Ritual of Liquidation: The Case of the Moscow Trials

By Nathan C. Leites; Elsa Bernaut | Go to book overview
Save to active project

CHAPTER 13 The Equivalence of Means

As we have already seen, the defendants largely admitted the charge of having used, or planned to use, the extreme means of terrorism, wrecking, espionage and high treason.1*2* We shall now discuss various factors making specifically for such admissions, in addition to the more generally operating factors already mentioned.3*

According to Bolshevik doctrine it is prohibited to choose between political means on grounds other than expediency. Hence the distinction between moderate and extreme means is, usually, irrelevant. The Party must be able to pass from any method to any other method of "struggle" without a sense of discontinuity. In 1920 Lenin said about "the struggle against the bourgeoisie":

". . . at any moment it may--and does, as experience has already shown--substitute criticism with weapons for the weapon of criticism." ( Theses on the Fundamental Tasks of the Second Comintern Congress.)4

The position--held in common by the Party leadership and the opposition-- appeared in the trials in the guise of a peculiar property of the defendants (and mostly as a matter of moral turpitude). In his speech for the prosecution in the first trial Vishinsky said:

"There is a small detail which is of some importance for defining the moral, or, if you will, the ideological level of . . . Kamenev. . . .

"I would like to mention one of the books of Machiavelli (volume 1). It was published in 1934 by the Academia Publishing House, of which Kamenev was then the head, and has a preface by Kamenev. It is a very interesting book. It was written in the 16th century. The author wrote it for a prince. . . . Machiavelli wrote: 'You must know that there are two ways of contending, by law and by force: the first is proper to men; the second to beasts.

"'But because many times the first is insufficient, recourse must be had to the second. A prince must possess the nature of both beast and man.'

"This pleased Kamenev very much, and in his . . . preface to this book he wrote . . .: 'A master of political aphorism and a brilliant dialectician. . . .' [dots in text]. . . . This hardened schemer turns out to be a dialectician! . . . A fine aphorism indeed! . . .

". . . Kamenev writes further: [dots in text] '. . . A dialectician who from his observations had formed the firm opinion that all . . . criteria of good and evil, of the permissible and impermissible, of the lawful and criminal were relative. . . .' [dots in text]. . . . according to Kamenev . . . mixing up what is criminal

-182-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Ritual of Liquidation: The Case of the Moscow Trials
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 518

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?