One often hears Trotskyists, Anarchists and bourgeois propagandists accuse Joseph Stalin of killing all or at least most of the so-called ”Old Bolsheviks” and thus being able to allegedly distort the true meaning behind Bolshevism/Leninism. Here I won’t be getting into a thorough debate about what is or is not the real core ideology of Bolshevism but I would like to examine the accusation that Stalin ”killed the Old Bolsheviks”.
1. Who were the so-called ”Old Bolsheviks”?
According to the groups mentioned above, i.e. left-communists, Trotskyists, Anarchists and Right-Wingers the term ”Old Bolshevik” typically refers to people such as Zinoviev, Kamenev, Bukharin, Rykov etc.
They allege that these people represented ”real Bolshevism” and that Stalin killed them to implement his ”Stalinist distortion of Bolshevism”.
But what makes these people ”Old Bolsheviks”? Sure enough some of them such as Zinoviev were long standing members of the Bolshevik party, but is that all that we’re talking about? Zinoviev, Kamenev & co. had numerous disagreements with Lenin, the founder and leader of Bolshevism so can they truly be called Bolsheviks at all? Second of all, there are many people who were also longtime members of the Bolshevik Party yet they don’t get the same status of being called ”Old Bolsheviks”.
We can only conclude that the Right-Winger, Trotskyist and their ilk define ”Old Bolsheviks” merely as people who were killed by Stalin. That is their only qualification.
2. The Real Old Bolsheviks
Interestingly Right and ”Left” critics of Stalin don’t seem to consider the following group of people Old Bolsheviks despite the fact that they obviously were – or at least ignore them when arguing that ”Stalin killed the Old Bolsheviks”.
Note: The Bolshevik faction ”RSDLP(B)” emerged in 1903-1907. The RSDLP itself was founded in 1898.
Stalin (joined the RSDLP in 1899. Bolshevik as early as 1903)
Kalinin (joined the party in 1898. Bolshevik at least as early as 1905)
Voroshilov (joined the RSDLP(B) in 1903)
Orjonikidze (joined the RSDLP(B) in 1903)
Sverdlov (joined the RSDLP in 1902. Bolshevik as early as 1903)
Molotov (joined the RSDLP(B) in 1906)
Kaganovich (joined the RSDLP(B) in 1911)
These people were not killed by Stalin, in fact they were his allies and I would argue much better Bolsheviks then Zinoviev & co. However for some reason they do not seem to count.
3. Were Zinoviev, Kamenev & Bukharin really such good Bolsheviks?
I think it can be demonstrated rather easily that Zinoviev, Kamenev, Bukharin, Trotsky & co. were not particularly good Bolsheviks and for that reason calling them ”Old Bolsheviks” (that Stalin ’murdered’ to distort bolshevism) seems dubious.
Zinoviev & Kamenev:
Lenin himself wanted Z. & K. expelled from the Bolshevik party altogether due to their treachery on the eve of the October Revolution. Z. & K. opposed the revolution and criticized it in a bourgeois newspaper, thus revealing the Bolsheviks plan to overthrow the government to the class-enemy.
”When the full text of Kamenev’s and Zinoviev’s statement in the non-Party paper Novaya Zhizn was transmitted to me by telephone, I refused to believe it… I no longer consider either of them comrades and that I will fight with all my might, both in the Central Committee and at the Congress, to secure the expulsion of both of them from the Party… Let Mr. Zinoviev and Mr. Kamenev found their own party”
–LENIN, ”Letter to Bolshevik Party Members” (18th Oct. 1917)
Despite being known as a Right-Winger for his views on economic policy, Bukharinists used to be thought of as a Left-Communist faction in the party. This is in the main due to their adventurism and opposition to the Brest-Litovsk peace-treaty.
Lenin slammed the actions of Bukharin & the ”Left”-communists in ”Peace or War?”
”…he who is against an immediate, even though extremely onerous peace, is endangering Soviet power.”
He also attacked Bukharin on the economic front in 1921 in his work ”Once Again On the Trade Unions: On the Mistakes of Trotsky and Bukharin”.
Mentioning Trotsky in this context is perhaps superfluous but I will do it for the sake of thoroughness. He joined the party only in 1917 and cannot be called an Old Bolshevik in any case. Initially he was a Menshevik (1903-1905), then a member of the ultra-opportunist August Bloch (1907-1913) which Lenin ridiculed, opponent of the Zimmerwald Left that Lenin supported (1914-1916) and finally the semi-Menshevik Mezhraiontsy which ceased to exist in 1917. His disagreements with Lenin are too numerous to mention.
He was a longtime enemy of Lenin prompting Lenin to refer to him as a ”Judas”, ”Swine”, ”Scoundrel”, “bureaucratic” helper of the liberal bourgeois and calling his theory of Permanent Revolution both ”absurd” and half-menshevik. Instead of providing quotations sources for the claims will be at the end or otherwise this section would be too lengthy.
Lenin also attacked Trotsky for his flip flopping on the Brest peace deal and his ridiculous economic policy & poor handling of the trade unions together with Bukharin.
4. The Bloc of Rights & Trotskyites
In 1921 at the 10th congress of the RCP Lenin argued for the banning of factional cliques in the Bolshevik party. This was accepted and factions were either expelled or they capitulated. However after his death various factional groups sprung up. In 1927 Trotsky, Zinoviev & Kamenev were expelled from the party for factionalism after organizing an anti-party demonstration, though Z & K. later capitulated to Stalin.
Trotsky was exiled from the USSR, while Zinoviev & Kamenev were marginalized. The Bukharinists also lost the debate against Stalin & the majority. By 1932 Trotsky, Zinoviev, Kamenev & Bukharin had all lost their legitimate political power. Trotsky created a secret conspiratorial anti-soviet group which was joined by Z. & K. and later various Bukharinites. This group became known in the Soviet media as ”The Bloc of Rights & Trotskyites”.
This is the real reason for which these people were later arrested & executed. They wished to carry out destabilization against the Soviet government which was already worried about foreign Fascist invasions. All of this was denied by anti-soviet elements for decades but the discovery of various letters from Trotsky and his associates has proven it without a shadow of a doubt.
”…The proposal for a bloc seems to me to be completely acceptable.”
–Trotsky to Sedov
”The bloc is organised, it includes the Zinovievists, the Sten–Lominadze Group and the Trotskyists…”
–Sedov to Trotsky
” One fights repression by means of anonymity and conspiracy…”
–Trotsky to Sedov
”As far as the illegal organisation of the Bolshevik-Leninists in the USSR is concerned, only the first steps have been taken towards its re-organisation.”
–Trotsky (Dec. 16 1932)
Source: Library of Harvard College 13905c, 1010, 4782 quoted in Pierre Broué’s The “Bloc” of the Oppositions against Stalin
Whether or not you believe the actions of Trotsky & co. to be justified it is dishonest to claim they were framed or unjustly murdered for their so-called Bolshevism. They fought against the Soviet government and lost.
5. Conclusions: Will the Real Old Bolsheviks please Stand up?
Stalin did not in fact kill the Old Bolsheviks, he killed anti-Soviet renegades whose Bolshevik credentials were questionable at best. The real Old Bolsheviks were people like Kalinin and Voroshilov who supported Lenin since the beginning through thick and thin, not flip-flopping opportunists like Zinoviev who stabbed Lenin in the back when ever it was advantageous.
LENIN QUOTES ON TROTSKY:
”…Trotsky’s (the scoundrel… this swindler … pays lip-service to the Party and behaves worse than any other of the factionalists.”
–LENIN CW 34 p. 400 (1909)
”At the Plenary Meeting Judas Trotsky made a big show of fighting liquidationism…”
–LENIN ”Judas Trotsky’s Blush of Shame” (1911)
Trotsky… proclaiming his absurdly Left ‘permanent revolution’ theory.”
–LENIN ”Disruption of Unity Under Cover of Outcries for Unity” (1914)
“Trotsky’s… theory has borrowed… from the Mensheviks…”
–LENIN ”On the Two Lines in the Revolution” (1915)
”The Bolsheviks helped the proletariat consciously to follow the first line… liberal bourgeoisie was the second… Trotsky is in fact helping the liberal-labour politicians in Russia…”
– LENIN, Ibid.
”What a swine this Trotsky is—Left phrases, and a bloc with the Right…”
–LENIN ”Letter to Alexandra Kollontai” (1917)
”It is Trotsky who is in “ideological confusion”… There you have an example of the real bureaucratic approach: Trotsky… Trotsky’s “theses” are politically harmful…”
–LENIN ”The Trade Unions, The Present Situation And Trotsky’s Mistakes” (1920)
”Comrade Trotsky is essentially wrong on all his new points… Trotsky and Bukharin have produced a hodgepodge of political mistakes”
–LENIN ”Once Again On The Trade Unions: The Current Situation and the Mistakes of Trotsky and Buhkarin” (1921)
On pages 279-280 of the book Rajani Palme Dutt: A Study in British Stalinism by John Callaghan (Lawrence & Wishart 1993), the author writes the following:
“… the evidence points overwhelmingly to Dutt’s satisfaction with the Communist record. In preparing his book on The Internationale, for example, he had considered the inclusion of an anecdote to illustrate the ‘basic guilt of the accused’ [in the Moscow Trials]. Fortunately, although Dutt changed his mind about publication, this curious fragment survives and acquires an especially sinister light today in view of the fact that the Soviet state itself eventually admitted the falsity of the charges brought against the leading Bolsheviks in question. Dutt’s ‘evidence’ concerns ‘a lengthy day’s visit to the village at some distance from Moscow’ where Bukharin and Radek were at work in the summer of 1935. Here ‘under the seal of absolute secrecy’ they apparently ‘gave him a serious and alarming account… of the net in which they had become involved and of the dilemmas with which they were faced’. Dutt was told in very general terms, with no names mentioned, of how ‘opposition to the party, however much it might be felt to be justified at a given moment, can lead by its own logic step by step into the camp of counter-revolution’. He was accordingly advised to never enter this ‘fatal path of conflict with the party’ and retired with ‘the memory of this talk… like a nightmare’ weighing on his mind during the ensuing period. At first Dutt tried to convince himself that these old ‘friends and comrades’ had presented ‘an allegory to test him’ but he had ‘a lurking suspicion’ that their confessions of guilt were true and only failed to report them to the party by taking refuge in the ‘cowardly evasion’ that he had no grounds for certainty concerning their sins. Thus ‘when the trials followed, of Radek, and subsequently of Bukharin, it was as if a weight were lifted from the writer’s [Dutt’s] consciousness that, however terrible, the facts at last were out’. Dutt now read the trial statements of both men and as he did so ‘he felt as if he were reading the same story a second time, since their narrative corresponded so closely with what they had told him on that summer’s day and evening in 1935, even with many of the same phrases.'”
The source given is: Dutt, ‘Radek-Bukharin conversations ommitted from The Internationale’, 11 March 1964, CPGB archive.
“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.” 
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. 
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. 
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.  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:
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.
 Harvard, Trotsky Archive 4782 p. 1; see Broué in Cahiers Leon Trotsky 1980 p. 36; Broué, “Party Opposition to Stalin…” p. 100.
 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.
 We will examine this whole question in detail in a forthcoming work.
 “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 ‘left’ in Britain is characterised by sectarianism. What are the main reasons for this in an imperialist country? John Green examines the causes.
Bourgeois Social Conditions
Divisions in the revolutionary movement are not formed simply from ideological differences, but sometimes represent class and social divisions. The social conditions of many of those who describe themselves as Marxist-Leninist in this country are largely at the root of their sectarianism.
Britain is an imperialist country. In this country, productive industry ranks a poor second to profits received from exploiting other countries, which through a system of ‘aid’ and debt are maintained in neo-colonial servitude. This determines that a petty-bourgeois mentality is created in a section of the proletariat and the intelligentsia in Britain, and this sectarian mentality infects many of those who are drawn into the ranks of the revolutionary left. Thus for some communists the prime requirement of communist unity is that they themselves must lead it. Any initiative, to be acceptable to these “leaders”, must be their own idea. When those affected by this petty-bourgeois mentality do occasionally and for a time gain the leadership of a grouping, democracy, principle and all else is subordinated to their own leadership pretensions.
A form of sectarianism which is no less damaging is met with in those opportunists who refuse to work with others not on the basis of principle, but on the basis of expediency, for tactical gains. These do great harm to the cause of revolutionary unity, in that they appear to legitimise the absence of principle.
Another form which sectarianism often takes is in insisting upon adherence to the elaboration of Marxism-Leninism by a great historical figure as an ’ a priori ‘ requirement before any attempt to form revolutionary unity can take place. They use this position as an apparently principled justification for their unwillingness to collaborate. This is a mistake. Ideological unity cannot be based upon an historical figure. It must be around fundamental questions of principle, strategy and tactics, and each disputed question must be put under discussion. Only by doing this, can the real lines of demarcation, which are concealed behind these allegiances, be drawn and unity be attained.
The first principle for the proletarian revolutionary who is not, like the petty-bourgeois revolutionary, willing to compromise with imperialism until unity is achieved on terms exactly to his satisfaction, is to achieve a dialectical, fighting unity with fellow communists. The unity we must work for is around Marxist principles consolidated in a programme.
The unity of the Communist Party must be a dialectical unity, one which contains contradictions. We need to be able to disagree whilst working together to achieve the Party programme. We must not slurry over contradictions within our ranks for the purpose of preserving formal unity, but we must not transform these differences into a sharp dividing line.
Dialectical unity finds expression within prevailing social conditions. Where there is disagreement on historical questions, unity can exist within a party where objective circumstances permit. This is the case when circumstances are unchanging and principles are not yet being tested by prevailing social conditions. Only at the turning-points, where objective social circumstances are in a process of rapid change (e.g. a revolutionary situation is emerging), do significant differences emerge.
It is important to realise that these differences will not necessarily reflect at all the great questions of the past. Even where people have taken a view on an apparently similar historical question, new circumstances may elicit a new understanding of contemporary events. Prevailing social conditions may demand a change in ideas.
Formal (Idealist) Unity
To unite only with those with whom we agree on historical questions is a form of idealist unity, not dialectical unity, in that it brushes aside consideration of prevailing conditions and absolutises differences. This purist approach leaves the question of building unity for the purpose of revolution and the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat to the indefinite future, when no doubt prevailing social conditions will force us to address these questions. The proponents of this absolute ‘unity’, in practice, subordinate questions of principle to organisational questions.
Attempts at idealist unity look for formal organisational means to efface differences or manage them without resolving them, such as by banning the disputed subject.
The principle of dialectical unity should not be confused with the policy of those groupings who struggle for organisational objectives instead of principles. Such groupings, it is true, unite people of different views, but they subordinate the clarification and resolution of their differences to success in the organisational struggle. This would be only a formal unity. A party built on such lines would tend to fall apart in the course of sharp struggles. If organisational means were employed to preserve the autonomy of those with an aversion to centralism, there would be a lack of internal discipline and the party would not serve the interests of the proletariat. The lumping together of autonomous groupings which do not recognise (or recognise only formally) the legitimacy of the elected leaders, and even creating institutions for the advantage of factions, would be an expression of idealist unity. It would subvert democratic centralism and lay the basis for the principle of opportunism.
Unity on the basis of abstract principles would also result in a purely formal unity. This was evident at the time of the split with the opportunists of the Second International during World War One. Trotskyists of the past claimed to uphold the dictatorship of the proletariat, but in practice counterposed socialism in one country to world revolution. For this reason, discussions need to clarify the depth of existing differences.
Different trends emerge in the party in the course of struggle and it is possible for these to be in unity at a certain juncture when objective circumstances make this necessary in order to achieve the Party programme or to defend party policy. Examples of this are the unity of Bukharin and Stalin to defeat the left deviation; and the fact that Trotsky was for a time a leading member of the Bolsheviks (but lost little time in demonstrating his inability to adhere to Party discipline). It is only at turning-points in social conditions that significant differences emerge. At such times, ‘one becomes two’, but in such a way that the party is strengthened.
During certain periods, contradictions may be non-antagonistic. Part of the sectarianism of Marxist-Leninists in this country is that they frequently fail to distinguish non-antagonistic contradictions at particular periods. Differences over the ‘historical’ application of Marxist-Leninist principles are non-antagonistic contradictions unless prevailing social conditions are such that the questions that called forth these historical questions are again raised from the realm of the possible to become living questions.
The Party Programme
Differences continually emerge from objective conditions and must be resolved within the party. The party must establish a political programme and an organisational structure designed to put the programme into effect. The purpose of the organisation is to realise the programme.
