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TBR News February 9, 2020

Feb 09 2020

The Voice of the White House
Washington, D.C. February 9, 2020:“Working in the White House as a junior staffer is an interesting experience.
When I was younger, I worked as a summer-time job in a clinic for people who had moderate to severe mental problems and the current work closely, at times, echoes the earlier one.
I am not an intimate of the President but I have encountered him from time to time and I daily see manifestations of his growing psychological problems.
He insults people, uses foul language, is frantic to see his name mentioned on main-line television and pays absolutely no attention to any advice from his staff that runs counter to his strange ideas.
He lies like a rug to everyone, eats like a hog, makes lewd remarks to female staffers and flies into rages if anyone dares to contradict him.
It is becoming more and more evident to even the least intelligent American voter that Trump is vicious, corrupt and amoral. He has stated often that even if he loses the
election in 2020, he will not leave the White House. I have news for Donald but this is not the place to discuss it.
Commentary for February 9: “This corona virus is a typical lightweight flu and this is known to the medical profession but to read the media reports, one would think the planet would be depopulated any minute now.
Either the press is composed of individuals with the intellect of a chicken or someone is trying to deflect public attention from the lunatic ravings of the Blessed Donald.
Here is a small sampling of nonsense.
Don’t believe any of it for a minute because this is only a virus that causes light-weight flu equal to a very bad cold:

• Singapore kicks off depleted air show amid coronavirus clampdown
• China’s coronavirus deaths surpass SARS as country plans halting return to work
• Fourth person tests positive for coronavirus in England- Reuters
• Do face masks protect against coronavirus?
• Could Japan call off Tokyo Olympics over coronavirus fears? -DW
• Coronavirus deaths overtake Sars as global toll rises to at least 800
• Coronavirus: British nine-year-old in hospital in France -The Guardian
• Indian pharma threatened by coronavirus outbreak that could lead to shortage of Chinese drug imports
• China coronavirus death toll soars to 813 with 37,000+ cases worldwide -RT
• Coronavirus Live Updates: Death Toll in China Overtakes SARS
• More than 800 people have died from the new virus in China. -NY Times
• Coronavirus Cases: 37,609 of which 6,198 in severe condition Deaths:814 -Worldometer
• Hundreds more Americans evacuated from China as coronavirus death toll rises
• France and U.K. warn against all travel to China- CBS News

Trump aches from his head to his toes
His sphincters have gone where who knows
And his love life has ended
By a paunch so distended
That all he can use is his nose”

The Table of Contents
Harry Dunn’s family seek answers over reports Anne Sacoolas was CIA officer
• Trump cries ‘fake news’ as image of dramatic orange tan line goes viral
• A Brief Analysis of Murderous Manipulations
• The Season of Evil

Harry Dunn’s family seek answers over reports Anne Sacoolas was CIA officer
Family want to know if claimed CIA link played part in US rejecting extradition request
February 9, 2020
by Peter Walker and Patrick Wintour
The Guardian
The family of a British teenager killed when his motorbike was struck by a car driven by a US diplomat’s wife have demanded to know whether the UK was told she was an alleged former CIA officer, and if this gave her extra protection from extradition.
Charlotte Charles, the mother of Harry Dunn – who died in August in a crash near the Northamptonshire airbase where Anne Sacoolas’s husband worked as an intelligence officer – said the family were furious after hearing of Sacoolas’s alleged past.
Charles said: “How could [the British government] do this to us? We have thrown ourselves into building relationships with the government despite the terrible way they were treating us. We believe in giving people a second chance. But I am livid today and my family are full of anger.”
She said the latest reports in the Mail on Sunday about Sacoolas’s alleged previous status as a CIA operative reminded her of the days just after her son’s death when she claimed the government “were trying to kick this all under the carpet”.
Family spokesman Radd Seiger has called for a public inquiry into the matter, saying Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary, did not mention the suspect’s reported past as a CIA officer.
Seiger said the family wanted to know if cabinet ministers had known of Sacoolas’s alleged previous status, and whether this played a role in the US determination to reject the UK request for her extradition.
The family, despite numerous meetings with Foreign Office staff, were not told she had worked for the CIA, although it had been widely reported that her husband was a CIA operative at RAF Croughton. The UK government has declined to comment on whether Sacoolas had served as a senior CIA staff member, though she was not declared as such when she and her husband moved to the UK.
An FCO spokesman said: “Anne Sacoolas was notified to us as a spouse with no official role.” She had diplomatic immunity under her husband’s role, which ended when she returned to the US.
Seiger said: “Something has clearly gone very badly wrong and it is no wonder that Boris Johnson has not seen it fit to meet with the parents and I. He is the leader of the team and has been nowhere to be seen other than making wholly inappropriate and unhelpful public comments.
“It is a disgrace that he has not met with us when even Donald Trump has.”
Seiger added it was “high time that the nation can see with full transparency whether or not the government prioritised protecting the identity of the Sacoolas family over the welfare and rights of Harry’s family. The US government told the FCO that they were going to remove Anne Sacoolas from the UK unless the UK had any strong objections.
“Still to this day, the family have seen no evidence that the UK did indeed raise any such objections and indeed fear that they waved her off at the airport.”
Adam Wagner, one of the lawyers acting for the Dunn family, said the FCO needed “to answer whether it knew Sacoolas was CIA at the time of Harry’s death, and whether the US used her status as a family member to take advantage of the ‘anomaly’ whereby family members are said to have more immunity than diplomats at the base”. The Dunn lawyers dispute the existence of this claimed anomaly.
Wagner added: “The Foreign Office have refused so far to disclose any information or documents about the discussions with the USA and the police after Harry died. The family are pushing hard for disclosures and have made an application for information and documents.”
The FCO said it was examining a freedom of information request by the family lawyers. The family believe the documents may reveal the government did not insist Sacoolas remained in the country, partly because of her past status as a CIA officer.
“How could they keep this from us?” Charles said. “We are determined to make sure that this never happens to another family again.
“I do not know what the government think they are doing or why they are treating us the way they are … We will not rest until Anne Sacoolas is back and we have secured the safety of the nation in so far as so-called diplomats committing crimes here in the UK is concerned.”
Asked about the reports of Sacoolas’s CIA work, the housing minister, Robert Jenrick, told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday show: “I don’t know the reasons why the US have turned down our requests so far to extradite her. She needs to return to the UK.
“She should face justice, and I think it’s a terrible situation – I think we all agree on that – for the family. Not only have they lost their child but they’re not seeing somebody brought to justice for that.”
Speaking earlier on the same show, Jeremy Hunt castigated the US for its refusal to send Sacoolas to the UK, and said a CIA link could be relevant.
The former foreign secretary said: “It may have a bearing on it, and I don’t know the truth of these things because I’m not foreign secretary any more, but I still think it is totally and utterly unacceptable that she is not facing justice in the UK.
“And if anyone is questioning that, I think we just need to ask what would have happened if the boot had been on the other foot, if a British diplomat had been involved in a road accident in the United States where someone had died and had fled on a private plane back to the UK and was evading justice – I don’t think President Trump would stand for that for one second, and I don’t think Britain would have behaved in that way.”
Hunt added: “And I would just say to the United States – and I’m someone who’s the strongest supporter of the special relationship, I think in a very uncertain world the democracies of the world need to stand together – but if we’re going to be in an alliance, we need to treat each other like allies, and that is not happening.”
The government has spent months attempting to persuade the US to return Sacoolas, who faces a charge of causing death by dangerous driving after the car she was driving stuck Dunn’s motorbike outside RAF Croughton.

Trump cries ‘fake news’ as image of dramatic orange tan line goes viral
Photo from White House south lawn draws amusement
• Indignant Trump says image ‘photoshopped, obviously’
February 8, 2020
by Victoria Bekiempis in New York
The Guardian
An image of a windswept Donald Trump, which appears to show a dramatic forehead tan line through his blown-back ‘blond’ hair, has gone viral – prompting the hashtag #orangeface to trend on Twitter.
This image was posted late Friday afternoon to an unverified Twitter account called White House Photos, which describes itself as the account of a “White House Correspondent, Journalist, Photographer, Poet and Pesco Vegetarian” named “William Moon.”
White House Photos tweeted a black-and-white version of the image shortly thereafter, with the caption: “Today, DonaldTrump was dancing with the sunset and strong winds when he walked to the Oval Office from the Marine One on the South Lawn.. Photo by William Moon in the White House on February 7, 2020.”
Trump, who is known to be sensitive about his appearance, did not take kindly to this image and said on Twitter of the black-and-white version on Saturday: “More Fake News. This was photoshopped, obviously, but the wind was strong and the hair looks good? Anything to demean!”
Although there are other photos of Trump at that time showing tan lines, the contrast is not as dramatic, Vox pointed out – prompting questions about its authenticity. White House Photos later said in a tweet: “This picture was never photoshopped, but used the Apple smartphone’s photo app to adjust the color of the picture.”
People on the internet didn’t worry too much about its authenticity – or Trump’s hurt feelings – in lampooning him.
One user wrote: “The stain of impeachment never washes off.”
And one meme featured the caption: “Tupperware after you store spaghetti in it.”

