Book Review: When and why did the Russian Revolution go wrong? Brian Pearce, with commentary by Terry Brotherstone

Variant Issue 36

The Russian Revolution in Retreat 1920-1924: the Soviet workers and the new Communist elite
By Simon Pirani, Routledge (London) 2008
ISBN: 978-0-415-43703-5
No. 45 in Routledge’s series of Russian and European studies.


Click to go to - a Pearce bibliography

In November 2008, Brian Pearce died, aged 93, at his north London home.1 This won’t mean much to most Variant readers. But Pearce’s life – largely unsung beyond a substantial circle of friends, intellectual and political contacts, and aficionados of the art of scholarly translation2 – deserves to be studied by everyone who thinks the lessons of the political tragedies of the 20th century must inform the making of the 21st. One of Pearce’s last articles was a review for Variant of Simon Pirani’s heroically researched The Russian Revolution in Retreat 1920-1924. The subject was of close personal interest to the reviewer as he reflected on his own life and the history he had lived through. The review follows, but first some context.

Born in 1915, Pearce’s life coincided with, and outlasted the long working-out of, the Russian Revolution of October 1917 – for many the defining political event of the 20th century. He joined the Communist Party of Great Britain as a London history student in the mid-1930s. He considered fighting with the International Brigades in Spain and later felt guilty about not having gone.3 After war service that took him to the working-class north of England, Northern Ireland and the Far East,4 he was for some years an important member of the now-famous Communist Party Historians’ Group.5 After a short post-war spell in the civil service, he became a professional Communist – first on the Daily Worker, then with the Anglo-Soviet Friendship Society,6 then as a teacher of English in the Soviet and Eastern European embassies in London.

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Convoy Reaches Gaza! WE HAVE BROKEN THE SIEGE!

7 January 2009 — Palestine Solidarity Committee

The Viva Palestine and PSC aid convoy arrived in Gaza last night at about 19:00pm, with thousands of Palestinians greeting and cheering the convoy to welcome them.

Congratulations to everyone taking part in the convoy and all of those here who raised funds for the trip to become a reality.  This has been a tremendous achievement and its importance is political as well as practical.

Thanks of course to the Reading PSC, Waltham Forest PSC, York PSC for their blogs and information which have kept us informed throughout the journey, we look forward to welcoming them and all the other participants back to Britain.  We hope that branches around the country will invite them to speak to get their message about Gaza out to the public.  Well done, Viva Palestina and Palestine Solidarity Campaign!

Reports here:

– Contact the media: Please phone and email the BBC, and other media, to ask for coverage of the Convoy’s arrival in Gaza.
– Please ask your MP to sign EDM 536 by Richard Burden MP

– Please organize local meetings about Gaza.  PSC and Viva Palestina can provide speakers –contact the PSC office to arrange for a speaker.

Financial support: Support the financial appeal on Viva Palestina website as the additional costs incurred because of the obstacles created by the Egyptian government are astronomical
Sign the PSC petition to end the siege on Gaza:

– January Gaza Events
There will be number of events in January to commemorate the first anniversary of Israel’s attacks on Gaza. These include the following:
– National Week of Boycott Actions  9 to 17 January
– Gaza One Year On – Rally Tuesday 19 January, Conway Hall
– Palestinian Memorial Week of events, starts with meeting on Wednesday13th in Friends House, London
– Brighton Demonstration on Monday 18th
Plus many more vigils, film screenings, meetings and concerts – Please visit the Events section on the PSC website to find out more!

Plus:  Appeal for Help: we need footage from last January’s demonstrations in London – Update on Britain’s War Crimes Warrants –  Lowkey New Single – Palestinian Child Prisoners – More News etc…

View the full update here:

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) aims to raise public awareness about the occupation of Palestine and the struggle of the Palestinian people. PSC seek to bring pressure on both the British and Israeli government to bring their policies in line with international law. PSC is an independent, non-governmental and non-party political organisation with members from communities across the UK. Join PSC today!

Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Tel:   020 7700 6192
Fax:  020 7609 7779

Viva Palestina Break the siege of Gaza!

6th January, 2010 — Viva Palestina

After days of pressure imposed by the Egyptian authorities the Viva Palestina Convoy have ‘triumphantly’ entered Gaza this evening!