The form of organisation appropriate to the Communist Party is democratic centralism, which contains both differences (democracy) and concrete unity (centralism).
It is the programme, rather than merely abstract adherence to principles, which is primary and which decides the nature of the party and who is able to further its objectives.
Lines of Demarcation
Lenin, in the Declaration of the Editorial Board of Iskra, declared ‘Before we can unite, and in order that we may unite, we must first of all draw firm and definite lines of demarcation. Otherwise, our unity will be purely fictitious, it will conceal the prevailing confusion and hinder its radical elimination.’ The unity he was working towards was the unity of Marxists, in opposition to those who ‘corrected’ Marxism and removed its revolutionary content.
From the Soviet period up to the present day, lines of demarcation have been drawn between those who upheld the principles of Marxism-Leninism, of which Stalin represented the main defence, including the possibility of socialism in a single country and proletarian internationalism, and those who attacked these principles (Imperialism, Social Democracy, Trotsky, Soviet revisionists).
These principles were developed and applied historically through practice and it is our task to continue to apply and develop them in our own practice today. We must view our principles in the fullness of their historical application but must not allow our differences to bar us from achieving revolutionary unity.
Author: John Green
The Marxist-Leninist Research Bureau
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 SOCIALIST REVOLUTION ENCOUNTERS 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.
BUREAUCRACY AND COUNTERREVOLUTION
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’. 
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.  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.  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) 
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.
THE WITHERING AWAY OF THE STATE AND BUREAUCRACY
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’.
 Svetlana Alliluyeva: 20 Letters to a Friend; p. 174.
 See Lars Lih’s introduction to: Stalin’s Letters to Molotov.
 The term ‘Stalinist’ refers to those who supported Stalin.
 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.
“As early as 1902, he [i.e., the British economist John Hobson — ES] had an excellent insight into the meaning and significance of a ‘United States of Europe” (be it said for the benefit of Trotsky the Kautskyian!) and of all that is now being glossed over by the hypocritical Kautskyites of various countries, namely, that the opportunists (social-chauvinists) are working hand in hand with the imperialist bourgeoisie precisely towards creating an imperialist Europe on the backs of Asia and Africa, and that objectively the opportunists are a section of the petty bourgeoisie and of a certain strata of the working class who have been bribed out of imperialist superprofits and converted to watchdogs of capitalism and corruptors of the labour movement.”
– V.I. Lenin, “Imperialism and the Split in Socialism.”
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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).
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).
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.
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)
“…hideous, dissolute and demagogical”
(L.Trotsky : ibid. ; p. 75)
“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.
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.
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)
“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).
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).
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)
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) established.at 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 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.
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.
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).
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).
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).
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.
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.
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).
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).
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.
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 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 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).
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 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.
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 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.
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.
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).
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.
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:
(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).
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 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).
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),
“. . 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
(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).
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).
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).
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.
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 Bolsheviks — including 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 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).
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).
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.
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.
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 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).
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).
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.
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).
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).
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.
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.
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).
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).
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).
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).
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.
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).
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.”
END OF PART ONE
The usual picture of J.V. Stalin built up by the bourgeois is usually in the absence of facts. The paradigm built up is internally inconsistent. With respect to science, Stalin both destroyed true biological science by a rigid “Marxist” dogmatism; and he simultaneously destroyed linguistics, the latter because he could not bear to be challenged. However, Stalin’s polemics in linguistics was really an attack upon mechanical application of “Marxist” doctrine. On this there can be no doubt, as this attack is printed widely, and the bourgeoisie have to acknowledge Stalin’s written words. So, to bourgeois academics – How can these statements be both simultaneously true?
Another mutually contradictory view, is that V.I.Lenin and Stalin threw out: “old, established mores of pre-socialist society”; ie. they were philosophical and cultural barbarians towards previous bourgeois advances. Though supposedly, at the same time Stalin actively retarded developments, as he was enslaved by his “monkish” training as a boy.
Actually, ample data tells us that both Lenin and Stain thought, like Marx and Engels, that it was important to extract the best of bourgeois culture (in art and science) and build upon it to develop socialism :
“The old utopian socialists imagined that socialism could be built by men of a new type, that first they would train good, pure and splendidly educated people and these would build socialism. We always laughed at this .. it was playing with puppets, it was socialism as an amusement for your ladies, but not serious politics. We want to build socialism with the aid of those men and women who grew up under capitalism were depraved and corrupted by capitalism, but were steeled for the struggle.. We have bourgeois experts and nothing else. We have no other bricks with which to build.. The masses.. took power.. that is only half the task, but it is the greater half.. The working people are united in such a way as to crush capitalism by the weight of their mass unity. The masses did it. But it is not enough to crush capitalism. We must take the entire culture that capitalism left behind, and build socialism with it. We must take all its science, technology and art. Without these we shall be unable to build communist society. But this science technology and art are in the hands of and in the heads of the experts.. We will convince the bourgeois specialist that they have no alternative, that there will be return to the old society, and that they can do their work only in conjunction with the Communists who are working at their side.. whose object is to ensure that the fruits of bourgeois science and technology, the fruits of thousands of years of civilisation shall be enjoyed not by a handful of persons for the propose of distinguishing themselves and amassing wealth, but by literally all the working people.”
V.Lenin ” From The Achievements and Difficulties of the Soviet Government.” In “On the Intelligentsia”, Moscow, 1983, p.184-196. Collected Works 29: p 68-76.
As usual bourgeois scholars miss the boat by not caring to see the raging class struggle going on in the USSR. Instead all bad things are ascribed to Stalin’s “madness,” or “cruelties.” What is the truth about the views of Stalin upon how science should develop? Some aspects of Lenin and Stalin’s attitude to science are examined in this article.
The conventional wisdom is that Stalin imposed a dogmatic “Communist structured proletarian science.” But in fact Stalin stopped the building of a “Pure Communist” rival to the “Bourgeois” Academy of Sciences:
“Founded in June 1918, the Socialist (later Communist Academy) of Science ultimately developed a small section in the Natural Sciences, and more than one commentator saw it as a rival to the “bourgeois” Academy of Sciences It was never able to compete successfully with the older academy in the natural sciences. In the social sciences it enjoyed a period of flowering in the 20’s, and produced some of the best Marxist scholarship of Soviet history. In a sense, it succeeded too well in this area, since Stalin did not like independent minded marxists offering views on social issues, that might challenge his own. Stalin abolished the Communist Academy in 1936 at the beginning of his mass purges.”
Loren R Graham: “Science In Russia and The Soviet Union”, Cambridge, Mass. 1993, p. 86.
The main academic historian of Soviet science, Loren Graham, alleges that this was because Stalin:
“Did not like independent minded Marxists offering views on social issues that might challenge his own.”
p.86, Ibid, Graham.
But the Communist Academy had developed an anti-Marxist line that was openly (and not by subterfuge as suggested by so much bourgeois literature) fought by Stalin. The direct evidence for this is the attack that Stalin launched upon the Linguistic School, that centred upon the Theories of Marr. Stalin’s attitude to this and the timing of his critique of Marr, are a valuable source of evidence on his reasoning upon science. We examine this in detail below.
The Communist Academy of the Social Science was founded in 1918. E.A.Preobrazhenskii, was a key advocate of The Communist Academy and proclaimed:
“Marxism in Russia is the official ideology of the victorious proletariat; the Socialist Academy is the highest scientific institute of Marxist thought.. It recognises only the branches of socialist science which are anchored in Marxism… the theory of historical materialism is more important for the social sciences than the laws of Kepler and Newton are for physics.”
Cited, Alexander Vucinich, “Empire of Knowledge. The Academy of Sciences of the USSR (1917-1970).” Berkeley, California, 1984. p.81.
The Communist Academy was charged to form views of science and society consistent with Marxism-Leninism. But in reality the Communist Academy became little more than a:
“Library and a debating club, meeting infrequently and suffering from ambivalent goals and internal fragmentation.”
But, in 1923, it became rather more energized, under the increasing class battles taking place with the various anti-Marxist-Leninist Left Opposition factions. It undertook to:
“Criticise the leading scientists who either displayed philosophical aloofness or opposed Marxist thought. The distinguished members of the Academy of Sciences served as particularly attractive targets for denunciatory attacks.”
Vucinich, Ibid, p.83.
This new approach was consistently an Ultra-Leftist one. This was to take the form of attacks on scientists, not for their science but for their politics. This line was explicitly advocated by L.Trotsky, and a group around N.Bukharin and Preobrazhenskii. It was a line that neither Lenin nor Stalin had adopted, and in fact attacked.
The most prestigious members of the Academy of Sciences at this stage were definitely anti-Marxist, and included V.I.Vernadskii and I.P.Pavlov. Both had expressed their anti-Marxism. The Communist Academy attacked them, and the Academy of Sciences as an institution itself:
“V.I.Vernadskii was accused of flirting with Bergsonian Vitalism and of challenging the notion of the material unity of the universe, firmly built into Marxist ontology.. The famed neurophysiologist I.P.Pavlov was the target of numerous innuendoes depicting him as the mastermind of recurring efforts to make the study of conditioned reflexes the only basis of scientific sociology and social psychology.. M.N.Pokrovskii, President of the Communist Academy made no effort to disguise his view of the Academy of Sciences as a sanctuary of bourgeois thought and an institutional antitheses to Marxist plans for organised research.”
Vucinich, Ibid, p.83
Most bourgeois tendencies allege that an Ultra-Left line towards science (i.e. anti-science line based purely on some alleged “Communist expediency”) was adopted by Stalin. But, the leading intellectual force of the Communist Academy, (as well as Preobrazenskii) was NOT Stalin, but in fact, Leon Trotsky:
“The Communist academy provided a forum for a group of Marxist theorists led by Leon Trotsky, who contended that the excessive worship of Pavlov’s theories worked against the burgeoning efforts to effect a fruitful synthesis of Marxism and Freudianism. Pavlov’s publicly expressed aversion to the use of revolutionary methods as a tool of resolving socials conflict was directed against the political strategy of the Bolshevik party. N.I.Bukharin, a member of the Communist Academy wrote a lengthy article refuting Pavlov’s claims that the October Revolution was a historical anomaly.”
p. 83, Vucinich, Ibid.
Despite this, the Bolshevik Government, (in both the Lenin and Stalin years) protected and aided both Vernadskii and Pavlov in their research. Pavlov in particular was greatly aided in his researches by both Lenin and Stalin after him. Lenin promulgated through the Council of People’s Commissars, a Decree ensuring that Pavlov would receive adequate state support for his work:
“Of tremendous importance to the working people of the world.”
(V.I.Lenin “Concerning The Conditions Ensuring the research Work of Academician I.P.Pavlov and His Associates.” In “On the Intelligentsia.” Ibid, p. 269. From CW Vol 32.p.69).
It is true that Pavlov’s research saw the legitimacy of environmental and organismal interaction, and this was congenial to Marxism-Leninism. But it does not alter the fact that a gifted researcher, though a self proclaimed and openly anti-Marxist, was given full rein to pursue science.
But even the members of the Communist Academy had great difficulty in agreeing how to view modern science from a Marxist perspective. There were two camps. The “Mechanists” led by L.I.Aksel’rod and A.K.Timiriazev and the self styled “Dialecticians”, led by A.M. Deborin. The battle between these two wings drew Stalin’s attention, and that of Vernadskii. The latter was an old “relic” of a scientist, actively still studying. He saw the two orientations from his view of science. He:
“Concluded that the philosophical stance of the (so called) mechanists was more realistic and more in tune with the spirit of twentieth century science. The mechanist orientation he said, was more satisfactory because it was further removed from Hegelian idealism and was closer to 18th Century materialism, which was based on the achievements and the logic of science and did not try to impose its authority on science.”
P. 151, Vucinich.
But Vernadskii was attacked on the grounds that his philosophy contradicted dialectical materialism. This attack was led by Deborin. As Vucinich says:
“That Vernadskii survived the attacks led by Deborin was proof of the willingness of the authorities to tolerate selected established scholars, in the natural sciences, despite demonstrative refusals to make dialectical materialism part of their thinking.”
Vucinich, Ibid, p.152.
Deborin and his backer, Bukharin made other assertions. These included an attack upon Lenin, that alleged that Lenin was a man of action and not one of theory. Stalin identified the views of the Deborin group as an expression of “Menshevizing Idealism.” If that is so, there is a greater significance in Deborin’s attacks on Vernadskii. Not for the first time, it became obvious that simply using the terms Dialectical Materialism in an analysis did not make it dialectical, nor yet materialist! Obviously, Stalin cannot have supported attacks launched upon Vernadskii.
The CC of the CPSU(B), at that time still under the control of Marxist-Leninists, openly counter-attacked against Deborin in the theoretical journal : “Under the Banner of Marxism”:
“The organ defended the “general party line” and fought the two categories of philosophical deviationism:
‘the mechanical revision of Marxism, as the main danger at the present time, and the idealistic distortions of Marxism by the Deborin group.’
Deborin quickly admitted his errors.. particularly his ‘unsupportable’ assertion that while Plekhanov was primarily a theorist, Lenin was first of all ‘ a practical person, a revolutionary, and a leader.'”
Vucinich, Ibid, p. 151.
Deborin and his ally N.I.Bukharin then tried to make amends for their false characterisation of Lenin as being a man of action, and not a theorist. For instance at the 10th anniversary of Lenin’s death in 1923, both gave major eulogies of Lenin stressing his theoretical acumen. For Bukharin, this was the first time he had publicly credited Lenin for his theoretical contributions.
Despite this, the Communist Academy, continued to develop an Ultra-leftist line on several issues. M.B.Mitin later became a key proponent of Trofim Denisovich Lysenko, the main protagonist in the Biology Debates of a crude Reductionist Marxism. But at this earlier stage, Mitin became a leading “interpreter” of the relevance of dialectics to natural science. The thrust he used was to emphasise Lenin’s view in “Materialism and Empirio-Criticism,” that “too much mathematics” was equivalent to “formalism.” (Vucinich, Ibid, p. 154).
Here a new tactic was used. Later it became a more conscious strategy – one of hiding behind a Personalty Cult. Here the Cult was that of Lenin, later this would be of Stalin. This tactic would be to enshrine a view, and take it completely out of context to justify its application to unwarranted situations. For clearly Lenin, the author of “Empirio-criticism”; had not had any fundamental objections to mathematicians!
BUT, IF IT IS TRUE THAT THE COMMUNIST ACADEMY WAS AN ULTRA-LEFTIST ORGANISATION, AIMED ULTIMATELY AT DISCREDITING MARXISM-LENINISM, WHAT PROOF IS THERE OF THIS ASSERTION? WHAT WAS STALIN’S ATTITUDE TO THE COMMUNIST ACADEMY?
Luckily, we do have a very good “Test Case.” Firstly in 1938 the Communist Academy was closed, this of itself suggests a lack of support from the Politburo. But the real “test case” actually developed as an Ultra-Leftist line, emanating from within the Communist Academy. This specific Test Case, is the school of linguistics, built up within the Communist academy. Stalin critiqued it in “Marxism and Problems of Linguistics.” Stalin’s text is very far from a doctrinaire and shrill attack on a “Classless” science. In fact the pamphlet is a sharp attack on the mindless, mechanical and formal introduction of Class issues into a scientific debate on the origins of languages.
This trend had been started by N.Ia.Marr (also translated as N.Y.Marr), who was a member of the Academy of Science from 1912-1934 when he died. In 1930 he became a party member and in 1931 became a member of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee and achieved the Lenin medal for achievement in science.
“Because of certain rudimentary similarities between his views and Marxist theory, Communist scholars were quickly accustomed to treating his theory as Marxist linguistics. Marxists were attracted to his Japhetic theory, which sought a common base for Caucasian and Semitic languages, and for all languages of the world – the ideas of common origins and evolutionary unilinearity having been firmly built into Marr’s thought and into Stalin’s internationalism of the 1930’s.”
Vucinich, Ibid, p.185.
This development was fostered and directly supported by the Communist Academy. Its President, Pokrovskii ensured that N.Ia Marr was made a member of the Communist Academy and became head of the subsection “of materialistic linguistics.” Pokrovskii’s commitment was emphatic:
“As stated correctly by a Leningrad comrade, Marr’s theory must recognise Marxism as its general philosophical and sociological base and Marxism must recognise the Japhetic theory as its special linguistic division.”
Cited, Vucinich A, Ibid. p.186.
WHAT WAS MARR’S THEORY, AND WHAT DID STALIN THINK OF IT? IN EXAMINING MARR, WE HERE TEST TWO OVERALL ASSUMPTIONS.
