This is a work that, until today, I don't believe could be found with an ordinary google search. I had to use a university database to access a photocopy of this document, and then manually transcribe it to text.
This is an article by Carleton Beals, a semi-famous muckracking journalist who was always a thorn in the side of US imperialism in Latin American. He was also the sole person not either a Trotskyite or sympathetic to Trotsky to attend the Dewey Commission. To this day, some Trotskyites accuse him of being an agent of the USSR without the slightest shred of evidence, just as their master did decades earlier. I'm sure very few have ever read this article, which is probably the most stinging and most elegant literary attack on the Dewey Commission I have read.
It should be noted that the archives discussed in this document were later sold by Trotsky for $15,000 to the Houghton Library. These documents were sold on the condition that they not be opened until around 1984 or 85 (I forget which). When they were, letters were discovered to the opposition that proved Trotsky was indeed collaborating with opposition groups in the USSR. You can read about this in Getty's PhD thesis, or his excellent article "Trotsky in Exile: The Founding of the Fourth International," Soviet Studies, 38 (Jan. 1986).
Now without further ado, I give you the article as I recently transcribed. Any spelling and grammatical errors are probably my own
The Fewer Outsiders the Better by Carleton Beals
NOTE--The American Investigating Committee, composed of liberals and radicals, went to Mexico City to investigate charges of treason, counter-revolution and terrorism preferred against Leon Trotsky by the Soviet Government. The committee announced that its purpose was to arrive at an impartial verdict on Trotsky's guilt or innocence. Carleton Beals was a member of the committee. When he asked Trotsky pointed questions he was told that they were improper. He resigned from the committee. THE EDITOR.
In a LITTLE adobe house on a frowzy half-cob bled street of stagnant water, in the Mexican suburb of Coyacan , sits the former great war minister of the Soviet Union, the man who forged the Red army, who led it to the gates of Warsaw, who scourged the enemies of the nascent workers' republic with pitiless iron hand. Here in a foreign land, in a tiny alien hamlet, founded by the Aztecs long before Mexico City, the hero who, a few years ago, shook the destinies of the world, now, hour after hour, he been presenting the fading record of his achievements to a hastily composed commission of Americans who are supposed to investigate into the charges leveled against him in the famous Moscow terrorist trials.
“My English is the weakest part of my defense,” he tells the commission on its preliminary visit to look over the locale where the proceedings were to be held—Trotsky's own residence, loaned to him by the outstanding pistol-toting Mexican painter, Diego Rivera, ramrod of the local Fourth International groups of which Trotsky is the head.
It is a humble place, with double entrance doors, guarded by the police, who frisk all comers. The rooms encircle a sunny patio, with a purple bourgainvillaea, and cluttered with grinning stone idols.
We are introduced to Trotsky. He is nervous, good-humored, vigorous, apparently supreme above defeat; and yet the crumbling walls of the old house, the gloomy reception room with all the street windows bricked up, emphasize the handicaps and futility of his position. Pathos hovers about his pround head with its wildly ruffled gray hair.
“I want to weep,” remakrs one commissioner as we pass out into the frowzy street, “to think of him being here.” All, including Doctor Dewey, chairman of the investigatory commission, join in the chorus of sorrow over Trotsky's fallen star—except one commissioner, who sees the pathos of human change in less personal terms.
Later, at the trial, Trotsky presents himself with a thrust of tiny gray beard, which covers a most phenomenal protruding chin. A beard is part of the equipment of all good revolutionists—Mr. Hearst's cartoons are not entirely bugaboo—for no disguise is better for a conspirator sought by the police than that of shaving off a beard. Trotsky's head and countenance are more Tatar than Jewish, and before the trial is over he proves the old Slavic proverb: “Scratch a Russian, and ----”
At the trial, Trotsky is ever aware that he is on a stage. His answers are uttered now with quiet simplicity, occasionally with laughing condescension; or suddenly he shouts a frothing defiance at the Stalin regime, giving vent to magnificent bursts of eloquence. He is always ready to sacrifice complete honesty of reply to a quip of bon mot that will set the court laughing. But underneath it all he is an embittered man, holding his choleric disposition in check, not always successfully, only by superhuman restraint. Now and then his peevishness turns to open anger in which he shows his sharklike teeth—chiefly at the writer of this article—and then he is injudicious, his soft blue eyes take on a hard glitter, and one realizes it would not be pleasant to be at this man's mercy, and that, unlike the liberal American investigators, he hasn't a shred of interest himself in the civil liberties that they ostensibly are here to defend.
His mind is a vast repository of memory and passion, its rapierlike sharpness dulled a trifle now by the alternating years of overweening power and the shattering bitterness of defeat and exile; above all, his mental faculties are blurred by a consuming lust of hate for Stalin, a furious uncontrollable venom which has its counterpart in something bordering on a persecution complex—all who disagree with him are bunched in the simple formula of G. P. U. agents, people “corrupted by the gold of Stalin.” This is not the first time that the feuds of mighty men have divided and shaken empires, although, possibly, Trotsky shakes the New York intelligentsia far more than he does the Soviet Union.
A Saturday morning, clear, limpid. The great bowl of the Valley of Mexico shimmers in the early sun. The volcanoes rise, lofty, snow-clad, mysterious. The commission is on its way in a body for the opening hearing.
“We must have no smoking,” remarks Suzanne La Follette primly. “Trotsky doesn't like smoking.”
“That is a marvelous opening statement, Doctor Dewey, of the aims and scope of the inquiry,” another commissioner remarks.
“It's not mine. It's the work of the whole commission,” Dewey mumbles in absent-minded fashion.
The Master Comes to Judgement
“All I did,” remarks Suzanne, “was to use the shears a bit. My inveterate editorial instincts.”
“It will be interesting to hear it,” remarked this commissioner, for I had not been consulted or shown the statement, giving out to the press the previous evening.
