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Political Spectrum

In Uncategorized on June 11, 2011 at 4:50 pm

 

A Short Guide to Understanding the Political Spectrum
June 10, 2011

Any person moderately familiar with the political scene has likely heard the terms: leftist, rightist, centrist, authoritarian, libertarian etc etc etc. These are all examples of understanding political spectrum, however, as you also may know: political spectrum is a somewhat uptightie subject, many an idiot having found his knickers in a sweaty twist as a result of accusations based on ignorance regarding political spectrum. This is as a result of the many different ways of understanding political spectrum. The most popular and most effective model, being the economic model.
When someone says “rightist” or “leftist” they are probably referring to the right or left of the economic chart. Of course there are those that understand it otherwise, in fact there are ways of understanding political spectrum that don’t even utilize the terms right and left, but actually call them by their proper name according to said spectrum.
The economic model is the most effective because while it may not seem so- economics are actually the most effective, realistic way of viewing general political thought, being nearly all-encompassing and materialistic0. Economics present real statistics which represent in a pure, effective way, everything from the standard of life to productivity, scope, trend etc. Economics are the only option that can produce a clear, scientific statement, without needless babble or rhetoric, because it produces solid math and there’s no blunder or bullshit about math- only numbers. So to me, like to most reasonable people, the economic system is the most suitable.

The Economic Spectrum
The economic spectrum works very simply. Economic leftists support the public sector of the economy, thus a system which is aimed at giving the majority greater opportunities, greater standards, and empowerment. Meanwhile the economic right stand for the private sector, giving nearly universal economic freedom so that the strong can excel, grow rich and powerful, then govern over those that have not yet caught up. Rightist stands for economic freedom, so that the economically superior rule, while leftism stands for personal freedom, so that when the masses are liberated, they are stronger for it, and produce an effective state.
The greatest example and strongest host of leftism is socialism, but others include Communism (advanced socialism) anarchism and primitivism. The right is dominated by capitalists, but the idea of capitalism is contested by two major groups for its social, progressive and civil libertarian applications, by the liberals and conservatives. The more rightist of the two are the conservatives, who stand for maintaining status quo, minimal public sector, and greater freedoms for those empowered by wealth than not, while the liberals stand for greater progressivism, a more meaningful public sector and greater personal freedoms for all, even for those less fortunate economically. The right wing also includes monarchists, fascists and nazis (advanced fascists).
Then finally, there are the centrists. The two main ideologies of the center, who stand straight in between rightism and leftism, are: the social democrats, who are still capitalists but believe in several leftist concepts on matters like health care, education, and welfare. Then the liberal democrats, who are also capitalists, but are moreso facing in the direction of civil liberties, ideology-wise, rather than social improvement, and are slightly more rightist than the social democrats.
While the economic system only represents economics, it is the most effective not only for its pure, realistic outlook but also because many other methods of understanding political spectrum directly correlate with the economic system. For example: based on a collectivist (leftist) versus individualist (rightist) system, most of the leftists would still be socialists and the rightists would still be capitalists, just like in the economic system. This is because public sector economics generally correlate with collectivist thinking and same for private-individualism of the right. Another example: the social change variant (which sees leftism as radicalism, centrism as progressivism, rightism as conservativism and finally far-rightism as the reactionaries) would also have most socialists identify themselves with the left, as socialists stand definitely for change towards a new social system, liberals will find themselves in the center, like they are in the economic model and finally conservatives on the right, just like the economic model, once again.
It is for these reasons that the economic model is the most popular, however, some people that may identify themselves using a different system may find the economic variant not to perfectly correlate with their beliefs, for example: the state power system, with totalitarian powers on the far-left and anarchy on the far-right. Most economic leftists will actually identify themselves as libertarians, fighting for personal freedoms as well as social change, but the former spectrum identifies them with the right.
However, when most people say “political spectrum” they are referring to the economic one that I described. When conservatives call Saddam Hussein Osama a socialist, it is because some of his ideas can be linked to social democracy, which, while not a leftist but actually a centrist ideology, is very far left from the conservatives and the left is identified with the dominant leftist ideology: socialism.
The most common critique of the economic system is that socialism is considered to be out-of-date and mostly rejected as a political ideology, as well as most other leftist movements. Those who think in such a way, believe that the spectrum should be based around the mid-right, with the left being the new centrists and the right being the new far-right. While almost 100% of western politics can be found on this sort of spectrum, it is actually a fact that there are more centrist moderates in the world than either rightists or leftists, therefore a system based around the center is more effective. While official western politics are capitalist, many in the west can actually be identified with leftist movements, and have leftist values, but are forced to live by in a rightist system.
Then on a wold stage leftist politics have very much of a say in, if not simply dominate the fastest growing modern economies: China, India, Brazil and Russia. Furthermore, even the west is following a left-ward trend, which you yourself know, if you’re up-to-date on your politics. Whereas the 80s were dominated by strong rightist politics and it was thought that conservativism would prosper after the fall of the red bloc, this was actually by-far not the case, and the dominant mid-right wing have lost their political popularity, and have switched gears to a more liberal face, whereas liberals moved from the mid-right into the center-right during the 90s. After two decades of general social degradation, those same liberals have gained the upper hand in public support and popularity, and their ascension to dominance in the political field was crowned by the election of president Saddam Hussein Osama in the United States and Dimochka Medved’ in Russia. While these are still capitalist powers, they are considerably more favourable than the politics of say Ronald Reagan, Boris Yeltsin, or Margret Thatcher. And then, if  my skills in prognosis were worth anything, I’d tell you that in the next decade, the neoliberals will take a turn in the direction of social democracy, which is the closest to leftism that the capitalists can carry you- and it’s not so comparatively bad, social democracies such as those applied today (Sweden, Iceland, Finland) boast the greatest levels of equality, civil liberty, democracy and transparency in the world.

Two Axis
Whereas the economic model is the source of the rightist-leftist understanding, in order to get a clearer view of where you stand, you must also consider another axis. If the economic model is one of right-left, than the following is up-down: the libertarian-authoritarian spectrum. Authoritarianism like libertarianism can apply to both left and right, since economics is commonly considered to be a different plane from civil rights. Therefore, either one can consider different means in governing either a leftist or rightist economy/society through different forms of government. The more authoritarian: the more powerful the government in its means of controlling the population. The more libertarian: the more powerful the people in controlling the government. For example: right libertarians believe in an economic freedom, so that the strongest and most intelligence will rise to power, but so that when their strength withers, the stronger may take their place and serve the people and state (allegedly). Meanwhile, libertarian leftists believe in equality, so that all are given the opportunity to serve while all rule.
However, it is worth noting about this spectrum, that most popular and influential systems wind up in the middle of the libertarian-authoritarian chart, because elements of both government power and personal freedom are necessary for an effective ideology. Both socialism and capitalism are generally centrists if you read spectrum with this method (which is actually why it’s best used jointly with the economic variant), while anarchism/primitivism are the far-libertarian and dictatorship/monarchy are the far-authoritarian. Then again, ideas such as leftist authoritarianism or rightist libertarianism make little sense and contradict each other in nature, leading to historic tragedy. As a result, the spectrum isn’t completely an opposite axis to the economic model, libertarianism leaning more leftward and authoritarianism leaning more rightward.

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Gay Rights

In News Analysis on May 29, 2011 at 1:43 am

Guess who? Your friendly neighborhood homophobes!

A pretty embarrassing thing for my country happened today. On May 13, the appeal to the new Moscow mayoral administration by Moscow pride, to allow the annual parade its existence, was denied. On the charge that it would cause social unrest, for the sixth year in a row, the pride organization was denied it’s right of assembly. Despite the homophobic mayor of Moscow, Yuri Luzhkov, being kicked out of office last year, the new administration once against denied Moscow pride parade, which was to occur on this date. As always, the protesters followed through with their plans, and public unrest it DID. A group of homophobes assaulted the pride parade, resulting in a crackdown by police on both the ‘illegitimate’ protest and the attackers.
The rest of the ‘superpowers’ aren’t doing that better. Same-sex marriage is still illegal in Russia, China and most of the USA (with the exception of four states and the district of Columbia.) While homosexuals in China and Russia have labor rights, in 26 American states, businesses and companies can fire individuals for their homosexuality. 19 states offer no protection from hate crimes to homosexuals, meaning that a hate crime against a homosexual isn’t recognized as a hate crime.
Looking at today’s fundamental legality of homosexuality, the situation is appalling. Only ten for the world’s 193, recognize same-sex marriage completely. 18 more states recognize it informally. Some states offer life in prison or death for the homosexual ‘crime.’
This is truly embarrassing moment not just for Russia, China or America but for the whole of humanity. These are living, breathing people that are being denied their fundamental human rights, sometimes being deprived of their right to live for living the way they were created. I laugh at conservatives who are such fans of ‘democracy’ and ‘freedom’ while their views at current are defying the very elementary conventions of equality and freedom.
Would you like to know these fundamentals? No matter how different, alien, strange, seemingly unnatural something is, another man, who is not harmed by it, HAS NO RIGHT to interfere with it. You don’t have to like it, you don’t have to understand it. I find it unnatural, I don’t want to see it, but I will not dare infringe on the civil liberties of my fellow proletarians. I will not deny them the legality of love. I will not deny them the adoption of a child that would otherwise starve and be abused. I will not deny them the ability to fight for a cause as they see fit.
Then there are those who think of gay liberalization as a threat to their ‘culture.’ If your culture and it’s “tradition” is so primitive that it literally fights freedom in the form of civil liberties, perhaps it’s time to progress, maybe? Leave the dark ages behind us, sometime this century?

There’s no simpler way to explain this: Homosexuals are human, so “we hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal” still applies to them, and so does the term “human rights.”
It disgusts me, how in both my country and my current residence, people who are such believers in these words look down upon homosexuals and would see them deprived.
You, my friends, are fucking hypocrites.

Source: “The Power Vertical” article”

This same article can be found in the CPDA archive.

Victory Day 2011

In News Analysis on May 10, 2011 at 2:17 am

The day of triumph in the most important war of human history.

May 9th is a historic date. This date symbolizes a world facing its most desperate hour. This date symbolizes the solidarity of all peoples in their survival and their yearning for freedom. This date symbolizes the immeasurable struggle and achievement of the inspired man. It is indeed, a beautiful day.