FIRSTLY How “rigid” was Stalin on his application of principles of dialectical materialism to a general scientific problem?
SECONDLY, how “rigid” was Stalin in conceding that in science there has to be back and forth, debate, full intellectual cut and thrust?
The discourse “Concerning Problems in Linguistics,” was written in the form of questions from “younger comrades’, and Stalin’s responses. Stalin had been approached by students to enter the debate.
As regards the behaviour of debate and academic back and forth by scientists in science, Stalin was quite clear. It must be remembered that this work was originally published in Pravda in 1950. This timing is significant, for it came after T.D.Lysenko effectively and exclusively ruled the roost in genetics. In other words, Stalin’s words in linguistics, are pertinent to understanding how he may, or may not have supported Lysenko:
“Question: Did Pravda act rightly in starting an open discussion on problems of linguistics?
Answer: Yes it did. It has been brought out in the first place that in linguistic bodies, both in the center and in the republics a regime has prevailed which is alien to science and men of science. The slightest criticism of the state of affairs in Soviet Linguistics, even the most timid attempt to criticize the so-called “new doctrine” in linguistics, was persecuted and suppressed by the leading linguistic circles. Valuable workers and researchers in linguistics were dismissed from their posts or demoted for being critical of N.Y.Marr’s heritage or expressing the slightest disapproval of his teachings. Linguistic scholars were appointed to leading posts not on their merits, but because of their unqualified acceptance of N.Y.Marr’s theories.”
“It is generally recognised that no science can develop and flourish without a battle of opinions, without freedom of criticism, But this generally recognised rule was ignored and flouted in the most unceremonious fashion. There arose a closed group of infallible leaders, who having secured themselves against any possible criticism became a law unto themselves and did whatever they pleased.”
Stalin, J.V. “Concerning Marxism in Linguistics”, Contained in Stalin, J.V. “Marxism and Problems of Linguistics,” Foreign languages Press, Peking, 1972, p.29-30.
In the same section, Stalin states that besides exposing the fact that there was an extremely unhealthy climate in linguistics (‘a Regime’), there was a second reason why it was good to ventilate these issues openly. This was in order to clarify the controversial areas, from the scientific point of view:
“The usefulness of the discussion does not end here. It not only smashed the old regime in linguistics but also brought out the incredible confusion of ideas on cardinal question of linguistics which prevails among the leading circle in this branch of science. Until the discussion began, the “disciples” of N.Y.Marr kept silence and glossed over the unsatisfactory state of affairs in linguistics. But when the discussion started silence became impossible and they were compelled to express their opinion in the press. And what did we find? It turned out that in N.Y.Marr’s teachings there are a number of defects, errors, ill-defined problems and sketchy propositions. Why, one asks, have N.Y.Marr’s “disciples” begun to talk about this only now, after the discussion opened ? Why did they not see to it before? Why did they not speak about it in due time openly and honestly, as befits scientists?”
J.V.Stalin, Ibid, p.31.
In the same section Stalin points out that, Marr’s status was such, that any mundane words of Marr’s were considered valuable holy writ. So much so, that when even the author Marr himself discredits one of his own textbooks, his followers insisted on its use! It is very obvious how this enshrining of a view can take a knife to that independence of thought crucial for aspiring Marxist-Leninists. Stalin saw the potential for mischief (Sabotage):
“If I were not convinced of the integrity of Comrade Meschaninov and the other linguistic leaders I would say that such conduct is tantamount to sabotage.”
Stalin, p.30, Ibid.
But what leads to this rather unhappy and unscientific state of affairs?
“How could this have happened? It happened because the Arakcheyv regime established in linguistics, cultivates irresponsibility and encourages such arbitrary actions.”
Stalin, Ibid, p. 30.
Arakcheyv was a:
“Reactionary politician Count Arakcheyev, responsible for an unrestrained, dictatorial police state warlord despotism and brutal rule enforced in Russia in the first quarter of the 19th century.”
Editors notes to J.V.S. Edition (Peking) cited above, p.55.
BUT THEN HOW ARE WE TO CHARACTERISE MARR, ACCORDING TO STALIN?
“Save us from N.Y.Marr’s “Marxism”! N.Y.marr did indeed want to be, and endeavoured to become, a Marxist, but he failed to become one. He was nothing but a simplifier and vulgarizer of Marxism, similar to the “proletcultist’ or the ‘Rappists.'”
Stalin, Ibid, p. 31.
Who were the ‘proletcult’ (also spelt Proletkul’t) or the ‘Rappists’?
They were organisations that represented the views of the visual artists and writers respectively, who were trying to define their role in the revolution. Their big debate was whether any of the “Old cultures” (ie Rembrandt or Tolstoy or medieval church icons etc) had any relevance to socialist life in the Soviet Union. The tendency towards Ultra-Leftism , exemplified with the attitudes of poet and artist, Vladamir Mayakovsky (“Out with the Old”) was dominant.
Both Bukharin, and A.Lunarcharsky were in contradiction with that of Lenin, upon the Proletkul’t, and the issues of whether a new separate proletarian culture could be evolved without recourse to the structure of previous “bourgeois culture.” Thus Lenin had to soothe Buhkarin, and tried to win him to a compromise when Bukharin refused to attend the Congress of the Communist Group at the First All Russian Congress of Proletkul’t, October 5-12 1920.
[Editor : Please see a fuller “Note On RAPP and The Proletkul’t”, Below (p.19)].
The general relationship of The Communist Academy to Proletkul’t, lay in their common Ultra-Left wing approach to the intelligentsia; and their applications of a mechanical simplistic reductionist “Marxism,” and not a dialectical understanding. In this Marr was characteristic.
Wherein did Marr’s Ultra-Left errors lie?
“N.Y.Marr introduced into linguistics another and also incorrect and non-Marxist formula regarding the “class character”of language,and got himself into a muddle and put linguistics into a muddle. Soviet linguistics cannot be advanced on the basis of an incorrect formula which is contrary to the whole course of the history of peoples and languages.”
Stalin, Ibid, p. 31.
Moreover Marr’s style was repugnant:
“Marr introduced into linguistics an immodest boastful, arrogant, tone alien to Marxism and tending toward a bald and off-hand negation of everything done in linguistics prior to Marr.
Marr shrilly abused the comparative historical method as “idealistic”. Yet it must be said that, despite its serious shortcomings the comparative-historical method is nevertheless better than Marr’s really idealistic four-element analysis, because the former gives a stimulus to work, and the latter only gives a stimulus to loll in one’s arm-chair and tell fortunes in the tea-cup of the celebrated four elements…
To listen to Marr, and especially to his disciples, one might think that there was no such thing as the science of language, that the science of language appeared with the “new doctrine” of Marr. Marx and Engels were much more modest: they held that their dialectical materialism was a product of the development of the sciences, including philosophy, in earlier periods.”
Stalin, Ibid, p. 31-2.
Stalin did not reject all that Marr said:
“Of course the works of Marr do not consist solely of errors. Marr made very gross mistakes when he introduced into linguistics elements of Marxism in a distorted form, when he tried to create an independent theory of language, But Marr had certain good and ably written works, in which he, forgetting his theoretical claims, conscientiously and one must say, skilfully investigates individual languages, In these works one can find not a little that is valuable and instructive. Clearly these valuable and instructive things should be taken from Marr and utilized.”
Stalin, “Concerning Certain Problems of Linguistics, Reply to Comrade E.Krasheninnikova,” Contained in “Marxism and Problems of Linguistics,” Peking, Ibid, p.39
We have examined how Stalin viewed Marr, and what he at least said about the scientific method-the “clash of opinions.” There is not a little here that reminds one forcibly about the tone of the Biology debates undertaken by Lysenko.
To illustrate that Stalin was not a crude “Reducer to Class Reality,” we have to discuss his actual concrete objections to the Japhetic School of Marr.
BY UNDERSTANDING THIS, WE SEE THAT STALIN DID NOT ADVOCATE A CRUDE “MARXIST LEVELLING”:
Firstly Marr, argued that language was a “superstructure on the base.” This was a mechanical translation of the Marxist view that all the phenomena of a class society reflect the underlying economic structures:
“Question :Is it true that Language is a superstructure of the base?
Answer : No, it is not true. The base is the economic structure of society as the given stage of its development. The superstructure us the political, legal, religious, artistic, philosophical views of society and the political legal and other institutions corresponding to them.
Every base has its own corresponding superstructure, the base of the feudal system has its superstructure its political legal or other views, and the corresponding institutions; the capitalist base has its own superstructure, so has the socialist base.
In this respect language radically differs from the superstructure. Take for example, Russian society and the Russian language. In the course of the past 30 years the old capitalist base has been eliminated in Russia and a new socialist base has been built. Correspondingly the superstructure on the capitalist base has been eliminated and a new superstructure created corresponding to the socialist base.. But in spit of this the Russian language has remained basically what it was before the October Revolution.. Language is not a product of one base or another, old or new within the given society, but of the whole course of history of the society and of the history of the bases for many centuries.. Language was created for by some by one class, but by the entire society, by the hundred of generations.”
Stalin, Ibid, p. 3-6.
Secondly Marr argued that there were class languages, and now there was a “proletarian” languages pitched against a “bourgeois” language:
“Question: Is it true that language always was and is class language, that there is no such thing as language which is the single and common language of a society, a non-class language common to the whole people?
Answer: “The first mistake is that…our comrade are confusing language with superstructure…since the superstructure has a class character, language too must be a class language, and not a language common to the whole people.
The Second mistake of these comrades is that they conceive the opposition of interests of the bourgeoisie and the proletariat and the fierce class struggle between them as meaning the disintegration of society, as a break of all ties between the hostile classes. They believe that since society has disintegrated and there is no longer a single society, but only classes, a single language of society, a national language, is unnecessary. If society has disintegrated and there is no longer a language common to the whole people, a national language, what remains? There remain classes and ‘class languages.’ Naturally every ‘class language’ will have its own ‘class’ grammar- a ‘proletarian’ grammar or a ‘bourgeois’ grammar.
True such grammars do not exist anywhere. But that does not worry these comrades: they believe that such grammars will appear in due course.
At one time there were ‘Marxists’ in our country who asserted that the railways left to us after the October Revolution were bourgeois railways, that it would be unseemly for us Marxists to use them, that they should be torn up and new ‘proletarian’ railways built. For this they were nicknamed ‘troglodytes.'”
Stalin, Ibid, p.16-7
Finally on Marr’s mechanical insistence that there were “stages” in language development, Stalin was equally blunt:
“It is said that the theory that languages develops by stages is a Marxist theory, since it recognises the necessity of sudden explosions as a condition for the transition for a language from an old reality to a new. This is of course untrue for it is difficult to find anything resembling Marxism in this theory.. Marxism does not recognise sudden explosions in the development of languages, the sudden end of an existing language, and the sudden erection of a new language. Lafargue was wrong when he spoke of a sudden “linguistic revolution” which took place between 1789 and 1794 in France (See Lafargue’s pamphlet The French Language Before and After the Revolution). There was not a linguistic revolution, let alone a sudden one, in France at that time.. Marxism holds that transition for a language from an old quality to a new does not take place by way of an explosion, of the destruction for an existing language and the certain of a new one, but by the gradual accumulation of the elements of the new quality and hence by the gradual dying away of the elements of the old quality.”
“It should be said in general for the benefit of comrades who have an infatuation for explosions that the law of transitions from an old quality to a new by means of an explosion is inapplicable not only to the history of the development of languages; it is not always applicable to other social phenomena of a base or superstructural character. It applies of necessity to a society divided into hostile classes. But it does not necessarily apply to a society which has no hostile classes.”
Stalin, Ibid, p. 27.
Finally why did Stalin feel that he could so sharply pin down the weaknesses of Marr? It was not the case for biology. But the debates in biology; and their terms paralleled well the Linguistics Debate, upon which Stalin came out with a written piece, that exposed the shallowness of the hitherto “Linguistics Debate.” Furthermore, these polemics, upon Linguistics, are not after all, like the common image painted by the bourgeois. You know the sort of thing, “subtle, quietly intelligent, devious – quiet in public, stab you dead in the dark sort of thing.”
Even the line the polemics describe, is counter to the view that the bourgeois paint. Instead of the crude Marxist Levelling that bourgeoisie accuse him of, Stalin upholds a much more visionary view. After all, what could be more plain to a “Marxist” than that everything in society is a product of class warfare? The same bourgeois and Trotskyites, who castigate Stalin’s understanding of philosophy as “Class Reductionist” cannot explain his refusal to jump onto Marr’s bandwagon. This would appear to be a “perfect bandwagon,” from the standpoint of the usual Paradigm set up by the bourgeois academics.
Obviously, Stalin was enabled to put into print an attack upon Ultra-Leftism in the science of Linguistics because some students had the good sense to approach him for direction. But it cannot be irrelevant that one of his first theoretical books had been : “Marxism and the National Question.” Indeed it had been this book written in 1913, that had first attracted Lenin’s attention to Stalin. One could be forgiven for guessing that this work, allowed Stalin the critical scientific insight into the technicalities that allowed him to open an attack.
In biology, he may not have had the critical insights. But he could see the debate as an important debate, that was proceeding. The complexity of this debate was staggering; both “sides” had good points. The same issues (environment versus heredity) continue to plague honest and principled scientists now. Stalin probably realised this. Not being an “expert,” Stalin commissioned assessments, from specialists in the biological field such as Sukachev. Ultimately Lysenkoism as a crude unthinking “application” of dialectics to biology was reductionist and destructive.
The linguistics debate makes clear Stalin’s opposition to an anti-scientific approach to technical questions; and Stalin’s insistence that only “applications of dialectics” will explain the facts. As opposed to this was the reductionist view that “dialectics came first and then come the facts.” As Stalin says in the linguistics debate, there is a relationship between that latter incorrect view, and sabotage.
Both Proletkul’t, and RAPP were Ultra-Leftist organisations for the visual arts, and writing respectively. Both provoked Lenin’s disapproval on aesthetics, and their ultra-leftist insistence of “out with the old.” For example Lenin explicitly did not support abstractionism in art and expressly countered movements like the Futurists (supported by Proletkul’t). These movements, always popular amongst the “avant garde” Art For Art Sake-ists in the West, were highly abstractionist in their art, and their view of what “the masses needed.” All this, ultimately led to an open disagreement between the Minister for Culture A.Lunarcharsky and Lenin.
The latter viewed the Futurists and the like tendencies as being generally positive. At the First Proletkul’t Congress in 1920, Lunarcharsky attempted to downplay the role of the State apparatuses like the Education commissariat, in ensuring that the Ultra-Left tendencies of Proletkul’t did not go unrestricted.
In an open rebuke, Lenin proposed a Draft Resolution. Points One and Two, emphasised the leading role of the workers and peasants in creating socialism; and therefore the leading role of the vanguard Communist Party in pubic education. The Third point pointed out that history had vindicated the Marxist world outlook.
The 4th and 5th points emphasised that all culture had to be absorbed, and that the State Apparatuses had to be the final arbiters of public education :
“4. Marxism has won its historic significance as the ideology of the revolutionary proletariat because, far from rejecting the most valuable achievements of the bourgeois epoch, it has, on the contrary assimilated and refashioned everything of value in the more than 2,000 years of the development of the human thought and culture. Only further work in this basis and in this direction, inspired by the practical experience of the proletarian dictatorship as the final stage in the struggle against every form of exploitation can be recognised as the development of a genuine proletarian culture.”
“5. Adhering unswervingly to this stand of principle, the All Russia Congress of Proletkul’t rejects in the most resolute manner, as theoretically unsound and practically harmful, all attempts to invent one’s own particular brand of culture, to remain isolated is self-contained organisations, to draw a line dividing the field of work of the Peoples’ Commissariat of Education and the Proletkul’t, or to set up a Proletkul’t “autonomy” within establishments, under the People’s Commissariat of Education and so forth. On the contrary the Congress enjoins all Proletkul’t organisations to fully consider themselves in duty bound to act as auxiliary bodies o the network of establishments under the People’s Commissariat of Education, and to accomplish their tasks under the general guidance of the Soviet Authorities (Specifically the People’s Commissariat of Education) and of the Russian Communist Party, as part of the tasks of the proletarian dictatorship.”
V.Lenin CW: Vol 31, Moscow, 1966-86. p.316-7.
Buhkarin had refused to speak at the Congress, following Lenin’s draft resolution, as above. Bukharin’s grounds for refusal were that he would be in disagreement with Lenin on various issues, especially Point 4 of Lenin’s draft Resolution “On Proletarian Culture ” (See above). However, Lenin tried to assuage Bukharin’s refusal with the following note:
“Why now dwell on the differences between us (perhaps possible ones), it suffices to state (and prove) on behalf of the Central Committee as a whole:
1. Proletarian culture = communism.
2. Is carried out by the RCP (ie the party-ed).
3. The proletar.class = RCP=Soviet power.
We are all agreed on this, aren’t we?”
