Sound advice from Clive James, who reveals a new reason to like Pablo Neruda:
Pablo Neruda was instrumental in smoothing the assassin’s path [to planting an ice ax in Trotsky’s melon] but never wrote a poem on the subject: something to remember when reading the thousands of ecstatic love poems he did write. They are full of wine and roses, but no ice ax is ever mentioned. Admirers of Neruda don’t seem to mind. The same capacity for tacit endorsement is shown by Trotsky’s admirers, who even today persist in seeing him as some sort of liberal democrat; or, if not as that, then as a true champion of the working class; or anyway, and at the very worst, as one of those large-hearted Old Bolsheviks who might have made the Soviet Union some kind of successfully egalitarian society had they prevailed. But when it became clear that the vast crime called the collectivization of agriculture would involve a massacre of the peasantry, Trotsky’s only criticism was that Stalin’s campaign was not sufficiently “militarized.” He meant that the peasants weren’t being massacred fast enough.
Still doesn’t make me want to pick up the new Clive James book, Cultural Amnesia, though. (Say, looking at Wikipedia just now, I see that James used to feature on Tony Wilson’s “So It Goes.” I had no idea.)