“You must throw away your chewing gum,” Suzanne tells me sharply. I was trying to cut down on smoking.
Three times Suzanne ordered me to throw away my gum.
In a session five days later, Mr. Trotsky was queried about an article he had written for a magazine. His attorney, Mr. Goldman, broke in:
“I believe, Mr. Trotsky, that in the magazine article you condemned the pernicious American gum-chewing habit.”
“Yes, yes I vas--”
And so I learned why Suzanne wanted me to throw away my gum. I fingered my tie nervously. I had forgotten to ask Suzanne what color Trotsky preferred.
And a this moment my horrified eyes fell upon Frieda Rivera, wife of the eminent painter. She had pushed into a seat right against the railing that separated the court from the spectators and right in front of Trotsky, and not only was she chewing gum, she was repeatedly drawing it out of her mouth in a long thread.
The first sessions opened. Doctor Dewey's statement. Trotsky's statement. Mr. Goldman, Trotsky's lawyer, began the presentation of the defense case.
Mr. Trotsky has rehearsed his answer. He has to be repeatedly warned not to begin answering before Goldman finished each question. The hearings are decorous, restrained. There is, on the part of the rest of the commission, an air of hushed adoration for the master. Suzanne, her head on her hand, gazes steadfastly, her eyes filled with expectant worship. Benjamin Stolberg—mustache, face, hair all one ash-gray color—nods, chuckles, snorts understandingly at each of Trotsky's sallies. Mr. Otto Ruehle, the former Reichstag member, who knows no English, never lets his eyes stray from the master's face. Doctor Dewey stares abstractedly, quizzically, once or twice asks a very, very respectful question. Everyone is so deucedly rapt.
In the back, beyond the high rail, sit the members of the press and the representatives of a few little rump unions under Diego Rivera's thumb, also a group of American Trotskyites, the only ones really meriting tickets to the crowded little room in Trotsky's house—this “public” hearing. The members of the Mexican press and the labor unions stir uneasily. Most of the latter finally solve the problem by going sound asleep, and during the six and a half days of the trial, a chorus of snores comes from the rear row, where a solitary gendarme looks bored and puzzled. A considerable number of Mexicans know no English. No proper provision has been made for translating the proceedings to them, though this would seem an elementary courtesy to those of this Spanish-speaking land in which the trial is being staged. “We can't afford the time,” this commissioner is told. “Besides, we're only interested in the foreign press. The fewer outsiders the better.”
The Omnipresent Publicity Man
There, at the back, towers Diego Rivera. When he is not also snoring, his quick froglike eyes move restlessly, or he busily sketches cartoons. A big peacock plume adorns his large sombrero. His wife provides the fashion note of the trial. Each day she appears in a new Indian costume with magnificent shawls and heavy silver Tarascan jewelry. She rarely sits; she perches. She perches on the arms of chairs, on tables, on the veranda railing.
Also in the back hovers Charlie Walker. Charlie is the press agent of the commission. He watches over the press table with a protective anxious air of a mother hen. He leans over and read the copy of the correspondents; when they whisper to each other, involuntarily he steps forward to try to overhear. The rest of the time he glowers at Kluckhohn, the New York Times correspondent, who has called the commission's efforts a “whitewash.”
Walker is said to be a long-standing and simon-pure Trotskyite. This commissioner has been able to elicit no information from his fellow members as to why, when or how Walker was appointed, except that “he's a good man,” and he seems to be. He has been in Mexico two months ahead of the commission, mostly in constant conference with Trotsky. That seems a bit odd to this commissioner.
Dewey, Stolberg, Suzanne La Follette, the commission's lawyer, John Finerty, along with the secretarial staff, live and eat at Walker's home; they travel to and from the sessions in Walker's or the commission's hired car. Ruehle, a resident of Mexico, has his own apartment. I and my wife were left to shift for ourselves, and live apart from the commission in a hotel, with little knowledge of the inner activities of the group. I hire my own taxicabs, and it is a long way out to Coyacan, and expensive.
The first sessions drones on. This commissioner, who has been told that questions should be limited at this stage, at last is unable to stand the worshipful atmosphere.
“Can you prove that point?” he unexpectedly barks at Trotsky.
The court jerks into startled surprise. Trotsky cranes his neck to look at the interlocutor, who has been put at the end of the table, out of the range of his view.
Trotsky evidently can't prove it. His archives on this point were stolen by the Norwegian Fascists, but hemade an affidavit, and various journalists have corroborated this.
The journalists turn out to be Trotsky's own partisans. But Trotsky adds that the G. P. U. press—how he loves to snarl these initials!--proves his point. He offers no citations, though usually he is copious with them.
The commissioner subsides. The glowering eyes of the whole courtroom are upon him, including those of the members.
At the afternoon session, Mr. John Finerty, lawyer for the commission, has arrived by plane. He is a tall, thin, red-brown Irishman, dressed in a red-brown suit, with handsome tie and flowing silk kerchief. He wants to know where one gets a Turkish bath and a masseur. Gastronomically troubled by the altitude, he is living on tomato juice. He is even gentler with Trotsky than the commissioners, and hastens at every opportunity to put “alleged” into Trotsky's mouth, so the latter's record will read correctly; a constant usurping of the attributes of Mr. Goldman, the defense attorney. After each utterance, Finerty's large liquid eyes look about with hopeful expectancy to see how his words have been taken.
The Missing Archives
The afternoon session drones on. Trotsky is telling his life history. Mid-afternoon, the defense announces that this preliminary sketch has been completed.
Dewey asks a few questions. . . .
“Have you any questions, Mr. Stolberg?”
Stolberg gravely asks a few erudite, very respectful interrogations on dialectics and the tactical relations between Trotsky and Lenin. Trotsky understood the questions perfectly. Stolberg had hurried out to the master's house an hour ahead of the other commissioners.
“Have you any questions, Miss La Folette?” Dewey asks.
Suzanne's question is so formulated as to give Trotsky a chance to spread his plumes.
