Category Archives: Life in Socialist Countries

Stalin’s Four Attempts at Resignation

Joseph Stalin was elected as the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU in April 1922 during the 11th Congress of the Party. Between then and until his death, he asked to be relieved of his duties as General Secretary a total of four times — all of which were rejected.

On Lenin’s motion, the Plenum of the Central Committee, on April 3, 1922, elected Stalin …  [as the] General Secretary of the Central Committee, a post at which he has remained ever since.

Alexandrov, G. F. Joseph Stalin; a Short Biography. Moscow: FLPH, 1947, p. 74

Stalin’s first attempt at resignation (likely in 1925) from the post of General Secretary was at a meeting of the Central Committee after the 13th Congress (held in May 1924). This was rejected unanimously by all the delegations, including Trotsky. Stalin remarked on this later in 1927 in a speech at a meeting of the Central Committee:

It is said that in that “will” Comrade Lenin suggested to the congress that in view of Stalin’s “rudeness” it should consider the question of putting another comrade in Stalin’s place as General Secretary. That is quite true.

Yes, comrades, I am rude to those who grossly and perfidiously wreck and split the Party. I have never concealed this and do not conceal it now. Perhaps some mildness is needed in the treatment of splitters, but I am a bad hand at that.

At the very first meeting of the plenum of the Central Committee after the Thirteenth Congress I asked the plenum of the Central Committee to release me from my duties as General Secretary. The congress itself discussed this question. It was discussed by each delegation separately, and all the delegations unanimously, including Trotsky, Kamenev and Zinoviev, obliged Stalin to remain at his post.

What could I do? Desert my post? That is not in my nature; I have never deserted any post, and I have no right to do so, for that would be desertion. As I have already said before, I am not a free agent, and when the Party imposes an obligation upon me, I must obey.

A year later I again put in a request to the plenum to release me, but I was again obliged to remain at my post. What else could I do?

The next two attempts to resign from the post of General Secretary was a year after in 1926 and later in 1927. The British historian Robert Service who specialized in Russian history wrote about this in his biography of Stalin:

On 27 December 1926, he wrote to Sovnarkom Chairman Alexei Rykov saying: ‘I ask you to release me from the post of Central Committee General Secretary. I affirm that I can no longer work at this post, that I’m in no condition to work any longer at this post.’ He made a similar attempt at resignation on 19 December 1927.

All three of these previous attempts were rejected. The last attempt to resign was in 1952, about five months before Stalin’s death, during a meeting of the Central Committee where he urged the Central Committee to relieve him of his duties. This too was rejected. 

In a speech given by him to the Central Committee that mainly criticized Molotov for some of his decisions, he was interrupted near the end of the speech by someone from the floor.

VOICE FROM THE FLOOR – We need to elect comrade Stalin as the General Secretary of the CC CPSU and Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the USSR.

STALIN – No! I am asking that you relieve me of the two posts!

MALENKOV – coming to the tribune: Comrades! We should all unanimously ask comrade Stalin, our leader and our teacher, to be again the General Secretary of the CC CPSU.

Originally posted by Socialist Musings.

Statement of the Communist Party of Spain (Marxist-Leninist) on the death of Fidel Castro

The Communist Party of Spain (Marxist-Leninist) deeply regrets the death of Fidel Castro and expresses its solidarity with the government and the Cuban people in these difficult and painful moments.

Fidel Castro will always be remembered as a leader who dedicated his life to the revolution that transformed the economic and social structures of Cuba, in constant struggle against the aggression of US imperialism. The revolution that triumphed in 1959 aroused the enthusiasm of the masses in Latin America and worldwide. The Sierra Maestra fighters made the dream of liberation craved by Cubans and Latin American workers a reality.

Since that memorable date when the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista was defeated, Cuba began a titanic struggle for national independence, economic sovereignty and liberation from the yoke exerted on the country by the United States.

Literacy campaigns, nationalization of enterprises and plantations owned by US capital and the extraordinary development of education and public health brought Cuba from underdevelopment and turned the island into an example for the peoples of Latin America and the other continents.

Beyond the political and ideological discrepancies, our party has always shown its solidarity with the Cuban people, denouncing the US economic blockade, the terrorist attacks of emigrants and hostile actions advocated by the Popular Party.

Fidel Castro will always be remembered as the man, the leader and revolutionary who, with sacrifice and effort of all the Cuban people for his country, regained dignity and national sovereignty. His death is a great loss for the Cuban revolution, but the workers, peasants and intellectuals, all the people of Cuba will continue forward, continuing and improving its legacy.

The red flags of the Communists around the world are inclined with respect to honor his memory. The Cuban land will house a man who completed the work begun by Martí.

Madrid, November 26, 2016.

Executive Committee PCE (ml)

Courtesy: Alfonso Casal

Statement by the Party of Labour of Iran (Toufan) on the death of Fidel Castro


We, the Party of Labour of Iran (Toufan), convey condolences to the courageous workers and toilers of Cuba. Fidel Castro, the leader of the Cuban Revolution, did not kneel down to the criminal bullying of the U.S. imperialists, the world biggest terrorists. For five decades, Fidel Castro resisted the monster, U.S. imperialism, and became a source of inspiration for the struggle of the people of Latin America against colonialism and despotism.

The Cuban Revolution, under the leadership of Fidel Castro, has been a thorn in the side of the U.S. imperialism. The joy expressed by the U.S. imperialists and their lackeys on the death of Fidel stems from their inhuman and exploitative nature of these criminals.

One must learn from the Cuban Revolution and its strength and weakness, learn from temporary setback of other revolutions, and rely on Marxism-Leninism to prepare for future socialist revolutions.

Long Live Revolution!

Death to Imperialism and its Lackeys!

Courtesy: Alfonso Casal

PCMLE: Fidel Castro Ruz: Comandante of the Cuban Revolution Has Died, We Honor His Memory!


Communiqué of the Marxist-Leninist Communist Party of Ecuador, PCMLE

On the night of November 25, Fidel Castro Ruz, Comandante of the Cuban Revolution, has died and the Cuban people, the peoples of Latin America and the world mourn his death.

Fidel, throughout his life, was an outstanding revolutionary leader, and along with his comrades such as Che Guevara, Camilo Cienfuegos and others, was at the head of the heroic process of the Cuban revolution, which confronted the aggressive designs of US imperialism, defeated the armed incursions, the plots and conspiracies that the world power financed and directed together with the reactionary circles, in an attempt to break the will of the Cuban people and their leaders.

With Fidel at its head, the courageous Cuban people, with arms in hand, were able to overthrow the infamous, criminal and pro-Yankee dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista, who had handed over the Caribbean island’s resources, sovereignty and independence to the Yankees. This same people, based on their unity, promoting the struggle, has been advancing in their revolutionary process that achieved important and well-known social achievements in various fields such as education, health, social security and, despite the criminal imperialist blockade, managed to rise up and maintain those achievements, which earned them the recognition and solidarity of the peoples of the world.

For the peoples of Latin America, the victories achieved by the Cuban revolution have undoubtedly been an example that has influenced their anti-imperialist struggles and the struggle for social revolution. Cuba has been the example of how a small country, besieged by the major world power that has blocked it since the beginning of the revolution, was able to stand up and maintain its independence with dignity.

The Marxist-Leninist Communist Party of Ecuador, its members and leaders, pay homage to the memory of Fidel Castro, Comandante of the Cuban Revolution; We express our heartfelt condolences to the people of Cuba and their leaders and we believe that all of Fidel’s courageous legacy in his revolutionary actions will be maintained and developed for the advance of their social achievements and social justice.

Political Bureau of the Central Committee

November 27, 2016

ICMLPO: Communiqué on the Death of Fidel Castro


On January 1 1959 the Cuban revolution triumphed. Several years of guerrilla struggle waged in the mountains of the Island, courageous fights of the working class, youth and people developed in the cities culminated in victory. Ninety miles from Yankee imperialism, the Cuban revolutionaries broke with the thesis of “geographic fatalism” according to which, because of the proximity of the United States, It was not possible to make the revolution in Latin America.

The achievements of the Revolution, the agrarian reform, the nationalization of all the US enterprises, the eradication of illiteracy, the health care and education involved the working masses and the youth; these awakened the solidarity of the workers and peoples of the world, especially of Latin America. They pointed the way to the armed revolutionary struggle. But they also unleashed the hatred of international reaction, the war-like actions of the United States, the invasion of Playa Giron {Bay of Pigs] and hundreds of terrorist actions, the trade embargo, which failed, over almost sixty years, due to the heroic resistance of the Cuban people and revolutionaries.

The heroic deeds of the workers and peasants, of the Cuban youth was able to develop and led to victory with the defeat of the tyranny and the establishment of people’s power. It succeeded in promoting the achievements, social and economic transformations and resisting and overcoming all sorts of attacks by imperialism and reaction. All this was possible due to the formation and forging of a revolutionary party, the July 26th Movement, which was able to adopt correct and timely guidelines, which was able to lead the social and political forces to struggle and victory. Among the members of the revolutionary command were many political and military leaders, Camilo Cienfuegos, Che, Frank Pais, Raul Castro. Among all of them, Comandante FIDEL CASTRO stood out as the leader, who participated actively and directly from the first combats, playing the role of organizer, strategist, popular leader and head of state.

Social revolutions are the work of the masses, but they could not be possible without the guidance of the revolutionary leaders who arise in the heat of combat but who achieve dimensions that determine the course and development of the processes.

The workers and peasants, youth, revolutionaries, the “July 26” Movement, the revolutionary commanders and Comandante Fidel Castro led a popular revolution that took place in a small country that confronted the strongest power on the planet and was able to resist.

Fidel Castro died fulfilling his duties and responsibilities. His words and deeds throughout his long life as a combatant will endure, they constitute the testimony of the courage and tenacity of a people, they express the convictions and commitment of a revolutionary.

The Marxist Leninist Parties and Organizations integrated in the ICMLPO express their communist sentiments to the working class, the people and the Cuban revolutionaries.

November 2016
Coordinating Committee of the International Conference of Marxist-Leninist Parties and Organizations, ICMLPO

Grover Furr on Archival Evidence for the Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites


“Shortly after the Leon Trotsky Archive at Harvard’s Houghton Library was opened in January 1980, Trotskyist historian Pierre Broué discovered letters between Leon Sedov and his father Trotsky that proved the existence of a bloc between Trotskyites and other opposition groups within the USSR. Sometime in the middle of 1932 Sedov informed his father as follows:

“[The bloc] is organized. In it have entered the Zinovievites, the Sten-Lominadze group and the Trotskyites (former ‘[capitulators]’). The group of Safar. Tarkhkan has not formally entered yet – they stand on too extreme a position; they will enter in a very short time. – The declaration of Z. and K. concerning their enormous mistake in ’27 was made during negotiations with our people concerning the bloc, immediately before the exile of Z and K.” [70]

About the same time American historian Arch Getty was discovering that Trotsky had secretly sent letters to at least Radek, Sokol’nikov, Preobrazhenskii, Kollontai, and Litvinov. The first three had been Trotskyites before publicly recanting their views. Getty did not find the letters – only the certified mail receipts for them. Getty realized this meant that the Trotsky Archive has been ‘purged.’ These letters had been removed. Other materials had undoubtedly been purged as well. [71]

The only reason to “purge” the archives would have been to remove materials that would have seemed incriminating – that would have negatively impacted Trotsky’s reputation.As an examination of the question of the letter to Radek shows, the letters that we know were removed proved, at the very least, that Trotsky lied during the 1930s by claiming he never maintained contact with oppositionists inside the USSR when, in reality, he was doing so, and by claiming that he would never agree to a secret bloc between his supporters and other oppositionist groups in act he had done precisely that.

Evidently Broué found the implications of this fact very disturbing. He never mentioned Getty’s discoveries of Trotsky’s letters to his supporters and others inside the USSR or the purging of the Trotsky archive, even though Broué cites the same Getty publications (an article and a book) in a very positive manner. [72]

Therefore it has been well established by scholars by the mid-1980s that a Trotskyite-Zinovievite bloc did in fact exist and that it was formed in 1932 and that Zinoviev and Kamenev were personally involved. Sedov also foresaw the entry into the group of Safarov, who in any case had a group of his own.

In an interview with the Dutch social-democratic newspaper Het Volk during the second half of January 1937, at the time of the Second Moscow Trial, Sedov stated, in a slip of the tongue, that “the Trotskyists” had been in contact with the defendents at the First Moscow Trial of August 1936. [73] Sedov specifically named Zinoviev, Kamenev and Smirnov. Concerning Radek and Piatakov Sedov went on to say that “[t]he Trotskyists have had much less contact with them than with the others. To be exact: no contact at all.” That is, Sedov tried to withdraw his “slip” about Radek and Piatakov.

But Sedov did not even try and retract the information that preceded it: that “the Trotskyists” had indeed been in contact with “the other”: Smirnov, Zinoviev, and Kamenev. This interview, “slip of the tongue” included, was published in a provincial edition of Het Volk on January 28, 1937. It was noticed by the Communist press, which called attention to Sedov’s “slip of the tongue.” (Arbeideren, Oslo, February 5, 1937; Abejderbladet, Copenhagen, February 12, 1937.) Thanks to Getty we now know that the Communist press was correct. Sedov’s remark really was a “slip of the tongue.” We know that Sedov was lying because Getty had found evidence of Trotsky’s letter to Radek. Trotsky has indeed been in touch with Radek. Sedov’s first remark, about “much less contact,” was accurate.

Therefore we have good, non-Soviet evidence, confirmed by the Trotsky Archive, of the following:

  • A “bloc” of Zinovievites, Trotskyites, and others including at least the Sten-Lominadze and, perhaps, the Safarov-Tarkhanov group (with whom they were in any case in touch) and involving Zinoviev and Kamenev themselves, was indeed formed in 1932.
  • Trotsky had indeed been in touch with Zinoviev and Kamenev, as well as others, probably through his son and chief representative Sedov.
  • Trotsky was indeed in touch with at least Radek and Piatakov.
  • Trotsky really did send a letter to Radek, who was in Geneva at the time, in the Spring of 1932, just as Radek testified in the January 1932 Moscow Trial.
  • There is no reason to accept Trotskyist historian Pierre Broué’s conclusion that thus bloc was “ephemeral” and died out shortly after it was formed, because we know the Trotsky Archive was purged at some time, while Broué had no evidence to support that statement.


The Harvard Trotsky archive yielded to Broué and Getty unmistakable evidence that the “bloc” did exist; that Trotsky was in contact with the bloc’s members and his own supporters inside the USSR, and that Trotsky lied consistently about all these matters both in the Bulletin of the Opposition and to the Dewey Commission. No scholar today denies this. Kirilina, Lenoe, and Egge simply ignore the whole matter.

The NKVD of the 1930s termed the complexly-interlocking set of oppositional conspiracies the “klubok,” or “tangle.” If any of these conspiracies were acknowledged to have existed, it would be hard to deny the existence of the rest, since all the defendants implicated others in a chant that, directly or indirectly, connected them all. Admitting that the bloc of Trotskyites and Zinovievites did in fact exist would present the danger of a “slippery slope” to any historian who wanted to deny the validity of the other conspiracies. For once it is conceded that the first alleged underground opposition conspiracy really did exist, and therefore that both the Khrushchev and Gorbachev official reports, rehabilitations, and official historians were lying, it logically follows that other conspiracies, which these same sources also denied, might have existed too.

 – Grover Furr, “The Murder of Sergei Kirov: History, Scholarship and the Anti-Stalin Paradigm,” pages 131-133, 136.


[70] Harvard, Trotsky Archive 4782 p. 1; see Broué in Cahiers Leon Trotsky 1980 p. 36; Broué, “Party Opposition to Stalin…” p. 100.

[71] Other materials were certainly removed – “purged” – with traces of their removal remaining. For example, excerpts from a discussion between Trotsky and Sedov concerning the slogan “remove Stalin” (‘ubrat Stalina’) remain in the archive, but the full letters from which the excerpts were made are not there.

[72] We will examine this whole question in detail in a forthcoming work.

[73] “Het process te Moskou. Wie niet wil bekennen al doodgeschoten?” Het Volk 28 Jan. 1937 pp. 1 and 5. My sincere thanks to Sven-Eric Holmstrom for tracking down this article and generously providing me with a copy.

The Soviet Union Looks To Its Health


The Bolshevik Revolution not only overturned the political and economic system that was based on exploitation but also brought with it a revolutionary reorganisation of the entire society. One of the major component was the reorganisation and implementation of a socialist health care system, which took care of the citizen from their cradle to grave.

The Soviet health care found its support and admiration even in the Western countries. The British health care expert Sir Arthur Newsholme, in his work “Red Medicine: Socialized Health in Soviet Russia” that was based after his fact finding visit to the Soviet Union, mentioned about the grand success of the socialist health care in following words:

            Our description of what has been accomplished in medical administration may easily be regarded as giving a distorted and too favorable view of medico-social developments in Russia. Our statements are open to this accusation, which has been similarly urged against the particulars given in the many earlier volumes which have described personal observations made by foreign visitors to the U.S.S.R. Doubtless we were shown the best of what exists in Russia. The same would hold equally good if any foreign visitors came with influential introductions to inspect medical and public health work in England or America. We realized all the time that we were seeing the best that the U.S.S.R. had succeeded in developing. But when this best was seen repeated in many cities visited by us, and when it was everywhere frankly stated that their arrangements were not yet complete, that the dearth of doctors made more adequate provisions difficult for a few years; and when we were told openly of the great difficulties which were being experienced in extending the medical provisions of cities to the vast rural communities of Russia, and of the only partial success hitherto achieved in overcoming these difficulties, we were forced to the conclusion that we were not being victimized by a “window-dressing” display; and that, indeed, a marvelous reformed and extended medical service had been organised in Russia, the methods and procedures of which the rest of the world would do well to study.

Below we are reproducing an article from the American journal of Worker Medical Advisory Board, Health and Hygeine published in 1935. In this article the author gives a succinct account of how the socialist health care worked in the Soviet Union during time of Stalin.

—- Editor, Other Aspect (8/7/2016)  

ALONG with every tremendous stride it has taken in developing industrial and agricultural progress, the Soviet Union has taken the necessary steps to safeguard and improve Soviet workers’ health. Rest homes, sanitariums, “keep the-baby healthy” stations and hospitals grew up alongside great factories and on giant collective farms. When plans were made to build a city, as at Magnitogorsk, these plans included first and foremost abundant provision for taking care of the health of the workers.

American engineers have reported, on their return from the Soviet Union, their surprise at the manner in which new plants were set up. Before the foundations of the factory or mill were laid, homes for the workers who were to build the factory were erected. The Americans pointed out that in the United States the factory is the first consideration. Workers can always be housed in the rudest sort of shacks. In the Soviet Union, where prevention of ill health is of paramount importance, the homes are built first.

The successful completion of the first Five Year Plan in four years and the carrying out of the Second Five Year Plan at as great a speed, requires great physical and mental effort for the Soviet workers. The physical welfare of the shock brigaders, the heroes of labor who set the pace for the other workers, is the greatest concern of the Soviet government. Every precaution is taken to maintain and ensure the good health of the workers.

The keyword in health matters in the Soviet Union is prevention. In the United States and other capitalist countries, we do not go to a doctor or clinic until we are sick. In the Soviet Union, where health is cared for on presentation of a union card, not on presentation of a fee, the workers are trained and urged to go to the clinics at the slightest sign of something wrong or likely to go wrong. A worker who has fever will be sent by the factory doctor to the clinic. This worker, assured that he does not lose his job and knowing that he will be paid while away, soon learns to prevent ill health.

In the United States, the worker who goes to a clinic is oppressed by the feeling of “charity.” 12 The clinics are meant only for those who cannot pay for private treatment and this is felt by every worker. In addition, these clinics, especially in the smaller towns, are overcrowded. It is sufficient here to give some figures on the clinics of the Soviet Union. This does not cover other working conditions, conditions in the home, rest homes, etc.

In 1932, the All-Union Public Health Conference adopted a plan to cover the entire Union with a network of clinics. This plan is part of the second Five Year Plan and is to be completed by 1937. Now, in 1935, much has already been accomplished.

The plan is based on the principle that three types of clinics are needed to cover the general and specific needs of each industrial centre. The clinics are set up and staffed according to the population. These clinics are: the Polyclinic, which handles general work. This includes aD . x-ray department and a clinical laboratory where examinations of blood, sputum, urine, etc., are made. There are also two special type clinics which take care of the patients referred by the Polyclinic. Here the special branches of medicine are covered.

These three types of clinics, the Polyclinic and the two special clinics, are combined in one unit. The number of units and the number of doctors, nurses and attendants is determined by the size of the city or town. For towns larger than 60,000, clinics are established in the ratio of one unit for each 50,000. Thus, in Moscow, Unit No. 1 serves 46,000 people, Unit No.2 serves 55,000. The fifth unit is equipped to handle an even greater number. It serves 65,000. On the other hand, in Colomna and Podolak, cities with less than 60,000 population, there is one unit to each city.

1750 visits daily or more than 500,000 visits per year. The staff of each unit consists of doctors, nurses, technicians and clerical help. The number of doctors in each speciality has been carefully worked out according to the requirements. The largest units, with 50 doctors, cover every speciality. Where the smaller units, in the APRIL, 1935 .. villages or small towns, do not cover a speciality, the standard unit is called upon.

The staff of this standard unit is grouped according to the following:

General medical doctors (internists) ……………….. 7

General medical doctors to answer calls………….. 9

Surgeons ……………………………………………………… 5

Pediatricians (diseases of childhood) ……………… 5

Gynecologists (diseases of women) ……………….. 3

Eye doctors ………………………………………………. 2

Ear, nose and throat ………………………………………. 2

Dentists ……………………………………………………. 8

Neuropathologists (diseases of nervous system)…. 1

Skin and venereal diseases …………………………….. 3

Laboratory Chief …………………………….. …………… 1

Roentgenologist (X-ray doctor)………………………. 2

Physio·therapist (treatments with electricity, etc.).. 1

Phthisiologist (specialist in tuberculosis) …. 1

These units are clinics and are not to be confused with prophylactic stations, maternity clinics, baby health stations, rest homes, sanitoria, hospitals for acute and chronic diseuea and other institutions under the All Union Department of Public Health.

From the above will be seen the fundamental difference between public health in the Soviet Union and in the United States. In the Soviet Union all health is public health. Workers do not go to a clinic as a last resort, after being unable to pay a private doctor. They go to the clinic as a matter of course, as part of the public health policy of the Soviet Union for the prevention of sickness.

Source: Health and Hygiene, The Magazine of the daily Worker Medical Advisory Board, Vol 1, No.1 April 1935


Stalin’s ‘Anti-Semitism’



The accusation that Stalin was an anti-Semite is a strange one. Neither Stalin’s written texts nor his actions indicate anti-Semitism. Indeed, they indicate precisely the opposite, as I will show in a moment. So those who wish to make the accusation have to rely on hearsay – second- and third-hand snippets from passing conversations, whether from an estranged daughter or from those within and without the USSR who were not favourably disposed to Stalin.[1] And once such a position is ‘established’, it is then possible to read some of his actions and written comments in such a light. For instance, the ‘anti-cosmopolitan’ campaign of the late 1940s becomes a coded ‘anti-Semitic’ campaign. Or the ‘doctors plot’ of 1952-53 – in which leading doctors were suspected of seeking to assassinate government officials – is seen as an excuse for a widespread anti-Semitic purge and deportation,[2] halted only because of Stalin’s death (we may thank Khrushchev for this piece of speculation). However, the only way such an assumption can work is that many doctors in the Soviet Union were Jewish; therefore the attack on doctors was anti-Semitic. Equally, even more doctors were Russian, but for some strange reason, the plot is not described as anti-Russian.

Unfortunately for Stalin’s accusers, even the hearsay indicates that Stalin was opposed to the deep-rooted anti-Semitism of Russian culture. During the anti-cosmopolitan campaign of 1948-49 – which was actually anti-capitalist in the wake of the Second World War – it became the practice in some journal articles to include, where possible, the original family names in brackets after the Russian name. Sometimes, such original names were Jewish. When Stalin noticed this he commented:

Why Mal’tsev, and then Rovinskii between brackets? What’s the matter here? How long will this continue …? If a man chose a literary pseudonym for himself, it’s his right…. But apparently someone is glad to emphasise that this person has a double surname, to emphasise that he is a Jew…. Why create anti-Semitism?[3]

Indeed, to the Romanian leader, Gheorghiu-Dej, Stalin commented pointedly in 1947, ‘racism leads to fascism’.[4] At this point, we face an extraordinary contradiction: those who would accuse Stalin of anti-Semitism must dismiss his deep antipathy to fascism and deploy the reductio ad Hitlerum. If one assumes, even subconsciously, that Hitler and Stalin were of the same ilk, then it follows that Stalin too must be an anti-Semite. Apart from the sheer oxymoron of an anti-fascist fascist, this assertion seems very much like the speculative thought bubble that becomes ‘true’ through a thousand repetitions.[5]

I prefer to follow a rather conventional approach, instead of relying on hearsay, gossip and speculation. That approach is to pay attention to his written statements and actions. These are rather telling. Already in ‘Marxism and the National Question’ (1913), in which Stalin deals extensively with the Jews and the Bund (The General Jewish Workers’ Union of Lithuania, Poland, and Russia), he points out that dispersed minorities such as the Jews would be given the full range of protections, in terms of language, education, culture and freedom of conscience, within a socialist state. This would become his standard position, reiterated time and again and contrasted with the tsarist autocracy’s fostering of pogroms.[6] It was also reflected in extensive programs among Jews, including the fostering – not without problems and failures – of Yiddish, Jewish institutions and the significant presence of Jews at all levels of government.[7]

From time to time, Stalin had to deal with outbursts of anti-Semitism that still ran deep in Russian culture (thanks to the residual influence of tsarist autocracy). For example, in 1927 he explicitly mentions that any traces of anti-Semitism, even among workers and in the party is an ‘evil’ that ‘must be combated, comrades, with all ruthlessness’.[8] And in 1931, in response to a question from the Jewish News Agency in the United States, he describes anti-Semitism as an ‘an extreme form of racial chauvinism’ that is a convenient tool used by exploiters to divert workers from the struggle with capitalism. Communists, therefore, ‘cannot but be irreconcilable, sworn enemies of anti-semitism’. Indeed, in the U.S.S.R. ‘anti-semitism is punishable with the utmost severity of the law as a phenomenon deeply hostile to the Soviet system’. Active ‘anti-semites are liable to the death penalty’.[9]

This was no empty boast, as those who accuse Stalin of anti-semitism seem to assume. It is worth noting that article 123 of the 1936 Constitution ensured that this position was law.[10]Active anti-Semitism, even racial slurs, were severely punished. It may be surprising to some, but one of the key tasks of the NKVD (precursor to the KGB) was to counteract waves of residual anti-Semitism.[11] Yes, one of the jobs of the infamous secret police of the USSR was to root out anti-Semitism.

Further, the ‘affirmative action’ program of the Soviet Union,[12] enacted in Stalin’s capacity as Commissar for Nationality Affairs (1917-24), was explicitly a program in which territories of identifiable ethnic minorities were established, with their own languages and forms of education, the fostering of literature and cultural expression, and local forms of governance. As for dispersed minorities, even within such regions, they were provided with a stiff framework of protections, including strong penalties for any form of racial denigration and abuse. Already in 1913 Stalin had prefigured such an approach, specifying among others ‘the Jews in Poland, the Letts in Lithuania, the Russians in the Caucasus, the Poles in the Ukraine, and so on’.[13] They too – in a program of indigenization (korenizatsiia)[14] – should be able to use their own languages, operate their own schools, law-courts and soviets, and have freedom of conscience in matters relating to religion. Indeed, by the mid-1930s the Jews too were identified as a ‘nation’ with territory, having the Jewish Autonomous district in Birobidzhan.[15] This importance of this move (part of Crimea had also been proposed) is rarely recognised. It eventually failed, but it was the first move towards Jewish territory in the modern era.[16]

A final question: what about the attacks on Judaism as a religion? In 1913, Stalin wrote of the ‘petrified religious rites and fading psychological relics’[17] fostered by pockets of the ‘clerical-reactionary Jewish community’.[18] Is this anti-Semitic? No, it is anti-religious. Judaism too was subject anti-religious campaigns, which had the result not so much of divorcing Jews from their religious ‘roots’ but of producing a profound transformation in Jewish institutions and culture, so much so that one can speak of a ‘sovietisation’ of Jewish culture that produced Jews who were not religious but proud of contributions to Soviet society.[19]

What are we to make of all this? Do the hearsay and implicit assumptions speak the truth, or do Stalin’s words and actions speak the truth? I prefer the latter. But if we are to give some credence to the hearsay, then it may indicate a profoundly personal struggle for a Georgian, who was brought up with an ingrained anti-Semitism, to root it out in the name of socialism.

[1] For useful collections of such hearsay, see Erik Van Ree, The Political Thought of Joseph Stalin: A Study in Twentieth-Century Revolutionary Patriotism  (London: Routledge Curzon, 2002), 201-7; Erik Van Ree, “Heroes and Merchants: Stalin’s Understanding of National Character,” Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History 8, no. 1 (2007).

[2] Jonathan Brent and Vladimir P. Naumov, Stalin’s Last Crime: The Plot Against the Jewish Doctors, 1948-1953  (New York: HarperCollins, 2003); Simon Sebag Montefiore, Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar  (London: Phoenix, 2003), 626-39.

[3] Van Ree, The Political Thought of Joseph Stalin: A Study in Twentieth-Century Revolutionary Patriotism, 205.

[4] Van Ree, The Political Thought of Joseph Stalin: A Study in Twentieth-Century Revolutionary Patriotism, 205.

[5] As a small sample, see Benjamin Pinkus, The Jews of the Soviet Union: a History of a National Minority  (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), 138-45; Vojtech Mastny,The Cold War and Soviet Insecurity: The Stalin Years, vol. Oxford University Press (Oxford, 1996), 157-58, 162; Bernard Lewis, Semites and Anti-Semites: An Inquiry into Conflict and Prejudice  (New York: W. W. Norton, 1999), 33-38; Philip Boobyer, The Stalin Era  (London: Routledge, 2000), 78; Konstantin Azadovskii and Boris Egorov, “From Anti-Westernism to Anti-Semitism: Stalin and the Impact of the ‘Anti-Cosmopolitan’ Campaigns of Soviet Culture,”Journal of Cold War Studies 4, no. 1 (2002); Montefiore, Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar, 310-12; Simon Sebag Montefiore, Young Stalin  (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 2007), 264; Van Ree, “Heroes and Merchants: Stalin’s Understanding of National Character,” 45; Paul R. Gregory, Terror By Quota: State Security from Lenin to Stalin (An Archival Study)  (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009), 53, 265.

[6] I. V. Stalin, “The Russian Social-Democratic Party and Its Immediate Tasks,” in Works, vol. 1, 9-30 (Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1901 [1954]), 20-21; I. V. Stalin, “Rossiĭskaia sotsial-demokraticheskaia partiia i ee blizhaĭshie zadachi,” in Sochineniia, vol. 1, 11-32 (Moscow: Gosudarstvennoe izdatel´stvo politicheskoi literatury, 1901 [1946]), 21-23; I. V. Stalin, “To the Citizens: Long Live the Red Flag!,” in Works, vol. 1, 85-89 (Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1905 [1954]); I. V. Stalin, “K grazhdanam. Da zdravstvuet krasnoe znamia!,” in Sochineniia, vol. 1, 84-88 (Moscow: Gosudarstvennoe izdatel´stvo politicheskoi literatury, 1905 [1946]); I. V. Stalin, “Marxism and the National Question,” in Works, vol. 2, 300-81 (Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1913 [1953]), 319-21; I. V. Stalin, “Marksizm i natsionalʹnyĭ vopros,” in Sochineniia, vol. 2, 290-367 (Moscow: Gosudarstvennoe izdatel´stvo politicheskoi literatury, 1913 [1946]), 308-10; I. V. Stalin, “Abolition of National Disabilities,” in Works, vol. 3, 17-21 (Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1917 [1953]), 17; I. V. Stalin, “Ob otmene natsionalʹnykh ogranicheniĭ,” in Sochineniia, vol. 3, 16-19 (Moscow: Gosudarstvennoe izdatel´stvo politicheskoi literatury, 1917 [1946]), 16; I. V. Stalin, “The Immediate Tasks of the Party in the National Question: Theses for the Tenth Congress of the R. C. P. (B.) Endorsed by the Central Committee of the Party,” in Works, vol. 5, 16-30 (Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1921 [1953]), 17, 27; I. V. Stalin, “Ob ocherednykh zadachakh partii v natsionalʹnom voprose: Tezisy k Х s”ezdu RKP(b), utverzhdennye TSK partii,” in Sochineniia, vol. 5, 15-29 (Moscow: Gosudarstvennoe izdatel´stvo politicheskoi literatury, 1921 [1947]), 16, 26; Stalin, “Concerning the Presentation of the National Question,” 52-53; Stalin, “K postanovke natsionalʹnogo voprosa,” 52-53.

[7] Pinkus, The Jews of the Soviet Union: a History of a National Minority, 58-71, 77-84; Anna Shternshis, Soviet and Kosher: Jewish Popular Culture in the Soviet Union, 1923–1939  (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2006), xv-xvi.