On this day, we are to remember that in the past, generations have been called upon to fight, to bleed, to work tirelessly, so that we today might have everything we do. It is to be remembered how many people lost their lives in the great struggle of undoing mankind’s sins and still looking onward toward progress, toward a better world. It is to be remembered how one generation lifted the world out of its lowest pit and out to it’s greatest era of prosperity.

May 9th is the day the people’s war ended, the day that the last gunfire settled down over Europe. Millions had died to meet such an end, millions senselessly butchered. May 9th is the day for which they died, the symbol that it was not in vain. The red flag now flew over the Reichstag, and the worst humanity had to offer was finally vanquished.

Overview

Victory day celebrates not only the triumph in Europe or just that in any one war. World war two is an embodiment of the human experience and the human struggle. Victory in Europe may not have meant very much to the soldiers fighting in the Pacific and it may seem insignificant compared to every other victory compiled but one must admit: this was the greatest one. There is a reason May the 9th isn’t crowned ‘VE-day’ or ‘V-WWII’ day. It is just ‘Victory’ for all peoples and all struggles, marked by this greatest one.

The war itself shows how easily a human mind can be manipulated and brought to the forging of their own chains. We saw this in the enslavement and ultimate downfall of the German people. They were promised mastery of the world and shown unbelievable success, they were told what they wanted to hear and they were bought by the so called ‘national socialists’ who weren’t ever socialists. The Germans built the greatest machine of murder the world had seen, out of a free, democratic republic. Rightism.  Conservativism. Militarism. Imperialism. Authoritarianism. Terrorism. Fascism. Capitalism. Exploitation. Hate. These were the tools by which the Nazis consolidated their iron grip on Germany and the ideas by which they ruled their Third Reich. The axis themselves and later the movements who advocate both their means and their ideas for an end, would protect these ideas, pointing to their temporary and elusive successes. Victory day marks the day the Nazis and all they had stood for were defeated, exposed for their true substance, not their much professed lies. Victory day shows how mankind, armed with these ideologies, was robbed and exploited, raped, confused and eventually; defeated too, with nothing to show for all their suffering. These ideas, clearly and in total, lost any indignant shred of scrap that they may have gained. It was their direct and obvious enemies that won, despite the initial advantage having being decisively thrown in the opposite direction.

The war shows how without unity, when push comes to shove, the world faces oblivion. The French army, hailed in 1939 as the strongest in the world, was blitzed and defeated in five weeks. Almost the whole of Europe fell under the Nazi yoke, for it did not fight as one people. When the Germans first waved their tyrannic flag, there was no one there to crush them. When they broke international law and began to militarize, there was no one there to stop them. The world was not unified, the world was in a time of stagnation, fear and uncertainty. Germany was prospering, firm and patriotic. When they marched through Austria, the world’s leaders failed to comment. When they promised peace for Czech slaves, the world bought it. When all of mighty Czechoslovakia fell under the swastika, there was betrayal and deceit. As Poland was crushed before Nazi tanks, a British column asked “Would you die for Danzig?” That was how almost the whole of Europe and swathes of Africa and Asia were swallowed by imperialist jaws.

The war then shows us the limits and strains of the perfect Nazi empire. How, a nation of slaves, no matter how efficient, no matter how skilled, no matter how brilliant and absolute its leaders rule remains; will always be inferior, to the spear of free proletarians that will line up to kill it. The war shows how armies of death were defeated by armies of revolution. The war shows that no matter the absolute control of the upper class and how perfect the upper class, in a war of peoples against peoples, nations in their entirety facing likewise: it must be the people that win, and only the honest working man that understands the struggle he is facing and what it is for, can truly win in such a war. There must be a time when the ruling class is no longer a factor, where an individual faces certain destruction, and he picks up his rifle in its wake. No amount of tanks, rifles, sophistication, training can ever, in a war of nations, defeat the purest of ideological certainty. Victory day shows that the Germans were poor sheep within a slaughter house, their thoughts and actions were monitored. Opposition war crushed. Healthy opposition was kept. Everything was tightly managed and controlled, in the process 15 million axis civilians had to be systematically eradicated, mostly by the axis bastion of Germany. The Germans did not believe in Nazism, they thought other things, they were deceived. Yet they were forced into committing the most terrible crimes of human history. Victory day exposes this for its true substance, not the hollow lies committed in its name. It shows how all the ideologies of the German elite were how they achieved their stunning efficiency and their ultimate downfall. The Germans who did the fighting, did not understand what it truly was that they were fighting for.

The war finally showed that when the ordinary man has made the choice for himself, on his own observations, without the interference or control of state, he can achieve tenfold what he could with absolute control of the state and fanaticism in his heart. The great war was one of personal will and perseverance. Every man had a choice at what side he chose. In Germany, he did too, his life expectancy might have been low, but he did. No matter where a man lived, he had the opportunity to help one side or the other, it was a time where one man could truly change the world. Many peoples in allied countries chose to fight for the Nazis. Vichy French, Banderovtsi, the lot. Victory day shows, however, that when presented with such an opportunity, to stay in the munitions plant under bombing, to join the partisans, to burn the wheat-fields, dynamite the telephone posts; those that were motivated by freedom won by their sheer will. If there wasn’t will, the British civilians would not have lifted their army off Dunkirk. Entire Russian factories wouldn’t have been disassembled and driven behind the Urals. Billions of poods of grain wouldn’t have been carried back to feed the soldiers, and millions that couldn’t be carried burned. If there wasn’t will, a soldier would not let down the entry door to his landing vehicle as machine gun fire racketed its exterior, like they did at Normandy. He would not stand up and be the single AA firing on hundreds of enemy planes like at Pearl Harbor. He would not board a wooden raft to land on a shore of enemy guns or sprint across no-man’s-land while he knew it was mined, like millions of soldiers did on the Eastern Front. Every drop of blood, every bullet of the war, came down to the sheer determination of the civilian and soldier, thus; the nation. Freedom defeated slavery. No matter what one can say about the allied governments, it was freedom that was presented to the peoples of the world. The cowards fled to the slavery and probable success of the Fascist cause. Did they win? No, they were vanquished and victory day PROVES THIS. It is, after all, what the holiday stands for.

This holiday belongs to us all! Let us all rejoice!

So remember, always remember. And on this day celebrate, the internet is a wonderful thing. The Soviet Army choir has made some performances that are truly breathtaking and inspiring. The latest parade through red square shows off some fine uniforms and fighting gear, look it up. Film and photograph from the era as well as live interviews are all over the web. I couldn’t possibly list all the sources- but here are a few just to start:

http://www.1tv.ru/news/polit/176194

http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=Red+army+choir&aq=f

Long live the veterans and the liberators. May the memory of victory and all its lessons stay with us many centuries into the future.

Onward, comrades!

The Czech Legion (1)

In Russian Civil War Project on May 3, 2011 at 8:50 pm

Heroes? Traitors? Or pawns?

Foreword: A part of my “Russian Civil War” project. This is an analytical/historical article about the Czechoslovak legions which will be part of the project’s conclusion.

If you click on the image above, it will take you to a link with an article called “The Odyssey of the Czech-Slovaks” as a part of the book “Great Events of the Great War” 1920, by Charles F Horne. The majority of the article is by Vladimir Nosek, an executive organizer of the Czech legions during their stay in Russia. It’s followed by an “officially recognized” account of the events of February 1917- 1920 and an announcement regarding the events by the future president of Czechoslovakia: Thomas Masaryk. This article completely embodies how the combination of post-war press craze and nationalism/militarism are capable of deforming history into something it’s definitely not. If you read the article among many texts about the Czech legions, the primary thing said about them are showers of praise. They are elite warriors of WWI, who raised an army out of ‘nothing’ under fire from all sides, and became the strongest force in the Russian Empire.  The blame for ‘calling on their wrath’ is not-so-surprisingly put on the Bolshevik government, at which point the Czechs went on to fight for their ‘survival’ and ‘freedom’ against the atrocities of red Russia. The Czech legions went on an epic adventure through thousands of miles, managing to steal the Kazan gold reserves, ‘liberate’ the whole of the Volga-Ural region and capture half the Trans-Siberian railway. Finally agreeing to barter with the vile Russians, they were able to escape through Vladivostok in 1920 and came home to a new nation (Czechoslovakia) where they were hailed heroes, and their leader, professor Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, was elected president.

Reading such articles (there are many texts from the era available online; newspapers, speeches etc), I feel like it’s less a political essay and more a children’s comic book.  Not only is this a terribly childish view of the events, but it’s awfully wrong. The Czech legions were their own armed camp, with their own government. It’s a lie to say that they had no administration; their military structure alone was enough discipline and organization to have broken into Bohemia and liberated the Czech lands, rather than trek slowly down the under-maintained Trans-Siberian railway. Their formal organization into an independent army transpired under the friendly Russian Provisional government and not under fire.  The legions are merely looked at as rag-tag because they just didn’t have sovereignty and were the equivalent of ‘warrior-nomads’ during their stay in Russia. What they did have was an organized structure and 100,000 strong army, well equipped and provisioned with horses, artillery, rifles etc. If you look at images of the Czech legion, you’ll see; they all have uniforms, weapons, provisions. They crowd around artillery, food and dead bodies, they smile and take photographs. Neither the white nor Bolshevik camp had a similar scenario and looking at the supply fronts on all Russian sides, one could clearly see they were ones of scarcity and deprivation. 10 million people died as a result of the Russian civil war, many of whom due in part to the Czech legions, which had helped tremendously to spark counter-revolution in Russia. It was due to their fighting that most of the resistance to Bolshevik rule were able to organize and work with some form of cohesion. The Czech ‘adventure’ played perfectly within the interests of the western allies. All of their actions had immediate and decisive consequences, which indeed nearly crushed Russia and Communism.

Lets talk about that; what did the Czech presence throughout Russia mean for the revolution, and the world?

Origin

Some of the best soldiers of WWI: Czech regiments.