“The session is declared in recess.”
After recess, Dewey tells Goldman to proceed with his next topic. But, to everyone's surprise, it seems that Ruehle has some questions; Commissioner Beals also has some.
My questions, I announce, are very elementary. I inquire concerning Trotsky's archives. He hems and haws, declines to state their whereabouts—information eagerly sought by the hateful G. P. U.-- but finally offers to disclose the matter in secret session. (He had offered to put them in the hands of the commission.) At any event, the archives are not in Mexico; most of his documents here are merely uncertified copies.
What assurance, I ask, has the commission that if he is guilty he has not, in the months since the Moscow trials, destroyed all the evidence inimical to himself?
The structure of the archives disproves such a thesis; he claims; they reflect the personality of the man. Besides, he will refute all charges with the documents he has brought with him from Europe for that purpose.
I question him on being a German agent, though several other commissioners are buzzing in Dewey's ear and pulling his sleeve, to get me suppressed. Trotsky has refuted the charge by a quotation from Lenin. But Lenin, was he not of Trotsky's own party? Is that good proof?
Don't embarrass the Defendant
Brest-Litovsk. Trotsky admits that he was then charged with a conspiracy with Prussian militarism, but that he then put the salvation of the Socialist state above territorial integrity of Russia—a tactic precisely to be able to better fight Prussian militarism.
“You are charged in the Moscow trials with conspiring with the German Nazi government and the Japanese government to sacrifice territory of the Soviet Union in order again to return to power. It is not logical to suppose that you would again consider your right to rule and your present brand of Socialism of greater importance than the territorial integrity of the Soviet Union?”
“I would be only a cheap adventurer,” exploded Trotsky, and he launched into a long-winded discussion of how he believed the only method of overthrowing Stalin was through the education of the workers.
Again this commissioner find himself the cynosure of glowering eyes. In the back of the room, my wife hears Diego Rivera telling his labor cronies, who have not understood the sharp interchange: “That is Carleton Beals. He's a G. P. U. agent.”
The session is adjourned. Stolberg retires into a back room, biting his mustache furiously.
“Don't you feel that my questions were necessary?” I ask him gently.
“Yes, yes, of course,” replied Ben. “But Trotsky answered them badly. That about the archives not being here. The Times man will snap that up—only copies--”
“You put fine questions,” the commission choruses to me. “But we have to get together and agree on questions. Mr. Finerty wishes it definitely understood that the commissioners' questions shall rfer to matters of fact only. Your questions about Brest-Litovsk were entirely out of place at this time. Later on, of course----”
The trial had its poignant moments. Trotsky told vividly of the persecution of his fammily—all of them apparently engaged in secret political activities—how his sister committed suicide in Paris because the Soviets withdrew her citizenship. Trotsky's eyes were filled with moisture, and it was one of the few times he did not burst into a diatribe against Stalin and the G. P. U. agents. At my side, Stolberg was furiously scribbling on a pad in a frame of sketched flowers, “I want to bawl—I want to bawl--” During the recess following this scene, the commissioners hotly berated Stalin's persecutions; Dewey was especially wrothful.
Saturday and Sunday the other commissioners consulted the procedure to be followed in the trial. This commissioner was not advised. Miss La Follette, the secretary, says she called him at his hotel Sunday morning, but he was there all day and received no telephone call and found no message.
Monday I surprised the court with an independent statement of my position and what I considered the proper aims of our work—that I had no connections with either Trotsky or the Stalin faction, that our work should not be improperly utilized by either. I pointed out a technical mistake in Dewey's opening statements, indicated my disagreement on various points.
Dewey leaped to his feet to declare that I had arrived in Mexico City after commission's statement had been prepared and that there had been no opportunity to show it to me. The truth was that I had been in Mexico, in touch with the commission, two days before the opening sessions, during which time the Dewey statement had been given to the press.
Mr. Finerty leaped to his feet, as usual, to do Goldman's work for him; to attack me for my correction of the commission's statement on the matter of Trotsky's extradition. I merely replied that I was not interested in being a party to the commission's errors.
At the afternoon session, Dewey read an apology for the rest of the commission. I replied that I was not concerned about the commission having ignored me, but merely hoped that it would still accept my constructive suggestions..
At the recess of the morning's session, I was informed by the rest of the commission that it had decided to abandon the original plan to take up the various aspects of the case topically and cross-examine on each section of the evidence, general cross-examination to come later. There was no time for such a method, I was informed, and so Goldman would present his defense in toto. Thereupon each commissioner was to draw up a line of cross-examination to be submitted to Mr. Finerty. Commissioners were to ask only such questions as fitted the scheme of the cross examination—preferably through Mr. Finerty—which arose in their minds at the moment.
The Examiner's Helping Hand
I had not been consulted regarding the original form of the procedure, nor was I even told of the sequence of topics, which was making it difficult to prepare any sort of intelligent examination of Trotsky on my part. The new plan quite smothered my liberty of action on the commission. But worse than that, it would defeat honest investigation. We could not run the investigation like a railroad train—on schedule. By leaving the entire cross-examination until the end, the original defense of Trotsky would be lost sight of, the points at issue dulled and forgotten, even with the best of note-taking. No transcript of the trial was to be available until long after the sessions ended. This made our work very blind, and it also made it impossible to guarantee a correct record. Nor was I content to let Mr. Finerty handle all the cross-examination. He had already shown himself pathetically gentle with Trotsky, he had hastened to put favorable words into Trotsky's mouth, and seemed to have little grasp of the case.
Despite the limitation put on our questioning, I did, as did also other members of the commission, ask a few questions. There were literally hundreds of queries that, as the case dragged on, I felt should be asked. But to have done so would merely have made me a nuisance in the eyes of the commission, invariably hostile toward my line of questioning, which almost invariably they sought to interrupt. Once, at a sharp interrogatory of Trotsky, Ruehle shuddered at my elbow “Sehr schade! Sehr schade!” How sad! How sad that I should speak in a peremptory tone to the master! Thereafter, every time I asked a question, Ruehle would writher in his seat and emit a series of low groans, like a man in pain.