[8] I. V. Stalin, “The Fifteenth Congress of the C.P.S.U.(B.), December 2-19, 1927,” in Works, vol. 10, 274-382 (Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1927 [1954]), 332; I. V. Stalin, “XV s”ezd VKP (b) 2–19 dekabria 1927 g,” in Sochineniia, vol. 10, 271-371 (Moscow: Gosudarstvennoe izdatel´stvo politicheskoi literatury, 1927 [1949]), 324.

[9] I. V. Stalin, “Anti-Semitism: Reply to an Inquiry of the Jewish News Agency in the United States,” in Works, vol. 13, 30 (Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1931 [1954]), 30; I. V. Stalin, “Ob antisemitizme: Otvet na zapros Evreĭskogo telegrafnogo agentstva iz Аmerik,” in Sochineniia, vol. 13, 28 (Moscow: Gosudarstvennoe izdatel´stvo politicheskoi literatury, 1931 [1951]), 28.

[10] I. V. Stalin, “Constitution (Fundamental Law) of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, With amendments adopted by the First, Second, Third, Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Sessions of the Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R., Kremlin, Moscow, December 5, 1936,” in Works, vol. 14, 199-239 (London: Red Star Press, 1936 [1978]), article 123; I. V. Stalin, “Konstitutsiia (osnovnoĭ zakon) soiuza sovetskikh sotsialisticheskikh respublik (utverzhdena postanovleniem chrezvychaĭnogo VIII s”ezda sovetov soiuza sovetskikh sotsialisticheskikh respublik ot 5 dekabria 1936 g.),” (Moscow: Garant, 1936 [2015]), stat’ia 123. This also applied to the earliest constitutions of republics, such as the RSFSR, Ukraine and Belorus. See Pinkus, The Jews of the Soviet Union: a History of a National Minority, 52-57.

[11] Pinkus, The Jews of the Soviet Union: a History of a National Minority, 84-88; Sheila Fitzpatrick, Everyday Stalinism: Ordinary Life in Extraordinary Times: Soviet Russia in the 1930  (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), 169, 186-87.

[12] Terry Martin, The Affirmative Action Empire: Nations and Nationalism in the Soviet Union, 1923-1939  (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2001); Terry Martin, “An Affirmative Action Empire: The Soviet Union as the Highest Form of Imperialism,” in A State of Nations: Empire and Nation-Making in the Age of Lenin and Stalin, ed. Ronald Grigor Suny and Terry Martin, 67-90 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001).

[13] Stalin, “Marxism and the National Question,” 375-76; Stalin, “Marksizm i natsionalʹnyĭ vopros,” 362. See also the exposition of the seventh and ninth clause of the Party Program, concerning equal rights, language and self-government in I. V. Stalin, “The Social-Democratic View on the National Question,” in Works, vol. 1, 31-54 (Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1904 [1954]), 42-46; I. V. Stalin, “Kak ponimaet sotsial-demokratiia natsionalʹnyĭ vopros?,” in Sochineniia, vol. 1, 32-55 (Moscow: Gosudarstvennoe izdatel´stvo politicheskoi literatury, 1904 [1946]), 43-47.

[14] Korenizatsiia, a term coined by the Bolsheviks, is ‘derived directly not from the stemkoren- (“root”—with the meaning “rooting”) but from its adjectival form korennoi as used in the phrase korennoi narod (indigenous people)’ Martin, “An Affirmative Action Empire: The Soviet Union as the Highest Form of Imperialism,” 74.

[15] Stalin, “Constitution (Fundamental Law) of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, With amendments adopted by the First, Second, Third, Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Sessions of the Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R., Kremlin, Moscow, December 5, 1936,” article 22; Stalin, “Konstitutsiia (osnovnoĭ zakon) soiuza sovetskikh sotsialisticheskikh respublik (utverzhdena postanovleniem chrezvychaĭnogo VIII s”ezda sovetov soiuza sovetskikh sotsialisticheskikh respublik ot 5 dekabria 1936 g.),” stat’ia 22.

[16] For a little detail, see Pinkus, The Jews of the Soviet Union: a History of a National Minority, 71-76.

[17] Stalin, “Marxism and the National Question,” 310; Stalin, “Marksizm i natsionalʹnyĭ vopros,” 300.

[18] Stalin, “Marxism and the National Question,” 374-75; Stalin, “Marksizm i natsionalʹnyĭ vopros,” 361.

[19] Shternshis, Soviet and Kosher: Jewish Popular Culture in the Soviet Union, 1923–1939, 1-43.


The CPSU(B), Gosplan and the Question of the Transition to Communist Society in the Soviet Union 1939-1953


by Vijay Singh

Marxism recognises the primary role of the industrial working class in the democratic and socialist revolutions and in the transition to communist society. In the Communist Manifesto Marx and Engels indicated that of ‘all the classes that stand face to face with the bourgeoisie today, the proletariat alone is a really revolutionary class. The other classes decay and finally disappear in the face of modern industry: the proletariat is its special and essential product.’ V.I. Lenin in A Great Beginning expressed the Marxist position that only the urban workers and the industrial workers were able to lead the whole mass of the working and exploited people to overthrow capitalism and create the new socialist system. Socialism required the abolition of classes which necessitated the abolition of all private ownership of the means of production, the abolition of the distinction between town and country as well as the distinction between manual workers and brain workers. Lenin explicitly rejected the proposition that all the ‘working people’ were equally capable of performing these historical tasks. He considered that the assumption that all ‘working people’ were able to carry out the tasks of the socialist revolution was an empty phrase or the illusion of a pre-Marxist socialist. The ability to abolish classes grew only out of the material conditions of large scale capitalist production and was possessed by the workers alone. Marxism excludes from the definition of the working class the urban and rural petty-bourgeoisie, the office staff, the mental workers as well as the toiling masses. The attempts of Russian neo-Brezhnevism to broaden and extend the definition of the working class must be rejected just as historically the attempts of the Narodniks to include the petty-bourgeoisie in this category were fought by the Bolshevists. Confusion on this question carries grave implications for the character and composition of the Communist Party, for the very existence of the dictatorship of the proletariat, for the abolition of classes and the commodity system under socialism and for the transition to Communism.

The logic of Marxism did not permit the ‘working people’ as opposed to the proletariat to direct the construction of a socialist society. In The Agrarian Question in Russia Towards The Close of The Nineteenth Century, Lenin unequivocally considered that Socialism ‘means the abolition of commodity economy’ and that so long as exchange remains ‘it is ridiculous to talk of socialism’. The dictatorship of the proletariat must remain until such time as classes disappeared, Lenin argued in his article Economics and Politics In The Era of the Dictatorship of The Proletariat. The abolition of classes under socialism entailed the end of the difference between factory worker and peasant so that all became workers. It follows from this that the proletarian party cannot be a ‘party of the whole people’ or the dictatorship of the proletariat a ‘state of the whole people’. These positions were defended in the Stalin period. In the period after collectivisation in his Speech on the Draft Constitution Stalin held that the Soviet Union had already in the main succeeded in building the foundation of a socialist society; he nevertheless in these years argued, as in his Report to the 17th Congress of the CPSU(b), that the project of building a classless socialist society remained a task for the future.

The perspective of completing the building of a classless socialist society and the gradual transition from socialism to communism was the dominating leitmotif at the 18th Congress of the CPSU(b) held in March 1939. This emerges clearly from the speeches of the Soviet leadership at the Congress. In his opening remarks to the Congress Molotov asserted that Socialism had basically been constructed in the Soviet Union and that the forthcoming period was one of the transition to Communism. Stalin in his Report to the Congress, while noting that the USSR had outstripped the principal capitalist countries with regard to the rate of industrial development and the technique of production, indicated it had yet to economically outstrip the principal capitalist states in terms of industrial consumption per head of the population, which was the pre-condition of that abundance of goods which was necessary for the transition from the first to the second phase of Communism. He anticipated that the continued existence of the Soviet state was necessary during the period that Soviet Communism was being established. Until such time as capitalist encirclement was not superceded by socialist encirclement and the danger of foreign military attack did not recede, the military, penal and intelligence organs were necessary for the survival of the USSR. The Soviet state was not to wither away in the near future, it would, however, undergo changes in conformity with domestic and international requirements. Engels’ proposition that the state would wither away in Communism, Stalin opined, assumed that the victory of communism had taken place in the major countries which was not the case in the contemporary world situation.

In his Report on the Third Five Year Plan for the Development of the National Economy of the USSR Molotov linked the new plan specifically to the task of the completion of a classless socialist society and the gradual transition from socialism to communism. Collectivisation, during the course of the Second Five Year Plan, had economically destroyed the kulaks which had been the last exploiting class existing in Soviet society. It had thus ended the private ownership of the means of production and formed the cooperative form of property relations through the establishment of the collective farms which now co-existed with the state property which had been created in the October revolution. The first phase of Communism had already been built in the USSR. The Third Five Year Plan was to be considered as a major step towards the formation of full communism. Molotov then examined the social classes which existed in the Soviet Union. Social differences persisted between the working class, the collective farm peasantry (as well as with the newly formed stratum of socialist intellectuals) corresponding to the nature of the differences in property relations between the state enterprises and the collective farms. In the transition to communist society the working class would play the leading role and the collective farm peasantry would exert an active role. Noting the distinctions between the advanced and backward strata of these classes Molotov argued that, while the majority of the populace placed the general interests of society and the state over private interests in the course of building the new society, there were sections which tried to snatch advantages from the state, just as sections of the peasantry were more worried about the welfare of their own collective farms and their own individual interests. It was the Stakhanovite movement in the factories which had established technical norms and raised labour productivity in the Second Five Year Plan period which guaranteed further successes for the Soviet Union.

In his speech to the 18th Congress the Chairman of the State Planning Commission, N.A. Voznesensky, fleshed out some basic five tasks which were required for the programme of communist construction to be brought into effect: first, the productive forces needed to be developed to that extent that the USSR economically surpassed the foremost capitalist states; second, labour productivity had to be raised to a level which would allow the Soviet Union to produce an abundance of products which would lay the basis for distribution founded upon need; third, the survivals of the contradiction between town and country had to be wiped away; fourth, the cultural and technical level of the working class had to be raised to the level of the workers who were engaged in engineering and technical work with the objective of eliminating the differences between mental and physical labour; and finally, the Socialist state had to develop new forms while building communism in the conditions of capitalist encirclement. It is significant that Voznesensky, while presenting an outline of the changes required in the society and state in the transition period to communism did not broach the question of the necessary radical reconstruction of productive relations in agriculture. In the 17th Congress of the CPSU(b) of 1934 Stalin had touched upon the necessity of effecting the transition of the collective farms based upon group property to the communes founded upon social property and the most developed technique which would lay the ground for the production of an abundance of products in society. In a pregnant remark Voznesensky suggested that the task of completing the construction of socialist society, the transition to communism and catching up and overtaking the leading capitalist countries would extend beyond the period of the Third Five Year Plan; whereas two decades had been needed for the Soviet Union to establish socialism an historically shorter span of time would be necessary for the transition to communism.

Molotov struck a note of sobriety in his concluding remarks at the Congress. While the perspective had been established of overtaking the leading countries of capitalism it was important to be aware of the shortcomings of the USSR in the economic field. Whereas the position of the working masses had improved in Soviet Russia and would further so do during the course of the Third Five Year Plan, and while the country surpassed the West in terms of production technique, it was important to recall that it lagged behind in terms of the industrial output per head of the population.

The perspectives outlined at the 18th Congress had wide-ranging ramifications. They implied that a re-writing of the programme of the party was imperative. The existing programme which was still operative formally had been adopted by the 8th party Congress in March, 1919 just a year and a half after the revolution. A new programme would of necessity have to take into account the path traversed under War Communism, the New Economic Policy, collectivisation and industrialisation in addition to the anticipated path to be followed on the way to ‘complete socialism’ and ‘full communism’. The 1919 programme had correctly called for the conversion of the means of production into the social property of the working class of the Soviet Republic. In the realm of agriculture it had enjoined the establishment of Communes for conducting large-scale socialised agriculture. The demand for the abolition of classes clearly pointed to the end of the peasantry as a class. A new programme would have to squarely face the delicate question of the conversion of the group property of the collective farms into the full social property of the whole of society. The 18th Congress constituted a 27 man Commission which was charged with the responsibility of drafting the changes in the projected Third Programme of the party. The members included Stalin, Molotov, Kaganovich, Zhdanov, Beria, Voznesensky, Vyshinsky, Kalinin, Malenkov, Manuilsky, Khrushchev, Mikoyan and Pospelov.

The transition to Communist construction implied also the long-range reorientation of Soviet planning to the goal of the laying of the material and technical basis for the new society. After consultations with members of the Academy of Social Sciences of the USSR and with members of Gosplan, Voznesensky held an extended sitting of the State Planning Commission in July 1939 which took up the question of the elaboration of the development of the Soviet economy, particularly of the expansion of the energy base of the economy. Gosplan resolved to elaborate its perspectives in terms of construction of the Angarsk hydro-electrical complex, the raising of the level of the Caspian Sea and linking the Volga with the northern rivers. These developments immediately bring to mind Lenin’s understanding that electrification would open the door to Communist society. Communism was, he said, Soviet power plus electrification of the entire country. In the context of GOELRO he had spoken of the necessity of elaborating a perspective plan for Soviet Russia which would extend over a period of 10-15 years. With the goal of strengthening the pool of scientific talent available to Gosplan for the construction of the long-term economic plan a number of Academicians, including members from the USSR Academy of Sciences were involved in the activities of the Council of Scientific-Technical Experts under Gosplan for preparing the conspectus plan. Within a year and half Gosplan prepared a perspective of the long-term plan which raised questions which went beyond the limits of the Third Five Year Plan. Arising from this Voznesensky drafted a note for Stalin and Molotov which was read at a Gosplan meeting in September 1940. The central questions for a long run economic plan designed to build a classless socialist society and communism at the level of building the productive forces were the building of the ferrous and non-ferrous metallurgical industries; the complete reconstruction of railway transport; the construction of the Kuibyshev, Solikamsk and Angarsk hydro-electrical complexes; the realisation of the Baikal-Amur mainline railway; the creation of oil and metallurgical bases in the northern part of the USSR and the development of the individual regions of the country. In his note Voznesensky requested permission for Gosplan to elaborate a general economic plan for a 15 year period to be presented to the Central Committee of the Party by the end of 1941.

Tightly integrated into the projected long term perspective plan was a new approach to regional planning involving the better utilising of productive forces by basing the new industrial complexes close to the sources of energy and raw materials, thereby economising in labour in the course of the various stages of manufacture and preparation of the final product. Voznesensky secured the creation of an Institute of Commissioners of Gosplan in all of the economic regions of the country which had the responsibility of verifying the fulfilment of the state plan and securing the development of the industrial complexes of the economic regions. The Gosplan Commissioners were charged to pay special attention to the fulfilment of the Third Five Year Plan with respect to the creation of industrial fuel bases in each economic region, securing electricity sources in each region, eliminating irrational transport hauls, mobilising local food supplies in each region and bringing economic resources to light in the economy. Special departments were created in the Gosplan apparatus to deal with the development of the economy in the different regions of the country.

On February 7th, 1941 Gosplan received a reply to its proposal to be granted permission to elaborate a 15 year economic plan which had been sent by Voznesensky to Stalin and Molotov some five months earlier. The Central Committee of the CPSU(b) and Sovnarkom now formally sanctioned the preparation of a perspective plan by Gosplan to surpass the per capita production of the capitalist countries in pig iron, steel, oil, electricity, machinery and other means of production and articles of necessity. This necessitated the independent development of science and technology in the USSR so that the natural wealth of the country could be utilised by the most developed methods to advance the organisation of production. It required, moreover, the pre-determination of the development of the basic branches of the national economy, the economic regions and the tempo and scale of production. The general plan had to determine the changes in social and political relations, the social tasks, the methods of raising the level of the workers and collective farm workers to that of workers in the technical and engineering sectors (this would have facilitated the process of the abolition of classes and the obliteration of the distinctions between the industrial working class the intelligentsia and the collective farm peasantry which followed from Lenin’s injunctions in Economic and Politics in The Era of the Dictatorship of The Proletariat).

Work on the perspective plan was allocated over two stages between January and March 1941, and April to June of the same year. As instructed the Gosplan apparatus prepared the prototype of the general plan for the period 1943-1957 in 2 volumes. This project represented the first major attempt to tackle the problems arising from the perspective of developing the Socialist economy and its growing over to a Communist economy over a period of 15 years. On the 20th anniversary of Lenin’s decree which led to the creation of the State Planning Commission Pravda on the 22nd February, 1941 began a series of articles which widely publicised the new 15 year plan.

The Nazi invasion put paid to the projects for providing the economic basis for the transition to Communism. Yet amazingly the close of hostilities witnessed a resumption of pre-war plans and projects. The Report on the Five-Year Plan for 1946-1950 and the Law on the Five-Year Planpresented by Voznesensky to the Supreme Soviet in March 1946 marked the resumption of the path of development adumbrated at the 18th Congress of the CPSU(b) for the building of the classless socialist society and the gradual transition to communism. The plan was considered a continuation of the pre-war steps designed to catch up with and surpass the main capitalist countries economically as regards the volume of industrial production per bead of the population. Stalin in September, 1946 reiterated the possibility of the construction of Communism in One Country in the USSR. A year later at the foundation of the Cominform in 1947 at Shklyarska Poremba, Malenkov added that the Central Committee of the CPSU(b) was working on the preparation of a new programme for the party as the existing one was out of date and had to be substituted by a new one.

Running parallel to these developments was the renewed attempt to formulate a long range economic plan to lay the economic and social basis for communism. In mid-1947 Voznesensky posed this question before the Central Committee. He argued that such a plan was imperative for a number of reasons. First, it was directly connected to the preparations for the new programme of the CPSU(b) as well as for the carrying out of the concrete plans which would be drawn up on the basis of the programme; second, as the tasks of expanding the productive forces and the construction of the new and large construction works (railway lines, hydro-electrical stations, metallurgical factories) did not fit into the constraints of the current 5 year plan. While reiterating the pre-war objectives of the general plan as being to overtake the advanced capitalist countries in terms of the per capita industrial production, Voznesensky now proposed a 20 year plan for the construction of Communist society in the USSR. Stalin was requested to support a draft resolution of the Central Committee of the party and the Council of Ministers giving Gosplan the responsibility to produce a 20 year general plan for submission by 15th January, 1948. This authorisation was granted on the 6th August, 1947.

The scale of activity for the drafting of the general economic plan may be judged from the fact that 80 sub-commissions were established under the Chairman of Gosplan to elaborate different aspects of the plan having the participation of economic directors, ministerial experts and academic specialists. In the autumn of 1947 Gosplan re-examined the structure of the Institute of Economics of the Academy of Sciences and modified its working by re-orientating it towards the problems facing the Soviet economy. In 1948 Gosplan, the Academy of Sciences, local party and Soviet organs held conferences to study the productive strength of the economic regions of the country; especial attention was paid to the regions of the North-West, the Central Black Earth regions, the Kuzbass, Kazakhstan, eastern Siberia and the Far East. On the basis of these preparations the framework of the perspective plan was formulated for the different branches of the national economy and the different economic regions of the Soviet Union. A draft report on the general plan for the period 1951-1970 was prepared with necessary balance calculations and other materials for presentation to the Central Committee of the CPSU(b) and the Soviet government. The Special Commission directed by Voznesensky examined the preliminary theses on the general plan in September, 1948.

Despite these energetic beginnings the 20 year General Plan was not to be completed though the theme of the transition to Communism remained a central question for the CPSU(b). The reason for this would appear to be the involvement of Voznesensky as Chairman of Gosplan in attempts to utilise commodity-money relations in the Soviet economy at an inordinate level to the extent that the very survival of the socialist economy was endangered which led to his being removed from responsible positions. Nevertheless the views of Voznesensky on the transition to communism which have come down to us through the efforts of his biographer, V.V. Kolotov have a certain interest. The elaboration of the 20 year plan was inextricably linked in the thinking of Voznesensky with laying the basis of communist society. He considered it his task to work out the laws for the establishment of communism and how the productive forces and productive relations would be connected. In his last discussions with Gosplan workers he argued that each social formation had economic laws, some which operated over different social formations, and some which were operative specifically to a particular social formation. Each social formation had its basic economic law. It was important to uncover the economic laws of Communist construction, that is the paths by which the productive relations of socialism were transformed into the relations of production of Communist society. It was necessary to elucidate the possible contradictions between the forces of production and the relations of production under the Communist mode of production, and the manner in which these might be resolved. These were the very questions which were taken up for discussion by Stalin in his comments on the November 1951 economic discussion.

While the general plan for Communist construction did not see the light of day, a number of projects designed to expand the productive forces of the Soviet Union, which had originated in the pre-war work of Gosplan, and which pertained to electrification, mechanisation, automation, and the chemification of industry did get underway. Electrification of all branches of the national economy was envisaged by the development of electro-chemistry, electro-metallurgy in ferrous and non-ferrous metals, as well as in aluminium, magnesium and their alloys. The electrification of railway transport was considered desirable for economy on fuel and rolling stock. In agriculture electricity was to be extensively used in the mechanisation of livestock farming, threshing and irrigation. In accordance with this general understanding the directives of the 19th congress of the CPSU provided for an increase of electricity by some 80% for the period 1951-55. Electrification of the economy was a central feature of the literature of the period. The grandiose construction works for communist construction included the construction of the Kuibyshev and Stalingrad hydro-electrical stations which were designed to generate about 20,000 million Kwh of electricity annually which was more than half of the total power generated in the USSR before the second world war.

The question of the changes necessary in the relations of production for the impending transition to Communism were chalked out in Stalin’s last major work. After arguing that a continuous expansion of social production was necessary in which a relatively higher rate of expansion of the production of the means of production was necessary so that reproduction on an extended scale could take place, Stalin argued that productive relations also required to be adapted to the growth of the productive forces. Already factors such as the group property of the collective-farms and commodity circulation were beginning to hamper the powerful development of the productive forces as they created obstacles to the full extension of government planning to the whole of the national economy, particularly in the field of agriculture. To eliminate contradictions it was necessary to gradually convert collective farm property into public property and to gradually introduce products-exchange in place of commodity circulation.

Needless to say the programme for developing the productive forces and restructuring the relations of production in line with the transition to communism was demolished after the death of Stalin. Under Khrushchev the question of a relatively higher rate of expansion of the means of production was not considered decisive. The perspective of the replacing of commodity circulation by the exchange of products was terminated. The new programme for ‘communist construction’ explicitly called for the utmost development of commodity-money relations: Group property, the collective farms and commodity circulation were to be preserved and not eliminated. The CPSU(b) now distanced itself from the Leninist understanding that under socialism classes needed to the abolished and that the distinctions between the factory worker and the peasant, between town and country and between mental and physical workers had to be eliminated.

The history of the CPSU(b) confirms that clarity on the question of the class approach and the necessity of defending the Marxist-Leninist approach to the definition of the proletariat is an imperative if a true Communist Party is to be constructed in the former Soviet Union. Only on this basis is it possible for the dictatorship of the proletariat to be constructed which is the decisive pre-condition for the abolition of classes, commodity production and exchange under socialism on the path to the construction of communist society.


  • XVIII S’ezd Vsesoyuznoi Kommunisticheskoi partii (b), Stenograficheskii otchet, Moscow, 1939.
  • V.V. Kolotov, Nikolai Alekseevich Voznesensky, Moscow, 1974.
  • V. Kolotov and G. Petrovichev, N.A. Voznesensky, Moscow, 1963.
  • G. Kozyachenko, ‘Krupnyi deyatel sotsialisticheskogo planirovaniya’, Planovoe Khozyaistvo, No. 10-12, 1973.
  • G. Perov, ‘Na perdenem krae ekonomicheskoi nauki i praktiki sotsialisticheskogo planirovaniya’, Planovoe Khozyaistvo No. 7-9, 1971.
  • Programma i ustav VKP(b), Moscow, 1936.
  • M. Rubinstein, O sozdannii material’no-tekhnichesko bazy Kommunizma, Moscow, 1952.
  • I. Stalin, Economicheskie problemy sotsializma V SSSR, Moscow, 1952.
  • N.A. Voznesensky, Izbrannye proizvedeniya 1931-1947, Moscow, 1979.

Paper presented to the International Scientific-Practical Conference with the Theme ‘Class Analysis in The Modern Communist Movement’ organised by the International Centre for the Formation of the Modern Communist Doctrine in Moscow on the 8-10th November, 1996.

Socialism and Bureaucracy


In the following article, A. Clark examines the problem of bureaucracy from the point of view of a society going through a process of socialist transformation. He suggests that the continually advancing technological revolution in the field of computerisation and the communication and information revolution will serve as the material base to resolve most or even all of the problems associated with bureaucracy.


The first successful socialist seizure of power by the working class did not end, but rather more aptly started with the problems of bureaucracy. Lenin’s initial optimism on having curtailed bureaucracy and its nefarious influence was short-lived. This was replaced by a more realistic view of the nature of the problem. In 1922, Lenin noted that

‘If we take Moscow with its 4,700 communists in responsible positions, we must ask: who is directing whom? I doubt very much whether it can be said that the communists are directing that heap. To tell the truth, they are not directing, they are being directed’. (Lenin: Vol. 33, pp.288-289)

Here Lenin identifies what was to become a perennial theme of the Russian socialist revolution – the relation between the communists and the soviet bureaucracy, which included the struggle between them. Pre-Revolutionary Russia had behind it a long bureaucratic tradition and this bureaucratic past was superimposed, so to speak, on the new revolution. But in addition to the superimposition of this bureaucratic past on the new revolution, there was the fact that the state increasingly began to direct all aspects of the national economy. Even the collective farms, which emerged after the collectivisation drive in the 1930s, although not state institutions, were not completely autonomous from the state. The extension of state ownership and therefore the role of the state in the economy were bound to increase the size of the state administration and therefore a tendency towards bureaucracy was reinforced.

The increase in the size of the means of administration as a consequence of the extension of the regulatory influence of the state over the economy is not necessarily identical with what is referred to as the problem of bureaucracy, although it is often related to it. In other words, bureaucracy and administration are not the same thing even if usually closely related.

The view that state ownership necessarily leads to an increase in bureaucracy is not a valid argument, although it is a favourite argument for those who want to argue a case against socialism. Most theorists on bureaucracy disagree about the exact meaning of the term, and indeed, the problem of bureaucracy will arise mostly in cases where a bureaucracy is incompetent and dysfunctional. The soviet bureaucracy was a case in point. It had largely been inherited from Tsarism. Lenin had considered that, if the soviet bureaucracy rose to the level of competence of a bureaucracy that existed in one of the advanced bourgeois democratic republics, this would have constituted a big step forward for the Workers State. Had Russia gone through a long period of a bourgeois democratic republic, the problems of bureaucracy as it applies to the functional side of the question may hardly have arisen at all, at least no more than in an advanced capitalist country.

In historical terms Russia skipped a long period of bourgeois democratic development, and so the problems of bureaucracy were posed in a rather sharp, and at times, aggressive manner. To the functional side of the question of bureaucracy were added the socio-political problem of the state bureaucracy, or its leading stratum, consolidating itself into a special, privileged caste elevated above the masses.


The struggle against the soviet bureaucracy consolidating itself into a special privileged caste, which could usurp political power, or subvert the struggle for socialism, is part of the history of the Russian socialist revolution. Lenin in his writings on soviet bureaucracy refers to bureaucratic ‘grandees’. Svetlana, Stalin’s daughter, mentions Stalin’s reference to a ‘damned caste’. [1]

Stalin’s role here was decisive. He was in the forefront of the anti-bureaucratic struggle, which included the struggle against the soviet bureaucracy turning itself into a caste, which could potentially seize political power. This has been described by one writer as Stalin’s anti-bureaucrat scenario. [2] Thus in the middle and late 1930s the struggle against the enemies hiding in the soviet bureaucracy came to a head. Even as early as 1919, Lenin had pointed out that

‘The Tsarist bureaucrats began to join the Soviet institutions and practice their bureaucratic methods, they began to assume the colouring of communists and, to succeed better in their careers, to procure membership cards of the Russian Communist Party’. (Lenin: March 1919, Vol. 29; p.183)

The nature of these purges has confused many bourgeois writers on the revolution. Pseudo-left elements, especially Trotskyists, misconstrue the purges completely suggesting that they represented counterrevolution. In reality, the purges were directed against the counterrevolution, which is the emerging new consensus of the more serious writers although they are anti-Stalinist.

That Trotsky could convince his small band of devotees that the purges were counterrevolutionary is not altogether surprising. After losing political power, Trotsky eventually abandoned the Leninist view on combating bureaucracy. Lenin had argued that the struggle against bureaucracy was a long-term process.
Trotsky rejected this view when he found himself outside of the communist party. On the question of fighting bureaucracy, Trotsky went over to a short-term perspective, misleading those who were ignorant or foolish enough to follow him, to believe that the problems arising from bureaucracy could be resolved by means of a ‘political revolution’. This is precisely what Lenin had warned against, i.e., making a political platform out of the issue of bureaucracy.

Trotsky, rejecting Lenin on this issue and his slogan of ‘political revolution’ against the soviet bureaucracy could only serve the interest of bourgeois democratic counterrevolution. It is perhaps necessary to add here that when the Stalinist leadership turned against soviet bureaucracy, they were not going against Lenin’s advice on how to combat bureaucracy. [3] The Stalinist drive against the soviet bureaucracy served several different purposes. For Stalin, like Lenin, there could be no talk of smashing or overthrowing the soviet bureaucracy. While Trotsky and his supporters were putting forward the ultra-left theory about a counterrevolutionary ‘Stalinist’ bureaucracy, the Stalinists, guided by Marxism-Leninism saw the issue not in terms of overthrowing the supposedly counterrevolutionary soviet bureaucracy but rather purging the counterrevolutionary elements in the soviet bureaucracy.

It is clear that Marxist-Leninists, like Stalin, rejected Trotsky’s short-term strategy for fighting bureaucracy based on the idea of a political revolution. Trotsky had reached this conclusion not because it was scientifically correct, but rather because he saw it as the only means of regaining political power. On the question of fighting bureaucracy, Stalin adhered to Lenin’s line.

The more serious bourgeois researchers into these matters come closer to the truth than any Trotskyist interpretation, thus Getty, when referring to the purges of the middle and late 1930s concludes that

‘The evidence suggests that the Ezhovschchina – which is what most people mean by the ‘Great Purges’ – should be redefined. It was not the result of a petrified bureaucracy stamping out and annihilating old radical revolutionaries. In fact, it may have been just the opposite. It is not inconsistent with the evidence to argue that the Ezhovschchina was rather a radical, even hysterical, reaction to bureaucracy’. (J. Arch Getty: The Origins of the Great Purges: The Soviet Communist Party reconsidered – 1933-1938; p.206) [4]

In Getty’s view, then, the Stalinist purges constitute a radical, ‘even hysterical, reaction to bureaucracy’. This was certainly the apogee of radical Stalinist anti-bureaucratism. For Stalin the soviet bureaucracy had to be purged of all actual and potential counterrevolutionary elements. It was not a question of overthrowing the soviet bureaucracy, as the ultra-left Trotskyists would have, but rather of purging it of all counterrevolutionary elements. Many believe that the Soviet Union would not have stood up to the later Nazi aggression had this action not been taken.

Stalin’s anti-bureaucratic credentials can therefore be clearly established, although the problems of bureaucracy remained and could not be solved until society had reached a higher technical level.

In one form or another, to one degree or another previous socialist regimes have had to face this problem. The Titoite revisionists of Yugoslavia saw the solution in terms of decentralisation. In socialist Albania, the Cultural Revolution, with bureaucracy as one of its targets, began when in 1966 the Central Committee sent an open letter to all party members attacking the evils of bureaucracy. There began a significant reduction in the size of bureaucracy and Albania copied the Maoist line. Those bureaucrats who remained had to spend one month each year performing service in manual labour to keep them in touch with the working class and peasantry.

In truth though, this approach, whether in China or Albania, had no long-term benefits. It did however succeed in alienating the administrative staff, who naturally saw themselves as victims and were resentful of the disruption caused to the economy by these anti-bureaucratic drives.

As previously pointed out, the struggle against bureaucracy in a socialist country has two sides to it. First, there is the struggle against the dysfunctional aspect of bureaucracy. This includes the gradual reduction of the size of bureaucracy, while improving its administrative performance. The other aspect of this struggle is that aimed at preventing the bureaucracy, in particular its managerial layers separating itself from the rest of society – and becoming a privileged caste which can seize political power. Because bureaucracy has no particular ideology or ownership of property holding it together the possibility of it actually seizing political power is rather more problematic than is often realised.


For Marxists, the state is the inevitable product of class society. As classes fade away, the state in the sense of bodies of armed men and all its appurtenances, for the repression of one class by another will fade away. Bureaucracy is one of the forms in which state power in class society expresses itself. The function of the state is to defend a particular social set-up and its ruling class. This applies to socialist society with the same force as it applies to capitalist society. As long as capitalism and the bourgeoisie exist all talk about the withering away of the state is foolhardy in the extreme.

