Saturday, December 10, 2011

Comrade Zinoviev: Individual, Party and Truth

Analysis of a popular scene in Reds from a Marxist's perspective, John Reed as a Liberal, Zinoviev as Voice of Reason and here's the text from the film,

John Reed: “Yes well, I don’t allow people to take those liberties with what I write.”

Gregory Zinoviev: “Aren’t you propagandist enough to utilize what moves people most?”

JR: “I’m propagandist enough to utilize the truth.”

GZ: “And who defines this truth? You or the Party? Is your life dedicated to speaking for yourself or—”

JR: “You don’t talk about what my life is dedicated to.”

GZ: “Your life? You haven’t resolved what your life is dedicated to. You see yourself as an artist and at the same time a revolutionary. As a lover of your wife and as the spokesperson for the American Party.”

JR: “Zinoviev, if you don’t think a man can be an individual and be true to the collective, or speak for his own country and the International at the same time, or love his wife and still be faithful to the revolution, then you don’t have a self to give!”

GZ: “Would you be willing to give yourself to this revolution?”

JR: “When you separate a man from what he loves the most, what you do is purge what’s unique, and when you purge what’s unique in him, you purge dissent!”

GZ: “Comrade Reed…”

JR: “And when you purge dissent, you kill the revolution! Revolution is dissent! You don’t rewrite what I write!”


Reds sets up the individual v collective frame, and deconstructing it a popular theme for some (google Reds Zinoviev Reed). Zinoviev wins usually as Realist. Check the link.

It's a false frame though. The struggles not fidelity to individual v party, but fidelity to the truth, or falsehoods.

The picture above of Zinoviev in his mug shot at the start of the Great Purge. When truth came crashing in on him and he faced the existential reality we all face alone.

Footnote: I haven't read it yet, but a new book out on Baku: To See the Dawn: Baku, 1920-First Congress of the Peoples of the East (Communist International in Lenin's Time) A reprint of a 1993 Pathfinders Press pub, so readers will have to pick a bit for the truth I suspect. Still a good read I bet. If you're interested in this stuff...

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