver refuge pour les victimes des guerres contre les mesures prévues par la droite allemande. Elle rappelle que ce sont les gouvernements de droite et social-démocrates qui ont amputé et rendu impracticable ce droit dans le passé, alors que la gauche l’a toujours défendu. Le PS de France ne rentre pas dans cette définition de la gauche comme son homologue allemand.

      Un des sujets du projet #Aufstehen sera sans doute de trouver des manhières pour intégrer les ouvriers immigrés dans les syndicats. C’est également un aspect de la solidarité internationale d’enseigner la manière de défendre ses intérêts collectifs.

      Voila quelques uns des sujets et arguments qui sont systématiquement tus par les médias majoritaires « de qualité » dans le cadre de leur défense des intérêts et points de vue de la classe donimante et de ses agents confrontés au mécontenement des gens ordinaires.

      P.S. J’ai l’impression que Melusine ne cherche pas à dénoncer SR mais elle n’arrive pas à sortir de la matrice d’interprétation omniprésente. En conséquence elle n’arrive pas à saisir le sens des propos et positions de SR et contribue aux dénociations des positions de gauche. Elle n’est pas seule dans cette situation et c’est pour cette raison que j’ai commencé mon seen initial en citant la campgane contre Jeremy Corbyn.

      P.P.S. Dans lutte pour la communication de nos convictions nous ne sommes pas confrontés à une conspiration de forces occultes mais à sa version pluralistes, ouverte et beaucoup plus efficace.

    • @baroug je trouve que la remarque ironique de @biggrizzly est tout à fait justifiée.

      Les médias allemands suivent généralement un choix des mots ( wording en Denglish ) qui contient des jugements là où suivant l’éthique journalistique traditionelle une information non partisane serait appropriée. C’est pareil pour ses grilles explicatoires. Les discussions, communiqués de presse et événements sont filtrés par une sorte d’égalisateur qui assure que chaque contenu qui risque de mettre en cause la politique Merkel est rendu inoffensif.

      Ce formatage le rend quasiment impossible de comprendre quoi que ce soit aux processus politiques allemands si on ne fait pas partie des cercles du pouvoir. Les autres sont obligés de passer énormément de temps à décoder les messages transmis par les médias majoritaires.

      Il faut lire la presse internationale en plusieurs langues dont l’Anglais et le Russe si possible. Ces sources ne couvrant qu’une petite partie des événements et publications qui concernent la politique allemande, il faut en plus se procurer des sources supplémentaires allemandes.

      Je viens de me rendre compte à quel point il est difficile même pour moi de comprendre dans le détail les positions politiques, de faire la différence entre informations construites et manipulées et les faits « dures » qui ont été confirmées par plusieurs source dignes de confiance, et je passe sur les affirmations d’un tel ou d’une telle plus ou moins crédible.

      Pour juger de la fiabilité d’une source je finis généralement par me poser a question de ses origines sociales, de qui elle dépend, qui la fait gagner son pain et qui décide sur sa carrière. Après il y a les journalistes (et politiciens et économistes et entrepreneurs et syndicalistes etc.) plus ou moins compétents en leurs domaines respectifs, ce qui fait encore varier le poids de leurs affirmations et positions.

      Ouf, avec tout cela comment veux-tu qu’une personne ordinaire comprenne quoi que ce soit aux contenu qui lui est vendu comme « vérité officielle » par les médias majoritaires.

      On peut effectivement comprendre, par exemple, le caractère de Sarah Wagenknecht, saisir le sens de ses mots passés par la moulinette idéologique des grands médias et juger du poids de ses décisons en prenant en compte exclusivement ce qui est dit sur elle dans la presse - soyons clairs - bourgeoise. L’utilité d’une telle démarche peut exister pour quelqu’un qui travaille dans l’office d’un député de la droite. Le militant de gauche n’apprend pas grand chose d’utile par les médias majoritaires.

      La droite populiste scande Lügenpresse, Lügenpresse parce que ses militants sont exposés à des informations dont ils connaissent le manque de précision et d’intérêt pour eux mêmes. A travers leur vision simpliste du monde ils y découvrent un énorme complot dont fait partie chaque reporteur d’une télé officielle. Ce n’est pas mon problème mais l’existence de cette vision des médias fait preuve de l’énormité des contradictions du système capitaliste plus ou moins démocratique.

      Alors où chercher les informations fiables ? Je ne sais pas, mais je vous fait confiance, enfin plus ou moins ;-)

    • Baroug a supprimé son commentaire, mais nous en avons reçu la notification et ce faisant son contenu.
      Je comprends son intention première, et son revirement.

      J’ai bien précisé « milliardaires » dans mon commentaire lapidaire.

      Les militants doivent passer le plus clair de leur temps à se justifier que « [leur] candidat n’a pas dit ceci ou cela, même si, c’est en première page de Libé ». Comme tu le dis Klaus, « tu es du côté du pouvoir, les articles et la titraille vont te faciliter la tâche. Tu es de l’autre côté, ceux-ci vont être malveillants ».

      Tiens. Ce matin, j’ai lu DS (ASI) qui expliquait que la faible mobilisation face au réchauffement climatique, c’était de la faute à Alex Jones et à tous les complotistes faiseurs de fakenews. J’ai bien rigolé. Il aime bien Twitter, DS. Et il va s’en rendre compte qu’il est plus (+) en train de regarder le doigt que la lune...

      Les premiers pourvoyeurs de fakenews sont les élites et leurs appareils étatiques. Et nous, on continue à faire comme si les fakenews, c’était les sites parodiques et les prédicateurs. Oubliées les lois sur le secret des affaires, et la destruction systématique des lanceurs d’alerte, avant même cette loi.

      Donc là, nous sommes tous anxieux, parce qu’une femme politique qu’on a l’habitude d’entendre dire des choses intelligentes, et bien des journaux de milliardaires lui ont collé l’étiquette « gauche anti-migrants ». Ils ont créé la polémique, ils ont choisi les mots, et ils ont balancé le cocktail molotov. Et ça se termine en « de toute façon, les politiques de gauche sont racistes, sexistes et autoritaires ». Carton plein pour les morveux certificateurs d’informations vraies. (Et admirez. D’un côté ça suscite la polémique avec le titre infamant, et de l’autre (Checknews), ça relativise et ça édulcore...)

    • Je l’ai viré parce que personne des gens à qui je l’avais transmis par ailleurs n’y avait compris grand chose.

      Mais :
      1) le diplo EST possédé par des milliardaires (50% appartient au Monde)

      2) dire "c’est libé donc c’est de la merde" c’est vraiment un raisonnement paresseux. Y’a beaucoup de merdes dans Libé, et y’a d’excellents papiers aussi, comme dans le Figaro, Le Monde ou Le Monde diplo. Pas à doses égales, et on a là dessus des ressentis différents, mais sans me faire l’apôtre inconditionnel de la nuance, il faut quand même en faire un minimum. On peut avoir une position critique sur « les médias dominants » et les propriétaires de la presse sans sombrer dans un manichéisme aussi absolu.

      3) Ce papier de Libé cite longuement la dame incriminée, et s’il faut décrypter ses propos à ce niveau de détail, c’est que oui, il y a un problème. Et pour moi, comme Mélenchon, oui, elle drague l’électorat d’extrême droite quand elle fait ça. Il me semble que comme lui, c’est de l’ordre de la stratégie politique davantage qu’autre chose, mais dans les deux cas ça ne me réjouit pas.

    • En l’occurrence, c’est Libé qui se permet de ne pas faire dans la nuance, comme tu me reproches de ne pas le faire avec raison (je n’en avais pas l’ambition).

      OK, si tu lis Libé dans le détail, tu découvres que c’est bien plus nuancé, qu’il y a parfois des articles passionnants. Mais il y a des choix qui sont fait dans ces journaux, et ces choix ne le sont pas, nuancés, ils sont politiques, et parfois malveillants, et d’autres fois borgnes.

      Décider de soutenir un choix dans un référendum, une personne dans une élection, la survenue d’une guerre, ou un menteur patenté, c’est un choix politique non-nuancé, voire un choix économique en faveur de certains milliardaires, et tout le decorum autour ne peut plus être désigné que comme une sorte d’alibi.

      On renifle la culotte des gauchistes qui ne savent plus comment faire pour intéresser les électeurs ("et ça ne [nous] réjouit pas"). Et on se retrouve avec une situation à l’américaine, où les élites ne savent plus comment faire pour faire élire des élus qui ne soient ni extrémistes de droite, ni gauchistes.

    • J’ai pas tout compris mais tu ne peux pas dire simultanément que le papier de Libé est mensonger et que tu est d’accord sur le fait que ce qu’il raconte de Sahra Wagenknecht ne te réjouit pas (entérinant l’idée qu’en fait non il n’est pas mensonger mais que tu préfèrerais qu’il n’évoque pas le sujet).

    • Le site du « mouvement de rassemblement » Aufstehen nous propose de nous organiser. Nous, i.e. le peuple, j’ai envie de dire : le peuple de la rue, vu le film de propagande qui montre Mme et M. tout le monde en bas de son immeuble. https://www.aufstehen.de
      Organisez-vous ! répète Wagenknecht et moi, depuis longtemps je veux m’imprimer un T-shirt noir avec en gros : Organize ! dessus et ne peux qu’approuver cent fois. « Don’t mourn, organize ! » sont d’ailleurs les mots prêtés au syndicaliste nord-américain Joe Hill, exécuté sans preuves en 1915 (cf. la chanson de Joan Baez), mots fréquemment repris par des mouvements contestataires (même contre Trump).
      Aufstehen propose donc de mobiliser la rue pour contrer le système politique (Politikbetrieb) qui ne la représente plus et mieux y entrer par la suite. C’est pour cela que Aufstehen veut être un mouvement et non un parti comme la SPD, Die Grünen, Die Linke (n.b. : du côté des fachos, Pegida est un mouvement anti-islam, l’AfD est un parti d’extrème-droite). Je ne peux qu’approuver cent fois.
      Mais si je cherche sur le site des informations sur la politique migratoire, je n’en trouve pas, même dans les interview de Wagenknecht. Peut-être ai-je mal cherché. (Hilf mir@Klaus !)
      Par contre, sur le site du mari de Sahra Wagenknecht, co-lanceur du mouvement, j’étais sûre de trouver plus d’idées de fond… Oskar Lafontaine a tout mon respect, un peu parce qu’il est sarrois comme moi, mais surtout parce qu’il est aussi courageux que sa femme.
      Effectivement, on trouve dans la première interview (12.8.18), des petites choses sur l’économie et la politique migratoire :
      L’économie : Sahra Wagenknecht et Oskar Lafontaine sont des adeptes de l’ordolibéralisme (en gros l’Etat donne un cadre général à l’économie pour garantir la libre-concurrence, mais sans le « laisser-faire » du libéralisme sauvage). Quand on lui demande si la formule du Godesberger Programm « Autant de marché que possible, autant d’Etat que nécessaire ! » est toujours valable, Lafontaine approuve. Le programme de Bad Godesberg de 1959 a signé la conversion de la SPD à l’économie de marché (social).
      Sur la politique migratoire, Oskar déclare : « Les problèmes sociaux tels la pauvreté des enfants et de la vieillesse, les salaires trop bas, les mauvaises prestations sociales et pas assez de logements sociaux, pour n’en nommer que quelques-uns, étaient déjà là avant. L’immigration les renforce par la mise en concurrence des salaires et des loyers.“ Comprend qui peut, comprend qui veut, mais il est bien écrit : « Durch die Zuwanderung werden sie über Lohn- und Mietkonkurrenz verstärkt. »
      Sinon, il y a toutes ces idées marquées au coin du bon sens (ne pas livrer d’armes au pays en guerre, etc.) auxquelles je ne peux que me rallier à 100 %. Et d’autres un peu moins convaincantes : http://www.oskar-lafontaine.de/links-wirkt/details/b/1/f/1/t/im-bundestag-muessen-sich-die-interessen-der-mehrheit-wieder-durchs
      Voilà les deux points qui me gênent un peu...
      Donc : organisons-nous ! mais en connaissance de cause, pour ou contre les frontières, pour ou contre l’internationale, pour ou contre l’Etat fort, etc. et non pas : pour ou contre le bien-être, pour ou contre la sécurité, etc.
      #ordolibéralisme #immigration

    • Ha oui tiens, Joe Hill, immigré hobo qui s’est quasiment fait buté en tant que tel.

      « Débarrassez la société de ses parasites » a dit le procureur au jury dans son réquisitoire.

      L’IWW qui luttait entre autres contre la xénophobie de l’AFL et se faisait taxer de cinquième colonne allemande pendant la guerre.

      Merde, quoi, les mots ont un sens et des conséquences.

    • Appel à fondation, le manifeste du mouvement « Aufstehen » | Le Média
      https://lemediapresse.fr/international/appel-a-fondation-le-manifeste-du-mouvement-aufstehen

      Lancé ce 4 septembre, le mouvement de gauche radicale Aufstehen de Sahra Wagenknecht fait polémique et est caricaturé en « mouvement anti-migrant ». Nous avons décidé, afin d’élever le débat, de publier une traduction inédite de leur manifeste.

      Je sais, le Média, c’est Télé Mélenchon. Mais après tout, entre Télé Bolloré, Télé Niel ou Télé Bouygues...

    • Les discours ambigus sur les réfugiés qui se développent à « gauche de la gauche » en France, en Allemagne et ailleurs, sont la conséquence d’un positionnement politique : la défense coûte que coûte d’une des faces du capital, à savoir : le travail.

      Défendant un des pôles du capital plutôt que de s’engager dans une critique de sa totalité dialectique, la « gauche de la gauche » ne peut que finir par adopter des positions réactionnaires dans une tentative illusoire de préserver le travail, alors que la dépassement de la société capitaliste, c’est justement l’abolition du travail.

      Évidemment, pour cela il faut comprendre comment les catégories de travail, de valeur, d’état ou de nation n’ont pas de caractère transhistorique et sont au contraire immanentes au capital. Ces catégories sont à critiquer négativement car elles sont avant tout déterminées par le capital et sa dynamique : elles n’ont aucun caractère émancipateur.

    • @baroug Je viens de relire l’article de Libération mentionné plus haut. J’y trouve la phrase suivante :

      http://www.liberation.fr/checknews/2018/09/04/que-dit-exactement-sahra-wagenknecht-sur-l-immigration_1676492

      Libération note au sujet de Wagenknecht que « l’une des cadres de Die Linke va lancer début septembre un mouvement qui reprend les accents de l’extrême droite sur la question migratoire »

      Si c’est vrai c’est une preuve pour les mauvaises intentions envers Sarah Wagenknecht parce que ce n’est simplement pas vrai.

      L’affirmation suivante de "Checknews" est erronée :

      On peut résumer ses positions ainsi. Sahra Wagenknecht défend le droit d’asile dans sa forme actuelle et s’est opposée à son durcissement.

      Il est vrai que le parti Die Linke et SR défendent ce qui reste du droit d’asile politique que les gouvernements consécutifs ont démonté au fur et à mesure pendant les 30 années passées.

      En même temps il n’est pas vrai que SR défend "le droit d’asile dans sa forme actuelle" car le parti de gauche revendique la restitution du droit d’asile politique dans sa forme en vigeur jusqu’aux années 1970. En même temps il revendique de l’améliorer en reconnaissant l’homosexualité comme raison suffisante pour accorder l’asile aux personnes des pays où la pratique ouverte de l’homosexualté comporte un risque de discrimination grave. La gauche revendique également un statut de résidente pour les femmes ayant quitté leurs maris suite à des violences conjugales.

      Apart ces points le texte dans Libération/Checknews donne assez de place aux paroles de Sarah Wagenknecht pour permettre la compréhension de principe de ses positions.

      Pour ceux intéressés par les événements qui ont mené au débat actuel notamment à la manière dont le gouvernement Merkel a géré la grande vague de réfugiés avant la fermeture de la route du Balkan, voici une traduction d’un article de fond dans Telepolis :

      Qu’est-ce que Chemnitz a à voir avec « Diviser pour mieux régner » ? Ou comment la gauche est devenue l’outil volontaire de l’establishment. https://seenthis.net/messages/720547

    • Je suis assez d’accord avec vous sur ce fait que la gauche est incapable d’écouter les angoisses des gens et n’y répond que par des trucs moralisateurs ou pire.
      Moralisateurs, quand le truc est articulé dans des termes comme : tu es raciste, pas généreux.
      Bête, comme Sandrine Rousseau, en campagne lors des régionales : « Ces gens qui fuient la Syrie, ce sont des gens comme nous, des médecins, des professeurs. »
      Quelle ignorance et mépris envers les petits blancs du NPDC, qui ne sont pas « des gens comme nous = des petits bourges » et à qui elle dit que les migrants leur mangeront sur la tête.
      Et puis « on va tous leur proposer une chambre chez nous, chacun a une chambre d’amis, pas vrai ? » Ben non, tu ignores un électorat qui n’a que le canap du salon et qui y a peut-être déjà hébergé un cousin qui depuis est devenu SDF parce que c’est chaud, de cohabiter dans peu d’espace pendant des mois sans perspective.
      Et pareil sur les communes qui filent un logement social à une famille syrienne : trop classe, moi j’attends depuis quatre ans (sept ans, maintenant) et je dois vivre ça comment, de voir des gens me passer devant sur la liste ? C’est des discours de bourges qui doivent donner envie de taper, quand on est encore plus à la rue que moi.

      Alors que quand on lit des trucs chiffrés sur les migrations et le travail, c’est une autre image qui se dessine, autre que celle que vous nous présentez ici. Le fait que la directive Bolkenstein et les délocalisation font sûrement mieux en matière de compétition internationale que des gens qui viennent habiter ici, d’autant plus quand c’est en famille et pas dans un logement de célib qui paye un tiers de lit. Que la crise du logement, elle est due au nombre croissant de petits bourges qui peuvent se payer des séjours touristiques, aux mécanismes qui font construire des bureaux pour mieux spéculer, plutôt qu’à des personnes qui sont sur le marché de logements plus crades et vétustes que les locaux. Le fait que ça peut booster la croissance et faire remonter les petits blancs d’un cran dans la pyramide alimentaire (au lieu de les faire descendre comme propose Rousseau dans sa grande générosité). Le fait que les frontières ouvertes permettent de venir sans dépenser son magot, sans y perdre sa santé, choisir son pays de résidence sur la base de l’aide privée (famille, amis) qu’on peut y trouver et rentrer dès qu’on veut/peut. Le fait que le terrorisme, il est pas alimenté par des migrants mais par des gens de deuxième génération dégoûtés du rêve occidental qui leur a été refusé par le racisme et les discriminations.

      Je me dis qu’on peut vivre et parler des migrations autrement que les morceaux choisis que je vois ici et qui me semblent toujours aussi indigestes, à la moulinette Libé ou à la moulinette Seenthis. Et que je n’ai pas envie de choisir entre la petite bourgeoisie donneuse de leçons et Mélenchon qui flatte le drapeau en même temps qu’il défend le travailleur frrrançais d’une manière qui me semble contradictoire avec la réalité, pas qu’avec mon éthique.

      Et là j’aimerais appeler @reka et @cdb_77 pour avoir leur avis sur la justesse de ces discours sur les #migrations.

    • @aude_v Je suis d’accord avec les principes que tu proposes. Alors que faire ?

      Je vois trois positions acceptables et pourtant contradictoires. Ses défenseurs « de gauche » ont les choix entre une sorte de « cohabitation pacifique » accompagnée de discussions plus ou moins solidaires - sous peine de se faire tirer par le bout du nez par la droite intelligente (oui, ça existe ;-) )

      1. Tu es militant/e indépendant/e ou autonome et tu fais un travail de solidarité concrète ou une activité comparable avec des familles de réfugiés.
      – Tu cherches à faire venir les autres membres de la famille de tes amis réfugiés et tu t’engages pour les frontières ouvertes parce que tu te rends compte de la souffrance causée par ces barrières artificielles et inhumainaies.

      2. Tu es syndicaliste et tu luttes pour améliorer revenus et condtions de travail alors que ton patron te dit tous les jours à quel point son entreprise est victime de la concurrence déloyale et illégale à cause de Bolkenstein mais surtout à cause du travail au noir par des immigrés chez vos concurrents.
      – Tu vas alors défendre chaque mesure qui protège toi et ton entreprise contre les abus décrit. Tu sera pour l’abolition de Bolkenstein, pour une limitation du nombre de nouveaux immigrés avec ou sans papiers, et tu vas militer pour l’application stricte des règles censées te protéger par les institutions compétentes.

      3. Tu es membre d’un parti de la gauche qui a des place dans une administration locale, un gouvernement régional ou national.
      – Tu vas d’abord défendre les intérêts des gens qui te sont proches (catégorie 1. uo 2.) et tu vas essayer de trouver des compromis entre ta position de gauche et les choses indispensables pour conserver ton poste de maire/ministre/député/secretaire etc. Lors de rencontres avec des militants sur le terrain tu vas essayer de comprendre leur perspective et et tu vas demander à tes aides de la faire entrer dans ta conception du travail d’administrateur ou de responsable de gouvernement.

      On discute, on discute, mais comment trouver une solution à ce dilemme ? Je ne parle pas des obstacles mis en place par par nos véritables adversaires et je parle comme si les contradictions entre les acteurs de gauche se reglaient à l’amiable ...

      Bref ... elle nous mène où cette discussion ?

    • Merci @aude_v d’avoir pensé à mentionner les « petits blancs » (pas forcément du « NPDC ») dans ton intervention à propos de leurs craintes concernant l’immigration et leur refus du prêt-à-porter de la pensée médiatique « mainstream ».
      Leurs peurs (légitimes ou pas d’ailleurs) liées à un fort sentiment de #déclassement risquent bien de se focaliser encore plus sur les « migrants » maintenant que des politiques soit disant « de gauche » viennent cautionner un racisme profondément ancré dans nos sociétés industrielles et « laborieuses ».
      Mais ce n’est pas trop pour le petit Européen blanc que je suis que je m’inquiète. C’est surtout pour les pays limitrophes qui accueillent majoritairement ces « migrants » : Turquie, Liban, Lybie, pays du Maghreb, Grèce, Pakistan où un tel afflux de populations déplacées a de graves conséquences vu les problèmes que connaissent déjà ces pays en matière de ressources en eaux et au regard de la déliquescence de leurs infrastructures et de leurs institutions.
      Quelle peut bien être la vie de toutes ces personnes déplacées dans de telles conditions ? Je n’ose me l’imaginer ... (Mais bon, ceci dit vu que je ne suis pas « politisé », mon intervention est-elle « légitime » ?)

    • C’est très bien ce qu’il dit. Malheureusement le terme « salubrité publique » est terni par son utilisation dans des contextes de droite. J’ai réfléchi sur la siginification d’une tele expression dans la bouche d’un conseiller de melenchon et je comprend que ce qui compte c’est son discours complet au sein duquel il faut situer l’expression.

      Est-ce qu’en déployant la rhétorique du « surnombre », en faisant le lien entre chômage et migration, on n’entre pas sur un terrain favorable à l’extrême droite ?

      Cette accusation est absurde. Elle émane d’une partie de la gauche - celle que je dénonçais tout à l’heure - qui a oublié les discours de Jaurès dans le « socialisme douanier » par exemple ! Lorsque vous êtes de gauche et que vous tenez sur l’immigration le même discours que le patronat, il y a quand même un problème… Ce que nous disons n’a rien de nouveau. C’est une analyse purement marxiste : le capital se constitue une armée de réserve. Lorsqu’il est possible de mal payer des travailleurs sans papiers, il y a une pression à la baisse sur les salaires. Cette analyse serait d’extrême droite ? Vous plaisantez.

    • Faire appel au concept d’#armée_de_réserve, c’est garder de Marx ce qu’il a élaboré de plus daté. Il y a pas (plus) d’armée de réserve dans le cadre d’une économie nationale (sur laquelle les #étatistes plus ou moins #chauvins restent focalisés). Que ce concept garde (?) une validité impliquerait de procéder à une sérieuse mise à jour - à nouveaux frais - pour « coller » à l’échelle transnationale qui marque l’actuel palier de la mondialisation capitaliste.

    • http://www.regards.fr/politique/article/reponse-a-djordje-kuzmanovic

      Dans un entretien publié sur site de l’Obs, Djordje Kuzmanovic, présenté comme le conseiller de Jean-Luc Mélenchon et candidat potentiel de la France insoumise aux prochaines européennes, affirme son soutien aux analyses de l’Allemande Sahra Wagenknecht, l’une des principales figures du parti Die Linke. Se fixant l’objectif « de ralentir, voire d’assécher les flux migratoires » par le recours à un « protectionnisme solidaire », il fustige « la bonne conscience de gauche ». « Lorsque vous êtes de gauche et que vous avez sur l’immigration le même discours que le patronat, il y a quand même un problème », assène-t-il. Mais n’est-on pas en droit de s’étonner plus encore quand, se réclamant de la gauche, on tient des propos qui pourraient être taxés de proches du discours d’extrême droite ?
      Laissons les polémiques malsaines au vestiaire. Discutons des arguments retenus.

    • Le plaidoyer de Martelli (ex-PC, ce parti bien connu pour son internationalisme dans Regards) pour « universalisation des droits » en vaut bien d’autres et il suffit à récuser le ces nouvelles gauches de droite qui se donnent pour emblèmes du #gros_concepts (armée de réserve, par exemple) faute d’analyse concrète. Martelli :

      Or, à l’échelle de la mondialisation, cette réduction [ des coûts salariaux] s’opère avant tout dans les zones de faible prix du travail, dans l’ensemble des pays du Sud, y compris les États dits émergents.

      Ce sont les masses laborieuses d’Asie, d’Afrique et d’Amérique latine qui pèsent le plus fortement en faveur de la réduction relative de la masse salariale. Les migrants le font à la marge. À la limite, en s’insérant dans des zones de niveaux salariaux plus élevés, ils nourriraient plutôt une tendance inverse à la hausse. À la limite toujours, c’est en restant chez eux que les travailleurs du Sud tirent la masse salariale de nos pays vers le bas. Là est l’ armée de réserve véritable.

      ... sauf que chez Martelli comme chez JLM et ses amis parler encore d’armée de réserve c’est s’éviter de parler de luttes et de conflictualité (contre le rouleau compresseur capitaliste, votons !), c’est ne pas prendre en compte, par exemple, la « rigidité des salaires à la baisse » comme disent les économistes. Les ateliers de l’usine monde où le capital enrégimente en masse la main d’oeuvre sont en proie à des luttes sur le salaire qui déstabilisent la production (sa division, son commandement). Les ouvriers sud coréens qui avaient arraché des hausses de salaire durant les années 80 qui leur avaient permis de dépasser le salaire ouvrier portugais ne sont pas un cas isolé ; aujourd’hui, ceux de la Chine du sud-est deviennent du fait de leurs luttes moins « compétitifs », idem pour ce qui est de quelques pays d’Europe de l’est (...).

      #salaire #gauchededroite3.0

    • Pareil que @colporteur. @klaus, je serais d’accord sur toi avec la difficulté à concilier les intérêts locaux et les principes universels (liberté de circulation) si je n’étais pas convaincue que la pression sur les salaires n’est pas exercée par les migrant·es mais plutôt par tout ce que le capitalisme organise comme mise en concurrence : Bolkenstein, libre-échange.

      ton patron te dit tous les jours à quel point son entreprise est victime de la concurrence déloyale et illégale à cause de Bolkenstein mais surtout à cause du travail au noir par des immigrés chez vos concurrents.

      Ton patron te raconte des craques !
      Comme le dit l’extrait précédent, il me semble que c’est en restant chez eux que les travailleurs des pays pauvres font la plus grosse concurrence. Outre qu’en France ils et elles représentent des chiffres assez ridicules (combien de Chinois·es à Paris dans des ateliers ? combien en Chine !), ils et elles ont, et encore plus quand c’est en famille, des besoins de rémunération plus proches du Smic que des rémunérations de leurs pays. Par exemple, en Indonésie un·e ouvrièr·e gagne bien sa vie avec 200 euros mensuels. Personne en France ne peut s’aligner, même pas un·e migrant·e. Et d’autant moins quand sa famille est ici.

      Je connais pas assez le sujet pour dire que la gauche qui met en avant la question des migrant·es colporte des mensonges mais ça me semble assez douteux économiquement et c’est faux, de dire que le capitalisme organise la circulation des biens comme des personnes (ça bloque pour les personnes !). Sur ce sujet, dans le contexte de haine qu’on connaît, dire des trucs faux, c’est criminel.

      Il faut trouver d’autre arguments pour donner envie aux petit·es blanc·hes déclassé·es de voter à gauche (je suis très sensible à leurs arguments parce que je suis dans la même merde et que chez EELV j’étais dedans-dehors, je savais que je risquais de retrouver le chômage, la difficulté à se loger autrement qu’en coloc, la peur de perdre mes minima sociaux, etc. tandis qu’eux et elles, c’étaient des petit·es bourges qui s’en branlaient, de cette misère). Une vision du monde qui ne soit pas simplement en léger décalage avec le fascisme mais constitue un choix radicalement différent. En plus, je crois que ces arguments seraient plus offensifs contre le capitalisme !

    • It’s complicated

      et tous ceux qui veulent qu’on vote pour eux sont des malfaisants qui ne savent pas appréhender la complexité.

      A une époque, on disait que Rocard était mauvais parce qu’il avait toujours un discours trop complexe. Parce qu’en effet, il essayait sans doute trop de développer un argumentaire complet.

      Ce débat, au moins, nous permet tous, collectivement, d’appréhender cette complexité.

      Tiens, maintenant qu’on la touche du doigt, comment on écrit un « manifeste » un minimum concret afin de convaincre la masse d’y adhérer ? Et comment on fait pour s’assurer qu’il ne prête pas à la critique par simplifications ou occultations involontaires du fait de la contrainte du format ?

      Au moins, à l’extrême droite, ils n’ont pas ce genre de difficultés. C’est blanc et noir et on vote pour le chef.

    • Depuis le passage à la subsomption réelle avec la révolution industrielle, jusqu’à la fin des « trente glorieuses » (en fait, trente piteuses, faudrait-il dire), la valorisation du capital s’est faite sur la base d’une concurrence s’exerçant au sein de zones où le niveau de productivité était relativement homogène (Par exemple, les pays du centre capitaliste : États-Unis, Europe et Japon d’une part, et l’URSS et ses satellites européens d’autre part). Il y avait des disparités au sein de ces zones, mais elles n’étaient pas aussi étirées que celles que nous connaissons aujourd’hui, puisque dorénavant tout est intégré à un niveau global.

      Un des enjeux de l’introduction massive des nouvelles technologies de l’information et de la communication dans la restructuration de l’appareil productif au tournant des années 1970, c’était de pouvoir orchestrer massivement la valorisation du capital en combinant des activités ayant des niveaux de productivité très hétérogènes, en allant chercher des opportunités de valorisation dans le tiers-monde.

      Pour cela, il a fallu effectivement rendre la circulation des capitaux et des marchandises encore plus fluide, tandis que la circulation des personnes (en fait des travailleuses et des travailleurs) était entravée de façon à conserver cette juxtaposition des zones à niveaux de productivité très différents. Leur intégration dans un cycle global de valorisation était devenue possible avec les NTIC et s’est traduit par le phénomène qu’on a appelé délocalisation qui, au delà du déplacement anecdotique de l’appareil productif correspondait plutôt à un mouvement de « multilocalisation » de cet appareil. Ce mouvement nécessitait en retour de fixer les travailleurs sur place, non pas pour les empêcher d’exercer une pression à la baisse sur les salaires des zones à haute productivité, mais pour maintenir les conditions structurelles de ce nouveau régime de valorisation du capital.

      Ainsi, les travailleurs des zones de haute productivité ont tout d’abord voulu freiner le mouvement car ils constataient la disparition des sites industriels qui les employaient massivement, moins du fait de leur déplacement dans le tiers-monde (parfois beaucoup moins loin d’ailleurs avec la sous-traitance) que parce que ces sites n’étaient pas adaptés à la production fragmentée et « liquide » requise par le mode de production restructurée autour des NTIC.

      Mais lorsqu’à partir des années 1990, ils constatent que la force de travail à haute productivité reste globalement la gagnante (relative, certes) de ce mode de production, alors s’engage un glissement des discours portés par les organisations la représentant (partis et syndicats) qui tend à faire du travailleur immigré, non plus le camarade qui lutte coude à coude pour la transformation des rapports de production (par l’amélioration des conditions aussi bien que dans le perspective de leur abolition) mais le perturbateur d’un équilibre précaire. L’immigré devient celui qui ne reste pas à sa place et met en danger le deal (fragile) de la division du travail productif entre zones de productivité hétérogènes sur lequel s’appuie le capital depuis quatre décennies au moins.