The Soviet State illustrates this point clearly. It had to grow in power and strength in order to resist the pressure of imperialism and world reaction. Those, like the Yugoslav revisionists who attacked Stalin for not promoting a premature withering away of the state, simply demonstrate their anarchist and anti-Marxist conceptions of this process. The state rises and falls with class society. Its departure from the historical stage cannot precede the departure of classes.

Just as Marxist-Leninists want a state that serves socialism, they want the bureaucracy to serve socialism as well. Stalin’s struggle with the soviet bureaucracy is well known and documented. This struggle was certainly inevitable. The essence of this struggle was to get the bureaucracy to serve the interest of socialism. But Stalin understood the contradictory nature of the struggle against bureaucracy. He knew the communist must struggle against bureaucracy while using it at the same time. Bureaucracy is a means of administration by specialists, which is deployed in the interest of socialism by the political leadership of the working class, while at the same time fighting its negative aspects.

When the state takes over the running of industry this can lead to an increase in its administrative functions, and hence bureaucracy. However, it is wrong to view an increase in administrative bureaucracy as a logical result of socialism per se. It is rather a result of the technological level of the given society. Thus, the state of technology comes into play when we consider the extent of the process of bureaucratisation. In other words, the process of bureaucratisation is determined by science and technology.

In today’s world of the continuing rapid advances in the technological revolution, with no end in sight, administrative systems are bound to reflect technological advances. This would suggest that administrative systems will decrease in size while increasing in their ability to process and control information. The old views that state ownership and socialism lead inevitably to an increase in administrative bureaucracy will no longer be plausible. Implicit in all this is the withering away of the state and bureaucracy.

This process, i.e., the withering away of the state and bureaucracy is part of the process of achieving communist society based on advancing technological revolution. For these reasons, it is incumbent on serious Marxists to reject pseudo-left Trotskyist theories that bureaucracies under socialism can be overthrown by means of ‘political revolutions’.

A. Clark.


[1] Svetlana Alliluyeva: 20 Letters to a Friend; p. 174.

[2] See Lars Lih’s introduction to: Stalin’s Letters to Molotov.

[3] The term ‘Stalinist’ refers to those who supported Stalin.

[4] The word ‘Ezhovschchina’, from the name Ezhov, sometimes spelt Yezhov, was the name of Nikolai Ezhov, who replaced Yagoda as head of Soviet security and subsequently put in charge of the purges.

William Blum on the “Death of Socialism” in the 20th Century


“The boys of Capital, they also chortle in their martinis about the death of socialism. The word has been banned from polite conversation. And they hope no one will notice that every socialist experiment of any significance in the twentieth century — without exception — was either overthrown, invaded, corrupted, perverted, subverted, destabilized, or otherwise had life made impossible for it, by the United States and its allies. Not one socialist government or movement — from the Russian Revolution to the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, from Communist China to the FMLN in El Salvador — not one was permitted to rise or fall solely on its own merits; not one was left secure enough to drop its guard against the all-powerful enemy abroad and freely and fully relax control at home. It’s as if the Wright brothers’ first experiments with flying machines all failed because the automobile interests sabotaged each test flight. And then the good and god-fearing folk of the world looked upon these catastrophes, nodded their heads wisely, and intoned solemnly: Humankind shall never fly.”

— William Blum, “Killing Hope: US Military And CIA Interventions Since World War II.”

Why Does the Pseudo-Left Hate Grover Furr?


by Espresso Stalinist

Grover Furr is an American professor and author. He has taught at Montclair State University in New Jersey for over four decades, and has written essays, articles and books on Soviet history in both Russian and English. Though his body of work covers a wide variety of topics, his most famous writings study the period of Soviet history under Joseph Stalin, particularly regarding controversies around the Moscow Trials, the Katyn “massacre,” the events in Poland in 1939, the murder of Sergei Kirov, the Ukrainian famine and Khrushchev’s “secret speech.” Furr’s research on the history of communism, Soviet history and the historical falsifications told against socialism is some of the most remarkable, ground-breaking and enlightening in the world. He uses a very precise and admirable document-based approach to research that is exceedingly valuable and hard to find elsewhere.

This approach, unsurprisingly, has won him more than a fair share of enemies and critics, not only on the right but the left as well. Those on the left who attack Grover Furr are the most peculiar of his critics. Professor Furr is someone that sets about examining historical allegations used to attack socialism, and in his published books and articles finds and publishes objective documentary and archival proof that it is not true, or at least deceptive. In other words, he spends a great deal of time and effort countering bourgeois propaganda about Marxism-Leninism. What has been their response? To attack him. One would think someone who speaks Russian, has translated Russian documents and has access to the archives would be of interest to those looking to learn about the history of socialism. One would further think, that a sincere person who considers themselves a socialist or a Marxist would thank Grover Furr for finding proof that a large portion of what we are told about Stalin and the U.S.S.R. are lies.

We live in an age where most Marxist or progressive academics who dare to challenge the status quo are fired, sidelined, driven out of academia or simply deemed irrelevant. Only a fool would pretend that academic repression isn’t a reality. Yet, when it comes to the brave, bold and challenging works Furr has published, critics universally dismiss them without reviewing the evidence he presents. In discussions, I have never heard them say, “No Professor Furr, I disagree with your thesis statement, and wish to make a counter-thesis. Here are my facts, arguments and sources backing it up.” Instead, what I hear over and over is his work dismissed as “absurd,” “insane,” or Furr himself labeled as a “crackpot” or “Stalinist.” There is almost always an attempt to link his methods of research to anti-Semites and fascists, or even outright call him a “Holocaust denier,” implicitly comparing Soviet history with Nazi Germany.

Why do his critics almost universally behave in this manner? The answer is simply: because they can’t refute anything he says.

For all Furr’s research has contributed to our understanding of Soviet history and to refuting the lies told about life in socialist countries, his critics and opponents have not offered any meaningful refutation of his works or even engaged with the evidence contained therein. When pressed to sum up his theses, the evidence he presents to support them, and then to offer counter-evidence and refutations of their own, silence fills the space. Very few, if any of his critics are capable of defining what specific points of his works they disagree with or can prove false. Often they assert things that are already addressed in the article in question. The opponents of Furr’s research, whatever their ideological differences may be, all share one common thread that over time is rendered impossible to miss. For all their ranting and raving, not a single one directly challenges him on the sources or attempts to refute his argument. There is a concrete reason for this – opposition to Furr’s research comes from knee-jerk anti-communism.

The pseudo-left’s endless venom towards Furr’s work is entirely (no, not partially, or even mostly, but from what I have seen, entirely) devoid of counter-criticism, counter-evidence, contrasting research or engagement in any way, shape or form with Furr’s work. At the present time, there are no scholarly refutations of Grover Furr’s work. Hostile reviews, on the other hand, are plentiful. Nor is there any lack of critics who chant “give us more evidence,” demanding a larger amount of evidence to their satisfaction – which of course, is a level of evidence that will never exist, no matter how much of it there is. Another consistent pattern with his critics is that they assume that an author must be able to prove the meaning of their research to the satisfaction of a hostile or skeptical critic in order to be considered valid. If the author fails to accomplish this task, it proves that he or she doesn’t understand what it means, and furthermore their failure to do so is definitive proof that the entirety of the research is consequently meaningless.

The debate on Grover Furr is always about form – the person, his writing style, his alleged motives, his allege dishonesty or lack of qualifications, and never about content – the evidence presented, what it shows, and whether it’s true or not. The infantile pseudo-left responds to science with provocation, facts with hostility, reason with insults, ideological questions with personal attacks, and the deep questions posed by Furr’s work with shallow criticisms. This is not to say that anyone who has criticisms of Furr’s work is automatically opposed to socialism. Far from it – criticism is an essential part of being a Marxist-Leninist. But by and large the criticisms of Grover Furr are not made from a principled standpoint.

“No one takes Grover Furr seriously” is the refrain. Yet, John Arch Getty, Robert Thurston, Lars Lih and many others have praised Furr’s work while disagreeing with his politics. One does not have to completely share Furr’s worldview to find a great deal of value in his essays, articles and books. In fact, any serious researcher, Marxist or not, can learn a great deal from the evidence he gathers to back up his viewpoints, evidence that is almost never studiously read or studied by those who violently denounce it. If the idea that Furr is not a serious academic is a legitimate position to take, then there should be criticisms of his scholarship. Perhaps not surprisingly, I haven’t heard a single argument as to why Grover Furr is an unacceptable source of information other than his opinions aren’t popular. If his arguments themselves cannot be addressed, then his critics have no right to reject the citing of his work.

Much is made of Furr’s “academic credentials,” or alleged lack thereof, to write about the subjects he chooses. He is an English professor they say, and therefore cannot be considered an authority on history. These noble knights dedicated to the defense of “credible” capitalist academia you see, must speak out against Furr. Yet, these same people have no problem with the works of Noam Chomsky, a linguist who writes an endless parade of books on a wide variety of subjects outside of his field, such as criticizing U.S. foreign policy, economy, science, immigration and the Cold War. Anyone who is familiar with Chomsky’s work knows his views are fairly traditional anarchism combined with Enlightenment-era classical liberalism. They are not friendly to socialism, and certainly no threat to anyone in the ruling class. Speaking out against imperialism in of itself is not a particularly radical act, especially when you’re not criticizing it from a Marxist perspective. Many far-rightists and libertarians speak out against U.S. foreign policy as well. Why the double standard? What is the difference between Furr and Chomsky? Quite simple, really. Chomsky is the poster boy of left anti-communism, of a “safe” and defanged leftism deprived of anything not acceptable to the bourgeoisie. Meanwhile, Furr’s research attempts to refute popular anti-communist propaganda instead of accepting it. The pseudo-left would rather back the petty-bourgeois cause than the proletarian one, because they are “radicals” stuck in that method of thinking.

It is is absolutely inarguable that the modern view of the history of socialism has been shaped by those who despise it, and yet phony leftists have no trouble upholding the most vile smears against Soviet, Eastern European and Chinese history. In an atmosphere where the highly dubious works of Robert Conquest and Richard Pipes are upheld as a dogma and treated as material to be seriously engaged with or even refuted, Furr’s work is singled out by both reactionaries and the pseudo-left for outright dismissal and slander.

When denial is not enough, general charges are invented, such as the allegation his presentations of history are “conspiracy theories.” This has also been used to describe the works of other Marxist-Leninist scholars, such as William Bland. I stress again that until there are refutations, one cannot accept these charges. After all, with all the history of capitalist plots we’ve learned, can one seriously accept this level of argumentation? Are the facts true, or not? Blanket cries of “Stalinist” directed against Furr mean nothing. If critics have counter-evidence, then let them step forward and present it. This should not be an unreasonable demand for a Marxist – or for anyone, really.

When Furr speaks of opposition conspiracies within the Soviet Union, or of holes and outright falsifications in the official story of Katyn, these are treated with the utmost skepticism. The idea that the defendants of the Moscow Trials may have actually been involved in terrorist conspiracies to overthrow the Soviet government and assassinate officials is seen as nonsense. Yet, when we are presented with stories of a heinous conspiracy involving J.V. Stalin and a substantial number of other high officials to themselves assassinate Zinoviev, Bukharin and a number of others through judicial means, then this “conspiracy theory” is adopted as the default correct position. It follows that it is easier to go along with the dominant narrative – that is, that of the bourgeoisie – regarding the history of socialism than it is to objectively challenge these ideas.

With the fake left, the formula could not be more simple: U.S. Cold War propaganda is upheld, pro-communist scholarly research is not. Every charge against the socialist countries is true; every defense of socialism is akin to Holocaust denial. Those who would agree, at least in words, that the history of the Soviet Union is falsified by capitalist scholars and reactionaries, and that socialist leaders are routinely subjected to outright slander are declared “insane,” their research or conclusions “absurd,” and derided as “crackpots” or “Stalinists.” The critics do not review the evidence or engage with the thesis; they merely dismiss it. They do not present counter-evidence; they merely assert it. Furr’s fake “left” opponents claim that Furr is “not credible scholarship” only because they don’t agree with it. Furr is only a “crackpot” because they don’t like what he has to say. In their view, scholarly research that counters the bourgeois propaganda narrative of history should be cast aside, silenced, devalued, delegitimized, hidden from the public view and ultimately, destroyed.

It seems to me the “left” needs to look in a mirror and stare itself straight in the eye, and ask: what have we come to, if we cannot refute these works? What exactly does it say, when the entire pseudo-left cannot refute someone who is supposedly “a crackpot with no academic credentials?” What does it say, when they cannot even define the actual content of his work when asked, yet they have already declared it false on the whole? What does it say, when they have no evidence to counter Furr’s claims, but rely on attacking Grover Furr the person?

Any allegations that his works are “below criticism” are disingenuous. If they are worthy of such hostility, then they are worthy of honest criticism. If only all of us checked their facts and cited their sources for all to see like Furr does, rather than rest on our own preconceived notions and prejudices, perhaps the American left wouldn’t be in such a precarious position these days.

The pseudo-left’s hatred has nothing to do with honesty. This is because of anti-communism, not political disagreement, not ideological difference, not a problem with Furr’s research or his conclusions, not an issue with his methods, or legitimate criticism of his evidence. It is a liberal and reactionary view that anything anti-Soviet and anti-Stalin must be true, while anything that challenges that view must be attacked, smeared, demonized, ridiculed and silenced. When evidence is not engaged with or dismissed, and the person themselves is slandered, it is not principled disagreement, it is not ideological difference – it is hate and prejudice.

The question stands: why does the pseudo left hate Grover Furr? The answer becomes plain: they hate Grover Furr precisely because his works challenge the hegemony of the Trotsky-Khrushchev-Gorbachev-Cold War anti-communist anti-Stalin paradigm, the dominant paradigm of the bourgeoisie. In other words, they hate Grover Furr because he is a good communist in an age filled with fake ones. They hate Grover Furr because he is an honest researcher in an age filled to the brim with propaganda. They hate Grover Furr because he has evidence for the conclusions he draws and presents it openly, rather than relying on emotionalism. They hate Grover Furr because he challenges the bourgeois anti-communist understanding of Soviet history. These days pseudo-leftists are not just dishonest or liberal; they are avowed anti-communists.

Video: Stalin’s Last Speech, 1952 [Subtitled]

Georgi Dimitrov And The Fight Against Titoism In Bulgaria


Vulko Chervenkov


The following portions of the report by Vulko Chervenkov on the phenomenon of Traicho Kostovism constitutes formidable evidence of the bitter struggle between Marxism and Titoism which took place in Bulgaria in the late 1940s and early 1950s. But there is also specific information on the role of Dimitrov in confronting the menace of Titoist ideology which had secured important footholds in the party and the state. Chervenkov cites two important extracts of Dimitrov’s report to the XVI plenum of the Bulgarian Workers’ Party which was held in July 1948 shortly after the correspondence of Stalin and Molotov with Tito and Kardelj and the 1948 resolution of the Information Bureau which adverted to the serious shortcomings of the Yugoslav leadership on political and economic questions. They reveal the lessons drawn by Dimitrov from the negative impact of the activities of the Yugoslav leaders on the policies of the Bulgarian communists with regard to the Fatherland Front and the state apparatus. This material substantiates further the criticism made by Dimitrov in December 1948 of the Tito group at the Fifth Congress of the Bulgarian Communist Party for its striving for hegemony in the Balkans while claiming to uphold the project of Lenin and the Comintern to construct a Balkan Federation.(1)

These materials provide further proof that the Yugoslav contention that Dimitrov gave succour to them in their battle against the CPSU(b) and the USSR is without any basis. Shortly after the death of Stalin the CPSU and the CPC re-established fraternal relations with the Yugoslav revisionists.(2) It was to be the harbinger of the rapid introduction of the Yugoslav-style nationalism and ‘market socialism’, which had been built up by Tito in Yugoslavia in a systemic manner from 1948-49, into the economic relations of society in the Soviet Union and People’s China after the 20th Congress of the CPSU and the 8th Congress of the CPC in 1956.

In the new political dispensation and as part of the policy of the removal of communists from positions of authority in the Soviet Union and the people’s democracies Vulko Chervenkov was compelled to abandon the post of party secretaryship in February 1954 which was then taken up by the rank revisionist Todor Zhivkov. The writings of Dimitrov were now re-edited to correspond to the requirements of modern revisionism. The critical remarks of Dimitrov at the XVI plenum regarding Titoism were omitted from the ‘authoritative’ collection of his writings which was published in Bulgaria.(3) Later editions of the writings of Dimitrov did not carry this speech at all.(4)

It is apparent that the bulk of the writings of Dimitrov published after 1953 which are circulating internationally and have been consulted by two generations of the communist movement can neither be considered to be representative selections of the corpus of his written work nor may they be treated as textually reliable expressions of his actual writings.

Vijay Singh


1 Georgi Dimitrov, The South Slav Federation and the Macedonian Question, ‘Revolutionary Democracy’, Volume VIII No. 2, September 2002, pp. 106-112.

2 See Moni Guha, Yugoslav Revisionism and the Role of the CPSU and the CPC, Calcutta, 1978; and Mao Zedong On Diplomacy, Beijing, 1998, p.195.

3 Georgi Dimitrov, S”chineniya, Tom 14, mart 1948-yuni 1949, Sofia, 1955, pp. 162-177.

4 Georgi Dimitrov, Selected Works, 3 Volumes, Sofia Press, Sofia, 1972. The CPI publications of Dimitrov in this country followed this trend. The bulk of Dimitrov’s work available on the internet conforms to the revisionist redaction.

Nationalism and nationalistic manifestations must be rooted out wherever they are encountered, as a hostile, fascist ideology, as the greatest evil.

Nationalism reveals itself in hostility to the Soviet Union, in the disparaging of its successes, in the refusal to recognise and in the denial of the universal historic experience of the Great October Socialist Revolution as an example and model for all workers and toilers in the whole world, in the underestimation of one’s own strength and successes, in the underestimation of the strength and successes of others, in the denial of international proletarian solidarity. Nationalism is the ideology of treachery to the camp of peace, democracy and socialism, of departure from this camp and transference to the camp of imperialism, of the restoration, of Bonapartist counter-revolution.

Nationalism means the perverting of the Party into a bourgeois, counter-revolutionary party. Nationalism means the turning of Bulgaria into an imperialist colony. Nationalism is a death blow to patriotism, to true love of the native land. Without unsparing struggle to death against nationalism, there can be no communist party.

Traichokostovism is Bulgarian nationalism, the betrayal of socialism, of Bulgaria. We must smash to pieces the vile and dangerous conception of some peculiar Bulgarian path towards socialism, of the superiority of our Bulgarian path toward socialism over the Soviet path, of the possibility of the smoothing over of the class struggle in the period of transition from capitalism to socialism. We must frankly confess that we paid tribute to this conception under the influence of the Titoists in the period when we still considered them honest folk. That harmful influence was reflected in some attitudes at the time of the reorganisation of the Fatherland Front, in the work of some Ministers. On how rotten and treacherous a plank we then tried to set our feet, is now clearer than ever. We took measures in time, but in this respect we must thank comrade Stalin, the Central Committee of the CPSU(b), the resolution of the Cominform-bureau of June 1948.

Still further with all our might must we strengthen, broaden and guard as the apple of our eye Bulgarian-Soviet friendship, and train the Party in the spirit of proletarian internationalism, which in our time has its clearest and best expression in friendship with the Soviet Union – the mighty citadel of victorious socialism, of international revolution – in loyalty and devotion to the Soviet Union, the CPSU(b) and comrade Stalin. Not in word, but in deed let us still more energetically train and prepare the Party to be faithful and loyal to proletarian internationalism, to the Soviet Union, the CPSU(b), to the great and beloved teacher and guide comrade Stalin to the end and in all circumstances.

We must be true to the legacy of comrade Georgi Dimitrov.

In his speech to the XVI Plenum of the Central Committee comrade Georgi Dimitrov declared:

‘We frequently lose sight of the fact that although the Communist international does not exist, the communist parties form one single international communist front under the leadership of the mightiest, experienced in the fight against capitalism and in the construction of socialism, party of Lenin and Stalin: that all the communist parties have one single scientific theory as their guide to action – Marxism-Leninism, and that they all have one general universally recognised guide and teacher – comrade Stalin the leader of the glorious Bolshevik party and the great land of socialism.

‘The Yugoslav example sufficiently clearly shows that those who stand at the head of the collective leadership of their parties, whoever they may be, must sense the control of the Party. They must never forget that leaders of the Party can change, but the Party remains, and will remain. It is not the Party that should depend on the leaders, but the leaders on the Party and they will be true party leaders to the extent that they remain loyal to the invincible Marxist-Leninist teaching and fulfil the sound collective will of the Party.

‘If we, the leaders of the Party, remain to the end faithful pupils of Lenin and Stalin, if like Bolsheviks we instantly discover, admit and quickly correct our mistakes and weaknesses, the danger for our party of a crisis such as the Yugoslav crisis will be completely ruled out.

‘But we in fact have decided to remain faithful to death to Marxism-Leninism, to international communist solidarity, to our genial teachers – Lenin and Stalin, and also to learn from them constantly, tirelessly, always more enthusiastically and proficiently.’

At the Fifth Congress of our Party comrade Georgi Dimitrov declared:

‘Our party has before it the example of the great Bolshevik party, from whose experiences it learns, and whose Central Committee and its genial leader, comrade Stalin have more than once given us invaluable aid with their advice and directions. Our party, which takes an active part in the Information bureau of communist and workers’ parties, is proud to find itself in the great family of the whole world, headed by the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the genial leader of the whole of progressive mankind – Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin.’

This legacy of comrade Georgi Dimitrov we must fulfil without contradiction and to the end….

For over a year or more we have been fighting to overcome the shortcomings and weaknesses in our work. We are already having remarkable successes, particularly since the discovery of the Traichokostovist gang, after the June Plenum of the Central Committee. Yet in this respect an enormous amount of work lies ahead of us. We have finally to overcome the principal weaknesses and shortcomings in our work. For that reason and in order to bring out clearly why we did not discover Traichokostovism earlier, in my report I drew the greatest attention to our shortcomings, weaknesses and errors as they existed on the eve of the discovery and destruction of Traichokostovism.

The present plenum, drawing lessons from the fight against Traichokostovism, will arm us for the fresh struggle to overcome successfully our own shortcomings.

Second. We must beware of incorrect generalisations when we speak of the shortcomings in our work. Such incorrect generalisations would lead us to incorrect and dangerous conclusions. One or two comrades who have spoken mixed their colours too thickly, and I fear lest they should paint too black a picture, lest the whole of our work in the period up to the V Congress should appear to be almost entirely mistaken. That is incorrect. That is absolutely incorrect, comrades.

The general line of our party was and is correct. The Traichokostov blackguards prepared their conspiracy, they wished to oust comrade Georgi Dimitrov precisely because the general policy and work of our party was correct.

The letters of the Central Committee of the CPSU (b) to the Central Committee of the Yugoslav Communist Party were and are of remarkably valuable assistance to the Communist parties. You know how these letters were received by the present day ‘leaders’ of Yugoslavia. But among us, the leadership of our party headed by comrade Georgi Dimitrov, it was quite the reverse. With all our might we undertook to implement the advice and recommendations contained in those letters and, in the light of sustained, just and penetrating criticism of the Titoists, to review our work, to remove admitted errors, and to beware of false steps.

What is evident from this fact? This fact bears evidence that our political line was and is correct, that thanks to it we achieved several important positive results. But that does not mean that we did not admit errors, that we were without serious weaknesses. This fact shows that our shortcomings and weakness were not organic, insuperable shortcomings. They can be overcome. In a short time we can overcome them, and we will overcome them if only we seriously wish to do so. I think that the present plenum of the Central Committee wishes to do precisely this.

That is how the matter stands. For that reason when criticising our shortcomings we must not fall into extremes. The criticism and self-criticism which we should develop and instil into the party by every means, must raise and increasingly strengthen the authority of the Central Committee and of the whole party as a Bolshevik party. I am deeply convinced that as a result of the sustained implementation of the decisions of our plenum the authority of the Central Committee and of the whole party will increase.

Third. Some comrades ask who is personally responsible for our earlier adoption of negative Yugoslav experience.

The question is very simple. At the time of the civil war in the Ukraine, as comrade Stalin has stated, the revolutionary workers and sailors who were pursuing the White bandits not far from Odessa were saying: let’s only get to Odessa, arrest the Entente and then that will be the end of all our suffering and hardship.

On the question of personal responsibility for our adoption of negative Yugoslav experience before the Cominformbureau resolution, some comrades are seeking to ‘arrest the Entente.’

The task is more complicated unfortunately. Up to the beginning of 1948 all of us in the leadership of the party were insufficiently vigilant, were uncritical and blindly trustful of the Titoists. That circumstance enabled the envoys of the present-day fascist henchmen of imperialism from Belgrade to spy upon us, to study us thoroughly, to establish nests of conspirators in our country with the aid of their fellow-spies in Traicho Kostov’s gang.

On this point comrade Georgi Dimitrov in his report to the Central Committee at the XVI Plenum declared:

‘… as the nearest neighbours of Yugoslavia, bound in closest collaboration with the Yugoslav Communists, we did not display the necessary vigilance towards these leaders, we had an uncritical attitude towards them although some of them clearly gave us cause for adopting a critical attitude. We did not follow closely the policy and activity of the Yugoslav leaders, with whom we proposed to establish a federation of South Slavs. It is precisely the absence of careful and close study of the policies pursued by the Yugoslav leaders, and our blind trust in them, which explains a certain harmful influence which their policy had upon our party also. That harmful influence is reflected especially in the reorganisation of the Fatherland Front and the State apparatus. The transfer of party cadres into the state apparatus and the Fatherland Front took place in such a manner that it produced a certain undisputed weakening of the party leadership – at the centre and in other places.’

The blame for our adoption of negative Yugoslav experience falls upon us all, upon the whole party leadership. The letters of the Central Committee of the CPSU(B) to the Central Committee of Yugoslav Communist Party saved us from grave disaster.

Fourth. Comrade Krustyu Stoychev finds that we criticise him because he carried out the decisions on the Macedonian question taken at the X Plenum of the Central Committee.

Is that why we criticise comrade Krustyu Stoychev? If that is the case, why should we criticise comrade Krustyu Stoychev alone? If that is the case we should first of all criticise ourselves.

Comrade Krustyu Stoychev is making a diversion. The decisions of the X Plenum of the Central Committee on the Macedonian question were the party line during the period up to the betrayal of the Titoists, up to the Cominformbureau resolution.

What is the point at issue, Comrade Kr. Stoychev? For what should you answer? For upholding the party line in that period? No! As if a party worker could be brought to account… for upholding the party line!

Comrade Stoychev, the point at issue is quite a different one. The point is this. Was the Central Committee of our party circumvented by the then District Committee of the party in the Pirin region when it entered into relations with the Kolishevists? Were meetings with them arranged without the knowledge of the Central Committee? Was comrade Georgi Dimitrov discredited in the Pirin region, were his portraits taken down? To whom did certain groups of Septemvriiche take the oath – to comrade Georgi Dimitrov or to Tito? At that time was there an agreement between you and the Titoists behind the back of the Central Committee of our party?

That is the point at issue. That is why we are asking: Are you in any way to blame in this matter? Did you know of such occurrences? Did you warn the Central Committee of them? Did some member of the Central Committee direct you to act behind the back of the Central Committee – who, where, when? We ask you to reply on these points and not on the other.

Comrade Krustyu Stoychev says nothing about it. In my opinion, he has taken a step backwards from his own self-criticism on this question at the XVI Plenum of the Central Committee and has made a diversion….

From: Vulko Chervenkov, ‘Fundamental Lessons of Traicho Kostov’s Group and the Struggle for its Destruction and the Shortcomings in Party Work and our Tasks’, Report to the Plenum of the Central Committee of the Bulgarian Communist Party, 16th January 1950, People’s Publishing House, Bombay, 1950, pp. 35-36, 46-49.



Revisionism in Russia: Trotsky Against the Bolsheviks – Part One: To 1914



Trotsky speaks:

“Among the Russian comrades, there was not one from whom I could learn anything…The errors which I have committed . . always referred to questions that were not fundamental or strategic. . . In all conscientiousness I cannot, in the appreciation of the political situation and of its revolutionary perspectives, accuse myself of any serious errors of judgement.

Looking back, two years after the revolution, Lenin said:

‘At the moment when it seized the power and created the Soviet republic, Bolshevism drew to itself all the best elements in the currents of Socialist thought that were nearest to it’.

Can there be even a shadow of doubt that when he spoke so deliberately of the best representatives of the currents closest to Bolshevism, Lenin had foremost in mind what is now called ‘historical Trotskyism’? . . Whom else could he have had in mind?”

(L. Trotsky: “My Life”; New York; 1970; p. 184, 185, 353).


“Trotsky is very fond of explaining historical events . . in pompous and sonorous phrases, in a manner flattering to Trotsky.”

(V.I. Lenin: “Violation Of Unity under Cover Of Cries for Unity”, in: “Selected Works”, Volume 4; London; 1943; p. 194).

“What a swine this Trotsky is — Left phrases and a bloc with the Right . . ! He ought to be exposed.”

(V.I. Lenin: Letter to Alexandra Kollontai, February 17th., 1917, in: “Collected Works”, Volume 35; Moscow; 1966; p. 285).

Originally Printed and published by: B.C., (Secretary) 26, Cambridge Road, Ilford Esssex. for the COMMUNIST LEAGUE (CL).


Revisionism is the perversion of Marxism-Leninism to suit the needs of the exploiting classes, to the elimination of which Marxism-Leninism is directed.
A study of revisionism in Russia is of particular importance to Marxist-Leninists, since it was through revisionism that the socialist society constructed there came to be replaced by an essentially capitalist society.

One of the myths of Trotskyism is that in the years before 1917 Trotsky fought side by side with Lenin from revolutionary positions, and that only after Stalin became General Secretary of the Russian Communist Party in 1922 did a political rift develop between Trotsky and his supporters on the one hand and the leadership of the Party on the other.

The facts documented in this report demonstrate that this theory could hardly be further from the truth. From 1903 to 1917, year after year, Trotsky fought Lenin on almost every political issue that arose, along with other figures whom we shall meet again in connection with the revisionist struggle to prevent the construction of socialism after the revolution and to destroy it when it had been built — such figures -as Lev Kamenev (Trotsky’s brother-in-law), Grigori Zinoviev, Yuri Piatakov, Grigori Sokolnikov, Nikolai Bukharin, Aleksei Rykov, Khristian Rakovsky, Adolf Warski, David Ryazanov, Evgenii Preobrazhensky, Solomon Lozovsky and Dmitri Manuilsky.

The first part of this report covers the period up to the outbreak of the first imperialist war in 1914; the second covers the period from 1914 to the “October Revolution” of 1917. Later reports will cover the period from 1917 onwards.

1879 – 1895: Childhood

Lev Davidovich Bronstein, who later became Leon Trotsky was born on November 7th, 1879.

His father, David Leontievich Bronstein, was a well-to-do farmer, of Jewish origin but. Indifferent to religion, who worked with the help of wage-labour a large farm called Yanovka, near the small town of Bobrinetz in the province of Kherson in the southern Ukraine.

His mother, Anna Bronstein, was an educated, petty bourgeois, city-bred woman, of Jewish descent and orthodox in religion.

Lev was the Bronsteins’ fifth child, and by the time of his birth they were affluent enough to afford a nursemaid for him.

At the age of seven his parents sent him to a “kheder” a private Jewish religious school, at Gromokla, a German-Jewish colony about two miles away. There he stayed with relatives. But the tuition was in Yiddish, and the boy learned little there except to read and write a little Russian. After a few months his parents withdrew him from the school and he returned home.

In the autumn of 1888, when Lev was nearly nine, he was sent to stay with other relatives in Odessa in order to attend school there. These relatives –Moissei Filipovich Spentzer, a liberal publisher, and his wife, the headmistress of a secular school for Jewish girls – gave the boy his first introduction to the great literature of the world. They arranged for him to attend St. Paul’s “Realschule” a progressive, cosmopolitan school which taught in Russian.

In the course of his seven years at the “Realschule” he excelled in his studies, became fastidious about his appearance and dress, and acquired, as he says, a feeling of superiority towards his fellow students.

1896-1899: Youth

In 1896, at the age of seventeen, he completed his course in Odossa and moved to Nicolayev to attend a similar school for the purpose of matriculating.

Here he lodged with a family whose sons had already been touched by socialist ideas and who argued against Trotsky’s conservative outlook. Six months later he had embraced socialism and had been introduced into radical discussion circle held in a gardener’s hut on the outskirts of the town. Most of the members of this group were Narodniks, adherents of an intellectual, individualistic, vaguely socialist trend, which based itself, not on the working class, but on the peasantry, and which at first appealed strongly to Trotsky… One member of the group, however –Aleksandra Sokolovskaya, a girl some few years older than Trotsky who later became his first wife was a Marxist and strongly influenced the development of his views.

When his father objected to his association with this radical circle, Trotsky gave up the allowance he had been receiving from home, took up private tutoring and moved from his lodgings to live in the gardener’s hut, as a member of the Narodnik “commune.”

In the spring of 1897 he took a leading part in the formation of an underground trade union, the South Russian Workers’ Union, which had grown to about 200 members before the end of the year and published its own duplicated paper “Nashe Delo” (Our Cause).