Comment: Trump’s hair is dyed, very thin or gone on top and he spends much time and money with glued comb-overs. Also, he is very fat and wears a specially designed, loose jacket to conceal his huge paunch. ed

A Brief Analysis of Murderous Manipulations

Coup D’Etat: The Technique Of Revolution
by Curzio Malaparte
FOREWORD

In 1931, Italian journalist and political writer, Curzio Malaparte, published a book in Italy entitled TECHNIQUE DU COUP D’ÊTAT. This work was based on his own personal observation of the activities in Russia at the time of the Revolution, Poland at the time of the Bolshevik invasion of 1920 and Berlin during the Kapp putsch. Malaparte was an early supporter of Mussolini and had first-hand knowledge of the means by which Il Duce had come to power in 1922.
His observations into the means by which power is acquired are acute and accurate but it is interesting to note that in 1931, he dismisses Adolf Hitler as a “fat Austrian” and little more than a second-hand imitator of Benito Mussolini.
Malaparte’s work studied the successful, and unsuccessful, coups d’Etat or seizure of power and his work was both seminal and topical for a European audience of the 1930s. However, when this book was translated into English and released in America in 1932, it appeared at the most serious time of the world-wide depression when millions of angry Americans had been thrown out of work; seen their life savings vanish, reduced to humiliating poverty and unable to provide for their families. Herbert Hoover was president and he had made no visible public efforts to address the growing and bitter frustrations in the United States.
Malaparte’s book, showing the relative ease with which a modern nation could be conquered by a handful of determined men, was not well received in the corridors of power in America and the book was soon viewed as dangerous and in essence, banned. In a democracy, books are never banned; only officially ignored which amounts to the same thing.
This is a very important work that should prove to be of interest to any student of both politics and history.
What is past is prologue to the future.
PREFACE
Although it is my plan to demonstrate how a modern State is captured and defended, which was, more or less, the subject treated by Machiavelli, this book is in no sense an imitation of The Prince-not even a modern imitation, which would be something necessarily remote from Machiavelli. In the age from which Machiavelli drew his arguments, his examples and the matter for his reflections, public and private liberties, civic dignity, and the self-respect of men had fallen so low, that I should fear to be insulting my readers in applying any of the teachings of the famous book to the urgent problems of modern Europe.
At first sight the whole political history of the last ten years may seem to he the tale of the operation of the Treaty of Versailles, of the economic consequences of the war, and of the attempts of Governments to ensure the peace of Europe. The true explanation is, however, different, and is to be found in the struggle between the defenders of liberty and democracy, and of the parliamentary State, against the adversaries of those principles. The attitudes of the various parties are political aspects of this struggle. To understand many events of recent years, and to foresee the future of politics within various European States the behavior of political parties must be considered from this point of view and this alone. In nearly every country there are on the one hand parties out to defend the parliamentary State and to apply the Liberal and democratic method of preserving an internal balance of power. Among these I count every kind of Conservative, from Right Wing Liberals to Left Wing Socialists. And on the other hand there are the parties whose view of the State is revolutionary, parties of the extreme Left and the Extreme Right, Fascists and Communists, modern Catilines. The Catilines of the Right are concerned with the preservation of order. They accuse the Governments of weakness, incapacity and irresponsibility. They proclaim the necessity of a strongly organized State, with a severe control of political, social, economic life. They are the worshippers of the State, the advocates of an absolute State. They see the only guarantee of order and liberty against the peril of Communism in a State which shall take control from the center, and shall be authoritative, anti- liberal, and anti- democratic. Mussolini’s doctrine is “Everything within the State, nothing outside the State, nothing against the State.” The Catilines of the Left seek to capture the State to install dictatorship of the workers and the peasants. “Where there is liberty there is no State” is Lenin’s doctrine.
The examples of Mussolini and Lenin are of great importance in the development of the struggle between the Catilines of the Right and the Left and the defenders of the Liberal and Democratic State.
Of course Fascist tactics are one thing and Communist tactics another. As yet, however, neither the Catilines nor the defenders of the State appear to have recognized what those tactics are, or to define them in such a way as to show up their differences or their similarities, if any. The tactics of Bela Kun are utterly unlike those of Bolsheviks. The attempts of Kapp, Primo dc Rivera and Pilsudski seemed to have been planned in accordance with rules quite different from those of Fascist tactics. Perhaps Bela Kun displayed the most modern tactics, and, being more expert than the other three at the job, was a more dangerous person.
Yet he too in setting out to capture the State proved his ignorance not only of modern tactics of insurrection but also of a modern method of capturing the State.
Bela Kun fancied he was imitating Trotsky. He did not notice that he had got no further than the rules laid down by Karl Marx as a result of the Commune in Paris. Kapp planned to finish off the Parliament of Weimar on the lines of the eighteenth Brumaire. Primo de Rivera and Pilsudski supposed that to overcome the modern State you have only to depose constitutional government with a show of violence.
Neither the Governments nor the Catilines – this much is clear – have ever seriously studied whether there is a modern science of coup d’ Etat or what its general rules are. While the Catilines pursue their revolutionary tactics, the Governments continue to oppose them by defensive police measures, Thus showing their absolute ignorance of the elementary principles of conquering and defending the modern State. Such ignorance is dangerous, as I intend to show by reciting events of which I have been a witness, in which indeed I have played a certain part myself, the events of the revolutionary season which began in February 1917 in Russia and seems not yet to have ended in Europe.
The Author
Chapter One