      L’argument des migrants comme « armée de réserve » du capital est donc obsolète depuis au moins quarante ans et ne fait que bégayer un slogan « marxiste » à l’encontre d’une analyse marxienne de la dynamique du capital.

    • Au moins, à l’extrême droite, ils n’ont pas ce genre de difficultés. C’est blanc et noir et on vote pour le chef.

      Pour le coup, c’est précisément un point précieux : certes, on perd du temps et des alliances, mais c’est comme quand on critique la démocratie actuelle : si on va dans le sens de plus de démocratie, de délibération, d’un maximum de gens impliqués, il faut s’attendre à ce que ce soit long, et chiant, et pas facile. Aucune solution miracle de ce point de vue.

      Il y a bien des tensions, immenses, entre les idées et leur radicalité et un programme populaire et mobilisateur. Mais trouver des solutions à ce problème ne devrait jamais impliquer de renoncer à des valeurs fondamentales.

    • (...) Cependant, ce n’est plus par la politique démocratique qu’il faut défendre ce qui fonde la civilisation, mais contre elle.

      Qui aspire à l’appropriation émancipatrice de l’ensemble du système social et à sa transformation peut difficilement ignorer l’instance qui, jusqu’à présent, en organise les conditions générales. Il est impossible de se révolter contre l’expropriation des potentiels sociaux sans se trouver confrontés à l’État. Car l’État ne gère pas seulement à peu près la moitié de la richesse sociale : il garantit aussi la subordination de tous les potentiels sociaux aux impératifs de la valorisation. De même que les ennemis du travail ne peuvent ignorer l’État et la politique, de même ils refuseront de jouer le jeu de l’État et de la politique.

      Puisque la fin du travail est aussi la fin de la politique, un mouvement politique pour le dépassement du travail serait une contradiction dans les termes. Les ennemis du travail font valoir des revendications face à l’État, mais ils ne constituent pas un parti politique et ils n’en constitueront jamais un. Le but de la politique ne peut être que la conquête de l’appareil d’État pour perpétuer la société de travail. Les ennemis du travail ne veulent donc pas s’emparer des commandes du pouvoir, mais les détruire. Leur lutte n’est pas politique, elle est antipolitique.

      Puisque à l’époque moderne l’État et la politique se confondent avec le système coercitif du travail, ils doivent disparaître avec lui. Tout le verbiage à propos d’une renaissance de la politique n’est que la tentative désespérée de ramener la critique de l’horreur économique à une action étatique positive. Mais l’auto-organisation et l’autodétermination sont le contraire même de l’État et de la politique. La conquête de libres espaces socio-économiques et culturels ne s’effectue pas par les voies détournées de la politique, voies hiérarchiques ou fausses, mais par la constitution d’une contre-société.

      Voilà un manifeste qui n’oublie rien : le travail, la politique, la démocratie... Et l’auto-organisation en guise de solution de remplacement. Mais de préférence une auto-organisation qui ne reproduit pas les institutions précédentes, j’imagine.

      Ce manifeste est chouette, mais tu le mets entre les mains d’un journaliste, il en fait quoi ? Il dit que ce nouveau mouvement politique est ultra.... ultra-chouette ? ultra-révolutionnaire... ultra-incompréhensible ?

      Quoiqu’on en dise, il y a le but, et il y a le chemin pour atteindre ce but. Ce chemin, c’est assez souvent ce qui va faire que les gens vont adhérer ou pas. Avec ce manifeste, le chemin, il ne transparait pas d’une façon évidente. Mais ce n’est sans doute pas son objet évidemment.

    • @biggrizzly

      Voilà un manifeste qui n’oublie rien : le travail, la politique, la démocratie...

      Et aussi le genre...

      Sans l’espace social séparé que constituent les formes d’activités « féminines », la société de travail n’aurait jamais pu fonctionner. Cet espace est à la fois sa condition tacite et son résultat spécifique.

      Ce qui précède vaut également pour les stéréotypes sexuels qui se sont généralisés à mesure que le système de production marchande se développait. Ce n’est pas un hasard si l’image de la femme gouvernée par l’émotion et l’irrationnel, la nature et les pulsions ne s’est figée, sous la forme de préjugé de masse, qu’en même temps que celle de l’homme travailleur et créateur de culture, rationnel et maître de soi. Et ce n’est pas un hasard non plus si l’autodressage de l’homme blanc en fonction des exigences insolentes du travail et de la gestion étatique des hommes que le travail impose est allé de pair avec des siècles de féroce « chasse aux sorcières ».

      @biggrizzly

      Ce manifeste est chouette, mais tu le mets entre les mains d’un journaliste, il en fait quoi ? Il dit que ce nouveau mouvement politique est ultra.... ultra-chouette ? ultra-révolutionnaire... ultra-incompréhensible ?

      Il en fait quoi ?...

      S’il s’agit du journaliste comme travailleur du secteur d’activités particuliers que sont les médias, alors il en fera une marchandise, un truc à vendre sans égard pour son contenu propre. Sans animosité ni avidité, mais simplement parce que c’est le rôle que lui attribuent (et avec lui, à toute la sphère médiatique) les nécessités de la société du travail

      S’il s’agit du journaliste comme individu particulier doté de sa subjectivité propre, on ne peut pas savoir ce qu’il en fera. Peut-être mettra-t-il son mouchoir dessus pour ne pas avoir à faire face à ses propres contradictions, peut-être essayera-t-il d’en parler autour de lui, à ses collègues, à ses proches. Qui sait ?

    • @aude_v Nous savons que les patrons défendent leur propre petite vérité qui est dictée par la concurrence quotidienne. Pourtant il y a de plus en plus de signes qui annoncent l’écroulement d’un monde dans lequel on avait pris l’habitude de s’arranger. C’est un désastre pour le petits gens.

      La gauche doit alors leurs apporter des solutions concrètes et les protéger contre ces menaces.

      Ce sont d’abord les petits patrons qui se rendent compte qu’ils perdent des contrat à cause des entreprises étrangères, ensuite ce sont les ouvriers qui ont du mal à communiquer avec les collègues de chantier parce qu’il s’est transformené dans une sorte de tour de babel. Les clients enfin remarquent qu’on ne leur fournit plus la qualité d’une entreprise homologuée avec des employés formés d’après les normes qu’on avait pris pour des valeurs sûres. Les prix ne baissent pourtant pas. Les clients (je pense surtout aux locataieres d’immeubles qui ne sont pas les clients directs des entreprises du bâtiment) ne connaissent pas mais se dountent des ruses des intermédiaires qui encaissent les profits supplémentaires devenus possible par les salaires en baisse constante.

      On a un problème parce que la gauche (ici plus précisément le parti Die Linke) refuse explicitement de soutenir des solutions au problème de la baisse des salaires. Quand tu parles avec des responsables de la gauche au gouvernement, donc avec les personnes qui sont en mesure d’appliquer des mesures concrètes, tu mènes un dialogue de sourds.

      Les mécanismes administratifs, parlementaires et politiques font que personne n’a envie de prendre des initiatives qui n’ont pas encore été homologuées par les instances occultes et officielles du parti. On a besoin de deux à trois années de travail dans les commisions du parti avant qu’un sujet ou une revendication se trouve sur l’ordre du jour d’un congrès régional ou national. Encore faut-il que personne ne te mette des bâtons dans les roues ce qui est toujour possible si du donnes l’impression de vouloir mettre en question (au choix) la position le poste / la réputation de quelqu’un qui fait partie de l’appareil. Ce n’est pas seulement le cas pour des problèmes syndicales. Les éco-socialistes ont le même problème. Tout le mond est d’accord qu’il faut lutter contre le capitalisme pour sauver l’environnement et que les verts ne font plus leurs travail, mais tu n’arriveras pas à transformer cette idée en politique concrète parce qu’il te faudra faire la queue et respecter l’ordre du jour.

      Tu comprends un peu pourquoi un mouvement indépendant fait peur ? Ce contexte explique les fausses accusations et réactions agressives. Il y a trop de personnes employé par l’appareil qui risquent de perde leur poste bien payé.

      Ici on peut discuter sur la meilleure ligne politique à suivre, mais dans un premier temps il faudrait enfin pouvoir agir au lieu de perdre son temps avec des procédures.

      #gauche #bureaucratie

    • Macron, il arrive à faire baisser les rémunérations (c’est un peu son cœur de métier, son prooojet) tout en laissant les gens à la mer ! C’est pour ça que je suis convaincue qu’on peut refuser les deux en même temps. Mais pour l’expliquer, c’est autre chose... et j’ai l’impression que ce n’est pas vraiment le chemin pris par nos camarades, qu’ils et elles seront récompensé·es par l’ingratitude de classes populaires allant voir à la source des discours xénophobes.

      Dans le gouvernement représentatif, il y a une grande #captivité à l’égard des appareils, des procédures, et c’est dans le meilleur des cas, quand les partis ont eux-mêmes une culture démocratique (ce qu’ils ne sont pas tenus d’avoir). Pour avoir vu d’assez près, de 1999 à 2015, la misère des Verts, je suis assez blasée, d’autant que j’ai de l’estime pour certaines des personnes que j’y ai rencontrées.

    • Je ne comprend toujours pas très bien le point cardinal de #Aufstehen. Ce que j’ai pu voir c’est un procès consultatif en ligne, une sorte de #RFC collectif qui doit, je pense, mener vers quelque chose qui sera le programme du « mouvement ». On verra bien.

    • A la demande de Jean-Luc Mélenchon, nous avons rectifié le titre de D. Kuzmanovic, initialement présenté comme son « conseiller » "Le point de vue qu’il exprime sur l’immigration est strictement personnel. Il engage des polémiques qui ne sont pas les miennes"

      Timothée Vilars
      https://twitter.com/TimoVilars/status/1039532108119764993

      et donc -> « ... Entretien avec Djordje Kuzmanovic, orateur de la France insoumise. »

      Dont acte, mais décidément, Wagenknecht ou Mélenchon, sur le sujet, quelle obscure clarté malodorante.

    • Et au moment où on s’y attendait le moins, Philippe Martinez assène quelques vérités. Il était temps :

      https://www.lemonde.fr/idees/article/2018/09/26/philippe-martinez-ce-n-est-pas-l-immigration-qui-cree-du-dumping-social-mais

      Nous ne faisons pas face à une invasion de migrants et notre pays doit accueillir humainement et dignement ceux qui fuient leurs pays. Cela se nomme la fraternité.
      Ces salariés font partie intégrante de la classe ouvrière ! Ce n’est pas l’immigration qui crée du dumping social mais l’absence de droits !...

      #paywall (désolé)

    • ... et Mélenchon de célébrer ce soutien, avant manifestement de se raviser, sans doute sur la forme plutôt que sur le fond — il allumait Mediapart, Politis, Regards, le PCF « et autres castors du dénigrement à n’importe quel prix de la LFI » :

      https://twitter.com/laurencedecock1/status/1045572166165700608

      (NB ce monsieur se permet par ailleurs de donner en ce moment des leçons sur le racisme. Mediapart, Politis et Regards lancent de leur côté le manifeste pour l’accueil des migrants.)

    • Les journalistes qui feignent l’indignation à l’écoute de Mme Wagenknecht ne peuvent ignorer que la plupart des partis européens appuient une politique beaucoup plus restrictive. En 2017, le candidat Emmanuel Macron promettait d’« accueillir dignement les réfugiés qui ont droit à la protection de la France. Les autres seront reconduits sans délai vers leur pays afin qu’ils ne deviennent pas des immigrés clandestins ». Aucun média français n’avait alors décrit En marche ! comme un « mouvement antimigrants ». Et Libération titrait en « une » (6-7 mai 2017) : « Faites ce que vous voulez, mais votez Macron ».

      Pierre Rimbert

      Gauche antimigrants, une fable médiatique

      https://seenthis.net/messages/725854

    • Le 6 octobre avec l’Aquarius

      L’Aquarius est désormais un nom connu. Ce bateau opère en Méditerranée depuis presque trois ans. Il a mené 230 opérations de sauvetage et secouru 29 523 personnes menacées de noyade. Ce sont des hommes, femmes ou enfants, migrants ou réfugiés, en danger de mort lors de la traversée de la Méditerranée. Compte tenu de sa mission et de l’état des gens au moment du secours, l’Aquarius opère en partenariat avec Médecins sans Frontières. Mais il est affrété par SOS Méditerranée. Cette association de sauvetage en mer n’a-t-elle pas reçu en 2017 le label « grande cause » de la part du gouvernement français ? Le même gouvernement qui aujourd’hui ferme les yeux à chaque fois que l’Aquarius en appelle à lui. Tels sont les hypocrites qui nous gouvernent !

      Ces derniers mois, l’Aquarius a été la cible de lourdes manœuvres politiques pour mettre un terme à sa mission de sauvetage en criminalisant ses équipages. Après la fermeture des ports italiens, il y a une difficulté répétée à trouver un port sûr pour débarquer les rescapés. Enfin, l’Aquarius été attaqué par l’État sous le pavillon duquel il naviguait. Le navire s’est ainsi vu retirer deux fois son pavillon en un mois : d’abord par Gibraltar, puis par le Panama, sous pression de l’Italie. L’Italie de Salvini a en effet menacé de ne plus laisser entrer dans ses eaux un navire sous pavillon panaméen. Puis elle s’est plainte de ce que « le navire ait refusé de ramener les migrants et réfugiés secourus à leur lieu d’origine ». Or, le droit international ordonne qu’un navire débarque des survivants au port le plus sûr et le plus proche. Le prétexte juridique de l’Italie ne vaut rien. La seule raison d’agir contre le pavillon de l’Aquarius est politique.

      Emmanuel Macron n’est pas passé loin de l’Aquarius quand il était à Marseille, avec Madame Merkel le 7 septembre dernier. Il annonçait incarner alors un grand mouvement « progressiste » face aux « nationalistes » Matteo Salvini et Viktor Orban. Mais « en même temps », il se faisait le plus proche complice de Salvini en jouant au Roi du silence. Il y a un an, il annonçait « Nous devons accueillir les réfugiés, c’est notre devoir et notre honneur ». Et en même temps, il refuse à plusieurs reprise de leur ouvrir les ports français. D’après ses propres mots, donc, le gouvernement français a failli à son devoir et terni notre honneur.

      Les navires de sauvetage sont empêchés dans leur mission ; l’obligation de porter assistance en mer n’est donc plus respectée. La solidarité et l’humanité sont criminalisées, en mer mais aussi à terre comme on a pu le voir avec la persécution de Cédric Herrou. Sans pavillon, le navire ne pourra plus opérer. D’autres vies seront alors sacrifiées en silence aux portes de l’Europe. Les gouvernements se rendent donc coupables de non assistance à personnes en danger.

      Porter assistance aux personnes en détresse en mer est une obligation que les États doivent respecter. Toutes les manoeuvres visant à criminaliser les sauveteurs et travailleurs humanitaires sont une honte. Qu’est-ce qui empêche les États européens d’octroyer un pavillon au navire pour permettre à l’équipage de l’Aquarius de reprendre sa mission de sauvetage ? Pourquoi refuser d’établir un modèle de sauvetage européen en Méditerranée, incluant un mécanisme prévisible et pérenne de débarquement des rescapés dans un port sûr ?

      Des êtres humains meurent en Méditerranée chaque jour ! Neuf morts par jour ! L’Aquarius, avec le soutien de la société civile, tente de les secourir. C’est le moment d’agir. Face à la défaillance des gouvernement européens, c’est au peuple de se mobiliser. Pour cela on peut donner sa signature à la pétition internationale lancée par SOS Méditerranée. Il faut aussi rejoindre les rassemblements qui auront lieu dans toute l’Europe le 6 octobre prochain. Soyons nombreuses et nombreux dans toute la France à le faire. Nous ferons des « vagues oranges », couleur des gilets de sauvetage et de l’Aquarius. Ou bien les mots « humanité universelle » ne veulent plus rien dire.
      Jlm

    • LA GAUCHE À L’ÉPREUVE DE L’IMMIGRATION - VRAIMENT POLITIQUE

      La naissance en Allemagne d’un courant politique de gauche appelant à réguler l’immigration, aura suffi à rallumer la guerre des gauches dans notre pays. A nouveau la France Insoumise se retrouve sous le feu des critiques de la quasi totalité des autres forces progressistes. Aujourd’hui certains évoquent un risque de régression populiste des mouvements émancipateurs, tandis que se lancent des appels de personnalités pour exiger l’accueil inconditionnel des migrants. Cet été pourtant, le pouvoir macronien a fait voter la loi la plus dure qu’un gouvernement de la 5ème République ait promulgué contre l’immigration, mais la gauche semble plus préoccupée par ses propres dissensions. L’immigration sera-t-elle à nouveau le sujet interdisant tout rassemblement ? Faut-il abandonner la question du contrôle des flux migratoires aux droites extrêmes qui pointent désormais partout en Europe ? Jusqu’à quand laisserons-nous la Méditerranée se transformer en cimetière marin ? Voici quelques-unes des questions qui seront abordées dans cette nouvelle édition de « Vraiment Politique », le grand live mensuel de la rédaction du Média.

      https://youtu.be/ok21QOC7pBo?t=7



      https://www.lemediatv.fr/les-programmes/vraiment-politique/6-la-gauche-a-lepreuve-de-limmigration">

    • Du coup je rappelle le lien puisqu’il ne figure pas dans ce fil :

      https://www.monde-diplomatique.fr/2017/03/CYRAN/57230
      (L’Allemagne et les réfugiés, deux ans après
      Un grand élan de solidarité, mais une xénophobie qui progresse)

      Et pour la France, sur la situation à gauche, avec un rappel des déclarations pré-wagenknechtiennes de Mélenchon :

      https://www.liberation.fr/france/2018/10/01/immigration-fracture-a-gauche_1682469

      Encore une fois, c’est pas parce que les médias et la droite s’amusent à appuyer où ça fait mal qu’il faut refuser de se poser les bonnes questions et d’essayer de trouver les bonnes réponses.

      Là tout ce que je vois c’est de la bataille tactique politicienne à deux balles, assez hypocrite, superficielle et loin des enjeux véritables.

    • Immigration : Clémentine Autain, au ban des Insoumis

      https://www.liberation.fr/france/2018/10/05/immigration-clementine-autain-au-ban-des-insoumis_1683502

      (Vous remarquerez au passage que monsieur Mélenchon n’avait pas été aussi vache avec monsieur Kuzmanovic, mais ce qu’il avait fait était beaucoup moins grave, hum, hum.)

      Pour archive, le texte d’Autain sur facebook :

      MIGRANTS. MENER LA BATAILLE

      Face aux renoncements et tergiversations des États à accueillir l’Aquarius, à la montée des droites extrêmes en Europe, à la propagation d’une xénophobie décomplexée, nous ne pouvons pas rester l’arme aux pieds.

      C’est pourquoi l’appel lancé par Regards, Mediapart et Politis rencontre un large succès. De Lilian Thuram à Josiane Balasko, de Thomas Picketty à Assa Traore, de Romane Bohringer à Sophie Wahnich, d’Annie Ernaux à Guillaume Meurice, 150 personnalités ont joint leurs forces à des collectifs militants pour donner de la voix en soutien aux migrants. La pétition en ligne engrange des dizaines de milliers de signatures citoyennes. Ce n’est pas rien.

      Dans le même temps, SOS Méditerranée a lancé une pétition pour sauver l’Aquarius, en demandant aux gouvernements de prendre leurs responsabilités et en appelant à une grande mobilisation citoyenne. L’ONG appelle à manifester le 6 octobre dans toute l’Europe. L’initiative est particulièrement bienvenue.

      Les réponses de Salvini et Macron, qui multiplient les atteintes aux droits fondamentaux, les murs et les contrôles, qui nourrissent le rejet et la rhétorique d’un danger immigré doivent être combattues sans relâche. C’est d’ailleurs ce que nous avons fait à l’Assemblée nationale lors des débats sur la loi asile-immigration. À Gérard Collomb, nous avons dit et redit que leur présupposé de « submersion migratoire » était faux – le flux migratoire est globalement stable en Europe depuis plusieurs décennies – et que leur obsession à durcir les conditions d’accueil, jusqu’à l’enfermement de mineurs, était une folie. Le moulin de l’extrême droite fut ici comme ailleurs bien alimenté par la macronie, pourtant arrivée au pouvoir grâce au rejet de l’extrême droite… Dans ce paysage politique qui voit prospérer les idées xénophobes et, avec elle, des décisions dangereuses du point de vue des droits humains, la bataille contre ce qui fait le miel des droites extrêmes et du fascisme doit être menée sans ambiguïté.

      La façon dont Emmanuel Macron entend instrumentaliser la question est évidemment un piège. Il tente de se donner un visage moral face au FN en racontant une fable sur la question migratoire. La réalité est pourtant têtue : la macronie enfourche les recettes d’une droite radicalisée. La France n’a pas su accueillir l’Aquarius et la loi asile-immigration a mis en œuvre bien des rêves répressifs de la droite dure. Nous ne laisserons donc pas la macronie installer cette fausse bipartition, eux versus le FN. Nous tiendrons tête.

      Notre voix sur cette question capitale est celle qui défend des vies humaines et des symboles. Prendre à bras le corps le combat en faveur des migrants est un parti pris humaniste et stratégique. Pour le camp de la transformation sociale et écologiste, il n’y a pas de victoire possible dans les têtes comme dans les urnes sans une contre-offensive assumée sur l’enjeu migratoire. Ce fil à plomb que nous avons à tenir au long court participe de l’imaginaire, des batailles sociales, du projet politique d’une gauche de rupture. Ne pas céder une once de terrain aux adversaires sur cette question me semble indispensable pour faire grandir notre conception du monde. J’invite de ce point de vue à regarder la saga documentaire de Françoise Davisse et Carl Aderhold diffusé sur France 2 en prime time et retraçant 150 ans d’histoire de France par le prisme de l’accueil des migrants. Où l’on se rappellera combien cette question fut, à des périodes décisives, très structurantes d’un point de vue politique… J’invite également à lire la tribune dans Le Monde de Philippe Martinez, secrétaire général de la CGT, qui appelle à la fraternité entre tous les travailleurs et rappelle que le dumping social tient davantage à l’inégalité des droits et non à la présence d’immigrés.

      Le récit que nous faisons, les thèmes que nous choisissons de porter en avant sur la question migratoire ne sont évidemment pas neutres. Mettre l’accent sur les causes des migrations ou bannir toute évocation de la liberté de circulation comme horizon, comme s’il s’agissait d’une ligne « no border » – à noter que le spectre des signataires de l’appel Regards, Politis, Mediapart est en l’occurrence si large qu’il me parait curieux d’y voir une mainmise « gauchiste » - ne me convainc pas. Ma conviction est qu’il ne faut donner aucun point à nos adversaires sur les termes du débat. Quand nous disons vouloir combattre le pouvoir de la finance, commençons-nous par égrener les difficultés bien réelles, comme la fuite des capitaux ? Non. Est-ce que, pour autant, nous ne prenons pas en compte la complétude du problème qui nous rendrait crédible à gouverner ? Je ne le crois pas. Nous menons une bataille d’idées, une confrontation politique. Celle-ci suppose de valoriser avant tout le sens et le cœur de notre proposition.

      Des voix s’élèvent pour dénoncer dans cet appel une diversion. Il ne faudrait pas parler des migrants car la question centrale, notamment pour les élections européennes qui s’annoncent, est ailleurs, dans la contestation de l’austérité et du libéralisme économique, l’enjeu migratoire n’étant qu’une entreprise de détournement des « vrais enjeux ». Comme si on pouvait échapper au moment politique qui est le nôtre, si bouillant sur la question migratoire. Bien sûr, ce n’est pas nous qui avons choisi d’en faire un thème de prédilection, et pour une bonne raison : nous contestons le fait que les immigrés soient considérés comme la grande cause des crises contemporaines. Il n’est pas question de courber l’échine devant l’agenda imposé par nos adversaires. Mais la façon dont le sujet émerge et s’impose dans le débat public nous oblige à mener la bataille. Oui, deux visions du monde s’affrontent.

      L’accusation de diversion me rappelle par ailleurs des querelles anciennes, quand on nous expliquait qu’il fallait mener la révolution prolétarienne et les droits des immigrés ou des femmes seraient réglés dans la foulée, quand on nous rabâchait la centralité de la lutte des classes, en ces temps où défendre les lesbiennes et les gays ou l’environnement était perçu comme une entreprise de diversion au regard du combat central. C’était avant Mai 68. Je me bats contre la dichotomie entre le social et le sociétal parce qu’en réalité, les sujets s’entremêlent. Je ne suis pas favorable à une approche reposant sur l’addition de luttes sectorielles, avec sa hiérarchie ancienne, mais pour une conception qui agrège et dégage du sens commun. Notre vision politique doit embrasser la cohérence de tous les combats émancipateurs.

    • ... vous vous rendez compte quand même que l’argument de fond le plus récurrent c’est que la FI est moins à droite que Macron et aufstehen que le SPD (quand c’est pas l’AfD) ? ...

      ... et que des militants de la FI se font passer pour des martyrs sur le dos des migrants ...

      (désolé d’insister y a un truc qui passe pas, là)

      #capitulation #petits_calculs #droitisation

    • @zorba : j’avoue humblement que je ne comprends pas ce que tu dis depuis le début. Je rigole en pensant que la campagne de Mélenchon en... 2012 ? était critiquée parce qu’il avait fait un discours très... choquant pour les partisans du grand remplacement. Et qu’un certain nombre de personnes là, font un procès en sorcellerie à partir d’éléments de langage des journaux capitalistes et des apparatchiks correspondants.
      Je lisais un compte-rendu sur les manifs du WE au sujet de SOS Méditerranée, et souriais en constatant qu’il y avait un tiers de l’article, avec titraille correspondante, pour nous expliquer que Brossa et Hamon avaient un avis sur la question. Ce n’est pas comme si la FI et JLM appelaient à se joindre à ces manifestations depuis plusieurs jours déjà.

    • Les « éléments de langage » dont tu parles (pression à la baisse sur les salaires, concurrence entre les pauvres, etc.) sont bien ceux, littéralement, de Wagenknecht et de Mélenchon, les têtes de gondole de ces partis politiques, et ces petits calculs et positionnements politiciens, soit disant pour ménager les prolos xénophobes et racistes, n’ont pas que des conséquences symboliques anecdotiques par les temps qui courent.

      Maintenant, entre un appel qui ne sert le plus souvent qu’à se compter et une pétition de soutien au caritatif, on ne peut pas dire que sur le sujet les représentants institutionnels de la gauche française brillent par leur audace et leur assurance, en effet.

  • Israel’s stupid, ignorant and amoral betrayal of the truth on Polish involvement in the Holocaust

    We accepted the mendacious official Polish narrative, and swallowed it. And we legitimized the government’s campaign to harass, fine and impoverish Polish liberals, academics, journalists and simply honest people who expose Poles’ involvement in the crimes of the Holocaust

    Yehuda BauerSendSend me email alerts
    Jul 04, 2018

    https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-okay-so-the-poles-didn-t-murder-jews-1.6242474

    The Polish and Israeli governments have reached an agreement on an amendment to the Polish law that states that claiming that Poland as a country, or the Polish people, were responsible for crimes committed by the Nazis is a criminal offense punishable by up to three years in prison. According to the agreement, this criminal aspect was removed.
    The Polish government passed the law to begin with to defend its good name against accusations that many Poles took part in the murder of Jews during the Holocaust. And who will decide on the historical facts? According to the Poles, it will be the Institute of National Remembrance, which is run by the politicians controlling the country today.
    And so according to the law – even after the agreement with Israel – the government will determine what happened in the past via historians in its service, and this narrative cannot be critiqued by historians, independent researchers or others. Is this acceptable to the Israeli government?
    >> With Nationalists in Power, Can Jews Ever Feel at Home in Poland? | Opinion ■ The Polish were once victims of historical whitewashing. Now they are doing the same | Analysis >> 
    The joint announcement by Israel and Poland also states that many segments of Polish society helped Jews. This position diminishes the heroism of Poland’s Righteous Among the Nations because the noble-spirited Polish rescuers had to hide not only from the Germans, but also, and perhaps mainly, from their Polish neighbors.
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    Yad Vashem has recognized some 6,750 Polish Righteous Among the Nations. They are a small and courageous minority. Unfortunately, the social norm that was accepted in occupied Poland was completely different: The usual conduct was not to help Jews, but to harm them, and many Poles were involved in the persecution of Jews. Europeans’ cooperation with the Nazi death machine was widespread, of course, not only in Poland. But in other countries, scholars who uncover this can’t be penalized.
    As for the abrogation of the criminal aspect of the law, let’s not forget that this also means eliminating the exception of historians and literary figures whose profession is to write about this subject. From now on they too, and of course also journalists, educators, politicians and others, can be sued for revealing historical truths. Eliminating the criminal aspect lifts the threat of imprisonment and fines in criminal proceedings, but not punishment in civil proceedings.
    In fact, the revamped law encourages civil suits against Poles who claim that a good many Poles were involved in persecuting Jews. Naturally, this claim is correct. There were Poles who gave Jews up to the Polish police, who in turn gave them to the Germans. There were those who turned Jews in directly to the Germans, and there were those who murdered Jews themselves.

    The clauses of the law that still stand can, apparently, be imposed via civil proceedings against anyone claiming that the main motives for persecuting Jews were the anti-Semitism of a good many Poles and the greed of Poles who on a huge scale throughout Poland stole the possessions of those who were deported and murdered.
    The Law and Justice party now rules Poland, with a decisive majority in parliament. In fact, the government is in the hands of the party chairman, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, who in this is imitating Stalin, who controlled the Soviet Union from his position as head of the Bolshevik party. Kaczynski and his party are of course anti-Communist, so their rule can be defined as Bolshevik anti-Communism.
    >> Opinion: Neither Poland nor Israel can afford their fixation with the past >> 
    Kaczynski announced a few days ago that preparations are already being made in civil courts to sue offenders. These people could be required to pay high fines.
    Polish liberals, academics, journalists and simply honest people who want to expose the acts of harassment by Poles against Jews during the Holocaust could risk impoverishment and loss of livelihood. It may be assumed that their research funding will be reduced or eliminated, and honest people will be removed from their jobs. Poland will quickly become an illiberal democracy, the term favored by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who supports this nationalist-populist revolt and will receive a royal welcome by the Israeli government on his upcoming visit here.
    The declaration by Warsaw and Jerusalem legitimizes this betrayal by the Israeli government of the historical truth, the memory of the Holocaust and the marvelous people in Poland who investigated the facts on which we base our criticism. And for what did the Israeli government sacrifice truth and justice? For its current economic, security and political interests, which are more important than some Holocaust that happened 70 or 80 years ago.
    We accepted the mendacious official Polish narrative, and swallowed it. If we come now to the Americans or the Europeans with complaints against what this generates in Poland, they’ll answer us, and rightfully, that the Israeli government accepted the Polish facts. I don’t know what was going on here – ignorance, stupidity or the clear amoral victory of transient interests that will remain with us as an eternal disgrace. And perhaps it was simply betrayal.

  • High-wire : a vertiginous ride in Chiatura’s Soviet-era cable cars — The Calvert Journal

    https://www.calvertjournal.com/photography/show/10327/chiatura-cable-cars-soviet-georgia-photography

    Chiatura, a once-booming mining town in western Georgia, won’t strike you as a quintessential tourist destination. The city’s only landmark is the Mgvimevi monastery, set on the edge of a natural cave. Chiatura’s main attraction, however, is “Stalin’s rope road”, a network of cable cars built in the 1950s to transport workers to the manganese mines in the mountains. After visiting Chiatura in 2010, photographer Lasse Ihlow returned in late 2017 to photograph the remains of the mining industry. “The only way I could discern that time passed was through the faded paint jobs on the houses and cable cars,” he reveals of a city where time seems to stand still. His photos show the farthest cable cars at the eastern end of the valley, where most of the active mines are located. “A majority of the working population is still dependent on the mining industry, which is in decline. The city is visited regularly by daring tourists who pass through for a thrilling ride on the city’s main cable car, before traveling on.” Few stay longer than a day, travelling in from Tbilisi or Kutaisi, sometimes only for a few hours. Though a ride on the cable-cars is a must, the photographer recommends heading to Chiatura for more than a flying visit: “Everyone is welcoming and hospitable, always ready to share their famous Georgian wine and talk despite the communication barrier.”

    #géorgie #caucase #soviétisme

  • Nomads and Soviet Rule: Central Asia under Lenin and Stalin

    The nomads of Central Asia were already well accustomed to life under the power of a distant capital when the Bolsheviks fomented revolution on the streets of Petrograd. Yet after the fall of the Tsar, the nature, ambition and potency of that power would change dramatically, ultimately resulting in the near eradication of Central Asian nomadism.