In the summer of 1897 Trotsky graduated with first-class honours, and at the end of that year was arrested, together with some other leading members of the union. He was kept in a small cell in the prison at Kerson for several months, being transferred to the prison at Odessa in the middle of 1898. He occupied himself here in writing a treatise on freemasonry, and in reading Marxist books smuggled in from outside.

Towards the end of 1899, Trosky received his sentence (without trial) of deportation to Siberia for four years. He was first moved to a transfer prison in Moscow, where he met older and more experienced revolutionaries from all over Russia and made his first acquaintance with the writings of Lenin. In the spring or summer of 1900 he married in the Moscow prison Aleksandra Sokolovskaya, and shortly afterwards he and his wife began their journey into exile.

1900 – 1902: Exile

They reached their place of exile — the settlement of Verkholensk in the mountains overlooking Lake Baikal — in the late autumn of 1900. Having come to accept Marxism in the preceding years, Trotsky now identified himself with the labour movement, becoming a leading member of the Siberian Social Democratic Workers’ Union.

In December 1900 he began to write for the “Vostochnoye Obozrenie” (Eastern Review), a progressive newspaper published in Irkutsk, under the pseudonym of “Antid Oto.” His contributions consisted, mainly of reportage on the conditions of the Siberian peasants, together with literary criticism.

In the summer of 1902 Trotsky made his escape from Siberia, abandoning his wife, and two children. In Samara he received a message from Lenin asking him to report to the headquarters of ‘Iskra’- (The Spark) in London as soon as possible.

1902 – 1903: Trotsky Becomes an Iskra-ist

Trotsky arrived in London in October 1902 and Lenin found him lodgings. He began to contribute to “Iskra” in November 1902 and soon became known as a brilliant writer and orator.

From time to time he visited Prance, Switzerland and Belgium, and it was on a visit to Paris that he met his second “wife” (he was never formally divorced from Aleksandra Sokolovskaya), a Russian revolutionary of noble birth, Natalya Sedova, who was studying the history of art at the Sorbonne.

1903: The Struggle at the Second Congress

The Second congress Of the Russian Social-Democratic Party attended by 43 delegates, was held in July/August 1903, first in Brussels, and then in London. The main business on its’ agenda was to adopt a programme and rules. Trotsky attended as a delegate from the Siberian Social-Democratic Workers’ Union.

The sharpest controversy at the congress arose around the first clause of the rules, defining what was meant by the term “member of the party.” In accordance with the principles he had been putting forward for some time in “Iskra,” Lenin proposed the following wording for Clause 1:

“A member of the R.S.D.L.P. is one who recognises its programme and supports the Party materially as well as by personal participation in one of the organisations of the Party.”

Yuli Martov moved to substitute for the words underlined:

“Working under the control and guidance of one of the organisations of the Party.”

Lenin’s case against Martov’s formulation was that:

1) It would in practice be impossible to maintain effective “control and guidance” over Party members who did not personally participate in one of the organisations of the Party;

2) It reflected the outlook, not of the working class, which is not shy of organisation and discipline, but of the petty bourgeois intelligentsia, who tend to be individualistic and shy of organisation and discipline;

3) It would widen Party membership to include supporters of the Party, and so would abolish the essential dividing line between the working class and its organised, disciplined vanguard; it would, therefore, have the effect of dissolving the vanguard in the working class as a whole and so would serve the interests of the class enemies of the working class.

Trotsky sided with Martov, whose formulation was adopted by 28 votes to 22 with 1 abstention.

Later, the withdrawal of seven opponents of Lenin from the congress altered the balance of forces in favour of Lenin and his supporters, Lenin then proposed that the editorial board of “Iskra” (which consisted of six members) should be replaced by one of three members. Trotsky countered this manoeuvre with a motion confirming the old editorial board in office, but this was defeated by a majority of 2 votes; thereupon the anti-Leninists abstained from further voting. In the elections which followed three anti-Leninists (Axelrod, Potresov and Vera Zasulich) were dropped from the board, leaving Lenin, Plekhanov and Martov. Furthermore, three supporters of Lenin were elected to form the Central Committee.

Thus, at its Second Congress the Party showed itself to be divided into two factions. From that time those Party members who supported Lenin’s political line were known as Bolsheviks (from ‘bolshinstvo”, majority) while those who opposed Lenin’s political line were known as Mensheviks (from “menshinstvo” minority).

The Bolshevik trend was a Marxist trend, representing the interests of the working class within the labour movement;

TheMenshevik trend was a revisionist trend representing the interests of the capitalist class within the labour movement.

The “Report of the Siberian Delegation”

Later Trotsky admitted his error in having opposed Lenin at the 2nd. Congress on the question of Party organisation. Speaking of Lenin’s attitude at the Congress, Trotsky says in his autobiography:

“His behaviour seemed unpardonable to me, both horrible and outrageous. And yet, politically, it was right and necessary, from the point of view of organisation.

My break with Lenin occurred on what might be considered “moral” or even personal grounds. But this was merely on the surface. At bottom, the separation was of a political nature and merely expressed itself in the realm of organisational methods.

I thought of myself as a centralist. But there is no doubt that at that at that time I did not fully realise what an intense and imperious centralism the revolutionary party would need to lead millions of people in a war against the old order . . At the time of the London Congress in 1903, revolution was still largely a theoretical abstraction to me.

Independently I still could not see Lenin’s centralism as the logical conclusion of a clear revolutionary concept.”

(L.Trotsky: “My Life”; New York; 1971; p. 162)

His immediate reaction to the congress, however, was to write “Second Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. (Report of the Siberian Delegation” which was published in Geneva in 1903.

In this he defended his, and his delegation’s opposition to Lenin and his supporters at the congress:

“Behind Lenin stood the new compact majority of the ‘hard’ ‘Iskra’ men, opposed to the ‘soft’ ‘Iskra’ men. We, the delegates of the Siberian Union, joined the ‘soft’ ones, and . . we do not think that we have thereby blotted our revolutionary record.”

(L.Trotsky: “Vtoroi Syezd R.S.D.R.P. (Otchet Sibirskoi Delegatskii)” (Second Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. (Report of the Siberian Delegation); Geneva: 1903; p.21.)

At the Congress, declared Trotsky, Lenin had:

“…With the energy and talent peculiar to him, assumed the role of the party’s disorganiser.”

(L.Trotsky: ibid.;. p.11).

and, like a new Robespierre, was trying to:

“…transform the modest Council of the Party into an omnipotent Committee of Public Safety.”

(L. Trotsky: ibid.; p.21).

so preparing the ground for the:

“Thermidorians of Socialist opportunism.”

(L. Trotsky: ibid; p.30).

He added in a postscript that Lenin resembled Robespierre, however, only as

“a vulgar farce resembles historic tragedy…”

(L.Trotsky: ibid.; p.33).

The 1903 Menshevik Conference

After the Congress, the Mensheviks — including Trotsky boycotted “Iskra” and refused to contribute to it.

In September 1903 they held a factional conference in Geneva to decide on future action. A shadow “central committee” was set up, consisting of Pavel Axelrod, Pedor Dan, Yuli Martov, Aleksandr Potresov and Trotsky, to direct the struggle against the Bolsheviks.

In Trotsky’s view the immediate aim of the campaign should be to force the Bolsheviks to restore the ousted Mensheviks to their former positions of influence, both in the Central Committee and the editorial board. A resolution, drafted by Martov and Trotsky, was adopted by the conference:

“We consider it our moral and political duty to conduct . . the struggle by all means, without placing ourselves outside the Party and without bringing discredit upon the party and the idea of its central institutions, to bring about a change in the composition of the leading bodies, which will secure to the Party the possibility of working freely towards its own enlightenment.”

(P.B. Axelrod &. Y. 0. Martov: “Pisma P.B. Axelroda i.Yu Martova” (Letters of P.B. Axelrod and Y.0.Martv); Berlin; l924; p.94).

The “New” Iskra

Soon after the Second Congress of the Party, Plekhanov gave way to the attacks of the Mensheviks. In violation of the decisions taken at the Party congress, he claimed and exercised the right as joint editor to coopt to the editorial board of “Iskra” the Menshevik former editors. Lenin strongly objected to this step, and resigned from the board.

The new editorial board transformed “Iskra” into a Menshevik organ, which waged unremitting struggle against Lenin and his supporters and against the Bolshevik Central Committee of the Party. Thus, from its 52nd. issue “Iskra” became known in the Party as the “new” “Iskra,” in contrast to the “old” Leninist “Iskra.” It continued publication until October 1905.

Trotsky became a prominent contributor to the “new Iskra” and issued a pamphlet setting forth the Menshevik political line. Lenin commented:

“A new pamphlet by Trotsky came out recently, under the editorship of ‘Iskra’, as was announced. This makes it the ‘Credo’, as it were, of the new ‘Iskra’. The pamphlet is a pack of brazen lies, a distortion of the facts. . . The Second Congress was, in his words, a reactionary attenpt to consolidate sectarian methods of organisation, etc.”

(V.I. Lenin: Letter to Yelena Stasova, F.V. Lengnik, and 0thers, October 1904, in: “Collected Works”, Volume 43; Moscow; 1969; p. 129).

1904: The Russo – Japanese War

In February 1904 the Russo-Japanese War began with a Japanese attack on the Russian fortress of Port Arthur. The Russian Army suffered defeat and almost the entire Russian Navy was destroyed in the Straits of Tsushima, forcing the Tsarist government to conclude an ignominious peace treaty in September 1905.

1904: “Our Political Tasks”

Between February and May 1904, Lenin was engaged on writing the book “One Step Forward, Two Steps Back.” In this he expounded at length the principles of party organisation he had put forward at the Second Congress and analysed the character of the Menshevik opposition.

In August 1904 Trotsky’s reply to Lenin’s book was published in Geneva under the title “Our Political Tasks.” It was dedicated to “My dear teacher Pavel B.Axelrod.”

In “Our Political Tasks” – Trotsky developed his attack upon “Maximillien Lenin”; whom he described as:

“…an adroit statistician and a slovenly attorney”

(L. Trotsky: ‘ashi Politicheskie Zadachi’(Our Political Tasks) Geneva; 1904; p. 95)

with a

“…hideous, dissolute and demagogical”

(L.Trotsky : ibid. ; p. 75)

style, whose

“Evil-minded and morally repulsive suspiciousness, a shallow caricature of tragic Jacobinist intolerance, must be liquidated now at all costs, otherwise the Party is threatened with moral and theoretical decay”;

(L. Trotsky: ibid. ; p. 95).

He developed his attack upon Lenin’s principles of Party organisation, claiming that they would lead to the establishment, not of the dictatorship of the working class but of a dictatorship over the working class (a dictatorship that would eventually be one of a single individual), which the working class would find intolerable:

“Lenin’s methods lead to this: the Party organisation at first substitutes itself for the Party as a whole; then the Central Committee substitutes itself for the organisation; and finally a single ‘dictator’ substitutes himself for the Central Committee…. A proletariat capable of exercising its dictatorship over society will not tolerate any dictatorship over itself.”

(L. Trotsky. Ibid.; p. 54, 105)

and declaring that Lenin’s organisational principles would, in any case, be unworkable since any serious faction would defy Party discipline:

“Is it so difficult to see that any group of serious size and importance, if faced with the alternative of silently destroying itself or of fighting for its survival regardless of all discipline, would undoubtedly choose the latter course?”

(L. Trotsky: ibid; p. 72).

Meanwhile, readers of the “new” “Iskra” in Russia had been complaining strongly about Trotsky’s virulent attacks on Lenin in the columns of the paper, and in April 1904, on the demand of Plekhanov, he was forced to resign from it.

The Campaign for The Holding Of a Party Congress

In July 1904, two members of the Central Committee of the Party, Krassin and Noskov, broke with the Bolsheviks, giving the Mensheviks a majority on the committee. The Bolsheviks then began a campaign within the Party for the holding of a new congress.

In August l904 Lenin guided the conference of twenty-two prominent Bolsheviks which took place in Switzerland and which issued an appeal to the Party calling for the convocation of the Third Congress. At the same time a number of conference of Bolsheviks took place in Russia, out of which in December l904 came the Bureau of the Majority Committees which became the organising centre for the campaign for a new congress.

During the autumn of 1904, the Bolsheviks organised their own publishing house and at the end of the year established their own newspaper “Vperyod” (Forward), the first issue of which appeared on January 1904.

1904-1905: Parvus Lays the Basis for Trotsky’s “Theory of Permanent Revolution”

In November and December 1904 Trotsky wrote a brochure on the necessity for the working class to play the leading role in the capitalist revolution in Russia which, the following year, he entitled “Before the 9th January” (this being the date, under the old Russian calendar, in 1905 when the first Russian revolution began with the shooting down by the tsar’s troops of an unarmed workers’ demonstration).

When in Munich, Trotsky was accustomed to stay at the home of Aleksandr Helfand, a Russian Jew who then claimed to be a Marxist. Helfand published his own political review “Aus der Weltpolitik” (‘World Politics’) and wrote articles for other magazines especially Kautsky’s “Neue Zeit” (New Life) and the new “Iskra” — under the pen-name “Parvus.”

When Trotsky visited Munich in January 1905, he had the proofs of the brochure with him. Parvus was impressed with its contents and decided to put the weight of his authority behind Trotsky by writing a preface to it. In this preface he stated a conclusion which Trotsky still hesitated to draw:

“In Russia only the workers can accomplish a revolutionary insurrection. . . The revolutionary provisional government will be a government of workers’ democracy.”

(Parvus: Preface to: L.Trotsky: “Do 9 Yanvara”; Geneva; 1905)

In April 1905 Lenin commented on Parvus’s theory that the capitalist revolution in Russia could result in a government of the working class, as it had been put forward in the brochure written by

“the windbag Trotsky.”

(V. I. Lenin: “Social-Democracy and the Provisional Revolutionary Government”; in: “Selected Works”, Volume 3; London; 1946; p. 35)

Lenin declared:

“This cannot be . . This cannot be, because only a revolutionary dictatorship relying on the overwhelming majority of the people can be at all durable.. . The Russian proletariat, however, at present constitutes a minority of the population in Russia. It can become the great overwhelming majority only if it combines with the mass of semi-proletarians, semi-small proprietors, i.e. with the mass of the petty-bourgeois urban and rural poor. And such a composition of the social basis of the possible and desirable revolutionary-democratic dictatorship will of course, find its reflection in the composition of the revolutionary government. With such a composition the participation or even the predominance of the most diversified representatives of revolutionary democracy in such a government will be inevitable.”

(V. I. Lenin; ibid.; p. 35).

1905: The Beginning of the 1905 Revolution

On January 22nd, 1905 a peaceful demonstration of unarmed workers, led by a police agent, a priest by the name of Georgi Gapon, was fired on by troops while on its way to present a petition to the tsar at his Winter Palace in St. Petersburg. Over a thousand workers were killed, more than two thousand injured.

The massacre taught tens of thousands of workers that they could win their rights only by struggle. During the weeks and months that followed, economic strikes began to pass into political strikes, into demonstrations and in places into clashes with tsarist troops.

In a letter written in Geneva three days after “Bloody Sunday,” Lenin wrote:

“The Russian proletariat will not forget this lesson. Even the most uneducated, the most backward strata of the working class, who naively trusted the tsar and sincerely wished to put peacefully before ‘the tsar himself’ the requests of a tormented nation, were all taught a lesson by the troops led by the tsar and the tsar’s uncle, the Grand Duke Vladimir… The arming of the people is becoming one of the immediate tasks of the revolutionary movement… The immediate arming of the workers and of all citizens in general, the preparation and organising of the revolutionary forces for overthrowing the government authorities and institutions — this is the practical basis on which all revolutionaries can and must unite to strike a common blow…
Long live the Revolution!
Long live the proletariat in revolt.”

(V. I. Lenin: “The Beginning of the Revolution in Russia””, In: “Selected Works”, Volume 3; -London; l946;p. 289, 291, 292).

“No Tsar, but a Workers’ Government”

In February 1905 Trotsky returned to Russia, settling first in Kiev. Here he made contact with a member of the Party’s Central Committee who had the previous July played a treacherous role in assisting the Mensheviks to capture the Central Committee — Leonid Krassin. Krassin was in charge of a clandestine printing plant, which he now placed at Trotsky’s disposal.

A few weeks later Trotsky moved to St. Petersburg, where he became leader of the city’s Menshevik group.

He now adopted the view put forward in Parvus’s preface to his brochure “Before the 9th. January,” namely that the capitalist revolution in Russia should result in a workers’ government:

“The composition of the Provisional Government will in the main depend on the proletariat. If the insurrection ends in a decisive victory, those who have led the working class in the rising will gain power.”

(L. Trotsky: “Article in Iskra” (The Spark), No. 93; March 17th., 1905).

“Trotskyism: ‘No Tsar, but a workers’ government’. This surely, is wrong. There is a petty bourgeoisie, it cannot be ignored”.

(V. I. Lenin: Report on the Political Situation, Petrograd City Conference RSDLP, in: “Collected Works”, Volume 20, Book 1; London; 1929; p. 207).

Trotsky however, declared that this formulation of his political line was sloganised by Parvus and not by himself:

“At no time and in no place did I ever write or utter or propose such a slogan as “No Tsar — but a workers’ government.” The fact of the matter is that a proclamation entitled: ‘No Tsar — but a workers’ government’ was written and published abroad in the summer of 1905 by Parvus.”

(L. Trotsky. “The Permanent Revolution”; New York; 1970; p.222)

The Third Party Congress

Early in 1905, the Central Committee acceded to the pressure within the Party and agreed to collaborate with the Bureau of Majority Committees in convening the Third Congress of the Party.

The congress took place in London in April/May 1905, that is, during the rising tide of the 1905 Revolution. It was boycotted by the Mensheviks, and attended by 24 delegates.

The congress adopted a resolution calling on the Party urgently to make all political and technical preparations for an armed uprising, and to organise armed resistance to the violence of the government-sponsored reactionary organisations. It also amended the formulation of point 1 of the Party rules adopted at the 2nd. Congress in order to bring this into line with Lenin’s principles of Party organisation and, abolishing the dual leading bodies (Central Committee and editorial board) the 2nd. Congress, to make the Central Committee the leading body of the Party.

The congress set up a new central organ of the Party “Proletary” (The Proletarian). Lenin, who chaired the congress, was elected to the Central Committee, which at its first meeting, appointed him editor of the paper. This appeared in May 1905 and was published regularly in Geneva until Lenin returned to Russia in November 1905.

The 1905-Menshevik Conference

The Mensheviks, who boycotted the Third Congress of the Party, held their own conference simultaneously in Geneva. The conference endorsed the Menshevik line on the capitalist revolution (see next section) and refrained from discussing resolutions that had been submitted on the arming of the masses and work among the troops.

Lenin’s “The Two Tactics of Social-Democracy”

In July 1905 Lenin published a long work, “The Two Tactics of Social-Democracy in the Democratic Revolution” in which he analysed the resolution of the Third Party Congress on the question of the capitalist revolution alongside that adopted at the Menshevik conference.

Lenin’s conception of the capitalist revolution was as follows:

1. The capitalist revolution is advantageous to the working class:

“The bourgeois revolution is in the highest degree advantageous to the proletariat. The bourgeois revolution is absolutely necessary in the interests of the proletariat. The more complete, determined and consistent the bourgeois revolution, the more secure will the proletarian struggle against the bourgeoisie and for socialism become.”

(V. I. Lenin: “The Two Tactics of Social-Democracy in the Democratic Revolution”, in: “Selected Works ” Volume 3; London; 1946; p.75).

2. The working class is in fact,- objectively more interested in a full capitalist revolution than is the capitalist class:

“In a certain sense the bourgeois revolution is more advantageous to the proletariat than it is to the bourgeoisie. This postulate is undoubtedly correct in the following sense: it is to the advantage of the bourgeoisie to rely on certain remnants of the past as against the proletariat, for instance, on a monarchy, a standing army, etc. It is to the advantage of the bourgeoisie if the bourgeois revolution does not too resolutely sweep away the remnants of the past, but leaves some. . . It is to the advantage of the bourgeoisie if the necessary bourgeois-democratic changes take place more slowly, more gradually, more cautiously, with less determination, by means of reforms and not by means of revolution; if these changes spare the ‘venerable’ institutions of feudalism (such as the monarchy); if these reforms develop as little as possible the revolutionary initiative of the common people, i.e., the peasantry, and especially the workers, for otherwise it will be easier for the workers, as the French say, ‘to pass the rifle from one shoulder to the other’, i.e., to turn the guns which the bourgeois revolution will place in their hands; the democratic institutions which will spring up on the ground that will be cleared of feudalism, against the bourgeoisie.
On the other hand, it is more advantageous for the working class if the necessary bourgeois democratic changes take place in the form of revolution and not reform.

The very position the proletariat as a class occupies, compels it to be consistently democratic.

The bourgeoisie looks behind, is afraid of democratic progress which threatens to strengthen the proletariat. The proletariat has nothing to lose but its chains, but by means of democracy it has the whole world to win”.

(V.1. Lenin: ibid.; p. 75-77).

3. Therefore, ‘the working class must strive to make itself the leading force in the capitalist revolution, with the peasantry as its allies:

“Only the proletariat can be a consistent fighter for democracy. It may become a victorious fighter for democracy only if the peasant masses join it in its revolutionary struggle. If the proletariat is not strong enough for this, the bourgeoisie will put itself at the head of the democratic revolution and will impart to it the character of inconsistency and selfishness. The proletariat must carry out to the end the democratic revolution, and in this unite to itself the mass of the peasantry in order to crush by force resistance of the autocracy and to paralyse the instability of the bourgeoisie. At the head of the whole of the people, and particularly of the peasantry — for complete freedom for a consistent democratic revolution, for a republic!”

(V.I. Lenin: ibid; p. 86, 110-11, 14).

4. The provisional government which will be set up as a result of a democratic revolution carried out under the leadership of the working class will be the “democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry”:

“’A decisive victory of the revolution over tsarism’ is the revolutionary-democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry…. It will be a democratic, not a socialist dictatorship.”

(V. I. Lenin: ibid.; p,. 82).,

5. The working class must endeavour to continue the capitalist revolution so as to transform it uninterruptedly into a working class revolution, a socialist revolution, which will make the working class the ruling class:

“From the democratic revolution we shall at once, according to the degree of our strength, the strength of the class conscious and organised proletariat, begin to pass over to the socialist revolution. We stand for continuous revolution. We shall not stop half way.”

(V. I. Lenin; “The Attitude of Social-Democracy toward the Peasant Movement”, in: ibid; p 145) .

6. The working class will be the leading force in the socialist revolution, with the poorer strata of the peasantry and urban petty-bourgeoisie as its allies:

“The proletariat must accomplish the socialist revolution and in this unite to itself the mass of the semi-proletarian elements of the population in order to crush by force the resistance of the bourgeoisie and to paralyse the instability of the peasantry and petty bourgeoisie. . At the head of all the toilers and the exploited – for socialism!”

(V. I. Lenin: “The Two Tactics Of Social-Democracy in the Democratic Revolution”, in: ibid.; p. 111, 124).

The Menshevik conception of the capitalist revolution, on the other hand, was, on the other hand as follows:

1. As in previous capitalist revolutions in history, the capitalist revolution in Russia will make the capitalists the ruling class:

“It is evident that the forthcoming revolution cannot assume any political forms against the will of the whole – of the bourgeoisie, for the latter will be the master of tomorrow.”

(M. Martynov: “Two Dictatorships”, Cited by: V. I. Lenin: “Social-Democracy, and the Provisional Revolutionary Government”, in: ibid.; p. 26).

2. Therefore the role of the working class in the capitalist revolution must be to exert pressure upon the capitalist class to bring the revolution to a successful conclusion:

“The hegemony of the proletariat is a harmful utopia. The proletariat must follow the extreme bourgeois opposition.”

(M. Martynov: “Two Dictatorships”, cited in: J. V. Stalin: Preface to The Georgian Edition of K. Kautsky: “The Driving Forces and Prospects, of the Russian Revolution”, in: “Works”, Volume 2; Moscow; 1953; p. 2-3).

“The struggle to influence the course and outcome of the bourgeois revolution can express itself only in the fact that the proletariat will exert revolutionary pressure on the will of the liberal and radical bourgeoisie, and that the more democratic ‘lower stratum’ of society will force its’ ‘upper stratum’ to agree to lead the bourgeois revolution to its logical conclusion.”

(M. Martynov: ibid., cited in: V. I. Lenin: ibid.; p. 28).

3. There will be a relatively long interval of time between the capitalist revolution and the subsequent socialist revolution:

“The triumph of socialism cannot coincide with the fall of absolutism. These two movements necessarily will be separated from one another by a significant interval of time.”

(G. Plekhanov: “Chto zhe dal “she?”in: “Zarya”; No. 2-3; December 1901).

4. The capitalist revolution may be decisively victorious over the tsarist autocracy without the revolutionary overthrow of this autocracy:

“A decisive victory of the revolution over tsarism may be marked either by the setting up of a provisional government, which emerges from a victorious people’s uprising, ‘or by the revolutionary initiative of this or that representative institution’ which, under the immediate pressure of the revolutionary people, decides to set up a “national constituent assembly.”

(Resolution of 1905 Menshevik Conference, cited by: V. I. Lenin: “The Two Tactics of social-Democracy in the Democratic Revolution”, in: ibid.; p. 57).

5. Social-Democrats must not participate in the provisional government, if one is set up in place of the autocracy since:

a) this will be a capitalist government, and participation by Social-Democrats in a capitalist government is contrary to socialist principles;

b) an attempt to do so would frighten the capitalist class and lead to the restoration of autocracy:

“Social-Democrats must, during the whole course of the revolution, strive to maintain a position which would best of all …preserve it from being merged with bourgeois democracy…. Therefore, Social-Democracy must not strive to seize or share power in the provisional government, but must remain the party of the extreme revolutionary opposition.”

(Ibid., p. 69).

“The Conference believes that the formation of a Social Democratic provisional government, or entry into the government would lead, on the one hand, to the masses of the proletariat becoming disappointed in the Social-Democratic Party and abandoning it …. because the Social-Democrats, in spite of the fact that they had seized power, would not-be able to satisfy the pressing needs of the working class, including the establishment of socialism, and, on the other hand, would induce the bourgeois classes to desert the cause of the revolution and in that way diminish its sweep.”

(Ibid.; p. l04).

“By simply frightening the majority of the bourgeois elements, the revolutionary struggle of the proletariat can lead to but one result — the restoration of absolutism in its original form.”

(M. Martynov: “Two Dictatorships”, cited in: V. I. Lenin: “Social-Democracy and the Provisional Revolutionary Government'”; in: ibid.; p. 27).

6. Only in the event of working class revolution in Western Europe should the Social-Democratic Party depart from this principle and participate in the provisional government, for only then would it be possible to go forward in Russia to the working class, socialist revolution:

“Only in one event should social-Democracy, on its own initiative, direct its efforts towards seizing power and retaining it as long as possible, namely, in the event of the revolution spreading to the advanced countries of Western Europe where conditions for the achievement of socialism have already reached a certain state of maturity. In that event, the restricted historical scope of the Russian revolution can be considerably extended and the possibility of striking the path of socialist reforms will arise.”

(Resolution of 1905 Menshevik Conference, cited in: -V.I. Lenin:”The Two Tactics of Social-Democracy in the Democratic Revolution, in: ibid.; p. 96).

The St. Petersburg Soviet in the 1905 Revolution

In May 1905 Trotsky went to Finland. When he returned to St. Petersburg in October, a general strike had broken out in the city.

The striking workers elected delegates to a strike committee, which quickly developed into the first important “Soviet of Workers’ Deputies” and began to publish its own organ: “Izvestia” (News). The Mensheviks supported the Soviet from its inception, regarding it as an organ of democratic local government. The St. Petersburg Bolsheviks, led by Bogdan Knunyantz, were, however, at first hesitant in their approach to it, regarding it as a rival to the Party and demanding that it affiliate to the Party before they could support it.

Meanwhile Lenin, after making arrangements for the publication in St. Petersburg of a legal Bolshevik newspaper “Novaya Zizn” (New Life), had left-Geneva in October for Russia. Held up in Stockholm, he wrote from there:

“Comrade Radin (i.e., Knunyantz — -Ed.) is wrong in raising the question in No. 5 of the ‘Novaya Zhizn’, …the Soviet of Workers? Deputies or the Party? I think that it is wrong to put the question in this way, and that the decision must certainly be: both the Soviet of Deputies and the Party . . .

The Soviet of Deputies, as an organ representing all occupations, should strive to include deputies from all industrial, professional and office workers, domestic servants, farm labourers, etc., from all who want and are able to fight in common for a better life for the whole working people.

I think it inadvisable to demand that the Soviet of Workers’ Deputies should accept the Social-Democratic Programme and join the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party….

I believe (On the strength of the incomplete and only ‘paper’ information at my disposal) that politically the Soviet of Workers’ Deputies should be regarded as the embryo of a provisional revolutionary Government.”

(V.I. Lenin “Our Tasks and the Soviet of Workers’ Deputies”; in “Collected Works”; Volume 10; Moscow; 1962; p. 19, 20, 21).

Later, after his arrival in St. Petersburg, Lenin made a clear analysis of the Soviet. It could not be an organ of government until the power of the central tsarist state had been smashed, at least locally; in the existing circumstances its role must be to conduct this revolutionary struggle to smash the central state machine.

“The Soviet of Workers’ Deputies is not a parliament of labour and not an organ of proletarian self-government. It is not an organ of government at all, but a fighting organisation for the achievement of definite aims. . .

The Soviet of Workers Deputies represents an undefined, broad fighting alliance of socialists and revolutionary democrats.”

(V. I.Lenin: “Socialism and Anarchism”, in: “Selected Works”, Volume 3; London; l943; p. 343) .

“The Soviets of Workers’ Deputies, etc., were in fact the embryo of a provisional government; power would inevitably have passed to them had the uprising been victorious.”

(V.I. Lenin; “The Dissolution of the Duma and the Tasks of the Proletariat”, in: Ibid.; p. 383).

Although the St. Petersburg Bolsheviks corrected their attitude to the Soviet within a few days, their hesitancy in supporting it contributed in considerable measure to the fact that the majority of the deputies were from the outset Mensheviks or supporters of the Mensheviks. On October 30th, the Soviet elected its Executive; this consisted of three Mensheviks, three Bolsheviks, and three Socialist-Revolutionaries.

After a few days under the chairmanship of the Menshevik S. Zborovski, the Soviet elected as its chairman the lawyer Georgi Nosar (better known under his pseudonym “Khrustalev”); who was then independent of any party but later joined the Mensheviks.

Trotsky, who had allied himself with the St. Petersburg Mensheviks on his arrival in the city, was elected to the Soviet and soon came to play a leading role in its activities – which following the Menshevik political line of damping down the revolutionary enthusiasm and activity of the workers.

On November 2nd,

“Trotsky urged the Soviet to call off the general strike.”

(I. Deutscher: “The Prophet Armed: Trotsky: 1879-1921”; London; 1970; p. 132).

and it duly came to an end on November 3rd.

On November 13th, the workers themselves began to introduce an eight-hour working day in the factories, and on the 15th, widespread public indignation at the state of siege which the tsarist government had just imposed on Poland, forced the Soviet to call a second general strike in St. Petersburg.

On November 18th, three days later,

“Trotsky.. . proposed to call an end to the second general strike.”

(I. Deutscher; ibid ; p. 134),

on the pretext that :

“The government had just announced that the sailors of Kronstadt (who had participated in the first general strike — Ed.) would be tried by ordinary military courts, not courts martial. The Soviet could withdraw not with victory indeed, but with honour.”

(I. Deutscher; Ibid.; p. 134).

In his speech to the Soviet urging the calling-off of the second general strike, Trotsky’s biographer declares that:

“While he tried to dam up the raging element of revolt, he stood before the Soviet like defiance itself, passionate and sombre.”

(I. Deutscher: ibid; p. 134),


“Events work for us and we have no need to force the pace. We must drag out the period of preparation for decisive action as much as we can, perhaps for a month or two, until we can come out as an army as cohesive and organised as possible. . .
When the liberal bourgeoisie, as if boasting of its treachery, tells us: ‘You are alone. Do you think you can go on fighting without us? Have you signed a pact with victory?’, we throw our answer in their face: ‘No, we have signed a pact with death.'”

(L.Trotsky; Speech to St. Petersburg Soviet, November 16th., l905, in: No. 7, November 20th., 1905).

Having succeeded in inducing the Soviet to call off the second general strike,

“A few days later he had again to impress upon the Soviet its own weakness and urge it to stop enforcing the eight-hour day. . . The Soviet was divided, a minority demanding a general strike; but Trotsky prevailed.”

(I. Deutscher: ibid; p. 135).


“We have not won the eight-hour day for the working class, but we have succeeded in winning the working class for the eight-hour day.”

(L.Trotsky: Speech to St. Petersburg Soviet, cited in: I. Deutscher: ibid.; p. 140).

In addition to his activities in the Soviet, Trotsky had contrived to gain control, jointly with Parvus (who had followed him to St. Pctersburg and had become a deputy in the Soviet) of a daily newspaper, “Russkaya Gazeta” (The Russian Newspaper), and later in the year, alongside it, he founded with Parvus and Yuli Martov a second daily “Nachalo” (The Beginning),which became the organ of Menshevisim from October to December 1905.