V.Lenin Oct. 11th, 1920. In CW. Moscow, 1944 Vol 44. p.445.
The Draft Resolution of Lenin was adopted by the Congress of Proletkul’t.
In February 1928, Aleksandr Smirnov*, who had been People’s Commissar of agriculture in the Russian Republic, was promoted to the position of Secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU:
“In February (1928 – Ed.), the Rightist Commissar of Agriculture of the Russian Republic, Aleksandr Smirnoy, was . . . appointed to the Party Secretariat.”
(Stephen F. Cohen: ‘Bukharin and the Bolshevik Revolution: A Political Biography: 1888-1938’; London; 1974; p. 279).
and shortly afterwards Smirnoy took the initiative in forming an opposition group. At his public trial in March 1938, the defendant Izaak Zelensky*, a former agent of the tsarist secret service, admitted:
“I joined the Right organisation at the end of 1928 or at the beginning of 1929, . . . I was recruited by A. P. Smirnov.”
(Izaak A. Zelensky: Testimony at 1938 Treason Trial, in: Report of Court Proceedings in the Case of the Anti-Soviet ‘Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites’ (hereafter listed as ‘Report (1938)’) ; Moscow; 1938; p. 325).
The A. P. Smirnov group:
“was Bukharinist in economic outlook.”
(Stephen F. Cohen: op. cit.; p. 348)
but separate from the Bukharinist leadership:
“The top Rightists . . . refused to have anything to do with Smirnov’s plans.”
(Robert Conquest: ‘The Great Terror: Stalin’s Purge of the Thirties’; London; 1968; p. 31).
Their programme included the dissolution of most collective farms, the idependence of the trade unions from Party leadership and the removal of Stalin from the post of General Secretary of the CPSU:
“Their (the A. P. Smnirnov group’s – Ed.) programme seems to have covered . . . the dissolution of most of the kolkhozes, . . . the independence of the trade unions. Above all, they had discussed the removal of Stalin.”
(Robert Conquest: op. cit.; p. 30).
The defendant Izaak Zelensky admitted at the 1938 treason trial that the programme of the A. P. Smirnov group also included wrecking and terrorism:
“At the end of 1931 or the beginning of 1932, Smirnov . . . told me of the new tactics which had been outlined by the centre of the Rights, and which consisted in the following: the use of double-dealing, a conspirative form of organisation, the adoption of tactics of wrecking, diversion, destruction, training insurrectionary cadres, the adoption of terrorism.”
(Ivararokion;, Zelensky: Testimony at 1938 Treason Trial, in: Report (1938); op. cit.; p. 327).
From the outset, the A. P. Smirnov group was underground and illegal:
“Smirnov’s group . . . decided to go underground and formed an independent group known as ‘Bolshevik Workers . .. His first efforts were devoted to the creation of illegal cells in the more important working-class centres and the drawing together of all oppositional elements within the Party.”
(Abdurakhman Avtorkhanov: ‘Stalin and the Soviet Communist Party: A Study in the Technology of Power’; Munich; 1959; p. 193).
“A. P. Smirnov’s group . . . had to a large extent gone underground, with a view to organising for a struggle.”
(Robert Conquest: op. cit.; p. 30).
Among prominent members of the A. P. Smirnov group were Nikolay Uglanov* (discussed in the paper on the Ryutin Affair) and Lev Karakhan* – later exposed as a German agent, as was admitted by defendants in the 1938 treason trial:
“RYKOV: Karakhan reported that the German fascists were, of course, very well disposed towards the prospect of the Right coming into power and would welcome it very much.”
(Report (1938): op. cit.; p. 179).
“VYSHINSKY: Accused Bukharin, were you aware that Karakhan was a participant in the conspiratorial group of Rights and Trotskyites?
BUKHARIN: I was.
VYSHINSKY: Were you aware that Karakhan was a German spy?
BUHARIN: No, I was not aware of that.
VYSHINSKY (TO RYKOV): Were you aware, accused Rykov, that Karakhan was a German spy?
RYKOV: No, I was not.
VYSHINSKY: Were you not aware that Karakhan was engaged in negotiations with certain German circles? .
RYKOV: Yes, yes.
VYSHINSKY: Treasonable negotiations?
RYKOV: Treasonable. .
VYSHINSKY (TO BUKHARIN): Were you aware that Karakhan was engaged in negotiations with the German fascists?
BUKHARIN: I was. .
VYSHINSKY: Did you endorse these negotiations?
BUKHARIN: . . . I did not disavow them; consequently I endorsed them.. . . .
VYSHINSKY: And so, accused Bukharin, you bear responsibility for these negotiations with the Germans?
(Report (1938): op. cit.; p, 401-02, 407, 408).
The importance of the A. P. Smirnoy affair lay, firstly, in the fact that it embraced senior officials who had never before been associated with any opposition:
“The views of A. P. Smirnov and his followers mark an important crux. For we find veteran senior officials who had never been associated with any opposition.”
(Robert Conquest: op. cit.; p. 31).
and, secondly, in the fact that it:
“was supported by important trade union officials.”
(Abdurakhman Avtorkhanov: op. cit.; p. 192.
In January 1933, the A.P. Smirnov group was condemned at a joint plenary meeting of the Central Committee and Central Control Commission of the Party. Bukharin dissociated himself from the group:
“At the plenum, Bukharin . . . made a speech typical of the extravagant and insincere tone which was now conventional in ex-oppositionist statements, demanding ‘the severe punishment of A. P. Smirnov’s grouping.”
(Robert Conquest: op. cit.; p. 31).
A resolution of the Plenum charged the group with forming an underground opposition group:
“Smirnov and others in fact carried on anti-Party activity and opposed the Party policy. They established a factional underground group.”
(Resolution of Joint Plenary Session of Central Committee and Central Control Commission, CPSU (January 1933), in: Abdurakhman Avtorkhanov: op. cit.; p. 194).
“At the January 1933 plenum , . . . the last of the new cycle of plots was exposed. . . . A. P. Smirnov . . . was charged . . . with forming an anti-Party group.”
(Robert Conquest: op. cit.; p. 31).
“The group of . . . A. P. Smirnov . . . was discussed at the meeting of the Central Committee and the Central Control Commission in January 1933. A resolution was adopted condemning the creation of an underground factional group, allegedly dedicated to the disruption of industrialisation and collectivisation and the restoration of capitalism.”
(Roy A. Medvedev: ‘Let History Judge: The Origins and Consequences of Stalinism’; New York; 1971; p.155).
“In January 1933, still another underground opposition cell was unearthed, this one organised by the former Commissar of Agriculture, A. P. Smirnov, . . . They were accused of organising ‘bourgeois degenerates’ to attempt, like the Ryutin group, ‘the restoration of capitalism and in particular of the kulaks.”‘
(Robert V. Daniels: ‘The Conscience of the Revolution’; Cambridge (USA); 1960; p. 380).
Nevertheless, the members of the group:
“were treated leniently.”
(Ian Grey: ‘Stalin: Man of History’; London; 1979; p. 256).
The Plenum removed Smirnov from the Central Committee:
“The joint plenary session of the Central Committee and Central Control Commission therefore resolves to expel Smirnov from the Party Central Committee with a warning that if he fails to gain the confidence of the Party in his work, he will be expelled from the Party.”
(Resolution of Joint Plenary Session of the Central Committee and the Central Control Commission (January 1933). in: Aburakhman Avtorkanov: op. cit.; p. 195).
“Smirnov was removed from the Central Committee, with a warning that expulsion from the Party would follow if his future work did not merit trust.”
(Roy A. Medvedev: ‘Let History Judge: The Origins and Consequences of Stalinism’; New York; 1971; p.155).
“A. P. Smirnov and others. . . . were merely reprimanded by the Central Committee, not expelled from the Party. Smirnov, the only one who had been on the Central Committee, was removed from it and threatened with expulsion from the Party if he did not mend his ways.”
(Robert H. McNeal: ‘Stalin: Man and Ruler’; Basingstoke; 1988; p. 146).
“A. P. Smirnov (was expelled — Ed.) from the Central Committee.'”
(Robert Conquest: op. cit.; p. 31).
Nonetheless Smirnov was expelled from the Party in 1934:
“Smirnov was expelled from the Party in December 1934 . . . for double-dealing and continuing his struggle against the Party.”
Robert Conquest: op. cit.; p. 31).
Early in 1935 Smirnov was arrested, tried for and found guilty of anti-Soviet activity and sentenced to imprisonment. He died in imprisonment in 1938.
“. . Uglanov and others were given jail sentences.”
(Robert Conquest: op. cit.; p. 31).
while Karakhan was tried in 1937 for treason, found guilty and executed:
“On 16 December (1937– Ed.) . . . Karakhan . . . and others had been tried before the Military Collegium of the Supreme Court as spies, bourgeois nationalists and terrorists, had confessed and had been executed.”
(Robert Conquest: op. cit.; p. 272).
Published by: THE MARXIST-LENINIST RESEARCH BUREAU, Ilford, Essex,
KARAKHAN, Lev N., Soviet revisionist lawyer and diplomat (1889-1937); RSFSR People’s Commissar of Foreign Affairs (1918-20, 1922); USSR Ambassador to china (1923-26); USSR Deputy People’s Commissar of Foreign Affairs (l93~ 34); USSR Ambassador to Italy (1934-37); arrested, tried for and found guilty of espionage and treason, sentenced to death and executed (1937).
SMIRNOV, Aleksandr P., Soviet revisionist politician (1877-1938); RSFSR People’s Comissar of Agriculture1 and simultaneously Secretary-General, Peasants’ International (1923-28); RSFSR, Deputy Premier (1928-30); Secretary, Central Committee, CPSU (1928-30); expelled from Party (1934); arrested, tried for and found guilty of anti-Soviet activity and sentenced to imprisonment (1935); died in imprisonment (1938).
UGLANOV, Nikolay A., Soviet revisionist politician (1886-1940); secretary, Petrograd Party Committee (1921-22); secretary, Nizhny Novgorod Party Committee (1922-24); secretary, Moscow Party Committee (1924-28); USSR People’s Commmissar of Labour (1928-30); expelled from Party (1932); reinstated in Party (1934); re-expelled from Party, arrested, tried for and found guilty of anti-Soviet activity, and sentenced to imprisonment (1936); died in imprisonment (1938).
ZELENSKY, Izaak A., Soviet revisionist politician (1890-1938); Secretary, Moscow Party Committee (1920-21, 1924-31); Secretary, Central Asian Party Bureau (1924-31); Chairman, Central Union of Consumer Co-operatives (1931-37); arrested (1937); tried for and found guilty of treason, sentenced to death and executed (1938).
AVTORKHANOV, Abdurakhman: ‘Stalin and the Soviet Communist Party: A Study in the Technology of Power’; Munich; 1959.
COHEN, Stephen F.: ‘Bukharin and the Bolshevik Revolution: A Political
Biography: 1888-1938′; London; 1974.
CONQUEST, Robert: ‘The Great Terror; Stalin’s Purge of the Thirties’; London;
DANIELS, Robert V.: ‘The Conscience of the Revolution’; Cambridge (USA); 1960.
GREY, Ian: ‘Stalin: Man of History’; London; 1979.
McNEAL, Robert H.: ‘Stalin: Man and Ruler’; Basingstoke; 1988.
MEDVEDEV, Roy A.: ‘Let History Judge: The Origins and Consequences of Stalinism’; London; 1972.
ISCHULZ, Heinrich E., URBAN, Paul K. & LEBED, Andrew I. (Eds.): ‘Who was Who in the USSR: ‘Biographic Dictionary’; Methuen (USA); 1972.
Report of Court Proceedings in the Case of the Anti-Soviet ‘Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites’; Moscow; 1938.
Avel Yenukidze* was Secretary of the Presidium of the Soviet Central Executive, Committee i.e., head of the Soviet civil service, from 1918 to 1935. This post put him
“…in charge of the administration and personnel of the Kremlin.”
(Adam B. Ulam: ‘Stalin: ‘The Man and his Era’; London; 1989; p. 396).
Yenukidze had published in 1930 a historical study entitled “Our Illegal Printing Shops in the Caucasus.”
On 16 January 1935, in an article in ‘Pravda’,
“. . . Yenukidze himself revised his biography in the ‘Great Soviet Encyclopedia’ to the effect that it was not he, Yenukidze, who played a role in the foundation of the (Baku Party — Ed.) organisation but a group of other Georgian revolutionaries, including Stalin.”
(Lazar Pistrak: ‘The Grand Tactician: Khrushchev’s Rise to Power’; London; 1961; p. 140-41).
” . . amounted to a confession of grave errors in his own treatment of th; history of the revolutionary movement in Transcaucasia. . . . He had written a short work in 1930 on illegal Bolshevik printing presses in Transcaucasia and had provided himself with highly favourable entries in some reference books.”
(Robert H. McNeal: ‘Stalin: Man and Ruler’; Basingstoke; 1988; p. 111).
In July 1935 Lavrenti Beria* delivered in Tiflis a series of lectures entitled “On the History of the Bolshevik Organisation in Transcaucasia” which were published in book form. Beria claimed that Yenukidze had:
” . . deliberately and with hostile intent falsified the history of the Bolshevik organisations of Transcaucasia in his authorised biography and in his pamphlet ‘Our Illegal Printing Shops in the Caucasus’, cynically and brazenly distorted well-known historical facts, crediting himself with alleged services in the establishment of the first illegal printing shop in Baku. . . .
As we know, in view of the imminent danger that these falsifications and distortions of his would be exposed, A. Yenukidze was obliged to admit these ‘mistakes’ in the columns of ‘Pravda’ on January 16 1935.”
(Lavrenti P. Beria: ‘On the History of the Bolshevik Organisations in Transcaucasia’; London; 1935; p. 35, 36).
” . . . contained an open political denunciation of two prominent Bolsheviks, Yenukidze and Orakhelashvili*. . . . Orakhelashvili tried to protest by writing to Stalin and enclosing the draft of a rebuttal for publication in ‘Pravda.'”
(Dmitri Volkogonov: ‘Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy’; London; 1991; p. 213).
Stalin replied advising Yenukidze to accept that his book contained errors, and merely complain that Beria’s criticism was ‘too harsh’:
“A letter to ‘Pravda’ ought to be printed, but I don’t think the text of your letter is satisfactory. In your place I would take out all its ‘polemical beauty’, all the ‘excursions’ into history, plus the ‘decisive protest’, and I would say simply and briefly that such and such mistakes were made, but that Comrade Beria’s criticism of these mistakes is, let’s say, too harsh and is not justified by the nature of the mistakes. Or something in this vein.”
(Josef V. Stalin: Letter to Mamia Orakhelashvili (July 1935), in: Dmitri Volkogonov: ibid.; p. 213, citing: Central Party Archives at the Institute of Marxism-Leninism, f. 558, op. 1, d. 3179).
” . . . the charges against Yenukidze by Beria and others for his alleged historical mistake played a minor part, if any at all, in Yenukidze’s downfall.”
(Boris Nikolaevsky: ‘Power and the Soviet Elite: “The Letter of an Old Bolshevik” and Other Essays’; New York; 1965; p. 220).
Early in 1935 it was announced that there had been discovered in the Kremlin
” . . . an alleged conspiracy against Stalin, a conspiracy involving a number of Kremlin guards.”
(Adam B. Ulam: p. 396).
On 3 March 1935:
“Yenukidze was relieved from his post in Moscow.”
(Lazar Pistrak: op. cit.; p. 141).
At this time he was:
“blamed, evidently, only for negligence rather than complicity”,
(Adam B. Ulam: op. cit.; p. 396-97).
since his change of position was stated to be due to:
“. . . his promotion to the post of Chairman of the Transcaucasian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic.”
(Lazar Pistrak: op. cit.; p. 141).
The charge against Yenukidze:
” . . . was that he had, in his general supervisory capacity as Secretary of the Central Executive Committee, allowed former aristocrats to take jobs in the Kremlin.”
(Robert Conquest: ‘Stalin: Breaker of Nations’ (hereafter listed as ‘Robert Conquest (1993)’; London; 1993; p. 195).
“. . . promotion’ never materialised.”
(Lazar Pistrak: op. cit.; p. 141)
and on 7 June 1935,
“. . . at the plenary session of the Party Central Committee Yenukidze . . . was expelled from the Party.”