    Based on extensive primary source work in Almaty, Bishkek and Moscow, Nomads and Soviet Rule charts the development of this volatile and brutal relationship and challenges the often repeated view that events followed a linear path of gradually escalating violence. Rather than the sedentarisation campaign being an inevitability born of deep-rooted Marxist hatred of the nomadic lifestyle, Thomas demonstrates the Soviet state’s treatment of nomads to be far more complex and pragmatic. He shows how Soviet policy was informed by both an anti-colonial spirit and an imperialist impulse, by nationalism as well as communism, and above all by a lethal self-confidence in the Communist Party’s ability to transform the lives of nomads and harness the agricultural potential of their landscape. This is the first book to look closely at the period between the revolution and the collectivisation drive, and offers fresh insight into a little-known aspect of early Soviet history. In doing so, the book offers a path to refining conceptions of the broader history and dynamics of the Soviet project in this key period.


    https://www.ibtauris.com/Books/Humanities/History/History-earliest-times-to-present-day/20th-century-history-c-1900--to-c-2000/Nomads-and-Soviet-Rule-Central-Asia-under-Lenin-and-Stalin
    #livre #nomadisme #URSS #union_soviétique #sédentarisation #histoire #Lénine #Staline #Asie_centrale
    cc @reka

  • The Greatest Crimes Against Humanity Are Perpetrated by People Just Doing Their Jobs
    https://truthout.org/articles/the-careerists

    The greatest crimes of human history are made possible by the most colorless human beings. They are the careerists. The bureaucrats. The cynics. They do the little chores that make vast, complicated systems of exploitation and death a reality. They collect and read the personal data gathered on tens of millions of us by the security and surveillance state. They keep the accounts of ExxonMobil, BP and Goldman Sachs. They build or pilot aerial drones. They work in corporate advertising and public relations. They issue the forms. They process the papers. They deny food stamps to some and unemployment benefits or medical coverage to others. They enforce the laws and the regulations. And they do not ask questions.

    Good. Evil. These words do not mean anything to them. They are beyond morality. They are there to make corporate systems function. If insurance companies abandon tens of millions of sick to suffer and die, so be it. If banks and sheriff departments toss families out of their homes, so be it. If financial firms rob citizens of their savings, so be it. If the government shuts down schools and libraries, so be it. If the military murders children in Pakistan or Afghanistan, so be it. If commodity speculators drive up the cost of rice and corn and wheat so that they are unaffordable for hundreds of millions of poor across the planet, so be it. If Congress and the courts strip citizens of basic civil liberties, so be it. If the fossil fuel industry turns the earth into a broiler of greenhouse gases that doom us, so be it. They serve the system. The god of profit and exploitation. The most dangerous force in the industrialized world does not come from those who wield radical creeds, whether Islamic radicalism or Christian fundamentalism, but from legions of faceless bureaucrats who claw their way up layered corporate and governmental machines. They serve any system that meets their pathetic quota of needs.

    These systems managers believe nothing. They have no loyalty. They are rootless. They do not think beyond their tiny, insignificant roles. They are blind and deaf. They are, at least regarding the great ideas and patterns of human civilization and history, utterly illiterate. And we churn them out of universities. Lawyers. Technocrats. Business majors. Financial managers. IT specialists. Consultants. Petroleum engineers. “Positive psychologists.” Communications majors. Cadets. Sales representatives. Computer programmers. Men and women who know no history, know no ideas. They live and think in an intellectual vacuum, a world of stultifying minutia. They are T.S. Eliot’s “the hollow men,” “the stuffed men.” “Shape without form, shade without colour,” the poet wrote. “Paralysed force, gesture without motion.”

    It was the careerists who made possible the genocides, from the extermination of Native Americans to the Turkish slaughter of the Armenians to the Nazi Holocaust to Stalin’s liquidations. They were the ones who kept the trains running. They filled out the forms and presided over the property confiscations. They rationed the food while children starved. They manufactured the guns. They ran the prisons. They enforced travel bans, confiscated passports, seized bank accounts and carried out segregation. They enforced the law. They did their jobs.

    Political and military careerists, backed by war profiteers, have led us into useless wars, including World War I, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. And millions followed them. Duty. Honor. Country. Carnivals of death. They sacrifice us all. In the futile battles of Verdun and the Somme in World War I, 1.8 million on both sides were killed, wounded or never found. In July of 1917 British Field Marshal Douglas Haig, despite the seas of dead, doomed even more in the mud of Passchendaele. By November, when it was clear his promised breakthrough at Passchendaele had failed, he jettisoned the initial goal—as we did in Iraq when it turned out there were no weapons of mass destruction and in Afghanistan when al-Qaida left the country—and opted for a simple war of attrition. Haig “won” if more Germans than allied troops died. Death as score card. Passchendaele took 600,000 more lives on both sides of the line before it ended. It is not a new story. Generals are almost always buffoons. Soldiers followed John the Blind, who had lost his eyesight a decade earlier, to resounding defeat at the Battle of Crécy in 1337 during the Hundred Years War. We discover that leaders are mediocrities only when it is too late.

    #politique #pouvoir #carrièrisme

  • #Kazakhstan commemorates Stalin’s Terror · Global Voices
    https://globalvoices.org/2018/05/31/kazakhstan-commemorates-stalins-terror

    Svetlana Tynybekova was born in 1939, on the tail-end of a tidal wave of terror that ripped through the Soviet Union, sweeping up her family with it.

    Her grandfather, a Kazakh intellectual and a former minister in the Soviet government of Central Asia, had been shot as an enemy of the people. Her grandmother was languishing in the Gulag.

    “It’s unnatural, it’s inhumane, that a child should live having never met their grandmother and never see their grandfather at all,” said Tynybekova, a sprightly and alert 78-year-old, recalling her family’s past in an interview in her apartment in Astana last November.

    On May 31, Kazakhstan will hold its annual commemoration of those, like Tynybekova’s family, who were caught up by Soviet repression.

    #staline #urss #ex-urss #soviétisme

  • A propos du film « La mort de Staline », l’historienne Rachel Mazuy
    a fait une communication sur FB (vraiment dommage que toute cette science, ce savoir, ces analyses soient confiées (le féminin l’emporte...) à Mark Elliot Zuckerberg, mais encore une fois, bon.

    Très intéressant.

    "On passe un bon moment avec "La Mort de Staline" ! mais si on jouait un peu au « 7 erreurs » ? :

    Quand je lis que le film est bien documenté et qu’il est fondé sur la vérité (ou presque...), je me dis qu’on pourrait jouer à corriger toutes les erreurs historiques - un "jeu" à tenter avec des élèves de 1ère ou des étudiants en histoire ?

    Sous le contrôle de mes collègues slavisants et spécialistes de l’URSS, en voici quelques unes :

    1. La première concerne la police politique. Le scénariste a pu se dire, que le KGB apparaissant après la mort de Staline, il était plus simple de reprendre le nom du NKVD (qui sonne bien), car personne ne connaît celui de MGB (MGB - МГБ est l’acronyme de Ministère à la sécurité gouvernementale), le véritable nom porté par la police politique de 1946 à 1954. Ce Ministère se différencie à cette époque de celui de l’Intérieur (MVD).

    Il faut rappeler que le NKVD est un acronyme pour "Commissariat du Peuple aux affaires intérieures" (en résumé le Ministère de l’Intérieur) et non, la police politique de l’URSS.

    Petit rappel :

    Au début c’est relativement simple... On a d’abord la Tchéka, dès 1917 (forme abrégée d’un acronyme signifiant : "Commission extraordinaire panrusse pour la répression de la contre-révolution et du sabotage auprès du Conseil des commissaires du peuple de la RSFSR"), qui devient la/le Guépéou puis l’OGPU ("Direction politique unie d’État auprès du Conseil des Commissaires du peuple de l’URSS") après la fondation de l’URSS (1922). Ce sont bien les organes de la police politique.

    En 1934, la "Direction principale de la Sécurité d’Etat" (GUGB) est en fait intégrée au NKVD. Celui-ci regroupait donc les "forces publiques régulières de police de l’Union soviétique, comprenant notamment la police routière, la lutte anti-incendie, les gardes-frontières et les archives" (wikipedia), ainsi que le GUGB et le Goulag (encore un acronyme pour "Administration principal des camps"). Cumulant ainsi pouvoir de police et pouvoir judiciaire, le NKVD pouvait donc déporter par simple mesure administrative et était placé sous les ordres de Staline. C’est sans doute pour cela qu’on assimile très vite le Ministère de l’intérieur à ses "organes" !

    La dernière tentative de fusionner la Sécurité d’Etat avec le Ministère de l’Intérieur (devenu MVD après la guerre où on oublie les commissariats du peuple pour revenir aux ministères), date de mars 1953 (c’est signé Béria).

    2. Une autre inversion : le mélange entre la Grande Terreur (1937-1938) pendant les purges des années trente d’une part, et la campagne antisémite de 1948 à 1953 contre les "cosmopolites sans racines" de l’autre.

    La première fait deux millions de victimes avec plus de 725 000 exécutions. La seconde est moins "sanglante", car le processus est interrompu après le décès de Staline (ce que montre le film, même si la chronologie est ramassée sur quelques jours au lieu de plusieurs semaines).

    La campagne contre le cosmopolitisme débute avec la mort de l’acteur Solomon (Shlomo) Mikhoels en 1948 et se poursuit avec le procès de 1952 contre le Comité juif antifasciste (la plupart des membres sont alors exécutés). Elle atteint ce qui aurait du être son paroxysme avec "le complot des blouses blanches", annoncé par la "Pravda" en janvier 1953.

    Malgré tout, il faut rappeler, qu’à la mort de Staline, 4% de la population de l’URSS est incarcérée, la majorité pour des vols de propriétés socialistes et des petits larcins (c’est la "Société des voleurs" apparaissant dans le livre de Juliette Cadiot et Marc Hélie , "Histoire du Goulag" (La Découverte, collection Repères). "Pour dépasser un tel niveau d’enfermement" a écrit Thomas Piketty récemment, "il faut considérer le cas de la population masculine" afro-américaine (5% est en prison aujourd’hui). Je cite ici ces propos dans le récent article du "Monde" sur « La Russie poutinienne se caractérise par une dérive kleptocratique sans limites ».

    Cette campagne se traduit ainsi par de multiples arrestations qui touchent le milieu médical (des centaines de médecins, infirmiers, pharmaciens sont arrêtés...), avec des implications dans la Nomenklatura. Mais si deux médecins sont morts (sans doute pendant leur interrogatoire), il n’y a pas, dans ce cadre précis, d’exécutions sommaires massives comme dans les années trente.

    Il fallait évidemment pousser la satire jusqu’au bout, mais pourquoi, alors que la bande dessinée n’occulte pas le caractère antisémite de cette campagne, l’omettre dans le film ?

    3. De la même façon, l’histoire de Malenkov qui veut poser pour la photo avec la petite fille qui avait été photographié avec Staline fait allusion à l’histoire, bien connue aujourd’hui, de Guélia Marzikova. Or, ce n’était pas une petite Russe blonde avec des nattes (cela dit beaucoup de choses sur notre imaginaire occidental et je me demande quand les nattes et les grands noeuds deviennent quasi obligatoires dans les écoles élémentaires soviétiques). Guélia était bouriato-mongole et avait des cheveux très noirs et une coupe au carré. Bien entendu, il existe d’autres "portraits" de Staline avec des enfants...

    4. L’histoire du concert réinterprété pour enregistrer un disque pour Staline semble vraie. Maria Youdina, la pianiste, était effectivement convertie à l’orthodoxie (née à Vitebsk de parents juifs) et opposée au régime. Cependant, c’est Staline lui-même qui lui aurait donné 20.000 roubles pour la remercier après avoir écouté le disque. Elle lui aurait alors répondu qu’elle les donnerait à son église pour prier pour l’âme du secrétaire général en raison des crimes qu’il avait commis. Cette histoire, qui apparaît dans les mémoires de Chostakovitch, n’entraine donc pas l’hémorragie cérébrale de Staline.

    Mais, comme dans la bande dessinée, c’est évidemment un formidable début de narration de la mort de Staline...

    Je vous laisse continuer à trouver d’autres "erreurs historiques" !

    Et pour les courageux qui auraient tout lu, voici comment Marguerite Bloch (la femme de l’écrivain Jean-Richard Bloch invitée au premier Congrès des écrivains soviétiques) commente l’intégration des organes dans le NKVD (lettre du 12 août 1934, peu après leur arrivée en URSS) :
    « Je vous ai dit l’émotion de l’arrivée à la frontière. A vrai dire en ce qui me concerne, je l’avais d’avance. Mais enfin, le fameux arc de triomphe, et ensuite tout autour de la salle de douane, en quatre langues : Prolétaires de tous les pays, unissez-vous... On nous a dit après que les hommes en uniforme à casquettes vertes qui se tiennent derrière les douaniers sont des fonctionnaires du Guépéou. Ils étaient parfaitement aimables du reste, et, pour nous, ne sont même pas venus regarder. D’ailleurs l’organisation du Guépéou est complètement transformée, c’est devenu un commissariat à l’Intérieur »

    In "Moscou-Caucase Été 34, Ed. du CNRS - toujours à paraître...).

    Sur Maria Youdina on peut réécouter la formidable émission de France Culture :
    https://www.franceculture.fr/emissions/une-vie-une-oeuvre/maria-yudina-la-pianiste-de-staline-1899-1970

    Parmi les nombreux articles de Nicolas Werth sur les crimes de masse de l’ère stalinienne en voici un qui a le mérite d’être accessible en ligne et de donner une bibliographie complète datant cependant de 2009 :
    https://www.sciencespo.fr/mass-violence-war-massacre-resistance/fr/document/les-crimes-de-masse-sous-staline-1930-1953

    Sur le complot des blouses blanches, en dehors de l’ouvrage déjà ancien (1997, Ed. Complexe) de Jean-Jacques Marie sur Les derniers complots de Staline, l’Affaire des Blouses blanches, :
    https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Complot_des_blouses_blanches

    Sur Staline, la biographie récente (2017) d’Oleg Khlevniuk publiée avec une préface de Nicolas Werth chez Belin : https://www.nonfiction.fr/article-9299-staline-ou-la-terreur-comme-systeme-de-gouvernement.htm

    #staline #histoire #1953 #soviétisme #urss #union_soviétique #révolution_russe #1917

  • Gregory Klimov. The Terror Machine. Chapter 18
    http://g-klimov.info/klimov-pp-e/ETM18.htm

    The Wings of a Slave

    At the beginning of 1947, Mikoyan, member of the Politburo and plenipotentiary extraordinary of the Soviet Council of Ministers for the economic assimilation of the occupied areas and the satellite countries, made an exhaustive inspection tour of the Soviet zone. Afterwards he had a long conference with Marshal Sokolovsky and his deputy for economic questions, Comrade Koval.

    This conference discussed the results of the economic reorganization of the Soviet zone. The land reform, which had been accomplished shortly after the capitulation, had not achieved any decisive economic effect. This fact did not disturb or even surprise either Mikoyan or Marshal Sokolovsky. With its aid certain necessary tactical results had been achieved; in particular, a basis had been laid for an offensive against the peasants, as well as the prerequisites for the final collectivization of agriculture.

    In the industrial sphere, after the mass dismantling process and the socialization of the small enterprises as landeseigener Betrieb (district-owned works), the S. M. A.’s biggest measure was the practical unification of all the Soviet zone basic industry in an enormous industrial concern known as ’Soviet Joint Stock Companies’. This measure, which had been dictated by Moscow, came under special consideration at the Mikoyan-Sokolovsky conference.

    Late in the summer of 1946, Comrade Koval, the commander-in-chief’s deputy for economic questions, had returned from a visit to Moscow, bringing with him new secret instructions. Shortly after, mysterious documents began to circulate between the Administration for Industry, the Administration for Reparations, and Koval’s office.

    These documents were referred to in whispers as ’List of or ’List of 235’. The figure changed continually; it indicated the list of enterprises, which it was proposed to transform into Soviet Joint Stock Companies. The lists were sent to Moscow for confirmation, and they returned in the form of appendices to an official decree concerning the organization of an ’Administration for Soviet Joint Stock Companies in Germany’.

    This administration, which took over the former Askania Company’s building in Berlin-Weissensee for its headquarters, controlled thirteen Soviet joint stock companies in the more important industrial spheres, and these thirteen included some 250 of the larger industrial works in the Soviet zone. By the statutes of the new concern 51 per cent of the shares of the works thus included were to be Soviet-owned. Thus practically the entire industry in the Soviet zone came into Soviet hands, not only by right of conquest and for the duration of the occupation, but also for all future time.

    At the 1945 Potsdam Conference, in which Stalin had taken an active part, great attention had been paid to the question of de-cartellizing German economy, and it had been decided to liquidate the big German industrial concerns, which were regarded not only as an important economic factor, but also as a political factor frequently aggressive in its nature. As a result, one of the first items on the agenda of the Allied Control Commission was this question of the liquidation of the German concerns, and in his time General Shabalin was active in pressing for the matter to be tackled.

    But now, again on orders from Moscow, the largest industrial concern not only of Germany, but perhaps of the whole world was founded. Its economic and also political importance surpasses anything of the kind existing hitherto in Germany or in Europe. And this super-concern is no longer in German but in Soviet hands. In the present struggle for Germany and Europe the S. A. G. (Sowjet Aktienge-sellschaften) will be a strong weapon in Kremlin hands.

    All the economic measures taken by the S. M. A. in Germany, like the Kremlin’s economic policy generally pursue far-reaching political aims. The object of this transformation of the Soviet zone is to fetter it with powerful economic chains. It provides a necessary economic basis for a further political advance.

    Mikoyan was not the only member of the Politburo to visit: Germany about this time. Beria, the Soviet Minister for Home Affairs, made a similar tour of inspection through the lands of Eastern Europe and eastern Germany. He, too, had a long conference with Sokolovsky and the head of the S. M. A. Administration for Internal Affairs, Colonel-General Serov. This conference discussed measures to strengthen the internal political front. The sequence of events was logical enough: the master for extermination affairs followed the master for economic exploitation.

    One of the results of Beria’s visit to Karlshorst was a further purge of the S. M. A. personnel. A growing number of the officers who had been with the S. M. A. from the beginning were recalled to the Soviet Union. Their place was taken by new men from Moscow; they were recognizable at first glance as the purest of Party-men. The change of personnel in Karlshorst was in full accord with the Kremlin’s post-war policy, which was directed towards placing all the key-points in Party hands. Once more one could not help being struck by the difference between ’nominal Party-men’ and ’pure Party-men’. Almost every Soviet officer was a Party-member, but the Party was far from regarding them all as ’pure Party-men’.

    More than eighteen months had passed since Karlshorst had been transformed into the Berlin Kremlin. Since then both the world and Karlshorst had been subjected to many changes. Many of these changes had been the result of Karlshorst’s own activities as an advanced post of Soviet foreign policy. Parallel with this there had been a change in the international atmosphere, and the people in Karlshorst had been the first to become conscious of it.

    We were left with only the memory of the time when Russians had been welcomed everywhere as liberators and allies. The Kremlin’s post-war policy had left not a trace of the sympathy which Russian soldiers had won in the world. The Russian people’s heroism and self-sacrifice in the fight for their native country had assured the Soviet Union a leading place among the world powers, and had led to unexpected results.

    The Kremlin had decided to exploit this situation for the aims of their foreign policy. Instead of the breathing space, which the Russian people had hoped for and expected, they now had to carry all the burdens involved in the Kremlin’s risky political game. Menacing clouds were again beginning to gather on the horizon. It was the people in the Karlshorst outpost who saw those clouds most clearly. We were not fond of talking about the danger of a new war, but we thought of it, and our hearts sank.

    As events developed, we were more and more forced to think about this danger. It seemed stupid and unnatural, but the facts spoke for themselves. Many people tried to convince themselves that the Allies’ post-war dissensions were simply in the nature of disputes over the division of the spoils. But that was a poor pretext. We Soviet officers were too well grounded in the Marxist-Leninist theory of world revolution to believe it.

    We, the Soviet men who stood on the bounds of the two worlds, and who had lived through all the development of relations between the Allies since the capitulation, we who had been personally convinced that the West was genuinely striving, and still is striving, for peace, and who had seen the sabotage of every attempt to achieve friendly cooperation with the Soviets - we knew a great deal that our people at home did not and could not know.

    We well remembered the first few months after Germany’s capitulation. The Western Allies demobilized their armies as swiftly as transport conditions allowed. Meanwhile the Soviet command as swiftly brought up its shattered divisions to fighting strength, completing their complement of men and officers, and supplying new tanks and aeroplanes. We racked our brains over the question: what for?

    Perhaps it was necessary to have an armed fist when negotiating at the diplomatic table? Subsequent events showed what it was all for. The Kremlin regarded the will to peace as a mark of weakness, and democracy’s demobilization as providing an opportunity for further aggression. What else could the democracies do but re-arm? That meant a new armaments race instead of Russia’s peaceful economic restoration; it meant all that we had known so well before the war. And where would it all lead to?

    When political passions begin to play on national sentiments - something the Kremlin particularly desires - when the armaments race is at its height, it will be difficult to determine who began it all and who is to blame. And then, quite naturally, each side will accuse the other.

    But this time, we members of the Soviet occupation forces know one thing perfectly: no matter what comes, all the blame for the consequences will lie solely and simply on the shoulders of the men in the Kremlin. This time we know who started to play with the gunpowder barrel. This time we have no doubt of the prime and original cause of the new war danger.

    II

    The more the atmosphere darkened, the more monotonous grew life in Karlshorst. The days dragged past, gray and boring. On one of these gray days I went to do my usual twenty-four-hour tour of duty on the staff, which I had to perform once a month.

    The officer on duty in the S. M. A. staff headquarters had to spend the daytime in the commander-in-chief’s waiting room, and during this time he acted as assistant adjutant to the marshal. During the night he was alone on duty in the marshal’s office, and acted as adjutant.

    At six o’clock in the evening I took my place as usual in the waiting room. Marshal Sokolovsky was in Potsdam, so the place was empty. The adjutant left at half-past seven, leaving me in charge, alone. To inform myself on current matters I glanced through the files on the desk and all the documents. The time passed imperceptibly, my only interruption being telephone calls.

    At midnight, in accordance with regulations, I took the marshal’s seat at the desk in his room, in order to be ready if direct calls came through. It was quite common for the Kremlin to ring up in the middle of the night, and then the telephonogram had to be taken down and passed on to its destination.

    As I sat at the desk I began to order the papers littered over it. Among them was a duplicated Information Bulletin. This bulletin was intended only for the higher staff, and was a top-secret document, with every copy numbered. I began to look through it.

    The contents were very illuminating: they were a detailed collection of all the things that the Soviet press carefully ignores or even flatly denies. If a Soviet citizen dared to speak of such things aloud, he would be accused of being a counter-revolutionary, with all its con-sequences. But this was an official information bulletin for the use of the S. M. A. commander.

    It is a serious mistake to attempt to justify the Soviet leaders’ conduct by arguing that they are not acquainted with a particular problem, or lack information on it. At one time peasant representatives made a habit of traveling from remote villages on a pilgrimage to the Kremlin gates. They naively thought that behind the Kremlin walls Stalin did not see what was happening all around him, that they had only to tell him the truth and everything would be altered. The peasants’ representatives sacrificed their lives, and everything continued as before. The Soviet leaders are fully informed, and are entirely responsible for anything that occurs.

    In the middle of the night I resolved to ring up Genia. I made contact with the Moscow exchange, and waited a long time for an answer. At last a sleepy voice sounded: “Well?”

    “Genia,” I said, “this is Berlin speaking. What’s the news in Moscow?”

    “Ah, so it’s you!” I heard a distant sigh. “I thought you’d dropped out completely.”

    “Oh no... not completely. What’s the news?” "Nothing. Life’s a bore..." “How’s your father?” "Gone off again." “Where to this time?”

    “He sent me a silk gown recently. So I expect it’s somewhere there... But how are things with you?”

    “I’m sitting in the marshal’s chair.” "Are you intending to come to Moscow soon?" “When I’m sent.”

    “I’m so bored here alone,” she said. “Do come soon!”

    We had a long talk, and dreamed of our future meeting, thought of all we would do, discussed plans for the future. It was a dream to which we resorted in order to avoid the present. At that moment I regretted that I was not in Moscow, and sincerely wanted to go back.

    The sleepless night passed. The day arrived, and with it generals from the provinces fussed around, German representatives of the new democracy lurked timidly in corners. Just before six o’clock in the evening, when my turn of duty ended, an engineer named Sykov came in to talk over a proposed hunting expedition with me. We were interrupted by the telephone. I picked up the receiver and replied with the usual formula: “Officer on duty in the staff.” It was Koval, the commander’s deputy on economic questions, and my immediate superior.

    “Comrade Klimov?”

    “Yes.”

    “Come and see me for a moment.”

    ’He asked for me personally,’ I thought as I went to his room. ’What’s the hurry?’

    He greeted me with the question: “I suppose you don’t happen to know what this is all about?” He held out a sheet of paper bearing an order from the S. M. A. staff headquarters. I took it and read:

    ’The directing engineer, G. P. Klimov, being a highly qualified specialist in Soviet economy, is to be demobilized from the Soviet Army and freed from duty in the Soviet Military Administration to return to the Soviet Union for further utilization in accordance with his special qualifications.’

    For a moment I could not grasp its import. It left me with a decidedly unpleasant feeling. There was something not quite in order here. A certain formal courtesy was always observed towards responsible personnel; in such cases there was a preliminary personal talk.

    “You haven’t yourself applied to be transferred to Moscow?” Koval asked.

    “No,” I answered, still rather preoccupied.

    “It’s signed by the chief of staff, and there was no prior agreement with me.” Koval shrugged his shoulders.

    Five minutes later I walked into the office of the head of the Personnel Department. I had had frequent opportunities to meet Colonel Utkin, so he knew me personally. Without waiting for my question, he said:

    “Well, may I congratulate you? You’re going home...”

    “Comrade Colonel, what’s at the back of it?” I asked.

    I was interested to discover what was at the bottom of the unexpected order. Workers in Karlshorst were not recalled to Moscow without good reason. As a rule, when members of the S. M. A. applied to be returned home the staff turned down the request.

    “I’m disturbed not so much by what the order says, as by its form,” I continued. “What does it mean?”

    Utkin was silent for a moment or two, then he said with some reluctance: “The Political Administration is involved. Between ourselves, I’m surprised you’ve held out here so long as you’re a non-Party man.”

    I shook hands with him gratefully. As I turned to leave he advised me: “Bear in mind that after your frontier pass has been issued you must leave in three days. If there’s any necessity, hang out the transfer of your work.”

    I left his room with a feeling of relief. Now everything was clear. As I went along the dimly lighted corridor I was gradually possessed by strange feeling; I felt that my body was receiving an influx of strength; my soul was mastered by an inexplicable feeling of freedom. I had had exactly that same feeling when I first heard of the outbreak of war. And I had had it when I first put on my military uniform. It was the presentiment of great changes to come. It was the breath of the unknown in my face.

    Now, as I walked along the corridors of the S. M. A. headquarters I again felt the breath of this unknown. It slightly intoxicated me

    I went home through the empty streets of Karlshorst. Behind the fences the trees were swinging their bare branches. The harsh German winter was in possession - darkness and stillness. A passer-by saluted me - I answered automatically. I was in no hurry. My step was slow and thoughtful. It was as though I were not taking the well-known road home, but standing at the beginning of a long road. I looked about me, I took in deep breaths of air, and I felt the ground beneath my feet as I had not felt it for a long time. Strange, inexplicable feelings swept over me.

    Hardly had I shut the door of my apartment when Sykov came in. By my face he saw at once that something had happened. “Where are you being sent to?” he asked. “Moscow,” I answered briefly. “What for?”

    Without taking off my greatcoat I went to my desk and silently drummed on it with my fingers. “But why?” he asked again.

    “I haven’t provided myself with the red book soon enough,” I answered reluctantly.

    He stared at me commiserately. Then he put his hand in a pocket, took out a long piece of red cardboard and turned it over in his fingers.

    “What would it have cost you?” he asked, gazing at his Party-ticket. “You shout your ’Hail!’ once a week at the Party meeting, and afterward you can go to the toilet and rinse your mouth.”

    His words made an unpleasant impression on me. I instinctively reflected that that piece of cardboard must still be warm with the warmth of his body. As though he had guessed my thoughts, he went on: “I myself remained at the candidate stage for six years. Until I couldn’t keep it up any longer.”

    His presence and his remarks began to irritate me. I wanted to be left to myself. He invited me to go with him to the club. I refused.

    “I’m going to have a game of billiards,” he remarked as he went to the door. “A cannon off two cushions, and no ideology about it.”

    I remained standing by my desk. I was still wearing my greatcoat. The coat round my shoulders strengthened my feeling that I was on my way. I tried sitting down, but jumped up again at once. I couldn’t sit quietly. Something was burning inside me. I wandered about the room with my hands in my pockets.

    I switched on the radio. The cheerful music plucked at my nerves, and I switched it off. The telephone bell rang. I did not bother to answer it. The German maid had prepared my supper; it was waiting on the table for me. I didn’t even look at it, but paced from corner to corner, my head sunk on my chest.

    The order had burst the dam, which had long been holding me back. I felt that inside me everything was shattered, everything was in turmoil. And at the same time something was slowly crawling towards me from afar. Something inexorable and joyless.

    Today I must cast up accounts.

    Today only one thing was clear: I did not believe in that which I had at the back of me. But if I returned to Moscow - I must at once join the Party, a Party - in which I did not believe. There was no other way. I would have to do it in order to save my life, to have the right to exist. All my life thenceforth I would lie and pretend, simply for the sake of the bare possibility of existence. Of that I had no doubt. I had examples before my eyes. Andrei Kovtun, a man in a blind alley. Mikhail Belyavsky, a man beyond the pale. Major Dubov, a man in a vacuum. But wasn’t I a man in a vacuum too? How long could that continue?

    I would have a home, and wait for the nocturnal knock at the door. I would get married, only to distrust my own wife. I would have children, who might at any time betray me or become orphans ashamed of their father.

    At these thoughts the blood rushed to my head. My collar choked me. A hot wave of fury rose in my throat. I felt so hot that my greatcoat seemed too heavy for me. At the moment I still had my greatcoat round my shoulders and a weapon in my hand. I didn’t want to part from that coat, or from that weapon. Why not?

    If I returned, sooner or later I would go under. Why? I had no belief in the future. But what had I had in the past? I tried to recall that past. When I first saw the light of this world the flames of revolution were playing in my eyes. I grew up to be a restless wolf-cub, and those flames continually flickered in my eyes. I was a wolf-cub of the Stalin generation; I fought with teeth and claws for my life and thrust my way forward. Now the Stalin wolf-cub was at the height of his powers, surveying the point he had reached.

    Today I had to confess to myself: all my life I had forced myself to believe in something I could not believe in, even from the day of my birth. All my life I had only sought a compromise with life. And if any one of my contemporaries were to say that he believed, I would call him a liar, a coward. Did such men, as Sykov really believe?

    I strode about my room, my eyes on my boots. They had trodden the earth from Moscow to Berlin. I remembered the flaming and smoking years of the war, the fiery font in which my feeling of responsibility to my native land was awakened. Once more I saw the Red Square and the walls of the Kremlin lit up with the fiery salutes of victory. Days of pride and glory, when one cried aloud with excess of emotion. In my ears sounded once more the words that had throbbed in my breast: ’Among the first of the first, among the finest of the finest you are marching today across the Red Square.’

    Now I was marching from one corner of my room to the other, like a caged wolf. Yes, the war had knocked us off our balance. Blinded by the struggle for our native land, we forgot a great deal in those days. At that time it could not be otherwise, there was no other way.

    Those who took another way.... With a bitter pang I recalled the early days of the war. I am deeply grateful to Fate that I was saved the necessity of making a very difficult decision. By the time it came to my turn to put on the soldier’s greatcoat I knew clearly that the way of the Russians was not with the Germans. And I fought to the end. I fought for something in which I did not believe. I fought, consoling myself with hopes.

    Now I no longer had those hopes. Now I felt that we had gone wrong, we had not accomplished our task, but had trusted to promises. That was why I did not want to take off the greatcoat. It wasn’t too late yet!

    Now menacing clouds were again gathering on the horizon. If I returned to Moscow, I would once more be confronted with the same bitter decision as in June 1941. Once more I would have to defend something I had no wish to defend.

    Still more, now I was convinced that the men in the Kremlin were leading my country along a road to perdition. Nobody was threatening us. On the contrary, we were threatening the entire world. That was an unnecessary and dangerous game. If we won, what good would it do us? If we were defeated, who would bear the guilt, and who would pay the Kremlin’s accounts? Every one of us!