By the beginning of December, the government felt strong enough to take the offensive again. Press censorship was reimposed, and on December 5th. Khrustalev, the Chairman of the Soviet, was arrested together with a few other leading members. Trotsky replied to this by proposing that:

“The Soviet of Workers’ Deputies temporarily elect a new chairman and continue to prepare for an armed uprising.”

(L. Trotsky: Resolution to St. Petersburg Soviet, cited in: I. Deutscher: Ibid.; p. 140)

The Soviet accepted the proposal and elected a three-man Presidium, headed by Trotsky.

But the preparations for the “armed uprising” of Trotsky’s were virtually non-existent.

“The preparations for the rising which Trotsky had mentioned had so far been less than rudimentary: two delegates had been sent to establish contact with the provincial Soviets. The sinews of insurrection were lacking.”

(I. Deutscher: ibid.; p. 140).

Trotsky’s last gesture in the 1905 Revolution was then to put forward a “Financial Manifesto” written by Parvus. This called upon the people to withhold payment of taxes, declaring:

“There is only one way to overthrow the government –to deny it . . its revenue.”

(Financial Manifesto of St. Petersburg Soviet, cited in: I.Deutscher: ibid.; p.141).

On December 16th., Trotsky presided over a meeting of the Executive of the St. Petersburg Soviet, when a detachment of soldiers and police burst in to the meeting room and the members of the executive were arrested. A number of charges were brought against them, the principle charge being that of plotting insurrection.

The role of the Mensheviks in the St. Petersburg Soviet was summed up later by J.V. Stalin:

“The St. Petersburg Soviet of Workers’ Deputies, being the Soviet of the most important industrial and revolutionary centre of Russia, the capital of the tsarist empire, ought to have played a decisive role in the Revolution of 1905. However, it did not perform this task, owing to its bad, Menshevik leadership. As we know Lenin had not yet arrived in St. Petersburg; he was still abroad. The Mensheviks took advantage of Lenin’s absence to make their way into the St.Petersburg Soviet and to seize hold of its leadership. It was not surprising under such circumstances that the Mensheviks Khrustalev, Trotsky, Parvus and others managed to turn the St. Petersburg Soviet against the policy of an uprising. Instead of bringing the soldiers into close contact with the Soviet and linking them up with the common struggle, they demanded that the soldiers be withdrawn from St. Petersburg. The Soviet, instead of arming the workers and preparing them for an uprising, just marked time and was against preparations for an uprising.”

(J.V. Stalin: “History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union”(Bolsheviks; Moscow; 1941; p.79-80).

The Moscow Uprising

On December 19th., 1905 the Moscow Soviet of Workers’ Deputies, which was led by the Bolsheviks, resolved to:

“Strive to transform the strike into an armed uprising.”

(V.I. Lenin: “The Lessons of the Moscow Uprising; in: “Selected Works, Volume 3; London; 1946; p. 346)

and by December 22nd, the first barricades were being set up in the streets.

“The 23rd: artillery fire is opened on the barricades and on the crowds in the streets. Barricades are set up more deliberately, and no longer singly but on a really mass scale. The whole population is in the streets; all the principal centres of the city are covered by a network of. barricades. For several days stubborn guerrilla fighting proceeds between the insurgent detachments and the troops. The troops become exhausted and Dubasov is obliged to beg for reinforcements. Only on December 28 did the government forces acquire complete superiority and on December 30 the Semenov regiment stormed the Prosnya distrect, the last stronghold of the uprising.”

(V. I. Lenin: “The Lessons of the Moscow Uprising”, in: ibid; p. 347).

In fact, the attitude of the Menshevik leadership of the St. Petersburg Soviet, led by Trotsky enabled the tsar to transfer troops from the capital to Moscow and this was a significant factor in the crushing of the uprising in the latter city.

“The climax of the Revolution of 1905 was reached in the December uprising in Moscow. A small crowd of rebels, namely, of organised and armed workers — they numbered not more than eight thousand –resisted the tsar’s government for nine days. The government dared not trust the Moscow garrison; on the contrary, it had to keep it behind locked doors, and only on the arrival of the Semenovsky Regiment from St. Petersburg was it able to quell the rebellion.”

(V.I. Lenin: Lecture on the 1905 Revolution, in: ibid.; p. 16).

Soviets of Workers’ Deputies were organised in other towns as well as in St. Petersburg and Moscow. In addition, Soviets of Workers’ and Peasants’ Deputies and Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies were established in some places.

Isolated strikes, riots and mutinies continued into 1906, leading to a lack of clarity for some months as to whether the revolutionary tide was ebbing or merely temporarily at rest before a subsequent rise. In fact December 1905 proved to be the peak of the revolutionary tide.

1906 -1907: The Trial of the Leaders of the St. Petersburg Soviet

The trial of the leaders of the St. Petersburg Soviet, the main charge against whom was that of plotting insurrection, began almost a year after the Revolution had been crushed, on October 2nd, 1906.

The defendants denied having engaged in technical preparation for a rising. On October 4th, Trotsky told the court:

“A rising of the masses is not made, gentlemen the judges. It makes itself of its own accord. It is the result of social relations and conditions, and not of a schema drawn up on paper. A popular insurrection cannot be staged. It can only be foreseen. For reasons that were as little dependent on us as on Tsardom, an open conflict had become inevitable. It came nearer with every day. To prepare for it meant for us to do everything possible to reduce to a minimum the number of victims of this unavoidable conflict.”

(L. Trotsky: Speech at Trial of Leaders of St. Petersburg Soviet, cited in: I. Deutscher: “The Prophet Armed- Trotsky: 1879-1921”-; London; 1970; p. 166).

On November 15th, the verdict was delivered. The defendants were found guilty on the main charge of plotting insurrection, but Trotsky and fourteen others were found guilty on minor charges and sentenced to deportation to Siberia for life and loss of all civil rights.

In February 1907 Trotsky escaped into Finland.

Trotsky’s “Results and Prospects”: The Theory of “Permanent Revolution”

While in prison, Trotsky wrote “Results and Prospects,” which was published in St. Petersburg in 1906 as the final chapter of his book “Our Revolution,” a collection of essays on the Russian Revolution of December 1905.

In this essay Trotsky gave a fundamental statement of his views on capitalist revolution, the “theory of permanent revolution”

The term “permanent revolution” was derived from an address by Marx and Engels written in 1850:

“While the democratic petty bourgeois wish to bring the revolution to a conclusion as quickly as possible and with the achievement at most of the above demand, it is our interest and our task to make the revolution permanent, until all more or less possessing classes have been displaced from domination, until the proletariat has conquered state power…Their (i.e. the German workers’ –Ed.) battle-cry must be: the permanent revolution.”

(K. Marx and F. Engels: Address of the “Central Council to the Communist League”, in: K. Marx: ‘Selected Works’, Volume 2; London 1943; p. 161, 168)

Lenin accepted this conception of the permanent revolution, although after the publication of Trotsky’s work Marxists preferred to use the term “uninterrupted revolution” or “continuous revolution” in order to avoid confusion with Trotsky’s perversion of the term in connection with his anti-Leninist theory of the capitalist revolution. In September 1905, Lenin wrote:

“From the democratic revolution we shall at once, according to the degree of our strength, the strength of the class conscious and organised proletariat, begin to pass over to the socialist revolution. We stand for continuous revolution.”

(V.I. Lenin: “The Attitude of Social-Democracy towards the Peasant Movement”, in: “Selected Works”, Volume 3; London; 1946; p. 145).

Trotsky’s theory of the capitalist revolution, as put forward in “Results and Prospects” was as follows:

1. The working class will be the active force in the capitalist revolution, with the peasantry as supporters:

“The struggle for the emancipation of Russia from the incubus of absolutism which is stifling it has become converted into a single combat between absolutism and the industrial proletariat, a single combat in which the peasants may render considerable support but cannot play a leading role.
Many sections of the working masses, particularly in the countryside, will be drawn into the revolution and become politically organised only after the advance guard of the revolution, the urban proletariat, stands at the helm of the state.

The proletariat in power will stand before the peasants as the class which has emancipated it.

The Russian peasantry in the first and most difficult period of the revolution will be interested in the maintenance of a proletarian regime (workers’ democracy).”

(L. Trotsky: “Results and Prospects”, in: “The Permanent Revolution”; New York; 1970; p. 66, 70, 71-72).

2. Because the peasantry in the capitalist revolution is destined to play only an auxiliary role of supporters rather than allies of the working class, the democratic-revolution will place in power — not- an alliance of the working class and peasantry, democratic dictatorship of the working class and peasantry” — but the working class, establishing the dictatorship of the working class, a revolutionary workers’ government:

“The idea of a ‘proletarian and peasant dictatorship’ is unrealisable . . There can be no talk of any special form of proletarian dictatorship in the bourgeois revolution, of democratic proletarian dictatorship (or dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry). Victory in this struggle must transfer power to the class that has led the strife, i.e., the Social-democratic proletariat. The question, therefore, is not one of a “revolutionary provisional government” — an empty phrase . . . but of a revolutionary worker government, the conquest of power by the Russian proletariat.”

(Trotsky: ibid.; p. 73, 80, 121-22).

3. Once in power the working class will be compelled to proceed with the construction of a socialist society:

“The proletariat, once having taken power, will fight for it to the very end. . . Collectivism will become not only the inevitable way forward from the position in which the party in power will find itself, but will also be a means of preserving this position with the support of the proletariat. . . The political domination of the proletariat is incompatible with its economic enslavement. No matter under what political flag the proletariat has come to power, it. is obliged to take the path of socialist policy.”

(L. Trotsky: ibid.; p. 80, 101).

4. But the construction of socialism will inevitably bring the working class into hostile collision with the peasantry and urban petit bourgeoisie:

“Every passing day will deepen the policy of the proletariat in power, and more and more define its class character. Side by side with that, the revolutionary ties between the proletariat and the nation will be broken. . .

The primitiveness of the peasantry turns its hostile face towards the proletariat.
The cooling-off of the peasantry, its political passivity, and all the more the active opposition of its upper sections, cannot but have an influence on a section of the intellectual and the petty-bourgeoisie of the towns.

Thus, the more definite and determined the policy the proletariat in power becomes, the narrower and more shaky does the ground beneath its feet become.

The two main features of proletarian policy which will meet opposition from the allies of the proletariat are collectivism and internationalism.

(L. Trotsky: ibid.; p.76-77).

5. Thus the working class in power — now isolated from and opposed by the masses of the peasantry and urban petty bourgeoisie – will inevitably be overthrown by the forces of reaction — unless the working classes in Western Europe establish proletarian dictatorships which render direct state aid to the working class of Russia:

“Left to it’s own resources, the working class of Russia will inevitably be crushed by the counterrevolution the moment the peasantry turns its back on it. It will have no alternative but to link the fate of its political rule and, hence, the fate of the whole Russian revolution, with the fate of the socialist revolution in Europe.”

(L. Trotsky: ibid.; p. 115).

Without the direct State support of the European proletariat the working class of Russia cannot remain in power and convert its temporary domination into a lasting socialistic dictatorship. Of this there cannot for one moment be any doubt.”

(L. Trotsky: ibid.; p. 105.)

6. The Russian working class government will, therefore, be forced to use its state power to actively to initiate socialist revolutions in Western Europe and beyond:

“This immediately gives the events now unfolding an international character. . . The political emancipation of Russia led by the working class. .will transfer to it colossal power and resources, and will make it the initiator of the liquidation of world capitalism. . .

If the Russian proletariat, having temporarily obtained power, does not on its own initiative carry the revolution on to European soil, it will be compelled to do so by the forces of European feudal-bourgeois reaction.

The colossal state-political power given it by a temporary conjuncture of circumstances in the Russian bourgeois revolution it will cast into the scales of the class struggles of the entire capitalist world.”

(L. Trotsky; ibid.; p. 108, 115).

Trotsky continued to put forward his theory of “permanent revolution” throughout his life.

In his book “The Permanent Revolution,” published in Berlin in Russian in 1930. he says:

“I came out against the formula ‘democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry’…. The theory of the permanent revolution, which originated in 1905. . . .pointed out that the democratic tasks of the backward bourgeois nations lead directly, in our epoch, to the dictatorship of the proletariat. . . The socialist revolution begins on national foundations – but it cannot be completed within these foundations. . . . The difference between the permanent and the Leninist standpoint expressed itself politically in the counterposing of the slogan of the dictatorship of the proletariat relying on the peasantry to the slogan of the democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry. . . . The world division of labour, the dependence of Soviet industry upon foreign technology, the dependence of the productive forces of the advanced countries of Europe upon Asiatic raw materials, etc… make the construction of an independent socialist society in any single country impossible.”

(L. Trotsky: “The Permanent Revolution”; New York; 1970; p. 128,132, 133, 189, 280).

As we have seen, Lenin analysed the revolutionary process in tsarist Russia as essentially one of two successive stages — firstly, the stage of democratic revolution, secondly, the stage of socialist revolution, but with the possibility of uninterrupted transition from the first stage to the second if the working class were able to win the leading role in the first stage.

The Trotskyite theory of “permanent revolution” rejected Lenin’s concept of two stages in the revolutionary process in tsarist Russia, and postulated a single stage, that of the proletarian-socialist revolution leading directly to the dictatorship of the proletariat.

Lenin saw the revolutionary process in colonial-type countries also as essentially one of two successive stages–firstly, the stage of national-democratic revolution, secondly, the stage of socialist revolution, but with the possibility of uninterrupted transition from the first stage to the second if the working class were able to win the leading role in the first stage.

Trotsky logically extended his theory of “permanent revolution” to colonial-type countries, here also postulating a single stage in the revolutionary process, that of proletarian-socialist revolution leading directly to the dictatorship of the proletariat.

“In order that the proletariat of the Eastern countries may open the road to victory, the pedantic reactionary theory of Stalin . . on ‘’stages’’ and ‘steps’’ must be eliminated at the very outset, must be cast aside, broken up and swept away with a broom. . . . With regard to . . . the colonial and semi-colonial countries, the theory of the permanent revolution signifies that the complete and genuine solution of their tasks of achieving democracy and national emancipation is conceivable only through the dictatorship of the proletariat. The Comintern’s endeavour to foist upon the Eastern countries the slogan of the democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry, finally and long ago exhausted by history, can have only a reactionary effect.”

(L. Trotsky: ibid.; p. 48, 276, 278).

Lenin was, of course, strongly opposed to what he called Trotsky’s:

“absurdly ‘Left’ theory of ‘permanent revolution.’”

(V. I. Lenin: “Violation of Unity under Cover of Cries for Unity”, in: “Selected Works”, Volume 4; London; 1943; p. 207).

Analysing Trotsky’s “Results and Prospects” in 1907, Lenin pointed out:

“Trotsky’s major mistake is that he ignores the bourgeois character of the revolution and has no clear conception of the transition from this revolution to the socialist revolution.”

(V. I. Lenin: “The Aim of the Proletarian Struggle in Our Revolution”, in: “Collected Works”, Volume 15; Moscow; 1962; p. 371).

At the end of 1910, we find Lenin saying:

“Trotsky distorts Bolshevim, because he has never been able to form any definite views on the role of the proletariat in the Russian bourgeois revolution.”

(V.1. Lenin: “The Historical Meaning of the Internal Party Struggle in Russia”; in: ‘Selected Works”, Volume 3; London; l946; p. 505).

And in November 1915:

“Trotsky . . repeats his ‘original’ theory of 1905 and refuses to stop and think why, for ten whole years, life passed by this beautiful theory.

Trotsky’s original theory takes from the Bolsheviks their call for a decisive revolutionary struggle and for the conquest of political power by the proletariat, and from the Mensheviks it takes the ‘repudiation’ of the role of the peasantry. . . .

Trotsky is in fact helping the liberal labour politicians in Russia who by the ‘repudiation’ of the role of the peasantry mean refusal to arouse the peasants to revolution.”

(V. I. Lenin: “Two Lines of the Revolution”, in: “Selected Works”, Volume 5; London; 1935; p. 162, 163).

In November and December 1924 Stalin made a more comprehensive theoretical analysis of Trotsky’s theory of “permanent revolution”:

“Trotskyism is the theory of ‘permanent’ (uninterrupted) revolution. But what is permanent revolution in its Trotskyist interpretation? It is revolution that fails to take the poor peasantry into account as a revolutionary force. Trotsky’s ‘permanent’ revolution is, as Lenin said, ‘skipping’ the peasant movement, playing at the seizure of power;. Why is it dangerous? Because such a revolution, if an attempt had been made to bring it about, would inevitably have ended in failure, for it would have divorced from the Russian proletariat its ally, the poor peasantry. This explains the struggle that Leninism has been waging against Trotskyism ever since –1905.”

(J. V. Stalin: “Trotskyism or Leninism?”, in: “Works”, Volume 6; Moscow; 1953; p. 364-65).

“What is the dictatorship of the proletariat according to Trotsky? The dictatorship of the proletariat is a power, which comes ‘into hostile collision’ with ‘the broad masses of the peasantry’ and seeks ‘the solution of its ‘contradictions’ only ‘’in the arena of the world proletarian revolution’.
What difference is there between this ‘theory of permanent revolution’ and the well-known theory of Menshevism which repudiates the concept of dictatorship of the proletariat?

Essentially, there is no difference.

‘Permanent revolution’ is not a mere underestimation of the revolutionary potentialities of the peasant movement. ‘Permanent revolution’ is an underestimation of the peasant movement, which leads to the repudiation of Lenin’s theory of the dictatorship of the proletariat.

Trotsky’s ‘permanent revolution’ is a variety of Menshevism. . . .

Trotsky’s ‘permanent revolution’ means that the victory of socialism in one country, in this case Russia, is impossible without direct state support from the European proletariat’, i.e., before the European proletariat has conquered power.
What is there in common between this ‘theory’ and Lenin’s thesis on the possibility of the victory of socialism ‘in one capitalist-country taken separately’?

Clearly, there is nothing in common.

What does Trotsky’s assertion that a revolutionary Russia could not hold out in the face of a conservative Europe signify?

It can signify only this:

firstly, that Trotsky does not appreciate the inherent strength of our revolution;

secondly, that Trotsky does not understand the inestimable importance of the moral support which is given to our revolution by the workers of the West and the peasants of the East; thirdly, that Trotsky does not perceive the internal infirmity which is consuming imperialism today.

Trotsky’s ‘permanent revolution’ is the repudiation of Lenin’s theory of proletarian revolution; and conversely, Lenin’s theory of the proletarian revolution is the repudiation of the theory of ‘permanent revolution’. . . .

Hitherto only one aspect of the theory of ‘permanent revolution’ has usually been noted — lack of faith in the revolutionary potentialities of the peasant movement. Now, in fairness, this must be supplemented by another aspect — lack of faith in the strength and capacity of the proletariat in Russia.

What difference is there between Trotsky’s theory and the ordinary Menshevik theory that the victory of socialism in one country, and in a backward country at that, is impossible without the preliminary victory of the proletarian revolution in the principal countries of Western Europe?

Essentially, there is no difference.

There can be no doubt at all. Trotsky’s theory of ‘permanent revolution’ is a variety of Menshevism . . .

Honeyed speeches and rotten diplomacy cannot hide the yawning chasm which lies between the theory of ‘permanent revolution’ and Leninism.”

(J. V. Stalin: “The October Revolution and the Tactics of the Russian Communists”, in: ‘Works’, ibid.; p. 385-6,389, 392, 395-96, 397).

The Campaign for Party Unity

In the revolutionary conditions, which prevailed in the autumn of 1905, Bolsheviks and Mensheviks of the rank and file worked closely together and by the end of the year most of the local organisations of the two “parties” had united. Accordingly the demand grew among the workers and the rank-and-file of the Party that the leaderships of the two sections should unite.

While fully supporting these moves for unity, Lenin and most of the Bolsheviks felt strongly that the political differences between the leaderships of the two factions should not be glossed over, since this would only confuse the workers. In this they were opposed by conciliationists among the Bolsheviks, such as Leonid Krassin and Aleksandr Bogdanov, who minimised these differences.

Lenin arrived back in Russia in November 1905, and in December attended the First Party (Bolshevik) Conference in Tammerfors (Finland), where he met J.V. Stalin for the first time.

The conference adopted a resolution to apply the elective principle within the Party in view of the freer political conditions brought about by the 1905 revolution, and another favouring the earliest possible restoration of unity with the Mensheviks and the immediate creation of a joint Central Commiittee.

Simultaneously with the Bolshevik conference, the Mensheviks held a conference in St. Petersburg where, under pressure from their- rank-and-file, they endorsed the Leninist formula of Party organisation in point 1 of the Party rules and adopted a resolution in favour of unity with the Bolsheviks

The joint Central Committee, consisting of three Bolsheviks and three Mensheviks, began to operate at the height of the December insurrection. When at the end of December, both the Bolshevik “Novaya Zhizn” (New Life) and the Menshevik “Nachalo”(Beginning) were suppressed, both leaderships combined to issue a joint newspaper — “Severny Golos” -(Voice of the North) — under a joint editorial Board.

1907, The Fourth (Unity) Congress of the Party

The Fourth Unity Congrcss of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour was held in Stockholm (Sweden) in-April/May 1906 was attended by 111 delegates from Party organisations, together with 3 each from the national parties which affiliated to the Party at the Congress (the “Bund”, the Polish Social-Democratic Party and the Social-Democratic Party 0f the Latvian Region).

As a result of the fact that many Bolshevik-led Party organisations had been broken up after the 1905 uprising, a number of these were not represented at the congress, so that the Mensheviks had a majority (62-49). This manifested itself in a number of the resolutions. As Lenin pointed out:

“The three most important resolutions of the Congress clearly reveal the erroneous views of the former ‘Menshevik’ faction, which numerically was predominant at the Congress.

“The Congress rejected the proposal to make it one of the tasks of the Party to combat. . Constitutional-illusions.

Nor in its resolutions on the armed uprising did the Congress give what was necessary, viz., direct criticism of the mistakes of the proletariat, a clear estimate of the experience of October-December 1905, or even an attempt to study the inter-relation between strikes and uprising. The Congress did not openly and clearly tell the working class that the December uprising was a mistake, but in a covert way it condemned the uprising.

We think that this is more likely to confuse the political class consciousness of the proletariat than to enlighten it..

We must and shall fight ideologically against those decisions of the Congress which we regard as erroneous.”

(V. I. Lenin: An Appeal to the Party by Delegates at the Unity Congress who belonged to the Late ‘Bolshevik’ Faction, in: “Selected Works”, Volume 3; London; l946; p. 469, 470-71.)

Nevertheless, the congress endorsed the basic principles of Party organisation put forward by Lenin.

The congress also endorsed the formal unity of the two factions and the principle of democratic centralism.

The Central Committee elected at the Fourth Congress consisted of 7 Mensheviks and 3 Bolsheviks.

Against Bolshevik opposition, a Menshevik resolution was carried which elected an editorial board for the central organ of the Party which was outside the control of the Central Committee and contained not a single Bolshevik; it consisted of Martov, Dan, Martynov, Potresov and Maslow. During its life this editorial board did not publish a single issue of the central organ.

Thus, the “unity” created at the Fourth Congress between Bolsheviks and Mensheviks was purely formal, and the two factions continued to exist within the framework of a single party.

The Stolypin Repression

The First State Duma met in May 1906, but did not prove docile enough for the ruling class. In July the tsarist government dissolved it, and Petr Stolypin (who had been Minister for Internal Affairs since May) was made Prime Minister. Under Stolypin a period of active repression of the revolutionary movement began. The new government suppressed the Bolshevik newspaper, which had been coming out since April under the successive names of “Volna” (The Wave), “Vperyod” (Forward) and “Ekho” (The Echo). In August 1906, regulations were issued providing for trial by courts martial and the death sentence for “revolutionary activity”, and mass arrests and executions followed. In the same month the Bolsheviks began to issue an illegal newspaper, “Proletary” (Proletarian), edited by Lenin, which continued to appear until December 1909.

In September 1906 Lenin proposed that, since the tide of revo1ution was now clearly on the ebb, the Party shou1d participate in the elections for the Second State Duma (due to be convoked in March 1907). As a result, left-wing representation in this Duma was considerably stronger than it had been in the first, namely:

157 Trudoviks (Group of Toil) and Socialist-Revolutionaries (expressing the outlook of the peasantry) (from 94 in the First State Duma);

165 Social-Democrats (from 18 in the First State Duma), while the representation of the Cadets (the Constitutional-Democratic Party, representing the interests of the bourgeoisie)

fell from 179 to 98. Most of the Social Democratic deputies were, however Mensheviks.

The Fifth Party Congress

The Fifth Congress of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party was held in London in May/June 1907. It was attended by 336 delegates, representing a membership of some 150,000.

The congress consolidated the Russian, Polish and Latvian Parties (together with, for a time, the Bund) into a single Party based on (mainly) Leninist principles.

Trotsky participated in the congress, expounding at length his “theory of permanent revolution,” to which Rosa Luxemburg gave her support:

“At the London congress I renewed acquaintance with Rosa Luxemburg whom I had known since 1904. . .On the question of the so-called permanent revolution, Rosa took the same stand as I did.”

(L. Trotsky: “My Life”; New York; 1971; p. 203).

In the resolutions the congress largely adopted the Bolshevik line. A Bolshevik resolution condemning the Menshevik proposal to transform the Party into a broad “Labour Party” of the British type was carried by 165 votes to 94; another Bolshevik resolution declaring that the Cadets were now a counter-revolutionary party which must be mercilessly exposed, and that it was essential to coordinate the Party’s own activity with that of the parties expressing the outlook of the peasantry (i.e., the Trudoviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries) was carried by 159 votes to 104.

However, a Bolshevik motion of censure on the Menshevik Central Committee elected at the Fourth Congress in 1906 was lost. This resolution was opposed not only by the Mensheviks, but by a centrist group headed by Trotsky:

“If, after all, the Bolshevik resolution, which noted the mistakes of the Central Committee was not carried, it was because the consideration “not to cause a split” strongly influenced the comrades.”

(J.V. Stalin: “The London Congress of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party (Notes of a Delegate)”; in: ‘Works’, Volume 2; Moscow; 1953; p. 59)

“Trotsky… spoke on behalf of the ‘Centre’, and expressed the views of the Bund. He fulminated against us for introducing our ‘unacceptable’ resolution. He threatened an outright split. . . That is a position based not on principle, but on the Centre’s lack of principle.”

(V. I. Lenin: Fifth Congress of RSDLP, Speech on the Report of the Activities of the Duma Group, in: “Collected Works”, Volume 12; Moscow; 1962; p. 451-2)

Trotsky endeavored to justify his concilationist position by suggesting that there were no fundamental differences between Bolsheviks and Mensheviks, saying:

“Here comes Martov . . and threatens to raise between the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks a Marxist wall . . .’Comrade Martov, you are going to build your wall with paper only with -your polemical literature you have nothing else to build it with.”

(Pyatyi Syezd RSDRP (Fifth Congress RSDLP); Moscow; n.d.; p. 54-55).

In view of the decline of the revolutionary tide, the question of ‘armed insurrection’ was dropped from the agenda of the congress. However, a sharp controversy arose at the congress on the question of “expropriations,” i.e., the illegal acquisition of funds for the Party.

Lenin’s views on this question had been expressed in an article published in “Proletary,” in October 1906:

“Armed struggle pursues two different aims; which must be strictly distinguished; in the first place this struggle aims at assassinating individuals, chiefs and subordinates, in the army and police: in the second place, it aims at the confiscation of monetary funds both from the government and from private persons. The confiscated funds go partly into the treasury of the Party, partly for the special purpose of arming and preparing for an uprising, and partly for the maintenance of persons engaged in the struggle we are describing. . .

It is not guerilla actions which disorganise the movement, but the weakness of a party which is incapable of taking such actions under its control.”

(V. I. Lenin: ‘Guerilla Warfare, in: “Collected Works””, Volume 11; Moscow; 1962; p. 216, 219).

The Fourth Congress of the Party in 1906 had adopted a Menshevik resolution banning Party members, from taking part in “expropriations” and at the Fifth Congress an attack was launched upon the Bolsheviks for allegedly continuing to take part in (or at least advise others on the organisation of “expropriations.” A Menshevik motion was adopted at the Fifth Congress banning the participation of Party members in all armed actions and acts of “expropriation” and- ordering the disbandment of the fighting squads connected with the, Party.

Trotsky, according to his biographer, sharply supported the Menshevik attacks on this issue:

“The records of the Congress say nothing about the course of this controversy, (i.e. on “expropriations” –Ed.); only fragmentary reminiscences, written many years after, are available. But there is no doubt that Trotsky was, with Martov, among those who sharply arraigned the Bolsheviks.”

(I. Deutscher; ‘The Prophet Armed: Trotsky: 1879-1921″; London; 1970; p. 179).

Shortly after the Congress, Lenin wrote to Maxim Gorky that :

“At the London Congress, too, he (i.e., Trotsky –Ed.) acted the ‘poseur.’”

(V. I. Lenin: Letter to Maxim Gorky, February 13th., 1908; in: ,”Collected Works”, Volume 34; Moscow; 1966; p. 386).

While Stalin, writing of Trotsky’s activities at the congress, declared

“Trotsky proved to be ‘pretty but useless.’”

(J.V. Stalin: “The London Congress of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party (Notes of a Delegate)”, in: “Works”; Volume 2; Moscow; 1953; p. 52).

After the congress Trotsky carried his attacks on the Bolsheviks on the question of “expropriations’ into the columns of “Vorwaerts” (Forward), the organ of the German Social-Democratic Party. He describes how Lenin reacted to this news:

“I told Lenin of my latest article in “Vorwaerts” about the Russian Social-Democracy. . . The most prickly question in the article was that of so-called ‘expropriations’. .. The London congress, by a majority of votes composed of Mensheviks, Poles and some Bolsheviks banned ‘expropriations’. When the delegates shouted from their seats: “What does Lenin say? We want to hear Lenin”, the latter only chuckled, with a somewhat cryptic expression. After the London congress, ‘expropriations’ continued. . . That was the point on which I had centred my attack in the “Vorwaerts.”

‘Did you really write like this?’, Lenin asked me reproachfully.

Lenin tried to induce the Russian delegation at the congress to condemn my article. This was the sharpest conflict with Lenin in my whole life.”

(L. Trotsky: “My Life”; Now York; 1971; p. 218).

The Stolypin Coup d’Etat

In June 1907 the tsarist government accused the Social-Democratic deputies in the Second-State Duma of conspiracy, and demanded that the Duma lift their parliamentary immunity. When the Duma hesitated, the government peremptorily dissolved it on June 16th, 1907 – the “Coup d’Etat of June 3rd 1907 as it was known under the old calendar. Most of the Social-Democratic deputies were then arrested.

In the same manifesto the government announced new electoral laws for the Third State Duma, the purpose of which was to increase the representation of the landlords and capitalists, and to reduce still further the representation of the workers and peasants.

“The government promulgated a ‘new law’ which reduces the number of peasant electors by half, doubles the number of landlord electors, . reduces the number of deputies also by nearly half. . . reserves for the government the right to distribute voters according to locality, various qualifications and nationality; destroys all possibility of conducting free election propaganda, etc., etc. And all this has been done in order to prevent revolutionary representatives of the workers and peasants from getting into the Third Duma, in order to fill the Duma with the liberal and reactionary representatives of the landlords and factory owners. This is the idea behind the dispersion of the Second State.”

(J.V. Stalin: “The Dispersion of the Duma and the Tasks of the Proletariat”, in: “Works”, Volume 2; Moscow; l9~3; p. 14).

The Third Party Conference

The Third Conference of the RSDLP was held in August 1907 in Vyborg (Finland), attended by 26 delegates of whom 15 were Bolsheviks and 11 Mensheviks.

The dissolution of the Second State Duma and the issue of the new reactionary electoral law had caused the Socialist-Revolutionary Party to revert to a policy of boycotting the elections to the Third State Duma, and had revived boycotting among the Bolsheviks. The leader of the boycottists at the conference was Aleksandr Bogdanov.

Lenin moved a resolution at the conference which declared that reaction prevailed in the country and would prevail for some years, although it would inevitably be followed by a new upsurge; in the meantime it was essential to take advantage of every legal opportunity and, in particular, of the tribune afforded by the Duma. The resolution was adopted by the conference.

The Third State Duma

Despite the decision of the Third Party Conference to participate in the elections to the Third State Duma, many Bolsheviks continued to oppose this. In the autumn of 1907 Lenin wrote a number of articles on this question, the most famous of which – “Against the Boycott” – — Was published as part of a pamphlet entitled “Boycott of the Third Duma,” the other part being written by Lev Kamenev and entitled “For the Boycott!”

“The state of affairs now, in the autumn of 1907, does not call for such a slogan and does not justify it. . . .
Without renouncing the application of the slogan of boycott in times of an upsurge, when the need for such a slogan may seriously arise, we must direct all our efforts towards the aim of transforming by direct influence every upsurge in the labour movement into a general, wide, revolutionary attack against reaction as a whole, against its very foundations.”

(V. I. Lenin: “The Boycott: From the Notes of a Social-Democratic Publicist”, in: “Selected Works”, Volume 3; London; l946; p.427).