I’ll take this from the very start. First, I do not doubt Czech prowess as fighters, history has spoken for them in this regard. They were among the fiercest warriors of WWI. Just as fierce was the competition for then day journalism, one indeed had to go to desperate measures and extensive media manipulation (just like modern times, if no one’s noticed) to make a selling story; so if you don’t paint the Czech soldier as Mr.America- someone else does and you don’t get your slice of bread. There are two results from this sort of wartime/post-war rhetoric in capitalist press. 1 The desired effect is always achieved no matter which journalist wins or loses 2 History and reality are severely distorted in the eyes of the masses and that’s for generations, regardless of reformed government or upgraded education. These effects were especially strong for the case of the Czechs; press attention and public support for the Czechoslovaks saw the United States government recognizing the Czechoslovak national council as the righteous sovereign government of Czechoslovakia before the republic had even declared its independence. But that’s later, now; how did the Czech legions form? There were many Czech legions, throughout western Europe, but the ones that typically carry the name “The Czechoslovak Legion” were the ones that fought in Russia, during the Civil War. In World War I, the Czech (Bohemian) and Slovak (Northern Hungarian) peoples were under the yoke of Austro-Hungarian imperialist tyranny. Many Czechs and Slovaks were conscripted into Austrian service and formed Czech brigades. Forming these was a fool’s errand since most wanted independence and weren’t integrated with loyal Austrian or Hungarian soldiers. The Czech brigades eventually surrendered to the allied powers, which supported an independent Czech republic… at least from Austria. In the West, the Czechs were integrated with French and British battalions but in Russia, so as to maximize fighting spirit and unit cohesion, Czech brigades were once again formed. These were formed from among Czech volunteers as well as Czech prisoners of war from the Austrians. Contrary to their counterparts, Poles and Ukrainians who too wanted independence; the Czechs had their own command structure, and while submitting to the Russian army, they fought even more independently than autonomous Cossack units. The Czech legions had a unique discipline, organized cohesion of forces and almost nationalist spirit. Their numbers swelled as deserting Czechs from the Austrian army, Czech POWs and volunteers enlisted increasingly faster. The total number of Czech soldiers in Russia exceeded 130,000 in 1917.

After the February revolution of 1917 the Tsarist army was in a critical state and the head of the new provisional government Kerensky- who’d earned his ‘legitimacy’ with the west by continuing the highly unpopular war and bringing on useless but democratic reforms -was appealed to (in a visit by Czech professor and future president Masaryk with his political backing in the west) allow the Czechs what would be understood as autonomy were they a state and not an army. The Czechs organized an executive council and appointed their own officers which would rule their army, instead of submitting to other Russian generals like they had in the past. Now the Czechoslovaks only received their orders directly from the Russian stavka, the highest military headquarters in Russia. Also; all Czechoslovak units would be put under command of the council and removed from direct Russian service. This officially formed ‘The Czech legion’. The action highly bolstered the strength of the Czech corps but at the same time created the capacity for self-government for the legion. This would enable the Czechs to go freely on their own initiatives in disobedience to any form of order and law which could not suppress them. When the stavka and Tsarist army began collapsing, the Czechs found themselves entirely free to do as they wish, because such law and order were effectively removed as Russia slipped into anarchy.

Times came a-changing and after two revolutions, the All-Russia Congress of Soviets passed ‘The Decree of Peace’ officially ending Russia’s participation in the war. Millions of soldiers had died, the nation was exhausted and starving, but the Czechs, with their own ‘mini-nation’ wanted to continue fighting. It was a matter of pride and independence for them, after all. For whatever reasons, the Czechs decided not to immediately leave Russia. If there was a chance and a necessity, the Czechs would stay and continue to fight the Germans. Oddly enough, both arrived and since the Czechs were fighting on their own initiative; they could have easily went to the Ukraine (which was being trampled on by the Germans up until March 1918) and launched their own campaign against Germany. After all, who commanded them? It certainly wasn’t the Soviet power. Neither did the Soviet power disarm them, they were allowed free passage through Siberia to Vladivostok on the Pacific ocean where the allies would ‘pick them up’ and transport them to the Western front and that was only AFTER the Czechs, enemies of the Germans, were welcomed back into officially neutral Russia. This is a path that the Czechs chose for themselves, to travel 6000 miles from Kiev to Vladivostok than just a few hundred from Kiev to Poland… odd?? Of course not, the decision is totally understandable, such would be the most suicidal campaign in history, but; if the allies really wanted the Czechs on their front, could they have not picked them up through Sevastopol, or Petrograd? Which were both about as close to Kiev as Poland and certainly much closer than Vladivostok. Or perhaps even Murmansk, which would have been quite a distance but still three-four times less than Vladivostok and, unlike Sevastopol or Petrograd, Murmansk was totally 100% safe from the Germans and Turks.

Indeed, both the Bolsheviks and the western allies needed the Czechs in Russia. For both, there was a hope that the army would side with THEM, or at least act on their interests and crush the opposing party’s interests in Russia. The reds, hoped that the Czechs would be inspired by Communism, and align themselves with the party, later fighting for Russia and eventually Czechoslovakia. The west meanwhile, knew that due to the right-wing nature of the Czech leadership, the high level of antagonism against Communism and their own ability to manipulate the situation; that the Czechs would likeliest wind up neutral or counter-Soviet. However, the conventional wisdom would also have dictated that most Russians should too, by nature, be counter-Soviet, and this was perhaps the wrongest assumption of the 20th century.

The Czechs were accepted into Soviet Russia ‘with fraternal comradeship’ as glorious ‘defenders of the nation.’ Naturally they were allowed to retain their self rule, but lets stop for a moment. 100,000 armed and well provisioned soldiers, who don’t even represent a country, are allowed free passage. Did the All-Russia congress have an army? Scarcely, after the decree for peace the already shattered and broken Tsarist army began demobilization. The Czechs, in purely legal terms, were a French army. They were going to Vladivostok in order to be shipped to France where they would serve with the French and this was all under the direction of guess who?; the French government, meaning of course the French stock exchange. This never happened, but had it happened, the units and their government would be dissolved and distributed among western (primarily French but shared with other allies’) divisions. France, (and most of the west for that matter) was an openly hostile force to the Soviet power, and later in 1918, they with the British would land a force in the North of the country and battle Bolshevik troops. Yet, one of their de jure armies was allowed free passage through Russia. This highly endangered the prospects of peace with Germany, negotiations over which had begun almost immediately after the October revolution. Of course there would have to be terms, this is totally understandable and justified (not by the account of western press); the Czechs were partially disarmed for the voyage. Their weapons were to be returned to them when they reached their ships in Vladivostok. Later in 1918, on June 29, the Czechs really would reach Vladivostok, but not to leave. They began a joint occupation with the Japanese imperialists, and established supply lines for their campaign into the heart of Russia, upon which they’d reached striking distance that same month. In only four months after beginning their voyage as fraternal comrades of Soviet Russia, the Czechs were sinking the boot of imperialist oppression deep into Russian lands. It began, with their guaranteed free transit through Siberia.

Voyage

Transit through Siberia was lengthy and ineffective. This led to quarrels and hostility with local Soviets, some of whom attempted to blackmail the Czechs for weapons and supplies by not allowing them passage.

The transit through Siberia began around March 1918 after the Brest-Litovsk peace with Germany was signed, the documentation of which said nothing in legal terms about the Czech (once again a western-allied anti-German army) presence. Formal diplomatic ties then opened between imperial Germany and the Congress of Soviets. It is on the reports of many western journalists that when efforts were taken by some soviets to roadblock the transit of the Czechs, it was under pressure from the German embassy of Count von Mirbach. However, the only government that had the right to effect the Czech transit was the same which gave them free passage; the Congress of Soviets and the Central executive committee that comprised Soviet Russia’s executive branch. These bodies had ordered the soviets to allow the Czechs what had been promised to them. The soviets, who were elected by workers, were actually the only organizations that made up the Congress. The Congress then elected the CEC. The CEC acted as the executive branch on decrees passed by the Congress and only during times when the congress was not in cession. Authority over the actions of the soviets (at least in this instance, which regards foreign policy) therefore was dictated by majority vote in the congress and the execution of its orders by the CEC. If any soviet gave into pressures by the Germans and disobeyed an order by the central government, it was to be interpreted as traitor-ship. The Germans, by the peace they signed, claimed no authority over matters of Russian interior and had no say in them. When the allied intervention came around, it came under the guise of protecting the Czechoslovaks and the trans-Siberian railway from German soldiers, former prisoners, mercenaries and bandits. In fact no such accusations were ever reality and German soldiers never stepped foot on RSFSR territory during the term of the Brest-Litovsk peace.

Another common play by western journalists was the extreme activity of bandits, raiders and even former central-powers prisoners of war apparently ‘threatening’ the Czechoslovaks journey along the Trans-Siberian railway. While the railways were sprouting in corruption and decay, they still operated with some minor degree of functionality in the first half of 1918. Bandits and raiders only became a serious problem after the allied interventions and the actual Czech campaigns. This isn’t to say there weren’t roadblocks, but these were chiefly corrupt soviets, seeking self-betterment instead of considering the common good, which would have meant staying on good terms with the Czechoslovaks in favor of going to war with them (the actual end result). The prospect of opposition by former German and Austrian soldiers is absolutely ridiculous. Less than 1/20 of the red army consisted of foreigners at the time of the Czech revolt’s height. Most German prisoners were returned to Germany. Those who had broken out of prison knew (for the most part) no Russian and could not get around. The former central-powers soldiers in Russia were stranded, starving, defenseless and were no threat to anyone. This was opposed to the Czech legions who had formal diplomatic relations with Soviet Russia and were better provisioned than the red army itself which protected Russia, let alone some kind of former German prisoners.

Indeed this had been a great era of lying for the press. The Czech soldiers and officers, who would revolt in a few months, had to have developed some inner contempt against the Soviet power. After all, an army cannot on sudden order pick up arms against friends and comrades. During the Czech voyage through Siberia, a great many incidents occur which incite the Czech revolt and future campaign against Soviet Russia. These antagonisms are considered reasonable justification for the Czech revolt, which by all means, though considered a grand adventure and achievement, are also thought to be minor by most journalists and analytics from the west. The campaign actually created a world of difference between what is history and what was then possible, which I’ll discuss later. In any case, the influence of the western press on the western public and the influence of the western public on decisions such as combating or befriending Russia, were both obvious. Most workers, specifically in America and France, though embroiled in other concerns felt sympathy for the Russian workers that had taken up arms and broken their chains. The capitalists didn’t plan on making mistakes, after all, it was a matter of survival; they acted carefully.

