11 thoughts on “Poet Attila the Stockbroker on 1917 Russian revolution

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  6. On May 9, 1918, Edgar Sisson, an agent of the US propaganda bureaucracy known as the Committee on Public Information (CPI), circulated the first of 68 forged Russian documents that came to form the pamphlet The German-Bolshevik Conspiracy, which alleged that Lenin and Trotsky were paid agents of the German Army’s General Staff.

    Sisson, who had served as editor of Collier’s Weekly and Cosmopolitan before the war, arrived in Petrograd in November 1917, after the Bolshevik seizure of power. He obtained the documents in the spring of 1918, sending them, along with a report attesting to their authenticity, to President Woodrow Wilson, who received them on May 9.

    The documents were crude forgeries created by enemies of the Bolsheviks in Russia. As the American diplomat and Russia expert George Kennan demonstrated in a 1956 analysis, the signatures on the supposedly incriminating documents were false, their letterheads and seals were suspect, letters supposedly originating from different offices were produced by the same typewriter, and the dating system used in the correspondence was incorrect.

    Nonetheless, when the Wilson administration and the CPI released the documents to the public in September, 1918—distributing 137,000 copies in pamphlet form—leading academics and newspapers declared them to be authentic. As the New York Times told its readers, the documents prove:

    that the present heads of the Bolshevist government—Lenin and Trotsky and their associates—are German agents … that the Bolshevist revolt was arranged for by the German Great General Staff and financed by the German Imperial Bank and other German financial institutions … that the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was a betrayal of the Russian people by German agents, Lenin and Trotsky … that the present Bolshevist government is not a Russian government at all, but a German government, acting solely in the interests of Germany, and betraying the Russian people, as it betrays Russia’s natural allies, for the benefit of the Imperial German Government alone. And they show also that the Bolshevist leaders … have equally betrayed the working classes of Russia whom they pretend to represent.

    The obviously false nature of the letters was no obstacle to Wilson, the CPI, and the Times, because the “documents” suited important purposes, both foreign and domestic: to help continue on the imperialist slaughter that had been discredited by the October Revolution, and to brand working class opposition to the war within the United States, as well as sympathy for the Russian Revolution, as the activity of agents in the pay of Germany.



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  8. On July 30, 1918, the national congress of the Section Francaise de l’Internationale Ouvriere (SFIO—the French Socialist Party), responding to the growing antiwar and radicalized mood among French workers, rejected intervention by the imperialist Allies against the Bolsheviks in Russia. A centrist tendency, led by Jean Longuet, grandson of Karl Marx, a reformist and pacifist, won the leadership of the party away from the extreme rightwing and social patriotic forces led by Albert Thomas.

    The French social-democrats, along with their counterparts in every major European country, had gone along with the war aims of their imperialist master, adopting the policy of the Union Sacree—the “sacred union” of the workers organizations and the bourgeoisie for the duration of World War I. Using the language of Jacobin nationalism and anti-German chauvinism, they lauded the superiority of French republican institutions over the monarchy ruled by Kaiser Wilhelm II.

    L’Humanité, the daily paper of the SFIO, called on workers to perform their military duty or to speed up production at home. The secretary of the CGT trade union confederation, Leon Jouhaux, became a Commissar of the Nation and sat on war committees alongside royalists. Many leaders of the French Socialists, including Marcel Cachin, a future founding member of the Communist Party, were fervent supporters of the war.

    An amorphous opposition within the SFIO began to develop in 1916, similar to the trend led by Karl Kautsky in Germany. The sufferings of the masses and the continuing slaughter which would result ultimately in 1.4 million French dead and 3 million wounded produced an enormous revulsion against the right-wing faction of the SFIO.

    The national congress of the party, in addition to passing a resolution against Allied intervention in Russia and in opposition to any “projects of a Russian counterrevolution,” criticized the right-wing Thomas faction. It recorded regret at “recent manifestations by certain members of its parliamentary group” who lined up with the openly pro-imperialist leadership of the American Federation of Labor.



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