The Third State Duma was convened in November 1907. By reason of the new reactionary electoral system, left–wing representation in the Duma was considerably reduced from what it had been in the second, namely:

13 Trudoviks (Group of Toil), from l57 Trudoviks and Social-Revolutionaries in the Second State Duma);

18 Social-Democrats (from 65 in the Second State Duma)

The Fourth Party Conference

The Fourth Conference of the RSDLP was held in November 1907 in Helsingfors (Finland), attended by 10 Bolsheviks, 4 Mensheviks, 5 representatives of the Social-Democratic Party of the Kingdom of Poland and Lithuania, 3 representatives of the Social-Democratic Party of the Latvian Region, and representatives of the “Bund.”

The main business of the conference was to discuss the work of the Social-Democratic fraction in the newly elected Third State Duma. The Mensheviks to whose faction a majority of the Social-Democratic deputies belonged — were in favour of the independence of the deputies from Party control, while the Bolsheviks regarded it as essential that the fraction should be guided by the Party like any other section of Party members. The Bolshevik resolution to this effect was adopted. This resolution also demanded that the fraction should wage relentless war in the Duma on the pro-tsarist majority, that it should under no circumstances curtail its’ demands in concession to reaction, and that its efforts should be primarily devoted to using the Duma as a tribune for agitational purposes, in order to expose to the masses the reactionary policy of the pro-tsarist parties.

1907 – 1908: The Move Abroad

Owing to the increased repression of the Stolypin regime, which was extended to Finland despite the Finnish constitution, the Central Committee was compelled to move from Russia to Geneva towards the end of 1907. The publication of the illegal Bolshevik paper “Proletary” was also transferred to Geneva.

In December 1907 Lenin moved from Geneva to Paris.

In February 1908 the first issue of the central organ of the Party – “Sotsial-Demokrat” (The Social-Democrat) appeared in Russia. Following the arrest of its editors, publication of the paper was transferred abroad, first to Paris, then to Geneva. It continued to appear until January 1917.

The Menshevik leaders also moved abroad, and in February 1908 began to issue their organ “Golos Sotsial-Demokrata” (The Voice of the Social-Democrat) . The first editorial board consisted of Pavel Axelrod, Fedor Dan, Yuli Martov and Aleksandr Martynov. It continued to appear until December 1911.

1908: Liquidationism

The movement among the Mensheviks to transform the Party into a broad, legal Labour Party along British lines developed by the summer of 1908 into a trend which the Leninists called “liquidationism,” since it aimed at the liquidation of the Party as the revolutionary vanguard of the working class.

“Our Party organisations have all become reduced in membership. Some of them — namely, those whose membership was least proletarian — fell to pieces. The semi-legal institutions of the Party, created by the revolution, were raided time after time. Things reached such a state that some elements within the Party, which had succumbed to the influence of that disintegration, began to ask whether it was necessary to preserve the old Social-Democratic Party, whether it was necessary to continue its work, whether it was necessary to go ‘underground’ once more, and how this was to be done; and the extreme Right (the so-called liquidationist trend) answered this question in the sense that it was necessary to legalise ourselves at all costs, even at the price of an open renunciation of the Party programme, tactics and organisation. This was undoubtedly not only an organisational but also an ideological and political crisis.”

(V. I. Lenin: “On to the High Road”; in ‘Works’; Volume 4; London; 1943; p. 3).

Liquidationism is ideologically connected with renegacy, . with opportunism. . . But liquidationism is not only opportunism. . . Liquidationism is opportunism that goes to the length of renouncing the Party . . . The renunciation of the ‘underground’ under the existing conditions is the renunciation of the old Party.

Liquidationism is not only the ‘liquidation’ of the old party of the working class; it also means the destruction of the class independence of the proletariat, the corruption of its class-consciousness by bourgeois ideas.

The liquidators are petty-bourgeois intellectuals, sent by the bourgeoisie to sow the seeds of liberal corruption among the workers. The liquidators are traitors to Marxism.”

(V. I. Lenin: ‘Controversial Questions”; in: ibid.; p. 126-7, 131, 138).

The August 1908 Central Committee Meeting

In August 1908 a meeting of the Central Committee of the RSDLP was held and the liquidator Mensheviks opened their attack on the Party organisation by moving a resolution that the Central Committee should be abolished as the leading organ of the Party and converted into a mere information bureau. The motion was defeated, and a Bolshevik motion to convene a Party Conference was adopted.

At this meeting the Central Committee set up a Russian Bureau of the Central Committee, composed of one representative each of the Bolsheviks, the Mensheviks, the Polish Party, the Latvian Party and the ‘Bund’, responsible, under the Central Committee, for the direction of Party work within Russia. It also set up a Central Committee abroad, composed of members of the Central Committee residing outside Russia, responsible to the Russian Collegium.

“Otzovism” and “Ultimatumism”

From August 1908 the Leninist tactics of combining legal and illegal forms of struggle began to be attacked, riot only by the liquidationists on the right, but also by a group of ‘leftist’ Bolsheviks who demanded the renunciation of all legal forms of struggle.

Since the main demand of this group of Bolsheviks was the immediate recall of the Social-Democratic Deputies from the Duma, they were called “Otzovists” (from “otozvat,” to recall).

Another group of ostensibly “leftist” Bolsheviks did not demand the immediate recall of the Party’s deputies, but demanded that they should be presented with an ultimatum to correct their politicel errors or be recalled. Lenin described these “ultimatumists” as:

“bashful otzovists.”

(V. I. Lenin: “The Historical Meaning of the Internal Party Struggle in Russia”, in: ibid.; p. 514) .

The leading figures among the otzovists and ultimatumists were Aleksandr Bogdanov, Anatoly Lunacharsky, Leonid Krassin and Grigori Alexinsky.

In arguing in favour of recall, as did both otzovism and ultimatumism, the adherents of these trends made great play with the errors committed by the Social-Democratic deputies in the Duma who were mainly Mensheviks. The Leninists replied that this was an argument for correcting the errors, not for recalling the deputies.

“The illegal Party must know how to use the legal Duma fraction . . The most regrettable deviation from consistent proletarian work would be to raise the question of recalling the fraction from the Duma. ….

We must at once establish team work in this field, so that every Social-Democratic deputy may really feel that the Party is backing him, that the Party is distressed over his mistakes and takes care to straighten his path –so that every Party worker may take part in the general Duma work of the Party. . . striving to subordinate the special work of the fraction to Party propaganda and agitational activity as a whole.”

(V. I. Lenin: “On to the High Road”, in: “Selected Works”, Volume 3; London; 1943; p. 8, 9).

The Leninists strongly condemned both otzovism and ultimatumism as “liquidationism in reverse,” since, like liquidationism; its aim was to liquidate one side of the Party’s work:

“In the course of the bourgeois-democratic revolution our Party was joined by a number of elements that were not attracted by its purely proletarian programme, but mainly by its glorious and energetic fight for democracy.

In these troubled times such elements more and more display their lack of Social-Democratic consistency and, coming into ever sharper contradiction with the fundamentals of revolutionary Social-Democratic tactics, have been, during the past year, creating a tendency which is trying to give shape to the theory of otzovism and ultimatumism.

Politically, ultimatumism at the present time is indistinguishable from otzovism; it only introduces greater confusion and disintegration by the disguised – character of its otzovism. By their attempt to deduce from the specific application of the boycott of representative institutions at this or that moment of the revolution that the policy of boycotting is a distinguishing feature of Bolshevik tactics in the period of counter-revolution also — ultimatumism and otzovism demonstrate that these trends are in essence the reverse side of Menshevism, which preaches indiscriminate participation in all representative institutions- irrespective of the given stage of development of’ the revolution. . . .

0tzovist-ultimatumist agitation has already begun to cause definite harm to the labour movement and to Social-Democratic work.. .

Bolshevism as a definite tendency . . has nothing in common with otzovism and ultimatumism and . . the Bolshevik faction must more resolutely combat these deviations from the path of revolutionary Marxism”.

(V.I. Lenin: Resolution of the Meeting of’ the Enlarged Editorial Board of ‘Proletary’: “On Otzovism and Ultimatumism”, in: ibid.; p. 19, 20-21).

The Struggle on Two Fronts

From August 1908, therefore, the Leninists carried on a struggle on the question of Party organisations on two fronts:

Against liquidationism on the one hand, and against “leftist” otzovism and ultimatumism on the other hand.

“Three and a half years ago all the Marxists. . had unanimously to recognise two deviations from the Marxian tactics. Both deviations were recognised as dangerous. Both deviations were explained as being due, not to accident, not to the evil intention of individual persons but to the ‘historical situation of the labour movement in the given period. . .

The deviations from Marxism are generated by the “bourgeois influences over the proletariat.”

(V. I.Lenin: “Controversial Questions” in: Ibid; p.129, 130).

“The Bolsheviks have actually carried on, from August 1908 to January l910, a strugg1e on two fronts, i.e., a struggle against the liquidators and the otzovists.”

(V. I. Lenin: “Notes of a Publicist”, in: ibid.; p. 45).


The reaction following the defeat of the 1905 Revolution led to a revival of’ idealist philosophy among the Russian intelligentsia, including some Social-Democrats.

During 1908 a number of books were published which claimed to bring Marxism “up-to-date.” The most important of these was a symposium entitled “Studies in the Philosophy of Marxism,” published in St. Petersburg, the leading contributors to which were Aleksandr Bogdanov and Anatoly Lunacharsky. Following the lines of an earlier work by -Bogdanov – “Empirio-Criticism” (1904-06)– this attempted to combine Marxist philosophy with the idealist philosophy of Ernst Mach and Richard Avenarius to produce a “synthesis” which they called “empirio-criticism.”

“A number of writers, would-be Marxists, have this year undertaken a veritable campaign against the philosophy of Marxism. In the course of less than half a year four books devoted mainly and almost exclusively to attacks on dialectical materialism have made their appearance. These include first and foremost ‘Studies in (? — it would have been more proper to say ‘against’) the Philosophy of Marxism.’”

(V.1. Lenin: Preface to the First Edition of “Materialism and Empirio-Criticism”; in: ‘Selected Works’; Volume 11; London; 1943; p. 89).

In September 1908 Lenin completed a long philosophical work, “Materialism and Empirio-Criticism,” published in May 1909, in which he attacked and exposed these works of Anti-Marxist philosophy:

“Behind the mass of new terminological devices, behind the litter of erudite scholasticism, we invariably discerned two principal alignments, two fundamental trends in the solution of philosophical problems, Whether nature, matter, the physical, the external world be taken as primary, and mind, spirit, sensation (experience – as the widespread terminology of our time has it) , the psychical, etc., be regarded as secondary — that is the root question which in fact continues to divide the philosophers into two great camps.

The theoretical foundations of this philosophy (i.e., empirio-criticism — Ed.) must be compared -with those of dialectical materialism. Such a comparison . . reveals, along the whole line of epistemological problems, the thoroughly reactionary character of empirio-criticism, which uses new artifices, terms and subtleties to disguise the old errors of idealism and agnosticism. Only utter ignorance of the nature of philosophical materialism generally and of the nature of Marx’s and Engels’ dialectical method can lead one to speak of a ‘union’ of empirio-criticism and Marxism. .

Behind the epistemological scholasticism of empirio-criticism it is impossible not to see the struggle of parties in philosophy, a struggle which in the last analysis reflects the tendencies and. ideology of the antagonistic classes in modern society. The contending parties essentially, although concealed by a pseudo-erudite quackery of new terms or by a feeble-minded non-partisanship, are materialism and idealism. The latter is merely a subtle, refined form of fideism, which stands fully armed, commands vast organisations and steadily continues to exercise influence on the masses, turning the slightest vacillation in philosophical thought to its own advantage. The objective, class role played by empirio-criticism entirely consists in rendering faithful service to the fideists in their struggle against materialism in general and historical materialism in particular“.

(V.I. Lenin: “Materialism and Empirio-Criticism”, in: ibid: p.385-6, 405, 406).


Among some Social-Democrats the revival of idealist philosophy took the form of trying to reconcile Marxist philosophy and religion.

In 1908, Anatoly Lunacharsky published “Religion and Socialism” in which he described Marxism as a “Natural, earthly, anti-metaphysical, scientific and human-religion.”

Shortly afterwards Maxim Gorky wrote a novel entitled “A Confession,” in which a character prays to the people with the words:

“Thou art my God, O sovereign people, and creator of all the gods, which thou hast formed from the beauties of the spirit in the travail and torture of thy quest..
And the world shall have no other gods but thee, for thou art the only god that works miracles.
This . . .is my confession and belief.”

(M. Gorky: “A Confession”; London 1910; p. 320).

Gorky carried this idea forward in his articles and letters.

“One does not seek for Gods – one creates them!”

(M. Gorky: “The Karamazov Episode Again”, cited-by: V. I. Lenin: Letter to A. M. Gorky, November 14th,1913, in: ibid.; p. 675).

The Leninists strongly attacked the concept of “God Building.”

“I cannot -and will not have anything to do with people who have set out to propagate unity between scientific socialism and religion.”

(V.I.Lenin: Letter to A.M.Gorky, April , 1908; In: “Socheniya”; Volume 34; Moscow; 1950; p.343.)

“God seeking no more differs from god-building, or god-making, or god-creating or the like than a yellow devil differs from a blue devil . .

Every religious idea, every idea of god, even every flirtation with the idea of god, is unutterable vileness, vileness that is greeted very tolerantly (and often even favourably) by the democratic bourgeoisie — and for that very reason it is vileness of the most dangerous kind, ‘contagion’ of the most abominable kind. Millions of sins, filthy deeds, acts of violence and physical contagions are far more easily exposed by the crowd, and are therefore far less dangerous, than the subtle, spiritual ideas of a god decked out in the smartest ‘ideological’ costumes. The Catholic priest who seduces young-girls (of whom I happened to read in a German newspaper) is far less dangerous to democracy than a priest without a frock, a priest without a coarse religion, a democratic priest with ideas who preaches the making and creating of a god. For the first priest is easily exposed, condemned and ejected, whereas the second cannot be ejected so easily.”

(V. I. Lenin: Letter to A. N. Gorky, November l4th. 1913; in: “Selected Works”, Volume 11; London; l943; p. 675-6).

“You advocate the idea of god and god-building…This theory is obviously connected with the theory, or theories, of Bogdanov and Lunacharsky. . . . And it is obviously false and obviously reactionary.

You have gilded and sugar-coated the idea of the clericals, the Purishkeviches, Nicholas II and Messieurs the Struves, for, in practice, the idea of god helps THEM to keep the people in slavery. By gilding the idea of-god, you gilded the chains with which they fetter – the ignorant workers and muzhiks. . .

The idea, of god has always deadened and dulled ‘social- sentiments’, for it substitutes a dead thing for a living thing, and has always been an idea of slavery (the worst, hopeless kind of slavery). The idea of god has never ’bound the individual to society’ but has always bound the oppressed classes by belief in the divinity of the oppressors.”

(V. I. Lenin: Letter to A. N. Gorky, December 1913; in: ibid; p. 678-9).

The “Party Mensheviks”

The Leninists considered that a truly united Party could be brought about-only by a rapproachement between the Bolsheviks on the one hand and a section of the Mensheviks on the other hand, those representing the principal factions within the Party and the only ones with significant mass influence. They estimated that a section of the Mensheviks would move farther from reflecting the interests of the capitalist class and nearer to reflecting the interests of the working class, so coming to oppose liquidationism, to split off from the liquidator Mensheviks and to support genuine, practical unity with the Bolsheviks.

In fact, towards the end of 1908 various groups of Mensheviks in Moscow, and later in the Vyborg district of St. Petersburg, passed resolutions sharply condemning the liquidator Mensheviks and their anti-Party policy.

A leading role in the splitting of the Mensheviks was taken by Georgi Plekhanov, who publicly dissociated himself from liquidationism, retired from the editorial board of the organ of the liquidator Mensheviks, “Golos Sotsial-Demokrata” (The Voice of the Social-Democrat), and began to issue his own illegal journal “Dnevnik Sotsial-Demokrata” (The Diary of a Social-Democrat) . In this paper, Plekhanov vigorously attacked the liquidators and called upon all Mensheviks who recognised the necessity of illegal work to rally together. The Leninists called these anti-liquidationist Mensheviks “Party Mensheviks.”

“Factions are generated by the relations between the classes in the Russian revolution. The Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks only formulated answers to the questions put to the proletariat by the objective realities of l905-97. Therefore, only the inner evolution of these factions, the ‘strong’ factions — strong because of their deep roots, strong because their ideas correspond to certain aspects of objective reality — only the inner evolution of precisely these factions is capable of securing a real fusion of the factions, i.e- the creation of a genuinely and completely united party of proletarian Marxian socialism in Russia. Hence the practical conclusion:

the rapprochement in practical work between these two strong factions alone – and only in so far as they are purged of the non-Social-Democratic tendencies of liquidationism and otzovism – really represents a Party policy, a policy that really brings about unity, not in an easy way, not smoothly, and by no means immediately, but in a real way as distinguished from the endless quack promises of easy, smooth, immediate fusion of “all” factions. . ..

In my discussions I suggested the slogan: ‘rapprochement between the two strong factions, and no whining over the dissolution of the factions’.”

(V. I. Lenin: “The New Faction of Conciliators or the Virtuous”, in: “Selected Works”, Volume 4; London; 1943; p. 93-4).

“The present split among the Mensheviks is not accidental but inevitable.

The stand taken by certain Mensheviks justifies their appellation ‘Party Mensheviks’. They took their stand upon the struggle for the Party against the independent legalists…

Plekhanov was never a Bolshevik. We do not and never will consider him a Bolshevik. But we do consider him a Party Menshevik, as we do any Menshevik capable of rebelling against the group of independent legalists and carrying on the struggle against them to the end. We regard it as the absolute duty of all Bolsheviks in these difficult times, when the task of the day is the struggle for Marxism in theory and for the Party in the practical work of the labour movement, to do everything possible to arrive at a rapprochement with such Social-Democrats”

(V. I. Lenin: “Notes of a Publicist”, in: “Selected Works”, Volume 4; London; 1943; p. 66, 67, 69).

“In my opinion, the line of the bloc (Lenin-Plekhanov) is the only correct one: 1) this line, and it alone, answers to the real interests of the work in Russia, which demand that all real Party elements should rally together; 2) this line, and it alone, will expedite the process of emancipation of the legal organisations from the yoke of the Liquidators, by digging a gulf between the Menshevik workers and the Liquidators, and dispersing and disposing of the latter. A fight for influence in the legal organisations is the burning question of the day, a necessary stage on the road towards the regeneration of the Party.; and a bloc is the only means by which these organisations can be cleansed of the garbage of Liquidationists.

The plan for a bloc reveals the hand of Lenin — he is a shrewd fellow and knows a thing or two. But this does not mean that any kind of bloc is good. A Trotsky bloc (he would have said ‘synthesis’) would be rank unprincipledness.

A Lenin-Plekhanov bloc is practical because it is thoroughly based on principle, on unity of views on the question of how to regenerate the Party.”

(J. V. Stalin:”Letter to the Central Committee of the Party from Exile in Solvychegodsk, December 1910, in “Works”, Volume 2; Moscow; l952; p. 2l5, 216).


The Leninists maintained that unity was possible only with groups, which accepted the fundamental principles of Leninist strategy and tactics, and of Leninist organisation.

There were some, however, who stood for unity of the groups at any price, who minimised the differences of principle between Bolsheviks and others and who demanded, that for the sake of unity, the Leninists should make compromises in their principles. Those people the Leninists called “conciliationists.”

“Differences of opinion must be hushed up, their causes, their significance, their objective conditions should not be elucidated. The principal thing is to ‘reconcile’ persons and groups. If they do not agree upon the carrying out of common policy, that policy must be interpreted in such a way as to be acceptable to all. Live and let live. This is philistine ‘concilationism’, which inevitably loads to narrow-circle diplomacy. To ‘stop up’ the source of disagreement, to hush it up, to ‘adjust’ at all costs, to neutralise the conflicting trends –it is to this that the main attention of such ‘concilationism’ is directed.”

(V. I. Lenin: “Notes of a Publicist,” in: ‘Selected Works’, Volume 4; London; 1943; p. 41).

The Leninists regarded concilationism as the product of the same objective conditions which had produced the factions between which it strove for agreement.

“Concilationism is the sum total of moods, strivings and views which are indissolubly bound up with the very essence of the historical task set before the RDSLP during the period of the counter-revolution of 1908-11.”

(V. I. Lenin: “The New Faction of Conciliators or the Virtuous”, in: ibid.; p. 93).

They recognised conciliationism as a partial and concealed deviation from Marxist principles, since its aim was to secure modifications by the Leninists of their Principles for the sake of unity.

“Conciliatioism . . really renders a most faithful -service to the liquidators and the otzovists, and therefore constitutes an evil all the more dangerous to the Party, the more cunningly, artfully and floridly it cloaks itself with professedly Party, professedly anti-factional declamations.”

(V. I. Lenin: “Notes of a Publicist”, in: ibid.; p. 40).

“The role of the conciliators during the period of counter-revolution may be characterised by the following picture. With immense efforts the Bolsheviks are pulling our Party wagon up a steep slope. The liquidators –‘Golos’-ites are trying with all their might to drag it downhill again. In the wagon sits a conciliator; he is a picture of tenderness. He has such a sweet face, like that of Jesus. He looks the very incarnation of virtue. And modestly dropping his eyes and raising his hands he exclaims: ‘I thank: thee, Lord, that I am not like one of these’ — a nod in the direction of the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks – ‘vicious factionalists’ who hinder all progress’. But the wagon moves slowly forward and in the wagon sits the conciliator.”

(V. I. Lenin: “The New Faction of Conciliators or the Virtuous”, in: ibid.; p. 110-11).

The Viennese “Pravda”

In the summer of 1907, following the Fifth Congress of the RSDLP, Trotsky had moved to Berlin. Here he became intimate with the right wing-leaders of the Social-Democratic Party of Germany. As his biographer, Isaac Deutscher, expresses it:

“Curiously enough, Trotsky’s closest ties were not with the radical wing of German socialism, led by Rosa Luxemburg, Karl Liebnicht and Franz Mehring, the future founders of the Communist Party, but with the men . . who maintained the appearances of Marxist orthodoxy, but were in fact leading the party to its surrender to the imperialist ambitions of the Hohenzollern empire.”

(I. Deutscher “The Prophet Armed Trotsky: 1879-1921”; London: 1970; p.162).

Trotsky contributed frequently to the SPG’s daily “Vorwarts” (Forward) and to its monthly ‘Neue Zeit’ (New Life), on which his influence was strong.
In those articles Trotsky reiterated his attacks on the “sectarianism” of the Bolsheviks, alleging that the:

“Boycottist tendency runs through the whole history of Bolshevism — the boycott of the trade unions, of the State Duma, of the local government bodies, etc.”

(L.. Trotsky: Article in “Neue Zeit”, No.50, cited in: V. I. Lenin: “The Historical Meaning of the Internal Party Struggle in Russia”, in: Selected Works’, Volume 3; London; 1946; p.505),

as a

“. . result of the sectarian fear of being swamped by the masses”

(L. Trotsky: ibid.; p. 505).

To which Lenin replied: 

“As regards the boycott of the trade unions and the local government bodies, what Trotsky says is positively untrue. It is equally untrue to say that boycottism runs through the whole history of Bolshevism; Bolshevism as a tendency took definite shape in the spring and summer of 1905, before the question of the boycott first came up. In August 1906 in the official organ of the faction, Bolshevism declared that the historical causes which called forth the necessity of the boycott had passed. Trotsky distorts Bolshevism.”

(V. I. Lenin: ibid.; p. 505.)

Trotsky further declared that both the Bolshevik and the actions, and the Party itself were “falling to pieces.” To this Lenin replied:

“Failing to understand the historical-economic significance of this split in the epoch of the counter-revolution, of this falling away of non-Social-Democratic elements from the Social-Democratic Labour Party, Trotsky tells the German readers that both factions are ‘falling to pieces,’ that the Party is ‘falling to pieces’, that the Party is becoming ‘disintegrated’.

This is not true. And this untruth expresss.. first of all, Trotsky’s utter lack of theoretical understanding. Trotsky absolutely fails to understand ‘why the Plenum described both liquidationism and otzovism as the manifestation of bourgeois influence over the proletariat’. Just think: is the severance from the Party of trends which have been condemned by the Party and which express the bourgeois influence over the proletariat, the collapse of the Party, the disintegration of the Party, or is it the strengthening and purging of the Party?”

(V. I. Lenin: ibid.; p. 515)

The German government refused to allow Trotsky to stay in Berlin, and he moved shortly to Vienna. However he maintained his influence in the press of the Social-Democratic Party of Germany, the leaders of which continued to regard him as “the authority,” on the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party.

“It is time to stop being naive about the Germans, Trotsky is now in full command there.. . It’s Trotsky and Co. who are writing, and the Germans believe them. Altogether, Trotsky is boss in ‘Vorwarts.’”

(V. I. Lenin: “Letter to the Bureau of the CC of the RSDLP”, April 16th. 1912, in: “Collected Works”Volume 35; Moscow; 1966; p. 34, 35).

Trotsky remained in Vienna for seven years, and there he became intimate with the right-wing leaders of the Austrian Social-Democratic Party – Victor Adler, Rudolf Hilferding, Otto Bauer an& Karl Renner. He became Vienna correspondent of the daily newspaper “Kievskaya Mysl” (Kievan Thought), and contributed to a number of other papers.

In October 1908, Trotsky began to edit a small run-down paper called “Pravda” (Truth), started in 1905, by the pro-Menshevik Ukrainian Social-Democratic League (“Spilika”) At the end of 1908, the group abandoned the paper, and it became Trotsky’s own journal. Published in Vienna from November 1909, it continued to appear until December 1913.

The principal regular contributors to the Viennese “Pravda,” under Trotsky, were Aleksandr Skobolev (a student-who later became Minister of Labour in the Kerensky government) Adolf Yoffe (who committed suicide in 1927-in protest at Trotsky’s expulsion from the Party), David Ryazanov (later director of the Marx-Engels Institute) and Victor Kopp (later a Soviet diplomat).

As Lenin commented in October 1911:

“‘Pravda’ represents a tiny group, which has not given an independent and consistent answer to any important fundamental question of the revolution and counter-revolution.”

(V. I. Lenin: “The New Faction of Concilators or the Virtuous” in: “Selected Works”, Volume 4; London; 1943; p. 106).

Under Trotsky the Viennese “Pravda” became the principal organ of conciliationism, as Lenin repeatedly pointed out, describing Trotsky as a

“spineless conciliator”;

(V. I. Lenin: “Notes of a Publicist”, in: “Selected Works”, Volume 4; London; 1943; p. 60).

“During the period of the counter-revolution of 1908-11 . . Trotsky provides us with an abundance of instances of unprincipled ‘unity’ scheming”

(V. I. Lenin: “The New Faction of Conciliators or the Virtuous”, in: ibid.; p. 93, 105.)

Trotsky himself admits:

“My inner party stand was a concilationist one. . The great historical significance of Lenin’s policy was still unclear to me at that time, his policy of irreconcilable ideological demarcation and, when necessary split, for the purpose of welding and tempering the core of the truly revolutionary party.

By striving for unity at all-costs, I involuntarily and unavoidably idealised centrist tendencies in Menshsvism.”

(L. Trotsky: “The Permanent Revolution”; New York; 1970; p. 173).

In fact, Trotsky elaborated in this period a “theory” of conciliationism, based on the erroneous concept that factions expressed, not the interests of different classes, but “the influence of the intelligentsia” upon the working class:

“Trotsky expressed conciliationism more consistently than anyone else. He was probably the only one who attempted to give this tendency a theoretical foundation. This is the foundation: factions and factionalism-expressed the struggle of the intelligentsia ‘for influence over the irmiature proletariat’. . . .
The opposite view (i.e. the Leninist view – Ed.) is that the factions are generated by the relations between the classes in the Russian revolution.”

(V. I. Lenin: “The New Faction of Conciliators or the Virtuous”, in: “Selected Works”, Volume 4; London; 1943; p. 93).

Trotsky attempted to give substance to his “non-factional” pose by articles in which he attacked as “anti-revolutionary” both the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks. In 1909, for example, he wrote in Rosa Luxemburg’s Polish paper “Przeglad Socjal-Demokratyczny” (Social-Democratic Review):

“While the Mensheviks, proceeding from the abstraction that ‘our revolution is bourgeois’, arrive at the idea of adapting the whole tactic of the proletariat to the conduct of the liberal bourgeoisie, right up to the capture of state power, the Bolsheviks, proceeding from the same bare abstraction: ‘democratic, not socialist dictatorship’, arrive at the idea of the bourgeois-democratic self-limitation of the proletariat with power in its hands. The difference between them on this question is certainly quite important: while the anti-revolutionary sides of Menshevism are already expressed in full force today, the anti-revolutionary features of Bolshevism threaten to become a great danger only in the event of the victory of the revolution.”

(L. Trotsky: Article in “‘Przeglad Socjal-Demokratyczny”, cited in: L. Trotsky: “The Permanent Revolution”; New York; 1970; p. 235-36).

However, Lenin pointed out that, under the guise of “non-factionalism,” Trotsky was, in fact, forming his own faction:

“That Trotsky’s venture is an attempt to create a faction is obvious to all now.”

(V. I. Lenin: “The Historical Meaning of the Internal Party Struggle in Russia”, in: “Selected Works”; Volume 3; London; 1943; p.517).

“We were right in referring to Trotsky as the representative of the ‘worst remnants of factionalism’…Although Trotsky professes to be non-factional, he is known to all who are in the slightest degree acquainted with the labour movement in Russia as the representative of “Trotsky’s faction” — there is factionalism here, for both the essential characteristics of it are present: 1) the nominal recognition of unity, and 2) group segregation in reality. This is a remnant of factionalism, for it is impossible to discover in it anything serious in the way of contacts with the mass labour movement in Russia. Finally it is the worst kind of factionalism, for there is nothing ideologically and politically definite about it.”

(V.I. Lenin: “Violation of Unity under Cover of Cries for Unity”, in: “Selected Works”; Volume 4; London; 1943; p. 191, 192).

Trotsky’s faction, declared Lenin, vacillated in theory from one of the major factions to the other:

“Trotsky completely lacks a definite ideology and policy, for having the patent, for ‘non-factionalism’, only means . . having a patent granting complete freedom to flit from one faction to another.”

(V. I. Lenin: ibid.; p. 191-92).

“Trotsky, on the other hand; represents only his own personal vacillations and nothing more. In l903 he was a Menshevik; he abandoned Menshevism in 1904, returned to the Mensheviks in 1905 and merely flaunted ultra-revolutionary phrases; in 1906 he left them again; at the end of 1906 he advocated elect-oral agreements with the Cadets (i.e., was virtually once more with the Mensheviks) ; and in the spring of 1907, at the London Congress, he said that he differed from Rosa Luxemburg on ‘individual shades of ideas rather than on political tendencies’. Trotsky one day plagiarises the ideological stock-in-trade of one faction; next day he plagiarises that of another, and therefore declares himself to be standing above both factions.”

(V. I. Lenin: “The Historical Meaning of the Internal Party Struggle in Russia in: ‘Selected Works”, Volume 3; London; 1946; p. 517).

His “political line” asserted Lenin, is mere high flown demagogy, characterised by revolutionary phrases, designed to deceive the workers:

“The Trotskys decieve the workers. Whoever supports Trotsky’s puny group supports a policy of lying and deceiving the workers. . . by ‘revolutionary’ phrase-mongering.”

(V. I. Lenin: “From the Camp of the Stolypin ‘Labour’ Party”, in: “Collected Works”; Volume 17; Moscow; 1963; p. 243).

“Empty exclamations, high-flown words. . and impressively important assurances — that is Trotsky’s total stock-in-trade.”

(V. I. Lenin: “The Question of Unity”, in: “Collected Works”, Volume 18; Moscow; 1963; p. 553) .

“Trotsky is fond of sonorous and empty phrases. . . . Trotsky’s phrases are full of glitter and noise, but they lack content. . . . Trotsky is very fond of explaining historical events in pompous and sonorous phrases, in a manner flattering to Trotsky.”

(V. I. Lenin: “Violation of Unity under Cover of Cries for Unity”, in: “”Selected Works”; Volume 4; London; 1943; p. 189,192, 194).

This demagogy, asserted Lenin, is used to attempt to conceal the fact that in practice Trotsky’s faction supports, and has the confidence of the liquidator Mensheviks and the otzovists:

“People like Trotsky, with his inflated phrases about the RSDLP and his toadying to the liquidators, ‘who have nothing in common’ with the RSDLP, today represents ‘the prevalent disease’. At this time of confusion, disintegration and wavering it is easy for Trotsky to become the ‘hero of the hour’ and gather all the shabby elements around himself. Actually they preach surrender to the liquidators who are building a Stolypin Labour Party.”

(V. I. Lenin: Resolution Adopted By the Second Paris Group of the RSDLP on the State of Affairs in the party”, in: “Collected Works”, Volume 17: Moscow; 1963; p. 216).

“Trotsky and the ‘Trotskyites and conciliators’ like him are more pernicious than any liquidators; the convinced liquidators state their views bluntly, and it is easy for the workers to detect where they are wrong, whereas the Trotskys deceive the workers, cover up the evil. . . Whoever supports Trotsky’s puny group supports a policy. . of shielding the liquidators. Full freedom of action for Potresov and Co. in Russia, and the sheltering of their deeds by ‘revolutionary’ phrase-mongering abroad – — there you have the essence of the policy of ‘Trotskyism.’”

