the last internationalistby karl radek; warren lerner

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  • Canadian Slavonic Papers

    The Last Internationalist by Karl Radek; Warren LernerReview by: D. LaBelleCanadian Slavonic Papers / Revue Canadienne des Slavistes, Vol. 13, No. 1 (Spring, 1971), pp.109-111Published by: Canadian Association of SlavistsStable URL: .Accessed: 14/06/2014 03:49

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    Finally, though Anweiler's study of the Soviets is listed, Anweiler's "Der Aufstand von Kronstadt," Osteuropa, V, 3 (1955), pp. 176-177 is not, and likewise Georg Scheuer's Von Lenin is cited, but not that author's "Kronstadt, Mrz 1921," Zukunft, 3 (1957), pp. 84-86.

    None of the above comments, however, should be taken as detracting from the overall worth of Professor Avrich's work. Kronstadt 1921 is an outstanding piece of scholarship.

    [Virgil Dewain Medlin, Oklahoma City University]

    Karl Radek: The Last Internationalist. Warren Lerner, Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1970. Pp. 177. $7.95

    To foreign observers of Soviet political life, Karl Radek (1885-1939) appeared to be one of the most talented spokesmen for Soviet foreign policy: in the early 1920's as Secretary of the Executive Committee of the Communist International, and again in the early 1930' s as an editor of Izvestiia and diplomatic trouble-shooter. Born in Lvov to secularized, lower middle-class Jewish parents, he passed through an early infatuation with Polish nationalism to achieve limited prominence in a short but contentious career between 1903 and 1912 as a publicist for the anti-nationalist Social Democracy of the Kingdom of Poland and Lithuania (SDKPiL), inspired by the example of Feliks Dzierzinski, Rosa Luxemburg, and others. Expelled from both the SDKPiL and the German Social Democratic Party (SPD) in 1912 for excessive fractiousness, Radek muted his earlier opposition to national self-determination and, in response to the failure of Western Social Democratic parties to oppose the war effectively, re-emerged from temporary obscurity at the Zimmerwald conference in 1915 where he shared some, but by no means all, of the positions of Lenin. After the fall of the Romanov monarchy in March 1917, Radek accompanied Lenin across Germany and in Stockholm collaborated with V.V. Vorovskii and O. Hanecki as representatives of the Bol'shevik Central Committee in Europe. After executing a commission to sever all ties between the Bol'sheviks and A.L. Helphand (Parvus), who at that time enjoyed connections with the German Foreign Ministry, Radek moved to

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    Petrograd where, as Deputy People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs, he achieved a certain eminence in representing the Party's views to foreign public opinion. In March 1918, together with N. Bukharin and other Left Communists, he opposed the Treaty of Brest-Li tovsk, but subsequently abandoned his opposition. In December of the same year he participated in a delegation to the German Congress of Soviets in Berlin, where he unsuccessfully (although somewhat ambigously) attempted to dissuade the Sparticists from embarking upon a premature revolution. Arrested in February 1919, he was detained a year in prison despite his hasty appointment as Ukrainian ambassador to Berlin. Upon release, he was appointed Secretary to the Executive Committee of the newly created Communist International - a post which, paradoxically, he exercised in unsuccessful attempts to restrain the Russian thrust to create a Soviet state in Poland through military conquest (1920), and German Communist attempts to seize power through a Putsch (1923). In both instances, Party authorities pressed ahead; in both instances a fiasco resulted; in neither case was Radek's popularity enhanced.. While his articles of 1922 might have contributed to the then-embryonic tactic of a "united front", his eloquent appeals to forge an alliance with patriotic Nazis against the Versailles war compensation clauses were felt by both parties, on balance, to propose more unity than was good for either. In 1924 Radek was relieved of his responsibilities at the International and at the Central Committee of the VKP (to which he had been appointed by Lenin in 1919). Three years later he emerged briefly as a polemicist for the United Opposition of Trotsky, Kamenev, and Zinoviev, attacking the theory of "socialism in one country" and criticizing the Politburo's commitment to an alliance with Chiang Kai-shek. In 1928 he was exiled to Western Siberia, but soon broke with the Opposition and returned to European Russia. There, from 1933 to 1935, he enjoyed a final canter around the political arena on Izvestiia, as a leading spokesman for the Party at the founding congress of the Writers' Union, and as a participant (with Bukharin) on the drafting committee for the second Soviet Constitution. He was arrested in October 1936, for alleged participation in a Trotskist conspiracy, was tried in January 1937, receiving a ten-year prison term, and apparently died (in circumstances not wholly clarified) in 1939.

    Thirty years later, the turns of Radek's political Lebensweg

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  • BOOK REVIEWS 1 1 1

    have been recalled in an unpretentious biography by Warren Lerner, presently Chairman of the Soviet and East European Studies Programme at Duke University in North Carolina. Professor Lerner presents Radek as an internationalist par la force des choses: a Pole without a country, who never led a party organization, whose inescapable "national" identification was as a Jew. From this standpoint, a provocative parallel might have been constructed with A.L. Helphand (Parvus), equally Vaterlandlos, whose attempts to purchase a fatherland in imperial Germany ultimately proved almost equally fruitless. Professor Lerner, however, has chosen to refrain from essaying major interpretive themes. Possibly in this sense his book bears the marks of its origin as a doctoral dissertation prepared for Professor G.T. Robinson of Columbia. The dexterity with which the author avoids unresolved points of historical controversy evokes no less admiration than the astringent mastery with which he documents the uncontested. Granted the absolute absence of Radek's private papers, this approach represents perhaps the better part of valour. One might regret that Professor Lerner has not ventured upon a broader study, but this modest work is certainly serviceable as an interim report on that vulgar, eloquent, ugly, brilliant, volatile, witty and dispensible Quasimodo (p. 132), who may well have served unconsciously as a model for the Stereotypie "rootless cosmopolitan."

    The index is adequate, if not without an occasional blemish. One wishes that other biographers would follow Professor Lerner's example in indicating at least one library in which their subject's rarer publications may be located.

    [D. LaBelle, Carleton University]

    Social Change in Soviet Russia. Alex Inkeles, Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1968. Pp. 475.

    This collection of twenty-one articles and research reports, written between 1949 and 1967 (most of them in the late fifties), is remarkable for its continued helpfulness in understanding the Soviet Union, particularly its internal operation. Some of the material is updated, but there have been no substantial revisions. The papers included are grouped under seven topics, beginning

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    Article Contentsp. 109p. 110p. 111

    Issue Table of ContentsCanadian Slavonic Papers / Revue Canadienne des Slavistes, Vol. 13, No. 1 (Spring, 1971), pp. 1-121Front MatterEDITOR'S NOTE/NOTE DU RDACTEURPilate's Sin: Cryptography in Bulgakov's Novel, The Master and Margarita [pp. 1-19]Tolerance and Intolerance in Old Poland [pp. 21-44]Reflections on the 1965-1968 Czechoslovak Economic Reform [pp. 45-64]LinguisticsRecent English Loanwords in the Polish Language [pp. 65-71]Ukrainian Dva(dvi) Try, otyry + Noun: a Reinterpretation [pp. 73-79]On the Intonation of Certain One-membered Sentences in Russian [pp. 81-86]

    Notes and CommentsStudying Soviet Sociology [pp. 87-89]

    Review ArticleThe Last of the Westernizers [pp. 91-95]

    BOOK REVIEWSReview: untitled [pp. 97-101]Review: untitled [pp. 101-103]Review: untitled [pp. 103-105]Re