THE BOLSHEVIK COUP D’ETAT AND TROTSKY’S TACTICS

While the strategy of the Bolshevik revolution was due to Lenin, the tactician of the October coup d’Etat in 1917 was Trotsky.
When I was in Russia early in 1929, I had the opportunity of talking to a large number of people, from every walk of life, about the part played by Trotsky in the Revolution. There is an official theory on the subject which is held by Stalin. But everywhere, and especially in Moscow and Leningrad where Trotsky’s party was stronger than elsewhere, I heard judgments passed on Trotsky which differed altogether from those enunciated by Stalin. The only refusal to answer my questions came from Lunacharski, and Madame Kamenev alone, gave me an objective justification of Stalin’s theory, which ought not to be surprising, considering that Madame Kamenev is Trotsky’s sister.
We cannot enter here into the Stalin – Lenin controversy on the subject of the “permanent revolution” and of the part played by Trotsky in the coup d’Etat of October 1917. Stalin denies that Trotsky organized it: he claims that merit for the Commission on which Sverdlov, Stalin, Boubrov, Ouritzki, and Dzerjinski sat. The Commission, to which neither Lenin nor Trotsky belonged, was an integral part of the Revolutionary Military Committee presided over by Trotsky. But Stalin’s controversy with the upholder of the theory of the “permanent revolution” cannot alter the history of the October insurrection, which, according to Lenin’s statement, was organized and directed by Trotsky. Lenin was the “strategus,” idealist, inspirer, the deus ex machina of the revolution, but the man who invented the technique of the Bolshevik coup d‘Etat was Trotsky.
The Communist peril against which governments in modern Europe have to defend themselves lies, not in Lenin’s strategy, but in Trotsky’s tactics. It would be difficult to conceive of Lenin’s strategy apart from the general situation in Russia in 1917. Trotsky’s tactics, on the contrary, were independent of the general condition of the country; their practical application was not conditioned by any of the circumstances which were indispensable to Lenin’s strategy. In Trotsky’s tactics is to be found the explanation why a Communist coup d‘Etat always will be a danger in any European country. In other words, Lenin’s strategy cannot find its application in any Western European country unless the ground is favorably prepared and the circumstances identical with those of Russia in 1917. In his Infantile Disease of Communism, Lenin himself noted that the novelty in the Russian political situation in 1917 “lay in four specific circumstances, which do not at present obtain in Western Europe, and doubtless never will develop either on exactly the same, or even analogous, lines.” An explanation of these four conditions would be irrelevant here. Everyone knows what constituted the novelty of the Russian political situation in 1917. Lenin’s strategy does not, therefore, present an immediate danger to the Governments of Europe. The menace for them, now and always, is from Trotsky’s tactics.
In his remarks on The October Revolution and the Tactics of Russian Communists, Stalin wrote that whoever wished to form an estimate of what happened in Germany in the Autumn of 1923, must not forget the peculiar situation in Russia in 1917. He added: “Comrade Trotsky ought to remember it, since he finds a complete analogy between the October Revolution and the German Revolution and chastises the German Communist party for its real or supposed blunders.” For Stalin, the failure of the German attempt at revolution during the Autumn of 1923 was due to the absence of those specific circumstances which are indispensable to the practical application of Lenin’s strategy. He was astonished to find Trotsky blaming the German Communists. But for Trotsky the success of an attempt at revolution does not depend on circumstances analogous to those obtaining in Russia in 1917. The reason why the German revolution in the Autumn of 1923 failed was not because it was impossible at that time to put Lenin’s strategy into operation. The unpardonable mistake on the part of the German Communists lay in their neglect of the insurrectional tactics of Bolshevism. The absence of favorable circumstances and the general condition of the country do not affect the practical application of Trotsky’s tactics. In fact, there is no justification of the German Communists’ failure to reach their goal.
Since the death of Lenin, Trotsky’s great heresy has threatened the doctrinal unity of Leninism. Trotsky is a Reformer who has the odds against him. He is now a Luther in exile, and those of his adherents who were not so rash as to repent too late, have hastened to repent- officially-too early. Nevertheless, one still frequently meets with heretics in Russia who have not lost the taste for criticism and who go on drawing the most unexpected conclusions from Stalin’s argument. This argument leads to the conclusion that without Kerenski there could be no Lenin, since Kerenski formed one of the chief elements in the peculiar condition of Russia in 1917. But Trotsky does not recognize that there is any need for Kerenski; any more than for Stresemann, Poincaré, Lloyd George, Giolitti, or MacDonald, whose presence, like that of Kerenski, has no influence, favorable or unfavorable, on the practical application of Trotsky’s tactics. Put Poincaré in the place of Kerenski and the Bolshevik coup d’Etat of 1917 would prove to be equally successful. In Moscow, as in Leningrad, I have sometimes come across adherents of the heretical theory of the “permanent revolution” who virtually held that Trotsky could do without Lenin, that Trotsky could exist without Lenin; which is equivalent to saying that Trotsky might have risen to power in October 1917 if Lenin had stayed in Switzerland and taken no part whatever in the Russian revolution.
The assertion is a risky one but only those who magnify the importance of strategy in a revolution will deem it arbitrary. What matters most are insurrectional tactics, the technique of the coup d’Etat. In a Communist revolution Lenin’s strategy is not an indispensable preparation for the use of insurrectional tactics. It cannot, of itself, lead to the capture of the State. In Italy, in 1919 and 1920, Lenin’s strategy had been put into complete operation and Italy at that time was, indeed, of all European countries, the ripest for a Communist revolution. Everything was ready for a coup d‘Etat. But Italian Communists believed that the revolutionary state of the country, the fever of sedition among the proletarian masses, the epidemic of general strikes, the paralyzed state of economic and political life, the occupation of factories by the workers, and of lands by the peasants, the disorganization of the army, the police and the civil service, the feebleness of the magistrature, the submission of the middle classes, and the impotence of the government were conditions sufficient to allow for a transference of authority to the workers. Parliament was under the control of the parties of the Left and was actually backing the revolutionary activities of the trade unions. There was no lack of determination to seize power, only of knowledge of the tactics of insurrection. The revolution wore itself out in strategy. This strategy was the preparation for a decisive attack, but no one knew how to lead the attack. The Monarchy (which used then to be called a Socialist Monarchy) was actually talked of as a serious obstacle to an insurrectional attack. The parliamentary majority of the Left was very much concerned with the activities of the trade unions, which gave it reason to fear a bid for power out- side the sphere of Parliament and even directed against it. The trade unions suspected Parliament of trying to convert the proletarian revolution into a change of ministry for the benefit of the lower middle classes. How could the coup d‘Etat be organized? Such was the problem during the whole of 1919 and 1920; and not only in Italy, but in almost every Western European country. Trotsky said that the Communists did not know how to benefit by the lesson of October 1917, which was not a lesson in revolutionary strategy but in the tactics of an insurrection.
This remark of Trotsky’s is very important for an understanding of the tactics used in the coup d‘Etat of October 1917, that is, of the technique of the Communist coup d’Etat.
It might be maintained that the tactics of insurrection are a part of revolutionary strategy, and indeed its aim and object. Trotsky’s ideas on this point are very definite. We have already seen that he considers the tactics of insurrection as independent of the general condition of the country or of a revolutionary state of affairs favorable to insurrection. The Russia of Kerenski offers no more of a problem than Holland or Switzerland for the practical application of the October tactics of 1917. The four specific circumstances as defined by Lenin in The Infantile Disease of Communism (i.e., the possibility of combining the Bolshevik revolution with the conclusion of an imperialist war; the chance of benefiting for a short while, by a war between two groups of nations who, except for that war, would have united to fight the Bolshevik revolution; the ability to sustain a civil war in Russia lasting long enough in relation to the immense size of the country and its poor means of communications; the presence of a democratic middle-class revolutionary movement among the peasant masses) are characteristic of the Russian situation in 1917, but they are not indispensable to the successful outcome of a Communist coup d‘Etat. If the tactics of a Bolshevik revolution were dependent upon the same circumstances as Lenin’s strategy, there would not be a Communist peril just now in all the states of Europe.
Lenin, in his strategic idea, lacked a sense of reality; he lacked precision and proportion. He thought of strategy in terms of Clausewitz, more as a philosophy than as an art or science. After his death, among his bedside books, a copy of Clausewitz’s Concerning War was found, annotated in his own writing; and his marginal notes to Marx’s Civil War in France show how well- founded was Trotsky’s challenge of his rival’s strategic genius, It is difficult to see why such importance is officially given to Lenin’s revolutionary strategy in Russia unless it is for the purpose of belittling Trotsky. The historical part played by Lenin in the Revolution makes it unnecessary for him to be considered as a great strategist.
