The Third International after Lenin

Monday, October 5, 2015

Homage to Kote Tsintsadze

"...In the summer of 1928, referring indirectly to himself and his illness, Kote wrote to me from Bakhchisaray: '...for many, many of our comrades and friends the thankless fate lies in store of ending their lives somewhere in prison or deportation. Yet in the final analysis this will be an enrichment of revolutionary history, from which a new generation will learn. The proletarian youth, when they come to know about the struggle of the Bolshevik Opposition against the opportunist wing of the party, will understand on whose side was the truth.'

"Tsintsadze could write these simple yet superb lines only in an intimate letter to a friend. Now that he is no longer alive, these lines may and must be published. They summarize the life and morality of a revolutionist of the highest caliber. They must be made public precisely so that the youth can learn not only from theoretical formulas but also from this personal example of revolutionary tenacity.

"The Communist parties in the West have not yet brought up fighters of Tsintsadze's type. This is their besetting weakness, determined by historical reasons but nonetheless a weakness. The Left Opposition in the Western countries is not an exception in this respect and it must well take note of it.

"Especially for the Opposition youth, the example of Tsintsadze can and should serve as a lesson. Tsintsadze was the living negation and condemnation of any kind of political careerism, that is, the inclination to sacrifice principles, ideas, and tasks of the cause for personal ends. This does not in the least rule out justified revolutionary ambition. No, political ambition plays a very important part in the struggle. But the revolutionary begins where personal ambition is fully and wholly subordinated to the service of a great idea, voluntarily submitting to and merging with it. Flirtation with ideas, dilettante dabbling with revolutionary formulations, changing one's views out of personal career considerations—these things Tsintsadze pitilessly condemned through his life and his death. His was the ambition of unshakable revolutionary loyalty. This is what the proletarian youth should learn from him."

-- from "At the Fresh Grave of Kote Tsintsadze" by Leon Trotsky (Jan. 1931)

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