(Lazar Pistrak: ibid.; p. 141)
after being denounced for:
“. . . political and personal dissoluteness’. Over the following weeks, the papers printed violent attacks on him. . . . He was accused of taking ‘enemies’ under his wing — ‘former princes, ministers, courtiers, Trotskyites, etc.; . . . a counter-revolutionary nest’, and in general of rotten liberalism.'”
(Robert Conquest: ‘The Great Terror: Stalin’s Purge of the Thirties’; London; 1969; p. 88-89), citing ‘Pravda’, 16, 19 June 1935).
On 13 June 1935, ‘Pravda’ reported Khrushchev as telling the Moscow Party aktiv:
“The shot which struck Comrade Kirov showed that our enemies stop at nothing. . . . All the necessary deductions should have been drawn from this signal. Yenukidze, however, having lost all the qualities of a Bolshevik, preferred to be a ‘kind uncle’ to the enemies of our Party. . The Party showed great trust in Yenukidze, giving him responsible work to do, . . . but he did not justify that trust. He betrayed the cause of the revolution. He degenerated politically and morally.”
(Nikta S. Khrushchev: Speech to Moscow Party Aktiv (June 1935), in: ‘The Dethronement of Stalin’; Manchester; 1956; p. 11).
On 24 June 1935, Beria publicly denounced Yenukidze:
“Yenukidze turned out to be a traitor to our country and is enduring a well-deserved punishment.”
(Lavrenti Beria: Speech reported in ‘Zaria vostoka'(Eastern Dawn), 24 June 1935, in: Amy Knight: ‘Beria: Stalin’s First Lieutenant’; Princeton (USA): 1993; p. 57).
Yenukidze was arrested in:
(Amy Knight: op. cit.; p. 68).
On 29 December 1937, ‘Pravda’ reported that eight people, including Orakhelashvili and Yenukidze:
” . . . were all sentenced to death in camera for high treason, espionage, subversion and terrorist conspiracy.”
(Gabor T. Rittersporn: ‘Stalinist Simplifications and Soviet Complications: Social Tensions and Political Conflicts in the USSR: 1933-1953’; Reading; 1991; p. 197).
” . . shot.”
(Roy A. Medvedev: ‘Let History Judge: The Origins and Consequences of Stalinism’; London; 1972; p. 197).
It was charged that Orakhelashvili:
” . . . wishing to restore capitalism in Georgia, had committed diversionary acts ‘linked to an imperialist state.'”
(‘Pravda’, 20 December 1936, cited in: Robert Conquest: ‘Inside Stalin’s Secret Police: NKVD Politics: 1936-39; Basingstoke; 1985; p. 52).
In March 1938, the Yenukidze case was referred to several times in the testimony given at the 1938 treason trial.
For example, defendant Aleksey Rykov testified:
“RYKOV: The next period (after the liquidation of the kulaks – Ed.) is characterised by the creation of an exclusively conspiratorial type of organisation and the employment of the sharpest methods of struggle against the Party and the government. This particularly includes one of the attempts that was made to prepare for a ‘palace coup.’
VYSHINSKY: To when does this refer?
RYKOV: This plan aimed to arrest the members of the government in connnection with a violent coup carried out by the conspiratorial organisation. . . . As far as I remember, this idea arose among the Rights in 1933-34. . . . The mainstay of this counter-revolutionary plan was Yenukidze, who had become an active member of the Right organisation in 1933….
For the purpose of carrying out the ‘palace coup’ a centre was formed including the Trotskyites and Zinovievites: Kamenev, Pyatakov, Yenukidze, and also myself, Bukharin and Tomsky.”
(Report of Court Proceedings in the Case of the Anti-Soviet ‘Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites’ (March 1938) (hereafter listed as ‘Trial (1938)’; Moscow; 1938; p. 176-77, 178).
Defendant Nikolay Bukharin* testified:
“BUKHARIN: The inception of the idea of the coup d’etat among us Right conspirators relates approximately to the years 1929-30. . . . It was an idea of a circumscribed coup d’etat, or a ‘palace coup’. . . . Yenukidze, who was personally connected with Tomsky and was frequently in his company, had charge of the Kremlin guard. . . .
Why do I say ‘palace coup’? This means by forces organisationally concentrated in the Kremlin. . .
The forces of the conspiracy were: the forces of Yenukidze plus Yagoda, the organisations in the Kremlin and in the People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs; Yenukidze also succeeded around that time in enlisting, as far as I can remember, the former commandant of the Kremlin, Peterson, who, apropos, was in his time the commandant of Trotsky’s train. . . .
An organisation of a criminal counter-revolutionary conspiracy was created, which included the forces of Yenukidze, of Yagoda, the organisation in the Kremlin, in the People’s Comissariat of Internal Affairs, the military organisation and the forces of the Moscow garrison under the leadership of the conspirators of the military group.”
(Trial (1938): ibid.; p. 394-95, 419, 424-25).
The defendant Pavel Bulanov testified:
“One of the principal roles in the coup, according to him, (Yagoda -Ed.) was to have been played by Yenukidze, and the second . . . fell on his, Yagoda’s shoulders. They had spheres of influence: Yenukidze’s was the Kremlin, and Yagoda’s was the People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs. . . .
Yagoda was very much infatuated with Hitler.
They considered that the armed coup must absolutely be timed to coincide with war. . . . . Yagoda had the closest connections with the leaders of the Rights. He was also connected with the Trotskyites. . . . More than once . . . he gave . . . direct or indirect orders not to proceed with cases against Trotskyites but, on the contrary, to terminate a number of cases against Trotskyites, as well as Rights and Zinovievites.
VYSHINSKY: That is, he shielded them.
BULANOV: I would say that he not only shielded them, but directly assisted their activities.”
(Trial (1938): ibid.; p. 553, 554, 555).
In May 1962, Yenukidze was ‘rehabilitated’ by the revisionist authorities.
The alleged ‘miscarriage of justice’ in the Yenukidze case was attributed to Lavrenti Beria, on which even Boris Nikolaevsky felt compelled to comment:
“Why does ‘Pravda’ publish absurdities about . . . Beria as the chief culprit in Yenukidze’s liquidation? Why this myth about the supposed omnipotence of Beria who, in 1935, was far away in his Party post in Tiflis?”
(Boris Nikolaevsky: op. cit.; p. 224).
Published by: THE MARXIST-LENINIST RESEARCH BUREAU, Ilford, Essex.
BERIA, Lavrenti P., Soviet Marxist-Leninist politician (1899-1953); director, GPU/OGPU, Transcaucasia (1921-31); lst Secretary,. CP Georgia (1931-38); USSR People’s Commissar/Minister of Internal Affairs (1938-46); member, State Defence Committee (1941-45); Marshal (1945); member, Politburo, CPSU (1946-53); USSR Deputy Premier and Minister of Internal Affairs (1953); relieved of all posts and expelled from Party by revisionists (1953); tried by revisionists on false charges of treason and executed (1953).
ORAKHELASHVILI, Ivan (‘Mamia’), Soviet revisionist politician (1881-1937); First Secretary, Transcaucasian Regional Party Committee (1926-29); Premier, Transcaucasia, and 1st Secretary, Transcaucasian Regional Party Committee (1931-32); Deputy Director, Marx-Engels-Lenin Institute (193237); expelled from Party, arrested and transferred to Tiflis (1937); tried for and found guilty of treason and sabotage, sentenced to death and executed (1937).
YENUKIDZE, Avel S., Soviet revisionist engineer and civil servant (1877-1937); head, military department, All-Russian Central Executive Committee (191718); Secretary, All-Russian/USSR Central Executive Committee (1918-35); expelled from Party (1935); arrested (1936); tried for and found guilty of treason and espionage, sentenced to death and executed (1937).
Beria, ‘Lavrenti P.: ‘On the History of Bolshevik Organisations in Transcaucasia’; London; 1951.
Conquest, Robert: ‘Inside Stalin’s Secret Police: NKVD Politics: 1936-39; Basingstoke; 1985.
Conquest, Robert: ‘Stalin: ‘Breaker of Nations’; London; 1995.
Conquest, Robert: ‘The Great Terror: Stalin’s Purge of the Thirties’; London; 1969.
Knight, Amy: ‘Beria: Stalin’s First Lieutenant’; Princeton (USA); 1993.
Medvedev, Roy A.: ‘Let History Judge: The Origins and Consequences of Stalinism: London; 1972.
McNeal, Robert H.: ‘Stalin: Man and Ruler’; Basingstoke; 1988.
Nikolaevsky, Boris: ‘Power and the Soviet Elite: “The Letter of an Old Bolshevik” and Other Essays’; New York; 1965.
Pistrak, Lazar: ‘The Grand Tactician: Khrushchev’s Rise to Power’; London; 1961.
Rittersporn, Gdbor T.: ‘Stalinist Simplifications and Soviet Complications: Social Tensions and Political Conflicts in the USSR: 1933-1953’; Reading; 1991.
Ulam, Adam B.: ‘Stalin: The Man and his Era’; London; 1989.
Volkogonov, Dmitri: ‘Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy’; London; 1991.
______ ‘The Dethronement of Stalin’; Manchester; 1956.
______ Report of Court Proceedings in the Case of the Anti-Soviet ‘Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites’; Moscow; 1938.
In 1930 a new opposition faction emerged in the Party, led by Sergey Syrtsov*, then Chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars (i.e., Prime Minister) of the Russian Federation, Vissarion (‘Beso’) Lominadze*, then 1st. Secretary of the Regional Party Committee in Transcaucasia. Another member of the faction was Ian Sten*. Syrtsov:
“headed the opposition bloc.”
(Heinrich E. Schwarz, Paul K. Urban & Andrew I. Lebed (Eds.): ‘Who was Who in the USSR’; Metuchen (USA); 1972; p. 531).
The faction took organised form after the 16th Party Congress, which was held in June/July 1930.:
“Three small groups are known to have conspired after the 16th Congress to bring about changes in policy. The first group comprised a number of fairly young members. . . . S. I. Syrtsov, the leader of the group, was Prime Minister of the RSFSP.”
(Ian Grey: ‘Stalin: Man of History’; London; 1979; p. 255).
“The bloc relied on the support of many secretaries and other local Comrades. A considerable portion of the younger members of the Central Committee and the Central Control Commission . . . showed open sympathy for the demands made by the bloc. . . The former oppositionists were represented in the bloc by Sten, a former member of the Central Control Commission.”
(Abdurakhman Avtorkhanov: ‘Stalin and the Soviet Communist Party: A Study in the Technology of Power’; London; 1959;p. 19).
The political line of the Syrtsov-Lominadze faction was one of right opposition to the policy of the Party:
“Syrtsov and Lominadze . . . found common ground in opposition to Stalin’s policies.”
(Robert H. Davies: ‘The Syrtsov-Lominadze Affair’, in: ‘Soviet Studies Volume 33, No. 1 (January 1981); p. 29).
It was essentially a rightist line, demanding that the Party adopt a ‘more moderate’ policy:
“Lominadze . . . . began circulating memoranda and lobbying for a more moderate policy.”
(Ronald C. Suny: ‘The Making of the Georgian Nation’; London; 1989; p. 251).
“In the late summer or fall of 1930, Lominadze had the Transcaucasian Regional Committee issue a declaration excoriating ‘the lordly feudal attitude towards the interests of the workers and peasants.”
(Ronald G. Suny: ibid.; p. 243).
Firstly, the faction denounced the Party’s economic policy as “adventurist,” demanding a slowdown in industrialization and a halt to collectivisation. For example, in the autumn of 1930:
“Syrtsov and Lominadze . . . circulated a memoir criticising the regime for economic adventurism.”
(Robert Conquest: ‘The Great Terror’; London; 1973 p. 51).
They declared that since:
“the pace of industrialisation was not supportable by existing physical resources, the number of capital projects must be reduced.”
“Syrtsov wanted a halt to collectivisation.”
(Robert W. Davies: op. cit.; p. 45).
It was at this time that Syrtsov:
“Made a speech calling for reduced rates of industrial investment.”
(Robert H. McNeal: ‘Stalin: Man and Ruler’; Basingstoke; 1988; p. 145).
Secondly, the faction denounced “excessive” centralised economic planning as ‘undemocratic’, and demanded that it be replaced, at least partially, by reliance on market forces. For example:
“In the late summer or fall of 1930, Lominadze had the Transcaucasian Regional Committee issue a declaration excoriating: ‘the lordly feudal attitude towards the needs and interests of the workers and peasants’.”
(Ronald C. Suny: op. cit.; p. 251).
“Closely accorded with the tenor of Syrtsov’s speech.'”
(Robert W. Davies: op. cit.; p. 41).
at the 16th Party Congress, and reflected:
“The common outlook of Syrtsov and Lominadze.”
(Robert W. Davies: ibid.; p. 42).
In place of centralised direction of production, the Syrtsov-Lominadze faction demanded that:
“The excessive centralisation and lack of initiative of the system must be curbed. .
Market incentives must be partly resuscitated.”
(Robert W. Davies: op. cit.; p. 45. 46).
Thirdly, the faction denounced as untrue the Party’s line that the USSR had entered the period of the construction of socialism.
In the Political Report to the 16th Congress in June 1930, Stalin said:
“We have achieved decisive successes in the struggle for the victory of socialist construction.”
(Josef V. Stalin: Political Report of the Central Committee to the 16th Congress of the CPSTU (b) (June 1930), in: ‘Works’, Volume 12; Moscow; 1955; p. 385).
However, later the same year Lominadze was insisting that:
“it is hardly possible to say that we have entered the period of socialism.”
(Vissarion V. Lominadze: in: ‘Problemy ekonomiki’ (Problems of Economics), Nos. 11-12, 1930, p. 4-5. cited in: Robert W. Davies: op. cit.; p. 35).
and Lominadze’s resolution referred to in the last paragraph:
“. . . took on Stalin directly when it challenged his declaration that the USSR had entered the period of socialist reconstruction”,
(Ronald C. Suny: op. cit.; p. 251-52).
Fourthly, from 1932 the faction called for the removal of Stalin as Party leader:
“In 1932 . . . memoranda on the need to depose him (Stalin — Ed.) from the post of General Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party began to circulate in the highest quarters. Instrumental in the campaign to Oust Stalin were the leading Georgian . . . . Beso Lominadze . . . and Syrtsov, Premier of the Russian Federative SSR.”
(David M. Lang: ‘A Modern History of Georgia’; London; 1962; p. 252).
“Memoranda about the need to depose him (Stalin — Ed.) circulated in his immediate entourage. They were signed by Syrtsov and Lominadze.”
(Isaac Deutscher: ‘Stalin: A Political Biography’; London; 1967; p. 333).
The aim of the Syrtsov-Lominadze group was to bring about unity between the left and right oppositions:
“His (Syrtsov’s — Ed.) idea was to bridge the gulf between the left and right opopositions with a group to be known by the incongruous title of ‘Right-“Leftist”‘ bloc’.”
(Ian Grey: op. cit.; p. 255).
However, despite their similar policies, the most influential leaders of the right-wing opposition refused to associate themselves with the Syrtsov-Lominadze faction:
“Syrtsov , , tried to organise resistance (to the Party’s policy –Ed.), while the Right leaders were counselling patience.”
(Robert Conquest: op. cit. p. 206).
“The right-wing leaders did not associate themselves with Syrtsov and Lominadze; and Bukharin, in his declaration to the Central Committee dated 14 November, explicitly condemned the ‘Syrtsov-Lominadze group.”
(Robert W. Davies: op. cit.; p. 45).
“Zinoviev and his colleagues . . . and the Trotskyites . . formed a united bloc at the end of 1932. They had been joined also by the Lominadze group.”
(Robert Conquest: op. cit.; p. 155).
“In 1930 Lominadze visited Syrtsov in Moscow, and for several hours they had a conversation about Party and state affairs. Stalin learned about the conversation.”
(Roy A. Medvedev: ‘Let History Judge: The Origins and Consequences of Stalinism’; London; 1971; p. 142).
According to Trotsky’s “Bulletin of the Opposition”:
“When a search was carried out of Syrtsov’s quarters, minutes of meetings were found which made it possible to uncover the bloc.”
(‘Byelletin Oppozitsy’; (Bulletin of the Opposition), Nos. 17-18 (November/December 1930); p. 39).
“Stalin moved against these opponents (the Syrtsov/Lominadze group –Ed.) in October-December 1930.”
(Robert H. McNeal: op. cit.; p. 145).
On 3 November 1930, Syrtsov was dismissed as Russian Premier, and:
“Demoted to director of a factory producing gramophone records.”
