Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Getting nervous

“Revolutionary History” is a scholarly-looking journal devoted to the history of the Trotskyist movement. Its editorial board is Trotskyist but surprisingly ecumenical in character. The journal is mostly associated with the late Al Richardson.

The theme of this issue (Vol 6, No 1) is Trotskyism in Poland, most of the articles being written by Ludwik Hass, a Polish dissident and historian. I didn't find them particularly interesting, but I suppose they could be useful for serious students of the subject. This issue of RH further contains three obituaries for Ernest Mandel, the longtime leader of the “official” Fourth International. A final section contains book reviews, including a sarcastic attack on ex-Trotskyist Tim Wohlforth's autobiography “The Prophet's Children”. The attack review is written by one Jim Higgins, who used to lead a leftist group in Britain named Workers League. Purely by chance, Wohlforth's old group in the United States was also called the Workers League, but the two leagues were never in league with each other, as far as anyone can tell!

While RH's contributors are often less dogmatic than the Trotskyist average, there does seem to be one line they don't want to cross: criticism of Lenin. The reviews dealing with the Bolshevik leader take a defensive posture, in both senses of the term “defensive”. (Both “I defend something” and “I'm getting slightly nervous here”.) Clearly, there are *some* articles we will never see in RH. Helphand Parvus and Olof Aschberg, anyone? :P

“Revolutionary History” is too narrow for a general audience, but I will nevertheless give this issue three stars for the effort.

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