The marxist civil war

Chris Burford cburford at
Sat Aug 12 07:59:25 MDT 1995

I like to live a little dangerously on this list, and get into
difficult discussions. The adrenalin buzz comes from wondering
whether I will get flamed or just a bit singed. So after a lot of thought
I chuckled as I posted a significant quote from Stalin about Yugoslavia,
which clearly had some positive aspects to it. I went to my mail box twelve
hours later prepared for some flame throwers.

There was only one message, from Lou, who I am sure is no lover of Stalin.
His passages from Tito and from Misha Glenny gave valuable new
angles on the national question in Yugoslavia. But it seemed to me
his post was saying something more. He responded to my
passage (again quoted below) where by implication I was saying
we have to get beyond fight for and against Stalin as a supposedly
isolated individual embodiment of evil, and try to put things in
historical context.

The war between Stalinists and Trotskyists has been our marxist
civil war, emotionally every bit as vicious at times as the
real civil war at present going on in Yugoslavia.

If we can handle this conflict without concealing or forgetting anything,
but putting things in context, there could be some healing, and some
possibility of moving on. In this year which is the fiftieth anniversary
of the end of World War II the bourgeoisie in stumblingly trying to
organise memorial meetings and reconciliation.

It occurs to me that perhaps Lou and I are of an age where we are saying
that the great marxist civil war also needs to be put to rest.

Chris B, London.


On Fri, 11 Aug 1995, Chris Burford wrote:

> Although Stalin was arrogant and ruthless, these comments I think are
> more than the product of one mind, and to some extent reflect discussions
> and experiences of a wide nature. That is why they are arguably relevant
> as a pointer to what has been assumed to be a marxist policy on
> the national question in Yugoslavia. What would be still closer, would
> be some passages from Tito.

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