At first, the meaning of the Czechs in Siberia wasn’t totally clear. Naturally they wanted to fight for their independence, but they were just soldiers, ‘war is young boys dieing for old hags’ and ultimately, they acted on the bidding of the bourgeoisie. It seemed obvious that the French should want them fighting on their front; at first the western governments weren’t fixed on actions regarding Bolshevik Russia, and the German Spring offensive of 1918 threatened to finally crack the allied position in west Europe. However, the western allies were content to wait and see how things played out before ruling on the situation. Meanwhile transit through Siberia was slow, cumbersome and aggravating. There were two major factors in this. 1 The inefficiency of the railways after years of under-maintenance and stagnation. Corruption, shortage of supply/repair and of course banditry were all rampant and growing along the trans-Siberian railways 2 The decentralized nature of Soviet government. Some regional Soviets were frightened by the armed Czechoslovaks and nearly attacked them, some tried petty recruitment methods, but most just attempted to further disarm the Czech echelons to bolster their own arsenals. The Czechs, at the start of their transit, had been allowed a wide range of personal arms for protection, and most of the soviets were in desperate need of these weapons. All of the soviets were free to act as they pleased since little in discipline could be done by the central authorities, though most honest soviets felt it necessary to maintain order and abide by the Congress decrees

For the most part, the corrupt soviets failed, order was maintained, and the Czechs passed, though, at an increasingly slow rate. This aggravated their officers; though slight, the loss of arms, constant encounters with bandits and unfriendly Soviets left them feeling increasingly vulnerable (though they were undoubtedly the strongest force in the former Russian empire and could wipe their feet with soviet forces). The loss of men to minor soviet recruitment efforts found many Czech soldiers demoralized and disillusioned by these actions while officers felt even more threatened. This was despite that they claimed these (men who defected) to be the very bottom tier of the Czech legion, the most cheap and weak men and a perfidious action by the Soviet government: this wasn’t so.

The Soviet government was in a desperate position but it never conscripted or tried to conscript any Czechs into military service. Despite many claims (once again, the lying western press) it would be greatly against Soviet interests to do so as it would be a TRUE provocation and would lead to a decisive action by Czech officers. Czechs who left their legion for the red army were presented with no particular opportunities or advantages since there was no system of merit and for a period of time not even one of rank, in the Soviet army. Furthermore few Czechs could even speak Russian and that coupled with general dislike for foreigners by the Russians of the time, didn’t make soviet service the most attractive path for Czechoslovak soldiers. Czechs who joined like Jaroslav Hašek did so purely by ideologically inclination and the legion officers resented their desertion; quickly resorting to anti-Bolshevik propagandism to prevent it. They took on a fiercely anti-Communist stance, ‘just in case’ the possibility of a conflict with the Soviet power became ever more real. This aggravated many problems with the transport of the Czechs to Vladivostok by creating undue hostility with the Soviets and good foundation for further disarmament, delay and thus even more such hostility.

The anti-Bolshevik Czech officers soon found allies; members of the former government seeking to reestablish their power. The old provisional government and constituent assembly were overthrown by the urges of the working masses and their Soviets to the Bolsheviks, after the decisive division in the Russian government leading to extreme instability, complete failure and decay. The most popular party in Russia, by somewhat biased electoral vote was the ‘Socialist revolutionary’ party. In November 1917 the party had went through a left-right wing split. The right SRs claimed authority holding the majority of SR support, while the left SRs formed a coalition government with the Bolsheviks and thus outweighed the rightists by total vote (not party vote, total vote). Yet the Duma (Russian parliament) only recognized the whole SR party, which by all means no long existed. Meanwhile the mensheviks held their own ground and the constitutional democrats formed a coalition with the labor party. This essentially, put Russia in a stand-still and in need of a referendum (the constituent assembly), which would take months as the country starved and crumbled. In opposition of this, the October revolution crushed the provisional government and gave all power to the Soviets to stabilize and win the hearts of the people while also restarting the constituent assembly. After the results were once again indecisive like in the Duma, the Soviets voted to dissolve the assembly. Soon enough, old government officials seeking to take back their power conducted revolts, resulting in a ban of the Right SR, Menshevik and Constitutional Democratic parties and any of their former members from holding posts in the government. About as soon as the voyage began, Right SRs and Mensheviks sought to reclaim control and recognized that the strongest force in the country was the Czech legion. They met with Czech troops and spread lies about regional Soviets plans to attack and disarm them, later force them into service with the fledgling Red army. The Czech officers found it in their favor to support such perfidious lies and rumors so soon enough, they were running rampant through the Czech echelons. The Soviet central government had promised Czechs safe passage, but because of many hostilities between regional Soviets and increasing shortages as well as fear by those same Soviets; some continued their petty attempts. Trying to seize Czech arms and men, though understandable, it continued to fail and incited more contempt from the Czechoslovaks. This, in turn, further slowed the Czech progress through Siberia. In Tambov oblast for example, the tensions were so high that the echelons were held up an entire month. After repeated orders from central authority, the Tambov soviet finally allowed the Czechs passage.

In the beginning of April, things weren’t looking so good neither on the western front, where the French and British armies were collapsing in the wake of the German Spring offensive, nor in Siberia. Abruptly, the allied intervention began, at this stage it was still raw and not at all cohesive. Japanese troops seized Vladivostok and began marching west. The former Russian Cossack general ‘Semyenov’ began his far east ‘white’ movement, setting up a puppet state for Japan and meanwhile raping and pillaging Russian lands in extraordinary acts of banditry. Semyenov was no statesman or general, he was a pure thief and only upheld an army, in no way supporting the far east’s people while looting and stealing from them and their railways.The Japanese intervened under the guise of protecting ‘vital to them’ trans-Siberian railways from bandits (which they were actually supporting) and escaped German prisoners of war. They soon established a military-police regime as brutal as Semyenov and his cossacks.

The Imperial(ist) Japanese army at Vladivostok.

It became clear that the Japanese weren’t interested in the Czechoslovaks and that the French were in too dire straights to start worsening relations with Japan. Neither English nor French embassies gave any certain promise, set date, plan or really anything to help the Czechoslovaks get evacuated out of Russia and transported to the west. The Czechs felt threatened by the Soviets, the Soviets felt threatened by the Czechs and the western press relished in it; finally seeing the opportunities it needed. The opportunity presented to them was to, as foolish as it may sound, somehow restart the war on the Eastern front using the Czech legion to force the Soviet government into such an abortive action. The French understood that with a Japanese occupation and thus total degradation of the rail system in the far east; the Czechoslovaks would neither arrive soon, nor were they best used on the western front.

They hatched a simple plan; do nothing, and allow the deteriorating relations between the Czechs and the Soviets to break out into a conflict OR for the Soviet-German peace to fail, and for the Soviets to allow the Czechoslovaks service on the new front. Both plans were unrealistic and unfeasible, at least for fighting the Germans, but doing nothing was about as much as the west could spare. They waited, the Czechs moved and the press never relented… but the peace of Brest-Litovsk remained steadfast and showed no signs of wavering. The west came to understand that their only option was supporting counter-revolution in Russia, not just as an only chance to reestablishing the war with Germany: but also to halt the development of a Marxist revolutionary state, thus strengthening the Marxists in Europe and France too and perhaps inciting future revolutions of their own (the French were exactly right and they acted just in time). Soon enough, with the blessing of America, England and France (who were now planning an intervention into Russia), the latest rumor arrived from Right SR provocateurs; a Soviet order to completely disarm and arrest the Czechoslovak legions. The Czech officers knew this was absurd, but were careful not to characterize it as such and to hide their faces in confusion whenever the time came to give their soldiers real answers.

In May 1918 Soviet intelligence unveiled plots by the right SRs to incite war with the Czechoslovaks and once again claim power over the Soviets but this didn’t reach the ears of neither the increasingly anti-Bolshevik press nor the Czech soldiers. It was obvious that there were lies and deceit in the air, it was obvious that someone was trying to provoke a conflict, but it largely went ignored and tensions continued to spread. May 14th, while being held in Chelyabinsk as the Soviet government and Czech executives pondered on what do to about the Japanese landing, a serious confrontation broke out amongst former Hungarian prisoners with the Czechoslovaks. The local Soviet included some former Hungarian soldiers and also had a few former Czech soldiers as members, they loathed their former commanders and quickly voted siding with the Magyars. The case was that of a lone Hungarian throwing a rock at the Czech legion’s train-car and then being shot by one of the Czechs. After that a fight broke out amongst some of the dead man’s friends and Czechoslovak soldiers which once again turned lethal. The Czechs, after shooting their enemies, proceeded to seize control of the area surrounding their echelons and arrested several soviet guards and workers. The action taken by the Chelyabinsk Soviet would have a massive effect on the future of Soviet Russia and the world: they voted to arrest several Czech officers and completely disarm the echelons in Chelyabinsk. This action coincided completely with the recent rumors of Soviet plans by the Right SRs which the Czechs had been worried about.

Despite the presence and anti-war agendas of both professor Thomas G Masaryk and Czech politician/French general Milan Stefanik, the Czechs were stricken easily by panic, resisted arrest and soon attacked the Chelyabinsk soviet militias: a battle broke out. By the end of the day the Chelyabinsk Soviet was defeated and their city was held by the Czechoslovaks. Most of the Soviet escaped, many that didn’t were executed and now, Soviet Russia was cut off from many of its holdings east of Chelyabinsk (the city had been a key link of the trans-Siberian rail way.) After a continued stalemate and total halt of transport to Vladivostok, tensions reached their peak. The Czechs refused to reinstate the Chelyabinsk soviet and the All-Russia Central executive committee refused to revoke a trial against the perpetrators of the Czech-Hungarian brawl. May 25th The People’s Commissariat for Military affairs, (highest military authority in Soviet Russia 1918) headed by Leon Trotsky,  ruled on the total disarmament of the Czech legions to eliminate the chance of armed struggle with the Czechoslovaks. If the reds caught the Czechs by surprise and they surrendered, such chance would be eliminated. If not, it would be spun directly against the favorable environment for Soviet Russia.

