Today I read “Their Morals and Ours” by Leon Trotsky. He wrote the piece in 1938 for publication in ‘New International,’ the theoretical Journal of the Socialist Workers Party in the United States. It was barely a year before the outbreak of the Second World War, a time when fascism was spreading through Europe and Asia. The democracies of the west were facing strife, strikes and protests were the order of the day. Stalin was consolidating his hold on the Soviet Union. The Republican side of the Spanish Civil war was losing ground to Franco’s Fascists. Trotsky was facing attacks on his methods and revolutionary perspective from the right and left internationally.
Early criticism of Trotsky depended upon antisemitism. Later, it came in the form of attacks on the methods of the early Bolsheviks. Instead of ethnic prejudice Trotsky’s opponents tried to use “theory,” appearing slightly more sophisticated. Stalin pulled leading lights of the international labour movement into his orbit, encouraging the spread of anti-Marxist ideas on the left. The Bolshevism of Trotsky and Lenin was attacked directly on the basis of “morality.” Most often it was a portrayal of the leaders of the early Bolsheviks as violent men bent on power willing to murder, deceive, steal, etc to achieve their ends.
Not unlike the anti-semitic portrayals, the attacks from the left however did not always take on the prejudices of the right wing. In his article Trotsky exposes their moralising as differing little in substance than that of the right wing, ie. idealistic deceptions which let the ruling class get on with the business of being the ruling class. Their position in general was that “morality” ought to guide the actions of activists and politicians in the labour movement. Seeing this as the subversion of the revolutionary logic of Marxism, Trotsky responded. (1)
Trotsky’s article is a defence of Marxist methods demonstrating his analysis of the historical role and evolution of “morality” from the realm of religion to the realm of philosophical idealism, to its relevance in modern Capitalist society. He at once defends himself and the Bolsheviks from charges of “amorality” by demonstrating how Marxism handles the concept, as opposed to the bourgeois philosophers. And also how a Marxist considers what constitutes “right” and “wrong” in making “moral” decisions.
Posted in Writing
Tagged Activism, Bolshevism, Bougeoisie, Class Struggle, history, Labour Movement, Leon Trotsky Their Morals and Ours, Marxism, morality, Philosophy, Politics, Reformism, Ruling Class, Russian Revolution, Stalinism, Trotsky
Earlier in the year I set a goal of completing five paintings by the end of summer. The project is done. The work varies from studies of historic photos in three cases, to a couple of images I composed from my own photos.
Flipping through the Illustrated War News from April 18, 1885, I came across this interesting image.
Posted in Writing
Tagged Canadian History, Canadian Military, Canadian Workers, Class Struggle, Imperialism, Labour relations, Military History, Northwest Resistance, Queens Own Rifles, Teamsters, Western Canadian History
It’s been awhile since I’ve posted. I’ve been plugging away on some paintings, getting a series of 5 finished and framed, but it’ll be a bit before I’m ready to post those. I’ve also got a post I’ve been tinkering with on the Gatling Gun used by the Canadian military during its campaign against the Metis and their allies in 1885. That will be posted “From the Clipping File” when I get around to it.
In the meantime, I thought I’d share a list of music video’s set in a library. The idea came about when watching Toto’s video (see below), but others have thought of doing it before me so all credit goes to them.
This book is a quick read, and keeping track of the action might take a bit of effort if your not familiar with the events it relates to. There are also problems of representation which undermine the book as a piece of scholarly history. But with some of these problems in mind, Gabriel Dumont Speaks is still a valuable volume for anyone interested in this under appreciated figure from Canadian history. Continue reading
Posted in Writing
Tagged Alberta, Book Review, Canada, Canadian History, Canadian Military, Colonization, Gabriel Dumont, Gabriel Dumont Speaks, Imperialism, Metis, Metissage, Michael Barnholden, Military History, Western Canada
This painting marks a deviation from the historical and city scape subjects I have been dealing with recently. It was given by me to my partner for her birthday just past. Continue reading