1937: Stalin's Year of Terror

Stephen Jolly reviews Vadim Z. Rogovin's book on the darkest year of Stalinism

1937: Stalin's Year of Terror
By Vadim Z. Rogovin, Mehring Books, 550pp, $59.95
Yielding a Marxist analysis, a forensic attitude to the facts, and a thorough reading of all the latest archives uncovered in the ex-Soviet Union, Russian historian Vadim Rogovin has added new insight into this crucial period of working class history. He explains how exactly Stalin waged a civil war (culminating in 1937) against all socialist opposition to the bureaucratic degeneration of Soviet society, especially that led by Leon Trotsky, the co-leader with Lenin of the Revolution in 1917.

He explains why Stalin undertook this repression, outlining in vivid detail the disasters brought on workers and peasants by the policies of the regime and the searching of a scapegoat to divert attention away from Stalin.

He gives previously only guessed at information about the genuine opposition to Stalin from the working class and the sympathy for Trotsky's ideas amongst the masses, which in turned spurred the regime onto ever greater repression.

Combining Marxism with a psychological insight, Rogovin asks and then answers the question as to why hardened revolutionaries could not only be broken by Stalin's gangsters through torture but actually play to his script and tell the court they were in the pay of Hitler. (If the show trials of 1937 actually discovered the truth, it would mean the entire Central Committee of Lenin's Bolsheviks in 1917 were actually capitalist-loving fascists, which begs the question as to why they undertook a successful revolution to overthrow capitalism!).

Today bourgeois historians, anarchists, liberals et al unite on one point: the regime of Stalin was a direct result of the regime of Lenin and Trotsky (1917-24). This lazy, ahistorical, and lying analysis is not only smashed but turned over once, twice and one hundred times to be smashed again by Rogovin using facts, facts and facts from the Stalinists themselves. This alone makes the book required reading for all young socialists.

1937: Stalin's Year of Terror colours in the analysis of Trotsky and the Left Opposition and brings to life in all its gory and tragic detail the fight to stop Stalin's betrayal of the Revolution. Interesting side chapters on the Stalinist role in the Spanish Revolution are an added bonus.

Strongly recommended.

Reviewed by Stephen Jolly

Copied from the site of the Australian SP.