    I had passed through days of anxiety for my country, through battles and through victory. And in addition I had seen with my own eyes all the bitterness of defeat. Germany in the dust was a good example of that. Germany was writhing in the convulsions of hunger and shame - but where were the guilty ones? Were only leaders guilty, or the entire nation?

    If the war broke out, it would be too late then. War has its own laws. Those whom the Kremlin had turned into enemies would regard us as enemies. They did not want war, but if war was inevitable they would wage it to defend their own interests. So what was left for us to do: be again a chip in the hands of criminal gamesters?

    Hour after hour I walked about my room, with my greatcoat round my shoulders. It was long past midnight, but I had no thought of sleep. There was a void behind me and a void before me. I had only one conscious and definite realization: I could not go back. One thought hammered continually in my head: what was I to do?

    Not until early in the morning did I feel tired. Then I lay down on my bed without undressing. And I fell asleep with my greatcoat drawn over my head.

    III

    During the next few days I began to hand over my work, bit by bit. Following Colonel Utkin’s advice I deliberately dragged out the process. Without yet knowing why, I sought to gain time. And continually I was oppressed with the same tormenting thoughts and the one inexorable question: what was I to do?

    On one of these days I stepped out of the Underground station on Kurfurstendamm, in the British sector. I was wearing civilian clothes; my boots squelched in the damp ooze of melting snow. The familiar streets seemed strange and unfriendly. I walked along aimlessly, running my eyes over the nameplates at the entrances to the houses. My finger played with the trigger of the pistol in my coat pocket.

    Finally I made my choice of nameplate and went into the house. It had been a luxurious place - it still had a broad marble staircase. Now the stairs were unlit, a chilly wind blew through the unglazed windows. After some difficulty I found the door I was seeking, and rang the bell. A girl with a coat flung round her shoulders opened to me.

    “Can I see Herr Diels?” I asked.

    “What about?” she asked pleasantly. “A private matter,” I curtly answered.

    She showed me in and asked me to wait a moment. I sat in the lawyer’s cold, dark reception room, while the girl disappeared. A few moments later she returned and said: “The Herr Doctor will see you.”

    I entered an enormous, unheated office. An elderly gentleman in gold-rimmed spectacles rose from his desk to meet me. “What can I do for you?” he asked, offering me a seat. He rubbed his frozen hands, probably expecting some ordinary case of divorce.

    “My request is rather unusual, Doctor,” I said. For the first lime in my intercourse with Germans I felt a little awkward.

    “Oh, you needn’t feel any constraint with me,” he said with a professional smile.

    “I am a Russian officer,” I said slowly, instinctively lowering my voice.

    The lawyer smiled genially, to indicate that he felt highly honored by my visit. “Only the other day another Soviet officer called on me with a German girl,” he said, obviously seeking to encourage me.

    I hardly listened to his explanation of why the other Russian officer had visited him. I was thinking with chagrin: ’I’ve made a bad start...’ But it was too late to retreat, and I decided to speak out.

    “You see, I’m being demobilized and sent back to Russia. I shan’t burden you with explanations as to the why and wherefore. To put it briefly, I want to go to Western Germany.”

    The smile vanished from his face. For a moment or two he did not know what to say. Then he prudently asked: “Ah... and what can I do about that?”

    “I must get into contact with the Allies,” I said. “I wish to ask for political asylum. I can’t do that myself. If I’m seen with any Allied official or if I’m observed coming out of an Allied office... that’s too great a risk for me to run. So I’d like to ask you to help me.”

    The silence lasted some minutes. Then I noticed that Herr Diels was behaving in a queer manner. He fidgeted restlessly on his chair, searched for something in his pocket, turned over the papers on his desk.

    “Yes, yes... I understand,” he murmured. “I, too, am a victim of the Nazi regime.”

    He took out a letter-case and hurriedly ran through innumerable letters. At last he found what he was seeking, and with a trembling hand held out a paper to me. It had been carefully reinforced at the folds and obviously was in frequent use.

    “You see, I’ve even got a certificate testifying to that fact,” he said.

    I glanced through the document. It stated that the possessor was a victim of Nazism, and almost a communist. I again had the unpleasant feeling that I had come to the wrong address. I realized that the lawyer was afraid of something and was trying to secure himself.

    “Herr Doctor, to be frank I’d rather deal with the most rabid of Nazis at this moment,” I said as I handed back his document.

    “Who recommended you to come to me?” he asked irresolutely.

    “No one. I took a chance. I have to act in the knowledge that I cannot trust anybody in my immediate surroundings. I hoped you’d be in a position to help me. But if you can’t for any reason, at any rate there’s no reason why you should do me any harm.”

    Herr Diels sat sunken in thought. Finally he appeared to come to some decision. He turned to me again. “But tell me, what surety can I have that you...” He concentratedly turned the pencil over and over in his hand and avoided looking me in the face. Then, as though making up his mind, he raised his eyes and said a little hesitantly: “... that you’re not an agent of that... of the G. P. U?”

    The former name of that well-known organization jarred in my ears. Apparently the Germans didn’t know its present name yet. Despite the seriousness of my position, his question made me smile. The very thing I feared in others I was myself suspected of. I simply shrugged my shoulders and said: “I haven’t had an opportunity to think that one out as yet, Herr Doctor. All I’m concerned with at the moment is with saving my own head from that... G. P. U.”

    He sat very still, thinking aloud: “You speak German well... too well... And besides, this is all so abnormal...” He stared at me fixedly, as though trying to read my thoughts, and said: “Good! I’m an old man and I have experience of men. I believe you’re speaking the truth. Where do you want to go?”

    “To the American zone.”

    “But why the American zone?” He raised his eyebrows in astonishment.

    “Herr Doctor, when a man takes such a step from political considerations it’s natural for him to seek refuge with the strongest enemies of the people he’s escaping from.”

    “Yes, but this is the British sector. I have no contact with the Americans.”

    I realized that this was tantamount to a refusal, and I made one last attempt:

    “Perhaps you could recommend me to one of your colleagues who has got contact with the Americans?”

    “Oh yes, I can do that,” he answered, reaching for his telephone book. He turned up a name in the book, then rose heavily from his desk and went to the door, remarking: “Excuse me a moment. I’ll write out the address for you.”

    He went into the reception room. I heard him speaking to his secretary. Then he exchanged a few words with another visitor. The telephone bell rang more than once. Somebody came and went.

    The minutes dragged past. It was very cold in that unheated room and I began to shiver. I felt a perfectly stupid feeling of utter dependence on the decency of someone who was a complete stranger. I settled deeper in the armchair, drew my coat closer round me and put my right hand in my pocket. I slipped back the safety catch of my pistol, and turned the barrel to cover the door. If a Soviet military patrol came in I would open fire without taking my hand out of my pocket.

    At last the lawyer came back, and held out a slip of paper to me. On it was an address, typewritten. I could not help wondering: ’Is that from prudence, or simply the German habit of always using the typewriter?’

    Suppressing a sigh of relief, I left the house. The streetcars and automobiles were noisy in the gray dusk of the winter evening. People were hurrying along on their way home; each one had somewhere to go. I felt a wretched feeling of loneliness. I drew my cap down over my eyes and plunged into the Underground.

    After a long journey and long wandering through unknown streets at night I found the address Herr Diels had given me: a villa on the outskirts of the city. Dr. von Scheer occupied quite a high position, and it was not easy for me to get a personal interview with him. When at last I was alone with him in his study and explained the reason for my visit he at once got down to business. He took a photocopy of a document from his desk drawer, and showed it to me. It stated that he had official relations with the Soviet central commandatura. I was confronted with all the familiar seals and signatures. I pulled such a face that he could not help smiling.

    “What surety have I that you’re not an agent of this... well, you know!” he asked. He winked and gave me a friendly slap on the knee.

    I could only shrug my shoulders.

    Dr. von Scheer proved to be a businesslike man. After a brief talk he agreed to have a chat with some Americans he knew, and asked me to call again in two days’ time. I went home wondering whether he was at that moment telephoning to the Soviet commandatura to inform them of my visit.

    Two days later I went to keep the appointment. I had very mixed feelings: hopes of success, and expectations of an ambush. He curtly informed me that his talks had been fruitless. The Americans didn’t wish to have anything to do with the matter. Evidently for the same reason: ’What surety have we...?’

    I thanked the doctor for his kindness, groped my way down the steps of his house, and strode through the darkness of Berlin. I could not use my automobile with its Soviet registration number, and I had to go home by streetcar. So once more I stood on the rear platform, surrounded by bustling people on their way home from work.

    At one of the stops close to the Control Commission a Soviet officer got on, and stood beside me. He was an elderly, benevolent-looking man, with a document-case. Evidently he had been detained in the Control Commission and so had missed the service omnibuses. At the sight of the familiar uniform I felt a touch of anxiety.

    Suddenly he turned to me and asked me some question in German. I answered in German. As I did so I felt a clutching at my heart. Here was the beginning of it all! I no longer trusted anybody; I did not even dare to admit that I was a Russian.

    As I changed from one streetcar to another I noticed a German policeman not far off. With no clear idea of what I had in mind I went up to him and asked where I could find the American consulate. He evidently guessed I was not a German, and shone his lantern over me from head to foot.

    In post-war Germany foreigners who were not wearing Allied uniform or did not possess an allied passport were beyond the legal pale. I had often seen such people wandering aimlessly about Berlin. The policeman evidently took me for one of these, and stared at me suspiciously. He was used to such individuals avoiding the police like the plague. “We don’t give such information,” he answered at last, and shone the lantern at me again, evidently half minded to ask me for my documents. It was well that he didn’t, for I would have been in an awkward predicament: German police were under orders to salute Soviet officers.

    The policeman walked away. I had a feeling of breathlessness in my chest. This incident marked the beginning of the road I had decided to follow. Where I was going I would have neither a pistol nor a valid document assuring me a place in life.

    As I opened the door of my Karlshorst apartment I heard the telephone ringing. I did not bother to answer. I didn’t want to see or speak to anybody. I felt that I must have time to think over all that had happened, and to consider the future.

    Once more I began my restless wandering from corner to corner. So my attempts to make contact with the Allies had been futile. It wasn’t so simple as I had thought. It had had one result: now I saw clearly that I had got to act at my own risk.

    In thus attempting to make contact with the Allies I had been concerned not so much with the formal aspect of the matter, as with its principle. I knew there was a secret agreement between the American military governor and the Soviet command, under which both parties bound themselves to hand over deserters. The British had been more far-sighted; they hadn’t made such an agreement. But this foresight was not much of a guarantee to a man who was familiar with the ways of the military secret service. Although I had been demobilized, and so could not be regarded as a deserter, I had nothing to show that I was a political émigré.

    The Soviet military authorities had ways of dealing with the situation in which I was placed. They simply made serious criminal charges against any Soviet citizen who attempted to flee, and demanded his extradition on the ground that it was international practice to hand over criminals. Close acquaintance with Lieutenant-Colonel Orlov, the S. M. A. chief military prosecutor, had enabled me to know a great deal about such matters.

    This explains why I attempted to make contact with the West before going over. It was a point that would occur to anyone. But this was only a superficial aspect of the problem, which confronted me. There was another, deeper aspect, which had not occurred to me until now.

    As I walked from corner to corner, reviewing my conduct during the past two or three days, what I had done began to seem an unpardonable stupidity. I simply must not lose all sense of reality. The powerful thought of my break with the past had dominated my mind too much. I had cut myself loose from my past life, and now I was like a blind kitten in a new world. My rejection of half the world had engendered the erroneous idea that the other half was immaculate. I must look the facts soberly in the face.

    I regarded myself as an engineer, and I had forgotten that I was an officer on the Soviet General Staff, one who had been trained in the highest of Kremlin schools. Even at this stage I could still make a triumphal return to Moscow, and travel abroad a month or so later to take a post in a military attaché’s office, to command a whole staff of secret agents, buying and selling those with whom I had just been seeking refuge. And I, who trusted nobody, was demanding trust in myself. Who would believe me, when I myself didn’t know what was going on within me? I was conscious of only one thing: a spring had snapped, and the former mechanism was useless. Had I any right to expect trust? I, an erring Stalin wolf-cub?

    As I strode about my room I heard the words: “An unforgivable stupidity, Comrade Klimov!” I started as I realized that I was talking aloud.

    To think of making contact with the Allies! It was just as well that nothing had come of it! I should know, better than most, the generally accepted rules of the secret war. The other side welcomed only those who had gained its confidence. I knew exactly how that confidence was to be won. A man was of interest to them so long as he brought some benefit. If he were regarded as stupid enough, he was used for propaganda purposes, and finally was flung on the rubbish heap. At times refugees are exchanged against agents who have been caught. It is all done quietly and without fuss. Was that the road I wanted to take?

    “You haven’t learnt my teaching well, Comrade Klimov!” I heard General Biyasi’s voice in my ears.

    I knew that the Soviet intelligence service often sends agents to the West in the guise of refugees. They are covered so well that they remain undiscovered for years. The West is fully aware of this trick. It is true that a Soviet instruction had laid down that, as a rule, people of Russian nationality were not recommended for such activities. On the one hand, Russians arouse suspicion at once; on the other hand, the Soviet regime trusts its own people least of all. But that was a detail the West did not know.

    My inward break with the world of lies had quickened a terrible longing for the truth. I sought trust. But what did I need their trust for? I wanted only one thing: to be left in peace. I had no idea what I should do next. All I had achieved so far was renunciation of the past. In my soul there was now a vacuum. I must have a breathing space in which to find new sense in life. I was slowly but surely coming to the decision that I must disappear, must lose my identity - until I had found a new identity.

    I had drawn a line beneath the past. But I had not thought of the future. My first attempt to make contact with the other world had compelled me to think of it. Now I tried to systematize all the possibilities open to me.

    As I was demobilized, I was freed from my oath, and by the rules of international etiquette I was free to go where I liked. I wanted to renounce my Soviet passport and become a stateless political émigré. Let me say that I would never advise any of my comrades to take such a step. If you wish to become a political émigré, you must renounce your Soviet passport, but not your country.

    That means that you renounce all legal support from a powerful state. You stand naked and disarmed in this imperfect world, which reckons only with him, who is strong, whether his strength consists in firearms, or money, or tanks. Today the Kremlin has raised the entire world against it. Concealing their distrust and fear, the people of the outside world will smile hypocritically and shake the hands of those who possess Soviet passports, but will vent their impotent feelings on you, the political émigré, because you haven’t one. That is one aspect political emigration.

    Life in a strange land is not easy. I have seen living examples In Berlin I frequently came across certain people who deserved the (utmost commiseration. They spoke Russian, but they were afraid to talk to me. Sometimes they minded my car while I was at the theater and were grateful when I gave them a packet of cigarettes. That is another aspect of political emigration.

    Until long after midnight I wandered about my room. The house was as still as the grave; Karlshorst was asleep. All around me was the infinite sea of an alien world. I felt its cold, indifferent breath. At last I lay down on my bed without undressing, thrust my pistol under the pillow, and fell asleep.

    IV

    Several more days passed. All this time I was living a double life. I spent the first part of the day in Karlshorst, handing over my work, putting my papers in order ready for the return to Moscow, receiving the congratulations and good wishes of my acquaintances. I had to give the impression that I was glad to be going home. I exchanged addresses, I promised to write from Moscow. During the second part of the day I wandered about wintry Berlin, visiting my German friends and cautiously sounding the ground. I must find out the road by which people went to the West.

    Day after day went by without result. The normal period of preparation for departure to Moscow was three days. I had already taken two weeks.

    As time passed it became increasingly difficult for me to play this double game. With every day my stay in Karlshorst grew more dangerous. I must reckon with the possibility of a showdown, and take pre-cautionary measures. Like many of the Soviet officers in Germany, I had quite a collection of trophy weapons. Now I thought of them, and took out a German automatic pistol from behind the cupboard. After loading it I hung it on the hat-rack at the door, and covered it with my greatcoat. Then I put several spare clips and a box of cartridges close at hand. This, in case there was an attempt to arrest me in my rooms. Next I loaded my large-caliber parabellum, my officer’s pistol, which I had kept from the front-line days.

    Next day I drove out of Berlin, stopped my car in a dense wood, and began to test my weapons methodically, as though engaging in firing practice. The brief bursts of the automatic shattered the frosty silence of the winter evening. The heavy bullets of the parabellum tore into the young pines. There must be no letdown! Anything you like, except being left helpless. I did not think much - I feared only one thing: a letdown.

    Each night, after my long and fruitless wanderings about Berlin, I would return home tired and depressed. I was sunk in apathy. Evidently there was nothing else for it but to go off on my own to the West, and hope to be lost in the flood of German refugees.

    I sat down at my desk. I had no desire for food or drink. But I terribly longed to have some living creature with whom I could share my thoughts. I felt utterly weary and exhausted. Suddenly I remembered that I had not cleaned my weapons after my drive to the woods. To escape from my thoughts I began to oil the pistol. That gave me some measure of relief.

    The night peered in at the window. My room was half in darkness. My only light was the desk-lamp, burning brightly beneath its shade. In the yellow light the oily pistol gleamed coldly. I stared without thinking at the lifeless metal. That gleam drew me, held my eyes.

    I tried to tear my gaze away, and looked about me. I caught sight of a dark, hunched figure standing on one corner of my desk. Just where light and darkness met a black monkey was crouching. Crouching and gazing at me.

    This large bronze statuette had been given me by one of my acquaintances. On a square pedestal of black marble were scattered rolls of parchment, books, retorts, the material symbols of human intellect. Over them crouched a repulsive black ape, squatting with an important air. It held a human skull in its hairy paws, and was staring at it with doltish curiosity. The sculptor had conveyed in bronze all the vanity of human wishes. I set the statuette on my desk, and took little notice of it as a rule.

    But now as I looked at the figure it seemed to stir. I felt mad with myself: was I beginning to suffer from hallucinations? I tried to think of other things, of the past. Once more I recalled the years of war, the Red Square, the Kremlin. Once more the intoxicated cry of inflamed emotion roared in my ears: “First of the first, among the finest of the finest.”

    “Tomorrow you will be last among the last, defeated among the defeated,” I heard a voice.

    Now I tried to think of the future. But before me opened a gray void. I saw that I had to renounce all my past life; I must lose my identity and vanish into the nothingness.

    Into the nothingness.... Perhaps there was an even simpler way of doing that. I looked at the shining barrel of my pistol, reached for it, and played automatically with the safety catch.... It was so simple....

    The emptiness of these days I was passing through pressed me down. All my life I had done my duty, even when I had doubted that it was my duty. I had regarded duty as being the result of faith in the infallibility of the fundamental principle, and had searched obstinately for that central core of rational existence. Today I was convinced that the principle was false. So what?

    Yet again my thoughts turned back to the past: I thought of the impatience with which I had looked to the end of the war, of the passion with which I had dreamed of peaceful life. And now, just when I could return to that peaceful life, just when my dreams would come true, I was throwing it all behind me and going off in the opposite direction. Why? I felt instinctively that the reason sprang out of the danger of a new war. I felt that otherwise I would have returned home despite everything and would have continued to share my joys and sorrows with my country. The possibility of a new war aroused deep and conflicting feelings in me. But where was the connection?

    There are feelings buried so deep in the heart that one cannot trust oneself to speak them out. I had the fate of Germany before my eyes. Now I felt convinced that a similar fate awaited my own country. I knew the criminals who were leading my country to perdition, and I did not wish to share in their crime. I was going out today in order to fight them tomorrow. I didn’t want to admit to these thoughts: they seemed like treachery. And yet to betray a traitor is to be faithful to the fundamental principle. To kill a killer is a praiseworthy deed.

    I lit another cigarette from the dying butt and flung myself back in my chair. I felt an unpleasant, bitter taste in the mouth. In the chilly silence the words beat through my head monotonously:

    ’It is not enough to love your country and freedom, you have to fight for them. Now you see no other possibility of fighting than to go over to the other camp and fight from there. That is your way back to your fatherland.’

    V

    On the seventeenth day I was issued my frontier pass. It was valid for three days, and before the end of the third day I must cross the Soviet frontier at Brest-Litovsk. Whatever happened, I could not remain more than another three days in Karlshorst.

    The dusk was settling in Berlin when, after another day of fruitless wandering, I decided to call on a German acquaintance, the director of a factory, which I had visited from time to time on official business. During these visits I had had many quite frank political conversations with him. That evening, too, we quickly turned to discussion of the future of Germany. I gave expression to my view that the Germans were too optimistic about it.

    “You underestimate the internal danger,” I said. “You’re blindly waiting for the end of the occupation. But even if the Soviet forces are withdrawn from Germany, there will be very little change in the situation. Before that time comes Germany will have been bound hand and foot, she will have been sold wholesale and on a long-term lease!”

    “By whom?” the director asked.

    “That’s what the Socialist Unity Party (S. E. D.) and the People’s Police are for.”

    I knew he had recently joined the S. E. D., and so my words could not be very pleasant for him to hear. He looked at me sidelong, was silent for a moment, then said slowly: “Many of the members of the S. E. D. and the People’s Police have different thoughts from what the occupation authorities would desire.”

    “So much the worse, if they think one thing and do another.”

    “At present we have no other way out. But when the decisive moment comes, believe me, the S. E. D. and the People’s Police will not do as Moscow hopes.”

    “I wish you success!” I smiled.

    After a momentary silence the director turned the conversation into another channel:

    “Well, and how are things going with you?”

    Weary and cold, I only waved my hand hopelessly and sighed:

    “I’m going back to Moscow....”

    He evidently caught the disillusionment in my tone, and stared at me in astonishment. “Aren’t you glad to be going back home? In your place I...”

    “I’m quite prepared to change places with you,” I retorted.

    He threw me another swift glance and interpreted my words to his own satisfaction. “So you like Germany more than Russia?” he asked.

    “I could do, if I were not a Soviet officer,” I replied evasively.

    “The victors are envious of the vanquished!” He shook his head thoughtfully. He rose and began to walk about the room.

    Suddenly he halted in front of me and asked:

    “Then why don’t you remain here?”

    “Where’s here?” I asked indifferently.

    “Why, go to one of the other zones!” he exclaimed. He made a vague gesture, surprised that I had not myself thought of such a simple idea.

    “But is that so simple?” I asked, pricking up my mental ears, but remaining outwardly unconcerned.

    For some time he said nothing. Then, apparently coming to a decision, he turned and said in a rather lower voice: “If you wish to remain in Germany there’s nothing simpler than to get across the green frontier.” (’Green frontier’ - a common phrase for crossing frontiers illegally. - Tr )

    I listened still more closely, and asked:

    “Maybe, but what is the American attitude to you if you do?”

    He made a contemptuous gesture. “Oh, spit on the swines! They’re no better than....” He bit his lip.

    I smiled involuntarily. I had the impression that this director, this member of the Socialist Unity Party, was prepared to go to any lengths to reduce the Soviet Army by just one fighting unit! I knew him well; I had no reason to suspect that he was acting as a provocateur. I sat silent. If he was so anxious to win me, let him talk a little more!

    “I have many acquaintances in Thuringia,” he went on. “If you like, I can give you letters of recommendation to people of trust. They’ll willingly help you to get to the other side.” "But how about documents?"

    He shrugged his shoulders: “Today every third man in Germany has false papers.”

    “Where can you get hold of them?”

    “I know a man who’ll be very glad to help you in that direction.” He smiled a little smile, and added: “And by the way, he’s an officer in the People’s Police.”

    Now I decided to show my hand. I changed my tone; my words sounded strong, almost harsh. “Herr Director, you must pardon my reserve. The question we’re discussing has been decided long since. If I hadn’t met you I’d have had no other choice but to make my own way to the West.”

    He was silent for a moment; then he said:

    “Even when I had only business relations with you I noticed that you were different from the others. They have only one word: ’Hand over! Hand over!’” (He used the Russian word: ’Davai! Davai!’)

    We got down to discussion of the details. He promised to provide me with documents in case I found it necessary to remain in Berlin and against the possibility of my being stopped on the road. After we had arranged to meet next day, I left his house and went into the street. It was still as dark and as bitterly cold as two hours before. But now I did not feel the cold; the air seemed to have a vital freshness to it.

    Next day I met him again. With true German reliability he set a German identity card on the desk in front of me. At the window a young, fair-haired German with a military carriage was standing. The director introduced us to each other. Two men in civilian dress shook each other’s hands, and clicked their heels from sheer habit. We filled in the identity card. A bitter smile crossed my face as I read my new name: my German sheepdog had had the same name. For the first time in my life I had my fingerprints taken. A German police seal was stamped over my photograph. I had a feeling that after stamping it the German looked at me with different eyes.

    The officer of the People’s Police went so far in his kindness as to say he would himself accompany me to the frontier. He had already obtained a few days’ leave, and would take the opportunity to visit relations in Thuringia.

    To provide against all contingencies I decided to take with me one of my old official authorizations for a visit to Thuringia, stating that I was traveling on a special commission for Marshal Sokolovsky. If the German police checked my papers on the road they would see Soviet documents and these had the same effect on them as a snake on a rabbit. If a Soviet patrol made a check, in the car would be a man who had lost his identity.

    We arranged that the police officer was to drive to a street just outside Karlshorst at one o’clock the next afternoon, and then would ring me up.

    As I was saying goodbye to the director, he asked me:

    “But tell me! Why, in reality, have you, a Soviet officer, decided to turn your back on the Soviet Union?”

    “On the same ground that you, a member of the S. E. D., have decided to help this Soviet officer,” I replied, warmly shaking his hand.

    VI

    Next day I sprang out of bed before daylight had fully come. I felt an unusual influx of strength and energy. Today, whatever happened, I had got to leave Karlshorst. Twenty days had passed since I had been given the fateful order. My frontier pass expired today, and before its close I must be in Brest-Litovsk. If I were found in Karlshorst, I would have great difficulty in explaining my presence. Every unnecessary minute that I remained here increased the danger.

    I had ordered a ticket and reserved a seat in the Moscow train. Be-fore I left Berlin I would call on the military commandant at the Schlesische station and register my departure. Now I must leave my apartment in a state indicating that I had gone back to Moscow. I made my final preparations. Lighting the stove, I destroyed the contents of my desk. An inexplicable feeling of freedom possessed me. Packets of documents, authorizations bearing the S. M. A. seal, flew into the stove. Photographs of myself were melted in flame: myself against the ruined Reichstag, among the marble statues of the Siegesallee, in the Tiergarten, with Marshal Zhukov and General Eisenhower on the Tempelhof airfield.

    Letters from dear and loved friends were consumed to ash. My last spiritual bonds with the past went up in smoke. I was seized with a passion for destruction. The feeling that I was cutting myself off from all my past life, together with the absolute emptiness of the future, left only one gnawing desire alive within me: to destroy everything with my own hands. It did not even occur to me that these documents and papers might be of use to me some time or other, that it might be better to put them somewhere in safe keeping. I was quite indifferent to what might happen to me in the future. Today I was a man who had lost his identity, a man without a past, without a name, without a native land.

    I sat down at my desk and wrote letters, which I intended to post in the Karlshorst post-box. In all probability I would never have another opportunity of writing to these people. Every letter consisted of only one brief sentence: ’Today I am traveling to Moscow’, together with a last greeting, and my signature. In all my personal letters my signature always clearly revealed the mood in which I had written. Today the signature was clear, firm, and sure, like a judicial sentence. It would tell the recipients everything.

    My mind went over all the possibilities of a failure in my plans, and all that must be done in each instance. I had enough weapons and cartridges. The one thing I knew for certain was that I would not be taken alive.

    I shaved and dressed with unusual care; I even scented my handkerchief. At that moment I realized why sailors have the custom of putting on their best underwear and uniform when going into battle. The long days of inner conflict, of tormenting search for a way out, the consciousness of continual danger, had left their traces. Now I felt that my nerves were strained to breaking point. I knew that sooner or later there would come a reaction, a discharge î tension. I must get to the frontier and across, and then I could lie down and close my eyes. There I would be indifferent to the entire world. One way or another, at that point I would be only a corpse, living or dead.

    I looked at the clock, and suddenly had the alarming thought; supposing my guide should change his mind, or was afraid to drive right up to the Berlin Kremlin? Then there would be nothing for it but to go out, thrust my hands in my pockets, and make my way westward with the aid of a map. But again I thought that it would all be settled today, and that comforted me.

    With my greatcoat flung round my shoulders I began to wander once more from corner to corner. The room was cold and empty. My footfalls sounded very loud on the bare floor. The clock struck twelve. Still another hour. I was emptied of all thought. I only waited for that ring.

    There was a sharp ring at the doorbell; the sound cut through the tense silence. I stood listening. For days I had not answered any telephone calls and had not opened the door to callers. The bell rang again: long, insistently. I put my right hand in my coat pocket and listened. The bell rang still more imperatively. With a deliberately unhurried step, my hand still in my pocket, I went to open it. I opened it with my left hand.

    In the gray twilight of the wintry day I saw a man in M. V. D. uniform. I stared at him with unseeing eyes, and felt my pistol barrel slowly lifting the lining of my pocket. The man stood silent and motionless. I made an effort and looked into his face. Then I realized that he was Andrei Kovtun. He did not enter as was his usual habit, but stood stock-still, as though he could not make up his mind.

    “May I come in?” he said at last.

    I did not answer. How had he known that I was still here? What had he come for? I did not want anybody to see my apartment at this moment; there was much in it that contradicted the impression of a man about to leave for Moscow. I looked at him again. All his face expressed an unusual, mute question.

    “Come in!” I said curtly. I placed myself so that he could go only to my study. He went ahead of me and tried not to look about him. His step was listless and irresolute. I glanced out at the staircase, then closed the door. My heavy pistol knocked against my thigh, so I shifted it to my tunic pocket.

    He dropped heavily into his usual chair. I had no idea what to say to him, and switched on the electric fire, simply for the sake of doing something. As I did so I glanced through the window, and noticed that his car was empty.

    “So you’re off?” he said in a peculiar tone.

    “Yes.”

    “When?”

    “Today.”

    “And so you didn’t want to say goodbye to me?”

    There was a painful silence. He did not expect any answer. He leaned his head against the back of his chair, stared up at the ceiling, then closed his eyes. He sat in his greatcoat and cap, not even drawing off his gloves. Only now did it occur to me that we hadn’t shaken hands.

    I glanced at the clock, at the telephone, then again at Andrei. I had not seen him often since our journey to Moscow. I had the impression that he was avoiding me. Now I realized how much he had changed since that time. His face was haggard, aged; the shining skin was drawn tightly across his forehead. His features were set in the expression common to people incurably ill. All his bearing expressed hopeless weariness.

    The minutes passed. He sat without stirring, his eyes closed. I stared through the window into the street, and aimlessly tapped my foot on the floor.

    “Am I in your way?” he asked quietly. For the first time I caught a tone of uncertainty, almost helplessness, in his voice. I felt a wave of pity for him. He was only the empty husk of a man. But I did not trust him; his M. V. D. uniform forbade that. I glanced out into the street again. If they were to come for me now, Andrei would get my first bullet.

    At that moment the doorbell sounded again. A short, uncertain ring. Only a stranger would ring like that. I went out and opened the door. Two small, mute figures were standing outside. I saw their white, childish faces, their hands blue with the cold. Refugee children.

    “Khlepa!” - the Russian word for bread sounded queerly distorted in the mouths of these German children. “Khlepa!” The word was quietly repeated. In their eyes was neither entreaty nor expectation, only childish helplessness. I felt a lump in my throat. These wretched figures seemed like a spectral premonition of that which awaited me.

    Without speaking I beckoned to them to enter, found my old military kitbag in the kitchen, and filled it with everything I could. They had difficulty in dragging it to the door. I saw them out.

    As I closed the door I heard a vague muttering behind me: “That wasn’t just chance.... That’s a sign....” I stared at Andrei in amazement. He drooped his head, avoiding my gaze, and whispered:

    “God sent them.”

    He dropped back into his chair. The clock said half-past twelve.

    I realized that I had not had anything to eat all the morning. I must have strength for whatever lay ahead. I cut some bread and butter, and forced myself to eat. I put a second plate in front of Andrei. As I leaned over the table I saw that his eyes were fixed on my coat. The greatcoat had swung open, and the butt of my pistol was poking out from my tunic pocket. I felt my mouth go dry.

    Before returning to the U. S. S. R. Soviet officers had to hand over all their weapons. Any attempt to smuggle a weapon across the frontier was sternly punished. A major in the State Security Service would know that best of all. I drew my greatcoat round me as casually as possible and gave him a sidelong look. There was no astonishment in his eyes; his face was quite tranquil. The hands of the clock crept nearer to the appointed hour.

    “In all probability we shall never see each other again.” Andrei broke the oppressive silence. His words were not said in a questioning tone, but rather as an answer to his own thought. “... And you didn’t want to say goodbye,” he added sorrowfully.

    I was silent; I pretended I had not heard his remark.

    “All my life I’ve never trusted you.” His words came slowly and quietly. “When I did begin to believe in you, you did not believe or trust me....”