On the eve of the October insurrection Lenin was hopeful and impatient. Trotsky’s election to the Presidency of the Petrograd Soviet and to the Revolutionary Military Committee, and the winning over of the Moscow Soviet majority, had finally set his mind at rest about the question of a majority in the Soviets, which had been his constant thought since July. All the same, he was still anxious about the second Soviet Congress which was due in the last days of October. “We need not get a majority,” Trotsky said, “it will not be the majority that will have to get into power.” And Trotsky was not mistaken. “It would be simply childish,” Lenin agreed, “to wait for a definite majority.” He would have liked to rouse the masses against Kerenski’s government; he wanted to bury Russia under the proletariat; to give the signal for insurrection to the entire Russian People; to appear at the Soviet Congress and override Dan and Skobelov, the two leaders of the Menshevik minority; and to proclaim the fall of Kerenski’s government and the advent of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat. Insurrectional tactics did not enter into his mind, he thought only in terms of revolutionary strategy. “All right,” said Trotsky, “but first of all, you must take possession of the town, seize the strategic positions and turn out the Government. In order to do that, an insurrection must be organized and storming parties trained. Few people are wanted; the masses are of no use; a small company is sufficient.”
But, according to Lenin, the Bolshevik insurrection must never be accused of being a speculation. “The insurrection,” he said, “must not rest on a plot nor on a party, but on the advanced section of the community.” That was the first point. The insurrection must be sustained by the revolutionary impulse of the whole people. That was the second point. The insurrection must break out on the high-water mark of the revolutionary tide: and that was the third point. These three points marked the distinction between Marxism and mere speculation. ‘‘Very well,” said Trotsky, “but the whole populace is too cumbersome for an insurrection. There need only be a small company, cold- blooded and violent, well-trained in the tactics of insurrection.”
Lenin admitted: “We must hurl all our units into the factories and barracks. There they must stand firm, for there is the crucial spot, the anchor of the Revolution. It is there that OK program must be explained and developed in fiery, ardent speech, with the challenge: Complete acceptance of this program, or insurrection !”
“Very good,” said Trotsky, “but when our program has been accepted by the masses, the insurrection still remains to be organized. We must draw on the factories and barracks for reliable and intrepid adherents. What we need is not the bulk of workers, deserters and fugitives, but shock troops.”
“If we want to carry out the revolution as Marxists, that is to say as an art,” Lenin agreed, “we must also, and without a moment’s delay, organize the General Staff of the insurrectional troops, distribute our forces, launch our loyal regiments against the most salient positions, surround the Alexandra theatre, occupy the Fortress of Peter and Paul, arrest the General Staff and the members of the Government, attack the Cadets and Cossacks with detachments ready to die to the last man, rather than allow the enemy to penetrate into the center of the town, We must mobilize the armed workers, call them to the supreme encounter, take over the telephone and telegraph exchanges at the same time, quarter our insurrectional General Staff in the telephone exchange and connect it up by telephone with all the factories, regiments, and points at which the armed struggle is being waged.”
“Very good,” Trotsky said, “but . . .”
“All that is only approximate,” Lenin recognized, “but I am anxious to prove that at this stage we could not remain loyal to Marx with- out considering revolution as an art. You know the chief rules of this art as Marx laid them down. When applied to the present situation in Russia, these rules imply: as swift and sudden a general offensive on Petrograd as possible; at- tacking both from inside and out, from the workers’ districts in Finland, from Reval and from Kronstadt; an offensive with the whole fleet; the concentration of troops greatly superior to the Government’s forces which will he 20,000 strong (Cadets and Cossacks). We must rally our three chief forces, the fleet, the workers, and the military units to take over the telephone and telegraph offices, the stations and the bridges and to hold them at any cost. We must recruit the most tenacious among our storming parties for detachments whose duty it will be to occupy all the important bridges and to take part in every decisive engagement. We must also form gangs of workers armed with rifles and hand grenades who will march on enemy positions, on the officers’ training schools and on the telephone and telegraph exchanges, and surround them. , The triumph of both the Russian and the world- revolution depends on a two or three days’ struggle.”
“That is all quite reasonable,” said Trotsky, “but it is too complicated. The plan is too vast and it is a strategy which includes too much territory and too many people. It is not an insurrection any longer, it is a war. In order to take possession of Petrograd it is needless to take the train in Finland. Those who start from too great a distance often have to stop halfway. An offensive of 20,000 men from Reval or Kronstadt for the purpose of seizing the Alexandra theatre is rather more than is required; it is more than an assault. As far as strategy is concerned, Marx himself could be outdone by Kornilov. One must concentrate on tactics, move in a small space with few men, concentrate all efforts on principal objectives, strike hard and straight. I don’t think it is so complicated. Dangerous things are always extremely simple. In order to be successful, one must not challenge an unfavorable circumstance nor trust to a favorable one. Hit your adversary in the stomach and the blow, will be noiseless. Insurrection is a piece of noiseless machinery. Your strategy demands too many favorable circumstances. Insurrection needs nothing. It is self-sufficient.”
“Your tactics are extremely simple,” said Lenin: “There is only one rule: succeed, You prefer Napoleon to Kerenski, don’t you?”
The words which I attribute to Lenin are not invented. They are to be found, word for word, in the letters he wrote to the Central Committee of the Bolshevik Party in October 1917.
Those who are acquainted with all Lenin’s writings, and especially with his notes on the insurrectional technique of the December Days in Moscow during the Revolution of 1905, must be rather surprised to find how ingenuous his ideas about the tactics and technique of an insurrection are on the eve of October 1917. And yet it must not be forgotten that he and Trotsky alone, after the failure of the July attempt, did not lose sight of the chief aim of revolutionary strategy, which was the coup d‘Etat. After some vacillation (in July the Bolshevik Party had only one aim and it was of a parliamentary nature: to gain the majority in the Soviets), the idea of insurrection, as Lunacharski said, had become the driving power of all Lenin’s activities. But during his stay in Finland where he had taken shelter after the July Days to avoid falling into the hands of Kerenski, all his activity was concentrated on the preparation of the revolution in theory. There seems to be no other explanation for the ingenuousness of his plan to make a military offensive on Petrograd that was to be backed up by the Red Guards within the town. The offensive would have ended in disaster. With Lenin’s strategy checkmated, the tactics of an insurrection would have failed and the Red Guards have been massacred in the streets of Petrograd. Because he was compelled to follow the course of events from a distance, Lenin could not grasp the situation in all its details. Nonetheless, he visualized the main trend of the revolution far more clearly than certain members of the Central Committee of t he party who objected to an immediate insurrection. “It is a crime to wait,’’ he wrote to the Bolshevik Committees in Petrograd and Moscow.
And although the Central Committee in its meeting on October 10, at which Lenin, just returned from Finland, was present, voted almost unanimously for an insurrection (only Kamenev and Zinoviev dissenting), yet there was still a secret opposition among certain members of the Committee. Kamenev and Zinoviev were the only members who had publicly protested against an immediate insurrection, but their objections were the very same as those fostered by many others in secret. Those who disagreed, in secret, with Lenin’s decision brought all their hatred to bear on Trotsky, “the unattractive Trotsky,” a new recruit to the ranks of Bolshevism whose pride was beginning to arouse a good deal of jealousy and attention among Lenin’s old life guards.
During those days Lenin hid away in a suburb of Petrograd and, without losing touch with the situation as a whole, he carefully watched the machinations of Trotsky’s adversaries. At a moment like this, indecision in any form would have been fatal to the revolution. In a letter to the Central Committee, dated October 17, Lenin resisted most energetically the criticisms of Kamenev and Zinoviev whose arguments were intended to expose Trotsky’s mistakes. They said that “without the collaboration of the masses and without the support of a general strike, the insurrection will only be a leap in the dark and doomed to failure. Trotsky’s tactics are a pure gamble. A Marxist party cannot associate the question of an insurrection with that of a military conspiracy.”
In his letter of October 17, Lenin defended Trotsky’s tactics: “Trotsky is not playing with the ideas of Blanqui,” he said. “A military conspiracy is a game of that sort only if it is not organized by the political party of a definite class of people and if the organizers disregard the general political situation and the international situation in particular. There is a great difference between a military conspiracy, which is deplorable from every point of view, and the art of armed insurrection.” Kamenev and Zinoviev might answer: “Has Trotsky not constantly been repeating that an insurrection must disregard the political and economic situation of the country? Has he not constantly been stating that a general strike is one of the chief factors in a communist coup d’Etat? How can the co-operation of the trade unions and the proclamation of a general strike be relied upon if the trade unions are not with us, but in the enemy’s camp? They will strike against us. We do not even negotiate directly with the railway men. In their Executive Committee there are only two Bolsheviks to forty members. How can we win without the help of the trade unions and without the support of a general strike?”
These objections were serious: Lenin could only meet them with his unshakable decision. But Trotsky smiled: he was calm. “Insurrection,” he said, “is not an art, it is an engine. Technical experts are required to start it and they alone could stop it.”
Trotsky’s storming party consisted of a thousand workmen, soldiers and sailors. The pick of this company had been recruited from workmen of the Putilov and Wiborg factories, from sailors of the Baltic fleet and soldiers of the Latvian regiments. Under the orders of Antonov- Ovseienko, these Red Guards devoted themselves for ten days to a whole series of “invisible maneuvers” in the very center of the town. Among the crowd of deserters that thronged the streets, in the midst of the chaos that reigned in the government buildings and offices, in the General Headquarters, in the Post Offices, telephone and telegraph exchanges, in the stations, barracks, and the head offices of the city’s technical services, they practiced insurrectional tactics, unarmed and in broad daylight. And their little groups of three or four men passed unnoticed.
