The early years of the revolution saw suppression, slave labour and executions, says John Medhurst
Though lauding the historical literacy of Russian workers in 1917, Paul Mason didn’t demonstrate much himself (Those who lived through the Russian Revolution understood history – unlike us, G2, 31 October). He dates the “degeneration of the revolution to the early 20s”, presumably meaning the suppression of the Kronstadt rebellion in 1921. It is not clear why he lets pass Trotsky’s “militarisation of labour” in 1920, designed to implement the Taylorist working practices that Lenin saw as the essence of socialism; the imposition of martial law in St Petersburg, Moscow and other cities in 1920 and 1919 to crush working-class strike action; the establishment of the first “camps of special significance” in 1919 to use industrial slave labour; the forced closure of many local Soviets in early 1918 which elected Menshevik or Socialist Revolutionary (SR) majorities; the closure of the nationally elected Constituent Assembly in January 1918, which produced a clear SR majority; and the formation of the Cheka, with powers to arrest and execute without trial, in December 1917.
Is this what Paul will be celebrating on 7 November?
(Author of No Less Than Mystic: A History of Lenin and the Russian Revolution for a 21st Century Left), Hove, East Sussex
Link : Russian Revolution wasn’t slow to degenerate | Letters