The Pink-Tea-Party Trial
For five and a half days, Goldman presented Trotsky's defense. Late Friday morning, Finerty began his cross-examination. It consisted that first day, of a confused and elementary cross-examination of Trotsky on the history of the Russian revolution. When he got through, Trotsky positively had wings on his shoulders. A handful of questioned were asked Trotsky on terrorism and the one-party system. Several questions were asked regarding Piatakov's supposed trip to Oslo to see Trotsky. The Romm case was ignored completely. Neither the details presented by Trotsky in his defense nor the numerous crucial points of the transcript of the Moscow trials were adequately examined. For all practical purposes, Finerty merely continued Goldman's defense of Trotsky; he filled in the gaps left by Goldman in Trotsky's defense.
It must have been somewhat disillusioning, even to Trotsky. His table was piled high with books and papers which had not been presented in his defense, but which, apparently, he had expected to find useful in refuting the cross-examination. He had practically no use for any of this material.
The commission itself became alarmed at the banality and pointlessness of Finerty's questioning. At a recess that afternoon, the various members of the commission rushed up to me. “For God's sake, Carleton, ask some questions. This is terrible. The man doesn't have any background. He's getting nowhere.”
“Why should I ask questions?” was my rejoinder. “The ones I have do not fit into the arbitrary scheme the commission has accepted for the cross-examination. I do not wish to give questions to Finery to have him garble them.” Even Trotsky's official translator came to me to get me to ask some questions with some real import, and later, in the courtroom, passed me several good ones. The whole atmosphere of the trial had become that of a chummy clubroom, a pink-tea-party with everyone uttering sweet platitudes.
The day was now wanin and there would be only half a day on the morrow to get at the truth of falsity of Trotsky's five and a half days of defense. But I was not to be a party even to that half day. Under the repeated urging of the commission, which had hitherto been so hostile to my questioning, I decided to jump into the arena once more with a line of questioning to show Trotsky's secret relations with the Fourth International, the underground contacts with various groups in Italy, Germany and the Soviet Union. Trotsky, of course, had steadfastly denied having had any contacts whatsoever, save for half a dozen letters, with persons of groups in Russia since about 1930. This way hard to swallow.
To lay the basis for this questioning, I had to go into Trotsky's previous secret relations with the outside revolutionary groups when he was a part of the Soviet state. I quizzed him on the secret activities of Borodin in Mexico in 1919-20.
The result was a violent explosion. Trotsky called my informants liars, and completely lost his temper. My informant, among others, I advised Trotsky, was Borodin himself.
Doctor Dewey hurriedly lifted the session. A junta of the commission was called to take me to task for my questions. Mr. Finerty declared that no commissioner could ask questions on the basis of unproved facts. Doctor Dewey declared that the commission had insisted Trotsky provide the proof of all his assertions. As a matter of fact, Trotsky for hours had been leaving charges of Moscow gold against everyone who disagree with him; frenziedly he accused all such of being G. P. U. agents. There was a touch of paranoia to it. The commission had never once asked him for the proof of such statements, and I was not going to be the one put in the position of challenging them. And so, now, once more, Mr. Finerty was eagerly doing Mr. Goldman's job for him.
Avoiding the Tight Spots
I mildly suggested to the commission that my word was a good as Trotsky's. I was willing to go on the stand myself if that would simplify matters. I had published the record of Borodin's activities in Mexico years ago; I could produce other witnesses. But it was all too patent that the commission would not tolerate anything that might put Trotsky in a tight spot. I finally told Mr. Finerty that, whatever the nature of my questions, I could not be accused, as he could, of being Mr. Trotsky's lawyer instead of the lawyer of the commission.
“Mr. Beals,” he raged, “henceforth our relations will be purely official, not personal.”
“they shall not even be official,” I answered. “Either you cease to be lawyer of this comm or I leave the commission.”
Suzanne burst into tears. “This is a great historical occasion, Carleton; don't mar it. Tell Mr. Finerty you're sorry.”
With that I left the premises. The commission, alarmed, pattered after me. I was through.
My resignation went in the next morning. Dewey accused me of prejudging the case. This was false. I was merely passing judgment on the commission. He declared that I had not been inhibited in my questioning. He declared that I had the privilege of brining in a minority report. My resignation was my minority report. How could I judge the guilt or innocence of Mr. Trotsky, if the commission's investigations were a fraud?
As was to be expected, Mr. Trotsky accused me, by insinuation, of being a G. P. U. agent. Slightly bad taste, when I had, months before, wired President Cardenas a plea to give him asylum in Mexico. Trotsky should have been, if innocent, the first to desire that any and every question be asked him, regardless of the consequences.
A Trial That Proved Nothing
The net result of the labors of the commission? No adequate cross-examination, no examination of the Trotsky archives. A scant day and a half of questioning of Trotsky; mostly about the history of the Russian revolution, his relations with Lenin—this with an eye to his defense against Stalin charges—a lot of question on dialectics and a few scattered unorganized question on terrorism and the Piatakov incident. The only new documents of any moment were those covering the alleged Romm and Piatakov contacts with Trotsky. Trotsky had already, in the press, on the platform and in pamphlets, pretty well blown up the Soviet case on those two points. Unfortunately, Romm and Piatakov were not available for further cross-examination, so that little has been gained by such refutation. Trotsky's new documents were not overilluminating. One, for instance, was the sworn statement of a hotel-keeper that a party of five persons had stopped at his establishment on the date Trotsky claimed—no names, no registration, no official passport numbers. Trotsky's party was of six persons, not five. Aside from such matters, the evidence submitted by Trotsky consisted of his published articles and books. These could have been bought in New York or consulted at the public library without the commission having been put to the expense of such a fruitless trip.
