Bukharin

John Lacny deathtocapitalism at SPAMyahoo.com
Mon Jan 31 11:48:40 MST 2000



--- Louis Proyect <lnp3 at panix.com> wrote:
> J. Arch Getty, upon whose "research" Zizek's article
> rests, is professor of history at the University of
> California, Riverside, and director of the Center
for
> the Study of Russia and the Soviet Union. His
> previous claim to fame was "Origins of the Great
> Purges: The Soviet Communist Party Reconsidered,
> 1933-1938," a book that makes the case that Stalin's
> Terror was fairly minor. Getty thinks that thousands
> rather than millions were executed. Getty is the
> favorite of paleo-Stalinists on the Internet such as
> Adolfo Olaechea, the maniacal London spokesmen for
> the defunct Shining Path.

        Come on, Lou!  This is the kind of superficial gloss
on things you profess to detest in other people.  Have
you read the Getty-Naumov book?  Far from arguing that
the Terror was "minor," The Road to Terror puts forth
a wealth of hitherto-unknown documents, and comes to
the conclusion that the "thosands" killed during the
Terror meant hundreds of thousands.  That's not
exactly minor.  Then again, it gives the lie to the
kind of exaggerated figures put forth by the likes of
Robert Conquest ("tens of millions") in the past.
Only in the depraved universe where the Stalin has to
be compared to Hitler do the purge figures look small.

     Now Bukharin.  I admit to a personal liking for
the guy.  I'm willing to bet that his recantations and
confessions were torture-induced rather than sincere.
But then again, how do you explain his final letter to
Stalin?  The letter is so interesting that I'm going
to type out the whole thing for everyone's benefit
right now.  Keep in mind that this was sent to Stalin
with instructions that it be read only with Stalin's
express permission, and that Bukharin addresses Stalin
throughout with the familiar "ty."

        John Lacny

***************
10 December 1937

VERY SECRET (ves'ma sekretno)
PERSONAL
Request no one be allowed to *read* this letter
without the express permission of I. V. Stalin.
To: I. V. Stalin

