George Orwell wrote of the tendency whereby "political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness". As we're on the subject of the Socialist Workers' Party - a modern instance of a minority Marxist tendency to cross over to the unabashedly racist politics of the far-Right - I can give a predictable example from this week's edition of the party's newspaper. One Mike Haynes writes about the playwright Maxim Gorky, and concludes:
Gorky did not see that the poverty forced on Russia’s masses by Stalin undercut any real possibility of change. In 1932 Stalin invited him back again [from exile in Italy]. He returned to Russia for the last time. Now the regime was able to use him as a propaganda weapon. In private Gorky’s doubts began to grow, but by then it was too late. He was trapped intellectually and politically.
Gorky really is a substantial figure of European literature. His autobiographical writings, his play The Lower Depths and his novel Mother are in particular outstanding works. But that doesn't mean it's legitimate to bury Gorky's political record in evasions of his culpability as a propagandist for Stalin.
I'd recommend in this context a book called Making History for Stalin: The Story of the Belomor Canal, 1998, by Cynthia A. Ruder. Belomor was the abbreviated name for the Baltic-White Sea Canal. It was a garguantuan, brutal and - as it turned out - almost entirely useless project of Stalin's that was begun in 1930 and built by slave-labour. Ruder's book gives not only the history of this grotesque project but an account of the literary works written to celebrate it. She remarks (p. xi): "Foremost among these is The History of the Construction of Stalin White Sea-Baltic Canal, a volume notorious in the annals of Russian literary history...." Gorky was one of three editors of this book, which, astonishngly, celebrated Belomor as a humanitarian achievement. In his outstanding biography Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar (2003, p. 106), Simon Sebag Montefiore records that of 170,000 workers who began construction of the canal, 25,000 died within the first 18 months.
Those who were "trapped" in this hell-on-earth were the slave-labourers hacking out solid rock. But if you're hacking out an article for Socialist Worker, your sympathies are liable to be otherwise engaged.