It became this final break at which the two armies entered a state of war. Several raids were conducted by the red army, to catch the Czechs by surprise and disarm them without bloodshed, but the legion was ready, and repulsed these attacks. At this point, officially, the battle between the Czechoslovak legions and the Red army began. The next day Marinsk and Novonikolaevsk were taken by Czech forces advancing by train and foot. It had been clear from the start that the local soviets could not handle the well disciplined Czechs. They had no where else to go, nothing to do but fight, anyhow.

Battle

The Czech legions advanced by train, up and down the Trans-Siberian railway. Their battles for stations, links, cities and bridges are indeed the great locomotive-inspired adventure. One city; Syzran changed hands a dozen times over the course of one month, since it's the site of a crucial rail link between Turkmenistan and the Ural region.

If you click the image above, it’ll take you to a site with a chronological history of the Czechs’ battles in Russia. The history is missing a lot, like *akem* some of the many defeats of the Czechs which are just plain gone. Most notably those before Kazan and the liberation of the Volga region. Regardless, it points to a few things generally missed in Communist reading on the matter and it’s nice to have some perspective.

The first battles occurred in Chelyabinsk where the practically unarmed Czechs took over the city soviet. When de facto war broke out on May the 25th, after a small brawl in Chelyabinsk, the Czechs once again had the city. After some quick communiques between the under-armed Czechoslovak echelons, a counter-revolutionary plan of attack was set up: the Czechs would take over storehouses from the soviets that had bartered transit for Czech arms and then use their former weapons once again, against the Bolsheviks. Suddenly, the weapons confiscated over the course of months were returned in one night. The 4th Czech rifle regiment held control of Chelyabinsk, meanwhile, several other regiments set west toward the Volga and its capital Samara, east toward the capital of Siberia; Omsk and north toward the centre of the Urals, Yekaterinburg.  The next day the 7th rifle regiment took Marinsk and Novonikolaevsk. Resistance by local soviets was a pathetic show of weakness since regional forces had nothing to resist with besides weak militia. With the hope that some nonexistent-in-the-Urals red army would come and pick up the pieces, most of the militias surrendered or fled. Within three days by May 29th, Ufa and Syzran with their railways and industry, Penza with its massively important train stations, Samara the center of the Volga region and Orenburg with its large population and industry- were seized by the Czechs without much resistance. All of these were key sites along the trans-Siberian railway and large Russian cities with sizable soviets and militias. Too easy did they fall. With them fell vast reserves of ammunition and equipment. Armoured trains, millions of cartridges, machine guns and field artillery that the Czechs has been trained with now fell back into their hands once more, to be armed against the soviet people.

One of the most unique adventures of the Czechs: Their capture of the Soviet armored train 'Lenin' at Penza station III on May 29th, renamed 'Orlik' or 'little eagle.' It participated in battles in the following five days, where it was heavily damaged fighting for Alexandrovského bridge but later repaired and rearmed.

While the Tsarist army was demobilizing, the Czechs had been rearming. Once they recaptured their confiscated modern weapons, they became the most severe threat to soviet authority.

The Czechs, once rearmed, consolidated and fully battle ready, headed toward Omsk. Omsk was the centre of all Siberia, all the important railways met here at this stronghold of industry. Capturing Omsk would be a rallying point for counter-revolutionary forces, it would be a massive victory both symbolically and materially. While the Czechs were very confident and high in spirit, their officers knew that once the Soviets too were fully mobilized and ready to fight; their resistance would be vastly superior. For now, they had the initiative and a grand advantage.

Yet, the situation was radically changing. The CEC had already recognized the need for a real army and had mobilized a volunteer force of 300,000. Since April 22 a decree on universal compulsory training for all male proletarians between 18-40 and non-compulsory training for female proletarians had been enacted. Several million workers and peasants had already undergone a term of training, and were ready to be called up when the order came.  The Red army had been based around principles of purely modern military science, revolutionary discipline and ideological indoctrination. For this role, commissariats were established in every minor province to oversee the ideological education and compulsory training, meanwhile, special commissars were appointed to monitor discipline, morale and ideological rigor in each military unit and province commissariat. These were also to counterbalance the influence of commanders, many of whom had been welcomed from the old Tsarist army, so as to have them serve a purely military role. Meanwhile military academies and special battalions would be tasked with overseeing the strictly modern level (well equipped, well trained, well prepared) readiness of the red army as well as training future commanders and soldiers. The Cheka secret police were to weed out deceit and maintain law within units where conventional revolutionary discipline might fail.

The Bolsheviks consolidated their strength against the Czechs by forming the united Siberia-Ural-Northern front (among 7 other military district for other purposes) under the command of R. Berzin June the 5th. This gave the Bolsheviks a much better organized command structure in the area, for better cohesion against the Czechs. After an organized resistance, Omsk fell to the Czechoslovaks, but this time, it wasn’t without (relatively) a fight, the battle had raged for days and it took two of the Czech regiments; the 1st and 6th to finally capture Omsk.

The Czechs rearmed, reorganized and redeployed quickly. Adhering to the strictest of discipline and the strongest of enthusiasm. They were up in arms and ready months ahead of everyone and their showing of initiative proved decisive to the history of the world.

The Czechs fought hard for their independence. Their scenario was one very much backed-into-the-wall. After months of tension and propaganda, they saw surrender as an impossibility for fear of Bolshevik retribution. The People’s commissar for military affairs Leon Trotsky; gave the Czechs every opportunity to surrender, negotiate and promised good treatment in an order, June 4th. The Czechs didn’t waver. After some failed counter-attacks at the capitals of Samara and Omsk on June 8th, the influence the Czechs had on the Russian civil war was becoming ever more evident. Former Soviet territory began to see the Japanese striding through. Soviets in the far east, now cut off from the industrialized Russian heartland, were surrounded on all sides and without support or supply. They surrendered in droves and the Japanese saw their chance for empire building. Eventually the Japanese intervention would number 70,000 men along with its puppet state; the Chita military district, commanded by Grigory Semyonov and his Cossack bandits. The latter would eventually number 100,000 additional forces. The Czechs were playing straight into the interests of the French and Japanese stock exchanges. Their legion was no longer necessary on the western front, the Germans had been caught in a stalemate at Lys and their advance completely halted at Aisne. German morale was sinking, slowly, but surely, they became more vulnerable the further they advanced. Countless lives were lost on both sides, but now, the Germans were without a fixed defense, without initiative, without sufficient manpower and without any real success to show for it. Meanwhile in Siberia, in a matter of weeks the Czechoslovaks had seized the most important central routes on the trans-Siberian railway and occupied many important industrial centers.

To the French and Japanese, the Czechs were tenfold the value in Siberia than they would ever be on the west and it didn’t end there. Not only were the honest and courageous Czech soldiers playing straight into the hands of exploiting powers, but they were, almost like puppets, being directed by agents of France, Britain and America. The most trusted and respected of Czech commanders consorted behind the backs of their soldiers with the imperialists, to find out what was necessary of them. The imperialists, in a way, were the ones conspiring; they blackmailed the Czechs into continuing their fight. Due to the position they were in, the Czech officers totally ruled out surrender and compromise with Soviet Russia as a possibility, in part due to false tales by the allies and right SRs. Ones such as that Russian ships on the Baltic were incapable of carrying them to safety or that the Czechs would be once again imprisoned or conscripted into service with the reds. The Czechs thought that the west was their only way out, the only way of returning them to their liberated homeland, so they followed such orders and carried through an amazing campaign.

The Czech artillery, gearing up to do what it did best: serve the capitalist imperialists. It was the Russian workers and peasants that paid the price for such mistakes.

The future drives at Vladivostok, Irkutsk, Yekaterinburg and Kazan would be totally on the order of the west’s stock exchanges. Gradually, the Czechs were filled with hollow promises. Promises of being returned to the western front to fight their oppressors. When the war in the west was over; to their home. When their new country was battling for survival; to its salvation. The Czechs did as they were ordered until they became too exhausted to fight on for foreign interests and they remained in Russia until 1920. Only when they let go of the capitalist lies and finally began to negotiate with the soviets were they met with the promised fraternal comradeship. By then, they’d long since missed out; on their country’s declaration of independence to its proclamation of a republic and finally; their country’s chance at Communism, sabotaged, once again, by foreign imperialism. However, I am getting a bit ahead of myself. Returning to June 1918.

Of all the Czech success, the greatest was the rise of counter-revolutionaries given their que by military victories throughout Russia. Members of the former provisional government, members of the constituent assembly, former officers and monarchists, constitutional democrats, mensheviks and Right SRs: All saw their opportunity to rise back to power rather than defend Russia against the interests of foreign invaders. Only the soviets and their government, with their army under the skilled orator and military organizer Leon Trotsky, stood against the foreign tide. Former members of these political factions found their majority sweeping to the white movements; counter-revolutionaries, banded together under one flag. Radical Marxists fighting alongside monarchists. Socialists fighting alongside moderates. In some regards, they were an honorable camp, they thought they were fighting for their country. Like the Czechs, they had been deceived and taken as fools by the back-stabbers and bourgeoisie that too served within the white armies, those who later fled in the white emigre, after the rest had died for their country, and made it bleed for the effort.

The Czechs had no other option but to fight; they saw it as the only way to independence. They trusted their officers whom they had fought along side for years. They trusted their leaders. Such unwavering spirit and discipline was what made the Czech mutiny much more a serious threat than any other individual white movement. They set an example and in their eyes; they liberated a piece of Russia, where, behind them, the enemies of the Bolsheviks (supposedly the fighters for freedom) could rally. They differed from Kornilov, Kaledin and Dutov before them, Denikin, Wrangel, Yudenich and Kolchack after them, and came superior to them, because they lead by example, not by force. So on June the 8th, the same day a red attack was beaten off Samara, a meeting was held there which officially formed ‘KOMUCH’ the Committee of Former Members of the Constituent Assembly. Inspired by victories against the Bolsheviks, they hoped to ‘liberate’ Russia with the help of the friendly Czechs.

V.K.Volsky - chairman, Ivan Brushvit, Prokopiy Klimushkin, Boris Fortunatov and Ivan Nesterov

Despite lacking in strength and public popularity to take up control of just Samara without legion support, they claimed sovereignty over all Russia until the constituent assembly could be regathered and a new government formed. With legion protection, the KoMuch developed a small base of support within the upper class of Samara and later the Volga region. They would develop a small army to fight against the Bolsheviks, trying to enact strict discipline which, rather than tight organization, let to disintegration of morale. The Komuch became highly loathed among the peasant population (80% of Russia versus 1-2% upper class) for returning land to the kulacks and abolishing many pro-peasant reforms, then supporting these laws with armed repressions.