Its work is not done. But no amount of fumbling over documents in New York can correct the omissions and errors of its Mexican expedition. This commissioner, on accepting membership, was told that the Mexican commission would include Doctor Beard, John Chamberlain and Louis Adamic. None of them were present on the Mexican scene. I was able to get not satisfaction regarding the future personnel of the larger New York commission, nor how it would be appointed—whether by the commission itself or the Committee for the Defense of Leon Trotsky. From the press I learned that seven other commissions were at work in Europe, and that these would send representatives to form part of the larger commission. I was unable to find out how these European commissions had been created, who were members of them. I suspected them of being small cliques of Trotsky's own followers. I was unable to put my seal of approval on the work of our commission in Mexico. I did not wish my name used merely as a sounding board for the doctrines of Trotsky and his followers. Nor did I care to participate in the work of the larger organization, whose methods were not revealed to me, the personnel of which was still a mystery to me.
Doubtless, considerable information will be scraped together. But if the commission in Mexico is an example, the selection of the facts will be biased, and their interpretation will mean nothing if trusted to a purely pro-Trotsky clique.
As for me, a sadder and wiser man, I say, a plague on both their houses.
Last edited by Intelligitimate; 12th December 2009 at 22:30.
Well, our busy little stalinist beaver, Intelligitimate, has been busy. And, apparently, we have sensational information, unearthed like a valuable fossil, from the past. The article, by Carlton Beals, allegedly demolishes the work of the Dewey Commission, which was investigating the charges made against Trotsky at the Moscow trials.
Problem is that the work of Beals was refuted at the time it was published, by the Dewey Commission itself.
(emph. added)THE CASE OF Leon Trotsky
Report to the Commission of Inquiry
into the Charges Made Against Leon Trotsky
in the Moscow Trials
Your sub-commission, which was empowered to go to Mexico and take Leon Trotsky’s testimony on the charges made against him in the Moscow trials, has completed its task and now submits its report.
1. Function – Your sub-commission was in Mexico neither as prosecutor nor as judge. We did not regard Mr. Trotsky as defendant or accused. Nor did he so regard himself. Indeed, so to regard him was impossible, since in the Moscow trials he was never indicted – only convicted. Therefore we were in Mexico solely as an investigating body, to take Mr. Trotsky’s testimony on the accusations made against him in the confessions of the Moscow defendants; to accept such documents as he had to submit in his own defense; and to report to the full Commission on the basis of this evidence our decision whether or not Mr. Trotsky has a case warranting further investigation.
2. Scope – The scope and content of our inquiry was necessarily determined by the proceedings in the Moscow trials. According to the prosecutor, Mr. Vyshinsky, the testimony was of two kinds:
“First there is the historical connection which confirms the theses of the indictment on the basis of the Trotskyites’ past activity. We have also in mind the testimony of the accused which in itself represents enormous importance as proof.” Equally important with the testimony of the defendants are Mr. Vyshinsky’s final pleas, in which he went beyond the accusations to rewrite the history of the Russian Revolution and Mr. Trotsky’s part in it. He also edited to suit his purposes Mr. Trotsky’s writings both before and since the Revolution. Impartiality in this case does not of course require the abandonment by the Commission of its knowledge of the simple facts of history.
Accordingly, our inquiry fell into three categories:
1. The biography of Mr. Trotsky, with special reference to his relations with the defendants in the Moscow trials;
2. Factual material relating to the decisive accusations against him;
3. His theoretical and historical writings as they bear upon the credibility of the accusations, the testimony, the confessions, and the summations in the two Moscow trials.
3. The Hearings – Your sub-commission held thirteen hearings, from April 10 to April 17, 1937 – twelve of three hours each and a final one of five hours. In order not to embarrass the Mexican Government by requesting the added police protection which public hearings in Mexico City would have required, we held the sessions in the large hall of Diego Rivera’s house at Coyoacan, where Mr. Trotsky lives. This arrangement limited the audience to about fifty persons, almost half of whom were correspondents representing the Mexican and the foreign press.
4. The Evidence – In addition to Mr. Trotsky’s oral testimony, the evidence introduced consisted of such material as the following:
1. Documents purporting to refute the testimony given in the Moscow trials concerning his alleged conspiratorial contacts with the defendants. This material includes affidavits of witnesses concerning Mr. Trotsky’s activities, his movements, and his visitors at the periods when he was alleged to have had personal contact with Holtzman, Berman-Yurin, David, Romm, and Pyatakov. It includes letters written to him at Prinkipo by friends in Berlin, advising him against engaging Olberg as a secretary. It includes a photostat of the passport of his son, Leon Sedov, purporting to show that Sedov could not have been in Copenhagen at the time when Holtzman was supposed to have been conducted by him to Mr. Trotsky; and that Sedov (lid go to Paris to meet his parents immediately after their sojourn in Copenhagen. It also includes the telegram sent by Natalia Sedov-Trotsky to the French Foreign Minister, M. Herriot, requesting that her son be granted a visa, and the telegram of the French Foreign Office to its Berlin representative, authorizing it. It includes a statement by the head of the airport at Oslo that no foreign airplane landed there during December, 1935, the month of Pyatakov’s alleged flight.
2. Citations from Mr. Trotsky’s writings bearing upon his attitude, past and present, towards the defendants in the Moscow trials; also on Such subjects as individual terror, fascism, the proletarian revolution, the Soviet Union, the Soviet bureaucracy, and the Communist International. Citations of letters and articles revealing the nature of his relations with Lenin both before and after the October Revolution. Also passages from the works of Lenin, Stalin, Radek and others concerning Leon Trotsky’s rôle in the Revolution, the Civil War, and the various party struggles during the period which followed.
3. Letters and other writings showing the methods and the nature of Mr. Trotsky’s communications with his sympathizers in the Soviet Union since his exile.