    His words cut me to the heart, but I could not say anything in answer. I knew only one thing: in a moment the telephone would be ringing, and if anybody got in my way I would shoot.

    Again I caught myself wondering: how had he known I was still here, and that I was going today? During these latter days there had been many possibilities... Perhaps he had learnt the news in the course of his official duties? Perhaps in his pocket he had an order for my arrest? I forced that thought away from me, and got up and walked about the room.

    Andrei’s voice, the voice of a major in the State Security Service, came as an answer to my thoughts:

    “Don’t be angry at my coming here...”

    The clock ticked like falling drops of water.

    Quietly, almost inaudibly, he went on:

    “If I hadn’t come, others would have...”

    I wandered about the room, glancing from time to time at the clock.

    “Perhaps you’d like to borrow my car?” he asked.

    “No, thanks...”

    “So you’re going, and I remain.” He spoke again. “I can be of more use if I remain at my post... If you ever think of me, Grisha, then remember... I do what I can.”

    Once more the silence filled the chilly room-broken only by the clock ticking.

    “Won’t you give me something as a keepsake?” He spoke again. His voice sounded strangely unsure, almost unhappy.

    I looked round my empty room. My gaze rested on the black monkey crouching on the desk. I stared at it fixedly, as though expecting it to move.

    “Take that.” I nodded at the bronze statuette.

    “A black ape is sitting on the world,” he muttered. “And a man strives after the good, the pure... and then you see that it’s all filth...”

    The telephone bell rang out like a pistol shot. Unhurriedly I picked up the receiver. I heard the words in German:

    “The car is here.”

    “Very good!” I answered, also in German.

    “Well... now I’ve got to go.” I turned to Andrei.

    He rose heavily from his chair and went with a wooden step to the door. I followed him. With a forced movement, as though he was mortally weary, he drew his greatcoat down. The collar caught in the gold epaulette of his tunic. He stared at his shoulder, then pulled on his greatcoat so violently that the epaulette was ripped away.

    “The wings... of a slave!” the words sounded heavy and slow in the silence. They were uttered with such a depth of bitterness that involuntarily I shivered.

    “I wish you a good journey!” he said, and held out his hand. I took his hand and shook it. He stared into my eyes, tried to say some-thing, but only gave me another firm handshake and went down the stairs. I gazed after him, but he did not turn round.

    I stood listening until the sound of his car died away. Several minutes had passed. It was time I was going.

    I had already handed in the keys of my apartment, and now I had only to shut the door. For a moment I hesitated on the threshold, then slammed the door hard behind me. The lock clicked home. Now there was no way back.

    I turned and walked out of the house: to face the future.

    Sommaire https://seenthis.net/messages/683905
    #anticommunisme #histoire #Berlin #occupation #guerre_froide

  • Gregory Klimov. The Terror Machine. Chapter 18
    http://g-klimov.info/klimov-pp-e/ETM18.htm

    The Wings of a Slave
    At the beginning of 1947, Mikoyan, member of the Politburo and plenipotentiary extraordinary of the Soviet Council of Ministers for the economic assimilation of the occupied areas and the satellite countries, made an exhaustive inspection tour of the Soviet zone. Afterwards he had a long conference with Marshal Sokolovsky and his deputy for economic questions, Comrade Koval.

    This conference discussed the results of the economic reorganization of the Soviet zone. The land reform, which had been accomplished shortly after the capitulation, had not achieved any decisive economic effect. This fact did not disturb or even surprise either Mikoyan or Marshal Sokolovsky. With its aid certain necessary tactical results had been achieved; in particular, a basis had been laid for an offensive against the peasants, as well as the prerequisites for the final collectivization of agriculture.

    In the industrial sphere, after the mass dismantling process and the socialization of the small enterprises as landeseigener Betrieb (district-owned works), the S. M. A.’s biggest measure was the practical unification of all the Soviet zone basic industry in an enormous industrial concern known as ’Soviet Joint Stock Companies’. This measure, which had been dictated by Moscow, came under special consideration at the Mikoyan-Sokolovsky conference.

    Late in the summer of 1946, Comrade Koval, the commander-in-chief’s deputy for economic questions, had returned from a visit to Moscow, bringing with him new secret instructions. Shortly after, mysterious documents began to circulate between the Administration for Industry, the Administration for Reparations, and Koval’s office.

    These documents were referred to in whispers as ’List of or ’List of 235’. The figure changed continually; it indicated the list of enterprises, which it was proposed to transform into Soviet Joint Stock Companies. The lists were sent to Moscow for confirmation, and they returned in the form of appendices to an official decree concerning the organization of an ’Administration for Soviet Joint Stock Companies in Germany’.

    This administration, which took over the former Askania Company’s building in Berlin-Weissensee for its headquarters, controlled thirteen Soviet joint stock companies in the more important industrial spheres, and these thirteen included some 250 of the larger industrial works in the Soviet zone. By the statutes of the new concern 51 per cent of the shares of the works thus included were to be Soviet-owned. Thus practically the entire industry in the Soviet zone came into Soviet hands, not only by right of conquest and for the duration of the occupation, but also for all future time.

    At the 1945 Potsdam Conference, in which Stalin had taken an active part, great attention had been paid to the question of de-cartellizing German economy, and it had been decided to liquidate the big German industrial concerns, which were regarded not only as an important economic factor, but also as a political factor frequently aggressive in its nature. As a result, one of the first items on the agenda of the Allied Control Commission was this question of the liquidation of the German concerns, and in his time General Shabalin was active in pressing for the matter to be tackled.

    But now, again on orders from Moscow, the largest industrial concern not only of Germany, but perhaps of the whole world was founded. Its economic and also political importance surpasses anything of the kind existing hitherto in Germany or in Europe. And this super-concern is no longer in German but in Soviet hands. In the present struggle for Germany and Europe the S. A. G. (Sowjet Aktienge-sellschaften) will be a strong weapon in Kremlin hands.

    All the economic measures taken by the S. M. A. in Germany, like the Kremlin’s economic policy generally pursue far-reaching political aims. The object of this transformation of the Soviet zone is to fetter it with powerful economic chains. It provides a necessary economic basis for a further political advance.

    Mikoyan was not the only member of the Politburo to visit: Germany about this time. Beria, the Soviet Minister for Home Affairs, made a similar tour of inspection through the lands of Eastern Europe and eastern Germany. He, too, had a long conference with Sokolovsky and the head of the S. M. A. Administration for Internal Affairs, Colonel-General Serov. This conference discussed measures to strengthen the internal political front. The sequence of events was logical enough: the master for extermination affairs followed the master for economic exploitation.

    One of the results of Beria’s visit to Karlshorst was a further purge of the S. M. A. personnel. A growing number of the officers who had been with the S. M. A. from the beginning were recalled to the Soviet Union. Their place was taken by new men from Moscow; they were recognizable at first glance as the purest of Party-men. The change of personnel in Karlshorst was in full accord with the Kremlin’s post-war policy, which was directed towards placing all the key-points in Party hands. Once more one could not help being struck by the difference between ’nominal Party-men’ and ’pure Party-men’. Almost every Soviet officer was a Party-member, but the Party was far from regarding them all as ’pure Party-men’.

    More than eighteen months had passed since Karlshorst had been transformed into the Berlin Kremlin. Since then both the world and Karlshorst had been subjected to many changes. Many of these changes had been the result of Karlshorst’s own activities as an advanced post of Soviet foreign policy. Parallel with this there had been a change in the international atmosphere, and the people in Karlshorst had been the first to become conscious of it.

    We were left with only the memory of the time when Russians had been welcomed everywhere as liberators and allies. The Kremlin’s post-war policy had left not a trace of the sympathy which Russian soldiers had won in the world. The Russian people’s heroism and self-sacrifice in the fight for their native country had assured the Soviet Union a leading place among the world powers, and had led to unexpected results.

    The Kremlin had decided to exploit this situation for the aims of their foreign policy. Instead of the breathing space, which the Russian people had hoped for and expected, they now had to carry all the burdens involved in the Kremlin’s risky political game. Menacing clouds were again beginning to gather on the horizon. It was the people in the Karlshorst outpost who saw those clouds most clearly. We were not fond of talking about the danger of a new war, but we thought of it, and our hearts sank.

    As events developed, we were more and more forced to think about this danger. It seemed stupid and unnatural, but the facts spoke for themselves. Many people tried to convince themselves that the Allies’ post-war dissensions were simply in the nature of disputes over the division of the spoils. But that was a poor pretext. We Soviet officers were too well grounded in the Marxist-Leninist theory of world revolution to believe it.

    We, the Soviet men who stood on the bounds of the two worlds, and who had lived through all the development of relations between the Allies since the capitulation, we who had been personally convinced that the West was genuinely striving, and still is striving, for peace, and who had seen the sabotage of every attempt to achieve friendly cooperation with the Soviets - we knew a great deal that our people at home did not and could not know.

    We well remembered the first few months after Germany’s capitulation. The Western Allies demobilized their armies as swiftly as transport conditions allowed. Meanwhile the Soviet command as swiftly brought up its shattered divisions to fighting strength, completing their complement of men and officers, and supplying new tanks and aeroplanes. We racked our brains over the question: what for?

    Perhaps it was necessary to have an armed fist when negotiating at the diplomatic table? Subsequent events showed what it was all for. The Kremlin regarded the will to peace as a mark of weakness, and democracy’s demobilization as providing an opportunity for further aggression. What else could the democracies do but re-arm? That meant a new armaments race instead of Russia’s peaceful economic restoration; it meant all that we had known so well before the war. And where would it all lead to?

    When political passions begin to play on national sentiments - something the Kremlin particularly desires - when the armaments race is at its height, it will be difficult to determine who began it all and who is to blame. And then, quite naturally, each side will accuse the other.

    But this time, we members of the Soviet occupation forces know one thing perfectly: no matter what comes, all the blame for the consequences will lie solely and simply on the shoulders of the men in the Kremlin. This time we know who started to play with the gunpowder barrel. This time we have no doubt of the prime and original cause of the new war danger.

    II

    The more the atmosphere darkened, the more monotonous grew life in Karlshorst. The days dragged past, gray and boring. On one of these gray days I went to do my usual twenty-four-hour tour of duty on the staff, which I had to perform once a month.

    The officer on duty in the S. M. A. staff headquarters had to spend the daytime in the commander-in-chief’s waiting room, and during this time he acted as assistant adjutant to the marshal. During the night he was alone on duty in the marshal’s office, and acted as adjutant.

    At six o’clock in the evening I took my place as usual in the waiting room. Marshal Sokolovsky was in Potsdam, so the place was empty. The adjutant left at half-past seven, leaving me in charge, alone. To inform myself on current matters I glanced through the files on the desk and all the documents. The time passed imperceptibly, my only interruption being telephone calls.

    At midnight, in accordance with regulations, I took the marshal’s seat at the desk in his room, in order to be ready if direct calls came through. It was quite common for the Kremlin to ring up in the middle of the night, and then the telephonogram had to be taken down and passed on to its destination.

    As I sat at the desk I began to order the papers littered over it. Among them was a duplicated Information Bulletin. This bulletin was intended only for the higher staff, and was a top-secret document, with every copy numbered. I began to look through it.

    The contents were very illuminating: they were a detailed collection of all the things that the Soviet press carefully ignores or even flatly denies. If a Soviet citizen dared to speak of such things aloud, he would be accused of being a counter-revolutionary, with all its con-sequences. But this was an official information bulletin for the use of the S. M. A. commander.

    It is a serious mistake to attempt to justify the Soviet leaders’ conduct by arguing that they are not acquainted with a particular problem, or lack information on it. At one time peasant representatives made a habit of traveling from remote villages on a pilgrimage to the Kremlin gates. They naively thought that behind the Kremlin walls Stalin did not see what was happening all around him, that they had only to tell him the truth and everything would be altered. The peasants’ representatives sacrificed their lives, and everything continued as before. The Soviet leaders are fully informed, and are entirely responsible for anything that occurs.

    In the middle of the night I resolved to ring up Genia. I made contact with the Moscow exchange, and waited a long time for an answer. At last a sleepy voice sounded: “Well?”

    “Genia,” I said, “this is Berlin speaking. What’s the news in Moscow?”

    “Ah, so it’s you!” I heard a distant sigh. “I thought you’d dropped out completely.”

    “Oh no... not completely. What’s the news?” "Nothing. Life’s a bore..." “How’s your father?” "Gone off again." “Where to this time?”

    “He sent me a silk gown recently. So I expect it’s somewhere there... But how are things with you?”

    “I’m sitting in the marshal’s chair.” "Are you intending to come to Moscow soon?" “When I’m sent.”

    “I’m so bored here alone,” she said. “Do come soon!”

    We had a long talk, and dreamed of our future meeting, thought of all we would do, discussed plans for the future. It was a dream to which we resorted in order to avoid the present. At that moment I regretted that I was not in Moscow, and sincerely wanted to go back.

    The sleepless night passed. The day arrived, and with it generals from the provinces fussed around, German representatives of the new democracy lurked timidly in corners. Just before six o’clock in the evening, when my turn of duty ended, an engineer named Sykov came in to talk over a proposed hunting expedition with me. We were interrupted by the telephone. I picked up the receiver and replied with the usual formula: “Officer on duty in the staff.” It was Koval, the commander’s deputy on economic questions, and my immediate superior.

    “Comrade Klimov?”

    “Yes.”

    “Come and see me for a moment.”

    ’He asked for me personally,’ I thought as I went to his room. ’What’s the hurry?’

    He greeted me with the question: “I suppose you don’t happen to know what this is all about?” He held out a sheet of paper bearing an order from the S. M. A. staff headquarters. I took it and read:

    ’The directing engineer, G. P. Klimov, being a highly qualified specialist in Soviet economy, is to be demobilized from the Soviet Army and freed from duty in the Soviet Military Administration to return to the Soviet Union for further utilization in accordance with his special qualifications.’

    For a moment I could not grasp its import. It left me with a decidedly unpleasant feeling. There was something not quite in order here. A certain formal courtesy was always observed towards responsible personnel; in such cases there was a preliminary personal talk.

    “You haven’t yourself applied to be transferred to Moscow?” Koval asked.

    “No,” I answered, still rather preoccupied.

    “It’s signed by the chief of staff, and there was no prior agreement with me.” Koval shrugged his shoulders.

    Five minutes later I walked into the office of the head of the Personnel Department. I had had frequent opportunities to meet Colonel Utkin, so he knew me personally. Without waiting for my question, he said:

    “Well, may I congratulate you? You’re going home...”

    “Comrade Colonel, what’s at the back of it?” I asked.

    I was interested to discover what was at the bottom of the unexpected order. Workers in Karlshorst were not recalled to Moscow without good reason. As a rule, when members of the S. M. A. applied to be returned home the staff turned down the request.

    “I’m disturbed not so much by what the order says, as by its form,” I continued. “What does it mean?”

    Utkin was silent for a moment or two, then he said with some reluctance: “The Political Administration is involved. Between ourselves, I’m surprised you’ve held out here so long as you’re a non-Party man.”

    I shook hands with him gratefully. As I turned to leave he advised me: “Bear in mind that after your frontier pass has been issued you must leave in three days. If there’s any necessity, hang out the transfer of your work.”

    I left his room with a feeling of relief. Now everything was clear. As I went along the dimly lighted corridor I was gradually possessed by strange feeling; I felt that my body was receiving an influx of strength; my soul was mastered by an inexplicable feeling of freedom. I had had exactly that same feeling when I first heard of the outbreak of war. And I had had it when I first put on my military uniform. It was the presentiment of great changes to come. It was the breath of the unknown in my face.

    Now, as I walked along the corridors of the S. M. A. headquarters I again felt the breath of this unknown. It slightly intoxicated me

    I went home through the empty streets of Karlshorst. Behind the fences the trees were swinging their bare branches. The harsh German winter was in possession - darkness and stillness. A passer-by saluted me - I answered automatically. I was in no hurry. My step was slow and thoughtful. It was as though I were not taking the well-known road home, but standing at the beginning of a long road. I looked about me, I took in deep breaths of air, and I felt the ground beneath my feet as I had not felt it for a long time. Strange, inexplicable feelings swept over me.

    Hardly had I shut the door of my apartment when Sykov came in. By my face he saw at once that something had happened. “Where are you being sent to?” he asked. “Moscow,” I answered briefly. “What for?”

    Without taking off my greatcoat I went to my desk and silently drummed on it with my fingers. “But why?” he asked again.

    “I haven’t provided myself with the red book soon enough,” I answered reluctantly.

    He stared at me commiserately. Then he put his hand in a pocket, took out a long piece of red cardboard and turned it over in his fingers.

    “What would it have cost you?” he asked, gazing at his Party-ticket. “You shout your ’Hail!’ once a week at the Party meeting, and afterward you can go to the toilet and rinse your mouth.”

    His words made an unpleasant impression on me. I instinctively reflected that that piece of cardboard must still be warm with the warmth of his body. As though he had guessed my thoughts, he went on: “I myself remained at the candidate stage for six years. Until I couldn’t keep it up any longer.”

    His presence and his remarks began to irritate me. I wanted to be left to myself. He invited me to go with him to the club. I refused.

    “I’m going to have a game of billiards,” he remarked as he went to the door. “A cannon off two cushions, and no ideology about it.”

    I remained standing by my desk. I was still wearing my greatcoat. The coat round my shoulders strengthened my feeling that I was on my way. I tried sitting down, but jumped up again at once. I couldn’t sit quietly. Something was burning inside me. I wandered about the room with my hands in my pockets.

    I switched on the radio. The cheerful music plucked at my nerves, and I switched it off. The telephone bell rang. I did not bother to answer it. The German maid had prepared my supper; it was waiting on the table for me. I didn’t even look at it, but paced from corner to corner, my head sunk on my chest.

    The order had burst the dam, which had long been holding me back. I felt that inside me everything was shattered, everything was in turmoil. And at the same time something was slowly crawling towards me from afar. Something inexorable and joyless.

    Today I must cast up accounts.

    Today only one thing was clear: I did not believe in that which I had at the back of me. But if I returned to Moscow - I must at once join the Party, a Party - in which I did not believe. There was no other way. I would have to do it in order to save my life, to have the right to exist. All my life thenceforth I would lie and pretend, simply for the sake of the bare possibility of existence. Of that I had no doubt. I had examples before my eyes. Andrei Kovtun, a man in a blind alley. Mikhail Belyavsky, a man beyond the pale. Major Dubov, a man in a vacuum. But wasn’t I a man in a vacuum too? How long could that continue?

    I would have a home, and wait for the nocturnal knock at the door. I would get married, only to distrust my own wife. I would have children, who might at any time betray me or become orphans ashamed of their father.

    At these thoughts the blood rushed to my head. My collar choked me. A hot wave of fury rose in my throat. I felt so hot that my greatcoat seemed too heavy for me. At the moment I still had my greatcoat round my shoulders and a weapon in my hand. I didn’t want to part from that coat, or from that weapon. Why not?

    If I returned, sooner or later I would go under. Why? I had no belief in the future. But what had I had in the past? I tried to recall that past. When I first saw the light of this world the flames of revolution were playing in my eyes. I grew up to be a restless wolf-cub, and those flames continually flickered in my eyes. I was a wolf-cub of the Stalin generation; I fought with teeth and claws for my life and thrust my way forward. Now the Stalin wolf-cub was at the height of his powers, surveying the point he had reached.

    Today I had to confess to myself: all my life I had forced myself to believe in something I could not believe in, even from the day of my birth. All my life I had only sought a compromise with life. And if any one of my contemporaries were to say that he believed, I would call him a liar, a coward. Did such men, as Sykov really believe?

    I strode about my room, my eyes on my boots. They had trodden the earth from Moscow to Berlin. I remembered the flaming and smoking years of the war, the fiery font in which my feeling of responsibility to my native land was awakened. Once more I saw the Red Square and the walls of the Kremlin lit up with the fiery salutes of victory. Days of pride and glory, when one cried aloud with excess of emotion. In my ears sounded once more the words that had throbbed in my breast: ’Among the first of the first, among the finest of the finest you are marching today across the Red Square.’

    Now I was marching from one corner of my room to the other, like a caged wolf. Yes, the war had knocked us off our balance. Blinded by the struggle for our native land, we forgot a great deal in those days. At that time it could not be otherwise, there was no other way.

    Those who took another way.... With a bitter pang I recalled the early days of the war. I am deeply grateful to Fate that I was saved the necessity of making a very difficult decision. By the time it came to my turn to put on the soldier’s greatcoat I knew clearly that the way of the Russians was not with the Germans. And I fought to the end. I fought for something in which I did not believe. I fought, consoling myself with hopes.

    Now I no longer had those hopes. Now I felt that we had gone wrong, we had not accomplished our task, but had trusted to promises. That was why I did not want to take off the greatcoat. It wasn’t too late yet!

    Now menacing clouds were again gathering on the horizon. If I returned to Moscow, I would once more be confronted with the same bitter decision as in June 1941. Once more I would have to defend something I had no wish to defend.

    Still more, now I was convinced that the men in the Kremlin were leading my country along a road to perdition. Nobody was threatening us. On the contrary, we were threatening the entire world. That was an unnecessary and dangerous game. If we won, what good would it do us? If we were defeated, who would bear the guilt, and who would pay the Kremlin’s accounts? Every one of us!

    I had passed through days of anxiety for my country, through battles and through victory. And in addition I had seen with my own eyes all the bitterness of defeat. Germany in the dust was a good example of that. Germany was writhing in the convulsions of hunger and shame - but where were the guilty ones? Were only leaders guilty, or the entire nation?

    If the war broke out, it would be too late then. War has its own laws. Those whom the Kremlin had turned into enemies would regard us as enemies. They did not want war, but if war was inevitable they would wage it to defend their own interests. So what was left for us to do: be again a chip in the hands of criminal gamesters?

    Hour after hour I walked about my room, with my greatcoat round my shoulders. It was long past midnight, but I had no thought of sleep. There was a void behind me and a void before me. I had only one conscious and definite realization: I could not go back. One thought hammered continually in my head: what was I to do?

    Not until early in the morning did I feel tired. Then I lay down on my bed without undressing. And I fell asleep with my greatcoat drawn over my head.

    III

    During the next few days I began to hand over my work, bit by bit. Following Colonel Utkin’s advice I deliberately dragged out the process. Without yet knowing why, I sought to gain time. And continually I was oppressed with the same tormenting thoughts and the one inexorable question: what was I to do?

    On one of these days I stepped out of the Underground station on Kurfurstendamm, in the British sector. I was wearing civilian clothes; my boots squelched in the damp ooze of melting snow. The familiar streets seemed strange and unfriendly. I walked along aimlessly, running my eyes over the nameplates at the entrances to the houses. My finger played with the trigger of the pistol in my coat pocket.

    Finally I made my choice of nameplate and went into the house. It had been a luxurious place - it still had a broad marble staircase. Now the stairs were unlit, a chilly wind blew through the unglazed windows. After some difficulty I found the door I was seeking, and rang the bell. A girl with a coat flung round her shoulders opened to me.

    “Can I see Herr Diels?” I asked.

    “What about?” she asked pleasantly. “A private matter,” I curtly answered.

    She showed me in and asked me to wait a moment. I sat in the lawyer’s cold, dark reception room, while the girl disappeared. A few moments later she returned and said: “The Herr Doctor will see you.”

    I entered an enormous, unheated office. An elderly gentleman in gold-rimmed spectacles rose from his desk to meet me. “What can I do for you?” he asked, offering me a seat. He rubbed his frozen hands, probably expecting some ordinary case of divorce.

    “My request is rather unusual, Doctor,” I said. For the first lime in my intercourse with Germans I felt a little awkward.

    “Oh, you needn’t feel any constraint with me,” he said with a professional smile.

    “I am a Russian officer,” I said slowly, instinctively lowering my voice.

    The lawyer smiled genially, to indicate that he felt highly honored by my visit. “Only the other day another Soviet officer called on me with a German girl,” he said, obviously seeking to encourage me.

    I hardly listened to his explanation of why the other Russian officer had visited him. I was thinking with chagrin: ’I’ve made a bad start...’ But it was too late to retreat, and I decided to speak out.

    “You see, I’m being demobilized and sent back to Russia. I shan’t burden you with explanations as to the why and wherefore. To put it briefly, I want to go to Western Germany.”

    The smile vanished from his face. For a moment or two he did not know what to say. Then he prudently asked: “Ah... and what can I do about that?”

    “I must get into contact with the Allies,” I said. “I wish to ask for political asylum. I can’t do that myself. If I’m seen with any Allied official or if I’m observed coming out of an Allied office... that’s too great a risk for me to run. So I’d like to ask you to help me.”

    The silence lasted some minutes. Then I noticed that Herr Diels was behaving in a queer manner. He fidgeted restlessly on his chair, searched for something in his pocket, turned over the papers on his desk.

    “Yes, yes... I understand,” he murmured. “I, too, am a victim of the Nazi regime.”

    He took out a letter-case and hurriedly ran through innumerable letters. At last he found what he was seeking, and with a trembling hand held out a paper to me. It had been carefully reinforced at the folds and obviously was in frequent use.

    “You see, I’ve even got a certificate testifying to that fact,” he said.

    I glanced through the document. It stated that the possessor was a victim of Nazism, and almost a communist. I again had the unpleasant feeling that I had come to the wrong address. I realized that the lawyer was afraid of something and was trying to secure himself.

    “Herr Doctor, to be frank I’d rather deal with the most rabid of Nazis at this moment,” I said as I handed back his document.

    “Who recommended you to come to me?” he asked irresolutely.

    “No one. I took a chance. I have to act in the knowledge that I cannot trust anybody in my immediate surroundings. I hoped you’d be in a position to help me. But if you can’t for any reason, at any rate there’s no reason why you should do me any harm.”

    Herr Diels sat sunken in thought. Finally he appeared to come to some decision. He turned to me again. “But tell me, what surety can I have that you...” He concentratedly turned the pencil over and over in his hand and avoided looking me in the face. Then, as though making up his mind, he raised his eyes and said a little hesitantly: “... that you’re not an agent of that... of the G. P. U?”

    The former name of that well-known organization jarred in my ears. Apparently the Germans didn’t know its present name yet. Despite the seriousness of my position, his question made me smile. The very thing I feared in others I was myself suspected of. I simply shrugged my shoulders and said: “I haven’t had an opportunity to think that one out as yet, Herr Doctor. All I’m concerned with at the moment is with saving my own head from that... G. P. U.”

    He sat very still, thinking aloud: “You speak German well... too well... And besides, this is all so abnormal...” He stared at me fixedly, as though trying to read my thoughts, and said: “Good! I’m an old man and I have experience of men. I believe you’re speaking the truth. Where do you want to go?”

    “To the American zone.”

    “But why the American zone?” He raised his eyebrows in astonishment.

    “Herr Doctor, when a man takes such a step from political considerations it’s natural for him to seek refuge with the strongest enemies of the people he’s escaping from.”

    “Yes, but this is the British sector. I have no contact with the Americans.”

    I realized that this was tantamount to a refusal, and I made one last attempt:

    “Perhaps you could recommend me to one of your colleagues who has got contact with the Americans?”

    “Oh yes, I can do that,” he answered, reaching for his telephone book. He turned up a name in the book, then rose heavily from his desk and went to the door, remarking: “Excuse me a moment. I’ll write out the address for you.”

    He went into the reception room. I heard him speaking to his secretary. Then he exchanged a few words with another visitor. The telephone bell rang more than once. Somebody came and went.

    The minutes dragged past. It was very cold in that unheated room and I began to shiver. I felt a perfectly stupid feeling of utter dependence on the decency of someone who was a complete stranger. I settled deeper in the armchair, drew my coat closer round me and put my right hand in my pocket. I slipped back the safety catch of my pistol, and turned the barrel to cover the door. If a Soviet military patrol came in I would open fire without taking my hand out of my pocket.

    At last the lawyer came back, and held out a slip of paper to me. On it was an address, typewritten. I could not help wondering: ’Is that from prudence, or simply the German habit of always using the typewriter?’

    Suppressing a sigh of relief, I left the house. The streetcars and automobiles were noisy in the gray dusk of the winter evening. People were hurrying along on their way home; each one had somewhere to go. I felt a wretched feeling of loneliness. I drew my cap down over my eyes and plunged into the Underground.

    After a long journey and long wandering through unknown streets at night I found the address Herr Diels had given me: a villa on the outskirts of the city. Dr. von Scheer occupied quite a high position, and it was not easy for me to get a personal interview with him. When at last I was alone with him in his study and explained the reason for my visit he at once got down to business. He took a photocopy of a document from his desk drawer, and showed it to me. It stated that he had official relations with the Soviet central commandatura. I was confronted with all the familiar seals and signatures. I pulled such a face that he could not help smiling.

    “What surety have I that you’re not an agent of this... well, you know!” he asked. He winked and gave me a friendly slap on the knee.

    I could only shrug my shoulders.

    Dr. von Scheer proved to be a businesslike man. After a brief talk he agreed to have a chat with some Americans he knew, and asked me to call again in two days’ time. I went home wondering whether he was at that moment telephoning to the Soviet commandatura to inform them of my visit.

    Two days later I went to keep the appointment. I had very mixed feelings: hopes of success, and expectations of an ambush. He curtly informed me that his talks had been fruitless. The Americans didn’t wish to have anything to do with the matter. Evidently for the same reason: ’What surety have we...?’

    I thanked the doctor for his kindness, groped my way down the steps of his house, and strode through the darkness of Berlin. I could not use my automobile with its Soviet registration number, and I had to go home by streetcar. So once more I stood on the rear platform, surrounded by bustling people on their way home from work.

    At one of the stops close to the Control Commission a Soviet officer got on, and stood beside me. He was an elderly, benevolent-looking man, with a document-case. Evidently he had been detained in the Control Commission and so had missed the service omnibuses. At the sight of the familiar uniform I felt a touch of anxiety.

    Suddenly he turned to me and asked me some question in German. I answered in German. As I did so I felt a clutching at my heart. Here was the beginning of it all! I no longer trusted anybody; I did not even dare to admit that I was a Russian.

    As I changed from one streetcar to another I noticed a German policeman not far off. With no clear idea of what I had in mind I went up to him and asked where I could find the American consulate. He evidently guessed I was not a German, and shone his lantern over me from head to foot.

    In post-war Germany foreigners who were not wearing Allied uniform or did not possess an allied passport were beyond the legal pale. I had often seen such people wandering aimlessly about Berlin. The policeman evidently took me for one of these, and stared at me suspiciously. He was used to such individuals avoiding the police like the plague. “We don’t give such information,” he answered at last, and shone the lantern at me again, evidently half minded to ask me for my documents. It was well that he didn’t, for I would have been in an awkward predicament: German police were under orders to salute Soviet officers.

    The policeman walked away. I had a feeling of breathlessness in my chest. This incident marked the beginning of the road I had decided to follow. Where I was going I would have neither a pistol nor a valid document assuring me a place in life.

    As I opened the door of my Karlshorst apartment I heard the telephone ringing. I did not bother to answer. I didn’t want to see or speak to anybody. I felt that I must have time to think over all that had happened, and to consider the future.

    Once more I began my restless wandering from corner to corner. So my attempts to make contact with the Allies had been futile. It wasn’t so simple as I had thought. It had had one result: now I saw clearly that I had got to act at my own risk.

    In thus attempting to make contact with the Allies I had been concerned not so much with the formal aspect of the matter, as with its principle. I knew there was a secret agreement between the American military governor and the Soviet command, under which both parties bound themselves to hand over deserters. The British had been more far-sighted; they hadn’t made such an agreement. But this foresight was not much of a guarantee to a man who was familiar with the ways of the military secret service. Although I had been demobilized, and so could not be regarded as a deserter, I had nothing to show that I was a political émigré.

    The Soviet military authorities had ways of dealing with the situation in which I was placed. They simply made serious criminal charges against any Soviet citizen who attempted to flee, and demanded his extradition on the ground that it was international practice to hand over criminals. Close acquaintance with Lieutenant-Colonel Orlov, the S. M. A. chief military prosecutor, had enabled me to know a great deal about such matters.

    This explains why I attempted to make contact with the West before going over. It was a point that would occur to anyone. But this was only a superficial aspect of the problem, which confronted me. There was another, deeper aspect, which had not occurred to me until now.

    As I walked from corner to corner, reviewing my conduct during the past two or three days, what I had done began to seem an unpardonable stupidity. I simply must not lose all sense of reality. The powerful thought of my break with the past had dominated my mind too much. I had cut myself loose from my past life, and now I was like a blind kitten in a new world. My rejection of half the world had engendered the erroneous idea that the other half was immaculate. I must look the facts soberly in the face.

