[Marxism] Fwd: The Outsider-Insider: Isaac Babel’s Big Mistake

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Oct 28 07:55:49 MDT 2016

It was fifty-four years or so when a classmate at Bard College insisted 
that I read a short story by Isaac Babel titled “The Reserve Cavalry 
Commander” that he described to me as a Cossack soldier miraculously 
bringing a moribund horse to its feet. The Red Cavalry (the title of 
Babel’s collection of short stories written when the Jew and former 
Menshevik was imbedded with pro-revolution Cossacks) had been 
confiscating peasant horses during the Civil War and trading in nags 
ridden to exhaustion on the battlefield for fresh ones.

For the backward peasants, this was the sort of intrusion that would 
become the straw that broke the camel’s back. In about a decade, being 
forced into collective farms like recalcitrant horses drove them into 
open revolt. For the time being, however, they were inclined to tolerate 
the Communists who at least had come to power on the promise of peace, 
bread and land. It was the assault on the gentry’s land that for the 
time being assuaged the peasants.


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