Such, in brief, is the nature of the documentary evidence submitted to us. Mr. Trotsky also placed at our disposal his archives in Mexico, and offered to reveal to the Commission, whenever it shall so request, the location of his European archives and to give it access to them. Naturally, during our brief stay in Mexico we had time to examine very little of this material. We have therefore authorized one of our members, Otto Ruehle, who resides in Mexico City, to continue this work and to supply to the Commission certified copies or translations of such documents as exist there and as in his judgment or that of any other commissioner are pertinent to our further inquiry. Your European sub-commissions will have the task of examining Mr. Trotsky’s European archives. Altogether Mr. Trotsky’s archives consist of many thousand documents.
5. Mr. Trotsky as Witness – It is an established rule even in legally constituted courts that the bearing of the witness may be taken into account in weighing the value of his testimony. We are guided by the same principle in reporting our impression of Mr. Trotsky’s attitude and bearing. Throughout the hearings he seemed eager to cooperate with the Commission in its efforts to ascertain the truth about all phases of his life and his political and literary activity. He answered readily and with every appearance of helpfulness and candor all questions put to him by the counsel for the sub-commission and by its members.
6. The Case of Mr. Beals – Your sub-commission reports with regret the resignation, before the hearings were concluded, of one of its members, Mr. Carleton Beals. Toward the close of the hearing on the afternoon of April 16, Mr. Beals put to Mr. Trotsky a provocative question based on alleged information which the sub-commission could not check and place on the record. After the hearing our counsel, Mr. John Finerty, advised the sub-commission that questions based on private information were highly improper, would be sufficient cause for mistrial in any ordinary court, and that he could not continue as counsel if they were to be permitted in future. Mr. Beals then angrily declared that either he or Mr. Finerty must leave the sub-commission. Still, he promised to attend a conference that evening to discuss the matter. But although we waited for him until midnight he did not come. The next morning, before the opening of the session, Mrs. Beals brought us his resignation, in which he charged that the Commission was not conducting a serious inquiry. He also made the astonishing statement that the sessions had been completed, although the cross-examination by the commissioners was only half finished and he had himself stated that he had “hundreds more questions” to ask. In view of the fact that Mr. Beals later gave to the press a series of statements which were widely published and in which he impugned the integrity of the other commissioners and made false accusations against us, we think it necessary to put before you the following facts:
1. From the first Mr. Beals held himself almost completely aloof from the sub-commission. Shortly after the hearings opened he moved from his hotel, and evaded our request for his new address. He was constantly with people who were known to be against the purposes of the Commission, and at no time gave his full attention to its work, as did the rest of us. We made every effort to secure his full cooperation. Obviously, we failed.
2. At no time before his resignation did Mr. Beals intimate to the others members of the sub-commission that he was dissatisfied with the attitude of any one of us or with the conduct of the hearings. As a member of the sub-commission he was under obligation to express frankly and honestly in private conference any dissatisfaction he may have felt, instead of springing it in public without warning. In this obligation he failed.
3. At no time, either during the hearings or in our private conferences, did any commissioner ever object to any question put to the witness by Mr. Beals. Even the improper question which precipitated Mr. Beals’s resignation still remains in the record.
Much as we regret the resignation of Mr. Heals, it does not disturb us. The Commission is investigating a great historic controversy. Powerful interests are engaged in attempting to disrupt it and sabotage its work. More efforts of this kind may be expected.
7. Recommendations – Your sub-commission submits the verbatim report of its proceedings, together with the documents submitted in evidence. This record convinces us that Mr. Trotsky has established a case amply warranting further investigation. Therefore, we recommend that the work of this Commission proceed to its conclusion.
JOHN DEWEY, Chairman
SUZANNE LAFOLLETTE, Secretary
JOHN F. FINERTY, Counsel, Concurring
The "improper question" that Beals put to Trotsky involved the sending of Borodin, a Comintern agent, to Mexico in 1919. Beals attempted to imply that Trotsky had something to do with this. Trotsky, at the time, was engaged in commanding the Red Army during the Civil War. The purpose of Beals seemingly irrelevant question was to damage Trotsky's relationship with the Mexico government of Cardenas, that had given him asylum.
Further details here:
Further details here:
lol, the comments of the Dewey Commission look farcical in contrast to Beals. Thanks for posting them.
Of course, as Beals said, he was more than willing to take the stand and submit his own published documents about Borodin in Mexico. Given we already know Trotsky flagrantly lied to the commission about more much important matters, this seems a trivial one to lie about.
The real stab from Beals that deflates this commission is the fact that it was basically conducted by a pro-Trotsky clique hostile to any real inquiry into the charges against Trotsky (some of which we know for a fact are true, thanks to the 'missing' archives themselves). It was basically a staged publicly stunt, with the sole intent of influencing international opinion.
The canard of trying to damage the aslyum of Trotsky is also hilarious, as Beals points out, since he took part in the effort to get Trotsky asylum in Mexico to begin with. It is all more attempts to simply slander Beals as a Soviet agent, again, without the slightest shred of evidence. The purpose of the inquiry is to show that indeed Trotsky is a conspirator and a man with many international contacts, and not some pathetic martyr completely incapable of conducting actions against the USSR.
At the time of the Moscow show trials, Trotsky denied that he had any communications with the defendants since his exile in 1929. Yet it is now clear that in 1932 he sent secret personal letters to former leading oppositionists Karl Radek, G. Sokol'nikov, E. Preobrazhensky, and others. While the contents of these letters are unknown, it seems reasonable to believe that they involved an attempt to persuade the addressees to return to opposition.