The tactics of “invisible maneuvers” and the practice of insurrectional action which Trotsky demonstrated for the first time during the coup d‘Etat of October 1917 is now a part of the revolutionary strategy of the Third International. The principles which Trotsky applied are all stated and developed in the handbooks of the Comintern. In the Chinese University in Moscow, among the subjects taught, there is “the tactics of invisible maneuvers,” which Karakan, with Trotsky’s experience for guidance, applied so successfully in Shanghai. In the Sun-Yat-Sen University in Moscow, the Chinese students learn the same principles which German Communist organizations put into practice every Sunday in order to get into training for the tactics of insurrection; and they do it in broad daylight, under the very nose of the police and of the sober citizens of Berlin, Dresden, and Hamburg.
In October 1917, during the days prior to the coup d‘Etat, the Reactionary, Liberal, Menshevik and Socialist revolutionary press never ceased to enlighten public opinion as to the activities of the Bolshevik Party, which was openly preparing an insurrection. It accused Lenin and Trotsky of seeking to overthrow the democratic republic in order to set up a dictatorship of the proletariat. They were not trying to disguise their criminal intentions, said the middle-class press, the proletarian revolution was being organized in broad daylight. When Bolshevik leaders made speeches to the masses of workers and soldiers gathered in the factories and barracks they loudly proclaimed that everything was ready and that the day for revolution was drawing nearer. What was the Government doing? Why had Lenin, Trotsky and the other member: of the Central Committee not been arrested? What measures were being taken to protect Russia from the Bolshevik danger?
It is incorrect to say that Kerenski’s Government did not take the measures needed for the defense of the State. Kerenski must be given due credit for having done everything in his power to prevent a coup d‘Etat. If Poincarié, Lloyd George, MacDonald, Giolitti, or Stresemann had stood in his place, they would not have acted otherwise.
Kerenski’s system of defense consisted in using the police methods which have always been relied upon and are still relied upon today by absolute as well as by liberal governments. But these police methods can no longer adequately defend the State from the modern technique of insurrection. Kerenski’s mistake was the mistake of all governments that regard the problem of the defense of the State as a police problem.
Those who accuse Kerenski of a lack of foresight and of incompetence forget the skill and courage he showed in the July Days against the workers’ and deserters’ revolt, and again in August against Kornilov’s reactionary venture. In August he did not hesitate to call in the Bolsheviks themselves in order to prevent Kornilov’s Cossacks from sweeping the democratic victories of the February revolution overboard. On this occasion he astonished Lenin: “We must beware of Kerenski,” he said, “he is no fool.” Kerenski must have his due: it was impossible for him, in October, to act differently from the way he did. Trotsky had said that the defense of the State was a matter of method. Moreover, in October 1917 only one method was known, only one could be applied whether by Kerenski, Lloyd George, Poincaré , or Noske: the classical method of relying on the police.
In order to meet the danger, Kerenski took care to garrison the Winter Palace, the Tauride Palace, the Government offices, the telephone and telegraph exchanges, and the General Headquarters with military Cadets and loyal Cossacks. The 20,000 men on whom he could count inside the capital were thus mobilized to protect the strategic points in the political and bureaucratic organization of the State. (This was the mistake by which Trotsky would benefit.) Other reliable regiments were massed in the neighborhood at Tsarkoié Selo, Kolpino, Gatchina, Oboukhovo, and Pulkovo-an iron ring which the Bolshevik insurrection must sever if it was not to be stifled. All the measures which might safeguard the Government had been taken, and detachments of Cadets patrolled the town day and night. There were clusters of machine-guns at the crossroads, on the roofs, all along the Nevski Prospect, and at each end of the main streets, to prevent access to the squares. Military patrols passed back and forth among the crowds: armored cars moved slowly by, opening up a passage with the long howl of their hooters. The chaos was terrible. “There’s my general strike,” said Trotsky to Antovov Ovseienko, pointing to the swirling crowds in the Nevski Prospect.
Meanwhile, Kerenski was not content with mere police measures; he set the whole political machine in motion. He not only wanted to rally the Right but to make assurance doubly sure by agreement with the Left. He was most concerned about the trade unions. He knew that their leaders were not in agreement with the Bolsheviks. That fact accounted for the Kamenev-Zinoviev criticism of Trotsky’s idea of insurrection. A general strike was an indispensable factor for the insurrection. Without it the Bolsheviks could not feel safe and their attempt was bound to fail. Trotsky described the revolution as “hitting a paralyzed man.” If the insurrection was to succeed, life in Petrograd must be paralyzed by a general strike. The trade union leaders were out of sympathy with the Bolsheviks, but their organized rank and file inclined towards Lenin. If the masses could not be won over, then Kerenski would like to have the leaders on his side: he entered into negotiations with them and finally, but not without a struggle, was successful in obtaining their neutrality. When Lenin heard of it he said to Trotsky: “Kamenev was right. Without a general strike to support you, your tactics can but fail.” ‘‘I have disorganization on my side,” Trotsky answered, “and that is better than a general strike.”
In order to grasp Trotsky’s plan one must appreciate the condition of Petrograd at that time. There were enormous crowds of deserters who had left the trenches at the beginning of the February revolution and had poured into the capital and thrown themselves on it as though they would destroy the new temple of liberty. During the last six months they had been camping in the middle of the streets and squares, ragged as they were, dirty, miserable, drunk or famished, timid or fierce, equally ready to revolt or to flee, their hearts burning with a thirst for vengeance and peace. They sat there in a never- ending row, on the pavement of the Nevski Prospect, beside a stream of humanity that flowed on slowly and turbulently. They sold weapons, propaganda leaflets and sunflower seeds, There was chaos beyond description in the Zramenskaia Square in front of the railway station of Moscow: the crowd dashed against the wall, surged back, then forward again with renewed vigor until it broke like a foaming wave on a heap of carts, vans, and tramcars piled up in front of the statue of Alexander III, and with a deafening din which, from afar, sounded like the outcry of a massacre.
Over the Fontanka bridge at the crossroads between the Nevski and Liteyni Prospects, newsboys sold their papers: they shouted the news at the top of their voices, about the precautions taken by Kerenski, the proclamations of the Military Revolutionary Committee, of the Soviet and of the Municipal Duma, the decrees of Colonel Polkovnikov, who was in command of the square and who threatened to imprison all deserters and forbade manifestations and meetings and brawls. Workers, soldiers, students, clerks, and sailors at the street corners debated at the top of their voices and with sweeping gestures. In the cafés and stalovaie everywhere, people laughed at Colonel Polkovnikov’s proclamations which pretended that the 200,000 deserters in Petrograd could be arrested and that brawls could be forbidden. In front of the Winter Palace there were two 75 cm. guns, and behind them the Cadets in their long greatcoats, were nervously pacing up and down. In front of the General Staff building two rows of military motorcars were drawn up. Near the Admiralty, in the Alexander Gardens, a battalion of women sat on the ground around their stacked rifles.
The Marinskaia Square overflowed with ragged and haggard workers, sailors, deserters. The entrance of the Maria Palace, where the Republican Council sat, was guarded by a detachment of Cossacks, their tall black chapkas tilted over one ear. They talked in loud voices, smoking and laughing. A spectator from the top of the Isaac Cathedral could have seen heavy smoke clouds over Putilov’s factories where the men worked with loaded rifles slung round their shoulders; beyond that, the Gulf of Finland; and, behind the island of Rothine, Kronstadt, “the red fortress,” where the blue-eyed sailors were waiting for Dybenko’s signal to march to the aid of Trotsky and slaughter the Cadets. On the other side of the town, a reddish cloud brooded over the countless chimneys of the Wiborg suburb where Lenin was in hiding, rather pale and feverish, wearing that wig which made him look like a little provincial actor. No one could have taken this man, without his beard and with his false hair well glued on to his forehead, for the terrible Lenin who could make Russia tremble. It was there, in the Wiborg factories, that Trotsky’s Red Guard’s expected Antonov Ovseienko’s signal. The women in the suburbs had sad faces and their eyes had become hard. Towards evening, as soon as darkness had swept the streets, parties of armed women moved towards the center of the town. These were days of proletarian migration: enormous masses passed from one end of Petrograd to the other, then came back to their quarters after hours and hours of walking to and from meetings, demonstrations and riots. There was meeting after meeting in barrack and factory. “All power to the Soviets!” The hoarse voices of the orators were smothered in the folds of red flags. Kerenski’s soldiers, manning the machine-guns on the housetops, listened to the hoarse voices below as they chewed their sunflower seeds and threw the shells on to the crowds thronging the streets.
Darkness descended on the city like a black cloud, In the huge Nevski Prospect the stream of deserters flowed towards the Admiralty. There were hundreds of soldiers, women, and workmen camping in front of the Kazan Cathedral, lying full length on the ground. The whole town was in the throes of fear, disorder, and frenzy. And all of a sudden, out of this crowd, men would spring up, armed with knives and mad with sleeplessness, and throw themselves on the Cadet patrols and the female battalions de- fending the Winter Palace. Others would break into the houses to fetch the bourgeois out of his own dwelling, catching him in bed and wide awake. The city was sleepless with the fever of insurrection. Like Lady Macbeth, Petrograd could no longer sleep. Its nights were haunted with the smell of blood.
