Socialism Today                     The monthly journal of the Socialist Party

Issue 31 contents

About Us

Back Issues



Contact Us



Issue 31, October 1998

An inspiring work

PETER TAAFFE IS quite correct to point to the unique nature of Vadim Rogovin's work (Socialism Today No.30, 1937: Stalin's Year of Terror). Since the collapse of Stalinism in the USSR there has been a flood of books aiming to denigrate the achievements of the Bolshevik revolution of 1917 and equate the healthy workers' state of Lenin's day with the monstrous caricature of socialism which was the USSR under Stalin's regime. Since 1991 Professor Rogovin has devoted himself to shedding light on the struggle of the Left Opposition against the rise of Stalinism in the USSR.

Rogovin's work stands out in that it is a lone voice within Russian academia against this falsification of history which, he argues, 'is directed not only against Trotsky but also against everything connected with Bolshevism'. In a lecture in Paris on the 80th anniversary of the Russian revolution, Rogovin pointed out that the reason for this flood of anti-Bolshevik propaganda in Russia today is because the Russian ruling class 'understand that those who control the past partly control the present'. He made the related point that official propaganda in Russia today 'hammers on the theme' that the poverty of the masses and the gigantic spread of corruption is not due to the return of capitalism to Russia but results from 75 years of the planned economy.

  Rogovin's work corrects the widely held but mistaken conception that the Left Opposition only existed up to 1927, when its supporters were expelled en masse from the Bolshevik Party. His work reveals that the Left Opposition continued to work clandestinely in Russia into the early 1930s. The ideas of the Left Opposition had considerable influence on the rapidly expanding number of anti-Stalinist groups in the 1930s. One of the main reasons for the Moscow show trials and the Great Terror was to cut across the rising tide of anti-Stalinist sentiment within Russian society in the mid-1930s.

Without in any way wanting to diminish the horrors of the Stalinist Terror, Rogovin questions the fantastic figures of the size of the repression in the 1930s put forward by the likes of Robert Conquest. The implication of such figures is to present the entire Bolshevik Party as being responsible for the Terror. Rogovin puts forward the figure of four million victims of the Terror, of whom 700,000 to 800,000 were shot, which is in sharp contrast with the figures of over 20 million put forward by Conquest.

Rogovin's account of the heroic struggles of the Left Opposition against the tidal wave of mass repression sweeping Russian society in the 1930s, should help to re-inspire those of us who are fighting for socialism today in the difficult period we are going through.

Dylan Murphy
Huddersfield Socialist Party

Home | Issue 31 contents | About Us | Back Issues | Reviews | Links | Contact Us | Subscribe | Search | Top of page