Iosif Vissarionovich:
        This is perhaps the last letter I shall write to you
before my death.  That's why, though I am a prisoner,
I ask you to permit me to write this letter without
resorting to officialese [ofitsial'shchina], all the
more so since I am writing this letter to you alone:
the very fact of its existence or nonexistence will
remain entirely in your hands.
        I've come to the last page of my drama and perhaps of
my very life.  I agonized over whether I should pick
up pen and paper-- as I write this, I am shuddering
all over from disquiet and from a thousand emotions
stirring within me, and I can hardly control myself.
But precisely because I ahve so little time left, I
want to *take my leave* of you in advance, before it's
too late, before my hand ceases to write, before my
eyes close, while my brain somehow still functions.
        In order to avoid any misunderstandings, I will say
to you from the outset that, as far as the *world at
large* (society) is concerned: a) I have no intention
of recanting anything I've written down [confessed];
b) In *this* sense (or in connection with this), I
have no intention of asking you or of pleading with
you for anything that might derail my case from the
direction in which it is heading.  But I am writing to
you for your *personal* information.  I cannot leave
this life without writing to you these last lines
because I am in the grip of torments which you should
know about.
        1) Standing on the edge of a precipice, from which
there is no return, I tell you on my word of honor, as
I await my death, that I am innocent of those crimes
which I admitted to at the investigation.
        2) Reviewing everything in my mind-- insofar as I
can-- I can only add the following observations to
what I ahve already said at the plenum:
        a) I once heard someone say that someone had yelled
out something.  It seems to me that it was Kuzmin, but
I had never ascribed any real significance to it-- it
had never even entered my mind;
        b) Aikhenvald told me in passing, *post factum* as we
walked on the street, about the conference which I
*knew nothing* about (nor did I know anything about
the Riutin Platform) ("the gang has met, and a report
was read")-- or something of the sort.  And, yes, I
concealed this fact, feeling pity for the "gang."
        c) I was also guilty of engaging in duplicity in 1932
in my relations with my "followers," believing
sincerely that I would thereby *win them back wholly
to the party.*  Otherwise, I'd have alienated them
from the party.  That was all there was to it.  In
saying this, I am clearing my conscience *totally.
All the rest either never took place or, if it did,
then I had no inkling of it whatsoever.*
        So at the plenum I spoke the truth and *nothing but
the truth*, but no one believed me.  And here and now
I speak the absolute truth: all these past years, I
have been honestly and sincerely carrying out the
party line and have learned to cherish and love you
wisely.
        3) I had no "way out" oth4er than that of confirming
the accusations and testimonies of others and of
elaborating on them.  Otherwise, it would ahve turned
out that I had not "disarmed."
        4) Apart from extraneous factors and apart from
argument #3 above, I ahve formed, more or less, the
following conception of what is going on in our
country:
        Theere is something *great and bold about the
political idea* of a general purge.  It is a)
connected with the prewar situation and b) connected
with the transition to democracy.  This purge
encompasses 1) the guilty; 2) persons under suspicion;
and 3) persons potentially under suspicion.  This
business could not have been managed without me.  Some
are neutralized one way, others in another way, and a
third group in yet another way.  What serves as a
guarantee for all this is the fact that people
inescapably talk about each other and in doing so
arouse an *everlasting* distrust in each other. (I'm
judging from my own experience.  How I raged against
Radek, who had smeared me, and then I myself followed
in his wake....) In this way, the leadership is
bringing about a *full guarantee* for itself.
        For God's sake, don't think that I am engaging here
in reproaches, even in my inner thoughts.  I wasn't
born yesterday.  I know all too well that *great*
plans, *great* ideas, and *great* interests take
precendence over everything, and I know that it would
be petty for me to place the question of my own person
*on a par* with the *universal-historical* tasks
resting, first and foremost, on your shoulders.  But
it is here that I feel my *deepest* agony and find
myself facing my chief, agonizing paradox.
        5) *If* I were absolutely sure that your thoughts ran
precisely along this path, then I would feel so much
more at peace with myself.  Well, so what!  If it must
be so, then so be it!  But believe me, my heart boils
over when I think that you might *believe* that I am
guilty of these crimes and that in your heart of
hearts you *yourself* think that I am really guilty of
all these horrors.  *In that case,* what would it
mean?  Would it turn out that I have been helping to
deprive [the party] of many people (beginning with
myself!)-- that is, that I am wittingly committing an
*evil*?!  In that case, such action could never be
justified.  My head is giddy with confusion, and I
feel like yelling at the top of my voice.  I feel like
pounding my head against the wall: for, *in that
case*, I ahve become a cause for the death of others.
What am I to do?  What am I to do?
        6) I bear not one iota of malice toward anyone, nor
am I bitter.  I am not a Christian.  But I do have my
quirks.  I believe that I am suffering retribution for
those years when I really waged a campaign.  And if
you really want to know, more than anything else I am
oppressed by one fact, which you have perhaps
forgetten: Once, most likely during the summer of
1928, I was at your place, and you said to me: "Do you
know why I consider you my friend?  After all, you are
not capable of intrigues, are you?"  And I said: "No,
I am not."  At that time, I was hanging around with
Kamenev ("first encounter").  Believe it or not, but
it is *this* fact that stands out in my mind as
original sin does for a Jew [sic].  Oh, God, what a
child I was!  What a fool!  And now I'm paying for
this with my honor and with my life.  For *this*
forgive me, Koba.  I weep as I write.  I no longer
need anything, and you yourself know that I am
probably making my situation worse by allowing myself
to write all this.  But I just can't I simply can't