(Roy A. Medvedev: op. cit.; p. 142).
“Lominadze was transferred from the Transcaucasian Regional Committee to work in the Commissariat of Trade, and then was sent to Magnitogorsk as secretary of the city’s Party committee.”
(Roy A. Medvedev: ibid.; p. 142).
On 1 December 1930 a joint resolution of the Political Bureau and Central Control Commission of the Party removed both Syrtsov and Lominadze from the Central Committee of the Party:
“In November-December 1930, the members of this group — Syrtsov, Lominadze, Shatskin, . . . — were publicly branded as ‘rightists and followers of Rykov* and Tomsky*’ and excluded from the Central Committee of the Soviet Communist Party.”
(Babette L. Gross: ‘The German Communists’ United-Front and Popular-Front Ventures’, in: Milorad M. Drachkovich & Branko Lazitch (Eds.): ‘The Comintern: Historical Highlights: Essays, Recollections, Documents’; Stanford (USA); 1966; p. 390-91).
“Syrtsov and . . . Lominadze were stripped of their official posts and thrown off the Central Committee”
(Adam B. Ulam: ‘Stalin: The Man and His Era’; London; 1989; p. 341-42).
The resolution charged Syrtsov with having:
“organised an underground anti-Party group”;
(‘Pravda’, 2 December 1930, in: Robert W. Davies: op. cit.; p. 43).
and Lominadze with having:
“headed for a considerable period a factional anti-Party group.”
(‘Pravda’, 2 December 1930, in: Robert W. Davies: ibid.; p. 43).
According to a “Letter from Moscow” in Trotsky’s ‘Bulletin of the Opposition’:
“Syrtsov, when accused of forming a bloc, bluntly told the Central Committee that Stalin was ‘a thick-headed man who is leading the country to ruin’.”
(‘Byulletin Oppozitsy’ (Bulletin of the Opposition), No. 19, March 1931; p. 18).
At the 17th Party Congress in January/February 1934, Lominadze was one of many former Opposition leaders who made insincere self-critical statements:
“The line they took was one of complete Stalinist orthodoxy, replete with compliments to the General Secretary and abuse of his enemies.”
(Robert Conquest: op. cit.; p. 63-64).
in which he:
“admitted that he had been wrong to dispute Stalin’s claim that the USSR had entered the period of socialism. The bloc . . . had overestimated difficulties.”
(Vissarion Lominadze: Speech at 17th Congress of CPSU, in: Robert W. Davies: ibid.; p. 44).
and admitted engaging in factional activity directed against the Party leadership:
“We concealed our views from the Party, struggled by stealth and entered the path of deception of the Party. . Like every opposition, the Right-‘Leftist’ bloc came out against the leadership of our Party, against the leader of the Party, Comrade Stalin.”
(Vissarion Lominadze: Speech at 17th Congress of CPSU, in: Robert W. Davies: ibid.; p. 44).
In 1935, Syrtsov was arrested, charged with and found guilty of treason, and sentenced to a long term of imprisonment.
By this time, the authorities had come to realise that Lominadze’s self-criticism had not been sincere, and he was summoned to the district capital, Cheliabinsk. Realising that his treasonable activity had been discovered, he committed suicide:
“Beso Lominadze, who had been allowed to redeem himself and had been appointed secretary of the important Magnitogorsk Party committee, suddenly fell from grace. When he was abruptly summoned to Chelyabinsk by the authorities, he shot himself.”
(Ronald C. Suny: op. cit.; p. 271).
Medvedev confirms this:
“Lominadze was summoned to Cheliabinsk. He shot himself in an automobile on the way.”
(Roy A. Medvedev: op. cit.; p. 167).
At his trial, along with Lev Kamenev* and Grigory Zinoviev*, in August 1936, the terrorist Vagarshak Ter-Vaganyan* testified:
“In the autumn of 1931, my very close connection and friendship with Lominadze began. I met Lominadze frequently, and on these occasions we talked about a bloc.
At that period, the Trotskyites began negotiations for union with the Zinovievites and the ‘Leftists’ (i.e., the Syrtsov/Lominadze group -Ed.). . . . The terroristic stand was perfectly clear.”
(‘Report of Court Proceedings: The Case of the Trotskyite-Zinovievite Centre;’ Moscow; 1936; p. 110).
And the defendant Sergey Mrachovsky* named Lominadze as one of the members:
“of the Trotskyite-Zinovievite terrorist centre.”
(‘Report of Court Proceedings: The Case of the Trotskyite-Zinovievite Centre;’ Moscow; 1936; p. 440).
Published by: THE MARXIST-LENINIST RESEARCH BUREAU,
KAMENEV, Lev B., Soviet revisionist politician (1883-1936); Chairman, Moscow Soviet (1919-25); RSFSR Premier (1919); member, Political Bureau (1919-25); RSFSR Deputy Premier (1923); Ambassador to Italy (1926-27); joined ‘United Opposition’ (1926); expelled from Party (1927), readmitted (1928), re-expelled (1932), readmitted (1933), re-expelled (1934); tried for and found guilty of moral complicity in murder of Sergey Kirov and imprisoned (1934); tried for and found guilty of treason and executed (1936).
LOMINADZE, Vissarion (‘Beso’) V., Soviet revisionist politician (1891-1935); secretary, CP of Georgia (1922-24); secretary, Communist Youth International (1925-26); 1st Secretary, Transcaucasian Regional Party Committee (1930); head, Scientific Research Section, USSR People’s Commissariat of Supplies (1931-32); secretary, Magnitogorsk City Party
MRACHOVSKY, Sergey V., Soviet revisionist politician (1888-1930); expelled from Party for factionalism (1927); reinstated in Party and again expelled (1936); arrested, tried, found guilty of treason and executed (1936).
RYKOV, Aleksey I., Soviet revisionist politician (1881-1938); RSFSR People’s Commissar of Internal Affairs (1917); Chairman, Supreme Council of the National Economy (1918-21); RSFSR Deputy Premier (1918-21); member, Political Bureau, CPSU (1922-1930); USSR Premier (1924-30); USSR People’s Commissar of Posts and Telegraphs (1931-36); expelled from Party (1937);
arrested, tried for and found guilty of treason and executed (1938).
SHATSKIN, Lazar A., Soviet revisioist politician (1902-37); 1st Secretary, All-Russian Young Communist League (1918-22); removed from Central Control Commission, CPSU for siding with the Leftist-Rightist bloc (1931); expelled from Party (1935); arrested, tried, found guilty of
treason and imprisoned (1936); died in imprisonment (1937).
STEN, Ian, Soviet revisionist politician (1899-1937); Director, Marx-Engels Institute (1929-32); expelled from Party (1932); arrested (1936); tried for and found guilty of treason and executed (1937).
SYRTSOV, Sergey I., Soviet revisionist politician (1893-1937); editor, ‘Kommunisticheskaia revoliutsya’ (Communist Revolution); Secretary, Siberian Regional Party Committee (1926-29); Premier, RSFSR (1929-30); removed from Central Committee for factionalism (1930); director, Nogin Chemical Plant (1931-36); arrested, tried, found guilty of treason and imprisoned (1936); died in prison (1937).
TER-VAGANYAN Vagarshak A., Soviet revisionist politician (1893-1936); arrested, tried, found guilty of terrorism and executed (1936).
TOMSKY, Mikhail P., Soviet revisionist trade union leader and politician (1880-1936); member, Political Bureau, RCP/CPSU (1922-29); Chairman, All-Russian Central Council of Trade Unions (1921-28); Director, Joint State Publishing House (1928-36); committed suicide to avoid trial for
ZINOVIEV, Grigory E., Soviet revisionist politician (1883-1936); Chairman,
Petrograd Soviet (1917); member, Political Bureau, RCP/CPSU (1921-26); Chairman, Comintern (1919-26); removed from all posts (1926); expelled from Party; arrested, tried for and found guilty of moral complicity in murder of Sergey Kirov and imprisoned (1935); tried for and found guilty of treason, and executed (1936).
Avtorkhanov, Abdurakhman: ‘Stalin and the Soviet Communist Party: A Study in the Technology of Power’; London; 1959.
Conquest, Robert: ‘The Great Terror’; London; 1973.
Davies, Robert W.: “The Syrtsov-Lominadze Affair’, in: ‘Soviet Studies’, Volume 33, No. 1 (January 1981).
Deutscher, Isaac: ‘Stalin: A Political Biography’; London; 1967. Drachkovich, Milorad M. & Lazitch, Branko (Eds.): ‘The Comintern: Historical
Highlights: Essays, Recollections, Documents’; Stanford (USA); 1966. Grey, Ian: ‘Stalin: Man of History’; London; 1979.
Kuromiya, Hiroaki: ‘Stalin’s Industrial Revolution: Politics and Workers’; Cambridge; 1990.
Lang, David N.: ‘A Modern History of Georgia’; London; 1962.
McNeal, Robert H.: ‘Stalin: Man and Ruler’; Basingstoke; 1988,
Medvedey, Roy A.: ‘Let History Judge: The Origins and Consequences of Stalin;’; London; 1971.
Schwarz, Heinrich E., Urban, Paul K. & Lebed, Andrew I. (Eds.): ‘Who was Who in the USSR’; Metuchen (USA); 1972.
Stalin, Josef V.: Political Report of the Central Committee to the 16th Congress of the CPSU(b), in: ‘Works’, Volume 12; Moscow; 1955.
Suny, Ronald C.: ‘The Making of the Georgian Nation’; London; 1989.
Ulam, Adam B.: ‘Stalin: The Man and His Era’; London; 1989.
‘Buylletin Oppositzy’ (Bulletin of the Opposition), Nos. 17-18 (November/December 1930).
No. 19, March 1931.
‘Report of Court Proceedings: The Case of the Trotskyite-Zinovievite Centre’; Moscow; 1936.
In August 1930 Opposition circles circulated a:
“200 page treatise that reflected the Right’s anti-Stalin position and became known in Party circles as the ‘Ryutin Platform'”
(Robert C. Tucker: ‘Stalin in Power: The Revolution from above: 1928- 1941’; London; 1990; p. 211).
The document bore the name of Martemyan Ryutin*, who was at the time:
“Secretary of the Krasnaya Presnya district Party committee in Moscow, a member of the editorial board of ‘Krasnaya Zvezda’ (Red Star) and a candidate member of the Central Committee”,
(Dmitry Volkogonov: ‘Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy’; London; 1991; p. 205).
However, both Bukharin and Rykov, when testifying as defendants in the 1938 Moscow treason trial later admitted, that this was a device to conceal its real authorship by the leadership of the Opposition:
“RYKOV: The platform was called after Ryutin, because it was published by supporters of the Rights, the Ryutin group, from Uglanov’s* Moscow organisation. During the investigation instituted in connection with this platform, this group took the whole responsibility upon itself. This had been decided beforehand, so that we should not be called to account for the platform. We managed to do this thanks to the fact that Yagoda* was at the head of the OGPU”.
(Report of Court Proceedings in the Case of the Anti-Soviet ‘Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites’; Moscow; 1938; (hereafter listed as ‘Report: 1938’); p. 163).
“BUKHARIN: It was called the ‘Ryutin Platform’ for reasons of secrecy. …….in order to conceal the Right centre and its top leadership…… ……The Ryutin platform, . . . the platform of the Right counterrevolutionary organisation, was perhaps already a common platform of the other groups, including the Kamenev*, Zinoviev* and Trotskyite groupings.”
(Report (1938): op. cit.; p. 388, 389).
The Ryutin Platform declared:
“The Right wing has proved correct in the economic field and Trotsky in his criticism of the system in the Party.”
(Martemyan Ryutin: The Ryutin Platform, in: Anton Ciliga: ‘The Russian Enigma’; London; 1940; p. 279).
“Urged the immediate readmission (to the Party — Ed.) of all those expelled, including Trotsky”.
(Martemyan Ryutin: The Ryutin Platform, in: Robert Conquest: ‘The Great Terror: A Re-assessment’; London; 1990 (hereafter listed as ‘Robert Conquest (1990)’; p. 24).
and it described Stalin as:
“The evil genius of the Revolution who, motivated by a personal desire for power and revenge, brought the Revolution to the verge of ruin.”
(Martemyan Ryutin: The Ryutin Platform. in: Boris I. Nikolaevsky: ‘Power and the Soviet Elite: “The Letter of an Old Bolshevik” and Other Essays’; New York; 1965; p. 11).
In December 1930:
“The Presidium of the Central Control Commission of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks) . . expelled Ryutin from the Party for ‘double-dealing’ and ‘discrediting the Party leadership”‘.
(Arkady Vaksberg: ‘The Prosecutor and the Prey: Vyshinsky and the 1930s Moscow Show Trials’;’ London; 1990; p. 56).
In January 1931:
“Ryutin . . . was arrested”,
(Robert Conquest (1990): op. cit.; p. 24).
and charged with:
“Organising a counter-revolutionary group and anti-Soviet agitation.”
(Arkady Vaksberg: op. cit.; p. 57).
“By a resolution of the OGPU board of 17 January 1931, Ryutin was acquitted ‘on account of insufficient proof of the charge brought against him.”
(Arkady Vaksberg: op. cit.; p. 56-57).
“even readmitted to the Party with a warning”.
(Robert Conquest: ‘Stalin: Breaker of Nations’; London; 1991 (hereafter listed as ‘Robert Conquest (1991)’; p. 161).
In June 1932:
“Ryutin and a group of minor officials wrote an ‘Appeal to All Members of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks)’ in the name of an All-Union Conference of the Union of Marxist-Leninists’.”
(Robert Conquest: (1990): op. cit.; p. 24).
This 14-page document, was known as:
(Arkady Vaksberg: op. cit.; p. 332).
In it, Ryutin alleged that:
“lawlessness, arbitrary rule and violence, constant threats are hanging over the head of every worker and peasant. . . . Science literature, art, have been reduced to the status of lowly maidservants and props of Stalin’s leadership. The struggle against opportunism has been debased, caricatured and used as a weapon of slander and terror against independent-minded Party members. The rights of the Party laid down by the Statutes have been usurped by a tiny bunch of unprincipled intriguers.”
(Martemyan Ryutin, in: Arkady Vaksberg: p. 56).
It declared that:
“It is disgraceful and ignominious for proletarian revolutionaries to tolerate Stalin’s yoke, arbitrary rule and the mockery of the Party and the working masses any longer. .
Stalin and his clique are destroying the cause of Communism, and an end must be put to Stalin’s leadership as soon as possible.”
(Martemyan Ryutin, in: Arkady Vaksberg: p. 58).
Thus, the Ryutin Manifesto was:
“Essentially a proclamation calling for the overthrow of Stalin and his clique.”
(Arkady Vaksberg: op. cit.; p. 332).
It declared that:
“Stalin and his clique will not and cannot voluntarily give up their positions, so they must be removed by force . . . as soon as possible.”
(Martemyan Ryutin: The Ryutin Manifesto, in: Robert Conquest (1990): op. cit.; p. 24).
“Stalin interpreted the Appeal as a call for his assassination”;
(Robert Conquest (1990): op. cit.; p. 24).
and defendants in the 1938 Moscow treason trial admitted that the Ryutin Manifesto marked the transition on the part of the Opposition to the tactics of violent counter-revolution and terrorism. According to Aleksey Rykov*, the Ryutin Manifesto
“recognised . . . methods of violence in changing the leadership of the Party and of the country – terrorism and uprisings”,
(Aleksey Rykov: Testimony at 1938 Moscow Treason Trial, in: ‘Report’ (1938); op. cit.; p. 163).
while Nikolay Bukharin* testified that the Ryutin Manifesto:
“registered the transition to the tactics of overthrowing the Soviet power by force.”
(Nikolay Bukharin: ibid.; p. 390).
and that its the essential points:
“were a palace coup’, terrorism”;
(Nikolay Bukharin: ibid.; p. 390).
At a joint meeting of the Central Committee and the Central Control Commission of the CPSU in September/October 1932. the Ryutin group (including Uglanov):
“was expelled from the Party”;
(Robert C. Tucker: op. cit.; p. 211).
“As degenerates who have become enemies of Communism and the Soviet regime, as traitors to the Party and the working class who, under the flag of a spurious Marxism-Leninism’, have attempted to create a bourgeois-kulak organisation for the restoration of capitalism, and particularly kulakism, in the USSR’.”
(Resolution of Joint Meeting of CC and CCC of CPSU, (September/October 1932), in: Robert Conquest (1990): op. cit.; p. 26).
The members of the Ryutin group were then arrested and charged with:
“trying to form a ‘counter-revolutionary bourgeois-kulak organisation’, whose purpose was to restore capitalism in the USSR.”