The Czech legion’s actions showed their influence again and again, these were only the latest uprisings, as far back as May their actions were mass protests and conspiracy (I believe I touched on this before). On May 10th a conspiracy by the right SRs, was discovered and prevented. Meanwhile strikes by anarchists and SRs occurred with higher frequency and level of violence throughout Russia. One in Tsaritsyn (Stalingrad/Volgograd) got particularly violent on May 15th. Later in June, general Dutov, a former general that had fought against the soviet power, returned to Orenburg to once again lead his cossacks against the people of the Urals.

The same day as the failure of the red armies at Samara and Omsk, the establishment of KoMuch and the great expansion of support for Dutov’s bands; June 8th, the Supreme military council and People’s commissariat for military affairs ruled on the first compulsory service order in soviet history. Workers and peasants within certain age groups from the Moscow and Volga districts, who had already been given partial training, were called up for immediate completion of their military training and upon this; front-line service against the Czechs and the counter-revolutionaries. The call-up was completed with great success in only six days. The effects of this mobilization would be seen months after, when the additional training, technical supply and ideological preparations are complete and when the fight for Kazan is raging in the month of August. By then, the Red army will number one million men.

On June 9th, the Czech Siberian and Omsk armies linked up at Tatarskaya station. After a meeting by the Czech officers it was decided that that the Czech occupation must be strengthened and expanded to Vladivostok for communication and cohesion with the Japanese (and other interventionist forces in the near future), the establishing of consistent supply lines with the west- and of course, to be able to promise the somewhat weary Czech troops that the prospect of going home must be near. While the Komuch strengthened their political hold on the Volga and began ushering in serious political reform (and repression), the Czechs began their train trek east. For the first time it seemed to the Czech soldiers that they were finally going to the western front. But in the head-quarters, the officers knew the deception on the young boys that they were playing. They were heading to Vladivostok so as to better fight in Siberia, the Urals and the Volga, where half of the army still remained.

Here lies the true hypocrisy of the west in their talks about the Czechoslovak legion. They claim to want to return the legion to the west front and their new country, yet when the Czechs are geared to do this, they are resupplied, given a helping hand of Japanese thieves and told to march on. Their leaders, had no other choice but to willingly deceive their own soldiers. It was their only way of maintaining power and reaping the benefits of their future country for some, and the only way of ever seeing it for most. Or rather, that was the western allies happened to claim, and they happened to believe.

An order by the supreme military council and people’s military commissariat on June 13th reflects the dire situation caused by sudden uprisings of counter revolutionaries and assaults by Czechoslovaks. This sudden upsurge of counter-revolution was without-a-doubt given blessing from the west, motivation by Czech victories and organizational impulse by Russian bourgeoisie. With few notable exceptions (such as Tambov but thats way in the future and has nothing to do with Czechs) the disorder was not supported by proletarians, who’d come disillusioned with the opposition after they began to see the real life embodiment of the much coined term ‘enemy of the people:’ a foreign soldier shooting mother Russia, and a Russian soldier giving him ammunition. This is clearly reflected in the sinking popularity of underground parties once they began armed counter revolutionary activities, especially amongst upper middle class which were normally the most sympathetic to them.

Even as the Czech army expanded in the East, its fight in the Ural and Volga continued. June the 19th, Syzran changed hands once more, falling to the Bolsheviks in a costly offensive and falling back into the hands of the Czechs after a counter attack. Battles for Syzran were over the rail link to Central Asia located there and as a result of the fighting, most of the wagons there were damaged or destroyed and Turkmenistan was left isolated. That same day, violent riots inspired by Czech and KoMuch victories were staged by the Right SRs in Tambov and Kozlov oblasts.

A Czech unit near a train car.

On June 23rd after a heated battle with a Bolshevik army, the Czechs seized Ufa, another important city. At one point the Czechs had conquered Ufa along with its surrounding cities in the Volga, but the determined soviet counterattacked and liberated the city. Months ago, they had been threatening the Czechs to give up most of their arms or they’d stop their movement east- now they were under assault from the Czechoslovaks and their supporters from three fronts. The Czechs had been struggling against a particularly stubborn resistance by the local Soviet, but Ufa, surrounded by the now Czech-held strongholds of Samara, Chelyabinsk and Orenburg, sieged by Dutov’s Cossacks, KoMuch forces and the Czech legion, finally crumbled under the weight of concentrated offensive. Now, without Ufa in the middle of their business (see map) the Czechs could advance north; to Perm and Yekaterinburg, the latter of which was the key to the Urals, a vastly important center of commerce, transport and industry while the former, Perm is the link between Yekaterinburg and Kazan. Holding Kazan would give the Czechs the most desirable position from which to invade the heartland of Russia. Upon its capture, Ufa became a headquarters for the Polish 5th rifle division, which would fight amongst the whites, Czechs and other counter-Bolsheviks in Russia.

The 29th of June, 1918 became a key date in the Czech campaign. That day general Mikhail Diterikhs and his Czechoslovak force finally entered Vladivostok. First, it should be mentioned that they took the train, they didn’t march all the 4500 miles in 20 days. Contrary to popular depiction of the Czechs, while they fought (and fought well) on foot, control of the railway system was a major contributor to their success as well as Russian famines which greatly tarnished the soviet government. Russia’s heartland was cut off from Ukraine by the Germans, the Caucasus by the whites and mercenaries and now; Siberia, by the Czech legion and with all its primary sources of grain, Russia faced peril. In 1920, the book I mentioned at the beginning of the text called the Czech campaigns ‘the greatest military maneuver in history.’ While of course I cannot blame the Czechs for living before the Chinese Long march, which traversed 8000 miles through mountains, canyons, wastelands and swamps on FOOT. One must still remember that most of the Czechs transport was done by train, and that transit for them was rest while transit for Russian soldiers was labor. Carrying on- the Czechs entered Vladivostok. From here, they’d left small units all along the trans-Siberian railways to guard their supplies that would now transit here. Not exactly leaving like the French and English had ‘intended’ instead of passenger ships, supply ships were awaiting the Czechoslovaks in Vladivostok ports. The Czechs unloaded their provisions, knowing that with these they were to charge into battle in a war that was not theirs, AGAIN.

Despite the parade, morale was now more questioning and depressive than enthusiastic. Regardless, the Czechs would have to fight on, it was the only way out, so their officers say.

Here the Czechs received their new orders from the imperialists of the French, English and American stock-exchanges. They were to take Irkutsk, a soviet held city that was launching attacks along Czech positions at rail stations. They were to hold Syzran and establish a link with the Basmachi rebels across central Asia. They were to move on Yekaterinburg, the vital centre of the Urals, the equivalent of what Omsk had been for Siberia and Samara for the Volga. From there, they would advance to Perm and then Kazan. These would be done in order to gain the best position from which to form an incursion into Moscow and Petrograd. The Czechs were promised support from the North by an Anglo-French expeditionary force. They would jointly siege then link up at Kazan. The joint siege never occurred; the Czechs took Kazan themselves along with the white guards and other counter-revolutionaries but weren’t able to hold on long enough for English and French support. Once again, the Czechoslovaks had been deceived by their western allies, but they chose still not to negotiate with Russia and continued to die for a cause that was never theirs. Their attempts to enter central Asia and link up with Basmachi proved disasterous, and eventually the Basmachi would actually raid the few Czech wagons that ever entered central Asia. Anyway, that’s getting a bit ahead of the matter again.

On that same date, the 29th, another historic event occurred. Alongside the KoMuch had stood the Provisional Government of Autonomous Siberia. On this date, they were reformed into Provisional Siberian Government, headed by Pyotr Vologodskiy and his council of ministers at Omsk. This was an opportunity granted by the Czech occupation of Omsk just as the Czech occupation of Samara, while suppressing the reds, supported the whites and granted them some small sovereignty so as to legitimize their cause in the eyes of Russians. Instead of pledging to become a serious military arm and instilling strict discipline (neither of which the PSG had capacity of actually doing) the government pursued a policy of reconstruction and reestablishment of economics. This was very much contrary to the ideas held by KoMuch in their strongholds. For the most part, little was done, but Siberia fared far better than the Volga region, which was in a ceaseless spiral downward due to heavy warfare, uprising and armed repression. Meanwhile, Siberia made a modest industrial gain and put workers back in factories. The fourteen-man cabinet which ruled the PSG and came to include the future dictator and head of the Siberian/eastern front Admiral Kolchak and became unpopular with its ruling class rather than its working class, despite making at least SOME progress. Soon enough, the upper class, supporting the Right SRs, would seize power.

Czech soldiers being inspected at Vladivostok

The Anglo-French intervention began on the Murman coast on July 1st. This was only a few days after the Czech force’s arrival at Vladivostok and meeting with foreign agents. The perfect cohesion of these two drives against Soviet Russia is a clear indicator of their planned partnership. It had long become clear that no Czechoslovak soldier wanted to fight in Russia- he wanted to fight against Austria, in the Balkans, to help liberate his country, he wanted to see that country as soon as he could. Yet his leaders, the Czech officers, deceived him and worked for the interests of the Anglo-French, rather than that of the Czech soldier. Later it would become clear that the intervention had happened under the guise of ‘protecting the Czechoslovaks from active German-Austrian prisoners’ And ‘establishing a path to the western front through Murmansk.’ The landings on the Murman coast increasingly threatened Soviet Russia. Now she was fighting a war on all four surrounding fronts. The Anglo-French expedition could easily link up with the Finnish whites near Iiomantsi and with the Czechs at Kazan, then march south to take Petrograd, the second most important city in Soviet Russia. The threat of such a move drew away the scarce-running Soviet armies to the north. Meanwhile, the fighting on the east was once again heating up. Small Czech patrols were encountering raiders from Irkutsk and Ussuriysk soviets. The Czechoslovak 5th and 8th regiments rushed north-west to quell the resistance.

