Monday, May 28, 2012

Leaders of men

Run across during research....

I'm not a betting man, but I would think that a reasonably good wager might be made that this was the only ever article in which Leon Trotsky was compared with the leader of the Salvation Army: 

‘In England, where in spite of our troubles we still retain the sanity of free speech, Mr. Trotsky’s views on our affairs (Where is Britain Going? George Allen and Unwin, 4s. 6d.) will no doubt command a certain amount of interest.

General Booth, with his jaunty hat
Mr. Trotsky has been a leader of men. So also was the founder of the Salvation Army, and so also is his son, General Bramwell Booth, whose reminiscences we consider this week. Here the similarities end.

General Booth and General Trotsky are zealots and organizers. But one has humour and insight, the other stammers out platitudes in the voice of a phonograph with a scratched record. With every wish to be fair to Mr. Trotsky, we began his latest work with the idea that he would have something interesting to say. He has not.

Appealing frankly to violence, he attempts to show, in the teeth of history and with comical ignorance of conditions here, that England has thrived on revolutions—other people’s revolutions in Europe.

General Trotsky, with his not-so-jaunty hat
And now “the masses must be revolutionarily educated and tempered. Of this the first condition is an implacable struggle with the contaminating spirit of MacDonaldism.”

Fleet Street, thinks Mr. Trotsky, “still awaits the proletarian hand” that shall educate the public away from the frivolities of Cup-ties and racing, to the industrial world of the Bolshevist.

A course of reading in this miniature Marx should be prescribed for every girl or boy who is sickening with Communist theories.’

The Spectator, 13 February 1926, p. 277 (paragraph breaks added)
 
And, as a help to the younger folk among you, 'MacDonaldism' refers to this chap not this chap, though both have, in their time, been described as agents of capitalism, so any confusion is forgiveable.

(And Fleet Street is, of course, still awaiting the "proletarian hand"...)

(Image sources: Booth, Trotsky)

6 comments:

mikeovswinton, ich bin kein Robot said...

How about an unlikely pairings contest? Kind of reminds me of a Martin Rowson cartoon in the Statesman when I was doing my doctorate on the Webbs. A startled Stalin, Sidney Webb with head in hands, and a very middle class woman prattling on about Peter Rabbit. Caption; "Mr Webb unaccountably takes the wrong Miss B Potter to Moscow". In the lives of the Great Socialists series I think.

John Carter Wood said...

That sounds like a great cartoon, with a lot more subtlety than Rowson often manages. Incidentally, I recently finished Lodge's novel on H. G. Wells, A Man of Parts, in which the Webbs make several appearances. Well worth reading, I thought.

Mikeovswinton said...

Did it have the Hubert Bland horse driven carriage/bullwhip incident fictionalised in it?

John Carter Wood said...

There are a couple of Bland rages in the book, but I don't recall a bullwhip in particular being dramatised. If so it didn't make a big impression. I must admit that for a while it was bedtime reading, and there are a few gaps in my memory of it caused by falling asleep. Not that this is a comment on the quality of the book. Alternatively, I may have been distracted by the frequent sex in the book -- Wells got rather around, you know -- from noticing anything else. Speaking of the Blands, though, reading this inspired me to finally getting round to reading The Railway Children.

Mikeovswinton said...

I remember reading Fenner Brockway's "Inside the Left" as a 12 year old, and thinking HG Wells a bit eccentric. When I re-read it at 17 I got it. Its quite interesting to read the way that writers wrote about sex without writing about sex in the 'good old days', if you see what I mean. Bland drove to one of the London stations in his coach and four with a bullwhip because one of his daughters was meeting HG in order to elope or something like that, and Hubert was going to whip the cad. The'good old days' indeed,what?

John Carter Wood said...

That incident is definitely depicted in the Lodge book. 'Good old days' to be sure...