    I regarded myself as an engineer, and I had forgotten that I was an officer on the Soviet General Staff, one who had been trained in the highest of Kremlin schools. Even at this stage I could still make a triumphal return to Moscow, and travel abroad a month or so later to take a post in a military attaché’s office, to command a whole staff of secret agents, buying and selling those with whom I had just been seeking refuge. And I, who trusted nobody, was demanding trust in myself. Who would believe me, when I myself didn’t know what was going on within me? I was conscious of only one thing: a spring had snapped, and the former mechanism was useless. Had I any right to expect trust? I, an erring Stalin wolf-cub?

    As I strode about my room I heard the words: “An unforgivable stupidity, Comrade Klimov!” I started as I realized that I was talking aloud.

    To think of making contact with the Allies! It was just as well that nothing had come of it! I should know, better than most, the generally accepted rules of the secret war. The other side welcomed only those who had gained its confidence. I knew exactly how that confidence was to be won. A man was of interest to them so long as he brought some benefit. If he were regarded as stupid enough, he was used for propaganda purposes, and finally was flung on the rubbish heap. At times refugees are exchanged against agents who have been caught. It is all done quietly and without fuss. Was that the road I wanted to take?

    “You haven’t learnt my teaching well, Comrade Klimov!” I heard General Biyasi’s voice in my ears.

    I knew that the Soviet intelligence service often sends agents to the West in the guise of refugees. They are covered so well that they remain undiscovered for years. The West is fully aware of this trick. It is true that a Soviet instruction had laid down that, as a rule, people of Russian nationality were not recommended for such activities. On the one hand, Russians arouse suspicion at once; on the other hand, the Soviet regime trusts its own people least of all. But that was a detail the West did not know.

    My inward break with the world of lies had quickened a terrible longing for the truth. I sought trust. But what did I need their trust for? I wanted only one thing: to be left in peace. I had no idea what I should do next. All I had achieved so far was renunciation of the past. In my soul there was now a vacuum. I must have a breathing space in which to find new sense in life. I was slowly but surely coming to the decision that I must disappear, must lose my identity - until I had found a new identity.

    I had drawn a line beneath the past. But I had not thought of the future. My first attempt to make contact with the other world had compelled me to think of it. Now I tried to systematize all the possibilities open to me.

    As I was demobilized, I was freed from my oath, and by the rules of international etiquette I was free to go where I liked. I wanted to renounce my Soviet passport and become a stateless political émigré. Let me say that I would never advise any of my comrades to take such a step. If you wish to become a political émigré, you must renounce your Soviet passport, but not your country.

    That means that you renounce all legal support from a powerful state. You stand naked and disarmed in this imperfect world, which reckons only with him, who is strong, whether his strength consists in firearms, or money, or tanks. Today the Kremlin has raised the entire world against it. Concealing their distrust and fear, the people of the outside world will smile hypocritically and shake the hands of those who possess Soviet passports, but will vent their impotent feelings on you, the political émigré, because you haven’t one. That is one aspect political emigration.

    Life in a strange land is not easy. I have seen living examples In Berlin I frequently came across certain people who deserved the (utmost commiseration. They spoke Russian, but they were afraid to talk to me. Sometimes they minded my car while I was at the theater and were grateful when I gave them a packet of cigarettes. That is another aspect of political emigration.

    Until long after midnight I wandered about my room. The house was as still as the grave; Karlshorst was asleep. All around me was the infinite sea of an alien world. I felt its cold, indifferent breath. At last I lay down on my bed without undressing, thrust my pistol under the pillow, and fell asleep.

    IV

    Several more days passed. All this time I was living a double life. I spent the first part of the day in Karlshorst, handing over my work, putting my papers in order ready for the return to Moscow, receiving the congratulations and good wishes of my acquaintances. I had to give the impression that I was glad to be going home. I exchanged addresses, I promised to write from Moscow. During the second part of the day I wandered about wintry Berlin, visiting my German friends and cautiously sounding the ground. I must find out the road by which people went to the West.

    Day after day went by without result. The normal period of preparation for departure to Moscow was three days. I had already taken two weeks.

    As time passed it became increasingly difficult for me to play this double game. With every day my stay in Karlshorst grew more dangerous. I must reckon with the possibility of a showdown, and take pre-cautionary measures. Like many of the Soviet officers in Germany, I had quite a collection of trophy weapons. Now I thought of them, and took out a German automatic pistol from behind the cupboard. After loading it I hung it on the hat-rack at the door, and covered it with my greatcoat. Then I put several spare clips and a box of cartridges close at hand. This, in case there was an attempt to arrest me in my rooms. Next I loaded my large-caliber parabellum, my officer’s pistol, which I had kept from the front-line days.

    Next day I drove out of Berlin, stopped my car in a dense wood, and began to test my weapons methodically, as though engaging in firing practice. The brief bursts of the automatic shattered the frosty silence of the winter evening. The heavy bullets of the parabellum tore into the young pines. There must be no letdown! Anything you like, except being left helpless. I did not think much - I feared only one thing: a letdown.

    Each night, after my long and fruitless wanderings about Berlin, I would return home tired and depressed. I was sunk in apathy. Evidently there was nothing else for it but to go off on my own to the West, and hope to be lost in the flood of German refugees.

    I sat down at my desk. I had no desire for food or drink. But I terribly longed to have some living creature with whom I could share my thoughts. I felt utterly weary and exhausted. Suddenly I remembered that I had not cleaned my weapons after my drive to the woods. To escape from my thoughts I began to oil the pistol. That gave me some measure of relief.

    The night peered in at the window. My room was half in darkness. My only light was the desk-lamp, burning brightly beneath its shade. In the yellow light the oily pistol gleamed coldly. I stared without thinking at the lifeless metal. That gleam drew me, held my eyes.

    I tried to tear my gaze away, and looked about me. I caught sight of a dark, hunched figure standing on one corner of my desk. Just where light and darkness met a black monkey was crouching. Crouching and gazing at me.

    This large bronze statuette had been given me by one of my acquaintances. On a square pedestal of black marble were scattered rolls of parchment, books, retorts, the material symbols of human intellect. Over them crouched a repulsive black ape, squatting with an important air. It held a human skull in its hairy paws, and was staring at it with doltish curiosity. The sculptor had conveyed in bronze all the vanity of human wishes. I set the statuette on my desk, and took little notice of it as a rule.

    But now as I looked at the figure it seemed to stir. I felt mad with myself: was I beginning to suffer from hallucinations? I tried to think of other things, of the past. Once more I recalled the years of war, the Red Square, the Kremlin. Once more the intoxicated cry of inflamed emotion roared in my ears: “First of the first, among the finest of the finest.”

    “Tomorrow you will be last among the last, defeated among the defeated,” I heard a voice.

    Now I tried to think of the future. But before me opened a gray void. I saw that I had to renounce all my past life; I must lose my identity and vanish into the nothingness.

    Into the nothingness.... Perhaps there was an even simpler way of doing that. I looked at the shining barrel of my pistol, reached for it, and played automatically with the safety catch.... It was so simple....

    The emptiness of these days I was passing through pressed me down. All my life I had done my duty, even when I had doubted that it was my duty. I had regarded duty as being the result of faith in the infallibility of the fundamental principle, and had searched obstinately for that central core of rational existence. Today I was convinced that the principle was false. So what?

    Yet again my thoughts turned back to the past: I thought of the impatience with which I had looked to the end of the war, of the passion with which I had dreamed of peaceful life. And now, just when I could return to that peaceful life, just when my dreams would come true, I was throwing it all behind me and going off in the opposite direction. Why? I felt instinctively that the reason sprang out of the danger of a new war. I felt that otherwise I would have returned home despite everything and would have continued to share my joys and sorrows with my country. The possibility of a new war aroused deep and conflicting feelings in me. But where was the connection?

    There are feelings buried so deep in the heart that one cannot trust oneself to speak them out. I had the fate of Germany before my eyes. Now I felt convinced that a similar fate awaited my own country. I knew the criminals who were leading my country to perdition, and I did not wish to share in their crime. I was going out today in order to fight them tomorrow. I didn’t want to admit to these thoughts: they seemed like treachery. And yet to betray a traitor is to be faithful to the fundamental principle. To kill a killer is a praiseworthy deed.

    I lit another cigarette from the dying butt and flung myself back in my chair. I felt an unpleasant, bitter taste in the mouth. In the chilly silence the words beat through my head monotonously:

    ’It is not enough to love your country and freedom, you have to fight for them. Now you see no other possibility of fighting than to go over to the other camp and fight from there. That is your way back to your fatherland.’

    V

    On the seventeenth day I was issued my frontier pass. It was valid for three days, and before the end of the third day I must cross the Soviet frontier at Brest-Litovsk. Whatever happened, I could not remain more than another three days in Karlshorst.

    The dusk was settling in Berlin when, after another day of fruitless wandering, I decided to call on a German acquaintance, the director of a factory, which I had visited from time to time on official business. During these visits I had had many quite frank political conversations with him. That evening, too, we quickly turned to discussion of the future of Germany. I gave expression to my view that the Germans were too optimistic about it.

    “You underestimate the internal danger,” I said. “You’re blindly waiting for the end of the occupation. But even if the Soviet forces are withdrawn from Germany, there will be very little change in the situation. Before that time comes Germany will have been bound hand and foot, she will have been sold wholesale and on a long-term lease!”

    “By whom?” the director asked.

    “That’s what the Socialist Unity Party (S. E. D.) and the People’s Police are for.”

    I knew he had recently joined the S. E. D., and so my words could not be very pleasant for him to hear. He looked at me sidelong, was silent for a moment, then said slowly: “Many of the members of the S. E. D. and the People’s Police have different thoughts from what the occupation authorities would desire.”

    “So much the worse, if they think one thing and do another.”

    “At present we have no other way out. But when the decisive moment comes, believe me, the S. E. D. and the People’s Police will not do as Moscow hopes.”

    “I wish you success!” I smiled.

    After a momentary silence the director turned the conversation into another channel:

    “Well, and how are things going with you?”

    Weary and cold, I only waved my hand hopelessly and sighed:

    “I’m going back to Moscow....”

    He evidently caught the disillusionment in my tone, and stared at me in astonishment. “Aren’t you glad to be going back home? In your place I...”

    “I’m quite prepared to change places with you,” I retorted.

    He threw me another swift glance and interpreted my words to his own satisfaction. “So you like Germany more than Russia?” he asked.

    “I could do, if I were not a Soviet officer,” I replied evasively.

    “The victors are envious of the vanquished!” He shook his head thoughtfully. He rose and began to walk about the room.

    Suddenly he halted in front of me and asked:

    “Then why don’t you remain here?”

    “Where’s here?” I asked indifferently.

    “Why, go to one of the other zones!” he exclaimed. He made a vague gesture, surprised that I had not myself thought of such a simple idea.

    “But is that so simple?” I asked, pricking up my mental ears, but remaining outwardly unconcerned.

    For some time he said nothing. Then, apparently coming to a decision, he turned and said in a rather lower voice: “If you wish to remain in Germany there’s nothing simpler than to get across the green frontier.” (’Green frontier’ - a common phrase for crossing frontiers illegally. - Tr )

    I listened still more closely, and asked:

    “Maybe, but what is the American attitude to you if you do?”

    He made a contemptuous gesture. “Oh, spit on the swines! They’re no better than....” He bit his lip.

    I smiled involuntarily. I had the impression that this director, this member of the Socialist Unity Party, was prepared to go to any lengths to reduce the Soviet Army by just one fighting unit! I knew him well; I had no reason to suspect that he was acting as a provocateur. I sat silent. If he was so anxious to win me, let him talk a little more!

    “I have many acquaintances in Thuringia,” he went on. “If you like, I can give you letters of recommendation to people of trust. They’ll willingly help you to get to the other side.” "But how about documents?"

    He shrugged his shoulders: “Today every third man in Germany has false papers.”

    “Where can you get hold of them?”

    “I know a man who’ll be very glad to help you in that direction.” He smiled a little smile, and added: “And by the way, he’s an officer in the People’s Police.”

    Now I decided to show my hand. I changed my tone; my words sounded strong, almost harsh. “Herr Director, you must pardon my reserve. The question we’re discussing has been decided long since. If I hadn’t met you I’d have had no other choice but to make my own way to the West.”

    He was silent for a moment; then he said:

    “Even when I had only business relations with you I noticed that you were different from the others. They have only one word: ’Hand over! Hand over!’” (He used the Russian word: ’Davai! Davai!’)

    We got down to discussion of the details. He promised to provide me with documents in case I found it necessary to remain in Berlin and against the possibility of my being stopped on the road. After we had arranged to meet next day, I left his house and went into the street. It was still as dark and as bitterly cold as two hours before. But now I did not feel the cold; the air seemed to have a vital freshness to it.

    Next day I met him again. With true German reliability he set a German identity card on the desk in front of me. At the window a young, fair-haired German with a military carriage was standing. The director introduced us to each other. Two men in civilian dress shook each other’s hands, and clicked their heels from sheer habit. We filled in the identity card. A bitter smile crossed my face as I read my new name: my German sheepdog had had the same name. For the first time in my life I had my fingerprints taken. A German police seal was stamped over my photograph. I had a feeling that after stamping it the German looked at me with different eyes.

    The officer of the People’s Police went so far in his kindness as to say he would himself accompany me to the frontier. He had already obtained a few days’ leave, and would take the opportunity to visit relations in Thuringia.

    To provide against all contingencies I decided to take with me one of my old official authorizations for a visit to Thuringia, stating that I was traveling on a special commission for Marshal Sokolovsky. If the German police checked my papers on the road they would see Soviet documents and these had the same effect on them as a snake on a rabbit. If a Soviet patrol made a check, in the car would be a man who had lost his identity.

    We arranged that the police officer was to drive to a street just outside Karlshorst at one o’clock the next afternoon, and then would ring me up.

    As I was saying goodbye to the director, he asked me:

    “But tell me! Why, in reality, have you, a Soviet officer, decided to turn your back on the Soviet Union?”

    “On the same ground that you, a member of the S. E. D., have decided to help this Soviet officer,” I replied, warmly shaking his hand.

    VI

    Next day I sprang out of bed before daylight had fully come. I felt an unusual influx of strength and energy. Today, whatever happened, I had got to leave Karlshorst. Twenty days had passed since I had been given the fateful order. My frontier pass expired today, and before its close I must be in Brest-Litovsk. If I were found in Karlshorst, I would have great difficulty in explaining my presence. Every unnecessary minute that I remained here increased the danger.

    I had ordered a ticket and reserved a seat in the Moscow train. Be-fore I left Berlin I would call on the military commandant at the Schlesische station and register my departure. Now I must leave my apartment in a state indicating that I had gone back to Moscow. I made my final preparations. Lighting the stove, I destroyed the contents of my desk. An inexplicable feeling of freedom possessed me. Packets of documents, authorizations bearing the S. M. A. seal, flew into the stove. Photographs of myself were melted in flame: myself against the ruined Reichstag, among the marble statues of the Siegesallee, in the Tiergarten, with Marshal Zhukov and General Eisenhower on the Tempelhof airfield.

    Letters from dear and loved friends were consumed to ash. My last spiritual bonds with the past went up in smoke. I was seized with a passion for destruction. The feeling that I was cutting myself off from all my past life, together with the absolute emptiness of the future, left only one gnawing desire alive within me: to destroy everything with my own hands. It did not even occur to me that these documents and papers might be of use to me some time or other, that it might be better to put them somewhere in safe keeping. I was quite indifferent to what might happen to me in the future. Today I was a man who had lost his identity, a man without a past, without a name, without a native land.

    I sat down at my desk and wrote letters, which I intended to post in the Karlshorst post-box. In all probability I would never have another opportunity of writing to these people. Every letter consisted of only one brief sentence: ’Today I am traveling to Moscow’, together with a last greeting, and my signature. In all my personal letters my signature always clearly revealed the mood in which I had written. Today the signature was clear, firm, and sure, like a judicial sentence. It would tell the recipients everything.

    My mind went over all the possibilities of a failure in my plans, and all that must be done in each instance. I had enough weapons and cartridges. The one thing I knew for certain was that I would not be taken alive.

    I shaved and dressed with unusual care; I even scented my handkerchief. At that moment I realized why sailors have the custom of putting on their best underwear and uniform when going into battle. The long days of inner conflict, of tormenting search for a way out, the consciousness of continual danger, had left their traces. Now I felt that my nerves were strained to breaking point. I knew that sooner or later there would come a reaction, a discharge î tension. I must get to the frontier and across, and then I could lie down and close my eyes. There I would be indifferent to the entire world. One way or another, at that point I would be only a corpse, living or dead.

    I looked at the clock, and suddenly had the alarming thought; supposing my guide should change his mind, or was afraid to drive right up to the Berlin Kremlin? Then there would be nothing for it but to go out, thrust my hands in my pockets, and make my way westward with the aid of a map. But again I thought that it would all be settled today, and that comforted me.

    With my greatcoat flung round my shoulders I began to wander once more from corner to corner. The room was cold and empty. My footfalls sounded very loud on the bare floor. The clock struck twelve. Still another hour. I was emptied of all thought. I only waited for that ring.

    There was a sharp ring at the doorbell; the sound cut through the tense silence. I stood listening. For days I had not answered any telephone calls and had not opened the door to callers. The bell rang again: long, insistently. I put my right hand in my coat pocket and listened. The bell rang still more imperatively. With a deliberately unhurried step, my hand still in my pocket, I went to open it. I opened it with my left hand.

    In the gray twilight of the wintry day I saw a man in M. V. D. uniform. I stared at him with unseeing eyes, and felt my pistol barrel slowly lifting the lining of my pocket. The man stood silent and motionless. I made an effort and looked into his face. Then I realized that he was Andrei Kovtun. He did not enter as was his usual habit, but stood stock-still, as though he could not make up his mind.

    “May I come in?” he said at last.

    I did not answer. How had he known that I was still here? What had he come for? I did not want anybody to see my apartment at this moment; there was much in it that contradicted the impression of a man about to leave for Moscow. I looked at him again. All his face expressed an unusual, mute question.

    “Come in!” I said curtly. I placed myself so that he could go only to my study. He went ahead of me and tried not to look about him. His step was listless and irresolute. I glanced out at the staircase, then closed the door. My heavy pistol knocked against my thigh, so I shifted it to my tunic pocket.

    He dropped heavily into his usual chair. I had no idea what to say to him, and switched on the electric fire, simply for the sake of doing something. As I did so I glanced through the window, and noticed that his car was empty.

    “So you’re off?” he said in a peculiar tone.

    “Yes.”

    “When?”

    “Today.”

    “And so you didn’t want to say goodbye to me?”

    There was a painful silence. He did not expect any answer. He leaned his head against the back of his chair, stared up at the ceiling, then closed his eyes. He sat in his greatcoat and cap, not even drawing off his gloves. Only now did it occur to me that we hadn’t shaken hands.

    I glanced at the clock, at the telephone, then again at Andrei. I had not seen him often since our journey to Moscow. I had the impression that he was avoiding me. Now I realized how much he had changed since that time. His face was haggard, aged; the shining skin was drawn tightly across his forehead. His features were set in the expression common to people incurably ill. All his bearing expressed hopeless weariness.

    The minutes passed. He sat without stirring, his eyes closed. I stared through the window into the street, and aimlessly tapped my foot on the floor.

    “Am I in your way?” he asked quietly. For the first time I caught a tone of uncertainty, almost helplessness, in his voice. I felt a wave of pity for him. He was only the empty husk of a man. But I did not trust him; his M. V. D. uniform forbade that. I glanced out into the street again. If they were to come for me now, Andrei would get my first bullet.

    At that moment the doorbell sounded again. A short, uncertain ring. Only a stranger would ring like that. I went out and opened the door. Two small, mute figures were standing outside. I saw their white, childish faces, their hands blue with the cold. Refugee children.

    “Khlepa!” - the Russian word for bread sounded queerly distorted in the mouths of these German children. “Khlepa!” The word was quietly repeated. In their eyes was neither entreaty nor expectation, only childish helplessness. I felt a lump in my throat. These wretched figures seemed like a spectral premonition of that which awaited me.

    Without speaking I beckoned to them to enter, found my old military kitbag in the kitchen, and filled it with everything I could. They had difficulty in dragging it to the door. I saw them out.

    As I closed the door I heard a vague muttering behind me: “That wasn’t just chance.... That’s a sign....” I stared at Andrei in amazement. He drooped his head, avoiding my gaze, and whispered:

    “God sent them.”

    He dropped back into his chair. The clock said half-past twelve.

    I realized that I had not had anything to eat all the morning. I must have strength for whatever lay ahead. I cut some bread and butter, and forced myself to eat. I put a second plate in front of Andrei. As I leaned over the table I saw that his eyes were fixed on my coat. The greatcoat had swung open, and the butt of my pistol was poking out from my tunic pocket. I felt my mouth go dry.

    Before returning to the U. S. S. R. Soviet officers had to hand over all their weapons. Any attempt to smuggle a weapon across the frontier was sternly punished. A major in the State Security Service would know that best of all. I drew my greatcoat round me as casually as possible and gave him a sidelong look. There was no astonishment in his eyes; his face was quite tranquil. The hands of the clock crept nearer to the appointed hour.

    “In all probability we shall never see each other again.” Andrei broke the oppressive silence. His words were not said in a questioning tone, but rather as an answer to his own thought. “... And you didn’t want to say goodbye,” he added sorrowfully.

    I was silent; I pretended I had not heard his remark.

    “All my life I’ve never trusted you.” His words came slowly and quietly. “When I did begin to believe in you, you did not believe or trust me....”

    His words cut me to the heart, but I could not say anything in answer. I knew only one thing: in a moment the telephone would be ringing, and if anybody got in my way I would shoot.

    Again I caught myself wondering: how had he known I was still here, and that I was going today? During these latter days there had been many possibilities... Perhaps he had learnt the news in the course of his official duties? Perhaps in his pocket he had an order for my arrest? I forced that thought away from me, and got up and walked about the room.

    Andrei’s voice, the voice of a major in the State Security Service, came as an answer to my thoughts:

    “Don’t be angry at my coming here...”

    The clock ticked like falling drops of water.

    Quietly, almost inaudibly, he went on:

    “If I hadn’t come, others would have...”

    I wandered about the room, glancing from time to time at the clock.

    “Perhaps you’d like to borrow my car?” he asked.

    “No, thanks...”

    “So you’re going, and I remain.” He spoke again. “I can be of more use if I remain at my post... If you ever think of me, Grisha, then remember... I do what I can.”

    Once more the silence filled the chilly room-broken only by the clock ticking.

    “Won’t you give me something as a keepsake?” He spoke again. His voice sounded strangely unsure, almost unhappy.

    I looked round my empty room. My gaze rested on the black monkey crouching on the desk. I stared at it fixedly, as though expecting it to move.

    “Take that.” I nodded at the bronze statuette.

    “A black ape is sitting on the world,” he muttered. “And a man strives after the good, the pure... and then you see that it’s all filth...”

    The telephone bell rang out like a pistol shot. Unhurriedly I picked up the receiver. I heard the words in German:

    “The car is here.”

    “Very good!” I answered, also in German.

    “Well... now I’ve got to go.” I turned to Andrei.

    He rose heavily from his chair and went with a wooden step to the door. I followed him. With a forced movement, as though he was mortally weary, he drew his greatcoat down. The collar caught in the gold epaulette of his tunic. He stared at his shoulder, then pulled on his greatcoat so violently that the epaulette was ripped away.

    “The wings... of a slave!” the words sounded heavy and slow in the silence. They were uttered with such a depth of bitterness that involuntarily I shivered.

    “I wish you a good journey!” he said, and held out his hand. I took his hand and shook it. He stared into my eyes, tried to say some-thing, but only gave me another firm handshake and went down the stairs. I gazed after him, but he did not turn round.

    I stood listening until the sound of his car died away. Several minutes had passed. It was time I was going.

    I had already handed in the keys of my apartment, and now I had only to shut the door. For a moment I hesitated on the threshold, then slammed the door hard behind me. The lock clicked home. Now there was no way back.

    I turned and walked out of the house: to face the future.

  • Gregory Klimov. The Terror Machine. Chapter 17
    http://g-klimov.info/klimov-pp-e/ETM17.htm

    A Member of the Politburo

    Before me lies a yellowing sheet of coarse paper, which looks as though it has been torn out of one of my old school exercise books. Large writing, like a child’s, written in faint ink, which has been watered again and again.

    I have difficulty in reading the carefully formed letters written with a rusty nib: “My dear grandson... I am sitting by the light of a paraffin wick, just like it was in 1921, to write to you. The electricity is switched on for only two hours a day, and that not every day. I have pushed the table over close to the oven, where it is a little warmer. There’s a terrible draught coming from the window, though I’ve stopped up all the cracks with wool...”

    No electricity! No coal for the stove! And this two years after the victorious close of the war. And in the heart of the Donietz Basin, the richest coal field in Europe.

    Yet it is not suprising. Before the war the students at our Institute attended lectures all the winter in fur coats and fur caps. Our fingers froze, but we couldn’t put our hands in our pockets because we had to take notes. The boiler for the central heating of the Novocherkassk Industrial Institute was intended to burn Donietz anthracite, but now it was fueled with useless shale. We were amazed when we saw that the German periodical, Der Bergbau, which was in the Institute library, contained advertisements offering Donietz anthracite for export at cheap rates.

    A friend of mine, Vassily Shulgin, once achieved a temporary fame in the Faculty for Energetics. Somehow or other he got hold of an electrically heated airman’s suit, such as is used by arctic flyers. From the laboratory for electro-technics he obtained a transformer, which he placed under his desk, and it was easy enough to get hold of a long piece of cable. At one touch of a switch he became a celebrity. The first day he tried it out we were more interested in seeing whether he would go up in smoke and flames than in listening to our professor. To be on the safe side, one of his close friends brought in a fire extinguisher from the corridor and put it close to hand.

    Vassily’s triumph was a nine-days’ wonder. Sometimes he proudly switched off the heat, and then the freezing students realized that he was too hot. We were all as proud of that baggy figure on the backbench as if we had shared in his ingenuity.

    To the general consternation, one frosty morning in January he turned up in his old overcoat. When we insisted on knowing the reason why he curtly replied that the works had gone wrong. He confided the bitter truth to only a few intimate friends. He had been summoned to the Special Department, the N. K. V. D. representative in the Institute, where he was ordered to stop his ’anti-Soviet demonstration’; otherwise his case would be passed to the ’requisite organs’. To tell the truth, the Special Department showed him a great favor in this instance. Here were all the students freezing and suffering in silence, and one of them tried to get warm: counter-revolutionary agitation and undermining socialist economy!

    That sort of thing continued all through the years before the war. That was the system. The people simply got used to it and didn’t even notice it.

    Now, after the war, the Germans were freezing in their unheated homes. Naturally they cursed the Soviet officers, who had no need to count every briquette. But it did not occur to them that in Russia these same officers’ families were freezing even more than the Germans.

    "... But I keep going. I’m on my feet all day; I manage all the housework. It’s a pity I haven’t got much strength, and my old bones ache. I can have only sweet tea, with a biscuit sometimes dipped in it. I only have two teeth left and I can’t chew anything.

    “Your mother goes off to work every morning at seven. In the evening she can hardly crawl home with the aid of a stick; she helps herself along by the fences. It isn’t so much that she’s tired with work as her nerves. Everybody’s so irritable, they swear at the least thing and won’t listen to you. She’s afraid to go to the post now to get your parcels. Robbers are on the lookout for people receiving parcels from Germany, and they break into their homes at night and kill the people. And in the daytime young boys - ’craftsmen’ - hang around the post office and snatch the parcels in broad daylight.”

    Mention of the ’craftsmen’ recalled to my mind the Molotov automobile works in the town of Gorky. I worked there at the beginning of the war, and I saw these so-called ’craftsmen’, the young recruits to the Soviet proletariat. Soviet industry began to experience difficulty in getting new hands, because the Soviet youth were not prepared to become ordinary workers, so the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet issued a decree: ’On the mobilization for factory-works and crafts schools’. In these schools millions of adolescents between the ages of fourteen and seventeen were enrolled.

    At Gorky these ’craftsmen’ attending the trade school attached to the works ate in the canteen. Their food was poor enough, but it was better than that issued to the older workers; after all, adolescents are not so class-conscious as adults and you can’t feed them only on slogans. In addition, many of the ’craftsmen’ were sent food from the villages where most of them had been recruited. So some-times they left their rations, and even, boy-like, littered the inedible food about the tables.

    As soon as the ’craftsmen’ had left the dining hall the workmen rushed in for their meal. Some of them hurried to the queue for food; others sat down at the table, for otherwise they would not have got a place until the more energetic proletarians had eaten; others went to the tables and surreptitiously ate the remains which the youngsters had left.

    On one side of the hall was a small room from which came the smell of eggs and bacon. That room was the canteen for the factory management: the director, the Party organizer, and other leaders. The workers were not particularly envious of the leaders; the bosses changed so often that the workers hardly had time to remember their names. And they were just as little interested in their further activities after they had gone. The workers knew that the stork brought them and the crow, the black N. K. V. D. prison van, took them away.

    During those war years a group of British sergeants and technicians worked at the Gorky Automobile Works, supervising the assembly of tanks sent to the U. S. S. R. under lend-lease. Of course they got a very favorable impression of the works.

    “... Yesterday your mother bought two glasses of Indian corn in the market. I crushed them in a mortar and we’ve been having maize porridge. It would have been very tasty if we could have got some butter to go with it. But it is cold now and the peasants aren’t bringing much to market. Potatoes, peas and milk are dear, and we mustn’t even think of meat or butter.” Here followed several lines blacked out by the censor.

    Two glasses of maize....

    In the early spring of 1945 I graduated from the Military College, and as I had exemption in certain subjects, I got through my state examination quickly and managed to obtain a week’s leave. I spent this at home, on the pretext that I was carrying out official duties in my home district. I went to the Kazan railway station in Moscow and, with a rucksack on my back, wandered about trying to find a way of getting a seat in a train. That was pretty hopeless, for some-times people tried for weeks, and even then had to give it up. I began to study the layout of the station, to see whether I could get a seat by a trick. My only advantages were that I had no heavy luggage, but plenty of youthful energy and all a Soviet citizen’s experience in such matters.

    “Brother, if I’m not mistaken you’ve got a T-T.” I heard a hoarse deep voice behind me, and a powerful hand clapped me on the shoulder. I looked round and saw a brawny sailor in the usual black blouse, his cap thrust to the back of his head. Despite the cold, his shirt was wide open at the chest, and his breast was gay with all the decorations of a sailor’s life; he was tattooed right up to his chin. One of those who ’don’t care a damn for anybody’ and always fall on their feet. He smiled at me as if we were old acquaintances and pointed to my pistol holster.

    “Yes, it’s a T-T. What about it?” I asked.

    “What train are you going by? The 11: 20?” he inquired. When I said yes, he gave me an even broader grin. “Well, then, everything’s okay! Let’s go!”

    “Go where?”

    “When I say ’let’s go’, we go! You keep in my wake. Have you just dropped out of the moon, brother?” my new relation demanded. To sailors all men are brothers.

    We went out of the station, crawled in the darkness over a roof or two, and through some fences. At last we reached the farther side of the station and the tracks. Guards were patrolling the platforms. Like diversionists we stole up to a train standing on the lines. All the carriages were locked.

    “Now let me have your T-T, brother,” the sailor ordered.

    “You’re not going to shoot?”

    “Of course not! You hold the magazine. And now look: here’s your railway ticket to the entire world.”

    He drew back the pistol hammer, and fixed it by the safety catch. Then he thrust the barrel into the carriage door lock. One turn and we were inside.

    “I’ve used this ticket more than any other,” my ’brother’ proudly explained, as he handed the pistol back to me. After that I, too, had more than one occasion to exploit this unusual means of unlocking carriage doors.

    On the threshold of my home I halted and looked about me. All the walls were sinking and slanting; the fences had gone; they had all been used for fuel. One could walk right through the town from house-yard to house-yard unhindered. As I opened the rickety door, with its rusty hinges and ingenious latch, I had very mixed feelings. In my heavy boots I stepped prudently over the creaking floorboards in the kitchen. Everything was rickety, neglected, rotting, like the old cottage in the fairy-story. I had to stoop to avoid knocking my head against the lintel as I passed into the next room.

    In one corner of the room, a little, hunched old woman in an apron was sitting by the stove. At one time she had carried me in her arms; now I could have picked her up with ease. Her gray hair was neatly arranged under her white kerchief, she had the same old shawl round her shoulders. At the sound of the door being opened she turned.

    “Grisha!” That one brief word conveyed all the experiences of the long war years: her hopes, her fears, her expectations and joys.

    “Granny!”

    I put my arms round her shoulders; I was afraid she would fall. We remained standing a long time, with her head pressed against my chest; she wept like a little child, but they were tears of joy. I gently stroked her back under her old flannel blouse. I felt her fragile bones, and was afraid my rough hands would hurt her.

