Friday, 9 September 2016

Writing - Another pen v sword moment

Periodically I come across examples of significant historical writing that has had an effect and which I think it valuable to share.

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Grigory Zinoviev

The writer of this significant piece was Grigory Zinoviev, a Bolshevik Revolutionary and a Soviet Communist politician. He wrote a letter in 1924 that the Daily Mail decided to publish four days for the British General Election, which may have been a major influence on the outcome of that election.

One particularly damaging section of this letter read:
A settlement of relations between the two countries will assist in the revolutionising of the international and British proletariat not less than a successful rising in any of the working districts of England, as the establishment of close contact between the British and Russian proletariat, the exchange of delegations and workers, etc. will make it possible for us to extend and develop the propaganda of ideas of Leninism in England and the Colonies.

The 'settlement of relations' was hoped to be between the Soviets and a Labour government.

The UK Government in the 1920's was in turmoil with a short lived coalition, followed by a similar Labour government and then an equally unsuccessful Tory government. The election in 1924 produced a Tory landslide and many Labour members blamed the Zinoviev letter for its failure at the polls, blaming the voters fear of Bolshevism for the swing to the right. However, the likelihood was that the Liberals holding the middle ground were swayed to the right away from Labour rather than risk a Bolshevik Revolution in Britain. So more the movement of Liberal voters rather than a swing away from Labour.

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In fact the letter seems to have been a clever forgery produced by enemies of the Bolshevik state in an attempt to destabilise their position in Russia. This didn't come out until much later so at the time the Zinoviev letter was blamed for the election result.

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So the pen once again was a powerful weapon producing possible political consequences, irrespective of the voracity of the letter.

So write your books and your poetry but don't forget to contribute to the current state of the world with your pen (or laptop).

God Bless