Art as the Cognition of Life

Mikhail Vasilievich Frunze

Mikhail V. Frunze was the first chief of the staff of the Red Army and succeeded Leon Trotsky as the People’s Commissar for Army and Navy Affairs. He was a close family friend of Voronsky, urging him to leave the Left Opposition and defending him in the debates leading up to the party resolution on literary policy in June 1925. There is some evidence that he was against using the forms of reprisal being prepared by the Stalin faction against the Left Opposition.

In October of that year, Frunze died of overdose of chloroform during a surgery to repair an ulcer that unfortunately had already healed. Frunze had not wanted to undergo the operation, but it seems that Stalin insisted. Tatiana Isaeva, Voronsky’s granddaughter, recounted in an interview with the World Socialist Website that whilst she and her family were under surveillance, strangers would come by and ask after the death of Frunze.

We reproduce below, in part, Voronsky’s eulogy for him, in honour and remembrance of this great man. We hope these brief passages may inspire others to live as forthrightly and courageously as he did. Again, we encourage the reader to purchase their own copy of this volume from Mehring Books.

…Inside him beat a courageous, fearless, and kind heart. He combined within himself the irreconcilability and audacity of a fighter, the calm reasonableness and tact of a military commander, strategist, and leader, with the broad and passionate human feelings of love and friendship. He loved this world of stubborn textile workers, and generations of metalworkers; the world of the incomparable and unique Bolshevik underground, of professional revolutionaries; the world of red-starred armies and peasant-shirted labour—and they also firmly loved him, respected him, and believed him.

…he was always on the move, his word was matched by deeds, and he loved what people call the trials of fate. …He knew the happiness of battle and had the right more than others to say: “I fought well… I saw the heavens…” And it could be said that “his heart burned with the flames of a desire to save his people, to lead them out onto an easier path, and in his eyes one could see the sparks of that powerful fire.”

But he was not a romantic zealot. The party of the revolutionary proletariat taught him to combine heroism and bravery with reasonable calculation. That is why he struck such mortal blows against enemy forces and triumphed so often. Victory was his companion. Moreover, he had the inherent talents of a warrior; it is no accident that he loved weapons and military affairs so much.

His life was heroic, bold, and selfless, but what was most captivating in him was the ease and simplicity with which he met danger. These qualities reached a childlike immediacy in him. He knew the value of revolutionary duty, but this word didn’t define him personally; he acted so naturally and directly in performing the heroic.

Comrade and friend!

…he remained just as accessible and unchanged as a person right up until the last. There was something that was comfortable and homey about him, as if he were an old and well-known friend. …It is well known how closely tied the deceased was with the textile workers of the Ivanovo-Voznesensk region. These were the ties of revolutionary fighters, but fully permeated with friendship. For this reason they remember him so well and so faithfully there. …