May 26, 2015
“Stalinists” vs. “Trotskyists”, or a Mozgovoy Post-Scriptum
The following is an original editorial which reflects only the views of the author
So, who killed Mozgovoy? We’ll never know for certain. Not only because we don’t know all the facts, but also because those who do know the facts have an incentive to keep them to themselves. However, it doesn’t mean one can’t attempt to piece together a plausible scenario of Mozgovoy’s assassination.
When looking for the culprits I think we can safely rule out the clowns of the UAF or
the SBU, and especially the volunteer battalions. They are not that good
and, frankly, if they were they’d be going after far more important
targets. Besides, I’d argue that someone like Mozgovoy in a position of
power was actually acceptable to Kiev because on a narrow but crucial
band of interests their priorities and objectives coincided. No, I believe his death was caused by the differences of opinion between Mozgovoy, LPR, and ultimately the Kremlin, over the future course of Ukraine’s civil war.
There has been an ongoing struggle over the direction of Novorossia’s political development, the outcome of which is of keen importance not only to the people of the Donbass (obviously), but also to the Kremlin, given that what happens on the Donbass does not stay on the Donbass. Instead, it creates major international crises and threatens to plunge the world into a new Cold War, which is something the Russian Federation is trying to avoid. One way or the other, Mozgovoy was mixed up in that struggle and became only the latest of its victims.
Just as in the ’30s, the Donbass (as well as the Kremlin, though to a lesser extent) is the scene of a bitter power struggle between “Stalinists” and “Trotskyists.” Not in the sense they view either of these two individuals as their political patron, but because their prescriptions for the future mirror those of Stalin and Trotskiy.
Whereas Trotskiy wanted a “world revolution”, even if it meant plunging the still-young USSR into a global war against the entire world, a war it could not possibly win, Stalin preferred the policy of “socialism in one country”, or postponing the inevitable conflict for as long as possible, avoiding antagonizing its neighbors so as to prevent the emergence of a cohesive anti-Soviet coalition, and to use the time thus gained to strengthen USSR’s capacity to wage war. It doesn’t mean that Stalin shied away from fights, but he viewed USSR’s military operations in the ’30s as a means to dissuade and deter would-be enemies (and it worked well enough against Japan). For rather obvious reasons, Stalin’s vision prevailed with the Party rank-and-file, with Trotsky ultimately expelled, exiled, and assassinated. His death was to a large extent motivated by the fact that even in his capacity as a lone voice in the wilderness (i.e., Mexico), he still contributed to USSR’s image as an aggressive promoter of Marxist ideology, including through military conquest. And that was not something Stalin needed while trying to put together an anti-fascist coalition–it’s no coincidence Trotsky was assassinated in August of 1940, in other words, shortly after the all-too-rapid fall of France which made USSR Nazi Germany’s obvious next target. But Trotsky’s death was the proverbial “icing on the cake”, the last of a long effort to eradicate Trotskyism, most notably during the Spanish Civil War during which NKVD operating in Spain killed off great many Trotskyists, many of whom were not even Soviet citizens.
Today we’re seeing a similar conflict. However, though the “Stalinists” rule the roost in the Kremlin (and Putin’s strategy follows that of Stalin very closely, down to fighting battles with the aim of dissuasion and deterrence rather than conquest and defeat), in Novorossia the situation is less clear though even there it is shifting gradually in the direction of “Stalinists” such as Zakharchenko who shares Kremlin’s priorities and general outlook on how to proceed, even if it means forgoing advancing to the “natural borders” of Novorossia in order not to endanger the larger, long-term aim of Russian foreign policy.
But “Trotskyists” used to be in the driver’s seat there, starting with Strelkov who, though a not untalented individual, nevertheless committed the utterly unforgivable blunder of “taking credit” for MH17 shoot-down even before he knew what kind of plane actually came down on DPR’s territory. And his incessant social media proclamations that “Minsk 2 is dead” likewise are doing Kremlin no favors. However, for the most part he has been neutralized, he doesn’t make headlines in the West, which means he no longer is a net liability to Russia.
Mozgovoy is another story. He was indeed a revolutionary, but a revolutionary of the Trotskyist sort, with immense ambitions and with his aim very firmly set not on Novorossia, but on Kiev. That made him a major liability, especially in the post-Sochi environment in which the “Novorossia Project” is postponed indefinitely. And since Mozgovoy was not of the “socialism in one country” ilk, ultimately that’s what got him killed.
Because, in the final account, you have to ask yourself the following questions.
Does Zakharchenko enjoy Kremlin’s confidence? Unquestionably.
Does Plotnitskiy? You bet.
Did Strelkov? No. No, he did not. Certainly not after the MH17 stunt (although that was the proverbial “last straw”), which is why he’s too far away from the scene to do too much harm. Though, ironically, his MH17 twitter stunt likely saved his life, because his death would have looked like a Kremlin cover-up of the shoot-down.
Did Mozgovoy? No, and because he wouldn’t take a hint follow Strelkov’s lead, he’s now dead.