Trotsky’s Red Guards had been rehearsing in the very center of the town during the past ten days. Antonov Ovseienko it was, who organized these tactical exercises, this sort of dress rehearsal of the coup d’Etat, in broad daylight, wherever the streets were thronging with movement, and round buildings which were of the greatest strategic importance in the govern- mental and political strongholds. The police and military authorities were so obsessed by the idea of a sudden revolt by the proletarian masses, and so concerned with meeting the danger, that they failed to notice Antonov Ovseienko’s gangs at work. Amid such widespread disorder, who should notice the little groups of unarmed workers; the soldiers and the sailors who wandered about in the corridors of the telephone and telegraph exchanges, in the Central Post Office, in the Government offices and General Headquarters, taking note of the arrangement of the offices and seeing how the telephones and lights were fitted? They visualized and remembered the plan of these buildings and studied the means of getting into them suddenly and at a moment’s notice. They reckoned with their chances of success, estimating the opposition, and looking for the places of least resistance, the weakest and most vulnerable places in the defensive organization of the technical, military, and secretarial services of the State. In the general con- fusion, who should notice some three or four sailors, a couple of soldiers, or a stray workman wandering round some buildings, going in and climbing the stairs; people who did not even look at each other when they met? No one even suspected these people of obeying precise and detailed orders, of carrying out a plan or of undergoing exercises directed against the strategic points in the State’s defense. Later the Red Guards would strike effectively because they had conducted their invisible maneuvers on the very ground where the battle would shortly begin.
Trotsky succeeded in getting hold of the plan of the town’s technical services. Dybenko’s sailors, aided by two engineers and engine-room artificers, mastered the underground gas and water piping, the electric power cables and the telephone and telegraph system. Two of them explored the drains under the Headquarters of the General Staff. The isolation of a whole district or even of a mere group of houses had to be made practicable within a few minutes; so Trotsky divided the town into sections, deter- mined which were the strategic points, and allotted the work, section by section, to gangs of soldiers and skilled workers.
Technical experts were necessary as well as soldiers. The capture of the railway station in Moscow was allotted to two squads consisting of 25 Latvian soldiers, 2 sailors, and 10 railway men. Three gangs of sailors, workmen, and railway officials, 160 men in all, were ordered to take over the station in Warsaw. For the capture of other stations Dybenko assigned a number of squads of 20 men each . A telegraphist attached to every squad control1ed movements on the rail- way lines. On October 21, acting under orders from Antonov Ovseienko, who was in close touch with the maneuvers, all the gangs rehearsed the capture of the railway stations, and the general rehearsal was perfectly well-ordered and precise in every detail. On that day, three sailors went to the Main Electricity Plant near the port: the Plant, run by the city ’s technical services, was not even guarded. The manager asked the sailors whether they were the men whom he had asked the Commander of the Square to send him. He had been wanting a guard for the last five days. The three sailors took over the defense of the Electric Plant, in case of insurrection, they said. In the same way, a few gangs of engineroom artificers took over the other three municipal plants.
Kerenski’s police and the military authorities were especially concerned with the defense of the State’s official and political organizations: the Government offices , the Maria Palace where the Republican council sat, the Tauride Palace, seat of the Duma, the Winter Palace, and Genera1 Headquarters. When Trotsky discovered this mistake he decided to attack only the technical branches of the national and municipal Government. Insurrection for him was only a question of technique. “In order to overthrow the modern State,” he said, “you need a storming party, technical experts and gangs of armed men led by engineers.”
While Trotsky was organizing the coup d‘Etat on a rational basis, the Central Committee of the Bolshevik Party was busy organizing the proletarian revolution. Stalin, Sverdlov, Boubrov, Ouritzki, and Dzerjinski, the members of this committee who were developing the plan of the general revolt were nearly all openly hostile to Trotsky. These men felt no confidence in the insurrection as Trotsky planned it, and ten years later Stalin gave them all the credit for the October coup D’Etat.
What use were Trotsky’s thousand men? The Cadets could so easily deal with them. The task surely was to rouse the proletarian masses, the thousands upon thousands of employees from the works of Putilov and Wiborg, the huge crowd of deserters and the Bolshevik sympathizers in- side the garrison of Petrograd, it was these who ought to be stirred up against the Government. A great rebellion must be started. Trotsky, with his storming parties, seemed both a useless and a dangerous ally.
The Commission considered the revolution much in the same way as Kerenski, as a matter chiefly concerning the police. And, strangely enough, the man who later on created the Bolshevik police (afterwards known as the G. P.U.) belonged to this Commission. Dzerjinski, pale and anxious, studied the defense of Kerenski’s government and decided on the plan of attack. He was the most formidable and the most treacherous of all Trotsky’s critics, and he was as bashful as a woman in his fanaticism. He even denied himself a glance at his hands to see whether they were stained with his deeds. Dzerjinski died at the Bench during his prosecution of Trotsky in 1926.
On the eve of the coup d’Etat, Trotsky told Dzerjinski that Kerenski’s government must be completely ignored by the Red Guards; that the chief thing was to capture the State and not to fight the Government with machine-guns; that the Republican Council, the Ministries and the Duma played an unimportant part in the tactics of insurrection and should not be the objectives of an armed rebellion; that the key to the State lay, not in its political and secretarial organizations nor yet in the Tauride, Maria or Winter Palaces, but in its technical services, such as the electric stations, the telephone and telegraph offices, the port, gasworks and water mains. Dzerjinski answered that the insurrection must be planned to anticipate the enemy’s movements and that the latter must be attacked in his strongholds. “We must attack the Government and beat it on the very ground where it is defending the State. If the enemy withdraws to the Government offices, to the Maria, Tauride, or Winter Palaces, he must be hounded out of them. In order to get possession of the State,” said Dzerjinski, “we must hurl the masses against the Government.”
All important in the Commission’s plan for the Insurrection was the neutrality of the Trade Unions. Could the State really be overthrown without the assistance of Genera1 Strike? “No,” said both the Central Committee and the Commission, ”the strike must be started by getting the masses to take part in the insurrection itself. The tactics of a general insurrection and not those of isolated revolts are going to make it possible for us to hurl the masses against the Government and to promote a Genera1 Strike. “A General Strike is unnecessary,” Trotsky replied. “Chaos in Petrograd is more useful for our purpose than a General Strike. The Government cannot cope with an insurrection when a general disorganization paralyses the State. Since we cannot rely on the Strike, we will rely on the chaos.”
The Commission is said to have objected to Trotsky’s tactics on the ground that his view of the situation was too optimistic. Trotsky, as a matter of fact, was inclined to be pessimistic; he judged the situation to be more serious than most people thought. He did not trust the masses and knew very well that the insurrection would have to be made by a minority. The promotion of a General Strike with the idea of enlisting the masses in a real battle against the Government was an illusion. The insurrection could only be made by a minority. Trotsky was convinced that if a General Strike broke out it would be directed against the Bolsheviks and that in order to prevent such a General Strike, power must immediately be seized. Subsequent events have proved that Trotsky was right. By the time the railway men, the postal, telegraph, and telephone clerks, the secretariats in the Government offices and the employees in public services had left their work, it was too late. Lenin was already in power: Trotsky had broken the back of the general strike.
The Central Committees’ objections to Trotsky’s tactics was a paradox which might have jeopardized the success of the insurrection. On the eve of the coup d‘Etat there were two Headquarters, two plans of action, and two different aims. The Commission, relying on the mass of workers and deserters, wanted to capture the Government in order to seize the State. Trotsky, who relied on about a thousand men, wanted to capture the State in order to overthrow the Government. Marx himself would have considered the circumstances more favorable to the Commission’s plan than to Trotsky’s. But Trotsky had said: “An insurrection does not require favorable circumstances.”
On October 24th, in full daylight, Trotsky launched the attack. The plan of operations had been drawn up by a former officer of the Imperial army, Antonov Ovseienko, who was also known as a mathematician, a chess player, a revolutionary, and an exile. Lenin, referring to Trotsky’s tactics, once said of Antonov Ovseienko that only a chess player like him could organize the insurrection.
Antonov Ovseienko had a melancholy and unhealthy expression. He looked rather like Napoleon before the 18th of Brumaire, with his long hair falling on his shoulders: but his eyes were lifeless and his thin pale face was that of a sad and unhealthy man.