Ussuriysk came first, it was closer to Vladivostok. The two Czech regiments, despite facing some of the most developed proletarians in the east, crushed the weak soviet by June 5th. By the next day, Czech forces counter attacked at Irkutsk. Though not seeming a weak fighter, the Irkutsk soviet disintegrated and the major industrial rail center came under the control of the Czechoslovaks. Here they proclaimed official control of around half the trans-Siberian rail system, having unrestricted control and stable management of all the railways between the Volga region (east Europe) to Irkutsk (Russian Far East in East Asia). Later, after some of Semynov’s raiders are put in line, this control was too expanded from Irkutsky to Chita and Chita to Vladivostok. Semyenov agreed to share the Chita region now with the Czechs as well as the Japanese. That same day, Russian leftists murdered the German ambassador count Von Mirbach in Moscow, sparking tensions with Germany. Also, after having defeated the Ussuriysk Soviet, all Czech forces East of Lake Baikal consolidated for a renewed offensive at the last bastion of resistance to their rule of the rails between Volga and the Pacific: the Baikal regional soviet.

Climax

July 14th the Czechoslovaks launch their only naval battle in Czechoslovakian history. Czech forces advanced along the coastal tunnels and bypassed the lake with boats to capture bridges being held by the red army.

The tunnels by lake Baikal served by major bridges, with railroad tracks running around both sides of the lake and a strategically important position by a drydock/port. The red navy held six small boats in lake Baikal, they guarded the major bridges and patrolled the coasts, the red army force on the ground had prepared a layered defense and some fortifications. This combined force seemed to hold an impregnable position. The Czechoslovaks organized a unique plan to destroy the seemingly unbreakable position in the middle of their railroad. Having made some rafts out of wood, they planned flanking and diversionary amphibious landings around the drydock. They mounted some artillery on the mobile lake rafts but still relied on some from coastal bombardment. The operation began on July 14th.

The Czechs had to improvise; they grabbed what that could find and made a make-shift amphibious force.

The brilliant plan was carried out cohesively and in a highly organized manner. The best of Czech officers had personally planned it and participated; shelling was extraordinarily precise, landings came with excellent timing. Most of the Bolshevik ground force was killed and three of the gunboats were destroyed, the remainder of the force escaped on the other three to north Baikal. It was the perfect battle, for the Czechs. In two days of particularly brutal fighting with high loss of life by both sides, the Czechs had cleared the Lake Baikal railways of Bolsheviks and now only Semyenov and his savages stood in the way of their absolute dominance of Siberia.

As I said; improvisation.

Immediately afterward, the Czechs marched to Chita and confronted the cossack bandit and white general Grigoriy Semyenov. The rouge’s forces had been terrorizing the local population and holding the Chita railways from Czechoslovak use. Despite holding an army of over 50,000 men, the Czech men managed to persuade the bandit into giving up his railways to Czech policing and use. His criminal domain over the innocent workers and peasants of the Russian Far East, remained.

Around the 8th of July, when the revolt of the left SRs began in Moscow, the Czech army launched their attack on yet another large, industrial Russian town; Simbirsk. Simbirsk was surrounded by defense emplacements and protected by a strong red army. At the start of the battle, the Czech offensive did not go as planned and failed to capture the city.

Meanwhile the war on the Volga continued to intensify, new battles arose, breaking Russia to the bone, and grinding away at the Czech resolve with each battle. Another brutal battle occurred at Syzran, this time the Bolsheviks  held the city for several days before it was reconquered by the Czechoslovaks on the 10th of July.

The next day, when Red general Muravyov heard of the ill-fated revolt of the Left SRs on July 8th, he retreated his forces in an attempt to support the revolt and capture Moscow for his party, the Left SRs. However, his troops did not support him and he was shot resisting arrest. As a result, the bulk of the red forces fighting around Simbirsk had been misplaced and the Czechs captured very valuable ground. Immediately, the red forces returned to their posts to combat the Czechoslovaks in some of the most difficult fighting of the Czech revolt.

Czechs in a City

The Czechs, in early 1918 were by far superior to the Red army on the individual level because of vast supremacy in training and equipment. However, toward the summer and fall of the year, these advantages began to severely falter.

That same day, July the 11th, the Czechs began their drive north toward Yekaterinburg, the last capital of the Ural-Volga-Siberia district that the Czechoslovaks had not yet conquered. Meanwhile, in Yaroslav oblast; Murom, Azarmas and Rybinsk several red army units defect to the whites in the ‘Yaroslav revolt’ they are joined by militias of Right SRs and monarchist officers from all over Yaroslav. Mutineers soon overtook the HQ at Yaroslavl and directed their army against the people’s soviets. The sudden disappearance of one of the red army’s forward forces that might have that day become crucial in the fight with the Czechs, deeply angered the high command and several units are dispatched to crush the revolt. Intense fighting encumbers the west Siberian front as numerous offensives and operations are carried out.

On the 16th of June, Czech forces battle in the outskirts of Yekaterinburg, facing slow progress, difficult fighting against some urban barriers and heavy casualties. Meanwhile in the headquarters of the Yekaterinburg soviet a telegraph from Moscow appears, an order from the Central Executive Committee, signed by the chairman Yakov Sverdlov: liquidate the Romanovs. Nicolas II, his wife, four daughters, son and maid are taken into a basement, read the order from the central executive committee, approval from the Ural executive committee (Uralispolkom) upon which a firing squad appeared and executed the last of the Romanov dynasty. The next day, Czech forces broke through soviet defenses and captured Yekaterinburg, to find no martyr for the white cause, for most of them, weren’t ever monarchists. Yet it was the symbol around which the whites would rally which Lenin wanted to decline them, when he and Sverdlov agreed on the decision, and sent that Yekaterinburg telegraph.

The last of the Romanovs were repeatedly shot by a firing squad of the Yekaterinburg soviet. After some firing most of the family remained alive so the squad moved in with bayonets.

During the battles of July and later the campaign for Kazan in August, the difficulty of maintaining supply lines and constantly provisioning soldiers became a massive issue for both sides of the conflict. The Czechs were receiving aid from the Anglo-French through the Trans-Siberian railway which the Czechs had fought to secure. Vladivostok-Khabarovsk-Chita-Irkutsk-Novonikolaevsk-Omsk-Chelyabinsk-Ufa-Samara: All the most vital cities along the trans-Siberian railway, now being supplied by the thousands of trains under Czech control, cities and trains which Czech and Russians had toiled and died for, now finally in desperate need, and finding themselves collapsing all over. The Czechs struggled to maintain order along the 6000 mile railway. And the reds issued a decree on the 20th of July, for organizing ‘rear levies’ essentially compulsory labor service for those non-eligible to serve in the army; counter revolutionaries, political dissidents, church clergy members etc. These would serve the Red Army’s auxilary necessities, and after a year’s service in one of the auxilary units, the former counter-revolutionary would be rehabilitated and allowed to join the work force, party and army. The mobilization wasn’t as effective as necessary, but it would be enough- with the shrinking length of red supply lines -to support the red army.

On the 21st of July, Yaroslav cracked. Several frontline positions of the whites surrendered, some fled, the rest; overrun. The red army rushed into Yaroslav, slaughtering the white mutineers, former comrades in arms. The combat was most savage, many soldiers tried to surrender, a good many were butchered in the streets. They fled and were herded into the river where they were shot at, keeping them away from the firing lines on the shores. They all drowned. 300 mutineers who had joined the revolt then surrendered during the revolt’s liquidation were assembled in Yaroslavl (the capital of Yaroslav oblast), placed in neat, orderly rows, and all murdered on the spot, before the eyes of Yaroslav’s workers and peasants.

Whites and Czechoslovaks fighting at Simbirsk were outraged when the Czech officers fed to them the story of Yaroslav. With a new vigour and resolve they charged toward Red emplacements which had been slowly crumbling as the whites had creped nearer and nearer under intense crossfire. By the next day, the 22nd, they were near enough. The white army charged and drove the red army out of the city as the fight just seemed to be entering its urban stage. Czech and Right SR propagandist exploitation of massacres like Yaroslav and Yekaterinburg greatly encouraged many Russians with white inclinations to join the Czechoslovaks. The battles of Simirsk and Yaroslav witnessed increased participation by white, particularly monarchist forces, versus purely Czech armies.

Meanwhile, in Moscow, panic ushered through the ranks of the Soviet command. The Supreme military council and People’s Commissariat for military affairs, were placed under great pressure; the military dilemma loomed. On every front the red army was running in the face of white advance. All but the very heart of Russia were now in imperialist hands of the Japanese, of the murderer and criminal Semyenov, of the Czechoslovak legions, the British in the North, the French and Germans in Ukraine, the Germans and Turks in the Caucasus. Their proxies and other independent movements held the rest; the north Caucasus, such as the movement of the German proxy Krasnov and his Cossack bands or the free enemy of Krasnov; the Mountainous Republic of the North Caucasus. There was a drastic need for a victory, chiefly, one to break the back of the Czech legions and return rapidly slipping morale to soviet forces. The fight for Yaroslav had left a battle-hardened revolutionary army left on an unimportant strand of land, meanwhile, units outside Yekaterinburg were still fighting with revolutionary resolve on the outskirts of the city. The Czechs dare not stray from their railways, so their engagement was limited, and they had not driven the army out. The people’s commissariat for military affairs, headed by Leon Trotsky, decided to take advantage of both situations. The Yaroslav army would be pushed to back up the units fighting in and around Yekaterinburg and retake it. The Central executive committee and Uralispolkom (Ural Central committee) approved, sending the army to reinforce the battle for Yekaterinburg. Here the advantage went in the favor of the soviets. And here, a massive blunder occurred. The poorly planned charge of the hastily replenished army, fell right where they were expected; within the zone of Czech artillery fire and railways, guarded by armored trains. The attack staggered, and was completely repulsed by the 25th of July. It was, once again, a pathetic defeat for the red army and it put the revolution in grave danger.

Czech Train-mounted Artillery, the death of many a red soldier

The next few days were quite hectic. It seemed the soviet government was on the verge of collapsing; its armies, despite growing and arming rapidly with the vast reserves of old tsarist weapons, seemed weak and fleeting. It was long time to act, but every new action brought disaster. On the 29th of July, a special joint cession was held by the central executive committee, the Moscow soviet and many other political organizations.