We know considerably more, however, about another clandestine communication between Trotsky and his supporters in the USSR late in 1932. Sometime in October, E.S. Gol'tsman, a former Trotskyist and current Soviet official, met Sedov in Berlin and gave him a proposal from veteran Trotskyist Ivan Smirnov and other left oppositionists in the USSR for the formation of a united opposition bloc. The proposed bloc was to include Trotskyists, Zinovievists, members of the Lominadze group, and others. Sedov wrote to Trotsky relaying the proposal and Trotsky approved. 'The proposition of the bloc seems to me completely acceptable', Trotsky wrote, 'but it is a question of bloc, not merger'. 'How will the bloc manifest itself? For the moment, principally through reciprocal information. Our allies will keep us up to date on that which concerns the Soviet Union, and we will do the same thing on that which concerns the Comintern'. In his view, the bloc should exclude those who capitulated and recanted: capitulationist sentiment 'will be inexorably and pitilessly combatted by us'. Gol'tsman had relayed the opinion of those in the Soviet Union that participation in the bloc by the Right Opposition was desirable, and that formation of the bloc should be delayed until their participation could be secured. Trotsky reacted against this suggestion: 'The allies' opinion that one must wait until the rights can easily join does not have my approval . . . .' Trotsky was impatient with what he considered passivity on the part of the Right Opposition. 'One struggles against repression by anonymity and conspiracy, not by silence'. Sedov then replied that the bloc had been organized. 'It embraces the Zinovievists, the Sten-Lominadze group, and the Trotskyists (old "—")' 'The Safarov-Tarkhanov group has not yet formally entered—they have a very extreme position; they will enter soon.' ....
* h0m0revolutionary: "neo-liberalism can deliver healthy children, it can educate them, it can feed them, it can clothe them and leave them fully contented."
* rooster: "Supporting [anti-imperialism] is reactionary. How is any nation supposed to stand up [to] the might of the US anyway?"
* nizan: "Fuck your education is empowerment bullshit, education is alienation, nothing more. You indulge in a dying prestige for a role in a bureaucratic spectacle deserving of nothing beyond contempt."
* Alexios: "To the Board Administration: Ismail [...] needs to be eliminated from this forum."
A little more info:
Originally Posted by Intelligitimate
[FONT=Times-Roman]Members of the Dewey Commission:
[/FONT] [FONT=Times-Roman]Edmund Wilson[/FONT]
[FONT=Times-Roman]John Dos Passos[/FONT]
[FONT=Times-Roman]Francisco Zamora [/FONT]
[FONT=Times-Roman]We are supposed to believe that only the great Carlton Beals “saw through” the "fraud.[/FONT]"
[FONT=Times-Roman]RED DAVE [/FONT]
lol, who gives a shit about this motley crew of bourgeois liberals, anarchists, "Left" communists and Trotskyites? The only one among them who didn't already have their mind made up was Beals, and even he was originally sympathetic to Trotsky.
Some of them, like your buddy Hook and John Chamberlain, became outspoken mouthpieces of bourgeois power. Such is the nature of Trotskyism.
the whole "trotsky= neocon" is such a dumb argument. for every trot turned into a hitchens there is 100 maoists turning into succesful international buisnessmen and 10 marxist leninists becoming oil magnates. so stalinists are in a much worse position
[URL="https://gemeinwesen.wordpress.com/"species being[/URL] - A magazine of communist polemic
Except you can't prove that at all, because it is a total lie. It is simply based on equating anyone who ever joined the CPSU and the CCP of being Maoists or Marxist-Leninists. The fact is the leaders of Marxist-Leninist movements and Maoist movements around the globe have not switched sides in anyway resembling what Trotskyites have done.
[URL="https://gemeinwesen.wordpress.com/"species being[/URL] - A magazine of communist polemic
They would be wrong, as so many of them were the obviously dedicated Trotskyites.Now, I am not a trotskyist by any stretch of the word, but I imagine a trotskyist would tell you these neocons were not "real trotskyists"
Trotskyism is the bizarre mutant child of a twisted form of Marxism and rabid anti-communism. The people who are genuinely attracted to the Marxist aspect of Trotskyism tend to be tolerable; those attracted to the rabid anti-communism aspect are scum.Rather than the nature of "trotskyism" itself, I think it has more to do with the fact that these people find political and economic opportunites and they take them.
Hitchens never abandoned his viceral hatred of all things religious, an aspect that has surely cost him money and job opportunities. All he ditched was the unfashionable Trotskyite label, and his raving anti-communism was still intact.Hitchens was a "bright" guy from OxBridge and I imagine it was better for his career to become a goddamn neocon than to badmouth capitalism.
The Trotskyism of people like Shachtman naturally leads them into their positions. Indeed, it's not just a matter of switching sides for personal gain; you can literally document the evolution of their ideological degeneracy into total reaction.
Do you think it really costs you that much to be viscerally anti-religious? there is a strong atheist market. If you are at college, just go to the nearest center of free inquiry student group and you will see what I am talking about. Fucking Dawkins and Hitchens made a fortune out of catering to emotionally stunted "militant atheist" nerds.Hitchens never abandoned his viceral hatred of all things religious, an aspect that has surely cost him money and job opportunities. All he ditched was the unfashionable Trotskyite label, and his raving anti-communism was still intact.
[URL="https://gemeinwesen.wordpress.com/"species being[/URL] - A magazine of communist polemic
Sure, there is money to be made doing that, and Hitchens was doing it while still a Trotskyite. The point is he didn't give that aspect up for personal gain. The fact of the matter is that the people like Hitchens, Horowitz, Hook, Shachtman, etc, didn't ever really make that big of a leap to the otherside to begin with; they had been inching along that way for years, and finally someone dangled a carrot in their face when they got close enough and they dropped Trotskyism like a bag of dirt.there is a strong atheist market. If you are at college, just go to the nearest center of free inquiry student group and you will see what I am talking about. Fucking Dawkins and Hitchens made a fortune out of catering to emotionally stunted "militant atheist" nerds.
Huh. Well, first of all, Hi, Red Dave.
Really, this committe is three-quarters Kautskys at least. If they are against Stalin, revolutionaries should seriously consider being in favor of him. Let's look at them:
John Dos Passos. Lefty in the 20s and early thirties, by the late thirties was an anti-communist. Later an admirer of Tailgunner Joe McCarthy.