Antonov Ovseienko was playing chess on a topographical map of Petrograd in a small room on the top floor of the Smolny Institute, the General Headquarters of the Bolshevik Party. Below him, on the next floor, the Commission was met to fix the day for the general insurrection. Little the Commission imagined that Trotsky had already launched the attack. Lenin alone had been informed, at the last minute, of Trotsky’s sudden decision. The Commission stood by Lenin’s word. Had he not said that both the 2lst and the 24th would be too early and the 26th too late? No sooner had the Commission met to decide definitely on the date, than Podvoisky came in with unexpected news. Trotsky’s Red Guards had already seized the main telegraph office and the Neva bridges. These bridges had to be held in order to insure the lines of communication between the center of the city and the workmen’s district of Wiborg. Dybenko’s sailors already held the municipal electricity stations, gasworks, and railway stations. Things had happened with unimagined speed and orderliness. The main telegraph office was being defended by some fifty police and soldiers, lined up in front of the building. The insufficiency of police measures was evidenced by those tactics of defense called “service of order and protection,’’ which may give good results when directed against a crowd in revolt but not against a handful of determined fighters. Police measures are useless in the face of a surprise attack. Three of Dybenko’s sailors, who had taken part in the “invisible maneuvers” and knew the ground already, got in among those who were defending, right into the offices; and by throwing a few hand grenades from the window on to the street, they succeeded in creating chaos among the police and the soldiers. Two squads of sailors took up their positions with machine-guns in the main telegraph office. A third squad, posted in the house opposite, was ready to meet a possible counter-attack by shooting in the rear of the assailants. Communications between the Smolny Institute and the various groups working in different districts of the town were assured by armoured cars. Machine-guns were concealed in the houses at the chief crossroads: flying squads watched the barracks of those regiments which had remained loyal to Kerenski.
About six o’clock that evening Antonov Ovseienko, paler than usual but smiling, went into Lenin’s room at the Smolny Institute. “It is over,” he said. The members of the Government, taken unawares by these events, sought refuge in the Winter Palace, defended by a few Cadet companies and a battalion of women. Kerenski had fled. They said he was at the Front to collect troops and march on Petrograd. The entire population poured into the streets, anxious for news. Shops, cafés, restaurants, cinemas, and theatres were all open; the trams were filled with armed soldiers and workers and a huge crowd in the Nevski Prospect flowed on like a great river. Everyone was talking, discussing and cursing either the Government or the Bolsheviks. The wildest rumors spread from group to group: Kerenski dead, the heads of the Menshevik minority shot in front of the Tauride Palace; Lenin sitting in the Tsar’s room in the Winter Palace.
A great crowd surged continuously towards the Alexander Gardens from the Nevski Prospect, the Gorokovskaia and Vosnessenski Streets (those three great roads that meet at the Admiralty), to see whether the Red Flag was already flying on the Winter Palace. When the crowd saw the Cadets defending the Palace, it drew back. The machineguns, the lighted windows, the deserted square, and the motors drawn up in front of the General Headquarters were a disturbing sight. The crowd watched from a distance without grasping the situation. And Lenin? Where was he? Where were the Bolsheviks ?
Meanwhile none of their opponents, whether Liberal, Reactionary, Menshevik, or Socialist Revolutionary, could grasp the situation. They refused to believe that the Bolsheviks had captured the State. These rumors they argued had probably been circulated by paid agents of the Smolny Institute: in point of fact the Government offices had only been moved into the Winter Palace as a precautionary measure; if the day’s news was correct, then there had not been a coup d‘Etat, but rather, a series of more or less successful armed attacks (nothing definite was yet known) on the organization of the State’s and the town’s public services. The legislative, political, and administrative bodies were still in Kerenski‘s hands. The Tauride and Maria Palaces, and the Ministries had not even been attacked. The situation was certainly paradoxical : never before had an insurrection claimed to have captured the State without even attacking the Government. It looked as though the Bolsheviks did not care about the Government. Why were the Government offices not taken over? Could one master the State and govern Russia without even controlling the State’s administration? The Bolsheviks had, of course, captured all the public services, but Kerenski had not resigned. He was still the head of the Government, even if, for the present, the public services, the railways, electric plants, telephone, telegraph, and Post Offices, the State Bank, and the coal, petroleum and grain depots were not under his control. If in actual fact, the Ministers in the Winter Palace were unable to govern ; Government offices were not working, the Government had been cut off from the rest of Russia and every means of communication was in the hands of the Bolsheviks. All the roads in the suburbs were barricaded; no one might leave the town. General Headquarters were cut off. The Bolsheviks had taken over the main wireless telegraphy station ; Red Guards were quartered in the fortress of Peter and Paul and a number of regiments belonging to the garrison of Petrograd were already acting under orders from the Revolutionary Military Committee. Action must be taken at once. Why was the General Staff idle? It was said to be waiting for Krasnov’s troops which were marching on the capital. All measures necessary for the defense of the Government had been taken. If the Bolsheviks had not yet decided to attack the Government it must mean that they did not yet feel their position to be powerful enough to do so. All was not yet lost.
The next day, on October 25th, during the opening of the second Pan-Russian Soviet Congress in the Smolny Institute, Trotsky ordered Antonov Ovseienko to attack the Winter Palace where Kerenski’s ministers had taken refuge, and now the question was, would the Bolsheviks win a majority in the Congress?
The Soviets of all Russia would not believe that the insurrection has been successful on the mere announcement that the Bolsheviks had captured the State. They must be told that the Red Guards had captured the Members of the Government. Trotsky said to Lenin: “That is the only way of convincing the Central Committee and the Commission that the coup d‘Etat has not been a failure.”
“You have made up your mind rather late,” answered Lenin.
“I could not attack the Government before I was convinced that the garrison would not come to its rescue,” Trotsky answered, “I had to give the soldiers time to come over to our side. Only the Cadets have remained loyal.”
Then Lenin, in his wig, beardless and disguised as a workman, left his hiding-place for the Smolny Institute to take part in the Soviet Congress. It was the saddest moment in his life for he thought the insurrection had failed. Like the Central Committee, the Commission. and the greater part of the delegates at the Congress, Lenin needed proof of the Government’s fall and of the capture of Kerenski’s Ministers by the Red Guards. He distrusted Trotsky’s pride, his self- assurance and his reckless wiles. Trotsky was no member of the Old Guard , he was not an absolutely reliable Bolshevik but a new recruit who joined the Party after the; July Days. “I am not one of the Twelve,” said ’ Trotsky, “but I am more like St. Paul who was the first to preach to the Gentiles.”
Lenin was never greatly attracted by Trotsky. Trotsky was generally unpopular. His eloquence was suspect. He had that dangerous gift of swaying the masses and unleashing a revolt. He could split a Party, invent a heresy – but, however formidable, he was a man they needed. Lenin had long ago noticed that Trotsky relished historical comparisons. When he spoke at meetings or assemblies or took part in one of the Party’s debates, he constantly referred to Cromwell’s Puritan Revolt or to the French Revolution. One must beware of a man who judges and estimates the men and the events of the Bolshevik Revolution by the standard of the men and events of the French Revolution. Lenin could never forget how Trotsky, as soon as he came out of the Kresty prison where he had been shut up after the July Days, went into the Soviet in Petrograd and, in the course of a violent speech, advocated the need for a Jacobine reign of terror. “The guillotine leads to a Napoleon,” the Mensheviks shouted at him. “I prefer Napoleon to Kerenski,” Trotsky answered back. Lenin was never going to forget that answer. Dzerjinsky later on used to say of Trotsky: “He likes Napoleon better than Lenin.”
The second Pan-Russian Soviet Congress was meeting in the main hall of the Smolny Institute, and in the room adjoining it, Lenin and Trotsky sat at a table heaped with papers and journals.
A curl of Lenin’s wig dangled on his forehead. Trotsky could not help smiling at the sight of such an absurd disguise. He thought the moment had come for Lenin to take off his wig, since there was no longer any danger. The insurrection had triumphed and Lenin was virtually the ruler of Russia. Now at least, he could let his beard grow, take his wig off, and make an appearance in public. Dan and Skobelov, the two leaders of the Menshevik majority, passed in front of Lenin on their way to the Congress Hall. They exchanged a look and grew paler at the sight of the little provincial actor in his wig, whom they seemed to recognize as the man who could utterly annihilate Holy Russia.
“It is all over,” Dan said softly to Skobelov. “Why are you still disguised?” Trotsky asked Lenin. “Those who have won do not usually conceal themselves.” Lenin scrutinized him, his eyes half-closed, with an ironic smile just playing on his lips. Who had won? That was the question. From time to time the rumble of artillery and the rat-tat-tat of machine-guns could be heard in the distance. The cruiser Aurora, anchored in the Neva, had just opened fire on the Winter Palace to support the Red Guards who were attacking it.
They were now joined by Dybenko, very tall, blue-eyed, his face framed in soft fair hair: both the Kronstadt sailors and Madame Kollontai loved him for his transparent eyes and for his cruelty. Dybenko brought the news that Antonov-Ovseieniko’s Red Guards had broken into the Winter Palace, that Kerenski’s Ministers were the prisoners of the Bolsheviks, and that the Government had fallen. “At last!” cried Lenin. “You are 1 twenty-four hours late,” answered Trotsky. Lenin took his wig off and passed his hand across his forehead. (H. G. Wells once said of Lenin that his skull was the same shape as that of Lord Balfour.) “Come on,” said Lenin, walking into the Congress Hall. Trotsky followed in silence. He looked tired and a kind of drowsiness dimmed his steely eyes. Lunacharski declares that Trotsky, during the insurrection, reminded him of a Leyden Jar. But now the Government had fallen, Lenin took his wig off, as one lays down a mask. The coup d‘Etat was Trotsky’s feat. The man who profited by it, the Chief and the Dictator, was Lenin.
Trotsky followed him in silence, with a doubtful smile that never grew to gentleness until Lenin died.

