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The Lost Voice of Iulii Martov

NOVEMBER, 2022 – To students of twentieth-century Russian history, the name Vladimir Il’ich Lenin is a constant, and inevitable, presence. But the name Iulii Osipovich Tsederbaum—better known through the pseudonym “Iulii Martov”—is either entirely absent from view or present only as a mysterious, and often unsavoury, figure. Prior to the revolution of 1917, this would not have been the case. Boris Souvarine would until 1924 be a close collaborator with Lenin. But for Souvarine and others of his generation growing up in France, “Lenin was only an indistinct reference point. Very few people had even heard of him. Trotsky, Martov and Lozovsky were better known.”[1] However, Lenin’s Bolshevik wing of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (Rossiiskaia sotsial-demokraticheskaia rabochaia partiia, or RSDRP) achieved state power, while Martov and the Menshevik wing of the party were suppressed. That suppression was intense, and Martov’s writings almost entirely disappeared from view—a remarkable feat given that Martov was a very prolific author.

The above is the first paragraph of the introduction to a new translation of Iulii Martov’s World Bolshevism.[2] The complete text can be found here.

[1] Michel Surya, Georges Bataille: An Intellectual Biography (London: Verso, 2002), 160.
                  Boris Souvarine (né Boris Konstantinovich Lifschits, 1895-1984) was a cofounder of the French Communist Party and, from May 1921 until January 1925, a resident in Moscow—where he “became a member of three of the leading bodies of the Comintern,” acronym for the Third or Communist International. Ibid., 161.
                  In the early years following the Russian Revolution of 1917, the name of Leon Trotsky (né Lev Davidovich Bronstein, 1879-1940) was as widely known as that of Vladimir Lenin (né Vladimir Il’ich Ul’ianov, 1870-1924). From the mid-1920s on, Trotsky came to symbolize the socialist opposition to Stalin and Stalinism. A victim of Stalin’s Great Terror, Trotsky was forcibly exiled from the Soviet Union in 1929 and assassinated by a Soviet agent in 1940. Unlike many victims of the Great Terror, he has never been “rehabilitated.” Nelson P. Lande, “Posthumous Rehabilitation and the Dust-Bin of History,” Public Affairs Quarterly 4, no. 3 (1990): 267.
                  Alexander (or Solomon) Lozovsky (né Solomon Abramovich Dridzo, 1878-1952), is best known for his leading role in the Red International of Labour Unions (RILU). During the world war—in exile in Paris, along with Martov, Trotsky and others—he collaborated in the anti-war publication launched under the name Golos (The Voice). Arrested in 1949 on fabricated (and antisemitic) charges, he was executed in 1952—posthumously rehabilitated. Albert Resis, “Lozovskii, A.,” in The Modern Encyclopedia of Russian and Soviet History (Gulf Breeze, Fl: Academic International Press, 1981), 167–70; Reiner Tosstorff, The Red International of Labour Unions (RILU) 1920 – 1937, trans. Ben Fowkes, Historical Materialism Book Series (Leiden: Brill, 2016), 821–32.

[2] Iulii Martov, World Bolshevism, trans. Paul Kellogg and Mariya Melentyeva (1919; repr., Edmonton: Athabasca University Press, 2022).

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