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September 04, 2003



I am a bear of very little brain, so please will you explain to me how use of the expression "bureaucratic despotism" can be interpreted as being consistent with sympathy for the regime so characterised.

George Peery

I don't see what the problem is here. If Trotsky didn't understand what was happening in Germany in 1937, he wasn't alone. Hardly anyone outside of German did. If Oliver is suggesting that Stalinist Russia was some kind of hothouse of antisemitism, I can't agree. Certainly people like Litvinov and Kaganovich might have preferred to be something other than Jewish, but they were no more vulnerable (eg, to the NKVD) than anyone else, including Stalin's own family.

Paul Anderson

Two points:

1. It's not altogether surprising that Trotsky was blind to the anti-Semitism of Stalin because it wasn't really visible until long after Trotsky died (the campaign against Jewish communist leaders in the late 1940s and early 1950s and the "doctors' plot" farrago that would have ended in a pogrom had Stalin not died).

2. I don't really want to get into the argument about the Red Army Fraction and whether it was fascist - suffice it to say that I'm a former-teenage-anarchist sympathiser with the RAF who realised as soon as I read a bit about them (in the early 1980s) that they weren't the romantic rebels I'd imagined them to be - but the RAF had nothing to do with Trotsky or Trotskyism. Germany's 68-generation left was Third-Worldist/Stalinist/Maoist, not Trot. Italy's was the same. In France the Trots shared the platform; in Britain the Maoists were marginal.

David Gillies

If your beautiful demolition of Rageh Omaar infra is anything to go by, I almost feel sorry for young Ryan. Almost.

George Peery

"...the anti-Semitism of Stalin because it wasn't really visible until long after Trotsky died ..."

"Long after" indeed, like when Stalin was old, sick and dying. The "Doctor's Plot" involved, as I have read, a paranoiac fear by Stalin of American intentions being promoted by "Zionists" -- not all of whom (eg, Abakumov) were Jewish. (Yes, I know there's a new book out on this, but I haven't read it, and probably won't.)

Like a shrew and a mouse, anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism may look the same, but they aren't.


It appears Oliver's advertised sternly paternalistic attitude to comments on his site has broken down somewhat.

Jackie D

Either that, James, or he's a busy person and doesn't have as much time as you do to police his comments section.

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