The International Committee of the Fourth International held meetings in Berlin, on December 5, and London, on December 12, 1998, to commemorate the life of Vadim Z. Rogovin. David North addressed the meetings in London and Berlin. These are the remarks he delivered.
Vadim Zakharovich Rogovin (10 May 1937, Moscow – 25 September 1998, Moscow) was the greatest Soviet and Russian Marxist sociologist and historian of the second half of the twentieth century.
Rogovin’s greatest work was accomplished in the aftermath of the dissolution of the USSR. Beginning in 1992, he began publishing what would become a seven-volume history of the revolutionary Marxist opposition, led by Leon Trotsky, to the Stalinist degeneration of the USSR. Covering the years from 1923 to 1940, Rogovin’s Was There an Alternative? is an unsurpassed work of historical scholarship, indispensable for an understanding of the Stalinist regime and the deep-rooted socialist opposition to its betrayal of the principles and program of the October Revolution. Rogovin documented the immense popularity of Trotsky, even after his exile from the Soviet Union in 1929, and established that the principal purpose of Stalin’s bloody terror in the 1930s was the eradication of Trotsky’s political influence.
Prior to the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Rogovin had been working for many years, albeit under very difficult circumstances, on a sociological analysis of Stalinism. For much of his career, he was a scholar at the Institute of Sociology in Moscow. He entered the discipline of sociology out of a desire to find a setting in which he could study and write about the problem of social stratification in Soviet society. His research focused on inequalities in lifestyles and consumption, the social and political roots of the USSR’s problems with labor productivity, and the meaning of social justice.
Rogovin’s contributions to sociology, which were published widely in major journals and press outlets, consisted of such titles as, “Justice as a Social-Philosophical and Socio-Economic Category” (1982), “The Human Factor and the Lessons of the Past” (1984), and “On Social Benefits and Privileges” (1989). His open commitment to the defense of equality won him widespread popularity, a fact widely acknowledged in the USSR at the time and even noted by Western scholars.
In May 1997, David North, delivered the following greetings on behalf of the International Committee of the Fourth International to Vadim Rogovin in Moscow on the occasion of his 60th birthday.
These remarks were delivered at a meeting held in Moscow on May 15, 2002, on the fifth anniversary of the death of Vadim Rogovin. Among those attending the gathering were surviving children of Russian Left Oppositionists murdered by the Stalinist regime, scholars who worked with Vadim at the Institute of Sociology in Moscow, the representatives of several socialist tendencies in Russia and many friends.
Rogovin insisted that without understanding the Terror—its origins and its consequences—it was impossible to make sense of either the nature of Soviet society or the ultimate dissolution of the USSR at the hands of the Communist Party during the final decade of the 20th century. For him, 1936–1938 and 1989–1991 were indissolubly connected periods of Soviet history. The restoration of capitalism demanded new falsifications of Soviet history.
International tributes for Russian Marxist historian
More than three dozen people gathered at the Moscow Crematorium September 21 to mourn the passing of Vadim Zakharovich Rogovin, Russian Marxist historian and sociologist and author of a six-volume study of the Trotskyist opposition to the rise of the Stalinist regime within the Soviet Union. Rogovin died of cancer on September 18. He was 61 years old.