The atmosphere was tense. One could feel the imperialists tightening their noose around the soviets. In the north, the British and French marched on Archangelsk. In the east, the Czechs had taken Simbirsk and Yekaterinburg, despite stubborn red army resistance, revolutionary discipline and cohesive central planning. The failures were great, and the red army was routing. In the south, independent movements like the mountainous republic and Chechnya reigned. Then the imperialists; the British/Turkish interventions, and their proxies, such as Krasnov’s cossack armies as German hirelings also took chunks of Russia out of the Bolshevik rule. Despite the best efforts, soviet Russia, was now restricted to just the very heart of Russia. Everything else had been cut off, stolen, and now under the imperialist yoke.

Leon Trotsky, before heading off to the front, gave a speech before all present. The speech called into the light all the facts of the matter, and showed the way by which the soviets must go. The speech was of enormous influence, as it showed the great objects and threats which endangered Russia, their strengths, their vulnerabilities, and truly presented a feasible plan. His efforts in organizing the red army hadn’t gone without merit. There remained of course, deserters and defeatists in the army, but they too had been forced to see the grave danger of their country’s situation. They knew the reprisals would be strong, and they feared the soviet power, they feared the revolutionary discipline which had been established so they remained quiet with their objections and they failed to desert in the critical hour. This was why the average soldier, after reading the reports at the front, after hearing the speeches of the commissars, found himself much more drawn by the opposite end of the camp; the true soldiers, those that always fought with courage for the revolution, for the people’s rule. Morale was miraculously saved and as the red forces retreated, their supply lines shortened. They were now in direct access to old tsarist storehouses, and while their weapons may not be the most cutting-edge, they were in immense supply. The soldiers of the red army were now excellently trained and battle ready. Propagandistic, disciplinary and rigorous ideological preparation put the army in the best shape it’d ever been. The motherland was in danger, and it was time to strike a mortal blow to the enemy. I highly recommend that you read the full speech in the link at the top of the paragraph, it will be instrumental to understanding the dire situation of that very day in history.

The deciding battle of the Czech campaign would be fought at Kazan. Kazan; the bridge to the heart of Russia; Moscow and Novgorod lie just ahead. Kazan was the pinnacle of the Volga which spread all throughout European Russia, controlling it meant ruling the rivers. Kazan, would provide the crucial link with the Anglo-French expedition in the North, their supplies, their reinforcements. Indeed Kazan was central to the imperialist plan to conquer Russia and subjugate the revolution. So the battle of Soviet Russia and all its opponents rightly culminates here.

But whilst the whites relished and awaited eagerly, they were not yet a mature force. The most significant white army was that of general Krasnov, they fought in the South. They were an extremely experienced and motivated, as well as provisioned (by the Germans) force of 40,000 men. Yet they refused to work with any other white army, their service for for their own Don Cossack host, supported by several old tsarist army units. Semyenov’s cossacks in the east, were too busy plundering Russia and raiding train stations to give a damn about the reds. Dutov’s cossacks with the Czechs, after several battles; were proven immobile and ineffective. Exhausted, they stayed in the cities they conquered as guards and marauders. The KoMuch army, despite controlling a land of 12 million, only numbered 30,o00 troops and lacked any real combat readiness. Their support for the Czechoslovaks was menial and nearly meaningless. PGA, kept its army in Siberia, suppressing peasant revolts and guarding their sections of the railway, straying far from the conflict in European Russia. The only significant help to the Czechs were Right SR and monarchist militias, formed in the cities they occupied. However, these militias were very shaky, inadequately armed (there was no one to arm them) and though some were very well experienced and trained former officers, for the most part, without the Czechs these units would crumble.

Meanwhile the Czechs came to hate their stay in Russia more and more. They wanted to be elsewhere, fighting Austria, for their freedom, instead they faced more and more brutality and increasing shortage of supplies. 6000 miles of railway with hundreds of thousands of organized bandits raiding it weren’t the most favorable conditions for an army of only 100,000. The Czechs still hadn’t seen the worst of it, their first atrocities, their first defeats, their first Russian winter; they had all this to look forward to. For what? Hollow promises from officers? Promises they’d already failed to fulfill? The Czechs had been promised evacuation from Russia through Vladivostok, yet when they reached it, they were sent through the whole of Asia into combat once more. Old friends were suddenly gone and guaranteed supplies were suddenly shrinking. Indeed the lines had been stretched too far, and now, it was time to pay up. Thinly stretched soldiers on the key bridges and trains of the legion were being slaughtered by massive bands of cossacks or bandits, and their cargo stolen. While the Czechs on the front weren’t yet demoralized, there certainly was a lack of once abundant enthusiasm in the legionaries as they moved toward their next battle.

Two armies converged on Kazan. In the midst of intense warfare in the heart of Russia and the rapid degradation of the situations both north and south, the All-Russia Central Executive Committee passed a resolution on Trotsky’s speech. With that, the commander of the red army headed toward Kazan, where the fate of the revolution rested upon the troops now organizing its defense. Indeed, the fight here would be decisive to modern history.

To be continued

Sources

The Czech Legion Project : For many photographs and some minor information. Specifically about life of Czech soldiers, officers and the battle for Baikal. I watched the film advertised on the site too.

Tortsky’s “How the Revolution Armed” : For key information on the red army, the solid timeline, the characterization of imperialist partnership (Japan, England, France, America and Czech legion), several speeches and other documents and most of all, the general charachterization of the Czech revolt’s nature. Specifically: The section on the Czech legion.

This Article : for general information.

This Site : for general information and timeline.

Parts of this book : I read it a while ago and this time, I only skimmed through it for general stuff I needed.

This chapter of “Great Events of the Great War” : For general portrayal of western view on the Czechoslovak legion and general information.

On a quick note; this post is in no way intended to discredit the Czech legion, I don’t believe I’ve ever failed to mention the scale and grandeur of their campaign nor the immense courage of their soldiers. What I’m trying to point out here is the exploitation of these soldiers by the west against Soviet Russia and the true impact of their movements. I believe I’ve done THIS most satisfactory, since I’m about the first person on the internet to both accuse and credit the Czech legions… thanks for reading.

It’s this Simple

In Uncategorized on May 2, 2011 at 11:34 pm

How to deal with LR:

And you’re done!

Review: “How the Revolution Armed” -Leon Trotsky

In Reviews on April 26, 2011 at 8:56 pm

Before launching the project, I’ve done quite a bit of research on the matter at hand. Primarily, I’m reading the series of books “How the Revolution Armed” (I-V) by Leon Trotsky.

You can search them up here at the Trotsky Internet Archive: http://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/works/index.htm A complication of all the works by Leon Trotsky.

Or, I’ll bring up all five up for you;

PART I (1917-1918)

PART II (1919)

PART III (1920)

PART IV (1921)

PART V (1922-1925)

“How the Revolution Armed” is a complication of speeches, articles, telegraphs, letters, orders and military documents of the Red army, all written by- you guessed it: the People’s Commissar for Military and Naval Affairs, Leon Trotsky. A lot of popular rhetoric misinterprets or confuses history, when public opinion, analysis and press attention get thrown into the fray, it very much distorts the truth. What you have here is a real account of what happened, as it was happening. Those speeches were said in front of the All-Russia Congress of Soviets, the strongest branch of Soviet government. Those telegraphs were sent from great leader to great politician. Those orders were sent from commander to soldier. In short; these books depict the red army exactly as it was, because they don’t try to depict it at all, they only show the papers and signatures of the era, YOU rule on them.

When reading these texts, you can really get a feel for the times and atmosphere they were written in. It’s a very ideologically… strong sort of atmosphere, since, these are of course matters of revolution; life or death. While the text IS about the red army, there’s a lot of Communist/political talk in the speeches, it’s supposed to be very serious, but at times (especially if you don’t know Russian and don’t get what he might have been trying to say) it just sounds ridiculous. But very interesting, if you can put some things aside! At times it may become very confusing and some further research will be necessary. What’s at hand is a very complex text, it takes quite a bit of thought. Very difficult is it to just read and simply understand, and still yet not get drawn into questions of “wait is this right?” “did he really just say that?” “did he mean that in a ‘good’ way?” “was it so?”

There are a few minor mistranslations and quite a few things I find a bit distasteful about the writing; but nevertheless, this is probably the best account of the red army in those years. There aren’t that many to chose from anyway. One has to be quite knowledgeable to get the full gist of what Trotsky’s writing about. A lot of times I’ll be reading and it says “Order by the Revolutionary War committee” and I think to myself; Okay, I know these guys exist, they were created a few months back, but it said nothing concrete about the authorities they had, the responsibilities, it’s members, it’s purpose. Those kinds of thinks come a long sometimes. Overall, one has to accept that at a time, these were only available to the highest offices in Soviet government, and reading this whole thing is a learning experience, not a debate (like I felt myself always wanting it to be). One also has to understand what sort of context this text was written in; its not an encyclopedia, these are wartime documents, reliance on the influence of whom might decide the fate of a nation. When it brands a political party saboteurs and calls enemies ‘enemies’- this is to be expected, no one makes a revolutionary propaganda poster saying “well we might be arch enemies but there are quite a few interesting people I’d love to sit down, have a beer with, in the enemy camp.” Don’t come expecting a well-rounded fairly-unbiased analysis.

What the book does best is carefully documenting the spirit and motion within the Soviet government, rather than giving a detailed account of the war. Though there’s a lot of talk about the war, military actions are only momentarily brought up while theory and counter-theory behind them are throughly discussed. At times this is not the case at all, but at times it is, and it can get quite irritating. One constantly feels like at the center of everything is ideology; politics, economics and warfare all revolve around it; but that’s a good thing that it’s written that way, just an unusual one. The book is written within the frames of Kremlin politics, but public opinion is still very much talked about. I would very much like though, to have a more ‘normal proletarian’ view of it all, rather than a politician-in-a-suit’s thoughts on that sort of view. That’s really where the text truly lacks.

“How the Revolution Armed” is still an excellent account by any standard, of a very crucial time. Long and sometimes quite naggy as it might be, I recommend it. If you’re a (military) history-buff, Communist or Kremlinologist; definite must-read. I’ve already read part I, I’ll be sure to get to the rest! Eventually…

Other texts I will soon be reading/reviewing:

“Ten days that Shook the World” on the October Revolution by John Reed.

“History of the Russian Revolution to Brest Litovsk” by Leon Trotsky.