Monday, July 22, 2013

Redemption by Tariq Ali (Picador 1990)

Ezra's letter was correctly addressed: 'Ms Emma Carpenter, General Secretary, Committee for Socialist Democracy'. Emma sipped her first coffee and smiled. And why not? She would go to Europe and hear what they all had to say. Then she would tell them a few things. She would meet a few old friends and come back. She looked at the letter again. No mention was made of fares. PISPAW had all the money in the world. They never needed aid. The Centre knew that the other groups in the States, and there were at least seven, would have to be subsidized.

She would give Ezra a ring from work later in the day. It would be nice, despite everything, to hear the old, familiar voice. Ezra's English, spoken in heavy Continental accents, always reminded Emma of her Jewish grandparents, who had migrated from Tsarist Russia between the revolutions of 1905 and 1917. They had both belonged to the left wing of the Mensheviks and, though they had regretted not being in Petrograd in October 1917, the feeling had not lasted more than a few years. Both had died natural deaths, at home in bed, while in their eighties. Emma had often argued with them, sometimes ferociously, but her father, apolitical and loving, always insisted on a truce. She shivered at the memory of how, during her PISPAW trial, some hack had said: 'Menshevism runs in her blood.'

Grandfather Moshe always used to tell her: 'You wait and see. In the end they'll be toppled by the people. The whole bloody lot of them. States can't float permanently on seas of blood. Sooner or later there will be a storm. One day, my little Emmushka, you will learn that the much-maligned Mensheviks were not so wrong when they warned against the Bolshevik adventure.' Emma used to provoke him, point to the rubbish can in the corner of the kitchen and say: 'Grandad, that's where the Mensheviks went. Straight into the dustbin of history.' Then old Moshe would lose his temper, curse Lenin as an 'amoral adventurer', denounce Trotsky as a 'ruthless fanatic' and insist that taken individual by individual, the Menshevik leaders were far better human beings than their Bolshevik counterparts. 'Can you even compare Martov to Zinoviev? he would shout, and before Emma could reply, her father would gently remove her from the room. That would temporarily end one skirmish in the ongoing battle between Bolshevism and Menshevism, which took place in quite a few kitchens in different cities of the United States.

1 comment:

Darren said...

pages 28-29

PISPAW stands for Proletarian International Socialist Party of American Workers.