    “Where’s mother?” I asked.

    “She’s at work. She gets home at six.”

    “I’ll send a boy to tell her I’m home,” I suggested as I took off my greatcoat.

    “No, don’t, Grisha! For God’s sake!” my old grandmother murmured fearfully. “She’ll be so glad she’ll leave her work and come home, and then they may take her to court.”

    I felt my collar suddenly grow tight as the blood rushed to my head and roared in my ears. So that was how a Soviet mother was allowed to welcome her soldier son after four years of separation!

    My mother came home from work late in the evening. Granny had prepared a festive table in honor of my homecoming. She proudly brought out a tiny tin of honey and set it on the table, then a tiny medicine bottle of homemade cherry wine. When I went to my rucksack and began to hand out all kinds of cans of American preserves my mother’s eyes lit up with joy and relief. They were both hungry, but that was not so bad as the realization that they had nothing to make a feast for their son who had come safely home after a long absence. Now they had American cans of conserves on the table!

    Whenever Russian people hear mention of the words ’lend-lease’ they think of cans piled up like mountains. Those cans were to be found in the wildest and loneliest parts of the famous Bryansk forests, in the marshes of Leningrad, wherever the Soviet army passed.

    Russia is undoubtedly a very rich agricultural country, with inexhaustible natural resources. Yet from 1942 to 1945 that country lived and fought exclusively on American products. We officers were all profoundly convinced that we could have held out without American tanks and planes, but we would have died of starvation without the American food. Ninety percent of the meat, fats, and sugar consumed in the Soviet army was of American origin, and almost the same can be said of life in the rear. Even the beans and the white flour were American. The one article of Soviet origin was the black bread - apart, of course, from water.

    A word or two on water. People in Moscow seriously believed that the American embassy received even water in cans from America. Probably this was due to the amount of grapefruit and other fruit juices the Americans drank from cans. After the war it was said that the Kremlin had provided itself with American foodstuffs for many five-year plans ahead.

    There was one time at the beginning of 1948 when all the shops in all the large Soviet cities were stocked to the ceiling with sacks of coffee beans. Before the war coffee in the bean had been a luxury article in the Soviet Union. But now all the empty shelves of the shops were stocked with sacks bearing foreign inscriptions in red paint. Coffee to be bought off the ration, at 500 rubles a kilo! At that time bread cost 150 rubles a kilo on the free market.

    The people began to buy the coffee by the sack. It wasn’t that the Russians had acquired a foreign taste. Not at all! They cooked the beans, threw the fragrant liquor away, then dried the beans, pounded them in a mortar or a coffee-grinder, and made bread of the flour. Bread from coffee! Previously they had played the same sort of trick with mustard powder! Bread from mustard!

    During the war all the metal utensils in the U. S. S. R. were made from American cans. It will be many years before the Russians forget those cans with their labels: ’pork meat’.

    In an endeavor to diminish the effect of this propaganda by food conserves, the rumormongers of the N. K. V. D. spread stories that the Americans were canning the flesh of South American monkeys to send to the Soviet Union.

    "... Dear Grisha, perhaps you have a cup or something of the sort where you are. I broke mine recently and haven’t any thing to drink my tea out of. If you can send me one I shall be very glad and will always think of you when I drink my tea, my dear boy.

    "You always sew up your parcels in very good canvas, and we don’t throw it away, we make towels from it. Don’t be annoyed with us if we ask you for anything, you’re all we have in the world. I live only for your letters. And I haven’t much longer to live.

    “Keep well, my dear boy. Look after yourself. Granny.”

    I got hold of a sack in which to pack a parcel. I stuffed it full with ladies’ lace underwear, silk stockings, lengths of material, until it weighed the permitted 10 kilograms. In the very center I packed several china cups. And what else could I put in? They needed absolutely everything. They would sell what I sent and buy meat, and would go on wearing rags. You can’t fill a bottomless barrel.

    That evening I had planned to go out, but granny’s letter robbed me of all inclination. I sat at my desk, and scenes from my past life arose before my eyes.

    II

    1921. At that time I was quite an infant. Perhaps the only memory I have is of the jackdaws. Daws hopping about the floor, in the light of the paraffin lamp. One of them was dragging its wing awkwardly, leaving a trail of blood. The lamp flickered, the dark corners were very mysterious, and wretched daws hopped about the floor.

    In the winter they flew about in great black flocks. When they flew over the roofs in the evening dusk, the people said as they heard them call: “That’s a sign of frost. It’ll be still colder tomorrow.” Raspberry streaks left by the sunset on the horizon, the lilac, frosty mist, and the calling daws. They settled like bunches of black berries on the bare poplars in the orchards, and chattered away before retiring to rest.

    My uncle thought of very ingenious ways of getting close to the daws with his gun. Normally they won’t let you come anywhere near. But he went hunting them to shoot them for a ragout. I’ve forgotten what it tasted like. Older people say it doesn’t taste any worse than ragout made from other wild birds. Every wildfowl has its own specific flavor.

    In those days children wrapped in rags sat in the snow in the street and silently held out their hands. They no longer had the strength to ask for ’bread’. If you returned that way a few hours later you found they were no longer holding out their hands: they were frozen corpses.

    People don’t remember 1921 to any extent nowadays. It was followed by many other years, which have been fixed more definitely in the mind. 1921 was something quite elemental, the result of war and the post-war ruin. So it did not seem so terrible.

    1926. The later years of the New Economic Policy. “The period of temporary retreat in order to organize a decisive advance along the entire front,” as we can read in the History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

    In those days, when my father gave me ten kopecks I was a rich man and could satisfy all my childish desires. The years 1925 and 1926 were the only time in all the existence of the Soviet regime when the people did not think of bread.

    I don’t remember tsarist Russia. People of my generation regard the NEP period (New Economic Policy - involved a partial return to free market exchange of commodities. - Tr.) as the equivalent of a normal and affluent life. I heard various stories told by older people, but at this time I was a Young Pioneer and was more interested in playing a drum. Some museum-piece of an old man would throw his arms wide and say rapturously and regretfully: “Under Nicholas a dried fish that size cost three kopecks; and now....” He swallowed back his spittle and waved his hand resignedly.

    1930. 1 was attending school. The name of the school was changed every three months; the curriculum changed accordingly. I was not greatly interested-1 hadn’t time to be, for I spent most of the day queuing for bread. Queues stood outside the bakers’ shops day and night. Six hundred, seven hundred... Often the number written in indelible ink on my hand was over the 1, 000.

    We boys regarded it all as a kind of game. When the cart drove up to the shop and the loaves were unloaded there was a bit of a riot. Women screamed as they were half crushed to death, one heard curses, groans, and tears. Meanwhile we boys tried to find a way into the shops through a window or some other opening. In other countries the children played ’Red Indians’, but we fought for our lives to get bread. That was how the youthful builders of socialism were reared, that was how the steel was tempered.

    We went to school in two shifts; it was as cold inside the building as outside. It was much more pleasant in the street, where you could run and keep yourself warm. What point was there in our teacher telling us stories of the Paris Commune? We stormed not the Bastille but the bakers’ shops.

    1932. General collectivization. People starved to death, their bodies lay about the streets. The living had difficulty in dragging themselves about, for their legs were swollen with famine dropsy.

    My elder brother, who was in the Young Communists, was called up to perform special duties. He and his comrades were given weapons, and they mounted guard all night over the church, which was being used as a transit camp for prisoners. There were not enough prisons; there were not enough guards. Of an evening, hundreds of ragged men and women peasants, arrested as kulaks, were driven into the church. Mothers carried babes in arms. Many of the prisoners could hardly shift their feet. The youngsters who had been issued arms went hungry to the church to guard hungry people.

    Each morning the ragged class enemies were driven on northward. Many dead bodies were left lying on the stone flags inside the church. So far as they were concerned, the problem of liquidating the kulaks as a class was already solved.

    Winter passed, spring arrived. The campaign for collecting the State grain fund began. The peasants were baking bread made from tree bark, but men armed with pistols demanded that they should hand over corn for the spring sowing. During the winter the peasants had eaten tree bark, cats, dogs, even horse dung. Cases of cannibalism were not unknown. Nobody can say how many millions of people died of hunger in 1933: possibly one-third or one-fourth of the agricultural population of southern Russia.

    During the summer the few half-savage dogs still left alive wandered through the deserted villages, devouring human flesh. First man ate dog, and then dog ate man. Many fields were left uncultivated; there was nobody to harvest those that were sown.

    Day after day we scholars of the higher classes were driven out to harvest these fields. The road ran past the town cemetery. Each morning as we went to work we saw dozens of deep, freshly dug pits. When we returned in the evening they had been filled and leveled with the ground. Some of the more inquisitive scholars tried digging up the loose soil with their boots.

    They lost their curiosity when they came upon human hands or feet beneath the shallow layer of earth. Sometimes as we went past the cemetery we saw swollen corpses being thrown from carts into the pits; they had been brought from prisons and hospitals. The wild steppe grass rapidly covered these graves, and nobody will ever know the exact cost of that resounding word ’collectivization’.

    The artificial famine of 1932 - 1933 was a political measure taken by the Politburo; it was not an elemental disaster. The people had to be shown who was the master. The decision was taken in the Kremlin; the result was the loss of millions of human lives. From that time hunger became a new, full member of the Politburo.

    Yet at that same period the Soviet government was dumping! They offered wheat at very cheap prices, much cheaper than the world market price. The principle was simple: grain taken from the collectivized Soviet peasant at 6 kopecks a kilo was sold to the Russian workers at 90 kopecks a kilo. In such circumstances it was easy enough to indulge in dumping.

    The Soviet Union offered its grain at knockdown prices on the world market. The greedy capitalists rushed to buy it. But the Canadian and Australian farmers started to burn their grain, while the Moscow radio howled in delight: “Look what is happening in the unplanned capitalist world.” But after burning their grain the Australians and Canadians had no money to buy the British industrial goods, consequently British factories began to close down and unemployment increased. The British workers had no money to buy the cheap Russian grain.

    But over the sea, in the marvelous land where communism was being built, there was no unemployment, and bread was so cheap that it was being sold abroad for next to nothing. And so there was a wave of strikes and revolutionary movements in the West. “The revolution is continuing. Comrades,” they said in the Kremlin, rubbing their hands.

    In Denmark the pigs were fed on cheap Russian sugar. In the U. S. S. R., people drank their tea with the sugar on the table to look at, or on Sundays and holidays they nibbled a knob as they sipped their tea. The Soviet workers and peasants went hungry, but there was money enough for financing capital construction, while machine tools and machinery were imported. Heavy industry increased proportionately to the rest of the country’s economy. The workers and peasants were told that heavy industry would make the machinery for light industry, and this in turn would make cloth and boots. But meanwhile tanks and aeroplanes were the chief production. There was nothing to be done about it: it was all due to the capitalist encirclement.

    Now there was no room for bourgeois sentimentality. Statistics show that fertility and population increase are in inverse proportion to the living conditions. The worse people live, the swifter they multiply. On the one hand there are India and China, where thousands die of hunger every year, but where millions are born in their place. On the other, the well-fed, enervated countries in the decline of civilization, such as France and Britain, with their falling fertility curve, and where the age-groups past the prime of life play a predominant part. Given these circumstances, Stalin had no need to fear the consequences of the famine policy; whatever happened, he was assured of soldiers and labor. In every respect the State would show an active balance.

    September 1939. Signature of the Hitler-Stalin Pact of Friend-ship. Trainload after trainload of Soviet grain, Soviet butter, Soviet sugar steamed off to Germany. Simultaneously all these articles disappeared from the Soviet shops, which in any case had never had any remarkable stock of them.

    To explain the change of political course the N. K. V. D. rumormongers spread the story that Ribbentrop had brought to Moscow the photocopy of a document, which had been signed by fourteen foreign powers. These powers had offered Hitler aid if he attacked the U. S. S. R. Hitler preferred our friendship: we desire peace. But for that we have got to pay!

    1941. War. Hunger passed into its final, perfected form. The ration-card system. No longer under-nourishment, but out-and-out starvation. In the winter of 1941-2 a kilo of potatoes cost 60 rubles on the free market: the equivalent of a week’s wage. A kilo of butter cost 700 to 800 rubles: three months’ wages. The worker received sufficient on the ration card to keep him on his feet and capable of working. In practice the main, indeed the only food issued was bread - 600 grams daily-the same bread that caused the German prisoners of war to suffer from gastric ulcers and to die off like flies.

    One day I had called on the director of the Lenin radio factory, to discuss some business. A knock at the door interrupted our conversation. His secretary put in her head and reported: “Serdiukova is here; is she to come in or wait?”

    Serdiukova came nervously into the room. Her face was dirty, and it was difficult to tell her age. She was wearing a black, greasy jacket, and her stockings were of sailcloth; she had men’s boots on her feet. She stood at the door, silently waiting. Her expression seemed despondent, yet indifferent, stamped with the apathy of infinite weariness.

    “Why didn’t you come to work yesterday, Serdiukova?” the director asked. “To stay away’s a serious crime, punishable under war legislation. You know what the punishment is for it.”

    “I was ill, Comrade Director. I couldn’t get out of bed,” she answered in a hoarse voice. She shifted from foot to foot. A pool of water formed on the parquet; it was dripping off her boots.

    Absence from work without good reason involved the punishment of forced labor even in peacetime. In wartime it might bring ten years’ imprisonment, on a charge of sabotaging war industry.

    “Have you got a doctor’s certificate?” the director asked.

    “No. I hadn’t anyone to send for the doctor. As soon as I could get up I came to work.”

    Serdiukova was one of those typical Russian women who uncomplainingly endure all the difficulties of life, who accept every-thing as inevitable, as sent from above. In this silent humility there is a kind of religious quality. It is not weakness; it is a source of the Russian’s enormous spiritual strength.

    As I looked at her I recalled an old soldier who was returning from hospital to the front after the latest of his many wounds. As he carried a machine-gun tripod on his back he quite calmly gave expression to his secret desire: “Ah, if only I had lost an arm or a leg! Then I’d be going back to my village.” I was shocked not so much by his words as by the composure with which he said them, his genuine readiness to lose an arm or a leg in exchange for return home. Yet he was an exemplary soldier.

    “You must know the law,” the director went on. “Absent without good reason. I’ll have to send your case to court.”

    She began to mutter in a broken voice: “But, Comrade Director! ... Day after day, fourteen hours at the bench... I haven’t the strength... I’m sick...”

    “I can’t help it. It’s the law. We’re all sick like that.” Her face twisted with anger. “You’re all sick like that?” she shouted, stepping closer to his desk. “But have you ever seen this?” Tears streamed down her face as, in an uncontrollable impulse of fury, she snatched up the edge of her skirt. She was no longer a human being, no longer a woman, but a creature mastered by the courage of despair. “All of you? All as sick as this?”

    I saw her white body, all the whiter against the gray background of the office wall. She did not have a woman’s shapely legs, but two deformed pillars with no curve to the calves, with the knees touching. Two garters of red automobile inner tubing cut deeply into the swollen mass of her bluish flesh.

    “Have you ever seen that. Comrade Director? Have you got legs like this?” she screamed, beside herself with indignation and shame. “For five months I’ve not had a period. I’ve dropped unconscious at the bench again and again....”

    “Is there really nothing to be done?” I asked him when she had gone.

    “What can I do?” he answered, and stared hopelessly at the papers on his desk. “Half the women are like that. Pills are of no use in such cases.”

    “I don’t mean that. I mean referring it to the court. Can’t you overlook it?”

    “Concealment of absenteeism is punished as heavily as absenteeism itself. If I overlook this case the N. K. V. D. will put us both inside. You can’t hide anything from Luzgin,” he answered.

    I had not made Luzgin’s acquaintance, but I had heard a great deal about him. He was the head of the works Special Department: the eyes and ears of the Party.

    While working in the town of Gorky I was crossing Sverdlov Square one day in March. There were puddles of snow and mud lying in the roadways. Just in front of me two young girls, probably students, with document-cases under their arms, were trudging through the water. Suddenly one of them dropped her case; it fell into the muck of the sidewalk and flew open.

    Books and exercise books were scattered in the mud. The girl took a few staggering steps towards the wall of the nearest house, but then her legs gave way under her, and she slowly sank to the ground. Her blue kerchief slipped off, the strands of her chestnut hair were mingled with the melting snow and mud. She had a deathly white face, with blue under the eyes. She had fainted.

    Her friend hurried to her aid. One or two passers-by helped to pick her up and carry her to the gateway of the nearest house. The crowd excitedly asked her friend what had happened, but she answered in some embarrassment: “It’s nothing, only a faint.” An elderly woman in huge boots asked her: “Where’ve you come from? From the center?” Without waiting for the answer she began to lament with all the commiseration of a simple woman: “Poor kids! You’re hungry, hardly able to stand on your feet, yet you’re giving your last drop of blood. You can’t go on like this. You’ll be in your grave before long.”

    A large proportion of the donors attending the blood-transfusion centers consisted of girl students and mothers with little children. In exchange for 450 cubic centimeters of blood they received 125 rubles, which would buy not quite a kilo of black bread. After each transfusion they received an extra ration card entitling them to 200 additional grams of bread each day for a month. They also received one supplementary ration consisting of 250 grams of fat, 500 grams of meat and 500 grams of sugar. These mothers and girls knew their patriotic duty well enough, they knew the blood was for their husbands and brothers at the front. But it was chiefly hunger that drove them to the centers. The mothers tried to feed their hungry children at the price of their own blood; the students preferred to sacrifice their blood rather than their bodies.

    Special letter blanks were obtainable at the blood transfusion centers, and many of the girl donors used these to send letters to the front, to the soldiers for whom they were donating their blood. Frequently these letters marked the beginning of a correspondence and friendship. After the war there were quite a number of cases of the writers meeting and marrying: a marriage sealed in blood.

    In the center of the town of Gorky there is a square: ’The Square of the Victims of 1905.’ One side of the square is bounded by the walls of an old prison, in which the heroes of Gorky’s novel The Mother were imprisoned. On the opposite side is the Municipal Opera and Ballet Theater.

    One evening I stood with a group of comrades in the foyer during an interval. Dancing was going on in the hall, to the music of an orchestra. A slim, good-looking girl dancing with an officer attracted my notice. Her slender form was clothed in a gray dress of matt silk; her hair was arranged in a simple yet original style. Her toilet and all her bearing indicated her good taste, and a sense of her own value.

    “Who is that girl?” I asked a comrade who was well acquainted with life in the town.

    “A student, she’s in the last year of the medical faculty,” he answered curtly.

    “An interesting girl,” I said.

    “I’d advise you not to go running after her.”

    “Why, what’s wrong?”

    “I just advise you not to, that’s all!” He would not say more.

    His words aroused my curiosity, and I asked another acquaintance the same question.

    “The girl in gray?” he said, taking a glance at her. “If you’re interested in knowing her for a night, it’s very simple: one can of conserves or a loaf of bread.”

    I stared at him incredulously. I was fond of student life, and still thought of myself as belonging to it. His words seemed like a personal insult. In pre-war days the students had been the morally cleanest and most spiritual group in society. Could one year of war have brought about such a change?

    “Don’t talk bosh!” I retorted.

    “It’s not bosh, it’s the mournful truth. She lives in a hostel, in one room with five other friends. They have two or three visitors every night. Chiefly officers. Who has anything to spare these days, apart from officers?”

    Before the war there was practically no prostitution in the Soviet Union. The average Soviet man’s budget did not include this item of expenditure. There was only prostitution for political purposes,

    under N. K. V. D. protection, in the neighborhood of the Intourist hotels and restaurants and wherever foreigners congregated. And some commerce in human bodies went on, to a small extent, among the higher circles of the new ruling class, who had the means to buy such articles.

    But now, during the war, hunger was driving women on to the street. Not for silk stockings, Parisian perfumes, or luxury articles. Only for bread or a can of preserves. And worst of all, the first victims were the students, who would form the future Soviet intellectual and professional classes. They paid a high price for their higher education.

    Two old men, Nikanor and Peter, were employed in the constructional department of Factory No. 645. They had both been pensioned off long before, but hunger had driven them back to work, for they found it impossible to live on their pensions. At one time Nikanor had been a well-known engineer aircraft constructor.

    Before the First World War he had worked at the Bleriot works in France, where he had helped to build the first aeroplanes in the world. He had known all the fathers of Russian aviation personally: Zhukovsky, Sikorsky, and Piontkovsky. Under the Soviet regime he had worked hard in the field of aviation and was proud of his many letters of congratulation and praise, his awards, and newspaper cuttings in which his name was mentioned. Now he was only a helpless ruin of a man. He had been taken back into the works mainly out of pity, for he was really too old to work.

    From early morning Nikanor and Peter would sit at a table in a. quiet corner and barricade themselves off with a drawing board, while they talked about all the various kinds of food they had had in their long lifetime. Every day they told each other of some new dish, which they had recalled, out of the mist of the years. Thus they sat, hour after hour, day after day, capping each other’s stories, and Sometimes even quarreling over the method of preparing some sauce or the details of a recipe for mushrooms: The other members of their department thought them a little funny in the head.

    One day I happened to overhear Nikanor complaining to Peter: “This is the third day I’ve gone without porridge. We’ve eaten all the mallows in our street, and I shan’t find any more anywhere else. Porridge made from mallows is very tasty, I assure you, Peter. Just like sucking pig with chestnut stuffing. Now I shall have to look up the books again; they say there are other edible roots to be found.”

    Two hours before the midday break Nikanor took a pocket watch on a heavy silver chain, two more tributes to past services, out of his waistcoat pocket and laid them on the desk before him. Every few minutes he looked expectantly at the slowly moving hands. Fifteen minutes before the break he began to rummage through his drawers in search of his spoon and fork. Then he made sure his goloshes were firmly over his boots. All this was in preparation for the start, for at the age of seventy he was not very fit for the coming race. At last he even obtained permission from the factory management to go to dinner five minutes before time.

    After all these preparations he trotted across the yard to the dining hall, with one hand holding his pince-nez on his nose. There he would have his dinner: a first course of boiled green tomatoes, and a second course of water-gruel made from oatmeal, and without seasoning - a serving only sufficient for a cat. He scraped his aluminum plate thoroughly, licked his spoon carefully, then back to work - and after work the search for edible roots.

    1944. The Soviet army struck like a battering ram at the most important sectors of the German front. Soviet territory was almost completely freed of German troops. The tank wedges thrust towards the frontiers of the Reich. The soldiers in the reserve regiments waited impatiently to be sent to the front - not out of patriotism, but simply because of hunger. In the reserve regiments the rations were so low that many of the men went rummaging in the dustbins in search of cabbage leaves or a frozen potato.

    “The way to the soldiers’ hearts lies through their stomachs,” Napoleon said. Stalin modernized the remark to meet his own needs. In the Soviet army there were twelve ration standards: front ration No. 1, front ration No. 2; immediate rear ration No. 1, immediate rear ration No. 2; and so on, down to the twelfth, called the sanatorium ration. Only the first and last of all these ration scales could be regarded as normal; the others simply connoted various stages of hunger.

    The difficulties of wartime! Again and again I have tried to find this justification for all the misery that was to be seen at every step. I was a Soviet officer; I should know what I sent men into battle for. In those days I often asked myself what would happen after we had driven the last German off our soil. Everything as before? I had no wish to recall the ’heroic workdays of socialist construction’. In Soviet Union hunger has been elevated into a system. It has become a means of influencing the masses; it is a full member of the Politburo, a true and faithful ally of Stalin.

    Leningrad. It is a proud name. I was there shortly after the city was freed from the blockade. Nobody knows the exact total of victims from hunger during the siege. As the Germans advanced, all the inhabitants of the surrounding countryside flocked into the city, swelling its population to almost eight millions. At least three million died of hunger.

    One day I and another officer were walking along the shore of a lake just outside Leningrad. Right beside the water was a small cemetery; young grass was growing among the neglected graves. A block of red granite attracted my attention. ’Flight-Lieutenant... died the death of a hero in the battle for the city of Lenin.’ I read the inscription carved in the stone.

    “Lucky blighter!” said my companion, who had taken part in the defense of the city from the very beginning. “Those who have survived the blockade are only husks of men today.”

    “I’m a passive murderer,” another inhabitant of the city once told me. “I saw a man lying in the snow in the street; he had fallen and was too weak to get up. He asked me to help him; otherwise he’d freeze to death. But I couldn’t, I’d only have fallen myself and been unable to get up again. I’d only have frozen at his side. I staggered on, leaving him to freeze in the snow.”

    I would give every citizen of Leningrad the highest decoration possible. Since the days of Troy, history knows no similar case of mass civic heroism. Was it all a strategic necessity, or simply a question in which Stalin’s prestige was involved?

    ’When one man dies, it is a tragedy; when millions die, it’s only statistics.’ Especially when the death of millions is contemplated from behind the Kremlin walls.

    Shortly before the end of the war I traveled back to Moscow from Leningrad by train. At every station, every wayside halt, crowds of ragged women were standing with children in their arms. The infants’ faces were translucent, bluish white, their eyes were glittering with hunger, and their faces were aged, joyless, and serious. Other children stretched out their thin hands and asked for ’Bread, bread!’

    The soldiers undid their rucksacks and silently handed their rations of hard tack or bread through the windows. Each of them was oppressed by thoughts of his own wife and children. They gained a momentary feeling of relief as they handed out their food, but they were left with a nagging sense of shame and bitterness. Can you feed a whole starving land with bits of bread?

    As the German prisoners return home from Russia they will doubtless tell of the desperately low food rations in the Soviet prisoner of war camps. And as they see it they will be justified. By European standards the prisoner of war conditions were murderous, the soggy black bread was simply poison to a European digestive system.

    I myself have been in camps for German prisoners of war and have seen the conditions. But I can only ask: did the German prisoners notice that the Russian people on the farther side of the barbed wire were fed on even lower standards? Did any of them think that these so-called ’Russian’ conditions were the result of the Soviet system and that in due course they will flourish in Eastern Germany?

    Moscow. The last days of the war. A lively trade was going on in the city markets. Pale, exhausted women huddling in corners, a few knobs of sugar or one or two herrings in their extended hands. They were selling their meager ration in order to get milk or bread for their children. Bread, bread! In all eyes was the same mute cry.

    The article that sold best - was the Russian homegrown tobacco called ’mahorka’ - 15 rubles a glass. The markets swarmed with war-wounded, without legs, without arms, in front-line greatcoats and tunics, with red wound stripes on their chests. The militiamen turned a blind eye to these violators of the Soviet trade monopoly.

    If any of them did try to take away one of the war-wounded, the air rang with indignant shouts: “What did he fight for?” "What did he shed his blood for?" His comrades came hurrying up, waving crutches and sticks.

    Berlin capitulated. A few days later all Germany unconditionally surrendered. People thought that things would be easier literally the very next day. That was the hope of people who had nothing but their hopes.

    Now the first post-war year had passed, the second was drawing to its close, and we members of the Soviet occupation forces in Germany were reading our letters from home. As we read they acted on us like poison. Our bitterness was intensified by all that we saw around us.

    One day Andrei Kovtun and I were discussing the situation in Germany. Little by little the conversation turned to comparisons between ’here’ and ’there’.

    “The Berlin Underground is really rotten,” Andrei said. “When I compare it with the Moscow Underground I feel really good. These days I often catch myself looking for things in Germany that tell in our favor. It’s difficult to get used to the idea that all our lives we’ve been chasing after shadows.”

    “Yes,” I commented; “here people live in the present, whereas we have lived all our lives in the future. Or rather, for the future. I quite understand how you feel. It’s a violation of the inward harmony, as the psychiatrist would say. The only remedy is to recover faith in the future.”

    “Look, Gregory!” Andrei replied. “We’ve got splendid aeroplanes and tanks, a powerful heavy industry. Let’s leave out of account the price we’ve paid for all these things, let’s forget all the blood, the sweat, and the hunger. You’d think that now the time’s come to exploit all these achievements for our own benefit. After all, we haven’t seen anything of life yet. It’s always been nothing but aims and ideals for us: socialism, communism.

    But when shall we really start living? D’you remember what Professor Alexandrov said at the Higher Party School of the Party Central Committee? ’If the proletariat of other countries cannot achieve their own emancipation, we shall stretch out our hands to help them.’ We know what that ’helping hand’ means. What if all the promises of wartime are only unsecured bills of exchange? I didn’t know what fear was during the war, but I do now. Yes, I’m afraid all right now.”

    He was expressing the same thoughts and fears that possess the majority of the young Soviet intellectuals and professional people. We are proud of our country’s achievements, we are proud of our victory. We do not regret all the difficulties and deprivations we have experienced, the price we paid for the victory and for our country’s glory. But we who were living in the West were beginning to feel keenly that all the things which Soviet propaganda claims as the exclusive achievement of the Soviet regime are colossal lies. We used to have our doubts, but now the doubts have been transformed into certainties, and we cannot fight them.

    We have come to the realization that we haven’t started to live yet, that we have only continually made sacrifices for the sake of the future. Now our faith in that future is shattered. As the post-war situation develops we are increasingly filled with alarm. What is it all leading to?

    In those early post-war years Berlin was the political center of the world. And we were sitting in the front rows at the chess tournament of international politics. More, we ourselves were pawns in the tournament play. The post-war experience showed that there was no basis whatever for the hopes and expectations which Russian soldiers and officers possessed in the war years.

    And what now?

    “Politics is politics, but life is life.”

    Andrei’s voice sounded in my ears.

    “But what have we got out of life? The Germans are having a thin time at present, but they have a past they can recall, and they still have a hope of the future. They can at least hope that one day we shall clear out and they’ll be able to live again. But what can we hope for... we victors?”

    Two years had passed since the end of the war. Now our worst fears were being confirmed. Once more hunger was stalking our country, a still worse hunger than in wartime. Once more the Party had decided to take the people firmly in hand, had decided to make the people forget and turn from the illusory hopes which the Party itself had cleverly stimulated and encouraged in the critical period of the war. The Party had once more decided to show the people who was the real master, and had summoned its first servant, famine, to its help.

    In past days famine had been an elemental disaster; today it is an instrument deliberately wielded by the Kremlin.

    A clock struck; I rose and looked round my room, at my feet, shod in leg-boots, at my blue breeches with their crimson stripes. My gaze passed over the gilt buttons of my green tunic. I had gold epaulettes on my shoulders. It was all so close and so well known - yet it was all so alien.

    The walls of my room dissolved to reveal the dark, starry night over Europe. And somewhere beyond, far to the east, was the frontier of my native land. But there it was dark and still, like a leaden tomb.

    Sommaire https://seenthis.net/messages/683905
    #anticommunisme #histoire #Berlin #occupation #guerre_froide

  • Gregory Klimov. The Terror Machine. Chapter 16
    http://g-klimov.info/klimov-pp-e/ETM16.htm

    Stalin’s Party

    The days passed into weeks, the weeks into months. An incessant lapse of time in which there was no purpose, in which one only looked back and felt a great emptiness in the soul.

    Winter had come. The New Year of 1947 was approaching. In us Soviet men, who stood on the bound between two worlds, this aroused few cheerful memories and still fewer cheerful expectations. We had recently witnessed two noteworthy events: in the October there had been the first post-war elections to the Berlin municipal council, and in November the regular election of candidates to the Supreme Soviet of the U. S. S. R.

    The German elections aroused far greater interest among the Soviet residents in Berlin than one would have expected. Perhaps it was because they differed fundamentally from those to which we were accustomed. It was strange to see the pre-election slogans of the various parties. We were struck by the powerful and intelligent propaganda of the Socialist Unity Party. Here one sensed the long experience of Soviet propaganda; it was self-confident and shameless. We, who were the masters of the S. E. D. and knew what was behind it all, were particularly struck by this latter aspect.

    I well remember one incident that occurred during the Berlin elections. One Sunday morning I and two other officers decided to take advantage of the fine weather to go for a motorcycle ride. We borrowed three heavy military motorcycles from the Auto Battalion and tore out of Karlshorst along the Frankfurter-Allee.

    On our way to the Alexanderplatz we overtook a slowly marching column of men with crimson banners and flags in their hands. The demonstrators made an exceptionally depressing and joyless impression. Men in Thaelmann caps and red armbands were bustling backward and forward along its sides. We accelerated to drive past. It had been organized by the trade unions of the Soviet sector to express the wishes and desires of the German people. Attendance was compulsory. Any man who didn’t turn up was in danger of losing his job. It was pitiful and absurd to see this flock of sheep moving along under the supervision of the herdsmen in Thaelmann caps.

    I don’t know how it came about, but all the three of us Soviet officers began to ride our powerful military motorcycles round and round that column. The demonstrators looked at one another anxiously, assuming that we were a military patrol sent to ensure that the procession didn’t melt away. The herdsmen stared at us in astonishment, and as we drove close to the edge of the column they had to jump aside to avoid being knocked down. For our part, we were sickened at the sight of this shameful comedy, and on the other hand we enjoyed not having to take part in it ourselves for once.