The Season of Evil
by Gregory Douglas

Preface
This is in essence a work of fiction, but the usual disclaimers notwithstanding, many of the horrific incidents related herein are based entirely on factual occurrences.
None of the characters or the events in this telling are invented and at the same time, none are real. And certainly, none of the participants could be considered by any stretch of the imagination to be either noble, self-sacrificing, honest, pure of motive or in any way socially acceptable to anything other than a hungry crocodile, a professional politician or a tax collector.
In fact, the main characters are complex, very often unpleasant, destructive and occasionally, very entertaining.
To those who would say that the majority of humanity has nothing in common with the characters depicted herein, the response is that mirrors only depict the ugly, evil and deformed things that peer into them
There are no heroes here, only different shapes and degrees of villains and if there is a moral to this tale it might well be found in a sentence by Jonathan Swift, a brilliant and misanthropic Irish cleric who wrote in his ‘Gulliver’s Travels,”
“I cannot but conclude the bulk of your natives to be the most odious race of little pernicious vermin that Nature ever suffered to crawl upon the surface of the earth.”
Swift was often unkind in his observations but certainly not inaccuratre.

Frienze, Italy
July 2018-August 2019

.
Chapter 81

Very early the next morning, before anyone was awake, someone outside the gate pushed the call button and the buzzing woke Claude.
It was a truck full of weight lifting equipment that he had been keeping in storage in a New Orleans warehouse.
The two drivers were unaccustomed to the snow but were more than happy to haul the benches, punching bags, machines, weights and other implements of torture down into the basement. In return for their cheerful attitude, Chuck invited them for breakfast and when they had finished, gave each of them a large denomination bill.
He remarked to the rest of the house as they were inspecting the newly arrived material that money had the marvelous property of making ordinary people so happy.
A good portion of the rest of the day was spent in dragging heavy machinery around, assembling strange looking devices and bolting others to the ceiling and several of the walls. When they had all returned from lunch, only Gwen was missing. She was complaining of general malaise and had gone upstairs to lie down.
Chuck went upstairs to check on her and found her lying down with a towel over her face.
“Are you OK up here?”
“Actually, Chuck, I feel terrible. I’ve been having some kind of cramps and they seem to be getting worse.”
“Something you ate?”
“No, not. I’ve been feeling bad for the past couple of days now.”
“Maybe you should have someone look at you.”
“Oh, I don’t think so.”
“Well, better safe than sorry, I always say. There’s what appears to be a very nice small hospital about fifteen miles south of here. Why don’t we take a drive down there, just for the hell of it?”
She frowned and then bit her lower lip.
“Maybe we should.”
As they were backing out in the van he said,
“You’re right, it’s probably nothing but, anything to get out of the house.”
When he was caught up in the grind of daily boredom in the city, he often daydreamed about how wonderful it would be to have enough money to get a place up in the mountains away from ringing telephones, cell phone messages, rude and noisy neighbors, insane motorists and bad air.
Now that he lived in just such a place and had more than enough money in a box in his closet to last him for years, he was becoming very bored and irritable and jumped at any chance to go for mail and to shop in the small market in town.
The clinic was a neat, red brick building with white trim and he told Gwen to sign in as Mrs. O’Rourke in case he had to pay with a check.
He settled down in the small waiting room after the nurse had called for Gwen and began to thumb through the stacks of elderly religious magazines. Once, several years ago, he had taken his revenge on a nasty dentist by buying up a stack of terribly gross pornographic magazines, putting fake mailing labels on them with the dentist’s office address and sticking them into the piles of old magazines in his office.
He sat down to wait for results and was rewarded by the piercing voice of an obnoxious little girl who was waving one of his deposits at her horrified mother.
“Mommy, what’s this lady doing with the doggie?”
The next ten minutes were well worth the expense as the mother, discovering the dentist’s name and address on the back cover, rushed howling to the stunned receptionist and thence to the blanched dentist himself.
Chuck was reading about the curative powers of the Shroud of Turin, which had long ago been proven a fake, when the nurse came out into the waiting room and stood in front of him.
“Mr. O’Rourke? The doctor would like to see you in his office.”
The doctor was surprisingly young, had black hair, very blue eyes and a pleasant Irish brogue.
“I’m Doctor McConnell, Mr. O’Rourke.”
They shook hands and the doctor pointed to a chair.
“Please sit down, sir and I can discuss your wife’s problems with you. Were you aware that she was pregnant?”
“No, my God, she never said a thing.”
“Maybe she wanted to surprise you.”
“Well, she’s certainly done that, hasn’t she? How is she? Is it serious?”
The doctor sat on the edge of his desk and looked at a file of notes.
“I’m sad to say that your wife has had a miscarriage.”
“My God! A tubule pregnancy?”
“No sir, not that serious. She wasn’t very far along at that and no, it wasn’t a serious business, although all such businesses can be. I understand it was her first and sometimes these things just happen. I no sooner started my examination than it happened. Fortunate that you got her here in time. We got everything taken care of and cleaned up and I’ve got her on pain pills and in one of our rooms. I’d like to keep her the night, if you don’t mind. Just to make sure there are no other problems.”
“Is she in any pain?”
“More distress than pain. These things aren’t too serious physiologically, sir, but often devastating psychologically. If you take my meaning.”
“I understand she lost her little brother when they were children. Boy got very sick, parents weren’t home and she had no way of getting help. Died in her arms and she was…still is….living with that.”
The doctor shook his head.
“As I said, it isn’t so much physical. Well, no doubt you’ll want to see her.”
Chuck stood up.
“I think I would. I would assume you’re Irish by the accent.”
“I am sir, and I assume you’re Irish from the name.”
“Partially. What part of Ireland?”
“A small village on the west coast to start with and Dublin at the last.”
“Why here?”
“Too many doctors in Ireland so I came here.”
“Teeming cultural area. Did you ever go to the Abby Theater?”
The doctor laughed.
“Oh my yes! I used to act there while I was in medical school. Have you ever been to Ireland?”
“Yes, once. A beautiful country and the Abby was a wonderful experience. How long have you been here?”
“Six months, sir. I work here five days a week on and two off. Sometimes the night shift and sometimes graveyard. Five on and two off.”
“I used to work an emergency room in a big hospital when I was younger. Seven on and none off. Mostly at night and I slept on a gurney. Scared the shit out of a nurse who came into the room and thought I was a stiff. When I woke up, she screamed like a banshee.”
“We all have had such experiences. Did you take medical training?”
“No, none at all but I picked up quite a bit of information by just watching. That’s why I insisted she come down here today. Nothing special but we have to be careful.”
“Better than being sorry later. You did the right thing.”
“Thank you.”
He shook hands warmly.
“May I see my wife now?”
“Of course Mr. O’Rourke. Down the hall to your left and the first door on the right. I have another patient or I’d come with you.”
“Thank you again.”
“My employment and my calling, sir.”
Gwen was propped up in a hospital bed with the side rails pulled up. She was pale and looked very tired. Chuck looked in and thought she was asleep.
“Is that you, Chuck?”
He came in and leaned over the bed.
“I guess it’s me. How are you doing?”
“A little sore and tired. They gave me something. Did the doctor tell you?”
He pulled up the small chair at the foot of the bed and sat down next to her.
“Yes, he did. I’m very sorry, Gwen, for whatever it’s worth. I had no idea at all you were..”
“Pregnant. I wasn’t either until yesterday. I took a test and it was positive. And then the cramps began. I lost the baby, Chuck, I just lost another baby…”
And she began to cry.
He got up, put down one of the bed rails and put an arm around her shoulders.
“I know. I don’t…I’m not very good at these things, dear, but believe me, I am very sorry right now. Can I do anything for you?”
She put a hand on his arm and squeezed it.
“No, and you don’t have to stay here. I should get some sleep and the doctor said I could go home tomorrow.”
“I’ll stay for a while, if you don’t mind.”
“If you want to. Why do these things happen to us?”
“That’s a question I’ve asked myself many times, Gwen. And I never get an answer.”
“There isn’t one, is there?”
“It’s all God’s will, some people will tell you. Why didn’t you say something yesterday? Maybe we could have done something then, don’t you think?”
“The doctor said there was nothing we could have done. I know you would have brought me right down here but it wouldn’t have done anyone any good at all.”
Chuck sat down on the edge of the bed and smoothed her damp hair.
“You have no idea how badly I feel about this.”
“It’s my fault, not yours. It wasn’t even you, was it?”
“Beg pardon?”
“It wasn’t you that night, was it?”
“What night?”
“Oh, Jesus, don’t be stupid. You know what I mean. New Year’s eve, that’s what I mean. I thought it was you in the beginning but after while, I figured it maybe wasn’t but I was a little drunk and I was having a good time. I never should have started that, should I?”
“Why not? Everyone likes to be happy, once in a while and New Year’s eve is as good a time as any.”
“My God, I knew it wasn’t you and it wasn’t Lars because I know both of you. That left Claude and Alex and it sure wasn’t Claude.”
“No, it wasn’t.”
“Jesus, he’s only fifteen.”
“So? You’re only eighteen. If he was five, that’s different.”
“Five? My God, if a five year old could do all that, he’d be President.”
“Probably could be at that. Why didn’t you stop?”
She laughed.
“I couldn’t. He was too good.”
“Alex would be flattered except he’s been terribly upset about everything. He told me first off that he should have said something but he couldn’t.”
“Why?”
It was Chuck’s turn to laugh.
“He said it was too good to stop.”
And they both laughed.
“The doctor is a good fellow, isn’t he?”
“He’s a doll.”
“I liked him right from the start. He thinks you’re my wife.”
“Well, dear, I tried.”
“And you would have succeeded if you had the baby.”
“Even though it wasn’t yours?”
“Even so. Don’t do that again, Gwen, please. A baby is not a bargaining chip after all. We can have a nice talk about these things when you’re home. Why don’t you try to get some sleep? I’ll just sit here for a while in case you want anything and we’ll be going home in the morning.”
And when she woke up at four in the morning, Chuck was sleeping in the sparse chair, head over to one side. She could still see worry in his face and she wept silently for the third time since she came into the hospital twelve hours earlier.
When he finally woke up, Chuck had a stiff neck and a sore back so he stayed in the background while Gwen was approved for release.
The doctor reminded him again of his invitation for the weekend and helped wheel Gwen out to the van, now warming up in the parking lot.
The sky had been threatening snow for several days but the roads were entirely clear as they drove back to the house.
The conversations between them were brief and polite because both of them were too tired to talk and when they finally went inside the house, they went up to their rooms and immediately fell asleep.
Chuck stopped long enough to give Claude a brief sketch of the events at the hospital before vanishing into the upper reaches of the house and temporary oblivion.
(Continued)

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