(V. I. Lenin: “From the Camp of the Stolypin ‘Labour Party’”, in: ibid.; p. 243).

“Trotsky’s particular task is to conceal liquidationism by throwing dust in the eyes of the workers. It is impossible to argue with Trotsky on the merits of the issue, because Trotsky holds no views whatever. We can and should argue with confirmed liquidators and otzovists; but it is no use arguing with a man whose game is to hide the errors of both trends; in his case the thing is to expose him as a diplomat of the smallest calibre.”

(V. I. Lenin: “Trotsky’s Diplomacy and a Certain Party Platform”, in: ibid.; p. 362).

“Trotsky follows in the wake of the Mensheviks and camouflages himself with particularly sonorous phrases. . .
In theory Trotsky is in no respect in agreement with either the liquidators or the otzovists, but in actual practice he is in entire agreement with both the ‘Golos’-ites and the ‘Vperyod’-ists. . .
Trotsky . . enjoys a certain amount of confidence exclusively among the otzovists and the liquidators.”

(V. I. Lenin : “The Historical Meaning of the Internal Party Struggle” in Russia, in: “Selected Works”, Volume 3; London; 1946; p. 499, 517).

The Menshevik leader Yuli Martov endorsed Lenin’s estimate of Trotsky in a letter dated May 1912:

“The logic of things compels Trotsky to follow the Menshevik road, despite all his reasoned pleas for some ‘synthesis’ between Menshevism and Bolshevism. … He has not only found himself in the camp of the ‘liquidators’, but he is compelled to take up there the most ‘pugnacious’ attitude towards Lenin.”

(Y. Martov: Letter, May 1912, cited in: “Pisnia P. B. Axelroda i Y. 0. Martova”. (Letters of P. B.Axelrod and Y. 0. Martov); Berlin, 1924; p. 233).

1909: The Fifth Party Conference

The Fifth Conference of the RSDLP was held in Paris in January 1909, attended by 18 delegates (6 Bolsheviks, I Mensheviks, 5 representatives of the Social-Democratic Party of the Kingdom of Poland and Lithuania, and 3 representatives of the “Bund”).

The conference adopted a Bolshevik resolution which defined liquidationism as:

“…the attempts of a certain section of the Party intelligentsia to liquidate the existing organisation of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party and substitute for it an amorphous association within the limits of legality at all costs, even if this legality is to be attained at the price of an open renunciation of the programme, tactics and traditions of our Party.”

(Resolution on Organisation, 5th. Conference of RSDLP, cited by V. I. Lenin. “Excerpts from the Resolutions of the Prague Conference of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party”; in: “Selected Works”; Volume 4; London; 1943; p. 151).

and instructed the Party to wage a determined struggle against this deviation:

“The All-Russian Conference of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party recognises that the following constitute the fundamental tasks of the Party at the present time: . . .
3) to strengthen the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party in the shape it assumed during the revolutionary period; . . to fight against deviations from revolutionary Marxism, against the curtailment of the slogans of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party, and against the attempts to dissolve the illegal organisations of the RSDLP that are observed among certain Party elements, which have yielded to the influence of disintegration.”

(V. I. Lenin: Draft Resolution on the Present Situation and the Tasks of the Party, in: ibid.; p. 15).

The “Proletary” Conference

In June 1909 the editorial board of the Bolshevik newspaper “Proletary” (The Proletarian) called a conference in Paris to which leading Bolsheviks were invited. Although called officially an “enlarged editorial conference” it was, in fact, a Bolshevik Conference.

The conference adopted a-resolution to the effect that otzovism, ultimatumism, Machism and god-building were all incompatible with membership of the Bolshevik faction, and the adherents of these trends were declared to have placed themselves outside the faction:

“At an official meeting of its representatives held as far back as the spring of 1909, the Bolshevik faction repudiated and expelled the otzovists.”

(V. I. Lenin: “The Historical Meaning of the Internal Party Struggle in Russia”, in: “Selected Works”, Volume 3; London; 1946; p. 517).

The conference drew attention to the emergence of the “Party Mensheviks,” and declared:

“Under such circumstances, the task of the Bolsheviks, who will remain the solid vanguard of the Party, is not only to continue the struggle against liquidationism and all the varieties of revisionism, but also to establish closer contact with the Marxian and Party elements of the other factions.”

(V. I. Lenin: Resolution of the Meeting of the Enlarged Editorial Board of “Proletary” – on “The Tasks of the Bolsheviks in the Party”, in: ‘Selected Works,” Volume 4; London 1943; p. 23-24).

The “Vperyod” Group

From August to December 1909 a number of otzovists and god-builders who had been expelled from the Bolshevik faction at the enlarged meeting of the editorial board of in June, held a “school” on the island of Capri (Italy).
The leading figures in the school were Grigori Alexinsky, Aleksandr Bogdanov and Anatoly Lunacharsky, with the participation of Maxim Gorky.

In December 1909 a number of lecturers at the Capri school, together with a number of prominent Bolsheviks including Vyacheslav Menzhinsky, Dmitri Manuilsky and Mikhail Pokrovsky formed themselves into a new faction which they named “Vperyod” (Forward.) The name was selected because it was that of the paper published by the Bolshevik “Bureau of the Committees of the Majority” in 1904, in order to lend support to the group’s claim that its members were “true Bolsheviks” and that the Leninists were now “betraying Bolshevism.”

As Lenin characterised the faction:

“’Vperyod’ represents a non-Socialist-Democratic tendency (otzovism and Machism)”

(V. I. Lenin: “The New Faction of Conciliators or the Virtuous.””,Lenin “Selected Works”., Volume 4; London; 1943; p. 106).

Analysing the programme put forward by the “Vperyod” group, Lenin criticised it for its deviations towards otzovism in the sphere of political tactics and towards reactionary idealism in the sphere of philosophy:

“The platform of the “Vperyod” is permeated through and through by views which are incompatible with Party decisions. . .
In actual fact otzovist tactical conclusions follow from the view adopted by the ‘vperyod’ platform.
By putting forward in its platform the task of elaborating a so-called ‘proletarian philosophy’, ‘proletarian culture’, etc., the ‘Vperyod’ group in fact comes to the defence of the group of literati who are putting forward anti-Marxist views in this field. . . .
By declaring otzovism a ‘legitimate shade of opinion’, the platform of the ‘Vperyod’ group shields and defends otzovism, which is doing great harm to the Party.”

(V. I. Lenin: ‘The ‘Vperyod’ Group”, in: “Collected Works”; Volume 16; Moscow; 1963; p.145-6).

“Everyone knows that it is precisely Machism that is really implied by the term ‘’proletarian philosophy’. In fact, the most influential literary nucleus of the group is Machian, and it regards non-Machian philosophy as non-‘proletarian’….In reality, all the phrases about ‘proletarian culture’ are intended precisely to cloak the struggle against Marxism.

(V.I. Lenin: “Notes of a Publicist”, in: ‘Selected Works’, Volume 4; London; 1943; p. 35-6).

In the winter of 1910-11 the ‘Vperyod’ group organised a second ‘school’ at Bologna (Italy), Here Trotsky acted as one of the lecturers, together with Yuli Martov and Aleksandra Kollontai.

1910: The January 1910 Central Committee Meeting

In January 1910, against the opposition of Lenin who considered the circumstances inopportune, a meeting of the Central Commiittee of the RSDLP was held in Paris, attended by representatives of the Bolsheviks, the Mensheviks, the “Party Mensheviks”, the Social-Democratic Party of the Kingdom of Poland and Lithuania, the Social-Democratic Party of the Latvian Region, the “Vperyod” group, the Viennese group, and the “Bund’. Lenin’s opposition to the holding of the Central Committee at this time was due to his awareness that a number of Bolsheviksincluding Alexel Rykov, Solomon Lozovsky, Lev Kamenev, and Grigori Sokolnikov, had adopted a concilationist position.

Despite this, the Leninists were able to secure the unanimous adoption of a resolution which condemned both otzovism and liquidationism, although without specifically naming them.

“The historical situation of the Social-Democratic movement in the period of the bourgeois counter-revolution inevitably gives rise, as a manifestation of the bourgeois influence over the proletariat, on the one hand to the renunciation of the illegal Social-Democratic Party, this debasement of its role and importance, the attempts to curtail the programme and tactical tasks and slogans of consistent Social-Democracy, etc.; on the other hand, it gives rise to the renunciation of the Duma work of Social-Democracy and of the utilisation of the legal possibilities, the failure to understand the importance of either, the inability to adapt the consistent Social-Democratic tactics to the peculiar historical conditions of the present moment, etc.

An integral part of the Social-Democratic tactics under such conditions is the overcoming of both deviations by broadening and deepening the Social-Democratic work in all spheres of the class struggle of the proletariat and by explaining the danger of such deviations.”

(Resolution of Plenum of Central Committee of the RSDLP, January 1910, cited by V. I. Lenin: “Controversial Questions”, in: “Selected Works”, Volume 4; London; 1943; p. 129).

Lenin’s draft resolution used the phrase “fight on two fronts,” but this was altered by the meeting, on Trotsky’s motion, to the phrase “overcoming … by broadening and deepening”:

“The draft of this resolution was submitted to the Central Committee by myself, and the clause in question was altered by the plenum itself . . on the motion of Trotsky, against whom I fought without success. . . . The words ‘overcoming by means of broadening and deepening’ were inserted on Trostsky’s motion. . . ‘

Nothing at the plenum aroused more furious – and often comical — indignation than the idea of a ‘struggle on two fronts’. . . .

Trotsky’s motion to substituite ‘overcoming by means of broadening and deepening’ for the struggle on two fronts’ meet with the hearty support of the Mensheviks and the ‘Vperyod’-ists. . . .

In reality this phrase expresses a vague desire, a pious innocent wish that there should be less internal strife among the Social-Democrats! . . it is a sigh of the so-called conciliators.”

(V. I. Lenin: “Notes of a Publicist’, in: ibid.; p. 45, 47)

Despite it’s dilution by the concilationists, Lenin considered this resolution as “especially important”:

“This decision is especially important because it was carried unanimously: all the Bolsheviks, without exception, all the so-called ‘Vperyod’-ists, and finally (this is most important of all) all the Mensheviks and the present liquidators without exception, and also all the ‘national’ (i.e., Jewish, Polish and Lettish) Marxists endorsed this decision.”

(V. I. Lenin: “Controversial Questions “, in: ibid.; p. 128-9).

However, the conciliationists managed to secure the adoption of a number of other resolutions at the Central Committee meeting:

1) to dissolve all factional groups;
2) to discontinue the Bolshevik paper “Proletary” and the Menshevik paper “Golos Sotsial-Demokrata”;
3) to grant Trotsky’s Viennese “Pravda”‘ a subsidy from Party funds and to delegate a representative of the Central Committee to sit as co-editor along with Trotsky;
4) to set up an editorial board for the Party’s central organ, “Sotsial-Demokrat” (The Social-Democrat) consisting of two Bolsheviks (Lenin and Zinoviev), two Mensheviks (Martov and Dan, and one representative of the Polish Party (Waraki);
5) to initiate a “Discussion Sheet” in conjunction with the central organ, open to representatives of trends which differed from the line of the Party;
6) to establish the seat of the Central Committee in Russia;
7) to transfer all funds in the possession of factional centres to the general Party treasury.

So far as the last point was concerned, the Bolsheviks transferred their funds to three trustees – the leaders of the Social-Democratic Party of Germany, Karl Kautsky, Franz Mehring and Clara Zetkin — until it could be shown that the other factions had carried out the decisions adopted at the Central Committee meeting.

The Leninists characterised this series of decisions as a conciliationist error, since it secured the dissolution of the Bolshevik faction in return for a worthless verbal promise from the other factions.

“Both the ideological merit of the plenum and its conciliationist error become clear. Its merit lies in its rejection of the ideas of liquidationism and otzovism; its mistake lies in indiscriminately concluding an agreement with persons and groups whose deeds do not correspond to their promises ( ‘they signed the resolution’).”

(V. I. Lenin: “The New Faction of Conciliators or the Virtuous”, in: ibid.; p. 101).

“The conciliators recognised all and sundry tendencies on ‘their mere promise to purge themselves, instead of recognising only those tendencies which are purging themselves (and only in so far as they do purge themselves) of their “ulcers”. The ‘Vperyod’-ists, the ‘Golos’ ites and Trotsky all ‘signed’ the resolution against otzovism and liquidationism — that is, they promised to ‘purge themselves’ — and that was the end of it! The conciliators ‘believed’ the promise and entangled the Party with non-Party grouplets, ‘ulcerous’ as they themselves admitted.”

(V. I.. Lenin: ‘The Climax of the Party Crisis’ in. ibid; p. 115).

The Violation of the CC Decisions

The Bolsheviks dissolved their factional organisation and wound up their factional Paper ‘Proletary’ (The Proletarian), in accordance with the decisions of the January 1910 meeting of the Central Committee.

The Mensheviks, however, declined to dissolve their factional organisation, their factional paper “Golos Sotsial-Demokrata’ (The Voice of the Social-Democrat) or to break with liquidationism. In fact, they began to publish in St. Petersburg a new legal monthly magazine called “Nasha Zarya” (Our Dawn) (which continued to appear until 1914) and continued to publish in Moscow their legal journal “Vozrozhdeniye” (Regeneration). And in August 1910 the Mensheviks began to issue in Moscow the magazine “Zhizn”(Life) (which, appeared until September 1910), while in January 1911 they began to issue in St. Petersburg the legal magazine “Dyelo Zhizni” (Life’s Cause) (which appeared until October 1941).

In all these publications, as well as in “Golos Sotsial-Deniokrata”; which continued to appear regularly, the Mensheviks continued to put forward openly liquidationist views:

“A party in the form of a complete and organised hierarchy of institutions does not exist”

(P. Potresov: Article in “Nasha Zarys”, No. 2, February 1910, p. 61, cited in: V. I. Lenin: “Notes Of a Publicist”, in: “Selected Works”, Volume 4; London; l943; p. 53).

“There is nothing to wind up and — we on our part would add — the dream of re-establishing this hierarchy in its old underground form is simply a harmful reactionary utopia.”

(Editorial in “Vozrozhdeniye”, No. 5, April 12th., 1910, p. 51, cited in V.I.Lenin: ibid.; p. 53).

“The tactics which are to be observed in the activities of the so-called ‘liquidators’ are the ‘tactics’ which put the open labour movement in the centre, strive to extend it in every possible direction, and seek within this open labour movement and there only the elements for the revival of the party.”

(Y.Martov: “Article in “Zhizn”, No. 1, September 12th., 1910, p. 9-l0; cited in: V. I. Lenin: ‘The Social Structure of State Power, the Prospects and Liquidationism”; in:ibid.; p. 84).

“In the new historical period of Russian life that has set in, the working class must organise itself not ‘for revolution’, not ‘in expectation of a revolution’, but simply for the determined and systematic defence of its special interests in all spheres of life; for the gathering and training of its forces for this many-sided and complex activity; for the training and accumulation in this way of socialist consciousness in general; for acquiring the ability to find one’s bearings — to stand up for oneself.”

(Y. Larin: “Right Turn and About Turn!”, in: “Dyelo Zhizni”, No. 2, p..18, cited in: V. I. Lenin: ibid.; p. 90).

“Great political tasks make inevitable a relentless war against anti- liquidationism …. Anti-liquidationism is a constant brake, constant disruption.”

(F. Dan: “Article in “Nasha Zarya”, No. 6, 1911, cited by: J. V. Stalin: “The Situation in the Social-Democratic Group in the Duma “, in: “Works”, Volume 2; Moscow; 1953; p. 385).

In various articles from June 1910 onwards, Lenin drew attention to the fact that the liquidator Menshviks had failed to carry out the decisions of the January 1910 Central Committee meeting:

“During that year (1910), the ‘Golos’-ites, the ‘Vperyod’-ists, and Trotsky, all in fact, estranged themselves from the Party and moved precisely in the direction of liquidationism and otzovism-ultimatumism.”

(V. I. Lenin: “The Climax of the Party Crisis”, in: ibid; p. 116).

“Since that very plenum of 1910, the above-mentioned principal publications of the liquidators. . have turned decidedly and along the whole line towards liquidationism, not only by ‘belittling’ (in spite of the decisions of the plenum) ‘the importance of the illegal Party’; but directly renouncing the Party, calling it a ‘corpse’, declaring the Party to be already dissolved, describing the restoration of an illegal Party as a ‘reactionary Utopia’, heaping calumny and abuse on the illegal Party in the pages of the legal magazines.”

(V. I. Lenin: Resolution on Liquidationism and the Group of Liquidators, Sixth Conference of the RSDLP, in: Ibid.; p. 152)

All the liquidationist newspapers and magazines….. after the most definite and even-unanimous decisions have been adopted by the Party, reiterate thoughts and arguments that contain obvious liquidationism…

The truth proved by the documents I have quoted, which cover a period of more than five years (1908-13), is that the liquidators, mocking all the Party decisions, continue to abuse and bait the Party, i.e., ‘illegal work.'”

(V.I. Lenin: “Controversial Questions”, in:. ibid.; p. 133-4).

The ‘Vperyod’-ists, on the other hand, continued to support toleration of otzovism within the Party:

“‘Vperyod’, No. 3 (May 1911) . . openly states that otzovism is a ‘completely legitimate tendency within our Party’ (p. 78).”

(V.I. Lenin: ‘The New Faction of Conciliators Or the Virtuous’, in; ibid.; p. 107).

In September 1910, Trotsky expelled Lev Kamenev, the officica representative of the Central Committee of the Party, from the editorial board of ‘Pravda’ denouncing:

“The conspiracy of the emigre clique (i.e., the Bolsheviks — Ed.) against the Russian Social-Democratic Labour party”;

(L. Trotsky: “Pravda’, No. 21, 1910),

and adding threateningly:

“Lenin’s circle, which wants to place itself above the Party, will find itself outside it’.

(L. Trotsky: ibid).

Lenin declared that Trotsky’s expulsion of the CC representative from the editorial board of “Pravda” confirmed the already expressed view of the Bolsheviks that, under the guise of “non-factionalism,” Trotsky was, in fact, endeavouring to form a faction:

“That Trotsky’s venture is an attempt to create a faction is obvious to all now, after obvious to all now, after Trotsky has removed the representative of the Central Committee from ‘Pravda.’”

(V. I. Lenin: “The Historical Meaning of the Internal Party Struggle in Russia”: In ‘Selected Works’; Volume 3; London; 19~6; p. 517).

The fact that Trotsky’s professed desire for unity of the factions concealed his support in practice for the Menshevik liquidators and otzovists is shown by his failure to condemn these factions for their repudiation of the conciliationist decisions to which all actions had agreed at the January 1910 meeting Central Committee.

As Trotsky’s sympathetic biographer Isaac Deutscher expresses it:

“This was the occasion on which Trotsky, the champion of unity, should have spared the offenders against unity no censure. Yet in ‘Pravda’ he ‘suspended judgement’ and only mildly hinted at his disapproval of the Mensheviks’ conduct.. . . Trotsky took his stand against the disciplinarians. Having done so, he involved himself in glaring inconsistencies. He, the fighter for unity, connived in the name of freedom of dissent at the new breach in the Party brought about by the Mensheviks. He, who glorified the underground with zeal worthy of a Bolshevik; joined hands with those who longed to rid themselves of the underground as a dangerous embarrassment. Finally, the sworn enemy of bourgeois liberalism allied himself with those who stood for an alliance with liberalism against those who were fanatically opposed to such an alliance. . . .
So self-contradictory an attitude brought him nothing but frustration. Once again to the Bolsheviks he appeared not just an opponent, but a treacherous enemy. . . Martov made him turn a blind eye more than once on Menshevik moves which were repugnant to him. His long and bitter quarrel with Lenin made him seize captiously on every vulnerable detail of Bolshevik policy. His disapproval of Leninism he expressed publicly with the usual wounding sarcasm. His annoyance with the Mensheviks he vented mostly in private arguments or in ‘querulous’ letters.”

(I. Deutscher: “The Prophet Armed: Trotsky: 1879-1921”; London; 1970; p.. 195, 196).

Lenin expressed, himself more forthrightly on Trotsky’s attitude in an article entitled “Judas Trotsky’s Blush of Shame”:

“At the Plenary Meeting Judas Trotsky made a big show of fighting liquidationism and otzovism. He vowed and swore that he was true to the Party. He was given a subsidy. . .
Judas expelled the representative of the Central Committee from ‘Pravda’ and began to write liquidationist articles in ‘Vorwarts’. In defiance of the direct decision of the School Commission appointed by the Plenary Meeting to the effect that no Party lecturer may go to the ‘Vperyod’ factional school, Judas Trotsky did go and discussed a plan for a conference with the ‘Vperyod’ group. . . Such is Judas Trotsky’s blush of shame.”

(V. I. Lenin: “Judas Trotsky’s Blush of Shame”; in: “Collected Works”; Volume 17; Moscow; 1963; p.45) .

The liquidator Menshevik members of the Central Committee, now based in Russia by the decision of the January 1910 meeting of the Central Committee and so compelled to function illegally, refused to attend the CC on the grounds that all illegal organisations were “objectionable” and “harmful.” The conciliationist members of the Central Committee refused to agree to meetings of the Central Committee without the liquidator Mensheviks, on the grounds that such meetings would be “unrepresentative.”

“And what about the work in Russia? Not a single meeting of the Central Committee was held during the whole year! Why? Because the members of the Central Committee in Russia (conciliators who well deserved the kisses of ‘Golos Likvidatorov’) kept on ‘inviting’ the liquidators for a year and a quarter but never got them to ‘accept the invitation.’”

(V. I. Lenin: “The Climax of the Party Crisis”, in: Ibid.; p.116).

The result was that for a considerable period after the January 1910 meeting of the Central Committee, all practical Party work was carried out by the Bolsheviks and the Party Mensheviks,” the latter led by Georgi Plekhanov.

“All Party work .. during the whole of that year (i.e., 1910 — Ed.) was done by the Bolsheviks and the Plekhanovists. . .
This Party work (in literature, which was accessible to all) was conducted by the Bolsheviks and the Plekhanovists in spite…of the ‘conciliatory’ resolutions and the collegiums formed by the plenum, and not in conjunction with the ‘Golos’-ites and the ‘Vperyod’-ists, but against them (because it was impossible to work in conjunction with the liquidators and otozovists-ultimatumists).”

(V. I. Lenin: ibid.; p. 115, 116).

1910-1911: The Bolsheviks Re-form their Faction

Considering in September 1910 that the repudiation of the January 1910 Central Committee decisions had been sufficiently demonstrated; in this month the Bolsheviks funded their own factional newspaper “Rabochaya Gazeta”‘ (Worker’s Newspaper), published in Paris under the editorship of Lenin. The Sixth Party Conference in January 1912, transformed this paper into the official organ of the Party’s Central Committee, and it continued to appear until August 1912.

“The first factional step the Bolsheviks took was to found “Rabochaya Gazeta” in September 1910.”

(V. I. Lenin. “The New Faction of Conciliators or the Virtuous”, in “Selected Works” Volume 4; London; 1943; p. 102).

In December 1910 the Bolsheviks announced formally that they considered themselves released from all the obligations imposed by the January 1910 Central Committee meeting since its decisions had been consistently flouted by the liquidator Mensheviks.

“By their ‘declaration’ of December 18, 1910, the Bolsheviks openly and formally declared that they cancelled the agreement with all the other factions. The violation of the ‘peace’ made at the plenum, its violation by ‘Golos’, ‘Vperyod’ and Trotsky, had become a fully recognised fact.”

(V.I. Lenin: “The Climax of the Party Crisis”, in ibid.; p.117.)

In the same month, December 1910, the Bolsheviks began publication in Russia of’ the legal newspaper “Zvezda” (The Star) – published at first weekly and then two or three times a week, in St. Petersburg until its suppression by the tsarist government in April 1912. “Zvedzda”, was succeeded by “Nevskaya Zvezda” (The Neva Star) , until this too was suppressed in October 1912. They also began to issue the legal magazine “Mysl” (Thought), published monthly in Moscow until April 1911.

In May 1911 the Bolsheviks broke off relations with the Central Corrinittee Bureau Abroad, which was dominated by liquidator Mensheviks.

“For a year and a half, from January 1910 to June 1911, when they had a majority in the Foreign Bureau of the Central Committee and faithful ‘friends’ in the persons of the conciliators in the Russian Bureau of the Central Committee, they did nothing, absolutely nothing to further the work in Russia!”

(V. I. Lenin: ‘The Climax of the Party Crisis”, in: ibid.; p. 121).

“The rupture between the Bolsheviks . . . and the Foreign Bureau of the Central Committee is a correction of the conciliationist mistake of the plenum. The rapprochement of the factions which are actually fighting against liquidationism end otzovism will now proceed despite the forms decided on by the plenum, for these forms did not correspond to the content.”

(V. I. Lenin: “The New Faction of Conciliators or the Virtuous”, in: ibid.; p. 101).

1911: The June 1911 Meeting of CC Members Living Abroad

In June 1911, on the initiative of Lenin, a meeting of Central Committee members living- abroad was held in Paris, attended by representatives of the Bolsheviks, the “Party Mensheviks” the Social-Democratic Party of the Kingdom of Poland and Lithuania, and the Social-Democratic Party of the Latvian Region.

The meeting set up an Organising Commission Abroad, charged with the calling of an All-Russian Conference. This, in turn, set up a Technical Comminion Abroad, to deal with technical questions such as publishing, transport, etc.

From its inception the Organising Commission Abroad had a majority of conciliationist members and, to avoid bringing about a break with the liquidator Mensheviks, it did not proceed with the work of calling a conference. In November 1911 therefore, the Bolshevik members withdrew from it.

The Russian Organising Commission

In July 1911 the Bolshevik member of the Central Committee in Paris sent Grigori Ordzhonikidze to Russia to work there for the calling of a Party Conference. As a result of Ordzhonikidze’s activity, a meeting of representatives of local Party organisations set up in November 1911 a ‘Russian Organising Commission” charged with making all arrangements for convening of a Party Conference.

This commission, composed of Bolsheviks and “Party Mensheviks,” made arrangements for the convening of the Sixth Party Conference in Prague in January 1912.

“By November l4, the Russian Organisation Committee was formed. In reality, it was created by the Bolsheviks and by the Party Mensheviks in Russia. ‘The alliance of the two strong factions’ (strong in their ideological solidarity and in their work of purging ‘ulcers’) became a fact.”

(V.I. Lenin: “The Climax of the Party Crisis”, in: “Selected Works”, Volume 4; London; 1943, p. 118)

In December 1911 the Bolsheviks began publication in St. Petersburg of a legal monthly magazine “Prosveshceniye” (Enlightenment) to succeed “Mysl,” suppressed by the Tsarist government. This in turn was suppressed by the tsarist government in June l914, but a double number appeared in the autumn of 1917.

In the same month, December 1911, a meeting of Bolshevik groups abroad took place in Paris, with the aim of unifying the Bolshevik groups abroad for the forthcoming Party conference. It was attended by 11 voting delegates, under the leadership of Lenin.

1912: The Sixth Conference of the RSDLP

To remedy the intolerable situation created by Menshevik domination of the Central Committee, which refused either to be active or to convoke a congress, a conference of the Party was convened in January 1912 on the initiative of the Bolsheviks – the Sixth Conference of the RSDLP.

More than twenty organisations of the Party were represented at the conference, including those of St. Petersburg, Moscow, Kiev, Ekaterinoslav, Nicolayev, Saratov, Kazan, Vilna, Dvinsk, Tiflis and Baku. The Mensheviks refused to attend – except for a small group of “Party Mensheviks.”

The conference elected a Bolshevik Central Committee, headed by Lenin, and this in turn set up a new Russian Bureau of the Central Committee, headed by Stalin, to direct the practical work of the Party within Russia.

A resolution drafted by Lenin and adopted by the conference reviewed the anti-Party activities of the liquidator Mensheviks, who were grouped around the magazines “Nasha Zarya” (Cur Dawn) and “Dyelo Zhizni” (Life’s Cause), and declared them to be now “outside the Party”:

“The Conference declares that the group represented by ‘Nasha Zarya’ and ‘Dyelo Zhizni’ has by its behaviour, definitely placed itself outside the Party‘.

(V. I. Lenin: Resolution on Liquidationism and the Group of Liquidators, Sixth Conference RSDLP, in: “Selected Works”, Volume 4; London; 1943; p. 152).

The Bolsheviks regarded the Sixth Party Conference as of great significance since, by the expulsion of the liquidator Mensheviks, it created for the first time a truly united Party based on Leninist principles:

“The conference was of the utmost importance in the history of our Party, for it drew a boundary line between the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks and amalgamated the Bolshevik organisations all over the country into a united Bolshevik Party.”

(J. V. Stalin: Report to the 15th. Congress of the CPSU (B.), cited in: “History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolsheviks)”. Moscow; 1941; p. 142).

The Bolshevik “Pravda” (Truth)

The liquidator Mensheviks and the group around Trotsky’s “Pravda” (Truth) refused to recognise the Sixth Party Conference as “legitimate”:

“Neither the liquidators nor the numerous groups living abroad (those of…Trotsky and others)…recognised our January 1912 conference”.

(V. I. Lenin: “Socialism and War”, in: “Collected Works”, Volume 18; London; n.d.; p. 255).

Trotsky, in particular, denounced the Conference virulently in the pages of “Pravda” (e.g., “Pravda” No. 24, 1912) and anonymously in the pages of “Vorwarts”. His anger was intensified when, on May 5th., 1912, the Bolsheviks began publication in St. Petersburg of a daily newspaper under the name of “Pravda”, edited by Stalin; Trotsky thundered against the “theft” of “his” paper’s name by the:

“The circle whose interests are in conflict with vital needs of the Party, the circle which lives and thrives only through chaos and confusion”.

(“Pravda”, No. 25; 1912),

and demanded that the Bolshevik paper change its name, concluding threateningly:

“We wait quietly for an answer before we undertake further steps.'”


Lenin wrote to the editorial board of the Bolshevik “Pravda”:

“I advise you to reply to Trotsky through the post:
To Trotsky (Vienna)…We shall not reply to disruptive and slanderous letters”; Trotsky’s dirty campaign against ‘Pravda’ is one mass of lies and slander..”

(V. I. Lenin: “Letter to the Editor of Pravda”, July 19th., 1912, in: “Collected Works”, Volume 35; Moscow; 1966; p. 41),

and Stalin commented dryly that Trotsky was merely:

“. . .a vociferous champion with fake muscles.”

(J. V. Stalin: “The Elections in St. Petersburg”, in: “works”; Volume 2; Moscow; 1953; p. 288).

“The Organisation Committee”

From the autumn of 1910 Trotsky began preparations to try to unite all the anti-Bolshevik elements associated with the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party into a single bloc which, by calling a conference in the name of the Party, might usurp the name and machinery of the Party.

As Lenin put it:

“Trotsky groups all the enemies of Marxism. Trotsky unites all to whom ideological decay is dear; . . . all philistines who do not understand the reasons for the struggle and who do not wish to learn, think and discover the ideological roots of the divergence of views.”

(V. I Lenin: Letter to the Russian Collegium of the Central Committee of the RSDLP, in: “Collected Works”, Volume 17; 1963; p. 21).

In November 1910 Trotsky secured the passage through the Vienna Club of the Russian Social-Democratic Party of a resolution setting up a fund for the purpose of convening such a conference. Lenin commented:

“On the 26th November, 1910, Trotsky carried through a resolution in the so called Vienna Party Club (a circle of Trotskyites, exiles who are pawns in the hands of Trotsky) . . . . Trotsky’s attacks on the bloc of Bolsheviks and Plekhanov’s group are not new; what is new is the outcome of his resolution; the Vienna Club (read ‘Trotsky’) has organised a ‘general Party fund for the purpose of preparing and convening a conference of the RSDLP’.
This . . is a clear violation of Party legality and the start of an adventure in which Trotsky will come to grief.”

(V. I. Lenin: ibid; p. 19, 20)

“Trotsky’s resolution.. . expresses the very aim of the ‘Golos’ group — to destroy the central bodies so detested by the liquidators, and with them, the Party as an organisation. It is not enough to lay bare the anti-Party activities of ‘Golos’ and Trotsky; they must be fought.”

(V. I. Lenin: “The State of Affairs in the Party”, in: ibid.; p. 23).

In March 1912 Trotsky attempted to take advantage of the expulsion of the liquidator Mensheviks from the Party by calling a preliminary conference in Paris, attended by delegates of the various organisations (some purely fictitious) the leaderships of which were opposed to the Bolsheviks: the Social-Democratic Party of the Latvian Region, the “Caucasian Regional Committee” of the RSDLP, the Bund, the Menshevik group around the newspaper “Golos Sotsial-Demokrata” (The Voice of the Social-Democrat), the “Vperyod” (Forward) Group, and the group around Trotsky’s Viennese “Pravda.”