    On that same day a Soviet patrol shot an American who was attempting to photograph a similar demonstration in the Soviet sector of Berlin. Evidently someone was of the opinion that such photographs might have the same effect on the close observer that that procession had made on us.

    The elections were held on 21 October. I have never known people in the Soviet Union to take any interest in the results of elections to the Soviet elected authorities. But on that election day in Berlin I doubt whether there was one man in Karlshorst who was not interested in the results. Most interesting of all was the fact that the S. E. D. came last but one of the parties. Not much was said about this eloquent circumstance.

    In the S. M. A. Administration for Industry the Berlin elections led to the following conversation between Captain Bagdassarian and Major Zhdanov:

    “You know,” Captain Bagdassarian said, as he pointed to the results printed in one of the newspapers, “when I think of these elections I get a queer thought. All the parties are voting. Supposing the Communist Party gets a majority. Does it mean that the others will let it take over the power?”

    “Yes, it looks like it,” Major Zhdanov answered uncertainly.

    “That’s funny! If the Communist Party comes to power, its first step will be to wring the necks of all the other parties. Yet these other parties are ready to give the power into the Communist Party’s hands without making any resistance. That doesn’t make sense!”

    “You can’t make sense of this democracy business all at once!” the major sighed.

    “It’s utter idiocy!” the captain agreed.

    “Perhaps it isn’t so stupid after all.” The major knitted his brows in the attempt to get to the bottom of it all. “Democracy as a political form is the will of the majority. If the majority votes for communism, there will be communism. True, very few are voting for it at the moment!” he ended on a different note.

    “All the same, it’s queer.” Captain Bagdassarian ran his fingers through his curly hair. “They all sling abuse at one another, but nobody puts anybody else into prison. But we do just the reverse: one says nothing and is put in prison. A man doesn’t even think, and still he’s put in prison...”

    In December 1946 the Officers’ Club in Karlshorst was the scene of electoral meetings at which candidates were nominated for the U. S. S. R. Supreme Soviet. On the day set apart for the Administration for Industry all the workers in the Administration had to be present in the Club, which had been decorated for the occasion with additional portraits of the leaders, and red bunting.

    We sat for some time in the hall, utterly bored. At last the chairman called on a speaker, who had been previously arranged. With a paper in his hand the speaker went to the platform and, speaking in a monotonous tone, began to explain how happy we all were that we ourselves could elect the representatives to our country’s supreme governmental authority. Then a further speaker went to the platform to propose our candidate from the Special Electoral District formed by the Soviet Occupation Zone.

    Then the candidate himself came out from the wings and told us his life story. He was a general, but I doubt whether he had ever spoken in such a humble and lackadaisical manner in his entire previous military career. The second candidate was someone quite unknown to all of us. We knew such a person existed only when he went to the platform not from the wings, but from the body of the hall. He was chosen to play the role of candidate ’from the very heart of the people’. Both candidates had been put forward in advance by the S. M. A. Political Administration and had been approved by Moscow.

    We all waited impatiently for this boring procedure to finish, especially as it was to be followed by a film show. When the chairman announced that he proposed to take the vote the hall sighed with relief, and everybody hurriedly raised their hands without waiting to be invited. Armed with pencils and paper, the tellers hurried through the hall. The audience began to murmur with impatience. At last the votes were counted, and the chairman asked in a drowsy tone: “Those against?”

    There was a dead silence. Nobody stirred.

    The chairman waited for a moment or two, then looked round the hall. Then, to intensify the effect of the unanimous decision, he asked in a tone of assumed surprise: “Nobody against?”

    And thus we elected two men ’chosen of the people’ to the U. S. S. R. Supreme Soviet.

    The turn of the year brought several innovations that made one take yet another glance back over the eighteen months that had passed since the capitulation of Germany.

    In the early autumn of 1946 the United States Secretary of State, Byrnes, had made a speech in Stuttgart, soberly surveying events since the end of the war and indicating the main features of American foreign policy. Only now, after eighteen months, were the Americans beginning to suspect that it was hard to sup out of the same bowl as good old Uncle Joe.

    Byrne’s’ speech was not to the Kremlin’s liking, and it was given a sharp answer in Molotov’s speech on the occasion of the revolutionary celebrations on 7 November. So much importance was attached to this speech that it was made the subject of compulsory study in all the political study circles throughout the S. M. A.

    There was no attempt to conceal the connection between the Byrnes and Molotov speeches from the senior officials of the S. M. A.; the two speeches were studied simultaneously, and those taking part in the discussion had to unmask the American’s imperialist intrigues and to stress Molotov’s peace-loving policy. But Byrne’s’ speech was regarded as too dangerous for the less politically educated workers, and they were allowed to discuss only their own leader’s speech.

    These two political speeches can be regarded as marking the beginning of the cold war. In the Control Commission Allied relations cooled off still more and went no further than diplomatic courtesy required. Decisions affecting the future of Germany were more and more removed from the Control Commission meetings to the private offices of the Kremlin and the White House.

    This situation also served as a signal for a final tightening of the screw on the Soviet post-war front. The S. M. A. Political Administration issued an instruction accusing minor Party authorities of having lost contact with the masses and neglecting political educational work. This was the crack of the whip. One could guess what would follow. In fact the first consequence was a change of Party organizers in all the S. M. A. departments. This was followed by measures to tighten things up all through the Soviet machinery.

    Hitherto the Soviet residents of Karlshorst had lived and worked without engaging in political study. Anybody who knows anything about Soviet life will know what that meant. The higher authorities were secretly astonished, the smaller fry quietly rejoiced; but one and all held their tongues, on the principle of not mentioning the devil in case he appeared. But now political studies were started, including study of the Short History of the C. P. S. U. And it had to be carried through in shock tempo at that. Evidently to make up for lost time.

    The next step was a campaign to raise labor discipline. It was decided to remind Soviet citizens abroad that there was such a thing as the Soviet labor code. Brand-new boards with hooks and numbers were hung up in all the departments, and every worker in each department had to take off and re-hang his own allotted number four times a day. In the Soviet Union these boards are the object of fear, but their effect on us was rather to get our backs up.

    The head of the Administration for Industry, Alexandrov, entrusted his number to his chauffeur, who very quickly lost it. We officers regarded the boards as an insult and took it in turn to remove several numbers at a time. But once more Soviet law with all its consequences hung as a threat over the head of every one of us.

    Then a hysterical ’vigilance’ campaign was inaugurated. Personnel Departments were instituted in all the S. M. A. offices with the obvious job of keeping closer watch on the workers. Once more extensive questionnaires were drawn up ’for Soviet citizens abroad’. These with their endless list of questions had to be filled afresh every three months. Many of us kept a copy of the questionnaire and our answers, and next time simply copied the old answers on to the new form.

    A demobilized lieutenant of the N. K. V. D. forces was appointed head of the Personnel Department in the Administration for Industry. From the very beginning he behaved with such rudeness and insolence that many of the officers, who were of higher rank, were infuriated. His room was in the basement, and he would ring someone up: “Comrade Colonel, come down to me and fill in your questionnaire.” But as often as not he got the answer: “If you need it filled in, bring it up to me. At the moment I’m still a colonel, I believe.”

    An order issued by General Dratvin, chief of staff of the S. M. A., was circulated for the information of all members of the S. M. A. In it, without actually mentioning names, he stated that the wives of quite a number of highly placed Soviet officials were going to the Berlin western sector while their husbands were at work, and were forming impermissible acquaintances among officers of the western powers. The order spoke in very sharp terms; it referred to fashionable restaurants, expensive furs, and, to crown all, agents of foreign intelligence services. All the accused women were returned to the Soviet Union at twenty-four hours’ notice, and the husbands were sternly reprimanded for their lack of Bolshevik vigilance.

    The secret purpose of this unusually frank order was revealed in its second paragraph, in which all members of the S. M. A. were strictly forbidden to visit the western sector, and were reminded of the necessity to be particularly vigilant in the circumstances of residence abroad. The women were chastised in order to serve as a warning to others.

    In conclusion General Dratvin threatened the application of sterner measures to all who violated the order... down to and including return to the Soviet Union. In saying so much, the general went too far. For thus officially, in the words of the S. M. A. chief of staff, return to one’s native land was recognized as serious punishment for Soviet citizens abroad.

    None of this was anything new to us. We had experienced it all before, at home. But coming after we had won the war, after we had looked forward hopefully to changes in the Soviet system, and above all after our comparatively free life in occupied Germany, this abrupt return to former practices gave us furiously to think. Or rather, to avoid thinking if possible. That was the only hope.

    II

    I had made Major Dubov’s acquaintance during the war. Even a brief comradeship at the front binds men together more strongly than many years of acquaintance in normal conditions. That may have been the reason why we greeted each other as old acquaintances when we met again as fellow workers in the S. M. A

    He was over forty. Outwardly stern and incommunicative, he had few friends, and avoided society. At first I regarded his reserve simply as a trait of his character. But after a time I noticed that he had a morbid antipathy to anybody who began to talk politics in his hearing. I assumed that he had good reasons for his attitude, and never bothered him with unnecessary questions.

    It so happened that I was the only person Dubov introduced to his family. He had a charming, well-educated wife, and two children. When I came to know his family, I realized that he was not only a good husband and father, but also a rarely decent fellow morally.

    His one great passion was hunting. That brought us still closer together. We often drove out of Berlin on a Saturday and spent all day and all night hunting, cut off from Karlshorst and the entire world.

    On one occasion, tired out after hours of wandering through the dense growth of thickets and innumerable little lakes, we flung ourselves down to have a rest. The conversation happened to turn to discussion of an officer we both knew, and I casually remarked: “He’s still young and stupid...”

    The major gave me a close look and asked with a queer smile:

    “And are you so old and wise?”

    “Well, not quite,” I answered. “But I’ve learned to keep a still tongue in my head.”

    He again looked at me fixedly. “Tell me, has anything ever happened to you... of... you know what?”

    “Absolutely nothing,” I replied, realizing what he was hinting at.

    “Then why aren’t you in the Party?” he asked almost roughly.

    “I’ve simply not had the time,” I answered shortly, for I had no wish to go further into details.

    ’Now listen, Gregory Petrovich, it’s not a joking matter," he said slowly, and I caught an almost fatherly note in his voice. “For a man in your position it smacks almost of a deliberate demonstration. It might even have serious consequences for you.”

    “I’m doing my job as well as any Party man!” I retorted.

    He smiled, rather sadly. “That’s how I argued once,” he said with bitter irony.

    Then, without my prompting him, in an objective sort of tone he told me his story: how he had come to join the Party, and why he avoided people who talked politics.

    In 1938 Dubov was an engineer working in a Leningrad factory producing precision instruments. He was a capable engineer, and held a responsible post connected with the construction of instruments for the air force and the navy. He liked his job, devoted all his free time to research, and bothered little about politics. Despite his responsible post he remained a non-Party man.

    One day he was summoned to the director’s room. From that moment he was not seen in the works again. Nor did he return home. His wife found out what had happened to him when the N. K. V. D. men turned up at their apartment in the middle of the night, made a thorough search, and confiscated all her husband’s personal property. Next day she went to the N. K. V. D. to ask for news of him. She was told they knew nothing about him, and was advised not to worry, nor to worry others. If there were any need, she would be informed.

    Dubov spent more than a year in the investigation cells of the N. K. V. D. He was charged with sabotage and counter-revolutionary activity. The sentence was the standard one: ten years’ imprisonment, to be spent in one of the camps in Central Siberia, where new war factories were being built. There he continued to work as an engineer.

    He discovered the real reason for his arrest only two years later. Among a fresh batch of prisoners he recognized the former chief engineer at the Leningrad factory for precision instruments. Dubov was delighted to see him, but the man seemed restrained and avoided Dubov as much as possible. But as the months passed the two engineers struck up a friendship based on their common memories of freedom. One day the conversation turned to the reasons why they had been sent to the camp.

    “Someone denounced me,” Dubov said.

    The chief engineer looked away, then sighed, and laughed bitterly. “Would you like to know who it was?” he asked.

    Dubov stared at him distrustfully.

    “I did it,” the other man said, and hurried on without giving Dubov a chance to comment: “We regularly received orders from the N. K. V. D. to provide them with so many persons possessing such and such qualifications. The lists had to be drawn up by the Party organizer and confirmed by the chief engineer and the director. What could I do? I too had a wife and children....”

    “But why was I put on the list?” Dubov asked.

    “Because you were not a Party member,” the former chief engineer said. “The Party organizer put you down.”

    Dubov said nothing for some time, then he looked wearily at the other man and asked: “But how did you get here?”

    The engineer only shrugged his shoulders helplessly.

    Dubov spent four years in the camp. But during all those years he did not suffer as much as his wife and children. Under Soviet law a political prisoner’s guilt extends to include his family. His wife was morally and physically shattered. Their children grew up in the knowledge that their father was ’an enemy of the people’, and felt always that they were not like other children.

    In 1948 he was released before the expiration of his term. With no explanation given, he was completely rehabilitated and the conviction quashed. He was called up straight from the camp into the army. That was the real reason for his premature discharge. Without seeing his family he went as an officer directly to the front.

    At the front he was an exemplary officer, just as he had been an exemplary engineer in Leningrad and an exemplary prisoner in the Siberian camp. He was just to his men and ruthless to the enemy. And he was devoted to his native land, with all its Party organizers and prison camps.

    Shortly before the end of the war he received another battle decoration, and in addition was singled out for the honor of being invited to join the Communist Party. This time he did not hesitate. Without a word he filled in the questionnaires. And without a word he accepted the Party ticket, which the corps commander’s political deputy presented to him.

    In the S. M. A. Major Dubov was regarded as one of their most reliable and knowledgeable engineers. He was given the responsible task of transferring the German industry in the Soviet zone to new lines, but his rank and position remained unchanged. Why? Because, although he had been completely rehabilitated and the conviction had been quashed, in his personal file was a curt note: ’Conviction under article 58.’ That was enough to cast a shadow over all his future life.

    III

    During my stay in Karlshorst I formed a close friendship with Captain Belyavsky. Little by little I came to know his story too, though he talked about himself very reluctantly, and only dropped hints. In 1936 Belyavsky was in Spain, where he was a lieutenant in the staff of the Republican forces. This was about the time that the Yezhov terror was at its height in the Soviet Union, and one night his father was arrested, to vanish without trace. Belyavsky was immediately recalled from Spain and demobilized. Until 1941 he shared the fate of other relatives of ’enemies of the people’; in other words, he was outside the pale.

    All those spheres of Soviet life in which the first requirement is a completed questionnaire were closed to him. Only a Soviet citizen can understand all the significance of such a situation. When war broke out in 1941 he was not called up for the army, since he was ’politically unreliable’. But when the German forces began to lay siege to his native city, Leningrad, he went to the military commander and volunteered for service. His request was granted, and that same day, as an ordinary private, he was flung into the fight - in a punitive battalion. In other words, straight to his death. But fate was more merciful to him than the Soviet regime, and he escaped with a wound.

    He spent the next three years as an ordinary soldier, going right through the siege of Leningrad. His service was exemplary, and he was recommended again and again for officer’s rank, but each time the questionnaire put an end to the story. In 1944, when the Soviet armies were suffering from a very serious shortage of officers, he was summoned to the staff once more.

    The colonel who interviewed him pointed to the entry: ’article 58’ on his questionnaire and asked: “Why do you always mention that?”

    Belyavsky did not reply.

    “Is it that you don’t want to fight?” the colonel asked sharply; he avoided looking at the decorations on Belyavsky’s chest. Belyavsky only shrugged his shoulders. The decorations rattled a little, as though answering the colonel’s question.

    “If you continue to make such entries, I must regard it as an attempt to avoid military service,” the colonel said. “Take a new form and fill it in properly. Leave a space for your service rank.”

    Private Mikhail Belyavsky did not return to his company. But next day First-Lieutenant Belyavsky was on his way to Moscow. In his pocket he had an order to proceed to the Military-Diplomatic College of the Red Army General Staff. Men were needed in wartime, and there was no bothering about a thorough examination of questionnaires. There would be plenty of opportunity for that after the war. And so Mikhail Belyavsky entered one of the most privileged military colleges in the Soviet Union.

    He was discharged from the college in the autumn of 1945 with the rank of captain, and was sent to work in the Soviet Military Administration. That was nothing extraordinary. Many of the students were freed from further study even in the middle of their second-year course, in order to take up a post.

    Captain Belyavsky’s personal file, which was kept in the S. M. A. Personnel Department, was in spotless order. All through his documents the phrase occurred again and again: ’Devoted to the Lenin-Stalin Party’. That was a stereotyped remark and was to be found in almost every officer’s personal file, but it was truer of him than of the majority.

    Certain days were set apart for political instruction, and on one of these days Belyavsky went to his office two hours earlier, as was his custom, and unfolded his papers. The educational circle to which he belonged was of a rather higher level, for it consisted exclusively of men with advanced education. With earnest faces they pored over the pages of the Short Course, though they must have known that the book was full of lies and falsifications.

    The leader of the circle, who normally was one of themselves, began proceedings by asking:

    “Well, who’s prepared to open on the third chapter? Any volunteers?”

    They all bowed their heads even lower over their books. Some of them began to turn over their papers hurriedly; others fixed their eyes on the table as though collecting their thoughts with a view to speaking later. There was no volunteer.

    “All right, then we’ll follow the list,” the leader proposed. There was a sigh of relief.

    The majority of the circle leaders kept alphabetical lists of their circle members. Each member knew whom he followed. And so the question was settled quite simply. The first on the list began to deliver a summary of the chapter, while the one who was to follow him read farther, underlining passages with red pencil. In this way the majority of circles got through their course without difficulty.

    All the members of Belyavsky’s circle had worked through the Short Course several times already. They were all bored to tears. When each had done his duty he sat gazing out of the window, smoking, or sharpening his pencil.

    Everything went off as usual. The speakers droned away monotonously. The leader sat with his eyes on his notebook, not even listening. It was a hot day, and everybody felt sleepy. And in that drowsy kingdom something happened to Captain Belyavsky that he himself would have had difficulty in explaining.

    When his turn was reached he had to expatiate on the passage which deals with the Entente’s three anti-Soviet campaigns. The theme had a heroic quality and there were parallels to the experiences of the war just ended. As soon as Belyavsky began to speak the leader raised his sleepy eyes and stared at him in astonishment. And one by one all the others began to gaze at him in bewilderment.

    For he spoke as though addressing a meeting. His voice had a note of unusual conviction. It sounded a note of faith, of challenge. He depicted the three foreign interventions in Soviet Russia after the 1917 revolution, and cleverly linked them up with the invasion and destruction of the Nazi armies in 1941-1945. He did not summarize the Short Course; he spoke extemporaneously, from a heart burning with conviction. The bewildered looks of his fellows expressed the mute question: ’Has he gone mad? Why all this unnecessary bother?’

    It happened that the circle that day included the Instructor from the S. M. A. Political Administration, who was there as observer. Belyavsky’s speech attracted his notice; obviously he had not often heard anyone speak with conviction in these circles for political education. He made a note of the name. Next day Belyavsky was summoned to the Political Administration.

    “Listen, Comrade Captain,” the instructor said to him. "I’m amazed at you. I’ve been looking through your personal file. An exemplary officer, the finest of testimonials, and yet you’re not a Party member. That simply won’t do. The Party must interest itself in men like you...

    “No, no, no...” he raised his hand, as though afraid Belyavsky might make some objection. “You made a very remarkable speech in the political circle yesterday... And yet you’ve never been drawn into Party work. We shall assign you to the task of giving political instruction to the officers’ wives. That to begin with. And secondly, you must put in your application for Party membership at once. No objections! Get that?”

    Belyavsky had no thought of objecting. Membership of the Party connoted a full and valid position in Soviet society. His heart was filled with joy; he shook the instructor’s hand with genuine gratitude.

    The November revolutionary celebrations were drawing near. In addition to having charge of a political education circle, Belyavsky was entrusted with the preparations for the festival. He plunged headlong into social and political activity and devoted all his free time to it. Spiritually he was born again. But above all he rejoiced because the Party had forgotten his past, because he was no longer a lone wolf. Only now did he fully realize how bitterly he had felt his alienation from society.

    Just about then an insignificant incident occurred which had unexpected consequences.

    Belyavsky was a keen motorcyclist. While working in the S. M. A. he had had innumerable specimens of motorcycles pass through his hands, and in the end he had picked on a very fine BMW sports model for himself. All Karlshorst knew that machine, and many a young officer stood to admire it as it flashed by.

    One evening, as he was riding past the house where Valia Grinchuk lived, he saw a light in her rooms, and decided to drop in and see her. He leaned the motorcycle against the railings, but did not lock it up, as was his habit, for he did not intend to stay long.

    Valia had guests, the company was a merry one, and he stayed longer than he thought. He left about ten o’clock. When he got outside his motorcycle had disappeared. He looked about him, thinking someone must be playing a practical joke. But there was no sign of it anywhere.

    He broke into a string of curses. Obviously someone had stolen the machine. But what infuriated him most was the knowledge that the thief must be one of his own, Soviet, people. No Berlin thief would ever have dared to take anything from Karlshorst, least of all a motorcycle.

    The Karlshorst commandatura was only a few paces away. He went and reported the theft to the officer on duty. The lieutenant sympathized with him and promised to find out whether the theft had been committed by one of the commandatura guards. He knew well enough who were responsible for the majority of the thefts that took place in Karlshorst.

    Belyavsky had no great faith in the commandatura, and he decided to go straight to a German police station situated just outside the sealed-off Soviet area. He returned accompanied by a German policeman and a police dog. At the spot where the motorcycle had been left the policeman put the dog on the scent. It made directly for the next wicket gate and began to paw at it.

    Belyavsky knew that the Party organizer for the Administration of Justice, Major Yeroma, and his deputy, Major Nikolayev, lived there, and he thought the dog was completely on the wrong trail. But each time they tried out the animal it persistently led them to that wicket gate. In the end Belyavsky shrugged his shoulders hopelessly and let the German policeman go.

    Next day he happened to be passing the gate at which the dog had pawed, and he decided to go in and make inquiries. He found four young women sitting in the sitting room. One of them was the wife of Major Nikolayev; another was the wife of the head of the S. M. A. Political Administration, General Makarov.

    All the women were rather problematic wives, wives only within the bounds of Karlshorst. Almost all the high S. M. A. officials had exceptionally young wives. Marshal Sokolovsky’s wife was several years younger than his daughter was. Such things were the result of the war.

    Belyavsky apologized for troubling them, explained why he had called, and inquired whether they had noticed anything suspicious the previous evening. They exchanged embarrassed glances and expressed their indignation at the theft. They seemed bored, and they invited him to stay awhile. Quite an animated conversation followed, a conversation, which played a large part in the further developments, chiefly because he made a very good impression on those young women.

    After searching fruitlessly for a week he had resigned himself to | the loss of his favorite machine, when one evening he was called | to the telephone. He was astonished to hear a woman’s voice

    “Is that Comrade Captain Belyavsky?” the unknown asked, and went on hurriedly: “You mustn’t mind my not mentioning my name. I I’m one of the ladies who... you remember, you called to inquire | about the motorcycle.... I phoned up to let you know that your machine is in the cellar of the house you called at. Go at once and you’ll find it. You can guess who took it.... Please don’t tell anybody how you found out. I wouldn’t like...”

    He hurriedly thanked her and put down the receiver. He sat for a moment considering what he should do next. For the thief could be no other than the S. M. A. Party organizer for the Administration of Justice, Yeroma himself. Finally he decided to ask a Lieutenant-Colonel Potapov and Major Berko to go with him as witnesses. On their way to Major Yeroma’s house they picked up the officer on duty at the commandatura.

    Major Yeroma was not at home. At the commandatura officer’s request the cellar was opened. There they found the missing motorcycle. The commandatura officer drew up an official report on the theft and discovery of the machine. In his simplicity he wrote: ’The thief is Major Yeroma, of the Administration of Justice, and Party organizer to the Administration of Justice.’ The report was signed by all the witnesses, including Major Yeroma’s wife.

    As the four officers struggled to haul the heavy machine up the stairs, between their groans and pants the officer could not help remarking: “One man couldn’t have got it down there by himself. He must have had at least two others to help him.”

    It transpired that the day the machine was stolen Major Yeroma was returning late in the evening from the Political Administration, accompanied by two other officers of the Administration of Justice. As he approached his house the Major noticed the machine and, without stopping to think, persuaded the other two officers to help him put it in his cellar. Probably it would not have been found if Belyavsky hadn’t chanced to call on the young women.

    They knew that Major Yeroma had got hold of a motorcycle the previous evening, but they had no idea where he had obtained it. When Belyavsky told his story they put two and two together, but they did not tell him what they were thinking, for obvious reasons. After he had gone they quarreled among themselves. The young wife of the head of the Political Administration took Belyavsky’s side and declared that the machine must be returned to him.

    In his indignation he decided to take steps to bring the culprits to justice. He wrote reports of the affair to General Dratvin, the S. M. A. chief of staff, to the Political Administration, and the S. M. A. Military Prosecutor. If justice were done, Major Yeroma should be expelled from the Party, stripped of his officer’s rank and sentenced to imprisonment for theft. So the law prescribed.

    When Major Berko heard what Belyavsky intended to do he advised him not to be in any hurry. A charge against Yeroma involved much else besides him, and in such cases it was advisable to be prudent. He suggested that Belyavsky should first go and see Yeroma personally, and they decided to call on him during lunchtime.

    They found him at home. He was sitting at the table, with his tunic unbuttoned and unbelted. Before him was an aluminum dish of steaming beetroot soup. He did not even look up when the visitors were shown in, but went on spooning up his soup.

    “Well, Yeroma,” Belyavsky said, “how did my motor-cycle get into your cellar?”

    “I found it,” the major answered with his mouth full of food, and not batting an eyelid.

    “I shall send a report to the Political Administration.” Belyavsky was so taken aback by the Party organizer’s impudence that he didn’t know what else to say.

    Yeroma went on eating, or rather guzzling his soup; the sweat rolled down his face. When he had finished the dish he picked it up and poured the last few drops into his spoon. Then he licked the spoon and smacked his lips.

    “You’ll never make any impression on him with a report,” Berko said in a rage. “Spit in his plate and let’s go!” They went, slamming the door behind them. The same evening Belyavsky went to the office of the head of the Political Administration and handed the adjutant on duty his report. While the adjutant was reading it with some interest General Makarov himself came out of his room.

    “Another case relating to Yeroma, Comrade General,” the adjutant reported with a smile.

    “Ah! That’s good!” the general observed. “He’s already on our list for bigamy...”

    The adjutant afterwards explained to Belyavsky that, following his superiors’ example; Yeroma had taken a new wife to himself. But in doing so he had made one tactical error: unlike others, he had registered his marriage at the Soviet register office in Karlshorst. But he had not taken the trouble to obtain a divorce from his first wife, who was in Russia.

    Belyavsky then went to the S. M. A. military prosecutor, Lieutenant-Colonel Orlov. Orlov knew Belyavsky personally, and he told him frankly: “We can’t take him to court. In this case it all depends on the Political Administration. You know yourself it’s a Party matter.”

    If Belyavsky had had more experience in Party matters, he would probably have avoided measuring his strength against the Party. Meanwhile, the Political Administration had received a resolution from a local Party group recommending Captain Belyavsky’s acceptance as a Party member. His application was accompanied by brilliant testimonials to his conduct during the war. But now the affair of the stolen motorcycle was beginning to be talked about all over Karlshorst. In order to smother the scandal the Political Administration decided that it must close the mouth of one of the two antagonists, and the choice fell on Belyavsky.

    Quite unexpectedly he received the order that he was to be demobilized and returned to the Soviet Union. He knew at once what was behind that order. What he did not know was that on his return he was to be brought to trial. The explanation was quite simple. Not long before the motorcycle incident he had filled up one of the regular questionnaires. This time, in accordance with new, strict instructions, it was sent to the local M. V. D. departments in all his previous places of residence, to be checked. It was returned from Leningrad with the comment: ’father sentenced under article 58.’ So he was demobilized and sent back to the U. S. S. R., where he was tried for making a false statement which he had been forced into making under threat of court-martial.

    Belyavsky’s collision with the Party in the person of Major Yeroma was not a decisive factor in his recall to the Soviet Union. He belonged to a category of people whose fate was predetermined. That was shown by the fact that almost at the same time Major Dubov also was demobilized and recalled. Only the S. M. A. Personnel Department and Major Dubov himself knew what was behind that order. He, too, had to take his postwar place in life.

    IV

    Two men in my close circle of acquaintances had been cut out of life and thrown overboard. I respected them as men and liked them as colleagues. Others, too, thought of them as fine exemplars of the new Soviet society. Neither of them had anything in common with the old classes, which, according to Marxism, were destined to be eliminated. They had both been created by the Soviet world and were, in the best sense of the words, true citizens of Soviet society. Yet they were condemned, irrevocably condemned to death. To spiritual death at the least. And there are millions of similar cases.

    That can easily be proved. During the thirty years of the Soviet regime at least thirty million people have been subjected to repressive measures on political grounds. As the families of all such people are automatically classified as politically unreliable, if we assume that each of them had only two relatives at least sixty million people must be on the black list.

    If ten million out of the thirty million died in prison camps, and at least another ten million are still in the camps, while ten million have served their time and been released, we get a figure of eighty million people whom the Soviet State has turned into its enemies, or, at least, regards as its enemies. That explains why in every section of the Soviet state apparatus there are personnel departments charged with the scrutiny and check of questionnaires. Today it is indubitable that the main class of the new Soviet society consists of millions of automatic enemies of the Soviet State.

    This invisible class of enemies who are also slaves permeates all society from top to bottom. Is it necessary to cite examples? One could mention the names of many marshals of the Soviet Union, as well as Stalin prize-winners, who have been in N. K. V. D. prisons; and these would be names known all over the world. Of the millions of petty collisions between State and individual who can speak?

    State and individual! Involuntarily I think of Valia Grinchuk, an undersized girl, and a partisan fighter who in the fight for her freedom took up arms. She fought bravely. She not only defended her freedom against the foreign enemy; she climbed the ladder of Soviet society. She raised herself out of the gray mass and became an individual. And hardly had she achieved this when she felt the heavy hand of the State.

    Her duties often took her to the Allied Control Commission. There she came to know a young Allied officer. There could be no outward objection to this acquaintance, as she visited the Control Commission in the course of her work. After some time the acquaintance developed into a personal friendship.

    One day she was summoned to the Party organization. She was given to understand quite amiably that the Party knew of her acquaintance with an Allied officer. To her astonishment, that was all that was said, and it seemed that the Party leaders were quite sympathetic in regard to the friendship. Some time later this incident was repeated, and she had the impression that they were even encouraging the acquaintance.

    Time passed and this friendship between a Soviet girl and an Allied officer developed into a genuine attachment. But now she was once more summoned to the Party organization, and, as a Party member, was confronted with the demand to harness her love to State interests.

    Next day she was taken to hospital. The doctors found she had a very high temperature and blood pressure, but could find no visible reason for her condition. Weeks passed without any change for the better.

    One day an elderly, experienced neuro-pathologist came to her ward, studied her case history, and shook his head as he asked her: “Have you met with any great unpleasantness... in your personal life?”

    “No!” she curtly replied.

    She spent more than two months in hospital. When she was discharged she applied on health grounds to be transferred to work which did not bring her into contact with the Control Commission. Through acquaintances she informed her lover that she had been recalled to Russia. Valia had the heart of a soldier.

    Only very few people knew the connection between these incidents. Everybody continued to regard her as a fine officer who was assiduously doing her duty in Soviet society. And only a few noticed that she began to leave off wearing her officer’s tunic with its decorations, and took to ordinary feminine clothes.

    All these things happened to people who were close acquaintances of mine. They affected me personally because sooner or later I, too, would have to join the Party. There was no other choice, except to face up to a future, which for Major Dubov and Captain Belyavsky had become the present.

    Today there is no Communist Party in the Soviet Union. There is only Stalin’s Party with its obsolete facade. The aim and end of that Party is power, indivisible power. The ideal Party member should not have any independent thought; he must be only a dumb executive of the higher will. A striking example is provided by Party organizer Major Yeroma, a bestial brute and an ideal Bolshevik of the Stalin school.

    I was wearing Soviet officer’s uniform and I was a child of the October Revolution. If I had been born twenty years earlier, I would perhaps have been a convinced Marxist and revolutionary, active in the October Revolution. Today, despite everything, I was still not a member of the Communist Party. If I had not been faced with the necessity, the indubitable necessity, it would never even have entered my head to join the Party, which was called the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

    Sommaire https://seenthis.net/messages/683905
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