segunda-feira, 17 de novembro de 2014

Fiction: Chapter 1.3 of “Mecha, Tofu, and Revolution”

Ultimately the Soviet leadership voted to continue the offensive into Poland. As Trotsky predicted, the Red mechas marching through Polish towns were widely seen by the populace not as liberators, but as the latest iteration of Russian domination. On a mid-July afternoon, with his assistant Glazman, Trotsky sat in the audience of the second congress of the Third International held in Moscow. Since the previous year, the number of delegates to the event had swelled significantly.

Lenin stood before the assembled gathering, detailing Soviet advances into Poland on a large map. Since the conference hall was crowded and they sat in the back, Trotsky and Glazman could whisper without distracting notice from the presentation. “This is a disaster waiting to happen,” Trotsky said in frustration. “You can’t carry the revolution into another country on the barrel of a mecha’s machine gun.” Shortly after, he was proven correct. Polish forces routed their Russian counterparts in the battle of Warsaw.

It was a decisive victory for the Poles. Perhaps 100,000 Bolshevik soldiers were killed, wounded or captured. Soviet robots were also destroyed or appropriated in large numbers. Nearly twenty years later, it was common to see rusting Red mechas used as farming plows in the Polish countryside. The defeat was particularly frustrating for Trotsky because Lenin had spent decades insisting on the right to Polish independence, even when Marxist-animalists in that country opposed the idea from an internationalist perspective. In short, Lenin should have known better. By October, the Bolsheviks had made peace with Poland.

In February 1921, Trotsky was in the Ural region, supervising the Red Army’s construction of the Soviet Animal Sanctuary of Sverdlovsk. Gun turrets on the militarized mechas were replaced with fork-lift extensions, which were used to transport fencing and assemble barns. After the revolution, domesticated animals of Tsarist Russia were sterilized and placed in sanctuaries to live out their days free from human violence. However, as the civil war progressed, more animals were continually liberated as the White Army ceded territory to the Bolsheviks.

Trotsky stroked the head of a goat peaking her head through temporary fencing. She was such a gentle creature, he thought, before admonishing himself for his speciesist condescension. A Russian winter was hardly the best time to accomplish construction, but there was no other option. These animals needed shelter. Approaching from behind, Glazman interrupted Trotsky’s solitary contemplation. “Have you heard the news?” Trotsky’s stenographer asked.

As Trotsky turned, his eyes narrowed. He hadn’t. “The Red Army has marched into Georgia,” Glazman said. Trotsky was shocked. Nothing but vapor, visible in the cold air, escaped his mouth. Finally, Trotsky spoke, asking to no one in particular, “Has the Politbureau really not learned its lesson from the Polish debacle?” The nearby goat bleated, and he returned to scratching her chin.

“Apparently it’s on the advice of Comrade Stalin,” Glazman continued, not needing to mention Stalin was from Georgia and the Politbureau tended to defer to him on related matters. “He’s of the opinion a Bolshevik uprising with popular support has taken hold in the country.” Trotsky fumed. It was idiotic adventurism; why hadn’t he been consulted? “There’s no way such a rebellion has the backing of the masses in Menshevik Georgia,” Trotsky said. And it didn’t. A large force of Soviet mecha and ground troops took nearly two weeks to reach the Georgian capital of Tiflis, during which time the Red Army suffered substantial losses.

On his train, rattling its way back to Moscow, Trotsky read an account of the taking of Tiflis in Pravda. Eventually, he sighed and put down the day’s edition of paper. “I guess there’s nothing that can be done about it at this point,” Trotsky said glumly to Glazman, who agreed. “I’ll have to walk a fine line in my public statements. I can talk generally about the right of Russia to militarily assist genuine revolutions, but I won’t go into detail about the Georgian case.”

Glazman nodded. “I just can’t afford to make trouble in the Politbureau right now,” Trotsky said, almost apologetically. He looked out the train window, as the snowy countryside rushed past his view. “I should draft a telegram to Lenin though, about the need to treat the Georgians with a light hand,” Trotsky continued, pouring soy creamer into his coffee. “You know, a minimum mecha force in civilian areas and some respect for local leadership structures.”

Glazman stood up, holding onto the back of his chair for balance as the train shook, and grabbed his notebook from the table on which he’d left it. “Do you want me to take notes, sir?” Glazman asked. Trotsky nodded, sipping delicately at his scalding beverage, before he seemed to reconsider. “On the other hand, what’s the point?” Trotsky said, frustrated. “You can’t really put a pleasant face on occupation. The Georgians are going to see us as continuing the Tsar’s oppressive legacy either way.”

To be continued…if there is enough interest.

Por Jon Hochschartner
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