The meeting denounced the Sixth Party Conference, and the Central Committee elected by it, as “illegitimate”:

“The conference declared that the conference (i.e., the Sixth Party Conference of the RSDLP — Ed) is an open attempt of a group of persons, who have quite deliberately led the Party to a split, to usurp the Party’s flag, and it expresses its profound regret that several Party organisations and comrades have fallen victims to this deception and have thereby facilitated the splitting and usurpatory policy of Lenin’s sect. The conference expresses its conviction that all the Party organisations in Russia and abroad will protest against the coup d’etat that has been brought about, will refuse to recognise the central bodies elected at that conference, and will by every means help to restore the unity of the Party by the convocation of a genuine all-Party conference.”

(Resolution of March 1912 Paris conference in: “Vorwarts”; (Forward), March 26th., 1912).

The conference set up an “Organisation Committee” with the official aim of convening a “legitimate Party Conference.”

Lenin pointed out that Trotsky’s role’ in the projected anti-Bolshevik bloc was to screen the liquidator Mensheviks with “left”demagogic phrases:

“The basis of this bloc is bloc is obvious: the liquidators enjoy full freedom to pursue their line . . ‘as before’, while Trotsky, operating abroad, screens them with r-r-revolutionary phrases, which cost him nothing and do not bind them in any way.”

(V. I. Lenin: “‘The Liquidators against the Party”, in: “Collected Works”, Volume 18; Moscow; 1963; p. 24).

The Revolutionary Revival

During the first half of 1912 the revolutionary movement in Russia began to revive.

In April 1912; during a strike in the Lena goldfields in Siberia, more than 500 workers were killed or wounded by tsarist police. The workers replied with mass strikes and demonstrations, which reached their highest point on May Day.

The “August Bloc”

In August 1912 the anti-Bolshevik conference, to prepare which the “Organisation Committee” had been set up in March, took place in Vienna under the leadership of Trotsky, Martov and Dan.

The organisations represented at the conferences — organisations which together formed what the Party called the “August Bloc” were:

1) liquidator Mensheviks grouped around the paper -“Golos Sotsial-Demokrata”;

2) The liquidator Menshevik group around “Nevsky Golos”(The Voice of the Neva), a legal newspaper published in St. Petersburg from May to August 1912;

3) The “Caucasian Regional Committee of the Social-Democratic Labour Party.” (described by Lenin as a fictitious body), a group of Mensheviks from the Caucusus headed by Noah Jordania);

4) The Ukrainian social-democratic organisation ‘Spillka”;

5) The seven Menshevik Duma deputies;

6) The “Vperyod” group;

7) The Social-Democratic Party of the Latvian Region; and

8) The group around Trotsky’s Viennese “Pravda.”

Representatives of the Polish Socialist Party (not the Polish Social-Democratic Party) and of the Lithuanian Social-Democratic Party attended as observers.

The “Vperyod” group withdrew from the conference on its first day, and a “Bolshevik” who attended from Moscow was subsequently exposed as a police agent.

The conference adopted a resolution calling for the adaptation of the Party organisation to the “new forms and methods of the open Labour Movement’.

It adopted a new programme virtually in line with that of the liberal capitalists in order to make it acceptable to the tsarist government and enable the new party which was planned to emerge from the conference to function legally.

It also adopted a resolution on “national-cultural autonomy” in violation of the national programme of the RSDLP (to be discussed in the next section).

The “Organisation Committee” continued in existence.

Seventeen years later Trotsky commented critically on his role in initiating the formation of the “August Bloc”;

“In 1912, when the political curve in Russia took an unmistakable upward turn, I made an attempt to call a union conference of representatives of all the Social-Democratic factions. . . Lenin, however, came out with all his force against union. The entire course of events that followed proved conclusively that Lenin was right. The conference met in Vienna in August 1912, without the Bolsheviks, and I found myself formally in a ‘bloc’ with the Mensheviks and a few disparate groups of Bolshevik dissenters. This ‘bloc’ had no common political basis.”

(L. Trotsky: “My Life”; New York; 1970; p. 224-5).

“Cultural-national Autonomy”

The policy of “cultural-national autonomy” is based on the erroneous theory that nations are composed of individuals of a particular nationality, irrespective of the territory they inhabit. On the basis of this theory, the proponents of “cultural-national autonomy” propose that within a particular state there should be “separate bodies” with jurisdiction over the cultural affairs of each “nation,” bodies elected by individual persons of each nationality represented within the frontiers of the state concerned.

In 1899, under the influence of Otto Bauer and Karl Renner, “cultural-national autonomy” had been included in the programme of the Austrian Social-Democratic Party:

“What then is the national programme of the Austrian Social-Democrats? It is expressed in two words: cultural-national autonomy. This means, firstly, that -autonomy would be granted, let us say, not to Bohemia or Poland, which are inhabited mainly by Czechs and Poles, but to Czechs and Poles generally, . . no matter what part of Austria they inhabit. That is why this autonomy is called national and not territorial.

It means, secondly, that the Czechs, Poles, Germans, and so on, scattered over the various parts of Austria, taken personally, as individuals, are to be organised into integral nations, and are as such to form part of the Austrian state. In this way Austria would represent not a union of autonomous regions, but a union of autonomous nationalities, constituted irrespective of territory.

It means, thirdly, that the national institutions which are to be created for this purpose for the Poles, Czechs, and so forth, are to have jurisdiction only over ‘cultural’ not ‘political’ questions. Specifically political questions would be reserved for the Austrian parliament (the Reichsrat).

That is why this autonomy is also called cultural, cultural-national autonomy.”

(J. V. Stalin: “Marxism and the National Question”, in: “Works”; Volume 2; Moscow; 1953 p. 331-2).

Lenin and Stalin strongly opposed the definition of a “nation” put forward by the “cultural-national autonomists” as well as their political proposals:

“’Cultural-national autonomy implies precisely the most refined and, therefore, the most harmful nationalism, it implies the corruption of the workers by means of the slogan of national culture and the propaganda of the profoundly harmful and even ‘anti-democratic’ segregating of the schools according to nationality. In short, this programme undoubtedly contradicts the internationalism of the proletariat and is in accordance only with the ideals of the nationalist petty bourgeoisie.”

(V. I. Lenin: “The National Programme of the RSDLP”, in: “Collected Works”, Volume 19; Moscow; 1963; p. 541).

“‘cultural-national autonomy’ . . aims at introducing the most refined, most absolute and most extreme nationalism. . Consolidating nationalism within a certain ‘justly’ delimited sphere, ‘constitutionalising’ nationalism, and securing the separation of all nations from one another by means of a special state institution — such is the ideological foundation and content of cultural-national autonomy. This idea is thoroughly bourgeois and thoroughly false. The proletariat cannot support any consecration of nationalism; on the contrary, it supports everything that helps to obliterate national distinctions and remove national barriers; it supports everything that makes the ties between nationalities closer and closer. . To act differently means siding with reactionary nationalism.'”

(V. I. Lenin: “Critical Notes on the National Question” in: “Questions of National Policy and Proletarian Internationalism”; Moscow; 1967; P. 26,. 28)

“The idea of national autonomy creates the psychological conditions for the division of the united workers’ party into separate parties built on national lines. The break-up of the party is followed by the breakup of the trade unions, and complete segregation is the result. In this way the united class movement is broken up into separate national rivulets.”

(J.V. Stalin: “Marxism and the National Question”; In: “Works”, Volume 2; Moscow; 1953; p. 342-3).

At its Fourth Congress in 1901, the General Jewish Labour League of Lithuania, Poland and Russia (known as the “Bund”) had adopted a resolution declaring the Jewish people to be a “nation” and demanding “national autonomy” for the Jewish people within the Russian state. As Stalin pointed out, the autonomy demanded by the Bund could only be cultural-national autonomy:

“The Bund could seize upon any autonomy at all, it could only be … cultural-national autonomy; there could be no question of territorial–political autonomy for the Jews, since the Jews have no definite integral territory.”

(J. V. Stalin: “Marxism and the National Question”, in: “Works”, Volume 2; Moscow; 1953; p. 347).

At the Second Congress of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party (to which the Bund was affiliated) in July/August 1903, the Bund had proposed that the Party’s Programme should include the demand for “cultural-national autonomy.” The proposal was rejected, only three votes being cast in its favour, and the Bund withdrew from the congress and (until 1906) from the Party.

The conference of the anti-Bolshevik “August Bloc” in August 1912 adopted a resolution on this question which declared:

“The Caucasian comrades expressed the opinion that it is necessary to demand national-cultural autonomy. This conference, while expressing no opinion on the merits of this demand, declares that such an interpretation . . . does not contradict the precise meaning of the programme.”

(Resolution on National-Cultural Autonomy, “August Conference”, cited in: J. V. Stalin: “Works,” Volume 2; Moscow; 1953; p. 295).

Stalin commented on this resolution:

“It was not only the laws of logic that were violated by the conference of the Liquidators. By sanctioning cultural national autonomy it also violated its duty to Russian Social-Democracy. It most definitely did violate ‘the precise meaning’ of the programme, for it is well known that the Second Congress; which adopted the programme, emphatically repudiated cultural-national autonomy”.

(V. I. Lenin: “Marxism and the National Question,” in: “Works”, Volume 2; Moscow; 1953;- p. 370).

It was this controversy on cultural-national autonomy which stimulated Stalin to write, in Vienna in 1913, the classic Marxist work on the national question, “Marxism and the National Question,” published in March-May 1913.

Lenin approved heartily of Stalin’s work:

“As regards nationalism, . . we have a marvellous Georgian who has sat down to write a big article for ‘Prosveshcheniye’, for which he has collected all the Austrian and other material.”

(V.I. Lenin: Letter to Maxim Gorky, February 1913, in: “Collected Works”; Volume 35; Moscow; 1966; p. 84).

“This situation and the fundamentals of a national programme for Social-Democracy have recently been dealt with in Marxist theoretical literature (the most prominent place being taken by Stalin’s article).”

(V. I. Lenin: “The National Programme of the RSDLP”, in:
“Collected Works”, Volume 19; Moscow; 1963; p. 539) .


The campaign of the liquidator Mensheviks for a legally tolerated “open labour party” was associated with the concept that the “backward” Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party should “Europeanised” i.e. transformed into a social-democratic party of the type existing in Western Europe, where capitalist “democracy” had long been established and, furthermore, where the domination of opportunist trends was already clearly discernible. Trotsky played an important role in this campaign for the “Europeanisation” of the Russian Party:

“The vaunted ‘Europeanisation’ . . .is being talked about in every possible tone by Dan and Martov and Trotsky and all the liquidators. It is one of the main points of their opportunism. . . The liquidators play at ‘European Social-Democracy’, although — in the country where they amuse themselves with their game — there is as yet no constitution, as yet no basis for ‘Europeanism’’, and a revolutionary struggle has yet to be waged for them . . The liquidators describe as ‘Europeanism’ the conditions in which the Social-Democrats have been active in the principal countries of Europe since 1871, i.e., precisely at the time when the whole historical period of bourgeois revolutions was over and when the foundations of political liberty had taken firm shape for a long time to come.

Opportunist intellectuals transplant the slogans of such ‘European’ campaigns to a soil lacking the most elementary foundations of European Constitutionalism, in an attempt to bypass the specific historical evolution which usually precedes the laying of these foundations.”

(V. I. Lenin: “How P. B. Axelrod Exposes the Liquidators”, in: “Collected Works”, Volume 18; Moscow; 1963; p. l83-4; 185; 186).

1912-1913: Trotsky in the Balkans

Within a few weeks of the founding conference, it was clear to Trotsky that the “August Bloc” had already been proved abortive. He says in his autobiography, referring to September 1912:

“The August conference had already proved to be abortive”;

(L. Trotsky: “My Life”; New York; 1970; p. 226.)

In this month he was offered the post of Balkan correspondent to the newspaper “Kievskaya Mysl” (Kievan Thought), and he left Vienna in October, just as there began the First Balkan War (October-December 1912) between Turkey on the one hand and Serbia, Greece, Montenegro and Bulgaria on the other. This was continued as the Second Balkan War (January-May 1913). The Viennese “Pravda” ceased publication in December 1912.

Trotsky returned briefly to Vienna at the beginning of 1913, and then returned to the Balkans to cover the Third Balkan War (June-August 1913) between Serbia and Greece on the one hand and Bulgaria on the other.

The 1912 Duma Elections

In July 1912 the Third State Duma was formally dissolved, and the elections for the Fourth State Duma took place in the autumn.

The Bolsheviks and the Menshevik dominated “August Bloc” put forward rival candidates for the Duma. The Bolshevik candidates went to the working people on a revolutionary platform:

“The Social-Democratic Party needs a platform for the elections to the Fourth Duma in order once more to explain to the masses . . the need for, the urgency, the inevitability of the revolution…

The Social-Democratic Party wishes to utilise the elections in order, over and over again, to stimulate the masses to see the need for revolution; to see precisely the revolutionary revival which has begun. Therefore the Social-Democratic Party, in its platform, says briefly and plainly to the electors to the Fourth Duma: not constitutional reforms, but a republic, not reformism, but revolution.”

(V. I. Lenin: “The Platform of the Reformists and the Platform of the Revolutionary Social-Democrats”, in: “Selected Works”, Volume 4; London; 1943; p. 184-5).

The “August Bloc,” on the other hand, put forward a platform based on the demand for democratic reforms, falsely implying that these could be obtained without revolution through mass pressure of the working people upon the tsarist regime:

“Look at the platform of the liquidators. Its liquidationist essence is artfully concealed by Trotsky’s revolutionary phrases.

Our answer is – criticism of the utopia of constitutional reforms, explanation of the falsity of hopes placed in them, all possible assistance to the revolutionary upsurge, utilisation of the election campaign for that purpose. . .

They, the liquidators, need a platform ‘for’ the elections, i.e., in order politely to push back the consideration of’ a revolution as an indefinite contingency and to declare as ‘real’ the election campaign for a list of constitutional reforms. . .
The liquidators are using the elections to the Fourth Duma in order to preach constitutional reforms and to weaken the idea of revolution.”

(V.I. Lenin: ibid.; p. 180, 184, 185).

Of the nine deputies elected from the workers’ curiae, six were Bolsheviks; they were elected from the larger industrial centres, where four-fifths of the working class was concentrated. Seven liquidator Mensheviks were elected, the majority from non-working class curiae.

These deputies — the Bolshevik “Six” and the Menshevik “Seven” — at first formed a single “Social-Democratic” fraction in the Duma, which opened in November 1912. The fraction elected Nikolai Chkheidze, the Georgian Menshevik leader, as its Chairman.

The “Vperyod” Group Cooperate with the Bolsheviks

In November 1912 the “Vperyod” group severed their connection with the “August Bloc” and offered their cooperation to the Bolsheviks.

Lenin accepted the offer of cooperation gladly – but dubiously:

“I am ready to share with all my heart in your joy at the return of the ‘Vperyod’ group, if . . if your supposition is justified that ‘Machism, god-building and all that nonsense has been dumped for ever’, as you write. . . I underline -‘if’ because this, so far, is still a hope rather than a fact. . . .

I don’t know whether Bogdanov, Bazanov, Volsky (a semi-anarchist), Lunacharsky, Alexinsky, are capable of learning from the painful experience of 1908-11. Have they learned that Marxism is a more serious and more profound thing than it seemed to them, that one cannot scoff at it. . If they have understood this — a –thousand greetings to them. . . But if they haven’t understood it, then . against attempts to abuse Marxism or to confuse the policy of the workers’ party we shall fight without sparing our lives.”

(V. I. Lenin: Letter to Maxim Gorky, January 1913, in: “Collected Works”, Volume 35; Moscow; 1966; p. 70, 71).

1913: The January 1913 Conference

In January 1913 a conference of the Central Committee of the RSDLP with leading Party workers was held in Cracow (Poland).

One resolution adopted by the conference noted the revolutionary revival that had marked the year 1912 and declared that one of the immediate tasks of the Party was:

“The organisation of revolutionary street demonstrations, both in conjunction with political strikes and as independent manifestations.”

(Resolution of January 1913 Conference, cited in: N. Popov: “Outline History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union”; London; n.d: p. 282).

The conference once again condemned liquidationism, placing on record that, following the “August Bloc” conference, the liquidator Mensheviks were advocating with still greater energy:

“a) an open party;
b) their opposition to the illegal organisations;
c) their opposition to the Party programme (as expressed in their defence of national-cultural autonomy, the demand for the revision of the agrarian laws of the Third Duma, the slurring over of the demand for a republic, etc.;
d) their opposition to revolutionary mass strikes; and
e) their approval of reformist and exclusively legal tactics.
Accordingly, one of the tasks of the Party is, as formerly, to wage determined warfare against the liquidationist groups ‘Nasha Zarya’ and ‘Luch’, and to explain to the working class masses the sinister character of their teachings”.

(Resolution of January 1913 Conference, cited in N. P.Popov: ibid.; p. 282-3).

The conference advocated the unification from below of the existing illegal working class organisations, in contrast to the unity from above proposed by the conciliators.

Lenin, who attended the Conference, considered that it was:

“Very successful and will play its part.”

(V. I. Lenin: Letter to Maxim Gorky, January 1913, in: “Collected Works”, Volume 35; Moscow; 1966; p. 77).

Trotsky’s Letter to Chkheidze

In “April 1913 Trotsky wrote a letter to Nikolai Chkheidze, Chairman of the Duma Menshevik fraction, in which he said:

“And what a senseless obsession is the wretched squabbling systematically provoked by the master squabbler, Lenin . . , that professional exploiter of the backwardness of the Russian, working class movement. . . The whole edifice of Leninism at the present time is built up on lies and falsifications and bears within it the poisoned seed of its own disintegration.”

(L. Trotsky: Letter to Nikolai Chkheidze, April 1913, cited in: N.Popov,:, “Outline History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union”; Volume 1; London; n.d.; p. 289).

Sixteen years later Trotsky did not challenge the authenticity of the letter:

“My letter to Chkheidze against Lenin was published during this period (i.e., l924- Ed.). This episode, dating back to April 1913, grew out of the fact that the ‘official Bolshevik newspaper then published in St. Petersburg had appropriated the title of my Viennese publication, ‘The Pravda — a Labour Paper’. This led to one of those sharp conflicts so frequent in the lives of the foreign exiles. In a letter written to Chkheidze, I gave vent to my indignation at the Bolshevik centre and at Lenin. Two or three weeks later, I would undoubtedly have subjected my letter to a strict censor’s revision; a year or two later still, it would have seemed a curiosity in my own eyes. But that letter was to have a peculiar destiny. It was intercepted on its way by the Police Department. It rested in the police archives until the October revolution, when it went to the Institute of History of the Communist Party.”

(L. Trotsky: “My Life”; New York; 1970: p. 514-5).

but described its use by the leadership of the CPSU in the campaign to expose the role of Trotsky as “one of the ‘greatest frauds in the world’s history”:

“In 1924, the epigones disinterred the letter from archives and flung it at the party. . The people read Trotsky’s hostile remarks about Lenin and were stunned. . . The use “that the epigones made of my letter to Chkheidze is one of the greatest frauds in the world’s history. The forged documents of the French reactionaries in Dreyfus case are as nothing compared to the political forgery perpetrated by Stalin and his associates.”

(L. Trotsky: ibid.; p. 516).

The “Summer Conference” 1913

In October 1913 another conference of the Central Committee of the Party with leading Party workers, attended by 22 persons, was held at Poropino (Polarid) — a conference referred to in Party literature as the “Summer” Conference of 1913.

One of the principal resolutions adopted by the Conference dealt with the position of the Party’s Duma fraction. Since the seven Menshevik deputies had a majority in the fraction over the six Bolshevik deputies, the latter were constantly being pressed, in the name of “democracy,” to adopt the rightist viewpoints of the majority. The conference protested at the conduct of the seven Menshevik deputies and decided that the bloc of six Bolshevik deputies, who were following the political line of the Party’s Central Committee, should have equal rights with the bloc of Mensheviks.

The seven Menshevik deputies refused to accept this resolution, and the Bolshevik “six” formed an independent “Russian Social-Democratic Workers’ Fraction.”

Another important resolution dealt with the national question, and clarified the meaning of “the self-determination of nations,” as the right of an oppressed nation to secede and form an independent state:

“As regards the right of the nations oppressed by the tsarist monarchy to self-determination, i.e., the right to secede and form independent states, the Social-Democratic Party must unquestionably champion this right.”

(Resolution on the National Question, “Summer Conference”, 1913, cited in: V. I. Lenin: “Collected Works”, Volume 19; Moscow; 1963; p. 428)

The delegation of the Social Democratic Party of Poland and Lithuania at the “Summer Conference” refrained from voting on the question of the right of nations to self-determination,

“Declaring themselves opposed to any such right in general.”‘

(V. I. Lenin: “On the Right of Nations to Self-Determination”, in: “Selected Works”, Volume 4; London; 1943; p.286).

The Polish delegation to the Second Congress of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party in 1903 had similarly opposed recognition of this right in the Programme Commission of the congress, but, receiving no support, did not raise their objections in the full congress but withdrew from it.

The Polish Party based their attitude on the ideas put forward by Rosa Luxemburg in her article “The National Question and Autonomy”; published in “Przeglad Socjal-Demokratyczny” (Social-Democratic Review) in 1908-09).

Although the Polish Party rejoined the RSDLP in 1906, its leaders continued to oppose the principle of the right of nations to self-determination, and in March 1914, Trotsky used this opposition to attack the Bolsheviks:

“The Polish Marxists consider that ‘the right to national self-determination’ is entirely devoid of political content and should be deleted from the programme.”

(L. Trotsky: “Borba”, No. 2, 1914, p. 25).

Lenin replied to these attacks in his article “On the Right of Nations to Self-Determination”:

“Unless we in our agitation advance and carry out the slogan of the right to secession we shall play into the hands, not only of the bourgeoisie, but also of the feudal landlords and of the absolutism of the oppressing nation. . . In her anxiety not to ‘assist’ nationalistic bourgeoisie of Poland, Rosa Luxemburg by her denial of the right to secession in the programme of the Russian Marxists, is in fact assisting the Great Russian Black Hundreds.”

(V. I. Lenin: ibid.; p. 266).

And Lenin commented again on Trotsky’s role in such controversies:

“Trotsky has never yet held a firm opinion on any serious question relating to Marxism; he always manages to creep into the chinks of this or that difference of opinion, and desert one sided for the other.”

(V. I. Lenin: ibid.; p. 286).

1914: The Collapse of the “August Bloc”

In February 1914 the Fourth Congress of the Social-Democratic Party of the Latvian Region held in Brussels and attended by Lenin, resolved to withdraw from the “August Bloc.”

With the withdrawal of the Latvian Party, described by Lenin as

“The only genuine organisation in the ‘August Bloc.”

(V. I. Lenin: “Violation of Unity under Cover of Cries for Unity”, in: “Selected Works”, Volume 4; London; 1943; p.; 199),

The “August Bloc” collapsed.

“The August bloc turned out to be a fiction and collapsed.”

(V. I. Lenin: ibid.; p. 199).

Shortly afterwards the “Caucasian Regional Committee of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party” — in the shape of Noah Jordania — considered it expedient to dissociate itself from the liquidator Mensheviks on a number of questions.

Trotsky’s “Borba”

With the collapse of the “August Bloc,” in February 1914, Trotsky withdrew from the editorial board of the Menshevik paper “Luch” (The Torch) and, together with some of his Viennese supporters, began to publish a legal journal called “Borba” (The Struggle), which continued to come out until July 1914. In this paper, as Lenin noted, he put forward liquidationist ideas in a disguised form.

“In his magazine Trotsky has tried to say as little as possible about the essence of his views, but “Pravda” (No . 37) has already pointed out that Trotsky has not uttered a word either on the question of illegal work, or on the slogan of the struggle for an open party, etc…

But although Trotsky has avoided expounding his views directly, a whole series of passages in his magazine indicate the ‘kind of ideas he is stealthily introducing and concealing.

Trotsky repeats the liquidationist libels upon the Party . . repeating . . what in essence are their pet ideas.”

(V. I. Lenin: ‘Violation of Unity under Cover of Cries for Unity”, in: “Selected Works”, Volume 4; London; 1943; p. 203, 204, 208)

The appearance of “Borba” stimulated Lenin to write one of his fullest analyses of the disruptive role of Trotsky and his supporters, the article “Violation of Unity under Cover of’ Cries for Unity,” written in May 1914:

“Trotsky calls his new magazine ‘non-factional’. He puts this word in the forefront in his advertisements, he stresses it in every way in the editorials of ‘Borba’. . . Trotsky’s ‘workers’ magazine’ is Trotsky’s magazine for the workers, for it bears no trace either of workers’ initiative or of contact with the workers’ organisations.. . . . By this label of ‘non-factionalism’ the worst representatives of the worst remnants of factionalism mislead the young generation of workers….

Since 1912, for more than two years, there has been no factionalism in Russia among the organised Marxists. There is a complete break between the Party and the liquidators . . . The word ‘factionalism’ is a misnomer.

Trotsky talks to us about the ‘chaos of factional struggle’ …. Trotsky is fond of sonorous and empty phrases –this is known, but the catchword ‘chaos’ is not only a phrase; in addition to that it is . . .a vain attempt to transplant to Russian soil in the present epoch the émigré relationships of the epoch of yesterday.

It is impossible to describe as chaos a struggle against a tendency which has been recognised by the entire Party as a tendency, and has been condemned since 1908. . . . To treat the history of one’s own party as ‘chaos’ means that one is suffering from unpardonable empty-headedness ….

Apart from the ‘Pravda’-ists and the liquidators, there are no fewer than five Russian factions, i.e., separate groups, which claim to belong to the same Social-Democratic Party: Trotsky’s group, the two ‘Vperyod’ groups, the ‘Party Bolsheviks’, the ‘Party Mensheviks’.

And here Trotsky is to a certain extent correct! This is real factionalism, this is real chaos…

During the whole of those two years (i.e., 1912 and 1913– Ed.) not one, not a single one of those five factions abroad made the slightest impression on any of the manifestations of the mass labour movement in Russia….

This fact proves that we were right in referring to Trotsky as the representative of the ‘worst remnants of factionalism’…

Although Trotsky professes to be non-factional, he is known to all who are in the slightest degree acquainted with the labour movement in Russia as the representative of ‘Trotsky’s faction’. . . This is a remnant of factionalism for it is impossible to discover in it anything serious in the way of contacts with the mass labour movement of’ Russia.

Finally, it is the worst kind of factionalism, for there is nothing ideologically and politically definite about it….

It cannot be denied that sections of the factions which, like Trotsky’s faction, really exist only from the Vienna-Paris, and not at all from the Russian, point of view are definite.

But Trotsky completely lacks a definite ideology; and policy, for having the patent for ‘non-factionalism’ only means . . having a patent granting complete freedom to flit to and fro from one faction to another….

Under the flag of ‘non-factionalism’ Trotsky is upholding one of the factions abroad which is particularly devoid of ideas and has no basis in the labour movement in Russia….

Not all is gold that glitters. Trotsky’s phrases are full of glitter and noise, but they lack content….

Recently (between August 1912 and February 1914) he followed in the footsteps of F. Dan, who, as is known, threatened and called for the ‘killing’ of anti-liquidationism. Now Trotsky does not threaten to ‘kill’ our tendency (and our Party –); he only prophesies that it will kill itself . . ..

‘Suicide’ is merely a phrase, an empty phrase, it is just ‘Trotskyism’ . . .

If our attitude towards liquidationism is wrong in theory and principle then Trotsky should have said plainly . . . . wherein he found it to be wrong. Trotsky, however, has for years avoided that essential point.

If our attitude towards liquidationism is refuted in practice by the experience of the movement, this experience should be analysed, and this again Trotsky fails to do. He admits: ‘advanced workers become the active agents of ‘schism’ (read — active agents of the ‘Pravda’-ist line, tactics, system, organisation).

Why is this regrettable development taking place that. . . .the advanced workers, and numerous workers at that, are supporting; ‘Pravda’?

Trotsky answers — owing to the state of ‘utter political perplexity’ of these advanced workers.

This explanation is no doubt extremely flattering to Trotsky, to all the five factions abroad, and to the liquidators. Trotsky is very fond of explaining historical events ‘with the learned mien of an expert’ in pompous and sonorous phrases, in a manner flattering to Trotsky. If ‘numerous advanced workers’ become ‘active agents’ of the political and Party line, which does not harmonise with the line of Trotsky, then Trotsky settles the question unceremoniously, directly and immediately: these advanced workers are ‘in a state of utter political perplexity, and he, Trotsky, is obviously in a ‘state’ of political firmness, clarity and correctness regarding the line! And this very same Trotsky, beating his chest, thunders against factionalism, against narrow circles, and against the intelligentsia foisting their will on the workers! . . . .

Trotsky is trying to disrupt the movement and cause a split….Trotsky’s ‘non-factionalism’ is schism, in the sense that it is a most impudent violation of the will of the majority of the workers….You believe it is precisely the ‘Leninists’ who are the splitters? ….

But if you are right, why did not all the factions and groups prove that unity with the liquidators was possible without the ‘Leninists’ and against the ‘splitters’?

In August 1912 the conference of the ‘uniters’ met. Discord set in at once. The August Bloc turned out to be a fiction and collapsed. In concealing this collapse, from his readers, Trotsky is deceiving them. The experience of our opponents has proved we were right; it has proved that it is impossible to work with the liquidators. . .

In his magazine Trotsky has tried to say as little as possible about the essence of his views. Trotsky has not uttered a word either on the question of illegal work, or on the slogan of the struggle for an open party, etc. Incidentally, that is why we say in this case, in which a segregated organisation wants to set itself up without having an ideological-political complexion, that it is the worst sort of factionalism….

Trotsky has avoided expounding his views directly.

Trotsky avoids facts and concrete indications just because they mercilessly refute all his angry exclamations and pompous phrases. It is of course very easy to assume a proud pose and say: ‘coarse sectarian caricature’. It is equally easy to add more slashing and pompous catchwords about ‘emancipation from conservative factionalism’.

But is this not too cheap? Is this not a weapon taken from the arsenal of the period when Trotsky was dazzling the schoolboys?

The old participants in the Marxian movement in Russia know Trotsky’s personality very well, and it is not worth while talking to them about it. But the young generation of workers do not know him and we must speak of him, for he is typical of all the five grouplets abroad which in fact are also vacillating between the liquidators and the Party….

Trotsky was an ardent ‘Iskra’-ist in 1901-03. .

At the end of 1903 Trotsky was an ardent Menshevik, i.e., one who deserted the ‘Iskra’-ists for the ‘Economists’; he proclaimed that ‘there is a deep gulf between the old and the new “Iskra.” In l904-5, he left the Mensheviks and began to vacillate, at one moment collaborating with Martynov (the ‘Economist’), and at another proclaiming the absurdly ‘Left’ theory of ‘permanent revolution’. In 1906-07 he drew nearer to the Bolsheviks, and in the spring of 1907 he declared his solidarity with Rosa Luxemburg.

During the period of disintegration, after long ‘non-factional’ vacillations, he again shifted to the Right, and in August 1912 entered into a ‘bloc’ with the liquidators. How he is again abandoning them, repeating, however, what in essence are their pet ideas.

Such types are characteristic as fragments of the historical factions of yesterday, when the mass labour movement of Russia was still dormant and every grouplet was ‘free’ to represent itself as . . a ‘great power’ talking of uniting with others. The young generation of workers must know very well with whom it has to deal.”

(V. I. Lenin: “Violation of Unity Under Cover of Cries for Unity”, in: “Selected Works”, Volume 4; London; 1943; p. 187-88, 189, 190; 191, 194, l95, 197, 198, 203, 206-08).

The Brussels Conference, 1914

In July 1914 the Executive Committee of the International Socialist Bureau (ISB) took up Trotsky’s concilationist mantle by convening a conference in Brussels of all the groups connected with the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party. Apart from representatives of the ISB (who included Karl Kautsky, and Emile Vandervelde), the conference was attended by delegates from:

1. the (Bolshevik) Central Committee of the RSDLP;

2. the (now Bolshevik) Social-Democratic Party of the Latvian Region;

3. the “Vperyod” Group;

4. the (now purely Menshevik) “Organisation Committee”;

5. the “Bund”;

6. Plekhanov’s “Yedinstvo”(Unity) Menshevik group;

7. the Social-Democratic Party of Poland and Lithuania;

8. the Polish Socia1-Democratic Opposition;

9. the Polish Socialist Party; and

10. Trotsky’s “Borba” group.

The leader of the Central Committee delegation, Inessa Armand, delivered a statement, (drafted by Lenin) setting out fourteen conditions under which the Central Conmittee considered unification possible. These conditions included: the renunciation of views condemned by the Party, the recognition of the necessity of illegal as well as legal work, submission to the Central Committee and dissolution of factions.

Although, under the terms of reference under which it had been convened, the conference was for the purpose of an exchange of opinions only, Kautsky moved a resolution declaring that there were “no substantial disagreements” between the various groups to justify a continuation of “the split” in the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party. The resolution was adopted by a majority of the delegates present, with the delegates of the Central Committee of the RSDLP and the Latvian Party abstaining.

The question of actual unification was to have been taken up at the next congress of the Second International, due to be held in Vienna in August l9l4, but the outbreak of the First World War prevented this congress from taking place.

After the conference, the anti-Bolshevik groups continued to collaborate for a time in what came to be called the “Brussels Bloc.”