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Terrorism: Then and Now

This is a cross post from The Strong Horse

Reading some primary sources from the Russian Civil War today led me to this little gem of a quote. It is a telegram appeal from Litvinov, representative of the Bolshevik government, to President Wilson discussing the Allied intervention in the Russian civil war, dated December 24, 1918:

I wish to emphasize that the so-called ‘Red Terror’ – which is grossly exaggerated and misrepresented abroad – was not the cause but the direct result and outcome of Allied intervention.

Hmmm, now where have we heard excuses for terrorism of this nature before? It seems the hard-left’s apologies for totalitarian terrorism haven’t changed much in the past 100 years or so. Reading the hard-left press in Britain at the time reveals that many of the trade unionists and Communist activists bought into this argument as well. There was even an early 20th Century equivalent of Stop the War Coalition, who made it their goal in life to explain away, lie about and apologize for every imaginable Bolshevik atrocity and try and sabotage any possible opposition to them by the British state.

It is a world view in which the only conscious actor is “imperialism”. Since “imperialism” is the dominant power in the world, then anything negative that happens around the world must be caused by it, and any forms of terror are only caused by and reactions to imperialist interventions. If only the imperialist powers would leave everyone else alone, then all would be right in the world. In this view there are no other, independent forms of coercion, authoritarianism or totalitarianism. Everything bad which the Bolsheviks (or modern day terrorists) did is explicable as a reaction to intervention.

The fact that the Bolsheviks had closed down newspapers, imprisoned thousands (many of them socialists), closed down the Constituent Assembly because they fared badly in the elections to it, launched a civil war against not just the reactionaries and the bourgeoisie, but the democratic left as well, long before Allied intervention was really a problem for the Bolshevik government, just doesn’t enter into this line of thinking.

There are no totalitarianism (Bolshevik or jihadist). Just imperialism and those who fight it. If they happen to brutally slaughter a few million people along the way, then so be it. They can always just blame it on the imperialists anyway.