Despite being attacked by Egyptian riot police at the port of Al Arish last night, the ‘strong willed’ convoy of humanitarians from all over the world carrying much needed medical aid to the people of Gaza went ahead and was greeted with cheers from hundreds of well-wishers carrying flowers, warm smiles and chanting Viva Palestina!

Having agreed to Egyptian demands, the convoy of 500 people re-routed their journey from Aqaba in Jordan (some seven days ago), after receiving guarantees of a safe passage to Gaza. The recent actions of the Egyptian police are shameful.

Earlier today at the Rafah border violence broke out as hundreds of Palestinians began throwing stones across the border at Egyptian security forces, who then fired back at the protesters. This was in retaliation to the way the activists were treated by Egyptian police.

Viva Palestina convoy leader Kevin Ovenden says – We are all emotional to see that all of Gaza are out to greet us! – Our Viva Palestina convoy is symbolic! It shows the Palestianian people just how much the people of the West do care. We come in peace to deliver humanitarian aid and we hope that our convoy (and convoy’s like ours) will help to build pressure on the Israeli government to break the siege.

The convoy aimed to cross the Rafah border into Gaza on 27 December 2009, to mark the first anniversary of the beginning of Israel’s 2008/9 land and air assault on Gaza, which killed 1,400 Palestinians in three weeks.

The Viva Palestina convoy is partnered with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and departed London on December 6 2009 and have travelled nearly 5,000 miles. The convoy has received a phenomenal support (since departing London), through it’s route, Europe, Turkey, Syria and Jordan.

For further information on the Viva Palestina Gaza Aid Convoy visit

Press information from Alice Howard on Tel: 07944 512 469 or via email:

Alice Howard
Viva Palestina UK – Administration Manager
Tel: 07944 512 469

Anti-Empire Report, Number 77: The American Elite By William Blum

6 January, 2010 —

Lincoln Gordon died a few weeks ago at the age of 96. He had graduated summa cum laude from Harvard at the age of 19, received a doctorate from Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, published his first book at 22, with dozens more to follow on government, economics, and foreign policy in Europe and Latin America. He joined the Harvard faculty at 23. Dr. Gordon was an executive on the War Production Board during World War II, a top administrator of Marshall Plan programs in postwar Europe, ambassador to Brazil, held other high positions at the State Department and the White House, a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, economist at the Brookings Institution, president of Johns Hopkins University. President Lyndon B. Johnson praised Gordon’s diplomatic service as “a rare combination of experience, idealism and practical judgment”.

You get the picture? Boy wonder, intellectual shining light, distinguished leader of men, outstanding American patriot.

Abraham Lincoln Gordon was also Washington’s on-site, and very active, director in Brazil of the military coup in 1964 which overthrew the moderately leftist government of Jo„o Goulart and condemned the people of Brazil to more than 20 years of an unspeakably brutal dictatorship. Human-rights campaigners have long maintained that Brazil’s military regime originated the idea of the desaparecidos, “the disappeared”, and exported torture methods across Latin America. In 2007, the Brazilian government published a 500-page book, “The Right to Memory and the Truth”, which outlines the systematic torture, rape and disappearance of nearly 500 left-wing activists, and includes photos of corpses and torture victims. Currently, Brazilian President Luiz In·cio Lula da Silva is proposing a commission to investigate allegations of torture by the military during the 1964-1985 dictatorship. (When will the United States create a commission to investigate its own torture?)

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Viva Palestina Starts Entry To Gaza – IMEMC News By Saed Bannoura

6 January, 2010 — IMEMC News

The Viva Palestina Convoy, and after facing ongoing Egyptian rejection and violent attacks by the Egyptian security forces, started on Wednesday evening to roll into the besieged Gaza Strip.


Viva Palestina entering Gaza - Al Jazeera

Thousands of Palestinians, carrying flowers and flags, gathered in the streets while the convoy continued to move in.

A Press conference would be held on Thursday and would be followed by the official ceremony of handing the international humanitarian aid.

The Qatar-based Al Jazeera reported that a convoy of eight truck started crossing the Rafeh Terminal.

On its website the Viva Palestina reported that ‘convoy continues to move into the strip to be greeted by flowers and flag-waving crowds. Press conference later to be followed tomorrow with ceremony to hand over the aid’.