Above Isaak Brodsky Stalin
Below attributed to Yuri Annenkov Trotsky
by Nick Wright
You really couldn’t make it up. Evan Davis – possibly the BBC personage most in awe of business bosses and most uncritical of the ‘existing state of things’ – is hosting a discussion on the Russian Revolution. Backdrop to the piece are some of the most outstanding paintings from the Royal Academy show Revolution 1917 to 1932.
First up we have the serial self-publicist and Amazon review faker Orlando Figes.
Figes, for those who don’t follow these things, was so traumatised by his research into the course of the Russian Revolution that he felt compelled to fake up positive reviews of his books on the Amazon site. When exposed he first blamed it on his wife before owning up. His excuse boiled down to a complaint that Stalin made him do it.
Pressed to describe his ideological standpoint one might locate it somewhere between a grudging admiration for Kerensky and a wistful longing for the certainties of a good Tzar. No wonder the likes of Lenin and Stalin drove him to impersonation.
For a fully rounded discussion on revolutionary process — with a meticulous attention to political balance – Evan Davis gave us an anti-Assad oppositionist from Syria and a leader of the Ukrainian Maidan movement. Given that the chosen allies of the Syrian opposition range from ISIS head-choppers to crazed neo-cons and that the present regime in Ukraine counts the neo-cons of the Clinton’s State Department as its sponsors and as its ideological progenitors those Ukrainian fascists who so delighted in massacring Jews, Poles and communists alike it is hard to see where balance might be struck.
Better manners prevail on the art historical front although getting a rational discussion about the Royal Academy show is becoming difficult. The so-called quality press has published reviews of varying quality. Even when they a written by people who know their art history they are less sure about the actual events and processes that are reflected in the art.
I can hardly wait for Christine Lindey’s forthcoming review in the Morning Star.
The Independent’s reviewer Karen Wright (no relative) is a usually reliable authority but is clearly ignorant of Lenin’s observation made just four years before the March Revolution that: “People always have been the foolish victims of deception and self-deception in politics, and they always will be until they have learnt to seek out the interests of some class or other behind all moral, religious, political and social phrases, declarations and promises.: (The Three Sources and Three Constituent Parts of Marxism March 1913)
I drafted a few points of gentle criticism — some of which I included in an earlier posting on the show — but the Indy chose not to publish them. Nothing unusual in that. More surprising is the unusual treatment meted out to my equally critical and similarly gentle rejoinders to Judy Cox’s piece on the Counterfire website. It went up last night but had vanished this morning.
It would seem that Marx’s enjoinder to criticise everything applies to all matters except the saintly personage of Leon Trotsky.