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Rosmer was a French syndicalist who after the Russian Revolution became a member of the Comintern's executive committee and a leading organizer of the Red International of Trade Unions. This memoir, first published in France in 1952, covers Rosmer's long stays in the Soviet Union during 1920-24. Congresses of the International and other important gatherings are described with special attention to the difficulties of incorporating anarcho-syndicalists and ""ultra-lefts"" into the Comintern organization. Rosmer also anatomizes the new French Communist Party, whose cynical moderate leadership had come along for the ride out of the old Socialist Party. There are valuable descriptions of the Kronstadt uprising, of Communist meetings with the Socialist Internationals, and of individuals -- the shallow Radek, Zinoviev, the brainless Bela Kun, the shabby Browder are contrasted with the perspicacious Lenin and Trotsky, whose involvement in some Comintern mistakes Rosmer tends to slide past, but whose virtues are nonetheless convincing. Rosmer himself seems an honest, sensitive, jargon-free fellow who, as Tamara Deutscher notes in her introduction, was not a theoretical proficient, and -- for example in chronicling the insanity of the International's casual attitude toward fascism -- he has the benefit of hindsight. He is kindly (except for the case of German Communist Party leader Paul Levi) and this generosity makes all the more apparent the problems and muddles of the Comintern and the ebb of hope for European revolution. A valuable and fascinating documentary.

Pub Date: Jan. 4th, 1972
Publisher: Monthly Review Press