keep silent.  I must give you my final "farewell."
["Prosti" can mean both "farewell" and "forgive me"--
Trans.] It is for this reason that I bear no malice
toward anyone, not toward the leadership nor the
investigators nor anyone in between.  I ask you for
forgiveness, though I have already been punished to
such an extent that everything has grown dim around
me, and darkness has descended upon me.
        7) When I was hallucinating, I saw you several times
and once I saw Nadezhda Sergeevna. [Stalin's late
wife-- ed.] She approached me and said: "What have
they done with you, Nikolai Ivanovich? I'll tell Iosif
to bail you out." This was so real that I was about to
jump and write a letter to you and ask you to ... bail
me out!  Reality had become totally mixed up in my
mind with delusion. I know that Nadezhda Sergeevna
would never believe that I had harbored any evil
thoughts against you, and not for nothing did the
subconscious of my wretched self cause this delusion
in me. We talked for hours, you and I.... Oh, Lord, if
only there were some device which would have made it
possible for you to see my soul flayed and ripped
open! If only you could see how I am attached to you,
body and soul, quite unlike certain people like
Stetsky or Tal. Well, so much for "psychology"--
forgive me. No angel will appear now to snatch
Abraham's sword from his hand. My fatal destiny shall
be fulfilled.
        8) Permit me, finally, to move my last, minor
requests.
        a) It would be a thousand times easier for me *to
die* than to go through the coming trial: I simply
don't know how I'll be able to control myself-- you
know my nature: I am not an enemy either of the party
or of the USSR, and I'll do all within my powers, but,
under such circumstances, my powers are minimal, and
heavy emotions rise up in my soul. I'd get on my knees
forgetting shame and pride, and plead with you not to
make me go through with it [the trial]. But this is
probably already impossible. I'd ask you, if it were
possible, to let me die before the trial. Of course, I
know how harshly you look upon such matters.
        b) If I'm to receive the death sentence, then i
implore you beforehand, I entreat you, by all that you
hold dear, notto have me shot. Let me drink poison in
my cell instead. (Let me have morphine so that I can
fall asleep and never wake up.) For me, this point is
extremely important. I don't know what words I should
summon up in order to entreat you to grant me this as
an act of charity. Afterall, politically, it won't
really matter, and, besides, no one will know a thing
about it. But let me spend my last moments as I wish.
Have pity on me! Surely you'll understand-- knowing me
as well as you do. Sometimes I look death openly in
the face, just as I know very well that I am capable
of brave deeds. At other times, I, ever the same
person, find myself in such disarray that I am drained
of all strength. So if the verdict is death, let me
have a cup of morphine. I *implore* you....
        c) I ask you to allow me to bid farewell to my wife
and son. No need for me to say good-bye to my
daughter. I feel sorry for her. It will be too painful
for her. It will also be too painful to Nadya
[Bukharin's first wife--ed.] and my father. Anyuta
[Bukharin's current wife--ed.], on the other hand, is
young. She will survive. I would like to exchange a
few last words with her. I  would like permission to
meet her *before* the trial. My argument is as
follows: If my family sees what I *confessed* to, they
might commit suicide from sheer unexpectedness. I must
somehow prepare them for it. It seems to me that
thisis in the interests of the case and its official
interpretation.
        d) If, contrary to expectation, my life is to be
spared, I would like to request (though I would first
have to discuss it with my wife) the following:
        *) That I be exiled to America for x number of years.
My arguments are: I would wage a campaign [in favor]
of the trials, I would wage a mortal  war against
Trotsky, I would win over large segments of the
wavering intelligentsia, I would in effect become
Anti-Trotsky and would carry out this mission in a big
way and, indeed, with much zeal. You could send an
expert chekist with me and, as added insurance, you
could detain my wife here for six months until I have
proven that I am really punching Trotsky and Company
in the nose, etc.
        **) But if there is the slightest doubt in your mind,
then exile me to a camp in *Pechora* or *Kolyma*, even
for 25 years. I could set up there the following: a
university, a museum of local culture, technical
stations, and so on, institutes, a painting gallery,
an ethnographic museum, a zoological and botanical
museum, a camp newspaper and journal.
        In short, settling there with my family to the end of
my days, I would carry out pioneering, enterprising,
culural work.
        In any case, I declare that I would work like a
dynamo wherever I am sent.
        However, to tell the truth, I do not place much hope
in this since the very fact of a change in the
directive of the February plenum speaks for itself
(and I see all too well that things point to a trial
taking place any day now).
        And so these, it seems, are my last requests (one
more thing: my *philosophical work*, remaining after
me-- I have done a lot of useful work in it).
        Iosif Vissarionovich! In me you have lost one of your
most capable generals, one who is genuinely devoted to
you. But that is all past. I rememebr that Marx wrote
that Alexander the First lost a great helper to no
purpose in Barclay de Tolly after the latter was
charged with treason. It is bitter to reflect on all
this. But I am preparing myself mentally to depart
from this vale of tears, and there is nothing in me
toward all of you, toward the party and the cause, but
a great and boundless love. I am doing everything that
is humanly possible and impossible. I have written to
you about all this. I have crossed all the t's and
dotted all the i's.  I have done all this *in
advance*, since I have no idea at all what condition I
shall be in tomorrow and the day after tomorrow, etc.
Being a neurasthenic, I shall perhaps fell such
universal apathy that I won't be able even so much as
to move a finger.
        But now, in spite of a headache and with tears in my
eyes, I am writing. My conscience is clear before you
now, Koba. I ask you one final time for your
forgiveness (only in your heart, not otherwise). For
that reason I embrace you in my mind. Farewell forever
and remember kindly your wretched
        N. Bukharin
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