(Mikhail Heller & Aleksandr Nekrich: ‘Utopia in Power: The History of the Soviet Union from 1917 to the Present’; London; 1986; p. 246).
All the defendants in the Ryutin case were found guilty and:
” . . were . . . given prison terms.”
(Adam B, Ulam: ‘Stalin: The Man and His Era’; London; 1989; p. 349).
“. . got off with a ten-year term.”
(Robert C. Tucker: op. cit.; p. 212).
“Ryutin got ten years.”
(Dmitri Volkogonov: op. cit.;p. 206).
In January 1937, in the light of new evidence, Ryutin — still serving his sentence — was retried before the Military Tribunal of the USSR Supreme Soviet, this time on the more serious charge of treason. (Arkady Vaksberg: op. cit.; p. 333).
Ryutin refused to plead or to speak in his defence:
“According to the records of the proceedings:
‘The accused declared that he did not wish to reply to the question of whether he pleaded guilty and in general refused to give any evidence on the charges brought against him. The accused was given the final word in which he said nothing”.
(Arkady Vaksberg: ibid.; p. 333).
He was found guilty, and this time sentenced to death and executed. (Robert C. Tucker: op. cit.; p. 212).
Published by: THE MARXIST-LENINIST RESEARCH BUREAU, Ilford, Essex.
Ciliga. Anton: ‘The Russian Enigma’; London; 1940.
Conquest, Robert: ‘Stalin: Breaker of Nations’; London; 1991.
Conquest, Robert: ‘The Great Terror: A Re-assessment’; London; 1990.
Heller, Mikhail & Nekrich, Aleksandr: ‘Utopia in Power: The History of the Soviet Union from 1917 to the Present; London; 1986.
Nikolaevsky, Boris I.: ‘Power and the Soviet Elite: “The Letter of an Old Bolshevik” and Other Essays’; New York; 1965.
Tucker, Robert C.: ‘Stalin in Power: The Revolution from above: 1928-1941’; New York; 1990.
Ulam, Adam B.: ‘Stalin: The Man and His Era’; London; 1989.
Vaksberg, Arkady: ‘The Prosecutor and the Prey: Vyshinsky and the 1930s Moscow Show Trials’; London; 1990.
Volkogonov, Dinitri: ‘Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy’; London; 1991.
“Report of Court Proceedings in the Case of the Anti-Soviet Trotskyite Centre; Moscow; 1937,
Report of Court Proceedings in the Case of the Anti-Soviet Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites; Moscow; 1938.
BUKHARIN, Nikolay I., Soviet revisionist journalist and politician (188~ 1938); editor, ‘Pravda’ (191~29); editor, ‘Bolshevik’ (1924-29); member, Political Bureau1 CPSU (1924-29); President, Communist International (1926-29); expelled from Party (1929); readmitted to Party (1934); editor, ‘Izvestia’ (1934-37); arrested (1937); tried for, and found guilty of, treason, and executed (1938).
KAMENEV, Lev B., Soviet revisionist politician (1883-1936); Chairman, Moscow Soviet, and simultaneously member. Political Bureau, RCP/CPSU (1919-25); USSR Ambassador to Italy (192~27); expelled from Party (1927); readmitted to Party (1928); re-expelled from Party (1932); arrested (1935); tried for and found guilty of ‘moral complicity’ in murder of Sergey Kirov and sentenced to imprisonment (1935); tried for and found guilty of actual complicity in murder of Sergey Kirov, and treason, sentenced to death and executed (1936).
RYKOV, Aleksey I, Soviet revisionist politician (1881-1938); Chairman, Supreme Council of National Economy (1918-27); member, Political Bureau, CPSU (1922-30); USSR Premier (1924-29); USSR People’s Commissar of Posts and Telegraphs (1931-36); expelled from Party and arrested (1937); tried for and found guilty of treason, sentenced to death and executed (1938).
RYUTIN, Martemyan, Soviet revisionist economist (1898-1937); District Party Secretary, Irkutsk (1920-26); District Party Secretary, Krasnaya Presnya, Moscow and editor, ‘Krasnaya Zvezda’ (192~30); expelled from Party (1930); acquitted of counter-revolutionary activity and re-admitted to Party (1931); and imprisoned (1931); published ‘Ryutin Manifesto’ for Opposition (1932); re-expelled from Party (1932); arrested, tried for and found guilty of counter-revolutionary activity, sentenced to imprisonment (1932); re-tried for, and found guilty of, treason, sentenced to death and executed (1937).
UGLANOV, Nikolay A., Soviet revisionist politician (1886-1940); secretary, Nizhny Noygorod Party Committee (1922-24); secretary, Moscow Party Committee (1924-28); USSR People’s Commissar of Labour (1928-30); expelled from Party for involvement in Ryutin Case (1932); re-admitted to Party (1934); re-expelled from Party, tried for and found guilty of counter-revolutionary activity, and sentenced to imprisonment (1936); died in imprisonment (1940).
YACODA, Genrikh C., Soviet revisionist politician (1891-1936); USSR People’s Comissar of Internal Affairs (1934-36); arrested (1937); tried for and found guilty of treason, sentenced to death and executed (1938).
ZINOVIEV, Grigory E., Soviet revisionist politician (1883-1936); President, Comunist International (1919-26); member, Political Bureau, RCP/CPSU (1921-26); expelled from Party (1927); re-admitted to Party (1928); re-expelled (1932); re-admitted (1933); re-expelled (1934); arrested (1935); tried for and found guilty of ‘moral complicity’ in murder of Sergey Kirov, and imprisoned (1935); tried for and found guilty of actual complicity in murder of Kirov, and treason, sentenced to death and executed (1938).
One of the greatest inaccuracies spread by the opportunist politicians and the bourgeois intellectuals about Antonio Gramsci is the alleged distance, or even opposition, between his positions and those supported by Lenin and Stalin, and consequently his closeness to the ideas of Trotsky.
The origins of this legend are remote and well orchestrated, beginning with the fascist “Il Messaggero”, which, on May 12, 1937, announcing Gramsci’s death, spoke in an ignorant and cowardly fashion of “his fidelity to Trotsky”.
In the 1960s and 1970s, Gramsci’s “Trotskyism” was the daily bread of revisionist swindlers, which in this way constructed the unworthy and undeserved myth of the alienation or even aversion between the “good” Gramsci and the “evil” Stalin.
In reality, by examining the texts exactly the opposite emerges, namely a coincidence with the Bolshevik positions and a clear criticism of the positions of Trotsky and other opponents of Stalin. So let us now let Gramsci speak.
In his activity of leader and secretary of the Communist Party of Italy
In 1924 Gramsci, in his address to the “Conference of Como”, for the first time sketched a parallel between Bordiga and Trotsky (who also had differences between them), criticizing both:
“Trotsky’s attitude, initially, can be compared to comrade Bordiga’s at present. Trotsky, although taking part ‘in a disciplined manner’ in the work of the party, had through his attitude of passive opposition – similar to Bordiga’s -created a state of unease throughout the Party, which could not fail to get a whiff of this situation. […] This shows that an opposition – even kept within the limits of a formal discipline – on the part of exceptional personalities in the workers’ movement, can not merely hamper the development of the revolutionary situation, but can put in danger the very conquests of the revolution.”
(“The Building of the Communist Party.” English translation from Antonio Gramsci, Selections from Political Writings, 1921-1926, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 1990, pp. 252-3).
In the following year Gramsci, pursuing his struggle for the bolshevization of the Party, asserted that Trotsky’s positions about “American super-capitalism” were dangerous and had to be rejected because,
“postponing the revolution indefinitely would shift the whole tactics of the Communist International […] They would also shift the tactics of the Russian State, since if one postpones the European revolution for an entire historical phase – if in other words, the Russian working class will not for a long time be able to count on the support of the proletariat of other countries – it is evidence that the Russian revolution must be modified.”
(Gramsci, Report to the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Italy, February 6, 1925. Ibid., p. 284.)
Gramsci was always aware of the importance of the struggle against the deviations from Leninism and against factionalism. Therefore, in the same report he stated:
“The resolution should also say that Trotsky’s conceptions, and above all his attitude, represent a danger inasmuch as the lack of party unity, in a country in which there is only one party, splits the State. This produces a counter-revolutionary movement; […] Finally, lessons should be drawn from the Trotsky question for our party. Before the last disciplinary measures, Trotsky was in the same position as Bordiga is at present in our party: he played a purely figurative role in the Central Committee. His position created a tendentially factional situation, just as Bordiga’s attitude maintains an objectively factional situation in our party. […] Bordiga’s attitude, like that of Trotsky, has disastrous repercussions.”
(Ibid., p. 284.)
Again in 1925, on the occasion of the Fifth Plenum of the enlarged Executive Committee of the Communist International, the Italian delegation, led by Gramsci, sided in favor of Stalin’s positions concerning the criticism of Trotsky without reservations.
For Gramsci, the decision to build socialism in the USSR under the conditions of capitalist encirclement was perfectly consistent with the needs of a period characterized by the relative stabilization of capitalism and the ebbing of the revolutionary wave.
Therefore his intransigent criticism of Trotsky, of his strategy of “permanent revolution”, which he considered incorrect, simplistic and insufficient, and his firm commitment to the strategy and politics of the Bolshevik leadership which, as we shall see, he would confirm in his Prison Notebooks.
Gramsci was always concerned for the cohesion of the Russian party, which was needed by the proletariat at both a national and international level.
In those years, in which the divergent positions between the Soviet party headed by Stalin and the Zinovievist and Trotskyist bloc were become programmatic, Gramsci several times warned about the risks of a split which the international bourgeoisie could take advantage of in order to overthrow proletarian power in Russia.
With regard to the struggle engaged in by the CC of RCP (b) against the opposition bloc of Trotsky, Zinoviev and Kamenev, Gramsci wrote:
“In fact, one question is of the greatest importance in the measures jointly adopted by the Central Committee and the Control Commission of the Communist Party of the U.S.S.R.: the defense of the organizational unity of the Party itself. It is evident that, on this ground, no concession or compromise is possible, whoever promotes the work of the disintegration of the Party, whatever the nature and degree of their past merits, whatever the position that they hold at the head of the communist organization. […] So we think that the whole International must gather closely around the Central Committee of the Communist Party of USSR in order to approve of its energy, rigor and resolution in striking implacably at whoever threatens the unity of the Party.”
(Measures of the C.C. of C.P. of the U.S.S.R. in Defence of the Unity of the Party and against the Work of the Faction, in L’Unita, July 27, 1926).
The same concern for the organizational and ideological unity of the Soviet party, and its national and international implications (particularly the struggle that was taking place in Italy for the development of the Party) inspired the famous letter
“To the Central Committee of Soviet Communist Party” written in October of 1926 (published in Antonio Gramsci, Selections…, op. cit. pp. 426-432).
In this letter Gramsci intervened, in the name of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of Italy, in the harsh political battle that was developing in the USSR between the Bolshevik leading group and the Trotskyist- Zinovievist opposition, declaring “basically correct the political line of the majority of the Central Committee of the CPSU”. (ibid., p. 430), headed by Stalin.
Although Gramsci was only partially informed about the Russian situation, his siding with the Leninist majority was vigorous and unequivocal. His accusation against the opposition bloc was very harsh and motivated by a main reason, explained by Gramsci in very clear terms:
“We repeat that we are struck by the fact that the attitude of the opposition [Zinoviev, Kamenev and Trotsky] concerns the entire political line of the Central Committee, and touches the very heart of the Leninist doctrine and the political action of our Soviet party. It is the principle and practice of the proletariat s hegemony that are brought into question; the fundamental relations of alliance between workers and peasants that are disturbed and placed in danger: i.e. the pillars of the workers‘ State and the revolution.” (ibid., p. 431).
Being a fierce supporter of Leninist principles, Gramsci in the same letter harshly criticized
“the root of the errors of the Joint Opposition, and the origin of the latent dangers contained in its activities. In the ideology and practice of the Joint Opposition are born again, to the full, the whole tradition of social- democracy and syndicalism which has hitherto prevented the Western proletariat from organizing itself as a leading class.” (ibid., p. 432).
It is a stance that Gramsci further reinforced in the following letter “Gramsci to Togliatti” (October 26, 1926) (ibid., pp. 437-440), in which, thinking about the slowness of the Bolshevization process inside the Western parties, he wrote:
“The Russian discussion and the ideology of the opposition contribute all the more to this halting and slowing down, in that the opposition represents in Russia all the old prejudices of class corporatism and syndicalism which weigh upon the tradition of the Western proletariat, and delay its ideological and political development.” (Ibid., p. 439.)
And he concluded by pointing out:
“Our letter was a whole indictment of the opposition, not made in demagogic terms, but precisely for that reason more effective and more serious.” (ibid., p. 440).
Therefore an interpretation of these letters that aims to strengthen the idea of a “Trotskyist Gramsci” or a vacillating Gramsci is completely without foundation. It is very clear on which side Gramsci stood in the struggle that developed within the Russian party: on the side of the Bolshevik majority of the Party members.
In the Prison Notebooks
As is well-known, the revisionists assert that in his Prison Notebooks Gramsci does not write about Stalin, except indirectly, and that when he mentions Stalin’s USSR, he does it in a critical way (see, for instance, the thesis of G. Vacca in L ‘URSS staliniana nell ‘analisi dei Quaderni del carcere [Stalin’s USSR in the analysis of the Prison Notebooks] in Gorbacev e la sinistra europea [Gorbachev and the European Left], Rome 1989, p. 75).
These are unscrupulous lies and deceptions, because the passages in Prison Notebooks that deal with Soviet socialism are all in favor of Lenin and Stalin and against Trotsky.
There are four questions that Gramsci examines in his Notebooks in order to defend Bolshevism and criticize Trotsky: 1) The theory of the permanent revolution; 2) The stages of the revolution, and the consequent strategy and tactics; 3) The industrialization in the USSR; 4) The relation between internationalism and national policy.
Let us now examine the corresponding notes in the Prison Notebooks, on the basis of the edition prepared by the International Gramsci Society (IGS) (the text corresponds to the critical edition edited by V. Gerratana and published by Einaudi in 1975).
In square brackets we insert the necessary explanations of the pseudonyms (for instance, in the Notebooks Lenin is called Ilyich, Stalin is named Vissarionovich, Trotsky is sometimes called Bronstein, sometimes Leon Davidovich) and rewordings used by Gramsci in order to elude the fascist censorship.
1. Gramsci already wrote about Trotsky in Notebook 1, §44, at the end of an important note entitled “Political class leadership before and after assuming government power”. Inspired by the historic events of the Italian Unification, he referred to the enormous and unprecedented challenges that the Soviet government had to face. In this note Gramsci dealt directly with the Trotskyist slogan of the “permanent revolution”:
“As regards the ‘Jacobin‘ slogan which Marx directed at the Germany of 1848-49 [the idea of uninterrupted revolution], its complex fortunes should be examined. Revived, systematized, elaborated, intellectualized by the Parvus-Bronstein [Helphand-Trotsky] group, it proved inert and ineffective in 1905 and afterward: it was an abstract thing that belonged to the scientific laboratory. The tendency which opposed it [Bolshevism] in this intellectualized form, however, without using it ‘intentionally’, in fact employed it in its historical, concrete, living form adapted to the time and place as something that sprang from all the pores of the society which had to be transformed, as the alliance of two classes [working class and peasants] with the hegemony of the urban class [the working class]”.
(Antonio Gramsci, Prison Notebooks, Columbia University Press, 1992-, Vol. 1, p. 151.)
According to Gramsci, modern “Jacobinism” expressed itself above all in a policy of alliance with the peasantry, under the hegemony of the working class. So Gramsci evaluated the correct Bolshevik policy conducted by Stalin against the Trotskyist thesis of the “permanent revolution”. This thesis underestimated the importance of the poor peasants as a revolutionary force, and expressed complete distrust in the ability of the proletariat to lead all the exploited and oppressed people in the revolution, until it arrived at the impossibility of building socialism in one single country.
The note ends with a very harsh accusation against Trotsky, who is compared with the reactionary bourgeois Crispi:
“In the one case [Trotsky], a Jacobin temperament without the adequate political content, typified by Crispi; in the second case [Bolshevism], a Jacobin temperament and content in keeping with the new historical relations, rather than adhering to an intellectualistic label.” (Ibid., p. 151.)]
It is interesting to observe that Gramsci took up this same note almost completely in Notebook 19, written in 1934-35, that is, after the definitive break with Trotskyism.
