Monday, October 16, 2006

More Comintern lessons

Recently finished William Chase, Enemies within the Gates; the Comintern and the Stalinist Repression 1934-39, a collection of documents on the impact of the purges on the Comintern. The meetings transcribed are horrifying in which Communists turn on themselves in an orgy of self-blame and accusation. There must have been people in these meetings baffled by the insanity unfolding before them and the departure of their comrades to the execution cellars. Maybe not. Like the current insanities it all began with a single terrorist action, the 1934 Kirov assassination, and from then the documents shows how this spiralled out of control, even out of Stalin's control. It is an example of the limitless capacity of humans for self-delusion and for magical thinking where setbacks are not attributed to mistakes or even objective circumstances but conspiracies. No doubt soon we will be told that the Iraq war failed because of its critics who were objectively complicit with the terorists. Within the madness there are also hints of score settling, the apparatus figures who were purged were Popular Front opponents like Bela Kun and Osip Piatinsky. It does confirm E H Carr's historical skill in Twilight of Comintern, written long before the archives were opened, in teasing out the lines of Comintern division in the early 1930s.


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