On November 7, 1878, one of the most principled revolutionary of all times was born. Lev Davidovich Bronstein, known as Leon Trotsky, admired by some and hated by others ... forgotten by the majority, except by the stubborn events. At 125 years since his birth, the incapacity of capitalism to offer humanity an alternative for survival and the disastrous backlash of European socialism, we stand in front of a small house in Coyoacán, Mexico. The flag with the hammer and sickle, last symbol of the socialist revolution, continues to wave in silent tribute to the death of its last inhabitant.
See the original in Spanish:
La bandera de Coyoacán
But History always surprises us with its strange coincidences: On November 7, 1878, one of the most principled revolutionary of all times was born. Lev Davidovich Bronstein, known as Leon Trotsky, admired by some and hated by others ... forgotten by the majority, except by the stubborn events. At 125 years since his birth, the incapacity of capitalism to offer humanity an alternative for survival and the disastrous backlash of European socialism, we stand in front of a small house in Coyoacán, Mexico. The flag with the hammer and sickle, last symbol of the socialist revolution, continues to wave in silent tribute to the death of its last inhabitant.
Trotsky and Natalie do not rest in Russia … In Russia is the Romanov family. The Czar buried with military honors and great pomp presided by those who were once communist leaders. The truth of socialism in Europe does not rest in the old continent. But in the mystical Mexico, the Latin American continent has awakened to the fact that social struggle is the only road towards equality.
Not finding asylum in Europe the old revolutionary was received by the brush of Diego and the sensuality of Frida and the revolutionary, Lázaro Cardenas. The destination of the Marxist principles was joined there with the most symbolic avant–garde art in this part of the world. This region that does not wait for norms, nor for methods to conquer its freedom and justice. There are the last events that speak for themselves. In each is the seal of the old German, Karl Marx. Since Marxism does have scientific bases and the truth does not wait for eyes to see it nor skill to foresee it.
After the last decade of last century when the world collapsed in the imagined end of history in the hands of neo–liberalism, the Russians hand in hand with the grandchildren of the “Stalinist terminators”, began hysterically to tear down statues and carried off the body of Lenin that burned their hands like a hot potato, not knowing where to bury him. They tried to turn back the clock reviving Princess Anastasia, etc. And they fell to the most depressing and abject system ever known. The Mafia ruled by the old Central Committee leaders held a dark power, the same kind of the bureaucratic and sinister power that did away with the left wing bases of the authentic Bolshevik party, the same power that killed the international communist movement and made it an ideological colony of Stalin, the same power that transformed the wonderful ideas of Lenin into pathetic norms, that struck out revolution from communist philosophy, canonized socialism in only one country. What the USSR did after the inopportune death of Lenin was not socialism in only one country. It was not socialism; it never was … now we see that it was not also a country. The USSR shattered into bits. Oh, those who think that history can be measured in days! … Its beat is another and the end of this model is now evident.
It is criminal then that today’s left-wing movements, at times, stop talking of Marxism and Leninism, because of the resounding end of the USSR. This collapse has been the best argument to have faith in those revolutionaries who thought that internationalism was the building block of the triumph of those ideas. This end demonstrates how right Lenin and his followers were. The dark power of Stalin put an end to it all. Not even the defeat of fascism can redeem him from trying to strip intelligence, dedication and audacity of socialist ideals.
Trotsky was the last of Lenin's contemporaries, of the leader of the working class. This dark power managed to lie, barefacedly, about the head of the Red Army accusing him of being crazy and a terrorist and even an accomplice of Hitler. Not content with his work, Stalin used his power to have Mercader assassinate Trotsky on August 20… What he fortunately was unable to do was to remove the flag from Coyoacán. When monuments and ideas of the USSR crumbled and the world with Fukuyama shouted incoherently, when all the revolutionaries of the world closed their eyes in horror and the reactionaries rubbed their hands with glee, in Coyoacán the flag of the hammer and sickle continued to flutter in the wind of ancestral Mexico, like a mysterious symbol.
Many comrades tell me that, although it’s true, too much time has passed and ideas have taken another route, that another phase of imperialism was born in New York on September 11 with the destruction of the Twin Towers. The militarism that Petras has described so well like a new phase of imperialism needed new forms of struggle, that there is now Internet, and that the world is unipolar … What point is there to bring Leon Trotsky back to life? Simple. In history, to forget is a sin. José Martí, the visionary of America, said that “he who sets aside, by will or forgetfulness, a part of the truth, in the long run will fall due to the truth he left out, growing in negligence and crushes what which rises without it”.
To turn back now that it is evident that history begins is necessary. It is going forward and not turning back. Che said, more or less, that if a pilot loses his way he must not turn back to the point where he got lost. He must return to port and then retry it again. For all those of us who think that socialism as set down by Karl Marx, enriched by many later, is the true road to peace, justice and solidarity, we will come back to that forgotten point. To avoid mentioning Marxism and its spin offs for fear or for being popular can lead us back to the dangerous crossroads. At the age of 70 Galileo Galillei recanted his heliocentric theory for fear of the Inquisition. Nonetheless the Earth continues to revolve around the Sun.
When we search for that road towards an equilibrium between man, nature, power and freedom, unknowingly we will be going along the routes of Marxism and we will stop, still without realizing the crisis of the twenties and thirties in the USSR, we will understand that these roads, even as mere references, have a stop off in Coyoacán.
Engels once said that bourgeois society confronts the quandary of going along socialism or turning back to a state of barbarism. In other words, socialism or the collapse of civilization. I hesitate to think of the distance that separates us from both extremes. But the sooner we are aware of this truth, not half heartedly nor with reformist rhetoric, the more we will lose sight of the true end of human history … when we disappear as a species. Then we will be in a universe without memories. I am fully aware that there are prime directions to fight for: peace; the preservation of the planet; our function as an intelligent species gifted with a conscience. Yet we must understand that the only road to peace and social justice is socialism. Peaceful coexistence and all its fallacies have tragically lost their opportunity to triumph. With the exploiting classes there will never be social justice; without social justice there will never be peace.
The communists of today must not fear being singled out from the destroyed socialist bloc. That was not socialism, that revolution was betrayed.
We must recover memory and rise from that state of collective amnesia in which we want to sheath the new movements. The Marxists have much to offer the people in the midst of desperation confronting realities that are misunderstood. Enough of falling back on the rhetoric of the enemy: “terrorism, national security”. Let us lift up our old weapons. Never before has the world been more convinced that its salvation is through unity or it will disappear. We have lost too much space. Let us take up the slogan of Trotsky who, on the eve of his contemptible assassination, declared sententiously: “whatever the circumstances of my death I will die with an unyielding faith in the communist future”.
Let’s join the people under the banner of the International. Never before has the world needed, as now, to remember November seven. Never before must we understand that the banner of Bolshevism never died, that was exiled in Europe and reached America to cure its wounds in silence, but irredentist Mexico. This Mexico that quietly marched that October 2nd carrying the red flag of Coyoacán that it has taken up. And let us shout to our enemies, regardless of whether they call us terrorists, that we will not fight for the imperialist war, or for the miserable peace of injustices; we will fight together for the socialist revolution in permanent combat.
Workers of the World, Unite
Translated by Ana Portela from the original which is
posted to the website of the Haydée Santamaria
Association for Peace and Solidarity, in Spain.
Prepared and web-posted by
Walter Lippmann, August 2004