Norman Thomas. Long-time head of the Socialist Party, USA, and notorious apologist for U.S. imperialism. Served, for instance, as an observer at the Dominican Republic presidential elections in 1966, held under the barrels of U.S. cannons, and certified that they were free and fair. These elections led to the re-election of the last military-backed president of the D.R. The next elections would not be for twelve years.
Edmund Wilson, celebrated bourgeois literary figure and one-time tax protester.
Reinhold Neibuhr, Protestant theologian who would later favor a strong U.S. nuclear arsenal.
John Chamberlain, who wrote editorials for Henry Luce, would come to count Ayn Rand as a major influence, and who in turn served as a major influence on William F. Buckley.
Sidney Hook, who would later set up a series of front organizations for the CIA.
Otto Ruhle, who favored communism, but without the party.
Benjamin Stolberg, who, so far as I can tell, was a crony of Norman Thomas.
Suzanne LaFollette, a feminist whose libertarian principles led her to break with National Women's Party because NWP favored minimum wage legislation.
Alfred Rosmer, who had some revolutionary credentials, but who was also a friend of Trotsky from decades earlier.
So, a commission of bourgeois liberals and pinkos prefers Trotsky to Stalin. Surely to a Marxist that is a point in Stalin's favor, no? I mean, you would hardly expect the bourgeoisie to give their stamp of approval to the revolutionary as opposed to the reactionary? Surely the hatred which is heaped on Stalin daily, while Trotsky is spared, is more along these lines? Surely too is Trotsky's success as a writer for U.S. magazines?
And what about the substance of Intelligitimate's post? Did the commission meet in Trotsky's house? Did the commission see the archives? Did the commission carry out any independent investigation, call any witnesses? Or was the commission just there to listen to what Trotsky had to say and lob him a few softballs?
There is an analogy made to a court. Well, the commission would be the judges. Trotsky would be the defendant, present with counsel. Was their a prosecution?
And, then, are you contending that Trotsky was not conspiring against Stalin? Of course he was. Why, on earth, would he not have done so?
I don't know but that some point the commission raised may be valid or important, but the commission's report, in itself, doesn't seem like it is to be taken seriously. I sure don't want to get my opinions about revolutionaries from the bourgeoisie... Not even the liberal bourgeoisie.
Hi, IsIt. Haven't seen you in awhile. Hope you're okay.
Just for openers, in your list, correct me if I'm wrong, but I think you confused the membership of the American Committee for the Defense of Leon Trotsky with the Dewey_Commission. There was overlap, but they were not the same.
Ah. Well, you're quite right. It is a little confusing. I had taken those names from your post listing the names of the Dewey Commission members, but you had actually listed the members of the American Commission of the Defense of Trotsky or whatever, precisely, it was called. Well, we both seem to have been confused on that.
Anyway, The Trotsky Defense Committee set up the Dewey Commission. So these people were involved, and, of course, as you say, there was considerable overlap, and <b>The Dewey Report was issued by a Commission set up by the Commission to Defend Leon Trotsky.</b>
So, again: It brought to light whatever facts it brought to light. But that the commission ruled in Trotsky's favor is, if anything, a point against Trotsky.
So, let us look at the members of the Dewey Commission, and see what we find:
First, John Dewey himself. Establishment liberal and academic, would be reformer of capitalism, helped to prevent a communist takeover of the New York Teacher's Union, and went on to be honorary president of the Congress for Cultural Freedom, a CIA front. A Bertrand Russell-type figure.
Next, Otto Ruhle, who, as I previously said, favored communism, but without the party.
Next, Benjamin Stolberg, who, so far as I can tell, was a crony of Norman Thomas. It's hard to find much information about him online, but I did find this, for instance: "Benjamin Stolberg, The Story of the CIO (1938), created a furor with its charges of Communist influence in the new labor federation, while Edward Levinson, Labor on the March (1938), sought to refute Stolberg."
Suzanne LaFollette, also mentioned above, a feminist whose libertarian principles led her to break with National Women's Party because NWP favored minimum wage legislation.
Alfred Rosmer. Again, mentioned above. He did have some revolutionary chops. But he was a <b>personal friend of Leon Trotsky.</b> How can a commission take friends of the accused as members and be taken seriously?
Wendelin Thomas. Very hard to find any information on this person other than at one point she was a communist labor leader. She seems to have been German, so that may be the problem. She, perhaps alone of the surviving members of the commission, seems to have clashed with Trotsky over Kronstadt.
Edward A. Ross, eugenicist and author of "The Causes of Racial Superiority". A friendly on-line biography of him points out that he was a social darwinist, especially when it came to "races."
John Chamberlain, again, who wrote editorials for Henry Luce, would come to count Ayn Rand as a major influence, and who in turn served as a major influence on William F. Buckley. Perhaps it is not fair to call him a Kautsky since he was likely never a serious communist to begin with, merely a person caught up in the fashionability of being a red in the 1930s.
Carlo Tresca. Again, some revolutionary chops, but what is his stake here? He is a died in the wool anarchist and enemy of Stalin because of that. He spent much of his later years working to discredit the Soviet Union. Does not seem to have been too honest: He claimed Sacco had actually carried out the killings for which he was executed, although that seems not to have been the case.
Francisco Zamorra, about whom I can find nothing.
And there's your Dewey Commission.
Carleton Beals is not separated from the other members of the commission by his insight, nor by his politics. He is separated from them by his honesty. No person of reasonable intelligence -- and all the members seem to have been more than reasonably intelligent -- could have taken part in that commission without realizing it was a plain old whitewash, a cheap political trick. All but Carleton Beals seem to have been OK with that. Carleton Beals felt that if the business was going to have a grand-sounding name like "Commission of Inquiry" it ought to actually inquire.
Last edited by IsItJustMe; 14th December 2009 at 18:21.