Gramsci returned to the question of the “permanent revolution” in Notebook 7, §16, in a famous note titled “War of position and war of maneuver, or frontal war”:
“One should determine whether Bronstein’s [Trotsky] famous theory about the permanence of movement is not a political reflection of the theory of the war of maneuver (remember the observation by the Cossack general Krasnov); whether it is not, in the final analysis, a reflection of the general-economic-cultural-social conditions of a country in which the structures of national life are embryonic and unsettled and cannot become ‘trench or fortress. ‘In that case one might say that Bronstein, while appearing to be ‘Western,‘ was in fact a cosmopolitan, that is, superficially national and superficially Western or European. Ilyich [Lenin], on the other hand, was profoundly national and profoundly European. In his memoirs, Bronstein recalls somebody saying that his theory had proved true… fifteen years later; he responded to the epigram with another epigram. In reality his theory, as such, was good neither fifteen years earlier nor fifteen years later.” (Ibid., Vol. 3, p. 168.)
After having opposed Lenin to Trotsky, Gramsci added:
“Bronstein’s theory can be compared to that of certain French syndicalists on the general strike and to Rosa’s [Luxemburg] theory in the little book translated by Alessandri. Rosa’s book and theory, moreover, influenced the French syndicalists.” (Ibid., Vol. 3, p. 169.)
2. In his reflections, Gramsci linked the question of the “permanent revolution” to the question of the transition from the “war of maneuver” to the “war of position”. In particular, after the defeat of the revolution in Germany in 1923, and the transition of the worker movement to defensive positions, Gramsci was convinced that the problem of the development of the revolutionary process in Europe had to be redrawn up, understanding the reasons of the temporary ebb and establishing revolutionary tasks appropriate for the new phase.
The observation contained in Notebook 6, §138 is dedicated to this fundamental strategic and tactical question:
“Past and present. Transition from the war of maneuver (and frontal assault) to the war of position – in the political field as well. In my view, this is the most important post-war problem of political theory; it is also the most difficult problem to solve correctly. This is related to the issues raised by Bronstein [Trotsky], who, in one way or another, can be considered the political theorist of frontal assault, at a time when it could only lead to defeat.” (Ibid., Vol. 3, p. 109.)
Facing the complex problem of the alternative, or rather of the combination, between “assault tactics” and “siege tactics”, which had been discussed in the Communist International, Gramsci started from a consideration of extraordinary importance, systematically ignored by the revisionists and reformists: “All this indicates that we have entered into the highest phase in the political-historical situation, since in politics the ‘war of position ‘, once won, is definitively decisive.”
On the basis of this consideration, that Gramsci realized by analyzing the profound crisis of the ability of the bourgeoisie to lead and govern, as well as the greater resistance of the State apparatus in the West and the existence of large intermediate social groups, he added in Notebook 7, §16:
“In my view, Ilyich [Lenin] understood the need for a shift from the war of maneuver that had been applied victoriously in the East in 1917, to a war of position, which was the only viable possibility in the West […] This, I believe, is the meaning of the term ‘united front’ [.] Ilyich, however, never had time to develop his formula. One should also bear in mind that Ilyich could only have developed his formula on a theoretical level, whereas the fundamental task was a national one; in other words, it required a reconnaissance of the terrain and an identification of the elements of trench and fortress represented by the components of civil society, etc.” (Ibid., Vol. 3, p. 168-169.)
We are here in the heart of the research program that Gramsci developed in the Notebooks. But there was another key aspect of the strategic and tactical methods determined by the historically created relations of forces: that of the Soviet Union. Regarding this question, Gramsci wrote (Notebook 6, §138):
“The war of position calls on enormous masses of people to make huge sacrifices; that is why an unprecedented concentration of hegemony is required and hence a more ‘interventionist’ kind of government that will engage more openly in the offensive against the opponents and ensure, once and for all, the ‘impossibility’ of internal disintegration by putting in place controls of all kinds – political, administrative, etc., reinforcement of the hegemonic positions of the dominant group, etc.” (Ibid., Vol. 3, p. 109.)
It is an open support of Stalin’s line, for the reinforcement of the proletarian dictatorship, a political line that “requires exceptional qualities of patience and inventiveness”, but was the only successful one in that concrete historic situation. A political line diametrically opposed to that of Trotsky.
3. As we have seen, a fundamental aspect of the “war of position” was the defense of Soviet power and the building of socialism. In this last case too, acute problems did arise. The criticism expressed by Gramsci at the beginning of a famous note (Notebook 4, §52) is extremely interesting:
“Americanism and Fordism. The tendency exhibited by Leon Davidovich [Trotsky] was related to this problem. Its essential content was based on the ‘will’ to give supremacy to industry and industrial methods, to accelerate the growth of discipline and orderliness in production through coercive means, to adapt customs to the necessities of work. It would have ended up, necessarily, in a form of Bonapartism; hence it was necessary to break it up inexorably.” (Ibid, Vol. 2, p. 215.)
Gramsci here takes into account one of the crucial questions of the harsh debate that involved the RCP(b) and the Communist International in the 1920s: the question of the forms and rhythms of industrialization and the NEP.
According to Gramsci, Trotsky is the highest representative of a harmful tendency, a kind of “Americanism”, based on coercion, command and the military systems.
That is, the forced and accelerated introduction of forms of production, modes of life and culture tied to the needs of private capital (in fact Gramsci recalled “‘Leon Davidovich’s interest in Americanism. His interest, his articles, his studies on “byt” [life, mode of living] and on literature”. (Ibid, Vol. 2, p. 215.)
In the same note Gramsci affirmed that “the principle of coercion in the sphere of work was correct […] but the form it assumed was wrong.” (Ibid, Vol. 2, p. 215.)
Therefore it was a position incompatible with Leninism, a position which contradicted the “temporary retreat” of the NEP and would lead to the breakup of the alliance with the peasantry and to the ruin of Soviet power. So it was a tendency that had to be smashed, as it would have led to the restoration of capitalism.
Gramsci never evinced doubts on this matter. In fact, on two other occasions he explained and approved of the elimination of Trotsky: in Notebook 14 §76, marking the elimination of Trotsky like “‘an episode of the liquidation “also” of the “black” parliamentarism which existed after the abolition of the “legal” parliament” (Selections from the prison notebooks of Antonio Gramsci, International Publisher, New York, 1971, p. 256); and in Notebook 22 (that can be dated to 1934), when, referring to Trotsky’s tendency, he repeated “the inexorable necessity of crushing it”. (Ibid., p. 301).
4. Last but not least, let us look at the note in Notebook 14, §68, in which Gramsci, taking as his starting point the speech of Stalin at Sverdlov University in Moscow (June 9, 1925 – see note at the end of the article), directly contrasting Stalin (Vissarionovich) and Trotsky (Davidovich).
Gramsci writes, deeply examining the question of the relation between internationalism and national policy:
“A work (in the form of questions and answers) by Joseph Vissarionovitch [Stalin] dating from September 1927: it deals with certain key problems of the science and art of politics. The problem which seems to me to need further elaboration is the following: how, according to the philosophy of praxis [Marxism] (as it manifests itself politically) – whether as formulated by its founder [Marx] or particularly as restated by its most recent theoretician [Lenin] – the international situation should be considered in its national aspect. In reality, the internal relations of any nation are the result of a combination which is ‘original’ and (in a certain sense) unique: these relations must be understood and conceived in their originality and uniqueness if one wishes to dominate them and direct them. To be sure, the line of development is towards internationalism, but the point of departure is ‘national‘ – and it is from this point of departure that one must begin. Yet the perspective is international and cannot be otherwise. Consequently, it is necessary to study accurately the combination of national forces which the international class [the proletariat] will have to lead and develop, in accordance with the international perspectives and directives [i.e. those of the Comintern]. [.] It is on this point, in my opinion, that the fundamental disagreement between Leo Davidovich [Trotsky] and Vissarionovitch [Stalin] as interpreter of the majority movement [Bolshevism] really hinges. The accusations of nationalism are inept if they refer to the nucleus of the question. If one studies the majoritarians’ struggle from 1902 up to 1917, one can see that its originality consisted in purging internationalism of every vague and purely ideological (in a pejorative sense) element, to give it a realistic political content.” (Ibid., p. 240-241.)
It is clear as day that Gramsci, tracing the “fundamental disagreement” between Trotsky/Davidovich and Stalin/ Vissarionovitch, shared Stalin’s position, the interpretation of Bolshevism that, in Gramsci’s opinion, correctly put forward and resolved the problem of the combination of national forces that the international class must lead and develop in the perspective of world communism.
One of the best Bolsheviks
In the light of the texts, an interpretation of Gramsci’s thought in a Trotskyist sense is groundless. On the contrary, from Gramsci’s work, including the reflections contained in the Prison Notebooks, there emerges a ruthless criticism of Trotsky.
In all the passages where Gramsci writes about Trotsky the content is always one of a harsh polemic. At the same time, Gramsci positively appraised the positions of Lenin and Stalin; he approved the whole of the Bolshevik policy, including those features that the bourgeoisie and revisionists include in the misleading concept of “totalitarianism”.
There is no text or speech, neither in freedom nor in prison, in which Gramsci expressed a negative opinion much less denigrated the leadership of the Bolshevik Party and comrade Stalin.
The manipulators of modern revisionism, the magicians of “socialism of the 21st century” and all the bourgeois and reactionary intellectuals are completely refuted.
Antonio Gramsci was a great revolutionary leader of the proletariat, a giant of communist thought and action, who always fought against anti-Leninist deviations, who always defended the dictatorship of the proletariat, the system of working-class democracy embodied in the Councils (Soviet), against the false bourgeois democracy and its social-democratic variants (such as today’s “participatory democracy”). He always insisted on the necessity of a revolutionary transformation of the whole of society through the smashing of the bourgeois State, and always remained faithful to Marxism-Leninism and to proletarian socialism, until the last day of his life.
As the Communist International wrote on the occasion of his death, caused by long years of fascist imprisonment and cruelty: “‘Closely linked to the masses, capable of learning in the school of the masses, able to understand all aspects of social life, an unyielding revolutionary, faithful to his last breath to the Communist International and to his own Party, Gramsci leaves to us the memory of one of the best representatives of the generation of Bolsheviks who grew up in the ranks of the Communist International in the spirit of the doctrine of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin, in the spirit of Bolshevism.” (Communist International, July, 1937, 435-436.)
To rescue Antonio Gramsci, the great communist leader, from the claws of the bourgeoisie, the revisionists and opportunists is an important task for the revolutionary proletariat.
Communist Platform (Italy)
Note: Stalin’s speech, titled Questions and Answers (Works, Vol. 7), was translated into Italian and published in serial form by “L’Unita” in 1926. Gramsci, quoting by memory in jail, by mistake confused the date of that speech with the date (September 1927) of Stalin’s Interview with the First American Labor Delegation, that was also in the form of questions and answers (Works, Vol. 10), of which Gramsci had read an account in a magazine while he was in jail.
The change of dates was not noticed by the editor of the critical edition of Prison Notebooks, Valentino Gerratana, who perpetuated the mistake with a misleading commentary.
Instead it is clear that Gramsci was referring to the Questions and Answers of 1925 (see particularly Stalin’s reply to questions II and IX).
“Without revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement.”
-- V.I. Lenin
"No force, no torture, no intrigue can eradicate Marxism-Leninism from the minds and hearts of men."
-- Enver Hoxha
"If you do not condemn colonialism, if you do not side with the colonial people, what kind of revolution are you waging?"
-- Ho Chi Minh
“Every departure from class struggle has fatal results for the destiny of socialism.”
-- Enver Hoxha
"A nation which enslaves another forges its own chains."
-- Karl Marx
"Private property must, therefore, be abolished and in its place must come the common utilization of all instruments of production and the distribution of all products according to common agreement - in a word, what is called the communal ownership of goods."
-- Friedrich Engels
"The entire party and country should hurl into the fire and break the neck of anyone who dared trample underfoot the sacred edict of the party on the defense of women's rights."
-- Enver Hoxha, 1967
"Today, in fact, ‘Stalinism’ has become a meaningless term of abuse employed to denote political views with which one disagrees."
-- Bill Bland
"If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor."
-- Desmond Tutu
“The class struggle does not disappear under the dictatorship of the proletariat; it merely assumes different forms... The class of exploiters, the landowners and capitalists, has not disappeared and cannot disappear all at once under the dictatorship of the proletariat. The exploiters have been smashed, but not destroyed. They still have an international base in the form of international capital, of which they are a branch. They still retain certain means of production in part, they still have money, they still have vast social connections."
-- V.I. Lenin, 1919
"We are marching in a compact group along a precipitous and difficult path, firmly holding each other by the hand. We are surrounded on all sides by enemies, and we have to advance almost constantly under their fire. We have combined, by a freely adopted decision, for the purpose of fighting the enemy, and not of retreating into the neighbouring marsh, the inhabitants of which, from the very outset, have reproached us with having separated ourselves into an exclusive group and with having chosen the path of struggle instead of the path of conciliation. And now some among us begin to cry out: Let us go into the marsh! And when we begin to shame them, they retort: What backward people you are! Are you not ashamed to deny us the liberty to invite you to take a better road! Oh, yes, gentlemen! You are free not only to invite us, but to go yourselves wherever you will, even into the marsh. In fact, we think that the marsh is your proper place, and we are prepared to render you every assistance to get there. Only let go of our hands, don’t clutch at us and don’t besmirch the grand word freedom, for we too are ‘free’ to go where we please, free to fight not only against the marsh, but also against those who are turning towards the marsh!"
-- Lenin, “What is to be Done?”
"I have not brought you liberty, I found it here, among you."
-- George Kastrioti "Skanderbeg"
"[The children's] life will be better than ours; much of what was our life, they will not experience. Their lives will be less cruel. [...] Our generation has succeeded in doing a job of astounding historical importance. The cruelty of our life, forced upon us by conditions, will be understood and justified. It will all be understood, all of it!"
-- V.I. Lenin
"There is one, and only one, kind of real internationalism, and that is—working whole-heartedly for the development of the revolutionary movement and the revolutionary struggle in one’s own country, and supporting (by propaganda, sympathy, and material aid) this struggle, this, and only this, line, in every country without exception."
-- V.I. Lenin, 1917
"When the enemy attacks you, it means you are on the right road."
-- Enver Hoxha
"You'll hang me now, but I am not alone. There are two hundred million of us. You can't hang us all."
-- Zoya Anatolyevna Kosmodemyanskaya
"The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution was neither a revolution, nor great, nor cultural, and, in particular, not in the least proletarian."
-- Enver Hoxha
"Marxism is not only the theory of socialism, it is an integral world outlook, a philosophical system, from which Marx’s proletarian socialism logically follows. This philosophical system is called dialectical materialism.”
-- J. V. Stalin, “Anarchism or Socialism?”
"You speak of Sinified socialism. There is nothing of the sort in nature. There is no Russian, English, French, German, Italian socialism, as much as there is no Chinese socialism. There is only one Marxist-Leninist socialism."
-- J.V. Stalin, 1949
“Nixon is to go to Peking! We are not in agreement. Therefore I think we should write to the Chinese a letter saying that we are opposed to this decision. Nixon is an aggressor, a murderer of peoples, an enemy of socialism — especially of Albania, which the USA has never recognised as a people’s democratic state and against which it has hatched a thousand plots. The invitation to Nixon will benefit imperialism and world reaction, and will gravely harm the new Marxist-Leninist Parties which have looked upon China and Mao Tse-tung as the pillar of the revolution and as defenders of Marxism-Leninism."
-- Enver Hoxha
"It is only the working class at the head of the masses, it is only the working class headed by its real Marxist-Leninist party, it is only the working class through armed revolution, through violence, that can and must bury the traitorous revisionists."
-- Enver Hoxha
“There were two ‘Reigns of Terror,’ if we would but remember and consider it; the one wrought murder in hot passion, the other in heartless cold blood; the one lasted mere months, the other lasted a thousand years; the one inflicted death upon ten thousand persons, the other upon a hundred millions; but our shudders are all for the “horrors” of the minor Terror, the momentary Terror, so to speak; whereas, what is the horror of swift death by the guillotine, compared with lifelong death from hunger, cold, insult, cruelty, and heart-break? What is swift death by lightning compared with death by slow fire at the stake? A city cemetery could contain the coffins filled by that brief Terror which we have all been so diligently taught to shiver at and mourn over; but all France could hardly contain the coffins filled by that older and real Terror—that unspeakably bitter and awful Terror which none of us has been taught to see in its vastness or pity as it deserves.”
— Mark Twain, "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court"
There is no Israel. There is only Palestine and occupied Palestine.